Previously on Like An Icicle At A
It’s me, Icicle, the new kid at Dominaria Standard High School! I’m from 1996, the gap period where there were no pop
stars in the United States, people could still buy either compact discs or cassette tapes at the record store,
and for the cost of BBB, evil consistently triumphed over good… and no one thought to do anything about it. I
know I just got here and haven’t played in even a single tournament yet, but life at ‘Standard is crazy strange to me,
what with the Green creatures making goo-goo eyes at the Black three-drops (I can’t believe they let that Hippie jerk back
from suspension) and – get this – the Mountains and the Islands getting crowned King of Beatdown and Ice Queen – together
– at the Homecoming Ball… and everybody loving them like they were Dark Ritual and Zuran Orb or something. Eww.
I mean, what is with that? In 1996 it was mostly “allied colors” that formed cliques. Where I’m from…
Let me just say I can’t even imagine a Snow-Covered Volcanic Island or whatever. Does that even make any sense? A
Volcanic Island covered with snow? It either can’t be very volcanic, or the snow can’t last very long.
Anywho, I’m trying to make the best of it. Last week (which was my first week of orientation at ‘Standard even though
I don’t officially start until about August 20) I introduced myself to two members of “the beatdown” (I think
that’s some crazy 2006 version of the Math Club, except they drink more than the Math Club guys back home, especially the
one named Heezy); I think I impressed them (at least a widdle bid). The B/W one (did I mention “eww”?) seemed a
little easy to me, if you catch my drift… I got a little ahead of the Heezy guy, but felt kind of icky about it, or
maybe cheap, like when an Asian kid beats you at Street Fighter with all the tap-throws and swinging the joystick in a
circle, and you’re just trying to have a good time and maybe make it to Sagat at the arcade… You know? Heezy did get one
or two draws with Kird Ape that – I don’t know if I should even be writing this — got my temperature above
freezing. It’s like I were playing with [regular old, not Snow-Covered] basic Forest… Just. Like. Him. (He even had
Karplusan Forest, just like they have back home!) Also I noticed Heezy was kind of hard. It doesn’t matter what the
numbers say (whatever Math Club), beating Heezy is harder than the Wall of Shields when he gets that first turn ooh ooh
aah aah Arabian Ape draw.
Anyway, what is with these iPod thingies that everyone has? Where do you put the CD? And what is with them being all
skinny? And the cell phones? Also skinny. Where I come from it doesn’t matter if a girl is skinny because she has to
bundle herself in twenty pounds of Auroch hides just to get from Sheltered Valley to the Balduvian Trading Post (and
that’s even if the Glaciers are thawing). Basically it doesn’t matter if she’s built like the Elvish Ranger or is
fatter than the Wiitigo… you can’t tell under all that Auroch. And what about MySpace? Is that like some kind of message
board except for with blinking pictures of half-naked girls asking you to date them? Why in the world would I
want to meet a date on the Internet? Eww. It’s like Islands and Mountains lying down on the couch in the teachers’ lounge
together all over again and everyone loving them together anyway. What is with this 2006? They don’t
even have Swords to Plowshares here! Anyway, after he had a few swallows from something called the Skullmead Cauldron
(“this is the life!”), Heezy told me that I was “frigid” and that if I were going to make it
at ‘Standard, I’d need to “test” against the guys at the Steam Vents. Hello! I don’t even start until
August 20 and he’s already pushing and prodding! I didn’t want to alienate next to the only guy I’ve met here so far (no,
I’m not counting mister “Legendary Hounds and Zombie Insects all making out in an abandoned house of worship”),
so I did what he said and went down there.
The real question is what am I going to wear? I guess it’s this old thing:
CAN Steam Vents melt the upbeat Icicle after two 7-3 victories over Heezy Street and Husk? Check back next week for
the thrilling conclusion!
“Like an Icicle at a Gunfight” is brought to you by WHITE WAFO-TAPA.
White Wafo-Tapa is the next step in Steam Vents. With our patented no-Steam Vents next step configuration, you will
amaze and confuse your opponents with such unusual strategies as…
- Main-deck Ghost Quarter (“Ack! You hit me in the uterus!”)
- Debtors’ Knell / Yosei lock (“I’m going to go WoW. Just call me when it’s my turn again.”)
- An age-old answer to Simic Sky Swallower (“Do you think He would be less vengeful if I went to church?”)
