Scrub Beats

There comes a time in every Magic players life when they must come to terms with a simple fact, or be relegated to the halls of Casual Play and 0-3, drop. What could this bit of arcane knowledge be? Is it a proverb, a rule of thumb, or some sort of metaphysical meditation? No. It's this simple paragraph:

There are three kinds of G/R beatdown. Fires, efficient weenies with efficient burn (not seen sine Jackal Pup) and the kind that rots of very smelly rotten eggs.

Let's put this another way. I receive many decks from people, all well meaning and active in their chosen religion or lack of one, who are new, inexperienced, or untrained at Magic. This is normal, and should not cause sufficient emotional scarring to justify suing me.  The decks they send me tend to look like this:

ScRuB bEaTs FrOm PiMp DaDdY 2o01

4 Avatar of Might
4 Avatar of Fury
4 Two Headed Dragon
4 Rushwood Elemental
4 Thorn Elemental
3 Rith, The Awakener
3 Darigaaz's, the Igniter
4 Rhox

4 Seal of Strength

11 Forest
7 Mountains
4 Plains
4 Swamps

My deck loses. A lot. I think it needs dual lands and a splash of Blue for Morphling.

This is not to ridicule those people. This is to help them. I understand the predicament very well; all sorts of big creatures in the collection, huge numbers that equal the opponents life plummeting like a tech stock. It's very tempting to stuff them all in a deck with some lands and run around looking for players to kick around like small Vietnamese sweatshop workers. You sit down with an evil look in your eye glancing at the hapless fool's deck.  He wins the die throw, but that's ok. Waiting will make the victory all the sweeter.  He playsan Island!

Ha! You have him right were you want him! There is nothing he is capable of doing that can stop you now! Taking the top card off your library, you play. a Forest, and a Seal of Strength. Won't that be a bonus for your tremendous creatures? Look, Rith can attack for NINE DAMAGE! NINE! And then he makes SAPROLING TOKENS! A lesser man would wet himself at the prospect. Your opponent draws, and plays another Island. That's it. No huge creatures or creature pumping tools. Just two basic land. This is so easy!

Needless to say, another fifteen turns down the road, you begin to get enough land to actually cast some creatures; he begins using strange cards. Cards that do not let Rith come into play. Cards that make Rith go to the graveyard before he can do nine damage.  Your opponent has a handful of these cards. This is not good.

So you lose. Well, it was just a bad draw.  Surely someone will fall to an army of big creatures today.

Then you play a weenie deck. Then a combo deck. A Necro deck. Survival. Oath. Skies. Prison. Maybe not Skies, but you get the idea. There are powerful decks out there, and a G/R Fattie deck is no match for them.

And that's ok. Maybe you want to play casually with your favorite cards, I hope you have fun, too. I'll bring my R/G recursion deck.

There is hope for big creatures in competitive play.  There are a few problems with the deck listed above, which is my creation, not that I own the cards, it was just a mean example.  I'm going to go over the problems, and then the hope.

PROBLEM NUMBER ONE: Too Many Big Creatures.

Big creatures are fun, I love mine. But, by the time you get over twenty, you need to have some sort of trick in the deck; or else you may have some problems actually casting them.  If you take out some of the creatures which are hard to cast because of the mana problems, like color screw (Rushwood Elemental, the Dragon Legends) or not enough land (Avatar of Might, Thorn Elemental), you'll find your decks runs much smoother.

PROBLEM NUMBER TWO: No Early or Mid Range Creatures or Spells

When all of your creatures wait until turn five or later to show up, you have a problem. Many decks can kill in four turns when nothing is in their way, and the rest will take complete control of the game by then. If you set up a defense or mount an offense in those first critical turns, you will be able to survive long enough to use the big creatures to seal your opponent's fate.

There are a lot of creatures showing up these days that only cost four mana and are larger than most large creatures.  Hunted Wumpus, Masticore, Blastoderm, Phyrexian Negator/Scuta, etc. all sneak out early and begin eating your opponent's life.

PROBLEM NUMBER THREE: No Way to Break the Mana Curve

To break the mana curve means to either use spells that get you mana, or spells that let you put creatures into play without paying mana. There are several ways to do this. The most common is to use Birds of Paradise or Elves to speed up the mana.  During the Urza block, artifact mana like Grim Monolith and Thran Dynamo was all the rage, and cards like Oath of Druids, Defense of the Heart, Show and Tell, and Natural Order all have their various uses.  One of my favorite tricks is graveyard manipulation. This is when you use cards like Animate Dead to pull creatures from your graveyard directly into play. They are usually Black, and some, like Recurring Nightmare, are quite notorious.

PROBLEM NUMBER FOUR: Creature Pumping Spells for Big Creatures

This is based of the idea of cards that help me win more.  I understand using creature pumping cards to save a Birds of Paradise from a Shock, but if a Rhox dies to a measly burn spell, your opponent is cheating. Black removal does kill most big creatures, but Green never had a great track record against black thanks to that wonderful spell, Perish. It would be better to use those slots holding creature-pumping spells for non-green creatures, removal spells, or mana acceleration.

Now, if we throw those points together to make decks, we're either gonna get another Fires deck, or this:

I Can't Believe I'm Doing This.dec

4 Phyrexian Scuta
4 Chimeric Idol
4 Blastoderm
4 Hunted Wumpus

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Dark Ritual
3 Vendetta
3 Snuff Out
3 Vampiric Tutor

1 Fires of Yavimaya

8 Swamp
12 Forest
3 Darigaaz's Caldera

3 City of Brass

Is this a good deck? Probably not. It may be too slow against Fires, but Hunted Wumpus does take out Blastoderm, and you have more removal. Rebels, same thing. You can probably beat U/W control be putting out two creatures at a time and forcing them to Wrath, lather rinse repeat. But the ideal is there.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, and he will sit in a boat and get drunk.
Not as inspiring as I hoped. I'm sure you're all familiar with the real saying, and that's what I hope I accomplished in this article. This was not meant to be a rant or a critique, but a self-help guide, so that you will learn and conquer.  I will no longer be covering any G/R beatdown decks I receive, since you should have the tools you need to better your decks. If you are truly desperate, try another fine mechanic or at least make your deck interesting enough that I want to help you.

I hope this doesn't sound bad, it's just a pain to write eight articles about why your deck needs to be like Fires.

Until Crovax the Cursed replaces Hannibal Lector as America's favorite cannibal, Make Mine Magic.

Kevin Williams
Still can't spell Darigaaz or Caldera.