Saga of Blue-Eyes White Dragon Structure Deck – A Brief Review and More (Yu-Gi-Oh!)

This will be my first article on this blog about the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, which I discovered and came to like only very recently, having detested it for as long as I can think and always having thought it sucked compared to the grand M:tG. For more Yu-Gi-Oh related articles please check out my old, Yu-Gi-Oh focussed blog at http://casualyugiohwithandi.wordpress.com.

In this article, I will be giving you a brief review of the latest Yu-Gi-Oh! Structure Deck, which is all about one of my all-time favorite Monster, Blue-Eyes White Dragon

…and will then be sharing with you a deck which I built including some of the cards contained in said Structure Deck.

First of all a word on Structure Decks in general: I think that the Structure Decks Konami is releasing for the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game are a great deal and well suited for both beginners and pros (like my humble self) and also for collectors, as they give you a complete 40+ cards deck which is playable right out of the box for beginners, while it gives you a great start to build a good deck on if you are an advanced player as well as containing some neat premium cards which may be interesting for collectors. Every now and then, I find myself buying up to 3 copies of some Structure Decks as some contain cards which would be more costly to buy seperately than to just grab a few copies of a Structure Deck they happen to be in.

Now the latest released Structure Deck is all about the most iconic, and probably most associated with the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG Monster Card of all times, the classic but, in my opinion, still highly playable Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Hence it is aptly named Saga of Blue-Eyes White Dragon.

Blue Eyes White Dragon Structure Deck

So what do we get in this latest Structure Deck?

  • 41 Cards including 4 Holo Cards – 2 Super Rares and 2 Utlra Rares.
  • A Blue-Eyes White Dragon Playmat
  • A Strategy Guide
  • A Copy of the Yu-Gi-Oh Rulebook

The Deck contains the following four Super and Ultra Rares, which are all four in foil and very much playable:

  • Blue-Eyes White Dragon
  • Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon
  • Maiden with Eyes of Blue
  • Dragon Shrine

SD Saga of Blue Eyes White Dragon Rares

Notable cards contained in the Saga of Blue-Eyes White Dragon Structure Deck (For more info and the full card text I refer you to the Yu Gi Oh Wikia):

  • Blue-Eyes White Dragon:

The Classic. A vanilla (Normal) 3000 ATK and 2500 DEF Monster. This is a premium card that comes in shiny foil in this Structure Deck.

  • Azure-Eyes White Dragon:

A great, great Synchro version of good old Blue-Eyes White Dragon which has an awesome effect and goes well with any deck containing a significant number of Normal Monsters. Stats-wise Azure-Eyes is a bit weaker than his blue-eyed cousin, with 2500 ATK and 3000 DEF, but offers two great abilities. Firstly, when Azure-Eyes is summoned, Dragon type Monsters you control cannot be destroyed by card effects until the end of the next turn. And secondly, Azure-Eyes allows you to Special Summon one Normal Monster from your Graveyard each and every turn. The latter makes him an awesome addition to a Normal Monster Deck, a Deck Type which I am very fond of. What is really great is that you will be able to reanimte the Blue-Eyes White Dragon you sent to your Graveyard for Synchro Summoning Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon right away!

  • Maiden with Eyes of Blue:

This one is a Level 1 Tuner, so she Synchro Summons into Azure-Eyes when combined with Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Also, the Maiden is a great support card to run along with Blue-Eyes White Dragon as becomes apparent when reading what she does. I’d rather have you take a look than writing it all down here:

  • Alexandrite Dragon:

Along with Gene-Warped War Wolf, this is the best you will get from a Level 4 Monster when it comes to sheer ATK Power. 2000 in the case of Alexandrite Dragon.

  • Flamvell Guard:

A Level 1 Dragon Type Tuner that is a Normal Monster as well.

  • The White Stone of Legend:

Another Level 1 Dragon Type Tuner which has a great effect for a Blue-Eyes Deck. When it is put into your Graveyard, from anywhere and by any means, you can add a Blue-Eyes White Dragon from your Deck to your hand. Pretty handy I would say!

  • Honest:

This one is kinda expensive if you had to buy it seperately so I am pleased to find a copy of Honest in this Structure Deck to add a second copy to my Lightsworn Deck.

  • Dragon Shrine:

Sends a Dragon Type Monster from Deck to Graveyard and another one if the first one was a Normal Monster. I would vote for Blue-Eyes White Dragon and one of the Level 1 Tuners to revive both of them later for some Synchro action.

  • Silver’s Cry:

A Spell that Special Summons any Dragon Type Normal Monster from your Graveyard. Great backup for the classic Monster Reborn!

  • Trade-in:

Discard a Level 8 Monster (like Blue-Eyes White Dragon for instance) to draw 2 cards. A good way to draw some cards and dump a Blue-Eyes into your Graveyard where it may actually be more useful than in your hand.

  • White Elephant’s Gift:

I always thought this card was kinda rare and hard to get so I am glad to see this in a Structure Deck. Also a good draw Spell which draws you 2 new cards for the cost of tributing one of your Normal Monsters.

  • Monster Reborn:

THE classic reanimation Spell. Always good to have one of those in your deck!

——————————————————————————————————————-

As the last part of my review/article on the Saga of Blue Eyes White Dragon Structure Deck, I would like to share with you a deck list I have come up with, inspired by and running key cards from the Structure Deck, namely Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon and Dragon Shrine. Have a look at the deck:

Normal Dragons Unite!

Monsters…18

3 x Flamvell Guard

3 x Hunter Dragon

3 x Luster Dragon

3 x Alexandrite Dragon

3 x Red-Eyes Black Dragon

3 x Blue Eyes White Dragon

Spells…20

3 x Summoner’s Art

3 x Ancient Rules

3 x Dragon Shirne

3 x Swing of Memories

2 x Heart of the Underdog

1 x Pot of Greed

1 x Graceful Charity

1 x Card Destruction

1 x Monster Reborn

1 x Burst Stream of Destruction

1 x Inferno Fire Blast

Traps…2

1 x Call of the Haunted

1 x Birthright

Extra…15

3 x Grenosaur

3 x Number 39: Utopia

3 x Red Dragon Archfiend

3 x Stardust Dragon

3 x Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon

How to Play the Deck:

This deck makes maximum use of the stats-wise very powerful Normal Monsters contained in it by means of various Normal Monster Support Cards while trying to Synchro- and XYZ-Summon early, often and consistently. Notably, all Normal Monsters in this deck are Dragon Type Monsters. The various Normal Monster support includes one of the most powerful draw engines (at least in a Normal Deck) that I know of: Heart of the Underdog. During your Draw Phase, you can draw another card if the first card drawn was a Normal Monster, and again if the second card was another Normal Monster and so on. With half the deck consisting of Normal Monsters, Heart of the Underdog can draw you a lot of additional cards over the course of a game. Summoner’s Art and Ancient Rules are a great combo, Summoner’s Art adding either Blue-Eyes White Dragon or Red-Eyes Black Dragon from your Deck to your hand and Ancient Rules putting them into play for free basically. Send Synchro Material to the Graveyard with Dragon Shrine and reanimate those Monsters with Swing of Memories, Monster Reborn, Call of the Haunted and Birthright to facilitate some easy Synchro- and XYZ-Summons. You should try to get out Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon as fast as possible, as he will allow you to reanimate any of your Monsters from your Graveyard on each of your turns, best starting with the Synchro Material you used to summon him.

Making Music With A Gameboy – Homebrew Chiptunes

And now for something completely different…

…making music – the geeky way!

I was always intrigued by music and admired musicians, not as a fanboy but for their artistic skills in creating something awesome of which I always thought it was not made for me. Music has always been my trusty and loyal companion in many of my own creative endeavours, always playing in the background whilst I was creating art, designing games, writing and so on. I never really tried to learn how to play an instrument, as I think my hands and brains are not made for that. Many times I was tempted to learn to play the guitar, but my fingers would not do the job properly and I was guessing that my brain – finger coordination was simply to lame and unsuited for exercising the different actions required when trying to play music on the guitar. Same goes for Piano, Flute, Bagpipe and so on!

I call a broad musical taste my own and among many other styles and types of music I always loved the funky, classic 8-bit video game tunes seen in Game Boy and NES games and since it is my strict policy to try everything that seems of interest to me at least once, I thought why not have a go on creating some 8 bit music – also known as “chiptunes” – myself. Making music in a digital synthesizer program could not be too hard for me I thought, as no swift and tricky finger combinations and brainbending would be involved and at least I have a good sense for music and a “musical ear” so to say. So it was settled – I would have a go on creating chiptunes, both inspired by these classic scores from the Gameboy and NES like the Super Mario or Zelda themes, and by “real-life” songs which I enjoy greatly, borrowing from the repertoire of, among other things, Celtic / Irish and Austrian Folk melodies.

Getting Started – Nanoloop vs LSDJ:

Years ago, when I got my GP2X Wiz handheld console which I loaded with tons of emulators and game roms, I already came across two programs that let you create this 8 bit music, these chiptunes, on your handheld of choice or even on the computer by means of gameboy emulation. These two programs are Nanoloop and LSDJ (Little Sound DJ).

Here’s what Nanoloop looks like: (Note the 16 squares where notes can be placed!)

And here a screenshot of LSDJ. (Yeah it is just a table with letters and numbers!)

I tried both Nanoloop and LSDJ on my WIZ console and finally settled for Little Sound DJ as the program of choice to create my own funky, homebrew chiptues. While Nanoloop is definitely easier to master than Little Sound Dj, and has a very intuitive user interface, the latter offers more options and features, as it is every so often with more complicated alternatives. And LSDJ is simply not very intuitive and easy to use – the learning curve is quite steep but after watching some helpful tutorial videos on good-old Youtube, I got the hang of it and soon understood the basic mechanics, discovering more advanced techniques as I went along – an investment of time that was very much worth it as I have to say in hindsight.

The decisive factor that made me go with LSDJ however was the save feature. I tried to save sounds with Nanoloop on several consoles, on my original Gameboy, on the WIZ handheld, on my hacked PSP on my Nintendo DS and on my computer and it just would not save anywhere. Later I read that supposedly you can only save sounds and songs on an “original” Nanoloop Cartridge for GB or GBA, which is very obscure, rare and hard to get. With LSDJ however, saving works perfectly on every platform I happen to own.

The Equipment – Going Original:

“If I am going to do “Game Boy Music” then I am doing it the right way!” I said to myself and started to research a bit on the web to find a flash cartridge solution for the original Game Boy, a game cartridge that is which can be connected to a computer by some means to load games and programs onto it. It did not take me long until I stumbled across the GB USB Smart Card 64M which I was able to grab off of ebay at roughly 40 Euros (50 – 60 USD). The Smart Card is a Flash Cartridge which can be connected to your home computer by just hooking it up with a standard mini-USB cable. With the software it comes with, you can load any game roms you happen to own and also homebrew games and programs like Nanoloop and LSDJ onto it so you can play them on your original Game Boy – just like the real deal!

GB USB Smart Card

On a side-note: Even if you don’t want to make chiptunes on your Game Boy, the GB USB Smart Card is perfect for people who want to play rare and obscure games on their original Game Boy. Plus it is the only way I am aware of that lets you play Game Boy Hacks, fan games that is, like Pokemon Brown for instance, on the original Nintendo unit.

What you will need to get started:

Gameboy Music Equipment

The Hardware:

  • An original Game Boy / Game Boy Pocke / Game Boy Color (I normally use my back-lit Gameboy Light – a rare specimen from Japan)
  • The GB USB Smart Card 64 M
  • A Mini USB Cable (not included with the GB USB Smart Card 64 M)
  • Earphones/Headphones (optional but recommended)
  • Power Supply – Either batteries or the original Gam Boy Battery Pack / Line Adapter I am using

The Software:

  • Little Sound DJ (has to be loaded onto your Smart Card and can be downloaded here)
  • Drivers and Transfer Program for hooking up your Computer with the GB USB Smart Card (included)
  • An Audio Editing Program – I recommend Audacity (download for free here)

Making Some Music:

If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I had zero experience with making music and did not even know how to read musical notes. I just started by watching one of the many tutorial videos found so abundantly on youtube to familiarize myself with the basic functions and features of the software. After that, I tried to apply what I had learnt in short passages I composed myself – not yet entire songs, just wee bits and sounds. When I thought I was ready for doing the first “real” song, I did the following: I looked for guitar / piano chords / tabs on the internet. I wanted to start with the classic Super Mario theme which I had grown up with and which I liked so much. Luckily, I found the chords in the form of letters, which is the same way as the sounds/notes in LSDJ are displayd. So I just copied the progression of letters I found on the web into the LSDJ interface and it did not take too long till I had my first chiptune song ready – my version of the Super Mario theme song.

