Look Ooze Talking

Posted in From the Lab on January 14, 2013

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, and welcome to the Lab! I'm your host, The Mimeo—I mean... Mike Cannon. And I totally have not been absorbed into any gelatinous, dinosaur-head-wielding bodies lately, you know, in case you were wondering.


Anyway... on to the topic of the day: Oozes.

Ooze History

Oozes are a proud, if scarce, race, of which I am definitely not a member, being an ordinary human like you. They have a long lineage, dating all the way back to Primordial Ooze in Legends. From this early predecessor sprung up a wide variety of creatures in every color save white. Although each has its own unique abilities, all are united under the Ooze banner. Many members of the species share Primordial Ooze's love of +1/+1 counters, and it was no surprise when during our first visit to Ravnica, the Simic's biggest and baddest monster turned out to be an Ooze.

Experiment Kraj

The last few years have been a major boon for the Ooze brotherhood, with at least one representative in every block since Shards of Alara. Acidic Slime has even been stubbornly maintaining an Ooze presence in the core set since Magic 2010. Even some of the special release sets were colonized by a few brave Oozes, most notably The Mimeoplasm in Commander. Isn't that guy great? Everyone sure loves him, with his charming personality and rugged good looks. Oh yeah, there was another guy there, too. Scavenging Ooze, I think. He's okay.

Ooze Biology

Oozes are extremely flexible. Utilizing +1/+1 counters, variable power and toughness, and tokens of all shapes and sizes, they can adapt to fill any role. They also enjoy eating things. Each Ooze has its own dietary requirements, but most enjoy creatures, either living or dead. Some feast on stranger things, like mana or artifacts, and others simply grow and grow without any identifiable food source. Some Oozes are toxic and should be avoided for your own safety, but not The Mimeoplasm. He's totally approachable and a cool guy to hang out with. Just so you know.

A few months ago, Simic scientists on Ravnica discovered a new type of Ooze, one that feeds on other creatures, but usually leaves them alive afterward. It seems to sap any extra strength they might have and use it to grow and multiply. Although these Oozes have been spotted all over Ravnica, no one knew where they were coming from. Until now. Researchers in the Ninth District believe they have finally uncovered the source of this phenomenon:

>> Click to Show

Ooze Flux is an interesting piece of technology. Converting +1/+1 counters into creatures isn't something that happens often in Magic, and there are bound to be a few ways to abuse this power. The first synergy that came to mind was of putting a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control. With Ooze Flux, those counters can turn into one fairly large creature token or several smaller ones. Mikaeus, the Lunarch and Ajani Goldmane can both give you this effect multiple times over the course of a game, netting you quite a bit of Ooze-making capability. Meadowboon only gives you the effect once, but can also be a reasonably sized creature itself in the meantime. Gavony Township is an excellent way to build up some +1/+1 counters, although it can be quite mana-intensive. As a land, however, it can add some extra redundancy to the deck without sacrificing much.

The most powerful version of this effect, however, is Cathars' Crusade. With the Crusade on the battlefield, you have some powerful options. You can remove every +1/+1 counter from your creatures, making a large Ooze token and replacing the counters, or you can remove just one, creating a small Ooze token in exchange for making the rest of your creatures grow larger. You also have access to every option in between, removing counters from less critical creatures and putting extras where you want them most.

Of course, all of this assumes you have some creatures on the battlefield, so you'll need some good ways of making that happen. Avacyn's Pilgrim and Llanowar Elves help you cast Ooze Flux and Cathars' Crusade ahead of schedule, and also provide bodies to put +1/+1 counters on. Gather the Townsfolk and Midnight Haunting give you two creatures each and don't cost very much mana, allowing you to build up a small army very quickly. Finally, Hunting Triad not only gives you three Elf Warrior tokens for your army, it can be used to put three +1/+1 counters on a creature in a pinch, either helping one of your creatures survive combat, or giving Ooze Flux some emergency fuel.

The final piece I wanted to include is another, albeit unrelated, way to have some fun with Ooze Flux: Protean Hydra. When you remove some of the Hydra's counters, it will grow back twice as many at the end of the turn. Although most of the time these counters are removed through damage, secretly it doesn't actually matter how you get them off. Thus, with say a 3/3 Protean Hydra on the battlefield, you can remove two +1/+1 counters to make a 2/2 Ooze token, then pass the turn, at which point your creature will grow back four more. During your opponent's turn, you can remove those four counters to create a 4/4 token, and by the time it gets back to your turn, your formerly 3/3 hydra will be a whopping 9/9.

Ooze Crusade

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Reduce, Re-Ooze, Recycle

There are two parts to Ooze Flux's ability: Removing +1/+1 counters and creating Ooze tokens. The latter seems like the part you're going to want to utilize. After all, removing counters is part of the ability's cost for a reason. Most of the time, +1/+1 counters are a good thing, and removing them from your creatures is a means to an end. But what if you want those counters gone? What if simply removing those +1/+1 counters was your goal in the first place? Well, then things get interesting.

Undying allows your creatures to return to the battlefield when they die, as long as they didn't have a +1/+1 counter on them. It also makes sure to put them back onto the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter firmly in place, so the ability is meant to be a one-shot deal. Not so with Ooze Flux. For just two mana, you can remove all the +1/+1 counters from your returned undying creatures, leaving them free to un-die another day. As long as you have the mana, you can continue this cycle indefinitely. But what do you do with an army that comes back to life for ?

