Multiplayer Is An Art, Part 13: Dwarven Patrol and Deep Spawn.

These are particularly eccentric decks. They do weird stuff, attract onlookers, make them laugh, make your opponent die smiling. People will want revenge against these decks when they lose – and they won’t mind being beaten again, because the decks are funny.

Now I am going to warn you in advance: This isn’t going to be about multiplayer in particular. Of course, one can play multiplayer with the two decks I’m about to describe… But that would be an exercise in futility, for these decks aren’t good. Of course they win their share in casual duels – but in multiplayer you will be as vulnerable as somebody standing in a lake with a wooden duck on top of his head. And in single duel, with only one opponent, the decks get beaten more often than I am used to tolerating from my own creations.

Then why do I bother to tell you about them?

Well, they’re particularly eccentric decks. They do weird stuff, attract onlookers, make them laugh, make your opponent die smiling. People will want revenge against these decks when they lose – and they won’t mind being beaten again. Because the decks are funny. I play them when I don’t mind losing.

And I play them against the new players whose decks aren’t as savagely good as more accomplished players’ decks. Against them, these”bad” decks make for some exciting duels. Against inexperienced players, playing these suboptimal decks makes for a fair match-up. And it makes them laugh when they lose, and cry haHAAA like Sir Lancelot, the Brave, when they win.”HaHAAA! I beat you, Stijn!” And a damned good job they did at it, too.

And next week, they’re back… But with a Power Sink or three in their decks:”When you countered my stuff with Evasive Action, I thought that Power Sink might also be good because it counters, too.” And that’s what I’m looking for. No, I don’t mean that they should copy me, and become advocates of my being – I mean that they start to understand the value of Exclude over Rhox. And they learn it through the examples presented to them by me and all the other good players here at the Labyrinth.

Now let’s have some decklists. Let me show you what I was talking about all along.

4x Dwarven Patrol

4x Quicksilver Dagger

When the Invasion block reached full maturity, this neat little trick was thrown into my lap at the prerelease. I vowed to build a Block Constructed deck with as lone creatures the four Patrols. And then I vowed to have them only deal damage with the Daggers. So the rest of my deck had to be filled with the cheapest spells available – and with some defense, so that I don’t perish to onrushing creature stampedes.

Luckily, there are two main characteristics of bounce spells: They tend to break the momentum of stampedes and the are generally cheap. Seems just what I was looking for! So we sojourn towards Repulse and Jilt – the latter also provides some permanent answers to small and fast creatures, the former helping you to keep the Dwarven Daggerslingers going.

Each non-red spell played gives you a card with an armed Dwarf in play and deals one damage to an opponent. So it is key to play as many spells as possible. This asks for cantrips, like the Repulse. That way, playing one spell puts two more cards in your hand, one of which is bound to be another spell. And to help fate out a little, we want some fine digging spells at as cheap a price as possible. Can there be a better choice than Opt? It digs, probably gets you a new spell with a very high percentage of success – and it untaps the Dwarven Patrols to boot!

Worldly Counsel also digs into your deck… But when my eyes are not deceiving me, this deck is only a deck with two different types of basic lands, which doesn’t do much good to domain spells. But I do have a foily shiny Counsel, so I just had to include it. Now there’s one copy in the deck. But since I like neat packages of four cards, or two packages of two cards, or one of two and two of three, or whatever permutation you can think up that ends up at a total of cards divisible by four, I just had to add three other cards for making the”weird” package. The cards had to be cheap, blue and cost a single mana, 1U tops. That’s where Sisay’s Ingenuity comes in. This enchant creature costs only a single drop of water and cantrips upon entry. When a card already has such amazing qualities, you don’t care what it does anymore. So the Ingenuity it is, twice because we don’t want to draw it all that often, and because variation keeps you healthy. So a fourth card is required.

You know what sucks? Drawing land with your Daggered-up Patrol so that you can’t keep going, and going, and going… So the land has to go. A single Manipulate Fate is there to manipulate the fate of drawing yourself into a mana flood. It is blue and it is cheap (1U) and it says:”Draw a card.” ‘nough said.

