• Send us an Email!
  • Back to Top

Out of the Deck Box – Killer Instinct

Killer InstinctThe most interesting and entertaining thing about Magic, besides actually playing the game, is building new decks and then tinkering with them as you come up with new and better ideas. There’s one deck I have, one of my personal favorites actually, that has a particularly interesting story in this regard. To start with, I didn’t actually build it. In fact, except for 3 old precons I’ve heavily customized (2 of them only have some basic land left over from the originals), it’s the only deck I own that I didn’t personally build from scratch. Several years ago, my co-host Brian gave me a deck as a birthday present. It was Red and Green, with several big beefy creatures and multiple odd little themes going on inside. The way the deck was built was pulling it in a number of different directions, but I think Brian did that on purpose to give me a choice of starting points for further customization.

The story of the first major evolution of the Killer Instinct deck can be found in an old article I wrote for CardShark. It didn’t take long for it to become one of my core “signature” decks. I love playing it, and other players in the game usually find it amusing as well. As great as the deck feels, there was still a little something that bothered me about it. Here’s a more recent snapshot:

 

Lands (20)
3x Evolving Wilds
8x Forest
5x Mountain
4x Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures (24)
3x Battlefield Scrounger
1x Bogardan Hellkite
4x Greenseeker
1x Homura, Human Ascendant
3x Mul Daya Channelers
3x Ondu Giant
2x Pelakka Wurm
4x Penumbra Wurm
3x Skarrgan Firebird

Non-Creatures (16)
4x Evolution Charm
4x Killer Instinct
4x Lash Out
4x Search for Tomorrow

 

You can probably already see what’s going on here. Of the cards that can’t be filtered out of the deck , fully half of them (16 non-creature spells plus 7 non-basic lands) are duds when Killer Instinct is on the battlefield. Not only that, but the Mul Daya Channelers, who help me plan ahead for strategically using my search effects, just sit there like lumps when those cards are on top of the library. For a long time, I didn’t know what to do except deal with it, play around it when possible, and try to come up with some better ideas in the meantime. This turned out to be one of those cases where the best answer kept eluding me because it was too obvious: replace all the non-creature spells (except Killer Instinct, duh) with creatures. Let’s look at it card-by-card, since that’s how my thought process went:

 

Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse

I know I could cut these down and replace them with more basic lands to find, but I want to maximize the possible thinning effects I have available to me at any given time. Besides, the ability can also be used to “re-roll” my library at instant speed if I know the top card isn’t a creature and I have a Killer Instinct trigger coming up. I’m going to leave these just the way they are.

 

Evolution Charm

At instant speed, for very cheap, I can search my deck and get a land out of it. Not only does this directly help with the thinning and filtering, but I can also use it to “re-roll” my library. Evolution Charm also has two other interesting modes, but there’s a problem: I almost never use them. So the grand majority of the time, I’m paying 2 mana for an effect I know I can get for 1, and from a card that I don’t think is very good. I can improve this.

-4 Evolution Charm, +4 Krosan Tusker

Krosan Tusker is easily one of my favorite cards ever. It’s an instant-speed Divination in Green for crying out loud, and years before even Counsel of the Soratami was printed. Sure, one of the cards will always be a land, but a deck that particularly enjoys getting land will love you forever if you include a set of Tuskers. The only thing that makes me even slightly hesitant about this change is the frightening realization that someday, probably in the near future, I will actually attack with a Krosan Tusker.

 

Killer Instinct

That’s not funny. Go to the next card.

 

Lash Out

Okay, a little bit of removal, a little bit of direct damage, and a way to manipulate the top card of the library. In terms of replacement, there really isn’t any creature in Red or Green that can cover all those roles by itself, so I’m just going to have to make a choice about what’s more important to the function of the deck. Immediately, I lean towards the damage/removal aspect. The manipulation also becomes less important in the context of this overhaul, as the fundamental changes are decreasing the potential for misfires. There are a lot of different possibilities, but I decide to settle on just one.

-4 Lash Out, +4 Mudbutton Torchrunner

This substitution could have been a lot of things, and is the most likely to change in the future, but I’m going with something cheap and simple that can deal 3 damage. Other cards I considered for this switch include Ember Hauler, Shock Troops, Keldon Champion, and some others. I’m going to keep an open mind about it as I continue to play the deck.

 

Search for Tomorrow

This is a really good card. Not only does it pull land out of the deck, but it ramps up my mana position on the board (it even brings the land in untapped!), and is a first turn play if I don’t have a Greenseeker in my opening hand. The suspend trigger can be stacked to resolve right before a Killer Instinct trigger, or even between two Instincts in case the first one flips a dud. Honestly, this is the hardest card to cut from the deck, but I need to stay dedicated to the theme. I’ll make sure I do the slot justice by filling it with another really good card.

-4 Search for Tomorrow, +4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

I recently acquired a set of Elders as part of an impulse buy on the internet about a month ago. Before then I only ever opened/owned a single copy, which I ended up trading to someone (because what am I going to do with only one Sakura-Tribe Elder when no one wants to trade them away?). Anyone fortunate enough to have played with the Elder back in the day knows how good it is, and its cheapness and ability to activate at any time help make up for the fact that I’m losing something as good as Search for Tomorrow.

 

I made one more change: -1 Homura, Human Ascendant and +1 Bogardan Hellkite. I did this because I got a fancy copy of the Hellkite from Knights vs. Dragons and wanted to move Homura to my Fumiko the Lowblood Commander deck.

So there you have it! I’m really excited and optimistic about the changes I’ve made here, and I really look forward to the next several chances I get to play the deck and see how it feels. Leave some comments here and let me know what you think.

Have fun, guys.

 

[Chewie’s note: Here’s the final decklist for all to enjoy!]

Lands (20)
3x Evolving Wilds
8x Forest
5x Mountain
4x Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures (36)
3x Battlefield Scrounger
2x Bogardan Hellkite
4x Greenseeker
3x Mul Daya Channelers
3x Ondu Giant
2x Pelakka Wurm
4x Penumbra Wurm
3x Skarrgan Firebird
4x Krosan Tusker
4x Sakura-Tribe Elder
4x Mudbutton Torchrunner

Non-Creatures (4)
4x Killer Instinct

This entry was posted in The Deck Box and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

4 Comments

  1. Beach7125
    May 31, 2011 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    I think Killer Instinct is the piece I’ve been missing to a puzzle. I keep wanting to combine Survival of the Fittest and Sneak Attack in a RUG EDH deck. With no good way to find those cards, KI will help be another SA card AND allow me to get great use out of worldly tutor and other such cards. Excellent.

    • Mike
      May 31, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget Call of the Wild and Impromptu Raid!

  2. Mike
    August 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    For anyone who’s interested, I made the following edits a few days ago:

    -3 Ondu Giant, -4 Mudbutton Torchrunner
    +3 Keldon Champion, +1 Mul Daya Channeler, +3 Solemn Simulacrum

    Trading out the Giants for Solemn (got them in trade from Randy, the ultimate wheeler-dealer, owner of Top Deck in Kernersville) was a pretty easy choice. Now I’m much more comfortable seeing this come up in a Killer Instinct trigger, because I’ll get to draw another card out of it. Torchrunners came out for Champions because I want better attackers. I’ll try to work around the fact I don’t have pinpoint removal anymore by trying to overwhelm opponents with brute force. The 4th Channeler is something I’ve wanted to get in here ever since I got the first 2 and could see how good they were for the deck.

    • August 3, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like some damn good changes, yo! Can’t wait to see how they work out.

Leave a Reply

Your email will never be published or displayed.

Connect with Facebook

(Required)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>