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CardShark Content - Michael Webb (12/25/2002)

'Lo again all, it's been some time since I've set down in front of the terminal with the intent of typing up an article. As per usual, my main interest in Magic has been focused in on Type II (not because I like the format more, in theory, than Extended, it's just much more pervasive) and my deck choices have been pretty, please pardon the pun, standard.

I've noodled with U/G Madness (with Future Sight
Future Sight
Future SightSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
84
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Text:
Play with the top card of your library revealed. You may play the top card of your library as though it were in your hand.
), played around with R/W Slide, buried critters en masse with Mono Black, and so forth, but none of these decks exactly inspire the imagination, they're all typical, off the shelf stock models that win, but don't do it particularly creatively.

So the other evening I was reading older articles from the Dojo, looking for deck building inspiration, and I was reminded of one of the most sadistic, and proactive control decks ever built, Ponza.

For those who don't know, Ponza was initially a bastard relative to the more universally known Sligh, it relied on early game cheap burn, with land destruction in the mid, and nasty finishers that would kill your opponent in short order for the late. The original Ponza was basic Red, and it used Wildfire
Wildfire
WildfireSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
You destroy four of your lands and your opponent destroys four of his or her lands. Then Wildfire deals 4 damage to each creature. (This includes your creatures.)
as a finisher, and had such cards as Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.
, Pillage
Pillage
PillageSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
198
Artist:
Richard Kane Ferguson
Text:
Destroy target artifact or land. It can't be regenerated.
, Avalanche
Avalanche
AvalancheSet: Ice Age
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Brian Snoddy
Text:
Destroy X target snow-covered lands.
IFJpZGVycw==, Wasteland
Wasteland
WastelandSet: Tempest
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool.tap, Sacrifice Wasteland: Destroy target nonbasic land.
, and so forth in the main deck during it's run.

It made me start to wonder, with all the wonky mana bases, and decks that hate land destruction in the current environment, might a Ponza-esque deck be viable again? My first attempt was to go that mono Red route again, but I found the main issue that kept creeping up was early game issues, burn can keep decks in check to a certain extent, but if you get a land destuction light hand, with just some burn, you're going to lose horrifically more often than not.

More importantly, Red by itself doesn't have a ´´the game's over´´ card like it used to, I know what you're thinking, this slot used to be filled by Wildfire
Wildfire
WildfireSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
You destroy four of your lands and your opponent destroys four of his or her lands. Then Wildfire deals 4 damage to each creature. (This includes your creatures.)
, and Wildfire
Wildfire
WildfireSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
You destroy four of your lands and your opponent destroys four of his or her lands. Then Wildfire deals 4 damage to each creature. (This includes your creatures.)
is in 7th, so why not? Simply put, Wildfire
Wildfire
WildfireSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
You destroy four of your lands and your opponent destroys four of his or her lands. Then Wildfire deals 4 damage to each creature. (This includes your creatures.)
isn't what it used to be, 6 mana is a lot for a card that won't even kill Roar tokens, and said Roar tokens are very popular in the field right now.

So what to do?

The obvious answer was to look at the other traditional land destruction colour, black. Black's only ´´classic´´ destroy target land spell that fits is Rancid Earth
Rancid Earth
Rancid EarthSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
78
Text:
Destroy target land. Threshold - Instead destroy that land and Rancid Earth deals 1 damage to each creature and each player.
, but it's a start. Much more importantly, black fills in the early game disruption and late game finisher role that red is severely lacking.

Early game you can run nasty disruption like 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 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.
to try and stop them from doing anything horrific. Late game you can lay the queen of land destruction herself, Braids down, and say game over on many an occasion.

Without further ado, a list:

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

4x Rancid Earth
Rancid Earth
Rancid EarthSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
78
Text:
Destroy target land. Threshold - Instead destroy that land and Rancid Earth deals 1 damage to each creature and each player.

2x Lay Waste
Lay Waste
Lay WasteSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
201
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Destroy target land.Cycling 2 (You may pay 2 and discard this card from your hand to draw a card. Play this ability as an instant.)


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 Undead Gladiator
Undead Gladiator
Undead GladiatorSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie Barbarian
Rarity:
R
Number:
178
Artist:
Jeff Easley
Power:
3
Toughness:
1
Text:
1B, Discard a card from your hand: Return Undead Gladiator from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep.. Cycling 1B (1B, Discard this card from your hand: Draw a card.)

