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By: Arnnaria, Sean Costales
Feb 04 2008 11:53am
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Dear Captain Spike:

It’s almost midnight.  I’m out of whiskey and cigarettes.  My eyes are bloodshot, I’m half drunk, and this case still hounds me.  There’s a gangster on the loose; prison escapee.  He’s rash, he’s violent, and he knows I’m on the trail.  If I could just figure out where to find this guy I could take him down.  But unfortunately, he’s been elusive at best.

Doran, the Siege Tower.  Broke out of prison in the Lorwyn escapade last October.  His stats are intimidating.  For only three mana, you get five-damage and pumping up of your high-toughness creatures.  The two big gangs in the city can’t afford to play him due to his white nature.  The Rock Gang and The Elves Syndicate, both powerful groups, disagree with his style.  But Doran can hit the table as early as turn two, and in a battle of fisticuffs that’s fast and efficient.  All my leads are enclosed in the following police report.  I hope it helps.

With luck,

Detective John E. Magic



Like any good Mob Boss, Doran doesn’t get his hands dirty.  While he might jump into the fray now and then, he leaves the routine tasks to his crew of employees and ne’er do wells that he hires.  What follows is his list of highest-ranking staff.

Mob Boss Doran (4x)

The head honcho of the gang, Mob Boss Doran is aggressive and fast-acting.  From prostitution to gambling – Doran dabbles in many rackets.  But without a loyal staff, Doran would just be a petty criminal.

Bobby Birds (4x) and Louie Llanowar (3x)

Bobby Birds and Louie Llanowar are officially numbers two and three of Boss Doran’s operation.  They may be meek and avoid street combat, but they have resources at their disposal.  If you’re able to get out either of these baddies on turn one, you will secure yourself the possibility of a turn-two Doran.

Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves are key to getting Doran out at turn two.  With the right hand and setup, you can be attacking on turn three with Doran.  Doran even turns the 0-power Birds into an efficient attacker.  And the fact of the matter is there aren’t many flyers flapping around the city these days.  If your opening hand consists of a Gilt-Leaf Palace, a Birds of Paradise, and a Llanowar Elves – reveal the Elves to the Palace, but drop the Birds first.  This will add more flexibility to your early game and guarantee you a Doran if you happen to draw one.

Oscar Ohran (4x)

Oscar Ohran operates out of Little Cuba.  He started out as an ordinary hoodlum selling illegal Cuban cigars, and after three and a half decades he’s built up a position of respect in the community.  Need information?  He’ll get it to you at half the price of any other snoop out there.  And just because this guy is older, he’s no slouch at combat either.  Some say his ring is filed with a deathtouch poison that no doctor can cure.

There’s tons of quality three-drops for a mob boss to employ.  But Doran favors Oscar Ohran Viper for many reasons.  First of all, Doran spends a lot of resources every turn, so Troll Ascetic can’t be reliably regenerated.  In fact, Troll Ascetic’s two-toughness is counterintuitive when Doran hits the table.  Oscar Ohran hits for three-power when the mob boss is on the table.  Unlike R.G. Big Mana, Doran can’t afford to run Harmonize.  Oscar Ohran fills your hand efficiently when you’re running out of threats.  And with the politician Gregory F. Garruk Wildspeaker in Doran’s Pocket, the three-drop Chester Call of the Herd isn’t necessary.  In a very competitive field out there Oscar is Doran’s three-drop of choice.

Tommy “Gun” Tarmogoyf (4x)

Tommy “Gun” Tarmogoyf is a big mover and shaker in the city these days.  While he doesn’t have enough power to be a mob boss himself, he is respected by so many gangs that he might as well have his own crew.  Currently, any deck that gets into the green gambling racket calls on Tommy for his hired muscle.  He’s cheap and effective for what he does.

Tommy “Gun” Tarmogoyf is a busy man these days.  Every deck that is in the green gambling racket has employed him one time or another.  The fact of the matter is, Tommy’s an aggressive hit man that always poses a threat – whether a 2/3 or a 5/6.  He’s easy to destroy, but that shouldn’t be a con not to play him.  Invest in this mobster if you plan on running the deck, he may command a high price tag but the wins you accrue from playing him will be worth the investment.

