Dear readers and fellow friends of M:tG!
Some of you may already have noticed that I have a soft spot for, no, I LOVE so called “crap rares”. To get definitions out of the way, I consider a rare (or even mythic rare) card that goes for under a dollar or so as something many would refer to as a “crap rare”. To my knowledge the prices of cards are determined by demand, how popular and sought after a certain card is in competititve and casual play. These prices may change over time and some rare cards may become crap rares or crap rares may rise in popularity and with that increase in monetary value, as new cards come out that make them more or less desirable and viable in certain decks. The best example are the classic Birds of Paradise, which were about 20 USD or more back then – until Noble Hierarch came, which skyrocketed in price ever since it was released and averages in at about $50 USD or more, while you get a Bird for $3.50 USD on average nowadays.
So I want to start a series of articles about Magic: the Gathering crap rares, since I love to build decks around those, which are, due to the nature of a crap rare, not only cheap to buy together, but also provide a fun challenge for my deckbuilding mind.
For a worthy start of this little series, I chose a card which I find myself mentioning over and over again in so many deck articles and which has great, great potential in my opinion – potential that can be unleashed and built upon if you assemble the right deck around it.
Lo and behold our first “crap rare in the spotlight”:
First of all, Corpsejack Menace goes for about 60 US cents and thus qualifies as a crap rare. It is a 4 cost creature with a decent 4/4 body. What makes it so awesome in my opinion however is its ability. Whenever you would place a +1/+1 counter on any of your creatures, place twice as many instead. Seriously that card blew my mind when I first saw it and my deckbuilder’s brain went wild with ideas and combos involving this very card. It is kinda the poor-man’s-version of Doubling Season, which considerable rose in price since the introduction of those notorious Planeswalkers into the M:tG universe, as Doubling Season doubles the number of counters on any of your permanent, which includes Planeswalkers as well…
Corpsejack Menace has its advantages (and disadvantages) too – for instance it is a 4/4 beater which can pose quite a threat to an unprepared opponent. Again, what matters though is its awesome +1/+1 counter-doubling ability, which offers so many possibilities for the crafty deck designer. Just yesterday I prominently featured the “Menace” in two decks built around another of those ominous crap rares – Deathbringer Thoctar – but there are many, many more possible “homes” for Corpsejack Menace.
Let me share with you three of the many combotastic decks that came to my mind since I “discovered” our “crap rare in the spotlight” (all decks are Modern Format legal, though their competitiveness is doubtful – use in a fun/casual environment is recommended):
4 x Arcbound Worker 1
3 x Arcbound Stinger 2
4 x Steel Overseer 2
3 x Etherium Sculptor 1U
4 x Corpsejack Menace 2BG
3 x Etched Oracle 4
2 x Triskelion 6
1 x Clockwork Dragon 7
3 x Thoughtcast 4U
4 x Pentad Prism 2
3 x Lightning Greaves 2
3 x Howling Mine 2
3 x Clock of Omens 4
4 x Glimmervoid
4 x Mirrodin’s Core
4 x Tree of Tales
4 x Vault of Whispers
4 x Seat of the Synod
About the Deck:
I am particularly excited about this deck, which runs, oddly enough, a bunch of artifacts alongside Corpsejack Menace, as there are so many combos and synergies in it and as it features two crap rares at once. The second is a card which I have always liked a ton and tried to build combos and decks around it for a long time: I am talking about Triskelion:
“Trike”, as I like to call it, is a true crap rare as it goes for around 30 US cents a piece. Now just have a look at what it does and imagine this casting one with Corpsejack Menace out. Yep, that’s right, you will get a 7/7 Construct that can shoot/distribute no less than 6 points of damage however you choose. That is a pretty great deal for just 6 generic mana if you ask me! Attach Lightning Greaves, attack for 7 right away and then, optionally, distribute 6 damage among creatures and/or players as you choose. That is how the Trike rolls when its best friend, the Menace, is there to support it!
