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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Feb 22 2011 9:17am
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ROGUE PLAY
Mirrodin at War
Part II

by Nafiz Erman

Hello dear readers and welcome back to Rogue Play. Last week in Mirrodin at War, Part I, we went over Koth Red and Architect Blue and speculated about their future versions. And this week we will first talk about Infect and then go over  Control.

I want to end the mumbling right here and cut to the chase, because there are tons of stuff we must talk about.

 

INFECT

It always amazed me how a deck with a bunch of overcosted 1/1s and 2/1s constantly managed to go 4-0 in Daily Events. Just check this list and you'll understand what I mean: 

Infect
As played by gonzagabulldog
Creatures
4 Corpse Cur
4 Plague Stinger
4 Necropede
4 Ichorclaw Myr
4 Hand of the Praetors
4 Ichor Rats
4 Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Grasp of Darkness
3 Throne of Geth
1 Contagion Clasp
8 cards
 
Lands
24 Swamp
24 cards

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

 

I told you; it's amazing.

As you can see, before Mirrodin Besieged the Infect decks were mono Black and were not using Green. Players did not want to mess with their mana bases just to get in a few Putrefaxes or Blight Mambas. And now Mirrodin Besieged has arrived and it brought many new Green infecters. So first we must do this: We must decide whether to add Green to our Infect decks or not. Therefore I would like to go over the new Green cards quickly and look for possible additions; if there are any of course.

Viridian Corrupter: This is an excellent creature with Infect but the heavy Green requirement in its casting cost is a serious problem.

Green Sun's Zenith: No, this isn't Standard and no, we don't have any Cultivates and Lotus Cobras here. This spell needs some serious mana ramping first to be useful and mana ramping is exactly what this Block as a whole is lacking. Even though a Green Sun's Zenith into Putrefax seems like a nice idea, it alone isn't worth adding Green to this deck.

Currently the Green sun shines over some other formats but sadly not Block.

Lead the Stampede: I admit that this is a nice card. Just when you're about to lose steam, you cast this one and hopefully refill your hand. Very nice. Any deck with Green would like to play this but it seems to me that our SOM Block Infect deck will stay monocolored.

Phyrexian Hydra - Rot Wolf - Blightwidow: Maybe the final set of the block will have some very good Green infecters and maybe then we can play  Infect decks; who knows, maybe we'll play even mono Green Infect decks. But even if that happens, I doubt that these three creatures will ever see serious play.

And these were the main candidates which, I'm sure you'd all agree, were not good enough to add a second color to our Infect decks. The best of them is Viridian Corrupter but it needs heavy commitment to Green which seems to be an horrible idea at the moment. And the other cards are really not worth the trouble. So no, Green won't be added to our Infect decks.

Okay, now we know that we will continue infecting our opponents with our mono Black decks. So let's start examining the new candidates then!

Phyrexian VatmotherPhyrexian Crusader: Both are no-brainers and both will be played as a four-of. And no questions will be asked.

Inkmoth NexusPlague Myr: Another two no-brainer cards. Both will go in as a four-of.

Flensermite: This cute Gremlin might come in handy only if some aggressive creature based non-infect deck becomes successful in the format; and I'm looking at you Battle cry!

It will continue infecting our opponents while keeping us alive with its lifelink ability. So if we ever start seeing some Battle cry decks running around, we know how to save ourselves from the slaughter.

Septic Rats: This will probably not replace Ichor Rats but it would nevertheless nice to watch those two rats infecting people!

Go for the Throat: This card is nuts in every format out there except SOM Block. So it won't automatically replace those four Grasp of Darknesses in the deck. But it will replace something and that's Skinrender in the sideboard. There will be times when we will need this removal (such as the mirror match) and during those times it will help us greatly.

Contested War Zone: Nah, too risky. You may get in a few extra poison counters with it but there's a big chance that it backfires right back at you. Besides, we already have four Inkmoth Nexuses in the deck and we cannot play any more colorless lands.

