Good morning folks! Today, I want to talk about decks. Recently, everybody has been all a quiver over the newest set to come out of the woodwork. As a follow-up to my set review, I like to write an article wherein I build some cool decks with the latest cards. Let’s give these things a chance to see some actual play!
I’ve been doing these set articles for a while, as the follow up to my card evaluation articles. I’ve been writing set reviews since Onslaught, but follow-up deck articles only since Ravnica. Who wants decks? When I am doing my set review, I jot down deck ideas I get from certain cards, and then I explore those I find interesting with fleshed out decks in my next article. Let’s take a look at a few.
These two cards look like they were made for each other, and I would not be surprised to read that they were played together in FFL leagues. One destroys 5 lands and deals 5 damage to creatures and costs 7 mana. The other brings out a lot of lands and has 6 defense and costs 6 mana. You can easily drop the Titan, get two more lands, then play the Force, and attack getting two more lands. I decided to make the deck Standard legal, just to be fun.
Other creatures that will survive the Force and are in your colors are Valakut Fireboar, Jaddi Lifestrider, Ancient Hellkite, Vastwood Gorger, Kalonian Behemoth, Terra Stomper, Pelakka Wurm, Duskdale Wurm, Enormous Baloth, Inferno Titan, Jungle Weaver, and the interesting Rampaging Baloths + Terastodon.
Terastodon does not have as much of a disadvantage when its tokens creatures die to your Destructive Force, or an attacking Inferno Titan for that matter. The Terastodon can act as adjunct land removal for your deck, or it can take out annoying Planeswalkers, artifacts, and enchantments over on your foe’s side of the board. Because it is behind the curve, I only put in two, but they have a lot of value here.
On the curve are Inferno Titan and Rampaging Baloths. The Baloths are perfect in this deck, but their tokens die to a Force; they are great at surviving the Force, and then making creatures very quickly to take advantage of an open opponent.
The other on-curve creature is another fine Titan. I suspect a creature or two might survive the Force on your foe’s side, and it would be great to have a creature that can attack for an Arc Lightning to finish off any stragglers. If you cleared the way completely with a Force, then it essentially swings for nine instead of six, prior to a certain Firebreathing ability being used. It can remove problems, and works well with this deck.
Cultivate is great because it can speed you up a turn and guarantee you make your land drop next turn. The deck has 24 lands and 12 cards that make mana or get lands, plus the Titans, and that’s 38 out of 60 card that make mana or get cards that do. I hope you’ll be able to find enough mana in here.
Because you are destroying lands with the Destructive Force, it makes sense to add to that with the Ruinblasters and Tectonic Edges. If they try and recover, blow up some more lands. If they have lands left post-Force, then blow up some lands. If they are going too fast pre-Force, then slow them down and force them to play more lands by blowing up the ones they already have out.
When Alara and M10 rotates out, you will lose: Rampaging Baloths, Firewild Borderpost, and Banefire. Each of these is very easy to replace in the deck, and I’m sure there will be things in Scars to help out. I’d look at Sylvan Ranger, Comet Storm, or Fireball, and two more Inferno Titans as replacements if there is nothing in Scars for you.
Mass Polymorph and Tokens
Mass Polymorph normally looks like a tough card. You are turning a random creature into a random creature, and doing it in large numbers. Where is the advantage? But what if you are turning small token creatures into bigger creatures? Wouldn’t that be worth it?
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Madrush Cyclops
- 3 Artisan of Kozilek
- 1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
- 1 It That Betrays
- 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- 1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
This deck wants to play Mass Polymorph and turn tokens from Growth Spasm, Khalni Garden, AEther Mutation, and Summoner’s Bane into bigger creatures. It also is fine adding a Birds of Paradise or two to the Polymorphed creature mix.
This includes a lot of backup cards. It has a backup of Mass Polymorph in Proteus Staff, which can do the same thing over and over again. It has a backup of Brainstorm in Scroll Rack — both can find you the cards you need and hide the big creatures back into your deck before a Staff or Polymorph.
