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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Apr 04 2009 12:45am
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Scoping the Unknown Part II

by Nafiz Erman

Hello everybody. Ever since Wizards announced the new MTGO-only format Kaleidoscope, I stopped playing other formats and started spending all my online time thinking and building and testing Kaleidoscope decks. I have a lot to discuss, so please allow me to skip my usual mambo-jambo at the start of my articles and get stright to the point.



First and foremost, if you are interested in this format and want to play against other Kaleidoscope players, I advise you to /join kaleidoscope while you're online. Currently there are over a dozen players but the number of players is increasing every day (it will increase one more after you join us for example!). 

The biggest problem I encountered until I joined that chat room was to find the right players to test my decks. Of course all my games' description was !!!KALEIDOSCOPE!!! but I realized quickly that not many were reading those descriptions. I had to play against Affinity, Merfolk, Dredge and all sorts of other Extended weirdness.

I also had some very funny chats while I was trying to start a game. When someone joined the game, I wrote "kaleidoscope isn't it?". I copied this and when someone joined I simply pasted it. And some of the answers I got were very funny. Here are a few:

Me: "kaleidoscope isn't it?"
Op: "what is it?"
Me: "a format."
Op: "then why are you starting your game as extended you idiot?!"
Me: "...."


Me: "kaleidoscope isn't it?"
Op: "no I'm not kaleidoscope"


Me: "kaleidoscope isn't it?"
Op: "no I don't have that card in my deck. and why did you ask?"
Me: "...."

So join the chat room and avoid wasting your time. 


In my previous article which can be found here, I talked about the cards that will be staples in the format. The cards I highlighted were Pillar of the Paruns, Trial/Error, Pure/Simple and Supply/Demand. Now let's get a little bit deeper in this "cards to watch out" category. There are more cards that will shape the meta.


The lieges from Shadowmoor block are excellent cards. Not all of them but some are very powerful and I need to mention them here.

Lieges are a huge boost for aggro decks. Some color combinations do not support aggro strategy well enough such as White/Blue, Red/Blue or Blue/Black. Those are the colors of control and thus their lieges aren't that interesting. But if we look at others we see some real gems. I've already seen some in action and I'm using some of them in my decks, so I know what I'm talking about. To demonstrate the power of lieges, I'm presenting you a deck type I'm facing more and more everyday. 


The deck you see above is not something I play but something I'm facing very often. Rakdos decks are currently very popular among the Kaleidoscope players. You see that Pain Magnification there? Well, thanks to Ashenmoor Liege even a creature token created by Rakdos Guildmage can trigger it. And seriously, a 7/6 flying haste Demigod of Revenge is really not funny (two of them is ridiculous)! Maybe you think you can overcome this madness by gaining life. Don't even think about it because of those Rain of Gores in the sideboard. Oh and do you want to remove the liege or to destroy it? Sure you can but that will cost you another four life!

As you see, this deck is plain sick...

Another great liege is Boartusk Liege. Red/Green is the best two color aggro combination in all other formats and Kaleidoscope won't be an exception. With cards like Tattermunge Maniac, Scab-Clan Mauler or Boggart Ram-Gang, one must not be Einstein to come up with a Red/Green deck that is fueled by Boartusk Liege.

The other liege I want to mention is Wilt-Leaf Liege. Green/White is another good color combination for aggro in other formats and this liege already sees  play in Standard format. But what makes her so special in Kaleidoscope is not only the existence of excellent Green/White creatures such as Watchwolf or Loxodon Hierarch but it is actually another card. It is this card:

I want to talk about this one in a seperate section. 

Oversoul of Dusk

Even in Standard where there are no color restrictions, Oversoul of Dusk is a really hard to deal with threat. But still players can use Path to Exile or Oblivion Ring to get rid of her or simply cast Wrath of God or Martial Coup to solve this problem. But someone please do tell me, how do we get rid of her in Kaleidoscope?

And now combine this madness with Wilt-Leaf Liege. What do we get? A 7/7 unblockable, untouchable, unstopable craziness. Savage Twister won't save you. You can't block her with your 7/6 or even 9/8 Demigod of Revenge. Pure/Simple can't touch her. Ajani Vengeant doesn't scare her. Snakeform won't work on her. What's left? 

Of course there are cards that can deal with her such as Crime/Punishment but how many times will that happen? Besides, the goal of any Green/White aggro deck is to kill you before you reach that amount of mana. If you can cast a Crime/Punishment, the aggro player already deserves to lose.

Anyway, now that we understood how powerful the lieges are and how broken Oversoul of Dusk is, let's move onto another card to watch out in the format. 

Teferi's Moat

Once Urza told to Teferi that isolation is not the answer (that's the flavor text of Teferi's Moat by the way). Of course I wouldn't dare to call Urza a shortsighted person but he has never seen this new format coming. So Urza was wrong and Teferi was right. Isolation is indeed the answer. At least it is so in Kaleidoscope.

