I went into the lab and started brewing up a spicy little number. I'll start by going over the cards I found for our new deck.
Augur of Skulls: I've always been a big fan of this card. I used to pick it very high in Limited, and I even tested it in conjunction with Saffi Eriksdotter for Nationals in 2007. It's the type of card that demands your opponent to use a removal spell or suffer card disadvantage. I want to maximize the probability of my Dream Salvage not being dead, so this seemed like a very reasonable addition.
Rise: Hymn to Tourach is probably on my top five list of all Magic cards ... ever. In a deck like this you can virtually guarantee that you get full value out of it. You simply wait until your opponent misses a land drop, and then you Fall them. Again, it will be extremely difficult for your opponent's to play around this card.
Geth's Grimoire: Here's where things get exciting. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea this card even existed. I didn't play too much during Mirrodin block, and this card probably got pushed out of my brain by Rage Forger or something. This caused my "Eureka!" moment.
Raven's Crime: I want to be able to do something with all the excess land I have after drawing millions of cards. Making my opponent discard more cards when they probably only have one or two may seem a little absurd, but I feel like Raven's Crime can absolutely guarantee that my Dream Salvage does something. It can also add a much-needed punch to make the Salvage better. Imagine this scenario: Turn two Augur of Skulls, turn three sacrifice my Augur, Raven's Crime my opponent twice, cast Dream Salvage, and draw four cards. This seems good, no?
Tombstalker: I wanted a nice and big fatty-boom-boom that I could close the game with. Tombstalker seemed like the best fit. This deck will end up with a lot of cards in the 'yard very fast, and Tombstalker seems like it's probably the best way to take advantage of this.
Lightning Bolt: The best one-mana spell in any non-Eternal format. Yes please! I want this deck to have enough removal to deal with whatever threats sneak under the barrage of discard. Lightning Bolt is certainly the best one-mana removal spell available in our colors.
Wretched Banquet and Doom Blade: More efficient removal seemed like it was in order. I like Wretched Banquet a lot and foresee it seeing a lot of play in creature-less control decks for years to come. Doom Blade is obviously an efficient and strong answer to something like Tarmogoyf or Knight of the Reliquary.
Sulfurous Springs: A lot of people may be surprised that I included a rare land in this week's deck. Building on a Budget hasn't usually been a home to these except in circumstances involving Mosswort Bridges or something like that. With the introduction of the new Magic 2010 lands, however, the old Ice Age and Apocalypse painlands are in less demand. Extended players will probably be clutching their new fetch lands and Ravnica block "shock lands" until someone pries them from their cold dead hands. This gives me an opening to play strong rare dual lands without breaking the bank. The only rare in this deck thus far is Tombstalker, so these really don't push the deck into the realm of unaffordable.
Here's what the deck looks like after we slop it all together.
That's actually pretty exciting. I took the deck to war against my friend's casual decks.
I win the roll and keep a very exciting hand: two Sulfurous Springs, two Swamp, Augur of Skulls, Rise, and Dream Salvage. I play a Swamp and pass the turn. My opponent plays an Island and passes. I cast Augur of Skulls and dodge the Spell Snare my opponent was representing. My opponent plays another Island and passes. During my upkeep, I sacrifice Augur of Skulls and my opponent discards two cards. I draw a Raven's Crime, play my Sulfurous Springs, and attempt to cast Rise. My opponent casts Rune Snag, and I cast Dream Salvage and draw Tombstalker and a Mountain. My opponent plays another land and passes the turn. I draw a Swamp, and he plays a Vendilion Clique, taking my Tombstalker. I draw another Dream Salvage, then cast Raven's Crime three times and cast Dream Salvage, drawing two Lightning Bolts and a Doom Blade. My opponent now has no cards in hand. He draws a card, attacks, and passes. I attempt to Lightning Bolt his Vendilion Clique, and he casts another Rune Snag. I cast Tombstalker and pass. I draw Geth's Grimoire the next turn, attack, cast the Grimoire, and pass. He draws a card and concedes.
I win the roll and keep two Mountain, Swamp, Rise, Lightning Bolt, Wretched Banquet, Tombstalker. I play a Mountain and pass the turn. My opponent casts a Birds of Paradise and passes the turn back to me. I use my Lightning Bolt to fry the Birds on his end step. I draw an Augur of Skulls, play it, and pass the turn. He plays a second land and casts Tarmogoyf. I Sacrifice my Augur during my upkeep, draw a Swamp, play it, Wretched Banquet the Tarmogoyf, and cast Fall. He reveals another Tarmogoyf and a Kitchen Finks. He draws for his turn and casts Thoughtseize, taking my Tombstalker. I draw Geth's Grimiore, cast it, and pass the turn. My opponent draws a third land and plays Kitchen Finks. I draw another Rise, cast it taking his last card, and draw a Wretched Banquet. He draws for his turn, attacks, and passes. I draw a Raven's Crime. I cast it, and my opponent discards Chameleon Colossus. I draw a Lightning Bolt. I decide to use the Bolt on his attack step to save some damage. He casts a Tarmogoyf after combat. (Must be nice to draw three!) I draw an Augur of Skulls and play it. My opponent attacks with both creatures, and I block the Finks with my Augur and regenerate. He bins his Finks and passes the turn. I sacrifice my Augur and take a Garruk out of his hand and draw into a Tombstalker, I draw a Raven's Crime for my turn. I get rid of the 'Goyf with Wretched Banquet and pass the turn. (I don't have another two black mana for my Tombstalker.) My opponent draws and casts a Birds of Paradise. I draw another Tombstalker and cast the first one, and he draws and passes. I draw a Swamp, play it and cast the Raven's Crime, and cast the second Tombstalker. I attack a few times, and the game ends.
