Where Are The Creatures?: A 5 Color Strategy Guide

Two hundred and fifty cards. Thirty-five creatures. How the heck do you expect to win with this sort of ratio? Well, mostly you use blue.

I thought it was silly at first: I read this article talking about 5 Color by the creator of the game, Kurtis“Fat Man” Hahn. But I kept reading, and it kept appealing to me. Playing with decks so big you needed an entire small box to carry one. Playing with 250 cards, who CAN’T relate to that? Oddly enough, I was playing a 5 Color variant when I first started playing Magic… But I couldn’t have known then. The deck was over a hundred cards, with a lot of janky cards, like Cosmic Horror, Tracker, and the ever-present Lightning Bolts. The best card in my deck was Nevinyrral’s Disk. People hated me when I played the Disk.

Andrew:”Okay, Pierre… There is NO reason for you to blow up the disk. All I have is a Serra Angel and a Mana Vault, and Mike just has a few Walls and a Pestilence!”

Me:”Yeah, but if I blow up the disk NOW, Mike can’t get his recursive combo going with Enduring Renewal and Diamond Valley. So…”

Disk explodes, leaving crumbling walls, and a beautiful angel tumbling to the ground.

Ahh, the good old days.

Needless to say, I have improved my playing skill tremendously since then. Well, I know which cards are bad and which are not, and that in itself is important. So when my friend Jon Barrett suggested I build a Five deck, I said all right, I will.

And here is what came out of my fevered mind:

White (25)

4 Armageddon

1 Land Tax

4 Wrath of God

1 Balance

1 Academy Rector

4 Portal Armageddon

4 Swords to Plowshares

2 Rout

1 Cloudchaser Eagle

1 Radiant’s Dragoons

1 Seal of Cleansing

1 Devout Witness

1 Gerrard, Capashen Hero

1 Enlightened Tutor

Green (21)

1 Regrowth

1 Restock

3 Spike Weaver

4 Foil Ernham Djinn

2 Spike Feeder

1 Fastbond

1 Dawnstrider

1 Yavimaya Granger

1 Harrow

1 Uktabi Orangutan

1 Squirrel Wrangler

1 Berserk

2 Artifact Mutation

1 Aura Mutation

Red (18)

4 BB Spanish Lightning Bolts

3 Thunderbolt (Very good, kills nearly every flying creature out there)

1 Avalanche Riders

1 Incinerate

1 Ghitu Slinger

1 BB Wheel of Fortune

1 Flametongue Kavu

1 Desolation Giant

1 Skizzik

1 Shard Phoenix

1 Disintegrate

2 Savage Twister

Blue (49)

4 Diminishing Returns (Timetwister for four with minimal drawback)

4 Fact or Fiction (Just noticed I had seven; that’s been fixed)

3 Sunken Hope

1 Mystical Tutor

2 Rewind

2 Forbid

4 Browse (Simply stated, an incredible card advantage engine)

4 Dissipate (Removal from game can be critical)

2 Collective Restraint (with a Five deck, more than likely this will make them pay four or five)

2 Treachery

2 Ophidian

2 Counterspell

3 Prohibit

1 Annul

1 Control Magic

1 Time Spiral

1 Stroke of Genius

1 Man-o-War

1 Time Warp

1 Trade Routes

1 Annul

1 Whispers of the Muse

1 Power Sink

1 Intuition

1 Misdirection

1 Guided Passage

1 Teferi’s Moat

Black (22)

2 Contract From Below

3 Blazing Specter

1 Fungal Shambler (Truly does not belong here at all, but I needed filler)

1 Foil Sengir Vampire

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Recurring Nightmare (Simply spectacular)

2 Planar Despair (Again, in 5, it’s a Wrath)

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

3 Hypnotic Specter

4 Diabolic Edict

1 Bone Shredder

1 Rhystic Tutor

Artifacts (33)

1 Masticore

1 Zuran Orb

1 Ring of Gi x

1 Phyrexian Processor

3 Mox Diamond

4 Fellwar Stone (Essentially it is a Mox Diamond that costs two, notwithstanding Armageddon)

4 Chromatic Sphere (Mana fixing and a cantrip; what more can you ask for?)

4 Lotus Petal

1 Citanul Flute (Very very good, it’s restricted and it should be)

1 Planar Portal

1 Scrying Glass

4 Nevinyrral’s Disk

1 Sky Diamond

1 Ivory Tower

1 Sol Ring

4 Powder Keg

Lands (100)

