The Kitchen Table #149: The Casual Metagame #6

The saga of the Casual Framework continues as we explore individual Archetypes and peer more closely at their Subtypes. I even include some sample decks in order to illustrate the ideas that I am talking about…

Hello again. The saga of the Casual Framework continues as we explore individual

Archetypes and peer more closely at their Subtypes. I even include some sample decks in order

to illustrate the ideas that I am talking about.

This is the Magic Taxonomy class. In it, I have divided most Magic decks into five

Archetypes that are individually divided into additional Subtypes. In the previous four

articles, we’ve explored the first four Archetypes, which are all distinctive and their


Now, however, it’s time for the fifth Archetype, the Hybrid one. The Hybrid

Archetype includes all decks that combine two or more elements of the previous four

Archetypes. The problem with this Archetype is that the original article listed nine

Subtypes, and I have since added two more.

If I give the Hybrid Subtypes the same focus and dedication that I gave the other Subtypes

in previous Archetypes, then I’d have to break this article into several bits spread

over at least two weeks. Alternatively, I could skip the sample decks, or just link to sample

decks when I can. Last week’s article saw me link to a decklist once, and I could try

to do that here as well. Thirdly, I could just not explore these Subtypes with the detail

that I gave others.

So, how shall I write this article? There are several options and plenty of ways to do

it. As I write this, I have rejected the third option. These Subtypes will get just as much

detail as the previous ones. However, I have not decided on the first two options. What I

intend to do is to begin the article by writing out the detailed exploration of each Subtype

and then decide how to do the sample deck from there.

So, without further ado, allow me to present the modified section of the framework known

as the Hybrid Archetype:

Archetype #5 — Hybrid — Combines two or more Archetypes to create one


Aggro-Control Deck — Uses quick creatures and then removes threats until they

Temporal Deck — Uses time to cut off options
One Hit Wonder Deck — Uses a creature that can win in one hit and then tries to get

its hit in.
Bleeder Deck — Uses control methods as both a way to slow down opponents and also to

Permanent Refusal Deck — Uses permanents as an adjunct to a Resource Denial Strategy

to win.
Creatures as Removal Deck — Uses creatures to both remove threats and to be threats

of their own.
Slow Blow Deck — Uses creatures to attack and win while also slowing down the

opponent’s ability to respond.
Extreme Theme Deck — This deck is designed to be merely an uber-fun deck with little

chance of winning.
Card Advantage Deck — Uses card advantage to the max in order to bury opponent in

Sweep but Keep Deck — Uses creatures and sweeping kill cards that do not kill your

Matrix Deck — Uses a variety of synergies to create a matrix of interweaving


The Aggro-Control Deck (Combines NHBAggro with CTB)

The Aggro-Control deck is one of the scions of the Hybrid Archetype. Aggro-Control decks

have an established history of doing well in tournaments and in casual circles. Some of the

top competitions have been won by Aggro-Control decks. Some previous powerful Aggro-Control

decks have included some builds of Zoo, CounterSliver and PT Jank.

The Aggro-Control Subtype seeks to play out several creatures and then ride them to

victory by using various methods of control to clear a path and keep creatures off the board.

Therefore this deck combines the attack of a NHBAggro deck with the controlling nature of a

CTB deck.

There are several ways you can build this deck. One way is with actual removal, like

Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt and other forms of creature removal. This deck will

usually pack some very quick creatures backed by some very quick removal. It might have a few

backup plans like Cursed Scroll to assist after the primary plan is cut off by defensive

creature or sweeping removal. However, the primary plan is to play a few cheap creatures and

then swing for game in a few turns while continuing to clear a path. PT Jank was this type of


Another way to build this deck is to emphasize the countermagic. This deck will play some

quick creatures and then use countermagic and occasional bounce or removal spell to keep the

pathway clear until the creatures deal lethal damage. This deck can protect the creatures

more easily than the previous deck because countermagic can be used on removal just as easily

as creatures. CounterSliver was this type of deck.

Whichever way you build this Hybrid Subtype, the decks will have some similarities between

this Subtype and the Temporal Subtype, which you’ll see next.

Let’s take a look at a sample deck:

This is a version of the second type of Aggro-Control deck that uses countermagic to back

up the initial threat and allow those creatures to win the game on their own. You begin the

game by dropping creatures like Tidal Warrior, Lord, Manta Riders, River Merfolk or Looters

and then ride them to victory.

