Monday, May 16, 2011

Wrexial: Deck Hijacker

So with New Phyrexia up and running, I've had the chance to acquire a few cards from the wishlist I posted a while back. Oros, so far, has gotten the most love overall, and boy what a sweet little package of cards that deck got! But here is the Wrexial deck I've been keeping under wraps for a while... partly because I hadn't actually played the damn thing yet, and partly because I just felt like it couldn't truly be complete until I had a Praetor's Grasp for it.

Well, folks, this weekend brought the remedy to both of those little issues. My buddy Chad came through with the Grasp, and selflessly volunteered to be Wrexial's punching bag for a few hours. Wrexial may be Black and Blue but, after a few games, so was Chad. Okay, lame joke. Sorry.

Anyway, the deck was obviously designed with Multiplayer in mind, but it performed remarkably well in 1v1. I wasn't really expecting that, but in hindsight it makes sense. Lemme break it down:

The major theme of the deck is using opponent's cards against them. I can steal creatures in play, from libraries or from graveyards. I can steal almost anything from libraries via Praetor's Grasp. I can cast Instants and Sorceries out of libraries or graveyards. Basically almost any sort of spell in any zone is potentially available to me as a resource. Wrexial just hijacks your deck, and he plays it better than you can!

This aspect of the deck really likes a multiplayer environement, because the more players involved the more options I'll have to steal and use things. For example, when playing 1v1 with Chad, he had alarmingly few Instants or Sorceries in his deck, and rarely had anything of interest in his graveyard, making Wrexial's ability virtually useless 99% of the time. In a 4-player game there's a much higher chance that someone will have something useful in their 'yard at any given time.

However, this aspect of the deck is grafted into a pretty basic U/B Control deck archetype. I don't run countermagic, but between all the removal and theft effects, it is still pretty consistent in keeping the board manageable, and negating any serious or overwhelming threats.

The thing is, controling one opponent is much, much easier than controlling three. I run quite a few "Wrath" cards, as well as a fair dose of spot removal. But the U/B Control aspect of the deck actually thrives on having only a single opponent to keep in check. I cannot stress how often I was able to answer/negate/hijack nearly every significant play my opponent made... all while easily keeping my hand full at 6 to 7 cards at all times.

I expected Wrexial to be one of the weaker deck's I've built but so far it seems to be an all-time great. I must add the disclaimer that: My opponent was playing his own brand-new mono-white build and it certainly was still in the "being tuned" stage of development. He realized after about 9 or 10 games that he'd somehow left out Swords to Plowshares.

So against a better-tuned deck I would not expect such stellar results, but even allowing for that, the deck has already surpassed what I expected of it. Ironically, though, I still feel like it needs some work. It's tuned enough that there really isn't any single card that feels out of place, yet I also feel like the build is vaguely sub-optimal.

Obviously, the main ingredient missing is counter-magic. But I refuse to open that door. My group largely shies away from Counterspells in EDH (not so much in 60-card, just in EDH). So I have left those out entirely (though the argument COULD be made that Gather Specimens is a mass Desertion). Also, counterspells don't really play well with Spellweaver Volute - since you have to cast a Sorcery to get the Instant, you're still playing the Instant as Sorcery-speed.

Either way, the deck did remarkably well in 1v1, so hopefully next weekend I will get to test it in a proper Multiplayer arena!

The List

Wrexial, the Risen Deep

Phyrexian Metamorph
Body Double
River Kelpie
Sphinx Ambassador
Fleshbag Marauder
Big Game Hunter
Dimir House Guard
Bane of the Living
Puppeteer Clique
Kagemaro, First to Suffer
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Myojin of Night's Reach
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Mindleech Mass
Solemn Simulacrum
Steel Hellkite

Deep Analysis
Mystical Teachings
Rite of Replication
Spellweaver Volute
Volition Reins
Gather Specimens
Knowledge Exploitation
Mind Spring
Vampiric Tutor
Demonic Tutor
Words of Waste
Reckless Spite
Bottomless Pit
Praetor's Grasp
Syphon Mind
Barter in Blood
Beacon of Unrest
Painful Quandary
Life's Finale
Decree of Pain
Suffer the Past
Black Sun's Zenith
Profane Command
Memory Plunder

Jace Beleren
Liliana Vess

Expedition Map
Sol Ring
Dimir Signet
Coalition Relic
Darksteel Ingot
Lightning Greaves
Whispersilk Cloak
Geth's Grimoire
Caged Sun

Swamp x 9
Island x10
Lonely Sandbar
Halimar Depths
Minamo, School at Water's Edge
Barren Moor
Cabal Coffers
Bojuka Bog
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Creeping Tar Pit
Dimir Aqueduct
Underground River
Dreadship Reef
Drowned Catacomb
Tainted Isle
Temple of the False God
Reliquary Tower
Duskmantle, House of Shadow
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse

I want to give credit to Andy over at CommanderCast, as his $30 Wrexial deck was the basis for this list. I essentially built his list card-for-card, then threw out the budget restriction, adding things like Planeswalkers and Bribery and such... While my finished list has evolved quite a bit from the budget version, the core of the deck and the overall theme remained wholly intact. Several of his key cards have survived to the present incarnation, so he certainly deserves a good deal of credit.

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