Ooze Asking?

Posted in The Week That Was on January 4, 2013

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on DailyMTG.com, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

I cannot remember the last time I have waited as impatiently for a new set to arrive as I have for Gatecrash. Prior to writing this article I spent several hours agonizing over my Commander deck, trying to figure out which cards are not on the protected roster once the Prerelease rolls around. I found as many as eight spots I can open up to make way for new cards in my deck and by all accounts I will need every one of them and more.

Plenty of the people I play Commander with have a box full of Commanders at their disposal and are constantly coming up with new decks they want to try. That's not me. I have my one deck. I tune it and tweak it with one or two new cards each time a set comes out. My commander is Momir Vig and I play one way—I am Simic.

Momir Vig, Simic Visionary | Art by Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai

One of the complicated things about being Simic is my relationship to counterspells—especially in Commander. I have gone through a lot of the available countermagic over the course of this deck—what blue mage doesn't start out with a Remand and a Force of Will in his or her blue deck?—but for various reasons ranging from the flavorful to the practical I have whittled the countermagic in my deck down to a handful of spells. Due to the creature-fetching nature of my Commander I have ended up with Draining Whelk and Mystic Snake as permanent fixtures in the deck. There is nothing quite like Soothsaying a Draining Whelk to the top of your deck with your Lurking Predators trigger on the stack.

Draining Whelk
Mystic Snake

I have wanted to add another such spell to the deck but nothing felt quite right. Overwhelming Intellect was in the deck for some time but it got sent down after turning out to not be much fun to play with. I draw plenty of cards with my deck already and it just felt like overkill. I mentioned Remand but I want a hard counter. Free spells like Pact of Negation, Force of Will, and Disrupting Shoal all felt... well... icky to me. They are fine in their appropriate sixty-card contexts but I am not playing an overt control deck. I just need something that lets me set my experiments in motion and then be able to protect them while they bubble away.

I am making room for a new card in the suite of countermagic, bringing my grand total of counterspells in the deck up to five—Cryptic Command and Voidslime being the other two already in the deck. Let's take a look at the card that slots in right between Mystic Snake and Draining Whelk as soon as I get my hands on a physical copy...

>> Click to Show

I know that it doesn't have quite the same synergy in my deck as the two creature counterspells or with Vig's ability, but how can I resist adding this to the mix? Let me tell you something about Commander spells... this token can get pretty big, and that is no small matter for my deck, with cards like Mosswort Bridge that are looking to hit a critical mass of creatures on the board. It will also work well with my Cloudstone Curio, since the creature will come into play and let me return any other creature to my hand, from the innocuous—yet essential—Coiling Oracle to the aforementioned Mystic Snake and Draining Whelk. Most importantly, it is a simple declarative "No!" when a player asks for permission to play his or her spell, with the added bonus of blocking up the ground with a reasonably-sized body that may send attackers looking elsewhere. Needless to say, this card will be taking one of the available slots in the deck with more to be determined over the remainder of the Gatecrash previews weeks.

I have not seen many (any?) five actual mana counterspells get played in Standard, but if there was any guild that could pull it off it would be the Simic. I know I will certainly be playing it in Limited. To my own shock and amazement, I have banged many gavels in Return to Ravnica to protect aggressive Azorius drafts at the very top of my curve. With just a few of the cards we have seen already, Simic is going to be capable of curving up the evolutionary ladder and then hanging back to snipe any attempts to wrest away control of the game.

Lead the game off with Cloudfin Raptor and evolve him on turn two with Experiment One. A turn later, play a Drakewing Krasis and you will have 7 points of power in play on turn three, with most of it being in the air. On turn five, you are content to sit back and race your fliers against a three- or four-drop. Imagine that your Orzhov opponent taps out on turn five and slams down Obzedat, Ghost Council. Not only do you counter that incessant drain of life; not only do you get a 5/5 Ooze token; but you get to evolve your Cloudfin Raptor and Experiment One.

Mystic Genesis is going to play really well with evolve. I already have my Mousetrap (coming soon to a multiplex near you!) fantasy lined up for the format that involves playing Mystic Genesis with seven mana open and Fathom Mage and Zameck Guildmage on my board. My opponent plays a spell and I counter it with Mystic Genesis and activate my Zameck Guildmage to put a counter on my token and evolve my Fathom Mage. From there, I can draw at least two free cards—plus the card I drew from evolving the Fathom Mage in the first place—thanks to the second ability of the Guildmage. While we are engaging in a little fantasy, perhaps one of the two cards I draw is my Skarrg Goliath and I win the game with 9 extra points of tramply bloodrush damage.

(By the way, I am pretty sure that two more of the slots in my Commander deck are going to be occupied by Fathom Mage and the Zameck Guildmage. I really hope I have enough room. )

The flavor text of the card references dread at the notion of a Simic/Golgari alliance, but if we are going to see Mystic Genesis get played in a Constructed deck, it seems much more likely in a deck that conducts Simic experiments hidden deep in the Selesnyan woods. Populate seems like a natural match for a counterspell that makes token creatures. You can get a Trostani into play on turn three with any kind of mana creature. Countering almost any decent spell is going to start you moving in the opposite direction of your starting life total with the lifegain, provide a steady stream of token creatures, and make for incredibly frustrated opponents. Throw in a Rootborn Defenses for a Supreme Verdict or Bonfire of the Damned and it is not hard to see a scenario where you would consider playing this in Constructed.

I am going to close with my Momir Vig, Simic Visionary deck in progress as we move toward the Gatecrash Prerelease. There is no doubt about which guild I will be playing. What about you?

BDM's Momir Vig (in progress)

Download Arena Decklist
Enchantment (2)
1 Soothsaying 1 Lurking Predators
Other (5)
5 Undetermined Card
99 Cards

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