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By: AJ_Impy, AJ Richardson
Jul 29 2009 9:35am
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Welcome once again, readers, browsers, skimmers and those who clicked the wrong link. This week, we'll be looking at some of the other cards that form part of a 10-card megacycle across Shadowmoor and Eventide. With the sets a few short months from rotating out of Standard, prices have been falling, and  the budget-minded kaleidoscope player can pluck up a handful very cheaply indeed. But first, let's take a look at the full cycle of evasive, powerful beat-sticks, of which some have seen play at the top tables:

Oversoul of Dusk Godhead of Awe Ghastlord of Fugue Demigod of Revenge Deus of Calamity
Divinity of Pride Deity of Scars Overbeing of Myth Dominus of Fealty Nobilis of War

Other writers on this site have highlighted one of the best threats in the format, the nigh-untouchable Oversoul of Dusk, whereas Demigod of Revenge and Deus of Calamity have both seen play in all-in red decks in Extended. Some of the blue ones have occasionally been used in Sanity Grinding decks, usually just because of their mana cost. But what else do we have there? Some effects are unique, others less so. Deus of Calamity is akin to Numot, the Devastator in effect and size, whereas Ghastlord of Fugue can look down the scale at Tidehollow Sculler and Inkfathom Infiltrator or up to Mindleech Mass.Demigod of Revenge lies close to Bladewing the Risen or Sharuum the Hegemon in its come-into-play Zombify, with Blitz Hellion, Horde of Notions and Lightning Reaver matching it in hasty evasive damage for 5 mana, whereas the Nobilis of War is a more evasive Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran. You can compare Divinity of Pride to Sphinx of the Steel Wind, or the Oversoul to Progenitus in terms of their effects. Deity of Scars is not the only huge regenerator, compared to Vagrant Plowbeasts, or the only huge trampler, nor is it unique in doing both thanks to Hellkite Overlord.

What, then, is unique? Overbeing of Myth is the only Maro in the format, and I hear one-sided Howling Mines are good. Dominus of Fealty provides our only Confiscate, or more accurately Word of Seizing, the only way of stealing noncreature permanents in play. Perhaps the most singluar effect is that of Godhead of Awe, a quasi- Humility without the 'loses all abilities' clause. Has anyone else noticed how many creatures are useful in Kaleidoscope solely because of their exceptional power or toughness? Let's see how well they do when we take them away.

Wrath-head Of-head

Let's start with that humbling 4/4 flyer. We're aiming to get the game into a state where being turned into 1/1s really doesn't matter for our side but completely wrecks the opposition. There are a couple of optimal solutions here: +1/+1 counters and mass -1/-1 effects. Counters on our own creatures aren't affected by the Godhead, giving us an easy, permanent means of outclassing our opponent. On top of that, if we build to be ready for our opponent having nothing but one toughness, we can do something practically unthinkable in Kaleidoscope and have a perfect, one-sided wrath that effects every creature our opponent runs. Our obvious starters are the deadly duo of Orzhov Pontiff and his Zealous Persecution, but less obvious is Deathbringer Thoctar, with the 6-mana 3/3 able to trade +1/+1/ counters for 1/1 creatures until none remain, or else becoming supersized after a single mass removal. A cheaper, more limited version is Blood Cultist: This pinger left unchecked can become a sizable late game threat, and is a virtual Avatar of Woe with the Godhead in play.

Orzhov Pontiff Zealous Persecution Blood Cultist Deathbringer Thoctar

It helps if we can get some creatures on the field that can actually go toe to toe with the opposition if our Godhead of Awe hides in the library or heads to the Graveyard, and so we round out our creature selection with Lorescale Coatl and Plaxcaster Frogling. The graft creature is especially synergetic here, jumpstarting our Thoctar or protecting our Godhead, which in turn provides it with a boost up from a 0/0 base. Another useful synergy component is Electrolyze, which is an almost guaranteed to be a 3 for 1 with Godhead of Awe in play, but still acts as cantripped removal without it, speeding up any Coatl growth in the mean time. We round out the deck with Terminate, because not everything has to rely on the Godhead to kill things.
 

