House_of_Cards

From soul gorging to street poetry, Chris Millar can do it all.

Getting a Monkey Off My Chest

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The letter W!elcome to House of Cards! Before I get going, as the title suggests I have a monkey to get off my chest. I'm not sure how it got there, and I'm even less sure how I'm going remove it. These burdensome little simians are usually on my back. Maybe it's because I've been eating an inordinate amount of bananas lately, or perhaps it's because of my newly embarreled chest and my aversion to razor blades. It might even be because of a longstanding feud I have with a local plumber and his mustachioed brother.

In any case, this monkey is making it very difficult for me to write this article. Some guys have all the luck. For the time being, I have all the (monkey-induced) pain. The only cure, so I'm told, is more deckbuilding. So here we go!

Sh! The Orgg!

I'm excited about Coldsnap, and, if my inbox is any indication, so are the House of Cards readers. The decklists have been flooding in. Literally. I have a Shop-Vac full of them in my basement. It's still quite messy down there, so for the time being I'm going to share just a fraction of the Coldsnappy goodness. This fraction in particular was sent to me by Brandon Housman.

In the olden days, when I was a lad, if you needed to have some souls gorged, you called the Orggs. Ever since Judgment was released, Ma and Pa Orgg have had a bit of a monopoly on soulgorging. After a long and drawn out lawsuit - Phyrexia v. Garth W. Orgg - a new and exciting, state-of-the-art soulgorging product has just hit the market: Phyrexian Soulgorger!

Brandon, and my legendary friend Quizzledorf, are both big fans of the Coldsnap Construct. To keep himself in gorge-able souls, Brandon turned to the Mirrodin Block. Myr Servitor and Myr Retriever, combined with Genesis Chamber, should keep your side of the board fully-stocked with creatures, while also doubling as a sort of Infinite Chumpblockability Engine in order to keep you alive. Drift of Phantasms also helps in this regard, and the fact that Soulgorger has a mana-cost of three makes it a nice Transmute target.

The last thing you want to have to deal with once you have your 8/8 on the table, chowing down on your own guys, is an opposing chumpblocker. To remedy this potential problem, Brandon included O-Naginata, which very nicely turns your 8/8 into 11/8 and lethal in two swings. Brandon was using Fabricates to get everything together, but I swapped them out for Trinket Mages, which can fetch almost as many artifacts while still being fodder for the Soulgorger. The only other “major change” I made was to add a pair of Arcum Dagssons and a Coat of Arms for him to fetch (there will probably be a lot of Myr on the table, especially if the Soulgorger plan isn't working out).

The other key card is Crystal Shard. As Brandon explained, “Crystal Shard has many uses. It can return a creature you control to make more Myr tokens with the Chamber, or return your Soulgorger so its upkeep doesn't get too far out of hand, or even return an opponent's creature if they're tapped out.” It also gives Drift of Phantasms something else to Transmute for.

I made a small error last week when I labeled a couple of my Coldsnap-infused decks Standard Legal. They are not. A reader pointed this out, and I went off to search the FAQ for answers. Apparently, Coldsnap is not tournament legal until August 20th. What this means is that all of the people who were planning to bring my Juniper Order Ranger deck or my Soldier Tribal Wars deck to their Nationals tournaments will have to make other plans. Sorry, guys! If for some reason you have access to a time machine, then go ahead and turn on your Tardis, fire up your flux-capacitor, and start enjoying Coldsnap Standard post-haste. A word of warning, though: if movies from the ‘80s are correct, the world of August, 2006 is a dangerous, post-apocalyptic wasteland where resources are scarce and warring factions fight over what little remains. I'd pack a lunch.

Gorge-ous – Legal in some crazy future Extended

You had me at halo

Last week, I took a look at a very unusual tribe, Soldiers. They were very heavily influenced by the Boros Legion, Ravnica's R/W Guild, since one of the Guild Leaders, Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran is a Soldier. This week, I'm going to use the other Boros Legend (Razia, Boros Archangel), because I have a bit of a completist streak. I'm not sure how wide it is, because it's never been measured using the metric system. All I know is that it's wide enough to make building an Angel deck for Standard Tribal Wars seem like a good idea.

There are currently six Angels in Standard (soon to be seven), and the fact that two of the best ones are R/W (Razia, and Firemane Angel) led me into those colours. Unfortunately, Angels start at five-mana and go all the way up to eight (not eleven, as was previously believed). Since Tribal Wars decks have so few slots to work with once you meet your creature quota and get your lands figured out, having a tribe with such high-cost creatures squeezes you even further. To get the requisite mana, I turned to the mystical land-fetching nomad, Weathered Wayfarer. The Weathered One is particularly good at finding Boros Garrisons. Because you have to return a land to your hand when you play a Garrison, it's much easier to maintain the Wayfarer's fetching-condition (you must have fewer lands than your opponent) while still advancing your own game plan. Boros Signets can also help in this respect.

