Multiplayer Is An Art, Part 14: Drow Conspiracy

People love the single Drizzt allusion I made last time more than they love my article. More than half of the responses were about the Matron Mother. So what else is a man to do but make a Dark Elves deck that smashes face in multiplayer?

Sob… Sob… People love the single Drizzt allusion I made last time more than they love my article. More than half of the responses were about the Matron Mother.

I feel so left out. What has Salvatore got that I have not? Is it the alluring sinister society he created for his Dark Elves, known to many people as The Drow? Is it the expertise yet ruthlessness these ebony-skinned, white-maned worshippers of the chaotic evil demon goddess Lolth show when entering battle with their enchanted twin scimitars and their magical Piwafwi cloaks that shield body heat, rendering them invisible to infrared-perceiving beings?

Is it the fact that R. A. Salvatore doesn’t use confusing and overlong sentences like that last one?

Maybe it even has something to do with the fact that the Drow society is entirely matriarchal, with males being virtually worthless outside of combat, and women walking around carrying whips all day long.

Oh, and the coolest response about the Drow was a single p.s. sent in a separate mail:

“May your Spirit-Wraiths always find their target.”


If you don’t have a clue as to what that might mean, go read the books – or go and ask someone who does know, myself being included in that latter crowd. I myself am also included in the crowd that is now going to write about an elf deck that said crowd – but I will cleverly name it a Drow deck instead, so as to please more readers.

But I am partially correct about the elves being dark and evil. Am I the type to build a straightforward Cradle-ball elf deck? I thought not. I would much rather have my elves hang around being 6/6 with protection from black, and eating other creatures – my own as well as my opponents’.

The title already gave away that I was going to use Conspiracy… And I already implied I was going to name”Elves” with it every time. But I will now clarify why I think Elves are the best choice for a Conspiracy.

  • “Walls” is a bad choice. That’s only viable when you see an opponent slamming some Aura Thieves around.

  • “Uncle Istvan” is a very classy choice. It shows your good sense of humour and you will get credit for such an original play on your behalf. “But it doesn’t do anything. No, it does nothing.” – Null Rod.

  • “Orcs” ensure an endless supply of Raiding Party fodder. You know, when I was only eleven years old, and I only knew the English word”party” meant”celebrational gathering,” I really, really wondered what a Raiding Party would be. But the Twix candy bar was still called Raider back then, so maybe it was just a happy gathering where the orcs ate lots of chocolate with crunchy biscuit and creamy caramel. That made sense. What didn’t make sense was that all plains got destroyed in the process. Due to littering, perhaps? Orcs are a rowdy bunch, so they’re bound to leave all those Twix wrappers out there on the open plains. White creatures can be tapped to save plains? Well of course – that’s because they should be tapped to pick up all the junk. Who can save your white lands? The garbage man can, the garbage man. Works hand in hand with the Candy Man, who also Can. And Orcish Captain sucks, as does the Commander.

  • “Heroes” gives all your creatures a blaze of glory. It also makes your Aysen Crusaders immensely big. The best choice up until now.

  • “Barbarians” make for stupid situations where Sages and Clerics have the

    “Barbarian” creature type… And there’s also the bonus of Balthor the Stout. But that’s all. It also does not combine well with Miss Demeanor, Lady of Proper Etiquette

  • “Vampires” make for a beautiful Cosa Nostra-like organization, with Baron Sengir as its Godfather.

  • There’s stuff like Zhalfirin Commander and Icatian Lieutenant, that boost Knights and Soldiers… At a hefty cost. The Icatian guy is favored because of the existence of Enlistment Officer.

  • “Chimeras” make the original four able to merge with all other creatures you control. Suboptimal.

  • It is said that rats come in one amount: too many. But Pestilence Rats can’t help but disagree.

  • Am I not unmistaken in the fact that Balthor, the Defiled enlarges your Minions?

  • Thrulls will give your Ebon Praetor a very consistent +1/+0 bonus each turn. It will also ensure your Tourach’s Gate never runs out of Time counters. Soul Exchange will always give its +2/+2 counter away when the Conspiracy is set to Thrulls. And Thrull Champion will make all your guys bigger. Donating another Conspiracy on”Thrulls” makes the Champion even better, stealing creatures like his life depended on it.

  • While staying on the Donate track, Donate a Conspiracy on Knights and watch your Knights of the Mist become real killers. Yeah. While this trick is often used in Mind Magic to get rid of Suq’ata Lancers, it just won’t cut it in multiplayer.

