Welcome to Simic Week! Wizards of the Coast is out of the office for the Memorial Day holiday, and will return with new articles beginning Tuesday, 5/30. In case you missed it, what follows is the article that ran in this slot last week. In the meantime, this week’s feature article by Mark Gottlieb is already up for your holiday reading pleasure. See you tomorrow!
Scott Johns, magicthegathering.com Producer
Editor's Note: This was the article Ben submitted for his audition article three months ago, so if things don't look quite how the current Building on a Budget columns look, that's why.
ycosynth Lattice is one of those cards that tugs at my inner-Johnny heart strings. This Darksteel rare changes the rules of the game in multiple ways, and therefore is perfect for building a deck around. Let's examine, quickly, exactly what it is that the Lattice does.
- It turns all permanents in play into artifacts. This has twofold usefulness – turning all of your creatures, lands and enchantments into artifacts, or turning all of your opponent's creatures, lands and enchantments into artifacts.
- It fixes the color of mana. With the Lattice in play, you (and your opponent) can use any mana as any other color of mana. This is especially useful for multi-colored spells (think Nephilim) or spells which require a large colored-mana commitment (Consume Spirit).
- It turns all non-permanents colorless. Admittedly, the first two abilities of the Lattice are the more interesting ones to build around, although this colorlessness does have usefulness.
Prior to the release of Guildpact
, there wasn't really a good way to take advantage of turning your opponent's permanents into artifacts. Sure, you could run a deck with lots of artifact destruction – but why run a six-mana artifact just to turn Viridian Shaman
Enter Shattering Spree.
When I first saw Shattering Spree, I immediately knew it was going to be a powerhouse. It is one of those spells that looks fairly innocent on the surface, but has a lot of potential to do evil things. It's cheaper than Shatter, plus it has replicate. Unlike spells like Granulate or Purify, Shattering Spree can destroy multiple artifacts with pinpoint accuracy. Plus, thanks to replicate, you can target the same artifact multiple times with one Spree – making the spell effectively uncounterable by Blue mages.
Some people saw Mycosynth Lattice and thought, “Man, this makes my affinity cards amazing – plus now I can hit my opponent with a Feedback Bolt for fifteen!” Others looked at the Lattice and mused, “With a Lattice in play, I can play all five colors in my deck and not worry about color requirements to cast my spells!”
I thought to myself, “Self, I wish there was a card that would allow me to take advantage of turning all of my opponent's permanents into artifacts.” Two years later, the good folks at Wizards of the Coast finally gave me my wish – targeted, one-sided mass destruction and chaos.
I set out to build a Lattice/Spree deck to play on Magic Online. I faced two decisions when laying out the beginnings of the deck:
- What did I want the deck to do?
- What colors did I want in the deck?
1) What did I want the deck to do? Answer this question was fairly simple. I wanted to play Mycosynth Lattice to the board, and then pummel my opponent's entire side with a Shattering Spree. The Lattice helped in two ways towards achieving this goal – it both turned all my opponent's permanents into artifacts so that they could be destroyed by the Spree, and it allowed me to use mana of any color to replicate the Spree multiple times.
2) What colors did I want in the deck? This was a much tougher question, as the Lattice, once in play, allows me to play all five colors of Magic. However, the Lattice was sure to be at the top end of my mana curve, so I didn't want to risk building a deck where I'd be stuck with cards in my hand, unable to cast them until I played the Lattice. I saw two ways to go about the deck:
- Red and Green. No matter which colors I used in the deck, Red was the only color that just had to be in the deck, in order to facilitate use of Shattering Spree. Red and Green are the two colors which are the absolute best at killing artifacts – between Shattering Spree, Naturalize, Wear Away, Viridian Shaman, Tin Street Hooligan, Hearth Kami (among others), I would have a plethora of artifact-killing options to choose from. This was also the problem with choosing Green for the deck – it didn't add any function to the deck that Red didn't already provide. The problem would be getting the Lattice into play each game, and neither Red nor Green has an easy way to search out the Lattice. I briefly considered combining Green dredge cards with Trash for Treasure, but instead I opted for the other plan.
