Do These Imprints Make Me Look Vat

Posted in Building on a Budget on December 1, 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

Last week I began exploring the applications of Master Transmuter in Extended. I've continued testing various lists and I've been more and more impressed with the deck's ability to win games against the best decks in the format. I've recently added Scarecrone and Semblance Anvil to the deck. I will continue working on the list and I'll be sure to have a tournament-ready version ready for you guys by the time Extended Pro Tour Qualifiers roll around.

Today, I'd like to talk about another card that gains a lot of value when exposed to the Extended card pool. Mimic Vat is a card that begs to be abused. Its effect is powerful by itself, but it reaches a whole new level of absurdity when you combine it with cards like Mulldrifter, Nevermaker, Mournwhelk, Spitebellows, Shriekmaw, and Fulminator Mage.

Last week, I asked readers how they would like me to abuse my Mimic Vat. I've seen a lot of Elemental decks sporting cards like Reveillark and Horde of Notions. These decks are increasing in popularity on Magic Online and the optimal builds are becoming more and more streamlined as Extended tournament deck lists become available on the interwebs.

I felt like the Ancient Ziggurat versions of Elementals were too streamlined at this point for my column to greatly affect any builds. Mimic Vat is an obvious addition to the Elemental deck, but I felt like I could build a control deck that did a better job of abusing the powerful Scars of Mirrodin rare. The creatures that work well with Mimic Vat may still be Elementals, but I'd like to support these creatures with powerful spells. To me, it seems like the Elemental decks are just piles of creatures. Sure, the creatures draw cards and kill things, but I worry about any Extended deck that doesn't want to interact with its opponents.

Grixis (blue, black, and red) seems like the best color combination for an Extended control deck. We get access to cards like Lightning Bolt, Volcanic Fallout, Terminate, Jace Beleren, Preordain, Makeshift Mannequin, and all the Elementals that go well with Mimic Vat sans Reveillark.

To start, I'll break the deck down into parts and explain the purpose of each card.

Mimic Vat makes a deck like this possible. I'm only going to play three copies, though, because it loses a lot of value in multiples.

Mulldrifter is the obvious four-of here. Mulldrifter gives this deck an additional threat, a card advantage engine, and one of the sickest things you can possibly put on a Mimic Vat.

Nevermaker may not be a shoe-in yet, but it will be once people realize how powerful this type of effect is when combined with a Mimic Vat. A lot of time you will cast a Mimic Vat on the third turn, evoke a Nevermaker on your fourth turn, and immediately induce a concession.

Fulminator Mage is an important tool against Jund and other control decks. It does a great job at giving you more time to set up your Mimic Vat, and it becomes a very nice imprint once you have your Vat on the battlefield.

Shriekmaw is a surprisingly good threat that happens to provide a big advantage when you imprint it onto the Mimic Vat.

Mournwhelk is a closer. Once you've used a Fulminator Mage to get your opponent off Cryptic Command mana you can safely evoke a Mournwhelk and imprint it onto the Mimic Vat. Mournwhelk is even better against decks that don't have Cryptic Command. As soon as you have control of the board you can find your Mournwhelk and keep your opponent off their draw step.

Spitebellows is a nice one-of. It kills Grave Titan, Doran, and attacks for a lot of damage. An additional Shriekmaw initially occupied this spot, but that changed the first time my opponent cast a Grave Titan. Killing Doran isn't quite as important as Grave Titan because you can simply apply a Nevermaker lock.

Flamekin Harbinger can find the perfect piece for the perfect time. I see most Extended Mimic Vat lists play with four copies of this card, but the card disadvantage accrued by casting too many do-nothings can often be a huge hindrance. If the card let me search for any Elemental or Mimic Vat then I'd be sure to play the full four. I'll only play a few copies while I wait for the errata on that, though.

Lightning Bolt is the best spell in Extended and Standard. It takes a lot of arm-twisting to convince me to not play four of this card. It's incredible on offense and defense. It's good against Faeries and Aggro decks.

