“Crap Rare” Decks with Andi – Part 1 (MtG)

DISCLAIMER:

Before I get started I would like to apologize for the neverending avalanche of Magic: the Gathering related articles. This blog is supposed to be about various topics and I promise to post on Elemental Clash, Crystal Clash, my other games, on Yu Gi Oh and Pokemon and maybe about retro video gaming as well in the not too distant future. It is just that I recently rediscovered my love for the Magic TCG after I had immersed myself fully in the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG for maybe half a year or so, hence I am full of (deck) ideas related to Magic, which I would like to share before they are gone. So please bear with me some more – posts on more diverse topics will follow shortly! 🙂

Having established that, let us move on to the topic of part 1 of my “Crap Rares with Andi” feature, of which I cannot yet say or know how many parts there will be in the end. As I am looking through the cards in my voluminous collection of cards and also as I browse the web, I inevitably come across certain cards that raise my interest and that you may call “Crap Rares” that catch my eye and make me want to build decks around them. A word of explanation: I would define “Crap Rares” as Rare cards (only “Mythic Rares” are rarer than Rares) which are unpopular, which most of M:tGs followership does not regard as “worthy” or good enough to include in competitive decks, hence the price of the so called Crap Rares is very low. The combination of these aspects, Crap Rares being unpopular, overlooked and dirt cheap money-wise, has always raised my curiosity and creativity, as building “good” decks (not talking about competitive decks) around one or more Crap Rares provides a great challenge and needs a lot of creative, outside of the box thinking. Furthermore, if you are able to take an ostensibly worthless piece of cardboard and build a deck around it that, even if only occasionally, triumphs over a more serious deck, can be a very rewarding experience.

So what I am going to do in this series of articles will be picking up a so called Crap Rare (I would draw the line at a maximum price of 1 dollar per card for definition’s sake – everything above that I will not consider a “true” Crap Rare) and try to build the best possible deck around it, show you the result in the form of a deck list along with my thoughts on how the deck is supposed to work. Furthermore, I will choose the other cards in the decks with a low budget in mind as well and will not include stuff like Dual Lands or Tarmogoyfs along with the less-than-a-dollar Crap Rare). As for the format, I don’t like to build this kind of  decks with any particular tournament format in mind as they are supposed to be played in a casual environment, for fun and not for competition. But if you like to think along official formats, the decks will all be Legacy legal…

For the first installment of “Crap Rares with Andi” I prepared 5 decks for you, all built around one Crap Rare, (Or should I say unpopular Rare to avoid the fecal language? :D). So let us get started with the first deck on our list (I will always provide you with a nice image of the Crap Rare which acted as my starting point for each deck before proceeding with sharing deck lists and thoughts on strategy). Behold, the first overlooked and unerrated Rare I chose to build a deck around:


Megatog goes for an average of 30 cents nowadays (prices according to http://magiccards.info) and was never substantially more expensive even in the past, when he was a fairly new card. Now let us take an unbiased look at what the classic Atog’s bigger brother does for us: Megatog costs 6 Mana in total for which you get a 3/4 body. Not too exciting addmitedly. But what makes this card worthy of my deckbuilding efforts is its ability. You can sacrifice an artifact any time to give Megatog a +3/+3 boost AND Trample for one turn. This, even though Megatog costs thrice as much as the regular Atog, makes Megatog so much more playable than the 2 Mana Atog, which gets a +2/+2 boost for each artifact you feed to him. The Trample in Megatog is also great as you could block Atog with a simple 1/1 and get no damage, no matter how often he was pumped, whereas Megatog makes sure that some or most of the damage actually reaches your opponent.