  • Still steady on the Donate track, try and donate one on Efreets or Djinns. Then play Suleiman’s Legacy and laugh maniacally.

  • Get more use out of your legendary lands with a conspiracy for Legends! They now band with each other. Sword of the Chosen becomes a free Nantuko Disciple. Well hooray with shiny brass knobs on it! You will only make yourself vulnerable to Tsu-auh-bo Tavok.

  • “Treefolk.” Verdeloth the Ancient will be honored with the task of boosting all your creatures.

  • “Saprolings.” Verdeloth the Ancient will be honored with the task of boosting all your creatures, and Nemata will now eat any of your guys to strengthen all the others. Elvish Farmer turns all your creatures into 66 cl Bottle Gnomes. Thallid Devourer starts to look like some sort of Fallen Angel, having fallen being represented with the fact that he doesn’t fly.

  • This is a good one:”Aurochs” will make all your original Aurochs huge when attacking! Aurochs, 2/3, 3G, gets +1/+0 when attacking for each other attacking Auroch. It was the first idea of overrunning or stampeding creatures. A single Auroch may feed a village, a herd may flatten it.

  • For the Portal-minded people out there: Nightstalkers will give you a personal All Hallows Eve when Return of the Nightstalkers is played. It will also give you a personal Wake of Destruction.

  • Rebels? That would be about the opposite of the above choices. Boring, unoriginal, and getting you beatings instead of head nods. When playing Conspiracy, please leave Sin Livvi at home – she’s busy enough already. Besides, rebels just get killed dead in Drow society.

  • “Cephalids” (Microsoft word spell checker: syphilis) will, combined with Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor, turn all of your army into free Icies. Word to your mother… Ice, Ice, baby. Wait a minute – that’s just like an overcosted, off-color Opposition! Beh. Just save it for when you absolutely want to play with eight copies of Opposition.

  • Druids give Seton, Krosan Protector, more use… But that’s bad. Who wins with mana alone?

  • “Clerics” give Master Apothecary more use. That’s a little bit better.

  • “Wizards” give Patron Wizard more use, and also embiggen the goodness of Wandering Mage… That last choice is obviously the best of these three, for each token churned out of your Breeding Pit becomes yet another Force Spike. Grizzly Fate? Flashback? Pay eight more for all of your spells, dear fellow players. Spontaneous Generation for seven, Squirrel Nest. It could all work to lay a solid lock. Imagine the wizards that come crawling out of a squirrel nest each turn!

  • Of course, I will not forget the other parts of this cycle of three mana-costed lords. The black one is discussed later… But the red one will be told about now. Dwarven Bloodboiler makes all of your creatures able to help each other in combat. That can be combined with Dwarven Lieutenant to pump them even further. Hearth Wolf gives them even more offensive bonus, while also giving First Strike. Dwarven Pony really tops it off with the mountainwalk it grants.

  • “Mercenaries” are worse than Rebels. So when Rebels are turned down, Mercenaries are, too. Bregan d’Aerthe, the house of mercenaries in Menzoberranzan, a Drow city, tolerates no competition.

  • “Faeries” work well under the guidance of the Faerie Noble, which gives them all +0/+1 and can also give them +1/+0 when he’s tapped. Willow Priestess can give them protection from black, which makes them survive The Abyss. Who wouldn’t want all his guys to survive that card of cards?

  • “Squirrels,” with Squirrel Wrangler and Squirrel Mob. Because Squirrels are fun. Hahahaha. Let me point out to all the world that I love Deranged Hermit because it makes me four 2/2 creatures – not because it makes me squirrels.

  • “Birds” seem to be hip nowadays, with Soulcatchers Aerie around. Don’t forget to play with Kangee, the Aerie Keeper when you are playing with a birdly Conspiracy.

  • “Griffins” could work out nice with Zuberi, Golden Feather. And with the land where Falling Feathers are more dangerous than Falling Rocks. And with M’tenda Griffin, the one that returns lots of Griffins from your graveyard to your hand.

  • “Slivers.” Well Tally Ho and a Zing and a Zang and a Buzz Buzz Buzz, they help each other, so now all our creatures help each other. Good? Natural Slivers all had an ability helping each other out, but artificial Slivers don’t have those abilities – so you would also have to have some natural-born Slivers out. This could work, had it not been for the fact that natural Slivers tend to get lynched on sight. Nobody wants to see them on the other side of the table. Just admit that you don’t want that, either.

