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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:17 pm 
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My sample size is still pretty small with the new format, but I've already had a few games where Linvala was the difference between winning and losing, so I really like her in Zerris's deck. She's a great target for Bruna. I had one game against prowess where I cast Linvala and got both the token and the 5 life. My opponent used removal on the token and had to place another spell to deal with the Linvala herself. Next turn, Bruna got her back for more life and another token, and it was too much for the Prowess player to deal with.

It's also nice that Bruna's trigger is on casting her, so she doesn't increase your creature count when Linvala's ETB ability triggers after returning from the graveyard.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:40 am 
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Zerris, I took out your Azban for a trip in versus last night and man, are there ever several options. Liliana gives me headaches. i was playing against Dimir Zombies and it was a pretty close match but I had the tools to win and misused them. I was getting Overwatch invites from my buddy non-stop and it was putting me on tilt so i made some dumb decisions like:

Ultimating Gideon on arrival. That was dumb cuz against Dimir, i'm much better off pumping out creatures.
Using Last Hope Liliana to do the -2/-1 when I have Archangel in the yard. DAMMIT!

It also got me to realize what a total bomb Liliana Last Hope is. RECURRING Graveyard tutoring?!?! That is insane! Like is there ever going to be a moment that her ultimate is a better play than her -2? I guess against mill... but man her -2 is totally crazy.

Anyway, i need to get better with the deck. I made lots of mistakes and ultimately lost. I needed to flip Avacyn badly

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:45 pm 
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Zerris wrote:
V 1.1
Spoiler


So...I was thinking (the horror!) - Bruna doesn't have a whole lot of targets; is the smallish meld chance worth it, or would Shepherd be a decent replacement?

Also, I think with the meta shifting to less aggro, either Grasp or Murder should sub out for something more recursive. My candidates were Ever After, Grapple with the Past, or Pulse of Murasa. Pulse struck me as a particularly strong choice in that the life gain gives you "food" for Ob Noxious/Unmaking, and is also Instant. Can set up loops with Greenwarden too. I haven't tested yet, but my impulse it to drop Murder for being the more expensive option. It doesn't look like big creatures should often trouble you, so the cheaper price on Grasp should be more important. Thoughts?

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:22 pm 
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So...I was thinking (the horror!) - Bruna doesn't have a whole lot of targets; is the smallish meld chance worth it, or would Shepherd be a decent replacement?

Also, I think with the meta shifting to less aggro, either Grasp or Murder should sub out for something more recursive. My candidates were Ever After, Grapple with the Past, or Pulse of Murasa. Pulse struck me as a particularly strong choice in that the life gain gives you "food" for Ob Noxious/Unmaking, and is also Instant. Can set up loops with Greenwarden too. I haven't tested yet, but my impulse it to drop Murder for being the more expensive option. It doesn't look like big creatures should often trouble you, so the cheaper price on Grasp should be more important. Thoughts?



My two cents:
-Bruna is a lot better than Sheperd. Being bigger and haveng Vigilance is huge; also you don't need a Plains specifically in hand for the effect. While Bruna may not have as many targets as Sheperd, she has enough high-impact ones; Gisela is optimal of course but also Avacyn, Linvala and the Trackers make good targets. If you want more targets maybe Thalia is an idea, but I don't think she's very good currently.
-I completely understand your wish to have some more recursion in the deck. Grapple is the superior choice to Pulse IMO as it can fix your draws nicely - basically every hand with Evolving Wilds, land and Grapple can potentially be kept - and may even present you with more options what to play from the yard. I believe I would start cutting Grasp of Darkness. You lose some stability vs. aggro, but Murder just kills so many creatures Grasp does not, especially with the Duels meta shaping up to be pretty slow this season.


EDIT: Just threw a list together and it has been working very nicely so far. My changes from Zerris' list:
+3 Gnarlwood Dryad
+4 Grapple with the Past
+1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
+1 Plains
+1 Forest

-3 Blessed Alliance
-3 Grasp of Darkness
-1 Reclamation Sage
-1 Woodland Bellower
-2 Swamp

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:02 pm 
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Alright, time for this season's Abzan brew. The Fading Light was a fun control deck - but it's much too slow and wrath-based to survive in a meta whose foundation is red aggro, often with vehicles. What can Kaladesh bring to our deck?


