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Pojo's Book Reviews



Rogue Champion

I'd like to start this article by giving a few props. A thanks goes out to Pojo.com for allowing me to write for them, and also to those of you who welcomed me with questions and emails. I thank all of you.
So, Torment is almost upon us, and it is obviously the buzz of most of your conversations among fellow Magic players. Which cards are going to be the top cards from the set? Which cards are the most powerful? Well, we will all soon see. It seems the set is filled with cards that could be powerful, but aren't obviously so powerful that they jump right out at you.
The true change that Torment brings I believe is the value of already existing black cards. Think for a moment about the amazing searching tools black currently has. Tainted Pact is a very solid card (if you haven't played with it or against it yet, try it out) and it will only get better with the cards in Torment. Diabolic Tutor is around. Why isn't this card played? Is it that it costs 4 mana, 2 of which are black? No. It's because black decks don't have anything to go looking for anymore. As of Torment, they will.
Torment is bringing many cards with it that stand to make pre-existing black cards to the front. Black gains a few tricks to play with, including the haste of Ichorid, the control of Mutilate, the beat-down of Nantuko Shade, the deck altering ability of Insidious Dreams, and a few others. This can only mean good things for those under-played cards already around.
So, what new strategies exist within Torment? I believe Land Destruction decks gain a few weapons to put in their arsenal. Rancid Earth easily replaces the lost Rain of Tears. Devastating Dreams may be better (for the current environment) than Wildfire, giving us an amazing new board clearing mechanism. Petravark and Petradon can add some pressure while keeping even more lands from being used. If we add to those the already existing cards like Trench Wurm, Stone Rain, Pillage, Earth Rift, Nightscape Battlemage, Razing Snidd, and the others that I'm leaving out, we find ourselves with an array of land destruction material that seems hard to deny. Expect this age-old archetype to start showing up again, mostly designed around Devastating Dreams.
Twighlight's Call might start seeing play. Why? Two words, Laquatus's Champion. Imagine having three or four of these guys in your graveyard, which is easily done by cards like Entomb and Buried Alive, and then casting Twighlight's Call. Playing black should give you enough hand disruption to get the Call through counterspells, and the tandem of Mutilate and Pernicious Deed should give you all the board control you need. Suddenly, the Champions come out, making your opponent lose 6 life for each one! If you have three of them in the graveyard, that's 18 life, while four Champions means 24 life. In either case, it's most likely lights out for your opponent. Cabal Ritual can add to the speed of the deck (with cards like Entomb, Buried Alive, and other discard spells, Threshold should be no problem), making it one little sick engine.
Let's take a look at what we got for this deck…

The combo:
4x Laquatus's Champion
3x Twighlight's Call

The board control:
3x Mutilate
4x Pernicious Deed
2x Innocent Blood

The engine:
3x Entomb
3x Buried Alive
4x Cabal Ritual

The discard:
4x Duress
2x Addle

Finally, the support:
1x Yawgmoth's Agenda (should go in almost any black deck)
4x Diabolic Tutor (or Tainted Pact, but I think the Tutor should be better for this deck)

The land:
4x Tainted Wood
3x Llanowar Wastes
16x Swamp

What we have here is a version in the early stages of development, but it still looks very solid. The sideboard isn't made yet simply because this is a deck of the future, and nobody knows what the metagame is going to be. As with any of the decks I post in this column, I accept and encourage advice on this deck.

Next, I wanted to start analyzing a few cards for your use in regards to Rogue techniques. I will continue to supply you with these reviews in future articles, but I will start with a few now. The three cards I will discuss this time are Lobotomy, Powerstone Minefield, and Tolarian Winds.

Lobotomy, 2UB, Sorcery. Target player reveals his/her hand, then you choose a card other than a basic land from it. Search that player's graveyard, hand and library for all cards with the same name as the chosen card and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his/her library.

Wow, what a card! One of the hottest decks right now is Balancing Tings. Lobotomy can single-handedly destroy that deck by catching a couple different cards. Taking the Terravore means that they are now reliant on the Nimble Mongooses (yes, this is the proper plural form, I looked it up) to win them the game. Taking Balancing Act or Obliterate drastically hurts their setup time. Have two Lobotomies get through, and you supply even more trouble. Combine this with the fact that all of Balancing Ting's lands are susceptible to a Lobotomy, and you've got one heck of a weapon.
Lobotomy works wonders against control decks, too, eliminating any number of things (including the few win conditions the deck might have) from being played. Against the now old Rice Snack deck, a Lobotomy catching Ghitu Fire could be game ending.

Powerstone Minefield, 2RW, Enchantment. Whenever a creature attacks or blocks, Powerstone Minefield does 2 damage to that creature.

Flametongue Kavus got you down? Well, they will be helpless to attack with only one Minefield in play. If you are facing against Opposition decks (either the Merfolk or the Squirrel varieties), this card all but shuts down their chances to win. If they can't attack, they can't beat you, no matter if you can't do anything else. Powerstone Minefield is best used as a sideboard card, but its usefulness is far from realized.

Tolarian Winds, 1U, instant. Discard your hand, then draw that many cards.

Want threshold? You got it in one card. While Winds has seen some play recently in Draino decks, I expect it to be more useful with the upcoming set. There are more Threshold cards, the new green creatures who need cards in the graveyard to be put back into your deck, and a plethora of madness effects waiting to be abused with this card. People scoff at it as a bad card, providing card disadvantage for the price of cycling through your library. Those days are soon to be over. Dropping fatties like Arrogant Wurm and Basking Rootwalla while drawing a new hand (all at instant speed I might add) seems like an interesting strategy. Expect someone to use it.

Well, that's it for this time. I hope you've enjoyed this jaunt into the mind of a rogue Magic player. Sick things await us once Torment hits the scene. Be prepared.

I'd like to invite any of you to email me with any ideas you have in regards to rogue decks or strategies. If I like them, I may use them in an article (giving the person credit, of course). This will give us all the opportunity to put our heads together as well.

Until Chainer sees a shrink…
Andrew Chapman
AOL IM: wchrisrock




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