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Carpe Noctum
By David Zadok Stroud
Carpe Noctum
David Zadok Stroud

Extended Friday Night Magic. Today. Like, in two hours. Driving to the tourney with a deck in my backpack called “Unexpected Complications.” I hate the name. I really do. It’s not appropriate at all, and it doesn’t fit my style of obscurely classical allusions as names.

A car cuts me off. Bastards. Stupid little Honda Accord, back bumper bent down, almost dragging on the pavement. I can’t spend time with my girlfriend today, and I’m not very happy about it. To be sure, I have an attitude. It was a stupid little Honda.

On that bumper, so close to the pavement, there’s a small symbol. I recognized it as Wiccan. Interesting. Another little sticker in the window catches my attention, reading “Protected by Spirits.” Righto, I think to myself. Maybe it was the protective spirits that took the bumper apart? Whatever you say, Mr. Cut Me Off In Traffic, sir. More stickers. Stuff about ghosts, mystical powers, true magic, etc… All the usual Wiccan stuff. I greatly respect the Wiccan culture, but I have no place in it myself, being a fairly skeptical person by nature.

Sounds weird for a Magic player, doesn’t it?

More stickers. The more I look at it, the more I realize the car is absolutely COVERED in little stickers. Hundreds of stickers. Some repeating each other. I have no doubt that the driver’s view was severely limited by the sheer number of white-on-black-or-red stickers all over the guy’s windows! Maybe that’s why he cut me off – I was obscured by the sticker reading “Carpe Noctum.” What on earth does Carpe Noctum mean, anyways? And why does it sound so familiar?

Five minutes later, the phrase Carpe Noctum is still floating around my head. Eventually, it clicks in my oxygen-starved brain that I’m recognizing “Carpe” from “Carpe Diem,” or “Seize the day.” Noctum, obviously, is the Latin root for “Night” (Note Nocturnal Raid, the card). Seize the Night? Ok, that’s just neat. Hmmm… I don’t like my current deck name.

~insert grinning here~

When I arrive at Rainy Day Games, I pull out the pad of paper for my notes. My decklist is scribbled in my requisite bad handwriting, with the words “Unexpected Complications” and “Dead on Arrival” at the top. I yank the small pen off my collar, and scratch those two names out. The words “Carpe Noctum” are written in next to the decklist. Speaking of the decklist!

Carpe Noctum (Original idea from the Dojo, a UBC deck from long, long ago. Anyone who can trace the history and tell me the original source, please do!)

4x Birds of Paradise
4x Llanowar Elves
4x Phyrexian Ghoul
4x Academy Rector
4x Pattern of Rebirth
4x Duress
2x Vampiric Tutor
1x Verdant Force
1x Phyrexian Plaguelord
1x Spike Weaver
1x Masticore
1x Tradewind Rider
1x Aura of Silence
1x Saproling Burst
1x Rancor
1x Confiscate

6x Forest
6x Swamp
1x Tropical Island
3x Brushland
4x City of Brass
1x High Market
2x Undiscovered Paradise
1x Gemstone Mine
1x Reflecting Pool

Relevant Sideboard Cards:
4x Disrupting Scepter
4x Circle of Protection: Red
1x Teferi’s Moat
1x Morphling

Needless to say, the deck requires some explanations. It’s not a pick-up-and-play deck. The main theory behind the deck is very similar to that presented by Flores Black and Survival decks. An enormous number of “Silver Bullets” are available, all creatures or enchantments fetched by either Rector or Pattern. Needless to say, a Rector can get a Pattern, or vise versa, to get whatever you need, whenever you need it. The deck is capable of single explosive turns, or long, drawn out control battles. A few things deserve special mention.

Saproling Burst is key to the third turn kill the deck harbors deep within itself. Turn 1 Birds makes way for a turn 2 Ghoul, and a turn 3 Rector. The Ghoul attacks, and, if it goes unblocked (few people will block in game 1), the Rector gets fed to it. It is tradition to ask at this point if your opponent wants to concede. If they decline, the Rector fetches a Pattern for the Birds. The Birds then throw themselves out of the game, fetching a Rector. He gets sacked as well, making for an 8/8 Ghoul. Bing, Saproling Burst enters play. Anyone who survives when 6 1/1 tokens are made an sacked has too much life to begin with. A 20/20 Ghoul eats most people for breakfast. This, of course, is not the deck’s main route to victory – Masticore, Plaguelord, and Verdant Force claim that place.

Confiscate is the deck’s trump. It solves 99% of the problems you’ll face. See, the Rector has a very interesting effect, in that once you begin searching, the enchantment will BE IN PLAY before your opponent gets another chance to play spells and abilities. In other words, if you sack a Rector, your opponent has to choose RIGHT THEN whether or not to sack something they don’t want Confiscated. And if they do sack it, you aren’t required to get Confiscate. Heck, you may have the Confiscate in your hand – They don’t know that. It should also be noted that an enchantment coming into play via Rector is neither a spell nor an ability. Even an opponent who is wise to your Confiscating ways is unable to stop you from taking their Morphling! They can make it untargetable all they’d like – the Confiscate will still hit it and stick. It simply can’t be shaken off.

The third turn kill I mentioned comes up suprisingly often. Specifically, just under 20% of the time (18.23%). Unfortunately, the kill is easily disrupted, so it is rarely a wise choice to go directly for the dome. Rather, I find it most suitable to use my effects sparingly, and use the silver bullets to control my opponent before going for the head with a Verdant Force.

In my time before the tourney begins, I start chatting with a slightly younger guy named Preyton. He’s building a Type 2 U/W control deck based on Worship, and doing an admirable job of it. It looks fairly solid, though he’s running some questionable choices in Master Healer and Cho-Manno’s Blessing. Once he finishes the deck, buying the cards he needs, we play a few rounds. I pull the Universal Net Deck on him (see John Rizzo’s UND articles), and proceed to lose in perfect form. I mention that I have absolutely no removal in the deck or sideboard, and he gets down a Worship and a Master Healer. That, ladies and gentlemen, is game.

Preyton asks if I have any other decks on me, and I end up beating him to death with my current build of Greater Good – Twice. It’s not a very fair match-up, and Greater Good eats his deck alive by decking both games. He throws a few things in my way, but each game, I recast a Weatherseed with Rancor four or five times with an Alter and Greater Good in play. That’s not easy to stop, I’m afraid, when one is tapped out. Preyton snags another opponent out of the crowd, and plays for a few games with him while I observe. I notice a few minor play errors, such as a Withdraw with only one target, but his opponent makes a few small mistakes to make up for it.

Jeremie Bilisari, aka Slick, shows up at this point. He’s still not sure what deck he’s playing, of the seven or so he brought. None are deeply tuned, and I’m afraid Slick is not widely known for the deck building skills. Creativity in decks, certainly, but his decks are rarely top-of-the-line. He pulls out a deck at random, and we play a round. I play Carpe Noctum. He loses. So he swaps off decks. Deck number two gets nailed to the floor too. Repeat this process for seven decks, and you’ll understand fully my pre-tourney activities. He eventually decides on a U/G Monkey Cage/Opposition creation that’s really quite strong, if a bit slow. Once it gets going, it does evil things. Unfortunately, it takes some serious time to get going.

I get in a few trades before the tourney, and then round 1 gets called.

I’m paired at table 12, the lowest table. Slick is at table 1. Prophecy?

My opponent is also Jeremy, but he’s playing mono-red Goblins. He says he’s been playing maybe a month, so I decide it’s time to go easy. I hate crushing people who haven’t played long, but I do play to win, so… Here we go.

Round 1:

Since Jeremy hasn’t been playing for too long, I reverse my usual play orientation. I place my lands close to me, and when I play a permanent, I put it further out, and upside down so he can read it easily. Unfortunately, my Verdant Force is Italian, so I have to pull my English one out of the Greater Good deck before we can start.

He drops some early creatures, which I stop with a Ghoul. He continues attacking, and I block a few things. Strangely, my life total manages to hover around 19. Exactly 19, in fact, since that’s the point that the Verdant Force jumped into play (that would be turn 3 for those keeping track at home). I start attacking with the Force, leaving the rest of my insanely powerful team at home (including Saprolings). He throws a few cards in front of it, playing a new Goblin each turn to chump. He never gets 7 power out to stop it forever, and I eventually have 8 tokens in addition to the Force. This is when I draw Phyrexian Plaguelord. The game ends shortly thereafter.

