Okay, so I have an overwhelming fondness for green/white decks.
Whenever a new set comes into play, look at all of the white and green cards first. Find a new reason to hate blue. If you do, write a column. Shuffle your library afterwards.
Originally, this was A Bad Thing; neither green nor white was particularly good when I started playing the game (right before Urza’s Legacy came out). Sure, green got Rancor in Legacy, as well as some dude who made lotsa squirrels… But Green always needed help. Usually, it turned to its old pal Red. White was left to wait by the phone on Friday night, checking the mirror every few minutes to make sure there was nothing stuck in its braces.
Okay, yeah, there was Blasto-geddon for a short while when Masques block was legal… But as usual, White was the bridesmaid, invited along only because it had Armageddon. (I conveniently disregard Rebels because that mechanic was just wrong. The Supreme Court even said so in an 8-1 ruling. Damn that Scalia!)
But over the last nine months or so, green/white has become a fairly respectable color combination. As you can see from the link, a lot of folks have qualified for their National tourneys with some pretty hefty G/W decks. And GW had a very respectable showing at States at the end of 2002, too.
Of course, this means that I have to weigh in with a G/W deck that doesn’t exploit any of the power of Anurid Brushhopper, Wild Mongrel, Elephant Guide, Glory, or Basking Rootwalla. It does, however, include Brushlands. Woo-hoo!
This Is NOT An Astral Slide Deck! (Even Though It Has Astral Slide In It)
A couple of weeks ago, I was playing tennis with my friend Josh Sharp while we discussed Magic. I’m completely confident that, in the totality of the known universe, we were the only two people who could say that we were playing tennis and discussing Magic: The Gathering at the same time. So Josh says, as well as I can remember it,”You know what? **grunt** [cross-court forehand that I have to dive to get] I think **grunt** [another forehand, this time to my backhand side on the other side of the court] that Hunting Grounds **ughh** [lobbing the ball over my head] would be good with all the cycling going on now. **grunt** [forehand smash that just misses taking my face off]. What do you think?”
“I think I need some Powerade.”
Of course, the seeds had been planted. We spent the next hour or so running around like fools, chasing a little yellow ball and discussing Magic. Other than the discussing Magic part, it was like being a puppy. Now I know why puppies are so darn happy all the time; chasing around little yellow balls is a blast, especially when women come up and scratch you behind the ears.
As is typical for me, I had to come up with a name for the deck first. When Judgment was first released, I could never just say”Hunting Grounds” – it was always”Hunting Gwounds,” like Elmer Fudd would say. (I also can’t help saying”Leftenant Kirtar.” It’s just a party for my tongue!) If you’re always saying”Hunting Gwounds,” it’s not long until your deck is called”Hunting for Wabbits.” This evolved into”Wabbit Season.”
Dear Chris, Please Get On With The Deck.
Josh is right, you know. There are a lot of decks hitting Threshold right now and not even exploiting it. This deck does. But, honestly, it’s not an Astral Slide deck. As a matter of fact, the last card we added was Astral Slide, since it just seemed to be a natural what with all of the cycling going on.
But we’ll get to that later.
We knew that the deck wanted to do two things: Stay alive long enough to hit Threshold, thus exploiting the Hunting Grounds, and drop critters that we wouldn’t normally have a chance to cast. The deck has to be green and white because of Hunting Grounds. The”staying alive” part pointed directly to Renewed Faith, Moment’s Peace, and Wrath of God.
However, there’s no way that some cycling lands and Renewed Faith would be enough to get us through the deck. So we started looking at big, huge cycling creatures – guys that we’d like to cycle early in the game and then drop for free later on. Krosan Tusker and Hundroog (Hundroog! – The Ferrett) leapt to mind right away. We cycled through (pun intended) a bunch of other creatures like Barkhide Mauler and Macetail Hystrodon, but none of those seemed quite good enough… Because, as Josh pointed out, we might have to cast one of these at some point, and we wanted something that could do some damage.
Was there anything better? Yes. Primoc Escapee. I like 4/4 fliers for free.
The final creature was the one that I’m Josh wanted in there all along: Phantom Nishoba. In fact, I’m pretty sure that he starting thinking about Hunting Grounds just so he could find a way to reliably get the Nishoba into play. You think 4/4 fliers for free are good? I promise; 7/7 lifegaining tramplers that take seven combat phases to kill are better.
Especially if you can reset the counters with Astral Slide.
But before we had Astral Slide, we had Aether Burst; the problem was the mana never worked out correctly, even with Krosan Tusker. Many games were spent holding green spells or Wrath of God with not enough of green or white mana because of the Islands in play. By limiting ourselves to a single blue slot – one that we hoped never to have to actually cast – we could use just a single Island, fetchable with the Tusker.
Speaking of fetching, if you want to spend the bucks, Windswept Heath is really good in this. (And you do – The Ferrett, pointing out that your dollars subsidize Chris Romeo – and Rob Dougherty, too, just in case you don’t like Chris. But who doesn’t?) Which also reminds me about another land that’s good where Threshold is involved: Nantuko Monastery. Conveniently, it takes GW to activate its ability. Funny how it works out like that, innit?
