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By: spg, spg
Nov 11 2008 8:51am
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Explorations #7 - Supper's Ready

Steve Gargolinski


Over the past three articles, I've sketched out a whole bunch of different ideas for decks based on the new Shards of Alara cards:

Part 1:  Jund, Bant
Part 2:  Esper, Grixis
Part 3:  Naya, Misc

Now that Alara cards are available on MTGO I'm going to be playtesting and evolving some specific decks rather than just tossing out a ton of ideas.  First up is one of the deck ideas I had while thinking about the Jund shard:  Supper's Ready!  If you want to read about the original conception of the deck idea then click on Part 1 above.  Here's the decklist that we're going to start with:

The basic goal here was to build a deck based around the Jund shard's devour mechanic, which allows your creatures eat each other in order to gain impressive power.  While sacrificing our own creatures, we often open ourselves to a two, three, four, or even five-for-one trade in favor of our opponent.  That doesn't sound so great.  In order to minimize this problem, Supper's Ready runs twelve persist creatures and a few copies of Sprouting Thrinax - all creatures who don't really mind going to the graveyard.  In addition, token generators (Bitterblossom and Goblin Assault) make sure that the next set of sacrificial lambs are never far away.  I'm really excited to find out how well this deck works.

In retrospect this list looks like it has some weird choices, but I'm going to play five or so games with it and see how things go before making any real changes.

The Joy of Trading in MTGO v3

Man does MTGO v3 make assembling a new deck with just-released cards a huge pain.  There's a bug where performing multiple trades in a row can cause the trade to freeze during the confirm screen.  The way to fix this is to restart the client, which is obviously a huge pain.  This isn't normally so bad because bots (and stores like mtgotraders.com) have plenty of stock, so it doesn't usually take more than a trade or two to put together a deck.  This time I was forced to trade for a Caldera Hellion here and a Mycoloth there.

Not only is there the 'one or two trades per login' bug, but there's also the fact that everything is crawling due to the huge number of people online drafting.  It took me the majority of an evening just to put together this deck!  If you're planning on making a bunch of trades in a row, then I definitely recommend that you log off and on in between each one - or else things will just become a nightmare both for you and your trade partner.

Initial Testing

Game 1 vs Mono Black Rogues

My opponent starts off with Nightshade Stinger, Cloak and Dagger, and then Boggart Harbinger to grab Earwig Squad.  By this time I have Bitterblossom, Sprouting Thrinax, and Kitcken Finks in play for defense.  Oona's Prowler comes into play and my opponent keeps attacking into my Bitterblossom tokens.  Eventually he manages to clear the way to drop Earwig Squad (grabbing three copies of Kitchen Finks), but he loses a lot of cards in the process.

I get Sarkhan Vol into play and start to build up to his super Dragon ability.  I guess this is unacceptable in my opponent's eyes; he ends up attacking his Boggart Harbinger, Nightshade Stinger, and Earwig Squad (with Cloak and Dagger) into Kitchen Finks, Sprouting Thrinax, and a Bitterblossom token.  That one did not work out well for him.

With my opponent tapped out I fire off Sarkhan Vol's super ability, sacrifice six creatures to Caldera Hellion and then use Rite of Consumption for the win.  Pretty sweet for the first test game!

Analysis:  This was a pretty strong opening game - Rogues isn't a top tier deck, but it's a pretty scary aggro strategy.  Bitterblossom's early defense gave me plenty of time to set up a huge Caldera Hellion/Wrath of God/damage to his face combo.
Earwig Squad

Game 2 vs WUB Control

I start off with Bitterblossom into Goblin Assault into Sarkhan Vol.  My opponent plays out Courier's Capsule, Executioner's Capsule, and then uses Tidehollow Sculler's ability to grab Caldera Hellion.  I cast Garruk Wildspeaker and win quickly behind three tokens per turn (Bitterblossom, Goblin Assault, Garruk Wildspeaker) with +1/+1 and haste.

Analysis:  When the deck you're playing against is using spot removal (Executioner's Capsule, Tidehollow Sculler, etc.) and you're producing three 2/2 tokens per turn with haste - it's pretty tough to lose.

Puppeteer Clique
Game 3 vs Grixis

My opponent plays out Crumbling Necropolis and then Kederekt Creeper.  I cast Safehold Elite, Goblin Assault, and then Garruk Wildspeaker - but I'm mostly stuck behind the Creeper.  My opponent doesn't do anything for a few turns and then plays Puppeteer Clique on back-to-back turns, grabbing exactly nothing.  Weird play?

I cast Caldera Hellion and wipe out both Cliques and the Kederekt Creeper - but my opponent does manage to grab my Safehold Elite during this trade.  I cast a second Caldera Hellion to take out the two Puppeteer Cliques for good, and also get my Safehold Elite back.  I swing with the Elite plus two 5/5 Hellions for the win.

