Before I get started…
(Actually, once I’ve gotten started.)
(If this were before the start, you wouldn’t see it.)
…I’d just like to say”Hi” to Bryan Hubble. He seems to be a big fan of my writing style, and his grandfather designed a telescope.
(And now, for the supposed”content.”)
It has been said, by those in the know…
(I would drop names, but I fear I may leave someone out, and then they’d be terribly upset.)
(Which would be bad.)
…That in the new Nov 1st Type 2 metagame, there is but one Tier 1 deck. It reigned supreme early in the Invasion block season, but waned in popularity with the printing of River Boa… Er, Spectral Lynx. Then, when no-one was looking, it continued to win, as if nobody had remembered to tell it to stop.
I am, of course, talking about the deck known as”Green/Red Beats.” Also known as”Rocket Shoes”,”that <severely unprintable> deck!” and”nothing else,” because nobody took the time to think up any other clever names for it, for some reason.
How about a look back at its history? Yes, that’s a good idea.
(History pants: On.)
So, which came first? The chicken or the egg? Well in this case, neither. It was a deck called”Erhnam and Burn ‘Em.”
Now, I haven’t seen this deck in person…
(Total phone-tag situation.)
…But from what I can tell, you would play out some large and/or in charge peoples, and as quick as you can, burn any silly blockers out of the way. The good thing about burn is that you can burn the even bigger peoples on the other side of the table with it as well. Of course, some of you newer players are a tad confused about how this could possibly ever work. Burn spells used to be quite good, you know, for instance go look up”Lightning Bolt,””Chain Lightning,””Incinerate” and perhaps even”Flare.”
(One of these things is not like the others, one of these things is quite pathetic, and it only does one damage — hint, hint…)
Next came Olle Rade’s winning deck from Pro Tour: Columbus way back in ’96. Packed full of really bad and not overly big creatures, some Deadly Insects, a touch of utility, and backed up by some burn.
You’d think Deadly Insects were pretty bad, wouldn’t you? Not much of a threat to anything if there’s as much as a 1/X blocker anywhere in sight. But then again, this is a descendant of the”Erhnam and Burn ‘Em” archetype, so blockers? Phshwoar, we don’t need no steenking blockers…
Olle was, however, cheating on his land count somewhat. He had eighteen, and four Urza’s Baubles to cycle through to them. Actually, I shouldn’t use the word”cheating” here. Who remembers the coverage of PT: Rome back in ’98, where Olle Rade faced off against his old arch nemesis, Tommi Hovi?
(A show of hands, please?)
Apparently they were both peering at the top of each other’s decks intently, looking for subtle differences in the printing ink colors, so they could try to tell what the other’s next card was most likely to be.
(Ice Age this, Beta that, Revised the other…)
(No sir, that’s not cheating.)
Then came”Combo Winter,” and they were forced to eat Robin’s minstrels…
(Ban the offending combo cards from the then very mono-color playing field.)
…And there was much rejoicing.
Once Masques had hit the streets,
(And everyone had stopped laughing at it)
(For it was truly feeble next to Urza’s block)
G/R was now officially a thing of the past. Burn had been severely neutered, and green creatures were nigh on pitiful. Which should be fine in the general context of Masques block, but unfortunately, they also printed walking card advantage machines,”to go.” These walking machines of cards more than thou, were of course handicapped by their small size and pathetic nature. Which would have balanced things nicely, if every other creature in the set hadn’t also been caught in the grand weenification.
And thus, the small white dictators, dictated.
(This happens every now and again, and as evident throughout history, it usually sorts itself out somehow…)
(And did in this case, with the banning of Sivvi, Lin, supposed Defiant Hero, in MBC.)
Then, some time later in the Masques block season, there were a few reported sightings of the then-thought-to-be-extinct G/R monster. Blastoderm and Saproling Burst, two surviving samples of green fat, who were regularly seen out and about, first with white and then with black, refused to comment about any alleged”involvement” with the color red at that time.
But the seeds were sown, and that small snowball would promise an avalanche that would soon come crashing down on the small alpine village that is”Magic, the Gathering…”
(Explorer has generated errors of type: idiot_who_cannot_write#37. An error log is being created.)
With the advent of Invasion, and the coupling of 6th edition and its mana acceleration, with large Masques greenery…
(They prefer the term,”petitely challenged”)
…G/R was firmly back on the map with a stamp of authenticity that proclaimed,”This deck is back on the map, right here, so no disputing it, you don’t even stand a chance.”