Tidal Warrior can make a land an Island, cutting off a critical color of mana from a

player for a few turns. It can also make a Maze of Ith or Kor Haven just another land,

allowing the attack to continue unabated. The Tidal Merfolk is best at making an Island so

all of the Islandwalking Merfolk led by a Lord of Atlantis can get a free hit in.

I love the underused River Merfolk. Not only do they get Islandwalk when a Lord is out,

but you can give them Mountainwalk as well. They are unblockable against a lot of decks.

They’re also a beefy merfolk with a two power.

The Looters and Lords are obvious choices for the deck and each adds something nice. The

Looters are a nice card to find immediate things with. When you need countermagic, more

beaters or land, use the Looter as much as possible. When your hand is happy, and you have a

Lord out, start swinging.

In countermagic, I included four copies of some of the best countermagic in the game.

Counterspell is a cheap hard counter, Mana Leak is a great early game counter, Dissipate is

good against many threats and Forbid can be bought back. These four counters make up the

quartet of good casual counters (Force of Will and Mana Drain are added to make a sextet when

you consider tournament Magic as well).

This deck is simple in design, but it helps to illustrate the Aggro-Control Subtype really

well because you can see how the two Archetypes interweave.

The Temporal Deck (Combines Resource Denial and NHBAggro)

This deck plays a few cheap creatures and then uses Resource Denial strategies to keep

opposing creatures off the board until said creatures deal lethal damage. This was a very

popular strategy years ago when decks used Winter Orb, Rising Waters, and Tangle Wire to slow

opponents down until victory was established.

Take for example, the Ponza deck that dropped something like Veteran Brawlers before using

Wastelands, Tangle Wires, Stone Rains, Pillages and Rishadan Ports to keep an opponent locked

long enough for the Brawlers or other creatures to win. This is a classic example of a

Temporal Deck.

This deck tries to win by initially using the NHBAggro element by using one or more

creatures in the early game to win. However, it uses a Resource Denial strategy to get those

creatures to successfully deal damage and win. Both elements are combined for the victory.

In my original article, I had placed this Subtype in the Resource Denial Archetype.

However, when reading the Archetype for the The Casual Metagame #4, I realized that this

really belonged in the Hybrid Subtype as a combination of NHBAggro and RD. Therefore, I

bumped this here.

There are some obvious similarities between the Temporal Subtype and the previous one, the

Aggro-Control Subtype. Both play cheap creatures and then try to give them a clear path. One

tries to control the board while the others seeks to dominate the board. This similarity can

lead to some crossover even between these two Subtypes.

Some versions of Blue Skies, for example, run cards like Tangle Wire or Rising Waters

alongside Spiketail Hatchling, Mana Leak and Foil all played after some cheap flying beaters

are played. This deck falls between both Subtypes and uses both CTB and RD elements combined

with the NHBAggro element. You just have to expect that this sort of thing will happen

sometimes in the Hybrid Archetype.

Here’s the sample decklist.

For illustrative purposes, I decided to show a different take on the same deck for the

first pair of Subtypes. They are both merfolk decks with the exact same twenty merfolk in

them. They both have Mana Leaks and Counterspells and a bunch of islands. However, the

presence of Winter Orb and Rising Waters in this deck orients it more towards the Temporal


As mentioned above, these two types can sometimes blend in tournament and casual decks.

This is another example. Resource Denial cards like the Orb and Waters meets Controlling the

Board cards like the countermagic meets the No-Holds-Barred Aggro with the creatures. Rar!

I’d classify this deck as closer to the Temporal Subtype than the Aggro-Control

Subtype or in the middle because the Winter Orb and Rising Waters dominate the deck by their

presence. A Stasis deck is a hardcore Resource Denial deck but it only has four Stasis in it.

Likewise, this may only have six RD cards in it, but the entire deck takes on that flavor as

a result.

Putting both decklists virtually side by side also allows me to examine myself as a

player. Which do I prefer? That tells me a little more about my own inner Magic player.

The One Hit Wonder Deck (Combines NHBAggro and CCM)

This Subtype wins by playing a creature that can hit in one swing, and then giving it a

way of hitting. The route of victory here is the creature, not a combo. Nevertheless, these

deck often use combinations to get the creature big or to give it some form of evasion.

The most popular versions of these decks have got to be Phage decks. Play Phage and then

give her shadow with Dauthi Embrace or unblockability with Whispersilk Cloak, and then send

her in for the kill. Once you’ve done this, you win easily. You can see the CCM

elements by giving Phage various tools to allow her to deal damage. The deck wins by having a

creature attack and deal damage, yet it uses a combination of cards to get it to that point.