When deciding what creatures to play, it was fairly obvious to me that I should be rolling with Eldrazi. Except for the haste-giving Cyclops, this deck leads with Eldrazi. There are only eight creatures in the deck you might want to get off a Mass Polymorph, so there is plenty of room for beatings from casting it, even if you only have out a few creatures and tokens.
The Artisan of Kozilek is appearing as a three-of because not only is it great off a Mass Polymorph, but it also wants to be hard cast and bring back a creature that died or was discarded. You want to start a little engine. All of the cards, save Madrush Cyclops, can be played in the usual way.
Feel free to start bringing out the big guns, and don’t be afraid to push at your opponent when an opposing presents itself.
I’ve been talking about this with Bloodghast and some other cards for the last two weeks, and how that’d be pretty powerful, so let’s do a quick build for fun.
Ideally, this deck wants to have these turns:
Turn 1 — Dark Ritual — Buried Alive — get 3 Bloodghasts
Turn 2 — Play a land, bring back Bloodghasts — play Demon of Death’s Gate, lose 6 life, sac Ghasts. Cast Sign in Blood, draw two cards.
Turn 3 — Play a land, bring back Ghasts. Attack with 9/9 flying trampler Demon. If it is killed by removal. Exhume it. Otherwise, play Gatekeeper of Malakir to clear path and remove creatures.
Turn 4 — Clear path if needed. Attack for 9 with Demon and 6 with Bloodghasts for game.
That’s pretty powerful stuff. Here are some of the ways I’ve tweaked the deck. First of all, what happens if you draw a second Buried Alive? What if you have two Bloodghasts in your opening hand? The key card then becomes Exhume. I originally put it in here to protect the Demon of Death’s Gate and bring it back if it died. But it can do a lot more.
Let’s say you cast another Buried Alive. This time, get the fourth Ghast and add a Butcher and Stinkweed Imp. Then start Exhuming and dredging. If you have fewer Ghasts in your deck because you draw one or more, no worries, just get reanimation targets. Look at some alternate turn 2s:
Turn 2 — Alternate A — Play a land and bring back two Ghasts. Play a Bloodghast. Play Demon and sacrifice all three.
Turn 2 — Alternate B — Play a land and return three Ghasts. Play Duress and protect the Demon. Then play Demon.
What if you don’t get a Demon in your opening hand? You can still Buried Alive three Bloodghasts and try to ride your triple 2/1 on turn 2 for a while, bringing back those that die, and playing Gatekeepers and other cards. If you have one or more Exhumes (or the singleton Animate Dead), and no demon in hand, you can easily slide to:
The Butcher of Malakir is in here as an extra beater if needed via Exhume. It is also a great choice to play to clear off the creatures your opponent may have played. For example, imagine this slower game.
Turn 1 — Nothing (or maybe Duress)
Turn 2 — Bloodghast
Turn 3 — Buried Alive for 2 Bloodghast, Butcher of Malakir. Attack for two.
Turn 4 — Play land, recur Ghasts. Play Exhume (or Animate Dead), returning Butcher to Play. Play Demon, sacrificing three Bloodghasts, and killing three creatures on your opponent’s side.
Turn 5 — Swing for 9 + 5 in the air. Recur Bloodghasts.
The Butcher is a great reanimation target in these cases, and is in here solely to clear a path for your creatures, and keep your opponent off your back.
Let’s do one more deck, shall we? This one is suitably obvious that I will avoid the normal preamble.
This deck is built around Mitotic Slime, which makes 7 creatures before all is said and done, for five mana. Play it, sacrifice the creatures for any color mana of your choice, and you can make 7 mana with a Phyrexian Altar out (14 colorless mana with an Ashnod’s Altar).
With Enduring Renewal out, you can get your Slime back, and then replay it with the mana you made, as long as you made Green mana. Then you end up with the Slime replayed and 2 mana gained. You can repeat as your wish, again and again.
Once you have a ton of mana, all you need is an engine. Activate Goblin Cannon about 278653 times, and put them all on the stack, and then let them resolve and kill everybody (And the Cannon too, of course).
I also included one Whetstone in case you had a person that was unable to be killed by the Cannon. I included two Seed Sparks to get past things like Platinum Angel, Worship, Leyline of Sanctity, and so forth. However, sometimes someone will either have something you can’t Seed Spark, or you were forced to use it on something else, or there are too many things to Seed Spark. Therefore, an alternate way of winning is your single Whetstone, which will hopefully deck a person.
