The "Morphology" Of Onslaught Block Constructed
Building On A Budget - Ring The Bell
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Before I get started on this article, I would like to give some of my readers a piece of advice. I have received a few emails from people who were excited to see a budget deck column, but then were saddened by the number of the rares in the decks. Keep in mind that all of these decks can be built for under 30 tickets, which is about 30 dollars -- just buy the tickets from the Magic Online Store, go to the Trading Room, and trade for whatever cards (rares or otherwise) that you need to complete the deck.
Now that this is cleared up, back to your regularly scheduled article.
Onslaught block has changed the way we play Magic games by giving us the morph mechanic. Many people hail morph as a great Limited mechanic, but say that it's lacking in Constructed. I, for one, have used morph in Constructed to reasonable effect, and it's a heck of a lot of fun. You think its fun to trick your opponent with morphs in a draft? Try it in Block Constructed -- you'll love it even more.
Because of this I decided to make a Block Constructed deck that highlights this cool mechanic with a twist that those of us at CMU like to call "Ringing the Bell." Mike Turian and Nick Eisel jump at the chance to draft the Skirk Alarmist/off-color morph deck. Mike went as far as to build a 5-Color deck based around the Alarmist -- and it wasn't half bad! With all things considered, Block Constructed format is the best place to run one of these decks, so I kept this list legal for Onslaught Block Constructed (OnBC).
I would like to note, before everyone sees it in the decklist, that this is the only deck I know of to use Dream Chisel. Yes, Dream Chisel -- and it's the nuts when you slam down two facedown creatures on turn four.
Building on a Budget - Ringing The Bell
Usually I hold to the old standby that three-color decks are no good, especially in budget decks that can't afford many of the rare lands that fix mana. However, in a deck where most of the cards can be played face down, it's not as much of a problem.
About The Deck
This deck makes the most out of the morph mechanic by using a variety of effects creating what is called "morph diversity." This means that your facedown creatures could be any number of things, so your opponent doesn't know the correct play. Usually when someone plays a creature with morph in Constructed, one can assume it's Exalted Angel, with the minor possibilities of Birchlore Ranger, Skirk Marauder, or Dwarven Blastminer. With this deck, the facedown creature could have a multitude of effects leading your opponent to questions like: "Should I block? Should I try to kill it? Should I counter it?" If your opponent's wrong, the results can be disastrous.
The trick to this deck is the ability to morph your creature without paying the activation cost. That way, even when you're tapped out, it's a risk for your opponent to try and kill your facedown creature, lest it be Putrid Raptor or Zombie Cutthroat. Skirk Alarmist brings real fun to this strategy, giving you the ability to do a number of cool tricks just by tapping your creature.
I barely managed to show restraint while building this deck, but if you want to live more on the wild side (and if I was playing this deck I would), then I would certainly include a couple of Krosan Cloudscrapers or Titanic Bulvoxes. Now that's a beating.
Tips On Playing The Deck
Carrion Feeder puts more of a curve in the deck while letting you make better use of creatures that have been turned face up with the Alarmist.
- While a deck full of morph creatures might not seem to convey any sense of mana curve, never underestimate playing your creatures face up -- especially a turn two Skirk Marauder or Skinthinner.
- There's an added incentive for emptying your hand, since Riptide Survivor will actually let you draw three cards with no drawback if you have none to discard first.
- Remember, multiple Dream Chisels stack -- if you draw two, play one on turn two and another on turn three along with a facedown creature for . The next turn you can drop the rest of your hand and then morph Riptide Survivor (hopefully).
- Have fun with your opponent. Many decisions involving your morph creatures will be entirely dependent on the reactions your opponent sees in your play style -- use that to your advantage. If there ever was a deck built for the old Jedi Mind-Trick, this is it.
Adding Money To The Deck
The first thing this deck needs is fetchlands. Both Polluted Delta and Bloodstained Mire would help the struggling mana base. I have already included two Grand Coliseums (even though they are probably putting my 30-ticket limit under strain), but switching those out for fetchlands might be better.
Other cool morphing creatures to include would be Soul Collector and Rockshard Elemental. Rockshard gives you a little bit of that Cloudscraper feel but with the potential to morph it the hard way.
This deck might be more fun to play with physical cards -- that way you can have some fun with your friends and keep them guessing what your face-down cards are. Either way, this deck is fun and unique in ways not often seen in Magic games these days.
Until next time, may all your Wizards have haste and all your morphs be Ancestral Recalls.
NateHeiss on Magic Online