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Nov 18 2008 8:41am
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Explorations #8 - Quirion Dryad Grows Up

Steve Gargolinski

Quirion Dryad is one of my personal favorite cards - a powerful and interesting creature from years past that returned in 10th Edition with some fanfare, but little real attention.  One of the major problems with Quirion Dryad's grand return was the existence of a little creature called Tarmogoyf - a major elephant in the room throughout most of its Standard run.

Quirion Dryad
Tarmogoyf
Fighting for that 1G slot all the way through to Vintage.


It's pretty tough to beat out Tarmogoyf for the 1G slot in any deck that can use a 5/6 vanilla creature and isn't heavily tribal.  That's not to say that any non-Goyf 1G creature was doomed to stay in the trade binder, but the barrier of entry was significantly higher.  Now that Future Sight has rotated out of Standard, it's much easier for players to explore other options.  Today, I'm going to try out a few decks with Quirion Dryad.

Here's a deck that I threw together for Friday Night Magic, just after the release of 10th Edition while Ravnica was still Standard legal:
 

Welcome Back
Steve Gargolinski - Old Standard Legal
Creatures
4 Looter il-Kor
4 Quirion Dryad
4 Trygon Predator
4 Tarmogoyf
16 cards

Other Spells
4 Simic Signet
4 Remand
4 Repeal
4 Rune Snag
4 Wipe Away
20 cards
Lands
4 Forest
12 Island
4 Simic Growth Chamber
4 Breeding Pool
24 cards
Remand

 This deck is somewhat of an update to the popular (at the time) Vintage deck GAT or the old Alan Comer creation "Miracle Grow": 

Miracle Grow
Alan Comer - Old Extended Legal
Creatures
3 Gaea's Skyfolk
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Merfolk Looter
4 Quirion Dryad
4 Curiosity
19 cards

Other Spells
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
3 Foil
4 Force of Will
4 Gush
4 Land Grant
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Winter Orb
31 cards
Lands
6 Island
4 Tropical Island
10 cards
 
Force of Will

I would post a GAT decklist, but that would involve typing out a whole ton of cards one at a time that aren't even available on Magic Online.  If you want to read more about the deck, then you can check out Stephen Menendian's 2007 Vintage Championship list here.  That should be a good starting point.

Regardless, the idea of all three of these decks is very similar: resolve a Quirion Dryad, protect it with your non-green magic, and then keep the board clear enough to swing for the win with a tiny little 1/1 carrying a bunch of +1/+1 counters.

In some ways this strategy is very appealing, but it could also seem like a resource managment nightmare.  On the plus side, Quirion Dryad can grow to huge sizes - and you don't really have to do anything very special.  All that you need to do is play Magic.  You don't need to devote any special resources to make this happen once the Dryad herself is in play, and the only real restriction on your card/deck selection is that you cannot run a high percentage of mono-green spells.  In today's environment, this is not a big problem seeing as Shadowmoor, Eventide, and Shards of Alara just added a huge amount of multi-colored options into the card pool.

So what are the downsides of running Quirion Dryad?  The first reason is the same reason that lots of people stopped running Tarmagoyf at all towards the end of the time it was avaiable in Standard: lack of tribal synergy.  Tarmogoyf is a Llurhgoyf and Quirion Dryad is a Dryad - neither of these creatures are going to line up for +1/+1 bonuses from creature lords any time soon.  The other obvious downside of Quirion Dryad is temporal - you need time to turn her into a real threat.  If you're in topdeck mode, then Quirion Dryad is basically a dead draw - unless a 1/1 creature is going to save you.  This is what makes Tarmogoyf such a superior card in most situations: it doesn't matter if you've kept him in play since turn two or if you cast him fresh on turn ten - he is still a huge monster.

The example decks listed above would be categorized as aggro control, but today I'm going to try something a bit different and go for straight up aggro.  The two deck ideas that I want to work Quirion Dryad into are GW Aggro and Rg Aggro/Burn.  Depending on how this goes, I might try out more of an aggro-control build in a later article.

Let's start with the green white deck.