When all was said and done, here’s what we had:
4 Secluded Steppe
4 Tranquil Thicket
3 Lonely Sandbar
3 Krosan Verge
2 Nantuko Monastery
4 Phantom Nishoba
4 Hundroog (Hundroog! – The Ferrett)
4 Krosan Tusker
4 Primoc Escapee
OTHER SPELLS 20
4 Moment’s Peace
4 Renewed Faith
4 Wrath of God
4 Astral Slide
4 Hunting Grounds
I must say that the deck is more fun than a roomful of drunk monkeys with typewriters… Which is to say, just a tad less fun than watching the Iraqi”Information” Minister explain how there are no Americans in Baghdad while he simultaneously takes delivery of a Domino’s pizza from PFC Langston.
Now’s the time on Sprockets when I tell you how the deck does.
How To Play It:
Get Hunting Grounds or Astral Slide into play. Cycle the flying circus out of your deck. Neutralize threats. Hit Threshold. Drop huge monsters. Swing. Win.
How It Does . . .
AGAINST R/G (Kai’s version; you know, the good one)
This is a 50/50 matchup. If they come out hot, hard, and fast, and you don’t get all of the creature control you need, it’s hard to survive. Often, you are hard-casting Renewed Faith. But you can often stabilize at nine or so life – which is too high for their burn to get you. This is when you drop Phantom Nishoba, gain the life back, and win. Watch out in game two, as they will bring in Threaten to take the Nishoba and beat you about the head and neck with it; save a cycling card to send the Nishoba away.
AGAINST U/G Madness
This is much more in the favor of Wabbit Season, thanks to the Slide. Wurms never come back.”Hey, your Mongrel flies. Cool. So does my Primoc Escapee. You wanna ditch three cards to save your Mongrel?” U/G Madness doesn’t have enough counters to stop everything that it needs to, especially when you can drop Hunting Grounds on turn 2. And don’t be shy about doing that, either; most U/G decks have no way to get rid of an enchantment once it’s in play – at least, in game one. (Others, however, read my columns and have two slots devoted in the maindeck to enchantment destruction, as all green and/or white decks should today.)
You’re thinking that this is bad, aren’t you? Well, you’re half-right – but probably for the wrong reasons. The creature control that MBC has is almost all sorcery-timed. The instants (like Smother) are utterly useless against this deck; the Chainer’s Edicts and Innocent Bloods aren’t very good. In response to an Edict, which my opponent hopes will hit my Phantom Nishoba, I can drop another creature – say, a Hundroog – thus allowing me to sac that instead. Or I could Slide the Nishoba out.
No, where MBC hurts is Haunting Echoes. Sadly, the sideboard tech for that is either Morningtide or Bearscape, both of which hurt the Hunting Grounds. Games two and three thus become long, drawn-out affairs. So win game one and then hope that game two never gets completed.
NOTE: I am not advocating stalling. Ever. But this matchup takes a long, loooooooong time to play out. He gains life and takes yours away with Corrupt. You gain life back. He tries to kill a creature. You cycle something. Like I said, a long time. But as control-on-control goes, it’s pretty fun. More fun than cleaning out that nasty crud that smells like rotten sweat socks from the garbage disposal, anyway.
Ever notice how some people will throw out rogue decks and claim that they beat everything? I do. I notice, I mean, not that I do that. Rather, I do notice that people say that.
Anyway, I could say that this deck rolls over ‘Tog… But it doesn’t. It’s not an auto-loss, but it’s very, very hard to do. Basically, you want to gain as much life as possible. Most of the games I won were due to the fact that the ‘Tog deck couldn’t kill me in one attack phase.
By the way, have I mentioned how much I hate blue?
This one made my head hurt.”I’m Sliding out your Escapee.””Then, I’m Sliding out your Exalted Angel.””No, you’re not ’cause I’m Sliding it our first. Nyah!””Mom! He stuck his tongue out at me.”
This comes down to being able to gain more life than they can gain. And it’s really boring. Bring Ray of Revelation for your sideboard. Also, some caffeine would be good.
Not Another Suggestion For Living Wish!
Yeah, sorry. But Josh did come up with a great idea that we started looking at. It turns out that none of the individual pieces of creature control are absolutely necessary. So, why not take out one each of Moment’s Peace, Wrath of God, Astral Slide, and Renewed Faith and add four Living Wishes? Imagine putting some of these guys into play for free:
Symbiotic Wurm: Yeah, he’s good in Reanimator. And he’s good here, too;
Exalted Angel: Slide decks already like this puppy. Why not exploit it even more?
And, my personal favorite:
Scion of Darkness: Imagine dropping this into play for free. Yummy.
And, of course, there are tons of others that would be tons-o-fun to drop into play for free. Have fun picking and choosing.
As usual, you’ve been a great audience. We’ll be right back after these words from your local station.