Tribal Thriftiness #28 – Timmy!

Read Dave Meeson every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, June 19th – Hey, we all start out as Timmies. Okay, maybe not some of the hardcore Pros… but Dave certainly did. Shadowmoor has sent Dave on a trip down Memory Lane, fondly remembering the big tramply creatures with which he used to attack.

This article started as a look at dollar rares for Shadowmoor, but as I was looking at the list, I remembered a couple of rares that stood out to me as reflections on my beginnings in Magic. It made me long for the days where I could attack with giant tramply creatures. Nowadays it’s all hasty fliers – which is nice, don’t get me wrong! – and creature removal, and card advantage nonsense. I want to get back to my inner Timmy a little.

Make Them Remember You With A Dramatic Entrance

Dramatic Entrance ($1) is a card that makes me fondly recall my childhood. Well, my Magical childhood. My actual childhood had magic too, but it was more of the card trick variety. (I won a talent show in third grade with my act.) In any case, it was 1998 or ‘99 or so, before the invention of the Internetz, or at least before Al Gore really popularized it, so there were very few resources out there if you were looking for deck ideas. Anything you read or heard about, it either came from the newsgroups or from the Dojo.

I was still a Timmy. I was still stuck in the Green mindset, which I would argue is where most new players start out. (It’s the ‘bigger is better’ mentality.) So when Jamie Wakefield started talking about this deck that made giant Verdant Forces on turn 3, obviously my interest was piqued. The deck featured Natural Order as a way to get Verdant Forces into play early; after a few turns making tokens, usually an Overrun arrived to finish off the opponent.

Here’s the decklist:

Secret Force by Jamie Wakefield circa 1998-99

3 Elvish Lyrist
4 Fyndhorn Elves
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Spike Feeder
2 Spike Weaver
3 Uktabi Orangutan
3 Verdant Force
4 Wall of Roots
4 Creeping Mold
4 Natural Order
3 Overrun

3 Gaea’s Cradle
16 Forest
3 Wasteland

It’s actually 60 cards, which is odd for a Jamie Wakefield deck. In any event, I went out and bought the Natural Orders and the Verdant Forces and played this deck (and only this deck) for… a good long time. In fact, the next deck memory I have is of playing Counter-Rebels, so that should tell you something.

So when I first saw Dramatic Entrance, obviously my mind wandered back to those days of playing early giant Verdant Forces and longed to sleeve up the big Saproling-generating 7/7 …

Hey wait… they reprinted Verdant Force in Tenth Edition, didn’t they? And Overrun? And Wall of Roots and Spike Feeder are in Time Spiral? In fact, most of the cards in this decklist are available, or at least a functional replacement. You can replace the Fyndhorn Elves with Boreal Druids, giving you eight one-drop mana accelerators. You can replace Uktabi Orangutan with Viridian Shaman if you think you still want artifact destruction. Heck, we even have an Elvish Lyrist analogy in Elvish Hexhunter. It looks, my friends, like it’s time for a rebirth.

Rare Cost Summary:
Verdant Force (4 x $2.50 = $10.00)
Rhys the Redeemed (2 x $2.50 = $5.00)
Vorosh, the Hunter (1 x $1.50 = $1.50)
Dramatic Entrance (4 x $1.00 = $4.00)

Besides the straight analogies, what did I change? I cut back on one Viridan Shaman (there just aren’t as many artifacts to destroy nowadays) for one Vorosh, the Hunter. Later versions of Secret Force would run Sliver Queen in the sideboard as another “Green” creature, and I think Vorosh is a great one to consider here. End-of-turn-3 Vorosh seems like it could be hard to deal with – the fact that he’s Terror-proof is just a nice side benefit to the 6/6 flying body, no wait, 12/12, no wait …

The two Spike Weavers became two Rhys the Redeemed. He comes down early enough to act as a virtual Fog, providing you with ground blockers until your bigger guys come online. He also has great synergy with Verdant Force (double those Saprolings!) and with the game-finishing Overrun.

