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CardShark Content - Michael Shiver (3/27/2005)

The advent of Champions block has done quite a bit to increase popular interest in East Asian culture and history among Magic players (nerd stereotype joke: as if any of them needed any help with that). For me, it reminded me of the themes and ideals that I became familiar with during my experiences with training in the martial arts. One spends a great deal of time and energy (physical, mental, and spiritual) to prepare oneself to take on and take command of any situation, particularly the potentially dangerous ones. The rank of black belt is indicative of the state of readiness that means the student is now able to take all the pieces of what he or she has learned, and put them together to make it all work.

The title of this article, which is also an appropriate name for the deck, is a rough translation of the name of the last Kata that I learned before obtaining my own black belt in Tang Soo Do Karate. This is a Blue, Black, Green Arcane control build, with a primary win condition of Dampen Thought
Dampen Thought
Dampen ThoughtSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Target player puts the top four cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Splice onto Arcane 1U (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.)
, but supported by some very solid, efficient creatures. It may be slow to build and prepare sometimes, but with enough hard work, dedication, and wise decision making, the end result is a near-unbreakable show of force and control.

Let’s begin.

Land (24)
9: Swamp
Swamp
SwampSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add B to your mana pool.

8: Forest
Forest
ForestSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add G to your mana pool.

7: Island
Island
IslandSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add U to your mana pool.


Artifacts (1)
1: Long-Forgotten Gohei

Black (12)
4: Bile Urchin
Bile Urchin
Bile UrchinSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
61
Artist:
Dany Orizio
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Bile Urchin Target player loses 1 life.

3: Rend Flesh
Rend Flesh
Rend FleshSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
140
Artist:
Stephen Tappin
Text:
Destroy target non-Spirit creature.

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: Swallowing Plague
Swallowing Plague
Swallowing PlagueSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
146
Artist:
Dave Dorman
Text:
Swallowing Plague deals X damage to target creature and you gain X life.

1: Soulless Revival
Soulless Revival
Soulless RevivalSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
144
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. Splice onto Arcane 1B (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.)


Blue (12)
4: Eerie Procession
Eerie Procession
Eerie ProcessionSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
58
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Search your library for an Arcane card, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

3: Peer Through Depths
Peer Through Depths
Peer Through DepthsSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
78
Artist:
Anthony S. Waters
Text:
Look at the top five cards of your library. You may reveal an instant or sorcery card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

2: Consuming Vortex
Consuming Vortex
Consuming VortexSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
54
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Splice onto Arcane 3U (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: Dampen Thought
Dampen Thought
Dampen ThoughtSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Target player puts the top four cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Splice onto Arcane 1U (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.)

1: Sire of the Storm
Sire of the Storm
Sire of the StormSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
U
Number:
85
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may draw a card.


Green (11)
4: 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.

4: Kodama’s Reach
2: Fork
Fork
ForkSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Any one sorcery or instant spell just cast is duplicated. Treat Fork as an exact copy of target spell except that Fork remains red. Caster of Fork chooses the copy's target.
ed-Branch Garami
1: Wear Away
Wear Away
Wear AwaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
250
Artist:
Tim Hildebrandt
Text:
Destroy target artifact or enchantment. Splice onto Arcane 3G (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.)



Land

The reasoning behind the land mix is pretty straightforward. The colors are represented rather evenly in the deck, but I need more Black for casting and splicing the Arcane spells of that color, and I need a solid supply of Green for Kodama’s Reach and 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.
. I would include some non-basics that produce more than one color, but I don’t have any to spare at the moment.


Artifacts

The Gohei is an obvious choice. Again, I was restricted by what I happened to have on hand, but considering the comparatively low creature count and the constructions of the casting costs of the spells in the deck, I would only ever add one more, at most.


Black

Bile Urchin
Bile Urchin
Bile UrchinSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
61
Artist:
Dany Orizio
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Bile Urchin Target player loses 1 life.
is an efficient creature on the cheap. Mostly, he’s there to take up time and space while I get things together, but he’s also often able to get in a few good pokes early game, and trades nicely with most other weenies in a delightfully passive-aggressive manner.

Rend Flesh
Rend Flesh
Rend FleshSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
140
Artist:
Stephen Tappin
Text:
Destroy target non-Spirit creature.
kills a lot of different things, let me tell you. The bonus of being able to target black non-Spirit
Spirit
SpiritSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
s is extra wonderful. It’s clean, quick kill, and cheap enough to make it pretty easy to splice on an additional effect fairly early in the game.

The sheer brute power of 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.)
as reusable, unavoidable kill and control is what was one of my major motivations behind building this deck in the first place. Being able to splice Laughter and Consuming Vortex
Consuming Vortex
Consuming VortexSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
54
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Splice onto Arcane 3U (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.)
(yet to be discussed) in the late-game creates a very uncomfortable situation for most any opponent who would like to win with creatures.

Swallowing Plague
Swallowing Plague
Swallowing PlagueSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
146
Artist:
Dave Dorman
Text:
Swallowing Plague deals X damage to target creature and you gain X life.
is yet more control. Yes, it can only hit creatures, but any color mana can be pumped into X, which can be as large or small as I want it to be. The life-boost makes up for early sacrifices that might be close to catching up with me, and the board-situation assistance is always welcome.

