Start the Guest-tivities!

Posted in Feature on May 22, 2008

By Noel deCordova

Welcome back to yet another House of Cards on yet another Thursday, which is right in the middle of yet another week. I could go on with dozens of unnecessary yets, but then I'd have the Yeti family crime gang after me, something I'd like to avoid. Just the other day I caught Stalking Yeti in his famous pastime of, um, stalking. In any case, today's column will be filled with plenty of tasty selections for Johnnys around the Internet. Ahead lies synergy, strategy, and an infinit-

Eh? What's that? You were expecting someone else? Biggish, and likely to be found in a cold environment? Well, I've no idea who you're talking about. I just hope the Yetis didn't get to him.

Guest-er's Cap

Stalking_YetiI kid, I kid. Of course I know whom you're referring to. (Isn't hearing voices just the greatest?) The question is: Do you know who I am? To bring everyone up to speed, my name is Noel deCordova, and I'll be filling in for Chris today. The powers that be at have decreed it so.

If my name seems familiar for any reason, it should be because I have a fond passion for flooding Chris's inbox full of potential combos most times a set is released, and some of these ideas survive a tedious judging process before being voted 'Magical Idol.' If my name is familiar for any other reason, then I either know you (Hi Mom! Hi Wes! Hi Asia!) or you're a Stalking Yeti. And if you're the latter, might I recommend the lovely armory of Velis Vel? Blades of Velis Vel and Shields of Velis Vel at half price!

Enough with the petty introductions. Let's get rolling to some deck ideas!

I Could Savor This Moment...Forever

Ah, the turn-taking sorcery. Ever since the unholy power of Time Walk, these flashy spells never have what it takes to match up. Some like living on the edge (Final Fortune, Stitch in Time), while some draw the line at a higher mana cost (Walk the Aeons, Time Warp). The last child to come from the almighty well of extra turn-taking is the notably less-than-par Savor the Moment, which sadly can only dream on in comparison to its powerful non-reject-rare ancestry. Well, eat the rich, I say! Savor the Moment has a tricky drawback, to be sure, but it's the cheapest variant of the effect since the aforementioned Stitch in Time, and it has some nifty interactions with other recently printed cards.

Savor the Moment
So, you play Savor the Moment. Great! Now what? To maximize the opportunity (the moment, if you will) you might want to figure out how to get your permanents untapped. Since Savor the Moment has quite a Merfolk flavor to it, and since the merrows have been winning the tap / untap race since Lorwyn, I figured I'd start there. Besides providing some truly crazy shenanigans with the various Merfolk millers, Merrow Commerce has great combo potential here. Now you untap all your Merfolk. Great. But why would you want to do that anyway?

Having some tap-happy Merfolk would work well. Merfolk Looter can sift through your library. Sigil Tracer is a neat way to get your fish-people tapped, while possibly copying a spell or two. And Drowner of Secrets keeps jumping into these sorts of decks.

That's the standard fare (literally.) The deck basically builds itself from there. However, what can we do to make Savor the Moment less of another mill-folk helper? I'm still going to use Merrow Commerce, as I find that combo irresistible to turn away from, but I'm going to pair it with some different Merfolk that never see much play.

I decided to build around the combination of Savor the Moment and Mist of Stagnation. The Mist allows you to untap your various permanents during your upkeep for each card in your graveyard, as well as hampering your opponent in the meantime. If you have a fat creature that you want to beat with, chances are you won't need very many cards in your yard to prepare it for battle. On the other hand, if you want to pull off some more complex strategies, you'll need a well-stocked grumper. Three guesses in which direction I'm going in.

To fill my graveyard, I'm using the aforementioned Merfolk Looter and Compulsion. For the following combo to go off, your graveyard needs to have at least eight cards in it. For what purpose?

Spellweaver Helix + Savor the Moment + Summon the School

Spellweaver Helix
With these spells imprinted on the nutty Helix (which seems to get better and better as the years go by), if you play a new Summon the School, a copy of Savor will show up. You can then tap enough Merfolk to return the Summon the School to your hand. On your new turn, Mist of Stagnation can untap four lands and four Merfolk, allowing you to repeat the loop. Stonybrook Banneret can reduce the number of untapped lands you need, making things easier to go off. And if you rig your Mutavaults into Merfolk Shapeshifter Oysters, the Commerce can untap them for the new turn, giving you multiple ways to dodge the painful drawback.

