Extending Rath

Posted in Feature on June 20, 2002

By Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar

The recent announcement of the Extended set rotations started me thinking a lot about older cards and new decks. Don't get me wrong: I won't play in any Extended tournaments, nor is this column meant to prepare you for tournament Magic. However, a new format means a blank canvas for deckbuilding. As such, I can't help but wonder what kind of funky ideas might work in an Extended without Savannah, Fifth Edition, and every set from Ice Age to Weatherlight. (If you want a great idea for a pre-rotation deck, check out BDM's Griffin Canyon masterpiece.)

Today I take a look at a few oft-forgotten cards from the Rath Block (Tempest, Stronghold, and Exodus). These cards either interact in interesting ways with newer sets or suggest loads of fun tricks all on their own. Prior to November, expect some time when I focus on similarly quirky cards from Urza, Masques, Invasion, and Odyssey Blocks.

Until then, sit back, relax, and let your mind wander to a time long ago. It was a time of buyback and shadow, a time when Stinging Licid, Spined SLiver, and Spike Hatcher roamed Dominaria, a time before we were sick of Gerrard Capashen and his silly ship...

Tooth and Claw

Just so you can be sure I'm talking crazy here, I start with Tooth and Claw. Who starts a look at cards from Rath Block with Tooth and Claw? I do, buddy. And I'll say "booby" before this is all over, too. Take your Hatred, Oath of Druids, Tradewind Rider, and Ensnaring Bridge somewhere else, because I don't want them cluttering up my dining room table.

For the trivia minded, only four cards in the new Extended are going to be producing tokens with power greater than their toughness. Penumbra Bobcat is the obvious one. Theoretically, Echo Chamber and Dual Nature can make tokens of any size (thanks to Ben for pointing these out to me, by the way). Tooth and Claw, meanwhile, pumps out 3/1 Carnivores for the “low” price of two creatures.

This cost may not appear worthwhile at first blush, but it doesn't look so bad if either a) your creatures are going to die anyway because of, for example, combat damage, or b) your creatures are 1/1 or 0/1 and need an ego boost.

Enter Firecat Blitz, a card from Judgment that not only makes little 1/1 dudes with a short lifespan, it potentially makes a LOT of 1/1 dudes with a short lifespan. After your Cats have attacked, they are more than happy to become Carnivores before the end of turn.

Thus a foundation for a deck might include both Tooth and Claw and Firecat Blitz. After that, I would think that mana acceleration, and especially mana-creating creatures, would be useful. Really, though, Tooth and Claw is fun with many different cards: Battle Screech, Goblin Marshal, Nether Spirit, Sengir Autocrat, the aforementioned Penumbra Kavu, cantrip-creatures like Multani's Acolyte, leaves-play cards like Aven Fisher... the list goes on.

Here is a way I might try a Tooth and Claw deck. Keep in mind that although technically this deck will be legal in Extended in November, it doesn't use goodies from the upcoming set Onslaught. In addition, I imagine my own thinking will mature about this uncharted format in the coming months. So think of these decks -- as with all decks on Thursdays -- as early thought experiments.

Oh, and I used a couple copies of Bind simply because of how sad both Pernicious Deed and Powder Keg would be to our poor 0-cost creatures.

Cheshire Cat

Download Arena Decklist

Volrath's Dungeon

Volrath's Dungeon is a terrific example of an evil black card and is faintly reminiscent of the new "punisher" spells like Browbeat. When you slap the Dungeon onto the table you are essentially saying, "Hello, let's trade. I'll get rid of these two Swamps and Duress in my hand in exchange for your next three turns. Don't worry, in a few moments you can kill my enchantment by having me punch you in the gut."

A couple of strategies work well with Volrath's Dungeon. First, if you can find a way to get rid of cards from the top of an opposing library -- Millstone is a good example -- then your opponent will never see those cards in her hand again. The net effect here is basically a discard from you equals a discard for your opponent. To enhance this effect a little, try something splashy like Traumatize.

