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Pojo's Book Reviews



10.26.01 - Turbo Animate

As you can tell by now, Iím entranced by Blackís ability to control the game through graveyard recursion. The first, non-Reya, deck I saw involved dropping Iridescent Angel into the graveyard via Entomb and then casting the Death half of Life/Death on turn 2. That puts a 4/4 beatstick into play that your opponent canít touch directly. Of course, the problem with this is that it drops you to 13 life on turn two and the chances of getting just the right hand make the combo cool but unplayable. At least itís unplayable without a deck entirely focused around that combo:

2 Disrupt
3 Ghastly Demise
4 Memory Lapse
4 Duress
4 Careful Study
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Entomb
4 Life/Death
4 Iridescent Angel
3 Crosis, the Purger
1 Dromar, the Banisher
4 City of Brass
4 Underground River
8 Swamp
7 Island 

What the deck is: It is a combo deck that can set up a 4 or 5 turn clock by your 3rd turn in just about 70% of your games (after testing 50 draws w/o mulligans on Apprentice). It is also a fairly non-complicated combo deck. That means itís relatively easy to play. The advantage of a fairly strong combo and ease of play make this deck perfect for overcoming an experience gap. That is to say that this type of deck can give an inexperienced player a better chance of beating a more experienced player than a conventional deck would. The reason is that a conventional match up allows for many more play decisions. The more decisions that come up in a game the more a playerís ability will skew the game in their favor. Combo decks like this try to minimize the length of the games and the options available to your opponent. This deck is all about luck (or fate if you prefer).

What the deck is not: A solid consistent deck that will win you tournaments (it can win a tournament but this is more a testament to luck than to play skill). 70% of your games will give you a strong, but not unbeatable, start. 30% of your games will be lost within the first five minutes. Better players should avoid these kind of numbers and play a deck that gives more control over itís long term destiny.

Having said that, this is about as streamlined as the deck can get (at least this is the best I came up with to date). The first build I copied off the Internet set up the combo about 35% of the time. This is absolutely unplayable. At 70% this deck is viable for play. The first turn, and the initial draw, will be the most important part of any game for this deck. Here is an outline for the decision making process:

        If you have a choice, draw first rather than play first (I found that aggressive use of the mulligan didnít help as much as drawing first turn)
        If you have no creatures cast Entomb.
        If you have no creatures and no Entomb cast Careful Study.
        If you have no creatures and no Entomb and no Careful study but you have Life/Death cast Sleight of Hand.
        If you have creatures cast Careful Study.
        If you have creatures and Life/Death but donít have Careful Study cast Entomb.
        If you have creatures and Life/Death but not Entomb or Careful Study donít play any cards (not even a land) and discard at the end of your turn (this guarantees that the combo will come out on turn 3)
        If you have creatures but not Life/Death cast Careful Study (as above) or Sleight of Hand.
        If if you donít have any creatures, no Entomb, no Careful Study, and no Life/Death you should have taken a mulligan. 

Yes, I know that this is a little complex (in fact I confused myself writing it and I hope itís right) but once you sit down with the deck for a while most of this becomes self evident. Playing this deck is just like being a computer, you follow the proper steps and the combo will go off (if you shuffled well), if you donít follow the rules you will lose. Even normal no brain plays like turn 1 Duress arenít good with this deck.

After first turn, the deck becomes easy. If you have the ability to bring a creature from your graveyard into play do it, if you canít do that then search your deck for Life/Death, if you canít do that cast Entomb (if you havenít already), if you canít do that cast Duress, if you canít do that then pray. Once you get a creature in play just use search cards to draw your counters and other disruption. Dropping more creatures into your graveyard wonít be a big help since a second Life/Death will probably kill you.

A few notes about card choice. I didnít include Buried Alive since it isnít fast enough. Same story for Zombify (although one or two in place of Disrupt would help consistency and this could be main deck and Disrupt could be side boarded in for the second game against decks playing Black). Crosis is chosen over Dromar since I expect the metagame to include to many U/B decks. If Dromar is bounced back to your hand you are in big trouble. On the other hand, Crosis controls your opponentís hand and makes it hard to find an answer (basically they will have to top deck it). Iridescent Angel is the card of choice except against Stompy (and possibly Sligh) where Dromar will get you further. Adding the big dragons allows for a better chance of drawing a creature. Spiritmonger is dropped from the deck since he has no evasion and this deck canít afford to lose a turn by having a creature blocked. Disrupt is included to protect against both of the spells that will shut you down: Duress and Innocent Blood. 

Well, there it is. This deck isnít good or bad, it is just ugly. Itís really only for those insane daredevil players who donít care about style or reputation. I have heard that rubbing a jackalope foot will help. Anyway, just keeping it weird Ė Jason out.

Jason Chapman





Copyright 2001 Pojo.com


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