The Chump Block – Crab, Go

SCG Open Richmond!

Monday, February 22nd – I have been playing online, with a high degree of success, a deck that I thought was under wraps but, apparently, is widely known these days. I’ve simply been calling it “Crab, Go.”

I had an eye-opening experience as of late. When I first moved to the Windy City, I immediately found myself surrounded by like-minded individuals when it came to Magic; that is to say, we played Magic with an intensity. We tested Constructed constantly, whether it be for a specific upcoming tournament, testing out new innovations, or just for our own better understanding, twice a week. It was a given that we would be team drafting on Mondays in the not-open-on-Mondays Korean chicken restaurant that one of our team members partially owned and ran. Were we dripping with Magic-infused beads of sweat and it was, looking back, one of my favorite times in my Magic-playing history.

Unfortunately, our group pulled a Chinua Achebe and things fell apart. A rift opened up between a couple of the always-present members and pretty dramatically things came to a grinding halt. Inclement weather, people consistently going out of town, and money problems all exacerbated the situation, and now it’s been almost 2 months since we all joined together amidst that soy-and-ginger filled air and did any sort of card slinging. Any attempts to cobble together a draft as of late have been met with a regretful, “I guess it’s not going to happen tonight.” I feels like I’m stuck in the downward cycle of Flowers for Algernon. I’m beginning to atrophy. I’ve been working on Friday nights as well, so my only Magic interaction has been via MTGO which, up until Worldwake was released, wasn’t a problem. But for the last month I’ve been playing a dead format. Who cares if you’ve found a great new deck when people have already been planning and plotting with cards you haven’t really had a chance to use? My rant may seem a bit self-centered and melodramatic (and it is), but there’s a point in there somewhere. I realize what an important part my friends and teammates had on my playing ability, as without them I had little opportunity to bounce ideas off of anyone. Developing a solid group base is one of the best ways to improve as a player both in technical play and deck building, and the more well-oiled and consistent that group is, the better everyone becomes as a result.

Enough of the pity party…

I have been playing online, with a high degree of success, a deck that I thought was under wraps but, apparently, is widely known these days. In one of the few Daily Events that I played, I 4-0ed with it, and the only remotely close matchup that I had was against the mirror, which I won mainly through luck. I assume that it’s pretty much a well-known, though perhaps not well-respected, deck. I’m not sure what other people are referring to it as, but I’ve simply been calling it “Crab, Go” (keep in mind the deck was without Worldwake).

There are a number of suspect card choices, but I guarantee the deck went through a fair amount of testing. The Veldaken Outlanders might seem odd but they were doing everything that I wanted them to do, namely holding the fort against decks that I needed help against: Jund and Mono Red. They even work as a makeshift beater in a pinch, as decks such as Grixis really didn’t have any sort of reliable way to kill the guy short of Sorin or Essence Scatter. They were fine Path-my-own-dude targets, and even against decks where they didn’t shine, they still provided a minor speed bump which was often enough time to win most game 1s. All of this is a moot point, as WWK brings a host of better options to the table, but I felt like he needed a little justification.

Silence is a card that started out in the sideboard and without a doubt proved its merits time and time again. In a deck such as this, it really does act like a Time Warp often enough, and it can be one of the best cards in some matchups. Casting in against a Jund player around turns 3, 4, or 5 completely stymies any action they might have had and, more importantly, provides a little bit of a safety net in just running a Jace or whatever out there, free from the possible Bloodbraid blowout or Pulses that tend to ruin this deck’s day. Post-board, you usually untap with at least one counterspell, and that is a huge amount of tempo. Unfortunately, Silence doesn’t always pack the wallop you want (if they have gotten couple guys on the board already) and it looks like it loses even more of its power in the pre-WWK era for one simple reason: manlands. It seems most decks are running a few lands that can come alive and punch me in the face when the time arises, and with nothing else to do with their mana, that’s just what my opponents have been opting to do. I still like Silence, but it probably won’t be sitting pretty maindeck after this.

While this deck has been running extremely well for me on MTGO, there are a number of strikes against it going forward. First and foremost is the list Kyle Sanchez posted, which wins in a similar vein. Which is better? Kyle’s list was the list of choice for my friend in San Diego, and it’s certainly tempting. One of the main downfalls that the strictly U/W deck has is its lack of acceleration. Many decklists that I’ve seen out there have been running Knight of the White Orchid, a rather awkward card I often found since not only were there times when I did not have any more Plains left in my deck or my opponent did not have more lands than I, but it caused an unhealthy reliance on white mana. I’ve lost more games with this deck when I could not draw enough blue mana to feed my insatiable appetite, and having more plains definitely seemed like a mistake. I often found myself frustrated with a grip full of lands and too many spells to play, and Sanchez’s deck is appealing by having acceleration in spades in both one-drops and Rampant Growth forms.

Kyle’s deck also contains Knight of the Reliquary, a card that I love to have on my side of the board, and hate to see on the other side of the table. It allows for some sick mills with Herr Crab but, more importantly in my mind, provides you with some semblance of defense or, if the opportunity arises, offense. I’ve milled someone for 30 in a single turn, and I can only imagine how much he has managed to pull off.