Background

A lot of decks feature "build-around" cards like Sphinx's Tutelage or Oath of Nissa, where the entire deck just lines up for any draw that includes the card, and feels noticeably weaker without it. What if I told you that Kaladesh brought the ultimate build-around card for our Abzan deck - and at uncommon?

Those of you who enjoy grindy creature recursion might think I mean Restoration Gearsmith. Those with more of a combo side might be expecting Refurbish. Maybe some of you are even contemplating cool Diabolic Tutor brews!

Nope - I'm talking about Filigree Familiar - the adorable 2/2 for 3 with a little upside.


Old Familiar Faces
(Midrange-Control)

Threats

3x Gnarlwood Dryad
2x Sylvan Advocate
2x Smuggler's Copter
1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer/Nissa, Sage Animist
2x Tireless Tracker
2x Reclamation Sage
3x Filigree Familiar
1x Liliana, the Last Hope
1x Mindwrack Demon
1x Ishkanah, Grafwidow
1x Ob Nixilis Reignited
1x Nissa, Vital Force
1x Noxious Gearhulk
1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis
2x [] Distended Mindbender

Spells

3x Grasp of Darkness
4x Grapple with the Past
2x Anguished Unmaking
2x Languish

Lands (25)

1x Plains
5x Swamp
5x Forest
4x Evolving Wilds
2x Hissing Quagmire
2x Shambling Vent
2x Woodland Cemetery
2x Isolated Chapel
2x Aether Hub


Discussion

The first thing you'll notice is that this deck is very light on white spells. In fact, there are only three in the entire list. However, they're also not costing much in the mana base. In fact, getting to play Shambling Vent - arguably the best land in duels - probably improves the quality of our lands. In exchange, we run a single shameful basic plains. We're not even running the full complement of dual lands - we really just need enough swamps for Grasp of Darkness and Liliana, the Last Hope. Grapple with the Past also helps out the mana base, and Filigree Familiar can conveniently be cast off anything.

Now, back to the deck. The idea of this deck is to play a midrange game, while reliably crushing red aggro decks - which seem to be the largest portion of a fairly diverse meta. In particular, I really wanted access to Languish as a sweeper and Gnarlwood Dryad/Grapple with the Past as filtering plus cheap interaction. I feel like all three of those cards are very well positioned right now. But that means running a delirium shell - and delirium has always struggled in duels because it's hard to enable it efficiently enough to get the benefit. This is where Filigree Familiar starts to show off - right at the typeline: "Artifact Creature". Our main delirium enabler is Grapple, so hitting a Familiar and a land can turn on delirium in a single go. Since we're already running delirium, might as well run the full set of quality payoffs - all five of them. (sad face)

But if we're going for delirium, there's another great enabler in Kaladesh: Smuggler's Copter. If you pay the deckbuilding cost (a ridiculous number of high-utility 1-3 mana creatures) then this card might be the strongest in the set. If only we had a good 3-drop to crew it the turn after it came down... what's that? Filigree Familiar does the job? Perfect! Copter is also why we're running things like double Reclamation Sage over the more common Reclamation Sage + Woodland Bellower. We're running 13 on-curve creatures to crew the copters, plus an additional 2-3 if needed in the form of Grapple with the Past. And, if nothing else, it's an artifact itself for delirium.

The next card worth commenting on plays very nicely with our game-plan of getting cards into the yard to fuel delirium and pulling them back out with Grapple. It's Distended Mindbender! We've got six solid 3-mana targets, in addition to some less-ideal cheap targets, Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Noxious Gearhulk, and whatever we return with grapple - together, that should be enough to have something reasonable to sacrifice. Casting Mindbender on turn four is the easiest way to win a game you had no right winning, and absolutely smash a game that might have been close. Of course, the best target is... Filigree Familiar! Man, I'm mentioning that card a lot. Using Grapple to chain off your two Mindbenders is hilarious, and will lead your opponent rage quitting.