- … and more counters than most decks have threats! (“I thought the days of Draw-Go Magic were over!?!”)
Listen to what other Magic: The Gathering players have to say about White Wafo-Tapa:
I just lost in the quarters to a deck featuring Yosei, Ghost Quarter, and Spell Snare. You weren’t supposed to
post this. Actually, this Eisel deck is the cuts.
I wrote this article before Michael Flores posted his White Wafo-Tapa deck. While I think the most important part
of this article is the discussion on Karoo card advantage and how to take advantage of these lands, I now like Mike’s deck
better for the metagame.
I hate you.
I won the NAC Qualifier at Neutral Ground with this deck last Sunday. I only had to call Mike for help
Julian Levin (Barn Julian the N’Sync Intern aka Mother Superior, IV)
For my part, I have just been winning MTGO 8-Man Queues with White Wafo-Tapa since it was released on
StarCityGames Premium two weeks ago. Actually, I lost two total matches, one inexplicably to Vore (when I mulliganed to
four) and one against Zoo of all decks. I didn’t draw any Condemns, Faith’s Fetters, or Repeals, despite drawing fourteen
more cards than he did… Okay, the actual real reason I lost is that I didn’t Spell Snare his second turn Volcanic Hammer
(and don’t ask me what I was waiting for); I lost with three Spell Snares in my hand. I never said I was
“good.”… GET THAT MICROPHONE OUT OF MY FACE!
Michael J. Flores
Not enough Spiders.
WHITE WAFO-TAPA: It might not be “the best” deck, but it’s probably better than whatever you’re playing. Get
yours here today!
Firemane Angel appears courtesy of the Boros Legion, who want to remind you that might does in fact make
right. Tonight she is wearing a design by Rogier Maaten, from his Pre-Regionals collection, available at the following fine outlets (wings available separately
by mail order, or at Victoria’s Secret). This elegant design includes the subtle shift from Faith’s Fetters to Condemn,
and a sweeping elegant long game utilizing Zur’s Weirding.
On the play, Icicle wastes no time circling the ring with Firemane Angel, and immediately makes the first move for Into
the North, setting up Scrying Sheets. It’s over immediately.
Sensei’s Divining Top doesn’t come immediately, but it comes, and there is nothing whatsoever Firemane can do about
Round 1 to Icicle
Firemane shakes off a bad first round and opens up the second game. Icicle leaves her a wide berth with no Divining Top,
but we find that any Sheets is a good Sheets. Firemane summons up two copies of the girl of our dreams so the
round goes very long… Icicle has a Faith’s Fetters for each Angel; she holds Wrath of God, knowing it is a poor answer
considering that her opponent will almost certainly ramp to ten mana in a round destined to go the full fifty minutes.
Firemane tries to make a go of it with both those Firemane Angels feeding her Zur’s Weirding, but careful Scrying Sheets
activations before and after each draw allow Icicle to summon two Adarkar Valkyries without ever exposing them to the
Weirding. Between these snowy Angels, Icicle has more than enough air power to weather Firemane’s hand and race over the
long haul. This round ends up being a blowout, with Crime / Punishment resolving on Meloku the Clouded Mirror, and Icicle
ending it from 48.
Round 2 to Icicle
The girls go at it from the opening bell, both throwing back-handed slaps that ring with the thunder of girl-haymakers.
Trade, trade, trade… Meloku shows up, gets killed, comes back for the other team via Debtors’ Knell. Firemane is rocked,
“I was never in this one,” she gasps between slurps from the cornerman’s water bottle, “but I’ll figure her
out before the ten rounds are up.” “Really?” responds Icicle, filing a nail. “I opened up with Scrying
Sheets, tap, Top.”
Round 3 to Icicle
Icicle opens up with a stiff body blow: Vitu-Ghazi tapping for Sensei’s Divining Top. Two Firemane Angels rally, but
Icicle has Faith’s Fetters again. She starts setting up for the long, methodical, reputation-ruining double City-Tree,
double Scrying Sheets while Firemane is gaining two life per turn… After an eternity of producing Saps at the end of
Firemane’s turn and living through repeated creature removal, the game ends with Firemane holding seven counterspells, and
Icicle winning quite easily almost exclusively on the specialty lands.
Round 4 to Icicle
“I’ve got to hand it off,” says Firemane. “She’s good, and I don’t have any Fetters. As it is
I am going to have to spend two weeks with the Wojek Apothecary. This tooth feels loose… and I actually think one of
those Sakura-Tribe fang-bites ruptured my left implant.”
