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CardShark Content - Michael Colin W. (3/7/2002)

So before I start rambling you'd probably like to know who the heck I am...fair enough. I'm a 22-year-old university student (Majoring in History/Sociology) and I've been playing Magic since Revised/The Dark though I never took the game that seriously until the last couple of years. Sure, I played in Extended when the season rolled around because I missed 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.
but that was usually the extent of my tourney play...I hated Type II because keeping up with the card pool was a pain while I could always count on the power of the Skull when 1.X rolled around. Well, until Trix that is. Necro got banned and my rampant enthusiasm for the more classic format waned a little. Stasis
Stasis
StasisSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Fay Jones
Text:
Players do not get an untap phase. Pay U during your upkeep or Stasis is destroyed; cards still do not untap until the next untap phase.
is fun but drawing 5 cards and ripping your opponent's hand up is so much better. Anyway, While Type II was 6th/MM/IN I decided to give it a whirl for once and played a U/B control deck that used Evil Eyes for the kill. Not bad, not bad at all. I started to appreciate the limited card pool of Type II more and have since come back to playing it on a fairly religious basis on Friday Night. I don't claim to be an expert but I play the game every week, talk about it with people on a regular basis and also continually try to come up with new decks...some of the stuff works and some of it doesn't but all of it has potential. So anyway, on with the show...

Metagame this, Metagame that. I don't know about the rest of you guys but trying to metagame the current Type II environment has begun to seem like an exercise in futility to me. Up until Torment
Torment
TormentSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
23
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Enchanted creature gets -3/-0.
Type II had managed to stagnate into a nice predictable little circle of decks...

First you had Tog (the variants only running Tog for kill were the best of the old crop IMO) which was far and away the most popular deck. It was cheap to build other than the Undermine
Undermine
UndermineSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
282
Artist:
Massimilano Frezzato
Text:
Counter target spell. Its controller loses 3 life.
s and damnably effective. Going to play a Standard tourney you could rest assured that Tog was going to be the win condition for at least half the decks being played which actually made life easier; much like Extended was easy to SB when Tinker
Tinker
TinkerSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
45
Artist:
Mike Raabe
Text:
At the time you play Tinker, sacrifice an artifact.Search your library for an artifact card and put that artifact into play. Shuffle your library afterward.
was flying with the Mana Vault
Mana Vault
Mana VaultSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
T: Add 3 colorless mana to your mana pool. Mana Vault doesn't untap normally during untap phase; to untap it, you must pay 4 mana during your upkeep. If Mana Vault remains tapped during upkeep it does 1 damage to you. Drawing mana from this artifact is played as an interrupt.
. In the Tinker
Tinker
TinkerSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
45
Artist:
Mike Raabe
Text:
At the time you play Tinker, sacrifice an artifact.Search your library for an artifact card and put that artifact into play. Shuffle your library afterward.
example all you had to do was SB in some Null Rod
Null Rod
Null RodSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Text:
Players cannot play any artifact abilities requiring an activation cost.
s and pray you drew them for the second and third set. Tog was much the same, all you had to do was reach for the Yavimaya Barbarian
Yavimaya Barbarian
Yavimaya BarbarianSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Barbarian Elf
Rarity:
C
Number:
290
Artist:
Don Hazeltine
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Protection from blue
s and/or Pit Trap
Pit Trap
Pit TrapSet: Ice Age
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Text:
2, T: Sacrifice Pit Trap to bury target creature without flying that is attacking you.
s, pray you drew them and everything would likely be decent if they resolved. News flash for the rest of the writers...Tog is dead as dead can be. Yes, some people *are* still playing it but please don't go to regionals thinking that being able to beat Tog will mean anything after the first two rounds! Innocent Blood
Innocent Blood
Innocent BloodSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
145
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Each player sacrifices a creature.
, Chainer's Edict
Chainer's Edict
Chainer's EdictSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Text:
Target player sacrifices a creature. Flashback 5BB
, 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.
, Violent Eruption
Violent Eruption
Violent EruptionSet: Torment
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
117
Text:
Violent Eruption deals 4 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players. Madness 1RR
, RmllcnkgTemper
Temper
TemperSet: Stronghold
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
120
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
Prevent up to X damage to target creature. For each 1 damage prevented in this way, put a +1/+1 counter on that creature.
...there's just way too much hate for Togs to live for long these days. *Maybe* someone can revolutionize this deck by adding enough extra creatures (and Yawgmoth's Agenda
Yawgmoth's Agenda
Yawgmoth's AgendaSet: Invasion
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
135
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Play no more than one spell each turn.You may play cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand.If a card would be put into your graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead.
to replay them since they *will* be killed the first time they hit the board, more on the Agenda in a bit) to make it viable again but I'm certainly not holding my breath. So please, please, please stop mentioning this deck...it *is not* a factor anymore as anything but a random.

