The Kitchen Table #210 – Winning Peasant Decks

Read Abe Sargent every Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
In a change from the advertized schedule, Abe Sargent brings us his own brand of Casual Magic a day early this week! He looks at the Top 4 decks from the recent Paris Peasant Magic tournament, and shares a few ideas of his own…

I wish a good Wednesday to you all!

On Monday, my laptop computer went down and is being sent for repair. The next five or so articles for this column were on that laptop, and thus I had to write a brand new article for this week in a single day.

The tough part is that I have no idea what to write. I poured all of my thoughts and ideas into six articles or so in the past two weeks, building a stockpile of articles so that I can focus on life-things (like writing a novel or interviewing for jobs) without interfering with my weeklies for you.

It is not easy to come up with topics week in and week out for the casual scene. For competitive writers, you can just talk about the latest tech or deck ideas or recent tournaments. I have no such harbor for casual articles.

Thus, I have to come up with a good idea for an article, and then research it and write it, all in a few hours, since my deadline is on Tuesday. The most difficult part is coming up with the idea. So… um…

You know what I haven’t done in a while? Peasant Magic! You know what I have never done? A competitive tournament article, like the ones I mention above.

Put your hands together for Paris Peasant!

Did you just ask what Peasant Magic is? Often referred to affectionately as Pez, this is a different Magic format that allows only 5 uncommons in your 75 cards between deck and sideboard… and the rest must be commons. As the result of an old article I wrote on Peasant, I was offered a space on their new (at the time) Ruling Council, based in part on the Five Color one. I hitched up and agreed to join, and have been a happy member ever since. We did massage a few cards and ban a few cards, like Library of Alexandria.

I love Peasant Magic, so why not take this opportunity to highlight some Pez decks?

Every so often in Paris a major Peasant tournament is held. What I want to do is give you some decklists for the Pez. I’ll give you the Top 4 at the event. That way you can get an idea of what the format is like, while also seeing some of the best decks and ideas.

This tournament was held back in September.

Alright, let’s take a look at the decks, starting with the winner:

RB Aggro Burn
Jean-François Prevot

9 Mountain
9 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Carnophage
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Fallen Askari
4 Dauthi Horror
4 Mogg Flunkies
3 Keldon Marauders
4 Erg Raiders
4 Hypnotic Specter (U)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Incinerate

3 Coffin Purge
3 Last Gasp
3 Terminate
3 Flaring Pain
3 Fury Charm

This deck only runs the four Specters and doesn’t even try to fit in a fifth uncommon. You have the typical Black Aggro section of the deck, featuring cards like Dauthi Horror and Erg Raiders. Then you have your typical burn suite.

Note the lack of disruption. There is no Duress main deck, which you might have seen back when High Tide decks were winning Pez tournaments. (To be fair, this tournament did ban a handful of cards to see how it went, such as Skullclamp, Tendrils of Agony, and Sol Ring).

Red adds a few beaters like Mogg Flunkies, and then tosses the burn out there. One thing that I find remarkable is the lack of Dark Ritual in the deck. It does not plan to accelerate into Hypnotic Specter, one of the classic openings of all time. Instead, it uses the Specters as a backup damage source and disruption for the mid game.

The sideboard throws in a lot more creature removal, in case eight Bolts and Mogg Fanatics are not enough. You might find value in Chain Lightning over Incinerate, I don’t know. Flaring Pain is a brilliant sideboard card to prevent Circle of Protection: Red or Black from winning the game for your opponent.

All told, this is a really solid deck, and I hope you can see why it won. There are no Hymns to Tourach, no Duresses, no Dark Rituals. Instead, the deck is about playing aggressive men and turning them sideways while using the most efficient burn made to clear a path or finish a player off.

Congratulations to Jean-François Prevot for his deck and his victory.

Now we move to the second-place deck

Christophe Deslandes

3 Island
2 Forest
2 Mountain
2 Lonely Sandbar
3 Tranquil Thicket
3 Forgotten Cave
2 Izzet Boilerworks
2 Gruul Turf
4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Maze of Ith
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Werebear
2 Wonder (U)
4 Chromatic Sphere
3 Chromatic Star
4 Mental Note
4 Mulch
3 Deep Analysis
3 Pyroclasm (U)
3 Swirling Sandstorm

4 Ancient Grudge
4 Ray of Revelation
4 Brainstorm
3 Tormod’s Crypt

Swirling Sandstorm is a card that I mention and use in my first Peasant Magic article from years ago, and I’m happy to see it getting use here.

