Welcome back to Premade to Awesome, where we take starter decks provided by Wizards of the Coast and beef them up to have fun winning at the casual tables. We had our first two rounds of changes in the last article and came up with this decklist:
Will of the Masses by Gurkengelee
The price of Chord of Calling has fallen since the last time and the deck now costs a total of 9.7 tickets at the MTGO Academy Sellbots. It didn’t perform that well last time. Especially Hornet Nest never actually blocked a creature. Let’s hope for a better ride this time. Follow me to the tables!
Third round of matches
First game was against a BW deck. I opened with a very good starting hand and played Sunblade Elf.
She played Plains and I found Raise the Alarm on the draw. So I had to choose between two 1/1 tokens or a 3/1 Oreskos Swiftclaw. I chose the cat since she had no defender and it could get in 1 more damage. She then played Mardu Hordechief on Turn 3, preventing me from attacking with the elf. I found another one and played it together with Raise the Alarm.
She played Seeker of the Way, which didn’t worry me all too much since I could attack with the Swiftclaw and convoke the Siege Wurm on Turn 4. Sadly, it was instantly removed by Banishing Light. I entered my draw step with a big smile when I found Chord of Calling and had more than enough creatures and lands to convoke a Hornet Queen.
With enough mana for the Sunblade Elfs activated ability, I shoved all my guys to the red line on my turn. That was when everything started to go horribly wrong. She started with a flashed Dictate of Heliod, which brought the Seeker of the Way up to 5/5 with lifelink which was enough to have her survive at 3 lifepoints. Sorin, Solemn Visitor and his +1 then brought her minions up to 16 power which I could only concede to.
A very close game, indeed.
The next game was much more boring. I had to mulligan to 5 since I had no lands on the first two hands. I then didn’t draw any more mana or castable creatures and got destroyed by Spear of Heliod and Dictate of Heliod.
Results Match 1: 0-2 LOSE
I felt pretty comfortable with her on 16 life, my position on the board and Chord of Calling in hand. She played Prognostic Sphinx and I decided to play the Will-Forged Golem to speed up the process of her demise. This turned out to be a huge mistake when she played Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and activated her -3 ability.
Another Banishing Light removed the Living Totem. Now I was in a pretty miserable position but found another Will-Forged Golem. She played End Hostilities and cleared the board before I could finish her.
There was no Game 2 or 3 since she conceded both before they started. Since we lost the last match I am not too shy to label this as major victory.
Results Match 2: 2-1 WIN
Just for good measure she played 2 of them and revealed another big guy.
On my next turn, I made a stupid mistake. I found a Seraph of the Masses and forgot to count her mana to see if she was able to cast Garruk, Apex Predator. I convoked the angel who fell prey to the planeswalker on her next turn. Stupid me!
I killed Garruk and summoned a Will-Forged Golem. My deck then showed its biggest weakness when she wiped out my board with Anger of the Gods. An attack with Revel of the Fallen God brought me down to 1. That she played a foil Garruk, Apex Predator was a big show-off but not really necessary.
Game 2 saw another Fleecemane Lion who was stopped by Courser of Kruphix. Damn that centaur! I baited her into blocking the lion so I could play Devouring Light. The lion nevertheless died to Stoke the Flames.
On the next turn she played . . . Hornet Nest! If you didn’t read the last article, Hornet Nest was actually the first card I added to the deck. 6 matches later my 3 copies of the card have yet to block a single creature.
I beefed the Selfless Cathar with the +1/+1 counter of Living Totem and decided to attack. She would get tokens out of the nest anyway and this way it would only be two. She blocked and played Ashcloud Phoenix from Khans of Tarkir. Was I predicting last article that there would be fewer flyers when the new expansion hit MTGO? Appears I was wrong. I found a Seraph of the Masses and two copies of Raise the Alarm so I got a 5/5 body into the air which could block the phoenix.
Results Match 3: 0-2 LOSE
Analysis and third round of changes
Well, what to say? I think the deck performed better than last time, even if it doesn’t have the wins to show that. But our opponents also played much stronger decks and we could hold ourselves Okay-ish. I feel the deck still suffers under a kind of Jekyll & Hyde syndrome, not really knowing what it wants to achieve. It got stopped in the early game by Courser of Kruphix but it could also not transition into the late game when I had no creatures to use Chord of Calling.
So what to change? For once, I think the suggestion of a reader to add Reclamation Sage is pretty good. As a 2-of it might be able to clear the nastiest enchantments and artifacts. If we take out a white creature for them we also increase our chance to cast a successful Chord of Calling .
I also think I want to remove the Phytotitan and the Seraph of the Masses. The Phytotitan doesn’t really do much and the angels are too susceptible to mass removal since they rely on a lot of creatures to be strong. I don’t want to care about my 1/1 tokens anymore after I convoked some fatty onto the board. Instead, I want to include better creatures that can be summoned via Chord of Calling depending on the current situation on the board.
