Towing Jehova, Visara, Jareth, And Glarecaster To A 2-3 Drop

So I opened my deck and North Korea called, asking me if they could maybe buy a few off of me – I had Visara, Jareth, AND Glarecaster. And I screwed the deck build. So after an ignominious defeat, I asked Alex Shvartsman and Gary Wise what I did wrong… And the answer was most distinctly NOT about the bombs. Plus, a possible Mobilization build that works? Check your States, man…

Editorial Note: Wow. It’s been all of four hours, and I’m already sick of this.

I’d like you all to take a moment to shut the hell up.

“Onslaught Sealed’s all about the bombs!” you yelp shrilly, your voices like nails raking across the chalkboard.”Nobody has a hope! It’s all about what you open! Skills? That’s yesterday! Game over, man, game over!”

Then you put on a sandwich board reading”THE WORLD WILL END TOMORROW,” throw on some rags, and go outside to preach The Gospel According To Billy Madison.

Let me tell you, my friends: You’re wrong. Dead wrong. I can no longer sit down; I recently had to have rectal surgery* to remove several molars that had become lodged deep within my gluteus maximus… And do you know why I had teeth in my butt cheeks?

Because my own skills bit me in the ass, that’s why.

But first, let’s go back to when I had the skills to win a PTQ, and read something I wrote:

“Truth is, getting the bomb deck makes you unstoppable… If you’re good. It takes skill to pilot a Limited deck, to understand the potential threats, to pick the right cards to put IN the deck. Johnny Scrub might have just taken everybody’s advice and gone with R/B/U when the deck clearly couldn’t have supported solid blue. He might have screwed up the mana proportions. He might have not have understood that this deck was pure aggression, and it was okay to throw nearly all of your creatures into the breach, because with eighteen slabs of beef on your side, you’ll be drawing some more soon. He might have used all of the scant removal on small creatures, blowing his tempo too early and then getting smashfaced by a huge Dragon or a well-timed Breath of Darigaaz – both of which I faced. He might have choked it in a thousand different ways.

“There are thousands of ways to screw up a God Deck.”

Irony, thy name is Ferrett.

So let’s get the relevant information out of the way: Yes, I did open a God deck at Grand Prix Philadelphia – one that Alex Shvartsman himself said that he’d love to have. I got handed a deck that packed Visara the Dreadful, Jareth Leonine Titan, and Glarecaster – three bombs that shut entire decks down wholesale. Bombs that serious pros might not kill to have, but they’d certainly be willing to bash a skater in the leg for. North Korea called me up and tried to establish negotiations for my bombs.

And yes, I did go 2-3 drop.

One of those games was lost due to a blatant error on my part – I tapped out at the wrong time to cast Glarecaster, causing my Jareth to get Cruel Revivaled and the Glarecaster to get Solar Blasted – in the same turn. That was a straight-up stupid move…

But the other two losses were because I misbuilt the deck.

Now. If Onslaught were really about the bombs, then wouldn’t I have made Day 2? I certainly had enough people telling me that.”Man, if you don’t make Day 2….”

But I didn’t. And a significant number of pros, many who were lacking bombs and facing the big ugly legends that other people opened, did. If this format was all about what you cracked, then I would have lost terribly in the Day 2 drafts the next day as opposed to scrubbing out on Day 1.

So let’s dissect God and see where he failed us.


Jareth Leonine Titan


Gustcloak Harrier

Grassland Crusader

Battlefield Medic

Unified Strike

Gustcloak Sentinel

Improvised Armor

Foothill Guide

Sunfire Balm

Daru Cavalier


Dive Bomber

Akroma’s Blessing

Now, I think we can all agree that’s strong white. I also had a Piety Charm as backup and Crown of Awe in the sideboard, but those were the only white cards that I didn’t use. In white, I have two flat-out bombs, a number of Soldiers to activate Unified Strike, several cycling cards to get to my bombs, some solid combat tricks… And Improvised Armor makes anything big, including (and especially) a Glarecaster.

Of course, even with that pool, I made some tiny mistakes. I showed this deck to Gary Wise and Alex Shvartsman, and they both questioned certain picks: They both argued against the sole Daru Cavalier, mainly because at four mana with no card advantage, they felt he was useless.

Alex also questioned my use of the Foothill Guide:”How many Goblins do you think you’re going to see?” I explained my strategy to him; when paired with my next color, I didn’t have many early drops, and I was putting him in my three-mana slot. I never intended to cast him as anything but a morph if I could help it – and Alex agreed it was the right call for a wrong build, because if I had used another color then I wouldn’t have had to play with substandard three-drops. As it was, I did.