Preordain has proven itself. It makes draws a lot more consistent and helps us find key cards for specific match ups.

Terminate is a classically awesome removal spell. A deck like this will be able to take advantage of the extra time it buys with these cheap removal spells.

Volcanic Fallout is a necessary evil. The Faeries match-up seems impossible without it. Fallout also does quite well against the White Weenie decks.

Jace Beleren is great against other pure control decks. It preemptively deals with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, it provides a steady stream of card advantage, and it encourages players to play more aggressively. (A huge boon for a deck like this.)

Here's what the final list looks like:

Grixis Vat

Download Arena Decklist

I played a few matches with the deck on Magic Online. Here's what happened:

I won the roll and kept Vivid Crag, Crumbling Necropolis, Island, Lightning Bolt, Terminate, Mimic Vat, and Nevermaker. I played my Crumbling Necropolis and passed the turn. My opponent played a fetch land, popped it, found a Murmuring Bosk, and revealed Treefolk Harbinger to play it untapped. He or she cast Treefolk Harbinger, revealed a Doran, the Siege Tower, and passed the turn. I drew a Preordain, played my Island, cast Preordain (snagging a Mountain), and passed the turn. My opponent played a second land, cast a Thoughtseize, took my Mimic Vat, and passed the turn. I used my Lightning Bolt to kill the opposing Harbinger during the end step. I drew another Preordain, cast it, and found a Mimic Vat and a Nevermaker. I drew the Nevermaker and left the Vat on top of my library to make it safe from my opponent's removal spells. I played my Mountain, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Doran, the Siege Tower and passed the turn back. I cast Terminate targeting the legendary Treefolk on my opponent's end step. I drew the Mimic Vat, cast it, played my Vivid Crag, and passed the turn.

My opponent failed to hit a fourth land drop, cast Doran, the Siege Tower again, and passed the turn. I drew another Crumbling Necropolis, evoked Nevermaker putting the Doran on top of my opponent's library, and passed the turn. My opponent thought for a bit and decided not to recast the Doran. I drew a Mulldrifter, cast it, drew a Fulminator Mage and another land, played my land, and passed the turn.

My opponent cast a Maelstrom Pulse on my Mimic Vat before passing the turn. I drew Makeshift Mannequin, attacked for 2 with Mulldrifter, cast Fulminator Mage, destroyed my opponent's Murmuring Bosk, and passed the turn. My opponent failed to find a third land and simply passed the turn back. I cast Makeshift Mannequin on my Fulminator Mage and destroyed Stirring Wildwood, which left my opponent with one land. I drew a Mournwhelk, hard cast it, attacked for another 2, and passed the turn. My opponent drew and played a second Stirring Wildwood. I drew Flamekin Harbinger, cast it, found another Fulminator Mage, attacked for 5, and passed the turn. My opponent conceded when the draw wasn't a fourth land.

-3 Volcanic Fallout
-2 Shriekmaw
-1 Jace Beleren
+2 Flamekin Harbinger
+1 Terminate
+1 Nevermaker
+2 Stillmoon Cavalier

I kept Crumbling Necropolis, Swamp, Swamp, Mountain, Terminate, Mulldrifter, Fulminator Mage on the draw. My opponent played a fetch land, found a Swamp, and cast Thoughtseize, promptly taking my Fulminator Mage (which was probably a mistake). I drew another Mulldrifter, played my Crumbling Necropolis, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Twilight Mire and cast Putrid Leech before passing the turn back to me. I drew a Nevermaker, played a land, and passed the turn back to my opponent. My opponent cast a Duress and I used Terminate in response. The Duress whiffed so he or she simply cast a Treefolk Harbinger, found a Doran, and passed the turn. I drew a Stillmoon Cavalier, evoked a Mulldrifter, drew Flamekin Harbinger and an Island, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Doran, the Siege Tower and bashed me for 3 with the Harbinger. I drew a Jace Beleren. I cast Stillmoon Cavalier, then cast Flamekin Harbinger, found a Shriekmaw, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked with the Harbinger again and dropped me down to 14 before passing the turn.