Firemane consults with the Boros Legion, who concur with her request for substitution.
The Legion issues this proclamation:
As it would be equally unproductive for Mr. Flores to design a ‘four Fetters Firemane deck’ that is not representative
of the metagame (and in any case, his most recent attempt raise the eyebrow of Master Szleifer in its non-representative inclusion of mass Demonfires), we
have elected to consult the StarCityGames Deck Database for incumbent deck lists. Let’s see…
“The bout continues.”
Icicle opens with double Into the North after a turn 1 Top, and Firemane winces as if she has been poked in the eye by
that Top. She perseveres though, and sets up Gifts Ungiven into Compulsive Research, discarding Firemane Angel. Icicle,
meanwhile, sets up with two Scrying Sheets and steals Firemane Angel with Crime / Punishment.
Firemane draws into Faith’s Fetters (finally!), but is presented with two Sheets, so she elects to target Vitu-Ghazi,
the City-Tree (with her Angel back in the bin due to a Lightning Helix)… This makes Vitu-Ghazi the only logical choice.
Icicle has to settle for two Saprolings and a Sakura-Tribe Elder for short-term beatdown.
Crime / Punishment offs the Fetters, and Icicle follows up with her own Fetters on the freshly recouped Angel. At this
point Firemane makes a mad play and drops the Weirding with three active Scrying Sheets and Sensei’s
Divining Top on the other side of the table. Firemane sets up triple Firemane Angel and drops Meloku the Clouded Mirror
with more than ten lands in play. Kick, wham, stunner! Icicle goes down via stings from a thousand Illusions.
“It was an impossible race,” said Icicle. “She had three Angels gaining life, and Meloku kills in maybe
“I don’t know if the Fetters even mattered early game,” commented Firemane Angel. “I think it was her
defensive use of Crime / Punishment rather than holding it for the late game that won the round.”
ROUND 1 TO FIREMANE ANGEL!
Firemane takes a quick trip to Paris, but the delay is minimal. The opening sequence looks to be a blowout with Icicle
opening on Sensei’s Divining Top and drawing multiple Sheets… Firemane answers with Gifts Ungiven, setting up tons of
action for the next several turns. As usual, the round goes long, with Icicle tapping out for Top and Sheets every turn,
eventually shuffling, Topping, and Scrying into both City-Trees. Firemane gets all four of her Angels but Icicle has more
than forty life and wins through them thanks to Crime / Punishment.
Round 2 to Icicle
Icicle opens up with Sakura-Tribe Elder off the Sheets again, but no Top. Firemane answers with Boros Signet into
Faith’s Fetters; blind Sheets whiffs. Icicle follows up with Into the North while Firemane is tapped, undoing her good
Icicle goes Valkyrie. Firemane taps for Wrath on Valkyrie before she can start an infinite Tribe-Elder loop. She has
stalled but her hand is a full seven of counters, Wrath of God, and multiple Helixes… Unfortunately Icicle answers with
Debtors’ Knell with Fetters and Wrath in hand.
Round 3 to Icicle
Both combatants kind of sit around in their respective corners, developing (or shall we say blossoming, coming into their
own, & co.). Firemane plays a good Zur’s Weirding when she has access to two Angels (one in hand, one in play), a
Compulsive Research, a Faith’s Fetters for the Valkyrie already in play, and trump card Wrath of God.
Unfortunately, Icicle is holding two Fetters, a Wrath of God, and two copies of Crime / Punishment
with three Sheets in play. That split card can win after a Wrath or Fetters setup, or can just free the Valkyrie
and put Firemane into a spot where she has no outs. If Firemane plays the second Angel, Icicle will Fetters one and race.
If Firemane plays the Wrath, Icicle will use the Valkyrie to steal one Angel with a Fetters left for the other. Left with
no avenues and perfect information for both sides, Firemane asks that they go to the next (“and probably last”)
Round 4 to Icicle
Icicle hurtles across the ring and shoulder-blocks Firemane in the gut with a first turn of Scrying Sheets into Sensei’s
“At least I do crunches,” gasps the Angel as she rubs at her ribs.
The inevitable occurs, but it takes forty-five minutes. Firemane has to hold the Fetters for Vitu-Ghazi because Icicle
pulls no punches and jumps North for a second Scrying Sheets almost immediately. With two in play, a lone Faith’s Fetters
doesn’t seem very good, so Firemane looks for another path.
