Eel or no Eel

One of the more surprisingly playable cards in old school magic is Electric Eel. It attacks for 3 on turn two if the mana is right, and it will trade with both Factories and Juggernauts. Once in a blue moon, it'll even trade with a Juzam or Erhnam. The winning deck of last n00bcon played the full playset of Eels and really showed off the card's potential.

At its most basic, an Electric Eel deck is a red/blue deck that uses Blood Moon and Energy Flux to punish the more powerful decks. It adds tempo with cheap creatures and lots of burn. It doesn't always play Electric Eel though, as the monetary cost to make it work well is surprisingly high.

For most of the decks in 93/94, you can build it reasonably fast, not have to spend lots of money at once, or make it "optimized". You can however only chose two of these three; if someone wants to build an optimized decks in a short amount of time, it will almost surely require a huge amount of money up front. Hence, the most common way to build a deck is to first build a reasonably cheap deck, and then optimize it over the coming years. The format is elitist in the way that players can't use the more obtainable reprints, and that players aren't entitled to play the "best version" of most decks without a rather big commitment in time and money. On the other hand, it's pretty including in the way that everyone is encouraged to play with what they have. There's no trash talking if you don't have access to duals or power, or play a casual pet deck. It's a casual community, and if you build a random Mana Vortex or Aisling Leprechaun deck, the high fives will be plentiful ;)

One deck that really can benefit from a slow build-up is the Electric Eel aggro, as it doesn't need power to work (unlike e.g. The Deck), but a piece of power or a dual will make it slightly stronger. The deck can be built reasonably well with only cards that cost less than $5; Flying Men, Unstable Mutation, Lightning Bolt and Psionic Blast from Unlimited, Phantasmal Forces, Black Vise, Dandan, etc. Once a shell is obtained, the more expensive cards can be added later. The top five cards to add are probably something like this:

1. Serendib Efreet
2. Blood Moon
3. Chain Lightning
4. Wheel of Fortune
5. Timetwister

When these cards are obtained, then we could start looking for the Volcanic Islands. Apart from the Timetwister, these four lands will probably be far more expensive than the rest of the deck combined though. This is why an Electric Eel deck may not actually play Electric Eel; the card will only really shine if the deck have access to Volcanic Islands. And then we'll have to ask ourselves again; do we really want to spend that time and money on duals, or would we rather build a new deck? At this point we're pretty close to a shell for e.g. the winning deck from WSK, or we could build Goblins or Suicide Blue or any other myriad of decks.

GaJol played a very nice "Eel-less Eel"-deck at Kingvitiational 1 in February. It will be interesting to see if he continues to work on this deck further, or if he chooses to scrap it in favour of another surprising Priest of Yawgmoth combo deck. Time will tell :)

The exact numbers of each card appears to be a secret tech.


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