Of course, we will need to protect our dwarves once they are up and active. There are only four of them, and when one is lost with Dagger and all, that should be cause for six weeks of mourning. Hence, we play with some countermagic. But it should be some bad magic, because all the good counters were already used up in my serious IBC decks. I had only the Evasive Actions and two Excludes left. Oh, wait, and Prohibit counters stuff, too… Albeit not in a very good way, whatever some guys over at the old Bdominia used to say.

The two Excludes left (I had three decks using them, and didn’t want to bother other people with asking for them, so I was stuck with only two left over to use) are in, for sure. It was a time of Flametongues. It was a time of Mystic Snakes. Creatures were just as dangerous to my dwarves as any spell could ever be. And when my Dungeons and Dragon character loves his Evasion, then why should I not use the Evasive Actions in Magic? They’re in, too. I mean, I also played with Miscalculate, back in it’s day. Heck, I’ll even throw in a Reef Shaman to make the Evasive Actions into Mana Leaks. One spot left: Fill it with Prohibit. When someone asks you why, mutter something about diversity.

Some more on the Reef Shaman: He costs only one mana, chumps large or even blocks diminutive creatures, embiggens the effect of your Evasive Actions, potentially screws opponents on a color they only have few lands of – and, last but not least, he is a target for a Quicksilver Dagger when there are absolutely no Dwarves around.

We have lots of digging cards, so we’re only going to play with twenty lands, and only with seven of them being Mountains. We only have eight red cards, which all require only a single red mana. And we could also use some Chromatic Spheres, should we really need some red mana while bereft of mountains. The Sphere fits in perfectly, costing only a generic mana and cantripping when you cast your next spell. They also smooth out the mana, should that be needed. And because they’re not red, they make the Patrol untap – which is precisely what we all want, don’t we?

Four slots left. Isn’t it a shame to have four copies of Fire/Ice wasting away in some storage binder? The red side can be quite effective – like that needs being told – and the blue side is almost a natural for this deck. It is a very good card and I’m always glad to draw some with this deck. I’ll give a final list:

4x Dwarven Patrol

4x Quicksilver Dagger

4x Repulse

4x Jilt

4x Opt

4x Fire / Ice

4x Chromatic Sphere

4x Evasive Action

2x Exclude

2x Sisay’s Ingenuity

1x Worldly Counsel

1x Prohibit

1x Manipulate Fate

1x Reef Shaman

7x Montanha

13x Isola

Heh; why did I type out that list? This deck can be built in a myriad of ways. It’s not really important that you use exactly two Ingenuities and only one Prohibit. Build it as you like it! Make it type I and play with Volcanic Islands, Rays of Erasure, Withdraws, Undos, and real good Counterspells and Dismisses. Do as you like. This deck makes people who know it say things to oblivious opponents, like:”Now you’re done for, matey. You’ll never beat that. Hey Pete, come on and watch – that deck’s being played again!” Have fun with it – I know you can.

Your opponents will have some, too, I believe. Unless they’re absolutely bereft of any kind of affinity for humor.

I already used the word”bereft” twice in this article, while all my former articles where entirely bereft of it. Isn’t that a coincidence?

Recipe for a Zephid:

1x Donate

2x Celestial Dawn

1x Ghostly Flame

4x Mind Bend

1x Voice of Law

1x Holy Strength

1x Life Lace

1x Divert

1x Fugitive Druid

Cast the Celestial Dawns and Donate one. Alter both the Dawns with two Mind Bends, changing Plains into Mountains, and changing all instances of”white” to”red.” Cast the Voice of Law and the Fugitive Druid. Then target the Fugitive Druid with the Holy Strength. Life Lace the Strength and Divert it to the Voice. Now cast Ghostly Flame. You now have a 3/4 flying creature that cannot be targeted by spells or abilities because it has protection from red and everything is red… Yet it still receives damage from global effects because of the Ghostly Flame.

Damn – there’s a crook in the above recipe. The wannabe Zephid can’t be blocked by creatures. This could be solved by casting Darkest Hour at the end, but that also makes the Zephid vulnerable to activated abilities of creatures. When trying to fix this with Unquestioned Authority, one bumps on the unblockability concern again. Maybe Zephid is just too good to be copied. Unless…

Just do the Darkest Hour thing, and then play Cursed Totem! That should do it. Oh, it still doesn’t. The Zephid can now still be targeted by stuff like opposing Ernham Djinn.

