I was going over my stored up warehouse of Magic ‘wisdom' and found a great comment by a former giant of the game;
"Magic is a game of inches. Let's say you are in a six-round tournament, and you get land screwed three times during your 12-18 matches. That's three losses that might seriously affect your score. If two of them come up one right after another in one match, then you have lost that round. Through no fault of your own, you have lost a round...
"…This is why I choose to play almost exclusively mono-colored decks. Too many times I have played dual color decks, and been holding five red cards in my hand with nothing but forests on the board while my opponent beats me to a pulp with a deck that should never beat me. I don't need the frustration in a tournament of not getting any land, and doubling my chances by not getting the right COLOR of land."
Wise words from Jamie Wakefield, in describing the"Wakefield School" of Magic play. I'm not sure how many people have lost too manascrew or painland damage (another thing Jamie disliked) in the last few months... But if someone kept track of such things, I'm sure it's way up. Why? The Invasion block promotes rampant color switching, multicolor decks of all shapes, colors and combinations, and even the infamous"Domain" deck. But no matter how good your mana setup is, with every added color there is a small but growing chance your deck will punk out on you several times during a tournament. Painland damage brings you that little bit closer to losing every time their used — and in a environment with a uncounterable source of direct damage, that is so hazardous it's not good to even think about it.
"But," I hear you protest,"Mono-colored decks are too narrow!" Well.... Yes, in fact, they are. Any one color is only good at a certain number of things. Green has the fat beats and creature pumping instants, and the most economical creatures overall. White's got good weenies, and good permanent removal. Blue has counterspells and some fat fliers, but has its same old problem: Board control once things get by the counterspell wall. Red and black are awesome damage dealers, but neither of them can destroy enchantments reliably without splashing a different color.
I think there is small chance, however, for a deck that never existed in Jamie's time due to lack of cards. A dual-colored deck with so much backup for its mana that you'd almost never get a land screw ever. How is this possible? The wonderful world of green, boys and girls. Green's latest secondary theme has become color switching/splashing.... And it's about time. It didn't have ANYTHING else for ages, except the creatures.
In current Type II, here's a list of all the options, no matter how bad or odd, green has for multicolor mana:
Bird of Paradise: Awesome, simply awesome. Problem is, everyone knows that and it's an expensive card that's hard to get.
Fertile Ground: Cool enchantment, basically turning any land into a painless City of Brass. But being a enchanted land, a huge variety of spells can kill it off one way or another. Even Recoil makes it a pain to keep going.
Food Chain: An odd card that almost spawned combo decks because of its"X+1" math. The problem is the mana, unlike other combos of the past, had to go for more creatures, which eventually killed this deck off as an effective concept.
Harrow: If Domain decks weren't enough proof, this card is awesome. Trust me; you're netting a land and grabbing whatever two you want, which makes this simple card the fuel that makes Domain possible.
Harvest Mage: Probably the weakest, most vulnerable of these cards. It's a 1/1 non-flying creature, and its ability cannot be used the turn it comes into play. But it does affect all of your land till end of turn.
Lay of the Land: Mini Harrows-R-Ss. A great spell for smoothing mana, though not quite as good as Harrow, even at the lower cost (since it's not an instant and it doesn't really accelerate your mana).
Nomadic Elf: A beatstick and a color switcher. Proof positive that Green's getting the quality creatures lately. Nomadic Elf might be one of the better cards of this group; if you never use its ability you still have a fast 2/2 to tear into your opponent with.
Quirion Explorer: Cool card, but it's at its best against Domain... If even then.
Quirion Sentinel: Good attacker (2/1 for two) and it can accelerate your deck if you've got a lot of one- and two-drops.
So…How to build a two color deck with green and almost no chance of mana screw? Let's get a deck list to look at:
Good combination of beatdown, land search, and deck thinning. All of the cards including the creatures help with your mana development and help avoid not getting your off color. And what off color to use? Red's the most traditional, providing good multi-color creatures, as well as burn to clear blockers and kill your opponent faster. You also have access to Hull Breach for enchantment and artifact destruction, as well as Raging Kavu for offense, along with Sparkcaster for beatdown and gating tricks.
4 Thornscape Familiar (it's beatdown and makes your red spells cheaper; can't beat it)
4 Raging Kavu
4 Sparkcaster (three mana and a creature bounce with a Familiar in play)
3 Flametongue Kavu (something nasty for ‘Caster to bounce)
4 Hull Breach
4 Scorching Lava (Spectral Lynx is a real problem without this)
4 Rhystic Lightning
This provides a fast offense with decent removal to power a path through opposing defenses. But it's far from the only option. Adding White produces a much more passive, reactive build. Fleetfoot and Noble Panthers give gating tricks at instant speed and nice beatdown, while Charging Troll can be the hammer that breaks decks in a bear-dominated format."Okay, attack, you chump and lose a creature. Okay, go ahead, you attack, I block and hose a creature." Throw in regeneration, and you have a solid and powerful creature. Disenchant gets rid of annoying enchantments and artifacts with more speed than Hull Breach, and with only one color mana needed. Last Breath can deal with many of the most annoying creatures in type II - including Sivvi, Nether Spirit, Blazing Specter, and Spectral Lynx.
4 Thornscape Familiar (same reason as above)
4 Fleetfoot Panther (big creature and instant-speed gate tricks)
4 Noble Panther (chunky, effective beatdown)
4 Disenchant (Teferi's Moat? What Moat? Also works against COP and story circle, along with Static Orb and Opposition)
4 Voice of All (hard-to-stop damage)
3 Armadillo Cloak (faster kills, and making your weenies threats late in the game)
Want to get REALLY weird? Go enemy colors for your splash. In these builds, you probably want to drop the Sentinels for different creatures, because their smaller toughness doesn't make up for their lack of an ability that helps the splash color. Gaea's Skyfolk more than make up for the loss of cheaper spells. Rethink and Prohibit provide good counter ability to stop key spells, while Repulse can both save a creature from a spell and remove blockers from your path.
Cloudskate, Rishadan Airship, and Coral Merfolk can provide some additional offense. Wash Out might be the ultimate reset switch against a creature-heavy opponent. Ensnare provides similar opportunities by tapping all creatures at the end of your opponent's turn, allowing you to untap for a unblocked rush. The alternative casting cost makes it a little easier to cast, especially with Harrow and Lay of the Land to pull islands into play.
Black might be the weirdest splash of all. Again, the Familiars can go for different creatures more appropriate to the plan. Ravenous Rats provide a little discard and damage ability. Snuff Out and Dark Banishing push creatures into the graveyard, where they can't interfere with you. Sinister Strength can provide large amounts of extra damage very quickly, and makes the target immune to opposing black removal spells. And, of course, Spiritmonger is the ultimate finisher. Consume Strength makes simple combat math a very tricky proposition and provides ways to kill much larger creatures used as blockers; it also can target opposing black creatures that are otherwise immune to removal spells in your deck. Spineless Thug provides another bear-sized body to throw in your opponent's face. The Life/Death split card is a godsend, giving either a final surge of damage from your lands or providing a cheap way to flip a creature back into play. The paying life drawback isn't bad, considering all your creatures are very inexpensive.
Discard is also a route with Duress, Bog Down, and Addle at your disposal. Ebony Treefolk can make a great, if mana intensive, attacker. And if you can find Spiritmongers, more power to you. It might be interesting to pull eight cards and drop in four Spiritmongers and four Dark Rituals to speed their appearance on the table.
Out for now, folks; tune in next time for another report/tweak to Toolbox and a cool revival of an old, old deck concept.