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CardShark Content - Brian Baker (4/10/2005)

There are many schools of thought on the subject of the creation of the casual deck. Certain factors, such as the limitations of one's own collection, help shape the motivations and methods of a player to build a deck. Some take a Preconstructed deck and tweak it to fit their own playing style. As I said way back in my first article, this is exactly how I built my very first deck, and it still holds a special place in my heart. Those readers who are particularly interested in this style of deck building would do well to read the Building on a Budget column at www.magicthegathering.com.

Sometimes a player will build a deck around an entire mechanic, such as Affinity or Flanking. The best performing decks in this category tend to be those that give the greatest focus to the mechanic and its support cards, rather than sporting a great deal of interesting but suboptimal tangents. A Buyback deck with Memory Crystal
Memory Crystal
Memory CrystalSet: Exodus
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
134
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
All buyback costs are reduced by 2.
, for example, will most likely be stronger than a one that replaces it with something that doesn't support the theme. This isn't to say that there is only one correct way to build a theme deck, but the most successful builds usually have a more linear form.

Finally, we have decks that are inspired from and built around individual cards and card combinations. These decks are conceived when a player sees a card that just begs to be given attention. Sometimes it happens when a player and card meet for the first time, while other times it is an older card that is seen in a new light. The release of new expansion sets often causes players to find more combinations with old cards. Whatever the case, the moment when inspiration occurs is essentially the ´´birth´´ of a new deck. Since the components of these decks are highly individualistic, the variety is nearly limitless.

The deck that inspired this article fits neatly into the third category. A few months ago, I had just finished opening my box of Betrayers and I was trying to find inspiration for a new deck beyond Spirit
Spirit
SpiritSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
craft or Ninjas. I started with the rare cards, since rares tend to be the most wild or influential cards, but inspiration eluded me. It wasn't until I reviewed my commons that a card jumped out at me.

It was Ire of Kaminari
Ire of Kaminari
Ire of KaminariSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
109
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Ire of Kaminari deals damage to target creature or player equal to the number of Arcane cards in your graveyard.
.

I understood two things immediately. First of all, this deck was never going to be tournament caliber. The card is too situational and not strong enough on its own to keep up with more aggressive decks. Secondly, this card is a paradox. Card advantage is the very nature of Arcane spells and their ability to Splice, and most of the time those cards should remain in hand rather than in the graveyard. Working around this card's fundamental nature was going to be a challenge, one that intrigued me greatly.

4:Ire of Kaminari
Ire of Kaminari
Ire of KaminariSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
109
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Ire of Kaminari deals damage to target creature or player equal to the number of Arcane cards in your graveyard.


Sure, the Ire has the potential to eventually deal a large amount of damage, but the two questions to deal with now are how to make Ire more than one single shot to the head and what to do in the meantime. I considered all sorts of spell recursion of varying degrees before settling on the ´´auto-spell´´ machine.

2:Panoptic Mirror
Panoptic Mirror
Panoptic MirrorSet: Darksteel
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
136
Artist:
Glen Angus
Text:
Imprint -- X, T: You may remove an instant or sorcery card with converted mana cost X in your hand from the game. (That card is imprinted on this artifact.) At the beginning of your upkeep, you may copy an imprinted instant or sorcery card and play the copy without paying its mana cost.


While we build up to a rather large (and hopefully repeating) Ire, I should be playing Arcane spells. These spells should be focused on dealing damage and/or staying alive (i.e. removing threats). Certain cards leap to mind rather quickly. Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
is the undisputed king of damage efficiency, and a turn three Splice onto Lava Spike
Lava Spike
Lava SpikeSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
178
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Lava Spike deals 3 damage to target player.
usually results in a wounded opponent and a dead creature. Blind with Anger
Anger
AngerSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Incarnation
Rarity:
U
Number:
77
Artist:
John Avon

Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Haste. As long as Anger is in your graveyard and you control a mountain, creatures you control have haste.
is also key, since it enables Splice and can result in multiple creature losses for the opponent when played correctly.

4:Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)

4:Blind with Anger
Anger
AngerSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Incarnation
Rarity:
U
Number:
77
Artist:
John Avon

Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Haste. As long as Anger is in your graveyard and you control a mountain, creatures you control have haste.

4:Lava Spike
Lava Spike
Lava SpikeSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
178
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Lava Spike deals 3 damage to target player.


First Volley
First Volley
First VolleySet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
100
Artist:
Glen Angus
Text:
First Volley deals 1 damage to target creature and 1 damage to that creature's controller.
makes the cut, since it can hinder the opponent and allows for Splice. I'd honestly prefer Shower of Sparks
Shower of Sparks
Shower of SparksSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
217
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Text:
Shower of Sparks deals 1 damage to target creature and 1 damage to target player.
, but Arcane tips the scales.

3:First Volley
First Volley
First VolleySet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
100
Artist:
Glen Angus
Text:
First Volley deals 1 damage to target creature and 1 damage to that creature's controller.


I considered Torrent of Stone
Torrent of Stone
Torrent of StoneSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
119
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Torrent of Stone deals 4 damage to target creature. Splice onto Arcane—Sacrifice two mountains. (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
for a long while before including it in the deck. It's not usually spliced, but it gets the job done.

3:Torrent of Stone
Torrent of Stone
Torrent of StoneSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
119
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Torrent of Stone deals 4 damage to target creature. Splice onto Arcane—Sacrifice two mountains. (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)


Strange Inversion
Strange Inversion
Strange InversionSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
192
Artist:
Khang Le
Text:
Switch target creature's power and toughness until end of turn. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
may not be on most people's top picks list, but it's, well, too strange not to be fun. Besides, it totally negates a costly Blazing Shoal
Blazing Shoal
Blazing ShoalSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
R
Number:
96
Artist:
Glen Angus
Text:
You may remove a red card with converted mana cost X in your hand from the game rather than pay Blazing Shoal's mana cost. Target creature gets +X/+0 until end of turn.
or Enrage
Enrage
EnrageSet: Scourge
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
91
Text:
Target creature gets +X/+0 until end of turn.
. Finally, Desperate Ritual
Desperate Ritual
Desperate RitualSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
163
Artist:
Darrell Riche
Text:
Add RRR to your mana pool. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
fills in the cracks while allowing for some acceleration.

2:Strange Inversion
Strange Inversion
Strange InversionSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
192
Artist:
Khang Le
Text:
Switch target creature's power and toughness until end of turn. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)

2:Desperate Ritual
Desperate Ritual
Desperate RitualSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
163
Artist:
Darrell Riche
Text:
Add RRR to your mana pool. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)


All right, I'm 28 cards in and all but 2 are Arcane. Now it's time to consider some utility. Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Magma JetSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
73
Text:
Magma Jet deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Scry 2
offers the nifty Scry ability while doing what this deck loves to do- hurt things. Shatter
Shatter
ShatterSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Shatter destroys target artifact.
kills such annoyances as Platinum Angel
Platinum Angel
Platinum AngelSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
7
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
R
Number:
228
Artist:
Brom
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying You can't lose the game and your opponents can't win the game.
and Sun Droplet
Sun Droplet
Sun DropletSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Number:
249
Artist:
Tim Hildebrandt
Text:
Whenever you're dealt damage, put that many charge counters on Sun Droplet. At the beginning of each player's upkeep, you may remove a charge counter from Sun Droplet. If you do, you gain 1 life.
, among others. Oblivion Stone
Oblivion Stone
Oblivion StoneSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
222
Artist:
Sam Wood
Text:
4, T: Put a fate counter on target permanent. 5, T, Sacrifice Oblivion Stone: Destroy each nonland permanent without a fate counter on it, then remove all fate counters from all permanents.
, upon the further review of my rares binder, takes care of just about anything scary while acting as a deterrent.

4:Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Magma JetSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
73
Text:
Magma Jet deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Scry 2

2:Shatter
Shatter
ShatterSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Shatter destroys target artifact.

