What a drag it is getting old.
Life’s just much too hard today, I hear every player say. They just don’t appreciate getting killed.
But maybe that’s just because getting killed means that they lose yet again. It gets tiring very fast. And do you know what they just lost to? To my broken Plague Post deck.
We all know how good counterpost decks were. Those decks just Force Spiked and Dissipated you silly, sweeping with Nevinyrral’s Disks like they came in six-packs and drawing what they wanted with Dream Cache or Impulse or stuff like that. Wrath of God topped it off.
“All right, so where’s the Morphling?”
That thing didn’t exist back then. Yes, there was a time where Superman was still only a comic. But a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away, blue decks still wanted to attack. Now Mobilization seems to be pretty fly for a white guy and stuff… But back in the day we had to use Kjeldoran Outpost. That gave a guy each turn. A decent, 1/1 soldier guy. For one white and one colorless mana. And a tap. All you had to do was sacrifice a Plains when this land comes into play.
Remove the post, and you’ll just get counter. Counter alone doesn’t win, right? So Post is an essential part of any glorious victory you will ever want to achieve. Play a deck, add post to it, and win. Just look at these examples:
When you lose horribly with this deck, you can afterwards show your hand to your opponents. Your hand is, of course, holding a Post. This will unnerve them slightly, because should you have gotten the Post up and active, they would have won less easily. This unnerving of your opponent will give you a psychological edge in the next game. Thus, your deck gets better with post.
Put one post in your Trix deck. The chances of you drawing before you go off are slim enough. Once you go off and use a Firestorm, make sure you discard the lone post to it. This will make the opponent think that you have some very rogue sideboard tech. Once again, psychological factors make the post very good to you.
The post cannot be Taxed, but you should be able to fetch one pretty quickly with your Land Tax/Scroll Rack combo. It eats a plains, so it does not up your land count when you play it, thus consolidating your Land Tax situation. In the second game, board them out. When your opponent has seen the Posts in the first game, he will think you’re playing some sub optimal build. Thus he will play more careless in the next game. Now you have once again achieved a psychological advancement, thanks to your Post.
The Post card is essential for this deck. It gives you more targets for the Plague, it can be used to generate plague carriers and you can just attack with your soldiers. Or block with them, of course. Note that this is one of the few deck where the actual functionality of the post weighs in more than its psychological effects on weary opponents.
A last one for the road:
The persistence of the post combined with the invincibility of the Zephid add up to a very tight spot for any opponent to get out of. Rolling in together for four, five, and six damage each turn will spell a certain doom that only the hardiest of opponents will be able to evade. But the post keeps on producing, so a single evasion might not be enough….
Assuming that all of the above deck archetypes save one are known, I will also assume that the one you are not familiar with is the Plague Post archetype. Therefor I will now shed some more light on it as to its nature.
Plague Post was created because I felt it was a shame that I did not use my Kjeldoran Outposts – which, in their days, cost a large sum of money. I can’t have a whole lot of bucks lying around doing nothing, while they could at the same time be collaborating with a (rummages through binder to find a card to build this deck with) Phyrexian Plaguelord.
Yes, a Plaguelord and an Outpost. That would make a Plague Post. And it would be pretty good, for my other deck with the Plaguelords had Breeding Pit to make tokens to toy with. And those tokens couldn’t even attack. So this deck ought to be better.
The theme will be that we will indeed make a lot of tokens, but we will make them to spread disease with. Let all your opponents die to the mummy rot or to the flu. What reinforces this theme – and what’s also a reasonable card – in this scenario, is Disease Carriers. It is a 2/2 creature for four mana, which is not quite thrilling… But when it dies, it gives a target creature -2/-2. And that’s something we can use quite well here in multiplayer land.
This thing takes out large creatures when blocking, because he can also put damage on the stack. Most typically, I block with them and then sacrifice them to the Plaguelord. Thus they have dealt two damage to something, given something -2/-2, and given something -1/-1 until end of turn. That’s good enough to waste a draw on.
And what’s even more important to me: I get to play with a card that’s never played otherwise. A card that only long time players will remember back from the days of Urza block draft. Where Green/Black was the way to go.
Another disease that’s famed to Magic players everywhere is Pestilence… But because I’d rather have an ability tied to a creature than bound in an enchantment, I’m not going to play with Pestilence itself: I’m going to use Crypt Rats and Thrashing Wumpus. Those two are so deep into the mass damage dealing business that you’d almost think that mass damage dealing is their business. And that kind of thing is their bag, baby.
