Arnnaria's picture
By: Arnnaria, Sean Costales
May 08 2008 12:04am
Login or register to post comments

Welcome to Pure Standard!

I’m a fan of kitschy combo decks.  I’ve only been playing competitively since Time Spiral Block Constructed, so I’ve never been around for the ultra-competitive ones like Academy or Trix.  But there’s something about winning with two to four cards in a creative fashion that gets my deck-playing “juices” flowing.  So without much more of an introduction, here’s a kitschy deck I found recently:

Project J
2 Brion Stoutarm
4 Greater Gargadon
3 Juniper Order Ranger
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Murderous Redcap
2 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Wall of Roots

Other Spells
3 Sulfurous Blast
4 Glittering Wish
4 Into the North
2 Primal Command
3 Oblivion Ring
1 Ancient Amphitheater
2 Arctic Flats
4 Battlefield Forge
3 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Grove of the Burnwillows
2 Highland Weald
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Llanowar Reborn
1 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Snow-Covered Plains
3 Wooded Bastion

1 Brion Stoutarm
3 Cloudthresher
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Juniper Order Ranger
1 Murderous Redcap
2 Vexing Shusher
1 Dawnglow Infusion
1 Fiery Justice
1 Firespout
1 Safewright Quest
1 Wheel of Sun and Moon
Juniper Order Ranger

So how does this deck work?  It’s not as complicated as Reveillark, but the combination is pretty complex if you don’t know Rule 420.5n.  In fact, if you aren’t aware of this rule this deck probably looks like a pile of rubbish.  Rule 420.5n state that: “If a permanent has both a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter on it, N +1/+1 and N -1/-1 counters are removed from it, where N is the smaller of the number of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it.”  Or put even more simply, +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters cancel each other out.  If a permanent has a +1/+1 coutner on it and a -1/-1 counter on it, both counters cease to exist and the permanent is left without any counters. 

So how does this work in the deck?  Shadowmoor introduces a nifty little ability called “Persist.”  Persist brings the creature back from the graveyard to play with a -1/-1 counter if the creature dies.  Juniper Order Ranger gives it a +1/+1 counter for its troubles as it comes into play.  Both of the counters are on the creature, and they disappear thanks to Rule 420.5n.  The creature now is absent of a -1/-1 counter and if it goes to the graveyard again, it’ll come back and trigger both its Persist ability and the Juniper Order Ranger ability.  Simply put, if you have a sacrifice outlet it is ready to die again and come back.  Can you see the infinite implications now? 

So the deck can combo out in a variety of ways.  The simplest of ways is a Juniper Order Ranger and a Murderous Redcap.  The  Murderous Redcap comes into play, deals its damage to itself, dies, and returns. This way you can get an infinitely large Juniper Order Ranger in play and attack for the win.  If you have a Brion Stoutarm out, you can chuck your infinitely large Juniper Order Ranger at your opponent to deal infinite damage and gain infinite life.  Things are much simpler with a Greater Gargadon out; instead of aiming the Murderous Redcap at yourself you can target your opponent’s dome and deal infinite damage to them.  And if you’re not a fan of infinite damage, you can gain infinite life with a Kitchen Finks, Juniper Order Ranger, and Greater Gargadon. 

I met up with the deck’s creator over IRC and interviewed them for this article.  That’s right, not only did I give you a creative combo deck to play with, I’m doing a Pure Standard first: an interview in my column!  Oh, the editor gods of this site are going to be swarming with fan mail after this is all over:

(Editor's Note:  KeySam is a player on  This trial (Which is a single elimination event, was sponsered by the site.)

Arnnaria: Hello.

KeySam: Hi 

(Arnnaria and KeySam exchange pleasantries.)
KeySam: What do you want to know? 

Arnnaria: So I found the deck on  Has the list changed from the tournament? 

KeySam: Not really, I didn’t play a lot of Standard after the second trial (tournament).  I am going to play tomorrow again in a trial.  So maybe there it changes but I feel pretty good like it is now. 

Arnnaria: Explain what cards can be fetched by Glittering Wish in the sideboard.  Which cards are good against certain matches? 

Keysam: Well okay, I’ll explain everything except for the combo cards (Brion Stoutarm, Murderous Redcap, Kitchen Finks).  They should be obvious.

Arnnaria: Yup.