Little Kids

Here's a deck that did ok, but not great, during the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Block PTQ season: 

Little Kids
Mike Flores - Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Block Legal
Creatures
4 Cloudthresher
2 Elvish Hexhunter
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Safehold Elite
4 Wilt-leaf Cavaliers
4 Wilt-leaf Liege
4 Gaddock Teeg
26 cards

Other Spells
3 Oblivion Ring
4 Shield Of The Oversoul
3 Barkshell Blessing
10 cards
Lands
6 Forest
9 Plains
4 Mosswort Bridge
1 Sapseep Forest
4 Wooded Bastion
24 cards
 
Barkshell Blessing

This deck seems to be a straight up GW build - just the way Wizards intended when they put together this linear.  None of the deck choices are really surprising, but it has one exciting card that makes me excited to work Quirion Dryad into this list:

Shield of the Oversoul

Now we're talking.  There's nothing worse than having a huge Quirion Dryad that you've poured your heart and soul into run straight at a Terror.  One way to combat this problem (as discussed above) is to run cards like Remand or Force of Will to stop black magic like Terror from ruining all of your hard work.  Another way to protect a resource like Quirion Dryad is to run something like Shield of the Oversoul.

Quirion Dryad isn't white-green, so it misses out on some of the Shield's bonuses, but it gets the important part:  Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and is indestructible.  There are still plenty of cards that will take care of Quirion Dryad even with a Shield (such as Boomerang, Unmake, or Condemn), but it eliminates a whole class of problematic cards such as Shriekmaw, Incinerate, and big creatures.

But seriously, an Enchant Creature?  Aren't Enchant Creature cards (and Auras in general) just a fool's path towards card disadvantage?  Well, yes - most of the time.  I'm always hesitant to run cards that Enchant something that's relatively easy to destroy - there's nothing worse than investing somewhere around double the time, cards, and resources just to lose everything at the hands of a single spell.  In general, Auras see little play in Magic - the danger of putting all of your eggs in one basket is just too great to justify the risk.  There are a few notable exceptions to this rule.  So when should you consider running an Aura?

(Note that this list needs some work, and is not complete - feedback welcome)
  1. When the Aura is something other than Enchant Creature.  Lots of decks run creature kill, but something like Enchant Player or even Enchant Land is less likely to get two-for-oned - Fertile Ground, Paradox Haze.
  2. When you are enchanting an opponent's resource - Annex, Pacifism.
  3. When the Aura can provide card advantage - Curiosity, Ocular Halo.
  4. When the Aura cantrips - Shielding Plax, Pentarch Ward.
  5. When the Aura is not lost if the creature dies - Rancor, Spirit Loop.
  6. When the Aura has particular combo synergy in your deck - Stuffy Doll + Guilty Conscience, Cho-Manno, Revolutionary + Pariah.
  7. When the Aura cycles - Hobble.
  8. When the Aura makes your resource difficult to remove - Shield of the Oversoul, Shielding Plax.
  9. When the Aura is just extremely powerful - Armadillo Cloak, Empyrial Armor.


Now I'm not saying that all of the example enchantments are worth running in any deck, but just that they all have some attribute that potentially makes then worth the two-for-one risk.  Shield of the Oversoul hits points eight and nine solidly, and also touches on five.  I don't feel bad at all about running a full playset.

Armadillo Cloak

There are some cool new options for this list in Shards of Alara, so I'm going to break down a bunch of deck options by mana cost.

One-Drops

Seedcradle Witch
Elvish Hexhunter
Barkshell Blessing

 None of these options seem particularly exciting to me.

Seedcradle Witch
Provides a decent mana-sink if the game ends up going into the late turns.

Elvish Hexhunter
Gets rid of problematic Bitterblossoms and Oblivion Rings.

Barkshell Blessing
According to Flores, Barkshell Blessing is a strong option in this deck even though Giant Growth effects are usually bad.

Two-Drops

Safehold Elite
Quirion Dryad
Gaddock Teeg
Vexing Shusher
Steward of Valeron
Knight of the White Orchid

 The two-mana slot is where the options for this deck really start to shine.

Quirion Dryad
The whole reason that we're going through this exercise.

Safehold Elite
Solid bear that provides some minimal protection against the mass removal that plagues decks like Little Kid.

Gaddock Teeg
This little Kithkin is our main defense against decks with cards like Cryptic Command and Wrath of God.  Without Gaddock Teeg, our deck has very few ways to deal with powerful spells.

Vexing Shusher
Along with Gaddock Teeg, a way to deal with Cryptic Command (and other Counterspell variants).  Probably more of a sideboard card.

