The Guy That Invented Regionals Needs To Be Beaten Up: Part 1

And Rizzo might need a sock in the gut, too, after writing a FORTY-PAGE TOURNAMENT REPORT! With pictures. Strategy. And the usual Rizzian touch.

Yes, he does, very much so. Drilled in the dome. Kicked in the ‘nads. Repeatedly. Many times in a row.

“Kick ‘im in the grill, Pete.”
-M.C. Search

Well, maybe just flip him the bird while he’s not looking…

Hour after hour, day after day, week after friggin’ week, I, in conjunction with other wacky deckbuilders have tried to build a Good Deck for Regionals to very, very, very, very little or no avail. But, we did come up with a fairly good deck, and that’s worth something.

Oh, let’s define”good deck,” shall we? By my simpleton definition, a Good Deck beats Fires and Counter-Rebel, and up the flagpole with any and all others.

Many decks thought they were Good, beating the living snot out of Fires, which I no longer even think is a Good Deck (after having built tons of decks that just took it’s overplayed ass out behind the woodshed and learnt it some manners), but friggin’ white is another story entirely. Hey, let’s take Rebels, who are broken by their badself, and add some friggin’ counters. Great idea, chief.

The wisdom is that if you can’t beat Fires and Counter-Rebels, not only do you suck at life, but will get your ass sauteed and handed to you on the most expensive platter that the tournament organizer can find on short notice.

Know how to beat Fires? White. Know how to beat Counter-Rebels? Me neither. Beat upon Fires with hard-to-kill, Cloaked-up creatures, beat upon Counter-Rebels with any kind of creatures, but have fun recovering after a Wrath. Frustrating? Kinda.

A Cloaked-up Jhovall Queen laughs it’s ass off at Fires, but stops giggling like a schoolbitch after a Wrath. Ooh, in response to Wrath, I’ll put the Queen on the bottom of my library! Yeah, that’ll do it.

Me: Chew on that, Counter-Rebel nerd!

Counter-Rebel nerd: Consider it chewed upon. Now bury all creatures — and remember, creatures buried in this manner cannot be regenerated.

Wrath is fair.

JMS sent me a deck a while back that he figured would send Fires to the principal’s office for some extracurricular banging of erasers, and he was right. However, Counter-Rebel beat it like, um, something that gets beaten upon with a great degree of regularity.

I could make Fires my bitch. Actually, Fires became my girlfriend, but Counter-Rebels, a.k.a.”Counter-Nerd,” bent a brother over, cracked a whip, sang a chorus of”Rawhide,” and branded a big ol’ fat”L” on many of my tender parts.

But enough complaining; it’s like I have issues or something.

“All train compartments smell vaguely of [bad word]…it gets so you don’t mind it.”
-Al Pacino, Glengarry Glen Ross

“All tournament venues smell vaguely of [bad word]…it gets so you don’t mind it, but actually come to need it.”
-Me, Specifically For This Article

Yep. Stank. Stench. Funk. Grand Prix – Detroit had around seven or eight hundred people in a not-very-well-isolated room, and it eventually began to smell vaguely of [bad word]. The funny thing is that is was, um, like, comforting. Or something. Man, I have problems.

Oh, I missed reporting this from Detroit, and I even wrote it down directly from the horse’s mouth (Famous Amos Claiborne)…

Amos has a Kavu Chameleon in play, with a green mana open, when Scott Teamann casts a Hunting Drake, targeting the Chameleon. Amos, too slick to fall for that trap, immediately taps his green mana and says,”I’ll change his color to RED.” I think I remember hearing that Scott barely managed to not fall off his chair.

Now, back to paragraphs that have something to do with something. If you just want to go to the tourney report and look at all the pretty pictures, scroll down to the white space (just another value added feature compliments of this station), because the next ten (okay, it became like fifteen) or so pages could be really annoying if you’re not interested in the thought processes and tinkerings (regarding the deck that I played at Regionals and it’s juicy and/or sexy incarnations) of JMS, Aaron Forsythe, Scott Teamann, and some other friggin’ random.

On The Road To Regionals, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love White

Starring JMS, Aaron Forsythe, Scott Teamann, and a cast of thousands.

This is the mail that arrived in my inbox after an impassioned plea to beat Fires in one of my articles (But who remembers that far back? Not me.)…

3/21, from JMS

If I were playing in Regionals, I would bring the following deck. I might lose to other things, but I would *NOT* lose to Fires.

