walkerdog's picture
By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Dec 30 2007 11:59pm
Login to post comments

When playing Magic, one tends to develope certain preferences in regard to the decks they play, and how those decks approach winning.  Winning is the sole focus of Magic, at least in most game-types.  How we win starts at a basic level, a.e. do we Poison them, kill them with damage, set up an unbreakable lock, etc.  Then it is expanded to how we accomplish that strategy.  Flash, for example, sets up a combo-kill by Flashing out Protean Hulk and then letting it break to go get four Disciple of the Vault and a bunch of random zero casting cost artifacts that will die right away, doing twenty plus worth of life-loss.  However, how do they GET to that point?  Since Flash is restricted to one copy of it's namesake card, it must have a way to quickly dig it up, and also ensure it has the Hulk to smash.  Flash seeks to weather the storm that is any disruption their opponent throws at them just long enough to drop a game-ending spell.

With that in mind, I'll explain the play-style that I have found that I tend to drift towards.  I noticed this when playing the Haterade list from last week.  In that list, there creatures and spells that act as both threats to the opponent's life total, and answers to the opponents threat.  It seeks to play men that make up for only average efficieny in terms of X/X with abilities that will screw up the opponent's strategy, allowing any X/X to beat for the win eventually.  This strategy wasn't exactly appealing to me, although it was kind of fun to (In some ways) auto-pilot the deck, in that you often times drop the guy that hopefully answers their angle of attack and go from there.  Another example is Draw-Go, attempting to counter every spell they play that matters, and if they don't play a spell, draw a card or do something deadly at instant-speed.

This leads me up to the Rock.  This deck is an old standard in Magic, dating back (I believe) to Sol Malka, when he built a Green Black deck around Phyrexian Plaguelord (The Rock in this story), and Deranged Hermit (The Millions or Minions, as you prefer) as the core cards of a Black / Green midrange deck.  It sought to grind out winds, hitting relevant threats in opponent's hand with Cabal Therapy, playing Mutilate as Wrath of God if necessary, and bashing heads with Ravenous Baloth.  The deck has become obsolete and been updated countless times.  Until recently, the current Rock deck was an Extended pile of cards that splashed for Blue for Gifts Ungiven, allowing them deck to run all the solution cards it wanted.  It would stall the early game with Duress, Cabal Therapy and Eternal Witness, then move into the mid-game by Giftsing for it's key cards, then finishing the opponent off by grinding out a win with Genesis recurring creatures.  

I enjoy some aspects of the Rock, mostly how they approach the early game.  I enjoy the idea of getting all their relevant threats out of their hand, then dropping better threats, but for Classic, the threats that they tend to use are too expensive, and have too little effect for their cost.  Plus, the other problem that Rock decks run into is what to do when they take the opening hand away from their opponent, and their opponent top-decks a series of new cards that wreck the Rock as it top-decks the wrong answers.  With this in mind, I started building.  I started in Black Green, but quickly added white, as it gave me access to Doran, the Siege Tower, everyone's new favorite 0/5 three drop.  I decided that he would be a good answer to virtually every creature that an opponent could drop, short of a huge Tarmogoyf.  He also is a psuedo-trump in Goyf fights, letting BOTH Goyf's die, rather than just dealing each other one short of lethal, then having your opponent burn yours out.  I added Goyf in also, and since my threat-cost was staying low, I decided on Bob Maher himself, Dark ConfidantSamurai of the Pale Curtain is one of my new favorites after my last experment, adding another beater that has dual funtionality.  I had three Jotun Grunts as fatty beatdown and hate vs random stuff like Thresh, Doomsday (Did you know that if they cast Mental Note and drop off their two Animate targets, and then you Upkeep and Grunt them, they lose?).  Finally, I added two Loxodon Hierarch because it felt right, but dropped him after testing a few games.

