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    Magic Online Deck Building Strategies

My Prismatic Tournament Deck

I have to admit, I'm a HUGE fan of the Prismatic format. I find myself regularly disappointed when I try to search out any kind of current information on this awesome format. Wizards of the Coast seemed to have forgotten about Prismatic. If you search their website the last article is from June 22, 2006 and that is only if you consider a posting of the Banned List as an article. You can find a few decklists posted on the site, granted they are dated and even when those decks were current--they were something past awful. Now, I don't consider myself a "Netdecker", but I do like to see what's going on in "said" formats metagame. When I first heard about the Prismatic format I was enthralled. I mean, c'mon...who wouldn't want to play a 250 card deck? (Yes, I have multiple Battle of the Wits decks). If you play Sanctioned tournaments, then you have seen that one guy who has a 6 foot stack as a deck. "That guy" is at every tournament, every city and you know what? God Bless him! The story of his deck will have reached everyone by the end of the first round. We may chuckle, gawk, or just point and laugh. I've been guilty of every one of those states. I've also been guilty of thinking how cool it would be to be "that guy" just once.

Fast forward to today, you still can't find any articles, decks--nary a mention of Prismatic on Wizards site but I am now a "seasoned vet" of the Prismatic tournament scene. I've played in numerous tournaments and made a handful of Top 8 appearances. The last 2 Prismatic Tournaments September 10 & 17th, I finished in 3-4th place. Unfortunately, I didn't play the exact same deck in both tournaments, so I cannot show you the deck I played on September 10th. I can however, show you the deck I played on September 17th! The deck I played for both tournaments have the same idea behind them, but the one I played on the 17th is just a better, more tweaked version based on what I've seen. I do want to note that the tournament on the 10th was the first Prismatic tournament to actually fire in months. So, I don't think alot of players knew what to expect. So I'd assume every one played their "safe" deck. This may also have been the first sanctioned Prismatic tournament since the latest rash of bannings, the one including the Mirage tutors. I guess now would be a good time to post the most up-to-date banned list.

Prismatic Banned List:

Battle of Wits
Bribery
Bringer of the Black Dawn
Buried Alive
Burning Wish
Congregation at Dawn
Cunning Wish
Diabolic Tutor
Eladamri's Call
Enduring Ideal
Enlightened Tutor
Entomb
Fabricate
Gifts Ungiven
Insidious Dreams
Living Wish
Merchant Scroll
Mystical Tutor
Quiet Speculation
Rude Awakening
Skullclamp
Sterling Grove
Sundering Titan
Tooth and Nail
Upheaval
Vampiric Tutor
Wild Research
Worldly Tutor


So, now we know what we can't play with...so time to focus on what we can! Like I said earlier, this deck underwent minor tweaks so I will try to add notes where I can and note other cards I tried in certain slots.


28 Card Draw:

x4 Brainstorm

x4 Sensei's Divining Top

x4 Dark Confidant

x4 Night's Whisper

x4 compulsive Research

x4 Fact or fiction

x4 Etched Oracle


Yes, I know this seems like nowhere near enough card drawing and I agree with you. It isn't on its own, but when you add the cantrip effects of Fire/Ice and Sword of Fire and Ice it actually brings us up to 36 ways to draw cards or 14% of the deck. Before you question Dark Confidant, see the rest of the deck.


24 Creature Removal:

x4 Swords to Plowshares

x4 Terminate

x4 Mortify

x4 Putrefy

x4 Vindicate

x4 Flametongue Kavu


In addition to these 24 spells, we also have Umezawa's Jitte and Sword of Fire and Ice to handle creatures.


28 Burn Spells:

x4 Firebolt

x4 Grim Lavamancer

x4 Fire/Ice

x4 Lightning Helix

x4 Goblin Legionnaire

x4 Tribal Flames

x4 Incinerate

Don't forget the x4 Swords of Fire and Ice as they can be considered BOTH burn and card drawing.


12 Equipment/Power Ups (?):

x4 Umezawa's Jitte

x4 Sword of Fire & Ice

x4 Elephant Guide


The Elephant Guides were added to the 2nd deck. Originally, I ran this configuration: x3 Jitte, x4 Sword of Fire and Ice and x3 Moldervine Cloak. Elephant Guide over Moldervine Cloak was a personal choice, both are great cards but I valued the 3/3 Elephant token the Guide gives us over the Dredge ability of Moldervine Cloak. I also playtested Armadillo Cloak and like the other two its awesome. Apples and oranges here. I can say I like x4 Jitte and x4 Sword of Fire and Ice, after that it's a toss up between three awesome creature enchantments.


4 Artifact/Enchantment Removal:


x4 Trygon Predator


Essentially we have 16 ways to deal with pesky Enchantments and Artifacts since we already have 4 each of: Mortify, Putrefy & Vindicate. The sideboard has additional answers.


4 Recursion:


x4 Eternal Witness


Nuff said.


4 Life Gain:


x4 Loxodon Hierarch


Combo the Hierarch with Umezawa's Jitte counters and the life gained from Lightning Helix and we can get back some life from the damage we WILL be doing to ourselves.



46 Beaters:


x4 Savannah Lions

x4 Isamaru, Hound of Kondra

x4 Kird Ape

x4 Watchwolf

x4 Wild Mongrel

x4 River Boa

x4 Dryad Sophisticate

x4 Anurid Brushhopper

x4 Burning-Tree Shaman

x4 call of the Herd

x4 Troll Ascetic

x2 Mystic Enforcer


Only major change here is the Dryad Sophisticate. I can't tell you how bad I wanted Vinelasher Kudzu and Quirion Dryad to work. Unfortunately, neither did anything for me as both proved to be too slow. The 8 landwalkers however...were quite nice. River Boa has survived every cut of this deck, it's an amazing 2 drop as you WILL see Islands. Other creatures I tried included Spectral Lynx and Blurred Mongoose. Both were nice, but we only have so many slots. Another creature I had success with was Giant Solifuge, but I had only 2 slots left. I think Mystic Enforcer is a better fit over the Solifuge.


