MtG Nostalgia – Three Old-School Decks in the Spotlight

Dear readers and friends of the awesome Magic: the Gathering TCG!

It has been just a day since I last posted about MtG Decks but as I have built about a dozen of those recently, I wanted to follow up with yet another deck and strategy article on the foot!

In this article I want to focus on “old-school” decks, of which I will be showcasing 3. These decks mostly consists of “pre-modern” cards and strategies, with one deck having been built devoid of ANY modern cards – a purely “anti-modern deck” or “classic deck” as you could call it.

The cool thing about decks that were played in the more distant past of MtG, and I am in the game for over 15 years, is that nowadays, decks that were terribly expensive to assemble back in the days are nowadays dirt-cheap to buy together. Just an example: I got my playset of Spiritmonger for about 2 US Dollars, whereas back then when that beast, which has lost nothing of its awesomeness in my eyes, would go for 10 – 20 Dollars a copy  if I remember correctly. In this articel however I won’t be posting a deck featuring the “Monger” (although I just HAVE to build a black green deck with four of ’em as I got 3 Pernicious Deeds and 4 Lotleth Trolls just lying around unused – what a shame!) but instead one deck I came up with all by myself (without the help/inspiration from the Internet) which uses only pre-modern cards, a GW Enchantment Beatdown Deck and another deck of my very own devising that worked surprisingly well and proved to be a major nuisance for my opponents, a Mono-Blue Isochron Scepter Deck and lastly I will showcase a good-old, classic Psychatog Build. Note that all decks are intended for casual play only and were built on a budget!

So let’s get started with the first deck:

GW Enchantment Beatdown:

Creatures…20

4 x Birds of Paradise

4 x Auratog 1G

4 x Femeref Enchantress GW

4 x Verduran Enchantress 1GG

1 x Cantivore 1WW

3 x Endless Wurm 3GG

Sorceries…4

4 x Rofellos’s Gift G

Enchantments…16

4 x Rancor G

4 x Briar Shield G

4 x Seal of Strength G

4 x Wild Growth G

Lands…20

4 x Brushland

5 x Plains

11 x Forest

About the Deck:

What makes this deck peculiar, and I noted it before, is that it consists exclusively of pre-modern cards, cards that is, that fearture the old, classic card layout. I built it this way on purpose, inspired by the pre-modern decks of Stefan, my good, new gaming buddy, who stopped playing MtG in the Urza Block – so, ages ago.

This deck is an enchantment-focused deck, yet totally different from the popular Enchantress decks that are played in the Legacy format. The deck’s heart and soul are pretty much the double team of enchantresses, namely Verduran Enchantress (I could not and did not want to afford 4 of the strictly superior Argothian Enchantresses 😦 ) which draws you a card whenever you play an Enchantment AND the VERY rarely seen Femeref Enchantress, which draws you a card whenever an Enchantment is put into any graveyard.

The deck is quite fast and able to conquer the opponent by force in just a few turns, due to some of the best and cheapest creature boosting Enchantments around, namely Rancor, Seal of Strength and Briar Shield. The cool thing about the latter two is that you have to sacrifice them to get their (full) effect so not only will you draw a card when you play them for 1 green mana each through Verduran Enchantress but you will also draw when one of them is put into your graveyard thanks to your Femeref Enchantress.

The deck contains a really cool combo which, as awesome as it is, is not really necessary to win, but if you happen to get a Rancor in  hand and this nasty fella…

…your opponent is bound to be treated to some major beating! For each green mana you can play Rancor and boost the ‘Tog by +2/+2 each time you sacrifice Rancor and replay it. Don’t sacrifice the Rancor when you cast it for the last time and your Auratog will be a colossal trampler swinging in for the kill – possibly.

Two noteworthy other cards in the deck are Rofellos Gift on the one hand and Endless Wurm on the other.

Rofellos Gift is a sorcery for 1 green mana which lets you reveal a number of green cards from your hand to retrieve that many Enchantments from your graveyard to your hand. Perfect for recovering sacrificed Briar Shields and Seal of Strenghts.

Endless Wurm just spells overkill in this deck: A 9/9 Trampler for just 3GG (!!!). The only downside or drawback the monstrous Wurm hasis negligable in this deck. During your upkeep you have to sacrifice an Enchantment to keep Endless Wurm alive. Once again, three cheers for Rancor!!