Analysis:  The fact that I had persist creatures and token generators forced my opponent to cast double Puppeteer Clique just to stay alive without really getting much value out of his awesome creatures.  Caldera Hellion wiped out his Cliques, which were just basically overcosted vanilla 3/1 creatures at this point, and he couldn't recover.

Game 4 vs Mono Black Discard/Land Destruction

My opponent plays out Leechridden Swamp and then uses Distress to strip away my Kitchen Finks.  I play out Safehold Elite and then Sprouting Thrinax, starting the beatdown.  My opponent casts Spiteful Visions, which actually helps me a lot to draw out of some mana issues, and then casts double Rain of Tears to remove a few of my lands.

I bring Goblin Assault into play to turn up the heat on my opponent, who is dying courtesy of my 2/2, 3/3, and his own Spiteful Visions.  He casts Diabolic Tutor and doesn't see anything good, so he concedes the game.

Analysis:  My opponent's combination of Spiteful Visions and Rain of Tears was totally counterproductive.  I was already light on land, and the land destruction would have absolutely ruined me, but his Spiteful Visions helped me draw out of my mana problems.

Boggart Ram-Gang
Game 5 vs RG Aggro

I get a hand with triple Savage Lands, which slows down my early development.  My opponent, on the other hand, comes out with Figure of Destiny, Mogg Fanatic, and then Boggart Ram-Gang.  I play double Safehold Elite, but their persist ability is useless against the Ram-Gang.  I get Goblin Assault into play and attempt to stabilize with a 4/4 Caldera Hellion, but Flame Javelin and then Incinerate finish me off.

Analysis:  This deck is a pretty terrible matchup for mine unless I get a draw like Safehold Elite, Kitchen Finks, Heartmender.  Rite of Consumption can also help, I guess.  Bitterblossom is okay as Forcefield, but Goblin Assault doesn't provide any defense at all.  Caldera Hellion helps a lot, but I need to get it into play before you're within burn range.

Game 6 vs Mono Black Discard/Land Destruction Rematch

My opponent from a few games ago wanted a rematch, so here it is.  I keep a hand with a bunch of lands and double Safehold Elite.  Based on the last game we played, it doesn't seem like Safehold Elite is something that my opponent can deal with easily - and I have plenty of land if Rain of Tears gets going.

I cast out Safehold Elite and over the next two turns my opponent plays two copies of Distress, grabbing double Safehold Elite.  Wow, two copies of Distress and three copies of Safehold out there by the third turn!  My opponent plays Underworld Dreams and then uses Rain of Tears to blow away one of my Reflecting Pools.  I cast Bitterblossom and then Sarkhan Vol, attacking every turn for the win.

Analysis:  Knowing my opponent's deck and keeping a hand full of land really helped out this game.  I got some decent threats out and my opponent couldn't do anything other than blow up my lands while Bitterblossom did the deed.

Game 7 vs UG Shorecrasher Mimic/Rhox War Monk

Flooded Grove and Savage Lands turn into Shorecrasher Mimic and then Kitchen Finks.  My opponent plays out Rhox War Monk to turn his Shorecrasher Mimic into a 5/3 trampler and I trade with my Finks.  Heartmender comes into play and my opponent plays out Loxodon Warhammer.  I cast Mycoloth, sacrificing both of my persist creatures and then getting them right back - with Heartmender's ability all set to return them to 100% next turn.

My opponent casts Covenant of Minds and shows me:  Island, Forest, and Favor of the Overbeing.  Favor of the Overbeing is a little scary - but I can't imagine the five cards he would get being any worse than those three, so I let him keep.  Loxodon Warhammer and the Favor of the Overbeing turns his Rhox War Monk into something really scary, but I'm able to come back with a 9/9 Caldera Hellion and then use Rite of Consumption to finish off my opponent.

Analysis:  Caldera Hellion and Rite of Consumption comes through as a great way to send damage straight to the opponent's face without going through the red zone.  Lifelink is always a pain for an aggro or midrange deck to deal with, but thankfully Supper's Ready is capable of dealing far more than twenty damage.

Shorecrasher Mimic

Let's Take a Step Back

Alright, this deck has been working out pretty well so far but there's plenty of room for improvement and lots of different ways we can think about improving the deck.  Before I change directions at all, I'm going to take a shot at tightening up this deck/strategy.

First off, the manabase in Supper's Ready is definitely a bit too light.  I'm running a whole bunch of five drops, and there's no acceleration at all.  Four of the lands come into play tapped, and I'm running a decent number of filter lands.  Upping the land count to twenty five total should help to make sure that we hit those five lands reliably.  I'm going to take out both copies of Manamorphose, color correction hasn't been an issue at all so far and every single time I've just basically ended up cycling it away.