Sister Sandra Shriekmaw (4x)

Sister Sandra Shriekmaw is no lady of the cloth.  Though she poses as a nun by day, Sandra runs Boss Doran’s prostitution ring.  She has a reputation for coming into play and knocking off a variety of potential threats.  Heaven help us from this deadly little dame.

Practically every hoodlum you’re gonna be facing can be taken out by the deadly sister.  The only threats that are a problem are Akroma, Angel of Wrath in reanimator and Phyrexian Ironfoot.  Sister Shriekmaw also doesn’t work well against a rogue mono-black deck that appears from time to time.


Every Mob Boss has politicians in their pockets.  The trade-off is very simple in this little city.  Mob Boss Doran gets the unions he operates to vote for Senator Garruk, and in return the politicians make sure law enforcement doesn’t crack down too much on their illegal activities.  Judge Lisa M. Liliana is another story.  Mob Boss Doran pays a hefty price for her services, but she knows the law as well as any mobster knows bloodshed.  For two loyalty, she can search and find any legal precedent to get your guys off scot-free. 

Senator Gregory F. Garruk (3x)

Senator Gregory F. Garruk Wildspeaker is without a doubt the best politician that has been released this far.  All three abilities are powerful.  His first ability lets you tap out to cast him, and then untap two lands to cast a Tarmogoyf or Nameless Inversion.  His first ability is also very synergistic with Profane Command, making sure you get the most bang for your buck.  His second ability obsoletes Call of the Herd and produces creatures if you are losing the race.  But his final ability is the coup de grace.  If you have two Birds of Paradise, a Doran, and an Ohran Viper, you are going to be attacking for twenty-four.  That’s basically game over for a lot of decks.

Lisa M. Liliana (1x)

Judge Lisa M. Liliana Vess can guarantee you the proper verdict for the right bribe.  To be perfectly honest, I’ve never used her third ability or even seen anyone use her third ability.  And, her first ability isn’t used by me very often either.  It’s the tutoring mechanic that works.   For five mana you get two Diabolic Tutors.  Most of the time, that’s fetching a Profane Command or some other source of removal.

His Racket

Every mob boss is part enforcer and part business man.  But we aren’t talking about bear markets and bull markets here; we’re talking about the illicit activity you were taught not to speak about at the dinner table.  Mob Boss Doran dabbles in some of the most despicable of trades we’ve come to know as racqueteering.  Here’s how the man makes his money.

Eyeblight’s Ending Extortion (2x)

When you are being extorted you have two choices: pay up or run.  Unfortunately, many people can’t afford to pay up so they decide to run instead.  And when a hoodlum decides to run, it’s up to Doran’s men to kill them.  Extortion is a tricky business that rarely pays off.

Eyeblight’s Ending can knock off many creatures out there.  Despite it’s weakness against the most popular deck out there, there are a multitude of creatures that die to Eyeblight’s Ending that don’t die to Narcotics: Tarmogoyf, Bogardan Hellkite, Akroma, Angel of Fury, Cloudthresher, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Guile, and even Mistbind Clique.  Extortion is the answer to these guys.  They’ll be fleeing the city before you even have time to tell them that they can pay up and stay in the city instead.

Nameless Inversion Narcotics (4x)

What you don’t know can hurt you.  Mob Boss Doran doesn’t care much for drug users, so he mixes all his drugs with toxins and poisons.  His quality is premium, so one hit might get you where you want to go, but it’ll erase your mind and kill you in the long run.

There are three types of dangerous addicts Narcotics will get rid of.  First is (Wren’s Run Vanquisher), drug of choice: speed.  This card, the two-drop of elf decks everywhere, is a pain in your side because it prevents you from attacking with Doran.  An Ohran Viper will gladly trade with it in a pinch, but the Nameless Inversion works so much better.  The second addicted goon it will get rid of is Imperious Perfect, drug of choice: cocaine.  This three-drop spells game over for you if your opponent gets to pumping tokens out.  Remember, these guys don’t drop to Extortion because they’re elves.  And elves don’t play that game.  The final hoodlum you can off with Narcotics is (Treetop Village), drug of choice: hallucinogens.  What’s nice of getting rid of a village is that it decimates their land count.

Sure, there are a host of other creatures you can off with Narcotics.  But those are your main users.  Narcotics is your most-valuable player when facing the Elves Syndicate.

