Ok, so I am sitting on the floor of my living room surrounded by my cards, trying once again to organize some 20,000 + cards, and one of my roomates walks in. I had taught her how to play about 3 months ago, and she picked it up pretty easily. She looks down and sees a Mana Barbs lying on the floor. She screws up her nose and says, "How in the heck can you ever use that card in a deck?" I make some smart-aleck remark about being able to make a deck that revolves around practically any card, and just like that the challenge was given.
So, at first, I start looking at the card itself. One, it is red, a hard color to keep permanents in play without using a lot of mana. Two, it is a permanent itself, and red usually cannot deal well with enchantments, so if I cast it, I am stuck with it. Third, the art is pretty cool, simple, yet elegant.
Next, I start thinking, if I have this in here, I have to have an alternative casting scenario. Then I stumple across a stack of Diamonds. I find the red ones and seperate them out. I also grab a couple of Sol Rings, because this deck is NEVER going to see a tournament, and who cares about the restricted list anyway?
Now I have a mana base to begin building. Time for a kill scenario. What is there in red? Some burn (too expensive for the barbs) and there are some good pumpable creatures (once again to expensive). It is time to splash another color. Naturaly, I gyrate towards blue. Problem one, blue is an expensive color to play. Well, lets get some Sky Diamonds out to help there. I make a couple of test idea decks, and scrap them instantly. I really want the Mana Barbs to be a kill scenario. I look at what I have, then it hits me. About 85% of what I have in the scrapped decks were perement cards. No instants, no sorceries, etc.
Well, I have a bit of a headache now, and get up to stretch, eat a bite, and take a restroom break. When I sit back down, I accidentally knock over a pile of gold colored spells. This whole time I am thinking of keeping every card in the deck a permanent. I start picking up the pile, and I see a card that would change the deck forever. Sterling Grove! A perfect card to prevent half of my deck from being slammed by disenchants and the like (my friend loves using Hull Breach!). Problem is, the deck so far does not have white or green in it. Back to the diamonds to get the colors. This is seemingly getting ridiculous now. Then it hits me. Lets go with all five colors. Why not? So, now I have to come up with a five color deck with no instants or sorceries, that relies on Mana Barbs. Well, lets work on the mana base first. Keeping strictly with artifacts first, since they won't hurt me when the barbs are out, I grab 2 of each color of diamond. Ok, not bad. Two Sol Rings will help out here, and just for fun, 2 Lotus Petals. Now I think I can handle a lot more of the colors easier.
For the colored spells, I was at a loss. I needed more of a theme to streamline down what I was doing. I decieded to try to go creatureless, which also knocks out all creature-based enchantments. All this leaves is global enchantments and the few enchant lands and enchant artifacts that are out there. There it is, my new theme, staring me in the face. All colored spells have to be global enchantments. Well now we are getting somewhere.
So, where can I find the best enchantments in the colors? I grab some of my seals. The green seal and the black seal seem pretty out of flavor, so I stick with R,W,U seals. Lets see what we have so far:
2 Charcol Diamond
2 Fire Diamond
2 Marble Diamond
2 Moss Diamond
2 Sky Diamond
2 Sol Ring
2 Lotus Petal
1 Seal of Cleansing
1 Seal of Fire
1 Seal of Removal
4 Sterling Grove
2 Mana Barbs
Well, not too bad a start here. I have lots of Green and White with the groves, and I have some Red with the barbs, what can I do with Blue and Black? Well, with the barbs out, most opponents will be very hesitant to cast a lot of spells that aren't really needed, so thier hand size will be pretty large compared to mine. I could go with a Black Vise or something, but the damage that could net is not that great. I thumb through some of my black (mainly because it is a bit more damaging then blue) and come across a couple of Dark Suspicions. Perfect for this! Ok, now lets concentrate on that for a bit. We need some blue for bouncing to keep thier hand size up there, but not sure how to do that with just enchantments. I start seperating out the global enchantments from my blue stacks, and end up really looking at Mana Breach. The restrictions on card play are amazing. Now thier lands are not just punishing them with the barbs, but are keeping thier hands full. Then I find Sunken Hope. More bounce in the form of enchantments. Overburden comes in for the fun of it. Arcane Laboratory also helps limit what they can do and when. It was then that I noticed what I was really working on. I had a partial deck created, that could search for darn near any card (Sterling Groves), and could keep my opponents from playing. The greatest thing about it is, that every card that I play, is out there permanently. The effects keep happening. So I really start flying through my enchantements now. Tainted Aethers seem pretty focused on this for me. I toss in a Planeswalkers Fury and a Mirth just for the heck of it. I fill in a few more holes, find some more artifact mana (Cameos)and sit back to see what I have:
