Building on an Affiliation

Posted in Building on a Budget on October 27, 2010

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Scars of Mirrodin Game Day is this weekend! Game Day is an exciting chance to show off your deck-building skills, win prizes, and immerse yourself in the story and flavor of a new set. Be sure to show up for your chance to win exciting extended-art cards from Scars of Mirrodin and preview cards from Mirrodin Besieged.

Extended-art cards from Scars of Mirrodin.

Game Day events will be Standard Constructed. Every player receives an extended-art copy of Memnite just for playing in the event! If you're lucky enough to finish in the Top 8 then you will be the proud new owner of an extended-art Tempered Steel!

Preview cards from Mirrodin Beseiged.

There's another twist, though. If you look carefully at the cards from Scars of Mirrodin you will find two distinctive watermarks: Phyrexian and Mirran. Game Day encourages players to choose a faction. To align your deck with a specific faction you need to play with at least ten cards with the chosen watermark and no cards bearing the mark of the opposing faction.

The top two players who chose to play Mirran inspired decks will receive a copy of Peace Strider, a preview card from Mirrodin Besieged. The top two players who chose to play Phyrexian inspired decks will receive a copy of Pierce Strider. Gatherer has recently been updated to include watermarks as a search criteria; finding the right card of a specific faction won't be difficult.

This week, in light of Game Day, I'd like to work on a deck of each faction.


I'll start with the Mirran cards. A quick Gatherer search and I had a massive list of cards that aligned themselves with the Mirran. One card, Lux Cannon, has been begging for me to play with it for some time now. Game Day gives me the opportunity to build a deck around fun cards that I might not play with under normal circumstances.

Lux Cannon is a very powerful card once you get to start using it, but getting to that point can be pretty difficult. I put together a deck that's designed to grind out aggressive strategies and take advantage of control decks' streamlined approach to the control game.

Lux Cannon
Trinket Mage

Trinket Mage is a personal favorite that I feel has a very high value in this type of strategy. It also happens to be Mirran. A card that gives us access to additional mana, a large threat, a removal spell, or a card that helps our Lux Cannon seems like a nice addition.

Lets take a minute and look at the trinkets this deck has access to. Chimeric Mass is an obvious inclusion in any deck that plays Trinket Mage. Having access to a reasonably costed creature is clearly worth the slot. Brittle Effigy is an excellent removal spell that can be cantrip-searched with the Trinket Mage. Everflowing Chalice can boost our mana from four to six and follows the Trinket Mage very well on a curve. Expedition Map lets us search for Mystifying Maze, Tectonic Edge, and Dread Statuary.

The spiciest target has the ability to super charge the Lux Cannon. Voltaic Key was once one of the most overpowered cards in the game of Magic. These days, a lack of Thran Dynamo and Grim Monolith make Voltaic Key a lot less scary. Once you have a Lux Cannon on the battlefield, though, I can't seem to think of a card I'd rather search for with my Trinket Mage.

Spell Pierce

I overheard more than a few people in the know mention Spell Pierce as a secret weapon last weekend at Grand Prix–Toronto. It makes a lot of sense. Opponents will have to work really hard to not be gotten by a Spell Pierce these days.

Mana Leak

Mana Leak is a nice way to take the sting out of a third or fifth turn Everflowing Chalice. It also keeps really strong synergies like Oracle of Mul Daya / Jace, the Mind Sculptor from ever being assembled.

Volition Reins

Volition Reins is another card I've been excited about putting into Constructed decks. Stealing planeswalkers is very strong. It's also very good against creature-based decks. I have been so impressed with control magic effects as of late that I decided to play with four copies of two different control magic effects.

Lighthouse Chronologist

Lighthouse Chronologist is a card I've been wanting to play with for a long time. I try to include one or two copies in mono-blue decks I make because I like to experiment with potentially strong cards.

Here's the list:


Download Arena Decklist

I played a game on Magic Online to make sure the Mirran deck had what it takes.

I won the roll and kept Island, Island, Tectonic Edge, Everflowing Chalice, Lux Cannon, Spell Pierce, Trinket Mage. I played my Island and passed the turn. My opponent cast Duress and I decided to use my Spell Pierce. I drew another Island, played it, cast Everflowing Chalice for one and passed the turn. My opponent played another Swamp and passed the turn. I drew Volition Reins, played my land, cast Lux Cannon, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Sign in Blood, cast another Duress—taking my Volition Reins—and passed the turn. I charged my Cannon during the end step. I drew a Mystifying Maze, played it, cast Trinket Mage—grabbing Voltaic Key. I cast it, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Gatekeeper of Malakir, I sacrificed the Trinket Mage. He or she passed the turn and I charged the Lux Cannon twice. I drew a Mind Control and played my land. I cast the Mind Control on his or her Gatekeeper of Malakir, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Mimic Vat and passed the turn.