//NAME: T2 Waters
4x Birds of Paradise
4x River Boa
4x Thornscape Familiar
4x Thermal Glider
4x Pious Warrior
4x Charging Troll
2x Squallmonger
4x Wax/Wane
4x Armadillo Cloak
2x Revive
4x Brushland
4x Rishadan Port
9x Forest
7x Plains

Yeah, there’s some bad synergy with the Squallmonger and Birds/Gliders, but it still smashes the teeth of Fires. Wheeee.

Am I serious about this deck? Not really. But am I a little bitter? Maybe just a little. And do I always ask myself questions as a literary device? Sometimes, and I hate it.


[I was torn between thinking JMS was retarded or a genius.]

3/21, from me to JMS

Actually, it looks pretty damned good to me, despite your liberal use of white cards. And the Revives are probably going to be way too good vs. way too many decks. Cloaked Troll = Good times. And the Glider has been longing for me to use his ass for a few weeks now. Pious Warrior is hilarious – until you Cloak his ass up. Then it’s still hilarious, but a different guy is laughing now.

Thanks for sending me a heads up, and Imma go load this bad boy up and see what I can see.

-johnny curious

[And so, I did actually load said bad boy up into Apprentice. After a few semi-sexy goldfishes, I built the deck in the real world…]

3/22, from me to JMS

Doctor J to the M to the S,

One word: Story Circle.
Another word: Cho-Manno, Revolutionary
One sentence: Fires loses 80% game one to this (with changes asterisked):

A Doctor J Joint
3x Story Circle ***
4x Birds of Paradise
4x Thornscape Familiar
4x River Boa
3x Thermal Glider ***
4x Charging Troll
2x Cho-Manno, Revolutionary ***
4x Armadillo Cloak
4x Disenchant
3x Wax/Wane ***
10x Forest
7x Plains
4x Rishadan Port
4x Brushland

In ten games, with Fires going first, I only lost to the broken turn 5 kill, and only twice at that.

Pious Warrior’s ability is cute, but would you rather have him or three Story Circle and one Cho-Manno?

-Only Cloak regenerators. Ever! Unless, of course, you are very desperate.

-Cho Manno is unfair.

-Seven enchantment killers is sexy.

Thermal Glider isn’t really necessary, but he is nice to speed up the kill.

Story Circle is unfair.

-It’s impossible for Fires to kill a regenerator, even with Ports, unless you are a very, very, very bad player. Or if they have more than three ways to kill it in the same turn, which is unlikely in Sean McKeown version (which I’m using as the test Fires) : 4x Flametongue, 4x Assault, 2x Ghitu Fire – good luck with that!

-Bounce would probably kill this deck to death, but Fires sure doesn’t.

If they board in Hull Breach, that might make it closer, but Sterling Grove in the side might just be friggin’ hilarious. That may be a cool plan, and if turns out to be, I’d think that putting one (maybe two, but I doubt it) Seal of Cleansing maindeck would be even more funny. Hi, you boarded in four Hull Breach, but I now have thirteen enchantments that will just end you. Have a nice day.

– johnny beginning to understand why people like white

[Needless to say, I was kind of liking the utter sickeningness of beating Fires like a punk…]

3/23, from JMS to me

Frig to the dog-diggity Rizz,

I *really* like the changes, and I agree with them all. Taking out a Wax/Wane is something I never would have done, and yet four each of Disenchant and Wane was seeming like too many even in only four games.

Pious Warrior was definitely the weak link when scanning the decklist. Sad to see the lifegain go, but who needs lifegain when you have Story Circle? Then Idol becomes the primary threat, and you’ve got Disenchants, Trolls, Boas, and Cho-Manno for those.

I found Cloaking the Glider to be great too in early games against Fires. What are they going to do? They can chump with Birds only so many times, and that only saves them a point of damage.

> -Cho Manno is unfair

Wheee! I know he was great in God, but I hadn’t thought about him here. Is the double-white mana and/or the 4cc a problem at all?

> -Seven enchantment killers is sexy

Very sexy. If I were playing in Regionals, I would write one of the Deadly Sins on each one in silver ink for effect.