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 Grinning Demon
Grinning Demon
Grinning DemonSet: Onslaught
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
R
Number:
153
Artist:
Mark Zug
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
At he beginning of your upkeep, you lose 2 life. Morph 2BB (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)


4x 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 Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.


16x Swamp
Swamp
SwampSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add B to your mana pool.

4x Sulfurous Springs
Sulfurous Springs
Sulfurous SpringsSet: Fifth Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Text:
T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool.T: Add B or R to your mana pool. Sulfurous Springs deals 1 damage to you.

4x Tainted Peak
Tainted Peak
Tainted PeakSet: Torment
Color:
Land
Type:
land
Rarity:
U
Number:
142
Text:
T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. T: Add B or R to your mana pool. Play this ability only if you control a swamp.


SB:
3x 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.

3x Eastern Paladin
Eastern Paladin
Eastern PaladinSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Knight
Rarity:
R
Number:
133
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
BB, T: Destroy target green creature.

3x Cabal Therapy
Cabal Therapy
Cabal TherapySet: Judgment
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
62
Artist:
Ron Spencer

Text:
Name a nonland card. Target player reveals his or her hand and discards from it all cards with that name. Flashback - Sacrifice a creature.

3x Engineered Plague
Engineered Plague
Engineered PlagueSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
51
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
When Engineered Plague comes into play, choose a creature type.All creatures of the chosen type get -1/-1.

3x 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.


Looking down the list, it's fairly easy to see the comparison to Ponza, there's just enough land destruction to frustrate your opponent by stealing half of their colours, or to get an odd Coffers that sneaks out. 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 Fiend apply the early game pressure while Braids, the Demon
Demon
DemonSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
C
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Flying
, or the Shade finish them off. Undead Gladiator
Undead Gladiator
Undead GladiatorSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie Barbarian
Rarity:
R
Number:
178
Artist:
Jeff Easley
Power:
3
Toughness:
1
Text:
1B, Discard a card from your hand: Return Undead Gladiator from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep.. Cycling 1B (1B, Discard this card from your hand: Draw a card.)
fills a utility role. He can beat down effectively, he can by cycled when you need to draw, and he can give mono black nightmares with his recursive ability. This recursive ability also makes him an extremely nasty combo with Braids, as it gives her an alternate upkeep of 2BBB, discard a card during your upkeep.

Initially, I didn't have high hopes for the deck, I put it together on a whim and dragged it along with me to playtest, that playtesting showed the deck has some serious strength though, and can wreck utter havoc on an unprepared field.

While I'd thought that in theory it might get a few excellent draws that would punish the opponent, and auto-win, I had no idea how reliable the design would end up being. You never have problems finding red sources to fuel your land destruction, and the early game pressure factor is superb. This is an extremely proactive deck, and when it's running it can often feel unbeatable.

The main issue that it can run into is a deck that lays out too many early game threats, like U/G can, especially if they can go first. Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.
can kill the first card, but without it things can get ugly, especially if they can get a Mongrel/Wurm draw, because by the time you're blowing up their third land (assuming they went first) they've already got way too much heat out.

Thus, the inclusion of the 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.
s in the SB, they're not necessary for a lot of matches, but against U/G and Sligh they're completely needed to alleviate the early game beats. Honestly, the initial reason I put them in was just to deal with the Phantom Centaur
Phantom Centaur
Phantom CentaurSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Centaur Spirit
Rarity:
U
Number:
127
Artist:
Carl Critchlow

Power:
2
Toughness:
0
Text:
Protection from Black. Phantom Centaur comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it. If damage would be dealt to Phantom Centaur, prevent that damage. Remove a +1/+1 counter from Phantom Centaur.
, which otherwise gives this deck fits, but they've proven themselves serviceable time and time again by cleaning up the low casting cost stuff. I could even justify putting some of them in the MB, but as I said, it depends on what you're up against, in a Sligh and U/G heavy metagame they're probably better than Demon
Demon
DemonSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
C
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Flying
s, but this deck loves the 6/6 for 4, since he's a superb clock to follow early land destruction up with.

