ello, and welcome to another edition of Building on a Budget. Last week I introduced you to a number of decks built around Necroskitter. I received a lot of emails asking about further development on this deck so i decided to run it back. This week I'd like to further explore our options and do some work on one of the decks we've already created.
A lot of ideas have been bounced around since last week. Most people have focused their energy on the Blue version, so I'd like to spend this week improving that list. Here's the lowdown if you weren't with us last week.
This list was a very good first go around at the deck. There are a few glaring weaknesses here, though.
Midnight Banshee doesn't seem like it is very good unless you're on the play against Kithkin. That seems too narrow to me. I would, however, like to replace Midnight Banshee with another big finisher.
Shriekmaw was a rock star 90% of the time I drew it. I definitely want to play more this time around.
I wasn't very impressed with Scar. It fit the theme of the deck, but drawing multiples was always frustrating. I could see myself cutting a bunch of these.
A reader in the forums stated, "Makeshift Mannequin seems way to good here ...." I thought about that statement for a while. In some matchups Makeshift Mannequin seemed clunky to me. After more thought, though, I decided the reader was probably right. I'm playing a blue-black deck that is not Faeries and I don't have a Mulldrifter / Shriekmaw / Makeshift Mannequin package. That seems like a crime. It seemed painfully obvious when I thought more and realized that none of these cards are rares. I decided that I needed to make room for the package this time around.
I was also frustrated with the mana base. I had a few games where I couldn't find any blue mana and lost quickly to a Chameleon Colossus that I couldn't Snakeform.
I sat down with a notebook and scribbled down a few lists. I eventually settled on what I believe to be a really elegant build of this deck.
There are so many things I love about this list. I'll start by explaining the changes and what they entail in regards to how the deck plays.
The Shriekmaw / Mulldrifter / Makeshift Mannequin package changes the way the deck works. Before we were essentially trying to play an aggro deck that hoped to make big swings in the late game with Control Magic triggers and Midnight Banshees. The deck has now morphed into a true control deck. The deck has enough card advantage now that games become harder and harder to lose as they progress. Dusk Urchins was a good source of card draw when the deck lacked Makeshift Mannequin. After adding Makeshift Mannequin I kept wishing that my Dusk Urchins were Mulldrifters. I did the logical thing here and simply changed the Dusk Urchins to Mulldrifters. This change alone greatly increased the efficiency of the deck. Waiting a few turns for the extra cards granted by Dusk Urchins seems so cavemanish compared to drawing them right away with Mulldrifter.
That is not to say that Dusk Urchins isn't a very strong card. I think the card still carries its weight in the Jund version of this deck and could be a good source of card advantage for red-based aggressive decks when nationals rolls around (depending on how much good burn is printed in Magic 2010).
Adding Oona, Queen of the Fae also seemed like a very strong improvement. Games against Faeries seemed unwinnable before. The matchup is still very rough, but the addition of Makeshift Mannequin and Oona have definitely made it far from a bye for them. I'd like to talk about Oona for a moment: I strongly believe that Oona is one of the best finishers for a control deck that has ever been printed. I promise that a Standard lacking Vivid lands would have a lot of this card running around. Depending on metagame shifts in the near future I might even advise running Oona over at least one copy of Broodmate Dragon in Five-Color Control lists. Resolving this spell is simply game over against a huge percentage of decks in Standard. That's extraordinary. I decided to only run a pair of the big finisher this time around. Last week's deck ended up with a pair of Midnight Banshees stuck in hand a good number of times. This week I decided to minimize that occurrence by cutting the number of Fatty Boom Booms. I added better draw this time around, so I shouldn't have a problem drawing into one. Also, I have Makeshift Mannequins now, so if my big friend hits the bin, my opponent needs to play around it coming right back into the thick of things at instant speed.
The addition of the Borderposts seems pretty obvious. Their presence was very missed last week.
I changed the sideboard to a configuration that seems a lot better given what people have been playing lately.
I put the deck together on Magic Online and got into an eight-player Constructed Event.
I win the roll and keep Swamp, Swamp, Mistvein Borderpost, Mulldrifter, Agony Warp, Makeshift Mannequin, and Necroskitter. I play my Borderpost on turn one and pass the turn. My opponent plays a Vivid Grove. I draw a Shriekmaw, play my Swamp, and pass the turn. My opponent plays a Vivid Crag and passes. I draw an Island, play my Necroskitter, and pass the turn. My opponent plays a Boggart Ram-Gang and thinks for a moment before deciding to attack. I block with Necroskitter. I draw another Agony Warp, play my land, and pass the turn. My opponent taps out for a Bloodbraid Elf, flips into another Boggart Ram-Gang, and attacks with his team. I use Agony Warp to shrink the power of the 3/3 Boggart Ram-Gang and the toughness of the 2/2 Boggart Ram-Gang. The one Ram-Gang comes into play under my control, and I use it to block the 0/3 Ram-Gang, gaining control of the other Ram-Gang also. I draw an Island, attack for 6, and play a Mulldrifter, drawing Oona, Queen of the Fae, and another Mulldrifter. My opponent plays a Maelstrom Pulse destroying the Boggart Ram-Gangs, then thinks for a moment and decides to attack with Bloodbraid Elf. I snap-call and block with my Mulldrifter. I draw a Swamp and tap out for Oona, Queen of the Fae. My opponent plays a Bloodbraid Elf, flips into a Maelstrom Pulse (which destroys Oona), and attacks for 3. I draw another Necroskitter, play my Shriekmaw, and pass the turn. He plays Sygg, River Cutthroat and passes with four mana open. I draw a Swamp, attack with Shriekmaw, play my land, and pass. My opponent plays Volcanic Fallout on my end of turn step, then plays another Bloodbraid Elf (he drew three, seems fair), flips into Volcanic Fallout, which he plays (before the Elf resolves, remember), and attacks me for 4. I play Makeshift Mannequin targeting Oona and block Bloodbraid Elf. He draws off Sygg and it's my turn. I draw an Island, attack for 5, and pass. He evokes a Briarhorn to kill my Oona (thanks to the Makeshift Mannequin counter), and I respond by milling him for six naming red. I make four tokens, and he passes the turn. I draw a Makeshift Mannequin and attack for 4, putting my opponent at 1. He tries to survive by Cryptic Commanding me for a few turns, but he can't seem to do much about the situation.
