Sunday, 12 July 2015

Classic Control Rock

Phyrexian Plaguelord
I wanted to play some magic rather than create new wonders. The rock is an established archetype, it is pretty even against anything you like and can be built in a myriad of ways. You can get a little creative with it or you can just build good old rock and try and out play people. You rarely ever get run over playing rock however you never really get a free win either. You have to work hard for your wins and so if you want to play magic then the rock is a great choice. The rock is robust but it is fairly slow to respond, you have to carefully plan how you are to do things and how you need to match up your cards against theirs. It is so easy to lose the game because you use the wrong removal spell on a target. The rock gives you slightly less choices each turn that a lot of cube decks however the choices you do get are often very comparable in how they immediately appear so making the right one is key. It will affect you more than with most decks further down the line. Rock games also tend to go on longer than most and so even with fewer choices per turn you will have more to make overall. Rock isn't the hardest deck to play but it is one of the hardest decks to win out with.

Pernicious Deed
This list I have called classic rock because it isn't doing anything that fancy, there isn't much built in synergy. It is just a collection of the best cards in the right ratios. Rock is traditionally a control deck, it usually maintains board control with a presence rather than mass removal like your blue based control decks. It tends to grind down rather than outlast although it has to do both. You can build very aggressive rock decks and some might argue if they deserved the name rock. They will still typically wind up as the control player against white or red based agro decks however and have a lot of similarities to the control rock The two main similarities between aggro and control rock will be found in the one drop drops. As you are light on mass removal you can play mana dorks and gain a huge tempo boost as a result. As you have no blue for countermagic you are vulnerable to spells and typically play some black targeted discard effects. Getting the numbers right on these is hard, too few and you don't get them early when you need them. Too many and you keep drawing them late game where they are far less useful and can cost you games.

This list manages a fairly healthy number of both ramp and discard and it does this by having very few narrow cards elsewhere in the list. There is no Abrupt Decay because it can be pretty dead versus control decks. Deathrite Shaman is like a free one drop mana critter as it does so much else. Tribe-Elder and Liliana also supplement the ramp and discard respectively but perform other roles for the deck.

Den ProtectorAnother strength of the rock, particularly in cube is recursion. This list has two targeted removal spells and the same number of discard. This is not a lot, especially against certain match ups where they can be your most important cards. With the aid of recursion like Eternal Witness you can reuse your important cards in the various match ups you need them in without having to ruin your list in other matchups. Your mana ramp allows you to get away with playing the recursion effects a lot more than other control decks can manage. Recently green has been given a wealth of new tools for the job as well. Den Protector is a fantastic partner for Witness and is potentially better in this list. Tasigur is also arguably slower as a recursion card but given that he is also a beastly threat and easily for a bargain one mana we can forgive him. Bow of Nylea is a little controversial. The recursion is not to hand and as such is only for the really super long games in which it is one of the best cards going, period. While a little costly, it is also good against the super agro decks where 3 life a turn represents a problem. It can protect you against fliers, you need to spot removal the big ones and so cannot afford to do that to anything smaller that flies. With basically no fliers or even reach guys in the list it is really nice to be able to ping things out of the skies with bow. The combat effect from the deathtouch and the +1/+1 counters is also game breaking in midrange matches. All in all it has modes for all kinds of games and is a fantastic control tool. Between these version recursion cards the deck is able to carry on doing what it needs to be doing for as long as it needs to. It is not at all uncommon for you to Maelstrom Pulse three or more times in a single game. This is why the removal in the deck is so expensive, you need it to do a lot of different things and well, you can afford the extra mana but you cannot afford to have a removal spell that doesn't kill a couple of their threats.

Duress23 Spells

Birds of Paradise
Llanowar Elf
Elves Deep Shadow
Deathrite Shaman


Scavenging Ooze
Sakura Tribe Elder
Sylvan Library
Wall of Blossoms

Hero's Downfall
Maelstrom Pulse
Pernicious Deed
Wall of BlossomsBow of Nylea

Courser of Kruphix
Eternal Witness
Den Protector
Liliana of the Veil

Reaper of the Wilds

Vraska the Unseen
Nissa, Worldwaker

Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Garruk, Apex Predator

17 Lands
Garruk, Apex Predator
Treetop Village
Llanowar Wastes
Temple of Malady
Overgrown Tomb

Verdant Catacombs
Twilight Mire
Woodland Cemetery
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Misty Rainforset
Underground Sea

Jungle Hollow
4x Forest

Bow of NyleaI really really wanted Reaper of the Wilds to be a Siege Rhino, fairly unsurprisingly I guess. I felt the deck needed some beefy midrange dork I could just throw down and own the board but that I didn't need to win the game with at all. I considered Thrun, the Last Troll, Polukranos, the World Eater as well as the Reaper but none of them felt even close to as good as Rhino in the slot. Reaper was fine, it did the job, got me a bunch of scry and made me wish I could have more mana up more often. Rhino would have been better. The real issue of going white is that it drastically changes quite a lot of things. Llanowar becomes Noble Hierarch (probably should be anyway!) and potentially even consider Avacyn Pilgrim over the Deepshadow. The mana base also changes if I have access to it and as such that means I probably have to lose the Tribe-Elder. Something like Demonic Tutor would work well in its place, as would Sylvan Caryatid or even a 1 drop ramp dork. Then once you have decent enough white for the Rhino you suddenly think Vindicate over this pulse. Perhaps an Abzan Charm over something? and you wind up with a different deck... The Abzan version has more power and more options but this Golgari list is more consistent and less demanding on cards.

Sylvan LibraryThere are a lot of planeswalkers in this list despite the Rock archetype predating the card type quite significantly. Planeswalkers are perfect for the deck style, they offer a proactive tool that offers you a lot of utility, ongoing card advantage and some form of threat all the while not requiring you to extend into cards like Wrath of God because of your cheaper dorks. Liliana and Vraska are mostly for removal and disruption but are mild threats and need dealing with. Nissa has been amazing in cube, the untap of lands gives her a lot of utility, even in a deck with only six forests. It also transpires that it is very tough for any deck to beat a tide of colourless 4/4 trampling lands. Ugin looks very embarrassed about it all! Nissa is a potent threat that is your main win condition. Garruk is also made of win but he will also do a bit of removal and stabilizing for you if needs be. Seven is quite the jump given that you don't even really have any six drops but it is pretty worth it. You get a lot of impact with a Grave Titan and that would be fine but Apex is significantly more rounded.

Tasigur, the Golden FangHaving no tutor effects felt a bit dodgy but Sylvan Library is a more than happy replacement. You have enough shuffle and library manipulation to abuse it pretty hard. You have enough redundancy and robustness in your cards that you should be able to find what you need with Library instead of tutors. You also have a boat load of incidental lifegain which means against all but the most aggressive red decks you can afford to treat the Library like a Phyrexian Arena!

A final note on the lands, I have stopped including mana bases out of laziness but this one was a little more significant. The Misty Rainforest improves the manabase but more importantly works with the Library, Tasigur and Courser. It also offers another painless source of black with the Underground Sea which in turn makes for easier Tasigur activations. Seventeen is a lot of land for a deck with as much ramp as this as well as such a low curve. This was intentional, there are plenty of activations I want to be using, I have uses for spare lands as 4/4s or things to throw away to Liliana. I wanted a good pile of basic land as well so as to keep Tribe Elder good into the late game.

If you want to play magic this is the deck. Regardless of the sillyness your opponent is trying to pull this deck will interact with them and give you a good close game more often than any other archetype. It is slow to win and it is fair, but it is reliable and powerful and versatile. On the day this performed like a dream for me and was a delight to play and win with. So often in cube you rip your bomb Aetherling or Thundermaw to cheese a game or flop out an early bomb like Stoneforge/Batterskull or a True-Name Nemesis and just ride that to victory. This deck won't give you those somewhat hollow victories either. When you win you usually feel like you earned it excepting of course those floods and screws your opponent enjoys.

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