The Kitchen Table #321 – The Limited 250 Revealed

Grand Prix: Oakland!

Wednesday, January 20th – Today I am going to pull the curtain back from behind one of my teases in the column, and reveal one of my classic decks. Is it Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy? Nope. The JV Squad? Nope. I am going to spend a whole article on the Limited 250.

Hello folks, and welcome to my weekly article… and today, I have something a bit special. Today I am going to pull the curtain back from behind one of my teases in the column, and reveal one of my classic decks.

Is it Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy? Nope. The JV Squad? Nope. I am going to spend a whole article on the Limited 250.

Before we post the actual decklist for this deck, we may need to answer questions. I’ve mentioned the deck somewhere between 7 and 12 times in my articles over the years, but I have never talked about it in detail. The Limited 250 began as an experiment to build a Limited Five-Color deck using the rules of the time. I built it by purchasing three starters from the most recent standalone expansions (Odyssey, Onslaught, and Mirrodin) and then added a booster pack from other sets. Eventually, I had built a cardpool of every expansion between The Dark and Future Sight, including some Portal and Unglued. All told I spent around $120-150 on the cards, but of course, they were added permanently to my collection. Often what I would do is assign a booster pack from a box in the newest set that I purchased as the next cardpool addition for my deck. I kept adding one booster for years, but that’s a slow pace.

Then I built a deck with around 250 cards, 20 of each color, from just the cards that I had. The initial point was that you could build a Five Color deck cheaply, so I said with just one pack of each expansion, here is the deck.

Even the deck’s basics come from the three starters I purchased.

I played the deck a lot, and today it is still together, sitting here at my desk for me to play when one of my staff or students stops by for a game or three. Over time, my deck has gained a few quirks. It is unsleeved, I put “Ticks” on the card that wins me a game, and I write on the card when I destroy or take out something major, like an Umezawa’s Jitte or an Akroma.

Are you interested? Want to see this deck made from a limited pool of cards? I thought you might be. Here we go:

The Limited 250
Abe Sargent
Test deck on 01-24-2010

Creatures (89)

Lands (86)

Magic Card Back

The Viridian Shaman, Mystic Crusader, and Defense of the Heart are foil. 184 non-land cards, and 86 are lands for a total of 270, which is obviously 20 cards over, but I probably added a few cards near the end and didn’t take out that many, so shame on me.

Let’s look at the deck. Tapping to deal damage is an obvious theme with Viridian Longbow, Lavamancer’s Skill, Arcane Teachings, and Psionic Gift plus Chainflinger and Arc-Mage in the deck. In fact, Viridian Longbow is one of the cards with the most ticks in my deck.

Every time you play the deck it plays differently, because it is not consistent. It is not a control deck, nor an aggro deck, nor a combo deck. It has cheap creatures like Expendable Troops, Daggerclaw Imp, Dauthi Marauder, Wild Mongrel, Cloud Spirit, Soltari Lancer and such. It has big creatures like Archangel and Cateran Slaver. It has removal, pump, cards that resemble aggro like Seton’s Desire, and others for control like Gloomdrifter, which is the only mass removal card I ever opened.

I did get two effects that tutor for two creatures and put them into play (Tooth and Nail and Defense of the Heart). However, you will note that the deck really can’t abuse them. The most powerful play is Archangel and Fledgling Dragon, or Cateran Slaver and Angry Mob against someone with Swamps. Oh, by the way, I can use Cateran Slaver to search out Rathi Assassin, and that’s cool. I do that whenever I get the Slaver.

You can search up more defensive creatures like Darksteel Gargoyle and a creature with protection like Mystic Crusader or Sabertooth Nishoba.

There are a few cards in here that draw cards, and a few that get lands and/or smooth your mana. You have artifacts, Green creatures, and cards, and some of which are pretty good. Krosan Tusker, Kodama’s Reach, and Journey of Discovery are great. Even Quirion Explorer and Rampant Growth are just fine. In card drawing, Opportunity and Concentrate are great and, even in this deck, Thirst for Knowledge is solid. However, the quality ends there, and you are looking at stuff like Mystic Compass for mana smoothing and very little else for card drawing. There is card advantage in things like Arc-Mage, Cone of Flame, Swelter, Gloomdrifter, Serrated Arrows, Ichor Slick and other cards, but virtually no raw card drawing.

You’ll note that my countermagic is simply Overrule, Logic Knot, Spell Counter, and perhaps you would consider Meddle. That’s a pretty weak slate. For some reason, I never opened up stuff like Counterspell, Dissipate, Power Sink, Spell Blast, Dismiss, Forbid, Rewind, Mana Leak, Miscalculate, Induce Paranoia, Cancel, Remove Soul, Exclude, Mystic Denial, and more. I remember getting an Abjure as my only other counter. That wasn’t worth playing. That means my deck lacks the ability to say “no.”

My deck cannot stop something, recover easily from discard, deal with many creatures at once, and so forth. It’s not ideal. Some of the cards included are very clumsy and simply included for redundancy, like Abolish. However, that Abolish has killed a Survival of the Fittest and some other nice cards, so don’t knock it too much.

