You CAN Play Type I #61: Opening Up Onslaught, Part II (Red, Green and Black Creatures)

No deck that can handle the double-black mana cost has wanted a four-mana slot since Phyrexian Negator, anyway. Ben Bleiweiss called Grinning Demon”Juzam Djinns five through eight,” and that sums it up nicely – albeit in exactly the opposite way Ben intended.

Whew! The new Star City Forums just went up last week, so if you haven’t registered an account yet, I’m sure you’ll have fun taking a peek after you read this.

Not much news this week, I’m afraid. Hell, I have this one professor who has exactly two class sessions left, and two-thirds of his syllabus undiscussed… Yeah, final exam month!

Opening Up Onslaught: Red, Black and Green creatures

Last week, we covered the first half of the Onslaught creatures. Keep my Rule #1 for card comparisons in mind, especially when we deal with black weenies.

Before we go on, I hope you guys enjoy the improvement we made. Instead of pasting card text, Star City now automatically links you to the actual images, which is always a plus for guys like me who love to lament the loss of Foglio and Kane-Ferguson art.

Tempting Wurm

This is a funny drawback that brings back memories of the funny Eureka deck, art and all.

Butch”Road Warrior” Maniego asked on the DCI-Philippines Yahoogroup whether this really looked like a green Phyrexian Negator. My knee-jerk reaction was that it was a control player’s nightmare – though visualizing a control player with sorcery and instant removal, and fatties generated by sorceries.

Given the far better cards in the three- and four-mana slots of green, Tempting Wurm has to be played on Turn 1 or 2 to justify itself. At that point, most opponents will have a lot in hand.

Sure, you might have fun against Sligh, giving him a couple of Mountains, a Cursed Scroll and a Jackal Pup. He untaps, casts Lightning Bolt and Incinerate to kill the Wurm, then you overrun him with the rest of your creatures. It’d be even funnier against something with equally weak creatures, like mono-blue Fish.

But against many other Type I decks, you might get anything from The Abyss to a Morphling accompanied by enough mana for its combat tricks. You might get a Powder Keg, which will wipe out the accompanying weenies right next turn, or kill Wurm anyway one turn later.

Even if he has no silver bullet or mass removal permanent in hand, letting a Type I control deck play its mana is like handing your opponent a loaded gun. Letting a Type I combo deck play its mana for free is like pointing it at your head and pulling the trigger yourself.

In short, you’re trying to race your opponent, but you let him play his permanents for free, effectively giving him more Time Walks than you got.

There was some talk on the Paragons mailing list about splashing it in black and its discard, and I mentioned you could try it in Salad Forks (a Suicide Black variant that replaces Sinkhole with Pernicious Deed, posted back in Beyond Dominia by John Ormerod). Of course, you go back to the two-mana congestion problem and wonder what makes it worth the trouble over, say, Phyrexian Negator. Eric Rouge, a.k.a. Redman, also e-mailed to say that trying to bait your opponent into mass removal isn’t a particularly good strategy, especially since you’ll get your Wurm killed anyway.

Some players will try this in Stompy, as Ben Bleiweiss advised, but JP”Polluted” Meyer summarized:”It destroys matchups that you tend to win and kills you in matchups where you lose.”

Grinning Demon

Everyone is hyping the grandson of that Arabian classic, Juzam Djinn. (Well, it helps when everyone is asking why Demons came back in since the pentagram got edited out of Unholy Strength.)

At first glance, though, you wonder if it really is better. You get a 6/6 body, which still takes four turns to kill on its own. The six toughness isn’t too relevant, except against a Juggernaut alone on the board, since a 1/5 to 0/6 Morphling is accompanied by other tricks. The doubled upkeep can be a liability; you might not be winning if you deal an extra point of damage to yourself and a faster opponent.

It’s hard to discuss since the point is moot, and no deck that can handle the double-black mana cost has wanted a four-mana slot since Phyrexian Negator, anyway. Ben Bleiweiss called the new Demon “Juzam Djinn five through eight,” and that sums it up nicely – albeit in exactly the opposite way Ben intended. Besides, If any deck did want the slots, Masticore is often a higher priority than raw fat.

The Demon has one unintentional bonus that arguably makes it better than its granddaddy, though: Morph, as Matt D’Avanzo AIMed me early on, has the side effect of giving you an option to make a colorless 2/2. If your elegant assault degenerates into a clumsy slugfest against”The Deck,” Morph means you might get those last few points in against Circle of Protection: Black and possibly against Ensnaring Bridge. Maybe even Powder Keg.

