Deck Playtesting - Part 1

I won't be talking about decks today. Something different should show up in my blog and it should be something stupid like more decks. But Magic: the Gathering is all about decks of cards, so maybe I'll talk about how I playtest my stupid stupid decks. :D Playtesting reveals a lot about which cards in your deck actually work, and which don't. There is nothing worse than playing cards which have no value to you whatsoever. As you reader know, I built a spirit and arcane deck earlier: click here to see it.

The original deck actually used spiritcraft triggers in a huge huge way. What was wrong with that? Nothing - on paper. I later playtested it against a casual green deck, an aggro green deck, a burn deck and even a control deck. It did fine in all tests - but revealed several weaknesses: Forked-Branch Garami didn't die as much as I would've liked it to. Briarknit Kami is useless because it comes out way too late.

Loam Dweller is utterly useless without Elder Pine of Jukai, and I shouldn't waste space on a 2 to cast, 2/2 creature when I could play better cards in. Petalmane Baku's mana burst was close to being absolutely useless in most cases. Kami of the Hunt's spiritcraft trigger was so small and weak (for its cost) that it was actually more beneficial to swing with Loam Dweller which came out earlier.

Wear Away's were merely a need for casual, and nothing more: in a serious deck, they would probably be replaced with something more substantial, like Commune with Nature or something better. With 9th Edition around, Reclaim rocks.

Hana Kami proved to be very useless with its ability, in fact doing better as a turn 2 swing. However, it is a late game saviour. A return of Unchecked Growth to your hand at instant speed to play at instant speed is instant fun, with your opponent grappling to recover. The death of an Elder Pine of Jukai returns a Hana Kami to cause more havoc.

After playing so many decks with the monogreen version, I gave up. The sheer lack of removal was impossible, and the sheer incompetence of Forked-Branch Garami and Briarknit Kami because they were just too slow were unbearable.

What happened after that round of playtesting? Red made a triumphant comeback: I put in removal: 4 Glacial Ray (to be spliced), 2 Blademane Baku (potentially large attacker) and 4 Lava Spike (splice body). I removed some Kami of the Hunt, Loam Dweller, Petalmane Baku and Traproot Kami to make space. The deck had now become an unrecognisable monster. The mana curve was now very very favourable. The highest on the curve was Scaled Hulk, but the majority of the deck was now 3 or less to cast. Kami of Tended Garden proved to be a valuable asset. It's 4/4 body and ability to soulshift during upkeep made some occurences of splicing occur AGAIN.

The deck became more of an arcane deck. A single Shinen of Life's Roar can completely decimate your opponent's table on turn 4. Against white control decks, you have the best of options: hold Lava Spikes and Glacial Rays. I once won by simply recurring my Lava Spike + splice 2 Glacial Ray 3 times over 3 turns (thanks to Hana Kami) to deal 21 damage.

Scaled Hulk became more of a backup plan, as my measly 1/1, 1/2, 2/2, and 2/1 creatures took centrestage together with made amounts of arcane backup. Is it still a casual deck? Not really. The deck can no longer play very long games. The focus has now shifted to a green weenie with red removal. Is it playable at tournaments? I would have to say that it isn't. Final Judgment would own it.