Note: I’ve heard rumors – disturbing rumors – that tell of a full break between me and Abe Sargent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever you’ve read in the forums, however I may feel about Abe Sargent as a person (or, as the case may be, a misanthropic monster), I have the utmost respect for him as a colleague and would never lower either of our dignities by resorting to the sort of mudslinging and sophomoric pranksterism alleged by Danny Rudolphus of Grover Cleveland Middle School just three days ago. Do not trust everything you read.
If you found my last article (it concerned Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker) awe-inspiring and insightful, you’re a fellow of low standards and should leave this website the way you came. If, however, you found the article “just fine” or (dare I say it) were amused by the photograph of Bob Dole, you’re just the kind of person to appreciate what I’ve assembled here. I have succeeded where so many failed before me. I have triumphed where others have gone “umph.” In short, I have assembled a number of vaguely playable decks that make use of that Fifth Dawn ne’er do well, Cosmic Larva. No less than Magic-guru Abe Sargent (who enjoys dressing up like loose Gypsy women and having his portrait done) begged me not to write this article. But I have my scruples! I will not be cowed by an authoritarian in fluttering, scarlet skirts (Abe Sargent again, at a Phish concert in 1999. Thanks for the pics, Mom!)!
Cosmic Larva is, to take a popular expression and run with it, like Door to Nothingness on legs; it takes some effort to make it work, but sometimes, it’ll just win you the game. I’m tempted to call the deck I’ve designed “Tinker” in honor of Abe Sargent, but fearing that this would just cause confusion, it shall be named:
Bachelor Party (Because it’s all about having a Fling)
3 Bloodshot Cyclops
4 Lesser Gargadon
4 Ogre Recluse
4 Cosmic Larva
3 Grafted Wargear
3 Hearth Kami
3 Lightning Greaves
3 Iron Myr
4 Aether Vial
I know, I know: At times like this, you really wish that Mountain Goat were Standard legal. Shockingly, despite this apparently unbearable loss, the deck can still pull off quick wins like it’s nobody’s business (“Which it isn’t, thank you very much,” said casual player extraordinaire, Abe Sargent, highly perturbed when caught in a cheap hotel room with someone who claimed to be his father.).
Considering Bachelor Party’s love for explosive starts, the lack of Chrome Mox might throw you off your dinner like Billy and the Boingers‘ Clearasil Messiah, but this (in common with so much else in the universe) is Cosmic Larva’s fault. Too often, you’ll find yourself feeling like an aristocrat in post-Revolution Russia: Abruptly landless. On the flip side, by giving up all that land, you’re allowing yourself the luxury of an early 7/6 Trampler.
(Incidentally, we later discovered that this man (center, between the musicians) is Abe Sargent genuine father.)
The trouble with Cosmic Larva is that once you get the darned thing in play, you want the game to end soon. Consider the following, hyper-realistic scenario:
Turn 1: Play Mountain and Aether Vial.
Turn 2: Put counter on Aether Vial. Play Mountain and Lightning Greaves.
Turn 3: Put counter on Aether Vial. Play Mountain. Vial-in Iron Myr. Equip Iron Myr with Lightning Greaves and tap Iron Myr for mana. Play Ogre Recluse. Equip Ogre Recluse with Lightning Greaves. Attack with Ogre Recluse (unblocked!).
Turn 4: Put counter on Aether Vial. Play Mountain. Vial-in Cosmic Larva. Equip Larva with Lightning Greaves. Attack with Ogre Recluse (unblocked!) and Cosmic Larva (unblocked!).
Turn 5: Choose your own adventure. Soulblast? Cyclops? Attack? You name it!
Admittedly, the deck’s creatures aren’t so great at attacking. Okk will often be unwilling to do his patriotic duty, Ogre Recluse will be tied-up with paperwork, and Lesser Gargadon will be fretting over the possibility of preventing his good friend, Bloodshot Cyclops, from ever joining the party.
Nonetheless, excluding Bloodshot Cyclops and Iron Myr (which hardly count as creatures here), the critters in the deck have an average casting cost of 3.2 and an average power of 4.7. That’s right, you can say it with me: “Great Caesar’s Ghost!”
