I am going to write a bit more about multiplayer, and less about T2 or Constructed. That’s probably good, considering.
I have been playing more multiplayer and teams games recently. While duels and tournament play have their place, multiplayer is special. For one thing, we have a lot more interesting decks. Anything is playable. Some decks just need a bit more politicking to win.
I have been listening in on the 5 color list. A lot of 5 color players revel in the variety of cards that see play in 5 decks… And sorry, guys, but 5 color is way to competitive to have any real variety. I watched some 5 color being played at the Indianapolis PTQ – and Contract aside, every card that was played I have also seen in multiplayer. However, I have never seen a Rancored Squirrel Mob win a game in 5 Color. Or Insurrection.
I have seen a lot of”typical” multiplayer decks in recent weeks. Merfolk with Illusionary Terrain. White Weenie. Squirrels with Overrun. R/B Specters with Terminates. Vampires / Blood Lust (it was a Halloween deck). Fat green. And more. The variety in decks is amazing – and it just gets better when we build new decks every session or two.
I want to tell you about two multiplayer decks that work well: One’s mono-black, and one’s G/W/R. The mono-black deck won nearly every one of the half-dozen or so games I played it in, which is pretty good for a multiplayer deck – especially once people started gunning for it. The G/W/R deck is new – I intend to play that this weekend. It should work fine – it has a solid setup, it’s pretty resilient, and has a neat trick to win the game.
The mono-black starts with a core extracted from the recent T2 MBC decks: Cabal Coffers and Swamps. However, since we can play T1 cards in multiplayer, and since playing G/B Survival and Rock variants for years means that I own Bayous, I’m splashing green for Naturalize and Pernicious Deed to deal with serious problems.
I’m also building this deck around Grave Pact, so that has an influence on the land mix. Now the trick with Grave Pact is to have creatures that can die on command, or ways to sacrifice them at instant speed. That way I can keep people away by threatening to kill my own creatures if they attack: Bottle Gnomes are a great example.
I remember one game in particular, where all three opponents had one or two creatures in play, but I had two creatures ready to die. I told them – yes, it was a bit snotty, sorry -“Now play nice, or I’ll clear the board.” For four turns, they just attacked each other while I set up my hand. Then I did clear the board and took complete control.
To do that, I need lands that can force the sacrifice of creatures at instant speed. Phyrexian Tower fits the bill, and produces black mana. Diamond Valley lets me eat creatures for life, but I only own one. High Market is its inferior little brother, but I do some of have those. I ran four lands that could kill creatures.
The next trick was a method of getting creatures back from the graveyard. Volrath’s Stronghold is solid and uncounterable, but slow and it interferes with your draw – bad in multiplayer. Living Death is too severe. Recurring Nightmare is okay, but it does not work at instant speed. Corpse Dance is the ideal – it brings back the creature, it has buyback, and the ability to sacrifice creatures means the creature can come back every turn.
The next step was to add creatures that could either sacrifice themselves or be profitably killed. Four Bottle Gnomes were obvious, especially with Corpse Dance. Faceless Butchers were worth considering, since you can sacrifice them immediately to remove creatures from the game permanently. Finally, Sengir Autocrats are also worth considering: They bring along three Serf tokens, so you can kill one serf to make everyone sacrifice one creature to Grave Pact, or kill the Autocrat, which kills all the serfs and requires everyone else to sacrifice four creatures.
Beyond that, since I was running a lot of black mana, I ran the standard accoutrements for MBC: One Mirari, two Planar Portals, Diabolic Tutor, plus some T1 goodness in the form of a Sol Ring, Vampiric Tutor, and Demonic Tutor. I did not run Mutilate – since Grave Pact/sac creatures does a good enough job trashing the board – and no Haunting Echoes, since it does not work as well in multiplayer. However, lots of black mana just begs for Drain Life, so I ran three. I also had one random Befoul, in case I had problems with a land, and two Naturalizes for situations where I didn’t want to Pernicious Deed.
Since at least four (and possibly five) players were going to be playing, I included some Syphon Souls for life gain and Syphon Mind for card drawing. As it turned out, we only had a four-player game, and one person was playing discard, while another was playing speed weenies. That meant that hands were often empty, so two Syphon Minds were not that useful and got sided out for two more Naturalizes. There were plenty of artifacts and enchantments around.
The fact that I had tons of mana and tutors also let me cater to my inner Timmy, and play some fat. I had one Spirit of the Night, one Avatar of Woe and one Hypnox buried in the deck. That gave me a lot of paths to victory, and I rode them all.