Steward of Valeron
I really love the idea of this card - accelerates you to four mana on turn three without missing a beat in the red zone.

Knight of the White Orchid
Everyone is pumped up about this card - Magic players are always looking for a way to avoid manascrew without running dead cards.

Three-Drops

Shield of the Oversoul
Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers
Kitchen Finks
Oblivion Ring
Qasali Ambusher

Shield of the Oversoul
Discussed above.

Kitchen Finks
Tough to kill, adds extra life for aggro-aggro matchups, an all around total beater.

Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers
3/4 vigilance for three is pretty awesome, right?

Qasali Ambusher
Here's another card from Shards of Alara that I'm really excited to try out - it seems awesome to me, but I really need to play with it a bit to get a better read on how good it is.

Oblivion Ring
Vesatile removal, gets this deck out of some tricky situations.

Four-Drops

Wilt-Leaf Liege
Ajani Goldmane

Wilt-Leaf Liege
Automatic four-of.  Pumps up every creature in the deck, brutal against turn one Raven's Crime, solid beater on its own.

Ajani Goldmane
It's tough to say how good Ajani would be in this deck - he's up high on the curve and doesn't attack, but we should get big value with three or four creatures in play.

Big Monsters

Oversoul of Dusk
Cloudthresher


Oversoul of Dusk
The best card I can think of in the 'big guy slot' to battle cards that our strategy has trouble with.  Swings right through pretty much every creature; if you untap with the Oversoul then it's tough to lose.

Cloudthresher
If the Faeries deck is running around, then we definitely want the thresher.

All right, how about something like this?

Growing Up
Steve Gargolinski - Standard Legal
Creatures
2 Seedcradle Witch
4 Quirion Dryad
4 Gaddock Teeg
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Wilt-Leaf Liege
2 Oversoul of Dusk
4 Steward of Valeron
4 Qasali Ambusher
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Oblivion Ring
4 Shield of the Oversoul
8 cards
Lands
2 Windbrisk Heights
2 Mosswort Bridge
4 Wooded Bastion
8 Plains
8 Forest
24 cards
 
Quirion Dryad

This is a fairly standard GW deck from Lorwyn/Shadowmoor season, with some new options from Shards of Alara and, of course, Quirion Dryad.  I'm also running four total Hideaway lands, and I expect to activate both of them regularly - but I really want to have plenty of Plains and Forests to flash in Qasali Ambusher.

Let's see how well the Quirion Dryad meshes into the Little Kid strategy.

Game 1 vs RW Soldiers

I start off by hiding a Wilt-Leaf Liege under Mosswort Bridge, and then casting Steward of Valeron and Kitchen Finks to mount a decent offense.  My opponent plays out double Forbidding Watchtower, Druegar Assistant, and then Hearthfire Hobgoblin.  The Hobgoblin defeats both my Steward of Valeron and Finks in combat, so attacking doesn't seem like the best idea in the world.

Field Marshall pumps up my opponent's various Soldiers, but I have Oversoul of Dusk.  Militia's Pride gives my opponent swarm potential, and Oblivion Ring takes out my Oversoul.  My own Oblivion Ring gets the Oversoul back, and Mosswort Bridge brings Wilt-Leaf Liege back - turning my entire team into giants.  I attack with big monsters for the win.

Analysis:  I didn't see Quirion Dryad at all this game, which is a bit disappointing - but the rest of the deck worked as advertised.  The ability of Steward of Valeron to swing on turn three and then accelerate out a Wilt-Leaf Liege on the same turn is very powerful.

I really like Hearthfire Hobgoblin - and I've always loved Balefire Liege.  Lightning Helix is one of my favorite cards, and Balefire Liege brings the potential of a Helix with every spell cast.  Ajani Vengeant adds another way to produce a Lightning Helix-effect - not bad for a format without the Helix itself.  I'm definitely going to try this deck at some point; it sounds like a lot of fun.

Game 2 vs Someone Else Playing Quirion Dryad

I curve out Seedcradle Witch, Gaddock Teeg, and Shield of the Oversoul on Teeg.  My opponent plays Quirion Dryad, Bloom Tender, and then Swans of Bryn Argoll. Why can't I draw any of MY copies of Quirion Dryad?  That's the whole reason I'm playing this deck!  I never like the look of Swans, so I use Oblivion Ring to clear them out of the way and continue to sneak in some damage.

