Greater Good Deck Challenge Winner!

Posted in Feature on September 15, 2005

By Bennie Smith

Bennie Smith began playing Magic in 1994 and started writing about it shortly after. A Virginia State Champion, he enjoys few things better than winning at tournaments with home brews. Bennie has a weekly column on He also recently published The Complete Commander. Follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, and the occasional Commander games on Magic Online under the handle "blairwitchgreen."

And the Winner by a Nose is...

Well, first let me just say that I've really enjoyed playing all four of the finalists' decks. Picking “the best” of four very different decks is tough, especially since this contest hit before most people had the opportunity to playtest, tweak and tune. The decks I received were in various stages of development, from raw first passes to a few that had received a little developmental work. All of the top 4 decks contained flaws that became readily apparent as I playtested, but I played them all enough to experience games that unfolded the way their designer intended. Some decks required a lot of test games to get to that point. Case in point was this one, which ended up my runner-up:

Runner-Up!: Greater Genju of the Good (G^3) by NosferatuStuff

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I was partial to this deck from the beginning because it's inherently representative of the “Magic Online” experience as a Vanguard deck. I really enjoy Vanguard, and I was thrilled when one of them made the cut in your voting.

The problem was I kept losing before I could go off. The Birds of Paradise avatar is critical to the function of this deck, but starting at 16 life really hurts against some of the aggressive Vanguard decks floating around.

When I did finally go off though—it was quite impressive!

I was playing against sway1977's Erhnam Rat deck, and it had me on a pretty fast clock. This would normally spell my doom, but this time around things fell into place the turn before I would die to the rat and Saproling horde.

Inner Fire can get pretty nuts after you sacrifice a mountain to Greater Good that's been spirited by Genju of the Spires and boosted by Grafted Wargear.

Maybe we should call the deck Greater Grafted Genju Goodness, gee!

Anyway, after several sacrifices and another Inner Fire or two, I'm ready to send two Spiraling Embers at my opponent, one for 13, another for 12.

It was certainly impressive when it went off, but that only happened twice in the dozen or so games I tried with it. The deck is a good starting point for something impressive, but I think it needs some work to take it up a notch. Still, kudos to NosferatuStuff for coming up with a great concept!

The other deck that quickly rose to the top of the heap ended up as my winner for its consistent power and endurance. Attacking with 24/21 trampling Maros just does my heart good!

Congratulations to Xepel for The Greatest Succession, winner of Into The Aether's Greater Good Deck Challenge! I suppose many of you liked the looks of it too based on your votes.

Winner!: The Greatest Succession, by Xepel

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Another reason I enjoyed this deck was its ability to compete even if the signature card Greater Good never showed up. O-Naginata on a Battlefield Scrounger or Maro can be quite fierce all on its own. However, when it does get both Greater Good and Verdant Succession in play, things rapidly get sick.

I'd like to see some artifact and enchantment kill in this deck. One time I played against a deck sporting Ensnaring Bridge that simply laughed off my swollen hand-enhanced creatures. After searching through my deck when I sacrificed a Sakura-Tribe Elder, I realized I had no way to break the lock. Some Viridian Zealots might be a good addition, perhaps in place of two Tracers. Another thought might be to take a page from NosferatuStuff's deck and splash red for Spiraling Embers. Adding a few more outs shouldn't hurt the integrity of the concept.

In addition to all the fame and prestige for winning, Xepel will be receiving four foil Greater Goods in his account soon. For NosferatuStuff, DeadEternity, and Psykohamster, I couldn't let your wonderful decklists get this far unrewarded, so when Ravnica releases for Magic Online, you'll each be getting a draft set (3 boosters each). I also want to extend my thanks to all of you who participated in the Deck Challenge, it was a lot of fun and hard work going through all the decks and cutting to a Top 10. I hope to do this again from time to time, so if you enjoyed this (or hated it for that matter) please make sure to let me know on the message boards.

Natural Selection (Week 1)

Dr Worm defeats IntoTheAether 2-1

Sadly, the Unholy Bayou carved out some real estate in the Prismatic Citadel with its champion Dr Worm and his mostly-black spirit deck. My Bringers tribe is powerful, but it needs a smooth flow of different colored mana for it to come together, and Dr Worm's aggressive deck was able to capitalize whenever I stumbled. The last game I may have been able to pull off if I'd remembered that Devouring Greed does a two-point life drain all on its own. For some reason I thought since he only had one spirit out there I was safe going down to 4 life by using my Black Bringer to fetch a Blue Bringer. Instead, if I'd gotten Miren I could have had some life-gaining backup to keep me in the game another turn.

I've gotten in quite a few practice games since my match with Dr Worm and have made a few changes to my deck. Here's where it currently stands:

Bennie's Bringers (Tribal Wars)

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I'm still not happy with the mana base. Sometimes I choke on forests, sometimes I take a beating from multiple Cities of Brass. Sometimes I start drawing fetchlands after I've already gotten each of the colors they fetch. If anyone has some tips on tightening my mana base, I'm all ears!