Damnation, this is hard. But I think I’ve got it: we add a Flagbearer. That should keep those Ernie-invoked targetings at bay. Let’s have another one before we head over to the Deep Spawn part of this article.

Recipe for a Zephid:

1x Vodalian Soldiers

1x Zephid’s Embrace

Heh – that one didn’t count.

Recipe for a Zephid:

1x Levitation

1x Aura Thief

1x Reins of Power

1x Terror

1x Cloud Spirit

1x Lightning Bolt

1x Sacred Boon

1x Mystic Veil

Play Levitation, Aura Thief, and then Reins of Power. Terror the Thief, making all opposing creatures fly. Now cast the Cloud Spirit and Bolt its head in. Just before the Lightning strikes home, play a Sacred Boon, changing the three damage into three +0/+1 counters. Mystic Veil takes care of the untargetability-part. The ability to only be able to block fliers is effectively neutered by making all opposing creatures fly. Pretty clever, huh? Let me tell you what Deep Spawn does.


Creature – Homarid


During your upkeep you may put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard. If you don’t, sacrifice Deep Spawn.

U: Deep Spawn cannot be the target of spells or effects until end of turn. Tap Deep Spawn. It does not untap during your next untap step.


So what is this, apart from an incredible picture? (Just look at the texture on its scales. How realistic does that look? I think it has to be one of the best pieces in Magic art.) It is a perfect companion for Gurzigost… But Gurzigost already had Oath of Druids as its bestest buddy, so it didn’t need the Spawn. The Spawn was reduced to placing small contact ads in local newspapers – until I picked him up and put him in a deck, together with three of his doppelgangers.

Was I going to beat down with the beasts? Eventually. But they were there primarily to sacrifice them to the Homarid Spawning Bed.



1UU, sacrifice a blue creature, like a Zephid, but we don’t get that here very often: put X 1/1 Camarid tokens into play, where X is the sacrificed creature’s converted mana cost.

These two cards were made for each other. The Spawn is cast, mills you once, beats for six, and then falls apart in eight small crawling baby spawns. Cute. But what are we going to do with it?


That’s a lot of mana, boy.

“Browse and or Treasure Trove.”

That, combined with the above, is two cards, dude.

“Wild Growth, Fertile Ground, Overgrowth.”

That is a serious lot of cards, man.

What did you say – did you draw into another Deep Spawn? Then by all means, cast it! Sacrifice it! Draw more cards! And isn’t that another Fertile Ground I saw just there? What are you waiting for? Slap it down on that land that already had an Overgrowth. That will increase your rate of card drawing to tapping one creature for drawing one card. Draw more Deep Spawns, enlarge the output of your lands, draw Gaea’s Blessing to put some Spawns back into your deck. End up with a start of something like this:

4x Deep Spawn

4x Earthcraft

4x Homarid Spawning Bed

3x Wild Growth

3x Fertile Ground

2x Overgrowth

3x Gaea’s Blessing

2x Treasure Trove

3x Browse

There are more Browses than Treasure Troves, because Browse helps to search faster. But in the end, you will want to switch over to Treasure Trove, because you can afford to only lose a single Blessing. Having to remove a second one with Browse makes your infinity a little big bit less infinite.

All this would have been even more terrible than it already is if it had not been for the fact that there are some more creatures in the deck. There are four Raven Familiars. They search a little bit, possibly repay their entire mana cost upon entry via the Earthcraft/Overgrowth, and they give back three tokens, granting a profit of about six to ten mana – given that you have a properly enchanted land. The crows are very, very good. And because the Crow tries to emulate Impulse, let’s show him how it’s done and play a real set of Impulses. That searches, too.

