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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Aug 11 2007 10:12am
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It has been a busy summer. Make no mistake- after college, there is no such thing as summer vacation (unless you become a teacher). Working two jobs six days a week has left little time for PDC. That does not mean I have not been tinkering however. Recently, RG Thresher took home two second place finishes in the hands of two capable pilots, proving the deck has some serious legs. Rich substituted Incinerates for the Stone Rains, but idoru noted how the Rains were pivotal in his rise to the two slot.

Moving on, I have been on a kick as of late. This kick, as I have called it, involves revisiting old decks that I have cast aside for one reason or another. For example, not too long ago I took the old gauntlet staple Affinity to a PDC Euro event where I summarily went 1-2, thanks to one huge misclick- I targeted a creature without lethal damage with my Welding Jar- and lack of familiarity with the deck. In fact, nearly every loss I have had with the deck since taking it out of retirement has been to my own mistakes and not due to my opponent. Here is the list I played at that event

3 Bonesplitter
1 Choking Tethers
3 Dispersal Shield
1 Dragon Wings
4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer
2 Neurok Stealthsuit
2 Ninja of the Deep Hours
4 Phyrexian Walker
2 Quicksilver Behemoth
2 Rush of Knowledge
4 Somber Hoverguard
3 Thoughtcast
4 Tooth of Chiss-Goria
3 Welding Jar
1 Ancient Den
3 Azorius Chancery
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Great Furnace
7 Island
2 Lonely Sandbar
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Tree of Tales
1 Vault of Whispers

Myr Enforcer

The reason I went with the White splash over other colors is so I would be able to access Faith's Fetters out of the board, as well as some other goodies. This version is decidedly more aggro-control, featuring five different counter effects- the three Dispersal Shield and two Stealthsuits- to stall the opposition. I think this is an optimal skeleton from which to build further Affinity decks in Classic, as it runs a minimal amount of lands yet enough to function without a full Artifact suite, and has a decent protection game going. Fetters out of the board also shores up the aggro match-up nicely. White also opens up the deck to the sideboard options of Circles of Protection, helping to defend against the popular MBC decks of today.  White does not have to be the substituted color, however- Black using Carrion Feeder and Disciple of the Vault seems like an interesting, albeit fragile, plan that may be worth exploring.

Giant Dustwasp

Going back to the original kick, at the same event I played Affinity to a rather miserable finish, Lost But Seeking (still one of the finest deck pilots out there) took a deck from my old PDC listserv, without any change as near as I could tell, a played it to a much more entertaining (if not better) finish. The deck she played was a Black-Green number based off of old Rock style decks and incorporated a small card advantage engine into it based off of Splice. That list (the maindeck at least) is here:
1 Death of a Thousand Stings
8 Forest
3 Golgari Rot Farm
3 Kodama's Might
3 Krosan Tusker
2 Last Gasp
4 Rend Flesh
1 Soulless Revival
7Swamp
4 Werebear
4 Wild Mongrel
3 Citanul Woodreaders
4 Evolution Charm
3 Giant Dustwasp
3 Mindstab
3 Pit Keeper
4 Terramorphic Expanse

 

 

This list started with me trying to find a way to use Death of a Thousand Stings in conjunction with Soulless Revival to generate incremental advantages over the course of a game. Rend Flesh seemed like an obvious choice for this deck. In fact it was these cards, along with Blessed Breath, that formed the core of my mirror breaking Orzhov Standard list, so I have a fondness for them. This time though, I felt the same advantage could be applied to an incremental mid-range deck, such as the Rock. This seemed like a good deck in which Evolution Charm could shine, and the deck began to take on a graveyard theme. In these two themes, the deck was able to play with extra resources. The graveyard has been a known resource in PDC for a long time, but Splice has only made spot appearances. Why?
This undervaluing might take place because at first glance, the Splice cards in question are weaker than their non-Arcane counterparts (except in Ire decks, which operates along one strong linear); Glacial Ray just seems worse than Shock. However, in the current environment, which has strong Counterspell based decks, Splice is a boon. Splicing a Soulless Revival onto a Rend Flesh only to have the Rend countered still leaves you with the Revival. Additionally, Splice gives you a way to maximize resources while advancing your game state- perfect for an incremental advantage deck like the Rock (side note: I predict Splice will be a strong contender in PDC Extended after the Lorwyn rotation forces a split between the Classic and Extended formats at the PDC level mostly due to the fact that you can cast spells without wasting cards with Splice).
After LBS took the deck for a spin, I decided to rebuild it and give it a try. I immediately loved and hated it at the same time. I loved the way the Splice package enabled me to pull out of some rough situations; I hated how clunky the deck felt at the high end of the curve. I loved the way it could play games with the graveyard; I hated how it lacked a focused plan of attack- it wavered between aggro-control and mid-range. I went, as they say, deep into the tank, looking for a way to streamline the deck
First, I stripped away the Wasps. I loved these guys, but they just did not seem right for the deck. Every time I was casting them, I was either way ahead or far behind, and they never helped. I then decided to do away with the Mindstabs, as they were great early, but not as much late. I tired many different configurations, including one that had a single Horobi's Whisper, but settled on the following replacements: two Okiba-Gang Shinobi, two Last Gasp, one Revival, one Tusker, and one Keeper.
The standard sideboard packs the usual BG fare, Duress for control, Nantuko Vigilante and River Boa deal with Affinity and MUC style decks, Gutless Ghoul to counter both Orzhov and MBC variants packing Tendrils of Corruption, and Skullsnatcher as a way to deal with graveyard based decks. The current list looks something like this:

