Welcome back to Valuable Lessons. This week, we'll be talking about a (possibly) overlooked card from Magic 2014. Cards like [card]Fiendslayer Paladin[/card], [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card], [card]Archangel of Thune[/card], [card]Doom Blade[/card], and [card]Kalonian Hydra[/card] have all been discussed at length by now.
I'd like to explore the possibility of [card]Into the Wilds[/card] as a Constructed engine. The card seems weak at first glance, but I've had an [card]Oracle of Mul Daya[/card] in play before, so I'm going to go ahead and give it the benefit of the doubt.
I'm not the biggest fan of [card]Fog[/card] decks, I've even called the [card]Maze's End[/card] [card]Fog[/card] deck a “gimmick” in the past. However, [card]Into the Wilds[/card] offers up a new tool for the [card]Maze's End[/card] deck that could, ultimately, push the deck into the realm of serious competitive strategies.
Let's think about it for a second. [card]Howling Mine[/card] effects are notoriously strong when coupled with enough [card]Fog[/card]s. [card]Into the Wilds[/card], while not quite a [card]Howling Mine[/card], offers at least a percentage of that effect. The thing that really impresses me about this card in the [card]Maze's End[/card] deck is that it actually accelerates you to victory while passively producing card advantage. It increases the value of your [card]Fog[/card] effects and [card]Terminus[/card] by decreasing the likelihood that you'll be topdecking lands significantly. In a deck like [card]Maze's End[/card], where you're often replaying [card]Maze's End[/card] from the fifth or sixth turn forward, it's tremendously strong to make sure the top of your deck is super live.
[draft]Into the Wilds
In fact, I have a lot of trouble imagining a scenario in game one where I'm untapping with [card]Into the Wilds[/card] with at least one spell in hand and losing the game. Sure, [card]Nephalia Drownyard[/card] and [card]Acidic Slime[/card] pose some problems, but [card]Crackling Perimeter[/card] in the sideboard lets me punish the slower decks by pinging them to death with a never-ending chain of fireballs.
I haven't had an opportunity to test this deck at all, but I'll certainly be putting some version of [card]Into the Wilds[/card]/[card]Maze's End[/card] together at the first opportunity. Here's the list I started with:
The End As We Know It
2 Azorius Guildgate
2 Boros Guildgate
2 Dimir Guildgate
2 Golgari Guildgate
2 Gruul Guildgate
2 Izzet Guildgate
4 Maze's End
2 Orzhov Guildgate
2 Rakdos Guildgate
3 Selesnya Guildgate
3 Simic Guildgate
1 Breeding Pool
1 Temple Garden
4 Augur of Bolas
2 Gatecreeper Vine
3 Into the Wilds
4 Druid's Deliverance
4 Riot Control
3 Safe Passage
1 Think Twice
3 Urban Evolution
3 Cackling Perimeter
2 Pithing Needle
3 Golgari Charm
2 Temporal Mastery
1 Elixir of Immortality[/deck]
The mana base is largely based on what I've seen in the Standard Maze's End decks on the internet. There are a few things that I could be happy to change, though. I'm not sure if I need two copies of some of the Guildgates, especially [card]Rakdos Guildgate[/card]. Sure, [card]Acidic Slime[/card] is a Magic card, but I expect most decks to cut it, at least from their main deck, when Magic 2014 becomes a reality. I already chose to play a pair of lands that I could play untapped, and I think this gives the deck something it was severely lacking. I try to slowroll these lands as long as possible in most cases. [card]Augur of Bolas[/card] and [card]Gatecreeper Vine[/card] are fine turn three or turn four with Fog mana in most cases. Try using the untapped land on turn six when you go with [card]Urban Evolution[/card], this will allow you to leave Fog open while still accelerating to victory with [card]Maze's End[/card]. Again, I'd have to test a version with only one copy of [card]Rakdos Guildgate[/card] before I was able to definitely say if it was worth cutting, but I like the idea.