Let me show you the deck list I created to give Megatog a proper home:

Crap Rare Deck 1:  Fling-a-Tog:

Creatures…18

4 x Ornithopter (0)

4 x Myr Servitor (1)

4 x Salvage Slasher (1B)

2 x Atog (1R)

4 x Megatog (4RR)

Instants…8

4 x Fling (1R)

3 x Shrapnel Blast (1R)

Sorceries…6

4 x Seething Song (2R)

2 x Geosurge (RRRR)

Artifacts…9

4 x Pentad Prism (2)

3 x Lightning Greaves (2)

2 x Loxodon Warhammer (3)

Lands…20

4 x Darksteel Citadel

4 x Great Furnace

4 x Vault of Whispers

4 x Glimmervoid

4 x Mountain

The Strategy:

Well the main plan is obviously to get out Megatog and attack with it as soon as possible, sacing a ton of (expendable) artifacts to inflict a lethal amount of damage. There is a great combo involving Crap Rare Megatog and a seldomly seen Common: Fling. This combo will let you dish out insane amounts of damage as you would pump up Megatog as much as you can, attack with it to deal major damage, then cast Fling, an Instant which lets you sac one of your Creatures to deal X damage to your opponent, whereby X is the current Power of the sacked Creature. By doing sacking a fully powered Megatog, you can deal massive direct damage on top of the Combat Damage Megatog inflicted. This should be too much for pretty much any unprepared opponent to handle. With an artifact count of no less than 33 you should be able to gather enough fodder for pulling off a deadly Megatog – Fling Combo.

The other cards I am running in this deck only support the Megatog Strategy or are viable threats on their own like for instance Salvage Slasher. Salvage Slasher gets +1 Power for each artifact in your graveyard, so he will become a massive threat after you sacked all or most of your artifacts to Megatog (or Atog, of which I am running 2 copies as well).

Also, in order to get out Megatog ASAP I am running a considerable number of Mana ramp cards, cards that is that let me produce more mana than what my lands would produce by themselves. These are Seething Song, which adds 5 red Mana to my pool for the cost of 2R, Geosurge, which similarly gets me 7 red Mana for a cost of 4 red Mana (can only be spent on Creatures or Artifacts which is fine as the reason I am playing it is to get out Megatog as fast as possible) and Pentad Prism, which can generate 2 Mana and is then useless. But as it is an artifact as well, it is not useless after all as you can always sack it after its Mana was spent to give Megatog another +3/+3 boost! Lightning Greaves is not Mana ramp per se, but fulfills the purpose of letting my Megatog attack one turn earlier, the very turn it comes into play, plus it gives Megatog Shroud, which can be useful to stop your opponent from messing with what is your main win condition nontheless. The other equipment in this deck, Loxodon Warhammer is a bit coslty but worth the Mana as it gives the Creature it equips +3 ATK, Trample and Lifelink. What is worse than a fully powered Megatog? Easy answer: A fully powered Lifelinked Megatog. The Trample bit can furthermore be useful when combined with Salvage Slasher, which can be huge after you sacked a ton of Artifacts to your Atogs, as Slasher will get some massive damage through when trampling. Also, if need be, you can always slam the Warhammer onto one of your lowly Ornithopters as they have evasion in the form of Flying. Shrapnel Blast is in my opinion one of the best burn spells in any deck with a considerable number of (expendable) artifacts, dealing 5 damage (!) to any target for the mere cost of 1R plus sacking an artifact. This can be used as a killer after a close-to-deadly Megatog Attack for instance. Lastly, I decided to run a playset of Myr Servitors as well, as, if you manage to get multiples, they act as re-usable sacrifice fodder for the Atogs and Shrapnel Blasts, as all Servitors respawn from your graveyard each turn if one of their brothers is on the playing field.

Let’s continue with the second “hidden gem”, this time something even more obscure and ostensibly useless:

I came across Galvanoth as part of the Duel Decks Izzet vs Golgari and this one truly qualifies as a typical Crap Rare nobody ever played and weighs in at a cost of about 30 cents on average. It took me a while after I had first noticed that card to realize that it had some potential which could be abused if only a proper deck would be built around Galvanoth. Stats-wise it sucks, being just a 3/3 for 5 Mana. However what inspired me was its ability to cast the top card of your deck for free at the beginning of your upkeep if the card is an Instant of a Sorcery. Let me show you the deck I came up with centered around Galvanoth and his potentially devastating ability:

Crap Rare Deck 2: Timestretch Galvanoth

Creatures…4

4 x Galvanoth

Instants…16

4 x Brainstorm

4 x Reverberate

4 x Mana Leak

4 x Terminate

Sorceries…12

4 x Index

1 x Cruel Ultimatum

3 x Time Stretch

2 x Plague Wind

2 x Searing Wind

Artifacts…4

2 x Izzet Keyrune

2 x Dimir Keyrune

Lands…24 

4 x Halimar Depths

4 x Crumbling Necropolis

8 x Island

4 x Mountain

4 x Swamp

Well the main combo this deck revolves around is something I can proudly say I did not just “net-deck” (plagiarize from a deck on the net I found somewhere that is) but came to me when I looked at Galvanoth and its ability. It goes like this: Use Spells like Index, Brainstorm and the comes-into-play effect of Halimar Depths to rearrange the cards in your deck in a way so that one of your high-cost / high-power Sorceries like Time Stretch and Cruel Ultimatum will be on top when Galvanoth lets you cast the top card of your deck for free during your Upkeep so you will be able to unleash their incredible effects without having to pay for their equally incredible costs. 🙂 The best idea is to start with putting a Time Stretch in place, which would cost you no less than 10 Mana if you would “hard cast” it but gives you not one but two extra turns! The best way to set this up is Brainstorm for sure, as it lets you draw 3 cards and then put any 2 cards from your hand back on top of your deck at instant speed. This means when you would otherwise be stuck with Time Stretch in your hand for example, you could conveniently place it on top of your library with Brainstorm right before Galvanoth’s ability triggers. Cards that would work incredibly well in this deck would be Mystical Tutor for example, which puts any Instant or Sorcery on top of your deck at instant speed as well and Sensei’s Divining Top which lets you rearrange the top 3 cards of your deck repeatedly. Alas, the former is not legal in Legacy, and I said I wanted to stick to the Legacy format rules, and the latter is simply much to expensive for a fun/casual/budget deck like this one.

Besides the main combo, the deck is pretty slow – this is alleviated to some degree at least by your Keyrunes, and should be played control-style until you can drop your Galvanoth, featuring cheap control spells such as Mana Leak and Terminate. Once your Galvanoth is in place however, things are going to get ugly for your opponent pretty soon. Be sure to save some Mana Leaks and leave 2 mana untapped to protect your Galvanoth, as it will surely be the main target for opponent Creature removal.

The deck would win through multiple Cruel Ultimatums and Searing Winds, the latter dealing 10 damage to your opponent at once. What is a great extended combo and will spell defeat for your opponent pretty soon is using Reverberate on one of your high-cost/high-power but cast-for-free Sorceries. Reverberate is only 60 cent a card and costs 2 red Mana, copying any Instant or Sorcery. Now if your Galvanoth lets you play, let’s say, Cruel Ultimatum you would get to draw 6 cards, your opponent would have to discard 6 cards, you would gain 10 life, yout opponent would lose 10 and would have to sacrifice two Creatures. And all that for the cost of 2 red Mana for Reverberate. This sounds like a ton of fun! Equally powerful you can set up a Time Stretch for Galvanoth, Reverberate it for 2 red and get a total of 4 additional turns! During those 4 turns you will get for just 2 mana, you should be able to set up a Searing Winds and copy it with Reverberate to deal a probably lethal 20 damage in total.

Well, the more I write about this deck, the more I want to try it, even if it is just the see the look in my opponent’s face as he is being obliterated by copied Cruel Ultimatums for just two red Mana! 😀

On to the next Crap Rare Deck, prominently featuring this big guy:

Spearbreaker Behemoth goes for an average of 90 cents (so close to not being a Crap Rare any more by my self-set standards) and costs a total of 7 Mana. This will give you a 5/5 body, which is rather unimpressive, but has some powerful abilities attached to it. First of all the Behemoth itself is indestructable, which is nice, and secondly, and this is what I will be trying to make heavy use of in the following deck, he can make any power 5 or higher Creature indestructable for a turn at the mere cost of 1 generic Mana. Let us take a look at the “home” I made especially for Spearbreaker Behemoth:

Crap Rare Deck 3: Elven Behemoths:

Creatures…28

4 x Noble Hermit (G)

2 x Llanowar Elves (G)

4 x Fierce Empath (2G)

4 x Wirewood Savage (3G)

4 x Krosan Drover (3G)

4 x Krosan Warchief (2G)

2 x Mosstodon (4G)

2 x Beacon Behemoth (3GG)

2 x Vagrant Plowbeasts (5GW)

