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BMoor's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
Liege of the Tangle
September 9, 2010

Did you play Magic during Mirrodin block? I did. I was there for the Affinity hijinks, the Tooth and Nail decks dropping Darksteel Colossus, the drafts where choosing a color became academic, and the introduction of Indestructible and of Equipment. And one of the things I noticed about Mirrodin block is that Green seemed... like an outsider in that block.

Green was an outsider when last we saw Mirrodin. All the other colors embraced artifacts wholeheartedly. Even if Red only saw them as fuel for the Krark-Clan Ironworks, all the other colors were glad for you to build your deck around artifacts. Green was the only color that never offered incentives for you to play them, and indeed Green saw cards like Tel-Jilad Chosen, Infested Roothold, and Hum of the Radix to punish any player who played artifacts-- even you.

Flavor-wise, this was because the Tangle, the artificial forest of Mirrodin, was the last refuge for Mirrodin protagonist Glissa Sunseeker, who had been hunted down by Memnarch and his Levelers from day one. You may see mention of "four suns" on flavor text from Mirrodin and Darksteel? Well, there's a red one, a
Liege of the Tangle white one, a blue one, and a black one-- each one made of pure mana. The titular "Fifth Dawn" that occured at the end of the block was the creation of the green sun, which erupted from Mirrodin's Core and restored balance to Mirrodin's color pie. Thus it makes sense that, up until that point, Green would feel like it had no place in the setting. I am very curious to see how Green will be handled in Scars of Mirrodin this October.

Today's preview card only heightens my anticipation.

There's a lot to absorb here. First and foremost, Liege of the Tangle is an 8/8 with trample for 6GG. Once you've hit eight mana, two green isn't hard to have at all, so the Liege could fairly easily be put into a deck of any combination of colors as long as green is more than a minor splash. And an 8/8 with trample is guaranteed to tear up the combat phase, forcing opponents to throw chump blockers at it and likely still take damage regardless.

But of course, the intriguing part here is what happens when the other guy takes damage. Any amount of combat damage will allow you to put awakening counters on ANY NUMBER of lands you control, which turns them into 8/8 creatures. (Without trample). Since you likely have eight or more lands in play if you were able to cast this, that means on your very next swing, you can have your choice of one to eight or more 8/8's, who will be available to swing on the next turn.

Now, obviously, this suggests certain strategic considerations. The last card in recent memory that made all your lands creatures was Ambush Commander, which was widely hated because playing it allowed your opponent to leave you landless with a Wrath of God or Pyroclasm. Liege of the Tangle protects you from that sad fate by giving your lands 8 toughness, and by letting you choose how many of them, and which ones, become creatures. Since three 8/8's deal 24 damage, most opponents' life totals seldom get above 20, and you already have a trampling 8/8 by the time you start animating lands, you probably should only awaken two or three of your lands. You'd also want to choose lands you haven't already tapped this turn, so you can use them as blockers. This also means that when you declare your attacks, if you're confident about the Liege getting through for at least 1 point and have ample untapped lands, you don't need to worry about leaving anybody open to block. You do, however, need to keep track of which land(s) came into play this turn-- if they awaken, they'll be affected by summoning sickness and you won't be able to tap them for mana.

In addition, you have to consider how this will fit in with the block it appears in: Scars of Mirrodin. We don't know exactly what's coming in that block, but we do know what keywords will be featured: Metalcraft, Imprint, Infect, and Proliferate. Metalcraft and Imprint probably won't make much of an impact on this, but Infect and Proliferate have me raising my eyebrow. Remember earlier, when I said that your opponent will be forced to chump block the Liege? Well, the lands it awakens don't have trample, so they're even more likely to get chumped. If those chump blockers have Infect, they'll leave -1/-1 counters on the Liege and its followers. And if your opponent then has a means to Proliferate, you may find your army shrinking, quite literally. Fortunately, that pair of 8's in the corner mean it'll take a lot of proliferation to actually kill your lands or your Liege.