But how were these cards chosen? Were they just randomly selected out of a Bad Rare Deck Challenge pile belonging to Abe Sargent (Seen here, being seditious. Far-right, back row.)? No, sir. Not on your sweet heinie. If you really want to know, here are the alternatives that neither made Bachelor Party nor the second deck listed below:
Vulshok War Boar
Bachelor Party doesn’t mind making sacrifices, so why not include this 5/5 for four mana? Problematically, it’s difficult to imagine what we’d ever be happy sacrificing to get this fellow into play. Considering that the deck cares more for Flinging than attacking, Ogre Recluse and Lesser Gargadon are almost certainly better choices, and there’s no need to load up on even more four-drops.
Viashino Sandstalker works wonderfully with Aether Vial (which you’ll often want to keep at three counters) and Grafted Wargear. If you expect much Control, you could choose this over Okk, and if you don’t expect many artifacts, this could fight with Drooling Ogre for Hearth Kami’s slot. It’s quite difficult to force oneself from removing Okk immediately, but the awful Goblin often permits the deck to Fling to victory a turn sooner than otherwise.
While we’re already supplied with numerous two-drops, it’s still an important position. On turn 3, whether or not you’ve played Lightning Greaves or Iron Myr, unless you’re holding Grafted Wargear, it’s a two-drop you’ll be playing. Nonetheless, the best Drooling Ogre could do is to replace another creature, and it’s only Hearth Kami that’s expendable. Happily, there’s a certain twisted logic in replacing Hearth Kami with Drooling Ogre because you’d never consider doing it if there were many artifacts in your local metagame.
Arc-Slogger is a difficult creature to cut, but it would also be a mistake to include it. Because its activated ability costs mana, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to use it the turn you play the Beast, and in the best case scenario, you’ll be tapping-out and sacrificing the Beast during the next turn. At four-power, Arc-Slogger won’t help Okk attack, and at five mana, it costs more than any non-Cyclopean creature in the deck. I’d rather play Viashino Sandstalker.
I haven’t had time to test this rather curious possibility. Its utility is small unless you’re aiming for a fast Soulblast win, but that’s not necessarily terrible.
Blazing Shoal can make good use of an extra Soulblast in hand (you’ll rarely need more than one). The effect is undeniably powerful; even if your only creature is an Ogre Recluse, and your opponent is at twenty life on turn 6, Blazing Shoal + Soulblast + Soulblast will get the job done. The question is, would the deck be better served by a creature which could actually permit Okk to attack every so often. In any case, if Blazing Shoal were to make the team, it would be at the expense of Grafted Wargear. The instant has more raw power, and it’s spectacular when it works, but I trust the equipment to win more games.
Obviously, Grafted Wargear is dangerous to run if there’s too much artifact removal floating around (though it needs to be said that both Aether Vial and Lightning Greaves make better targets so long as Grafted Wargear isn’t equipping anything). In this case, Bonesplitter is a possible alternative. Unfortunately, that one point less of power is significant; ten damage from Cosmic Larva is much, much better than nine. If I were to replace Grafted Wargear, it would probably be with Blazing Shoal.
Pyroclasm and Flamebreak
Both of these spells could be useful for Bachelor Party, but for the moment, let’s constrain ourselves to Flamebreak. There are, as has already been mentioned, a plethora of possible two-drops for the deck, yet Turn 3 plays are much rarer. More importantly, Flamebreak deals damage to players, so it can, to a degree, replace a Fling-able creature. If White Weenie is going to be common though, Pyroclasm looks like a better fit as it can take down flyers. Neither of these spells are perfect for the decklist given above, in part because, if you control an Iron Myr, you really don’t want to lose it to your own spell. The fact that (besides the Myr) your creatures are immune to these two mini-sweepers makes the spells extremely tempting; an alternative Bonus Decklist incorporating them is given at the bottom of this article. Have you ever noticed how Abe Sargent (after a rough day of Magic-related writing) doesn’t give nearly as many Bonus Decklists as I do?
Pyroclasm would almost always be better here.