Virulent Wound: To be honest, at first I didn't take it seriously. Then I started testing SOM Block online (I'm playing Koth Red by the way) and saw this card in every game I played against Infect. Most of the time people play this as a combat trick and get in one more poison counter with it which seems nice. It appears to have replaced Throne of Geth in Infect decks and the more I see it in action, the more I believe that this is a nice addition.

Phyrexian Revoker: No, Infect will not play this.

Sword of Feast or Famine: No, Infect will not play this either.

Core Prowler: Now this is something interesting. Until now, Infect decks were playing their own version of Gravedigger (that being Corpse Cur), and I can see this one replacing it. The only problem for it, is the existence of the mighty Vatmother as this deck's main four-drop, but if I can find an empty slot or two, I will definitely add this one in. It leads to so many awkward situations for the opponent, so it's definitely worth all the mana I will pay for it.

Phyrexian DigesterPhyrexian Juggernaut: There isn't a rule saying that every card with the word "Phyrexian" in its name is an auto-include to this deck. So both are out.

Spread the Sickness: If only this costed  to play! Wow, that would have been a nice spell for this deck. But as it is now, there is no way it could see play in this deck.

Okay we've seen the new candidates. There are a lot of great new cards for this deck and building the best and optimum version will be very difficult. But before we take a look at the deck, let's first examine the enemies of it. We should also know what we should be fearing and what we should be watching out when playing this deck.

 

 ENEMIES OF INFECT

Slagstorm: Actually Koth Red as an archetype is the biggest enemy of Infect and Slagstorm is one big reason why this is so. Unless you have the Vatmother or Phyrexian Crusader out, this nasty spell will ruin all your "investment" and will leave you empty handed. So watch out for this one.

Black Sun's Zenith: Another big enemy of this deck. This one even gets rid of Phyrexian Vatmother and Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon all at once. But think of it like this: Wrath of God was always available and yet people always found ways to successfully play Aggro decks. So if you know how to pilot an Aggro deck against Control decks, you will also know how to play around this one.

Phyrexian Rebirth: See above.

Sword of Feast and FamineMirran Crusader: Protection from Black surely hurts Infect but I don't think that neither of those two is an instant "I win" card against it. Surely it is not possible to block with our Black creatures but we have lots of artifact creatures as well. Or we can use Tumble Magnet. Or Ratchet Bomb. Even a few Memoricides from the sideboard would help against them.

I know they both are problematic cards and I most certainly don't disdain them, but there are ways for Infect to overcome those obstacles.

Blightsteel Colossus: Another reason why we should add Tumble Magnet to our sideboards.

Thrun, the Last Troll: This creature is a big problem for some certain decks and fortunately for us, Infect is definitely not one of those. We'll just infect the Troll and move on!

And these were all the cards we should watch out in the coming days while playing our Infect decks. And now, it's finally time for...

 

THE DECK

Considering all those things I said above, I believe that this below deck would be a nice start:

THE NEW INFECT

24 Lands

4x Inkmoth Nexus
20x Swamp

26 Creatures

4x Phyrexian Vatmother
4x Phyrexian Crusader
4x Hand of the Praetors
4x Ichor Rats
4x Plague Myr
3x Ichorclaw Myr
3x Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

10 Other Spells

4x Grasp of Darkness
4x Virulent Wound
2x Contagion Clasp

15 Cards Sideboard

4x Go for the Throat
3x Throne of Geth
3x Tumble Magnet
2x Corpse Cur
2x Contagion Clasp
1x Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

So this is the deck I'll start testing. There are surely things testing will change and I really would like to add in a few Core Prowlers if possible. I also like Plague Stinger and I may also add them back in the future (possibly replacing Ichorclaw Myr).

Then depending on the new meta, I may also move one Go for the Throat to the maindeck and move one Grasp of Darkness or Virulent Wound to the sideboard. Speaking of Virulent Wound, it is great against those turn two mana Myrs and if that trend continues, it will also continue to stay in the deck. If, however, people switch to Sphere of the Suns, then I may remove it as well.

