Domo Arigato, Mr. Mutato

Posted in Feature on May 31, 2006

By Chris Millar

Mutants. Freaks of nature. Unnatural lifeforms augmented through rampant experimentation. No, I'm not talking about the contestants on Canadian Idol. I'm talking about the creations of those creepy bio-mancers of the Simic Combine. Led by Magic's first Elf Chimp Wizard, Momir Vig, the Simic hold a lot of appeal for those of us who spent part of our youths pulling the wings off of flies (and putting them back on) (their heads). Of all the jobs a kid could want to have when he grows up, bio-mancer was third on my list, after professional baseball player and computer programmer. (Since I check the Toronto Blue Jays' box scores online, I figure I'm halfway there.) I'm pretty sure that any job sounds better if you tack “mancer” on to the end of it. For a while, I was what is commonly called a “gas jockey,” but from now on my resume will say that I was a “petro-mancer.” My plans to work my way up to CEO of Shell Corp. fell through, so instead I “grew up” to become a logo-mancer. A word magician. Watch me make good grammar disappear!

Instead of actually writing an article from scratch, I decided that this week I would pay homage to the Simic and “graft” together a bunch of different words I selected at random from the dictionary. I hope it turns out well!

U/G is my favourite colour combination. Green gives Blue the mana-acceleration, graveyard recursion, and artifact/enchantment destruction that it lacks, and in return Green gets powerful creatures like Keiga and Meloku (and counter-magic and card-drawing). Wood Sage is one of my all-time favourite cards, so when the Dissension spoiler was released, I was pleased to see the Wood Sage-esque Vigean Intuition. Back in the days of Odyssey, I used Wood Sage in my Threshold/Flashback decks instead of Merfolk Looter. My only gripe with Wood Sage, unsurprisingly, is that he's not an Elf. It's the same reason I don't really like Keiga, the Tide Star. Couldn't you have just put some pointy ears on him, painted a few trees in the background, and made him an Elf Dragon Spirit? For me?

There aren't a whole lot of creatures with the mana cost UG, but they are all pretty cool: Pygmy Hippo, Gaea's Skyfolk, and Wood Sage. Coiling Oracle is the latest, and possibly the greatest. The best thing about Coiling Oracle is that he's an Elf (Snake Druid)! Instead of building another Elf deck, though, I'd like to kick things off with a couple of Simic-enhanced non-Elf tribal decks.

Beasts and Snakes and Overdone Phrases … Oh My!

In the days leading up to Regionals, I was browsing some Magic sites and saw a couple of nifty Snake decks, including one by my esteemed editor, Mr. Ted Knutson. Since my deck uses the Extended cardpool (and the wackiness of Cloudstone Curio), I decided to write about it anyway. The inspiration for the deck came from a reader named Gabe who's a big fan of Cloudstone Curio tricks and noticed that Patagia Viper can generate two tokens for each you pay. Just play the Viper with the requisite mana, and when the tokens it produces come into play, use Cloudstone Curio to return the Viper to your hand. Neither Coiling Oracle nor Mystic Snake will mind too much if you keep returning them to hand. Sosuke's Summons enjoys long walks on the beach, dinner by candlelight, and Snakes coming into play, so I included a full set, as well as a set of Sakura-Tribe Elders so I'd have the mana to cast everything. Eternal Witness also likes Cloudstone Curio. With two Witnesses, you can play one and bounce the other, each time returning something nasty from your graveyard. Something like Temporal Spring, perhaps, which will ensure that your opponent draws the same card for the rest of the game.

With all those Snake tokens around, I threw in some Oppositions as a “win condition.” Unfortunately, that deck got lower scores on the Fun Meter than watching the Blue Jays bullpen in action, so I decided to replace them the incredibly fun, incredibly fair, incredibly Moon-based Meloku the Clouded Mirror. Meloku's token-making ability is awesome with Cloudstone Curio, allowing you to use it to save your creatures from removal (just make an Illusion and bounce the targeted creature). Those cards also form a soft-lock with Mystic Snake, since you can now counter a spell for each five mana you have in play (just make an Illusion, bounce Mystic Snake, and use it counter the spell).

Sure it's “win more.” But that's better than winning less, in my opinion.

(Note: While this deck has a tribal theme, it is not actually legal in Tribal Wars, since there are only sixteen Snakes - Sosuke's Summons doesn't count.)

Dissension brings a new load of beasts to the party.

The next deck is an update of a fun (and very straightforward) Beast deck I played circa. Nineteen-Ninety-Onslaught. Dissension helps out with some of that deck's weaknesses. Molder Slug and Woodripper kept opposing Artifacts at bay, but if I wanted to nuke Enchantments, I had to use the lackluster Root Greevil (who, apparently, is responsible for much of the world's greevil problem). In the end, I used Naturalizes, but they were an imperfect solution. They often got in the way of Amplify and they certainly didn't attack very much. Luckily, Trygon Predator and Indrik Stomphowler arrived to save the day. The other problem with the deck was that my Blastoderms, Molder Slugs, and Woodrippers often had a hard-time getting through my opponent's defenses. Fangren Pathcutter helped a bit, but I really wanted something a little more reliable. Luckily, Trygon Predator, Assault Zeppelid, and Helium Squirter hit the scene and gave the Beast deck that much-needed evasion. The Squirter, in particular, works well with such counter-laden Beasts as Karstoderm, Clockwork Vorrac, and the good Amplify Beasts from Legions, Canopy Crawler and Feral Throwback (sorry, Glowering “Joe” Rogon). Fangren Firstborn turns all of your attacking creatures into valid targets for some squirting helium. Plaxmanta is the other Dissension Beast I used, since it gives the creatures-only deck some quasi-spells and lets you get “clever.”