Caldera Hellion
Love to eat their friends...

The package of devour creatures (4x Caldera Hellion, 2x Skullmulcher, 2x Mycoloth) is a bit too heavy.  The Skullmulchers in particular haven't worked out so great.  Every time I've had one in my had in test games so far, it's been basically a dead card.  I can see some situations where Skullmulcher is key to winning, but they just haven't been coming up.  I'm going to take out at least one copy and then pay attention to how often I actually want one moving forward.

The persist creatures have all been great so far.  I had my reservations about Safehold Elite, but he's worked out fantastic in pratice.  I've only drawn my Heartmender once so far (in seven games), but the combo with my persist guys was really awesome.  This is definitely a strong aspect of the deck and someone worth keeping moving forward.

I threw two copies of Sprouting Thrinax into the original list, but I was seriously undervaluing how good this card is.  I'm going to up the count to four.

Out:  2x Manamorphose, 1x Skullmulcher
In:  1x Swamp, 2x Sprouting Thrinax

Supper's Ready v2
Steve Gargolinski - Standard Legal
4 Safehold Elite
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Heartmender
4 Caldera Hellion
1 Skullmulcher
2 Mycoloth
4 Sprouting Thrinax
23 cards

Other Spells
2 Garruk Wildspeaker
2 Sarkhan Vol
3 Goblin Assault
3 Bitterblossom
2 Rite of Consumption
12 cards
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Graven Cairns
4 Forest
3 Mountain
2 Swamp
4 Savage Lands
2 Twilight Mire
25 cards
Caldera Hellion

Time for some more test games.

Game 8 vs Elves with Burn/Firespout

I start off with Savage Lands into Bitterblossom and then Sprouting Thrinax.  My opponent uses Incinerate to take out my Thrinax and then clears everything away with Firespout.  I come back with Kitchen Finks and then Goblin Assault, which is matched by double Imperious Perfect from my opponent.  Thankfully I have Caldera Hellion to wipe out all of his guys.

I play Garruk Wildspeaker and start attacking with my 5/5 Hellion, 2/1 Kitchen Finks, and various tokens.  I'm one turn away from winning when Primal Command takes out the Hellion and gives my opponent back seven life.  Thankfully I have enough loyalty counters on Garruk to Overrun for the win.

Analysis:  I got off to a fast start in this game, which forced my opponent to use his burn on creatures that require a bunch of resources to kill (Sprouting Thrinax, Bitterblossom tokens).  The two copies of Imperious Perfect could have been major trouble, but Caldera Hellion saved the day.

Game 9 vs Five Color Concession

This one doesn't last long.  I accidentally keep a shaky one-land hand, but manage to play Safehold Elite and then get out a Kitchen Finks - topdecking my way right out of mana trouble.  My opponent casts Rip-Clan Crasher and then Obelisk of Jund; conceding (for some reason) in the face of my 2/2 and 3/2.

Analysis:  Not much to say here.

Game 10 vs Bant Exalted Control

I cast Bitterblossom, Sprouting Thrinax, and then Sarkhan Vol.  My opponent plays Seaside Citadel, Steward of Valeran, Obelisk of Bant, and then Angelic Benediction.  I cast a second Bitterblossom, but Austere Command (for small creatures and enchantments) wipes the board pretty much clean.  Sprouting Thrinax gets me three 1/1 tokens, which I use to create a 10/10 Mycoloth.  Sarkhan Vol makes him 11/11 with haste and I get through for the win.

Analysis:  Bitterblossom, Sprouting Thrinax, and Sarkhan Vol are tough to deal with coming right out of the gate - but Austere Command is one way to do it.  The leftover tokens are still valuable resources - there's nothing wrong with an 11/11 creature that creates six creatures per turn.
Angelic Benediction

Game 11 vs UG Shorecrasher Mimic

Shorecrasher Mimic, Wistful Selkie, and then another Shorecrasher Mimic put a lot of pressure on me early.  I get Goblin Assault, but I have three Planeswalkers in my hand and only three land. 
Spring Cleaning takes out my Goblin Assaut and things are looking very bad, but I hit a fourth land to play Garruk Wildspeaker and make a 3/3 beast so that I have at least something to defend myself with.  I trade my beast for a Shorecrasher Mimic pumped via another Wistful Selkie, and Garruk goes to the graveyard.

I kept a
Heartmender on top of my library during the Spring Cleaning clash, and I luckilly topdeck a Kitchen Finks - and then another Kitchen Finks.  It's pretty surprising how many times I've been attacked by 5/3 tramplers, and I'm still at fourteen life - but I'm starting to take control of this game.  My opponent plays Slippery Boggle and then uses Lignify to neutralize my Heartmender, but I'm able to clear the table with Caldera Hellion.  I attack for nine with the Hellion, Sarkhan Vol, and remaining Kitchen Finks.  My opponent conceds.