- Red and Blue: Now we're talking. Blue has several cards which interact well with artifacts, without actually destroying said artifacts. Blue can steal artifacts, tutor for artifacts, turn artifacts into creatures – in short, Blue is awfully tricksy when it comes to artifacts.
So it was decided and so it shall be – Red and Blue are the colors for me. Cue the deck list, Maestro!
The deck is built around getting a Mycosynth Lattice into play and then blowing up everything your opponent controls using Shattering Spree, so those two cards are self-explanatory. Let's take a look at the other choices for this deck.
Fabricate: I wanted a way to be able to directly get Mycosynth Lattice in the case that I hadn't drawn it early in the game, and Fabricate was that way. There were a couple of other options I could have used here – such as Ethereal Usher to transmute into Lattice – but Fabricate is simple, and versatile. I could use it to get an artifact land if I was short on mana, or to get Guardian Idol if I needed an attacker.
Thirst for Knowledge
: Thirst for Knowledge
is one of the best card-drawing spells ever printed. It works well with the number of artifacts in this deck (sixteen), and allows me more of a chance to see a Lattice or a Spree in any given game. I just had to remember that Lattice turns the cards in my hand colorless, but not into artifacts – there's a difference – so if I had a Lattice in play, I still had to discard an artifact or two non-artifacts if I cast Thirst.
Neurok Transmuter: I didn't want to have to rely solely on Mycosynth Lattice to make my Shattering Sprees useful, so I added in Neurok Transmuter as a way to force my opponent to play with artifacts.
Guardian Idol: Six mana is a lot, and I didn't want to be stuck with a Lattice in my hand. Guardian Idol allows me to play my signature spell on the fifth turn, plus it also gives me an offensive threat.
Hearth Kami: A third offensive threat for the deck, and one that is capable of killing artifacts as well.
Shrapnel Blast: Shrapnel Blast is a very potent direct damage spell, and one that I thought would work well with the Lattice – suddenly, anything I had on the board could be sacrificed to deal a quick five damage.
March of the Machines: March of the Machines doesn't play well with the Great Furnaces or Seat of the Synods in my deck – with a March out, those artifacts immediately get sent to the graveyard. For the same reason, March of the Machines works great with Mycosynth Lattice – when both hit the table at the same time, all lands in play are destroyed, and you're left with a 6/6 monster.
Great Furnace and Seat of the Synod: These two artifact lands work well with Fabricate and Thirst for Knowledge, so I included them in the deck.
Izzet Boilerworks: The Boilerworks produces both colors of mana needed to power this deck. It also serves the purpose of allowing me to bounce a Seat of the Synod or a Great Furnace, so I can discard one of those to a Thirst for Knowledge.
Total Rares: 8
Total Uncommons: 24
Total Commons: 28
With deck in hand, I hit the open play room looking for some Extended matches. I was a bit nervous about taking the deck out for a spin – would I get stuck with too many conditional cards in my hand? Would I have Sprees and Kamis without any way to turn my opponent's guys into artifacts? Would I shame the Lattice?
Game #1: Senhordapedra (Black/Blue Discard)
My first opponent was Senhordapedra. He countered my third turn Fabricate
, and then proceeded to hit me with a Mind Rot
, causing me to lose a second Fabricate
and a Shrapnel Blast
. Luckily, I didn't need either Fabricate
as I had started the game with a Lattice in hand, and was trying to use the first Fabricate
to get an artifact land. It didn't matter, as I played Izzet Boilerworks
and Guardian Idol
on the fourth turn, Lattice on his fifth turn, and Shattering Spree
for all of his permanents (two Swamps, two Islands, and an Abyssal Specter
) on the sixth turn. Senhordapedra conceded on the spot.
