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Double FOIL Witch-Maw FTW
By Eric Turgeon
It was just one of those drafts. You know the kind – when you don't really have a draft strategy or any other idea what the hell you're doing for that matter.

My first pick was Sunforger. I thought I could build a cool deck around it, with lots of off-color instants and sorceries. Plus Boros is one of those acceptable guilds to start off with. So I thought I was doing pretty well up to that point. And that's where it stopped.

Second pick: Tolsimir Wolfblood. Everyone say it with me: Don’t draft Selesnya in a Ravnica-Guildpact-Dissension draft. It never works out. Everyone knows that. Even I knew it at the time. So why'd I take him? First of all, I am and always will be a sucker for the gold expansion symbols. Second, this guy was a house for me at the Ravnica prerelease. He'd hit the board and I'd win. Every time. Of course, there's a big difference between a sealed event with all Ravnica packs and a draft with packs from three different sets. Not that it matters to me.

As the rest of the pack played out, I thought I could firmly entrench myself in a Selesnya-Boros deck. It's not great strategy, but it was a plan. I continued picking off the rares: Crown of Convergence, Chord of Calling (neither of which made the deck) and some nice cards in my colors, including a Conclave Equenaut, Veteran Armorer, Boros Recruit, Vhitu-Ghazi, Caregiver, Bath in Light, Gaze of the Gorgon and a Dromad Purebred. Yes, I consider Dromad Purebred a nice card in my colors. But only because I got it with the fifteenth pick of the pack, where it's considered a bargain. Also note that the fifteenth pick is the only pick where Dromad Purebred is considered a bargain. Every other pick, it sucks. I also snagged a Svogthos for some reason.

Pack two: Let's make this thing happen. I start out thinking Gruul, grabbing stuff like Silhana Ledgewalker, Skarrgan Skybreaker and Fencer's Magemark. Then I see it. FOIL Witch-Maw Nephilim. My favorite Nephilim. FOIL-ized. I debate the situation for a moment. He's not in my colors. On second thought, who cares? I'll consider this pick a wash. And guess what happens two picks later?

Another. FOIL. Witch-Maw. Nephilim. OMFG!!!!!

I take him. My deck's official colors have changed to GWUB. I am going to build around Double FOIL Witch-Maw Nephilim. Luckily, Guildpact still offers a lot in those colors. Shrieking Grotesque, Repeal, Runeboggle, Revenant Patriarch, Castigate. I also snag a FOIL Moratorium Stone, knowing full well that it ain't getting played. Three foils in one pack of one draft equals pretty darn spiffy.

Pack three: I am going to make this work. My guilds are Azorius / Simic. And black, which isn't a guild, but a color. (Do colors still exist? I think everything is just a guild now.) So I pick up some more filler material. I get some flying creatures in Beacon Hawk, Mistral Charger, and Freewind Equenaut. I get some control cards in Overrule, Plumes of Peace, Minister of Impediments and Seal of Doom. I get some more crap, which I apparently felt I didn't have enough of (Storm Herd? What was I thinking?)

Deckbuilding time: Let's do this thing. I cobble together a beastly neph-deck. The mana curve will give me nightmares for weeks to come. It's mostly white, I think. Or green. Or blue. One of those three. With a splash of black for the nephilims and the Seal. If I had to type a decklist, I'd do it something like this:

2 FOIL Witch-Maw Nephilim
1 Tolsimir
1 Overrule
1 Minister of Impediments
1 Plumes of Peace
1 Boros Recruit
1 Conclave Equenaut
1 Dromad Purebred (I have no idea. Don't ask)
1 Ghost Warden
1 Shrieking Grotesque
1 Veteran Armorer
1 Beacon Hawk
1 Freewind Equenaut
1 Mistral Charger
1 Repeal
1 Enigma Eidolon
1 Seal of Doom
1 Silhana Ledgewalker
1 Cytoplast Root-Kin
1 Indrik Stomphowler
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Simic Soap
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Vhitu-Ghazi
4 Forests
4 Islands
4 Plains
1 FOIL Plains
2 Swamps

So how'd I do?

Round 1
My first round opponent was playing a URG deck. He clobbered me in two straight games. The highlight of the match, for me, was casting a FOIL Witch-Maw Nephilim late in game two. The next turn, he attacked me for the win.

Record: 0-1, Overall: 0-2

Draft over.

But guess what? I've got two FOIL Witch-Maw Nephilims! Who cares about a stupid draft? Ninety percent of the games I play on MTGO are casual games against random opponents. Now I have two copies of my favorite nephilim in Magic. Oh yeah, and did I mention they're foil? That's tech. So now it's time to build a casual deck around two copies of a bad card.

Obviously, the first thing to do when building a deck is to come up with a name for it. So what do we know about it so far?
1) It's got two FOIL Witch-Maw Nephilims.
2) It's going to win by making those nephilims huge.
Therefore, the deck almost names itself: Double FOIL Witch-Maw FTW

The next step in deck construction is picking out what colors the deck should focus on. Witch-Maw Nephilim is blue, green, white, and black. Although the current Standard offers some really great red cards, like Kird Ape, Char and Unnatural Speed, chances are that excluding red is, in fact, the best idea. In fact, since our win condition is a four-color card, it's probably best to focus on the best color-fixing color – green. Naturally, we'll want lots and lots of great color-fixing cards, so let's go ahead and add them to the deck:
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Kodama's Reach
I'm also going to throw in one Birds of Paradise because that's how many I own and they're awesome.

Fantastic. Now that our colors are fixed, we need to get our nephilims into play. To do this, I'm going to suggest Congregation at Dawn. It's a green/white card, (just like the nephilim!) it can get any three creatures, and it's an instant. Cards are always better at instant-speed. Just compare:

Counterspell 1
UU
Instant
Counter target spell.

