We’ve sold out. The Arena Boys played an actual “real” deck this week, one that made the Top 8 of a recent GP in the hands of Brian Boss. We’d wanted to play Feather for a while, but were a little late in getting there before it was cool. Was that going to stop us? Absolutely not. We shamelessly netdecked our way through this week’s video, and have zero regrets. You don’t like it? Bad luck. You’re not my dad, you can’t tell me what to do.
For reference, here is Brian’s list (be sure to read his excellent write-up, as well).
Boros Feather by Brian Boss
Given that Brian has already provided us with a comprehensive deck guide, providing another one here would be about as useful as an ejector seat in a helicopter. Instead, we’re taking a different approach this week–it’s time to uncover some of the decks that didn’t quite make it to air.
We’ve been toying around with the idea of playing Verity Circle, as it’s the silly, durdly sort of card that lends itself to classic Arena Boys gameplay. The best take we ever had on the deck was actually sent in by a viewer. Jesse Alora got in touch on Twitter and sent this in:
Verity Circle by Jesse Alora
7 Plains (331) 8 Island (335) 4 Hallowed Fountain 4 Glacial Fortress 4 Law-Rune Enforcer 4 Take Vengeance 3 Elite Arrester - Planeswalker Deck Exlusive 3 Territorial Hammerskull 4 Merfolk Trickster 4 Watertrap Weaver 1 Nezahal, Primal Tide 3 Summary Judgment 4 Take Vengeance 4 Verity Circle 2 Sleeper's Guile 1 Blink of an Eye 4 Seal Away
The gameplan is quite clear: tap everything that moves, draw a thousand cards with Verity Circle, and stall out the game until your single Nezahal can win single-handedly. This deck turtles up like no other, with decent removal, excellent defensive creatures, and a rock-solid win condition.
What’s the problem, then? This deck is glacially slow. We’ve played some slow decks in the past, but we’ve made it work as we drove towards the “thing” the deck was trying to do. This deck doesn’t really go off, or provide spectacular moments. Drawing four cards after casting Sleep is pretty cool, but overall the list lacked the punchy energy we’re looking for.
It’s a shame, because Verity Circle is a sweet card and this list is a sweet take on the archetype, but it didn’t provide the “moments” we hope for on Arena Boys. The gameplay was slow and plodding, and often the win condition was opponents getting bored. And that, unfortunately, doesn’t make for a great viewing experience.
We’re suckers for Sarkhan’s Unsealing. It was the centerpiece of our first-ever Arena Boys video, and so when Mr. Castillo sent in a spicy brew featuring the red enchantment, our ears pricked up. Especially as this time around it was a combo deck! Here’s the list we received:
Grixis Unsealing by Mr. Castillo
1 Karn's Bastion 4 Drowned Catacomb 4 Watery Grave 4 Sulfur Falls 3 Dragonskull Summit 3 Steam Vents 3 Blood Crypt 2 Island (335) 1 Swamp (339) 3 Guardians of Koilos 3 Nicol Bolas, the Ravager/Nicol Bolas, the Arisen 4 Treasure Map/Treasure Cove 4 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer 3 Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge - Foil Buy-a-Box Promo 1 Ugin, the Ineffable 2 Tezzeret, Artifice Master 4 Discovery/Dispersal 2 Ritual of Soot 3 Search for Azcanta/Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin 4 Opt 2 Sarkhan's Unsealing
In the words of Mr. Castillo himself, it’s “a little convoluted.” Yeah. That’s one way to put it–it’s a bit like when I’m doing coverage and call a bad play “interesting.” In any case, here’s how it’s supposed to work: you play Sarkhan’s Unsealing, along with at least five artifacts (often these artifacts will be tokens, thanks to Saheeli or Treasure Map).
You then play the Buy-a-Box Tezzeret, which gives your Guardians of Koilos affinity for artifacts and allows you to play them for free. With two in hand, you can infinitely cycle through playing and bouncing them both, dealing four damage each time, which obviously should end the game on the spot.
What was the problem? We’ve got nothing against convoluted combo decks, none at all. The issue wasn’t with complexity, it was instead with consistency. The combo is undeniably sweet, but in about 15 practice games, I didn’t manage to assemble it a single time. This deck has some excellent back-up options like Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, but at that point why not just play Grixis Midrange? We really wanted to feature this deck, but we couldn’t capture “the moment” reliably enough.
Finally, astute viewers will have heard us make reference to the mythical “Mardu Glass” deck that never made it to broadcast. Glass of the Guildpact offers a very powerful effect at a very low cost–we don’t often see two-mana Glorious Anthem effects any more, and so we did our best to break this one with an all-out aggro deck.
4 Godless Shrine 4 Blood Crypt 4 Sacred Foundry 3 Dragonskull Summit 3 Isolated Chapel 3 Clifftop Retreat 4 Footlight Fiend 4 Imperious Oligarch 4 Swiftblade Vindicator 4 Relentless Raptor 4 Sky Terror 4 Judith, the Scourge Diva 3 Tajic, Legion's Edge 1 Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice 1 Seraph of the Scales 4 Glass of the Guildpact 3 Bedeck/Bedazzle 3 Bedevil
We tried, we really did, but after ages and ages trying to make it work, we hadn’t won a single game and none of them were particularly interesting or entertaining. We’d usually lose quickly and horribly, without ever really getting on the board or playing proper Magic.
This deck sucks. It needs more cards one-mana gold cards like Footlight Fiend for Glass of the Guildpact to actually work. There simply isn’t enough time to deploy a stack of two-drops and then beef them up. Other aggro decks will overrun you with more efficient threats, while slower, more controlling decks will pick off your creatures without ever being under pressure.
It was a cool concept for a deck, but it wasn’t even close to being a good video. We’ve put up some stinkers in our time (look no further than Persistent Petitioners), but this Mardu Glass deck was hands down the worst deck we’ve ever attempted.
Keep Sending ’Em In
We’re incredibly grateful to all the people who submit lists, and we’re sorry we can’t play every single one. I test out every list that gets submitted, and we really do try to make them work. Please do keep sending in your lists–even if we can’t play it, we keep them stored away for a rainy day and in case newly-printed cards change things in the future!