> –Thermal Glider isn’t really necessary, but he is nice to speed up the kill

And not removable by Fires. If you can stall on the ground with regenerators, then theoretically the Glider can go all the way. Against B/R, where all of the black removal was taken away in favor of Terminate and burn, a Glider meant game over.

It’s funny; with Story Circle in the deck, it really becomes a pseudo-control deck, with you holding back green mana for regenerators and white mana for Circle. I guess this was my idea from the very beginning, but somehow SC really highlights it.

> -It’s impossible for Fires to kill a regenerator, even with Ports, unless you are a very, very, very bad player.

What they *CAN* do, unfortunately, is cause the blockers to regenerate, tap, and then come over with their Burst tokens. Bastards. So they won’t kill it, but they can work around it. I hate that. Still, it drastically changes their play-style.

The Cloaks definitely come out vs. Bounce, as would Cho-Manno, probably. What do you think of siding in Blurred Mongoose? Then you have a bunch of 2cc 2/1s that are easily recast vs. a Wash Out. The other option is to side in something like Thornscape or Sunscape Battlemage, so if they bounce it they get hurt later on. Sunscape is particularly nice with the green kicker vs. Skies and Angels and makes Wash Out less effective.

I like Sterling Grove in the side, and I like having three Disenchants and a Seal of Cleansing maindeck just in case. Thank goodness it also lets you drop the number of Celestial Convergence (if you’re scared about Turbo-Chant at all) in the side, too.

After throwing out about fifty decks to Binary21 and losing to Fires except with the ones that had Armadillo Cloak maindeck, I decided screw creativity and let’s focus just on decks that beat Fires.


[Cloak is very friggin’ good in a deck like this, but I still think it’s overrated, dammit…]

3/24, from me to JMS

Jiggitty J (I bet you get that a lot from your Doctor peers, huh?),

Okay, the double white on Cho and Story Circle did get annoying, especially with all the friggin’ Ports that Fires always drew two of in their opening hand, so I tweaked the mana to 9 Plains, 8 Forest, 4 Brush, 4 Ports, and that seems to help. Also, I tweaked Fires a little and added two Two-Headeds, thinking that eventually people will remember just how amazing that guy is. Trampling Wurm = okay. Unblockable (usually) 6 + powered flyer = damn better. Plus, I wanted to see how the deck would handle it.

The answer is well, not great. Answer? I don’t have one yet, but here’s a few things I thought of…

If Dragon shows game one, Shackles is a possibility, although not a very good one, and adding two or three Voices of All to go with two or three Gliders ain’t gonna do it either; you do need two of those bad boys to block that bitch. I see Sunscape Battlemage as an okay answer, but that isn’t instant speed, which may be highly necessary in order to, um, not die! Exile could be about unfair, which of course, is what this deck is all about: Three in the side? In fact, I think that’s a pretty damned good option for many decks.

As for any black removal and blue bounce? Cho-Manno’s Blessing – even if it is double white, which makes the mana base game two even shakier with tons of double white – may be the answer. But I’m not sure.

Other sideboard options:

Crimson Acolyte -maybe?
Ivory Mask – Rage, big Fires
Kavu Chameleon – we know why.
Llanowar Knight – if there are any Scutas around without Terminates in the same deck, this might be nice, but…
Light of Day – might be better

I think the Sterling Grove/enchantment hoser side sounds pretty good. I also pulled one Glider for a maindecked Grove, and have been ecstatic every time I drew it. Maybe find room for one more in the maindeck? Quite simple: White’s enchantment hosers are among the game’s best, and getting them on demand is good times. A board with tutorable hate might look like this:

2 more Sterling Grove
3 Cho-Manno’s Blessing GOOD
1 Light of Day GOOD
1 Ivory Mask GOOD
1 Shackles MAYBE
1 Aura Shards KIND OF IFFY
1 Celestial Convergence COULD BE GOOD VS CHANT
1 Crackdown (oh my!) COULD BE GREAT
1 Lashknife Barrier MAYBE
1 Noble Purpose (oh my!) COULD BE RETARDED
1 Spiritual Focus WELL…

Too many cards!

Okay, some of those suck, but the idea of having”one of’s” in the side
and a way to get them appeals to me, especially when the opponent can do nothing but scoop in response. I’ll be trying out the side, but even if Fires boards in four Hull Breach (which is unlikely for now), they don’t have to like it. At all. Tranquility? Shhh, don’t tell anyone! Cause that would suck.

