Gemini, Beats, and Junk: Three Decks To Look At Before Regionals

While I won’t be playing in any Regionals events (I think they’re called Provincials around here, though) this year, I’ve still been building up decks for Standard simply because I have no idea what else to do. While I have no real belief that I’m some sort of expert deck builder, perhaps the results of…

While I won’t be playing in any Regionals events (I think they’re called Provincials around here, though) this year, I’ve still been building up decks for Standard simply because I have no idea what else to do. While I have no real belief that I’m some sort of expert deck builder, perhaps the results of seemingly endless Constructed gaming will be of some use to someone, somewhere.

And I really do feel like writing anyway.

Deck #1: R/G Beats

2 Beast Attack

1 Skizzik

4 Flametongue Kavu

1 Raging Kavu

4 Urza’s Rage

4 Call of the Herd

4 Wild Mongrel

2 Seton’s Scout

3 Kavu Titan

4 Reckless Charge

4 Firebolt

4 Llanowar Elves

2 Shivan Oasis

3 Mountain

3 Mossfire Valley

1 Keldon Necropolis

4 Karplusan Forest

7 Forest

3 Barbarian Ring


2 Artifact Mutation

4 Compost

2 Hull Breach

3 Shivan Wurm

4 Spellbane Centaur

The deck evolved out of reading Sean McKeown excellent”Frog in a Number Cruncher” article, which gave me a lot of ideas on how to build R/G. While it might not be so for a lot of other people, I really hadn’t given a lot of thought on how to build R/G decks in Standard. This got me thinking.

Frog is very fast – explosively so. However, as other people have pointed out, it has a lot of problems – and frankly, it sucks against other R/G decks pretty badly. You need to be able to do a certain amount of creature-based damage before falling back onto your formidable arsenal of burn – which isn’t all that easy to do when larger, stronger creatures are bearing down on you. It beats on control decks in an unfriendly fashion, though.

The resulting deck is a fusion of the two prime R/G builds. Reckless Charge is solid source of damage and works very nicely with your larger creatures; moments like dropping a Flametongue, blowing his blocker out of the way, then charging the FTK in for seven points are priceless. Seton’s Scout is a generally interesting card, giving you a normal creature for two and then perhaps larger if the game goes on that long; maybe it should be something else, though. The other cards are generally pretty baseline stuff – nothing too unexpected. The Shivan Wurms come out of the board against other R/G decks, where their great size proves to be quite an asset.

Deck #2: Gemini

3 Spiritmonger

4 Violent Eruption

3 Blazing Specter

3 Flametongue Kavu

4 Call of the Herd

4 Phyrexian Rager

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Chainer’s Edict

4 Grim Lavamancer

4 Birds of Paradise

1 Urborg Volcano

2 Swamp

3 Sulfurous Springs

1 Shivan Oasis

2 Shadowblood Ridge

1 Mountain

2 Mossfire Valley

3 Llanowar Wastes

3 Karplusan Forest

4 Forest

1 Darigaaz’ Caldera


4 Compost

4 Slay

3 Spellbane Centaur

3 Pernicious Deed

1 Flametongue Kavu

The idea behind Gemini is to play aggressively, but not suffer from running out of gas too early. The deck has an annoying habit of keeping a fair number of options at all times and being able to consistently slaughter off its opponent’s creatures through its various spells.

Spiritmonger: Papa Monger is perhaps the best bargain we’ll ever see on a 6/6 fatty – at least ones that don’t involve threshold. Highly durable, his nigh-immortality is what makes him so appealing to this deck.

Violent Eruption: I don’t have trouble casting this card, but you might be wondering why it’s in the deck. It suits the mold of the deck – trade one card for two cards as often as possible – and it has solid synergy with Chainer’s Edict, allowing you to burn off an Elf, Bird, Elephants, or whatever and then let the Eruption remove the more dangerous sized creatures.

Blazing Specter: Sometimes the Specter does something like tap four mana, play him, rush, hit for two… And opponent discards a Fiery Temper, which immediately slams the Specter in the face. In other occasions, his flying, haste, and discard ability lead to a very literal drain on your opponent’s cards. He can be swapped for Skizzik in environments where Madness is too common for him to be much use – but don’t over look the value of fliers.

