Wizards of the Coast is out of the office for the Labor Day holiday and will return with new content beginning Tuesday, September 4th. However, despite the holiday we've got the latest installment of the Planeswalkers minisite up for your viewing pleasure, and I think it's safe to say that this is one you definitely don't want to miss out on.
In case you missed it, what follows is the article that ran in this slot last week. Enjoy the minisite preview and we'll see you tomorrow!
- Scott Johns, magicthegathering.com Site Manager
|Dragon Wars! In this five part series, Ben builds a Standard-legal deck around each of the five Planar Chaos Legendary Dragons.|
I am back in town, moved in, happily married, and therefore able to get back to responding to most posts made in the forums of my articles—check out last week's forum thread (around post 50 or so) for my (8-page in Word) reply to your thoughts, feelings, and opinions!
There were many paths I could take when building an Oros deck. Oros's triggered ability allows you to deal 3 damage to all non-white creatures in play—essentially, allowing you to hit everything on the board with a Sunlance. In order to make Oros's ability relevant, there need to be creatures on the board. If there are no other creatures in play, Oros is basically a 6/6 flyer with no abilities.
I took a look at the list of white, black, red, artifact, and land cards available in Standard right now (including gold and hybrid cards that contain white, black and red). There were a huge number of ideas that I came up with for potential Oros builds for this week's column. This is going to be an exercise in brainstorming—I ended up with two vastly different decks by the time I get around to playtesting, but I imagine that many other people might be inspired for different decks based on what is contained below.
Oros, the Avenger
Self-explanatory. He's the guy we're building the deck around. Remember, in order for Oros to be worthwhile, we need to be able to deal 3 damage to non-white creatures in play.
In order to shore up the defenses in the early game, I considered making a build around white's defender creatures. This was especially true for Wakestone Gargoyle / Wall of Swords, both of which are pretty beefy flyers for their power/toughness. In the end, I decided not to go with this theme—it felt too much like a Rolling Stones / Wakestone Gargoyle build for a deck, and not enough like an Oros deck. I did keep Stuffy Doll in mind, though—it works particularly well with Oros, since it turns each Oros strike into nine damage instead of six.
Angel's Grace, Chant of Vitu-Ghazi, Chronomantic Escape, Darkness, Dawn Charm, Haazda Shield Mate, Holy Day, Kjeldoran Royal Guard, Master Warcraft, Platinum Angel, Revenant Patriarch, Seht's Tiger, Story Circle, Weathered Bodyguards
Each of these cards either prevents damage, combat damage, or creatures from attacking for a turn. What better way to make Oros relevant than to have your opponent ineffectually keep creatures on the board, only to have Oros wipe them all away in one fell swoop? While Platinum Angel isn't a budget card, most of the other rares on this list go for half a ticket (Seht's Tiger, Story Circle) or less (Haazda Shield Mate, Weathered Bodyguards) online, so this was definitely an option for the budget route—and it would make Oros's ability useful instead of extraneous.
I decided not to go with the protection from white theme for the same reason I decided to ignore White Weenie—if the focus of my deck is attacking with small-to-medium creatures for the sake of bashing my opponent down from 20 to 0 as quick as possible, there are better choices as a finisher than Oros. Why play Blood Knight, Riftmarked Knight, Stromgald Crusader, and Wildfire Emissary with Oros instead of playing Knight of the Holy Nimbus, Duskrider Peregrine, White Shield Crusader, and Calciderm, with Adarkar Valkyrie as a finisher? The latter deck has much fewer color issues, and is equally as potent (at the least) as an offensive threat. I didn't want the Oros deck to be White Weenie (or protection-from-white weenie) with Oros thrown in.
Blaze, Condemn, Disintegrate, Faith's Fetters, Icy Manipulator, Lightning Helix, Mortify, Porphyry Nodes, Pyroclasm, Saltblast, Sunlance, Temporal Isolation, Tendrils of Agony, Terror, Windborn Muse, Wrecking Ball
These were the major creature-control cards in red, white and black that were budget-worthy (sorry, no Wrath of God or Damnation or Demonfire!). While I wouldn't want to load up on a ridiculous amount of removal in an Oros deck (what good is Oros if I've already killed every creature my opponent drops before Oros hits the board?), spot removal is never a bad thing for a deck that's relying on a six-drop creature to win the game.
One thought I had—what if Oros needs to deal with creatures that have a higher-than-three toughness? The above five cards are all ways for Oros to directly deal extra damage to creatures. Furnace of Rath lets Oros strike for 12 and deal 6 to each creature, whereas the other four cards all allow Oros to have his triggered ability paid for twice via double strike or multiple combat phases. The only probem is that the cheapest this would cost is eight ( to activate Oros twice, for Psychotic Fury), so this is not a good early-game or cost-efficient option. Still, having one or two of these cards in the deck—just in case—seemed like a good idea. This was especially true in the cast of Sunhome, which could be used repeatedly, and could also double as a land for a deck's mana count.
