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CardShark Content - Arjune Bose (8/13/2005)

Well, Kamigawa Block is underway, with a slew of PTQ’s and a few Grand Prixes all culminating into Pro Tour: Los Angeles. If you have seen any of the recent top decklists from Grand Prix: Taipei, Grand Prix: Niigata, or from various PTQ’s since mid-July, you will see a few decks that are constantly in the top 8. These are usually Black Hand, White Weenie, Gifts Ungiven
Gifts Ungiven
Gifts UngivenSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
62
Artist:
D. Alexander Gregory
Text:
Search your library for four cards with different names and reveal them. Target opponent chooses two of those cards. Put the chosen cards into your graveyard and the rest into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
, and Mono Blue Control. There are, however, a few other decklists, which are not as common, but just as viable as well.

Recently, Gifts Ungiven
Gifts Ungiven
Gifts UngivenSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
62
Artist:
D. Alexander Gregory
Text:
Search your library for four cards with different names and reveal them. Target opponent chooses two of those cards. Put the chosen cards into your graveyard and the rest into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
has dominated the scene, for its ability to consistently beat aggro and aggro-control decks, while still keeping a good matchup against control. It is, clearly, the best deck in the format. However, it is one of the hardest decks in recent memory to play correctly. White Weenie and Black Hand used to be the most popular archetypes, but now Gifts is starting to overtake them. In the next few weeks, I predict that the number of people playing Gifts will be much greater than the number playing either White Weenie or Black Hand.

I thought, why not build a deck that could beat Gifts, but sacrifice the aggro matchups if necessary? That’s when I started looking at red’s various burn spells, most notably Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood HandSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
101
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Flames of the Blood Hand deals 4 damage to target player. The damage can't be prevented. If that player would gain life this turn, that player gains no life instead.
and Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
. Red also offered Zo-zu, the Punisher, and Ishi-Ishi Akki Crackshot, both great cards against Gifts. Red also had cards like Ghost-lit Raider ad Frostling
Frostling
FrostlingSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Frostling Frostling deals 1 damage to target creature.
, to help against the weenie rush, so I decided to build a mono red deck. Here is what I have right now, for a Gifts-heavy metagame:


21 Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.

1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked KeepSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Color:
Land
Type:
Legendary Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
282
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
T: Add R to your mana pool. R, T: Target legendary creature gains first strike until end of turn.

1 Mikoro, Center of the Sea

4 Frostling
Frostling
FrostlingSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Frostling Frostling deals 1 damage to target creature.

4 Hearth Kami
Hearth Kami
Hearth KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
171
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
X, Sacrifice Hearth Kami: Destroy target artifact with converted mana cost X.

4 Ishi-Ishi, Akki Crackshot
4 Zo-Zu, the Punisher
2 Kumano, Master Yamabushi
Kumano, Master Yamabushi
Kumano, Master YamabushiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Human Shaman
Rarity:
R
Number:
176
Artist:
Adam Rex
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
1R: Kumano, Master Yamabushi deals 1 damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage by Kumano this turn would be put into a graveyard, remove it from the game instead.


4 Manriki-Gus
Gus
GusSet: Unglued
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Gus
Rarity:
C
Number:
62
Artist:
DiTerlizzi
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Gus comes into play with one +1/+1 counter on it for each game you have lost to your opponent since you last won a Magic game against him or her.
ari

4 Lava Spike
Lava Spike
Lava SpikeSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
178
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Lava Spike deals 3 damage to target player.

4 Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)

4 Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood HandSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
101
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Flames of the Blood Hand deals 4 damage to target player. The damage can't be prevented. If that player would gain life this turn, that player gains no life instead.

3 Yamabushi’s Flame

Sideboard:
4 Ghost-lit Raider
3 Pithing Needle
Pithing Needle
Pithing NeedleSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Colorless
Rarity:
R

3 Fumiko, the Lowblood
3 First Volley
First Volley
First VolleySet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
100
Artist:
Glen Angus
Text:
First Volley deals 1 damage to target creature and 1 damage to that creature's controller.

1 Kumano, Master Yamabushi
Kumano, Master Yamabushi
Kumano, Master YamabushiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Human Shaman
Rarity:
R
Number:
176
Artist:
Adam Rex
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
1R: Kumano, Master Yamabushi deals 1 damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage by Kumano this turn would be put into a graveyard, remove it from the game instead.

