Well, with the rotation of Urza's Block out of Type II, a lot of people are left wondering what the next Bargain, Replenish, or Stompy will look like. Who will emerge with the new deck to beat? What enterprising young soul will piece together the remains of Type II into something to be proud of?
Why not you?
There's no reason at all that you can't be the next person to put together that winning Type II deck that comes out of nowhere. What follows is a simple guide towards making a deck that will dominate any given environment.
1. WHICH decks can you expect to see?
This question is answered by looking at the decks we currently see dominating Type II. Snuff-o-Derm, Rising Waters, Draw-Go, and Land Destruction are all still major forces, and your theoretical SuperDeck has to be able to stare each and every one of them down.
2. WHY do these decks win?
This is crucial; you have to understand why these decks operate as well as they do. Let's adopt a case-by-case approach:
Snuff-O-Derm - Wins with creature control, followed by monsters that either won't go away, or refuse to go away before dealing massive damage.
Draw-Go - Wins by countering key threats (performing admirably against most combo decks) and then following up with sufficient removal and enough finishing power of its own to deal a killing blow.
Land Destruction - Wins by removing your access to mana, suppressing early creatures with burn spells and laying down a kill mechanism when your resources (mana) are depleted to a point where dealing with that kill mechanism is next to impossible.
Rising Waters - Wins by controlling your resources (mana), using island-returning spells to keep itself in mana until it can play a kill card, one that you hopefully won't be able to handle.
3. WHAT can be done to render these decks either impotent or weak?
Well, one thing that each of these decks has in common is the reliance on some manner of creature, whether fat or small, to kill you. The majority of them also run some form of creature control, whether countermagic or directed spells, to prevent you from beating them down before they can do what they want to do.
4. HOW can I exploit these common themes?
It is my firm belief that every deck has some intrinsic flaw that can be exploited, some lynchpin that can be pulled to make it crumble to pieces. To a large degree, the key to succeeding in a limited environment like Type II is determine what the most common lynchpin is, and how it can be pulled. In this case, I see two possibilities:
WHITE/BLUE CONTROL - Between Wrath of God, Rout, and Mageta, there are twelve Wrath spells in the current Type II environment. The amount of countermagic, as is the general trend throughout the lifecycle of Magic, has remained such that the selection of counterspells is like a buffet for the players of blue. Invasion assists the white/blue player with cards like Coastal Tower, Seashell Cameo, and Samite Archer.
2x Seashell Cameo
2x Coastal Tower
3x Wrath of God
2x Mageta, the Lion
2x Cho-Manno, Revolutionary
3x Story Circle
2x Devout Witness
2x Distorting Wake
3x Sliptide Serpent
3x Samite Archer
3x Aura Fracture
3x Sheltering Prayers
3x Galina's Knight
1x Mercadian Lift
3x Mana Short
2x Disrupting Scepter
How does it win?
AGAINST SNUFF-O-DERM: Wrathlike spells will deal with problematic untargetable or regenerating creatures, with countermagic ensuring that they remain gone. Samite Archer helps your chances at survival, and Cho-Manno will survive repeated Blastoderm assaults (especially with countermagic protecting him from Snuffs and the like). Story Circle can be a win condition all on its own.
AGAINST RISING WATERS: Devout Witness will help in dealing with Rising Waters itself, assuming your opponent ever manages to push it through your countermagic. Should that occur, just Gush and Thwart your Islands back into play, and don't forget your Seashell Cameos. Sideboard in Aura Fracture to make sure your opponent realizes that no matter how mana-locked you are, you can always pop his Waters.
AGAINST LAND DESTRUCTION: Don't be afraid to Gush and Thwart; bounce lands you've already tapped to make them work double in countermagicking your opponent's LD. Try to get your Cameos into play early, and remember that this deck has a goodly amount of land. Sideboard in Galina's Knight for a fast pro-red creature, and Sheltering Prayers to make your opponent's day a living hell. A well-placed Mana Short during your opponent's upkeep can keep him quiet for a turn, too.
AGAINST DRAW-GO: This deck will be packing a lot of countermagic, so don't even think about trying to out-counter it on things that don't matter. Try to play aggresively, forcing your opponent to use counters on Mageta, Cho-Manno, and your Archers. When he throws down a kill mechanism, that's when *your* counters come into play. And remember, you do have board-wipers in your deck, so don't concede if something ugly pushes its way through. Sideboard in Mercadian Lift to make your creatures uncounterable, Mana Short for a must-counter spell, and Disrupting Scepter to get rid of those pesky cards your opponent draws.
Q: Why Seashell Cameo?
A: Two reasons. One, it's an artifact, so Rising Waters doesn't touch it, and Land Destruction has to Pillage it. Two, it's mana acceleration, albeit not at Diamond speed.
Q: Why Sliptide Serpent?!
A: It returns to your hand. Remember all those Wraths you're playing? Also, picture this: block with Sliptide Serpent, put damage on the stack, return it to my hand...
Q: Samite Archer?
A: Utility on a stick. Damage prevention early in the game when you're going to need it, and direct damage later in the game when you don't. A very solid creature.
Q: Shackles are nice, but what about...
A: Return Shackles to your hand in response to casting your favorite Wrath-like effect. Recycle, re-use.
