Knowledge Pool: The Mailbag

Posted in From the Lab on January 27, 2011

By Noel deCordova

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the first From the Lab since a small internet-based explosion hit my mailbox last week. This explosion resulted due to a massive tidal wave of emails, which flooded my inbox. Apparently the synapse-shattering sickness that is Knowledge Pool cannot be contained to just one column.

And by the way, no, I don't have another preview card from Mirrodin Besieged today. That's because the whole set is, um, on the Visual Spoiler as I type. Technically, I could search that and do a fake preview of another new cool, Johnnytastic card (hello, Mirrorworks!) but I think I'll leave the full set alone for a while. And by a while, I mean a week. That's just enough time for you all to head over to the Mirrodin BesiegedPrerelease events this weekend and experience the set firsthand. In light of last week's inbox explosion (not an exbox implosion, that would be a sight indeed) I'd love to hear about some crazy combos with crazy Mirrodin Besieged cards. From only a couple passes through the Visual Spoiler, it seems like a lovely Johnny set overall, and I'll need all the help I can get.

So back to Knowledge Pool, the card that finally broke my brain. I'm floored it's not mythic rare, but that's another topic altogether. Thus far, this is the only card I've dedicated a mailbag column to, which is a pretty grandiose statement, I think. Let's see what you all had to say!

    Perplexing Pool

(And yes, that is a Pikmin 2 reference.)

Will Cooper was excited about adding the Knowledge Pool to his already potent Sphinx-Bone Wand deck, which he kindly shared with me. As he said, "The deck might have to be reworked slightly to properly support Knowledge Pool, but it will definitely be worth it, because that can give me potentially TWO Sphinx-Bone Wand triggers for every spell I cast. Also, my deck is designed to cast lots and lots of cheap spells, so I should tend to get the majority of the good stuff that ends up in the Pool, especially if I up the number of instants that I can respond with if my opponent tries to snag something good from the Pool." Sounds synergistic to me.

Will's Sphinx-Bone Wand Deck

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Will wasn't the only person to try his hand at Sphinx-Bone Wanding. Louis came up with a mono-blue creation with lots of linking synergies.

Louis's Mean Looking Blue

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Sorcery (8)
4 Preordain 4 Shape Anew
Instant (4)
4 Steady Progress
Land (18)
14 Island 4 Halimar Depths
42 Cards

Another cool instant-sorcery kind of spin on the Pool came from Nate Hannon, who always seems to come through in the clutch. Here's his take on a spiritcrafty Knowledge Pool deck.

Nate's Spirit Pool

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Nate explains: "There are a lot of obvious uses for Knowledge Pool. There are also some much less obvious uses, such as using it in this mono-green Spirit deck.

Knowledge Pool triggers when you cast a spell and allows you to cast another spell. If both spells are Spirits, then all of your spiritcraft abilities will trigger twice. With a supercharged Elder Pine of Jukai/Loam Dweller/Soilshaper engine, or just a Kodama of the South Tree and a large army, it shouldn't be too hard to attack for the win.

Of course, if your opponent tries to cast something scary, feel free to steal that instead. Gather Courage can potentially steal your opponent's best spell for no mana at instant speed. Meanwhile, most of your spells provide less of a benefit if your opponent manages to cast them. Most opponents won't be able to benefit from spiritcraft or pump Chameleon Colossus. There are several lands with useful abilities, which can be found using Elder Pine of Jukai but which your opponent cannot access with Knowledge Pool."

A lot of people liked the idea of filling a Knowledge Pool deck with spells. They're useful on their own, can be cast for a low price (just set as ) and your opponent(s) will find them absolutely useless under the Pool. Sacha Stelder built a really cool deck featuring the latest awesome cycle of spells, the Zeniths.

Sacha's Poolside Sun

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Creature (4)
4 Palladium Myr
Sorcery (4)
4 Dimir Machinations
Instant (8)
4 Lightning Bolt 4 Fault Line
48 Cards

Many people were rather brutish about their use of Knowledge Pool (in a good way.) Rather than toy with intricate instant and sorcery strategies, they opted for decks that got crazy fatties like the Eldrazi or Blightsteel Colossus onto the battlefield as soon as possible. By the way, just as a reminder to myself more than anything ... Blightsteel Colossus exists now. Just when I thought the Eldrazi redefined "game-winning fatty," a mere two sets later there's a new contender for the throne. But I digress. Here are some of these cool decks.

