The Big Sleeper

Posted in Feature on April 24, 2008

By Chris Millar

Long time no see. I trust everyone who could make it out enjoyed the Shadowmoor Prerelease. Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen circumstances (Is there any other kind?), I could not join the eager throng of pack-busters looking to get their hands on some new Elf cards. Besides, even if I could attend, I didn't want to taint my immaculate lifetime record at tournaments by actually winning a game. I'm not saying that would've happened, but I didn't want to risk it. Cue the canned laughter.

Shadowmoor has been completely spoiled, but, don't worry, that doesn't mean it isn't fresh. Hundreds of new cards means hundreds of new deck ideas. We have a long, fun road ahead of us, so why don't we start slow? There will be lots of time, and plenty of theme weeks, devoted to exploring the spooky landscape and the shadowy moors of, um, Shadowmoor. For this week, I'd like to take a look at a card that was previewed in the daily slot during the second week of previews. The reason is twofold: one, the cards in these slots pass by without much commentary (outside of the forums, of course); and two, one of the cards has been the subject of several emails, each one more neato than the last.

I hope you're not dozing, because it's time to wake up and smell the combos.

To Sleep, Perchance to Smash Face

Deep-Slumber Titan
Remember the Titan? I do. When I first saw Deep-Slumber Titan on the list of cards we were set to preview, I thought, "Wow, that guy... doesn't look very good." It's got an uncommonly high power-to-mana-cost ratio, sure, but the drawback seems pretty harsh. It comes into play tapped, doesn't untap "as normal," and if I want to untap it, if I want the privilege of attacking, I need to deal damage to it? Seems like a long way to go for what I considered a "vanilla" fatty, even if it is a 7/7.

Well, I was wrong, too short-sighted. Now, I'm not saying that Deep-Slumber Titan is going to be tearing up the tournament scene (although I wouldn't be surprised if it popped up somewhere down the road), but the ringleader of the Lullaby League v.2.0 certainly enables all kinds of shenanigans that will be tickling Johnnies pink for years, maybe even months. In that sense, it reminds me of Guildpact favourite Sky Swallower.

Obviously, the methods you can employ to untap your Deep-Slumber Titan via damage vary significantly in quality, from bad (Shivan Meteor) to mediocre (Prodigal Pyromancer) to good (Honden of Infinite Rage) to just-about-ideal (Pyrohemia). Spending a card, like Shock, to untap your Titan seems suboptimal. Sure, if you have them in your deck, you can use it as combat trick to create a "surprise" blocker (like a Twiddle that can go to the dome). With that said, once you have the Titan untapped, it does some simple things that, frankly, I overlooked. For starters, while having trample would be preferable, the fact that it can play offense and defense in the face of chump-blocking is a definite advantage. You either whittle down your opponent's creatures, while discouraging counterattacks on the ground, or your opponent takes 7. Maybe Shocking him awake isn't the worst thing in the world.

Creatures that provide some repeatable way to damage Deep-Slumber Titan are one step up in my book, entitled Chris Millar's Compendium of Arbitrary Distinctions. There is no shortage of such creatures. I've already mentioned the new "Tim," but there's also Anaba Shaman and Warmonger (if you're into Minotaurs and/or Mongers), Krark-Clan Shaman (if you're into eating artifacts), Earthshaker and Subterranean Spirit (if you're into Spirits), and Pyroclast Consul, which The Ferrett mentioned on Tuesday. Those are just some of the red options. Blue gives you the original "Prodigal Sorcerer" and some potentially exciting gold cards like Tibor and Lumia or Razorfin Hunter. Similarly, Deep-Slumber Titan gets along well with black monsters like Plague Spitter and Thrashing Wumpus, and might be the best playmate for Spiteful Bully this side of Vigor.