Well, back to the lab. After I take a few hours to, um, sleep, of course.

-johhny can’t believe he’s using white cards

[Yeah, the Grove-go-and-get-an-answer idea was starting to brew…]

3/24, from JMS to me

Heya Riz,

One thing I want to be careful of is tweaking the deck into some twisted monstrosity that is significantly worse than the original decklist. It happens to me all the time. So right now I’m going for the”keep the deck static and really get to know it” strategy. Here’s the deck I played last night…

//NAME: T2″Ice”
4x Birds of Paradise
4x River Boa
4x Thornscape Familiar
4x Charging Troll
3x Thermal Glider
2x Cho-Manno, Revolutionary
4x Armadillo Cloak
3x Wax/Wane
3x Disenchant
3x Story Circle
1x Seal of Cleansing
4x Brushland
4x Rishadan Port
8x Forest
9x Plains

Sideboard: 4 Blurred Mongoose
4x Sunscape Battlemage
3x Crusading Knight
3x Sterling Grove
1x Celestial Convergence

I really want to try it out in an online tourney, but one had started before I showed up. I ended up playing four games against Fires and two games against a G/R non-Fires speed deck, similar to Chabot’s but with Darigaaz’ Caldera for Tsabo’s Decree (weird, but true). So not much playtesting, but a bit.

The deck went 6-0, and none of the games were even close. My life totals at games’ end were 9, 18, 24, 7, 30, 29. That is night dominance, I would say.

Some observations:

– Clearly I noticed the mana weirdness, and changed the Plains/Forest ratio to the same as you. Great minds think alike or something.

Thornscape Familiars are great, because not only do they speed you up, but the fact that they speed you up scared my opponents enough to waste burn on them. That is a fine use of burn, in my opinion.

– You’re right; a Cloaked regenerator is just sick. There are a few tense turns when I only have one or two green open, but after that it gets silly.

Interestingly, the G/R deck sided in Thunderscape Battlemage to deal with Cloaks. (Oh, and it wasn’t a random deck as the guy had won a FNM tourney earlier with it) Good tech, but I wised up and pulled out a Sterling Grove.

– Speaking of the Groves, I *loved* them in the side. I don’t know
whether I want to drop the creature count for one maindeck, but the three in the side were golden.

– Cho-Manno = God.

– It occurs to me that Story Circle is the #1 defense against 2H Dragon, and you have more Circles than they have Dragons.

– The only thing I sided in all six games were the three Groves for one Familiar, one Disenchant, one Troll. Is this the right sideboarding? It makes sense to only side in those three, since the deck is basically designed to beat Fires.

– I’m still worried as all hell against U/W control, Turbo-Chant, and
Skies. Counter-Rebels is probably no picnic either.

BTW, check out Eric Ziegler’s winning deck on NGO. It’s a similar idea (Cloak-and-Win), and looking at the rest of the Top 8 it’s no wonder he won. I think Regionals is just going to be swamped with Fires everywhere, except a few weird pockets.

As you say, back to the lab…


[But the best ideas were yet to come…]

3/28, from me to JMS

Hola Jiggitty,

Okay, took the deck to CMU and beat the ever-living piss out of Fires, piloted by Forsythe no less, three straight until he just gave up and pulled out Counter Rebels… It wasn’t even close. The deck could do nothing but roll over and die, a lot.

Aaron suggested adding a little bit of a Rebel chain, and I think that’s a pretty good idea: fetching Cho-Manno and a Glider on demand seems like good times. The idea is to weaken the deck a little vs. Fires to add consistency vs. Rebels and everything else. Here’s the first version that I only goldfished a little at 3 a.m. last night with some success:

4x Boa (must stay)
3x Troll (so must he)
4x Disenchant
2x Sterling Grove (the tutor aspect has been amazing so far…)
2x Circle (lovin’ it)
2x Wave (could love it)
2x Cloak (our boy)
2x Eladamri’s Call (very iffy on this one)
1x Seal of Cleansing
*little engine that could, maybe*
4x Sergeant
2x Falcon
2x Lin Sivvi
1x Glider
1x Rebel Informer (he’ll either get sided out or not)
1x Lawbringer (very iffy)
1x Cho-Manno
1x Queen (insane)
10x Plains
7x Forest
4x Brushland
4x Port

The Lawbringer and Eladamri’s Call seem like they should be good, but I just don’t know. Somewhere, I think Blastoderms are begging to be used. The idea is still the same vs. Fires: Cloak up a Troll, Boa, Cho, or a Glider and go to town, but there is added consistency vs. Rebels. Skies, however, is — well, who knows? Also, I dropped the Birds, rather preferring a turn 1 Sarge – it doesn’t interrupt anything at all – there are a boatload of turn 2 drops that won’t interfere with the Rebel searching.