2 x Spearbreaker Behemoth (5GG)

Sorceries…10

4 x Harrow (2G)

3 x Day of Judgment (2WW)

3 x Soul’s Majesty (4G)

Lands…22

12 x Forest

10 x Plains

The Strategy:

This deck works in two “modes” as I would like to call it. You start out in “Elf Mode” at the beginning of the game, summoning cheap Elf Mana producers and other generally useful Elves for a Beast-Elf crossbreed deck and later on, when you reached a certain breaking point mana-wise, you’ll be switching to “Beast Mode” and bring on the beating with your big guys. The main combo once in “Beast Mode” is this: Get out at least one Spearkbreaker Behemoth, then follow up with your boardsweepin5g Day of Judgment destroying all Creatures on the battlefield. All Creatures excpet your 5+ Power Beasts which are conveniently made indestructible for the turn you “pass the Judgment” at the managable cost of just 1 mana. Alternatively you can use the Beast-regenerating ability of Krosan Warchief, which also drops the cost of your Beasts by 1, to regenerate your more important Beasts when you cast Day of Judgment, at the slightly higher cost of 1G.

Besides your mana producing Llanowar Elves and Noble Hermit (which, technically, is not an Elf but a great mana-maker nonetheless) you got a ton of Elves that are generally useful in a Beast-deck context: Four copies of Fierce Empath allow you to run fewer copies of key Beasts such as Spearbreaker Behemoth as it lets you search for any Creature with a converted mana cost of 6 or greater, while Krosan Drover reduces the costs of Creatures with casting cost 6 or greater by 2. Wirewood Savage on the other hand is a great draw engine, which is rarely seen in the green color, as it draws you a card any time a Beast comes into play.

As for your big beastly beaters, you have, besides Spearbreaker Behemoth, an array of Power 5+ Beasts with useful effects they can “lend” to any other  5+ Power Creature inexpensively. Mosstodon gives Trample and Beacon Behemoth Vigilance, ensuring you will be able to attack without neglecting your defenses, while Vagrant Plowbeasts provides yet another way to protect your Power 5+ Beasts from dying to Day of Judgment or other effects by regenerating them at the cost of 1.

A great and in my personal opinion shamefully overlooked green (!) draw card is Soul’s Majesty. Letting you draw a number of cards equal to target Creature’s Power, this will refill your hand pretty easily drawing you at least 5 cards if you got any of your Beasts out.

Ok let’s move on to deck four in this massive article: Which will all be about this card:

Toshiro Umezawa is at about 75 Cents right now and has, besides kickass artwork, a most amazing ability for what one could call a Crap Rare. In fact he is a walking, talking Yawgmoth’s Will, well for Instants only and only under certain circumstances. In order to make these requirements happen consistenly and to get the max out of Umezawa’s ability I “composed” the following deck:

Crap Rare Deck 4: Umezawa’s Will:

Creatures…4

4 x Toshiro Umezawa (1BB)

Instants…30

4 x Dark Ritual (B)

4 x Lightning Bolt (R)

4 x Incinerate (1R)

4 x Searing Spear (1R)

4 x Diabolic Edict (1R)

4 x Geth’s Verdict (BB)

4 x Terminate (BR)

2 x Skeletal Scrying (XB)

Sorceries…4

4 x Beseech the Queen (BBB)

Lands…22

12 x Swamp

10 x Mountain

This deck features lots of cheap and efficient Instants that either burn your opponent or their Creatures, such as Lightning Bolt and Incinerate, or destroy Creatures right away, like Terminate and Diabolic Edict. So let us recall what Toshiro Umezawa does and let us then take a look at how the deck is built to make the most out of the Samurai’s ability: Toshiro Umezawa lets you play an Instant from your Graveyard (not for free mind you!) whenever a Creature is destroyed. In order to make maximum use of this abiltiy and in order to actually win with it, I did the following things: All cards but Toshiro Umezawa and Beseech the Queen which is moslty there to fetch Toshiro, all the cards are Instants and all cost 2 or less Mana. Many of them kill your opponent’s Creature directly like Terminate or indirectly, forcing your opponent to sacrifice a Creature of their choice, like Diabolic Edict and Geth’s Verdict. Now whenever you manage to kill an opponent Creature, you can play one Instant from your graveyard. The best targets for this would be your cheap burn Spells, Lightning Bolt, Incinerate and Searing Spear. You can basically cast all your Instants twice through Umezawa’s ability and the basic plan is to burn your opponent to death with your direct damage Spells while controlling the field with your Creature removal. As this deck has many similarities with a Mono Black Control type deck and I am not really sure if 12 cheap burn Spells that deal 3 damage each and can be cast twice with Umezawa are enough for the win, I am contemplating to add a few copies of a big, nasty black Creature as the killer / alternative win condition in the deck.

