MtG: A Veteran in a Beginners’ Tournament – Two Fun/Casual Decks

Dear readers and friends of the MtG CCG!

My trusty boy-companion Robin has recently discovered his interest in Magic: the Gathering as a good (in my opinion superior) alternative to the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG which we have played excessively already. I heartily welcome Robin’s change of mind about Magic and helped him in building his first deck, although he mostly preferred not to listen to a 15-years M:tG veteran’s expert tips, which is no problem at all since it will all be a learning process for him, which I had tried to speed up by giving some advice, but eventually he will find his own way by trial and error.

Speaking of trial, as it happens, there will be a “Beginner’s Tournament” at our local Magic Shop in Linz where I have been to twice for Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments and one Magic Journey to Nyx sealed deck event. About Yu-Gi-Oh, I will confine myself to the casual environment of my home and among my friends rather than playing tournements, since I realized that a game that can be over in 2 turns, even with a ton of cards being banned or restricted, is not something I want to invest time and/or money in. I will rather focus, totally back to the roots, on partaking in Magic tournaments.

Tomorrow I will go to Linz for my first ever EDH/Commander tournament and have a fully pimped WUB Artifact Deck all lined up, about which I will post on here later today. But for now I would like to show you two fun/casual decks of mine, one of which I will be playing in the “Beginner’s Tournament” on Saturday next week.

Yes, that is right, a M:tG Veteran with about 15 years of experiene in M:tG will participate in a tournament for beginners. The reason for this rather odd plan is that I don’t want to idle around for 2 – 3 hours as long as the tournament lasts in which Robin will participate, but rather participate as well, but only with a not really competitive, fun deck which I am going to showcase below. The funny thing is that ALL cards are allowed in this beginners event. I phoned the store owner and asked if I would be free to play 4 Black Lotuses for instance, which he responded to in the positive.

Now I could be really evil and play my somewhat powered Vintage Deck with Mana Drains, Mox Sapphire and Force of Wills etc, but I will at least be fair and just play a fun deck. Still I will have a blast being able to play a deck with 4 Skullclamps (a dream come true for me, since this is my all time favorite equipement) and 4 Dark Rituals.

Furthermore, if I should make the first place, I will be distributing my 4 boosters reward among the real beginners, as I really just want to do this for the fun of it and I think it would be a fair gesture. But on to the decks. I will be showcasing two decks now, starting with the one I am going to enter the beginner’s tourney with. As always, you will get the decklist first followed up by my thoughts on the deck and its strategy:

D. D. D. – Discard, Destroy, Disrupt (Casual/Fun):

Creatures…10

4 x Vampire Nighthawk (1BB)

4 x Hypnotic Specter (1BB)

2 x Blazing Specter (2BR)

Instants…16

4 x Dark Ritual (B)

4 x Surgical Extraction (B/2LP)

4 x Lightning Bolt (R)

4 x Terminate (BR)

Sorceries…8

4 x Sign in Blood (BB)

4 x Blightning (1BR)

Artifacts…4

4 x Skullclamp (1)

Lands…22

14 x Swamp

8 x Mountain

Thoughts on the Deck:

Well I couldn’t think of a better name for this deck, cause all it does is disrupt your opponent by means of (random) discards and by destroying their Creatures with cost effective instants like Lightning Bolt and the awesome Terminate. This deck could be called an Aggro Control Deck with elements of both aggro as well as control, the aggro-part being a bit weak with only 10 Creatures, which are all great compared to their relatively low cost. I do however rely heavily on the control aspect of the deck as my efficient Creatures start at 3 Mana CCC (Converted Casting Cost). I must not that I am quite pleased with this deck list as it runs 4 Dark Rituals and, even more awesome, 4 copies of Skullclamp

…my all time favorite equipment which is banned everywhere except in the Vintage Format, an rightfully so cause it is just awesome! In the beginner tournament however, all cards are allowed without any restrictions or banned cards, so again I could just flex my 1500 Euros Landstill Deck with Mox Sapphire, playsets of Force of Will and Mana Drain etc etc, but that would not be any fun and unfair towards those participants who are really just beginners in the event. So this is why I built this less competitive but for sure fun to play deck using mostly commons and uncommons as well as some cheapass rares, crap rares if I may put it so bluntly.

