Having hit 30 unlocks for the Chandra deck, I have moved on to my next deck. This time I have chosen Odric’s hilariously-titled “Peacekeepers” deck, which is basically a Soldier-themed White Weenie deck. Here’s the starting list, with unlocks:
2 Attended Knight
2 Crusader of Odric
2 Accorder Paladin
1 Captain of the Watch
2 Doomed Traveler
1 Elgaud Inquisitor
2 Elite Vanguard
2 Fiend Hunter
1 Geist-Honored Monk
2 Master Decoy
2 Nightguard Patrol
2 Squadron Hawk
2 Ring of Thune
3 Captain's Call
1 Glorious Anthem
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Raise the Alarm
1 Safe Passage
Archon of Justice x2
Captain of the Watch
Crusader of Odric
Honor of the Pure
Journey to Nowhere x2
Odric, Master Tactician
Pennon Blade x2
Spirit of the Hearth
Turn the Tables
Windborne Charge x2
Well, there you go. As an aggro White Weenie deck, it’s passable. The deck is frustratingly uneven though. Compared to the Red burn deck, I find myself getting mana flooded or mana screwed far more often, and I mulligan a TON more with this deck than I did with Chandra’s. I get so many terrible, terrible openers that I often start each mach my having to completely restart the duel over two or three times because I get hands that look like:
Ring of Thune
… way too damn often. My decklist is like 62% creatures, and I get hands like the above all the friggin’ time. That never happened with Chandra’s deck.
Anyway, randomization issues aside, I think it’s absurd that the deck has a default start of 25 lands. That’s stupid. The overall curve of the deck is pretty darn low, and I find I draw too many lands in about 66% of my games. Given the limits of the deckbuilding system, you can’t really significantly change the mana ratio. I’ve simply taken to running the deck at 61 cards, because you can add one non-land card without the system adding any more lands. It’s not a huge impact, but it helps slightly.
That said, when the deck wants to work as designed, it’s pretty damn powerful and fun. It’s always fun to just beat down with lots of cheap, efficient guys and a couple of anthem effects. It’s just that getting this deck to run smoothly on a consistent basis is impossible, at least in my experience.
Another failng of the deck is that it is much less fluid than Chandra’s deck. It is harder to adapt it to various match-ups and if you find it is weak against a particular deck and you are having trouble beating an opponent’s deck, it will probably be much harder to re-tune to account for those weaknesses. The best bet is to sideboard as best you can, but restart he duel until you get a really bomb-ass opening draw. That’s kinda lame, but it’s the only really reliable way I can beat the tougher matchups.
But with that all out of the way, mono-White Soldier tribal is an incredibly deep archetype with about an infinite number of potential inclusions. I could proably make 5 different decks that are all mono-White Soldier decks with virtually no overlap between them. But, because there is such a huge potential for making a vastly different deck than the one presented above, I want to stress that I’m going out of my way to make my take on the deck look and function very similarly to the deck in DotP 2013. I want my deck to be better than this list, but I want it to be recognizable as having come from the game’s deck.
So, on to the creative process.
My favorite card in the deck, and one of the most successful, is Crusader of Odric. This three-drop has proven to be explosive with the right draws, and merely “good” even with awkward draws. Supporting this card, via tokens and such should remain a thing in the deck, though we don’t want to over-emphasize this one card’s importance. She does tend to leave you open to blowouts by things like Pyroclasm. Even if she’s an 11/11, if all your other creatures are wiped out by the Pyroclasm, she’ll wind up just as dead.
On the flip side, Captain’s Call has proven disappointingly slow and awkward. It seems an ideal fit in the curve, coming down the turn after you make a Crusader of Odric, but in over 20 games, I’ve never managed to make that play work out as you’d hope. It’s almost always a choice between spending Turn 4 casting the Call to pump my Crusader (what I want to do) and something entirely different, like casting O-Ring on a significant threat (what I need to do). Almost every single time this choice comes up, casing the Call is the wrong choice.
I really think I’d just rather have Raise the Alarm almost every single time. That way, on Turn 4, I can drop Pacifism on something, swing with the Crusader, then Raise at Instant-speed as a sort of White variant of Giant Growth. Pumping my Crusader at Instant speed is one of the best combat tricks a deck like this could pull. I’ve also thwarted Red mages more than once, aiming a Lighning Bolt at my 3/3 Crusader… oops, make that a 5/5!
Ring of Thune, too, became very awkward and cumbersome. It was actually a key roleplayer in the game early on, allowing me to break stalled board states after a few turns of growing a creature. But as I unlocked cards and improved the deck, the Ring started to become increasingly cumbersome and eventually wound up a dead draw in the vast majority of games. I’d just flat out rather have an Anthem effect in these slots. Why the Ring is in this deck, and not the Exalted deck is confusing to me. It would make way more sense in a deck that actually wants to attack with just one big guy at a time.
It’s also incredibly annoying that the deck has only two Squadron Hawks. I can’t fathom what the point is of including any number of Squadron Hawks other than 0x or 4x. In the game, I am happy running the two I can, just because this deck is very prone to running out it’s hand and winding up in topdeck mode quickly. It needs all the card advantage it can get. That the Hawk isn’t a Soldier is somewhat saddening, it never really mattered all that much in the DotP games, so I’m content to run them here, just as long as they’re the only non-Soldier creatures we run. The card advantage is just too good to pass up.