Another great, great but terribly underrated “pet card” of mine is Etched Oracle:
In my opinion, getting a 4/4 for 4 (different) mana that can draw you 3 cards at instant speed if you got one more mana to spare is pretty amazing. Again let us imagine this in conjunction with Corpsejack Menace. That’s right, if you play Oracle fully boosted via Sunburst, it will be a whooping 8/8 artificial Wizard with the ability to pay 1 and remove four counters to draw 3 cards (so you’d be able to draw twice – six cards in total). Again this would be a good candidate for equipping with Lightning Greaves.
Another great artifact creature to run alongside Menace is Clockwork Dragon:
This one is pretty obvious: When combined with Corpsejack Menace, the Dragon will enter play as a huge 12/12 flyer for just 7 mana on which you can place two +1/+1 counters for the cost of 3 generic mana…
Well, the awesomeness does not stop with Triskelion, Etched Oracle and Clockwork Dragon. The deck features some minor combos or synergies involving Menace and small Arcbound creatures – namely Arcbound Worker and Arcbound Stinger. These Arcbound creatures have the Modular ability, which places a number of +1/+1 counters on them when they come into play. Furthermore, when they die, you can move the counters from them onto another artifact creature. You may use them as early blockers but they become really neat once you manage to get the Menace into play. Not only will they enter play with double the number of +1/+1 counters, no, when they die, the number of counters doubles AGAIN due to Menace’s ability when you move them onto another of your artifact creatures. A good target for spare +1/+1 counters would be Triskelion of course!
So with all the talk about combos and synergies with Corpsejack Menace, you may ask yourself “It is just four cards in a 60 card deck, what if I don’t draw Corpsejack Menace?” Well first of all the deck is not half bad even without the counter doubling capabilities of Menace and secondly, there are tons of ways to draw quite a few cards so the odds of you eventually bumping into a copy of our favorite Fungus are pretty good. Etched Oracle was already mentioned. Then there is the (due to affinity for artifacts) cheap quality card draw of Thoughtcast. Lastly, and this is my favorite part, the deck runs a draw engine combo I came up with while ago consisting of 2 – 3 cards (the third being optional but all the more powerful if you got all parts lined up):
The core combo consists of Howling Mine + Clock of Omens, with Steel Overseer, the only costlier creature in the deck, as the third and optional combo piece. It would work like this: Howling Mine draws each player an additional card during their draw phase, UNLESS it is tapped. Clock of Omens lets you tap two of your artifacts to untap target artifact. Now what you’d do is tap both Mine and Clock to untap any of your many artifacts, so the Mine would be tapped and hence not draw your opponents any card during their draw phases. The best untap target for the artifact duo of Mine and Clock would be one of your Steel Overseers.
And this leads us to yet another synergy with Corpsejack Menace: Steel Overseer taps to put a +1/+1 counter on each and every one of your artifact creatures. You’ve guessed it, Menace will double the amount of counters dished out, which is amazing in and off itself. However this can get quite insane if you use Clock of Omens and some other artifacts such as Howling Mine to untap the Overseer and use his ability multiple times each turn. This works great with your modulars and will provide Triskelion with more “ammunition” on each of your turns.
Well, that about wraps it up for this deck. I must say I am really excited to try this one out (I think I have all the cards in my collection to be able to build the deck) and see how it all falls into place. The sheer amount of combos and snynergies, not only related to Corpsejack Menace sure sounds promising!
For now, on to the next Corpsejack Menace deck:
Mono-Green Menace (Bugs, Plants, Hydras and a Fungus):
4 x Birds of Paradise G
4 x Scute Mob G
4 x Vinelasher Kudzu 1G
4 x Sakura-Tribe Elder 1G
4 x Mistcutter Hydra XG
2 x Vastwood Hydra XGG
4 x Corpsejack Menace 2BG
4 x Bioshift G/U
4 x Solidarity of Heroes 1G
4 x Harrow 2G
2 x Oran Rief the Vastwood
4 x Llanowar Reborn
4 x Evolving Wilds
10 x Forest
2 x Swamp
About the Deck:
First of all I have to admit that the title is a bit misleading, since this deck cannot possibly be mono-green if I am running Corpsejack Menace, which is green AND black as we have seen already. However the rest of the deck is all green, and I needed a shorter, catchier title than “Bugs, Plants, Hydras and a Fungus”, which would describe what this deck is all about more accurately.
