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The 2004 Championship Deck Challenge: Mono-Colored Madness!

Magic: the Gathering Champs
logoJim brings you both the good and the bad of his Champs testing experiences, complete with not one, but two tribute decks to Indiana Jones. There’s something here for both casual and competitive players alike, so dig in and see what your opponents just might be playing tomorrow.

Before I get started, I must just say that today is not a good day for the writing of Magic prose. My stomach is in knots, and I haven’t slept all that well for the past three days. You see, I am a fan of the team called the Boston Red Sox – the only team capable of inflicting such physical malady upon their fanbase. By the time this article is published, the series will likely be either won or lost, and I can think of no range of emotion more disparate between the two outcomes. A win means the Red Sox have done what no other baseball team has done in history and breaking the media-driven Curse of the Bambino against their most storied rivals in the process. A loss means that their remarkable comeback would be just another crushing chapter in a book filled with pages of bitter disappointment and longing. Tonight’s tilt is likely to be the most-watched baseball game ever, as even the most casual follower of sports is sucked into the inevitable drama. As for the true fans of either team…


Yeah, I’m a mess.


Yet I’m told that I have to produce an article about Magic at the pleading of Teddy K. How does he expect me to do this? Doesn’t he realize that I can’t think about anything else today? I don’t care how many people stiffed him on this assignment; I just can’t get in-depth about anything else. I’m focusing, channeling, harnessing all of my energy for the battle set to begin tonight. The best I can give the StarCityGames.com readership are some decklists and a fair bit of analysis about the States metagame. I need a pass on this one, people.


So I can write about a Green based decklist or I can write about the best non-traditional archetype… hmm. Well hell, I think I’ll just go all out on the mono-colored tip this time. Let’s start out with a fun mono-Green deck that I cooked up a while back:


Cold-Hearted

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Sakura Tribe Elder

4 Tangle Asp

4 Eternal Witness

4 Viridian Shaman

3 Matsu-Tribe Decoy

2 Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro

2 Sosuke, Son of Seshiro

2 Seshiro, the Anointed

1 Shisato, Whispering Hunter

1 Glissa Sunseeker

3 Time of Need

2 Coat of Arms

2 Collective Unconscious

2 Oxidize


19 Forest

2 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers


I hate snakes, Jacques!


I’m not recommending that anyone seriously play this deck at States for any reason other than to have a good time. These reptiles can smash some face, though. When Seshiro’s snake family is out on the town together, there are almost no good choices for the opponent in combat. It’s pretty comical to watch the other side of the table decide whether or not to block a Tangle Asp, I have to say. I also tossed in a few random “I win” cards like Coat of Arms and Collective Unconscious to give the deck a little more late game juice. Another cool synergy comes from Sachi: she turns twelve of the deck’s more respectable cards into Fyndhorn Elders, enabling the powering of bigger spells and thereby somewhat atoning for the light land count. I really haven’t thought squat about the sideboard, but it probably needs more copies of Oxidize for Affinity, Fecundity to combat MBC and B/G, and Naturalize for enchantments. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not the last we’ve seen of the snakes, friends. Something in me is whispering that it could be a competitive deck for Kamigawa block… but I digress.


Okay, now I can talk about a deck that I actually have been playtesting a bit, and one that from what I understand had a fair amount of success in a tournament North of the border.


Rats!

4 Ravenous Rats

4 Chittering Rats

4 Nezumi Graverobber

4 Horobi, Death’s Wail

3 Nezumi Shortfang


4 Echoing Decay

4 Distress

4 Night’s Whisper

3 Rend Flesh

2 Barter in Blood



4 Chrome Mox

15 Swamp

4 Blinkmoth Nexus

1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse


From what I understand, this is Jelger (?)’s list, but it was given to me by Knut via Josh Ravitz, as I have never read the original article. This was the absolute first deck that I tried to make when I first started fiddling around with Champions, and I came within four cards of what’s printed here. It’s really an extremely obvious deck to concoct – it plays all of the good rat creatures and four copies of Horobi, Death’s Wail to screw over Affinity. It won’t win without speed, so Chrome Mox is a given, and we certainly need Night’s Whisper to recover from the card disadvantage. Sprinkle in the best Black removal spells, a little extra discard, and voila! I virtually guarantee that every pro is in love with this list because it’s got everything you could possibly want in a deck and just about everything in it costs two mana. It’s good, but it’s not as good as it looks, sadly. Rats are decent against Affinity, and it will absolutely murder any Blue-based control deck, but it will struggle against any deck with Red in it or the surging B/G Control archetype. It’s definitely a viable option for States though; expect to see some rodents on the other side of the board come Saturday.


Mono-Blue Control

2 Keiga, The Tidal Star

2 Meloku, The Clouded Mirror


3 Annul

4 Mana Leak

3 Echoing Truth

3 Relic Barrier

4 Vedalken Shackles

4 Thirst for Knowledge

3 Hinder

3 Oblivion Stone

3 March of the Machines

1 Rewind


18 Island

3 Stalking Stones

3 Blinkmoth Nexus

1 Minamo, School at Water’s Edge


This list is obviously a slight departure from Flores’ Mono-Blue deck, but pretty close in spirit. I haven’t tested with Blue cards a whole lot, but it would pay to be prepared vs. them at States. I like March of the Machines in the main simply because it can auto-win you the game vs. Affinity instead of having to scrap and struggle for everything. I also like the inclusion of Oblivion Stone straight up because it is quite liable to be good against the overall randomness of the field, can turn into a 3/3 beater at times, and if useless, can be pitched to Thirst for Knowledge. This deck crushes the new-school B/G control simply because it can counter anything that’s even remotely relevant to the matchup and then beat the bejesus out of them with man-lands. There’s no question that Mono-Blue will struggle against Tooth and Nail simply due to Bosieju, Who Shelters All, but there may or may not be a secret piece of sideboard technology out there that really screws them. I’m not one to reveal such things two days before the tournament, however.


Overall Expectations for Saturday

I believe the field to be 35% Affinity, 10-15% Tooth and Nail variants, 10-15% Black-based (aggro or control), perhaps as much as 10% Big-Red or Red-based, and the rest to be completely homegrown concoctions. Affinity is still the best deck, but it will likely face a sea of hate (and rise above it, per usual). States is an extremely random metagame and doing well there isn’t really based so much on one’s deck being better tuned or metagamed for the current environment. All kinds of players come out of the woodwork for this event, so match outcomes are given to favor the better player or the player who is more familiar with the overall workings of his deck. Are you one of these players? I hope so!


Now if you’ll all excuse me, it’s only a few hours till game time.


And yes, I’m still a mess.


Jim Ferraiolo

Dobbs on MODO and IRC

[email protected]