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By: brandonQDSH, Brandon Tsark
Dec 07 2010 2:03am
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I: Introduction

So I left off last week even in the 2-person and 8-person Constructed queues with Kuldotha Red. The deck definitely has its ups and downs, as the shuffler can either reward you with the nuts, or deal you some auto-losses. Of course, since everyone's decks are so powerful, the shuffler can deal them auto-losses too. Knowing your match-ups and practicing your Mulligans accordingly definitely payoff big time. Almost everyone is capable of killing you in the first 3-4 Turns (WW, Goblins, Boros) or gaining rock-solid control of the game in the first 3-4 turns (U/X Control builds, Ramp decks), so there is no time to waste in executing your game plan. Knowing the difference between a good hand, a great hand, and a mediocre one against whatever match-up you're facing makes a world of difference in terms of winning and losing.

II: Changes to the Decklist

While the original decklist is tuned, it does have some weaknesses that can be minimized with some changes. Also, there are further changes I'd like to make to suit the deck to my specific style of play, which is aggressive, trying to deal 20 points of damage (24-30 in some cases) ASAP.


OUT: 3 Equipment

Basilisk Collar                   Darksteel Axe                      Infiltration Lens

The equipment is good, as it helps power up Metalcraft, gives you additional fodder for Kuldotha Rebirth, and provides some staying power to push a few additional points of damage in the late game. However, I don't feel that they are aggressive enough. Basilisk Collar is good when you draw Spikeshot Elder and both manage to stay alive, but other than that, it's fairly average in this deck. Darksteel Axe provides that Rancor-Unholy Strength-like power boost that aggro decks crave, but the 2-mana equip cost really slows you down. Infiltration Lens is great when they block. But the only creature that gets blocked when it really counts is Goblin Chieftain, and even then, he often dies to removal anyway. I suppose WOTC could have given Lens a death-trigger, but then it would probably be too close to Skullclamp for comfort. Maybe there is no way to fix clamp without effectively neutering it. I considered more aggressive options such as Adventuring Gear, ala Boros Landfall, but even, then, it still wasn't fast enough. Ultimately, I want to maximize the opportunity for Turn 1 Kuldotha Rebirth, and that means more 0-cc Artifacts.

IN: 3 Chimeric Mass

Chimeric Mass

The more I play with this card, the more I love it. It does so many things that you want. First, it adds another 0-cc Artifact to the deck, bringing the total up to 10. Second, it provides you with something to do when your first wave of attackers die, or you late-game flood and don't draw Molten-Tail Masticore. And finally, it gives you some protection in Games 2 and 3 against Kor Firewalker without having to waste too many slots in your board. You can make it a 2/2 to trade if they have a fast start, or you can play control by making it a 3/3 or 4/4, giving you the option to ambush them on defense, or attack them. Often times White Weenie and U/W Control will be tempted to keep a mediocre hand with 1-2 Kor Firewalker, and this card helps punish them for it.

OUT: 3 Galvanic Blast and 2 Non-Basics

Galvanic Blast                            Teetering Peaks                           Smoldering Spires

Drawing and keeping 3 Artifacts on the battlefield is not an easy task with only 13 total, and a card that wants to sac them for Goblin tokens. So replacing Galvanic Blast with another burn spell is a fairly easy decision for me. The deck has a very low CMC average, and thus tends to flood a good amount of the time, even with 8 Fetchlands. In my mind, I compare this manabase to the Deadguy Sligh manabase, which had a very similar CMC average, and ran 17 Mountain and 4 Wasteland. However, that deck has Cursed Scroll and Hammer of Bogardan to sink its extra mana into, while this deck tends to just flood.

IN: 2 Burst Lightning, 2 Koth of the Hammer, and 1 Mountain

Burst Lightning                       Koth of the Hammer                           Mountain

First the easy one: Burst Lightning was not a difficult choice, as I found that by the time I was achieving Metalcraft in the late game, I would find myself with 5 lands also. I briefly toyed with the idea of bring Arc Trail in the main to save sideboard slots, but the card is so terrible in control match-ups that I'm happy with leaving it in the board. Same goes for Searing Blaze. Next, I decided to cut the two non-basics for a single Mountain. I'm not sure if its the right move, as almost every other decklist I see retains at least a couple of non-basics, but I find them to be dead draws during Turns 1-4, which are the turns that matter the most for this deck. I'm willing to lose 2 damage in situations where I only have a 1-cc spell, such as a Goblin Guide or Panic Spellbomb to play on Turn 2 and could have played a Teetering Peaks in order to be able to play my threats on a timely fashion. Having to play Goblin Bushwhacker on Turn 3 rather than Turn 2, and Goblin Chieftains on Turn 4 rather than Turn 3 because you topdecked a non-basic really hurts.

Finally Koth of the Hammer: while it is tough to part with the 36-46 tickets it costs for 2 Planeswalkers, he does add some late game power that is difficult to match. While one of the deck's strengths is the ability to survive off of one land hands, it needs 19-21 lands in order to be able to hit 2 mana on Turn 2 and 3 mana on Turn 3 consistently. However, even with Fetchlands, that means the occasional flood. The deck really wants finishers after its initial waves have died off and the late-game flood begins to occur. And since the deck needs to run extra Artifacts to support Kuldotha Rebirth, it has less reach that your traditional RDW or Sligh deck. Staggershock is a nice finisher. But I found myself needing even more firepower to close games out than a pair of Psionic Blasts are offering. Extra Masticores are nice, but I like the speed and flexibility that Koth offers. I am happy that I am able to squeeze 2 copies of Koth in the deck. The chances of drawing both in the opening are very low, and even drawing Masticore and Koth in the same hand doesn't slow you down that much, since you can use Koth's [-2] ability to cheat the Masticore right into play (another benefit of running all basics). As the great David Price once said, "Basic lands allow for the most speed and flexibility." (They still do in Standard at least). "Non-basics tend to slow you down, and they often come with drawbacks." The threat of having 8-power worth of creatures and 4 colorless damage to the dome next turn is pretty strong. Koth shines in enough match-ups that it would be nice to have an extra copy or two in the board, but I'm not sure if I want to spend the tix at this point. 