I think you could make the Creeping Molds into Harmonizes. Alternately, you could go all-out land-destruction and change the Overruns (maybe?) into Mwonvuli Acid-Mosses. [What about Kitchen Finks for Spike Feeder? — Craig, intrigued]

Sadly, there is no substitute for Gaea’s Cradle. I put in the charge lands because I know how important it was to have the ability to hard-cast the Verdant Force, but they really pair in comparison. The manabase grows some Treetop Villages to help with dealing damage.

I really like this idea. I went ahead and ordered the Dramatic Entrances, even.

Relive Your Summer Camp Experiences With An Impromptu Raid

I also played Sneak Attack – but not the cheaty version that some people ran. My Sneak Attack deck had all creatures that it could actually cast if I never got Sneak Attack, and also utilized the awesome Weatherseed Treefolk, which came back to your hand every turn for more Sneaky Goodness. Impromptu Raid ($1) probably will take a little more work, since it’s “from the top of the deck” rather than “from your hand.” You could potentially go ahead and put it into Secret Force Redux and just live off the top of the deck every once in a while. But with the amount of deck manipulation that we have available to us, maybe it would be worthwhile to explore other options …

Scry? Would be great. The ability to reorder the top of your library before activating Impromptu Raid would be very beneficial, guaranteeing that you get that hasty creature every turn. The problem is… well, the Green options for Scry are Llanowar Empath, and he forces you to reveal the top card of your library and put it in your hand if it’s a creature. Kinda… counter-productive. Red has Riddle of Lightning, and while it would be nice to put a big fattie on top of your library for both the Riddle and the Raid, the casting cost means that you probably aren’t going to cast Riddle and activate the Raid at the same time.

You could use Clash, but that doesn’t really help you ensure that there’s a big creature on the top of your library unless there already is a creature on top of your library… in which case, you could just blindly activate Impromptu Raid and have about as much success.

No, it appears we are going to need a second color. And I think everyone’s first instinct for “library manipulation” is probably going to be Blue. Ponder not only lets you set up a Raid, but also draws you a card. Mystic Speculation gives you the ability to continuously dig for a creature card if you really need one on top. I’d even consider Sage of Epityr, since you can trigger Impromptu Raid as many times as you have the mana – put him into play with the Raid, and then fetch something bigger!

So once you’ve settled on Blue, do you go Red or Green? The Raid goes either way. I’m sticking with Green because I want to make sure my Raid’ed creatures are at the very least big and tramply.

Rare Cost Summary:
Impromptu Raid (4 x $1.00 = $4.00)
Avatar of Might (4 x $2.50 = $10.00)
Vigor (4 x $3.00 = $12.00)
Woodfall Primus (3 x $1.50 = $4.50)
Mystic Snake (2 x $2.50 = $5.00)

This deck is made for Vigor. Get one on top, activate Raid, smash for six, and then let him go back into your library to be fetched up all over again! If the game goes long, it’s possible that you could get to a point where all you have left in your library is four Vigors… in which case, you know you’ll always hit a creature with Impromptu Raid. I guess.

Avatar of Might and Woodfall Primus round out the “big tramply threat” portion of our decklist. It’s not too bad that you can cast the Avatar on the cheap in most games against Faeries and Elves and other creature decks. Woodfall Primus and Kitchen Finks both fall into the “funny Persist interaction” department, as if you put them into play with the Raid, they’ll die at the end of the turn and come back with their -1/-1 counter. Mystic Snake is a “stupid pet trick.” Keep one floating on top of your deck and surprise your opponent with a counterspell on their turn.

Rares you could add, if you had ‘em: The manabase could use some help, so Yavimaya Coast would be the first card I would add.

Those decks are both awesomely hilarious – and truly indicative of the Timmy that I was oh so many years ago. I think I’m feeling a little … *sniff* … nostalgic …

Until next week!