The Kitchen Table #305 – Underused Decks

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Wednesday, September 30th – I’ve spent a lot of time, and a lot of effort, and a lot of pages writing five articles where I place what I consider the most criminally underplayed cards in casual circles into an Underused Hall of Fame. Today, I’m going to take some of those cards, and I’m going to build decks that use them.

Hello folks and welcome back to that column about the casual land. Today, I want to put my money were my mouth is, so to speak. I’ve spent a lot of time, and a lot of effort, and a lot of pages writing five articles where I place what I consider the most criminally underplayed cards in casual circles into an Underused Hall of Fame. Today, I’m going to take some of those cards, and I’m going to build decks that use them.

In my deck articles, I generally prefer to just head into the decks, and leave the long intros to other writers. Unless something is bothering me, like last week’s Jon Secada Principle, I generally just let it fly.

This deck uses two cards from my Underused hall of Fame — Goblin Bombardment and Homura, Human Ascendant. You can definitely tell if it is one of my decks by the profuse use of GBB in it (Goblin Bombardment). Homura is a classic underused card — it’s broken, but you have to use it right.

The decks wants to play creatures, and with Goblin Bombardment and Kyren Negotiations, it wants to use those creatures as agents of pain. Then, once you have some threats down, you want to drop Homura, tap him for a damage with the Negotiations, and then sacrifice him to GBB (Or the Rusalka) and then flip him into BROKEN ENCHANTMENT OF DOOM. Suddenly your creatures are huge, flying, and firebreathing.

Now, Exuberant Firestoker will start dealing damage. Now, you have a 4/3 mountainwalking flying firebreathing kitty cat. Now, Kamahl hits for 8 a turn in the air before firebreathing commences. Now, Rakka Mar taps to make 5/3 flying and firebreathing tokens of destruction. Now, Flametongue Kavu not only killed a creature when it entered the battlefield, but it also gives you a flying and firebreathing creature of Craw Wurm proportions. Even Scorched Rusalka is no pushover anymore.

After dealing some damage with Kamahl, Rusalkas, Negotiations and Bombardments, draw some cards with your Browbeat to keep yourself loaded. If they Lava Axe themselves to keep you from drawing cards, that is a good thing, because with your damage dealing capability, and your backup Fireballs, you might be able to make them pay for ruining your plans by ending their life.

The two Kher Keeps do conflict with all of the firebreathing this deck wants to do. However, they make a lot of creatures that are great for Goblin Bombardment, Kyren Negotiations, Scorched Rusalka, and of course, Homura.

Other cards that might work include Goblin Flotilla with its islandwalk or protection creatures like Mountain Yeti or Blood Knight. I’m sure you can think of other ideas.

Homura really is grand, because it can turn your entire team into threats. Even Kobold tokens become 2/3 flyers with firebreathing. Everything gets a Shiv’s Embrace, and that is really strong. Enjoy it.

Abe’s Big Zoo

During my Beyond Dominia days a long time ago, I was a big player and advocate of Vintage. I loved it as my pet format. I still have a soft spot for it. Anyway, I build a deck called big zoo, because the goal was to use the acceleration in the format to slap down a creature big enough to end the game quickly, and then ride them to victory. Instead of dropping Savannah Lions and Jackal Pups, I dropped creatures that were bigger.

And I would win sometimes. I won games and matches against fellow bdominia folks, including some distance in a Tournament of Champions or somesuch (I forget its name, it was a looooong time ago).

Anyway, I don’t normally build the sort of deck you are about to see, but it harkens back to a younger day of mine, and I guarantee not to use any card that I don’t personally own. Plus, this is a really fun Vintage deck, as opposed to some overthinking Vintage decks where you have to spend a minute pondering if you should counter a Brainstorm or not. Here we go.

This is a modern version of my older decks, but I didn’t want to make it too much better, with modern tech added or anything, I decide d to leave it as is, but made a few natural additions like Esperzoa, Plague Sliver, and Moroii.

Now, before you give me too much of a hard time for putting a deck like this in my casual column, allow me to remind you that not every casual player is the same. I have online decks and articles, but many do not play them. I have articles about Five Color and Prismatic where decks are 250 or 300 cards, and not everybody is man enough build big decks (just kidding). Why not have the rare, but occasional deck for people with lots of cards? I have every card in that deck, because I’ve been playing for a ton of years, and I used to play in Vintage tournaments on a weekly basis, so I acquired the cards. In my playgroup alone, Aaron has a Library of Alexandria, but I don’t think anybody else approaches power. Still, there are casual players out there that could build this deck. Just because they have big expensive cards does not mean they aren’t any more or less casual than the player who just started and has just put 20 dollars into her entire collection.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look around. I have a lot of artifact acceleration. The goal is to drop some, then drop a creature or two, and then ride that creature to victory.

Serendib Efreet has been in every version of this deck ever. It flies, so it swings over a Moat. It hits for a lot of damage. It is Bolt-proof. You love it. Sea Drake also flies, but it is not Bolt proof, and I only have one, so I added two Moroii, which would be Sea Drake’s if I could. They have the Serendib Efreet disadvantage, but they are also flyers and Bolt Proof. Finally, I added Esperzoa which is an obvious inclusion. Bounce Mana Crypt or Mana Vault and it’s an advantage, not a disadvantage. Bounce a Mox or Lotus and you can easily replay it. It’s an artifact flyer, so it is both Abyss and Moat proof. It is Bolt-able, but nothing is perfect. You great a great body for a cheap price that dodges Abysses so it’s ideal in that regard.

