Home > Decklists, Spreading Cheese > Spreading Cheese – One Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Spreading Cheese – One Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

In the first installment of what we hope to be an ongoing series, our friend and local Baltimore player Noyan Tokgozoglu—”the Conley Woods of our playgroup”—introduces us to his style of deckbuilding.

All comments are welcome and much appreciated! ~Joey

———————

Welcome to the first ever Spreading Cheese. You may ask, “What is this column about?” This column is about Magic: The Gathering (duh!). I’m not going to focus on a specific aspect of the game, but many aspects: from deckbuilding to plays, social dilemmas introduced by the game and trading. My writing style is very ‘train-of-thought’, so if you feel like I veer off topic, keep reading and it will all come full circle.

Let me first talk about myself. My name is Noyan, and I am from Turkey. Some call me ‘The Turkish Tornado’, which is a silly nickname, but it stuck, so you can do that too. I’ve been playing Magic since the age of six (16 years now). I’ve played mostly casualish until Odyssey, where I stepped my game up, starting to win Extended tournaments, and then branched into Standard when Tempest, my favorite block, rotated. I’ve mostly been playing Standard ever since, but I’ve won an occasional Vintage tournament and tried my hand at Legacy too. For the time being, I will write about Standard, but when a Legacy tournament is close by, I will definitely write about Legacy too.

According to MaRo’s scale, I am a Johnny/Spike. I agree with that, because I really hate creatures that don’t do anything but attack. The Johnny part is obvious when you look at previous decks I’ve played: Stasis, Opposition, Wildfire, Astral Slide, Isochron Scepter, Martyr of Sands, Spreading Seas (my current favorite card in Standard), a variant of Jacerator, UWr Silence Lock. As you can probably see, a theme here is denial. Yes, I love denial. It is what I play Magic for. It is why I also have the nickname ‘AnNoyan’. The Spike part comes from the fact that I like winning games, and somehow manage to do it in spite of playing decks that would make real Spikes have fits. One thing I excel at is ‘mindgames deckbuilding’, where I build decks to maximize my opponent’s mistake-making potential. A very important factor in winning games of Magic is mistakes made by your opponent. You need to capitalize on that.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to today’s topic. Reading the articles of many players who are probably better at Magic than me, the most common thing I see is decklists. The decklists are accompanied by a few comments on card choices. That is very nice if you are a Spike who wants to win games; but it doesn’t cut it for me. I like to win games with decks I build myself. So I will talk about deckbuilding. I will also give out decklists, but I will show you how to get there. I observe a severe lack of deckbuilding skills in many Magic players, who either end up netdecking but not winning due to not understanding how the deck works; or end up making bad decks and not winning anyway. Ergo, I won’t give you the fish, I’ll teach you how to fish.

Now, let’s go over the basics. With what purpose are we building a deck? To win games (and have fun). Alright then. What are the methods of winning games? Either reducing your opponent’s life total to zero or less, having ten poison counters on them (yay for Scars of Mirrodin!), your opponent being unable to draw cards when he needs to, or specific cards that say ‘You win the game’ (e.g. Felidar Sovereign, Near Death Experience). It is very important to pick a goal and stick with it. However; these goals are not equivalent to each other. Now I’ll introduce a system to evaluate these methods. This might be stating the obvious for some, but bear with me, as I’ll refer to this for a few weeks.

  • To win the game by lethal damage/life loss, you need to exert 20 points.
  • To win the game by poison, you need to exert 10 points.
  • To win the game by decking, you need to exert 53 points (60 minus the first 7 cards drawn).

Specific cards that win the game aren’t easily addressable, so I will not attempt to quantify them.

Looking at this, the simplest way to win a game seems to be by poison. However; card quality and options on poison cards are rather low. So we will shelve the poison point for now (don’t worry, I’ll get back to it in a moment). Also, looking at this, decking seems to be the hardest way to win, and since cards that mill actually don’t affect the game state, we shall also shelve this (to come back to it in two weeks at most).

So, let’s talk about winning the game with damage. I believe there are two ways to win the game with damage. Either ignoring your opponent and going all out, or winning by a war of attrition. Most players would jump in right now andrefer to these as ‘aggro’ and ‘midrange’, but there is more to it that that. Combo decks (for example Pyromancer Ascension, Runeflare Trap) also win by ignoring your opponent. Control decks win by a war of attrition with big, resilient, game changing creatures. I am not concerned about the classification of combo/control/aggro; I just care about how you win the game, so forget those terms for now.

Right now, we have a new format with many untested interactions, so I believe an all-out deck is a good deck to play because of the surprise factor. The new dual lands that come into play untapped if you have less than 3 lands are especially fortunate for what we are going to do. In at most one month, most players will catch on and you will have to change playstyles. This happens after every big rotation, and I remember winning four weeks straight with vampires until everyone caught on and then I switched to Spreading Seas and won four weeks straight with that. It’s all about responding to how the other players play.

