AJ_Impy's picture
By: AJ_Impy, AJ Richardson
Jul 15 2009 10:35am
Login to post comments

Welcome, gentle readers, be you Spikes, Timmies, Johnnies or agnostics. Let's get started with the rapidly approaching core set. As with all core sets, there's a distinct lack of multicolored cards here, and the brief dalliance with legends in X is apparently at an end as well. Also out for the first time since 8th are the full set of painlands, although given our format is based on an Ext rotation, this is less of an issue. Whilst they will be changing the ext rotations so that the core set will move out with the following Autumn release, that will not arrive until 2010. This means that the lands only in 8th will no longer be available.

City of Brass Elfhame Palace Urborg Volcano
 Coastal Tower   Shivan Oasis   Salt Marsh

This will have very little effect on the format, even though we are losing an untapped multiland. the 8th taplands have been completely superceded twice, with the Coldsnap snow taplands and the Alara Trilands both strictly better in doing the same thing and offering more options. City of Brass has a fairly severe drawback for a format in which Bloodbraid Elf exists, but untapped mana of any color will be missed. What do we get in their stead? 'This enters the battlefield tapped unless you control X basic or Y basic. Tap: Add X or Y to your mana pool.' Wizards has been inordinately fond of preventing duals from being usable on turn one, and the new ones are no exception, requiring either basic lands or Ravnica duals of the appropriate type to be accessible. You won't be able to have four colors of mana to choose from on turn two with these things even if you do satisfy the criteria. (Sole exception: alongside Murmuring Bosk). In effect, this cycle is yet another one to supercede the outgoing 8th tapped duals. I could see a deck using them alongside the ravnica duals, especially a tight two- or three-color deck, or in a heavy basic deck (Less of an issue with Anathemancer banned). The problem is, marginally better than the 8th taplands as they are, this cycle is rare and will cost more.

This contributes to untapped mana of multiple colors on turn 1 being so expensive.
Graven Cairns Ancient Amphitheater Vivid Meadow

The other new card for Kaleidoscope is the new manland, Gargoyle Castle. 'Tap: add one colorless to your manapool.5, tap, sacrifice this: Put a 3/4 colorless Gargoyle artifact creature token with flying onto the battlefield'. This most reminds me of Stalking Stones: Same power, same activation cost. (With the stones you can tap it to help pay, with this tapping is required.) You trade being able to still tap for one and being a land (Which can be very relevant in dodging 'All nonland' sweepers, as this guy doesn't survive the new Akroma's Vengeance or Maelstrom Pulse) for flying, an extra point of toughness and always coming into existence untapped. On the one hand, it's a Pure/Simple-proof evasive beater that only fears Voidslime, on the other your deck will have lands that produce colorless mana, else spell slots dedicated to this. It lessens the impact of Hit/Run, but if you really want to trade a colorless land just for that then Darksteel Citadel is cheaper. The other difference between this and Stalking Stones is the rarity: This will be more expensive. In both cases, I reckon Urza's Factory, Call the Skybreaker or Worm Harvest will still remain the optimal late game land to creature generators in the format, with Mutavault and Treetop Village the favored manlands.

And now for something Completely Different

One of the strengths of Kaleidoscope is the power of its spot removal compared to global removal. Terminate, Pure/Simple, Maelstrom Pulse, Bituminous Blast, Putrefy, Unmake and more outshine the limited but potent effects of Void, Culling Sun, Din of the Fireherd and Teferi's Moat in always getting what you want them to get. It is a defining feature that each piece of targetted removal can affect any creature with very few limitations, whereas each sweeper effect is expensive, or doesn't hit every converted mana cost, or toughness, or creatures with certain abilities. Most decks carry at least some spot removal, most decks aren't entirely creatureless. How can we exploit the hell out of this by either blanking all our opponent's removal or turning it into a one-sided wrath in our favor?

Deft Duelist Ink-Treader Nephilim Simic Sky Swallower

The easiest and simplest way to say 'you can't touch me' is to use shroud: Both in its original flavor and in its more one-sided variation. The beauty of this deck is saying that and then sticking an Ink-Treader Nephilim down: Unmake loses some of its charm when it reads '(Final Judgement) yourself, leave most of his guys untouched'. By keeping the Nephil as our only four-drop we mitigate the effects of Void and Crime/Punishment, the two best non-targetting means of spot removal, and sacrifice effects such as Hit/Run or Cruel Ultimatum need to get through our multitude of one- and two-mana untargetables. In the mean time, we exploit the Nephil for both removal and card draw with Electrolyze and Snakeform, which become an ersatz Biomantic Mastery whilst turning the cream of our opponent's creatures into easy prey for our Deft Duelists. The real fun starts when we start playing Spitting Image: Target the ink-treader with that, and you get a token of every targetable creature in play, with a side order of killing every legend. Provided we draw lands, we are able to do this turn after turn, overwhelming our opponent with multiple duplicates of his own creatures in very short order as we retrace time and again. If that isn't enough, there's always the 7 mana shrouded, flying,trampling beatstick we know and love as Simic Sky Swallower.

