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BMoor's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
 Felidar Sovereign Deck
November 24, 20

Didn't I mention at some point on the site that I knew someone was going to build a deck around Felidar Sovereign, and I couldn't wait to see it/play against it?

Glad someone pays attention. ;-)

This is what i came up with for a lifegain deck using Felidar Soveirgn. It also has a landfallish theme. tell me what you think.

4 Felidar Sovereign
4 Grazing Gladehart
4 Oracle of Mul Daya
Creatures [12]

4 Bountiful Harvest
4 Captured Sunlight
4 Fog
4 Harrow
2 Safe Passage
2 Solemn Offering
4 Sunspring Expedition
Spells [24]

10 Forest
4 Graypelt Refuge
4 Kabira Crossroads
6 Plains
Lands [24]

I believe I already described how I feel about Felidar Sovereign when I reviewed it for Card of the Day not long ago, but I guess it makes sense to elaborate here.

Now, it's long been said that newer players (or newbs, depending on who you're talking to) like life gain (or overvalue cards that gain life) more than experienced players. The reason for this is a quirk of the nature of Magic: the Gathering, something I've said in deck fixes frequently, something that isn't obvious until you've really gotten to know how the game works.

That quirk is: life points are useless.

This is a tough lesson to learn, because at zero life, you lose the game. How can life points be useless if losing them means losing the game? Well, you lose if you have ZERO life, but not if you have one life. Cards like Worship and Angel's Grace recognize this: as long as you have one life point, you're golden. Life pointS, plural, are useless. And since you're given 20 for free at the start of the game, that means you have 19 extra that you don't need.

This is why Necropotence and Channel were so obscenely powerful, and why they were printed in the infancy of Magic: the Gathering. You see, the "rookie mistake" of overvaluing life points was made even by Richard Garfield himself. He never anticipated that players would freely pay all but one life, so he printed cards that allowed you to pay life as a resource, and made them too powerful. Cards printed today, like Sign in Blood, are made with a much keener awareness of what 1 life point is worth.

The reason I'm telling you all this is because it's the explanation for why life gain strategies are seen as bad, and why cards like Captured Sunlight aren't taken seriously. But that doesn't apply to this deck, because of Felidar Sovereign.

In a normal game of Magic, if you can make your opponent lose 20 life, you win. Felidar Sovereign allows you to win by doing the exact opposite-- make yourself gain 20 life. Once the Felidar hits the table, every life point you gain is equivalent to making an opponent lose life. Suddenly, every Reviving Dose may as well be a Lava Spike, and lifelink is as good as double strike. That said, Lava Spike was never all that great a card anyway, mostly because it does nothing to affect the board.

A while back I said the same thing I'm gonna say here, in reference to milling. In a dedicated mill deck, Tome Scour works like Lava Axe-- it'll put your opponent that much closer to losing, but it doesn't do anything to hinder your opponent's strategy of beating you. You can only hope you have enough to bring your opponent to zero before he does the same to you. It basically turns Magic from a chess-like game into a race-- all you can do is get to the finish line first and hope your opponent isn't faster than you.

Well, life gain is the same deal. It gets you closer to your goal, but it's non-interactive. You don't really care what your opponent's doing anymore, you just need to play as much life gain as you can and hope that your opponent doesn't somehow win first.

Okay, life gain isn't as non-interactive as milling is. If your opponent is trying to beat you with damage from creatures, then gaining life will put him further and further from his goal. So Felidar-powered life gain decks do have an advantage over mill decks, in that respect.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I still haven't said anything about THIS deck; I've been so wrapped up in explaining life gain decks in general. But there'll be more generalities before this deck is fixed.

The first card I'm going to pull is Safe Passage.

If life gain is considered a step down from things that have a permanent effect on the board, then damage prevention is considered a step down from life gain. If life gain is too defensive and not offensive enough, damage prevention is even more defensive. Mechanically, damage prevention is either life gain that you can only play at a certain time, or a counterspell that only works on damage-based creature destruction. Either way, it's too narrow. So out Safe Passage comes.