So what is the basic plan with this almost mono-green deck?
Well I am running tons of quite efficient cards that let you add +1/+1 counters to creatures – surpise, surprise! Before I go into detail on my card choices in this one and how they are supposed to interact with the star of the show – Corpsejack Menace – I would like to note that despite this deck features lots of rares, it is still rather budget friendly, as many of the rares included are not really crap rares but still quite cheap to get a hold of: Scute Mob goes for $1.80 USD right now, Mistcutter Hydra is at about $2.50 and Vastwood Hydra averages in at 60 cents to mention a few. Furthermore it has to be said that this deck could work out well even if you do not draw into a copy of Corpsejack Menace due to the fact that it contains many highly powerful and efficient quality cards.
Let me go through the cards one-by-one this time to demonstrate the tremendous synergies and great interactions in this deck:
Birds of Paradise speed up the deck but the main reason is not their mana-making capabilities but rather the fact that they fly. Why that is relevant will become evident later on.
Scute Mob is a 1/1 for one green mana that gets no less than four +1/+1 counters during each and every one of your upkeeps if you control 5 or more lands. As this deck features considerable mana-ramp in the form of Sakura-Tribe Elder and Harrow, meeting these requirements early on should not be too hard. And now comes Corpsejack Menace! All of a sudden your Mob of bugs will gain 8 (!) +1/+1 counters during each of your upkeeps as long as you control at least 5 lands. Pretty awesome for a one mana creature if you ask me.
Vinelasher Kudzu is another 1/1, this time at a still very affordable cost of 1G that accumulates +1/+1 counters over the course of the game. Kudzu gets a +1/1+ counter every time a land comes into play under your control. This goes extremely well with cards like Sakura-Tribe Elder, Harrow and Evolving Wilds, which all put additional lands into play. The Kudzu would be growing considerably even without Menace, but with it, once again the number of counters gained for each land you play would double.
Sakura-Tribe Elder, a 1/1 for 1G can be sacked any time to search your library for any one basic land card which is then put into play tapped. As mentioned above this goes well with Vinelasher Kudzu but it also speeds up your deck AND gives you access to one of your swamps which you may need for summoning the Menace.
Mistcutter Hydra is one hell of a creature even without Corpsejack Menace. It costs XG and comes into play with X +1/+1 counters. On top of that it cannot be countered, is protected against blue and has haste. What a deal! Now imagine Mistcutter Hydra in conjunction with Menace. The Hydra would come into play with twice the number of +1/+1 counters on it. So for example if you invested 4 mana into the X in its casting cost you would get a hasty, cannot-be-countered, protection from blue 8/8 beast of a hydra for just 5 mana. With all the mana ramp in the deck, you should be able to reliably drop a huge Mistcutter Hydra soon.
Vastwood Hydra is pretty great as well and works in a similar way as its mistcutting cousin. It costs XGG and comes into play with X +1/+1 counters, just as Mistcutter Hydra. When it dies, and this is what makes this 60 cent crap rare so great in this deck in my opinion, you can distribute its counters among your creatures as you wish. Now first of all, just like Mistcutter Hydra, Corpsejack Menace will double the amout of +1/+1 counters the Hydra comes into play with. When it dies however things can really get quite ugly for your opponent, as the number of counters doubles AGAIN as you distribute and place the counters of your slain Hydra among your creatures. A prime target for this would be your lowly Birds (of Paradise), which have evasion in the form of flying. For example: You have Menace out and cast Vastwood Hydra for 4GG. You will get an 8/8 creature. When it dies, you could place 8 counters on a Bird for instance, and Menace would double those counters giving you a 16/17 flyer that will be a game winner in many cases.
Corpsejack Menace pretty much doubles the power of the deck as a whole but as I said already, the deck is quite efficient I think even without Menace in play. I say that because there are no ways for you to fetch Menace or draw additional cards to bump into one sooner or later. However, there is a good deal of deck thinning in form of your land searchers Sakura-Tribe Elder, Harrow and Evolving Wilds, which does increase the chance of acutally drawing Corpsejack Menace.