Don't Tread on Me!
Spot removal resistant Kaleidoscope deck
4 Slippery Bogle
4 Naya Hushblade
4 Deft Duelist
4 Wall of Denial
4 Ink-Treader Nephilim
4 Simic Sky Swallower
24 cards

Other Spells
4 Snakeform
4 Electrolyze
4 Spitting Image
12 cards
4 Exotic Orchard
4 Pillar of the Paruns
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Seaside Citadel
4 Steam Vents
4 Temple Garden
24 cards

Spitting Image

No deck is perfect: in this case death, thy name is Firespout. You'll keep your Wall of Denial and Simic Sky Swallower, but everything else goes down the pan. For sideboard options, you might want to try and add a few counters: Odds/Ends is a useful utility against control, especially if they tap out for a Cruel Ultimatum. If you want to splash black then Trial/Error gives you the best counter in the format and a highly amusing instant speed cross between Soulquake and Fight to the Death. For those who prefer budget land bases, Terramorphic Expanse, Bant Panorama and Forbidden Orchard with basics are useful substitutes, with the painful drawback on the orchard mitigated by drawing extra cards from Electrolyze and Snakeform.

Instant Army, Just Add Water

We turn our attention to a deck positively dripping with synergy. Our fulcrum is a hard-to-cast Hill Giant that turns every future 1/1 into a 3/3. There are a number of ways we can exploit this: Running a number of creatures that give us tokens when they die, deal combat damage or just as an activated ability, and by running persist creatures that come back as 1/1s and thus become immortal. There's a place here for another nephilim as well, provided we can make contact with our opponent's face.

Sigil Captain Dune-Brood Nephilim Sprouting Thrinax

The goal of the deck is to outnumber and overpower our opponent. Our creatures are efficient but not top of the range: One thing most of them have is a degree of staying power. Rendclaw Trow and Murderous Redcap are persistent sources of removal, with the Trow getting the better of any other persist creature in the format and the Redcap doing what it does best. Sprouting Thrinax is an efficient 3/3 with a post mortem spectral procession: If it dies with Sigil Captain in play, that's a post mortem half-size Crush of Wurms for free. Our other token sources are Dune-Brood Nephilim and Selesnya Guildmage: Gaining a creature for every land you have in play ends games quickly, and having what effectively becomes the Centaur Glade ability on a bear is very handy. The Guildmage also offers a small measure of protection from most damage-based removal, a single activation of its pump enough to take the Thrinax, Nephil and Captain out of Firespout or Lightning Helix range. However, to get the most of our token armies, and to get the most out of the Dune-Brood, we need to render the opposition moot. How do we get through with a non-evasive hill giant in this format?

Shield of the Oversoul Lavalanche Naya Charm

As you can see, we can fly over, we can tap them, or simply destroy them. Successfully putting indestructibility pants on any of our green and white engines requires removal from the game, sacrifice, bounce or shuffling into the library to answer, leaving us well placed to exploit. Lavalanche can be an amazingly satisfying spell to cast, as well as an additional win condition. Making Savage Twister one-sided and painful to your opponent is well worth the extra single black mana, but bear in mind it is vulnerable to Swerve or Hindering Light effects. Naya Charm is our toolbox, fetching back creatures as needed, acting as spot removal and keeping our opponent tapped down. Preventing an opponent from getting anything out of Bloodbraid Elf into Boggart Ram-Gang and then following it up by playing Sigil Captain before attacking with Dune-Brood Nephilim is a turnaround that few decks can cope with.

He traded sand for Elephants
Midrange Kaleidoscope Deck
4 Selesnya Guildmage
4 Rendclaw Trow
4 Sprouting Thrinax
4 Murderous Redcap
4 Sigil Captain
4 Dune-Brood Nephilim
24 cards

Other Spells
4 Naya Charm
4 Shield of the Oversoul
4 Lavalanche
12 cards
4 Exotic Orchard
4 Pillar of the Paruns
4 Godless Shrine
4 Jungle Shrine
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Temple Garden
24 cards

Selesnya Guildmage

Yes, this one also really doesn't like Firespout, unless you have an active Selesnya Guildmage to save your Hill Giants. If that sorcery remains a particular concern and you're not in danger of being overrun, sideboarding in Glory of Warfare can make your opponent scowl at his removal options. having access to two types of token reduces vulnerability to Maelstrom Pulse. Other sideboard options include the heavy disruption path of Void, Thought Hemorrhage and Blightning to pre-empt your opponent's removal, especially if he's over-reliant on the one sweeper. For those looking to build with a more budget manabase, this deck has time in the first couple of turns to afford a Rupture Spire or tap a Mirrodin's Core, but being able to hit land drops 3 and 4 with a variety of colors and untapped is vital.

