o you like attacking? Do you like drawing cards? Well, if so, then I have a deck for you! One of the cards from Dragon's Maze that initially intrigued me was Bred for the Hunt. I love playing tempo-based beatdown decks, using efficient creatures with good abilities alongside bounce, counterspells, and other tricks. While an aggressive green-blue deck doesn't necessarily have as burly creatures as other color combinations like, say, Gruul, it can make up for it by using blue's tricks.
Bred for the Hunt | Art by Karl Kopinski
Bred for the Hunt caught my eye because there's little more I want to do in these decks than repeatedly draw cards while moving my game plan forward, giving me plenty of tools to gain the tempo advantage in the game—and apparently I'm not the only one. Let's take a look at the Bred for the Hunt deck that I'll be working on today:
Laurids's Bred and Butter
The Battle Plan
Aggro-control decks like this one sacrifice the beefiest creatures and quickest creatures in favor of something else: tempo and disruption. While you won't be dispatching your opponent at lightning pace, you make up for it in resiliency and the ability to meddle in your opponent's affairs. The premium color for this is blue, using options like bounce spells and countermagic to your advantage.
I had mentioned resiliency—and that's where the card drawing comes in. While some beatdown decks might be susceptible to board sweepers like Supreme Verdict or a midrange deck's ability to just trade off creature after creature, if you turn every creature you control into a Stealer of Secrets, suddenly your hand will be stocked and ready to redeploy creatures to the battlefield... or just find the perfect piece of disruption for the situation.
As with all build-around cards, there is a cost to putting them in your deck. The cost with Bred for the Hunt is having plenty of creatures that gather +1/+1 counters—but, fortunately, there are plenty of good +1/+1-counter-gathering options for just that purpose.
The way this deck ideally plays out is to play creatures on the first few turns, then cast a Bred for the Hunt, attack, and pick up a card or two. As your opponent tries to block you, something like Simic Charm will send his or her defense screeching to a halt as you accumulate more cards. For a card to fit into this deck, it needs to be relatively cheap to cast and either work toward your aggressive +1/+1 counters strategy—a creature—or help disrupt your opponent, like many of the spells do.
Let's take a look at the many cards in this deck and hone them down to what we want to keep for our battle plan.
Experiment One hits several different sweet spots for this deck. First, it's a one-drop, giving you something to do on the first turn that gets your engine rolling. Second, it accumulates +1/+1 counters, working well with Bred for the Hunt. It also gives you some resiliency against cards like Supreme Verdict.
This deck really wants to have access to a lot of cheap creatures so it can just flood the board. Experiment One isn't the only one I have my eye on, either. Its other Simic one-drop partner in crime, Cloudfin Raptor, is a solid choice for this deck. Offering both evasion in the form of flying and another cheap early play, Cloudfin Raptor helps to bolster our early starts.
Note that while you're not going to evolve either of these creatures that far—most of the creatures in this deck have a base power of 1 or 2—you really just need to evolve them once so they can hit +1/+1 counter status, and then you can use the Rancors you draw to beef them up further.
This little wolf that could is fairly innocuous, but actually does a lot of good work in this deck. He's a one-drop that provides resiliency and also tempers some of the assault from other beatdown decks. And, like Strangleroot Geist, with Zameck Guildmage out he can continually block over and over again as you draw cards and reap the rewards. It's another solid one-drop for this deck, and I'm happy to keep the four copies.
And speaking of Strangleroot Geist, let's, well... speak more about Strangleroot Geist!
The Geist is one of the most efficient green creatures in the format. A 2-power haste creature for two mana that comes back from the dead as a 3/2 is incredibly strong, offering up a role against beatdown and control decks alike. The undying goes a long way toward evolving your creatures as well, providing that 3rd power to kick up your Experiment Ones and Cloudfin Raptors another notch. And, once again, with Zameck Guildmage, you can go pretty crazy by going into combat again and again, dealing with creatures while drawing cards in the process. I definitely want to keep all four of these.