All in all, I think Aaron is right about the Rebels: once Sivvi hit the table I would just lose no matter what. The other idea would be to put in some removal. And Jhovall Queen is really, really, really good against even my best Cloaked Fattie (Troll).

Well, back to drawing stuff on my drawing board, but there is hope. A lot of it.

-johnny half-full

[The Rebel engine started to consume me, just like WotC intended…]

3/28, from JMS to me

On first guess, here’s what I would do intuitively:

4x Ramosian Sergeant
4x River Boa
3x Charging Troll
2x Defiant Falcon
1x Thermal Glider
1x Rebel Informer
1x Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero
1x Cho-Manno, Revolutionary
1x Jhovall Queen
4x Disenchant
4x Armadillo Cloak
4x Parallax Wave
2x Sterling Grove
2x Story Circle
1x Seal of Cleansing
10x Plains
7x Forest
4x Brushland
4x Rishadan Port

Wow, does that look like such a big pile of crap it’s amazing.

Some operating principles on which I’m running:

– Don’t screw around too much with tutors when you should be dropping Threats or Answers

– Don’t get too fancy with the rebel chain (I think I may have already violated this, but it’s your fault, dammit)

– Don’t drop the number of Cloaks below four

– Don’t get freaked out at how bizarre the deck is looking

Thinking I should send you deck ideas more often.


[It seems we were finding ourselves on the same page, until Aaron got all jiggy with the pro input from hell after watching it in action at CMU…]

3/28, from Aaron Forsythe to me

Okay, no more self-help. Talk about Magic.

3-Color Frickin’ Rebels
States 2000 Top 4, Eugene Harvey
3x Defiant Falcon
3x Disenchant
1x Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero
2x Nightwind Glider
3x Parallax Wave
2x Thermal Glider
3x Earthquake
3x Urza’s Rage
4x Birds of Paradise
3x Blastoderm
2x Llanowar Elves
4x River Boa
4x Chimeric Idol
4x Brushland
1x Elfhame Palace
5x Forest
4x Karplusan Forest
1x Mountain
7x Plains
1x Shivan Oasis

I put this here just to show a sort of”Rebel Splash” – Eugene had 3 Falcons, 4 Gliders, and 1 Sivvi. Plus an Informer in the board.

I guess you don’t need Sergeants after all… Obviously, your deck can’t be ALL rebels, or you’ll lose to maindeck Informer all the time. But you can have Cho-Momma, Falcons, Sivvi, Glider, maybe a Vanguard (is good vs Fires, y’know). Just thoughts.

The River Boas were/are very good vs. Counter-Rebel. Must counter or Wrath.

I’m not saying these changes will make you any better vs. Counter-Rebels. But it would seem to make the deck better overall.


3/28, from me to Aaron

Funny thing: last night, when I was adding Rebels, I thought about Eugene’s deck and how I could do sort of what he did. So, I did this:

4 Boa, 3 Troll, 4 Disenchant, 2 Sterling Grove, 2 Story Circle, 2 Wave, 2 Cloak, 2 Eladamri’s Call, 1 Seal, 4 Sergeant, 2 Falcon, 2 Lin, 1 Glider,1 Informer, 1 Lawbringer , 1 Cho-Manno, 1 Queen,
and some land and stuff

I only played about seven games vs. Fires so far with this build, but won four, so Fires got worse — but I bet it got better vs. Counter-Rebel.

Well, I dropped the Birds in favor of the Sergeants, thinking that I have a ton of two-drops that I can still play while getting to Falcon mana. And Vanguard might be very nice indeed.

I agree that the deck would no longer need to scoop to an active Sivvi, even though it’s still a bitch. I also thought about adding red for some removal, remembering how effective Eugene’s Earthquakes were. If red is added, the Birds need to come back and the fat will need to be cut. Still, I’m liking Rebels; now I have to figure out how to play them.

