Peace of Mind: Indian Summer

Necropotence created the Black Summer; this deck is a Necro-like deck, coming after the real Necro has gone away. Arena and Spiritmonger’ll do that, all right.

“Hey, pretty, don’t you want to take a ride with me?” – Poe

“If you wanna go and take a ride wit’ me, we three-wheelin’ in the four with my gold CDs, oh why do I live this way? (Hey, must be the money!)” – Nelly

I wonder if those two ever hooked up.

Apocalypse is coming very shortly — by the time you read this, it’ll be even more shortly, and you may have already whetted your appetite on the spoiler or actual cards at a prerelease.

The time of emptiness is over with. Playing around with 7th Edition hasn’t been very satisfying. Yeah, we have some new archetypes, yeah, let’s everyone try and break Opposition, but I can’t really get into a metagame that lasts for two months… And one in which I likely won’t be participating unless there’s a Standard Qualifier that slipped past my watchdogs.

I’ve been devoting my time almost exclusively to building and playtesting post-Apocalypse decks, because the cards are simply fascinating. Traditionally the third set of an expansion holds some of the most powerful cards, and in this case there is no exception.

I must admit, however, they went a bit overboard with Spiritmonger.

I wish someone would do a count of the amount of balanced creatures, converted mana cost four or higher, sans Echo, that have had power and toughness both greater than their casting cost.

Must be the money.

Take a look at this monstrosity; there’s a picture of it at the Wizards site (and, actually, it deserves a much cooler picture; I hate when broken critters have boring images). I’ll break it down for you like an underpaid bus boy:




-A bit undercosted, you’d say, as 6/6 should probably be a converted mana cost of six at least. There’s precedent — Firestorm Hellkite, 4UR. The Dragon Legends, 3XYZ. However, Spiritmonger’s only five mana. Hmmm. 


When Spiritmonger deals damage to a creature, put a +1/+1 counter on Spiritmonger.

 -Okay; the fact he’s a 6/6 for five mana, in the two colors of mana acceleration, is powerful enough, but the fact that if you chump block him you pay for it is vicious.


B: Regenerate Spiritmonger.

-His ability to regenerate? Well, yeah, that’s pretty damn strong, considering it’s only one black to do so. So far, we’ve discovered he’s cheap, he gets large, and he regenerates. What else could he do to set up us the bomb?


G: Spiritmonger becomes the color of your choice until end of turn.



I’m thinking that makes it pretty hard for white to deal with the fat bastard. Story Circle what? Voice of All whom? Come again?

::pause for reflection::

What, Wizards decided that tacking on trample might make him a wee bit overpowered? I’m surprised they showed such restraint. I’m surprised they didn’t find a way to make him red/green.

Let’s see what can take out Spiritmonger in a one-for-one trade. I don’t care about stall mechanisms, I want to know what can get rid of it once it hits the board.

Think about it.


Now go to your cards, get out your Terminates and your Wraths and Defiant Vanguards — amd oh yeah, don’t forget the immediately-viable Spectral Lynx, which is 2/1, pro-green, and regenerates — because Spiritmonger is coming to town, and I know I’LL be trying to get my hands on four of ‘em as fast as I can (baby, run — free yourself of me, fast as you can).

Of course, you can always cast Scorching Lava, with kicker, and then Flametongue him.


I have the feeling that a year from now, we’ll be talking about Spiritmonger like we talk about Blastoderm now.”Any deck you build has to have an answer for this 6/6 savage beatstick.”

What the hell IS a Spiritmonger, anyway?

1 : BROKER, DEALER — usually used in combination monger>

2 : a person who attempts to stir up or spread something that is usually petty or discreditable — usually used in combination monger>

Okay, so a Spiritmonger attempts to stir up spirits? To spread discreditable spirits around? (He attempts to buy and trade spirits, mainly because people will be selling their souls to get their hands on this baby — The Ferrett, discussing his own personal opinion)

I’m certain he’ll break a few spirits when he hits the ground.