Next I want you to take out Bountiful Harvest.

When M10 was released, a lot of players were disappointed at the "new cards". A lot of them were functionally identical to existing cards, for one. But a lot of people liked Silence, because it represented what the other new cards in M10 could have been. Silence is very similar to Orim's Chant, a much-beloved card that nobody ever expected to be reprinted because it had kicker. Block-specific mechanics are pretty much a guarantee that a card won't be reprinted, but now that Magic's Core Set is allowed to have new cards in it, Silence represented what Magic could now do-- take cards with block mechanics and make new cards that are very similar, but without the block mechanics.

Why am I talking about this? Because Bountiful Harvest is the dark side of this trend. If Silence is a new Orim's Chant without kicker tying it to Planeshift, then Bountiful Harvest is a new Joyous Respite without the Arcane subtype tying it to Kamigawa block. Nobody remembers that, of course, because Joyous Respite was so terrible that everyone who saw it took one look at it and tossed it aside. Bountiful Harvest is the same card, but it costs MORE mana. Why Wizards of the Coast thought Joyous Respite was undercosted is beyond me, especially when Toil to Renown exists. Most of the Arcane cards were purposefully overcosted. You see, when they first made the Arcane cards, they thought being Arcane would be a great advantage, what with Splicing and all, so Arcane instants and sorceries were given higher mana costs or other penalties to "compensate". Eye of Nowhere, for example, is Boomerang at sorcery-speed. First Volley is one mana more expensive than Shower of Sparks, and the Shower was more flexible with which player you targeted. And compare Reach Through Mists to Opt, or Careful Study, or even Peek for goodness sake.

What I'm trying to say is that Bountiful Harvest was a bad card even when it was Joyous Respite. Just compare it to your other life gain spells to see what I mean. Sunspring Expedition gains you 8 life for one mana, and the playing of three more lands. For the Harvest to do the same, you need FIVE mana and you have to have already played three more lands. I might be tempted to keep it if you could cascade into it with Captured Sunlight, but out it comes.

Now, I've talked a lot about how life gain cards just act like Tome Scours and Lava Axes, but the best life gain cards actually do impact the board. Grazing Gladehart, for one, is a creature that gains you life with every land drop. It's also a repeatable effect-- there's no real limit to how much life it can gain you. Repeatable life gain is the best life gain, just like creatures are the best source of damage because they can attack every turn.

What I really want to see you running is Behemoth Sledge. Trample, lifelink, and +2/+2 can turn even a mild-mannered Gladehart into a threat, and an incredible source of life gain.

But if you run Equipment, it'd be nice to see you running a few more creatures. My personal preference here would be Enlisted Wurm, for more Cascade and a solid-sized body that isn't Felidar Sovereign, so that even if the Felidar gets killed (denying you your 40-life win condition), you'll have a viable backup plan in the form of the card advantage and muscle Enlisted Wurm provides.

I would also take out Oracle of Mul Daya. It's cute, and it gets you more lands, but Harrow can make your landfall cards shine as bright as need be, and a 2/2 for 4 just... doesn't seem good enough. Your landfall theme is secondary, so I'd replace the Oracle with Cliffrunner Behemoth. Unless I'm underestimating the Oracle, or you're regularly using it to accelerate into... turn five Sovereigns? That's the thing, the Oracle can step up your mana, but it costs four mana itself, so what are you accelerating into? The most useful thing it was doing was keeping you from drawing more lands than necessary, but a full set of Harrow should be all the thinning you need. If not, there's always Terramorphic Expanse or Naya/Bant Panorama.

Also, I think you'd have so much more luck if you had some means of answering your opponents' creatures. Replace Solemn Offering with a playset of Oblivion Ring-- it's still artifact/enchantment destruction, but now it can eliminate creatures (and planeswalkers) as well. It doesn't gain you life, but just think of all the damage you would've taken if you couldn't eliminate the creature under it!

That's as much as I can do for this deck. Which is good, because my wrists are cramping from excessive typing and you're all probably bored of reading this.

Good luck!





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Magic the Gathering Deck Fixes