Pardon me while I crank up the Wayback Machine prior to my excursion into some new OBC decks. How many of us "old timers" (that is, those who remember when booster packs were $2.99, Vesuvan Doppelganger was a maindeck card, and Mike Long was actually kind of respectable) remember a time when U/G decks were simply an impossibility? You could run two color decks using just about any combination, but U/G simply did not work.
Now in OBC alone, there are at least four U/G decks I can count offhand that are not only viable, but close to being dominating; "Mongrel Madness," U/G Upheaval, Quiet Roar, and lately I’ve seen a bounce-heavy variant running Wonder, Elephant Guide, and Cephalid Constable. All share similarities, but have enough differences to be considered unique.
The OBC version of Quiet Roar I’ve been working on, which, surprise, surprise, looks a whole lot like the Standard version, should be one of the decks in everybody’s testing gauntlet.
OBC Quiet Roar
4 Quiet Speculation
4 Roar of the Wurm
3 Deep Analysis
1 Krosan Reclamation
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Aether Burst
4 Mental Note (could also be Careful Study)
4 Circular Logic
4 Sylvan Safekeeper
The deck is a little slower than the Standard version, simply because we don’t have eight one-drop mana producers. Running Werebears instead of Birds and Elves to speed it up does give the deck a little more power, though; a 4/4 in the late game is much scarier than an 0/1 flier.
It’s also got a little bit of that IBC "Domain" flavor running by running only four Circular Logic for counters, much the same way Domain only ran four Evasive Actions. You can bring in the wonderfully underrated Grip of Amnesia from the sideboard to beef up the counter base against the right deck.
Call me crazy, but I’m looking at cards that either deplete or protect cards in the graveyard as what are going to be defining the environment in post-Judgment OBC. Haunting Echoes, yes, is a powerful card, but I think cheaper cards like Morningtide, Grip of Amnesia, Decompose, Coffin Purge and, yes, even Tombfire are going to be more viable sideboard cards.
I like using Ground Seal to protect your graveyard in Quiet Roar (at least it’s a cantrip) – however, global effects (like Morningtide) and cards that target players, not graveyards (Haunting Echoes) make it an imperfect choice, but the best available.
I don’t think Quiet Roar is so powerful that banning Quiet Speculation is called for at this time. There are too many cards that wreck it for it to be truly dominant. It’s still Tier 1, though, and it’s something you are going to have to include in the testing gauntlet.
But what about using Quiet Speculation not with green, but with white? Yea, verily, weenie white (well, WW/u) might actually be viable with cards like Battle Screech and Prismatic Strands. There are some decent small white-type critters in OBC, such as Suntail Hawk, Patrol Hound, and the original Sylvan Safekeeper – Devoted Caretaker; you can also snag a quality pumper in Divine Sacrament and a splash of spot removal in Second Thoughts.
Okay, I’m kidding about that last part. I suppose you could go with Kirtar’s Desire, which is decent as far as the Pacifism part, or maybe Lost in Thought. Or perhaps Aether Burst. How about Kirtar’s Wrath? Cast it with threshold with a Divine Sacrament or two in play and you’ve got some serious post-Wrath beatdown.
4 Suntail Hawk
4 Devoted Caretaker
4 Battle Screech
4 Patrol Hound
3 Pianna, Nomad Captain
4 Divine Sacrament
2 Prismatic Strands
4 Quiet Speculation
4 Circular Logic
4 Skycloud Expanse
Turn 1 Suntail Hawk, turn 2 Patrol Hound, turn 3 Divine Sacrament is pretty good, no? If there was only an Armageddon in the format… Well, an Armageddon in white, not red. Don’t forget that "Wuv Muffin" also serves as a mechanism for pitching madness and graveyard recursion spells just like it’s slightly better cousin, Wild Mongrel.
The sideboard is… Well, a first pass. Dogged Hunter is pretty darn good against U/G and Squirrel’s Nest based decks. Karmic Justice is underrated protection against burn and mono-black. Stupefying Touch is there for things like Mongrels; it could be replaced easily by Kirtar’s Desire. Morningtide is anti-graveyard recursion, especially Roar. Wrath I’ve touched on (it’s probably too expensive, though), and the Frantic Purification is packed as defense against certain annoying enchantments, like Compulsion and Solitary Confinement. Other possibilities include Aether Burst and Unquestioned Authority.
The deck could almost – almost – go completely towards pure weenie white, adding Benevolent Bodyguard and Phantom Nomad to the mix. The lack of cheap spot removal, however, makes this an iffy proposition at best.
I’ll save that for another article.
Another fun deck my playtesting group was canoodling around with was a B/R reanimation deck. The first pass of the deck was geared solely towards the reanimation aspect; Book Burning and Buried Alive filled the graveyard with singletons of goodies like Anger, Laquatus’s Champion and Petradon. Stitch Together and Zombify got the creatures into play. And the deck rocked.
Until we figured out that if you just took the six damage when you tried to use Book Burning to get to instant threshold, the deck tended to fizzle since there wasn’t much other burn to force an opponent to let it resolve.
The deck was pretty much a one-trick pony – a very fun pony, mind you, but not that well trained. If it didn’t kill you by turn 5 or so, it didn’t have a lot of gas to finish the job.
Since then, "Hellblazer" been getting fine-tuned. The reanimation aspect is still there, but it’s not the main focus. There are more "punisher" spells added to put more pressure on an opponent and force through spells:
1 Laquatus’s Champion
4 Mesmeric Fiend
4 Cabal Therapy
3 Chainer’s Edict
4 Stitch Together
4 Book Burning
2 Breaking Point
4 Tainted Peak
4 Barbarian Ring
The addition of Browbeat and Breaking Point give the deck the extra "oomph" it needed to get over the top in terms of forcing an opponent to make "six of one, half a dozen of the other" decisions. Take six from a turn 2 Book Burning? Fine. How about five from a turn 3 Browbeat? Then a turn 4 Book Burning?
The deck has good early disruption with Mesmeric Fiend and Cabal Therapy, and once you get to threshold – not as difficult in this B/R deck as it is with others – Stitch Together can get you a 12/12 Magnivore or game-winning Laquatus’s Champion from the graveyard. Magnivore is usually your instant victory condition. In a deck that is sorceries and nothing but sorceries, it tends to get really big really fast, and at four mana is very easy to hardcast. The lone Laquatus’s Champion was included for the fact that it can win you the game instantly if you can get an opponent down on life.
Like most B/R decks, this one has some problems – namely, no way to deal with problematic enchantments like Solitary Confinement. Tri-color decks are difficult to pull off in OBC, so splashing green really won’t work. With Hellblazer, you pretty much have to pay your money and take your chances.
The deck also seems to occasionally hit a "hiccup" between the midgame game, when you’re using early disruption, and the late game when you’re dropping the Magnivore for the win. It can’t always maintain the gas going from first to fifth. Still, it’s a lot of fun to play and might be something you see as OBC tournaments start ramping up.