The removal suite is greatly toned down from Eldritch Moon. Notably, with all the focus on vehicles, the value of artifact synergies, and the lack of white mana, we've dropped Declaration in Stone. The white wraths left as well - they're too expensive given how often they miss in this format. In fact, our best removal spell doesn't even show up in the spell section - it's Gnarlwood Dryad, which acts as a wall against creatures without flying. It even comes with the added value of being easily recycled with Grapple and Liliana. Instead of killing creatures, we're just trying to put up good blockers. (For example, Filigree Familiar)

Our win conditions are mostly Walkers. An unchecked Ob Nixilis Reignited or Sorin, Grim Nemesis pulls a game out of reach very quickly, and a Nissa, Vital Force Emblem is hard for any deck to out-value; I've yet to lose after getting it. Noxious Gearhulk takes the place of most-immediate value 6-drop creature, and thus a good end-game target for Liliana, Grapple, Nissa -3, etc. It's also another Artifact Creature for delirium.

As a midrange deck, you need to have some good answers to not getting burned out, and not getting beaten by 1-for-1 removal on the back of Dynavolt Tower. Luckily, we have multiple answers, in the form of Filigree Familiar, and also Filigree Familiar. Alongside Grapple, this card easily gains 6-8 life in a game, which is enough to pull us back from the brink. It's also a fantastic card against a deck of Harnessed Lightnings and Blessed Alliances.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is: "Filigree Familiar". It may not do any single job perfectly, but it does every job well, and that's the kind of card I like playing.

...The rest of the deck is pretty good too, but it's just Mythics.dec, so that's not nearly as exciting.


And that's a wrap...

It's the must-have gift for everyone on your list. Get one for yourself, too!

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If I ever built an Esper Control deck, it would still somehow contain 2x Sylvan Advocate, 2x Tireless Tracker, 1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer, 1x Reclamation Sage, 1x Nissa, Vital Force, and 1x Woodland Bellower.


Last edited by Zerris on Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:57 am 
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Really like the list.... and the plan.... and the fox


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:08 am 
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Maybe it's just me, but I'd like Greenwarden of Murasa in this list. Maybe for the Demon, as it least affects the board, when it comes into play.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:45 am 
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I don't love the Demon in this list either, but would replace it with Thought-Knot Seer. I think he's very definitely easy enough to splash off Aether Hubs, 1 Wastes as well as maybe a utility land, and his payoff is huge.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:10 pm 
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Mindwrack Demon might be a little weak, but I do still like everything it brings to the table. We need a way to block opposing Thopters and Smuggler's Copters, we want threats we can deploy that force our opponents to extend even further into Languish without dying to it themselves, and we very much care about the self-mill for four, because we're pretty short on actual Delirium enabling cards. Like Filigree Familiar, it may not be perfect at any one job, but we are using every part of the buffalo demon.

Contemplated Thought-Knot Seer, but I hate playing cards that die to my own Languish. Also, white is incredibly easier to splash than colorless - colorless costs us 4 more land slots, which basically trashes the mana base if you still want to be casting Grasp of Darkness. Never mind that Shambling Vent is arguably the best utility land already.

For a quick comparison, here's the mana base that supports Thought-Knot with colorless in place of white:

1x Wastes
6x Swamp
2x Forest
4x Evolving Wilds
2x Hissing Quagmire
2x Woodland Cemetery
3x Foul Orchard
3x Aether Hub
2x Foundry of the Consuls

And here's a mana base with both:

1x Plains
1x Wastes
2x Swamp
1x Forest
4x Evolving Wilds
2x Hissing Quagmire
2x Shambling Vent
2x Woodland Cemetery
1x Isolated Chapel
4x Foul Orchard
3x Aether Hub
2x Foundry of the Consuls

These are not pretty mana bases.

