elcome to the Lab, minions! Today is April 1, the day we celebrate pulling pranks and making people look like fools. This is one of my favorite holidays, and it's a prime opportunity for pulling a few old tricks out of the bag. I've dyed the ice in the ice machine blood red, served up a bowl of breakfast cereal that was actually frozen solid, and made a friend think he dialed my number wrong and called a Chinese restaurant by mistake. Of course, there are some fun pranks you can pull off within a game of Magic as well.
Oh, Never Mind
Boldwyr Heavyweights has always been a pet card of mine. As an 8/8 for four mana, it is double the normal size for a creature of its cost, but it has the drawback of letting your opponent get any creature from his or her deck and put it onto the battlefield. Fortunately, Stranglehold turns that drawback into an April Fools' joke. "Hey, you can get any creature you want! Oh wait, I have Stranglehold. April Fools!"
Even more cruel and hilarious is Maralen of the Mornsong. "Well, we can't draw cards, but it's okay, because we can search for a card instead. Well, at least, I can. You can't really do anything, can you?" Best of all, your opponent will still lose the 3 life to Maralen's ability, despite being unable to search for anything. You can tutor for Loxodon Warhammer to offset the life loss from Maralen, and you can also search for an Oblivion Ring to get rid of any problem permanent, or a Rebuff the Wicked to protect her from removal.
Path to Exile is an efficient piece of removal that also loses its drawback when you have Stranglehold. Your opponent won't even get a basic land to make up for his or her loss. Ghost Quarter functions similarly, turning into Strip Mine with Stranglehold on the board.
Aven Mindcensor and Leonin Arbiter can play backup for Stranglehold if necessary, although to varying degrees of effectiveness. The Mindcensor will limit your opponent's search to four cards. Now, instead of getting the best creature in his or her library with Boldwyr Heavyweights, your opponent will get the creature at the top of his or her library. Maralen turns into Impulse for your opponent, while you still get Demonic Tutor. Leonin Arbiter is a bit more fair, affecting both players equally, but it can still give you a nice window to cast Boldwyr Heavyweights if your opponent doesn't have two mana available.
Diabolic Tutor helps you find Stranglehold or search for Maralen to tutor up whatever else you need later. It can also grab one of your silver bullets if you need one immediately.
The last piece of the deck is my favorite. Timesifter essentially randomizes turn order. At the beginning of each upkeep, you clash with your opponent to determine who gets to take the next turn. With a Stranglehold out, however, it becomes very one-sided. If your opponent reveals the card with the highest converted mana cost, he or she gets... nothing. If you reveal the card with the highest converted mana cost, you get to take an extra turn. To demonstrate how awesome this is, let's say you win every other clash. You cast Timesifter, and on your opponent's upkeep you win. After his or her turn, you take your extra one, and lose that clash. When you're done, your opponent skips the extra turn, and you take your normal turn. On your upkeep, you win the converted mana cost battle again, and you get a third turn in a row. After that you lose, and your opponent finally gets a turn, at which point the process starts over. So, if you're winning just fifty percent of the time with this card, you get to take three turns for every one turn your opponent takes. That is fairly absurd, and if you don't win the game shortly afterward, something has gone very wrong.
Dying All Over Again
After you've made your opponent look like a fool, you can kill him or her like one with this next deck. Fool's Demise is a theme-fitting card that's ripe for abuse with the right tools. The first card that came to mind was Composite Golem. You can sacrifice the Golem for five mana, return it to the battlefield with Fool's Demise, then use that mana to cast the Aura again. This won't win the game by itself, but it does let you trigger Blood Artist and Falkenrath Noble an infinite number of times. I originally used Disciple of the Vault for a more nostalgic kill card, but it won't work with our second route to victory.
Academy Researchers will also combo with Fool's Demise. When it dies, put the creature trigger from Fool's Demise onto the stack, then the Aura's own trigger. Fool's Demise will return to your hand, then when Academy Researchers returns to the battlefield, you can put the Aura onto the battlefield attached to it, ready to start the process over again. Of course, you'll need some way to sacrifice the Researchers to get this going. Dimir House Guard gives you a way to sacrifice Academy Researchers as much as you want, and can also be transmuted for Falkenrath Noble. A Fallen Angel and a Phyrexian Plaguelord give you other options for sacrifice outlets, and Brainspoil can transmute for either of them, as well as for Fool's Demise. It's also a fine, if not particularly efficient, piece of removal. Finally, Dispel should help you stop your opponent from ripping apart your combo before it's complete.