Other Beasts that could be good in the deck include the counteriffic Krakilin and the Graft-enabling Hunting Moa.

It's Evolution, Baby

Evolution Vat
As you all know, each of the ten Ravnica Block guilds has an affiliated artifact. The Boros have Sunforger, the Izzet have Mizzium Transreliquat, and the Azorius have an anthropomorphic filing-cabinet (Walking Archive). The Simic's artifact is Evolution Vat, a combination of Icy Manipulator, Dragon Blood, and some TLC. Vats and evolution go together like macaroni and cheese. If want a heightened mental and physical abilities, a bucket of fluorescent goo is the only way to go. Just think: How did petty criminal Jack Napier become the super-criminal known as The Joker? He fell into a vat. I wouldn't be surprised if a vat was responsible for the Wuzzles, or the mutant hybrid known as “Brangelina.” Charles Darwin came up with his theories of evolution while sitting in a vat. (I might have my facts wrong there.)

When it came time to picking creatures to dunk in the Vat, I picked ones that don't really mind if they're tapped. Spike Weaver leaves your opponent's creatures fumbling in a Fog, whether it's turned sideways or not. Triskelion can still mow down opposing weenies while he's hanging out in the blue goo. Novijen Sages evolves into a reusable Counsel of the Soratami, and Pentavus can make a limitless number of Pentavites. Perhaps the best card to stick in the Vat is Exodus's Workhorse. The first “evolution” doubles its counters to eight, the second gives you eight more, the third gives you sixteen, and so on. With some way to turn the colourless mana into , you will eventually have infinite mana. Instead of doing that, however, I decided to use that finite mana for a big Hurricane. Spike Feeder and Spike Weaver ought to be able to give you a decent life-cushion, and Pentavus won't mind that you destroyed all of its babies if you win the game at the same time.

Vat's Incredible! – Casual Legacy

Download Arena Decklist

Mo' mir Vig, Mo' Problems

As I said, Momir Vig is the leader of the Simic. Steward of the Ravnican wilderness, Momir is like Yogi Bear's arch-nemesis, Ranger Smith, except creepier and more chimp-like. Mr. Vig has arguably the most powerful ability of all the Guild leaders. Being able to get a free Eladamri's Call whenever you play a Blue and Green creature can lead to ridiculous plays like chaining Simic Sky Swallowers in the late game (or even chaining Coiling Oracles in the mid-game). Unfortunately, as a measly 2/2, my man Momir is a little fragile for a five-mana creature. Sheesh, Momir: take some time out for yourself! Evolve yourself that bigger, Shock-proof butt you've always wanted! To protect Momir, I've included four Plaxcaster Froglings and the Simic Guildmage + Shielding Plax combo outlined by the diabolical Mark Gottlieb on Monday.

There are many cards that work well with Momir (Call of the Wild and Killer Instinct come to mind), but I'm going to use Guildpact's Ooze-with-an-attitude, Bioplasm. It seems kinda Simic-y. Probably came from a vat. Fits comfortably in one, at least.

Since it's Simic Week, I'm going to skip some of the Selesnya cards that work so well with Bioplasm (your Congregations at Dawn and your Autochthon Wurms) and rely solely on Momir Vig. To set up a big Bioplasm attack, you will have to have the Simic Guild leader on the board when you play a mono-Green creature in your pre-combat main phase. Luckily, I've included a few such creatures, the most relevant of which are Verdant Eidolon and Cytospawn Shambler. With all of the U/G creatures in the deck, Verdant Eidolon should return to your hand on a regular basis, allowing you to set up Bioplasm turn after turn. (It also allows for turn 4 Cytospawn Shamblers and Simic Sky Swallowers). The Shamblers, meanwhile, can give your Bioplasms Trample if you've managed to get a counter on them (with either Simic Guildmage or Plaxcaster Frogling) and their six power and toughness make them decent Bioplasm-enhancers if you have Momir Vig working his Mo-jo. [Ed. Note: Chris would like to acknowledge that yes, he missed that that last part doesn't actually work since the Shambler's base power/toughness is actually 0/0. Whether or not that leaves the trample ability as "decent" we leave up to you, gentle reader.]

This might be the first (and last) deck in Magic history to play more Cytospawn Shamblers than Simic Sky Swallowers, but I'm “proud” to be the one to do it.

In keeping with the Make-Your-Own-Creature theme of the Simic, you can easily mix and match these decks. For example, Momir Vig and Mystic Snake seem like they'd make a great couple, if only you could get them both to the same party. Sparks will fly, I guarantee you.

Until next time, claptrap squash blindfold homogenize symbiosis!

Chris Millar

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