This entire cascade of creatures untapping lands, drawing you cards in search of more creatures, can easily jump up to hyper speed when an Intruder Alarm happens to hit play. In that case, playing a single creature will untap a lot of tokens, freeing up a beastly big lump of mana, resulting in awfully much cardness. Once the Alarm is drawn while you are trying to”go off,” you will probably have won. Remember to untap all of your own creatures a lot of times when you activate the Spawning Bed. Use and abuse the stack in response to its numerous triggering. You will have won when you draw it in such a situation, I promise. You will have won by gaining obscure amounts of mana, activating Whetstone an equally dark amount of times while you’re keeping your library stocked with Gaea’s Blessing. Prosperity for one, or for two, ends the game. Don’t worry if your Prosperity gets removed while Browsing; you can always just say:”go” when your opponent’s deck is empty; Whetstone can also be replaced by casting Prosperity for two, casting Gaea’s Blessing, Casting the Prosperity again, ad fundum; when both are removed from the game, swing with your vast army of Camarid Comrades, burying your opponents beneath crawling doom.

The total deck eyes thus:

4x Deep Spawn

4x Earth Craft

4x Homarid Spawning Bed

3x Wild Growth

3x Fertile Ground

2x Overgrowth

3x Gaea’s Blessing

2x Treasure Trove

3x Browse

4x Raven Familiar

4x Impulse

2x Intruder Alarm

1x Pierre à aiguiser

1x Prosperity

10x Insel

10x Wald

This immense pile isn’t very consistent. It can win on your fourth turn, or n keep you waiting until your eighth turn. It is very easily disrupted and packs no defense to make it to the end, except for chumping with Ravens in the beginning, when you have no Spawning Bed out yet. I found that consistency is greatly increased when the Deep Spawns are replaced by Palinchrons. But that would cost you about two thirds of your style points, because comboing out with Palinchron is often done, while tricking out with the giant lobster is rare indeed. The Palinchron doesn’t only increase consistency by doing infinite mana tricks by bouncing itself, it also speeds the advent of the”crucial turn” by one turn. Usually, you win the turn after you cast your first Deep Spawn. Palinchron untaps the lands, so it makes you win on the turn you cast your first Palinchron.

And the combo never fizzles completely. When you fail to win the turn you try to, you will win for sure during the next turn, when you get to untap all your tokens and lands… Because while trying to win, you will surely have built an amount of tokens equal to about 19 or 22. That should be a win during the next turn.

It’s a lot of fun to play this deck against an opponent who has never seen combo decks before. At first, he will think you are weak because you don’t defend yourself against his Krosan Archers. Then the turn comes where he can cast his Thriss, Nantuko Primus. But then, all of a sudden, he loses. Out of nowhere. Just when he got his largest creature – tied with Rhox, of course – in play! Combo will amaze new players, and this combo will also grant them some wins because you were too slow. It will also grant you some wins, though, because, bad as this deck may seem, it does have it’s moments. There’s nothing much one can do against a fourth turn mill for 666. Especially so when it’s followed by:”Prosperity, X will be 6.” That rhymes, and stays in theme with milling for 666, and stays in theme with the music I’m hearing right now, and probably matches the middle three numbers of the phone number of somebody I know – but that last one is of no relevance.

Remember to pull out a deck like this when playing the new kid in town. Some people may quit when they never win. Or at least when they never win and never had a chance. This gives them their chance, hopefully makes them laugh, and should give you some enjoyable games against opponents you should normally beat with two fingers up your nose.

Recipe for a Zephid:

1x Yawgmoth’s Demon

1x Serpent Generator

2x Thran Dynamo

1x Weakness

1x Sicken

1x Mammoth Harness

1x Flight

1x Prismatic Lace

1x Spiritual Asylum

Play the Demon and enchant it with everything – but make sure you play the Flight after you play the Harness. Play the Dynamos and the Generator. Make a token each upkeep, for free, to satisfy the Demon’s needs. The Mammoth Harness neuters the first strike the Demon has, while the Flight gives it back it’s flying ability that was also taken by the Harness. Finish the job with the Asylum, making the soon-to-be Zephid untargetable. While the Demon was still on the stack, the Lace had already painted it blue.

I wanna hear you sing, paint it blue. Blue as night, blue as coal. I wanna see the sun, blotted out from the sky. Paint it blue…


Emperial Regards,

Stijn van Dongen,