-johnny white mage

[By this time, I was hooked on the idea of Cloaked, regenerating uber-fatties backed up by a small but insanely effective Rebel chain…]

3/28, from Aaron to me

Whatever was”beating Fires” should probably be left alone – I think it was the Armadillo Cloaks (in addition to hard-to-kill dudes) personally. You still need this deck to beat Fires, like, all the time. You don’t need tons of Story Circles or Waves, but the Cloaks were the key. I’ll take your word for it that Sterling Grove is better than Enlightened Tutor.

Start with your original list, ditch the Familiars for Falcons, ditch 1 Cho-Manno for Lin-Sivvi. Cut stuff for 1 more Lin, 1 Queen, 1 Vanguard. Go from there.

Screw Parallax Wave.


[I guess he had a point, but the Wave, man! I’ve loved it since MBC, and while letting go is difficult, if you love something set it free and whatnot. And the Grove…no one likes it as much as I do…]

3/28, from me to Aaron

Grove sure seems to be better than Enlightened Tutor, especially since Hull Breach may see some play in addition to the multitude of Disenchants and whatnot, although Tranquility is kinda bad. I didn’t try Enlightened Tutor, so I’m not sure if it’s better or not, but I do know fetching with protection seems good. But I don’t know. I played the new version another five times vs. Fires and beat it four, so it still sounds good: Cloaked Queen is neato.

-johnny annoying white mage whore

[And yet he still wanted to streamline the deck…]

3/28, from Aaron to me

Play that for a while, and the only thing is maybe swap some of your seven Disenchanty things for Grove/Tutor. But only if you find that you have too many.

If the Birds end up sucking, swap them for other stuff too, but I think you should make changes at this point based on play results as opposed to blind theory.

This is a hard metagame to work in. But I think you want to get the deck to beat Fires like 80%, write that version down, then get it competitive with CounterRebels (maybe add Dust Bowls? ‘Geddons? Tough stuff indeed) and then write that down, and then make a hybrid you’re happy with, with the bulk of the important cut cards in the board. If you can’t get the deck to do that, scrap it.

Like I said, I’m glad I don’t have to play in Regionals.


[At this point, JMS went away on a speaking tour of the world or something, and Aaron finally realized that I suck at Magic, so Scott Teamann jumped up in here after seeing the deck in action a little, and figured he could make a few good suggestions for his new adopted deck…]

4/5, from Scott Teamann to me

I figure we have 36 non land cards. I figure these have to make both our decks:

4 boa
4 cloak
4 troll
3 circle
4 wax/wane

That’s nineteen cards. What else do you think must go in? Also, how much Ankh Tide do you think there will be? If we are going to play this we should work hard to find out which one is better. The problem with mine is we can’t have fun cards like Tsabo’s Decree & Cremate in the sideboard.


[He was thinking about going Bears with the Cloaked fatties, while he figured that it would be best if I stuck with the”answer” version…]

4/5, from me to Scott

These need to be in the deck with the Rebels:

4 Birds
4 Boa
4 Cloak
3-4 Troll

Which gives this as a starting point:

4 Birds
4 Boa
4 Troll
4 Cloak
4 Falcon
2 Sivvi
2 Glider
1 Cho-Manno
1 Vanguard
1 Queen
4 Disenchant
2 Wax/Wane

That’s 33 cards, which doesn’t leave much room to work. Story Circle can be so friggin’ good sometimes, two seems to work well (up to 35), and one Enlightened Tutor might be the final card. Still, Rebel Informer seems like a fair metagame call for maindeck.

There isn’t much room left if we stick with most of the build. As you saw, it does pretty friggin’ well vs. Fires, and it did even better against R/B (which I think may show up more than expected). It still loses to Counter Rebels, badly, and any other U/W control should kill it as well.

The idea of putting eight Bears in the side with four Geddons worked pretty good vs. Counter Rebel – I had four Steadfast, four Volunteers, but four Volunteers, four Blurred Mongoose might be better.

I don’t see a way to keep the strength vs. Fires and compete vs. Counter Rebel or U/W control maindeck. And I’d hate to lose every game one to U/W. Maybe Idols main?

It’s late and I’m running out of ideas to beat Counterspells, so it’s your turn, chief.

