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One of a Kind Ė Bloodbond March
By Eric Turgeon
When I wrote my original column for One of a Kind, I thought it would be easy to expand into a series. The point is simple: build a deck around one card - one single copy of one card. How hard could it be?

As it turns out, it can be very hard. If you remember my brutally immature first column, I decided to take a peak at Booby Trap. But the Booby Trap (also known as a "bra") was actually quite easy to build around since it's supposed to be destroyed, it's easy to tutor for and it's a win condition. In retrospect, my card choice had more to do with the ease of the column than the idea itself.

In the weeks that followed, I tried to pick out another card that could follow in the footsteps of the great Booby Trap. First I tried Pariah's Shield, but found that it was too fragile. Then I thought about Followed Footsteps, but realized it would have to be built more around Auratouched Mage than the enchantment itself. Not to mention, that idea has been done to death. I needed a card that could have a naturally recursive environment built around it. And thus I discovered Bloodbond March.

Bloodbond March has two big demands:
1) It wants creatures in the graveyard.
2) It wants creatures in multiples.

One of a Kind decks have two big problems:
1) Can I get it into play?
2) Can I get it out of the graveyard?

The biggest problem is always the first one: Finding one card in a sixty card deck and getting it into play. Luckily, Bloodbond March was released in a set along with a great mechanic: transmute, which can be found on cards in the Dimir guild. Specifically, Dimir House Guard fits all of the requirements needed to tutor for Bloodbond March. Itís black. It costs four mana. And on top of that, itís a creature that puts itself in the graveyard. Talk about synergy!

Next, I want to look at more creatures that I can abuse in multiples. Creatures with comes-into-play abilities work well with the March. I also need a reliable way to get the Bloodbond March out of my graveyard should it encounter an unfortunate accident. For that, I'll include my favorite utility creature of all time: Eternal Witness. And just in case the Witnesses get killed, Iíll throw some Gravediggers in as well.

At this point, the deck has some serious mana issues. All the cards cost at least three mana to cast and most of them require double mana. Normally, Iíd try to speed things up with a first-turn mana fixer, such as Llanowar Elves or Elves of Deep Shadow. But since Bloodbond March thrives on creatures in the graveyard, what better inclusion is there than Sakura-Tribe Elder? Once the March is in play, I can use recursive effects to keep popping the little snakes into play until I've grabbed every basic land in the deck.

Another great mana-fixing creature for this deck is Krosan Tusker. The original land-cycling creature can help fix some early mana problems and then pop out of the graveyard later when I have the lands to cast another one of these 6/5 beasts.

Right now, my little marching band is coming along quite nicely. Bloodbond March is the band director. Dimir House Guard provides the brass. Our woodwinds are Eternal Witness and Gravedigger. And the whole thing is kept in time by a drumline of Sakura-Tribe Elders and Krosan Tuskers. Now that the foundation is in place, I can start to build on top of it and try some different things.

Three different types of creatures work really well in a deck like this: Cycling creatures that love getting into the graveyard, comes-into-play creatures that love popping out of the graveyard, and sacrificial creatures that love doing both. Iím going to furnish this deck with a creature of each and see how that works.

For cycling creatures, Iím going to choose between Wirewood Guardian and Twisted Abomination. I still think the deckís going to be slow with the lands and want to help that as much as possible. Wirewood Guardian searches out Forests, which will be more important to the core of the deck since all my other mana-fixers are green. But aside from that, itís just a huge beatstick that is very vulnerable once itís in play. Twisted Abomination can only get Swamps, but once itís in play, it can regenerate and itís a bit cheaper to cast. I think these advantages outweigh the lack of Forest searching, so Iíll go with the Abomination.

Thereís about a billion comes-into-play creatures in Magic. Luckily, most of the black ones actually have negative abilities, which is something Iíd very much like to avoid. Seeing how high the mana curve may be on this deck, I tend to favor low-cost creatures. The two best choices, in my opinion, are Elvish Pioneer and Ravenous Rats. Elvish Pioneer will further assist in the mana development and can be played on the first turn. On the other hand, Ravenous Rats can only be played a turn later, when Iíd rather be casting a Sakura-Tribe Elder or swampcycling a Twisted Abomination. Additionally, the card my opponent chooses to discard to the Rats may end up being a creature heíll get back anyway once the Bloodbond March is in play. The Elvish Pioneer is clearly superior for this deck, but Iíll include Ravenous Rats because I have a soft spot for them and Iím performing this analysis after the fact.

