Modern Jank – Troll Worship (Also totally NOT a rant about the bans)

Hello! Some of you may remember me from about three years now of making the occasional video and writing an article here and there. If you like rogue, semi-stupid decks and sarcastic commentary, then you might like what I write. If you don’t, there is always the back button. Or, you could pull an Internet and pointlessly bash me in the comments. To each their own.

Anyway, I was going to write an article about the new banned list. But let’s be honest – that topic has been beaten to death. Literally every major Magic YouTube channel and / or website has done a piece about the fact that the Amulet Bloom deck is dead (like we didn’t see that one coming), and that the [c]Splinter Twin[/c] banning was uncalled for. I will not subject you to an article’s worth of words about the bans; you can look at Binkabi’s video here if you want more detailed content on that.

I will, however, subject you to this minor rant. Whatever the “Evil Gestapo” at Wizards of the Coast do with the Modern banned list does not matter. While I can agree that their motives for banning [c]Splinter Twin[/c] seem ulterior, why waste time trying to figure them out? It could be monetary, it could be for a little spice in the format, or it could be for publicity. Who cares? Unless you invested a lot in Twin, and are very sad that you have lost your money slash favorite deck, there is ONLY one reason to be mad. That reason is that Red Green Tron is about to be a major nuisance. It yanks my chain that one of the very few decks capable of keeping Tron in check is gone. POOF!

Boromir Beat RG Tron

Tron destroys midrange and has a good matchup against control and weenie decks. Combo archetypes, Twin in particular, are Tron’s nightmare matchups, as it has little to no meaningful interaction in the first game and even post-board. Sure, Wizards, just take away our best respite from the wrecking ball of Modern decks. We all love getting [c]Karn Liberated[/c] to death and having our heads relieved of their eyeballs and ears via [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c]. Hell, it’s like Wizards knew that Tron would dominate after the Twin banning. So much so that they printed that [c]Crumble to Dust[/c] card.

The following is a real and unscripted conversation that took place in Wizards of the Coast’s R&D Department sometime before the 18th of January.

Dude 1: “Hey man, we want to ban Splinter Twin in Modern.”
Dude 2: “Oh yeah that’s a nice mix up. All those Twin players are gonna be super butthurt!”
Dude 1: “I know right? Hey at least I play R/G Tron. I hate the Twin Matchup, but I fear that now that it’s out of the way EVERYONE will want to play Tron!”
Dude 2: “Yo we could totally research and develop a card to make the Tron mirror interesting…”
Dude 1: “So you mean… A functional reprint of [c]Sowing Salt[/c] that can be found with [c]Ancient Stirrings[/c] and that is easier on the Tron manabase?”
Dude 2: “Umm I was thinking something like an Eldrazi that could [c]Crucible of Worlds[/c] so that there would be like some forced [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] interaction or something… But that card would be too busted and I’m lazy so that works too!”

In that matchup, it will be whichever player resolves that [c]Crumble to Dust[/c] first that will probably win. Imagine the days in Legacy when [c]Mental Misstep[/c] was legal… Aka my worst nightmares. Half of your meta will be the Urza Abomination, and since your Twin deck is no longer useful, you’ll probably just end up playing Tron with the rest of them. Assuming you were a Twin player, that is.

(Insert great segue here)

And this is why I choose to play brews and decks that are fun yet still maintain a decent win ratio. There’s a good chance that your deck will be completely shafted by some mildly senseless ban. Plus you will be that “one guy” playing your jank brew. You will be adored or hated based on that brew. In this read, I will share with you my take on a deck that is so Troll it’s not even funny. The deck is called Troll Worship for two reasons. One – it literally worships trolling your opponent by stopping them from winning. Two – it plays the cards [c]Troll Ascetic[/c] and [c]Worship[/c].

Is it cheap? By Modern standards, it’s not too hard on the pocket. Does it win? The deck has a The Rock-y feel, meaning it has few “bad” matchups and mostly okay to good ones. Is it stupid, janky, and sure to make some opponents pull their hair out as you remain at one life until they die? Oh, absolutely. Let me hit you up with my list before delving into the intricacies of Troll Worship.

[d title=”Troll Worship 2K16 (Modern)”]
Creatures
3 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Qasali Pridemage
4 Troll Ascetic
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Knight of the Reliquary
Instants
4 Path to Exile
2 Spell Pierce
1 Spell Snare
Other Spells
3 Worship
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Spectral Flight
Lands
4 Windswept Heath
2 Flooded Strand
1 Wooded Foothills
2 Forest
1 Plains
1 Island
1 Gavony Township
2 Breeding Pool
2 Temple Garden
3 Ghost Quarter
1 Hallowed Fountain
3 Razorverge Thicket
Sideboard
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
2 Dispel
3 Surgical Extraction
3 Kor Firewalker
2 Pithing Needle
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/d]

The Big Picture

At base, this is a fairly aggressive Bant Midrange deck that tries to resolve the card [c]Worship[/c] with a creature in play in order to soft lock the game against most decks. Being one of the most resilient creature types in Magic, with both Hexproof and Regeneration, trolls play very well with Worship as they can be near-impossible to get off the board. Other hexproof creatures, most notably [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c], are included to ensure a high density of threats that also make great targets for equipment or enchantments. Some spot removal and utility spells will round out the typical Troll Worship deck.

The Mana

With a top-end of four on the mana curve, this deck likes mana dork acceleration in concert with plenty of lands to be able to cast spells on time or a turn early. Such cards are easy in Bant colors, with the three dorks of choice being [c]Noble Hierarch[/c], [c]Birds of Paradise[/c], and [c]Sylvan Caryatid[/c]. Optimally, the deck plays eight because it almost always wants one in the opening hand. I’ve seen some people play nine to ensure a turn one or two mana creature, but this is up to personal preference. Hierarch is obviously the best of the three. Exalted in an aggressive deck cannot be undervalued. The only reason it is not in this particular list is that budget is a concern. If you have Hierarchs, play them over Caryatid. The dryad is nice in that it has Hexproof, which has better synergy with Worship, but the extra mana can slow the curve and detract from the speed of the deck. In this list I have opted for a 2/2 split between the plant and [c]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/c]. Pilgrim is the best 1-mana replacement for Hierarch, and contributes to better turn 2 plays than Caryatid, even though it is more likely to bite the dust.

Other than the accelerants, the land base shown is not bad on the wallet and will consistently provide all colors of mana. The new Khans reprint fetches go for surprisingly little, and as a primarily two color deck, only five shock lands are needed. The four basics are a great hedge against [c]Blood Moon[/c], work well against opposing [c]Path to Exile[/c]s, and most importantly do not affect consistency like they might in more color-intensive decks. [c]Razorverge Thicket[/c] is an all-star which allows the deck to save a fetch and not take any damage to cast a turn 1 mana dork. [c]Gavony Township[/c] is a bullet land that helps mitigate stall-outs and add relevance to our smaller creatures. Most importantly, [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] is one of the few main deck ways this deck has to interact with Tron. Do not fear Quartering early; if anything, it will help you race and try to win before an O-Stone can come down. This will be discussed further in the sideboard and matchup analysis.

The Creatures

As discussed, the deck runs a nice helping of mana acceleration creatures to make things faster and smoother. But what to do with it? Well, in a deck that plays with [c]Worship[/c], we want to play a number of creatures that are both threatening and resilient, the first of which is [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c]. Good ol’ GST is insanely good right now. With fewer [c]Remand[/c]s being played, and most conventional removal being worthless, Geist is a card that can and will end games on its own. Even with hexproof, the 2/2 will be swinging into the red zone pretty often, and with only 2 toughness, he is not liable to survive all of the action. For this, we need those trolls that I mentioned earlier. You know, the ones that leave unintelligible garbage comments all over the internet insulting people. Those trolls.

troll ascetic art

[c]Troll Ascetic[/c] is our main man for this sort of activity. The “moderators” [c]Path to Exile[/c] and [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] cannot target our mischievous friend, and he shrugs off the beatings he would receive in combat with a simple “u mad?” for {1}{G}. Costing only 3, Ascetic is the best troll for the deck. “But what about [c]Witchstalker[/c]?” This is honestly a metagame call. If you expect a lot of Grixis control-style decks, against which Witchstalker is an inescapable threat, then it can certainly replace Ascetic. When faced with *cough* [c]Oblivion Stone[/c] and the like, the regeneration ability is significantly more valuable. In general, four trolls will not cut it. We want at least one more, just for good measure… And that’s when big poppa Thrun comes in.

