Welcome to a late-2009 edition of the Kitchen Table. As we close a year and a decade, it is time to reflect on Magic of the past. Last year around this time, I wrote on article about rediscovering older cards. For that article, I introduced a few cards that may have been lost to time, and a built a few decks around them.
Today I want to do the same thing. I want to bring out a few older cards, dust them off, and give them another day in the sun. Let’s take a look and try to find some cards that will help us out.
Since I grabbed some unusual cards from Ice Age for the first article, let’s do that again for the second. Ice Age has long been a secret set to many. Most Magic players didn’t play then; they did not get a chance to play with the Ice Age cards, so there are many hidden gems. For those players who did play it, there were few card lists and spoilers, so you just played what you and your friends opened, so there were a lot of cards that most of the Ice Age players may have only seen a few times, if at all. That makes it one of the best places to find treasure. I’ve often wrote about cards like Sunstone, Mind Whip, and Baton of Morale in my articles.
Today, in the wintery time of the Northern Hemisphere, as one year leads to another, and one decade ends, it seems appropriate to look back at that set and pull out some cards you may not be familiar with, and perhaps give one or two of them a new deck with newer cards.
Without further ado, let’s bring out these cards.
We begin with this Red enchantment from Ice Age. This is how Total War reads today: “Whenever a player attacks with one or more creatures, destroy all untapped non-Wall creatures that player controls that didn’t attack, except for creatures the player hasn’t controlled continuously since the beginning of the turn.”
Note that, unlike many cards, Total War did NOT get errata’d to “Creatures without Defender” from the non-Wall language. That means Total War does kill things like Opal-Eye, Konda’s Yojimbo and Carven Caryatid.
It also does not kill creatures with haste that were just played and did not attack. If you manage to tap the creature first, it does not die to Total War either, so something like Prodigal Pyromancer helps. Also, Total War impacts all players, and that includes you. That means, if you want to play it, creatures that tap and walls appear to be handy additions, plus creatures with Indestructible.
What’s great is that Total War doesn’t care whether or not you can attack, just if you do. You could combine it with something like Moat. If you attack with a flyer, then your non-flyers die unless they are tapped, a wall, or just came into play on your side. Similarly, if you have out something like Dueling Grounds, then whatever does not attack dies (if it meets the three conditions).
Total War is not jank, as a result. In fact, it appears to me to be very build-around-able, especially in multiplayer. Just play something like Teferi’s Moat to send some creatures elsewhere, and they will all go elsewhere.
Note that Total War is not a blanket Wrath of God. That would make it too good. If you play something like Peacekeeper/Total War, that is not a combo to kill all creatures. That may seem weaker, but in fact it makes Total War much better in multiplayer. Instead of being an auto-kill card on sight, it becomes more like Super Propaganda.
There are lots of cards that pop into my head that work well with Total War. Big walls to block the one attack, walls that attack, stuff like Silent Arbiter or that Dueling Grounds. Flash creatures. Winning conditions on creatures like Pirate Ship and Prodigal Sorcerer.
Another obvious inclusion is the forced attack. Grab Alluring Siren from M10 and force an opposing creature to attack. Now when it attacks, they have to bring everything. Combined with the above mentioned Dueling Grounds, Teferi’s Moat, Reverence, Silent Arbiter — these things can kill many creatures at once.
However, note that in multiplayer, this may be weakened. You have out Reverence. You tap Alluring Siren and force their Serra Angel to swing when they have three two-power creatures out. They attack you with Serra and another player with the three creatures, and thus avoid the death of their creatures. It can get the table busy, but it is not a Deus Ex Machina.
Note that some older cards, like Nettling Imp and Norritt, will actually kill the creature if it cannot attack. This has two advantages. First, it can kill off creatures your opponent tries to save by tapping them. If they tap their Merfolk Looter and then attack with their creatures, you can force the Looter to attack or die, which will probably mean it dies because it can’t attack or it gets creamed by defense. It also prevents that ability from being used. Second, it can kill off creatures that cannot attack either because you are in a duel (like Reverence), or because of something like Moat that impacts all creatures, and not just those that attack you.
I’ve given you a bunch of deck ideas for Total War, so let’s turn to something else from Ice Age.
There was a time when Iceberg was considered a power card. I remember seeing it in decks with stuff like Moxes. Channel was banned, and you could tap out to store a ton of mana, and then go off the next turn.
The problem with Iceberg today is several fold. First, Ventifact Bottle fills many of the holes that Iceberg took up, and does so better in many ways. Second, tapping out the play a spell is asking for combo or counters to fly. Third, it’s a big target for Disenchants.
Therefore, Iceberg simply doesn’t have the power it once had. The more counters you put on it, the better a choice it looks for that Seal of Cleansing. Many growing cards that can be sacrificed for an effect like Knowledge Vault, so they can be sacrificed in response to removal, but not Iceberg. All you can do is pull off counters. Maybe you have something you can do with all of that mana.
Where this shines over Ventifact Bottle is that you are not forced to use it one turn later, and you can store mana, albeit slowly, at the end of someone’s turn, instead of knocking out your main phase. Ventifact Bottle has no subtlety. You tap out and give it 8 counters, and you have no mana, no way to use the bottle, and are telling everyone that you are playing something huge next turn.
Iceberg is much more subtle. Play it with some counters, then you can dip into it as you have need. Store up in order to be able to have lots of extra mana in order to take advantage of a Timetwister, Windfall, Memory Jar, Magus of the Jar or Wheel of Fortune. When someone flips up the Eloren Wilds Plane card, you can store mana under the Iceberg until it goes away. You can use a Mana Flare until someone takes it out. These things have additional value to you.
Anyway, it’s a tool, and it’s not nearly as powerful as it once was, but it can still get you where you want to go.
Fogs are awesome. Well, not really. They are the card mechanic I like the least in casual play. I make fun of people who play Fogs, generally, unless it’s a really clever way of winning. Glacial Crevasses gives your Red deck something is has never had before — Fogs. Now all I want to do is to turn this into Fog Beats.
Okay, let’s take a look at the deck, already under progress. The deck wants to establish a wall that cannot be easily penetrated because it sacrifices Snow-Covered Mountains. These repeatable Fogs require no use of mana, unlike alternatives like Constant Mists or Sunstone, so you can do whatever you want, while also Fogging. You can bring back lands with Crucible of Worlds to Fog every turn, ad nauseam. You can also use Lodestone Bauble to guarantee a few land draws, or you can just play it and sac it for no cards on top of your library to essentially cycle for a card.
Finally, your deck has a few reload cards named Planar Birth. This helps your enemies too, but your deck is built around this two-mana sorcery. Feel free to sacrifice all of your lands after tapping for mana to a Zuran Orb or Copper-Leaf Angel, Greater Gargadon or Goblin Razerunners, and then bring them all back with one two-mana spell, and reload. You can only bring back basics, so there is no opportunity for cycling lands or sac lands or doing any other similar tricks with the Planar Birth or Lodestone Bauble.
The Goblin Razerunners are your secret tech. You play one, and sacrifice a few lands to give it some counters. Then sit behind your Fog Wall, and Life Gain Wall (with ZOrb out) and use things like the Bauble and Planar Birth and Crucible to keep your engine purring. Meanwhile, you are hitting your opponent for 2-4 damage each turn from your Razerunners.
You do have a single Balance as a nice trick to pull out of the deck in emergencies. If you Planar Birth, you’ll give any sacrificed basics back to your opponent, but you can easily â€˜Geddon their non-basics, kill many of their creatures, and wreck havoc on their hand.
This deck is very modular and there are a lot of tricks you can try if you want to change it. Pull Lightning Bolts for Skred and more Snow lands, or for Swords to Plowshares. More Snow lands could encourage the use of Scrying Sheets. There are a ton of cards you can play that use the sacrifice of a land. You could add other colors and look for something like Lifegift. I think a Scapeshift into a bunch of new basics, and then bringing out all of the old ones would be very powerful.