Analysis:  Shorecrasher Mimic is a scary little card that was mostly off of my radar until this set of games, but I'm definitely a new fan of that guy - Mostly mono-blue decks are not supposed to get 5/3 trample creatures attacking on turn three.

Game 12 vs Mono Blue Control

I play Savage Lands into Sprouting Thrinax; my opponent Ponders and then Disperses my Thrinax.  I cast out a second Thrinax and my opponent grabs it with Sower of Temptation.  I cast a third Thrinax and end up trading with my stolen Thrinax.  A turn later the tokens trade.  Garruk Wildspeaker is nailed with Cryptic Command.  Goblin Assault sticks for half of a turn, but then gets Dispersed.  My opponent casts a few Ponders.  I take a bunch of hits from the Sower.

Sprouting Thrinax comes into play, but Whirlpool Whelm bounces him two turns in a row and then Cryptic Command gets rid of him forever.  I stick Kitchen Finks and try to resolve a second copy, but it's taken out with Broken Ambitions.  Sprouting Thrinax goes down to Cryptic Command.  Kitchen Finks swings the life a bit, but things go south when Sower of Tempations controls it.  I use Sarkhan Vol to Threaten the Sower and then use Rite of Consumption to get my creature back.  My opponent hardcasts Mulldrifter, which only gives me a few more turns to live.  I try to cast another Kitchen Finks, but Scattering Stroke takes care of it.

I've got one chance left to live:  Caldera Hellion.  My opponent is down to one card in hand, and I have both Skullmulcher and Caldera Hellion in my hand.  Should I try to bait out a counterspell or just go for it?  I figure that it doesn't matter very much if I'm at one life or five, so I go for the Skullmulcher first and my opponent takes it out with Remove Soul.  Next turn I cast Caldera Hellion and a huge Broken Ambition stops my last hope.  It didn't end up mattering which order I cast my guys.

Sower of Temptation

Analysis:  That last game was pretty excruciating.  Cryptic Command is very, very strong - especially against a deck like mine.  I don't think I have very much of a chance to win when my opponent resolves three copies of Cryptic Command.  There really aren't many options for my deck to fight a huge amount of counter magic and bounce.

Resolving an early Bitterblossom or Goblin Assault would have at least required my opponent to find a bounce spell, and hopefully left me with a few tokens to show for it.  Turn two Bitterblossom and turn three Goblin Assault is not a terrible opening against counterspells and blue-style control.  Other than that, the only other mini-strategy I can think of is to try to force through a Kitchen Finks if you have an option of smallish creatures.  If your opponent bounces the Finks then you'll hopefully be able to at least gain another two life the next time you cast them.

The real tech available to this deck for the blue control matchup is Vexing Shusher.  If I had access to even just one of those 2/2s last game, then I'm pretty much positive I could have won.  If you're ever playing this deck in a tournament situation then definitely run a playset of Vexing Shusher.

One More Option

I'm going to move onto a different view of this deck, but before I do I want to call attention to a fun card that I just didn't work into any of my lists:  Predator Dragon.

Predator Dragon

Predator Dragon is another option for the high-cost Devour creature slots in Supper's Ready.  It might replace Mycoloth, Skullmulcher,  or a copy of Caldera Hellion.  Why would you want to use Predator Dragon?  Well, to get a 10/10 or 12/12 flying haste creature of course.  Is this better than a 10/10 that makes six creatures per turn?  Beats me - I didn't get a chance to test it, but let me know if you do!

Token Redux

Towards the end of the last Standard season, before Shards of Alara rotated in, a B/R deck using Bitterblossom, Marsh Flitter, and Mogg War Marshal to generate a whole ton of tokens gained a bit of popularity.  Here's a deck that made the top 8 of French Nationals: 

... and here's another version from Sato Masayoshi: 

These decks both rely on a fairly similar strategy, which is closely related to the Supper's Ready gameplay:  generate a whole bunch of tokens and then play creatures that exploit the fact that we've got a whole ton of guys in play.  Furystoke Giant turns a token army into a whole bunch of super-pingers.  Nantuko Husk grows into a gigantic threat.  Greater Gargadon feeds on tokens to become a one-mana 9/7 with haste.

Each of these two decks runs something that the other doesn't.  Canonici runs Threaten and Grave Pact; Masayoshi runs Torrent of Souls (with Threaten in the sideboard).  Threaten allows us to grab our opponent's best creature, bash him with it, and then sacrifice it to bring Greater Gargadon in play.  Torrent of Souls brings a big dude back while simultaneously pumping up all of our tokens.  Grave Pact is an absolute backbreaker of a board control card, assuming that your deck can hit the BBB mana requirement.