Okay let’s see which creatures we want instead. One suggestion comes from Magikado and I really like it: Nessian Wilds Ravager. This little guy has several advantages: For one thing it is a potential 12/12 body which is pretty darn huge. And if your opponent doesn’t want to pay tribute, you can use it as single target removal. It kills any creature at or below 6 toughness. That includes things like Butcher of the Horde or Siege Rhino. With Chord of Calling this can happen at instant speed. And lastly you can use its ability to fight your own Hornet Nest. It will receive 6 points of damage. That provides you with six 1/1 flying tokens with deathtouch which is pretty nice to have. I really want one!
(V) Nessian Wilds Ravager +1
Another creature I like to include is Soul of New Phyrexia. It’s a 6/6 which is nice and it has trample which is very helpful to stomp blockers, especially when you want to kill a planeswalker in a single turn. Additionally, I have high hopes in its activated ability. Turning all tokens indestructible is very good against cards like End Hostilities, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion or even single-target removal. The best thing with this card is, that it can also do so from the graveyard.
(VI) Soul of New Phyrexia +1
I thought about including a fourth creature but eventually I decided against it. We have three copies of Chord of Calling and if the opponent isn’t dead after we played all of them, chances are that a fourth creature that has to be hardcast won’t help anymore. Instead I want to include another Sanctified Charge. It already had one good moment, and having 2 copies of it can hopefully sneak in a victory or two where all we have is a lot of 1/1 tokens.
(VII) Sanctified Charge +1
Okay great! This is what our deck looks like now:
Will of the Masses by Gurkengelee
The soul is priced at about 2.8 tickets right now, so the total cost of the deck increased to 11.5 dollars. Let’s see how it performs.
Fourth round of matches
First up I was against a WR burn deck. Never mind her blue mana, I’ve never seen her cast any blue spell. The first game was intensely boring. I mulliganned away a hand with 7 lands and got this one instead:
Since I was on the draw I had a double chance to find a plains until Turn 2. I found none and she started to chip away my life total with burn spells like Magma Jet. She then played Goblinslide so I could put our newest addition Reclamation Sage to good . . . well, average use.
She killed the Sage with Magma Jet. I played Living Totem without anywhere to place the +1/+1 counter. It immediately died to Lightning Strike. She then showed her win condition with Spellheart Chimera. I continued to draw nothing but a Hornet Nest which was useless as usual. Two attacks and a Jeskai Charm later and Game 1 was lost.
In Game 2, I gambled again on a land draw with this hand:
It worked on Turn 3 where I found a Plains. I intended to play Raise the Alarm on her end step but then she cast Searing Blood on the Selfless Cathar. I decided to sacrifice it in order to save myself 3 damage.
Game 3 went off to a very slow start. I couldn’t play anything and she could only play Satyr Firedancer on Turn 3. Since I had nothing to do, I exiled it when it attacked the next turn.
I found a Hornet Nest the next turn which I then used to convoke Triplicate Spirits. She played Purphoros, God of the Forge but I was pretty relaxed since I had another Devouring Light in hand. Nevertheless the static ability of the god hit me when she played Raise the Alarm and Scuttling Doom Engine. I convoked a Siege Wurm but left enough mana open to exile the artifact creature should it attack. Unfortunately, she left it behind and killed my Wurm with Stoke the Flames.
Results match 1: 2-1 WIN
In match 2, I was up against an interesting UW mill deck.
In Game 2, she started with exactly the same combination of two Altars of the Brood and a Profane Memento. Makes you wonder about other people’s draw luck.
I convoked a Will-Forged Golem, she played an Ornithopter with Ensoul Artifact. Haven’t seen that for a while. I had Devouring Light so I felt comfortable attacking into the 5/5 thopter but she decided to not block with it. Instead she played another Ensoul Artifact on a Darksteel Citadel. I wonder if she is an MTGO Academy reader?
I was at 13 cards in my library so I had to act. I decided to attack with everything but one token so I would be able to play both copies of Devouring Light. That worked very well but the golem nevertheless died to Reprisal.
She then played Cranial Archive. I attacked solely with the Fleecemane Lion in order to remove one of her tokens without giving her a new one. I played another lion and she activated the archive to draw a card. She played an Evolving Wilds on her turn and had one card in hand. I drew a useless Hornet Queen and had three cards left in my library.
I lost the game on the next draw step.
Results match 2: 0-2 LOSE
The last match was much more thrilling. She played a 5-color deck with about 90% green spells. The first game saw her mana screwed and I just stomped her with a bunch of tokens and Sanctified Charge.
In Game 2, she finally found some mana and a Voyaging Satyr who was enough to stop my token onslaught. Instead I summoned a Hornet Nest and waited. She played Prophet of Kruphix. A fun card that is not all that useful. It helps you empty your hand faster and then becomes pretty useless. Therefore it is not seen in the competitive scene but has a nice casual appeal. In the meantime I drew two copies of Chord of Calling and played some creatures to prepare convoke. She played two times Soul of Zendikar and started to generate tokens.
Since I had a Hornet Nest on the field I wanted to try out the Nessian Wilds Ravager shenanigan. She either gives me a 12/12 that can stomp over her souls or she allows me to fight my own nest which would give me six 1/1 flying tokens with deathtouch. I used Chord of Calling to get the hydra and she decided to pay tribute making it a 12/12. I didn’t hesitate and attacked on the next turn. She didn’t block but instead played Deflecting Palm.