Next I wanted to take it one level furhter and thought why not make Game Boy / chiptune versions of some other existing songs I liked. Traditional Austrian folk music and Celtic / Irish Folk came to my mind. Here my first two, rather feeble attempts at 8 bit chiptune songs:

Back to the Roots – Aberseer Landler going Game Boy:

First I wanted to hear what one of our great, traditional, non-commercial Austrian Folk songs would sound like when transferred to the gameboy. The first stumbling stone was the unavailability of easy chords in the form of letters as I had found for the Super Mario tune. There was no way around it, I had to at least teach myself the basics of how to read notes. So I printed the notes sheet for the Aberseer Landler from the internet. And there was the next stumbling stone. There were always two notes on top of each other in the notes sheet I had. I guessed those were simply two voices which would play simultaneously and as LSDJ has two main music channels, I just copied the lower notes in one channel and the higher notes in another channel with a different sound. It turned out that I was dead on with my assessment as the two progressions of notes went very well with each other. The result of the whole effort was astounding to say the least:

It sounded nothing like a traditional Austrian Landler, but I liked the tune and melody a lot. I was just amazed what had turned out by simply copying the notes from the sheet into LSDJ – a very unique sound and song in it’s own right.

A word of caution: The following two songs I made using LSDJ are not to be considered big art or anything. They are just my first dabbles in the realm of making music of my own. Furthermore I apologize for the crappy sound quality. I had to record this guerilla-style with my gameboy put next to my laptop’s mic. This way I tried to conservate the sound of the original gameboy speaker – I tried to transfer the songs via cable but that sounded awfully…

Here’s the result for you:

Abersea

And here, for comparison’s sake, how the Aberseer Landler actually sounds. It is nothing like what I had created by simply copying the notes of the song into LSDJ as I have already noted.

Celtic / Irish Folk Chiptune:

Next, motivated by the unique sound of the Aberseer Landler on the Game Boy, I wanted to translate one of my favorite celtic / irish folk tunes to LSDJ 8 bit sound. I chose Star of the County Down because it has a great, recognizable and distinctive lead melody.

Here is the finished song:

Star of the County Down Remixed

And here the original song peformed by the great High Kings:

Well those are my first attempts at creating music myself – I do not know if it is any good but that does not really matter anyways, as this is all one huge experiment and a learning process for me. Anyways I will proceed with making more music with LSDJ on my trusty old Gameboy, exploring and learning all the time, and will most likely do a few more takes on existing songs from the huge treasury of Austrian and Irish Folk etc. In any case I will keep you posted! 🙂

If you happen to have any questions on how to make your own Game Boy music, feel free to contact me any time at andreas.propst31@gmail.com!

Some Casual / Fun Modern Format Decks (MtG):

Here is an assortment of some Modern Format legal decks I have come up with recently. I will probably not actually assemble and/or test all of the following decks but I just cannot hesitiate to write down my ideas for my own pleasure nevertheless. Some however I will at least print out as proxies and play through a bit and if one or two decks turn out to be fun to play (I am not really aiming to get anything competitive out of this mental exercise) I may consider buying the cards which I currently do not own for them. But let us get started with the first of the decks:

TraumaVault Control (Modern):

Creatures…6

2 x Magister Sphinx (4UWG)

4 x Sphinx of the Steel Wind (5UWB)

Instants…12

4 x Path to Exile (W)

4 x Mana Leak (1U)

4 x Thirst for Knowledge (2U)

Sorceries…12

4 x Wrath of God (2WW)

4 x Traumatize (3UU)

4 x Open the Vaults (4WW)

Enchantments…8

4 x Ghostly Prison (2W)

4 x Eldrazi Conscription (8)

Artifacts…8

4 x Talisman of Progress (2)

4 x Lightning Greaves (2)

Lands…24 

14 x Plains

10 x Island

The Strategy:

This deck is actually quite original, at least as far as I know, as I have come up with the combo it revolves around, actually two of the so called “Crap Rares“, myself and did not just steal the decklist from somewhere. As always, I am having no illusions about being the first person to have thought about this as I have to note once again. So the basic approach of this rather slow deck is to control early on until you can use Traumatize in a way it is surely not used all too often, on yourself. Traumatize lets you put half of target player’s deck into their graveyard and is a major part of many Mill Decks, decks that is, which try to deplete the opponent’s deck as their primary win condition. In this approach I will “Traumatize” myself, sending half of my deck to the graveyard. Now you may ask “why the heck would you do this” and as a matter of course I will tell you the reason: I will follow up Traumatize by Open the Vaults, one of the notorious “Crap Rares” which allows all players, at the cost of 4WW, to return all Artifacts and Enchantments from their graveyards to play. Now having dumped half of your deck, in which such goodies as Sphinx of the Steel Wind (by far not a Crap Rare, but I happen to own a playset so I am running them) Eldrazi Conscription and one-turn-kill enabler Magister Sphinx have been wisely placed, you should get quite a few nice things back from your Graveyard. Steel Wind and Magister Sphinxes enchanted by Eldrazi Conscription should pose quite a threat to your opponent. The former would be a 16/16 Trample, Flying, First Strike, Lifelink, Vigilance, Protection from red and from green Creature with Annihilator 2 and the latter would be a 15/15 Trampler with Annihilator 5 which will reset the opponent’s life total to 10. What could be even more devastating, and enable you to kill the turn you play Open the Vaults,  would be if you happened to have some Lightning Greaves in your graveyard which would be brought back as well, ready to equip your big guys and give them Shroud and Haste. The latter would allow your big, mean monster(s) to attack right away. If you happen to have got one of your Magister Sphinxes and an Eldrazi Conscription in your Graveyard when you cast Open the Vaults, you are going to win the very same turn, provided your opponent has no way to stop the Sphinx, as she will make the opponent life total become 10 and then attack for 15. As I said this deck is really slow, and probably not very competitive as its key cards cost 5 and 6 mana respectively. On the plus side, the deck has many great and relatively cheap control elements such as Path to Exile, Mana Leak, Ghostly Prison and Wrath of God, which might allow you to stall and disrupt your opponent long enough so you can pull off the one-two-punch of playing Traumatize, followed by a massive Open the Vaults the turn after. Also, your Talismans allow you to do that on turn 4 and 5, which would considerably speed up the deck.

Blasting Beacon (Modern):

Creatures…12

4 x Llanowar Elves (G)

4 x Sakura-Tribe Elder (1G)

4 x Wood Elves (2G)

Instants…8

4 x Echoing Courage (1G)

4 x Harrow (2G)

Sorceries…8

2 x Cultivate (2G)

4 x Beacon of Creation (3G)

2 x Rude Awakening (4G)

Enchantments…4

4 x Fecundity (2G)

Artifacts…4 

4 x Blasting Station (3)

Lands…24

24 x Forest

The Strategy:

This deck idea came from an article which was posted on wizards.com during the (first) Mirrodin block era. It was all about combining three cards to dominate the field through direct damage and draw a ton of cards at the same time. Back then I built the deck as I liked the idea of doing such “non-green” things as dealing direct damage and drawing cards in a green-only deck. I recently thought of the deck which I ran back then and decided to revisit it, discovering that I would play it today pretty much the same way as I did back then. The central card combination that forms the damage&draw-engine in this deck consists of 3 cards, two Uncommons and one quite cheap to get Rare, namely Beacon of Creation, Blasting Station and Fecundity, and it works like this: While this deck is not aiming to go infinite like some decks involving Blasting Station, combining these three cards allows you to create a lot of field and card advantage. Basically you would cast Beacon of Creation, which gives you one 1/1 Insect Creature Token for each Forest you control. With Blasting Station in play, which you can use to sacrifice a creature and tap it to deal 1 damage to target Creature or Player and which untaps whenever a Creature comes into play, you can sacrifice each token when it comes into play, then untap it as the next Token comes into play and sacrifice another Creature for 1 damage and so on. It may be a bit counter-intuitive, but I know from reliable source (an expert artilce on the official M:tG homepage) that this actually works this way. So with Blasting Station in play, each Token you are going to create with Beacon translates to 1 damage to target Creature or Player. Now here comes the card advantage part: If you have Fecundity in play when doing the Beacon-Station combo, you will not only deal 1 damage for each Token generated and sacked, you will also draw one card for each. Simpy put, with Blasting Station and Fecundity in play, Beacon of Creation would read “Draw 1 card and deal 1 damage for every Forest you control. That is quite an exceptional card ability for a green Sorcery costing 4 Mana. And not to forget, Beacon returns to your deck after it resolved so you can draw and cast it over and over again. The rest of the cards support the combo and accelerate your deck. The more Forests you have in play, the more damage you will be able to deal and the more cards you are going to draw with the Beacon/Station combo. Sakura-Tribe Elder, Wood Elves, Cultivate and Harrow all up your Forest count while giving you more Mana to cast the necessary combo pieces. The main win condition is Echoing Courage. What you would do is clear the field of any opposition (opponent blockers) with Blasting Station, then cast Beacon one last time and instead of sacrificing your 1/1 Insect Tokens, just attack with them and make them all 3/3s by means of Echoing Courage. As I always want to have a backup win condition, I have added Rude Awakening to the mix, which will turn all your lands into 2/2s which would be 4/4s with Echoing Courage.

March of the Machines (Modern):

 Instants…8

4 x Mana Leak (1U)

4 x Thirst for Knowledge (2U)

Sorceries…12 

4 x Compulsive Research (2U)

4 x Trash for Treasure (2R)

4 x Wrath of God (2WW)

Enchantments…8

4 x Ghostly Prison (2W)

4 x March of the Machines (3U)

Artifacts…12

4 x Talisman of Indulgence (2)

4 x Darksteel Ingot (3)

4 x Darksteel Forge (9)

Lands…22

4 x Glimmervoid

4 x Seat of the Synod

6 x Plains

4 x Mountain

2 x Island

The Strategy:

This is another slow deck which adopts a control-style approach early to mid-game until it can the pricy cards into place needed for the win. You would try to stop early Creature rush with Ghosltly Prison and Wrath of God while countering early on with Mana Leak until you can discard a Darksteel Forge (which costs 9 Mana to hard-cast) via Thirst for Knowledge or Compulsive Research, only to put it into play from there through Trash for Treasure. This is your key card, as it is your only way to get Darksteel Forge from graveyard to the field cheaply, and you have to rely on your draw spells (Thirst for Knowledge and Compulsive Research) to get it. I was considering to add in Diabolic Tutor to solve this problem but thought the deck featured enough control and disruption to buy you time until you draw into a Trash for Treasure. Once you have Darksteel Forge in play, you would use March of the Machines to turn all your Artifacts into Creatures with Power and Toughness equal to their casting costs. With Darksteel Forge out, you will not only have at least one 9/9 Artifact Creature, but also all your Artifacts and Artifact Creatures will be indestructible. What is more, the smaller artifacts of yours like Talismans and Darksteel Ingots will be 2/2 and 3/3 indestructibles as well.

Blue/Green Land Destruction (Modern):

Creatures…20

4 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x Noble Hermit (G)

4 x River Boa (1G)

4 x Verduran Enchantress (1GG)

4 x Cold-Eyed Selkie (1G/U,G/U)

Enchantments…20

4 x Rancor (G)

4 x Sea’s Claim (U)

4 x Spreading Seas (1U)

4 x Oblivion Ring (2W)

4 x Copy Enchantment (2U)

4 x Annex (2UU)

Lands…20

10 x Forest

6 x Island

4 x Plains

Blue is not really known to excel when it comes to land destruction and still there are some very efficient, cheap forms of “pseudo-land destruction” available in the blue color. They mostly come in the guise of Land Enchantments, which turn the land they target into an Island, which means, provided your opponent is not running blue, your adversary would be stuck with a semi-useless land. Combine that with the many Islandwalking Creatures in blue and other colors and you got a decent plan for a blue land destruction deck with a splash of any one color you like. I also would like to highlight one card here: Annex:

Annex does not only rob your opponent of one land, it gives you control of the enchanted land, which makes it somewhat mediocre mana ramp as well, as, in the worst case you will have one generic mana more to spend on useful things. And if you run Copy Enchantment, as I do in the above listed deck, you can have 4 more copies of Annex which are 1 cheaper as well to cast. In the above deck I combined the aforementiond blue land destruction with some efficient and powerful green/blue Islandwalkers and, as the blue land destruction comes in the form of more or less cheap Enchantments, I added Verduran Enchantress as a draw engine which triggers upon playing Enchantments. Oblivion Ring is in the mix for some excellent pinpoint removal and Rancor for additional beats, comboing well with Cold-Eyed Selkie.

