ll right, Soldiers, here's our mission: We're going to engage a certain creature type and do it justice for all concerned Americans (and Canadians and Japanese and Turks and the good people of Cameroon and anyone else listening in). And here's the fifty-pound backpack: We're going to do it without using either white cards or any kind of Bird.
Let's make it a sixty-pound backpack, as red is too easy. We'll say red can't be more than half of any given deck's nonland cards. Since black has only three or four Soldiers, and they're stuck with shadow (I'm guessing that if it were ever to see reprint, Dauthi Slayer would feel better as something other than a Soldier!), it looks like an unwinnable battle.
So we'll reduce our mission to two objectives: (1) use blue, and (2) use green.
FIRST OBJECTIVE: USE BLUE
When turning to blue, as folks who remember the "Palm Tree Tag" article know, we can start with Dream Fighter. After that, the "No Bird" restriction above can haunt us a little. We have to dig pretty deep and not be ashamed to splash a little red to help:
I like the irony of having no shadow creatures in a deck named "Shadow Ops," especially when there are perfectly good blue Soldiers with shadow available! But if you don't have some of the rares, Thalakos Scout would be a good substitute. Try to get extra functionality out of the discard by putting Anger or Wonder in there, too.
The creature enchantments are there to give your fairly small creatures some extra punch - and to give your Brawlers something to do when lands are untapped at the wrong time.
Putting restrictions on ourselves like this comes at a price. The deck is underpowered, especially for multiplayer, and would need some serious help to move beyond tricks like Turnabout and Confound. You might consider one or more copies of Prophetic Bolt, or even a plain spell like Fireball, if you play in a group that tends to wield more power. If you're going to break the Soldier theme, stay unblockable with something like Tidal Kraken (which as a Monster will never have its own "tribal" deck anyway).
SECOND OBJECTIVE: USE GREEN
Okay, okay, the Terravore is not a Soldier. So sue me. But with the Explorer getting lands in play, and the Firebombers and Fault Riders getting them to the graveyard, you should consider it anyway. Think of it as a trusty steed for the Ranger, or whatever.
The flavor behind this deck is about acquiring resources faster than your opponent (Ranger), consuming those resources strategically (cycling lands), pillaging the opponent (Firebombers and Terravore), using terrain strategically in the heat of battle (snow-covered lands and Whiteout, Fault Riders and Terravore), pinpointing your troops for defense (Steely Resolve), ambushing the opposition (Whiteout, Whip Sergeant), and when all else fails, attacking the enemy camps with everything you've got (Patrol, Hurricane).
It would be fair of any of you to point out that I might just be playing a wee bit too much Warcraft III, lately. But this is where my mind is. In any case, this is a deck that doesn't have to worry too often about Akroma, Angel of Wrath - and that's unusual for a red-green deck.
Rules Corner: Snow-Covered Lands
Rules for snow-covered lands from the Comprehensive Rules, for those of you who don't get much of the Ice Age set in your diet:
502.14a Snow-covered is an ability that doesn't do anything in its own right; it's simply a keyword that other cards look for. When a card refers to a "snow-covered land," it means a land with the snow-covered ability. When a card refers to a "snow-covered forest," it means a forest with the snow-covered ability, and so on.
502.14b Five snow-covered lands were printed in the Ice Age expansion. Their names are Snow-Covered Plains, Snow-Covered Island, Snow-Covered Swamp, Snow-Covered Mountain, and Snow-Covered Forest. These lands are basic lands, even though they have a different name and they have the snow-covered ability.
502.14c Some effects can add or remove the snow-covered ability. This doesn't change the existing name of the land. For example, a card named Snow-Covered Forest is named "Snow-Covered Forest," while a forest that has been granted the snow-covered ability is still named "Forest."
Against black recursion, this deck will have some difficulty. Keep the Whip Sergeants available, and wait with a Terravore until you see the Zombie mage tap out. If you're going to surprise anyone the first time you play this deck, make it that guy.
And of course, pepper in Hull Breach or Naturalize if you're facing that kind of crowd.
BONUS OBJECTIVE: CONQUER SNOW-COVERED LANDS
Wait, we already did that. Okay, how about this: We put together a Soldier deck that doesn't use a single Soldier.
I think my favorite part of this deck is the way you can keep the Spike Soldier alive with Scavenged Weaponry (or another weapon), so that you can move those Spike counters over to help Vodalian Soldiersnot suck so much.
Use Soldier of Fortune liberally. You'll need it.
Anthony may be reached at email@example.com.