Theme/Strategy: The theme is, obviously, "Spies, Subterfuge, and Sneakiness", and the strategy follows from there. I.E. I keep a low profile, don't make big plays or aggressive moves. I play the diplomat as long as I can, keeping my threat profile low. I play effects that let me peak at my opponents' hands and libraries so I know what they're scheming. Then, I begin scheming, while trying to look like I'm not doing much.
The path to victory will be difficult. I will need to persuade my opponents to kill each other off instead of me, while trying not to LOOK like that's what I'm up to. Then, hopefully when it's down to me and one other guy I have enough card advantage to pull off a win. Most likely, via Rite of Replication on something scary.
It was important to me to get the "Master of Spies" feel of the theme across mechanically, while still making a deck that would actually function. If I had zero chance of winning, what would be the point? To that end I tried to marry theme to function as much as possible and keep the weaker "theme" cards to a minimum...
In the end I cut nearly all of the purely "good stuff" inclusions, which may prove to have weakened the deck a bit too much, but I didn't want to risk dropping things like Consecrated Spinx or Mimic Vat and suddenly make myself a target! We'll see how it goes after playtesting, but there is a list at the end of stuff that got cut, in case I need to "power up" the deck a tad.
Oh, right... the cards:
Edric is the Spymaster, and as such he needs a cadre of spies to be master of...
Thada Adel, Acquisitor
These creatures were chosen because they are sneaky. They're all small - 1/1's or 2/2's, so as not to come across to aggressive or alarming. They all have some form of evasion, to help slip past my opponents' defenses.
Spies don't just sneak in and out for no reason. Sometimes they sabotage the opponent is small, subtle ways... I chose creatures with combat damage abilities for this group (some of the Spies count toward this group as well).
Walker of Secret Ways
Sigil of Sleep
One With Nature
Rootwater Thief and Walker of Secret Ways allow me peeks at hands or libraries. Sigil of Sleep and One With Nature let me promote one of the vanilla "spy" creatures to "saboteur" if need be.
Glasses of Urza
Along with Walker of Secret Ways, these were the best effects I could find. Glasses will be critical, I think, as the only repeatable effect... Spy Network was the only one-shot I settled on because, it's awesome and it's called Spy Network!
Knowing what my opponents are capable of is important.
My one rule here: Whatever I nab with Bribery, Acquire or KE cannot be used against the opponent I took it from. Unless they're the only opponent left, or they back-stab me.
Masters of Disguise
Some spies ply their trade, not by being sneaky, but through the art of disguise, masquerading as someone or something else to accomplish their mission. "Clone" variants and the Morph ability represent this theme mechanically.
One of those is a shapeshifter AND has Morph! I wanted more, but most were two expensive or of questionable playability. I should note that Hystrodon also has morph...
The best spies always have cool gadgets like laser-watches or laser-ties or laser-knives or something like that. There is a severe shortage in lasers-hidden-in-ordinary-objects in Magic, but there are a few items every spy on the go must have.
Cloak and Dagger
Pretty standard fare, really.
Attack Someone Else!
The primary advantage to Edric's ability is that he encourages opponents, through positive reinforcement, to attack each other instead of you. Sometimes the reward of drawing a card might not be enough. These cards represent Edric's political adeptness at manipulating his enemies into doing his bidding - i.e. killing OTHER enemies.
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Vow of Wildness
Vow of Flight
This will be Edric's principle function - warding off attacks and rewarding my opponents for killing each other. Constant Mists fits this role simply for having Buyback - usually once an opponent walks into a Constant Mists once, he'll look elsewhere, at least until he can find a way to make you discard it.
Quick Reflexes and Decisive Action
A spy does not gather intel on his enemies for the hell of it. He must be ready to use the gathered intel to defend himself, or to promote his own schemes.
This category is all function, no theme. It's a small concession to making the deck actually playable. Treachery is pretty on-theme, though. The world of Espionage is filled with turncoats and double-crossers.
Rite of Replication
Green Sun's Zenith
Lands (36 total):
Simic Growth Chamber
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
That's where I'm at with it right now, and I'm mostly happy with this list. That said, there are a few cards that I cut, or overlooked that might get added later.
Dryad SophisticateArm With Aether
Simic Sky Swallower
Triumph of the Hordes
Simic Sky Swallower
Triumph of the Hordes
That's all for now. I have two more ideas I'm working on and once those two lists are finalized, I'll be ready to build. My plan is to assemble a total of 6 new decks all at once, so it should be pretty epic!