Deck-building inspiration comes from all sorts of places. I've built decks based on interesting ideas that I've seen from other players, 1themes unrelated to Magic, or card interactions that seem interesting to me. The most common place for me to find inspiration is with a single card. Invariably, I find a card in my collection that hasn't seen the inside of a deck yet, that looks interesting, and that should be in a deck. Sometimes these cards can slip easily into decks I already have, but many times they demand decks of their own.
This has led to many decks that have simply crashed and burned. Building a deck that revolves around a single card has many pitfalls. You have to be able to draw it, cast it, and use it in the way you had in mind. It has to be able to stay on the board. Once my opponents realize the card is essential, suddenly their removal isn't used up on other cards but saved until that card hits the table.
And yet I recently stumbled on to a card that looked interesting. This card has many limitations and only a moderate upside. This card screams, "Build around me!" but doesn't protect itself at all.
I love me a flying lion! Krond wears the sunshine!
As I said, Krond has plenty of limitations. Costing six mana is annoying; costing six colored mana in two different colors is a serious problem. While a 6/6 with flying and vigilance for six mana seems like a good deal, you want to be attacking and exiling permanents to get full use of Krond, so he'll need to be enchanted. You can see the walls building between Krond and an effective deck.
Time to smash some walls!
Since we are dedicated to running Krond, Auras will be a requirement. Part of the problem for Krond is that he makes a juicy target. Your opponents will be looking to get a two-for-one advantage by killing Krond with an Aura attached to him. I'm hoping to limit that advantage by using Rancor. Admittedly, Rancor is still at risk if your opponents kill Krond in response to you casting it, but quite often your opponents will let you cast Rancor, then wait to see who you are attacking. If Krond is killed then, the Rancor will simply bounce back to your hand once it hits the graveyard. I also like some trample for Krond. Rather than exiling an opponent's 1/1 flying Spirit token or other tiny flying creature, you can exile a permanent that is a real problem.
Exoskeletal Armor is another favorite among Auras. Multiplayer games, with their multitude of graveyards, regularly have plenty of creatures in them. Exoskeletal Armor will likely double Krond's size, at least. While it isn't an elegant fit with Krond's ability (he sends permanents to exile, not a graveyard), it is an easy way to get Krond all kinds of beefy.
Spirit Mantle and Holy Mantle are other handy Auras. More and more, players are relying on the abilities on creatures to deal with other permanents. Why run Naturalize when Acidic Slime can do the trick and gives you a creature to boot? Spirit Mantle and Holy Mantle, with their protection from creatures, give Krond a solid boost, allowing it to avoid tiny chump blockers and other creatures that would do nasty things to the man clad in light.
Unflinching Courage and Armadillo Cloak are two cards that are practically designed for Krond. With matching Selesnya colors, we get trample and lifelink. When you consider Krond's casting cost, you already know that it will take a little time to get him onto the battlefield and appropriately dressed. A chance to gain 8 life on the attack (and 8 life whenever Krond blocks) will quickly bring your life total back into a respectable range.
Shield of the Oversoul doesn't offer its full benefit, since Krond already flies. Making Krond indestructible does limit the number of risks Krond will face in a usual game.
All of these Auras are well and good, but if Krond never sees play, they will be dead cards in your hand. Gatecreeper Vine is the first card to offer some help. Searching for a basic land or Gate won't get a second land into play in a turn, but it does ensure that I'll get the colored mana I need on turn six.
Verdant Haven helps to fix mana and effectively provides a second land drop. Another Aura also offers a benefit to a few of the creatures that we'll be discussing shortly.
Rampant Growth is another standard ramp spell, while Elfhame Sanctuary gets you a land every turn, assuming you don't want to draw anything else. Both of these could be replaced with better options, but they were the cards that were available at the time I built the deck. You can expect both of these cards, and others, to come out as the deck is played.