One copy of [card]Think Twice[/card] and one copy of [card]Divination[/card] is a test to see which spell I should be playing two copies of. [card]Divination[/card] is significantly more mana efficient in a deck that always has something to do with its mana, but [card]Think Twice[/card] works well with [card]Terminus[/card] and lets me leave open Fog mana so I don't give my opponent a chance to unload their [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card](s).
[draft]Augur of Bolas[/draft]
I think four copies of [card]Augur of Bolas[/card] are a slam dunk in a deck like this. Augur comes down and blocks right away. On subsequent turns, opponents will often try to go over the top of your Augur with [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card]. This set up awesome [card]Fog[/card] turns and often leads to you being able to eat an additional attack later on before you need to chain [card]Fog[/card]s together. It's also worth noting that [card]Augur of Bolas[/card] thins your deck of spells, increasing the power level of [card]Into the Wilds[/card]. Ideally, your Augur is grabbing a [card]Fog[/card] if you have one or zero in your hand and grabbing some type of card draw or a [card]Terminus[/card] if you already have two [card]Fog[/card] effects.
[card]Gatecreeper Vine[/card] isn't quite as good as [card]Augur of Bolas[/card], but the card helps fix the deck's mana and provides a chump blocker that often represents an extra turn before we need to use Fogs repeatedly. I could see the number of [card]Gatecreeper Vine[/card]s in the deck going up or down. Playing one copy and making room for a fourth [card]Terminus[/card] sounds pretty awesome, but playing three and cutting a land is also a very reasonable game plan. Another idea worth testing is changing the non-Gate/non-[card]Maze's End[/card] lands into basics so they can be searched for with [card]Gatecreeper Vine[/card] to ensure you'll be able to curve out as necessary while playing Fogs.
The current set-up for the [card]Fog[/card] package seems pretty straightforward to me. I prefer my [card]Fog[/card]s to cost two mana, [card]Safe Passage[/card] is nice to prevent finishing blows with things like [card]Skullcrack[/card] having a chance of making people's sideboard, but I think I can afford to only be playing three copies of the more expensive spell.
[card]Terminus[/card] is so good in a deck like this. In fact, I really want to find room for a fourth copy in the main. I feel like [card]Terminus[/card] is a better card than [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] for this deck, especially when [card]Geralf's Messenger[/card], [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card], [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card], [card]Blood Artist[/card], and even [card]Xathrid Necromancer[/card] are probably going to see a reasonable amount of play. I like my wraths to be [card]Hallowed Burial[/card] and I like them to cost one white mana.
[card]Urban Evolution[/card] is incredible in the Block-Constructed version of this deck, which I've played with a lot. I'm not sure if we want four copies of this card, but I think [card]Into the Wilds[/card] does the same thing in many ways. Right now we're on a three [card]Into the Wilds[/card] and three [card]Urban Evolution[/card] split. I could see playing four [card]Into the Wilds[/card] and two [card]Urban Evolution[/card], but then I would likely want a [card]Sphinx's Revelation[/card] or [card]Jace, Memory Adept[/card] or two in my sideboard.
I don't hate the idea of playing [card]Saruli Gatekeepers[/card] in my sideboard. The card gives me exactly what I want against the [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card] decks. It's a lot easier to cast than [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], it's just the right size, and compliments my Fog effects nicely. I do want the fourth [card]Terminus[/card] and I'm not sure how many slots I can devote to aggressive matchups that are likely already quite good. That being said, I think [card]Saruli Gatekeepers[/card] is definitely worth testing.
It's always worth testing the possibilities available when a new set is released. This deck seems to offer a lot of power and, despite a few nightmare cards that see play, I believe this deck could easily rattle off a nice chain of 3-1s or 4-0s in Magic Online Daily Events. The deck is extremely easy to acquire the cards for and should be a masterpiece for FNM slinging.
I'll revisit this strategy once we've had a couple of weeks with Magic 2014 to reassess its power and see what we need to change in reaction to whatever happens from now until then.