But the thing is: We’re killing an awful lot of creatures, already. Is it really necessary that we also include six Pestilence effects? It isn’t absolutely unbearable to omit them, is it? Well, no, it isn’t. But then I thought of something. Why shouldn’t I just slap down a Spirit Link on my pestilence-mimicking creature? That should give me a lot of life. With a lot of life, I could afford to pestilence some more. Then everything would really, really die, and the other players would start running for the shelter of their mother’s little helper.
So let it be written, so let it be done. Four Spirit Links were included. This gave our deck a solid core of creature removal, combined with some large life gaining effects. Now the only dilemma we had was, how to mix up the mix of Crypt Rats and Wumpi? I reserved six slots (six – not eight. For if you take more of those, you will get an overdose) for them, but how should I distribute them among these two vendettas?
Let me resort to an old piece of text of mine:
Stijn (25-17): 1. I think Crypt Rats is better in any situation, and I do so because of these reasons: 2. Crypt Rats activates for X and not for B, so damage can come in larger amounts. This way you can still mise a draw in an otherwise forlorn situation. 3. This is because the X damage resolves at once, where X times 1 damage resolve one by one. So with X, you will not lose when you have the lower life total. 4. But let it be known that this reason is for weenies alone. Drawing is for weenies. 5. Real men also have other reasons to go with Rats over Wumpi: 6. Some effects, Like Urza’s Armor and Lashknife Barrier and Ogre Taskmaster and Callous Giant prevent damage that comes in small amounts. In such a case you’d rather have X than B. 7. But then a man approached Stijn, and asked him: 8. Aren’t effects like Invulnerability and Story Circle much more common in multiplayer than the effects that you just described out there? 9. Stijn blessed the man and bid him leave, for the man obviously didn’t think of the fact that X can also be activated X separate times, thus mimicking B. 10. Then the people saw the picture of Crypt Rats and decided to stick with it, because it looked much better than the Wumpus. The flavor text was better too. 11. And since divine Protection will save our Crypt Rats from their own effect, they will not ascend to sit at the right hand of our Lord as soon as we activate them, but rather stay to fulfill even more earthly duties. 12. So four Rats and two Wumpi is the way to go 13. And there was much rejoicing 14. Yay.
Now there is one thing that really is a shame. Once we activate the Crypt Rats for, say, four damage to each target, the Rats die. They perish due to their self-spread disease – and that’s not very clever of them! So in the prehistory of magic, this would be solved by adding Black Ward. Then Mirage came around and Ward of Lights solved the problem better than Black Ward. Then the Tempest ensued, and Flickering Ward made its appearance; that one was even better. Mercadian Masques gave us Cho-Manno’s Blessing, which was better still. The best solution, at first sight, seemed to be Lashknife Barrier: All damage to our own creatures would be prevented for the cost of only 2W – and it cantripped to boot! All we had to do was make the damage come in increments of one, instead of increments of X. But this also minimized our life gaining. The tokens from the Kjeldoran Outpost were a beautiful way to say:”I gain X more life. Per token.” So Lashknife Barrier was in a way the best card to use in this situation, but it was also kind of suboptimal in a certain way.
The fact that Invasion invaded our social lives didn’t only rejoice me through its cool cards, but also through Obsidian Acolyte. That one selectively saved creatures of ours that would have died to the Pestilence. It also voids any damage to the Rats, and it saves our small creatures, should we crave it so. As an added bonus, the Acolyte also messes with opposing black targeted spells, and can save opposing creatures from damage, should we desire thusly. Think of creatures like Mogg Maniac or Wall of Resistance. Or like Saber Ants with two Death Pit Offerings to back them up. You never know what you’re gonna get. When you look at it like that, multiplayer is just like a box of chocolates.
Now that we’re guaranteed of a lot of life, what are we going to do with it? Think, my young padawan and learner: It’s not too hard. White prevents damage with life, so that we virtually make more life with life. Black draws cards with life. Which one do you prefer?
Everybody who prefers the white option, please mail me so that I can reply in the following manner:
In a message dated on blablabla, Stijn wrote:
Stijn van Dongen,
Original Message Follows_____________________
from: [email protected]
I liek the withe opzion bettah. I liek milk. Milk is withe.
So we’re going to go with the black ops. The Necropotence should suffice. We could also play with Yawgmoth’s Bargain, but that’s so costly in this deck without acceleration whatsoever. And besides, we could just drop a Necro on turn 3 and then just draw ourselves down to eleven life or something. By that time, we should have drawn a Spirit Link.