One of the other problem cards in the deck is Accorder Paladin – a fine card in its own right, but I found that I could almost never safely attack with him, unless I was just going for an alpha strike. And then he’s like a mini-Overrun that you have to cast a turn early and might not even survive long enough to have an impact. It’s hard to cut a 3/1 for two with a potentially powerful ability like Battle Cry, but he’s just kinda “meh” in this deck. Again, I’d generally rather have a persistent Anthem effect, or an immediate Sorcery/Instant based effect. Or, best of all, a “Lord” whose pump effect is always active.
Attended Knight has been pretty fantastic for me in DotP, but in the Kitchen Table arena, I’d expect her to fall a bit short, especially being a Knight herself, not a Soldier. If I’m adding two more Squadron Hawks, I gotta cut the Knight as I don’t want to dilute the tribal theme any further. I’m sure we can do better here, though I do think the Knight is a pretty okay card.
A lot of the unlockable cards seem oddly out of place here, too. I’m not sure why, for example, Archangel is the final unlock. Seems a pretty poor reward for winning 30 games with this deck, no? Pennon Blade is just fucking terrible. Mass Calcify seems good for Multiplayer though. This is an aggro deck, so it’s almost guaranteed to have some late-game reach issues. Mass Calcify might help with getting an alpha strike through a clogged board state.
Elite Vanguard is obviously fantastic in 1v1 matches, but I’m not so sure he’d hold up in a Multiplayer environment. Then again, many multiplayer decks are a bit slower, so dropping him early on should almost always lead to at least 4 to 6 early damage, if not a bit more.
On the flip side, Captain of the Watch is just a hair to slow/expensive to be relevant in most duels. By the time you can cast her, you’ve probably already won, or you’re so far behind she’s just going to wind up falling short. Yet in the Multiplayer arena, she seems solid. Her vigilance-granting ability becomes vastly more valuable, not to mention the tendency of Multiplayer games being longer, therefore making her much more likely to be castable and relevant.
Geist-Honored Monk is kind of like a cross between Captain of the Watch and Crusader of Odric, and is about as solid a 5-drop as a deck like this could want. She compares favorably, I think, to cards like Cloudgoat Ranger and other “army in a can” cards. Don’t want to overdo her, as this is a deck that definitely thrives on a low, fast mana curve, but having a couple of high-end bomb is important too.
Here’s how it all shakes down, for me at least:
3x Elite Vanguard
2x Veteran Armorsmith
2x Veteran Swordsmith
1x Field Marshal
4x Squadron Hawk
4x Crusader of Odric
1x Intrepid Hero
1x Odric, Master Tactitian
1x Hero of Bladehold
2x Geist-Honored Monk
2x Captain of the Watch
4x Raise the Alarm
2x Honor the Pure
2x Journey to Nowhere
2x Oblivion Ring
1x Marshall’s Anthem
1x Martial Coup
1x Captain’s Call
1x Mass Calcify
1x Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Much like Valakut in the previous mono-Red deck, Emeria is here to serve as a way to extend this deck’s reach a bit, and give it a fighting chance to come back in a long game after a Wrath or two. In general, I’d usually try to save my “army in a can” creatures until after the first board sweeper, but blow your Raise the Alarms early as you need to, in order to push through early damage. Especially if you have a Crusader online.
This is a deck that could obviously make good use of Skullclamp, as it’s just about as desperate for card draw as any deck you’ll see, but I tried to build in what card advantage I could without going to such an obvious and played-out card like Skullclamp. If you find the deck falling short in the late game reach/card advantage and you just can’t seem to win a long game, the clamp is the logical place to start.
Another good option is to try out Ghostway as a way to dodge sweepers (it also works wonders with stuff like Geist-Honored Monk and Captain of the Watch).
The traditional staple of Tribal decks everywhere – Coat of Arms – could certainly power the deck up a lot, if you aren’t too worried about inadvertently powering up opposing tribal decks.
That’s about all I have. The deck is, as I said, incredibly fun and powerful when it wants to be, but is frustratingly inconsistent. I can’t say whether my list fully fixes that issue or not, but it looks to me like it’d play a little smoother and more effectively. Chime in with further suggestions if you like – there is a massive amount of leeway for taking this deck in different directions. I just tried to keep it very similar in style and purpose to the DotP list.
Surprise, surprise, another Planar deck!
Agyrem – The best possible answer you could hope for to Wrath effects.
Fields of Summer – Yeah, you don’t really want opponents gaining life, but you don’t want them killing you either…
Gavony – One of the more “boring” planes, Gavony is actually really good at incentivizing creature combat.
Glen Elendra – You’ll frequently be able to throw more guys at an opponent than they can block. Even one token getting through can make a huge impact.
Kharasha Foothills – Attack with a Geist-Honored Monk while on this Plane. Go on, it’s fun!
Onakke Catacomb – Small effect, but powerful with all the tokens and little guys.
Murasa – With all your little guys, you should be way ahead in mana in no time. (Could also be Orochi Colony.)
Sokenzan – Was going to be Bloodhall Bastion, but Doublestrike is less valuabe with all the little guys in the deck.
Undercity Reaches – Attack, draw cards, play more attackers. Easy!
Velis Veil – Only if you aren’t worried about other Tribal decks getting out of hand.
I’d also consider the Phenomena:
Morphic Tide – You typically make a lot more permanents than everyone else, and have few non-permanents in the deck.
Spatial Merging – Being on Kharasha Foothills and Velis Veil, for example, seems incredibly broken.