-johnny passing the turn

[He had a good idea of going with the Bears, since Counter-Rebel could just Wrath all it wanted, but Bears seem to multiply very quickly, and he finally put his foot down…]

4/5, from Scott to me

Here’s what I think we should do: I will build a w/g deck with the Bear Rebels. You keep your higher cast Rebels then we will test against other decks and see what is better. I would go 3 disenchant, 2 wax/wane + 1 enlightened tutor.

Heres my deck:

4 sergeant
4 guard
4 volunteers
4 boa
3 idol
4 troll
4 cloak
3 disenchant
2 wax/wane
1 tutor
3 circle
That’s 36 exactly. How’s that look?


[Well, it looked pretty fine for seriously quick beats, with or without a Cloak…]

4/5, from me to Scott

Allrighty, chief. Bears will be a lot quicker than fatties; how they do in the long game (and against Fires) we shall find out.

Your deck looks like it will be able to recover from a Wrath better than the fattie version, but it almost looks like it wants a fourth Idol. For the fattie version, I updated the sideboard to better deal with Wrath by adding four Idols. The rest of the board is up in the air.

-johnny wondering

[At this point, I was thinking that Bears might be a better idea vs. a majority of decks. On Tuesday, we dove into the testing at CMU…]

Eugene built Skies, and T-bag and I had our turns beating on it. We found that T-bag’s version put Skies under much more pressure (duh), but with mine searching up Flyers almost nonstop, Skies needed a Wash Out to win. And it needed more than one, since the Boas were busy Islandwalking that bad boy to death.

The end result is that Wash Out is the key card since both of our decks have too many must-counter spells, and certainly more worrisome spells than Skies has counters. We liked either version to go 60% game one.

Next, T-bag played his Bears vs. Fires. He quickly lost five games in
a row, with a couple losses being due to really bad mana, which is even worse when Fires gets even a very good draw.

My version still did very well against Fires — in fact, both versions did well if they could get an early enough regenerator out. If a Burst or Fires can get Disenchanted, then it all comes down to Fires killing either deck before the Cloak comes out. And Cloak does come out to play more than enough for Fires to sweat against either deck.

Note to self: Wouldn’t it be neat if there was a way to go and get Cloak that only cost one mana?

Since T-bag was disappointed with his deck’s performance against Fires, we played a little more. I managed to drop three Bursts on consecutive turns and still lose. Man, is Charging Troll good or what? And is he better with a Cloak? And is having each Burst dealt with by Wax/Wane, Disenchant, and Story Circle bad times?

We played about eight or nine games with T-bag’s deck coming out a game or three ahead. So, we have two decks that handle Fires well enough, and can handle Skies or at least go 50/50 or so.

But, T-bags weenie/fattie version made me realize that I needed some more bodies to throw once more into the breach, dear friends. Steadfast Guard and Fresh Volunteers joined the party, and the testing resumed anew.

One deck that we didn’t really test against was NetherHaups; that problem needed to be rectified. With the quick beats added, and the ability to drop many of them with short mana, they seemed a natural foil for Haups/Obliterate. Getting out Jhovall Queen, and to a lesser extent a Cloaked Troll, seemed like an impossibility, so it was to be Da’ Bears and Elfhame Sanctuary to save the day.

Since a Haups on turn four, or more likely, turn five, was almost an inevitability, I needed to get the beats in early, recover post-Haups, and beat more. That meant turn two, three, and four drops — but more importantly, it meant maintaining an aggressive front while holding a little back to make recovery a very good possibility.

Sixteen two-drops and four three-drops appeared to be enough pressure, while easing recovery (with the added bonus of five dudes flying over Nether Spirit’s melon).

In sticking to the aggressive yet cautious plan, I realized that it wouldn’t take too much effort to get the ball rolling and keep it on against a Haups-happy opponent.

4/12, from me to Scott

After seeing that the Bears could get wicked, I added eight Bears (and finally realized that BoP’s aren’t really worth it) and came up with this:

4x River Boa
3x Charging Troll
4x Defiant Falcon
4x Fresh Volunteers
4x Steadfast Guard
2x Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero
1x Thermal Glider
1x Defiant Vanguard
1x Cho-Manno, Revolutionary
1x Jhovall Queen
4x Armadillo Cloak
3x Wax/Wane ***this and the following 3 cards are probably in the
1x Seal of Cleansing ***wrong numbers, but I’m not sure, although
1x Story Circle ***everything else looks pretty solid to me
1x Enlightened Tutor
11x Plains
6x Forest
4x Brushland
4x Rishadan Port

It’s much faster, but still has my happy little answer-engine that I’ve grown to love so much. It should still beat Fires like a dog, and Counter-Rebels probably doesn’t have enough Wraths to handle all the dudes. One deck we need to worry about is Turbo-Haups. It is good, despite what you may think. However, both of our versions look capable of handling it fairly well, with all the weenies. I played a little against it, and one thing I noticed is that overextending is very, very bad. So those games we played on Tuesday that involved twenty dudes on the board are bad times.

