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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 11 2011 2:46am
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 Welcome back to the Accidental Player! Since these articles are supposed to have some narrative continuity (I just made this up), and since last time we talked about that wonderful engine that's called Birthing Pod, we'll now follow up from there and expand the concept a little.

 So, fetching. It's how I call the effects that let you search your library for a card but end up not just putting it in hour hard (as in tutoring) or, worse, on the top of your library (as in lame tutoring), but directly onto the freaking battlefield. Of course, the most common use of the term is associated with these cards:

 

Arid Mesa Verdant Catacombs

 However, this is a pretty straightforward and boring application of the concept (while still being the basic foundation of every non-monocolored deck in every Eternal format since 2002). What we want to convey here is something a little more poignant and flashy. Let's watch this inspirational video, then, and get ready to fetch!

(Side note: Nina Paley is mostly known for the epic, postmodern feature film Sita Sings the Blues, and for her strenuous activity in defense of file sharing. You should sing that tune every time you click on any eD2K link).

 Last time we saw how green is one of the best colors for fetching things, especially when it's about creatures, like with Natural Order, or lands, like with Crop Rotation. What it's not incredibly interesting about spells like the two I just mentioned is that the problem, "What I should fetch with it?" is, in these particular cases, a solved one:

 

 Also, they're one-shot effects, not engines. So, what we're looking for are ways to search our deck for something to be directly put onto the battlefield that might be attractive to both Timmies and Johnnies. For such an effect to appeal the Timmies, it need to be surprising, not dull. And to appeal the Johnnies, it need to be repeatable, not one-shot. Birthing Pod satisfies both these requisites, while also creating kind of a "Spike-sanctioned" deck. But are there other cards that can allow for a similar, yet different result? Well, yeah, for one, there's Birthing Pod's quirky uncle:

 

Modern

 Hibernation's End is, alas, not a Standard card anymore (since, well, years, being from that very strange set that was Coldsnap). So, we'll start with finding a deck application of it within the Modern format.

 The first notable thing about Hibernation's End is that it doesn't really give us mana advantage. When we cast Natural Order into Progenitus, we're actually casting a 10cc creature for 4. With Birthing Pod, it depends on the "station", but in the mid-to-late game, we might well be able to do even more, and summon, say, a 7cc creature for just 1 (plus 2 life). With Hibernation's End, instead, if we want to search and play a 7cc creature, we will have to pay its full converted mana cost, as usual. Or not so usual, since the thing here is that we don't have to worry about two important details: the color of mana in the creature's casting cost, and the fact of having the creature in hand. Combine this with the "progressive" aspect of our enchantment, which begins by allowing us to fetch low casting cost creatures, then enlarge its scope a little bit each turn in a steady manner (this is the very aspect that, years later, would have inspired the design of its younger relative, the Birthing Pod itself). The result can be a pentacolored toolbox deck, which is both really unpredictable and filled with all sorts of silver bullets:

 

 Here I expressely chosed creatures that, for the most part, don't have "enters the battlefield" effects, in order to differentiate it from a Birthing Pod deck. Of course the tricky part is hitting 5 mana fast enough to get the Hibernation carousel started, and here is where the mana creatures come to help. Birds of Paradise makes for an obvious and safe choice here, since you better have some backup ways to be able to hardcast those random-colored creatures when you just draw into them (the mana base also reflects this issue). In addition, I'm using here what I call a "soft Sliver base", that is a full set of both Gemhide Sliver and Harmonic Sliver, giving us a powerful network of mana acceleration and artifact/enchantment hate. The main sub-combo is the interaction between Merieke Ri Berit and Scryb Ranger (with a high-level version coming in the form of Ghost Council of Orzhova and Dominus of Fealty), allowing for a fast removal engine which looks very Johnny-like. But every choice here is actually hugely customizable. The sideboard is filled with 1-ofs for every conceivable necessity, and you'll also notice that the top converted mana cost is just 5: the Hibernation engine is kinda slow, so it's better to focus on fast to mid-range creatures, and stop paying the Hibernation's cumulative upkeep after a while, ideally by starting a new iteration and using Eternal Witness to recur the previous one. The Timmy satisfaction here isn't about bringing big threats on the table, but creating a phantasmagoria of creatures, a circus of freaks where different performers such as Stoic Angel and Lightning Reaver can be seen fighting alongside each other. This is more than casual, this is accidental! (But it still works, I won more than one Modern post-bannings game with this deck).

