I have been looking over Onslaught and thinking about multiplayer, and the new Word cycle just keeps coming to mind.
Words of Worship isn’t my speed. I don’t much like Congregate, either, so don’t look at me for a Howling Mine, Test of Endurance, Congregate, Orim’s Prayer, Humility decklist. (However, I will mention that splashing red for Infectious Rage is pretty funny when combined with Humility.)
Words of War is probably not a multiplayer card. You could have some fun with a massive mana engine and Prosperity, but Obstinate Familiar is one mana cheaper in that case. Actually, if any of your opponents have methods of putting cards back into their libraries, like Soldevi Digger or Krosan Reclamation, then maybe Word of Shock is better than the Obstinate one. Of course, if you have the ability to generate a ton of mana, and can then resolve a big sorcery, Fireball is just as good at killing everyone as Prosperity/Word of Shock, and does it with less warning.
Words of Wind is annoying without really providing any protection. If you force everyone to pick up their stuff, and skip draws to do so, you are probably going to be weak and defenseless. At the same time, you will have pissed off the whole table. That’s a pretty good plan for being first out of the game – so unless you have a book you really want to finish or have some strong desire to be the one sent for munchies, don’t play that deck.
Words of Waste is also not my favorite option – for much the same reasons. You could combine this with Megrim… But you are relying on the opponents not being able to play the cards they drew to have Megrim function, and you are making yourself hated once again. Nothing pisses most people off quite like being forced to discard a really good card, and few thing can unite a table against one person quite as fast as a Megrim/discard deck.
That leaves Word of Bears (okay, Words of Wilding); whenever you could draw a card, you can pay one mana and put a 2/2 bear into play. In other words, instead of drawing a card, you can get a free 2/2. That’s not all that bad – although it is nothing to go nuts over. (Actually, you go nuts over squirrels – I’m not sure what you do over bears.) However, you can teach bears to do some interesting tricks.
First off, I want to compliment Bruce Richard on his article on not being noticed in multiplayer. I’m not just inserting a link because he compliments me in his article – well, okay, it didn’t hurt – but also because he makes some good points. Looking really threatening, or even standing out, can get you killed in multiplayer. Remember the old Monty Python skit -“How not to be Seen?” When you stand up, you get shot. It’s important not to stand up – at least, not until you are doing the shooting. At that point, make sure you kill everyone – in sight or in hiding.
The deck is going to be green and blue – I’ll say that, but I’m saving the blue finisher until later.
The deck needs to start with some innocuous (look it up) green cards. I like Wall of Blossoms because it digs, generally sends any early beats elsewhere and looks completely non-threatening. Jungle Barrier is in the same category. Wall of Mulch is similar, and might be worth including if we ran Wall of Roots, but I don’t see much need for that kind of mana acceleration here. Jungle Barrier is probably better, since it kills small attackers, so while opponent might be willing to send three 2/2s at you when you have a Wall of Blossoms, Jungle Barrier can redirect them elsewhere. Play Wall of Blossoms if your opponents favor speed or if you need to smooth the mana, but play Jungle Barrier in all other cases.
The deck also wants some mana creatures. Birds of Paradise are an automatic inclusion – a one drop, they produce all colors of mana, and they are (generally) not a win condition so they are not considered a threat. More mana creature are also needed – in the end, we will want a mana creature when the deck goes off. Quirion Elves, Utopia Tree, or Urborg Elf are good choices – they can provide green or blue mana. Vine Trellis is also a candidate – it provides mana, defense, and keeps people from worrying about you playing some fast and scary Elf deck.
The next facet is some removal for those annoying enchantments, lands, and artifacts that cause problems. Chain of Acid looks interesting; at worst, you may lose a land or two, but you probably won’t have any enchantments out until you are ready to win, so it won’t be crippling. Chain of Acid is also pretty good for destroying a problem card while not annoying everyone, since the person who lost something can usually console themselves by trashing something else. Even if the Chain starts some insane Armageddon/Serenity combo, with elves, birds and some card drawing, you should still do okay.