  • “Nightmare.” Play with Chainer and enjoy the +1/+1 bonus. Then, when somebody tries to kill all your creatures by killing the Dementia Master, Liberate him. Play Reins of Power in response to the triggered”leaves play” effect and watch the weary opponent’s face when he realizes he just removed all of his own creatures from the game. That’s funny. And that’s dangerous business when you have no Reins of Power handy! Better play some Auratogs or Seals of Cleansing or Faith Healers too, to get rid of the Conspiracy in case of emergency.

  • Kavu don’t have a lord – they have a Monarch. They also have a Crusher, attacking for big numbers when he’s not alone in his Kavuishness. Kavu Howler howls an attractive tune to other Kavus. Alpha Kavu could save your bacon in perilous situations.

  • Zombies have a Zombie Master. That’s good! They can also be launched with a Deadapult – that’s good! And excuse me – they have two Lords, actually. There’s also a Lord of the Dead, Dralnu, in Planeshift. So Conspiring for Zombies would give all our creatures +1/+1, swampwalk and regeneration. And we would be able to get them out of our graveyard, shoot them away for two to a dome and find them from the top of our decks with Grave Defiler. That’s good. Zombie Trailblazer will open many, many paths to you. Or will color screw an opponent, giving him some private Infernal Darkness for the cost of tapping a few creatures each turn. Strength of Night can resemble an instant-speed Overrun when all your guys are zombified.

  • Merfolk have a Lord, too – they also have a catcher that fetches them out offyour deck: Seahunter. It’s fun to catch a 12/12 islandwalking Kraken out of your deck for only three generic energies. And who wouldn’t want all of his creatures to be able to fuel a Vodalian War Machine? Or to be found by a Tidal Courier?

  • Goblins have a Lord, too. They also have a catcher that fetches them out off your deck: Mogg Catcher. It’s fun to catch a 12/12 mountainwalking Kraken out of your deck for only three generic energies. And who wouldn’t want to have all his creatures to be able to fuel Goblin Warrens? Combined with Dralnu’s Crusade, the Goblins will also become Zombies, becoming eligible four all of the above Zombie goodness and receiving an additional +1/+1. The Goblin choice also makes all Reckless Abandons obsolete – because now you can play with Goblin Grenade! Beware of Tivadar’s Crusade, though; the Goblin Surgeon will only be able to save half of your creatures when such a spell is played. And beware all Stone Rains or Befouls that are targeted against any Mountain enchanted with a Goblin Shrine. It will hurt. There’s also Goblin Caverns to boost your creatures. Mogg Raider has some minor pumping effect with Goblins, too… But that gets dwarfed by all the other effects. Goblin Wizard can now put all creatures from your hand into play, and then give them Protection from White. Goblin Ringleader suddenly has a wide span of followers.

  • Elves have Elvish Champion, making all elves stronger and more adept at forestwalking. Skyshroud Poacher catches elves from your deck and dumps them into play. Priest of Titania gives one green mana for each elf in play. Sylvan Messenger finds elves that reside at the top of your library. Because she’s an elf, Rubinia Soulsinger – among other legends – can now finally be in play along with her singing sisters without being destroyed by some state-based effects. And to really top things off, Salami, Lord of Beefs, now doesn’t only give other creatures immunity to spells and effects, he also protects himself because he’s now an elf as well. So the Eladamri becomes an untargetable thing that makes your things untargetable.. And your elves will now have double-forestwalk. Deepwood Elder, that crappy spellshaper, will finally have a purpose.

Did you see the length of that list? I should be the one writing the single card strategy articles on magicthegathering.com, not Bennie Smith. But I must admit that even though I think Smith is the writer I like to read best – no kidding – I got kind of bored by his mtg.com debut. Maybe it’s because I have this overflowing mind and I had already thought about everything he suggested. Then it’s just the content, not the writing, that I didn’t like. All Hail Mr. Smith!

Well, it’s obvious what the best Conspiracy choice is. Maybe I presented the options in a slightly biased way – but as the writer of this piece I am free to do those sorts of things. I am obviously going to write about an elvish Conspiracy. In a deck that sports Priest of Titania, the Elvish Champion, Salami, Lord of Beefs and Skyshroud Poacher. Sylvan Messenger is way too weak to be included in a deck built by me (in French accent, sounding as snoo-tey as possible. But I still mean it.)

4x Skyshroud Poacher

4x Priest of Titania

1x Eladamri, Lord of Leaves

1x Elvish Champion

2x Conspiracy

Why do we play only one of each of the leaders? Because we can search them out with the Poachers when the time is nigh, that’s why. And Priest of Titania’s effect is cumulative and helps you accelerate in the early game. Conspiracy is only present in doubles because we are also going to search for that one, too. The second one is there for redundancy, when the first one gets killed beyond retrievability.