Young Wolf
Strangleroot Geist

Phyrexian Altar holds the key. With the Altar on the battlefield, you can sacrifice your creatures to produce green mana, then use that mana to remove all the +1/+1 counters so you can sacrifice them again. If you have at least two creatures with undying, you can repeat this loop an arbitrarily large number of times. Normally you'd need another card to take advantage of an engine like this, but Ooze Flux provides a built-in win condition. Every time you repeat the combo, you get another Ooze token. Therefore, looping undying creatures an arbitrarily large number of times gives you an arbitrarily large number of Ooze tokens with which to kill your opponent.

Blasting Station provides another option, if a less exciting one. It will automatically untap itself every time you tap it, thanks to your creature returning to the battlefield with undying. This allows you to sacrifice your creatures to deal 1 damage each to a creature or player of your choice. This turns Ooze Flux into a sort of repeatable Mob Justice, dealing 1 damage to your opponent for each undying creature you control every time you activate its ability.

Blasting Station
Mob Justice

Blood Artist will double your damage output, while also giving you some extra life to help you survive. It can also be used with the first combo if you don't want to wait until you can attack with your Ooze army. Geralf's Messenger speeds up your win as well, and is already an integral part of the combo. Your opponent will lose a total of 3 life each time you sacrifice it to Blasting Station, plus the usual 1 for any other undying creatures you control.

Attrition gives you a nearly unlimited amount of removal capability, so long as the creatures you need to kill aren't black. Having one of these on the board will make it nearly impossible for your opponent to get anywhere with creatures.

A single Cauldron of Souls plays a sort of backup to Ooze Flux. It also lets you sacrifice Geralf's Messenger an unlimited number of times, but since you have to tap it rather than pay a mana cost, you're limited to two sacrifices per turn. Although not quite as exciting as going infinite with Ooze Flux, it still gives you some decent damage output if you can't find the pieces for the fancier combo.

Cauldron of Souls
Geralf's Messenger

A smattering of cheap creatures with undying is the last piece, providing the fuel for the fire. Chosen for mana cost more than anything else, Young Wolf, Butcher Ghoul, and Strangleroot Geist were the other creatures to make the cut.

Undying Ooze-ville

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A Slimy Battle

Ooze vs. Ooze, who will win, who will lose? The arena will choose.

Game 1

Undying Ooze-ville won the roll and started off with Llanowar Wastes. Ooze Crusade played a Forest and cast Avacyn's Pilgrim, then the black team cast a Butcher Ghoul. Ooze Crusade laid down a Mikaeus, the Lunarch with two counters, and Geralf's Messenger came down for Undying Ooze-ville, making the white team lose 2 life. Hunting Triad made a trio of tokens, and the black team cast a Phyrexian Altar before attacking with Geralf's Messenger. Ooze Crusade took the damage and used Mikaeus to put +1/+1 counters on its other creatures at the end of the turn.

Butcher Ghoul
Mikaeus, the Lunarch

The Hunting Triad attacked, and Butcher Ghoul threw itself in front of one of the Warriors. Undying Ooze-ville dropped to 16 and played a Cauldron of Souls. Geralf's Messenger attacked, dealing 3 damage, and Ooze Crusade cast a Midnight Haunting at the end of the turn to make a pair of Spirit token, then tapped Mikaeus to put a counter on himself as well. Ooze Flux came down for the white team, and after Mikaeus donated a counter to the rest of the army, the tokens came crashing in. Geralf's Messenger traded with a token, and the black team dropped to 6. The Messenger came back, dropping Ooze Crusade by 2, and Cauldron of Souls gave it persist, letting it be sacrificed to Phyrexian Altar again for another 2 life. Undying Ooze-ville cast a Blood Artist and sacrificed Geralf's Messenger at which point Ooze Crusade scooped.

Game 2

Ooze Crusade started off with a Forest, and Undying Ooze-ville did the same. A Plains for the white team was followed by Gather the Townsfolk, making two tokens. Undying Ooze-ville cast a Blood Artist, and Ooze Crusade cast a Llanowar Elves, missing the third land drop. The Humans attacked for 2, and the black team cast a Strangleroot Geist to swing back for revenge. Mikaeus, the Lunarch came down with two counters, and Undying Ooze-ville cast a second Strangleroot Geist, attacking with both. Ooze Crusade took the damage, and tapped Mikaeus to put a counter on himself.

Gather the Townsfolk
Blood Artist

The white team hit its third land and cast a Protean Hydra for three. Undying Ooze-ville cast Phyrexian Altar, and Mikaeus gave a counter to everyone at the end of the turn. Ooze Flux came down for Ooze Crusade, but the black team had an Ooze Flux of its own, and with Phyrexian Altar, a Blood Artist, and two undying creatures, the game was over on the spot.

The End?

Ah, the sight of a good battle always warms my translucent green heart... I mean that figuratively of course, since my heart is the same ugly meat color as all you humans. Today was fun, was it not? I'm sure you liked today much better than those other visits to the Lab. After all, who doesn't love getting good Ooze? Come back next week, by which time I will have finished digesting your auth—I mean... some... ideas. Yes. I am digesting some ideas for the Lab. It is a figure of speech. Goodbye.

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