Flametongue Kavu: Most obvious card in the deck. A straight two-for-one almost every time. I should probably drop something else and move the fourth one in from the board.

Call of the Herd: one Elephant now, and the option to flash it back later on. This card is one of the firm reasons this deck has longevity.

Phyrexian Rager: Originally, I had Penumbra Bobcat in this slot. Don’t get me wrong; I like the Bobcat and in certain match ups (mono-black control and Frog) he’s excellent… But he was pretty bad in others. The Rager is a Gray Ogre and a card; it’s hard to say no to cantrip creatures.

Wild Mongrel: He activates Violent Eruption’s Madness, presents a difficult-to-estimate creature, and feeds extra land into the graveyard for the Lavamancer to work with. Perhaps not true card advantage, but a nice piece to the overall machine.

Chainer’s Edict: Straight two-for-one card advantage over time in a non-biodegradable, nonrecyclable package.

Grim Lavamancer: In some decks he’s pretty bad, but he tends to fit into this deck very nicely. Keep in mind that he can”add” an extra two points to a Violent Eruption, which lets you get rid of a pair of elephants and various other tricks.

Birds of Paradise: Elves are better in dual-colour decks… But this is a three-colour deck and needs access to the other colours of mana.

The mana base: While it looks downright absurd, with a bit of practice in using filter lands, they can be very helpful and keep you from taking damage from painlands. Reducing your life total by five points is a pretty surefire way to lose aggro vs. aggro matchups. Filter lands don’t work well in all decks… But they work just fine in here since there’s just about nothing they can’t cast. (You can’t cast a Goblin Legionnaire with a mountain and a Sungrass Prairie, for example.)

The sideboard gives you access to some strong anti-black, anti-blue, and anti-blue options. Pernicious Deed is your Artifact/Enchantment removal, although you can use Hull Breach if you feel that is more fitting.

Deck #3: Junk

2 Spiritmonger

2 Mystic Enforcer

3 Vindicate

3 Pernicious Deed

4 Call of the Herd

3 Phyrexian Rager

4 Gerrard’s Verdict

4 Nantuko Shade

4 Spectral Lynx

4 Addle

4 Chainer’s Edict

4 Tainted Wood

4 Tainted Field

11 Swamp

4 Elfhame Palace


4 Compost

3 Circle of Protection: Red (I am unsure if this deck could handle Aegis of Honour instead of CoP: Red. Aegis is”worse” against red decks when you can’t keep creatures down, but it functions against both control black’s burn and red burn decks)

4 Disenchant (Maybe should be 1 Vindicate / 3 Disenchant?)

4 Slay

The deck is nothing overwhelmingly innovative, since it is Junk – but the mana base probably looks completely weird, doesn’t it? The Elfhame Palaces seem to work fine in the deck, usually dropped on turn 1 (where I can do nothing else) or turn 3, where I’m dropping another two-drop. The deck favours black mana heavily, which lets me gain access to a rather nice card for such a deck – Nantuko Shade. I don’t like the Shade in a lot of places where people put him, but here he fits right in nicely. He’s not River Boa, but instead something of a completely different nature.

Why no Duress? My experiences with Duress have been consistently horrible. Too often I look at a player’s hand and wish I wasn’t forced to take a spell card. Perhaps I should take out the Verdicts and pack the Duresses instead – but a man can only take the”Reveal your hand. Oh, so you’ve got a Call or Firebolt for me to pick? Great,” so many times before he gets sick of it. Sometimes it plucks a Fact of Fiction and sometimes it does absolutely nothing.

However, I have considered dropping the Verdict slot and adding more creatures. The thing that gets me is simply that the deck doesn’t have enough beats – and when faced with Chainer’s Edict, often just doesn’t have enough love to go around. I rather liked the look of Sean Reusing’s Junk build; it looks nice to me (it’s not really Junk, though, is it?) until I think to myself:”Wow, this would get eaten alive by Monoblack.” Eleven creatures isn’t going to work around four opposing Edicts without counterspells very well at all – although I still think Sean’s deck is a nice piece of work.

