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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Mar 14 2008 2:20pm
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Reveillark Combo and Reveillark Control
Morningtide is out, and I could not wait to start building new decks. I bought – and busted – a half dozen packs on the very first day.  I wanted to see what commons I could pick up, and if I could get lucky.  I did – a Reveillark, Countryside Crusher and Bitterblossom.  All nice, but the Reveillark seemed most interesting – and it got better when I picked up a pair in Auction. Sure, I slightly overpaid, since I was buying early in Morningtide week, but I did have enough to start experimenting with.
 
Here’s the card 
Reveillark
 
The creature has the ability to put two power-2-or-less creatures directly into play That is a nice ability, but it depends on having decent 2 power creatures. White, for example, is seriously lacking these. It has Martyr of Sands, but after that you wind up with bad card like Venerable Monk. Okay, Magus of the Disk does interact nicely with Reveillark, but aside from controlling the board, I’m not sure how such a deck actually wins the game. You could do something like Magus / Reveillark / Resurrection, but I can’t see enough synergy to make the deck click, and I can’t see enough card drawing to get you the cards in a timely manner. 
 
Mono-white can also be the color of Kithkin weenie beats. I’m not sure that Reveillark are all that useful in that deck, but I could see testing a pair. They would be a flying finisher, and a way of recovering after Wrath of God. Maybe.
 
I have the same problem with black. Black has a few 2 power cards with some decent comes into play effects: Nekrataal, Highway Robber, etc.   Shriekmaw is almost perfect, since it puts itself in the graveyard and everything – although the 3 power means it stays there. You can also have fun with Reveillark and Doomed Necromancer, but that is way too slow. Casual stuff only.
 
Red does include some of the best offensive creatures in the game: Mogg Fanatic and Siege-Gang Commander.   SGC, especially, is a perfect creature: it puts itself into the graveyard, when necessary, and it just flat wins games. However, the RG Big Mana decks are far better fits for SGC than RW Reveillark decks. (Note: I have been working on a RW Brion/SGC deck that might like Reveillark, but it is not quite there, yet. It kicks ass in casual, but it isn’t ready for prime time, yet.)
 
The next color combination is GW. Green has RG Big Mana, where it can drop stuff like Cloudthresher and Bogardan Hellkite. It also has mono-green or BG Elves. Both of those are far better than a GW Reveillark build, mainly because GW does not offer much opportunity for card drawing. With a Reveillark deck, you have to draw into your combo, otherwise you are just casting 2 power stuff, like Elves, but messing up your mana curve for the Reveillark. Reveillark can fetch Doran, the Siege Tower, but very rarely Tarmogoyf. The goyf’s power and toughness in the graveyard are the same as it was in play.  
 
The color combination that works best for Reveillark is, no surprise, UW. Most things go better with blue.
 
First off, blue provides card drawing. Mulldrifter is amazing – and better when you can evoke it early and be reasonably certain of getting it back later. Bonded Fetch is a card drawing machine, and really good when you want certain cards in the graveyard.   Blue also provides Ancestral Vision, Looter il-Kor, Think Twice and so on.
 
Blue also lets you mess with your opponent while building to the combo. More importantly, blue powers the combo. For those of you who have not seen it, (and you will, soon), combo Reveillark requires Body Double, Mirror Entity and Reveillark, plus either a Riftwing Cloudskate or Mulldrifter.   Mirror Entity has to be in play, along with either Body Double or Reveillark, but the others can be in the graveyard.
 
Let’s assume that the board looks like this: Mirror Entity and six lands in play, Body Double and Riftwing Cloudskate in the graveyard. You cast Reveillark. 
 
Once it comes into play, you activate Mirror Entity with X=0, and retain priority, then stack a bunch of additional Mirror Entity activations for zero.  You want to stack at one more Mirror Entity activations than your opponent has permanents. Then you release priority. 
 
The first Mirror Entity activation resolves, and kills all your creatures.   This triggers Reveillark. You target Body Double and Riftwing Cloudskate. When they come into play, Body Double copies Reveillark and the Cloudskate bounces an enemy permanent. Then the next Mirror Entity activation occurs and you do it all again. 
 
When your opponent has no more permanents on the table, you let the final activation happen, and bring back Body Double (copying Reveillark) and Mirror Entity. Then pass the turn.
 
During your opponent’s turn, they will be able to play a land, and possibly cast something. It pretty much does not matter what – if they target your creatures, you can repeat the combo and keep the creatures around. In any case, during their end step, you can activate the combo again and bounce their land. 
 
On your turn, you have at least a Reveillark, a Mirror Entity and six lands, meaning you beat with at least 2 6/6s, then pass the turn with the combo still ready.   At that point, it is pretty hard to lose. 
 
Alternatively, you can repeat the combo 50 times or so, but return a Merrow Witsniper along with the Body Double and you can deck the opponent. 
 
Merrow Witsniper
 
The trick, of course, is getting the combo off.    The deck needs to stay alive until that point. Riftwing Cloudskate can help, as can Wrath of God. Some decks that really have a concern about creature beats play Aven Riftwatchers maindeck.
 