So what was my other color? Well, I discovered that the legends about Gorgons are true – I took one look at Visara and was struck blind.


Visara the Dreadful

Profane Prayers


Frightshroud Courier

Festering Goblin

Dirge of Dread

Shepherd of Rot

Haunted Cadaver

Unlike white, the black wasn’t all good: I had the suck tag-team of Strongarm Tactics and Accursed One. But even if black was the right secondary color for this card pool, I built it wrong: I knew that I had relatively few Clerics, but it was a removal spell – I was thinking that I’d almost invariably be using Profane Prayers for one or two to clear out troublesome guys like Sparksmith and so on. In reality, it turned out that the only time I really needed to see the Prayers was against removal-heavy decks – which, of course, was when all of my clerics tended to die.

I also underestimated Anurid Murkdiver, which both Alex and Gary advised me to start with – and they were right. I saw the Murkdiver kill more people during my reporting over the next day or so. But my logic at the time was that I didn’t want to choke my six-mana slot with four pricey beasts, but it turns out I would have been wiser to do so. I kept two Misery Charms in the sideboard, which Alex questioned… But he couldn’t think of anything that he’d take out for them, either. He might possibly have started with one.

But this deck does not function, and I’ll tell you why:

It’s too slow. I’m not saying it’s a bad deck, but it’s considerably less potent than it looks. For one thing, you have practically no early drops except for morph – and none of the morph creatures get any bigger. Essentially, I’m playing with a lot of 2/2s – and red will be able to remove the creatures, whereas green will be able to outmuscle them.

I’m also removal-light; yes, I have Unified Strike, which is a fine card, and Dive Bomber, which help – but aside from Visara, once a fattie hits the table my only hope is to draw a bomb. I also have very little defense against flying creatures, except for Visara and the Dive Bomber. This is bad in a format where blue, red, white, and black all have flying commons and uncommons.

(Yes, the Glarecaster has flying. But if I’m blocking something with it, I’m losing.)

So what happened all day was that I spent my turns ramping up to six mana… But by the time I got to six mana, I was relying on my bombs to bring me up from behind. (And they did, but not in the manner I was hoping for.)

When I cast Jareth, she had to save me because she was my only blocker. When I cast Glarecaster, I spent all of my mana protecting her, while my opponent simply built up his force and waited for his removal to come along. When I cast Visara, I….

Okay, Visara worked nicely. When she came out. I admit, she was hot.

So the W/B deck didn’t work. What else did I have to work with?


2 Birchlore Rangers

Crown of Vigor

3 Elvish Pathcutter

Elvish Warrior

Invigorating Boon


Overwhelming Instinct

2 Spitting Gourna


Wirewood Savage

Um, thanks guys – but if I’m going to open up a deck that’s all Tribes, all the time, I’ll take beasts, not frickin’ elves, all right?

The elves were okay as far as Elves go, but I had no particular synergy aside from maybe Overwhelming Instinct and spending five thousand mana to do five damage to my opponents with the Teeming Millions of Pathcutters. I could tap elves to fix mana, which was moderately nifty – but the real gem, the Wirewood Savage, didn’t have enough beasts to support it… And the prospect of a Slice And Dice or an Infest clearing out my whole board didn’t make me happy, either.

Oh, and I had a combat trick. Maybe two if you count the Crown. I passed.


Nameless One

Airborne Aid

Aphetto Alchemist

Aphetto Grifter


Disruptive Pitmage


Mistform Dreamer

Mistform Mask

Mistform Stalker

Mistform Wall

Sage Aven

3 Spy Network

Now, Blue has a handful of decent creatures – the Pitmage, the Dreamer, the Stalker, the Aven – but its only tricks are the Mistform Mask, and two cards that rely on other Wizards to be effective. Everyone I showed this deck to dismissed blue – and it was promptly removed from the game.

However, the childish temptation to play with not one, not two, but three Spy Networks was nearly overwhelming.”I know everything you do! I know everything you are! What? No, I can’t actually do anything about it – what’s your point?”

So we’re through two of the possible three alternate colors – and those of you who’ve taken Logic 101 classes know that the next color must, by process of elimination, be the one that I was an idiot to pass up on. And indeed I was… But could you have made the right call when Visara was lowering her deadly gaze at you?