My Godhead, it's full of 1/1s...
Kaleidoscope Godhead of Awe synergy deck
Creatures
4 Blood Cultist
4 Deathbringer Thoctar
4 Godhead of Awe
4 Lorescale Coatl
4 Orzhov Pontiff
4 Plaxcaster Frogling
24 cards

Other Spells
4 Electrolyze
4 Terminate
4 Zealous Persecution
12 cards
 
Lands
4 Exotic Orchard
4 Jungle Shrine
4 Pillar of the Paruns
3 Steam Vents
3 Watery Grave
3 Sacred Foundry
3 Godless Shrine
24 cards

 
Electrolyze


The deck's lynchpin is its weak spot: take out the Godhead of Awe and a lot of synergy goes down with it. Try to protect it with the frog if you can. It's also your only flier. If you can get a Godhead of Awe to stick, your opponent is in a terrible position. Try and sop up removal with your early drops. The deck trumps Persist, and also is very strong against massed tokens: Sprouting Thrinax loses its post-mortem passengers to more than a quarter of your deck. Land-wise, every single land in the deck produces W or U in order to facilitate the Godhead, but feel free to downgrade to cheaper lands with that caveat in mind. For sideboarding, the heavy blue manabase gives us space for Double Negative to deal with the Bloodbraid Elf, Bituminous Blast, Enlisted Wurm brigade, and Odds/Ends, which I heartily recommend as a sideboard card due to the versatility of either side.

Draw, Partner

We turn our attentions to a deck which relies on cards in hand to smash face, built around Overbeing of Myth. As the only Maro-type card in the format, we need to keep our grip full, because drawing more cards enables us to deal more damage. This principle is at the heart of the deck: Half the creatures are Ophidians, the other half translate cards into damage through one means or another. At the forefront of both plans is the Overbeing, but beside it we go for the reptilian duo of Lorescale Coatl and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind. With every card drawn making the Coatl bigger, or generating more damage from the dragon, this can soon get very silly.

Overbeing of Myth Lorescale Coatl Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

That's how we utilize our card draw to kill our opponent, but it then becomes a question of how we draw the necessary cards. I mentioned ophidians earlier, and Kaleidoscope is blessed with some of the best. Jon Finkel leads the line, Shadowmage Infiltrator evading through fear. Supporting him is the islandwalking Cold-Eyed Selkie, lethal against the blue Ravnica duals, and the hits-the-table-early Vedalken Heretic. The one problem with all of these is their low power and relative fragility, both problems solved by a solution rarely seen in Kaleidoscope: Equipment. We run a brace each of Demonspine Whip and Unscythe, Killer of Kings. The former enables any of our 1-power creatures to be a threat, the latter enables any of ours to block favorably with a Loxodon Hierarch or Woolly Thoctar, and get a 2/2 zombie token out of the deal. In either case, they are frightening on a Cold-Eyed Selkie: Drawing X+1 cards for X mana is outstandingly good value, as is 4 for free, especially in a deck with so much potential for abuse. Given that we may be drawing a lot of card, we can just about squeeze in a brace of Reliquary Tower to avoid having to discard.

Shadowmage Infiltrator Cold-Eyed Selkie Vedalken Heretic

On to our removal suite: The key factor here is killing and drawing. Snakeform replaces itself and denies the opposition the increasingly popular recourse of generating tokens on death or persisting, and can change an evasive lethal Spellbound Dragon into an easily blockable 1/1. At the higher end of the scale, we run a full playset of Twisted Justice: Most creatures played in the format have at least three power, and denying the opponent one of them, in conjunction with an Ancestral Recall's payoff, is definitely worth it. Topping the curve at one more mana is a brace of Cruel Ultimatum, a card whose back-breaking properties are well documented and still incredibly good fun. Getting 4 cards in your hand for one, of which three are drawn, is a good way to end your opponent quickly with this deck.

