Decktalk „Deadguy Ale“

Most of us have vivid memories of their first booster pack, or mostly starter pack in 1994, and what was revealed sometimes tied us for a color or theme forever. I do remember my French exchange student who not only made me listen to Nirvana for the first time, but showed me his UR Deck and with his magical enthusiasm convinced me to buy into the game. Off we went to the local game store and exchanged pocket money for a starter and three boosters. Wow, was I fascinated by the Shivan Dragon that roared out of the pack, and kind of frowned upon the immediate urge to trade with Vincent who absolutely wanted my Serendib Efreet. He got it, and I was guided to build my first deck. The limited card pool held some WB build for me, and I remember how cool that Hypnotic Specter was, who stole cards from my opponent before getting bolted. And Serra Angel. Sure she looked kind of queer and cheesy to a 13 year old boy, but she had vigilance (a term to be invented later) and blocked that nasty looking Efreet for good. Here it was: a first love for Black and White, that was crushed very soon: too hard to play for all that double colored mana and no clue about a solid mana base. I went on with my quest to build solid Type 1.5 decks, started to collect Duals for their weird look, learned that Serendib and Sedge Troll do have an edge, and even spotted a real Juzam Djinn in a folder. The owner asked for 80DM at that time, about 60USD in 1995 (or about 100USD adjusted for inflation in 2021). It would have been to brash to buy it for that small pocket money I had. 

In Summer 1996 I quit MTG for other adolescent adventures, but I kept my cards, all of them, neatly packed in a folder and a box, that I rediscovered in 2011, thoroughly fascinated again. In early 2018 my old friends from school, now all settled men, delved into old school magic, and hey: even when our start was Revised or Foreign unlimited edition and our P9 are mostly from IE and CE, we’re deep in love with the format and organized the (EC rules) Miracle Worker cup in Frankfurt/Germany when live magic was possible.

Still today I do love the WB color combo that in the 2000s years got dubbed Deadguy Ale, apparently. I don’t know who coined the term, and if someone out there has some anecdote for me I’d be most grateful to read it. WB for me ist a perfect combination of the best disruption and removal that Old School can offer. And some version of Deadguy Ale, I learned, is known in every format, from Old School, to Legacy, to Modern, to Premodern. 

It surly rocks and delivers as a sturdy Midrange deck, with #sinkhole #hymntotourach and #hypnoticspecter as disruptive forces, #disenchant #swordstoplowshares as sweet removal and some #sengirvampire #underworlddreams and #su-chi beef for your opponent to chew. 

Add the notorious #stripmine and #mishra’sfactory playsets and off we go. 

The only weak point to my perception is what most mid-range decks lack: speed (only delivered through Dark Ritual) – do you guys see or experience other weaknesses? 

The sideboard – besides the CoPs and Divine Offerings and Terror – holds some surprise action in form of #disruptingscepter #kismet and #icymanipulator that I am eager to test against The Deck.

Thank you for reading and I am most open for any feedback, notably: who played some sort of Deadguy Ale and wants to share his thoughts?

Besides Juzam Djinn – obviously – what do you guys think are good options and add-ons for your preferred #deadguyalemtg ?

Decktalk „A Void Thing“

Lately I got thoroughly fascinated with Nether Void and did some research on deck options. As I cultivate a secret crush for underdog color combo Green and Black since my youth, it was decided to assemble a Golgari Void deck. And  oh boy, if old schoolers have a natural tendency to pity non-Blue brews for lack of Power, this one here will teach them a lesson: Void Thing has flavor and impact!

Let’s start with the name giving card: Nether Void puts everything in disorder and most decks will not be amused once every spell they play is countered unless 3 colorless are paid. Playsets of Crumble and Ice Storms don’t make their lives easier, and also handle the notorious Mishra’s.

Talking Mishra’s: Together with Uncle Juzam they make for a nasty win con, supported by 4 Black Vise that really start to hurt once the Void is set and the hand fills up with cards. If you get locked by your own Void which happens regularly, make sure to ditch an Ivory Tower and enjoy the Life Point breeze while building up your mana base with help of Sylvan Library.

I came to reduce my Removal ratio Main Board as the local meta tends to make creatures a rare breed, and opted for 1 Maze of Ith (1-2 more in SB) and 2 Drop of H(oney) – the latter being such a brilliant answer to Aggro… „come lick the honey weenie“

And the ultimate fun card? Storm Seeker! Bam!! 1 Main Board and 2 Side Board are set. Why? Besides creatures and Black Vise it is a third damage source, a surprise finisher that no one expects and… such a nasty move after opponent casts his Ancestral.

