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By: Arnnaria, Sean Costales
Feb 28 2008 1:17am
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Welcome to Pure Standard!

First there was Alpha.   And Alpha introduced us to creatures.  And all was good.  Then, there was Visions.  And Visions gave us the very first “187” creatures: Nekrataal, Man-o-war, Uktabi Orangutan, among others.  Essentially, a “187” creature is a creature with a “comes into play” ability.  These creatures turned out to be a real good bargain, Man-o-war was a must play in all blue decks.  Man-o-war gave you tempo advantage by nixing a creature and the body it left behind was a welcome bonus.  Nowadays, 187 abilities are much more common and span all colors and rarities.  Most recently, there was Lorwyn.  And Lorwyn gave us a ton of “187” creatures.  These span far past the elemental cycle that includes Shriekmaw and Wispmare; Faeries got Pestermite, Goblins Marsh Flitter, and Kithkin Cloudgoat Ranger.  In fact, Magic without 187 creatures seems like a paradox.  The fun thing is all of these 187 abilities can be abused by a fun common spell in Time Spiral: Momentary Blink

Welcome to Pure Standard!

Aggro decks are topping the charts all across Standard.  Combo has seemed to take a vacation (more on this later), and Control just doesn’t have the tools to outrace Goblins or Elves.  But with all these aggressive decks running around it would seem that mass removal spells are sure to follow.  Where are the Wrath of Gods and Damnations?  Have they joined the combo decks on vacation, or are they waiting for their moment to strike?  Today I have a deck that runs Damnation and can be just as aggressive as Elves and Goblins.  How does it do this?  Synergy.

Deck synergy is an important concept in Magic.  The best way to operationalize the concept of synergy is that your cards should work together in unison as opposed to against each other.  For example, in a Doran Rock deck your main beatdown creature is Doran, the Siege Tower.  Now, if you need a three-drop for your deck, what are you going to choose: Ohran Viper or Troll Ascetic?  If you want more synergy in your deck, you’d choose the Ohran Viper.  It hits for three when Doran is on the table, as opposed to the Ascetic who only hits for two.  The deck I’m covering today has a lot of synergy between cards. Before we get to a list, let’s go over the synergies inside of Déjà vu:

Reveillark and Damnation: The idea here is pretty simple.  Cast a Reveillark for some flying beats.  Right now, outside of Faeries, there aren’t too many flyers around Standard.  If you need to reset the board, you get two of your creatures back.  Essentially, it’s a one-sided Damnation and your opponent has to start out all over again.  If you don’t know what it does, here’s the lowdown on Reveillark –

Reveillark and Riftwing Cloudskate, Shadowmage Infiltrator, Mulldrifter, and Venser, Shaper Savant: With four targets in your deck for Reveillark to fetch, you should always be getting the maximum of two creatures back when Reveillark leaves play.  Not only do you get them back, but you get their “comes into play” abilities too.  So, you’re looking at bouncing a couple of permanents and drawing some cards.

Makeshift Mannequin and Riftwing Cloudskate, Mulldrifter, Shriekmaw and Venser, Shaper Savant: Makeshift Mannequin is an instant.  So if you have a Shriekmaw in yoru graveyard, it’s the same as a kill spell.  With the Cloudskate or Venser, it’s a bounce spell.  And with Mulldrifter, it draws you two cards.  The body it leaves behind is fragile, but it’ll do in a pinch.

Momentary Blink

Welcome to Pure Standard!

Today we are going to look at a deck type and how it’s changed over time; the past, the present, and the future of very similar Standard decks.  All these decks share one thing in common: they gain massive card advantage by sliding creatures in and out.  While the cards have changed, the concept remains the same: slide creatures in and out and eventually win with an onslaught of creatures.

The Past

Astral Slide was the original blink baddy.  Astral Slide almost guaranteed that any attack that was aimed at you wouldn’t go through.  With Lightning Rift in the deck as well, it was extremely hard to build an offensive threat.  And if the opponent did build up a reasonable offensive, you could always blow up the board with a well-timed Akroma’s Vengeance, Starstorm, or Wrath of God.  With Temple of the False God in the deck, you could easily regrow your Eternal Dragons and finish your opponent in no time.  And if at any time your life total was in danger, all you needed to do was attack with an Exalted Angel or hardcast a Renewed Faith to get your life total at a more manageable number. 

