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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Dec 14 2007 12:33pm
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After my last month or so of building and testing, I wanted to go in a slightly different direction with my efforts.  Aggro is wonderful, but one needs a break every now and again.  I don't play combo much, or particularly enjoy it, so I skipped that (although I hear there might be a sick Flash article coming from a veteran combo fiend), and straight control is also kinda "meh" to me.  So, I'm looking at a mid-range or aggro-control deck of some sort.  At this point, I started looking at cards and colors for a new start.

I first considered something in the vein of Scorponok's Haterade.  A little history here.  Classicquarter.com was (and is) the main source of Classic tech and discussion, and the founder of CQ, Dangerlinto ran PRE's called the Eternal Struggle.  The last season, Scorp was on top of the standings, frequently winning with a G/W deck jammed full of hate cards against the meta-game at that time.  The meta at that time was predominantly aggro, like Affinity and Boros variants, a little bit of Psychatog-based control, and some storm combo.

 For reference, here's Scorponok's "Haterade Stormkiller".

4 x Glowrider
3 x Kataki War’s Wage
4 x Loxodon Hierarch
3 x Sakura-Tribe Elder
3 x Spike Feeder
4 x Troll Ascetic
4 x True Believer
3 x Viridian Shaman
2 x Uktabi Orangutan
4 x Swords to Plowshares
2 x Umezawa’s Jitte
2 x Worship
1 x Blinkmoth Well
2 x Flooded Strand
5 x Forest
2 x Plains
4 x Temple Garden
4 x Windswept Heath
4 x Wooded Foothills   

Troll Ascetic

3 x Chalice of the Void
3 x Honorable Passage
1 x Kataki, War's Wage
2 x Naturalize
3 x Oxidize
3 x Rule of Law

To quote Scorp, "This version of Haterade made to kill combo decks.  It still does almost as well as the original flavor against aggro decks."  This deck was built back when Classic was a muddle of Aggro decks (mostly Boros and Affinity variants), some combo (usually storm-based, although some dragon existed), and midrange, such as this one which is designed to beat aggro and storm, and a little control, such as Tog variants.

I used this deck as a starting point, and while is seemed to test alright, it was built for an older, slower meta, and didn't feel strong in the current environment.  Specifically, Viridian Shaman, Uktabi Orangutan, and Kataki, War's Wage aren't nearly as strong without a lot of Affinity, Glowrider is too slow to fight current top combo deck Flash, and Worship and Loxodon Hierarch are just too slow these days without plenty of disruption to set them up.

After a few games, I made some updates to reflect the new cards that have been printed since the beginning of the year and the changes to the meta-game.  I dropped Glowrider for the more relevant Aven Mindcensor, moved all the artifact hate to the side and replaced those eight cards with four Mana Tithe (for more one turn plays and a little bit of disruption), and four Samurai of the Pale Curtain who is a decent beater and also is disruptive.  I ran the deck a few more games.  I swapped out Spike Feeder for Goyf for a bit, then went back, then just put them both in.

I found out Aven Mindcensor is some good, but a touch slow.  Still, it's fun to randomly Stone Rain people by flashing him in when they crack a fetchland.  He's decent vs. Flash, mildy effective against random decks (screwing up Matrons, Vamp Tutors, Trinket Mages etc).  I hate to play Mana Tithe, but sometimes you need turn one plays.  Sad face.  It could be many other cards though.  Savannah Lions or Isamaru, Hound of Konda if you want to be more aggressive, Gaddock Teeg to stay disruptive, Goyfs if you want to go bigger, or even Chrome Mox to make your turn two plays on turn one.  Of all of these, I prefer Tarmogoyf or Mana Tithe, but it's kind've a meta-game slot.  True Believer is decent, also randomly hosing various effects, and a decent beater.

My final product.

4 x Swords to Plowshares
4 x Mana Tithe
4 x Watchwolf
2 x True Believer
4 x Samurai of the Pale Curtain
4 x Tarmogoyf
2 x Umezawa's Jitte
3 x Spike Feeder
3 x Viridian Shaman
4 x Troll Ascetic
4 x Loxodon Hierarch
4 x Flooded Strand
4 x Windswept Heath
2 x Wooded Foothills
4 x Temple Garden
2 x Mishra's Factory
4 x Plains
2 x Forest

Samurai of the Pale Curtain

Everyone likes Samurai... except ninjas.

