Pojo's Magic The Gathering news, tips, strategies and more!


DeQuan Watson

    Many readers have gathered a lot of information about me through my writings.  For those of you that haven't though, this should tell you a little more. 

    I'm 25 years old and I own my own business. Well, more accurately I own a game store.  The Game Closet, my store, is one of the premiere places to play in the Texas.  I play Magic on a pretty regular basis.  I help people build decks and teach the game to people multiple times a week.  Owning a store is neat, because it gives me another perspective to write my articles from.  I can usually tell what the average player likes and can judge some of the tendencies of the average player a little better.  Of course, owning a store means I have knowledge of a lot of games and not just Magic.  I also find out my fair share of insider information on the industry.  But having other resources to pull from makes for more informative writings.

    However, I know a decent bit about pro level play as well.  I myself have
played on the Pro Tour.  I have multiple Top 8 finishes at Pro Tour Qualifiers.  I also have made Day Two at two Grand Prix tournaments.  I have also been invited to the Event horizons Invitational.  These are not stellar achievements, but high enough to let you know I have my head on straight when talking about the game. I also spend lots of time each week talking to, e-mailing, or chatting with top level players.  I get to see their perspective on a lot of things as well.  Between the two, I think I get a good sense of balance of the game.

    Most importantly, I still enjoy the game for the sake of the game itself.  I like the time, the competition, and the general interaction of players.  I plan to be playing it until it fades away...if it ever does.


Pojo's MTG
MTG Home
Message Board
News & Archives
Deck Garage
BMoor Dolf BeJoSe

Paul's Perspective
Jeff Zandi
DeQuan Watson
Jordon Kronick
Aburame Shino
Rare Hunter
Tim Stoltzfus
Judge Bill's Corner

Trading Card

Card of the Day
Guide for Newbies
Decks to Beat
Featured Articles
Peasant Magic
Fan Tips
Tourney Reports

Color Chart
Book Reviews
Online Play
MTG Links

The Dragon's Den

Planewalking to a Win
January 21, 2009

Many times people will ask me what deck I like to play.  Or even broader, what deck type.  I don't usually have a good answer other than, "Something that allies my creatures to die honorably at 90 degree angles."  In reality though, I simply prefer decks that are interesting or the ones that have really fun cards.  I still like to be competitive though.  That causes some problems when deck building.

Most control decks are booooooorriiiiiiing.  They don't do anything.  They kinda just sit there and wait for the opponent to do something until they draw their big finisher.  That's fine for some players.  I'm not going to cover that type of deck today.  I am going to cover the most fun control deck I've ever played:  Lords of the Rings.

That's the best name I've heard given to the deck and it's definitely fitting.  Let's start with a decklist.

Lords of the Rings

2 Chameleon C olossus
4 Kitchen Finks

2 Naya Charm
4 Condemn
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Wrath of God
4 Mind Stone
3 Rings of Brighthearth

2 Chandra Nalaar
4 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Ajani Vengeant
1 Sarkhan Vol
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

3 Reflecting Pool
4 Jungle Shrine
2 Treetop Village
3 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Wooded Bastion
4 Battlefield Forge
2 Karplusan Forest
1 Brushland
1 Forest
1 Plains

Sample Sideboard:
2 Guttural Response
4 Vexing Shusher
1 Cloudthresher
2 Lash Out
3 Firespout
3 Naturalize

Yes, it’s 61 cards.  I’ve got a habit of doing that.  It could simply be the power of prime.  ; You can pick and choose what to pull if you like.  I prefer the deck just how it is.  If I was forced to make a recommendation for removal, I guess I would say Sarkhan Vol.  But I like having him there as an option.  It’s your call though.  The deck seems fine at 61.

Originally, the deck got my attention solely because of two cards.  It plays a full set of Ajani Vengeant.  And it plays with Rings of Brighthearth.  This got me really interesting in the deck.  I started piecing it together and doing a ton of testing.

I discovered that the Lords of the Rings are quite potent as a group and have a pretty solid game against several decks.  I’m probably getting ahead of myself though.  Let’s break it down into a more basic nuts and bolts structure.


ˇ         There aren’t a lot of creatures, but the ones that are played are hard to kill.  You’ve got to love that.  The Kitchen Finks are life gain and come back for a second round of fighting.  Chameleon Colossus is hard to deal with.  I was surprised that some lists didn’t play this guy, because he’s been the key to winning many games already.

ˇ         You never feel completely out of the fight.  Chandra, Ajani, and Elspeth and each be critical topdecks on their own.  This doesn’t even take into account the individual power of some cards like Wrath of God still lingering.

ˇ         The mana is very smooth, so you rarely get stuck wanting a color.  This is a very good feeling.  This also adds a significant level of consistency.

ˇ         The spells in this deck, especially the planeswalkers, are very versatile.  Having flexibility is a good thing.


ˇ         It’s not a cheap deck to build.  The Planeswalkers are expensive.  Wrath of God and Reflecting Pool are both above the $10 USD mark in most places.  This could put it out of the realm of possibility for some players to even try to scrape together.

ˇ         You have very few early plays.  Unless you draw up a Mind Stone in the first few turns, you aren’t going to be doing a whole lot.  You’ve got to sit patiently and game plan.  That scares some people.

ˇ         Partly due to the above statement; it’s a tough deck to play.   There are a lot of decisions to be made.  Sometimes there are five or six possible directions to head down on a single turn.  It’s one of those times where having a lot of choices can sometimes lead to overthinking and some bad plays: “Think long, think wrong.”

