Brains, Blood, and Flash Gordon – (Gatecrash Standard)
Yes, I managed to name my article without using “Crashing the Gate” or “Gate Crashing” like everybody else has for their new standard decks featuring Gatecrash cards. I have 3 decks for you today, and I think they are all lots of fun to play, and potentially powerful. I don’t know how the’ll do “in the wild” of FNM and other Magic tournaments, but you should definitely fire them up and try them out. First off, do you guys even KNOW Flash Gordon???
The movie is about a NFL quarterback that gets kidnapped by a mad scientist who takes them into space in order to save the world (sorry, UNIVERSE) from a megalomanic named Ming the Merciless. What made Flash Gordon watchable was the theme song by Queen, and some 80’s James Bond (Timothy Dalton was in it). I have a soft spot for these horrible movies, they are just fun to watch and to make fun of. So what does this have to do with Magic and today’s article?
Okay, maybe it’s related a little bit. The first part of the movie’s name is the theme of this deck: Flash. There are a total of 5 creatures you can flash in (2 of which give all of your green creatures flash), as well as 2 lands that give ALL your spells flash. Tricky against control, and also scary against other decks that have no idea what to expect.
|75 cards, 15 sideboard|
|2 Alchemist’s Refuge
2 Cavern of Souls
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Breeding Pool
3 Simic Charm
6 other spells
15 sideboard cards
At it’s core, it’s an aggro deck. It doesn’t get out of the gate that fast, but it has a devastating mid to late game. The most powerful card of the deck is Master Biomancer
He makes everybody into a beast when they come into play giving them +2/+2, and if you have 2 in play your creatures become monsters (they’ll get +6/+6 when they enter the battlefield). But what are you going to do one the first few turns? The first few turns take advantage of your Evolve creatures. Cloudfin Raptor will become a 1/2 whenever any other creature comes into play, and Experiment One lets you regenerate him by turn 3. Another one drop is Dryad Militant in order to give you another early Evolve trigger. Right off the bat you can see this is a strong, anti control deck. Any instant or sorcery is exiled after it’s cast with the Dryad in play, and regenerate is great against cards like Supreme Verdict on turn 4, especially since it can’t be countered.
By turn 3 you should have 3 mana in play, and hopefully you can keep evolving. Wolfir Avenger can be flashed in on turn 3 and will give all your Simic creatures +1/+1 again, and on turn 4 you can play a Master Biomancer or flash in a Yeva while blocking to kill your opponent’s attackers and AND evolve yours for next turn’s attack. This seems like it’s one of those decks that can run out of steam midgame, but Zameck Guildmages and Elvish Visionary should keep your hand full after turn 5, and with a Biomancer, pulling a 1/1 creature late in the game won’t be totally worthless. If you can get multiples on the field you’ll have some scary attackers/blockers that will also act as evolve triggers for your other creatures.
He’s some simple math for you: 1 Biomamcer = +2/+2 counters, 2 Biomancers = +4/+4 counters, 3 Biomancers = +8/+8 counters, and 4 Biomancers = +16/+16 counters. These are the amount of counters EACH Master Biomancer will give your creatures entering the battlfield. If you add it up, your Cloudfin Raptor could potentially enter as a 2/3, a 6/7, a 14/15, or a 30/31. It hurts my brain just to think about it (and I’m sorry if my math is wrong). Sure you will rarely get more than 2 on the battlefield at one time, but even then it’s impressive. Sure you’ll have to worry about Selesnya Charm, but can 4 of those stop 20+ creatures with power over 5? Things just get silly with this deck, and if you add a Rancor or cast a Simic Charm on your Biomancer before playing a creature they get even more counters.
I’m not totally sure if this is the best build for this deck yet, but it’s a start. It still needs a sideboard (Predator Ooze? Dissipate?), and there might be better creatures to use instead of Prime Speaker Zegana so you can keep your mana curve low. If you have any other suggestions, I’d like to hear them.
Yes I saw Eat. Pray. Love. Yes my girlfriend made me watch it with her. Yes I felt like eating my own brains as I watched it. Yes I think Julia Roberts is half zombie.
|Eat. Brains. Love|
|75 cards, 15 sideboard|
|4 Watery Grave
4 Drowned Catacomb
3 Nephalia Drownyard
|4 Dimir Charm
3 Mind Grind
4 Ultimate Price
4 Psychic Strike
2 Psychic Spiral
4 Think Twice
21 other spells
15 sideboard cards
My next idea for a deck focuses on Dimir’s mill ability. Mill can be powerful if you can shut down your opponent completely, and in a metagame filled with life gain and countless creatures, going straight for the heart is sometimes the best strategy. This means having enough counter spells, creature destruction, and other forms of removal in order to give you enough time to drain all of their power. We’ve all probably been milled by Jace, Memory Adept a few times in the last few months when playing against a control deck, and we thought that HE was a very efficient miller, but you haven’t seen anything yet. The mill cards in Gatecrash will have you saying goodbye to your library in the blink of an eye.
In this deck, everything mills. The sorceries mill, the counterspells mill, the planeswalkers mill, the lands mill, the removal mills, and of course there are instants that mill. I’m not totally sure if this is the best balance of kill and counter spells at the moment, but I think this is a good starting point. Under no situation should you EVER let yourself take damage in this deck (or at least drop below 12 life). You are going to counter and mill everything you can, and Augur of Bolas and Snapcaster will go a long way in helping you to do that. But with a 1/3 and 2/1 creature, you won’t be targeting their life total, at least not right away at least. The ringer in this deck is Undead Alchemist.
