From Right Field: Gimme a “G!” Gimme an “r!” What’s that spell? “Gr?”

Let me start by saying that it looks like the MD5 block is going to shape up to be more diverse than I thought it would when I wrote last week’s piece. In my defense (and it looks like I’ll be the only one coming to that particular party), when I wrote the thing a few weeks before it was put up here, the MD5 metagame really did look like it was going to end up being Affinity versus anti-artifact and that was it. I’m glad that it’s looking like it will be more open than that, and as a reward, I’m posting a whole article full of Block decklists to tickle your fancy!

From Right Field: Gimme a”G!” Gimme an”r!” What’s that spell?”Gr?”

{From Right Field is a column for Magic players on a budget. 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 or the Onslaught fetch Lands for the colors they play. 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.}

The Appetizer

Let me start by saying that it looks like the MD5 block is going to shape up to be more diverse than I thought it would when I wrote last week’s piece. In my defense (and it looks like I’ll be the only one coming to that particular party), when I wrote the thing a few weeks before it was put up here, the MD5 metagame really did look like it was going to end up being Affinity versus anti-artifact and that was it. I’m glad that it’s looking like it will be more open than that. Having said that however . . .

The Main Course

Right off the bat, let me apologize to us cheap fargin’ bastages* for this deck. Aw, you know what? That wasn’t very politically correct. Since I resemble that remark, let me do that again.

… ahem . . .

I’d like to apologize to the financially challenged players who read this column and see that the deck I’m talking about this week has thirteen rares, not just twelve. The saving grace is that those thirteen rares cost a total of fifty dollars here at StarCityGames.com. In other words, they’re less than an average of four bucks apiece.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can say that one of the nice things about being a writer for a famous internet site like StarCityGames.com is that I get ideas sent to me from a lot of people. Some ideas are in the vein of”you should drink Draino with your lunch” or”you should play in traffic on the interstate.” Others are deck ideas. They come from all over the globe. I’ve had people send me e-mails from as far away as Paris, London, and Rome**. A lot of times, the deck ideas stink. Those are usually the ones that come from very close to home (e.g., my head).

Once in a while, though, they’re fan-freakin’-tastic. Like this one.

Before I get to the decklist, though**, I have to give props where props are due. This one came about through some idle chit-chat with my friend and deckbuilding cohort Karl Allen. We were e-mailing one day when we should have been busy working and the issue of Mirrodin Block Constructed (hereinafter”MD5″) decks came up.

Me: You have to be able to beat Ravager. The version that most people are playing in Standard is an MD5-legal deck. If it wipes people out in Standard, it’s not going to do worse in Block.

Karl: Why do you think people just don’t run mono-Red with all of that artifact hate?

Me: Except for Detonate, it all costs two mana. Some of it costs more. If you let Ravager get two lands out, things can get hairy.

Karl: Which is why so many anti-artifact decks in MD5 are running a lot of Green. They can play Oxidize. But I don’t like those mono-Green ones that are running all of those creatures for their artifact kill. There’s only one slot of one-mana artifact kill. And I hate it when people call Viridian Zealot a second-turn artifact destruction spell. You can’t use him until your next turn. So, it’s turn 3 at best.

Me: You know, if we went Green and Red, we could have Detonate and Oxidize. That’s eight turn 1 kills if the targets are artifact lands.

Karl: I like that. I’ll get back to you.

When he got back to me, here’s what he had:

Blow You Away

23 Land

10 Forest

10 Mountain

3 Mirrodin’s Core

21 Creatures (thirteen rares for $50.00)

4 Tel-Jilad Chosen

4 Viridian Zealot ($6.00 each – $24.00 total)

4 Viridian Shaman

4 Molder Slug ($3.00 each – $12.00 total)

2 Glissa Sunseeker ($2.50 each – $5.00 total)

3 Arc-Slogger ($3.00 each – $9.00 total)

16 Other Spells

4 Detonate

4 Oxidize

4 Echoing Ruin

4 Fireball

Each creature in here (except for Arc-Slogger), can kill or stop artifacts, and even the Slogger can pick off artifact creatures. All of the spells kill artifacts, too, except for Fireball, which just kills your opponent. Karl’s theory behind this deck was simple: kill artifacts early and often. If you let Ravager and Krark-Clan Ironworks decks get going, even a little, you’re fighting an uphill battle. The best way to keep them from getting a fast start is to kill an artifact land on turns 1 and 2. Then, you let your anti-artifact creatures do their jobs.