Talk about synergy in this deck! Pulling counters off of undying creatures or evolve creatures works well and fits with the ability to draw more cards to both flood the board and tempo your opponent out. As you draw more and more lands, he can even load up your fresh creatures with extra +1/+1 counters!
Additionally, Zameck Guildmage has 2 power. One concern with playing so many evolve cards is drawing a bunch of Experiment Ones and Cloudfin Raptors and not being to evolve any of them. With an extra Guildmage, you're just that much more likely to curve the way this deck wants to.
I like the Guildmage so much in this deck that I'd actually like to up it to four copies. Yes, extra copies are redundant—but if you have one in play, it's going to put you in pretty good shape for what this deck wants to do in the midgame.
These are both attractive three-drops for this deck—but playing so many three-drops comes at a cost. In a deck that wants to flood the board, you might end up with a hand that has too many of these and gets off to a slow start by not using its mana efficiently. Additionally, they both only have 1 base power and toughness, meaning that, unlike some three-drops you could play, you can't really expect them to help your evolution chain. Out of the two, I only want to keep one.
Which would you choose?
While Champion of Lambholt looks small as a three-mana 1/1, the beast below its surface stats is quite powerful. It synergizes well with what this deck is trying to do, promoting dropping a lot of creatures onto the battlefield so it can grow. Normally, there's a slight bit of anti-synergy there since your cheap creatures come down before the Champion—but with cards like Bred for the Hunt around, you can keep loaded up on plenty of cheap creatures to cast afterward.
And speaking of Bred for the Hunt, Champion of Lambholt helps push your creatures through so you can draw more cards. Additionally, it works well with all of the undying in this deck, gaining another +1/+1 counter each time one of your undying creature returns.
Predator Ooze is certainly no slouch either, though. Not only does it grow to tremendous sizes fast, but it really helps hit the resiliency note in a way that Champion of Lambholt doesn't. If your opponent is planning to Supreme Verdict you, Predator Ooze will still be left standing.
However, Predator Ooze does also have an important downside: its mana cost. With the addition of Cloudfin Raptor, I'd like to add a couple more Islands to increase the chance of casting it on turn one. That fact, coupled with the fact that I think Champion of Lambholt synergizes better with what this deck is going to do, makes me inclined to kick the indestructible Ooze to the curb and keep Champion around. Champion is so strong here that I'd like to move up to the full four copies.
Crowned Ceratok has some nice synergy with Bred for the Hunt, letting your creatures trample through so you can pick up a card. Additionally, it's a 4/3 to boot, meaning it can evolve your creatures at the top end of the curve.
The problem? Most of your creatures don't have that high of power to trample over with in the first place, unless you hook one up with a Rancor—in which case it has trample already. If I was going to play a four-drop in this deck, the one I would probably consider would be Master Biomancer—and even as one of Master Biomancer's largest fans, even then I'd prefer to keep the curve low. Tick tock, Ceratok—your time has come.
For a single green mana, Rancor provides a ton of power. It gives one of your many small creatures on the board a pretty sizable boost, and trample to boot, so it can try and pick up a card off Bred From the Hunt. And then it comes back when the creature dies, letting you use it over and over again! I definitely want to play all four of these.
This is the card that Laurids originally build this deck around, and we've managed to maximize it using a bunch of low-mana creatures that garner +1/+1 counters. I do think Laurids was spot-on with three being the right number—although it is good in multiples, you don't really want your opening hand to be clogged on these since you first need to apply pressure to the board. However, I definitely don't want to go below three—let's keep this one as-is.
The charm cycle was designed and developed to provide effects that fit into decks the charm's two colors traditionally create, and Simic Charm is no exception.