Militia

My opponent uses double Pyroclasm to clear out everything other than my tapped, indestructable Teeg and his 5/5 Quirion Dryad.  He swings with the Dryad and I have a surprise Qasali Ambusher to take her out.  My opponent concedes from here.

Analysis:  Once again, no Quirion Dryad.  At least my opponent had one this time, so I did get to see one of my favorite creatures in action.  I wasn't sure about the power level of Qasali Ambusher in a deck like this, but being able to play a 2/3 for free on the second or third turn and then untap into Wilt-Leaf Liege is pretty exciting.

This game also displayed just how much it sucks to put a bunch of resources into developing a Quirion Dryad only to see it die.  At least it wasn't our Dryad dying!

Ashenmoor Gouger
Game 3 vs Mono Black BR

I keep a hand with three copies of Gaddock Teeg, Forest, Plains, Seedcradle Witch, and Qasali Ambusher.  I start by casting the Seedcradle Witch and then the first copy of Gaddock Teeg - which dies to Cruel Edict.  I cast out a second and third Gaddock Teeg; the first goes down to Unmake, and the second dies to Nameless Inversion.  My opponent starts attacking with Emberstrike Duo and then Ashenmoor Gouger.  I use double Qasali Ambusher to take out the Ashenmoor Gouger, and then finally cast my first Quirion Dryad.

Unmake takes care of my Dryad about two seconds after she hit the table, and my opponent comes back with Ashenmoor Liege, and then double Murderous Redcap.  Any hope that I have goes down the tubes with a Raven's Crime that cleans out the rest of my hand (Forest, Plains, and the fourth Gaddock Teeg).

Analysis:  Keeping a hand with triple Gaddock Teeg is probably not the best idea, especially when your opponent ends up not having a single (well, that I saw anyway) non-creature spell that costs four or more mana.  I finally drew the Dryad, but Unmake takes care of pretty much any creature.

It's a lot harder to win with this deck when you don't get Wilt-Leaf Liege.  I think I could have pulled this one out if I had drawn Oversoul of Dusk somewhere along the line.

Game 4 vs Merfolk

I finally get Quirion Dryad in my opening hand, and run her out there on turn two after hiding Kitchen Finks under Windbrisk Heights on turn one.  My opponent plays Faerie Conclave into double Ponder, and then casts Merrow Reejerey on turn three.  I untap and drop Shield of the Oversoul on Quirion Dryad, swinging in for four damage.

Reejery heads into the red zone, but I have a Qasali Ambusher surprise and my opponent concedes immediately.

Analysis:  Finally!  Quirion Dryad in my opening hand, and I even had the ability to follow up with Shield of the Oversoul.  This is pretty much how I had hoped things would work out.  Running this out against blue Merfolk definitely isn't ideal, but there's still a fairly narrow set of cards that they can use to deal with it.

Once again, Qasali Ambusher proves his (or her?) worth.

Game 5 vs GBU Something

I tuck away Wilt-Leaf Liege with Windbrisk Heights on turn one, cast Quirion Dryad on turn two, and then a second Quirion Dryad with Seedcradle Witch on turn three.  My opponent casts Mind Stone, Mind Stone, Loxodon Warhammer, and then Rendclaw Trow.  I trigger the Windbrisk Heights to bring a Liege into play and power up my attackers.

My opponent uses Oblivion Ring to take out my Liege, and then summons Chameleon Colossus.  Thankfully I have an Oblivion Ring of my own to take care of the Colossus, which clears the way for my creatures to finish the job.

Analysis:  If you have a turn one Seedcradle Witch with Quirion Dryad in your hand, then it is usually the correct play to hold onto the Witch in order to gain the +1/+1 counter a turn later.  You're trading one damage on turn two, one damage on turn three, and two damage on turn four for zero damage on turn two, two damage on turn three, and then three damage on turn four.  Add three to the damage output of the turn four play for each scenario if you want to factor in Seedcradle Witch's ability.
Chameleon Colossus

This hypothetical is very simple, only taking into account the two cards in question, but that's the general thought pattern that you need to engage in order to figure out how to maximize the value of your Quirion Dryads.