In one case, the game was slowly slipping away when I ripped Deed. I cast it with three mana up. My opponents were playing, in sequence, white weenie, squirrels (with a Riptide Replicator cranking out 6/6 red squirrels at that point), and R/B Specters/discard. I could kill almost every creature on the board at that point, and everything once I untapped. I let everyone know that, so long as they attacked each other, I would not blow the Deed. The first person to head my way, however, was going to see the end the world as we knew it.
It held them off for four crucial turns. At the end of that time, I had a Coffers and a Planar Portal – plus enough mana to Deed and kill everything of value on the board (except the Portal).
I never killed anyone with the Bottle Gnomes – but Grave Pact/Bottle Gnomes/Corpse Dance/lots of untapped mana did force some concessions. I did kill one opponent with Faceless Butcher beatdown, and one with Spirit of the Night, but most kills were accomplished with Drain Life and Mirari. The creatures exist for board control – the actual coup de grace should be administered with a single thrust to the heart.
The second deck takes advantage of an older card. Newer cards are almost invariably worded”whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to…” However, a very few older cards leave out the word”combat.” One great example is Venomous Fangs.
In the past, people have built decks with Venomous Fangs and Prodigal Sorcerers (also known as… Tim.) A Tim wearing Venomous Fangs can kill any targetable creature. The problem, of course, is that the Tim taps only once per turn – maybe twice if you have something like Ring of Gix or Vitalize – but with everyone else at the table is gunning for it, Tims will rarely be able to clear the board.
Now, however, we have another option for clearing the board: a Tim that untaps whenever a creature hits the graveyard. I’m talking about Goblin Sharpshooter. A Goblin Sharpshooter with Venomous Fangs is going to clear the board of everything but untargetables, creatures with protection from Red, and your creatures.
Of course, clearing the board is only part of a win – you still need to actually damage or deck your opponents. Obviously, beating with your own creatures can do that, but something that builds off of the Goblin Sharpshooter would earn style points. Dingus Staff (whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from play, that creature’s controller takes two) looks like the answer. At the very least, it adds insult to injury.
The deck will have to be green (Fangs) and red (Sharpshooter) at a minimum. Red is more of a splash color here, so a heavy commitment to green is warranted. The idea development creature for green is Yavimaya Elder, although he does not exactly combo with the Dingus Staff. Still, you would only be sacrificing him early on to find the parts. Once the combo is on the table, you can beat with him, since the blockers should – in theory – all be dead. Of course, if you are really paranoid about taking damage, play Land Grant.
My other favorite for mana acceleration in group games is Wall of Roots, which is beyond good if your group loves fast, creature-based beatdown decks. Wall of Roots blocks. In any case, play four Wall of Blossoms in a deck like this: A cantrip blocker early on is always good, since it digs to the combo parts.
Recently, I have had a lot of success playing Silklash Spider. My play group likes fliers, and the Spider is a hard-to-kill blocker that can deal with that threat. Although it is a little expensive, it can hold the center until the combo appears. The only drawback to Silklash is that it makes it hard to play Birds of Paradise, but it is possible to play around that. Alternatively, I will use Hidden Spiders, especially if I don’t have any other one-drops in the deck.
Birds of Paradise are very good, but people tend to kill the Birds on general principles.
The deck is red, so playing four Flametongue Kavus is probably worthwhile. You can even play games with Horned Kavus, which can gate the FTKs, the Walls of Blossoms, depleted Walls of Roots, and so forth, as well as providing pressure and some defense. They are also good if you play a Living Wish component, with Uktabi Orangutans, Woodrippers, Dwarven Miners and so forth in the sideboard. Of course, Shivan Wurms can also gate the same creatures, but you end up with a 7/7 trampler on the table.
The deck needs a few more threats. You can also throw in your favorite green creatures to round out the deck: I would probably consider Hystrodon, Multani, Verdant Force, even Gurzigost. However, the best options are creatures that can end the game, but also work very well with the Venomous Fangs. Three fit the bill, since all can ping a creature without tapping: Masticore, Shivan Hellkite, and Vampiric Dragon.
Finally, the deck could use some card drawing. It’s green, so I will probably play Sylvan Library. It digs, plus I can play Wooded Foothills, and maybe cycle Krosan Tuskers or Worldly Tutor, to get a shuffling effect. Or if you really want to annoy people, use Citanul Flute, which gives a free shuffle if you search for zero casting cost creatures. Sylvan / Abundance is always good, although I’m not sure I want to show my tricks, and I should not have to play a long game once the combo comes out. With any luck, people will waste Disenchants on my Sylvan Library instead of the Venomous Fangs.
Here’s my current draft, although I’ll keep changing it right until I shuffle up:
Sideboard / Wish Targets
Woodripper / Viashino Heretic
Embermage Goblin / Orcish Artillery