It's always a good idea to look at other strong decks that use a similar strategy to yours to get a better insight on the lines of attack that are available to you.  Based on taking a look at these old B/R token decks, there are three different cards that I want to try to fit into Supper's Ready:  Nantuko Husk, Grave Pact, and Torrent of Souls.  Here's the next version I'm going to test:

Out:  4x Heartmender, 1x Caldera Hellion, 1x Skullmulcher, 2x Rite of Consumpion, 1x Mountain, 1x Fire-Lit Thicket, 2x Garruk Wildspeaker

In:  4x Nantuko Husk, 2x Grave Pact, 2x Torrent of Souls, 1x Twilight Mire, 1x Swamp, 2x Sarkhan Vol

Supper's Ready v3
Steve Gargolinski - Standard Legal
4 Safehold Elite
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Nantuko Husk
3 Caldera Hellion
2 Mycoloth
4 Sprouting Thrinax
21 cards

Other Spells
4 Sarkhan Vol
3 Goblin Assault
3 Bitterblossom
2 Grave Pact
2 Torrent of Souls
14 cards
4 Reflecting Pool
3 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Graven Cairns
4 Forest
2 Mountain
3 Swamp
4 Savage Lands
3 Twilight Mire
25 cards
Caldera Hellion

Heartmender is tough to lose, but I think that the persist creatures are strong enough on their own without him/her/it.  I'm now feeling a little disappointment that I didn't try playing Heartmender and Murderous Redcap together in this deck.  To be honest I just didn't think of it.

I'm going to turn my planeswalker set into four copies of Sarkhan Vol.  In my test games so far, he's just been better more often than Garruk Wildspeaker.  Nantuko Husk also combos in a strong way with Sarkhan's Threaten ability - it's not as good as if we were also running four copies of Greater Gargadon, but it's still pretty good.

Time to test out the new version of this deck.

Game 13 vs Mono Black Rogues

I play Savage Lands, Safehold Elite, and Sprouting Thrinax.  My opponent plays Prickly Boggart, Oona's Blackguard, and then Frogtosser Banneret.  He attacks with Prickly Boggart, apparently forgetting that Sprouting Thrinax is black, and I get rid of his 1/1.  He casts Squeaking Pie Sneak and I trade my Sprouting Thrinax for it.  I cast a second Sprouting Thrinax and my opponent responds by using Frogtosser Banneret to prowl out double Stinkdrinker Bandit.

I topdeck Torrent of Souls, bring my Sprouting Thrinax back and swing for the win on turn five.

Analysis:  This game was a great example of how explosive this deck can be.  A single dead Sprouting Thrinax turns into nine quick damage from Torrent of Souls.  It's always a good sign when the deck outraces Rogues with the double Stinkdrinker Bandit draw.

Game 14 vs Merfolk Mill

Two copies of Wanderer's Twig come down for my opponent, and I just play lands for the first couple of turns.  Nantuko Husk and Drowner of Secrets are the first real action of the game, and my opponent starts slowly milling my deck away.  I bait a counterspell with Goblin Assault, which gets nailed by Cancel, and then cast Sarkhan Vol to steal and sacrifice my opponent's Drowner of Secrets.

My opponent casts out Ink Dissolver, and then takes out my Sarkhan Vol with Cryptic Command.  I cast Bitterblossom and then use Torrent of Souls to get Mycoloth into play, but my opponent takes out the 6/6 with Resounding SilenceSurgespanner comes into play on each of the next two turns, and I'm dangerously close to being locked out by bounce.  I can't believe I'm going to lose this game...  and then I draw Caldera Hellion and easily win after Wrathing his entire team.  Thankfully he didn't have another Cancel.

Analysis:  The mill aspect of this deck would have taken forever to finish me off, but I was really close to Surgespanner locking me completely out of the game.  One weakness of this deck is the lack of spot removal for troublesome creatures.  The only real options that I have to deal with something like Surgespanner is Sarkhan Vol + Nantuko Husk or Caldera Hellion.

Drowner of Secrets

Caldera Hellion is one way to take out smaller utility dudes - Firespout, Jund Charm, Pyroclasm, Hurricane, and Incendiary Command are a few others that I can think of if you want to run something else in this slot.  The problem with those cards, of course, is that they also wipe out most of your own guys.  There's still lots of synergy with Sprouting Thrinax, persist creatures, and token generators - so the benefits still have a good chance at outweighing the negatives (depending on the metagame).

So which board sweeper is best?  Pyroclasm is super cheap, Firespout is a little more expensive but offers some more powerful selective sweeping options, Jund Charm and Incendiary Command have some versatility, Hurricane is a potential finisher but only takes out flying creatures, and the Caldera Hellion is expensive but leaves you with a monster.  The choice is up to you, but for now I'm going to stick with the Hellion.