How we are going to search for the Conspiracy seems obvious again; of course we are going to pull out the old Academy Rectors. Those cards are in about four decks of mine… But I noticed over the last few weeks, that I never played with them in multiplayer. In multiplayer, I always played a creature deck… Just an aggressive conglomeration of animals. The most popular was the Spirit of the Night deck, the Corpse Dance deck, and the Reins of Power deck.

I changed all three of those since I wrote about them… But the changes are minor. The Reins of Power deck has only received reinforcements in the form of a couple of Death Wishes. No lands have been added or removed, no other cards have been altered.. Just the wishes. When I’m mana scarce, I can wish for a Sol Ring or Fellwar Stone. Otherwise, I can do as I like. I don’t mind about the loss of life.

The Spirit of the Night deck has had some more influential changes. The Vesuvan Doppelganger count has upped to the full four (praise be to the abundance of the Starcity online store!). One Spite / Malice has kicked the bucket to make space for this, and an Island has been added to make the deck 85 cards with 40% mana sources. The Desertion has been replaced by a Spelljack, because that steals more than Desertion steals. To compensate for my decrease in counterspells, the Opportunity has been replaced by Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor – dramatically increasing board control should he enter play. This deck has become my deck of choice. Four Doppelgangers in the deck make for a very great chance of having drawn one before turn 5, when you can cast it… Or turn 4, with a Cameo. The Doppelganger is fabulous in its versatility. Need more control? Make them an Assassin. Need more beats? They can become Sengir Vampires in no time. Opposing Fountain Watches are very thankful targets for duplication. Just switch and swap and win with this amazing card with equally amazing art. Clone a Doppelganger for maximal effect.

The replacements I made are something I would like to hear your opinion on. I had the choice of removing two cards in order to add the Aboshan and the Spelljack. The cards I could choose from were the following:

Had I made the correct choice in removing the Opportunity over the Braingeyser? And what about style? Should I just put in a Stroke of Genius instead? Shouldn’t I have just cut the weaker Crown of the Ages instead of a Spite/Malice? Or should I have never included Spelljack at all? Or the Aboshan? Or should the Aboshan just have replaced a Manipulator? It so hard, especially when considering aspects of style. One major argument for removing a split card was that it increased the highlander feel of the”rogue” cards – the ones there were no four-ofs in the deck. Do you have any valuable arguments? Please let me know.

The last of the three decks, the Corpse Dance deck, has changed the most drastically. A Cackling Fiend, an Abyssal Gatekeeper, one of the two copies of Shauku, Endbringer, and a Dark Hatchling have all left the building. Replacement came in the form of the Thriller – Thriller night, ‘n’ no one is gonna save you from the beast with forty eyes, girl. Three copies of them; we don’t want them clogging up our opening hands. The fourth spot has been taken by the possibly best creature that can be Danced with: Bloodfire Colossus.


Pay R.

“All of you, put your creatures down and slowly move your hands towards your life counters. Put them back six spaces!”

Consume some Bottle Gnomes, beat some opponents in some meantimes. When you have about fifteen life again, say:


Pay R.

That is so good. When dancing him at end or turn and during your own turn again, you can almost always swing with him over an open board, totally bereft of blockers. Then sacrifice him again. For six to all. Inferno! You have just killed all creatures, dealt twelve damage to all players, and an additional six to someone else. What can stop your victory from coming now? Dance with Gnomes, gain some life, la di da.

But back to what I was all about: The Conspiracy. I’ll be short, to make up for lost time: Play four Rectors and four Eladamri’s Calls to find them. Call will also find you your first Poacher, which searches for the next Poacher, and so forth. Surplus Rectors can be used to find some neat enchantments… Which I will discuss later. When the Conspiracy isn’t out yet, the Poachers can look for Priests of Titania and Skyshroud Elves and Wood Elves. For defensive measures, two Deranged Hermits will also join the party so that you can more easily solidify your position in the early game; just hide behind your gathering of 2/2 squirrels. As soon as the Conspiracy is out, they will become 1/1 again, since the Hermit affects only Squirrels, not Elves, however furry they may be. Multani’s Acolyte can be searched out to help find good cards – but since mana elves are more important, we only include two.

There, I’ve rationalized seventeen (there’s only one Wood Elves in the deck) card slots up there in only a single paragraph. Do you see how efficient I can be? I hope I won’t get sued for writing unnecessarily long articles, wastin’ your precious time.

