Passive Aggressive

The white-blue color combination is not really known for its aggressive capabilities, as aptly embodied by the Azorius guild. White and blue in combination are very good at controlling the game, to react to threats played by the opponent or opponents and they have done so with great success during the existence of the game.

It counters, it gains life, a typical white-blue control card

But playing a reactive game means you wait for the other(s) to do stuff and I’m not really good at that. I don’t want to react, but to proact, so to say. Does that mean I don’t have white-blue decks? Not at all! Today I present to you my latest white-blue deck, although it is not typically white-blue. I present to you Chimera Trip

UW Chimera Trip
4 Kor Skyfisher
3 Drake Familiar
4 Riptide Chimera
3 Heliod’s Pilgrim
1 Restoration Angel
1 Thassa, Deep-Dwelling
3 Oppressive Rays
3 Sky Tether
4 Favorable Winds
4 Momentary Blink
4 Staggering Insight
3 Reality Acid
4 Flooded Strand
3 Glacial Fortress
2 Nimbus Maze
1 Hallowed Fountain
7 Plains
6 Island

It might seem as a weird concoction of several ideas, and that is exactly what it is supposed to be! It started out as a deck based on white-blue Reality Acid decks using the Acid to remove opponents permanents. I played the controlling list a couple of times, but I thought it was kind of boring and I was not the only one. I played it once against my good friend Sem and afterwards he said the deck could use a win condition. He was right.

My original Reality Acid deck was good at controlling games, removing permanents by bouncing the Acid with Kor Skyfisher for example. Blinking the Skyfisher could bounce the Acid again, but this game plan is quite slow. And just removing permanents is not going to win games by itself. I decided the deck needed some beef. I was already playing Riptide Chimera, which is quite big for its cost and has some nice synergy with Reality Acid. The Chimera demands you return an enchantment to your hand every upkeep. If you control none, you must bounce the Chimera, being an enchantment itself. But in an enchantment-heavy deck it is quite a beatstick.

Problem: I played only two of them, so I was not guaranteed to draw them during a game or maybe only very late. Adding more Chimeras should increase my chances of drawing one. I already played four copies of Kor Skyfisher, a 2/3 flyer itself with the ability to bounce a permanent when you play it. Both the Chimera and the Skyfisher give quite some offensive power. 

To increase the aerial attack force I added three Drake Familiars. Not necessarily a great card, since it requires you to return an enchantment to your hand upon playing. Of course that could be a Reality Acid, but maybe I should play some more enchantments to further support it. 

Since I play some flyers now that are supposed to finish games for me, I thought about recent Azorius Flyers decks. Aggressive decks, capitalizing on flyers and pumping them with anthem effects like for example Favorable Winds. The Winds also happens to be an enchantment, so in it goes! Another nice, aggressive enchantment is Staggering Insight: it gives a nice permanent pump effect, a way to draw extra cards and gain extra life. Typically white-blue!

Besides the Reality Acid as removal, I need some control in the early game. My flyers need to connect to win the game. Also I’m still light on enchantments to offer support for Drake Familiar and Riptide Chimera. Now white has some cheap enchantments to deter enemy creatures from blocking, which is nice for my aggressive strategy. I chose to play Oppressive Rays and Sky Tether. They are cheap to play, so you can get them down early and they are cheap to replay after bouncing.

With a lot of auras in the deck, it is only natural to play some Heliod’s Pilgrim. It searches for Reality Acids or other auras if needed. It is also a nice blocker. There is not much more to say about it.

Momentary Blink is used to blink creatures that bounce enchantment, also a trick from Reality Acid decks. Also, it can protect my creatures at instant speed if my opponent tries to remove them. For the same reason I play one Restoration Angel. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling is also in the deck for blinking, but both the Angel and Thassa are quite expensive mana wise. The deck aims to bounce auras and replay them, which puts quite some pressure on your mana.

Because the deck needs quite some mana to run smoothly, I play 23 lands. Flooded Strand and Hallowed Fountain make sure you have easy access to both white and blue. They also work well with Nimbus Maze and Glacial Fortress. Of course some Plains and Islands and the deck is done. I can’t wait for the passive aggressive reactions when I play Reality Acid.

If you have ideas for this deck or just like the deck, let me know by sending an email to See you at the next sixty!

Harnessing Dryad Sligh

When I play Magic, I like to do things, make an impact on the board. Playing spells, laying down creatures, develop my mana. I don’t want to sit around and wait for someone else to do something, so I can respond to that. And because I like to do stuff during the games I play, I also like cards that reward me for doing things. Cards like this:

And such wonderful art!

