I’ve been reading Patrick Chapin’s Next Level Deckbuilding. A lot of what’s being discussed is more or less familiar to me, often from my own experience or just from me being mathematically inclined. But this was an excellent alternative viewpoint to certain aspects of deckbuilding. Namely creature selection. I don’t know if this was Chapin’s own idea or did he get this from somewhere else, but its a beautiful idea.
Beautiful as in simple and elegant, but extremely useful. Quick search says that apparently this has been somewhat adopted by others, maybe this was a big thing at some point, but I’ve just missed due to my prolonged absence from the game.
The idea is that we put creatures into categories, namely Baneslayer (after [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card]), [card]Mulldrifter[/card] and Titan (after the M11 and M12 Titans, [card]Sun Titan[/card], [card]Frost Titan[/card], [card]Grave Titan[/card], [card]Inferno Titan[/card] and [card]Primeval Titan[/card]). Baneslayers are cards that you put into your deck for the value you get when they are on the battlefield. Mulldrifters are creature you have in your deck that have some spell-like effect when they enter the battlefield and Titans do both.
Examples of Baneslayers: [card]Arcanis the Omnipotent[/card], [card]It That Betrays[/card], [card]Blood Artist[/card]
Examples of Mulldrifters: [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], [card]Pilgrim’s Eye[/card], [card]Flickerwisp[/card]
Examples of Titans: the big three Eldrazi, the Gatecrash Primordials, because they have a definite board presence even after their initial ETB-effect.
What’s the point of this categorization?
Opponents aren’t necessarily interested in killing Mulldrifters. They have done their job and now all that remains is generally a body, which you might have to kill eventually, but they aren’t exactly racing with a Pilgrim’s Eye (obviously, Snapcaster Mages have been used to win plenty of games, but they are not that interesting target for removal). Therefore, if your deck consists primarily of Mulldrifters, adding Baneslayers is a bad idea, as its making your opponents removal better. Adding a few Mulldrifters to a deck of Baneslayers, on the other hand, does not do anything for your opponent.
Think about it. If you have say 30 Baneslayers in your deck, your opponents removal will have plenty of targets and you will lose at least some of those to all kinds of removal. On the other hand, if you have 30 Mulldrifters (which would probably make it an EDH deck), yes some of them will be targeted by removal, but that removal is pretty weak as you have already had your value, but if you add a few Baneslayers, that removal will regain its value at least partly.