Greenwarden of Murasa is just too slow for Kaladesh. It's a good card if you expect games to still be close on turn 7. That's... not really the case. Most games are being decided by turn 5, so it's hard to justify anything over 5 mana that doesn't completely turn the game around the turn you play it.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:25 pm 
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It also got me to realize what a total bomb Liliana Last Hope is. RECURRING Graveyard tutoring?!?! That is insane! Like is there ever going to be a moment that her ultimate is a better play than her -2?

You mean besides literally any time you could use it?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:39 pm 
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lol

she's a severe and urgent threat in creatureless decks FFS

I would never even consider the -2 unless she was doomed to die the next turn anyway. Not even in a deck like this.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:51 pm 
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otrisk wrote:
lol

she's a severe and urgent threat in creatureless decks FFS

I would never even consider the -2 unless she was doomed to die the next turn anyway. Not even in a deck like this.


This; if I was facing lethal as to where I needed a creature to save me then sure, but 98% of the time you're slamming that emblem.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:14 pm 
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The problem is that we only get one copy due to rarity restrictions. The emblem is so game breaking that we can't afford to use the second ability (unless; like mentioned, we have no choice) without risking/exposing the walker unnecessarily. If we were able to have more copies, decks could get value out of all the abilities and still have the chance to win the game on the back of its ultimate.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 3:27 am 
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Let's see; what about this manabase?

Lands (26):
1 x Plains
4 x Swamp
3 x Forest
1 x Wastes
2 x Shambling Vent
2 x Hissing Quagmire
2 x Isolated Chapel
2 x Woodland Cemetery
2 x Foundry of the Consules
3 x Aether Hub
4 x Evolving Wilds


Gives you 19, 14, 12, 10; and most lands enter play untapped. You also have additional fixing through Grapple as well as flip-Nissa for (which is only needed by Nissa, Vital Force).

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:06 am 
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Is Aether Hub where we really want or be though? We're not a fast deck necessarily, and with having no way to generate energy, that could hurt in situations needing .

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:34 am 
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Awesome deck Zerris. When the deck decides to be more control oriented, the artifact fox with recursion theme is very good and white splash for exile + sorin totally makes sense. TKS is more of a midrange-aggro disruptive card than control card, same as reality smasher. For control it doesn't make sense to splash colorless.

Talking about BG delirium, this deck can easily turn into a pretty aggressive midrange deck with recursion as an anti-control factor. Simply take out the foxes, Noxious gearhulk and white splash, sub in scrapheap scrounger, a few vessels to enable delirium faster, maybe a few recruiters, verdurous gearhulk, bellower, skyship and cruisers etc. I think it is a very all-around balanced deck and I tested it a lot for tournament.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 3:57 pm 
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If I ever built an Esper Control deck, it would still somehow contain 2x Sylvan Advocate, 2x Tireless Tracker, 1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer, 1x Reclamation Sage, 1x Nissa, Vital Force, and 1x Woodland Bellower.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 1:51 am 
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Played this deck to rank 40. It started as an Orzhov deck built around Bruna, the Fading Light, but I wound up splashing Green for more power. The result is something that includes all of control, midrange and aggro, and even some combo elements. Given the right draw it CAN kill the opponent with damage in five turns; on the other hand it's also happy to go late. I think I won somewhere between 70-80% of my games on the way up from the low 20s.

2 x Smuggler's Copter
1 x Skysovereign, Consul Flagship

3 x Blessed Alliance
3 x Grasp of Darkness
2 x Murder
2 x Anguished Unmaking

2 x Languish
2 x Read the Bones

2 x Thalia, Heretic's Cathar
1 x Nissa, Vastwood Seer
2 x Tireless Tracker
2 x Kambal, Consul of Allocation
1 x Gisela, the Broken Blade
1 x Kytheon's Irregulars
1 x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 x Archangel Avacyn
1 x Noxious Gearhulk
2 x Bruna, the Fading Light

1 x Liliania, the Last Hope
1 x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 x Ob Nixilis Reignited
1 x Sorin, Grim Nemesis

