The Kitchen Table #328 – Decks-a-Minute

StarCityGames.com Open Series: Indianapolis on March 13-14
Thursday, March 11th – Today I want to build a few decks and generally stretch my deck-building muscles. Like normal, I will probably use some new cards and some old standards. There’s nothing wrong with adding Harmonize to a Green deck or Commander Eesha to a defensive White deck. However, I also want to use new cards that usually don’t get a day in the sun.

Hello folks, and welcome back to the column that is dedicated to the casual side of Magic. I generally think that this column is for four major things — decks, card evaluations, alternate formats, and multiplayer strategy. I regularly try to change that here and there, with an odd article like the Three Kingdoms series and such, but generally, each week I try to bring one of those four things out in the article.

Today I want to build a few decks and generally stretch my deck-building muscles. Like normal, I will probably use some new cards and some old standards. There’s nothing wrong with adding Harmonize to a Green deck or Commander Eesha to a defensive White deck. However, I also want to use new cards that usually don’t get a day in the sun.

Since I want to stretch a bit, let’s flex my muscles. It’s been a while since I’ve done any sort of random deck building. I have spent articles building around a random bad rare, or a random card from Magic, or build through random cards, build a random tribe, and whatnot. Today, I want to bring out the random gun again.

I will randomly select a card in Magic’s history, and then build around it. No card will be rejected unless it was already chosen for a random contest once before. Let’s see what random card I get. There have been 55 sets including Alpha. Which one is rolled first, using random.org?

29. What set is that?


What card?

138. What card is 138th in Torment, according to the list?

Seton’s Scout

Ah memories. I remember using this in my G/R decks I took to Odyssey and showing people a really powerful surprise they didn’t expect. It works quite well, thank you very much. It gives you a nice 2/1 beater for two mana, and it jumps up to a 4/3 post threshold. It also has reach, which was quite pertinent in a format where Wonder was heavily played. It’s flat out better than Grappler Spider.

My articles about these two formats were among my favorite from my pre-featured writer days. You can find them waaaaaaay back in 2002 here and here.

In fact, it was largely on the back of these articles that I got offered featured writer-ship.

There are a lot of ways to build a deck with Seton’s Scout, but why not revisit and revamp the original decklist? That sounds like fun!

Here it is again, the original G/R decklist I played in block.


4 Reckless Charge
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Seton’s Scout
4 Sylvan Safekeeper
4 Call of the Herd
4 Firebolt
2 Narcissism
2 Lightning Surge
2 Violent Eruption
2 Arrogant Wurm
4 Mossfire Valley
11 Forests
7 Mountains
2 Barbarian Rings

Now, let’s revamp this decklist into something a bit more modern.

First of all, what value does Sylvan Safekeeper bring? Back then, you were fearing stuff like Firebolt and AEther Burst. It could sac a land or two to put you at threshold. Yet as a card itself, a simple 1/1 for G, it really doesn’t have a lot of power. Doesn’t this seem like an ideal place for Kird Ape?

You have the Wild Mongrel, Basking Rootwalla super combo down. We even have Arrogant Wurm and Violent Eruption for madness loving. I think I like the Rootwalla as a one drop and an occasional free drop off a Mongrel. It stays. The Mongrel is great too, and it stays.

However, the Violent Eruption and Arrogant Wurm seem a bit too reliant on Narcissism or Wild Mongrel in order to play. I’m pulling them.

Outside of the block, I feel that Narcissism is also pretty wonky. They get pulled as well.

Firebolt rocks. It might stay. Seton’s Scout obviously stays in too. This deck is sort of built around Reckless Charge, so let’s make sure to include it too. Here are the cards that are still in so far:

4 Reckless Charge
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Kird Ape
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Seton’s Scout

There are several other places to go. I could push the threshold theme with cards like Werebear or Nimble Mongoose. I could also go with the flexible Kavu Titan. Other options include the useful and powerful Tarmogoyf, or cards like Vinelasher Kudzu, Gruul Guildmage, Rip-Clan Crasher, and such. Frankly, any Green deck could use Tarmogoyf, but I’ll pass this time. However, I do like Scab-Clan Mauler for this deck. Let’s add four.