OUT: Tunnel Ignus

Tunnel Ignus

While he is a good "hate bear", he no longer seems to be pulling his weight. Ramp decks pretty much auto-include Pyroclasm in the board due to the plethora of Aggro decks, so he dies along with the rest of the team. He only triggers on Fetchlands if they play and sac on the same turn, and with the presence of Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse, Ramp decks have no incentive to do so. Thus he only really triggers to Harrow and Khalni Heart Expedition. Mono-Green Eldrazi dodges him even further with Growth Spasm and Walls.

IN: 2 Brittle Effigy and 1 Perilous Myr 

Brittle Effigy                Perilous Myr

In addition, to the 3 Chimeric Masses and 1 Molten-Tail Masticore, this gives us 7 answers to Kor Firewalkers in Games 2 and 3.  

OUT: 3 Goblin Ruinblaster and 1 Shatter

Goblin Ruinblaster

First of all, I must say that after some testing and tournament experience, I cringe at the very thought of me playing an Avalanche Riders in response to them playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor =/

The addition of the Scars duals to go along with Worldwake Manlands and M10/M11 duals give Allied-colored decks a ton of great mana-fixing options. As such, the appeal of Goblin Ruinblaster is lessened. The ability to blow up a Savage Lands on the play is no longer relevant in Standard. Moreover, in the match-ups where I could possibly see myself siding in Goblin Ruinblaster, i.e. U/X or U/X/x control builds and maybe B/R Vampires and Valakut Ramp, there are much more powerful options at the four-slot: Molten-Tail Masticore and Koth of the Hammer.   

 IN: 3 Searing Blaze and 1 Mark of Mutiny

Searing Blaze                      Mark of Mutiny

I'm not 100% sold on these last few choices. Mark of Mutiny is great against decks that tap out for Obstinate Baloths, Titans, and Eldrazi. It is also one of your few, last-ditch outs against a Wurmcoil Engine or Baneslayer Angel

The 6 damage that Searing Blaze does against the various Aggro decks in Standard is not to be underestimated. It helps ensure that you have a critical mass of removal spells for Mono-Green Elves and Vampires, and gives you another way to remove Argentum White Weenie's Kor Skyfisher. It would be nice to have something to bring in against RDW and the Mirror, but I have encountered these decks very much yet.

III: New Decklist: Kuldotha Red 2.0

4 Memnite
4 Kuldotha Rebirth
4 Goblin Guide
2 Spikeshot Elder
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Chieftain
1 Molten-Tail Masticore

3 Mox Opal
3 Chimeric Mass
3 Panic Spellbomb
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Burst Lightning
2 Koth of the Hammer

12 Mountain
4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn

4 Mark of Mutiny
3 Arc Trail
3 Searing Blaze
2 Shatter
2 Brittle Effigy
1 Perilous Myr

Still far less then cost of 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptors!

IV: Thursday Night Magic Online

In last week's article, I pointed out how 8-Person Constructed queues offer a better payout at a greater risk. Dropping 6 tickets in about 15 minutes is not the most pleasant experiences in grinding the Standard queues, but if you have both skill and a bankroll to match, it can be a lot of fun, and fairly profitable (for a hobby anyway). Even though the Daily Standard Events come with a 10-tix entry fee, you are at least guaranteed 4 rounds of play, some of which will be against players of a very high caliber.

However, the best option available for online grinders, veterans and novices alike, has to be TNMO: Standard Constructed. For a mere 2 tickets, you are guaranteed 3 rounds of game play. You even get a free, alternate art Gatekeeper of Malakir, which reduces the entry fee even further. The skill level of these events are slightly lower than that of the 2-Person queues, so going 2/3 is quite manageable, and will put you up slightly over 2 tickets. Winning puts you up over 6 tickets, and earns you a foil upgrade and 1 QP. In fact, the only apparent downside to TNMO Standard is that it comes along seemingly once in a blue moon! But when they do come along, they are very popular. I hope WOTC takes notice of this and tries to make some sort of effort in introducing a free-roll type event to MTGO. With just the right mix of casual and competitive vibes, TNMO is a lot of fun. It gets people playing and gives them something to do with all those spare draft cards besides selling them away to Bots.

I was able to take advantage of two of the TNMO Standard tournaments offered a couple of weeks ago. In the first tournament, I received what was essentially a bye in the first round against a G/u/b Infect deck, splashing for Preordain?, Distortion Strike, Plague Stinger, and removal. The lack of good mana fixing really hurt him in both games. I boarded in all of my removal in Game 2, and kept him out of the Red Zone for virtually the entire game. In the second round, I won two close games against a Mono-Green Eldrazi Ramp deck thanks to an explosive start in Game 1 and multiple Mark of Mutinys in Game 2. It was unfortunate I had to block him after he started harassing me after our match for "getting lucky". I admit that having a good, but not broken, draw in Game 1 and actually drawing my sideboarded cards in Game 2 helps, but really, what's a guy supposed to do? As the Magic gods would have it, I get crushed 0-2 in Round 3 against an Argentum White Weenie deck: in Game 1 he gets a great Turn 1 Quest for the Holy Relic draw while I mulligan a slow 0-lander into a slow 2-lander. He is attacking with a 6/8 Ornithopter on Turn 3 and hitting me with Desert Twister/Vindicate to boot. In Game 2 he slows my double Goblin Guide start with double Kor Firewalker, while I fail to draw any of my maindeck and sideboard hate. Oh well. I collect my pack and promo card happily as I am up 2 tix.

V: Tournament Recap

Since the first tournament was a blast to play in, I decided to join another.

Match 1, Game 1

I win the die roll and draw the following seven: 2 Kuldotha Rebirth, Goblin Bushwhacker, 2 Scalding Tarn, Mountain, Koth of the Hammer.

Kuldotha Rebirth  Kuldotha Rebirth  Goblin Bushwhacker  Scalding Tarn  Scalding Tarn  Mountain  Koth of the Hammer.

