Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Now...where was I?

When Worldwake came out, the most obviously Johnny card of the whole bunch was Selective Memory. It's possible I just liked it because it had a badass picture. Now here was a card that, like One with Nothing, has almost no practical applications whatsoever besides as a combo engine. Sure, they tried to claim that it was for the landfall mechanic, so that in limited you would only draw lands, but we all knew what was going on. Anyways, I've had this deck kicking around for awhile in the ole noggin, but it was only today that I finally figured out the specifics.

A whiles back there was a From the Lab deck that used Thought Hemorrhage and Relentless Rats to get Shelldock Isle to go off. This was a silly combo. This combo deck today is just a tad more streamlined than that. I built the deck so that it would work on a budget, because it's clearly not a viable competitive deck, but I still kept it in Extended because it's just easier to limit the cardpool sometimes.

And so without further ado, click the jump to see the decklist I concocted

4 Selective Memory
4 Amulet of Vigor
4 Ponder
4 Peer Through Depths
4 Serum Visions
3 Condescend
3 Mana Leak
3 Isleback Spawn
1 Eternal Dominion
1 Inkwell Leviathan
1 Time Stretch
1 Possessed Portal
1 Beacon of Tomorrows

4 Coldsteel Heart
4 Sky Diamond
2 Island
4 Dimir Aqueduct (or any of the blue bouncelands)
4 Shelldock Isle
4 Tolaria West
4 Vesuva

The biggest challenge with Selective Memory is that little "nonland" bit. I really had to stretch to get it down so that I could consistently use my Shelldocks afterwards. I eventually settled on 17-18 lands with 8 other mana sources. It works out since I can usually keep a 1 mana hand anyways, with all the Ponders and pseudo-Ponders about. I considered running Brainstorm, but I have no idea whether it's restricted or whatever, so I just ignored it. I also thought about Mystical Teachings, but Peer through Depths is practically as consistent with half the CMC.

I knew that I was going to need 4 Shelldock Isles and 4 Vesuvas, but when I realized that the Ravnica Bouncelands could let me replay the same Isle the gears in my head ticked towards that other Worldwake favorite of mine: Amulet of Vigor. Then I figured why not go all out, so I looked for more mana sources to go along with it. Tolaria West is an obvious choice, but the real gems are the Sky Diamond and Coldsteel Heart, great with the Amulet of Vigor as well as nice tech against Blood Moon. I considered Boseiju, Who Shelters All, Halimar Depths, and more Bouncelands, but after playtesting this seemed like the optimal mana curve. If I were less money-concerned I would run the Chrome Mox of course.

The big spells are completely interchangeable with whatever you have handy. If you have playsets of Progenitus and Darksteel Colossus, go ahead and toss those in. But since I was making this for more casual play, I couldn't resist the Isleback Spawn. How could I say no to that face? It'd be like kicking someone out of their own home. I also really like Beacon of Tomorrows, and it hilariously has stopped me from milling myself at least once. Eternal Dominion is also fun always. I considered something with Mirror of Fate, but I think that would break my mind or something.

If you build this deck feel free to tweak it around, this is just a rough idea of the decklist I arrived at. If you do end up making it, here are some tips both for playing and for building:

1. Don't go over 18 lands and ~8 "big" spells. You really need Shelldock to go off. I have been managing to not need to Selective Memory out anything "big" and still go off, but if you add more than that, that won't be the case.
2. Aggressively mulligan hands with too many "big" spells. Not only are they dead in your hand, but that means that you won't be able to Shelldock them. Drawing out your win conditions will lose you the game.
3. Remember that Amulet of Vigors stack. Also remember that you can play the bounceland for 2 mana, or that you can use a Shelldock immediately. If you don't have an Amulet of Vigor in play or in hand when you cast Selective Memory, you should at least leave one in your library. It's that crucial.
4. If you can, wait to play Shelldock Isle until after you Select. If you think about it with the list above, on turn 1 you're sampling 4 cards with a 7/57 chance each of being useful, whereas after Selecting you instead sample 4 with 7/20 chance. If you do have to Shelldock early, keep in mind that you can only cast it after Selective Memory, so think about what you'd rather have then. Don't put Ponder under it, put another Shelldock Isle if you can, or a Bounceland or a Vesuva. All these are much better. And if you have to put an Island under it, then don't feel bad about using a bounceland to replay it without casting the card under it. Sure, it's Exiled forever, but you don't care.
5. Remember that you can activate Shelldock Isle at instant speed, so wait until your opponent's endstep.
6. If you sideboard, take out the random card draw things for your sideboard. One of the advantages of Selective Memory is that you almost don't care about "thinning out" the deck's combo, because you get rid of everything at once. Selective Memory is like a midgame sideboard that you can use. Throw in an Inkwell Leviathan and a Oversoul of Dusk for example and you'd be prepared for most things, exiling the one that doesn't fit when the time comes.
7. You think you want Treasure Hunt at first with all this topdeck manipulation, but just remember that you don't. 18 lands. 18 lands.

The decklist above is Extended legal, though it's clearly not going to sweep any tournaments. It's also incredibly cheap, with no card going over ~$2 (that's the way I like it).

Build it! Play it! Have fun with it! That's the whole point!

On a side note: The first two games I playtested this deck in asked for Extended and then in first turn played cards out of format. Third game was against Living End, and he sacced 9 power to bring back 6 power. I was confused by this.

Final Thought: Selective Memory with a Shared Fate in your hand would be...devastating? Feel free to make that deck too!