4x Skyshroud Poacher

4x Priest of Titania

1x Eladamri, Lord of Leaves

1x Elvish Champion

2x Conspiracy

4x Skyshroud Elf

4x Academy Rector

4x Eladamri’s Call

2x Deranged Hermit

1x Wood Elves

2x Multani’s Acolyte

Rectors die pretty quick. If I attack you, will you block my Rector and kill it? (In Dutch we have a word like”deadblocking,” which means blocking a creature in such a way that the attacker dies. Is there a word like deadblocking?) Please? Then I’ll just attack Jeroen; he’ll deadblock. Or Pete. And when not, I’ll just chump-block with the Rector when something’s attacking me. And when nothing attacks me? I don’t care when I get a free Moat (praise be the abundance of the StarCity submission contest, back when I was still unfeatured, if that is a word), so I probably won’t care when my Academy Rector acts like a Moat.

But now that I had just entered speed mode, let’s not fumble it on petty discussions. I’ll rationalize some more slots in high tempo.

We’re going to look for any creature in our decks, and then put it directly into play. This asks for immensely large creatures and for come into play effects, 187 style or utility style. Dark Hatchling kills creatures. Uktabi Orangutan kills Artifacts. Cloudchaser Eagle kills Enchantments. Minion of Leshrac kills Lands. Mystic Snake counters spells. Gravedigger gets back dead creatures. Cartographer gets back spoiled land. Monk Idealist gets back disenchanted enchantments. There are no artifacts in the deck so Treasure Hunter will be just another Gray Ogre, we’re not playing it. Phyrexian Plaguelord lets you kill your own guys, Minion of Leshrac too.

Notice how I am picking the most expensive options everywhere; that’s because the mana cost is always going to be three. Mana efficiency isn’t an issue when additional mana costs are not going to be paid.

That was nine more card slots.

There’s no additional card drawing creature up there, because once we can search for anything we like, we don’t need our draw step as badly as we needed it before. Phyrexian Gargantua would have been nice… But they’re kind of obsolete once they can be searched out. The Acolytes that draw cards are elves, so they do contribute to our major victory in the beginning.

Now this is going to be one of those 75 card things. With 45 spells and 30 mana sources. Luckily, this deck can relax on the mana sources a little bit due to all the elves here present. Let’s think of some more neat stuff to look for. Otherwise this would become just your random toolbox deck with no apparent road to victory, save a horde of untargetable, forestwalking +1/+1 enhanced creatures.

Reya Dawnbringer brings back dead stuff very consistent. That’s good to help out the Gravedigger. To be honest, the Gravedigger is only there to get back a dead Reya. Besides, a 5/7 flier that can’t be targeted ist sehr gut and Zephid-like.

Recipe for a Zephid:

1x Reya, Dawnbringer

1x Phyrexian Boon

1x Thoughtlace

1x Ground Seal

1x Conspiracy

1x Eladamri, Lord of Leaves

Play in the same order as listed on that list. A three power, four-toughness untargetable blue flyer.

So Reya gets a ticket. I also mentioned the ability to have four copies of a legend in play. Which legend has a cool effect which you would like to get more than once? Because if we would just go for the high numbers in the lower right corners, we could also just get some non-legends. Jaques Levert is cumulative – but not as good. And since I already mentioned Rubinia up there, I’m just gonna tell you I chose Rubinia. Rubinia works well with the Plaguelord and the Minion of Leshrac. She also has a reasonable casting cost (in a deck with four Skyshroud Elves and a load of dual lands, 2WUG is easily attained) so that she can be cast on turn 4 or 5.

Spike Weaver, for your protection.

Deepwood Elder, for breaching their protection.

Martyr’s Cause, for you and your creature’s protection. Works well with Reya.

But our next card is going to make the Reya obsolete once this enchantment hits play: I’m talking about Mortuary. Why would I want to play it when I already have a Dawnbringer? Because now I can search a creature, sacrifice it to something so it gets back in my deck, and then search for it again – during the same turn. Now you can counter multiple Wrath of Gods with your Mystic Snake so that their big sweepers will not even be able to halt your ascension. Remember that your Snake can not be countered; it is never cast, but put into play. But when something is tried in response to your searching for the Snake, you are vulnerable… Except when you take my advice and also play a Spiketail Drake. That one Mana Leaks any spell when sacrificed, so you can search it anytime you have nothing better to do.

It is insurance. When somebody Routs in response to your Snake-search, search out the Drake and Leak their Rout. Some handsome guys will have enough mana to pay for that… And when they are indeed handsome, search for it again. It should be somewhere on top of your deck. Have they got a spare six mana? Then I hope you have all four of your Poachers out. Otherwise, tough luck and put all your creatures on top of your deck – two Poachers first. That should recover your force pretty quickly.

