Cheap as Chips, Ep. 3: Cake and Ice Cream

Ice cream and chocolate cake. Bagels and cream cheese. Prosciutto e melone. Trample and regenerate.

Some things in life go together so well that, as time passes, you really can’t imagine one without the other. In the pantheon of Magic creature static abilities, trample holds a special place. Almost every other creature static ability is designed to either wound your opponent or wound your opponent’s creatures. A few static abilities do neither, but instead help protect your creature.

But trample? Trample is all about crushing through a wall of critters to smash your opponent’s face all in one go. Do that and also throw in the ability to protect your creature and you are well on your way to a rib-tickling good time at the Magic table.

Enter [c]Lotleth Troll[/c].

Now, before we go further, let me say that at a current price of 0.25 tickets on Mtgotraders, Lotleth Troll is at the outer end of what we uber-budget brewers are willing to spend on a card. But for Lotleth Troll, it’s worth it. We want this guy so bad we’re going to build a deck with 8x of them (well, sort of, keep reading). This deck may stretch our 5-ticket limit, but let’s see what we can do.

Lotleth Troll’s ‘discard a creature’ buff ability led me to think that adding [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] would allow a range of fun activated abilities to stay on the table even if a pile of creatures are in the graveyard. And if one of your precious Lotleth Trolls should somehow perish, Necrotic Ooze becomes a big impersonator of the troll (well, ok, minus the trample, but that’s what [c]Rancor[/c] is for).

The starting point falls within the same overall playbook as my rogue deck from last week: play weenies that can grow, and disrupt your opponent’s hand while you’re hitting them in the face. The difference here is better disruption, but at the cost of having some more expensive 4-mana critters. [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] offers up a range of possibilities. Let’s see what I came up with:

[d title+”Necrotic Troll”]

Lands

8 Forest

9 Swamp

4 Woodland Cemetery

1 Bojuka Bog

1 Golgari Rot Farm

Creatures

2 Slithering Shade

1 Elvish Mystic

2 Scute Mob

2 Slitherhead

4 Lotleth Troll

1 Royal Assassin

4 Necrotic Ooze

1 Glissa Sunseeker

2 Reaper of the Wilds

1 Avatar of Woe

Spells

2 Despise

2 Duress

3 Extirpate

3 Rancor

1 Font of Return

2 Wrench Mind

4 Grisly Salvage

Sideboard

1 Font of Return

2 Geth’s Verdict

1 Infest

1 Memoricide

2 Murderous Cut

2 Killing Wave

2 Gleeful Sabotage

2 Great Sable Stag

2 Glissa Sunseeker

[/d]

Ideal gameflow:

T1: Disrupt your opponent’s hand. Consider using Extirpate to remove a set of fetch lands from the game, for example.

T2: Play Lotleth Troll. You know you want to. In fact, this is risky here because you have no mana to protect him. It requires a monumental amount of patience, but try to play him next turn. Instead play one of your one-drop dorks or disrupt again.

T3: Okay, play your Lotleth Troll here so you can protect him.

T4: Discard a Slitherhead and then scavenge it. Swing with a 4/3 trampler. Grisly Salvage or Wrench Mind, while leaving black mana open to protect Mr. Lotleth.

T5: Now consider some of your other creatures, primarily [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] or [c]Reaper of the Wilds[/c]. Depending on what’s in your graveyard, you can tap the Ooze to destroy stuff, buff it by discarding creatures, or give it hexproof or deathtouch.

The many options you’ll have make this a fun deck to play with. I feel it’s missing a big finisher, however. There’s no real way to jump up and surprise your opponent with a huge pile of damage (like [c]Notorious Throng[/c] from my deck last week, for example). But your board presence by T6 can get substantial if you have a [c]Scute Mob[/c] down and either of your 4-drops. The question with this deck is whether there’s really enough power to close out fast enough to avoid the T5-T6 kills that most premium Modern decks can easily manage.

Card analysis:

[c]Duress[/c], [c]Despise[/c], [c]Wrench Mind[/c], [c]Extirpate[/c]: These cards work well together as combo-busters, but they do take up a lot of space I would normally reserve for weenies. But I feel like the deck lacks power against tier-1 or 2 match-up without a bit of disruption.