After considering some options, I still like Call of the Herd. It is a very good choice, and the ability to flash it back is nice as well. However, both Boggart-Ram Gang and Burning-Tree Shaman have obvious power. At the multiplayer table, Wilderness Elemental is a huge three drop. For a duel, I’d rather have Skyshroud War Beast. I like Boggart Ram-Gang the best, so let’s add it.

4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Scab-Clan Mauler

Lightning Bolt is a necessity. If I have burn space later, I’ll add Firebolt.

4 Lightning Bolt

Okay, we have 32 cards for the deck, and 24 of those are creatures. For the last few cards, would we prefer creatures or cards? We don’t have any artifact removal, so something like Tin-Street Hooligan or Vithian Renegades might be nice. We could also use a little more burn, so Firebolt would be valuable. How about we split the difference and rock two Vithian Renegades and two Firebolts?

Lands — If it enters the battlefield tapped, it sucks. Let’s go with 4 Wooded Foothills. You could use some of the enemy ones from Zendikar too if you wanted, to further thin the deck down. These not only reduce land draws, but they also increase your chance for threshold, which you want.

Well, there is the first deck. Alright, what is the next card?

Set number… 43. Morningtide!

What card? 32. What card is that?

Distant Melody

This is certainly a card I’ve used occasionally. I am trying to come up with a new way. I need a creature type that feels a bit unusual and allows you to do something neat as a result. I got it. What if I used Distant Melody as a combo card. I can’t tell you what inspired it, but suddenly, a combo popped into my head.

What if I used Distant Melody to draw my deck after a Myr Incubator fired off? I could exile a ton of artifacts, make a bunch of 1/1 myrs, and then play Distant Melody in order to go off and draw my deck. I can determine exactly how many cards to draw because I exile the artifacts for the making of Myr, and I can draw up to half the deck with the Melody. In one turn, I would have no deck, but about 20 cards in my hand.

With 20ish cards in my hand at once, there are several ways to win. Dream Halls makes a lot of sense. I could fire mana off a Cadaverous Bloom or Skirge Familiar. I actually like the Dream Halls idea a lot.

When you fire off, you should have these things ready to go:

About 20 1/1 Myr tokens out, suitable for killing a player
About 20 cards in hand, suitable for beginning a combo to kill a player
A Dream Halls out, suitable for fueling a combo


Endless Swarm will make a ton of snakes
Searing Wind will deal 10, Spiraling Embers will deal 20-ish
Time Stretch
Inner Fire will make a ton of Red mana
Neverending Torment will Exile a ton of cards

I like Time Stretch and Spiraling Embers the most. That means my deck is going to be Red and Blue.

Here we go:

The deck sports 28 artifacts for your convenience. There are also a few other tricks in here. Don’t be afraid to 3rd turn Tinker or 5th turn Transmuter out an Inkwell Leviathan for beats.

We have a way to draw some cards and try to find your key combo elements in Dream Halls, Myr Incubator and Distant Melody. Don’t be afraid to go off a little early. Tinker out Inkwell Leviathan, drop Dream Halls, and then discard a Skyclaw Thrash to Time Stretch and get some hits in with the guy. You may force a player to make bad blocks, islandwalk someone else, and hit for a ton of damage.

I included Steel Wall to both add to my artifact count and give me some early defense. Skyclaw Thrash is just a body for density of creatures, and a colored artifact for Dream Halls and Myr Incubator purposes.

Don’t be afraid to discard a lot of cards to Dream Halls after you combo into a big grip. Throw out any Spiraling Embers you can, and then discard and play big stuff. Then play or sac a Thran Foundry to give your deck some more gas if it’s needed. Swing with your 1/1 Myrs and kill someone.