Deck #4: White Weenie

3 Pianna, Nomad Captain

3 Mystic Crusader

4 Divine Sacrament

4 Vindicate

4 Reborn Hero

4 Longbow Archer

4 Spectral Lynx

4 Chainer’s Edict

4 Mystic Penitent

4 Devoted Caretaker

4 Swamp

14 Plains

4 Caves of Koilos


2 Aegis of Honour

4 Disenchant

2 Reprisal

4 Slay

3 Worship

I don’t think White Weenie is Tier One, I don’t think it’s Tier Two… It’s more like tier five. (Maybe four on a good day.) The deck goldfishes in an obscene manner, whipping out a fervent horde of angry nomads, soldiers, and cats. The deck has no problems removing opponent’s creatures to a point, it has several burn-proof creatures; Reborn Hero can make Braids totally one-sided, and it has the ability to turn your creatures into gigantic, behemoth Nomads of Doom.

Kidding aside, White weenie has potential – it just doesn’t have enough oof. Hopefully, Judgement will contain a little more to give it the push over the top. At least it’s pretty unlikely your opponent have any sideboard cards to use against it.

Deck #5: Zombie Factory

Occasionally, you have those really weird ideas and you make decks based around them. You know what I mean. You’re sitting there, staring out the window trying to figure out some problem, usually involving dinner, and you’re suddenly struck with a revelation… Or maybe that’s not the right word. Occasionally, decks evolve out of those strange moments and you wonder what the hell you’ve come up with. That’s how Zombie Factory came into being. It’s a rough deck – a sketch of an idea which might one day work. So what is this Factory? Here we go.

The deck list (no sideboard or land)

The factory:

2 Zombie Infestation

4 Merfolk Looters

3 Pyre Zombie

Okay… So you’re wondering how THAT is a factory? Well, essentially you take one Zombie Infestation, one Pyre Zombie, and a big pile of madness cards and you sort of, well… Make zombies.

You don’t do it in a haphazard manner; you respond to your opponent’s effects. He casts a spell, you Logic it, discard the Pyre Zombie (which you’ll pull back in a turn or two), and then get a zombie for your trouble. I have no idea what kind of weird math I’d have to do to figure out the card economy of such an exchange. He attacks with a Mongrel? You Zombie out a Fiery Temper and then kill the Mongrel, either by the burn spell or by throwing down a the zombie in its path after it gets through the burn.

Looters are better against decks that don’t have burn, while Infestation is better against decks which have that and weenies. You can adjust the 2/4 ratio as you please, or only go with one assembly line or just use the Pyre Zombie + Looter combo to provide consistent card drawing.

Each of the three pieces works fine on its own. Pyre Zombies have been annoying control decks for quite a while; there’s no hiding the fact a recurring shock with legs is good, and he takes kindly to Chainer’s Edict. The looters are, well, the looters… And Zombie Infestation is a nice way to trigger madness cards.

The Madness cards:

4 Obsessive Search

4 Circular Logic

4 Fiery Temper

All twelve cards are extremely, blissfully inexpensive when cast through madness – and they’re not so bad when hard cast, which frankly you shouldn’t have to do. The Temper works as a source of damage, which sometimes it feels like you don’t really have any of.

The stuff:

4 Shadowmage Infiltrator

4 Flametongue Kavu

4 Counterspell

3 Fact or Fiction

It’s pretty rough, as designs go. There’s no bounce. No bounce! And maybe the Fact or Fiction should be a Standstill or a Prophetic Bolt – I frankly just don’t know. Standstill can work with a Zombie Infestation on the table; you’re not casting anything. Just making a lot of zombies.

This is one of those decks where I frankly have no idea if I’m winning or losing at times. The various engines lead to massive amounts of cards going into your hand. Is that good? I think so, but sometimes I don’t know. Maybe I should put Upheaval in here, maybe I should put the Chainer’s Edicts back, maybe… You get the idea. Essentially, the factory is the core of the deck, while everything else is optional and very rough. Has someone else come up with this deck before? If you have and I never saw it, my apologies.

It’s an idea. And that’s basically all this whole article has been, idea after idea that I should probably spend more time testing out, but maybe someone else will like them and take them up.

Iain Telfer

Taeme on Modo, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

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