Soulless Revival
Soulless Revival
Soulless RevivalSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
144
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. Splice onto Arcane 1B (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.)
will always be spliced onto something else, unless it’s absolutely necessary to do otherwise. Early game has it pulling back blockers and stallers (Bile Urchin
Bile Urchin
Bile UrchinSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
61
Artist:
Dany Orizio
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Bile Urchin Target player loses 1 life.
, 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.
), and mid- to late-game has it assisting some interesting recursion tricks (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.
, Fork
Fork
ForkSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Any one sorcery or instant spell just cast is duplicated. Treat Fork as an exact copy of target spell except that Fork remains red. Caster of Fork chooses the copy's target.
ed-Branch Garami).


Blue

Eerie Procession
Eerie Procession
Eerie ProcessionSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
58
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Search your library for an Arcane card, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
is priced to move in this deck, tutoring for any non-creature spell (not counting Gohei), and able to haul splice effects, as well. And whatever it goes to grab is yet another opportunity to make the most of the sick card advantage that Splice has made available to us. This is definitely a must-have.

Peer Through Depths
Peer Through Depths
Peer Through DepthsSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
78
Artist:
Anthony S. Waters
Text:
Look at the top five cards of your library. You may reveal an instant or sorcery card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
is another wonderful tutor for the deck. If the top five cards don’t have the kind of spell you need, then it makes it more probable that the next few cards do. There were 4 of these in the original build, but I needed just a smudge more board-control, so I ended up adding a second copy of Consuming Vortex
Consuming Vortex
Consuming VortexSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
54
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Splice onto Arcane 3U (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.)
.

Consuming Vortex
Consuming Vortex
Consuming VortexSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
54
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Splice onto Arcane 3U (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.)
is definitely one of the star players in this deck. Bounce is always a useful tool, and reusable bounce is even better. At the very least, it will end up setting the opponent way back on his or her mana curve, considering that he or she will want to keep playing creatures in order to try to keep his or her side of the board in some semblance of stability. It’s even good when spliced to a sorcery, unless the bounced creature has haste, of course, but those are still few and far-between.

Like I said at the outset, Dampen Thought
Dampen Thought
Dampen ThoughtSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Target player puts the top four cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Splice onto Arcane 1U (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.)
is the main win-condition. Granted, well-built decks should be able to deal with the milling fairly easily and forge ahead in early- and mid-game, but the card is a game in and of itself. Many players turn cautious when they begin to lose resources in significant bundles at a time, and this is especially true when those losses appear to be at random. Playing that mind-game against them effectively means more breathing room, more set-up time, and an all-around better shot at victory. Getting one fired off every turn means the opponent’s deck is disappearing 5 times faster than the home team’s, and being able to Splice both of them onto something at once on a regular basis means the end can’t be far away.

Sire of the Storm
Sire of the Storm
Sire of the StormSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
U
Number:
85
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may draw a card.
is a fun guy. I like his ability a lot, but I will agree that it’s not needed all the time. He’s a sizeable flier, though, in addition to his cool ability. Basically, the Sire is included as an interesting card which happens to be versatile, but this would be the card to go if I happen to obtain a second Long-Forgotten Gohei.


Green

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.
is another reason why I wanted to build this deck. One-drop guys are always useful, and this little one has the bonus of having what I see as a truly great ability attached. Functionally, it’s used very similarly to the Bile Urchin
Bile Urchin
Bile UrchinSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
61
Artist:
Dany Orizio
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Bile Urchin Target player loses 1 life.
, in that it might get in a hit or two in the early-game, but its main purpose is to block, stall, and help me keep things rolling on my side.

Kodama’s Reach is yet another one of those mystical fundamental reasons for the deck’s existence. This one is competitively-priced mana-fixing, deck-thinning, and Splice-carrying goodness all rolled up into one card. What more can I say?

Fork
Fork
ForkSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Any one sorcery or instant spell just cast is duplicated. Treat Fork as an exact copy of target spell except that Fork remains red. Caster of Fork chooses the copy's target.
ed-Branch Garami is the best Soulshifter by far. A creature his size and cost is a solid bargain for Green, but his ability to fetch two replacements is wonderful. Yes, I realize that he can only grab Bile Urchin
Bile Urchin
Bile UrchinSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
61
Artist:
Dany Orizio
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Bile Urchin Target player loses 1 life.
or 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.
, but we already know why those are good creatures to have. And with a board kept clean by Rend Spirit
Rend Spirit
Rend SpiritSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
141
Artist:
Stephen Tappin
Text:
Destroy target Spirit.
, Consuming Vortex
Consuming Vortex
Consuming VortexSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
54
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Splice onto Arcane 3U (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.)
, and 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.)
, the Garami is quite the beatstick.

Wear Away
Wear Away
Wear AwaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
250
Artist:
Tim Hildebrandt
Text:
Destroy target artifact or enchantment. Splice onto Arcane 3G (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.)
is a beautiful, beautiful support card. There’s a reason that its Splice cost looks pricey. Its capacity for cooling, unbalancing, or just plain wrecking an opponent’s board situation should not be underestimated.


So there you have it. With patience, hard work, some self-searching, and some initial sacrifice, you too can prepare yourself to take command and tear down the fortress. Don’t forget to visit the forums and comment. I frequent them, myself, and appreciate any and all feedback you may deem fit to give me. Until next we meet…


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