Game 6 vs Elementals

My opponent has to mulligan down to five, but starts off quickly with Auntie's Hovel (revealing Nameless Inversion), Flamekin Harbinger (grabbing Smokebraider), Smokebraider, and then Beligerant Hatchling.  Thankfully I curve out pretty much perfectly with Seedcradle Witch, Gaddock Teeg, Qasali Ambusher (hardcast for the first time in six games), and then Wilt-Leaf Liege.  My opponent plays out Brighthearth Banneret, but concedes in the face of some scary monsters.

Analysis:  When Quirion Dryad fails to show up, this deck can obviously still bring it.  Not many opponents are prepared to deal with a 4/4, a 4/5, a 3/3, and a 4/4 on turn four.

Intermission

Quirion Dryad has worked out fairly well in this deck, but it doesn't seem better than some other available options - there are two in particular that I have in mind.  Safehold Elite falls into the same mana slot, but is a bit easier to cast, and gets the full bonus from Wilt-Leaf Liege and Shield of the Oversoul.  It's tough to kill and gets through for some decent damage alongside his green and white friends.

Knight of the White Orchid also fits into the two-slot, but is a bit tougher to cast with double white.  It's really sweet to have both a Plains and Forest in play on turn two to get Qasali Ambusher for free - but it's obviously still good on turn three or four also.  One thing that this deck can't really afford to do is get stuck on two mana - and Knight of the White Orchid is a pretty good insurance policy against this happening.  On the downside, this Knight only benefits from half of Wilt-Leaf Liege and the (usually) inferior half of Shield of the Oversoul.


Here are three ideas that I would consider if you want to try this deck without the Quirion Dryads, in a post-Alara environment:

Out:  4x Quirion Dryad
In:  4x Safehold Elite

GW Little Kid Safehold
Steve Gargolinski - Standard Legal
Creatures
2 Seedcradle Witch
4 Safehold Elite
4 Gaddock Teeg
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Wilt-Leaf Liege
2 Oversoul of Dusk
4 Steward of Valeron
4 Qasali Ambusher
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Oblivion Ring
4 Shield of the Oversoul
8 cards
Lands
2 Windbrisk Heights
2 Mosswort Bridge
4 Wooded Bastion
8 Plains
8 Forest
24 cards
 
Safehold Elite

Out:  4x Quirion Dryad, 1x Forest
In:  4x Knight of the White Orchid, 1x Plains

GW Little Kid White Orchid
Steve Gargolinski - Standard Legal
Creatures
2 Seedcradle Witch
4 Knight of the White Orchid
4 Gaddock Teeg
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Wilt-Leaf Liege
2 Oversoul of Dusk
4 Steward of Valeron
4 Qasali Ambusher
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Oblivion Ring
4 Shield of the Oversoul
8 cards
Lands
2 Windbrisk Heights
2 Mosswort Bridge
4 Wooded Bastion
9 Plains
7 Forest
24 cards
 
Knight of the White Orchid

Out:  4x Quirion Dryad
In:  4x Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers

GW Little Kid Cavaliers
Steve Gargolinski - Standard Legal
Creatures
2 Seedcradle Witch
4 Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers
4 Gaddock Teeg
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Wilt-Leaf Liege
2 Oversoul of Dusk
4 Steward of Valeron
4 Qasali Ambusher
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Oblivion Ring
4 Shield of the Oversoul
8 cards
Lands
2 Windbrisk Heights
2 Mosswort Bridge
4 Wooded Bastion
8 Plains
8 Forest
24 cards
 
Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers

In addition to these GW lists, there are also a bunch of potential splashes out there.  Splashing blue gets you Rhox War Monk and Esper Charm, splashing red gets you Naya Charm and potential burn coming out of the sideboard.  There are a lot of potential options for this deck moving forward.

Growing Up Angry

Something the last deck lacked was the ability to pump Dryad at instant speed, other than Hideaway tricks.  The second deck I mentioned that I wanted to try out was Rg aggro with burn and Quirion Dryad.  Having a deck full of burn spells (Incinerate, Shock, Flame Javelin) gives us lots of more versatile ways to pump the Dryad instead of just laying down creature after creature.