Anyway, there is a nice little deck for Glacial Crevasses.
The list of janky Red enchantments from Ice Age continues with this little number. In order to explain why I think this is mentioning, I want to point out a few things. First of all, Red normally hoses flyers with things like Chaosphere and Gravity Sphere, but it often kills ground creatures a la Earthquake. This falls right in between that group — hosing non-flyers.
If you remember Moat decks that used White flyers to win, then you’ll note that a similar strategy works here. Mudslide works fine in any Dragon deck. It also only stops untapping, so vigilance creatures love Mudslide, even ground ones. It also stops untapping, so cards that don’t normally attack, like Merfolk Looter, Prodigal Pyromancer, and Llanowar Elves can get seriously stopped by a Mudslide.
There is another idea that speaks to me, though. I want you to take a look with me at Dream Tides. This uncommon Visions enchantment says, “Creatures don’t untap during their controllers’ untap steps.
At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player may choose any number of tapped nongreen creatures he or she controls and pay 2 for each creature chosen this way. If the player does, untap those creatures.”
I always liked Dream Tides. Is basically forces any creature tapped to pay 2 to untap, but Green creatures need not apply. In many ways, it is better than Mudslide, although it does not have the flying creature synergy of it and it cannot be combined with Green. What I want to point out is that there are a number of these taxing cards, and if you combine enough of them, people will never attack anybody ever again. The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Propaganda, Dream Tides, Mudslide, Pendrell Mists, Ghostly Prison, Koskun Falls, Elephant Grass, Magus of the Tabernacle, Windborn Muse, Collective Restraint, etc.
If you play multiples of these card, you can declare war on creatures of any form. You proactively Wrath of God, instead of reactively doing so. Multiples of these cards can wreck any multiplayer table that relies too much on creatures and not enough on answers to these problems backed by something like Privileged Position.
So sure, you can use this to combine with flyer or vigilance creatures. You could also really power the stuff out. You can combine with Gravity Sphere. Another option is to force creatures to tap, by using Icy Manipulator. You can tap a ground creature of your opponent’s with them and then reap the rewards. This is so useful, you might want more, so look for cards like Puppet Strings.
I remember, when Ice age first came out, that I got these two cards in the same starter. It was one of my first looks at Ice Age cards. I thought to myself, “You could build a deck around that.” I filed it away until just now. In honor of that thought, so long ago, let’s do it.
Here’s how the “combo” works. Tap the Weathervane to turn a land into a Snow land. Do this several times over many turns. Then use Avalanche to destroy them all!
If you are wondering why you would ever want to do such a clunky combo for such a minor effect, then you don’t get it. This deck is not for you. However, I have readers of different types, and there are some who love the idea of using an enchanted Weathervane to aim an Avalanche right at their opponent’s lands.
I packed in another trick. You use the Weathervane to give your opponent a Snow-Land, and then play Ball Lightning. Use the Barbarian Guides to give it snow-land walk and it hits for 6, and then the Guides return the Ball Lightning to your hand, and it does not hit he graveyard. This is a classic combo from the days of yore, incidentally. I remember it being mentioned in a magazine.
After that, the deck plays itself. Since it takes a while to build up your combo, I remembered Silent Arbiter from talking about Total War above, so I decided to run it here. Since you may only be able to attack with one creature, the Ball Lightning, Shivan Dragon or Storm Shaman should be legit game winners. The Shaman has a big butt, making him a good blocker. Wall of Diffusion can stop shadow or aggro creatures and I tossed in some removal for those that would normally be a problem. The deck has no artifact kill, and perhaps you might want to change it slightly. For example, perhaps you want to pull the Beacons for Aftershock or something like that.
I hope that you enjoyed today’s trek through the days of yore. Perhaps you found something in here to spark your own deckbuilder. Good luck!