I tried to test the deck with the Demon
Demon
DemonSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
C
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Flying
s out for 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.
, but I honestly didn't feel that the change was worth it, it weakens the deck against other matches, and the 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.
were often too little by themselves anyhow. But I'd certainly respect an attempt to fit them in, despite the negative interaction with your creatures, they're a strong answer to a big rush.

Some matchups:

-----

Mono Black Control:

The ´´other´´ black deck in the environment is wrecked by your early game blitz, despite the pervasive 26 land version, it's still not enough because you can steal their removal, destroy their early lands, and lock them down with Braids, or frustrate them with recursive Gladiators.

Not getting out a turn 4 Braids against them hurts, but it's by no means a game ending kind of thing either, as you have a lot of good single card threats that demand Mutilation, as either Shade or Demon
Demon
DemonSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
C
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Flying
, or even Gladiator in a pinch will carry you home.


In playtesting B/r Braids wins this match at least 2 out of 3 pre-sideboarding, and the percentage just gets better after boarding when you can bring in a trio of Scrying to try and head off any Echoes action if you fail to finish them off in the early game.

One of your easier matches.

SB:
-3 Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.

+3 Scrying

You can safely take out most of the Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.
s because even if they get out a Shade, yours will still be larger, while Visara is out of range and Riptide
Riptide
RiptideSet: The Dark
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Randy Asplund
Text:
All blue creatures become tapped.
tokens should never be an issue. Scrying is nice because it can replenish your hand and protect you from Echoes.

-----

Blue-Green Madness:

There's no point in even bringing a deck to a Type II tourney these days unless it posts 50% against U/G, and that's just about what B/r Braids does. If you go first, you'll likely win, and it's impossible to stress how important that is for this match. You'll also likely win if they fail to lay a Mongrel on turn 2.

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.
s can ensue if they Study into 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.
-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.
, or manage a Mongrel, discard 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.
or two, or even worse, Arrogant Wurm
Arrogant Wurm
Arrogant WurmSet: Torment
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wurm
Rarity:
U
Number:
120
Artist:
John Avon
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Trample. Madness 2G
. It's by no means a hopeless cause, hopeless is when you can't prevent them from getting out Centaur in game 1, but it's certainly not pretty in any case.

The nasty factor of this match depends heavily on what version they're running. Locally, the 4 Phantom Centaur
Phantom Centaur
Phantom CentaurSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Centaur Spirit
Rarity:
U
Number:
127
Artist:
Carl Critchlow

Power:
2
Toughness:
0
Text:
Protection from Black. Phantom Centaur comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it. If damage would be dealt to Phantom Centaur, prevent that damage. Remove a +1/+1 counter from Phantom Centaur.
, 4 Counterspell
Counterspell
CounterspellSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Counters target spell as it is being cast.
version of the deck is popular, and that's a much harder match-up (primarily because both of those cards are potential game-breakers against you) than the more standard bounce and Deep Analysis
Deep Analysis
Deep AnalysisSet: Torment
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Text:
Target player draws two cards. Flashback - 1U, Pay 3 life.
style deck. If your area hasn't gotten the Centaur/Counter maindeck version yet, you might be in for a treat, as this deck will wreck the older version.

In the match against the 8 counter version going first is a huge issue because of how much countermagic can kill your pace though. B/r Braids is a tempo deck first and foremost, and having it's first land destruction spell countered is enough to turn the tide in their favour, if they go first, chances are they're going to be able to get out UU for your attempted turn 3 Earth or Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.
, if they go second they usually won't unless they had a bad draw and had to play all forests (which should be good times for you in any case)

SB:
-4 Gladiator (liability against 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.
)
-1 Lay Waste
Lay Waste
Lay WasteSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
201
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Destroy target land.Cycling 2 (You may pay 2 and discard this card from your hand to draw a card. Play this ability as an instant.)

-4 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.
or Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.
(see below)
+3 Eastern Paladin
Eastern Paladin
Eastern PaladinSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Knight
Rarity:
R
Number:
133
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
BB, T: Destroy target green creature.
(insane in this match)
+3 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.

+3 Cabal Therapy
Cabal Therapy
Cabal TherapySet: Judgment
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
62
Artist:
Ron Spencer

Text:
Name a nonland card. Target player reveals his or her hand and discards from it all cards with that name. Flashback - Sacrifice a creature.