Other Sideboard options besides Maze of Ith and Storm Seeker might be Gloom against White, Terror against creatures, Scavenger Folk against artifacts and Erhnam Djinn in case Uncle Juzam needs some help.

Decktalk B „Reanimator“

Today I’d like to share a Reanimation Decklist with you that reaped our Most Creative Brew award at the 2nd Miracle Worker Cup in Autumn 2018. Axel is a prime deck architect who always values a good tech twist over raw outperformance, so this is what he came up with.

Obviously the deck is built around Bazaar of Baghdad and All Hallow’s Eve, where the Bazaar puts your nasty creatures in the graveyard fast and most efficiently. No other card can replace Bazaar for reanimation purposes. The second most flavorful and effective card you’ll need is the Eve, one of (or indeed) the first suspend spell MTG has seen. Unless countered your opponent will not be able to stop your graveyard from being revived.

Concerning the pack of monsters Axel chose mighty Juzám that could be hard cast also with a silly Dark Ritual + Mox first turn. Triskelion and Tetravus are bad company for your adversary once resurrected and Yawgmoth Demon is full of flavor and a bad boy indeed.

The list is completed with Power, some Animate Dead in case All Hallow’s Eve is delayed and a Library of Leng that gives the opportunity to put discarded cards back on top of its owners library. You might have noticed that the deck misses one of the nastiest black cards – Mind Twist? Well, that’s Axels personal choice and reveals his character: „I just don’t like it being played on me, so I don’t play it on others“

Decktalk „LockAtog“

Lately Atog Decks have become en vogue, so I’d like to grant the Old School community an Atog architecture that has some special twist: the LockAtog.

Personally I think it is the Italians who made Atog decks great again, and while we continue to see lots of Atog brews where the strategy built around our lil‘ red brownie muncher focuses on the so called „smash“ theme with Juggernauts, Su-Chi, Triskelion and a decent burn suite, we witnessed a slightly different approach from Valerio at Noobcon X where he landed Top 8 with his SerendibAtog build, tuning a traditionally mono red artifact architecture with Psi Blast, Effreets and blue power spells.

When I started thinking about an Atog theme a couple of weeks ago I was especially inspired by a good friends prison deck and his mighty and notoriously hated Winter Orb / Relic Barrier combo – a combo that could easily be played in the low mana curve Atog deck I was about to design.

The good thing about Atog decks are the diversified damage sources: artifacts, creatures and burn spells. An opponent will have difficulties handling all of them, so you attack from different angles in early game and install a late game lock to stop your opponent and buy enough time to draw the finisher, i.e. Atog or cheap burn.

Artifacts first: with the help of Moxes, Lotus and 2 Mana Vault one or two early round Black Vise can be quite common here; together with an early Ankh of Mishra those cards alone will easily eat half of your opponents life. Then it’s time for a Su-Chi before getting your Winter Orb / Relic Barrier lock in place.

Meanwhile an Atog might show up and say a frightening „hulloh!“ – of course your opponent will send him to exile or burn him, but in late game we might have one of his siblings, and when he comes… he comes big thanks to the 4 or 5 Artifacts on your side

LockAtog proved to be quite versatile against control as well as aggro decks. A decent sideboard might include REBs, Shatters, Blood Moons, Earthquakes, a Fireball and – depending on your adversary – even Howling Mines that work well with Relic Barrier too.

(Budget-)Decktalk „DragonFlare“

This is DragonFlare –  straightforward no excuses #monoredburn at its best.

Featuring 1 Detonate, three Shatter main and 3 Shatterstorm in Sideboard because red traditionally hates #mtgartifacts and everybody seems to be flooding the board with Su-Chi, Juggernaut and Fellwar Stones these days besides the notorious Power Artifacts.

Else this #mtgoldschool deck features the iconic #manaflare for abundant mana and mighty #bloodmoon   to transform all those duals into beautiful Mountains. The win condition is a fierce mix of a hell lot of #burnspells and #mtgdeck name giving #shivandragon and her lil #dragonwhelp – all of which will strive with the Mana Flare.

Three #mtgfork for responsiveness, three #balllightning for surprise and that’s about it.

