In the Wake of Power

Posted in Feature on May 9, 2002

By Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar

When Odyssey arrived, I really wanted to like Ivy Elemental. As a general rule, I tend to appreciate flexible spells. I love Creeping Mold, for example. The Planeshift Stormscape Battlemage make me happy. Heck, I even use Degavolver on occasion. Here was Ivy Elemental -- a creature that got as big as the mana you pumped into it.

Almost.

What I really wanted was a creature exactly as big as the mana you paid. A 3/3 for 3 mana, or a 7/7 for seven. I wanted Ivy Elemental to enter play with X+1 counters or to have evasion of some kind. As a result, I didn't use it in decks. I'm stubborn that way.

Luckily, someone in R&D loves me (I think it's Mark Rosewater, but don't tell him I told you). Judgment brings with it Mirari's Wake. Anyone staring at a combination of Glorious Anthem and a personal Mana Flare undoubtedly thinks:

  1. X spells
  2. Creatures

C'mere, Ivy Elemental...

Next week I will take you step-by-step in the creation of a single deck. This week, however, I describe my odd mental journey when seeing a new card. I feel like the decks below only scratch the surface of Mirari's Wake possibilities. Still, I think it is worthwhile to a) compare your initial reactions to a card with mine and b) see how deck ideas can spawn more deck ideas.

As always, the point is to poke you in your creativity ribs.

Which brings me back to Ivy Elemental. With Mirari's Wake, Mr. Ivy is just how I want him: As big as the mana you pay. Even better, the Wake allows me to pay a lot more mana than usual. My first crack at a Wake deck, then, had the simple goal of seeing how big an Ivy Elemental I could cast.


How big can an Ivy Elemental get?

I started with 4 each of Ivy Elemental and Mirari's Wake as the core of the deck. With the Wake, I figured more creatures were better and creatures that could produce mana were better still. In went the regular assortment of Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise. I added Wood Elves too, since they have some natural synergy with Mirari's Wake.

The deck relied heavily on Mirari's Wake, so I needed a way to find it. I settled on Sterling Grove -- a tutor, Wake protector, and something that fit my colors. More tutorable enchantments followed.

In tapping my lip, deep in thought, I pondered another green X-spell. No, not Hurricane. New Frontiers is a “symmetrically constructive” card I had called “bad” previously. Undoubtedly, New Frontiers helped fulfill my Ivy Elemental quest by supplying ridiculous mana in combination with Mirari's Wake and thinning virtually all land from my library. I added Heroes' Reunion in the final slot to keep myself alive long enough to see the deck work.

Here's the result:

Mister Ivy

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By my calculations, I should be able to bust out an exactly gabillion/gabillion Elemental. Good enough for me. I now like Ivy Elemental.

Beaming over my new deck, I started pondering other fun X-creatures to use with Mirari's Wake. Not many exist, but wouldn't Verdeloth the Ancient be loads of fun? Throw in Nemata, Grove Guardian and saprolings might very well RULE THE WORLD!

I naturally think in terms of Type 2 decks, but before me was the opportunity to actually cast Verdant Force if I made my deck correctly. Armed with as many Extended mana producers as I could muster, I closed my eyes and scribbled down the following:

Green Trees

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My mind was now in Extended. One of the most fun mainstream Extended decks is called Elf-Ball. Elf-Ball loads the board with Elves, including Priest of Titania, before casting either Coat of Arms or a huge Fireball-like spell to end the game. It sounds silly, but it is a surprisingly effective strategy. It also happens to be a strategy that relies on X-spells and creatures. Wheee!

Unfortunately the idea of rehashing an old deck is fairly boring to me. Anyone can put an Elf-Ball deck together. It would be more fun to take the idea behind Elf-Ball and try it with a different creature type and maybe a different (read: Standard) format. The idea of a Druid-Ball deck, thanks to Seton, Krosan Protector, made me giggle. Ideas that make me giggle inevitably end up as decks.

The trick with a deck like this, I found, was finding enough druids that could stand on their own before Seton, Krosan Protector or Mirari's Wake hit the table. The other important decision was what to use as the X-spell of choice. Ghitu Fire sounded great, but I liked the uncounterable, unpreventable power of a kicked Urza's Rage...

Druid-Ball

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To this point, I realized, my decks built around Mirari's Wake had a definite green feel. But Mirari's Wake is half white, so I wondered if it was possible to make a base-white Wake deck work (don't try saying that five times fast).

The best idea I could muster was to use Goblin Trenches, a terrific compliment to Mirari's Wake. The problem with the concept was that I now had a 3-color deck based in a color (white) with very few “mana fixers.” Using Helionaut, while amusing in a silly sort of way, precluded me from using Wrath of God as a way to buy myself time.

The problem got worse when I settled on the idea of Death Grasp as the X-spell in the deck. FOUR colors? I had before me a very, very ugly mana base. The result was a deck that probably only worked occasionally and that had exactly three thousand expensive rares in it. In the final analysis, Goblin Trenches, Death Grasp, and Necra Sanctuary are all great ideas but they probably belong in separate decks.

The Great White Globular Mess

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Back to green. It seemed to me that another card might benefit from a Wake deck: Thornscape Master (Sunscape Master too, but I was done trying a white mana base). I have always liked the Invasion “Masters” but their activation costs are a real pain to build decks around. With Mirari's Wake, however, a single Mountain can provide , or a single Plains . Voila! The aforementioned activation cost problem is gone.

The result was a pseudo-Thornscape theme deck that also happened to rely less on Mirari's Wake than any deck so far. The Wake, however, spruced up almost every spell in the deck, including Ghitu Fire, Global Ruin, and the saproling-generation of Rith's Charm...

Thornscape

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Looking at my work, I had made five decks without a “lite” deck in the mix. One way to make a more inexpensive deck could be to use the “silver bullet” strategy mentioned last week and again rely on Sterling Grove. But I had used the Grove enough. I decided a good old-fashioned green/white creature deck would work just fine.

Somewhere along the way I figured out that even-cost spells are best in a Wake deck to avoid mana burn. As a result, I looked at common and uncommon 2- and 4-cost creatures. Charging Troll, for instance, is 4-cost and also has a regeneration “sink” for excess mana.

I happened upon some other fun tricks when making this deck. Elephant Ambush had a playable flashback cost with Mirari's Wake on the table. Similarly, Roar of the Wurm might actually produce two 7/7 Wurms. Coalition Honor Guard couldn't be killed by Flametongue Kavu when it was 3/5. And Beloved Chaplain... oh, heck, just look at the deck:

Wake Up! (semi-)

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These are only my initial thoughts about Mirari's Wake. Some cards lead to an endless number possibilities. If Aaron the Editor let me continue, I might talk about Snake Basket; Goblin Offensive; Kangee, Aerie Keeper; or -- you heard it here first -- FLOCK OF RABID SHEEP! Oh yeah, smell the power of sheep, baby.

But I can't. Aaron just won't let me. He has this habit of cutt--

-j

Jay may be reached at houseofcards@wizards.com.

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