From Premade to Awesome #4: A New Deck

Welcome back, everyone, to From Premade to Awesome! In this series I take a preconstructed deck from Wizards of the Coast and try to improve it in incremental steps. For those of you who haven’t read the first article I will briefly recite the procedure and restrictions of this series.

1. I take a preconstructed deck by Wizards from the most recent release.

2. I analyze the deck and try to identify its strengths and weaknesses and its best and worst cards.

3. I play 3 matches with the deck in the Just-for-Fun room of the MTGO client and then swap out up to 5 cards of the deck.

4. I repeat step 3 four times.

5. The total cost of the deck may not exceed $20 on MTGO.

So note that this deck will remain casual, but the goal is to try and make it as competitive as possible – on a budget – in the casual context.

Will of the Masses

With the last deck Flames of the Dragon and suggestions from the readers, I was able to beat decks costing $100 and more while sticking to an $8 budget. That was pretty good and I hope we can repeat this success with our next deck. But which one shall it be? Since we covered blue and red in the last set of articles, I don’t want to write about these colours again so soon. So that leaves us only with 2 decks from the M15 set. I opted for the WG one called Will of the Masses. Its premium card is a Phytotitan, which you would have gotten at the prerelease event if you chose to enter with the green emblem. So let’s see what’s in here.

Like all preconstructed decks you can buy it for $15 at the Wizards store. But I recommend to head over to the Academy Store where you can get the whole deck for less than two bucks.

Analysis

Okay, let’s start our analysis of this deck. Like I laid out in the article, you want to identify the theme of the deck in order to understand what it wants to achieve and how it works. You can categorize themes as major or minor ones.

Green-White is the color combination of the Selesnya Conclave in Ravnica. Its strategy was to create a lot of saprolings and then overrun the enemy or use them to summon one big monster. Will of the Masses follows along the same lines and its first major theme is the Selesnya guild mechanic convoke. Convoke allows you to tap your creatures in order to pay for spells’ mana costs. That can allow you to summon a very big monster like Autochthon Wurm much sooner than you would expect. About half of the cards of this deck come with convoke.

Its second major theme is token generation. In order to get something out of convoke, you need a lot of small creatures fast, so that you can tap them for mana. Will of the Masses includes cards like Raise the Alarm, Feral Incarnation and even Hornet Queen to create tokens who can then summon a super-charged Seraph of the Massers.

The minor theme of the deck is combat tricks. Combat tricks means instants that can beef your creatures or weaken the enemy ones in the combat phase. Will of the Masses includes copies of Titanic Growth, Sanctified Charge, and even an instant with convoke: Gather Courage.

So what to think about this deck? Well, the idea is certainly good. Playing Turn 1 Sunblade Elf, Turn 2 Raise the Alarm, Turn 3 Will-Forged Golem and then Turn 4 Siege Wurm is appealing. But that would require optimal draws. I am not sure if you can consistently achieve such results, and it bothers me that the two strongest creatures of the deck – Hornet Queen and Phytotitan – don’t even have convoke. The deck is also very susceptible to sweepers like Anger of the Gods. If our opponent manages to clean the board on Turn 3 or 4, I doubt that the deck can recover. On the upside the deck doesn’t have many “dead” cards when compared to Flames of the Dragon. Every card somehow ties into the overall strategy of the deck. Let’s identify the best and the worst cards present in Will of the Masses.

The Good

Hornet Queen: Hornet Queen costs a ton of mana but when it hits the board, it can take over the game. You get a total of 6 power and toughness that flies and has deathtouch. As long as your opponent holds no sweepers, she will have a very hard time dealing with this insect.

Raise the Alarm: Like Ornithopter this card normally doesn’t make anyone sigh in ecstasy. But since this deck needs a lot of creatures fast, a spell that grants 2 tokens on Turn 2 is fine. Since convoke is not affected by summoning sickness you could play Raise the Alarms on Turn 4 and then tap the other 2 lands and the freshly generated tokens to summon a Living Totem.

