Sure is a lot of dust here… lots of cobwebs too… well, I’ll clean it later. Hey there all you mages and monsters. Been a long time has it not? Well, much like how Avacyn has been restored on the plane of Innistrad, Cards n’Flux is back to talk cards, strategy, and give you some fun decks to employ against your enemies or good friends. Without anymore delay, let us hop right in.
One of Wizard’s most recent products is a revamping of one of their previous attempts at a fun multiplayer experience. Planechase II hopes to offer players the feeling of jumping from world to world, slinging spells and summoning creatures while simultaneously trying to adjust to each world’s unique ability or power. The previous iteration of Planechase, in my opinion, fell a little short of this goal as it was often very easy for players to get stuck in one place where one player had an extreme advantage or where nothing really happened. I remember one time where I was playing Planechase against a friend who was using a mill deck. Eventually, we landed on a plane called Lethe Lake. At the beginning of my upkeep I had to mill the top ten cards of my library. Add in that whenever I rolled a chaos symbol on the Planechase die I lost another ten and my opponent’s already pretty strong mill deck and I never had a chance to fight. I still do not know if Planechase II will be any better but with the new worlds and new phenomenon cards it has the potential to be interesting. However, the thing that inspired me was actually some of the fun new cards we are getting thanks to the pre-constructed decks Wizards is selling. Some of these decks contain some pretty awesome cards that alone make them worth buying the product.
First, before we get to the actual cards let us talk the planes cards. For those who have not played Planechase, you basically play a normal game of Magic. However, the difference is that at the start of the game you take the top card of your Planar deck and put it face up. Each Planar card has two abilities, the active ability which is the top one, and the chaos ability that is triggered whenever a player rolls a chaos symbol on the Planechase die. Players roll the Planechase die at the end of their turn. The other important symbol on the Planechase die is the planeswalk symbol, which allows players to jump to a different plane with new abilities and where new craziness can be had. In Planechase II, the new Phenomenon card was added into the mix and operates much like a sorcery or enchantment at Planar die speed. The Phenomenon cards can have some major effects on the game such as combining two planes, destroying all creatures, to reversing the order of play. The new Phenomenon cards have the potential to spice up and reinvigorate Planechase. I do not believe it will ever be as popular as say Commander, but it has potential to see a little more play.
With Planechase II we are not only receiving new worlds to view and new ways to think of Planechase through phenomena, we are also gaining four new themed pre-constructed decks each holding brand new cards. Chaos Reigns boasts five colors and is built to abuse the Cascade mechanic originally introduced in Alara. Night of the Ninja is focused on the famous ninja cards from Kamigawa and has a number of fun cards with powerful enter the battlefield effects. Primordial Hunger is all about Devour, feeding your tiny creatures to your big ones so you can devastate your opponents with overwhelming force. Finally, Savage Auras deals heavily in auras and actually has the potential to make these often overlooked cards quite powerful. I would recommend you check one of these four out and see what you think of Planechase. These are fun decks to play with and in the end if you do not like Planechase, you still walk away with some pretty awesome cards.
Speaking of new cards, Chaos Reigns, the cascade deck, has a number of fun cards that are just waiting to be smashed together into a casual deck. The problem we will face, is how do we abuse these cards? For example, one of the best cards from Chaos Reigns is Etherium-Horn Sorcerer. Now, a 3/6 for six total mana does not seem like the best investment of mana, especially at turn six or seven. However, this shiny horned bull becomes a lot more impressive when you count his cascade ability and his bounce ability allowing you to cast him over and over. If we combine this with both some good removal and some strong early drop creatures, we can make a deck that has both a fair amount of punch and some nasty surprises.
For starters, we are going to bring in a third color in addition to Etherium-Horn Sorcerer’s Red and Blue. Dropping into Black, we can gain some strong spot removal, good creatures, and mass removal. One creature we gain from Black is Kathari Remnant. At four mana we are paying a lot for a 0/1, but we’re not using it to win, it’s a stalling method. With both flying and being able to regenerate for one Black mana, we get a wall that can block anything without trample or protection that can stay around as long as we regenerate. Add in his cascade and we have a pretty strong creature for our deck. Other cards we will probably consider for the deck will be Deny Reality, five mana bouncing cascade, and Bituminous Blast, a five mana damaging spell. If we have four remnants and three of the others we will have thirteen spells that can cascade into other spells, giving us occasional wonderful bonuses on our spells.
Now we need some good grunts, the creatures that will both buy us time and eventually kill our opponents. One great creature we could call upon would be The Hound of Griselbrand, one of the new cards from Avacyn Restored. Not only is this 2/2 with Double Strike good, but thanks to undying we will get it back stronger and it’s cheap mana cost means that if we cast one of our five or six mana cascade spells we have a chance of getting him out for free. Another creature we should definitely consider is Krederekt Creeper, an often overlooked card from Alara block. A 2/3 for three different mana does not seem all that great. Yet, we will essentially have an unblockable creature giving us two damage every turn or a nice strong wall that can deathtouch anything it blocks. Granted he is not very good against token strategies but he’s a fun card and one of my first favorites. If we can get another creature I think we will have a strong foundation to win some games. Vault Skirge might just be the creature we want in this deck. Being a 1/1 flyer with lifelink, we could play Vault Skirge as either a one or two drop and use it in the opening turns to get in some damage. The lifegain will also give our opponents more of a hill to climb as the game goes on.
With all the thinking done, what does our purposed deck look like all smashed together? Here is Grixis Cascade:
3x Etherium-Horn Sorcerer
3x Hound of Griselbrand
4x Kathari Remnant
4x Krederekt Creeper
3x Vault Skirge
3x Bituminous Blast
3x Deny Reality
4x Go for the Throat
3x Grixis Charm
2x Diabolic Tutor
3x Lightning Bolt
1x Cruel Ultimatum
3x Drowned Catacomb
3x Dragonskull Summit
2x Evolving Wilds
Alrightly then, this deck is definitely top heavy. With most of its important spells coming in around 4-6 mana, we might have to mulligan a few times to get a hand we can truly work with. Our mana base is rather strong though and if you cannot find the dual lands you can always substitute a few Vivid lands which might actually work better for us in the end. On top of all this, we still have no true win condition out of straight up aggression. Cruel Ultimatum is a possible win card as it swings the battlefield so sharply, but it is no solid finisher. Still, I believe this is a fun deck to start playing with and most of the cards can be easily obtained. If you give this deck a shot sometime at your local Friday Night Magic, then let me know. I would love to hear the results.
Please continue to Part 2 for another fun deck list…