Can’t fight the Seether.

( Rizzo’s last articlecaused that song to be stuck in my head. If you don’t know the song, try and find the first of Veruca Salt’s two albums. It’s worth it. But damn, I can’t get that refrain out of my head. It was written by Nina Gordon, who now has a solo career and a hit song on the airwaves. This musical interlude brought to you by Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat.)

The Spiritmonger is just the first of powerful opposite-color gold cards that are going to be in the environment in little over a month. Do you remember the old non-allied gold? I see a few of you are laughing, so yes, you must. Sure, we had the enjoyable Frenetic Efreet and Soltari Guerrillas, and the comboriffic Squandered Resources and Cadaverous Bloom (two strong black/green cards… hmmm…), but we also had these classics:

Emberwilde Caliph

Circle of Despair

Grim Feast

Vhati il-Dal

Energy Bolt

Pygmy Hippo

Malignant Growth

Reflect Damage

Righteous War

Suleiman’s Legacy

Warping Wurm


Wood Sage

Wow, these suck.

If you look at ‘em, you can see some neat ideas conceptually, but, um, that’s about it. In practice, these cards are more useful as fillers for Five decks.

It’s good to see that Wizards learned their lesson and is printing viable non-allied cards. Gold CDs, baby, they’re going to be played over and over again.

I was originally going to write about variants of the new God deck, but have been inspired to save that for next time. Right now, there is a black/white/green deck that is bojangling around my skull singing,”Please abuse me.” Yes, I have to wait until July to play it. That should give me just enough time to test it and then to beg, borrow, and steal the cards necessary to build it.

(I’m not really going to steal anything. I just wanted to sound tough. Boo.)

I have the feeling that anyone who takes a peek at the spoiler is going to come up with something using the same cards — so for once, let’s be cutting edge here, let’s look at top-notch free tech and give mad props to the R&D squad at Wizards for reprinting as many old-powerful-favorites-under-different-names as possible. Creativity and reinvention, I like. Brokenness, I don’t necessarily like. I’m not sure why these cards were brought back, but certainly it’s because they know a number of people are fiending for the gold.

Must be the money.

Somewhere along the line, taking a normal card, and adding another colored mana to it, became Wizards’ measuring stick for balance. Take Spiritmonger. Now, I want to take a poll — is anyone here, anyone at all, feeling that it’s going to be”difficult to cast” because it has black and green in the cost?

If so, then we need to step aside and take a look at the nonbasic lands that area available to us, because Standard may have finally reached the level of Extended as far as viability of multi-color decks. It doesn’t matter what color pair you use — there are at least four painlands in your color. Allied colors have an additional four lands available. Allied and non-allied still have City of Brass, AND they both also have at least one Lair floating around out there. Okay, let’s count that up. Non-allied colors have twelve land sources available that provide both colors of mana. Allied colors have sixteen. If you want to be wacky, you can even include Forsaken City.

The mana is out there, and it’s a freakin’ flood. Three colors is not only possible, but with the addition of some of the cards in Apocalypse, threatening.

I used to laugh at the concept of three-color decks in Standard. Now, it’s all good. I want a new archetype, and I want it to be three-color.

What’s exciting me right now is the reinvention of an OLD archetype.

Necro. It’s back.

No, the enchantment isn’t back. What we have instead is a deck that closely analogizes the synergies and complementary strategies of Necrodecks from the glory days, and whose potential can’t be ignored, even THIS EARLY.

For an excellent examination of the history of Necropotence, take a gander at Jim Grimmett’s History of Necropotence: http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article=536.

Necropotence irrevocably altered the environment, and represented an entirely new manner of thinking about resources and advantage. Classic Necrodecks won with disruption and advantage, and with a redundancy of effects that were synergetic and fluid. Whether it was combining Nevinyrral’s Disk with Drain Life for creature removal, or Hymn to Tourach plus Hypnotic Specter for hand destruction, Necrodecks were able to expect an answer to appear in one of the extra cards they were drawing.