But enough speculation, we've got decks to build! Let's see, Liege of the Tangle costs eight mana, encourages you to have plenty of excess lands on the board, and is green. Gee, I wonder what kind of cards to use with it?

Cultivate Allegiance

4 Sylvan Ranger
4 Wall of Omens
4 Liege of the Tangle
3 Knight of the Reliquary
3 Primeval Titan
4 Harrow
4 Cultivate
4 Condemn
4 Oust
2 Ajani Goldmane
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Terramorphic Expanse
8 Forest
8 Plains

Primeval Titan has an especially entertaining interaction with the Liege. Imagine the two of them attacking. The Titan, immediately upon being declared as an attacker, puts two lands into play. Then when combat damage is dealt, the Liege will get to make one or both of those lands into 8/8's.
Ajani Goldmane works especially well with Liege of the Tangle. Once your lands are awoken, Ajani can put +1/+1 counters on them (cancelling out any -1/-1 counters an Infected creature may have had on it) and give them vigilance, which allows them to swing without denying you their mana for the turn.
But why Condemn and Oust? Well, having played with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, I know sometimes when your opponent fails to draw an answer, they just look at the giant creature you've just cast, realize what's going to happen next turn, and forfeit the game right there, giving you the win yet denying you the fun of getting it. By using Condemn and Oust, two spells that let my opponent gain life, I hope to avoid that. A squad of 8/8's is a scary thing, no question, but when only one has trample and you're at 30 life, it just feels a little more possible to come from behind and win. The theory is to give your opponent just enough hope to keep fighting, without actually giving him a way to win. Like I always say, life gain doesn't actually win games. And Condemn and Oust let your opponent gain life, but they also remove your opponent's creatures.

Entangled Elementals

4 Incandescent Soulstoke
4 Flamekin Harbinger
4 Fertilid
3 Liege of the Tangle
3 Shriekmaw
2 Doomgape
2 Spitebellows
3 Torrent of Souls
3 Exploding Borders
3 Vines of Vastwood
3 Prophetic Prism
3 Grim Discovery
4 Savage Lands
4 Primal Beyond
5 Mountain
5 Swamp
5 Forest

This Extended-legal brew is designed to exploit the fact that Liege of the Tangle is an Elemental, obviously. Incandescent Soulstoke and Flamekin Harbinger are there to set up a turn four or five where you use the Soulstoke to drop the Liege down for a turn as a hasty 9/9. Swing in, and awaken any number of your lands. The Liege will then be sacked at end of turn, but your 8/8 lands you get to keep-- the Liege makes them creatures as long as they have their awakening counter, whether or not the Liege itself is still around. And they're Elementals too, so the Soulstoke will pump them as well. You can easily pull this off around turn four, at which point it's basically a Death or Glory attack. If your opponent as Wrath of God, you just gave him a one-sided Armageddon to go with it. If he doesn't, he'll lose pretty darn quick.
Vines of Vastwood is there to protect your creatures from kill spells at critical moments. Dont' be afraid to cast it unkicked just for the greenshroud, to counter a targeted spell. I wanted to include Emerge Unscathed in the first deck for the same reason, but couldn't find room. Pity too, since the rebound on Emerge Unscathed often allows one of your creatures to attack unblocked, which is tremendous in a deck that expects to have 8/8's in play.

If Liege of the Tangle is indicative of Green's place in Scars of Mirrodin, I have a good feeling about this block-- better than I got from Green's outsider status in Mirrodin the first time around. Since the storyline for Scars of Mirrodin involves the plane's native Mirrans defending their homeworld against an invasion of Phyrexians, and by now the green sun should be securely in the sky over Mirrodin along with the other four, I'm optimistic that Green will feel more like a native part of its world here. I guess we'll all find out together when Scars of Mirrodin hit the shelves of game stores everywhere this October, won't we?

Good luck!







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