Murder Most Foul

So we’re about to be smacked with the end of Kamigawa Block, and I for one am applauding.

Well, not entirely. I have a shameful secret… there are some cards I’m actually going to miss. What I’m presenting today are the soon-to-be murdered corpses of three decks of mine that won’t survive the rotation intact. This is something of a bummer to me, because really, these might have been good decks.

So we’re about to be smacked with the end of Kamigawa Block, and I for one am applauding.

Well, not entirely. I have a shameful secret… there are some cards I’m actually going to miss. What I’m presenting today are the soon-to-be murdered corpses of three decks of mine that won’t survive the rotation intact. This is something of a bummer to me, because really, these might have been good decks. Oh, and Chris Romeo, this one’s for you. Be sure to check it out.

And now that I have Chris’s attention if no one else’s, let’s begin the games with:

This deck I had since Ravnica, and Guildpact, Dissension, and Coldsnap all left it entirely untouched – primarily because Early Harvest stipulates basic land. So yes, Chris, someone did "break" Eye of the Storm, but I just didn’t tell that many people about it. The fantastic part about this deck for me was that I’d set up Eye in such a way that my actual win condition couldn’t be hijacked from me – that is, I used the Splice of Dampen Thought onto Arcane spells already on the Eye. Sure, someone could hijack the Arcane spells, but none of them prevent me from decking them, so they can borrow my Joyous Respites all they want.

Similarly, I wanted a maindeck enchantment hate, but anything I hardcast is subject to ending up on Eye and…yeah. Well, suffice to say that Wear Away spliced works just as well as Dampen Thought. Obviously the key to this version is Splice, and hence why this deck will not survive rotation as is.

What the deck did was set up an "infinite turn" by getting Early Harvest onto Eye of the Storm. With that and just about any of your library manipulation spells (none of them specifically draw, done so that I couldn’t accidentally deck myself) you’re almost guaranteed a win. Recollect will seal the deal too, if you have any draw in the bin (and you should by seven mana).

The worst part is that even if the deck could be done without Splice, Peer Through Depths is irreplaceable. In a deck that’s almost all instants and sorceries, Peer is an absolutely wonderful card. This deck, I’m convinced, would never have seen tier one play anyhow, if chiefly because of the prevalence of Kami of Ancient Law in the format. It is however an interesting deck to play, with lots of decision-making involved, and it’s plain fun to just throw out a dozen spells in one turn.

The other strike against the deck is that it typically doesn’t go off until turn 6 or 7, and it doesn’t have any tools for stalling aggressive decks but for a lone Evacuation and two Joyous Respites. I can’t use Boomerang – if one ends up on the Eye, then the Eye is in jeopardy if my opponent is even playing instants or sorceries. I suppose I could technically use Thunderheads, but I’m not sure how much good it would do. This deck rarely has mana open except when it’s going off.

It’s fragile, but it’s oh so fun. I’m going to miss playing it (and alternating between surprising people pleasantly and gravely pissing them off) when it’s gone. I rarely play combo decks because of the onanism of it all, but this one was too much fun to pass up. If more combo decks played like this one, I might play them more often.

Murder suspect: Lack of a win condition that can’t be turned against me. Note that any instant or sorcery that goes on the Eye fits that description, and yet if I use a Millstone or something, I’m not really using Eye to win. It’s a rock and a hard place – I suppose if you wanted it to be competitive you could worry less about the actually using Eye to win. Note also that you can probably replace Early Harvest straight up with Walk the Aeons without even paying the buyback. It’s a little more expensive but you already produced seven mana to get the Eye out anyhow, which means you have enough for Walk the Aeons with Rune Snag/Mana Leak/Remand backup unless you got Eye out via Seething Song or something. Volcanic Awakening has some potential too, if you can get the storm count high enough that you needn’t risk the opponent turning the spell against you due to lack of mana.

Moving on to the next deck, this was something I was experimenting with when GhaziGlare was first gaining popularity – it was not originally intended to have anything to do with GhaziGlare, but as the list undoubtedly shows, it eventually took after the deck. What this entire thing was born of was the idea of Privileged Position plus Horobi, Death’s Wail plus effects that target. It just so happened that Glare of Subdual was the card with the most easily triggered repeatable targeting in Standard. Thus, I give you:

Yes, a sideboard. I actually played around with this in the tourney room to test it. I don’t recall precisely what I tested against, but going by the sideboard, Wildfire decks and Greater Good must have been the order of the day when I was doing the testing. Oh, and the Glare mirror, of course. Not surprisingly, this build tends to tear standard Glare builds a new one. If they can’t produce an answer for Privileged Position, it’s all over but the screaming.

Horobi was often anti-Jitte tech, too. People would often try to equip it while Horobi was out – a bad idea, to say the least. A Jitte with no counters when Horobi hits is a blank card until if and when Horobi leaves play. Really, if this deck gets Horobi, PP, and Glare out, it sends quite a lot of people packing, and I can’t say I blame them. That is, to say the least, an unenviable board position to be opposite of.

In the end, though, I simply grew bored of it. Not the deck itself, per se, simply the prospect of playing it in the tourney room. I’m just not all that competitive and eventually some other deck caught my attention and this got filed away under the decks I keep because I like them, but rarely actually play anymore.

As a side effect of having Seedborn Muse, I feel obligated to point out that this deck also has some multiplayer applications. I’m not entirely sure it would work in a free-for-all, but I imagine Two-Headed Giant would enjoy something like this to partner with a more aggressive deck that likes facing lots of tapped would-be blockers. Obviously it’s not going to do much in Standard in a couple of weeks, but it might make for a strong casual decks.

