Updating the Metagame for Fifth Dawn: Tooth and Nail Matchups

My first installment took a look at Tooth And Nail and Elf And Nail and looked at some cards that could be added to these decks from Fifth Dawn. I also discussed a bit about what benefits Affinity would gain from Fifth Dawn and how they might impact the matchups for the tooth decks. This round, I would like to talk about the three other important matchups for the Tooth decks – Goblins/Bidding, Mono-White Control, and Ponza.

Welcome back. My first installment took a look at Tooth And Nail and Elf And Nail and looked at some cards that could be added to these decks from Fifth Dawn. I also discussed a bit about what benefits Affinity would gain from Fifth Dawn and how they might impact the matchups for the tooth decks. This round, I would like to talk about the three other important matchups for the Tooth decks – Goblins/Bidding, Mono-White Control, and Ponza. Here’s a look at the two decks I’ve been talking about, before we go further.

Tooth And Nail

2nd place at Regionals in USA, Elizabeth, NJ as played by Matt Kopernas


4 Chrome Mox

4 Rampant Growth

4 Reap And Sow

4 Sylvan Scrying

4 Oxidize

4 Tooth And Nail

3 Oblivion Stone


1 Akroma, Angel Of Wrath

1 Darksteel Colossus

1 Duplicant

1 Leonin Abunas

1 Platinum Angel

4 Solemn Simulacrum

4 Vine Trellis


8 Forest

4 Urza’s Mine

4 Urza’s Power Plant

4 Urza’s Tower


1 Duplicant

1 Viridian Shaman

1 Sundering Titan

2 Triskelion

4 Ravenous Baloth

3 Naturalize

3 Mindslaver

Elf And Nail

Random list compiled by me


4 Birds of Paradise

4 Vine Trellis

4 Wirewood Symbiote

4 Wirewood Herald

4 Viridian Shaman

4 Wood Elves

1 Fierce Empath

1 Darksteel Colossus

1 Duplicant

1 Triskelion

1 Kamahl, Fist Of Krosa


4 Skullclamp

4 Vernal Bloom

4 Chrome Mox

3 Tooth And Nail


20 Forest


4 Oxidize

4 Ravenous Baloth

4 Creeping Mold

1 Sundering Titan

1 Duplicant

1 Symbiotic Wurm


Goblins and Goblin Bidding have more than proven themselves to be amongst the upper tier of decks right now and most likely, for awhile to come. But what benefits do they gain from Fifth Dawn? Well, the obvious first step is to investigate the Red creature section and hunt for any goblins that could manage their way into the deck, along with any Red spells that could compliment the decks’ strategy.

Although no real winner shines forth in the creature department, an interesting removal spell has now showed up – Magma Jet. Unfortunately, although the spell is fairly impressive, Magma Jet doesn’t do much more than Goblin Sharpshooter, Sparksmith, and Goblin Incinerator have already been doing. Therefore, any new developments in Goblins and Goblin Bidding are going to have to emerge in the sideboard department.

Elf And Nail has shown to be more than capable of handling both of these decks, while Tooth And Nail has had some difficulty. When looking for sideboard cards, you need to search for ways to slow their mana production. The acceleration is what will more or less be the largest contributing factor to your demise, aside from the fatties who hit the table. Sparksmith may not have been as prevalent in sideboards or main decks before, but with the introduction of Elf And Nail, you can bet he’ll be making his way back into many decks and sideboards rather quickly.

Although Elf And Nail has great matchups against Affinity and Goblin Bidding, the deck has shown a weakness to Ponza style decks and the mono-Red Goblin decks. Triskelion can really help ease the pain against the 1/1 hordes and keep the field even, but the idea of dropping in some sac lands and a Mountain to play Pyroclasm from the sideboard isn’t out of the question.

For the most part, Goblin Bidding and Goblins don’t gain too much against the Tooth decks, but most likely, you can expect the Goblin Bidding variants to phase into the mono-Red designs to free up more spells needed to deal with the changing format.

Eternal Witness should prove to be a strong addition and help alleviate some of the problems that the Goblin decks present.