The discard was very important, as it's what will allow time to win with such a simple method (attacking).  I automatically added four Duress, as it's the best at what it does, and what it does isn't pretty.  Sorry, little comic reference.  Anyway, I like to have eight one casting cost cards that will allow me to either attack an opponents hand, or defend against his spells on turn one.  I split between two Cabal Therapy, able to not only hit creatures, but ALL copies of a given card, and two Thoughtseize, because it almost never whiffs.  I then added two Gerrard's Verdict as both card advantage and situational life-gain.  Plus, while they do pick, the life-gain condition often-times tricks them into bad decisions.  Also, I had two Hymn to Tourach, but dropped it, as it was double-black, and rarely was better than Verdict, however, it might be better than the Therapies.

As for the rest, I ran four Swords to Plowshares (obvs), two Armadillo Cloak to have another life-gain angle, andtwo copies of Chainer's Edict and Smother, as they're pretty the same card, but give a slight versatility in what they can hit.  The land-base is slightly greedy, considering I'm running a three color dude, and a double white guy guy in Samurai, but I feel that Mishra's Factory is so great that you have to get them in if you can.  (Nantuko Monestary) is great as another option, and is typically fueled by your discarding, but I like the all-around utility of 2/2 beatdown.

Listy goodness time.

Like a Rock


4 x Swords to Plowshares
4 x Duress
2 x Thoughtseize
2 x Cabal Therapy
2 x Gerrard's Verdict
2 x Smother
2 x Chainer's Edict
4 x Tarmogoyf
3 x Jotun Grunt
4 x Samurai of the Pale Curtain
4 x Dark Confidant
3 x Doran, the Siege Tower
2 x Armadillo Cloak

4 x Windswept Heath
4 x Bloodstained Mire
2 x Temple Garden
3 x Godless Shrine
2 x Overgrown Tomb
1 x Plains
1 x Swamp
1 x Forest
4 x Mishra's Factory


Pitch good cards or give me more life to feed to Bob


4 x Leyline of the Void
4 x Krosan Grip
4 x Kataki, War's Wage
1 x Jotun Grunt
2 x Umezawa's Jitte

The Sideboarding is pretty standard.  The extra Grunt is for fighting Threshold, Jittes are for aggro, Grips for whatever, and Leylines against combo/Dredge.  One thing I would like to take this opportunity to talk about Cabal Therapy.  Cabal Therapy is a very interesting card, for several reasons.  It can hit any number of non-land cards, and provide card advantage and card efficiency by hitting 2+ of any given card in hand, and by turning your occasionally useless guys into another opportunity to get rid of more cards.  It has been commonly pair with Duress, both to give you 6-8 first turn discards, and as a setup for Therapy.  However you oftentimes should cast Therapy first. 

Look at it this way:  Turn one against Affinity.  They have dropped a turn one artifact land and Aether Vial.  You have the option to Duress them or Therapy them, with a Mishra's Factory, Viridian Shaman and another random card in your hand.  With this deck, and most aggro-control decks, you will eventually have equivalent creatures to Affinity, and the game will turn into a stand-off, broken by Crainial Plating on a flyer.  So, even though you might want to consider hitting Frogmite, as 2-3 of him can be a quick clock starting on turn 3, or maybe Arcbound Ravager, but while these are scary cards, the card that most often win a game are usually more subtle, like Skullclamp making every trade a bad trade,  and Cranial Plating letting Ornithopter and Blinkmoth Nexus hit you from above.  Now, with a hand containg a Shaman we can 2 for one them, and the Factory can contain almost any beats they can manage aside from a possible Myr Enforcer.  So in this game, I named and caught 2 Platings, and won from there.

Another example is the oft-cited Gerrard Fabiano story.  He's playing Goblins game one in Ext a while back, before the last rotation.  He is going to start winning on turn two, but does not know what his opponent's deck is.  So, he has the option to do nothing on turn one, or (I think) drop a Goblin Lackey to start winning slightly faster, or can Cabal Therapy.  He Therapies, and names Vampiric Tutor, getting 2... That card was a very good call, considering that undisrupted, he would win quickly, and not only could  Tutor fetch disruption, it could also possibly fetch a missing combo piece to combo him out before he could win.