Aura of Silence, Disenchant, Hide
See the creature removal, above, but for other card types. The last thing I want is for Oros to be locked down by a Pacifism or Faith's Fetters—in any deck, he's going to be the main win condition, and I don't want to have to waste a removal spell removing a neutralized Oros so I can play a second one—I just want to remove their removal spell with my removal for their removal removing my threat.
Spot removal for the hand. Is it can be safe time for Oros to come out pls?
If Oros is truly "The Avenger," what is he avenging? Why quite possibly, dead creatures! Lots of dead creatures—Fanatics and Martyrs and Rusalksa, oh my! Heck, throw Children of Korlis into the mix, and he's avenging the Children as well. Do it for the children, Oros! (This ended up being the basis for the main build of my second Oros deck this week).
More for use with Turbo-Fog, because if I can neutralize all attack phases, the number of cards my opponent has doesn't matter.
I wanted to go with the big life gain effects here, not the small ones.
Each of these had some sort of utility use, so I didn't want to discount them entirely from my deckbuilding considerations. For instance, the Magi of the Moat and Tabernacle could stall my opponent long enough to make Oros matter, much like the Fog effects above—the same for Fortune Thief (although Oros would kill him). Blazing Archon was probably out of consideration—why would I play both him and Oros, if they are so close in effect to each other?
The first two cards could turn my creatures white, making them immune to Oros's triggered 3 damage. The second could keep my creatures from being damaged from Oros's damage if they weren't white to begin with. All three seemed to be more work than they were worth. There are plenty of white creatures that are worth using with Oros anyhow, so why bother putting in cards to make my creatures white (and waste a slot of precious deck building space) instead of just using white creatures, or creatures large enough to survive Oros to begin with?
Of course, you are welcome to post your Celestial Dawn / Oros builds on the forums—if someone makes this work well, I'd love to see your deck!
It wasn't likely that I would use the Encampment or the Pool because the deck was probably going to be mostly white, but Forbidding Watchtower was certainly possible.
In the end, the first build I decided to go with was a Turbo-Fog build—throw in a lot of Fog effects and effects that keep the opponent from attacking, add in card-drawing spells, and let Oros take away the board once the opponent was stalled out on the board.
In: 4 Oros, the Avenger
Remember, Seht's Tiger gives you protection from a color. This is good not just for stopping targeted spells, but for preventing all damage from that color for the turn. For instance, if you are being attacked by five red creatures, and you play Seht's Tiger naming red, it will prevent all damage to you from all five of those creatures.
Icy Manipulator and Story Circle seemed like great complements to Fog effects, to force your opponent to over-commit creatures or resources to the board. Otherwise, they could play out one to two creatures at a time in an attempt to force Fog effects out of your hand early.
Game 1: Regulus43 (Mono-Red Burn)
Note: Need life gain! While I am able to stop his creatures early, his burn does me in. I have no way to get above my starting life total, so I need either ways to stop burn (True Believer, Imperial Mask) or ways to gain life.
Game 2: Skeletonarmy (Mono-Red Burn)
He gets down Ornithopter with Fire Whip, Stuffy Doll, and a bunch of haste creatures. I keep any of his creatures from ever attacking, but he pings me quite a few turns in a row. Then, he plays Shivan Meteor on his Stuffy Doll and kills me.
His board? Mesa Enchantress, Rootwater Matriarch, Oros, the Avenger (mine) with Ophidian Eye on it, Story Circle (set to white), Cho-Manno with Pariah, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, and an Azorius Herald with Auramancer's Guise, Pentarch Ward (set to red), and Griffin Guide. My board? Double Howling Mine and triple Chronomantic Escape. He has no countermagic, and I Hide him to see that he has no way to reshuffle his deck, stop my Escapes, or deal direct damage to me. He concedes in the face of decking.
I decided to stop trying out the Turbo-Fog build of Oros right there. First, it was boring to both play with and play against—I want to build a fun deck that wins, and this one was a chore to play. Secondly, the only way I could win was if A) my opponent had no removal for Oros, B) my opponent had no land destruction, hand destruction, or countermagic, C) my opponent couldn't deal any direct damage, and D) my opponent's deck had no creatures to play on the first two turns. In short, the deck was just plain bad against everyone! I could have tweaked this further (please feel free to do so for the forums), but it didn't seem like a fun deck for a Dragon War!
My second Oros build was much better. It was built around the Avenging theme—lots of one-drop creatures that sacrifice themselves, Proclamation of Rebirth to bring them back, and Oros to avenge them once and for all!
In: 4 Oros, the Avenger
Avenge the Goblins, Children, and Martyrs, Oros!
A touch of creature removal, artifact / enchantment removal, hand destruction, and board stall. Plus, Stuffy Doll is only 1 to 1.5 tickets online right now—a great price for a card with many uses in many decks that want to stall!
Stuffy Doll: 1.5 Tickets
Game 1: Mieyebo (Blue-White Linessa)
I get stuck with never being able to hard-cast my red spells thanks to his bounce, so I want to have the option to play and immediately tap a mana source for red mana.
