Elemental Awareness

Posted in Building on a Budget on September 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

Hello and welcome to Sequel Week here on magicthegathering.com. Pro Tour–Amsterdam is this weekend and we are about to see what new Extended monstrosities have been forged in the lab by the best pros in the world. I wanted to write a series of columns about Reveillark decks in the new Extended. Last week I discussed the untold power of a Merfolk deck that uses Reveillark as a powerhouse top-end. This week, I'd like to further explore the boundaries of Reveillark.

Elementals have been a reasonably strong creature type since their tribal twilight in Lorwyn. Cards like Mulldrifter, Shriekmaw, and Reveillark need no introduction to the world of competitive play. I hadn't really thought about casting an Incandescent Soulstoke since 2008, but a friend of mine, Ashok, was talking about Horde of Notions in Extended and I started to get pretty excited.

Horde of Notions seems like it's perfectly positioned for this Extended format. Punishing Fire / Grove of the Burnwillows will have to sink a lot of mana to get this thing off the table. Faeries either plays Smother or no removal at all, so it seems like it's in the clear there too. The only card that can actually deal with a Horde of Notions is Path to Exile, but that card seems to be more and more rare in the top lists in Magic Online tournaments.

Having a Horde of Notions on the battlefield makes things very difficult for your opponent. You essentially have overflowing coffers in the card economy war. You bash for 5 trampling damage every turn. One of the most impressive plays is the ability to Smokebraider into a Horde of Notions on the third turn.

Horde of Notions

Horde of Notions seems like it's the perfect threat right now. Let's see what we can surround it with to maximize our chances of getting there.

Mulldrifter needs little to no explanation. As if it wasn't completely busted already, Mulldrifter gets pumped by a lord, can be recurred by Horde of Notions, and find his way back to the battlefield via Horde of Notions here. That's a lot of synergy for one pile of cards.

Flamekin Harbinger

Flamekin Harbinger is an exceptional young Elemental. I've always been a big fan of fetching up Rage Forgers and putting my opponent on their heels. The plan is a bit different this time around, though. If I have the Smokebraider technology entering the battlefield on turn two, then I probably want to search for a Horde of Notions. If my curve looks a bit sloppy I can always search for a Smokebraider. The real power here is the ability to use a toolbox against specific types of strategies. The deck may seem like it's a bit soft to Grove of the Burnwillows and Punishing Fire, but you have a few Fulminator Mages to end those shenanigans. Nevermakers are very effective against the greener decks of the format. Cloudthresher is a very nice trick to unleash on the Faerie player. All of these cards would seem random and unreliable if we didn't have Flamekin Harbinger as the adhesive. We get to play with Mulldrifter and Reveillark, so the card disadvantage suffered from the Vampiric Tutor effect will usually be dealt with naturally.

Reveillark may not be as central a piece to this puzzle as it has been in past decks I've made, but don't be mistaken, Reveillark still pulls it's weight. It's actually pretty impressive when you get to flash the Reveillark onto the battlefield with Incandescent Soulstoke.


There are a huge number of cards that can be returned by the Lark. Flamekin Harbinger is one of my personal favorites. "You just dealt with a 4/3 Flyer and I got a 2/2 flyer and a 1/1 out of the deal. Oh, by the way, I just drew two cards and one of them was another Reveillark."

A lot of readers have suggested cards like Momentary Blink and Flickerwisp to make my Reveillark even more impressive. These would be great ideas if it weren't for the popularity of countermagic in the current Extended environment. The major issue seems to be resolving a Reveillark, not winning once we've already done that. Once the Reveillark is on the battlefield it isn't too difficult to win the game even if you're completely out of gas. Reveillark wins the game if you can get it onto the battlefield. You want to supplement it with cards that are powerful on their own instead of cards that merely augment its power.

Smokebraider lets you have some pretty degenerate starts. Casting five mana worth of Elementals on the third turn is always an exciting prospect. Cards like Smokebraider can be dangerous, though. Typically, cards like Smokebraider are awful top-decks at the later stages of the game. Our deck is packed with cards like Mulldrifter and Horde of Notions, though, so our mana can always be used as efficiently as possible.

Incandescent Soulstoke is one of the better lords ever printed. Let's think about spending two mana for an uncounterable, 3/3, hasty, flyer that also draws you a pair of cards. It's really quite impressive. The most exciting play is dropping a Lark at a later stage of the game. Soulstoke gains value because it makes irrelevant bodies like Flamekin Harbinger into reasonable speed bumps or threats.

Incandescent Soulstoke
Nameless Inversion

Nameless Inversion is an excellent piece of spot removal. It's an Elemental, so you can loop it with your Horde of Notions or search for it with your Harbinger. It's cheap and effective. It can even be used for surprise lethal attacks with your Horde of Notions.
The one Crib Swap is a catchall answer for cards like Mistbind Clique.

One of the coolest features of the deck is its mana base. Ancient Ziggurat and Primal Beyond work exceptionally well together. I chose not to include Reflecting Pool, but if you have a play set or know where to easily acquire them, then I would probably play a full four copies. The Vivid lands are absolutely necessary to the function of the deck. I wish I could get away with not playing cards like this, but a land that taps for any color of mana would be too good (Ancient Ziggurat or Primal Beyond) if it had no drawback.
Here's what the final list looks like.

Incandescent Elementals

Download Arena Decklist

It's pretty impressive on paper, let's see how it does in some games on Magic Online.