Of course it's also possible that you decide board sweeping isn't important for this deck.  If that's the case then I'd suggest replacing Caldera Hellion with Murderous Redcap.  Back to testing.

Game 15 vs RG Burn Aggro

Pressure comes in early courtesy of double Tattermunge Maniac.  I cast Bitterblossom and Safehold Elite to stabilize.  I take out one Tattermunge Maniac with a Bitterblossom token on turn three, and then my opponent spends the next three turns using Incinerate, Flame Javelin, and Incinerate to take out my Bitterblossom tokens and clears the way for his other Maniac.  This whole time I've been attacking with Safehold Elite, so our life totals are both right around ten.  I cast Nantuko Husk and my opponent plays Boartusk Liege.

I cast Sprouting Thrinax and in response my opponent attacks with everything and then taps out to burn me down to two, leaving a kill (for me) on the board.  I attack with a 10/10 husk for the win.

Analysis:  I think that my opponent threw this one away by aiming so much burn at my creatures.  I had a Bitterblossom and Safehold Elite, so it's not like he was getting rid of anything for the long term.  He did get Tattermunge Maniac through my defense a few times with burn, but I still think he would have been better off tossing the burn right at my face.

Tattermunge Maniac

Even with the misfired burn spells, it took a pretty extreme 10/10 to win the game so quickly.  It's really cool that this deck can come back so quickly and just finish off an opponent so quickly after a hiccup.

Game 16 vs WUG Control

I cast Bitterblossom and then Nantuko Husk, which my opponent nails with Pacifism.  Steward of Valeran gives my opponent a bit of offense, and I come back with Grave Pact.  Oblivion Ring takes out Grave Pact, and I trade two Bitterblossom tokens for the Steward.  I get Sarkhan Vol into play and start beating down, since I'm pretty sure that planeswalker is not long for this magical world.

I get a second Bitterblossom and, as expected, Sarkhan Vol goes down to another Oblivion Ring.  Mycoloth comes into play as an 8/8, but every creature on the table goes down to Austere Command.  I get Sprouting Thrinax and Nantuko Husk into play, but my opponent takes out the Husk with Snakeform and a Mulldrifter.  That was my last chance to win.  Loxodon Warhammer turns the Mulldrifter into something very scary and I go down quickly.

Analysis:  This game was a pretty clear example of my opponent taking out all of my important cards one way or another.  Pacifism, Oblivion Ring, Austere Command, another Oblivion Ring - he had a solution for everything.

Game 17 vs Uw Merfolk

I play Savage Lands into Sprouting Thrinax.  My opponent plays Wanderwine Hub and then then uses Unsummon to bounce my Thrinax.  I take this opportunity to get Grave Pact into play and then recast my Sprouting Thrinax.  I try to cast a second Thrinax, but my opponent has Faerie Trickery.  I bring Goblin Assault into play and continue the beatdown.  I try to cast Nantuko Husk, but my opponent has Cryptic Command.  Thankfully I have seven mana and I'm able to get Sarkhan Vol into play.  My opponent concedes.

Analysis:  I fight through some counterspells and my opponent taps out to counter the wrong threat.  This is the control player's dilemma.

Some Lessons

Alright that seems like enough test games to me.  I've got a pretty good idea of what this deck is capable of.  So what did I learn?

Sprouting Thrinax

Sprouting Thrinax is amazing - I'm becoming a huge fan of this card.  It comes down on turn three without too much trouble, is a nightmare for aggro to swing through, produces a bunch of tokens, and doesn't trade 1-for-1 with very many cards (Unmake and Oblivion Ring are some common exceptions).  The Thrinax also does amazing things with Nantuko Husk, which reminds me a little bit (a LITTLE bit) of what Arcbound Ravager is capable of in Affinity.  Nantuko Husk can grow all the way to 10/10 alongside just one Sprouting Thrinax!  It's a shame there's no modular (and, of course, no Cranial Plating or Skullclamp - right?).

Spot removal can be tough to deal with, which sounds weird considering the deck generates such a huge number of tokens.  This concern mostly arises against control decks that have managed to neutralize your early attack.  If you're heading into the mid-late game and have a few Bitterblossom tokens in play to finish the game, it can be tough to know when to lay down a Mycoloth and when to continue the Bitterblossom beatdown.  The Mycoloth is certainly very appealing, and even just one turn of dropping four or six token creatures is a huge step towards winning the game - but just keep in mind how much you will get set back if Unmake hits your Mycoloth.

The final lesson learned that I want to mention here is that Sarkhan Vol is a very powerful card.  I guess this isn't much of a surprise, but there are lots of cards that seem super strong on paper that once you actually get in a game are just not as good as you thought.  Will Sarkhan Vol live up to all the hype as the first chase Mythic Rare?  It's hard to say.  Sarkhan Vol may not be a huge tournament staple - that really depends on the viable decks and state of the metagames to determine, but it's a strong card and a lot of fun to play.  Sounds like a winner to me.