Bottom line: I tried this deck several times against all kinds of different decks and most of the times (except when I had bad luck drawing) it worked out like a charm – fast and deadly. I am highly pleased with the result of my “anti-modern” experiment!

Alright then, on to the next MtG nostalgia deck! It is once more something I came up without borrowing ideas from other decks or decks to be found on the web. Of course I cannot and will not claim I am the first to have come up with a build like this, which would be quite silly. Still I am quite happy with the non-influenced outcome! So here comes…

Mono-Blue Scepter Control:

Creatures…4

4 x Prognostic Sphinx 3UU

Instants…34

4 x Brainstorm U

4 x Counterspell UU

4 x Muddle the Mixture UU

4 x Memory Lapse 1U

4 x Boomerang UU

4 x Hoodwink 1U

4 x Accumulated Knowledge 1U

2 x Impulse 1U

Lands…22

4 x Fairy Conclave

18 x Island

About the Deck:

At first glance, the deck looks pretty boring with lots of cheap instants and just one Creature that was included as a finisher (Prognostic Sphinx – a card I like a ton and of which I can’t believe it is dirt cheap, a true “crap rare”), despite the fact that the deck can win with the Farie Conclaves alone as well.

The central strategy revolves around…

…combined with cheap and efficient blue instants such as Counterspell, Memory Lapse of Boomerang/Hoodwink. You may wonder why I don’t just play a so called “Scepter Chant” lockdown deck featuring Orim’s Chant, of which I happen to own 4 copies on top of that, but I decided to deliberately go for a mono-blue build that can be, in my opinion and from my experience with this deck so far, as much annoying and crippling for your opponent as a Scepter Chant deck would be.

So the basic plan of the deck is to get a hold of a Scepter asap – Muddle the Mixture does a wonderful job in Transmuting into a Scepter if you need one (or into anything else costing 2 mana, stuff of which the deck runs plenty) – and either go the “counterspell” route or go for the “return stuff” option. Imprinting a Counterspell on Scepter is awesome as you will be able to counter any spell once per turn. Memory Lapse is arguably even more crippling for your opponent as they will be forced to put the countered card back on top of their deck, drawing the same card over and over again. While the “countering strategy” sounds and is great, I even prefer to put a Boomerang and/or Hoodwink on one or more Scepters, as both let you return ANY permanent – INCLUDING LANDS – to the owner’s hand. So while you can return all opponent Creatures to their hands with surplus Boomerangs in your hand, you can put the opponent under a thorough “land-lock” as you use your Scepter with Boomerang imprinted turn after turn to return a land to your opponent’s hand each and every turn.

This deck, as I can tell from my (highly fun for me, highly frustrating for my opponent) test games so far, the deck is really slow and usually wins by attacking with the 2/1 Flying Farie Conclaves and in conjunction with a Prognostic Sphinx or two – which is optional, not mandatory. On a closing note on this deck, I just have to show you Prognostic Sphinx, which I deem totally awesome as it is hard to kill with 5 Toughness, even harder to kill because you can give it Hexproof if need be and on top of that it flies, attacks for 3 and lets you Scry: 3 each time it attacks! What a package!! Take a look:

Ok then, let’s move on to the next and last deck in this deck and strategy article. It is nothing original but saw major play back in the days. Now that all is dirt-cheap to obtain, I decided to relive some memories (I never had such a deck before as I have to note!) and build my very own PSYCHATOG Deck with some new cards and my own twists added. Furthermore, I now have a good home for my playset of precious Underground Seas. So here comes the deck list:

UB Classic Psychatog:

Creatures…8

4 x Nightscape Familiar 1B

4 x Psychatog 1UB

Instants…

4 x Brainstorm U

4 x Counterspell UU

4 x Daze 1U

4 x Rune Snag 1U

4 x Aether Burst 1U

4 x Accumulated Knowledge 1U

4 x Circular Logic 2U

4 x Forbidden Alchemy 2U

Lands…20

4 x Underground Sea

4 x Polluted Delta

4 x Mishra’s Factory

4 x Island

4 x Swamp

About the Deck:

Well, the deck is admittedly a pretty standard Psychatog-Build but it has a few personalized twists I added. First off I need to brag about my 4 Foil Player Rewards Psychatogs…

and my 4 Foil FNM Circular Logics to go along with what is arguably the nastiest of all the ‘Togs:

Well as I said the cards in the deck are pretty much all standard for any Psychatog Deck. Let me showcase a few of them anyways:

My only Creature besides the ‘Tog is Nightscape Familiar, which is a 1/1 for 1B that regenerates for 1B. But most important of all, he reduces the costs of my blue (and red – but I aint have any of that color in this deck) Spells by 1. This is pretty vital if you look at the costs of the cards in the above decklists. Nightscape Familiar will not only let me summon Psychatog for 2 mana, he will reduce the cost of many powerful instants to 1 blue Mana: Daze, Rune Snag, Aether Burst and Accumulated Knowledge’s costs will be halved once the Familiar is out.