That win put a big smile on my face – my first game, and already the deck was performing as intended. Was this luck, or had I built my deck to have game?
Game #2: Doc_Gibbs (Madness/Tog/Dredge)
Doc_Gibbs ran a deck with over 100 cards, and he warned me that his deck was slow. As it turns out, he had a Life from the Loam/Psychatog/Flashback deck that kept getting massive amounts of card advantage through cycling lands. I slowed him down in the early game by using Neurok Transmuter and two Hearth Kamis to kill a Wild Mongrel and a Psychatog. I dropped a Lattice, and then Doc tapped everything except one Island to cast a second Mongrel and a Roar of the Wurm from his graveyard. I untapped, played my third Hearth Kami of the game, destroyed his Island (I did not want to lose to Circular Logic), and then proceeded to blow up his entire board with Shattering Spree.
Unfortunately, the Lattice worked against me as Doc_Gibbs was able to use a Swamp to cast Careful Study, getting back Life from the Loam. He proceeded to recur all his lands with Life, and dropped a Dimir Infiltrator, which was enchanted by a Moldervine Cloak. I could not find a second Spree, and died in short order.
When that second game ended, I had multiple Mycosynth Lattices and Fabricates in my hand. I realized that I really didn't have anything worth tutoring for with Fabricate in my deck except for Lattice, and made a mental note that it might need to be replaced.
Match #3: Extractor1 (White Weenie)
He opens with Aether Vial, and follows it with Lantern Kami, Glorious Anthem and Glorious Anthem! Luckily for me, Extractor1 hadn't drawn any other creatures, and so when he cast a Sword of Fire and Ice, I was able to have my Neurok Transmuter turn itself into an artifact, so that I could sacrifice it to Shrapnel Blast to kill his Kami. I played Mycosynth Lattice, and he then played Skyhunter Skirmisher, and equipped it with the Sword of Fire and Ice. I had no fear, since the Lattice turns all of my spells colorless, and I proceeded to kill every permanent he has with Shattering Spree. March of the Machines on the following turn seals the game.
Match #4: CygnusSphere (Red/Green/White Beasts)
CygnusSphere starts the game with an early Contested Cliffs, but seems to have trouble getting colored mana. He taps out to play Solemn Simulacrum, and I play Mycosynth Lattice. He follows with Birds of Paradise, and I finish the game with a sixth turn Shrapnel Blast to the Birds/March of the Machines to destroy everything on his side except for the Simulacrum.
Match #5: Zachman69 (Black/Red Aggro)
Zachman69 comes out swinging fast with a third turn Ronin Houndmaster
. His aggression ends there, and I lay a fifth turn Lattice at a safe fourteen life. He casts Distress
, but my hand is double Shattering Spree
, Hearth Kami
, double March of the Machines
. He knocks a Spree out of my hand, but I proceed to destroy his entire side of the board the following turn, earning a win via concession.
At this point, I've gotten a pretty good feel for how my deck works. I definitely like being able to drop a fifth turn Mycosynth Lattice, and so I decide to add more artifact acceleration to the deck. This allows me to have another set of cards to pitch to Thirst for Knowledge, and another set of artifacts to animate with March of the Machines. Izzet Signet seems like a good candidate for this slot.
I'm also unhappy with Fabricate. In theory, Fabricate allows me to have eight Mycosynth Lattice in my deck. In practice, I never really needed Fabricate when I drew it, and I was already having some problems when I'd draw two Lattices a game – anything past the first is going to be a dead draw.
In place of Fabricate, I add in Thoughtcast. With the Signets added to my deck, I'm now running twenty artifacts, giving me a respectable number to run with Thoughtcast. Plus, Thoughtcast only costs a single Blue with the Lattice on the table, allowing me to cast Lattice a little more freely without a Shattering Spree, since I can cheaply dig for a Spree with Thoughtcast.
