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Gifts Ungiven + Oona’s Grace = True?

December 31, 2008

grace_giftsThe other day I was reviewing the Elder Dragon Highlander format with a buddy over MSN. He was complaining that Sol Ring, Manavault, Mana Crypt and Grim Monolith was allowed and it lead to very uneven games if a player could get one of those early. Whatever those card should be legal in EDH or not is not what I’m going to talk about thou’. At some point during that conversation Gifts Ungiven and Oona’s Grace was a topic. Right from the bat I thought that would be a sick engine in EDH. Then it hit me; I can play this engine in Extended.

You might ask, why would I play Oona’s Grace as my card drawing engine in my gifts deck instead of Loam+cycling lands or Etched Oracle+Academy Ruins as we have seen earlier. The thing that really attracts me to Oona’s Grace is the elegance and small space it takes up in the deck. If your planning to assemble a card advantage engine with Loam, it takes up a whole Gifts Ungiven as you have to gifts for Loam+3 cycling lands (unless you don’t mise draw some pieces). And when you have assembled the engine and start dredging there’s the inconvenience of dredging away important stuff from the deck. The Etched Oracle plan takes up a little less space (you probably are forced to get some kind of regrowth thou’), but it’s very pricey to get it going. 4 mana for the Oracle itself, 1 to sacrifice it and then 3 for Academy Ruins is a total of 8 mana. On the other hand, you can consider Etched Oracle to be a wincon also so that speaks a bit in favour of the Oracle plan. If you go and look up the deck tech Brain David-Marshall did at Worlds with Robert Graves, you can hear him explain that they wanted Academy Ruins anyways for recurring Engineered Explosives and Vendalken Shackles, so Etched Oracle was a convenient way to draw cards when the Academy Ruins was already there.

With Oona’s Grace however, all you need to do when you are “gifting” is including the singleton in the pile and then you have it. They can’t really deny you that engine because of the powerful retrace mechanic. So instead of devoting your entire gifts on assemble a card drawing engine, you can with Oona’s Grace go threat, threat, threat and Oona’s Grace, which is pretty cool in my opinion. The downside with the Oona’s Grace plan is that your not actually getting straight card advantage with the engine. What you really do is making all your lands have “2U cycle”, which is still fine if you ask me. Extended is not really about the great card advantage fights. I mean, you don’t see people casting Tidings, Mulldrifter or Cruel Ultimatum for example. Extended is really about the incremental card advantage fights, like Spellstutter Sprite, Threads of Disloyalty, Gifts Ungiven and more of that kind of advantages. And that why I think Oona’s Grace could be a viable card drawer in the gifts decks. The ability to turn that land pocket on the top of your in to gas is very good, specially for green midrange decks.

I have to say thou’ that my conclusion is that it’s probably not good enough for this format. Or rather, I think these Gifts Rock deck (or you want to call them) is overall to slow and clunky for this format. Maybe I’m wrong and I hope so, because I love Gifts Ungiven. It’s one of my favourite card ever and I would like to be able to play it in a competitive deck again. But hey, Gifts Ungiven will be legal in Extended until fall 2011, so maybe my combo will have time to shine.

P.S. And I almost forgot, it’s new years eve! Happy new year everyone!

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