Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #10.5: Feedback

Hey, people loved Peter’s last article on Intruder Alarm combos – and so he has even MORE Alarming ideas to share!

Magic writers – or any writer, for that matter – put a lot of effort into their writing. Well – most do.* The writers generally don’t do it for the money; sure, you can get $25 in StarCity store credit for a great article**, but when you divide that by the hours it takes to create something worth reading, you make a lot more flipping burgers.

Writers write because they like to connect with their readers. They like to teach, to inform and to get feedback. That feedback is really important. Anyone who writes wants feedback. They love to hear what you readers liked, what you didn’t like, and even to hear the stories about similar decks and similar plays. (Personally, I love hearing those.)

Recently, Stijn van Dongen wrote that he didn’t get any feedback at all on his article on Reins of Power. Amazing – that was a great article. Here, check it out by clicking on that link above. See? I told you so.

Just a note: if you like someone’s writing, say so. Even a simple email like”Nice article. Thanks for writing.” is really appreciated. We writers love hearing from you, even if it you are just telling us to shut up – it is still nice to know someone out there read what we wrote. Besides – sometimes we can use your stuff to make an article like this one.

I got a ton of feedback on my Intruder Alarm article – enough to make my wife a bit miffed. (She writes for another site.) (Grrr – He didn’t mention it, so now I have to put the gratuitous plug in for CCGPrime.com!, the site she writes for – She’s good, go check her out – The Ferrett) It made me feel great. And it included a few other combos I hadn’t even thought of, which I will share with you.

First, several people, including Charles”SofaKing”, Stephan Tsochandaris and others recommended the classic Mirage/Tempest T2 combo: Alarm, Birds, Shrieking Drake, and a Tim. Nate Prawdzik pointed out that the Drake would work perfectly in place of Cavern Harpy in the Extended deck in my article. It does – the Drake can also bounce and chump opponents’ creatures, something the Harpy could not do. Good call.

Incidentally, I playtested that deck some. First game, I got the combo right away. My opponent had done little besides playing a Tropical Island, Treetop Village, Powder Keg (I countered) and Sylvan Library (resolved). Extended players will recognize that: Ped Bun/Maher Oath. What’s wrong with that? My kill card was Whetstone, not Stroke. Oath runs Gaea’s Blessing, which reads”If you get decked with Whetstone, shuffle your graveyard back into your library. Laugh long and hard.” That kinda negates that kill. I figured I could keep milling him for fifty minutes and force a draw – or until his sleeves or wrists wore out – but I hear the DCI is cracking down on stalling. Still, I guess the deck is still okay – I mean, who plays Oath in Extended?

Back to Intruder Alarm, and reader feedback:

Ryan Spilhaus and Andrew Zondag both sent variants using mana creatures and Nemata, Grove Guardian. Nemata is a lot of fun – he’s big, he generates a lot of tokens, and he can make them big. More importantly, Nemata meets one important rule of combos – the pieces have to be good on their own.*** I used Nemata in my G/U Opposition deck. He isn’t as good a Saproling Cluster, but he is a lot more fun.

David Sutcliffe pointed out another combo that looks pretty good. Here’s his email:”Back in TSE block I played an infinite millstone loop using Intruder Alarm, Altar Of Dementia, and KEEPER OF THE BEASTS.  Keeper is the key to your troubles.  Obviously you need them to have lots of creatures, but I got around that with Verdant Touch at the time.”

Add some creature that taps for mana and that will deck everyone. It looks really good for multiplayer – you could use Vine Trellis for mana and blocking (and it really helps make you look non-threatening…. At least until you cast Altar of Dementia).

I love the Altar. I have more fun building weird combos with the Altar. Here’s one with Intruder Alarm: Alarm, Venerable Monk, two mana critters, Bog Initiate, Altar of Dementia, Foster, Haunted Crossroads, Aluren. Mill them slowly and impractically, while gaining lots of life. Okay, Foster has to go. A better build is Altar, Fecundity, Crossroads, Aluren, Quirion Sentinel. Or here’s one using Carnival of Souls: Aluren, Haunted Crossroads, Carnival of Souls, Venerable Monk, Altar of Dementia.

