Welcome, friends of multiplayer Magic!
One of the frequent joys I get from playing Magic is that it allows me to update my decks whenever I feel like it. I figured out years ago that what I like best about this game is the process of building decks and evolving them over time. I absolutely love deck-doctoring, i.e. taking somebody else’s deck and trying to find ways to improve it. And my own decks never stay the same for long as I’m constantly reviewing them. Sometimes, I only take out a single card, at other times I build an almost completely new deck. My desk cannot remember the time when there weren’t at least four decks in progress lying around somewhere between my stacks of paper, pens, envelopes and whatever else there might be.
So it is no wonder that the deck I showed you last time has changed quite bit. In case you do not remember, here it is again:
MULTIPLAYER MADNESS 33 – Panharmonic Conjuring
If you play a deck a few times, there usually comes a point when you start to realize that certain cards don’t pull their weight, don’t live up to your expectations or just don’t feel right. Well, and sometimes … sometimes the whole deck has a few glaring issues that need to be addressed. However, not everything has to be bad, so…
… let’s start with what I liked. Panharmonicon is just sooo much fun! I was right to build around it even if the first version didn’t play out as I expected. But whenever I managed to keep it on the battlefield for more than just two or so turns, it paid dividends.
Prophetic Prism is great at fixing mana and once even drew me three cards upon entering the battlefield. Winner! And Wall of Omens is just one of the best white two-drops in multiplayer, period.
Mulldrifter has always been a good card but its flexibility in conjunction with potentially multiple ETB triggers pushes it over the top here.
An absolute overperformer for me was Siege Rhino. In fact, I loved the lifedrain effect so much that I even included another card that supports the strategy. But more on that later.
Noxious Gearhulk looks boring but is a workhorse. It kills things and keeps you alive. What’s not to like?
Okay, on to the things that didn’t work out. First and foremost, the deck always felt too weak. Sure, I could do some cool things with Panharmonicon and/or Flameshadow Conjuring but once my playgroup saw them in action, they were wise to my tricks and destroyed them on sight so that they never stayed on the battlefield for long. Also, even if this didn’t happen, I often couldn’t kill people, let alone win the game. Turns out that in multiplayer, Verdurous Gearhulk is not as powerful a finisher as it is in duels. The reason for that is pretty obvious: You cannot pressure a single opponent all that much if it means you have to leave yourself open to the others, so even if I was able to take out one of my opponents with +1/+1 counter shenanigans, it often meant my own death or at least a huge loss of life. Closing out games was certainly not something this deck excelled at…
Another problem I encountered was that I could not interact all that much with what the other players were doing. Apart from two Shriekmaws and two Noxious Gearhulks, I had no way of killing things. So my removal consisted of only four cards in total, with two of them actually costing six mana? Uhm, can somebody please tell me what I was thinking when I built this deck?
Azorius Herald was just not powerful enough. I included it for the lifegain and the option of occasionally attacking for two points of unblockable damage. That is exactly what it did but it still felt like a waste of a slot. Whenever I drew it, I wished it was something else. That’s a clear sign that something is amiss.
Venser was just unlucky. He is one of my all-time favorite planeswalkers but I already had another one in mind that would be a straight-up replacement with an additional upside of being able to just win the game on the spot, so Venser had to go as well.
Glint-Nest Crane got the axe because it kept on whiffing. With a Panharmonicon out, I usually hit at least one artifact but often found myself having to bottom cards that I would have liked in my hand instead. This happened all the time and became more and more frustrating. So as much as I like Glint-Nest Crane in general, I had to admit this was not the right deck for it. From there, I kept pulling more of the artifact-related cards until the whole block of them was removed.
Another thing that annoyed me: I was obviously blinded by my normally unconditional love for Solemn Simulacrum as it clearly wasn’t the correct choice here. If you are playing a five-colored deck, starting to fix your mana on turn four or even five is faaaar too slow. I still wanted something with an ETB trigger that could defend me (at least a little) and would not require colored mana, so I turned to the same Pilgrim’s Eye that I maligned in my last article. And guess what? Now the deck runs a lot better! Who’d have guessed?
Well, and then there was Shriekmaw. Oh man, did this card miss the beat. In theory, it is pretty good and flexible. Unfortunately, if almost every deck your opponents play is at least partially black or has a bunch of artifact creatures, it definitely loses a lot of its appeal. I lost count of the times when Shriekmaw seemed to rot in my hand because it couldn’t take out anything at all even though the board was cluttered with creatures. And let’s not even mention that deck. You know, the one that uses Painter’s Servant to turn EVERYTHING black just to follow that up with a recursion engine and Devout Lightcaster… Horrible, just horrible. I do like Shriekmaw but we seem to have a very Shriekmaw-unfriendly metagame at the moment.
All in all, these are the cards that got pulled:
2 Azorius Herald
2 Flameshadow Conjuring
3 Glint-Nest Crane
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Palace Siege
1 Sharuum the Hegemon
3 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Sphinx Summoner
2 Venser, the Sojourner
2 Verdurous Gearhulk
Fixing the Issues
It looks like I basically took out half of the deck! So what did I replace those cards with?
First, I addressed the removal issue. In went three copies of Terminus as well as a single Reclamation Sage. I would have liked to include more of the latter but just couldn’t find the room. They are supplemented by Ajani Unyielding who can also provide card advantage similar to the late Glint-Nest Crane (but far more effectively, of course) or pull off a nice Verdurous Gearhulk impression if you can reach his ultimate, all the while exiling opposing monsters with ease.
As I said above, Siege Rhino just rocked so I went up to the full four copies. And the card to support it that I mentioned? Suture Priest! It is cheap and triggers multiple times with a Panharmonicon on the battlefield, draining your opponents whenever they resolve a creature spell. Nice!
Last but not least, I added the combo of Saheeli Rai (the replacement for Venser which even adds to the lifedrain aspect of the deck) and Sun Titan. Both cards work well on their own but two Saheelis and one Sun Titan together means an endless stream of Sun Titans, thus addressing the problem of not being able to close out the game as well.
Here is a list of the cards I added:
And here is the deck as it looks now:
MULTIPLAYER MADNESS 34 – Saheeli’s Panharmonicon
Sometimes, a deck doesn’t meet your expectations but that isn’t a reason to pull it apart completely. Sometimes, exchanging cards for others is sufficient. However, if you have the feeling that this is not enough, don’t be afraid of a complete overhaul. The result might be worth the effort!
Until next time then! May you find the courage to admit defeat and grow stronger for it.
Urgh. How cheesy was that?