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Ready to Form Voltron!

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"From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend; the legend of Voltron, Defender of the Universe, a mighty robot, loved by good, feared by evil. As Voltron's legend grew, peace settled across the galaxy. On Planet Earth, a Galaxy Alliance was formed. Together with the good planets of the solar system, they maintained peace throughout the universe, until a new horrible menace threatened the galaxy. Voltron was needed once more. This is the story of the super force of space explorers, specially trained and sent by the Alliance to bring back Voltron, Defender of the Universe!”

In case you didn’t know, Nicktoons brought back the classic 80’s show under the name Voltron Force. The premise of the show is basically the same as Power Rangers. Power Rangers basically stole the entire structure of their show from Voltron. So, there are these five robotic lions that can combine into one giant fighting robot called Voltron. This cartoon has a cult following and the new one will too when it catches on.

Wait, you wanted to hear about Magic? Well, luckily for you Magic relates to other awesome things too! The phrase building or playing “a Voltron deck” is catching on in Commander circles. It basically just means that your commander is going to win the game by using enchantments, equipment or some other way to pump it. You make one guy this unstoppable force and use that to win the game.

The thing is, that is not just a Commander deck, we can do that in Standard too! Last week I mentioned about the new UW Puresteel deck. The goal of this deck is to get a bunch of equipment in play and suit up one of your guys to an unstoppable force. The deck plays all the best equipment and all they need is to do is get it equipped to one creature.

The UW Puresteel deck, now known as Voltron!, is tricky to play and to play against. I have some tips for playing this deck so you can get started. Take a look at my version and then we’ll dig into the deck.

Voltron!

My version is almost an exact copy of the 10th place deck from the Seattle Starcity 5k. Here are two different versions to look at also: 4th place and 12th place from the Cincy Starcity 5k.

Many players see this deck list and immediately think the goal is to play Puresteel Paladin on turn two every game. If you do not have Puresteel Paladin in your opening hand, use that Preordain to try to dig to it. These two thoughts are flawed and will result in many losses with this deck. Certainly there will be times where it is correct to play Puresteel Paladin on turn two but that is the exception not the rule. To get the most value out of Puresteel Paladin there are two times when you should be playing him. The first is on turn three when you have a Flayer Husk so that you can draw a card immediately. The second is on turn four or five once you have played a bunch of equipment already. Let’s consider this sequence of plays:

Turn one: Play Flayer Husk

Turn two: Play Mortarpod

Turn three: Play Sword of Feast and Famine

Turn four: Play Puresteel Paladin and another equipment to draw a card. Then equip all the equipment in play for free to the Flayer Husk and swing.

Wow, talk about value. You even get to play something else after combat as long as your attack was successful. Puresteel Paladin is the captain of the deck. He comes down to direct the team into an unstoppable force. Basically, play Puresteel Paladin and form Voltron!

This deck is a versatile aggro deck that is quite capable of killing you out of nowhere. The living weapon equipment is deceptively good because they are almost two for ones. Your opponent does not want to kill them but if they don’t, you can just equip them up and kill them. If your opponent does kill the germ token, you can capitalize on that because you just play another guy and you still have that equipment in play. Whichever way your opponent plays is good for you so force them to spend removal on your germ tokens!

With Flayer Husk, Mortarpod, Trinket Mage, and Squadron Hawk in this deck, it has been reminding me of Vampires. The card advantage these creatures give you are similar to cards like Bloodghast, Gatekeeper of Malakir, and Arc Trail. While they are very different cards, their function is the same. Just like in Vampires where you typically do not play Kalastria Highborn on turn two, the same goes for Puresteel Paladin. Certainly there are cases where you do play both of those cards on turn two but they mostly involve hands that do not have another two cost creature.

Speaking of Squadron Hawk, the card is one of the main reasons I like this particular version. It's just amazing card advantage. Not only do you have pesky germ tokens, but a never ending swarm of flyers as well. This deck seems like a nightmare for a control deck with all this built in card advantage. Aggro should have a rough time keeping up with your constant stream of threats as well. Most games you can basically stall for as long as it takes so you can find a sword or Puresteel Paladin. Even if your opponent blows up one of your equipment, it should not be that detrimental because you have lots of other ones to replace them with. Avoid equipping the Puresteel Paladin so he can avoid removal as much as possible. The longer you keep him in play, the better your chance to win the game.

