This Week On "When Walls Attack"
Building On A Budget - Wallchuck
Monday, December 01, 2003
One of the more interesting things to witness whenever a new set comes out is the interaction between Limited play and future Constructed decks. Namely, interesting combinations that sometimes appear in Limited play (and due to their rarity and hilarity turn a lot of heads) may end up being turned into full-fledged Constructed decks. This week and next week I will talk about two such decks based on simple, effective combinations found in drafts that, when used in a Constructed deck, can be downright deadly.
The combination of cards I am referring to is Grab the Reins and Wall of Blood. Grab the Reins is powerful in Limited and won't be easy to get in a draft unless you're lucky enough to open one. Wall of Blood, on the other hand, is underrated and much easier to pick up. Wall of Blood generates lots of virtual card advantage (it neutralizes many of your opponent's cards) and can give you real card advantage when your opponent attacks in trade for life that you would have lost anyhow due to the attack. This makes the card much more powerful than many people realize.
When Grab the Reins is played with Wall of Blood things can get a bit out of hand. First, you have to deal a little bit of damage to your opponent or gain a little life. Let's say you get him to 19 and you're at 20. Pay 19 life, making your Wall into a 19/21 creature, then cast Grab the Reins, choosing to sacrifice a creature dealing its power to target creature or player. Deal 19 to your opponent and watch him go splat.
Granted, this combo is a bit risky--it leaves you vulnerable at a low life total. If your opponent has a Shock in his hand, he could kill you before Grab resolved. In essence, the larger the difference between your life totals, the safer you'll be. The following deck is designed to make that happen.
Building on a Budget - Wallchuck
First off, you'll notice a lack of offensive pressure. This deck won't win in the red zone; its attackers include Bottle Gnomes and, well...they're Bottle Gnomes. But, if they need to, they will get feisty.
Instead, this deck is designed to generate a gap between the life totals while killing your opponent's offensive efforts. I felt that Slice and Dice or Infest could've easily fit into this deck, but instead opted for more spot removal like Pyrite Spellbomb and Vicious Hunger. While it would be okay to replace the Spellbomb with one Slice or Infest, I encourage the use of Hunger since it also increases your life total--something that's key to pulling off the combo.
Besides the plethora of removal in the deck, there are also some spells that are particularly good at taking a chunk of your opponent's life total. Soul Feast and Shrapnel Blast are great for tipping the life total scales in your favor, allowing you to pull off the combo. Bottle Gnomes can also give you that last little boost before you take them out.
Try to play defensively and slow the game down as much as possible. If you see a chance where you can do the combo, take the shot (you may not get another one). It's always better to try it when your opponent's tapped out, but if she does more damage to you later, you may lose the opportunity.
The weak part of the deck is the search engine--there basically is none. Serum Tank lets you draw cards while you stall the ground, but this deck really lacks a way to search for the combo besides eventually drawing both parts. You may want to add some sort of tutoring effect to the deck if you can afford it.
Note that the combo also works with Bloodshot Cyclops, who is more lovingly known as "Chuck" (especially by the Goblins). An alternate build of the deck might include using Buried Alive and reanimation spells. Living Death comes to mind as a good solution, but it's not available online. If you were building the deck for physical play, it would be kind of cool to Buried Alive for Chuck, Wall of Blood, and Radiant's Dragoons, then Living Death for the win.
Tips For Playing The Deck
- Don't let your Wall die. It's almost always worth paying the life to keep it alive--it's a good investment! Don't worry if you fall behind in the life race; that's what Soul Feast is for.
- You might want to sacrifice your Spellbombs to draw cards on occasion. The deck doesn't have much card drawing, which is why I included them over Infest. (You could still cycle Slice and Dice, though.)
- This may sound silly, but remember the original use for Grab the Reins: to two-for-one your opponent's creatures. It's easy to strictly think of it as a combo card, but it's very good at killing stuff once you get some mana on the table.
- When counting life totals to see if you can combo your opponent out, don't forget to add 3 for your Bottle Gnomes.
Adding Money To The Deck
is always helpful in decks like this--you aren't looking for card advantage; you just want to pull off your trick as fast as possible. Diabolic Tutor
may also be helpful if you can manage to stave off the beats for a turn while you go looking for the combo.
You could do a more black-based build with a few Bloodstained Mires for red mana and Consume Spirits, or even lead into a deck using Extraplanar Lens to power Consume Spirit and Promise of Power with the combo as a backup plan. Black has the ability to draw cards, but it'll cost you life. Unfortunately, this combo doesn't like that without the ability to offset the life loss with a large Consume Spirit or two.
Tune in next week for another Limited combo turned Constructed.
Until then, fear the skull.
NateHeiss on Magic Online