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CardShark Content - Brian Baker (6/25/2005)

As a quick aside to those who have read my articles before, I apologize for making my appearances a semi-annual event. Recent major events in my life outside of Magic have taken up a great deal of my time, but I intend to make regular contributions for your reading pleasure now that I am situated and stable. Without further ado, we move on to our regularly scheduled program.

With the release of Saviors, we are finally able to examine the Kamigawa block as a complete and viable format. Within the next few months, it will become the format of choice for PTQs and other DCI sanctioned tournaments. Without the presence of a single dominating decktype (such as Mirrodin block’s Affinity, Onslaught
Onslaught
OnslaughtSet: Exodus
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
92
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Whenever you successfully cast a creature spell, tap target creature.
’s Goblins, or Odyssey’s Psychatog
Psychatog
PsychatogSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
U
Number:
292
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
), there is a great deal of speculation as to what decks will dominate. I intend to examine several of these types over the coming weeks in order to get a broad view of the block’s metagame options, beginning here with a classic archetype.

Land Destruction, or LD, has always played a disputed role in the history of Magic’s model decks. Casual players, with a few exceptions, tend to avoid it for the potentially un-fun (read: boring, drawn out) games it can create. Mana denial is generally considered hitting below the belt and usually serves no purpose other than dragging out the game. Tournament players occasionally dabble in LD, but without a solid win condition the decks do not typically hold up against more aggressive strategies. Despite these obstacles, LD is a decktype that Wizards continues to support if not outright push. The slower speed of Kamigawa block allows for interesting possibilities.

Of course, it always helps when an expansion features a reprint of a decktype’s staple card. I feel absolutely positive that any LD deck based in red should run Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.
, and I’d be very surprised if anyone seriously disagreed with me on this point.

4:Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.


At this point we come to an important crossroads. While it’s a safe bet that a Kamigawa block LD deck will run red, the secondary color is still undecided. The two main options here are Red-Green and Red-Black. RG may be what we consider a more traditional or standard build of the deck. Green particularly allows for more mana acceleration to fully take advantage of the opponent’s weakened base while also adding Feast of Worms
Feast of Worms
Feast of WormsSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
207
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
Destroy target land. If that land is legendary, its controller sacrifices another land.
and Uproot
Uproot
UprootSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
149
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
Put target land on top of its owner's library.
. It is also worth mentioning that both of these cards are Arcane, which opens up yet more possibilities and interactions (Ore Gorger
Ore Gorger
Ore GorgerSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
U
Number:
182
Artist:
rk post
Power:
3
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may destroy target nonbasic land.
being a primary suspect).

RB, by contrast, is a full-on assault against your opponent’s resources. With the exception of enchantments, this color combination can effectively destroy any permanent and even deplete your opponent’s hand. The misers of Saviors are interesting additions to this last form of denial; while they won’t do much on their own, they apply further pressure as your landless foe’s hand retains cards they can’t play.

Perhaps I’m simply a sucker for the furry little guys, but for the purposes of this article we’re going to go RB. Feel free to take any inspiration you can use from the short section on RG Land Destruction if that’s the path you choose to take. To be honest, it’s the Mise
Mise
MiseSet: Unhinged
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
38
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Text:
Name a nonland card, then reveal the top card of your library. If that card is the named card, draw three cards.
rs’ potential for a soft lock that really inspired me to examine LD in the first place. The reprint of Armageddon
Armageddon
ArmageddonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
All lands in play are destroyed.
in red most certainly helps. Before we get into the rest of the deck, let’s finish filling out the LD base spells (and throw in the rats for good measure).

4:Sunder
Sunder
SunderSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
101
Artist:
Stephen Daniele
Text:
Return all lands to owners' hands.
IGZyb20gV2l0aGlu
4:Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of RuinSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Text:
Each player sacrifices a land for each card in your hand.

4:Gnat Miser
Gnat Miser
Gnat MiserSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Rat Shaman
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Each opponent's maximum hand size is reduced by one.

