This week I will talk about one of the decks that is sweeping the metagame. Tooth and Nail has been one of the most popular archetypes for some time, but now it has evolved into something better. No longer is the powerhouse confined to Mono-Green… it has allied with Blue and the fifth-best counterspell ever printed (contrary to my previous claim of fourth, I forgot about Forbid). Condescend is even more powerful when you are powering it off of the plentiful mana that Cloudpost provides.
For those of you who are not familiar with the deck, here is how it works: You build a mana base quickly by using Sylvan Scrying and Reap and Sow fetching Cloudposts. You can use Wayfarers Baubles to fetch colored mana. Once you have lots of mana, you cast Tooth and Nail with entwine doing one of many amazing things. Here is just a snippet of what can be done:
- You can get an awesome creature and an Eternal Witness to bring back the Tooth and Nail.
- If you have a Witness or a fatty in your hand, you can get two creatures and then play different ones out from your hand (i.e. – get a Witness and a Sundering Titan, then play out a Sundering Titan and a Platinum Angel, using the Witness next turn).
- You can get the Platinum Angel/Leonin Abunas combo and try to lock up a win.
- You can get Darksteel Colossus and Abunas… the results are satisfying.
- Triskelion and Mephidross Vampire are great to fetch up for the Wrath of God effect on your opponent. It is an instant classic combo.
This deck has mass appeal, since it is all about creating the instant, easy win. Of course, that doesn’t mean that this is a cakewalk to play. Even though you may not have to make many decisions with this deck, the ones that you are forced to make are very important. One wrong move can spell game over. Often this decision is associated with what you get with your first Tooth and Nail. Once you cast Tooth and Nail twice, it is really hard to lose.
Blue Tooth and Nail
4 Tooth and Nail
4 Sylvan Scrying
2 Reap and Sow
4 Serum Visions
4 Wayfarer’s Bauble
1 Leonin Abunas
1 Mephidross Vampire
1 Sundering Titan
1 Platinum Angel
1 Darksteel Colossus
4 Viridian Shaman
4 Eternal Witness
This particular list is based off of Phil Freneau’s PTQ-winning deck list from Seattle with a few important changes. There are a few creatures added – the Sundering Titan for one. I can’t express how awesome Sundering Titan is in this deck. It is really powerful against the mirror match and a few other decks in the format. You won’t get it all the time, but when you do get it, that will probably mean you are the winner of the game. I also think that Mephidross Vampire and Triskelion are great adds to this deck. Many people are already running them, they are really good to fetch against Affinity and Green. Of course, fetching up Platinum Angel and Abunas is as good as game versus Affinity.
There is an overwhelming amount of hate towards artifacts in the environment, disproportionate to the amount of artifact decks they are good against. Because of this, I dislike running Oxidizes in the main deck. I still have the Viridian Shamans for good measure, but I think having eight artifact removal spells in the main deck is probably too much. The sideboard is fair game for lots of extras though.
This deck survives though the early game by using Condescend and Eternal Witness while speeding its way to Tooth mana. Against the more aggressive decks, the games can be very close. This is why making the correct decisions on what to get with the first Tooth and Nail is so important. Luckily, the metagame has been leaning towards an overwhelming amount of Blue/Green Shard decks, since they are so good against Affinity. The Shard decks are much slower and give Tooth and Nail less trouble – especially with Condescend backing it up.
One creature that I don’t see used enough is Memnarch. It is really good in the control matchups and allows you to solve lots of problems like Pristine Angel. It is generally a bit silly, but he’s a nice thing to have against other Tooth decks and Pristine Angels. It takes quite a bit of Blue mana to get a non-artifact permanent, but the payoff is usually quite good.
This matchup is a race to the finish line of Abunas/Angel. After you have those in play, there really isn’t a whole lot you can do to screw up. Affinity will have to use two Shrapnel Blasts (one on Abunas, then another on Angel) in order to win. As long as you hold up some Condescend action, it is very hard to lose from this position. However, getting to that position in the first place is a bit tough.
Since this version of the deck has no Oxidizes, it makes it that much harder to win. The tricky thing to do is use your Condescends correctly. Often you will be faced with the choice of expanding your mana base or leaving mana up for Condescend. The correct choice is often determined by their board position. If they have pressure on the board, try to expand your mana base and race to Tooth and Nail. If they don’t have anything going on yet, you can slow roll your Reap and Sow and just tap small amount of mana, while keeping Condescend for 1 or 2 at the ready. Boarding in Oblivion Stones is recommended – they are not super-fast, but they might be fast enough to buy you the breathing room to win.
This matchup is similar to Affinity in the race aspect, but there are several key differences. The first main one is that the game doesn’t end with Platinum Angel. Molder Slug will see to it that your Abunas is left wondering where it left its shiny things. Luckily, Mono-Green comes out a lot slower and Condescend is more effective.
