Home > Decklists, Spreading Cheese > Spreading Cheese – Johnny, Vorthos and… Johnny?

Spreading Cheese – Johnny, Vorthos and… Johnny?

Preface: I know, I know. I promised something awesome last time, and I still haven’t delivered. Believe me, this isn’t one of those things where I say I’ll talk about tempo and never do it, I really am experiencing technical difficulties. Give me another week or so. This stuff is harder than I thought.

Hi all, and welcome to another chapter of Spreading Cheese. This week I’ll talk a little bit about my deck, and also about fantasies. No, this won’t be a kinky M-rated article. Trust me. And I’ll also give you my thoughts on the recent happenings in the MTG world.

First of all, let me talk about Paris. In case you were living in a red cycling land, Magic Weekend Paris happened. A few interesting decks were put out by the attendees, and I’d like to discuss some of them and their potential.

Tezzeret, Agent of ChapinTo start with, let’s take my favorite player’s own brew, which can be found here. And of course, the player I’m talking about is none other than Patrick Chapin himself. His sixth-place UBr Tezzeret deck (which conveniently evokes the nickname “Uber Tezz”) is quite an interesting creation. At first, it looks like a control deck, but as my friends Lloyd and Marc Frias (you might know Lloyd as Maryland State Champion of 2009) pointed out while I was playing against Joey (of YMTGT, obviously) running the Chapin list, the deck is more of a combo deck. Paraphrasing some of what they said, and adding some of my own thoughts: The deck is a bit dependent on having an explosive opening hand. Drawing Tezzeret is almost essential to winning (thus having 4 copies). Also, relying on having many artifacts in play makes the deck slightly vulnerable. It is a bit easily disrupted by getting rid of Tezzeret (Memoricide really hurts the deck), and Ratchet Bomb at 2 or 0 is also very scary. Other than that, I believe it is a very solid deck. Maybe not Tier 1 yet, but at least tier 1.5 definitely. [Editor’s note: Chapin’s thoughts on the future of this deck can be heard on this Friday’s episode of Yo! MTG Taps!]

Of course, the most significant deck to come out of the tournament was an updated version of Brian Kibler’s Caw-Go deck from Worlds, Caw-Blade. That deck is a monster, it has ridiculous amounts of card advantage. I haven’t thought of a way to work against it yet, because I haven’t even encountered it, but it definitely looks scary. Similar to that (ok, not similar at all but it runs the Caws and the Blades) is Boros, which is also a scarily effective deck. I honestly don’t have an opinion about these decks yet, so I’ll refrain from saying much more, but those two decks right seem to be the best decks in Standard right now, and to be honest they’re much “better” decks than the Titan decks of pre-MBS Standard. Not necessarily stronger, but better for the format because they are more reasonable, fair (depends on your definition of fair, of course) and much more interactive. I believe the Titans were really lazy design (“Just make a 6/6 for 6 and add not only one, but two relevant and really good abilities”), and seeing them being replaced in favor of cards that require more thinking makes me happy.

Perhaps the only exception to my opinion of Titans is Sun Titan, because it doesn’t do too much on its own. It doesn’t lock down the board, it doesn’t make endless bears, it doesn’t kill everything your opponent has and it doesn’t deal 6 damage to your face/put an Eldrazi Titan onto the field. You actually have to think of how you have to build your deck, and you don’t immediately win when you play Sun Titan. Yes, that is why it was quite underplayed recently, and that is why I like it. Thankfully Naoki Nakada decided that the card was worthy and he showed that his playing skills are also worthy by placing 4th with a Sun Titan deck. His deck is like Caw-Blade but with even more advantage thanks to the Titan. Since the Hawks, the Mystics and the Swords all cost less than or equal to three, I’d watch out for Sun Titan. The only thing that confuses me is the exclusion of little Jace, especially since the 3-spot on the curve is pretty empty, but with so much card advantage already in the deck, maybe little Jace isn’t necessary.

Another exciting deck, while not in the top 8, was Martin Juza’s Kuldotha Forgemaster deck. You can find the list here. You know I’m a Johnny at heart, so this one excites me. The more Spike-oriented readers (are there any Spikes who actually read me?) might think that this is just a bad version of Chapin’s list, but I would disagree. Yes, they are quite similar, and this list lacks a maindeck sweeper to protect itself from fast aggro, but this list seems overall more consistent. The only problem is keeping the Forgemaster alive for one turn. If you can do that, you are likely to win, either via Myr Battlesphere or Blightsteel Colossus, which are hard to remove due to lack of throats and having large toughness.

Finally, I’m sure there are several Blightsteel Colossus+Shape Anew/Mass Polymorph decks, but one that really grabbed my attention with its clever design was Shaheen Soorani’s Caw-Mass Polymorph (name by me) deck. List here. It looks and plays like a Caw-Go deck, until it drops Mass Polymorph into Emrakul and Iona. The elegance here is that you actually have creatures that aren’t Mass Polymorph targets in the deck (the Hawks), and since the Hawks can remove other Hawks from the deck, you are still safe to cast Mass Polymorph. You also have Elspeth, and if things get worse, Gideon (and even Colonnade if you have tons of mana) as targets.

