Analyzing and Deck Building: Featuring Outpost Siege

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A common question people ask is: “How do I build a deck?”  It’s easy to say just get one from the internet and play it tons of times to become proficient, but some people really just have a passion for making a deck themselves.  In my opinion, iterative deckbuilding is the best way to build a deck.  As the name implies, each iteration of the deck should be slightly different from the last. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where the end result may not look much like what it started out as.

The Seed

outpost siege

The start of any deck is the seed or the initial concept.  Sometimes it’s a card and sometimes it’s an interaction.

For me, I chose to use Outpost Siege. The first step to building from a seed is to truly analyze it and figure out what makes it good. Outpost Siege is a card that is good in certain circumstances. It’s good when your opponent has no cards in hand, it’s good when the board is clear, and it’s good when you can play the extra card every turn.

The next step is to figure out when it’s bad and try to prevent those situations. Siege is pretty bad when your spells don’t do anything, it’s pretty bad when you’re dead, and it’s pretty bad when you’re behind.  Knowing the reasons why you want to build with a card helps to solidify the strengths and weaknesses of the idea.

Pros

1) It’s good when your opponent has no cards in hand: The most obvious thing to do is make them discard cards. That generally will accomplish the goal but it doesn’t help shore up the weaknesses of the card. If you’re making your opponent discard cards and they’re playing cards to the board, you will be behind. That’s not optimal. What can we do to run our opponent out of cards besides playing discards spells? We can play cards that require answers to empty our opponent’s hand. One-for-one cards like removal spells and big efficient creatures are the best way to do this.

2) It’s good when the board is clear: Kill everything!  This seems pretty evident that if we play threats that outclass most threats and remove ones that outclass ours, the board should be in our favor and we can push our advantage with Outpost Siege.

3) It’s good when we play our extra card every turn:  If we exile a land off of Outpost Siege every turn, there is 100 percent chance we can play it. But what happens if we draw a spell and exile a spell?  If we don’t play both, then we may play a sub-optimal spell or lose out on a spell altogether. This deck needs to be able to double-spell fairly often and fairly consistently.

Cons

1) When our spells don’t do anything:  Exiling a counter spell is pretty bad. Exiling a one-mana 1/1 on turn 16 is usually pretty bad. Exiling cards we can’t cast is also pretty bad. Exiling cards our opponents don’t  care about is pretty bad. How do we fix this? Play flexible reactive spells and threats. There is no such thing as a bad threat, only a bad answer.

2) When you’re behind: When you get behind on the board, Outpost Siege does nothing outright to get you back into the game.  If you’re at one life staring down 13 goblin tokens, this card will not help you. We need to include cards that help us get to the late game when the Siege can win the game for us.

3) When we’re dead: This goes without saying, but if you’re too slow or your mana is too painful and you die, well then, it didn’t do anything. Having a good amount of life gain and spells that generate “more turns” of gameplay are crucial to our plan.

So About the Deck Building…

Okay, now that we’ve got that settled, where do we start? Well, Outpost Siege has already been featured in Jeskai and Boros decks to some success. We know how it works there so we need to try something else. My initial thought was a Jund-style deck.

Jund decks have been known to do a lot of the things we need. They play efficient threats, they play good removal to keep the board clear, they have some life gain to make the game take longer. Jund colors lend themselves to the grind pretty easily. The problem is that we don’t have a lot of really efficient mana-fixing for those colors. Mana Confluence seems like a necessary evil, but it’s hard to say what else we really have for lands after that. Too many Temples makes the deck too slow to play two spells each turn and too many fetchlands may make it too painful and inconsistent.  Enter the engine:

cary satyrmurderous  tas

Sylvan Caryatid and Satyr Wayfinder are great mana fixers for a three-color deck. Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Murderous Cut are great ways to double spell faster (because we can frequently delve these cards down to one mana) and are also fueled by Wayfinders and the fetchlands we will probably end up playing.  Tasigur provides a big body for defense, and in the later game, more card advantage to help close things out.

courser

This card also helps a lot of our issues.  It lets us gain life to prolong the game, is pretty good at blocking, and provides more lands to let us reach critical mass of double-spelling.

What other cheap efficient removal spells can we play? Murderous Cut alone will not solve all problemschained

Chained to the Rocks is a pretty easy splash.  We are already playing Mana Confluence and Sylvan Caryatid for fixing, and with two different mountain fetchlands, we don’t need that many actual mountains to have a lot of “theoretical” mountains in our deck.

200143

Even if we have all of the removal in the world, we can’t win the game easily with Tasigur, Courser, and Wayfinder as our only threats.  Stormbreath Dragon is extremely resilient and we’ve already committed to playing a lot of red sources for Chained to the Rocks, so it seems like a good inclusion.  Siege Rhino similarly fills a lot of the same roles as Courser with a bigger body.  It only requires one white mana, so it shouldn’t be difficult to cast.

61 90 171

More ways to kill stuff.  We’re really stretching on the white splash because we can pretty much play Sandsteppe Citadel for free.  This deck will be mainly green-black and will work to splash the other two colors.

Okay, so we throw all of these cards in a blender with some lands and what do we get? A mostly unplayable pile of hot garbage! The deck seems worse than Abzan control because it doesn’t have as good a mana base and doesn’t have Abzan Charm to draw cards.  Casting RR, GG, BB, GWB, and RWB spells in the same deck proved to be non-trivial. I ended up cutting Chained to the Rocks before even playing my first match because supporting enough mountains to cast it seemed impossible.

This is the first version of the deck I played:

Yep, this deck is rough and the mana looks horrendous, but there is potential!  When I had Outpost Siege in play, it did what it was supposed to do when the conditions were right. The more I played, the more I realized that the mana was really causing too many problems and being more conservative with my card choices could go a long way. I realized the red cards were just under performing in so many situations. There is not a lot of difference between Crackling Doom, Abzan Charm, and Hero’s Downfall in a lot of situations, except for the mana symbols on the cards.

I also had a lot of issues with too many lands coming into play tapped. I needed more untapped sources of mana and fewer red ones in general. Often I would find an opening hand with two red sources nearly unplayable because we need to cast GG and BB spells early to live.

But fear not! My experiment wasn’t done. I decided to borrow more cards from the existing Abzan control deck and morph it more to support Outpost Siege than to make a red deck that supports G/B cards.

There were more iterations of the deck that included Crater’s Claws, Xenagos, the Reveler, and other nonsense like that. The more I played, the more I realized the only red card I really wanted was the Siege.

Version 3.0 of the deck:

What is the deck now?  Still pretty rough, but it’s tuned to beat some matchups pretty thoroughly.

The Abzan mirror match is a joke with an Outpost Siege in play. Although we eschew Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, our combination of Tasigur and Siege generate enough resources to power through them.  Whisperwood Elemental gives us great insurance versus Elspeth and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.

Additionally, our sideboard helps out dealing with problematic cards like Hornet Queen, Whip of Erebos, Perilous Vault, etc.  I would even go so far as to say if you plan to play any version of Abzan, give this one a try. The first time your turn-five play is Tasigur and Siege Rhino in the same turn, you will understand the power of the deck.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or success stories with this brew!

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Jim Casale

@Phrost_     -     Email     -     Articles
Jim is a software developer and an avid blue planeswalker. He spellslings in Jacksonville, Florida, and you can feel free to contact him on Twitter at @phrost_.
Jim Casale

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