Ruminating on BW Warriors

When I used to write for SCG it was with a fairly standard pattern in mind. You had a deck, you talked about that deck. You made a story out of what you found playing with that deck and you shared it, embellished or not. Most of the time, people weren’t there for the deck itself – very rarely was I providing anyone with revolutionary concepts – but I was often there to offer people the experience of thinking about specific interactions. My most useful articles like this were standardised around Here’s a deck I tried, here’s why it’s bad.

What I’ve been doing lately, inspired by Ted and Jeb, was looking at the influx of warriors to standard by the recent Khans of Tarkir set. There’s a lot to work through there – especially considering the way Warrior as a creature type smears itself across four colours. It’s a known truism that there’s a Black-White warrior deck in draft for players to fiddle around with, which is why both Black and White have Warrior lords and a spell that enhances Warriors.

This is going to be some pretty nerdy stuff, though, so I’m putting the rest below the fold.

The Pool of Cards

First up we look at what we have to play with. I first cast the net wide and looked at Modern-level cards with Warrior in their name, because, well, that’s how my collection is biased, and found precious little changed. There’s only one noteworthy addition to the pool – Skull Collector. And well, we’ll talk about them later, down in Silly Tricks.

First, I cut away any warrior whose mana cost compares poorly to its power and toughness. I am sure that there are plenty of folk whose days were ruined by a 5/3 morph flipping up and smashing them in the jaw, but he ain’t what we want here. We are not the kind of deck that’s desperate for bodies with a creature type.

Under white, we have the Seeker of the Way and the Mardu Hordechief as our best pure colour cards. These critters are really noteworthy though because they bring power with a demand. The Seeker wants non-creature spells, but only needs one to be good. The Hordechief wants you to attack the turn before it arrives, and in return doubles your money on enablers.

Black is where the bulk of the bodies come – Bloodsoaked Champion, Tormented Hero, Mardu Skullhunter and maybe Bellowing Saddlebruite. The Champion, Saddlebrute and Skullhunter all just ask us to attack, which we’d do anyway, and the Tormented Hero asks if we can slide a Heroic subtheme in the deck anywhere. If we do, we want to make sure it’s a subtheme that perhaps pumps toughness at all, you know, if that’s an option. The Saddlebrute is kind of nice if only because it’s huge, comparatively, but it also feels sluggish – it doesn’t attack until turn five, and by then it will probably run into a body just as burly as its own.

Then we round out this list with the two Chiefs – Scale and Edge. There’s also an enabler in the list, Raider’s Spoils. Spoils I like because all it asks if if you can swarm around your opponent to score a hit or two, and every creature that dies in the process can be replaced. If you pull this list together, you have something like this:

4 Bloodsoaked Champion
4 Tormented Hero
4 Seeker of the Way
4 Mardu Skullhunter
4 Chief of the Edge
4 Chief of the Scale
4 Mardu Hordechief
4 Raider’s Spoils

The mana cure is heavy around 2 – I might even cut the Chief of the Scale, even though I am nervous of the poor 2/1s being frail. With those in mind, what do you add to the list to fill it out?

That said, then we hit the problem of mana bases. I don’t like recommending decks based on mana bases they can’t afford. If you have Caves of Koilos and Temples of Silence, dive on them and that allows tempo. If you have however, a mana base of Scoured Barrens and That’s Basically It, you might need to fill out the later part of the deck list with slower recovery cards.

I’m personally inclined to add to a deck like this a suite of protective/aggressive cards – cards like Defiant Strike, Gods Willing, Feat of Resistance, and Ordeal of Heliod. You can also fill it out with cards to clear the way – my gut says ‘Mortify and Unmake’ because that’s what I assume when I’m talking about BW decks. You just have to throw in the removal you like. Try for cheap spells, though.

It did make me wonder about Carom and Heroic, though. Hmm!

Silly Tricks

Skull Collector+Mardu Skullhunter

This is a trick I noticed while I was putting these pieces together and while I kind of like it, just on the basis of being cute, it’s hardly impressive: you can get the same effect with Ravenous Rats. I do like the elegance presented here in the curve. Consider:

T2: Skullhunter.
T3: Skull Collector.
T4: Pick Up Skullhunter, Attack with Skull Collector, Regenerate Skull Collector, Replay Skullhunter.

That’s cute, but consider all the effort involved and how little it yields. You’ve stolen a card. Big woop. If you did this with Ravenous Rats, you could steal two, and steal them faster.

Take Up Arms
This seems cute to me if you have any global buff, but that’s not very exciting. The two Chiefs are interesting to me only generically, with the Chief of the Scale actually being so mediocre I would skip it in any list that wasn’t really thirsty for robust two-drops. Bramblewoo Paragon, on the other hand, works decently enough with Take Up Arms by doubling the card’s power and toughness without presenting a weak spot.

Timely Hordemate
There’s not a lot of anything for the Hordemate to interact with or get back. There’s no, for example, 2-drop that sacrifices itself after it attacks, or clever Evoke or Cycling creature to pair it with. I tried, I sought, but no, there’s nothing here that really excites me.

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