Sideboarding: -2 Oona, Queen of the Fae, +2 Persuasion
I expect most modern lists will bring in Chameleon Colossus, and I want to make sure I have an answer when I need one.
I keep Terramorphic Expanse, Swamp, Island, Mistvein Borderpost, Shriekmaw, Agony Warp, and Makeshift Mannequin. My opponent plays a Vivid Land and passes. I draw a Necroskitter, play my Terramorphic Expanse, and pass. My opponent plays a Putrid Leech and passes. I pop the Expanse and find a Swamp. I draw a Mulldrifter, play my Island, and pass the turn. My opponent plays Boggart Ram-Gang and attacks, but when he attempts a pump on the Putrid Leech, I shrink its toughness with my Agony Warp and shrink the power of the Boggart Ram-Gang. I draw an Island, bounce a land with my Borderpost, replay the land, and evoke my Shriekmaw to kill the Ram-Gang. My opponent plays another Boggart Ram-Gang and attacks. He misses his fourth land drop. I draw a Persuasion, play a land, and pass the turn. My opponent plays his fourth land and plays Bloodbraid Elf, flipping into a Maelstrom Pulse that he has to put on the bottom. He attacks with both creatures, and I play Makeshift Mannequin targeting my Shriekmaw. I kill both attackers. On my turn I draw Snakeform and play my Mulldrifter, drawing another Snakeform and an Incremental Blight. My opponent just passes with four lands in play. I draw a Necroskitter, attack with Mulldrifter, and attempt to play the Necroskitter. My opponent plays Cryptic Command countering and drawing. On my opponent's turn he plays Chameleon Colossus. I untap and play Persuasion on the Colossus, then attack for another 2. My opponent uses Cryptic Command to bounce the Collossus back to his hand the next turn. But I drew another Necroskitter, and I use the time to play my friend. My opponent replays his Colossus and passes. I attack with the Necroskitter and the Mulldrifter; my opponent hasn't seen Snakeform yet, and he blocks the Necroskitter. I play Snakeform and gain control of the Changeling. I have a full grip and a dominating board position, and my opponent decides to concede.
I win the roll again and keep Swamp, Swamp, Island, Agony Warp, Necroskitter, Incremental Blight, and Oona, Queen of the Fae. I play a land and pass. My opponent plays a Sunken Ruins. I draw a Shriekmaw, play my land, and pass. My opponent plays a Bitterblossom. (They always seem to have it.) I draw another land, play my Necroskitter, and pass. My opponent draws, plays a third land and passes. I draw a Soul Snuffers, attack for one, and pass. My opponent plays a Scion of Oona on my end step. I'm not really sure what to say about the rest of this game. He had two Mistbind Cliques and a Cryptic Command. I really never had a chance to do anything.
Sideboarding: -4 Shriekmaw, -4 Necroskitter, -1 Incremental Blight, +3 Terror, +4 Rendclaw Trow, +2 Persuasion
I mulligan and keep Island, Island, Mistvein Borderpost, Rendclaw Trow, Rendclaw Trow, and Mulldrifter. I play my Borderpost and pass. My opponent plays a land. I draw another land, play a land, and pass. My opponent misses Bitterblossom. I attempt to play Rendclaw Trow, and my opponent plays Broken Ambitions he shows Cryptic Command and I show a land, I get milled for four. My opponent plays a third land and passes. I draw another Mulldrifter, play another Rendclaw Trow (it sticks), and I pass. My opponent plays a Scion of Oona at the end of my turn. My opponent plays a fourth land and decides to play a main-phase Scion of Oona, thus assembling the Scion + Scion combo. He attacks for 2 and passes. On my turn I play a Mulldrifter. My opponent doesn't attack into my Mulldrifter, and instead passes the turn. I attempt to play another Mulldrifter, but my opponent has the Cryptic Command we knew about, and he draws an extra card. On his turn he sends both Scions in and I block with my Mulldrifter, but he plays a third Scion of Oona and I go to 15. This game seems like a blowout, and it most certainly is. I think it's very interesting, though, that if I had drawn an Oona on this turn I probably would have won the game. I don't draw the Oona and I lose, but I'm sure it matters that the deck has cards that it can actually draw to make the games close.
The new version of the Necroskitter deck is a clear improvement in my eyes. I'm happy you guys gave me a chance to work on this deck again, and I hope you like the changes I've made.
Last week someone posted a Necroskitter list that was played by Conley Woods (Pro Tour–Honolulu Top 8 Competitor) at Grand Prix–Seattle:
Conley Woods's Necroskitter
This list looks like a really strong non-budget Necroskitter deck. Like all the decks we've worked on, this list struggles with Faeries in Game 1. Luckily, in Games 2 and 3, this list has a lot of game against the Fae. I like decks like this because they make people play outside their comfort zones. Conley is clearly a talented rogue deck designer ,and I think this list should be taken very seriously by PTQ players. Take it for a test drive. I've played some games with the deck, and I know it's good enough for competitive play.