Monthly Archives: December 2012

Bad Deck Workshop: Janky Decks for Janky People: Population Rites


First, let me start out by apologizing for not meeting my planned schedule, and especially for not delivering the column I said I would when I said I would. My last post was due TWO weeks ago today, and I delivered absolutely nothing. NOTHING! In fact, I started writing this LAST week, and had to edit the above to say “two weeks,” instead of “a week.”  The end of the semester is ramping up, and crafting papers and such that will satisfy my Marxist instructors while still keeping me from feeling like a hypocrite is both intensive and exhausting. Plus, we had the in-laws over to our place for Thanksgiving the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which took a hell of a lot of prep to get the house cleaned and dinner prepared. Finally…I’m trying to get my leaves up before snow comes again, because if I let them stay on my lawn, they’ll freaking kill it. I don’t want a dead lawn. SO, there was a noticeable lack of new posts for two weeks time.

Tony Hayward has been retained as my personal apologist though.



That said, as of the time of this writing, I haven’t actually publicized this blog yet, so no one should notice unless they’re going through my archives and notice the dates don’t jive.

Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed that I’ve had a couple of people follow and like my posts…which was pleasantly shocking.

Anyway, the last post I put up promised a U/W deck, which is actually something I’ve been working on since I chose Azorius for my first RTR pre-release…but honestly, it’s still seeing significant revisions that mean it’s still not ready for prime-time. Or as close to prime time ready as my jankfests ever get.

So, today, we’re going to talk about a Junk Rites deck that I threw together to play against my wife. As is usual for me, the initial decklist is going to be limited by what I had in my collection. Don’t like that format? Tough!

That’s just how I roll, people. I keep it real, and tell it like it is. I’m a bit of a hardass, sure, but y’know…I don’t apologize to anyone.


Editor’s Note: The preceding paragraph has made it apparent that the following clarification is neccesary. A: How the author pictures himself. B: Far, FAR closer to reality. Hardass indeed…

Here’s the list.

3 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
2 Boneyard Wurm
3 Lotleth Troll
2 Champion of Lambholt
1 Wayfaring Temple
2 Corpsejack Menace
2 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
1 Necropolis Regent
1 Angel of Serenity
1 Moldgraf Monstrosity
1 Avacyn, Angel of Hope
2 Craterhoof Behemoth

2 Abrupt Decay
3 Call of the Conclave
1 Entreat the Angels
2 Growing Ranks
1 Curse of Death’s Hold
1 Rise from the Grave
2 Unburial Rites
2 Grave Betrayal

5 Forest
2 Gavony Township
3 Grove of the Guardian
1 Isolated Chapel
2 Overgrown Tomb
4 Plains
5 Swamp
2 Temple Garden

Break it down!

Ok…let’s start with creatures. Usually during deck construction, my primary inclusion factor is a thought process that works a little like this. My thoughts: “Which cards have the hottest chicks on them?” If I can’t come up with any sufficiently hot answers, I just grab a stack of cards from my creature pile and call it good.

3 Avacyn’s Pilgrim: Dorks. Ramp. Ramp is good, especially in the early version of this list, when I only had two copies of Rites, and might need to hard cast some stuff. Even then, it powers the population engine, as well as the Townships.

2 Boneyard Wurm: We’re discarding cards to Lol Troll and for Rites targets…it’s only natural to have this as an early drop, even though it probably won’t be very powerful later.

3 Lotleth Troll: Discard engine to get stuff in the yard for Rites, gets bigger, and persistent. You’ll typically get the mana for this pretty quick, so…yes, please.

2 Champion of Lambholt: Interesting critter…very interesting interaction with Gavony Township and Population (Rites as well, to a limited extent.) Provides your creatures with some very sexy evasion abilities.

1 Wayfaring Temple: Awesome, huh? Just gets bigger, and powers the population engine.

2 Corpsejack Menace: You’ve got a lot of +1/+1 counters being passed out in this deck…Jack just makes them better.

2 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice: Should be fairly obvious, lifegain and population. Decent blocking body as well.

1 Sigarda, Host of Herons: A singleton I had lying around that worked in these colors. Potential Rites target, but only marginally, given that she only costs one more mana than Rites does. Still, flying, hexproof, and prevents sacrifice effects.

1 Necropolis Regent: Rites target. Rites target. Rites target. If you get him into play, his additional ability is nice, but it’s really just “win-more.”

1 Angel of Serenity: Same as the Regent. Sure, you could pull of some neat tricks with her ability, but it’s going to be very game dependent, so don’t go into a game EXPECTING some amazing synergy. Just use her to your best advantage if you happen to resurrect her.

1 Moldgraf Monstrosity: Rites target, but has the additional advantage of possibly acting like an additional 2x copy of Rites if it dies.

1 Avacyn, Angel of Hope: Win-more Rites target. Indestructible permanents, will, in the majority of situations, simply lead to an opponent scooping, unless they’ve got something like bounce/sweep, or the like.

2 Craterhoof Behemoth: I designed this deck before “Hoof There It Is” or whatever that deck’s silly name is (Note to any readers…this is a perfect example of someone in a glass house chucking as many stones as hard as they can.) Despite that, I’m not going to be a COMPLETE MTG hipster, and kick him out of my deck saying “Well, he’s just TOO mainstream now.” I’ll just say “I was playing him BEFORE he was cool.”

Well now…that’s a list with some awesome synergy, isn’t it? Everything works together all prettylike and such!

It’s a fucking ridiculous mess.

Let’s clean it up a bit.

First, let’s hand out some roses, Bachelor-style.


What the FUCK?!?

Mana dorks, Lol Troll, Champion of Lambshank, Jack, Trostani, Sigarda, Avacyn, and Hoof, you are safe.

Now let’s move on to the rest.

Boneyard Wurm, I don’t ever want to see your fucking stupid face again. I have never ONCE been happy to draw you in this deck, because I don’t want to sacrifice you to Mr. Lotleth, since you’re obviously getting more awesome when a creature is being put in the yard, which means sacrificing you to him is self-defeating. Additionally, when I DO have enough creatures in the graveyard to bring you out and have you be super-sweet, I always have something else I’d rather cast, and while sacrificing a creature to Lotleth Troll is synergistic with Rites, I always have to worry about making you useless when I rez a critter. Go home, no one likes you.

Wayfaring Temple. I’m not sure what to say about you. You look so very, very cool…but you just don’t seem to work.  You either die too quickly to targeted removal, or by the time you get on the board, you’re just not that impressive.

Necropolis Regent. I’d dump this in a heartbeat if I had some other copies of Sigarda, Avacyn, or Craterhoof. He’s just not that amazing compared to the rest. Since we’re putting together a dream deck…we can make those changes.

Angel of Serenity. Nifty abilities, but just not that incredibly synergistic with this deck…at least as far as I can see. Might be best in the sideboard for certain matchups. Honestly…it CAN work as a secondary Rites if you’ve burned through them all/not drawing any, but you have to hardcast anything it brings back from the graveyard, which is a bit counter to the purposes of this deck.

Moldgraf Monstrosity:  Meh. Just plain meh. I’ll give it a “maybe” slot along with Wayfaring Temple.

Onto spells!

2 Abrupt Decay:  Good, early, targeted removal

3 Call of the Conclave:  Decent tokens for populating, low casting cost, good bodies. Wish it was instant speed, but I also wish Scarlett Johansson had taken more than two naughty photos of herself.

What sexy censorship boxes you have, Ms. Johansson...

What sexy censorship boxes you have, Ms. Johansson…

1 Entreat the Angels:  Singleton because they’re expensive…but an incredible card, especially for populating.

2 Growing Ranks:  I hear this is pretty much unplayable, but honestly…all my decks are unplayable. This is like cruise control for population

1 Curse of Death’s Hold: This is probably better as a sideboard card, but at this stage (pre-sideboard construction) tends to work fairly well against most Standard environment lists, since Standard is largely “turning creatures sideways.” This is like a permanent Jace:AOT effect that hits toughness as well as power…meaning any of your opponents critters will do one less combat damage than normal, and their toughness gets knocked down by one too. That’ll kill a fair number of creatures off right off the bat, and brings plenty of others within range for several other effects.

1 Rise from the Grave:  Rites your opponent’s creatures! Or your own.  Same CMC, but no flashback, and makes them a Zombie. This has advantages and disadvantages, but they really don’t pop up too much in this deck as it currently stands.

2 Unburial Rites: Oh…hey, the card I’ve been referring to this whole post, I’m finally going to get directly into. Which means, this whole time, I’ve been assuming you have a complete familiarity with what I’m talking about when I say “Rites.” Kind of rude of me, but as I’ve said before, I don’t actually expect anyone will ever read this other than my mom and my wife. Then they’ll pat me on the head and tell me I did VERY well, and that I’m the most handsome and most talented boy in the WHOLLLLLE school.

Then I get cookies and milk before bed. Fuckin’ sweet.

Anyway, Rites is awesome because you boot your big, nasty creatures into the graveyard, and then bring them back for FAR less than you’d have to pay if you hardcasted (hardcasted? Hardcast? Hardcost? Hardcastededed?) them.  Additionally, if you alter this list to have a self-mill strategy with Mulch or such, Rites can be flashed back for usage, whereas Rise from the Grave is just plain gonzo.

2 Grave Betrayal: Every time your opponent’s creature dies, YOU get it back! Sweet!

Ok…let’s clean up this part of the deck.

I don’t think I can make another Bachelor reference in good conscience, especially since I’ve never actually WATCHED it. So, let’s try this one.

This is a part of the ritual of Tribal Council because fire represents life…but we’re not playing red, and Jeff Probst seems like an asshole anyway, so never mind. I the ONLY one who sees the resemblance?

Seriously…am I the ONLY one who sees the resemblance?