Here's the list that I'm going to test out:
 

Growing Up Angry
Steve Gargolinski - Standard Legal
Creatures
4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Quirion Dryad
4 Tattermunge Maniac
4 Hell's Thunder
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Flame Javelin
4 Incinerate
4 Lash Out
4 Shock
16 cards
Lands
4 Fire-Lit Thicket
4 Karplusan Forest
12 Mountain
4 Ghitu Encampment
24 cards
 
Demigod of Revenge

This is a pretty straightforward, aggressive red deck with just a small (but crucial) splash of green for Quirion Dryad.  Assuming that you get a turn two Quirion Dryad in play, then you can use your burn spells to either clear the way for Dryad damage or add a +1/+1 counter in the red zone with an Incinerate to the face.  Assuming that you get some decent damage through this way, it doesn't really matter if your Dryad is killed - her job has already been done.

You should almost definitely play Figure of Destiny in this deck, but I don't have any copies - so I'll use Tattermunge Maniac instead.  Lame, I know, but I don't feel like shelling out $100 for a playset.

Game 1 vs Seismic Assault/Ad Nauseum Combo

It's clear right off the bat that my opponent is playing a pretty unconventional deck - he casts and then retraces Raven's Crime until both of our hands are empty.  During this mass discard I manage to cast Shock and Incinerate to get some damage in.  We both go into topdeck mode, with me throwing every piece of burn straight towards his face (including Hell's Thunder) and him mostly just playing land.

Eventually he casts Seismic Assault, followed up by Ad Nauseum to draw twelve cards (including seven lands), bringing himself down to three life.  I'm at eighteen myself, and thankfully he only had eight lands total to pitch to the Seismic Assault.  He leaves me with two life and passes the turn.  I have my choice of weapon - Flame Javelin or Hell's Thunder - so I send the Javelin to his face for the win.

Analysis:  The noteworthy thing about this game was definitely my opponent's weird and cool deck.  It turned into a race between his discard/combo and my quick damage.  I wonder what the average goldfish turn of his deck is?  There's another one that I wouldn't mind trying at some point in the future.

Once again, Quirion Dryad is nowhere to be found.

Hell

Game 2 vs Death Baron

I have to mulligan to six, but come out quick with turn two Quirion Dryad and then turn three Shock + Incinerate + Dryad attack to bring my opponent down to twelve.  My opponent plays Spawning Pool into double Death Baron, but I cast a second Quirion Dryad and then Lash Out one of the Death Barons.  The clash leaves Demigod of Revenge on top of my deck, which easily wins the game.

Analysis:  This is pretty much the way I had hoped things would be able to go - I ended the game on turn five with a 5/5 Dryad, 3/3 Dryad, Demigod of Revenge, and a dead opponent.  I'm sure that there are quicker kills, but that's pretty fast.

Game 3 vs Mono White Exalted

I cast a turn two Quirion Dryad, and then Lash Out my opponent's turn three Skyhunter SkirmisherSigiled Paladin comes into play, and I clear the way with Incinerate to get in some more Dryad damage.  My opponent casts another Sigil Paladin, but I'm out of burn to deal with the exalted white knight.  I come in with Hell's Thunder, and my opponent casts Skyhunter Skirmisher.

I try to Lash Out the Skirmisher during the attack but DOUBLE Barkshell Blessing not only saves the creature, but also sends a ton of double striking damage my way - taking me all the way down to three life.  Thankfully I win the clash, which brings my opponent down to eight life.  I keep Shock on top of my library, swing with the Dryad, and then burn my way to victory.

Analysis:  I was able to use my burn to keep the key creatures off of the table for my opponent's exalted strategy.  Things got a little scary towards the end, but this deck's reach (combined with the ever-growing Dryad damage) was able to seal the deal.  Watch out for the double Barkshell Blessing + double strike combo - that one is trouble.

Game 4 vs Destiny Exalted

I keep a hand with double Ghitu Encampment and lots of burn.  This slows down my early development, but my opponent has no such issue - starting off with double Figure of Destiny and then Sigiled Paladin.  It's obvious that my super-aggressive deck is NOT the beatdown in this situation - so I use two copies of Lash Out and then Shock to try to stay alive, but I've already taken a bunch of damage in the process.  Not only have I taken a bunch of damage, but I'm stuck on two land.

Paladin en-Vec hits the table for my opponent, and things are not looking good for me.  Quirion Dryad is nowhere to be found.  Stillmoon Cavalier comes into play and I hit it with Shock, but then my opponent casts another Cavalier and Ajani Goldmane.  I get run over from here.

