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The main problem I see with crucible is tempo.
So typically when the land destruction is relevant we're aiming to play Maralen on turn 3 or 4, either turn 3 after arbiter or turn 4 after mindcensor, if we're on the land disruption plan that means we've played arbiter first, so we have 3 or 4 lands and our opponent hopefully has 2 or 3. We spend 2 of our mana to search each turn and run through a couple of our ghost quarters to keep them locked, at that point our life total as well as theirs are below 10, we have a maximum of three searches left and those usually needs to go towards fetching madcap experiment and maybe a land to cast it, and if we don't need to do that it's because we're ahead in the race and our opponent will die first, and if the difference is minor a bolt to tip the tide is what we can cast with our free land on the same turn we're searching.
In short, I don't see a window to cast crucible in the typical Maralen lockdown scenario. My goal is to lock followed by pressure, if I can locke them 3-4 turns I should have won or established a winning lead, so when I'm land locking 4 GQs are plenty enough in most cases. The situation for my enemy I'm trying to establish in this version is not really "I can't play anything" and more "I don't have time to play for the win because I'm dying first if I do".
I feel like the way to break Maralen is to understand that she's not primarily a control piece or a lock piece in the first place, she's an aggressive clock and a value play to support with more pressure. If we get in 3-6 damage and a search of better quality than our opponent while nulling their draw spells and blanking their gameplan for 1-2 turns that's fine if she dies, it should be enough value for one card to establish a lead or close the game.
December 9, 2018 8:26 p.m.
Thanks for the feedback hungry000. I've playtested both the solemnity/unlife combo and this one. My conclusion is that the madcap is superior because being significantly faster as well as adding pressure to the board to close the game backs up the soft lock version of maralen better.
I'm also toying with the idea of keeping solemnity/unlife in the SB at 3 copies each and just switch them out in matchups where creature and artifact removal is expected game 2.
I've also tested more prison oriented Maralen in esper (silence and shadow of doubt with isochron scepter) and abzan colors (double down on the land hate with assassin's trophy) and in those kind on decks, that aim to get hard locks, the phyrexian + unlife combo is indeed superior.
I like your other suggestions and I'm going to try them out. I agree the hand disruption needs to be 5-6 but I figured Collective brutality acted as number 5 and 6 there. I personally think 4 thoughtseize is fine as we're not losing life from it in the lategame, but I might be wrong. Mana tithe is an interesting suggestion, sounds like it could be great sometimes but also really bad a lot of the time. I'm not sure if crucible of worth it but I'll try it out as I have a set.
Any suggestions what to cut, I'd rather not go down too much in consistency. Off the top of my head I can see cutting maybe 1 maralen for crucible and maybe 1 bitterblossom for sign in blood, but that slot could also go to dark confidant if card advantage is the goal since he keeps drawing under maralen.
December 9, 2018 6:58 p.m.
So I've playtested three versions now.
Esper with isochron scepter, silence and shadow of doubt. Phyrexian unlife + Solemnity combo to complete the lock and let Maralen kill the opponent while we are immune to damage. Also ran Teferi, mage of Zhalfir since he makes a hard lock with isochron silence and allows playing Maralen with flash in the lategame. Worked decently.
Second version was abzan running again Phyrexian + Solemnity, but now with mindcensor and leoinin arbiter to support maralen and with a major focus on attacking lands with ghost quarter and assassin's trophy under arbiter prior to playing Maralen. Birds of paradise for accelleration and chord to play maralen at instant speed. Didn't work that well actually, not quite enough pressure to compound the soft lock, leaving too much time for opponent to get out of the lock before I can close the game. It's also hard to support the necessary creature count to fuel chord reliably.
Last version is Mardu, again with arbiter and mindcensor with some land disruption, but now with a focus on damage pressure to compound Maralen and Madcap experiment into Platinum Emperion to break parity with the lifeloss. This is the one that works best in online testing by far, approaching something almost competitive, it's been working so well in fact that I've put the deck up here:
4 VIEWS | IN 1 FOLDER
and will probably keep working on it.
I realise what I ended up with is a very different kind of deck from what you're trying to do here, but it was the one I got to win the most and also had most fun playing.
I personally feel like the orb lock is just giving up on Maralen's biggest strength, which is the unconditional tutoring effect, and I think any success in making her modern playable is going to center around abusing the tutoring rather than creating a hard lock.
December 9, 2018 5:38 p.m.
Here's another one that could be funny. Maralen + orb + blood clock, you pick up the orb in your upkeep, search the card in your draw step and then replay the orb. Or you could pick up Maralen, draw the card and replay her.
Also Experimental Frenzy is a new card that allows playing the top card in your library, for one mana less than magus, may be worth looking at.
December 7, 2018 4:32 p.m.
Another possibility would be to use something like an Isochron Scepter deck with silence and Shadow of doubt instead of mindlock orb, for a one sided lock.
Too bad Stranglehold isn't modern legal.
December 7, 2018 11:24 a.m.
What I'm thinking above is that you'd use an entirely different concept for the deck, an abzan creature toolbox/valuetown shell with things like Scavenging Ooze, Tireless Tracker, seige rhino, mana dorks and so on and then Maralen + the orb would be 1 offs that you play using the chord mid to late game once you have the board advantage and locking down any further draws is beneficial to you.
It's a downside that you can't use chord once Maral is in play, and also it's awkward if you draw her to your hand, but I still thinks it'a interesting idea.
Another idea would be to combine her with madcap experiment + platimnum empyrion combo to avoid the lifeloss and maybe a playset of Dark Confidant as well. That would have to be without the orb though as you'd madcap into the orb and kill yourself.
For the control deck style you're making here I'd like to see search for Azcanta as it gets around the orb.
December 7, 2018 11:16 a.m.
I think 4x Chord of calling in a deck with 1 Maralen + 1 orb would be interesting, you put maralen into play at the end of their turn, then fetch and play the orb to put the lock down. Could be put in a GW creature toolbox shell as a more controlling alternative to the more aggressive combos.
December 7, 2018 8:19 a.m.
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