3:Locust Miser
Locust Miser
Locust MiserSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Rat Shaman
Rarity:
U
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Each opponent's maximum hand size is reduced by two.


I like having 12 LD spells for this deck. While more land destruction is usually optimal as it ensures that every land laid by the opponent gets nuked, excessive LD does nothing but sit in your hand unused once the deck gets rolling. The massive power of Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of RuinSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Text:
Each player sacrifices a land for each card in your hand.
completely offsets any problem that might arise from having smaller amounts of LD.

While killing off lands, it’s important to neutralize any threats the opponent manages to put down with their limited mana supply. As long as the land destruction keeps coming, these threats should be limited to low-cost creatures.

4:Kagemaro’s Clutch
2: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.)

2: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.)


The clutch is an interesting take on creature destruction in that it takes the form of an enchantment. In this way it can either outright kill a creature (no restrictions on Spirit
Spirit
SpiritSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
, non-Spirit
Spirit
SpiritSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
, or nonblack here) or severely limit the usefulness of a larger creature. Laughter is a dangerous spell in this deck, as it tends to kill your rats in large numbers, but its sheer power and ability to deal with untargetable creatures and/or weenie hordes alike makes it a must-have. 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.)
should need no explanation at this point, even with a slightly lower Arcane count.

So, we’ve killed off our opponent’s land, limited their hand size options, and decimated the ranks of their creature base. At this point not killing them quickly would be cruel and unusual torture, so it’s time to add some muscle to the deck.

2:Kokusho, the Evening Star
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Kokusho, the Evening StarSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
122
Artist:
Tsutomu Kawade
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying When Kokusho, the Evening Star is put into a graveyard from play, each opponent loses 5 life. You gain life equal to the life lost this way.

2:Kagemaro, First to Suffer
Kagemaro, First to Suffer
Kagemaro, First to SufferSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Demon Spirit
Rarity:
R
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Kagemaro, First to Suffer's power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in your hand. B, Sacrifice Kagemaro: All creatures get -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of cards in your hand.

2:Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
2:Adamaro, First to Desire
Adamaro, First to Desire
Adamaro, First to DesireSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
R
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Adamaro, First to Desire's power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in the hand of the opponent with the most cards in hand.


Kokusho goes in just about any deck that likes big fliers, big life-swinging effects, or black cards. Kagemaro is the new kid on the block, but the potential for Maro
Maro
MaroSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
241
Artist:
Stuart Griffin
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Maro's power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in your hand.
-based beatings combined with Mutilate
Mutilate
MutilateSet: Torment
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
73
Text:
All creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn for each swamp you control.
is sweet indeed. Kagemaro and Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of RuinSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Text:
Each player sacrifices a land for each card in your hand.
with another big creature under your control will usually spell doom for the opponent. Ink-Eyes is a fun card for me; I’m generally more attracted to the potentially more interesting Ashen Powder
Ashen Powder
Ashen PowderSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
112
Artist:
Geofrey Darrow
Text:
Put target creature card from one of your opponents' graveyards into play under your control.
than Zombify
Zombify
ZombifySet: Odyssey
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
171
Artist:
Mark Romanoski
Text:
Return target creature card from your graveyard to play.
, and the smack to the face is quite rewarding as well. Adamaro might seem like an odd choice for the deck, given the inclusion of the Mise
Mise
MiseSet: Unhinged
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
38
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Text:
Name a nonland card, then reveal the top card of your library. If that card is the named card, draw three cards.
rs. I’ll admit to the redundancy of the two together, but I’d wage that your opponent’s hand won’t drop down past 3 anyway. If they drop more cards in order to kill him, it only works to your benefit anyway.

It’s time for another controversial choice. This one is more or less up to you (and, realistically, your wallet).

3:Pithing Needle
Pithing Needle
Pithing NeedleSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Colorless
Rarity:
R

or
3:Desperate Ritual
Desperate Ritual
Desperate RitualSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
163
Artist:
Darrell Riche
Text:
Add RRR to your mana pool. 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.)