Game 2: Vulpecula (Black-Blue Card Advantage)
He gets triple Ravenous Rats and double Phyrexian Rager. I Castigate out Aeon Chronicler and stall his offense with Mogg Fanatic, Martyr of Sands, and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion (which turns my 1/1s into decent blockers). I then get Stuffy Doll, start giving his Ragers double strike on the attack to deal 5 a turn to him (4 from his own Rager, one from Stuffy Doll's tap ability). I finally get down Oros, with him at 6 life. He plays Tendrils of Corruption on Oros to gain 4 (bringing him to 10), but Oros hits him for 6, hits my own Stuff Doll for 3, and allows me to tap Stuffy Doll for the win.
Game 3: verystrait42 (Slivers)
I get stuck at three lands and a signet, and he gets out double Virulent Sliver, Frenetic Sliver, Firewake Sliver, Screeching Sliver and Telekinetic Sliver. I concede in the face of being poisoned to death after having all of my permanents locked down.
He gets double Bogardan Hellkite, double Lightning Angel (one with Loxodon Warhammer), and Faerie Conclave. I get Proclamation of Rebirth going with Martyr of Sands, building up to the point where I could have enough mana to Proclamation, activate my Martyr (holding seven white cards), and drop Oros all in the same turn. He concedes out of boredom before we get to that point.
Game 5: Darkenraven (Red-Green Beats)
I get down Stuffy Doll, and stall on five mana-producing lands plus an Arena. He gets Spectral Force, Sporesower Thallid (with a Verdant Embrace) and an ever-increasing Thallid army. However, thanks to a couple of early hits, a Hide taking a Greater Gargadon out of his deck, and a little direct damage courtesy of Lightning Helix, Stuffy Doll does 17 out of the 20 damage I dealt him.
I'm having some mana problems still, and Children of Korlis have been less-than-impressive. I take out the Forbidding Watchtower for Terramorphic Expanse and a Swamp, and bring in three Mortifys as additional removal.
Game 6: CyanCyde (Boros)
I keep a hand with five lands, Oros, and Proclamation of Rebirth. He plays Boros Recruit, Keldon Marauders, Keldon Marauders plus suspend Rift Bolt, and Incinerate in his first four turns. I draw a second Oros, a second Proclamation, and two lands. He kills me so quickly that my head spins round.
(Why I shouldn't have kept this hand...)
Game 7: Yaaarh... (Izzet)
Yaaarh... is from France, and so we have a nice conversation via the Altavista Babelfish translator (with me speaking in French). He gets down an early Wee Dragonauts and suspends Greater Gargadon. I play down a Boros and an Orzhov Signet and drop Stuffy Doll to the table. I answer his Gelectrode with Mogg Fanatic and drop Martyr of Sands. He plays Seal of Fire to kill it, but I sacrifice in response to his sacrifice to gain 9 life, revealing Mortify, Lightning Helix, and Oros.
He throws Psionic Blast at my head, and in response I kill his flyer with my Helix. I answer a second Gelectrode with Mortify and play a second Stuffy Doll to the table. This is followed by Oros, who swings for 12 in a single turn (6 plus 3 damage to each of two Stuffy Dolls) to win the game.
He drops Festering Goblin and follows it with Lord of the Undead. I Lightning HelixLord of the Undead, and drop Martyr of Sands. He casts a second Lord of the Undead and a second Festering Goblin, and starts swinging in. He brings back the first Lord of the Undead with the second one just as I drop back-to-back Stuffy Dolls.
He then proceeds to swing for 6 a turn against my 8 a turn (he has four 3/3s, and I have two Stuffy Dolls), but he has double Consume Spirit to do 12 to my head. Thankfully, Martyr of Sands gains me 12 life on my first sacrifice, and I hard-cast a Proclamation (I was stuck on five mana) to bring it back for another 12 life after his first Consume Spirit. This buys me all the time I need to kill him with double Stuffy Doll action. I win this game, even though I never drew any black mana sources for one of the two Oros in my hand.
Game 9: Matt_Sturgeon (Green-White Aggro)
He gets down Birds of Paradise, Watchwolf and Loaming Shaman. I kill Watchwolf with Lightning Helix, drop Stuffy Doll, and begin gaining 18 life a turn with Proclamation of Rebirth and Martyr of Sands. He concedes when I'm nearing 100 life.
Game 10: mrclover (Black/Blue Dralnu Control)
I get him down to four with Oros and Martyr of Sands, but he slowly wrests control back from me with double Riftwing Cloudskate, followed by bounce and discard, and topping it off with Stinkweed Imp and Dralnu. He drops Paradise Plume and plays a bunch of blue spells, taking him out of potential burn range quickly, so I can't finish him with Lightning Helix and Mogg Fanatic late game.
This deck definitely can fight—it has removal, life gain, a huge beating Dragon that combos well with Stuffy Doll, and lots of stall—but in a way that is more fun than just playing fog / fog / fog all game long. How will Oros fare in the Dragon War? We'll find out in two weeks—until then, see you in the forums of this article, and then see you next week for the last of our Planar Chaos dragon decks.
Next week: Vorosh, the Hunter