A Blast from my Personal Past – RG Beatdown and Beast Bidding (MtG)

When I was recently going through my Magic: the Gathering trade binders I noticed that I still had all the cards  for an old deck of mine, which I have been playing way back during what seems to be a matter of the distant past now, the Odyssey, Onslaught and Mirrodin blocks, neatly tucked inside the compartments of my card storage folders. What I found when browsing my spare cards was my trusty, old Red-Green Beatdown deck, which had won me many a game back then and consisted mostly of cards from the Odyssey block such as the classic duo

Basking Rootwalla

…and Wild Mongrel

…with very few cards from the Mirrodin block like the very-cost efficient, hence highly playable in a Beatdown-Style deck, Troll Ascetic.

Oddly enough I realized that the whole Onslaught block had nothing to add to this particular deck at all as I was running not a single card from said block.

Well for nostalgia’s sake I decided to re-assemble my old R/G Beatdown Deck to relive the “glories of the past” so to say, adding only one card which I did not play originally. Furthermore I was reminded of a more or less prominent deck type from the Onslaught block, which I want to re-visit in this article as well: “Beast Bidding”. The veteran players may remember the tribal-heavy Onslaught block where Beasts were among the more popular tribes/creature types and “Beast Bidding” was one of the many beast-centered builds.

In the following I would like to introduce you, in a “blast from the past”, my own past as a M:tG veteran, to the classic Red Green Beatdown deck type I used to play in my haydays as an active Magic player, and then look at the Onlsaught block Beast-Bidding deck archetype and what it could look like today, with all the cards released in newer sets and blocks taken into the equation. But let us start with my R/G Beatdown deck. Please find the, pretty much unaltered, decklist below:

“Classic” Red-Green Beatdown:

Creatures…21

4 x Birds fo Paradise (G) / Kird Ape (R)

4 x Basking Rootwalla (G)

4 x Wild Mongrel (1G)

2 x Troll Ascetic (1GG)

2 x Phantom Centaur (2GG)

2 x Razormane Masticore (4)

1 x Anger (3R)

2 x Arrogant Wurm (3GG)

Instants…5

2 x Fiery Temper (R)

3 x Volcanic Erruption (1RRR)

Sorceries…10

4 x Firebolt (R)

2 x Call of the Herd (2G)

2 x Browbeat (2R)

2 x Roar of the Wurm (6G)

Enchantments…2

2 x Elephant Guide (2G)

Lands…22

12 x Forest

10 x Mountain

As you may have noticed, this deck is verily a real zoo of a multitude of different animal species (although not a “Zoo Deck”, which is usually played in Green/Red/White with cards like Kird Ape and such). We find exotic birds, lizards, wild dogs and 3/3 elephants as well as snakelike Wurms (you won’t find the latter in any contemporary zoo so easily though. But on to how the deck is played:

Birds vs Apes:

The only thing I am not sure about with the deck is whether to run a playset of Birds of Paradise OR Kird Ape. Both have their advantages: Birds is a great mana accelerator and a great first turn drop that also makes the deck run more consistently mana-wise as it produces one mana of ANY color. Also it flies and can be a hard-to-block threat if enchanted with Elephant Guide (giving it +3/+3 permanently). Kird Ape on the other hand is more of a typical beatdown card, as it gets +1/+2 if you control a forest, making it a 2/3 Creature on turn 2 if you play a Mountain and summon the Ape on your first turn and drop a Mountain on your second turn. I am more inclined towards running Kird Ape, although back then that one was not as easily available as nowadays and I ran Birds originally, as the powerful primate is a true beatdown Creature, while Bird is not with 0/1, and I think the deck would do just fine as a “purebred” Beatdown deck which manages without any mana acceleration. It would go something like this: First turn Kird Ape, second turn Mongrel, third turn Troll Ascetic/Arrogant Wurm. I think this deck would be just fine without the Birds of Paradise.

Let the Madness begin!

