Silvestri Says – Brewing with Avacyn

Today I want to talk about a couple of brews I’ve been messing with as well as one from Jesse Smith. I’m not sure if any of the decks are refined enough for me to outright recommend, but I’d love to battle them at an FNM or SCG Open.

Primal Surge

LSV summed up this card well, “I hope against all hope that someone breaks this in Constructed, because it’s just too sweet.” What else is there to say about a [card]Genesis Wave[/card] pumped up with the juice? I tried playing this card in a couple of different shells and while none of them are ready for prime time I’ll probably try kicking around some iteration of [card]Primal Surge[/card] at an FNM when I get a chance.

You need the deck to be all permanents outside of [card]Primal Surge[/card] Needs a sufficient amount of ramp to play Surge before turn oblivion
Preferably has a way to kill on the same turn or at least gain a huge advantage. The spell is ten whopping mana, it better win the game!
Accept the idea that most likely casting a [card]Bonfire of the Damned[/card] or Devil’s Play would have won the game just as well and been more useful. Nowhere near as cool though.

For our first and second requirements we’re in a bit of a lurch without [card]Rampant Growth[/card], since outside of [card]Sphere of the Suns[/card] or mana dorks you don’t really have options that are also permanents. Not ones that cost two or less anyway. As a result Primal Ramp decks end up with a higher density of creatures and are doubly crippled in terms of playing symmetrical defensive cards. Not only would they hurt Primal Surge, but now your own mana-base is left at the mercy of people who want to interact with your board. The nerve of some! Still cards like [card]Palladium Myr[/card], [card]Scorned Villager[/card] and [card]Shrine of Boundless Growth[/card] have higher upside so not all is lost with this type of transition.

Third requirement is a little tougher to hit, [card]Inferno Titan[/card], [card]Urabrask the Hidden[/card] and [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card] come to mind as reasonable ways to kill the opponent, but all of it is topdeck dependent. Unfortunately there’s no real way to control getting a bad [card]Primal Surge[/card] that only goes a couple of cards deep and then hits another Surge. Thankfully if you go even 7-10 cards deep odds are good they need an immediate answer or they’ll just die to whatever you’ll be getting off the top of your deck. What you can also do is maximize the impact your creatures do have by picking main win conditions and optimizing for haste kills or simply spreading them between Planeswalkers as well so you don’t get wrecked by a [card]Day of Judgment[/card] or [card]Terminus[/card].

Also to head off comments, yes I realize you can run a single [card]Primal Surge[/card] in your deck and duck some of these issues. The problem with that is your odds on ever actually seeing a copy before you die or would win anyway drop by a notable margin. The argument that “oh you can flip a [card]Primal Surge[/card] off of it as your first card” don’t hold a lot of water when in most of these decks you will never see the card that you completely warped the deck around. Exceptions are if you’re on some [card]Rune-Scarred Demon[/card] tutor plan or just absolutely must have a guarantee that you win when you cast Surge, in which case keep on doing what you’re doing.

My first version was pretty much what you would expect, a standard RG build with more permanent based mana acceleration over silly things like [card]Rampant Growth[/card]. Who needs that or [card]Slagstorm[/card] anyway? People still have to attack into your [card]Borderland Ranger[/card] and [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card] and you’ll be just fine! Obviously this version wasn’t nearly inspried enough and we had to go deeper to have any hope of living the dream of slamming [card]Primal Surge[/card] down on the table and killing people. Looking for some inspiration I looked up TWoo’s (TWOO LIVE BREW) old Wolf Ramp deck featuring a heavier artifact theme and [card]Glimmerpost[/card]s and saw Gavin Verhey post about another variation of Primal Surge. This helped me get to a version of the deck I actually liked.