The key to the Astral Slide deck was the high number of cycling cards it ran; over a third of your deck was dedicated to cycling cards.   Cycling drew into more cards with cycling.  The problem with the clash-enablers that are present in Lorwyn, such as Sylvan Echoes and Entangling Trap is twofold: first, you are not always guaranteed to win the clash, and second, clashing does not draw you into more clashing cards.  You would be hard pressed to find more than twenty slots you would need for a clash deck.

Astral Slide unfortunately had to contend with Affinity.  Before sideboarding, the match up was a tough one as there was no way to contend with their Skullclamps.  After sideboarding, you could bring in Shatters and Echoing Ruins for a better chance.  But, if you ever have played against Affinity in its heyday, you know that even the most dedicated of artifact removal only stalls the inevitable.  They could draw more threats with their Thoughtcasts and Skullclamps then you could draw removal. 

The Present

Astral Slide worked as a defensive tool to slide your opponent’s creatures in and out.  Nowdays, the combat trick is to slide your own creatures in and out.  By playing 187 creatures with “comes into play” abilities, you can gain massive card advantage.  187 creatures were first introduced in Visions: Nekrataal, Man-o-war, Uktabi Orangutan.  Nowadays, 187 abilities are much more common and span all colors and rarities: Mulldrifter, Shriekmaw, Riftwing Cloudskate.  And instead of Astral Slide as our main sliding tool, we have Momentary Blink

Welcome to Pure Standard!

Today I’m going to start off with a funny, but true anecdote.  I can’t believe I’m admitting this in person, but here we go: 

I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep prior to my Friday Night Magic at my local comic book store.  When I don’t get a lot of sleep, I tend to play sloppy and forget what’s going on in a game.  I showed up with a crappy rendition of green/red Big Mana.  I say it was a crappy rendition because I couldn’t afford the Tarmogoyfs that I had needed at the time.  First round I get paired up with a kid who has to be around 12 years old.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against twelve year olds as they are a vital part of the Magic experience.  But, when you’re as old as I am and the person across the table is a decade younger, you tend to think you have an easy victory and a notch in your belt before the match has even started.  The match progresses quite easily in my favor until the kid plays a Mulldrifter for five.  At this point, I say to the kid.  “Dude, if your playing a Momentary Blink… 

Welcome to Pure Standard!

Déjà vu.  Don’t you find it strange when you feel as if you’ve experienced the same thing over again?  For example, I feel as if I’ve started this article before.  I don’t know what’s gotten into me because I’m staring at a blank screen, writing this introduction for the very first time.  Today we’re talking about a post-Morningtide Standard deck where your creatures are sure to feel “déjà vu.”  Here’s the decklist:

As you can see, the deck employs a lot of 187 creatures.  187 creatures were first introduced in Visions: Nekrataal, Man-o-War, Uktabi Orangutan.  I swear I’ve written that before.  No matter.  The deck also employs Reveillark which introduces a new twist on Evoke.  The original Evoke elementals in Lorwyn triggered when they came into play.  This worked remarkably well because even though you had to sacrifice the creature, you still got the comes into play ability.  The new Evoke elementals in Morningtide trigger when they leave play.  So, when you sacrifice the creature from playing the Evoke cost, the creature leaves play and you get a new ability.  This new “leaves play” trigger works remarkably well with Momentary Blink

Welcome to Pure Standard!

Aggro decks are topping the charts all across Standard.  Combo has seemed to take a vacation, and Control just doesn’t have the tools to outrace Goblins or Elves.  But with Morningtide coming out, combo players get a new treat with Reveillark.  Today we’re going to talk about two decks, one combo deck and one midrange deck, that abuse Reveillark, and have been tested for Standard.  If you don’t know what it does, here’s the lowdown on Reveillark – 

Reveillark 4W

Creature – Elemental

When Reveillark leaves play, return up to two target creature cards with power 2 or less from your graveyard to play.
Evoke 5W (You may play this spell for its evoke cost. If you do, it's sacrificed when it comes into play.)


 So how does this deck win?  I admit it’s kind of complicated.  Mirror Entity is keystone to this wacky combo deck.  First you need to get a Mirror Entity and a Reveillark out in play, and have a Mulldrifter or a Venser, Shaper Savant in your graveyard alongside a Body Double.  Next, put Mirror Entity’s ability on the stack a bunch of times, from 20 to 20,000.  Then, let it trigger once and all your creatures become 0/0’s, killing off Reveillark and triggering its leaves play ability.  Return a Body Double to play and have it copy a Reveillark; also, return a Mulldrifter or a Venser to play.  Mulldrifter lets you draw two cards, or you can bounce a permanent with Venser.  Riftwing Cloudskate will work here as well.  Either way, the end result is you draw your entire deck or bounce all their permanents.  How does this work?  Well, remember, you put Mirror Entity’s ability on the stack 20,000 times. Let another one of Mirror Entities abilities trigger, and your Body Doubled Reveillark will die and bring two more creatures back.  Get another Body Double to copy the Reveillark and a Venser or Mulldrifter.  Continue until your opponent concedes. 