You have to take out the Gladiators, and play a much more slow-paced control game against U/G. Eastern Paladin
Eastern Paladin
Eastern PaladinSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Knight
Rarity:
R
Number:
133
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
BB, T: Destroy target green creature.
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.
can establish critical mid-game tempo, while Therapy allows you to stop Mongrel on turn 1, to get rid of Arrogant Wurm
Arrogant Wurm
Arrogant WurmSet: Torment
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wurm
Rarity:
U
Number:
120
Artist:
John Avon
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Trample. Madness 2G
s after that, and to force the issue if they've got too much counter-magic. If there was more space I'd love to keep both 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 Therapy in against U/G, but it just doesn't work unless you take out some of the land destruction (not a good idea, since the only way you're winning anyway is to prevent them from getting to 4 mana)

One possibility that I am open to is taking out the Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.
s for 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.
. 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.
is pure gold in the first turn or two, nabbing counters so you can force through later stuff, in theory, if you had the 4 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 3 Therapy in, you wouldn't need Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.
because you'd be able to reliably get Paladin or 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.
up on turn 4 anyway, it feels a little more dangerous, but it might be the correct way to go since you have huge solutions to their deck on turn 4 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.
and Paladin, which might be countered if you don't pack all 11 denial cards.

U/G has caused the most extensive rethinking of the archetype, but with this SB you're keeping an even percentage, even in the face of 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.
you can pull off wins through the sheer brute force of Paladin and Shade. The key is to learn what to name with Therapy, and to understand that you have to pace yourself in this match after boarding, as it's never pretty.

One final note, a sideboard card to watch out for, is 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.
. Most decks don't run them, and you can't play around them, but just be cautious. Having land destruction 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.
ed is horrific, as it kills your tempo and allows them to build up their mana base. This is just one more card in favour of the 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.
/Therapy/Fiend build post sideboard.

-----

Sligh:

Surprisingly, Sligh hasn't been played much locally, mainly due to the difficulty in finding the ´´Touchdown Kitty´´. There are a few people who play it though, and the early game blitz can be very difficult to stop. The key thing to win in the pre-sideboarded match is to keep them from getting to 4 mana, and thus, keep them from getting 4 mana 7 damage hasted beats and flashed back Firebolt
Firebolt
FireboltSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
193
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
Firebolt deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Flashback 4R (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
s. Keeping them at 2 mana is even better, to prevent flashed back Reckless Charge
Reckless Charge
Reckless ChargeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
215
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Target creature gets +3/+0 and gains haste until end of turn. Flashback 2R (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
s.

This said, the first match is incredibly difficult if they play it right, by holding back Firebolt
Firebolt
FireboltSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
193
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
Firebolt deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Flashback 4R (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
s for Braids or Shades. Grinning Demon
Grinning Demon
Grinning DemonSet: Onslaught
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
R
Number:
153
Artist:
Mark Zug
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
At he beginning of your upkeep, you lose 2 life. Morph 2BB (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
obviously isn't too hot since you have no definitive way to stop the bleeding pre-sideboard, and 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.
is just asking to be zapped into oblivion.

Your best hope for winning is against the 8 fetchland versions, especially if they keep a hand with a couple of them, not realising what they're up against. Fetchlands are virtual land destruction spells for you, and sometimes you can win matches against Sligh simply by being able to Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.
/Rancid Earth
Rancid Earth
Rancid EarthSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
78
Text:
Destroy target land. Threshold - Instead destroy that land and Rancid Earth deals 1 damage to each creature and each player.
/Lay Waste
Lay Waste
Lay WasteSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
201
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Destroy target land.Cycling 2 (You may pay 2 and discard this card from your hand to draw a card. Play this ability as an instant.)
their first couple of fetched Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.
s, and watching them sit there with a hand full of spells, with lessened hope of drawing more in their land-thinned library.

After sideboard however, things get much easier against all versions:

-2 Lay Waste
Lay Waste
Lay WasteSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
201
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Destroy target land.Cycling 2 (You may pay 2 and discard this card from your hand to draw a card. Play this ability as an instant.)

-1 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.

-3 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.