I must admit, I'm almost tempted to keep because I'm itching to try out Koth. However, I think this is a bad idea. Without an aggressive start, Koth's impact on the board will be minimized. Moreover, unlike other Planeswalkers, Koth does not have an ability to defend himself, so unless I topdeck well, I will have nothing but a Mons Goblin Raiders guarding him. Yet the most glaring aspect of this hand is the 2 Kuldotha Rebirth. Since I already have Bushwhacker in hand, any one of my 13 Artifacts can turn this hand into a playable one. However, with 53 cards left in my deck, the odds say I may not see an artifact until my fourth turn. Thus with 2 pseudo-dead cards putting me at a virtual five, I decide to mulligan.

The shuffler hands me: Chimeric Mass, Kuldotha Rebirth, Goblin Bushwhacker, Mountain, Scalding Tarn, Molten-Tail Masticore

Chimeric Mass  Kuldotha Rebirth  Goblin Bushwhacker  Mountain  Scalding Tarn  Molten-Tail Masticore

Thank you shuffler for a much better hand! Turn 1 I play the Mountain because I want to draw extra land for Masticore, cast Kuldotha Rebirth for my 3 dudes, and pass. He draws, plays a Plains, and casts Steppe Lynx. Boros Landfall it is! Turn 2 I draw Goblin Guide and think briefly. If I cast Goblin Bushwhacker now, I can get in for 8 damage, and curve out nicely. However, playing Goblin Guide now means I will still be able to deal 5 damage, and have the option for attacking for 11 next turn. I am somewhat loathe to give him a free chance to draw a Fetchland, but such are the risks of Goblin Guide: you have roughly a 50-50 chance of gaining an advantage (a hasty 2 damage + Peeking at their next draw, which can be helpful in allowing you to determine what they are playing/allows you to play around certain spells) or being put at a disadvantage (C/A for your opponent). I decide to go with the Goblin Guide and he takes 5 (20-15). On his turn, he plays a Scalding Tarn (20-15), attacks for 4 (16-14), and casts a Plated Geopede.

Turn 3 I draw a Memnite, cast it, and a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker, and attack with the entire team, threatening 13 damage. He blocks and kills the Bushwhacker with First Strike, and takes 11, dropping to a precarious 3 life. I still have enough guys to attack for lethal next turn. He draws, goes into the think tank for at least a full minute, and then decides to concede. Winning the die roll here really put me in good shape, and shows how fast Standard is right now. If he won the die roll, he would be able to attack with a 4/5 on Turn 2, a 4/5 and 5/5 on Turn 3, putting me at 7 life, not counting damage I'd take from my own Fetchlands. I'm forced to chump block on Turn 4 and maybe dead anyway if he has burn in hand. But as luck would have it, I did win the die roll, and only need one more game to close out this match.

Match 1, Game 2

Sideboarding: -2 Burst Lightning -2 Spikeshot Elder -2 Goblin Bushwhacker -3 Panic Spellbomb +2 Brittle Effigy +1 Perilous Myr +3 Arc Trail +3 Searing Blaze

Since I'm on the draw, I decide to be the control in this game by loading up on removal. I draw the following cards: Scalding Tarn, Chimeric Mass, Mox Opal, Kuldotha Rebirth, 2 Lightning Bolts, Mountain

 Scalding Tarn  Chimeric Mass  Mox Opal  Kuldotha Rebirth  Lightning Bolt  Lightning Bolt  Mountain

While I wish I drew some of my sideboard cards, I can't complain that much. I have a fast start, with the option of making a colorless 2/2 for offense or defense. And the pair of Lightning Bolts will go a long way in terms of keeping my life total high. This is a fairly easy keep. Turn 1 he plays an Arid Mesa and passes. I draw Koth of the Hammer, play a Mountain, Mox Opal, and Kuldotha Rebirth for three tokens. Turn 2 he uses his Arid Mesa to fetch a Mountain, plays a Scalding Tarn, and passes again. I draw Goblin Chieftain, play my Fetchland, and attack for 3 (16-20). Turn 3 he casts Goblin Guide, which I bolt after it reveals an Arc Trail on top of my library. During my turn, I attack for 3 (13-20), and crack my Scalding Tarn (13-19) to cast Chimeric Mass for X=2. Turn 4 he plays a Mountain, cracks his Scalding Tarn (12-19) to get another, and casts a Cunning Sparkmage. I draw a Mountain, and cast Goblin Chieftain. He pings a Goblin token while my guy is on the stack, and I attack for 6 (6-19). With three creatures on the board, and 5 points of direct damage in hand, there is very little that can go wrong now. I pass the turn back to him. Turn 5 he untaps and passes the turn back to me. I draw an Arid Mesa and cast Koth of the Hammer. I use his +1 ability to make a 4/4 and attack with the team. He chumps the Mountain with Cunning Sparkmage, casts Burst Lightning on Goblin Chieftain, and pings a token, taking 1 damage (5-18). He untaps, draws, and scoops.

Always nice to win the first match, especially against a good deck :)

Match 2, Game 1

My opponent wins the die roll and chooses to play. I am dealt the following hand: 2 Chimeric Mass, Mox Opal, Goblin Guide, Kuldotha Rebirth, Mountain, Scalding Tarn

Chimeric Mass  Chimeric Mass  Mox Opal  Goblin Guide  Kuldotha Rebirth  Mountain  Scalding Tarn

Not quite the nuts, but pretty close. This is a very easy keep for sure. Turn 1 my opponent leads with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, nice to know what I'm up against. My hand seems perfect for this match up. Some R/G Ramp players maindeck 1-2 Pyroclasm, hedging their bets against Aggro, while giving up some margin against Control. However, aside from this possibility, they have no efficient way to stop Kuldotha Rebirth in Game 1. I draw a Mountain and briefly consider my options. I could choose to save a Chimeric Mass for extra mid-game punch, and just play either Kuldotha Rebirth or Goblin Guide, followed by the other next turn. However, since the only sort of resistance I'm really expecting is a Lightning Bolt on Goblin Guide, I decide to cast it off a Fetchland, attack for 2 (giving him a Mountain) (18-19), and drop all my Artifacts, sacrificing a Chimeric Mass to Kuldotha Rebirth. Turn 2 he plays the Mountain and passes the turn. I draw another Kuldotha Rebirth, attack for 5 (revealing Summoning Trap) (13-19), and sacrifice my other Chimeric Mass for more tokens. Turn 3 he plays Forest into Explore into Evolving Wilds, and cracks it for a Mountain. I untap, draw Panic Spellbomb, cast it, and attack for 8 (5-19). Turn 4 he untaps and plays a Khalni Heart Expedition before conceding the game.