First, for the Ritual: red LD decks love (really, really, really love) getting to 3 mana faster. There is no Chrome Mox
Chrome Mox
Chrome MoxSet: Mirrodin
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
152
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Imprint - When Chrome Mox comes into play, you may remove a nonartifact, nonland card in your hand from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) T: Add one mana of any of the imprinted card's colors to your mana pool.
in Kamigawa, and the potential for splice with Ray is pretty nice indeed. With that being said, I’d flat out be a fool for not listing the Needle as an option. Most decks would like to have a Needle or two in the sideboard, but as much as LD loves having extra mana, it hates the opponent fetching lands even more. The card you will name if you have Needle in opening hand is named Sakura Tribe Elder
Sakura Tribe Elder
Sakura Tribe ElderSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Snake Shaman
Rarity:
C
Number:
239
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Sakura-Tribe Elder: Search your library for a basic land card, put that card into play tapped, then shuffle your library.
. You may have met him; he’s your best friend in a lot of decks, but to this one he’s the devil incarnate. Laying down a Needle set to Elder when your opponent kept a 2-land hand with the snake is like giving a cobra to Indiana Jones for Christmas; it bites (for them).

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

10:Swamp
Swamp
SwampSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add B to your mana pool.

2:Lantern-Lit Graveyard

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to land. You won’t find Shinka Keep or Forbid
Forbid
ForbidSet: Exodus
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
35
Artist:
Scott Kirschner
Text:
Buyback Choose and discard two cards. (You may choose and discard two cards in addition to any other costs when you play this spell. If you do, put Forbid into your hand instead of your graveyard as part of the spell's effect.) Counter target spell.
ZGVuIE9yY2hhcmQ= in this deck, simply because I don’t think that they would help. Feel free to express yourself with your land, if you want.

Thanks for reading thus far, and I hope that you’ve found this article informative. Hopefully you’ve gained a little insight or inspiration within the Kamigawa block, and even if you never Rain destruction upon an opponent’s lands you’ll still walk away thinking creatively. Join me next time (in a few weeks rather than months, hopefully) as I continue to look at the block’s multitude of decktypes. Here’s the complete deck, in summary form, with Pithing Needle
Pithing Needle
Pithing NeedleSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Colorless
Rarity:
R
chosen over Desperate Ritual
Desperate Ritual
Desperate RitualSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
163
Artist:
Darrell Riche
Text:
Add RRR to your mana pool. 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.)
.

What Land? (60 cards Kamigawa Block Constructed)

Red (16):
2:Adamaro
4:Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.

4:Sunder
Sunder
SunderSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
101
Artist:
Stephen Daniele
Text:
Return all lands to owners' hands.
IGZyb20gV2l0aGlu
4:Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of RuinSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Text:
Each player sacrifices a land for each card in your hand.

2: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.)


Black (19):
4:Gnat Miser
Gnat Miser
Gnat MiserSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Rat Shaman
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Each opponent's maximum hand size is reduced by one.

3:Locust Miser
Locust Miser
Locust MiserSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Rat Shaman
Rarity:
U
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Each opponent's maximum hand size is reduced by two.

2:Kokusho, the Evening Star
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Kokusho, the Evening StarSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
122
Artist:
Tsutomu Kawade
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying When Kokusho, the Evening Star is put into a graveyard from play, each opponent loses 5 life. You gain life equal to the life lost this way.

2:Kagemaro, First to Suffer
Kagemaro, First to Suffer
Kagemaro, First to SufferSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Demon Spirit
Rarity:
R
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Kagemaro, First to Suffer's power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in your hand. B, Sacrifice Kagemaro: All creatures get -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of cards in your hand.

2:Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
4:Kagemaro’s Clutch
2: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.)


Artifact (3):
3:Pithing Needle
Pithing Needle
Pithing NeedleSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Color:
Colorless
Rarity:
R


Land (22):
10:Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.

10:Swamp
Swamp
SwampSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add B to your mana pool.

2:Lantern-Lit Graveyard


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