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Dark Crusade: the Winner
By Rob Myers
���The Dark Crusade Deckbuilding Contest is over at last. The decks have been made and played, and the judges� opinions weighed, and I just want it said that for this much work, we ought to get paid.

���And the winner is....

���Well, hold on just a moment. I want to type a little while before I give away the winner.

���Here�s the deal: While reviewing the Planeshift cards for my award-unwinning series, �Chaos Turtle�s Planeshift PreRelease Preview,*� I noticed, as I�m certain did many of you, a card called Dralnu�s Crusade. We all know by now that this 1RB enchantment makes your Goblins +1/+1 and Zombies to boot, right? Add that to the much-ballyhooed Lord of the Undead (hailed by some as �The real Zombie Master) and it seems that WotC R&D is trying to give us a hint.

���What�s the hint?
���Why, it�s �Psst! Play a Goblins-and-Zombies theme deck! We�ll back you up, yo!�
Not a very subtle hint, at that. With recently printed cards like Pyre Zombie, and the newly-made Phyrexian Scuta, it�s a little hard to miss.

���And so on.

���Being the kind, generous, and all-around amazing guy that I am, I thought to myself, �Since I�m too lazy to build this deck on my own, I should get someone else to do it.� And that is how I hatched my little plan to make other people do my work for me. Naturally, people don�t like to do work for no reward whatsoever, so I tossed out a little bone: the first foil card I opened from Planeshift, to the creator of the best deck. When I announced that my first Planeshift foil was a rare one,** the entries came a-rollin� in.

���So here we are.

���Let me tell you a little something about the decks that were selected as finalists. (Click Here to download all the decks in Apprentice .txt.dec format)

�Undead Mogg = Good Mogg,� submitted by Andrej Awgustow, was my personal favorite of the bunch.

quote:
NAME: Undead Mogg = Good Mogg v1.3 - Andrej Awgustow

Lands to power that nonsense (22)
2 Rishadan Port
12 Mountain
4 Sulfurous Springs
4 Swamp

Creatures (mostly Goblins) (24)
4 Raging Goblin
4 Mogg Sentry
4 Mogg Jailer
4 Goblin Elite Infantry
4 Slingshot Goblin
4 Goblin King

Ultimate Creature Pump Spell in Type II (4)
4 Dralnu's Crusade

Some removal to spice it up (10)
4 Terminate
3 Ghitu Fire
3 Seal of Fire

The Sideboard
2 Ankh of Mishra
2 Flashfires
3 Urza's Rage
4 Chimeric Idol
4 Perish



���Andrej (known at the CPA as Lotus Mox) was clearly serious about making this deck work in the coming Standard environment. In his submission notes, he wrote:
quote:
�This deck lacks a bit originality(really it does, there's no funky Arms Dealer/Squee or Mogg Catcher/Shrieking Mogg combo included )
It's quite fast and hits hard, the real problem is that there's no enchantment removal in R/B, so maybe Darigaaz Lair + Hull Breach might be more viable, but I just don't like the idea of a beatdown 3 color deck.�

���I liked this deck's mana curve, and the selection of creatures (thuogh some judges took issue with the inclusion of Goblin Elite Infantry). The Seals and Ghitu Fires were often appreciated as well, especially against the other submitted decks. Featuring an array of cheap Goblins, it�s built for beating. The deck eschews any fancy combo stuff for a straightforward stomping, which it often accomplishes. Despite being slightly out-of-theme (zero zombies and zombie lords, not counting the crusade's side-effect) it manages to put up a fight against a lot of decks. Of the beatdown-approach decks, it was, in judge David Sutcliffe�s words, �the most convincing.�

���I would have liked to have seen a three-color version of this deck, since the lack of enchantment removal made it helpless against the speedy, ruthless thrashing known as �Fires,� but Andrej is certainly correct that going three-color probably would not have worked out any better.

���Next up, Eric Olander�s deck.

quote:
NAME: Dark Crusade - Eric Olander

Lands
4 Sulfurous Springs
4 Urborg Volcano
7 Mountain
7 Swamp

creatures
4 Goblin Digging Team
4 Shivan Zombie
4 Pyre Zombie
4 Lord of the Undead
4 Goblin King
2 Zombie Master
4 Mogg Jailer
4 Mogg Sentry

other
4 Terminate
4 Dralnu's Crusade



���Now this is certainly a right-to-the-point beatdown approach. It gets to work on turn 2 with a variety of two-drop Zombies and Goblins. The Goblin-Zombies occasionally reach 5/5, and Pyre Zombie recursion is used to maintain some control over the board. Unfortunately, the 10 Lords actually get in the way of that work, as they are all too easily killed, and the Zombies themselves won't benefit from the Dralnu�s Crusade at all. A surprising choice that a few judges questioned, Goblin Digging Team actually saves some games where the other decks would have just died, such as when the opponent played a Flowstone Wall.
Yes, people really are playing Flowstone Wall these days. No, I don�t get it either.

