My local shop held a Grand Prix Trial this past weekend, and I decided to build my friend Richard a deck I had grown to like after a bunch of playtesting. Richard is notorious for his love of the trees. Whatever list I decided to pass his way, needed to involve turning guys sideways, so I put pen to paper – or rather, fingers to keyboard – and slapped together the deck I had been playing.
Now, before I post this list, which I’m sure is roaming everywhere in some form or another, I would like to point out that Richard had not played a sanctioned game in well over a couple of weeks. In addition, had he not made two or three gross errors in game play, he would have fared much better with this deck and eventually made the top eight.
Here’s the deck….
4 Sylvok Explorer
4 Viridian Zealot
4 Viridian Shaman
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Fangren Firstborn
1 Glissa Sunseeker
4 Molder Slug
4 Chrome Mox
3 Beacon of Creation
3 Eternal Witness
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
G-Unit is very rare-heavy. Although, some of the rares may not be too high-end, thirty-four rares is a bit staggering. I’m not sure what the average cost of the deck comes out to be, but I don’t do much”building on a budget.” Enough speak on the cost. Let’s get down to why this deck is good and why you should consider it for a Grand Prix Trial or Pro Tour Qualifier.
Krark-Clan Ironworks. Is it the next Skullclamp? Another mistake right after we’ve been purged of the prior? Well, that has yet to be seen – but the bottom line is you’re bound to see lots of KCI decks coming. In addition, the field will return with Affinity decks, which gives us more artifact headaches. Banning Skullclamp might have been okay for eliminating the decks outside of Affinity, but adding Cranial Plating only made the harsh memories of losing two turns too fast to Affinity all come back. Artifacts have slowly began to make my skin crawl – and for those out there who can’t take the it anymore, then prepare for sweet revenge. I’m talking seventeen pieces of good ol’ main deck artifact destruction. Not enough for you? Add seven more pieces from the sideboard to the mix and three maindecked Eternal Witnesses, and you’ve got enough artifact destruction to make Urza blush.
The deck owns Krark-Clan Ironworks and does a fair number on Affinity, too. I’m sure after viewing the decklist, you came to that same conclusion. I’m also sure that most of you understand the card choices in the deck, but I’m going to go in depth here and break down their importance.
Why Sylvok Explorer and not a random”green and whatever” talisman? Because the environment is filled with artifact destruction. If you see forests or green mana sources, then you’re bound to see artifact destruction in some fashion. The same can be said for mountains and red mana sources. In fact, there’s so much artifact destruction and artifact hate out there that it outnumbers the amount of creature removal. The Explorer actually has a much higher chance of being able to live through the first turn you cast him and actually benefit the acceleration of the deck. He also likes to swing with Fangren Firstborn after he’s helped accelerate some guys out. Talismans don’t swing in this deck. Talismans don’t like Molder Slugs, either.
What a guy. Outside of having some fantastic artwork (thanks to the amazing Kev Walker), the Zealot is such a great addition to this deck. He’s a standard”2/1 for two green” bargain that hits an artifact when you need him to. It doesn’t matter if he’s fresh on the table or turned sideways to bash your opponent – if you’ve got a green and a colorless available, then you’ve got artifact or enchantment destruction on hand (like you’ll encounter enchantments?). I’ve been tempted a time or two, to reduce this guy from four to three in the deck in favor of some cuts for Predator’s Strike, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. The singleton toughness of the Zealot isn’t all that bad, since you can bring it back with the Eternal Witness if she’s already split.
187 on the artifacts. She gives you a 2/2 body and eliminates an opponent’s permanent – the epitome of simple card advantage and a must for this deck.
This guy is a punisher for the decks that like to run targeted creature removal and can be a huge headache for them. He’s great as a precursor to Fangren Firstborn and he loves to get equipped with Sword of Fire and Ice out of the sideboard. I could never see playing less than four of him.
When you absolutely, positively have to smash face in block with a green guy, accept no substitutes. If he lives to swing, then it’s going to get real ugly for your opponent. The Fangren is such a team player. Sure, he gives himself the +1/+1 bonus, but he also looks out for the little guys by shipping some +1/+1 love their way. A second-turn Fangren plus a third-turn Beacon of Creation can be a nightmare if your opponent can’t find an answer. That’s twenty-one points of total damage after attacking on the fourth turn, if your opponent is sitting across from you attempting to gather up the pieces of his combo.
I like the idea of being able to drop a fourth-turn 3/2 first striking lady that almost shuts down heavy artifact decks. She only has a two toughness, but can really damper the hopes of those who base their performance on the backs of artifacts. She’s also the 61st card in the deck – and since I always run sixty-one cards, I consider her lucky. She’s easy to cut, but I’m not responsible for the ensuing bad karma.