Match 2, Game 2

Sideboarding: -2 Spikeshot Elder -1 Molten-Tail Masticore -1 Burst Lightning +4 Mark of Mutiny

I take out my slowest creatures to slightly lessen the impact of Pyroclasm. I bring in the full set of Mark of Mutinys because I want to draw at least one, and having two or more is nice against Obstinate Baloths and Primeval Titans. Plus I don't think Masticore is often fast enough to have an impact against Valakut Ramp on the draw. My opponent chooses to play first again, and I receive the following on the draw: Memnite, 2 Goblin Chieftain, Goblin Guide, 2 Arid Mesa, Lightning Bolt

Memnite  Goblin Chieftain  Goblin Chieftain  Goblin Guide  Arid Mesa  Arid Mesa  Lightning Bolt

An early Pyroclasm means, worst case scenario, I'm likely to get 2-for-1ed and will only to get 2 damage out of Goblin Guide. But hopefully, if I draw a land, a pair of Chieftains will allow me to mount another wave. It's always better to topdeck my reach than have it in my opening hand, but it's fine. I decide to keep.

My opponent leads with a Turn 1 Forest and passes. I draw a third Goblin Chieftain, and sacrifice Arid Mesa (20-19) to play Goblin Guide and attack for 2 (18-19) while revealing Oracle of Mul Daya. I play the Memnite and pass the turn, bracing for impact. Turn 2 he draws and passes. Did he keep a 1-lander crammed with hate/early land search? Or was this just a poor mulligan decision? On my turn, I draw Goblin Bushwhacker. If I had known that, I would have kept Memnite tucked safely in my hand last turn. I use a Fetchland to kick the Bushwhacker (18 all), and attack, revealing Harrow and dealing 7 damage (11-18). Turn 3 my opponent draws Harrow and promptly scoops (with 8 cards in hand and facing another 7-lethal damage next turn).

I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I will win at least 1 pack, and take a short walk/water break to relax before the next round begins. 

Match 3, Game 1

I win the die roll and receive the following hand: 2 Goblin Bushwhacker, 2 Goblin Chieftain, Burst Lightning, Panic Spellbomb, Scalding Tarn

Goblin Bushwhacker  Goblin Bushwhacker  Goblin Chieftain  Goblin Chieftain  Burst Lightning  Panic Spellbomb  Scalding Tarn

The hand is playable, but slow. On the draw I might be tempted to keep, as I have 2 draws to find that second land. But here, unless I draw one right away, I'm running out a pair of Mons Goblin Raiders, and likely scooping to whatever my opponent puts in front of me.

I toss it back and receive the following: Chimeric Mass, 2 Memnite, Lightning Bolt, Arid Mesa, Scalding Tarn

Chimeric Mass  Memnite  Memnite  Lightning Bolt  Arid Mesa  Scalding Tarn

Not the greatest hand, but I like it better than going to 5. A Kuldotha Rebirth or a pair of Goblin Bushwhackers can turn this into a pretty great hand. The Lightning Bolt could be relevant if I'm facing an Aggro deck, and the land is just right, so I keep. 

Turn 1 I play my creatures and pass. He draws, plays a Plains and passes. Slow WW start? Turn 2 I draw another Bolt, attack for 2 to put him at 18, and play Chimeric Mass for X=2. He plays an Island, and (Rachet Bomb)s my entire team away. Ouch! U/W Control it is! Turn 3 I draw a Mountain, play a land, and pass. He does the same. I topdeck Goblin Chieftain and cast it, to which he responds with Mana Leak. We play draw go for a couple of turns, with me drawing blanks in Mountain and Mox Opal. On Turn 6 he taps out for Sun Titan, bringing back (Rachet Bomb). I double Lightning Bolt the Titan during his End step, and draw Koth of the Hammer! I cast it, and attack for 4, putting him at 14. He untaps and plays . . . another Sun Titan, bringing back a Fetchland. I draw a land, and tick Koth's loyalty up 1. He attacks and kills Koth. I untap, draw another Mox, and scoop. 

That Turn 2 (Rachet Bomb) was certainly a dagger. Most U/W builds have 1-2 in main deck while packing extra copies in the board. They also have some combination of Condemn, Journey to Nowhere, Flashfreeze, Kor Firewalker, and/or Baneslayer Angel/Wurmcoil Engine, and possibly main deck Wall of Omens, making U/W Control the bane of all Red decks (on paper at least). =/

Match 3, Game 2

Sideboarding: - 2 Burst Lightning -1 Lightning Bolt -2 Spikeshot Elder -1 Chrome Mox +2 Brittle Effigy +1 Perilous Myr +3 Mark of Mutiny

I sideboard against Kor Firewalker, and bring in Mark of Mutiny for his bombs. I'm on the play again, and receive the following: Chimeric Mass, Lightning Bolt, 3 Mountain, Scalding Tarn, Arid Mesa

Chimeric Mass  Lightning Bolt  Mountain  Mountain  Mountain  Scalding Tarn  Arid Mesa

This hand has no aggression whatsoever outside of a Turn 3 "Chimeric Idol". The land flood is a virtual Mulligan in and of itself, so I ship for the following: Mox Opal, Goblin Chieftain, Kuldotha Rebirth, Goblin Bushwhacker, 2 Scalding Tarn

Mox Opal  Goblin Chieftain  Kuldotha Rebirth  Goblin Bushwhacker  Scalding Tarn  Scalding Tarn

Now this is a hand I can get behind. I need to draw another land, and there is no protection against Kor Firewalker, but the hand is so explosive on the play, I might just be able to ignore him if it comes to that. As long as he doesn't have another early (Rachet Bomb), I'm in great shape. Turn 1 I play Kuldotha Rebirth and pass. He plays (Seachrome Crest) and passes. Turn 2 I draw Panic Spellbomb, play a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker and serve for 8, bringing him to 12. He draws, plays an Island, and passes. Turn 3 I draw Goblin Guide. I lead with Spellbomb to see if he will Mana Leak it? No. I then cast the Goblin Guide: Flashfreeze? No? Take 6, putting him at 6. He draws, taps out for a (Seagate Oracle) and promptly concedes.

