This Is Madness!

Posted in Serious Fun on October 4, 2011

By Howlin' Mad Stybs


Merciless Predator | Art by Michael C. Hayes

Welcome, fellow Internet denizens! This is the first, and only, Serious Fun dedicated to spinning the hairiest works and darkest decks Innistrad has to offer us. You won't find any Avacynian fallacies here. We're going to rock the blood red all night, every night!

That's right, you're reading Howlin' Mad Stybs's "Mad Minutes" feedback, a time when I take the crazy things you sent in and put them up for the entire Internet to see. Over the last two weeks I've challenged you to challenge me with decks for our Werewolf and Zombie friends. Let me just say that some of you are real animals, ones even my hardened heart wouldn't want to meet during the day in Thraben.

This is the week we'll look at some of the best you minions have offered up. It's time to wake a sleeping dog to go dig up some dead.

Are. You. Ready? Awoooooooo!

    A Gunfight at High Moon

Alright partner, I know you're ready to saddle up and ride the moonlight. Our first rodeo is from Mr. Langley, and he took our fuzzy buddies straight into multiplayer mayhem.

Moonmist | Art by Ryan Yee

In multiplayer, players cast spells: lots and lots of spells. There are plenty of nice white cards to limit spell casting (and werewolves are awfully meek when they first appear). There are two big problems. The first is practical. In my game group, telling everyone they can't play spells means I either die before I pull off my grand strategy or everyone sits around yawning while I win and I retire the deck for a long, long time. The second is about flavor. I want my werewolves to wolf out and howl at the moon, not carefully control the board like fiendish masterminds.

So, my answer to the puzzle turns out to be the simple one: Moonmist. Eight copies of Moonmist if needed. In addition to letting my werewolves do their thing, in multiplayer owning a one-sided Fog makes everyone else seem like much better targets. By the way, with any werewolf deck, make friends with whoever takes their turn before yours. When the time is right promise to attack their enemies if they would just refrain from casting spells for a turn.

Werewolves in the Mist

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I mostly concentrate on werewolves helping werewolves, with a couple of fun supporting humans. Quicksilver Amulet lets you put a creature into play without actually playing any spells. Bramblecrush and Brimstone Volley add some flexibility to the deck in multiplayer but can easily be replaced with your favorite answers. Noxious Revival keeps Moonmist around for later use, but can bring back other cards you might need.

Mr. Langley, I like you. I like you so much I'd let you meet my sister. What you have here is a wonderfully ferocious deck built under a daring design: just the most recent sets. While diving through treasure troves of sets in storage is an adventure we should take regularly, you pulled this right off the top. I applaud you.

And you did the dirty work of explaining it, too. You have all the elements of a multiplayer experience:

Unfortunately, I can't give Mr. Langley full credit for the most entertaining list. That dubious honor, among things already quite dubious, belongs to a Mr. Eichenberger and a color I'm loathe to love: blue.

You see, Mr. Eichenberger is something of a smarty-pants. Instead of taking to moon-walking a Werewolf the usual way, he took a very different tack.

After I first read over the rules page for the new double-faced cards, I noticed all kinds of interesting rules interactions with copy effects (my favorite kind of effects) and with face-down cards (specifically Ixidron). According to the rules page:

  • Double-faced cards are always face up; they are never face down. If an effect (say, Ixidron) tries to turn a double-faced card face down, nothing happens.
  • If any card or token other than a double-faced card is instructed to transform, nothing happens. It won't be turned face down.
  • The only objects that can transform are cards that physically have two faces. If a token or a card with a regular Magic back is instructed to transform, instead nothing will happen. Even if a token or non-double-faced card is a copy of one face of a double-faced card, it can't transform.

My blue-green Werewolf-themed deck submission takes advantage of those interactions. Play a Werewolf (preferably a Gatstaf Shepherd or Mayor of Avabruck), get it transformed (with Moonmist, if you have to), then start making token copies of it with Cackling Counterpart or Rite of Replication. Because they're copies, you won't have to worry about them ever un-transforming.

Double-Faced Card Rules

A Blue Moon Rises

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If things on your opponents' side start to get out of hand, play Ixidron to turn all of their creatures into nameless, colorless 2/2s. Your army of werewolves will remain untouched and ready to go. And if you happen have some Gatstaf Howlers, they'll be unblockable besides.

If all else fails, you can always use Rite of Replication or the Vesuvan Shapeshifters to copy your opponents' creatures to try to turn the game around.

As much as I like Mr. Langley, I really like you Mr. Eichenberger. This is downright dirty. You say "I'm a Werewolf deck!" but you mean "I'm going to rock this place tonight!" Even sneakier, you only need one transformed Werewolf to start a clone war. Ixidron makes a much better wacky sidekick anyway.

(There are some strange rules interactions bubbling beneath the surface, but it all works the way our mastermind wants it to. As Ixidron enters the battlefield, your real Werewolves don't get turned face down (because they can't be), your token Werewolves don't get turned face down (because Ixidron says "nontoken"), and your Vesuvan Shapeshifters-posing-as-Werewolves do get turned face down, but can pop right back up again for .)

Of course, this wouldn't howling mad feedback if we didn't go deeper!