Okay we did enough talking about the infectious Phyrexians. Let's talk about something else. Let's talk about my favorite deck from Block which happens to be this:

 

WHITE / BLUE CONTROL

There are now two ways one can build a  Control deck. One is the known version with Venser, the Sojourner and Elspeth Tirel and the other uses Master's Call and Shape Anew to cheat a Blightsteel Colossus into play (preferably on turn four). Both are very nice decks and now we'll talk a little bit about them.

But instead of listing all the candidates one by one, this time I will directly give you the deck lists and then talk about them and explain you my choices.

Let's start with the one I call "Blightsteel Control".

BLIGHTSTEEL CONTROL

27 Lands

4x Seachrome Coast
4x Inkmoth Nexus
11x Plains
8x Island

9 Creatures

4x Trinket Mage
4x Indomitable Archangel
1x Blightsteel Colossus

24 Other Spells

4x Master's Call
4x Stoic Rebuttal
4x Shape Anew
3x Elspeth Tirel
2x Steel Sabotage
2x Revoke Existence
2x Phyrexian Rebirth
2x Arrest 
1x Darksteel Axe

15 Cards Sideboard

4x Mirran Crusader
3x Disperse
2x Arrest
2x Steel Sabotage
2x Revoke Existence
2x Fuel for the Cause

Shape Anew 

Okay so what's going on here? Why are there so many "confusing" cards? Why is this deck not the simple Master's Call into Shape Anew deck?

Dear readers, do you really believe that we can be that naive and "trust" Master's Call as our only way of getting a bunch of artifact tokens? Or Inkmoth Nexus. No, we can't be that naive. All the decks out there has a way to deal with our artifacts. I mean, we play Master's Call at the end of opponent's turn and then untap and play Shape Anew. And what will our opponent do? 

Let's see. Koth Red will burn the token, Infect will cast either Grasp of Darkness or Virulent Wound, can either counter Shape Anew or get rid of Blightsteel Colossus with Revoke Existence for good and Architect Blue can Steel Sabotage or Disperse the token. And as you know, Shape Anew will fizzle when the token dies. And thus all will be for nothing.

So as you see, the "Master's Call into Shape Anew" plan is really not a good one. Or let's say that it is not sufficient. Therefore I have other ways to cheat my Blightsteel Colossus into play as well as ways to protect my strategy.

My first aim is NOT to cast a Master's Call but to get one Trinket Mage out which will fetch me my lone Darksteel Axe. Then when I'm casting my Shape Anew, the opponent can't do any of those things I mentioned above and I will freely get my Colossus out.

But even that is not enough. Tumble Magnet is really boring. Into the Core and Revoke Existence are VERY boring. And that's the part where Indomitable Archangel becomes useful. Oh and those Master's Call tokens as well. Because with their aid I will achieve Metalcraft which then will give my Blightsteel Colossus shroud, which then will end the game with one swing... for sure this time!

No Tumble Magnets, no Revoke Existences, no nothing. Indomitable Archangel will make my 11/11 infecter with trample immune to everything and then I will be invincible. Sort of... Well anyway, that's the plan at least!

Oh and I forgot to mention Phyrexian Rebirth. It also gives me an artifact token, most of the time a very "fat" one, and I can always "transform" it into a nice Blightsteel Colossus as well. And the other cards you see in the deck are all in for protection.

I don't think any of those cards need any explanation because they all speak for themselves. I may (or may not) add Volition Reins to the sideboard as well but that I will decide after testing this deck. But so far it looks very solid to me and I believe that the changes I will make to it will only be limited to the "protection" part of the deck and not the main engine of it.

