Red is my favorite color in Magic, and it's an absolute travesty that it has been held back until the last of this series of theme weeks, even though salivating in earnest for today has been a Solar Blast. In my opinion, red is the most badass of all the five colors. Even limiting myself to Alara, as a planeswalker there I could spray magma, resound thunder, and submerge stuff in a very volcanic fashion.
I suppose black and green would have to be tied for the second most totally awesome color, however. Usually black is my answer, but green always has a surge of strength to propel it into second. Again, just within Alara, there are skulls that get mulched, drums that get hunted, and gargantuans that give gifts. Just in time for the holidays! Black is always in the running, though, with shadows that need feeding and infestations (with or without blowflies). Although I had a funny sense to write about all three of these colors today, it is Red Week, and the Golgari colors have to sit this one out.
What's that? Hmm ... (*checks all previous articles this week*). Jund, Jund, and even more of the black-red-green shard. Well then, it appears I was mistaken! I guess waiting around for Jund Week to come deluded my mind into focusing on the RED RED RED part of Jund and not so much on the green and black. To rectify this unfortunate mistake, I'm honing in on Necrogenesis to start off with.
Necrogenesis seems to be Jund's donation to the "Non-Allied Spells Towards Y'all" cause, or the N.A.S.T.Y. fund. Almost all five of this miniature cycle (I wouldn't hold anything against you if you included Swerve amongst its contemporaries) are nasty, and if you can't tell, this is the positive definition of "nasty" we're dealing with (would that be gnasty?). Bull Ceredon is a face-smashing beasty, while Jhessian Infiltrator and Tidehollow Sculler are simple upgrades of casual all-stars Gaea's Skyfolk and Mesmeric Fiend. Necrogenesis, however, may be the best of the lot. While technically a do-nothing card in the game's early stages, in the late game it is a powerhouse, as many Limited card-evaluators picked up on. Saproling after Saproling will come from the wreck of both players' graveyards if you have junk in the grumper and a bunch of land to tap.
It strikes me that Necrogenesis could fit best in the game plan of a Ravnica guild I've already mentioned once today: the Golgari. The impressive array of dredging amongst the gang of Trolls, Skeletons, and Plant Zombies should put a bunch of creatures into your graveyard for tons of Saprolings to be unleashed. Golgari Grave-Troll and Stinkweed Imp are obviously the cornerstones of any decent dredge deck. A timely flipping of Bane of the Living should clear the board and prompt a wave of Saprolings to erupt next turn.
There were two reasons to include a set of Woodlurker Mimics. One was that Necrogenesis was a cheap activation of the Mimic's 4/5 withering inner self (which boundlessly either slaughters or maims opposing creatures.) The other was that I knew Shambling Shell was a decent dredger, and that I had wanted to pair the Shell and the Mimic together since Chris Millar married them off a couple of months ago.
An irking issue with winning via 1/1 tokens is that they can be quickly outmatched. I used Creakwood Liege to buff my once-lowly Saprolings, and I went with Centaur Chieftain for trample goodness. The Centaur is sure to be at threshold, and it turns a Beta Strike of Sappys into an Alpha Strike of them. Another crude dude here is Nantuko Husk. With tons of Saprolings, the Husk could ... go ... all ... the ... way! (Hey, it's Thanksgiving time. Football is the current custom.)
The previously mentioned Saproling Cluster seems to be the yin to Necrogenesis's yang. Use it to discard your dredgers and make tokens early. If your opponent uses it, hopefully he or she will be discarding creatures for Necrogenesis to eat later, but even if not, your Saprolings will be bigger.
Cows Avoid Sushi
From one build-around-me to another, in this deck we'll finally get red. Oh yeah, I'm talking Vicious Shadows red. None of those pesky non-red colors together, like the last deck. Between you and me, I'm having a real problem not starting off a column with a black/green deck (Hello, unwieldy Mighty Emergence deck!), so here's a –wait, we're actually building around Vicious Shadows?
I tried to slip that sentence in where you couldn't find it, but yes, Vicious Shadows has a home today. In what is maybe the most random effect on a seven-mana card since Goblin Game (the Future Sight edition of Boldwyr Intimidator is an acceptable answer as well) Vicious Shadows is a crazy crossbreed between Stalking Vengeance and Sudden Impact. To sum up the red enchantment, whenever a creature kicks the bucket, you basically get a free Gaze of Adamaro.
To start off with, we need some guys that like hitting the black nets. Mogg War Marshal is simply an amazing card everywhere. Greater Gargadon forms the second half of that Time Spiral tag team. Mogg Fanatic is a stalwart. (Goblinmogg Stalwart?)