Are there any things that I prefer about my build? I certainly am worried about the lack of Negates in his deck. Negate seems like such an important card, countering everything from Pulses to (at this point) opposing Archive Traps. I realize that he has them in the sideboard, but I have rarely been disappointed with running them maindeck.

I am torn about the Jaces. On the one hand, I love Jace Belerin, and he has often straight up won the game for me by milling the opponent to death. I also like the fact that he comes online sooner than the Mind Sculptor, a not-insignificant fact. With, I’m sure, a vast majority of players rocking Jace TMS, being able to preemptively counterspell their “game-breaking” spell seems incredible. He also seems like much less of a threat against my deck that he would against other decks. What good is fatesealing/scrying when you’re drawing 3 cards anyway? What creatures do I have to bounce? Hedron Crab? Brainstorming is still quite solid, but again, my opponents should be drawing upwards of two cards anyway, and I’m generally not too concerned about it if they’re taking cards from they’re deck faster. Perhaps I’m vastly underestimating him, but from the limited testing I’ve done so far he seems like a huge trump against other decks in the format and just sort of a 4 mana annoyance against mine. If Kyle’s assurance holds any truth to it, however, if new Jace does indeed turn around the Vampires matchup (the matchup that I’ve been having quite a bit of trouble with) perhaps I will try him out. Who knows, maybe we can mix and match him!

There is a distinct possibility that I will toy with the idea of running green in the final build that I decide upon. I want to concentrate right now on improving this build as I don’t want to steal Kyle Sanchez thunder.

One of the inclusions that I’m happiest about is that of Perimeter Guard. Having another creature to fetch with Ranger of Eos is a HUGE boon, as often getting Hedron Crabs is either a) unhelpful, as when you’re facing down an efficient beatdown from the opponent or b) impossible, when you’re already draw/fetched all your crabs already. I have been super happy with running him as he makes matchups that were otherwise much more difficult — Vampires, Mono Red — much more salvageable. Coupled with Walls of Denial and/or more Perimeter Guards in the maindeck or sideboard and you have an incredible bulwark against aggressive strategies.

Playing a bunch of dudes seems a little anti-comborific with Day of Judgment, a card that I’ve been increasingly less impressed by. Day is one of those cards that still hasn’t found the glory that it was had in its previous life as Wrath of God. It’s not old news that most decks are running threats that minimize the impact of DoJ — Bloodbraid, Thrinax, Bloodghast, Dauntless Escort — but now there are newer additions to that list, most notably Kalastria Highborn. I hesitate removing such a powerful card as there are times when it is the only card I can draw to win, but it really hasn’t been pulling its weight as of late and maybe more defensive minded creatures might do the trick.

I like the Snares that Kyle runs, but with multiple Howling Mine effects, I’m not sure if they’re needed. If I did opt to play them though, I’d probably run either a singleton Whiplash Trap or Permafrost trap to combat BBE shenanigans.

If I had to make a decision on playing this U/W deck tomorrow (which may or may not be the case), I would run the following list

Time Warp has been such an instrumental part of winning in most of my matches that running 3 felt wrong. Whether it be “surprising” my opponent by using Jace’s ultimate ability out of nowhere or simply draw a few extra cards and milling a few more times with Crab, the 4th Time Warp just felt like a stronger inclusion that the 4th Archive Trap. They both serve the same role of “I hope I draw X so I win” card, so I’m not too worried about the switch.

Tectonic Edge is a fine addition to the maindeck. I’m worried about opposing deck’s use of U2’s The Edge, but more importantly is how it can combat opposing manlands. Two feels like the number, and I don’t particularly want to color screw myself. Speaking of color screw, perhaps Terramoprhic Expanse deserves a spot in the deck in lieu of a fetch land or two.

Pithing Needle is one of those cards that can be very good to include in your sideboard for unknown decks. When a metagame is established you often know what sorts of decks to expect, but with an unknown field, there’s always the risk that you run up against a deck or card that you weren’t expecting. Whether it be Time Sieve or Quest for Ancient Secrets, there are a few notable cards that I know I want to be able to turn off, not to mention the myriad Planeswalkers and manlands running around about there. Celestial Purge is one of my concessions to Vampires. There are a few problem cards in that matchup the main contender being Bloodghast. It’s a little awkward every time you mill another reoccurring threat into their graveyard; however, with the new Perimeter Guard plan in place in lieu of Day of Judgment I’m slightly less fearful of it and Kalastria Highborn than I was prior. Relics are also there to take care of mystery “graveyard based decks” that tend to catch people unawares. I’ve actually played against a Crypt of Agadeem deck with this deck and it was one of the most aneurism-inducing matches of Magic that I’ve ever played; Hedron Crab is not a “may” effect. There are several other cards that I desperate want to include in the deck, specifically Safe Passage, but I’m unsure as to what I’d remove.

Those are my ruminations for now. I hope that people try the deck out if you haven’t played it yet.


Zach Jesse
Zoochz on MTGO
[email protected]