In: 4 Izzet Signet, 4 Thoughtcast
Out: 4 Fabricate,1 Hearth Kami, 1 Shrapnel Blast, 1 March of the Machines, 1 Mountain
Match #6: Bekoz (Black/Red Aggro)
I cast a second turn Idol, and follow it with Thoughtcast. He casts Ronin Warclub, which I follow with twin Hearth Kamis. He plays Nezumi Ronin, which blocks one of my Kamis on the attack. I put damage on the stack, and then use the Kami to kill his equipment, killing two of his cards for the cost of only one of mine. He summons Stinkweed Imp, and I turn the world into artifacts, using my Hearth Kami to kill one of his lands. My next-turn Shattering Spree earns yet another concession.
Match #7: BiPaic (Slivers)
BiPaic misses his third land drop, and plays a Shifting Sliver on the fifth turn. I drop a sixth turn Lattice, and he immediately concedes – was the legend of Grand Spree growing this quickly?
Match #8 - Chickenworm (Mono-Red Aggro)
Mad dog! MAD DOG!
I trade an early Hearth Kami for an early Mad Dog, but proceed to eat Avarax on turn 5. I play Neurok Transmuter, and he proceeds to drop Extra Arms on Avarax, and kill my blue man before I get a chance to use it to good purpose. I play Lattice; he swings and plays Pardic Swordsmith – and then I Shattering Spree Avarax, six Mountains, and the Swordsmith, earning another concession.
#9 - Charlie888 (Flamewave Invoker Combo)
Charlie drops a second turn Sakura-Tribe Elder, and follows it with a third turn Flamewave Invoker. My board is only a pair of Hearth Kamis, and they aren't doing me much good with that Elder sitting on his side of the board. He proceeds to ramp up his mana, and I'm stuck at three lands. By the time he's hit seven mana, I finally get my fourth land – an Izzet Boilerworks. I summon Neurok Transmuter and play the Boilerworks, with the plan of using the Transmuter plus Shattering Spree to kill his Invoker before it got online. Charlie888 stymied that plan by using Last Gasp to kill my blue man.
Thankfully, I draw another land and get up to Lattice mana a turn later, allowing me to kill two of his lands with my Hearth Kamis. This keeps him from being able to active his Invoker, and I Shattering Spree his remaining six lands plus his Invoker on the following turn. With nothing left on the board, Charlie888 concedes the game.
Match #10 - Marillon33 (Angels)
I play out an early Guardian Idol plus a Transmuter – and he kills them both with one Orim's Thunder. Ouch! That's not very nice now, is it? He plays Seething Song to power out a very early Silver Seraph, which is too large for the Shrapnel Blast in my hand to kill. I'm forced to cast a second Transmuter, turn his Seraph into an artifact, and Spree it. He casts Angel of Retribution, and I transmute/Spree it as well. Marillon33 then plays two Breath of Life, getting back both of his angels – but I've drawn a third Spree, and so I send them both back to the bin.
This story does not have a happy ending for yours truly, as I never get a Mycosynth Lattice, and he continues to play more angels until I am dead.
Match #11: Trigramsfistkungfu (Mirari's Wake combo)
I'm forced to mulligan two hands with no lands, but end up with an almost ideal five-card hand of Great Furnace, Seat of the Synod, Mountain, and two Thirst for Knowledge. My first four draws are Guardian Idol, Izzet Boilerworks, Shattering Spree and Mycosynth Lattice. I begin to develop my board, despite starting the game down two cards.
Meanwhile, Trigramsfistkungfu drops Wild Growth, casts a couple of Early Harvest, and drops Voice of All and Mirari's Wake on the board. I draw and play Hearth Kami on turn 5, and then play Lattice on turn 6, destroying his Wild Growthed land. He cycles Decree of Justice for three on his next turn, but I Shattering Spree his entire board away (including the Voice of All set to protection from Red – thanks again to the Lattice making spells colorless), and he concedes.