Quick on the draw and doesn't myth the target
Kaleidoscope Overbeing of Myth card advantage deck
Creatures
4 Cold-Eyed Selkie
4 Lorescale Coatl
2 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
4 Overbeing of Myth
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
4 Vedalken Heretic
22 cards

Other Spells
2 Cruel Ultimatum
2 Demonspine Whip
4 Snakeform
4 Twisted Justice
2 Unscythe, Killer of Kings
14 cards
 
Lands
4 Exotic Orchard
3 Overgrown Tomb
4 Pillar of the Paruns
2 Reliquary Tower
4 Steam Vents
3 Stomping Ground
4 Watery Grave
24 cards

 
Twisted Justice


The deck tends to lose quickly if your opponent is one of those rare souls running a mill deck, and much of your card draw can die to Firespout or Bituminous Blast. But still, the deck is solid, and your opponent had better deal with the early draw swiftly, because the late game draw is even worse. The equipment offers a little Hit/Run insurance also. In terms of sideboard, more removal on the one hand, with perhaps a few counters to safeguard your deck on the other against heavy control builds. A set of Trial/Error, Mystic Snake Odds/Ends and a few Void would give you plenty of options.

Take what you like, give nothing back

Our final deck for the week brings up the Dominus of Fealty, whose gaining control and hasting of any permanent for a turn is unique in Kaleidoscope, and matched outside of it only by Word of Seizing. Now, repeated gaining control of our opponent's best unshrouded permanent is one thing, but denying him its use is the other. To that end, we need beneficial sacrifice effects, which are somewhat thin on the ground, especially at the cheaper end of the curve. The best is probably Scarland Thrinax, which ensures our creatures take a one-way trip. But what about noncreatures? Gruul Guildmage couples a decent early body with a useful pump effect, topped off with the capability to throw our opponent's lands at his head. If we drop the Dominus against an empty board, we'll have the mana to play and activate the guildmage next turn, taking the opponent's best land in addition to the five we cast the spirit avatar. One other way to ensure our opponent keeps losing out on creatures is to use the upkeep trigger on one of our own permanents, namely Merieke Ri Berit. With a brace of the practically unspellable legend, we can ensure that what our opponent plays is ours and ours alone.

You're not getting it back.
Gruul Guildmage Merieke Ri Berit Scarland Thrinax

We can supplement this theme with Slave of Bolas, the last word in one-way temporary theft, and at the very top of the curve, with Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker himself. Now, we need to flesh out our deck and add more removal, and we could do with some card advantage. Let's add some of the best cards in the format, Bloodbraid Elf, Bituminous Blast, Enlisted Wurm and Terminate.The cascade chain helps to dig out some of our key cards, especially the hard to cast three-drops, as well as doing their usual 'playing cards for free' tricks. The deck has a fairly high curve, but is reasonably consistent.

Borrowed it and broke it
Kaleidoscope Dominus of Fealty theft deck
Creatures
2 Merieke Ri Berit
4 Gruul Guildmage
4 Scarland Thrinax
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Dominus of Fealty
4 Enlisted Wurm
22 cards

Other Spells
2 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
4 Terminate
4 Slave of Bolas
4 Bituminous Blast
14 cards
 
Lands
4 Exotic Orchard
4 Pillar of the Paruns
4 Savage Lands
3 Sacred Foundry
3 Steam Vents
3 Stomping Ground
3 Blood Crypt
24 cards

 
Slave of Bolas


For sideboard options, the deck is relatively weak against shroud. A set of Hit/Run and Odds/Ends gives us a way around that, and possibly Thopter Foundry if you're against an artifact based Esper deck. For a budget mana base, the trilands are probably the way to go, each of the red ones, and possibly Rupture Spire.

And so we draw the curtain on another article, so here's a few starters for the commentators. Are there any other unique effects in the format that you feel aren't getting exploited? Do you feel that the format's 'best deck' has been defined, or is there still plenty of variation? How many new cards will the format see over the next year, and how many of them will be nonlands? Until next week, always keep an eye out for something breakable.