Hello folks, and welcome to the latest article in that long series of mine: Bad Rares. In each of these articles, I grab my box of low value rares and I randomly grab one, and then build a deck around it. Some of my favorite decks of all time come from this series, since it challenges me to think about a card in a new way.
The concept is simple enough, and I’d rather write decks than write 10 paragraphs of preamble about them before moving in, so, without further footsie, let’s get to the decks.
I recently added a bunch of recent rares from the last few sets into my bad rare box, so who knows what I will pull out? I reach in, and grab….
Well, that’s certainly a bad rare alright. Here we have a 6/1 flyer for seven mana, and it steals a turn, so you can then later take a turn when it leaves play. At least it triggers for leaves play, and does not trigger for just going to the graveyard. The problem with this card is that there is no easy abuse of the leaves play ability. This would have been great with the old rules for phasing. Just slap a Vanishing on it, phase it out and take an extra turn, and then it phases back in and does not trigger the enters-the-battlefield ability, and then spend two more mana and phase it back out and take unlimited turns by spending two Blue mana each turn for the Vanishing. This card used to rock.
One of the things I like to do when faced with a difficult deckbuilding challenge that I do not have an obvious use for is to try to look at the card from different angles. When would you want to put a turn in the bank by skipping your next turn?
You could have something out like Stasis and then play this to skip a turn. That looks bad though — who wants to tap 7 mana in order to skip a turn under a Stasis? You could pay for an Island Sanctuary and then skip a few turns and people are still affected by it the last time you paid for it. Then when you take an extra turn you don’t have to pay for it and… yeah…. sucky.
Wait… I’ve got an idea. You could play it and put the skipping of your next turn on the stack. Then remove it from play and stack the extra turn above. Let the Time walk resolve. Then Time Stop and take your next turn. Result — 2 cards for 7 and 6 mana in order to do what a 5 mana card does (Time Warp).
What I need is a way to cancel the card’s enters-the-battlefield ability. Hmmm. When it comes into play, skip my next turn. Skip my next turn. Skip my next turn. Skip my next turn…..Ah ha!
“When Wormfang Manta enters the battlefield, you skip YOUR next turn”
Perfect. All I need to do is make sure the Manta doesn’t enter play under my control. Then someone else loses the turn. That’s the inspiration.
Okay, here is how the deck works. You play multiplayer classic Endless Whispers and rarely seen Brooding Saurian. Then, you Sneak out Wormfang Manta and lose your next turn. At the end of the turn, it dies. And you take an extra turn, so they negate each other — normal turn structure results. Pass the turn. At the end of the next turn, the Manta will come into play under target opponent’s control. Then stack the triggers so that the Saurian triggers second. The Manta enters play, and then switches back to your control. That play skips their next turn. Now they pass the turn. Kill the Manta with a Moaning Well or Goblin Bombardment and take another turn after than one. Keep bringing it back with Endless Whispers. Other players will lose more and more turns, and you will gain more and more turns.
Then just Goblin Bombardment someone to death, or attack for wins. I also included a Shivan Gorge so you can ting everyone for 1 damage each turn, and it gets past Ivory Mask type cards. I also included a single Soldevi Digger for later, in case it takes you a while to kill people, and you can go off indefinitely to win it.
This little combo brings about some interesting design decisions with it. For example, I decided to make sure you would be able to play the Manta even if the Sneak Attack is not in play, off Rupture Spires. That way, you can play it, and then sac it to go off.
I included Miren because I loved having as many parts of the combo with a card that cannot be disenchanted or countered as much as possible. I like to build in duplication, so Brand seemed like a hot idea. You can cycle it, or use it as a one-time Brooding Saurian.
Note that you can start the combo one turn earlier with a Goblin Bombardment (or Miren) out. Play the Manta, lose the next turn, sac immediately, put the trigger on the stack now, and at the end of your turn it comes back and causes someone to lose their next turn, then you can steal and take another turn with a sac with clever stacking. Stack the Whispers second after the Saurian.
If you cannot speed going off by a turn with a Goblin Bombardment or Miren, then in multiplayer, I would recommend using this on the second to last turn before yours, so that the natural turn sequence is two turns away, then you have your natural turn in two turns. Then the triggers go on the next person’s turn, and then yours for the final turn before you go off, giving your opponent’s one less turn to interact before you go off.
Playing something to tap down all of your opponents’ mana to keep them from doing anything once you go off would be a lovely addition.
I played cards that can help stall and get you what you need. Wall of Blossoms works for defense and cards. Hull Breach can end cards that are serious problems (like Worship or Platinum Angel) and Terminate can keep people off your back. Civic Wayfinder is both mana sorting and a speed bump.
