SCG Daily: Nathan J’s Totally Awesome Casual-Competitive Corner

Looking for some new decks to spice up your life? Nathan reveals four of his favorite casual decks of all-time. Learn the secrets of DarkSlide, Oshawa Zakkai, Savannah’s Revenge, and Wizards inside!

I play mostly around the kitchen table. This frees me from constraint when deckbuilding – after all, with friends, there isn’t a true metagame unless you have consistent multiplayer matches going on. At the kitchen table, anything goes — and anything can win.

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my casual-competitive decks that I’ve built. They’re great for playing with friends, and for improving your play skill. They are also good decks. They win a lot of games. If you’re a mostly casual player but are looking to get better at Magic, you might want to pay close attention to these decks. They’ll help you skip from point “A” — deckbuilding — to point “B” — focusing on the nuances of better technical play.

Win or lose, these decks are a lot of fun. Let me begin by presenting one of my favorite decks of all time.

DarkSlide, by njx
//Creatures: 23
4 Twisted Abomination
4 Undead Gladiator
4 Gravedigger
4 Nekrataal
3 Eternal Dragon
3 Temple Acolyte
1 Auramancer

//Spells: 13
4 Wrath of God
4 Astral Slide
3 Vindicate
2 Oversold Cemetery

//Mana: 24
4 Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author]
4 Secluded Steppe
4 Barren Moor
1 Temple of the False God
5 Plains
6 Swamp

This deck is a monster against any deck with creatures. FrummyChick used this deck to learn about both the subtleties of card advantage, and how to best fight a war of attrition. Facing burn? Slide Temple Acolyte in and out for a while. Cycle a critter to slide out Gravedigger — then get that creature back when Gravedigger returns to play.

The interaction between cards doesn’t stop there. Auramancer returns your enchantments, should they be destroyed. Astral Slide ensures that all of your enchantments eventually return. Oversold Cemetery feeds off of all your cycled creatures. Nekrataal becomes repeated removal when paired with the Slide.

Once you get to the late game, the DarkSlide deck just can’t lose to any aggressive strategy. Even control decks — including permission decks — have problems keeping up with the card advantage you generate.

This deck isn’t really expensive to build — you can easily swap out Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author] and Vindicate for cheaper alternatives — such as Caves of Koilos or Disenchant/Terror — and you can change Eternal Dragon into Noble Templar without harming the deck too much. The only rares essential to the deck are the two Overgrown Cemetery. After that, the rest of the deck can be constructed from commons and uncommons.

If this type of tempo-control deck isn’t your cup of tea, then perhaps you should try one of my favorite self-built aggro decks. Be warned though — this one is a little more pricy.

Oshawa Zakkai, by njx
//Creatures: 25
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Eternal Witness
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
3 Iwamori of the Open Fist
2 Viridian Zealot

//Spells: 9
4 Rancor
2 Skullclamp
3 Umezawa’s Jitte

//Mana: 25
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Land Grant
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Mox Emerald
1 Black Lotus
10 Forest

//Sideboard: 15
4 Xantid Swarm
4 Ground Seal
4 Naturalize
3 Viridian Shaman

Obviously, you can do without the Mox Emerald or Black Lotus — simply change those into Forests. This deck won’t win any major tournaments, but it’s pretty brutal if you play with it against friends. Even the most hardcore decks can have trouble with openings like this:

Forest, Elvish Spirit Guide -> Mongrel -> Rootwalla x2 -> Land Grant; say go holding Forest and Skullclamp.

While that’s the god draw for this deck, it regularly opens with explosive draws. It’ll be crushed by a “real” Vintage deck like Oath of Druids, but it’s a blast to play otherwise.

Turn One: Forest, Elvish Spirit Guide -> Sakura-Tribe Elder -> Forest

Turn Two: Forest, Troll Ascetic, Rancor

Turn Three: Rancor, Rancor, attack with an untargetable 9/2 regenerator. Watch opponent go, “Damn, I’m screwed.”

If you’re looking for something a bit more aggro-combo, I like this current deck I’m playing:

Savannah’s Revenge, by njx
//Creatures: 29
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Watchwolf
4 Selesnya Guildmage
4 Anurid Brushhopper
4 Loxodon Hierarch
4 Mystic Enforcer
2 Tolsimir Wolfblood
1 Reya Dawnbringer
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Karmic Guide

//Spells: 7
3 Survival of the Fittest
4 Swords to Plowshares

//Mana: 24
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Savannah
4 Temple Garden
4 Brushland
4 Plains
4 Forest

It’s not the best type of this deck I’ve ever built, but it’s the most fun aggro-combo deck I’ve played to date. The addition of Tolsimir Wolfblood has allowed me to build this as a straight W/G deck. Most of the creatures I list are rare, but this deck works well with the standard stable of common/uncommon Green critters. Basking Rootwalla is particularly good when paired with Survival of the Fittest, as you can chain them out repeatedly thanks to Survival’s interaction with Madness. Likewise, the threshold-loving Werebear and dredgable green creatures also interact well with this strategy.

This deck plays out multiple ways. You can go for straight Beatdown, using Survival to fetch your most powerful creatures each turn, culminating in the double-Crusade known as Mr. Wolfsblood. You also can play Reanimator, dumping Akroma and Reya into the bin for Karmic Guide to reanimate. You can alternatively, simply chain Survival searches until you reach threshold for your Mystic Enforcer.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ll leave you with my most evil deck of all:

Wizards, by njx
//Creatures: 28
4 Stormscape Apprentice
4 Meddling Mage
4 Thought Courier
4 Voidmage Prodigy
4 Patron Wizard
3 Temporal Adept
3 Azami, Lady of Scrolls
2 Jushi Apprentice

//Spells: 8
4 AEther Vial
4 Standstill

//Mana: 24
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
4 Tundra
12 Island

The only glaring omission from the deck is Force of Will, but I left it out in favor of the tribal theme. Wizards is already an infuriating deck to play against.

The basic plan for this deck is demonstrated by the following opening: Start with a first turn AEther Vial, follow it with a second turn Standstill (using Vial to play Stormscape Apprentice), and then sit on the Standstill until A) your opponent plays a spell, netting you cards, or B) you put Patron Wizard and/or Azami into play, making your opponent cry in frustration.

Patron Wizard is eeeeevil. It turns every one of your creatures into a one-way Sphere of Resistance. If you can keep dropping more Wizards than they have lands, it will be difficult for your opponent to make a single play.

If your opponent does nothing, they lose. You will eventually build up insurmountable card advantage through Azami and Jushi Apprentice — or keep their board locked with Temporal Adept. Eventually, you will be able to attack with ten or so two power creatures, sealing the game. It’s also not too difficult to flip Jushi Apprentice late in the game – and if you do, it’s pretty easy to deck someone.

Stormscape Apprentice and Temporal Adept help you control the board. Note: If you build a sideboard for this deck, be sure to include Stern Proctor and Minamo Scrollkeeper. They will help you address your concerns about artifacts/enchantments and weenie rushes, respectively. Also note that your casual friends will probably refuse to play with you ever again if you insist on bringing this deck to the table more than once.

Anyhooch, you’ve been great once again. See you tomorrow for the last installment of my daily series!

-Nathan J