There are two things I like to have in a good tournament deck: 1) multiple paths to victory, b) flexibility, c) and being really fun to play. Okay, that’s three things.
This is why I will almost never play combo decks in tournament. Combo is (almost) never fun to play. It’s more like a mathematical exercise, and if I could do math, I would have been a chemical engineer. There are exceptions, though, which I call the“Retarded Monkey” rule.
The Retarded Monkey Rule states that a combo deck is only playable if a retarded monkey could play the deck and win. It comes from a tournament I was playing in; one of the rare times I was actually playing a combo deck competitively. I was playing against another combo player—only his deck went off on turn five, I went off on turn four, ergo, I won. Watching the stupidity unfold, as we blithely ignored each other to set up our kill mechanisms, I exclaimed,“My God, a monkey could play this deck. And it wouldn’t even have to be a smart monkey. It could be a retarded monkey and win with this!” A good laugh was enjoyed by all, and that begat my Golden Rule of Combo Decks.
Sabre Bargain? No. Far too complicated. Does not pass the Retarded Monkey test.
Trix? Closer, but the monkey doesn’t quite figure it out.
But I’m getting off the beaten path here.
My current Type II deck of choice was a creation of Jay Schneider, he of Sligh fame and definitely one of the more innovative deck builders I know. And he lives in Eugene now, lucky me. It fulfils the three rules mentioned above and it’s a fascinating creation: a mono-blue control deck that has zero counterspells in the main deck. Zip. Zilch. De nada. But lots of control and bouncy things.
He called it“Rishadan Fish,” but quite honestly, that name is not silly enough for me, so after much consideration (and a few tweaks of my own), I’ve got a much better name for this deck.
It makes perfect sense, since, as everyone hopefully knows,“tiggers like bouncing” and are quite silly to boot.
4 Seal of Removal
4 Waterfront Bouncer
4 Gilded Drake
4 Powder Keg
4 Rishadan Cutpurse
4 Rishadan Footpad
4 Temporal Adept
1 Rayne, Academy Chancellor
2 Extravagant Spirit
4 Faerie Conclave
4 Rishadan Port
2 Dust Bowl
The pre-Nemesis version of the deck ran Veiled Sentry, simply because it was the best 1cc drop available at the time. The deck wants to be able to play something on turn one, since there’s no reason to save mana for a counterspell. In theory, the Sentry would slow an opponent down and make them reluctant to cast a really large spell. In practice, I’d usually end up with a 1/1 or a 2/2 that became a chump blocker and was always the first thing to be sideboarded out.
A few notes on the construction of the deck:
Pirates: The main theme of the deck is the Cutpurses & Footpads, a.k.a.“Blue Avalanche Riders.” This enables me to use my Simpsons Sea Captain voice early and often in the game, much to my opponent’s consternation.“Yarrr, matey, ye be having to sacrifice a permanent now, arrrr.” And I wonder why I have no friends.
With the Ports and Boomerangs, you can generally keep an opponent locked down early. Get a turn two Waterfront Bouncer to go with a turn three Cutpurse, and you can almost ensure your opponent is locked down for the rest of the game with the“dancing pirates,” yo ho ho and a bottle of Sobe.
Gilded Drake: Get this bad boy out early with bounce to back him up and you have the game virtually won. If you can get a Waterfront Bouncer or Temporal Adept out on turn two or three and follow that up with the Drake, you can get an early creature lock. A very effective strategy against the current wave of Rebel Weenie White decks. Obviously, it’s not that great against creatureless decks, but in that case, sideboarding is that that much easier.
Misdirection: Okay, I said no counterspells, but Misdirection is more of a pseudo-counterspell and a complete and total beating. Also the bane of Ponza and it’s ilk. Pillage my land? No, no, I’m sure you meant your land. Vendetta my Waterfront Bouncer? Are you sure you didn’t want to target your Masticore instead? Might of Oaks your creature? And don’t get me started on the truly utter evil of Misdirection with Wake of Destruction and“lobotomy” spells…
Extravagant Spirit: What’s wrong with a 4/4 flying creature, for only four mana, with no benefit to an opponent (see Djinn, Indentured)? Nobody ever seems to play this card outside of certain Masques block decks. In this deck it is, to grind a catchphrase into the ground, a beating. You usually only have one or two cards in hand by the time you can play the Spirit, being as you have no need to hoard counters in this deck, so paying one or two mana for a 4/4 flyer each turn isn’t that much of a hassle. This card gives the deck an element of beatdown it would otherwise be missing.
Rayne, Academy Chancellor: Jay clued me in to this card, and it’s a beating and a half. One she hits the table, she’s a card drawing machine. For those of you who have stashed your Raynes in the forgotten back pages of your trade binder, the important part of the text box is:“Whenever you or a permanent you control becomes a target of a spell or ability controlled by one of your opponents, you may draw a card.” Duress me? I draw a card. Shock a creature? I draw a card. Port one of my lands? That’s a card. Use the Masticore to sweep the board? I draw a lot of cards. At the very worst, she replaces herself if an opponent kills her. At the very best, my opponent stops casting spells and targeting permanents to keep me from drawing four or five cards a turn, thusly playing right into my hands.
Once, while watching Jay play a Rayne, I commented that I needed a Spanish version of that card.
“Whatever for?” he asked.
“So I can play with the Rayne in Spain,” I quipped, quite pleased with my horrendous pun. Jay had to agree that the pun was indeed quite horrendous, but amusing nonetheless. I have not yet been able to find a Rayne in Spain, so my Rayne is quite plain. If some kind soul out there could hook me up with a Senorita Rayne, from Spain, I would be quite fain.
Parallax Tide: I don’t have it in my version of the deck, but I’ve seen another version played locally that has used it to great effectiveness. Once it hits the table, you remove two counters to take two of your opponent’s lands from play, then use the Pirate dance to start taking out the remainder of your opponent’s permanents. I’m not completely sold on the card, more testing is required, but it has potential.
Playing this deck is a blast. It’s never the same game twice and matches up well against any deck out there. It’s a beating against Ponza and Stompy is none too fond of it either. It’s about 50-50 vs. combo decks (as a Replenish deck just beat the living daylights out of me the other night), and I’m still working on tweaks to shore up that weakness. So try it. You’ll like it. Trust me.