Of course, in a format where style counts, nothing beats the original Juzam art and name… Not even the price tag. Ah… Mark Tedin. (Come on… Click on the link for Juzam Djinn. Isn’t this great?)

Ebonblade Reaper

(Again, we’re no longer including plain card text, so please click for Phyrexian Negator before you read on. Thanks.)

Some people dubbed this the next Negator, but it’s clearly not replacing the black fattie of choice. First, the Reaper deals the first ten damage nicely enough, but has trouble finishing. Second, the performance gap against certain decks makes you cry. Against Sligh, for example, you can topdeck Negator, sac three Swamps to a Lightning Bolt, serve for five, and leave him at five life with a Jackal Pup for a blocker. If you had Reaper instead, you’d either hold it back to trade for the Pup (or get it hit by Cursed Scroll anyway) or risk losing life to a Bolt during combat.

Hell, a stray Gorilla Shaman trades for this.

So the real question is whether Reaper replaces the classic Hypnotic Specter.

I seriously doubt it.


A fundamental rule of thumb of Magic is that the cheapest possible effect is often the best; just take a look at Phyrexian Negator over Juzam Djinn, for example.

Going by that rule, you might think this should replace or supplement Hypnotic Specter.

It shouldn’t.

The most important reason is that your black deck won’t want more two-mana plays anyway, so going down to two-mana from a three-mana creature won’t really matter. Further, the key word”random” that goes with discard is missing, which is an incredible difference. Finally, you go down to a 1/1 without flying, which is painfully easy to block. Yes, you get the same slight Morph advantages already discussed, but flying also has a slight advantage thanks to Moat, anyway.

Save this one for your casual deck with 24 discard creatures, featuring Abyssal Specter, Blazing Specter, and Mindstab Thrull.

And besides… This reminds me of that demon from HBO’s Spawn cartoon series. Hypnotic Specter features a line from Samuel Coleridge.

Wretched Anurid

Again, another potential member of the Suicide Black training team. This time, the comparison is to Flesh Reaver – the mascot that gave Suicide its alternate nickname, FleshReaver.dec.

It’s still characteristically suicidal – but for a -1/-1, you get something with a drawback more manageable against aggro than Flesh Reaver’s.

So the question is, do you slip this in the Reaver slots for an unknown metagame?

The -1/-1 is bigger than it seems, and you do go down to Bolt range. Flesh Reaver is useful against so many decks because it’s a brutal 4/4. If you’re watering down the power and toughness, you may as well just go with Nantuko Shade, anyway.

Of course, another argument is that you may as well just go with another deck, anyway.

Rotting Reanimator

Some of you might think about this Penumbra rehash. For good measure, I think we’ve established that black creatures have to be fast and explosive to take advantage of the brief opening provided by the opening discard barrage. This is plain slow.

Of course, you could always run a Fallen Empires cleric subtheme with Hymn to Tourach, Order of the Ebon Hand, and Initiates of the Ebon Hand.

Doomed Necromancer

This is apparently nothing over the original: Recurring Nightmare. At best, it’s an improvement over the venerable Hell’s Caretaker.

I noted last week, though, that it’s important to note when abilities from an old card grafted onto a new enchantment. Unlike Recurring Nightmare, this can be fetched with creature support cards like Survival of the Fittest. I don’t know whether it’ll make the cut, but some decks can now support this ability at instant speed. Think fetchable Necromancy trick.

Visara the Dreadful

Again, a fattie that looked like it was made for Timmy, Trade Patsy. Again, note it as a possible in reanimation decks.

Symbiotic Wurm

Same as above; however, Deranged Hermit was an option in old RecSur decks. You might see this as a reanimation option that goes for a token swarm over a fattie like Multani, Maro-Sorceror, Verdant Force, or whatever looks good.

Goblin Sharpshooter

This gem from our other favorite German, Oliver Daems, brings home my point about looking at abilities grafted onto creatures.

The ability looks ridiculous, and it is – but sometimes you just have to believe Mark Rosewater and have faith that every card is printed for a purpose. In this case, it’s as a very narrow foil for German Tools ‘n’ Tubbies against Army of Squirrels. AoS is a controllish combo deck based around the green Earthcraft and Squirrel Nest, and is ironically associated with Oliver, who used it to break a TnT field at Dülmen once. Its highlight is relying on a nongreen combo.

