Argothian Treehouse
with Andy Van Zandt  



Card Price Guide

MTG Fan Articles
Single Card Strategy 
Deck Tips & Strategies 
Tourney Reports 
Peasant Magic 
Featured Articles

Featured Writers
The Dragon's Den
Rumblings From The Ass
The Heretic's Sermon
Through The Portal
DAB: Oh My!
The Argothian Treehouse

Deck Garage
Aaron's School

Message Board 
Magic League

Contact Us

Pojo's Book Reviews



Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

12.11.02  Scrubbing Less With:  The Rock

Next up for some basic tutorial type stuff is the Rock. originally called the Rock and his millions, just "the rock" is a better name overall... not only less cheesy, but also indicative of the deck's stability. Again, we'll be using a top 8 decklist from Houston, Jeroen Remie's:

1 Dust Bowl
1 Volrath's Stronghold
4 Treetop Village
4 Llanowar Wastes
9 Forest
5 Swamp
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Wall of Blossoms
4 Yavimaya Elder
4 Spike Feeder
4 Spiritmonger
4 Pernicious Deed
4 Duress
3 Cabal Therapy
2 Vampiric Tutor
2 Living Wish
1 Living Death
1 Chainer's Edict

1 Visara the Dreadful
1 Ravenous Baloth
1 Faceless Butcher
1 Uktabi Orangutan
1 Stronghold Taskmaster
1 Genesis
2 Coffin Purge
3 Planar Void
4 Naturalize

his deck looks a lot like what you'd think of a standard Rock deck to be,
and although if I were to play a Rock myself, i'd have elves and baloths
over feeders and birds, it's still a solid deck. Other versions of this
deck that i've seen include red for rage or terminate, plus there's Darwin
Kastle's t8 deck, which is extremely straightforward and stripped to the

No offense is meant against Kastle in the following statement, but I'd go
nowhere near his decklist any time soon. I playtested it a lot, and his
version lost pretty consistently to everything in the Houston top 8. I
figured I must have been playing it wrong, naming the wrong cards with
therapies or something, so I handed it over to someone else. They
playtested it for the next two weeks, and came back with the same results.
Perhaps we're just all really bad at playing that version of the deck, but
all I ever want with it is more creatures, it just never seems to have
enough things to beat down with. Add to this the fact that it is extremely
sub-par compared to the normal rock decks against sligh and suicide black,
and it's a list I simply wouldn't recommend.

On to the cards:
Spike feeder: Important in the beatdown match-ups, most notably sligh,
but also good against draco explosion and oath (beat down with the feeder,
then if oath comes down and you can't move it, shift the counters onto a
Treetop village.) Against sligh, I'm of the opinion that feeders are
better to bring in from your sideboard, since they come down a turn
earlier, and baloths are better maindeck, since they are better in most
other match-ups and will probably still win you the game against sligh.
But feeder still gets the job done.

Yavimaya Elder: Card drawing in green, yay! And you may say that it's two
thirds land, but that's land you might otherwise be wasting your draw step
on (otherwise known as deck thinning). Sackable when an oath of druids hits
the board, and also no card loss if you need to deed, and it's always fun
to flash back cabal therapy and get a couple of lands at the same time. And
if you're up on your timing rules, you can use him to get a card you just
tutored/volrath's labbed for into your hand (search out your lands, then,
with the card draw still on the stack, lab or vamp, then resolve the draw.
You'd be surprised how many opponents you'll have to explain this to, I
had to walk about three of mine through the process at a PTQ).

Birds of paradise: Mana acceleration and consistency, good therapy
flashback food, and a cognivore chump blocker to boot. Always fun when
you're swinging with spike counter'd birds for the flying win.

Wall of blossoms: Your second key to victory against beatdown decks, it's
quick, defensive, and replaces itself. And against non-beatdown, there's
no loss of card advantage to sack it for your therapy.

Cabal therapy: Notice a trend in the creatures in this deck? pretty much
anything short of a spiritmonger is just fine as a victim to your own
devices. Now you just have to learn which cards to name against which

Duress: I get to see your hand and take the thing that's gonna wreck me
most. Now that I know what else is there, it's time to resolve a

Spiritmonger: The shortest path to victory. 4 is a bit many in my eyes,
he can clog up your hand early on, but he swings and swings, ignores your
opponent's deeds and your own, and swings some more.

Tutors: both vampiric and living wish, they get you what you need most of
the time. This will often be something to move creatures out of your way so
your dudes can smash face. Your vamp can always go get your wish if you
need something out of the sideboard.

Pernicious deed: Moves all your opponent's stuff out of the way...
creatures, oaths, Treetops, allurens, whatever needs to move. And usually
at very little cost or real creature risk of your own, if you're playing
right and sacrificing your stuff to therapies and not overextending your
beats, and remember that if you're sure that you need to deed on your turn,
you may want to sac your elder at the end of your opponent's. And regen
your monger (duh).