This deck runs a considerable number of cards with the then very popular “Madness” mechanic (dedicated Madness-Decks, usually played in Green and Blue were among the most successful of competitive decks back in the Odyssey-Onslaught era and beyond) which lets you play the card for a discount, or, in the case of Basking Rootwalla, for free if discarded from your hand. Here is a typical Madness Creature:

The main “Madness-enable” in this deck is Wild Mongrel, which I have shown you above already. At the cost of discarding one card (this can be done any time and at “instant speed”) Mongrel gets +1/+1 and changes its color to anything you like, which was useful to avoid destruction effects like Terror for example, which would not destroy a black Creature for instance. This Deck runs 6 Creatures with Madness (4 Basking Rootwallas, 2 Arrogant Wurms) and a total of 5 Instants with the Madness Ability (2 Fiery Temper and 3 Volcanic Erruption. Now what you would do would be to drop Wild Mongrel on turn 2 and start discarding cards. That way you could for example boost Mongrel with +1/+1 by discarding Arrogant Wurm and playing it for its Madness cost of 2G on turn 3. Not only would your Mongrel grow, you’d also get a 4/4 Trampler for just 3 Mana. In the same way, you could discard Fiery Temper and deal 3 damage for 1 Red Mana or distribute 4 damage among Creatures and Players with Volcanic Erruption for just 1RR. The latter used to be really powerful for getting rid of multiple Creatures / blockers at once. And of course there is Basking Rootwalla, which has a Madness cost of 0, which you can always drop for free to increase Mongrel’s power and toughness. Back then, I splashed a bit of Black in the deck to play a second Madness-Enabler, Zombie Infestation…

…as just 4 Mongrels was simply not enough to make good use of my Madness cards consistently in every game. When I re-assembled this old beatdown build of mine however, I was looking for good alternative “discard outlets” that would fit in well with the overall theme of the deck without having to add a third color to it. What I found was this mean monster (wondering why I did not “discover” that one earlier for my beatdown deck):

As you can see, Razormane Masticore is a heck of a deal for just 4 generic Mana (which means you will not have any Mana problems when trying to summon him) at an impressive 5/5 with the awesome ability of dealing 3 damage to any Creature each turn, possibly getting pesky blockers out of the way. His drawback of having to discard a card each turn as an upkeep cost is actually a benefit in this deck as it creates a viable alternative to Wild Mongrel as a discard-outlet / Madness-enabler. Overall, I am very satisfied with this addition to the deck!

Support and a Minor Combo:

The rest of the deck consists of very efficient cards as well: Call of the Herd and Roar of the Wurm both produce Creature Tokens twice, as they both have Flashback. Call of the Wurm should be discarded to the Graveyard and cast for its Flashback cost, giving you a 6/6 Wurm for just 4 Mana. Anger is another card which you’d rather discard than play regularly, as it gives Haste to all your Creatures when in your Graveyard and as long as you control a Mountain. I should probably be running 2 of those! Furthermore, there is a nice little combo between Elephant Guide, an enchantment that not only gives +3/+3 to a Creature permanently, but also gives you a 3/3 Elephant Creature Token in case the enchanted Creature dies, and Phantom Centaur. Phantom Centaur has protection from black and is a 2/0 which comes into play with three +1/+1 Counters on him, making him a 5/3 which is not bad for a 4 Mana Creature to begin with. The crucial thing however is that any damage to Centaur is prevented at the cost of removing a +1/+1 Counter. That would mean that the Centaur would die after taking damage thrice, but if he is enchanted by Elephant’s Guide, he will have +3/+3 permanently so he will not die as long as enchanted. Lastly, Browbeat is a very cool card in this deck, as it gives your opponent a very tough choice between them taking 5 damage or you drawing 3 cards and that for just 3 Mana. Now card draw is VERY rare in red cards, and rarely seen at such a low cost. Taking 5 damage can be devastating to an opponent facing your aggressive beatdown deck so the choice is a very tough one indeed.

