CASUAL FRIDAYS #129: When A Radiate Deck Doesn’t Radiate, Does Anyone Hear It In The Woods?

Anthony tries to break the synergy between Seize The Day and Radiate… And seizes an extra week himself with an announcement on new column pacing.

Radiate has been on my mind a lot, lately.

Most of the casual community recognizes this Torment rare as the best multiplayer card to hit the scene since…well, Pernicious Deed wasn’t that long ago, but Radiate is still impressive. And it’s different. Fork is a weak comparison, though good enough for conceptual purposes.

I’ve mentioned in past columns the Seize the Day deck that I’ve built. Here’s a list for the sake of reference:


4x Goblin Legionnaire

4x Diving Griffin

1x Devoted Hero

4x Lightning Angel

4x Serra Angel

1x Tahngarth, Talruum Hero

3x Swords to Plowshares

3x Lightning Bolt

4x Fire/Ice

2x Shelter

2x Seize the Day

4x Radiate

lots of lands (old duals, new duals, and plenty of just basics)

If you’re trying to recreate, the only two rares you really need are the Radiate and Seize the Day. There are plenty of non-rare creatures that don’t tap to attack; without flying, though, you may need Order/Chaos or Demoralize to get the critical damage through.

Here are a few things you should know about the deck:

The Radiate – Seize trick doesn’t win. Honestly, in about ten games, I’ve pulled off the Radiate-Seize trick exactly twice. It won a team game once (nice), and wasn’t enough to win me a chaos game (where one of the last three opponents had large, flying blockers… Perhaps a single copy of Mogg Infestation would help me out of messes like that?). Finding a Seize the Day is not the problem – and I don’t think you need more than two, with flashback and all.

No, the primary block to this trick is the mana – even though eight mana (Seize at flashback) is perfectly attainable in multiplayer, our group happens to be going through this annoying Desolation Angel/Global Ruin/Obliterate phase right now, and it’s driving me bonkers. I constantly have to rebuild my mana, and too often, the last land I need to recover doesn’t show until just a smidge too late.

Every other Radiate trick works fine. I have, of course, played Radiate on other spells plenty of times, and that’s what makes the deck worth playing. Sometimes it’s on my spells (which are all one or two mana, on their own); and sometimes it’s on a juicy spell someone else casts. (My favorite was Temporal Spring, but the surly blue mage countered it.) And the deck does win, quite nicely, without casting Radiate at all. Trick decks are always more satisfying when the trick is surrounded by solid cards.

The Fire/Ice trick is too good. Decking is always an issue when you Radiate an Ice. Plus, everyone can figure out what the heck you’re up to when you start counting up all the permanents at the end of your last opponent’s turn. (On the other hand, it becomes pretty fun to fake having the combo -“Wait, how many tokens and lands to you have, exactly?… Hmmm….”) With more than four players, you need to accept that you won’t be pulling this off, ever. It is a nice closing move, though, when you’re down to your last couple of opponents and you still haven’t found that copy of Seize the Day.

Seize the Day on its own: Very good. In an army of flying non-tappers, even a single extra combat phase can be harsh. People just don’t expect two combat phases in a given turn (much less twenty or more, if the deck works like it’s supposed to!). If you get into a spite battle with someone during a group game, and they think they’re going to win the race, smashing them for eight through the air twice (and then having Seize the Day staring at them from your graveyard, ready for re-use) will quickly disabuse them of their petty notions.

Tahngarth: Still amazing. Players in our group still shake their heads when they see Tahngarth attack, and then pick off a potential blocker before anything else can happen. That’s just so wrong. And yet, it’s so right. Tahngarth also”seizes the day” really nicely. I swear there’s a borderline Standard tournament rogue deck in here somewhere, maybe just one mana away from making the scene. (I’ve pushed one on The Ferrett; we’ll see if he’s up for handicapping himself with my wacky ideas.) (No – The Ferrett)

Devoted Hero: Very situational. I always seem to get this jerk on the draw, which is just sooooo useless to me. And even once at threshold, he seems to attract an amazing amount of attention, so keeping enough WW’s open just doesn’t seem worth it. Of all the rares you shouldn’t chase just to play this deck, this is the first in line. Standing Troops (or another business spell, like Swords or Shelter) would be just as good most of the time, I’m sure.

So where does this deck go from here? I’m thinking it sits right on its ass and keeps doing what it does, thank you very much. The only changes I’m considering right now are adding artifact mana and perhaps two copies of a splashable counterspell, like Syncopate or Rethink. I’d probably chuck the Devoted Hero and perhaps a copy of Radiate, since having four is less essential than I thought.

What would I do with that fourth Radiate? Well, I’d find two more copies and make a second Radiate deck, since I don’t feel that all of the lovely possibilities of Radiate have been explored yet.

While I think they’re a lot trickier (and on average more expensive than the spells in the first deck), I’d start with Temporal Spring and Frenzied Tilling. Fire/Ice is an option again; but rather than retread old ground, let’s look at new possibilities, like Aggressive Urge and Repulse.

As for creatures, this deck is probably going to need lots of varied mana. Veteran Explorer and Quirion Explorer are two of the least expensive options I can think of – and aside from Radiate itself, we haven’t used a rare yet.

On the more aggressive side, our creatures would be best immune to blue spells like Repulse, but open to other spells (like Aggressive Urge). Spellbane Centaur will work here; and while they’re redundant, Yavimaya Barbarians are the best two-drop option for this deck. The Centaurs leave us free to consider a wide range of creature spells, from Beast Attack to Suq’ata Lancer. (Haste is nice when you may be recovering from a Radiated Temporal Spring.) Here’s where I’d end up, at first pass:

4x Veteran Explorer

4x Yavimaya Barbarian

2x Quirion Explorer

2x Spellbane Centaur

4x Suq’ata Lancer

4x Beast Attack

3x Temporal Spring

3x Frenzied Tilling

3x Aggressive Urge

3x Repulse

3x Radiate

heavy red/green mana…the blue is just a splash for the Spring and Repulse.

Looking over the list, I’m wishing there was a better way to take advantage of a mass Temporal Spring than just being free to stack everyone’s deck the way you want it. But come to think of it, maybe that’s enough.

If other people have interesting ideas on a Temporal Spring and Radiate deck, I’m listening. Typically I don’t have the time to put together all the great ideas I get from readers; but here’s a deck I’m thinking of building anyway, so strike while the iron’s hot! (And why would you want to strike a hot iron, you ask? I have no answer for that.)

A Closing Announcement

Anyone who hasn’t noticed that I’ve had a hell of a time keeping up with two weekly columns is either delightfully blind to my faults or not reading me in the first place. With apologies to the first group, and raspberries to the second, I must let readers know that I will be scaling back Casual Fridays to once every other week, starting immediately. As opportunities arise, I will pleasantly (or less so) surprise you all with a weekly pace. I would rather exceed a realistic commitment than continue to break an unrealistic one.

I will continue to post Serious Fun weekly each Tuesday at magicthegathering.com, and I have every intention of keeping a presence here on Star City, for as long as they’ll have me. I can do two things on this site – criticize Wizards on the few occasions when I get angry with them, and maintain traditions like Break this Card and the Hall of Fame – that I simply can’t do on the official Wizards site. And it’s also easier for me to do a column like the one I just did here, since the feel of Casual Fridays is more conversational. There’s value-added to each column; and I’m aware of it.

Thanks to readers, and especially Star City, for sticking with me through this change.


Anthony Alongi

[email protected]

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