There are tons of ways that you can built a One Hit Wonder deck. The most recent may be

Dark Depths and Aether Snap. There are tons more, from TraumatizeGuiltfeeder to Balancing

Act-Terravore to Sneak AttackSerra Avatar. The deck tries to maneuver a creature into a

position where it can win the game in one massive “Hulk Smash” moment.

The combo elements of this deck distinguish it from a normal big creature deck. Likewise,

the creature elements of this deck distinguish it from the Crazy Combo Man Archetype.

Therefore, you can find these decks in the Hybrid section of the Framework.

This deck tries to get enough mana to play Obliterate and Terravore and then swing for the

win with the Terravore. This deck is a lot better in multiplayer than duels. The combination

requires a lot of mana so it needs some defense.

The defense begins with Wall of Blossoms. Not only is this a cheap wall but it can also

draw a card that helps to find the combo pieces. It also has Llanowar Elves, which not only

make mana but also make the board look busy. Often cheap mana creatures are good, not just

because they make mana, but because they also allow a player to look like they are doing

something, thus making them a less viable target.

Incinerate and Demonfire are creature killers. The Demonfire can also double as a

finisher, especially with all of this mana lying around. Before you drop the Obliterate, feel

free to drop an Anger. Use it to chump block, attack with it mercilessly into a 7/7 Ivy

Elemental or just leave it as defense until you Obliterate.

You have mana acceleration with the Llanowar Elves, Grim Monoliths, and Gilded Lotus. You

key mana number is eleven. One Elf and Monolith give you four mana, so you would only need

seven lands in that case, which is easily achieved with your defense in multiplayer. Add

another Elf and you need six lands. Add another artifact instead and you need four lands.

Play Obliterate, which cannot be prevented by traditional countermagic (it can be delayed

by Ertai’s Meddling, which our group began to run in response to Obliterates, so watch

out). Add three extra mana to your mana pool, then drop the Terravore. If Anger is in your

graveyard, you can attack right now and probably kill a player.

You need to assess threats. The opponent with the fastest deck is a threat. Bounce is a

threat. A counter deck with no bounce spells except for Capsize will need three mana, so you

can leave them alone for a turn or two while you hammer the fast deck players, then hit and

kill the counter mage. Combo players are usually the worst hurt by an Obliterate, so leave

them until last.

Once you have played your Obliterate and dropped a Terravore, it will be difficult to

lose, but not impossible. Swords to Plowshares will take out the Vore all by itself. Still,

it can be a fun deck to play around with.

If you decide to play this deck, good luck with it!

The Bleeder Deck (Combines CTB and CCM)

This deck uses control and combo methods to both control the board and win the game

simultaneously. A classic example of such a card is Pillory of the Sleepless from Guildpact.

In fact, the Orzhov often play with a Bleeder strategy.

One old school example of this deck is to look at Shandalar. Outside of the recent Orzhov

decks, this Subtype hasn’t been played often recently. The computer game Shandalar

created a decks around old Fourth Edition cards. One deck was a Black Green Bleeder deck with

cards like Cursed Land and Wanderlust.

There are a few cards that truly combine the CTB and CCM abilities in just one card but

none does so as clearly as the Pillory. Other cards that fit this include Curse Artifact,

Agonizing Demise, Kaervek’s Purge, Backlash, and Mind Whip. This might suggest that

Black combined with White and/or Red would be the way to build a Bleeder Deck.

You can see the interaction between the control elements that shut things down and the

combo elements that kill the player. Sometimes you’ll need to add a card to the mix to

make things work. For example, Dingus Staff will zark the opponent for two damage every time

you off one of her creatures. This adds the CCM element to the CTB strategy,

As I mentioned before, this isn’t a commonly played combination of cards. In fact,

true Bleeder decks are fairly rare outside of the occasional Orzhov deck. Therefore there

aren’t a lot of strategies built around the combination of control and death from that

control. There is another Subtype, that we will review next, which is much more commonly used

to combine CCM with another Archetype.

This deck uses a variety of control mechanisms with bleeding effects to win the game. It

just packs eight creatures — four Agent of Masks and four Blind Hunters. These are not

enough to keep the opponent from burying you in an avalanche of creatures, so be prepared to

take some damage. Your removal, Fetters, Vindicate, Disenchant, and Pillory will need to be

relied upon to give you the time you need to establish control and win the game.

