MtG: Mesa Swarm

Mesa Swarm, a Magic: the Gathering deck
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This all-white Falcon-themed horde deck depends on rapid deployment of small creatures to overwhelm the enemy early in the game, and takes advantage of the Falcons’ flying ability to avoid landbound blockers. It has a pretty deep ability to promote creatures (by type, by color, and individually), making it very competitive in the long game, which is uncharacteristic for a horde deck. The fact that it is a mono-color deck is strategically advantageous in that the deck cannot get hung up early over not having enough of one color of mana available (which can sometimes happen to The Rat Race). This deck also has a moderate ability to restrict access to mana, including removing all land in play, and includes measures to cope with this mana restriction. This makes it possible to severely limit opponents’ ability to field creatures, especially expensive large ones, should circumstances make that tactically desirable.

Mesa Swarm is a Mirage-era deck that leans heavily on Homelands for its theme; later tweaks introduced a pair of Freewind Falcons from Visions and a pair of Darkrider Falcons from Weatherlight as well. Sixteen of the 20 lands are core Plains; the other four are specialty lands (two core, two Alliances) that contribute to the mana-restriction sub-strategy. A little under half of the non-land cards are core (17 of 40); of the rest, eight are Homelands, six are Mirage, three are Legends, two are Alliances, two are Visions and two are from Weatherlight.

The theme runs fairly deep; half (10 of 20) of the creature cards are Falcons or other theme-related creatures. Of the non-theme creatures, four are large flyers that do not have to tap to attack (further cementing air superiority) and six are small, fast creatures: two flying medium walls, two 1/1s that allow off-turn land manipulation, and two Tundra Wolves. The average casting cost for creatures is 2.5 mana; for Falcons it is 2 mana. Fourteen of the 20 creatures are flyers.

Eight of the 20 non-creature spells are for creature promotion; six of these promote all of the creatures this deck has in play by +1/+1; stacking these is devastating. Eight of the remaining spells are related to the mana-restriction sub-strategy. Of the remaining four spells, two are protection-from-color and two are Disenchants. The Disenchants are included primarily for removal of Winter Orbs that have become problematic, although they obviously come in handy on plenty of other occasions.

This is an old, well-played deck that was pretty much cemented into final form with the addition of the four modern Falcons. It is probably my most successful deck due to how well the promotable-flying-horde and mana-restriction strategies interlock. Most of the time, however, the mana-restriction is not even necessary; this is typically a mid-game strategy and the fact is that quickly fielding a horde of flyers and group-promoting them a few times is generally enough to win early on. If that does not work, however, the deck’s ability to field truly monstrous creatures and then choke off an opponent’s mana supply usually proves devastating for games that go on longer than usual.

Mesa Swarm has the same primary weakness as any mono-color deck: decks that are built specifically to attack the color on which the deck is based. Monocolor decks also tend to be less flexible than multi-color decks because of the color-based specialization that is built into the game, but this deck has everything it needs to execute a multi-pronged strategy, so does not suffer this pitfall so much. This deck is also somewhat vulnerable to faster horde decks that are based on one-mana creatures, but unless the enemy deck also has a deep ability to mass-promote creatures, any brief advantage it gains is not likely to translate into a win.

(c) 2018 Old Man Metal

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