[deck]4 Primal Surge
4 Craterhoof Behemoth
2 Karn Liberated
2 Myr Battlesphere
4 Primeval Titan
4 Rites of Flourishing
2 Palladium Myr
4 Shrine of Boundless Growth
2 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Llanowar Elves
14 Forest
4 Glimmerpost
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Rootbound Crag[/deck]

This is as much a [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card] deck as it is a Primal Surge deck. In fact most of the games you win will probably be from having a couple of mana creatures in play and slamming a Behemoth down, killing them in one shot. [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] also adores the Behemoth, the two feeding each other quite nicely and giving you some form of alternate kill mechanism. Obviously the deck doesn’t stand up to countermagic all that well, but that’s to be accepted once you decide to run mono-permanents (Unless you really want to run [card]Alchemist’s Refuge[/card]). The upside is post-board you could just attempt to overwhelm them with must deal with threats. A combination of [card]Dungrove Elder[/card], [card]Garruk, Primal Hunter[/card] and more [card]Karn Liberated[/card] seem like a great way to just go over the top of the average Esper player. Delver on the other hand there’s no good answer for and you’ll just be stuck eating those [card]Mana Leak[/card]s, though you can cobble together Cavern of Souls / Inkmoth / Wolf Run back-up plan in the sideboard if you like.

The acceleration changes dramatically from what you’re used to seeing in WRR. First there’s very little reason to have access to different colors in this version so you can max out colorless lands right from the start and you don’t need [card]Abundant Growth[/card]. You absolutely want 10 one-drop accelerants if only to power out [card]Shrine of Boundless Growth[/card] and [card]Rites of Flourishing[/card] on turn two, it may be correct to cut the [card]Palladium Myr[/card] and run the full 12. I don’t just so I have that extra set of three-drops to power out Titan and Karn early, but it’s certainly debatable and [card]Somberwald Sage[/card] could also be fine as a 2-of (though not accelerating Primal Surge is a pretty big swing and miss). Rites and Shrine are the heart of your acceleration and both allow you to cast turn four / five [card]Primal Surge[/card] at the same point the average WRR deck is casting a Titan or attempting to set-up lethal.

After that you have the major threats that are going to do the dirty work of killing the opponent. Cards like Prime-Time and Craterhoof Behemoth should be self-explanatory, while I’m sure [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card] gets some eyebrow raises. Battlesphere is one of those cards that never looks powerful on paper compared to what else you could be casting, but does just enough to make me reluctant to replace it. It provides yet another threat that can kill on it’s own, works great with Surge and Behemoth and it provides an instant defense which is a big deal when you have no practical early game defense. While it remains the worst big creature in the deck, it tended to accomplish more than [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] did on defense (except against [card]Lingering Souls[/card]) and was one of the few good green / artifact options open to us. [card]Karn Liberated[/card] is just a catch-all that can trump a control deck in a fight if they can’t deal with it immediately and provides an angle of attack that doesn’t consist of turning creatures sideways.

Right now this was the version I had closest to accomplishing what I set out to do, cast a [card]Primal Surge[/card] quickly in a reasonable number of games and either win or gain infinite value. Of course I also had a wacky-go-nuts version involving [card]Rune-Scarred Demon[/card] and [card]Heartless Summoning[/card], because why not?

[deck]1 Primal Surge
4 Abundant Growth
4 Heartless Summoning
4 Rites of Flourishing
4 Dawntreader Elk
4 Solemn Simulacrum
2 Tree of Redemption
3 Phyrexian Metamorph
4 Primeval Titan
4 Rune-Scarred Demon
2 Rage Thrower
4 Woodland Cemetery
2 Cavern of Souls
4 Glimmerpost
3 Evolving Wilds
7 Forest
3 Swamp
1 Mountain[/deck]

Here the goal was simply setting up a [card]Primal Surge[/card] off chaining Demons and Titans until the opponent curled into a ball and died. It was slower since you lose the one-drops, but you actually gain a tutor engine and [card]Heartless Summoning[/card] and Rites are some of the best options to power out [card]Primeval Titan[/card] and Demon. If you actually get to combo off with Primal Surge you can’t actually lose since you just dump the deck into play and [card]Rage Thrower[/card] plus all your [card]Heartless Summoning[/card] means all that half your deck’s creatures die, trigger and will kill the opponent outright. This is nice since you only have to spend two slots on the kill, one for redunancy sake in case you get stuck with one in your hand.

