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By: AJ_Impy, AJ Richardson
Jun 17 2009 11:00pm
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Welcome, gentle readers. As you might imagine, this has been quite a good week for me, and I have been asked to share with you a little about the winning deck from the Kaleidoscope budget deckbuilding contest. The real challenge here is trying to come up with something useful, helpful and informative rather than appearing as an arrogant vanity article, so feel free to let me know if I succeeded or failed in that in the comments.

Onto the deck itself: An effectively two-colored green-blue concoction, it was submitted for the contest prior to the release of Alara Reborn, thus missed out on Vedalken Heretic, Winged Coatl, Nulltread Gargantuan, Lorescale Coatl and Sages of the Anima. Given the budget nature of the contest, the most likely includes would have been the Lorescale Coatls, although what they would have replaced is another matter. It truly is a budget deck, coming in at just over 15 tickets, around half of which are the Kitchen Finks. Cytoshape costs less than a ticket for the playset, with the only other significant cost being the Seaside Citadels.

Ouphe, I did it Again
Kaleidoscope 4-rare budget deck
Creatures
4 Shorecrasher Mimic
4 Coiling Oracle
4 Gilder Bairn
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Vigean Hydropon
4 Plaxcaster Frogling
4 Trygon Predator
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Cytoshape
4 Snakeform
8 cards
 
Lands
4 Forest
4 Island
4 Simic Growth Chamber
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Novijen, Heart of Progress
4 Seaside Citadel
24 cards

 
Novijen, Heart of Progress

 

All well and good, but what does it do?

The deck is fairly flexible, in that it always has some game against the rest of the format. It can go for the early beatdown win with Shorecrasher Mimic on turn two, followed by a stream of efficient creatures. In one game, I won with mimic on two, Vigean Hydropon on three, swing for 5, Cytoshape the hydropon into a mimic on four, swing for 12, opponent concedes on three life. Alternately, there's the long game, using Vigean Hydropon, Plaxcaster Frogling or Novijen, Heart of Progress to break the deck's Ouphes, Kitchen Finks and Gilder Bairn. An infinite Kitchen Finks is a significant problem, although you're more likely to see it in green-white alongside (Juniper-Order Ranger) and Heartmender. Gilder Bairn is another matter, and one of the biggest threats the deck can muster. Get one counter on it, and it attacks as a vigilant 3/5 the following turn, 5/7 the turn after, and 9/11 the turn after that. If you attack with it and multiple other counter-laden threats, blocking becomes a nightmare for your opponent.

Kitchen Finks Gilder Bairn

Evasion for the deck comes primarily from two sources, activated Shorecrasher Mimics trampling and the utility flying beast, Trygon Predator. The Predator also serves as your way past Teferi's Moat, leading the charge like a forlorn hope into the breach of a fortress wall to let the rest of your forces through. It's a nightmare for heavy Esper decks, and anyone relying on borderposts is in for a rude awakening. The fun part comes in when you add Cytoshape to the mix: Turning a Hydropon into a 7/8 flier that kills artifacts is fun, as is turning a Shorecrasher Mimic into a flying, trampling 5/3 naturalizer. A note on the interaction between the mimic and the two utility spells: the 5/3 trample will override almost any other size setting criteria, save counters. If you hit a mimic with Snakeform, it can successfully block Oversoul of Dusk. This gets interesting when your opponent has effects that rely on the amount of damage dealt, such as Lifelink, Wither, Glint-Eye Nephilim or Cold-Eyed Selkie.

Shorecrasher Mimic Trygon Predator

The most versatile cards in the deck are Cytoshape and Snakeform. Prior to the release of Winged Coatl, they were just about the only Kaleidoscope-legal quasi-removal in the Simic arsenal. Cytoshape works best as removal alongside Plaxcaster Frogling or Vigean Hydropon, but it also works well with Shorecrasher Mimic, as the spell activates yours into a 5/3 even as it turns the opposing creature into a 2/1. Snakeform is a staple for killing an attacking or blocking creature in its colors, but it gets an extra lease of life as an Aggressive Urge for your graft creatures, Plaxcaster Frogling up to 4/4 and the hat rack to 6/6, with the added bonus of removing the inhibition from attacking or blocking. This also works with Cytoshape, as there are very few creatures that wouldn't be better with three or five extra +1/+1 counters. The other finesse trick is using Cytoshape to give a doomed creature persist: This works best with your graft creatures, as the -1/-1 counter is negated by the counters with which it comes back into play.

