Hello fellow gamers, its Josh (also known as Parabolian) back with another three brews for the upcoming Brother’s War Release. Today, we are going for broke by trying to make the three pairs of cards featuring the meld mechanic work. Meld is not exactly new; it first debuted on the plane of Innistrad in the Eldritch Moon set. Though some might argue it was even earlier in the Unglued set with the infamous B.F.M. (BIG FURRY MONSTER) (this thing is so big it has a Phyrexian Dreadnought as an earring)!
I was taking a little break from Magic back then so I don’t recall if meld was viewed as an effective strategy. That certainly won’t hold us back from trying it now. In case you missed it, the idea behind meld is that you must meet certain conditions, generally around having the two meld cards available, plus something else (we will go into the details on each). Once this occurs, you get to combine two cards into something ridiculously strong- kind of like the Power Rangers, Captain Planet, or Voltron, you get the idea.
Many good Magic players will tell you, that when you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get something to line up, it’s generally not worth doing. You’d be better off just running good cards that work in any situation. The concept of evaluating a card in the context of the game state is sometimes referred to the ceiling and the floor. The ceiling being the best-case scenario when you cast a card, the floor being the absolute worst-case scenario. In essence, good decks tend to have cards that have a good floor even if the ceiling may not be as high as something else.
That is not to say that cards that are only contextually good should always be shunned. Some of the best combos in magic history feature cards that are necessarily great without other enablers (Splinter Twin / Deceiver Exarch, Tainted Pact / Thassa's Oracle). However, if you are relying on combo pieces (which by nature meld cards must), it’s always best to have redundancy whether by digging for those pieces, recurring them, or having other cards that fill the same role. All of this advice is sage and often true.
Sadly, with meld cards, redundancy is not exactly an option. For each partition of the meld card, we can have a maximum of four copies. Meaning that through the course of the game, in a 60-card deck, those two sets of four have to meet up and join hands. That certainly sounds daunting, but we have one saving grace here. These new meld cards in and of themselves are not actually terrible. In other words, are floor is not so bad. Each of our decks has a Plan A and a Plan B in all cases the Plan A is to find and activate the meld. Plan B is deck dependent. We have three styles of deck here, one is aggressive, one is more midrange and one is controlling.
Titania Meld Midrange
Let’s start with the midrange deck featuring Titania, Voice of Gaea Here is the list I am thinking of trying.
I am sure the numbers are not 100 percent correct. Though testing will tell us the truth.
This is inspired somewhat on the Slogurk, the Overslime lists popularized by streamer CGB. This slime can quickly grow to epic proportions when lands hit the graveyard, such as the Channel lands.
In addition, we are packing 6 copies of the fetch lands from Streets of New Capenna.
Luckily, Titania, Voice of Gaea and Slogurk, the Overslime have simpatico goals of putting as many lands as possible into the graveyard. To enable Titania, Gaea Incarnate, we need to have four lands in the graveyard, and in play a Titania, Voice of Gaea and one Argoth, Sanctum of Nature. The good news here is that one of our combo pieces is a land, making it pretty safe from removal. The bad news is that we must wait until the beginning of our upkeep to trigger the meld ability, which is an uncomfortable amount of time to give your opponent to respond by removing Titania, Voice of Gaea
As mentioned earlier, we have the benefit of a card that has a good floor. Worst case scenario Titania, Voice of Gaea is a decent card on its own. It is quite good at blunting the aggression of faster decks by providing a big body for only three mana; plus it has a good amount of life gain from its passive ability. Argoth, Sanctum of Nature is not a bad land either. It’s not legendary, so there is no drawback to having four of them, and the ability to generate bear tokens is fine when you having nothing else to do with your mana.
The other part of this deck revolves around having a package of efficient, instant-speed disruption and enablers. Including old standbys like Infernal Grasp, Cut Down, and welcomed reprint, Go for the Throat. With this package, we are going to take advantage of a saga Introduced in Dominaria United: Founding the Third Path. This two-drop enchantment has already seen some play in older formats like Historic, and I feel like its stronger than many anticipated upon first glance. All three chapters are highly relevant for us. First, we get to cast one of our disruption spells for free, then we get to mill 4 cards (hopefully many of which are lands to power-up Titania, Voice of Gaea and Slogurk, the Overslime), finally, we then get to recast a that very same disruption from our graveyard.
We also feature several redundant loops here, we have two copies of Shigeki, Jukai Visionary, one copy of Devious Cover-Up and two copies of Urborg Repossession, together these can help us recycle our combo pieces and make sure we also have things to do with our mana.
Obviously, our goal here is to assemble Titania, Gaea Incarnate, but barring that Slogurk, the Overslime can also take over the game. This list is pretty graveyard dependent, but having access to Boseiju, Who Endures can help deal with many graveyard punishing cards like Unlicensed Hearse
Urza Meld Domain Control
All right, let’s take a gander at the next list. This features a classic control shell with a domain twist.
Here, our plan is of course to stall, and delay our opponent as long as possible so that we can combine Urza, Lord Protector with The Mightstone and Weakstone to form one of the most powerful planeswalkers ever printed.