Molder Slug on turn 3 or 4 can spell a win for you against certain decks. He’s also a great answer to Darksteel Colossus in the Tooth and Nail decks. His six toughness is also nice, because it takes him out of the”I die to Shrapnel Blast” category. His one fault is that he eats your Chrome Moxen, but that’s a small price to pay for what he lends to the deck.
I thought about cutting down to three of them, since he is the highest casting cost creature in the deck, but so far I like four.
Eleven three-drops, eight four-drops, and four five-drops make Chrome Mox a requirement to get your guys out a little quicker. Along with Sylvok Explorer, they form the acceleration of the deck.
Beacon of Creation
The one card I catch the most flak for in this deck. I stand by it, because it’s such a pain for the Death Cloud decks to deal with. Death Cloud for five? Sure, I’ll sacrifice these 1/1 tokens and keep the big guys around. And as mentioned above, the Fangren Firstborn loves to hang out with the beacon crew.
On the darker side of things, the deck has no way of stopping a Echoing Decay or Echoing Truth on your 1/1’s, unless the Fangren has had a chance to pump them up twice. The Beacon is also a great card in any kind of aggro matchups you come across, allowing you to swing with your stronger guys and keep the weak ones on defense to put combat in your favor.
I started off with four of these gals in the deck – and then, after realizing I wasn’t bringing back much early on, I decided to go down to three. The Eternal Witness does what the card says – she brings things back. Her favorite cards are Oxidize and Viridian Shaman. When sideboard time comes, then the Witness really gets to shine by bringing back boatloads of hate.
So there’s the card breakdown. I think most of the choices are justified. The Beacons could be questionable, but I like them. Again, this list is more or less, something for everyone who isn’t fully aware of this style of deck, to build it, tweak it, and find what they like.
Next up on the agenda is getting down to sideboarding and playing against certain matchups. The first game is going to explain itself, but sideboarding takes on a whole new challenge. In order to sideboard, you need to understand what decks make up the block constructed environment right now. Those would be…..
- Krark-Clan Ironworks
- Big Red
- Mono Black Control
- Tooth And Nail
- Mono Green
The first matchup I’ll discuss is the one where G-Unit shines – and that would be the KCI (Krark-Clan Ironworks) decks.
Against KCI, you’re almost guaranteed a win. The sheer assault of artifact destruction is often too much for them to overcome. Try and assault their lands as much as possible and look out for their countermagic. Different variants use everything from Condescend to Override to counter your threats; the Kai Budde-influenced versions will run Fireball and more card drawing spells. If they get five artifacts in play and the KCI, then they can crack the Myr Incubator for the win. Unfortunately, G-Unit doesn’t have a way to deal with a cast and cracked Incubator, but I’ve considered searching for small splash variants to handle the problem, such as Wail of the Nim. The main thing to keep in mind here is to eliminate their blue mana first and then their black mana. The blue mana usually comprises the majority of colored spells in the deck, as well as the ones used to draw cards and search out their combo pieces.
Here’s how to sideboard….
Affinity is another good matchup, for obvious reasons. Even though the matchup is good, an unchecked Ornithopter with Cranial Plating attached to it, can put a hurting on you quite quickly. Some versions won’t run Arcbound Ravager and Disciple of the Vault in favor of more countermagic, removal, and Somber Hoverguard.
The game plan here is pretty much the same with the KCI decks: If possible, attack their blue mana, just as you do against KCI decks, and then assault the black mana to keep them from casting more Disciple of the Vaults. Reducing the black mana sources will also prevent the ever-tricky Cranial Plating from moving around the board from creature to creature.
Look out for Terror, Grab the Reins, and Electrostatic Bolt out of their sideboards and additional countermagic as well. The Somber Hoverguards are their biggest threats outside of Shrapnel Blast. Just keep them on the defensive and don’t allow yourself to fall victim to an unblocked, super-modulated creature. If all goes as it should, then the only math you’ll need to worry about is if there’s enough time left in the round for you to go grab a drink.
+4 Tel-Jilad Justice
The one matchup that can be brutal for G-Unit is Big Red. The Mega Red variants aren’t as bad, because their mana is more susceptible to your artifact destruction. Big Red however, is not as easy. Plenty of burn spells can chop down your team real quick. Arc-Slogger is very bad for you – so bad, in fact, if you expect a heavy field of Big Red, then add Predator’s Strike to the deck.
