his week, I have a very special treat for budget enthusiasts. I sifted through forum after forum until I found a Standard deck concept that caught my eye. Neon Lights, a forum member on another site, has been talking about a deck called "Lolaphant." Here's the list:
Neon Lights's Lolaphant
Neon Lights's list is pretty good, but I was worried about Lotus Cobra draws out of Blue-Red-Green and early Stoneforge Mystic hands from Caw-Blade. I set out to solve those problems. Here's my list, which I'd like to talk about today.
It's Gonna Be a Massacre
Alright, folks... do you get it?
Here's how it works:
You use ramp spells and card selection to set up your Mass Polymorph. You get at least three tokens onto the battlefield and cast Mass Polymorph, making it very likely that you'll get two Massacre Wurms and a Terastodon. You put the Massacre Wurms' triggers on the stack first so they resolve after the Terastodon's. The Terastodon's "enters the battlefield" ability destroys three of your opponent's permanents. (Maybe it's a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and two lands, maybe it's just three lands.) The two Massacre Wurms' triggers then resolve, killing the Elephants and all your opponent's other creatures with 4 or less toughness. If your opponent had two creatures with less than 4 toughness, he or she loses 20 life because of the Wurms and dies. If not, well, your opponent just lost at least 12 life and three permanents (presumably keeping him or her off Day of Judgment mana), and you put 21 points of power onto the table.
Now, it's important to mulligan hands with Mass Polymorph fatties if you don't have a See Beyond. This deck can awkwardly draw its Terastodon and not be able to combo, but when the deck does what it's supposed to, it's a Massacre.
I'd like to start by explaining my deck-building process here. I found the combo as posted by Neon Lights and was immediately intrigued. I wanted more Eldrazi Spawn token production, and the Flayer Husks seemed like they were out of place. I was worried about Lotus Cobra draws from Valakut and Blue-Red-Green. I also didn't feel comfortable with games where my opponent had a Squadron Hawk and a Sword of Feast and Famine. Spawning Breath solved every issue here. The Eldrazi Spawn it creatures useful for blocking equipped Stoneforge Mystics and helps us achieve our combo. The 1 damage gives us a great out against Squadron Hawks getting equipped or early Lotus Cobras.
I still wanted more spot removal, though. Losing to Sword + Hawk and Lotus Cobra means I need more than four spells that let me power through that. Playing red gives me access to Lightning Bolt. A timely bolt can often buy you two full turns of survival. It only costs one mana, it can often be cast on the same turn as a ramp spell or card manipulation spell.
See Beyond is an absolute must here. Only playing the four creatures makes my list a lot more susceptible to dud hands. In return, though, you become more resilient and more consistent when casting a Mass Polymorph.
Growth Spasm and Awakening Zone almost seem like they were tailor-made for this type of strategy. These spells, along with Explore, allow you to "go off" as early as the fourth turn.
I want a sideboard that makes me better against countermagic. A lot of opponents may try to leave mana open for countermagic as soon as we have access to six mana. Awakening Zone is very strong in these types of positions, but we probably want access to Spell Pierce or Autumn's Veil after sideboard. The rest of the sideboard can be filled with exciting cards to flip into off your Mass Polymorph.
Here's the sideboard I decided to play with.
2 Lightning Bolt
4 Spell Pierce
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Platinum Emperion
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Stormtide Leviathan
1 Pelakka Wurm
I'd like to share some of the matches I played with the deck.
I lost the roll and kept Khalni Garden, Mountain, Forest, 2 Growth Spasm, See Beyond, amd Spawning Breath. My opponent played a Raging Ravine. I drew a Terramorphic Expanse, played Khalni Garden, and passed the turn. My opponent popped a fetch land, cast Lotus Cobra, and passed back. I drew a Massacre Wurm, played my Mountain, cast Spawning Breath on the Lotus Cobra, and passed the turn. My opponent played a third land and passed the turn. I drew a Preordain, played my Forest, cast Growth Spasm finding an Island, and passed. My opponent cast a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, looked at the top card of his library, and passed the turn. I drew a Lightning Bolt, and cast Preordain, putting Terastodon and a land on the bottom of my library and drawing Mass Polymorph. I cast another Growth Spasm, played my Terramorphic Expanse, and passed the turn. My opponent drew, used the Brainstorm on his Jace, cast Precursor Golem, and passed the turn. I popped the Terramorphic Expanse for another Island on his end step. I drew a Khalni Garden for my turn and cast Mass Polymorph, flipping into two Massacre Wurms and a Terastodon. I put the Wurms' triggers on the stack first so they would resolve last. I used Terastodon's trigger to destroy three of my opponent's permanents, and the pair of Massacre Wurms caused my opponent to lose 24 life.