I've taken this deck to 50-48 record in the West Division. All the life-gain (Angel of Mercy, Firemane Angel, Lightning Helix, Faith's Fetters, and Miren, the Moaning Well), combined with a full set of Ghostly Prisons and Blinding Angels, have helped me pull off a number of come from behind wins against fast decks (see: Elves, Goblins). Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion is very nice against decks with a lack of flying creatures, allowing you to kill in two attacks.

As I said, this is the version I've been playing Online. It might be worth dipping into Blue for Compulsive Research and Zur's Weirding, to set up the Firemane Angel / Zur's Weirding “lock.” Once Coldsnap becomes available, I think I will try out a B/W version of the deck, with Adarkar Valkyrie and Angel of Despair replacing Firemane Angel and Razia. You'd lower the curve by one whole mana!

Without rhyme or any kind of justification at all

I wrote an article a little while ago called “Sloth.” In it, I tried to claim that I was really lazy (which just isn't tru …). The fact of the matter is, the reason almost every word in that article had one syllable had more to do with my computer's malfunctioning spacebar than any slothfulness on my part. To make matters worse, I couldn't even explain the problem because, as far as I could tell, there was no good way of rephrasing and monosyllable-izing “malfunctioning spacebar.”

In response to that article, Michael Kioski wrote in to tell me two things. One, that I could've used Veldt, the “depletion” land from Ice Age, later upgraded in Champions of Kamigawa as Tranquil Garden. I'm not sure how I missed that one. The other thing he wanted to share was a decklist he thought I might find “interesting” since I'm such a guy-who-likes-words and stuff. Here's the list. Tell me if you notice anything unusual about it.

Knighty Night – Casual Legacy

Do you see it?

Look closer.

Still nothing?

All the cards are White or Black cards!

Also, they rhyme.

The beautiful thing about this deck is that it sticks to its bizarre deckbuilding constraint while remaining not only functional, but actually synergistic. Keeper of the Light works very well with Reckless Spite, turning it into an almost Well-Considered Spite. The more important “combo” is Crusading Knight and Blanket of Night, which, coincidentally, I mentioned in passing while discussing a Nightcreep deck a few weeks ago. Leshrac's Rite is also very useful when every land in play is a Swamp, although it doesn't help Crusading Knight and Spirit of the Night due to their Protection from Black.

Now, there could be other cards in there, for sure. White Knight and Silver Knight seem like good fits, as does Black Knight. Bathe in Light might also be good. Personally, I like how Michael didn't just make a Knight theme deck. That would be the easy way out. That's just not what this column is about. (I promise that that will be the last pair of rhyming sentences in the body of this article).

Michael went on to explain that at one point, the deck featured Unglued's I'm Rubber, You're Glue. This card forces you to talk in rhyming sentences, but as long as you do that, you get to pick a new target for any spell that targets you (and only you). I suspect that it is a little easier to keep I'm Rubber, You're Glue on the table if each card in your deck rhymes with each other card. That means cards that rhyme with “Glue.” I knew I could use some Goos and some Statues to fill out the creature-base, but in my search, I discovered the mother-lode: the Kavu! (I really hope Kavu is pronounced Ka-voo and not Ka-vuh.) Instead of just making a Kavu deck, I picked only the top choice, grade-a Kavus and filled the deck up with other cards, like Pilgrim of Virtue (gesundheit!) and Mana Screw. Curfew was the only other card that I really considered (Flametongue Kavu is always getting in trouble), but that would mean dipping into a third colour, something I didn't want to do if I didn't have to.

The Kavu and Goo Team-Up Issue – Not actually legal anywhere

Main Deck

60 cards

Karoo
12  Mountain
Plains

24 lands

Bloodfire Kavu
Chaotic Goo
Earthen Goo
Flametongue Kavu
Pilgrim of Virtue
Tundra Kavu

24 creatures

I'm Rubber, You're Glue
Jade Statue
Mana Screw
Xanthic Statue

12 other spells


There are many other options for rhyming decks, and if anyone else has ever tried this, I'd like to hear about it. I have a few other ideas, including a five-colour deck with Draco, Harrow, and Reap and Sow, some kind of Red deck focused on (shockingly) direct damage and land destruction using Incinerate, Disintegrate, Detonate, and Devastate, and for the control freaks (a term of endearment), perhaps there's a U/W deck to be built with Capsize, Plagiarize, and Presence of the Wise, with Traumatize as the win condition.

Just don't try building a deck around Balthor, the Orange. There's no such card.

Until next time, rhyme!

Chris Millar

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