Mono-White Control

The answer deck. This deck always has a way to deal with what’s going on and abuses the Urza lands or Cloudposts to fuel massive Decrees of Justice. The excess land also helps to drop expensive game-altering spells like Mindslaver and cast returning Eternal Dragons over and over again. So what does this deck gain from Fifth Dawn?

Beacon Of Immortality can become a very quick headache and when you start to accompany that with Pulse of the Fields, well you better grab the aspirin. Bringer of the White Dawn and Mindslaver can equal a nasty lockdown with no sign out. Retaliate gives the deck an instant mass removal effect. Goblin Cannon and Avarice Totem are both sneaky ways to abuse excessive mana, although the Totem will likely not see that much play.

To help fight for the cause (meaning for the Tooth player), Eternal Witness will once again be a superstar for these decks and help bring back the threats that get destroyed early on. Unfortunately little else is really offered in Fifth Dawn to help against Mono-White. Any form of land destruction can really hurt them by keeping their mana acceleration down, and if adding Pyroclasm becomes popular enough, the addition of Flashfires may not be too far off base.


This is your worst matchup by far. Quick creatures, lots of cheap creature removal, and land destruction to keep tempo, all equal bad times for you. The Tooth And Nail deck suffers most, but usually has the fortune of being able to run Sacred Ground in the sideboard. Elf And Nail really has no answer for the land destruction.

The quick creatures can become a headache as well. Magma Jet is right at home in this deck and Beacon of Destruction isn’t a long stretch. To combat this front, the deck is going to need some defense. Ravenous Baloth has been in the side to help in situations like this, but it’s going to take a little bit more. I hate to sound like a repeating drum, but the Eternal Witness will really help here. Bringing back the lands that have already been destroyed is crucial.

Grab the Reins could sneak up on you, so you have to find a way to deal with that. Unfortunately, Fifth Dawn doesn’t provide many answers. More or less, you’ll need to play the deck flawlessly and take full advantage of any of your opponents’ mistakes to get the”W” here.


Tooth And Nail provides a lot more options than Elf And Nail, but Elf And Nail is the better of the two decks. Its biggest asset being the reduction of land search spells and the opportunity to drop the same gigantic monsters as soon as turn 4, plus an increase in consistency that arises when you get a chance to abuse Skullclamp. This is a complete turn faster than the Tooth And Nail decks.

Unfortunately for fans of this deck, Elf and Nail will likely completely disappear after the 20th of this month, since it cannot function well without Skullclamp. Tooth and Nail will still be around, but as I’ve already covered, that deck is a bit less consistent and explosive than the Elvish version. If it continues to see play (or if someone manages to make the deck more consistent), Eternal Witness will become a fantastic addition to the deck.

Extra Soup For The Those Who Read This Far

After looking at the Fifth Dawn spoiler, the first thing that hit my mind (no joke), was the banning of Krark-Clan Ironworks. The card is ridiculous and it amazes me how R&D let this one slip by. First Skullclamp and now this – ugh! Anywho, more on that in my next installment.

Speaking of Krark-Clan Ironworks, is it possible that this card could find its way into a Tooth and Nail variant? You could easily pull off an entwined Tooth and Nail on turn 3. Scary. Fifth Dawn still has many options left to be exploited, and if my testing has been any indicator to what’s possible, then the moaning and complaining that has already occurred about Skullclamp and Arcbound Ravager will only be the tip of the iceberg.

If anyone has ever been an advocate of Carrion Feeder, it’s been me. I even sent in massive e-mails requesting that a foil promotional Carrion Feeder be made. Well, despite me not”really” wanting that to happen, the heads of the FNM program have granted my wish and the June FNM card appears to be Carrion Feeder. Oh joy and rapture. I can only imagine the thousands out there cursing me and/or Carrion Feeder. How do you drop Lightning Rift and then follow up with this? Why not do an on-line poll on Wizards site? I mean really…

Before I go, big ups to all the people that played Lynch Mob at Regionals and especially to that certain someone who took first place at the Southeast Regionals. I’m not sure if he considers his deck Lynch Mob, or if Lynch Mob had any influence upon his deck or not, but it was nice to see something so fresh amongst the quagmire of Affinity and Bidding. Until next time – take care.