While quite unlike Olle Rade’s deck, the Fires of”States ‘00″ and”Chicago ‘01″ quite closely resembled the early”Erhnam and Burn ‘Em” decks, but was, naturally, a lot more explosive. And”the meaning of Slap” was born.
(Fires, Burst, slap!)
(My, sir! You appear to be quite dead. Quite dead indeed.)
(Cue South Park, Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.)
(You like that, dontcha bee-yacht-itch?)
Along came Invasion Block, and sat down beside her, and frightened poor Miss”Fires Acceleration” away.
Without”Timmy tap-elf” and”Billy birdy-bird,” Fires was far too slow to have any real impact on the Invasion block constructed season that was getting under way. But Team ABU cruised into Tokyo with their new G/R beats decks, and taught everyone”the meaning of Slap” all over again.
Which brings us back to the point where I said,”How about a look back at its history? Yes, that’s a good idea.” Except that it’s no longer a good idea, because we’ve done that bit already.
Contrary to what some people will tell you,
(And I’m not going to mention the one person of whom I’m thinking of by name, because he cheats while reading my articles and uses Ctrl-f to find where I talk about him, and just reads that bit. So what I’m going to do, is insert his name somewhere sufficiently random later on, just to confuse him.)
Anyway, some people – and this person in particular – will have you believe that I only play the best deck in any given format. But this is not true. First I try, usually with a complete lack of success, to design something that beats the best deck in the abovementioned format. Then I end up playing the best deck, whatever it may be.
Right now, that’s G/R beatstick on rice, with honey chicken and… no wait…
(I must stop writing on an empty stomach, it’s too distracting.)
So, on November the 2nd, I turned up at our local Friday early evening Magic tournament with the following deck.
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Llanowar Elves
3 Thornscape Apprentice
3 Kavu Titan
2 Horned Kavu
4 Raging Kavu
4 Call of the Herd
4 Flametongue Kavu
4 Beast Attack
1 Shivan Wurm
4 Urza’s Rage
4 Karplusan Forest
1 Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]
2 Rith’s Grove
4 Mask of Intolerance
2 Shivan Wurm
1 Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]
2 Engulfing Flames
A few notes about what you just copied and pasted into notepad for later:
(Don’t try to deny it, I can tell because of StarCity’s unique artificial intelligence browser to server settings. Or AIBS for short.)
I wanted to see how much this would stunt the deck’s mana development, versus its now-improved threat density.
(Listen to him! He makes it sound like he knows what he’s talking about!)
(Maybe I do and I’m lulling you into a false sense of security, so I can learn you”the meaning of Slap,” like you had asked me nicely and even said please, pretty please, with sugar on top.)
I found sometimes I would end up with only three or four mana across critters and lands, which is enough if I don’t need to be kicking the Titans and planting the Wurms. The extra land in the sideboard helps to alleviate this problem in the mirror match.
(Look out, I’m going to mention the guy who cheats while reading my articles twenty lines from here. I’ll put asterisks around his name so you know which bit it is, like * this*. )
This is rubber-stamped Zvi technology to support the Thornscape Apprentice, and the weapons of white stashed neatly away in the sideboard.
Another Zvi item, in there to help the Flametongues go for another lap. They may seem a bit on the small side when an opposing Flametongue licks them, but you can guess what it does to Elephants and Raging Kavu…
Beast Attack over Skizzik.
While Skizzik is clearly better at beating a combo deck to the point, and tramples over Spectral Lynxes, it’s also the wrong toughness right now. All red removal now needs to be able to deal with X/3 creatures, like Rage, Volcanic Hammer, and Flamecheatingtongue Kavu. Beast Attack is just that little bit better. It leaps on attackers, behaves like it has haste, gives counterstrategies coronary problems, and even butters your toast for you.
(Well, mine does. Don’t whine to me if yours turns out to be a non-breakfast-preparing dud.)
(* Digby *.)
These are far more important than many people think. I found that if too many of these are drawn vs Finkula, Finkula doesn’t even stand a chance. Raging Kavu is just plain gravy versus control decks. No, it’s not just plain gravy – it’s the tastiest, most yummiest, most greasy gravy your Grandmother ever made. It’s not amazing like, say, for instance, a spell that reads like the following…
Target Blue Player Loses
Target blue player…, oh just read the name and figure it out for yourself!
…But it just seems to be the straw that breaks its back. Attacking for three on turn 2 is seriously good when followed up with a Flametongue or an Elephant or even another Raging Kavu. Just imagine playing your second land and then being attacked down to eleven.
(Aye lad, that’s not pretty.)