+3 Engineered Plague
Engineered Plague
Engineered PlagueSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
51
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
When Engineered Plague comes into play, choose a creature type.All creatures of the chosen type get -1/-1.

+3 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.


If possible, paris aggressively into Engineered Plague
Engineered Plague
Engineered PlagueSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
51
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
When Engineered Plague comes into play, choose a creature type.All creatures of the chosen type get -1/-1.
, with one of them on the table the match turns into a joke, with them trying to win by burning you out. The Grinning Demon
Grinning Demon
Grinning DemonSet: Onslaught
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
R
Number:
153
Artist:
Mark Zug
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
At he beginning of your upkeep, you lose 2 life. Morph 2BB (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
s seem like an obvious side out, but they're not, they're your largest creature, and can survive the cheap burn like Shades and Braids can't. After sideboarding your chances leap considerably, with an Engineered Plague
Engineered Plague
Engineered PlagueSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
51
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
When Engineered Plague comes into play, choose a creature type.All creatures of the chosen type get -1/-1.
opening hand almost assuring victory.

Just make sure to not take them too lightly, even with a Plague out, Sligh can still throw a lot of burn when it needs to, and keeping them from 4 mana, and 7/1 Trampling beats is still key.

-----

Slide:

Slide falls into the same pit that Mono Black does, it hates land destruction to the extreme, and is simply praying that none exists in the environment. Though Slide can cycle aggressively to find more land, it has a serious crutch in that often 50% of it's lands come into play tapped (Cycle Lands + Coliseum), a major liability against LD.

If they can manage to get a Rift out (which is more difficult than you might assume between 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 Fiend) you can have a more difficult time of it, but your land destruction can usually still steal half of their colours (red being the obvious best bet, since it allows uncouterable slaughtering of your troops via Slice and Dice
Slice and Dice
Slice and DiceSet: Onslaught
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
232
Artist:
Mark Brill
Text:
Slice and Dice deals 4 damage to each creature. Cycling 2R (2R, Discard this card from your hand: Draw a card.)
When you cycle Slice and Dice you may have it deal 1 damage to each creature.
) and stifle their game.

If you get a land destruction light hand, and they can establish the combo, you're going to be in trouble, but this match is nastily in your favour.

Sideboard:

-3 Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.

+3 Therapy

Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.
usually isn't neccessary in this match, since their creatures cost a lot of mana that they're not going to be able to afford. Therapy is solid gold, snatching Rift if they're approaching 2 mana, or Slide if they're approaching 3 mana.

-----

G/W (and G/W/r) Beats

G/W is being played on occasion by some of the good players in our area, so I feel it's worthy of mention. G/W is an aggressive, and dangerous deck pre-sideboard like U/G Madness is, but they don't have the benefit of counter-magic, which is 1 of the 2 reasons B/r hates Green (the other being the Phantom Centaur
Phantom Centaur
Phantom CentaurSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Centaur Spirit
Rarity:
U
Number:
127
Artist:
Carl Critchlow

Power:
2
Toughness:
0
Text:
Protection from Black. Phantom Centaur comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it. If damage would be dealt to Phantom Centaur, prevent that damage. Remove a +1/+1 counter from Phantom Centaur.
, who's obviously present in this one)

The nice thing about this deck, is that many of their cards are sub-optimal against you, Tireless Tribe
Tireless Tribe
Tireless TribeSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nomad
Rarity:
C
Number:
56
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Tireless Tribe gets +0/+4 until end of turn.
is a great enabler, but it isn't anywhere nearly as dangerous as an active Looter. And Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace
Moment's PeaceSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
251
Artist:
Rebecca Guay
Text:
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn. Flashback 2G (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
is a cute trick, but it requires 3 mana to flash back, and you're only attacking once you've established control anyway.

The G/W/r version is a little more dangerous, as it has access to 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.
, Anger
Anger
AngerSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Incarnation
Rarity:
U
Number:
77
Artist:
John Avon

Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Haste. As long as Anger is in your graveyard and you control a mountain, creatures you control have haste.
, and Goblin Sharpshooter
Goblin Sharpshooter
Goblin SharpshooterSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Goblin
Rarity:
R
Number:
207
Artist:
Greg Staples
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Goblin Sharpshooter doesn't untap during your untap step. Whenever a. creature is put into a graveyard from play, untap Goblin Sharpshooter.. T: Goblin Sharpshooter deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
via Living Wish
Living Wish
Living WishSet: Judgment
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
124
Artist:
Eric Peterson

Text:
Choose a creature or land card you own from outside the game, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Remove Living Wish from the game.
. But it creates a large problem for itself that exists in G/W, but is insane against B/r, the issue is the use of fetchlands.