The deck fared pretty well against my friend's casual decks, which are pretty good for the casual realm. I decided to take the deck to work in the tournament practice room on Magic Online for a round. Before I did this, I needed a sideboard. I definitely need something to bring in against Affinity, and I want to make sure my deck can deal with Vedalken Shackles. I decided that Shattering Spree was probably the best anti-artifact options. I wanted more spot removal for decks like Elves! so I decided a few Darkblast would also work well. Lastly, I wanted to prevent my opponents from doing something with the cards they discard, so I decided on a Relic of Progenitus. It may seem odd to include Relic in a deck with Tombstalker, but I can always cast my Tombstalker before I pop my Relic. Here's the finished sideboard:
I'm really happy I got to play against this archetype. It gives me an opportunity to praise one of the better PTQ players in the NYC area. Adam has been posting Top 8 finishes for the past few years, and his first PTQ win is probably due in the near future. He did very well last Extended season with a blue deck that eschewed cards like Spellstutter Sprite for creatures like Kitchen Finks and powerful spells like Cryptic Command.
I lose the roll and keep Swamp, Mountain, Lightning Bolt, Doom Blade, Wretched Banquet, Geth's Grimoire, Rise. My opponent plays a Breeding Pool tapped and passes the turn. I draw another Swamp, play a Mountain, and pass the turn. My opponent plays a fetch land and passes the turn back. I draw another Rise, play a Swamp, and pass the turn. My opponent thinks for a bit and gets another Breeding Pool. He misses his third land drop and passes the turn. I draw another Geth's Grimoire, play another Swamp, and attempt to cast Fall. My opponent has the Spell Snare. On his turn he draws a third land and plays a Kitchen Finks. I also draw a land, and I get to stick my Geth's Grimoire. My opponent casts a Tarmogoyf and passes the turn. I draw an Augur of Skulls, cast my Rise, draw a Tombstalker and another Doom Blade, and Doom Blade his Tarmogoyf. He draws for his turn and plays another Kitchen Finks, he attacks for another three and passes. I draw a Raven's Crime, play it, and draw a Swamp, I recast the Raven's Crime and draw another Lightning Bolt. My opponent attempts to attack, but I have the Bolt for each Finks. I draw another land and use it to make him discard his last card, a Sower of Temptation, I draw into a Sulfurous Springs, cast my Augur leaving regenerate mana open, and pass. He just passes. Eventually I draw a Tombstalker, and he concedes.
Sideboarding: -2 Doom Blade, -4 Geth's Grimoire, -2 Swamp, +4 Anathemancer, +4 Shattering Spree. I know the deck has Chrome Mox and Vedalken Shackles. The Shackles can pose a real problem if they stick underneath my barrage of discard. Some people may disagree with the sideboard plan, but I think an aggressive strategy is probably the best way to fight this deck after board.
I mulligan to five here and realize how weak this deck is on the mull. He comes out with a Kitchen Finks and has ample countermagic for all my answers. Once the board has settled he sticks a Tarmogoyf, and I can't get a removal spell through his countermagic. The game ends quickly and quietly.
I like my sideboarding plan, so I decided to stick with it on the play. I keep two Sulfurous Springs, Swamp, Anathemancer, Doom Blade, Shattering Spree, and Augur of Skulls. I play a Sulfurous Springs and pass. He plays a Hallowed Fountain and passes. I attempt to cast my Augur of Skulls, but he has the Spell Snare again. He follows it up with a Vedalken Shackles. I draw another Augur of Skulls and play it, along with my Shattering Spree. He plays another land and sticks a Tarmogoyf with two mana open. I make him discard two cards, so he only has two left. I draw a Raven's Crime and attempt to cast it. It goes, and he has one card left in his hand. I go for the Anathemancer, and he decides to use his Rune Snag. He draws another card, attacks with his gigantic 'Goyf, and passes. I draw another Swamp, cast Raven's Crime, and Doom Blade his Tarmogoyf. He draws a card and passes. I draw a Tombstalker and cast it. It sticks. The card in his hand ends up being a Sower of Temptation. I can't find another removal spell in the next two turns, and the game ends in his favor.
I really enjoyed playing this deck. If I was going to play it without budget constraints, I would probably splash green for Tarmogoyf and have a more reliable mana base. I think Geth's Grimoire is a fun card that will find its way into a lot of my casual decks in the future. Shoot me an email if you have any questions or want to see something in particular over the course of the next few weeks.