It is a shame that Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir is not allowed into the format to see his moat's success, but rest assured that his creation is more than enough to keep any non-flying army at bay.

We've said many times that Mass Removal in Kaleidoscope is a big problem. There is no card that can 100% guarantee you the destruction of each and every creature on board. Savage Twister is the closest what we have to Wrath of God currently and looking at Oversoul of Dusk again, one can easily say that that card can't be trusted always.

I'm sure (or I want to be sure) that Alara Reborn will fill this hole. Unless Wizards gives a good playable Wrath of God to the format, Kaleidoscope will always be a format where the fastest and the biggest army always wins. I told you how effective Red/Black and Red/Green aggro decks are. There should be a way to battle them (other than playing one of them).

And currently Teferi's Moat seems to be the best option for control decks. And considering we have Supply/Demand in the format, to get it out on time shouldn't be a big problem. The only problem will be to keep it safe from cards like Pure/Simple.

And a final note about Teferi's Moat: It protects you against non-flying creatures. But it doesn't protects your Ajani Vengeant! So any creature, flying or not, can attack your planeswalkers while the moat is on table. You should keep this in mind when playing them.

Okay, we've talked about another card that will have a strong impact on the meta and effect deckbuilding in general. Let's move onto some strategies and talk about them in general. 


Above I gave you a deck that can be a good start for you for building your first aggro deck in Kaleidoscope. Also if aggro is your way of playing, you might try building a Red/Green deck around Boartusk Liege or a Green/White deck with Oversoul of Dusk and Wilt-Leaf Liege. But those aren't the only aggro options.

During my many playtest games, I encountered many who were trying a mono red deck. It may sound strange at first, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Just splash green for Pure/Simple and white for Lightning Helix and then throw in all the excellent red hybrid cards. You will be amazed how efficient such a deck will be.

One of the other aggro options I must mention is Red/White. It has so many nice creatures such as Figure of Destiny (the best one drop in the format) or Brion Stoutarm or their liege Balefire Liege. And I should also mention the amazing planeswalker Ajani Vengeant, who is also the backbone of Red/White decks.

You can also try three color decks for sure. Green/Red/White Zoo decks are the choice of  every aggro player in all the formats. Even though we don't have the best creatures of Zoo decks in Kaleidoscope such as Kird Ape or Tarmogoyf or Wild Nacatl, it is still possible to go down the beatdown route with Woolly Thoctar, Figure of Destiny and Tattermunge Maniac. But keep in mind that the format is totally lacking the best direct damage cards a Zoo deck plays. The only such card is Lightning Helix and that fact might cause a problem.

And finally one of the decks I tried was a Bant deck. It is very powerful with the additional reinforcements it gets from Ravnica. A deck that plays creatures like Tattermunge Maniac, Watchwolf, Rhox War Monk, Loxodon Hierarch and Rafiq of the Many is not something to be taken lightly. 


This type of decks are currently my favorites. If you see me online testing a deck these days, be sure that I'm testing this or that kind of Aggro/Control deck. Currently there are three Aggro/Control decks that I think are worth mentioning; Blue/Green (as usual), Red/White/Blue (as usual) and White/Black (again as usual).

Blue/Green is always the best color combination for midgame aggro decks. This type of deck plays very powerful creatures as well as counter spells. And combine this strategy with their liege Murkfiend Liege and Overbeing of Myth, you might as well have the winning formula.

But my current favorite these days is not Blue/Green but it is White/Black. Check this one out: 


This is something I'm still testing with a few cards missing here and there (mostly the mana base). The idea is to control the early stages of the game with many great hand disturbing cards like Castigate and Tidehollow Sculler and then remove all that's on table with removal cards seen in the deck, and then hit the opponent with an army led by Deathbringer Liege. This liege itself is another way to remove creatures by the way. And with that many removal available, the path to the opponent will always be clear.

I'm also trying the same deck with Red added as a third color. I added Red because of cards like Blightning, Ajani Vengeant, Lightning Helix and the mighty finisher Oros, the Avenger.

And finally you may also try Blue with this deck for mainly Trial/Error and Esper Charm.



I find it very interesting but the majority of players I played against so far were playing 5 color control decks. I say that I find it interesting because for me that is a courageous choice considering the lack of good Mass Removal cards.

I have seen many variations but the main cards were all the same; Trial/Error, Voidslime plus all sorts of Spot Removal and also some Mass Removal such as Crime/Punishment or the "mini wrath" Firespout, and then Shadowmage Infiltrator for card drawing as well as Esper Charm (some also play Consult the Necrosages), and as finishers Cruel Ultimatum and Broodmate Dragon (or some play Simic Sky Swallower instead of the dragon) with Kitchen Finks coming from the sideboard against fast aggro decks.

I haven't tried such a deck myself but I have another control deck here for you. Were you around during Ravnica block? If you were, then you should have some fond (or bitter) memories of Firemane Angel/Searing Meditation decks. Now dear readers, that deck is back again with Green added for a little bit of Nayan flavor. 