Counterspell 2
UU
Sorcery
Counter target spell.

See?

Moving on, our next goal is to load up our Witch-Maw Nephilim with a whole buttload of counters. To put a buttload of counters on the nephilim, we'll be required to cast one half of a buttload of spells. Unfortunately, no 60 card deck can contain a full buttload of spells, and certainly won't have time to cast them all. So we need a bunch of spells that we can keep casting and casting and casting.

Hmmm... I'll need some time to think about that one.

There's actually another problem that also needs to be addressed. Namely, the deck right now is slow and vulnerable. It takes time to fix one's mana proper-like, so it's important to have a distraction while we're building up our 157/157 nephilims.

So we have two problems at the moment.
1) We need to stall the game.
2) We need to cast a buttload of spells.

Well, I'm going to go ahead and one-up the situation. For two problems there are three solutions.
1) Kami of False Hope: sac to prevent all combat damage until EOT.
2) Death Denied: get X creatures out of the graveyard and into hand.
3) Hana Kami: Get back an arcane spell. Like Death Denied.

Cast Kami of False Hope. Prevent a ton of damage. Cast Death Denied, getting back the KoFH. Cast Hana Kami. Sacrifice it to get back Death Denied. Recast the KoFH. Prevent another round of damage. Cast Death Denied, getting back both spirits. Rinse. Repeat. Do not leave product in hair for more than five minutes. If you experience a burning sensation, discontinue use immediately.

If used correctly, the result will be an arbitrarily huge amount of combat damage being prevented plus an arbitrarily huge number of counters on the ol' Witch-Maw. See that 157/157 up there? I did not make that up. In fact, I think it was higher in the game, but that's when I stopped counting.

Now you might wonder, "Why were you still playing a game in which you had a 157-powered trampling creature?" Good question. The answer is Faith's Fetters. My poor, helpless, enormous creature could not attack. But that situation is easily remedied with a Nullmage Shepherd. She's green. She's in a deck with lots of creatures. We can find her at the congregation at dawn. And she gets rid of those pesky enchantments. And artifacts, if the situation calls for it.

At this point, the deck works. It's awesome. It's living up to its name. And, it has tons of room left for the fun stuff. So here's the filler:
Oathsworn Giant: What's better than a 157/157 trampling nephilim? A 157/159 trampling nephilim that doesn't tap when it attacks.
Carven Caryatid: The deck still needs some more speed bumps. So we'll add some large speed bumps that replace themselves when they come into play.
Golgari Guildmage: I ran into some problems with people removing my things from the game. This guy can instantly sacrifice creatures that would have been snagged by a Devouring Light or he can instantly pull someone out of the ground who's about to get hit by a Nezumi Graverobber. His second ability, adding +1/+1 counters, is pretty much useless in the deck, though. I can't think of any cards that work better with +1/+1 counters.
Simic Guildmage: The deck doesn't have any Auras, but this guy provides another solution to the whole Faith's Fetters problem. Again, I can't think of any reason to use that +1/+1 counter-related ability. Maybe someone else can think of something.
Putrefy: Utility that fits our colors. If I had a Mortify, I'd use that, too.
Privileged Position: Having opponents not targeting your stuff is awesome. For the budget-minded deckbuilder, a Plaxcaster Frogling will fit right in instead. Oh, right. That only works with the +1/+1 counters. Nevermind.

Now it's time to toss the cards together and come out with a final decklist. I'm going to include a couple of those sweet Ravnica dual lands to round out the deck:

Double FOIL Witch-Maw FTW
2 FOIL Witch-Maw Nephilim (For budget deckbuilders, you can use the non-foil versions. They're almost as effective.)
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Kodama's Reach
1 Birds of Paradise (For budget deckbuilders, the Birds can be replaced by any other card that doesn't already have four copies in the deck. Seriously, take your pick. It doesn't matter.)
3 Carven Caryatid
2 Nullmage Shepherd
3 Hana Kami
3 Kami of False Hope
2 Oathsworn Giant
2 Death Denied
3 Congregation at Dawn
3 Putrefy
2 Golgari Guildmage
1 Simic Guildmage
2 Privileged Position
10 Forest
5 Swamp
5 Plains
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Island

The total cost of the deck is like $7, if you drop out the Birds, switch out the Privileged Positions for Froglings, and refuse to haggle on card prices. Seriously. Only seven dollars. That's all. Because that's the way I roll.

The key to playing this deck is to make sure you get a good opening hand. A good opening hand includes both lands and non-land cards. After you have a good opening hand (don't be afraid to mulligan) put lands from your hand into play. As you get more lands into play, cast the spells in your hand that you can afford to pay for. Don't be afraid to sacrifice your Sakura-Tribe Elders if you need more lands. Eventually, you'll want to collect enough lands to cast a Witch-Maw Nephilim or two.

If you're getting your butt kicked at this point, try to stall the game with the Kami of False Hope / Hana Kami / Death Denied combo. Remember that you can fetch two of those cards with Congregation at Dawn. The other one, you'll have to wait for. Keep stalling the game until your nephilim's power is high enough to trample right over your entire opponent's army and hit him for 20. Then wait a turn. Then attack.

If you're already in the lead and sitting around with good board position, don't do anything. There's nothing more fun for your opponent than watching you collect massive amounts of counters on your nephilim, while he sits by helplessly. Try to see how many counters you can get on your nephilim. When you've had enough fun putting counters on your guy, start your combat phase, and say, "Double Foil Witch-Maw For The Win!"

Read More Articles by Eric Turgeon!

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