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What I desire will be mine…

October 7, 2009

It’s almost time for Extended again (with Pro Tour Austin looming) but this time around the Extended staple and powerhouse Mind’s Desire will not be with us. Many people has been routing for this while others are depressed with the lost of the one of the most powerful combo cards ever printed. Myself is with the crowd that don’t want to let Mind’s Desire go, but what can you do. Whatever you like the card or not, Mind’s Desire has a interesting story in Extended and I will retell some of its history today. Since the card I basically banned in type 1 and never made much impact in Standard/Block, I will just focus on Extended today.

Minds Desire

Mind's Desire

Mind’s Desire along with the storm mechanic came to the world with the release of Scourge. It’s funny, Mind’s Desire was banned right off the release of Scrouge in the format we today call Legacy. That would tell you a bit of the power of this card, right? Mind’s Desire along with either Tendrils of Agony or sometimes Brain Freeze has always been the core of the Desire decks but the engine that is fueling Mind’s Desire and the actual win condition has been altered several times during the years as we shall find out.

The imitate impact of Mind’s Desire to extended was not that big since frankly, it was just another insane combo card for Extended. During Worlds in 2003, you were allowed to play 4 copies of Tinker, Metalworker, Hermit Druid, Frantic Search, Entomb, Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors among the most broken stuff. And yes, Aluren was also around and thriving. So Scourge stirred Storm into Extended and the result was at the time not so earthshaking in comparison of the rest of the field. This version took Carlos Ramao to a positive record in Worlds 2003:

// Lands
    4 City of Traitors
    4 Flooded Strand
    8 Island
    2 Polluted Delta
    4 Ancient Tomb

// Creatures
    4 Cloud of Faeries

// Spells
    4 Brainstorm
    3 Cunning Wish
    1 Fact or Fiction
    4 Frantic Search
    2 Intuition
    2 Meditate
    2 Merchant Scroll
    4 Mind’s Desire
    3 Snap
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    4 Accumulated Knowledge
    4 Sapphire Medallion

// Sideboard
SB: 1 Brain Freeze
SB: 3 Chain of Vapor
SB: 1 Fact or Fiction
SB: 2 Turnabout
SB: 1 Gainsay
SB: 3 Mana Short
SB: 1 Misdirection
SB: 3 Stifle

During the early years of Mind’s Desires life in Extended the combo was fueled with the “untap”-cycle from Urza Block along with Sapphire Medallion and 2-mana producing lands. This build is very the powerful, but yet it was just another combo deck in the degenerated Extended forat back then. But it would get even worse when Mirrodin came out. But after the emergency bannings that followed which lead to that many card that I listed earlier got the shaft meant that Mind’s Desire was now one of the most powerful combo decks in the format. This version got Mashasi Oiso to a Top8 finish in Columbus 2004:

// Lands
    1 Flooded Strand
    7 Island
    4 Polluted Delta
    1 Swamp
    4 Underground River

// Creatures
    4 Cloud of Faeries
    2 Nightscape Familiar

// Spells
    4 Accumulated Knowledge
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Chrome Mox
    3 Cunning Wish
    2 Deep Analysis
    3 Intuition
    2 Merchant Scroll
    4 Mind’s Desire
    4 Sapphire Medallion
    3 Snap
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Turnabout
    2 Vampiric Tutor

// Sideboard
SB: 1 Intuition
SB: 1 Snap
SB: 1 Turnabout
SB: 1 Brain Freeze
SB: 1 Stroke of Genius
SB: 1 Rebuild
SB: 1 Mana Leak
SB: 1 Envelop
SB: 2 Psychatog
SB: 1 Energy Flux
SB: 2 Echoing Truth
SB: 1 Coffin Purge
SB: 1 Condescend

You see that Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors is not in the list aswell with Frantic Search which is a result of the bannings caused by Mirrodins release. Otherwise the decks are pretty similar, the mana engine is still the same. Thanks to the deck was already running Snap for generation of mana it was a natural foil to the reanimator decks that was running around at the time (Reanimate and Exhume was still legal!) and it eat aggressive decks for breakfast.

When Ravnica was released in fall 2005, every set older than Invasion rotated out from Extended which meant that a lot of the broken stuff left Extended. But Mind’s Desire was still here. The problem at first was how to solve the loss of the mana engine that the deck ran in the past. Chris McDaniel proposed this solution with his Top4 finish in Pro Tour LA 2005:

// Lands
    12 Forest
    10 Island

// Creatures
    4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

// Spells
    4 Mind’s Desire
    4 Gifts Ungiven
    4 Cunning Wish
    4 Heartbeat of Spring
    4 Nostalgic Dreams
    3 Early Harvest
    3 Fact or Fiction
    2 Rampant Growth
    2 Moment’s Peace
    1 Deep Analysis
    1 Revive
    1 Brain Freeze
    1 Echoing Truth