Those are so bad, they’re good. I’ll play stuff like that, and lose five straight games just to see the look of horror and disgust when I kill the table with a Carnival of Souls-based combo in game 6. (Part of the joy in a win like that, I’ll admit, is because I can then dump the weird deck and play something good for a while.)

Okay, one last Intruder Alarm combo, this one from Adam Tew:

Intruder Alarm, Karn, Thran Dynamo, Hornet Cannon.

As Adam put it:”There is nothing like sending over instant SWARMS of killer hornets – from out of nowhere. And if you are feeling psychotic, throw in a Coat of Arms.”

So, you get an instant swarm of near-infinite power creatures, all with haste and evasion. I hear you can win with that. Very nice combo.

As I said in my intro to the last article, Magic has some basic rules. You untap once per turn. You draw one card per turn. You attack once per turn. Et cetera, et cetera. Any time you can break one of these rules, you have the potential for an abusive combo. The Intruder Alarm combos are about untapping more than once per turn. As for drawing more than one card per turn – ever heard of Sabre Bargain or Necro? Decks that abuse cards like Relentless Assault – which let you attack a second time – are less common, but do exist.

I was going to include a joke here about how I was working on a deck that would break the rule that you can only discard once a turn, but then I read the rumors about Odyssey mechanics involving having a certain number of cards in your graveyard… So I’m not sure it’s a joke anymore. Besides, Living Death-type decks have always revolved around filling the graveyard. Full English Breakfast was big on discarding or Survivalling creatures. So it’s been done.

Okay, this is still pretty short, so I have room to add a few snippets that didn’t fit in earlier articles, but seemed too good to throw away. Cut and paste is a wonderful invention…

Ever Seen A Pestilence/Protection Deck?

This deck started with a joke: shortly after the release of Planeshift, Ingrid said she wanted to play Kavus, so I told her I was going to play four Urza’s Armors. My plan was to play the first Armor, use Karn to make the Armor a creature and cast Pack Hunt to get the other three Urza’s Armors into my hand. Once I cast them all, I would be immune to her creatures. {Note to anyone that didn’t get it – multiple six casting-cost artifacts are a bad defense against 3/4 creatures that appear turn 2, especially with Hull Breach being both brand new and fitting the colors Ingrid said she would play…}

Anyway, Urza’s Armor got me thinking about another deck idea for multiplayer. Scarcely original – everyone has built a Pestilence/CoP Black deck at one time or another, but this was when Planeshift and Lashknife Barrier was new, after all. This one is not partner-friendly, but it is okay in duels or multiplayer chaos.

4 Lashknife Barrier

4 Thrashing Wumpus

4 Spirit Link

4-8 Wall of Glare and/or Cemetery Gate

4 Swords to Plowshare or Diabolic Edict

2 Animate Dead

R tutors {Vampiric, Demonic, Enlightened}

3 No Mercy {the flavor text on this card should read”Go elsewhere, young man.”}

3 Annihilate {it’s a cantrip}

4 Reviving Dose {deck thinning and getting ahead on life}

2-4 Disenchant {Vindicate, now that Apocalypse is here}

Appropriate lands and artifact mana

Have you ever put Spirit Link on a Thrashing Wumpus in multiplayer? It’s hilarious, right up to the point when your opponents stick your cards between your toes and set fire to them. What, your friends don’t do that to you? Maybe you don’t gloat enough…

Anyway, the concept here is to get Lashknife Barrier into play, so that the Wumpus doesn’t hurt itself, then Spirit Link it and activate it as often as you can. You should match the number of Walls, Vindicates, Disenchants, and removal spells to your metagame, but assume you are going to be target number one as soon as anyone realizes what is going on. In larger multiplayer games, add Syphon Soul and maybe Pestilence, since everyone will target your Wumpus. This is a one-trick combo deck, so play no more than 60 cards and all the tutors you can. (We play T1, so all the good Tutors are restricted.) Reviving Dose is here only because it is a relatively cheap cantrip and helps get you ahead on life if you are going for a Pestilence-style win with the Wumpus before getting the Spirit Link. Animate Dead helps retrieve the Wumpus if killed, or steals something else to use as an alternative path to victory.