So, after testing a few games, I realize that Therapy is wonderful.   Quite a few times you'll have a hand that can just win, given the opponent not having a given card. Hierarch just isn't enough in Classic these days, so I go searching for a strong replacement for him, hopefully a guy with an undercosted toughness to combo with Doran.  I find that man in Magus of the Tabernacle.  This guy is pretty nice.  He beats down with Doran, defends against ALMOST anything, and helps slow down aggro decks, making them either lose creatures or not have mana free to cast their other spells sometimes.  The Armadillo Cloak x 2 were bomby, but suck when people have much remobal, so I dropped them out for the Magus.  After a while, I began to feel like the Jittes did not do enough quickly either, so I dropped them too.  Serra Avengers into the sb for matchs that I need more creatures, or flyers in particular.  Kataki got SBed after I realized since I'm in white, that  Shaman is nice, but not as good as the Legend. 

As with the Rock in Extended, this deck doesn't have any bad matchups, provided you anticipate the meta properly.  This build in particular is hell on most of the combo popular in Classic today, as it attacks the hand and eats up graveyard resources, with 8+ Main Deck cards hitting each.  The deck also handles aggro with relative ease.   The minimal life-gain combined with a 3-color mana-base can make RDW matchups a little too close for comfort, probably slightly in their favor.  Affinity hates to fight 6 guys that they have to pay for their men each turn, not to mention Samurai and Goyfs, slightly comfortable matchup. 

Next week I'll have a write-up on where I went with this deck next, and a PE 3X Tournament report.

The second part of this article is a story about a PDC deck, and the accompanying Tournament Report.   I'd been messing around with a R/B Classic deck I was calling Blink-dos in my head, as in Momentary Blink in Rakdos colors.  I first started building in Rakdos, as I remembered SpikeboyM had built Rakdos in a recent article... but I couldn't find his list.  Building from scratch, I came up with something decent, but underpowered.  Something like this:

4 x Duress
4 x Firebolt
4 x Lightning Bolt
4 x Lava Spike
4 x Augur of Skulls
4 x Blind Creeper
4 x Ravenous Rats
4 x Keldon Marauders
4 x Chittering Rats
4 x Gravedigger
Some lands

Lava Spike

I suck at building it turns out.

Needless to say, it was pretty bad.  Too unfocused, trying to be both beatdown and a more long-game focused Card Advantage machine, I was really irritated with how bad it was.  So I started looking at old commons, and adding some that I'd played against.  Phyrexian Rager was an auto-include, as it attacked and gave me more gas.  (Keldorn Halberdier) seemed like a solid 1-drop.  Then I found him... Lava Zombie.  Look at the size of of the bones!  Death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy, teeth!  Also, he re-uses my 187 guys, adding more pressure to the board and hand, as if a pumpable 4/3 for 3 wasn't enough.  I also moved into Pit Keeper as a cheap beater who can bring someone back for more.

Semi-tuned list is as follows.



4 x Duress
4 x Firebolt
4 x Lightning Bolt
4 x Incinerate
2 x Pit Keeper
1 x Terminate
2 x Ravenous Rats
4 x Keldon Marauders
4 x Phyrexian Rager
4 x Chittering Rats
4 x Lava Zombie
3 x Keldon Halberdier

8 x Swamp
8 x (Mountain
2 x (Forgotten Moor)
2 x (Barren Cave)


Lava Zombie

He's like cheating!

