Treasonous Frogs: Kappa in a Blender, Post-Betrayers

Dave takes a second look at his updated version of the speedy Standard deck known as “Frog in a Blender”, this time with added Betrayers cards. As if that wasn’t good enough, he also includes a Block Constructed version of the deck and tells the story of his losing ways at the Betrayers of Kamigawa Prerelease.

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Benjamin Franklin

I’ve always loved that quote. It’s not only literary and historic but gives you a good excuse to drink beer – not like I needed one. Sadly, though, I think I’ve discovered it’s polar opposite.

“Kamigawa Block is proof that God hates me.”

Yours Truly

I swear…every time I jump into a CHK 8-man draft on Magic Online, I scrub out in the most ignominious fashion. And the rare occasion I get to use actual cards, I seem to end up with the most crap-tacular decks. It’s either a good deck that gets mana screwed/flooded or just garbage in general.

But the topper was last Saturday, when I drove an hour and a half up to Spokane to play in a Betrayers of Kamigawa release tournament, got there late, cracked open a truly unimpressive Sealed Deck…

…and lost round one to a girl!

Before you send hate mail, please, I’m no misogynist. I’ve lost to members of the female persuasion before, and there are many good female players out there, like Mighty Mighty Michelle Bush and Laura Mills, to name a few. Heck, my fiancée beats me at Trivial Pursuit on a regular basis (which is why I’m marrying her – it was so prophesized).

There’s no shame there. So I play on…

…and lost round two to a transvestite.

Sweet merciful God in Heaven above, I wish I was making that up.

For those who were wondering, that is the point you take your ball, go home, and start drinking heavily. The martini shaker I got for Christmas got extensive use that night, I tell you.

So my Limited experiences in Kamigawa Block haven’t been that impressive. I’m having much more fun with Spirits and Arcane in Constructed.

In my last article, I discussed a rogue-ish deck based on the old Frog in a Blender archetype, a Sligh-like R/G deck designed to abuse the Spirit and Arcane mechanics in Standard. For those too lazy to find the link, it looked something like this:

Kappa in a Blender

4 Hana Kami

4 Akki Avalanchers

4 Hearth Kami

4 Sakura Tribe-Elder

2 Kodama of the South Tree

4 Lava Spike

4 Kodama’s Might

4 Glacial Ray

2 Wear Away

2 Viridian Shaman

4 Eternal Witness

2 City of Brass

9 Mountain

11 Forest


4 Stone Rain

4 Zo-Zu the Punisher

4 Oxidize

3 Guerilla Tactics

I opined that the deck would probably improve with the new cards from Betrayers of Kamigawa. Wouldn’t you know, that happens to be the case. This archetype gets a whole bunch of goodies, some which will slide right into the deck, others…we’ll wait and see on those.


As you can see, in the original build, we’ve got a few non-synergistic cards, like the non-Spirit Akki Avalanchers, simply because we needed more one-drops and it happened to be the best thing available. That slot can now be replaced by the far more synergistic and rather superior Frostling. He’s not quite a Mogg Fanatic-he can’t go to the dome-but it’s otherwise a perfect fit.

Blademane Baku and Petalmane Baku

We can remove the Green Baku from consideration for the deck immediately. If it granted a Kodama’s Might-like bonus, then, maybe. We don’t need five colors of mana, however, so off to the grumper it goes.

Blademane is much more intriguing. This guy can get insanely good in a hurry given the large number of Spirits in the deck. Drop it on turn 2, you have a potential 7/1 or better by turn 5.

He’s not much to write home about, toughness-wise, but if he isn’t dealt with, he’s going to present some serious problems.

Blazing Shoal

Perfect fit for an aggro deck, right? Wrong. You don’t have anything of great value to pitch to the Shoal in this deck – it tops out at three mana – and the mana you’d spend on the Shoal to hard cast it would be better spent on a cheaper Spirit or Arcane spell. Not a bad card per se, but compared to the White Shoal, strictly inferior.

Nourishing Shoal

Definitely not Scottish, if you catch my drift. [It’s Craaaap! – Knut, couldn’t help himself]

Flames of the Blood Hand

I mention this simply because it looks like a pretty good sideboard card against Life in Extended.

Cunning Bandit

When I first read the spoiler list, I thought, “Hmm, this looks interesting.” Then I started playing around with the card, and thought, “This might not be too bad” and then came to the realization that “Dear Lord, this card is incredible!”

No, he’s not a Spirit, and he starts out as a rather fragile Gray Ogre…but if you can drop him on turn 3 and he lives to your next untap step, you can easily flip him on turn 4 given that this deck is filled with cheap, cheap Spirits and Arcane spells. That can set up a devastating alpha strike, courtesy of a five-power attacker and the removal two of your opponent’s “blockers.” Oh, and when he flips…he’s a Spirit, too.

This card helps to shore up one weakness the deck has in Standard, which is a glass jaw, amazingly, to Tooth and Nail. Opponent Tooths two creatures into play? No problem. Just “borrow” that Leonin Abunas, Platinum Angel or Darksteel Colossus for a turn, which should be all it needs.

First Volley

Sometimes I scare myself. In my last article, I wrote:

…perhaps Betrayers of Kamigawa will bring more gifts – something along the lines of an Arcane Spark Spray, for instance, would be a most welcome addition.

And, lo and behold, we get a nifty little Shower of Sparks reprint in convenient Arcane form. One damage isn’t much, but it’s enough to take out Birds of Paradise, Disciple of the Vault and Eternal Witness, to name one or two. It’s also a one mana instant for splicing, which is the real value of the card.

I will now be taking my prognosticating skills to Vegas… and hope to avoid the crossdressers.

