Explorations #40 - So Long Lorwyn/Shadowmoor
Hey guys, and welcome to this week's edition of Explorations. Today we're going to be saying goodbye to Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block!
But before we do, I just want to let everyone know that I'm going to be totally unplugged for a while. My girlfriend and I are going to be spending the next two weeks hiking through the woods of Vermont, with no outside contact. I've got an article to go up next week and the week after, but after that I may miss a week before getting back on track. I'm sure this is a major blow to everyone =). Just letting you know!
Time to get down to Lorwyn/Shadowmoor.
As each new 'major' set marches towards release (and an upcoming Standard rotation), I like to spend an article saying goodbye to the block that's about to rotate away into Extended. In just a few short months, Zendikar hits the scene and Standard will say goodbye to both Lorwyn Block and Shadowmoor block.
Today's article is a chance for me to throw out a bunch of different deck ideas based on cards about to leave Standard. These are going to be mostly wacky casual decks, but maybe you'll find something that interests you. This format also gives me a chance to throw out information about decks that I never had an opportunity to work into a full article. Half farewell, half dumping ground I guess!
If you find a deck that sounds like fun, you've got two basic options:
- Hurry up and shuffle this deck up! It's about to leave Standard, but you've still got a few weeks.
- Modify the list to run in Extended.
I wrote a similar article when Time Spiral left Standard and Lorwyn became the new set on the scene. If you want to check that one out, then click on this link here. Otherwise, time to get started!
Kithkin with a Twistkin
I'll just go right out there and say it off the bat: I am pretty happy to see Lorwyn/Shadowmoor leave Standard. I've got nothing against the Shadowmoor block, but Lorwyn is definitely not my cup of tea. I really personally dislike tribal blocks, although I do understand that this is something lots of players enjoy very much.
In general I don't enjoy strong linears, and tribal is one of the strongest linears around. I hate the idea that Wizards is building my deck for me, and when it comes to the deck building process I don't get much out of deciding to play Elves and then adding all of the good elves to my list. I understand that on some level Wizards is always building my decks for me, but I just don't like when it's that explicit. I much prefer blocks with weaker linears such as Time Spiral's suspend or Shadowmoor's various hybrid themes. As I said before, I really like Shadowmoor block in general - the only thing I have against Shadowmoor is that it was a bit underpowered and overshadowed when stacked up next to Lorwyn.
|Not my favorite type of cards...
Just to be clear, the above are just my opinions. I fully realize how much skill, ability, and effort goes into templating and tweaking decks like "Elves", "Kithkin", or "Faeries". That just isn't something that I personally enjoy very much.
With all of that being said, the first deck I want to talk about here is a variation on the standard Kithkin deck. A while back I was searching for a Kithkin card that I could use to break this deck out of the mold a little bit. I did a search on gatherer for Kithkin and saw a bunch of white and a few green small-ish creatures and support spells. 1/1, 2/1, 2/2, 2/1, etc. Great.
When things looked their bleakest, I noticed a little guy way towards the bottom of the list in the normally vacant Q section caught my eye:
There's a unique-ish card for the Kithkin deck! So what do we get here?
- Weird-Gro. Instead of getting +1/+1 counters like Quirion Dryad, Quill-Slinger Boggart does damage directly to our opponent.
- A black card that is fairly easy to splash into a white list.
- He's 3/2 for four. This obviously isn't great, but it's not a totally dead card when there are no Kithkin to be found.
- Quill-Slinger Boggart is a Goblin and a Warrior, not a Kithkin.
Kithkin are white weenie creatures for 2008. One common problem with the white weenie strategy is getting through for the final few points of damage. Efficient beaters hit the table, swing for a bunch of damage, and hopefully finish off the opponent. One of the most common ways that this strategy fails is when the initial troop surge isn't enough. The opponent stabilizes and the white weenie player has very few outs to deal the final few points of damage. Zoo strategies and Boros lists switch to burn-mode at this point, using Lightning Helix or Char to finish off the opponent. Mono white doesn't really have an efficient way to finish the game without going through the red zone.
Quill-Slinger Boggart might be able to fill a similar role. Rush early with creatures, swing your opponent's life total down as far as you can, lay down a Quill-Slinger Boggart and use his ability to sneak through the final few points of damage to finish off your opponent. Doesn't that seems like it could work? Or you could switch into defensive mode - get double or triple Quill-Slinger Boggart into play and just hang back playing defense and doing damage by association.
