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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Mar 15 2018 1:00pm
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Hello friends. Today's casual decks are evolutions of old cards and ideas.

 

Deck 1 Constant Mists

Constant Mists

    Howling Mine     Gaea's Blessing

An early nostalgic favorite for me (and not many others) is 1998's "Premature Green" deck—so-called because I'm not really sure why but its central combo was the above plus Howling Mine to lock most creature decks out of the game until it won by milling, aided by Gaea's Blessing and Jester's Cap. Its main weakness was counterspells, which were cheap and plentiful back then. (Its second was discard, which was less plentiful. This was a time before Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek.)

I brought it to a '98 PTQ in New Jersey, and did poorly, notably losing to (the) Elaine Chase, but still enjoyed it enough to revisit and tinker with it every few years, one time in 2009 even printing the results on this very website. Only recently, I stumbled upon a large revelation: what if I updated it to include colors besides green?

Yes, although Premature Green has always been mono-green, it didn't actually need to be. Consider what it gains from other colors:

Blue

  • The Howling Mine-plus-wincon that is Jace Beleren.
  • Counterspells—the old deck really just had to hope for a cooperative opponent.
  • Improved card draw / sifting (the original deck used Sylvan Library which is not great when Howling Mines are out).

Black

Sunspring Expedition     Wall of Shards    

White

Red

 

And so I was about to settle into a four-color deck, until I realized Sadistic Sacrament's BBB wasn't exactly splashable, especially in a deck that so often sacrifices its own lands. I would rather run regular old Jester's Cap here, and in fact, since we now have blue for counterspells, I don't even need to do that!

And so, here is my list. It plays fairly similarly to the 1998 original despite having only nine nonland cards in common with it.

 

 

A few notes:

  • It's a casual deck, so go with whatever lands your budget allows. At least one or two of them should probably be Flagstones of Trokair.
  • Tangle is more important than it seems. Even after you've got the Constant Mists lock going, sometimes you want to take a break from sacking lands for a turn or two.
  • If it seems like fogs make us invulnerable to creatures, remember that they only stop attacking creatures. To that end, I've added Damping Matrix and Swords to Plowshares. (I recently played against recurring Eternal Witnesses, for example, and it was nice to be able to exile them.)
  • Forbidden Orchard dropped all the way from $20ish to $0.75, and its drawback is nearly meaningless here, so you might as well run some. Speaking of which, our next deck runs four (and it's not an Oath of Druids deck)!

 

Deck 2 Varchild's War-Riders

Varchild's War-Riders

When I first started on this site eight and a half years ago (I'm old), I put in my profile that Varchild's War-Riders was my favorite card. I haven't needed to update it since.

I've already made six decks around it, and with surprisingly little overlap. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (The last of those is from my first ever article on this site!) Today's take, the seventh, was largely inspired by newcomer (Hungry Lynx), who allows for some redundancy, especially when combined with the above-mentioned, newly-cheapened Forbidden Orchard. I even considered adding Goblin Spymaster, but he's a little too slow.

Other ways to give our opponent creatures include Mogg Infestation (a huge upgrade to March of Souls) and Mercy Killing (an even bigger upgrade to Crib Swap or Afterlife). Ravnica's "Hunted" creatures are also good, most notably Hunted Phantasm, although I went for Hunted Troll here for mana reasons.

(pic=Hungry Lynx)  Mogg Infestation  Hunted Troll

I haven't yet said why we want to give our opponent all these creatures. It's because of Dingus Staff. If we can only find a way to kill all of these tokens, we will be causing our opponents massive amounts of damage. And since they are all X/1 tokens, it should be easy to kill them indeed.

Noxious Field is a cheaper Pestilence variant that, although unable to kill those big creatures, still deals all the damage we need it to, and doesn't ever sacrifice itself. Night of Souls' Betrayal and Curse of Death's Hold also do the deed while accomplishing a little extra.

We can also double up on Dingus Staff effects with Falkenrath Noble and Sangromancer. Blood Artist would be great if he weren't himself so fragile. (If you reread the previous paragraph, you'll see that he would be single-use only in this deck.) Here is my list!

Varchild VII
 
Creatures
4 Varchild's War-Riders
4 (Hungry Lynx)
3 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Falkenrath Noble
1 Sangromancer
1 Hunted Troll
14 cards

Other Spells
4 Tormenting Voice
2 Hull Breach
4 Noxious Field
4 Mercy Killing
1 Night of Souls' Betrayal
4 Dingus Staff
1 Curse of Death's Hold
3 Mogg Infestation
23 cards
Lands
4 Forbidden Orchard
19 whatever
23 cards
 
Dingus Staff

 

An unexpected bonus to Varchild's War-Riders: very few opponents know what Rampage does. Most will try to block him with four tokens the first time.

