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CardShark Content - Alec Greenberg (5/23/2004)

The meta game’s current state consists of a few decks that the pro’s consider “up to par.” I’ll name them for you: Ravager Affinity, Goblin Bidding, U/W Control, Twelve Post variants, Astral Slide
Astral Slide
Astral SlideSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
4
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Whenever a player cycles a card, you may remove target creature from the game. If you do, return that creature to play under its owner's control at end of turn.
, and lord only knows what Fifth Dawn will do to the format. Basically, all else is considered “rogue.” True, these five may be quite good, but there are many of us that want something different. We want a bit of variety. Right now, about 8 out of 12 decks in a tournament are Ravager Affinity decks. This is simply bad for the game. The game of Magic thrives from all players: casual AND hard-core. At the moment, casual players hesitate to attend tournaments where Ravagers run amuck. I have a relatively cheap solution to this problem. If interested, read on...

Mono-colored decks are the sleeping giant of the format. Really, there are few who play a good ol’ one color deck anymore. It’s inconceivable. Everyone is too busy swooning over the “almighty” Arcbound Ravager
Arcbound Ravager
Arcbound RavagerSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
100
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
0
Toughness:
0
Text:
Sacrifice an artifact: Put a +1/+1 counter on Arcbound Ravager. Modular 1 (This comes into play with a +1/+1 counter on it. When it's put into a graveyard, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature.)
. Let me tell you, if many more people played mono-colored decks right now, they could beat over half of the format, which is (surprise!) Ravager decks. Hosing 60% of the format is an awfully good start, isn’t it? Mono-color decks are ideal to the casual player for two major reasons: there is no such thing as complex mana-bases (unless you really want a deck that is completely and utterly strong in each aspect of the game), and your strategy will be simple and effective. Let’s take time to analyze the first element of a mono-colored deck: The Manabase.

These are the color plots of “the big five.”
U/W control- uh… U/W
12 Post- G/W or G/R or G/W/R
Goblin Bidding- B/R
Astral Slide
Astral Slide
Astral SlideSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
4
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Whenever a player cycles a card, you may remove target creature from the game. If you do, return that creature to play under its owner's control at end of turn.
- W/R
Ravager Affinity- Rainbow (colors vary)

To point out the obvious, all of these decks use two (or more) colors! Now let me enforce something for those of you who don’t play these decks: 2 colored decks have expensive manabases!! For example, my G/W/R 12 post’s manabase:
4 cloudpost ($2.00)
2 wooded foothills ($16.00)
2 windswept heath ($8.00)
4 city of brass ($24.00)
3 plains
3 mountain
10 forest
Total Balance
Balance
BalanceSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Whichever player has more lands in play must discard enough lands of his or her choice to equalize the number of lands both players have in play. Next, equalize the cards in hand and then creatures in play the same way. Creatures lost in this manner are considered buried.
: $50.00

For those of you who can’t afford to spend $50.00 on 26 land, mono-color is the way to go. If playing mono-red in the current format, all you essentially need is 20 or 22 mountain. Of course, you could throw in bloodstained mire and wooded foothills for deck-thinning, but ultimately, that won’t even matter if you’re playing something like sligh. This simplification of mana can help when you need to buy gems that will improve your game strategy, instead of smoothing out mana issues. Mono-colored decks provide the same winning strategies, but at half the price of the decks people are playing right now. The simplest decks can also be the greatest. Now, it’s time to explain which colors are the best mono-colors and why. I will also drop a few pointers here and there about how these decks counteract “the big five.”

On that note, lets have a look at probably the most successful mono-color: red. When you think about it, red has always been single-minded and effective. Hit the enemy fast and hard, don’t hold back. This is why many red creatures have savage attack power and weak defense. And this is why red is the most powerful mono-color. Because other colors distract its main focus: killing the opponent. Adding new elements usually just complicates a color that just wants to attack. With that, I present a great deck for the format.