[c]Slithering Shade[/c]: Once in the graveyard, allows you to pump your [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c].

[c]Scute Mob[/c]: Loads of fun when he starts to grow.

[c]Slitherhead[/c]: A key engine to grow Lotleth Troll.

[c]Font of Return[/c]: You may end up with too many critters in the graveyard. A single Font is there as deep back-up. Do you guys know rugby? This card is your full-back.

[c]Royal Assassin[/c], [c]Glissa Sunseeker[/c], [c]Avatar of Woe[/c]: My attempt to be a bit tricksy with Necrotic Ooze. You want these cards in your graveyard, so toss them to Lotleth Troll’s ability if you can.

[c]Necrotic Ooze[/c], [c]Reaper of the Wilds[/c]: Four mana creatures are not the normal style for a budget deck that needs to swing fast before the combos start going off. Reaper’s scry ability is great, she also helps out in the graveyard. I just couldn’t resist.

Sideboard: Just some standard removal cards and [c]Great Sable Stag[/c] if you run into dimir colors. The [c]Killing Wave[/c] is my attempt at a budget [c]Damnation[/c]. Yeah I know, not the same thing. I feel like this sideboard needs a lot of improvement. Let me know what you think.

How does it play? Let’s check out some sample games.

Faithless Looting #13: Cruising with Commons

Welcome back to Faithless Looting, my weekly look at budget lists and budget formats.

If there is one truly contentious card brought to us by Khans of Tarkir, that card is [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], and it is contentious because it just might be “too good.” Its effect, after all, is very similar to [c]Ancestral Recall[/c], and while you’ll never cast Cruise on turn 1, it is pretty easy to meet the conditions on t4-5 to cast it for 1-2 mana. In long, grindy games, it’s a powerhouse.

People think it should be banned in quite a few formats; other people act like you’re trying to steal their baby when you try and ban cards. It will be interesting to see what WotC decides to do, if anything. Today we’re going to look at Cruise in Pauper. After all, if a card is considered OP in formats like Modern and Legacy, it must REALLY be OP in our beloved all-commons format, right? It certainly makes Blue that much more powerful and consistent; things that Blue really didn’t need since it already dominates the meta. Let’s take a look at other places the card shines, starting with Daily lists from this past weekend.

ScionOfJustice, who usually wins with black cards, decided to splash blue to include 4x [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] in the main, and a singleton [c]Ghostly Flicker[/c] for good measure. Basically he is playing MBC with Cruise in it; I guess you really can play it in every deck. Here is the list.

[d title=”MBC Cruise by ScionOfJustice”]
Creatures
1 Augur of Skulls
4 Chittering Rats
1 Crypt Rats
4 Cuombajj Witches
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
2 Liliana’s Specter
1 Mulldrifter
1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
3 Phyrexian Rager

Spells
4 Chainer’s Edict
1 Syphon Life
4 Treasure Cruise
1 Wrench Mind
1 Devour Flesh
1 Ghostly Flicker
1 Undying Evil
2 Oubliette
1 Pestilence

Land
4 Dimir Guildgate
4 Dismal Backwater
15 Swamp

Sideboard
1 Crypt Rats
2 Child of Night
2 Choking Sands
1 Disfigure
2 Font of Return
2 Geth’s Verdict
1 Nausea
1 Pharika’s Cure
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Stinkweed Imp [/d]

Surucucu added 2x Cruise in Delverfiend, which seems like a very natural inclusion.

Dirknight put the full set into UR Control, and I think this deck is one of the biggest Cruise winners. Enough to push it into consistent Tier 1 territory? I guess we’ll see, but the deck seems very strong. Here is his list:

[d title=”UR Control Cruise by Dirknight”]
Creatures
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Mulldrifter
4 Sea Gate Oracle

Spells
4 Firebolt
4 Flame Slash
4 Preordain
4 Treasure Cruise
4 Counterspell
2 Electrostatic Bolt
4 Exclude

Land
6 Island
3 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Izzet Guildgate
3 Mountain
1 Radiant Fountain
4 Swiftwater Cliffs
4 Terramorphic Expanse

Sideboard
2 Curfew
2 Curse of the Bloody Tome
1 Electrickery
4 Hydroblast
2 Negate
4 Pyroblast [/d]

RainbowSlushy played a faeries version of UR Control with a full set. Zakurero22 4-0ed with a list that is a cross between Delverfiend and UR Control and ran 3x Cruise.

