From Right Field: Could This Be Your G/R Regionals Deck?

Dr. Christopher Romeo J.D. turns a scientific eye to his most recent deck idea (G/R Anti-Jitte) and comes up with one of his most witty and entertaining articles of the year.

{From Right Field is a column for Magic players on a budget or players who don’t want to play netdecks. The decks are designed to let the budget-conscious player be competitive in local, Saturday tournaments. They are not decks that will qualify a player for The Pro Tour. As such, the decks written about in this column are, almost by necessity, rogue decks. They contain, at most, eight to twelve rares. When they do contain rares, those cards will either be cheap rares or staples of which new players should be trying to collect a set of four, such as Wrath of God, City of Brass, or Birds of Paradise. The decks are also tested by the author, who isn’t very good at playing Magic. His playtest partners, however, are excellent. He will never claim that a deck has an 85% winning percentage against the entire field. He will also let you know when the decks are just plain lousy. Readers should never consider these decks “set in stone” or “done.” If you think you can change some cards to make them better, well, you probably can, and the author encourages you to do so.}

Last week, Dr. Christopher B. Romeo, J.D., drew on some broad canvases about how to build a rogue deck for Regionals. One of the decks he mentioned was a Green/Red Anti-Jitte deck complete with its own Umezawa’s Jittes. That deck was outside of the parameters set for From Right Field (i.e. too dang expensive). With help from Dr. Romeo, we took it upon ourselves to mold his deck into a Jitte-less anti-Jitte deck.


A G/R deck heavy on creature-based artifact kill can be good against the presumed Regionals field.

Acknowledged Facts

Everyone and his incontinent sister will be playing at Regionals with: (a) Umezawa’s Jitte; (b) Vedalken Shackles; (c) Sword of Something and Something Complementary; or (d) some combination of two or more of the above.


Dr. Romeo enlisted the help of Dr. Dewey (expert in decimals and statistics), Dr. Cheatham (prestidigitology, shuffling, and sufficient randomization), and Dr. Howe (annoying questions) to assemble and randomize the following cards against several decks that had already proven their mettle. Those cards were:

G/R Anti-Jitte (a.k.a. “G/R AJ”)

Our experiment was conducted under ideal conditions. The ambient temperature was 68 degrees F (i.e. standard, comfortable room temperature). The beer was at 34 degrees F (i.e. nice and cold). The waitresses were 1,000,000 degrees F (i.e., hot, hot, hot to trot). Dr. Cheatham wielded the first opposing deck, Mono-Blue Control (hereinafter referred to as “MUC”). We rolled a pair of dice to determine who would go first. Dr. Dewey noted for the record that a total of seven on a roll of a pair of six-sided dice was the mode (i.e. most common outcome). The waitresses acted enthralled, but keen observers from the Alpha-Beta House (a type of honor society for those excelling in inter-gender socialization) said that they were “just yankin’ yer chain for tips, doc.”

In an effort to get a true read on the effectiveness of our deck, opposing “net decks” were not allowed to begin the game with less than six cards in hand. If a hand would have been mulliganned to five, the “net deck” would draw six. In this way, we would eliminate victories that the G/R Anti-Jitte deck did not truly earn. The test deck, however, would mulligan as usual.

Historical Abstract on MUC

Throughout the long and storied history of Magic: The Gathering (hereinafter “MtG” or “Magic”), anal-retentive basket cases whose mothers controlled there lives (and often still do) have gravitated toward Blue-based “control” or “permission” decks. The attraction is clear. After years of mental abuse, the Blue mages desired finally to be the ones to say “no.” Many Blue Magic cards that are collectively called “counterspells” or “countermagic” essentially tell an opponent, “No, you can not play that card. You will ruin my strategy,” much as the Blue mages’ mothers would say “No, you can not play outside. You will ruin your seersucker pants, the neighbors will think I’m not a good mother, and I won’t be invited to chair the steering committee for the Tulip Festival.”

The MUC deck continues this tradition by combining a suite of countermagic to stop certain spells and an artifact called Vedalken Shackles (a.k.a. “Shackles”) to control the creatures that the MUC player graciously allows to see play. Once the game is firmly in hand, the MUC player will cast Meloku the Clouded Mirror, and win the game with a stream of flying 1/1 Pest tokens.

Strategy Against MUC

MUC wins slowly and methodically, much as the MUC player’s mother emotionally emasculated him slowly and methodically. The plan of attack with the G/R Anti-Jitte deck was to play threat after threat, using the anti-artifact permanents to eliminate any Vedalken Shackles that might be played or to nullify their usefulness by having Troll Ascetic on board since the Troll can not be targeted by an opponent’s Shackles. One of the ultimate anti-control cards, Eternal Witness, is featured as a way to return countered spells.

Outcome vs. MUC

Out of ten games, G/R AJ won an astounding seven. Dr. Dewey cautioned us that ten games were not statistically significant and that we would need an order or two of magnitude more to get publishable results. I reminded Dr. Dewey that time is a finite resource and that ten games would have to do. Dr. Dewey attempted to “hook up” with the red-headed waitress named Alexa. His advances were rebuffed, but he did pick up some digits. The authenticity of said digits has yet to be determined.

The unexpected success of G/R Anti-Jitte seemed to be a direct result of having so many “must-counter” spells. Even Predator’s Strike became a “must-counter” spell because of the fact that a Troll Ascetic or even a Sakura-Tribe Elder could get the final points of damage through past a single Illusion token. In essence, G/R AJ overwhelmed MUC with threats.

Future Experiments vs. MUC

The second and third games will prove interesting in testing. The MUC deck can bring in Hibernation, which can seriously hamper G/R AJ’s ability to “bring the beats.” On the other hand, G/R AJ can side in Choke and/or Boil. Boil would seem to be a better choice since MUC also has access to Spectral Shift. Against Boil, Spectral Shift suffers from The Wrong Answer Syndrome™. That is, if the MUC player does not have Spectral Shift in hand when the Boil is cast, it won’t matter if they draw it later. However, against Choke, Spectral Shift is good whenever it’s drawn.

Another good sideboard choice could be Tornado Elemental. [See also Arashi, the Sky Asunder from Saviors, including fantasticoridiculo art by Kev Walker. – Knut] The Elemental is an efficient 6/6 creature for seven mana (5GG) with two abilities that could potentially be devastating to MUC. First, it deals six damage to each creature with flying when it comes into play. This would kill Meloku and all the tokens. Second, it can deal its combat damage as if it weren’t blocked. That is, as one commentator put it, “a kick in the sausage and eggs for MUC, I tell you what.”

Historical Abstract on G/B Control

Green and Black haven’t always been used together. Often, this was because it was so hard to get the mana to work. (Birds of Paradise was typically the only way to access the Black mana needed to make a G/B deck.) Given the fact that Green and Black are “enemies” on the color wheel, this was logical. However, deckbuilders have always liked the idea of using these two colors together. Green made the big, bad creatures while Black controlled the board. Once in while, someone like Mike “What’s That Card Doing There?” Long would do well with a G/B deck, but the successes were few and far between. Then came Sol Malka and The Rock and His Millions (a.k.a. “The Rock”), named after Phyrexian Plaguelord (who looked like the professional wrestler called The Rock, nee Dwayne Johnson) and the many token creatures that the Deranged Hermit brought into play for use and abuse by said Plaguelord. From then on, any deck that was Green and Black became known as The Rock. Purists, however, call Plaguelord-less G/B control decks G/B Control. (If you wanna be The Rock, bring The Rock.)

The current crop of G/B Control uses superior mana acceleration to power out a Death Cloud that leaves the opponent with no lands, no creatures, and no cards in hand while leaving itself with a couple of lands and sometimes even a card or two in hand thanks to Solemn Simulacrum (a.k.a. “Jens” or “Solemn Speedbump”). They typically run no artifacts except for the above-mentioned Speedbump or Sensei’s Divining Top, though newer versions may run Umezawa’s Jitte as a way to combat opposing Jittes. The Divining Top is nearly impossible to kill given its second activated ability. However, the Elvish Scrapper, Glissa Sunbather, and the Hearth Kami can take out the Top thanks to timing rules (i.e. “how the stack works”).