4 x Krosan Grip
4 x Leyline of the Void
4 x Jotun Grunt
2 x Uktabi Orangutan
1 x Ronom Unicorn

As far as matchups go, Flash is pretty bad if they go off quickly (and they tend to).  You have Swords, Mana Tithe, Samurai, and Leylines after board, and all the Viridian Shaman types for fighting the Nought part of the deck, but all in all, a bad matchup.  Aggro is pretty easy.  Troll Ascetic and Spike Feeder usually ends up a bigger beating than Loxodon Hierarch, but they all combine to work well together.  Thresh is also a bad matchup, due to them have (Lightning Bolts) or Swords to Plowshares to win Goyf fights, and Counterspell and Force of Will to protect their Goyfs.  However, all is not lost, as you can fight back with Watchwolf (as big as their Mongoose with Thresh), Mana Tithe on their early setup plays, and Spike Feeder to grow your creatures as big or bigger than theirs.  Stifle-Nought is if not favorable, then definently even.  Their main win condition is resolving and protecting a Phyrexian Dreadnought, but you run 187 creatures before board, and after board have Krosan Grip and more 187s.  You can lose if they have the perfect hand to defend their big beater, but other than a perfect hand, you win.  Affinity is slightly favorable with three cards main deck that directly attack them, and seven more after siding to bring your deck to 1/3 "good stuff" against the brown aggro deck.

Here's a recap of game two of a Stifle-Nought match.  Game one I lose a close one when I misplay and don't double Mana-Tithe his Vampiric Tutor AND he has the Force of Will to stop my Viridian Shaman

I start with a fetchland and pass.  He leads off with a Polluted Delta, and Chrome Mox, removing a blue card (don't remember the exact card) and passes back.  I crack the fetch for a Temple Garden EOT.  I play Plains and True Believer as he'd hit me with discard last game.  He fires Brainstorm and then on his turn, drops another Polluted Delta into another Watery Grave, into Threads of Disloyalty taking my man.

I drop a Forest, then a Tarmogoyf.  He drops a Ghost Quarter and then Ponder, and doesn't shuffle.  I play a Mishra's Factory and swing with the Goyf.  He blocks, and the True Believer hits the bin, just another dead fanatic.  My Goyf is a 5/6, and I joke, "I can almost race now."  He untaps, makes a black Chrome Mox, and casts Damnation

I beat down with my Mishra's Factory and play a Sakura-Tribe Elder, as this was during a time when I hadn't had the Spike Feeders in the deck.  He drops a Dark Confidant, and I cringe, but realize that he may actually be the extra source of damage I need and as I'm holding onto a Viridian Shaman and a Swords, I feel alright about him drawing into a Nought.  I attack with the STE because I want to force damage though, and by this point, he's I have a decent lead in life.  He elects to take it, and goes to eleven.  He takes one when he reveals Ponder to Bob, (ten) and plays a Dimir Cutpurse.  

On my turn, I try to run out a Watchwolf, and he casts Force of Will dropping down to nine life.  I pass the turn back.  He reveals Trickbind and drops to seven, then attacks with the Cutpurse.  I turn on my Factory, and he kills it with Ghost Quarter.  I fetch a Plains, and then Swords targetting the Cutpurse.  He has the Force of course, and drops to six.  I block the Cutpurse with my True Believer, and we trade men.  I want to keep pressure on in the form of beats, so I drop a Viridian Shaman, and blow up his Black Mox.  He reveals Ghost Quarter to Bob, plays it and passes back.  I play Temple Garden, then attack with my guys.  He takes to three.  Yet another Ghost Quarter flips for Bob, and he drops it, then passes back.  I play Tarmogoyf, and he Ghastly Demises it.  I attack with the team, and he blocks the Shaman, taking one from the tribe elder to twone life.  I get to attack again for 1 more.  He finally drops Dark Confidant number two  I attack with the snake again, and he blocks.  I play Viridian Shaman targetting his other Mox, and he concedes.

With the current meta, I'd have to recommend against Haterade, at least the build I came up with.  It relies too much on some decks self-destructing, and the disruption elements are a little too slow.  However, adding a third color to improve your matchups is something I'm working on now, and it seems to be coming along well.  I'll have more on that next time.

Something I'd also been thinking about was the cards needed to play in Classic.  You can enjoy Classic with the "updated extended deck" approach, but to truly experience it, there are cards that are Classic-only that you must at least play with a few times to truely appreciate the higher power level of Classic.  The following is a list, in rough order of importance, of Classic cards that are must-have eventually.  This list can help people who're looking to get into Classic, but aren't sure where to start, or those who're looking to build their collection and need some steering to where to focus.  Also, if you're shopping for someone for holiday gifts, these wouldn't hurt I'm sure.  I made this list, finished some proof-reading and submitted the article.  The next day I saw Dangerlinto's excellent list that pretty much overlaps this list at every point on cards to buy, hang onto and sell in Classic, so mad props to him for so much detail and beating me to the punch more or less.

10. The Onslaught Fetchlands - These are already a staple of extended, but they play an even bigger role in Classic.  Windswept Heath, Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Wooded Foothills and Bloodstained Mire fuel Threshold decks, play well with Brainstorm, and are key to having perfect mana.

