You Lika The Juice? – Fun with Basilisk Collar & Worldwake

SCG Open Richmond!

Friday, February 12th – Despite the ridiculous winter weather she’s been dishing out against the Mid-Atlantic States, Mother Nature can’t keep a Magic man down. Even as the chance of me making the 30 minute drive to Richmond Comix for FNM and EDH dwindled to an icy and snowy zero last week, I still received my boxes of Worldwake shipped from StarCityGames.com, and eagerly started cracking the packs…

Despite the ridiculous winter weather she’s been dishing out against the Mid-Atlantic States, Mother Nature can’t keep a Magic man down. Even as the chance of me making the 30 minute drive to Richmond Comix for FNM and EDH dwindled to an icy and snowy zero last week, I still received my boxes of Worldwake shipped from StarCityGames.com, and eagerly started cracking the packs. There’s something about holding actual, factual Magic cards in hand that gets the creative juices flowing, and I’ve got a lot of ideas I’m dying to try out!

The two cards that have captured my interest the most happen to both be one-mana artifacts. The first I’m sure surprises no one: Basilisk Collar. I love decks chock full of creatures that do cool stuff, so cheap equipment that gives them even more abilities is right up my alley. Before I start presenting some deck ideas using the Collar though, I have a question…

Why isn’t this called something like Vampire Fangs? It’s obviously patterned on Vampire Nighthawk, and the art for Vampire Fangs could be awesomely scary or awesomely hilarious (I’m picturing a goofy Goblin with oversized Dracula fangs).

But Basilisk Collar? Yes, Basilisks have Deathtouch, but where did the Lifelink come from? You do need another ability besides Deathtouch to make it worthwhile, so the obvious second ability on a Basilisk Collar should be something like Lure or Provoke. Maybe the card started out something like that and just didn’t do much in testing, so an enterprising developer swapped in the Lifelink but left the name alone?

Complaints about the name aside, I love the actual card! Here’s the first deck I’m trying it in, what’s now old hat for me, G/W Knightfall.

What I love about Basilisk Collar the most in this deck is its interaction with Master of the Wild Hunt, basically turning into a lethal killing machine on the very next upkeep. Creatures in Standard have gotten huge of late, and sometimes it takes awhile for Master of the Wild Hunt to get enough Wolf friends out there to take the monsters down. Now though, slap the Collar on a Wolf, send it hunting and bye-bye Baneslayer Angel, bye-bye Abyssal Persecutor!

We even get a good new friend Stoneforge Mystic to tutor up the Collar so you don’t get too “Collar-flooded,” basically taking the slot for the third Collar I’d normally run. And heck, since you do have the Mystic, might as well throw in a Behemoth Sledge in case you’re in the late game. Yes, I really do want to see Thornling wearing a Collar or wielding a Sledge, don’t you?

G/W Knightfall certainly gets some nice goodies from Worldwake in addition to the Collar and Mystic: a new set of dual lands that turn into pretty good manlands, and Sejiri Steppe, which is a perfect target for Knight of the Reliquary when you need an instant speed one-shot protection effect. Of course, squeezing in the non-basics by necessity crowds out some of the fetchlands, which makes you less likely to have the broken Lotus Cobra into Baneslayer Angel on turn 3 plays, but I think the new lands are worth the sacrifice.

I haven’t had a chance to play any Standard since before Christmas, I’m curious what the other Knightfall players out there think of what Worldwake has to offer?

Moving on, here’s a R/G deck with Basilisk Collar:

So I’m already swooning over the idea of Basilisk Collar and Master of the Wild Hunt… what about taking that a step further and adding pingers? Cunning Sparkmage’s haste definitely makes him borderline Constructed worthy, and slipping a Collar on him turns him into Visara the Dreadful. I used to play Orcish Artillery way back in the day, and I’ve certainly been mildly interested in his Goblin cousin from Magic 2010 – the two points of damage he deals pairs up with Lightning Bolt to take down Baneslayer Angel, which more than makes up for the three points of damage you take in return. Of course, equipped with Basilisk Collar, there’s no drawback from Goblin Artillery’s activated ability and he also turns into a Visara.

