Don't Get Mad, Get Angry

Posted in Serious Fun on May 14, 2002

By Anthony Alongi

Of all the different, new dynamics Judgment gives us, the incarnations may inspire the greatest paradigm shift in how players think strategically.

Don't pretentious sentences with ridiculous terms like “paradigm shift” make you furious?

If they do, Anger is the card for you.

Incarnations are actually quite simple. They tell your opponent, “if you make me lose this card -- if I play it as a creature and you kill it; or if you make me discard it; or if you force me to put Buried Alive in my deck so I can take the best advantage of these cards -- then you will be miserable for the rest of the game.”

The incarnations are like super-enchantments (and don't miss the irony here: black, which can never get rid of enchantments, is about the only color with a shot at removing these). In the graveyard, the least vulnerable zone in the game, even the least impressive incarnation will give you a solid advantage…

…assuming, of course, that you control creatures.

The beauty of Anger is that those creatures don't need to be on the board yet. In tournament play, Anger has startling similarities to Fires of Yavimaya (and in fact Anger is arguably better in some situations, since you can pitch it to a Wild Mongrel you cast on turn two and then attack with the 3/3 black dog). In limited formats, Anger is good enough to include in any deck that uses mountains, and it will throw off your opponents' math, since he can't make combat decisions based only on what's on the board.

But in group play… ah, in group play… Anger begins to shine even brighter.

Anger represents a clear warning to players with choices: “if you attack me this turn, what will attack you next turn?” You can either leave it to their imagination (which will scrounge up thoughts of Rith, the Awakener and Tsabo Tavoc), or you can show them what you have in mind with a complement of bouncing creatures -- Phantom Whelp, Windscouter, and if you don't mind the automatic Time Ebb, Saprazzan Outrigger.

BE ANGRY, NOT HASTY

Theme decks have great appeal to casual players. As a result, I often get decklists from readers that include Angel's Trumpet and Serra Angel, or Fires of Yavimaya and Keldon Champion. If it's to have fun with the theme, great. But if not, spend your precious mana on additional abilities, not the same ones that other cards already bestow on your creatures.

So Yavimaya Ants? A waste of cumulative upkeep. Skizzik? One of my favorites, but no thanks this time. Spirit of the Night? Well, no one wants to argue with him, and it's not like the guy doesn't have four other abilities. Sure, let him in.

But save a few choice spots to those creatures who, say, have an ability that requires tapping… like Tahngarth, Talruum Hero or Avatar of Woe. Spare a thought for those creatures who would be even more ferocious attacking machines if they attacked right away…like Thorn Elemental or Ephemeron. Dig into green's token generators, like Roar of the Wurm and Beast Attack.


Anger gets the team moving. ZOOOOOM!

KEEP YOUR ANGER BOTTLED UP

Incarnations are going to change the game quite a bit. It will become wiser, in both casual play and tournaments (perhaps in sideboards for the latter), to pack two or three methods of attacking a player's library. For that reason, I'm recommending Ground Seal for any deck that can comfortably run it. This makes incarnations even less vulnerable than before. (Ground Seal is also a lovely hoser for Genesis, previewed on the Sideboard.)

“YOU WOULDN'T LIKE ME WHEN I'M ANGRY.”

My suggested deck this week makes use of several of the themes I've discussed above. An early Kris Mage can get Anger in your graveyard easily; and a late one can use its ability immediately. Hidden Horror and Buried Alive increase your chances of getting angry quickly.

Flametongue Kavu and Laquatus's Champion are both excellent comes-into-play creatures. They can smack somebody as they enter, and then smack the same person (or someone different) in combat right away. My remaining four creatures are all rares, and I only include one copy of each, to demonstrate various tricks: Bone Dancer can sweep into an opponent's graveyard and grab a creature, Crater Hellion can blast the board and attack before you have to pay echo, and the other two… well, you'll just have to wait to see what the other two can do.

Blood Moon is this deck's version of disruption. Isn't it nice that it can turn your own Urborg Volcanoes into mountains, for Anger's ability? If this isn't impressive enough, feel free to use Haunted Crossroads, which will send an even clearer signal to your opponents as to what you might attack with next turn.

Anger Management

Download Arena Decklist
Sorcery (4)
4 Buried Alive
Instant (4)
4 Terminate
Enchantment (4)
2 Blood Moon 2 Haunted Crossroads
Other (2)
1 Sutured Ghoul* 1 Balthor, the Defiled*
60 Cards

*: Other Judgment cards.

Anthony may be reached at seriousfun@wizards.com.

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