Abrupt Decay, Call of the Conclave, and Unburial Rites are all solid keepers.

Entreat the Angels: you get a solid maybe. It’s a nice Miracle if you topdeck it at the appropriate point.

Growing Ranks:  Also a maybe. It really doesn’t see much constructed play because you’ll usually have something else you want to be casting, but if you’ve got a couple of good tokens in play, it can be awesome, especially with Trostani…life generation each turn, and consistent chump blockers for a one time payment.

Curse of Death’s Hold: This seems like a card that would really fit better in a
sideboard, but honestly, in a deck this combat oriented, it’s a nice advantage to make sure your opponents creatures are knocked down a peg…in multiples, it runs the chance of killing their army off with no combat. Hypothetically speaking, if you had three of them in play, the dread pirate Thragtusk would lose a LOT of his threat, since, yes, his controller would still get the 5 life gain, but both the main body, and the extra would die immediately.

Rise from the Grave: Sure…why not. Let’s you bring back your opponent’s creatures…maybe they’ve got something really nice. Just be ready to board it out against an opponent playing Angel of Glory’s Rise.

Grave Betrayal: Seems awesome…might be in the right deck, thus far hasn’t been. I’m sorry Grave Betrayal, but the tribe has spoken.

Like I said! Total douchenozzle! Look at how much he's digging sending someone home. Sheesh.

Like I said! Total douchenozzle! Look at how much he’s digging sending someone home. Sheesh.

I’m only going over the lands that aren’t just there for mana, and since that’s such a short section, I won’t break it up into justification and final decision.

2 Gavony Township: +1/+1 is rarely a bad thing…but this has a special synergy with Champion of Lambholt, as well as getting supercharged with Jack out.

3 Grove of the Guardian: 8/8 Vigilance? Token to Populate? Sweet! But to be honest…while it’s won me a fair few games, it really does seem to just be win-more…and I think the deck would be smoother with other lands in place, and focusing on other creatures for the kill.

So, let’s sum this up.

3 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
3 Lotleth Troll
4 Champion of Lambholt
2 Corpsejack Menace
2 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
2 Sigarda, Host of Herons
2 Avacyn, Angel of Hope
2 Craterhoof Behemoth

4 Abrupt Decay
3 Call of the Conclave
1 Entreat the Angels
2 Growing Ranks
3 Curse of Death’s Hold
4 Unburial Rites

6 Forest
3 Gavony Township
1 Isolated Chapel
2 Overgrown Tomb
4 Plains
5 Swamp
2 Temple Garden

Of course, this is all subject to further tweaking…but for now, it seems to be more streamlined and functional than it was before. Further issues I see cropping up are that with the removal of the copies of Grove of the Guardian, the populate mechanic is being further marginalized…which then leads to the possibility of marginalizing the inclusion of the Champion of Lambholt, which means Gavony Township and Corpsejack Menace are nearing that particular cliff as well. We COULD just turn this into your basic Rites deck, but part of the fun of this deck is having multiple ways to win. There’s an excellent article that I’m sure most serious (and some goofy, like me) MTG players have read on that points out that most good decks are able to shift, fairly seamlessly, between two archetypes depending on their match. And that isn’t by sideboarding (although some of the best players…which is NOT me, can build excellent decks that are very transformative by good boarding,) but just by playstyle.

But, as I’ve mentioned previously, just because this has been posted doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of it! You’ll see updates to this deck again.

And yes, that’s a threat. You MUST read my crap! I’m holding your dog ransom. Read my column or I’ll pet him!

Ok, folks…that’s a sign that I’m getting loopy(er than normal,) and it’s time to call it a night. One quick announcement. Unless I get super lazy next week, which is a distinct priority, I’m going to introduce a new feature to the Bad Deck Workshop. I’m going to be putting up a section of the site showing the “Current Gauntlet,” and then I’m going to detail how the week’s deck does under gauntlet testing measures. I’ll either be using Cockatrice, Forge, live play, or a combination of all of the above for the testing, and I’ll detail exactly how the week’s testing has gone in each column, but I’ll try to keep the procedure as uniform as possible so the results are at least somewhat comparable.

See you tomorrow for another rant about a mechanic. And when I say rant, I mean that I’m going to put some words on a page, and you can assign an emotion to them when you’re reading them in your head, and that that emotion is presumably one of a cranky old guy. For the record, assuming you’re reading this silently, and need to assign a voice to me, I have a super nasal, falsetto voice. I sound almost like a castrato. The director of the Vienna Boys Choir keeps trying to recruit me…but I just think he’s kinda creepy.

I actually shouldn't make fun...they're about a BILLION times more talented than I could ever hope to be at anything, other than being generally bad at everything. I've got them beat there.

I actually shouldn’t make fun…they’re about a BILLION times more talented than I could ever hope to be at anything, other than being generally bad at everything. I’ve got them beat there.

Ok…that last paragraph is a CLEAR sign that I’m done.