Even better, thanks to cards from Odyssey, Torment, and Judgment, you don't necessarily have to trade your own cards. Dump cards with flashback or madness and you -- unlike your opponent -- haven't really lost a thing. In addition, Volrath's Dungeon might be the quickest way for you to reach threshold. Imagine a black/green deck with Basking Rootwalla, Arrogant Wurm, Roar of the Wurm, etc. and you get the idea. In fact, any older card with the word "discard" in it should require a few moments of reflection from you thanks to Magic's three most recent sets.

Below is a deck that tries both of the above approaches. Traumatize is there along with its stepbrother Haunting Echoes. Using Deep Analysis, it's possible you can run an opponent out of cards before ever winning with lethal damage. More likely, however, the damage from the Dungeons (the assumption being that your opponent will want to take the 5 instead of drawing the same card over and over) and the lone Avatar of Will are the paths to victory.

I Hate You

Download Arena Decklist


Tempest: When Auratog roamed the planet with his beady-eyed, wide-legged strides. Auratog was the last Atog prior to Odyssey, and in my mind stands second to Atogatog as the most fun.

In particular, Auratog is scary in combination with Rancor. Your happy little lizard-thing effectively reads ": +2/+2 until end of turn" with Rancor on its back, plus the additional +2/+0 and trample once the enchantment actually sticks. It's crazy, but if you start your turn with two Forests, a Brushland, and an Auratog enchanted with Rancor, you can attack with a 9/8 trampler.

Add an Argothian Enchantress or Verduran Enchantress to the party and you can also draw a card for every you pay. Add Elephant Guide and Nomad Mythmaker -- a trick I stole directly from the Deck Challenge II -- and you start to have one crazy deck.

Toga Party

Download Arena Decklist

Booby Trap

Any card that allows you to scream "BOOOOOBY! BOOBYBOOBYBOOBY!!!" while simultaneously inflicting 10 points of colorless damage to an opponent is worth a deck (or several, actually). Similarly, any card that can claim the title of Anti Goblin Spy Technology is also tops in my book.

Booby Trap was one of the first "bad" rares I built a deck around years ago, largely because I somehow ended up with five copies of it. The deck wasn't terribly creative; I tried -- on an opponent's turn -- to either return a card to the top of an opposing library or know what my opponent would draw. Then I would untap and play Booby Trap. If I remember correctly, I even took the deck to a local tournament and won a match or two.

I'm not sure enough cards supported my strategy back when Booby Trap first appeared. Today, however, I'm willing to give it another shot. Why? I did it all for the Booby.

The Booby Deck

Download Arena Decklist

Don't let me stop you from other fun ways of making a Booby Trap deck. After all, what better use for Tahngarth's Glare? Or Aven Windreader? You might even give Plow Under a peculiar new use.

So ends a bizarre look at Rath. If I could keep writing, I would. Even at a glance, several other cards deserve weird decks:

Possibilities abound. And since thousands of heads are better than one, I encourage you to really dig into Tempest, Stronghold, and Exodus to see what cards you've forgotten -- or maybe never knew -- existed. If your goal is to have fun and do something different, only good things can happen.

Next Week: Get a life.


Jay may be reached at houseofcards@wizards.com.

Latest Feature Articles


November 15, 2021

Innistrad: Double Feature Product Overview by, Wizards of the Coast

More monsters! More horror! More drafts! More of everything you love about Innistrad arrives January 28, 2022, with Innistrad: Double Feature. Available at your local WPN game store,...

Learn More


November 12, 2021

The Legends of Innistrad: Crimson Vow by, Doug Beyer, Ari Zirulnik, and Grace Fong

We managed to get ahold of the guest list for Innistrad: Crimson Vow, and it's looking kind of wild! We've got faces old and new, fanged and un-fanged, human and . . . uh . . . slime mons...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All