From Right Field – Onward Kithkin Soldiers

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I made a Kithkin Soldier deck. I know. I can’t believe it, either. Me, Chris Romeo, building a White Weenie deck as his first one using the latest cards. Go figure. I wanted the goodness of Clash in there somewhere, to smooth the draws. This is the part where you scurry to figure out which card with Clash I could possibly use in a White Weenie deck. It’s Springjack Knight.

{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. The author tries to limit the number of non-land rares as a way to limit the cost of the decks. 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 Sulfurous Springs, Birds of Paradise, or Wrath of God. The decks are also tested by the author, who isn’t very good at playing Magic. 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.}

It’s been a quiet week in Knoxville, Tennessee, my hometown. Mike Cooper and his crew stopped by and fixed our outdoor water leak. Yes, we have indoor running water again. It’s true what they say. You really don’t miss your water ‘til your well runs dry. At first, it was kind of cute. “Honey, I need to wash my hands,” Luanne would say, and, like some burly frontiersman, I’d go outside and get her some water. . . by turning the water main back on. “Chris, you need to wash the dishes,” and out again I’d go to make sure we had water coming into the dishwasher. “Darling, I need to flush the toilet,” and it was raining. This was when I realized that I would not have made a very good settler. I can do without a of the things that most people deem essential. I could really do without a cell phone, for example. I could not, however, go outside every time we needed water or had to go to the bathroom. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to read Funny Times in an outhouse. No electricity for a light.

We also finally got our new computer. The one we had been using was a little over eight years old. See, kids? You can actually make things last if you take care of them and know how to add memory. That actually set me back a day and a half, though. I’m still not over this dizziness/wobbliness thing. Setting up the computer gave me the spins for a day or so. This is not a good sign at all. If I’m going to get back to work, I have to be able to sit at a computer all day long with very little time away. If it still causes me to be so dizzy that I can’t drive and I get nauseated, I can’t go back to work. And we need the money. Hey, who doesn’t, though?

I also got to play with Lorwyn cards. I got my four sets of commons and uncommons in the mail, and Lorwyn was released on Magic: The Gathering Online. At this point, I need to be a real man and admit that I was wrong about something. In my “review” of Lorwyn, I wasn’t sold on Clashing. I am now. You see, I was focusing on winning the Clash. After playing with some of the cards, I realize that that’s just half of the Clashing goodness. The other half is that second part, the part’s that essentially “Scry 1.” “Oh, another land? Don’t need that. To the bottom you go.” I guess the hardest part has been not just hitting the “OK” button on MTGO, an act that means that your revealed card will go on top of your library.

Speaking of which, why can’t they standardize all of these choice buttons? It used to be that, if a card allowed you to tap or untap something, for example, it would ask “Do you want to tap that?” We’re geeks. Of course, we all wanted to “tap that.” Now, you get two buttons: “Tap” and “Untap.” Do that with all of the choices. With Clashing, give us “Top” and “Bottom.” That’s all we need.

I know what you’re thinking. Why is Clash coming up? Well, I made a Kithkin Soldier deck. I know. I can’t believe it, either. Me, Chris Romeo, building a White Weenie deck as his first one using the latest cards. Go figure.

This is the part where you scurry to figure out which card with Clash I could possibly use in a White Weenie deck. It’s Springjack Knight.

Before I go any further (and to give you a chance to stop laughing), I am going to apologize up front if this deck is like one that did well at States or one that some other writer has talked about. (Of course, if it is, Craig will probably reject the article anyway. If that happens, you’d never know it. Kinda like the person who writes “If you don‘t get this fax, let me know, and I‘ll send another.”) I still can’t surf the ‘net with this disease I have. I have no idea what the hot decks are after States other than the ones I’ve discussed with Evan, Joe, Landon, and the rest of the Krewe. On the other hand, I’d probably pee my pants if I found that this deck had done well at a big tournament. Not that I don’t think it’s very good. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just that I’ve never developed a really top-tier deck, and it would be nice to find out I had… even if someone else had done it first.

I had my first experience with Springjack Knight when I won a Clash while he was attacking and then played Triclopean Sight on him. My opponent had no blockers and took six damage. Not bad for two li’l ol’ commons.

That was the second thing that really got me going about this deck. It is almost exclusively commons and uncommons from Lorwyn. There are a couple of Coldsnap commons and uncommons, a four-of slot of a Tenth Edition rare, and three cheap Lorwyn rares. The bulk of the work, though, is done by cheap, both monetarily and mana-cost-ily, Lorwyn cards. Nice to know for those of you who, like me, got your Lorwyn deck sets but haven’t been able to get a bunch of rares yet. Lemme just show you the deck right now, and then I’ll get into the unusual cards choices.

I think most of these cards will speak for themselves, but I may still have some sort of entertaining insight. Let’s start with those five lands that don’t produce any mana on turn 1, the three Terramorphic Expanses and the two Windbrisk Heights. The fact of the matter is that this deck only has one slot of spells that you really and truly want to drop on turn 1, and that’s the Goldmeadow Stalwart. It’s true that the Harrier and the Gelid Shackles could both be played on turn 1 if you needed to play them, but it’s rare that you need to. The Harrier is best when it can tap down some big threat in a game that goes a bit long. As for the Shackles, let’s face it. There just aren’t that many one-mana creatures that you need to stop that the Shackles can actually stop. You could put it on a Birds of Paradise, I guess. Mogg Fanatic is just going to jump out from under it, though. Having those five lands didn’t hurt the deck’s performance. However, if you want to drop the Expanses, I understand. I just like thinning out my deck more than most people.