[c]Thrun, the Last Troll[/c] will be the dude to survive everything. It is hard to say that he is strictly better than Ascetic, despite being uncounterable, because he can be cast at turn three at the earliest. When it comes down to it, speed trumps all. Remember that even though the deck is slightly higher curved than most aggro decks, it still wants to be attacking with its creatures on time and trying to get ahead just enough so that Worship seals up the game. Thrun is great in combo matchups, and it’s a good idea to play another in the sideboard. In the matchups where he is good, he is really good. Otherwise, he can be a hard to kill 4/4 for 4 at worst. Not too bad, right?

For value dudes, {G}/{w}/{u} has a lot of good options. For this list, I have opted to play 4 [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c] in the maindeck. It’s decent against Tron and Affinity, can remove a troublesome [c]Blood Moon[/c] or [c]AEther Vial[/c], and in a similar manner to Thrun, there are not really any downsides to playing it. In most matchups it is just a reasonably-costed beater that works well with other creatures. If you do not like QPM, there are many other options. [c]Voice of Resurgence[/c], [c]Kitchen Finks[/c], and [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c] come immediately to mind. This is also a relatively budget deck, and Pridemage is the cheapest of the bunch. I have also opted for a 1-of [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c], which is not a necessary inclusion. Some people like to use a playset, which allows for the use of more “value” lands, but just the one is fine. In particular, it finds [c]Gavony Township[/c] and Ghost Quarter, and some sideboard lands such as [c]Bojuka Bog[/c]. Knight can also be a huge threat in the mid to late game, especially with fetch lands in the deck. Again, this is a flex slot so take your pick. You’re playing the creature colors, so it’s tough to go wrong.

The Support

Let’s think about this for a second. We have a lot of hexproof creatures. We have good mana. Let’s throw some pants on those dudes and go to town! [c]Spectral Flight[/c] is a severely underrated card in Modern. It is a cheap and very effective way to make a creature powerful and evasive. The operative word in that statement is “cheap.” Both in price and mana cost, Flight blows the Swords of X and Y out of the water. For only two mana, the creature that it enchants gets the same boost to power and toughness, and a form of evasion. Swords do the same thing for five mana, except their evasion is color-specific, and they have an upside when combat damage is dealt, and they stick around when the equipped creature dies. This is a bit of a toss-up. For budget reasons, this list runs Flight, but in some matchups, the Swords are just better. In fast matchups, Spectral Flight is better. It’s honestly up to the pilot.

Elspeth art

In addition to the pants for our hexproof guys, this deck does well with the tailor herself – [c]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/c]. Every single one of her abilities is relevant. She can stitch up some nice Khakis to get GST into the red zone without dying, make a dude to turn on Worship, or make us [c]Wrath of God[/c] – proof. Most lists that run her run three copies, but I have opted for two here. This is to make a little bit of room for some extra interaction. Four [c]Path to Exile[/c] are very important removal spells that deal with threats before we can land a Worship. I have also opted for three 1-mana counterspells. The two [c]Spell Pierce[/c] and one [c]Spell Snare[/c] serve as a way to interact with the opponent in the early turns and disrupt their game plan without having to hold up more than a little bit of mana for something like [c]Remand[/c]. Pierce counters early Lilianas or Karns that we might have trouble dealing with otherwise, and Snare handles [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], [c]Bitterblossom[/c], [c]Spellskite[/c], [c]Atarka’s Command[/c]… Basically all relevant two-drops. It’s a pretty darn good card.

Also a quick note about the card [c]Worship[/c] itself – it states that DAMAGE cannot reduce your life total to lower than one. Loss of life effects can still kill you. Keep this in mind! While not common, occasionally you may run into something like a [c]Bloodchief Ascension[/c] deck that can drain you even with Worship on the table.

Sideboarding and Matchups

This section will be pretty short and will cover basically two decks – Infect and Tron. Our game against most other decks is pretty strong. Game 1 against Burn is just fine once we land a Worship, but in game two, [c]Destructive Revelry[/c] means that a [c]Kor Firewalker[/c] or two is nice to shore things up. Jund and Junk present little to effectively disrupt the deck and their creatures aren’t a big deal. Infect is a serious problem deck. Worship does nothing to stop poison counters, so short of playing a few copies of [c]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/c] in the sideboard, the best thing to do is play a few more Spell Pierce. Tron is potentially even worse. Game one, Ghost Quarter is our only way to interact profitably. Quarter early and often, and try to cast Knight of the Reliquary quickly to tutor up more Quarters. Post-board, [c]Pithing Needle[/c] shuts down planeswalkers, and [c]Stony Silence[/c] makes [c]Oblivion Stone[/c], [c]Expedition Map[/c], and [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c] worthless. Most importantly, [c]Surgical Extraction[/c] in concert with [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] stops tron outright. They might still be able to cast something like [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c] in later turns, but without the fast mana, R/G Tron gets considerably worse. They will likely never resolve [c]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/c] if you’ve taken them off of their lands.

The board that I have laid out is pretty bad. Any and every sideboard should be metagame dependent, and tweaked to what you need it to do. If no one plays Tron at your LGS, or you do not expect to see a lot of Burn in the two-mans for whatever reason, change up the game plan.

Adding Money and What You Can Do

The great part about Troll Worship is that it is a highly customizable deck based on what you want to play and how much money you have. If you want to play with more copies of [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c] and [c]Voice of Resurgence[/c], go for it. Have a playset of Noble Hierarch already? Cut those Pilgrims. If you want to play [c]Misty Rainforest[/c] in lieu of the Foothills and Strands, that is just fine. Besides adding money, you can also change the deck’s game plan entirely. While an aggro deck at heart, [c]Worship[/c] is a great defensive card. It is feasible to play more a controlling Troll Worship deck that runs not only more copies of Worship, but also cards like [c]Oblivion Ring[/c] and [c]Bant Charm[/c]. [c]Sylvan Caryatid[/c] is much better in this type of strategy. If you want to be even more aggressive, cut another Worship and some counterspells to play more creatures.

It’s up to you what you do with the archetype. Whether you play a budget version, or a tricked out, KOTR-package infused monstrosity, you are sure to enjoy trolling your opponents with this deck. I hope you have enjoyed reading about it, and maybe you’ll consider picking up a list that works for you. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email at [email protected] I will get back to you ASAP.

Thanks for reading, and see you in future articles and videos!

Peyton Tracey

MagicGatheringStrat2 on MTGO
MagicGatheringStrat. on Cockatrice
@MGSPeyton

Commander Corner: Zurgo Bellstriker

Welcome back,

For this week, I decided to get away from the slow ramp decks and control decks for something lean and mean. [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] is about as lean as it gets. A 2/2 for one is pretty solid in other constructed formats, so why not in this one? We can definitely make this work in this wonderful format we call Commander.

Last time we saw Zurgo, he was the man in charge. He was the leader of the Mardu, charging them into battle. He was a master of war, dominating his foes on the battlefield. Things have changed since Sarkhan went back in time. Now, he rings bells and serves Kolaghan. He is Kolaghan’s personal attendant, and essentially a punching bag. When Kolaghan wishes to go to war, its Zurgo’s job to ring the bell and rally the troops together. Before this time shift, Sarkhan and Zurgo were enemies. Sarkhan wanted nothing more than to take vengeance on him, but now that he has saw how low his enemy has fallen, he decided against it. It seems that Zurgo’s fate was worse than what Sarkhan had planned for him.

[c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] lends himself to a super lean aggressive deck. In terms of constructed formats like Standard, he fits square into these hyper aggressive red decks that focus so much on curving out perfectly. This format is no different. The deck’s focus is about curving out and utilizing your mana effectively, while squeezing out every last point of damage you can from each spell you cast. Lets take a look at what troops [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] can rally up for us.

cardart_qtcpFTe09Z

He may have lost his power, but he sure makes up for it in speed and efficiency

[d title= “Zurgo Bellstriker (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Zurgo Bellstriker

Lands

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Mutavault

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

1 Scrying Sheets

1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

28 Snow-Covered Mountain

1 Strip Mine

1 Tectonic Edge

1 Wooded Foothills

[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Anger

1 Ash Zealot

1 Avalanche Riders

1 Chandra’s Phoenix

1 Diaochan, Artful Beauty

1 Dragon Whisperer

1 Eidolon of the Great Revel

1 Fanatic of Mogis

1 Firedrinker Satyr

1 Firefist Striker

1 Flametongue Kavu

1 Foundry Street Denizen

1 Frenzied Goblin

1 Goblin Guide

1 Goblin Heelcutter

1 Goblin Rabblemaster

1 Goblin Wardriver

1 Grim Lavamancer

1 Hellrider

[/d]

[d]

Creatures Cont.