Next deck please...

Togs chief rival was the U/W/g Enforcer deck which basically had the same style of play as Tog...counter, bounce, lay one of your four hard to kill fatties and go to town. It was good for the same reason Tog was, it was a great deck *against* Tog because the Enforcer was nigh unkillable but now the deck is dead for the same reasons as Tog is. Pro-black isn't too hot when your opponent can cast 12 non-targeted removal spells and flashback 4 of them if need be...next....

Balancing Act
Balancing Act
Balancing ActSet: Odyssey
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
10
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Each player chooses a number of permanents he or she controls equal to the number of permanents controlled by the player who controls the fewest, then sacrifices the rest. Each player discards cards from his or her hand the same way.
...what a bloody brilliant card to use in a slow as hell metagame! Cast a few uncounterable spells, blow up the world, lay a fatty and smash face, right? Wrong. Tings *was* a good deck when the metagame was dominated by Tog and Enforcer variants...it was slow but so were the other ´´good´´ decks so that usually didn't come into play. Why is this deck dead?

Enter Torment
Torment
TormentSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
23
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Enchanted creature gets -3/-0.
. Speed is back, efficiency is back, R/G and B/x are powerhouses again. This is a set that looks on paper to be a lot like Visions
Visions
VisionsSet: Fourth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
NéNé Thomas
Text:
Look at the top five cards of any library. You may then shuffle that library.
as it's the second set in a block which is full of efficient and useful cards that *aren't* broken...just very playable. Visions
Visions
VisionsSet: Fourth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
NéNé Thomas
Text:
Look at the top five cards of any library. You may then shuffle that library.
had tasty little treats like Impulse
Impulse
ImpulseSet: Visions
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Bryan Talbot
Text:
Look at the top four cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library. Shuffle your library afterwards.
, Creeping Mold
Creeping Mold
Creeping MoldSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
220
Artist:
David Seeley
Text:
Destroy target artifact, land, or enchantment.
, Nekrataal
Nekrataal
NekrataalSet: Visions
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nekrataal
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Adrian Smith
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
First strike When Nekrataal comes into play, bury target nonartifact, nonblack creature.
while Torment
Torment
TormentSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
23
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Enchanted creature gets -3/-0.
has Chainer's Edict
Chainer's Edict
Chainer's EdictSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Text:
Target player sacrifices a creature. Flashback 5BB
, Violent Eruption
Violent Eruption
Violent EruptionSet: Torment
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
117
Text:
Violent Eruption deals 4 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players. Madness 1RR
and Basking Rootwalla
Basking Rootwalla
Basking RootwallaSet: Torment
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Lizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
121
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1G: Basking Rootwalla gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Play this ability only once each turn. Madness 0
. No one is saying that any of these cards are outright broken but they all fit into their own niche and shift the metagame significantly. Torment
Torment
TormentSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
23
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Enchanted creature gets -3/-0.
is for the most part (Plagiarize
Plagiarize
PlagiarizeSet: Torment
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
44
Artist:
Ben Thompson
Text:
Until end of turn, if target player would draw a card, instead that player skips that draw and you draw a card.
?) devoid of bomb rares but more than makes up for it by giving Type II a boatload of cheap spells that make speedy decks more than playable again, it's made them outright dominant. So what does this mean? It means you should be able to forget the 3 archetypes above...yes, some kids who still have the cards and refuse to stop playing the decks will trot them out from time to time but they won't last past the first round or two and won't be worthy of SB slots.