Okay that was the Blightsteel Control deck. Now let's take a look at a more traditional version of  Control. Let's first examine this list:

W/U CONTROL

26 Lands

4x Seachrome Coast
4x Inkmoth Nexus
10x Plains
8x Island
 

6 Creatures

4x Glimmerpoint Stag
1x Wurmcoil Engine
1x Treasure Mage

28 Other Spells

4x Stoic Rebuttal
4x Ichor Wellspring
3x Phyrexian Rebirth
3x Venser, the Sojourner
3x Tumble Magnet
3x Revoke Existence
2x Elspeth Tirel
2x Blue Sun's Zenith
2x Arrest
1x Spine of Ish Sah
1x Contagion Engine

15 Cards Sideboard

4x Mirran Crusader
2x Steel Sabotage
2x Arrest
2x Contagion Clasp
2x Wurmcoil Engine
1x Venser, the Sojourner
1x Elspeth Tirel
1x Sunblast Angel

Venser, the Sojourner

I actually don't think that this list is too surprising to anyone. What I'm doing here is using Venser, the Sojourner at maximum. Mirrodin Besieged gave him a lot of nice new toys and my plan here is to abuse them as much as possible.

Ichor Wellspring with Venser is one extra card every turn. Spine of Ish Sah with Venser is a lost permanent for the opponent every turn. Glimmerpoint Stag is also a key card because, as we already know, that creature is really nuts with Venser. Then I have Treasure Mage to tutor me what I need. If I need a finisher, he gives me my Wurmcoil Engine. If I need a spot removal, he gives me my Spine of Ish Sah. And if I need a mass removal, he gives me Contagion Engine.

Speaking of mass removal, I completely removed Sunblast Angel from the deck and only kept one copy in the sideboard. Because now we have Phyrexian Rebirth and I don't think I have to tell you that it is much better than the Angel.

Then I have a full playset of Mirran Crusader in my sideboard which will buy me enough time against Infect; and time is all I need in those matches. And all the other cards in the sideboard have their uses and I'm sure that apart from a few changes here and there, the list will stay as it is.

Of course there is one other way of building a  Control and that one relies on these two cards to win:

This version is something I'm currently working on. It's basically a tokens deck and tries to cast very big White Sun's Zeniths with the help of the new sword. This deck also has some other token generators such as Elspeth Tirel, Origin Spellbomb and the new Master's Call. The rest will look similar to the one deck above, but instead of relying on Venser and his blinking ability, this deck will rely on its tokens to win. As I said, that version is still "under construction", and once I'm finished with it, I will surely share it.

 

WRAP UP - Which one is better now?

So we've seen Infect and two different versions of  Control. And last week we covered Koth Red and Architect Blue. Which one of those decks do you think is better now?

I personally believe that Infect has become a real beast with the new additions. Phyrexian Vatmother is really a big threat and Phyrexian Crusader is no less. I expect to see a lot of Infect decks in tournaments in the coming days. Sometimes it's easier to create problems for the opponent rather than solving the problems the opponent is creating. And I think that Infect is such a deck now.

But both versions of  Control decks I listed here are very strong as well. The Blightsteel Control is a very powerful deck and it really can do some absurd things in no time. A third turn Trinket Mage will result in a turn four Darksteel Axe and a fifth turn Blightsteel Colossus; guaranteed against decks without counterspells. And how will Infect deal with it? And the other version can always delay the infecting army of Phyrexians until it reaches to six mana and cast a Phyrexian Rebirth.

So if you ask me my favorite, I would say that it's the Blightsteel Control one. Not only because it can get out a 11/11 infect and trample guy in no time, but it also has other ways of winning and I think I like this. I mean, it can always win with its Indomitable Archangels. It can win with Elspeth Tirel. It can even win with its Phyrexian Rebirth token. And just because it can hit the opponent from so many angles and with so many different weapons, I can clearly say that it is my favorite so far.

I said "so far" by the way because next week I will show you my most beloved Block deck. Which is...

 

NEXT WEEK ON ROGUE PLAY
Mirrodin at War, Part III

Next week we will talk about the new bad boy in town in great detail. Oh and you know whom I'm referring to.

Yes. It's him.

Thanks for reading.