The Dryad grows with every spells you play if it’s not a mono green spell. That is not too high of a hurdle to jump over! The Dryad has been successful in a number of decks, probably best known for its appearance in Miracle Gro decks of yore. However, I mostly know the Dryad from another deck, a deck I also built and hardly played. That deck is Dryad Sligh.

Dryad Sligh
4 Grim Lavamancer
4 Kird Ape
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Quirion Dryad
4 Slith Firewalker

4 Chain Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Seal of Fire
4 Incinerate
4 Magma Jet
4 Fireblast
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Taiga
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Stomping Ground
4 Mountain

Dryad Sligh is not very mysterious in what it is and what it does. It is Sligh, but with a playset of Quirion Dryads and the mana to support the green splash. Because the deck plays so much red spells and few lands, the Dryad grows fast and functions as a way to beat face quickly. The burn is mostly used to clear blockers out of the way, so the Dryad can attack unhindered.

I liked the in-your-face approach of the deck and if there’s an excuse to play Quirion Dryad, I’m in. It only doesn’t hold up that well in multiplayer. Sure, you can eliminate one opponent, but that costs most of your resources. By the time you get to that second and maybe even third opponent, you’re out of gas. But I think I have found solution:

Let me explain: Deeproot Champion is basically Quirion Dryad five to eight, with this distinction: it only grows with non-creature spells. That is no problem with a deck that mostly consists of burn spells anyways.

Guttersnipe does not grow with all your burn spells, but does extra damage to all players. This is a beneficial for a deck that wants to make burn viable in multiplayer. It is a little more expensive than the other threats in the deck, but that can be solved by playing extra lands. On top of that, multiplayer games usually develop a little slower than duals. There is no excuse to skip this card.

Harness the Storm might seem a weird addition, since it is not a threat in itself and costs quite much for this kind of deck. The Storm lets you play all your burn spells a second and sometimes even a third time when you play a copy of a spell already in your graveyard. Plus, the Storm has the extra benefit that spells you play from your graveyard are cast and not copied, thereby triggering Quirion Dryad, Deeproot Champion and Guttersnipe. Quite the tech in this deck. Here’s the list:

Harness Dryads and Champions
4 Deeproot Champion
4 Quirion Dryad
4 Guttersnipe

4 Crash Through
4 Flame Jab
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Desperate Ravings
4 Incinerate
4 Tormenting Voice
4 Harness the Storm
4 Karplusan Forest
4 Terramorphic Expanse
3 Evolving Wilds
3 Rootbound Crag
4 Mountain
1 Forest

With this deck I chose some other cards than the original deck played. That has mostly to do with the multiplayer setting I want to play this deck in. Sifting through the deck searching for the cards you need when you need them is very important. I’m playing a playset of Crash Through. Not only does it give my creatures trample (which the Dryad and Champion can really use when they have grown and might encounter a blocker), it also lets me draw a card. While this deck is different than Miracle Gro decks, it can use cantrips just as well as those kind of decks.  

Then there’s Tormenting Voice and Desperate Ravings. They both dig for the right cards and with a Harness the Storm in play and a copy in the graveyard, they can dig quite deep. That way you keep your hand full with threats.

Flame Jab serves multiple purposes. It can pick of small creatures for little mana, making way for a pumped up Dryad or Champion. By the way, it is a red, non-creature spell, so it helps grow them both. But, drumroll please, it also has retrace. That way you can ditch unnecessary lands to cast Flame Jab from your graveyard, growing Dryad or Champion again and triggering Guttersnipe over and over. That is some nice and needed resiliency for a multiplayer game. 

Sligh wouldn’t be Sligh without burn, so I directly transfer Lightning Bolt and Incinerate from the original list. These spells give the best mana to damage ratio with the possibility to choose between creatures and players.

Because I play eight three mana spells, I play more lands than the original list. I go up to twenty lands. I don’t have spare fetches or duals, so I need to make due with Terramorphic Expanses and Evolving Wilds as fetch. The deck thinning these cards provide is necessary to get the cards you need when you need them.

The only green cards in the deck are the Dryads and the Champions, so you need just one Forest and instead of Taiga’s and Stomping Ground I play Karplusan Forest (comes into play untapped) and Rootbound Crag (possibly comes into play untapped) as other green sources of mana.

That’s it, Dryad Sligh for multiplayer. I’m going to test this out and if you have any suggestions for this deck, let me know.

See you at the next sixty!

Starting of with… squirrels!

