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Born in the great gaming state of Wisconsin, Jason was fated to be a gamer. Too young to drink Beer (well, not anymore) and lactose intolerant so he couldn’t eat the cheese, Jason turned to AD&D (1st edition). After that, many systems were dabbled in until he found his home in piles of cardboard. Since then he played at least 6 CCG’s and may be learning to play Harry Potter if he finds some free time and a few bucks (donations welcome).
Japanese Peasants: Part2
So, I have been a super slacker recently. Even as I sit down, finally to write this article, my name is being called by half-a-dozen other games and files on my computer. Part of me wants to brush up on my Poker skills and another part wants to get in a bit of quality time with a good old Troll Healer in ADOM (available for free at http://www.adom.de). My newest obsession is with the classic choose your own adventure series “Lone Wolf” online at http://www.projectaon.org. Add to this the fact that work and life is always crazy (I have a meeting tonight at 5:00) and I just always seem to have an excuse. I’m seriously thinking of writing to Abe Sargent and asking what his trick is – he averages an article/day.
Anyway, for now I’m just forcing myself to sit down and finish the article. It has actually been much more difficult than I expected. The problem is that the Kami-block, so far, has given us a number of highly playable cards but very few that really seem to make or break any decks. Each time I have sat down to put together my list of chosen cards it is either very short, because I am only including cards that I believe are standouts in PEZ, or very long, because I’m including all the solid/decent cards. I believe that most players can recognize the solid cards and if some of the cards I like get skipped over in deck building it isn’t likely that they will have much of an effect. Thus, I will try to keep the card selections short.
Before I get into the singletons I realized that I may want to spend a little time looking at the flip cards – I think some may be interesting to fool around with. Also, don’t forget that I promised at least 2 kami-based theme decks and I have to post a final build of Reanimator that is based on Swawagon’s design as posted on the PEZ Yahoo group. So keep reading there will be goodies for all!!!
The Flip cards are interesting since they are all under-costed cards that have prerequisites in order to get full mileage out of them. In PEZ, they are especially interesting because they all eat up Uncommon slots which makes including them a much more interesting, and painful choice. I believe that, at the very least these cards open some fun avenues for PEZ decks to explore and also offer some effects that go far beyond the power most PEZ builds are used to. Keep in mind that even the overpowered effects are somewhat limited because the creature may take a few turns to flip and is exposed to burn and removal the whole time.
In general, the cards break down into two categories: those that need a Spirit/Arcane base and those that don’t. I feel that the cards that don’t rely on a Spirit/Arcane base are more versatile and thus more attractive for consideration. On the other hand, many decks can take at least limited advantage of the Spirit/Arcane theme so I don’t feel that any of the selections can be ruled out.
Clearly, the most powerful of the Flip cards is Cunning Bandit. The 2 on the backside makes him a little weak but the ability to steal an opponent’s creatures, basically for free, is simply huge. It removes blockers which will help the 5/2 Bandit breakthrough and provides for a huge number of tricks. It is an ability that, in my mind, is way beyond the standard power curve for PEZ. I kind of like this card in Sligh builds but these decks will likely run few Spirit/Arcane spells other than Frostling and Glacial Ray. It may be tempting to run additional Arcane spells to support the Bandit but these are sub-par when compared to the already existing card base and the likelihood of drawing into a Bandit, since you likely only run 1-2 copies, makes it even less attractive.
Nezumi Graverobber is also high on the list for overpowered PEZ effects since a permanent reanimate effect is so strong. Once again his soft backside is a huge weakness as is the high cost to activate his super useful ability. I have found that, versus most decks in the format, the Graverobber’s trigger is one of the easiest to set off – but it is difficult to generate as much advantage from his recycling ability as I had hoped.
Oddly enough, my favorite PEZ ready Flip card is Bushi Tenderfoot. This bad little boy is much more straightforward than any of the other Flip cards and he becomes, arguably, the strongest PEZ legal creature available. Once again, because he isn’t reliant on Spirit/Arcane spells you can easily build a deck that has synergistic support for when you do drop Bushi.
Finally, and to a lesser degree, I like both the Blue Flippers. Blue has enough solid Arcane effects that you have a good shot at getting a solid number of counters on Callow Jushi at which point he really helps maintain control of the game. As for the Student of Elements I think it is much more likely to see him splashed in multicolor decks as a way to grant evasion to Red, Black, or Green. The Student’s Flip condition is insanely easy to meet for most of these kinds of builds.
Ah, I finally get to my single card selections where I have a few cards that, I believe, are true standouts.
Far and away, my number one pick has got to be Commune With Nature. Granting cheap efficient search to Green decks in the common slot may be out of character for this color but it is so good. Even better is the fact that Commune With Nature automatically fits into all the popular Green Builds. In Stompy this card fetches either the mana accelerator that you need or the beatdown creature you want – it helps to make a stable deck much smoother and more capable or reliable ramping up to the big beats. In Elf Clamp this card also shines by assisting in getting the most efficient draws possible. I absolutely love this card and I believe it will be included in PEZ builds from now until forever.
A similar pick fills my number 2 slot. Peer Through Depths is a beautiful thing. In every deck except for Blue Skies, this card provides 4 extra super-Impulse and is a great addition to both Control and Pros-Tides. It looks like it will be equally good in Blue/Red builds that focus on maintaining board control. Oh heck, I will throw together a build to focus on Splice spells – we are now up to 4 decks in this one article.
Rend Flesh is probably going to be one of the most useful utility additions to Black in a long time. For years, Black has struggled to maintain board control in the mirror and versus Artifact builds and Rend Flesh solves both these problems. I expect to see it played a lot as a way to reduce this key chink in Blacks armor.