1 Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.


This deck operates by the very simple object of Magic: getting your opponent’s life to zero, before he does it to you. The way you go about doing that with this deck is by using efficient spells, like Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood HandSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
101
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Flames of the Blood Hand deals 4 damage to target player. The damage can't be prevented. If that player would gain life this turn, that player gains no life instead.
, or a Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
spliced on a Lava Spike
Lava Spike
Lava SpikeSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
178
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Lava Spike deals 3 damage to target player.
for direct damage. Your creatures simply try and hold off your opponents’ creatures, if they are playing a weenie deck, or go on the offensive against a more control oriented deck. The small legends (Zo-zu and Ishi-Ishi) can also deal out direct damage to the opponent.

The card-by-card:
Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.
, Shinka: These add red to your mana pool, and give your legends first strike, if needed.

Mikokoro: This deck tends to use up a lot of your hand quickly, so refilling it is very good. Even though your opponent will draw a card, you are searching for damage to the dome, which can be fairly easy to find. Often, you will be topdecking to get the last 3 or 4 damage out to your opponent, and this card helps you immensely.

Frostling
Frostling
FrostlingSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Frostling Frostling deals 1 damage to target creature.
: He holds the fort against White Weenie for a first few turns. He also kills Sakura-Tribe Scouts and Lantern Kami
Lantern Kami
Lantern KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
32
Artist:
John Avon
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
s. Plus, he can take down a 2/2 all by himself. It becomes better with multiples, so this is a 4-of maindeck.

Hearth Kami
Hearth Kami
Hearth KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
171
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
X, Sacrifice Hearth Kami: Destroy target artifact with converted mana cost X.
: With a 2-power 2-drop who can kill opposing Umezawa’s Jittes, or any other artifact, he is sometimes a 2-for-1, who can deal around 4 damage to more control oriented decks.

Ishi-Ishi: This card is amazing in block, because a large percentage of your opponents spells are spirit or Arcane. Usually, he deals around 6 damage to Gifts before being removed, but I have seen him deal as much as 12.

Zo-Zu: This card is good versus Gifts, or any other control deck. Against an aggro-heavy metagame, however, he should be put in the sideboard. In conjunction with Ishi-Ishi, your opponents’ Kodama’s Reach will be deadly; if they decide to play it.

Kumano: If you can stabilize against aggro, and get him out, you will probably win, because he can take care of the creatures, as well as the player.

Manriki-Gus
Gus
GusSet: Unglued
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Gus
Rarity:
C
Number:
62
Artist:
DiTerlizzi
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Gus comes into play with one +1/+1 counter on it for each game you have lost to your opponent since you last won a Magic game against him or her.
ari: Although you could potentially run Umezawa’s Jitte in this spot, the Manriki benefits your creatures much more. The added toughness is great, since the majority of your creatures have 1 or 2 toughness anyway. This lets them survive Ghost-lit Raider, or a Hideous Laughter
Hideous Laughter
Hideous LaughterSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
115
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
All creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn. Splice onto Arcane 3BB (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
. You can also use the Gus
Gus
GusSet: Unglued
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Gus
Rarity:
C
Number:
62
Artist:
DiTerlizzi
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Gus comes into play with one +1/+1 counter on it for each game you have lost to your opponent since you last won a Magic game against him or her.
ari to kill an opposing Jitte.

Lava Spike
Lava Spike
Lava SpikeSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
178
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Lava Spike deals 3 damage to target player.
, Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood HandSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
101
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Flames of the Blood Hand deals 4 damage to target player. The damage can't be prevented. If that player would gain life this turn, that player gains no life instead.
, Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
, Yamabushi’s Flame: These can all give damage to the dome, and two of them can hit creatures as well. In this version of the deck, it is anti-control pre-board, but can better its aggro matchup after sideboarding.