March of the Lands (Modern):

Instants & Sorceries…24

4 x Thoughtseize

4 x Rampant Growth (1G)

4 x Summer Bloom (1G)

4 x Geth’s Verdict (BB)

4 x Barter in Blood (2BB)

4 x Damnation (2BB)

Enchantments…4

4 x Earth Surge (3G)

Lands…32

4 x Blinkmoth Nexus

4 x Dread Statuary

4 x Treetop Village

2 x Svogthos, the Restless Tomb

4 x Llanowar Wastes

7 x Forest

7 x Swamp

I have been a passionate “Landstill” player for years (Landstill being a deck type which usually wins through lands) and have a general fondness of creatureless strategies/builds. So I inevitably had to try my a take on the land-beatdown type of deck in Modern Format as well. There are some amazing “Mandlands” available, such as Blinkmoth Nexus, turning into a 1/1 Flyer, Dread Statuary which becomes a 4/2 and Treetop Village which can be turned into a 3/3 Trampler. Now one card caught my eye in particular for the kind of “land beatdown” i had in mind: Earth Surge:

This will singlehandedly turn your “Manlands” into 6/4s, 5/5 Tramplers and 3/3 Flyers which I deem to be pretty amazing. Besides the Manlands and support through Earth Surge, this deck features a lot of universal Creature destruction which will in fact be very one-sided, as your lands will not be Creatures when you will unleash Spells like Damnation, which destroys all Creatures on the field and Barter in Blood, which makes both players sacrifice 2 Creatures. Barter in Blood can be great for getting rid of indestructible Creatures for instance. I really miss a good alternative for Innocent Blood in Modern Format… Since half of the deck is lands, I added in Summer Bloom which should speed things up considerably, letting me play 3 more lands the turn I cast it. With this deck you should have a handful of lands to drop via Bloom to speed up the beating! Out of all the decks in this article, I am most curious about this one and will definitely at least “proxy” the deck (print out cards from the web that is) and give it a go!

 

Three Legacy Deck – More or Less Competitive (M:tG)

In this article I want to introduce you to three Legacy Format Deck in order of their expected competitiveness. I will be starting with what I think is the least competitive one out of the three and as I will be moving on, the decks will get more and more serious. So without much furhter words of explanation, let me show you the first deck which I named

Nevinyrral’s Nightmare:

Creatures…2

2 x Inkwell Leviathan (7UU)

Instants…8

4 x Careful Study (U)

4 x Thirst for Knowledge (2U)

Sorceries…8

4 x Trash for Treasure (2R)

4 x Argivian Restoration (2UU)

Enchantments…2

2 x March of the Machines (3U)

Artifacts…18

4 x Amulet of Vigor (1)

4 x Worn Powerstone (3)

4 x Nevinyrral’s Disk (4)

2 x Mycosynth Lattice (6)

4 x Darksteel Forge (9)

Lands…22

4 x Izzet Guildgate

4 x Izzet Boilerworks

8 x Island

8 x Mountain

About the Deck:

I always wanted to build a deck around the Nevinyrral’s DiskDarksteel Forge combo, which is very costly to set up, but once it is, things are going to be nightmarish for your opponent – hence the name of the deck. Here is how it works:

So Nevinyrral’s Disk (of which I am lucky enough to own a playset) taps at the cost of 1 to destroy all Artifacts, Creatures and Enchantments in play, including itself. Please note, and this is important that you do not have to sacrifice the disk to activate its ability, unlike the newer version of Nevinyrral’s Disk, Oblivion Stone. Now Darksteel Forge is an artifact at the cost of 9 (!) Mana which makes all your Artifacts indestructible, meaning they cannot be destroyed by any means. Now what happens if you combine that with Nevinyrral’s Disk should be obvious to any smart reader who is familiar with how the game works: If you have both Disk and Forge in play you will be able to clear the field every single turn for just 1 generic Mana as your Disk will not be destroyed by its own effect, being indestructible due to Darksteel Forge’s effect. Once you manage to get this combo in place, a real nightmare will become true for your opponent, since you will be able to destroy everything they play (besides Lands and Planeswalkers) on every turn. That of course excludes all your Artifacts AND Arfifact Creatures, which gives you a huge advantage over the opponent.

Now, and you may have realized already, the main problem is the enourmous costs involved in getting both Disk and Forge into play.  I have come across two cards which, hopefully, are going to solve that problem for me: Trash for Treasure and Argivian Restoration.

As you can see when you click the card links, Trash for Treasure costs 2R and lets you return any artifact card from your graveyard to play at the additional cost of sacrificing an Artifact. It is kinda the red, graveyard-based and much cheaper (money-wise) version of “almighty” Tinker! The second card, Argivian Restoration, lets you return any Artifact from graveyard to play without having to sacrifice another Artifact at the cost of 2UU.

Now the plan is to get Darksteel Forge into the graveyard ASAP to “reanimate” it cheaply for 2R by Trash for Treasure or for 2UU by Argivian Restoration. Careful Study and Thirst for Knowledge are your meanst to achive that, Careful Study letting you draw 2 and then discard 2 cards for just one blue Mana and Thirst for Knowledge drawing you 3 cards and having you discard 2 or 1 Artifact card. So hopefully you would have Darksteel Forge in your hand at some point, then drop it to the graveyard via aforementioned draw/discard cards and then bring it to the field cheaply by Trash for Treasure or Argivian Restoration. You should be able to have your Forge out by turn 4 pretty much consistently.

There are some minor combos in this deck as well: One great and cheap artifact is Amulet of Vigor, which costs 1 and brings all permanents that would come into play tapped into play untapped instead. That works great with Disk for example, which is very vulnerable to Artifact removal as it comes into play tapped and would have to remain on the field until your next Untap Phase for you to blow it off. With the Amulet, you can just cast it for 4 and, unless it was countered, pay 1 immediately to clear the field. Even without Darksteel Forge in play, I would detonate the Disk on turn 4 or 5 anyways just to whipe out everything on the field for 5 Mana and buy you some time. Other cards that have a nice interaction with the Amulet are Worn Powerstone, which costs 3, produces 2 generic Mana but comes into play tapped. With Amulet of Vigor you can tap it for Mana immedialtey. Similarly, Amulet works great with your “comes into play tapped” lands Izzet Guildgate and Izzet Boilerworks. A combo unrelated to Amulte of Vigor is when you combine Darksteel Forge and Nevinyrral’s Disk with Mycosynth Lattice, which will turn every card on the field to Artifacts, even lands, which will allow you to destroy even all opponent Lands (and Planeswalkers not to forget!) with Disk, while making all your non-artifact permanents on the field indestructible at the same time.

The deck has two winning strategies: The first is a very straightforward approach of dropping Inkwell Leviathan into your graveyard and reanimating it cheaply with some spare Trash for Treasures or Argivina Resorations. The more fun way to win is using March of the Machines to turn all your Artifacts into Creatures with Power and Thoughness each being equal to their casting costs. This will turn your Darksteel Forge into a 9/9, your Mycosynth Lattice into a 6/6, your Disks into a 4/4 and so on, and, the best thing about them, they will all be indestructible.

All this may sound like a whole lot of fun but I think the deck would be too slow and lack any kind off removal, countermagic and disruption on top of that so I would not want to run this at any Legacy tournament. Something which I deem a bit more competitive is the next Legacy Deck I have come up with, centering on yet another strong card combination. I call it

Eldrazi Reserachers:

Creatures…8

4 x Academy Researchers (1UU)

4 x Iridescent Drake (3U)

Instants…20

4 x Enlightened Tutor (W)

4 x Careful Study (U)

4 x Daze (1U)

4 x Thirst for Knowledge (2U)

4 x Foil (2UU)

Enchantments…5

4 x Eldrazi Conscription (8)

1 x Mythic Proportions (4GGG)

Artifacts…7

3 x Chrome Mox (0)

4 x Lightning Greaves (2)

Lands…20

2 x Polluted Delta

2 x Flooded Strand

3 x Tundra

13 x Island

About the Deck:

This deck revolves around the two card combo of Academy Researchers

…and Eldrazi Conscription

…with the backup of Iridescent Drake:

With a perfect draw (yes some luck is required) you can, powered by Chrome Mox, play a second turn Academy Researchers, enchanted by Eldrazi Conscription on turn 2, which means you will have a 12/12 Trampler with Annihilator 2 by your second turn. If you played Chrome Mox and a Land on turn 1, you could also already have a Lightning Greaves in play by turn 2, ready to give Shroud and, more importantly, Haste to your 12/12 trampling annihilator and attack right away. In case you have not realized by now, I really love that Equipment (Lightning Greaves), not only in the EDH/Commander Format. Your backup plan, and it is always good, if not essential, to have one, is Iridescent Drake. When Drake comes into play, you can attach any Creature Enchantment from a Graveyard to it. Now if your Eldrazi-Conscriptioned Academy researches were killed, you can simply follow up with Iridescent Drake and return Eldrazi Conscription from the graveyard enchanting Drake and thus making it an even more menacing 12/12 Trampler with Annihilator 2 AND Flying!

You got multiple ways of getting your Eldrazi Conscriptions into your graveyard in the form of Careful Study, Thirst for Knowledge and even Foil. I actually prefer Foil over Force of Will in this build because you can discard an Island and any other card for casting it without having to pay for its Mana cost. This makes it another “discard outlet” for Eldrazi Conscription. With Foil and Daze you got a total of 8 free counterspells which should be very useful in protecting your enchanted Academy Researchers and Iridescent Drakes even when you are “tapped out”.

I am running 3 Tundras along with 4 Fetchlands that can get them into play just to support four copies of the white Enlightened Tutor, which searches out any Enchantment (or Artifact) putting it on top of your deck. Use this with Careful Study (or Thirst for Knowledge) to get Eldrazi Conscription into the graveyard easily to target it with Iridescent Drake later on.

The last card I have yet to mention is Mythic Proportions. It costs 5GGG and gives the Creature it enchants +8/+8 and trample, which makes it an inferior version of Eldrazi Conscription, but I always like to have a backup card in case the opponent managed to remove all my Conscriptions by means of Surgical Extractions or similar cards.

Ok let us move on to the last deck in this article, which is supposed to be considerably more suited for a competitive environment than the previous two decks. Once again, it includes great combos and was actually conceived along the way of changing and optimizing my number 1 power deck, Vintage Landstill, in which I have played all two combos at some point, but not at the same time as I am going to do in the following deck:

Stiflenought (feat. Painer’s Sevent / Grindstone):

Creatures…9

2 x Phyrexian Dreadnought (1)

3 x Painter’s Servant (2)

4 x Trinket Mage (2U)

Instants…16

4 x Brainstorm (U)

4 x Stifle (U)

4 x Daze (1U)

4 x Force of Will (3UU)

Sorceries…7

4 x Merchant Scroll (1U)

3 x Reshape (XUU)

Enchantments…3

3 x Back to Basics (2U)

Artifacts…3

1 x Grindstone (1)

1 x Tormod’s Crypt (0)

1 x Sensei’s Divining Top (1)

 Lands…22

4 x Wasteland

18 x Island

About the Deck:

What is more awesome than one easy-to-set-up and cheap (at least mana-wise) two card combo? Easy answer: two combos like that in just one deck. While some might say I should focus on one of the two combos included in this deck, I think that having a “backup plan” is never a bad idea, so if your opponent accomplishes foiling your plan A, you will always have your equally powerful and cheap plan B. In this deck I aimed for accomplishing this. Let me show you the two combos this deck revolves around:

Combo 1: Phyrexian Dreadnought + Stifle:

Both these cards cost 1 mana (Dreadnought 1 generic and Stifle 1 blue). The combo is simple: Phyrexian Dreadnought is a 12/12 Tramper for 1, which has a hefty drawback in the form or a triggered ability. Have a look at it:

Now with Stifle in hand, you can, for just one blue Mana, just counter the triggered ability, giving you a 12/12 trampling Creature as early as turn 2 if you had a lucky draw.