The deck also needs to be able to make the Reveillark leave play when necessary. Wrath of God does that, as does blocking on occasion, but decks also run Venser, Shaper Savant, Cryptic Command and even Unsummon
 
Here are two different combo builds from the recent 400 player StarCity Games $5K tournament. 
 
Logan Mise – Fourth Place
4 Faerie Conclave)
4 Nimbus Maze
4  Adarkar Wastes
6  Island
6  Plains
4  Mulldrifter
4  Reveillark
4  Body Double
4  Aven Riftwatcher
4  Riftwing Cloudskate
Mirror Entity
Venser, Shaper Savant
Wrath of God
3  Momentary Blink
4  Mind Stone

Sideboard
3  Magus of the Moat
3  Oblivion Ring
3  Crovax, Ascendant Hero
Stonecloaker
3  Draining Whelk
Benjamin Peeble-Mundy – Seventh Place
Adarkar Wastes
4  Nimbus Maze
5  Plains
6  Island
4  Desert

4  Wrath of God
3  Unsummon
3  Momentary Blink

4  Reveillark
4  Mulldrifter
3  Bonded Fetch
3  Mirror Entity
3  Body Double
3  Riftwing Cloudskate
2  Venser, Shaper Savant

4  Prismatic Lens
1  Mind Stone

Sideboard
3  Magus of the Moat
2  Sower of Temptation
3  Aven Riftwatcher
2  Stonecloaker
2  Draining Whelk
3  Serrated Arrows
Both of these builds work.  Both allow you to draw cards and accelerate towards the combo while slowing up the opponent and drawing cards. 
 
The deck can do some stupid things. For example, I watched Peebles-Mundy play. He had 8 mana and Reveillark in play, but nothing other than Unsummnon, Wrath and some lands and junk in hand.   His opponent had a bunch of beaters in play. Peebles-Mundy swung with Reveillark for four. After combat, he Unsummoned Reveillark, which triggered Reveillark’s leaves play effect and brought back a Riftwing Cloudskate and a Mulldrifter. Peebles-Mundy used Riftwing to bounce the Mulldrifter, then cast Wrath. He then Evoked the Mulldrifter, and ended his turn. Having drawn four cards off Mulldrifter that turn, he could discard Body Double and Mirror Entity during cleanup, and next turn he evoked Reveillark and went off. 
 
The deck is powerful, no question about that. If you want to play it, you need to practice with it a ton. It’s a combo deck, and like any combo deck, the secret to success is learning how to play the combo quickly and correctly every time. Once you have that done, you can start working on learning how to use your control elements to delay the opponent while you set up the combo.
 
Now the bad news. Combo Reveillark can be easily disrupted. 
 
Extirpate
 
 
Stonecloaker
 
Offalsnout
 
If the opponent can remove the Reveillark or Body Double from the graveyard with the Mirror Entity activations on the stack, the combo fizzles. The Reveillark player has basically cast a one-sided Wrath of God.
 
At the StarCity Games $5k, the winning deck was a RG Big Mana deck that splashed black mainly for 4 Extirpate in the board. Those Extirpates were there for Reveillark. For that matter, I blew out Extended Reveillark combo decks at PTQs with Extirpate.   Offalsnout is almost as good, and since it can always beat it is never dead. Stonecloaker is mirror match tech.
 
The answers to the combo are pretty good. God enough that the combo may not be an option at times. It certainly isn’t an option when people are expecting to see a lot of the combo.
 
Fortunately, you can also build a control version of the deck. UW Blink was a pretty good deck before Reveillark ever appeared. The Reveillark is a 4/3 flier, which makes a pretty good finisher. It isn’t quite as good as Guile, but it is close. However, if you have to Wrath away the board, having Reveillark in play is a better option than having Guile out there.   Reveillark means you will probably start with something in play after wrath resolves. 
 
Basically, a Reveillark control deck runs much the same cards as combo, but without the combo. It runs the same 2/2 fliers, and can replace the Mirror Entity with cards like Sower of Temptations. Here’s my first build of the deck.
 
Reveillark Control – Anti-creature build
Adarkar Wastes
Nimbus Maze
Desert
Wanderwine Hub
Urza's Factory
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Mind Stone

Wrath of God
Momentary Blink
Cryptic Command
Condemn

Mulldrifter
Riftwing Cloudskate
Venser, Shaper Savant
Sower of Temptation
Reveillark
Draining Whelk
Body Double
This build did indeed destroy creature beat decks. I even had Riftwing Avens in the sideboard, but rarely needed them. I could steal stuff with Sowers, bounce creatures with Cloudskates, then Wrath when the board got too clogged up. I could lose – but it required the opponent to do things like turn two Into the North, turn three Garruk and suspend 2 rift Bolts, turn four and five Siege-Gang Commander. Even then, if I hadn’t stumbled on the mana. Actually, mana is an issue, since the deck wants WW for Wrath and UUU for Cryptic Command. If it gets that, however, it does well.
 