Cytoshape Snakeform

There is one phrase that this deck really doesn't want to hear: 'Void for three'. With the exception of the mimics and Coiling Oracles, this deck has just the one casting cost. Crime/Punishment can also exploit this for the same mana cost, but leaves your hand untouched. Sweepers on the whole are bad news, although being able to shuffle around counters and exploit persist lends a little extra resiliency. Against fliers, you need your Trygon Predators, preferably laden with counters, or alternately Cytoshape to turn one of yours into a copy of the attacking creature. Planeswalkers are a problem if you can't get through to deal damage, although one memorable event during testing was to have the countered up Trygon Predator that I was beating down with get locked down by Ajani Vengeant, only to be able to Cytoshape it into a Gilder Bairn and untap itself targetting itself. It got knocked down, but it got up again, to paraphrase the song. Spot removal is less of an issue if you have Plaxcaster Frogling and two mana handy.

Void Crime/Punishment

Yadda yadda, we get it, it's a good deck. How can that help us win next time?

We've covered what the deck is made of and how it plays, but not what the deck was made for. What makes a good contest-winning deck? It needs to always be able to do something, and be good at what it does. It needs to have a clear path to victory, but do fun and entertaining stuff on the way: The deck needs to put a smile on the face of the people that play it, and for extra credit, a smile on the faces of their defeated opponents. The whole should be more than the sum of the parts: A deck with good synergy, where every card fits together nicely, will lead to a more fun gameplay experience as you're constantly drawing cards that work well with what you have. The deck should feel like it meshes well with the criteria for the contest: In the case of budget deckbuilding, taking a cheap junk rare and making it pure gold in the context of your deck is frequently better than taking a rare widely acknowledged as being of the highest quality even outside of context.

Always, always playtest and refine decks you intend to enter into a contest, and see how it feels as you play it, as you work towards your chosen path to victory. Is it fun when it wins? Is it fun even when it loses? Do you ever feel helpless against certain threats or certain styles of play? Does it win enough in casual games? Can it survive against tournament-worthy decks? Question it every step along the way, but remember that you're optimising the deck to be likable, popular and fun. If it wins every game but is a joyless grind of clicking along the way, it might not catch the eye as much as a deck that invests its players more even if it wins less. That said, be true to the contest guidelines above all else, and adjust your expectations, and your build, accordingly.

A good gauge of a deck's suitability for a contest entry is your own enthusiasm towards it. Submit decks that you enjoy, and don't forget to explain why the deck is so enjoyable when you submit it. If the judges are aware of what you see in it, they know what to look out for. It can help to 'metagame' the contest, and think about what kind of decks are likely to be put forward and try to come up with something different, orignial, compelling and appealing.

I chose the deck I did because it was really, amazingly good fun to play. The original idea was born out of a few brainstorming conversations with fellow Kaleidoscope players as to what wild and unusual things were possible in the format, and the mental image of sending Vigean Hydropon rampaging across the battlefield for the win was appealing to me. If the contest hadn't existed, I would have gladly stuck it in an edition of this very column, though probably with slightly less written about it.

I hope all this is helpful the next time there's a similar contest, be it here, on the official site or its messageboards, or somewhere else entirely. Having seen the overall quality of the decks in the top ten, and the sheer number of the decks submitted into the contest as a whole, it's a humbling experience. Until next time, may you win what you enter, or failing that have a damned good time trying.

34 Comments

Congratulations again on by Dr_TRex at Wed, 06/17/2009 - 23:54
Dr_TRex's picture
5

Congratulations again on winning. Great deck too. I can still remember getting steam-rolled by Gilderbairn more times than I thought possible :P

Congrats on the win once by Lord Erman at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 00:57
Lord Erman's picture
5

Congrats on the win once again. It sure looks fun to play as well as fun to play against as you also said. Good job.

LE

hooray. by whiffy at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 01:23
whiffy's picture
5

good job, grats, and all that.
and this was a fun albeit short article and I thought that you were very humble and succeeded in not being arrogant or vain.

Congratulation to have won by LOurs at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 03:31
LOurs's picture
5

Congratulation to have won the contest ! Your deck is a crazy good budget build, and it very deserves the victory.
If i well remember, i played vs you when you were testing it. I was running a really non-budget deck : my Krock deck (read Kscope rock) fully powered with some of the best removal of the format (pulse, putrefy ...) and some other good stuff like Doran in example ... and i was defeated 2-0 without any contest. I was surprised by the incredible synergy your deck was providing to you, and by the way your removed many of my threat really easly with some cards i didnt really considered as useful before.
I really enjoyed the way you were using some "lost" cards to make them really potent in your build. Plus you perfectly piloted it for the win.

Once again, congratulation AJ !