When Yawgmoth’s Will came along, the deck metamorphosed further. Jim’s article listed Necro, as played by Brian Hacker at the Duelist Invitational in February 1999.

//NAME: Hacker Necro


3x Skittering Skirge

Other Spells(35)

4x Necropotence

4x Dark Ritual

4x Yawgmoth’s Will

4x Urza’s Bauble

4x Drain Life

4x Nevinyrral’s Disk

2x Corrupt

4x Duress

4x Diabolic Edict

1x Persecute

Land (22)

22x Swamp


4x Rain of Tears

4x Bottle Gnomes

4x Terror

2x Coercion

1x Persecute

“This deck was a monster. Everyone had to be ready for it or ready to lose. Sligh was seen by many as the Uber Answer, but lost frequently. Speed Green did well in many game ones, but after Necro sideboarded for a total of twelve creature kill spells — combined with their constant reuse by Yawgmoth’s Will — it found it hard to keep the pressure up.”

Thanks, Jim.

Once again, look at the redundancy of effects, which is only heightened by Yawgmoth’s Will. Being able to reuse these effects? There was always an answer.

And oh, was it fun to play.

Now, it’s two years later. The environment has slowed. Will a deck with that sort of power and speed exist? No. But can we duplicate the synergies and effects in C.E. Standard?


The deck is called”Indian Summer.” Props to Scott for naming this bad boy.

“Necropotence created the Black Summer. Indian Summer is a summer-like period of warmth in autumn, after summer has gone away. This deck is a Necro-like deck coming after real Necro has gone away. Not as hot, and probably won’t last as long, but a nice reminder of the way things were not so long ago.”

So sit back, relax, and check this out:

//NAME: Indian Summer


3x Nether Spirit

3x Spiritmonger

Other Spells(30)

4x Phyrexian Arena

3x Restock

4x Death Grasp

4x Pernicious Deed

4x Duress

3x Sterling Grove

4x Vindicate

4x Gerrard’s Verdict


4x Forest

4x Llanowar Wastes

2x Caves of Koilos

4x Plains

2x Elfhame Palace

2x City of Brass

6x Swamp



3x Cremate

3x Tsabo’s Web

3x Massacre

3x Persecute

3x Spectral Lynx


Laws, there’s some mighty powerful cards there, by and by.

I bet that at least a few of you are surprised I didn’t find a way to fit in Quirion Dryad.

No comment.

I’m not going to assume you know what those cards are, so don’t worry — read on for the ones that are unfamiliar to you. You already saw Spiritmonger above. Quickly: Wastes are the green/black painland; Caves are the white/black painland. That’s the sauce. Let’s look at the meat:

Phyrexian Arena



At the beginning of your upkeep, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.

No, it’s not Necropotence. But it’s a consistent source of card advantage for the small price of one life a turn. Look at the bright side — there’s no tricky math involved here.”Should I grab eight cards or ten?” Do not mistake me and think that I’m saying it’s as powerful as Necropotence, but take my word for it — those extra cards are huge. A one-sided Howling Mine that draws you into further disruption of your opponent’s win condition. You draw more threats, and they draw… One card a turn.


Death Grasp



Death Grasp deals X damage to target creature or player.

You gain X life.

This is Drain Life. No, actually, it’s better than Drain Life, because I’d much rather be able to pay one white to use colorless mana than have to worry about how much black I can spend. Death Grasp can power your Arena and give you a reprieve. Just throw four or five at your opponent’s head and buy yourself time. You will draw an answer.

Pernicious Deed



X, Sacrifice Pernicious Deed: Destroy each artifact, creature, and enchantment with converted mana cost X or less.

This isn’t Nevinyrral’s Disk. This is better. It’s cheaper. It doesn’t come into play tapped. It’s not Disenchantable if you play it right — you can drop this and sac it in one fell swoop, clearing the board without your opponent knowing what hit him. And, of course, it has that”non-targeting” factor on its side. What — your opponent has a Worship, Voice of All, Sterling Grove, and Blurred Mongoose out? Deed for four.