 

Legacy Tribal Wars

 The Modern Hibernation deck was unsurprisingly creature-based, so going Tribal from there seems just natural. I already mentioned the Slivers, and everyone's favorite hive-minded monstrosities really take advantage from both steadily growing in number and having the most useful of their shared abilities available at any given time.

 

 This is clearly something you can do well with Allies too, but it's fun to try and go Hibernation with every tribe which allows for interesting variety, this way putting in the deck as many different members as possible without relying too much on the sheer luck of drawing the right one at the right moment.

 What Hibernation's End does is in fact truly unique, since even a vastly more powerful "selective" card such as Survival of the Fitness comes with the downside of giving up card advantage (something you are forced to correct - and exploit - through a specific strategy like graveyard recursion), while Hibernation is de facto giving us a free card draw per turn, which doubles as a free Eladamri's Call, which doubles as a Mycosynth Lattice, Prismatic Omen or Joiner Adept type of color-blindness effect, which doubles as a Æther Vial type of counterspell-defying effect. A pretty interesting package, if you look closely.

 

Standard

 And too bad all this goodness is out of reach in the current Standard environment. Hence the question: other than the Birthing Pod itself, is there another option in contemporary Standard as far as fetching engines are concerned?

 Well, sadly a search for the more usual fetch wording ("search your library" and "onto the battlefield") reveals very few cards indeed. Short of the uber-boring fetching of basic lands (Caravan Vigil, Rampant Growth, Viridian Emissary, Solemn Simulacrum), and the occasional, weird fetching of spider webs (which is probably something even a pure Timmy would give up eventually), we are left with just 6 cards:

 Bitterheart Witch: the new, black Academy Rector variant focused on Curses is potentially a very interesting card, if a bit slow. The problem is that there are not enough interesting Curses to build around yet. We can hope the rest of the Innistrad block will bring other, more substantial ones to the table. On this prospect, it seems wise to get a playset of this fetching gal right now, just to be safe.

Green Sun's ZenithPrimeval Titan Green Sun's Zenith and Primeval Titan: serious Spike material here. The green Zenith is just great pretty much wherever green creatures are involved, but it's hard to call it an "engine" just because it will eventually come back in your hand. Besides. the glorious first citizen of Titan Town (which is, in turn, a frequent target for late game Zeniths) is a card that will never lack some opportunities to fetch key lands within any given environment you'd put it in. In the current, recently-established Standard meta, this couple of powerhouse cards has indeed already found itself a new home after they had to say goodbye to a certain mountain: they are now the backbone for the very successful Kessig Wolf Run deck. I'm not going to give you a decklist here, since you may pretty much find one on every MTG website in existence these days. And it's nothing a Johnny/Timmy would find really interesting anyway, even if it's fun to play (I'm indulging my Spike side with it myself). (Also, my inner Timmy always likes to watch a Primeval working its magic; after all, the Titans are among the most recognizable cards of the current era because they are capable to appeal to each psychographic profile).

Doubling Chant Doubling Chant: did somebody ever try to break this one? The "doubling" part of its name is making my Johnny-sense tickle, and surely a Timmy can dream about a ginormous number of creatures being doubled, making for a very splashy alpha strike. In reality, this is just a win-more card, though. Like, you do a huge Genesis Wave followed next turn by a Doubling Chant, thus putting half your deck onto the battlefield. It's fun, but is it really necessary? (Or even, you know, actually feasible more than one time over one hundred games?) Truth is that this could have been a good card, even entering Spike territory, if its casting cost had not been so impossibly high. It's still worth the inclusion within a casual deck with lots of creatures, but it hardly looks like a serious strategy or a build-around-me card.

