Gateway Deck Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on January 17, 2003

By Ben Bleiweiss

The one hundred and fifty five competitors at the PT Chicago Masters gateway played twenty-eight different decks. Here are the tallies of the decks played, and a brief explanation of each.

Control Decks: 50 Total

These decks are the ones that like to stall, draw cards, kill opposing creatures, and eventually win after seizing control of the game. They may not beat down or dazzle with their speed, but they live by the motto 'slow and steady wins the day.'

  1. Psychatog (23): Good old Psychatog. Back down to two colors (blue and black), Psychatog wins by getting a ton of cards into the hand and graveyard with Deep Analysis, counter magic, and creature kill cards. Eventually, the tog player has enough cards to win in a single swing.
  2. Mono Black Control (15): Cabal Coffers fuels the black control deck, which relies on a ton of creature kill including Smother, Chainer's Edict, Innocent Blood and Mutilate, to delay long enough for one of three or four win conditions: Corrupt backed by Mirari, Visara the Dreadful, Riptide Replicator, or a miscellaneous other creatures (often Undead Gladiator or Nantuko Shade).
  3. Zombie Upheaval (9): Basically the same deck as Psychatog, but reliant on the combination of Zombie Infestation and Upheaval as the win condition.
  4. B/U/W Control (2): A hodge-podge of a deck, trying to pack Wrath of God into what otherwise would be a Psychatog or Mobilization deck. Not for the faint of heart.
  5. U/W Control (1): Mobilization wins the day backed by counterspells and Wrath of God.

Madness Decks: 35 Total

Wild Mongrel
Torment introduced the madness mechanic to Magic, and immediately players picked up on the synergy of playing Wild Mongrel plus Basking Rootwalla/Arrogant Wurm for the win. The below decks all are variants on these three creatures.

  1. U/G Madness (31): The classic madness build, this synergetic decks uses Roar of the Wurm, Wonder, Wild Mongrel, Arrogant Wurm, Merfolk Looter, Circular Logic and Basking Rootwalla to create a relentless assault of creatures which abuse madness, flashback and incarnations.
  2. W/G Madness (2): Packing slightly beefier creatures in exchange for the loss of Looter, Wonder and Circular Logic, W/G Madness instead uses Glory and Anurid Brushhopper to fuel Wurms and Rootwallas.
  3. B/U/G Madness (1): U/G Madness as above, but with the addition of Smother.
  4. Four Color Madness (1): All the colors of Magic except white, four color madness takes advantage of Basking Rootwalla, Arrogant Wurm, Violent Eruption and Fiery Temper.

Beatdown Decks: 27 Total

Blistering Firecat
The Beatdown decks don't give answers—they ask the questions. "Can you deal with this?" "What's your life total?" and "Are you dead yet?" are commonly heard queries from the mouths of these mages.

  1. Sligh (9): When in doubt, beat down with goblins. This mono red deck relies on a speedy offense of these red critters, backed by direct damage galore and Blistering Firecats as the knockout punch.
  2. R/G Beatdown (9): Quick, efficient creatures such as Wild Mongrel, Elvish Archers and Grim Lavamancer combine with Elephant Guide and burn to end the game in a fast fury.
  3. W/G Beatdown (6): Much like the W/G madness decks above, except less reliant on madness enablers and more reliant on large creatures.
  4. Beasts (3): A red/white/green special that combines Ravenous Baloth with Contested Cliffs to play as an agro-control deck.

Astral Slide Decks: 12 Total

Astral Slide
These decks took the world by storm during States in 2002. By combining cycling cards with Astral Slide and Lightning Rift, the Astral Slide player can stall the game long enough to protect Exalted Angel—or just burn out the opponent for the win.

  1. R/W/G Slide (7): The newest variant on the slide deck adds Krosan Tusker, Cartographer and Living Wish to add versatility to the archetype. While it doesn't pack as much removal as other versions, it makes up for it with options off the sideboard (via the Wish) and more sheer cycling cards than other versions.
  2. R/W Slide (4): The traditional build of the deck, which relies on Astral Slide and Lightning Rift to stall the game long enough to beat down with Exalted Angel—or just uses Rift to deliver the money to the bank in twenty dollar sacks.
  3. W/G Slide (1): Eschewing direct damage for an offensive build, W/G slide uses Astral Slide to clear the path for large attacking creatures.

