Going Rogue Is An Art, Part 1: On How To Nuke Your Local IBC Metagame.
When I went to our beloved Starcity-site this evening, I was struck as by a flash of lightning: Only one article! Only one person had taken the effort to hold high the name of the best site there is! As a Featured Writer, I couldn’t help but feel at least partially responsible. (Well, as the editor who was traipsing across the country and missed a day of updates, I should feel responsible... - The Ferrett)
But what am I to write about? I only wrote some junk about casual play. Articles that were way too long and about a topic no one really cared about. The only ‘serious’ thing I wrote was a prerelease report. But hey, who gives a damn about prereleases?
So I was a little short on ideas on what to write about. For I do want to write articles people like. Would I be helping the community I’ve been parasiting on for so long had I been writing crappy stuff? Luckily inspiration came in the form of a request. I was asked to write an article about Reins of Power.
So I did it. It was a long article. It had humor. It had style. It offered strategic insights. It was built up in a way only Cicero could equal. And it was about Reins of Power. So you’d think I’d get some form of appreciation? A single word of thanks at least? No, my inbox remained as empty as those little round breads I got served for breakfast in this hotel in Rome I once stayed in.*
So where am I to find happiness in Magic? Well, in winning. In winning with stupid decks. In winning those games that shouldn’t be won by me. And how is this achieved? By building decks that people actually come and watch to see in action. By decks that leave the opponent flabbergasted after they fell in it’s trap. And what kind of decks are these? Right! Rogue decks.
[Mental note: Get to the point now! People are starting to hit random back-buttons!]
My first successful attempt at nuking an environment was made with my Remembrance deck, which, due to Remembrance, gave me Wrath of God with Buyback (False Prophet), sixteen 5/5 creatures (Deranged Hermit), twenty life (Radiant’s Dragoons), four land (Yavimaya Granger), four Ancestral Recalls (Yavimaya Elder), and four cantrip bears (Multani’s Acolyte). It also packed Rrepopulate to start all the abuse anew and it used Karmic Guide to ‘surprise’ opponents with creatures they thought they had already withstood all four of. Claws of Gix was the key to making it all work, wasting my creatures at any time I wanted.
Earlier versions of this deck played red for Avalanche Riders, Ghitu Slinger and Goblin Bombardment, as this deck started out as an infinite damage deck with the"Bombardment plus two Karmic Guide" combo. But then that dreaded errata came and shattered my hopes, dreams, and loops. Luckily it was almost block season again, and with a few modifications I was able to sweep away almost all opponents I met.
Now that all you people hear me bragging, you are most probably also asking yourselves:"If that deck was so good, why didn’t he play PTQs with it then?" The answer to that question happens to be the same as the answer to the question"Why on god’s green earth does that deck actually work?"
The uniform answer is:"Because no one knows how to play against it!" It works because players make stupid mistakes against it, which I can drag a win out of. Players facing this deck for the first time will most probably lose. But the second game I’ve lost my surprise effect and they’re more prepared. Luckily, I have a sideboard for them and they most probably don’t have one for me. But now the major problem with these tactics:
Good players will see through your strategy before game one has even entered the middle game. And when you have no shock effect left, your deck is revealed as the weak pile that it is - and loses like it should. And that’s why one should never play a tournament with it when you want to win. I strongly support people playing this kind of deck in a tournament just for good laughs. I’d do it myself if not for the high entrance fees of most tournaments. I’m just a student, I’m on a very tight budget - and I don’t mean Flores-tight.
[Mental note: Get to the point now! People are starting to hit random back-buttons!]
Going Rogue Is An Art: Part 1: On How To Nuke Your Local IBC Metagame.
By playing Land Destruction. Everybody’s trying all kinds of weird color combinations right now, so killing some lands will blow up their entire deck! Why isn’t everyone playing LD then? To find the answer to that question we have to take a look at the best LD card in the block.
Destroy target land, draw a card.
Have you ever heard of a LD deck that started destroying lands on turn five? No. And barring Vindicate, the cheapest other LD to be found is Suffering or Dwarven Landslide. Now these cards might be used as support cards, but an entire deck can’t be built around them. Or can it? When I have counted to three, you’ll be in a deep, deep sleep...
Where are you now?
-At a Limited tournament. It’s IBC sealed or something.
Are you comfortable?
-No! I am losing this match to a random scrub!
Why are you losing?
-I'm color screwed!
Oh really? Didn’t you draw enough land?
-Well, um, I drew all the land I needed but he keeps changing my plains into islands with his Dream Thrush....
And thus you are losing? Because of this measly Bird?
-Well, I guess so. Could you please wake me up?