Nick's Blightsteel Pool

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Creature (10)
4 Trinket Mage 3 Memnite 3 Ornithopter
Sorcery (6)
3 Foresee 3 Preordain
Instant (4)
4 Mana Leak
Artifact (3)
3 Everflowing Chalice
Enchantment (2)
2 Leyline of Anticipation
Land (23)
23 Island
48 Cards

Nick wrote, "Trinket Mage to search for cost artifacts. Treasure Mage to search for Knowledge Pool. Leyline allows you to play the cost artifacts as instants (just in case your opponent tries to take advantage of you by casting an instant after you play Knowledge Pool). Preordain and Foresee to make sure you're not going to exile crap when you play Knowledge Pool (and obviously for some card draw). And Blightsteel just seems like a cool card to cast for zero."

I love it. And by the way, people, we need a nickname for artifacts that Treasure Mage can fetch. Trinket Mage fetches "cogs." Something similarly monosyllabic and witty would be perfect.

Anyway, apparently killing people with Phage the Untouchable is still hysterical. And no, not the saboteur way—but the dramatic, over-the-top, From the Lab mainstay kind of way. Knowledge Pool and Mindslaver combine to make this possible, according to Ian Kellogg's deck. Ian wrote: "Essentially, the deck's plan is to tutor for Mindslaver and Knowledge Pool, cheating them onto the 'field with Transmuter. It's essential to get Mindslaver out before Knowledge Pool so the combo can reliably be pulled off. Insidious Dreams nets three Phage the Untouchables on top. Once Phage is swimming, activate Mindslaver, then force the opponent to cast anything, selecting Phage as the Knowledge Pool spell, which causes the opponent to lose the game. Alternatively, you could simply cast Phage from you hand to put her in the pool, activate Mindslaver, and pull off your combo that way."

Ian's Curiosity Killed

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There were a TON of suggestions for the Pacts from Future Sight, a cycle I proudly used with Hive Mind to win the game. Naturally, the infamous free spells fit here as well. Here's Ross Yoo's deck, which gets obscure points for using Second Sight!

Ross's Poison the (Knowledge) Well

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Ross wrote: "The goal for this deck goes something like this: Hold a Pact or three in a color your opponent can't pay, Second Sight to stack both decks the way you like them, then cast the Pool (or drop it in for with the Transmuter). If there are any cards in the Pool that aren't Pacts (and you should have put them there on purpose), cast the ones from your hand to pull them out (they cost !). At the end of your turn, all your opponent can do is watch their spells get at sea—I mean in the Pool. And if they're in danger of casting two in the hopes of getting one back, another consequent-free Pact allows you to pull it out from under their nose!

If that wasn't enough fun, play another Pool to skim some more stuff out of your opponent's deck—since you control both, you can stack the triggers so that they can only access one (and you can bet it isn't the one with the good stuff). Add a Master Transmuter, and you could keep stealing spells for a long while. A looong while."

Finally, amidst the smorgasbord of emails that contributed to general sane (that's the keyword) Knowledge Pool discussion, I was glad to see that someone else appreciated the pure insanity contained within this card. That someone was madman Darth Parallax, who happily unleashed the asylum-friendly Ultimate Showdown multiplayer format upon the world (and subsequently inspired me to create three new multiplayer formats) last year. Upon the release of Knowledge Pool, he emailed me thusly:

"Ow. My brain hurts. You wanted nuts-bonkers? I'll give you nuts-bonkers. It's time to break everything.

Darth Parallax's Infinite Universes of Chaos

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I dare you to play it and tell me what happens.

Obviously the point is to cast your whole deck with Mind's Desire. I honestly don't know what happens after that. I also suggest not asking any judges who you plan to be friends with either.

Of course, in order to make the deck go off, you'll need a partner to up your storm count with a Memnite-Ornithopter-Leyline of Anticipation deck (or something similar), because every card in THIS deck is bombs and mana. But assuming you and your partner play decently and survive to turn six ...

THEN all hell breaks loose.

This is easily the least consistent deck there is, since it relies on another deck to function, and the thing it does probably doesn't win games. But this is about having fun, not winning, so it works. I think."

Absolutely. Of course, this deck almost begs multiplayer. I have one more suggestion for this concoction, and it's a doozy. Grip of Chaos. Yes, that's a real card. You're welcome.

Even if your email wasn't included today, make no mistake! I read them all, and marveled at many creations that, alas, were too long and many to include. Next week, we finally enter the Besieged world of Mirrodin. Until then!

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