Since I started in on my Black selections I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to add four more. I like both Wicked Akuba and Midnight Covenant since they can have such a huge effect on the clock in so many games. Obviously, the MC shines when combined with the Shadow creatures whereas Wicked Akuba probably needs to be supported with a strong removal component in order to get through. My third pick in Black is Stir the Grave, one of the few PEZ legal spells that can drop a creature straight into play. Even though it may be too expensive to use on Big creatures, Black shines when it comes to efficient undercosted minions so I expect to see players putting this card to good use. Finally, I have to take Distress as one of my top picks. Most players favor Hymn to Tourach, which is a powerhouse, but I am well on my way to being convinced that many matchups would prefer something a little less random. I haven’t made up my mind, but for the slightly more control oriented Black builds I believe that I prefer Distress over HtT.
How about that – five of my nine picks are all Black. It always seems that Black gets the best cards, doesn’t it?
Finally, it is time for Red to sneak onto the list. Yamabushi’s Storm is very much PEZ worthy since any mass removal deserves a second look. On the down side, this card isn’t an instant which limits its utility. Last but not least is a card that I doubt will see much play but, which I personally love: Crack the Earth. While Crack the Earth does result in card disadvantage I believe that fast Red builds more than gain from the possible tempo advantage. Tempo alone is enough to get this card on my list, albeit in the last spot and just on the edge.
Keep in mind that these 9 cards are, in my mind, the best of the best. I believe that we will see a lot more Kami-block cards floating around since the set really did provide a large number of playable cards, especially in the creature department.
Promised Deck #1: Ninja Skies
The build is very much like Blue Skies with fast efficient flyers just a hint of cheap disruption. The addition of the Ninja allow for the addition of a bounce component and additional card drawing. As I said in my last article, the key to gaining Ninja Abuse™ is to be able to make the Ninjas as good as the creature they are replacing. To this end, Phyrexian Splicer fits my needs perfectly. In the best case scenario I can remove Flying or Shadow from an opposing creature and grant it to my Ninja so that they can get through unopposed. In a worst case scenario I strip one of my own creatures in order to grant the Ninja continuing evasion. The deck also provides a great trick in the combo of Ninja + Thalakos Seer. The Seer can get through which allows you to trigger the Ninja and once the Seer pops back into your hand you automatically draw a card.
This is still a build that I’m not quite happy with since it is a little light on control elements. I had considered dropping Curiosity (or at least 1 copy) for Forbid but that doesn’t seem like quite enough support. Clearly the deck still needs some fiddling around with, and I doubt it will be better than Tier 2, but it is a lot of fun to play and really gains a surprising amount of card advantage from the Ninja. Remember that the key to playing Ninija are to find ways to make sure that their damage abilities remain continual useful. Another possible build would include much more control and bounce and perform like a creature based Forbidian deck.
Promised Deck #2: Soul Food
This deck only contains 8 non-land cards that aren’t Spirits/Arcane. This maximizes both the Soulshift ability and the Whisper’s Splice effect. Otherwise, this deck functions as a slightly slower Aggro/Control build but in long games it is much more stable since it has recursion and access to multiple castings of Horobi’s Whisper. One surprising card is Cruel Deceiver which, as the name implies, functions well when used to bluff. It is also great because you always have about a 37% to destroy any creature that gets in its way. The Carrion Feeder is included since it is one of the best all-time 1 drops for Black and it fits with the recursion theme of the build.
You may have noted that the recursion theme simply doesn’t jive with the Splice cost of Horobi’s Whisper. If this was your thought you are 100% right. In this instance, however, the ability to Splice the Whisper for free is simply so good that a lack of synergy just doesn’t matter much. The Emissary of Despair isn’t great in this deck but it is the most efficient of a short list of Spirit/Arcane Uncommons.
Promised Deck #3: Arcane Sparkler
While less combo-luscious than many straight Scepter builds, this deck is takes the card advantage that the Scepter grants to a whole new level. It is weak in the early game and can struggle to stabilize but if you last long enough the deck produces an insane number of spell effects each round. While I wouldn’t call it tournament worthy it may be worth building a version of this deck just for the fun of playing multiple effects every round without ever having your hand sized decreased. As a side note, you may want to hold off on Peer through Depths until you have drawn your first Scepter.
Revisited Deck: Reanimator
In my previous article on Reanimation decks we focused on builds that tried to jump start the combo through milling or drawing. On the Yahoo group, Swawagon posted a build that, in many ways, was much more stable. Instead of focusing the deck around a single mechanism, he chose to diversify the deck into 3 roughly equal components – big creatures, discard effects, and reanimation. The results are very solid.
On turn 1, sometimes it helps to mulligan, you are looking for a large creature and one of the 12 cards that can push it into the graveyard. With some card drawing and 9 chances to draw an Animate effect it will soon hit play, often on turn 2. The deck then uses Daze and Dispersal Shield to help protect your creature while additional Imps and Researchers provide Edict insulation and chump blockers. Try it for yourself – the game play is less interesting (or perhaps less idiosyncratic) than the builds presented in my article but it is probably much closer to the optimal build for any type of PEZ reanimation deck.
Well, I sat down and pounded this one out and I think it turned out pretty well. In my next article I am considering baring my soul and exposing a dark shadow hanging over the PEZ world. If I lack the guts I may just focus on something like Pros-Tides since I have seen too many posts and e-mail saying that it really isn’t that good. It is, and it gets my goat to be right but not believed. Anyway, until next time – [insert something philosophical and witty here].
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