So I am playing Type 1 at the Odyssey Prerelease in Detroit when I notice some guy trading a Mirari to a kid for three good Invasion rares – an Undermine, a Skizzik, and I can’t remember the third but it was good. This made my blood boil, because there is no way a normal person would pay such a steep amount for a card that would likely never be of competitive tournament quality. So I approached him.
“Wanna play some Magic?” (I asked my unsuspecting prey)
“Sure; Type Two?” (He is out looking for food)
“I saw that big deck in your box. Do you play 250?” (I set the trap for my unwitting victim)
“I sure do – you wanna play it?” (He sniffs around the trap)
“Yeah. Do you play for ante?” (I raise my arm, ready to pull the rope around his neck…)
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
And that, my friends, is how you catch that most elusive of animals – the guy who rips off kids.
While, 5-Color Magic is played for ante, mostly that ante goes by unnoticed, never being a part of the game except for the occasional Contract. I created a vicious deck in the format that is specifically designed to take cards from people, often via the ante. This deck has been published on the 5color mailing list, but it has been changed a little since then.
With Darkpact and Bronze Tablet banned in five, and Contract and Jeweled Bird stashed in most decks by now, let’s take a look at a few other valuable ante cards – the hidden gems. We will start with the best card left:
Creature – Efreet
Remove ~this~ from your deck before playing if you’re not playing for ante.
Tap, Sacrifice ~this~: Target opponent may pay 10 life. If that player doesn’t, he or she reveals a card at random from his or her hand. You own the revealed card and that player owns ~this~. Put the revealed card into your hand and ~this~ from anywhere into that player’s graveyard. [Oracle 2001/08/24]
The Tempest Efreet suffers from several drawbacks, but the most glaring of those is its mana cost – 1RRR is often harder in Five-Color than 6R. So if we play the Efreet, we’ll need ways of casting it. And its ability also has three disadvantages – it has to tap, your opponent may pay ten life to prevent it, and the card is chosen at random. Each of these can be overcome to various degrees, but it becomes obvious that any deck that plays the Efreet will have to focus around it.
However, the most important disadvantage that the Efreet is supposed to have is somewhat mitigated. Tempest Efreet was originally printed in Legends, so losing the Efreet would be expensive, since it is a valuable card… Except that Wizards printed it in 4th edition. That makes Tempest Efreet one of the cheapest rares of all time, since it was printed in large amounts but was never tournament legal. StarCity sells them for a dollar.
When brainstorming cards that go well with the Tempest Efreet, I thought about cards which would duplicate him – like Doppelganger, Clone, Volrath’s Shapeshifter, and so forth. The problem is that you will lose those cards as well. Needing something more powerful than Clone, in a startling flash of brilliance, I hit upon another obscure card from Magic’s past:
Dance of Many
When ~this~ comes into play, put a token creature into play as a copy of target nontoken creature. ; When ~this~ leaves play, remove the creature token from the game. ; When the creature token leaves play, sacrifice ~this~. ; At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice ~this~ unless you pay UU. [Oracle 2001/08/24]
Let’s all take a second and realize how truly bad both Tempest Efreet and Dance of Many are – yet how amazingly good they are in combination. You don’t even need to upkeep the Dance of Many, just put upkeep on the stack and sac the token in response. Take a card permanently for free! (Your opponent might want to keep the token, though, so I use pennies here as a cheap method.) Plus, Dance of Many also was reprinted – this time in Chronicles. Picking up four is no problem. (StarCity price? Fifty cents.)
As the deck idea began to gel, I realized something very important: This deck would not be designed to win, but to take cards. Therefore, since you are playing for ante, the cards should all be cheap and easily replaceable. This deck will lose. A lot. Be prepared to lose antes.
