Hola! Welcome to the column that scratches your casual itch. Have a seat and grab some cards.
Before I begin, a short mini-rant. I now feel old, and let me tell you why.
I have 15 RAs on my staff, from ages 19-23. And not a single one – not one – knows of Jon Secada. This is my problem.
I call this the Jon Secada Principle. Take someone who was popular while you were in high school. Just then, not before or since. Now, ask people if they know who that artist is. My contemporaries know who JS was. 1992-1994, JS won a Grammy, had 7 top 40 hits, and was a regular on radio, but afterwards, faded. No one is going to say that Jon Secada was this transforming artist or anything, but I liked him.
I was singing “Just Another Day” the other day, and my staff were giving me a hard time. My response is that you don’t make fun of a man who sings Secada, it’s against the rules. “Secada who?” Then I began to ask, and no one knew who he was. Jon Secada does not exist to them.
These people were born in 1988, 1989, and 1990. They just missed the Secada. Now I am having a Jon Secada moment. Do you remember the Secada? I hope so. He was awesome.
Anyway, I really liked my Bad Rare article from 299, I think things worked out well, so I felt like doing it again. Let’s see what I got!
I grab my box o’ bad rares and go get one, and we’ll see what we’ll see.
I started with Primitive Etchings, and I knew that I only wanted creatures in the deck besides either Sensei’s Divining Top or Sylvan Library and the Etchings itself. I rocked the Library because I’m playing Green anyway.
Since the deck featured a card drawing theme anyway, I really pushed it with Masked Admirers, Fa’adiyah Seer, Primordial Sage, and Heartwood Storyteller. Between these and the Etchings, you should be drawing cards massively. Since you are drawing so much, I felt using mana regularly for a Top would not make sense.
With so many creatures, Heartwood Storyteller feels natural here. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever put one in a deck.
Use the Fa’adiyah Seer to draw a land, and then you have creatures left to trigger the Etchings. With so much card drawing, your deck should really shine.
Two cards I wanted to play, Primordial Sage and Masked Admirers from my recent #300 article, totally fit the deck. You have got to love the card drawing synergy of drawing the Admirers, so you draw a card from the Etchings, playing them, and drawing a card off the Sage, then drawing a third when they enter play.
I made my creatures to all of the heavy lifting, so you have beaters, medium creatures, early drops, and, of course, creatures that do things. Sakura-Tribe Elder will shuffle your deck as well as getting you an extra and into play, plus it triggers Etchings and Sages. Indrik Stomphowler can take out an opposing artifact or enchantment. I used them over Acidic Ooze because they are beefier, and I wanted some bigger creatures, but you could totally play the Ooze instead if you wanted to get the LD too.
I like Kodama of the North Tree, but there often isn’t occasion to use it, but here, it made perfect sense as a cheap beater in a Mono-Green deck where its shroud doesn’t get in the way of equipment and Rancor. This is the perfect deck for it, and Silvos is always a welcome sight on your side of the board.
Finally, we have a tiny amount of burn in the pair of Triskelions. They are a bit mana heavy, but the deck needed just a bit of removal and burn, so I added them. I think the flesh it out quite nicely.
Anyway, the deck looks pretty good, so enjoy!
What is the next card?
The problem with Political Trickery is not the card itself. It’s fine. The problem is Annex. Ideally, I want to find a deck idea that Political Trickery is good in, but actually better than the four mana Annex. Normally, you’d rather just steal a land than swap it. Under what conditions would you actually want to swap a land?
Basically, I can come up with one thing. In Ice Age, there were two lands – Halls of Mist and Glacial Chasm – that had nasty cumulative upkeeps but great abilities. What if you played them, used them for a while, then traded them for an opponent’s land? Now, that works. That is a deck concept. Let’s do it.
Here is how you win — Get Glacial Chasm to a good level, then swap it with your Trickery. Once you have done that, Mindslaver your opponent as many times as it takes to get their life total to 4 or below, then Psionic Blast them.
You can use Fog Bank, Drift of Phantasms, Halls of Mist and Glacial Chasm itself to keep you alive long enough to go off. In the meantime, you can set up with a transmute off Tolaria West and Drift of Phantasms, or by finding cards with Tidings.
Drift of Phantasms will transmute for Political Trickery, Psionic Blast or Staff of Domination. Use the Staff to gain some life, tap a creature down or draw some cards, but ideally, to gain a bunch of life.
You want to use Mindslaver, then slap it on top of your library with Academy Ruins and go again. Make sure you steal lands that make 2+ mana when you can, like Karoo lands and such. You can also get back a dead Staff of Domination from the yard by an Academy Ruins.
It requires 13 mana to play Mindslaver, sac it, and put it back on your library. Use your cards to help delay the game long enough to get that mana, but you can win without it, especially if you have a couple of Psi Blasts saved up.