Match #12: Willy2101 (Blue/White Flyers)
I get turn 5 Lattice, turn 6 Shattering Spree, and turn 7 March of the Machines. This overpowers his plays of Commander Eesha and Serra Angel.
Match #13: Breta (Goblins)
Breta plays a third turn Spikeshot Goblin, a fourth turn Goblin King, and a fifth turn Spikeshot Goblin. I play a fifth turn Mycosynth Lattice, with Spree in hand…
And proceed to get my entire board decimated by Breta's Shattering Spree!
Record: 10-3, and feeling pretty well humbled by that last match.
Match #14: Deathwish_2012 (Affinity)
I decided to jump in and try a Classic match, and Deathwish_2012 was running fully-powered, Disciple of the Vault-enabled Affinity. Deathwish_2012 played an early Disciple, which caused me to take a lot of damage when I used Shattering Spree to kill all of his non-Disciple permanents. I used Shrapnel Blast to kill his Disciple, which took me to five life. I then proceeded to draw eight straight lands, which allowed him to eventually get up to two mana – which was enough to kill me with a Shrapnel Blast of his own.
Match #15: Trencher (Lattice/Spree)
I play a first turn artifact land, and he Shattering Sprees it. Ok, that's not the way I want to start the match! I carefully proceed to play Islands and Mountains, but he ends up discarding due to a lack of land, and concedes on turn 4. The card he discarded was Mycosynth Lattice, so I wish this game could have turned out a little better so I could have seen how the mirror match played.
Match #16: Joaorenart (Black/Blue Aggro)
I come out fast and furious with double Guardian Idol and an Izzet Signet on turn 4, but I'm humbled by an Echoing Truth on my Idols. He plays Dimir Cutpurse, and I'm forced to trade creatures with him. I drop a Transmuter and a Hearth Kami; he drops double Stinkweed Imp and a second Cutpurse, and then casts Barter in Blood. I activate one of my Idols to sacrifice to the Barter, and then block his Cutpurse with my Transmuter. My other Idol keeps on swinging, and eventually I get him down to ten, and double Shrapnel Blast for the win.
I go to sleep, and wake up the next morning with some decisions to make about the deck. First of all, I come to the conclusion that Shrapnel Blasts are useless in this deck – I only used them in a small minority of my games. Moreover, I hated drawing Izzet Boilerworks as an early land, since I wanted to be casting either card drawing spells or artifact acceleration in the early turns. I wasn't hurting for colored mana, so a simple swap for basic lands did the job just fine.
I decided to try out Remand, since it could both buy me a turn and get me a card further into my deck. This could have easily have been Counterspell or Mana Leak, but I figured that with my deck, I'd rather draw an extra card than outright stop a spell – especially since I had the potential to Lattice/Spree to keep the opponent from recasting the spell I Remanded!
Out: 3 Shrapnel Blast, 4 Izzet Boilerworks
In: 3 Remand, 2 Island, 2 Mountain
Match #17: Acheron (Cerebral Vortex/Teferi's Puzzle Box)
Acheron drops an early Teferi's Puzzle Box, and then transmutes Drift of Phantasms into Cerebral Vortex. I unload my hand quickly, and wait until I can drop Mycosynth Lattice with Remand to back it up. This plan works, as Acheron only has one Counterspell in hand, and I Shattering Spree his entire side of the board on the following turn.
Match #18: Zahntavier (Warp World)
He leads with Selesnya Guildmage
, and then follows it with a quick Auratouched Mage
, powered out two turns early thanks to Overgrowth
. I play Neurok Transmuter
and Shattering Spree
them both. He then casts Warp World
, which takes out half of my permanents, and sets him up for a near-infinite mana loop with Anarchist
, Warp World
s, Fists of Ironwood
and Galvanic Arc
. I concede in the face of infinite Warp World
Match #19: Mage 973 (White Aggro)
Mage 973 advertised this game as no discard/no land destruction, and so when I got off my Lattice/Spree combo on the seventh turn, he was upset. This taught me a valuable lesson – no land destruction means no land destruction, to any degree. I thought that he had meant that he didn't want to face Stone Rains and Demolishes. Still, it's important to respect other people's wishes, and so I resolved to avoid any other matches with people who were advertising that they didn't want to play against land destruction.