9. Vampiric Tutor - Now restricted, this card is still key to Flash (although you could argue that Mystical Tutor is more important since you can run four of, but I like Vamp at this spot), fetching any missing piece to the combo, or the extra free counterspell; Force of Will or Pact of Negation; needed to win.

8. Stifle - Also a big part of Flash, along with just about every other deck that plays much blue, this card is a 1 mana Stone Rainagainst the Fetchlands, a counter for various 187 effects, an enabler for Phyrexian Dreadnought, and just all around great.

7. Standstill - The key card to the Landstill control deck, this is a two mana Ancestral Recall.  It is key because while it is available to ext players, it isn't played much due to not having to support cards that Classic offers.  Force of Will, Sword's to Plowshares, and Mishra's Factory are all big parts of many builds of this deck, and these cards aren't avaible to ext deck builders.

6. Leyline of the Void - This card is also available in ext, but is a minor-to-major sideboard card in some decks during times when graveyard based decks are big.  In Classic, you absolutely must have an answer to the graveyard, and while Tormod's Crypt is one option, most Classic Afficianados turn to the Void.  It comes out on turn zero (helping fight off those pesky turn zero Gemstone Mine turn one Flash starts), and enchantment removal isn't particularly common in Classic, making it usually stick a little longer.  The time that opponents have to spend searching for Chain of Vapor or Echoing Truth is time you can use to set up your plan of attack, be it Duress, getting counter mana up, or simply racing them with beats, Leyline part of the glue that holds Classic together.

5. Brainstorm - Brainstorm seems like a poor version of Ancestral Recall at first glance, but after you play with it, you fall in love.  It allows decks to play match-up specific cards that are bad in some situations, because you can always Brainstorm them to the top of your deck, then crack a Fetchland to shuffle them away.  It also defends your key cards from Duress, Thoughtseize, and other discard effects, and allows you to keep one land hands.

4. Tarmogoyf - The Best Creature Evar.  Or so they say.  I think our next guy may have something to say about that, but Goyf is the beater of choice for Threshold and various aggro decks, has been shoe-horned into Cephalid Breakfast (although he doesn't interact properly with Sutured Ghoul yet), and is good pretty much everywhere he raises his odd-looking head.

3. Dark Confidant - I guess I'm picking him as the Best Creature Evar, as I have him ahead of Goyf.  He fuels various black or partly black aggro decks, is a part of many Stifle-Nought decks, and provides card advantage and a two power beater.  Very strong. 

2. Swords to Plowshares - Swords is probably the most versatile card in Classic.  It sees play in Goblins, Thresh, Landstill, Stifle-Nought, and a plethora of other decks.  It may actually be more widely used than any other card on this list aside from Leyline of the Void.  It is played vs. aggro, control and combo, and for the low, low cost of one white mana. 

1. Force of Will - As in the other Eternal formats, much of the glue that holds the format together.  It's used to defend all sorts of key permanents and spells.  Flash wouldn't be the same without it, and neither would Thresh, Landstill, or Stifle-Nought, accounting for four of the best decks in the format.  Oddly enough, it's actually really bad, giving up a life and a card, but when you resolve it, you're often willing to pay twice the price to do what it does.

I wasn't planning on talking about this, but I realized reading this list that there is an obvious trend.  Blue is the best color in magic, obviously, and has most of the key cards, at four.  Black has the second most, and is the second-best color.  White and Green have one each, and lands make up the last of it.  Red isn't represented, mostly because Red cards that win are super-efficient and have lots of synergy with each other, but aren't outstanding on their own most of the time.  Now, just for your benefit, I will illustrate why Flash is potentially the best deck in Classic.  This is not to say it wins against everything, or that everyone should play it, but if you look at this list, Flash runs or has run cards No. 10, 9, 8, 6, 5, 3, 1.  I can't think of any other deck that has such a saturation of Classic power-cards, or any deck that defines Classic so much. 

I'm sure people will disagree with some or all of what I've said here, and I'm interested in what you think about this.  Did I miss any cards?  Is there a superior Haterade list?  Let me know!  As always, thanks for reading.

Tyler Walker
Walkerdog on MTGO


by Javasci at Sat, 12/15/2007 - 18:51
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If you're going to test a deck, you should test against the good decks, not against marginal decks like stifle-nought.

By the way, the Flash article I said I'd write (which you referred to in this article) got commandeered over here, which is Zherbus's new Eternal Magic website.

by walkerdog at Sun, 12/16/2007 - 01:10
walkerdog's picture

I agree with you up to a point about testing, but Stifle-Nought has put up decent results in PEs and the like, and I thought people might enjoy the exposure to it.  Plus, this deck is a dog to Flash, and while I did test that match-up, I didn't have any interesting replays to narrate or discuss.   

SOmetimes there is a need to by lenyrose2013 at Thu, 10/06/2016 - 07:06
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SOmetimes there is a need to split things over. Most especially if we talked about business. - Bath Planet