Fat Stacks — Inspector Phelddagrif

Feature Article from Cassidy Silver
Cassidy Silver
5/3/2016 11:00:00 AM
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Hello! This week on Fat Stacks, we are going to take a deeper look at an odd mechanic from Shadows over Innistrad. The urge to make puns is way too strong with the 'investigate' mechanic, so let's get straight into the heart of the issue (before I start talking about Colonel Mustard and Scooby-Dooby Doo).

I'll be honest — I was not impressed with investigate during the spoiler season, but once I played through a few prereleases, I actually found it well-designed within the frame of Shadows over Innistrad Limited. Some of the cards even made me feel like I was cheating, especially Tireless Tracker and Ulvenwald Mysteries. Sometimes, a sweet mechanic ends up on bad cards, but sometimes an iffy mechanic ends up on terrific cards.

Are clues really all that bad though? Drawing cards/card advantage is usually the first metagame strategy that most MTG players pick up on, so I think everyone can agree that at face value, clues are great. I am still annoyed on a conceptual level that they are artifacts, but I figure the wealth of interactions with artifacts makes up for that.

Even though the voice of reason in my head is telling me not to inject a Limited mechanic into Commander, at this point I can't help my curiosity.

Investigate cards are easy to gain a lot of value from. Magnifying Glass is more or less a bad mana rock, but will give us clues if need be. I already mentioned Ulvenwald Mysteries and Tireless Tracker, which both investigate without much effort. Bygone Bishop and Trail of Evidence both require us to build around them a bit more, but they will still yield clues as we go about our normal game plan.

 Tamiyo's Journal
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Tamiyo's Journal Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

From there, we have the cards that investigate when they come into play, such as Drownyard Explorers, Thraben Inspector, or Weirding Wood. Because these are such a limited resource, including a few ways to blink these cards will help generate a regular source of clues. Even though I despise this card, Deadeye Navigator might have the power level set high enough to make some of these ETB investigators much better. Eldrazi Displacer will be a second copy of Deadeye Navigator, though we will have to be conscious of including enough sources of colorless.

The other avenue to clues comes via combat damage triggers on cards like Briarbridge Patrol or Daring Sleuth's flipside, Bearer of Overwhelming Truths. Ongoing Investigation will give this ability to any of our creatures, but will only trigger once a turn, (or more with multiple combat steps or double strike). Sun Quan, Lord of Wu is in here mainly to help this strategy out.

All these clues and card draws are a great way to get to the end, but they aren't really a win condition... yet. Tamiyo's Journal is the best example of a win condition in this deck because it will search up whatever finishers we choose. The extra clue each upkeep is also nice, of course. Fleeting Memories makes for a nice mill win, but I am not totally sold on the card yet. Graf Mole will gain us a bunch of life, which will not really win us the game by itself, but can help us stall for a while.

Looking at the clue cards, they all fall in the Bant color identity. There are certainly a lot of solid options in Bant colors, such as Rafiq of the Many, or Rubinia Soulsinger. We could even run Phelddagrif! Inspector Phelddagrif, at your service!

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Magic Kyngdym 2 $13.95
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Traveling Merchant 4 $14.70
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Hastur Games 2 $15.20
Cheese Boy Cards 2 $15.25
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Phelddagrif Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

Phelddagrif is a perfect choice for the general here. I hate to do it, but I have to go back to Scooby Doo. The titular character of this show was a dopey animal who followed clues. Scooby rarely pulled any weight in the old TV show, and Phelddagrif will likely function similarly. Phelddagrif is great because he is so BAD, meaning that we can literally do anything with the deck, because there is not much to build around. Yes, Phelddagrif does exemplify the popular “group hug” strategy, but let's be honest, “group hug” is so bad its good.

Now, we need the gang that actually solves the mysteries, and Planeswalkers are the way to go. I don't really want to go much further into the allusion by matching Planeswalkers to Scooby Doo characters, but the overall inspiration leads me to a Bant Super-best-friends deck. I am slightly tempted to run the deck five-colors, mainly so we could include important characters like Sorin Markov, (and run Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas to make some sweet Clue monsters). None of the five-color legends appeal as much as Scoobygrif, so he stays at the helm.

 Doubling Season
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Fonzy MTG 1 $59.99
Amazing Discoveries 1 $59.99
Galaxy Games LLC 1 $60.61
Netherworld Cards 1 $60.95
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Doubling Season Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

There are also some game mechanic reasons as to why I seek Planeswalkers, and that has to do with their synergy with the all-powerful Doubling Season. Most cards that double tokens will work with clues, though there are a few cards that specify creature tokens specifically, like the Selesnya populate mechanic. Parallel Lives and Primal Vigor are the main backups for Doubling Season, which were of course fixed so they didn't interact with Planeswalkers. However, most of the Planeswalkes generate creature tokens and +1/+1 counters.

We have a ton of Planeswalkers in this deck, though I did try to only include 1-2 iterations of each separate personality. Both Ajani Steadfast and Ajani, Mentor of Heroes are in here to help their Planeswalker friends, and I also included two copies of Jace – Jace, Unraveler of Secrets (on-theme) and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I went more with the utility Planeswalkers from there, such as Garruk Wildspeaker, Kiora, the Crashing Wave, and Narset Transcendent. Tezzeret the Seeker plays well with the clue tokens, and Venser, the Sojourner will help out with the blink section of the deck.