I have to note that I find it curious that the then highly sought after and in my eyes very powerful Hypnotic Specter is considered a crap rare as well nowadays…

Anyways on to the strategy this deck is all about:

There are basically two core strategies largely depending on what you draw in your starting hand.

The perfect opening would be a first turn Hypnotic Specter or Vampire Nighthawk, who is such a great package being a 2/3 Flying Deathtouching Liflinker for just 1BB (pretty amazing if you ask me) powered out by a Dark Ritual. If you got Hypnotic Specter on turn 1 you can start disrupting/annoying your oppoenent with random discards as soon as turn 2, which would be devastating to any strategy.

Strategy number two, if you cannot pull off a first turn Specter or Vampire, would be to disrupt the oppoenent by making them discard through Blightning and annihilate their Creatures with Lightning Bolts and, best suited for stronger Creatures, Terminate until you draw into one of your rather few Creatures and start the actual beatdown.

Blazing Specter is the worse version of Hypnotic Specter as he costs 1 more mana and the discard is not at random, but he has Haste so you could still summon him on turn 2 via Dark Ritual and start attacking and forcing the opponent to discard right away.

Surgical Extraction can be very useful in a deck that has lots of ways to make your opponent discard or destroy their creatures, as it removes any card in a player’s graveyard as well as all copies of the card in the hand, deck and graveyard of the player from the game. This can be very efficient to take out a key card of your opponent for good. Plus it costs only 1 black mana or it is for free if you pay the 2 Life for the “Phyrexian Mana” alternative cost.

Well my major concern about the deck is the lack of Creatures. 10 out of 60 cards is a bit few and backup should be quite hard to get. Hence I included some great card draw in the form of Sign in Blood and Skullclamp. While Sign in Blood gives you 2 extra cards at the cost of BB and 2 life, which is negligable, even more so if you have your flying lifelinked deathtouching Vampire Nighthawk out, and you can also use it to deal these last 2 points of damage needed to win if you target your opponent with it.

Skullclamp is sooo great on so many levels. It gives a small power boost to your Specters and Nighthaws, making them attack at for 3 damage instead of 2, is a form of life insurance for them because an experienced opponent will hate to give you two extra cards by destroying the equipped Creature AND it replaces a Creature twice. When the equipped Creature dies, you get to draw 2 cards and hopefully, a replacement or backup Creature may be among them. A truly awesome card and I am really excited to be able to play 4 of them in a (non-Vintage) tournament!

All in all this deck has a lot going on for it. It can have an explosive start powered through Dark Ritual and has a ton of disruption in the form of discard, direct damage and creature destruction as well as burn in the form of Blightning and Lightning Bolt and features the, in my opinion, underrated Hypnotic Specter on top of that. I am looking forward to seeing how this one will fare!

On a closing note, I think this would be quite awesome if drawn at the right time but I dropped it from the list in favor of Skullclamp/Sign in Blood cause I think the deck would benefit more from the latter than from the card below:

Maybe I should build a Mono-Black Discard Deck around it some time!

OK on to the next fun/casual deck (I will not play this one in the beginners tourney):

Actually, I think this one could do quite well against other Modern Format Decks (a format in which it would be legal even), but let me share the decklist first before I will elaborate on the Strategy.

Fling-a-Tog (Casusal/Modern Format):

Creatures…19

4 x Myr Servitor

4 x Glaze Fiend 1B

4 x Salvage Slasher 1B

4 x Atog 1R

3 x Megatog 4RR

Instants…6

4 x Fling 1R

2 x Shrapnel Blast 1R

Sorceries…8

4 x Seething Song 2R

4 x Thoughtcast 4U

Lands…22

4 x Glimmervoid

4 x Seat of the Synod

4 x Vault of Whipsers

4 x Great Furnace

4 x Darksteel Citadel

1 x Ancient Den

1 x Tree of Tales

Thoughts on the Deck:

Well, if you are MtG-savvy enough you can see what this deck is all about: Attack with a Trampling Megatog