1 Hero of Oxid Ridge

1 Ire Shaman

1 Kargan Dragonlord

1 Legion Loyalist

1 Lightning Berserker

1 Lightning Mauler

1 Magus of the Moon

1 Manic Vandal

1 Mardu Scout

1 Monastery Swiftspear

1 Ogre Battledriver

1 Purphoros, God of the Forge

1 Satyr Firedancer

1 Stormbreath Dragon

1 Thundermaw Hellkite

1 Urabrask the Hidden

1 Vexing Devil

1 War-Name Aspirant

1 Zealous Conscripts

[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Chain of Plasma

1 Falter

1 Fireblast

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Magma Jet

1 Price of Progress

1 Pyrokinesis

1 Searing Blaze

1 Searing Blood

1 Stoke the Flames

Sorceries

1 Arc Lightning

1 Blinding Flare

1 Chain Lightning

1 Goblin War Cry

1 Harness by Force

1 Hordeling Outburst

1 Magmatic Chasm

1 Mizzium Mortars

1 Wheel of Fate

1 Wheel of Fortune

[/d]

[d]

Enchantments

1 Aggravated Assault

1 Goblin War Drums

1 Heat Stroke

1 Sulfuric Vortex

Artifacts

1 Hall of Triumph

[/d]

Price: Paper = $201.42 | MTGO = 154.9 TIX

The MTGO price does not include [c]Goblin War Cry[/c]. I would recommend replacing it with another [c]Falter[/c] effect like [c]Ruthless Invasion[/c], but this slot is up to you.

This deck is pretty much hellbent on beating your opponent’s face into the pavement. This is the most aggressive deck I think I’ve ever seen or built. It’s creature dense, packed with burn and [c]Falter[/c] effects, and some card draw to keep the pain train coming. It does one thing, but it does that one thing extremely well.

The biggest draw to this deck is its curve. I’ve done the best I can to make the curve as good as possible. This deck has been in the works for at least a month now, so I’ve had a lot of time with it. The deck tends to curve out supremely, and usually has some way to use all of its mana in the turn cycle. I skimped a little on the one drops, because our turn one play is usually just [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c]. We do curve up to five drops, or six drops if you include [c]Pyrokinesis[/c] and [c]Fireblast[/c] though you usually won’t be casting it for its mana cost, so that we can maximize the pressure on our opponent during the early game.

Most decks in the format take some time to set up, which is where we do the most of our damage. We curve out to some of the best aggressive five drops printed in recent memory with [c]Stormbreath Dragon[/c], [c]Thundermaw Hellkite[/c], and [c]Urabrask the Hidden[/c]. These hasty threats will be able to close out the game in short order.

If we do end up going into the long game, our smaller creatures will probably get outclassed. So to mitigate this, we have a handfull of [c]Falter[/c] effects. They will allow us to blow out our opponent and shove tons of damage through. I hope your opponent doesn’t plan on blocking often, because that’s not going to happen.

On top of these effects, we also have some mana sinks to help us utilize our mana in the late game. Cards like [c]Aggravated Assault[/c] will give us extra combat steps, which lets us utilize [c]Falter[/c] even more. If one combat step where their creatures can’t block was bad, two seems like a death sentence. [c]Blinding Flare[/c] also acts like a mana sink when we get to pour mana into its strive cost. We can even refill our hand with [c]Wheel of Fortune[/c] and [c]Wheel of Fate[/c] so that we never run out of gas.

Our early game aggression, compounded with our late game mana sinks, lets us consistently keep the pressure on our opponent. This deck will never let up, and will punish any misstep or stumble from our opponent. Most of our creatures may be small, but it’s unwise to underestimate their potential. Who said red was the worst color in EDH? Zurgo would beg to differ.

Overall, this deck is tons of fun if you like turning cards sideways. It borrows its core concepts from the red decks of yore, focusing on curving out instead of shear power. In a format known for durdeling around in the early game, this deck doesn’t mess around. Its quick and unrelenting nature will turn any opponent to a pile of ash. Zurgo is ringing his bell. Will you answer the call to war?

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for a future commander, or topic you wish for me to discuss, let me know in the comments below. Next week, we will take a visit to Ravnica once again to meet the head of the [c]Church of Deals[/c]. I’ll get to testing that deck, as soon as I stop watching Kung Fury. Seriously, go watch that movie. It’s radical.

-Steven Gulsby

 

Linear Primers: Suicide Zoo, Part 1

become immense

Hi all,

Modern is a format that rewards players for choosing decks that win as quickly and efficiently as possible. The top decks to prepare your 75 cards against are Burn, Affinity, Grixis Delver, Twin, Abzan, Infect, and Bloom Titan. The latter two are most capable of exploding and winning by turn 3. Burn and Affinity are less explosive but more consistent at winning by turn 4. Splinter Twin is a “slower” combo deck that wins on turn 4 or later, but it has means of controlling the opponent until the pieces come together. Delver and Abzan are capable of winning quickly or grinding the opponent out.

Aside from these top lists, Bogles, Collected Company Elves, Merfolk, G/R Tron, and other lists are fairly linear. For purposes of this article series, I am using “linear” to describe decks that have a limited number of decisions to make in the early turns where decision-making is critical. When plays open up, the decisions are likely irrelevant. Of the above list, Tron is likely the least linear, but once you figure out a few nuances, its early turns are very similar.

Background

This month I decided to qualify for MOCS. It will be the first time since I got MTGO two years ago that I have attempted to do it, and at this article’s writing, I am 13/15 the way there. I have earned these points, easily might I add, on the back of a Modern linear strategy: Suicide Zoo. I am profiting while playing in 8-man queues and maintaining a 60% win rate.

[d title=”Suicide Zoo (Modern)”]
Land
4 Marsh Flats
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Arid Mesa
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Windswept Heath
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Temple Garden
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Blood Crypt

Creatures
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Death’s Shadow
4 Steppe Lynx
2 Monastery Swiftspear
1 Hooting Mandrills
4 Street Wraith

Other Spells
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Become Immense
4 Temur Battle Rage

Sideboard
4 Thoughtseize
4 Nourishing Shoal
3 Hooting Mandrills
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Faith’s Shield[/d]

While the deck is explosive and extremely consistent at turn three kills, it also plays through a lot of disruption. I am undefeated in 3 ranked matches against Twin, and I am highly favored in the Abzan matchup as well. The deck has a surprising ability to go wide for so few creatures because of all the cantrips, and all you need is one opening to end the game.

This deck is more powerful than the sum of its parts. Consider the resources that you use which are unlike any resource pools that any other deck takes advantage of:

  1. Land-drops, particularly from fetch-lands, enabling ferocious and explosive power from [c]Steppe Lynx[/c].
  2. A low life total produces a lethal [c]Death’s Shadow[/c].
  3. Cards in graveyard enable the casting of [c]Hooting Mandrills[/c] and [c]Become Immense[/c].
  4. Non-creature spells power up [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c].

Each of these cogs rotate together very smoothly and powerfully. When you are making your land drops, you are building your graveyard and lowering your life total. Cyclers like [c]Street Wraith[/c] and [c]Gitaxian Probe[/c] lower your life total and increase the graveyard resource. Comboing out with [c]Temur Battle Rage[/c] and [c]Become Immense[/c] naturally powers up [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] as well.

Because of the interaction between these resources, it is very inadvisable to make any changes to the deck. Many people are tempted to change the land base or bring in [c]Goblin Guide[/c], but both of these changes create a marginal increase in consistency with a huge collapse in explosiveness. The deck is a brick wall that stands strong but needs all of its components.

The next question that comes to everyone’s mind when they see [c]Become Immense[/c] is “Why not just play Infect?” After all, [c]Become Immense[/c] and a creature deals 70% of the damage needed to kill with Infect and only 33% of the damage needed to kill with regular damage. To answer this, I say that this our opponents’ Modern mana-bases are dealing damage to them, that our creatures have more durable backsides, and we play more creatures than Infect can. I have played with Infect, and I have played with Suicide Zoo, and the latter is the more consistent early killer.

