For those who haven't been listening to my podcast, Freshly Brewed, with Ali Aintrazi...why not?
For those that have, you'd know that this week's episode we brewed up a Turbo Fog list from scratch. This version ended up being Bant, as opposed to the previous blue/green version, as the benefits we gained from white were too numerous. While the list wasn't terribly different from the list that Ali initially proposed in his article a couple weeks back, this was what we decided on...
I know James Newman went 6-0 before losing three in a row at the recent SCG Open, so I felt the concept definitely had some promise. We just had to be able to defend against most of the threats in the format. I was curious if we could do it, and where we might need to shore things up, so let's take a look.
While we didn't get many wins, we did get to play against some pretty sweet lists thanks to Magic Origins.
The first thing I realized when I was testing the deck after Ali and I brewed it up was that it was most likely just better as a blue/white deck rather than a Bant deck. The only green cards in the entire deck are four Winds of Qal Sisma, two Defend the Hearth, and one Bow of Nylea. This isn't nearly enough to justify green. Meanwhile focusing more on white makes our mana better and also gives us access to some really solid removal like Swift Reckoning and Valorous Stance in the maindeck. We could even play something like Elspeth, Sun's Champion if we wanted to dip into an alternate win condition. I also like the idea of Adding Nyx-Fleece Ram if we're going blue/white as it gains us incremental life and holds down the fort while we build toward one of our sweepers.
Another thing I realized is that Alhammarret's Archive and Orbs of Warding are both too cute. Five mana is just too much to pay for these abilities based on the amount of pay off we're getting. By the time we drop Orbs our opponent has already attacked, burned, and Thoughtseized us, and by our deck isn't built in such a way to take advantage of the Archive; at most we would draw an extra card or two on our turn when we're already drawing an extra card or two. Life gain isn't very prominent in our deck aside from our single Resolute Archangel (which was consistently awesome) so that half of the card barely works.
After so many matches, I realized we definitely wanted the fourth Sphinx's Tutelage. There were so many times where I was drawing multiple cards per turn, yet had no actual way to win or advance my position in the game. I would even go so far as to trade one Monastery Siege for one Sphinx's Tutelage, as I always want a Tutelage on turn three while Monastery Siege always makes me feel like I'm forced to discard good cards to its ability when I don't have a way to draw more than one extra card per a turn.
If I had to propose a UW version of the deck today, it would look something like this.
I know I mentioned Nyx-Fleece Ram, and I love that little guy, but my biggest problem is that it immediately turns on all our opponent's removal, including things like Valorous Stance that would otherwise be dead. Arashin Cleric on the other hand gives us our bonus up front, which is nice if they want to kill it.
Other than that I made the deck more of a typical draw-go deck. All of our eight new creatures cost two mana so they work great with Ojutai's Command, and all of our draw spells can be cast at instant speed. Sphinx's Tutelage is still our primary win condition, and now we have Jace to help us draw an extra card each turn or eventually flashback something like a Jace's Ingenuity or an End Hostilities. The deck actually reminds me of a standard UW Control list, only instead of attacking with something like Elspeth, we're simply milling our opponent's out with cards that are much harder to deal with through the maindeck.
Another thing I considered was adding a couple of Thopter Spy Networks, taking out a couple or Arashin Clerics, and adding the fourth Darksteel Citadel. This plan was compelling as the card draw from the Spy Network furthers our plan as well as providing relevant blockers.
In fact the more I look, the more I like...
-2 Arashin Cleric
-1 Temple of Epiphany
+1 Darksteel Citadel+2 Thopter Spy Network
-1 Fated Retribution
-2 Solemn Offering
+2 Arashin Cleric
+1 Hallowed Moonlight
The previous version of the deck was actually incredibly weak to two specific cards: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Back to Nature. This is why we wanted Negate not only in the maindeck, but in the sideboard as well. This version doesn't actually care about those cards as much as we're not "all in" on enchantments anymore and we're able to control the game a lot better with our white removal and our blue Counterspells. I really wanted cards like Anticipate and Dig Through Time in the deck, but since they don't actually "draw" us cards, it seemed better to go with things like Artificer's Epiphany and Jace's Ingenuity.
While I don't think our Bant list was a success, that's the beauty of brewing: we tried something new! If you missed the episode of Freshly Brewed where Ali and I created the deck, be sure and check it out here, and be sure and subscribe through iTunes to catch any future brew sessions Ali and I might partake in. I'll be back on Monday with something sweet, so be sure and check back then. Thanks for reading and I'll see ya then!
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Freshly Brewed Podcast with Ali Aintrazi (available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio)