You Lika The Juice? – The Nucklavee Deck

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Thursday, September 18th – I’ve loved Epochrasite and haven’t had a reason to play it in a long while, and Scarecrone seemed like a good time to do it – if Epochrasite ended up countered or discarded, it’s the perfect creature to pull out of the graveyard with Scarecrone. I also have a warm spot in my heart for Mindless Automaton, another card I was eager to pair up with Scarecrone.

Guess what? I have finally stepped into the modern television viewing age with the acquisition of DVR for my cable box, and man am I stoked! My work and family schedule is so hectic that it’s nearly impossible for me to find the time to watch the few programs that I really enjoy… so my strategy for the past two years has been to wait for the season to come out on DVD and then rent it through Netflix. This had mixed results; on a positive note, it was nice to be able to watch each episode one behind the other without a week’s delay. But that was a mixed blessing when it came to watching Heroes – just about nearly every single episode of that series had such a powerful cliffhanger ending, it was nearly impossible to stop watching when you had the very next episode right there on the disc waiting for you! I found that I was bargaining with myself, “c’mon Bennie, it’s already 1am, what’s another 45 minutes?” Of course, once the alarm started sounding at 6am I was desperately wishing I’d spent those 45 minutes getting some more shut-eye.

There are some shows I’m still going to have to adhere to the Netflix plan, gems like Weeds and Big Love since I don’t subscribe to the premium movie channels. But for my must-watch shows like Heroes, The Shield, and Battlestar Galactica, I don’t have to wait 6 months down the road to watch the series now. I feel so… liberated! I’m also checking into some other series that I’ve not had a chance to watch too, like Mad Men (Christina Hendricks, who plays office manager Joan, is smoking hot!).

Okay, enough gushing about not-so-modern technology (yeah, I’m not exactly an “early adopter”), let’s move on to Magic.

Winding Down Old Standard
This past FNM’s format was Standard, and while most everyone is focused on looking ahead to Shards of Alara and the upcoming rotation, I saw this as an opportunity to try something wacky. On one hand, I’d considered building another Turbo Blink deck to give my beloved Saffi Eriksdotter a few more runs around the board. On the other hand I wanted to give Warp World a run after Dave Meeson had some success with it in a side event (as chronicled in his column two weeks back or so). On the third hand (the one that grows out your back like you’re Judd Nelson) I wanted to play a Nucklavee/Heat Shimmer deck after hearing John Davis talk about his block deck design. With Shivan Reef and other sets to pick from, surely I could cook up with something to build around that interesting combo. The trick of course was to come up with a good balance of Blue instants, Red sorceries, and some critters to live long enough to play Nucklavee, untap and win shortly thereafter.

Here’s what I finally settled on:

Some of the deck is nostalgia – I’ve loved Epochrasite and haven’t had a reason to play it in a long while, and Scarecrone seemed like a good time to do it – if Epochrasite ended up countered or discarded, it’s the perfect creature to pull out of the graveyard with Scarecrone. I also have a warm spot in my heart for Mindless Automaton, another card I was eager to pair up with Scarecrone. I probably should have skipped the Scarecrow shenanigans, borrowed three more Cryptic Commands, and put the fourth Firespout in the maindeck, but what the heck!

The sideboard was a little random, mainly because I had a hard time finding two commons: Consign to Dream and Heapdoll. I usually buy 1-2 booster boxes of each new set, and my habit is to cull through the commons and uncommons, pull aside the ones I deem of interest, and leave the rest in the boxes. Guess which subset of cards I found? The boxes of non-interesting commons and uncommons. Sigh. It’s not easy getting older.

Consign to Dream is just a beating against Green and Red decks, and seems pretty awesome to recur with Nucklavee. Heapdoll plus Scarecrone strikes me as a decent way to stop graveyard recursion, but Snakeform seems like a reasonable compromise (Reveillark, I’m pointing to you).

Anyway, I won’t torture you with the blow-by-blow: I ended up running 1-2-1 in the Swiss, though my deck totally failed me in one crucial game by flooding me with lands to lose the match — I so wanted to at least get a winning record with Heat-la-Vee. Everyone who watched me play it said they really liked what I had going on, and I do think it has a lot of potential. The deck can generate some powerful endgame plays, letting you generate hasty double-cantrip 4/4s for each three mana you have available, and leaving you with a fistful of blue instants. One game I attacked for exactly the 17 damage I needed to win thanks to Heat Shimmer silliness. Another fun interaction is discarding an artifact to Razormane Masticore’s upkeep, then bringing the artifact to play with Scarecrone. Or if you don’t want to discard, you can sacrifice Masticore, then bring it back to play with Scarecrone during your upkeep so it still gets to bolt a creature during your draw step.

Shards of Alara has me thinking that Scarecrone might get its real day in the sun, thanks to the funky Blue artifact creatures from the shard of Esper that have already cropped up in previews and on MTG Salvation. While Scarecrone’s first ability is keyed to Scarecrows, the second ability lets you bring into play any artifact creature from your graveyard for just four mana. Pick up your playset while they’re cheap!