I can remember that I played a Phyrexian Plaguelord with this deck, on turn 5. On turn 6 I hooked it up with a Spirit Link and played a Necro. That’s still four cards each turn. The trick might look weak on paper or in theory – but in the harsh cold world where reality rules and the matrix doesn’t cloud your perceptions, a simple Spirit Linked fat bastard with Necro on the board will win you games. By the way, do you think that’s air you’re breathing?
It’s not. It’s pure life that you’re breathing. And too much life is just like too much money: you inevitably want to spend it on some weird things. I remember how Werner built a deck with Angelic Protector, Worthy Cause, and Reconnaissance. He gained infinite life by infinitely targeting his Protector, thus giving her an infinitely wide butt. That butt could be sacrificed for infinitely much life. Then he would start casting Necrologias for twenty, or start drawing three cards each turn with Sylvan Library. He found his kill mechanism when Urza’s Saga was released: Phyrexian Colossus. Not to beat down with, but to slap a Fire Whip on. The thing would use the whip to deal one damage to an opponent. Then Werner would untap the Colossus by paying eight life. Then he would whip us again… At his leisure, for he had enough life to kill us all with that tech. Who trades eight life for one? Werner does.
But I would do it too, if I had enough life to spare.
Now I’m not going to include a Phyrexian Colossus with a Foul Presence for ultimate Creature Control. But I am going to include something else from Phyrexia that I can hurl some life points towards: Phyrexian Reclamation. Gets you back your dead Crypt Rats. Retrieves your dead Plaguelords. And recycles your utility creatures, which I will tell about in the near future. It does everything, and it costs only little mana. The life cost is easily overcome.
Musing: this deck goes infinite with a Channel… Pay life for mana, make the mana black with Initiates of the Ebon Hand (also included but not yet explained/revealed) and feed the mana to your spirit linked and protected plague spreader. Gain more life than you spent on channeling. Then do it again. Yay.
Before I start to explain my last few miscellaneous deck choices, it is time for a non-relevant interlude, thanks to John Cochrane, probably my most loyal reader:
As I went walking, I saw a sign there
And on this side, it said”No Trespassing.”
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing…
That side was made for you and me.
-One of the lesser-known verses of”This Land is Your Land”, one of the greatest folks songs ever, by Woody Guthrie
It’s true that most signs saying”No Trespassing” are blank on the other side. I happen to have some of those signs in my backyard, and they’re all blank from behind. How would I know that! Because I trespassed?
But I have other weird stuff in my backyard, too. Maybe I should tell you in advance that I live in an apartment that’s built in an ancient monastery. Yes, I live in a monument. And the backyard I speak of is actually a garden park of gargantuan proportions. And because that garden is also kind of monumental, there are signs there to tell us that trespassing is not the way to go. Not even when you live there yourself, and thus pay a rent which helps maintain the garden.
Amongst others, there’s a pond with an isle in it. On the isle is a little bench. But you cannot reach the isle, so what’s the point of the bench?
There’s a very, very large crucifix. Jesus died for our sins, and I know it, because every time I look out of my window, I can see his gargantuan sculpted head in between the trees. It is very beautiful, however. It’s entirely carved out of wood.
There’s a cemetery. Some of the graves are from 1853 (the oldest) and there’s also one from 2002 (the youngest). We just suspect that all old inhabitants of the monastery get buried there. Who has a cemetery in his back yard? That’s quite eerie. But it certainly heightens the atmos-fear when we’re playing D&D out in the yard when the weather’s nice and the sun is setting.
There’s a fire pit. This one is quite handy, actually. We can hold campfires at night, and the pit is far enough from the actual building so that our songs and shouts bother no neighbors of mine.
There’s a bridge with all its wooden parts rotten away and only two metal beams remaining. Those two beams are now spanning the width of a canal that interconnects two of the many ponds. There’s an entire network of canals and ponds in one of the quarters of the garden. But that bridge is the coolest. Two parallel beams that form a bridge over troubled water? That’s just asking for bets and dares.”I bet that I’ll reach the other side faster than you.””I will bet that I can reach the other side drier than you.” Ï dare you to try and cross one beam while I’m standing on the other…”
There’s a very large tree that I do not know the English name of (Dutch: plataan), and underneath it is a Victorian-style wooden table with four seats around it. Wooden chairs with red satin seats. The whole set is sculptured and Varnished. It looks just like a scene from Sense and Sensibility, or some other old costume drama. It is a great spot to have tea when your grandmother comes to visit.
There’s a group of dead trees that looks beautiful when it’s snow-covered. The group looks very gloomy when it’s twilight and it’s raining.
Now that you all know what my garden looks like, I will continue with the deck. Ten spots to go when we’re striving towards sixty cards total and twenty-four lands. And we are – so that’s ten spots to go, then.
