From Right Field: They’re Spectacular

Oh, man, I have discovered the deck. I mean, this thing has not lost a single game out of the hundred-plus games I’ve played. It doesn’t matter if the other deck is aggro, control, or combo, Pro-Tour-winning or rogue. I can’t wait to show you this Blue-Black deck featuring…

{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, twelve non-land 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 Dark Confidant, 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.}

Oh, man, I have discovered the deck. I mean, this thing has not lost a single game out of the hundred-plus games I’ve played. It doesn’t matter if the other deck is aggro, control, or combo, Pro-Tour-winning or rogue. I can’t wait to show you this Blue-Black deck featuring


“Yes, Craig?”

“You promised no Black mana this week since you’d run it into the ground over the past month.”

“But, Sir, this deck, it just annihilates…”

“That doesn’t matter. You made a promise to our readers. They have to be able to trust you.”

“Hurm… Well, when you’re right, you’re right. I can always bring it up again in a few months.”


“Thanks for keeping me honest, Craig.”

“No problem. It’s my job.”


Hiya! :smiley face:

How ya doin’?

Um, you see, I had this deck…

But I can’t write about it now.

Kinda stuck. Uh, hmmm, can you gimme a sec here? Just… lemme… *ghhh* … look through, uh, just a minute… my box of decks here. I know that — what’s that still doing in there? — I have a couple of… hey, extra copies of Remand; sweet… decks I’ve been working on.

Oh, hey. Green and White. I remember those colors. Loxodon Hierarch. Glare of Subdual. Congregation at Dawn. Watchwolf.

Except that this deck doesn’t have any of those.

Hey! Where ya goin’?

Look, I know that Glare’s been Some Good for the last year. Heck, Craig became the Last English Champion on the back of that card. The problem with putting Glare of Subdual in every G/W deck is that it makes the deck a Glare deck. You can have a completely different set of spells from Craig’s list — hmmm… I should start a web site with that name — and it’s still a Glare deck. As one who likes designing decks as a creative outlet, that doesn’t do a thing for me. If you want a Glare deck, look one up, make yours as close as you can, and switch out what you can’t. The deck I bring you instead is simply:

I came up with this because I just wanted to smash face with something. I didn’t want to counter things, bounce things, burn things, tap things, blow up the world, steal things, or ping things. I wanted to go “Rawwwwwrrrrrr!” like when my four-year-old nephew pretends he’s a dinosaur.

So, I went looking for efficient Green creatures. Spectral Force, of course, is now the platinum standard for that. An 8/8 Trampler for five mana with just a small drawback is quite nice.

A Rules Comment on Spectral Force

The Force’s ability triggers on it attacking. It resolves before blockers are declared. So, let’s say that you attack an opponent with one Black permanent, a creature. She blocks with that creature, and it dies a horribly squishy death to the 8/8 with Trample. Does the Spectral Force untap?

Yes, because, when you attacked with the Force, the opponent had a Black permanent (i.e. the blocking creature). It’s not whether it’s there at the end of combat or during your untap step. It’s whether there’s a Black permanent on your opponent’s side of the board when you attacked with Spectral Force.

The Force isn’t just cheap mana-wise. It’s cheap monetarily, too. This here site here sells them for $1.25 each as of this writing. That’s five dollars for a full playset or only a dollar and a penny more than you’ll pay for that on-demand p0rn flick that you’re going to order tonight on your Mom and Dad’s cable, just hoping that they don’t notice the charge on next month’s bill. Trust me, you’ll get more fun out of the Spectral Forces.

One creature does not a deck make, though, unless that creature is Morphling; Meloku the Clouded Mirror; Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir; Masticore; or any of those other Blue creatures.

“But Masticore isn’t Blue.”

Yes, it is.

The other creatures I was looking for also had to be efficient and either enable the big beaters or be a big beater. Sporesower Thallid falls into that second category: big; and efficient. This guy is a 4/4 for four mana with no drawback and an ability that can be awfully good. Normally, you’d want to abuse this guy in a Thallid deck, but, even as the only Fungus in town, he doesn’t stink (hah!). Two of them on board mean that each one is adding two Spore counters per trigger. Yummy. That ability, though, is just frosting on the cake (or, if you prefer, mushrooms on the pizza). He’s a 4/4 that can come out to play on turn 3.

He can come out on turn 3 because of that ubiquitous Green common guy(s), Llanowar Elves. The Elves can also get you a turn 3 Spectral Force by making a second-turn Yavimaya Dryad or simply by getting another Elves on turn 2.

Speaking of the Dryad, she serves a double purpose in here. Of course, she grabs a land, but she also has Forestwalk. When you couple that with Stonewood Invocation, Forestwalk can be delicious.

The final two creatures we need to discuss are the Scryb Ranger and Hunting Moa. I was going to do this whole thing on the Ranger being a flier and extra points of damage and Stonewood Invocation, but that would be intellectually dishonest. While those things may be true, the reason the Ranger is in simple: to untap the Spectral Force. If your opponent is playing Black, sure, you can keep lands in play and swing with him without bringing back lands. On the flip side, if they’re playing Black, they can probably kill him.