Sideboarding: -2 Foresee, -2 Lightning Bolt, +4 Spell Pierce
My opponent mulliganed, and I kept Island, Terramorphic Expanse, Explore, Spell Pierce, Awakening Zone, See Beyond, and Spawning Breath. My opponent played an Island and cast Preordain. I drew a Khalni Garden, and played my Terramorphic Expanse so that I'd be able to get a Mountain if my opponent had a turn-two Lotus Cobra. My opponent played Raging Ravine, cast another Preordain, and passed the turn. I popped the Terramorphic Expanse for a Forest on his end step. I drew another Forest, played my Island, cast Explore, drew Terastodon, played Khalni Garden, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Explore, played another Raging Ravine and a fetch land, and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played it, cast Awakening Zone, leaving open one blue mana, and passed the turn. My opponent tapped out for Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but I countered it with Spell Pierce.
I put an Eldrazi Spawn onto the battlefield, drew a Mountain, played it, cast See Beyond, drew a Massacre Wurm and an Island, and shuffled the Terastodon back into my deck. I cast Preordain, left Mass Polymorph and another Spawning Breath on top, drew the Mass Polymorph, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Lotus Cobra, played a land, and cast another Jace, the Mind Sculptor, then used Jace's 0-loyalty ability and passed the turn. I cast Spawning Breath targeting him on his end step. I made another Eldrazi Spawn during my upkeep, drew Spawning Breath, then sacrificed one Spawn and tapped all my lands to cast Mass Polymorph. I flipped up two Massacre Wurms and a Terastodon, destroyed two of my opponent's lands and Jace, killed the Cobra (and the three Elephants), made him lose 12 life, and put 21 points of power on the board. My opponent drew for his turn and conceded.
I won the roll, mulliganed, and kept Khalni Garden, Forest, Terramorphic Expanse, Explore, Growth Spasm, and Mass Polymorph. I played my Khalni Garden and passed the turn. My opponent played a Celestial Colonnade and passed back. I drew an Island, played it, cast Explore, played Terramorphic Expanse, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Stoneforge Mystic, searched for Sword of Feast and Famine, and passed the turn. I drew Khalni Garden, played it, cast Growth Spasm finding a Mountain, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked for 1, cast Squadron Hawk, played another Celestial Colonnade, and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played my Forest, and cast Mass Polymorph.
I'm aware that there was a one-in-four chance of me hitting three Massacre Wurms, "just" putting 18 points of power onto the table and making my opponent lose 12 life and all his creatures. That's a risk I was willing to take. I flipped into two Massacre Wurms and the Terastodon, and my opponent lost 20 life.
Sideboarding: -2 Spawning Breath, -2 Foresee, +2 Spell Pierce, +2 Lightning Bolt
I mulliganed and kept Terramorphic Expanse, Khalni Garden, Evolving Wilds, 2 Preordain, and Lightning Bolt. My opponent played a Seachrome Coast, cast Preordain, and passed the turn. I drew Spell Pierce, played an Evolving Wilds, and passed the turn. My opponent popped a fetch land, cast Squadron Hawk, searched up another two copies, and passed the turn, and I popped my wilds for an Island. I drew Terastodon, cast Preordain, left See Beyond on top and put Massacre Wurm on the bottom, played Terramorphic Expanse, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked for one, popped another fetch, cast Sword of Feast and Famine, and passed the turn, and I popped my Terramorphic Expanse for a Mountain. I drew an Island, played my Khalni Garden, and passed the turn.
My opponent attempted to equip Sword of Feast and Famine onto Squadron Hawk, but I had the Lightning Bolt at the ready. My opponent went for a Mana Leak, but I had the Spell Pierce. I drew a Forest, cast Preordain, put another Massacre Wurm on bottom and a Mass Polymorph on top, drew the Mass Polymorph, played my Island, cast See Beyond, drew a Spawning Breath and a Growth Spasm, shuffled away the Terastodon, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a pair of Squadron Hawks and searched up the last copy. I drew a Mountain, cast Growth Spasm, played the Mountain, and passed the turn. My opponent went to equip the Sword onto the first Hawk, but I responded with the Spawning Breath. He simply equipped the Sword onto his other Bird and attacked for 3. I discarded my land, and he untapped all his lands and passed the turn. I drew an Island and figured now was the best time to go for it.
I attempted to cast Mass Polymorph, but my opponent cast Mana Leak, and I passed the turn. My opponent cast Gideon Jura, attacked for another 3, untapped all his lands, and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played it, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor, looked at the top card of my library, thought for a bit, put the card on the bottom of my library, attacked for 9, untapped all his lands, and passed the turn. I drew Preordain, cast it, found a Mass Polymorph, and cast it. This time it resolved, and I flipped up Terastodon and two Massacre Wurms, destroyed two of my opponent's five lands and Gideon Jura, made him lose 12 life, and put 21 points of power on the table. My opponent Brainstormed with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, played a land, cast Day of Judgment, and passed the turn. I drew Foresee, cast it, found a Lightning Bolt, and aimed it at my opponent's face for lethal.
I played a few more matches against both of these decks and it seemed like the matches were certainly winnable, but not actually favorable. I was especially lucky in the second game against Caw-Blade here.
The deck certainly has potential. I wouldn't be surprised if a non-budget list that gets to play fetch lands and Jace, the Mind Sculptor turned out to be a real contender. This is certainly the most powerful flip you can accomplish off a Mass Polymorph in Standard. I'll be in the lab over the course of the next week, and I'll try to include a non-budget list at the end of next week's column.