Originally conceived as a time-saving measure, this article is all about decks that are full of cards with mono-syllabic names. I got the inspiration for these decks while I was flipping through the Ravnica Player’s Guide. Worn out from Kamigawa’s “Blank of the Blanking Blank” naming system because it caused a lot of extra typing, I was pleased to discover Char and Smash, cards with very short names that would make writing this column much easier on my carpal tunnel.
There is no good way to search for one-syllable names, so I actually had to sift through every card ever printed in order to find suitable spells. Despite my finely-tuned syllable-detector, I still managed to overlook Veldt. I was surprised to find out that there were enough one-syllable cards to make six distinct decks, and I was even more surprised that half of the decks ended up being pretty playable. Did this article succeed in freeing up players’ schedules? The answer is an unequivocal “Yes.” As a reader named Keith wrote: “With my extra time, I’m going to play Legos!” House of Cards: Changing lives since 2002.This article originally appeared on February 22, 2006
If hard work is the song, I am a verse. Yes, I am a verse to hard work. (If you think that pun was forced, just wait 'til next week.) Sloth is the sin that makes you slow and eat the leaves of trees and lie in bed all day. And I'm full of it. Full of sloth, I mean. With this job, I try to use all the short cuts I can. This week I did not want to type up the decklists. Too long. Too much work. Sure, some cards with long names are fun to play (and fun to say), but they take six years to type (at least the way I do it). My hands start to cramp up. I get the sweats. I don't have time for this, so long names Out, short names In.
“How short can I go?” you ask. Spud Webb short? Tom Cruise short? Here's how short: I plan to build some decks with cards whose names have only one syllable. That's right: one. If I get to two, you'll know that I've gone too far. Five would, of course, be right out. Sounds like a fun game, does it not? If the cards are there, this could be neat.
I will break the rules in two ways. One, a split card where just one half of the card has a short name is fine (see: Pain/Suffering). And, two, Mountain, Forest, and Island don't count.
How's that? Fair? Can you dig it?
One Deck, Two Decks, Red Decks, Blue Decks
To start things off, I thought I'd build a Red deck. Red decks win, don't they? I'd have to say they do. If you want more proof, just ask a Red mage. He'll set you straight.
It was not a, uh, shock to me that Red had a glut of cards with short names. In fact, there were more cards than would fit in one deck. So I went with the cream of the crop. The first card that sprang to mind was Okk. He's the kind of cheap fat that Red gets: the kind that can't swing half the time. That made me sad. Okk had to be in the deck. That's when I found Orgg! How cool is that? Okk and Orgg are not just the sounds you make when you clear your throat. No, sir! They make quite a team, like Hall and Oates, Brooks and Dunn, or Bill and Ted.
They might be a bit shy when you try to send them to The Red Zone, but don't get too stressed out. If you are faced with a stall on the ground, you have a few ways to get out of it. The first is to make like Scott Stapp and Brawl your way out. Smash! Pow! Zlop! That ought to clear a path. Okk and Orgg love to Brawl, but they like to be flung with Fling just as much. That's four - or six - straight to the dome! “Ow, my dome!” the domed guy might say.
This deck turned out the way most Red decks do. Plain. Not a lot of frills. Just cheap beats backed up with burn. Take a look:BURN – A Red Deck
Which cards did not make the cut? Brand, Crash, Feint, Lunge, Parch, Scald, Scrap, Singe, and Stun.
That was not a bad start at all. A Red deck that is more than just the sum of its parts! Neat. Now what? I'll move on to Red's old foe: the Blue deck. There is no such thing as Blue Deck Wins, but if there was, this deck would be it. Or not. Hey, I just like the name. Plus it's true. Blue decks win. At least, they can beat a lot of decks. On the off chance that they try to win with spells, Daze, Vex, Foil, Thwart, and Quash will make it tough for them. Blue guys are not as big as Okk and Orgg most of the time, but, hey, “If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!” That's what Clone says when pressed. If there is no one else on the board, Shyft is a fine guy to clone.
This deck can draw a ton of cards, with Opt and Peek at the low end of the curve, and Flux, Sift, and Browse at the high end. With all the free (or just cheap) spells, the deck looks a bit like Blue Skies and a bit like 'Gro. No one in the deck can fly (or grow, I guess), but I'll still call it Skies. Here it is:SKIES – A Blue Deck
Left on the bench: Flood, Jolt, Jump, Leap, Taunt, and Twitch.