Reanimator Decks: 11 Total

Doomed Necromancer
For the past two months, these decks have been all the rage on Magic Online. Finally, they make their debut at a major live tournament. Doomed Necromancer resurrects any number of huge fatties sent to the graveyard via Buried Alive, and then Oversold Cemetery assures you'll be repeating this trick over..and over...and over. Anger assures that the Necromancer will see fair use the turn it gets player.

  1. B/R Reanimator (8): The most popular version, this deck relies on Burning Wish to grab all sorts of utility cards such as Zombify and Stitch Together, which combined with the aforementioned Necromancer bring Phantom Nishoba and Petradon into play
  2. B/R/G Reanimator (3): This build relies less on reanimation and more on Oversold Cemetery. Krosan Tusker plays the dual role of filling the graveyard and hand.

Opposition Decks: 9 Total

Why let the opponent play the game? Opposition decks seek to drop a ton of small, cheap creatures and then lock down the board using Opposition. They eventually win through attrition.

  1. SquirrelOpposition (7): The most common Opposition build, this U/G deck plays Squirrel Nest and Static Orb to keep the opponent stuck at no lands a turn.
  2. U/W Opposition (2): An alternate variant, this deck uses Battle Screech and cheap white creatures to get a quick force in play, often locking the game down with a fourth turn Opposition.

Threshold Decks: 4 Total

The less-played twin of Madness decks, these mostly U/G decks fill the graveyard quickly with Careful Study and Mental Note, and then play down seriously under-costed creatures like Nimble Mongoose and Werebear for a speedy win.

  1. U/G Threshold (2): The base build of the deck, U/G threshold hits early with the Mongoose and Werebear, and then uses Upheaval on the sixth turn to reset the game and start again. Chances are, their 3/3's and 4/4's will be enough to win the game on the second go-around.
  2. B/U/G Threshold (1): The same as above, except adding creature kill.
  3. W/U/G Threshold (1): The same as above, except adding the uber-powerful Mystic Enforcer as a 6/6 flying beatstick on turn four.

Combo Decks: 4 Total

Mirari's Wake
Combo decks are control decks without the control and Beatdown decks without the attack phase—they just want to plow ahead with building towards their combination of cards which will win the game in one fell swoop.

  1. Cunning Wake (2): Based around Mirari's Wake and Cunning Wish, this deck aims to drop a fourth turn Wake (via Krosan Verge), and then cast Mirari to start an parade of infinite Cunning Wishes and Elephant Ambushes.
  2. Tight Sight (2): The newest kid on the block, Tight Sight uses Far Wanderings, Rampant Growth, and Future Sight to accelerate the mana base, then recurs Predict and Early Harvest to deck the opponent card by card with infinite recursion and mana.

Braids Decks: 2 Total

Braids, Cabal Minion
Everyone's favorite Dementia Summoner wrecks havoc with the opponent's board.

  1. B/G Braids (1): Mana Birds and Elves allow the Braids player to drop a third turn legend, which usually spells game over for an opponent who doesn't have removal. Suddenly, they're down to one land, and you've got six to seven permanents on the board. Mesmeric Fiend usually takes care of said removal spells on turn two.
  2. B/R/G Braids (1): The same as above, except with the addition of burn.

Burn Decks: 1 Total

Grafted Skullcap
Burn decks want to do just one thing: reduce you from twenty to zero with instants, sorceries and lands that deal damage. Who needs creatures when you've got unkillable damage sources?

  1. Burning Bridge (1): An old favorite, Burning Bridge uses Ensnaring Bridge and Grafted Skullcap to both lock down the board from creature attacks, and draw multiple burn spells a turn. Grim Lavamancer, Firebolt, and Barbarian Ring thrive from the graveyard, while Fiery Temper and Violent Eruption combine with the Skullcap's discard effect to win the game.

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