Strategy Against G/B Control

As simple as it sounds, the only way to beat G/B Control is to win before it does. That means holding no threats back because it does no good. For example, let’s say you held two creature cards in hand with two on board. If those are your only cards in hand, a Death Cloud for two will wipe out everything. With both in play, it would require a Death Cloud for four.

Outcome vs. G/B Control

G/B Control won a commanding seven of the ten games. Dr. Howe was very vocal concerning his pride in winning seventy per cent of the games, telling other patrons that he had made me his “bee-ahtch.” The results, however, were not surprising. The G/B Control deck was able to get more mana thanks to the Solemn Simulacra and an extra Kodama’s Reach. This allowed it to be ahead when casting Death Cloud. In addition, with no way to block fliers, Kokusho was able to end some games two turns after it was cast, thanks to the new Legend rule.

Future Experiments vs. G/B Control

A good sideboard choice against this deck might be Rushwood Dryad, coming in, most likely, for Hearth Kami. With its Forestwalk ability, it could easily provide the evasion necessary to push the G/R Anti-Jitte deck over the top against G/B Control. However, with such a poor game-one winning percentage, it seems unlikely that G/R AJ will win many matches. A switch after sideboarding from a seventy-per-cent losing percentage to a seventy-per-cent winning percentage would merely suggest a split after game two and require the same high level of winning in game three to pull even. Given that G/B Control will also be sideboarding, the consensus is that this is “a lost cause.”

Historical Abstract on Tooth and Nail

There is very little history on Tooth and Nail decks compared to Blue-based control decks and G/B decks. This is simply a quirk of history. Tooth and Nail did not even exist until Mirrodin was released in the Fall of 2003. Prior to Tooth and Nail, however, people were always looking for ways to get huge creatures into play more quickly that their mana costs would allow. Typically, this strategy took the form of “reanimation.” That is, the creatures would somehow be discarded and then brought directly from the graveyard to play via a spell such as Exhume, Living Death, or Reanimate. One in a great while, a permanent such as Sneak Attack or Elvish Piper would allow a player to get the bigger creatures into play more quickly, but Black reanimation remained the preferred method.

Preferred, that is, until players found a way to use Cloudpost (in the Twelve Post deck) or Urza’s Power Grid (so-called because the mana is “juiced” once all three Urza’s lands “come online”) along with the Green mana acceleration to power out huge creatures against which very few viable strategies existed. For example, an Entwined Tooth and Nail that brought both Leonin Abunas and Platinum Angel into play was often “game over” since the Angel could not be directly dealt with until the Abunas was gone. Once Darksteel was released and gave players the “bomb rares” known as Sundering Titan and Darksteel Colossus, things got even worse. Last Fall, the saturation point was hit with the release of Champions of Kamigawa and the ludicrous Kiki-Jiki, Ballbreaker. After Champions, players could cast Tooth and Nail with Entwine, grabbing Kiki-Jiki and Sundering Titan or Darksteel Colossus, and get two Sundering Titans or two Darksteel Colossi, one with haste. It is universally agreed that this is “nasty.”

Strategy Against Tooth and Nail

Tooth and Nail is a slow deck, essentially doing what combo decks do: ignoring the opponent while forwarding its own strategy. However, once the Tooth and Nail deck hits its mana, it can go from almost losing to winning big in a single turn. The only way to win is to beat T&N before it can get enough mana for an Entwined Tooth and Nail.

Outcome vs. Tooth and Nail

Happily, these two decks split the ten games. Often, the Tooth and Nail deck would have a chump blocker such as Eternal Witness only to see several points of damage trample over thanks to Predator’s Strike. However, Tooth and Nail’s wins were, as expected, stunning. Sundering Titan and Kiki-Jiki can destroy three or more of G/R AJ’s lands per turn, a devastating effect that often resulted in scoopage (i.e. concession of the game).

Future Experiments vs. Tooth and Nail

The two sideboard cards that seemed most useful would be Sowing Salt (for slowing down the mana acceleration of Urza’s Power Grid) and Rushwood Dryad. The combination of land destruction and Forestwalk could put the G/R AJ deck over the top against Tooth and Nail.