… the main man in the whole show and sack enough Artifacts to him to deal lethal combat damage. You’ll need to sack at least 6 artifacts to Megatog in order to deal 21 damage – but in most cases blockers will absorb some of the damage, so I thought of a cool way to deal lethal damage without the ‘tog actually needing to get at least 20 combat damage through. The name of the deck hints at what is the key card in my evil schemings. Have a look:

This card totally rocks as you just have to get through like 10 damage with Megatog and can then fling him at your opponent dealing the rest of the damage needed for the win directly. Of course if you have 6 artifacts handy you can pump Megatog to 21 ATK and without attacking just sack him to Fling and deal 21 points worth of direct damage! That is pretty cool in my opinion and with half the deck being artifacts (exactly 30 out of 60 cards are in fact artifacts in this deck!) the plan should succeed at least every other game or so.

Salvage Slasher will get some massive boost in Power as well after you sacked a ton of Artifacts to Megatog or his small cousin Atog, so you can attack with him for considerable damage if there are no blockers for some reason or just use Fling on him as well.

Shrapnel Blast is kinda your way to get through the last few points of damage needed for the win and is extremely cost-effective being an Instant that deals 5 damage to any Creature or Player (at the additional cost of having to sack an artifact) at just 1R.

Thoughtcast adds some inexpensive and much needed, quality card draw to the mix and Seething Song speeds up the deck, letting you summon your Megatog on turn 4.

Myr Servitor deserves an honorable mention as it is a 1/1 artifact creature at the cost of 1 of which all copies in the graveyard respawn each turn as long as one Servitor is in play. If you draw into multiple of these, they are excellent food for (Meg-) Atog!!

While I just love Megatog as an overlooked card with theoretically high potential, I think I could build a similar deck that would be a lot more efficient and reliable, while being not any more expensive. So let me give you a bonus deck in this article which I call

Fling-a-Thopter (Casual/Modern Format):

Creatures…16

4 x Ornithopter 0

4 x Arcbound Stinger 2

4 x Frogmite 4

4 x Broodstar 8UU

Instants….8

4 x Fling

4 x Shrapnel Blast

Sorceries….4

4 x Thoughtcast

Artifacts…12

4 x Welding Jar 0

4 x Cranial Plating 2

4 x Lightning Greaves 2

Lands…20

4 x Darksteel Citadel

4 x Great Furnace

4 x Vault of Whispers

4 x Seat of the Synod

4 x Glimmervoid

About the Deck:

Well this deck does similar things as the above, with the only difference that Megatogs and the sacking of artifcts are replaced with cheap flyers and Cranial Plating. The best case would be to have this…

…. slam on it this…

…have 8 other artifacts in play, attack with evasive ‘Thopter and then do this:

Bam, 20 damage in the opponent’s face!

Alternatively, Broodstar would be an awesome option. It cost you UU to cast if you got 8 or more artifacts in play (40 out of 60 cards are artifacts in this particular deck!), it flies and will have Power and Toughness each equal to the number of artifacts you control. Slam a Cranial Plating on it and its Power will double. If you summoned Broodstar for the minimum of UU you would have at least 8 artifacts in play so he would be an 8/8 Flyer and 16/8 with Cranial Plating. Attack, deal 16 damage and then either use fling to deal a total of 32 damage or just play Shrapnel Blast to inflict 5 extra damage so you’d have deal 21 damage that way as well, which should be enough for the win in many cases.

Arcbound Stinger is also an option for Cranial Plating, as he has flying as well (You could as well play Glaze fiend but I’d stick with Stinger!).

Again, Thoughtcast serves as cheap card draw and Lightning Greaves is really great in this one as not only does it give your ‘thopter, Stinger or even Broodstar Haste, so they can attack a surprised opponent right away plus they get shroud so they can’t be destroyed or messed with easily anymore.

After having written these lines and having pondered a bit, I think I came to the conclusion that the second Fling deck would be the better choice for several reasons. I will definitely try out both versions some time when the opportunity presents itself!

In conclusion I have to note that all of the above decks are extremely inexpensive to assemble, even if you don’t own a single card from them as everything is either a common, uncommon or a crap rare (Broodstar goes for a buck or so nowadays!) with the sole exception of Glimmervoid, which I happen to own but could as well be swapped for 4 cheapass Mirrodin’s Cores! Gotta love fun decks on a budget!

Happy Gaming!

Yours,

Andi

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