1 x Forest
5 x Plains
5 x Swamp
2 x Shambling Vent
2 x Canopy Vista
2 x Woodland Cemetery
2 x Isolated Chapel
2 x Sunpetal Grove
4 x Forsaken Sanctuary


About the card choices:

* The vehicles are too powerful to not run in my opinion. Early in the game, discard win conditions with Copter; later, discard angels and humans since Bruna brings them back.
* The removal package is quite standard, but it might be better to have 3x Murder and 2x Blessed Alliance. Or possibly Skywhaler's Shot instead of Murder, but then Murder does kill some crucial creatures Skywhaler's does not (e.g. Needling Spires).
* 2 Read the Bones only because Tracker does provide some card draw.
* The green splash is for Nissa and Tireless Tracker. Tracker is a great standalone card, and can also be brought back with Bruna. Nissa is too powerful to not run.
* Kytheon's Irregulars is a very uncommon choice. I had one flex slot and I needed more creatures, preferably humans or angels, and I ran out of options. The lower-cost humans are all weak. Kytheon is capable of stalling things like Ulamog or a transformed Westvale Abbey. The second-last game I won on my ranking up grind was won by Kytheon, who stalled Needling Spires long enough for me to not die. I would certainly run Thalia's Lancers if we had it. In this slot, I am not sure if Angel of Fabrication is generically better (haven't tried that card).
* Kalitas isn't a human or angel. I'm running him purely because of the card's power level. He hasn't been spectacular however. I'm open to replacing him.
* Archangel Avacyn is an angel that can be returned by Bruna. Being a flash creature is also great, especially in a deck with creatures. One can ambush attackers, or simply flash in at the end of turn to hit a planeswalker. Great card, would run more if it weren't mythic.
* Noxious Gearhulk is obviously strong. Works great with Liliana -2 as well.
* I have 25 lands to support the top end. I dislike come-into-play tapped lands but had to run Forsaken Sanctuary to keep the mana base more consistent. The single forest is to search up with Nissa. There's a 50% chance I draw Nissa before I draw the forest, in which case great; in the other 50% chance at least I am guaranteed not to be color screwed to cast Nissa. I'd run two forests, but I can't cut any of the other colour sources.
* Rest of the cards should be self-explanatory. Liliana -2 is stronger than I originally thought, which is likely a relic of my time playing Esper control with almost no creatures. In this deck it's often great value to return a card like Bruna or Noxious Gearhulk with Liliana. In fact later in the game if both players are topdecking and low on threats, -2 Liliana into Tireless Tracker is also something I'd do.

Tips:

* Given the choice, play black mana before the other colors early, because there's always the chance of topdecking Liliana at 3 mana and you want to be able to play it.
* Later in the game, don't play out all your lands if you don't need them. You might topdeck Tireless Tracker.
* Kambal is a legend, even if he's enchanted with Imprisoned in the Moon. You can't have two on the field at the same time.
* You can tap a 1- or 2- power creature to crew Copter, then tap Copter to crew Skysovereign.
* Bruna returning Gisela typically wins the game because it shuts out most forms of removal like Murder and Declaration in Stone. Try to do it while the opponent is tapped out since otherwise he can respond to the trigger with his instant-kill spell. Sadly though, it's only happened once for me in all the games I played, including many trial runs against the AI.
* You can kill your own creature to trigger Avacyn.
* Don't be a retard and attack with Shambling Vent before using Languish (I did it once and lost the game because of it).
* If Sorin is going to die next turn anyway, you can go for the -5 even if it's overkill for some extra life.
* If you ever tick Liliana up to her ultimate, I recommend just her ultimate instead of get greedy and going for 8 loyalty. You don't need Liliana's +1 mode to win if you have the emblem. Better to use it than risk the opponent topdecking something like Skysovereign or Anguished Unmaking.
* Against some decks (especially the control decks) it may be wiser to play and flip Nissa on the same turn, especially if they are tapped out. I recommend against getting greedy with Nissa as well. The turn she flips, I almost invariably use the -2 mode.