Combo 2: Painter’s Servant + Grindstone:

Combo two is only slightly more expensive when it comes to total casting cost with Painter’s Servant being a 2 Mana Creature and Grindstone being a 1 Mana Artifact. This is actually a one turn kill, so if you manage to get both cards into play, and can pay Grindstone’s activation cost of 3, it is pretty much game over for your opponent. Here is how it works: Painter’s Servant makes all cards one color of your choice, even the cards still in their owner’s decks (and this is crucial) and Grindstone puts the top 2 cards of a player’s library into their graveyard. If they shared a color, you may repeat the process for free, which, combined with Painter’s servant, will lead to the complete depletion of the opponent’s whole library. Pretty nasty…

Getting your Combo Pieces:

There are some great ways to get just the combo pieces you need most which are just begging to be run in this deck. First of all, Merchant Scroll can fetch for Stifle and I actually prefer this option over just running 4 Trickbinds to serve as backup for the 4 Stifles, as Merchant Scroll can put some free Counters such as Force of Will or Daze into your hand as well if you have Stifle already in hand. Furthermore, since all your other combo pieces besides Stifle are cheap Artifacts, Trinket Mage becomes a must have in this deck, as he can search directly for Phyrexian Dreadnought OR Grindstone and put the chosen card in your hand. Another great search engine is Reshape, the costlier version of Tinker, which has you sacrifice an artifact and pay XUU to search your deck for an Artifact with converted Mana cost of X and put it directly into play. This will cost you about 3 – 4 Mana, depending on what you want to search for and put into play. This can also fetch Painter’s Servant, who cannot be fetched by Trinket Mage as it has a casting cost of 2 generic Mana. All in all you have got plenty of ways in this deck to search for all your various combo pieces and thus I think the deck can well support both combo strategies successfully and consistently.

Protecting the Combo:

You have various ways to protect your combos and make your combo pieces stay in play long enough to be deadly for your opponent. Force of Will is basically a free-to-cast hardcounter, whereas Daze can be equally powerful early on in the game, being free-to-cast as well. And this deck tries to win within the first few turns, so Daze will be used early on, when opponents in most cases won’t even have 1 more mana to spend to pay for Daze’s cost.

A Land Destruction Side Theme:

When I built this deck I discovered that with Stifle already in the deck, I could try to go for a kinda “pseudo landdestruction” sidetheme as well. In a Legacy Format Environment, Stifle is often seen as very cheap and very viable land destruction, in fact the cheapest land destruction you will ever get and in a color that doesn’t do land destruction at all normally, as pretty much every Legacy deck will be running so called Fetchlands. Lands that is which you can sacrifice and pay 1 Mana to search your deck for a land of one of two specific types. Now if you go first and play an Island, with Stifle in your hand and let your opponent proceed with their turn and they play and try to use a Fetchland, you just counter the Fetchie’s effect which will leave your opponent with no land at all, plus they just paid 1 Life for nothing. This is an excellent way to control opponent resources early on and a great alternative use for surplus Stifles. So I decided to build on that side-theme and included 4 Wastelands as well, which either tap for 1 generic Mana or tap to destroy any one nonbasic Land. This is highly useful in a Format where pretty much every deck you will face will be running at least, if not mostly, nonbasic lands. Then a third card came to my mind which can act as severe resource control on your opponent and goes really, really well with a deck featuring only basic Islands and 4 Wastelands, which you are probably going to sack for their effect the very turn you play them: Back to Basics! Please have a look and see for yourself how devastating that card can be to pretty much any opponent:

Prediction:

I think this deck could actually win me quite a few games, even in a more competitive environment than the casual/fun environment I am mostly playing at home or at friend’s homes, for several reasons. Firslty, the deck runs not just one but two very easy to set-up, deadly two card combos. You can get a 12/12  trampler on turn 2 easily or just deck your opponent with the other, almost as cheap combo which doesn’t even involve dealing a single point of damage to your opponent, which can obviously be a great alternative to the combat-damage based “Stiflenought” route. Furthermore, the deck has some great, free-to-cast counters in the form of Daze and Force of Will which can on the one hand just protect the cards you need to do one of the two combos, and on the other hand just disrupt and hamper the opponent strategy long enough for you to get everything in place for the win, whatever way. An lastly, the deck features some free or incredibly cheap and/or efficient resource control in the form of Wastelands, Stifle and Back to Basics, the latter having great potential later on in the game if you need some time to get your combos going off. These 3 aspects combined – cheap and easy to set up combos, free disruption/counteramgic and free/cheap/efficinet resource control – make me think this could be quite a powerful deck. Testing will show as my neighbour and magic buddy number one said he would be reassembling his old Survial (of the Fittest) deck, so I will have ample opportunity to put this to the test against another pretty strong Legacy Format deck. So: The fittest will survive!

Crap Rare Decks Part 3: Sphinx Bone Wand Counterburn (MtG):

This third installment of my “Crap Rare Deck” series features a deck with not one, but two of the ominous, so called Crap Rares no Pro Tour player would even lay an eye on, let alone a hand:

Have a look at Sphinx Bone Wand…

…and Djinn Illuminatus:

Both cards are horribly expensive Mana-wise, each of them having a converted Mana cost of 7, and at the same time, both are dirt cheap, with Djnn Illuminatus going for 50 cents and Wand for even less. So, at least when it comes to the monetary aspect, those two can without any doubt be considered “Crap Rares” and thus qualify for my “Crap Rares Decks” feature.

While both cards cost a lot of Mana, both cards have tremendous, more or less hidden potential which I want to try to unleash and max out the no doubt great effects of both Wand and Djinn in a low-budget Rogue-style deck. The deck I have in mind to be a good home for both of these cards could be called a “Counterburn” deck in general, and adopts a control style of play to survive long enough to get your 7 Mana ace cards to the table, and to make them stay once they are there. Furthermore, I found what seems like the perfect solution for speeding up the deck considerbly in Seething Song and Geosurge, the latter enabling you to summon Illuminatus or Wand easily on turn 4 at the latest. But before I go into further elaborations on the strategy involved in the deck I have in mind for Sphinx Bone Wand and Djinn Illuminatus, let us take a look at the deck list I have constructed (in my mind – I don’t own all the cards needed for the deck…yet). One last note before we will get to the card list: This deck is intended to be a fun/casual build sticking to the Modern Format rules.

Sphinxbone Counterburn (Modern Format):

Creatures…3

3 x Djinn Illuminatus (5R/U,R/U)

Instants…16

4 x Vapor Snag (U)

4 x Lightning Bolt (R)

4 x Mana Leak (1U)

4 x Rewind (2UU)

Sorceries…11

4 x Lava Spike (R)

4 x Seething Song (2R)

3 x Geosurge (RRRR)

Artifacts…8

4 x Talisman of Dominace (2)

4 x Sphinx Bone Wand (7)

Lands…22

4 x Izzet Guildgate

9 x Island

9 x Mountain

The Strategy:

The basic plan is to control with Vapor Snag, Mana Leak and Lightning Bolt (you’d rather want to spend those on keeping your opponent’s smaller Creatures in check – you got Lava Spike for your opponent anyways) for the first few turns, trying to get Sphinx Bone Wand or Djinn Illuminatus, or, even better, both, into play as soon as possible, With Seething Song and Geosurge (which conveniently provides exactly 7 Mana for either Creatures – Djinn – or Artifacts – Wand) you should be able to bring Wand or Djinn into play by turn 4 more or less consistently. Once you got either one of your key cards into play, things are going to get ugly for your opponent. While it is great to play your key cards asap, you have to be careful as they are your main win condition so you’d better be careful, take it easy and play them a turn later with enough Mana left after you played them to protect them with the Mana Leak in your hand.

Now let us see how this deck wins: As I said your primary win conditions are Sphinx Bone Wand or Djinn Illuminatus, or, if you are lucky, both at the same time as they have an amazing synergy. So what do these two cards do for you and how does that win games?

Well, whenever you play an Instant or Sorcery, you get to put a charge counter on the Sphinx Bone Wand and deal a number of damage equal to the  number of counters on it to target Creature or Player. Now when you play the next Instant or Sorcery, you put another charge counter on it, so that it will deal more and more damage each time you play another Instant or Sorcery. Combined with cheap Instants and Sorceries, which are powerful on their own anyways, for example Lightning Bolt, Lava Spike and Vapor Sang, Sphinx Bone Wand can get pretty much out of hand rather fast. A word of caution: Wand should be protected with your Counters Mana Leak and Rewind at all costs, as it gets better the longer it stays in play and once it is destroyed, all the counters on it will be lost.

Now Djinn Illuminatus gives all of your Instants and Sorceries Replicate, meaning you can copy each and every one of them ANY NUMBER OF TIMES by paying multiples of their original casting cost. Now this effect on its own can surely win you the game. Just imagine using this with Lightning Bolt or Lava Spike. It will be the equivalent of a tripple Fireball, as you will be paying 1 red Mana for every 3 damage you want to deal. If you have 7 red Mana, you will be able to deal a (probably lethal) amount of 21 damage. If you use Vapor Snag on the other hand, you can clear the field of opponent Creatures efficiently, by paying 1 blue Mana for every Creature you want to return. Plus, the opponent will lose 1 life for each copy of Vapor Snag cast.

If we combine these two cards, and I am not having any illusions about getting two 7 Mana cards into play at the same time being an easy thing to accomplish, but it is definitely a possibility, things are getting pretty crazy: Imagine you managed to get both Wand and Djinn into play and play a Lightning Bolt for 1 red Mana, dealing 3 damage to your opponent. Wand will trigger getting a counter and dealing 1 damage to your opponent if this was the first counter placed on it. Then you replicate the Lightning Bolt through Djinn’s ability at the cost of 1 more red Mana, deal 3 damage to your opponent and Wand deals 2 damage to your opponent. Rinse and repeat until you run out of red Mana or your opponent runs out of Life – whatever occurs first! Of course Sphinx Bone Wand will not only go off and be increased in power if you cast your red burn instants. Your Vapor Snags, Mana Leaks, and whatever Instants or Sorceries you will be playing will trigger Wand’s amazing ability. Again, this can get out of hand rather fast and, again, just make sure you got some countermagic up your sleeve and some untapped mana sources handy to protect especially your Sphinx Bone Wand.

On a closing note, I wanted to mention the role Talisman of Indulgence is playing in this deck: I am running four since it allows me to pull off a Geosurge on turn 3, which will allow me to play either Sphinx Bone Wand or Djinn Illuminatus early, too early for an unprepared opponent!

Overall I think I will have fun with this deck as I like counterburn strategies in general, think that this deck has some cheap, quality cards and is cheap to build money-wise as well and furthermore features a great combo. Seems to be just the type of Crap Rare Deck I would enjoy playing!

Building Decks Around Quality Uncommons (MtG):

Whilst I am always looking for so called “Crap Rares” to build decks that accomodate them as best as possible I come across a lot of overlooked and underrated Uncommons as well. In this article I want to introduce you to two decks I built centered around two of these qualtiy Uncommons that did not, at least in my opinion and as far as I know, receive the attention they rightfully deserved. This decks are built with the Legacy Format in mind, not aiming to be competitive at all but rather to have a greater card pool to choose cards, that would go well with those Uncommons, from.

The first deck, which is probably the weaker one out of the two I want to present in this article, revolves around this “hidden gem”:

At 3/3, Sigil Captain’s stats are not too exciting for a slightly hard to cast (because of the double white in its cost) 4 Mana Creature. But its ability to turn any 1/1 Creatures you will be putting into play into 3/3s immediately when they are played is something I found to be begging to be made proper use of in the right kind of deck. This is what I have come up with:

Sigil Captain Beatdown:

Creatures…24

4 x Doomed Traveler (W)

4 x Wild Nacatl (G)

4 x Loam Lion (W)

4 x Kird Ape (R)

4 x Mogg War Marshal (1R)

4 x Sigil Captain (1GWW)

Enchantments…7

4 x Fists of Ironwood (1G)

3 x Promise of Bunrei (2W)

Instants…4

4x Raise the Alarm (1W)

Sorceries…5

3 x Spectral Procession (W/2,W/2,W/2)

2 xOverrun 2GGG

Lands…20

8 x Plains

7 x Forest

6 x Mountain

1 x Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree

The Strategy:

The basic strategy is to apply some early pressure with your cheap yet powerful Kird Apes, Wild Nacatls and Loam Lions until you manage to drop a Sigil Captain, which will turn all the 1/1 Creatures you play henceforward into 3/3 right upon when they are played. You have many Creatures and other Spells that generate multiple 1/1 Creature tokens. Cast Overrun to overwhelm the opponent with those. Here a more detailed look at the individual cards:

Doomed Wanderer:

A 1/1 which will be 3/3 with Captain that generates a 1/1 Creature Token with Flying when he dies, which will be 3/3 with Captain as well.