I already mentioned that I was going to use the Initiates of the Ebon Hand. They wash our mana black, which is a good thing when we’re attempting to successfully cast a Necropotence. They also make our white mana viable when we want to feed it to our Crypt Rats or Thrashers. They’re just useful enough to include them. It’s not that they’re so very powerful, it’s once again the fact that it’s cool to play with a card that nobody else even knows. And look at those pictures… There are two for us to choose, so we choose the woman with the two daggers and we choose that horde of Nurglings.
Enchantment and artifact control comes in the form of Reliquary Monk; when he dies, he disenchants something. And you can just bet that he will die. He will die by the Pestilence, by the Plaguelord, or just by being deadblocked or by chumping. He returns from the dead due to the reclamation. Tot ist keine Grund dazu, mit dem Arbeit auf zu hören.
Early beats are never a pleasure to be submitted to… So we include the Wall of Essence. He gives life when he blocks, so probably most players will avoid attacking you. Usually, his black counterpart, the Wall of Souls, is my favorite… But in this life-gaining deck, I will give the white one the nod.
Four last cards will give us some more creature control, like we do not have got enough of that yet. But these creature killers will also give us more life by being a target for the Crypt-Spirit-Link-life-gaining scheme. They are two copies of Bone Shredder and two copies of Feast or Famine.
The Boneshredder is easy to understand: nail a creature, let him die to the plague, and done. But the Feast or Famine is a different story. He can kill creatures, of course… But sometimes opponents all join together to kill you. And sometimes, one of them is a math affiliate who can exactly calculate how much life there is to be gained for you when they’re starting to attack you.
Now this is where Feast or Famine kicks in.
Not only does it kill attackers, screwing their math over, it can also do something potentially better: Put a 2/2 zombie creature into play. This creature can unexpectedly block a charger, and then also forms a target for the life-gaining plague, giving you X additional life. This might sound like a very made up excuse for this card, but it isn’t. I’ve been through it all, and the Zombie token once blocked the huge attacker and gave me nine more life. That made all the difference.
4x Phyrexian Plaguelord
4x Crypt Rats
2x Thrashing Wumpus
4x Spirit Link
4x Disease Carriers
4x Obsidian Acolyte
2x Phyrexian Reclamation
2x Reliquary Monk
2x Initiates of the Ebon Hand
2x Wall of Essence
2x Feast or Famine
2x Bone Shredder
There’s a lot of two-of’s in this deck. This adds to the unique feeling you get when you play this deck. The deck isn’t über powerful. The deck cannot handle everything thrown at it. It doesn’t even always win, like I’m used to (haha). But it does give you that feeling inside, that you know it must be right: it’s the singer, not the song. Or in this case, it’s the player, not the deck. I do win with it sometimes because I manage to play well enough.
I was addressed as someone who was not able to lay low in multiplayer. Well, I invite Bruce to come and play over here in Holland, and I will show him two things: Laying low is indeed extremely useful. I will demonstrate this point by making him forget that I was there all along… And then I will demonstrate how brutal force and oppression can also win you games. Just look at the Spirit of the Night (Scourge of Souls) deck, and you will see what I mean.
All I want to say is this: Please don’t judge my playing when you’ve never seen it. I have over eight years of experience, so it’s probably not the worst style you will ever encounter.
But the article was okay in its own right. I enjoyed reading it – good job.
Now onto the lands:
It’s easy. We need plains to make the Outposts work. We need Swamps to fuel the plagues. Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author] provides us with both. Swamps and Plains do the rest. I recommend that the Plains remain Plains, but the Swamps can be toyed around with at will. Make them Polluted Meyers, or Urborg, or add two Cabal Coffers to maximize on the B output. Do what you want. The only thing I do not recommend is using Caves of Koilos and the new search lands. They deal damage to you, and damage hurts. We do not want to get burned out in response to our first life-gain plague, do we? So we better stay high on life in the start.
The deck is done, and I’ve digressed enough already. Thanks to the Ferrett for once again editing my concoctions.
Doctor please, some more of these! Outside the door, she took four more.
What a drag it is getting old.
Stijn van Dongen,
For Dutch readers, or European ones who live near enough to the Netherlands to care: 1, 2 and 3 November in Eindhoven. Het Spellenspektakel, which means the games spectacle, the largest gaming convention in the Netherlands. I’ll be there, manning a Magic booth for The Labyrinth. I’d be glad to receive challenges, no matter which format. I fear nobody really wants an autograph, but I’ll be there nevertheless.