Fight of the Fools
Now it's time for our foolish friends to battle it out the arena. Who will be the heavyweight champion, and which fool will meet his demise? Let's go find out, shall we?
No Search for You won the roll and started off with an Isolated Chapel. Foolish Researchers played a Swamp and passed back. No Search played a Mountain, and the Researchers summoned a Blood Artist. No Search put a Blood Crypt onto the battlefield tapped, and the Researchers played a land ad passed the turn. No Search played Clifftop Retreat and cast Maralen of the Mornsong. Foolish Researchers took 3, then cast Dimir House Guard and passed the turn. No Search lost 3 life, then played a land and cast Stranglehold. The Researchers lost 3 life, cast Fallen Angel, and passed the turn. No Search lost 3, played a land, and passed back. The Researchers lost 3, then cast Falkenrath Noble and attacked with Fallen Angel.
No Search for You cast Path to Exile on Fallen Angel, and Foolish Researchers sacrificed it to Dimir House Guard, triggering Blood Artist and Falkenrath Noble. No Search dropped to 9 and cast Oblivion Ring on Falkenrath Noble. The Researchers sacrificed it and Dimir House Guard in response, dropping No Search to 5. The Researchers lost 3 life, cast their namesake card (Academy Researchers), and passed the turn. No Search dropped to 2, then cast Loxodon Warhammer, equipped it to Maralen, and attacked for 5. The Researchers took the damage, and the turn went to them and back with no play. Maralen attacked again, and both creatures blocked, leaving the Researchers at 6 and No Search at 5. Still unable to draw any cards, Foolish Researchers conceded.
Foolish Researchers led with a Watery Grave, and No Search for You played Godless Shrine. A Blood Artist came down for the Researchers, and No Search played another land and passed. The Researchers passed with no play, and No Search got rid of the Blood Artist with Oblivion Ring. The Researchers paid 2 life for Coalition Relic and put a charge counter on it before passing the turn. No Search paid 2 for Godless Shrine and cast Stranglehold.
Foolish Researchers cast Composite Golem and passed the turn. No Search for You cast Maralen of the Mornsong. The Researchers lost 3 life, then cast Falkenrath Noble and attacked with Composite Golem before ending the turn. Maralen dropped to 11 and cast Boldwyr Heavyweights. The Researchers cast Fool's Demise on Composite Golem. No Search cast Path to Exile, but the Researchers had the Dispel to counter it and win the game.
No Search for You played Isolated Chapel, and Foolish Researchers started off with Watery Grave. No Search followed up with Clifftop Retreat, and the Researchers played a Blood Artist. No Search played another land and passed the turn, and the Researchers transmuted Brainspoil for Fool's Demise. No Search paid 2 life for Sacred Foundry and cast Stranglehold. Academy Researchers hit the battlefield, and No Search cast Boldwyr Heavyweights. The Researchers played a second copy of their namesake and passed the turn.
No Search for You attacked for 8 with Boldwyr Heavyweights, then cast Timesifter and passed the turn. Foolish Researchers won the clash with Composite Golem, played a land, and cast the Golem. The next clash was a tie with two lands. The Researchers got a second land on the tiebreaker, and No Search won with Diabolic Tutor. Path to Exile got rid of Composite Golem, and the Heavyweights attacked for 8. The two Academy Researchers blocked, triggering Blood Artist, and the Researchers dropped to 10. No Search cast Diabolic Tutor and won on the extra turn by equipping Loxodon Warhammer to the Heavyweights.
No More Foolishness; Well, Maybe a Little
Sadly, it's time for me to sign off for now. There are more pranks that must be done before the day is out. Make sure to come back next week, when I'll have something a-maze-ing to show you all. Until then, may you be slightly less foolish than your opponent. See ya!
Mike Cannon signed on to write From the Lab at the end of 2012. An ardent casual player and lover of bizarre synergies, he'll be bringing you a selection of crazy combo decks every Monday.