Match 3, Game 3

No sideboard changes. On the draw, I receive: Chimeric Mass, Goblin Guide, 2 Memnite, Mark of Mutiny, Mountain, Arid Mesa.

Not the dream hand, but after taking 2 Mulligans in the previous games, this one is looking pretty good. A Kuldotha Rebirth off the top would be great. Turn 1 he plays a Plains and passes. This probably means Kor Firewalker is coming. I draw a Mountain, crack my Arid Mesa to play Goblin Guide, and attack for 2 (18), revealing Kor Firewalker. I play both Memnites and pass. Turn 2 he plays Glacial Fortress and Kor Firewalker. I draw Scalding Tarn, play it, and pass. Turn 3 he plays a Tectonic Edge and passes. I draw Spikeshot Elder and plays Chimeric Mass for X=3. Turn 4 he draws and clears my board with (Rachet Bomb). I topdeck Koth of the Hammer and play Spikeshot Elder. Turn 5 he plays a Celestial Colonnade and wraths to clear the board.

So here we are for all the marbles. I topdeck a Mox Opal and consider my options. My resources are severely depleted, so if I try to rebuild, my Planeswalker will become a dead card once he gets Colonnade online. So I decide to go for the win by casting Koth of the Hammer. His life total is way too high for me to think I can topdeck my way out of this: I need to fire off his "Ultimate" to win. I gain one loyalty and attack for 4 (14), passing the turn to my opponent, and hoping he topdecks a spell this turn and a spell/ETB tapped land next turn.

Opponent's board:

Plains  Tectonic Edge  Glacial Fortress  Glacial Fortress  Celestial Colonnade

My board:

Koth of the Hammer  5x Mountain

He draws . . . and casts Mimic Vat before passing the turn. So far so good! I untap, draw a Mountain :( and attack for 4 (10), putting Koth in ultimate range. He draws . . . and . . . concedes! Whew. Koth FTW!

VI: Conclusion 

I'm not sure if I'll be able to do anything with the QP, but at least I'm racking up the Magic Player Rewards right? :) I have to say that I loved my TNMO experience. Picking up a SOM Draft set for 1/3 of the price (4 tix in entry fees) and almost a full-playset of Gatekeeper of Malakirs. TNMO Standard Constructed is scheduled for December 9th this week, so if you've been thinking of jumping into the world of Constructed tournament Magic, this is the best place to do it! There are 3-5 tournaments running throughout the course of the day, so hopefully one will fit into your schedule. The option of a "free roll" or cheap tournament option provides a nice break to the pretty competitive 2-Person and 8-Person queues. And they provide a great chance to win some prizes for just a minor hit to your bankroll.

The promo card for the December month is Wild Nacatl. So at the very least, you will still have a great chance to play some competitive Magic and will still walk away with an alternate-art Wild Nacatl! And the foil version is likely to have some value in Extended, and for casual players who want to pimp their Zoo decks out.

Thanks for reading, and please join me again next week as I make some additional chances to the deck, play more TNMO Standard, and continue to grind away with my favorite deck in the format.



Hey Brandon, I'm currently by rayjinn at Thu, 12/09/2010 - 19:23
rayjinn's picture

Hey Brandon, I'm currently also grinding with almost the same list, but I can't help but notice you're missing out on some broken late game action.

I've spent a few slots differently to give me some extra punch late game.

+2 Devastating Summons (Great vs other red or ramp decks and you are already playing bushwacker)
+3 Furnace Celebration (8fetch, 4 spellbombs, 4 dotha, 2 Devastating summons)
No mox opal ( I play 4x chimeric mass, 4 memnite and 4 spellbombs, that's all i need.
No Koth of the hammer, Furnace Celebration Outclasses Koth Here and works better when behind.
No Spikeshot Goblin. Although i love it against vamps, i usually just bring in clasms against them faking a bad draw

Interesting Analysis by brandonQDSH at Thu, 12/09/2010 - 21:10
brandonQDSH's picture

I've always wanted to find room for Devastating Summons. I love the combo with Bushwhacker. And in the 3 games I've faced it in the mirror, it killed me twice, and I got them once. So far, I haven't included it because it doesn't work well with Koth (of course I could always just make a straight-trade here), and it feels risky with Mana Leak and Flashfreeze in the format. I don't know how the Blue mages do it, but I feel like they always have at least 1 of each every game I play against them.

I debate cutting Mox on a daily basis. I still keep it in because the shuffler has been so unkind to me lately in terms of dosing me 1 land hands. I like the idea of 10 0-cc artifacts, as it does add a little more speed. I toy with adding 2 Effigy main to save on sideboard space. I also toy with making the Moxes additional burn, like 2 Burst Lightning.

Spikeshot Elder is also a tricky one. Probably the main reason why it's still in is because I feel like I draw Elves at least once/week, and it really shines in that match-up. I think he's pretty good in Game 1 as he adds another Goblin to the mix, giving you 10 1cc Red Goblin spells (counting Bushwhacker as 2cc here). But I almost always ended up sideboarding him out 90% of the time.

I also don't know if I like Masticore. I think he's very slow in this format, although, he has won me several games, and I don't like the idea of 3 Koth main. I'll probably experiment by cutting him and maybe a SS Elder for some Furnace Celebration and see how it goes. I do like the idea of Fetchlands not being dead draws.

I guess the main reason why I keep Koth is because he's been so great for me in the Vampires match up and the U/B and U/W match ups. The Vamps have a hard time beating Turn 4 Koth. Since I added him, my win percentage has been at least 3:2. Aggro start + Koth almost always smashes U/X control. They tap out for DOJ or kill spells, and I plop down a hasty 4/4.

I think Koth is also good in Valakut match up and Mirror and Boros. I think he's average in WW Quest and Green Eldrazi. I never feel like I have to sideboard him out though.

Thanks for the food for thought. I will test Furnace Celebration and post soon.

p.s. what's your sn on mtgo?

