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E-League Deck Clinic

By Grim13 on August 28 2001

Daniel Gil Bayo writes:
My nick is Unclued on the IRC, and I'm sending a couple of IBC decks I've constructed because they don't work as much as I'd like. (Clinician's Note: The first deck was reviewed at an earlier date and is posted in the Deck Clinic for your viewing pleasure) The idea is to win using the Necra Sanctuary with the Sterling Grove while you protect yourselve with the moats and the Jungle Barrier. The Sanctuary is an enchantment so the opponent can't block it and all anti-creature spells are useless, and combined with Sterling Grove it's very dificult to stop it dealing damage

//NAME: Sterling Sanctuary, 0.99b
3 Swamp
4 Plains
5 Forest
3 Salt Marsh
3 Coastal Tower
3 Yavimaya Coast
3 Caves of Koilos
// Total: 24 lands

// Creatures
4 Jungle Barrier
// Total: 4 creatures

// Spells
1 Yawgmoth's Agenda
4 Vindicate
4 Absorb
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Opt
3 Teferi's Moat
4 Heroes' Reunion
4 Sterling Grove
4 Necra Sanctuary
// Total: 32 spells

On first glance, this deck looks good - plenty of 4-ofs, good mana curve, good land ratio, and fair versitility. However, on second glance, the mana base is shaky at best, there's only one win condition, and the deck lacks ways to protect the "combo" (Mostly against Wash Out).

With this in mind, I set out to improve the deck to fit it into a more competative mold, as well as build a SB (Clinician's note: In the future, I will not create a SB for a deck that does not include one in the first place).

//NAME: Sterling Sanctuary, V1.0
4 Plains
5 Forest
1 Island
4 Salt Marsh
3 Coastal Tower
3 Yavimaya Coast
4 Caves of Koilos
// Total: 24 lands

// Creatures
4 Charging Troll
1 Spiritmonger
4 Mystic Snake
// Total: 9 creatures

// Spells
4 Orim's Chant
4 Temporal Spring
4 Absorb
4 Opt
2 Teferi's Moat
1 Dueling Grounds
4 Sterling Grove
4 Necra Sanctuary
// Total: 27 spells

SB: 4 Spite/Malice
SB: 4 Llanowar Knight
SB: 4 Disrupt
SB: 3 Lobotomy

I decided to go basic- ditch the whole ultra-defensive, card advantage route and try to win properly.
Card by card analasys:
Lands: with the removal of most of the black cards, I decided against Swamps. I added another Caves and Marsh to compensate (and also to add U and W for Chant and counters), and popped in an Island.
Charging Troll: While he can be raged out (opposed to wall), he does several important things: Pings in for 3 damage (he doesn't tap to attack..), regenerates (makes him pretty hard to kill with burn or straight damage), and triggers the Necra all on his own.
Spiritmonger: Alternative kill, or defense as needed.
Mystic Snake: As always, both a counter and a blocker. This guy is just insane.
Orim's Chant: They can't cast spells, they can't attack, and all this for a measly two mana. Time walk anyone? (This card replaced Heroe's Reunion, which isn't as good, IMO)
Temporal Spring: It may not be straight removal, but it fits the deck insofar as colors and is much better than Vindicate. It also acts as a Time Walk to buy you another turn or two to win with the combo, especially when used Vs. CiP tapped lands.
Absorb: Counterspell and 3 life. Need I say more?
Opt: Scan around your deck for useful cards. I love doing this before I sac the Grove for a card - sometimes I can get the card I wanted that way. Cheap and effective.
Teferi's Moat: Hold back anything that gets on your nerves. Great Vs. Blurred Mongoose and his friends, or Vs. assorted bears. Only 2 because you can search them out, plus they're a little overpriced, plus they aren't always useful.
Dueling Grounds: As above, this can slow the bleeding, especially if you have a regenerating blocker. This also triggers the Necra.
Sterling Grove and Necra Sanctuary: The deck is based around these. Duh.

Spite/Malice: Counterspell or removal, take your pick. Especially useful against Voice of All (If they pick black, you can Spring it for some time)
Llanowar Knight: Not only is he very hard to remove, he can come in for early damage and hold back assorted creatures (EVERYONE seems to be playing black today)
Disrupt: Stop the bleeding from counters, take out their removal, deal with their countermagic. Regardless of wether it works, you end up getting a cantrip.
Lobotomy: Key in on their removal to protect your combo, or on their burn or creatures to protect yourself while you bleed them. If you can get their washout, your combo is set (:

Didn't make the cut:
Jungle Barrier: He's phat and he's card advantage, but he doesn't trigger the Necra properly, he doesn't regenerate and he can't hold back a Spiritmonger. Overall, subpar.
Yawgmoth's Agenda: There seems to be an unwritten rule that one of these should go in every black deck. Why? Beats me. You don't need it.
Vindicate: A great card, but fact is you'll often have nothing usefull to kill. Better to Spring whatever it is and gain a turn.
Fact or Fiction: Too slow, not to mention excessive. This deck doesn't even NEED card advantage.
Hero's Reunion: 7 life is swell, and it fits the curve, but somehow I find this subpar - 7 damage is what a Spiritmonger would deal, give or take, and you can use Chant to stop that AND keep them from casting spells, not to mention it can buy you that extra turn against any nasty sorceries they intend to kill you with.

I tested this deck in a couple of games, and even though I didn't draw the combo as fast as I'd like either time, I won because I was able to hold off their rush with countermagic long enough to steady myself with a Moat (that I searched for with Grove). Then I just sat back and played off what I drew, both times it was enough.

Hope this helps- I don't know if Sterling Sanctuary is a serious IBC threat, but it sure doesn't look bad.

Or Shoham