“I’m all in.”
Yesterday, I discussed the concept of tempo as spending cards to survive long enough to achieve a tactical goal. Today, I’m going to show you a deck that
views tempo very differently. Thopter-Tezzeret wants to use its cards to gain as many draw steps as possible. In that process, however,
Thopter-Tezzeret was also building its mana base. An important part of wanting to buy time is the desire to accumulate mana.
Dragon Stompy wants to use its cards to deny its opponent the full use of their mana. After doing so, it wants to power out a fast clock that will kill
in two to four turns. If the opponent successfully fights through Dragon Stompy’s disruption, their cards are likely to be better. If they cannot
fight off a quick threat while being harangued by Blood Moons and Chalices of the Void, however, the power level of its cards is moot. Viewed in terms
of time, then, Dragon Stompy’s strategy is a near-perfect inverse of Thopter-Tezzeret’s.
“What’s the inverse of Tangle Wire?” you might ask. Read on:
Dragon Stompy is the most aggressive of the Ancient Tomb/City of Traitors decks. It perfectly embodies the notion of “high risk, high
reward.” Sometimes you cast Magus of the Moon on turn 1, and they have Island, Aether Vial. Other times, you cast Blood Moon on turn 1, and they
die five turns later with three Tropical Islands and two Flooded Strands in play. C’est la vie.
Just as Forgemaster
wanted to exploit the power of fast artifact mana, Dragon Stompy wants to exploit the explosive power of fast red mana. Dragon Stompy plays the same
eight pieces of artifact disruption as Forgemaster. Instead of fumbling around with Voltaic Keys and Goblin Welders, however, Dragon Stompy presents an
undercosted threat and demands an answer. How does it do that so effectively?
The major element of Dragon Stompy that sets it apart from other Ancient Tomb/City of Traitors decks is Simian Spirit Guide. With Simian Spirit Guide,
Dragon Stompy has much more reliable access to three mana on turn 1, enabling all the deck’s most broken openings.
The Little Ape That Could lets the deck play eight Blood Moon effects and expect to cast one on turn 1. Against many decks in the format, Blood Moon
turn 1 on the play ends the game on the spot. Sure, they don’t shuffle their deck up immediately, but do they really think they’re going to
find the basic Forest for their Tarmogoyf before you find some gigantic monster to eat them alive?
Even though the deck is half mana sources, Simian Spirit Guide is fine off the top because equipment allows him to be put right to work defending
against Merrow Reejereys and Tarmogoyfs. Imagine having a Mox Diamond that was a Mox Diamond on turn 1 but a Gray Ogre on turn 7. Nothing
game-breaking, but Little Ape puts in good, honest work.
Finally, Simian Spirit Guide allows Dragon Stompy to cast Seething Song, opening up the entire deck on turn 1. Every time Seething Song gets cast,
someone is going to get blown out. Maybe Arc-Slogger is going to make an appearance on turn 1. Maybe Arc-Slogger is going to eat a Swords to
Plowshares. Maybe Chalice of the Void is in play and is set to one and Arc-Slogger is going to BURN THEIR FACE OFF.
On a serious note, though: Blood Moon and Seething Song are truly incredible cards for an Ancient Tomb deck to have access to. Unlike MUD or Angel
Stompy, Dragon Stompy is not willing to let its opponent cast their spells. It attacks their curve distribution, their mana production, and their mana
base construction. Sure, they might have a fetchland on the play, but what if they didn’t include a basic Forest in their deck? If they only have
Islands and a Mountain for basics, they won’t be able to cast that Engineered Explosives for three.
If Blood Moon is in play, the whole notion of card selection in Legacy shifts. Brainstorm and Sensei’s Divining Top become depressing indicators
of just how doomed they are. They’ll never cast the creature removal spells that they have in their hand, staring passively back at them as they count
down their life in four-point increments, finally dying to a flurry of Arc-Slogger activations.
Seething Song. Seething Song is the anti-Tangle Wire. Where Tangle Wire is happy to trade the present for the future, Seething Song is all about going
to Atlantic City, taking out a marker for a couple thousand, and sprinting to the roulette table, and putting it all on red. If it hits, who cares
about the future? You’re rich. You won. And if it misses? Well, Seething Song knew that broken kneecaps were a possible outcome of this
In that manner, Seething Song truly epitomizes the all-in nature of the deck. The deck is capable of making strong plays that drastically narrow an
opponent’s available window of interaction, but such plays require a large material investment. It’s a high-risk, high-reward deck. No
gamble, no future.
So what is this deck supposed to beat? Well, given all my talk about casting Blood Moon against polychromatic control decks and my thoughts of shoving
Alex and all his fishy friends into a deep-fryer, you may have guessed that this deck is favored against four-color Counterbalance and most aggressive
Aether Vial decks. Of course, I say “most” because Qasali Pridemage is a gigantic problem for the deck. I would not want to sit down across
from Lewis Laskin’s deck with a hand full of Chalice of the Voids and Chrome Moxen.
Ultimately, however, if people are playing garbage like this in Legacy Daily Events on Magic Online:
…then I think it’s high time they learned what real nonbasic land disruption looks like.
In case you still haven’t gotten anything out of this series or were just one of the people who voted for Natural Order in my Twitter poll, fear
not! Join me tomorrow for the last part of my series on Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors, where I will talk about playing the best ten-mana creature