The problem is that you can't *completely* forget the older decks because they *will* still exist and cause minor havoc in the early rounds of Regionals by wrecking decks that are metagamed to beat the more recent creations. Thus, the previously stagnant metagame has now been shot...the previous contenders aren't what they used to be but will likely be around in large enough numbers to throw a wrench into the creation of a real ´´Metagame Deck´´ like Zvi's ´´Solution´´ deck from last year. The near random field will make regionals much tougher to read and SB for, and will therefore favor the players who can either extensively tweak an existing deck type to make it solid against both creature heavy and creatureless decks or those who can come up with entirely new decks which can either MB or SB answers for what promises to be a very wide open field. But enough about the old stuff, here's some of the new threats to watch out for....

R/G: From Schneider's ´´Frog in a Blender´´ build to the Regional winning ´´fatty´´ versions that use the new burn with stand-bys like Call and Beast Attack
Beast Attack
Beast AttackSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
230
Artist:
Ciruelo
Text:
Put a 4/4 green Beast creature token into play. Flashback 2GGG (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
, R/G has established itself as a big player again in Standard and has the tools to crush control given a decent draw. At regionals I'd expect to see a lot of the heavier fat versions though Friday Nights will likely be home to more of the straight Frog lists based on cost of the deck alone. R/G is everything *but* cheap to build with Calls and Rages costing more than anything currently legal in Extended...who said 1.X cost a lot to play?

Playing against these decks is brutal with a capital B. Early beats nibble away at your life total before burn finishes you off. So what's the answer? Are there any? In my U/W Millstone
Millstone
MillstoneSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
2, T: Take the top two cards from target player's library and put them in target player's graveyard.
build I use Juntu Stakes
Juntu Stakes
Juntu StakesSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
304
Artist:
Mark Brill
Text:
Creatures with power 1 or less don't untap during their controllers' untap steps.
and COP Red to balance the field after sideboarding. Most people have completely forgotten the Stakes since Masques (and the Rebels) rotated out but look at it again folks, about half the creatures in the Frog version of R/G are locked down by this card...Rootwalla
Rootwalla
RootwallaSet: Tempest
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Lizard
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Roger Raupp
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
1G: Rootwalla gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Use this ability only once each turn.
, Raging Gobbo and the extremely annoying Lavamancer. COP Red just finishes the job by making all the burn except Rage completely useless for anything but creature removal (and my deck doesn't run critters :-) and effectively makes their number of potential threats very small. Aegis of Honor
Aegis of Honor
Aegis of HonorSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
1
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
1: The next time an instant or sorcery spell would deal damage to you this turn, that spell deals that damage to its controller instead.
is also a somewhat janky but possible SB card to deal with the burn of both R/G and the Black decks which I'll be talking about in a moment. In general I think the heavier fat versions are better simply because they'll rip Frog up with superior creatures and give Black fits with their Flash
Flash
FlashSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
67
Artist:
David Ho
Text:
Put a creature card from your hand into play. You may pay its mana cost reduced by up to 2. If you don't, sacrifice it.
back spells but you still have to respect Frog for it's speed factor; against most decks it'll be out the gate and going for the throat before you have much of a chance to respond. Because of the *threat* of it's speed the metagame will shift. The chance of having to face it will result in people either augmenting their decks or scrapping concepts outright that are too slow to handle the aggressive rush that the fast Frog version is capable of, and it will keep concepts like the Twilight's Call
Twilight's Call
Twilight's CallSet: Invasion
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
130
Artist:
Mark Romanoski
Text:
You may play Twilight's Call any time you could play an instant if you pay 2 more to play it.Each player returns all creature cards from his or her graveyard to play.
Combo deck from being viable in the current field. If or when Frog actually fades and the heavier version takes over slower decks like the Twilight Combo *might* become dangerous but until that point I wouldn't look for them to be doing much of anything.

As for that whole what to do about their Urza's Rage
Urza's Rage
Urza's RageSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
178
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
Kicker 8R (You may pay an additional 8R as you play this spell.)Urza's Rage can't be countered by spells or abilities.Urza's Rage deals 3 damage to target creature or player. If you paid the kicker cost, instead Urza's Rage deals 10 damage to that creature or player and the damage can't be prevented.
issue...well, there's not much you can do about it other than:

A) Keep their land count down (Via Braids/Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.
/Etc.)