I couldn’t. Learn from me here.


2 Skirk Prospector

2 Lay Waste

Goblin Sledder

All right, all right – I started off weak, so you’d think it wasn’t obvious. But now the red kicks into high gear:

2 Skirk Commando

2 Battering Craghorn

2 Shock

Lightning Rift

Snapping Thragg

Crown of Fury

Lavamancer’s Skill

All right, so what do we lose and gain with the subtraction of black and the addition of Red?

Well, for one thing, we get a vastly superior creature base. We can safely relegate white’s Daru Cavalier and Foothill Warrior to the sideboard, making our three-drop slot is tremendous. Not only do we have five Turn 3 morph plays in red alone, but all of them morph solidly. Furthermore, we have the classic red conundrum; do they block and face a Craghorn and a Shock, or do they let it past and get a Shock to their Sparkmaster? Or do they eat a Whipcorder while they let something vicious slide into their face?

The added removal obviates the lack of defense against fliers that the W/B build had; Shock ’em. Furthermore, the Lightning Rift is insane; not only do you have three cycling cards of your own, but you can Shock at will if someone dares you to cycle. I underestimated this card because I’d never seen it in action – which, if I had practiced, I would have known.

The lesson to be learned here is that if you have a bomb, support it – and don’t be afraid to leave bombs in the sideboard if your commons can pick up the slack. I didn’t have enough cards to support Jareth and Glarecaster the way I should have; with the red, I would have been able to force my opponents to use up their removal in the early game to deal with my army, making the Jareth and Glarecaster a very deadly threat indeed…

But I didn’t know the format well enough. I knew it back in Invasion because I practiced. I knew a little bit about Odyssey Sealed because I did some test decks. But I didn’t practice Onslaught at all…

And it cost me.

So stop whining. Stop saying that this format’s so stupid because it’s all about the big cards, and yadda… Yes, the big cards certainly help, but they don’t win you the game.

You win you the game. Never forget that.

For God’s sake, don’t let my sacrifice be in vain.

Special Side Bonus Note:

With regards to last week’s anti-Mobilization article, I got several people thanking me, saying that hey, they’d been banging their heads against the wall and couldn’t get it to work either – and were grateful that they could give up testing the damn thing.

On the other hand, I got a very few people saying that their Mobo builds worked.

The difference? Lifegain.

Sure enough, they threw in some of that cycling white card that gets you life, and they said that made all the difference against Sligh…. And this may be true. I’m telling you this because if you’ve given up on Mobo, hey! Maybe it does work.

But me? I refuse to play with lifegain.

I remember when Odyssey and 7th first rotated into Standard, and people said the same thing:”Hey, my blue/white control deck works wonders! I put in three Gerrard’s Wisdoms, and you’d be surprised how well it does!”

Well, U/W Control never turned out to be a major force on the Standard scene – and especially not with lifegain. Now, I admit I may be biased – but I can’t take a deck seriously that has card slots devoted to effects that do nothing but stall. I’m of the distinct opinion that if you have to play with lifegain to pull out the win, maybe you should look for a better deck.

Not to mention that I still find the lack of synergy disgusting, the mana whoring that it needs terrible, the counters weak, the card drawing nonexistent, the path to victory narrow… And in general, I find this deck to be a corn-studded turd at the county fair. I hate this deck. I don’t think it works.

But hey, I’m not a genius – and as it turns out, I’m not even going to States. So in these last days, do yourself a favor and test CounterMobilization with *cough* lifegain.

But to cover my ass if a deck packing Mobilization breaks through, I did hear from several people who said they’d had success with Mobo as a backup plan. They had some other path to victory, like Exalted Angel or a dedicated soldier deck or some other such silliness, and Mobilization helped fortify a couple of weaknesses in their deck. That’s fine. That’s not a Mobilization deck, but that’s absolutely fine.

So go get ’em for States, tiger. And God bless.

Signing off,

The Ferrett

The Here Edits This Here Site Here Guy

[email protected]

P.S. – If you haven’t read Towing Jehova, you really should. It’s a rather bizarre, but compellingly-written, story about the death of God; he dies, and his five-mile-long body shows up at the zeroth latitude and longitude. The angels, in mourning and dying like flies, ask the captain of an oil tanker to tow God – hence the title – to his final resting place in the Antarctic. The journey is the story, and it never lets up.

The sequels? Not quite as good. But still neat, as Danny Mandel might say.

* – Hi, Andy!