The Game-plan

Turn Zero:
Your opening hand is critical, and what’s more is that there are many question marks in your opening hand. You have twelve cantrips, and when examining your seven, it is impossible to tell what those twelve will become once you’ve kept. You have to mulligan hands without creatures, and if you suspect [c]Thoughtseize[/c] or [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c], even one creature can be suspect. What’s more, [c]Death’s Shadow[/c] and [c]Hooting Mandrills[/c] have varied reliability in the early game. Any hand with 1-2 creatures and 1-2 land is a snap keep. Remember that you can go aggro the old-fashioned way without a combo piece.

Opening plays:
The best fetchlands to play in this deck have the same color configurations of the shocklands that you do not play. Since we do not play [c]Godless Shrine[/c] or [c]Stomping Ground[/c], the fetchlands we have 4 of will fetch any shock in the deck. The design for the rest is to have a balance between the shocks, but the best configuration to have on turn 2 is [c]Temple Garden[/c] and [c]Blood Crypt[/c]. The reason is that often you want [c]Steppe Lynx[/c] on turn one and need access to [c]Wild Nacatl[/c] mana and [c]Death’s Shadow[/c] or [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] mana on turn 2.

[c]Mishra’s Bauble[/c] is the most misunderstood card in the deck. With 13 fetchlands, you can use [c]Mishra’s Bauble[/c] to draw a card and give yourself some security knowing that you are drawing a card you want. Take a look at your own top card before activating a fetchland, and you can decide whether you want to pick it up with [c]Gitaxian Probe[/c] or [c]Street Wraith[/c]. If not, wait until after shuffling. Additionally, [c]Mishra’s Bauble[/c] can be activated on your opponent’s upkeep to see what they are drawing and play around it. The card that you draw from this activation will be safe from discard spells.

Aside from bauble, I see many people misplaying the other cantrips. My advice to you for the early game is that if you already know what you are playing that turn, then there is no need to cantrip. Needlessly cycling [c]Street Wraith[/c] and [c]Gitaxian Probe[/c] open you up to crippling [c]Thoughtseize[/c]s and [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c]s. I’ve smiled as many opponents target me with discard, placing [c]Street Wraith[/c] in the graveyard, only for me to topdeck [c]Wild Nacatl[/c] and proceed with the beatdown undeterred.

Besides these cantripping mistakes and directions to take your lands, your first two turns are spent widening out your board. A creature has to get through blockers to combo off.

Finish Him!

The combo is [c]Temur Battle Rage[/c] and [c]Become Immense[/c]. Because you are playing a 48 card deck, this is assembled with relative ease. Even without the pair of cards, either one is often enough to deal lethal damage. Many games will be won with [c]Temur Battle Rage[/c] alone on a creature targeted also by [c]Mutagenic Growth[/c] or just on a [c]Death’s Shadow[/c].

I do not want to advertise this deck as the turn 3 deck of the format that always accomplishes this feat. I win many games on turns six through as high as thirteen. Unlike other aggro decks, this deck does not fold if the opponent survives past turn 4. Any opening creates a kill, and your opponent will not be making good trades with [c]Death’s Shadow[/c] in the late game.

Conclusion

Before I move on to other decks I will look at matchups playing this deck.I’ll show you my numbers against decks in the metagame and tell you how the games play out. Some of them might not be what you think. After that, I will explain the sideboard and tell you how I side in different matches. Continue to Linear Primers: Suicide Zoo, Part 2.

-drinkard

 

The Many Flavors of Goblins in Modern

krenkos command art

Hi all,

Everyone goes gaga over tribes, and Goblins are no exception. They’re cheap to buy and cheap to cast, and droves of them often swing for lethal by the critical turn four. Still, they aren’t producing results. Perhaps it is because we are giving them the wrong role. Consider where they are most powerful in Legacy: a slew of them mix with [c]Rishadan Port[/c] and [c]Wasteland[/c] for a control deck. Again, in Vintage, where many decks win with a few cards, the go-to game plan is [c]Goblin Lackey[/c] on turn one into [c]Goblin Warchief[/c] and [c]Earwig Squad[/c] on turn two. This is a very controlling strategy.

In Modern, we have been focused on one thing: attacking quickly, and reaching with [c]Goblin Guide[/c]. The most recent exciting thing for many Goblins enthusiasts has been [c]Howl of the Horde[/c]. A turn four triple [c]Goblin Grenade[/c] still doesn’t launch our green friends to success, though.

Instead of the aggressive strategy, then, let’s try and take Goblins through the other two modes of play: Control and Combo.

Control Goblins

What exactly are we trying to control with a red-based deck, and how do Goblins contribute to it?

Looking at Modern as a whole, we want to have favorable percentages, or at least plans, against Twin, Abzan, Affinity, Infect, Burn, and Amulet Bloom.

vs. Twin – First of all, we can assert the aggressor role and race. Traditional Goblins decks have been blown out by [c]Electrolyze[/c] in the match-up, but we can do better than a horde of x/1 creatures. Sideboard [c]Combust[/c] and [c]Rending Volley[/c] keep them off their combo plan, and other pieces of burn removal ensure that we can get there.

vs. Abzan – This is a nightmare matchup for Goblins. If they develop their mana, we will throw fodder into massive rhinos and lhurgoyfs until finally succumbing to the stampede. Goblins do not have to allow them to develop their mana, though. We have two of the most powerful effects against Abzan available: [c]Magus of the Moon[/c] and [c]Blood Moon[/c]. We can bolt their birds or target them with [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c].

vs. Affinity – It is strictly a race, but we can play cards that give us the edge in the race: [c]Tin Street Hooligan[/c] seems limited in scope, but a beater for two that grows is efficient enough. [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] keeps [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c] shenanigans at bay, and our sideboard has the most powerful effects available to beat Affinity.

vs. Infect – Infect folds to sufficient removal. [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] and [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], coupled with a nice clock should eliminate their [c]Blighted Agent[/c] and [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] so that we can keep blocking and establishing a clock.

vs. Burn – Like Affinity, we are out to race Burn, but [c]Aether Vial[/c] keeps us from just losing whenever they have an [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] and are ahead, and [c]Dragon’s Claw[/c] post side will give us a lot of life since we are casting red spells as well.

vs. Amulet Bloom – We have the only relevant cards against the [c]Primeval Titan[/c] plan and the [c]Hive Mind[/c] plan: [c]Magus of the Moon[/c] and [c]Blood Moon[/c].

So why choose Goblins for a control deck, anyway? Well, [c]Goblin Rabblemaster[/c] has shown himself to be a capable card even in Jund Midrange, so if those same wheels get turning in Goblins, the train will be hard to stop.

Now that we know what we need to have a plan against archetypes, let’s see if we can build a deck with consistency and pressure.

[d title=”Control Goblins (Modern)”]
Lands
4 Copperline Gorge
8 Mountain
4 Stomping Ground
4 Wooded Foothills

Creatures
4 Ember Hauler
1 Goblin King
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Magus of the Moon
1 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Simian Spirit Guide
3 Tin Street Hooligan
4 Warren Instigator

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
3 Blood Moon
4 Lightning Bolt

Sideboard
1 Blood Moon
4 Dragon’s Claw
4 Rending Volley
4 Searing Blaze
1 Shattering Spree
1 Tin Street Hooligan [/d]

If we’re being honest, this is really a deck that is looking for free wins with turn 2, [c]Simian Spirit Guide[/c] and [c]Blood Moon[/c] or [c]Magus of the Moon[/c]. Of course, while this works against a massive portion of the format, we have to place it in a shell that can still win otherwise.

Looking back at the list, I like our chances here against the format. The only deck that gives me a lot of pause is Zoo, and that is why the 4 [c]Searing Blaze[/c] are in the sideboard.

Combo Goblins

Modern does not have anything remotely close to [c]Food Chain[/c] in terms of power level, but when we fail to port a list from Legacy or Vintage into Modern, we know our next step: old Extended.

