Off the Beaten Path

Posted in Event Coverage on January 4, 2003

By Ben Bleiweiss

With the established metagame of Rock/Red Deck Wins/Psychatog/Oath and U/G Madness, new decks emerge to jockey for position. Here are some rogue decks which did well the first day of GP New Orleans.

1) Flagpole Opposition

Successfully run by James Stroud, Dave Williams, and Bob Maher, Flagpole Opposition comes from the mind of Mr. Stroud himself. A few months back, he sold all of his Magic cards and looked to get out of the game for good. Well, we all know how that goes, and a few months later Dave was dragging James to PTQs. The only cards James kept were ones that were autographed or foil, which included Tradewind Riders, Llanowar Elves, and Birds of Paradise. James built a deck based around these cards.

Originally, the deck contained more spells, but slowly more and more creatures worked their way into the mix. Living Wish gave the deck a little more versatility, while the combination of Gilded Drake/Waterfront Bouncer/Tradewind Rider works with Opposition and Deranged Hermit to give the deck multiple ways to win. Both James and Dave have used this deck to qualify for Venice at PTQs, though James admits that with the rise of U/G decks, the main nemesis of the deck has suddenly become Spellbane Centaur. He thinks that the deck could easily be retooled with Flametongue Kavu and/or Fire/Ice to combat this 3/2 creature.

Ken Krouner built a similar version of the deck, which ended up being played by Matt Linde. Matt started 3-0, but lost the last couple of rounds for the sole reason that he lacked Bone Shredder in his sideboard. His version played with black for Cabal Therapy and creatures which could be Living Wished for—Ken himself used the deck to win a Gateway tournament and earn himself a third bye.

Flagpole Opposition

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B/U/G Flagpole

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2) W/G Oath:

*Correction* W/G Oath owes its history in part to an ancient design by Randy Buehler, and then being resurrected by Mike Long. John Mahon played the deck at a High Point PTQ, where James Lucy and Derrick Sheets got their hands on it. Sheets revamped the decklist to the point where it is today, and handed it off to Lucy. *Correction*

Derrick Sheets won the Gateway the night before Grand Prix New Orleans using this White based Oath of Druids decks. It originated from James Lucy in North Carolina, though Derrick and James tweaked it for a couple of weeks. It features a ton of card advantage cards, including Wrath of God, Armageddon, Oath of Druids and Mulch. Derrick couldn't stress enough how good Mulch was in the deck—with twenty-eight lands in the deck, he would often get 2-3 cards (more if set up with Scroll Rack).

Also of note is the white build. Derrick felt that often the key card for Oath against aggressive decks such as Sligh or U/G madness decks is the Oath itself. While other decks might use Intuition/Accumulated Knowledge engine to gain card advantage, they are often dead to an Onslaught of Mongrels, Piledrivers or Jackal Pups. With an Enlightened Tutor based deck, there are eight opportunities to make sure you're getting an essential turn two Oath.

G/W Oath

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3) Wildfire

Andrew Harrington based this deck around the Wildfire deck Kai used to win Worlds just a couple of years ago. He added in Burning Wish to take advantage of a vast sideboard repertoire. With twenty-four main deck threats and explosive potential, the Wildfire deck held its own the entire day. Often it would drop a first turn Masticore, second turn Covetous Dragon, and then blow up the world on the third turn with Wildfire to seal the game. It could drop down a first turn Defense Grid which played as an auto-win against Oath and Tog, and the uncounterable Urza's Rage won matches against Psychatog, Oath, and U/G Madness.


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4) Mono Black Monsters

Vedran came to visit his brother in New Orleans all the way from Mississippi. A more casual player, he nonetheless held up fairly well at Grand Prix New Orleans even though, in his words "I don't own many cards past Urza's Saga". He said that his favorite combo in the deck was Ostracize/Reanimate, allowing him to nab many a large creature from his opponent's hand.

Mono Black Monsters

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