20 Mana Fixers:

x4 Llanowar Elves

x4 Aether Vial

x4 Birds of Paradise

x4 Werebear

x4 Sakura-Tribe Elder



80 Lands:

x4 Bloodstained Mire

x4 Flooded Strand

x4 Polluted Delta

x4 Windswept Heath

x4 Wooded Foothills

x4 Krosan Verge

x4 Blood Crypt

x4 Breeding Pool

x4 Godless Shrine

x4 Hallowed Fountain

x4 Overgrown Tomb

x4 Sacred Foundry

x4 Steam Vents

x4 Stomping Ground

x4 Temple Garden

x4 Watery Grave

x4 City of Brass

x2 Undiscovered Paradise

x4 Nantuko Monastery

x2 Forest

x1 Island

x1 Mountain

x1 Plains

x1 Swamp


All said we have 100 mana sources, which devotes 40% of our deck. This may seem steep for an aggro deck, but I just can't get bring myself to go below 80 lands. This is probably the area I devote the most attention to and I've tried many different cards. The mana acceleration is almost all based on having green mana and it concerned me. I tried Chrome Mox, Tithe, Fellwar Stone, Wayfarer's Bauble, Solemn Simulacrum amongst others. Those are all great cards but in the end I went green. In 14 matches, I mulliganed once and mana was never a huge factor in any of my losses. One major change from the first version of this deck to the second version is the inclusion of Aether Vial to the maindeck. Originally, Aether Vial was in the sideboard, which was a huge mistake as I underestimated the power of this card. I always thought of Aether Vial as a great card vs. control, it worked in Affinity and made appearances in Goblins. I understood why it was in Affinity--it added fuel to the fire. I understood why it worked well vs. control, yet I never fully grasped the reason it was in Goblins. Am I an idiot? Yeah, probably...but I hate Goblin decks. I mean hate...gazes fondly at his 4 foil Engineered Plague...I honestly cannot think of another deck I have more disdain for than Goblins. So, because of this I totally underestimated this card. All of that changed on September 10th as I was shown the FULL power of this card in a aggro deck, 1st turn no less. So...welcome to the maindeck Aether Vial!


Total Cards: 250




Our Mana Curve looks like this:

1 Drops: 44

2 Drops: 64

3 Drops: 48

4 Drops: 18


This gives us a average casting cost of 2.22, which is reflective of the pure speed of this deck.


Colored Mana Symbols on Spell Cards:

Green: 78

Blue: 20

Black: 24

Red: 44

White: 42


When it comes to mana i have a simple equation. I take the number of colored mana symbols for each color, divide by 2 & add 1.


Colored Mana Symbols on Spell Cards:

Green: 78/2=39+1=40 green mana sources.

Blue: 20/2=10+1=11 blue mana sources.

Black: 24/2=12+1=13 black mana sources.

Red: 44/2=22+1=23 red mana sources.

White: 42/2=21+1=22 white mana sources.



Sideboard:

x4 Stifle

x4 Scrabbling Claws

x4 Dwarven Blastminer

x3 Naturalize


For your Sideboard, I wouldn't recommend trying to board in a new strategy. Considering you have less then a 2% chance to draw a named card you just want to enforce what you have going already. Of course, my Sideboard contradicts what i just said to the naked eye. But, if you really think about it...my sideboard enhances my deck in the same way but in a different style. The Naturalize is obvious, past that you have to look a little deeper. Think of Scrabbling Claws as "pay 1, draw a card", but with a really killer side effect. Stifle & Dwarven Blastminer are just being used as further removal.



Play Strategy:

The best strategy to employ with this deck is to simply start tossing creatures out ASAP. Most Prismatic decks spend the first 4-5 turns setting up their mana. With this knowledge in hand, we now know that we want to fully exploit this 4-5 turn "grace period".


Strenghts:

Speed, speed, speed.



Weakness:


A slow draw vs control can be game over.



Results:


September 10th:

I finished the Swiss portion of the tournament with a modest 3-2 record. Since i started 2-0, i played vs some top notch players. My opponents all finished well so i was able to sneak into the Top 8 off of my superior "Opponent's Points". In the Top 8, i was the 8th seed so i played the #1 seed. I was fortunate enough of to win & found myself in the Top 4! After taking game 1, i dropped the next two games. Top 4! I'll take it!



September 17th:


The 2nd Prismatic tourney to fire in consecutive weeks! I feel alot better about this tournament as i have a better idea of what to expect. I've tweaked my deck from the prior week & playtested like crazy. My work paid off as i went 4-0-1 in the swiss portion & was the 2nd seed! My first round opponent was a real jerk (NiceNose), & i was glad to beat him. I hate jerks & he's a big one. I watched one of his replays & he told his opponent that his deck was garbage. EWWW!! Luckily, the Karma gods were out & his opponent with the "garbage deck" beat him! HAHAHAHAHAHA. My next opponent, whose name I can't remember, just so happened to be the same guy who took me out in the Top 4 last week! Well, he did it again, lol. What can you do? Anyway, I was very happy with my showing & I won some packs to boot! I promise, the next Prismatic Tournament I play in, I'll provide full coverage!
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