Sorry, Your Pet Deck is Bad
I know it's been a while since my last post. I've been stalling for time until Tomoharu Saito's suspension ended.
I need to get in the habit or writing regularly again, even if I hate my writing (which I do far more than is reasonable). Also, there's a card a lot of people love that's back in Magic 2013 that is getting a fair amount of press, and I don't get it.
Quirion Dryad is a card I remember fondly when it was first printed in Planeshift. It was the centerpiece of the Miracle Grow deck in Extended during that time period (when dual lands were still legal!):
Miracle Grow - Alex Shvartsman
If you're not sure how the deck works (or why there's only 10 lands?!?!), here's how it goes. Nothing in the deck costs more than 2, with most of the spells being 0 or 1 mana. Getting those lands is made easier with a ton of cheap card draw like Brainstorm, Sleight of Hand and Opt. If you don't have any lands in hand, Land Grant acts as lands 11 through 14. Eventually you end up with giant Quirion Dryads and Werebears, while your opponent is unable to play Magic because of Winter Orb and Withdraw. Need to untap your lands? Gush them back to your hand and draw more gas as well! Add in a smattering of countermagic (all of which is castable when tapped out!) and this is the original aggro-control strategy.
Quirion Dryad was reprinted in Tenth Edition and didn't make much of a splash, finding its way into a few States placing decks, but not making a real impact. The pieces just weren't there, as Cascade decks had better spells to cast and there a dearth of cheap card draw and permission. Fast forward to Magic 2013, though, and maybe we're getting closer...
Add in a cheap, aggressive creature that wants to be in a deck with a lot of spells like Delver of Secrets and we might be on to something. A list made the top 32 of the SCG open two weeks ago in St. Louis:
Dryad Delver - Matt Hoey
The first thing I notice from this list is that there's four 4 drops and three(!) 5 drops in the 75, yet the deck runs only 18 real lands. Running Talrand, Sky Summoner is pretty ambitious, even if the reward at the end of the rainbow looks so damned tasty. Also, I'm not sure how this deck deals with various red/green aggro strategies. Without the tools from blue/white Delver like Geist of Saint Traft and Restoration Angel, it seems like you're wildly underarmed for that fight. What if we were to expand the manabase to support another color worth of disruption, though?
A Bad Toupee (RUG Dryad)
I imagine the sideboard filled with cards like Phantasmal Image, Pillar of Flame, some Naturalize effect, maybe an extra land like Cavern of Souls (which I don't like maindeck because of all the 1CMC spells - the land count is already very very low)... you get the idea. But I don't think this shell is good. Vapor Snag is a very real card in this format, and it makes Dryad look pretty sad and embarrassing. To take advantage of the concepts that make Dryad good, you lower your land count, which makes it harder to justify running a real game-changing card like Bonfire of the Damned.
If you have success with Quirion Dryad over the next few weeks at your local PTQs, I'll be pleasantly surprised, since I love the concept of the card and the deck around it, but I don't see this plant making the big time right now. Maybe Return to Ravnica will have some quality cheap spells to replace the free spells that are leaving with Vapor Snag. The direction Magic has gone over the past few years doesn't instill hope in me, however, and I get the feeling that this will be a repeat performance of Dryad's Tenth Edition performance instead of its power in Planeshift.
If you have comments, leave them below, or send me your responses via Twitter, @StillHadThese!