Funny enough, the dominant blue deck in the format, Delver (or Mono Blue Faeries), is only checking in at 1x Cruise for the most part, with the greedier lists reaching for 2.

We’re not seeing [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] make its way into green decks like Stompy or White Weenie lists quite yet. Sensible choice, or simply lack of imagination? While we’re being hypothetical, does Cruise make [c]Thought Scour[/c] playable in blue decks? I was a little surprised to see zero Cruise in the various Affinity decks that placed; it seems like a fair 1x or 2x in a lot of those lists, especially the lists that are sacrificing all those 1-mana artifacts to draw cards anyway.

Outside of daily lists, there are other places where Cruise might fit. I personally tried Burn and, like most attempts at adding a color to Burn (or any similar “win fast” list), I felt like diluting the deck made it worse rather than better. Even so, two distinct threads popped up just for Cruise Burn on Reddit, so people are having similar thoughts.

Dredge & Delve

If there are two mechanics that work well together, these two seem like they’re it. The synergy is simple and natural: one adds cards to the GY, often for a beneficial effect, and the other takes cards away from the GY, also for a beneficial effect.

Aside from Cruise, Delve has a couple good cards we can experiment with, including [c]Death Rattle[/c], [c]Hooting Mandrills[/c], and [c]Sultai Scavenger[/c]. We only get 7 cards total at common level with the Delve mechanic, though we’ll likely see more in upcoming sets. That’s still more cards than we have with Dredge, though, which clocks in at only 5. Notable players include [c]Stinkweed Imp[/c], [c]Golgari Brownscale[/c], [c]Moldervine Cloak[/c], and [c]Shambling Shell[/c].

Based on the cards we have with each mechanic, we are looking at Black cards with both mechanic, Green cards with both mechanic, and Blue cards with … oh wait, it’s just [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]. We could consider [c]Logic Knot[/c] as well, but Cruise is strictly better, I think, and we need to be careful about how many Delve cards we include in a list.

So a D&D list would be UG, UB, or GB. Mono-colored lists could be possible, but I think two colors makes a lot more sense. We’re not playing a speedy aggro deck in any case, so the additional color should only help us. We could even go all three colors if we want to get greedy.

In UB, we definitely want Stinkweed Imp and Treasure Cruise, which automatically has us looking at a grindy control deck with card advantage. Cards like [c]Pilfered Plans[/c] let us draw cards AND fill our GY, which seems pretty good with Cruise. [c]Soul Manipulation[/c] is another fun include, while [c]Lurking Informant[/c] is FAR too fiddly, but scrying every turn and adding cards to the GY seems fun in a casual list. [c]Scarscale Ritual[/c] is another of my favorite UB cards and works particular well in lists with Undying, which UB also has, namely [c]Stormbound Geist[/c]. [c]Death Rattle[/c] and [c]Ghastly Demise[/c] are both good pieces of removal that care about how many cards we have in our GY; we don’t want too many, but a few fit in nicely.

GB has the other best synergies (UG seems unappealing, really). [c]Shambling Shell[/c] is the only self-sacrificing recursive creature in the game. He single-handedly sends himself to the graveyard AND brings himself back, filling our GY with more cards in the process. [c]Grisly Salvage[/c] helps us dig for creatures or land and fills the GY as well. [c]Drown in Filth[/c] is decent removal if our GY is full. Golgari also gifts us with Scavenge creatures like [c]Sluiceway Scorpion[/c] if we want another angle on GY shenanigans. Cards like [c]Desecrator Hag[/c] and [c]Pit Keeper[/c] let us gain card advantage from having creatures in the GY, and we could even go for an [c]Exhume[/c] angle (or at least back-up plan) using Dredge to throw an [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c] or another fatty in the GY and (if we want) a singleton [c]Dragon Breath[/c] just for kicks.

I don’t have any lists for you, but I think there are some there asking to be built. Even though there isn’t a contest this week, feel free to look at some of the cards above and submit lists in the comments if you think something’s there.

Until next time, keep the faith!

/bava