Horobi himself was actually very good – he’s an undercosted fattie with a drawback, after all. When you can use Privileged Position to negate the drawback though, he’s still an undercosted fattie. Not quite as fat as some popular creatures like dragons, but that matters less when most of the opposition won’t live long enough to block. I’m not sure what this deck’s plan would be for Simic Sky Swallower though. I mean, aside from putting crying on the stack – assuming, of course, that crying uses the stack. I’m not sure of all the rules involved there.

Murder suspect: The lack of Horobi, I daresay. I mean, I’m sure Glare and Glare-like decks will continue on long after my silly little creation is buried, but this particular strategy is gone without Horobi there to make it disgusting. We don’t really have anything to replace him, either. However, if you want to try something along the lines, I might suggest Seedborn Muse plus critters that tap to do things. Heidar is one example, Slivers another so long as you include at least one Sliver that shares a tap ability (Screeching, Gemhide, Telekinetic, and Psionic look like good starting places). I actually have plans for a Tribal deck along those lines, except it both will and won’t have twenty Slivers. I’ll explain later. As in "a different article". Probably November.

This last deck here was originally created around the time Talen Lee had his first Battle Royale experience, since at least at the time it fit the budget (not certain about recently, haven’t checked), and of course at the time it was legal, so I suggested he play it. He didn’t want to use it simply because he didn’t build it, and I can understand that feeling. All the same, he liked the deck, and I still occasionally use it in the casual room. I give you:

This deck was originally created to find out why no one played with Blinding Angel, and I never really came up with a good answer. She locks down a lot of aggressive decks due to a lack of fliers. I can only suspect that her vulnerability to Char (and soon Psionic Blast) is keeping her on the benches. Where did the name come from? Well, the colors in this deck are the same as the Italian national flag, and the deck comes out of nowhere. In all my experience with it in the Casual Room of Magic Online, no one comes prepared for a decklist like this – thereby allowing the mob (the Firemanes) to send their hapless foe to sleep with the fishes. And yes, I am aware that not all Italians are mobsters. It does, however, manage to be a name that suits the deck.

This was a control deck created to fit the 25 ticket price limit on the Battle Royale event, which is why you’re seeing Savage Twister pretending to be Wrath of God. The worst part about seeing this deck die is that all in all it’s only losing ten cards from anywhere in the deck, but sadly this deck thrived almost entirely on those ten cards. The shuffling/mana acceleration suite was absolutely critical to the deck, with Elder and Kodama’s Reach doing all they normally do for Sensei’s Divining Top – shuffle, get mana, and thin your deck. You need ten mana to recur Firemane Angel after all, and you may need some positively expensive Savage Twisters to get a true Wrath off.

So why, you ask, is Razia’s Purification in this deck at all? Because there are a lot of board positions involving a Firemane Angel in which it can basically immediately win you the game. If you have the Angel, a Karoo, and any other good card out like Bottled Cloister (which was an addition from Talen’s own playtesting), another Karoo, or Vitu-Ghazi, with a land in hand to drop post-Purification, you can usually just end the game right there. And yes, this is strong enough to generally ignore the anti-synergy with any existing Fetters. Try it some time. I think Razia’s Purification is also an underrated little number. It’s especially keen if you have a Fetters in hand to drop onto any card they might care to save.

The turn 2 Karoo is often a great play going second with this deck – you’re happy to pitch a Firemane Angel as early as possible and put it to work for you. What this deck has going for it is being the worst nightmare of an aggressive opponent and resilient enough to handle control in most cases. Not only do you have lifegain, but it’s of a useful sort that is on cards which also stymie aggressive attempts to win.

It was cheap to build (around 23 tickets with sideboard when originally constructed), resilient, and can handle a wide range of threats; Firemane itself annoyed control, the deck in general molested aggro, it had enough lifegain to harass Heartbeat, and it took rarely played cards to properly neuter a card like Firemane Angel.

Murder suspect: The lack of card draw or card selection is going to neuter this. It can’t produce enough pressure to force Browbeat into a draw effect unless you’re already about to win anyhow, plus quite frankly there are probably better ways to build a competitive deck by putting Firemane and Searing Meditation both in the main deck. Greenseeker might be able to replace the job of Elder and Reach insofar as land-thinning if it really came down to it, but it’s a lot more fragile, and that still doesn’t actually replace the Top. Sadly, this is another victim of the rotation as far as I’m concerned, because while I could technically replace Savage Twister with Wrath and Elder, Reach, Top, and Cloister with Blue draw and maybe some actual counters, that’s a totally different deck than this. It was fun while it lasted, and maybe someone can still use it at the kitchen table casual games to produce a few fun wins.

So it turns out that I’ll miss at least fifteen cards (four being Legendary lands) just from those deck lists. I’ll miss Miren as well, as both colorless lifegain and sacrifice. That’s more than I thought I’d miss, especially since I tend towards referring to Kamigawa as "the twenty-card block". Elder was a good fellow, and we’ll all miss him. I can only hope that Wizards sees fit to replace Rampant Growth with Elder in Tenth Edition, but I think that’s a hollow dream at best. I’d love to be proven wrong, though (hint, hint).

Lastly, I’d like to point out that it’s come to my awareness that a good many of the StarCityGames.com writers do in fact use Magic: the Digital, and as such I’ve started hanging out in /join SCG, occasionally with some friends, and thought I’d extend an open invitation to the writers and readership to make it a consistent channel where we can discuss SCG material, Magic, or porn we’ve downloaded in real time.

Signing off,
Rivien Swanson
flawedparadigm at gmaSPAMSUCKSil dot com
Flawed Paradigm on MTGO (Remember, /join SCG!)
GodOfAtheism just about everywhere else.