First off, I’d like to inform you that Tsuyoshi Fujita’s deck has improperly been monikered. Just as we don’t call a mocha latte a”Mawcha LAAT”, we shouldn’t call his deck”Rice Snack.” It should properly be monikered”Onigiri.” Onigiri are cheap, filling, and yummy.
But anyway, enough about harping about Japanese food! Let’s get all patriotic and name this deck good and American-style!
Zippy VW Beetle
(Hey, I can’t get anything about cars straight, nationality included. But at least the deck has Thornscape Familiar in it… Which is a beetle, right?)
The fries sprinkled with beef fat (sorry, vegetarians!) that make the whole thing work:
4 Birds of Para Para Paradise
4 Shivan Reef
4 Yavimaya Coast
4 Karplusan Forest
1 Keldon Necropolis
Mana curve: Four one-drops, eleven two-drops and four two-or-five drops, nine three-drops, four four-drops (with three more, counting used Calls), three five-drops, and two x-drops. Nineteen spells requiring red, twenty-three with green, and seven reasons to have blue handy.
Born out of IBC, this deck is a bastardization of Liquid Tempo and Rocket Shoes. This deck eschews the spicy Fires of Yavimaya and Skizzik for a bunch of fast, fairly efficient threats backed with enough burn to clear the way. Some of my calls are a bit weird, so bear with me as I explain.
#1. Where the heck are the Elves? You want to attack, right?
I can’t afford Llanowar Elves. Too rich for my blood. Curse you rich Elf-owning bastards!
In all seriousness, Llanowar Elves are decent creatures. They’re in slews and slews of Green decks. But since I want the potential to cast two red burn spells a turn, the Elf can only chip in so much. In addition, he can either tap, or attack. Volkswagen Beetle (a.k.a. Thornscape Familiar) helps you do that, and it can chip in an attack. Sounds like a sexier card to me.
On the other hand, getting Fire-burnt along with its spiritual brutha, the Raging Against the Machine Kavu, can feel awfully depressing. But in that case, the Cyborg Elves weren’t helping you anyway.
#2. Blue? Why the hell are you putting blue into this perfectly fine Rocket Shoes deck?
Because I like chocolate in my peanut butter. In all seriousness, I threw blue in because Ice is such a massive tempo wrecker for a deck that slams home the win on turn 6. And Prophetic Bolt helps keep your hand high. Plus, you have evil, evil options in the sideboard.
Actually, it’s because Blue is the best color in IBC. ^_^
3. Why no Skizzik?
Four mana is efficient and all, but I want to get the blockers out of the way, not trample over them.
4. Are you that enamored of Twiddle that you like Ice over Fire?
The game plan? Well, you’ve got to be wily. You’ve got to be cunning. And most importantly, you’ve got to get your men over to the other guy’s side of the board without getting them killed. Burn any opposition into the ground. If they’ve got mana critters, Fire – Ghitu or otherwise – will do the job. If they’ve got good blockers? Rage, Ghitu Fire, and Prophetic Bolt. Flametongue Kavu, Raging Kavu, Call of the Herd, and Kavu Titan will be able to maul anything short of Spiritmongers.
Sound simple? Well, it might be. But don’t get complacent.
New Sligh: Against new Sligh, you’re the control deck. Sligh will usually assume your mana creatures are the threat, and burn them out. But your burn spells are pretty economical, and Call of the Herd will eventually assure you card advantage and the victory as long as you keep your life total up high. Raging Kavu can be a good, quick Minotaur Explorer blocker spell. Testing tells me this runs about sixty/forty, depending on how much the other guy screws up.
B/W/G Arena/Echoes: This Japanese specialty gives the deck fits. Gerrard’s Verdict is absolutely a terror, since it either gives the other guy life gain or slices away two threats from your hand. Death Grasp and Pernicious Deed also will cause you to curse your infernal luck. Fortunately, you guys in the States probably won’t have to deal with this much. That’s why I pack Tranquility in addition to Hull Breach.
B/U Finkel, no Pikula: This deck has twelve ways to kill Finkel and eleven bears. Slip a Bear or two onto the table and hold your reserves back to toast the other guy as soon as he taps out. If you get the Necropolis down, be sure to hold back to maximize your resources. Be sure to occasionally throw out an Elephant token into play. Keep in mind that you’re waging a war of attrition between your questions and his answers. You probably should have more questions than he has answers… So hang tough! I’d say you’ll win a good 65 percent of the time.
Green Stompy: You are water. He is fire. Beat him by flowing where he is not. Take the aggressor’s stance as early as possible for as long as you can run with it, then prepare yourself for the long haul as your pachyderms, Flametongues, and men face off his slightly larger army of tokens. Ice can slip a sneak attacker through to set you up. Unless he Overruns, your late game burn will get the win. In the sideboard, you’re packing Wash Out, so have no fear. And please consider the risks if you attack into five green mana. An even matchup, moving up to around seventy percent in the sideboarded games.
Draw-Go. Ouch…. For them. This deck will do quite good against Draw-Go, which is far too slow to handle the massive press. You’ll win seventy percent of these games.
White Weenie: Ditto. This match is a bit problematic, as he may get out ugly guys like Devoted Caretaker to keep you from using Ices judiciously – but if you’re lucky, Kavu Titan should be able to smash his forces down to size. Wash Out again will slide your horde through. Not a bad matchup at all; I’ll rate this at about 60-65 percent. White Lightning is also bad for you, especially when they board in icky Standard Bearers. Aegis of Honor and Worship also are nearly unanswerable after game one, but that’s why I’m packing enchantment hate.
Opposition: Here’s a problem matchup for you. If he’s running a Fishy version with Static Orb, you will be in trouble except when you can slide a sneaky Ice through to untap all your men. Fire might be able to kill off his tappers if they’re small, though. You’ll win 40 percent of first games; a tough but certainly winnable matchup. Second game improves dramatically.
The other side of the problem is the Kibler/Nakamura U/G version running Beast Attacks, Call of the Herd, and mana critters. It doesn’t run Static Orb. What happens here is a trade-off; he’ll be using his little critters to tap your guys while his Beast tokens smash their way through the line. In this case, you will get the chance to get your Ghitu Fires, Urza’s Rages, and Prophetic Bolts off to blast his large guys. The problem is that of attrition; he can outcounter you. So if you don’t get the early kill, you’ve got to get lucky with burn. The sideboard helps the situation fairly well, with Wash Out being able to hose down his token army. I’ll also rate your chances at 40 percent. With the sideboarded hate available, you should bring game 2 and 3 back up to around 55 percent.
The UltraFinkula*: The Deck Formerly Known as Gomar will cause you major problems if the dynamic Invitational Wondertwins get down on the table. On the other hand, you have a few different ways to burn them out, so you’re not at their complete mercy. Game 2 makes for worse times, as Spectral Lynxes join the fray. Best of luck to you; you’re going to be in for a rough ride. You’ll win 55 percent of the first games, down to 40 after sideboarding.
The moral of the story: Do you live in a beatdown-dominated environment? If so, this deck is only a decent call. But if you want to gamble on the metagame and play a deck that stands a solid chance against control, you’ll want to at least test this deck and make your own judgement.
Well, that’s the basics, and I hope you get some mileage out of this in your playtesting gauntlet for States. I personally have a few GPTs for Sendai coming my way and will be focusing my energies on Extended. (I fell short at the first GPT at Shizuoka in the semis. Rats.) Please send any comments/complaints/whatever to [email protected]. But best of luck to those of you competing at States!
* – The deck has nothing to do with Armand Van Helden’s popular house track”Ultrafunkula” from 1997, but it’s all right.