My last couple of columns have generated three types of e-mails: A ton of it has been concerning a lack of humor. I was expected to be something like The Next Rizzo. Or at least The Next Blisterguy.
Look, I’m trying. As someone once said,”Dying’s easy. Comedy? Now that’s hard.” (I’ve been looking for the original source on that; it’s been attributed to everyone from Buster Keaton to Charlie Chaplin to Mel Brooks.) Sometimes, I just need to get out these cheap decks for the scrubs out there.
This brings me to part two of the complaints: Not enough of the Onslaught cards. Again, I apologize. I’m still not comfortable with many of the cards yet. But, I do have to mention one thing. In my Anger deck, please, don’t use Rites of Spring; use Krosan Tusker instead. I can not stress enough how great that card is. Rites of Spring was supposed to help get the Swamp so you could play Zombie Infestation. It also facilitated Madness… A little. The Tusker, though, gets the land you need and draws a card. It’s one more mana, but it can be done with instant timing.
Finally, the third complaints wanted more pictures of hot chicks. That’s up to Mr. The Ferrett. I mean, we wouldn’t want this to turn into a site with lots of pictures of nearly-naked co-eds and tennis-playing blondes in micro-skirts… Would we? Hmmmm…
Um, no. No, we certainly wouldn’t. We want Magic! If we wanted women, we wouldn’t spend our Friday nights and Saturdays in dimly-lit, crowded, noisy rooms with…
Wait a second. Yes, we would. That describes every bar I every got thrown out of in New Orleans. Forget I said anything.
“Now, you don’t stand for that. Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill ’em right back”
– Capt. Reynolds, FIREFLY (Really, the show’s a big ball o’ fun)
If you’ve read any of my stuff, you’ll know that I have a predilection for playing white. People in my life have different theories about this: My Mom thinks it’s because I value good over evil. My brother thinks it has something to do with whatever reason that makes me root for underdogs like The Red Sox and The Saints. My therapist says that I have a Fear of Success, otherwise I’d play blue.
No one really knows why. What matters, though, is that I do plumb the depths of white. And right now, I’m hooked on Clerics. Sounds like a CD, doesn’t it? Remember those cheesy pseudo-orchestral cover albums in the ’80’s like Hooked On Classics? I hope this experiment is as successful without being as embarrassing.
The problem with Clerics is that they tend to be small and weak. They have abilities like preventing damage and helping you choose a new color scheme for the living room. But then Wizards R&D had to go and give us a really, really great Cleric; that would be the Doubtless One.
This lovely lady is great – but only if she has a lot of company, so we’re looking at a white weenie-type deck. The next thing we have to do, then, is find some other Clerics… And as the old joke goes, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that there will be a lot of Clerics in Standard/Type II come November 1st. The bad news is that some of the best ones are actually going to be expensive rares, both in terms of casting cost and monetary value.
For example, True Believer is a living Ivory Mask. In other words, it renders Chainer’s Edict useless as well as a ton of direct damage.
“Chainer say what?” Not with this guy on the board. Then there’s Weathered Wayfarer, a.k.a. Tithe on a stick. With the actual Tithe rotating out of Extended, this guy’s gonna be expensive to buy.
There is one rare Cleric that’s still inexpensive, though: Master Apothecary. You may not remember him, because he’s from waaaaay back in Odyssey. Or you might not remember him because he’s a white creature. Either way, he turns all of your Clerics into damage prevention.
Another Cleric with a highly useful ability is Beloved Chaplain. Sure, there are spells that can kill him… But creatures can’t. On the flip side, you have to remember that you can’t use any of your Clerics’ damage prevention abilities on him. We’ll take that, though, because he stands in front of Grinning Demons, 6/6 Wurms, and Nantuko Shades all day long.
Okay, so that’s three creature slots. We probably want six, since that would give us twenty-four Clerics… And here’s where we start getting thin. If money was no object, we’d just use True Believer, Weathered Wayfarer, and another one from Odyssey, Devoted Caretaker.
But money is a consideration. Maybe we should look at another color.
“What,” you say.”Another color has Clerics?” Yes, Virginia, black makes Clerics, too. And there’s an uncommon that’s a whopper: Cabal Archon.
Think about that ability for a second: You can block with a Cleric. Then, if it’s going to die, you can pay B and sacrifice it for a four-point life swing. Granted, it works against the Doubtless One’s static ability there, but she doesn’t mind going from a 5/5 to a 4/4 in that case.
Really. I asked her. She’s okay with it.
One thing we’re missing so far is a first-turn Cleric. Again, we have Weathered Wayfarer and Devoted Caretaker… But those are outside the price range of this deck. The best Cleric for W is Benevolent Bodyguard – but again, this one’s ability works against the Doubtless One’s. As with Cabal Archon, though, not a problem. If the Bodyguard can save Doubtless One from a Ghastly Demise or an Aether Burst, that’s A Good Thing.
