The week of Thanksgiving saw my writing time consumed by holiday preparations to an unexpected degree, so this installment of Precon to Player was filed late. The next installment will be submitted closer to a regular schedule. The effect of this state of affairs is that this one may be overlooked. I advocate against that.
As the time period to vote for the General runs to December 2nd, we’re working under a presumed lack of focus. This freedom is actually a gift in disguise though. Unconstrained by having to balance theme and playability; we work on the last remaining constraint and the game’s most important one: the mana base.
The system of mana access distinguishes Magic: The Gathering as a game. The interplay of speed, resilience, and pain of access from the spells and permanents of a mana base is fairly unique among the collectible card games. Games won through mana glut or scarcity are often among the most memorable. Mana bases can be easy to neglect, but that’s a perilous option.
Mind Seize’s mana base comes configured as such:
Temple of the False God
It’s a very basic set-up that favors stability over tempo in development. That’s enough damning with faint praise. Playing it this safe with a mana base can actually cause more damage from attacks of opportunity than the pings from Painlands accumulate. We can definitely do better.
Gem of Becoming
I’ve done a fairly simple substitution of the appropriate manlands (Tarpit and Reaches) for guildgates, added the last Ravnica bounce land along with a Dreadship Reef for any big mana plays the deck will make, and color fixing ramp in favor of the preconstructed slow and steady approach. All these improvements were not done on a one-for-one basis because we’re still awaiting the appointment of the General: Jeleva or Nekusar. Once that is chosen and the deck’s components are filled out, we’ll rebalance the various gross numbers.
The only controversial practice comes from removing Sol Ring. It is example one in the acceleration versus fixing discussion and I believe Commander players overly fetishize Sol Ring and other “Staples” they refuse to cut from a deck. Sol Ring’s application is for dedicated Ramp or Big Mana strategies that don’t mind landing it past turn 12. Best case scenario is you play it turn one or two and accelerate into an actual color fixer all while alarming the rest of the pod with the potential of “broken plays” which incentivize them to join together to punish you. A first turn Sol Ring that doesn’t start a short chain of events resulting in victory is the first sentence of a death warrant. Also, it has a retail value of $10 which we can use better elsewhere.
Speaking of retail values and leveraging resources to better end, here is the first Precon to Player budget report. Fixing this mana base cost the full $30 budget plus an additional $2.50. Trading in True-Name Nemesis, which is powerful in Vintage and Legacy but lackluster in non-duel Commander, to Gamer’s Gauntlet for store credit more than accommodated that overage.
Until next time,
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