Icicle just passes with seven cards in hand every turn, continually digging at Firemane with that Top, and playing a
must-counter like Crime / Punishment. Going long, Icicle sees all four Crime / Punishments, which target Meloku, Meloku,
Firemane Angel, and finally a discarded Zur’s Weirding itself. Icicle has a 6-3 advantage in hand at this point, 21 lands
in play including all four Sheets, and three Valkyries (one in play, two in hand, all “free”). “It was a
safe bet,” she concludes.
Round 5 to Icicle
Point: Firemane Angel Control’s failing in this matchup is the result of two individual shortcomings: 1) an
inability to answer or even “keep up” with Scrying Sheets and Sensei’s Divining Top as an engine, and 2) a
“blanking” of its own trumps. The former is easy to understand, and anyone who observed tonight’s bouts can see
just how dominating the Sheets engine is against Firemane Control; the second point, though, is where Firemane is in real
trouble… This is a deck that is designed to get its namesake creatures into the graveyard, but she is playing without
real answers to Debtors’ Knell and Crime / Punishment, at least maindeck. Over and over Icicle was able to attack
Firemane’s graveyard with Crime / Punishment and Debtors’ Knell, while at the same time drawing extra cards and setting up
for an eventual victory using Saproling tokens or Adarkar Valkyries, neither of which cost her any cards.
Counterpoint: The real heartbreaker for Firemane Angel fans, though, is Zur’s Weirding. Usually she can get a
Firemane Angel advantage and lock the game up with Weirding, but against Icicle and Scrying Sheets, she can end up losing
to Adarkar Valkyrie, which trumps an actual Firemane Angel in any one-on-one affair. If Scrying Sheets picks up as a draw
engine in the coming weeks, we may see early retirement from one of Ravnica Block’s favored daughters.
Point: Even after we saw some Faith’s Fetters from Firemane, they weren’t bringing in a lot of rounds, and I
think the judges saw that. I would be willing to bet that even if Firemane had four Faith’s Fetters, Icicle would
hold the advantage. Now some Stone Rains in Game 2 or 3… That is something we can talk about, so I am not counting the
Angel out just yet.
Counterpoint: You can’t deny that the cards that Firemane relies on for her long game – Hinder as the hard
counter, and Condemn as spot – are considerably less effective against a girl who is running a dedicated shuffle engine
with Divining Tops and those bloody sheets. This is just Icicle’s second week at ‘Standard… Who knows how good
she could get with the right trainers?
ICICLE, a Snow deck, unstuck in place and time
VORE, a Red Lhurgoyf, both popular and reviled
STUART WRIGHT, an Englishman and trainer of Lhurgoyfs
(ENTER STUART, ICICLE, VORE)
Stuart – Here is my deck list:
Fight! (EXITS STAGE LEFT)
Vore – I see you have the Scrying Sheets milady, but I am no craven – if comely – Firemane Angel.
This is a Stone Rain, and it is doom upon your house.
Icicle – I must correct you, sir: That is not where I live, and hence no “house,” but
rather a nice – very nice – place to visit. This is a Sakura-Tribe Elder. Battle is joined!
Vore – Ouch! Gah! You are attacking me with all manner of infinitesimal Snakes! Perhaps I shall
counter-attack with a Lhurgoyf.
Icicle – Good day, sir! That is not “a,” but three Lhurgoyfs of questionable
breeding. Whatsoever is it that you feed them to scamper around so?
Vore – Sorceries.
Icicle – Well, it seems I have gotten you to eight.
Vore – It seems, equally, that my many blows upon your lands mattered not at all.
Icicle – Really, they did.
Vore – You have seven lands, dear miss, and, it seems, some sort Angel of northerly breeding.
Icicle – True, so it is difficult for me to articulate why exactly the destruction of so many places
– dear to my heart, or my family’s -vexed us so (beyond the obvious removal of my beloved place of repose) but really, I
felt the sting of each and every Stone Rain and Demolish. And while I have seven lands…
Vore – You have not one life point.
Icicle – And not even God’s Wrath shall bring them back. Victory is yours, sirrah.
Vore – A moment, milady, before we duel. Verily must I remove myself to Paris.
Icicle – Be quick, sir, for you begin this round.