For Those on a Budget

Here's how the cost of version 2 (before the BR token makeover) of Supper's Ready works out, according to prices on mtgotraders.com:

Card Name Quantity Total Cost
Safehold Elite 4  $0.48
Kitchen Finks 4  $2.60
Heartmender 4  $2.00
Caldera Hellion 4  $3.20
Skullmulcher 1  $0.60
Mycoloth 2  $2.00
Sprouting Thrinax 4  $3.60
Garruk Wildspeaker 2  $9.00
Sarkhan Vol 2  $17.00
Goblin Assault 3  $5.25
Bitterblossom 3  $50.25
Rite of Consumption 2  $0.04
Reflecting Pool 4  $56.00
Fire-Lit Thicket 4  $8.00
Graven Cairns 2  $3.50
Forest 4 N/A
Mountain 3 N/A
Swamp 2 N/A
Savage Lands 4  $5.00
Twilight Mire 2  $10.50

Supper's Ready clocks in at $179.02, which is pretty expensive - so let's do something about that.  There are a few problem areas we need to address in order to cut down the cost of this one:

  • The manabase
  • Our four planeswalkers (2x Garruk Wildspeaker, 2x Sarkhan Vol)
  • Bitterblossom

The manabase is the easiest way to cut down the cost of our deck.  We're going to lose either explosiveness and/or consistancy, but if you're working on a budget then you've got to do what you've got to do.  If you're planning on investing some money into Magic Online, then I always recommend picking up some quality lands.  Sure they're not as sexy as some sweet creature, but they will get play in tons of decks.  I'll rebalance the lands depending on the other choices we end up making.

Reflecting Pool
Sarkhan Vol
Not budget friendly.

Up until Shards of Alara, Bitterblossom would have been almost impossible to replace - but Goblin Assault isn't too bad of a choice.  We were already running three copies in our list, and with the loss of Bitterblossom we definitely want to up the count to four.

Out:  3x Bitterblossom
In:  1x Goblin Assault

That still leaves two cards that we need to replace.  Here are a few different options available:

Marsh Flitter
Three creatures all at once, built-in evasion, can also be pumped by Goblin Assault tokens.

Warren Weirding
Weird removal spell that doubles as a way to produce an additional token in a pinch.

Siege-Gang Commander
Strong creature that comes along with three tokens, provides some reach.  Costs about $2 each.

Dragon Fodder
Crappy Mogg War Marshall replacement.  Fits the same two-drop slot as Bitterblossom at least.

Gilt-Leaf Ambush / Hunting Triad
Pretty standard token generation.

I'm going to go with Marsh Flitter for now.  It's a strong threat, comes with a few creatures, and only costs a single colored mana.

In:  2x Marsh Flitter

The planeswalkers are a bit of a tough replacement, seeing as they are a weird type of card.  If I were to play this deck right now, I'd run 4x Sarkhan Vol instead of 2x Sarkhan and 2x Garruk - so I'll concentrate on trying to replace his abilities.

Out:  2x Sarkhan Vol, 2x Garruk Wildspeaker

One of the great things about Sarkhan Vol is his ability to Threaten.  If you're looking for a replacement, then I guess this isn't a bad place to start.  This is obviously much less versatile, but slightly cheaper and only requires one specific color of mana.

Unwilling Recruit
This is a color-intensive Threaten with some added bonusus.  If you end up with a heavy red deck, then it might not be a bad idea.  Keep in mind that you can also use this on your old creature as a sort-of Howl From Beyond.

Torrent of Souls
This is the closest replacement for Sarkhan's +1/+1 and haste-granting ability.  This card worked out well for us above, so it might be a permanent replacement.

In:  2x Torrent of Souls

As for the final two slots, I can't really decide between Murderous Redcap and Nantuko Husk.  I don't think you can really go wrong either way, but I'm going to go with the Redcap - the prospect of getting a Redcap online alongside Heartmender seems like a lot of fun.  If we were still running Sarkhan Vol, then Nantuko Husk would be an obvious choice (great synergy with a recurring Threaten).

In:  2x Murderous Redcap

One positive aspect of these changes is that we've cut out a bunch of green mana symbols.  There's still a decent amount of green mana in the deck, but it does makes fixing up the manabase a bit easier.  How about something like this for mana?