2 x Ravenous Rats
4 x Molten Rain
4 x Order of the Ebon Hand
2 x Eyeblight's Ending
3 x Strangling Soot

My sideboard was pretty bad.  The SB Rats are so I'm not enabling Madness for someone too much G1... mostly just due to the Fear.  The Order should be a Shivan Zombie, as Spike helped me with, pointing out he can block (Guardian of the Guilpact) AND is pro white.  The EE should be 4x or Terminates, which I didn't have more of, but both were great all day.  The Molten Rain should be something else.  I dunno what.  The SS were relevant in 1 Matchup, and served decently there.  Pretty much are Firebolt 5-7 vs weenie aggro.

The deck plays as a tempo/aggro-control deck.  You beat down vs control, play controlling-attrition vs aggro (all your burn becomes removal), and seek to set up a few 2-for-ones, like them having to cast removal on your Rager, trading your Rats for one of their creatures, etc.  Then, you drop a Lava Zombie, bounce a 2-for-one, and get farther ahead.  The Keldorn Marauders are kind've bad, but they work.  Against aggro, you trade them for one of their dudes, and against control you seek to set up a sequence of dropping them, swinging the next turn, and bouncing with Zombie, to get  10 Dmg from them when you replay them, rather than 5.  They got sided out for Rats quite a bit.

Report time!  I'm pretty excited to start the round, haven't played in many MTGO tourneys, as my schedule at work sucks and being married crimps down playing time even more.   I'm playing against W/B Rebels.  G1 He gets his rebel-vantage engine going and blows me out.  G2 is a different story.  I keep a hand with NO land, but with 4 1 CC burn and 2 2 CC burn, and an Eyeblight's Ending.  I get a land turn one, and blow up a dude.  I continue to blow guys up.  On turn 4, I get mountain number 2, allowing my Incinerate x 2 to come online and suspend a (Keldorn Halberdier).   By turn 8, I have 2 Swamps out also, and the Halby swings.  He casts Temporal Isolation obvs.  Obvs I follow with a Lava Zombie and bounce my Halby back.   On his turn he points a Sunlance at my Zombie.  I re-suspend my Halby, and pass back.

I decide it's time to start beating, and drop a Pit Keeper, with no bonus for me.  I try to burn out his Amrou Scout, but he has the Fortify... Uhoh... I KNEW I shoulda Lightning Bolted that thing.  I'm new to the format.  I swing for 2.  He scouts an Aven Riftwatcher.  Oh, good a few dmg/life gained, but mostly a do-nothing card.  I bolt his Scout again, drop Ebon Hand (Eliciting a "You Bastard") and pass back.  He plays Blightspeaker.  On my turn, I Bolt that too, and continue attacking.  He doesn't have answers, and I win.

G3 I lost due to a CRUCIAL mis-play, as I F2 past him playing Crown of Awe on a Steadfast Guard, when I could've Bolted it in reponse.  GG me.

Round two is against RDW.  G1, RDW wins.  G2, I win by burning his threats, and dropping Chittering Rats, Ravenous Rats, and Phyrexian Rager on consecutive turns, ruining his hand and forcing him to blow burn and creatures to keep the ground clear to attack.  Game 3 is more of the same.  I burn out Keldorn Marauders to keep the bleeding down, and his smaller creatures trade with my 2-for-1 creatures.  A fatty Lava Zombie takes it home in 3 swings.

Round three, fight!  I'm up against u/b Ninjas!  I almost want to lose, cuz ninja's are Awesome.   I start out with Duress, seeing Trinket Mage, Augur of Skulls and Leonin Bola, and land.  Cool, I take the Bola.  He drops Augur, and I burn it.   He plays Trinket Mage, getting Viridian Longbow, and I burn him too.  I drop a Phyrexian Rager, and he drops Ninja of the Deep Hours.  I burn him and swing.  I drop another Rager, and the beat-down commences.  Easy win, only interesting play was when I chumped his regenerating Augur later with a Pit Keeper to keep Ninja goodness from occuring.

