From Out The Mouth Of Manders

Sure, we’ll give you a passing grade. But first, let’s break your back with assignments and comprehensive testing. Lovely. I doubt this conjecture. I’ve got some aspiration to Professorship myself and having suffered so, I have no intention of finding retribution beating out my students brains, scholastically speaking or otherwise. It’s got to be some…

Sure, we’ll give you a passing grade. But first, let’s break your back with assignments and comprehensive testing. Lovely.

I doubt this conjecture. I’ve got some aspiration to Professorship myself and having suffered so, I have no intention of finding retribution beating out my students brains, scholastically speaking or otherwise. It’s got to be some sort of acquired taste. I guess one can take only so many C-Minus essays about the Nichomachean Ethics before deciding that mediocrity really ought to be stamped out like the flames consuming a small dog. Cruel and harmful, yes, but if left untreated it’s likely to burn down the whole house, and then look where you are.

Nowhere, that’s where. Think of the children.

Oh, and while you were out, the whole discussion about relative merits of computer operating systems has been settled. UNIX wins with its trump card, the "oed" command. This little gizmo takes a word as a parameter and returns the Oxford English Dictionary listing for that word. Viz:

oed gannon : "It was a terrific party… Mr Mitchell played the spoons and Mr Gannon brought out his accordion and we had a singsong."

I trust there will be no dissent.

This week, I expose the latest obsession of Blake "Budding Pornographer" Manders: Dark Tide. I’ve found that it’s impossible to galvanise yourself against him. There’s only so much Mad Genius you can take in one sitting, and I’m seeing him at least five hours a day. It was more than inevitable that I’d crumble into one of his theories.

The fateful day came three weeks ago. The conversation went as follows.

Blake: I’ve decided what the best deck in Standard is.

My instincts say "RUN!,” but I make the fatal mistake.

OMC: Bargain?

Whoops. No turning back now.

Blake: Dark Tide. You see…


Blake: Manuel Bevand’s version is a few cards off…


Unfortunately, "Baby Got Back" is only seven minutes long. Criticise him if you must, but B.Q. Manders has stamina. That much is undeniable.

There will be a bit of remedial work for you if you aren’t up to speed. Manuel Bevand’s discussion of Dark Tide’s migration from UBC to Standard can be found here. I’ll be stealing a lot of what I talk about directly from him, so you’d best brush up.

"Credit where credit is due" is a bit of a foreign concept. Please bear with me. Let’s start with a decklist.

Darktide v2.1 (NO PANTS! mix)

4 Bubbling Muck

4 Turnabout
3 Peregrine Drake
4 Snap
4 Frantic Search

3 Raven Familiar
3 Vampiric Tutor

2 Stroke Of Genius
4 Prosperity
1 Yawgmoth’s Will

4 Miscalculation

12 Swamp
12 Island


The key elements are all there. The kill is the same, and the deck still usually waits until it has two Islands and two Swamps in play before thinking about going off. Yet it has changed.

Dangerously different, I’d call it. The differences between this version and its father are quite interesting.

Number of Bargains: 0. One of the reasons Blake likes Dark Tide so much is that it can go off at one life. Bargains were in the deck mostly to jumpstart you to a hand that will enable going off. However, since the deck fuels itself after the first Prosperity, the Bargain trade-off is simply that of a faster kill with Bargain, versus a slower, less disruptable kill without. Blake stresses that the speed boost given by Bargain was negligible. It made it "possible" to go off on turn three. It’s in the realm of quantum miracles; it is just as "possible" that Blake’s pants will leap a few feet off his body (Note: has happened).

Number of Dark Rituals: 0. These were necessary when the deck liked to put out a Bargain. Since the deck needs lands in play to go off, without a six-casting-cost enchantment to deal with, Dark Ritual doesn’t add a significant speed boost. You’d think that the extra fuel they provide to Prosperity would make them worth it. Apparently not.