B) Divert
Divert
DivertSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
82
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Text:
Change the target of target spell with a single target unless that spell's controller pays 2.
or Deflect it (Divert
Divert
DivertSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
82
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Text:
Change the target of target spell with a single target unless that spell's controller pays 2.
usually preferred though I've found Deflection
Deflection
DeflectionSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mike Raabe
Text:
Target spell with a single target now targets a new legal target of your choice.
isn't a bad alternative and can't be played around)

C) Cast Equal Treatment
Equal Treatment
Equal TreatmentSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
4
Artist:
Greg & Tim Hildebrandt
Text:
If any source would deal 1 or more damage to a creature or player this turn, it deals 2 damage to that creature or player instead. Draw a card.
and only take a Shock
Shock
ShockSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
206
Artist:
Randy Gallegos
Text:
Shock deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
for their 12 mana investment, then draw a card (always good for a laugh) or

D) Gain a bunch of life to make Rage worthless.

D *seems* like a silly option because Life Gain sucks...we all know that, right? Well, sort of. In the pre-Torment
Torment
TormentSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
23
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Enchanted creature gets -3/-0.
Type II my friend Mike G. was playing a U/W Millstone
Millstone
MillstoneSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
2, T: Take the top two cards from target player's library and put them in target player's graveyard.
deck similar to what I'm using now but he used heavy amounts of life gain in lieu of extra card drawing. ´´Stupid, stupid, stupid´´ I thought at the time because matches were so slow anyway. Now though, I think life gain *can* be a viable option for a control deck against the heavy burn decks that exist. I still don't like Life Burst
Life Burst
Life BurstSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
30
Artist:
John Avon
Text:
Target player gains 4 life, then gains 4 life for each Life Burst card in each graveyard.
because it doesn't net you very much life in one go and eats up too many mainboard slots but Ancestral Tribute
Ancestral Tribute
Ancestral TributeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
7
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
2
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Text:
You gain 2 life for each card in your graveyard. Flashback 9WWW (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
*is* playable. Stop laughing. Hear me out...please? :-) Yes, I *am* aware of the fact that it costs 7 mana and that it's a sorcery to boot. The point is that the decks that could run the card are going to be Heavy Control which is going to be able to hold down the fort for at least a good twenty turns before finally succumbing to a top decked 12th land and/or Rage. By late game your opponent is living off the top of the deck and you've got answers for most anything they actually cast, thus, tapping out to gain 20+ life *is not* a bad deal and actually can lead to scoop phase for the burn deck pretty rapidly. I would never play more than 2 for obvious reasons but I *do* think the card *is playable* as long as the environment remains burn heavy. It single-handedly nullifies countless spells and creatures they're already cast against you, and *then*, for a little extra salt in the wound, it flashes back, putting them even further in the dust.

Black is also back in a big way. Mono variants are viable again with Innocent Blood
Innocent Blood
Innocent BloodSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
145
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Each player sacrifices a creature.
, Chainer's Edict
Chainer's Edict
Chainer's EdictSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Text:
Target player sacrifices a creature. Flashback 5BB
and 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.
forming a nice backbone for any deck that can afford to kill a few of it's own creatures. Heavy disruption in the form of Mesmeric Fiend
Mesmeric Fiend
Mesmeric FiendSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nightmare Horror
Rarity:
C
Number:
69
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Mesmeric Fiend comes into play, target opponent reveals his or her hand and you choose a nonland card from it. Remove that card from the game. When Mesmeric Fiend leaves play, return the removed card to its owner's hand.
, Duress
Duress
DuressSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
132
Artist:
Lawrence Snelly
Text:
Look at target opponent's hand and choose a noncreature, nonland card there. That player discards that card.
, and to a lesser extent Addle
Addle
AddleSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
91
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Choose a color. Look at target player's hand and choose a card of that color from it. That player discards that card.
and Mind Sludge
Mind Sludge
Mind SludgeSet: Torment
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
70
Text:
Target player discards a card from his or her hand for each swamp you control.
coupled with nasty direct damage capabilities via Coffers fueled Soul Burn
Soul Burn
Soul BurnSet: Ice Age
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
Soul Burn deals 1 damage to a single target creature or player for each B or R you pay in addition to the casting cost. Gain 1 life for each B you spend in this way. You cannot gain more life than the toughness of the creature or the total life of the targeted player.
s, Death Grasp
Death Grasp
Death GraspSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
95
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Text:
Death Grasp deals X damage to target creature or player. You gain X life.
s, or plain old Corrupt
Corrupt
CorruptSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
124
Artist:
Vincent Evans
Text:
Corrupt deals 1 damage to target creature or player for each swamp you control. When Corrupt successfully deals damage to a creature or player, gain life equal to that damage.
s make the deck a force. The only real weakness the color still has is a lack of quality creatures. The Phyrexian Scuta
Phyrexian Scuta
Phyrexian ScutaSet: Planeshift
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie
Rarity:
R
Number:
51
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Kicker-Pay 3 life. (You may pay 3 life in addition to any other costs as you play this spell.) If you paid the kicker cost, Phyrexian Scuta comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it.
has been showing up in a few decks and it boggles my mind...in the current environment lightning bolting yourself for 4 mana is *not* a good deal. There are simply too many things praying on the Scuta from spot removal to bounce and counter magic. Nightmare
Nightmare
NightmareSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nightmare
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Melissa A. Benson
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Flying Nightmare's power and toughness both equal the number of swamps its controller has in play.
is playable in the mono versions and the Nantuko Shade
Nantuko Shade
Nantuko ShadeSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Insect Shade
Rarity:
R
Number:
74
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
B: Nantuko Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
as well as Laquatus's Champion
Laquatus's Champion
Laquatus's ChampionSet: Torment
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nightmare Horror
Rarity:
R
Number:
67
Artist:
Greg Staples
Power:
6
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Laquatus's Champion comes into play, target player loses 6 life. When Laquatus's Champion leaves play, that player gains 6 life. B: Regenerate Laquatus's Champion.
have been getting some well deserved press but aside from that the color is still a little creature light.