Don’t worry overmuch with the small creatures your opponent has. Faith’s

Fetters, Orzhova, Agents, Verdicts and Hunters will all assist in gaining life. You’ll

get enough life to survive the small stuff while you eliminate the big stuff. You can block

recklessly with the Blind Hunter if you have need because of the haunt provision.

You’ll note that the opponent will die quickly to all of your bleeding effects.

Between Curse Artifact, Cursed Land, Pillory, Orzhova, Agents and Hunters, your opponent will

quickly be plinked to death. The benefit you receive from all of this is obvious. Not only

are you establishing control, not only are you gaining life, but you are also winning


I tossed in Vindicate as an emergency mechanism. You can toss it at anything that needs

to be offed, although I expect that creatures will be your primary target by far. There are

some Disenchants for artifacts and enchantments. Curse Artifact will deal two damage a turn

to the owner of the enchanted artifact, but the owner of said artifact will usually choose to

sacrifice it. This is perfectly fine by you.

I threw in a set of Gerrard’s Verdicts. These are great early game discards and you

often get some life with them as well. Later they become nice ways of taking out good cards

or land, as players have a tendency to hold either land or really good cards in their hand.

Either is good for you as you gain life or see good cards go away. Note that, as an

emergency, you can Verdict yourself and discard lands to gain life.

I included twenty-six lands because this seems a bit more mana intensive than your normal

deck, especially with four and five drops of some importance, since they are your only

creatures. Orzhova can be activated with the extra mana when you have some, so feel free to

play lands when you get them.

I hope you enjoyed this trek through a Bleeder deck!

The Permanent Refusal Deck (Combines CCM and RD)

Permanent Refusal is focused on finding ways to adjunct a normal Resource Denial strategy

with combo elements to create a situation where the Resource Denial wins the game instead of

just stalling the game. By using combinations, this deck introduces CCM to the RD Archetype.

A classic example of this Archetype is the discard deck that plays Megrims as its winning

condition. Outside of few creatures for defense and discarding, it usually wins with just the

Megrims and may supplement the normal strategy with cards like Windfall, Memory Jar, Wheel and

Deal, or Wheel of Fortune.

There are a variety of was to build this deck depending on which resource the deck is

trying to deny. The example given above focuses on a discard strategy and looks at something

like Megrim. Another example would be supplementing a land destruction strategy with Dingus

Egg as the winning condition.

Other Resource Denial strategies also have supplemental Permanent Refusal Subtypes. A

library control strategy around Elemental Augury can include four Booby Traps as the winning

condition. As you can see, this Subtype is all about using various abilities and effects as

an adjunct to the normal Resource Denial strategy.

Here is the ubiquitous sample deck:

This deck resembles the Land Destruction Deck from the Resource Denial Framework because

it still uses LD. However, the addition of Ankh of Mishra and Dingus Egg to the deck turn it

into a Hybrid with Crazy Combo Man.

One of the keys of this deck are the elves. Play an Elf on the first turn and you can

drop one of your twelve three mana LD spells on the second turn with no problem. This speed

is very important in getting a jump on opposing players.

Drop an Egg or Ankh as soon as you can in order to maximize your damage from it. Your

opponent will take two to play a land and then another two when you pop the land. At some

point in time, they’ll just stop playing lands altogether. Once that happens, swing

with your elves or the pair of Silvoses provided.

Sixteen spells in this deck destroy a land, including twelve which cost three mana each

and Creeping Mold. The Mold will also take out annoying enchantments or artifact, especially

artifact mana.

There is also a pair of Ports to slow down the opposing player long enough for you to get

in control of the board. You can also use it to lock out a mana while you search for land


Don’t take too much damage from your own Ankh. Drop it when you can, but your eight

elves will suffice for the game. In fact, in retrospect, it might be a good idea to include a

discard outlet for the extra lands you might hold. I’d consider things like Scroll

Rack or something for the deck.

I hope that you enjoy this deck. More importantly, I hope that you see how this Subtype

is distinguished from a normal Resource Denial Archetype by adding the Crazy Combo Man element

to it.

The Creatures as Removal Deck (Combines NHBaggro and CTB)

Although this Subtype combines the same two Archetypes as the Aggro-Control Subtype

mentioned above, this Subtype uses creatures as control. Aggro-Control plays a few creatures

and then rides them to victory by clearing a path and stopping things that might kill them.