If you were going to have Adam build and play one of these two Werewolf decks, which would it be?Mr. Langley's "Werewolves in the Mist"Mr. Eichenberger's "A Blue Moon Rises"

While I call my own shots on decks to play, like a boss, I'd call both these shots anyway. Enjoy your thrown bone! Awoooooooo!

Old Dog, New Tricks

Of course, not everyone is as into slobbering killing machines as some of us. Many of you prefer even less intelligence in the creatures we're playing. They can't all be geist-catching alchemists.

Endless Ranks of the Dead | Art by Ryan Yee

Our first dive into undead drudgery is provided by Sean, a self-professed necromantic fanatic. Don't worry about that here, Sean. If there's an inquisitor among us I'll be the first to hunt him down.

I love me some Zombies. I have thrown together a Standard Zombie deck that I think could provide some "serious fun"(See what I did there?).

Love in the Grave

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I had two focuses when building the deck.

  1. Swarm with zombies, no matter what.
  2. Fill the graveyard(s) with Liliana of the Veil.

I have 15 creatures that cost three mana or less. These are the simple Zombies. I also have the powerful token generation that Innistrad provides to give support to the Zombie horde. Liliana forces hand disruption for the opponent while I toss the high cost creatures into the graveyard for either Glissa, the Traitor or Grimoire of the Dead to bring back. It would be cool to discard Glissa to the Grimoire then get the Grimoire back with her.

I think I succeeded with my plan. I have not gotten to play test the deck yet, but I can't wait until I can get my hands on it.

My blood-spattered tricorn hat's off to you, Sean! You managed to cram a lot of things I love into a mostly-new package:

Previously I've considered Glissa, the Traitor as a potential commander for Commander. With Grimoire of the Dead holding her hand, I think I just found a reason to go over the edge. How Howlin' Mad is going to get madder is a question best left alone.

Or not. How about this: instead of the "dramatically different deck" route we took to the dogs above, what if we pulled a similar deck to consider? Is being in love with one idea a sign of madness? I sure know repeating the same thing expecting something different is.

You can thank Bryan for this number:

The Little Death That Brings Total Ruination

Download Arena Decklist

Obviously the plan is to flood the board with pumped Zombie tokens. Merfolk Looter and Ponder help me find whatever I need (Endless Ranks of the Dead, Cemetery Reaper, or land), and put creatures in the graveyard for Ruinator. Grimgrin can easily feed off of a few tokens to become ridiculously large. Diregraf Ghoul is just a great one drop. I included all the Adaptive Automatons because not only will it pump all those tokens, but it counts for Endless Ranks as well. Unbreathing Horde is something to break a stalemate with, like if the other player has a ton of tokens too, or when all my creatures get wiped out, I can get a really big creature really cheap.

I really like this setup because it's difficult to wipe the board with damage, and even if you do you're just setting me up for a Skaab Ruinator or Unbreathing Horde. It's a constant stream of pressure; instead of taking time to build up, it's almost always swinging hard on turn 4. Even if the game goes on and on, it can keep going. I think people will be hard pressed to keep with the token generation, so even if they can set up a strong early defense, a Timely Reinforcements or some buff elves won't save you from 20 5/5 Zombies.

Who needs Glissa when we're packing ruination? There's been a lot of chatter on those other columns about Skaab Ruinator, but I really like what it's doing here. It's not about little tricks and subtle cues; this brain-hungry legion is out to get you. Swords, fire, and even divine judgment won't be enough to close off the tide of the dead.

Skaab Ruinator | Art by Chris Rahn

What Bryan shared lacks in wackiness makes up for in multiplayer potential. Swarming the board with an every-pressing swath of rotting bodies is raising exactly the kind of stink I can get behind (and hopefully upwind from).

Continuing with the madness of repetition, here's a familiar question:

If you were going to have Adam build and play one of these two Werewolf decks, which would it be?Sean's "Love in the Grave"Bryan's "The Little-Death That Brings Total Ruination"

Am I aiming to play a Werewolf versus Zombie game in the future? Which tribe of thriving death-dealers would reign in the darkness? I leave answering that question up to you!

Do you want to see a battle of the night terrors between the winning Werewolf and Zombie decks?YesNo

A battle of who could maul more is definitely something I plan to do anyway, but if you want to hear a tell-all tale about it I'd be glad to howl it out. Awoooooooo!

    The Signoff

And that, delvers of the dark, brings us to the end of today's show. Before I go let's step back in time to the last question I asked you:

Did you want to see Adam's entire Sealed pool rather than just his deck and a few other cards used?

While I can write your eyes off about awesome decks and cool cards, it's a little harder to make the design of said decks, and discovery of cool cards, just as sexy. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. I'll spin the words you want to read any which way they fall.

I have a few ideas on how to include the gritty details for the next Limited engagement, and to steal my own thunder I'll tell you now that I plan to try this for next week's article about an InnistradWinchester Draft.

The goriness of getting down with Winchester will give you both the "skip to the good stuff" and "give me the details" experiences. Is it madness to shoot for both? Would I try for any other way?

This is Howlin' Mad Stybs, signing off. May our moon always be full, and our graves ever be shallow. Awoooooooo!

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