To win, you'll only need one of those Merfolk to be Stonybrook Schoolmaster, who can generate enough Merfolk tokens over the course of infinite turns to flood your opponent for the win. Even without the combo, the Schoolmaster works well with Summon the School, which is no news to anyone who drafted Lorwyn / Morningtide.

One thing I haven't mentioned yet is using Savor the Moment alongside creatures with , the wacky untap symbol introduced in Shadowmoor. If you only play a Savor during your turn and leave all your other lands untapped, you can attack with Merrow Wavebreakers and untap it after combat, ready for the new turn. Merrow Commerce can only help.

Finally, I threw in a Panoptic Mirror for kicks. Unlike the costly Walk the Aeons or the risky Stitch in Time, Savor the Moment works well with the Mirror. Only three mana is necessary for imprinting, and the Mirror doesn't tap as it plays the spell's copies. A match made in Magic! (Feel free to imprint Summon the School as well.)

Moments of Mist

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Solar and Lunar Cycles

All right, what's next on my Shadowmoor To-Do List? Hmm... Break Devoted Druid, check, attempt to use Savor the Moment in a potentially successful deck, check, rig every booster of the set I buy with my Change-Rare-to-Swans of Bryn Argoll-O-Matic 6000, chec—whoops! Guess I kind of, heh heh, read too far on the list. Let's just awkwardly transition to the next idea, shall we? (My blueprints are faulty anyway. I keep getting Worldpurges instead!)

Wheel of Sun and Moon
While reading through the Shadowmoor spoiler, Wheel of Sun and Moon caught my eye for more than a few seconds. After barely any thought, I dismissed it as yet another hoser of the powerful Dredge archetype that is racking up the victories in the non-Standard formats. However, when I came back to it (as if on a wheel of some sort) on my second read-through, I examined it further and realized the card's potential. Like many seemingly blatant hosing cards (Pull from Eternity, for one), Wheel of Sun and Moon can interact with many different strategies.

Because of the Wheel's hybrid mana cost, I decided to build two decks around the card: one with green and one with white. For the first deck, I remembered a small section of Odyssey block that seemed at odds with the graveyard-first environment. Carrion Rats threatened to be a black Savannah Lions, but a threshold player would just shrug, having a stocked yard to deplete. The same goes for Carrion Wurm and the much-maligned Gravestorm,

Some can argue that the only worthwhile aspect of Gravestorm is the similarly named keyword ability, which was revealed in Future Sight. It's certainly hard not to agree: with an explicitly mono-black mana cost and the low chance that you'll draw a card at all, Gravestorm is simply an inferior version of Phyrexian Arena.

Well, fear not, underused Odyssey block cards! Wheel of Sun and Moon is at your service. As long as you enchant your opponent with the Wheel, not only can you randomly short circuit your opponent's gameplan (many strategies nowadays focus on the graveyard, such as Reveillark or persist), but all the drawbacks of your Carrion creatures disappear. A first-turn Carrion Rats into a second turn Wheel sounds like good times to me, especially when followed by a third-turn Gravestorm.

Obviously the deck will need a hefty amount of mana-fixing to make up for its and enchantments. The always-reliable Sakura-Tribe Elder (Steve to his friends) can help as ever, but I'm reserving four slots for Prismatic Omen, the latest and perhaps the greatest mana-fixer of all. Not only does the Omen repair your color issues for the rest of the game, but it also works well with spells that care about basic land types. Spells such as Tendrils of Corruption and Beacon of Creation fit the bill.

Keeper of the Dead
Wheel of Sun and Moon is definitely one of those cards that allows you to break the symmetry of a global effect, a la Leyline of the Void. Speaking of spot removal, Keeper of the Dead becomes a nigh-Royal Assassin with the Wheel on your opponent. Since your opponent's graveyard will always be empty, you only need two creatures in your graveyard to fire up the Keeper. Oath of Ghouls works in a similar fashion. Shriekmaw adds to the removal party while hitting the graveyard at the same time. If you don't have a Wheel out yet, Offalsnout fulfills the same purpose by emptying a bit of your opponent's graveyard while filling yours.