Bioshift, an instant that costs just 1 green or 1 blue mana (you’d pay the green in this deck), is your best friend in this deck. What it does is simply amazing, even more so when combined with the powers of Corpsejack Menace. Bioshift lets you transfer any number of +1/+1 counters from any one of your creatures to another. Simply make sure to have one green mana handy and you can save all your precious +1/+1 counters on one of your creatures that would be destroyed, exiled, bounced or whatnot by sending them over to any of your other creatures. A great target would be the flying Birds of Paradise. Now Corpsejack Menace proves its incredible value in a deck like this as you will get to put twice as many +1/+1 counters on one of your creatures than you removed from another. This works great with Scute Mobs, Vinelasher Kudzus and your Hydras. Bioshift is so versatile, you can even attack with a few creatures and move some counters from a blocked creature to an unblocked creature to inflict some (serious) additional damage on your opponent. Just an example how powerful this 1 mana instant can be: If you have Menace out and managed to summon a Mistcutter Hydra with 6 +1/+1 counters, you can use Bioshift to remove all 6 counters from the Hydra (maybe in response to something that would have destroyed or exiled it anyways) and put no less than 12 +1/+1 counters on, let’s say, a flying Birds of Paradise. I really like the potential of this really cheap instant as so many neat tricks can be pulled of with it.
Solidarity of Heroes doubles the number of +1/+1 counters on any one creature for just 1G – at instant speed – and can target additional creatures for each 1G you pay in addition for every creature beyond the first one. Now that would be amazing in and off itself, but as far as I understand the cards involved, Corpsejack Menace would double the number of counters you placed with Solidarity of Herose. So again an example: Menace is on the field. You play Mistcutter Hydra for 4G, so it comes into play as an 8/8, with 8 +1/+1 counters on it. Then you’d play Solidarity of Heroes which would put 8 additional +1/+1 counters on the Hydra. These newly placed counters would double through Menace’s effect which would end in an 8 x 3 = 24 +1/+1 counter Mistcutter Hydra. IF I am not totally wrong, that would rock big time! You could Bioshift the 24 counters onto Birds of Paradise which would make them an 48/49 flying behemoth of a bird. Utterly insane. Utterly…
Harrow is a great way to get additional lands into play fast. You just pay 2G, sack one land and put two basic lands from your library into play UNTAPPED. You would be searching for a forest and a swamp most of the times, so you’d be able to cast your Corpsejack Menace. Note that Harrow will trigger Vinelasher Kudzu’s ability twice, putting 2 additional +1/+1 counters on it.
Oran-Rief the Vastwood is a great land in this deck. It comes into play tapped, produces green mana and you can tap it without any additional cost to put a +1/+1 counter on each green creature that entered play this turn. Once again, Menace will double the number of the counters you get to place.
Llanowar Reborn comes into play tapped and produces 1 green mana as well and has Graft 1, which means it enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter which can be moved onto a creature when the creature comes into play. Quite useful as well as Menace will let you put 2 +1/+1 counters on the creature of your choice.
Evolving Wilds can be sacked to search your deck for any basic land, maybe the one swamp you need to cast Menace, triggers Vinelasher twice and thins out your deck. A good choice for this deck as well I think.
OK so much for the second Corpsejack Menace deck. It appears to me that there is some huge potential in this deck as well and the prospect of 48/49 Birds of Paradise, however likely or unlikely that may actually ever happen, is just so very tempting. Only good that I own most of the cards listed in this deck – I can’t wait to try that one out sooner or later as well.