I drew a Makeshift Mannequin, and evoked Shriekmaw (killing the Harbinger). I cast Jace Beleren, used him to draw a card, and passed the turn. My opponent Maelstrom Pulsed the Jace Beleren and passed the turn. I drew another land, cast Mulldrifter, drew a Mimic Vat and another land, and passed the turn. My opponent cast another Treefolk Harbinger, this time finding another Treefolk Harbinger. I cast Mimic Vat, evoked Nevermaker putting Doran on top of my opponent's library, imprinted the Nevermaker, and passed the turn. My opponent recast the Doran and attacked with the Harbinger, I double blocked and killed it. On my turn I activated the Mimic Vat and attacked my opponent for 5 in the air. My opponent's Doran went back on top of the library and he or she conceded, knowing that the next two draw steps were Doran and Treefolk Harbinger, neither of which could be cast without getting locked up by the Nevermaker.

I lost the roll and kept Vivid Creek, Vivid Crag, Mountain, Fulminator Mage, Lightning Bolt, Mulldrifter, Mimic Vat. My opponent played a Secluded Glen and cast a Duress, taking my Lightning Bolt, then passed the turn. I drew another Vivid Creek, played a Vivid Crag, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Bitterblossom and passed the turn back to me. I drew a Jace Beleren, played another Vivid land, and passed the turn. My opponent went to 19 and made a Faerie token, then played a third land and passed the turn.

I drew a Lightning Bolt, played a land, and attempted to cast Mimic Vat, my opponent cast Spellstutter Sprite and countered my Vat. He or she went to 18 during upkeep and made another Faerie token. My opponent played a fourth land, attacked for 2, and passed the turn. A flashed Mistbind Clique tapped down all my lands during my upkeep. So, I drew a Volcanic Fallout played my land, and passed the turn. My opponent made another Faerie, attacked for 6, and passed the turn. I untapped, drew Volcanic Fallout, and passed the turn. My opponent untapped attacked for 7, and cast a pair of Lightning Bolts off of a Cascade Bluffs to finish me off.

-2 Shriekmaw
-1 Spitebellows
-3 Jace Beleren
-1 Flamekin Harbinger
+1 Volcanic Fallout
+2 Stillmoon Cavalier
+4 Guttural Response

I kept Crumbling Necropolis, Island, Mountain, Terminate, Volcanic Fallout, Stillmoon Cavalier, Guttural Response. I played my Crumbling Necropolis and passed the turn. My opponent played a Secluded Glen, revealed a Vendilion Clique, cast Thoughtseize (taking my Volcanic Fallout), and passed the turn. I drew a Swamp, played my second land, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Cascade Bluffs and cast Bitterblossom. I drew another Stillmoon Cavalier, played my third land, cast Stillmoon Cavalier and passed the turn. My opponent made a Faerie token and went down to 17, then passed the turn after playing a third land. I drew another island, played a fourth land, and attacked with Stillmoon Cavalier. I cast a second Stillmoon Cavalier, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Vendilion Clique on my end step and took my Terminate, and then I drew a Mimic Vat.

After untapping, my opponent cast a Firespout. Brutal. My opponent then followed it up with an attack for 4 and passed the turn. I cast Mimic Vat, played another land, and passed the turn with Guttural Response open. My opponent attacked for 5, played another land, and passed the turn. During my upkeep I get hit again with the Mistbind Clique and it tapped me down. I drew a blank for my turn and died to a Lightning Bolt on the next turn.

The Grixis Vat deck does very well against pure control decks and aggressive decks. Unfortunately, It's very difficult to design a deck that does well against faeries while maintaining a reasonable match up against the other decks. I hope you all enjoyed this new take on Mimic Vat in Extended. Be sure to check Adam Styborski's column, Serious Fun, this week for more fun with my favorite rare from the new set.

Happy Brewing!

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