Sigiled Paladin

Analysis:  It's probably a bad idea to keep a hand like the one I did.  This deck doesn't want to get stuck on two lands, and definitely doesn't want to waste a bunch of time with tapped lands.  Paladin en-Vec is absolutely brutal against this deck - the only card I have to battle with is Quirion Dryad, and she needs at least two spells behind her to survive the fight.

Game 5 vs Something Slow

I play Tattermunge Maniac, Quirion Dryad, Hell's Thunder, and then Hell's Thunder and my opponent concedes.  He spent his time playing Terramorphic Expanse, Fertile Ground, and stuff like that.  He didn't cast a single 'real' spell.

Analysis:  Here's the lesson to learn from this game:  if your opponent stumbles around trying to develop land and mana, then you can just kill them before they do anything.

Almost Enough Dryad for One Day

I think it's time to call it a night and put away the Quirion Dryads until another day.  Both of the decks I played with today worked out pretty well, but I had a lot more fun playing with the red aggressive deck.  Quirion Dryad decks that I've played in the past have always been worried about protecting her, but I liked just running her out there alongside some burn to get in for some damage.

If you want to try out a budget version of this deck, then I would recommend something like this:

Out:  4x Ghitu Encampment, 4x Fire-Lit Thicket, 4x Karplusan Forest, 4x Demigod of Revenge, 4x Hells' Thunder

In:  4x Vivid Crag, 2x Forest, 6x Mountain, 4x Thunderblust, 4x Puncture Blast

Budget Growing Up Angry
Steve Gargolinski - Standard Legal
Creatures
4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Thunderblust
4 Quirion Dryad
4 Tattermunge Maniac
16 cards

Other Spells
4 Puncture Blast
4 Flame Javelin
4 Incinerate
4 Lash Out
4 Shock
20 cards
Lands
2 Forest
18 Mountain
4 Vivid Crag
24 cards
 
Thunderblust

Checking mtgotraders.com right now, here's the cost breakdown.

Name Quantity Price Per Card Total
Boggart Ram-Gang 4 $0.40 $1.60
Thunderblust 4 $0.90 $3.60
Quirion Dryad 4 $1.15 $4.60
Tattermunge Maniac 4 $0.25 $1.00
Puncture Blast 4 $0.20 $0.80
Flame Javelin 4 $0.50 $2.00
Incinerate 4 $0.12 $0.48
Lash Out 4 $0.08 $0.32
Shock 4 $0.02 $0.08
Vivid Crag 4 $0.15 $0.60

This comes to a total cost of $15.08, which isn't bad at all.  The main replacement is Thunderblust instead of Demigod of Revenge.  Thunderblust is an excellent card, and situationally better than Demigod of Revenge.  It's easier to cast, sends seven power directly into the red zone, and can come back to life once for free.  Demigod of Revenge has that whole evasion + built-in reanimation thing going, and is usually a superior card, but Thunderblust is a solid budget replacement.

Flores Jund Big Mana

One of the decks that I sketched out for the Jund shard is below:

I thought that the idea of mana ramping into Broodmate Dragon seemed like a lot of fun.  It turns out that this is actually a viable tournament strategy - Flores just went 6-2 with it at New York States.  His list is pretty different from mine, but it's the same basic idea.  If anyone liked this deck and wants to take it to a tournament, then definitely shuffle up Mike's list:

If you want to read a mini-tournament report, then check it out here.

Correction From All About Elfball

My article 'All About Elfball' had a small typo during the turn two kill step-by-step description:

Turn One:
Play Forest.
Cast Nettle Sentinel.

Turn Two:
Cast Glimpse of Nature.
Play Forest.
Cast Birchlore Rangers.
Draw a card.
Use Birchlore Rangers to tap Nettle Sentinel and Birchlore Rangers and cast Nettle Sentinel.
Untap Nettle Sentinel.
Cast Wirewood Symbiote.
Draw a card.
Untap both Nettle Sentinels.
Float mana.
Return Birchlore Rangers to your hand.
Cast Heritage Druid.
Draw a card.
Untap both Nettle Sentinels.
Cast Birchlore Rangers.
Draw a card.
Untap both Nettle Sentinels.
Use Heritage Druid and tap double Nettle Sentinel and Wirewood Symbiote to cast Nettle Sentinel.
Draw a card.
Untap all Nettle Sentinels.
...
Cast Chord of Calling for Predator Dragon. Win.
Cast Grapeshot. Win.
Cast Brain Freeze. Win.
Glimpse of Nature

This Wirewood Symbiote above in bold was a typo - instead of Wirewood Symbiote, you should tap your new Birchlore Rangers to cast Nettle Sentinel.  Wirewood Symbiote is not an Elf, and cannot be used for Heritage Druid's ability.  Sorry about that mistake.