Triplicate Spirits: Another token generator. It costs 6 mana but it has got convoke, so you can normally cast it on Turn 3. That provides you with 3 power in the air, which is pretty good all by itself. But since you also get 3 creatures, you will have a much easier time playing Siege Wurm.

Without having played the deck yet, I think these are the cards that you want to get into your hand in every game.

The Bad

Meditation Puzzle: On the upside, this deck doesn’t have two life-gain staves like the Flames of the Dragon deck. But Meditation Puzzle is just as bad. Generally, you do not want to use one-time life gain spells ever. If you are losing, then the life gain will only stall your demise by one turn since your opponent will just nullify the effect on her next combat step. And if you are winning, you obviously don’t need additional life points. So Meditation Puzzle is a clear out.

Overwhelm: This card is a much weaker Overrun that doesn’t even grant trample. It has a prohibitive mana cost of 7, which makes it very hard to cast. That it has convoke doesn’t make this card any better. When you play Overwhelm, you want to attack with as many buffed creatures as possible. If you tap half your army for mana, the effect of this card is largely diminished. So I don’t think this card will last long in this deck.

Sanctified Charge: I am not sure about Sanctified Charge. For 5 mana, giving your creatures +2/+1 seems rather weak. That it also provides first strike to your white creatures could make it worthwhile when you turn an even exchange of creatures into a 3-to-1 or something on that line. But since Will of the Masses is a GW deck, half of the creatures on our side of the board won’t be white. That makes the effect of this card even weaker. Therefore it probably has to go.

Conclusion

Okay, so will this deck work? Probably yes. It has something to play on every turn, and if it gets good draws, it can bring huge creatures on the battlefield pretty fast. But I think it lacks sufficient token generation, which is a vital point for a convoke strategy. Sadly, cards like Brimaz, King of Oreskos that would fit nicely into this deck are way too expensive for our $20 goal. Will of the Masses also has no way to draw cards. That is a huge issue. Cards are your most valuable resource in any game of Magic. It’s more important than mana or your first 19 life points for that matter. So we really need to find a way to get more cards into our hands or we have to play from the top of the deck from Turn 4 onward. The last problem I have with this deck is that the two largest creatures Hornet Queen and Phytotitan don’t possess convoke. That somehow defeats the purpose of this deck. But I think there might be a way to fix this: Chord of Calling. Well, two weeks from now we will have a better insight into this deck, when I finished the first couple of test matches.

What do you think about my analysis? Have I gotten it right or did I overlook something? Do you think Overwhelm is better than it looks? Please feel free to comment on this article or message my under the screen name Gurkengelee on MTGO.

 
  1. I think your analysis regarding the strength and weakness of the deck is spot-on. Of all the cards that you dislike, Sanctified Charge might be one worth keeping, but I am sure there are better replacements. Looking forward to the next article.

  2. Interesting article, definitely looking forward to the next part.

    I agree with Ytterblum that sanctified charge is a strong effect in a deck going wide, but trying to build up your board enough, may as you point out, leave you too exposed to sweepers. As a replacement I would suggest Dictate of Heliod, it can still works as a trick because it has flash, but doesn’t require that everything is set up for one turn, and that the effect is permanent should make up for not getting first strike.

    Card draw in GW is scarce in standard, and with the budget restrictions I’m guessing Ajani, Mentor of Heroes isn’t in the cards (pun intended). Aside from cantrip effects and creatures my best guess here would be Hunter’s Prowess (weak to removal) or Yisan (a bit slow, can only get creatures).

  3. This is a neat series with a very practical, yet interesting conceptual basis!

    Overwhelm probably sucks. The convoke just seems like a weird joke to me.

    The deck is pretty spotty in its factory version…but the article points that out. Sunblade Elf and the token generators are all good cards, but they have a ton of single-copies that seem fine at times but since they’re singletons…well they don’t show up very often. And the costs are either really high or really low…but hey, that’s the whole point of the article is to make the deck better.

  4. i turned this deck into a brutal covoke/overwhelm deck. I use the token gen to generate enough creatures to be able to cast big convoke creatures

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