Myr Turbine Myr Turbine: this is certainly strong in Myr decks (which exist in many different forms, especially in the Tribal format; it may be interesting to explore them in a future installment), but otherwise too linear to be worth considering in other type of decks, even Grand Architect builds.

Kuldotha Forgemaster Kuldotha Forgemaster: now we are onto something here. Although overpriced, this is still kind of a Tinker effect (i.e. one of the most powerful/broken effects in the whole history of the game). Granted, the Forgemaster works better in formats that allow for more options than just Standard, since in Standard we can't do a scene-stealer turn-1 like:

 

into:

+Grim Monolith+Voltaic Key+Lightning Greaves

into:

into:

Blightsteel Colossus

 But we still have the final destination of this chain, after all. And without relying on Shape Anew (which, it's worth reminding, is not a fetch effect per se, even if you can arrange your deck in a way that make it work like it was), you can try and build a Forgemaster/Colossus deck that could end up looking something like this:

 

 We have proliferation and proliferation targets, we have deck access, and we have mana acceleration. The only real problem is that with the departure of See Beyond, we lost any way to reshuffle the Colossus into the deck if we happen to draw into it. In that case, it would be up to the Architects to try and hardcast it. Also, proliferation lost both Jace Beleren and Everflowing Chalice, and that's very sad. This deck seems to like better the Modern environment, even as a casual one.

 Well, that's all for today. Good brewing, good fetching (you can also check this article for some Tooth and Nail tribal concoction) and stay tuned for scenes from the next episode.

   It That Betrays

What all these cards have in common? Come back to find it in the new exciting episode! (Well, ok, it's not so hard to figure out, isn't it?)

7 Comments

I was waiting for this! by PiDave at Fri, 11/11/2011 - 03:09
PiDave's picture
5

I was waiting for this! Beautifully written and very inspirational. Keep it up! :)

Thanks, PiDave! Hey, why by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 11/11/2011 - 07:45
Kumagoro42's picture

Thanks, PiDave! Hey, why don't you come to Tribal Apocalypse sometimes? :)

I'd be glad to, but my by PiDave at Fri, 11/11/2011 - 08:57
PiDave's picture

I'd be glad to, but my schedule is rarely open at the time the events fire. :( Anyway I'll be sure to check them out if I ever happen to be at home at the right time. :)

( Gosh I loved that Wurm deck that Paul showcased some time ago...it's a pity they're not legal. :D )

They are legal for most by Paul Leicht at Fri, 11/11/2011 - 09:13
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They are legal for most events just not during endangered week.

Ummm.... (A Shameless Plug) by BlippyTheSlug at Fri, 11/11/2011 - 15:04
BlippyTheSlug's picture

We have some special events coming up in December (beside the 12/3 Endangered Species) where the Wurm deck wouldn't work:

12/17 - 50th Anniversary: Elves vs Goblins

Each player will need 2 decks: an Elf deck and a Goblin deck. First player listed in pairings plays Elves, 2nd player plays Goblins.

Other bonuses may be presented.

No Most Endangered prize.

12/24 - Christmas Special

Each deck must contain W, R, and G cards only. Muticolor & hybrid cards count towards each color on the card. For example, Wild Cantor or Sprouting Thrinax would towards both R and G. For the purposes of this event, Transguild Courier is colorless.

Presents for all! And surprise bonus plays!

Bonus for highest placing Snow deck. (A Snow deck is considered all Snow permanents)

No Most Endangered prize.

that Modern deck is aching by bread expert at Wed, 11/16/2011 - 08:31
bread expert's picture

that Modern deck is aching for some Fauna Shamans!

Yeah, but that would be so by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:37
Kumagoro42's picture

Yeah, but that would be so last week. :)