Living death: everything's gone wrong, oh so wrong! what do I do? I vamp
for my live-death and everything's right with the world again. since this
particular decklist lacks the diabolic edicts that you'd see in most, this
card becomes even more important as removal. It also has the tendency to be
the card that prevents rock on rock matches from ending in a draw. Like
deed, you want your dudes to be sacked for their benefits before you do
this. Don't forget to draw your cards from the wall of blossoms that got
killed/sac'ed earlier and are coming back into play now.

Chainer's edict: Well, without those aforementioned diabolic edicts, ya
might as well have an edict you can use twice. And you can always vamp for

Treetop Villages: One of my favorite cards in extended, this guy will win
you at least as many games as your other critters. He hides from your deeds
and swings, while your dustbowl moves other treetops out of the way.
Absurdly important against oath or tog, since they don't get to counter it
and you're swinging on turn 3. And oh yeah, sometimes you tap them for
green mana.

Specific Match-ups:

Rock on Rock:
Yes, these matches often hit the time limit, no joke. Vamp for your live
death at the appropriate time to win, or wish for your genesis or visara.
If all else fails, swing with your spiky birds or deed at the end of your
opponent's turn so your spiritmongers can come through. Then do it again,
because they probably have a lot of life from feeders/baloths.

Lay wall. Lay spike feeder. Block, put damage on the stack, sacrifice
feeder. Congratulations, you win. If it takes you much more than that,
tutor up your volrath's stronghold to repeat those first three steps. The
same "strategy" applies to most beatdown decks, like suicide black.

Duress and Therapy early (for oaths and deeds, and intuitions if you can),
lay feeders, elders, and treetops, attempt to deed off oaths if they get
through, if deed fails, sack creatures and just send with your treetops,
which are hopefully larger than theirs due to your feeders. Dustbowl their
treetops anyways, so you don't have to worry about 'em. Played correctly,
this match is slightly in your favor in my opinion, although the excess
spiritmongers can be more annoying than helpful, and you have to be very
careful not to lay wall of blossoms or birds that you can't sac/deed away
yourself, because you don't want them to activate oath from them. Bring in

Duress and therapy for allurens, living wishes, intuitions, and deeds. The
first three are or become important combo components, and the third moves
your deed. Don't blow all your discard in the first three turns if you can
avoid it, they'll probably recoup their hand very shortly and you need to
rip at it more as you go on. lay a guy or 2 to send with, then lay a deed
and LEAVE 4 MANA UNTAPPED. Deed in response to alluren'd cavern harpies (if
they have a second harpy just shrug and scoop up your cards). The other way
to do it is to vamp for wish, wish for stronghold taskmaster. While this
guy is in play, your opponent can't lay harpy. As good as these options
are, alluren has the upper hand in this match, particularly because you
can't lay the beats at full steam, and they'll get a couple turns to draw
an intuition or brainstorm and go off, or you'll only get one piece of hand
disruption, it won't be enough, and they'll combo you on turn 4 or so.
Bring in naturalizes, and maybe an engineered plague or 2 if you put them
in your sideboard.

Some people think rock is favored in this match, I feel differently. You
can either try to cripple their drawing/counters, or you can try and run
them out of win conditions by therapy'ing and deeding togs, while you send
with your treetops. Please repeat those last 4 words to yourself a couple
times now, because that's your best weapon, next to putting a scragnoth in
the sideboard to wish for. Leave 3 mana untapped for your deed so you can
deed when they corpse dance the tog. The lack of edicts hurts in this
match. Bring in planar voids, but don't get overconfident just because you
have it in play. Bring in coffin purges for wonder and accumulated

Lack of edicts hurts you. If your opponent lays a swamp and says go on
their first turn, cabal therapy, if they don't vamp in response name
vampiric tutor. You can take away there exhume, reanimate, or entomb, but
a vampiric will just reclaim their missing bit of the puzzle. Try not to
miss a land drop until you get to six or more land, so you can deed away
their fatties (visara or verdant force being the most common that they'll go
get). Attack with what you can, when you can, and get a monger down as
soon as you have a turn's respite. living wish for faceless butcher. Side
in planar voids and coffin purges. Without the edicts in your deck though,
I'd list this as an unfavorable match.

Final notes: I'd try to work more edicts into the deck, but it's still
strong without them. Playtesting will teach you what to
therapy/duress/vamp/wish for in what situations, there are too many to go
over here. Aside from that, disrupt their hand, deed their board, and
send with your critters.

If anyone thinks I'm an idiot, feel free to say so and tell me why, and if
someone knows what I'm doing wrong with the Kastle version of Rock, please
tell me that too, because I apparently just don't understand it.

Copyright 2001

Magic the Gathering is a Registered Trademark of Wizards of the Coast.
This site is not affiliated with Wizards of the Coast and is not an Official Site.