G2 Goes forever, due to him having 1 Black source and not being able to really unload his hand.  I beat down with a Halberdier for a few, and he finally drops an Augur of Skulls to chump.  I burn it out and keep swinging.  Eventually he's able to kill it, but I've got momentum on my side, dropping Rager, Lava Zombie and Rager again.  He stablizes on 6 with a Firebolt in my graveyard.  I obviously topdeck the next Firebolt, and burn him out over 2 turns.

Round Four is 2 frustrating losses to a G/W bigmana controlling deck sandwiched around a win.  I lose G1 Due to drawing 5 swamps in a row and after he bashes my only mountain with Reap and Sow, and game 3 to regular old mana-screw, but again he does have the Reap and Sow to ensure that I don't recover.  Frustrating, but he did do a good job of reading my mana-screw and using that.  G2 I burn his rebel engine, ignore his Riftwatchers (speedbumps) and beat down with fatty zombies and halberdiers.

Round Five:  I'm pretty sure I'm out, but White_djinn says I could play in, so I play it.  I'm up against Mono-black control, and I'm worried he'll just gain DI life and I'll never win.  Game one, I Duress him and rip out Grim Harvest, seeing Rager, Augur of Skulls, Tendrils of Corruption, Swamp, and Innocent Blood.   He drops Augur without regen mana, and I drop Marauders and burn his Rager with him tapped out.  Grim Harvest is RFGed.  He Innocent Bloods.  I'm glad he wasted a good removal spell on a dude I was really just wanting to have kill by a spell anyway. 

I Duress again, getting the Tendrils, and see Eyeblight's Ending x 3.  Wow.  Suspend Halby, and pass.  We got back a forth a couple turns, dropping lands and removing suspend counters, and I suspend another Halberdier.  I drop Phyrexian Rager the turn before the first Halberdier will see play.  He plays an EE on it.  I play the Halby.  EE.  I play Chittering Rats.  He plays Crypt Rats.  I try to Incinerate it so my can't get both my Rats and the Halberdier about to see play.  He blows it up for 2, I un-suspend my guy, and swing.  I bounce my Halby back with the Lava Zombie in-hand and pass back.  He casts Tendrils on him.  I drop the (Keldorn Halberdier) again.  He has the Corrupt.  Cool.  I drop Chittering Rats and beat down a little, then try to Lava Zombie them back.  He uses that third Eyeblight's Ending he's had a while to kill the rats, so the Zombie comes back to me.  I play Keldorn Marauders, and he corrupts them.  I play another one, and he fires Innocent Blood.  He drops Augur of Skulls, and I fire back with Pit Keeper, grabbing my beloved Halberdier, then bounce the Keeper with my hero, the Lava Zombie.  I suspend the Halby, and play the Keeper again, grabbing a Marauders, which was dumb.  There were better targets.  I pass to him, he passes back, and I rip and play Chittering Rats.  I pretty much beat down from there and win, stopping only to Incinerate a regenerator or two.  

G2, and I know that to win I just have to pressure him with 2-for-1s and make him blow his cards defending himself.  I bring in more rats, and drop out the Marauders.  His draw isn't perfect, and of course I have the Duress to get his Wrench Mind, but it goes about the same as G1, just quicker.

I made it to the Top 4, but dropped out so the next guy could get in, becuase I had some stuff I had to do with the wife.   It was a blast, and I'd like to thanks White_djinn for running the Tourney, and my various opponents, in no order; ChronicHeaves, White_djinn, SpikeBoyM, Rishard, and Boin.  

This was great fun, and I'd recommend to everyone that they give PDC a try.  There's a huge field of decks you can play, and plenty of skill in deck-building and play involved.

For Blink-dos, I'd consider the following changes.  4 x Innocent Blood into the SB, 3 Terminates main, dropping the Pit Keepers, and then you could drop Eyeblights ending, and put in maybe a Pyroblast and Grim Harvest package into the SB.    See you next time!


Article by djdark01 at Mon, 01/07/2008 - 03:37
djdark01's picture

Good article!