Home > Decklists, Spreading Cheese > Spreading Cheese – Ted, Sam and… Nag?

Spreading Cheese – Ted, Sam and… Nag?

Hi guys. Last week I said I would talk about poison. And do that I will. Those who aren’t interested in poison, don’t just click away immediately! I have something for you, it’s a method for improving a deck. It might be obvious to some, but many people I’ve talked to seem to find this insightful, so I’d like to share it. I’ll use a poison deck as the example, but you can apply the same ideas to your own deck too.

Before that, let’s take a look at what’s been going on in the Magic tournament world recently. The SCG Open and Invitational at Richmond has provided us with a slew of new decklists to beat and get beaten by. Aside from regular players such as RUG/BUG “Control”, an old deck has resurfaced: Valakut Ramp has placed first in both tournaments. The lists don’t seem to have changed too much from the old lists. BR Vampires has also made an appearance, and so has Boros. There’s also a Mono Black Control list, and there’s are UW/UB lists in the Top8 of the Open. To be honest, this seems to be a balanced distribution of decks, at least compared to what we used to have (7 Frost Titan decks in top 8). It seems that right now, there is a deck for any kind of player, so I recommend that you should go and pick up one of those decks. Especially, if you have budget concerns, Vampires seems like an awesome option. I want to note that I really like the inclusion of Dark Tutelage, since that card’s been a favorite of mine for a while now. If your budget is limited, but not too limited, you can go with Boros. If the sky is the limit, you can pick any one of the Jace/Primeval Titan decks.

Having said that, I also want to point out the new Commander announcement. Personally, I am very excited about this announcement. It will finally put EDH on the map for more people, and the fact that they are printing new generals and not making the format sanctioned means that they care about and understand the format. Take a look at this:

The card is a perfect EDH card! Fine, I’ll call it Commander from now on. By the way, let me explain why not making the format sanctioned is a good idea. Commander is a format played purely for the fun of it, if they would sanction the format, people wouldn’t play casually anymore and there would be an overflow of degenerate Spikey decks, which everyone would netdeck and there goes our format. I’m glad about this entire situation. I’d like to talk about making a Commander deck sometime. Perhaps after the release of the new product? We’ll see.

Alright, now let’s get back to poison. Here’s the deal about poison decks. The most common kind of poison deck I’ve seen is the “pump the poison creatures” deck. It can be UG, UB, GB, UGB or something like that. Even I’ve talked about two decks like that in my previous articles. The problem with this kind of deck is that the creatures are bad without the pumps, and the pumps are bad without the creatures. Yes, you can get a surprisingly quick kill with the right hand, but that’s no good when there’s so much removal and countermagic so easily available to every deck in the format. The other approach I’ve seen is midrange Rock-style with Hand of the Praetors, Mimic Vat and Livewire Lash. Now this is a better approach, because it is more consistent, but it’s also a slow approach with synergistic cards. I love that kind of game, but Wizards doesn’t seem to lately, they’re all about being explosive. Mana ramp, bam! Huge creature, swing and do flashy stuff. No room for tricks. I believe the game will change with Mirrodin Besieged, and poison will be much more viable then. But we have to work with what we’re given.

Given our constraints, there are two ways to take this. The first one is a fast-ish deck, while the other is a more controllish deck. Let’s think about the fast deck for a moment. Note that the mentality I’m going to use here is applicable for any kind of deck, so you should read on even if you’re not interested in poison. I’ll call this the “dialog” method. You just talk to yourself with three personalities: The Enthusiastic Dude (TED), Skeptical Annoying Man (SAM) and Neutral Analysis Guy (NAG). Let’s go:

Ted: I want to make a Poison deck!
Nag: I’m listening.
Sam: Poison sucks! All poison creatures are awful!
Nag: He has a point.
Ted: That might be true, but you have to deal half the damage to win the game.
Sam: But your creatures die so easily to removal!
Ted: Then we must somehow deal with the removal…
Nag: You should either disrupt their hand or counter their removal.
Sam: Then you come across blockers who can easily kill your creatures…
Nag: And we already established that we won’t use cards like Distortion Strike because they’re bad topdecks.
Ted: Hmm… Good point. We should either run removal then.
Sam: You realize that you’re running out of space in the deck, right?
Ted: That’s true…
Sam: And also most of your opponents run counterspells too, and you’ll just lose tempo by getting your creatures countered and/or removed, and they’ll just get control of the game by that point. You’re not RDW, you know.
Nag: It seems like you’re losing this argument, Ted.
Ted: But Vampires can do it! They’re entirely creature based, and their creatures are small too!
Nag: Their creatures are more cost effective than yours, they’re more synergistic and they have more reach in general.
Ted: So what are you saying?
Sam: You should abandon this awful deck idea.
Nag: Don’t be so rude Sam. But he has a point, Ted. Sometimes an idea just doesn’t work with the current cards, and you just have to abandon it. Even if your creatures were more effective, if you tried to incorporate counterspells, removal and other resiliency factors, you basically run out of room in your deck.
Ted: I guess you’re right.

That’s the idea for the dialog method. You come up with ideas, shoot them down as hard as you can, and keep ones that are good while abandoning ones that are bad. You also need the objective nagging voice in there, because sometimes you just can’t give up a deck because you really want it to work. Unfortunately some decks just don’t work, so you’ll have to come up with a better approach or wait for new cards to come out. I also mentioned a more controlling deck that involved poison, let’s take a look at that. I’ll use the same approach to solidify it for you guys. (By the way, Nag listens to progressive metal, for example this: Painted In Exile – Revitalized, just in case you wanted some metal to listen to yourself.)

