Editor’s Note – The title is a reference to the song Right to be Wrong by Joss Stone
This is how all of my latest decks for Standard and Legacy have started. Most of them also have a playset of Delver of Secrets, but the full four copies of both Snapcaster Mage and Grim Lavamancer have been present in pretty much every single list. Like always, as everyone who is part of a team or just often hangs out with the group of players from his local store knows, I e-mailed and discussed some of these lists with my friends and got a somewhat unexpected, yet quite unanimous reply:
– What do you mean?
– Why the hell do you have four copies of two cards that probably have the worst interaction ever? If you’re maxing out on one of them already, then it doesn’t make any sense to have the other…
Why indeed? Isn’t one of the first rules of deckbuilding not to play with cards that interact poorly with each other? Snapcaster Mage and Grim Lavamancer eat up the same resource, the graveyard, so it really makes no sense to have them both in the same deck, and having four copies of each just can’t be right…right?
Well, Adam Prosak seems to disagree!
U/R Delver (Leg) by Adam Prosak, SCG Invitational
U/R Delver (Std) by Kyle Zimmermann, SCG St. Louis
Similarly, Adam chose to play with four copies of Snapcaster Mage and the full four copies of Grim Lavamancer, once again due to the fact that their sheer power exceeds their poor interaction. In the Legacy format, an active Grim Lavamancer nearly invalidates a lot of the aggro strategies (like Merfolk, Goblins or Elves), and Snapcaster Mage is just an incredibly powerful tool with all the cheap card drawing and removal spells available. Such a big amount of cheap spells, along with all the fetchlands, Wastelands and Force of Wills also helps to shorten the negative impact of having the Mage and the Lavamancer both feeding off the graveyard.
The case of Snapcaster Mage and Grim Lavamancer, however, is not the only one in which power triumphs over interaction. Can you guess where power was favoured here?
Illusions (Std) by David Bauer, SCG Invitational
Let’s look at yet another example…what seems wrong with the following list?
Maverick (Leg) by Gerry Thompson, SCG Invitational
Lastly, let’s see what deck was once considered the worst deck ever made in Legacy. There are four cards that seem to interact quite poorly with each other…can you find out which ones?
BUG (Std) by Chris VanMeter, SCG Orlando
The interaction between Tarmogoyf and Tombstalker might look awful at first, since the alternative cost of the Demon will sometimes reduce the power of the Lhurgoyf, but the 5/5 will always be cast in the late game, when the graveyard is usually stocked full of fetchlands, Wastelands, instants and creatures. And let’s not forget, a 5-powered flier for two mana, cast after most removal and counter spells have already been used, is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
In conclusion, let’s not allow our preconceived notions to stifle our deckbuilding and keep in mind that every rule has an exception. Even though they seem not to mix well, sometimes it’s right to play Snapcaster Mage alongside Grim Lavamancer, or Tarmogoyf in a deck that already has Tombstalker. All it takes is a basic understanding of the format, a willingness to look past the obvious interaction and most importantly, being able to play around your own cards.
Thanks for reading,