Furthermore it should be noted, that this deck features various cards that grow stronger the more copies of the respective card are in your graveyard. A good example is Accumulated Knowledge which draws you 1 card plus 1 for each Accumulated Knowledge in your graveyard. Rune Snag and Aether Burst do the same for countering and bouncing respectively.

Lastly I should note that I casually added 4 Mishra’s Factories for the unlikely case that all my Psychatogs get killed or exiled or Thor knows what…. But with all the countermagic (4 Counterspells, 4 Daze, 4 Rune Snag, 4 Circular Logic) I am quite confident to be able to protect my ‘Tog(s) and the Factories will be just the icing on the cake, doing some additional damage!

OK, dear reader, this was my “MtG Nostalgia” deck and strategy article for you! I hope you found it at least to some degree interesting and informative and maybe you even got the urge now to build an old-school deck as well. There are many more decks out there that are really cheap to build as compared to when they were pretty new (Thinking Mirari’s Wake or Beast Bidding here) so feel free to tinker a bit with “old but gold” cards and deck ideas yourself.

So thank you for reading and

GAME ON!

Yours,

Andi

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Treading the Path of Twilight – Black-White Decks for Modern/Casual and Legacy

Dear readers, it has been quite a while – months indeed – since I last posted ANYTHING on here. Well what can I say. I have been terribly busy with a well paid pixel art job, was on vacation in Ireland for 10 days and took a lengthy break from everything after that. But now I am back in full force and, having built about a dozen new Magic: the Gathering Decks over the past few weeks or so, and am feeling the itch to write about the same now again!

So as the titel suggests, this article will be about decks of one of my favorite color combination: Black-White.

Here’s a sample card that is arguably the best removal card in the whole game and it happens to be Black-White:

Vindicate is simply great – and simply deadly. But more on that highly versatile card later. Let me first showcase a Modern legal deck that is not intended to win me any tournaments, but which I just built for the fun of it – for casual play. Nevertheless I think it turned out quite decent. I had the idea for it when we recently drafted with M14 boosters and I got this Uncommon card here:

But before I go into any detail I will provide you with my full decklist for my Black-White Modern/Casual Deck:

BW Lifegain Beatdown (Modern/Casual Format):

Creatures…24

4 x Nip Gwyllion B/W

4 x Vault Skirge 1B

4 x Ajani’s Pridemate 1W

4 x Tithe Drinker BW

4 x Tidehollow Sculler BW

4 x Vampire Nighthawk 1BB

Instants…4

4 x Mortify 1BW

Sorceries…4

4 x Sign in Blood BB

Enchantments…8

4 x Edge of Divinity B/W

4 x Angelic Accord 3W

Lands…20

4 x Caves of Koilos

8 x Swamp

8 x Plains

About the Deck:

Well this deck has quite some power to offer, featuring cheap and efficinet creatures, most of which (16 out of 24) have Lifelink. Among them are the cheap Nip Gwyllion, which is a 1/1 Black and White Lifelinker for just 1 Mana (Black OR White), the disruptive Tidehollow Sculler which lets you exile any nonland card from an opponent’s hand upon being played and one of my all time favorites, the awesome Vampire Nighthawk:

I mean, what a package… 2/3 flying, deathtouch AND lifelink. What can you do wrong with such a Creature?

Another key-card in this deck is ultra-cheap but in this particular build ultra powerful Edge of Divinity:

This turns a Nip Gwyllion into a 4/4 Lifelinker for a total cost of 2 Mana in any combination of Black and/or White. Tidehollow Sculler would be a 5/5er, Tithe Drinker a formidable 5/4 Lifelinker and even Nighthawk, getting only the black part of Edge would become a 4/4 through this cheap and efficient Aura.