In theory, it sounded fine. In theory, so did pairing one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood with one of its biggest studs, a man who also happened to be an Oscar-winning screenwriter. The result there was Bennifer’s Gigli. In theory, jumping off the garage roof and flapping your arms real hard will make you fly, and we all remember how that one turned out.**** Theories don’t always end up being solid in practice. That’s why we test our theories.

What did actual testing bring? Karl sat down two Mondays ago with our friend Charles Dykes to play it out. Charles knows Ravager better than anyone I personally know. He was the first one I ever saw build the deck, doing so a couple of weeks before the complete Darksteel spoiler was out. He built it so early that, as he likes to remind us, he got his four Arcbound Ravagers for $5.00, shipping included! Karl is a former Tennessee State Champ and Pro Tour Concubine.

Blow Me Away beat Ravager nine straight times.***** Yup. Nine. They even switched playing the decks after a few games (as you should when doing proper testing) to make sure there wasn’t a problem with how one or the other was playing the decks. Nope. Blow Me Away just kept on winning.

9 and oh, baby.


Of course, the deck was designed to do beat Affinity. Eight spells can kill artifacts on the first turn. Four more (Echoing Ruin) kill them on turn 2. Another turn 2 play (Tel-Jilad Chosen) can block artifact creatures all day long. The three-mana Viridian Shaman is a known artifact killer. The Viridian Zealot can do the same on turn 3 with no fear of being killed before he can do his job.

Then, there’s the Molder Slug.

Q:”How do you deal with Elf & Nail’s Darksteel Colossus or Platinum Angel?”

A:”I make them throw ’em in the trash.”

Obviously, the Elf & Nail player won’t drop the Colossus until s/he can deal with the Slug, probably with an Oblivion Stone. That’s fine. The later they drop the Colossus, the better. Plus, the Slug beats for four. More on the Tooth and Nail matchup later, though.

But How’s It Play in Peoria?

We needed to test against a different MD5 artifact deck. I chose a Rene Kraft’s Krark-Clan Ironworks deck from GP Zurich found here.****** If you’re going to play MD5, you’re going to face Ironworks. This version is a bit different from many others I’ve seen in that it doesn’t have Goblin Charbelcher as an alternate win condition. Since it’s listed as one of the top decks from day one of that tourney, it was good enough for me.

Rene Kraft’s Ironworks deck – GP Zurich (2004)

18 Land

4 Great Furnace ******

4 Seat of the Synod

3 Tree of Tales

4 Vault of Whispers

3 Ancient Den ******

0 Creatures

42 Other Spells

3 Chrome Mox

4 Chromatic Sphere

4 Pentad Prism

2 Talisman of Dominance

2 Talisman of Progress

4 Krark-Clan Ironworks

4 Myr Incubator

3 Annul

4 Serum Vision

3 Fabricate

3 Thirst of Knowledge

4 Thoughtcast

2 Fireball

The testing here wasn’t nearly as perfect. Blow Me Away won seven of nine, though. Chrome Mox is very good at what it does. A first turn Oxidize or Detonate is often huge against Kraft’s deck. However, in two games, the KCI deck get an artifact land, a Chrome Mox with Imprint, and a Pentad Prism with two counters on it. ******** Obviously, an Oxidize isn’t that big in that case.

More typically, the KCI deck would get a land and a Chromatic Sphere. The Oxidize or Detonate on the land would be devastating. After that it was just a matter of killing any artifact land until the beats could begin.

Again, though, that’s how it was planned. Not that everything goes as planned. However, the deck was holding up well where it was designed to do so. How would it fare against the non-artifact-based MD5 decks?