Enslaved Horror can give the deck a much-needed four drop minus a drawback, but I couldn't resist adding Yavimaya Enchantress. With all the cheap enchantments in the deck, the Enchantress should be a lethal weapon. And just for fun, I added a Gorilla Titan, who gives you a reason to enchant yourself with the Wheel. Sure, it's counteractive with the rest of the deck's plan, but who cares? Besides, how can anyone resist that flavor text?

Killer Wheel

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The next deck switches things up a bit in various ways. For instance, instead of a green-black deck, I'm swiveling it around to a blue-white deck. For another instance, instead of enchanting your opponent with Wheel of Sun and Moon, this time you're enchanting yourself. Why?

Energy Field

Energy Field.

Now that your graveyard basically doesn't exist anymore, the Energy Field's sacrifice trigger will never occur, making you as death-proof as Kurt Russell. Of course, a single Elvish Hexhunter can ruin your day, which is why I included a set of Greater Auramancys to protect things. Since everything important costs two mana, Muddle the Mixture becomes a worthy tutor, and Idyllic Tutor becomes, well, an idyllic tutor.

With a Wheel spinning around your opponent, Web of Inertia provides another immortality combo. Now your opponent has to deal with your enchantments or he or she never gets to attack again. Reinforcing this logic, Lost in Thought becomes a two-mana blue Arrest.

Mesa Enchantress ensures that your grip will be stocked, while Celestial Ancient can go after your opponent's life total. And if anything goes wrong, Auramancer can help pick up the pieces.

Energy, Wheeled

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Raid O'Clock, Eastern Scuzzback Time

Apparently, from the mindset of the Scuzzback gang, it's always "raid o'clock." After waiting about three days for my watch to show this time, I became impatient and subsequently decided to smash it to smithereens. I similarly destroyed my digital and cuckoo clocks (I have a lot of timepieces) before my hourglass, of all things, gave me the time I was looking for. (I would point out the fact that I broke the hourglass and spelled out "raid o'clock" with the sand, but this joke has gone on far enough.)

Impromptu Raid
Where did I learn of this nonexistent time? All signs point to the flavor text of Impromptu Raid, the flagship enchantment for the Scuzzback crew of Shadowmoor. The Raid appears to be the answer to the following puzzling conundrum: What do you get when you cross Call of the Wild with Killer Instinct? Besides another crowd-pleasing name (what's a raid without its impromptu-ness?) Impromptu Raid takes the ability of Killer Instinct and latches it onto a repeatable activated ability a la Call of the Wild.

I was toying with another Legacy deck using the Johnny-tastic Mortuary and Elvish Aberration (feel free to expand from there), but it quickly dawned on me that a feasible Raid deck could be built in Standard. Many cards in Lorwyn block focus on manipulating the top of your library through the clash or kinship mechanics. The Harbinger cycle in particular seems like a neat way to have a ripe fatty join the Raid. I decided to use Flamekin Harbinger, as it can find the Lorwyn Elemental Incarcerations like Hostility, Vigor, and Dread. Besides being 6-power fatties, these creatures will automatically shuffle themselves back into your library, ready to be tutored up again. For more tutor-ness, I used some clash cards as well as Liliana Vess, who can find whatever you need for any situation.

Shivan Wumpus seems like a really mean creature to Raid out. If your opponent would rather sacrifice a land than have the Wumpus hit the table, you can keep on Raiding, ramping up the pressure every time. The Wumpus has trample built in, meaning a chump-blocker won't totally nullify it, and once it's finishing Raiding, just pop it back on top of your library with Footbottom Feast and watch your opponent squirm. As the Lorwyn reincarnation of Bone Harvest, but with less bone and more, um, footbottom, the Feast can be incredibly useful in this deck by stacking your library from your graveyard.

Countryside Crusher can ensure that you won't miss very much with the Raid, as it gobbles up all your tasty land from your deck. And to spruce up the fatty count, I added a set of Demigod of Revenge. Now, granted, the Demigod's ability won't trigger if you Raid it out (it has to be actually played) but it's a decent beater on its own, and if you do actually play one, the others pop out of the graveyard.


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Well, that's all the time I have left. Chris will return next week with a boatload of combos, decks, and painful puns. Hope you all enjoyed the ravings of a dedicated casual Johnny. And who knows? I might show up again sometime.

Until next time, watch out for Stalking Yeti!

Noel deCordova

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