Goblin Cohort

As it stands now, the deck has plenty of one-drops, and since we’ve got a more thematic replacement for Akki Avalanchers, the Cohort isn’t the best fit.

This guy has a home, probably in an Extended Goblin deck – but not here.

Sowing Salt

I really, really tried to make this card work back in Urza’s block in a Ponza deck. It rocked when it worked. Emphasis on “when.”

It has been said that this would be a great card against Tooth and Nail, taking out those nasty mana-accelerating Cloudposts. But I think I have better answers than this very narrow card against a certain seven-mana sorcery.


Tempting, but it’s too expensive, both in terms of hard casting or splicing, and, oh yeah, doesn’t do anything if you don’t have creatures.

Gnarled Mass

Don’t laugh. Vanilla 3/3s for three mana have seen Constructed play before (Trained Armodon springs to mind), it is a Spirit and, at three toughness, gives the deck something with a little heft to it. That being said, it doesn’t do anything besides being a big Spirit. That might be good enough, though, as Kappa is very, very vulnerable to the likes of Pyroclasm or Night of Soul’s Betrayal. Fortunately, I haven’t seen those cards in a lot of Standard decks lately.

Child of Thorns

Another entry in the “solid but unspectactular” field, but whereas Frostling could feasibly take out a two-toughness creature, this one couldn’t.

Budoka Pupil

The Green counterpart to Cunning Bandit gives you an impressive 3/4 trampler for 1GG that also dishes out a few Kodama’s Mights to his pals, one that can be flipped just as easily as El Bandito as well. Would you run both in this deck? I’d be sorely tempted to try, but I don’t want to overwhelm the deck with non-Spirits.

If you have to make a choice, it’s going to depend on the metagame. If you absolutely need speed, go with the Bandit. If you think a bludgeon works better, go with the Pupil. Please, experiment for yourselves.

Genju of the Cedars and Genju of the Spires

Let’s be realistic. These won’t help you early in the game, when you want to be in drop a critter, beat down, drop a critter, later-rinse-repeat mode. One Genju is going to tie up three of your lands. But if you stall out in the late game, boy howdy, you’ll want one of these. They could easily fill the role that Grim Lavamancer or Keldon Necropolis (later Barbarian Ring) filled in the original Frog.

The question is, which one? I’d lean toward Genju of Cedars, which might seem surprising, but think about it: while six power is more impressive than four power, four toughness provides something Kappa doesn’t have much of; a beefy body. You could make arguments either way, but remember you are running more Forests than Mountains. [I say Cedars regardless – losing lands in this deck would seem to suck, thus you play the sturdier Genju. – Knut]

Roar of Jukai

Hey, a crappy ACC splice spell. And it only works on blocked creatures. This must be one of them “skill tester” cards I’ve heard about.

Umezawa’s Jitte

I’m really on the fence about this one. One the one hand, it’s fairly inexpensive with a cheap equip cost. On the other hand…it doesn’t do anything. However, it can alter the game with just one hit. Still, any creature it attaches to is going to get an instant bulls-eye on it, and, let’s face it, how many pieces of equipment have seen tournament play not named Skullclamp?

I think I just gave myself a headache.

Soilshaper (or lack thereof)

I know, why aren’t we playing Soilshaper in a Spirit/Arcane deck? To reiterate, my reasoning is as such: This is a Sligh-esque deck that wants to use up all it’s mana on each turn. Tapped lands can’t attack. But wouldn’t it provide you with that vaunted “late game gas” you need? Perhaps, but let’s not forget, this is a fragile 1/1 while Genju of Cedars is, well, bigger, tougher and a lot harder to get rid of.

My revamped Standard version of Kappa is pretty straightforward, with just a few alterations:

Post-Betrayers Kappa

4 Hana Kami

4 Frostling

4 Hearth Kami

4 Sakura Tribe-Elder

2 Kodama of the South Tree

4 First Volley

4 Kodama’s Might

4 Glacial Ray

2 Wear Away

3 Viridian Shaman

3 Budoka Pupil

2 City of Brass

9 Mountain

11 Forest


1 Wear Away

4 Zo-Zu the Punisher

4 Oxidize

3 Cunning Bandit

3 Genju of the Cedars

You’ve got Wear Away and Oxidize to further tip the Affinity battle in your favor, Zo-Zu the Punisher and Cunning Bandit for Tooth and Nail, and I decided to try Genju of the Cedars for various control matchups or removal heavy decks that could pose problems, such as B/G Cloud, U/W Control packing Wraths, etc. This slot is “up for grabs,” as we say, and could easily evolve into something more concrete.

I hate to lose the recycling element of Eternal Witness, but you basically have Hana Kami to fill that build (not quite as well, but still…) and, criminy, Budoka Pupil has the potential to quite the steamroller.

But, as previously mentioned, I think the true strength of this deck would be as a KBC deck. That metagame is just beginning to take shape, and I’m sure there’s plenty of room for a good aggro deck. Heck, the format is pretty much all about the aggro, isn’t it?

KBC Kappa

4 Frostling

4 Hana Kami

3 Hearth Kami

3 Sakura Tribe-Elder

3 Blademane Baku

4 Kodama’s Might

2 Genju of the Cedars

3 Budoka Pupil

2 Cunning Bandit

3 Kodama of the South Tree

4 First Volley

4 Glacial Ray

10 Forest

10 Mountain

1 Tendo’s Ice Bridge

As for the sideboard, I’m not really sure what should go in there yet. You’ll probably want Wear Away for Honden.dec, and should someone try to make a Dampen.dec version, I’ve found Sideswipe to be very effective. Genju of the Cedars, certainly. After that, it will depend upon what the metagame calls for.

While this is a solid rogue deck for the Standard environment, how it fares in KBC is a mystery. But, given the aggressive makeup of the format, I like its chances.