Unless you cast Stonewood Invocation or Avoid Fate (if the kill spell is an Instant or Aura). But I’ll be coming back to those cards. Gawd, I am such a tease. It’s why Scar-Jo dumped me.

The final body in the deck is the Hunting Moa. Do you like the 8/8 Spectral Force? Then, how about a 9/9 or 10/10? I thought so. Of course, he can also pump himself up or make your Scryb Ranger really formidable. Sorry. I said I wasn’t going to do that, didn’t I? Either way, a 4/3 for three mana (I know it echoes) (I know it echoes) is — say it with me — quite efficient.

The Choices Not Made, The Roads Not Taken

I considered and tested quite a few guys for this deck. I had Durkwood Tracker in here because of the games he’d won me in drafts. Not so good in Constructed, though. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. To use his ability, has to not attack. Yeah, that’s what Green wants. Big guys who sit there looking dumb. Ugh.

I also tried Seedborn Muse as a way to get guys untapped. Nice. Not a very efficient body. Of course, also, not really a trick this deck can abuse. You just want to untap the Spectral Force when there are not Black permanents on other side. With no other tricks like Centaur Glade, Seedborn Muse is essentially wasted.

Indrik Stomphowler almost made the cut and will probably come in from the board. Savage Thallid looked okay as a five-power creature for five mana, but that back end was just too small. Of course, with the Sporesower on board he regenerates twice as quickly, but that usually still wasn’t fast enough. Shock kills him, and I don’t like that in my five-mana guys.

There are no Birds of Paradise in here because they are a zero-power creature, and the ability to make different colored mana isn’t useful. There were times during testing when I wished an Elves was a BoP just so I could swing over for five damage thanks to Stonewood Invocation, but they weren’t as often as I was glad that I had the Elves. Besides, the Birds die to Squall Line.

Moldervine Cloak. Those two words are about as Green as it gets in the last year or so. I had wanted to work that spell into the deck. There’s not a lot of need for me to comment on its advantages. We should all know it by now. The only reason it didn’t work in here was that I wanted something that helped the Force even more than the Cloak did while also playing tricks with the other creatures. Wildsize and Stonewood Invocation just worked better. You won’t hurt my feelings if you try the Cloak instead of Wildsize, though. Just don’t drop the Invocation. Please, whatever you do, don’t drop that card.

The Tease Ends

All right, now, about those Instants. Yeah, I said that I didn’t want to counter stuff. What I meant was that I didn’t want to make another deck that sat there waiting. Avoid Fate counters things but only the things that are Instants (Putrefy, Mortify) or Auras (Faith’s Fetters) targeting your guys. It may be arguing semantics, but, to me, protecting my guy from your targeted spell is different from just wanting to stop you from casting as many spells as I can.

Stonewood Invocation does much the same thing. Depending on the deck I’m playing against, I might save the Invocation. For example, against a Black deck that can simply kill something dead, I hold the Invocation. I almost never cast it on the Spectral Force even though a 13/13 Trampler is scary because I want to keep them from killing it later.

Of course, the Invocation has Split Second. I love that ability. Can’t be countered. So, if the Force can end the game, the Invocation targets him. If it can’t, though, I will save it. I don’t think I can pimp this card enough. Spend the sixteen bucks and get a set if you like Green. This card will simply end games that shouldn’t be over yet. I honestly can’t believe that it’s only a four-dollar card.

Speaking of cheap, Spectral Force sells for $1.25 on this here site here. A buck and a Kotter?!? Get outta here! Five dollars for a set? You should have those if you like Green, too.

You know what else is only five dollars for a set? Those Squall Lines. This is another card that I don’t think I can overrate. As an Instant-timed (no more “speeds” in Magic, you know) Hurricane, it damages players, too. Thus, it can end games. It can also draw a game that seems lost. During one longer-than-it-should-have-been game, I was at one, my opponent was at seven, and he has lethal damage on board. I topdecked a Squall Line, and cast it for X equal to seven. Draw. Most often, though, it does what you typically want it to do. It wipes out an opposing Air Force.

Finally, we have Wildsize. I’ve been high on this card for a while. It gives a power and toughness boost, grants Trample, and draws a card. It can get extra damage though, save a guy from direct damage, or save him in combat. Did I mention it draws a card?

As this deck stands, the non-land rares cost only $26. If you count the cost of Scrying Sheets, a card that isn’t necessary in the deck but does add a bit of land thinning and card drawing, we’re still only talking about $36. If you want to add Avoid Fate into the cost, since you can get them at the low, low, low price of only one dollar each, you’re looking at $29/$39 for the cost.

(I still consider Hunting Moa to be an uncommon. Even though the Time Spiral version is quite rare, the original version from Urza’s Block still goes for fifty cents each or two dollars for a set. Quite frankly, I can’t bring myself to consider this a rare from any angle. The difference between this and Avoid Fate is the relative availability of each. Avoid Fate is not generally found in grab bags and fifty cent boxes because they just aren’t readily available. Because of that, I don’t have a problem calling Avoid Fate a rare. It’s much more rare than Hunting Moa, that’s for sure.)

