Weekly Random Brew #8: Royal Herbalist
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 Royal Herbalist.
Royal Herbalist is a common white creature that was only ever printed in Alliances. It's a 1/1 that costs a single white mana, suggesting an aggressive "white weenie" deck. It also has an activated ability that lets you exile cards from the top of your library in order to gain life, making it possible to build a life gain deck around it as long as you're okay with exiling those cards.
I'm going to start by building a deck around a card feature I haven't considered yet in this series: the art. Royal Herbalist has two printings with different art, both drawn by Douglas Shuler. Shuler has done art for 121 cards, which is a large enough pool to make interesting choices in, but not large enough to be overwhelming. He's even done art for all five basic lands, so we can make this a proper Artist Constructed deck.
Shuler's art is on 13 creatures, all of which have CMC 5 or less, so most of them will be good candidates for a wide white deck. I'll avoid using cards that are at their best when interacting with specific colors, like Juniper Order Advocate and Northern Paladin, as well as cards with slow abilities like Wall of Swords's defender. My top end is perennial favorite Serra Angel in its 4th Edition printing.
Choosing Noncreature Spells
For this deck, I'm going to focus on spells that affect combat math, like Valorous Charge and Shield Wall. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that Shuler did the art for Reparations, because it's a card I really want to be able to include in something, but I don't think it's very helpful in my deck. Its ability only triggers when I or my creatures become the target of spells, and I expect this deck's opponents to be using non-targeted removal (like boardwipes) against it.
In Artist Constructed, the lands in a deck have to have art by the same person as the spells. The only land producing white mana that has art by Douglas Shuler is Plains, specifically the Plains from Starter 99. So that's what all the lands in this deck have to be. (Well, I could include Island of Wak-Wak, but I'd rather not because it doesn't produce mana and I don't think I'm likely to find myself using its ability.)
Another Option: Ice Age Block Constructed
I was considering building a deck using only cards from Alliances, but it's a small set, and the last time I built a deck using only cards from a small set, it didn't go so well. So I'm going to expand my horizons a little and build a wide white deck using cards from all of Ice Age block—Ice Age, Alliances, and Cold Snap.
And because this is a series about being creative, I'm going to try to build a deck around a mechanic that I would not use were I not writing about being creative: banding, an old way of redistributing damage among creatures that attack and block as a unit.
This deck has a couple of spells with snow costs, so I'm going to use Snow-Covered Plains instead of regular Plains to make sure I can pay for them.
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!