I definitely wanted to include more control-based 'Walkers in here, such as Gideon Jura, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Karn Liberated and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon are also particularly powerful, and as an added bonus, Ugin's board wipe won't exile clues. Teferi, Temporal Archmage is the best Planeswalker for this deck though, especially with his ultimate that allows us to use loyalty abilities for all of our Planeswalkers on each of our opponents' turns as well. Keep in mind that Doubling Season will give us Teferi's ultimate right away, and I didn't even mention the unbelievably good -1 ability that untaps four permanents.

 Oath of Gideon
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Oath of Gideon Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

To go along with all the Planeswalkers, I included the three Bant Oaths – Oath of Nissa, Oath of Gideon, and Oath of Jace. Oath of Nissa and Oath of Jace are both a bit more on the administrative side of things, making it easy to cast the 17 'Walkers in the deck, and of course the scrying is always welcome. Oath of Gideon is definitely the best of the bunch though, providing us with something of a second copy of the Doubling Season tactic. The Chain Veil will also play around with the way our Planeswalkers operate, allowing us to double up on an ability from EACH Planeswalker we control.

Clockspinning is excellent in a deck like this, as it allows us to add more loyalty to the Planeswalkers. The buyback on this card also helps out with Trail of Evidence, especially since we don't have a lot of other instants / sorceries. Proliferate cards will also give the Planeswalkers more loyalty, such as Tezzeret's Gambit.Throne of Geth is even better, as we can sacrifice clues to it.

That leads me to the other big aspect of the deck we can play with – the fact that clue tokens are artifacts. For starters, we can include cards like Broodstar or Darksteel Juggernaut, which will get larger as we get more clues. Broodstar in particular is in here mainly because it makes me laugh, but affinity and clues are a great combo. Filigree Angel will gain us life for each clue we have in play, and we can pal her up with the Deadeye Navigator if need be. Blinkmoth Urn will help power out of a lot of the Planeswalkers, and can help turn the clues into card draw in a pinch. I also put Ensoul Artifact in here to turn one of our clues into a 5/5 beater.

Inspector Phelddagrif by WriterofWrong
Main Deck
1 Briarbridge Patrol
1 Broodstar
1 Bygone Bishop
1 Daring Sleuth
1 Darksteel Juggernaut
1 Deadeye Navigator
1 Drownyard Explorers
1 Eldrazi Displacer
1 Filigree Angel
1 Graf Mole
1 Roon of the Hidden Realm
1 Sun Quan, Lord of Wu
1 Thraben Inspector
1 Tireless Tracker
Creatures [14]
1 Ajani Steadfast
1 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
1 Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Gideon Jura
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
1 Karn Liberated
1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
1 Narset Transcendent
1 Nissa, Worldwaker
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Teferi, Temporal Archmage
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
1 Venser, the Sojourner
Planeswalkers [17]
1 Azorius Cluestone
1 Blinkmoth Urn
1 Clockspinning
1 Confirm Suspicions
1 Doubling Season
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Ensoul Artifact
1 Fleeting Memories
1 Idyllic Tutor
1 Magnifying Glass
1 Oath of Gideon
1 Oath of Jace
1 Oath of Nissa
1 Ongoing Investigation
1 Parallel Lives
1 Praetor's Counsel
1 Primal Vigor
1 Selesnya Cluestone
1 Simic Cluestone
1 Survive the Night
1 Tamiyo's Journal
1 Tezzeret's Gambit
1 The Chain Veil
1 Throne of Geth
1 Trail of Evidence
1 Ulvenwald Mysteries
1 Weirding Wood
1 Worldly Tutor
Spells [28]
1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Alchemist's Refuge
1 Breeding Pool
1 Canopy Vista
1 Command Tower
1 Flooded Grove
1 Flooded Strand
3 Forest (295)
1 Fortified Village
1 Gaea's Cradle
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Hinterland Harbor
3 Island (286)
1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mystic Gate
1 Phyrexia's Core
3 Plains (283)
1 Port Town
1 Prairie Stream
1 Savannah
1 Scrubland
1 Seaside Citadel
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Temple Garden
1 Temple of the False God
1 Tropical Island
1 Tundra
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Bastion
1 Yavimaya Coast
Lands [39]
Deck Total [98]

1 Phelddagrif
Sideboard [1]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

The deck actually came together nicely, and we should be able to investigate frequently. A few enchantment/creature tutors will help keep things consistent, and the manabase has a handful of lands that create colorless mana. I also put in the on-color Cluestones from Dragon's Maze. I couldn't resist.

The basic game plan is to stall the game with Planeswalkers, using the various clue cards to keep up with card advantage. There really aren't many problems that fully-powered Planeswalkers can't take care of, and of course we have some fun artifact monsters to come down and Smite our opponent with the power of our investigative skills. Phelddagrif is there to act as the lovable mascot, though you could always spoil the fun and go with someone like Roon of the Hidden Realm.

Thanks for reading!

- Cassidy Silver

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