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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Sep 25 2019 12:00pm
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Fastbond

To be clear up front, I'm writing about casual applications. If you're playing serious vintage constructed, there are already articles and forum posts elsewhere about Fastbond's new brews.

What can we do in the casual room though?

The main concern is keeping our hand full. We might Turn One a Fastbond and drop three extra lands, but then what? An obvious starting place is Timetwister and other draw 7s. If you're playing in a format where Fastbond is legal, so too is Timetwister, and this $4,000 paper card costs only $1.17 online! Just saying. There are also more Timetwister variants than ever before, including Day's Undoing and Echo of Eons, so do some experimenting. Wheel of Fortune by the way—only $2.50.

Another option that leaps out at me are cards that draw when lands are played. For instance, Horn of Greed, Tatyova, Benthic Druid, and possibly even the ultimate on Nissa, Vital Force.

Horn of Greed 

If we're going for land triggers, there are a lot of ones out there besides drawing cards. Gaining life from Courser of Kruphix or Jaddi Offshoot might be negligible in a vintage environment, but what about bringing the "Miracle Grow" decks back with Vinelasher Kudzu (filling in for Quirion Dryad)? There's also a cheaper, more temporary version in Scythe Leopard. Seed the Land's CMC might be getting too high for the effect, but it could be worth considering. With enough Swamps in your deck, what about Dread Presence?

Vinelasher Kudzu  Scythe Leopard 

Next, let's look at ways besides regular card draw to keep our lands flowing. There are a lot of bounce effects we can use, from Gush to Meloku the Clouded Mirror to even obscure oldies like Storm Cauldron or Ovinomancer. Sunder might not do much against an opponent with Moxen, but what about Upheaval?

Storm Cauldron  Ovinomancer  Sunder

There might be some trick to be had with Scouting Trek, especially when combined with Oracle of Mul Daya. And last, don't forget about Crucible of Worlds with self-saccing lands like Crystal Vein or sac outlets like Zuran Orb (although now we're starting to get close to the actual tournament-level strats).

Scouting Trek  Crystal Vein  Zuran Orb

This should be more than enough to start tinkering with! Let's switch topics.

 

Brew #2 • Hecatomb

This obscure Ice Age enchantment duplicates a Planeswalker Ultimate. It's:

Hecatomb

Quite a card, right? It was new when I started playing in 1995, which combined with its lack of tournament success means few players today have even heard of it. But many of us are familiar with its ability—compare it to the last line on this cube staple.

Koth of the Hammer

So we know the effect is powerful. But setting up four creatures to sacrifice is a tall order, often even more difficult than upticking Koth's loyalty enough turns in a row. How do we do it? To help preserve its lack of tournament wins, I here present you with several casual strategies to consider.

 

Option A • Tokens

We'll start with the obvious one. Token creatures are usually easier to amass than card creatures. Staying in black, we have Carrion, Sengir Autocrat, Marrow-Gnawer, Rite of Belzenlok, and Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder

Branching to other colors gives us Promise of Bunrei, Deranged Hermit (and its two near-reprints), Goblin Rally, Secure the Wastes, Migratory Route, Martial Coup, and Devils' Playground. There are of course many more, but these are the most likely to function in typical decks.

Sengir Autocrat  Martial Coup 

Option B • Gravecrawlers

We can take a page from the Hogaak decks and use the cheap black creatures that can be cast and/or recast from our graveyard. Gravecrawler, Bloodghast, and so on. We could even go full dredge route with Narcomoebas, although this is getting a little silly. I think those decks would rather pay the flashback cost on Dread Return than hardcast Hecatomb.

Option C • Sidestep

What if instead of making four creatures to sacrifice, we stop the Hecatomb from making us sacrifice anything? There's Stifle and similar cards, or you could even activate a Sundial of the Infinite as the trigger goes on the stack.

I was trying to find an Illusionary Mask or Scroll of Fate type trick to sneak in a Hecatomb without it ever entering the battlefield, but I couldn't find any such cards that work with enchantments instead of creatures. Let me know if you have any!

Bloodghast  Sundial of the Infinite  Gamekeeper

Option D • Better Dead

Some creatures want to be sacrificed. Gamekeeper, Festering Mummy, Harvest Hand, Arena Rector, and so on.

Maybe you could even put Hecatomb in some wacky Zubera tribal deck? Of course, the trick then becomes fitting in enough Swamps.