There is a long-forgotten piece of equipment that combined nicely with Goblins and Shamans there: [c]Thornbite Staff[/c]. Together with [c]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/c], a number of infinite combinations are present. The easiest two are [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] and [c]Lightning Crafter[/c], winning on the spot. [c]Ember Hauler[/c] may or may not win immediately, but he will certainly get you close. Aside from those, we can likely easily clear the board with [c]Siege-Gang Commander[/c] or [c]Lightning Crafter[/c].

[d title=”Combo Goblins (Modern)”]
Land
20 Mountain

Creatures
4 Ember Hauler
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Krenko, Mob Boss
4 Lightning Crafter
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Mogg War Marshall
1 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Warren Instigator

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
4 Thornbite Staff

Sideboard
4 Blood Moon
4 Dragon’s Claw
4 Rending Volley
3 Shattering Spree[/d]

Finally, since so many want to do stuff like this …

[d title=”Aggro Goblins (Modern)”]
Land
20 Mountain

Creatures
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Goblin Buswhacker
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Legion Loyalist
4 Mogg War Marshall

Other Spells
4 Dragon Fodder
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Krenko’s Command
4 Obelisk of Urd
4 Shared Animosity[/d]

If it isn’t [c]Foundry Street Denizen[/c] into [c]Krenko’s Command[/c] (attack for 3) into [c]Hordeling Outburst[/c] AND [c]Obelisk of Urd[/c], then my friend, it isn’t curving out.

So will any green men rise to the top besides Elves, aided now by [c]Collected Company[/c]? I think if we shift gears away from Aggro, Goblins can do it!

-drinkard

Legacy on Mondays: A Post-Grind Reflection

Welcome Back!

This week I wanted to talk about the Cascade Aggro deck from a few weeks ago that I have brewed and tuned. I have been grinding through some games with it, and just wanted to share some thoughts and observations. For those of you that may be unfamiliar with the list, here is the iteration from the last article and the one that I have been using:

[d title=”Legacy CascAggro V2″]
Creatures
4 Baleful Strix
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 True-Name Nemesis
4 Shardless Agent
4 Tarmogoyf
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Vexing Shusher
Non-Creature Spells
4 Ancestral Vision
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Sylvan Library
3 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Vindicate
Land
3 Verdant Catacombs
4 Polluted Delta
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Tropical Island
1 Bayou
2 Underground Sea
1 Taiga
1 Savannah
1 Volcanic Island
1 Scrubland
1 Badlands
2 Ancient Ziggurat
Sideboard
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Sower of Temptation
2 Thoughtseize
2 Engineered Plague
1 Gilded Drake
1 Mana Maze
2 Qasali Pridemage
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Meddling Mage
1 Vexing Shusher
1 Gaddock Teeg
[/d]

Ahh yes. There is nothing quite like playing a TON of value creatures that get more value creatures to beat down the opponent. Cascade was, obviously, the optimal mechanic, and the list is fairly successful. My current ratio is 57%. While this is not overwhelming, I can at least account for the majority of my losses. It all comes down to one word:

Combo.

Is it not obvious?

It is totally obvious. Decks like this have absolutely nightmarish combo matchups. I am fairly non-interactive, and no matter how value-based or fast I am with my creatures, any opponent playing a broken game is going to win. This is partially why the main deck includes four copies of [c]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/c]. Thalia is pretty good in some combo matchups, namely [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] Tendrils and [c]High Tide[/c] (among others), but is next-to-worthless against others.

I had originally thought that the worst “other” matchup was Dredge, and this was largely true. Unless I could beat Dredge before they went off, which was nigh impossible if they had a nut draw, their deck is too redundant. The one maindeck [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c] was designed to help mitigate this with the [c]Green Sun’s Zenith[/c] package to help me find him, but one Ooze does very little in a deck that has a ton of ways to spill relevant cards into the graveyard. Dredge is a terrible matchup for this deck, and unfortunately fairly common due to the budget nature of Dredge.

On top of all of that, there is one deck that will literally always win the first game and in most cases win the second that I did not take into account when building this latest main deck: Elves. Oh my goodness, is this matchup from hell. My two instant-speed removal spells, while they do manage to deal with most of Elves’ creatures, are not dense enough to make any significant impact. Thalia is a dead card completely. The usefulness of my GSZ toolbox is reduced to a [c]Dryad Arbor[/c] fetch which, by the way, the Elves deck is also playing.

On top of all of this, my sideboard is actual (insert expletive here). When testing this time around, I did not think to change the sideboard; I wanted to see how something diverse would work. Here’s the answer: it doesn’t. Even though I am strongly against polluting your maindeck plan with barely-relevant sideboard cards, this deck’s bad matchups are so bad that I want more than two stinking answers in the ‘board. My maindeck can deal with most fair decks; my sideboard needed some SERIOUS change.

Let’s run it down: two pieces of graveyard hate, one of which doesn’t work against some decks, one way to stop some combo and control strategies, two answers to [c]Show and Tell[/c] strategies, one of which is nice against Zoo, some artifact hate, a way to stop counterspells, a big artifact Wurm thing for control decks, a general catch-all that meddles with the opponent (har har), a singleton anti-High Tide / ANT enchantment, only two ways to help stop Elves in spite of [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], and two pieces of targeted discard.

A motley crew of a board if I have ever seen one is right there. That may be too diverse. I think I was trying to cover too many matchups, some of which I have not even played against yet. I think the maindeck needs tweaks to be more interactive. While a value plan is decent, I want to be able to contend in more matchups and have lines of play that are less linear. Complexity does not always make a deck better, but most of the time adding interaction does.

If I were to improve the sideboard in a very general manner, I believe it would look something like this:

1 [c]Tormod’s Crypt[/c]
1 [c]Gilded Drake[/c]
1 [c]Sower of Temptation[/c]
2 [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c]
2 [c]Rest in Peace[/c]
2 [c]Thoughtseize[/c]
2 [c]Abrupt Decay[/c]
4 [c]Engineered Plague[/c]

All of these numbers are off the top of my head. They are likely subject to change.

I want to take a much closer look at the main deck to see what should be shaved and what should be added. I think that I may want to cut a color; playing five might be too ambitious. At the very least, it’s back to testing. While it’s possible that a creature-based value deck like this could excel in certain metagames, some will just eat the deck alive no matter how much work is put into it.

That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading! Hope to see y’all next week for more Legacy action!

MagicGatheringStrat: The Podcast Ep. 3

This week there are Dragons and Spoilers everywhere. It’s spoiler season again and we have commons. Plus Standard Pauper, Pauper Classic Tuesday’s, Sealed League, Patreon, Vacations, and Silver Black League!!!!
Its the only podcast you need, and thanks for listening!

The MagicGatheringStrat Show, Ep. 1

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

New name, same great taste … in cards.

Section 2: Player run events

MPDC 28.01
16 February 2015
Standard · 18 Players
13 Decks · ~72% Reported
3 rounds Swiss
Top 8 playoff
Hosted by gwyned

1st Izzet Control* by beatnik bobby
2nd Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living* by rremedio1
T4 I hate rats by masterofphysics
T4 Red Deck Wins* by _ShipIt_
T8 RDW* by Carnuz
T8 UB Midrange by drazinus
T8 Red Soldier* by goomy1
T8 UR Control* by tilt_aint_sexy

Cruise Watch: 2015
1st Place: 4 Cruise
2nd Place: 4 Cruise
3rd Place: 4 Cruise
4th Place: 0 Cruise
5th – 8th Place: 7 Cruise

Wow, y’all went cruising this week for sure!


IZZET CONTROL

Standard · Control
1st by beatnik bobby in MPDC 28.01 (5-1)

[d]
Creatures
3 Benthic Giant
3 Coral Barrier
2 Sigiled Starfish

Spells
4 Flurry of Horns
4 Lightning Strike
4 Treasure Cruise
3 Rise of Eagles
3 Voyage’s End
2 Barrage of Boulders
2 Disdainful Stroke
2 Divination
1 Nullify
3 Whisk Away

Lands
9 Island
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Mountain
4 Swiftwater Cliffs
3 Radiant Fountain

SIDEBOARD
4 Scouring Sands
3 Negate
2 Nullify
2 Disdainful Stroke
1 Cancel
1 Coral Barrier
1 Barrage of Boulders
1 Whisk Away
[/d]

Beatnik! You may have defeated me this week, but I’ll get you next time! Next time!!

Yes, he defeated me in this week’s standard pauper sealed league match. But that is ok. It was an awesome fight and we beat each other up real good.

