Editor Note: This article is a double feature and can be found here on 60cards as well.
Alright, let us get the decklist so everyone can bash it and decide to hate it.
At least this is the current version of it. There were several versions before this. Mono-white and Mono-blue varieties. The real question about this deck is can it win? Truth be told is that I have not yet played this in any tournament at all. I HAVE done some testing with it though. I will admit that it isn’t great….all the time. There are some draws that just smash everyone, but most off the wall decks can say this can’t they?
So what do you want to see? The best scenarios are turn 3 Batterskulls and turn 4 Karns. Most of the games I played were actually won by poison as, much like the Mono-White Control list from Flores, a single scratch from an Inkmoth Nexus leads to a proliferated death. The first “scratch” is really more of a gouge though, as the Nexus typically has a Batterskull attached to it by the time I would go for it.
“How does this pile achieve these things?” is what I imagine people are thinking, which isn’t very generous, but I have to transition somehow! While hitting land drops, I really want to see turn 1 Surge Node into turn 2 Everflowing Chalice. This sets up for five mana on turn 3 and seven mana on turn 4.
The name of the game is surviving long enough to take over. Karn takes over, but even as big as he is he needs some help to survive. All is Dust and Day of Judgment are all about surviving. Tectonic Edge clears out the man-lands and Karn laughs in the face of other walkers.
I still haven’t decided if it is better to go for the restart button or to just use him as a repeatable Vindicate. I have played it both ways and both are pretty strong since the opponent has to respect Karn no matter which plan is being used. Of course, it all depends on what Karn catches with his exile abilities as well.
The next question I hear in my head, for some reason I’m fine with hearing voices in my head, is, “Why build this in the first place?”
The answer is pretty straightforward. I wanted play with Karn. I started with Mono-Green, after so many people saw him fitting in there, but it just didn’t seem to work. My next thought was the Mono-White list that had shown up a little bit here and there pre-NPH. What really cemented the idea for me though was Surge Node. Surge Node working with Everflowing Chalice just makes me smile. The turn 3 Batterskull without any Stoneforge Mystic help is a thing of beauty and every time I pull it off I get a cheesy grin that cuts through any stone poker face I can keep. It feels like I am a bad guy stabbing the other bad guys in the back.
It is very easy to reach mana levels that just make Mana Leak and Spell Pierce obsolete. Surviving that long is the only question. If they have the counter on a turn when you need the sweep to resolve, or if you just don’t find one, well…you lose.
The Blue Sun’s Zenith can either dig you back into the game or it can lock it up for you when you are ahead. This being said, I’m not sure about them and truthfully I’m not sure about several things. The list feels like it needs tuning still. I’m not too sure about several spots. The Elixirs seem like they should be something else, but the life gain is relevant with phyrexian mana (I almost never pay the blue for Gitaxian Probe). The Batterskulls help with this but the Elixir is a tad more reliable as there is no creature attached.
The sideboard is in more flux than the rest of the deck. If no counters wind up in the deck then there will be some in the sideboard without a doubt. Right now I bluff the countermagic in the first game and have been siding them in against other blue decks. After this, the rest of the sideboard would depend on what I feel the metagame would look like.
As I said, I played several games where it just seemed like my opponent had no chance. This was against the field, excepting the Splinter Twin deck which is super rough Game One. Of course there were also games where I did nothing but play with my artifacts while the other guy killed me. The key to avoiding this is simply to mulligan correctly. Almost any hand will “get there” with a Chalice or two and something to do with them.
Don’t be afraid to use a Day on a single active Stoneforge. Even if they sneak a Batterskull in the germ token will die with it. Your own germ tokens are sacrificial as well.
As I said, this deck needs a lot of love still. So what do you think? What would you change or would you scrap it? Let me know
*Some things that have come up that warrant information being added to the article:
I was thinking about a miser copy of WSZ (or maybe more than one) as, just like with the Blue Zenith, it can be used even without the overwhelming mana to help you out. I’m not sure about it yet as I just haven’t hit it much in the testing with it.
Preordain- It was originally in the deck but it just didn’t seem necessary and Preordaining into a sweeper but being one mana short was very aggravating in the early game. I am very likely wrong about not having it in there though.
Probe-The Peek effect is actually very relevant. It lets you know if it is safe to go for anything early (like getting that scratch with Nexus) and helps to make a plan for the game going long. This is pretty vital with just trying to survive. Sure, sometimes you use it just to cycle a card but not usually.
While playing it (and building incidentally) I do not plan to win through poison. You play it to win with Batterskull damage, usually after a Karn reset (starting with Batterskull in play). This would be after Batterskull shenanigans of bouncing and replaying…really just playing an attrition using the Batterskulls and your large amount of mana. In playing the attrition game the Zenith and Elixir are all stars.
Playing it to win after a reset, it just so happened that a lot of times I would be set up to win by Poison faster than if I reset the game. The other way is to use what you exiled with Karn (their walkers, their creatures, etc) after the reset. My original Mono-Blue version had a single Blue Praetor to help close out the game (plus my inner Timmy got a hard on at the thought of restarting a game with him out). It might be worth it to fit Elesh Norn or Jin-Gitaxias in here somewhere.
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