This is a fun deck, and I ‘m sure that you can see it has a lot of interesting things going on. It some ways, it plays like Threshold decks. You’ll note the Werebear of beatingness is included alongside Wild Mongrel.

You have cards like Wonder, Deep Analysis, and Swirling Sandstorm that either like to be in the graveyard or want other cards there. Yet this is no mere U/G Madness deck. There are no Basking Rootwallas here.

Instead, this deck tries to get to threshold quickly, dumping cards and drawing more with great speed. Then it uses Pyroclasm or Swirling Sandstorm as a virtual Wrath of God to sweep the board and win with a Werebear or Mongrel.

Note that the Sandstorm only hits non-flyers for five, and with a Wonder in the yard, your own creatures are immune to the damage, while Mongrel and Werebear can both survive a Pyroclasm. This is why you don’t see Rootwalla.

This deck can play a little like Threshold, but it’s really its own creature. You’ll note the obvious presence of a quartet of Maze of Ith. Maze is historically bad at smoothing your mana, causing opening hands to be worse than they otherwise would be during the old mulligan rule. These days, you can Paris out of a one- or no-land hand, thus giving the Maze a bit more power, although it still slows your mana development. It is a great tool for the right deck, and this is the perfect deck.

The Maze of Ith taunts your opponent, and forces them to play multiple creatures to get around it, and then you punish them with sweeping removal. Once you have cleared the board, you still have your Maze out that your opponent still must deal with. This deck doesn’t want Lightning Bolts and Incinerates for removal… instead, it wants people to play out their creatures, walking right into a Wrath effect.

Mulch is a key card in here, which makes me happy since you see it so rarely these days. Mulch will put a bunch of cards in the yard, thus helping out threshold. In fact, Wizards once mentioned that they were considering reprinting Mulch and Song of Blood in Odyssey Block but they were too good at getting you to threshold.

Mulch also draws you land, and you have three colors so it can smooth out your mana base, which is very important when going up against fast decks like the winner above. Then, best of all, Mulch also will get you Mazes of Ith, which are obviously a key card in the format.

This is a smart deck, and I really like it a lot. It has become my main Pez deck in online play.

Now let’s move to the other two decks in the Top 4:

Gael Cortes Miranda

7 Mountain
9 Forest
3 Terramorphic Expanse
3 Pouncing Jaguar
4 Kird Ape
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Skyshroud Ridgeback
4 Wild Mongrel
1 Keldon Marauders
3 Horned Kavu
3 Simian Spirit Guide
3 Blastoderm
4 Rancor
2 Giant Growth
2 Brute Force
4 Lightning Bolt

4 Hidden Spider
2 Hidden Guerrillas (U)
3 Moment’s Peace
2 Naturalize
1 Silhana Ledgewalker
3 Ancient Grudge

At first, this deck bears a lot of similarities to the first one. Let’s be frank, Red likes being played with the fastest creatures ever, and you will find those creatures even in common slots in several colors.

However, while this deck looks like the winner at first, it plays differently.

You’ll note that this deck’s one-drops may require echo or have fading. Even Kird Ape requires a Mountain and Forest in the opening hand, while Basking Rootwalla wants mana to be anything more than an interesting Mons’s Goblin Raiders. Therefore, Green’s early drops don’t have the savage power of cards like Carnophage.

You’ll also note that there are several follow up creatures that may not have the same power either. In the winning deck you had eight 3/3 creatures for two mana. Here you have Mongrel, which is a natural Grizzly Bear, or a 3/4 that requires you to lose tempo by bouncing a creature. (And the solitary Keldon Marauders.)

This deck is also missing the eight slots dedicated to Lightning Bolt and Incinerate, and instead just runs four Bolts.

Since this deck does not go for the absolute early kill, it doesn’t sacrifice the middle game. With cards like Rancor, Basking Rootwalla, and the Giant Growths, this deck intends to win later, but better. The Red/Black deck has no answer to a Blastoderm, while the second place deck can at least Swirling Sandstorm.

The winner put everything in speed. This deck sacrifices true speed for early pounders that are also problems for the winner. For example, a pure attacker for Green is Jungle Lion. This deck isn’t running the Lion. Instead, Skyshroud Ridgeback will still swing for the same damage early, but will also provide a major obstacle to Carnophage, requiring an immediate Bolt to answer it.

This deck desires to overpower the quick weenie decks while still having the advantage of being a quick weenie deck against non-weenies. Giant Growth and Brute Force are both pump spells and help against Bolts.