Historical Abstract on White Skies

Ever since Crusade was available, players who liked playing White decks could play decks featuring fast, efficient, White creatures, overwhelming their opponents with early threats. Today, the archetype is a turn slower, thanks to the replacement of Crusade with Glorious Anthem. Two White Weenie archetypes that see the most play in Standard today are White Weenie, dominated by fast ground creatures such as Savannah Lions and Isamaru, Hound of Konda, and White Skies. Using between twelve and twenty flying creatures, Glorious Anthem, and Umezawa’s Jitte, White Skies essentially ignores the opponent’s deck (other than the occasional Ethereal Haze or Holy Day to prevent deadly combat damage) and flies over for the win. Sometimes, these fliers are complemented by Samurai of the Pale Curtain, Savannah Lions, or Isamaru, Hound of Konda. However, the heart of the deck is the flying creatures.

Strategy Against White Skies

G/R Anti-Jitte should make the Jittes wielded by White Skies a non-issue. However, the Glorious Anthems can be a problem. Given that G/R AJ has no maindeck way to deal with the Anthems, it must simply attack all out, using Predator’s Strikes to get through damage and possibly Fireball to end it all.

Outcome vs. White Skies

White Skies was victorious in six of the ten games. While G/R AJ did its job in regard to Umezawa’s Jitte (it was a factor in only one game), the most problematic card for the test deck was actually Ethereal Haze. In two games, combat phases that would have won the game for G/R AJ were nullified by Ethereal Haze. (Of course, had White Skies not been holding the Haze, it wouldn’t have attacked all out in the combat prior to that, either.) While the ten games came out close, G/R AJ was still on the losing end. Currently, White Skies is a “rogue” deck. Opponents should worry about it.

Future Experiments vs. White Skies

Tornado Elemental would be a clear favorite to in against White Skies. Wear Away would also have to be considered. Tornado Elemental, however, has a natural maindeck enemy in White Skies: Ethereal Haze. Unlike the typical so-called “Fog effect” (so named because of the classic Green card called Fog), Ethereal Haze doesn’t simply prevent all combat damage that creatures would deal for the turn, a la Holy Day. It prevents all damage that creatures would deal for the turn, combat or otherwise. This means that Ethereal Haze can nullify the Elemental’s triggered comes-into-play (hereinafter “CIP”) ability.

Historical Abstract on Mono-Green Snakes

There is no history for this deck. Mono-Green Snakes have only become viable with the release of Betrayers of Kamigawa and the cards Umezawa’s Jitte and Sosuke’s Summons. However, a random polling of the hotties bringing us beer shows that Snakes are overwhelmingly considered “yucky.”

Strategy Against Mono-Green Snakes

Hammer them as hard as you can as fast as you can.

Outcome vs. Mono-Green Snakes

Mono-Green Snakes won six of ten games thanks to the chump blocking tokens created by Sosuke’s Summons. As with White Skies, the Jitte was not a factor (except in one game). The problem was the card drawing afforded by Seshiro the Anointed. As usual, Predator’s Strike was helpful in getting damage through and over token creatures. Sadly, it was often not enough.

Future Experiments vs Mono-Green Snakes

This is another matchup in which Rushwood Dryad seems a good fit. Often, G/R Anti-Jitte could simply not get the final few points of damage through. The Dryad could do that.


To answer the question posed at the beginning of this experiment (i.e. “Could This be Your G/R Regionals Deck?”), probably not. Dr. Romeo continues to attempt to innovate, and this is admirable. However, the deck again falls short of beating up on the top-tier decks. In part, this stems from the fact that the top-tier decks are so freakin’ awesome. However, G/R Anti-Jitte is fun to play and pulls off some surprising wins. Other observations included that the waitresses at Melons™ were very attractive and that a day without light is like night.

Dr. Christopher B. Romeo, J.D., Dr. Eldred Dewey, Ph.D., Dr. Harley Cheatham, D.D.S., and Dr. Thurston Howe, PPD (Rain)



These columns are written about a week or two in advance. As you read this, Dr. Romeo is finishing a week of vacation that coincides with his first anniversary. This may mean that he won’t have a piece for the next week (Friday, May 27th). That will all depend on his wife’s plans for the week ending the 20th. If there’s any time, he will write a new piece. He won’t, however, just toss one off to get something published because that wouldn’t be fair to . . . oh, who am I kidding. If I have ten minutes or so, I’ll write something, and you’ll read it or else. – Chris