I destroyed the Vat with the Lux Cannon and charged it once on his or her end step. I drew a Lighthouse Chronologist, cast it and leveled it three times, then passed the turn. My opponent cast another kicked Gatekeeper of Malakir and I sacrificed the first Gatekeeper. I charged the Lux Cannon twice during his or her end step. I drew another Lux Cannon, leveled my Lighthouse Chronologist four times, and passed the turn.

My opponent played his or her sixth land and cast Grave Titan, then passed the turn. I exiled the Grave Titan and put a charge counter on the Cannon. The triggered ability on the Lighthouse Chronologist then gave me an extra turn. I drew a Mana Leak. I cast the other Cannon, charged both Cannons up to two counters, and took my next turn. I drew another Trinket Mage, cast it—finding Chimeric Mass, and passed the turn. My opponent tried to cast another Grave Titan, but I had a Mana Leak waiting. I charged one Cannon to three and the other to four before taking my extra turn. I drew an Island, played it, cast Chimeric Mass, leaving open one mana to activate my Voltaic key, charged my Cannons, and passed the turn. I took my next turn and drew another Lighthouse Chronologist, I attacked with the Mass and passed the turn. My opponent conceded.

The Mirran deck seemed to do very well against this new and popular Mimic Vat archetype. Remember that Mimic Vat is Mirran aligned; you can always build your faction deck around that!


My screen name when I was fourteen years old was PhyrexianJake. Phyrexia has always had one of the best flavors of any Magic culture. This time it includes something very near and dear to my heart ... poison.

I've seen a number of ways that people have been trying to approach the poison issue in Constructed. I'm quite surprised by the unbelievable lack of focus with most lists. The first thing I thought of when I saw infect was pump spells. It's a shame Colossal Might rotated out of Standard because I would have had a spicy one. I wanted to play as many two-drop infect creatures as I could in a mono-green deck.

Necropede, Ichorclaw Myr, and Blight Mamba were all obvious inclusions. This is the type of deck where you need to mulligan any hand that doesn't have a two-drop infect creature. That may seem risky, but this is a suicide infect deck, what's riskier than that?

This deck feels like a really fun ride. Its best draws are actually very scary, it puts a lot of decks in very awkward spots. It may not be great against decks that establish an early board presence, but oftentimes all you need is a single creature to get through unblocked.

There are a lot of really well costed pump spells in the current Standard. Primal Bellow is especially powerful, oftentimes winning games out of nowhere in a deck like this. Vines of Vastwood is a good anti-Doom Blade measure that can be used to spike a game. Giant Growth and Groundswell are startlingly efficient at ending games on the third or fourth turn. The list may seem very basic and straightforward, but I really wanted to showcase the strength of poison with pump and virtually nothing else.

Primal Bellow
Vines of Vastwood

This is more a combo deck than an aggressive one. You're hoping to sneak a creature through without being blocked so you can play a bunch of pump spells and steal the game. An opponent may think they're safe when they're at five poison and you have no board presence, but Putrefax can come out of nowhere and wrap up the victory.


Download Arena Decklist

I played a game on Magic Online to make sure the deck functioned well enough.

I lost the roll, took a mulligan down to six, and kept Ichorclaw Myr, Forest, Forest, Giant Growth, Groundswell, Necropede. My opponent played a Celestial Colonnade and passed the turn. I drew a Teetering Peaks, played my Forest, and passed the turn back. My opponent played a Plains and passed the turn. I cast an Ichorclaw Myr and my opponent let it resolve. My opponent cast a Jace Beleren and passed the turn back to me. I drew another Forest, played Teetering Peaks giving my Ichorclaw Myr +2/+0, cast Giant Growth on Ichorclaw Myr giving it +3/+3, and cast Groundswell on it to finally make it a 10/8. I attacked, and the game was over.

Yes, that just happened. The deck won on the third turn after taking a Paris down to six. This shows an incredible amount of raw power, but also highlights the deck's random nature.

I played some more games and was struck by the decks ability to win games on the third turn. It happened a frightening portion of the time. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of games to mulligans and it doesn't seem like there's much you can do about that.

This style of play seems very appropriate for a sympathizer of Phyrexia. If you enjoyed decks like All-In Red then this is certainly a deck for you.

I hope all of you find time to go to your local Game Day. Wizards will be posting the top deck lists of each faction on and your name could be there! I encourage all my readers to go look at Gatherer right now and start working on their own creations for each faction. These types of exercises can really sharpen one's deck-building skills.

Happy Brewing.

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