// Sideboard
SB: 1 Early Harvest
SB: 1 Fact or Fiction
SB: 2 Moment’s Peace
SB: 3 Brain Freeze
SB: 3 Mana Short
SB: 1 Naturalize
SB: 1 Stifle
SB: 1 Words of Wisdom
SB: 1 Memory Lapse
SB: 1 Chain of Vapor

This version basically switched the Urza’s powered mana engine into the Heartbeat of Spring+Early Harvest combo and Intuition became the even more powerful Gifts Ungiven. Casting Gifts Ungiven ensured that the game was going to end very soon, as gifting for Revive, Nostaligic Dreams + 2 cards you need guarantee that you get want you want eventually. In many cases it was the correct play to just give the Heartbeat player just the other 2 cards and hope that the storm count wouldn’t be big enough.

Like the Mind’s Desire decks in the past this version feasted on aggro decks and was pretty good versus do-nothing-control decks (which off course is true for most combo decks). The Hearbeat version of Mind’s Desire got McDaniel (the StarWarsKid) to a top4 and many people won an invite with this deck in the following PTQ season.

The next leap for Mind’s Desire was the following year after Time Spiral was released. Mike Herberholtz and Rafael Levy among others brought this (some had Sensei’s Divining Top in it) to Worlds in 2006:

// Lands
    4 Tinder Farm
    4 Geothermal Crevice
    3 Gemstone Mine
    4 Sulfur Vent

// Spells
    4 Chromatic Star
    4 Chrome Mox
    4 Lotus Bloom
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    3 Sins of the Past
    3 Mind’s Desire
    4 Burning Wish
    2 Plunge into Darkness
    2 Infernal Tutor
    4 Cabal Ritual
    4 Seething Song
    4 Darkwater Egg
    4 Rite of Flame
    2 Channel the Suns

// Sideboard
SB: 2 Tendrils of Agony
SB: 1 Mind’s Desire
SB: 1 Channel the Suns
SB: 2 Empty the Warrens
SB: 1 Hull Breach
SB: 1 Pyroclasm
SB: 4 Duress
SB: 3 Orim’s Chant

Gone was the Heartbeat mana engine and instead we see the Invasion sac-lands along with Lotus Bloom and 14 other rituals. This change got a lot faster and this version averaged a kill on turn 4 instead of roughly 5 that the Heartbeat version delivered. Off course it was not strictly better, all the rituals and the saclands meant that the deck couldn’t be as flexible as in the past.

Sure, you could Burning Wish for answers but thanks to the awkward mana your lands provided it was not always easy execute that plan in practice. However the increased speed was the deciding factor and this version would be the clear dominant for the next 2 years.

Our last stop in our journey through Mind’s Desires history is the PTQ season earlier this year. Invasion aswell as Odyssey rotated out before this season, which leads us to the following build:

// Lands
    3 Flooded Strand
    4 Steam Vents
    2 Island
    2 Cascade Bluffs
    3 Polluted Delta
    4 Dreadship Reef

// Spells
    4 Remand
    4 Desperate Ritual
    4 Rite of Flame
    4 Ponder
    4 Peer Through Depths
    4 Lotus Bloom
    4 Mind’s Desire
    4 Manamorphose
    4 Seething Song
    2 Tendrils of Agony
    2 Electrolyze
    2 Slight of Hands

// Sideboard
SB: 3 Pact of Negation
SB: 3 Echoing Truth
SB: 3 Brain Freeze
SB: 2 Ad Nauseam
SB: 2 Shattering Spree
SB: 2 Volcanic Fallout

Which is pretty much the same build I played earlier this year. With the saclands from Invasion gone along with Burning Wish, a new approach was needed. The answer was basically a cross over from the past. The “normal” lands were back but the deck still had the rituals. LSV won GP LA in January with a similar build and continued to be a strong force in Extended the season out. With that said, this journey is now complete. Mind’s Desire has when I’m writing this rotated out of Extended and is only legal in Vintage. Sad panda.

The future?

Mind’s Desire is gone but storm might still have a fighting chance in Extended. Dragonstorm is still around and Grapeshot + Pyromancer’s Swath is there. The question is off course is that good enough? I think so.

While without Mind’s Desire storm as an archetype has taken a huge setback, but the other decks as gotten weaker too (at least versus storm). The functional reprinting of the fetchland in Zendikar ensured that the speed and tempo of Extended will be the same as last year which doesn’t speak well for storm, which got overall slower. But on the bright side, Stifle and Pyrostatic Pillar is no more and storm will certainly have the element of surprise coming into Extended format as it will be “rediscovered” in Austin in a week (more on Pro Tour Austin next week). Will storm get there again? Time will tell…

This was the history of Mind’s Desire and I hope you liked it. Until next time…

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