“The trick is, once you get it moving, don’t stop!”
I wanted to play Lich’s Mastery.
I really did.
Card is sweet.
However, in preparing for Pro Tour Dominaria, it relatively quickly felt inescapable that I’d have to play Goblin Chainwhirler, one way or another. Believe me, I didn’t start out wanting to play stock R/B…
Okay, let me give you an example. I was having some success with Construct Aggro decks. It seemed a promising path, but when I ran into Goblin Chainwhirler, it was just not realistic to try to beat them.
- 4 Chief of the Foundry
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 4 Toolcraft Exemplar
- 4 Scrap Trawler
- 4 Metallic Mimic
- 4 Walking Ballista
Goblin Chainwhirler incidentally killing Toolcraft Exemplar, Bomat Courier, Metallic Mimic, Walking Ballista, and sometimes even Karn, Scion of Urza…it was just too brutal.
Some of the CFB guys ended up trying to have their cake and eat it too with the Constructs, cutting Bomat Courier and Metallic Mimic (with Llanowar Elves instead of Toolcraft Exemplar) to reduce their exposure to Goblin Chainwhirler.
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Verdurous Gearhulk
- 4 Glint-Nest Crane
- 1 Servant of the Conduit
- 4 Scrap Trawler
- 4 Walking Ballista
Seriously, what a super-cool deck!
Still, I’m not a big Renegade Map guy to begin with, and Implement of Ferocity definitely raises an eyebrow.
Implement of Ferocity is kind of sweet with Walking Ballista, of course, and putting a +1/+1 counter on an Aethersphere Harvester (whether by it or Verdurous Gearhulk) can be pretty high-impact. Mainly, though, Implement of Ferocity and Renegade Map are here to make Scrap Trawler better. Not only can you get them back with the Trawler, they can potentially be used to get Walking Ballista back (this time for much more).
I love, love, love Glint-Nest Crane here, though (especially with all these Aethersphere Harvester), and I can’t fault ’em for making some concessions to enable it. Splashing blue for Glint-Nest Crane and green for Verdurous Gearhulk (combo with the Crane!) and Llanowar Elves may seem goofy, but the colorless lands really don’t give you all that much utility, so you might as well play at least a couple of colors.
I mean, once you’re valuing artifact as a card type high enough to run Renegade Map, Sorcerous Spyglass starts to look even more appealing than it already is. The one drawback, however, is that it doesn’t fuel Scrap Trawler the way Renegade Map and Implement of Ferocity do.
The primary artifact payoff is definitely the -2 ability on Karn. As Matt Nass is fond of saying, “Karn is decent if you are plussing, but ridiculous if you are minusing.”
It’s hard to play too many fours,in a deck like this, particularly when Walking Ballista is so great at two, but I do like The Antiquities War. It digs pretty hard to Walking Ballistas, Verdurous Gearhulks, and Scrap Trawlers, and the threat of a massive Overrun effect is a pretty big game. Walking Ballista is particularly sweet as a 5/5, thanks to all those +1/+1 counters making it even bigger.
I feel bad for those guys. They had such a sweet deck, with some surprising card choices and some tricks that can really take people by surprise…and their deck was accidentally leaked by coverage on Day 1.
It’s not the end of the world, stuff happens, but it’s a real bummer and stuff like this costs people money and surprise value, and it really does seem to disproportionately impact pilots of rogue decks.
I can just imagine, if I had ended up playing the U/W Temporal Sundering deck I put some thought into, how much of a bummer it would have been if all my opponents knew I wasn’t just some U/W Teferi deck like everybody else, rather than walk face-first into consecutive Temporal Sunderings.
Teferi’s ultimate comes at you fast.
This list is based on a Jeskai Temporal Sundering deck LSV had been messing around with, mainly splashing red for Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
I’ve been really liking Baral, Chief of Compliance in general. For instance, I would have loved if Mono-Blue came together just a little bit more.
- 23 Island
There are several things I really like about this deck, including obviously Tempest Djinn, which is just unreal (you know, once you have 23 Islands in your deck…).
I also particularly liked Chart a Course and still want to find more homes for it. At the moment, it’s hard to want to play both Islands and creatures, but times will change.
Wizard’s Retort is just fine as a Cancel, so it’s not like the floor is even low on this card. Then, when it’s actually good, it can matter a lot, as this is a deck that heavily appreciates every bit of tempo it can muster.
Yeah, 23 lands isn’t exactly a ton for a deck with two six-drops, but you’d be surprised at just how effectively this deck can draw lands, thanks to Chart a Course, Baral’s looting ability, cycling Censor, kicking Blink of an Eye, and sometimes just stalling the game out a little with one-for-one permission. Then, when you actually drop In Bolas’s Clutches, it can provide a game-winning advantage, stealing some unreal “win the game”-level threat.