Ideas for improvement:

* I originally tried Lone Rider instead of Kytheon's Irregulars. There is after all quite some lifegain in the deck, in particular an escalated Blessed Alliance flips Lone Rider while also killing a creature. I eventually turned away from the idea though, because Lone Rider has a mere one power. Typically he won't be able to attack into bigger creatures, which means things like a single trigger of Kambal does not flip him. Even if he does flip it's often not worth the effort to do so. I also had a couple of games where Tooth Collector or Liliana killed him for free. The card is good in a deck with Thalia's Lieutenants, Always Watching, etc, but not in this one.
* The major idea I have to improve this deck is to cut green and put in some colorless lands & cards. Thought Knot Seer for example could be very useful, as could Matter Reshaper or even Filigree Familiar. There is also enough lifegain to support something like Westvale Abbey. Problem with these cards though is that they aren't angels or humans. Westvale Abbey also seems awfully slow, by the standards of this deck.
* It's completely possible that there are enough good cards out there to use instead of worry about Bruna, e.g. Sylvan Advocate, Woodland Wanderer.
* Evolving Wilds is possible, but in my experience I'm seldom colour-screwed, and there are enough lands that come into play tapped.

Main weakness of the deck in my experience is that sometimes the draw just doesn't line up. I might for example be at 7 mana with nothing else except Bruna to cast, yet have no angels or humans in my graveyard. Early in the game it's also entirely possible to have Copter out with no creature to man it. Finally the deck will lose some games to itself courtesy of the tricolor mana base.

If anyone wants to try tweaking the deck, these are the cards that haven't really been impressive and I'd put first on the chopping block:

Kytheon's Irregulars (duh)
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Kambal, Consul of Allocation (won some games because of his effect but more often than not he's just a 2/3 - however, he is a human that can be targeted with Bruna)

Comments welcome!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 8:41 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:49 am 
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So this is pretty much my final draft of the briar deck. Its mid-rangish and easily goes very tall. Its been quite consistent on the ladder at R40 and can hold its own against most of the meta.

The life of briar

Creature(17)
2 x Selfless Spirit
3 x Winding Constrictor
1 x Yahenni, Undying Partisan
4 x Bloodbriar
2 x Tireless Tracker
2 x Woodland Wanderer
1 x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 x Verdurous Gearhulk
1 x The Gitrog Monster

Instant(4)
2 x Fatal Push
2 x Anguished Unmaking

Sorcery(4)
2 x Angelic Purge
2 x Yahenni's Expertise

Enchantment(8)
3 x Unbridled Growth
3 x Hidden Stockpile
2 x Oath of Ajani

Planeswalker(3)
1 x Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
1 x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 x Ajani Unyielding

Land(24)
2 x Shambling Vent
2 x Plains
3 x Swamp
2 x Hissing Quagmire
2 x Canopy Vista
4 x Forest
2 x Sunpetal Grove
2 x Woodland Cemetery
1 x Westvale Abbey
4 x Evolving Wilds


To view this deck go to: https://www.magicduelshelper.com/deckli ... 79e678ecd2

Created using Magic Duels Helper: http://www.magicduelshelper.com

Don't underestimate the briar, it can grow very quickly. An idea curve goes something like:
T1 Unbridled
T2 Snake
T3 briar (sac the Unbridled if you don't need the fixing and briar goes 4/5, out of Grasp range)
T4 Tracker into Evolving Wilds (which you sac and briar is 6/7 out of Grasp/burn range) and you have a clue ready for next turn.
T5 drop Nissa or Oath of Ajani and go to town...

Dream play? Not really, that's the kind of draws I get all the time... The deck has plenty of cheap bombs that get very big and can apply pressure very early, most decks will have a hard time dealing with so many.
I guess you could add the Last Push and more angelic purge which, are top-notch is this deck, because they exile all those troublesome Vehicles and tutelages while making the briar grow (don't be afraid to sac Land, the deck has plenty).
Weaknesses: a tendency to flood later on and a certain weakness to flying. Things like Avacyn can be a problem, but going much taller than her usually helps and don't forget those purges too.
Enjoy!

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