2:Oblivion Stone
Oblivion Stone
Oblivion StoneSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
222
Artist:
Sam Wood
Text:
4, T: Put a fate counter on target permanent. 5, T, Sacrifice Oblivion Stone: Destroy each nonland permanent without a fate counter on it, then remove all fate counters from all permanents.


Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn SimulacrumSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
245
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
When Solemn Simulacrum comes into play, you may search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. If you do, shuffle your library. When Solemn Simulacrum is put into a graveyard from play, you may draw a card.
would finish things off nicely while smoothing out mana, but I decide on Chartooth Cougar
Chartooth Cougar
Chartooth CougarSet: Scourge
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat Beast
Rarity:
C
Number:
84
Artist:
Tony Szczudlo
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
R: Chartooth Cougar gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
Mountaincycling 2
instead for the earlier boost.

2:Chartooth Cougar
Chartooth Cougar
Chartooth CougarSet: Scourge
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat Beast
Rarity:
C
Number:
84
Artist:
Tony Szczudlo
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
R: Chartooth Cougar gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
Mountaincycling 2


Speaking of mana….

22:Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.


There you have it, one complete Ire deck. Since its construction I've brought it whenever getting together with my friends, and it has been met with varying levels of success and praise. I have found that, for a mono-red deck based around burn, it requires an unusual amount of patience and thinking. Arcane spells need to go into the graveyard, but at a careful rate rather than a splurge of pointless activity. Waiting for the opportune moment to unleash spells is key to victory. I love to play it, not only because it challenges my opponents, but because it challenges me as well.

Thanks for reading. Here's the complete decklist, in uninterrupted form:

Red Creatures (2):
2:Chartooth Cougar
Chartooth Cougar
Chartooth CougarSet: Scourge
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat Beast
Rarity:
C
Number:
84
Artist:
Tony Szczudlo
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
R: Chartooth Cougar gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
Mountaincycling 2


Red Spells (32):
4:Lava Spike
Lava Spike
Lava SpikeSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
178
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Lava Spike deals 3 damage to target player.

4:Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)

4:Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Magma JetSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
73
Text:
Magma Jet deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Scry 2

3:First Volley
First Volley
First VolleySet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
100
Artist:
Glen Angus
Text:
First Volley deals 1 damage to target creature and 1 damage to that creature's controller.

2:Desperate Ritual
Desperate Ritual
Desperate RitualSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
163
Artist:
Darrell Riche
Text:
Add RRR to your mana pool. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)

2:Shatter
Shatter
ShatterSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Shatter destroys target artifact.

2:Strange Inversion
Strange Inversion
Strange InversionSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
192
Artist:
Khang Le
Text:
Switch target creature's power and toughness until end of turn. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)

4:Ire of Kaminari
Ire of Kaminari
Ire of KaminariSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
109
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Ire of Kaminari deals damage to target creature or player equal to the number of Arcane cards in your graveyard.

4:Blind with Anger
Anger
AngerSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Incarnation
Rarity:
U
Number:
77
Artist:
John Avon

Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Haste. As long as Anger is in your graveyard and you control a mountain, creatures you control have haste.

3:Torrent of Stone
Torrent of Stone
Torrent of StoneSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
119
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Torrent of Stone deals 4 damage to target creature. Splice onto Arcane—Sacrifice two mountains. (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)


Artifacts (4):
2:Panoptic Mirror
Panoptic Mirror
Panoptic MirrorSet: Darksteel
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
136
Artist:
Glen Angus
Text:
Imprint -- X, T: You may remove an instant or sorcery card with converted mana cost X in your hand from the game. (That card is imprinted on this artifact.) At the beginning of your upkeep, you may copy an imprinted instant or sorcery card and play the copy without paying its mana cost.

2:Oblivion Stone
Oblivion Stone
Oblivion StoneSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
222
Artist:
Sam Wood
Text:
4, T: Put a fate counter on target permanent. 5, T, Sacrifice Oblivion Stone: Destroy each nonland permanent without a fate counter on it, then remove all fate counters from all permanents.


Land (22):
22:Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.



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