Erobert here and we’re back again this week with Fires of Creation! Settling more into Purple, and discerning what sorts of strategies emerge from this new card pool, I’m working out a deck in mono Purple. Relying only on Purple’s distinctive features, items and large minions, this deck seeks to make the most of high gem costs and the virtual card advantage of colorless items and temporary mana. Let’s get started!
Virtual Card Advantage
As we have discussed in previous articles, the philosophy of many decks revolves around attrition and efficiency, managing an economy of cards and generating card advantage. The most basic principle of “card advantage” revolves around simple arithmetic. In Mythgard terms, Brainstorm draws two (2) cards and itself leaves your hand as one (1) card meaning you are up one (1) card (2 – 1 = 1). Similarly Thunderclap could be used to mow down three (3) minions with 2 health and, again, only require one (1) card from hand, meaning you are now up two (2) card (3 – 1 = 2). This simple arithmetic, however, becomes far more complex as a variety of uses and expenditures of cards are considered, as seen in Mike Flores’s brilliant primer.
The specific mechanics of Mythgard, however, provide an interesting element of consideration in what to do with cards in hand according to what they can do. In many games, like Magic, cards in hand represent potential, they can do something once you have the resources to play them and may represent a completely squandered opportunity if they are unable to directly affect the game. Cards drawn in Mythgard, on the other hand, are very likely to have a use in any context, as any card in hand can be burned, providing value of some kind even if it can’t live up to its full potential.
Burning a card provides one mana and, in most cases, one gem, but the one-to-one ratio is interestingly represented in the costs of cards. So far, all cards have, at the very most, a one-to-one gem-to-mana ratio in their cost, and for most cards, somewhere south of that. This serves a clear purpose of balancing cards toward and away from easy play in multicolored decks, but an interesting side-effect of this design emerges with the Fires of Creation Path and in colors like Green, Yellow, and especially Purple, with access to extra permanent or temporary mana. Excess mana is only useful with corresponding gems which in multiple colors means seeking out low gem-costs, but a mono-color deck, with their bountiful gems in one color, offers more much more flexibility.
For decks more focused on putting cards on the board and pushing win conditions faster, Mythgard’s burn mechanic presents an interesting balance and challenge, as every card you burn to develop resources is a card you won’t be able to play until you draw it again. As I’ve alluded to in mono-Green, this particular mechanical feature, in which cards in hand are directly and immediately converted into resources, leads us to understand a bit more clearly Mythgard’s notions of “card advantage.” There are many considerations, outlined by Flores above, for what we might consider “virtual” card advantage, and in Mythgard the ability to develop mana without having to burn cards in hand can provide vital lines of play for a variety of deck types.
A Night on the Town
Seeking out reliable engines of temporary mana is, probably appropriately, a challenge unto itself. The mono-Green list made the most of Grinning Kolobok because it can also fit neatly into the aggressive scheme of the deck and could rely on this permanent mana gain over the course of the game. More conditional temporary mana from Yellow—Foul Harvest and Verdant Jungle—is useful for ramping into high-cost card out of sequence. In Purple, Imperative Bell is commonly used as an artifact to fuel Fires of Creation and even sneak in blockers during an opponent’s turn, but for more continuous advantage, I turn to the enchantment Night Market.
Night Market can provide a continuous boost to mana reserves, twice as much as Verdant Jungle, with the condition that it must not simply be occupied, but that its occupant successfully Breach, attacking the opponent directly. For this reason, evasive minions, especially on the low end of the curve are not only desirable but strictly necessary to get the most out of Night Market, and Purple offers a perfect minion in the form of Little Crane Girl. Playing Crane Girl on turn two and Night Market underneath it on turn three gives and additional two mana for playing a variety of follow-ups and at 4 health, Crane Girl has a great opportunity to set up larger plays down the line on turns four through six.
While a variety of colors could be valuable in this scenario, focusing on the ramp elements in Purple requires the deck to burn Purple early and often, and maintaining this focus in the rest of the deck can pay off short-term and long-term. Ensuring that you always have Purple gems available in order that you can drop Little Crane Girl on curve can find synergy with purple one-drops like Simuzen, to heal your Crane Girl or more excitingly, use the 2 temporary mana on turn three to play Re:spawn on Crane Girl. The durability of Crane Girl can be effectively doubled by Re:spawn, a play that will only be possible, if the deck has access to three Purple gems on turn three.