Windbrisk Heights has been huge in this deck. In one of the first games I played with this final version, I removed a Field Marshall with it. On turn 4, I swung with three guys, the Cenn’s Heir that I’d played on turn two and the Wizened Cenn and Stalwart that I’d played on turn 3. My opponent let it all through, and I used the Heights to bring the Marshall into play. That extra two points of damage ended up being huge, and I won. What I’m saying is that, even if you switch the Expanses out, leave in the Heights.

“If Field Marshall is so great, Romeo, how come there’s only three of them in here?” Good question, Rudy. The reason is simple: not enough Soldiers. The Wizened Cenn, Springjack Knight, and Knight of Meadowgrain aren’t Soldiers. Given what they do, though, I found them to be quite helpful. I also found a single copy of Mirror Entity to be wonderful investment. He’s a Soldier. He’s a Kithkin. He can make your army ridiculously large if you get “too much” mana.

As you may have noticed, I mentioned playing a Triclopean Sight on a Springjack Knight, but there are no T-Sights in this deck. That’s because I put in more creatures. Besides, Surge of Thoughtweft is much better. Why? Because it draws a card. Okay. Fine. It’s conditional. You only draw a card if you control a Kithkin. Other than having the thing meet a counterspell, I’ve never cast it and not drawn a card.

While I’m on non-creature spells, I have to mention Oblivion Ring. I think most people agree that this is one bombshell of a card. It removes any nonland permanent from the game. (Void where Protection from White, Protection from Enchantments, and Protection from Three-Mana Spells prohibit.) The downside – that the removed thing comes back when Oblivion Ring goes away – isn’t all that much of a downside unless and until people start packing main deck Enchantment removal.

And Oblivion Ring is a common. Removes anything except for lands from the game. Common. I don’t get it. I’m glad about it, but I don’t get it. I keep trying to figure out how Wizards decides what’s going to be rare, what’s going to be uncommon, and what’s going to be common, and I still can’t figure any of it out. Look at it this way. Thoughtseize is a thirty-dollar card. It also rids you of one nonland card. It’s a rare. Looks a lot like Duress, doesn’t it? Why is Thoughtseize a rare while Oblivion Ring is a common? Again, not that I’m complaining. If the O-Ring was rare, it would be a ten-dollar card, and we like that it’s common. I’d just like to know the reasoning behind which cards get to be common and uncommon and which ones get to be rares.

The creature suite seems obvious, now that I’ve worked through a bunch of versions. At one point, I had Avian Changeling. It’s a 2/2 flier for three mana. It’s a Kithkin and a Soldier. So, it’s often a 3/3 flier. The three mana was too much with Oblivion Ring, Springjack Knight, and Field Marshall in the deck. Then, there was Kinsbaile Skirmisher. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It didn’t quite work out, though. When a Skirmisher without Haste comes into play with no one else around, its ability is pretty much wasted.

On the flip side, believe it or not, I didn’t have Cenn’s Heir in the deck until later. After having played with it, I can see what a bad idea that was. Of course, I thought my reasoning for not using it was sound. He’s only good with other Kithkin attacking. How good could it be? Pretty good. He was often attacking as a 4/4 or even a 5/5 if there was a Wizened Cenn or Field Marshall on board. Knight of Meadowgrain also wasn’t in there at first. I was approaching the deck as a Soldier deck, and the Knight of Meadowgrain isn’t. That was wrong of me, and I apologize to the entire cadre of Knights of Meadowgrain.

You want to know how it plays, though, don’t you? I’ll tell you this because you look like a smart guy. She runs like a dream. Those six first-turn creatures followed by an entire crock pot full of two-mana creatures make this deck corner like it’s on rails. You could be swinging for three on turn 2 if you get a Stalwart followed by a Wizened Cenn. It recovers from mass removal pretty well simply because it keeps drawing creature after creature and has some cad drawing. Don’t overextend, and you should be fine. You should gain enough life from the Knight of Meadowgrain that you can outlast all but the very best Red Weenie players. Remember how just one Faith’s Fetter was often enough for White decks to beat Red ones? Well, the Knight of Meadowgrain is like that, ya’ll, and that’s the way it is.

I seem to remember a Black deck and a Blue-Black deck whipping this thing, but, I, uh, kinda lost the files when I got the new computer. I was in the middle of backing everything up when the old one finally quit completely. It was kind alike how certain celebrities held on to life just long enough to see the calendar flip from 1999 to 2000. The old Commodore 64 stayed alive long enough to let me get a new system and get the most important files transferred over. Then, it gave up the ghost.

After I got the new computer up and running, I did get to play a couple of more games before I had to start writing this column. By “a couple,” I mean in the strictest sense. I played two more games. The first was against a Mono-Red Weenie deck with all of the usual suspects. Mogg War Marshal. Incinerate. Rift Bolt. Greater Gargadon. Mogg Fanatic. At the end of the game, I was at nineteen life. Like I said, that Knight of Meadowgrain does nice work.

The second game was against Rivien Swanson and his Mono-Black deck. That one pretty much tore me apart. He had more removal and many fewer lands. (He said he was running only eighteen.) I never had a chance to get any lifegain going. I couldn’t keep more than one or two creatures on board at any time.

In the end, I was impressed with this deck. Of course, I usually fall in love with White Weenie decks. This one, though, seemed to be special. I never felt out of control except against those removal-heavy mono-Black decks. The right spell always seemed to be on the top of the deck. I played creature after creature and backed them up with some nice removal in Gelid Shackles and Oblivion Ring. If I had a place I could play real cards, I’d be there this weekend with this deck.

Sadly, I don’t, and I can’t. Oh, but if I could…

If you have the money or the cards, there is one big change I’d make. Add four Flagstones of Trokair. The more you can thin out this deck, the better it’s going to run.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Tune in next week when Uncle Johnny says “Who has the keys to the outhouse?”

Chris Romeo