Today in Smoothing the Curves I want to dig a little deeper into our last discussion to focus in on the card choices for a deck. I’ll be referencing Korvold for examples and case-in-points.
Let’s begins with really understanding the relationships between your commander, your theme and your win condition(s). Think of these elements as your home, your car, your destination. All 3 of these things have you distinctive style, and how you build the interaction between them will influence how effectively your deck functions.
Ramp is arguably the least considered yet most important means of staying on flavor, so let’s look at it specifically since the lessons in choosing the right ramp package for your deck may be more broadly applied to other aspects of your deck.
(I’d like to stipulate that “ramp” means having access to more mana than what turn you’re on. Generally speaking, as an example, on turn 3, if you have 3 mana or less, you have not ramped, but if you have 4 or more, you have. Also, lands in hand is not ramp since you can’t access the mana from there, you need to get them into play somehow.)
Consider all the different ways ramp can be achieved: Land Ramp (Rampant Growth), Mana Rocks (Talisman of Conviction), Creatures (Birds of Paradise), Enchantments (Utopia Sprawl), Spell Bursts (Dark Ritual) and so on.
These all have their strengths and weaknesses however not all of them are at home in all decks. Korvold wants things to be sacrificed, so I wanted to look for things that want to be sacrificed or cared about other things being sacrificed.
Fyndhorn Elves has no native interest in being sacrificed however they synergize well with Fiend Artisan and Ashnod’s Altar in a way that a mana rock would not, so I’ve opted for primarily creatures and land based acceleration with 2 notable exceptions: Wild Growth and Ordeal of Nylea.
Wild Growth is incredibly low to the ground – even lower than a 1 drop creature as on turn 2 it can enchant the second land in play at no loss of tempo – I still have access to 2 mana on the turn it’s cast.
Ordeal of Nylea wants to be sacrificed and ramps when it does, which if enchanted on Korvold, pumps him (it’s not the objective, but does no harm when it does) with the requisite number of counters on him will immediately become sacrificed and fish me lands.
So hopefully a sense of my decision making process is starting to make sense! Had the deck cared about artifacts in some way such as Affinity, I’ve have put more rocks in. Or if I was playing Storm, maybe more Ritual kinds of effects, and so on.
This same kind of scrutiny should be applied to all aspects of your deck building – this results in value.