Kird Ape, Loam Lion & Wild Nacatl: 

All these Creatures will grow considerably when certain types of Lands are in play. Loam Lion and Kird Ape can be 2/3 and Nacatl up to 3/3 even without Sigil Captain. When they come into play with Captain already in play, they will be 4/5 or 5/5 at their maximum power, and that for 1 Mana each!

Mogg War Marshal:

This is a 1/1 itself which brings a 1/1 into play when it comes into play and when it dies. If you don’t pay its Echo cost your next turn after you sommone it, it will die. However what will remain are two 1/1 Creature Tokens. Imagine that combined with Sigil Captain and you can have three 3/3 Creatures for the cost of twice 1R if you want to pay the Echo cost.

Sigil Captain:

The key card in the deck, which I already discussed above.

Fists of Ironwood:

An Aura that gives any Creature Trample and, and this is what matters, generates two 1/1 Saproling Creature Tokens. Under Sigil Captain you will get 6 Power worth of Creatures for just 1G.

Promise of Bunrai:

The only Rare in the deck is one of the notorious Crap Rares I keep talking about. In this deck it is amazing. When a Creature of yours dies, and this is bound to happen a lot, you can sack this Enchantment to generate a total of 4 (!) 1/1 Spirit Creature Tokens, which will be the equivalent of 12 Power when you activate this effect under the Captain!

Raise the Alarm:

Generating two 3/3 Creature Tokens at Instant Speed for just 2 Mana is quite a good deal.

Spectral Procession:

Generate three 1/1 Flyers for 3 Mana in the best case. Having three 3/3 Flyers is certainly a good thing.

Overrun:

This is a killer card in this particular deck as it will give Trample and a considerable stats boost to your multitudes of Token and non-Token Creatures.

Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree: 

I am running one copy to provide me with a re-usable token generation engine for the later part of the game.

—————

The second deck I built around a quality Uncommon could actually be half decent and stand a real chance against other, more serious Legacy Format decks as it features overall efficient Creatures and has considerable card draw potential, especially the latter being a key factor to the success of many decks, in any format. Let me show you the central Uncommon that inspired me to build this deck after which I will show you the card list and proceed to discussing the individual cards:

In and off itself, without any further effort and scheming, Lorescale Coatl will be a 3/3 Creature for just 3 Mana when it gets to attack for the first time, as you will be drawing one card per default each turn as anyone familiar with the most basic rules of the MtG TCG will surely know. Now as blue is the color of card draw more or less, I thought there would be some awesome cards to be found that would go well with Coatl and constantly feed it with thought so to say to make it grow larger and larger. And as expected, I indeed found a great abundance of (cheap, mana-wise) cards that would serve that purpose very well. What I have come up is certainly no new Legacy Deck to Beat but I think it is quite potent and would at least stand a fighting chance against other, more serious Legacy Decks, for several reasons which I am going to detail shortly. But first, let me show you my decklist and then provide my comments and thoughts on my card choices:

Lorescale Drawbeat (Legacy):

Creatures…21

4 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x River Boa (1G)

4 x Wild Mongrel (1G)

4 x Cold-Eyed Selkie (G/UG/UG/U)

4 x Lorescale Coatl (1GU)

1 x Wonder (3U)

Instants…4

4 x Brainstorm (U)

Enchantments…12

4 x Rancor (G)

4 x Spreading Seas (1U)

4 x Snake Umbra (2G)

Lands…23

13 x Forest

10 x Island

The Strategy:

There are various reasons that make me think that this is actually not half bad and would probably have a fair chance against other (more expensive) Legacy builds. Firstly, the deck features only quality Creatures with either great stats or great abilities or even a combination of both, like the classic Wild Mongrel, the ace mana-maker Birds of Paradise and the regenerating and islandwalking River Boa, a staple in many aggressive decks with a splash of green ever since it was first released in the earlier years of the MtG TCG. Secondly, the deck has great draw potential in the form of cards like Brainstorm, Snake Umbra and especially Cold-Eyed Selkie, which draws you a card for each damage it deals to your opponent. The third reason is that many of your Creatures have the Islandwalk ability, meaning they cannot be blocked if your opponent controls at least 1 Island. Now while a lot of Legacy decks run at least some blue I do not want to rely on this and simply press my luck. To the contrary, I included a card which turns an opponent land into an Island permanently, namely Spreading Seas, which serves the double purpose of a) making your Islandwalkers unblockable and b) acting as incredibly cheap blue (!) Land Destruction by turning an opponent land into a slightly less useful land, at least for opponents who don’t run blue in their decks. And on top of that, Spreading Seas draws you a card, boosting Coatl and giving you a new card at the same time, this being the reason why I run this over Sea’s Claim and will gladly pay the 1 extra generic Mana. And what is best about Spreading Seas is that one of your key Creatures, Cold-Eyed Selkie, has Islandwalk and draws you one card per damage it deals to your opponent. Just slam a cheap Rancor or the versatile Snake Umbra on it and you will be drawing you a ton of cards and at the same time make your Coatl’s stats skyrocket. As I am playing blue and a considerbale number of blue cards you will be wondering where the heck my countermagic is. While Force of Will and Daze would certainly be great cards for such a deck, I adopted another approach for this build. Rather than protecting my key cards with countermagic, my bet is on drawing into replacements through the tremendous draw potential this deck offers.

Here some additional thoughts on the individual cards:

Birds of Paradise: 

Enables you to play your Coatls and Selkies one turn earlier and speed up the deck considerably. Can be a good target for Rancor to get some damage through, provided your opponent does not have flyers of their own.

River Boa:

A 2/1 Regenerating Islandwalker for 1G. An awesome deal, especially when combined with Spreading Seas which will make the Boa unblockable while messing with your opponent’s mana base. Certainly the number 2 target for Rancor and Snake Umbra.

Wild Mongrel:

If I had more room in the deck I would love to run 4 Basking Rootwalla along with my 4 Mongrels, but even without the Madness Lizards, this wild dog has a great home in this deck, considering that you will always, or in most cases, have a full hand to power it up by discarding a card to give it +1/+1 and change its color until end of turn. A card you should be discarding is Wonder, which will turn all your Creatures into Flyers – just in case the Islandwalk does not work out or is not enough already!

Cold-Eyed Selkie:

Probably the most important Creature in your deck on many levels: Firstly, it is your main Draw Engine, which can draw you multiple cards if powered up with Rancor or Snake Umbra, secondly, and this follows from firstly, it will boost your Lorescale Coatl greatly and permanently and thirdly, it has Islandwalk and will in many cases be unblockable. Enchanted with Snake Umbra, Selkie will, provided it is unblocked, deal 2 damage and draw you 2 cards from its ability and one card from Umbra’s ability. If you have Lorescale Coatl out, it will get a permanent +3/+3 boost everytime you attack and deal damage with your enchanted Cold-Eyed Selkie.

Wonder: 

This is pretty much useless in your hand so discard it to Wild Mongrel if possible. Once it is in your Graveyard it has the very useful ability to turn all your Creatures into Flyers, which is a great backup plan if the Islandwalk strategy does not work out, if you don’t draw into a Spreading Seas that is.

Brainstorm:

Overall a great and useful card, this offers an amazing combo with Lorescale Coatl. In fact this is the combo I came up with as the starting point of designing this deck. Brainstorm draws you 3 cards, then you have to put 2 cards from your hand on top of your deck in any order. The “Draw 3 cards” part is what matters most in conjunction with Lorescale Coatl. Yes, you already realized by now that Brainstorm will, at instant speed and at the mere cost of 1 blue Mana, put three +1/+1 Counters on Coatl, making him at least a 5/5 for just 3 Mana. Besides, it is never a bad thing to cast Brainstorm and cycle through your deck in search of useful cards.

Rancor:

Gives +2/+0 and Trample to any one of your Creatures for just 1 green Mana and returns to your hand when it or the Creature it enchants would be destroyed. Your best target would be Cold-Eyed Selkie, preferably with Spreading Seas already enchanting an opponent land so Selkie cannot be blocked any more, which will mean 3 damage to your opponent, 3 cards drawn for you and three +1/+1 Counters placed on Lorescale Coatl all at the same time. Other good targets for Rancor would be Coatl himself, as adding Trample to an explosively growing Creature without any inherent evasive abilities would not be a bad idea, or on an Islandwalking River Boa.

Spreading Sees:

Virtual blue land destruction that makes some of your quality Creatures unblockable which draws you a card when it comes into play. I would happily spend the one extra mana to get Spreading Seas instead of Sea’s Claim for instance.

Snake Umbra: 

This Enchantment is costlier than just running Curiosity for example but it works so well on so many levels, and this is why I chose the 3 Mana Snake Umbra over the one Mana Curiosity. While the latter cost 1 blue Mana and draws you a card when the enchanted Creature deals damage to a player, Snake Umbra does three things: Firstly, it does the same as Curiosity, drawing you a card whenever the Creature it enchants deals damage to an opponent, secondly, it gives the enchanted Creature a somewhat lackluster +1/+1 boost and thirdly, it protects the Creature it enchants with Totem Armor. When the enchanted Creature would be destroyed, you may destroy Snake Umbra instead. This can be very useful against pinpoint and universal destruction effects and save the live of one of your key Creatures.

Cards I wanted to add but had no more room left for:

As mentioned above, Basking Rootwalla would go very well with Wild Mongrel and if I would be running them, 4 Careful Studies would be great as well. Careful Study would let you draw 2 cards for 1 blue Mana, giving your Coatl two +1/+1 Counters, and then force you to discard 2 cards – in the best case scenario you’d discard two Rootwallas and play them for free via Madness, or one Rootwalla and one Wonder. Breakthrough would go well with Coatl as it would let you draw 4 (!) cards inexpensively, the downside being that you would have to discard your hand excpet you invest a fair amount of Mana in the X in Breakthrough’s casting cost. Kami of the Crescent Moon would give your Coalt a regular boost, but I found that I do not need any symmetric card draw effects like that of Kami. Hence no need for Howling Mine and “Double Howling Mine” Font of Mythos either. There is enough potent one-sided card draw in this deck as you can see for yourself in the above list. Of course a Legacy Deck with so much blue would benefit from Force of Will and, to a lesser extent, from Daze, and furhtermore I do own a playset of FoW so that would not be the problem. But as stated before, I prefer to run a more aggressive version of the deck, which relies on drawing backups for destroyed or neutralized cards rather than countering removal and such.

Overall I think this deck has potential and I am looking forward to try it out to see for myself if my aggressive, counterless approach will work out or not!

Crap Rare Decks Part 2: A Crap Rare Combo (MtG)

One of my very first Magic: the Gathering Decks revolved around the Creature Enchantment (nowadays you would call that an Aura) Pariah:

What I did was to put Pariah and certain Enchantments that prevented all damage dealt to a Creature on the same Creature and thus would not receive any damage anymore. The killer card was Millstone, so this was my very first Mill-Deck. Yes indeed, my fondness of alternative roads to victory started early on in my “career” as a Magic player and has grown ever since.

Recently, when I was once again browsing my card binders for good cards for a certain EDH deck project of mine, I came across this card, which I had not seen in any deck ever, putting it in the Crap Rare category. It’s price of just about a Dollar fifty confirms that assessment. But have a look at it yourself, then have a look at Pariah again and you will see where  this will be going:

So anytime Phytohydra receives damage, the damage is prevented and instead you get to put a +1/+1 Counter on it. By now it should be obvious that this card makes for a splendid combo with Pariah, as the latter will redirect all damage you would have been dealt to Phytohydra, which just eats the damage and converts it to +1/+1 Counters. Of course you cannot expect the Hydra to actually get to sprout, as your opponent will most likely realize that attacking you with a Phytohydra with Pariah attached to it is pretty much like cutting into their own flesh. So what you will have is a perfect stalling mechanism, which will leave you much time for some milling!

