A Magic: the Gathering blog by and for the janky combo casual players alienated in a world of netdecking millionaires.

I value inexpensive (kinda) decks outside of the meta because I am cheap and easily bored.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Magic the Mathering - The Bad Deck Format

The Bad Deck Format.

Have you ever bemoaned pulling some truly terrible cards from your boosters? Condemned to a life of never being included in a deck, or even in the sideboard of an experimental deck? Ultimately they are used as coasters or simply take up space in your boxes. We’ve all been there.

However, salvation is now at hand! I present to you the BAD DECK format! The chance to give those abominable cards their moment in the spotlight.

The Rules: A bit prescriptive and with my apologies, a bit LONG, but they are really there to make sure that games are fun and have a chance of getting a winner.

It's really a format for casual games/tournaments, I don't recommend making it too competitive. The idea is to allow your oft maligned card a shot at being in the spotlight and collectively laugh at some of the terrible cards and admire the genius ways in which people use these terrible cards to poorly interact with each other to conspire to lose the game for their opponents.

The point of the bad deck therefore is that you give it to your opponent to use and because it is so heinously bad, your opponent cannot possibly win, allowing you to win with their (hopefully) slightly less bad deck. 

Deck Construction

Mana and Duplicate requirements

Decks are constructed with exactly 60 cards, between 20 and 25 lands and no sideboard.

Each card, with the exception of basic lands, can only appear in your deck once.

If you include a white card, the deck must have at least 4 plains.
Include a blue card and the deck must have at least 4 islands
Include a black card and the deck must have at least 4 swamps
Include a red card and the deck must have at least 4 mountains
Include a green card and the deck must have at least 4 forests

There is no requirement to run all five colours.

Cards that have two or more different mana symbols count as all colours represented, include an Ebony Treefolk and you need both 4 forests and 4 swamps

For split and hybrid mana cards, owing to their versatility you may choose one side of the card/one colour of the card to count as the card in your deck. The vast majority of decks are five colour for maximum mana screw so it's not usually an issue, but if you have Fire/Ice you must include at least 4 islands OR 4 mountains. If you include Unmake you must include 4 plains OR 4 swamps.

Creature Requirements

The deck must include creatures with a total power of at least 35 and with no upper limit. This must also include at least TWELVE creatures but can be more.

Creatures with defender can be included in your decks, but they do not count towards your total power. Include a Wall of Swords (power 3) and you still need creatures totaling power 35, not 32.

Legal Casting Requirements

Underhanded tactics are welcome and indeed encouraged but everything has to be “legal” and “useable” at least in the technical sense of the word. You can’t just pick creatures that the deck is unable to get around their restrictions in attacking. The games need to finish after all! As long as the capability is there you should be fine.

“Legal” Is fairly simple.

Each spell must be possible to cast, as well as possible to pay any mana-based upkeep costs at least once, using the lands you have in the deck. I think the basic lands requirement pretty much covers this but there are exceptions.

“Legal” Casting Example:

If you play a Khalni Hydra in the deck (Casting cost of: GGGGGGGG) you need to include eight forests in your deck. If you make that the only green creature card in the deck you are also an evil genius.

“Legal” Upkeep Examples:

Spells that have regular or cumulative upkeep for colourless mana are no problem, likewise things with upkeep requiring you to pay life or sacrifice permanents are also fine.

Cover of Winter has cumulative upkeep {s} (one mana from a snow permanent.) Now we’re talking! There is no problem including this card providing there are at least four plains in the deck (the requirement of including a white card) and one snow land in the deck (to pay the mana-based upkeep at least once.)

In this case, three normal plains and one snow plains is enough to meet both of the requirements.

Useability Requirements

“Useable” Is a little more complex and mostly relates to the creatures and their restrictions in attacking because the creatures and working around their uselessness are how you win games. It just makes sure that the games come to a conclusion by having creatures actually be able to attack, however sporadically.

Useable example 1:
Blind-Spot Giant can't attack or block unless you control another giant. Therefore your bad deck MUST include some way to get a second giant creature on the battlefield or the card is not “useable.” You could literally use another giant creature, or you can get creative, by using a changeling for example, which is every creature type. That is a little bit powerful though.

Other ways that are technically “useable” are; including an Imagecrafter, which can tap to make one of your creatures any creature type that you like. But that’s every turn and therefore reliable. The pro Bad Deck builder might instead run a Trickery Charm. Using the “target creature becomes the creature type of your choice until end of turn” option to target a second creature they control.

This would mean the giant could only attack once, on the turn that you use your trickery charm on another one of your creatures to turn it into a giant.


Useable Example 2:
Scarred Puma has an ability that says it can't attack unless a black or green creature also attacks. Therefore, your Bad Deck MUST include one black or green creature that can attack, or else the card is not “useable.”

The sneaky bad deck player might make the only other green or black creature a Reiver Demon and then trollface as the Reiver destroys their precious Puma as it comes in to play.

To get around the fact that casting a Reiver Demon in a format like this is probably enough to win you the game the canny Bad Deck player would likely only include 4 swamps in the entire deck and pray swamp 4 is near the bottom.


Thus the Bad Deck format is defined.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Magic the Mathering - Pauper - The Phil Collins Deck

Pauper Tournament then, commons only, with Cranial Plating, Empty the Warrens, Frantic Search, Grapeshot, Invigorate all banned.

