Rancortog – Revisiting an Old Deck Idea (MtG)

First of all, no, this article is not about putting Rancor on notorious bad guy and general menace/nuisance Psychatog

…but rather about one of his more or less forgotten and constantly overlooked Atog brethren.

It has been quite some years since I had discovered the great interactions between Auratog

…and cheap Enchantments that returned themselves to your hand when they would go to the graveyard, the best example being Rancor:

When you look carefully at the two cards (and provided you are familiar with the M:tG TCG and its basic rules) you will see where this is going at. With Auratog out you would play Rancor, sacrifice it to give Auratog a +2/+2 boost whereupon Rancor would be returned straight to your hand from where you could cast it again and once again “feed” it to Auratog to boost it one more time and so on until you run out of green Mana for casting Rancor. You would probably want to keep the last Rancor on Auratog so that it would have Trample and deal some major damage in one grand attack on your opponent. That would be the basic plan.

While I am well aware of the fact that I was not the first one who had discovered this combo and the deck type I had developed based on it, I always regarded this as something quite original and seldomly seen – a typical “Rogue” deck, just how I like them! What made me come back to this old idea of mine was a great new card I discovered not too long ago, which would go very well into an Auratog-Rancor Deck.

Please have a look:

While Kor Spiritdancer would go very well with the deck I had come up with several years ago, I will, although I showed it to you, not inlcude it in the deck list I am going to propose shortly, the simple reason being that it is currently at close to 10 Dollars a copy and I am neither able nor willing to spend like 35 – 40 on a card which isn’t even that popular as to warrant such a high price and will probably considerably drop in cost after some time has passed anyways. That being said, all I have to note before I can show you my deck list and elaborate on how it is supposed to be played would be firstly, that the deck is supposed to be a Legacy Format deck and secondly, I wanted to try, once again, a budget approach, hence skipping Kor Spiritdancer for money reasons. I will however run a playset of Birds of Paradise and Noble Hermit as well as the Green/White Fetchland in conjunction with 4 Dual Lands (2 Tundra and 2 Tropical Island) for the simple reason that I happen to own all these cards. The deck would run almost as well even without the Duals I would say though.

Now let me show you my proposed deck list before I go on to comment on the deck’s strategy a bit:

Rancortog (Legacy):

Creatures…22

4 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x Noble Hermit (G)

4 x Auratog (1W)

4 x Femeref Enchantress (WG)

2 x Mesa Enchantress (1WW)

2 x Verduran Enchantress (1GG)

2 x Phantatog (1UW)

Enchantments…16

4 x Rancor (G)

3 x Spirit Loop (1W)

3 x Hatching Plans (1U)

3 x Journey to Nowhere (1W)

3 x Oblivion Ring (2W)

Lands…22

4 x Windswept Heath

2 x Tundra

2 x Tropical Island

4 x Sunpetal Grove

4 x Forest

3 x Plains

3 x Island

The Strategy:

Well I explained what this deck is all about already: Get out Auratog, enchant it with Rancor and sack the latter to give ‘Tog +2/+2, Rancor returns to your hand – rinse and repeat as long as you have green Mana to spare. Here a bit of a more in depth analysis:

The Mana Base:

I play 22 lands which should be enough for a deck with a low average converted casting cost and nothing costing more than 3 Mana AND 8 one Mana Creatures that produce one mana of any of your colors. The four Fetchlands should be used to fetch the flexible Dual Lands – 2 Tropical Islands (Green/Blue) and 2 Tundra (White/Blue). Sunpetal Grove is there to establish an even more consistent Mana-base. The 4 Birds of Paradise and 4 Noble Hierarch speed up the deck and give you any mana you’d need. I was considering to drop the Hierarchs in favor of more Enchantments/Auras but decided to run 8 small and flexible cost 1 Mana producers to be able to play my Verduran and Mesa Enchantresses on turn 2 and to have lots of spare Mana for doing the Rancor trick more often.

The Draw Engine(s):

This deck features an amazing draw engine when viewed in the context of what this deck does. I am running 2 Mesa and 2 Verduran Enchantresses which draw you a card whenever you play an Enchantment (If I was to put money into this I would swap those for Argothian Enchantress as she is cheaper mana-wise and has Shroud as well) and then I am running 4 copies of Femeref Enchantress, which lets you draw a card each time one of your Enchantments is put into your graveyard. When you think about what this deck tries to do, you will see that your Enchantresses will make you draw a truckload of cards in the process. Play Rancor for 1 green Mana, draw a card from Verduran/Mesa Enchantress, sack Rancor to Auratog to give it +2/+2 and conveniently draw a card from Femeref Enchantress. This way you will not only boost your ‘Tog but draw 2 cards for each 1 green Mana you spend on Rancor. Honestly, in the context of this particular deck, this could be one of the most powerful and cheap to maintain draw engines I have come across in a long time. But the raw draw power does not stop there. I decided to add a card which I wanted to use in a deck for a long time: Hatching Plans. Hatching Plans is an Enchantment for just 1U which lets you draw 3 cards when destroyed. You guessed where this is going at: Just sack it to Auratog, boost him for +2/+2 and draw 3 new cards. What a deal for 2 mana!

Pinpoint Removal and Stack-Shenanigans:

This deck features great pinpoint removal in the form of the White Enchantments Journey to Nowhere, which exiles any Creature for as long as it is in play at the cost of 1W and the incredibly flexible Oblivion Ring which does the same but can exile not only Creatures but any bothersome Permanent at the cost of 2W. As these awesome removal cards are all Enchantments, you will draw cards from your Enchantresses and can feed them to your ‘Togs. And here comes the fun part about those: I know from reliable sources that you can pull off a nifty feat (please do not ask me about the technical details of how it works – all I know is it does work1 :D) involving Stack rulings which will remove the exiled Creature/Permanent from the game permanently when you sack your Journey to Nowhere / Oblivion Ring to Auratog or Phantatog at the right time. Another reason why I should be running both those Enchantments!

Backup Solutions – Phantatog vs Thaumatog – Spirit Loop vs Aspect of Mongoose:

I figured that 4 Auratog as the killer card where not enough simply thinking about the probability of getting it in your starting hand or drawing it early on. So I turned to the Atogs released in Odyssey. There are two that “eat” Enchantments and get +1/+1 for each one you sacked to them, so they are not as powerful as the original Auratog. Also they both cost 3 Mana to summon. I figured I had to run at least one of them to serve as backup for Auratog. When I compared both ‘Togs in Question, Thaumatog and Phantatog, I decided to add the latter to the deck, the reason being this: Both, as mentioned before, get +1/+1 for each Enchantment you sacrifice to them, and both have a secondary ability. Thaumatog lets you sack a land for a +1/+1 boost while Phantatog lets you discard a card to give it +1/+1. That sealed the deal. Considering the draw potential of this deck, I thought the discarding ability of Phantatog could get in quite handy. Also, being White/Blue he fits my color scheme quite nicely.

Next I was looking for alternatives for Rancor, knowing there were some other cheap Enchantments that returned themselves to your hand when destroyed. I narrowed down the choice to Spirit Loop vs Aspect of Mongoose. Both have their mertis, Spirit Loop costing 1W and giving lifelink to the enchanted Creature and Aspect of Mongoose costing 1G and giving Shroud to the Creature you attach it to. I settled for 3 copies of the white Spirit Loop as the prospect of a lifelinked, trampling Mega-Auratog seemed exciting to me. If I was to build a sideboard though I would surely run some Aspect of Mongoose there as shrouding your Auratogs or Phantatogs could be useful against quite a few decks.

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