If we want a quick, cheap win, Poison is the way to go right now (see, I told you we’d come back to it). People don’t know how to block Poison creatures yet, and they aren’t aware of the implications of having a Poison counter yet. Yes, people have played Sealed, but Constructed is an entirely different ball game. Ever played Go? It’s a board game where you place stones to mark your territory. One small piece you place in a random spot in the beginning of the game can put you in a winning position 300 turns later if you lead the game the right way. I believe Poison is like that, thanks to proliferate and combat tricks.

Let me tell you what I am talking about. We are going to play a ‘cheap shot’ deck, so don’t expect to see stuff like Hand of the Praetors or Putrefax. Those are good cards, but they cost 4-5 mana, and the deck we are getting at doesn’t want to invest in such a large amount of mana for a creature that dies to Lightning Bolt. The real players here are Ichorclaw Myr and Necropede. They are colorless, so you can play them no matter what kind of mana you have, as long as you have any kind. Also, they come in early game, and have tricks attached to them in the form of getting bigger when blocked or killing other small dudes upon death. I will also run Vector Asp, because it’s the only 1 drop we can have reliably. All three of these cards have mini-mindgames attached to them: Block or not? Kill or not? Will he activate the infect? Remember that cards like these make your opponents likely to misplay.

So right now we have:
4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Necropede
3x Vector Asp

You may say, ‘But those are really small creatures! How do we get there before our opponent kills us with real spells?’ (if you don’t get the “real spells” thing, listen to Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 36). I say fret not, dear readers.

I still don’t want to commit to any color yet, because the cards I’m about to add don’t require me to. Let’s add Adventuring Gear. It’s a great card, because it rewards you for doing things you already are going to do anyway, i.e. play lands; and it doesn’t have an additional cost to activate. We’ll also add Trusty Machete. Is it a bad call to add Trusty Machete instead of Darksteel Axe? I say no. Because Trusty Machete enhances toughness, and because it is more mindgames than the Axe. Let’s say your opponent has Shatter. If, at any point, there is a Vector Asp and a Darksteel Axe is in play, the play is obvious. Kill the Asp. But, if you have a Machete in play instead of the Axe, your opponent will have to think. Maybe a good player will make the right play, but a momentary lapse of judgment on your opponent’s part can win you the game, and you must do whatever you can to enable that during deckbuilding. Now, the Machete isn’t as good as the Gear, so we will run two Machetes.

The list now looks like:
4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Necropede
3x Vector Asp
4x Adventuring Gear
2x Trusty Machete

Wow! That’s a lot of artifacts! If only we had some kind of metalcraft going down here! Hmm. We are building a fast deck, so what kind of metalcraft card should we include? If you guessed Mox Opal, bingo! I believe every deck that can have metalcraft should play at least two of this beast, because it is a huge tempo advantage (more on tempo in a few weeks). Usually two is enough, because it is legendary. It also lets you cut down on lands. It’s a bit counterintuitive to Adventuring Gear, but the speed boost is worth it.

Let’s look at the list:
4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Necropede
3x Vector Asp
3x Adventuring Gear
2x Trusty Machete
2x Mox Opal

Whoa, we already have a near-full deck, and we still haven’t added a single colored card in here! Alright, let’s do that. Looking at the above list, you might realize that getting blocked would make you really sad. Let’s take care of that! Distortion Strike is the perfect play here! It gives you unblockability for two turns and two extra poison counters! It’s like living the dream. We added a color! Now, when I do this, I look for cards that are in-color that help my goal. Remember the Go comment? We can use a way to make those poison counters received early game count. Steady Progress. It’s perfect! It draws you a card and adds more poison counters, so you can get there late game. Also, since we are playing blue, Preordain is a must. It’s one mana, and it gives you deck fixing and an extra card. Nothing is better than that for one mana. Now that we chose blue, we can add the blue/black Scars dual, Darkslick Shores.

So we have:
4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Necropede
3x Vector Asp
3x Adventuring Gear
2x Trusty Machete
2x Mox Opal
4x Distortion Strike
4x Preordain
3x Steady Progress
———————
4x Darkslick Shores

Now, this is nice, but after a few testing runs, you might realize that so little creatures don’t exactly get you there. We need to enhance our damage output. Since we already have a bit of a landfall theme going on, we can use Groundswell. How did I choose this card? I looked at our colors. We run blue, and Vector Asp wants black. Fetchlands tell me to play green. Blight Mamba is a sturdy 2 drop infect creature. All of these point to Green. I considered Assault Strobe, but most cases, Groundswell is better, since giving double strike to a 2 power creature is at best giving it +2/+0. Groundswell can sometimes give it +4/+4, which can be game.