Vore – This seems rather a dismal contest.
Icicle – You started off two steps behind, true, so I suppose I agree. It is less a contest of skill,
this one, than of fortune. Do you like my elephant?
Vore – It is significantly less problematic, from my perspective, than that bauble you keep
fingering, and that holding yonder, the one you claim is a nice place to visit, perhaps contemplate, but not your place of
Icicle – You should really do something about them then.
Vore – And I shall! It is just…
Icicle – You would think wild fire more offensive to a person of my winterly disposition?
Vore – Yes. Sadly did I have to call upon the ‘fire, but you have still your Sheets and Top and… I
shall play the only cards I am dealt. Have at you, miss!
Icicle – Again with the wanton Lhurgoyfs! In another world, truly would I be hitching up my skirt and
running for the local constabulary, but really, unless you have some Stone Rains, or… Actually let me have one of those.
Vore – Should be a Crime!
Icicle – ’tis!
Vore – I defer to your Top. Victory is yours.
Icicle – Normally, it is said, yonder Boilerworks is a boon to craftsmen of your ilk.
Vore – Truly so, but in the present contest, these productive Boilerworks do slow me more than
strengthen my reach. You cannot complain, however, not with your…
Icicle – Yes. Both Top and Sheets serve at my pleasure. Unless you pull one of those acts of Red
vandalism out of your pocket, I fear that I will not soon fail to expand the holdings of my side.
Vore – Truly your are vexing and arrogant woman. Let us try this again!
Icicle – Wild fire! Yes this burns my lands, but in my bosom beats a heart of steel – several in fact
– and these I will ransom to the recovery of my industry. You seem all right, though… Left with the Boilerworks as your
Vore – I do not wish to speak of it.
Icicle – No!
Vore – Yes!
Icicle – You hold…
Vore – Naught but another Boilerworks.
Icicle – May I see him again? Yonder Lhurgoyf?
Vore – If I say no?
Icicle – Then ’twill be a Crime.
Vore – So no different, then. Victory is yours.
Vore – You are more fortunate than you know.
Icicle – Truly? Your opening turns seem to expose a great deal of personal velocity… You practiced
Sleight of Hand like a trained magician once, then twice, then summoned up your Foundry, or…
Vore – BOILERWORKS! Boilerworks, madam, not “Foundry.” Alas, a single School, even one at
the Water’s Edge, and a Boilerworks, even of this quality, do not expose the most impressive beginnings of my order.
Icicle – And now that I have shown you my Heart?
Vore – … The opportunity has passed.
Icicle – You seem to be doing quite a bit over there. More and more Sleight of Hand… And your
librarians seem frantic.
Vore – Your Snakes are even more aggressive. … That was fortunate!
Icicle – I assume that second Demolish…
Vore – For your second Scrying Sheets? Yes. Both of them – to your consecutive Sheets – were gifts
from Fortuna. Alas it seems my luck is up.
Icicle – Your ‘fire felled my beloved, the chariot of my childhood and most adored peanut-eater.
Vore – But left me with little. Nice of your Elephant to bow out for the Snakes.
Icicle – He was politely trained as a conveyance. He lives – or lived – to serve and shelter. But I
must say, it is nicer still for your Lhurgoyf to stay in his own yard, for once.
Vore – We do what we can. Victory is yours.
Vore – Surprising, this.
Icicle – How so?
Vore – You, milady, seemed entirely in control. Your opening gestures perfect: Your Top, your Sheets,
your short trek North… All unchecked.
Icicle – But your Lhurgoyfs…
Vore – Yes. They are fine beasts.
Icicle – I thought, perhaps, to steal the duel, after your ‘fire, when God’s own hand came down to
strike your pets…
Vore – And you stole one from his rest?
Icicle – But you held one. One Sorcery more…
Vore – But you did not have it. Nor did the Fetters of your God save you.
Icicle – Truly. Faith went nowhere.
Vore – Yes, and three separate times they failed to match the anger of my unearthed pet.
Icicle – To you, victory.
Icicle – Had you been one moment slower, you surely would have lost.
Vore – Fortunate, then, that I was the first.
Icicle – Twice did my journeys go nowhere, and thrice did you bring the Stone. At least it
Vore – My Lhurgoyf was well fed.
Icicle – And relentless: Victory is yours.
Icicle – Curious, this.
Vore – Yes. Neither of us ever seemed to want it.
Icicle – I wanted it.