Next, the wacky. Shah of Naar Isle is a fine specimen for this deck. Where otherwise you'd really have to think about letting your opponent play Ancestral Recall for free, in this deck you wouldn't think twice. Go ahead and draw! By the time the Shah has reached the end of its amazing fatty beat-stick life, Vicious Shadows will punish your opponent. If you already have the Shadows in play, your opponent may actually choose not to draw three, at which point you just played a 6/6 trampler for four without a drawback.
Now you could add Seething Songs and eight burn spells, and season to taste. Or I could get wackier. Yeah, that's a no-brainer.
You see, I didn't want my opponent's hand to have, oh, just four or five cards in it. I wanted more! I wanted eight, or ten! I basically wanted to outright kill the opponent in one shot with Vicious Shadows. That's the essential reject rare build-around dream, is it not? So I turned to Upheaval. This outstanding card is the ultimate in bounce spells. Every Unsummon that begins its career path (shooting for a degree in bouncing) looks up to Upheaval. It's the pinnacle of bouncing, so much so that professional trampoline artists dream of meeting it. I could go on, you know.
What I'm ultimately trying to say is, an Upheaval played at the right time could cause your opponents hand to swell finitely. At which point, a Mogg Fanatic could take one for the team, and boom goes the cannon. The problem is, Upheaval bounces all your permanents, including your Vicious Shadows. By the time you've done anything post-Upheaval, your opponent will have discarded to seven, and while a Searing Flesh is nice, it's no Searing Wind (which is basically what I'm aiming for.)
Enter Jhoira of the Ghitu.
The dream is to stick Jhoira on turn three, and then suspend both Upheaval and Vicious Shadows on turn four. By the time both cards tick down to zero, you can choose the way they resolve. Have Upheaval resolve first. All permanents get bounced. Then Vicious Shadows comes into play. You'll have just enough resources to cause the oncoming explosion. Simply play a Mountain you just bounced and summon a Mogg Fanatic you just bounced. If that doesn't kill them, the second one for 7 or 8 should.
At this point, Paradox Haze looks like a good add. With it, the Upheaval / Shadows co-suspend counters will tick off faster. More importantly, so will stuff like Ancestral Vision (the "target player" on this makes me a happy bear) and Greater Gargadon. Keldon Marauders deals a load of damage anyway, and when the shadows get vicious, it really brings the pain.
My goal was to make a Vicious Shadows deck that couldn't simply cut the Shadows for Stalking Vengeance. If you have the dream draw, by all means go for it. I attempted to make the deck stable in case you draw into key pieces, like Upheaval.
The numerous three-ofs are due to the stuff I wanted to fit in and believe me, there's more goodies for this deck than a Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind EDH deck. Psychic Possession, Cerebral Vortex, Ebony Owl Netsuke, and even stuff like Dark Suspicions could fit. Tinkering around with Etched Oracle seems like it would be fruitful as well. Ah, target player. Whenever I play Laser Tag next, that's my new catchphrase.
Earmarked Sherbert Sender
OK, so I haven't even talked about Jund yet. Wasn't I supposed to be in love with the shard, and couldn't wait to talk about it? Why haven't I talked about devour, that Johnnyriffic ability from Shards of Alara, yet? Well, I guess that makes it devour time.
A long, long time ago, in a month far, far away (well, two months), Skander, the architect of the Thermopod + Duergar Mine-Captain + Elemental Mastery combo, emailed me with a downright amazing interaction with the devour creatures. Imagine playing Tar Fiend the turn after landing Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder.
As Skander puts it, "Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder together with any devour creature means a lot of free munchies. None of the devour creatures cost over six, so keeping Endrek alive shouldn't be much of a problem. I can't wait to play a Skullmulcher drawing five cards or playing a Predator Dragon as a 16/16 flying haste monstrosity!"
That stuff's made of gold, folks. It's got to be the best use for Endrek I've personally seen. But the more I talk about it, the more it seems to lose its luster. Luster freaks, stay away, because I'm going to add a couple tips.
First off, a mass amount of Thrulls has, post-Morningtide, actually become a great option. Why? Shared Animosity! Even if Endrek Sahr winds up heading to the graveyard (Thrull overdose), the seven or more thrulls could combine for a large attacking force.
Secondly, getting five Thrull tokens from a Skullmulcher is truly awesome, but even more tokens would mean even more cards. A played Marsh Flitter with the Master Breeder in play means six total tokens—four Thrulls and two Goblin Rogues.
Your survival tools? Brainspoil can find Endrek Sahr, Skullmulcher, the incredible Caldera Hellion, Shriekmaw, or Perilous Forays. Various land searchers speed you up some turns, and Bone Splinters kills problematic creatures.
Wondering why Mycoloth is strangely absent? Me too! Ask next week, which is conveniently when I'll see you next. Until then!
"Keep your pace steady through the haze, lest you step on the heels of your future self or trip the self a moment behind you." –Teferi