Mining The Crystal Quarry: 88.3% Rare, 100% Fun

The goal of the deck is to get enough mana to cast Insurrection and Day of the Dragons in the same turn. Win or lose, people are impressed by this deck – or at least, the sheer audacity of running a four-color deck based around a fifteen-mana combo. It has no real creature removal, no counters, no disruption… Just pure, solid, combo-assembling fun.

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but the concept selection phase for You Make the Card 2 is on! Now, it might just be me tooting my own horn and I may be misguided… But Concept C might be the one that I submitted. Either way, it’s as close as we’ll ever get to what I think the card should be. So I’m voting for it. And I’m hoping you guys do, too! For the curious, here’s what I submitted:

“A hand reaches towards an hour glass, with a planet in one chamber disintegrating into a new planet in the bottom chamber.”

Anyway, on to the usual rants and ravings…

How often would we play multiplayer without the thrill of the huge, impressive, super-macho-impressive play waiting for us? You know, the one that just about ends the game right there, right now? The one that gathers all the”oohs” and”aahs” from the crowd when you pull it off…

This one’s a personal favorite, mainly because it’s just so… damn… flashy! It’s extremely defensive to begin with, hoping that firstly, your opponents aren’t playing heavy red burn, and secondly, your opponents are playing creatures. Let’s cut straight to the meat of the issue.

Here’s the decklist.

Day of Insurrection

4 Day of the Dragons

4 Insurrection

4 Mirari’s Wake

1 Sol Ring

1 Enlightened Tutor

1 Mystical Tutor

4 Sylvan Library

4 Abundance

4 Moment’s Peace

4 Abeyance

4 Orim’s Chant

1 City of Brass

4 Plateau

4 Tundra

4 Savannah

4 Tropical Island

4 Taiga

4 Volcanic Island

By no means is this an aggro deck, evidenced by the complete and utter lack of creatures. The other thing that stands out is the disgusting percentage of rares in the deck (88.3%). Why so many? Consider that as I go into the deck.

Oscar Tan had an excellent discussion of how power cards do not automatically make a good deck. At the same time, rare cards are not automatically better than their common or uncommon brethren. For a brilliant example, see Oscar’s observations on Invincible Counter Troll on this same site.

This deck has a tangential problem – tons of rares – but it’s more fun than competitive. The goal of the deck is to get enough mana to cast Insurrection and Day of the Dragons in the same turn. This is done in a combination of two ways – casting Moment’s Peace, Orim’s Chant and Abeyance until the cows come home, thereby stalling attacks and players with dangerous spells, and resolving a Mirari’s Wake or two or three or four. Speeding up the process are the drawing cards in the form of Sylvan Library and Abundance, bolstered by the mandatory singletons of Mystical Tutor and Enlightened Tutor.

After the first iteration of the combo, the deck loses much of its power, since the surprise of the combo is what keeps people from not laying down any creatures. A relatively defenseless you may not draw as much attention as the guy laying down the threats.

Once the deck is played, however, players will gang up on you. Your only hope is that [author name="Bennie Smith"]Bennie Smith’s[/author] legendary Chuck has showed up at your previous game and ticked everyone off. Once you’re done with the first game, you’ll have to make better use out of the sparse defenses you have – pass up drawing combo pieces for defensive spells, sitting back, and having a better idea of who to Chant, and when to Abeyance… For instance, hit the guy with the counters.

This deck has two glaring weaknesses aside from the loss of surprise – plentiful burn and plentiful discard. As it stands, the deck is all about the combo and mana consistency. Four Cities of Brass would have given better access to mana, but the problem there is that you already have such a limited amount of life as is, that the extra pain isn’t worth it at all. That’s where all the dual lands come in. This complicates things because of cards like Destructive Flow, Ruination, and other non-basic land destruction. But hey, who plays extensive amounts of that these days?*

But come now – there’s no equal feeling to stealing everyone’s creatures, getting them pumped by your Mirari’s Wakes, attacking with them, casting Day of the Dragons, and getting quite a few 5/5 flying dragons pumped by your Mirari’s Wakes – and having them untapped, for that matter, waiting to smash some face. And even if, for some reason, they manage to remove the Day of the Dragons, you still get to keep the original creatures.


This, I need to say, is a pure Johnny Deck. It’s not about efficiency; it’s not about raw power. It’s about the stylish finish. Smashy smashy!

