Making A Seasonal Magic: The Gathering Deck Just In Time For Christmas
Introduction (the boring stuff)
So once again the holiday season is upon us and for many that means spending time with family and loved-ones (sometimes not the same people), reminiscing about the shared memories, and, well.. all that other touchy-feely stuff you get sick of by December 5th. But if you are a Magic player none of this matters because we're a different breed. We spend our holidays doing two things: 1) Waiting for the Holiday Gift Box to be released (and wondering if we should buy it, or put it on our Christmas Lists); and 2) Thinking of new decks we can bring to FMN now that we finally have a few vacation days. My first deck is a take on what I think would be considered the classical, or more obvious themes surrounding this holiday. Then for my next article, I'll make a more sinister Christmas deck that, naturally, focuses on black and on the less savory aspects of the holidays.
I'll go through my thought process on this deck from card selection to deck creation. Examining the obvious sets first--Coldsnap and Ice Age--I was able to pick out quite a few cards that match my vision of what a classical Christmas ought to look like. After that, I went to the internet to find a list of common Christmas-related keywords, picking and choosing ones that I felt would work for this particular deck. With all this in mind, I tried to go for a sort of 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' meets 'Classical Christmas Tropes', such as elves, toys/gifts, Christmas trees, and other various wintry things. This ensured that the deck would stay two things: 1) on topic, and 2) light-hearted and fun to play with.
Classic Christmas Deck
4 Boreal Druid
4 Gang of Elk
1 Great Sable Stag
1 Snow Fortress
4 Into the North
1 The Lady of the Mountain
1 Tuknir Deathlock
4 Utopia Tree
2 Glacial Crevasses
4 Wall of Pine Needles
4 Highland Weald
1 Adventuring Gear
1 Mishra's Factory
12 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Explorer's Scope
8 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Strider Harness
1 Swiftfoot Boots
Why I Chose These Cards
Into the North is just kind of a given since in this deck it's going to be a strictly better version of Rampant Growth, able to tutor up our dual lands. I wish the Boreal Druids were actually named Boreal Elves, but never fear, their creature type is still elf, so they count as our happy little toymakers! Speaking of which, Toymaker is really flavorful, but this deck doesn't have nearly enough ways to make use of it so it had to go.
I wanted reindeer, but in Magic there aren't even deer, so I had to settle for elk. I thought the Gang of Elk did a good job portraying the other reindeer, but I also knew we needed a special one for Rudolph. It was between Great Sable Stag and Dawntreader Elk and, while both are certainly acceptable (the Elk being much cheaper too), I really preferred the Stag's artwork in how it showed the illumination of the forest, much like Rudolph's red nose.
For our very important Christmas Tree, I had a tough time choosing between Utopia Tree or Singing Tree, since both of them feel very Christmasy. I ended up with Utopia Tree because, since they were both such good fits, I felt this card would get more use in the deck itself. I couldn't have come up with a better card to represent Santa's Village than by using Snow Fortress. It's slow, but it has flavor oozing all over itself, so we'll include it.
Since we clearly need a Santa Claus, it was only fitting to include his standard clothing. Unfortunately, there is no 'sack', for presents currently, but the Adventuring Gear does a good imitation. And that paired with the Explorer's Scope really makes you feel like its Santa. The Strider Harness is, of course, to tether the reindeer to Santa's sleigh. Now, Santa generally only wears one pair of boots, but there are three really good choices: Lightning Greaves, Trailblazer's Boots, and Swiftfoot Boots. I went with the Swiftfoot Boots, because they felt just a little more like Santa (having to get to all the houses in a single night!) than the other two. I think I'd have preferred to have the Razortip Whip in my deck than the Bullwhip, but there's no way the real Santa would use a whip like that so I had to settle for the Bullwhip.
Here comes perhaps the most important decision: Who will be our Santa Claus? Magic: The Gathering doesn't have a lot of legendary creatures that feel like Santa, but narrowing it down to Red/Green, as well as knowing we wanted The Lady of the Mountain as our Mrs. Claus helped my decision. As far as Santa goes, he's usually depicted as either a human or an elf, so I figured I'd go with that as well (sorry Xira Arien). I went with Tuknir Deathlock because he's human, can fly, and can pump up your other creatures. Other choices were: Marhault Elsdragon, Jerrard of the Closed Fist, and Livonya Silone. Until WotC comes out with a holiday plane I think Tuknir is who we're stuck with.
So Just How Does This Deck Play?
Well, not very well. But this deck is geared more toward your casual playgroup anyhow and should be played primarily with that in mind. You'll want to try to have a mana elf in your opening hand so you can power out the rest of your creatures that may be a little on the higher-cost. You obviously get extra flavor points if the equipment is attached to Santa(Tuknir), and the Strider Harness is attached to the reindeer.
Next up will be an article about the darker side of Christmas (spooky noises) so make sure to check back for more Magical mirth-making! And if you get the chance to play this deck make sure you tell me how it went in the comments!