Back before Morningtide hit the scene, I tried this deck out a bit. Here's the list I played:
The basic idea of this deck is to compliment the traditional Kithkin rush with Quill-Slinger Boggart. Spells like Nameless Inversion, Crib Swap, and Surge of Thoughtweft provide various utility while still triggering Quill-Slinger Boggart. Boggart Harbinger can not only search up the Quill-Slinger, but also tutor up something like Nameless Inversion or other changeling spells if necessary.
Note: If you scroll down to the bottom of the article I've attached Appendix I of game reports that I compiled for this deck back when I put it together. Check it out to find out what this deck can do as well as the types of decks I ran into back then.
Now this deck was built before Morningtide was even released, so there are some strong new options available today. Here are some modifications we can make to strengthen the Kithkin core of the deck while removing some of the narrower options.
Out: 4 Goldmeadow Harrier, 4 Boggart Harbinger, 2 Oblivion Ring, 2 Crib Swap
In: 4 Figure of Destiny, 2 Harm's Way, 4 Spectral Procession, 2 Cloudgoat Ranger
... or if you think Figure of Destiny is too good for this deck, then...
Out: 4 Figure of Destiny
In: 2 Militia's Pride, 2 Mirror Entity
I'll go with the non-Figure of Destiny version. Of course from here we also need to rework the manabase. Here's the final list I came up with:
This deck is more conventional Kithkin when compared to the earlier version, losing some of the inferior changeling spells like Crib Swap in exchange for just stronger Kithkin/white weenie options. I kept Nameless Inversion, but if you're interesting in using more changeling spells then feel free, they're available!
Check out this card, one of the coolest released in Shadowmoor block:
Mirrorweave achieves something that not many Magic cards do: it pleases Johnny, Timmy, and Spike. Johnny and Timmy can spend their time coming up with ways to generate elaborate hordes of creatures while Spike spends his time casting Mirrorweave as a finisher towards the top of the curve in Merfolk or Kithkin decks.
I talked about Mirrorweave a bit last week in the context of the Kithkin deck.
One strong strategy available to this deck is to play out a bunch of little dudes, and then use Mirrorweave on Wizened Cenn in order to turn your entire team into a gang of Lords. With five or six creatures each providing +1/+1 to the rest of the team, this deck is able to present a ridiculous amount of power in the red zone.
More than just little white creatures love Mirrorweave, little blue creatures love it too. Check out this deck that Jan Ruess played into the top 8 of Pro Tour Hollywood:
The idea here is fairly similar, your goal is to target either Merrow Reejerey or Lord of Atlantis with Mirrorweave. Targeting Lord of Atlantic creates a team of huge islandwalkers, targeting Merrow Reejerry creates a team of huge creates with the ability to tap down your opponent's board if you have the mana for another Merfolk spell.
So white creatures love Mirrorweave, and blue creatures love Mirrorweave - that's not really surprising since the card is split between white and blue. In addition, judges also absolutely love Mirrorweave (right one million words?). It gives them a chance to brush up on their knowledge of which effects are applied in which layer. Can you imagine anything more fun than that?
I love the idea of playing Mirrorweave, but targeting a Lord just seems way too obvious. After thinking about it for a long time, here's the Mirrorweave target I came up with:
Mike Flores' favorite card. One cool play here is to summon a bunch of defensive creatures, and then summon Overbeing of Myth. Target your Overbeing with Mirrorweave during your upkeep. This will draw you one card for each creature you control, while making all of your creatures huge. Sweet combo, should be enough for the win - and even if it isn't then you draw a ton of cards and should have a ridiculous board position.
I first had this idea a long time ago, during Time Spiral/Lorwyn Standard - here's the deck I messed around with at the time:
This list was able to run a whole bunch of unconventional 'utility' creatures such as Wall of Roots, Venser, and Mystic Snake. Not only did these creatures provide a bunch of cool effects, but they were able to Mirrorweave into Overbeing of Myth in order to create a gigantic turn.
Note: If you scroll down to the bottom of the article I've attached Appendix II of game reports that I compiled for this deck back when I put it together. Check it out to find out what this deck can do as well as the types of decks I ran into back then.
Unfortunately tons of this deck has rotated out of Standard and is no longer available, so we're going to need to take a bit of a different look. In the original deck, I used a playset of Plumeveil as a defensive option. Walls in general have been getting a major bump in power level lately, and there's nothing wrong at all with playing defense early and then weaving your walls into beaters via Overbeing of Myth later on.