Quantity has a quality all of its own

Finally, we turn our attentions to a 1/1 creature that costs 4 mana of different colors. How on earth do you make a creature like that worthwhile? Sure, it says 'Whenever you play a spell, you may put 2 +1/+1 counters on this' and has a conditional trample, but how often do you cast more than one spell in a turn? It's not as if there's a bunch of spells that say 'Hey, kids! play me and play another spell for free!', is there? Oh, wait.

Brilliant Ultimatum Memory Plunder Bloodbraid Elf

It so happens there's another infrequently played 4 mana creature of multiple colors that appreciates casting several spells per turn, only this one gets a temporary boost per spell and only triggers off multicolor. This is a drawback in conventional circumstances, but not in Kaleidoscope, unless you go out of your way to include Assault/Battery. We'll stick our removal at the bottom of the curve to take advantage of cascade, and include cascading removal at the top. Using Bituminous Blast on your opponent's turn has a chance to net one of your 4-mana hard-to-casts and be in a position to attack, especially if you can then set up a chain of free spells on your turn. Memory Plunder is a mean trick in the mirror if your opponent is also playing with cascade, able to go up the chain on a blast or Deny Reality. Your Bloodbraid Elf will always hit removal. A Nephil in a cascade chain or Brilliant Ultimatum pile doesn't benefit from the spells already cast, but one in play will be in hog heaven. Or Terminated in short order.

Gloryscale Viashino Witch-Maw Nephilim Enlisted Wurm

It's worth noting just how quickly this piles up: A single cascade will take the Nephil to a permanent 5/5 and the Gloryscale to 9/9 for the turn. A 4-card jackpot from Enlisted Wurm or Brilliant Ultimatum takes them to 9/9 and 15/15 respectively. The strength of the cascade mechanic is such that the deck doesn't have to rely on this, but a free Jund Charm or Giant Growth with every card is a nice additional bonus.

Look, Maw, No Mana Cost!
Cascade-based Kaleidoscope Deck
4 Bloodbraid Elf
2 Gloryscale Viashino
4 Witch-Maw Nephilim
4 Enlisted Wurm
14 cards

Other Spells
4 Terminate
4 Lightning Helix
4 Memory Plunder
4 Bituminous Blast
4 Deny Reality
2 Brilliant Ultimatum
22 cards
4 Exotic Orchard
4 Pillar of the Paruns
4 Godless Shrine
4 Blood Crypt
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Watery Grave
24 cards

Enlisted Wurm

With the core of the deck being an unevasive 4-color creature and 3-color creature, protection creatures can be a problem. The deck can be slow to get started: It needs to hit 4 to really compete. Sideboard options would include Hit/Run or Odds/Ends , possibly Naya Charm. A budget manabase with this one would be tricky, as the range of mana symbols required precludes skimping on multilands, but with a paucity of 3-drops there may well be room for Rupture Spire here.

That brings us to a close for another week: By the time this is published, I will have arrived back from my wedding anniversary sojourn at a 5-star London hotel overlooking the Tower and Tower Bridge. Until next time, don't forget to take every relevant card into account.


Firespout by Effovex at Wed, 07/15/2009 - 12:20
Effovex's picture

That last deck would really appreciate firespout, I think. I helps the deck survive the early game, and if you reveal it off a cascade, it just pumps your Witch-Maws and Viashinos.

Firespout is a wasted cascade by AJ_Impy at Wed, 07/15/2009 - 19:37
AJ_Impy's picture

Firespout is a wasted cascade whenever it flips, and every cascade card in the deck can hit it. Instead of hitting removal 100% of the time off your 4-mana cascades, you're hitting it 66% of the time. The downside, especially in such a heavy cascade deck, made it suboptimal.

Wow the power curve of these by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 07/15/2009 - 14:11
Anonymous's picture

Wow the power curve of these k-scope deck just keep getting better, and scarier.

kscope seems fun by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 06:16
Anonymous's picture

good article ,i may try kscope sometime looks fun.
how is reborn hope on that format id imagine a regrowth would be good tho non combo?

Reborn Hope is a decent card, by AJ_Impy at Fri, 07/17/2009 - 06:43
AJ_Impy's picture

Reborn Hope is a decent card, although Naya Charm usually gets more of a look in for its added versatility. I'm also rather fond of Vengeful Rebirth as a recursion effect with bite, and I've done my best to break Bound/Dertermined, usually with Child of Alara.

rhys the redeemed by RagMan17 at Mon, 07/20/2009 - 03:47
RagMan17's picture

In your "He Traded Sand For Elephants Midrange Kaleidoscope Deck" I think there would be room for Rhys the Redeemed somewhere.

While Guildmages token making costs more it obviously has a better 2nd ability, although hitting Rhys on a huge board stall and doubling your token total might be worth running 2 of.

Loved the decks though.