���I wasn't really struck with the deck's creativity, but it can win when it gets lucky, and if the opponent isn't playing anything with R/G enchantments and Blastoderms in it.

���Our next finalist, Christopher Clause, submitted a deck with a similar approach, with less emphasis on the Lords.

quote:
NAME: Dark Crusade - Christopher Clause

required
4 Dralnu's Crusade

Creatures
4 Pyre Zombie
2 Moggcatcher
2 Lord of the Undead
2 Zombie Master
2 Goblin King
2 Goblin Recruiter
3 Goblin Warrens
4 Raging Goblin
2 Goblin Digging Team
2 Mogg Toady
2 Arms Dealer

other
2 Phyrexian Scuta
2 Deadapult

land
15 Mountain
10 Swamp



���Judge Nick Saviskoff: �I really liked this deck, it was definitely thought out better then some of the others because it didn't go overboard on anything and made full use of the Crusade and all the Lords. I also liked the selection of the Goblin Digging Teams in it. It even plays smoothly.only thing that could possibly really help this deck is a Squee or two with one less warrens. �

���Again, Goblin Digging Teams turn out to be secret tech against annoying walls, which can stop decks like these cold. The deck plays a lot like arhar's deck (reviewed next), sporting a variety of Goblins and Zombies. Having only two of each Lord means more room for creatures which actually do the dirty work of killing the opponent. With a �Little bit of this, and a little bit of that,� the deck is surprisingly consistent.

���The next Finalist deck is from Mr. �Multiplayer Games� himself, (arhar).

quote:
NAME: Bring Out Your Dead - arhar

The "combo" engine, used to zombify Goblins and throw them at the opponent or his/her creatures
4 Dralnu's Crusade
4 Deadapult
4 Arms Dealer

The three rulers of the united kingdom of Goblins and Zombies
1 Zombie Master
1 Goblin King
1 Lord of the Undead

The scary and unexplainable ritual
1 Midnight Ritual

Although there are many "volunteers" for the crusade, catchers are used to get those who somehow got lost on the way
4 Moggcatcher
4 Goblin Recruiter

Fearless Goblin who laughs at zombifying and always comes back
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob

Generals of the Zombie army
2 Phyrexian Scuta

Dralnu liked the idea of Squee coming back and improved on it
4 Pyre Zombie

No war is without casulaties
3 Gravedigger

He always comes back (see the theme yet? )
3 Gravebane Zombie

The Brave.. The Stupid.. The Heroes! Cannon fodder of
4 Goblin Hero
4 Raging Goblin

Always need it
4 Sulfurous Springs
4 Urborg Volcano
10 Swamp
10 Mountain



���This fun and freaky design was popular with most of the judges, who appreciated the variety of critters, as well as the combo-ish possibilities provided. Emphasizing the Crusade/Deadapult interaction, which tries to keep opposing creatures under control, and later pitches �Zomblins� right at the opponents.

���Trying to maintain a kind of storyline theme, the three Lords, along with Squee, get the �legendary� treatment, with a one-per-deck showing. This actually works pretty well, with the Lords staying out of the way until you�re ready for them to give their boost; and Squee is fetched with the Goblin Recruiter or Moggcatcher, then repeatedly pitched via Arms Dealer or Deadapult, or simply put into play, valiantly defending you against Blastoderm, turn after turn.

���Midnight Ritual turns a late-game mass grave into a load of Zombies that can either overrun an opponent or be loaded up into the Deadpult and launched, flaming, onto your opponent�s troops...or into his face.

���Bulging at 73 cards, it's the very definition of a casual theme deck, which we liked. It does share the problem that most of the decks had of getting started a bit slowly though, and the inconsistency of draws begins to wear on the nerves after awhile.

���Our last Finalist is Russell Sherman, with a deck that combines some of the best features of the others.

quote:
NAME: Dark Crusade - Russell Sherman

1 Keldon Necropolis
17 Mountain
2 Urborg Volcano
4 Sulfurous Springs
2 Rishadan Pawnshop
2 Goblin King
4 Goblin Warrens
3 Deadapult
4 Moggcatcher
3 Squee, Goblin Nabob
4 Shrieking Mogg
3 Mogg Jailer
4 Mogg Sentry
3 Mogg Alarm
4 Dralnu's Crusade



���Judge David Sutcliffe had quite a bit to say about Russell(Duel)�s deck:

�The decks were all falling into one of two categories - either they played a long game with Deadapults, or tried to rush and use the Crusade part of the deck, of these two deck types I more naturally leant towards the slower type as I felt it would be much more interesting to play with or against. The faster decks were pretty good [but] the fact that none of the aggressive decks were particularly groundbreaking in terms of t2 viability meant I was more inclined than ever to award points on the basis of how well the deck manipulated the theme and was interesting to play, as opposed to how good it was.
Fortunately, the last deck I looked at was both interesting, AND the best deck in the field.