Creatures as Removal wins by using creatures as the controlling elements of the deck.

A perfect example of this deck is my Bear Beats deck. In this deck, virtually every card

is a creature or a land. The creatures include a large variety that kill other creatures,

deal damage, destroy artifacts, enchantments or lands, bounce creatures, recur cards or

creatures, and draw cards. The deck is designed around various creatures that each do

something important and controlling.

Although the individual elements of the Subtype fit a CTB strategy, with various

controlling methods, it is the creature oriented nature of the deck that introduces the

NHBAggro element to the mix.

A popular example of this Subtype are earlier version of RecSur built around a toolbox

engine with creatures that performed various functions, usually of a controlling nature, that

were tutored for and played as the situation needed. This deck performed admirably as an

NHBAggro deck by winning through the Red Zone. It also was a perfect CTB deck with various

controlling mechanisms built into the creature base.

After playing Bear Beats for a while, I can tell you that it can be a very powerful

combination. As you remove threats of various sizes, you accumulate a larger and large horde

until you burst through the remaining defenses and swarm for a win. It is a perfect

combination of the two Archetypes into one deck.

Let’s look at a smaller version of Bear Beats:

This deck is a simple deck with a large number of creatures that have abilities when they

come into play. Many of these will kill something, which is where the control element of the

deck comes from.

Take a look at Nekrataal. Playing this 2/1 first striking creature will off a non-Black

non-artifact threat of your choice. Not only is it a fair creature in combat but it is also a

solid removal spell. Another example is Flametongue Kavu. It deals four damage to a creature

while also having an impressively dangerous 4/2 body. The combination of damage and potential

has always made FTK a powerful tool. The Ghitu Slingers can also kill smaller creatures or

they can be used to deal damage straight to an opponent’s head. Either way, they have

serious uses.

There are other creatures that kill things. The Orangutan will off an offending artifact.

Avalanche Riders are not only hasted but will also destroy any land of your choice —

typically an opponent’s land is a good call. Thunderscape Battlemage can take out

enchantments while also stripping cards out of a hand. This makes for a powerful creature in

the deck.

Outside of this, we also have Gravediggers which recur one of these creatures from your

graveyard. There are usually a lot of good choices, so choose wisely. Solemn Simulacrum will

get you a land when he comes into play and a card when he leaves. This smoothes your mana

while also speeding up your deck.

After that, I included a few tricks. Erratic Portal is a great card with a lot of uses,

but one of its primary uses is to bounce your own creatures back to your hand so that you can

reuse them as needed. One Avalanche Riders usage is nice, but bouncing it and reusing it over

and over again? That’s just unfair. The same is true of creature removal, artifact

removal, enchantment removal and land grabbing from the other creatures. Erratic Portal plays

well with this deck.

Living Death is a solid adjunct to this deck. Once some of your creatures die, you can

bring them back en masse with a Living Death. One of my favorite plays in all of Magic is to

play a Living Death when I have a tons of creatures in my graveyard that have various effects

when they come into play from drawing cards, destroying permanents, and more. If you’ve

never done that, then you’ve never seen Shakespeare the way it was meant to be played.

I could write a whole article on the tricks you could pull with Portcullis….wait a

second… I did!

Remember that when you play a creature under Portcullis, it comes into play, triggering any

abilities. Then it gets removed from the game but comes back when the Portcullis leaves, so

you get a second set of comes into play abilities. Plus, when you have a Portcullis out, you

can dictate who will have creatures out. Play removal for an opposing creature, then play

your own creature so that you are the one with creatures and not your opponent. Check out the

above article for more crazy Portcullis ideas. Just don’t get Portcullised yourself.

There you have another deck demonstrating the ideas of a Subtype.

After some analysis, I’ve decided to split this article up. I feel that these decks

could really use a few sample decklists right in the body of the article. Therefore, I am

going back and adding decks to these six Subtypes. Of course, you already know that because I

will have already added the decks to the article by the time you read this. Next week

I’ll probably skip the normal Casual Metagame article for a Time Spiral article of some

sort or another. After that, I’ll pick up The Casual Metagame as some point in the next

few weeks for sure.

I hope you have enjoyed another trek through all things casual here on The Kitchen Table.

I always enjoy another jaunt into the realm of the casual, this time laying out a road map for

all to follow in the future. Catch you somewhere in that land where all possibilities lie.

Until Later,

Abe Sargent