You Lika The Juice? – Marit Lage the Old-Fashioned Way

Read Bennie Smith every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Friday, October 23rd – My first foray into the new Standard was disappointing. I built a fairly stock Vampires deck for Josh, and for myself took an experimental monowhite deck for a test drive, and both of us ended up at 2-2. The EDH league provides a nice consolation prize for those whose FNM comes to an abrupt end, so I pulled out my Rofellos deck and went to work casting gigantic spells.

[If you’re not much into EDH, before you leave the column I hope you’ll skip down to the end for a very special tournament announcement—Bennie]

My first foray into the new Standard was disappointing. I built a fairly stock Vampires deck for Josh, and for myself took an experimental monowhite deck for a test drive, and both of us ended up at 2-2. The EDH league provides a nice consolation prize for those whose FNM comes to an abrupt end, so I pulled out my Rofellos deck and went to work casting gigantic spells.

I had high hopes for Rofellos. One thing I’ve been trying to do for several years now is to activate Dark Depths, because I think the card is incredibly cool and flavorful, and I’ve even got the foily, Cthulu-esque token card to use with it. Each deck I’ve put it in, I’ve either never drawn it, never got enough mana to whittle away the ice counters, or had it hit with Strip Mine or Wasteland before I could get there.

When the EDH Rules Committee un-banned Rofellos as a general, I knew my evil plans for de-icing Marit Lage had found a new home, and quickly went about putting together a Rofellos EDH deck. The first few times I played it, no Dark Depths.

I find it an interesting coincidence that Dark Depths has now blown up on the competitive Magic stage. I remember when I first read about Vampire Hexmage on the Salvation spoiler, I thought—hm, that’s a nice short cut to Marit Lage! Might be worth checking out for Extended. I only had acquired one Dark Depths prior, since up until now the card was strictly casual, and why would I need more than one for my EDH decks? I popped over to Star City and checked the singles price. They were sold out at something like $5.99 each, so I clicked on the “alert me” option and waited.

Sometime last week I got an email alerting me that Dark Depths were in stock—but now for $24.99! Yeah, the card has gotten red-hot since the release of Zendikar. I’m figuring if and when I play in Extended, I probably will not be rocking the Dark Depths combo.

Anyway, after getting properly stomped by a monogreen deck in FNM’s last Swiss round I started looking around for an EDH game. Let me say, it does my heart good to see how EDH has really taken off at Richmond Comix. Tommy Donnovon has implemented League play (details can be found here), where basically once you get 3-5 players you just fire up a game and at the end report the points to Tommy to record for the league standings. Get killed early? Jump in another game. The points leader at the end gets store credit. By the time FNM was cutting to elimination rounds, there were 4 or 5 EDH league games going on, with players I’d never seen before or hadn’t seen playing Magic outside of prereleases in a long, long time.

It didn’t take long for the survivors of another game or two came looking to start another game; here’s the deck I played, with some Zendikar adjustments from the last time I posted it:

1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Arena
1 Dark Depths
1 Exploration
1 Expedition Map
1 Rancor
1 Gaea’s Touch
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Sylvan Library
1 Eternal Witness
1 Forcefield
1 Harmonic Convergence
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Rings of Brighthearth
1 Staff of Domination
1 Thousand-Year Elixir
1 Umbral Mantle
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Drumhunter
1 Grappling Hook
1 Greater Good
1 Harmonize
1 Masked Admirers
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Sword of the Paruns
1 Tower of Fortunes
1 Al-abara’s Carpet
1 Forethought Amulet
1 Genesis
1 Memory Jar
1 Minion Reflector
1 Ring of Immortals
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Seedguide Ash
1 Silklash Spider
1 Spectral Force
1 Tornado
1 Weatherseed Treefolk
1 Child of Gaea
1 Deadwood Treefolk
1 Eternity Vessel
1 Force of Nature
1 Gaea’s Liege
1 Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
1 Lurking Predators
1 Paleoloth
1 Planar Portal
1 Rampaging Baloths
1 Urza’s Blueprints
1 Akroma’s Memorial
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Mossbridge Troll
1 Panglacial Wurm
1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Tornado Elemental
1 Patron of the Orochi
1 Verdant Force
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Myojin of Life’s Web
1 Vitalizing Wind
1 Feral Hydra
1 Chord of Calling
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
32 Forest

When building this deck, I had a choice to ponder—should I go for infinite mana with Rofellos or no? It’s insanely easy to do with artifacts: with enough Forests in play, Umbral Mantle, Sword of the Paruns, and Staff of Domination all get there. With infinite mana it’s pretty easy to then maneuver for the infinite kill: Goblin Cannon, Rocket Launcher, Helix Pinnacle, or even something wacky like Squallmonger equipped with Loxodon Warhammer. However, if you’ve been reading me you know I’m not someone who relishes a simple “combo-kill the table” victory. No, if I’m going to have ludicrous amounts of mana, I want to do spectacular things with it, throw some cool haymakers with it.

So I decided to keep the infi-mana combos, but purposely avoided adding any insta-wins. Now, I can gain infinite life (with the Staff), but in EDH just 21 points of general damage can kill you no matter how much life you have so I don’t consider that an insta-win. And yes, I can make an infinitely large Chameleon Colossus or Feral Hydra, but that’s not combo-killing the table, that’s just making a lethally-large beast that’s gotta swing through and deal damage to one player at a time. Feels much more haymaker-esque than combo-kill-esque.

Okay, so the players were:

Bennie (me), playing Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Josie, playing Ulasht, the Hate Seed
John, playing Uril, the Miststalker
Josh, playing Doran, the Siege Tower

Bennie & the J’s, huh? John playing Uril had me feel a little less guilty about playing such a high-powered general. Uril is just insane as a general, and I knew I’d need to get out some heavy hitters quick to avoid dying to general damage.

We shuffle up, draw, and resolve mulligans. Too late, I let everyone know about the “Gis” mulligan that Sheldon has talked about, which seems like a fine way to more quickly resolve mulligans and get the game started. Everyone agrees to keep it in mind for next time. Luckily for me it’s pretty easy to have a good initial hand playing a monocolored deck.

Turn 1, Josie plays a Utopia Mycon, but is otherwise uneventful as everyone just plays a mana-producing land.

Turn 2, I play Gaea’s Touch and play an extra forest. Josie plays an Essence Warden but misses his second land drop. John plays a Mosswort Bridge, and Josh rounds it out with a Skullclamp.

Turn 3, I play a Forest, cast Skyshroud Claim and then Rofellos with six forests in play. Everyone groans. Josie misses another land drop.

Turn 4, I play Rampaging Baloths, then Kodama’s Reach. The landfall gives me two 4/4 beast tokens. I then play Rings of Brighthearth. Josie misses another land drop; yep, he’s still at one land in play! Josh plays Route during his turn, worried the beatings might be coming his way. Considering how he’s been throwing around the sick combo-kills with his enchantress deck, he is right to be worried.

Turn 5, I replay Rofellos and cast Genesis. Josie misses another land drop. John plays Uril! Josh casts Sword to Plowshares on my Genesis (sad face), and plays Viridian Shaman to sit on my Rings, then equips it with Skullclamp. Josh again says he’s worried about me coming after him, and I point out to him that if there was any doubt about who I’d be coming after, he has certainly made sure I’d be coming after him now! Unfortunately my hand is pretty well depleted other than a surprise card that kinda needs creatures in play to be any good, and I’ve got nothing on the board but Rofellos.

Turn 6, I draw Paleoloth and play it. Josie misses another land drop. We all feel really bad for him, but then he reveals that he only has 20-some lands in the deck—well no wonder!! He insists he has never had mana problems before, but admits that perhaps he should add more land to the deck. John sheepishly plays Runes of the Deus on Uril and we all groan, especially since he’d not had any card drawing or search for that Aura. Let’s see—attack helpless Josie, attack into Josh and let him draw two cards off Skullclamp, or attack Bennie who’s got Rofellos and a million forests in play? Not hard to figure that one out. As he turns Uril sideways I ask him menacingly: “Are you sure you want to attack me?” He glances at my hand, looks at the board, shrugs and says yeah. I double-block with Rofellos and Paleoloth, and then tap Rofellos to cast Vitalizing Winds, giving both of my dudes +7/+7. BOOM! He kills Paleoloth and sends Uril packing back to the Command Zone. Josh plays Guiltfeeder.

