Well, I claimed last week that I was going to talk about MBC combo decks, and I will … sort of. The reason I shifted the focus this week was because I just read Sean McKeown article on NeutralGround.net, where he lambasted the PTQ-playing public for being little guppies and playing "Follow the Leader" when it came to deck selection. Normally I’d agree with Sean, but after the way PTNY shaped up I’m happy to have ten decks to look at. But in the interest of promoting original deck thought, I’m devoting this week’s column to rogue MBC deck ideas that aren’t really making big noises on the Qualifier scene, but still might be enough to start someone thinking down the right path.
A lot of people seem to think this deck is doable; that the combination of Green’s token-producing cards plus the Negotiations could eventually do twenty damage to an opponent. So I started with the token part – looking at Saproling Burst and Saproling Cluster, and Squirrel Wrangler – and then went from there. I chose to start with Squirrel Wrangler, and worked in animated lands:
Best case scenario: Turn one Forest, Groundskeeper; Turn two Forest, Vine Trellis; Turn three Forest, Land Grant; Turn four Overlaid Terrain. That way you are guaranteed a Forest for turn four. You can play it, get one of the sacced lands back, and then on turn five you can cast Clear the Land or Skyshroud Claim. This should put you at least four lands for next turn.
The Overlaid Terrain functions on two levels: One, it gives you the red mana you need to cast Kyren Negotiations. This could probably be avoided by putting enough Mountains in so you can get the red mana elsewhere. Two, it allows the Squirrel Wrangler to use his ability on a one-for-one level: Tap Forest for GG, sac it to Squirrel Wrangler for two tokens. With a Vine Trellis, Squirrel Wrangler, Kyren Negotiations, and nine lands in play –
your opponent takes twenty!
The Terrain Generators are in there to allow you to use the Groundskeeper’s ability and profit from it quickly. They get caught in Clear the Land, which is a nice bonus (I originally thought Clear the Land just affected basic lands).
The problem with Overlaid Terrain is, of course, that you sac the lands even if the spell doesn’t resolve, so that’s a prime target for countermagic. You’ll need the Groundskeepers around to help get them back. Since Overlaid Terrain will be a hot target, you have Jolrael and the Natural Affinity for backup. Between Clear the Land and Skyshroud Claim, you should be able to rack up a nice amount of land – at which point you can turn ’em all into creatures, beat down, or use them to power a healthy-sized Collective Unconscious.
I considered using Tangle Wire in this deck, since it really needs a few turns to get rolling. After some playtesting, it may go back in. I can already tell that the defense is low, so I’d probably sideboard something like Dawnstrider or Spore Frog against heavy beat-down decks.
Another route you could go is using Saprolings:
I won’t list out the entire deck – it’s not changing much, really. Although with Saproling Burst, it’s almost better to try and use Keldon Battlewagon. Between Cluster Saprolings and Natural Affinity lands you can make a beastie. I think I would keep the Overlaid Terrain in the deck and make it something like this:
Again, the Overlaid Terrain is helping you to be mana-efficient when it comes to creature-lands. You want as many land-men as possible for adding power to the Battlewagon, so only having to tap half as much to cast the Natural Affinity (or activate Jolrael) means you get three or six more points on the Battlewagon.
Now – this is now screaming to me to use Chimeric Idols, since we’re going to end the turn tapped out anyways. Pull one Vine Trellis, one Clear the Land, and one Collective Unconscious for three of those.
(I can’t decide, after thinking about it, if I think that the Overlaid Terrain actually speeds it up any. It might be better to pull the Terrains and put the Idols in that slot. Turn two Vine Trellis, turn three Chimeric Idol (which we can activate immediately to block if need be), turn four Battlewagon, turn five Burst would make a 24/3 Battlewagon, which is respectable.) (Problem is, your opponent could have a 5/5 Blastoderm out by that point.) 😉
All this talking about Overlaid Terrain has gotten me thinking about all the big, beefy creatures in this block. Yeah, I know it’s a roundabout thinking, but that’s just how it’s going to have to be. And any time I get to thinking about big, beefy creatures, I think about my favorite non-tournament-worthy deck: TurboMassive.
Originally I was thinking "Man, you could get out an Overlaid Terrain and then all your beefy guys come out at what seems like half-price!" But then I remembered that not only could TurboMassive outright cast its fat, it also had some fun tricks to put out even more guys. So after a quick search, here’s what I found:
This is really quite similar to Quicksilver Amulet, which is what I had been using in the recent Type-2 version of the deck. The creature restriction won’t even really hurt, I don’t think, because Green is just packed full of Beasts in this format: Hunted Wumpus (6/6), Lumbering Satyr (5/4), Megatherium (4/4 Trample), Snorting Gahr (3/3), Blastoderm (5/5 untargetable), Rhox (5/5 Lone Wolf), Skyshroud Behemoth (10/10 F2), Woodripper (4/6 F3), Silt Crawler (3/3), Thresher Beast (4/4), and Darba (5/4). If you want to get REALLY wild, there’s even Laccolith Titan (6/6) and Lesser Gargadon (6/4).
