5.30.03 The Best of the Rest (Part 1 - The Scourge Pack)
As I indicated earlier, it seems fairly clear that the core of the Tier 1 decks is fairly well established. That doesn’t mean that those four decks are all you need to know about or the complete list of decks you will want to play. Scourge really gave a boost to a couple decks, lets take a look:
I have gotten more e-mails about this deck than any other, most are only one line; “What is Turbo-Mate?” Deep down, the deck is just a Reanimate deck. What is the Turbo? Well, first off Turbo is a key word to add to any deck build. It makes the deck sound cooler. It is much more intimidating than a name without the word Turbo. In addition, it is a way to overcompensate for things - kind of like a sports car. Or, you could say that the Turbo comes from Demonic Consultations and Tolarian Winds. Anyway - here is the deck:
4 Twisted Abomination
4 Titanic Bulvox
4 Careful Study
4 Mental Note
4 Tolarian Winds
4 Dragon Wings
4 Aether Burst
4 Dispersal Shield
2 Dance of the Dead (Uncommon)
3 Demonic Consultation (Uncommon)
Let me start with the caveat that this is a deck still in the works and that the final build hasn’t been formulated. Anyway, the point of this deck is to drop a big fat creature real early in the game and then ride that creature in for the win.
The Twisted Abomination could certainly be something a lot bigger, think Crash of Rhinos, but the card offers two advantages - it can put itself in the Graveyard, and it can Regenerate. Regeneration is really very important because most games are won with no more than 2 Creatures in play so keeping stuff on the field is important. The Titanic Bulvox is also a little smaller than the CoR but the creature has Morph. Okay, you will never be able to un-morph it but a 2/2 can be critical to suck up an Edict or you can chump block to get it in your graveyard.
The Turbo Component is the mass of cheap search cards. A turn 1 Careful Study can result in a second turn 7/4 Flying, Trample creature. Mental Note is not quite as good and relies a bit more on luck. If you are going to switch out a search card for something else, this is the card that should go. Tolarian Winds is the MVP - allowing you to clear creatures and Dragon Wings from your hand while moving deep through your Library early in the game. Demonic Consultation is also critical since the deck only has 8 Creatures to animate and 6 reanimation effects, you will almost always have one part but not necessarily the other. It can also be critical to fetch a counter or some bounce. The deck plays aggressively and the search component should be played the same way.
Dragon Wings rounds out the deck by granting evasion to your beasts. With Aether Burst and Dispersal Shield you have a touch of disruption critical in generating the extra turn or two this deck needs. Still this isn’t a lot so it must be used judiciously.
The Great White Pope (GWP)
Cleric decks are stupid. When clerics beat you they are stupid clerics. These clerics are stupid good. Ummm, something like that. Anyway, this deck has been made possible by one single card in Scourge, but oh what an impact:
4 Benevolent Bodyguard
4 Soul Warden
2 Mother of Runes (Uncommon)
4 Obsidian Acolyte
4 Crimson Acolyte
4 Field Surgeon
3 Temple Acolyte
4 Daru Spiritualist
3 Soltari Visionary
3 Doubtless One (Uncommon)
3 Prismatic Strands
4 Mishra’s Factory
The deck has a nice low curve and plays out with steady and consistent drops. By dropping a Spiritualist alongside either an Acolyte, Crimson or Obsidian, or the Surgeon your creatures become neigh invulnerable (which is why I almost named this deck The Tick). The trick is particularly amazing and foils a large number of decks. This doesn’t even mention that fact that 4 of each color hosing Acolyte puts both Red and, to a lesser extent, Black in a world of hurt.
In addition to the hard to kill critters, with Congregate, Temple Acolyte, and Doubtless One the deck packs an intimidating amount of life gain. Prismatic Strands adds insult to injury. These cards are critical because, at least main deck, this deck doesn’t have as much damage prevention as you would expect from a Cleric deck. The life gain is what makes the deck playable against Burn and MBC.
