The Kitchen Table #234 – Your Shadowmoor Decks

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Thursday, May 22nd – Hello folks, and welcome to the column that explores the casual. I am your miner, Abe Sargent, digging for precious nuggets of casual Magic goodness. Last week I offered all of you kind folks an opportunity to send in some decks built using at least one Shadowmoor card. With such an easy task, how many entries did I get?

Hello folks, and welcome to the column that explores the casual. I am your miner, Abe Sargent, digging for precious nuggets of casual Magic goodness. Last week I offered all of you kind folks an opportunity to send in some decks built using at least one Shadowmoor card. With such an easy task, how many entries did I get?

I got about as many as I always do in my deck contests. Since the first two were much harder contests, I suspected that this time I might receive more entries, but that was not the case.

A quick aside before we head into the decks. I wrote this article on Monday, just a few days ago, but most of my articles are written well ahead of time. Next week‘s article, for example, was written about six weeks ago.

I will be traveling to West Virginia for the Vandalia Gathering on Thursday, and then spending some time around my home state, before heading back to Ann Arbor. As a result, I will not be available either this week or next to respond to column posts. Don’t worry, I will read them upon my return, but that will be significantly after publication, so I won’t respond, just read them. I mention that now because I tend to respond to about 85% of column posts that respond to my articles (a statistic I pulled out of air, but you get the idea), so I wanted you to know up front what was going on.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the decks you designed.

Honorable Mentions

To begin, here are two decks that I liked, but they were flawed in one or more ways. All of these deck builders get some love from me, because there is some good stuff here.

Token Transfer
Steve Smithers
Test deck on 05-25-2008

This deck wants to roll with some solid creatures, and then use removal to clear a path. It has a lot of creature removal, from Shriekmaw to the Fate Transfer, Corrupt, Terror, and Consume Spirit.

Steve included four walls to hide behind. In case the first plan does not work, it’s obvious that straight damage to the dome is his backup plan. He wants to drop a Grief Tyrant on the sixth turn, or fourth turn using a Dark Ritual. He then wants to Fate Transfer the tokens, killing an opposing creature, and swing with his 8/8 Grief Tyrant.

It’s not a bad plan, and it certainly looks like fun. Night’s Whisper helps him to draw cards, which should give him enough juice to find Grief Tyrants and Fate Transfers.

You can tell this is not a deck I’d build. I’d pull the Wall of Bone for the cheaper and more reliable Wil-o’the-wisp, or even Fog of Gnats. I’d want card drawing that can go deeper than Night’s Whisper, since that is the only card draw in the deck. Finally, I’d pull Terror for Rend Flesh, which can hit Black creatures and is worth the extra mana as a result.

One weakness of the deck I would not help is the small amount of creatures. The deck only has three different creatures, even if he is running a full set of each. However, that is not the automatic weakness it may first appear as in a more casual environment, which this deck is obviously oriented towards. This deck would not disappoint in multiplayer due to a lack of creatures.

Fate Transfer only works with four cards in the deck, so I’d look for other ways to use it, or reduce the number. Also, I’m not a fan of Dark Ritual in these sorts of decks. Pulling those could find you space for even more removal, such as Nevinyrral’s Disk. Still, the deck is not bad as is, and you could shuffle and play immediately.

Good luck to you if you do.

Okay… take a look at this Haakon deck for a while. Let it sink in.

Alright, now let’s take a closer look…

The deck uses Haakon to play Knights from the graveyard. Remember that Haakon has to get played from your ‘Yard, not from your hand. How do you set this up?

The first option is a Buried Alive. Grab Haakon, Anger, and perhaps another Knight. Now play Haakon from your yard, and the engine is in place.

Another way is to play Mercenary Knight as soon as you can, and then discard Haakon when he comes into play. This Portal Knight gives you a 4/4 body for three mana, and acts like a Hidden Horror only easier to cast (2B as opposed to 1BB), more expensive, and he is a knight for your deck’s theme.

The third way you can get Haakon into your yard is through an activation of Rix Maadi. Make everyone discard, and there goes Haakon. Then play Haakon, and again, your engine is in place.

As a reminder, in case you had forgotten, once Haakon is in play you can play and replay Nameless Inversion, because it is a knight due to being a changeling. Therefore, you can kill a lot of opposing creatures.

The deck also has a lot of knights in it. Black Knights, Knight of Stromgald, Kulrath Knight, Stromgald Crusaders, Ashenmoor Liege, and the aforementioned Mercenary Knight. All of these bring certain things to the table. Some are cheap two-drops that are very efficient packages with which to fight. Others are larger and bring useful abilities. Kulrath Knight flies and can take down annoying creatures with its pseudo-Pacifism ability. Ashenmoor Liege is a lord for all of your creatures, and it double pumps the Kulrath Knight.

Because you have Anger in your graveyard off Buried Alive, Mercenary Knight, or Rix Maadi, as long as you control a Mountain, say, through controlling a Badlands, all of you guys have haste. That’s good stuff.

This seems like a fun deck, so why didn’t it chart higher in my list? There is a problem. Note the presence of Oblivion Ring, which might be a good way to shore up any weaknesses in the deck by taking out enchantments or artifacts or even pro-Black creatures. However, note also the lack of any White mana in the deck whatsoever. I thought at first there was a trick. Perhaps you discarded it and brought it back somehow, but there are no tricks. The Oblivion Ring is unplayable.

This is a new one on me. I’ve never had a submission with an unplayable card before, so I’m not sure what to do. I decided to drop Andrew‘s deck to this section, and pretend like it doesn’t have the Rings in my write-up.

