Tangle Wire is probably the most interesting card from Nemesis. A few of my friends have been talking about it– I had gone so far as to predict it to be the breakout card of Regionals, saying that it would take multiple people to Nationals. The thing I find most interesting, as Bennie Smith put it, is that people seem to be evenly divided on Tangle Wire’s utility. Half the players swear by it. The other half think it’s chaff. It didn’t show up at all in some Regionals. At others, it placed very highly. Is it good? No? Yes? Maybe?
Let’s put it to the test.
First off, it passes the flavor test. Tangle Wire does everything it promises to do. It doesn’t stop anyone, doesn’t hard lock your opponent– it just trips everyone up.
Unlike the other fading utility cards, Parallax Wave, Parallax Tide and Saproling Burst, the Wire works more like a fading creature, counting down for five turns until it is destroyed. However, its effect weakens each turn, lessening its impact on the game. The first turn it is in play, your opponent is likely to have a tough time dealing with it. Tapping four permanents is a huge game swing, early on, often acting in the same vein as Mana Short. For some decks, this is all the time you need to wrap up the game.
Tangle Wire is virtual card advantage. Thanks to the stack, Tangle Wire allows you to manipulate it so that you’re getting a sweet, sweet deal. First off, if you play the stack correctly, placing the tap effect on, then the Fading cost, you’ll end up tapping one less permanent than your opponent, every time, as the counter will come off for the fading cost, then Tangle Wire will check on how many counters it has, for the tapping. Second, it doesn’t take a genius to see than Tangle Wire can tap itself as part of the effect, thereby lessening the number of“real” permanents that you have to tap. Overall, when you do the math, a Tangle Wire taps ten of your opponent’s cards and three of yours. Ten to three. That’s card advantage. Even if you only get to“keep” the card advantage for a few turns, it’s there. If the Tangle Wire deck is designed to optimize this window of opportunity, then the virtual card advantage might as well be actual card advantage. In much the same way that Parallax Wave gives a player two or three turns of free attacks, Tangle Wire practically assures you two, maybe three, turns of uninterrupted mischief. If you happen to win in those turns, then the effect of Wire/Wave is, for all intents, permanent.
Keeping that in mind, let’s look at three successful Tangle Wire decks from Regionals, as reported by New Wave.
Tangle Negator, played by Chris Ikerd
Finalist, Southeast Regionals
Tangle Negator, played by Mark Swoyer
Finalist, Northeast Regionals
These two decks are practically identical (sideboard Leshrac’s Rite tech aside) and both seek a great draw to win the game quickly. The hunt is on from turn one, as this deck seeks the Dark Ritual/Phyrexian Negator draw. Once it has a threat out, the only thing that’s going to stop this deck is time– it needs to win quickly, denying its opponent every opportunity to find a solution to the big attacker.
Between Duress and Tangle Wire, most decks are going to be hard pressed to hold onto or cast solutions. The key here is optimization. Tangle Negatron knows it has itself on a clock. Tangle Wire is on a similar, self-imposed clock. The two work well together.
Green Beats, played by Lynn Miller
Winner, Southeast Regionals
This Tangle Wire deck functions quite differently, using Tangle Wire in much the same way that older versions of this deck utilized Winter Orb– as endgame disruption. Because the deck is very aggressive, it’s looking for an endgame at the same time that most decks are building a midgame. It doesn’t matter if the Wire wrecks this deck, so long as it wrecks its opponent more.
Overall, Tangle Wire is a narrow, powerful card. While it becomes worse as the game goes along, it is very solid in the opening six turns, when permanents are at a premium. Since the first six turns are where the action is, look for Tangle Wire to be undermining your best laid plans, be you mice or men.
“Trust in all things high
Comes easy to him; and tho’ he trip and fall,
He shall not blind his soul with clay.
The Princess, Alfred, Lord Tennyson”
-Should have been the flavor text on Tangle Wire.