Obviously, the idea didn’t take Gael Cortes Miranda all the way to the finals, but a berth in the Top 4 was probably alright.

Here’s the final deck in the Top 4, and for the record, you are going to see this deck channel Abe, making whoever built this deck one of my favorite deck builders. Ready for the excitement?

Boros Blink
Jean Mary Accart

7 Mountain
7 Plains
3 Island
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Icatian Javelineers
4 Whitemane Lion
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Goblin Legionnaire
4 Ghitu Slinger
2 Ninja of the Deep Hours
3 Flametongue Kavu (U)
4 Chromatic Star
4 Momentary Blink
2 Swords to Plowshares (U)

4 Teroh’s Faithful
4 Martyr of Ashes
3 Monk Realist
4 Keldon Vandals

I love this deck! It’s not something I’ve been playing much, because I wanted to get some play with Pyromaze’s different style of deck, but this is something I’m sure I would find very comfortable.

The goal of this deck is to use and reuse creatures with various 187 effects to establish card advantage and dominance at the table. From there, it’s a simple enough task to win the game.

The deck has many ways of reusing the 187 creatures. The classic way is Momentary Blink, and you will note that the deck does play Blue, so it can flashback the Blink to get two uses. The Blink has numerous and long documented uses in Magic games, and this just abuses one of them.

Then you have one of my favorites, Ninja of the Deep Hours. Not only will it Ninjitsu a creature back to your hand to reuse, but it will also draw you a card, thus continuing your card advantage.

Whitemane Lion fits perfectly in here. It will save a creature or allow you to use a comes-into-play ability, and it has its own comes-into-play ability which is great with a card like Momentary Blink. Suppose you have a Blink in the yard, and Ninja of the Deep Hours and Whitemane Lion in play. If the Ninja gets targeted with removal, you could flashback a Blink to save the creature. However, you could also Blink the Lion, then use the Lion to return the Ninja, giving you the ability to Ninjitsu again. Merely Blinking the Ninja doesn’t give you that option.

With those great engine cards, the deck then slides into some fun 187 creatures. My favorite is Ghitu Slinger, a card I have lauded many times over the years in this column. The Slinger is amazing. Play it and kill something, then bounce or Blink it and repeat.

The deck uses Flametongue Kavu as for three of its five uncommon slots, giving you a great beater and a great removal card in one. I’m sure many games were won with a Kavu getting played and replayed.

In the sideboard, you have Keldon Vandals for artifacts and Monk Realist for enchantments, giving you powerful answers for any deck that tries to use either. You also have Teroh’s Faithful in order to gain a bunch of life.

After that, you have Icatian Javelineers. A new group of players have been introduced to this White Tim because it was Timeshifted. Tap them once to kill a creature or hit a player, and feel free to bounce them in order to reload.

The Keldon Marauders are a brilliant addition, because they give you beef in the early game to match other beef getting played by aggro decks. Then you can bounce or Blink them in order to really take your opponent’s life total down.

Mogg Fanatic and Goblin Legionnaire are traditional R/W creatures that can be problems or answers. That versatility slides in perfectly alongside other cards.

Note that this deck has a real damage dealing theme, so the cards play well with each other. The Javelineers can deal one, the Fanatic can deal one, the Legionnaire two, the Ghitu Slinger two, and the FTK does four. For larger creatures, your removal effects tag team the better creatures.

Now, being familiar with this sort of deck, which looks a lot like someone wanted to make Equinaut into a Pez deck, allow me to make two deck building comments.

If I were to build this deck, I’d pull the Legionnaire and Marauders for Temple Acolytes and either Man-o’-War or Stingscourger as playtesting suggested. Temple Acolyte is a brilliant two-drop that can effectively block a lot of two-power creatures in this environment. It also gives you a three life bump, and it works marvelously with all of this Blink and bounce stuff running around.

Man-o’-War could serve as emergency bounce when needed for you, but would be great tempo against your opponent, especially when combined with Momentary Blink. Post-Lorwyn, this deck might benefit from Mulldrifter.

Still, I can’t fault a deck that made it to the Top 4. Congrats to Jean Mary Accart for piloting Equinaut-lite!

As I supposed, these articles aren’t that bad to write. Just grab some decklists from a tournament, and then write them up and present them. Simple!

I love Peasant Magic, and if you have never given it a try, why not build a few decks right now? I’m sure that you will learn to absolutely love it!

I’ll see you folks next week, when hopefully, my computer is back from HP and I can resume my normal slate of articles. Catch you in the forums!

Until later,

Abe Sargent