Great. I went down to 8. The Hornet Nest did a great job in discouraging her from attacking me. So I used my second Chord of Calling to bring in the Hornet Queen. If it doesn’t work via land it has to work via the air, doesn’t it? On my turn the board looked like this:
I made a quick calculation and concluded that a full attack with Sanctified Charge wouldn’t kill her if she blocks. But it would leave me open to a devastating attack by two souls. So I decided to only attack with the queen and her entourage to soften her up. The idea was good until she played a 7 mana Windstorm. My poor hornets were blown to pieces.
I had limited options with her building up tokens. So I send the Nessian Wilds Ravager to the red line again. The plan was to kill some creatures in order to buy myself more time to come up with a plan. Oh well. She didn’t block but played another Deflecting Palm. That’s 1-1.
Turned out to be just a Karametra’s Acolyte so I went for the attack and exiled the Hornet Nest. She played a Prophet of Kruphix and I drew a Chord of Calling. I attacked her with the golem and left the rest of my creatures behind to use convoke. Since Nessian Wilds Ravager and Hornet Queen failed, it was time to bring out Soul of New Phyrexia. I left mana open to activate its ability and attacked.
As a result, she went to 3 life. On her turn she played Crater’s Claw and hit me for 13. Then she surrendered.
Results Match 3: 2-1 WIN
Analysis and fourth round of changes
Okay, we went 2-1 in the last set of matches. That’s good. I had the feeling that in the very last match the deck finally worked as intended. I brought out a lot of tokens and either used Sanctified Charge to beef them up or Chord of Calling to bring out a juicy creature. I think in the last round of changes, I want to improve on these strengths. On the other hand, the convoke creatures felt very redundant. They don’t offer much and prevent you from attacking. That’s simply not worth it to get a 4/4 creature on Turn 3 or 4.
I never used Gather Courage and only drew it once or twice. I think I want to throw it out for a third copy of Sanctified Charge. I was really impressed by this sorcery despite my initial evaluation of it being one of the worst cards in the deck. Turns out it is actually one of the strongest! That’s why you need to play games with your decks. You can theory-craft all day long, but in the end it is the play table that makes or breaks a deck.
The Hornet Nests managed to block exactly zero creatures in 9 matches. What a track record! I still think it is good and I want to leave it in the deck. Especially with a stronger focus on small tokens Hornet Nest provides a much needed insurance against Anger of the Gods.
Fleecemane Lion didn’t really do much. I think that is mainly because it had to work as an efficient attacker and as a vessel for convoke at the same time. That probably gives everyone headaches. Also creatures like Courser of Kruphix stop it outright. But it is a white creature so it gets the full benefit of Sanctified Charge. So I still think it is a good option at the 2-mana slot.
Raise the Alarm and Triplicate Spirits are key to the deck. While not very strong in their own right they are good receivers of Sanctified Charge and can be used by Chord of Calling to convoke something.
So let’s head to the last round of changes.
Let’s get rid of all these clunky creatures!
(XI) Sanctified Charge +1
Upping it to three copies makes our small creatures much more dangerous. It is also possible to include a fourth copy of Raise the Alarm instead. I just feel that Sanctified Charge is better, because it gives us something to do at the 5-mana slot. And it won’t be bad to draw it twice a game, because it doesn’t necessarily close a game on the first try.
With these changes the deck now has 8 creatures on the 1-mana slot. That should make it more consistent with something to play on the first couple of turns. The activated abilities of both creatures also function like a mini Sanctified Charge. That’s an improvement for our tokens.
So the deck now looks like this:
Will of the Masses by Gurkengelee
I like it. I think it will perform much more consistently now. It is still at about 11 tickets and therefore very affordable. Of course, you can pour more money into it and include cards like Brimaz, King of Oreskos or Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. But this will bring the deck up into the hundreds of dollar ranges without adding much efficiency per dollar.
I didn’t get around to it with the Flames of the Dragon deck, but I brought Will of the Masses into a constructed standard 5-3-2-2 tourney on MTGO. I think it is always fun to see how your budget deck performs in a tournament environment. It’s a bit more fun in the paper world, where you can see the face of your opponent when you beat them with a deck that is cheaper than a single one of their cards.
I went 2-1 against a Jeskai Ascendancy Combo deck. But then I lost against a deck featuring Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Hornet Queen. After two close games it stood 1-1 between us. But in the final game I got mana screwed, while holding every expensive card of the deck.
Oh well, it’s two prize boosters for six event tickets and a #11 deck. I think I will do this regularly when we have finished a deck. Who knows, maybe we figure out the next Pro Tour deck once?
I hope you enjoyed the works on Will of the Masses! Please go ahead and try out this deck on MTGO or at home with your friends. Do you have any comments? Was throwing out four of the convoke creatures the right choice? Do you want to play against this deck online? Then shoot me a message under my screenname Gurkengelee.
See you around in two weeks time when we open a Khans of Tarkir deck. If you have a preference which deck to choose, let me know in the comments section.