Since you may or may not be interested in a deck that did so poorly, as a consolation prize I thought I’d also share the deck that ran undefeated for the night in the hands of Jessica Miller, a Persist deck that I definitely could get behind. Here it is in all its infinite glory:

Jessica says: “Some cool interactions are using Puppeteer Clique plus an opponent’s Mistbind Clique to tap them down during their upkeep using Husk to sac the Mistbind. One tricky thing you can do is saving your Husk by sacrificing Mutavaults. From the sideboard you have Rite of Consumption to gain a bunch of life against mono-Red, and to finish if you can’t get past a wall of blockers.

“For the rotation, the deck loses the Juniper Order Rangers and… that’s it. Hopefully Alara will bring something new to the deck. Without the Rangers we can’t go infinite, but the deck goes back to two colors, and we could add a third with Shards for Green, Black, Red.”

One More Shout-Out for Demigod Doran
I got another email from Byron Juarez, who performed well with Demigod Doran, and wanted to share his take on the deck:

“Hi Bennie – I came in fifth place in my local PTQ Berlin running a Demigod Doran deck based on yours. This is what I ran:

“Round 1 I beat Kelpie 2-0; round 2 I beat Doran 2-0. Round 3 I lose to Backlash Kithkin 0-2. Round 4 I beat Toast 2-0. Round 5 I beat Kelpie 2-1. Round 6 I draw with Doran after I beat him the first game.

“I lose to Kithkin in the quarterfinals 1-2. Top 8 breakdown: 3 Doran, 1 Kithkin, 1 Backlash Kithkin, 1 Faeries, 1 Mono-Green, 1 Red/Green.

“Overall, I was very satisfied with the deck. Seeing as 3 Doran made Top 8 and I defeated both of the others, I feel as though your version was the best deck for my field. While their Leaf-Crowned Elders failed to stop both Doran and Colossus, Demigod would pile on, flying over for the kill. I don’t think Profane Command is necessary due to the Scarblade Elite’s massive removal engine. Thanks for posting such an awesome deck!”

Thanks for writing in, Byron!

Getting Up on My Green Soapbox
Lorwyn/Shadowmoor has given us a slew of very playable color-fixing, such that it’s easy to play four- and five-color decks. With Shards of Alara focusing so much on gold cards and playing three colors together, it is sure to bring yet even more good color-fixing cards. As a deck builder, being able to cobble together synergistic cards across various colors and have the mana work is wonderful… but as someone who’s played through several other “multicolor” blocks in the past, I’m a bit concerned that we’re going to degenerate into multicolor “good-stuff” decks slamming into each other, with games coming down to who drew their bombiest cards first. As a fan of the color Green, I’m also concerned that one of the color’s themes, one of its strongest “color pie” pieces, is being trampled and made irrelevant. Historically, Green has been the color of mana fixing, and if players wanted to stretch their decks beyond 2-3 colors they would often reach for Green’s color-fixing power. Now… no worries, brah! I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more Reflecting Pools than Birds of Paradise in the coming year… Maybe that’s not that big a deal, and I certainly can’t complain about “the state of Green” right now, considering the wealth of strong and powerful cards that have come down the pike. However, I still think it’s important to remain vigilant, to pay attention to the color pie distribution, and if one of Green’s strengths wanes or vanishes altogether, it needs to be pointed out, hopefully to be replaced with something else (… and yes, I still think Teferi and Mistbind Clique should have been Green cards, dagnabit!).

In closing, I wanted to give Mike Turian a hearty congratulations on making the Magic Hall of Fame. Mike is one Magic celebrity I have always wanted to meet, namely because he always seemed to hang on to his love of the game, his love of fun, even when playing at the highest levels. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a picture of him playing where he was not smiling. He strikes me as the kind of Magic player I’d want my kids to be if they ever got seriously into the game, and I’m glad to know he’ll be a part of the game for as long as we wants to be, even if he leaves Wizards of the Coast.

Speaking of leaving Wizards of the Coast… what the hell happened to Magic head developer Devin Low? I’d heard some vague rumors he’d been laid off due to some sort of personnel shake-up, but there seems to be woefully little information available. I’ve always enjoyed Devin’s writings, and I had the privilege of interviewing him once over the phone for a Scrye article. He was a regular read on Fridays. Having him just go POOF with no explanation is disconcerting. If he has indeed been cut loose, let’s all wish him well. I’ve been through a lay off and it’s no fun – Godspeed, Devin and hope you land on your feet soon!

Next week I’m hoping we’ll have enough Shards of Alara available to start unpacking initial impressions and start considering what to play for the new Standard – States will be here before you know it!

Before I sign off, for my readers who live in the States – make sure you are registered to vote, since I believe the deadline is rapidly approaching. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to double check to make sure you’ll be going to the correct polling station. We’re coming up on an incredibly important and historic election, and when your kids are studying 2008 in their Government class and ask who you voted for, you don’t want to have to tell them you didn’t bother voting that year.

See you next week!


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com