From here, the next step is looking at what kinds of plays become possible, not simply with the virtual card advantage afforded by Night Market, but with the literal ramp which is available on turn four. Purple also offers some serious beasts at high gem costs which will be playable as early as turn four on the ramp, in the case of Celestial Dragon and Lantern Colossus. An explosive play, dropping a potent minion two turns ahead of schedule creates a fast clock and severe problem for opponent’s away from Night Market. While your opponent tangles with a Dragon on the other side of the board, Crane Girl can continue poking through and gaining two temporary mana a turn, keeping more cards in your hand to spend your mana on.
Items similarly fill your hand and can give you the tools to heal your large minions and Crane Girl, buff minions giving them extra attack, Lifetap, Overrun, and all for colorless mana which you can generate with Night Market. Crane Girl itself can get buffs all the way up to Pentacle of Flavors, especially dangerous on an Agile attacker, landing Blast damage on their side of any empty lane opposite them. Terragon delivers an Overrun item and Lantern Colossus’s native Overrun both provide a vicious threat to go over blockers, which in turn can make them useful replacements for Crane Girl, generating mana as they run over chump blockers. Hoarding Hero can similarly fill this role as items accumulate in your hand. The deck ultimately ended up looking like this:
What are You in the Market for?
The deck’s curve provides a healthy set of choices in turns one and two, setting down minions which will either put items in hand, Simuzen and Steam Bun on turn 1 or Sword Saint on turn 2, or Little Crane Girl on turn two. Organizing turn two around Crane Girl, even if Night Market is not yet on in hand, provides the best opportunity to make the most of Little Crane Girl. If a minion has already been set in center, placing Crane Girl one off either side gives some space between minions while also giving Crane Girl access to three lanes opposite, maximizing the possibility of a breach. As mentioned above if you do have the Night Market, the excess mana on turn three can be useful right away, including and especially safeguarding your Crane Girl with Re:spawn.
If your opponent is playing something slower, or you feel like you have easy board position on play, using Steam Bun to draw an extra card can put you that much closer toward a turn three Night Market. Without Night Market, the curve into turn three, though less flashy still leaves open a reasonably wide strategy, keeping lanes clogged with inexpensive minions and returning them to hand with Journey of Souls. Burning up to and beyond five mana leads to all of your larger minions, and especially nets you a certain number of items which can yield an easy 5/5 Hoarding Hero on turns four or five. The most vital beast is Terragon, which comes out on five and gives an Adamant Pearl, providing a buff but most importantly Overrun to any large minion, especially Hoarding Hero.
Turn 4 with six mana and four gems is obviously pretty wide open, and hitting Celestial Dragon then, though far from guaranteed, is a play well worth seeking out. A Lantern Colossus or even Terragon also provides a lot of heft and takes up lots of space on the board. In a pinch, laying down smaller minions, soaking up extra mana by moving attackers into place with Impel, or pumping up minions like Crane Girl to put some pressure on the board can also provide opportunities to capitalize on the excess mana from Night Market.
Items become more and more valuable as the game wears on, and your large durable minions can provide increasingly robust targets for Biting Blade and Adamant Pearl, accumulating bonuses and demanding hard removal. The Lantern Colossus becomes especially useful as its sweeping ability from Immolation Cloak does not have to actually be tethered to the Colossus itself. As armies build up on the other side of the board from Lantern Colossus, you can just as easily set down a minion in the fray and have it blast away and disrupt this side of the board. Longer games will also be Sword Saint’s time to shine as your overrunning beasts will make the most of Lifetap from Biting Blade and ensure that you stay afloat as you race even more dedicated mid-game assaults.
The heaviest hitters, Daigoju Supreme and Perfect Grade can provide a nasty surprise if they are ramped out early onto a less populated board, but even when played later in the game, they take up a great deal of space. The former can blast through almost any blocker, dealing 8 damage and then attacking for 6, and the latter can immediately provide some crowd control and make room for smaller attackers to deal damage. Jin-Sook, Dollmaster provides a fantastic suite of abilities, removing smaller minions or even rearranging the board to bypass blockers entirely! Purple’s most notable weakness is a lack of conventional removal, but the removal it does have access to, Spirited Away, not only removes any lone defender perfectly, no matter how Immortal or Warded, but turns them into a dead draw down the line. The Purple gem-costs on these cards similarly provide no barrier to mono Purple, even if they are played out of sequence with the help of Night Market.
A Harmonious Balance
Mono Purple has some obvious difficulties with Enchantments and the lack of common removal options can make some matchups a slog as you attempt to race through Celestial Dragon attacks to go underneath more dedicated defensive schemes. Finding the right way to manage early turns without your most obvious value engines can be an exercise in frustration. The variety of creative outlets for mana, however, provides lines of play, recurring items and minions up and down the curve, which can flexibly respond to a wide array of situations!
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