All-In Aggro

Of course maybe you don’t like Primal Surge or even a Ramp deck in general, maybe you just want someone to be dead on turn four every time you draw lands and spells.

[deck]4 Champion of Lambholt
4 Kessig Malcontents
4 Hamlet Captain
4 Mayor of Avabruck
4 Kruin Striker
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Signal Pest
4 Gather the Townsfolk
4 Thatcher Revolt
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Copperline Gorge
3 Mountain
5 Plains
3 Celestial Purge
3 Hero of Bladehold
4 Mental Misstep
4 Gut Shot
1 Divine Deflection[/deck]

This is a deck where the exact curve and mana is going to be tweaked to death as you play it and things stick out in your mind as off. Sam Black had a similar idea and posted his own version of it the other day, he was brave enough to use [card]Gavony Township[/card] which is something I don’t want to risk. He also remembered that [card]Signal Pest[/card] existed which solved my problem of which awful one-drop I wanted to play, by giving me one that works great with the rest of the deck. As it stands Champion and [card]Thatcher Revolt[/card] are both obnoxious on the mana, but on average have been well beyond expectations. This deck is so synergistic that if the opponent doesn’t interact with you early (usually multiple times) they’ll be dead before they get to play a game of Magic.

You could also pick another tribe for your aggressive thrill ride.

B/U Kamikaze by Jesse Smith

[deck]4 Falkenrath Aristocrat
3 Diregraf Captain
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Blood Artist
2 Highborn Ghoul
4 Gravecrawler
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Phantasmal Image
3 Dismember
2 Bone Splinters
3 Killing Wave
9 Swamp
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Darkslick Shores
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Drowned Catacomb
3 Ratchet Bomb
4 Crypt Creeper
3 Act of Aggression
4 Despise
1 Memoricide[/deck]

At first glance this deck is just playing a bunch of terrible cards in an attempt to get [card]Blood Artist[/card] and [card]Diregraf Captain[/card] to kill the opponent in one shot. As it turns out, you ARE playing a bunch of terrible cards that happen to work very well in this shell. In fact the only card I really hate in the deck is [card]Highborn Ghoul[/card], which I’m pretty convinced could be any of a dozen other cards and it would make the deck better. I personally went with Mortarpod in the short-term, though you have plenty of options from [card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/card] to [card]Birthing Pod[/card] to just a different two-drop. Also despite [card]Diregraf Captain[/card]’s ability, I’m surprised at just how lackluster the card typically is, you really want [card]Blood Artist[/card] over Captain whenever you have the choice available to you.

The upside of this deck is you get the typical Zombie curve out draws that just smash people and [card]Blood Artist[/card], especially multiples, can put opponents in a position where they can’t effectively attack or block without spot removal. Even sweeping the board becomes a difficult decision on the draw between all the Disciple effects, [card]Geralf’s Messenger[/card] and [card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card]. Ramp has enough early sweepers to not take a huge backlash, but decks relying on [card]Day of Judgment[/card] are pretty hosed. [card]Lingering Souls[/card] also stops being a reprinted [card]Moment’s Peace[/card] when [card]Blood Artist[/card] is around which was one of my main non-Purge ways to beating Zombies. Luckily for anyone playing this deck the hate should be pretty light considering the lack of Zombies and lack of chatter on the this type of strategy.

Give these decks a try if you want something powerful that’s doing something no other deck is trying to do. If I had to pick the one closest to stepping up and being a major contender, it would be the Kamikaze deck if only because it’s so explosive and has some amount of reach. Even if it means playing [card]Killing Wave[/card].

Josh Silvestri


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