The thing I like about this deck is the [c]Sigiled Starfish[/c]. You read that correctly, the starfish. Why you may ask? Because he lets you scry at instant speed. And he blocks Minotaur tokens. This ridiculous starfish blocks raging minotaurs. How is that even possible? I have no idea. I am just glad he does.

What is the proper title for for a being that can reproduce by segmentation? It? That seems mean. I will just say he and if someone can correct me, feel free.

Now, lets look at an opening hand:

Keep! Very nice hand. And I get to have my pet starfish. Secret tech, you can scry the first upkeep you have after you play the starfish. Yes, it taps it for the turn but you smooth your draw immediately which is nice and can be crucial.

Now, for the curve!

Now let’s look at the next six cards:

Well, I gotta say, Gwyned was right. Izzet is pretty strong. Even though you have a lot of high cost spells, you have the tools to keep it going until you throw your hay maker.

Would you keep the original hand? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Legacy on Mondays: A New Way to Punish

Welcome Back!

Sorry about the lack of an article last week. My girlfriend broke up with me, then work got crazy, and life decided to pour buckets on my parade. Rather than start the “Ho bashing,” as Bava calls it, I am writing this article to introduce some new Legacy bashings! I just recently brewed this deck around the new bannings and unbannings in Legacy. In case you have been living under a rock, look here for the announcement. I have yet to test this deck at all, and I wanted to see what the community would think, as well as explain my reasoning for this brew.

Dan, this one goes out to you. It’s time to bring back the Gruul Aggro deck!

[d title=”Green Red Smash (Legacy)”]
Creatures
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Skyshroud Elite
4 Goblin Guide
4 Boggart Ram-Gang
1 Vithian Renegades
2 Spellbreaker Behemoth
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Eternal Witness
Instants & Sorceries
4 Punishing Fire
2 Simoon
2 Forked Bolt
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Hidetsugu’s Second Rite
Enchantments
3 Rancor
Lands
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Taiga
3 Copperline Gorge
2 Forest
2 Mountain
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
Sideboard
2 Simoon
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Savannah
4 Vexing Shusher
3 Harmonize
[/d]

[c]Treasure Cruise[/c] is gone. [c]Worldgorger Dragon[/c] is back. The solution? Play a deck that will be good pre-board against the surge of RUG and BUG Delver decks that are soon to follow, and a deck that can hose Reanimator post-board. The goal of this deck is to do just that.

The start was with the [c]Punishing Fire[/c] engine. It is a very powerful one, and is quite effective at dispatching many of Delver’s early plays, such as [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c] and flipped [c]Delver of Secrets[/c]. The combo can also be pointed at the opponent’s face, and gives very precise control over their life total. This warrants the inclusion of a copy of [c]Hidetsugu’s Second Rite[/c], which can end a game very quickly. Most opponents will not see this coming!

Other than the Punishing-Grove engine, the deck wants to come out of the gates fast. [c]Goblin Guide[/c] will pressure the opponent’s life total early, and be a target for quick removal which will protect our later threats. [c]Skyshroud Elite[/c] is another powerful 1-drop that will be a 2/3 very often. I prefer this to [c]Kird Ape[/c] because it is more likely to be a 2/3 on turn 1 (at least in my opinion), and it also puts a small bit of psychological pressure on the opponent. The more they have to think about, the more likely it is that they will make a play mistake.

For the midgame, there are a bunch of powerful creatures that will dominate and plays made by Delver decks at this stage. [c]Bloodbraid Elf[/c] is one helluva card. Almost anything into which she can cascade is beneficial to us. Burn can clear creatures, and other creatures will help to pressure the opponent even more and generate board presence. Other hasters such as [c]Boggart Ram-Gang[/c] and [c]Goblin Guide[/c] are especially potent, as they provide instantaneous action to supplement the Elf.

Normally, I would not run [c]Green Sun’s Zenith[/c] and [c]Bloodbraid Elf[/c] together in the same deck. Cascade + X Spell = a big no-no. But this deck needs a way to beat combo, and [c]Gaddock Teeg[/c] in the sideboard is one of if not the best options to do that. GSZ also offers a few nice utility dudes to gain value, or it can just find a [c]Bloodbraid Elf[/c] to get you back in the game.

[c]Spellbreaker Behemoth[/c] is a creature that needs its own explanation. This is a card that never sees Legacy play, and that is because Gruul Aggro decks are unpopular. But it is so, so good in the [c]Force of Will[/c] format. A 5/5 for 4 that is uncounterable is amazing as a finisher. Against decks without counterspells, it will make most creatures that they play seem tiny. Another card that deserves its own explanation is [c]Simoon[/c]. I predict that Death and Taxes will also see a rise, and [c]Simoon[/c] is a [c]Plague Wind[/c] against that deck. They run a ridiculous number of X/1’s; usually [c]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/c] and [c]Serra Avenger[/c] are the only relevant cards that [c]Simoon[/c] does not kill. I have gone with four between the main deck and sideboard. This may be excessive, especially the main deck copies, but [c]Simoon[/c] is useful against a such a wide variety of other decks as well that I feel it deserves the spot.

Well, that’s all for this week. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below.

Thanks for reading!

Commander Corner: Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Welcome back,

In the High City of [c]Paliano[/c], there is a goblin who rules the underground. The council above sends the prisoners to his domain to be locked away forever. They will never be seen or heard from again. The only contact they will have is with the dungeon warden himself. He holds the keys to every lock in Paliano.

When he isn’t locking way wrongdoers, he schemes up ways to overthrow the council. His goal is to gain control of the High City, with the help of his many goblin assassins, and plunge it into chaos. He also wishes to slay his arch rival, [c]Muzzio, Visionary Architect[/c]. If he can take down Muzzio, he can take over the entire city. With enough time, he will surely succeed.

[c]Grenzo, Dungeon Warden[/c] is a bit of an odd commander. His [c]cellar door[/c]-esque ability isn’t a normal design for a creature. You can make him as big as you want, though, which is a huge plus.

It can be hard for any deck to really take advantage of this ability, especially in these colors. While we may not be able to abuse his ability, it can certainty pay off for us in the later stages of the game. He provides a solid mana-sink that lets us grab creatures from out of nowhere.

Let’s take a look at what Grenzo can come up with for us this week.

ArtID 153180_Nozzo, Goblin Dungeonkeeper_Final01

He schemes below the city, waiting for his chance to take over Paliano.

[d title=”Grenzo’s Cutthroats (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Lands

1 Auntie’s Hovel

1 Blood Crypt

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Cavern of Souls

1 Command Tower

1 Dragonskull Summit

1 Graven Cairns

16 Mountain

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse

8 Swamp

1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Adaptive Automaton

1 Battle Squadron

1 Beetleback Chief

1 Bloodmark Mentor

1 Boggart Harbinger

1 Boggart Mob

1 Frogtosser Banneret

1 Gempalm Incinerator

1 Goblin Bushwhacker

1 Goblin Chieftain

1 Goblin Guide

1 Goblin King

1 Goblin Lackey

1 Goblin Marshal

1 Goblin Matron

1 Goblin Piledriver

1 Goblin Recruiter

1 Goblin Ringleader

1 Goblin Ruinblaster

1 Goblin Sharpshooter[/d]

[d]

Creatures (cont.)

1 Goblin Warchief

1 Goblin Wardriver

1 Goblin Wizard

1 Horde of Boggarts

1 Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician

1 Jeering Instigator

1 Knucklebone Witch

1 Krenko, Mob Boss

1 Legion Loyalist

1 Lightning Crafter

1 Mad Auntie

1 Mogg War Marshal

1 Moggcatcher

1 Purphoros, God of the Forge

1 Reckless One

1 Siege-Gang Commander

1 Skirk Drill Sergeant

1 Skirk Prospector

1 Tuktuk Scrapper

1 Tuktuk the Explorer

1 Warren Instigator

1 Wort, Boggart Auntie[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Doom Blade

1 Hero’s Downfall

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Tarfire

1 Terminate

Sorceries

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Dreadbore

1 Fodder Launch

1 Gamble

1 Mizzium Mortars

1 Patriarch’s Bidding

1 Warren Weirding[/d]

[d]

Enchantments

1 Goblin Warrens

1 Phyrexian Arena

1 Quest for the Goblin Lord

1 Shared Animosity

1 Sulfuric Vortex

Artifacts

1 Lightning Greaves

1 Obelisk of Urd

1 Reito Lantern

1 Sol Ring

Planeswalkers

1 Chandra, Pyromaster

[/d]

This deck is meant to kill your opponent as fast as possible. Its low curve allows you to get ahead of your opponent and apply as much pressure as possible right from the start.