11 Mountain

14 Forest

10 Swamp

10 Plains

17 Island

1 Adarkar Wastes

1 Shivan Oasis

1 Urborg Volcano

4 Elfhame Palace

1 Reflecting Pool

1 Volrath’s Stronghold

1 Maze of Ith

3 Thawing Glaciers

1 Kor Haven

1 Llanowar Wastes

1 Rath’s Edge

1 Salt Marsh

1 Undsicovered Paradise

1 Crosis’s Catacombs

2 Caves of Koilos

1 Stalking Stones

3 Terminal Moraine

1 Strip Mine

1 Rith’s Grove

2 Mishra’s Factory

268 total cards, only 35 of which are creatures. This deck shouldn’t really win under any conditions, when you consider Five decks sometimes run as many as 90 or more critters —but I simply did not want to go in that direction. I assumed that my opponent would play with many creatures and solutions to my threats. By reducing the number of threats (creature-wise) in my own deck, I render those solutions inoperable. However, by going heavily in threat removal myself, I put myself at great risk from a similar, creature-light decks.

By playing with four Disks, four Kegs, four Wraths, and blue card drawers such as Browse, Fact or Fiction, Time Spiral, and others, I hope to impose my game past turn 5 or 6. Other decks that play with over fifty to seventy-five blindingly fast 2/2 creatures, often can put a huge dent into my resources in the early game. My experience has been, however, that these decks will slow down considerably once turn 4 or 5 comes along. I’ve noticed when playing against my friend Jon’s Suicide 5 deck that since he has no late game, I tend to win once a Dawnstrider or Rector hits the table. The Academy Rector can generally get me a Recurring Nightmare, Collective Restraint, or even a timely Treachery, all for the low low price of blocking an opponent’s creatures. Since 5 can arguably be described as a slower format, this allows decks such as mine to operate on the assumption that yes, I can work on a turn 6-7 schedule, following up a Wrath of God or a Citanul Flute with a victory condition of my own.

As for the ante cards, one will notice that Contract From Below (and only one copy therefrom) is the only such card in the deck. I played with four Jeweled Birds originally, but I found it was just too cheesy to switch antes, so I dropped them completely. Likewise, I will never trade back a Jeweled Bird I have won in ante — namely because I want to play for my opponent’s ante, not some crap common from Chronicles. Contract From Below is simply too good to pass up, however, generating a self-only Wheel of Fortune for the low, low price of a Counterspell or Swords to Plowshares; at worst a foil Ernham or Wrath of God.

Before finishing, I’ll pause and explain some of my choices.

Browse: Well, I knew as soon as I found this card in my boxes that it would have a good home in any 5 deck. As anyone who has played it can tell you, its search power is severely offset by its ability to remove four cards from the game every turn. This is simply not a drawback in Five. I played one game where I had removed fifty cards from the game, and won. The ability to find that silver bullet every turn makes it much better than cards such as Treasure Trove, Jayemdae Tome, or other”four mana for one card” effects. Because you actually CHOOSE the card, you get to weed through the lands and soforth that may be stopping you from winning.

Diminishing Returns: Once again, a hidden gem. You can only play with one Timetwister or Time Spiral? Wrong. What’s ten cards removed from the game anyway? You get a new hand of seven cards, which can spells ame, since you are still in your main phase. While you also renew your opponent’s threats, let me just say 7-11 never looked so good. I play four of these… And so should you if you have a blue-heavy deck. Besides, it lets you shuffle your deck, and that’s half the fun.

Planar Despair: One of those cards from Apocalypse that crept into my deck, over Pernicious Deed. Since Five will invetably have you play one of each basic land at some point, why not use this ability to it’s fullest? Giving each creature in play -5/-5 should be enough to stop even the most stubborn creature decks dead in their tracks. Big props to its blue cousin, Collective Restraint — a Propaganda for five.

Thawing Glaciers/Terminal Moraine: Play four of each, no questions asked. A friend of mine hates this card with a passion, mostly because it is useful and uncounterable, and thinks it should be banned in Five. I laugh every time he says this, since the last thing we should be eliminating in Five is mana helpers. Thaw is the best of them, and lets you get a timely shuffle out of your deck as well.

Guided Passage: I’ll probably go up to four of these, because they’re one of the few”tutors” left not to have gotten the axe. The fact your opponent gets to give you his choice of cards usually doesn’t mean much. The lands will give you mana, the creature will end up killing him or be a threat, and the last choice is a wild card. Play these whenver you can.

Well, that’s all I have to say on Five at the moment. Big props to Kurtis Hahn for creating the format, and to Ferrett for letting me expound on yet another topic. If any of you are in the Ottawa area, drop by Ottawa University and the Wizard’s Tower, I’ll be there and I’ll have my Five ready to take you on, whether or not your deck is a Fiver.


Pierre DuPont

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