What the Sharpshooter does is respond to every Earthcraft activation by killing the Squirrel token, then untapping to kill the next. There are other options, like Caltrops, but Sharpshooter can be fetched using Survival. Further, Oliver explains that it defeats AoS’s Plan B, which is to untap a million Squirrels next turn, make a million mana using Earthcraft, then tutor for Stroke of Genius.

It’s not a perfect solution, but an aggro deck like TnT doesn’t have one anyway. AoS, at least, doesn’t really set up its combo with an explosive turn so it won’t draw its entire library and Capsize the foil card in a pinch. Though relying on a foil card that hits the combo only after it’s complete is scary, Sharpshooter might yet buy a crucial turn or two.

It’s a narrow card that can only be used in one particular deck against another particular deck, but you have to credit people’s imaginations. Besides, the art is reminiscent of Orcish Artillery and Orcish Cannoneers.

Elvish Scrapper

This is a reprint of Scavenger Folk from The Dark, something usable in decks from Stompy to anything with Survival of the Fittest like TnT.

When faced with identical creatures, Tribal is actually something you take into account, albeit in reverse. You lose nothing by hedging against the possibility of things like Engineered Plague, so the unique Scavenger creature type is a plus in decks that will feature other Elves like Quirion Ranger.

Blistering Firecat

The new Ball Lightning?

Like Suicide Black, Sligh doesn’t want four-mana cards. Hell, it doesn’t even want three-mana cards, and the RRR casting cost of Ball Lightning makes it too cumbersome outside casual play, anyway.

Don’t bother with both outside your fun decks, not even with the Morph play against Circle of Protection: Red and Story Circle.

Yes, I know that other dinosaur-writer Ben Bleiweiss said it might be some good… Hey, who’s forecast on Living Wish for Type I did you believe?

Kidding, Ben…Don’t blackmail Rosewater into reprinting Necropotence with a 10,000-page article on red Extended cards to crash the Wizards server.

Please don’t hurt me.


Eric Rouge, a.k.a. Redman, e-mailed with a laugh, dubbing this a cute creature you just can’t find a deck for. Talk about green creatures with irrelevant abilities!

Some have told me this looks good in a Type II, where blue/green is doing great… But we have the original Ophidian in Type I. Ophidian isn’t your kill card; it’s there to set up Morphling, which no other five-mana fattie has compared to to date.

We’re happy with the 1/3.

Ravenous Baloth

Beast decks aside, this might be considered in Oath of Druids and Survival of the Fittest-based decks, as a beefier alternative to Spike Feeder.

The simple answer is, don’t.. These decks have other far better options to fill out their fat slots, anyway. Sure, there will be times where you’ll want to topdeck a 4/4 instead of a 2/2. Thing is, there will be far more times where you need to move +1/+1 Spike counters onto Morphling (well, some do it with Birds of Paradise to add insult to injury) to break stalemates.

Wall of Mulch

Ugh… See Wall of Blossoms.

In any case, decks that’d use this can use the old Wall of Roots to quickly set up the graveyard with Survival of the Fittest.

Menacing Ogre

This is one of the cuter”auction” cards yet, but don’t expect it to take the place of sideboarded fat like Masticore, or even Balduvian Horde, Rathi Dragon, and other possibles.

Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

I’m a player who used to have fun with Gaea’s Liege and with the Verdant Touch/Eradicate combo. I’m sure you can get a good laugh with nature boy here.

Reckless One

Woo hoo! Something to go with Goblin King (though the King still has the more memorable flavor text)!

For casual play, though, I do wish the new Avatars had more interesting abilities than vanilla Haste and the like.

Goblin Piledriver

Still another thing you might want to try the next time you break out the Goblin Grenades.

If you get to kill an brainless mono blue player and his blocking Morphling with a 10/2 Piledriver, do the world a favor and let us know here at Star City.

Elvish Warrior

Elf theme decks have often been limited to a stream of 1/1s, backed by something like Coat of Arms, Overrun, or a Fireball. Just noting that Elvish Archers gets backup to add more muscle to this ancient theme.

Oscar Tan

rakso on #BDChat on EFNet

University of the Philippines, College of Law

Forum Administrator, Star City Games

Featured writer, Star City Games

Author of the Control Player’s Bible

Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (R.I.P.)

Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance