Frog in a Blender
What’s red and green and goes 200 MPH?
The regionals have finished, and the metagame is clear and is, surprisingly enough, not solely fires-related. Decks you have must not just beat fires, they must beat skies and counter-rebel and U/W control and bear rebel and turbo-haups and any other rogue decks that happen to come your way. So what you want is a deck that is one of two aspects: Controlling, but wide in scope. A deck that can deal with every threat in the environment, and with Obliterate running around, no counterspell deck can do that. You also want a deck that’s aggressive, but can resist the tools usually brought to bear upon aggressive decks. Chill and Submerge, for R/G, Earthquake or Tsabo’s Decree for rebel, or Story Circle and Teferi’s Moat in general.
Where does that leave you? You need a deck that can deal with almost anything, and has a control aspect, but it must also be able to use beatdown effectively and resist the typical tools of the trade against beatdown.
Much to my delight, my brother at one point asked to borrow almost all the cards to my Fires deck in order to make a deck “That would beat fires without becoming fires.” I was less than thrilled to lend them to him, but when he returned with a deck he called “Chile con Verde” I saw it had been a good investment. I took my cards back and promptly constructed my own version of the deck, removing river boas, as I wanted the deck to be legal once 7th edition comes in.
Frog in a Blender
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Tangle Wires
4 Stone Rain
4 Creeping mold
1 Flametongue Kavu
2 Saporling Burst
4 Chimeric Idol
2 Tectonic Break
1 Ghitu Fire
2 Saporling Burst
2 Flametongue Kavu
2 Ghitu Fire
4 Urza’s Rage
62 cards, 26 land. I feel the Wakefield within me awaken.
Okay, the basic theory behind this deck is fairly simple: Turn 1 is a mana creature, and turn 2 should be a land destruction spell. Turn 3 should either be a land destruction spell, tangle wire, or a creature. It’s fun to watch when this deck draws into a good hand because control decks and aggro decks alike will crumble if you attack their mana base. There were several decks I saw going into the regionals that worked like that, but I believe that this is the best LD deck out there. Basically it uses all the creatures of fires, while stunting the development of competing decks. Where fires plays a second turn Fires of Yavimaya, this deck plays a second turn land destruction spell, which, effectively, holds their blastoderm back another turn. Only this deck runs 7 potential turn 2 land kills (11, if you count Tangle Wire), and fires has only 4 Fires of Yavimayas.
Llanowar Elves & Birds of Paradise: Part of the beauty of this deck is casting a turn 2 land destruction spell. This will literally often swing the game in your favor, turning a tight hand into a land-light one. These fellas act as speed, provide alternates for Tangle Wire to tap, survive your own Tectonic Breaks, and can, if you need, offer attackers/blockers.
Stone rain: forest, mana creature, and land, one of which can make red, and this is turn 2 LD. It is not quite as useful as pillage, but allows you to use 2 forests and a bird, or a forest, an elf, and a mountain.
Pillage: Basically, a 3cc land kill that also allows you to remove opposing idols or millstones. The drawback is that in order to cast these on turn 2, you need a forest, a mountain, and a Birds. Elves won’t do. this is why I’m running only 3.
Creeping Mold: I know it costs 4, but it kills enchantments as well. This means that it is almost never a bad draw. Very rarely will they have no useful enchantments or artifacts out unless they’re land-light, in which case it goes straight for the soil. It is a 4cc spell, so I had my misgivings, but this card is well-worth the mana, and proves to be better than Hull Breach in this deck.
Blastoderm: Duh. Force control decks to fight on melee terms, as a friend of mine put it. They need to deal with this AND with you giving them land problems, a lot of decks falter when you place serious beatdown and disruption side-by-side against them.
Tangle Wire: Simply the best card in this deck against control. This card and turn 2 LD are the reasons the deck wins its matches against blue. First turn birds, second turn land kill, third turn elf, wire. Fourth turn, Idol or land and Derm. It taps them out, so it buys you 2-3 turns of no counterspells. That’s a damn good Orim’s Chant. You should have more land and mana creatures, so its effect on you should be lessened.
Saproling Burst: I’m only running 2 main for 2 reasons. 1 is that I do not believe this to be a great card without fires. 2 is that I only have 2. However, this is nonetheless, a potential 9 damage for 5 mana, and if they’re manascrewed, it can deal 18 by itself…..
Zadok suggested running 2 Fires of Yavimaya in place of a Creeping mold and a Stone Rain. If you do, I’d run at least 3 of these.
Flametongue Kavu: The danger is, he’s useless. If you successfully manascrew your opponent, this fella sits in your hand until you sacrifice an elf to cast him. Not too good. I run 1, and 2 in the sideboard against fires or decks with mana critters. Otherwise, you may not need it.
Chimeric Idol: This card and Blastoderm are cards that get around effects. If they play with only targeted removal, then they’ll lose to Blastoderm. If they play with only mass removal, chances are that they’ll lose to this. Plus it gets around Teferi’s Moat, Chill, and many other cards. It’s a generally useful creature.
Tectonic Break: As a finisher or a hold-the-fort method, this card is wonderful. I originally ran 4, then reduced it to three. I had to cut another, but I’d much rather have a third in there (my personal deck right now is 63 cards, and runs a third break). It can get rid of their remaining 3 lands, or it can wait until they tap out and remove seven at a time. It ignores your mana creatures, too.
Ghitu Fire: Removal. This deck is light in it, depending on creature superiority and land destruction to carry the day. This also makes a good finisher. If I had more, I’d play more.
My sideboard is entirely theoretical right now, so test it out yourself.
Let’s look at how this deck matches up against what and why:
Fires: This deck does quite well against fires, Largely because it has access to all the tools that fires has, and also can provide disuption for fires’ speed. Fires, which is largely a tempo-based deck, dislikes quick LD, and cutting off it’s mana can often cause it to crumple up and die. The deck goes almost 50/50 at first, and with the addition of Simoons and Flametongues post-sideboarding, it’s rather nuts.
Rebels: Rebels are an easy matchup. They rely heavily on land and you…. you rely heavily on keeping their land away. Your creatures are bigger, your LD is stronger, and after sideboarding, you have access to Earthquake, and several other weapons like the extra Flametongues.
U/W Control: This deck is a little more difficult to deal with. Second turn LD, or forcing a Tangle Wire through can give you a win if they’re land-light, but if they draw a lot of land, they can cause problems. When you play, try and force through the Blastoderms and Idols, cast your LD first, to draw counterspells or to remove their land. Both are useful. Story circle doesn’t do much, as this deck runs a lot of LD, 4 Idols, and 4 Creeping Molds. Teferi’s moat is a similar story. This is probably the toughest matchup, and the one where the loss of river boa is felt the most. Side in the Rages and get rid of the flametongue and maybe the breaks, if they have a lot of mana in their deck.
Turbo-haups: Another very difficult match, if they Obliterate or Haups, you can be screwed over fast. Don’t overextend. Hold back land and acceleration creatures unless you ABSOLOUTELY need them. Save LD for AFTER they go boom, to slow their recovery. Sideboard in the Saproling Bursts, and take out the Ghitu Fire and Flametongue Kavu. One becomes weak, the other becomes damn near useless.
Skies/monoblue control: This deck plays skies much like it plays u/w control, and in many ways, it’s the same match. Play all your disruption first. Tangle Wire is amazing in this matchup, because early ACC counterspells are tough to pull off, and are costly. Watch out for misdirection. Side in the rages for the Ghitu Fires and maybe some of the Chimeric Idols. Use a lot more creature destruction here, though. If they’re playing the hatchling/airship version, then simoon is amazing. Force it through by playing LD before it. Card advantage is nice, but card quality is important too. They usually have less mana than u/w so this matchup is easier all in all. Watch for Chills. Those things can sting like an SOB.
U/B control: Not a huge force to be reckoned with, mind you, and this deck does a great deal better against u/b than u/w. Tangle Wire, Blastoderm, Idol, and some LD will guide you through the match. In every game, against anyone, a second turn land destruction spell is worthwhile.
Counter-rebel: This deck can beat counter-rebel. Because counter-rebel is so mana reliant, a few LD spells and a tangle wire will slow them down. The Idols and Derms come in later, and a final break will allow you to trounce them. Depending on whether they play high-end or low-end rebels, you may want to sideboard in the Flametongues, Earthquakes, Rages, or Ghitu Fires. Come to think of it, the entire sideboard (excluding Simoon) is bad news for counter rebel, but only add what you need.
King Red: I have been unnable to test against kind red. It seems a little more shaky, because your first turn mana creatures will probably die, but I do not know for sure how the matchup goes. If anyone has experience testing the deck, please, e-mail me and tell me how this matchup runs.
Machinehead: No problems here, really. It has a very delicate mana base, and this deck walks all over delicate mana bases. Make sure you keep their land down, and side in the bursts and direct damage, as Machinehead has a hard time stopping those. Tangle wire is not really a great card here, though it is nice. I’d side it out.
Dark Ponza: Never played against it, so I don’t know how it runs. Looks similar to king red, they may win the land race, so Tangle Wire is important, just try and get your creatures through first.
There it is, my deck of choice. As a side note, I recently had this deck stolen from me at school, which is rather expensive. If you’re reading this, Mr.Thief person, please please please return it to me! The cards are all bent, so they’re worth nothing, but hard to replace nonetheless.