I also toy with making Mox by brandonQDSH at Thu, 12/09/2010 - 21:12
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I also toy with making Mox back into Adventuring Gear and trying it with SS Elder. Boros has been having a great time last weekend, attacking with 5/5+ SS Elders and Lava Axing ppl. Masticore on steroids.

Follow-upMaybe its best to by rayjinn at Fri, 12/10/2010 - 08:20
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Maybe its best to sort out what kind of deck you want to play against certain matchups, so you can mix it up when you see a deck rise in popularity.

I spoke to Dunkle_stille about this too. It seems like a good idea to swamp between both Furnace Celebration and Devastating Summons.
For me Furnace Celebration is perfect against any slow or control deck. popping a fetchland to deal with a threat is great and it also provides you with the necessary range when they seem to stabilize.
Devastating summons is awesome against any aggro strategy, Vamps cant deal with 4/4's. The burn/red aggro mirror gets awkward when both players have dragon's claw out. Devastating summons for 5+ wins that matchup. So basically any deck that would counter your Devastating Summons or Day of judgements after, loses to furnace celebration.

As for the maindeck, I really want to play 9 CMC 0 artifacts (8possibilities* 7 cards drawn =56/60 chance of having at least one on turn 1)But i just can't find a card that has value. I toyed with an accorder's shield, but cut it a few games after. I also really like to play a drawn kuldotha from a spellbomb.

The weakness of the deck is often a clasm or Day of judgement. The Chimeric Mass dodges both and rapes any deck that relies on sorcery speed removal.

Speaking of which, I currently play 3 Arc trail maindeck because of the increase of aggro decks like boros, vampires and argentum wheenie. It's also nice against Caw-go (Though i'd rather have the Searing Blaze to demotivate them even further.)

Furthermore, i really wanted to play a set of tectonic edge to further improve the matchup against control and get more activations for furnace celebration (kill your manland and take 2 to go! B*tch) but ended up with only two copies sticking in the maindeck due to mountain count and goblin chieftains who require 1RR.

With all being said I.O.U. a new decklist.

Maindeck Kuldotha

4 Chimeric Mass
4 Memnite
4 Panic Spellbomb
2 Burst Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Arc Trail

4 Goblin guide
4 Goblin Bushwacker
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Kuldtoha Rebirth
2 Devastating Summons

4 Teetering Peaks
2 Tectonic Edge
7 Mountain
4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn

3 Shatter (Argentum wheenie)
3 Mark of Mutiny (valakut ramp etc.)
3 Furnace Celebration (Control)
1 Devastating Summons
4 Dragon Claw/ Perilous Myr (Firewalker) I'm looking for a balance between those, at the moment i see more red and no firewalkers, but with the increase of red, more firewalkers will come. So I guess it will be 2/2 most of the time) Right now i have 3/1 because it seems no one plays firewalkers.
1 Arc Trail

Dang that decklist looks so by Raddman at Fri, 12/10/2010 - 10:30
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Dang that decklist looks so familiar, oh wait a minute, I played against it last night lol. Summons is the better pick imo. You almost never summons without bushwacker so DOJ shouldn't be as big of an issue if played properly.

You're math's a bit off on by qwerty at Sat, 12/11/2010 - 12:31
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You're math's a bit off on the chances of drawing a 0 CMC artifact in the opening hand. Not sure how you came up with (8*7)/60 as the probability, but you just need to add in an extra 0 CMC artifact and do the same calculation to realize that it won't work the way you've calculated (63/60 is obviously not possible). The easiest thing to do is calculate the joint probability of not drawing a 0 CMC artifact and then subtracting that from 1.

For 8 0 CMC artifacts you compute [1-(52/60)*(51/59)...*(46/54)]=.65 so roughly 2 out of 3 (65%) opening hands will have a 0 CMC artifact in them. With 10 0 CMC artifacts the odds go up to roughly 3 out of 4 opening hands (74%).

Never played the deck so I'm not sure how much of a difference this makes in terms of overall win percentage.

My favorite thing about your by brandonQDSH at Fri, 12/10/2010 - 11:44
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My favorite thing about your decklist is the PRICE!!! It's a thing of beauty. I'll try to play it, list it as a "budget"/full-powered version, and credit you.

I like the Kuldotha + Spellbomb combo, however, I feel like there are a lot of match ups where it feels too slow. 3 mana, spent over 2 turns, and 1 card for 3 1/1s is certainly above the curve. But knowing Baloths and Titans and Jace and Argentum and stuff is coming in 1-2 Turns makes really nervous about spending 3 mana for a 3/3. That being said, I still play 3 Spellbomb and really like the combo in certain match-ups like the Mirror and Vamps, etc. But I think the Rogue Elephant style of card disadvantage suits this deck better.

I agree with the rise of Aggro. When I first started grinding a few weeks back, Pyromancer's Ascension was played fairly heavily, and maindeck Arc Trail against them, and Spagnolo/Gerry T control, etc. made me want to cry. However, I haven't played a U/R Ascension in the queues in weeks.

Maybe we just play different queues, but I just never get the Mirror/RDW en mass. Last night I played 6 matches in TNMO and got 1 Mirror for the first time in a long time. I never see the mirror in the 2-mans either.

I tuned the deck this week to specifically crush Valakut and put up good games against U/B, U/W, and RUG, and
good games versus R/B Vamps and Boros.

I'm very surprised that a lot of the mono-colored aggro decks don't run 3-4 Tectonic. For me, I'm just scared about the mana base. Out of the 50-100 games I played this week, the shuffler was tossing me 1-land hands, and even on the draw, not finding another land for 2-3 turns like 8% of the time. As such, the fear is in me now to stick to Basics. I really would like 2 copies of Teetering for Valakut and a couple of Tectonics would be nice. Deadguy Red ran 17 Mountains 4 Wasteland with 4 Ball Lightnings and 4 Fireblast in the main, so it seems doable.

Finally, in testing Furnace Celebration last night, I have mixed feelings. In a couple of games, I drew it and it was great, definitely a big reason why I won those games. But other times, I would just use it to bait a counter so I could stick a Koth next turn. The issue for me seems that when I draw hands like 2 Scalding, 1 Spellbomb, Furnace Celebration, Lightning Bolt, Goblin GUide, Kuldotha Rebirth, you often have to sacrifice a lot of your sacrifice outlets before Furnace Celebration sticks.