This guy suddenly gives all your zombies Milltouch. Whenever the deal damage to a player, they mill that many cards. In turn, whenever a creature is milled into the graveyard it gets EXILED (who said milling Frites players was a bad idea?), and then you get to put a 2/2 zombie token into play. In creature heavy aggro decks you could suddenly find yourself with 3-4 more zombies at the beginning of your turn because you countered them with Psychic Strike and used a Dimir Charm to put a land on top of their library instead of two creatures. This deck has tons of tricks up its sleeve.
For example, let’s say your cards are getting countered or destroyed and all you have is an Undead Alchemist in play. Your opponent attacks with 6 creatures and it seems like the end but in response you Psychic Spiral yourself for 15 cards, and mill your opponent for 15 cards. Each creature then becomes a 2/2 which you use to block, then on the next turn you attack with whomever is alive and mill them for more. It could be just four more cards, or it could be another 10. Jace schmace. Zombies can do it better. Add in Diregraft Captains to make that library disappear even faster and to give all of those zombies death touch so they can kill anything that attacks.
In the sideboard you can put in a Grisly Spectacle to punish players for using big creatures like Borborygmos, and Curse of Death’s Hold should help you against tokens and other 1 toughness creatures like Falkenrath Aristocrat, and Jace is in there for control match ups. I AM a little worried about life in this deck though, and might put in some Blood Artists instead of Diregraf Captains if that ends up being a weakness. I’m going to guess that the removal package will change from week to week depending on what kind of decks and creatures you are seeing the most of, but overall I think this could be a devastating deck. You might actually be able to race a lot of the more aggressive decks and have them milled out before they can get you anywhere close to lethal range. If you play this deck, let me know how it works out and what changes you made!
I’m no vampire but . . .
Blood can give you life as well as kill your opponent in the new metagame. Exquisite Blood that is.
|75 cards, 15 sideboard|
2 Seraph Sanctuary
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
2 Vault of the Archangel
|2 Exquisite Blood
1 Conjurer’s Closet
2 Blind Obedience
2 Immortal Servitude
4 Sign in Blood
15 other spells
15 sideboard cards
We all know how fast your life total can reach zero these days. Rakdos aggro, Selesnya aggro, BR zombies . . . these decks are all capable of killing you by turn 4. Pretty soon Naya and Boros decks will be doing the same thing. What’s a player to do? Get a life! That’s what!
The theme of this deck is life gain, but that in and by itself is never enough. You can gain all the life in the world but if you have no way to finish your opponent you’re just postponing the inevitable. But what if you could use your life as a weapon? No I’m not talking about phyrexian mana, that’s using it as more of a resource. No, what I’m talking about is what if you could deal damage to an opponent whenever you gained life, and what if you could do it without stopping until your opponent’s life was at 0? Is it event possible?
As previously mentioned in Nurgleprobe’s article a few weeks ago, with Vizkopa Guildmage you can. To those of you who are too lazy to click on the link I’ll explain it as simply as I can. First you need a Vizkopa Guildmage in play.
After that, you need an Exquisite Blood in play.
The next step is to deal damage to an opponent. Before damage is dealt, activate your Guildmage’s 2nd ability so that your opponent loses one life whenever you can life. Damage is dealt, and you gain that much life. The Guildmage’s trigger goes off and it causes your opponent to lose that much in life. In response to that, the Exquisite Blood trigger activates again, and in turn so does the Vizkopa Guildmage’s ability. There, in one second you just won the game ^_^. Sure you need 2 cards + 3 mana to accomplish this, but when you do it ‘s a site to behold.
The enchantment can always be destroyed or countered though, so it’s good to have a backup plan as well. That’s where our life gain friends come into play. Let’s see how they would interact with the Guildmage with the ability activated.
- Cathedral Sanctifier – you can life and deal 3 damage to your opponent
- Blind Obedience – whenever you cast a spell you gain 1 life and they lose 2 life.
- Rhox Faithmender – Bonus round! Damage Multiplier!!! He’ll double, quadruple, and then multiply the damage by 8 and finally 16. That means you could cast 1 Cathedral Sanctifier with three in play and with an activated Guildmage it would deal 24 damage as well as gain you 24 life. Weeee!!
Sure Skull Crack is a real card now, but they can only stop your life gain 4 times (8 with Snapcaster Mage). Board wipes such as Supreme Verdict are also troublesome, but with Immortal Servitude you can bring everybody back to the party and do it all over again. When designing this deck I tried to give it as many ways to gain life as possible. Fiend Hunter/Restoration Angel/Seraph’s Sanctuary is an infinite life combo I talked about before in my life gain decks before rotation. If you can infinitely blink them with the land in play, you win the game with infinite life. Sign in Blood is a great way to draw cards in this deck since life is no problem, and sometimes you don’t have to do anything at all to win. Simply playing a Obzedat, Ghost Council can win you the gain in some match ups.
I’m not sure what kind of match ups will give it problems, but as I start to play with this deck I’ll let you know how to tweak it. I’m sure the deck will need some removal and the sideboard is going to be redone as well eventually. But until then try it out!
That’s not all . . .
These are only my first 3 brews using Gatecrash cards. I have a lot more in the pipeline so as I complete more of them I’ll be sure to post them here. I’m off to play FNM and to try and get some good deals on cards on release day, so I wish you the best of luck this weekend. Next time I’ll be back to my “Bang for your Buck” articles, and next week I’ll be starting my “Impact on the Metagame” articles for Gatecrash. February is going to be very busy and there is going to be A LOT of content going up both here and at 60cards.com, so be sure to check it out!