Sometimes, They Come Back

When I originally wrote this article and the above title it was simply in reference to the deck below. Now, with Techsas having a new home here at The Pojo, it takes on a wholly different meaning. The plan is to have this become a weekly column, so I don't think I'll be able to post a new deck every Thursday, but this frequency will give an opportunity to meander around the Magic world, offering strategy on the formats I'm playing as well as new deck that come down the pipeline. Let me know what you think, I enjoy hearing from everyone out there!

This is the bulk of my last fully written article which was never published until now. I've updated parts of it to include some Planeshift cards, and we'll have all-new material starting next week!

Last time I introduced everyone to Saproling Hell,a green deck designed to create lots of tokens. In the responses I've gotten, I realized I probably should have explained an idea or two in a bit more depth. For instance, why I didn't like Spontaneous Generation in the deck. In my playtesting, Generation showed up in my opening hand and caused me to hold onto cards more than normal which slowed down the deck, or I would drop a bunch of fast creatures, then draw a Generation and have 2, maybe three cards in hand and be upset. Either way, it didn't seem to be particularly condusive to the deck's construction, so I removed the card.

That said, now I'll look at some of the responses I got to the deck. Most notably, yes, the deck translates exceedingly well to Extended, thanks to Gaea's Cradle. Even when building this deck I kept wishing Cradle was available in the environment. Drop Cradle into Saproling Hell, and it could get exceedingly explosive. Granted, it is probably still easily disrupted by Force of Will, but Extended also has much more effective sideboard strategies like City of Solitude that could give the deck a fighting chance. If you give the deck a run in Extended and have any success, I'd love to hear about it!

I exchanged several e-mails with people regarding Urza's Rage versus Ghitu Fires, and it is a difficult choice. What I think it boils down to is a metagame choice. Ghitu Fire allows you to be able to remove early creatures more easily against Rebels and Fires decks which will slow them down and give your deck time to develop. Rage is obviously more effective when dealing with control decks and counterspells. Considering how difficult it is to come up with the two red mana for a Rage with kicker at times, Fires may be the card of choice in this particular situation.

Some people brought up Phryexian Altar for its ability to produce colored mana. I tried that originally but came to the conclusion that the ability to double the mana investment for a saproling was too important to the explosiveness of the deck. Also, considering the environment, Aura Mutation makes for an excellent sideboard card, if not a main deck card, depending on what people like playing in your area. Aura Shards is something to consider, but at first glance, I tend to think Mutation would be better for this deck.

There's more I'm working on for this deck but I still haven't ironed out enough to make it worth everyone's time, so I'll work on it and let everyone know how it develops!

And now, Sometimes, They Come Back (or, the story of a badly named but great deck.)

One of my favorite decks of all time is the deck Alan Comer made popular, Godzilla. For those who don't remember, the deck made its debut at Regionals in 1997, and featured huge fatties like Hidden Horror, Verdant Force, Shivan Dragon, and Sliver Queen. Cards that got those huge creatures into the graveyard like Merfolk Traders and Firestorm, and ways to drag those fatties out into play like Animate Dead, Necromancy, and a few Living Death just for fun. It was a blast to go first turn Dark Ritual, Hidden Horror, then second turn return the Verdant Force to play with Animate Dead that you had discarded the previous turn. The deck worked well at the time because it featured a multitude of threats in castable creatures, and the animation cards were plentiful. Firestorm gave it the ability to weather early storms from decks like Sligh, plus the Firestorm set the deck up for later in the game. I loved playing the deck because it actually won in spite of looking so goofy and it was a blast to play.

In the current Type II, There are a ton of fatties to have fun with in the environment, from Avatars to Dragons, even "small" guys like Jade Leech and Blastoderm. In Invasion, there's a new version of Living Death called Twilight's Call that costs 4BB to return all creatures in all graveyards to play, and can be played as an instant for two extra mana. Naturally, I saw possibilities. I wanted to base the deck off of Godzilla's theories, one of the most prevelant of which was playing only creatures that were able to be hard cast when required late in the game. I wanted a lot of fat creatures, ways to get them into the graveyard, and of course, Twilight's Call to bring them back. The biggest weakness is that there is no single card that allows you to bring back a single creature easily like Animate Dead or Necromancy did. The only options are Phryexian Delver and Strand of Night, both suboptimal.

Blue featured the best cards to work creatures into the graveyard in Probe, Fact or Fiction, and Vodalian Merchant, so blue and black were a natural combination for the deck. I built the deck like so:

4 Dark Ritual 
4 Twilight's Call 
4 Avatar of Woe 
4 Avatar of Will 
1 Dromar, The Banisher 
1 Crosis, The Purger 
1 Reya Dawnbringer 
1 Necrosavant 
4 Sage Owl 
4 Vodalian Merchant 
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Probe 

5 Swamp
5 Island 
4 Salt Marsh 
2 City of Brass 
2 Ebon Stronghold 
3 Underground River 
4 Rishadan Port

Dark Ritual and Ebon Stronghold are both critical to firing off some of the spells early on. The only reason I don't have four Stronghold is because I don't want every land I have come into play tapped. There are several occasions that I will hard cast an Avatar early on via this mana acceleration. Early on, I included Peat Bog, but ended up removing it as it tended to make it too punishing to play a 3rd turn probe, 4th turn Fact or Fiction.

The selection of fatties is chosen with the idea that they are all able to be hard cast. The only exception is Reya, and she should be discarded with enough ease to make her ability to bring back fatties repeatedly worthwhile.

As for search/discard, I included the obvious in Vodalian Merchant, Fact or Fiction and Probe, all which do quite well. The Sage Owl was originally counterspells and the counter magic simply did not fit in the deck, so I went with another two drop that could chump block, and the ability of the Owl allowed me to prepare for upcoming turns and Probes effectively while jumping in the way of incoming Blastoderms and their ilk.

Rishadan Port works quite well in the deck, delaying the game even just a turn for Fires gives this deck the time it needs to work into its setup. Ports are far from 100% required, though, feel free to try changing these slots with other cards and see what you come up with. Your best matchup with this deck is generally any aggressive creature deck. It boils down to porting them turn two, droping a Merchant or Owl after that, then chump blocking while playiung Probe or Fact or Fiction, then at that point your fatties become a factor and they have a very difficult time dealing with Avatars coming out their ears.

Looking at Planeshift, I tend to think that Diabolic Intent, the new Demonic Tutor card would work excellently to go snag that ever-important Twilight's Call when you need it.

This deck's biggest weakness right now is Blue Skies when Skies draws an excellent mix of countermagic and creatures. It's a problem I haven't had time to work on yet, but I'm trying to figure out some ideas. Bribery tends to be a bit problematic when backed up by opposing counters as well. If you hit one of the massive control decks that run 8 Wrath of God spells, simply hold onto the Twilight's Call until your opponent's end step, then send over the Army of Fatties on your turn.

All that said, this deck is a blast to play and has the most potential of any deck I have featured so far, in my opinion. Try it out, I'm sure you'll have a good time declaring that you're "attacking for 16".

Tim Stoltzfus