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By: AJ_Impy, AJ Richardson
Apr 20 2009 9:44am
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Welcome, gentle readers all. In my time testing myriad Kaleidoscope decks in recent days, I've come across a broad range of opinions on what is and isn't legal. If you want to master a format, you need to know exactly what lies within the rules, and what doesn't. Here are some of the misapprehensions I've come across.:

'The format is multicolored only, no Hybrid'. No, it isn't. If a nonland card has more than one color, it is legal to play in the format. It doesn't matter how it meets that criterion: Assault/Battery is both red and green, even though it is only one color when cast. Ghostflame Sliver is legal even though it is colorless in play. Transguild Courier is legitimate as it has characteristic-setting text valid in all zones. The only Hybrid cards that don't qualify are Beseech the Queen, Flame Javelin, Tower Above, Spectral Procession and Advice from the Fae. The only Splits that don't qualify are Boom/Bust, Rough/Tumble and Dead/Gone.

All good:
Assault/Battery Transguild Courier Reaper King
No good:
boom/bust Glittering Wish Beseech the Queen

'Lands need to be multicolored, no lands that produce only one color'. There are no restrictions whatsoever on lands in the format. Want to play wih all basics? Go ahead. Monocolor? Nothing is stopping you. The Cloudpost-Vesuva engine? The Urzatron? Feel free. This one is also wrong as all lands but one are inherently colorless.

'Lands with other types aren't allowed'. This refers to seven cards in extended directly, the Artifact Lands such as Darksteel Citadel or Seat of the Synod, and the creature land Dryad Arbor. There are no restrictions on land cards, even if they share another type. The same goes for manlands such as Mutavault or Forbidding Watchtower, and the land artifact creatures Stalking Stones and Blinkmoth Nexus. All lands are valid and usable.

Retrace your steps across the land

Now, speaking of lands, here's a little deck I've been working on recently. It is largely immune to discard, never runs out of spells, is resilient against counters, has some pretty impressive acceleration, and the popular Hit/Run is near-useless against it. On the down side, the only removal it has is swarming the opposition, or taking out Legends. It includes three of the best mana acceleration cards in the format, and your choice of a horde of 1/1s or 2/2s, a 5/5 flyer, or the best creature on either side of the table every turn. Other oddities include the only legal morph in the entire format and far more lands than would be usual or sane. Does it work? hell yes.

Give me land, lots of land
4 Wild Cantor
4 Coiling Oracle
8 cards

Other Spells
4 Worm Harvest
4 Spitting Image
4 Call the Skybreaker
12 cards
9 Forest
9 Island
4 Bant Panorama
4 Novijen, Heart of Progress
4 Simic Growth Chamber
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Zoetic Cavern
2 Gemstone Caverns
40 cards

0 cards
Zoetic Cavern


40 lands?! I'm going to have to ask you to trust me on that one, largely because at most 8 or so of them are lands, and the remainder are your choice of retraced creature token makers. Terramorphic Expanse and Bant Panorama are useful starter cards for Worm Harvest as well as fixing. Coiling Oracle will most often act as a Rampant Growth on a body, Wild Cantor acts as an early pest against control (Would you want to spend a piece of removal on it?), a chump against aggro or acceleration, all of them much needed elements. Zoetic Cavern is the most intriguing addition, as the deck plays to its strengths: As you're unlikely to miss a land drop, the lone morph acts as an ersatz one-shot Fertilid as well as soaking up removal. Seeing Lightning Helix or Mortify fizzle against a land, or a Woolly Thoctar get chumped whilst you accelerate is worth the price of admission. With all three providing both bodies and mana for the early game, you start dropping hordes of tokens in the midgame. Novijen, Heart of Progress is your value added land: When you're putting three or more tokens into play from Worm Harvest, making them all bears is a real headache for your adversary. Going into the long game, if necessary it can make your Call the Skybreaker tokens big enough to take down a Planar Chaos dragon legend or the unsolvable Simic Sky Swallower, although that particular battle makes me feel sorry for the sky. Spitting Image is an expensive but effective Hero's Demise, the best creature your opponent has or a cheaper Call the Skybreaker. The deck has a couple of glaring vulnerabilities: Jund Charm, whilst rarely played, has the option of purging the graveyard, and the most powerful non-creature permanents can give this deck conniptions. Nonetheless, it's remarkably fun to play as your army grows inexorably larger right as your rival runs out of steam.

Army of Pingers

Rakdos Ickspitter Gelectrode Blood Cultist

An experimetal burn deck, marrying the best of the cheap burn spells with hordes upon hordes of Tim's relatives. Surprisingly effective against aggro, especially if you can get a Gelectrode to stick. almost every card can act as removal, either individually or cumulatively. The deck is base red: You will always be able to land a turn one Assault/Battery to fend off Figure of Destiny, Tattermunge Maniac or other one-drop. Between Lightning Helix, Blightning, Gelectrode, Electrolyze and, if you'll forgive the pun, Assault/Battery, there's a bit of an electric subtheme. Shocking, I know.Poison the Well is in to help disrupt any shaky manabases and trigger the Gelectrodes. As you might expect, the deck suffers against sweepers, and rolls over and dies to Void for three. Blood Cultist and Rakdos Ickspitter both convert damage to creatures into damage to players, the one more immediately than the other.

