Just a little Magic-related post. You may ignore this post if you find geekiness distasteful or if you do not wish to learn about Magic: The Gathering.
Played a little set of Magic with my brother this afternoon. He was using his Rakdos
beatdown deck against my aggro/control Orzhov deck, ZEST SEVEN.
Although he has beaten my deck in single duels, I was still able to defend my best-of-three title. He still hasn’t beaten ZEST SEVEN in best-of-three matches.
Here’s what’s in ZEST SEVEN:
ZEST SEVEN Orzhov-affiliated Aggro/Control
4x Lionheart Maverick (W, 1/1)
3x Shrieking Grotesque (2W, 2/1)
3x Faith’s Fetters (3W)
2x Wrath of God (2WW)
1x Balance (1W)
3x Cry of Contrition (B)
2x Okiba-Gang Shinobi (3BB, 3/2)
1x Toshiro Umezawa (1BB, 2/2)
Gold Spells (B/W):
4x Castigate (WB)
3x Orzhov Guildmage (W/B,W/B)
3x Mortify (1WB)
2x Vindicate (1WB)
2x Teysa, Orzhov Scion (1WB, 2/3)
2x Ghost Council of Orzhova (WWBB, 4/4) aka Obzedat
2x Angel of Despair (3WWBB, 5/5)
1x Umezawa’s Jitte (2)
1x Caves of Koilos
1x Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
1x Eiganjo Castle
1x Godless Shrine
ZEST SEVEN is a very controlling deck. It likes the board to stay clear of threats, and that’s what the various denial and removal spells do. Cry of Contrition eats away at my opponent’s hand, while Castigate directly deals with threats. Anything that isn’t an artifact or land can get smashed by Mortify. If it’s a land or artifact, it gets Vindicated. Faith’s Fetters is also a good neutralization tool (and it gives me life to boot). In a serious pinch, Wrath of God and Balance can be used to completely vaporize mass creature threats.
Though it doesn’t look like it, this deck is very creature-dependent. It starts off with weenies like the Lionheart Maverick for an early offense and spot defense (because it has Vigilance). Turn 2 drops like Orzhov Guildmage are very nifty: 2 mana for a 2/2 creature is good enough, its abilities make it better. Teysa is an excellent creature remover. As long as I have fodder to sacrifice, she can dispose of nasty creatures permanently.
You may wonder why Toshi Umezawa is in my deck. I thought it was a good idea to put him in because he gets more mileage out of my Mortifies. I was originally supposed to put a couple of Wrecking Balls in the deck, but I decided against it when I threw out my other mana producers. Nevertheless, Toshi has still proven himself against my brother—he single-handedly halted my brother’s annoying Rakdos Guildmage offense by cutting one of the Guildmages to pieces. The death of that Guildmage allowed me to reuse a spent Mortify in my graveyard. Granted, Toshi may not survive long enough for that to happen, but he gives me options.
My heavy hitters are the Ghost Councils and the Angels of Despair. The Ghost Councils are excellent threats that are playable in the first few turns, while the Angels can turn the tide of the battle with their Vindicate-in-a-can ability plus their massive power (5/5, which is not a common rating for Angel-types).
My brother’s deck looks like this:
3x Seal of Fire (R)
2x Taste for Mayhem (R)
2x Pyromatics (1R)
3x Fencer’s Magemark(2R)
2x Rakdos Pit Dragon (2RR)
1x Demonfire (XR)
2x Delirium Skeins (2B)
Gold Spells (B/R):
3x Gobhobbler Rats (BR, 2/2)
2x Rakdos Guildmage (B/R, B/R, 2/2)
1x Avatar of Discord (B/R,B/R,B/R, 5/3)
1x Rakdos Augermage (BBR, 3/2)
2x Wrecking Ball (2BR)
1x Dread Slag (3BR, 9/9)
1x Blood Crypt
My brother’s strategy is a typical Rakdos guild strategy: He drops his hand as fast as he can (usually hitting mine at the same time, that’s what Delirium Skeins is for) while hitting me with an endless barrage of creatures. As soon as he runs out of cards in hand, his creatures and spells are Hellbent, receiving a significant powerup.
Unfortunately, his Rakdos Pit Dragons are easily-neutralized threats, and so are the Rakdos Guildmages. He has usually killed my creatures with Wrecking Balls and Seals of Fire, but the body count on his side is usually higher, especially when I drop Wrath of God.
Beware, however: this deck has only 40 cards. That does make it streamlined–he almost always gets what he needs. However, adding 20 more cards can add a lot of options.
A short summary of today’s set:
My brother drew a strong opening hand, and I got color screwed. I kept drawing Plains, but my black mana sources were lacking. I did manage to Mortify and Fetter all of his threats, though, so that kept him unable to act until I pulled out enough mana to drop an Angel of Despair. My success with her was short-lived. She got blocked by a Pit Dragon. For a long time, both of us kept drawing lands, until I drew a Ghost Council followed by a Jitte. The Council murdered a very threatening Rakdos Guildmage with the Jitte. My brother’s life went down very quickly after that.
Me: 1, Vince: 0
My mana balance was better this time, and although both of my Ghost Councils were killed by midgame, they had left him bruised and bleeding. A lowly Okiba-Gang Shinobi finished him off.
Me: 2, Vince: 0
I was rather hosed in this last game because Vince used his Delirium Skeins to rid me of my precious Mortifies. However, he was not able to build up enough steam to hit me hard. A Ghost Council dropped his life to dangerous levels, and although he was able to find a blocker for it, I was able to bring out an Angel of Despair to end the killguilder party.
Me: 3, Vince: 0
It was a tough fight, but the two of us have proven that while Vince’s deck is formidable, it lacks options. It only has a single way to go on the offensive, and when that fails, he folds up very quickly. Although the Cult of Rakdos is all about reckless, self-destructive attacks, it has no way to recover if its attacks fail. The Orzhov Syndicate, however, is capable of multiple points of attack. With a little aggro boost, the Guild of Deals can poke its opponent into submission through denial and removal, and then move in for the kill with the Obzedat or an Angel of Despair.
Vince plans to expand his deck to 60 cards. He needs to. But I definitely look forward to the fresh new threat that it will be.
Your Black Lion