Since we have Tempest Efreet, which takes cards permanently, let’s look at another ante creature – the much bemoaned:
Creature – Fiend
Remove ~this~ from your deck before playing if you’re not playing for ante. BBB, Sacrifice ~this~: Put target artifact an opponent owns in your graveyard and put ~this~ from anywhere into that opponent’s graveyard, unless that player antes the top card of his or her library. This change of ownership is permanent. [Oracle 1999/11/01]
The good thing about the Fiends is that they can be used the turn they come into play. They can even swing for one (mighty Timmerian Fiends beating commence!) and still be able to take out an artifact. Plus, the Fiends are not random – they take out any artifact in play. They are also mana intensive, but if we account for the large amount of colored mana for the previous cards, this becomes more doable. The Fiends do not have ten damage as a possible out for your opponent. And finally, being from Homelands and all, the Fiends are also really cheap (StarCity price: $.50). One rules note about the Fiends – the artifact must be in play when this resolves, or it is countered and you keep your Fiends.
There is another ante card, which will scare opponents to no end as well, especially during the first game:
Remove ~this~ from your deck before playing if you’re not playing for ante. Each player antes the top card of his or her library. [Oracle 1999/09/03]
Please note that there is no official errata for this card for play in five-color. As such, each player will ante only the top card – not the top card that is not a basic land, or a common or whatever. One important point is that many people do not know how to play when their opponent casts Attorney: In antediluvian Magic games, the only time you saw it cast was right before you won the game. It is so old and esoteric, that I doubt many have ever seen it played, let alone figured out the strategy. It doesn’t cost a lot, either, going for a mere two bucks at StarCity. One of the best ways I have seen of abusing this card is Temporal Spring – and the Spring will fit the deck very well, so we’ll play four of those.
Some of our other support cards will focus around the two crucial cards in our deck: The Dance and the Efreet. So, for example, we will play Glasses of Urza in order to find out when to spring the Efreet trap. We will also play Fervor, a cheap rare which will help stop the ante at the beginning of the match, and will also allow the Efreet to be used when cast. For enchantment recursion, we will play a full compliment of Auramancer and Monk Idealist. We will also play two Tragic Poets.
If any deck screams”search!” this deck does, so we will play almost every good cheap card available to us. Tutors are especially vital, and even bad ones will see play.
We will also need a good selection of removal, in order to slow opponent’s down while setting up. However, remember that only cheap removal can be used. So Torrent of Lava, Savage Twister, Shower of Coals, and so forth will make excellent cards. Some of the Seals from Nemesis will also make fine additions, since we have a load of enchantment recursion.
Mana is the shakiest part of the deck, and we will need to play a variety of cards to help out here. I swear by four Jeweled Amulets as the key card to help out:
1, Tap: Put a charge counter on ~this~. Note what type of mana was used to pay this activation cost. Play this ability only if there are no charge counters on ~this~. Tap, Remove all charge counters from ~this~: Add one mana of the type last used to put a charge counter on ~this~ to your mana pool. Play this ability only if there are one or more charge counters on ~this~. [Oracle 2000/02/01]
So basically, the Amulet is a cheap, both in price and in cost – StarCity price $.50, casting cost of zero mana. (Double Entendre: Priceless!) It helps make U into UU, RR into RRR and so forth. Also look for various green mana producers, land finders, fetch lands, Fellwar Stones and Gemstone Mines. No Cities, Paradises, or so forth, because we can’t afford to lose them.
Anyway, here is the deck list:
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Time Spiral
1 Diminishing Returns
2 Whirlpool Warrior
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Worldly Counsel
4 Dance of Many
4 Temporal Spring
4 Skyshroud Forest
4 Caldera Lake
2 Crosis Catacombs
2 Rith’s Grove
2 Treva’s Ruins
2 Darigaaz’s Caldera
4 Shivan Oasis
4 Elfhame Palace
4 Salt Marsh
4 Urborg Volcano
1 Strip Mine
2 Bad River
2 Mountain Valley
2 Flood Plain
2 Rocky Tar Pit
If I used a rare, it’s only because I believe it costs only a dollar or so at most stores. Lotus Blossom, Diminishing Returns, Whirlpool Warrior, Torrent of Lava, Tempest Pain Lands (ick), Gamble, and so forth cost very little in my experience. (StarCity has them each at $1, for example.)