Let's say we start off with a core of something like this:
4 Wall of Denial
4 Overbeing of Myth
4 Wall of Reverence
This core provides twelve powerful walls (Wall of Denial, Plumeveil, and Wall of Reverence) alongside the finishing combo of Overbeing of Myth and Mirrorweave. Let's assume we add twenty-five lands to this list, then we're left with around fifteen slots to fill out the list. I'm going to fill this out with some UW-ish control options, but there are several different ways to go to finish off the deck.
This one is pretty straight up blue-white control with the wall theme and Overbeing of Myth/Mirrorweave combo. I'm running a few copies of Elspeth due to the token generation ability, and some other control elements like Cryptic Command, Oblivion Ring, Jace Beleren, and Mulldrifter.
The only bummer here is that this deck is pretty expensive on the cash side - but there are a whole ton of cheaper options available for the budget conscious player. I'll leave this as an exercise for the reader, although leave a comment if you want me to present this type of thing in a future article.
Did you guys know that in the super early days of Magic, there was no rule that said you could only play four copies of a card? Yep, early on there was no playset rule. This lead to some very, very degenerate decks. The first one I want to go over quickly is the dreaded 'plague rats' deck. The purest version looked something like this:
20 Plague Rats
20 Dark Ritual
Can't go wrong there, huh? Throw in a bunch of Contract From Below if you want to be truly evil! You can also check out this slightly evolved version:
30 Plague Rats
5 Strip Mine
Trading some of the explosiveness for resource denial in the form of the dreaded Sinkhole and Strip Mine, this one is a lot more brutal than the original Plague Rats deck - especially given the format/environment of the time.
Here's another brutal deck from these degenerate days:
30 Lightning Bolt
10 Wheel of Fortune
One of my buddies in the early days had a deck consisting of Mountains, as many Lightning Bolts as he could trade for, and then a bunch of filler red cards. That one was so brutal.
Of course today, with advent of the playset rule... decks like these are no longer really possible. There's an exception though:
Relentless Rats is basically a strict upgrade to Plague Rats, trading a slightly tougher casting cost for increased power level and the ability to run as many as you'd like in your deck. What's the simplest version of a Relentless Rats deck? Something like this?
You can weaken the Relentless Rats synergy a LITTLE bit in the deck and add some new options like this:
Out: 4 Swamp, 8 Relentless Rats
In: 4 Swarmyard, 4 Marrow-Gnawer, 4 Terror
... or maybe this?
Out: 4 Relentless Rats, 4 Terror
In: 4 Thrumming Stone, 4 Shriekmaw
Adding Thrumming Stone to this deck adds some really exciting potential here. It's not impossible to get every Relentless Rats in your deck into play off of a single cast! Thrumming Stone's ripple ability actually allows you to cast the spell, so each Relentless Rats that you put into play will trigger its own ripple.
Of course these decks require dipping into the Extended card pool for anything other than the first deck presented. What does this have to do with saying goodbye to Lorwyn/Shadowmoor? Well, I wanted to present it as a contrast to a few different decks based on this guy:
Unlike Relentless Rats, Countryside Crusher has been played at the top level of competitive Magic recently. One of my favorite decks that used this guy is the RG Beats deck that Zvi Mowshowitz, Steve Sadin, and others played at PT Hollywood.
While this deck may be awesome, I want to look at a much more pure Countryside Crusher deck:
When it comes to modern deck design, this is pretty much as simple and pure as it gets. It’s like playing Manaless Ichorid in Vintage, except instead of mulliganing into Bazaar of Baghdad you're trying to mulligan into Countryside Crusher.
Serum Powder doesn’t exist in standard, but even so you have a pretty decent chance of mulliganing into Countryside Crusher. Even if you mulligan down to two or three you're pretty much always guaranteed to be able to cast the Crusher on turn three. Based on the huge land content of the deck, your Crusher will be pretty huge and swinging in on turn four. 100% of the time you’ll get to cast a second Crusher on turn four, a third on turn five, and a fourth on turn six.
This seems pretty explosive, but there’s always the danger of decking yourself if you’re not careful. Not only that, but something like Path to Exile really has the potential to ruin your day.
Here's another look:
Out: 8 Mountain
In: 4 Mutavault, 4 Gargoyle Castle
This one gives us a bit more reach and utility through the use of manlands (conventional Mutavault and new-school Gargoyle Castle) while not weakening the Countryside Crusher power at all.
If we want, we can add in some of the strong direct damage currently available to give our deck some additional reach.