The Runner Up

I liked this deck a lot, and it was the only submission to feature a deck that did not have a Black component. That’s odd. I don’t know what it is about Shadowmoor that makes everyone want to play Black, but according to this contest, you all wanted it. The irony of this deck is that it is playing both of Black’s enemy colors. The only deck to not run Black runs both of its foes.

Let’s take a look at my second-favorite deck.

Craig’s deck is pretty straightforward, as Green-White is wont to be. For the record, G/W is my least favorite color combination in the game of Magic. It’s boring and blah, but this deck uses some decent tricks to keep it coming. I love Fleetfoot Panther, and Craig uses it perfectly here. It gets double pumped by both Tolsimir and Wilt-Leaf Liege, giving it tremendous sticking power. It also can save creatures from targeted removal, ambush an attacker, allow you to reset the persist on Kitchen Finks by bouncing them back to your hand, and save a creature that has blocked and is about to die. Kitchen Finks, Watchwolf, and Seedcradle Witch all also get double pumped.

The deck has a smooth mana curve, with eight one-drops, six two-drops, eight three-drops, four four-drops, and two six-drops. Add cheap removal and card drawing to the mix, and you have a good deck.

Mother of Runes joins Fleetfoot Panther as good protection for the team, while Seedcradle Witch can pump a creature, thus saving it from combat damage or burn. The results are a solid defensive component to your aggressive deck.

Kitchen Finks are a solid beater, and gain you some life. Persist allows you to play recklessly with them if you so choose, knowing that they will come back later.

Seal of Primordium gives you a nice two-drop for when you don’t have a Watchwolf in your hand. It’s a pretty solid backup, in case your opponent draws an enchantment or artifact that would severely hamper your plans, such as dropping Teferi‘s Moat set to Green. You only have two in the deck, so use only in case of emergencies.

Swords to Plowshares can open a hole or keep back a powerful attacker. Of the first three decks, this is the only one that can handle Akroma or Darksteel Colossus (although the Knight Deck could run Oblivion Ring if it had White mana). Handling the best that can get thrown at you is a sign of forethought and casual play experience.

Harmonize is your lone card draw spell, but as a four-of I like it better than most other options for these two colors. It allows you to refill your grip in order to keep up the pressure, and all aggro decks want to keep up the pressure. This would be a fine deck in duels but strong in multiplayer as well, which is always a good test of strength.

I like the deck, but it doesn’t wow me, if that makes sense. In fact, it seems like a deck I’d build very easily, using a lot of cards I respect and give homage to in my articles, such as Fleetfoot Panther. Still, I think Craig as a pretty good deck here.

The Winner

This is the deck that won, and it’s pretty complex… so get ready.

The engine that makes this deck work is River Kelpie, so let’s take a look at what it does. Whenever a spell is played from the graveyard, and River Kelpie is in play, you draw a card. Whenever River Kelpie, or another permanent comes into play from the graveyard, you draw a card. Plus the Kelpie has persist. Sneaky, eh?

Kai has built this deck crammed with graveyard tricks to enable the River Kelpie. When he wants to run card drawing as an adjunct to River Kelpie, what does he toss in? Deep Analysis and Think Twice with their flashback.

When Kai wants to run removal, he puts in Chainer’s Edict, which also has the flashback.

He has a quartet of Myr Servitor, which will bring back each other to play during your upkeep, and that will draw you cards. In order to get Servitors, he is running three Trinket Mages, and since he is running Trinket Magi anyway, he might as well toss in a single copy of Engineered Explosives.

In order to sacrifice Myr Servitors, he is running a full set of Diabolic Intent, a cheap Demonic Tutor that requires you to off a creature. You can sacrifice a River Kelpie (with persist, it comes back a little smaller and you draw a card) or a Trinket Mage that has already gotten you a Myr Servitor, if you don’t have the Servitor. Tutoring this deck is very, very good.

Mask of the Mimic is a rarely-used card from Stronghold that is very good, and I wish we would see it more often. Ideally, you want to sacrifice a creature (like a Servitor) to search your library for a copy of target creature and put it into play. Want another Servitor? Kelpie? Puppeteer Clique? Trinket Mage? They all have value, and you can use Mask of the Mimic to tutor for your best cards in any situation.

The deck also has a Grinding Station, so you can sacrifice Myr Servitors too. Remember that when all of the Servitors come back during your upkeep, there are several untap triggers on the stack for the Grinding Station, so sac them all then and you can plow through nine opposing cards every upkeep if you have one Servitor in play and three in the ‘Yard. (You would also draw three extra cards for each Kelpie in play).

You can also sac Myr Servitors to the lone Phyrexian Tower for two Black mana, as long as you have something to do with it.

Puppeteer Clique can draw you a card when it comes into play, because you draw a card from River Kelpie even if you return an opposing creature to play from a graveyard. It can yield you three cards total, as long as you have a River Kelpie out – the two for reanimation and the one for coming back off persist.

Words of Wind is a kill mechanism. You can bounce all opposing permanents and then swing with Kelpies, Trinket Magi, Cliques, or even Servitors for the win. You can also use Grinding Station to slowly and inexorably kill, and you have eight artifacts lands as emergency sacs to the Station when needed.

Solitary Confinement can keep you alive, and as you can see, this deck draws so many cards that the discard and draw step skip are payable.

Note the deck has one Academy Ruins and one Volrath’s Stronghold for you to keep the pressure up.

Congratulations to Kai, Craig, Andrew, and Steve for their decks, and a thank you from me to each person who submitted a deck for today’s contest.

Remember, I am on vacation this and next week, so I can talk to you kind folks in a two weeks, but I’ll still read your forum posts, make no mistake about that.

Until later!

Abe Sargent