Turn 7, I draw and play Ring of Immortality. Josie misses another land drop. John plays a Mana Vault. Josh plays Doran, and attacks John with Guiltfeeder since he’s got a pretty large graveyard. He sends the Viridian Shaman at Josie and makes friendly overtures to me for a truce. He then casts Pernicious Deed.

Turn 8, I draw nothing interesting and still have nothing out but Rofellos. Josie whiffs on land. John replays Uril. Josh attacks Josie with Guiltfeeder and sends the Viridian Shaman (with Skullclamp) at John. He blocks with Uril and Josh draws two cards. He plays Night Soil. I helpfully point out how it’s a non-bo with Guiltfeeder.

Turn 9, I rip an Akroma’s Memorial and triumphantly slam it to the board. I then send a flying, trampling, vigilant, protection from black, protection from red 2/1 Rofellos screaming at Josh. He targets it with Maze of Ith. Oh well. Josie whiffs on land. John plays Flickerform on Uril. Josh contemplates blowing his Deed in response—he’s got five mana up—but lets him resolve it. Insanity! But John doesn’t attack. Josh plays Genesis (to which I give him sh** for after he Plowed mine), attacks me with Guiltfeeder, and Josie with Doran.

Turn 10, I pull a Dark Depths off the top with nine Forests and Rofellos in play, and play it. I knock on the card; “Hello? Ms. Lage, are you down there somewhere?” “Someone bring a hair dryer,” Josh quips. I attack Josh again with my 2/1 mini-Akroma but he Mazes it. Josie rips a land and plays it! John plays Behemoth Sledge, equips Uril and attacks Josh; he doesn’t Deed and takes it! Josh’s turn, he sends both Guiltfeeder and Doran at John. At the end of his turn I melted 6 of the 10 ice counters on Dark Depths.

Turn 11, I draw an Urza’s Blueprints! I play it, tap it, and draw Panglacial Wurm but I hang on to it to keep Deed from nailing too many of my cards. My 2/1 mini-Akroma gets Mazed again. Josie draws another land! But still has nothing else going. John holds back on Uril, and Josh holds back his team on his turn. At the end of Josh’s turn I knock on Dark Depths. “Paging Ms. Lage! Paging Ms. Lage!” The rest of the ice counters melt away and out pops Big Bad. I proudly play my shiny Marit Lage token all nice and sleeved up. FINALLY!

Turn 12, I pay the echo on the Blueprints, draw and then tap the artifact for another card. Umbral Mantle! I tap Rofellos and play Umbral Mantle. The others ask me to read the card and then realize I’ll have infinite mana. Josh’s fingers twitch a little on the Deed, but looking over at Uril he decides to let me have it. I play Myojin of Life’s Web and attack Josh with Marit Lage, Myojin, and Rofellos. He Mazes Rofellos (realizing I can make Rofellos big enough to kill him with Umbral Mantle) and takes a big 28-point hit—ouch! Josie plays another land, and some creature that I forgot to write down. On John’s turn, he plays Runes on Uril and Josh goes ahead and pops the Deed for five; John activates Flickerform to save Uril but loses the Sledge. Josh points at Marit Lage to die to the Deed. “It’s indestructible,” I remind him. “I got something for that,” he says. On his turn he plays Duplicant, and targets Marit Lage. John reminds him that Duplicant says “non-token creature.” D’oh! So he has to target my Myojin; I go ahead and use the Divinity counter to put Panglacial Wurm into play.