Let me show you how I would build a Pariah-Phytohydra Combo Deck nowadays, legal in the Modern Format:

Phytopariah (Modern):

Creatures…24

4 x Noble Hermit (G)

2 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x Wall of Omens (1W)

4 x Wall of Denial (1WU)

2 x Carven Caryatid (1GG)

2 x Ambassador Laquatus (1UU)

4 x Phytohydro (2WWG)

2 x Cho-Manno, Revolutonary (2WW)

Instants…4

4 x Hindering Light (WU)

Sorceries…4

4 x Idyllic Tutor (2W)

Enchantments…4

4 x Pariah (2W)

Artifacts…4

4 x Millstone (2)

Lands…20

12 x Forest

6 x Island

6 x Plains

The Strategy:

The basic plan would be to stall with qualtiy Walls/Defenders for the first few turns and then get out Phytohydra, or your “backup guy” Cho-Manno, Revolutionary, and enchant it/him with Pariah, which can be fetched via Idyllic Tutor. Cheap Mana-makers like Birds and Hermit allow you to get out your Defenders early on and to set up the combo earlier as well. Ambassador Laquatus and Millstone are there to do the “dirty work” – decking your opponent once the lock is in place. Since your enchanted Phytohydras/Cho-Mannos will most likely attract lots of targeted Creature removal from your opponent (depending on the type of deck they are playing) so I added 4 Hindering Light to the mix as a great way to protect your key Creatures/Enchantments and draw a card while you do so. What would really be great in this deck would be 4 copies of Greater Auramancy, as it not only shrouds all your enchanted Creatures but also all your Enchantments. Unfortunately, I don’t really know what to cut out in order to make room for those…

Overall, this is not really a serious deck, not trying to be competitive at all, but rather a fun new take on one of my very first Magic: the Gathering decks, which has many pleasant and nostalgic memories attached to it.

Eldrazi Ironworks – Yet Another Casual Deck (MtG):

Well, my last article was all about the evil Eldrazi overlord Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. When looking at the other Eldrazi and Eldrazi support cards available, I thouhgt why not building a deck featuring some of those as well. The “Minor” Eldrazi are all immensely powerful as well. Remembering decks from the Mirrodin Block that used Krak-Clan Ironworks…

…as a means of generating some massive amounts of Mana, I thought why not use that for summoning some badass Eldrazi? So here is what I have come up with:

Eldrazi Ironworks (Modern Format Casual Deck):

Creatures…20

4 x Ornithopter (0)

4 x Myr Moonvessel (1)

4 x Myr Servitor (1)

2 x Ulamog’s Crusher (8)

1 x Artisan of Kozilek (9)

2 x Pathrazer of Ulamog (11)

2 x It, that Betrays (12)

1 x Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (15)

Instants…7

4 x Not of this World (7)

3 x Fling (1R)

Enchantments…1

1 x Eldrazi Conscription (8)

Artifacts…8

2 x Lightning Greaves (2)

4 x Semblance Anvil (3)

4 x Krak-Clan Ironworks (4)

2 x Dreamstone Hedron (6)

Lands…22

4 x Darksteel Citadel

4 x Great Furnace

4 x Vault of Whispers

4 x Ancient Den

4 x Seat of the Synod

2 x Tree of Tales

The Strategy:

This deck features a grand total 32 Artifacts, that is more than half of the deck, so you shoul have enough fodder for Krak-Clan Ironworks, which gives you 2 generic Mana for every artifact you sacrifice. Semblance Anvil is also a great way to decrease the cost of your Eldrazi and other cards. You best impront one of your small and expendable Artifact Creatures like Ornithopter, Myr Moonvessel or Myr Servitor so the Anvil will both reduce the cost of Creatures, your costly Eldrazi, and of Artifacts like Ironworks or Dreamstone Hedron. Myr Moonvessel is great sacrifice fodder as it will net you 1 Mana when sacrificed, so if you feed it to Ironworks, you will get a total of 3 Mana. Not of this world is a free counter if you counter something that targets your Eldrazi and Fling’s purpose shoul be obvious: Hurl one of your Eldrazi towards the opponent for a final blow.

All this should enable you to summon even Emrakul at a cost of 15 on turn 4.

Turn 1: Play an Artifact Land, then play a cheap Artifact Creature, preferably Myr Moonvessel.

Turn 2: Play an Artifact Land and two more one cost or lower Artifact Creatures, preferably Moonvessel.

Turn 3: Play an Artifact Land and Semblance Anvil, imprinting an Artifact Creature.

Turn 4: Play an Artifact Land and Krark Clan Ironworks. You now have a total of 9 Artifacts and you can sac 8 of them to be able to summon Emrakul. If you sacked a few Moonvessels you will even have enough Mana to give Emrakul Haste via Lightning Greaves if you happen to have them in hand.

Elves for Emrakul! A Modern Format Combo Decks of Elves and Eldrazi (MtG):

Well, what can I say: I like Elves, for their great abilities and rather explosive Mana generating capabilities, and what is more, I have a strange but strong fondness for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as I have expressed in more than one of my previous articles. Just have a look at him once again:

Who could resist to make a deck (or two or even three like myself) which tries to get that one actually summoned and on the battlefield.

Now with both a soft spot for little green Elf dudes and epic Eldrazi elders, I thought it would be only natural to combine these two things in one combotastic deck. So what I did is this: I took the basic “engine” of a classic Elf-Fireball deck, of which I have played several iterations over the course of my personal 15 years M:tG history, and put Emrakul in as the main win condition instead of the usual Mana Elves plus Burn for X Spell combo. What I found out is that these two aspects go very well with each other for various reasons which I am going to detail in the following and that Emrakul turns out to be a great finisher/win condition for such a deck. Also, to my pleasure, I found out that such a deck as I had in mind could well be built in Modern Format, without having to pass on key cards. The only thing I would probably change if I had access to older cards would be swapping the cost 3 Elvish Archdruids for the cheaper (2 Mana) Titania’s Priests. Also, what saved the day so to say is the fact that one key card of the engine I have come up with more or less myself, without “net-decking” it from anywhere (of course realizing that I am most certainly not the first person to think of that), is just “barely legal” in Modern Format: Intruder Alarm:

Now, without much further ado, let us take a look at the decklist I came up with encompassing the combolicious engine I have come up with in order to bring Emrakul to the field as early as possible:

Elves for Emrakul! (Modern Format):

Creatures…23

4 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x Llanowar Elves (G)

4 x Arbor Elf (G)

4 x Elvish Visionary (1G)

4 x Elvish Archdruid (1GG)

1 x Dosan, the Falling Leaf (1GG)

2 x Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (15)

Sorceries…8

4 x Glimpse of Nature (G)

4 x Time of Need (1G)

1 x  Banefire (XR)

Enchantments…8

4 x Fertile Ground (1G)

4 x Intruder Alarm (2U)

Artifacts…4 

4 x Lightning Greaves (2)

Lands…16

16 x Forest

The Strategy:

So here is the engine that makes this deck work: Your key cards will be Glimpse of Nature

Lightning Greaves

…and Intruder Alarm which I showed you above. Combined with cheap mana producers, favorably 1 Mana guys that produce 1 Mana (you have 12 of those and I am tempted to go so far as to drop down to as few as 12 lands to add 4 Elvish Mystics, as all you need to get started is one land in your opening hand. This would be very risky but I am willing to test it…) or your Elvish Archdruids which cost 3 but produce as much Mana as you have Elves, you will be generating a truckload of mana in order to summon Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as early as possible OR cast a lethal Banefire. Banefire is the ideal alternative win condition (and I think any combo deck needs a good backup win condition) as it can’t be countered nor its damage prevented if you spent 5 or more on the X in its casting cost, which will be the case as you will want to inflict about 20 damage with it.

And here is how the key cards work hand in hand to create something akin to a well-oiled mana-generation engine:

Play Lightning Greaves followed by Intruder Alarm and one or, if possible, mutliple Glimpse of Nature. You don’t have to cast Greaves and Intruder Alarm on the same turn, but you should save your Glimpses for the turn you think you can make the combo go of. So Intruder Alarm will allow you to untap all Creatures when you summon a Creature. What you would do is tap all your Mana-making Creatures and play another Creature to untap all your Creatures to tap them again for as much Mana as possible, then playing another Creature to do it again. Glimpse of Nature makes sure you draw into more Creatures whenever you play a Creature. Obviously, this works best if you cast multiple Glimpse of Nature. Thankfully they are pretty cheap at least Mana-wise at G. Now Lightning Greaves would enable your newly played Creatures – many of them will be Mana producers – to be tapped for Mana the turn you play them. This can lead to an explosive surge of Mana, which would eventually allow you to hard-cast Emrakul from your hand. This is where Lightning Greaves is useful once again, as it will give Emrakul Haste for free, so you can deal 15 damage right away (and the opponent has to sack 6 permanents, which is devastating, even more so considering you are going to do this early on) and 15 damage in the extra turn he grants you when you summoned him from your hand.

So in brief: Intruder Alarm untaps all your Creaturs whenever you play a Creature, Glimpse of Nature is your draw engine drawing you a card whenever you play a Creature and Lightning Greaves makes sure you can tap the newly played Creatures for Mana right away to play more Creatures to untap all Creatures again to make more Mana to make more Creatures and so on and so forth.

The rest of the deck:

  • Elvish Visionary draws you a card when it comes into play, which adds to the draw power of Glimpse of Nature which I find good enough to run this one, although I am considering to drop Visionary in favor of Elvish Mystic, another Mana producer that cost just 1 Mana.
  • Dosan, the Falling Leaf is a one-of Legendary Creature preventing players from casting Spells outside of their own turns, which can be vital if you are playing against a control type of deck and are facing heavy countermagic and instant-speed disruption. In such match-ups it is highly advisable to fetch Dosan via Time of Need and play him before you even attempt to  do the combo thing.
  • Time of Need: I am running 4 of those as they let me search my deck for any 1 Legendary Creature and take it right into my hand for just 1G. The obvious target would be Emrakul, but, as mentioned above, Dosan, the Falling Leaf is a great choice as well against many decks.
  • Fertile Ground: Besides Birds of Paradise, this is the only card that produces off-color Mana (you will be needing 1 red Mana for Banefire or 1 blue for Intruder Alarm) and I would run Utopia Sprawl instead as it is cheaper but Fertile Ground is more flexible in that it produces Mana of any color as opposed to Utopia Sprawl which makes you choose one color of Mana it will produce when it comes into play. Fertile Ground may seem like a waste of card slots but it is a sound way to have access to red and blue Mana plus it has great synergy with Arbor Elf, who can conveniently untap the Forest you put your Fertile Ground(s) on to generate a lot of Mana.

OK this is my attempt of building a Modern Format Deck centered on explosive, Elf-powered Mana generation to power out Emrakul as early as possible. What I would like to do before I end this article is show you how this deck would look like if I was to build it for and play it in Legacy Format, which obviously gives me more card options. The basic engine however will be staying intact. Please have a look:

Elves for Emrakul! (Legacy Version):

Creatures…26

4 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x Llanowar Elves (G)

4 x Fyndhorn Elves (G)

4 x Quirion Ranger (G)

4 x Priest of Titania (1G)

4 x Elvish Spirit Guide (2G)

1 x Dosan, the Falling Leaf (1GG)

1 x Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (15)

Instants…4

4 x Worldly Tutor (G)

Sorceries…5

4 x Glimpse of Nature (G)

1 x Banefire (XR)

Enchantments…8

4 x Concordant Crossroads (G)

4 x Intruder Alarm (2U)

Lands…17

4 x City of Brass

2 x Wirewood Lodge

11 x Forest

This is how I would play this deck in the Legacy Format. Some cards were replaced for better alternatives from the extended Legacy card pool, most notably Worldly Tutor instead of Time of Need, as it searches for any Creature instead of just a legendray one and Concordant Crossroads to replace Lightning Greaves. Concordant Crossroads is cheaper, costing just 1 but on the downside, not only gives your Creatures Haste, but also all opponent Creatures. Still I would run this over Greaves in Legacy, simply because it comes at half the cost and fulfills the same purpose as Lightning Greaves. Notable additions in the list of Creatures are Titania’s Priest which has the same mana-ramp capabilities of Archdruid but is 1 Mana cheaper, Quiron Ranger, which can untap your Titania’s Priest so you can use it again to create a ton of Mana and Elvish Spirit Guide which acts as free Mana as you can exile it from your hand to add one green Mana to your pool. Wirewood Lodge lets you untap your Titania’s Priest cheaply so you can generate even more Mana with her.

I don’t think this is by any means competitive in a Legacy Format environment but nonetheless an interesting and fun mental experiment!

 

EDH Deck Series Part 3: Against the Rules!

This boldly titled third part of my EDH Deck Article Series will be about a rather different approach to EDH from the deck i presented in my previous article – different in two respects: Firstly, the deck I am going to introduce you to will be something rather uncommon in EDH, a mono-color deck, in this case mono-green, and secondly, the approach to winning the deck adopts is the other extreme compared to the Rafiq of the Many deck I showed you. This deck is not trying at all to win by inflicting 20 Command Damage, but rather by dealing at least 40 regular damage and reducing the opponent life total – 40 in the EDH context – to zero.