The down side to this build was that it suffered against other control decks, especially those that could draw more cards. I suffered through some mirror matches, and lost over 60% of the games. I was fine right up to the point where the second Ancestral Visions resolved, then things would start to go downhill.
 
Still, that build was so much fun against creature beats. I would steal something with Sower, block, stack damage, then Blink Sower to steal something else. Good times. So was locking down the board with Draining Whelk. The height of stupid goodness was one match where I had a Reveillark in play. My opponent had two fatties, and played Profane Command, presumably to drain me and give them fear. I Blinked Reveillark, which returned a Sower and a Whelk – so I countered the Command, stole his fattie to chump, and wound up with about 14 power of untapped fliers.
 
Good times – but not again control decks.  
 
I built another version – one that could win the control matches. Here’s that build. 
 
Reveillark Control – anti-control build
Adarkar Wastes
Nimbus Maze
Boreal Shelf
Wanderwine Hub
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains

Prismatic Lens
Mind Stone

Ancestral Vision
Rune Snag
Wrath of God
Cryptic Command
Momentary Blink

Mulldrifter
Riftwing Cloudskate
Reveillark
Venser, Shaper Savant
Sower of Temptation

Sideboard
Aven Riftwatcher
Condemn
Flashfreeze
Serrated Arrows
Stonecloaker
Draining Whelk
 
I like this build a bit better, but it can roll over to fast creature decks that get a good head start. The main deck is pretty self-explanatory.  I do have a few questions. I have wondered about replacing the Ancestral Visions with Ponders. I have played both, and the Visions are clearly better early in the game, the Ponders later on when you are looking for answers or the win. I have also tweaked various numbers – cutting a Cloudskate for another Blink, then changing back. I would love to say the numbers are perfect, but I keep changing them as my perception of the metagame changes. 
 
The sideboard is a mix. The Riftwatchers are there for the fast red decks, as are the Flashfreezes. Stonecloakers are there for the mirror, and against Makeshift Mannequin decks.   Serrated Arrows are useful against UB Faeries decks. Draining Whelks are just in case, but the Vensers in the maindeck provide much of the same Counterspell abilities that the Whelks do. In other circumstances, I have replaced the Whelks with a Mirror Entity and a Body Double, because they both provide an opportunity for the combo and provide an alternative win condition.
 
Finally, it is possible to build a hybrid version of the deck – mainly control elements, but with one or two copies of Mirror Entity, Body Double and so forth. Such a deck plays control most of the time, but combos off when that approach seems better. Here’s my build of that option:
 
 
Reveillark Control – Hybrid combo/control
Adarkar Wastes
Nimbus Maze
Boreal Shelf
Wanderwine Hub
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains

Prismatic Lens
Mind Stone

Ponder
Bonded Fetch
Wrath of God
Cryptic Command
Momentary Blink

Mulldrifter
Riftwing Cloudskate
Reveillark
Venser, Shaper Savant
Body Double
Mirror Entity
1  Draining Whelk
 
Again, I’m not sold on the numbers. I seem to be pretty good at drawing what I need, but it is not perfect. I don’t really like trying to Ponder into a Whelk, but the deck seems to like me, and I have found it when necessary. On the other hand, I have not taken this build to an 8-man or PE, and I’m not sure I would . It is not really very consistent. On the other hand, after seeing a lot of Countryside Crushers recently, I am happier and happier with decks with bounce effects in them.  On the other side, I keep seeing decks with Treetop Village. Villages are a pain, since your only answers are Condemn from the sideboard, or Blinking a Sower of Temptation when the Village is activated. 
 
Overall, I think I have been winning about 60-65% in the tournament practice room, playing almost exclusively the Control and combo builds. The combo build is also good, but I’m not really excited about playing combo. That’s just personal – and I am less hesitant about playing certain other combos in other circumstances. I just don’t really want to practice combo unless I am going to play in a tournament, and the only tournament I will be playing in this week are Morningtide Release events.     
 
Speaking of which, I have to go. Round four is starting.
 
PRJ
 
“one million words” on MTGO

0 Comments

The win? by Anonymous (Unregistered) 129.100.159.35 (not verified) at Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:33
Anonymous (Unregistered) 129.100.159.35's picture

So, the win condition is either bouncing all permanents back to the opponent's hand a-la Venser/cloudskate or getting an infinite life lock via the aven riftwatcher?
This is supposed to be like Life.dec in extended, right?

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 67.160.126.202 (not verified) at Fri, 03/14/2008 - 19:05
Anonymous (Unregistered) 67.160.126.202's picture

Nice article, but a little late, unfortunately. UW reveillark decklists and strategy can be seen everywhere after GP  shizuoka.

Missing a key card in the board by Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.58.199.5 (not verified) at Fri, 03/14/2008 - 20:27
Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.58.199.5's picture

Pull from Eternity still lets you combo off after the Reveilark gets Extirpated.