Rewards of Remembering Remastered

Posted in Serious Fun on April 28, 2015

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

Welcome to Tempest Remastered Week! For others, this is a week to feature the joys of Tempest Remastered drafts and everything it brings to Magic Online. For me, Tempest Remastered is a reminder of my first Golden Age of Magic. While I started playing Magic during Fourth Edition and Ice Age, I didn't become a part of a weekly casual group until Tempest block.

These were glorious times! Money for things like Magic was scarce. My collection was a few hundred cards, and most of that was a hodge-podge of whatever was pulled from boosters and tournament packs[1]. Every week we'd get together and everyone would put enough money in the pool for a pack of cards. Every game won would earn a prize of the most recently released booster pack!

Without many of the most powerful cards, my decks were often just the best cards I owned of a particular color with no real synergy at all, yet I still won more than my share of the prize packs. One of my favorite stories from then involved one of my opponents playing Lobotomy against me. He chose a card then looked through my library only to discover the entire deck had no duplicates. He announced that my deck was "crap" and he never targeted me with a Lobotomy again!

In spite of my "crap" decks, I still won plenty of games. I learned the importance of guile. I learned to appear subservient and non-threatening, without appearing too weak. My deck building skills improved, even if the quality of the cards I owned barely went up at all.

One of my favorite cards from the block is missing from Tempest Remastered: Auratog. I understand why it wasn't included. Auratog wasn't particularly good unless you really built your deck around it, and that isn't possible with cards just from Tempest block. You can try—like I did—but for the most part, Auratog just wasn't good enough. It wouldn't be until Rancor hit the scene that my Auratog deck would bring me several wins. When I left that play group to attend law school, the guys got me a shirt with the Auratog stitched on it, along and the words, "Beware the Quiet Guy." That was my favorite shirt for a long time.

I thought a good way to see some of the cards included in Tempest Remastered was to put together a couple of my decks from that era, using just the cards from Tempest Remastered. I wouldn't recommend building these decks with your group, but if it gives you a starting off point and me a chance to extol the virtues of Really OldTM cards, then everybody wins. Just stay off my lawn (!) while we do it.

Just a Sliver

Slivers were the bane of my existence. I didn't have enough of them, particularly the good ones, to build a deck of my own. My attempts were lame at best, and I quickly dumped the whole idea. It just seemed that the only time I had a chance was when someone else was also running Slivers. This was great until it was just the two of us. His better quality Slivers, including the hated Sliver Queen, just meant that I was only really there to help him win the game.

Trying to fight Slivers even proved very difficult. The best way to deal with any Sliver deck was through mass removal, and I just didn't have enough. A single Wrath of God, a single Balance, and Nevinyrral's Disk were my only options back then and they were spread thin through my decks. I was left to rely on other players to take out the Slivers, and that proved to be a dangerous game. If only I'd had the cards back then to build this deck:

How does a Sliver wear a Coat?

Download Arena Decklist
Sorcery (4)
4 Rampant Growth
Instant (4)
4 Harrow
Artifact (3)
3 Coat of Arms
Enchantment (8)
4 Aluren 4 Curiosity
60 Cards

A Sliver deck from today would be far more streamlined, but even this deck can get ugly. Aluren was simply an unfair card every time it saw play. My creatures that cost three mana or less were rarely good and I just never seemed to be able to take advantage of Aluren the way my opponents did. In this deck, Aluren makes every Sliver, with the exception of Sliver Queen, free.

Speaking of Sliver Queen, I was reluctant to even include her in the deck. The mana fixing is only fine. I've used the nonbasic lands provided, but they are more representative of how good we have it now as opposed to useful cards. Taking a point of damage every time you tap a card for mana can become a real issue, and leaving the land tapped on the next turn is simply too significant a drawback. I focused mostly on Rampant Growth and Harrow as ways to get all five colors to cast Sliver Queen.

Sliver Queen | Art by Ron Spencer

Perhaps the deck would be better if I just focused on these three colors of Slivers and jettison the Sliver Queen and all the mana fixing that goes with her. Adding cards to make the existing Slivers even more powerful makes sense. However, I wanted to run Coat of Arms, and the potential with Sliver Queen making Slivers for only two mana is just too much to pass up!

Guerrillas in the Mist (aka Gorillas in the Shadows)

Tempest also brought shadow creatures. Our group didn't particularly embrace shadow creatures, since they tend to be dangerous in multiplayer games. Playing one-on-one games means that if you have mostly shadow creatures in your deck, you won't be able to block your opponent's creatures, and your opponent won't be able to block yours. The shadow creatures were all fairly small, so if you built your deck carefully, you could try to outrace your opponent to wins. In multiplayer games, it just meant you could attack freely, but three other players could attack you. It just didn't make sense to go all in. If a player happened to be in blue, black, or white, most players would just use a single shadow creature. It could block other shadow creatures in the game, or could be used as a way to hit for a couple of easy points of damage.