Oblivion Ring Offshore Banking (2x)

Have money you don’t want the federal government to find?  Mob Boss Doran can hide it in a secret bank account in one of his Caribbean holding companies.  All he charges is a little banking  fee for the favor.

Oblivion Ring stops hoodlums and politicians.  It also gets rid of the occasional enchantment – the worst one I can think of right now being Teferi’s Moat.  Luckily, this white card will be able to get rid of those nasty “protection from black” creatures – Mystic Enforcer, Akroma, Angel of Wrath, and eventually the powerful Chameleon Colossus.

Profane Command Prostitution (2x)

Money might not be able to buy you love, but it will buy you a good time for an hour or two.  Prostitution gets you what you want, when you want it, if the price is right.  The only limits are your flexibility and your imagination.

Profane Command can win you the game, if the price is right.  If you off one of your opponent’s creatures and get one of yours back, that’s a huge swing not many decks can recover from.  Of course you could just “fireball” to the dome and give your creatures fear, effectively swinging for the win.  The great thing about Profane Command is that it’s never a dead card in the late game – there’s always a use for it.  The deck could probably run more than two, but this is a card you don’t want to see until turn five or six.

The Turf

Every mob boss controls a certain amount of turf in the city.  But at three colors, Mob Boss Doran commands a unique amount of turf in his home territory.  What follows is a list of the turf he controls as well as some notes on some of the specific crime that comes out of that turf.

Brushland (1x)

Caves of Koilos Casino (3x)

This shady establishment isn’t gonna be around much longer.  Once the construction team finishes building the Murmuring Bosk resort, the Caves of Koilos Casino is going to be demolished.  Until then, whatever your gaming desire is can be found within these smoke-stained walls.

Gemstone Mine Ghetto (2x)

Known for its urban graffiti, the Gemstone Ghetto offers a new way for struggling artists to break through with their designs.  All colors of mana vibrate off the ways of rundown apartment buildings.  Some more grandiose designs scale up two, three, or even four stories high.  The city ignores the graffiti in the ghetto until three big designs encapsulate a building.  After that, they repaint the building and charge a fine to the slum lord – Mob Boss Doran.

Gilt-Leaf Palace (4x)

The Gilt-Leaf Palace is a gated community where Mob Boss Doran and his top hoodlums live.  It’s fancy and decorated in a modern style.  The Gilt-Leaf Palace rarely comes into play tapped due to Louie Llanowar’s quick mobilization skills – as well as money financed from Eyeblight’s Ending Extortion and Nameless Inversion Narcotics.

Horizon Canopy Hotel (2x)

A seedy hotel near the waterfront is where Sister Sandra keeps her women of the night.  Most men don’t leave without damaging their reputation or their pocketbook.  Once the cops catch onto the Hotel’s secret business, it can easily be demolished for an extra card.

Llanowar Wastes (4x)

Pendelhaven Park (1x)

Pendelhaven Park is the seediest park you’ve ever been to.  The park is populated by homeless addicts searching for their next hit.  Doran doesn’t bother selling to these bums as they usually don’t have the amount of cash he needs.  The Park can be a nice place to find some extra men for a mission, pumping up Louie Llanowar to a 2/3 until the end of turn.

(Treetop Village) Tenements (4x)

Need a muscle-head jock for a mission you’re planning?  Drop by the Treetop Village Tenements.  All sorts of meatheads and jocks live there.  And if the price is right, they’ll be more than happy to jump into your coterie for the night.  These uncounterable hoodlums are surprisingly aggressive and tough for the price you pay.  And working a job for Mob Boss Doran might make them think they’re climbing the underground ladder themselves.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth Waste Management (2x)

When you’re in the business of making things disappear, it makes sense to own a Waste Management facility.  Urborg is such a mess that it effects the turf of everyone – yours and your opponent’s.  Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad.  But, it decreases the amount of pain your painlands are gonna be giving you and turns Gemstone Mine into a Vivid Marsh.  I would really love to know how many bodies have disappeared from police investigation in this “Waste Management” plant.


Dear Boss Doran:

I got the following information from a snitch at the local police department.  He let me look over the file they have on you, and I gotta tell you, those cops may be stupid but they know you pretty well.  What follows is a list of every major gang in town, as well as my opinion on how to take them down with the resources we have at our disposal.