Lightning Ping
Repeatable burn for fun and profit
4 Rakdos Ickspitter
4 Blood Cultist
4 Gelectrode
12 cards

Other Spells
4 Lightning Helix
4 Blightning
4 Electrolyze
4 Assault/Battery
4 Hit/Run
20 cards
2 Battlefield Forge
2 Shivan Reef
2 Sulfurous Springs
2 Gemstone Caverns
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents
4 Blood Crypt
4 Rupture Spire
24 cards

0 cards


Strike first, strike best

Barkshell Blessing Rally the Righteous Balefire Liege

One of the main things in any successful deck is good synergy between your key components, elements that work well together. Last week, I gave a quick (literally) example of a Gruul deck based on haste: This one, Boros, is geared more towards first and double strike. It renders attacking or blocking a nightmarish proposition, and is capable of a win on turn four: Turn 1 Boros Recruit, turn 2 Boros Swiftblade or Battlegate Mimic, turn 3 Hearthfire Hobgoblin, and turn 4 the synergistic combo of Rally the Righteous and Barkshell Blessing. The Rally untaps all your creatures, enabling you to tap two to get 4 power out of 1 mana on the Barkshell via Conspire. Factor in your double strikers, and your opponent is looking at a very poor situation. The late game of the  deck is handled by Balefire Liege: If it stalemates on the ground or your opponent gets a Teferi's Moat down, turning all your spells into Lightning Helix and adding +2/+2 to all your strikers should win you the game in short order. The removal suite is Lightning Helix and Fire at Will: Either one can enable a humble Boros Recruit to kill a (Wooly Thoctar) and still be standing. For that matter, either of your pump spells will let you take out a Boggart Ram-Gang, Watchwolf, Scab-Clan Mauler or anything smaller without risk, with any of your creatures. The deck is vulnerable to sweepers and fliers, but if your opponent doesn't keep an eye on his defence, you can win out of nowhere, starting an attack with humble 1- and 2- power creatures, finishing it with multiple 5- and 6-power creatures. With double strike.

An aggro deck that makes the most out of claiming first blood
4 Boros Recruit
4 Boros Swiftblade
4 Battlegate Mimic
4 Hearthfire Hobgoblin
4 Balefire Liege
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Barkshell Blessing
4 Lightning Helix
4 Rally the Righteous
4 Fire at Will
16 cards
8 Mountain
8 Plains
4 Battlefield Forge
4 Sacred Foundry
24 cards

0 cards
Hearthfire Hobgoblin

That's all I've got for you this time, but with Alara Reborn leaking out and being previewed, we can look to the future and see what bizzare oddities we can unleash on the format. Until then, may you always have the lands you need, and never the lands you don't.


Great series AJ by Scartore at Mon, 04/20/2009 - 10:23
Scartore's picture

Love this series, I've seen your boros dec in action and its fun to watch.
One thing I've noticed playing around in k-scope, until a viable control deck is put together a lot of people are paying way too much for their manabases. The deck I'm playing with right now is BR Blightning aggro and I love it whenever somebody pays 2 life for their mana! Do my work for me thanx! With a paucity of 1 drops, I think the shocklands and the painlands are being way overused.

I like the first concept a by LOurs at Tue, 04/21/2009 - 08:25
LOurs's picture

I like the first concept a lot, very original and it could be effective in this format indeed. Assuming the deck is a budget deck, maybe you could add 1 or 2 Urami tomb (nice to put a 5/5 creature in play and the drawback isnt harmful because you got the perfect deck to replace destroyed lands and especialy good to lauch a big worm harvest offensive). I would also consider Kher Keep to give a fast little defense against quick agression :)

In both of the others decks, i think this little common card from reborn would fit very well into them :

Bolt of Intimidation - 1RW
Instant (Uncommon)
Bolt of Intimidation deals 3 damage to target creature. Other creatures can't attack this turn.

I like the look of Bolt of Intimidation... by AJ_Impy at Tue, 04/21/2009 - 15:28
AJ_Impy's picture

It has unforeseen implications for multiplayer formats as a political utility or ally assist, as well as being removal and a seriously impressive tempo tool.

Legality by Sensei at Wed, 04/22/2009 - 10:03
Sensei's picture

I haven't played this format since I built a few decks following the announcement of prizes in this format. So I haven't encountered the arguments/disputes about legality of certain cards. Must be funny, I'd imagine.

I look forward to playing this format in the tournament practice room 4/29 onward. I felt bad crushing players who didn't have Paruns, or sometimes, any rares at all in the casual room.

Sideboards? by Etherealuk at Wed, 04/22/2009 - 15:36
Etherealuk's picture

Loving the articles and focus on the new format. I'm getting quite excited myself. :)
Just wondered what sort of thing is likely to be in the sideboards for the decks, especially the U/G Retrace deck. Have been playing it (as you saw) and loving it. Some comment on the kind of sideboard cards for the format would be useful though.

Cheers again, awesome article. :)

Sideboards depend on the metagame... by AJ_Impy at Thu, 04/23/2009 - 02:32
AJ_Impy's picture

...and as yet the metagame is embryonic. Much of my article output to date has focused more on Tribal Classic, a format without sideboards: I've gotten used to not including them. For the U/G deck, Kitchen Finks would be an option against aggro, Guttural Response against control, Trygon Predator against Esper decks or Teferi's Moat.

hi by Anonymous (not verified) at Mon, 05/04/2009 - 20:54
Anonymous's picture

Nice article, but it would more informative if you could create a build or suggest other cards vs. aggro...kscope aggro is a beast these days. Please let us know thanks.