Control does not always mean "counter everything". You should know this if you ever played this deck (or played against this deck) during the good old Ravnica days. This deck, just like in the old days, destroys every threat played by the opponent and then wins by the Firemane Angel - Searing Meditation lock. A Tamanoa or a Balefire Liege even speeds up the process. 


Okay dear readers, I promised you deck ideas and I talked about plenty. I promised you decklists and there are sufficient. I promised you a list of cards to watch out and you have it. What else did I promise you? I promised you Alara Reborn! Oh yes, indeed I did.

There are some very good MTG websites where you can follow the latest "Rumor Mills". I am not a person who likes to wait until the last day and who don't even read preview articles on magicthegathering.com. No, on the contrary I'm a very curious person. Therefore I always follow those Rumor Mills. And just fresh from one of those Rumor Mills, I have some cards that you might find interesting.

Guess what's coming back to town:


I can hear many of you saying "I KNEW IT!!". Of course you thought about it. You thought that it makes perfect sense. You thought that Terminate would fit perfectly in Alara Reborn. But know you know it for sure. Terminate, one of the meanest Common in Magic's recent history, is back.

Now if you calmed down and ready for more, I have one final piece for you. A card, that will be a staple in Kaleidoscope for years to come. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Knight of New Alara:


And here's the translation:

Knight of New Alara

Creature - Human Knight

Each other multicolored creature you control gets +1/+1 for each of its colors.



Quite amazing eh? This new knight is very similar to the Reaper King avatar we have for Vanguard format. Actually the game text of them both is almost the same.

Even though Knight of New Alara is a mere 2/2 for four mana, the advantage it gives to aggro decks is huge. If you played the Reaper King avatar in vanguard, you definately know what I'm talking about. With this guy on table you will have some very funny(!) creatures lurking around. Such as a 4/4 Murderous Redcap. Such as a 7/7 Broodmate Dragon. Such as a 3/3 Zealous Guardian!

Or maybe you are even more greedy. Maybe you would like to have some even bigger creatures on your side of the table. Then how about the Nephilims from Dissension? How about Dune-Brood Nephilim? How about my favorite Nephilim Yore-Tiller Nephilim?

Not big enough for you? Okay, then how about Fusion Elemental? Or Maelstrom Archangel? Or how about this one:

A 8/8 for a mere four mana... Hmm... How should I describe this? Crazy? Ridiculous? Sick? All of them? Yeah, probably it is all of them.

Okay dear readers. That's all I have for you this time. I hoped you enjoyed this colorful ride as much as I enjoyed preparing it. Remember, until Kaleidoscope will be an official format, the best place to get games started is /join Kaleidoscope.

Thanks for reading.

See you online
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman


Awesome by under_the_hammer at Sat, 04/04/2009 - 03:33
under_the_hammer's picture

Great content - You have obviously worked hard not only on the format but on the content and presentation of his article. It looks very professional and was an informative and enjoyable read. Well done on a good job. I look forward to Part 3 of this series!

Oversoul of Dusk by Rerepete at Sat, 04/04/2009 - 13:20
Rerepete's picture

Terminate, although a great card, still doesn't get rid of Oversoul of Dusk....maybe they will have some sort of Plague type of card, what with all the different shards coming together...

Great article though.

Thanks for the by Lord Erman at Sat, 04/04/2009 - 13:49
Lord Erman's picture

Thanks for the comments.

According to the rumors, there will be a Black/Blue Evacuation variant in Alara Reborn but from what I've seen that card won't see play outside of drafts or sealed(because it is a horrible card for constructed play). But maybe there is something else, who knows.

Therefore many players (me included) started playing with Hit/Run in the main deck and Mercy Killing in the sideboard. You simply kill/destroy/remove from the game everything else and then Hit/Run the remaining problem. Sometimes it is an Oversoul of Dusk and sometimes it is a Simic Sky Swallower (by the way, Hit/Run for SSS means not only bye-bye to the beast but also it is 7 damage for 3 mana).


Best removal black-blue have by Anonymous (not verified) at Sun, 04/05/2009 - 15:06
Anonymous's picture

Best removal black-blue have is agony warp...and black-red gets destroy with no regenerate for the same two mana?
it,s BS if you ask me,granted it,s blue so it should be weaker...and more defensive but green got card draw white got counters black got lifelink so why not give blue a good removal?

because the wizards anti-blue by blandestk at Sun, 04/05/2009 - 16:05
blandestk's picture

because the wizards anti-blue campaign has been marching steadily onward for many years now.

you,re being sarcastic by Anonymous (not verified) at Sun, 04/05/2009 - 17:35
Anonymous's picture

you,re being sarcastic right?i mean faeries have dominated standard for over a year now,but yes cards like vulcanic fallout(a pathetic card that could,ve as well been called "kill all faeries and punish the blossom user")and banefire say clearly that "faeries must die"
fallout is a laughable card seriously.