Urza, Planeswalker features seven loyalty and has the ability to trigger loyalty abilities twice a turn. Some of the abilities are quite powerful such as being able to exile a non-land permanent, or create a bunch of 1/1 blockers. The ultimate, which could be triggered the second turn its in play, is basically a one-sided Devastating Mastery. Of course, the barrier to entry is not cheap. We have to have seven mana available plus a creature who is vulnerable to removal. The good news is the creature has a fairly nice passive ability that gives discounts to instants (as well as artifacts and sorceries) which could be used to protect this artificer. Also, The Mightstone and Weakstone has a flexible enter the battlefield ability of either removing a creature or drawing cards. This stone also enables ramping, including the very same activation of Urza’s meld ability. It is interesting how the two cards synergize on curve. You could easily cast turn three Urza, Lord Protector into turn four The Mightstone and Weakstone (thanks to the discount of Urza, Lord Protector). With this stone in play, you could activate its meld ability as soon as turn 5.
As far as the rest of the deck. I am not sure if the Domain shell is correct here, but I have been having a lot of success with it recently. First of all, now that The Meathook Massacre is defunct, I believe that Drag to the Bottom is the best sweeper in standard. Granted there is a strong case for Farewell, but at six mana, sometimes opponents will not let you live to reap the benefits of this sweeper that you could have used two turns earlier. Also, Leyline Binding is about the best thing you can do for one mana.
Like our Sultai midrange deck, we will feature a clutch of spot removal and disruption. I am excited to see how Go for the Throat changes the format. I wonder if it will have the same impact as Vanishing Verse and Heartless Act before it? Will we see an uptick in artifact creature-based aggression? The Brother’s War certainly provided us with some interesting new artifact creatures to consider.
To round things out we are trying out a few cards to see how they play. Stenn, Paranoid Partisan can make a rough impersonation of Urza, Lord Protector and will help us accelerate our planeswalkers and artifacts. Speaking of artifacts, we also have a Timeless Lotus and The Celestus (alongside Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset plenty of things to untap.
I am also keen to see how Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim will play out – this planeswalker is not the centerpiece of the deck, but we can certainly draw cards to rapidly increase its loyalty between our copies Reckoner Bankbuster, The Mightstone and Weakstone triggers, and even activations from Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh.
Another form of card advantage will come from Hurkyl, Master Wizard, who has a nice stat line for the cost, but can also draw us a lot of extra cards if left unchecked as are deck is mainly non-creature spells. It has felt hard to play true control decks at the moment, but perhaps things will shift in its favor with the injection of cards in Brother’s War.
Mishra Meld Aggro
Ok lets breakdown our last list of the day. We have an aggro deck that features Mishra and his pet dragon engine. Here is the 60.
As you can see, we are here to turn cardboard sideways. Many of our creatures have haste and eight of those creatures can impart haste to other creatures.
However, the idea is to get the Phyrexian Dragon Engine and Mishra, Claimed by Gix in play and attempt to attack with them immediately. Thus, being able attach this equipment to them could come in handy. Not to mention the Phyrexian Dragon Engine certainly benefits from any form of buffs to enhance its double strike ability. Both these meld cards are another example of cards with good floors as both of them is pretty respectable on their own. Double strike is a heck of a key word, just ask Embercleave. We also hope to take advantage of the life drain ability of Mishra, Claimed by Gix by running 28 creatures, Squee, Dubious Monarch, in particular, can help you go wide and rack up that extra damage. I am sure many will be caught off guard how quickly this life drain ability racks up damage. It can also help you push through the last few bits of damage in a stalled board state.
In our two-drop slot, we have new comer Razorlash Transmogrant who will compete for space with Tenacious Underdog, but has the potential to grow quite large if our opponent is running non-basics. Spoiler, most opponents these days run plenty of non-basics. Also, in our two-drop slot, we have four pieces of removal (a 2/2 split between Infernal Grasp and Go for the Throat) to deal with pesky road blocks like Sheoldred, The Apocalypse.
I am also very excited to try out Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor. We might even find that four copies of this card are correct. It is no surprise that this praetor synergizes quite well with Mishra and the go-wide strategy in general. Its written awkwardly, but Gix triggers for each creature that deals combat damage much like Toski, Bearer of Secrets. Since we are a relatively low curve deck that will deploy its hand quickly, this will help us refill our grip to continue the aggression. It is also nice that it’s a “may” ability as there will certainly be times that you are in a tight race and cannot afford to take the extra damage for the card draw, but it’s beautiful how Mishra, Claimed by Gix can offset this life loss, and since this artificer’s ability goes on the stack during the attack phase, you will have that extra cushion to draw cards with the Praetor during the damage phase later.
Of the three decks this one may have the most cohesive plan B. We are going to come out of the gates at a blistering speed. We have several forms of sustain. If and when Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia does show up, it will likely be to deliver the coup de grâce to our opponent.
I feel like Mishra, Claimed by Gix and Dragon Engine are the two best cards independent of the ability to meld. On the other hand, they are the most likely to be pigeonholed into a linear, aggro deck. For many who relish in that unchecked aggression, that will be just fine.
Titania, Voice of Gaea and Argoth, Sanctum of Nature are interesting to me. They could fit into several different shells. Titania, Voice of Gaea seems like a very fine anti-aggro card since it can help you gain a lot of life. Sadly, it’s not a card you can throw into any sideboard since it needs the support of things like fetch lands to really gain you value. However, Argoth, Sanctum of Nature is the kind of card you could play in any deck that runs green. It is certainly reminiscent of Castle Ardenvale which definitely saw play. However, the sorcery speed nature of the ability is a huge impediment, the best part of Castle Ardenvale was the ability to hold up instant speed interaction and generate a token on your opponents end step if they declined to make a play.
In any case, it will be fun to live the dream and meld any of these three cards which are certain to end the game in the hurry if left unchecked. Thanks for reading, have fun and enjoy!