Aha, so instead of D’ing L, we can also just mess with L by changing it into some random other L! Take this lesson from limited and incorporate it into your block decks! People still doubting the superiority of these tactics will soon falter to this divine sign: The Land-change creatures come in a perfect mana curve! First turn Reef Shaman, second turn Dream Thrush, third turn Slimy Kavu, fourth turn Suffering, fifth turn Sea Snidd! Is there any IBC deck that can survive such an onslaught? I think not. And to make this deck even more insane, when you’ve destroyed more lands than you have ‘washing creatures’ out, they double as a kill condition as well! When there’s nothing to wash, your Dream Thrush will just fly for one to the dome. The beatings become even more savage when some Kavu are joining the smashing. Most opponents just scoop when Sea Snidd makes its appearance. That monster doesn’t even have an upkeep cost like Demonic Hordes had! And it’s easily splashable to boot. What was R&D thinking?
In fact, this deck very closely resembles every random black LD deck I ever built. Want four Demonic Hordes? Sea Snidd is up and active. Want four Sinkholes for early disruption? A first-turn Reef shaman is awaiting orders. Icequake easily translates into Dream Thrush and Befoul channels ‘Random 2R Kavu except for that Aggressor one’ like mad. I bet you can’t wait to see a decklist to copy, so I’ll just please my readers and give them what they want.
Yeah, you’ve read it right. Sea Snidd didn’t make the grade, even though it always has the home turf advantage. It turned out this deck didn’t even need it. And you’ve also read the appearance of a new star on the brow right: The awe-inspiring Turf Wound.
Now don’t start laughing at me right away. Read Turf Wound and think of it in this deck. A single Turf Wound causes your opponent to miss a land drop, thus virtually curing your land-changing creatures from summoning sickness. Think of it as Fires of Yavimaya. That gives creatures haste too, doesn’t it? So why do people like that card, yet scoff at Turf Wound? It’s even a cantrip, so that it is never a wasted card. It almost always leaves your opponent wounded for your Kavus to finish.
Now for some serious humor: Splash in a Legacy Weapon. Red and Blue mana won’t be a problem, and you have plenty of mana washers to change your own lands into the needed land types to activate the bomb.
This deck wins about one game from the four it engages in, and then only because of multiple Implodes and kicked Dwarven Landslides and a perfect curve of washing creatures. But it’s damned funny to play with. One word of advise for people seeking to have fun with a deck much like this one: add Jilt. It kills elves and bounces creatures that slipped past your washing. Also fear instants and permanents with only one colored mana symbol in their casting costs, like Terminate and Flametongue Kavu. There is no way to arm yourself against this, except maybe to add Evasive Action. It should Mana Leak for five when you’ve got some washers active.
Your best match up is against those White/Black decks with all those Apocalypse rares. None of them are instant, and they are all costed something like 1BB, 1BW, BW, or anything else with two colored symbols in its mana cost. That’s when this deck is at it’s best. Your only fear from that deck is the appearance of a Spectral Lynx. Maybe we should play Sea Snidd after all, just to block this cat... But this build just has to race it.
So what kind of article is this? Strategy? You can hardly call it that. Issues and Opinions, then? Even though I do whine a hell of a lot, it won’t make the grade. Is it casual play? Well, I myself only play it against serious decks. That’s when it’s the most fun. You can sometimes see opponents getting nervous when you play a first turn Island, Shaman followed by a second turn Mountain, Thrush. They often think they’re up against some kind of random domain deck or something. Anyway, they had never suspected this.
Now go write an article. You don’t want other writers to also resort to this kind of crappy writing, do you? I’ll promise you something: When I get to read a lot of good articles, I won’t get bored. And when I’m not bored, I start writing good articles. But should anybody like to read about these kinds of decks, drop me a line. I have a Dwarven Patrol IBC-combo deck that has ‘write about me’ written all over it. And I promise it will be better than this deck... For it is. People even laugh with it more than one time, where the LD deck only causes a smile for once. If anyone is interested, I’ll do my best. Otherwise it will be back to multiplayer again.
Stijn van Dongen,
* - No, really. Those breads, which the natives dubbed ‘pane,’ consisted solely of a shell of crust. There were no entrails. No dough grown to bread. Just nothingness, leaving my stomach hunkering for some plain old Dutch bread with cheese from Gouda or with Hagelslag.**
** - Hagelslag: Streptococci-shaped flakes of chocolate which we primitives like to pour over our buttered bread or toast. We also wear wooden shoes and go to work riding our mules, enjoying the countryside filled with windmills and dikes. When back at home again we drink a healthy glass of milk and take care of our garden, carefully watering (when it’s not raining) the tulips and marijuana plants. We go to Amsterdam each and every weekend and still allow slavery. All our males are called Jacob and all our women are named Mina. We’ve never heard of the stack and still think damage resolves last. We’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of this new set of cards called ‘The Dark.’ Isn’t that just an exciting name for a set of cards? (now that you’ve got to admit!) Now I have to finish this article in time. I don’t want it to miss the daily carrier pigeon!