���Russell Sherman`s deck uses all the best tricks that the other players had used, but there is a fairly blatant use of some solid MBC technology, and I`m willing to bet that he was paying attention during the MBC tournaments as he was the only person to use Shrieking Mogg, and also to support it with the Rishadan Pawnshop - his use of Mogg Alarm also allows him to beat down very rapidly and, in all, I actually feel that I really LIKE his deck...
In the opinion of the Gizmo jury, the runaway deckbuilding winner (and deserving winner of the competition) is Russell Sherman, with his deck: 'My Goblins may be dead, but they`re going down shrieking!'"

���I liked it too, but I did have a little problem with the lack of early-game removal, which made the deck vulnerable to most rush-beatdown decks.

���Okay, enough of all that.

���The general feeling I got from the results of this contest is that there is plenty of room for the Casual Player to have lots of fun with this theme. It�s too bad that we haven�t got the cards available right now to make this deck a viable Type 2 force, but that might change with the next set. Primarily lacking are efficient small creatures...and truly intimidating big ones (the Scuta could be scary if not for the decks' being so slow to defend themselves, and that fat Zombie eating 3 life just to be worthwhile). Being black/red is a drawback, too, since there are lots of more playable cards in those colors that wouldn�t be caught dead in the same deck as a �fun� card, much less a deck full of them.

���Ah, well, onward and upward.

���Time to announce the winner!

���Before we do that though, I want to say �Thank You!� to everyone who submitted a deck. There were fourteen decks in all, a turnout which bolstered my self-esteem. It made me feel so loved, and I know the promise of a foil rare had very little -- if anything -- to do with it. �You like me! You really like me!�

���Oh, and �Thank You!�

���To solidify my position as �Coolest, Nicest, Most Generous, and -- above all -- Best-Looking Writer/Editor of a Major Magic Website, Whether You Realize It or Not� I�m announcing that there are two consolation prizes being awarded.

���One is for the deck which I liked the best. Thus, Andrej Awgustow is the winner of a foil Lightning Dart.

���The second is because the judges didn�t come to a consensus on who the real winner was. The vote turned out to be a tie!

���Now, I could have broken the tie by picking my favorite of the two top vote-getters, but I thought it would be more fun to see them fight it out. So I pitted them against each other in a brutal Fight Club-style one-on-one best-of-three thrash-fest. After the dust settled, a strictly casual deck lay tattered and bleeding on the floor. Since it won one of the three games though, it deserves a swift kick in the ribs...and a foil Ancient Kavu. Congratulations, arhar.

����He fell down some steps.�

���Which which leaves us with our winner.

���Before I tell you, though...(only kidding, kidding).

���Of course, it�s Russell Sherman�s Deck, �Dralnu�s Fund-Raiser!� Congratulations, Russell, and look for your foil Planewalker�s Mischief in the post-box.

���That�s it for now, dear readers.
���Peace, love, and .agic.

Rob
Chaos Turtle

Special Thanks (for judging) to:

David Sutcliffe (Gizmo)
Nick Saviskoff (Ura)
Russell Sherman (Duel)
Cody Fox (Darsh
arhar (superguy)
and
That One Guy (Cateran Emperor)


Very Special Thanks (for providing the main prize) to:

Jensen Bohren (theorgg)

No thanks at all to:

All y�all who volunteered for judging but never sent in your reports/votes. (yes, you)

*(I'd spare you the link, since Certain Uppity Internet Writers have made it clear that just about everyone who writes such dreck is a Complete F***ing Moron...ah, heck with'em.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

**(Since an unfortunate timing incident prevented my attending the Planeshift PreRelease, the prize was the first foil opened by our own Orgg...thanks again!�
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WHAT HAPPEN!
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SOMEBODY SET UP US THE BOMB!
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WE GET SIGNAL.
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WHAT!
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MAIN SCREEN TURN ON.
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���
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IT�S YOU!!
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HOW ARE YOU GENTLEMEN!!!
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ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US.
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���
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YOU ARE ON THE WAY TO DESTRUCTION.
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YOU HAVE NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE MAKE YOUR TIME.
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���
(the truth is right here)
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...spread the message...

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