You can’t allow yourself to get discouraged with your first few runs.  It’s very likely that you are going to make a lot of mistakes.  You might even lose some games that you feel you should obviously be winning.  It’s almost like a mirage or some bad illusion.  As you get better, you will start to see the better plays and where your other mistakes were originating.  This is definitely not a deck I would throw someone into a tournament with without at least ten to twelve games of preparation.

The deck has a ton of interesting interactions.  Just the Rings of Brighthearth themselves are strong in this pile of constructed goodness.  The things you can do with the planeswalkers is just complete silliness:

-       Chandra can blast multiple creatures on her first appearance to the game.

-       Garruk can makes two beasts a turn.  Later, he can double overrun. 

-       Ajani can take you from losing to winning with a quick 12 point swing in life totals.

-       Sarkhan Vol can steal two creatures for the price of one, making for a surprise victory.

-       Elspeth can make a supersized flier.

The rings don’t just stop there.  Remember, earlier when I mentioned winning on the broad shoulders of the Chameleon Colossus?  You can double up his ability with the Rings as well.  That makes for some fun stuff.  I’ve even used the Rings late game to sift for a winner, but using it to double up the draw effect on Mind Stone.  I’m truly a bit upset that I couldn’t settle on any quality side board card that could use the Rings.

While we’re on the topic, I don’t want you to let the name of the deck fool you.  This deck can (and many times does) win without the power of the Rings of Brighthearth.  Personally, I thought the deck was going to be a one trick pony and lose if I couldn’t get the Rings on the table.  Boy was I wrong.  When you land a set, it makes the game a lot easier and takes out some of the guesswork, that’s for sure.  You in no way need them to secure a victory though.  Each card is so strong that they can stand their ground independently of the Rings.

How does it stack up against other big decks?  I personally hate giving percentages.  I think percentages are hard to justify unless you have a n extremely large sample size of matches.  Player skill and specific deck make-up can have a lot to do with the determi nation the outcome.  I will give you notes based on my experiences playing the deck though.

Vs. Blightning Aggro/RDW/Other heavy burn decks

-       This can be a tough matchup.  If you can make it to turn three with a Mind Stone or to turn four, you are probably OK.  Well more specifically, make it there with a decent life total.  Something 11 or above  is what you’re looking for.  An early Blightning can really make you uncomfortable.  Wrath of God is also a huge help in this fight.  Strangely, you would assume that the burn would be the death of you with your planeswalkers.  This isn’t the case.  You opponent actually has to decide when to hit you and when to destroy a planeswalker.  And he’s going to have to two-for-one them usually.

Vs. Faeries

-       Most of the other decks I played recently had really good game against the Fae.  I must admit, that the Lords struggle a bit game one against the winged menace.  Post sideboard, be aware of the Faerie version you are playing against.  If it’s not spell counter heavy, leave the Vexing Shushers and Guttural Responses in the sideboard.  Bring in Cloudthreshers, Firespouts, and Lash Outs.  You’re simply trying to keep the game close until you stabilize.  Once you ever get stable, it’s very unlikely you w ill ever relinquish the advantage.  It can be a lot of work to get to that point though.

Vs. Kithkin

-       This match is exactly as it seems.  Keep killing and board sweeping as fast as you can.  You’re usually going to want to get rid of the fliers soon as possible.  Those are the biggest problem for the Lords.  You have lots of removal, but don’t get frivolous with it.  Don’t fear the Forge-Tender either.  You’ve got quite a few things to deal with it.  And if you don’t have it in hand, force your opponent to blow it up and them move on.

Vs. Token

-       This was a match that I expected to be terrible.  Oddly, it’s only terrible when they draw large quantities of the token makes early.  If they only get one or two, the game is definitely still in a manageable position.  One problem you run into here though is the “legendary planeswalker rule”, so keep that in mind when planning your turns.  That being said though, it can sometimes hurt your opponent more.  Be aware that either Ajani being in play kills both of them.

Vs. Five Color Control

-       This match is actually pretty easy.  Most of what their deck is geared to beat doesn’t appear in the mix here.  We have very few creatures, so they get left with lots of dead cards.  They also have almost no way to deal with planeswalkers outside of Oblivion Ring in a lot of cases.  Also, when Ajani goes boom, it pretty much seals the deal.  Vexing Shushers and Guttural Responses are huge in this matchup.

And finally, I’m going to leave you with some Do’s and Don’ts.

DO be extremely patient when playing this deck.  Sometimes it takes a few turns for your setup to develop.

DO take advantage of all the planeswalkers. They’ve each got a purpose with a time to shine.

DO get aggressive.  If you don’t, there is a chance you can run into a few draws.


DON’T try to add Ajani Goldmane.  I had him in here initially and as it turns out, he’s not that important.

DON’T be afraid to win by attacking. There are many times you’re just going to simply turn guys sideways to win.

DON’T try to get too fancy.  The power is there.  Sometimes you j ust to let the cards speak simply.

Enjoy the deck.  It’s a blast to play.  It’s definitely something different.  It captures so many interesting aspects of deck design.  It’s almost a surprise that more people aren’t playing it.  The real drawbacks though are cost and difficulty.  If you decide to take the plunge, be sure to get some practice games in.

Have fun.  Reap the rewards.  The Lords of the Rings wield great power.

DeQuan Watson
PowrDragn at pojo d ot com

DeQuan Watson is a game store owner and tournament organizer from Waco, TX.  He's been a Pojo writer since 2001.  Feel free to chat about this article or whatever else at his store's website at




CopyrightŠ 1998-2008 pojo.com
This site is not sponsored, endorsed, or otherwise affiliated with any of the companies or products featured on this site. This is not an Official Site.