Up to now I have still left you in the dark about the rather strange title of this article. It will all make sense when I introduce to you who will be the Commander of this mono-green EDH deck which has proven very powerful and fun to play at the same time. Meet Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary:

So yes, I am playing and EDH deck with this guy as the general – knowing very well that Rofellos is strictly banned as a Commander in the EDH Format! I have to apologize, but I like breaking rules and Rofellos is most certainly on the banned list of Commanders for good reason. Still, as I am only playing casuallly and among friends, I find pleasure in bending the rules a bit within my own house, where no rules but MY house rules apply. Besides, it can be fun to put any other EDH Deck to the “Rofellos Test”!

So when we look at Rofellos it becomes apparent just WHY they had to ban him. At the cost of 2 green mana you get a 2/1 Creature which indeed won’t win you any matches by Command damage alone, but with a tap ability that simply rocks in a mono-green deck, as it simply doubles the amount of Mana you can spend each turn (provided all your lands are basic forests – and in the following deck most will be).

Combine that with the Haste-granting, shrouding powers of Lightning Greaves and your opponent is bound to face great trouble soon.

So let me give you a list of my Rofellos EDH and you will see that this deck, despite running only green as its single color is indeed very versatile and got more than one nasty trick up its sleeve! As before I will group the individual cards by the purpose they serve in the deck:

Rofellos EDH:

Commander:

Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (GG)

Mana Ramp:

Mana ramp is something green excels at so I included lots of land searchers as you can see. I have to note that they all work great combined with Rampaging Baloths, which will give you free 4/4 Beasts whenever you put a land into play. A 3 Mana Harrow for example would translate to two free 4/4 Beast Tokens from the Baloths. You will notice that I am not running the almost mandatory one mana producers which cost only one mana like Birds of Paradise, Llanowar and Fyndhorn Elves, the new Elvish Mystic or any other one mana Elves at all. I found out that in EDH in general and in this deck in particular, it is a better long-term strategy to build your mana base on additional lands than on easy-to-kill Creatures.

Sakura-Tribe Elder (1G):

Wood Elves (2G): 

Puts a Forest from your deck straight into play, and that untapped.

Yavimaya Elder (1GG):

Searches your deck for two lands when he dies and you can sacrifice him any time for the cost of 2 generic mana to draw a card as well.

Krosan Drover (3G):

Well this is virtual, but nonetheless potent, mana ramp, as Krosan Drover reduces the cost of any casting cost 6 or beyond Creature by 2.

Krosan Tusker (5GG):

A big beater that doubles as card draw and a land searcher when cycled for 2G.

Channel (GG):

I am not sure but this might well be banned as well in Commander / EDH as paying 1 Life to get 1 generic mana whilst being able to do this as many times as you want seems waaay overpowered in a variant of play where you start with 40 Life. Still I am playing it and it is great to get our Emrakul as early as turn one if you pay GG for Channel and pay 15 life to get 15 Mana from Channel (If you happen to be lucky enough to have both cards in your hand). A move that may well win you the game.

Far Wanderings (2G):

Great when Threshold is reached (whenever 7 or more cards are in your graveyard) as it will put 3 basic lands from your library into play tapped.

Harrow (2G):

Great mana ramp as you get to put 2 basic lands into play UNTAPPED for the cost of 2G and sacrificing 1 land. You can and should of course sack a land you tapped to pay for Harrow’s cost.

Explosive Vegetation (3G):

Put any 2 basic lands from your deck into play tapped. This will considerably up your forest count thus powering up Rofellos.

Skyshroud Claim (3G):

Put two Forests into play untapped. Again, great for maxing out Rofellos’ mana generating capacities.

Draw:

Draw isn’t exactly one of green’s strengthes, still I was able to amass quite a list of potent green (or artifact) draw cards, which make sure you won’t run out of steam / hand cards as the game progresses:

Skullclamp (1):

I really play this card in pretty much any deck that has Creatures as it turns 1 toughness Creatures into instant card draw and is a way to deter your opponent from destroying larger Creatures of yours equipped with the ‘Clamp, as they want to avoid giving you two new cards for free. Really a great, great card.

Snake Umbra (2G):

Again a pseudo-draw card. Gives the Creature you attach it to a lackluster +1/+1 but at the same time draws you a card when the enchanted Creature damages your opponent. Would go well on a Creature with Trample for example. What is more, the enchanted Creature gets Totem Armor, which means that in case it would be destroyed, you can destroy the Umbra instead, which can be useful at times.

Wirewood Savage (2G):

Draws you a card whenever one of your Beast Creatures comes into play and can be fetched with one of your many Creature/Elf Tutors. Wirewood Savage works best with Rampaging Baloths, which will put a mighty 4/4 Beast into play whenever you play a land, thus drawing you a card whenever that happens.

Oracle of Mul Daya (3G):

Well this is not really card draw but nonetheless lets you play the top card of your deck if it is a land.

Harmonize (2GG):

The green Concentrate. Draws you 3 cards for four Mana, which is exceptional for green and a welcome addition to this all-green deck.

Momentous Fall (2GG):

A very potent draw spell that makes you sacrifice one of your Creatures. You will then draw a number of cards equal to its Power and gain Life equal to its Toughness. Just sack one of your expendable Baloth Tokens to get 4 new cards and gain 4 life while you are at it for just 4 Mana.

Slate of Ancestry (4):

You should have lots and lots of Creatures in play by the time you play Slate of Ancestry, so use it to discard your hand and draw a number of cards equal to the number of Creatures you control. Very powerful and, most important, re-usable card draw.

Soul’s Majesty (4G):

Draw a number of cards equal to target Creature’s Power. At the point when you would want to play this it will easily net you 4 – 7 cards, so pretty much the equivalent of a new hand altogether.

Tutoring:

I define Tutoring as anything that lets you search your deck for a specific type of card and put it into your hand. This deck features two types of tutors: Those that search Creatures, and those that fetch you any land (not only basic lands). The latter I did not list under mana ramp as they technically are not such, putting the land into your hand and not into play and thus breaking the one-land-per-turn rule:

Expedition Map (1):

Sacrifice by paying 2 Mana to search your deck for any land, not just a basic one, and put it into your hand. This is a reason why I should be playing Gaea’s Cradle, but I do not like the thought of having to spend major $ on a deck that would not even be legal under normal circumstances.

Worldly Tutor (G):

Searches your deck for any Creature card and put it on top of your library, instant-speed.

Sylvan Tutor (G):

The somewhat obscure brother of the above card which does the same, the only difference being that this is a Sorcery.

Sylvan Scrying (1G):

Excellent tutor for any land, basic or special.

Wirewood Herald (1G):

An Elf-Tutor, meaning that you can search for any Elf card when it dies, and the deck runs many different and useful Elves so you won’t have problems to find good targets for Wirewood Heralds ability. Works great with Skullclamp as you would get an Elf and draw 2 cards on top of that.

Survival of the Fittest (1G):

This is verily what one would call a Creature Search-Engine. At the mere cost of 1 green Mana you can discard any Creature card which is less useful at the moment to search your deck for ANY Creature card you need most at any given point in a game. This card is so good that a proper deck archetype was based on it. In this deck you can simply find your key Creatures such as Rampaging Baloths or Cloudthresher if you need something against Flyers or Woodfall Primus if you need to dispose of a noncreature permanent etc etc. Plus, you can search for Genesis and then discard it to Survival to get its great, graveyard-based effect. The only thing that is better than a Tutor in EDH is a reusable Tutor!

Fierce Empath (2G):

Another Creature, this time for the “big game”. Fierce Empath lets you search for a cost 6 or more Creature and put it into your hand. Perfect for getting a hold of your big beaters. Key Creatures such as the above mentioned Rampaging Baloths, Cloudthresher or Woodfall Primus, among others, would be good targets to consider.

Elvish Harbinger (2G):

Your second dedicated Elf-Searcher which does not have to die like Wirewood Herald but gives you access to any 1 Elf card from your deck. Plus it can be tapped to produce one Mana, something not too exciting but to which I would not say no either.

Chord of Calling (XGGG):

Searches for ANY one Creature and puts it into play direclty, at a cost of 3 Mana plus the converted casting cost of your search target. Good for putting cheaper but nonetheless needed Creatures into play or fetching bigger ones by reducing Chord’s casting cost by 1 generic Mana for every one of your Creatures you tap upon casting it (Convoke).

Skyshroud Poacher (2GG):

The third and last card that searches for an Elf, and only an Elf, is, similar to Survival of the Fittest, a reusable Search-Engine. By tapping the Poacher and paying a very much affordable 3 generic Mana, you can not only search out an Elf from your deck, you can put it into play right away. Kinda makes me want to run some high casting cost Elves like Elvish Abberation and Wirewood Guardian.

Removal:

Pinpoint Creature removal is not strong in the green color and if you find it, it will cost you, big time – as seen in Desert Twister. Artifact and Enchantment removal is common in the realm of Forests. A note: Some cards I listed under Land Destruction give you the option of destroying an Artifact or Enchantment as well, though I tend to use them to attack the opponent mana-base so I listed them there.

Lignify (1G):

When you check this card without priorly knowing it you may laugh at the first glance of Lignify. But if you look closer and consider a bit you will realize that this is probably the cheapest way in the green color to get rid, or at least neutralize, an otherwise menacing opponent Creature. Lignify simply does away with troublesome Power values and nasty card abilities in a Creature as it turns any Creature into a lowly 0/4 Treefolk with no abilities whatsoever. In absence of anything as cheap and efficient as Terminate, Path to Exile or Oblivion Ring for example, Lignify will have to do.

Indrik Stomphowler (4G):

A great 4/4 body with a Neutralize attached to it: When this Beast Creature comes  into play you can conveniently dispose of any Artifact or Enchantment that is causing you worries.

Acidic Slime (3GG):

Similar to Indrik Stomphowler, Acidic Slime destroys an Enchantment, Artifact or even a Land when it comes into play. The fact that it is just a 2/2 as compared to the 4/4 Stomphowler with the same converted casting cost, is made up by Slime’s Deathtouch ability, which poses a great threat to any attacking Commander or other important or mighty opponent Creature launching an attack.

Woodfall Primus (5GGG):

This one could be listed under the Big Beaters section as well being a 6/6 Trampler for 8 Mana. What makes me list him under removal is his great comes-into-play ability of destroying ANY permanent that is not a Creature. And on top of that the Primus has the Persist ability, meaning that it will come into play a second time when it would otherwise be put into your graveyard from play, once again destroying a noncreature Permanent but with a -1/-1 Counter on it. It will still be a 5/5 Trampler which you basically got for free. A very useful card indeed.

Krosan Grip (2G):

A Split Second Artifact or Enchantment removal card, Split Second meaning no other Spells or Abilities can go on the Stack whilst this is cast and resolves. In practice, this would mean it can neither be countered nor responded to. So no in-response-shenanigans from your opponent can be anticipated such as sacking the artifact to be destroyed by Krosan Grip in response.

Desert Twister (4GG):

Well, green has excellent pinpoint destruction, albeit at a steep price. Desert Twister does exaclty what White-Black Vindicate offers for half the mana: Destroying any permanent, Creature, Artifact, even Land – you name it. With the regular and massive mana influx from Rofellos, this is not that bad after all even at 6 Mana. Note: this could be listed under Land Destruction below as well as the permanent you destroy can be a land as well as a matter of course.

Land Destruction:

Green has some very viable ways to destroy opponent lands. Some of those I decided to run in this deck:

Reap and Sow (3G): 

Destroy a Land, or search for a Land and put it into play OR do both if you pay the Entwine cost.

Creeping Mold (2GG):

A very versatile Sorcery that lets you destroy either Land, Artifact or Enchantment.

Mwonvuli Acid-Moss (2GG):

Destroys a land and puts a forest into play from your deck, so this would qualify as Mana ramp as well.

Plow Under (3GG):

By far my favorite land destruction card as it acts like a double Time Walk for 3GG, a cost that might seem steep at first glance. However if you consider that you take away two of your opponent’s lands at once AND ruin their next two draws you may or may not agree that it is a great card. Especially great if you can get it back via Eternal Witness or Regrowth etc to do it once again!

Retrieval:

Back in the olden days Green’s card retrieval powers exceled with Regrowth, nowadays we got Eternal Witness which can be even superior to its ancestor Regrowth, as we are going to see later on. I packed most of the general card retrieval I found in green into this deck:

Eternal Witness (1GG):

As I mentioned in my previous EDH article, Witness is the child of the union of classic Savannah Lion and Regrowth, a 2/1 Creature with the Regrowth ability attached to it, meaning it returns any one card from your graveyard to your hand, and all that for the cheap price of 1GG.