Number of Raven Familiars: 3. The deck has no real turn-3 play. Against aggressive decks, the one-shot blocker is often enough to cement the victory. The search is amazing. Blake posits that if there were no aggressive decks, he would play Dream Cache in this slot. Brainstorm has been tested and rejected, mostly because it locks you into two draws that you might not want. The speed is again not worth it. And really, blocking never felt so good.

More Snaps and Peregrine Drakes: These do the legwork. Having more means more consistent draws. And we all know that homogeneity is the mark of an excellent combo deck.

Miscalculation over Duress: Blake fears Quash, but moreso he recognises that Miscalcs will slow down fast starts from Stompy and Suicide Black. The presence of Prosperity in the deck means that a counterspell is more effective against blue decks. He mentions that the Miscalculations take the place of one each of Vampiric Tutor, Raven Familiar, Peregrine Drake and Yawgmoth’s Will. He feels that the addition of these cards will not appreciably speed up the deck, and that the disruptive element is invaluable.

"The Cycling Power of Miscalculation is not to be ignored!" — B.F. Manders

And Good Gravy let’s not forget Prosperity!

What with Bargain absent from the deck, you need more cards early in the combo to get going. The extra two mana for Stroke of Genius is just too much to throw away. And giving your opponent cards is just shortening the kill, right? Right.

So the big question is: why? What sort of warped mind would play this deck?

Manuel Bevand mentions the key strength of Dark Tide: its near immunity to sideboard hate. Its only permanents are lands, so it’s unassailable by traditional means. Furthermore, it’s a relatively unplayed deck, so your opponents are likely to be unfamiliar with it.

Blake’s analysis has been overwhelmingly positive. He describes the deck’s speed as turn four-point-five. This is mostly to emphasise that the deck is definitely slower than Bargain, but only by a turn at absolute worst. Combine this similar speed with resiliency against most types of disruption, and you have a recipe for a winning combo deck.

The problem is that I really don’t trust Blake. I mean, I respect his abilities as a player and a theorist, but I can’t see Dark Tide being as good as he says it is. I’m pretty sure that’s just my blinders acting up. It’s not enough to demonstrate a deck’s worth to me, there’s a chemical imbalance standing in my way. I have nightmares about Blake getting me really drunk one night and then the next day I regain consciousness only to find that I’m playing Squirrel Jooky in a major tournament.

Figure this out: Blake has spent more playtest hours on Squirrel Jooky than on any other current Standard project. Does this sound like a man whose judgments you should heed?

I leave it to you, the screaming masses, to litmus-test this monstrosity. Feedback and questions will be dealt with as reflexively as possible.

Be warned, though, this deck isn’t a walk in the park to play. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t getting optimal results right away. Practise, and your decisions will become the right ones.

Here’s my current project. I’ve been looking over the almighty Bargain deck. You know, goldfishing, pie-losophising, thinking I know things. I’ve decided that if there’s a configuration of the deck that can make way for four Duresses without compromising the integrity of the deck, then you’re probably going to win hardcore. I’ve seen listings online that have three, so they’re almost there.

This is the thing: you really do only need two Bargains. Everyone runs three on the faulty idea that you need to prevent the unlikely occurrence where you draw up all your Bargains and still need Rector to go off. If you’re planning on being unlucky, why are you bothering to show up?

Merciful Heaven! Is it April already? What the heck am I going to play?

Josh Bennett
[email protected]

OMC: In order to clarify the fact that Blake "Ego inside and out" Manders and I are distinct humans, we will exchange mildly deprecating remarks.

Blake: The OMC treats people with respect, but begrudges them that respect.

OMC: Last night I saw Blake robbing graves.

Blake: Hey!

OMC: He’s also an arsonist.

Blake: What happened to "mildly deprecating?”

OMC: He also lends money only in emergencies.

Blake: Yeah, like that.

OMC: Fires he hands out like they’re going out of style.