Fountain Watch decreases the amount of times you would have to recover. It is untargetable because it’s an elf, and makes your Conspiracy untargetable, too. Neat, yet obvious and unoriginal. Still neat, though.

Four slots left. Particularly intelligent readers will have thought about a mana sink so that those priests of Titania don’t burn my soul away with excess mana. Particularly evil deck builders will have thought of a useful mana sink – like Master of the Hunt. It is a shame that the Wolves of the Hunt lose their bands with others ability. But on the other hand, Sliver Queen fits our needs much better here. She sinks mana in increments of two, and for each excess two mana you get a fresh 2/2 forestwalking untargetable baby elf… Just like with Crystalline Sliver and Muscle Sliver out. It’s a shame that there’s no Forestwalk sliver.

Additionally, Sliver Queen’s converted mana cost is only five. An elf on turn 2 and 3, followed by an Eladamri’s Call on turn three, will soon make for a turn 4 Sliver Queen. And she has just a delicious 7/7 body, ready for swinging away and serving for seven. The tokens will follow soon after. This is not a bad play when you already have a Poacher, Rector or some more Calls in your hand.

No, not Call of the HerdEladamri’s Call. Every time I say”a Call” I think of Call of the Herd. Maybe that’s because we used to name Eladamri’s Call,”Hey, you there.”

Last three slots, last devious scheme. You know, in large games, there’s bound to be another avant-garde deck around – some strange concoction like this one. They might also have some weird lock, or some weird invulnerability plan. Those are the guys you might get trouble with near the end. Those are also the guys you might need to pay some special attention to. Would it help if they had no mana to work with?

Gulf Squid; when it comes into play, tap all lands target player controls. It’s a monsoon man, which means it is a 2/2 for four mana. Don’t ask where we got the nickname, but it has some thing to do with MODO (magic online dumb opponents). Upon entry, it will tap out an opponent. Look for it during the trouble causer’s upkeep and then sack it to something. Look for it again and again during all of his following upkeep phases. He’s now out of mana. Let’s get him out of cards, too.

Remember the days of Invasion block team Rochester draft? We had our fair share over at the Labyrinth. (Doesn’t our store just have the prettiest name you’ve ever heard for a card shop? All others are called ‘game corner’ or ‘Djinn Magic.’ I think that The Labyrinth, as a name, is surrounded by a mystical aura. Our walls also have a pretty Kretensian decorative pattern of diverse mazes and Labyrinths. Now that’s style.) I also remember how nobody wanted to be the red/green guy, because he would get absolutely run over by the guy with the three Hunting Drakes…. Except the time we had two Flametongues and a Shivan Wurm.

But those Drakes were just terrible, giving your adversary a Time Walk, an Unsummon, and a flying bear. Terrible. So how would it feel when we gave our opponent – the one that doesn’t want to fall – a Hunting Drake upon his wake each turn? That would feel pretty good, and would make our opponent go away and play in some distant lonely-hearts club band.

“Stijn, Hunting Drake is color specific. It won’t always work.”

“Imaginary voice, I know that. But I will get by with a little help from my friend, the Tidal Visionary. I paint an undesired creature red or green and make my Drake fly, like Lucy in the sky, see how it flies. Now you must admit that this situation is getting better all the time. For me at least.”

“Yes, but what when I’m fixing this hole in my defense with some answer?”

“I find the culprit, being it an enchantment or an artifact, and make sure she’s leaving home. The deck can destroy everything… Or else I can counter it. It’s all for the benefit of Mr. Might. My victory surges within you, without you being able to do anything about it.”

“And what will you do when I’m at 64 life? Go home and cry to your lovely Rita?”

“Well, good morning, good morning, have you forgotten the massive sliver elves horde, that has forestwalk? Just go and play in some distant lonely hearts club band.”

You see, this deck could do almost everything and could win almost anything. Winning with it should be just a day in the life. That is, when you have control… And it takes a lot of time to wrest it from your opponents. They will try to Shock or Bolt your Poachers when they’re still affected by that nasty summoning sickness. They will try and disenchant your Conspiracy before you have your Fountain Watch out. This deck has a hard time getting to reach its finest position. But once reached, no one will be able to hurt you with conventional means (with everything besides stuff like Obliterate and Plague Wind being conventional).