Out: 8 Mountain
In: 4 Lightning Bolt, 4 Shard Volley
At this point we've weakened the power of Countryside Crusher a bit in exchange for some additional reach in the form of powerful direct damage. It'll require a bunch of testing to see if this is a good exchange, although it seems like it must be given the presence of Path to Exile in Standard. It may also make sense to run something like Volcanic Fallout or even Flame Javelin for even more direct damage.
It's a real bummer that Seismic Assault just rotated out with Xth Edition, having that type of outlet for additional lands of hands can really strengthen up this deck. If you're interested in trying this one out in Extended, then Seismic Assault seems like a fine place to start. Ghitu Encampment is another solid option. I'm sure there are more!
Countryside Crush seems pretty crazy powerful, but obviously very fragile. If you're into this type of high-risk, high-reward deck then shuffle it up. Just be prepared to deal with the fragility. At the very least this one is cheap to build: around $6 for the playset of Countryside Crusher and then just a bunch of Mountains.
Alright guys that's about all I have for this week. Hopefully this gave you some new ideas for decks to try out before Lorwyn and Shadowmoor rotate out of Standard. Make sure to continue to scroll down to check out some old school match reports using older versions of the decks mentioned above.
Thanks for reading!
th1ckasabr1ck on MTGO
Appendix I: Really Old Game Reports - Kithkin
Game 1 vs RW
I start off with Knight of Meadowgrain into Boggart Harbinger and Quill-Slinger Boggart. My opponent starts off with Ashling the Pilgrim and Stinkdrinker Daredevil. I use Nameless Inversion to clear out the blockers and do some additional damage with the Quill-Slinger. Unfortunately things take a turn for the worse as my opponent plays Austere Command and wipes out my board.
Thankfully I held back Goldmeadow Stalwart and a Quill-Slinger. I get through and bring my opponent down to six, but things start slipping away when my opponent Neck Snaps my Goldmeadow Stalwart. Fortunately I draw Surge of Thoughtweft two turns in a row and finish off my opponent with one Quill-Slinger Boggart into the red zone with double Surge of Thoughtweft.
Game 2 vs RW (rematch)
I play Goldmeadow Stalwart and Knight of Meadowgrain, my opponent casts Pyroclasm. I Boggart Harbinger into Quill-Slinger Boggart and my opponent plays Wrath of God. He follows that little play up with Ajani Goldmane. I have absolutely no chance of winning this, eventually Purity finishes me off.
|Game 3 vs Mono Blue Bounce/Dreamborn Muse
I start off with Knight of Meadowgrain, my opponent hits it with Wipe Away. I recast the Knight and it gets hit with Wipe Away. I cast double Knight of Meadowgrain, one gets hit with Whirlpool Whelm and the other gets hit with Wipe Away. WTF is with this game?
I finally get up to the point where I cast triple Knight of Meadowgrain and start swinging. My opponent bounces a Knight with Aethersnipe, but I'm able to use Nameless Inversion to first strike his 4/4 away. I get Boggart Harbinger into Quill-Slinger Boggart, my opponent casts double Aethersnipe and bounces the Quill-Slinger and a Knight of Meadowgrain.
My opponent casts double Dreamborn Muse and is trying to bounce/mill my library away. His bounce is starting to hurt him since I'm recasting my Kithkin for a damage a piece, but the double Aethersnipe has totally clogged up with ground. I cast Wizened Cenn and then Boggart Harbinger into Crib Swap to take out one of the Aethersnipes and alpha strike for the win.
Game 4 vs WRG Control
I start off with Kithkin Stalwart, but can't draw a second Plains to save my life - Knight of Meadowgrain and Wizened Cenn are just rotting away in my hand. My opponent plays Search for Tomorrow and Coalition Relic. I play Boggart Harbinger into Quill-Slinger Boggart, but my opponent has double Thornscape Battlemage to clear out most of my board.
I get another Boggart Harbinger and finally draw a second Plains to cast the Kithkin dudes in my hand. I start to think I have a shot at winning this one when Bogardan Hellkite hits the board and wipes out everything.
Game 5 vs BR Goblins
I keep a one land hand with double Goldmeadow Stalwart and Goldmeadow Harrier. My opponent plays Mudbutton Torchrunner, which is sort of a pain in the ass and I'm forced to attack into it. Boggart Birth Rite comes back and I have to deal with that pain in the ass Torchrunner again.