The Other Color Rears Its Ugly Other Head

I came up with a version that also used White and, therefore, uses rare dual lands. Ach, Hans! Run! Rare lands!


Non-land rare cost: $26.00

The Last Time I’m Writing About This

Even though my new focus on using rare dual lands was applauded by some, most of those responding didn’t like it. The basis of their disdain seemed to be this: we can’t afford dual lands.

I don’t agree. I want to reiterate something, hopefully for the last time. All I’m doing with this “new direction” is making the version of the deck with the more stable and expensive manabase the default version while the version using the cheaper manabase is the alternate version. Before, I’d talk about a deck with a cheap manabase, and the deck might almost be good enough to win significantly more than it lost. Then, I’d give you a version with a better manabase.

That bothered me. It bothered me because some of the decks I’ve written about, after I altered them, turned out to be – surprise! – even better with the rare lands. Thus, I wasn’t even giving my own decks the best ride. Since I think you should be working toward purchasing in the dual lands that correspond to the colors that you like to play, there really isn’t anything radical about this philosophy.

Some folks said “We don’t need you to tell us that a Green and White deck can use Temple Garden. We know that we can put them in there.” Yeah, I figured you had that one down. You just don’t know how good the deck that I’m writing about can be with the dual lands. That’s the key. How much better, if at all, is the deck with the better manabase?

Just as an example, I played the G/w version of this deck with Selesnya Sanctuaries in the Temple Garden slot. The deck was almost as good, but not quite. Often, my two-land opening hands contained a Forest and a Sanctuary. Thus, unless I drew a Forest, there were no second-turn Yavimaya Dryads or Hunting Moas.

I am not, however, pumping other rares into the deck. These two decks, for example, could certainly use Birds of Paradise (say, in the Yavimaya Dryad slot) as a way to make it 75% more likely to get a second-turn three-mana spell or a third-turn four- or five-mana spell.

Faith’s Fetters? Sure. But Inspirit?!?

Laugh it up, fuzz ball, but the Inspirit does something special with Spectral Force. For one, of course, it allows him to untap when he normally wouldn’t. That means he can attack. Turning him into a 10/12 Trampler at the same time almost isn’t fair.

Less adventurous folks out there may want to try To Arms!, one of the very few Magic cards with non-comma punctuation in its name. It only does the untapping part, but it untaps everyone. It also replaces itself. In that way, it blunts the loss of Wildsize.

Which One’s Better?

It depends on which decks you seem to be facing off against. I know that that’s the common response, but it’s true. For example, if you see a lot of Glare decks, the second version is better because Faith’s Fetters stops Glare of Subdual from working. Ditto if you’re seeing a lot of decks that run only a few win conditions. Against the more aggressive decks, the mono-Green version has been better since the creatures tend to be bigger and come out more quickly.

The Test Gauntlet

I will admit that, against the decks that are winning Pro Tours, this isn’t doing all that well. Wrath of God isn’t a nice card when you want to just keep trotting out men with which to beat. So, Solar X decks pretty much rip it up unless Spectacular gets a rip-roaring start, which it can sometimes do. The same goes for Magnivore decks. On the other hand, it’s doing quite well against the beatdown decks.

The biggest problem this deck has is… Dark Confidant. It has no way to keep him from doing what he does best: draw cards. Spectacular has beaten several B/R decks running Dark Confidant, but it hasn’t been easy. The ones that focus on the cheap end like Satanic Sligh Redux decks have had more answers than Spectacular can deal with.

I don’t want to make things sound dire with this deck. If it were bad, I’d say so. I’m not shy about that. It’s not bad at all. However, like many (most?) brand new rogue decks, it doesn’t just run over the decks that have established themselves as the best in the field.

What this deck is, though, is fun. I set out to smash face, and smashing face I have done. I can’t count the number of times (okay, it’s four) that an opponent at thirteen or twelve or eleven let the Spectral Force through and was shocked by the quick death they suffered when I cast Stonewood Invocation on it. What the Force means is that they can not take anything for granted. Ten life is not a Safe Haven. That’s scary for someone sitting across from you, and that’s just plain fun for you.

As always with these decks, it’s not “done.” I know it could use work, and I expect you to do that work. Think of me as a consultant. I come up with an idea, give you a skeleton to work with, and you flesh it out. I want to hear about a deck like this winning you some packs.

Speaking of winning on a budget, if you started saving your ten dollars a week when I did, you should have thirty dollars unless you spent some on something. If you did, was it a good, wise, efficient purchase? Me, I only have twenty dollars left. I splurged and got my fourth Char. Was it worth it for me? Yes. I like Red. Char splashes. And I was tired of borrowing someone else’s. I didn’t want to lose it and have to pay ten bucks for a card that I no longer had to use.

Right now, I’m saving towards getting four of each common and uncommon from Planar Chaos. With shipping and insurance, I should be able to get those for somewhere around $5 to $50. That means that I only need to save for another three weeks. Since there’s a lot more than that between now and Planar Chaos’ release, I should have money for some extra cards by the end of 2006.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Insert your own funny line here.

Chris Romeo