Now on to the third and last Menace deck:
4 x Birds of Paradise G
4 x Simic Initiate G
2 x Llanowar Elves G
4 x Plaxcaster Frogling 1GU
4 x Trygon Predator 1GU
4 x Vigean Hydropon 1GU
4 x Corpsejack Menace 2BG
2 x Trikelion 6
4 x Bioshift U/G
4 x Solidarity of Heroes 1G
4 x Give / Take 2G / 2U
4 x Llanowar Reborn
4 x Yavimaya Coast
4 x Llanowar Wastes
4 x Forest
4 x Island
2 x Swamp
About the Deck:
This deck has a lot in common with the previous one as both run central key cards like Bioshift and Solidarity of Heroes to move around and double counters (as a matter of course, there is also Corpsejack Menace in this deck as this article is all about Corpsejack Menace decks!), however it does focus a bit more on the “Graft” ability. Graft is somewhat similar to Modular which we already discussed in the first deck I presented in this article. A card with Graft enters the game with a number of +1/+1 counters and whenever a creature enters play, you may move one +1/+1 counter from the card with Graft onto the creature you just played.
Right there we have the reason why Corpsejack Menace can live up to its name once again. With a Menace out, your Graft creatures will enter battlefield with twice as many +1/+1 counters and whenever you move a +1/+1 counter onto another creature, it will receive two counters instead – thanks to Menace.
Notable Graft cards are:
…which comes into play with three +1/+1 counters or with 6 of those in conjunction with Menace at the mere cost of 1UG and has the awesome ability to give shroud to a creature with a +1/+1 counter on it by paying 2 generic mana.
…which acts as a great “storage facility” for +1/+1 counters. While it can neither attack or block, it comes into play with five +1/+1 counters – make that ten with Corpsejack Menace – and there are some awesome combos with it. For instance you could use the “Take side” of Give / Take ro remove all its counters and draw 5 cards or your could target it with the in this deck awesome as well Solidarity of Heroes to double the number of its +1/+1 counters only to move the counters over to a creature that can attack, preferrably the flying Birds of Paradise or Trygon Predators (I love that card in particular, not only in this deck!).
Let us think this through real quick: Suppose Menace is on the field. You play Vigean Hydropon which enters play with ten +1/+1 counters. Then you target it with Solidarity of Heroes, adding 10 + 10 counters, elevating the counter total to 30. Then you could transfer the counters on another creature for just 1 mana by means of Bioshift. This is completely crazy but the creature would receive no less than 60 counters that way!! Triskelion anyone?? (Remember you can remove a +1/+1 counter from Triskelion to inflict one point of damage to target creature or player. That means you could in theory kill of an opponent thrice, or three opponents at once if you like multiplayer madness. So YES PLEASE to at least two Triskelions in this deck as well!
Llanowar Reborn is a land with Graft 1 and you got 4 Simic Initiates as well for some additional grafting!
Lastly I want to highlight the already mentioned double-sided card Give / Take. You can either put three (six with Menace) +1/+1 counters on target creature for 2G, which is nice OR remove all +1/+1 counters from target creature to draw that many cards. The latter makes Give / Take a very potent draw card in this deck in particular. As I said you can refill your hand by targeting a Hydropon with Take or turn a, thanks to Menace, 6/6 Plaxcaster Frogling into a new hand of 6 cards – if you need the draw more than the awesome 6/6 creature that is.
Well, that about wraps it up for my first, admittedly rather lenghty “crap rare in the spotlight” article. There would still be more to explore and tinker around with Corpsejack Menace, as I didn’t want to torment you with a whole novel about this quite awesome but totally underrated card, so I had to leave out some other deck ideas. One deserves a honorable mention though: What if one combined creatures with the rather new “Heroic” ability, introduced in the Theros Block, with Corpsejack Menace? Here’s an example card for you to figure it out yourself instead of me having to explain how this would work:
That’s right, the above Centaur would receive four +1/+1 counters everytime he’d be the target of a Spell you cast when teamed up with Corpsejack Menace. I will refrain from posting a decklist and commentary on a possible “Heroic Menace” deck, which would be very much feasible I guess, at least for a casual/fun environment.
Well I hope you enjoyed the first of what will hopefully become a series of articles highlighting certain “crap rares” and exploring the possibilities of “turning dirt to gold” so to say by building the right “home” for rare cards that are considered more or less unplayable.
I for one enjoyed writing this a lot, as, and I mentioned it initially, I like myself a good deckbuilding challenge, hence my fondness of toying around with ostensibly worthless cards which have one thing in common: A slumbering potential that can be awakened by the crafty deck designer.
So I thank you for reading and wish you all, as always,