Thanks for reading!

Steve Gargolinski
spgmtgo@gmail.com

10 Comments

wow by bijeded at Thu, 11/20/2008 - 16:57
bijeded's picture

You are quickly becoming my favorite deck building writer!

 Thanks for the great articles.

Very nice:) by Julian(Unregistered) 85.165.32.115 (not verified) at Thu, 11/20/2008 - 09:30
Julian(Unregistered) 85.165.32.115's picture

Great article man. Very well written and with tons of info. Best reading i had in ages:)

Good Reading by Rerepete at Thu, 11/20/2008 - 10:38
Rerepete's picture

I liked this article, especially the part where you anaylze individual cards.  We need more articles (perhaps a series) that can teach (new) players how to better assess cards and there places in decks.

Thanks by spg at Thu, 11/20/2008 - 11:09
spg's picture

Thanks for the feedback guys, I will do my best to incorporate these suggestions into future articles.

by WiseGreen(Unregistered) 189.104.103.51 (not verified) at Thu, 11/20/2008 - 07:36
WiseGreen(Unregistered) 189.104.103.51's picture

Aw man, you've made me start thinking about a decklist already ^^206

Great! by Tap Out! (not verified) at Tue, 11/18/2008 - 11:30
Tap Out!'s picture

I really enjoy reading your articles.  Thanks for all of your effort.

Thanks by spg at Tue, 11/18/2008 - 17:30
spg's picture

Thanks for the feedback man, I appreciate it.

by WiseGreen(Unregistered) 189.104.67.116 (not verified) at Wed, 11/19/2008 - 01:38
WiseGreen(Unregistered) 189.104.67.116's picture

Great article, man. If you keep writing this way, you might even become one of my favorite Magic writers! Just a quick side note:

The major factors that let MiracleGrow decks of past really abuse Quirion Dryad (IMHO were the cheated manabase (10 lands!), insane card selection spells and free spells. The deck really doesn't need/want to get past the 2nd or 3rd land, and can consistently reach that land drop even with a 10-land manabase running Lay of the Land, Sleight of Mind and Brainstorm. After that, you'll almost never draw another land, and if you do they can simply dump them to Foil/Looter. Besides that, Gush REALLY let you cheat your mana. That led to an imense virtual card advantage (as even if you're drawing less cardsthan your opp, you draw no excess lands, just action spells that at the very least will protect/grow your dryad), no mana flood and almost always better topdecks than your opponent had, which I think were the major strengths of the deck. Without the means of cheating the mana base that way and the absence of free spells, I don't think there's a successful way of recreating Miracle grow in the current Ext/Std environment. That also makes me sad, Grow and TurboLand were my favorite decks of that season :(

by Katastrophe at Wed, 11/19/2008 - 06:25
Katastrophe's picture

Wow. I never realized how many awesome 2 drops there were in standard. And you made the Qasali Ambusher look really good. I thought it was funny when you said "Out: 4x Quirion Dryad" since that was your starting point. It happens.

The Seismic Assault deck looked interesting. I bet it's 40+ lands with just the cards you saw. Since I own the Siesmic Assults (from my Countryside Crusher deck) I should try this out.

I built the deck "Budget Growing Up Angry" and I like it. The R/G strategy is favorite and I already owned some of the burn spells. But getting a late Dryad instead of a late Javelin hurts, though.

by spg at Wed, 11/19/2008 - 05:24
spg's picture

Yeah, it's a bummer, but I wouldn't hold your breath for Wizards to print a bunch of new 'free' blue counterspells and card drawing...  I think that us Miracle Grow fans are probably going to have to stick to Vintage.

I might try to work on a more aggro-control-oriented Quirion Dryad deck sometime in the future...  I'm sure it can be at least casually competitive - maybe with Stoic Angel?