The deck wants to draw cards because it wants to keep up the pressure. Wheel of Fortune, Windfall, Memory Jar, Ancestral Recall, Fact or Fiction, and Timetwister all give you more cards to keep on trucking. You can also use Demonic Tutor, Imperial Seal, Mystical Tutor or Vampiric Tutor to get you one of these precious cards, and Tinker will get you Memory Jar.

Except for Balance and Wheel of Fortune, this is a two color deck, and Red and White are just splashes. This deck can totally take that splash.

Yawgmoth’s Will is broken even here. Replay Time Walk, Ancestral, a tutor, a creature, Lotus, etc. I love to set up a Will by Tinkering a 0 mana artifact, getting a Jar, popping it that turn, getting a bunch of cards in my yard, and then next turn Yawg’s Will with Jar, Artifact, and Tinker in the yard, plus whatever was discarded from the Jar, and everything else from the game so far.

Time Walk is great, and you might even want to play Time warp because it’s so good.

Anyway, this is the kind of Vintage deck that won’t make you feel dirty. Want to know why? Because it’s fair. I make a 4/3, 5/5, 3/4 or 4/4 early, and then swing with it for a few turns, but a one mana answer like Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile or other options will end the threat. I could just Dark Ritual out a Hidden Horror and swing with it, and that would be fair, right? So this is fair too. Just because it uses pretty cards doesn’t make it uber-death-powerful.

Alright, next deck.

Say hello to my Meishin, the Mind Cage Deck. The goal of this deck is to power out an earlier Meishin through Academy Rector, then defend it and ride it to victory.

You want to play an Academy Rector on the fourth turn. Perhaps you’ll get an opportunity to block, and then go get Meishin. Otherwise, use Claws of Gix or Miren to sacrifice the Rector for the requisite Meishin. Don’t sacrifice the Rector until you have to. If you play it, and do not get attacked, then untap and play Claws of Gix, and sit there until you have to sacrifice it because you are attacked, the Rector is targeted with a Swords to Plowshares, a Naturalize comes the Claws way, or it’s the end of your opponent’s turn and you want to get the Meishin into play so you can move on.

Once the Meishin is in play, you want to protect it, so I included 8 counters. There are three routes to victory once the Meishin is down. One is Disenchanting the Meishin, and you want to counter those. Second is by mass discard like a Mind Sludge or Mind Shatter. Thirdly, you can be outflanked by certain decks, like those that try to build up and play a giant Fireball or combo you out, and your counters are good at stopping those.

Your win conditions are few. You can tap a Suq’ata Firewalker or an Aladdin’s Ring for damage. Later in the game you should have a ton of mana and the ring becomes a powerful clock. I added the Horn of Greed so that whenever you play a land you draw a card, preventing you from being forced to choose between cards in hand to fuel Meishin and more mana. It will work on your opponent too, so beware.

You also are rocking Fact or Fiction and Dream Cache. One is pure card drawing, and the other puts Meishin back on the bottom of your library for Rectoring. Note that rectors are useless once you have a Meishin in play, but you might want to play a second. That way, if the first is dealt with, you can immediately sacrifice the Rector for the second Meishin. I wanted Meishin back in your library permanently, not temporarily like Brainstorm does.

I ran Dismiss so that you could draw a card off it and keep going.

Well, let’s do another.

Want to know what Scapeshift works really well with? Landfall. You can sacrifice all of your lands, get the exact same ones back, and trigger landfall a bunch of times. Scapeshift will even get you better lands, since it can retrieve any land from your deck.

This deck wants to Scapeshift in the mid-game and grab as many Cloudposts or Vesuvas of Cloudposts that you can get. Then you can make enough mana to start X spelling people to death.

Lightning Bolt and your X Spells can be played early as creature control. You can also either play Assault/Battery as creature control, or a creature, whichever you have need. Wall of Blossoms can draw you a card and give you needed time to set up your deck. Garruk Wildspeaker can make beasts or accelerate your mana, whichever you need.

However, one of the combo-tastic cards included here is Rampaging Baloths. Just Play them, and later when you Scapeshift, you can make like 5 or 6 4/4 creatures. Then you can win with mana or beaters. Harmonize is your ubiquitous card drawing spell for Green decks that need more card drawing.

A lot of the tools here are interchangeable. Banefire is expensive, but run another X spell if you prefer. Garruk is expensive, but run more landfall cards, more set-up, or whatever. It’s not essential.

One little trick built into the deck is the Gruul Turf. In the early game, you might want to Vesuva mana, like a Highland Weald or Shivan Oasis in order to play your cards. Just bounce it with a Gruul Turf later and replay it once you draw a Cloudpost.

Five Cloudpost/Vesuvas out will make 25 mana. Then just spend a Red and kill people. If you manage to get all eight out, that’s an incredible 64 mana, so rar!

Anyway, that brings us to the close of yet another article. I hope that you found something in here enjoyable and worth following up on. We’ll see you next week.

Until Later…

Abe Sargent