This is another of my pet deck projects on Arena I'm working on. The second prototype after the first one was working but not in actual games. Had to rework the fundamental approach. So, here goes:
The idea is a combo victory using Halo Fountain's last activated ability. The way to get there is to animate it into a creature (using Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh or Majestic Metamorphosis for now), so that it can both tap and untap itself for its activations. And have a mana dork on the field, that taps for 3+ mana. In this deck, this is Kami of Whispered Hopes, which gets to 3+ power by either being equipped with a boosted Lion Sash, or more likely a Mindlink Mech copying one. The later allows me to keep the fragile Kami in reserve in my hand until I'm ready to pop off as I can have the Mech on the field earlier and thus not be affected by summoning sickness anymore. The Fountain can now draw cards and generate mana at the same time, until I can simply put out the nessessary creatures to activate the "you win" ability. The last piece of the puzzle is a vehicle to tap those tokens (has to be an uncrewed Mindlink Mech or the lonely Hoverbike, which the Fountain can draw me into while setting up). The singleton High-Speed Hoverbike is a test to maybe go off with the combo at instant speed, if my opponent unsuspectingly taps out with the other pieces on the field. Not sure if I need to accomodate for that. As I said, a test. The rest of the cards are my attempt at preparing for the meta, that definitely needs work, though. But at least I got some answers for nasty stuff. Probably need some sweepers to deal with aggressive swarms, though, like monored aggro and soldiers, maybe Depopulate? Mana base is also not yet fixed. Tried to increase the artifact count a bit for Tezzeret, hence the inclusion of the Sentries.
As for suggestions, fire away, I got wildcards en masse, and my Standard collection is rather complete already anyway. Any and all cards can be included if I deem them worthy inclusions. Keep in mind, that I'm not aiming for a highly competitive mythic tier deck. Unfortunately, lazy copycat grinders bring those into the Casual play queue way to often, so I have to at least be able to put up a fight.
Fielded the deck today for quite a number of games, and one thing I can say about it already is, that playing it is EXHAUSTING. This is not something to play for your Arena dailies. Other than that, I didn't find anything too out of place, except for the Hoverbike, so I included the 4th Mindlink Mech instead. (And I have no idea why those were missing in the deck list above, but edited them in now.) I also feel like there are too many 3-cost cards, and maybe not enough 2-cost ones. The land base seems fine for now. Definitely not at its peek yet, but I won more games than I expected, probably because no one expected the combo. I did get to pull it off quite often, but other than the first guy with his Etali deck, no one stayed around for the finishing Fountain activation. The others conceded as soon as they saw, where the game was headed.
Some games I won in a different manner, like with a 20/20 flying angelic Lion Sash, which started my turn as an unthreatening 1/1 facing a large horde of big green critters by itself. But two Mindlink Mechs copying a newly played Kami (one Mech crewing the other), exiling all 4 permanent cards in both graveyards, and a final Majestic Metamorphosis, let it soar right into my opponent's unscarred face. The Lion Sash also essentially singlehandedly destroyed a blue Haughty Djinn tempo deck, only because I got it into play early and it ate away all those precious intstants and sorceries in the graveyard. Still way too close a game, as I was at 9 poison from Mirrex mites.
Overall, my opponents mostly weren't the high end ladder decks I feared I would be facing. Though maybe that was just the time of day and/or day of the week, who knows.
In my first prototype, I had Ossification instead of Seal from Existence, but I was facing too many things that it could not remove. It's a powerful removal, to be sure, but I'm short on card slots and cannot add stuff that deals with whatever Ossification doesn't hit. So I opted for a more general removal in this second attempt.
Adding a counterspell was and is on my mind, but I suck when it comes to adding counterspells to any deck. I can play them just fine when they are in a deck, but adding them is the one part of deckbuilding that I somehow can never wrap my head around. I have a too proactive and constructive mind, and counterspells are the epitome of being reactive.
Got to experience a nice little quirk in the deck, today, which I wasn't even aware was possible until prompted by Arena (though in hindsight, it makes sense ruleswise): If the Fountain is animated, you can actually activate it, when it's tapped! Because you can untap it as part of the activation cost, you can do that first, then tap it afterwards for the same activation. That's cool!
And it has the potential to let me to pull the combo off a turn earlier or with less land. It did so today. With only 4 lands, I played the Kami with the Fountain and Mech on the field, then could use the Kami to crew the Mech and gain the mana to play Tezzeret, and use the last available white to untap the Kami-Mech with the Fountain for a token. Animated the Fountain, and the combo was completely set up, despite the Fountain being tapped. Opponent even stayed till the end.
Having been utterly demolished in the Standard play queue (is no one playing a casual deck there anymore?), I ventured into the Explorer play queue, where the deck did fare better actually, especially with a full set of Depopulates. Still, the pieces are too fragile (the 1/1 Kami is a lighning rod and easily removed). I also essentialy need 4 pieces for the combo, and getting all 4 online is a rare occasion.
However, in Explorer I can take a different approach to the mana dork. Instead of the fragile Kami, I can use Accomplished Alchemist with its 5 toughness body to generate the mana for the win. But that also means, I have to have life gain ready, when I want to go off. Serra Paragon and the fetchlands, as well as the Samurai do not provide enough. And that's where the new Eldraine card Tough Cookie may take center stage, because with that, I only need to assemble 3 pieces. And I can even get rid of blue entirely for more consistent mana. So I put together a prototype, and stumbled over another green card I totally dismissed and forgot about, that can take the place of the Cookie for now. Or even complement it if nessessary. The card is a little guy named Alloy Animist from BRO. And the deck works! But as always, little tweaks will have to happen for a long time. Anyway, here's the Explorer w/g prototype version. Suggestions, comentaries, and such are welcome.