Even looking at the banned list and seeing Invigorate there I thought infect was looking strong, especially with storm weakened. I decided that as I had the cards anyway I'd take a cheeky shot with the New Phyrexians and see if I couldn't poison my way to a win or two.

The Deck: They Call Him The Phil Collins - Mono G Infect 

Creature (16)

4x Glistener Elf
4x Blight Mamba
4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Rot Wolf

My win condition is 10 poison counters. Which led me to one word. Trample. Sadly not much in the way of pauper infecting tramplers so I'd have to cross that bridge when I got to it. For now I had to decide on my poison counter delivery vectors. The three obvious choices were the same as every infect deck ever built ever. All solid one and two drops.

I think this guy is my favourite. The synergy with rancor is immense, let him through for three or block him, lose a creature and let him through for four :-)
Four of each of those in the deck had me with 12 creatures, which I didn't feel (and after some research the internet told me) wasn't enough. I dipped into common green/artifact infect creatues and narrowed it down to three options. Rot Wolf, Cystbearer and Blightwidow.

Dat card draw. My biggest weakness. Rot wolf had to be in the deck

In the end I decided that the card drawing capabilities that a player with no other choice but to block rot wolf would be more valuable that a creature with reach or an extra toughness. In addition against the Blightwidow I knew I was skating close to the line on my mana base at 16 lands and CMC of 3 vs 4 meant it wasn't really a decision to make.

Instant (24)

4x Hornet Sting
4x Predators Strike
4x Hunger of the Howlpack
4x Rangers Guile
3x Mutagenic Growth
4x Giant Growth
1x Vines of Vastwood

Enchantment (3)

3x Rancor 
The. Fuck? How do I only own one vines of vastwood, and no groundswells?

So the idea behind the non creatures is essentially to keep my creatures alive in their turn and pump up to ten poisons in mine.

After deciding way back up there that Trample is the answer to every question regarding the effectiveness of the deck. I wanted to focus on obliterating chump blockers, which slow the deck down by quite a bit and instead get the poison clock ticking by attacking!

If my glistener elf gets blocked by a 1/1 and I have to pump giant growth to keep them alive it's three points of damage wasted. Predator's strike however for the heady price of one extra mana keeps her alive and a my opponent get a bonus three poison counters. Four Predator's Strike in. Also pulled apart every single green deck I owned to find the three Rancor that I own. Rancor is the evil glue that hold the deck together. Recursion is a bitch, three included automatically. Would have been four in the deck, except all my M13 pulls were crap.

Next my attention turned to keeping my creatures alive I really, really wanted the versatile Vines of Vastwood, protection and pump all in one glorious spell, but I only owned one. It went in anyway. I did however own about a million ranger's guile. Which does the same thing, it's basically a counterspell only it lasts all turn. Also included were four Hornet Stings to pop sneaky looking creatures before they could be declared blockers and the ubiquitous giant growth. 1 mana for three poison counters? Sure, why not?

This left me with a couple of slots open Hunger of the Howlpack was really in there as a bully card in a mirror match against other infect decks, or where creatures are likely to die, the -1/-1 counters of other infect decks could be offset somewhat and it would give me the advantage in theory. The final card in the instants and enchantments block is Mutagenic Growth. The ability to use it against early turn removal (tragic slip, piracy charm et al) after I tap out to play my creatures is too good to pass up. Also it means your opponent can over think things. "He's tapped out, but he can still play that other spell for two life..."

Artifact (1)

1x Lotus Petal

After all that was said and done I had one space left where my fourth rancor should have been. Which I used to get a lotus petal. Speed and fuel for pump spells. I love it.

Enchantment (3)

3x Rancor

Instant (24)

4x Hornet Sting
4x Predators Strike
4x Hunger of the Howlpack
4x Rangers Guile
3x Mutagenic Growth
4x Giant Growth
1x Vines of Vastwood

Artifact (1)

1x Lotus Petal

Creature (16)

4x Glistener Elf
4x Blight Mamba
4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Rot Wolf

Land (16)

16x Forest

Sideboard (15)

4x Fog
4x Titanic Growth
1x Explore
2x Viridian Longbow
2x Ferocious Charge
2x Corpse Cur

This deck went 6-1 in a double elimination tournament, enough to earn me first place. Hooray! As for sideboarding vs specific threats. I would just concentrate on your own game and practice the art of the mulligan and the art of patience. You don't have to play a creature on turn one if you think your opponent is playing a lot of removal. Wait, and save your mana for the Vines of Vastwood or Ranger's Guile. Hornet Stings turned out to be crap though.

Vs everything
-4 hornet sting
+4 fog.

Nothing like watching your opponent throw an arm full of cards at you only to have you prevent all the damage and leave them with a load of tapped creatures. If I was making the deck again with the patience to get more cards I'd change as follows.

-4 Hornet stings

+3 Vines of Vastwood
+1 Rancor

My play of the tournament was as follows.

My turn one: Forest, Lotus Petal, Tap forest for green, play Glistener Elf, Sacrifice Lotus Petal for green, play Rancor. Pass turn.

Their turn one: Swamp, pass turn

My turn two: Forest, Rancor, Giant Growth, Pay 2 life, Mutagenic Growth swing for 10. GG

Screw invigorate, ban the infect keyword!