4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Necropede
3x Vector Asp
3x Adventuring Gear
2x Trusty Machete
2x Mox Opal
4x Distortion Strike
4x Preordain
3x Steady Progress
3x Blight Mamba
3x Groundswell
———————
4x Darkslick Shores
4x Misty Rainforest
4x Verdant Catacombs

Now, we are at 35 nonland cards. We will probably run 23 lands, so that gives us room for 2 more cards. Unfortunately, that is not good enough. We need some form of resilience and some form of removal, because we will not always be unblockable, and we don’t want our precious infecters to die. Trusty Machete here is the card that is going to be cut, because it involves 3 mana, so it is slower than anything else. Now be minded, we do not need to run any real ‘answers’, we just need to keep our creatures alive. What might be the cheapest way to do that? Turn Aside. We don’t care about anything our opponent does, we just want our creatures to be safe. It doesn’t get better than one mana. We must run 4 of this card so that we can have it in emergencies.

So we have:
4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Necropede
3x Vector Asp
3x Adventuring Gear
2x Mox Opal
4x Distortion Strike
4x Preordain
3x Steady Progress
3x Blight Mamba
3x Groundswell
4x Turn Aside
———————
4x Darkslick Shores
4x Misty Rainforest
4x Verdant Catacombs

That will normally fill our requirements. But we still need to ensure that a creature can get through at the last moment. We need to run some sort of ‘removal’. Again, the cheapest form is sufficient. Unsummon. What should we cut though? I say we cut one of each 2 mana artifact creature, and one Mamba. Why? Because they are slower than the Asp and we need to cut something. The Mamba requires green, so it’s not a definite that we can have it.

3x Ichorclaw Myr
3x Necropede
3x Vector Asp
3x Adventuring Gear
2x Mox Opal
4x Distortion Strike
4x Preordain
3x Steady Progress
2x Blight Mamba
3x Groundswell
4x Turn Aside
3x Unsummon
———————
4x Darkslick Shores
4x Misty Rainforest
4x Verdant Catacombs

I guess that’s done. Now let’s add lands. We will add basics, because we don’t want to deal with lands that come into play tapped. 3x Swamp is all we’ll ever need since we can have at most 3 asps in play anyway. 3x Forest should be enough, since both our fetches bring them. That leaves 5x Island, which should suffice.

Here we go:
3x Ichorclaw Myr
3x Necropede
3x Vector Asp
3x Adventuring Gear
2x Mox Opal
4x Distortion Strike
4x Preordain
3x Steady Progress
2x Blight Mamba
3x Groundswell
4x Turn Aside
3x Unsummon
———————
4x Darkslick Shores
4x Misty Rainforest
4x Verdant Catacombs
3x Swamp
3x Forest
5x Island

Now we need a sideboard. Control decks will annoy us, since they might counter our stuff. Well, fight fire with fire! 4x Spell Pierce is the cheapest counter you can have. If they kill our creatures too much, we can respond with 3x Corpse Cur. If they just have too many blockers, we can get there with Livewire Lash and targeting our own creatures with our tricks. 4x Livewire Lash it is. If creatures are still giving you a problem or a planeswalker is wrecking you, you can add 4x Into the Roil.

And that’s our sideboard:
4x Spell Pierce
4x Livewire Lash
4x Into the Roil
3x Corpse Cur

There we go! A really fast deck that is entirely made of combat tricks and light mana requirements! This is how you play by ignoring your enemies. Remember that you only need 10 damage. Always bluff combat tricks even when you don’t have them. A turn 3 kill is very likely, just make sure you mulligan aggressively:

T1: Land, Gear
T2: Land, Necropede
T3: Attach Gear to ‘Pede, play Misty, fetch a forest, Strike and Groundswell on the ‘Pede, swing for the win.

That’s all I have to say this week folks. Next week, we’ll take a look at ‘real decks’, tempo, and wars of attrition. Until then, make sure you’re annoying your opponents with your small infecters!

Noyan

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  1. Wiefunt
    October 5, 2010 at 5:09 am

    Unless I’m missing something isn’t that only 9 poison? Still impressive but not quite turn 3.

    • October 5, 2010 at 5:16 am

      You’re missing something 🙂

      It’s 10 poison. Necropede is 1/1, gets +4/+4 from the fetchland/Adventuring Gear interaction (5/5), +4/+4 from Groundswell (9/9), and +1/+0 from Distortion Strike (10/9).

  2. October 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I’m nayon7 on twitter if anyone wants to follow. I also welcome comments/advice.

  3. maelstrom13
    October 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Really cool article man, was fun to read and quite interesting in an educating way 😀 keep it up, looking forward to read the next one!

  4. October 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    that was cool bro! I’m (we’re) lookin’ forward
    to read your future articles.

    btw poison gets even more AnNoying when combined
    with such buffers. interesting, enlightening..=P

  5. October 10, 2010 at 5:58 am

    this deck will make people breast feed horses like chrome steed.

    it will also work like pimps working hoes.

    • Noyan
      October 10, 2010 at 6:41 pm

      Umm… I guess that’s a compliment?

      • maelstrom13
        October 10, 2010 at 6:49 pm

        prolly yeah 😀

  1. October 8, 2010 at 12:08 am
  2. October 26, 2010 at 9:05 am
  3. June 30, 2011 at 1:02 am

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