Haste.Deq
Creatures
4 blistering firecat
4 slith firewalker
4 viashino sandstalker
4 raging goblin
2 lava hounds
1 rorix bladewing

Spells
4 volcanic hammer
4 shrapnel blast
4 pyrite spellbomb
4 pulse of the forge
1 hammer of bogardan

Land
20 mountain
4 great furnace

This deck is blisteringly (haha) fast. U/W control stands no chance, and simply rolls over against it. Blistering Firecat
Blistering Firecat
Blistering FirecatSet: Onslaught
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat
Rarity:
R
Number:
189
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
7
Toughness:
1
Text:
Trample, haste. At end of turn, sacrifice Blistering Firecat.. Morph RR (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face. up any time for its morph cost.)
and Viashino Sandstalker
Viashino Sandstalker
Viashino SandstalkerSet: Visions
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Viashino
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Andrew Robinson
Power:
4
Toughness:
2
Text:
Viashino Sandstalker is unaffected by summoning sickness.At the end of any turn, return Viashino Sandstalker to owner's hand.
are immune to WoG and similar effects, and basically, too much damage racks up for U/W to muster a come-back. I also believe Ravagers will die to the excessive amount of burn before becoming a threat, if not, chump block or kill w/ pulse. Twelve-post is way too slow. (I should know, I play it.) It will try to abuse delay tactics which will never work once the flow gets going for this deck. The same goes for any other similar deck (Astral Slide
Astral Slide
Astral SlideSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
4
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Whenever a player cycles a card, you may remove target creature from the game. If you do, return that creature to play under its owner's control at end of turn.
). Goblin Bidding is a bit troubling, but- if you sideboard well enough (sideboarding is up to you), the match should end in your favor. Of course, there are other options out there for mono-red decks, perhaps straightforward goblins or burn, but in the big five metagame, you’ll most likely find this a more consistent option.

The next best mono-color powerhouse is black. It has always been a color that worked best solo. Even in the younger days of Magic, black was a one color control freak with decks like Necropotence
Necropotence
NecropotenceSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Skip your draw phase.Whenever you discard a card, remove that card from the game.Pay 1 life: Set aside the top card of your library. Put that card into your hand at the beginning of your discard phase.
, suicide black, and discard. Black first wants to devastate the opponent and then go for the kill, at any cost. This is represented by additional cost of life in black spells (ex. Necropotence
Necropotence
NecropotenceSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Skip your draw phase.Whenever you discard a card, remove that card from the game.Pay 1 life: Set aside the top card of your library. Put that card into your hand at the beginning of your discard phase.
). In the long run, black usually confuses its goals with other colors goals, and all is chaos. For example, it is usually not a good idea to pair black with green. Green tries to use its brawn to wrestle the opponent out of the game, generating loads of mana to do so. Black is more the type of color that focuses on the opponent’s weak point (maybe they are tapped out, creatureless etc.) to take total control, which is why black has so many life draining, creature-killing cards (ex. Bane of the Living
Bane of the Living
Bane of the LivingSet: Legions
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Insect
Rarity:
R
Number:
60
Power:
4
Toughness:
3
Text:
Morph XBB (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.) When Bane of the Living is turned face up, all creatures get -X/-X until end of turn.
, Decree of Pain
Decree of Pain
Decree of PainSet: Scourge
Cost:
8
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
64
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated. Draw a card for each creature destroyed this way.
Cycling 3BB
When you cycle Decree of Pain, all creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn.
). If these two have been mashed into one deck, the resulting fireworks won’t be too pretty. This proves that black is a loner type of color. So, building a black deck is easy. Find good, devastating cards that collaborate well together, and fabricate a strategy around them. Without further ado, I present:

Zombie.Deq
Creatures
4 rotlung reanimator
4 withered wretch
4 cabal archon
4 gempalm polluter
4 dark supplicant
4 festering goblin
2 scion of darkness

Spells
4 oversold cemetary
4 death cloud
2 patriarch's bidding

Land
20 swamp
2 barren moor
2 unholy grotto

This deck is extremely good, and has an equal shot at beating any of “the big five.” The goal is to get out lots of zombies (hence, eight one drops) and pile on the pressure. If the opponent tries to be clever, you can pull big stunts with the numerous abilities of these zombies. Just in case, I’ve provided a little reanimation sub-strategy. Another huge advantage: many tournament goers should be baffled when it comes to sideboarding. Artifact hate is futile, and with a finely tuned sideboard of its own, this deck should be able to contend with the best of them. If you think it is too expensive, e-mail me for a budget version.

Well, I don’t want to drone on with all five colors at the moment, so you all have something to look forward to: a follow-up article for the remaining three colors (*fans cheering*)!! If the decks provided just don’t satisfy you, or you have another point to make, just email me, I’m open to suggestions.


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