Reth from Germany is back with the second part of his article!
During the first part, we talked about several possibilities to get your hands on your cards when you need them by ideally selecting the necessary card(s). This kind of access is provided by using more or less “selective” effects during the game.
To get even more access into your decks, you can complete these abilities by adding random access effects which do not provide you the appropriate card(s) directly but increase the possibility to get them!
Drawing is by far the most famous effect, especially to create speed. Drawing lots of cards boosts chances to get the one(s) you currently need, although it also entails the risk of having to discard later on if you can’t get your hand size down by the end of your turn.
Drawing effects can be used during almost all phases of your (or even your opponent’s) turn! One famous example is The Angel Under the Oak, which (next to lots of other powerful CBN effects) lets you draw 2 cards right in the beginning of your attack. But also on defense you can use this kind of speed, such by playing giants and using Hebron. In addition, many cards give you drawing possibilities while your opponent is trying to draw cards – examples are Envy and Nicanor (EC). Furthermore, during battles you can take advantage of speedy enhancements like Words of Encouragement, Reach of Desperation, or the various Horses cards, e.g. Two Thousand Horses, often see play, which interrupt and let you draw (before you most often can play another enhancement).
Reveal/Look and Select/Take abilities let you view some of the cards of your deck – either from bottom or top – and select/take one or more of them to your hand (or even put them into play). Look or Reveal abilities alone do not provide any kind of access by themselves, but when combined with a Select or Take ability, they become a mighty tool to either speed things up or get you to the cards you need. Well-known representatives are Egyptian Magicians, Astrologers, or Search. Others are Shimei, Japheth, Michal, Alexander, Nunc Dimitis, Inspection, Plague of Blood, Eve or several Demons.
Shuffle can be considered as a somewhat hybrid form of access, since most often a shuffle ability lets you choose a certain card but the access to it becomes random/indirect due to the shuffling of this card into your deck. A well known example for shuffling cards (in this case from reserve) is the famous Gain Lost Soul – another one is the artifact Chariot of Fire. Other examples are Asher, the new The Winged Lion, Offering your Son or The Emmaus Road.
Access appropriate abilities are just “one side of the medal” (as we literally say in German); getting your cards from all your piles adequately is the other one. In the past, drawing cards from your deck was the most common way to improve access, supported by several abilities which allow for getting cards back from discard pile (recursion). Meanwhile, times have changed. While deck access still seems to be predominant, getting your cards from Reserve and discard pile are catching up (and in some builds, they are even equivalent or sometimes even predominant!).
So when incorporating access methods into your deck, think about where you want to get your cards from and even when (in terms of during the match) you need them. Which cards are most useful for your concept during mid or late game? Perhaps those should start in Reserve.
Hence in my opinion, one (sometimes crucial) part of deck consistency is to have the right mixture of access to your several piles and within all periods of the game.
But sometimes this is hard to achieve. One reason is that not all themes/concepts/strategies/combos benefit from the same level of access possibilities. This can be sometimes compensated by profiting from your opponents’ access abilities and utilizing them for your own advantage e.g. by using Envy, Golden Cherubim, Nicanor or the famous Music Leader.
However, even if you prepared your access methods properly, your opponent(s) might not want you to access everything and try to lock you out from your piles – for instance by using Hezekiah’s Signet Ring or Nazareth. In cases like these fortunately, there are lots of counters available like Three Woes or some of the several (Artifact-, Site- or other) counters that are available like Destruction of Nehushtan, Paying Taxes, Forest Fire, Regrets, Treasures or War, Razor, Persian Conquerors, Abram’s Army, or one of many others.
Hopefully you enjoyed this little recapitulation of current ways to get access to your cards, even if most of you already know about them and use them intuitively without further contemplating.