Then let your Spiritmonger walk in.

Deed is insane. I can see black decks splashing green only for this card.

Also, please note the synergy between Deed and Arena. There’s that redundancy again. Wipe the board clean! You know that 1) the Nether Spirit likely isn’t going to die, and 2) The Spiritmonger regenerates for one lowly black mana.

Your deck is self-cleaning. Deed plus Vindicate give you eight ways to remove yourself from an Arena-lock.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Did I mention Vindicate? We ALL know Vindicate by now, right?





Destroy target permanent.

No, there’s never been anything quite like that before. Do not compare this to Desert Twister. Never compare this to Desert Twister. This is cheap, and this is a threat against anything targetable. If this buried permanents, it’d be even scarier. Where was this when Dark God was being played? Sigh.

Now, that IS the money.


Gerrard’s Verdict



Target player discards two cards from his or her hand.

You gain 3 life for each land card discarded this way.

I am Wizards’ attempt to reprint a fair Hymn to Tourach. Verdict, no matter how you look at it, is a strong card. Yes, two random discard IS better, but Verdict is a second-turn play with lifegain synergy for your Arena. Assuming you went first, a Duress plus Verdict means you’ve taken out three of their first eight cards. Seems like a small amount, right? It’s not. It’s worth the trade, especially when you follow it with a strong turn 3, such as Arena, or Deed, or Spirit.

Catching on? Cool.

Okay, let’s do a recap and comparison here.



3x Skittering Skirge <--> 3x Nether Spirit, 3x Spiritmonger

The creatures are all strong, and both of ours will survive the Deed. Six creatures feels about right, but could potentially be lower if you’re not going to be facing a creature-filled environment.


4x Necropotence <--> 4x Phyrexian Arena

4x Yawgmoth’s Will <--> 3x Restock

4x Drain Life <--> 4x Death Grasp

4x Nevinyrral’s Disk <--> 4x Pernicious Deed

4x Duress <--> 4x Duress

The correlation is pretty evident here. Alright, Restock isn’t Yawgmoth’s Will, but considering the cards you’re going to be getting back, and the environment we’re in, you’ll be grabbing back Deeds, Verdicts, Grasps, Vindicates.

4x Dark Ritual

4x Urza’s Bauble <--> 3 Sterling Grove

4x Diabolic Edict <--> 4x Vindicate

2x Corrupt <--> 4x Gerrard’s Verdict

1x Persecute

In place of acceleration and non-targeted creature removal, we have the mini-Hymn, targeted permanent removal, and tutoring ability in Sterling Grove. Sterling Grove was originally Tsabo’s Web, and I may wind up switching back to it. However, being able to fetch or protect a Deed or Arena seemed fairly synergetic–and Tsabo’s Web is at some point going to be destroyed by the Deed anyway. Being able to sac the Grove to tutor after you sign the Deed is important.

Ah, synergy.

Is your Arena giving you trouble with life? Verdict yourself and pitch extra lands to buy some time.

You could Death Grasp your opponent for five or six, which is that many extra cards.

Or, if you don’t want to do any of those, just Vindicate the Arena and get your footing back. You can always Restock these cards later.

I love this deck. Obviously, Indian Summer is in its infancy. But it plays very well and it’s a joy to play. Is this deck easy to play? Nope. Any deck that involves paying your own life for advantage can be difficult.

However, just as God was evolved, I want to see Indian Summer evolve. Hints, suggestions, cards I haven’t considered — I welcome them at [email protected]. Tell me your opinion on Web vs. Grove, too.

Non-allied power cards are finally here, and they’re going to be with us for awhile. We look back on the old cards and laugh at their unplayability, and even as the environment ostensibly has slowed down, we see innovation long past when R&D’s collective minds should have thrown their hands in the air and given up. Kudos, Wizards.

But, c’mon, Spiritmonger? Why’d you do it? You can tell me.

Must be the money.


-m / 00010101