Black variants *will* continue to thrive as long as R/G is also in the spotlight as the removal and life swinging burn the deck has are usually too much for the R/G mage to handle but the deck (as all Black decks have always been) is very vulnerable to a simple COP: Black (or Compost
Compost
CompostSet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
102
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Whenever a black card is put into one of your opponents' graveyards, you may draw a card.
!) which is why I advocate the Black with a splash of White variant that allows you to run Vindicate
Vindicate
VindicateSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
126
Artist:
Brian Snoddy
Text:
Destroy target permanent.
, Desolation Angel
Desolation Angel
Desolation AngelSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
R
Number:
38
Artist:
Brom
Power:
5
Toughness:
4
Text:
Kicker WW (You may pay an additional WW as you play this spell.) Flying. When Desolation Angel comes into play, destroy all lands you control. If you paid the kicker cost, destroy all lands instead.
, and to a lesser extent, Death Grasp
Death Grasp
Death GraspSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
95
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Text:
Death Grasp deals X damage to target creature or player. You gain X life.
over Corrupt
Corrupt
CorruptSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
124
Artist:
Vincent Evans
Text:
Corrupt deals 1 damage to target creature or player for each swamp you control. When Corrupt successfully deals damage to a creature or player, gain life equal to that damage.
. Just please don't even consider Gerrard's Verdict
Gerrard's Verdict
Gerrard's VerdictSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
102
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Target player discards two cards from his or her hand. You gain 3 life for each land card discarded this way.
right now...paying two mana to take 6 to the head from the Red Mage sitting opposite you is *not* a good deal IMHO. The fact that Black's burn not only deals damage but gains life gives it a critical edge against R/G and it further widens that edge by it's superior card drawing capabilities. Skeletal Scrying
Skeletal Scrying
Skeletal ScryingSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
161
Artist:
Bob Petillo
Text:
As an additional cost to play Skeletal Scrying, remove X cards in your graveyard from the game. You draw X cards and you lose X life.
has been mentioned by quite a few people though I still think Necrologia
Necrologia
NecrologiaSet: Exodus
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
68
Artist:
Brom
Text:
Play Necrologia only during your discard phase.Pay X life: Draw X cards.
and Phyrexian Arena
Phyrexian Arena
Phyrexian ArenaSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
47
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.
are just as good, if not better in many match-ups as they don't eat your graveyard, and thus, they make Yawgmoth's Agenda
Yawgmoth's Agenda
Yawgmoth's AgendaSet: Invasion
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
135
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Play no more than one spell each turn.You may play cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand.If a card would be put into your graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead.
that much better as a late game finisher.

A brief word on Yawgmoth's Agenda
Yawgmoth's Agenda
Yawgmoth's AgendaSet: Invasion
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
135
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Play no more than one spell each turn.You may play cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand.If a card would be put into your graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead.
...if you're playing Black *play this card!* Yes, it's a one way Arcane Laboratory
Arcane Laboratory
Arcane LaboratorySet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
60
Artist:
Stephen Daniele
Text:
Each player cannot play more than one spell each turn.
and Planar Void
Planar Void
Planar VoidSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
149
Artist:
Andrew Goldhawk
Text:
Whenever a card is put into a graveyard, remove that card from the game.
. No, you can't discard cards that are in your graveyard for madness. But who cares? I played with this card extensively in the Sixth Edition/MM/IN Type II in my U/B Eye-Go deck and was rarely disappointed to see it come up. Being able to reuse stuff like Death Grasp
Death Grasp
Death GraspSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
95
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Text:
Death Grasp deals X damage to target creature or player. You gain X life.
and creatures previously bolted/sacrificed/etc. is well worth the one card per turn limit. Unless your deck is killing in 4 turns you should play a pair of these, they effectively give every card you've already played flashback and the card advantage is usually enough to crush decks once it's resolved.

Anyway, there have been a number of Black versions posted on the net. Some run Ichorid
Ichorid
IchoridSet: Torment
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Horror
Rarity:
R
Number:
65
Power:
3
Toughness:
1
Text:
Haste. At end of turn, sacrifice Ichorid. At the beginning of your upkeep, if Ichorid is in your graveyard, you may remove a black creature card in your graveyard other than Ichorid from the game. If you do, return Ichorid to play.
, Braids and some land destruction via Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.
while others are creatureless burn festivals. I really don't care for the B/R variant as it rolls over against R/G but the creatureless ones have some potential. Still, I think I'd play something more like this if I was going Black though...

4x Mesmeric Fiend
Mesmeric Fiend
Mesmeric FiendSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nightmare Horror
Rarity:
C
Number:
69
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Mesmeric Fiend comes into play, target opponent reveals his or her hand and you choose a nonland card from it. Remove that card from the game. When Mesmeric Fiend leaves play, return the removed card to its owner's hand.

4x Nantuko Shade
Nantuko Shade
Nantuko ShadeSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Insect Shade
Rarity:
R
Number:
74
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
B: Nantuko Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

4x Braids, Cabal Minion
Braids, Cabal Minion
Braids, Cabal MinionSet: Odyssey
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Minion Legend
Rarity:
R
Number:
117
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player sacrifices an artifact, creature, or land.

2x Laquatus's Champion
Laquatus's Champion
Laquatus's ChampionSet: Torment
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nightmare Horror
Rarity:
R
Number:
67
Artist:
Greg Staples
Power:
6
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Laquatus's Champion comes into play, target player loses 6 life. When Laquatus's Champion leaves play, that player gains 6 life. B: Regenerate Laquatus's Champion.


4x Vindicate
Vindicate
VindicateSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
126
Artist:
Brian Snoddy
Text:
Destroy target permanent.

4x Death Grasp
Death Grasp
Death GraspSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
95
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Text:
Death Grasp deals X damage to target creature or player. You gain X life.

3x Duress
Duress
DuressSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
132
Artist:
Lawrence Snelly
Text:
Look at target opponent's hand and choose a noncreature, nonland card there. That player discards that card.

4x Innocent Blood
Innocent Blood
Innocent BloodSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
145
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Each player sacrifices a creature.

4x Chainer's Edict
Chainer's Edict
Chainer's EdictSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Text:
Target player sacrifices a creature. Flashback 5BB

2x Wrath of God
Wrath of God
Wrath of GodSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Quinton Hoover
Text:
All creatures in play are buried.

2x Yawgmoth's Agenda
Yawgmoth's Agenda
Yawgmoth's AgendaSet: Invasion
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
135
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Play no more than one spell each turn.You may play cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand.If a card would be put into your graveyard from anywhere, remove it from the game instead.


4x Caves of Koilos
Caves of Koilos
Caves of KoilosSet: Apocalypse
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
140
Artist:
Jim Nelson
Text:
TAP: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. TAP: Add W or B to your mana pool. Caves of Koilos deals 1 damage to you.

4x Tainted Field
Tainted Field
Tainted FieldSet: Torment
Color:
Land
Type:
land
Rarity:
U
Number:
140
Text:
T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. T: Add W or B to your mana pool. Play this ability only if you control a swamp.