The games with these decks are so fast! In fact, I played eight of them since I wrote that line. No jokes. They go like this:
“Make Shyft. He'll be Green.”
“End of your turn, Char you and Fork it?”
“Blaze for ten?”
“I give up.”
Fun stuff, I tell you. That's the way the game was meant to be played!
Hop on Pox
Black decks are not my cup of tea. For one thing, it's hard to drink out of a cup made of cards. In fact, I'm not sure how a Black deck and my cup of tea got mixed up in the first place. A Black deck has skulls, blood, and dead things in it, while my cup of tea has, you guessed it, tea in it. At least, that's what I hope is in it. Do you see what I mean, though? They're not the same at all. I just thought I'd clear that up.
If you plan to base a deck on a Black card, it might as well be Pox. A rare from Ice Age, Pox lops off a third of your life, your lands, and your Filths. It hits each guy in the game, not just you. That would stink! And make no sense! I should note that you round up, not down, so if you have one, two, or three guys, you lose one of them, and if you have four guys, you lose two of them.
This deck is not like the Pox decks of old. The curve is a bit on the high side. You don't have the cheap threats a Pox deck needs. You've just got Filth in the four slot. Yikes! Worse still, half the cards will take a huge chunk out of your life (Pox, Greed) or cause you to lose lands (Dredge, Pox). That's why the land count is so high. If your life gets too low, Lich will be there to save the day. Just don't Dredge it! You'll lose the game that way. Those are all the tips I have. Now they're yours! Don't clap 'til the show's done.
The deck brings with it some risk (but it's a Black deck, so that's no shock).KILL – A Black Deck
Trimmed from the deck like a rogue nose hair: Breach and Rouse.
Squire in the Hole
While Filth is not the best kill card for a Black deck, poor White has to win the game on the back of Squire. Yes, that Squire. The guy whose stats make Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn look like Cy Young. He makes the New York Knicks look like, I don't know, a good team. It will take him all week to win the game. There are not a whole lot of decks that are forced to win through Squire beats. This, I'm sad to say, is one of them.
Once you get past the fact that Squire is weak and slow, you'll find that the rest of the deck is strong. Rout and Moat are close to the best at what they do: keep you out of harm's reach from all the Okks and Orggs of the world.
If you can't win with the Squire beats (and how could you not?), Plan B is to run them out of cards. To that end, Scour helps out a bit. But this is where Truce gets to shine. Shine like a shoe (that's been shined)! Draw two cards, see if I care! You'll be decked by the time I run out of cards! Mwa ha ha ha! WRATH – A White Deck
The sad thing is that this deck would no doubt be good if you found a more apt kill card for it. Just pick a card. Squire is not tough to beat.
Rhox in Socks
Now it's Green's turn. What does Green have that no one else does? Beef? Pork? Ham and eggs? For now, I'll go with beef. Beef like Lynx, Brawn, and Rhox. As you well know, Rhox rocks. With Lure, Rhox will make short work of the poor saps who have to block him. Short work is the best work of all, as I hope I've proved. Wax (of Wax/Wane fame) and Thrive will pump up your guys, while Shrink will, uh, pump down their guys. If Squire and Alms gives you too much grief, just slap a Roots on him and swing right past him! Hush is all you've got to get rid of Moat (which shuts this deck right down), but there are three more of those in the 'board.BEEF – A Green Deck
Cut from the team: Fog, Rust, Snag, and Squall.
One for the Road
Last up, we have a deck for the rest of the cards with short, short names that I did not use yet. I had to find a home for wee Tek, Stangg and his twin, and the Blue dead guy known in some parts as Drowned. I guess he's known in all parts as Drowned. Well, not France. At the same time, I had to play with Void, Jilt, Probe, and Fire/Ice. They're just too good to leave out. The only thing was, how would I cast these spells? Mulch and Jinx (try to say that five times fast!) should help you get the type of land you need. Probe and Ice will help you dig for land, and Drowned, Jilt, and Fire will help you stall.
Tek will end the game with a few swings if you can get a land of each type in play.FIVE – A Deck
I hope you had fun this week. The decks turned out well, for the most part, and just think of the time we saved! Now we'll have more time to talk on our cells, watch the tube, and eat junk food. Sounds like fun to me.
'til next time, don't use a big word when a small one will do!