Turn 13, I replay Rofellos, and tap it to play Spectral Force (Akroma’s Memorial is still in play). I send the Force, Wurm and Marit Lage at Josh; he Mazes Marit Lage but still goes down to low life. Josie plays another land and another card I forgot to write down (unfortunately he’s so late to the party he’s not got much going on). At the end of Josie’s turn, John hits my Memorial with Krosan Grip. Then during his turn he attacks Josh with Uril and kills him (John’s given Uril some other way to trample but I can’t remember how and didn’t write it down). He drops Oblivion Ring on Marit Lage and stops her reign of terror.

Turn 14, I attack Jon with Panglacial Wurm and play Silklash Spider. Josie plays Vicious Shadows, which is troubling, but right now I’m in a death struggle with Uril. John swings with Uril and Silklash jumps in to soak up some of the trampling damage. He plays Spearbreaker Behemoth—ouch!

Turn 15, I play Chameleon Colossus and Solemn Simulacrum off Rofellos, with enough mana to spare to make Colossus big enough to block and kill Uril. I keep the Wurm back just in case. Josie passes to John who passes as well, a standoff between lethal ginormous monsters in play.

Turn 16, I tap my deck looking for some way to give my dudes trample. Nothing. Tap Blueprints… and draw Rancor! I drop it on Colossus, swing in, he blocks, and I pump it up to 96 power to kill him. Josie asks me my hand size—I have two cards. “This could have been really good,” he says, dropping Elemental Mastery on a 4/4 creature, making four tokens that attack and then die, with Vicious Shadows hitting me for 8 points of damage.

Turn 17, Colossus comes in trampling, with a maximum power of 768. Not as big as Rosewater’s best, but pretty damn big…

So, I avenged my average FNM performance with a haymaker-filled EDH game, finally got Dark Depth online, connected once with Marit Lage, and added a few points to my league totals. I’ve got a few changes I’d like to make to the deck; I think Vines of Vastwood would be a nice ugly surprise to protect Rofellos or something huge (like Marit Lage) from targeted removal, and Terra Stomper would be an upgrade for one of the other fatties in the deck. As I typed up the list I realized that I really should have Crop Rotation in here to help find Dark Depths, right? That’s a serious oversight.

I’m retiring my Rafiq deck and moving the manabase and some of the cards over to an idea I had for a Phelddagrif deck—basically, I want to build a “kingmaker” deck that’s capable of helping other players out of sticky situations (hopefully to the detriment of some other player). The idea is to have it as a second deck to play if I happen to win big in the previous game of EDH.

I’ve also got a Baron Sengir deck near completion, just in time for Hallowe’en! I’m going to hold off sharing it until I can play it and report on the game for an upcoming column, because it’s chock full of nasty surprises as a good Baron would want it to be.

The Jay Coffman Memorial Tournament November 22nd
I wanted to alert you to a very special Magic tournament next month in Richmond, Virginia. Last year the Magic community lost one of its brightest when Jay Coffman succumbed to cancer after battling the disease for nearly a decade. Jay was a huge fan of Magic and played from its very first days and continued until his illness made it impossible. He was a deckbuilder at heart and loved coming up with new and interesting ideas to surprise people at tournaments. He was hugely instrumental in popularizing the Vintage (Type 1) Magic scene as part of a group of innovators based out of Richmond, which helped spawn the Star City Power Nine tournament series that began right here in Richmond. Jay appeared in Star City’s online coverage of one event (I believe the third Power 9 tournament), where his brutal “Stax 5/3 Hybrid” deck took him to a 2nd place finish:

Top 8 Profiles, by Bennie Smith
Quarterfinals Roundup, by Ted Knutson
Semifinals: Rocky McCumbee vs. Jay Coffman, by Jim Ferraiolo
Finals: Jay Coffman vs. Eric Miller, by Ted Knutson

Sunday, November 22nd Richmond Comix in conjunction with the VAComicon are going to celebrate our friend by holding a Magic tournament to benefit the Massey Cancer Research Center at MCV, the people responsible for giving us extra years with Jay. There’s going to be a ton of special prizes and all proceeds will go to a very worthy cause.

Here’s the link to the details on Jay’s tournament.

If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll find the time to come out play some Magic in Jay’s honor!