Even a Turn 3 Celebration, I feel like I will have used 1-3 Fetchlands and a Kuldotha and/or Spellbomb by that point, reducing my Furnace targets from 16-20 to 10-15.

Thanks for the continuing comments and analysis. It's giving a TON of testing work to do. But I love the new ideas and tweaking the deck to make it better :)

Raddman by brandonQDSH at Fri, 12/10/2010 - 13:00
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With 2 votes for Devastating Summons, I'll look into it more.

i played this deck also. by tangucho at Fri, 12/10/2010 - 14:36
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this is my first post on puremtgo and I follow this article because i play this deck too. I do feel that RED has all the tools needed to play a great deck right now.

My list is quite similar to yours, I toyed with several options (almost of all the discussed here). I´ve ended playing a list with no-moxes. mainly because its a little expensive and its legendary (and rarely i have metalcraft for it) In that direction i rather play ornithopter that at least can protect your koth (if you play it) and can land some extra valuable 1 damage if you have bushwhacker.

I do really like the KoTH inclussion since i often auto scoop when I reach turn 6 and havent win already. It´s quite unexpected and you really have an army to defend him if needed. I am not really into the furnace celebration strategy. cost activation is quite high for the mana base and not sure about the ruling but i think that you need to pay the activation cost for each land sacrificed with devastating summons. it means you need at least 5 lands to deal 4 extra damage (and if you have bushwhacker in hand there is no need to do it)

Regarding non-basics and/or utility cards I do like some anti-blocker strategy. I do prefer smoldering spires over teetering peaks. Also tried to find a spot for flame slash since overgrown battlement and wall of omens are a pain for this deck. Oh it also deal with baloths!.

totally agreed with galvanic blast. That was my first observation when i read your first article.

WW Quest its really a difficult match. it is almost 20/80 for me. Quite frustrating.

The whole point about furnace by rayjinn at Fri, 12/10/2010 - 19:28
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The whole point about furnace celebration is that all of your excess fetchland becomes damage. This can really improve your lategame. I realize it's mana intensive, but what else are you going to do late game? It's not like your manacurve requires you to tap out lategame:D

Teetering peaks enables a stolen Primeval Titan to become 11/7 trample, you shouldn't leave out that option.

About the devastating summons/furnace celebration interaction. that's totally irrelevant as you'll never have both in your deck.

I'd really like to know in what matchups Koth shines for you. I think it will be the same matchups where Koth shines, unless i'm mistake ofcourse

tangucho by brandonQDSH at Fri, 12/10/2010 - 15:55
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Thanks for reading and thanks for the insightful comments :)

I like the thopter idea. I might experiment right now cutting 1 mox for the thopter.

What's your mana base and decklist?

I think the quest match-up is VERY dependent on them having their engine (Turn 3 Armor) vs. your engine (Turn 1 Kuldotha + Turn 2 and 3 Bushwhacker/Chief). So far with the sideboard, I haven't had that much trouble with Kor Firewalker. It's only an issue when they drop a Quest and a couple of him. I think the match-up is at worst 60-40 in their favor. When they don't have their broken Armor draws, their deck is really slow, even with the Caw'd advantage they have.

You could do what the first poster does and side in 4 Perilous Myr. That should remove all Kor Firewalker problems. And you just have to hope they don't draw Turn 1 Quest.

kor is not really the problem imho by tangucho at Fri, 12/10/2010 - 16:32
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Kor Firewalker is not the biggest problem in that matchup IMHO.

The problem is that if they have a good strategy, they can easily block and trade 1-1 our initial rush and after replenish their hands and rebuild their squad with Squadron Hawk, Stoneforge mystic and other tutoring effects. Perilous myr is not a solid option since they obviously never block it and I found myself burning it down because he is not able to block their army of flying (and equiped) creatures. (did i mention ornithopter??). This matchup is were arc trail and forked bolt really shine. you really need 2 for 1 here.

and please do not try to use mark of mutiny against and argentum armor equiped creature.... :/

Never actually played with by qwerty at Sat, 12/11/2010 - 13:59
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Never actually played with it, but I was under the impression you could use Mark to attack with the armored creature then destroy the armor with it's own trigger, is that not the case?

The idea behind Perilous Myr by brandonQDSH at Fri, 12/10/2010 - 17:13
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The idea behind Perilous Myr is that in needs to combo with Kuldotha Rebirth, which unfortunately slows down the deck considerably.

In the early turns, I either hope to draw my engine and beat them quickly or play defensive. I like Arc Trail the match-up. I think Searing Blaze is equally strong against them. It gives you free CA + an extra way to take down Kor Skyfisher, which is also a big problem, like you said. This usually gives you enough time to stick a Koth with enough ground defense to hold that. I usually don't see too many Hawks with Swords in the games I've played against them. The 1 damage they do to Koth doesn't hurt that much, since it pads your life total, while they lose CA to 4/4s.

My strategy for beating them so far is 12 burn spells + Goblin core + 3 Koth + Firewalker defense. I feel like the match-up is no worse than 50-50 for me with this plan.

qwerty by brandonQDSH at Sat, 12/11/2010 - 15:59
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Yes, that works. You can also use the armor to destroy the creature it's on if they have way less than 6 mana. Or you can just bash them if they have no blockers, though, I think that's pretty rare.

tangucho follow up by brandonQDSH at Sun, 12/12/2010 - 20:54
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Also, if you really want to beat them, you could do what one writer at did, and morph into a R/B Goblins deck if you really want to win the WW match up. 4 Doom Blade will solve a lot of your problems, not only Kor Firewalker, but you can remove whatever creature they decide to equip with AA since they obviously don't run any Black creatures.