Now, while considering the reach Artillery and Sparkmage give your Lightning Bolts for taking down larger monsters, I started wondering about Abyssal Persecutor – yikes, what a beating! If you don’t get a Collar online you could be in real trouble. That’s when I thought about Scattershot Archers, those nice anti-Faerie elves that never got too much respect. Well, if you Collar the Archers, suddenly he’s sweeping the skies clear every turn, which is not only handy against BSG and Dollar Demon, but also Emeria Angel, Dragons, the various Sphinxes, and the whole Vampire army if Nocturnus is in the house. Maybe he’s not maindeck worthy, but maybe he really is, and if nothing else he becomes a lethal chump blocker with a Collar on.

Quest for Renewal may seem a little silly, but there are a lot of creatures here that tap to do stuff, so even if you’re not adding Quest counters for your attackers, you should still get to turn this on pretty quickly, and once the Quest is done your pingers get ridiculous whether or not you’ve got a Collar in play. Without any card-drawing in the deck, I was figuring the deck might need that extra reach Quest of Renewal could provide, but maybe that’s being overly romantic. I’m sure we could easily swap it out for something else.

Speaking of Goblins and Basilisk Collar, here’s something bizarre and possibly interesting:

How about Warren Instigator with a Basilisk Collar? Double Strike pretty much kills anything blocking it before it can deal damage back, and if they don’t block you get at least two life and drop one or two Goblins into play. Let’s say you the first strike damage resolves and you drop Goblin Chieftain, then the regular damage resolves (now giving you 2 life back) and you drop Siege-Gang. Basilisk Collar is the rock to Warren Instigator’s hard place, a bad position to put your opponent into. Pretty good stuff, eh?

The impetus to make this deck primarily came from Bazaar Trader though – being able to steal a creature with Act of Treason or Sarkhan Vol and keep it permanently with Trader is just too sweet. Of course, without the stealing spells, the Trader is pretty awful but Goblin Chieftain and Basilisk Collar can help with that.

Finally here’s a Mono Green approach:

Let me say, I’ve been impressed with Leatherback Baloth, which strikes me as a “fixed” Tarmogoyf – a severely undercosted beatdown machine. Having a 5/6 attacking on turn 3 is brutal, and if you can equip with Basilisk Collar he can race nearly anything.

Adding the Baloth to the mix has pulled the deck decidedly away from its Elf-y focus, though Nissa Revane and her Chosen are still quality cards that deserve a spot, and I like the Visionary’s draw power — and both elves get a big boost with Basilisk Collar. I’m certainly looking forward to Master of the Wild Hunt getting medieval when I cast Wolfbriar Elemental kicked a few times.

The other card that’s been eating up a lot of my mental processing power is Amulet of Vigor. There are obviously some crazy interactions you can cook up with this little guy in older formats (the Karoo lands immediately spring to mind), but right now I’m mostly interested in Standard.

On the surface, Amulet of Vigor does a nice job of eliminating the “enters the battlefield tapped” drawback of many of the lands we have in the format, but is that worth space in your deck? I’m pretty sure what you want are multiple Amulets in play so that those lands actually start producing you extra mana.

Wanting to find multiple Amulets and wanting to play specific lands led me to an old favorite and forgotten gem: Wargate. The mana cost of Wargate — one each of the Bant colors, plus X — has made this seem rather unplayable, but it’s important to remember that for just three mana Wargate can tutor up any land and put it into play. I briefly kicked around Wargate with Zendikar came out but the spell lands and saclands didn’t exactly seem worth the trouble. Worldwake offers a whole different selection of lands you’d very much like to search up and put into play, right? Not only that, but if you’re building your deck to take advantage of Amulet of Vigor, spending four mana to search one up and put it into play seems like a pretty good deal.

Okay, so I’ve got 4 Amulets of Vigor and 4 Wargates, new manlands, some spell lands… now what? Well, that’s exactly why I’ve been thinking about this so much. Here’s one fragile but interesting take:

Basically you can assemble an engine out of Ruin Ghost, Tideforce Elemental, and two of either Amulet of Vigor and/or Lotus Cobra and blink a land in and out of play. Okay… so what landfall card will be your kill? Hedron Crab seems like a natural, it’s cheap and can easily be tutored with Wargate if need be. Is that good enough? Clarion Ultimatum seems positively nuts with an Amulet or Vigor (or two!) in play.