Death of a Thousand Stings

8 Forest
3 Golgari Rot Farm
7 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Death of a Thousand Stings
2 Kodama's Might
4 Krosan Tusker
4 Last Gasp
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
4 Rend Flesh
2 Soulless Revival
4 Werebear
4 Wild Mongrel
3 Citanul Woodreaders
4 Evolution Charm
4 Pit Keeper

Sideboard
4 Duress
3 Nantuko Vigilante
4 River Boa
2 Skullsnatcher
2 Gutless Ghoul

Some of the cards might seem odd. Kodama's Might, for example, is not exactly a pump spell here. Yes, it can serve that role but it is also a “free” counterspell against cards such as Last Gasp and Incinerate. It also provides a way to piggy-back Revivals and is a nice surprise factor in attack phases. Two is probably right, as three felt like far too many for a deck that became more mid-range the more I played it.
Playing the deck is all about adaptation. Against the slower decks, you want to play out beaters and threats and apply pressure. Against the faster decks, play out speed-bumps until you can establish board position and dominate the mid to late game. In both cases, the key card is Pit Keeper. Never be scared to run this guy out early as you will always draw more recursion late.
Recursion is key to this decks success. Being able to constantly regrow threats is a way around counters and removal, allowing the deck some late game punch. Going up against aggro, recursion allows you to win the attrition war on the field of battle; against control, they allow you to exhaust answers.
This deck is at its best when it plays against other well tuned decks. It excels against MUC and MBC decks, and also does fairly well against aggro-control decks. It has issues, however, with all out aggro decks and UR control decks running a Torch finish. The incremental card advantage SpliceRock uses can usually keep it on par with MUC and MBC, but the ability of UR to Torch the face spells bad times for this Golgari Special.

As always, keep slingin' commons-

-Alex

5 Comments

by dzejkej (Unregistered) 195.91.54.85 (not verified) at Wed, 08/15/2007 - 18:10
dzejkej (Unregistered) 195.91.54.85's picture

Thanks for the well-done article!

The deck is interesting and performing wery well and now I'm the lucky one seeing the new build in action, yupee ;).

by Gloinoin at Mon, 08/13/2007 - 10:00
Gloinoin's picture

We've spent time working on this deck the last couple of days and came to the same conclusions as you. Evolution charm is surprisingly playable, the land fixing is relevant often enough to make it worthwhile and I'v even used the flying modal a few times. The rest of your comments are valid though, barring the question about Okiba Gang. We don't run that in any deck to enable 187 creatures, we instead run it because it has a very large impact on most games and can occasionally win the game all by itself. I'll speak to Spike about getting an updated list posted.

by SpikeBoyM at Mon, 08/13/2007 - 10:19
SpikeBoyM's picture

Evolution Charm's strength is in its versatility; being able to either fix mana OR regrow a threat is extremely valuable.  Last Gasp, in current Classic, is quite good.  If the meta shifted towards tokens more (as the meta is in Standard), then Echoing Decay would be the right call.  However, the ability to give -3/-3 is significantly stronger than giving a creature -2/-2.  Seeing as how MBC is a very popular deck right now, I want to kill those Twisted Abominations dead.  I do not see how Pit Keeper is eating at my card advnatage bank, seeing as how the goal is to use the graveyard as a second library, not as a pure Threshold bank.  Finally, Okiba-Gang is a sick card against control- while 187 creatures obviously make it better, simply using him is also quite good.  And yes, Werebear is always a savage beating.

-Alex

by khirareq at Mon, 08/13/2007 - 09:39
khirareq's picture

Wait...Evolution charm?  Shouldn't that be the other 2 copies of revival?  Is the ability to search for lands and grant flying that important?  Are the last gasps that much better than horobi's whisper?  Or Echoing Decay, for that matter?  Isn't the Pit Keeper canabalizing your primary card advantage mechanic?  Shouldn't that be a Phyrexian Rager?  Do you have enough 187 creatures to justify Okiba-Gang?  Do you achieve threshold fast and consistantly enough to justify Werebear?

I don't play a lot of Classic Pauper, but that last deck just seems confused to me.

:D by J_Beatnik (Unregistered) 75.120.50.15 (not verified) at Sat, 08/11/2007 - 14:20
J_Beatnik (Unregistered) 75.120.50.15's picture

Sweet article. You definately beat me down with that deck. I'll have to see if I can create something solid in extended to deal with it. Mostly I've been playing pauper standard. I do think the deck is solid and a worthy contender.

 JB