This deck illustrates an important concept that Mark Rosewater was trying to illustrate. Rares are not only big, flashy, powerful cards, but they provide unique effects that no other cards can.**

Stylistic twists on the deck involve Upwelling, which will let you and your cohorts store mana away for a rainy day. Personally, I find it unreliable, since I also didn’t want to add a mana sink to this deck. I can’t make the space.

This is my pet deck – or at least it was, since it’s worn out its welcome in multiplayer games. One place where it does excel, however, is in Emperor games. The hasted creatures you’ve caused to Insurrect can be passed to your lieutenants… Then they get dragons to defend you and to destroy your enemies! Best when flanked by fast, aggressive decks, such as goblins or discard, this deck answers creature-based threats like groundpounders and flying monstrosities such as Exalted Angel.

Win or lose, people are impressed by this deck – or at least, the sheer audacity of running a four-color deck based around a fifteen-mana combo. It has no real creature removal, no counters, no disruption… Just pure, solid, combo-assembling fun.

Just a few minor points about the cards in the deck – more of a basic overview of card functionality, mind you, something most advanced players know already, but there are nuances to playing the cards, especially in this deck.


Remember, lands can still use their mana abilities. Creatures can still attack. Creatures can still be cast. That means that Abeyance is best used during your upkeep, keeping your opponent from interfering with your spellcasting. Fun, right? Target the Counterspell player with this.

Orim’s Chant

Abilities can still be used, but this shuts everything else down. Orim’s Chant is as close to a Time Walk you’re going to get for two mana these days. It’s best used during your opponent’s upkeep to keep him dead in his tracks. Smack the burn or aggro player with this.

Moment’s Peace

The first use negates an attack; after that, the fact that it’s now visible to all your opponents means that most players will (mistakenly) focus their attacks elsewhere, trying to get the most out of tapping their creatures. Personally, I would attack until the Peaces are gone, meaning that the combo player is wiiiiiiiiiiide open for bashings…


One is all that’s needed, so you can handily pitch the rest when you need to. If at all possible, keep one in hand as a backup just in case the original gets destroyed. If you get this early on, get lands if you’re not being land flooded – that way, you can have the appropriate amount of mana as soon as possible. It’s a bad thing to get a handful of Day of the Dragons or Insurrections before you can cast them.

Sylvan Library

In this deck, it’s not as good to pay four life for the extra card. Use this as a card selection engine until you get the pieces you need.

In conjunction with Abundance, here’s how it works: Abundance is a replacement ability, meaning that when you use it to replace the draws made by Sylvan Library, there are, technically, no draws. Sylvan Library instructs you to return two cards that you have drawn this turn, but cards put in your hand using the Sylvan’s ability don’t count as being drawn – so you return nothing, and keep the two cards that have been mysteriously placed into your hand.

And here’s the thing – the more Sylvan Libraries you have out, the more cards you can”draw” if you have an Abundance out. Normally, multiple Sylvan Libraries just mean that you look at the same three cards over and over again – but if you have an Abundance out, each ability is replaced, meaning you get two cards from each Sylvan Library draw replacement. With all Libraries out, you can draw nine cards of the type of your choice (that is, land or nonland). It’s hard not to get what you need when you have an uncounterable Ancestral Recall each turn.

Sol Ring

Should be the target of your Enlightened Tutor unless a Mirari’s Wake is the only thing keeping you from fifteen mana. In other words, early on, Tutor for this, then the Wake. Like Cabal Coffers, Mirari’s Wake is obviously a better mana producer later on – but like Dark Ritual, Sol Ring is more explosive, letting you cast an abundance on turn 3, or a Mirari’s Wake on turn 4.

This is a combo deck, though. Play it if you don’t mind being smashed every now and then, simply because of a bad matchup, or people ganging up on you after you play it once or twice.

It is, however, extremely satisfying to play with. Ooohs and Ahhhs will result from the crowd watching. Your opponents and allies will both gasp.

Score one for Johnny! Rise up!!! Rise up and… ummm… Insurrect!!!!

What is the verb form of insurrection, anyway?

John Liu

“Is $10 a good price to pay for an Unlimited Sinkhole?”

“Yes. Maybe a tad high, but given the current inflation…”

“I miss when Magic was just a game and not economics and card prices.”

“Those comments are not withstanding the price I paid for my Sinkholes, of course.”


“…and don’t ask.”

* – Cryptic foreshadowing should creep into your mind now about my next article…

** – Don’t get me wrong; I’d be more than glad to open any of these rares.