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, and Nothing But the Tooth

Luckily, Manuel Bucher won GP Zurich with a Tooth and Nail deck. He called it”Britney Spears,” for whatever reason. (I have some ideas, but I can’t mention them on a family web site. Suffice it to say, he likes carrying around”Britney Spears” in his little box.)

Britney Spears – Champion – GP Zurich (2004) – Manuel Bucher

23 Land

1 Plains

1 Blinkmoth Nexus

4 Cloudpost

2 Stalking Stones

15 Forest

12 Creatures

1 Darksteel Colossus

1 Duplicant

1 Leonin Abunas

4 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Platinum Angel

4 Eternal Witness

25 Other Spells

2 Mindslaver

3 Reap and Sow

4 Oxidize

4 Sylvan Scrying

4 Tel-Jilad Justice

4 Tooth and Nail

4 Oblivion Stone

Eternal Witness. Ugh. She’s a hottie, no doubt. ********* But she kinda screws with Molder Slug. You see, Blow Me Away has essentially twelve dead cards against T&N. Typically, when the first artifact creature shows up, it comes as part of an Entwined Tooth and Nail with Leonin Abunas. It’s up to the Slug, then, to get rid of the Angel or the Colossus. The Witness just brings ’em back. Heaven forbid the artifact they sacrifice to the Slug is one they actually want to die (i.e. Solemn Simulacrum).

I’ll be honest. The matchup was awful. Tooth and Nail had a seven-to-two lead. That was enough for me. It wasn’t really as bad as the record looked, though. Blow Me Away was able to keep it close. Molder Slug is a great answer to the Colossus. When there’s also a Simulacrum or Oblivion Stone on the board, it’s not that great. In two of the five losses, Blow Me Away was almost able to pull it off. Almost doesn’t quite cut it, though.

So, what does an anti-artifact deck do about a deck that is almost artifact-less and protects the few it does have? The best answer we came up with was Grab the Reins. In this matchup, the T&N player will most likely bring in the Bringer of the White Dawn. Grab the Reins solves a lot of problems like the Bringer and the Colossi. Especially when you can throw a Colossus at a Bringer.

The win percentage for Blow Me Away was way up after taking out four Echoing Ruins for four Grab the Reins. The two decks split an even four to four. Not spectacular. If you lose game one and then split the next two, you lose the match. But, hey, you can’t win ’em all. **********

Can you?***********

My favorite thing about Blow Me Away, though, is simply that so many decks will be holding dead cards against it. Anything that’s aimed at artifacts is dead. I like making opponents’ cards dead. Plus, the deck applies the beats. I like beating, too.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Now, who wants to marry my dad?

Chris Romeo


* I’m a big fan of Roman Moronie from Johnny Dangerously.

** Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia

*** I am such a tease!

**** Summer, 1975, Youngstown, Ohio, two broken legs, no sympathy. I was nine so I”should have known better.”

***** While nine games is not, as any decent engineer, statistician, or Pro Tour Playa will tell you,”statistically significant,” we regular folks with families, jobs, kids, and lives don’t have the time to play a hundred games of each and every match-up. I dream of a heaven, however, in which I can watch The Red Sox win the World Series and play Magic as much as I want.

****** The decklist on sideboard.com’s page shows only fifty-six cards, only fourteen being lands. The presumption is that the deck would actually have been the required sixty cards and that there would have been four other colored artifact lands because of Pentad Prism. Thus, we had to add the fourth Great Furnace (due to the need for Red for Fireball) and three Ancient Dens.

******* It didn’t win Seven of Nine, of course, although, if the divorce accusations are true, Jack Ryan probably would have bet his wife on a Magic game.

******** Those were the games it won.

********* Right up there with Shelter woman.

********** If we had had the time, we would have tested the post-sideboard matches against Affinity and Ironworks, too. We didn’t. If anyone would like to test the post-sideboard for us, that would be keen. Thanks.

*********** Before this piece, I had only ever used an asterisked footnote once in a column. (Normally, I like parenthetical stuff like this. The reader doesn’t have to scroll to the bottom of the page. Plus, they’re sassier.) Ever. At least as far as I could find, anyway. I hate the buggers. And now you know why.