Even better than creatures, who have a tendency to bite the dust, kick the bucket, or trade in their swords for plowshares, are reusable damage sources tacked on to the other major permanent types. With the red Honden or Festering Evil, you are pretty much limited to untapping your Titan during your upkeep. That's what puts them a notch below cards that are a little more flexible like Barbed Field, Noxious Field, Magma Vein (er, maybe not), Screams of the Damned, and, of course, Pyrohemia and Pestilence. Rod of Ruin is one of several artifacts that can be used to ping your Titan awake. You can even use lands to damage your Titan. Keldon Necropolis and Keldon Megaliths can do the trick, but a sneakier way involves one of the many cards über-Johnny Noel d.C. suggested I pair with Deep-Slumber Titan: Arena. Note that your Titan doesn't have to be untapped for you to send it to do battle with Goblins, Golems, Gorns (pending), or even Mistform Ultimus. Chances are that your Titan will win the day, untapping himself in the process.

If damaging your own, non-Fungusaur, creatures with these cards seems silly, you have other options. As I like to say, this is Magic. You don't have to do anything I say. I am not your mother. You can even ignore the suggestions printed right on the card. If you want to untap a Deep-Slumber Titan, cut out the middle man and just untap him. Untapping things is one of blue's specialties, with cards like Mind Games, Mind Over Matter, and Merrow Reejerey, just a few of the options beginning with the letter M. White can untap creatures with a number of combat tricks, such as Alarum, Roar of the Kha, or To Arms! Green can do it with some old-school auras like Instill Energy or Touch of Vitae, as well as cards like Emerald Charm, Vitalize, Seeker of Skybreak, or Seedborn Muse. The red options are also interesting. Red can untap creatures in two ways: by gaining control of them with cards like Threaten or Bringer of the Red Dawn (note that you can "gain control" of creatures you already control), or by giving yourself another combat phase with cards like Aggravated Assault or Seize the Day. Artifacts give you plenty of choice, from Thousand-Year Elixir to Puppet Strings to Staff of Domination to the ever-popular Talisman cycle from Ice Age (Hematite Talisman and company). If you want to get tricky, you can use Griffin Canyon (and Conspiracy) or Minamo, School at Water's Edge (and Leyline of Singularity) to untap your Deep-Slumber Titans. Each option has its appeal, and above list is hardly exhaustive, as you shall see.

Imagine you have an untapped Titan. What now? To truly make the most of Deep-Slumber Titan, it makes sense to give it some kind of super-nasty tap ability. Of course, giving a fatty a tap ability seems counterproductive (See: Lotus Guardian, every creature from Legends). With that much power, aren't there some beatings you should be delivering? If only there was a way to give it a tap ability that befitted a 7/7 behemoth. Reader David W. found one, and it's right there in Shadowmoor: Elemental Mastery. Not only does this aura check the creature's power, but it finally unseated Elemental Resonance as the best aura with the word "Elemental" in its name. David's combo started off cool, and then got cooler. He writes:

First, get an untapped Deep-Slumber Titan in play, with a Shock or something of the like. Then play Elemental Mastery on it. The next turn tap the Titan, putting seven 1/1 red Elemental tokens with haste into play. Then play Furystoke Giant.

Tap one token to deal two to the Titan. untapping it, and tap [the Titan] again to put seven more Elemental tokens into play. Do this twice.

With fourteen tokens in play, tap two of the inital tokens to deal four to the Furystoke Giant, killing it. It will come back because of persist, giving all of the new tokens the ability [to deal 2 damage to a creature or player], allowing you to usually finish off your opponent.

Elemental Mastery
Furystoke Giant

In many situations (i.e. with a weakened opponent), you could probably stop after playing the Furystoke Giant and pinging your opponent for 14 immediately. But I do love me some overkill, and this combo's capable of it. Umbral Mantle fits in perfectly here, since it not only gives you a way to untap your Deep-Slumber Titan, but it also pumps its power, allowing you to produce more tokens with Elemental Mastery.