Vore – And you took it.
Icicle – But nothing seemed to fall into place for me.
Vore – Neither me… But then again I did not stoop to Crime.
Icicle – Such measures are common in contests such as ours.
Vore – And I thought you a Lady! Still… congratulations on your victory.
Vore – Once I was in love with a girl.
Icicle – Sirrah…
Vore – No no. Hear me out, for now I am in love with a woman. This contest last reminds me of her.
Icicle – Because you were successful in winning her heart, as well as the duel?
Vore – No. Yes. No, not entirely. You see in my youth, I was a bookish lad, and nearsighted. The
girl… She and I had something in common.
Icicle – I warn you, sir. You may have won just now, but I take a dim view of puns.
Vore – The victor is owed some indulgence. As I was saying…
Icicle – I’ll not hear it – not from your lips – for I know by your countenance where this story
ends. You, the nearsighted boy; she, the bookish lass; you had something in common.
Vore – Yes.
Icicle – We both know it, like the opening salvo of your most recent victory…
Vore – She, I, both of us, and this game…
Icicle – … all had four eyes. To you I concede victory, but not one whit of taste.
Vore – I was not aware you were capable of such aggression!
Icicle – As you have said in many of our trials, we play what we have, and what I had was a quickened
Elephant, a brother to him, and a claim in the Arctic Flats by my fourth cycle, all with the initiative.
Vore – I am unaccustomed to such a defensive stance when meeting you. You have my respect. One
Icicle – Does it concern the Sheets?
Vore – No… It is just… Will my ‘fires ever be good?
Icicle – Not when you hide behind them, seeing plaid, like they are the pleats of your mother’s
skirt! Did you win your four-eyed lady love with such timidity? Why even your Lhurgoyfs, normally so wild, never strayed
Vore – A fine contest, and an enlightening one, my dear, if humbling. Victory is yours.
Icicle – You could scarcely have played a more perfect opening game.
Vore – Agreed. You were not able to develop whatsoever. Perhaps this is the victory of industry over
the wild places?
Icicle – Victory, perhaps, in this one contest, but not for ever, my rival… What is it that we have
Vore – It seems only that we are evenly matched.
Matchup 5: Tron-Wildfire with Simic Sky Swallower
I elected to go with this version of Tron-Wildfire because when I play online, people are always casting Simic Sky
Swallower against me. I don’t know if this is the best – or even a very good – version, and when I test against BDM, he
always complains that he can’t hit the Green mana. However it’s the version of Tron-Wildfire that struck me most, when I
saw it qualify in Connecticut, just because of the Simic Sky Swallowers.
There are many unusual elements to this deck, such as the dual Electrolyzes, which seem a little out of place. You
will see in a few games that they actually end up being important to the matchup.
Game 1 goes long because Tron doesn’t draw Green for many turns (and the proposed clock is obviously Simic Sky Swallower).
The particulars of the game are very long and complicated, but it comes down to two Demonfires. I saw the writing on the
wall with the first Demonfire and played two Fetters and a Hierarch to try to stay in it, but one hit from the Sky
Swallower made the second Demonfire a foregone conclusion. Tron.
Tron stalls for a bit and never really gets to where it wants to be development-wise. I had turn 1 Top, turn 2 Into the
North, and the full Scrying Sheets engine online by the third. Academic for Icicle.
Tron drew no early Signets, so basically had no action, to my first turn Top into Scrying Sheets, which fired every turn.
I played three Crime / Punishments, one killing three Signets, one killing two Dragons, and the last one getting me a
Dragon to kill him with. Icicle.
Tron’s plan was a single Demonfire for 28, but could only muster a 26-pointer. Saprolings won it after Loxodon Hierarch
did some softening up of the Tron armor. Strategically I found Tron wanting against Vitu-Ghazi in many contests – not just
against Icicle – and in this game it had seven cards including a ton of Remands, and it just did nothing while Icicle
worked over with the land abilities. Tron actually had two Wildfires but didn’t really want to play one or both because it
would have been so far behind on the board, and anyway, there was that whole “Demonfire for 28” plan that never
I stalled on three and ate a Wildfire. Tron.
I was manascrewed despite first turn Top off a Sheets. Tron did nothing because its clock was – you guessed it – Simic Sky
Swallower, so it didn’t have Green for a long time. Luckily good old Wildfire kicked the manascrewed Icicle down the
stairs, and Tron eventually got the Green. Tron.