4x Cabal Pit
Cabal Pit
Cabal PitSet: Odyssey
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Number:
315
Artist:
John Avon
Text:
Add B to your mana pool. Cabal Pit deals 1 damage to you. Threshold - B, Tap, Sacrifice Cabal Pit: Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn. (Play this ability only if seven or more cards are in your graveyard.)

12x Swamp
Swamp
SwampSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add B to your mana pool.


Some obvious SB possibles
- Desolation Angel
Desolation Angel
Desolation AngelSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
R
Number:
38
Artist:
Brom
Power:
5
Toughness:
4
Text:
Kicker WW (You may pay an additional WW as you play this spell.) Flying. When Desolation Angel comes into play, destroy all lands you control. If you paid the kicker cost, destroy all lands instead.
(against Control)
- Slay
Slay
SlaySet: Planeshift
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
55
Artist:
Ben Thompson
Text:
Destroy target green creature. It can't be regenerated. Draw a card.
(obvious)
- COP Red or Black
- Ghastly Demise
Ghastly Demise
Ghastly DemiseSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
139
Artist:
Gary Ruddell
Text:
Destroy target nonblack creature if its toughness is less than or equal to the number of cards in your graveyard.

- Haunting Echoes
Haunting Echoes
Haunting EchoesSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
142
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Remove all cards in target player's graveyard other than basic land cards from the game. Search that player's library for all cards with the same name as cards removed this way, and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.


I basically just whipped this deck out off the top of my head but it seems workable in the current creature heavy metagame...the only sticking point might be getting the mana a little more smoothed to make Wrath easier to cast. Early game you'll likely want to go aggressive by laying out some of your early annoyances like the Fiend and Shade...in all likelihood they'll be bolted or otherwise removed but that's alright because you'll be able to respond back with your own creature removal when they try to come at you with *their* critters. By the fourth or fifth turn the early plays should be done with and both players should be sitting on smallish hands...that's the point where you can try and take control. Braids can get very nasty if she's allowed to sit out for long and Laquatus's Champion
Laquatus's Champion
Laquatus's ChampionSet: Torment
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nightmare Horror
Rarity:
R
Number:
67
Artist:
Greg Staples
Power:
6
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Laquatus's Champion comes into play, target player loses 6 life. When Laquatus's Champion leaves play, that player gains 6 life. B: Regenerate Laquatus's Champion.
is a huge beating. Death Grasp
Death Grasp
Death GraspSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
95
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Text:
Death Grasp deals X damage to target creature or player. You gain X life.
is there to finish them off or to get you back into a decent life range. Agenda is the trump card and will often mean game because it'll allow you to replay all those fun little cards like the Shade again. The deck is horrid against Heavy Control pre-sb so you'd want to board into more threats like the ever-popular and effective Desolation Angel
Desolation Angel
Desolation AngelSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
R
Number:
38
Artist:
Brom
Power:
5
Toughness:
4
Text:
Kicker WW (You may pay an additional WW as you play this spell.) Flying. When Desolation Angel comes into play, destroy all lands you control. If you paid the kicker cost, destroy all lands instead.
. The main thing I'd consider messing around with is the Innocent Blood
Innocent Blood
Innocent BloodSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
145
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Each player sacrifices a creature.
, a cheap card drawer like Phyrexian Arena
Phyrexian Arena
Phyrexian ArenaSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
47
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.
might be a better call in it's spot depending on how many creatures you need to kill in your local metagame...Blood *will* be extremely useful if you're facing a field full of fat R/G decks that continually flashback their tokens but otherwise it would likely be better being replaced with something of more general use; possibly even a cheap creature like the Phyrexian Rager
Phyrexian Rager
Phyrexian RagerSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Horror
Rarity:
C
Number:
49
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Phyrexian Rager comes into play, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.
, I hear Cantrips are still decent :-)

Phew...well, I was planning to go into detail on my current favorite deck that no one is playing (U/W Millstone
Millstone
MillstoneSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
2, T: Take the top two cards from target player's library and put them in target player's graveyard.
) but I think I'll call it quits for today and go flop some cards instead. Look for more articles on Type II from me in the coming weeks as I continue to play and analyze the Torment
Torment
TormentSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
23
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Enchanted creature gets -3/-0.
era metagame


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