Plus, Elfhame Sanctuary in the side (with at least one Tutor main and one or two more in the side) will probably be all that it takes to wreck them. I’ll be testing this version out and will tweak it for Tuesday.

-johnny not as rogue as nate

[I began to think that Bears/Answer Rebels/Tutor was the best of all worlds…]

4/12, from JMS to me

What are you thinking will be your sideboard? 4x Kavu Chameleon seems like a must. But then what? More Thermal Gliders? Nightwind Gliders (which are looking pretty good these days, given the slide over to black recently)? Exile? More Story Circles? More Seals of Cleansing? Ivory Mask? What, man, WHAT!?!?

You and Binary21 have me sitting on my virtual seat waiting for Regionals.


[But I think he was still pissed that I took the Pious Warriors out…]

4/12, from me to JMS


Side idears:
Idols (for anything with Wrath)
Rebel Informer
Elfhame Sanctuary (Haups)
Story Circle
Light of Day (maybe)
Ivory Mask
Kavu Chameleon
Aura Fracture
Sunscape Battlemage
Burst (oh so tech)
Primal Clay
etc, misc, et al

The side is so up in the air because the main keeps getting tweaked. Rest assured, when the deck is finalized, the side will be cool as hell, even though it’s mostly white.

-johnny weeks o’ tweaking

[Actually, the side is up in the air because I suck at sideboards…]

4/12, from Scott to me

I think Disenchant is better than Seal. Either way, you need this for Idols. After thinking a while I’m starting to think adding Sap Bursts would be good. Have to think more about this. Turbo-Haups = Port action all day. Also think about Armageddon for main deck.


[Can’t anyone stop giving me good ideas, just for a second…?]

4/12, from me to Scott

Disenchant is better than Seal, but I’m not sure what to move around to get two or so in the main. I also thought about Burst, but I never tried it. It sure seems like it would be good times though. Geddon main? With all the regenerators? Seems like bad synergy to me, but Geddon does have a tendency to just win games. I’ll do some more thinking/tweaking and get back to a brother.

-johnny tweaking slut

4/12, from Scott to me

Take the dumb seal out.

[I guess he doesn’t like the Seal much…]

4/12, from me to Scott

And replace it with ONE random Disenchant? Doesn’t sound that great to me. However, two Disenchants would be a little better, slick.
-johnny random

[At this point, I have no idea how to fit two Disenchants main, but it seems that four enchantment killaz isn’t quite enough, so let’s go to five, shall we…?]

4x River Boa
4x Defiant Falcon
2x Fresh Volunteers
2x Steadfast Guard
2x Lin Sivvi
2x Defiant Vanguard
1x Thermal Glider
3x Charging Troll
1x Cho-Manno
1x Jhovall Queen
1x Rebel Informer
1x Enlightened Tutor
3x Wax/Wane
2x Disenchant
4x Armadillo Cloak
2x Story Circle
11x Plains
6x Forest
4x Brushland
4x Rishadan Port


15x Utter Jank

Twelve two-drops might help to put the early pressure on (or friggin’ survive), and also make recovering from global annihilation somewhat realistic. The”answer” Rebels are still there; the hard-to-kill dudes are still there; the wussy cards like Cloak and Story Circle are still there; the maindeck Informer ensures that I don’t have to auto-scoop to Counter-Nerds; five Burst/Fires killas probably aren’t enough; and I still don’t know if this deck is any good. But I do know that I used way too many semicolons up there, and that’s Worth some Wollpert.

Number of non-land cards in JMS’ original deck: 35
Number of non-land cards in current deck: 35
Number of identical cards in both decks: 15

Say the following like Joey Lawrence:


Progress or no?

This is the deck that will make the last test mission to CMU four days before Regionals; if this is a pile, I am very, very screwed.