Have you noticed how I surpassed my self-imposed forty-five card limit? That’s because I decided that the eight mana elves can substitute six lands, so now my limit is fifty-one cards. I still surpass that. That’s why I booted the second Conspiracy; we have Monk Idealist and Eladamri’s call to find it. And that’s why I expelled the Deepwood Elder. When your opponent has no forests, just wait a turn and make about seventy-six more sliver elves. The Priests of Titania work cumulatively with each new token made. You have four priests, each one giving more mana than the previous one. Overwhelming somebody shouldn’t be a problem, so I just consider the forestwalk as an added bonus.

Lands were easy. We need 24, so I just chose the duals with green in them all four times, the six others all one time, and the remaining two were to become a Mountain Valley and a Grasslands. But of course everything is welcome in this deck. Play with your Skyshroud Expanses and Elfhame Palaces as much as you like. Just avoid painlands; they hurt. I’ll avoid printing the lands here with the final list, because they could be anything that has primary green, and secondary white and blue for the Rectors and the Rubinias.

The trick

4x Skyshroud Poacher

1x Conspiracy


4x Academy Rector

4x Eladamri’s Call

What makes it good

4x Priest of Titania

1x Eladamri, Lord of Leaves

1x Elvish Champion

The toolbox

1x Dark Hatchling

1x Uktabi Orangutan

1x Cloudchaser Eagle

1x Minion of Leshrac

1x Mystic Snake

1x Gravedigger

1x Cartographer

1x Monk Idealist

1x Phyrexian Plaguelord

Other cool tricks

1x Reya, Dawnbringer

4x Rubinia Soulsinger

1x Spike Weaver

1x Martyr’s Cause

1x Mortuary

1x Spiketail Drake

1x Fountain Watch

1x Sliver Queen

1x Gulf Squid

1x Tidal Visionary

1x Hunting Drake

Elves while waiting for ‘the trick’

4x Skyshroud Elf

2x Deranged Hermit

1x Wood Elves

2x Multani’s Acolyte

There you have it. And now it’s time for me to apologize myself for the gross mistake I made last time; I chided Peter Jahn for his misuse of Maze of Ith, because I thought it worked the same way that Reconnaissance did. But when my attention was brought to the Oracle wording of the Maze, I realized my mistake. The Maze doesn’t state a single time that it removes its attacker from combat – unlike the Reconnaissance and its predecessor, Ebon Horse. So I incorrectly stated that Peter was incorrect, and that all due to my lack of research before I opened my mouth. I just assumed that the Maze worked like the white enchantment.

But I can explain why.

A few years ago, when Exodus had hit the shelves not too long ago and Sixth Edition rulings were fairly new to us and Euros were still made out of wood, a friend of mine and I were scheming about world domination. It was two in the morning, and we just found the best new Constructed tech, Extended tech, and Type One tech all in one. There was a Rootwater Hunter in Tempest, Prodigal Sorcerer in Sixth, and loads of other tims in other sets for extended use. Our plan was to lay down a Reconnaissance on the first turn, followed by a second-turn Mindtone so that we could get Disrupt backup for our third-turn Tim. On the fourth turn, the Tim would swing and get untapped a lot of time. Thanks to the sixth edition rulings, we were able to shoot in response to each single untap. That was a two-card combo and it killed.

We were debating all night long whether we should go for speed, with first turn Llanowar Elf, Fyndhorn Elf or Birds of Paradise, followed by second turn tim with third turn Reconnaissance and win. Or should we go for the control with much Force of Will, Disrupt, Force Spike and a slower (turn four or five) kill? It was obvious that the Type One version was the best, with Moxen and Avoid Fate for very good acceleration and protection. We could maybe even try a turn 1 Reconnaissance and Concordant Crossroads, followed by a turn 2 tim. With Force of Will in the hand. It would only require a single Mox. Maybe Elvish Spirit Guide for redundancy?

Imagine our disappointment when we were instructed by a judge that the Tim, after it’s first untap, was no longer considered a legal target because it was no longer attacking. Maybe it embittered me and I just did not want anybody else to untap attacking creatures a lot of times. Like with Maze of Ith. Excusez-moi.

And as a last few words, I’m going to defend my opinion on Swords to Plowshares and Wild Mongrel.

Of course they’re both great cards. I play the Plow in two of my decks, one of which I dare name my best deck (because it is a kind-of-tuned Type I tournament deck) and the other being the Blazing Effigy deck I once told about, which is also good, but then not in tournaments but in multiplayer. I only dislike the one-for-one effect it gives. I know how valuable it is to be able to point at a creature and make it disappear, for virtually no mana. I know that the lives don’t matter all that much and I know you can save your own life by Swordsing your own men. And I even know that removing a creature is significantly better than burying one, especially in multiplayer. Haven’t I stretched the fact that you should be able to sacrifice all of your stuff enough? That last part is the best thing about the Swords.