KeySam: Brion Stoutarm is also for beatdown, not only for the combo.  Firespout is good against any aggressive deck.  It’s also good if it resolves against faeries, but it usually gets countered though.  The deck has maindeck Sulfurous Blast against faeries and aggro as well. 

(Arnnaria nods approvingly.)

Keysam: Dawnglow Infusion is for Red Deck Wins. I usually don’t try to go off against them I just start gaining life and trading cards and let them run out of gas.  Fiery Justice wasn’t that great till now.  I am thinking about replacing it with Curse of Chains. I thought it’s another search target for aggressive decks (which I don’t really need) and a removal spell for Doran, the Siege Tower.  But since a lot of pumping is going on Curse of Chains may be better. 

Arnnaria: What do you mean by pumping? 

KeySam: Wilt-Leaf Liege and Shield of the Oversoul. 

Arnnaria: Gotcha. 

KeySam: I actually only wished once for Harmonic Sliver, that was to dispatch an Oblivion Ring in Doran.  I just like him because of flexibility.  Gaddock Teeg is for Dark Mana Ramp decks, to stop them from playing their Mind Shatters, Damnations and Profane Commands. 

Arnnaria:   Cool.  Continue. 

KeySam:  Vexing Shusher is better against merfolk then against faeries, but you could wish them in both matchups.  Wheel of Sun and Moon is for the mirror and Swans, and sometimes you wish it against Reveillark.  Saferight Quest is to not get screwed against all decks.  That about sums up the sideboard.

Arnnaria: How shaky is the mana base or is it pretty consistent for a three-color deck? 

KeySam:  It works quite well actually.  Into the North does a great job in fixing.  Sometimes it’s a tricky decision on how to mulligan but it worked quite good for me.

Arnnaria: If you had to compare the deck to a deck from the past, what would you compare it to?  Is project X an apt comparison? 

KeySam: That’s kind of hard. Well it’s kind of similar to Project X in terms its a combo deck, that’s also a pretty good midrange deck. 

Arnnaria:  It's kind of a dumb question; I guess if I had to rephrase the question it would be this: who wants to play the deck? 

KeySam: Everyone that has an aggressive metagame and likes to win, I guess.  It’s also kind of tricky to play, you can’t autopilot it. 

Arnnaria: What is the deck's best matchup?
KeySam: Red Deck Wins.

Arnnaria: What is the deck’s worst matchup? 

KeySam: Faeries or Merfolk. I’m not sure about that. 

Arnnaria: Okay cool.  And finally what advice would you give to a novice that's trying out the deck for the first time? 

KeySam:  Don’t try to force to combo, it’s always better to win then to force something.  The deck often plays out like a kind of midrange, controlish deck instead of a combo deck, because the combo is pretty easy to disrupt and almost any deck (if not every deck) has hate against it. 

Arnnaria: Cool thanks for talking to me. 

KeySam: Ok thanks.


So the deck has a good matchup against Red Deck Wins.  This is a good thing, because with Tattermunge Maniac and Flame Javelin coming out in Shadowmoor, I have a feeling that Red Deck Wins will be a popular choice in the post-Shadowmoor metagame.  It seems like every deck gets some new goodies except for a popular archetype that has been absent from the metagame: control.  I’ve discussed the implications of a control-light metagame and what it means for deck building.  However, maybe the testing will reveal a control build that’s viable for the new Standard metagame. 

Join me next week when I delve even deeper into the dark Shadowmoor world! 

Sean Costales

Arnnaria on Magic Online


by KeySam (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 05/09/2008 - 12:52
KeySam (Unregistered)'s picture

I maybe should add i only saw articles after i worked on the deck, but anyway i dont think i was the first one thinking of this combo, just the first one to give the people a list that actually works ;)

For the Order by Hollow0n3 at Thu, 05/08/2008 - 13:13
Hollow0n3's picture

Any deck that abuses the Juniper Order is interessting, of course that omes from a guy who already abused it in two different articles... *cough*

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 05/08/2008 - 14:48
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Where are those articles?? I didnt saw them and i am working quite a while on that deck... But i would love to see them maybe i get some insperation. Would be interesting to see how your deck looks like.

by KeySam (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 05/08/2008 - 03:06
KeySam (Unregistered)'s picture

Hi i like the article, although i guess i am a bit partial. The decklist got updated tonight. Everyone who wants to join the discussion is welcome. Updated Decklist and discussion can be found here: