Wednesday 18 July 2018

RG Tokens .dec

Chatter of the SquirrelSo this was a follow on experiment after the success of my tribal Thallids build. This is based on much the same principles except it uses red payoff cards rather than black ones and is not tied to a specific token type. Basically this gets tokens into play, uses them in combination with a card like Cryptolith Rites to generate a lot of mana which in turn you use to generate more tokens in a perpetual and ever increasing rate! While you can kill with a number of specific tools in red like Goblin Bombardment you can also just kill through sheer numbers of dorks and often do.

I think the black build is better although I suspect moving away from the tribal elements would be the best way to do it. Perhaps even splashing red or white for some extra potent cards, Lingering Souls anyone? Even if black is a bit better it certainly isn't much better and it is a fairly minor point. The biggest take away would be that the general archetype becomes stronger if it has more than one viable colour pairing. Quality of your mana base determines the main difference in quality for most different archetypal variants in cube. If you have a perfect mana base going three colours is going to be the best route. If you have all the cards for the deck but only RG fixing then your RG option is going to substantially outclass the BG in most cases. The other take away is that you can do cube based go wide strategies based in green that do not depend on Overrun effects to win. While you still use the engine cards from red or black to take the win all my previous builds doing such things have been based in black or red which leads to a very different feel of deck.

Anywho, this is my first go at the RG build and it looks really weird, it has a load of mismatched cards and a load of things you feel like you want to make room for that are absent. It is literally like you took a goblins list and a green token list, shuffled the spells together, drew enough for a 40 card deck and then made it a mana base! It performed far far better than it looked. It performed better than my black green Thallid build. Much of that was my improving at the archetype in general. I think if I built this again and a better generic BG token deck the latter would perform a touch better, and better still if I could make it three colours.

Earthcraft24 Spells

Chatter of the Squirrel
Faithless Looting
Lightning Bolt

Goblin Bombardment
Crytolith Rites
Song of Freyalise

Dragon Fodder
Krenko's Command
Saproling Migration
Mogg War Marshal

Selesnya Guildmage
Commune with the Gods
Nest InvaderJade Mage
Nest Invader

Young Pyromancer
Evolutionary Leap
Goblin Instigator

Hordeling Outburst
Goblin Sharpshooter
Squirrel Nest

Porphorus, God of the Forge

Ant Queen
Siege-Gang Commander

16 Lands

Westvale Abbey
Khalni Garden
Gaea's Cradle
Some Duals
Hopefully some Sacs
Many Basics!

Squirrel NestSo what makes this kind of deck good? Really it is several factors but the best way to describe it is that it is lacking in weaknesses. You might think that mass removal is bad for this relatively slow deck that wants to flood the board with dorks. Certainly it is a bit of a reset but the decks playing Wraths effects typically are light on their own board. Unlike the creature based decks which can stall the board pretty well the more control ones need to press that Wrath button sooner else they will just get attacked to death with a swarm. You really do not need to invest much into pressuring control decks. I have not eaten worse than a 2 for 1 against a Wrath and have forced many a 1 for 1 with cards like Jade Mage. The main key for beating Wraths is to hold back a token producing creature. Beyond that you have a huge number of non creature cards of value. A Tranquility is perhaps more scary that a Wrath! Most of your combo components are enchantments. I looked at Centaur Glade and Dragon Roost. Extra token producers not on the back of dorks is even safer. Sadly both of these options are a bit pricey, the cheaper the token produced the more rapid the acceleration of dorks and mana. Ant Queen is simply the best on offer. Roost would be a finisher rather than an engine piece as it is so costly, I think I would just rather a Devil's Play! A better option would be Goblin Warrens as it is actually another infinite combo with Earthcraft alongside Squirrel Nest. The issue with that is that it is totally dead unless you have the two goblins to hand to begin with. It is far to unreliable to be run for its stand alone power.

Commune with the GodsCommune with the Gods and Faithless Looting help make the deck more consistent. I felt I needed more such cards given that I was running the Squirrel Nest combo. The Nest is pretty rubbish as token producers go being capped at one per turn on its own and a pretty high upfront cost. I would absolutely have gone for a simple Nissa, Voice of Zendikar or even a Mogg Alarm in its place if I didn't have the Earthcraft or access to the digging tools to find the combo parts.

A Skullclamp would further increase the potency of the combo elements and would be a pretty reasonable fit for the deck. I chose to go with the weaker Evolutionary Leap. It is better at finding the engine pieces for the main plan of the deck with your Ant Queen, Jade Mage, and Purphoros and Sharpshooter all being dorks. I thought it less important to be able to find the Crypolith Rites part of the engine as they are substantially less easy to remove in cube settings than creatures. Leap has the mild perk of being an enchantment itself and so easier to find with your Commune. More importantly it can be used to sac off at instant speed which allows you to block with tokens and gain value from them. This is really important in the grindy games. When getting beaten up by meatier dorks and having a bit of disruption thrown your way as a Jund midrange deck will likely do you get very thin on resources. Clamp returns them better but at a much greater tempo cost which you can't afford when under pressure. Leap proved the perfect solution and lets you get to that critical mass much faster with its kinder balance of tempo and value.

Goblin BombardmentBack to the subject of lacking weakness. We have covered control somewhat, what about aggro? Well, when you are able to churn out loads of 1/1 blockers cheaply and quickly most aggro decks come pretty unstuck. They get in little early damage, trade poorly and wind up with loads of dead draws. Reach  from your opponent can be a bit more problematic, you are removal light and if you are using your Goblin Bombardment to stay alive it is probably not a great position! You really want that fuel to go towards winning! Your only real source of value is being able to dump massive amounts of mana into producing free tokens. If you don't have the tokens to begin with you can't make the mana you need to obtain abusive value. Small early game upsets can cost many turns later down the line. I think this is why I like the black version a little better. The Blood Artist effects gain you life and so you can stall and chump block and still be winning, all be it slowly.

On the flip side of that this Gruul list felt a lot punchier than Golgari ones. Just red cards being a bit more red flavour meant that this list would just wind up in aggro mode more than I expected and simply kill people the good old fashioned way. This in turn made safety and disruption tools less important. You could race well or kill effectively through defenses. I initially ran a Hellrider in this list as another payoff card but it was a little off theme and clunky. It won a few games and it was some level of drawback in the rest. Siege Gang and Sharpshooter both carried a lot of weight as well and would help close out games in unusual ways. There are some pretty naughty interactions with Sharpshooter and Earthcraft allowing you to get a mana out of every dead dork even with a summoning sick Shooter. They did rather cry out for haste giving effects!

Khalni GardenThe ability to pump your team with Selesnya Guildmage is actually great! You can easily make white mana with your Rites but it might be worth including access to white in your mana base. This in turn has issues as you are pushed for space. You want maximum numbers of basic lands without conceding fixing consistency all the while keeping some space for some nice utility land. Ideally you would have room for both Wolf Run and Westvale Abbey but I was too chicken! A great way to have lots of basics (for Earthcraft) and lots of fixing is of course sac lands! The more of them you can get (provided you have at least one RG fixing land you can find) the better. Khalni Garden also feels too good to pass up on in this list. It offers utility and should generally provide two mana a turn as long as the plant lives. Given how dire we accept drawbacks on most lands that produce two and how much play such cards still see the Garden looks really broken in comparison.

I quite like the idea of  cards like Mass Hysteria, Concordant Crossroads or perhaps just a safer Fires of Yavimaya. Giving your dorks haste massively increases the explosive potential of going off. Particularly with cards like Sharpshooter as previously mentioned. If I had some better haste providers I would absolutely be running Krenko. Haste would also makes Rites and Song better than Earthcraft which they are presently a long way off assuming both relevant basic lands are in play. I think the deck is perhaps a little thin for such things, either you are going to empower your opponents to kill you or you are just going to wind up with too many do nothing enchantments and no dorks to empower them. Impact Tremors also feels like this and so we should also rule it out. Given every previous time it has been played it has been too under powered to excite as well!

Ant QueenThis deck is aggressive enough to threaten non-interactive racing decks. It is defensive enough to hold out well against early aggression. It is resilient enough to endure a midrange all round smackdown and still come out on top. It is sufficiently threatening that it can dictate the course of play against a control deck forcing answers with little and getting out key cards while they are dealing with the pressure. It can win through most forms of defense and for all these reasons it is very robust little deck. It is at its worst against disruption and pressure. Being a synergy based deck one bit of disruption is substantially more devastating. Get your Rites Abrupt Decayed and suddenly all the cards that were going to abuse it become a lot less impressive. Get the one token producer ripped from your hand with a Thoughtsieze and you are suddenly in for a very slow start. If they follow this with something punchy or value generating or both like a Grim Flayer then you are going to struggle to regroup in time. The deck can also kind of just kill itself with poor draws more so than most decks I play in cube. Even the more obscure pure combo decks with loads of do nothing cards will typically have a lot more control over going on with blue filtering effects and black hand disruption. This list is rather more at the mercy of what gets done by opponents to it and the winds of fate! Even so, it feels like a fairly high tier deck. It doesn't appear to have many bad matchups and has plenty of good ones. Most importantly of all, it is really fun to play. You can run all sorts of crazy cards and have them be good from Goblin Warrens to Nemata, Grove Guardian! You get loads of resources to play with and consequently get to feel very powerful. You do lots of actions and have a nice range of options in your play. It turns out I am a big fan of cards like Cryptolith Rites, the reasonable redundancy on them now, and how they work so well with token producers.

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