Many of these creatues either buff your team, apply tons of pressure, or search for more goblins. Grenzo acts as a huge finisher and can also find some creatures from the bottom of the deck with his ability. With [c]Reito Lantern[/c] out, he just turns into [c]Zombify[/c] on a stick. The amount of synergy and sheer aggression that this deck can put out will crush most opponents before they made any meaningful play. Pumping out threats consistently and turning creatures sideways is the name of the game, and Grenzo is happy to provide everything you might need to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

This deck does have an issue when it comes to the late game.

Since your creatures are much smaller then most, they will become outclassed the longer the game goes. You can remedy this by simply just going wide. You can produce as many goblin tokens as you can count with [c]Beetleback Chief[/c], [c]Goblin Marshal[/c], [c]Krenko, Mob Boss[/c], [c]Mogg War Marshal[/c], and [c]Siege-Gang Commander[/c]. Krenko can get out of hand quickly if left unchecked. He is usually the main way of winning in this deck besides just beating your opponent to death with all of your 1/1s and 2/2s.

When building this deck, I grouped up what type of goblins I wanted into different classes. There are four classes of goblins in this deck.

  1. There are the lords which give your team some type of buff, whether it be giving them +1/+1 or first strike. Cards like [c]Goblin King[/c], [c]Bloodmark Mentor[/c], and [c]Goblin Warchief[/c] fall here.
  2. Then there are the tutors, which search up any goblin that you need at the time. [c]Goblin Recruiter[/c], [c]Goblin Ringleader[/c], and [c]Moggcatcher[/c] will get the job done for us.
  3. Then there are the beaters, which are only there to beat your opponent senseless. Creatures like [c]Mogg War Marshal[/c], [c]Battle Squadron[/c], [c]Goblin Guide[/c], [c]Goblin Lackey[/c] and [c]Beetleback Chief[/c] are here to put the hurt on your opponent.
  4. The last class is called support. These cards don’t search up goblins, but merely keep them going by bringing them back or protecting them. [c]Goblin Wizard[/c], [c]Mad Auntie[/c], and [c]Wort, Boggart Auntie[/c] tend to fall in this category.

If a goblin did not fall into one of these four classes, then it didn’t make it into the deck. Cards that can fit into these categories will provide the most synergy and will work together to crush your opponent better than most.

While testing this deck, there were a few cards that were in here that ended up not making the cut. The big ones that I ended up cutting are [c]Goblin Rabblemaster[/c] and [c]Coat of Arms[/c]. [c]Goblin Rabblemaster[/c] may seem like an auto-include for a deck like this, but it does not play nice in an all-goblins strategy. While you almost always will be attacking, there are times when you have to hold your creatures back. Suiciding my lords into my opponents creatures almost always ended up in a loss. The card just doesn’t play well with other goblins.

[c]Coat of Arms[/c] ended up being cut because I found that [c]Obelisk of Urd[/c] ended up being simply better in most cases. I was able to get it out earlier than [c]Coat of Arms[/c] and it still provided basically the same effect, so I ended up choosing the Obelisk over it.

This deck is for anybody that likes a tribal theme, or just wants a hyper aggressive EDH deck. This deck is great at punishing any player that stumbles, which is an all-too-common thing in this format. Any opponent whose deck takes some time to set up shop will have a difficult time dealing with the pressure this deck can provide in an instant. If you like turning creatures sideways and racing your opponent, this is the deck for you.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for a commander you want to be featured in a future article, let me know in the comments below. Next week, we go bigger. Much bigger. See you next time, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

The Standard Pauper Show, Ep 32

Not Gruul? Then set review. This week it’s Green Red and Multicolor. Izzett Kicks and Golgari Butt fights abound. Set review smash!!
The Gauntlet is entering the end game and only 3 decks remain. Who will be the champion! The guys review two rounds.
This is the Standard Pauper Show!

Legacy on Mondays: Terravore Update

Welcome Back!

Thanks to the magic of the internet and Reddit, I received a LOT of comments about last week’s [c]Terravore[/c] deck. Here is the list from last week, in case you did not see:

[d title=”Terravore Land Sac, V1″]
Creatures
4 Terravore
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Sylvan Safekeeper
Instants & Sorceries
4 Swords to Plowshares
3 Life from the Loam
Artifacts
4 Mox Diamond
3 AEther Vial
1 Zuran Orb
Enchantments
3 Exploration
Land
1 Plains
3 Forest
1 Verdant Catacombs
3 Wasteland
3 Flagstones of Trokair
4 Windswept Heath
4 Savannah
1 Thespian’s Stage
1 Dark Depths
1 Sejiri Steppe

Sideboard
1 Oracle of Nectars
3 Disenchant
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Life from the Loam
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Bojuka Bog
2 Zuran Orb

[/d]

The list was very preliminary, and had not been tested much. Fortunately, the good people of the MTGLegacy sub-reddit came out to give me some advice. My internet has been giving me a really hard time lately, and I have not been able to test their suggestions.

I am very glad for them, as some people have experience with similar decks that I do not. Thanks so much guys, and sorry I could not individually respond to your comments.

Biggest Points

The biggest thing I heard: “Play [c]Green Sun’s Zenith[/c]!”

It is such a powerful card, and I am not sure why I haven’t used it yet, especially after I did in the Cascade creatures deck. The synergy with the deck is awesome; I can get any creature I want, which is especially good with [c]Sylvan Safekeeper[/c] and other utility creatures. I really took this to heart, as you will see in the updated list.

On a similar line, I also got many suggestions that I should just add more utility in general. Like I said, the testing has not been significant, and I likely am playing far too many mana dorks. The number has been reduced from 8 to only 2, as [c]Mox Diamond[/c] is just that much better.

[c]Crop Rotation[/c] seems to be another discussed card. Yes, if I go for more utility, of course I must play this! Supplementing the land toolbox with Rotation could add so much more versatility, especially when combined with a [c]Green Sun’s Zenith[/c] package. Lands such as [c]Karakas[/c] and [c]Maze of Ith[/c] are good against a lot of the metagame right now, and also can potentially be replaced by sideboard cards if unnecessary in a given matchup.

Okay, I heard a cry for only one other card… You guessed it, [c]Armageddon[/c]. My original list had three, which I cut to one, and then zero. I just didn’t think it would be practical, but on second thought, I think that it is the perfect finisher for the deck. I would not play more than 1, but with one or two [c]Terravore[/c]s or Knights in play, this could lock out a game in just a couple of turns. In fact, I think that the mana dorks are likely a bit of a leftover from the three-of [c]Armageddon[/c] iterations, as I expected to be needing much more mana. This could account for the huge numbers of chaff creatures.

Finally, I would like to thank Redditor WiderGravy for posting his own inspired build, from which I took some of the inspiration for this list. His can be found here.

[d title=”Terravore Land Sac V2″]
Creatures
4 Terravore
4 Knight of the Reliquary
2 Noble Hierarch
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
1 Sylvan Safekeeper
Instants and Sorceries
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
4 Swords to Plowshares
3 Crop Rotation
1 Armageddon
2 Life from the Loam
Enchantments
3 Exploration
Artifacts
4 Mox Diamond
1 Zuran Orb
Lands
1 Plains
1 Forest
1 Verdant Catacombs
2 Wasteland
4 Flagstones of Trokair
4 Windswept Heath
1 Thespian’s Stage
1 Dark Depths
1 Sejiri Steppe
4 Savannah
1 Maze of Ith
1 Karakas
[/d]

I have found room for many of the suggestions of the Redditors kind enough to comment. I really look forward to testing this list, and seeing how it performs!

There is no sideboard yet. I want to test some first, and determine which matchups are the worst, and account for this. Combo is not going to be too horrible, with a [c]Gaddock Teeg[/c] in the main deck, but I like having more backup in the sideboard as well. He also stops my one [c]Armageddon[/c] and all of the [c]Green Sun’s Zenith[/c]s. Thalia, anyone?

Anyway, that’s all for this week. Thank you, Reddit, for bringing out the best to give me advice! I hope to have an update for you next week, and possibly another brew as well. Thanks for reading!