Match #20: ExSpongeX (Zombies)
He drops an early Cabal Coffers, which powers out an Undead Warchief, two Soulless Ones, and a Shepherd of Rot. I die very quickly, although if I had drawn any creatures this game, I probably could have chump blocked long enough to get off my combo.
Match #21: FreakyBlue1 (Black/Blue Mill)
FreakyBlue1 hits me with a second turn Glimpse the Unthinkable, and then attempts to cast Leyline of Singularity on the fifth turn. I Remand his Leyline, since I have two Guardian Idols in play, and then drop Lattice the following turn. He replays the Leyline, killing my Idols – and then I Shattering Spree all of his permanents, drawing a concession.
Match #22: Troghol12 – (Green Aggro)
Public Enemy #1 of Mycosynth County
There's no early game action until Troghol12 tries to cast Kodama of the North Tree – which is quite back for me to face. I realize that my deck has some difficulties dealing with non-targetable creatures. I drop Mycosynth Lattice, he attacks for six. I Shattering Spree all of his permanents except for the Kodama, he hits me for six. Even though I'm sitting pretty on my board position, the Kodama is proving to be a serious threat.
I drop Neurok Transmuter, and when he attacks I activate Guardian Idol and attempt to double block. He casts Naturalize on my Idol, and I finally get to use the Transmuter's second ability – turning artifact creatures into non-artifact creatures! This counters his Naturalize, and sends his Kodama to the graveyard. In face of this play, Trolghol12 gives me a “good game” and leaves the match.
Match #23: Rocky Dennis (Five-Color Domain)
This was a really slow game, and I had a lot of time to set up my hand. I dropped a Lattice on the eighth turn, and he responded by casting Peek. My hand – Remand, Remand, and March of the Machines. Rocky Dennis did not like what he saw, and conceded on the spot.
Match #24: Creasty (Mono-Black Discard)
Quote of the week: “All that just for some Land Destruction?”
Match #25: Zanet (Black/Blue Ninjas)
Zanet uses early Ornithopters to power out a quick pair of Ninja of the Deep Hours. I drop Neurok Transmuter, and he hits me with Okiba-Gang Shinobi, making me lose March of the Machines and Great Furnace. However, I do have Shattering Spree still, and I use the Transmuter to turn his three Ninjas into Artifacts, and then Spree away five of his creatures – the two Deep Hours, and Shinobi, and a pair of Ornithopters. On the following turn, I drop Mycosynth Lattice, and then use a second Shattering Spree to take out his entire board.
So was Grand Spree a success? I'd say yes. It was easy and cheap to put together, I could often get the Mycosynth Lattice/Shattering Spree combo to work, and I never had a match where I felt like I couldn't draw the right cards to win. The cards interacted well together. I had very few problems with mana (either drawing enough or getting the right colors). Most importantly – I had a blast piloting this deck! There's just something insidiously fun about using the littlest Shatter that could to take out a world of Angels, Dragons, and lands.
It's Time To Play Doctor!
One of the things I was charged with when I took over this column was to run an occasional "Deck Doctor" series where I pick a reader-submitted decklist and then spend some time taking it in two different directions. Of course, in order to do that, I need readers to, you know, submit decklists. So here's your chance to make it big! Submit an Extended or Standard legal decklist via the forums and it's possible I'll pick your deck to fiddle with two weeks from now. Just try to remember that this is Building on a Budget, so it's more likely you will get picked if your deck isn't packed to the gills with rares.