April 15, 2016

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Bad Brews: Deck Builder’s Toolkit

Hello and welcome to Bad Brews!

For the last nine weeks we have been doing some very interesting things with some extremely bad cards. We have kept it nice and clean, even when we we’re making up the rules as we were going along. We came up with some of the worst brews possible and it’s been a lot of fun.

This week, to celebrate the tenth instalment of Bad Brews we are going to try something a little different. As we all know, Shadows Over Innistrad came out last week and with it fun products from Wizards of the Coast. For me, the most fun will come in the form of the Deck Builder’s Toolkit. The Deck Builder’s Toolkit is designed to get any new player all that they need to build their first new deck.

So let’s take a look at what’s inside the box!

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Every toolkit is essentially the same, inside we find…

  • 100 Land
  • 125 Semi-randomized cards
  • 2 Boosters of Shadows Over Innistrad
  • 2 Boosters of Battle For Zendikar
  • 1 How to play guide
  • 1 How to build a deck guide

So what does semi-randomized really mean?

It means we are working with a group of cards from a group of 85 fixed cards and a group of 40 cards that make up decent deck building strategies in commons and uncommon cards. All the fixed cards as well as the semi-random cards are from Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, Shadows over Innistrad and Welcome 2016.

Wait. So what is Welcome 2016?

Welcome 2016 is the set of 16 cards that are Standard legal until the time that Shadows Over Innistrad rotates out. What is interesting about them is that they are not just cards from the most recent sets but cards from as far back as Alpha and Beta. Granted those cards have been reprinted to death, so much so that even though they are bombs, they have little to no value.

Here is a list of the Welcome 2016 cards included in the Shadows Over Innistrad Deck Builder’s Toolkit:

This year’s Welcome cards differ slightly from the cards that we’re included in the Magic Origins Deck Builder’s Toolkit. In the case of the rare cards we see Sphinx of Magosi in the blue slot, and Soul of the Harvest in green.

The how to play guide is basically the same as it was in previous editions of the welcome products for Magic. In fact they are exactly the same as the ones going as far back as Magic Origins. To the point that they are still announcing Magic Duels as coming soon. If you have any experience playing the game, you know full well that this is going to end up in the recycling bin. If not, it ends a helpful reminder as to the steps of the turn, but again, very little use for someone who knows the game well.

There is however a new addition to the pack, and a welcome one at that. The deck building guide tells you the basics of how to build a deck. It also has a wonderful breakdown of the colour pie that might help you understand the basic strategies that each colour employs. This poster-sized piece of paper is far more helpful than its learn to play counterpart, and bares a striking resemblance to the poster on how to play Commander released with last years Commander product.

If you are looking for Innistrad land, the Deck Builder’s Toolkit is the way to go, as while it is hard to find the land you are looking for in booster packs of Shadows Over Innistrad, what with the checklist card taking up a slot in the pack, it is easy to grab them here. Just a heads up for those of you looking to complete a playset of each card in the set.

Finally for the meat and potatoes of this piece, the booster packs. Let’s see what I cracked open in each of the packs.

BOOSTER 1 – Shadows Over Innistrad

BOOSTER 2 – Shadows Over Innistrad

Booster 3 – Battle For Zendikar

Booster 4 – Battle for Zendikar

From this we brew!

I randomly picked out two colours for this deck. Black and Green. That’s the magic of this product, is that you can in fact build out a deck in any two colours and get something relatively playable. I chose Black and Green because I opened a Foul Orchard in pack two and wanted to see what I could brew using those colours.

After arranging the cards in a mana curve, I noticed that I had a ton of cards on the top end of my curve. This area is normally relegated to finishers, and I didn’t want to have too many of them in my deck, so I had to make some cuts. The first to go was Plated Crusher. Even with a decent amount of ramp, which the toolkit has in spades, I felt it cost way too much mana to feasibly play. The second cut was Nightmare. Great in a mono black deck, but a little underwhelming in anything else. Plus, if I was going to ramp into it, it might come out very weak and easy to remove. My third cut at the top end was Soul of the Harvest. An easy cut because late game, I didn’t think I was going to have enough nontoken creatures coming on to the battlefield to actually get card draw off it.

Now to cut some chaff from the deck. We took out a few cards that might not make the cut. Rabid Bite, was the first to go. Sylvan Scrying might have kept us on curve but with enough lands in the deck it wouldn’t really matter. Loam Larva was basically the same. Oakenform was a nice creature buff, but most of the creatures I was playing had their own ways to buff themselves. Solitary Hunter was not a bad card to play, but its real power lies in your opponent not having spells to play, and I didn’t want to rely on that for a big creature. Then finally I cut a second Tajuru Pathwarden, just to make sure my creature base didn’t get redundant.

As for ramping into the big stuff early, I threw in a few of the cards from the Deck Builder’s Toolkit to make us get there quicker. Kozilek’s Channeler, Hedron Archive, Seer’s Lantern and two copies of Hedron Crawler round off the colourless ramp I was throwing into the deck. Add to that the Lifespring Druids that came in the Toolkit, and we are laughing.

So let’s take a look at this mess, shall we?

Bad Brews: Deck Builder’s Toolkit

Creatures (24)
Blisterpod
Elusive Tormentor
Giant Mantis
Hedron Crawler
Kozilek’s Channeler
Lifespring Druid
Malakir Familiar
Nirkana Assassin
Oran-Rief Invoker
Pack Guardian
Sengir Vampire
Silent Skimmer
Tajuru Pathwarden
Ulvenwald Hydra
Vampire Envoy
Voracious Null
Walking Corpse
Zulaport Cutthroat

Instants (3)
Aim High
Natural Connection
Plummet

Sorceries (5)
Dutiful Return
Incremental Growth
Macabre Waltz
Shamble Back

Artifacts (2)
Hedron Archive
Seer’s Lantern

Lands (26)
Crumbling Vestige
Forest
Foul Orchard
Swamp
Unknown Shores

This deck is clearly all over the place, which is, admittedly kind of the point of the Deck Builder’s Toolkit. It gives you a chance to play with some cards that you might never have actually taken the time to get to know. It also let’s you experiment in a controlled environment, developing you own deck ideas as you go. As a nice little bonus, it leaves you with enough cards to make a second deck for you to test out your first deck with.

So that’s it for this week’s Bad Brews. Join us next week when we get back to basics and brew up something really terrible with another pack from Standard. Thanks for joining us, and as always, may your brews be as bad as mine.