Practically handcrafted for an aggro-control deck, it can set your opponent back by returning a creature, set up a favorable combat by pumping your creature, or even save a powerful focal creature like Champion of Lambholt from death by way of hexproof. This kind of card is so strong in this deck that I want to add in the fourth copy.
I'm normally a gigantic fan of countermagic in my aggro-control decks. I want to deploy creatures to the board and then hold up a counterspell, forcing my opponent to make a decision between bad and worse. However, in this deck, I actually greatly prefer the tempo generated by something like Simic Charm that can also be used a little proactively.
Why? Well, this is a deck that wants to tap out a lot, and also has a lot to do with its mana. Whether its Zameck Guildmaging up its creatures or casting another Champion of Lambholt, holding up two mana might be a little more tricky here than other places. Additionally, Spell Rupture isn't as strong here as in some other decks due to the low base power on most of your creatures.
I still want a couple, because finding one and holding onto it can be really important to throw a wrench in the game plans of specific decks. For example, if you're facing an Unburial Rites deck, this is the kind of card that can buy you the one turn you need and set back your opponent. However, while I could see doing it, I don't really want to main deck a third here. I'd certainly sideboard more countermagic—but in the main deck I'm happy with just these two.
If you want to make your creatures gigantic, Blessings of Nature is certainly a good tool for that. However, there's no telling when it'll come up to miracle—and if you draw it, it's pretty slow. While it does have the potential to be strong when miracled, I'd rather just stick to the aggressive, low-curve game plan and run cards that will consistently be a little stronger.
With all of those changes made, that makes the deck look like this:
Gavin Verhey's Bred-y for Battle
The low curve of this deck means you can fill up the board with creatures extremely quickly. If your opponent doesn't have any creatures to defend, Bred for the Hunt can completely take over the game by sending extra cards your way. If your opponent does have creatures, engines like Zameck Guildmage alongside undying creatures and, eventually, Champion of Lambholt can defeat those kind of draws.
And there you have it—a Bred for the Hunt deck! I've been wanting to build around this card for a while, and I'm glad to have finally had the chance before we head off into the world of Magic 2014. Have fun with it!
What were some of the other exciting decks I was sent this week? Let's take a look.
Silas Waltzer's Brain Blast
Mark Ian Alloso's En-Chant-ing Rites
Erick Lavandier's Vampires
Jeremy Caramico's Vorelfog
Lorenzo Liverani's Lavinia Bant Lock
Jeff Fullmer's Blasphemous Blast
William Clair's Master of Cruelties Control
Ryo Nakayama's Heartbeat of Dracogenius
Gabe Wildon's Omnicapture
Bryan Sanders's Firestorm
James Haven's Give and Take
Joseph Pinkley's GU Delver
Next week is Magic 2014 preview week, and in just under two weeks' time the entire set will be known! The set is sure to shake up Standard, so rather than asking you to build something new before you see all the cards, I'll be writing something a little different that week.
In the meantime, things have changed up a little bit for next week. Some preview cards got moved around, and mine changed! This means I'll need new deck submissions for next week. Note that the deadline on this is short, so get in your ideas quickly!
Restrictions: Your deck must be built around a creature type.
Deadline: June 26, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time
Submit all decklists by clicking on "respond via email" below. Please submit decklists using the following template. (You do not need to adhere to the specific numbers below, but it's just how a general decklist should look when laid out.)
4 Other Spell
4 Other Spell
I'm excited to see what you all send in!
In the meantime, there's still a little bit of time to try out unique Dragon's Maze cards—like Bred For the Hunt—before Magic 2014 steals away the spotlight. Let me know if you have any thoughts or comments about this deck by posting in the forums or sending me a tweet. It's always great to hear from you.
I'll be back next week with my Magic 2014 preview card! Talk with you then.
When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he wanted a job making Magic cards. Ten years later, his dream was realized as his combined success as a professional player, deck builder, and writer brought him into Wizards R&D during 2011. He's been writing Magic articles since 2005 and has no plans to stop.