So, in the end, I felt like R/B Goblin Chainwhirler was just annoyingly strong and resilient, basically just being really good against everything I was remotely interested in. If you can’t beat ’em…
- 1 Pia Nalaar
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
- 3 Glorybringer
- 2 Hazoret the Fervent
- 2 Soul-Scar Mage
- 2 Earthshaker Khenra
- 3 Rekindling Phoenix
- 4 Goblin Chainwhirler
In the actual event, I played four mirror matches and one match against a B/G deck with Hour of Promise. I’ll spare the in-depth R/B analysis, as I’ll be looking to Jadine Klomparens and Owen Turtenwald (and obviously anything Gerry Thompson might happen to mention…).
I do want to mention one rather cool play that came up in Game 3 of a mirror match. My opponent had just added a Rekinding Phoenix to his position containing Hazoret the Fervent and six Mountains. One card in hand, seven life.
My side of the table was also six lands (plenty of R/B duals) and no other permanents. After my draw for the turn, I had Angrath, the Flame-Chained; Abrade, and Chandra’s Defeat (I was tapped out the previous turn), at nine life.
I couldn’t double kill the Phoenix, as two Hazoret activations and a Hazoret attack would kill me. I could drop Angrath and take the card out of his hand. Then, if he goes to kill me with his two creatures, I can Chandra’s Defeat the Phoenix, untap, Abrade the 0/1, and Angrath his Hazoret for the win.
Ultimately, I decided against that line, as it just seemed too bad for me if he attacks my Angrath. Instead, I stole his Phoenix, attacked him for four, and then Chandra’s Defeated it while it was on my side. That way I got the 0/1, and while it can’t get a Phoenix back (since I didn’t have one in my graveyard), it could still chump block Hazoret, which proved crucial for buying me the turn I needed to rip Glorybringer.
Lich It Up
Where did I end up with Lich’s Mastery?
Part of the problem was that I wanted to be able to play cards like Azor’s Gateway, Treasure Map, and Orazca Relic. It’s just too bad, opening yourself up to Abrade when you don’t have to. It’s also just really hard to make your deck good against R/B (at all), let alone doing it in such a way as to not get thrashed by Teferi decks.
- 4 Renewed Faith
- 2 Essence Extraction
- 3 Fumigate
- 4 Fatal Push
- 3 Approach of the Second Sun
- 3 Doomfall
- 4 Vraska's Contempt
- 3 Settle the Wreckage
- 3 Lich's Mastery
The more I try to slant this to be an anti-R/B deck, however, the less it resembles anything having to do with Lich’s Mastery. There are other angles to consider, though.
For instance, Faith of the Devoted might actually be the end-game we’re looking for, but instead of using tons of cycling cards, we plan to capitalize on our end step.
You see, if you have a Faith of the Devoted on the battlefield and a Lich’s Mastery, if you ever get up to eight cards (maybe by gaining some life), you are doing it. You can move to your end step, discard a card, and then trigger Faith of the Devoted. You’ll draw two cards, putting you at nine, and then be required to discard down to seven. This, of course, can trigger Faith of the Devoted two more times. For every mana you spend, you can drain your opponent for two and draw two cards.
I also wonder about a build that just goes ham on Lyra Dawnbringer. She seems like she might be really sweet in the format, particularly with how many people are skipping Unlicensed Disintegration at all.
She just seems like she’d be well-suited for combating all these R/B decks.
Sort of unrelated (but really we’re all one and everything is connected), I read a suggestion someone made to unban everything and see where that gets us.
Felidar Guardian would really keep these red decks in check, or so the story goes. The thing is, Ramunap Ruins is a massive upgrade for all these red decks, and Rampaging Ferocidon sure would help against Felidar Guardian. Besides, I think people might forget how incredible Smuggler’s Copter is.
I mean, it might sound reasonable on the surface, but how good are the games really going to be? And didn’t we already see these worlds? Are they really that much different with the most recent couple of sets of additions? More powerful, sure, but different?
Take Jeskai Saheeli, for instance:
Sure, Teferi’s a new trick, and Settle the Wreckage has interesting implications, but is this really the path to a healthy and diverse metagame?
And don’t get me started on Board the Weatherlight searching up either half of the Aetherworks Marvel / Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot combo…
I’m not suggesting anything should get banned (no, not even Goblin Chainwhirler). I just don’t think unbanning everything would actually move things to a good place. That said, what if they just unbanned these three cards?
Yeah, I know Smuggler’s Copter is insane and would help red decks too, but red has plenty of cards and I think there are a lot more quality answers to two-cost Vehicles these days. You know, since we’ve been living with this one for so long…
I really don’t think it matters all that much whether Rampaging Ferocidon is banned or not, now that Goblin Chainwhirler is in town; however, the optics would be really weird, unbanning a card like that when red just dominated at a relatively historical level.
What do you think? Red’s extremely out of control right now, but is it crazy to want to consider unbanning a couple of cards instead of banning any?