Ted: So guys, I just came up with another idea to do poison!
Sam: Here we go again…
Nag: Be polite Sam, let’s hear him out.
Ted: What if I made a control deck that won with poison?
Sam: So you’re basically replacing the win condition of a regular control deck with poison?
Ted: Pretty much.
Sam: Why would you do that?
Ted: Because I like poison.
Nag: But do you have a real reason to do it? Like what advantage does poison provide you?
Ted: Well, as I said before, you need only half the amount of damage to get there. You can also use proliferate.
Sam: Well your creatures are much, much worse than creatures of regular control decks though…
Nag: Skithiryx isn’t that bad.
Sam: Well, ok, just one creature. But for one more mana you could be casting a Titan!
Ted: Titans don’t have evasion and regeneration though.
Sam: Alright, let’s say you did play Skithiryx. What else? Even if you play 4, which you don’t want to since he’s legendary, that’s nearly not enough to get there. One Memoricide or even Mana Leak would ruin your day.
Ted: Hmm… I’ll add more poison creatures then!
Nag: We’ve already discussed this. Poison creatures aren’t good enough, and they don’t have enough card advantage to compete with better cards.
Sam: Also, they die easily and don’t really do anything immediately.
Nag: Well, there’s Ichor Rats
Sam: That card’s awful.
Ted: But it at least it gives its counter when it enters the battlefield, even if it dies right after, you can proliferate for the win!
Sam: You opponent can proliferate you to death too.
Nag: Come on Sam, play nice. Realistically speaking there’s a very low chance of that happening.
Ted: So what proliferation suite should I play? Contagion Clasp and Throne of Geth?
Sam: Throne of Geth sucks. It’s useless if your opponent doesn’t already have a poison counter.
Ted: Well you can proliferate your own artifacts with counters if you have any, for example Lux Cannon, and you can also proliferate -1/-1 counters on enemy creatures, caused by Clasp.
Sam: Sux Cannon.
Nag: Even though he’s trolling, Sam has a point. Throne of Geth is too situational. Also, you have too little initial sources of poison. It’s a bit risky.
Ted: I can take the risk. The rest of the deck will be counterspells and disruption, so I can deal with opposing counterspells and removal.
Sam: You have no turn 1 plays.
Ted: Inquisition of Kozilek seems to be a good idea since I can take removal, counters, or even opposing creatures!
Sam: Fine. Let’s see what kind of Removal you got.
Nag: I assume it’s a pretty standard package.
Ted: Yep. Doom Blade, Consuming Vapors, you can even play Contagion Engine along with the clasps!
Sam: I feel like a control deck would destroy you.
Nag: Let’s see what else he has before snap jdugments.
Ted: Mana Leaks, Stoic Rebuttal, Jace2.
Sam: So you’re basically UB Control but worse?
Nag: He does have a point.
Sam: Also, Creepy Carpet wins many games for UB Control because it’s that awesome, for you it’s basically anti-synergy!
Ted: I can still play it, it fixes and you might even be able to get in with the damage!
Nag: Unlikely. But it can be a good addition to the mana base along with the Scars dual and The M10 dual. You should also run Tectonic Edge for obvious reasons.
Sam: It will still suck. If you have a Jace2, why would you play this awful deck instead of something real?
Ted: What was I supposed to do? I just wanted to make a poison deck. I don’t want to play the same deck everyone is playing.
Nag: Fair enough. This deck won’t be really good though. Seems like it will be hard to make a proper poison deck, at least not until Mirrodin Besieged hits.
Sam: Not even after that. Poison sucks.
Nag: You don’t know that. Ted, show us a rough list.

4x Ichor Rats
4x Doom Blade
4x Inquisition of Kozilek
4x Mana Leak
3x Jace2
3x Stoic Rebuttal
3x Contagion Clasp
3x Contagion Engine
2x Skithiryx
2x Consuming Vapors
4x Drowned Catacombs
3x Creeping Tar Pit
3x Darkslick Shores
3x Tectonic Edge
6x Island
6x Swamp

Sam: That’s 57 cards.
Ted: I’m not sure what the last 3 cards should be.
Sam: They should be Don’t Play This Deck.
Nag: I don’t think that’s Standard legal.
Ted: You’re mean, Sam. I’m not trying to qualify for a PTQ.
Nag: What is your goal? That’s important to keep in mind. I don’t think you can top8 a SCG Open with this.
Ted: I guess you’re right. Well, I want to do well in my FNM, that’s the short term goal.
Nag: Then I believe this is fine.
Sam: Who has 3 Jace2’s and plays casually at FNMs?
Noyan: I do!
Nag: You’re weird, and you’re not even a part of the discussion. Go away.
Ted: You can always replace them with The other Jace, that way you can preempt your opponent’s Jace!
Sam: You can’t prevent your own sucking.
Nag: Ahem. What happened to those last 3 cards?
Ted: I guess I can run Jace’s Ingenuity. The card advantage might be useful.
Sam: I still think this deck sucks.
Nag: Well then, play something else!
Ted: I think I like this.
Nag: Good for you. I’m tired, Let’s end this.

That’s how it goes. This is a very useful process, as long as you play each character’s role well. Don’t make compromises and don’t lie to yourself. And be realistic.

I don’t know what I’ll do next week. Maybe I’ll have a surprise. Maybe I won’t talk about tempo. Either way, have a nice week, and hopefully you can build better decks than I do.

Follow me on twitter @nayon7.
Questions & Comments? Email me at: spreading.cheese@gmail.com


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