I had originally thought of this deck without the Brooding Saurian, with just cards like Brand and Legerdemain, but then I searched in a card archive and found the Saurian, and that’s a much better combo.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that deck. Now, let’s get ready and pull out another card. My hand reaches in and I grab…..
The part of this card I never got was why would you want to play it? As a card drawing tool, Jayemdae Tome is simply much better — you always draw the card and no one sees what you got, for the same activation cost. If you want to put cards in your graveyard, then there are things like Whetstone, which has a lower cost, puts two cards in your yard instead of one, does not tap the artifact, and hurts your opponents for the same mill.
Usually, when they create a card that is usually worse than an existing card, there is some area where the card is better. In which area is Candles of Leng better than a Jayemdae Tome or a Millstone? What little corner of Magic does it excel in, that would suggest a deck? Even classic bad rares like One with Nothing did something new. What something new does this do?
The only reason I can think of is in a deck that wants to do both. What if sometimes you wanted to draw the card, and sometimes mill it? Unfortunately, this doesn’t give you the option to choose one or the other, which would have been really cool. Then this card would have made sense. “Reveal the top card of your library, and then you may draw it, or put it into your graveyard.” Not bad, and interesting to build around — but no. They made it suck.
So, I need a deck where every card in the graveyard is a card I want to be there if I activate this. That’s an odd situation. Let’s see what we can do about it.
- 1 Avatar of Woe
- 4 Nether Shadow
- 1 Visara the Dreadful
- 4 Ashen Ghoul
- 4 Necrosavant
- 4 Carrionette
- 4 Bloodghast
This deck wants to put most of the creatures in the graveyard for later recursion, and then does not want to lose the spells or the lands. Thus, the deck is highlander in spells, the two creatures I don’t want to lose, and as many of the lands as I can spare without losing too much to enters-the-battlefield tapped lands.
Activate one or more Candles as much as you want. It will put creatures on top of Ghouls and Shadows to help pull them out, and stock the yard for future pulling out of creatures. It will also help to fill up your hand with spells, lands, Visara and the Avatar, and a Digger. Note that it’s not a bad thing to have no creature of a type in your yard and then you have to draw it. No one is going to complain about drawing an Ashen Ghoul or Bloodghast instead of getting it to the graveyard. It will get there eventually.
There is a smattering of removal. Since you are showing your hand often anyways, I felt a Seal of Doom was a good choice for this deck, since it can be a better rattlesnake on the board then sitting in your hand and requiring people to remember you drew a Dark Banishing four turns ago.
I hope you enjoy the deck, built around a janky card. Let’s move to another card. What card will it be? My hand reaches into the box and pulls out….
I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. Ready?
The only thing I did was pull the Brands and 2 Wall of Blossoms for four Bronze Bombshells. This will give you an alternate path to victory in case the Wormfang Manta path is broken. You sac a Bombshell to force another player to get it and then they sac it and take 7, and it comes into play under someone else’s control. If your Manta engine is not working, this will deal 7 damage to an opponent every turn, and if they give it to you, you don’t take seven, you just sac it and keep it going.
What’s the next card? I reach in and grab…
I’ve never built a deck around this card before. What can I come up with since now I have to?
Here is my Elemental Resonance deck. It is in a deck with Reaper King and Draco and Stratadon (and Progenitus, but you can’t enchant it) — so that gives you three options for big mana production. I would then expect you to use this major mana bump to blow through your hand and play some other big stuff.
The deck has a minor Domain-ish theme, with cards like Scapeshift designed to get you one of each basic land for things like Allied Strategies and Exploding Borders, plus the playing of cards like Worldheart Phoenix, Progenitus, Draco, Stratadon, Conflux and Reaper King.
After I started including a few obvious cards, everything else fell into place. Conflux made total sense, and it led to getting things like an X spell in three different colors, removal from White (or Balance from White), Tribal Flames and Exploding Borders damage, and various five color cards from any color, and Allied Strategies from Blue (most likely), plus another Conflux always makes sense.
With Conflux, X spells, and domain cards in the deck, you ideally want to see Elemental Resonance on a Reaper King, and then you can make any combination of mana from 10 colorless to one of each color, and anything in between that can be made with combinations of symbols in its hybrid cost. You can choose to make 2 colorless or one White, 2 colorless or one Black, etc.
It’s a little cheap, but I included a single copy of Coalition Victory for those interested. You can grab one with a Conflux. This deck wants to get one of each basic land type out and has five color creature s- why wouldn’t you add Coalition Victory?
Oh, by the way, yes, this deck is 61 cards. Just in case you were wondering.
I tossed in a single copy of Nicol Bolas as a fun little disruptive card that can easily take your opponent off his game. He’s very playable in this deck and if your opponents focus too much on him, and not enough on the other stuff, you will win.
That brings us to the close of another article, and another bad rares article at that! I hope you enjoyed this week’s article, and we’ll see you next week!