If you decide to play this deck, you should know that sometimes you are just playing a bunch of sub par cards. There will be games where the only thing you draw are Flayer Husks, Mortarpods, and Preordains that show you more lands and more copies of those two cards. This does not happen often because you can dig with Preordain and because you do have Puresteel Paladin and the swords as well. Even those hands with all the living weapons, if you draw any one of the swords, your opponent must shift gears to deal with the creature immediately. The more swords you draw the better but you need creatures to equip them to so make sure you keep that in mind when you are using Preordain.

Another thing about this deck that is quite important is the art of the mulligan. I think any hand with five lands is an auto throw back with this deck and four lands is questionable as well. You always want your focus to be gaining metalcraft, not because you actually need metalcraft all the time but because it means that you have played a bunch of equipment. Then, if you have a Puresteel Paladin or Dispatch, they become amazing.

So, since we want so few lands in our opening hand, how many lands should the deck actually run? That is a tough question and I have been torn about the correct answer. Usually I run more lands in my aggro decks than other players because hitting your first three or four land drops is so important. With this deck however, you really only need to hit three mana at some point in the game. I think that means you want twenty two lands not twenty three. For the moment I still have the twenty three but I may cut one for something like Oblivion Ring. Ideally, I would like to have two Oblivion Rings in the main deck somewhere because it deals with so many problems. The question of the exact number lands necessary won't be apparent until I get to play some more with the deck.

What about matchups?

Aggro:
Against any other aggro deck you want to take the control role, not because you are actually controlling the game but because you are stalling the game. In basically any matchup you want to be playing your living weapons first so that you get in the way of their guys or they use their removal on the germ tokens. If you can stall the game out long enough and win the attrition war, then all you should have to do is equip all of your equipment to one guy (a.k.a. form Voltron) and win the game in a swing or two. Tempered Steel seems like the hardest of the aggro matches because their guys are so big. If Oblivion Ring manages to squeak into the deck somewhere that would help, but I think there should definitely be three Revoke Existences in the sideboard to help out this match. Those revokes do help against Pyromancer Ascension and Birthing Pod as well, but that is just a bonus.

Control:
Against any control deck such as Caw-Blade or Blue Black Control, you want to keep the pressure on as much as possible. Keep getting more guys onto the battlefield and clogging it up with your equipment. One of the most important things about the control matches is not getting blown out by Spell Pierce. That card is quite bad for this deck. I think that if my opponent was showing one blue mana, I just wouldn't risk playing one of my swords. You can always try to bait them with a living weapon first then sneak in a sword, or play your Trinket Mage instead. Spell Pierce can blow you out so play conservatively against a deck that might be packing it. Post board, do not over extend because most decks are running Day of Judgment in the sideboard but not main deck.

Combo:
Combo decks like Valakut and Splinter Twin might pose a problem. Sure you have Dispatch so you save them for only the must kill creatures, but there is not much in the form of disruption. Sword of Feast and Famine is always a good thing to have against someone trying to win the game with a combo so more of those would probably be necessary in the sideboard, but that is still not enough. This is the type of deck where running Mana Leak or Unified Will from the board will really catch your opponent of guard. Most of the things you want to be countering should be taken care of with Flashfreeze but there other options to think about. With these two deck especially, you cannot afford to hold back for fear of something like Pyroclasm or Slagstorm because if you do you will lose to the combo. You can get blown out but it is a risk you must take. Something like Spellskite might even be necessary depending on how hard you feel the matches are.

Based on the matchup analysis, here is a tenative sideboard for the deck. Make sure you adjust it for your expected metagame.

Even if you don’t want to form Voltron on your own, make sure you are prepared to play against it at your next tournament.

“Activate interlocks! “

“Dyna-therms connected. “

“Infra-cells up; mega-thrusters are go!”

“Ready to form Voltron!”

Until next time, “Let's go, Voltron Force!”

Mike Lanigan

MtgJedi on Twitter

Jedicouncilman23@gmail.com

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