Now, all these new decks don’t mean old powerhouses like RUG and Valakut are gone forever, they’re under people’s radars right now, but don’t let that fool you. Valakut only got better with MBS and RUG is still pretty strong. RUG is harmed by many decks playing cheap sweepers against aggro decks since RUG’s mana sources and one of the primary win conditions are small creatures, but if you’re caught unaware, an early game explosion from RUG can still get you. Point is, don’t forget about the Titan decks.

Alright, let’s get to fantasies. What I’m talking about is the “flavor of Magic” (nice abrupt transition from Spike to Vorthos I did there, eh?). Anybody remember that? “You are a Planeswalker.” Do you guys ever imagine that whole thing when you’re playing? You probably aren’t doing it when you play competitively (and you really shouldn’t, your mind should be on the game), but sometimes it’s fun to do in casual games. Now, imagine you’re a Planeswalker. Not a card with loyalty counters and stuff, but and all-powerful magician. What deck are you playing? This works best with one or two-color decks, since the flavor starts to break apart when you use three colors because you really have to justify it well, but that can also work. The best way to think of your colors is, for two colors, Ravnica block and for three colors, Alara block (as much as I hate the block, it did some things right). If you’re playing wedge colors (RUG/BGU/BWR/URW/GBW), it’s harder to think of, but it’ll still work out. Here are some typical archetypes and the kind of planeswalker I associate with them in my mind (it’s important to think of motivations):

Mono W aggro: A valiant paladin who bravely fights to protect his people from evil
Mono W control: A zealous priest who hates all that is evil
Mono U aggro: A merfolk lord with a command of the elements
Mono U control: A brainiac wizard with a desire to control and understand everything
Mono B aggro: A bloodthirsty monster with a hunger for flesh
Mono B control: An insane ex-wizard who likes causing pain
Mono R aggro: An angry “insert race here” who just likes to fight
Mono R control: A crazy/angry/both shaman who likes to blow stuff up
Mono G aggro: An aggressive druid who wants to protect nature
Mono G control: A holistic and slightly deranged druid who wants to spread nature

Fair enough? It gets more complicated after this, so I’ll leave most of it to your imagination.

The dual color builds are covered pretty well by Ravnica, so just read up on the flavor of Ravnica. Similarly for Alara colors.

RUG: A witty shaman who doesn’t like to play by the rules, he/she wants to master all elements, wants too many things. Can’t control the forces he/she tries to master, but has more wild power because of that.
BGU: A wizard who is very interested in the cycle of life and death, combining nature and death by forcing them together with magic. Will never have the understanding of a BG necromancer, because he approaches the problem differently, but because of that he will probably be more powerful (not because of mastery of life and death but because of knowledge of traditional magic)
BWR: A former white mage who lost his faith in the system, and had to resort to using extreme methods to fight evil. He/she has succumbed to corruption but still tries to hold on to his/her ideals he used to have. Very powerful, but also very emotionally conflicted.
URW: This is the one that makes the least amount of sense for me. A UR mage would be a crazy knowledge junkie, a WR warrior priest would be a fiery zealous warrior, and a UW mage would be the epitome of calm and collected control freak. Maybe we can call this the pent-up former UW mage who just couldn’t take it anymore and destroyed his/her entire academy in a fit of rage? Totally unstable and bipolar, very powerful magically but has no control over his powers.
GBW: This one’s easy. A necromancer/priest/druid who gives himself to the cycle of life and death. For him/her alive or dead is not a distinction, it’s just the current mood of the day. Creates organisms, then recycles their parts to make something diffferent. Master of healing and murder. Not as explosively strong as some of the other wedge guys, but more consistently strong. Has a very long term plan that doesn’t make sense to mere mortals. Of course, completely insane.

There is almost no way you can justify 4 colors, and 5 colors is just any flavor of “jack of all trades, master of none.”

Now, what good is all this stuff? Well, when I’m playing a deck, I sometimes like to imagine that I’m roleplaying this planeswalker, and my enemy is this other walker, and we are facing each other in this epic standoff. Imagine you’re playing Boros against UB control. Here’s some progressive metal to set the mood: Iron Thrones – Like a Moth to Flame. Your opponent is the evil planeswalker who’s been slowly executing his plan (which is still not completely known by you, but you know he doesn’t have any good intentions). You’ve finally tracked him down, and the moment you approach his lair, you get a crippling headache. You seem to have forgotten how to summon your trusted Goblin Guide. Instead you draw some white mana from a nearby field, summoning a Lynx. It looks docile right now, but you know that the moment it gets a hold of the scent of this new terrain, it will be ready to strike. Then you see the mage. He is disguised in a dark hood, his eyes glowing blue with power. With a swipe of his hand, he unleashes a torrent of blue mana, and you suddenly feel cut off from the field you just drew mana from. You realize that he flooded the field with his own blue mana to keep you off of using it.

As a retort, you decide to draw mana from another nearby plain, and as you feel the flow of mana into your mind, you also see your Lynx get stronger. You order the lynx to attack with its newfound strength, and while your Lynx leaps onto the enemy you summon a sage you once met in your travels to the wild plane of Zendikar. She steps out of the mana gate you opened, and by your command, forges a majestic sword out of a nearby stone for you.

The blue mage seems intimidated by the creatures you have produced, but you quickly realize that his fear was a facade and he is actually planning something. He produces a chalice from within his cloak, and draws some mana into it, and then goes into wait for your next move. You decide to act cautious. As you draw mana from a nearby mountain, your lynx grows even stronger, but when you tell it to attack the enemy, the mage suddenly takes a sip from the chalice, and using that strength, lunges and rips out the throat of your lynx. You do not mourn its passing, because it died valiantly on the field of battle. With the vigor brought by the rage caused by your comrade’s death, you suddenly remember how to summon your Goblin Guide, and you do so, and along with it you summon your trusted squadron of hawks with a whistle. You hear the caw of the alpha hawk, and you know that its brothers will soon arrive. The guide attacks your opponent, and he is hurt, but you also sense that your opponent has benefited from the light your guide shone while charging your opponent.

Wiping off the blood from his tunic, your opponent draws some more mana, and summons an artificer. The artificer begins working on something, but you cannot understand what it is. Seeing as you are facing a difficult opponent, you decide to ask for help. You begin to gather your mana to call upon your longtime friend, Koth, but your opponent drains your mana quickly, and you cannot procude enough mana to feed the temporary leak he caused. Instead you decide to command your guide and hawk to attack your opponent. He commands his artificer to protect him from the guide, and they spar in a battle that leaves them both fatally wounded, while your hawk unleashes its fury on your opponent.

Your opponent doesn’t seem too fazed by your attacks, but you know that he is at least a little hurt. Seemingly inspired by your actions, he decides to summon another planewalker. You instantly recognize the help he has summoned: The fabled Jace, it is said that most who face him do not survive, or at least do not remain sane. Now you start to feel the fear. Recognizing your fear, Jace reaches out towards you, and you suddenly start feeling numb. You feel as if you are forgetting something important, but just can’t place your finger on it…

The story goes on like this. Imagining a battle like this makes games much more fun, and if you tell your opponent and they partake in it, the verbal trade-offs add even more to the fun. It’s not a huge deal, but if you’re looking to spice up your games of Magic, this is a way to do it.

As for what I’m playing myself, I’m testing out Dredgevine, as I said I’d play Dredge in every format possible. It’s a rough list right now, extremely good against control, but weak against fast aggro and heavy disruption. I’m still looking for ways to improve it. Here’s the list:

4x Vengevine
4x Fauna Shaman
4x Bloodghast
4x Hedron Crab
4x Birds of Paradise
3x Shriekhorn
3x Jace, The Mind Sculptor
3x Bonehoard
3x Memnite
2x Stoneforge Mystic
1x Trinket Mage
1x Sword of Body and Mind
4x Misty Rainforest
4x Verdant Catacombs
4x Evolving Wilds
2x Celestial Colonnade
1x Creeping Tar Pit
5x Forest
3x Island
1x Plains

The interactions in this are pretty insane, from brainstorming with Jace then milling yourself to drop 2 Vengevines, followed by discarding another to Fauna Shaman, getting a Trinket Mage and casting it to get a Memnite and cast it, bringing back the Vengevines. But the real player in the deck is Bonehoard. Mark my words, this card is poised to see an increase in value. A Bonehoard on a Bird is just devastating, since you mill yourself there will be creatures in your yard, and probably one or two in your opponent’s yard too.

As I said, this is a test build, and I’m thinking of ways to make it more resilient. It’s not a great deck, but it is pretty fun to use against control players. I wouldn’t recommend trying this in a highly competitive environment just yet, but we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, I’m trying to exploit huge Johnny cards like Knowledge Pool. It’s not easy, but when did that ever stop me?

If you were to ask me what I would play at a coming SCG Open, I probably would play a Tezzeret deck. Or a deck involving artifacts, even if it might not involve Tezzeret. Speaking of which, I’ll probably be at the SCG DC Open this weekend, so see you there! Next week, I’ll try to get that technical problem fixed, and if not, I’ll still come up with something amusing.

P.S. For questions, comments, feedback, send an e-mail to me at Spreading.Cheese [at] gmail [dot] com or follow me on twitter @nayon7
P.P.S If you would like me to write more planeswalker battle stories like this one, please let me know! I’d love to do something like this once in a while.


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