Made a few adjustments. For starters, I replaced the Imperial Recovery Unit with Unlicensed Hearse, because I hardly ever attacked with it, and if I don't do that, I might as well have a vehicle that gives me some utility, like graveyard hate, and it can even provide for the Fountains second ability to draw cards.
I then also tried to get a fifth copy (of sorts) into the deck for each of the three center pieces. The Tough Cookie got joined by a single Alloy Animist. The Accomplished Alchemist got an apprentice in Incubation Druid (though pulling the combo with that one is a pain to click through). Lastly, Oswald Fiddlebender tries to be the 5th Halo Fountain, which he can fetch to the field with any of the now 10 2-mana artifacts. Though wether that is viable enough, I don't know. He's only in there to fetch a Fountain, but so far I either didn't have Oswald ready (most of the time, it's only a 1-of after all), or I got a Fountain already and didn't need to fetch it.
I'm using Depopulate as my sweeper for now, but will try some copies of Expel the Interlopers instead when I get some. I do have the wildcards to simply craft the cards right now, but I'm not in a hurry and will get some copies shortly anyway.
The deck is actually winning games, though most opponents are not aware of the combo. I had a few that let all pieces be active on the field, while removing a Serra Paragon or building a board. And Arena doesn't know what to make of the deck, judging by the variety of decks I'm facing. From hardly more than beginner decks to downright format juggernauts, I've been facing all it seems. More often than not, I'm having fun with the deck, even if I keep repeating the loop for several minutes on end, digging toward the bottom of the deck for the Hearse to finish the game, and then more time spent making 15 creatures to tap and untap. I don't fault any opponent not wanting to sit through all of that. Hence why I try to play the Hearse as soon as I draw it before making tokens. Kudos to those opponents, who sat through my shennanigans to the end.
I just don't like the performance of Incubation Druid so far, it doesn't contribute much and pulling the combo with it is tedious to the extreme. I found myself another card that could take the place of 5th Accomplished Alchemist and will try it out. Eldritch Evolution 2-for-1s myself, but the Serra Paragon can mitigate it, and I can even find the Tough Cookie with it, essentialy giving me a 6th copy of that. I'll see if that works out or not. If it does, a second Evolution may replace the Alloy Animist to essentially have 6 copies of Cookie AND Alchemist.
After a lot more tweaking and playing, I decided to add a second Eldritch Evolution. The card sometimes is clunky, but it does what I want it to do. I don't want more than two copies, though, of that I'm certain. I also added a third Unlicensed Hearse, and a 25th land. Two copies of Skrelv, Defector Mite give the deck some more protection options for the key pieces that need to stick around (most and foremost Accomplished Alchemist), and also give Oswald some more utility, since he now can fetch Skrelv from a Food token (though that hasn't happened yet in any game), or turn Skrelv into a Cookie or Hearse. To make room I removed all copies of Potion of Healing, and the lonely Alloy Animist. Lastly, I added a copy each of Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire, and Boseiju, Who Endures, replacing their basic counterparts.
Of the 29 games I played with the deck in the Casual Explorer Queue so far, I won 19. Though many of those decks seemed somewhat unpolished, so the deck probably isn't that good.
I also tried my hand at another Standard version, trying to use Deathbloom Ritualist, but couldn't quite get it to work. I simply don't see a way to get the nessessary creature card density needed for that. To many non-creature cards are nessessary, in my builds. If someone can make it work, I'd be very much interested. It also seemed to me, that the Casual Standard Queue isn't as Casual as the Explorer one. For now, I guess, I'll stick to my Explorer version and maybe tweak it some more. The decklist feels pretty stable right now, though.
After a good night's sleep, I remembered a card from not so long ago, that may fit better as the deck's catch-(almost)-everything spot removal: Elpeth Conquers Death. I'm trying it out in place of Seal from Existence, and so far it looks promising. The reanimation just gives me just a bit better chance to assemble the combo.
And more little tweaks hopefully made the deck better.
For starters, I took out one ECD, at 5 mana, it is a bit too costly to be a 4-of. I filled the slot with a second copy of Oswald, because, after many games, he sure showed his worth. So much, that I was contemplating and even going for fetching him with Eldritch Evolution. So instead of wasting a valuable fetch, I just added another. Works quite well so far. I also replaced the 4 Family fetches with Fabled Passages, because the ETB tapped clause was irritating and the life gain mostly pointless. I tried out a single Lair of the Hydra, but it was never needed, comes in tapped later, and screwed up the autotapper. I went back to 24 lands, and the mana flood is still real. The free slot once again used for some experimentation, like adding a Cataclysmic Gearhulk as a 5th sweeper, even fetchable with Eldritch Evolution if I'm willing to sacrifice an Alchemist or Paragon. Wasn't really helpful in the grand scheme of things. I was also looking for a 4-mana artifact, that Oswald could fetch by sacrificing an extra Fountain, but found nothing that would actually help the deck accomplish the combo. In the end, I simply added the 4th Unlicensed Hearse for even more graveyard hate, and it gives Oswald another 2-mana artifact to fetch the Fountain with. Which seems to work out fine. Early graveyard hate also really messes up any graveyard based decks.