I hope that all of you multiplayer dudes out there are as blessed as I have been when it comes to having stellar playgroups. I have now had three very good, fun groups in three time zones (including Arcata time, where everything runs ten years behind) and nary a bad playa in any of them.
One of the greatest things about multiplayer games is seeing those twisted, sick, convoluted combos your mates try to pull off on you – and I gotta tell you, sometimes when they pull them off it brings tears to your eyes. I’m not talking tears of bitter defeat, but of the glory of witnessing the utter beauty of crap cards when they come together in such an awe-inspiring manner that it takes a while to fully understand what just happened. Folks, this just happened to me recently and I am still waiting to have the wires removed from my jaw after a high-velocity, gravity-assisted collision with my tabletop. In fact I think it went through the table, penetrated my midriff, and allowed me to taste corn in two different forms simultaneously.
Before I reveal the deck that has left me on a strict beer diet, I have to tell you a few things about the deck’s creators. The main perpetrator, David blahblah (who never did tell me his last name – but I bet he will now!), is a recent returnee to the grand game after several years’ absence and, since he is a”poor” college student and didn’t keep his old stuff, he has a pretty small collection. He was apparently just hanging out with our friend Chris blahblah (no relation), looking through David’s meager collection to see what kind of sickness he could put together with what little he had, when whatever they were smoking gave them a vision of the seventh plane of hell. They translated that into the following pile of festering pieces of cardboard detritus that, when converted to monetary value based on StarCityGames prices, probably approaches negative values (and I named it myself, since David didn’t give it one):
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Overeager Apprentice
3 Morality Shift
4 Goretusk Firebeast
4 Soul Scourge
2 Balthor the Defiled
2 Stitch Together
2 Insidious Dreams
2 Diabolic Tutor
4 Faceless Butcher
4 Mesmeric Fiend
I mean, look at that steaming pile! Only four rares, and the only good ones are the Balthors. Cabal Ritual? Morality Shift? Overeager Apprentice?! Ha!!!!
Hey, don’t laugh. He’s actually mana acceleration that works!!
Man, where do I start? Well, it’s obviously a combo deck that revolves around Balthor – but how? Hmmm….Well, it uses a lot of creatures with comes-into-play abilities, and it gets them all into play at the same time. All from where, you ask? Why, how about a graveyard that was once your library?!
Enter Morality Shift.
It took me a bit to catch the complexities of this maniacal concoction, but I’ll try to lead you through it. Basically, what you want to do is to just survive until you can get a Balthor into play (or a Stitch Together in hand) and enough mana to cast Morality Shift and use Balthor’s ability the same turn. You’re talking ten mana, minimum – but with this deck, it’s not too hard to generate it by turn 6 or 7. Until then, cast your pathetic creatures only to stem the tide if you are getting attacked. When you’ve ramped up to enough mana sources and accelerators, you need to do the switcheroo with Morality Shift. You’ve got three copies and four tutors to grab one and a Balthor – the other piece of the combo.
There are a lot of different ways in this deck to get Balthor into play and generate the mana for the combo: That’s where Overeager Apprentice, Stitch Together, and/or Cabal Ritual come into play. The Apprentice allows you to generate three black mana and get a card into the ‘yard (such as Balthor) and gets you closer to threshold for Stitch Together and Cabal Ritual. He also allows you to dump creatures into the ‘yard after a Morality Shift so they can be reanimated by Balthor’s Ability (paid for by the Apprentice!). Insidious Dreams also puts stuff in hand into the ‘yard and helps towards threshold. After you cast Morality Shift you will have threshold so your Rituals and Stitch Togethers will be at full power, and you can easily cast or raise Balthor and use his ability the same turn.
So let’s say you have Balthor in play and have cast Morality Shift. What now? Check that graveyard – see all those juicy CIP abilities on those critters? Want to abuse them to your heart’s content? Go ahead, then; activate Balthor’s ability!
4P>Can you say game over?!
It is, you know! Congratulations! Oh, there’s a bit of sorting out to be done; after all, you have to be careful of the order you put your creatures into play and you have the small matter of dealing with anyone else who has black and red creatures to put into play along with you. Here’s how I would do it: First, I’d use the Mesmeric Fiends to sit on anyone I suspect of holding onto a instant mass hoser-type card, such as Starstorm. If they cast it, it’s bad times for you… But just maybe you’ll catch them with their pants down! After that, pull up the Soul Scourges and point that life loss at the most threatening player. Twelve to the dome, right there! Next up are the Goretusk Firebeasts. Another sixteen damage to throw around! After that, see who’s left alive and use the Faceless Butchers to take out their biggest blockers. You’re about to steam-roll them…. But they don’t know it yet!
After that comes the Anger. Kind of useless right now, but… Hey, is that Gloomdrifter flying around up there? Why, I have threshold thanks to all those lands in my ‘yard – thanks! Aw, Anger dies – and so do my Firebeasts. What a waste… But wait, I still have a second Balthor and all these Overeager Apprentices sitting here! What am I to do? Well, how about I attack first with all my hasty critters (except Balthor), then pull up all those deaders again with Balthor – and those juicy Firebeasts! That’s another sixteen damage, folks! And oh by the way, I can attack for a lot my next turn! Cool, huh?
That’s the deck, folks! Great fun for all those on a Magic”diet” as it’s cheap to build! If you’ve got the cards, though, I’d add four Laquatus’s Champions somewhere just for the extra 24 life and 24 attack damage, but that’s just me…and I’d maybe stick in a single Recoup to use Stitch Together or Morality Shift over from the grave if I had to. Take it from me, though, the deck works just fine without them! And two Balthors are all you really need – any more and they cancel each other out when they jump out of the grave together. One thing to really be on the lookout for with this deck are those irritating control players, because if they stop you from casting Balthor or Stitch Together after a Morality Shift you’ve only got a few turns to live before you are decked!
So, thanks David; your creation is now a part of StarCityGames lore! If only I could remember your last name…
Until next time, later –