Dryad Militant, Gaddock Teeg, Qasali Pridemage, Charging Troll. These are the creatures that have nothing to do with Auras. The Militant, Gaddock Teeg, and the Pridemage each deal with some problematic cards in my playgroup. Many cards are getting recurred in my group and this should limit those high jinks somewhat. My deck will need the game to go long with limited interruption, and Gaddock Teeg forces players into mostly creature decks and limits what cards can act as mass removal. The Pridemage is there to destroy the artifacts and enchantments that become problematic before Krond can get his groove on.
Charging Troll is the backup plan. There are bound to be times when Krond doesn't show up, or is constantly destroyed. The Troll doesn't destroy permanents, but he can be a pretty vicious clock and an effective deterrent to any wayward attacks on the ground. A Charging Troll with Unflinching Courage is not something anyone wants to see.
Auratog, Faith Healer, Femeref Enchantress. These are cards that are a throwback to a previous deck. Auratog and Rancor won several games in an old playgroup from years and years ago. Those cards can come out early and hopefully will draw out the removal that is there before Krond arrives. The Enchantress loves to see Rancor go to the graveyard, get played, get sacrificed, and return back to your hand again and again. The card drawing can be almost sick.
Kor Spiritdancer, Aura Gnarlid, Yavimaya Enchantress. All three cards get bigger with more Auras. I have learned hard lessons not to get suckered into loading several Auras on these creatures and trying to hit for the win. Just a couple of Auras here and there, then force someone to deal with it... before playing another.
Kitsune Mystic, Celestial Ancient, Evershrike. The Mystic is great, since you can often save Auras from creatures that are about to die. It dramatically reduces the two- and three-for-one trades you make in games when you are playing with Auras. Celestial Ancient gives all my creatures a boost whenever an enchantment is played. I'm not sure if this is the right deck for him since I don't think I'll be playing more than three or four creatures at a time.2
Evershrike is another card I'm not sure about. I like the idea of it returning again and again, particularly since most of my Auras are quite cheap. It made it into the deck because of a friend that ran Eldrazi Conscription with it, and it proved to be quite nightmarish for me. I'd like to share that misery with others!
With all of this, I came up with this deck:
This is the early, alpha version of Sunshine Day. There are plenty of single copies of cards that should probably have four copies if I want to maximize the deck. The two main reasons for the scattered decklist lies in availability and my desire for a varied play experience. In this deck (and in most of the decklists you'll see from me in the future), you'll find cards that I actually own. This is not a decklist that includes all the best cards available for this deck, but it should be among the best cards that I own that fit the theme. I also like to try out a wide variety of cards in various decks. I tend to need to see things in play before I get a true understanding of how well they fit.
I did manage to get in a couple of games with this deck. In a fairly small sample size I determined a few areas in need of improvement:
- Mana base. In spite of numerous lands that can produce green and/or white mana, I still had problems playing Krond the Dawn Clad. I believed that my mana base would support it so I included Gavony Township, Rogue's Passage, and Yavimaya Hollow in the build. I expect I'll need to eliminate those three cards and up the Temple Garden and Wooded Bastion counts if I want to reliably get Krond out when I hit six land. Chromatic Lantern may be another solution.
- Early game. Even with the ramp in the deck, I was left practically defenseless in the early going. Upping the Gatecreeper Vine count and adding in some other early deterrents may be required.
While I can make these changes, play a few more games, and continue to make slow minor changes to the deck, it seems crazy not to take advantage of all the amazing deck builders out there who read every week. Post your ideas in the forums! Give me single cards, a small group of changes, or a whole different direction for Krond. I do have a couple of requests:
- No infinite combos or degenerative pairings. I'm far more interested in a deck that uses bizarre cards and wins some of the time, than a deck that loops for infinite mana to let you do anything in a turn.
- If you are providing a decklist, no more than two of any card, other than lands and Krond. I enjoy a varied experience from game to game, and nothing does that like limiting the copies of the cards in your deck.
1: Although our group has an unwritten rule that if someone has found a unique combination of cards that typify his deck, then everyone else leaves it alone. Obviously this only extends so far, but it somehow seems unsporting to steal someone else's idea and use it against him or her.(return)
Bruce's games invariably involve a kitchen table, several opponents, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun playing Magic, then you are doing it wrong.