Pandemonium provides some redundancy, serving a similar purpose as Furystoke Giant in the combo. Make your Elemental tokens, use all but one to deal damage to your opponent and the last one to deal damage to Deep-Slumber Titan. The Titan'll untap, you can make more guys, and on and on until your Titan has taken lethal-minus-one damage. Outside of Standard, you can accomplish the task with Goblin Bombardment or Blasting Station.

The rest of the deck is made up of Giant and/or Warrior acceleration (it's good to have creatures when you drop a Furystoke Giant), some Giant tutors, and some cards that just seem really good with Elemental Mastery (like Hamletback Goliath and Shared Animosity). If you wanted to add another colour, might I suggest green for Primal Forcemage?

Deep-Slumber Party Massacre

Download Arena Decklist

Welcome to the Wrong Side of the Bed

Rite of Passage
The inspiration for the next deck also came from Noel d.C, who had previously suggested Arena. He writes:

Deep-Slumber Titan + Fire Whip + RITE OF PASSAGE! At the end of your opponent's turn, tap the Titan to damage itself, it untaps, and gets a counter. So now you have an 8/8 with 1 damage on it. Repeat. This combo can give the Titan unlimited +1/+1 counters.

To get things started, first you need a way to untap the Titan. Noel suggested Scryb Ranger. If it's good enough for Spectral Force, it's good enough for Deep-Slumber Titan. I added some other methods, like Cinder Giant (a.k.a. Really Spiteful Bully), Seedborn Muse, and Pyrohemia. I also swapped the Fire Whips for Arcane Teachings, since the toughness boost makes your Scryb Rangers less likely to die from Pyrohemia, and Viridian Longbow, since you can use it to untap the Titan and kickstart the combo as long as you have the mana and another creature.

Imagine you have an arbitrarily large Deep-Slumber Titan. Now what? Well, you could use Elemental Mastery again to make an arbitrarily large number of hasty Elemental tokens. You could fling your Titan with Bloodshot Cyclops, Brion Stoutarm, or, well, Fling. You could also use Surestrike Trident, which is pretty good with an arbitrarily small Deep-Slumber Titan and some way to untap it. I went with the Trident, if only because it works well with two other Shadowmoor cards: Deus of Calamity and Mossbridge Troll (pumped, of course, which Deep-Slumber Titan can help enable).


Download Arena Decklist

Wake Me Up Before You Godo

Masako the Humorless
This last deck uses white, and is probably the most straightforward, basheriffic deck of the three. As mentioned, white gives you access to some nifty combat tricks. Is there a better one to use with Deep-Slumber Titan than Triclopean Sight? Forget all the untapping business, just attack every turn, worry-free. Well, there is a better trick. Once again from Noel d.C.:

You have a tapped Titan. Your opponent swings. Flash in...Masako the Humorless? Who the **** is that? Block (it takes damage so it untaps), and you're all ready to attack and block next turn! Really, though, finding a use for the no-nonense Masako the Humorless just makes me grin.

It makes me grin too, from ear to shining ear. Or something.

This deck, being red and white, seemed like the perfect place to use Powerstone Minefield. As long as you can attack once with your Deep-Slumber Titan, the damage dealt by the Minefield will ensure that it can attack for turns to come. It's like a Serra's Blessing that also happens to roast enemy Elves. Being red and white also gave me an excuse to use some of the powerful equipment-fetchers in those colours, namely Stonehewer Giant and Godo, Bandit Warlord. They can both search for equipment that is particularly good with Deep-Slumber Titan (like Sword of the Paruns, Thornbite Staff, and the aforementioned Umbral Mantle and Surestrike Trident), but Godo, Bandit Warlord has some added utility when you tutor for Runed Stalactite. Equipped to your Titan, the Stalactite imbues him with Samurai training somehow, making him eligible to be untapped by Godo, Bandit Warlord's Relentless Assault ability.

Don't Wake Daddy

Download Arena Decklist

Until next time, have fun with Sorrow's Path!

Chris Millar

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