Option E • One-shot

This shouldn't be your gameplan, as it turns Hecatomb into a less efficient Rolling Thunder, but notice that it's not worded like Mox Diamond or Lotus Vale. Hecatomb is on battlefield before you sacrifice anything, which means if you have enough swamps, you can cast it without any creatures in play, put its trigger on the stack, activate it a few times, and then sacrifice it.

Not exactly overpowered, the way Mox Diamond or Lotus Vale would be with this templating, but it's nice to have the option when things aren't going your way.

* * *

That's how to get a Hecatomb. What do we do once we have it out?

Synergy A • Death Triggers

Grave Pact: If I'm sacrificing 4 creatures, you are too! We can also turn our loss into card draw with Dark Prophecy and Grim Haruspex, damage with Goblin Sharpshooter, power with Grismold, the Dreadsower or Lumberknot, or mana with Black Market.

Dark Prophecy    Black Market

Synergy B • Sacrifice Triggers

These creatures aren't just dying, they're being sacrificed. That gives you the green light to run cards like Bloodbriar, Smothering Abomination, Mortician Beetle, and so on.

Synergy C • Renewal

After they leave, get them all back! Cards like Lifeline and Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker can enable some shenanigans with a little setup.

Synergy D • Urborg

Not the land that removes Swampwalk, I mean Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth! Hecatomb needs a lot of swamps, so the tendency is to build all or mostly black, but don't forget you can just create swamps the artificial way.

And I don't mean Cyclopean Tomb or Blanket of Night!

Synergy E • Swamps Matter

Since we are playing with (or creating) swamps, why not capitalize on that? Black has been doing this since Alpha (see Nightmare). Now we have Tendrils of Corruption, Korlash, Heir to Blackblade, Liliana of the Dark Realms, and countless others.

Tendrils of Corruption  Korlash, Heir to Blackblade  Liliana of the Dark Realms

Synergy F • Damage Matters

Hecatomb can only kill small creatures, never the Ghoultrees of the world... unless there's a Death Pits of Rath in play. You can also use (Repurcussion) to double up and Everlasting Torment to whittle down. And this last one might tax your manabase a little bit, but Tamanoa can keep you alive while pinging things.

Synergy G • No synergy

You don't need to get overly techy. If you aren't way behind, merely having a Hecatomb out can dominate a game handily. It removes all of your opponent's creatures AND goes to the dome. I can picture a deck with a few defensive elements that just plays out like an otherwise regular monoblack control deck.

Last up—

 

Brew #3: Limited Resources

Limited Resources

It's not only a podcast, it's yet another obscure old enchantment!

On the surface, it's a way to keep everyone's curves low against your weenie deck so they can't overpower your White Knights with their six drops. (As older players know, it's also a way to make an entire multiplayer table gang up on you. Provided it isn't already banned by the house rules.)

I don't like to play the surfaces of cards though. What else can we do with it?

One option is to outrace the land drops. If you cast it on turn 8, both players are stuck at five lands. If you cast it on turn 3... both players are still probably going to end up stuck on five lands. But what if before turn 5, you've cast two Rampant Growths? If you have six lands when the opponent has four, they are stuck on three.

Another fine option is destroying lands. Once the lock is active, a simple Stone Rain will allow you to play another land and get permanently ahead. Or why not do both at once by directly stealing a land? Annex remains the cheapest way at 4 mana. With a lot of setup, Orcish Squatters is a repeatable trick, although note the exchange only lasts as long as they do. Or you can grind out advantage over the long game with cards like Crucible of Worlds and Mana Vortex.

Annex  Orcish Squatters  Mana Vortex

Also note that once it's out, you're only prevented from playing lands. You're not prevented from putting them into play, as with the Rampant Growth effects already mentioned. They're good before or after the Resources drops!

So we're restricting our opponent's mana. Other than the obvious reason, why is this good?

If we pair this with cards whose drawbacks come from the opponent's mana, their drawbacks will be reduced. Nullhide Ferox, Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, Ghostly Prison, Flailing Manticore, Glittering Lion, Ghost-Lit Warder, Well of Knowledge, Jinxed Choker... I'm only scratching the surface! There's a surprising amount of these.

Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs  Ghost-Lit Warder  Well of Knowledge

Last thought. Limited Resources and/or the above strategies might be putting some lands in the graveyard. Is it worth it to use Terravore or similar cards?

Cotton's readers thought long and hard upon this.