In a non land destruction environment fetchlands are wonderful, they thin your deck of land, and create consistency. Against a land destruction deck they're a major liability though. Each time you use one, you're virtually destroying a land for B/r, at the cost of 1 life. I can't stress enough how big this is, if an opponent starts off with one or two fetchlands, they're going to have a very hard time recovering from the early land destruction, because for each Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.
I throw, I'm actually getting a Rain of Salt
Rain of Salt
Rain of SaltSet: Portal
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Charles Gillespie
Text:
Destroy any two lands.
, and all for 2R.

Sideboarding:

-4 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.

-1 Lay Waste
Lay Waste
Lay WasteSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
201
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Destroy target land.Cycling 2 (You may pay 2 and discard this card from your hand to draw a card. Play this ability as an instant.)

-1 Undead Gladiator
Undead Gladiator
Undead GladiatorSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie Barbarian
Rarity:
R
Number:
178
Artist:
Jeff Easley
Power:
3
Toughness:
1
Text:
1B, Discard a card from your hand: Return Undead Gladiator from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep.. Cycling 1B (1B, Discard this card from your hand: Draw a card.)

+3 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.

+3 Eastern Paladin
Eastern Paladin
Eastern PaladinSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Knight
Rarity:
R
Number:
133
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
BB, T: Destroy target green creature.


Undead Gladiator
Undead Gladiator
Undead GladiatorSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie Barbarian
Rarity:
R
Number:
178
Artist:
Jeff Easley
Power:
3
Toughness:
1
Text:
1B, Discard a card from your hand: Return Undead Gladiator from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep.. Cycling 1B (1B, Discard this card from your hand: Draw a card.)
seems like an obvious thing to take out again, to defend against 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.
, but it's not that cut and dry, as it blocks and kills Elephant
Elephant
ElephantSet: Garruk vs. Liliana
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elephant
Rarity:
C
Number:
3
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
tokens, crucial against a deck that runs Call and Elephant Guide
Elephant Guide
Elephant GuideSet: Judgment
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
U
Number:
111
Artist:
Jim Nelson

Text:
Enchanted creature gets +3/+3. When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard, put a 3/3 green Elephant creature token into play.
. Eastern Paladin
Eastern Paladin
Eastern PaladinSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Knight
Rarity:
R
Number:
133
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
BB, T: Destroy target green creature.
again rules the match though, G/W is helpless against him (and no, Glory
Glory
GlorySet: Judgment
Cost:
5
Color:
White
Sub Type:
Incarnation
Rarity:
R
Number:
11
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying 2W: Creatures you control gain protection from the color of your choice until end of turn. Play this ability only if Glory is in your graveyard.
is nowhere near enough, as it costs too much to activate, so they usually have trouble using it, especially since you can attempt to kill on their EOT step, countered by Glory
Glory
GlorySet: Judgment
Cost:
5
Color:
White
Sub Type:
Incarnation
Rarity:
R
Number:
11
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying 2W: Creatures you control gain protection from the color of your choice until end of turn. Play this ability only if Glory is in your graveyard.
? Fine, untap, do it again. The deck should *never* have 6 mana open against you...) if you hold back a single Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.
for their attempted Intrepid Hero
Intrepid Hero
Intrepid HeroSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Soldier
Rarity:
R
Number:
19
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T: Destroy target creature with power 4 or greater.
. Though G/W/r has ways to kill the Paladin, you can usually deny them the red mana neccessary to cast them.

If you're playing in an environment where this deck is known you have to sideboard differently though, namely because Sacred Ground
Sacred Ground
Sacred GroundSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
112
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Whenever an effect controlled by any opponent puts a land into your graveyard from play, put that land into play.
will wreck your deck if it gets out. If your local G/W players are using this nasty enchantment in numbers (3-4 copies) I'd recommend the following sideboard instead:

-2 Lay Waste
Lay Waste
Lay WasteSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
201
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Destroy target land.Cycling 2 (You may pay 2 and discard this card from your hand to draw a card. Play this ability as an instant.)