Game 2 isn’t much prettier, I’m afraid. I go to twelve from early attackers – Raging Goblin, a Mogg Sentry, and a Goblin Chariot. I have my kill on turn 3, but decline to take the chance. I hate doing that so friggin’ fast. On turn 8 or so, his life takes a sudden drop into to “Mortal Wound” area. Oh, hell with it – It just goes from 20 to zero. He looks surprised.

I offer up several games with the Universal Net Deck, and, as always, he gets a good ego boost from turning it into a wet mark on the pavement. There’s some burn action involved, and some poorly timed Greed work on my part, but hey – It was fun.

Round 2:

This time, I’m up in the upper quarter of tables. Slick has dropped to near where I was. So much for the prophecy!

I’m playing Kyle. I’ve played him a few times before, we usually split fairly evenly in games. He’s playing a mono Blue creation featuring (of course) the requisite Morphlings, Counterspells, and Force of Wills. He is also play Boomerang, a choice I question, but hey – Whatever.

Game 1, I open quickly with an Elf. He plays a bunch of Islands. I play Rancor and Birds on turn 2, attacking for 3. No counters. The Elf continues his pattern of 3 damage until turn 6 or so. At this point, I have a Rector in play. Kyle plays a Morphling. I make my favorite play with this deck, attacking with the Rector. He spends several minutes deciding whether or not to block. Eventually, he does, and Rector dies. I spend another few minutes carefully explaining that, once the Rector’s ability starts to resolve, he will not get any further chances to respond before I get my enchantment. He takes all this in, and after another few minutes, chooses to do nothing. I, of course, Confiscate Morphling. He looks surprised!

Unfortunately, he Boomerangs my Confiscate (an interesting choice, considering I had no blue mana untapped, but whatever works) and retrieves his Morphling. Huh. Bad card saves the day. He goes at me for a few turns, and I drop Tradewind and Birds to block if necessary. I get several more points of damage through. Eventually, I have two flying blockers, Kyle is at 5, and I’m at 4. I also have enough power on the table to win next turn. So, of course, he Boomerangs two more creatures. Sheesh. I lose.

Game 2. This just isn’t fair. I draw three land and a Birds, which is all well and good. He draws 8 land, two of which are Ports. I never cast anything except a Rector. The Ports start hitting my City, over, and over, and over. One way to sack a creature, and I can win the game. I don’t cast one over the course of the FIFTEEN turns spent with him killing my land. Oh, for the record, he Boomeranged my Rector and then kept me from my mana so I couldn’t play it again. I lose to a Morphling he plays at the last minute, still having failed to see land #4. That’s about 20 turns, for those keeping track, or nearly half of my deck. 3 lands. Three lands. Sheesh. That’s pretty bad.

Did I mention I had the turn 3 kill hand that game? And that my mana being Ported kept me from EVER casting a Ghoul? Sheesh.

Round 3:

This time, I’m playing a young man named Barry. Slick has the bye for the round, due to someone being removed in Round 1 for not knowing Yawgmoth’s Will was banned. Ooops.

Barry says he played for several years a long time ago, but just restarted last WEEK. I kinda doubt that statement, but hey, whatever works. He’s playing pure Sligh, though. And he knows how to play it, too.

Game 1, he drops an early pair of Pups. They attack for a while, and I get out a Rector and a Ghoul (no mana creature). At the end of one of my turns, he Shocks the Ghoul, then Kindles it. That’s ok, though, because I sack the Rector to put a Pattern on the Ghoul, then sack the Ghoul to put, say, Verdant Force into play. I have vague memories of Verdant Force wrecking Sligh. Sure enough, it does. He doesn’t attack for a few turns while I build up Saprolings. Then I drop a Ghoul, and he hits the 6/1 trampler button and attacks with everything. I block a Pup with my Force, and the Ball with my Ghoul. Two more pups and a Patrol are blocked by Saprolings, and I sack those Saprolings to make my Ghoul 8/8. He Shocks it, but everything he has dies except a Pup. I go to 8. I have a Verdant Force and 4 cards in my hand to his empty hand and Jackal Pup. The game does not take long from there. There’re some squishing noises involved.

Game 2, I side in my CoPs and the Moat. Turn 1 Birds, turn 2 active CoP. I’m at 18 and he can’t touch me. He drops a pair of kicked Skizziks, but doesn’t attack. Some more small critters join his side of the board, and I just sit there under my CoP. Eventually I get a Rector in play, and a High Market to sack it, as well as 8 other mana. That’s enough to play Verdant Force the old fashioned way! I do so, and Barry takes this as a sign to attack. He drops two Ball Lightnings! But, as he declares his attack step, my Rector turns into a Teferi’s Moat: Red. He concedes two turns later, with me at 18. He mentions something about bending over and getting a foot rammed up his butt. It wasn’t pretty, but he apparently found it thoroughly amusing.

Round 4:

This round, I’m again in the upper portion of the tables. Unfortunately, two people at 3-0 drew at table 1, leaving only 2 more slots for the top 4. And despite my good tiebreakers (Kyle was one of the folks drawing), I don’t have a great chance at making it in.

I’m up against Jesse this time. He’s playing a U/R Burn/Fatty deck. It’s not running Counters that I saw, but it has Air Elementals, Volcanic Dragons, and some other 4/4s in the sky. And LOTS of burn. He opens game one with a Flame Rift and Aether Flash, so I can’t play my Ghoul. I can play one of my two Rectors, on turn 3 though, killing the Flash with my Aura of Silence (the Flash killed the Rector). I then toss down a Ghoul and Rector. He fries the Ghoul before I attack, but I fetch a Pattern with the Rector and toss out a Verdant Force. He Boomerangs (ARGGG!) it after it makes just three tokens, and I start my offense, dropping a Plaguelord the hard way. Eventually, I get a Tradewind into play as well, but his burn spells and my Cities are taking a toll. Before the Tradewind loses summoning sickness, he hits me alongside the head with an Air Elemental, dropping me to two. I bounce it. Several turns later, I attack with my Plaguelord and two Saprolings, leaving a Tradewind, a Birds, and a Saproling untapped on my side. He goes to 2, untaps, and plays Volcanic Dragon. He attacks, and I bounce it. He replays it, and attacks again.

I do a double take.

Huh? I take a second looking for something I missed, and then say “You don’t get two attack phases…”

“I don’t?”

He seriously doesn’t realize this. Oh, well. The game ends in short order with my Saprolings finishing him off once and for all.

Game 2 is even less favorable for him. I drop a Birds, and he makes the mistake of not frying it. He fries the first Ghoul I play, but I have another, so he focuses his burn on me. There’s an Incinerate, several Seals, and a Lunge, dropping me to 7 life on turn 4 or so. That’s when I play the Rector. He’s tapped out, and he looks surprised when my Ghoul gets +18/+18 and turns him into a pancake.

Unfortunately, I do not make Top 4, coming in 6th. ‘Twas a good attempt, with a VERY solid deck. I was really very surprised at the sheer efficiency my deck showed in annihilating my opponents. It’s fast, brutal, and hard to stop. I’ve only put in four or five hours worth of personal playtesting with the current version against ‘real’ Extended decks. (Unfortunately, ‘real’ Extended decks are not universal yet – It’s an open environment.) As a rule, Carpe Noctum eats Sligh for breakfast in much the same way that Secret Force does. Verdant Force wrecks that deck, and with effectively 12 CoP: Reds after sideboarding, it’s rather difficult to last through games two and three.

If I were to make changes to it, I would basically play with the land mix. Needless to say, I don’t own many Dual lands, and this deck certainly begs for them! The mix I’d go with would be something like this, given unlimited resources:

4x City of Brass
4x Gemstone Mine
2x High Market
4x B/G Dual
4x G/W Dual
4x B/W Dual

That’s just 22 to my previous 25 land. I would then remove Spike Weaver, leaving 4 open slots. Those slots become Land Grants, and the deck stands. The Weaver would relocate to the sideboard, giving me 8 maindeck “silver bullet” slots, four creatures and four enchantments. Those slots, obviously, would need to be metagamed to where ever you play, but it’s rare that you can’t find a suitable creature or enchantment to take on any given deck. You’ll kill plenty of people with this deck.

--Zadok001, aka Greater Good fanatic
CPA Founder
“We have more sprouts than they have hands.”

Read More Articles by David Zadok Stroud!

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