Icicle stalls on mana and does nothing. Tron casts three non-Signet spells: Electrolyze, Electrolyze, Demonfire for 16.
Icicle has the tools but Tron has two Demonfires. The Tron land combo comes fairly late in the game, but soon enough that
the pair of burn spells are lethal. Tron.
You actually have no idea how many hours of playtesting went into this article. All these CENSOREDCENSORED Steam Vents
decks take an hour a game. I fell asleep on four different nights at my computer screen for the Tron matchup alone. Here
are my notes for this game:
SSS ONLY BLOCKER IS KEIGA… U/G/W FUNISHES IT WITH FETTERS AFFECT LIVING CONDIONTS
I’m just going to make this one up because I don’t remember anything other than the decks split the last two games
(meaning that Tron won), and I think I deleted the game notes because they’re not in my test file.
Let’s see… Hmmm… “Tron had no Green but picked up Tron two turns before dying and played two Demonfires for
16 each.” Satisfied? Tron.
Matchup Six: Heartbeat
Oh wait! Heartbeat plays no Steam Vents! Wouldn’t want to lose article focus, would we? Let’s just estimate that it is
a 10-0 victory for Icicle. I mean, Heartbeat has no way to disrupt the combo, right? Remand your Divining Top? As
I was actually quite stunned at the drubbing Icicle gave to Firemane, but the more I played the matchup, the more
sense it made. The matchup is already a blowout, but it seems Cranial Extraction can remove any possibility of Firemane
staying in it… Maybe Firemane runs the Jushis? They don’t actually seem very good here because Icicle has more mana and
is perfectly willing to run Crime / Punishment for two to kill Signets.
Vore was quite interesting. The matchup kind of reminded me of when Lucas Glavin made up the hybrid combo deck for
Grand Prix Boston a couple of years back. I didn’t realize Lucas was playing a hybrid deck, but Jeff Garza told me it was
half Life, half Cephalid Breakfast. I had played Red Deck Wins, and helped put Josh Ravitz on the gravy train with his Top
16 there, so I was obviously quite curious about the matchup given that it was about to become mainstream.
Me: Well, Life is really good against Red Deck Wins, and Cephalid Breakfast… is really bad. So when you put them
Jeff: You get a deck that’s really medium against it?
That’s what the Vore matchup was like. On one hand, Vore can kill Scrying Sheets, which Firemane could not
consistently do. This was bad for Icicle. On the other hand, Icicle makes a ton of lands, often out-stripping Vore’s
manabase, making Wildfire quite bad. The result? A 5-5 draw.
After this matchup, I think I want Condemn as the anti-beatdown card (remember the discussion from last week).
The Tron matchup seemed completely random to me. Neither deck did anything to the other deck to stop its proactive
game. Tron couldn’t really beat Vitu-Ghazi or slow down Scrying Sheets; the best Icicle could do about the UrzaTron
appearing, setting up one or more ten-plus point Demonfires was play some “gain four life” cards and hope. That
didn’t work out so well, which is why Icicle was on the wrong end of the 4-6.
Interestingly, the Tron matchup seems much more positive to me than the Heezy Street matchup, where Icicle opened on a
7-3. The Heezy Street wins, a lot of them, seemed desperate, like if Mark’s deck ripped a burn spell, Icicle was done
fore. Most of the Tron losses, by comparison, were Tron holding nothing that mattered, often getting worked by lands, but
then lucksacking into the Tron to set up one or two big burn spells. Really it seemed like Tron had no strategic advantage
or even plan, and no relevant answers for the cards that mattered. It could only exploit a manascrew with a Wildfire or
ramp lands and blast, with nothing in between (its men didn’t tend to live long). This matchup, maybe even more than
Heartbeat or Firemane, seems like one where a well-placed Cranial Extraction or two would be game.
Speaking of Heartbeat, I was just kidding. I can’t imagine that matchup being good. It might be worse for Icicle than
Icicle was for Firemane.
All that said, I know that it is a little unbalanced to test a new Coldsnap deck against essentially Regionals decks,
but they are the foundation on which Coldsnap Standard will be built. From where I am sitting, Icicle seems like a good
starting point for a deck, with solid matchups against a lot of the potential opponents, and strong sideboard options. I
know the testing wasn’t exhaustive across all known decks, but like I said, I think it’s a good start for a new archetype.