The other deck I want to introduce you to is called Déjà vu.  Déjà vu abuses Momentary Blink

Welcome to Pure Standard!

I brought my laptop to class to finish this article.  Right now my psychology professor is dorning on some dribble that I will be tested on.  But Magic awaits and I have a cool new deck to introduce you to.  It’s called Déjà vu.  But before we get to the decklist, let’s talk about casting cost.
A good Magic player likes getting the most bang for their buck.  Low casting cost carfds with decent abilities are key.  Wonder why Tarmogoyfs are so hot?  Look at the upper left hand corner of the card.  If Tarmogoyf cost one more, it still would be a good card, but it wouldn’t be nearly as efficient as it is now.  Four is about the threshold of casting costs in competive magic.  If you are paying more than four for a card, the card better win you the game.  In extended, this is easy to see.  Enduring Ideal costs more than four, and when cast, essentially wins you the game.  Mind’s Desire costs more than four, and when cast, wins you the game.  Patriarch’s Bidding in Goblins also casts more than four, and that too will win you the game.  Déjà vu runs three cards that cost over four.  But, they are exceptions to the rule. 

But Lorwyn introduced us to a flexibility to this rule: evoke.  Evoke cards generally cost more than four, but their evoke costs are usually less than four.  Looking at two cards in déjà vu, Shriekmaw and Mulldrifter, they both cost five but their evoke is less than four.  This works in a deck because you can get their abilities, essentially a Terror and a Counsel of the Soratami respectively, when you don’t have enough mana to hardcast them.  If you do have the mana to hardcast them, you get a creature in return.  They don’t win you the game, but they provide a good boost in tempo and leave a body behind.  Suspend is another exception to the rule. In Déjà vu, Riftwing Cloudskate can be suspended so his hard casting cost of 3UU is rarely played. 

But what if there was a card that can capture the essence of these expesnvie evokers for half the cost?  Well there is, it’s called Momentary Blink…

Dear Joshua Claytor: 

I won’t be able to publish an article this week.  I must have extreme writer’s block because every time I sit down to write, I never get past the introduction.  I’ll come up with a new column by next week.  And I promise it will be on Momentary Blink.


Sean Costales

Arnnaria on Magic Online


Ha! by djdark01 at Thu, 02/28/2008 - 20:33
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He asked me to read it before it went live and I must admit it was very good, the only regret I have was the seziure that came with it.

187's by hamtastic at Thu, 02/28/2008 - 10:34
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Yep, that's where the term came from ("187 on a  :censored: cop" - Snoop).  However, once people started calling Nekrataal a '187 creature' those who didn't know the reason started applying the term to all creatures with a 'comes into play' ability, which has become the de facto definition now, as more people in Magic recognize 187 as CITP than CIPT: Destroy now a days.

/end old guy rant

by runeliger at Thu, 02/28/2008 - 10:28
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Lol I enjoyed the article... Even though it left me with this major headache (or maybe the headache is from me being sick..?)


Still a nice take on the article! One thing I'd like to say is that I always thought 187 creatures were creatures that killed other creatures as they came into play (Named as such because 187 is the code for murder in the Los Angeles Police Dept. and the Visions Nekrataal's set number was 187)

 Still a lovely article.    

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 02/28/2008 - 09:01
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LOL, formatted wrong?  LOL someone didn't get the joke or it was Josh posting that comment

by JXClaytor at Thu, 02/28/2008 - 10:08
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Yes, someone got the Momentary Blink effect.  :)   

Article formatting by hamtastic at Thu, 02/28/2008 - 10:19
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The article was formatted correctly, it's being 'blinked' as he's writing it.  Neat take on the article.  :)

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 02/28/2008 - 02:47
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The article is chopped up and formatted wrong.

I love blink decks though! 

Great use of the Blink Theme by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 02/28/2008 - 04:10
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I enjoyed you blinking in and out various themes throughout the article, you have a great writing style makes it for an interesting read.




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