-1 Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.

-1 Braids
-4 Undead Gladiator
Undead Gladiator
Undead GladiatorSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie Barbarian
Rarity:
R
Number:
178
Artist:
Jeff Easley
Power:
3
Toughness:
1
Text:
1B, Discard a card from your hand: Return Undead Gladiator from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep.. Cycling 1B (1B, Discard this card from your hand: Draw a card.)

+3 Cabal Therapy
Cabal Therapy
Cabal TherapySet: Judgment
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
62
Artist:
Ron Spencer

Text:
Name a nonland card. Target player reveals his or her hand and discards from it all cards with that name. Flashback - Sacrifice a creature.

+3 Eastern Paladin
Eastern Paladin
Eastern PaladinSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Knight
Rarity:
R
Number:
133
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
BB, T: Destroy target green creature.

+2 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.


The idea of the deck has to alter, and you have to aggressively paris into a 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.
or Therapy in your opening hand (or a Fiend if going first) so that you can make sure Sacred Ground
Sacred Ground
Sacred GroundSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
112
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Whenever an effect controlled by any opponent puts a land into your graveyard from play, put that land into play.
doesn't hit you and negate the deck. That said, you still have to side out some of the land destruction, because if they get a lucky top deck the turn after you make them discard a Ground, you're going to want to reduce the number of worthless cards in your hand. The deck therefore turns more toward a black control style, with the idea being to establish control with Paladins zapping everything in sight long enough to get a win.

Honestly, the Sacred Ground
Sacred Ground
Sacred GroundSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
112
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Whenever an effect controlled by any opponent puts a land into your graveyard from play, put that land into play.
hating SB scheme is still in heavy flux though, it's a hard call to make concerning how much denial is enough, and how much land destruction it's appropriate to take out. Extensive playtesting is the only way to iron out these issues, and frankly, the G/W(/r) deck isn't being used much locally, so it's time I'm not willing to spend right now.

-----

Wake

As most people know by now, there are two versions of Wake, the Cunning
Cunning
CunningSet: Exodus
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
28
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Enchanted creature gets +3/+3.If enchanted creature attacks or blocks, sacrifice Cunning at end of turn.
one, which uses more counter-magic, and the Burning one, which tries to win via brute force with no hard counters. It should be no surprise to you at this point that the Cunning
Cunning
CunningSet: Exodus
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
28
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Enchanted creature gets +3/+3.If enchanted creature attacks or blocks, sacrifice Cunning at end of turn.
version is the harder match, but honestly, neither of them is in good shape against you.

Wake falls into several traps that other decks do; it uses fetchlands, it relies too much on counters which you can steal with denial spells, and it needs to play a high casting cost spell to win. All of these things conspire to make Wake a very bad deck against B/r Braids no matter what way you slice it.

Sideboarding:
-4 Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.

+3 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.

+1 Cabal Therapy
Cabal Therapy
Cabal TherapySet: Judgment
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
62
Artist:
Ron Spencer

Text:
Name a nonland card. Target player reveals his or her hand and discards from it all cards with that name. Flashback - Sacrifice a creature.


With nothing to Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.
unless you've already lost, the Scrying and single Therapy seem to be obvious changes.

-----

Clerics

Not much has been said about this archetype on the net yet, but it's seen a bit of play locally, and it's literally the nightmare match for this deck. Everything Clerics does is a direct negation of what B/r Braids is attempting to do.

You try to destroy land, they search for more with Weathered Wayfarer
Weathered Wayfarer
Weathered WayfarerSet: Onslaught
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nomad Cleric
Rarity:
R
Number:
59
Artist:
Greg & Tim Hildebrandt
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
W, T: Search your library for a land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play this ability only if an opponent controls more lands than you.
.

You try to kill all their creatures, they find an Oversold Cemetery
Oversold Cemetery
Oversold CemeterySet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
160
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have four or more creature cards in your graveyard, you may return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.
.