4 Savage Lands
4 Vivid Grove
2 Vivid Crag
2 Swamp
4 Mountain
7 Forest

So here's the updated budget list

Supper's Ready on a Budget
Steve Gargolinski - Standard Legal
4 Safehold Elite
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Heartmender
4 Caldera Hellion
1 Skullmulcher
2 Mycoloth
4 Sprouting Thrinax
2 Marsh Flitter
2 Murderous Redcap
27 cards

Other Spells
4 Goblin Assault
2 Rite of Consumption
2 Torrent of Souls
8 cards
7 Forest
4 Mountain
2 Swamp
4 Savage Lands
4 Vivid Grove
2 Vivid Crag
25 cards
Caldera Hellion

These changes removes $154.25 out of the deck, and then adds $4.19 back in.  That cuts down the cost of this list by quite a bit, from $179.02 to $28.96.  That's not too bad for a budget version of a pretty expensive deck, right?


I'm not sure which version of this deck is more powerful (the original or the Husk/Torrent/Grave Pact makeover), but they are both a blast to play!  I love the Heartmender recursion avaialable in the first list, but you can't go wrong with the explosiveness of Torrent of Souls and Nantuko Husk in the second list.  Whichever version you want to play, be sure to run Sprouting Thrinax.

Thanks for reading!

Steve Gargolinski


Dragon Fodder by spg at Fri, 11/14/2008 - 13:32
spg's picture

I think that I probably discounted Dragon Fodder too quickly as just a crappy Mogg War Marshall replacement.  There are some positives and negatives to both cards, and now I can definitely see how well it would work in this deck.

Mind posting your list?

by Timetoeatfood(Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 11/14/2008 - 12:19
Timetoeatfood(Unregistered)'s picture

Okay, I did some experimenting with my deck based on your article.  Marsh flitter just came up short for me too much.  Four mana that only provides fodder... I'm having better luck with Dragon Fodder since it hits faster.  However, my build is a little more aggressive.  I run less CIPT lands, which is a lot more inconsistent (so I had to cut the Thrinax).  If my build was going for consistency over explosiveness, like yours, then the Marsh Flitter might be the correct call over Dragon Fodder.  Also, the Skullmulcher is useful too because sometimes I get locked into a ground stall and I need to find either a Hellion or the Predator Dragon ASAP.

 Torrent of souls...  all I can say is "wow!"  Great call on that card.  Rite of consumption is something I should like more than I do.  It's probably just a play style since a lot of my games become top deck wars after a wrath, but I recognize where it could outright win games when you can't push the damage through.  I'll try it more tonight.

One more card for you to try is Elvish Visionary.  I've had good luck with him - he digs through the deck (getting five lands is so crucial), makes good munchy fodder, and can play defense in a pinch.  Let me know if you try him out.

I love the article!  Especially transforming the deck into a budget version which is still very effective!

by Timetoeatfood(Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 11/13/2008 - 11:31
Timetoeatfood(Unregistered)'s picture

Predator Dragon is a house.  I run him as a 2-of and he can outright win games.  Never underestimate a huge hasty flier.  I'm going to have to playtest torrent of souls later, it looks good.  Also, I wasn't sold on Dragon Fodder initially, but I actually run them quite a bit now.  Sometimes what I need is early defense against weenie rushes and the tokens certainly do the job.

Predator Dragon by spg at Thu, 11/13/2008 - 11:45
spg's picture

I think you're definitely right about Predator Dragon - I didn't give that card enough credit.  There are lots of situations with this deck where a Predator Dragon just wins you the game immediately.

Mistake by spg at Thu, 11/13/2008 - 06:26
spg's picture

You're right man, that's a mistake on my part.  I take pretty detailed notes as I play, and then write up the report right after the game - so I'm not sure what happened there.  My apologies.

game 8 by Anonymous(Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 11/12/2008 - 11:13
Anonymous(Unregistered)'s picture

Hmm, game 8 you said his primal command took out your hellion. How did he do that?

Thanks by spg at Wed, 11/12/2008 - 06:08
spg's picture

Thanks for the feedback guys, I will make sure to keep the decks coming - and make sure to always include budget-friendly versions.

Good Stuff by Leviathan at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 15:49
Leviathan's picture

I gotta say I like the budgetizing of the deck.  As someone without the reflecting pools online it is helpful.  That, along with the walk throughs, matches, and different options of where to go with the deck leads to a very thorough article.  Good job, and I'm looking forward to more decks!

by Katastrophe at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 13:47
Katastrophe's picture

I was going to say that you should've compared Garruk vs Sarkhan, but then you did. Then I was going to say that this deck was stupidly expensive and that not even 5 color control costs much more. (Even though you're not BoaB, I know.) But then you adressed that too. Actually that's a really long article. You pretty much covered everything.

I'm not really a fan of devour. I'm sure I sound like a newbie who doesn't want to sacrifice anything. But outside of building around it, which you did fantastically, or using the Predator Dragon as a finisher in the elves combo, I don't think it's useful. You'll either never be able to use it, or you won't want to consolidate your army because you're fearing removal. +1/+1 counters aren't worth a lot.