 

Deck 3 Mirror Universe

Mirror Universe

Back in 1994's set Legends, there was Mirror Universe. WotC apparently considered it way too powerful because they avoided the effect for twelve years, coming no closer than the markedly inferior Psychic Transfer in 1999. (Full honesty: I think the perennially maligned Chimney Imp is a stronger five-drop than Psychic Transfer.)

In 2006, they tried the similar but way more fragile and therefore worse Magus of the Mirror. And although you might look at Magus' record and consider him unplayably weak, he was downgraded even further in 2011 with the needlessly-repeatable and twice-as-expensive Soul Conduit.

It wasn't until just last year that WotC finally realized Mirror Universe wasn't all that powerful to begin with, especially since the game rules no longer allow you to switch totals at 0, so for the first time in Magic's history, they printed a card that's slightly better (if less splashable) than Mirror Universe, Axis of Mortality.

Psychic Transfer  Magus of the Mirror  Soul Conduit  (pic=Axis of Mortality)

Let's see what we can do with these. First thing to decide, why do we want to switch life totals? There are three main paths:

  1. Take chunks out of your life total throughout the game with cards like Necropotence and swap at the optimal moment.
  2. Use Platinum Angel-types to preserve yourself while at 0, then switch totals to win the game immediately. I've already explored this in a Morifen vanguard deck, so I shan't repeat it.
  3. What I'll be doing today, bring yourself to 1, swap totals, then ping the opponent for one.

We'll solve the easier puzzle first: what permanents repeatedly ping? A lot, but here are some highlights. (I'm focusing on ones that are less fragile, so no Prodigal Pyromancer for example.)

Roiling Horror  Blind Obedience  Retreat to Hagra

Copper Tablet  Curse of the Pierced Heart  Honden of Infinite Rage

And now for the harder puzzle: how do we bring ourself to 1 at will? It's actually not as rare as you might guess:

Fire Covenant  Volcano Hellion  Vizkopa Confessor  Plunge into Darkness

Toxic Deluge  Cavern Harpy  (pic=Mischievous Poultergeist)  Wall of Blood

Do be careful with the sorcery-speed ones of course, as we can't swap totals until our own upkeep.

    Death Pits of Rath     Volcanic Spray

So how can we build a deck around this? Let's start by choosing the cards with dual purposes. F'rinstance, Fire Covenant not only self-drains when a Mirror's out but can be a wrath before then. (The same is true for Toxic Deluge but that's out of many casual players' budgets.) Honden of Infinite Rage not only deals the coup de grâce but also controls creatures along the way—so much the better if paired with Death Pits of Rath.

Death Pits of Rath puts us into Volcanic Spray, which is now a double wrath. AND it can deal the post-Mirror damage!

We need to stall while setting up our 5- and 6-drops, and since we're already in Hondens, we might as well keep going. Not overboard with 4x of each and Mirror Gallery, but enough to get some synergies going. Honden of Cleansing Fire and Honden of Life's Web are the best at stalling, so we'll start there, then add 1x of Honden of Night's Reach to power up the others. We won't run the blue one at all, since as experience has taught me it's a little too much in most decks.

Hondens are not a card you want multiples of, nor is Mirror Universe, so Tormenting Voice is the sifting spell of choice. Plunge Into Darkness helps sift too, but is more for its cheap, instant-speed self-drain. (There will be games where you want to use mode B and sacrifice a bunch of spirit tokens to stay alive.) That's most of the deck, and the rest is self-explanatory!

 

Life Swapping Hondens of Rath
 
Creatures
0 cards

Other Spells
4 Volcanic Spray
4 Tormenting Voice
2 Plunge into Darkness
2 Lay Bare the Heart
2 Honden of Infinite Rage
4 Fire Covenant
2 Rakdos Signet
3 Coalition Relic
2 Honden of Cleansing Fire
1 Honden of Night's Reach
3 Death Pits of Rath
2 Honden of Life's Web
2 (Axis of Morality)
4 Mirror Universe
33 cards
Lands
23 duals etc.
23 cards
 
Plunge into Darkness

 

We mounted up, the first and I the second, 'till I beheld through a round aperture some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear; thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.

2 Comments

I think the War-riders deck by Rerepete at Thu, 03/15/2018 - 17:15
Rerepete's picture

I think the War-riders deck should have 4x Electrickery

Did your Constant Mists deck by AJ_Impy at Thu, 03/15/2018 - 19:02
AJ_Impy's picture

Did your Constant Mists deck include Drownyard Temple? Buyback 4G Fog, in effect.