But I’d rather Slaughter with buyback. Or talk opponents into leaving my Royal alone, until it’s too late for their creatures. One of my new platonic loves, Aboshan, also has a way with nasty critters. A consistent, versatile and non-card costing way.

Remember, the fact that I don’t think Swords to Plowshares is the best doesn’t immediately mean that I hate the card. I, too, adore it. It’s only that I try and defend other, unaccepted, removal, which I like better, personally, over the Plow;

Lots, of, reading, signs, in, the, previous, sentence, don’t, you, think?

Now for everybody’s favorite OBC companion:

As I already said in my previous article, I then thought the card was in a top ten of best cards. Not of the most used cards. There’s a big difference between those two, and a lot of my arguments were meant to indicate the Wild Mongrel was not the best. And while not being best, it can still be the most used. The thing’s common. And though you need not discard your hand to it, there’s always the treat of discarding that makes it better. It survives damage, black removal, and large creatures. But why would you want a measly 2/2 after all is said and done? Had it bean an Ivory Gargoyle, there would be much more to do with it.

Anthony Alongi, the one who said that Mongrel is in his group’s top ten of much used cards, told me:

“Now, if you want to argue against good early green drops, well… There’s an article there. Wild Mongrel as a STRATEGY is a different concept than Wild Mongrel as a CARD.”

He’s right about that. The Gargoyle also sucks on its own while it rules in a deck – as can be seen in my brilliant debut.


While it is true that the Mongrel is a good discard-enabler, I personally prefer things like Mindless Automaton or Sneak Attack, where the discard does something more than just give a temporary +1/+1 to one of your men. I know it’s more expensive that way, but it just does more. I also know that it doesn’t make for a third-turn Penumbra Wurm that way, via Exhume, which Anthony used as an example… But in our group, third-turn Wurms tend to get you killed due to attracting attention. So I don’t care much about third-turn Wurms.

Anthony:”Why would I attack the guy with the knight? Why would I walk into that wall? I would just attack the ones that can’t defend themselves for some early poking, and then lay back with the dog until some answer shows up.”

Of course, I don’t assume he – or anybody else, for that matter – will walk his dog into a fully-armed knight. Those were just hypothetical situations illustrating the times when the Mongrel isn’t the best. And I also wrote from my perspective. I often have some weird stuff early, where Mongrels could walk into it. So Doggies don’t bother me that much. That could contribute to me not liking the Hound that much.

I’m afraid that my style of reasoning also degrades the dog. I did never mean to say that the dog is a bad card; I just said that I don’t like it in multiplayer. I’m afraid that the degrading of the thing I’m ranting about is an integral part of my lectures. That tactic was taught to me in Latin class. Cicero did it, Seneca did it, and Plinius did it… So there ought to be nothing wrong with it.

The dog’s not bad. I never said so. I just implied it with exaggerating examples. And don’t tell me that those examples weren’t true.

It’s just that I see no point in beating the guy who has no defense. I’d rather spend my time solidifying my own position. That way I can also hold the fort when the Sengirs and Silverbacks come out and play. And maybe it’s even good to get beaten a little in the start.

“How many life do you have?”


“Full twenty! Raaaaaa! Charge all out on you!”

“How many life do you have?”


“Oh, that’s all right then.”

See? Once again, dramatic exaggeration makes my point clear. Let me know when you disagree with something and care enough to try and set me straight. Also let me know when you can think of another creature type you could set you Conspiracy to. No matter how bad the bonus might be.

Evil money-making scheme:

Separate the deck discussion from the rest of this article and send each part in, separately….

Nah, that’s unethical. This is the end of this longest article that I’ve ever written.

Now I’m going out to stalk Lenny and Carl.*

Again. I already used that Simpson allusion once, I fear. But it was more that a year ago so y’all have probably forgotten, so that I can get away with this scam unpunished.

Emperial Regards,

Stijn van Dongen,


Have you noticed how my email address appears when you hover the mouse cursor over my name?

* – Best, Episode, ev-errr.

Join the Stonecutters:

Who keeps Atlantis of the maps, who keeps the Martians under wraps?

We do, we do.

Who bugs every bridal gown, who keeps the metric system down?

We do, we do.

Who holds back the electric car, who makes Bob Saget a star?

We do, We do!

Who rigs every Easter night….

“Remove the Stone of Shame!”


“Attach the Stone of Triumph!”