Okay, one to go. And there aren’t a whole lot of choices in the lower casting-cost arena. We sure don’t want to spend the five or six mana that an Ancestor’s Prophet, Glarecaster, or Daunting Defender costs. We’d rather cast two 3-cc creatures instead.
So, what do we have? Nova Cleric is a nice one-drop; it’s a 1/2 for one mana, and that ability could come in handy. Yet again, though, this one would also work against Doubtless One. That’s just too many working against the Doubtless One. Instead, we’re going to use another Onslaught Cleric: Battlefield Medic. In case there isn’t a Master Apothecary on the board, this one can prevent a lot of damage.
We have our 24 clerics, so we know it’s a weenie deck. Our highest casting cost is four (Doubtless One). But that’s only one slot; everything else is three or less. This means that we’ll only need twenty-two lands, leaving us fourteen support spells.
I am still a big fan of Morningtide in the maindeck for white. That’s another one of those cheap rares… But we probably don’t need four of them, since we’ll almost never want to cast it on the second turn.
I am also a huge fan of Reprisal. Most of the creatures that any deck right now is afraid of has power of four or more . . . or can get there easily. Arrogant Wurm, Wurm tokens, Nantuko Shade, Grinning Demon, Wild Mongrel.
Of course, I have to have Shelter in here. It’s a common, and it can save one of my important creatures. Also, as everyone should know by now, I have a huge crush on the woman on there… Whoever she is.
That leaves us with three cards. I’ve always liked white cards that give a blanket protection. That can either allow us to save everyone who’s blocking or to have an alpha strike. To me, that points to the new card Akroma’s Blessing; the fact that it also cycles is just a bonus. Speaking of cycling, we’re also going to use Secluded Steppe: That will give us something to use to draw once we have enough lands.
Which leaves us here:
Father Nelson’s Favorite Deck
LANDS – 22
4 – Swamp
3 – Tainted Field
2 – Secluded Steppe
13 – Plains
[NOTE: If you can find a way to get Starlit Sanctum in here without messing up the mana base, go ahead and do it.]
CREATURES – 24
4 – Benevolent Bodyguard
4 – Beloved Chaplain
4 – Battlefield Medic
4 – Cabal Archon
4 – Master Apothecary
4 – Doubtless One
OTHER SPELLS – 14
3 – Morningtide
4 – Shelter
4 – Reprisal
3 – Akroma’s Blessing
This deck is one that you’ll have to be patient with; you can probably get a few points of damage in early with a Bodyguard or a Chaplain, but you may have to start defending early. (Make that probably – The Ferrett) Remember, Wild Mongrel costs the same to get out as the Chaplain. Once you get your defenses up, however, you can start to gain life by blocking with the Doubtless One or by Sheltering her and attacking, leaving the others back to sacrifice themselves for the good of the team.
War: What Is It Good For?
So, do you want a more expensive Cleric deck? Have you got some extra money and were thinking,”How could I blow $150 on a B/W Clerics deck?” Well, here’s your answer: Along with the two white rare Clerics that Onslaught brought us, we also got two great black Clerics: Rotlung Reanimator and Doomed Necromancer. This gives us a deck that looks something like this:
LANDS – 22
5 – Swamp
3 – Tainted Field (or, more likely, any of the black fetchlands – The Ferrett)
12 – Plains
2 – Secluded Steppe
CREATURES – 28
4 – Devoted Caretaker
4 – Weathered Wayfarer
4 – Beloved Chaplain
4 – Cabal Archon
4 – Rotlung Reanimator
4 – Doomed Necromancer
4 – Doubtless One
OTHER SPELLS – 10
4 – Shared Triumph
4 – Shelter
2 – Wrath of God
The weirdest thing about this deck will be the mana base. Your black spells all cost three mana, and you have many, many white spells to play before then… So don’t be shy about dropping Swamps or Tainted Woods for Plains if you find that you need them.
There you have it. The next great Clerics decks. Use them carefully.
Finally, I wanted to add a couple of things to my list of preparing for States or any big tourney. See, even I wasn’t totally prepared.
- Shuffle Your Opponent’s Deck – Don’t just cut it. If s/he’s stacked it, cutting alone won’t help. If he hasn’t stacked it, you’re just randomizing it more. An honest player won’t mind if you shuffle their deck.
- Bring Extra Sleeves – You’d be surprised at how many people split sleeves and then don’t have any backups.
- Don’t Sleeve Your Sideboard – I have seen many people lose games due to improper sideboarding and de-sideboarding. If your sideboard isn’t in sleeves, you never make that mistake.
As usual, you’ve been a great audience. When you get to the bar, make sure to tell ’em Romeo sent ya.