Remember that Psi Blast can be used as emergency removal if you need it. You also have four counters for emergencies, but perhaps that would be better as Grim Monoliths or something to help you get to two or three Mindslaver activations before the mana is all spent. Get a Chasm to 6 and take over two turns in a row and you deal 14, and a Psi Blast can easily finish a player if still alive from there.
Often, simply using a Mindslaver against someone is enough for the kill. If you have to, use Mindslaver as a Fog to keep your opponent attacking for a turn and blow through some cards. Use your resources. Between Halls of Mist, Glacial Chasm, Mindslaver, Fog Bank, Drift of Phantasms, and Staff of Domination tapping something down, plus Psi Blast as removal, it should be hard to get through for 20 damage to kill you.
Okay, what is the next card?
Since I used Sneak Attack in Bad Rares IX, let’s do it again here!
Man, Hoverguard Sweepers is clamoring for Sneak Attack. Sneak it out, bounce an opposing creature AND bounce the Sweepers back to your hand. Repeat for R each time, and bounce every creature back. Then Sneak Attack with everything in your hand, and then Sneak out your Sweepers and bounce everything back. Nasty. It fills the old role held by Wizard Mentor, but can also bounce opposing creatures too.
Actually, Denizen of the Deep would be good for that. Sneak it out, and it will bounce back all of your previously Snuck creatures in one go. Then you Sneak out the Sweepers, bounce both back, and you are good. However, it does not work well with one of my creatures, so no go.
Let’s look at what I included.
Godsire rocks. Sneak it out for R. Swing with its 8/8 vigilance self for 8 damage, then tap it for an 8/8 token of death. Then Sneak out a Sweeper and bounce both back, leaving an 8/8 in play permanently. Fun.
Kuro, Pitlord wants to kill off creatures, if you prefer to kill instead of bounce. It’s also a 9/9 flyer trampler, so there is some good here.
Darksteel Colossus is a beater of choice. You could also go overkill and rock Serra Avatar, but I’d prefer to reduce the number of creatures that cannot be played without a Sneak Attack out to as few a possible where applicable.
The deck rocks Lightning Bolt for some emergency kill, Mages’ Contest for some emergency protection, and Shunt for more protection. Say no if someone tries to Naturalize your Sneak Attack by sending it elsewhere. If you don’t have another target, Sneak out Darksteel Colossus first, then Shunt the Naturalize to it.
Gamble gets you Sneak Attack; that’s its only purpose in the deck. Play it on turn 1 if you have it and no Sneak. It can also be used to get the right creature later, if you want to try. If you have a Gravedigger in hand and a Sneak out, then Gamble will get you any creature. If you discard it, Sneak out the Digger. If you discard the Digger or something else, you have what you wanted.
And the next?
So let’s use Null Profusion to fuel a fun little storm deck designed to play cards from the hand, and then draw a bunch of cards off the Profusion. If you stall by hitting a bunch of lands, you can use Wheel of Fortune or Yawgmoth’s Bargain to restart, or discard them to Seismic Assault to deal that last damage.
It’s not a good deck. There are not many ways to kill creatures that attack you, or stop your opponent from interfering with your plans, or overcoming an Ivory Mask or anything like that. It’s the kind of deck you play a few times, then put back in your deck box and don’t bring out again for a while.
Anyway, what is the last card for today?
Binding You with Science
Everybody knows about Spellbinder and Savage Beating. Equip a creature that can’t be blocked, hit someone, cause Savage Beating to resolve, and then untap and you get a new combat step. Rise and repeat until player is dead. With something unblockable, like a Covert Operative, you can take out a whole multiplayer table in one turn.
I don’t want to use a combo everybody knows about. What else can I abuse?
Searing Wind — Take 10! Every time I hit with a creature, take 10 damage! That’s pretty nice.
Inferno — Everything takes 6! Seems really good if attached to a Pro Red creature.
Soul Spike — Something takes 4, and I gain four too. Very calm, not as broken.
Betrayal of Flesh — You can either destroy any creature OR bring a creature back from the yard to play. Both seem powerful.
Beacon of Immortality — Ouch.
Opportunity — 4 cards please.
I swear, I use “Pro Red” Red creatures so often, for thousands of different decks, that they should all be bronzed. Anyway, here is yet another use. Drop a Spellbinder and imprint Inferno. Equip on a Pro Red creature and Wave of Indifference to ensure you a hit. Inferno goes off and clears much of the board, but not your guys. Now you can hit each turn with your guy, and get an Inferno trigger too.
Your deck wants to burn your way through opponents and creatures. Don’t be afraid to use burn liberally in the early game to keep you alive, because it’s all replaceable.
And that brings us to the end of another Bad Rares article. I hoped you enjoyed yourself!