/Peyton

Win More, Lesson One: Start By Winning

Hi all,

I want to share with you all how to win more. Primarily, I suppose I am a Modern writer, but this lesson will help you win more at Magic in general. The concept of “Start By Winning” is a deck-selecting, opening hand-mulliganing, and game-playing philosophy I have adopted since attempting to become a more competitive Magic Online player, and it has really advanced my level of play.

What’s more is that it has boosted my enjoyment of the game immeasurably.

Backstory

The first deck I remember copying was called “Wrath of Titania.” This was before “netdecking” had even gained meaning. There may have been a few Angelfire sites out there with various brews, but otherwise the concept didn’t exist. Instead, I found the list in a Duelist magazine. Does anyone even know what that is anymore?

The deck was beautiful. The opponent was completely controlled by artifacts until I played [c]Wrath of God[/c] and [c]Titania’s Song[/c] in subsequent turns. Sometimes the song would be followed by [c]Armageddon[/c]. This was in Type 2, as Standard was known then.

Basically, this type of deck really appealed to me for many years. A lot of Modern players are really attracted to this strategy: don’t let your opponent do anything until whatever absurd card wins the game for you. Whether it is playing enough hateful white enchantments, discarding enough cards from your opponent’s hand, destroying enough of their lands, or locking them by some other means, you will encounter this behavior in the Tournament Practice room roughly one out of three (if not more) games.

Don't let your opponent do anything.
Don’t let your opponent do anything.

Present Day

Have you ever tried this strategy? How did the games go? If I had my guess, I would say none of the games appeared remotely close. Either:

  1. Your opponent conceded at the first sign of [c]Wrench Mind[/c], [c]Runed Halo[/c], or maindeck [c]Molten Rain[/c].
  2. You succeeded in preventing your opponent from finding any enjoyment from the game.
  3. Your opponent applied pressure and left you likely with very little on the board because they answered your attempts to control them.

Whenever you see a deck that you think is interesting, measure how easy it is to build versus its success in actual tournaments. If it is cheap to make and is not placing in tournaments, then it should no longer be interesting. Still, these decks are rampant in the Tournament Practice room, and apparently this practice is not going well for them. The decks continue to be absent from dailies results.

The problem with the “control everything” strategy, particularly in Modern, is the power level of early plays. A simple early [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c], or in some cases [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] is all the pressure the opponent needs to kill you, even if it takes many turns to do so. Their lands are untapped during your turn, meaning they can interact with the ways that you try to stop them.

The calligraphy of combat is written with strokes of sudden blood.
The calligraphy of combat is written with strokes of sudden blood.

I have been on both sides of the one-drop beatdown. While experimenting with Modern decks such as Bogles, Eggs, Mono-Red Burn, and Ad Nauseam I would often get destroyed by a turn one [c]Delver of Secrets[/c]. At the same time, I was trying to figure out why the lists that were working succeeded. I have tried many times on this site to articulate why certain archetypes like Gruul Beats and Mono-Green Infect performed well at certain times.

Finally I think I’ve figured it out: their fundamental approach is to start the game in a winning position and remain there.

Many Modern decks do not have this design. Decks in Modern aim to assemble specific combinations of cards or to prevent the opponent from winning. Players would do much better to take the upper hand right away. If you don’t start winning until you have [c]Angel’s Grace[/c] and [c]Ad Nauseam[/c], or [c]Slippery Bogle[/c] with two auras on him, or Urza Tron, then you are doing yourself a disservice in a significant percentage of your matches. You are starting the game severely behind your opponent, disadvantaged, and with the hope that your pieces come together. If they don’t, and your deck has a back-up plan, then your deck is most likely diluted.

Instead of crossing fingers and hoping to achieve a winning position by turns 3 and 4, what I’m telling you to do is to play a solid early beater and maintain the winning position. Early beaters include [c]Wild Nacatl[/c], [c]Goblin Guide[/c], [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c], [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], [c]Glistener Elf[/c] and possibly even [c]Steppe Lynx[/c]. With no investment of mana during your turn, you can easily carry these creatures to victory quickly.

Once you have your victory condition and the requisite mana placed in your deck, I find that the best cards to support your win are those that serve either the purpose of protecting the win or speeding up the win. Consider some of these examples:

  • In Infect, [c]Vines of Vastwood[/c] and [c]Giant Growth[/c] deal colossal amounts of damage or protect your creature from [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], or [c]Path to Exile[/c].
  • In Zoo, [c]Boros Charm[/c] protects your creatures from spot removal and mass destruction, or it deals four or more to the dome.
  • [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] is easily supported by any instants and sorceries. Even playing a couple of [c]Lightning Bolt[/c]s targeting your opponent can save Swifty from a [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] your opponent may have!

When your win conditions are beaters, cards like [c]Mutagenic Growth[/c] and its kin serve both to protect the win and to win faster.

Nothing quickens the predator's blood like the unfamiliar scents of new hunting grounds and the mewling cries of new prey.
Nothing quickens the predator’s blood like the unfamiliar scents of new hunting grounds and the mewling cries of new prey.

Applying The Philosophy

I’ve shared Infect decks with you before. If you want a [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] deck, literally look at any results page from the past several months, and you can find a few. Lately, though, my weapon of choice has been a JohnnyHotSauce Zooish Burnish… thing. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s pretty darn good.

[d title=”HotSauce ZooBurn (Modern)”]
Land
4 Bloodstained Mire
2 Copperline Gorge
2 Mountain
3 Sacred Foundry
3 Stomping Ground
4 Wooded Foothills
3 Windswept Heath

Creatures
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Goblin Guide
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Wild Nacatl

Other Spells
3 Become Immense
4 Boros Charm
3 Gut Shot
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
2 Searing Blood

Sideboard
2 Chained to the Rocks
3 Destructive Revelry
1 Gut Shot
3 Path to Exile
3 Rest in Peace
2 Searing Blaze
1 Searing Blood[/d]

This is by far my favorite deck I’ve ever played on MTGO.

I also happen to be starting out relatively successfully with it. I’ve been in two finals of Player-Run Events, winning the first, and I’ve gone 4-0, 3-1 twice, 2-2, and 0-2 in dailies for an overall 9:6 match record in ticketed events.

Giant double-striker on turn 3, here we come!
Giant double-striker on turn 3, here we come!

I have strayed from the original list in the following ways:

  • JohnnyHotSauce originally played 9 fetches, including 4 [c]Arid Mesa[/c], and 8 shocks. Honestly my mana-base is unacceptable. It hasn’t cost me a game that [c]Windswept Heath[/c] can only fetch shocklands yet, but it has been awfully close. I should play the full 8 shocks and 4 [c]Bloodstained Mire[/c], 4 [c]Wooded Foothills[/c], and 1 [c]Arid Mesa[/c], as it would be functionally identical to his mana-base.
  • I removed the 3 [c]Dismember[/c] from the sideboard in place of [c]Path to Exile[/c]. [c]Dismember[/c] is clearly better overall, but I felt like I had too little to side in against Burn, particularly when on the play. Between [c]Goblin Guide[/c], [c]Gut Shot[/c], and [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c], there are simply too many cards to side out that need good replacements.

Beyond those, I have forced myself to stay true to the original list. It is tiresome to hear reviews of decks after the reviewer has gutted them out of some key cards. I want eventually to test something in place of the [c]Rest in Peace[/c] cards, whether they are [c]Pillar of Flame[/c], [c]Jotun Grunt[/c] or other similar pieces. This change would allow me to get back to the original [c]Dismember[/c].

You serve Phyrexia. Your pieces would better serve Phyrexia elsewhere.
You serve Phyrexia. Your pieces would better serve Phyrexia elsewhere.

This deck is the epitome of start winning and then either protect or speed up the win. An early [c]Wild Nacatl[/c] or [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] can go the distance over the course of many turns, protected by removal, pump spells, and [c]Boros Charm[/c], or you can randomly KO people on turn three (happens a lot!) with [c]Become Immense[/c] and [c]Boros Charm[/c], double striking with a 9/9.

Hopefully you can look forward to seeing me more with the deck. I will write about its match-ups and sideboarding plans in the future, but I really just wanted to use it here to illustrate the effectiveness of the start-by-winning mindset. I hope that you’ll try it out because I know you won’t be disappointed.

-drinkard