And now onwards to our fifth and last Crap Rare deck! This last one revolves around a sinister Zombie-Knight with a most peculiar and powerful ability:

Haakon, Stromgald Scourge is currently at an average cost of 3,80 Dollars so he does, by my own definition, not qualify as a Crap Rare. However the reason why I still will run this under the name “Crap Rare” is simply because I think this is in fact a more obscure card seldomly seen in any decks, even less in competitive ones. So if we look at Haakon, we see at first glance that he is a decent 3/3 for 3 Mana. What makes him stand out and will require special attention when building a deck around him is the fact that he can only be summoned from your Graveyard, which is bound to be tricky at the very least, as you have to figure out a way to get him into the graveyard in the first place. But once you managed to summon him, he has a great, great ability: Haakon allows you to summon Knight Creatures from your Graveyard, which is pretty amazing. Without much furhter ado, let me show you my approach to a Haakon-centered deck:

Crap Rare Decks 5: Twilight Knights:

Creatures…22

4 x White Knight

4 x Silver Knight

4 x Black Knight

4 x Stromgald Crusader

3 x Haakon, Stromgald Scourge

2 x Knight Exemplar

1 x Mirran Crusader

1 x Kinsbale Cavalier

Instants & Sorceries…18

4 x Dark Ritual

4 x Smallpox

4 x Buried Alive

4 x Mortify

2 x Day of Judgment

Artifacts…3

3 x Chrome Mox

Lands…20

4 x City of Brass

4 x Caves of Koilos

6 x Swamp

6 x Plains

This deck pretty much follows the classic “White Weenie” playing style with two major differences: You will be playing not only white, but also black cheap and efficient Creatures such as White and Silver Knights (white) and Black Knights and Stromgald Crusaders (black). The second big difference is that you will be able to play your Weenies from the Graveyard once you get your ace card, Haakon of Stromgald, out. Since you can summon him from your graveyard only, this is accomplished in the following ways:

If Haakon is in your hand, you can use Smallpox to discard him along with some nice side-effects on your opponent and then summon him from your graveyard. The better option is to cast Buried Alive and send Haakon, along with two other Knights (the best targets would be Kinsbale Cavalier which gives all Knights Double Strike and Knight Exemplar which makes all other Knights indestructable), from your deck to your graveyard directly so they can be summoned from there. Dark Ritual helps tremendously to enable a turn 1 Buried Alive and also to get out Haakon earlier. Chrome Mox serves the same purpose of speeding up the deck.

The Knights in this deck are all very cost-efficient and once you have Haakon in play, any surplus Buried Alive cards serve as excellent “Knight-Tutors”, putting three Knights in your Graveyard so they can be summoned from there. You can either search out two copies of Knight Examplar to give all Knights the Indestructable ability (they will grant that to each other as well) or adapt to pretty much any situation as your differnent black and white Knight Creatures have protection from pretty much any color besides blue. Mirran Crusader has protection from Red and Green, White Knight protection from Black and Black Knight and Stromgald Crusader have protection from White. You may also use Day of Judgment to clear the board of any opponent Creatures when you got your Knight Exemplars out which will render all your Knights indestructable.

Well, congratulations, dear reader, you have soldiered on through this rather lengthy article and have finally reached its end. As more ideas will be coming in over the course of time, and they will I assure you, I will be posting more “Crap Rare Decks” articles, but I promise they won’t be as lenghty as this initial one. I hope you enjoyed this article and maybe it was able to encourage you to build decks around overlooked and underestimated (Rare) cards as well. I can only say it is big fun to build such decks and the experience when you beat some more serious decks with your Crap Rare deck can be most rewarding and satisfying!

 

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