Kuldotha by Delicious at Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:21
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Been testing with Kuldotha Red for future Standard, and my list is as follows:

4 Goblin Guide
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Memnite
2 Spikeshot Elder
2 Moltentail Masticore
4 Chimeric Mass
3 Panic Spellbomb
4 Kuldotha Rebirth
2 Devastating Summons
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Burst Lightning

4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn
14 Mountain


3 Mark of Mutiny
1 Moltentail Masticore
4 Jinxed Idol
2 Furnace Celebration
2 Burst Lightning
3 Brittle Effigy

So, in come the whys:

Jinxed Idol - The most different SB card from other lists (actually, never saw any list playing it). All in all, it provides extra damage against U/B or U/W control, and the price for bumping it back to your opponent is quite cheap... which is not the case if your opponent tries to bump it back to you, because he doesn't have much creatures, and in that case he will sacrifice a blocker, which is always good for you. On the other hand, this card combos a lot with other cards in the deck, like Furnace Celebration or Moltentail Masticore. Every time I play an Idol, I'm very happy because it will deal, at least, 2 damage, or worse case scenario will make your opponent sac a creature, allowing 1 more of your attackers to get in. But the real sweetness comes in the form of Jinxed Idol + Mark of Mutiny, I mean, give me your Titan, stuff 7, let me sac it to my... oops, your Jinxed Idol and have another 2?!? Sounds good. =)

Moltentail Masticore - Well, actually I'm playing IRL with this deck, and I couldn't afford 2 Koth of the Hammer or really wanted to borrow 2 from the community (I'm playing in a money top8, and wouldn't like my opponents to know what am I playing with). In practical terms, however, I find the Masticore much more aggressive than Koth, since it can always spit 4 damage in this deck. Also, as you know, this deck suffers a lot if it doesn't kill or if it doesn't put your opponent in a precarious position until the 6th or so turn, and if you run out of gas and happen to play a Masticore in mid to late game, it will pay off musch faster than koth, since it can also block and is very hard to remove. As for SB matters, it is a valuable ally against Firewalkers along with Brittle Effigy.

Brittle Effigy - When I first looked at it, I thought immediatly Kor Firewalker, but these days you have plenty of targets, like Emrakul, Avenger, Titans, Baneslayer, Engine, Iona,... all in all, it's much more effective than Perilous Myr, because Perilous needs to be sacced in order to kill a Firewalker, which means you need to spend two cards to deal with 1 problem, that is Kuldotha Rebirth + Peilous Myr (and this if he isn't already more than a mere 2/2, like when he is equipped with a Sword or the likes), and this proves to be inefficient, since what this deck needs is to have cards that do 2 for 1, and not the opposite. So, even though the Effigy is a 1for1, it will pay off much more than a Myr. Whenever you face a monster of the above list, then think which would you prefer to have on the table.

No Mox Opal - Moxes suck in this deck, I'd rather play Ornithopter, since it can deal damage, while the Mox can't.

1: it's Legendary, which by itself turns it into a mere target for Kuldotha Rebirth, and in that case the Thopter still is much better, since it can be a target and swing when Bushwhacked and still defend against something.

2: since people have already realised that Burst Lightning is much more effective than Galvanic Blast, and since in that case metalcraft becomes irrelevant, why keep the Mox?

No non basic except for fetches - As Price said, basics are the most realiable, and they exempt you from costs like coming into play tapped, which is a no-no in this deck. In the first 3/4 turns, you NEED to play lands that come untapped, or else... it becomes irrelevant if you make your Guide +2/+0 on turn 2, since you'd much rather something else, I'm sure. Unless there's a land that makes all your creatures unblocable when it comes into play, then I'll play Mountains any day.

Furnace Celebration - I got the idea from this thread, and it's quite smart actually. I thought it was random at first, or even noobish, I admit, but thinking about it makes sense to play 2, since it will be a very good card against the above mentioned U/W and U/B from mid to late game. This card even combos with my Jinxed Idol perfectly, and I'm quite happy to play it tomorrow in the top 8. Thanks for this, guys. =)

As for just 1 Burst maindeck, I really prefer Masticore over it, since the meta in the top8 tells me it will pay off much more. But I'd stick to 3 main deck otherwise. No Arc Trail in the SB is also because of the meta, or I'd run 3. All critics, good or bad, are more than welcome. =)

Delicious Hi. Interesting by brandonQDSH at Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:06
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Hi. Interesting critiques. I like the Jinxed Idol tech. I played a casual R/B with Bloodthrone Vampire/Viscera Seer/Act of Treason/Mark of Mutiny combo and Jinxed Idol. It works pretty well. I'll see if I can cram it into the sideboard, as I would like to shore up that U/W match up as much as possible.

Everybody is against Mox, but I don't think it's useless. There are instances where it acts as a critical land drop. It's still at 2 in my last article, but I cut it down to 1 a week later. Eventually, I'll probably get them all, but I don't know just yet.

I agree with the no-non-basics. I cut 'em a while ago, and I think I quoted Price and used that analysis in this or the last article. There are times where you actually would miss the extra Panic effect or +2, but I was burned enough times with 3 goblin tokens, a tapped out opponent, 2 lands, with chieftain and peaks in my hand :((

In theory, it bothers me that I don't have a peak or two to tutor up via Primeval Titan, but that situation has only come up once or twice, and I think I won regardless of an extra 4 damage. Other than this minor detail, I haven't really regretted having all basics in the least bit. Although I think the King of Beatdown would be interested in seeing the non-basics that have come out in the past couple of years. When he was around the Invasion tap lands were among the most solid duals around; now we treat them as pretty much unplayable. I think he might grab himself playsets of Lavaclaw Reaches, Blackcleave Cliffs, and Dragonskull Summit.

I agree that Masticore is a beast if you get to untap with it. But I think it's tough to be able to curve out with him. I explain this more fully in a later article, but I think Koth is just a little faster, since he gets to hit right away for 4, without the risk of dying to Doom Blade, or getting nailed by Gatekeeper.

Although I think for the current meta, Masticore is improving because I think U/B cut Consuming Vapors when they decided to cut Abyssal Persecutor. Plus, I only run 18 creatures too, and a good amount of the time, there will be nothing in the yard for you, although as you said, this will improve with Idol out of the board.

Thanks for the insightful comments. I'm looking forward to testing some Jinxed Idol.

P.S. There is another article by brandonQDSH at Wed, 12/22/2010 - 12:02
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P.S. There is another article up and hopefully one last one on the way. Let me know what you think. Thanks.