I get double Quill-Slinger Boggart and Crib Swap away his final Torchrunner. He plays Bog Hoodlums, which I keep tapped down for a few turns with Goldmeadow Harrier. I eventually alpha strike with double Surge of Thoughtweft for the win. Quill-Slinger did a bunch of damage this game.
| Game 6 vs B Something
I start off with Goldmeadow Stalwart which gets hit with Nameless Inversion. On turn two I play double Goldmeadow Stalwart followed up by Knight of Meadowgrain. My opponent tries to Dash Hopes, but I gladly pay the life. I swing and my opponent casts Diabolic Tutor. I'm worried about Damnation, but he spends the next turn casting Skirk Ridge Exhumer and suspending (Phthsis) for some reason. I get through for the win.
Game 7 vs Elementals
My opponent plays Wanderer's Twig into Smokebraider. I start off by mulliganing to six. I summon Goldmeadow Stalwart and cast Nameless Inversion to take out his Smokebraider. Even though I just swapped in another Plains, I'm sitting around with Knight of Meadowgrain and double Wizened Cenn without a second white mana source.
I finally get my Knight of Meadowgrain and Wizened Cenn into play, but swing into a surprise Briarhorn that set me back quite a bit. I have to Oblivion Ring away the Briarhorn, but my opponent casts double Mulldrifter over the next two turns. Changeling Berserker hits the table. I try to take him out with my new Quill-Slinger Boggart, but my opponent has Dawnfluke. I go down to the Berserker.
Appendix II: Really Old Game Reports - Mirrorweave
Here's a bunch of old game reports that I had lying around from the Time Spiral-Lorwyn Standard format that can give you some idea of how the original version "Mirror Mirror" played out.
Game 1 vs BR Land Destruction
My opponent tries to Rain of Tears an Island, but I’ve got Rune Snag. I Rune Snag a second Rain of Tears the next turn and then Cryptic Command his Avalanche Riders on turn five. My opponent concedes.
Game 2 vs UWG
Not much happens in the early going. I Rune Snag a Kitchen Finks on turn three and then play out a Tarmogoyf and start to get some damage through. I cast Overbeing of Myth, protect against Murkfiend Liege with Mystic Snake, and then Mirrorweave my three guys into Overbeings for the win.
Game 3 vs UW Silkbind Faerie, Prison Term
I use Rune Snag on Hoofprints of the Stag early and then come back with Wall of Roots. Silkbind Faerie hits the table and I don’t have a way to counterspell it. I use Mystic Snake to take care of Augury Adept and then lay down a second Wall of Roots while taking some damage from the Silkbind Faerie.
I eventually assemble the Overbeing of Myth/Mirrorweave combo, but play it like a total donkey and lose both of my Wall of Roots because of their stupid -0/-1 counters. Make sure to NOT do this. As a result I only ended up drawing two cards from my sweet combo. Prison Term and the Silkbind Faerie slow me down, but I eventually get rid of his Faerie with Plumeveil and swing through with my Overbeing of Myth for the win.
Game 4 vs BU Reanimator?
I start off by playing out a Tarmogoyf, my opponent plays out a Merfolk Looter and starts filtering through cards. Nameless Inversion takes out ‘Goyf, but I play out a second one - 4/5 thanks to all of the card filtering my opponent has been doing.
My opponent tries to play Bonded Fetch on two consecutive turns, but I play Mystic Snake and then Rune Snag to stop that second discard outlet from coming into play. I swing with ‘Goyf backed up with Cryptic Command a couple of times for the win.
Game 5 vs GR Big Mana
My opponent spends the first five turns casting Search for Tomorrow, Fertile Ground, Devoted Druid, etc. I spend the first few turns playing out double Wall of Roots and loading up my hand full of Cryptic Commands. I counterspell a Bogardan Hellkite and then Siege-Gang Commander, casting Overbeing of Myth and Mirrorweaving everyone in for the win.
Game 6 vs Mono White
After one mulligan each, my opponent plays out Knight of Meadowgrain and I counter with Wall of Roots. I play out a second Wall of Roots and we stalemate for a while, with my opponent gaining a whole bunch of life.
A second Knight of Meadowgrain hits the table, and I Rune Snag an attempt to Unmake one of my walls. I Cryptic Command away an Oblivion Ring and start playing out (Urza’s Factory) tokens. Plumeveil takes out one Knight of Meadowgrain and stalls down the board. Kitchen Finks comes into play for my opponent, and I’m out of counterspells.
I draw Overbeing of Myth and protect with Cryptic Command. All of my Urza’s Factory tokens become 8/8 creatures and I tap down my opponent’s creatures and swing in for forty-eight. Thanks to the Knights of Meadowgrain and Wall of Roots staredown early in the game I had to do forty damage this game.