Weekly Random Brew #3: Waterknot
In this series, I discuss the deckbuilding process while building casual 60-card decklists based on cards chosen by Scryfall's Random Card function. This is intended as a creative exercise, to give new players a sense of how deckbuilding works while giving more experienced players examples of the kinds of brewing challenges they might encounter in Limited formats. The decks in this series will not be optimized for competitive play, especially when the random seed is not an especially powerful card. My goal is to use the properties of those seeds to make interesting decks.
Today's seed is the Core Set 2019 printing of Waterknot.
Here are some features of Waterknot that might be useful in building a deck around it.
- Its cost includes two blue mana, so whatever deck I put it in will have to be heavy on blue.
- It's an enchantment, so I might consider making an enchantments matter deck.
- It's a common, which means I can build a Pauper deck.
- It's about to rotate out of Standard, and it was first printed in Ixalan block, a deckbuilding environment I'm very fond of.
I'm going to start by rebuilding one of my favorite decks from Rivals of Ixalan Standard, the green/blue Merfolk tribal deck, and updating it for the Standard season that's about to end with the release of Throne of Eldraine.
When Waterknot was first printed in Rivals of Ixalan, it was associated with the Merfolk tribe from that block. I'm going to pull most of my creatures from Ixalan block, and focus on Merfolk whose abilities make other Merfolk better. I'm also going to include some evasive staples like the unblockable Mist-Cloaked Herald and War of the Spark's flying Merfolk Skydiver.
One of the things I notice as I build this deck is that Ixalan's merfolk like to put +1/+1 counters on each other, so as I branch out of Ixalan block I'm also looking at Simic cards from Ravnica Allegiance and cards from War of the Spark's Proliferate theme. The creatures I'm most excited about including are the ones that give special benefits to creatures with +1/+1 counters, like Herald of Secret Streams, which makes them unblockable, and Zegana, Utopian Speaker, which gives them trample.
Choosing Noncreature Spells
In addition to adding creatures to my deck that care about counters, I'm looking for noncreature spells that care about counters. Stony Strength will make me less cautious about attacking, since it untaps an attacker and allows it to block next turn. Courage in Crisis gives me even more counters, though I may decide to switch in Contentious Plan if I find myself running out of options too consistently. Hadana's Climb is a counters-matter spell I loved including in the Ixalan block Merfolk deck, and Simic Ascendancy is in there as a fun alternate win condition that this deck might actually pull off.
When Standard rotates this week, we'll be losing all of my favorite two-color lands—the ones that can enter the battlefield untapped if you have the right basic lands in play. I'm going to miss Hinterland Harbor. Breeding Pool is also a useful option—this is shaping up to be an aggressive deck, so paying life to untap it is less of a hardship if it lets you cast Herald of Secret Streams on curve. I'm also considering adding a couple of Memorial to Genius and Memorial to Unity, but those are only really useful if this deck turns out to be slower than I expect, so I'll leave them out for now.
And there we have it: a new version of one of my old favorite Standard decks.
4Herald of Secret Streams
2Zegana, Utopian Speaker
2Courage in Crisis
Another Option: Enchantments Matter
Waterknot turned out not to be a very big piece of the Merfolk deck. While removal is important, it wasn't really the focus. I'm going to see if it can play a bigger role in another archetype it fits into well: enchantment-based control. I'll limit the card pool to Standard again to keep it from getting overwhelming, since Core Set 2019, the set this printing of Waterknot is from, had an enchantments-matter theme.
Most of the creatures in this deck have abilities that make casting enchantments easier and better: Starfield Mystic makes them cheaper to cast, Sumala Woodshaper lets you find them more easily, and Satyr Enchanter lets you cast them without losing card advantage. I'm also including Shalai, Voice of Plenty as both an evasive threat and a way to give your creatures hexproof, which will make it safer to enchant them with Auras.
The noncreature spells are mostly enchantments that slow your opponents down, like Shaper's Sanctuary, which discourages them from targeting your creatures if you don't have Shalai out yet, and Curious Obsession, which discourages them from blocking. I'm also including Teferi, Time Raveler to get back any enchantments that get destroyed, and Leyline of Anticipation to turn all your enchantments into combat tricks. Deep Freeze and Waterknot round out the list as removal.
For lands, I'm going to keep relying on the check lands that are about to leave Standard, since I've got spells in all three of my colors that I want to always be able to cast.
Let us know what other decklists you come up with for this seed, or if there's a card you want us to try building around. Happy brewing!