The deck takes a while to get used to, so definitely play a few matches in order to get the feel. Remember that if your opponent wants to concede, then you still get the ante from the beginning of the game. Upping the stakes via a Demonic Attorney or playing the Efreet could cause concession. You want to stall by removing threats until you are set up.
The only thing you really need to steal some cards via Efreet love is an Efreet, a Dance, and one enchantment recursion critter. You do not need the Glasses – sometimes just hitting their hand hard and fast works. Here is a turn I had during my second ever game with this deck for ante:
I have Fervor, Pulse of Llanowar, and Tragic Poet in play. I am at five or six life, my opponent is still at twenty. He has four cards in hand. I play Efreet (he chuckles). I then play Dance of Many (he stares). I sac the Dance token, and he pays ten life. I sac the Poet, getting the Dance back, recast it, sac again, and get… Basic land (bah!).
I play the land (Efreet cards go into your hand, and you can often use them). I play the Monk Idealist in hand, get the Dance back, play it, sac it….. Exile (glad I didn’t attack). I think it was the 6th version, though. I then sac the Efreet… A 6th Painland! (Adarkar Wastes, I think). His ante was a Tradewind, and he didn’t want to take ten or concede (the same thing since he already took ten). He kept his Tradewind, and I lost a randomly bad card, which was easy to get back in trade.
(Have you seen a more parenthetical section of text recently?) (I have got to add”Efreet” to my spell check. I think Word is exploding on me.) (I swore I would never pick up this habit of writing parentheses a-go-go from one of my ex-girlfriends. Pretty soon, I am going to start writing adjectives or adverbs in a connected-words-that-bring-a-sense-of-accomplishment-and-chocolate sort of way. Then the transformation from”Abe” into”Ex-girlfriend, English Professor and Creative Writing Mentor” will be complete.)
I use the Prosperity as a way of giving my opponent cards in the rare chance that I might be set up, and he’s topdecking. It doesn’t happen that often in Five, but I want to be prepared. Ideally, look for Contracts early, and Fact or Fictions later.
The deck can get straight up burn wins, though. It produces a large amount of mana, and can do a twenty-point Fireball occasionally. Sometimes you even get the freaky Tempest Efreet win (play it, serve, and win that way. It happens). Another possibility would be to lean into land destruction, so that you opponent has good cards still in hand when you are set up, but I personally found that to be unwieldy. LD is less valuable in a 250-card deck, due to consistency.
I do need more creatures – even speed bumps. So I will look to put in some 187 creatures that might serve double duty. Maybe Ghitu Slinger instead of Firebolt, Nekrataal instead of Expunge, and so forth.
Timmerian Fiends can get quick concessions, however. If I have out enough black mana, and I play it, that guy with the Mox in play will concede. Another ante card you might want to experiment with is Amulet of Quoz: I found it to be too clunky, but you might appreciate it more.
Feel free to toss in better cards that are worth more money if you want. A Rector and Replenish would help tremendously, for example. The wishes from Judgment might also be highly valuable.
Now, I want to take a second, before I conclude my article and speak to the underlying core of this deck:
If you play this deck regularly, every player will hate you!
This deck is more than a simple Magic deck: Other decks are designed to win, or to have fun. This deck is designed to permanently take people’s cards. It is not a nice deck. I think of it as a sword. I use it against people who rip kids off in trades, who keep other peoples’ antes without tradebacks, and so forth. I use this as the sword of the just. If you misuse this deck, be prepared for the consequences… Which could include significant woodshed time. People will applaud you if you use this righteously, but they will kill you if your motivation is selfish. You have been warned.
This really is a fun deck, and if you are intrigued by the concept, please try it and let me know what you think, what changes you made, and so forth. I definitely want to keep track of this deck.
Until next time (to be Rosewater-ish): May your opponent always have a solitary dual land in hand when you sacrifice Tempest Efreet.