See you online
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman

13 Comments

I'm prone to trust you very by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 02/22/2011 - 11:27
Kumagoro42's picture
5

I'm prone to trust you very much both as a brilliant player and deckbuilder, and I really want to like and embrace the Colossus deck (because cheating things into play is my thing), yet I can't help but wonder if it can really work on tournament level. I mean, what if you just draw into the Colossus? You can't get rid of him (unless you wait for your hand to go up to 8 in order to force a discard, but this looks like a ridiculous option in competitive play). What are your secondary win conditions in that case? Just swing with some angels waiting for your 12th land drop to happen? It surely doesn't seem enough as a backup plan (EDIT: I read the last line about winning through Rebirth or Elspeth, and while I don't think a single artifact creature from Rebirth can last too long in a format filled with removals, maybe Elspeth can do something more). And what if you have a myr token (or a Nexus) on the battlefield, Shape Anew in hand, and the opponent tapped out, but no Trinket Mage did show up yet? You can't risk to have everything come down to a Darksteel Axe cheated into play, can't you? So are you forced to wait for Trinket Mage every single game - and if they would counter it, to wait for the next one, hoping you don't draw the Colossus in the meantime?

Hey, thanks for the by Lord Erman at Tue, 02/22/2011 - 13:16
Lord Erman's picture

Hey, thanks for the comment.

After I've submitted the article, I played against a couple of players playing Shape Anew decks, and they showed me the power of Turn Aside. It's something so simple yet so efficient.

While I'm happy with the current main deck so far, I think I need both Turn Aside AND Volition Reins in the sideboard.

Thanks again for the comment.

LE

Sure thing. I'm waiting for by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 02/23/2011 - 10:01
Kumagoro42's picture

Sure thing. I'm waiting for you to really work out the Shape Anew deck (because I'm just lazy that way), while waiting for the price of the Colossus to go down a little bit before buying it. Also, I would probably have to replace Elspeth with something cheaper. Please, write about the deck again in the future. It's potentially something that can move to standard, since it's an overall stronger concept than the other SOM archetypes (except Tezz, obviously, but that's actually a downgrade from standard already).

I am waiting for some of the by lumbydan at Tue, 02/22/2011 - 14:05
lumbydan's picture

I am waiting for some of the mythics and rares to drop in price before picking them up but I have been running steel sabotage main deck in UW control and have been quite happy with it. I love the fact that you can really mess with their tempo by countering a mana myr or sphere of the suns early. It is also good late game when they try to drop a big artifact creature or even just a tumble magnet. I guess if the format is heavier on infect and koth red then they would start in the sideboard but right now I am still seeing a lot of mono U architect and UW control.

Why Turn Aside over Dispell? by menace13 at Tue, 02/22/2011 - 17:06
menace13's picture

Why Turn Aside over Dispell? You need Jace in the Shape deck or See Beyond. How abou 1x Emrakul+Mass Pmorph in addition to the Shape Anew combo(would go in the creature slots).

Uhm, this article was about by Lord Erman at Tue, 02/22/2011 - 17:22
Lord Erman's picture

Uhm, this article was about SOM Block.

LE

That would make sense. by menace13 at Tue, 02/22/2011 - 17:30
menace13's picture

That would make sense.

Otherwise, why Turn Aside by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 02/23/2011 - 10:03
Kumagoro42's picture

Otherwise, why Turn Aside over Force of Will? :P

Exactly my point! :D by menace13 at Wed, 02/23/2011 - 10:14
menace13's picture

Exactly my point! :D

Lol at the FoW comment. The by RCueva at Wed, 02/23/2011 - 11:47
RCueva's picture
4

Lol at the FoW comment.

The Shape Anew deck looks really fun. I'm a little confused though was it your idea to put it in a control shell like that is that all you?

Either way fun article and I can't wait for the next one.

it looks like a block version by Clan Magic Eternal at Wed, 02/23/2011 - 12:16
Clan Magic Eternal's picture

it looks like a block version of a std deck that was featured in the last scg 5k. maybe erman never saw it, but this is not a new idea.

In that vein, no ideas are by Paul Leicht at Wed, 02/23/2011 - 17:30
Paul Leicht's picture

In that vein, no ideas are really new :p.

I built and tested and by Lord Erman at Wed, 02/23/2011 - 16:54
Lord Erman's picture

I built and tested and finalized all the decks you see here, right after the release of the set. Especially the one Tezzeret deck you'll see next week.

LE