This time around, I know I’m being way too romantic here, centered around such fragile creatures in the hopes of setting up an infinite landfall engine (though I think it’s an interesting thought exercise). A more realistic and practical approach might be something more like this:

Yeah, basically this is a G/W Knightfall deck with some Blue goodness thrown in. The Amulets are in here basically as a mana boost to improve the chances of ramping up to Clarion Ultimatum. While it’s no Cruel Ultimatum, in this deck it ought to be pretty impressive if it resolves.

Another card that I’ve been interested in is Pyromancer Ascension. Now, I’ve no interest in playing the silly three- or four-color version with Time Warp; that’s just not my style. But I was thinking it might be decent in a spell-heavy G/R or Naya Ramp deck, and had noodled out some decklists last year, though none seemed particularly exciting.

Then Worldwake came along…

Worldwake gave us a bumper crop of spells that make creatures, which satisfies my desire to play around with Pyromancer Ascension and my desire to play with creatures — how cool is that? I just can’t imagine how much fun it would be to get copies of each Bestial Menace and Stone Idol Trap I cast…

There’s also Explore, which seems like a mighty fine addition to the ramp package and another awesome card to copy.

Now, you may be wondering “Bennie, so where are your Jace, the Mind Sculptor decks?” The answer to your question can be found in this little story, brought to you from the Twitterverse. It started with me tweeting the rares as I opened my two boxes five boosters at a time…

blairwitchgreen: Yay! I got my two WWK boxes from SCG! So even if the snow keeps me from FNM and WWK drafts, I still got my mitts on the new set!
blairwitchgreen: Let’s see what I got…

TehCorinthian: @blairwitchgreen Hope you have better luck than me – 2 boxes = 3 Eye of Ugin, 0 Jace. 🙂

Some tweets later…

blairwitchgreen: Terastodon, Kalastria Highborn, Basilisk Collar, Agadeem Occultist, and Eye of Ugin #1

Some tweets later…

blairwitchgreen: Next 5 EES NIIICE: Stirring Wildwood, Stoneforge Mystic, Celestial Colonnade, Basilisk Collar, and… wait for it…
blairwitchgreen: .. Eye of Ugin NUMBER TWO!

Some tweets later…

blairwitchgreen: last 5 pack: Amulet of Vigor, Thada Adel #3, Agadeem Occultist, Selective Memory #4 and… wait for it…
blairwitchgreen: … wait for it…
blairwitchgreen: …Eye of Ugin NUMBER THREE!
blairwitchgreen: Apparently you regifted me your two boxes of WWK, RT @tehCorinthian: Hope you have better luck than me 2 boxes = 3 Eye of Ugin, 0 Jace.

So, your answer is: instead of Jaces (or Abyssal Persecutor) I cracked open 3 Eyes of Ugin (along with 3 Omnaths and an Avenger of Zendikar). I would have preferred a… smoother distribution of Mythics, but oh well, those are the breaks. This way I don’t have to worry about trying to score a few more Jaces to make a playset. It’s a non-issue, as I won’t be playing Jace decks.

If I did have a playset of Jaces, I’d definitely be all over my old Summoning Trap deck (“The Grinch”)… and just for fun, I’d like to give something like this a try:

C’mon, who wouldn’t love being able to drop Krakens and Leviathans into play for free?

Okay, that’s it for this week. Hopefully soon I’ll get to actually play some Worldwake Standard, try out the new cards, and keep an eye out for what the Pros play in San Diego. The StarCityGames.com Open hits Richmond the end of this month, and I’m looking forward to continuing my Standard success from States into Invitational points and hopefully some cash!

Have a great weekend!

Take care…


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

New to EDH? Be sure to check out my EDH Primer, part 1, part 2, and part 3.

My current EDH decks:
Jacques Le Vert (lots of legends, good stuff)
Tibor and Lumia (copy copy copy copy)
Baron Sengir (Evile Vampires!)
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (huge creatures, big mana spells)
Sharuum, the Hegemon (Kaldra Lives!)
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (DRAGONS, RAHRRR!!)