The mana is problematic, the deck is inconsistent, and you don’t have many power cards. However, there are several points to be had.

First of all, the deck is a lot of fun to play. This is a deck that you will remember playing. Plus, you will still get a lot of wins, and this is important. A lot of my cards have a lot of ticks. Sabertooth Wyvern, three kills; Thunderbolt, five kills; Overrun, six kills; and so forth. I give a kill tick to a card that got me a kill. Usually, that’s a creature or a burn spell, but often it is something else. For example, I might have four creatures and been attacking you each turn and have you down to two life. I am at five. You play Ball Lightning and attack me back. I would die except for the Toxic Stench in my hand, so I Stench it, and then next turn hit you with four creatures for the win. In that situation, the Stench gets the tick.

My best card, in terms of what it has killed and how many wins it has produced, is Death Mutation. It has five kills from the saprolings it makes, and has killed Niv-Mizzet and Silvos as its best kills. Ovinomancer made Verdant Force into a sheep once, I played Chastise on an Akroma, Divine Offering on a Jitte, Abolish on a Survival, and so forth.

Keeping track of the cards taken out and the kills gives my deck a sense of history. I’ve been playing it for years, but often off and on. I think I’ve only pulled it out 5 or 6 times in the past two years. Still, it is here by my desk right now, and I can pull it out when it is ready. (I have to reshuffle it after taking it apart for this article).

The Limited 250 is one of my classic decks, and outside of Equinaut, H&J, and the JV Squad, it is the deck I am most known for in our play group. Of course, the JV Squad has not existed for years, so it’s really just the L250 and the other two decks.

One of the things I’d like to try is perhaps to pick up some of the later packs, and then increase the deck to 300 cards so that I can comply with the new Five Color rules. In fact, that sounds like fun, but I’m going to cheat a bit. See, I want to do it for this article, but I haven’t the cards. So, let’s add Lorwyn and Shadowmoor Block cards to my cardpool and then see what makes the cut.

I randomly generate the boosters to see what I can take from my already existent cardpool and add to my Limited 250. Maybe I’ll finally get countermagic. I’ve never done this before, but it seems perfect acceptable if you have a large cardpool already. Here we go.


Moonglove Winnower
Warren-Scourge Elf
Woodland Changeling
Fire-Belly Changeling
Adder-Staff Boggart
Springleaf Drum
Lash Out
Shields of Velis Vel
Streambed Aquitects
Bog Hoodlums
Wizened Cenn
Guardian of Cloverdell
Thorntooth Witch
Immaculate Magistrate

Not too much here. Lash Out is an obvious inclusion. The Guardian is also strong. With my lousy mana, Springleaf Drum also seems legit. Still, I was hoping for a certain common land or a Vivid land, or a Mulldrifter, counterspell, and so forth, and I am walking away with an Incinerate variant, an average sized large creature, and a bad way of making some mana.


Seething Pathblazer
Kindled Fury
Order of the Golden Cricket
Coordinated Barrage
Squeaking Pie Grubfellows
Prickly Boggart
Stonybrook Schoolmaster
Distant Melody
Sunflare Shaman
War-Spike Changeling
Release the Ants
Recross the Paths
Sage of Fables
Door of Destinies

Release the Ants and Recross the Paths are both solid. Recross is not a mana fixer so much as an accelerant, but I’ll take anything. Distant Melody is not going to draw me anything, so that’s a disappointing card. Nothing else here really seems to make my deck happy.


Loamdragger Giant
Nurturer Initiate
Poison the Well
Scuzzback Scrapper
Presence of Gond
Crabapple Cohort
Gloomwidow’s Feast
Zealous Guardian
Sinking Feeling
Sickle Ripper
Wasp Lancer
Slinking Giant
Blowfly Infestation
Enchanted Evening

Scuttlemutt and the Feast are both great. The Giant is quite strong, and the Marauders are solid too. There are a few cards in here with some value. Okay, one last pack.


Tilling Treefolk
Shorecrasher Mimic
Fire at Will
Rendclaw Trow
Smoldering Butcher
Harvest Gwyllion
Talara’s Bane
Noggle Bridgebreaker
Drain the Well
Battlegate Mimic
Jawbone Skulkin
Restless Apparition
Canker Abomination
Noxious Hatchling
Helix Pinnacle

As much fun as it might be to consider the Pinnacle, this is not the deck for it. There are some good cards in here though. Fire at Will is the golden card here. There are a few others I would consider, but Fire at Will is rocking.

Alright, here is what I am adding from these four packs:

Fire at Will
Guardian of Cloverdell
Moonglove Winnower
Springleaf Drum
Lash Out
Recross the Paths
Wasp Lancer
Gloomwidow’s Feast
Loamdragger Giant
Release the Ants
War-Spike Changeling
Crabapple Cohort
Tilling Treefolk
Thorntooth Witch

And that’s it for now. I can get to 300 later if I ever decide to add Alara block or Zendikar cards. I was hoping to get enough goods from Lorwyn block but that was not to be, and I have this little Treefolk engine of creature removal and that’s it.

I hope you enjoyed another look into my deck boxes. I see you all next week!

Until later…

Abe Sargent