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Making It Work (3): Barl's Cage
By Douwe Terluin
Barl's Cage 4
3: Target creature doesn't untap during it's controller's untap phase.

I have always had a Barl's Cage. After openening my first pack of Chronicles, I became the its proud owner. And I have never played with it. I had just started playing magic, but had surpassed the stage in which your deck consists of all the cards you own. I am fairly confident that all my friends had Barl's Cage somewhere and I am positive that I have never seen one in play. This does not bode well.

I searched the internet for decks which abuse this card and found none. Some decks just played one out of, i would guess, nostalgia. So for all you sentimental sobs out there I'll cut right to the Old School Decklist

TheCage.dec

Mana (26)
4x Island
4x Tundra
3x City of Brass
2x Plains
2x Strip Mine
2x Tropical Island
1x Underground Sea
1x Library of Alexandria
1x Sol Ring
1x Mox Emerald
1x Mox Jet
1x Mox Pearl
1x Mox Ruby
1x Mox Sapphire
1x Black Lotus
Blue (15)
4x Mana Drain
2x Counterspell
1x Ancestral Recall
1x Time Walk
1x Timetwister
1x Braingeyser
1x Recall
4x Power Artifact
Black (2)
1x Mind Twist
1x Demonic Tutor
White (8)
2x Swords to Plowshares
4x Disenchant
2x Serra Angel
Green (3)
1 Regrowth
2x Living Plane
Artifact (6)
3x Barl's Cage
2x Disrupting Scepter
1x Jayemdae Tome
1x Ivory Tower

*GASP*

"Did he really just mess up TheDeck.dec?"
"Looks like he did."
"What did he put in?"
"He put in Barl's Cages.. and Power Artifacts just to make the ability seem playable.. And living plane.. where's he going with this??"
"The power artifacts are kinda fun with the Scepter and the Tome.. and paying one mana to keep someone's land tapped is .. kinda.. annoying?"
"What?! My blade will separate your diseased head from your neck. Honor demands it!"

Well, you get what I was going for. Paying three mana to keep someone's creatures from untapping is fun, but a bit narrow. Animating all lands will increase the Barl's Cage applicability somewhat. It might enable you to enduce mana-screw (or at least color-screw). The easy way to animate all lands would be Nature's Revolt, seeing as Living Plane is not easily obtained.

Now that we have a way to keep them tapped, a way to tap creatures would be welcome. Lets include some Icy Manipulators for all round tapping and Sunstrike Legionnaire as a backup. Since we're packing Icy manipulators, adding two Winter Orbs would be a nice way to complement the deck when The Cage is lacking. No more than two though; wouldn't want people to think we're actually playing the Winter Orb/Icy combo.

So, right now we are tapping small creatures with the Legionaire, big creatures with the Icy, and lands with both. What does that leave? No, hippos are creatures too. Right, artifacts. Well, lets animate them as well! March of Machines will do this, and as an added bonus will destroy artifact land and make The Cage a hefty 4/4. Nice.

The only thing this deck needs now is a whole lot of mana. Because all of your opponent's lands will probably be tapped, a Vernal Bloom will probably help a lot. The deck will probably require some dual lands, but if you don't have them Fertile Grounds will help as color fixing and mana acceleration. Seeing as all lands are going to be creatures, an earthcraft will let you tap all your lands for the amount of mana your most heavily enchanted basic land can produce. Let's use Enlightened Tutor and Sterling Groves to find it (or other combo pieces). The Sterling Groves have the added bonus of protecting your enchantments, so multiple copies will never be dead cards.
When using dual lands, Skyshroud Claim is great. Otherwise Kodama's Reach would be the color fixer of my choice. To have some early defense, we'll put some walls in the deck (i'm sorry, I mean "defenders"). Did I mention that this is a mana-intensive deck? Right, Vine Trellis it is. Wall of Roots would be good to, but would eventually die and the temporary acceleration it provides doesn't make up for that. Sakura Tribe Elder could be
considered, but it's just a one time blocker.

Now we need a kill condition other than March of the Machines. And prefably something that can create a lot of creatures we can use to create mana with (through earthcraft) and something to prevent us from decking ourselves.
Beacon of Creation!
The deck is becoming kinda combolicious, so we might as well put a Blasting Station in there to get our Beacon Blast going. Just one though; it's still a Barl's Cage deck.

Let's take a look at the deck:

Lands (22)
14x Forest
4x Tropical Island
4x Savannah

Artifact (10)
4x Barl's Cage
1x Blasting Station
3x Icy Manipulator
2x Winter Orb

Green (20)
2x Beacon of Creation
1x Earthcraft
4x Fertile Ground
4x Nature's Revolt
2x Skyshroud Claim
3x Vernal Bloom
4x Vine Trellis

White (3)
1x Enlightened Tutor
2x Sunstrike Legionaire

Blue (2)
2x March of the Machines

Gold (3)
3x Sterling Grove

Dying note..
The deck is probably too dependent on the earthcraft, but packs an
unexpected punch with the beacons.

Until the next challenge, I propose YOU put one Barl's Cage in every
deck.
Every deck?
Yes, Every deck.
Only one?
Yes, only one. It is that powerful!

Read More Articles by Douwe Terluin!

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