Actually, I do have one enchantment that I like in green multiplayer decks: Hidden Spider. It’s a one-drop. If my opponents are playing fliers, it says”go elsewhere; this is not the defender you are seeking.” And if someone wastes their Disenchant on this, more power to them – better this than the Words.
Now for the card drawing. Because of the combo below, we want creature-based card drawing. That means three cards: Archivist, Sindbad, and Arcanis, although Karn, Silver Golem and Urza’s Blueprints can also work if you want to add artifacts, and Quicksilver Dagger can be very strong, if you want to add a splash of red. Sindbad is pretty weak – at least until you get Word of Bears out. At that point, since the draw gets replaced, you will not have to discard cards. On the plus side, once they have read Sindbad, most opponents will let you keep him, unless you appear manascrewed. Even with Words of Bears in play, you can refer to Sindbad as”Bullwinkle,” and people will just smile when you demonstrate how he can pull a bear out of his hat every turn.
The next step is a Tim of some kind; Prodigal Sorcerer is the classic. You can usually justify him as defense against Royal Assassins, shadow creatures, and people trying to Control Magic Sindbad or Archivist – and those reasons are actually pretty true. The fact that he is an additional win condition is just a bonus. Stinging Barrier is another possibility, but it is not as good. Suq’Ata Firewalker is less vulnerable to burn spells. People may prick up their ears a bit at a Tim – but it’s not like you cast Morphling or Multani. (Note: I’m throwing in a Silvos, Ancient Silverback, or Mahamoti Djinn – something large and reasonably threatening to make the opponents worry about that instead of your real path. Just don’t make it too difficult to get rid of – you don’t want them to kill you, just the sacrificial creature.)
Okay, so far the deck is sufficiently non-threatening. Imagine sitting back with a half dozen lands, a Prodigal Sorcerer, Words of Wilding, Sindbad, a Quirion Elf, and four 2/2 bears in play. Pretty harmless – even an Overrun won’t do all that much. Oh, and two Arcane Denials, a Jungle Barrier and Force of Will in hand – because you are about to tap 3 mana and play a card that says game over. Counter protection is probably necessary.
Any guesses what that card is?
I have avoided mentioning that critical part of the combo up until now. I want to drag out the suspense. Okay, enough. Here’s the card:
Or should I stick in a digression about my dogs? I have two goldens – both rescue dogs. The older dog…
Okay, okay – it’s Intruder Alarm.
I love that card.
So you ping opponent number one. You tap the Bird for one mana. You tap Sindbad to draw a card. You use the mana and Words to put a bear into play. The Tim untaps. The bear untaps. Sindbad untaps. Rinse and repeat until every opponent is dead.
Of course, if you don’t have a Tim, you just get infinite bears. Assuming you survive to get to your next attack phase, you will win.
If they kill your Archivist or Sindbad in response to Intruder Alarm, you are in a bit more trouble… But that’s why you also run the counters.
After game one, you may need to kill with the Mahamoti, because it will be much more difficult to keep Sindbad alive. However, you can play Intruder Alarm early in later games, since its ability will usually result in a creature stall and the surprise factor will be gone.
Here’s the decklist so far:
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Vine Trellis
4 Jungle Barrier / Wall of Blossoms
4 Quirion Elves
2 Arcanis the Omnipotent
1 Suq’Ata Firewalker
1 Prodigal Sorcerer
1 Stinging Barrier
1 Mahamoti Djinn
1 Ancient Silverback
4 Words of Wilding
4 Intruder Alarm
2 Chain of Acid
3 Arcane Denial
3 Hidden Spider
2 Force of Will (just two – there are too few blue cards)
2 Quicksilver Dagger or Arcane Teachings
4 Tropical Island
2 Treetop Village
2 Faerie Conclave
4 Wooded Foothills
It’s still a bit big – eight cards. Sixty cards means the combo will come together quickly… But eighty cards is better for my group though – if I show up with a sixty-card deck, they immediately smell combo. If that is not a problem for you, cut to sixty. Archivist is a bit difficult to keep alive, but not impossible. Arcanis is a beating… But he attracts a lot of, attention and you need either a large library or three-mana creatures to avoid decking yourself when going off. On the plus side, if he lives, he will dig down to the Intruder Alarm pretty quickly.
So that’s the deck.