I made a couple of attempts to abuse shadow, using Dauthi Embrace or Phyrexian Splicer. I particularly loved the Splicer since it could take away flying or trample right before blockers were declared. It made combat very difficult. It was also a way for me to get my larger creatures through opponents' blockers for serious chunks of damage, while still having creatures that could help block.

Unfortunately, neither Dauthi Embrace nor Phyrexian Splicer is in Tempest Remastered. However, there is another shadow creature in the set…

Guerrillas in the Mist

Download Arena Decklist
Sorcery (7)
3 Cataclysm 4 Seething Anger
Instant (3)
3 Kor Chant
Artifact (4)
4 Lotus Petal
Enchantment (4)
4 Maniacal Rage
Land (24)
12 Plains 12 Mountain
60 Cards

Soltari Guerrillas is still a great card. It was essentially a 3/2 unblockable creature that could deal 3 damage to a creature if it did damage to an opponent. The key to the card is to realize that you can do the damage to any creature, and not just the opponent you attacked. Once your opponents realize what you are doing, most won't even try to kill your creature, and they'll be happy to let you take out the worst creature with three toughness or less.

With this deck, the idea is to get the Guerrillas out and attach an Aura to them, making them even bigger. Between killing off dangerous creatures and hitting for a pile of damage, the Guerrillas will make short work of things. The Guerrillas are pretty vulnerable to removal or direct damage and that is where the Cataclysms come in. You'll leave one land, hopefully a Lotus Petal, the Guerrillas and an Aura in play and your opponents will do the same. With only one land, their ability to interrupt what you are doing should be limited, especially after you kill their single creature. The remaining cards are a handful of creatures to keep your opponents off your back while you are working with the Guerrillas.

Assuming you aren't ready to fire off a Cataclysm, the other creatures in the deck are there to hold the fort until you are. Orim, Samite Healer makes all your creatures much tougher to kill. Shaman en-Kor and the Mogg Maniac work well together, dumping more damage onto the Mogg Maniac so the kickback is even worse than your opponents were expecting.

Cataclysm  | Art by Jim Nelson

I've just casually added a Lotus Petal to the deck. While it isn't for every deck, since you are using an entire card to get one extra mana on one turn, it does work in most decks that are looking to build for that single explosive turn. It is here as a way to drop the Guerrillas a turn or two early, since a 3/2 is tough enough to deal with on the regular turn four curve. The Lotus Petals also work very well with Cataclysm, giving you some extra mana after you've played it. Assuming you've played a land after playing Cataclysm, the turn after you can have three lands and a Lotus Petal or two. That can bring you back to full speed far faster than your opponents would expect.

I have a current deck that is using the Guerrillas as utility removal. Rather than relying on just Auras to make the Guerrillas do their damage, I've added Sword of War and Peace. Adding in Balefire Liege, Squee's Embrace and Cleaver Riot can make for some pretty unpleasant swings for my opponents!

Gorillas with Swords

Download Arena Decklist

This deck doesn't run Cataclysm, but also doesn't need to. With Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and Basandra, Battle Seraph, my opponents tend to focus their removal on targets other than the Guerrillas. While this deck can still win with pumped up Guerrillas doing the damage, it offers a variety of paths to victory. Often a Balefire Liege can do enough damage when you cast spells that you are able to finish off opponents who are at 10 or less. This really doesn't leave them much time to find answers.

Slayers' Stronghold has proven to be a great card with Soltari Guerrillas. 2 extra power makes it much harder for opponents to find creatures that can stay on the battlefield. While the vigilance doesn't really play a role with the Guerrillas since they aren't likely to block, the haste ability gives an extra hit that few are expecting. The Stronghold is great with almost every creature in the deck, letting you tap Brion Stoutarm the turn he enters the battlefield, or swing with Gisela as soon as she arrives, all the while keeping her untapped to defend.

Whether you are looking at a card as dangerous as Aluren, as annoying as a Sliver, as practical as Skyshroud Elf, or as crazy as Coat of Arms, Tempest Remastered is an opportunity to look back at older cards you've forgotten or never knew existed. Soltari Guerrillas shows that the Tempest Remastered stars can be critical parts of your current deck builds. These gems can throw a little spice into your kitchen table builds that no one was expecting!

Bruce Richard


[1] A tournament pack was roughly three boosters from one set that came in a box, along with twenty lands. Early Prereleases often provided a tournament pack and three boosters.

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