Now when I go back to these classic decks I used to play in times long gone by, I always wonder what such a deck would look like today. So before I present you with the second deck archetype of the era around the Onslaught block, I would like to try and assemble a decklist real quick for a more modern build of Green Red Beatdown, including cards from the latests blocks and sets. Before sharing my quick decklist with you, I would like to note that I decided to add in some black in this one, just as I did in my old Beatdown deck and as you will see, the new one will look totally different from the old one! So here we go:

“Modern” RGB Beatdown:

Creatures…24

4 x Kird Ape (R)

4 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x Garruk’s Companion (GG)

4 x Troll Ascetic (1GG)

2 x Boggart Ram-Gang (1(R/G)( R/G))

4 x Bloodbraid Elf (2RG)

2 x Madrush Cyclops (1BRG)

Instants…12

4 x Lightning Bolt

4 x Terminate

4 x Putrefy

Enchantments…4

4 x Rancor

Lands…20

4 x City of Brass

4 x Ancient Ziggurat

6 x Forest

3 x Mountain

3 x Swamp

As you may have noticed, what I call my “modern” approach of a Red-Green Beatdown Deck (with a pinch of Black) looks totally differnet than the “classic” one discussed above. For the sake of nostalgia, I kept the Troll Ascetics, but apart from that, it is a totally different story. Most striking is the complete absence of Madness cards, which I a trying to compensate with running cheap and efficient Instants, which can deal with Creatures and Artifats, namely Lightning Bolt (can be used to push through the last bits of damage to an opponent later in the game as well), Terminate and Putrefy. Bloodbraid Elf is a great card as it can conveninetly Cascade into anything that is cheaper than itself. Who would say no to a Hasty 3/2 Creature with let’s say a Putrefy attached to it? Madrush Cyclops servers the same purpose as Anger in the old deck, giving all your Creatures Haste and Rancor gives a re-usable Power boost as well as Trample, which can be of great use to get some damage through the opponent Blockers. Overall, while it is a beatdown deck that shares the same colors as my “classic” beatdown deck, the “modern” version is a totally different approach to the archetype which has its very own playing style and merits.

Let us now move onward from the Beatdown Decks to the last part of this article, which will be about a modernized version of a deck that became popular during the “Beast-ridden” Onslaught Block, centering around dropping lots of Beasts in the Graveyard and then reanimating all of them via Patriarch’s Bidding – a deck known, among other names, as “Beast Bidding”:

Originally, the deck played like this: Control cards sich as Smother were used early on in combination with useful Beast like the then very pricy Ravenous Baloth…

…and Krosan Warchief which made all Beasts 1 less to summon and had the ability to regenerate your beasts, as well as Beasts with cycling such as Barkhide Mauler and Krosan Tusker. Once enough Beasts were in your Graveyard, you’d cast Patriarch’s Bidding to reanimate them all at once and launch an overwhelming attack on your opponent.

I never played this type of deck myself (chiefly because I could not afford the Ravenous Baloths back then) but always liked the strategy behind it. Now as I found out that they released some new Beasts with the cycling ability (pay X Mana to discard this card from your hand and draw a card) and considering that Ravenous Baloth is not much more than a “crap rare” these days, I did some research in the effort of building a modernized version of Beast Bidding. What I found out was that Ravenous Baloth, as cheaply as I could get him, wasn’t even really needed anymore and that, to the contrary, most of the cards needed, save for Patriarch’s Bidding itself, were Commons or Uncommons. Laslty, the discovery of this (money-wise) inexpensive gem from the Urza Block…

…sealed the deal and I came up with this “modern” Beast Bidding deck list:

Beast-Bidding Revisited:

Creatures…20

4 x Krosan Tusker

4 x Yoked Plowbeast

4 x Ridge Rannet

4 x Valley Rannet

4 x Primoc Escapee

Instants & Sorceries…14

4 x Innocent Blood

4 x Dark Ritual

3 x Putrefy

3 x Patriarch’s Bidding

Artifacts…4

4 x Fluctuator

Lands…22

4 x Blasted Landscape

4 x Llanowar Wastes

7x Forest

7 x Swamp


16 of your 20 Beasts and 4 of your Lands have a cycling cost of 2 generic Mana. With Fluctuator in play, you can cycle them for free basically which means you can drop your Beasts into the graveyard from your hand for free to draw even more Beasts to discard and draw more etc and eventually draw into one of your Biddings. Dark Ritual makes it easier to cast both Fluctuator and Patriarch’s Bidding, whereas Innocent Blood and Putrefy are there to stop early Creature onslaughts from your opponent’s side. Sounds fun, but not exactly competitive, which was not my intention in the first place however!

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