You try to get them in Braids lock, they use the Rotlung Reanimator
Rotlung Reanimator
Rotlung ReanimatorSet: Onslaught
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie Cleric
Rarity:
R
Number:
164
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever Rotlung Reanimator or another Cleric is put into a graveyard from play, put a 2/2 black Zombie creature token into play.
to give you fits.

You try to 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.
, they get Zombie tokens in trade, and can get back the other guys with Cemetery.

You try to beat their face in quickly with 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.
(s), they start preventing damage with Master Apothecary
Master Apothecary
Master ApothecarySet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
R
Number:
32
Artist:
Terese Nielson
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Tap an untapped Cleric you control: Prevent the next 2 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.
, and can actually negate the Shade.

You put out an Engineered Plague
Engineered Plague
Engineered PlagueSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
51
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
When Engineered Plague comes into play, choose a creature type.All creatures of the chosen type get -1/-1.
, they counter with a Shared Triumph
Shared Triumph
Shared TriumphSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
53
Artist:
Mark Brill
Text:
As Shared Triumph comes into play, choose a creature type. Creatures of the chosen type get +1/+1.
.

The deck literally has answers for every question you can ask, and the only way to win is to get them in complete Braids lock, because otherwise they'll top deck any of the 30 cards in their deck that can single-handedly beat you, and win.

To win a game requires incredible luck, to win a match requires something akin to divine providence, if this deck is being played in your metagame at all extensively, don't even think about playing B/r Braids, because you'll lose horrifically.

Sideboarding:

-2 Lay Waste
Lay Waste
Lay WasteSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
201
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Destroy target land.Cycling 2 (You may pay 2 and discard this card from your hand to draw a card. Play this ability as an instant.)

-2 Grinning Demon
Grinning Demon
Grinning DemonSet: Onslaught
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
R
Number:
153
Artist:
Mark Zug
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
At he beginning of your upkeep, you lose 2 life. Morph 2BB (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

-2 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.

+3 Engineered Plague
Engineered Plague
Engineered PlagueSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
51
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
When Engineered Plague comes into play, choose a creature type.All creatures of the chosen type get -1/-1.

+3 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.


This is the best sideboard I've come up with, 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.
is usually wasted unless you can snag a Triumph or COP, so taking a couple out is good. Lay Waste
Lay Waste
Lay WasteSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
201
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Destroy target land.Cycling 2 (You may pay 2 and discard this card from your hand to draw a card. Play this ability as an instant.)
just isn't cheap enough to contribute to an early rush, and the Demon
Demon
DemonSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
C
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Flying
is a liability to say the least.

Even with a double Plague in your opening hand, things generally aren't good. They bring in COP: Black and your only real hope is to steal the early ones with Fiend or 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 then Braids lock them. I know, you're taking out two 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.
, is that good? In fear of COP, no, but I don't think you have a realistic hope of winning this match without locking them out of land anyway, so stopping the card from hitting the table shouldn't be a high priority.

A better sideboarding scheme might exist, but I still don't think it'll likely be enough to make this match anything better than completely ugly.

-----

So that's B/r Braids in a nutshell. A few brief words on how to play the deck, and I'll end this article. The main thing to keep in mind with this deck is that it's a pure tempo deck, your optimal plays are disruption every turn for the first 5 turns of the game, at which point you take control of the match. Not many decks can take a 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.
, Fiend, Land Destruction, Braids opening, and this deck is very capable of doing that.

Against some decks you have to disrupt your hand denial tempo on turn 2 for Smother
Smother
SmotherSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
170
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can't be regenerated.
(Mongrel being obvious, since it fuels counter-magic, and more beasties) but against most you'll want to just keep up the early game barrage, and take a few hits in the process. Remember, life is a resource, and so what if a 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.
or Brushhopper is pounding you for 3 a turn for 4 or 5 turns? The important thing is to make sure the initial creature is all that they get, after you've destroyed the opponent's land, *then* worry about killing the pinger, and then win.

Playing this deck it's often easy to forget that it's a pure control deck, just not in the classic counter based format. Your job is to deny your opponent the opportunity to cast spells through land destruction and hand denial. And because of the fetchland mana bases, and lack of good counterspells it's incredibly dangerous in that regard. People didn't take this deck seriously when I first fielded it, but it's proven itself as a contender against the current Type II field, and I can't stress enough how fun it is to play.


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