This week I'm scheduled to face SuicidDragon of Illuminarious. He's also with spirits—gah!! This time they're white, which presents a whole host of other problems. Wish me luck, I'll probably need it.

Deck of the Week

Regular readers know I'm a big fan of Magic Online Vanguard, and recently while testing out the “Elvish Hell” vanguard deck I posted for 9th Edition's Hell's Caretaker avatar, I had a very enjoyable game with daveda and her unique and fun creation. daveda was kind enough to share her deck with us and tell us a little bit about herself.

MTGO Handle - daveda

Real name - Ami Mishizono

Age - 19

Where do you live - Tennessee, moving to Michigan this week.

How long have you been playing Magic? Since Alpha.

How long have you been playing MTGO? It's been a month or two now.

Percentage-wise, would you consider yourself more of a casual or competitive Magic player? 95% competitive / 5% casual

What's your favorite online format(s)? I like drafting and sealed deck a lot. For constructed I like Standard, or Kamigawa block, and Singleton is fun too.

What is your favorite color? In Magic? Blue and green. Otherwise, teal, purple, pink, and blue.

What is your quest? Quest...hmm...There are a few things I want to do in my years of Magic. One is to show the world that girls can be equals in Magic, and can be more creative. Two is to finally defeat the shuffler and win a league, or a championship event. Three is to make good friends online that respect me for who I am in the world.

Finally, my ultimate goal is to replace Mark Gottlieb-san as the root of all evil in Magic! :)

Do you play Vanguard a lot? What is/are your favorite avatar(s)? Not as often as I'd like to, I don't play outside my playgroup often. Phage the Untouchable and Birds of Paradise. Phage is great for my defensive style, and BoP let me make even more fun and creative decks than I'm used to building. I'd really like to own Raksha, Maro, and Sakashima though. Maybe birthday presents? :D

Do you think there is a defined metagame for Vanguard? Sure there is. It all depends on if you play that person more than once. If you do, you get to learn their styles and you can easily set up for the next game. Watching them in other duels makes all the difference. (Curses! No wonder she's beating me all the time!! – Bennie)

Have you ever played in the Premier Events for Vanguard? I finished 11th once, though I still look back at it and realize I can be better, and that I want to be better.

Please share your thoughts on your deck!

I absolutely LOVE the Kamigawa set. From the little titan Glitterfang to the jumbo Kuro and Iname as One, there hasn't been a card in Kamigawa where I haven't looked at it and smiled at least once.

I was up late two nights ago, very bored, and a vision of Sakashima came to me.

Sakashima: "Hi sweetie, do you want to find something to do?"
Me: Yes, of course.
Sakashima: "Make a fun Standard Legendary deck that lets me shine."
Me: "Umm...sure!"

I looked up, and she looked at me as a reflection of myself. I then snapped out of my vision, realized Taco Bell and Mountain Dew at 6am were very bad for you, and started this deck.

Anyways, besides the Taco Bell massacre on my brain, I began the legend deck. Questions came to me. "Do I want a legend deck?" I'm not THAT tired yet. "Do I want Kokusho?" Not in this lifetime, I want something fun that's always different to play each time. "What's your style? Can this be aggressive?" Sure it can, but I don't necessarily want it to be. I want to make a deck that's fun to play, and infuriates the heck out of the people I play, until they get SO mad, they pull out dirty tricks to stop the madness. Wrath, Kokusho cheese, Jitte, whatever their favorites are.

Okay, so I'm getting carried away now, no more Taco Bell lol! The basis of this deck is to achieve board lock in a fun and creative way each and every game you play. Want to erase their hand? Glitterfang and Kyoki. Stack your deck? Tomorrow, Sensei's Beyblade (lol), and blue honden draw power. Want to get extremely dirty with this? Toss Cloudhoof, Oyobi, or Bounteous down, and spill the glitter. Really want to lock the board? Use Meloku and Patron to cycle your hand of land endlessly with Sasaya/Lifegift out. Need more mana? Swap in Azusa and Nature's Will and sneak a creature by. Ready to destroy? Attack with your flying fleet and make more after your combat phase. Ah, the joys of a lot of life, and 1/1 token blockers that can't die sans Laughter or Judgment.

This deck's all about fun, I have fun with FDtD, and I hope you all do too, after all, what's going to stop you? Burn, discard, removal? Pft, laugh at them and know you've truly won regardless the result.

Get creative and destroy your friends! Muwahahaha!

From Dawn to Darkness (Standard, Vanguard) By daveda

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Thanks for sharing, Ami and best of luck with the move! Assuming Ami plays paper Magic too, I hope my readers from Michigan welcome her to the Magic scene up there!

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