I’ll have some updates on my BW Control list and how it has performed lately in a post sometime this week, but first we need to talk about something important. In just under two weeks FNM will occur on Friday the 13th. I think it is critically important to play a Triskaidekaphobia-based deck on that night. This post will address my “all in on flavor” attempt at a decklist. Read on if you’re brave enough (and don’t actually suffer from Triskaidekaphobia).
So when I say “all in on flavor” I very much mean it. I decided that if I’m going to play a ridiculous deck for this FNM we’re going to just go for it (a friend also recently pointed out that my goal for this FNM should be to go 1-3 for the ultimate flavor victory). With that in mind, I decided that (other than Triskaidekaphobia and basic lands) I would only play cards with 13 letters (obviously not counting spaces or apostrophes) in their name. It turns out there was no easy reference for finding cards that met this criteria online (Gatherer and the api and JSON sites don’t let you search cards by name length) so I had to create my own.
After setting up a database of standard legal cards (which contains 1,314 entries – with double-faced cards and re-prints adding to that number), I wrote a quick python script to search out only cards with 13 letters in their name. It turns out that there are 160 entries that fit this criteria – but would we be able to put together a real list with these? I’m still not sure and I haven’t yet tested my list but I’ll describe some of the highlights. Every card I mention as a consideration in deck building has 13 letters in it’s name.
Before I started building I knew that any of the five colors could potentially be useful. Maybe Green for things like Pulse of Murasa for the instant-speed life change and Jaddi Offshoot for early protection, or Blue for a hilarious additional win-con through Startled Awake or Thing in the Ice, or Red for Radiant Flames. White was actually eliminated fairly early as none of the relevant life link or life gain spells have thirteen letters in their name.
Red also felt like a mostly easy cut as the spells I would really want to run (direct burn) also don’t fit the 13-letter criteria. So I’m down to Sultai colors and I’ve not tested any Sultai decks so I’m feeling unsure about the mana base. I do some googling and find a few lists like this one by Frank Lepore that I think I can borrow from to figure out my land situation. Unfortunately, almost none of the fixing (outside of Yavimaya Coast, Choked Estuary, and Evolving Wilds) have 13 letters in their name so this seems iffy. I wish I could justify going Esper because Shambling Vent, Caves of Koilos, and Prairie Stream would all be available. This is enough that I take a second look at white to see what we’ve got.
In the end I find 72 cards (of all types, but limited to lands, colorless cards, and Esper colors [UBW]) that I would consider playing. There are more that fit my 13-letter criteria and fall into Esper colors but they are so bad that I would never run them. Even about 1/3 to 1/2 of my 72 cards that I’m considering are just laughable and would never see constructed play under normal circumstances. It actually turns out that I might be able to justify Esper over plain UB simply because of Tandem Tactics (instant-speed life gain in case I’m at 13) as well as Ondu War Cleric (potential instant-speed life gain if I can find enough other Allies that fit in the deck). White also offers Kitesail Scout which, while absurd, offers a somewhat reliable way to ping for 1 damage if my opponent is close to 13. I doubt that makes the cut, but you never know. Running White also gives me a little more value from my Caves of Koilos (which I want to run because pain lands can also help me avoid losing to my own Triskaidekaphobia).
The other theme that started creeping up as I looked through my card options was a colorless Eldrazi theme. My 13-letter restriction allows for Hedron Crawler, Hedron Archive, Bane of Bala Ged, Oblivion Sower, and Conduit of Ruin to all fit into the deck. I’m still not sure if that set of cards are justified to include since then I’d basically be playing really-bad-ramp + Triskaidekaphobi but it’s there if I end up desperate.
I also notice that I’m pretty light on removal. I have access to Thing in the Ice to bounce things (maybe, eventually) and block early aggro, Blinding Drone to maybe tap things (not sure how much colorless I’ll have), Bone Splinters, Coat with Venom for pseudo-removal, Divine Verdict, Drowner of Hope for tapping, Grip of the Roil for tapping, Icefall Regent for tapping, Illusory Gains for pseudo-removal, Isolation Zone, Mirror Mockery for potential shenanigans, Ojutai’s Breath for tapping, Reflector Mage for bouncing, Roiling Waters for bouncing, and Ultimate Price.
I’m also very light on counter spells despite being in blue. I believe the only counters available to me are through Deny Existence (specific to creatures) and flipping a morphed Stratus Dancer (specific to instant and sorcery spells). This means I have no way to stop Planeswalkers from hitting the field and (unless I end up heavier on creatures than I expect) I also can’t do much to them once they’re down.
I actually need to wrap this post up for now as I’ve got work to get done tonight, but that’s where I’m at currently with my very flavorful look at a Triskaidekaphobia deck. I’m hoping to complete the list later tonight so hopefully I can post the full list tomorrow.