Finally, itís time to fill in another fun creature to sacrifice. I think Viridian Zealot would be the best choice here. Iím sure Iím going to have problems dealing with artifacts and/or enchantments and heís a sacrificeable creature that can deal with either one. But heís also a rare that I donít own. Since I want four of each creature, I would need to get a whole playset of him. So Iím going to go with Shambling Shell instead. Itís new! Itís fun! Itís gold! Best of all, itís common! Yay!

At this point, the deck contains 32 creatures. Iíll probably want about 24 lands, so that leaves me with 3 slots to fill. Instead of going with an intelligent inclusion, like Naturalize or Putrefy, Iím going to try a fun, offbeat card that I happen to own in Death Pit Offering. If itís okay for my creatures to die, then I may as well kill them myself, right? Iíll also throw in some Diabolic Tutors since they can be tutored with my other tutor and then tutor for anything at all. Even a tutor! Tutoring is fun. So that makes this deck sort of into a toolbox deck, except without all the tools.

After adding some lands, I present you with my first and worst iteration of a One of a Kind Bloodbond March Deck:

OneBloodbondMarch
1 Bloodbond March
1 Death Pit Offering
2 Diabolic Tutor
4 Dimir House Guard
4 Eternal Witness
11 Forest
4 Golgari Rot Farm
4 Gravedigger
4 Krosan Tusker
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Shambling Shell
9 Swamp
4 Twisted Abomination

Iím sure I donít need to tell you how badly this deck performed. After some playtesting, I realized that there were three major problems:
1) Itís still too slow. By the time I get the Bloodbond March in play and actually start doing some fun things with it, Iím usually overrun by attacking creatures.
2) Artifacts and Enchantments. I still have no way of dealing with these.
3) Creatures in my opponentís graveyard. In a few games, my opponents were able to abuse Bloodbond March more than I could.

I actually addressed the third problem first during my playtesting, since that was the first issue I actually hadnít thought about. I briefly experimented with a few cards to knock out my opponentís graveyard, but soon discovered that it wasnít really worth the effort.

On to the bigger problems. I still believe that Viridian Shaman would kick copious amounts of butt in this deck, but, alas, itís still rare and Iím still cheap. I tried playing around with some combination of Elvish Scrappers and Elvish Lyricist before deciding that Naturalize or Putrefy would really be better. I ended up going with Putrefy since it seemed more useful more often and I also threw in a single copy of Nullmage Shepherd to deal with any pesky enchantments.

Finally, to fix the speed. The deck is slow. Thatís not something Iím ready to change, but I still need a way to deal with fast opponents. Normally, in a black deck, Iíd throw Infest or Hideous Laughter in the mix. But seeing how I used those in my last One of a Kind deck, I thought Iíd take a different route. Since the deck is based on creatures, Noxious Ghoul makes a nice inclusion. Heís usually ready to go by the fourth turn and combined with Bloodbond March, he can wipe the board clean late in the game. Of course, he kills quite a few of my creatures, but I still have 12 other zombies (Yes! Shambling Shell is a zombie!) to abuse his powers.

To make room for my new strategy, I dumped the rats, a Diabolic Tutor, the Death Pit Offering and one of the lands. With all the mana acceleration in the deck, Iím usually fine with any two-land hand. Also, since Iím dumping so many creatures in my graveyard and rarely getting all of them back, I decided to add a Svogthos, the Restless Tomb to act as yet another late-game beater.

These relatively minor changes really improved the performance of the deck. Of course itís still not spectacular, but by the end, I was actually winning the majority of the time. A lot of people thought it was really cool when Iíd tutor three Dimir House Guards for other Dimir House Guards, grab a Bloodbond March and use a Gravedigger or Eternal Witness to get back a Dimir House Guard, giving me an army of four 2/3 fear creatures by the eighth turn! Sure, many times, theyíd say ďcool deckĒ right before killing me, but who cares?

OneBloodbondMarch v.2
1 Bloodbond March
1 Diabolic Tutor
4 Dimir House Guard
4 Eternal Witness
10 Forest
3 Golgari Rot Farm
4 Gravedigger
4 Krosan Tusker
3 Noxious Ghoul
1 Nullmage Shepherd
3 Putrefy
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Shambling Shell
1 Svogthos, the Restless Tomb
9 Swamp
4 Twisted Abomination

If I had the choice and the money, Iíd definitely try adding those Viridian Zealots. Nullmage Shepherd and Putrefy are nice utility cards, but they donít really expound the usefulness of Bloodbond March. Overgrown Tomb and Llanowar Wastes would also be nice, but you probably donít need me to tell you that.

So there you have it. Now you can sift through those old Ravnica cards, pull out that odd copy of Bloodbond March and have some fun, even if it takes a lifetime to get it right.

Read More Articles by Eric Turgeon!

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