The guys to get against Mono-Green are Triskelion and Mephidross Vampire. This will make sure all their guys die in a heartbeat save two: Troll Ascetic and Tel-Jilad Chosen. Generally the Chosen aren’t a big deal, but the Trolls can sometimes get annoying, especially if there are two out. Some Tooth builds use Mindslaver to deal with them and also run Bringer of the White Dawn for good measure. Simply take their turn and attack the Trolls into your Witnesses without regenerating. Since my version doesn’t have this option, I would recommend getting out a Darksteel Colossus and just going for the kill. Watch out for Molder Slug – either Condescend it or play out artifacts to buy you turns to attack with the 11/11 trampler (Baubles work great, since you can just Witness them back). This matchup is not a bad matchup, but it is no cakewalk either.
Vs Blue/Green Shard
You will see this matchup a lot. In general, this is a good matchup for you because you are both slow decks, but Tooth is the one with the big finish. Basically the Shard deck will be living in fear of you casting Tooth and Nail. This is the best time to get Sundering Titan out of your deck – he just obliterates the opposition – a double Stone Rain plus a giant monster is nothing to scoff at. Sure, he’s not hard to kill, but you almost want to kill him yourself for two more Stone Rains. It is rather funny to watch your opponent mull over the prospect of Oxidizing a Sundering Titan – you can almost smell the agony.
The thing to watch out for against this deck is the Crystal Shard +Eternal Witness. Now, this combo is neither fast, nor powerful, but when it gets going it is rather annoying to stop. Eventually they will be doing all sorts of annoying things that won’t exactly stop you, but delay you from ever doing anything productive. Just keep plugging and watch out for Rude Awakening – that card is super good, and if you ever tap out, you just might die. Since it flies and is not an artifact, Mephidross Vampire is actually quite good against this deck. If they have a good way to deal with your Colossus (Acquire/Duplicant) the Vampire might just have to go all the way. One trick to help get the game back in your hands is using Triskelion to kill Eternal Witnesses before they can be brought back into your opponent’s hand.
Vs Mono-Red Burn
This deck is good. I can’t express the underwhelming attention this deck gets. The old Dragon deck morphed into a burn deck, and in a slow format, burn is very effective. This deck has Arc-Slogger, Furnace Whelp, and Slith Firewalkers as its main creatures. The rest is Molten Rain, Solemn Simulacrum, and burn out the wazoo. It has a way of killing you much more quickly then you ever expect.
This is a really tough matchup because there isn’t a whole lot you can do besides Condescend the burn and bring it back with Witness. You also have to contend with getting Molten Rained while Slith Firewalker grows. Platinum Angel/Leonin Abunas is only a temporary solution, as Beacon of Destruction and Fireball can easily take care of them. At best, you can look at it as gaining nine life. Once again, your best bet is racing with your monsters. Red doesn’t have a lot of ways to deal with a Colossus – some may have Duplicant, but usually not in the main deck. Your first Tooth and Nail isn’t going to end the game unless you board in a second Darksteel Colossus and just go double Colossus,”GG.”
Vs U/W Control
This matchup is decent since they are rather slow. Just run them low on answers by using Eternal Witness to regrow your threats, then break through with a big Tooth and Nail for some nice monsters like Sundering Titan and Colossus – but make sure you have an Abunas out there. It is always really important for the Abunas to give you that extra protection. The thing you really have to watch out for is Pristine Angel. You should Board in Oblivion Stones to help deal with this threat (plus the Stone is rather good against Affinity and Mono-Green). It U/W sneaks a Pristine Angel under your Condescend, then you are going to have to race… and it probably won’t be a race you win.
Vs Death Cloud
Finally, a matchup besides Affinity where Viridian Shaman is good to run out there! Try to expand your mana base while killing their Talismans. Use your Eternal Witness to get back your Wayfarers Bauble’s and fetch more land, then try to Reap and Sow with Entwine. Basically, if you have more mana then they do, it becomes stupid for them to ever cast Death Cloud. Your Tooth and Nails will be a lot less effective, since if you get anything super threatening, they will Barter in Blood or Death Cloud for a small amount to deal with it. Still, Toothing up Witnesses can be profitable. Eventually you can win with your fatties, just make sure you are ahead of the Death Cloud at all times. It is not a very hard matchup.
Vs Tooth and Nail
The mirror matchup is a crazy one. About the coolest thing you can do is Reap and Sow away their Cloudpost and get one of your own. Now keep in mind that Cloudposts feed off of each other no matter which side of the table they are on, so you will probably have a lot of mana available to you. Memnarch would come in handy if you have him – steal those Cloudposts! Otherwise, Sundering Titan is your best friend. It really puts a damper on what they are able to do.
One strategy would be to target the colored mana instead of the Cloudposts with Reap and Sow and then Sundering Titan the rest away. Sideboarding in a second Sundering Titan would be absolutely devastating – it would likely destroy all of their colored mana and leave them vulnerable to just being attacked to death. Basically depending on your sideboard plan, you have to come into the matchup knowing which way you are going to go. Once again the boarded Oblivion Stones would come in handy – at least one or two, just in case they get out a Platinum Angel out that you are having a hard time dealing with. Acquire would be another great card to sideboard in, since you can basically do all the mean things to them that they are planning to do to you.
Overall, Blue Tooth and Nail is a great deck to play since you get all the benefits of regular Tooth and Nail but the added bonus of Condescend and the very powerful Serum Visions, which helps you in those pesky games where you are having a hard time drawing and Tooth and Nail.
Until next time, get inside the Metagame!