Moving on, here’s a T1 tourney report I wrote up a few weeks ago – before Apocalypse became legal.

Type 1 Tourney

Ingrid and I played a T1 tourney at C&C a last weekend (actually, a couple months ago, now.) The previous T1 tournament, I played a Keeper variant (Keeper without Time Walk, Lotus and TimeTwister, because we don’t own them, and short some Moxen because Ingrid was using them.) This time I wanted something different, so I decided to play Pandeburst. I figured it was about time – I have lost to it often enough in Extended PTQs.

Type 1 Pandeburst is a little different from the Extended version.**** Vampiric Tutor is restricted in T1, but the cards you can add! Here’s what I played:

T1 Replenish

R Mox Jet

R Mox Sapphire

R Mox Emerald

R Mox Pearl

R Mox Ruby

R Sol Ring

R Ancestral Recall

R Windfall

R Frantic Search

R Wheel of Fortune

R Demonic Tutor

R Enlightened Tutor

R Mystical Tutor

R Balance

3 Intuition

3 Impulse

2 Lim Dul’s Vault

3 Mana Drain (we only own three)

4 Force of Will

1 Misdirection

4 Duress

3 Replenish

3 Saproling Burst

3 Pandemonium

4 Gemstone Mine

4 Underground Sea

4 City of Brass

R Tolarian Academy

1 Undiscovered Paradise

3 City of Traitors

3 Ancient Tomb

I love stupid combo decks. Yes, it has a turn one kill: Mox, Mox, Mox, Academy, Sol Ring, Frantic Search (drawing and discarding Pandemonium and Burst), Replenish. Wheel of Fortune and Windfall are far better then Attunement for digging through your deck and putting combo pieces in the graveyard, even if they do help your opponent reload. Memory Jar probably belongs here, too, but I don’t know where.

Yes, I will admit that the deck is worth a small fortune. It contains all the jewelry that Ingrid and I own – and I owe Ingrid a big thanks for letting me play them all. Ingrid was considering a T1 version of her trademark CounterSlivers, but decided to try an Ensnaring Bridge lock deck instead. Her decklist didn’t have any Moxen, which was great for me, but she probably paid the price. Nonetheless, she also made the finals, which was due more to play skill than to amazing cards.

I won’t try to do a card by card account – just highlights.

Round 1, I played against (sorry, forgot your name) with a fast R/G deck. He beat me down a bit, but I kept ripping through my deck and found either the Balance or a Burst when I needed it. His second game was pretty emphatic: turn 1 – Taiga, Kird Ape. Turn 2: Taiga, Kird Ape, Kird Ape, beat for two. Turn 3 – he didn’t have the fourth Ape, but he had a Bolt and a Rancor – but I had a Mana Drain. The Drain let me Replenish on my turn 3 for the win. T1 is just unfair.

Round 2, I played Barry with Sligh. He beat on me, he burned me, I comboed. What’s to say? When sideboarding, he pulled out his Ball Lightnings – they were too slow – for Land Grants, Emerald Charm, and Berserk. He did get me game 2, but my sideboarded Hydroblasts and the Misdirection meant I took game three easily.

Round 3, I played Gerry and his Nether Void deck. This one was scary. I pulled off a win by the skin of my teeth, mainly because of a turn 3 Wheel of Fortune that saw him discard a pair of Sinkholes, two Nether Voids, Mind Twist, a Ritual and a couple other good cards. That was eight (he had Library of Alexandria going) solid cards gone – and he drew seven stones. Misdirecting a Stone Rain onto his Library didn’t hurt, either.

Round 4, I faced G-Tech, who actually owns the entire Power 9. Game 1, turn one, he showed just what T1 is all about: City of Brass, Ritual, Duress you. I debated casting Force of Will, removing Mana Drain or Lim Dul’s Vault. I finally decided to let it resolve – and he took Force. Then he cast Duress number 2 and took the Drain. To finish it up, he dropped Black Lotus and cast Phyrexian Negator. Then he passed the turn. I played my land. He beat for five. I played another land and countered a Juzam. He beat for five. I played a third land and cast Lim-Dul’s Vault during his end step, when I was at five life. I looked through the first five cards, found nothing, so I paid a life and tried the next five. And so on. Balance was not in the top 25 cards, so that was game. What is more amazing is that if Balance had been there, I well could have won.