When facing a Shadowmage Infiltrator, you have to take many things into account before flopping that quick little fella out into play. Assuming they have the mana to counter at all times, there’s no point in casting it during your turn if you think you can make them tap out in theirs. So you have the option of casting it during their upkeep, before they theoretically draw a counter. But then you may as well have played it and attacked in yours. This is also bad, because unlike if you’d cast it during your turn, they can now see it coming, and may wish to keep their Finkel back to defend. So that leaves you with two other options, after declaration of attackers, and during their end step. The best option is once they’ve swung that Finkel your way. Make no mistake, you can’t block a Finkel with a Raging Kavu, but what you are doing is playing it once the Finkel is tapped, but before they’ve drawn the counter to stop it.
I’ve found this to be an important play versus counter-based control decks.
4x Mask of Intolerance.
Well, there is one thing that can beat this deck.
Whether it’s control or combo, they’ll either stop you from attacking or go off in your face. You can beat them, but it’s not as easy as any other match up, and really comes down to their bad draw against your good one.
And you’ll have to face this one quite a bit, so it’s best to be prepared, really.
In the mirror, it comes down to the Titans. You have to kick them, and kick them hard.
(Not that you have a choice.)
(Well, you could slam it down enthusiastically, perhaps.)
(Just make sure you’re not using dice to record the life totals, or excessive slamming may dislodge them and cause those very life totals to become somewhat inaccurate.)
(Although the odds aren’t high, they may randomly land back on the required number.)
(Just don’t go slamming left, right, and centre thinking everything will be okay.)
Even if playing it turn 2 will let you be the aggressor, wait.
Seriously, throughout my testing of the mirror match, I learned just how important it is to mature your Titans.
(Read on for anecdotal evidence.)
Both players play out early man creatures, leading into a bunch of three-power creatures, and eventually El Flametongue-o will come a-knockin’. Then comes the Beast Attacks, or maybe the Skizziks, which will fall to more Flametongues and a few stray Rages.
The first big guy hits. But the life totals haven’t changed very much yet.
(Barring any excessive slamming, of course…)
However, unless the magician facing this big guy has big guys of their own, it will get ugly, shuffling for game 2 style.
So you see, playing a turn 2 Kavu Titan achieves very little. It’ll look small next to the Elephants and Beasts, and exceptionally timid when faced with an opponent’s kickered monstrosity. This, actually, is also why I’m not playing Wild Mongrel. You have to lose a card just to trade with an Elephant, and that Elephant will have a friend, too. It’s just plain not big enough.
So how did I do with the deck? I won the whole shebang with three wins and a draw. And the draw was only because I kept an awfully slow opening hand out of laziness, and we timed out when I wasn’t looking.
“This is second extra turn,” my opponent says.
“What? Has turn zero been called? Ah, crap!”
“Yeah,” says Martin from the sidelines.”Why do you think I was standing there going ‘Zero, zero, zero!'” He accentuated this by bouncing on the spot excitedly.
(You had to be there…)
“Well Martin, I usually block out most things you say while I’m playing…”
(Martin once dared my opponent to attack his Filthy Cur into my thresholded Springing Tiger.)
(He’s not an overly productive onlooker.)
(Not that onlookers are supposed to produce anything…)
The deck I drew against was B/U/r with Nightscape Familiars and Vodalian Zombies. The decks I beat were B/U/G Haunting/Traumatize/Monger dot deck, with Nightscape and Stormscape Familiars, U/G Air Bears with maindeck Æther Bursts, and Combo Domain.
I made many mistakes, but still ended up with a foil Impulse for my efforts.
(Hehe, foil Impulse is about a gazillion times better than a foil Carnophage.)
If you were to play a version similar to the one I played, I’d suggest perhaps adding another Fire/Ice at the expense of a Horned Kavu. And make sure you leave the Thornscape Apprentices in there, they are gassier than a leaky gas oven, and for your opponent, getting around them is like trying to breathe cheese.
(Seriously, Alice and I had a nice salad with croutons last night, and I tried to inhale a piece of grated cheese. Not easy, and even less pleasant.)
You have a good chance of winning if your opponent/victim has to Flametongue your Apprentices and you get to Flametongue their Flametongues.
They’re also good versus Finkels, Reanimator decks, Spiritmongers, Questing Phelddagrifs, Dromars, and pieces of crud stuck to your shoe.
(Although not in the same way.)
Well, all that remains for me to say now is,
“Good luck at your State Champs!”
Bring home a trophy for me.
<Insert gratuitous smiley face here>