Things do get a bit brighter if Fangren Firstborn gets to swing once or so with some of your other guys, but most likely that’s not going to happen. You do have a hope, though, and that lies in Troll Ascetic. Big Red probably isn’t going to have a removal source for him in their maindeck; instead, they’ll be bringing in Flame Break from the sideboard, which again, is bad for you. Another shining spot for this deck, in this matchup, is that most of Big Red’s artifact destruction will be pointless against you. With few artifacts in the deck, the Big Red player will probably empty up his deck of any and all artifact destruction, in favor of more burn and Grab the Reins. This opens up the opportunity for you to bring in Sword of Fire and Ice to help deal with their burn spells.
Mono Black Control
This matchup isn’t as bad as Big Red, because they don’t have an Arc-Slogger, but they do have a mass removal spell by the name of Death Cloud that can pose just as much danger. Terror, Echoing Decay, and Devour in Shadow are the main spells this deck utilizes to destroy your creatures. The other creature killer is Barter in Blood, which is just nasty for you.
To combat all of this creature hate, especially Death Cloud and Barter in Blood, I like to use Beacon of Creation. The beacon tokens bite the big one to Echoing Decay, but really help you pull through a Death Cloud. Just sacrifice the little 1/1s and save the better guys to attack in the aftermath. After sideboarding, you can expect an additional sideboard card or two and possibly Mindslavers. I like to bring in the Swords of Fire and Ice here to take advantage of black’s lack of artifact destruction and Creeping Molds to assault their mana base and help weaken their Death Clouds.
Tooth and Nail
The first game might not go so well if you can’t get an explosive opening. Some of the notable artifact targets are Mindslaver, Oblivion Stone, Solemn Simulacrum, Triskelion, a few talismans, and Platinum Angel. Stay on the offense as much as possible and eliminate their artifact mana acceleration. If they get to cast Tooth and Nail, you can just about scoop it up, because a Mephidross Vampire and Triskelion will be taking out your side of the board.
After sideboarding, you have a much better game against this deck. Sideboarding in the Creeping Molds will give you the ability to stop the crazy Cloudpost acceleration, and Duplicants will help eliminate threats like Darksteel Colossus and the annoying Leonin Abunas.
Mono Green (The Mirror)
I’ll be very honest and admit that I haven’t had much playtesting with the mirror match. In fact, I only started testing this deck around the first week in June! The few times I did play mirror matches, the board usually ended up becoming an enormous stalemate. Because of this, I decided that Bloodscent would be the best stalemate-breaker. I could be entirely wrong here and if there’s any part if the sideboard I think could use a change, it’s this portion. Most likely, your opponent will sideboard out his or her Oxidizes. This leaves their instant-speed artifact destruction, limited to Viridian Zealot. I like to bring in the Duplicants, if you feel your opponent is taking out their Oxidizes. The Duplicants will serve as a means to get rid of anything in your way.
Well, there you have it. A small and simple guide to piloting G-Unit in the next block event you attend. I hope that the information contained here will help someone take home a slot or some byes.
The Extra Soup For Those Who’ve Read This Far…
This Friday, the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 will debut in theatres across the country. I’m a big fan of Michael Moore, the creator of the film. If you get a chance and would like to enjoy a good documentary that’s sure to have you questioning the current administration, then I think Fahrenheit 9/11 is worth the money.
Skullclamp is gone – and as much as I enjoyed clamping up zombies and clerics, I’m not sure whether or not Lynch Mob can survive after its banning. I’m in the process of working on and testing a new version of Lynch Mob, and when I get a chance and feel it’s worth sharing, I’ll write up a column on it.
As some of you know, I like to mess around with quirky and fun decks that also prove to be competitive. The Back to The Future deck I wrote about several columns ago never seemed to be as consistent as I would have liked and the Reactorsaurus Rex deck became a little too fragile. I still drag them out every now and then to work with them a little bit more. Right now, I’ve been working with a deck to abuse Beacon of Creation. Here’s what I’ve been tinkering with….
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Wirewood Symbiote
4 Wood Elves
4 Viridian Shaman
4 Spawning Pit
4 Beacon of Creation
4 Eternal Witness
3 Vernal Bloom
1 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Wooded Foothills
The goal of the deck is to accelerate the mana, cast Fecundity and Spawning Pit, then the beacon. From there, the deck goes on to draw a ridiculous amount of cards, cast a ridiculous amount of spells, and ultimately Fireball your opponent to death. It sounds more complicated than it really is, and resolving a Fecundity and a Beacon of Creation will usually be enough to set you up. The deck still needs a lot of work and may not be viable yet, but it’s something I do to pass time.
Well, it’s late and I need to sleep. See ya’ next time.