Looks a nice deck to play AJ, by Flippers_Giraffe (not verified) at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 08:49
Flippers_Giraffe's picture

Looks a nice deck to play AJ, well done on the win.

Effovex's picture

"A note on the interaction between the mimic and the two utility spells: the 5/3 trample will override almost any other size setting criteria, save counters. If you hit a mimic with Snakeform, it can successfully block Oversoul of Dusk."

The oversoul has protection from blue. You can't snakeform it and you can't block it with a shorecrasher mimic. It's also rather unclear with your description what you are targetting with the snakeform.

I think he might be referring to by chamblin (not verified) at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 10:29
chamblin's picture

Targeting the Mimic with the Snakeform, which will turn it into a 5/3 green snake, which can trade with Oversoul of Dusk.

But it will be a 1/1 snake by Effovex at Fri, 06/19/2009 - 11:31
Effovex's picture

You play snakeform targetting the mimic, the mimic becomes 5/3, then the snakeform resolves and turns the mimic into a 1/1 green snake. You can block the oversoul but not trade with it.

the 5/3 overrides the 1/1 by quetzilla at Sat, 06/20/2009 - 02:33
quetzilla's picture

the 5/3 overrides the 1/1 because of layering rules or something. Try it in a game and see.

...layering, right by Effovex at Sat, 06/20/2009 - 09:12
Effovex's picture

There is no layering involved here, both effects try to set the P/T to a specific number, which obviously happens in the same layer, so the latest effect is the one that affects the creature. Which is why I never considered "target the mimic with snakeform" to be the play AJ advocated - it seemed to much easier to forget that the oversoul has protection from blue than to mess up on the fact that the mimic will end up a 1/1.

I did try it in game, just to see if there was a bug in-game. There isn't. The mimic ended up as a 1/1 green snake.

The actual play should probably be to hit the hydropond with the snakeform to kill the oversoul. Which works and doesn't even require a trade if the hydropond still has all its counters.

You missed the point you by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 10:32
Anonymous's picture

You missed the point you target your mimic w/ the Snakeform, so it's a greem sanke, and can block the Oversoul to stop dame to you. As an added trick you could turn a Mimic into a Kitchen Fink using Cytoshape, and block the Oversoul. I'd be so tempted to add just one card to the mix Fate Transfer.

Good contest and congratz to by draconias at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 12:39
draconias's picture

Good contest and congratz to winners.

Shorecrasher Mimic + Snakeform by Klutz (not verified) at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 17:47
Klutz's picture

If you target Shorecrasher Mimic with Snakeform, the Mimic's triggered ability goes on the stack on top of Snakeform. It resolves first, making the Mimic a 5/3 Trampler. Then Snakeform resolves, making the Mimic a 1/1 Snake with no abilities. How do you get a 5/3 mono-green Snake? Am I missing something?

Above post is correct, by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 18:40
Anonymous's picture

Above post is correct, also

"Cytoshape works best as removal alongside Plaxcaster Frogling or Vigean Hydropon, but it also works well with Shorecrasher Mimic, as the spell activates yours into a 5/3 even as it turns the opposing creature into a 2/1."

Both creatures will end up 5/3.

Nice deck. How often do you by GregAndThenSome (not verified) at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 22:05
GregAndThenSome's picture

Nice deck. How often do you use Ctyoshape as removal? Did you test out Mirroweave for one-sided wraths?

It varies depending on the by AJ_Impy at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 22:21
AJ_Impy's picture

It varies depending on the game state. I considered Mirrorweave, but I preferred the verstatility of the cheaper on-color option.

Not true. A copied Mimic has by AJ_Impy at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 22:09
AJ_Impy's picture

Not true. A copied Mimic has the capability to be activated, but won't be activated unless your opponent subesequently casts a spell in the relevant colors. As such, in the example given, your mimic has been activated and is 5/3, but theirs remains in its original state as a 2/1. I wouldn't have written it if I hadn't exploited it to good effect in the client. If you remain unconvinced, I invite you to test the interaction in the client, and if it appears inaccurate, to file a bug report.

Thanks by Paul Leicht at Thu, 06/18/2009 - 23:47
Paul Leicht's picture
5

Thanks for the more in-depth explanation. Fun deck... but not in a bad way. :) Congrats again on winning the budget contest. It is nice to see innovation and creativity rewarded so handsomely.

multiple factual errors by Doomhed (not verified) at Mon, 06/22/2009 - 12:54
Doomhed's picture

the oversoul does not need to be targeted by the cytoshape. you just slap it on a hydropon and convert the hydropon into another crature

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