Here are the matchups:

Gifts Ungiven
Gifts Ungiven
Gifts UngivenSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
62
Artist:
D. Alexander Gregory
Text:
Search your library for four cards with different names and reveal them. Target opponent chooses two of those cards. Put the chosen cards into your graveyard and the rest into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
: 8/10 pre-board, 15/20 post-board
This matchup is quite favorable for you, because you can deal 20 damage without a lot of disruption. Zo-Zu and Ishi-Ishi are very helpful, since they usually deal a combined 8 damage per game, if the Gifts player can’t find a Hideous Laughter
Hideous Laughter
Hideous LaughterSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
115
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
All creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn. Splice onto Arcane 3BB (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
. Even if they do, you still dealt 4 damage to them, something very vital, because of the burn you run. There isn’t realy anything great for Gifts in this sideboard, because you’ve maindecked almost all the hate anyways. The only sideboard card worth considering would be Pithing Needle
Pithing Needle
Pithing NeedleSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Colorless
Rarity:
R
, because of its ability to shut down Hana Kami
Hana Kami
Hana KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
U
Number:
211
Artist:
Rebecca Guay
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1G, Sacrifice Hana Kami: Return target Arcane card from your graveyard to your hand.
, Kagemaro, and Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sakura-Tribe ElderSet: Commander
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Snake Shaman
Rarity:
C
Number:
169
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Sakura-Tribe Elder: Search your library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
.

White Weenie: 3/10 pre-board, 9/20 post-board
This matchup is very difficult for you, because in order to win, you need to survive two waves of creatures, and have some burn left over for the win. The biggest problem is Shining Shoal
Shining Shoal
Shining ShoalSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
R
Number:
21
Artist:
Ben Thompson
Text:
You may remove a white card with converted mana cost X in your hand from the game rather than pay Shining Shoal's mana cost. The next X damage that a source of your choice would deal to you or a creature you control this turn is dealt to target creature or player instead.
, but red does have ways to deal with it (Sideswipe
Sideswipe
SideswipeSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
187
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
You may change any targets of target Arcane spell.
). For this matchup, you have to sideboard everything in, except the Pithing Needle
Pithing Needle
Pithing NeedleSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Colorless
Rarity:
R
s, and the lone Kumano. You take out the Zo-zus, Ishi-Ishis, the Kumanos, and a Lava Spike
Lava Spike
Lava SpikeSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
178
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Lava Spike deals 3 damage to target player.
. Fumiko is amazing in this matchup, because she kills a grounded creature every turn. She becomes even better with Shinka. First Volley
First Volley
First VolleySet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
100
Artist:
Glen Angus
Text:
First Volley deals 1 damage to target creature and 1 damage to that creature's controller.
is surprisingly good, because if you can splice a Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
, it takes out Celestial Kirin
Celestial Kirin
Celestial KirinSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Kirin Spirit
Rarity:
R
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, destroy all permanents with that spell's converted mana cost.
. With a Frostling
Frostling
FrostlingSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Frostling Frostling deals 1 damage to target creature.
, you can also take out a Hand of Honor
Hand of Honor
Hand of HonorSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Samurai
Rarity:
U
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Protection from black Bushido 1 (When this blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)
or Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Samurai of the Pale CurtainSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Fox Samurai
Rarity:
U
Number:
43
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Bushido 1 (When this blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.) If a permanent would be put into a graveyard, remove it from the game instead.
, as well. Ghost-lit Raider is also good, because he is a constant source of damage for the creatures. In his channeled form, he also gets rid of an 8.5 Tails. However, I must stress that this matchup becomes a coin flip at best, even with your sideboard.

Black Hand: 4/10 pre-board, 13/20 post-board
This matchup isn’t as bad, but can still be very difficult, because of the number of creatures you have to deal with. It is slower than White Weenie, but you still need to stop an assault of creatures before you can even think of waiting. Sideboard in cards similar to White Weenie, but instead of Fumiko, take the Kumano and the Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.
. Side out Ishi-Ishi, Zo-zu, and a Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood Hand
Flames of the Blood HandSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
101
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Flames of the Blood Hand deals 4 damage to target player. The damage can't be prevented. If that player would gain life this turn, that player gains no life instead.
. Kumano is important, because anything he hits will not make it to the graveyard. The other picks should be self-explanatory.

I have not tested extensively against Mono-blue Control, but the results so far have been quite favorable for mono red. This deck can become very good if Gifts beomes incredibly dominant in Block. As a comparison, this could be the Freshmaker to Gifts’ Ravager. However, in an aggro-heavy environment, I would suggest you not play this deck, because the burn to creatures in Kamigawa is pretty weak compared to other blocks. However, the burn to the dome is great. Remember, in a control heavy environment, play this. In an aggro-heavy environment, play control.


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