Seafood Chain

Posted in From the Lab on October 27, 2014

By Mike Cannon

Mike Cannon started writing From the Lab at the end of 2012 after two years with GatheringMagic. He is an ardent casual player and loves finding uses for bad cards.

Greetings, laboratorians! Today is a very special day here at the lab, because I have a new preview card to share with you! Commander 2014 is right around the corner, and each of these preconstructed decks will add a few unique cards to the format. Although all of these cards are pretty impressive, the one I'm showing off is possibly the most scary. When it hits the board, your opponents will be wondering how in the world they're going to deal with the awesome might of the Reef Worm.

Reef Worm | Art by Dan Scott

Ok, so the name isn't exactly intimidating. I mean, I can't imagine Saffi Eriksdotter yelling, "Ach! Hans, run! It's the Reef Worm!" Then again, names aren't everything. I'm sure there's a plane out there where Reef Worms grow large enough to crush elephants.

What? It's a 0/1? For four mana? You're not exactly filling me with confidence here. Are you sure this card is awesome? I distinctly remember being told that it was awesome.

Wait, I get it. The card has some activated ability or something, right? Like, instead of attacking and blocking it blows up creatures or drains life from your opponents. No? You're kidding me, right? No power, no activated abilities...this card isn't going to be awesome after all.

I take it back! I take it all back, this thing is amazing!

Reef Worm may not be your traditional big threat, but it can provide an insane amount of value over the course of a game. If you're not looking to do anything crazy, it probably blocks a creature to save you some damage as a 0/1, gets in an attack or two as a 3/3, trades with another creature as a 6/6, and then starts steamrolling your opponents as a 9/9. If you are looking to do something crazy, Reef Worm can certainly oblige.

Worm Bombardment

My first thought when looking at Reef Worm was using a sacrifice outlet to skip straight to the 9/9. After all, a 9/9 for just four mana is a great deal. However, it seemed a shame to just pass right by all that power. In fact, Reef Worm has a total of 18 power between the four creatures.

Wait a minute—18 is very close to a number of some significance in Magic. Players generally begin the game with 20 life. If I could convert Reef Worm's power into damage, that would get me very close to winning the game.

As it turns out, that's not nearly as hard as it might seem. Pandemonium and its bigger brother Warstorm Surge will let you slap your opponent in the face with a Fish. And a Whale. And a Kraken.

Now we just need a way to get that last 2 damage in and a way to sacrifice creatures. Fortunately, we can kill two birds with one stone. Blasting Station and Goblin Bombardment will fulfill both roles.

Reef Worm could use a little backup, and the first card that came to mind was Mitotic Slime. It's sort of a reverse Reef Worm, splitting off into smaller creatures instead of summoning larger ones. It only has 12 power between the creatures, but you also have seven total creatures to sacrifice to Goblin Bombardment. That's 19 damage right there, which means you can sacrifice any other creature you happen to have to win the game.

To make sure you have another creature, I've added in Birds of Paradise and Sylvan Caryatid. Those two will also make sure you have the colors of mana you need and make it a bit easier to cast the more expensive spells in the deck. That leaves room for one more card, and I couldn't resist tossing in a few copies of Impulse. Its ability to dig through your deck for the exact card you need is pretty impressive and two mana isn't much to ask for that kind of utility.

Warstorm Reef

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Lone Survivor

Reef Worm doesn't really die. It just gives you a bigger Fish to fry. Traditional methods of dealing with creatures, such as Day of Judgment, don't really work on the Worm. That got me thinking. What if you're the one casting Day of Judgment? Everyone else is left with no creatures, and you can freely attack with your 3/3. If your opponent casts a blocker big enough to kill it, you can simply wipe the board again and start attacking with your 6/6.

To end the game even faster, Phantasmal Image can make a copy of Reef Worm to give you another big threat. Its drawback isn't even a drawback anymore when triggering it upgrades your creature to a 3/3.

I wanted one more creature that would come back from a board sweeper, so I looked to the top dog of an old vertical cycle from Apocalypse. The Penumbra cycle contained a common, an uncommon, and a rare, each bigger than the last. The biggest of them all was Penumbra Wurm, which aside from being a reasonably costed 6/6 with trample, had the ability to come back from the grave in the form of a black creature token.

To repeatedly clear the battlefield, Day of Judgment and its predecessor Wrath of God have stepped up to the plate. In addition, Planar Cleansing gives you a way to deal with permanents other than creatures, albeit for a few extra mana.

This is essentially a control deck, so I've also included a few counterspells to slow your opponent down and stop any key spells that would disrupt your plan. Since the deck has plenty of white mana, Absorb seemed like a solid choice. Dissolve works as well, trading the lifegain for a scry. Mana Leak is a good stopgap for the early game that allows you to counter spells before you have your mana base set up properly.

Preordain does a lot of work smoothing out your draws, making sure you hit your land drops or finding a Wrath when you need one. For late-game card advantage, it doesn't get much better than Sphinx's Revelation. The card can also help maintain your life total if you don't want to clear the board just yet.

Reef Worm Control

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Reefs and Shamans

My next idea came from one of my favorite Magic cards of all time: Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. As it turns out, making a copy of Reef Worm every turn is kind of powerful. If you want to go right to the big stuff, you can even copy the token next turn to make a Whale when it dies, then copy the Whale after that to make a 9/9 every time you pass the turn.

For backup, I'll be adding in the best card in my own Kiki-Jiki Commander deck: Rukh Egg. Although not quite the super-combo Reef Worm is, making a 4/4 with flying every turn isn't half bad. I'll also add in Roc Egg and Blade Splicer. While not as powerful as the others, they do hit the battlefield a turn earlier.

Kiki-Jiki could use some backup himself. Unfortunately, more recent versions of the effect exile the creature at the beginning of the end step instead of sacrificing it. Cards like Splinter Twin and Mimic Vat can make copies of your creatures, but you'll miss out on those sweet death triggers...unless, of course, you sacrifice the token before it gets exiled.

Ashnod's Altar can take care of that. Now you can trigger Reef Worm's ability and get a couple extra mana to cast any other spells in your hand. Phyrexian Tower and High Market can do the job as well, and they don't take up a spell slot in the deck.

Wurmcoil Engine is a great top end for the deck. You can attack with a 6/6 right away, then sacrifice it and still have two 3/3 tokens left over. In just a few turns you can assemble an army far too large for your opponent to deal with.

To deal with any problematic creatures on your opponent's side of the battlefield, it doesn't get much better than Swords to Plowshares. One mana to exile any creature is pretty incredible, and with the late-game power of this deck the lifegain shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Once you have a Kiki-Jiki up and running, Duplicant can make sure your opponent never gets another creature again. You can exile something every turn, and it doesn't come back when Duplicant dies. Finally, Fabricate can search for any of the singleton artifacts in the deck, making sure you're prepared for any situation.

Early Rukh Gets the Worm

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Eye of the Dragon

Commander (2014 Edition) will be released next Friday, but for me it's time to get back to Khans of Tarkir. There's still a lot left to explore in the set, and next week I'll be taking a look at the clan that leans toward Johnny ideals more than any other. Red and blue are undoubtedly the kings of combo these days, although older players may remember when black securely held that title. Combine them with the versatility of white, and there are plenty of opportunities for crazy combo shenanigans.

In the meantime, check out the other new cards of C14, and if one of them gets your Johnny senses tingling, throw a deck together and send the list to MTGCannon@gmail.com. If you're lucky, you might even see it pop up in a future article. See ya!

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