I won the roll and kept Ancient Ziggurat, Vivid Crag, Primal Beyond, Smokebraider, Mulldrifter, Incandescent Soulstoke, Horde of Notions. I played my Vivid Crag and passed the turn. My opponent played a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and passed the turn. I drew a Flamekin Harbinger, cast Smokebraider, and passed the turn. My opponent untapped, played a Fire-Lit Thicket, cast a Punishing Fire on my Smokebraider and passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, played my Ancient Ziggurat, cast Incandescent Soulstoke and passed the turn. My opponent played a Mountain, cast Kitchen Finks, and passed the turn back to me. I drew a Reveillark, played my land, cast Flamekin Harbinger and searched for Fulminator Mage. I then used Incandescent Soulstoke's activated ability to put the Mulldrifter from my hand onto the battlefield and swung for 3, I drew the Fulminator Mage and a Nameless Inversion. My opponent played a fourth land, cast Bloodbraid Elf, flipped into Rampant Growth and searched for another Mountain. My opponent attacked with the Finks and the Elf, I blocked the Elf with my Harbinger. I drew a Primal Beyond, played it untapped, cast Fulminator Mage and immediately sacrificed it to destroy his Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. I then passed the turn with two mana open.

My opponent missed his land drop, cast another Bloodbraid Elf, flipped into Tarmogoyf, and attacked for 6. I used Incandescent Soulstoke's activated ability to drop a Reveillark onto the battlefield and block the Bloodbraid Elf. The Reveillark went to the graveyard on my opponent's end step and I returned a Mulldrifter and Fulminator Mage back to the battlefield. I drew Reveillark, Mountain, then Nevermaker on my draw step. I played the Mountain, attacked with my Fulminator Mage, sacrificed it to destroy another land post combat, cast Nevermaker, and passed the turn. My opponent drew and cast Punishing Fire (targeting my Incandescent Soulstoke). I activated the ability in response and dropped a Reveillark onto the battlefield. My opponent passed with no attack. The Reveillark bit the dust and returned the Incandescent Soulstoke and the Fulminator Mage back to the battlefield. I drew another Primal Beyond, cast Horde of Notions, and attacked for a good amount of damage. I sacrificed the Fulminator Mage post combat. My opponent drew for his turn and hadn't found another land. He or she recognized the interaction between Horde of Notions and Fulminator Mage and he or she quickly conceded the game.

I won the roll and kept Vivid Creek, Vivid Meadow, Primal Beyond, Mulldrifter, Crib Swap, Horde of Notions, Nevermaker. I played a Vivid land and passed the turn. My opponent played a River of Tears and passed the turn back. I drew a Smokebraider off the top, like a champion. I played my Primal Beyond, cast the Smokebraider, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Bitterblossom and passed the turn back. I drew a Vivid Marsh and played it, I cast Nevermaker and passed the turn back. My opponent made a Faerie token and went down to 19, played a third land and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played it, then attacked with Nevermaker, putting my opponent at 17. I attempted to cast Mulldrfiter, but was met with a Mana Leak. My opponent played his fourth land and cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor, he or she Brainstormed and passed the turn back to me.

I drew a Vivid Grove, cast Horde of Notions, and sent Nevermaker and the Horde into the red zone, Nevermaker at the face, Horde at the Jace. Jace hit the bin and my opponent took another hit to the face. My opponent drew for his turn and passed. My opponent attempted a Mistbind Clique during my upkeep, but Crib Swap ruined those plans very quickly. I drew a Mountain, played it, used Horde of Notions ability to return my Mulldrifter, bashed some face, and passed the turn. My opponent went to 5 during his upkeep from the Bitterblossom. He or she passed the turn. My opponent cast a Cryptic Command tapping my team and bouncing his own Bitterblossom. After drawing, my opponent conceded.

Faeries Plan: Resolve Horde of Notions

I lost the roll and kept Vivid Meadow, Ancient Ziggurat, Mountain, Island, Flamekin Harbinger, Mulldrifter, Nevermaker. My opponent suspended an Ancestral Vision off an island and passed the turn. I drew Horde of Notions, played my Ancient Ziggurat, cast Flamekin Harbinger, searched for Smokebraider, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Lotus Cobra and passed the turn. I drew Shriekmaw, played my Mountain, cast Smokebraider, and passed the turn.

My opponent played a land and cast Bloodbraid Elf flipping into an Ancestral Vision that gave him a full grip of awesome goodies. He or she attacked with the Elf and I took 3 to the face. I drew Primal Beyond, played it, cast Horde of Notions, and bashed for 6. My opponent untapped, played a Grove of the Burnwillows—adding a red—tapped another mana, cast Punishing Fire on my Horde of Notions, then finished it off with a Lightning Bolt. My opponent made me gain a life with the Grove and returned the Punishing Fire to hand, cast another Bolt—this time targeting my Smokebraider—attacked for 5, and passed the turn. I drew a Vivid Grove, evoked my Mulldrifter, drawing into another Horde of Notions and Vivid land, and passed the turn.

My opponent's turn one Ancestral Vision resolved, he or she played a fetchland, then used Punishing Fire to kill my random 1/1. My opponent cast another Bloodbraid Elf, flipped into Tarmogoyf, attacked for 8, and passed the turn. I drew another Vivid land, played it, and passed the turn. My opponent had lethal on the board and I was forced to concede. Cascading into Ancestral Vision is very good.

That concludes my adventures with Extended Reveillark for at least some time. I'm excited to see what type of technology gets revealed this weekend in Amsterdam. Remember to shoot me an email or hit the forums with questions, comments, or deck ideas!

Happy Brewing!


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