If you need cards, Thirst for Knowledge can get you some, and I’d use Distant Melody to set up if needed, by drawing a card or two from a Transmuter, Walls, and Thrash. You can also send Spiraling Embers at a creature if you need to stave off one. You can draw more when you go off.

Despite the combo nature of the deck, it does have several ways of winning. Burn from Spiraling Embers, a horde of 1/1 Myr and a 7/11 shroud, trample, and islandwalker.

Alright, let’s randomly select another card. What set will we get?

8. That’s the set of Ice Age!

Card #164.


Whiteout used to be played in a tournament winning deck that involved Stormbind and had some burn and creatures and artifact damage. You would discard a Whiteout when it was the only card left in hand, bring it back by sacking a land, discard it again, and deal a ton of damage. Writers like Ben Bleiweiss and Brian David-Marshall have talked about the old deck in their articles. Now I’ve randomly rolled it today. What to do.

I could use Whiteout in an updated and new version of Snow-Bind. I could also try to find another way to use and abuse Whiteout.

Some cards that I thought of:

Attunement, Bazaar of Baghdad
Mind Over Matter
Zombie Infestation
Wild Mongrel, Clockwork Gnomes, etc
Oppression — allows you to get past the disadvantage

All of the cards that force you to draw and discard, like Merfolk Looter, now offer another option

What Whiteout does is swap a resource in play to add one to your hand. There are decks that want that, even if it’s just Gamble or Wild Research wanting the odds to be a bit better for that random discard.

Looking through that list, I still think Stormbind is the best card for Whiteout.

I know, I know, it’s another Red/Green aggro deck in the same article as the one above. Oh no! The world will explode!

No, actually I think it’s neat to see how this one and that one have just 8 cards in common — Lightning Bolt and Wild Mongrel. One is better than the other. This one is a little slower, with a one drop, and three 2 drops, and that’s it. With Skred, Lightning Bolt, Magus of the Scroll and WhiteoutStormbind, the deck has a nice selection of damage and removal to dole it. It’s a little slower than the first deck, by focusing on cards that grow over time (Kudzu, Werebear) and cards that need some mana to do their thing; Stormbind and Magus of the Scroll.

I was considering something like Cartographer, or perhaps a more generic Eternal Witness, and maybe you could fit that into the deck as well.

Let’s do one more.

Set number… 31. That is Scourge. What card though? 120. That is….

Forgotten Ancient

Wow, every card I rolled in today’s article I have played before in constructed decks. That’s very interesting.

Forgotten Ancient has a very interesting name, because I think a lot of casual players have forgotten about him over the years since his initial release. Let’s take a look under the hood at some things you can do with him.

In multiplayer, he really has one of three effects on the board each time you play him. First, if you play him, he might get immediately killed. That happens, you just have to get used to it. Second, the people on the table ignore him, and in one or two turns you have 10-15 counters to play around with. Third, people will play less stuff, and he gets like one or two counters every pass of the table.

That means he has a significant impact on the board, no matter what.

Let’s build a quick deck around Sir Elemental.

This deck uses three Spikes, Fertilid and a Triskelion in order to get the counters from the Ancient. Then, you can use them for various effects, such as dealing damage, getting basic lands, gaining life, fogging, and pumping a creature.

To round out the deck, I went with Acidic Slime to kill any non-creature, Llanowar Elves for a bit of acceleration, and Harmonize for the drawing of cards

It’s pretty simple, actually. Just some creatures wanting your +1/+1 counters, and then a few more to take them, or help in other ways. There’s nothing wrong with putting a few counters on an Ooze or Elf in order to grow them a bit.

Anyway, enjoy the deck!

And that brings us to the conclusion of another week here at The Kitchen Table. We hope to see you next week!

Until later…

Abe Sargent