I use the following ten parameters to determine the strength of the deck. For each, I allocate a score of 5 (very good), 4 (good), 3 (mediocre), 2 (bad) or 1 (very bad); when totalized this score represents the power rating of the deck (maximum score is 50 points).
- Mana: indicates the availability of mana sources within the deck.
- Ramp: indicates the speed at which mana sources within the deck can be made available.
- Card Advantage: indicates availability of filter- and draw resources represented within the deck.
- Overall speed: indicates the deck’s potential for pace, based on resource availability and mana curve.
- Combo: indicates the measure of combo-orientation of the deck.
- Army: indicates the deck’s creature-army strength.
- Commander: indicates how much the deck is commander-oriented/dependent (less dependency is better).
- Interaction: indicates how much this deck can mess with opponents’ board states and turn-phases.
- Resilience: indicates whether the deck can prevent and take punches.
- Spellpower: indicates the availability and strength of high-impact spells.
The average CMC of this deck is not high, so I felt comfortable to not overdo it with the available mana resources. I added six mana rocks (one of which is specifically meant to cast Sheoldred) and a one-off mana boost spell, along with two creatures that help me to generate more mana per land and one artifact that cheapens the casting of black spells.
I’ve included a single ramping opportunity.
Card Advantage: 5
A lot of this deck’s power depends on my ability to draw, as well as my oppositions’ propensity to draw. Obviously, I want my opponents to draw a bit more than they might want to themselves, as this plays to Sheoldred’s main strength. Therefore, I’ve included ten structural forced-draw permanents, as well as three wheel-like effects. I’ve also added three direct-draw options that only affect me, as well as two cheap-to-cast tutors, two top-decking enablers and three options to steal cards from opponents.
Overall speed: 4
The deck contains a lot of card-advantage opportunity. When combined with low overall CMC of the included cards, as well as an average amount of additional mana resources available, this translates to a deck with above-average speed. This is very important, as I’m on a clock to not allow for the opposition to use the additional draw I provide against me.
I wanted this deck to contain a few interesting combos, so I’ve included a few that feature life-gain/pinging; a number of times combined with the forced drawing of cards.
Creatures within this deck feature a mix of utility purposes (like nasty pinging) combined with some really strong combative power. Some of the monsters even feature both strengths. The deck also includes ways to increase its army’s size by stealing opposing creatures.
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is one of the strongest black creatures I have ever come across. Her abilities tie in perfectly to something that black is already very good at: punishing (opposing) draw. So though her abilities are tremendous, a lot of redundancy can be found within black to perform a similar function. Many of these have been included in the deck; her presence on the battlefield is equal to the cherry on top of the sundae. However, I would really like to use her often, so to make this a bit more of a certainty, I’ve included protective gear for her.
Ow, the things this deck can make my opponents do. The most important interaction provided, are forced draws (fourteen cards) and forced discards (four cards) and making them lose life over that both in their turns and during mine. Then there’s a whole bunch of removal options, some in the form of stealing stuff, against creatures (ten cards) and some other permanents (two cards).
Aside from Sheoldred, I’ve included a number of easy ways that allow me to recoup lost lifepoints (eight options). Also, I wanted to make sure Sheoldred is not waxed the moment she enters the field, so I included an option that prevents players from countering her summoning, as well as artifact equipment (six cards) that gave her abilities like hexproof and indestructible.
This deck focuses very much on both high-impact permanents as well as temporary spells. They can be divided into several sub-categories; ten cards within the ‘ping’ (+side effects in some cases) category, three cards within the ‘lifegain’ category, eight cards within the forced draw and wheel category and two spells in miscellaneous.
Total power score: 37
This deck is one of the most powerful single-color decks I own. Its resources are ample, its strategy is easy to follow and the cards I need for a win aren’t hard to find. Its commander is excessively powerful and synergizes extremely well with almost any card in this deck. It has enough, easily-accessible resources, amazing life-gain and damage-dealing capabilities and a plethora of high-impact permanents and spells to choose from when playing.