I feel the first entry on my Magic blog/site should be about the deck I have the longest. My first deck doesn’t exist anymore for a long time and at that time I didn’t write my decklists down. Only thing I do remember is that it was monogreen, had somewhere around 80 cards with only 15 to 20 lands and played as much Tarpans I could get (because that is obviously a good card…).

But soon I started dipping my toes in the Expert sets and I was in for a real treat. Urza’s Saga just came out and it had some interesting cards for a young aspiring green mage. I didn’t care for artifacts or Tolarian Academy, Priest of Titania stole my heart.

The priest only has nothing to do with squirrels and I kinda build some expectations with the title. So no need for an extensive historical exposition about what I played on a certain point in time, let’s get to the squirrelly goodness. And yet my love for squirrels start around that time and had a very specific cause:

And then I saw a decklist in an old Duelist (now an old Duelist, in august 1999 it was brand new) all revolving around the Hermit and the cool interactions with Barrin, Master Wizard, bouncing it and abusing the comes into play ability of the elf. This was the list:

Beware the Squirrels!
Creatures (23)Spells (16)Lands (21)
4 Elvish Herder
4 Cloud of Faeries
4 Priest of Titania
4 Raven Familiar
4 Deranged Hermit
2 Barrin, Master Wizard
1 Yavimaya Granger
2 Crop Rotation
4 Fertile Ground
4 Snap
2 Frantic Search
4 Stroke of Genius

4 Gaea’s Cradle
2 Thran Quarry
1 Treetop Village
9 Forest
5 Island

The elves! The combo’s! The amount of green in this deck! I liked it from the get-go, so I did my first investments in single cards to create this deck and the squirrels nested in my heart.

The original combo revolved around Deranged Hermit and Barrin, Master Wizard, but I did not really like that the ability of Barrin needed mana. I needed something else. For a while I used Astral Slide to make the Hermit jump in and out of play (more on that in a later deck tech), but still I was not satisfied. But then I realised that there was a card that could easily make the elf with his/her furry companions come into play. A card that existed for quite a while, even some longer than the hermit itself. That card was:

In 2003 a deck emerged around elves and another enchantment that sort of reanimated green creatures going to the graveyard called Elvish Succession (I can explain all the intricacies of the deck, but they are very well explained here: The deck is based around the card Verdant Succession, which works well with green creatures going to the graveyard. With several ways to sacrifice your green creatures, you can flood the board quickly.

Elvish Succession wants to start of with some cheap elves (Birchlore Rangers and Llanowar Elves preferably) to get the mana going. Wirewood Herald works well with both of these creatures in producing mana for the Succession, Hermit and in a later stage the sac outlets. When your graveyard is full with elves, find and sac the Elvish Soultiller, naming elves. Not only do you get the elves back, but also the Soultiller itself if you stack the triggers right. 

I found that the Rangers work well with creatures that just came into play. They do have summoning sickness, but you can tap them to the Rangers. Heritage Druid does something similar and so I chose to add them instead of Llanowar Elves. Rhys the Exiled, Diabolic Intent, Natural Order and Perilous Forays are sac outlets that the deck needs, because I don’t want to play Nantuko Husk and Angel of Despair (because out of flavor).

The Succession combined with Wirewood Herald makes for an interesting toolbox deck (did I already say that I like toolboxes?). I saw the possibilities when also combined with Deranged Hermit. I studied the Elvish Succession deck, added and removed some cards and came up with this deck:

Recurring Hermit
4 Birchlore Rangers
4 Heritage Druid
1 Essence Warden
1 Taunting Elf
4 Wirewood Herald
3 Elvish Visionary
3 Wirewood Hivemaster
2 Rhys the Exiled
3 Deranged Hermit
1 Elvish Soultiller
1 Crop Rotation
2 Diabolic Intent
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Recurring Nightmare
2 Natural Order
4 Verdant Succession
1 Perilous Forays
1 Biorhythm

4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Gaea’s Cradle
1 Grim Backwoods
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
7 Forest
3 Swamp

This is my current squirrel deck and I love it. The idea is to get elves into play that generate mana, play Verdant Succession followed by Deranged Hermit and wait till your next upkeep. The Hermit will die and look for a new one from your library. Hopefully you also have Recurring Nightmare by then and you can sac the Hermit to return the other Hermit and look for a third. That’s a lot of squirrels coming into play. Get out a Taunting Elf and the turn after you can attack for a lot. I even once got the god draw with a turn four Biorhythm.

That is the history of my squirrel deck. If you have any ideas or comments, I really like to hear them!