Game 2, when he tried to Strip my Underground Sea, I responded with Teferi’s Response. For the third time that day the response to Response was”Who plays that?” I do, and the cards I drew meant I went off a few turns later, comboing him out the turn before his Juzam and Negator would have finished me. Game three started okay for him, but when he Ritualed out a Negator turn 2, I dropped Burst turn 3 and froze him out. Negators don’t like running into trees – even Saprolings.

I was undefeated through the Swiss. No surprise – my deck was just unfair. We cut to the top 4, and I played Ingrid. She had made the top 4 without any cards costing over $30, and had lost only to the Sligh deck (When Sligh has four creatures out by turn 3 without an Ensnaring Bridge in sight, the end is fast and not so pretty.) She had drawn with Gerry and the Nether Void deck. But in our match, her deck just couldn’t handle my minor fortune in broken cards. She was drawing answers fast, but I already had the responses to them in hand. She was one card behind and one turn late both games. I owe her – after all, I was playing with the Ancestral I got her for Christmas.

Finals: Gerry with his Nether Void madness once again. He had a ton of land destruction and I could not stop everything. Game 1 he got a turn one Swamp/Ritual/Mox/Nether Void draw, and I didn’t have a Force of Will. Turn 2 he played a Mishra’s Factory and the beats began. He drew land faster and I fell into one Sinkhole after the other. Game 2 he again got off an early Nether Void, but I built mana and still comboed him out. Game 3, I made a big mistake and cast Impulse instead of Ancestral Recall in response to his Sinkhole on my City of Brass. I also took Duress over the land I saw with the Impulse, and cast Duress turn 2. He had two Sinkholes in hand, so my blue mana disappeared and I didn’t draw any more land before he got control. Damn – second because I screwed up. To be honest, I should say that Gerry won because he played faultlessly, and I didn’t, but who wants to be honest? Nah – I lost to mana screw.

If you want to play this deck today, add Wild Research. Wild Research is just the nuts in this deck. For example:

My opponent, the Evil Dark Lord:”Mind Twist for all your cards. That resolves? Okay, I play Tormod’s Crypt. Take that, sucker. Beat with Juzam. Now you see the power of creatures, oh wimpy combo player. Muwhahahaha.”

Me:”Hey, I topdecked Replenish. Cast it.”

Opponent:”Ha, in response, sacrifice Tormod’s Crypt and trash your graveyard. You lose, combo-boy.”

Me:”Crypt resolves. Replenish still one the stack. No cards in hand. I activate Wild Research and find Saproling Burst. Now I have only one card in hand – guess I discard that.”

Opponent.”Oh, @#%$@&.”

Me:”Activate Research again to get Pandemonium. Are going to concede, or are you going to make me go find it?”

You get the idea.

And I’ll add a quick note on Invasion block draft strategy, too. Not because it’s brilliant and innovative, but mainly because this already has opinions, casual play stuff and a tourney report, so I need strategy, too. Okay, Ferrett. where is this going to go?

Anyway, why are people not drafting green nowadays. U/G/x and B/G/x are strong. At Origins, I got passed four Consume Strengths and a few Temporal Springs in one draft. Consume Strength is not only a two for one, it is one of the few pumpers you can cast when your opponent has a Flagbearer in play. Okay, one of the few you can cast and not just pump their Flagdude.

Hey, many thanks for the comments and feedback. It is always appreciated. It’s even better when I can get an article out of it.



[email protected] or [email protected]

* – It’s still an effort, even when we base our articles on reader feedback, like this one. And even really bad writers have to work at it.

** – Ferrett, please put a link to the $25 contest for best article per week here. Thanks. (Just hit the front page, chief – The Ferrett)

*** – Okay – if the combo is so strong – like Trix – then the rest of the deck can just work on getting the combo, but Trix is an exception. For most casual play combos, the pieces should work individually – but work a lot better together.

**** – It’s not banned, for one thing.