Feature: Hakuna Matata!

Posted in Event Coverage on April 19, 2007

By Tim Willoughby

Not just a wonderful phrase, the Wild Pair deck has made it to Pro Tour-Yokohama, and the Japanese players who are running it, including Naoki Shimizu, are rather hoping that it isn't just a passing phase. They have chosen to eschew the "Timon and Pumba" pairing of Verdeloth the Ancient and Krosan Tusker (due in no part to the fact that Pumba isn't in this block), and have a better plan.

Wild Pair

In the run-up to the Pro Tour, various builds of Wild Pair have been bandied around the internet as viable, with such exciting plans as flashing out Scryb Ranger to fetch Draining Whelks and Triskelevus and playing one Akroma to fetch the other. Exciting plans each, they fall foul of a couple of pitfalls. Essentially, Wild Pair decks feel like combo decks, but these ones don't really 'go off' in any large sense, and frequently end up reliant on the enchantment at the centre enough that they lose a little game without it. The red-green version could be seen as a 'big mana' deck, which gets up to large amounts of mana and then plays solid threats (including Wild Pair), but alas, in a format where white weenies are running rampant this plan doesn't seem to be fast enough.

In the face of what was once referred to in Japan as 'puchi-puchi deku' (literally, small or squashable decks), the Wild Pair plan needed to be streamlined such that the move from early to middle/late game was smoother, and that when the enchantment came down, it could just win the game in short order, rather than being a tool to slowly craft a win.

The method that Naoki and his teammates chose was with Slivers. These team players could provide ample beatdown potential if Wild Pair never showed up, and if the enchantment ever does come down… well…

I watched the tail end of a matchup against White Weenie where there were a lot of lands out, and not a great deal else, for our Wild Pair deck. Then the enchantment came down. All was well. Then out came Whitemane Lion. The lion quickly fetched a Dormant Sliver before jumping back to hand. A card was drawn off the Sliver. Then kitty said hello again, this time fetching Darkheart Sliver. Pretty soon there was a Necrotic Sliver, and a Might Sliver to make them all bigger. Telekinetic Sliver meant that everything on the opposing side of the board got tapped down. A second Might Sliver finished it off.

The scary thing about this deck is that sometimes that sort of thing just happens, and when it doesn't, there is still some very powerful beatdown going on. Harmonize draws it a lot of cards. Search for Tomorrow fixes its mana. Out of the board there are assorted Slivers and such to make various matchups miserable. Have you ever tried racing an Essence Sliver? It isn't fun.

It's wild.

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