Hit me back if you need anything further,

Oscar Ohran




Your Sideboard

4x Deathmark

4x Riftsweeper

4x Withered Wretch

1x Oblivion Ring

2x Quagnoth

Elves Syndicate

I’m not going to lie to you, this ain’t an easy match.  The elves are fast and synergistic, and if they get an advantage you’ll be beaten like a red-headed stepchild.  Your key strategy here is to get them addicted to Nameless Inversion Narcotics and try to beef up your guys.  Their key cards against you are Wren’s Run Vanquisher and Imperious Perfect.  Your goal should be to get rid of those guys before it’s too late.  If the game goes past turn five and you’re still alive, you should be golden.  Watch out for Masked Admirers though, their reoccurring strategy can be a thorn in your side.

Your MVP: Nameless Inversion

Take out: -2 Eyeblight’s Ending; -2 Profane Command

Put in: +4 Deathmark

Sonic Boom Squad

The Squad has a weak spot  on turn two.  If you can get out a Tarmogoyf or Ohran Viper on turn two without hitting a Rune Snag or a Remove Soul, you should be golden.  Treetop Village is also key to this matchup as Sonic Boom really has nothing to stop them.  If they don’t find an Ancestral Visions, they’ll run out of counters before you run out of threats.  Bring in Riftsweepers to counter their Ancestral Visions as well as Quagnoth’s for some late-game, uncounterable beef.

Your MVP: Treetop Village

Take out: -2 Eyeblight’s Ending; -2 Oblivion Ring; -2 Ohran Viper

Put in: +4 Riftsweeper; +2 Quagnoth

Reanimator Clique

Reanimator Clique is a sick gang to tussel with.  They run all the mortuaries and graveyards in the city, stealing jewelery and even sometimes bodies.  Doctor Dread Return can get any hoodlum who once was dead back on the streets working for the clique.  If you want to win, you have to play very carefully.  Destroy any of their enablers that they lay down: Merfolk Looter, Bonded Fetch, and (Oona’s Prowler).  Save your Oblivion Rings for their big guns like Akroma, Angel of Wrath.  Your MVP this match is in your sideboard: Withered Wretch.  If you can’t survive the first round, with Withered Wretch on your side, Doctor Dread Return won’t be as scary as in round one.

Your MVP: Withered Wretch

Take out: -4 Ohran Vipers; -1 Nameless Inversion

Put in: +4 Withered Wretch; +1 Oblivion Ring

Mannequin Posse

Mannequin has one advantage over Reanimator – they run Damnation.  Because of this, you can’t over commit on the board.  Hold back some threats and you’ll be fine.  Your removal suit is strong enough to deal with their beaters.  This match is easy as long as you don’t over commit.

Your MVP: Withered Wretch

Take out: -4 Ohran Vipers

Put in: +4 Withered Wretch

RG Big Mana Mob

This is a pretty easy matchup as you can outrace the RG Big Mana suit.  There is just one problem card: Wall of Roots.  When Doran is on the table, Wall of Roots hits for five – which kills your Doran.  Get rid of their Wall of Roots with a Eyeblight’s Ending or Oblivion Ring.  The longer this match lasts, the greater the advantage they have.  So you have to win fast.  The same is true for the green/white big mana deck.  However, they also run Wrath of Gods so you can’t over commit.  For the green/white mana deck bring in your extra Oblivion Ring to deal with their Akromas.

Your MVP: Eyeblight’s Ending

Take out: None

Put in: None


~ Sean Costales

Arnnaria on Magic Online


by iceage4life at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 18:14
iceage4life's picture

Great job at looking at a deck that everyone has seen from a new angle, or at least a fun to read one.

by djdark01 at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 21:30
djdark01's picture

Sean, good job!

For your next article, I'd like to see a mix of Night at the Roxbery and Mannequin.


by 53N531 at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 15:08
53N531's picture

Yeah you really showed the amount of work you put into the article; very well done. Entertaining to both read casually and to break down for the gooey deck tech goodness inside.

Great Article by MirrorMage at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 15:42
MirrorMage's picture

Very creative and full of wit. 5/5

by JXClaytor at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 15:57
JXClaytor's picture

Like I said in the teaser, I'm very impressed with this article. 

nice by walkerdog at Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:47
walkerdog's picture

That's one of the better and creative pieces of writing I've seen about magic.  The review about Doran is solid, but the style and approach is awesome.