In an effort to reduce the anxiety involved in waiting for the actual cards, I've taken a few of the new Dragon's Maze cards and added them to some older cards to get the creative juices flowing.
When Adam Styborski previewed the Golgari champion, Varolz, the Scar-Striped, many of you saw another leader for your Commander decks. I saw a creature that would work perfectly with my not-yet-previewed Deadbridge Chant.2 The Chant would load up my graveyard with creatures for Varolz to scavenge, and it would give me bonus cards in my hand or extra creatures in play.
Look at the SIZE of That Thing!
When flipping through my cards, I realized that Corpsejack Menace looks like a perfect fit. With Corpsejack Menace in play, whenever a creature would get scavenged, it would get double the +1/+1 counters! Woo! I do love doubling the fun. My only concern was the win-more feel of the card. The Menace doesn't do a lot without his friends in play. In spite of this, I decided to run four copies. The allure of scavenging twice as many counters as normal was just too much to resist. And if I happen to get two of them in play, the number of counters on a creature quadruples! If that isn't enough, Corpsejack Menace is a 4/4!
Scavenging is Good! Give Me More!
The next card on the list is Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord. When I initially looked at the card, I set it aside. If Varolz, the Scar-Striped was in the deck, scavenging creatures out of the graveyard, then Jarad would never get very big. Why include two cards that would actively fight each other in the synergy department? Then I looked at the second ability. All I have to do is pay and sacrifice a creature, preferably one that benefited from a scavenging while a Corpsejack Menace was in play, and I can make all my opponents lose life equal to the sacrificed creature's power?
So if I scavenge a Circling Vultures, I could put three +1/+1 counters... no wait, I could put six +1/+1 counters (Corpsejack Menace) on Varolz, the Scar-Striped, making him into an 8/8 creature. If I use Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord to sacrifice him because one of my opponents has decided Varolz offers no lols, each opponent would lose 8 life. All of this would only cost , assuming it all happened on the same turn. Not surprisingly, I decided that Jarad should stay. Jarad could also get quite big if Varolz decides to hide in my library. A Deadbridge Chant will make for a sizeable Jarad, if only in the short term.
Since I've already given it away, Deadbridge Chant is also in the deck. Adding ten cards to the graveyard gives Varolz, the Scar-Striped more targets to scavenge, and/or makes Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord much bigger. A creature the Chant puts into play can be immediately sent back to the graveyard with Jarad, leaving our opponents' life totals just that much lower. The Chant really makes the deck roll, offering far more options for Varolz and providing some recursion the deck can certainly use in the mid-to-late game. I opted to run three only because of the casting cost. Running four of them and getting it in our opening hand on a regular basis is not optimal.
Batman isn't the Only One With a Utility Belt
Deathrite Shaman is my first utility creature. As I mentioned in my preview article, the downside of Deadbridge Chant is the random nature of the recursion. This makes the legendary nature of Varolz and Jarad particularly dangerous. Just as things are about to really get rolling, Deadbridge Chant gifts me with a Varolz while I already have a Varolz, perhaps even with +1/+1 counters on it. While I like the odds of getting one of them back the next turn, I'd rather improve my chances of another card. This is where Deathrite Shaman can help. Simply tapping it and sacrificing a Varolz, the Scar-Striped from the graveyard that could have been brought randomly into play, disrupting my careful plans, solves the issue and provides me with 2 extra life.
Deathrite Shaman can also remove land in my graveyard (put there by a Harrow, for example) to improve my odds of randomly drawing something better. If there is a Deathrite Shaman and two instants or sorceries in my graveyard, my opponents need to be aware that I can cost them all 4 life very quickly, which combined with Jarad makes this deck strong against any number of opponents.
Deathrite Shaman also does all the wonderful things that it can normally do, meaning mess with your opponents' graveyards. Just because you are recurring cards from your graveyard, getting all the extra benefit of using a card multiple times, doesn't mean you are somehow obliged to let your opponents do it too. Exiling their lands, creatures, sorceries, and instants before they get a chance to bring them back shuts down so many ugly decks. My metagame in particular is starting to become loaded with decks that abuse the graveyard, and this is a great card to shut those decks down, while giving your deck a little boost.