Really the deck is so simple that there is little to say about it, it lacks some offensive punch but has the potential to stall out well and a mid/late game Doubtless One can dish out damage quick. The only thing that needs to really worry you is Anarchy although other mass removal, like Stench of Decay, is also troublesome without the Spiritualist combos on the board.
Also, if anyone has a decent name for this deck please let me know - maybe something simple like Cleric deck.
Worthy Face, AKA About Face, has been around for a while. At the first Master of PEZ tournament I played an admittedly weak version of the deck. The deck gets its name from the two combo cards: Worthy Cause and About Face. Some versions include Black instead of Red for access to more efficient removal or discard. These decks pack Transmutation instead of About Face.
4 Nomads en-Kor
4 Tireless Tribe
4 Daru Spiritualist
2 Warrior en-Kor (Uncommon)
4 Task Force
3 Spirit en-Kor
4 Lava Dart
4 Lightning Bolt
4 About Face
3 Worthy Cause (Uncommon)
1 Aura Fracture
This deck can play a bit like the Cleric deck above, with an en-Kor and a Spiritualist/Task Force out you can pretty much ignore all damage being thrown around the playing field. Ideally, however, the game will never get that far. This deck can force a Turn 2 win through Tireless Tribe and About Face. Failing that you can swing for infinite, excuse me - unbounded, damage with About Face and a pumped Spiritualist/Task Force - as early as turn 3. Of course, you won’t always be able to slip through because of blockers so you can take the same cards, play Worthy Cause instead, and gain unbounded life - as early as Turn 2.
That is all pretty impressive, basically 3 different scenarios for a Turn 3 or less win, and this deck can be explosive. It can also be erratic. While the deck looks tight with a lot different paths to victory sometimes it will stall out. If they can get enough blockers or remove your creatures as they hit the table the game can go a long time and you can be forced to wait for a Worthy Cause to win.
In fact, the most likely way to win with this deck is Worthy Cause. When you have infinite life the only way for 99% of the field to win is to deck you. For this reason some players will want to make the deck 61 cards so they can ensure a concession from the opponent.
This deck is very solid, and with luck, it can sweep any table it hits. When your luck runs out, however, the tables can turn. Players will either love or hate this deck but the addition of Spiritualist finally makes it playable in tournaments.
Black Aggro/Control builds look to be one of the most promising PEZ decks for this summer but the builds have yet to condense into a standard deck. Some contain a few big creatures, like the Skirge, and a number of control cards. Others, contain a large number of the utility creatures. This deck clearly falls into the second category.
4 Carrion Feeder
4 Festering Goblin
4 Ravenous Rats
3 Mesmeric Fiend
3 Death’s-Head Buzzard
2 Bottle Gnomes
2 Faceless Butcher
2 Tortured Existence
1 Haunting Misery
3 Demonic Tutor
4 Dark Ritual
4 Mishra’s Factory
The Carrion Feeder is clearly a critical card allowing you to set off the Buzzard or Festering Goblin whenever necessary. It also allows you to make a gain from a stalled Carnophage. My favorite use is in combination with Mesmeric Fiend and Faceless Butcher. Activating the Feeder in response to the ‘comes into play’ effect makes the effect permanent. With enough mana and the recursion you can even generate these effects multiple times a turn!
With the Tutors and the Tortured Existence/Recover you can make sure that the creature you need keeps coming back for more. I was very much tempted to use Unearth instead of Recover since the creature comes straight into play and the card is much cheaper (and can be cycled for a draw anyway). Testing has not yet revealed if the Recover is a better choice but I believe it will be a critical slot in the final versions of the deck.
Haunting Misery could easily be another card but I really like the ability to Tutor for a kill instead of dragging the game through an extra couple of turns.
Well, there are four more decks to think about for Origins and Gen Con. Each one was brought to the fore by a card from Scourge and it looks like the set my well have a huge impact on PEZ. Also, don’t forget that Scourge will have an impact on the current Tier 1 and Tier 2 scene, most notably with the landcycling creatures, the Warchiefs, and Brain Freeze for Pros-Tides.
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