There’s also this:
At the beginning of your upkeep, each player reveals the top card of his or her library. If all cards revealed this way are creature cards, put those cards into play under their owners’ control. (Otherwise, put them back face-down on top of their owners’ libraries.)
I really like this card, but after some consideration, I’m thinking that there are just too many problem creatures that might get put out (like Mageta or Avatar of Woe – both of those would be bad). The only real response Green has in this format is Desert Twister -and that will take care of the Avatar, but Mageta will probably be harder to deal with (protected either by pro-Green or countermagic in most cases). The other side of the argument for Mageta is that we’re putting out bigger and bigger creatures, and if we’re forcing Mageta to Wrath each turn to stay alive, eventually we’re going to get some damage through. Because we can activate Belbe’s Portal at the end of their turn, it’ll be just like our creatures have haste.
The problem now becomes: which Beasts to include? And what else will we need to make the deck playable?
I decided to try Game Preserve, with the Twisters. If I end up getting burned by them, I’ll take them out.
The Firebombers are experimental as well. Since we’re relying on the Portal to cast our creatures, we can afford to go down to three land – we’ll still be able to use the Portal. It’s probably something that should be backed up with targeted landkill or Tectonic Breaks, but I was looking at it as at least a way to slow Mageta down, so that made it worth a try. Since we’re going down to three lands, it might be worthwhile to give Thresher Beasts a second look.
R/G BATTLE RAMPART
One of the decks from last week, I’ve been working on improving it. Here’s the listing from last week:
Surprisingly I got zero emails pointing out that using Skyshroud Behemoth in this deck was pointless, as it came into play tapped and I couldn’t use the Battle Rampart on it to good effect. I meant to change it as I finished typing, but got caught up finding that white enchantment for earlier in the article (Noble Purpose) and it slipped my mind. I’m sure you all knew that. 😉
I figure, why not? Skyshroud Behemoth was just in there because he was huge, and the Avatar is no slouch either. I figure if I come up against someone who wants to make a bunch of Saproling tokens, I can cast him cheap. *cough*
The other thing I found that I hated was the Kris Mages. It always seemed to me like I was wasting good creatures or necessary land to take something out. So I’m going to try Flowstone Overseer instead – I’ll still have problems against Thermal Gliders, but I hopefully will have mana out to where I can re-activate him in response to someone making their creature pro-red. And to help against Thermal Gliders and other fliers, I’m going to put in two Squallmongers.
I’m still looking for some way to speed up my mana, too. Skyshroud Claim is too conditional for this (in that it only gets Forest), and Clear the Land seems risky. I might try to squeeze in some Ramos parts, just for the additional mana burst.
U/W CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE
I’m really surprised that no one’s tried to come up with something to use Celestial Convergence. Not surprised; disappointed. With the slow speed and sheer amount of countermagic, Celestial Convergence could make at least an interesting deck, if not an effective one.
Seeing as how I have to protect the Convergence for seven turns, and I have to be higher in life than my opponent, I decided to use Blue as the second color. Actually, it will probably end up as the major color, since Wave of Reckoning only has one White requirement.
The perfect partner to W/U and Celestial Convergence and a little bit of lifegain is… Crumbling Sanctuary! Holy cow, what a coup that would be. Forcing your opponent to do even 40 damage instead of 20 should be enough to get you to 22 life and to have the Convergence fade out.
All that’s left really is to choose your lifegain. Rejuvenation Chamber, maybe? It’s probably going to be good to choose a couple of ways to gain life. Let’s start with High Market and Renounce, and maybe add in Honor the Fallen in a couple of spots just in case.
Geez, I get to this point and I’m thinking: This is already way too slow. By the time I get a Stinging Barrier in place and have a Wave of Reckoning ready, my Rebels-playing opponent will already have done at least 6 to me. AND he’ll have the Reverent Mantra in hand to protect his guys from the Wave to boot. So maybe Mageta is, after all, a better choice. Take out the two Quicksilver Walls for Magetas. My next instinct is to replace the Waves with Parallax Waves, but again – Reverent Mantra stalls it, and at least with the Wave of Reckoning I’m going to outright kill their creatures. So let’s leave that as is for now.
The Crumbling Sanctuary worries me some too, but I think if we can stabilize the board with a Wall and the threat of Mageta, we’ll be able to avoid removing all our good stuff from the game. The Soothsayings and Gushes will hopefully help us get what we need.
I also think the mana might be a little light, but we can playtest it and see.
It doesn’t take much to go rogue. Try anything. Take one card and see how you can use it to win. Pick a color combination that hasn’t seen much use yet (maybe W/R) and see what you can do. But most of all, enjoy yourself. It’s not a game if you aren’t having fun.
No idea what topics will be on tap for next week, but I have a feeling that I’ll be discussing a little bit about teaching Magic to new players. My wife’s boss’s son is interested in Magic, and I’m planning on teaching him some time next week. I’m also going to Providence this weekend, so maybe I’ll swing by Your Move Games and see what kind of secret tech I can quietly steal for you.