Pretty solid. I could see this deck giving every opponent it faces, from Fish to Stompy II to Draw-Go, a serious run for its money.
BLITZ 2000 (RED/GREEN SPEED)
A lot of people are saying that green has lost its edge, that it's fading back into obscurity. A lot of people are saying that red is getting shafted, that it's going the way of the dodo, with the possible exception of land-destruction decks.
A lot of people are wrong.
Red/Green has been a lethal combination since the days of the Kird Ape, and Invasion gives it just the jumpstart it needs to get moving again. Neither color alone really has the speed it used to have, but together, the implications are rather impressive.
4x Flame Rift
3x Seal of Fire
2x Rhystic Lightning
2x Urza's Rage
3x Scarred Puma
3x Giant Growth
2x Seal of Strength
3x Pygmy Razorback
2x Seal of Strength
3x River Boa
4x Silt Crawler
3x Fires of Yavimaya
2x Meteor Storm
3x Chimeric Idol
3x Reverent Silence
3x Citadel of Pain
2x Dense Foliage
3x Quirion Elves
2x Meteor Storm
2x Kavu Chameleon
How does it win?
AGAINST SNUFF-O-DERM: Probably the toughest matchup of the Big Four, you're on equal ground with your opponent. You've got your own 'derms to handle your opponent's, and you've quite probably got more creatures than he's got creature elimination. Skizzik makes for a nasty surprise for an opponent that overcommits, and your burn spells should clear the path of those lesser creatures. If you like, you can sideboard in Kavu Chameleon for an un-Snuffable creature (turn him black in response), or even Dense Foliage if the creature-kill is coming fast and heavy, but it shouldn't be necessary in this matchup.
AGAINST RISING WATERS: Honestly, all you've got to do is play this deck as it should go, and Rising Waters shouldn't affect you much at all. If you get a halfway decent draw, you should be able to get a decent little army on the board before your opponent knows what hit him. Don't forget to sideboard in Reverent Silence if he gets clever, though; it can be much better to give your opponent 6 life than to get locked down, as even a mono-colored Collective Restraint can put the brakes on your horde. Quirion Elves can provide some helpful mana, too.
AGAINST LAND DESTRUCTION: Somewhat tougher than Rising Waters, but by the time your opponent is destroying your land, you should have a fairly presentable army built up and ready to go. With burn spells of your own (most of them working at instant speed), you can tap nuked land to fry your opponent, helping him on his way to death. Again, Quirion Elves are pretty helpful in this scenario, providing some non-land mana.
AGAINST DRAW-GO: This deck shines against Draw-Go. With enough fast threats that the Draw-Go player will find it almost impossible to counter them all, your opponent will be scrambling to catch up...and by the time they do, there's a good chance that it'll simply be too late. Sideboarding in killers like Citadel of Pain, Kavu Chameleon, and a few extra Meteor Storms make it hurt that much more. If they do manage to take the game into the late-game somehow, your Urza's Rages (kickered, of course) can finish them off.
Q: Why no Creeping Mold maindeck?
A: Simply put, this deck is made to do 20 damage to your opponent at blinding speeds. If you're drawing Creeping Mold, you're *not* drawing a card to help you kill your opponent.
Q: Why Scarred Puma?
A: A one-drop 2/1. Its drawback is negligible in this deck, and undercosted creatures are tough to come by.
Q: Flame Rift? FOUR of them?
A: Yes, four of them. This deck does have some suicide elements to it, I admit...but the general idea with this deck is that you'll be able to push the damage envelope to kill them, without getting killed beforehand.
Q: Okay, how about Silt Crawler?
A: Again, an undercosted creature whose drawback will be almost unnoticeable in this deck. Also pairs nicely with Chimeric Idol.
Q: Speaking of Chimeric Idol...
A: You'll be tapping out most of the time, anyway. And it gets around one of this deck's real problems, Story Circle.
PROGNOSIS: Pretty good. Speed isn't much good in this environment, unless it's REAL speed...and this is real speed.
These, of course, are just one guy's opinions. I could be right, I could be wrong...but you might as well give 'em a try, right? The most important thing about this is that I investigated what weaknesses the current Type II decks have, and what you can do to manipulate those weaknesses.
5. WHERE are the next decks coming from?
It's important to see what people are trying to get, to determine what decks you can expect to see coming. Are people scrambling for Coalition Victory? Expect to see a deck built around it. Are Dragon Legends going high? Watch for people to try to push these into play as soon as possible and abuse their special powers. Watch your local scene for a while, see what people want, and react accordingly.
That about sums it up; five easy steps that will put you on the right track towards making a Type II deck that will take into account the current environment, adapt, and dominate.
That *is* a key word, by the way. ADAPT. You have to become adept at looking at new sets as (or before) they come out, and changing your deck to suit the changes that come about.
Look at each new card, remember the theme and purpose of your deck, and determine whether or not it has a place in your deck.
Remember that not every set will have cards that will work in your deck. A common mistake is to try to take that neat-looking new card, shove it into your deck, and *force* it to work. If it's meant to be a part of your winning deck, it'll fit on its own. If it's not, don't try to force the issue.
Most importantly, try to have fun. You're trying to dominate, but remember, it's a game. If you don't have fun, you've missed the real point.
Send suggestions, ideas for improvement, and any spare cash to firstname.lastname@example.org.