2 City of Brass
2 Elfhame Palaces
2 Shivan Oasis
1 Costal Tower
1 Salt Marsh
1 Urborg Volcano
4 Lotus Petals
2 Mox Diamonds
2 Marble Diamonds
2 Charcol Diamonds
2 Fire Diamonds
2 Moss Diamonds
2 Sky Diamonds
2 Sol Rings (Obviously just for CASUAL play..lol)
1 Bloodstone Cameo
2 Seashell Cameo
2 Tigereye Cameos
2 Zuran Orbs
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Juntu Stakes
1 Storm Cauldron
1 Seal of Cleansing
1 Seal of Fire
1 Seal of Removal
4 Sterling Groves
2 Sunken Hopes
2 Arcane Laboratorys
2 Mana Breach
2 Tainted AEthers
2 Dark Suspisions
1 Spirit of Resistance
1 Planeswalker's Mirth
1 Planeswalker's Fury
1 AEther Flash
I like the way this looks. I try playing it a few times, and other than when I came out extreemly slow due to color conflict, it not only annoys the heck out of all my opponents. It ends up beating them handily!
Well, there were actually a few other revisions before this last (including a small dalliance with power surge that ended up frustrating me more than my opponents) but in order to keep from boring everyone, I will not go through every stage here. I will try to clarify a little bit more on this last deck format, and will then end the article and let everyone criticize the deck and/or my writing style (or lack thereof!)
This is a combo deck, and it helps most people if I point out some of the ones that I ended up seeing more often than not.
Combo #1: (the obvious one)
Any and all of the mana producing artifacts, and the Manabarbs.
Combo #2: Sunken Hopes, Overburdens, Mana Breach, Tainted Aether/and or Aether Flash:
Keeps the creatures off of the board while limiting the amount of land your opponent has on the board.
Combo #3: Arcane Laboratory, Dark Suspicions:
Keeps your opponents hand size larger than yours, as long as yours is smaller when you cast Arcane Lab. (Using Sunken Hopes, Mana Breach and Overburdens can actually increase thier hand size when used in conjunction with this combo). Having Zuran Orb in play will let you sac your land (if you got enough artifacts out) to gain life (always cool) and to keep your hand size down by not having to bounce a land every time you cast a spell.
There are Three win conditions that this deck will primarily produce.
#1 (most common): Death by Dark Suspicions. Using the Sterling Groves to search for it also, and by using the mana producing artifacts to cast (so you don't have to bounce land to your hand, because you don't have any to bounce) gives you 6 chances to pull it out of the deck. Plus your opponent will weep when you pull two and put another Groves out so they cannot be disenchanted or otherwise targeted!
#2 (harder to accomplish, and usually only when your opponent gets frustrated): Death by Manabarbs. As long as your opponent does not have mana producing artifacts, or golbal enchantment destroyers (such as tranquility) they will be taking damage when they cast, and you wont be!
#3 (hardest, because it relies on one card of which there is one copy, but can be searced for with a Sterling Grove if needed) Planeswalkers Fury. With the Sunken Hopes and the mana shortages, your opponent should have a pretty full hand(more than you) and a lot will be higher costs (because of the mana shortage). This will take some manuvering, but using this ability at least twice a turn, should reduce your opponent to 0 in 4-8 rounds, (provided you can avoid finding all the land you bounced back to his/her hand with the overburdens and the mana breach).
One last thing, this deck relies on keeping most of the cards in play, so I usually will try to be patient and keep one Sterling Grove in play at all times, waiting on sacrificing it until i get another one in play! Having most of the cards in play and them being mainly enchantments, means that you have a lot of effects going on all the time, not just when you play spells. It can be a bit confusing, and sometimes a turn (mainly opponents turn) can take a while due to bouncing creatures, land, and such. But this is a really fun deck to play, albiet, frustrating to play against!
I now welcome any ideas or critiques, because this is a very fluid deck, and it could always use a bit of evolution.