Now 4 is a magical number if you are running Angelic Accord as displayed above. Whenever you gain 4 Life you get a 4/4 Flying Angel Token. That is quite powerful if you look at the stats of our Lifelinkers as mentioned above. Every time a humble Nip Gwyllion with Edge of Divinity for instance attacks, you’ll get an Angel. Same goes for Tithe Drinker and Nighthawk.

Besides efficient removal in the form of Mortify and potent card draw in the form of Sign in Blood, Ajani’s Pridemate deserves an honorable mention. This 2/2 for 1W will easily become 3/3, 4/4 or even much stronger as he gets a +1/+1 counter each time you gain life, which is bound to happen a lot.

Well, bottom line, I think this one will be fun to play as it is, as of now, yet untested. Let’s move on to a more competitive (and at the same time a lot more expensive) deck I constructed recently:

BW Tripple Disruption (Legacy Format):

Creatures…8

4 x Hypnotic Specter 1BB

4 x Abyssal Persecutor 2BB

Instants…8

4 x Dark Ritual B

4 x Swords to Plowshares W

Sorceries…24

4 x Thoughtseize B

4 x Cabal Therapy B

4 x Innocent Blood B

4 x Hymn to Tourach BB

4 x Sinkhole BB

4 x Vindicate 1BW

Lands…20

4 x Wastelands

4 x Marsh Flats

4 x Godless Shrine

8 x Swamp

About the Deck:

Having earned quite the big buck with recent freelance jobs, I decided to invest in a playset of Vindicate, as shown above as well as four of these babies:

It has been a long held dream of mine to own Sinkholes, as destroying any land for just two Mana is simply too awesome – land destruction and resource denial being my favorite strategy in pretty much any game with a resource system. Sinkhole and Vindicate make for a smashing team, the former costing 2 and the latter 3 mana so you can start decimating the opponent Mana base early on.

I entitled this deck “Tripple Disruption” because it efficiently and inexpensively disrupts the opponent’s plans on three levels. First off the land destruction which we already discussed. Land destruction is one of my all-time-favorite strategy because it can foil pretty much any strategy or plan an opponent may have. Along with the Sinkholes and Vindicates, the latter being supreme pinpoint destruction against pretty much anything else besides lands as well, I am also running a playset of Wastelands to add even more resource denial.

Secondly, the deck packs a ton of hand destruction in the form of pinpoint hand card removal (4 copies of Thoughtseize as well as 4 copies of Cabal Therapy, which interact very nicely with each other) as well as random discard in the form of 4 Hymn to Tourach and 4 Hypnotic Specters. The latter are the only cards I am not entirely sure about – but hell, I just love to play a first turn Specter powered out through totally awesome Dark Ritual!

Thirdly and lastly, we got cheap and efficient creature destruction in the form of Innocent Blood, the classic, pinpoint Swords to Plowshares and of course the versatile Vindicate, which does not only destroy lands but ANY permanent – even nasty, evil Planeswalkers.

Thus, the deck can safely be called “Black-White Tripple Disruption” as it basically disrupts the opponent on three levels as discussed above.

Now what is probably most creative about this deck is the quite unorthodox win condition. I haven’t seen it played or on any deck list found on the internet but I am actually using a “crap mythic rare” as the finisher. Take a gander at this dark fellow:

In my eyes, this guy is simply awesome and I can’t quite understand why he goes for about a dollar a piece. I mean a 6/6 flying trampler for just 4 mana. I can’t win the game, eh? Well screw that. The answer to the riddle is Innocent Blood, which forces all players to sacrifice a Creature, being doubly useful, as well as the Flashback cost of Cabal Therapy, which, incidentally, requires you to sacrifice a Creature! So you’d basically bash your opponent with the Persecutor – and to a lesser extent with Hypnotic Specter – and once they are at or under 0 Life you’ll just sacrifice the big, bad demon guy and hey presto – you win!

So far I tested the deck in a mono-black version quite a bit and it was a blast so far. Very rewarding and fun to play for me, highly tedious and frustrating for my opponents which were, more than once, left without any hand cards and/or lands. The new version with a splash of White for Vindicate and, less important, Swords to Plowshares should even improve the deck’s versatility, power and overall fun factor for whoever wields it! I am highly amused!! 😀

Well I hope you enjoyed this new article after such a long spell of silence. I think I will be following up with more Magic: the Gathering deck articles as well as posts on other geeky/game-related topics in the nearer future!

Until then, I wish you all happy gaming!

Yours truly,

Andi