Regrowth (1G):

The classic. Pay 1G, return any one card, regardless of type from your Graveyard to your hand to cast/summon it once again.

Recollect (2G):

The same as the above, just one mana more expensive.

Restock (3GG):

Returns 2 cards at once from your graveyard to your hand.

Genesis (4G):

This should be put into the graveyard as soon as possible, as once and as long as it is in your Graveyard you can pay 2G once per turn to retrieve any Creature card from your graveyard and put it into your hand. Combos well with Survival of the Fittest.

Utility:

Some generally useful Creatures and Spells I want to list here:

Krosan Warchief (2G):

Makes all your Beasts, and you got a few costly ones, 1 generic Mana cheaper to summon while having the great additional ability of regenerating any of your Beasts by paying 1G.

Ravenous Baloth (2GG):

A decent 4/4 for 4 Mana, this turns all your beasts into life gain. This is best used when one of your Beasts would die anyways and in case of some universal destruction effects á la Oblivion Stone or Wrath of God occurs, you can at least net 4 life per Beast sacrificed.

Aspect of Mongoose (1G):

A good way to protect your Commander or another important Creature, giving shroud to whatever it enchants. Also, Aspect of Mongoose returns to your hand when it would be put into your graveyard from play, so, in case it was destroyed by some effect, you can use it again to gain the desired protection on one of your Creatures.

Lightning Greaves (2):

Well if you have read my previous EDH articles you will already know just how fond I am of this equipment which I consider a must-have in pretty much any EDH build I can possibly think of – for good reasons: Not only does it give shroud and thus protection from any targeted effects to its bearer, it also gives them Haste. In the case of Rofellos, the Greaves allow you to tap him for mana the very turn he enters play which speeds things up considerably.

Garruk Wildspeaker (2GG):

Garruk does many things: You can either untap 2 lands (yet another reason to run Gaea’s Cradle…must…resist…urge…to waste money!), or put a 3/3 Beast Token into play or act as a reusable Overrun, giving all your Creatures +3/+3 and Trample for one turn.

Big Beaters:

Of course a green deck with a truckload of money errr mana at its disposal just has to have some heavy beaters. I am running the following:

Blastoderm (2GG):

A 5/5 Beast with Shroud for just 4 Mana. However it “Vanishes” after you had it for three turns beyond the turn you summoned it.

Cloudthresher (2GGGG):

Your silver bullet against anything that flies. For 6 Mana a regular 7/7 Creature without any further abilities would be at least decent, but add in Flash, Reach and a comes-into-play ability that lets you eradicate a whole army of birds or other small flying Creatures at once (it deals 2 damage to every Creature with Flying when it comes into play) and you got yourself one kickass and considerably cheap Creature. And I have to mention that you can use it as a one-shot if need be by summoning it for its Evoke cost of 2GG, but I would only do this as a last ditch effort or when you can bring the ‘Thresher back with the miraculous powers of Genesis in your graveyard.

Rampaging Baloths (4GG):

I consider this a key Creature and a worthy target for your many Creature Tutors for the simple reason that you got many, many cards that let you put additional lands into play, which will result in the spawning of a whole army of 4/4 Beasts sooner or later with Baloths out, and that basically for free. The Baloths themselves are 6/6 Tramplers for just 6 Mana which would not be all that bad on itself. Add the Landfall ability and you got the reason why this is one of the fancy “Mythic Rares” they started releasing in recent years.

Spearbreaker Behemoth (5GG):

Depending on the type of deck you are pitted against, the match-up, this might be a good thing to search your deck for as well. Spearbreaker Behemoth is a 5/5 Creature which would be quite weak nowadays for a cost of 7 Mana. But add in the “Indestructible” ability and, and this is the reason why I would get a hold of this  soon against many decks, it can give the Indestructible ability to any other Creature with Power 5 or more at the very affordable cost of just one generic Mana. The matchups against which this can mean the difference between victory and defeat are control type of decks, and control elements are widespread, popular and viable in many EDH Decks. So be it a 2 Mana Terminate or a 4 Mana Day of Judgment/Wrath of God/Damnation, Spearbreaker Behemoth will make sure your big guys will surivive anything nasty headed their way, be it pinpoint or universal destruction.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (15):

I must admit I am very much intrigued by this card. A 15/15 behemoth for 15 generic Mana with so many abilities, and pretty amazing ones at that, that they almost burst the text box they are described in. So what will you get for your 15 Mana? Well a 15/15 Flyer that cannot be countered and has protection from all colored Spells, annihilator 6 (when it attacks your opponent has to sacrifice no less than 6 permanents they own) and which gives you another turn after this one. That is a jaw-dropper for sure if you manage to get this one out. And with Rofellos, accomplishing the seemingly near to impossible task of hard-casting Emrakul for 15 is not as far fetched after all. You can just drop at least 8 forests to tap Rofellos and 7 of your Forest to be able to summon the Tearer of Aeons, but this deck features lots of nifty tricks how to make that happen earlier and easier. Channel is just one possibility, the tricks will be discussed shortly!

Miscellaneous:

Random good stuff that does not fall in any of the above categories can be seen below:

Gaea’s Herald (1G):

Playing against blue? Always in fear of Force Spike (and other nifty countermagic)? Well fear no longer, use any of your Creature Tutors (and Elf Tutors as well since Gaea’s Herald happens to be of that Creature Type) and put an end to the counter-madness. When Herald is in play, Creature Spells can no longer be countered.

Dosan, the Falling Leaf (1GG):

If you are not sure if attacking is safe, or casting Spells during your own turn then Dosan is the one you should be fetching. The Legend will simply prohibit playing of Spells outside one’s own turn. Simple as that. A card worthy of searching your deck for.

Rude Awakening (4G):

Turns all your lands into 2/2 Creatures and/or Untaps all Lands, depending on whether or not you play the Entwine Cost. This can either give you a whole army of 2/2 attackers for a finishing blow OR untap all your lands in order to generate some massive mana if you already have a considerable number of lands in play.

Eldrazi Monument (5):

This gives all your Creatures Flying, which is good in a deck devoid of any flyers besides 15 casting cost Emrakul, +1/+1 and, most important, they will all be indestructible. The upkeep cost of having to sacrifice a Creature each turn should be managable as you got a ton of Creatures to spare in this deck and Genesis’ Creature retrieval ability can help out as well.

Akroma’s Memorial (7):

This card is the icing on the pie so to say, giving all your already awesome Creatures flying, first strike, vigilance, haste and protection from red and from black.

Tricks:

This deck has some awesome tricks in store, most of which revolve around untapping Rofellos to generate even more Mana than he would already produce on his own in order to power out something huge and nasty like Emrakul, the Eons Torn at some fairly early point in the game – at least too early from your opponent’s perspective. Here’s my box of magic tricks:

Wirewood Symbiote (G):

Return an Elf to your hand, untap Rofellos (Yes, Rofellos and not any Creature, as Rofellos should be your prime target for this ability!). On top of that, if you returned one of your comes-into-play-ability Elves, you can make use of their ability once again.

Quirion Ranger (G):

Return a Forest to your hand, untap Rofellos. Returned Forests can be played again  to trigger Rampaging Baloths’ Landfall ability.

Scryb Rangers (1G):

Same as Quirion Ranger.

Stampeding Serow (2GG):

A 5/4 Trampler which returns a green Creature to your hand during each of your upkeeps. Obviously, this is a great combo with your variosu comes-into-play-ability Creatures such as Acidic Slime and Fierce Empath. A really awesome combo can be pulled off if you have Eternal Witness and some land destruction Spell, preferably Plow Under handy. You can play Plow Under, send two lands of your opponent to the top of their deck, then summon Eternal Witness to retrieve Plow Under and eventually play it again. Stampeding Serow will return Eternal Witness to your hand every turn so you can use her comes-into-play-ability each turn, creating a factual, albeit a bit expensive landlock with Plow Under!

Stampeding Wildebeests (2GG):

Literally the same as Serow, just another animal. It is always good in EDH to have identical cards with different names that have such a useful effect as Stampeding Serows and Wildebeests.

Elvish Piper (3G):

Puts any Creature, no matter how big and/or expensive, from your hand into play, at the mere cost of 1 green Mana. Simple as that.

Concordant Crossroads (G):

This is an amazing yet obscure card from Chronicles that gives all Creatures in play Haste, which is strange for a green card. First of all, this will allow you to use your Rofellos one turn earlier, secondly all your big guys will be able to attack right away the turn you summoned them and lastly, it will allow Emrakul, if you manage to summon him, to attack instantly for 15, making the opponent sack 6 of their permanents and then, in the extra turn he netted you, attack once more delivering your opponent of another 15 Life and another 6 permanents, if there are any left that is…

Instill Energy (G):

Lets you untap Rofellos once per turn for free.

Nature’s Chosen (G):

Same as Instill Energy, just another name.

Wirewood Lodge:

A land that taps to let you pay G to untap one Elf. Guess who it will be.

Lands:

Of course any good deck is bound to have lands. Besides 23 basic forests, enough to make for insane mana generation with an early Rofellos, I am running these non-basic lands:

Okina, Temple of Grandfathers: 

Gives your Rofellos +1/+1 which may just be enough to save him from being killed. Well that way he would survive at least a “ping” from a Prodigal Sorcerer, although I don’t expect one of those to pop up any time soon in an EDH deck…

Oran Rief, the Vastwood:

Tap to put a +1/+1 Counter on all green Creatures, so all Creatures in this deck, that came into play this turn. Very nice.

Llanowar Reborn:

This land has Graft: 1, which means it comes into play with a +1/+1 Counter which you may move on a Creature when it comes into play.

Turntimber Grove:

Gives a Creature +1/+1 until end of turn when it enters the battlefield. This may not seem like much but it is for free so I thought why not add one of that.

Wasteland: 

Supports your other land destruction cards greatly as you can either tap it for 1 generic Mana or tap it and sacrifice it to destroy any non-basic land and those are really common in EDH.

Slippery Karst:

Cycles for 2 generic Mana meaning you can pay 2 and discard it to draw a new card.

Ice Floe:

Taps a Creature permanently and provides a great way to neutralize any Creature.

Making it Legal!

Well if I would have to, here is how I would make this deck compliant with the EDH consensus rules: As my commander, I would pick her:

Azusa, Lost but Seeking would let me play 2 additional lands each turn, which would be not as powerful as Rofellos’ tap ability, but would trigger the Landfall ability of your Rampaging Baloths for instant several times, and will ensure that you got more mana than usual anyways. Rofellos would go into the main deck, as he is not banned from being there as far as I know and I would add Time of Need, which fetches any Legendary Creature for just 1G from the deck, adding one more tutor to the already plenty Creature fetchers the deck is currently running to get out Rofellos even without him being at the ready in your Command Zone. I guess all would work pretty well with the “legal” approach as well, except that all the explosive mana tricks revolving around Rofellos would be gone, which I would very much regret. Again, this is a fun deck for home use and always a great test for all my other and new EDH creations.

Bonus!

Well what would an EDH Deck Article be without a little bonus!? Here’s a deck intended for the legacy format which focusses on yanking as much mana out of Rofellos as possible to summon an early Emrakul from your hand. And I think this could actually work out!

Creatures…15

4 x Magus of the Vineyard (G)

4 x Quirion Ranger (G)

2 x Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (GG)

4 x Elvish Spirit Guide (2G)

1 x Emrakul, The Aeons Torn (15)

Instants…4

4 x Avoid Fate (G)

Sorceries…12

4 x Time of Need (1G)

4 x Nature’s Lore (1G)

4 x Skyshroud Claim (3G)

Enchantments…8

4 x Instill Energy (G)

4 x Nature’s Chosen (G)

Artifacts…4

4 x Lighting Greaves

Lands…17

3 x Wirewood Lodge

14 x Forest

Well the basic plan is to get Emrakul out fast with Rofellos and tons of untapping abilities like the ones of Instill Energy and its Double Nature’s Chosen, with Quirion Ranger and Wirewood Lodge. Rofellos and Emrakul can be fetched with Time of Need while Lighting Greaves first protect Rofellos and give him Haste and then give Haste to Emrakul so he can attack for two times 15 damage. Magus of the Vineyard and Elvish Spirit Guide provide some extra mana to start with and Nature’s Lore as well as Skyshroud Claim bring additional Forests into play untapped. Avoid Fate is a green Counterspell (!!) that counters any instant that targets your permanents.