Top O’ the afternoon, faithful readers.  Welcome to another week at GDC.  What’s the good word?

I’m piecing together the official Sisters creature-less list for your perusal, so be on the lookout for that in the next few days.  I’ll be getting a rare back-to-back weekly appearance this Wednesday at the local LGS for some playtesting, which is the good news; the corresponding bad news is that my permission slip has been signed because I also need to hit up the giant mall nearby to finish up some holiday shopping the same night.  If you’re keeping track, ‘Going to the mall during Christmas shopping crunch time’ ranks somewhere in-between the afore-mentioned ‘Root canal/colonoscopy one/two punch’ and ‘Hey, look at that…your furnace just exploded again!’  Not sure which way at this point…I’m leaning towards the former, but I’ll let you know.

SLAVE TO THE GRIND

About a month back, user “tedv” opened up a topic of discussion on the Official EDH Forum about deck-construction staples he called “Slaves to Staples: The 200-Card Deck Design Theory“.  It has blossomed into a great discussion about the idea of ‘auto-includes’, and how they influence deck design one way or the other.  Are there cards that belong in every deck that can support the color requirements?  Do cards like Sol Ring belong in decks that run a strategy that doesn’t utilize the card, or is it good enough to belong in spite of strategy?  How do auto-includes affect theme-deck construction?

I spent a chunk of my weekend working on fine-tuning my Kresh and Intet lists and trying to narrow down a design direction for my upcoming Angus Mackenzie list, so this topic came to mind this morning.  I decided to take a look at my lists to figure out what my go-to crutches are…

1. Darksteel Ingot

This is the biggest offender out of everything, appearing in all eleven of my current lists.  It’s no secret that I prefer green decks primarily because of the mana ramp/fixing; I was a little surprised that even my green lists include Ingot every time.  The key is a mix of indestructible mana fixing as well as ramp that works in any color.  (Embarassingly, it even shows up in my Venser and Radiant mono-color lists.)

2. Primeval Titan

Yeah…I know.  It’s about as innovative as opening your eyes and breathing.  Ironically, this card only made the list after I dis-assembled my mono-green Omnath list, which didn’t want mana creatures that weren’t elves or druids (or both.)  As an aside, it’s kind of telling that I feel like I need to apologize for including this card in my lists these days, but it’s still way too good to pass up.

Hand in hand…

3. Sol Ring

That answers that for me.  I have it in all eleven current decks as well.  Again, I wanted to play Llanowar Elves in Omnath on turn one, so that list was the first and last deck to date I’ve made that does not run Sol Ring.  I guess it is hard to get out from under a crutch.

4. Rhystic Study

Rhystic slowly managed to steal the thunder away from Mind’s Eye over the past year or so in my decks.  This card is in every blue list I run at this point; the combo of passive card draw and the cheap cost means you’re virtually guaranteed to gain some positive card value out of this thing if it comes down early.

As an aside, I think R&D should come up with a valid way to template verbal casting costs; we all know this thing should actually read as follows:

“Ask “How much are you paying for that?: draw a card whenever an opponent casts a spell unless that player pays 1.”

5. Decree Of Pain

The absolute gold standard as far as black removal goes.  The card draw means that you could run this in a mono-black thrull token deck, and it’d still be good. 

Fun trivia fact: I’ve cycled this card exactly once.  Ever.        

6 & 7.  Woodfall Primus and Acidic Slime

These came as a surprise to me.  I wouldn’t have been shocked to see one or the other in every green list I have, but as of today, they’re both in every single deck.  I guess it has come to pass that way because of the increased reliance I’m seeing on game-breaking enchantments in my local meta.  That, and I keep coming across reasonably-priced copies of Survival Of The Fittest, and I’m completely reinforcing this topic’s stereotype by essentially making the same deck over and over. 

The real lesson learned today is that I need to run more “Make DJ A Decklist Because He’s Terrible!” contests, apparently…

8. In The Web Of War

Dammit, Patrick.  This one is completely your fault.  If there’s red in the casting cost of my general, this is in there.  Stupid Super-Haste…

9. Cauldron Dance

I realize that this isn’t exactly a splashable card, but it is now and will forever be in every deck I make in red/black.  I could make a theme-deck called, “Cards That Aren’t Cauldron Dance”, and I’d still break my own rule and slide it in.  Absolutely a perfect storm of reanimation, combat tricks, cheating casting costs, regrowth…this card does it all, and at instant speed for a very reasonable cost. 

I LIKE CRUTCHES…ALL KINDS OF CRUTCHES…

There are some other egrigious offenders that come close to making the cut here, such as Solemn Simulacrum, Rite Of Replication, and Gather Specimens, but nothing else quite seems to show up to every party possible.  I guess I am a true creature of habit after all.

What are your must-haves?

—>DJ