Those spells which did make the deck but need some explaining will receive explanations momentarily:
Sometimes, Ogre Recluse will be able to attack less often than Okk. If, however, the metagame shapes up as it looks like it will (plenty of Aggro decks and Control decks that work at sorcery-speed), Ogre Recluse’s tapping clause shouldn’t be too huge of a liability. Certainly, Ogre Recluse is less of a liability than its nearest competitor (Vulshok War Boar), and even if it can’t attack, it can always be flung for five points of damage.
Four-power. Two mana. No soul.
Forget about the land sacrifices; if you play Cosmic Larva any time after you’ve hit five mana, and your opponent doesn’t have an immediate answer, you’re very likely to win. Sadly, the only way you’re ever going to sacrifice Cosmic Larva to Soulblast is with Aether Vial’s help.
Soulblast and Bloodshot Cyclops
Three of each is an uneasy balance. On the one hand, Soulblast is best able to win games immediately, without opponents having a chance to react. On the other hand, Bloodshot Cyclops lets you sacrifice only what you need to (just in case of life gain) and is better able to Fling Cosmic Larva. The Cyclops is much better with Lightning Greaves in play than without it. Also, Bloodshot Cyclops really puts Grafted Wargear over the top since the equipment suddenly counts as more than a single, pseudo-creature Fling sacrifice. Be careful with your Fling-effects though: For a deck like this, instant-speed life gain can be devastating, and an untimely Shining Shoal can turn Soulblast into an unfavorably one-sided Wrath of God.
Grafted Wargear might appear a bit odd but it is, in fact, a genius contribution to the deck. Cosmic Larva will be going to the graveyard soon in any case, and Grafted Wargear pumps Hearth Kami to a large enough size to allow for Okk attacks. Even without the equipment, all of your non-two-drop creatures are larger than those to be found in any Aggro deck at the moment.
This artifact was not in preliminary builds of Bachelor Party. Originally, I ran Wayfarer’s Bauble to feed Lesser Gargadon and Cosmic Larva and accelerate toward a Fling. This was a mistake. Cosmic Larva begs for Aether Vial’s assistance, and while Aether Vial doesn’t create too many surprise blockers in this deck, the ability to have surprise attackers even without Lightning Greaves is pleasantly decent (…Unlike Abe Sargent, famed Magic writer, who some call “pleasantly indecent.” Others, we’re happy to report, don’t call him at all.).
It’s easy enough to disregard Bachelor Party as utter trash without ever testing it, but although it might not be the greatest thing since sliced ham, its half-Aggro/half-Combo strategy has some charm against many of the new Standard’s possible decks. But let’s just say for a moment (just a moment, please) that you hate the deck. You really love the concept, but you think the execution resembles Bill the Cat as president: Flabby. In this case, take a gander at the following:
Home Cookin’ (Because it goldfishes faster than your mother)
4 Grab the Reins
3 Relentless Assault
4 Cosmic Larva
4 Eater of Days
3 Grafted Wargear
3 Blazing Shoal
2 Mass Hysteria
4 Lightning Greaves
4 Magma Jet
4 Aether Vial
2 Chrome Mox
Yep, Bachelor Party has been whittled down to its blazing, hysterical core. Eater of Days makes Cosmic Larva look like a Tony Blair, only without the weapons of mass destruction (Don’t let it bother you. The whole thing’s nonsensical.). The idea is to Vial-in Cosmic Larva or Eater of Days, give the creature Haste, attack, and either sacrifice the creature to Grab the Reins or play Relentless Assault and attack again. Blazing Shoal and Grafted Wargear are around to make sure that the damage is lethal, and Magma Jet can help dig for the combo pieces or get in those last few points of damage. This deck goldfishes wonderfully but has the massive, insurmountable flaw of falling apart completely if you don’t have Aether Vial on Turn 1. Ouch. It was a nice try though. For now, I’d stick with our good, old-fashioned Bachelor Party.
If you’ve been reading carefully, you’ll know that there’s a bonus decklist here at the bottom of the article. Note: It isn’t as powerful as the original model.
Bonus Decklist: Bigger Red
3 Grab the Reins
3 Bloodshot Cyclops
4 Lesser Gargadon
4 Ogre Recluse
4 Cosmic Larva
2 Grafted Wargear
3 Lightning Greaves
P.S.: I hope my loyal fans will excuse my finally breaking down and putting cheesecake in a couple of my hyperlinks. It’s all Abe Sargent fault.