Oh, and to anyone who might be playing against me in the near future, [waving my hand] "This is not the deck you're looking for."
Acidic Slime is another utility creature. Normally, I would tell you that answer cards are different for every metagame. If you play with the same four people, you are going to include answers for their decks that simply wouldn't make sense to use in another person's metagame. This makes it difficult for someone writing articles to a large audience of players, all with their own metagames, to recommend a particular card that is only there to fight your metagame.
Acidic Slime is an all-purpose utility card. I am comfortable saying to any casual player that if you are running a deck with green as a primary color, you should be running Acidic Slime. If artifacts, enchantments, or lands are something you need to deal with in your metagame, this card is helpful for you. In fact, it is helpful against most creatures, as it is all deathtouchy. The fact that you get all of this in a single card makes this a utility creature that is almost an auto-include3 in any casual green deck.
In this deck, it makes even more sense. Seeing the Slime come into the game repeatedly due to Deadbridge Chant would only be a good thing. I am happy to block almost any creature with Acidic Slime, since getting it into the graveyard faster means it is more likely to come into play again. My group is showing an increasing number of enchantments as well, so seeing Acidic Slime come into play again and again will only be a good thing. It also looks great as an attacker with eight or more +1/+1 counters on it.
The Other Guys
Twisted Abomination is a great idea for the deck. My friend Daryl (aka Graveborn Muse during the Muse Vessel years and Daryl Bockett during the GatheringMagic years) recommended the card for the swampcycling ability and it fits in this deck like it was made for it. Swampcycle it into the graveyard to get a Swamp (or Overgrown Tomb or Bayou). Once there, Varolz can scavenge it or Deadbridge Chant can bring it into play. A 5/3 with regeneration is nothing to sneeze at. This deck doesn't have the nicest mana curve, either, so the swampcycling makes Twisted Abomination good in the early and late game.
Harrow is included because it does the same thing. Sacrificing a land to get two more lands is great for this deck. The land can be recurred back to our hand, or the Deathrite Shaman exiles it and gives us mana for the turn. What was supposed to be a downside with Harrow is turned into all upside.
The Circling Vultures and Uktabi Drakes were suggested by Brandon (aka Seedborn Muse during the Muse Vessel years and Brandon Isleib over at GatheringMagic). Both are cheap creatures that can quickly end up in the graveyard. Spending only one mana to scavenge multiple +1/+1 counters is a Good Thing
Putrefy, Maelstrom Pulse, Golgari Charm, and Black Sun's Zenith are all there to deal with whatever my opponent is looking to trouble me with. The numbers of each card are not set in stone. With four Acidic Slimes already in the deck, Putrefy and Golgari Charm may be endangered species. I wanted the Maelstrom Pulse because it deals so well with token decks, irrelevant of the size of the token. Watching a swath of Saprolings, Squirrels, or Dragons suddenly disappear, leaving an opponent vulnerable to everyone else, is a wonderful thing. And when you are packing the recursion this deck has (with the Chants and Beacon of Unrests), eliminating all the creatures in play will hopefully be a bigger problem for our opponents than it will be for us.
After spending an entire article explaining why I put the cards that I did into the deck, I don't want you to use this deck. Most of the decks that I write about are simply jumping-off points. I write to give you ideas for decks that are similar to the ones I've written about. Most of my decks are not optimal. In the future, you will see decks that scream out for a Primeval Titan or four copies of Swords to Plowshares, but they aren't there. Most of my decks are built from the cards that I own. Most of the decks I will put forward are decks I have built or will be building shortly.
Today's deck is simply a beta-test-level deck. It includes cards that I don't own and is a deck that I have never used in a game. I encourage you to post card suggestions or even whole reworkings of the deck. I'm always open to better—and funner—options.
I look forward to next week, where you will see a Prerelease unlike any you've seen before...
1: You'll find out just how much next week! (return)
2: I'd accuse you all of being short-sighted for not seeing the combination as soon as I did, but since none of you even knew the card existed, all of you get a pass. This time. (return)
3: I hate using this term. With thousands of different cards available, I don't think any card is truly an auto-include in a deck. This will be the topic for a future article. However, when you are building a green deck, you should find a good reason not to include Acidic Slime, as opposed to finding a reason to put it into your deck. (return)