You want to hide behind the awesome combination of Wall of Omens and Wall of Blossoms. It will be hard for people to get behind your defenses, all while you are drawing cards. Eventually, you can set up a Privileged Position shield to keep your combo pieces and creatures untouched.
Remember not to play Enduring Renewal until it’s time. You can have out the Slime, but once you toss out the Renewal, it smells like combo, reveals your plan by revealing your hand, and can stop a crucial draw. Phyrexian Altar also smells like combo, so I’d look at losing it as well.
Blasting Station was in this deck originally, (you sacrifice for 5 mana and two damage, then replay), but I felt it was important to have decks that sometimes go without my normal Goblin Bombardment and Blasting Station and Magmaw and stuff.
I hope you had fun with these decks today! Don’t forget there will be another in the appendix. We’ll see you next week, when I think I will be bringing you some Commander/EDH decks I’ve been playing online, and you can take a look and see.
APPENDIX — As before, here is a deck and the text from an article published on 3/30/2006. This was the same week that I published the deck from two articles ago, the Keldon Battlewagon one. I was writing a series of daily articles on a different deck each day, and my theme of the week was to randomly roll up a card from Magic and build a deck around it. I rolled Amulet of Quoz. The rest is history:
Let’s look at Amulet of Quoz for a second:
First of all, no one plays for ante. Most Five Color players don’t even play for ante.
You have to sacrifice the Amulet, so you have one shot.
Your opponent may avoid this affect by simply anteing the top card of her deck. Otherwise, flip a coin. If you win, your opponent loses the game. If you lose, you lose the game.
And you pay six mana for this card.
Has there ever been a worse card in Magic? When would be a good time to play this card? If you are winning, then forcing your opponent to ante a card or take a 50/50 chance of losing the game would be a good deal. It would basically force an ante and you’d still be winning, so you’d likely get the extra ante. This would be a great time to use the Amulet, except for one thing…
If you are winning, do you want to play a card that gives you a 50/50 chance of losing outright? Of course not. So, you do not want to play this when you are winning, ever, because your opponent will always choose the flip.
Let’s suppose that you are losing. Getting a 50/50 chance of winning the game outright when you are behind the eight ball seems like a great thing, right? Only then, your opponent will smile and ante an extra card, and then defeat you and your Amulet of Quoz playing self.
There is no good time to use the Amulet of Quoz. The only time you might get a benefit is if you look like you are about to die but you secretly know that you are about to win. Then, if you sac the Amulet of Quoz, your opponent will choose the ante, and then you can win in startling fashion, grabbing the extra ante too. I suppose that’d be useful in that small number of situations.
Note however, that for just three mana, you can cast Demonic Attorney that adds an extra ante card for each player. You can cast this any time you are winning in order to win more cards, so it’s much more useful than Amulet of Quoz for only half the mana.
Fine. I’ll build a deck with Amulet of Quoz, and assume that people will play for ante. Sigh.
This deck tries to go turbo Amulet of Quoz. Once you have a Platinum Angel out you can tap an Amulet of Quoz ad infinitum, because you can’t lose the game by losing the coin flip. Your opponent is forced to ante or possibly die, thus losing ante.
Using the power of Goblin Welder, you can keep changing random artifacts into Amulet of Quoz and firing off this “great” Ice Age rare until your opponent dies, or has so many cards anted that a win will give you half her deck.
The deck has several card drawing spells to help you find the best elements quickly. Discarded Amulets from Thirst of Knowledge can be turned into treasure by our good friend, the Goblin Welder. You can also discard a Platinum Angel then use your Goblin to bring one out earlier than would otherwise happen.
If you need to, you can just use Amulet of Quoz as a six-mana artifact in the hands of Bosh, Artifact Chucker. If your board is an Amulet and Platinum Angel and you draw Bosh, then you just won through direct damage.
I even included a bit of surprise countermagic in the form of Override. If someone throws a big monkey wrench into your plans, simple counter away for a cleaner, quicker kill.