DragonFlare starts with building a mana base while keeping small enemy creatures in check with Bolts and Chain Lightning, shattering Mishra’s Factory, forking Hymns and/or Ancestrals; and dropping the casual Ball Lightning to inflict damage.

Second phase of DragonFlare is playing Mana Flare with another Fork in hand to avoid being burned first when handing over the turn. With abundance in red Mana we play Dragon Whelps and Shivan Dragon and pump up the Volume; or we just finish with a decent Fireball for 10+

Sideboarding Shatterstorm against Artifact heavy decks, or Black Vise against  Control decks, Earthquake against Weenies, and Red Elemental Blast against anything Blue.

Playing DragonFlare is easy to learn, can be assembled as a budget deck (without the Mox Ruby) for under 100€ and is a hell lotta fun.

Decktalk „The Rodeo Deck“

How can you balance aggressiveness and responsiveness, vehemence in killing and creativity in staying alive? How is a deck possible that is non-linear enough to be full of forward options and defensive answers?

Finding answers to these questions led to building the „Rodeo“ deck: a White & Green body that is strengthened with artifacts and a basic red burn suite – and optionally refined with black and blue power splashes.

At its very core „Rodeo“ works as White Green red mid-range deck, where you hold fast with cheap removal and build ground with a broad Mana base to bring out your midrange beaters and your opponent to his knees in the late game.

Starting with the body or core of the deck: 3 Erhnam Djinns and 3 Serra Angels form an army with a play set of mighty Su-Chi to steadily make your opponent fall. But you will have to stay alive until that army builds.

We have Sylvan Library and the tome for tuning your draw step and indispensable white removal to keep early threats at bay.

A broad mix from Duals, Fellwar Stones, Moxen and Lotus helps to develop your mana base while red burn spells harmonize the balance between defense and offense.

In recent play testing this deck earned its name „Rodeo“ for holding fast while White Weenies and Black threats flooded the early board. Red burn, white power suit and Su-Chi made those aggro horses lame and tired, and even  a ratio of 5 to 28 life points had been reversed to a late game win after Rodeo took its Angels out for a fast ride home.

Variations: For those who are not (fully) powered: You can always replace Moxen with lands, and Lotus with Mana Vault. This deck also perfectly works as a 4 color variant without the blue splash by replacing Ancestral Recall and Time Walk with another Lightning Bolt and another Swords to Plowshares. Also: for the Mana Curve it could make sense to replace 2 Fellwar Stones with Birds of Paradise.





Decktalk „Green Machine Head“

Attempting a green Deck in Old School will often yield a smile from more seasoned players. In the Top Tiered league of UWR Skies, Juzam Dreams, The Deck and the like Green is rarely featured. Actually a pity because Green can do a lot for you. It has this perfect mix of mana ramp, big beaters and spells to protect or tune your weapons.  Nevertheless you will learn that splashing red for Burn and Sideboard Options as well as the 2 black power spells is indispensable to make Green fit for tournament.

The Deck we present today has been named „Green Machine Head“ in reference to the classy Old School Machine Head combo Juzam Djinn + Berserk. Other names this deck attracted was „Green Party Crasher“ or simply „The Green Machine“.

The core are 8 mighty fast beaters, i.e. Doc Erhnam Djinn and his artifact cousin Juggernaut, two 4 mana creatures you will most likely drop in turn 2 or 3 at latest thanks to the power of ramp: 4 Llanowar Elves, 2 Birds of Paradise, 1 Elves of Deep Shadow as well as Moxes, Lotus and/or Mana Vault.

With the help of 4 Giant Growth and 2-3 Berserk your Green Machine gets awfully big and will destroy everything that comes in the way, or just reduce your opponents life total to 0 in minutes. 1-2 Avoid Fate might prove useful to defend your Juggernaut who notoriously attracts Disenchant and Lightning Bolt.

The 2 Spitting Slugs proved to be essential: as 3 drops they perfectly fit the mana curve, they are Lightning Bolt prove and they will easily block Mishra’s Factory, White/Black Knights and Kird Apes.

Finally a small collection of basic red burn spells as well as Demonic Tutor and Mind Twist are included to harmonize the Deck.

At the latest tournament the „Green Machine Head“ landed Top 4.

(Budget-)Decktalk „Goblin Festival“

Well, here’s a mono red favorite of ours for a kick start into the deck talk section of this blog.

Yeah you got it right, it’s a super fast mono red, aggro Goblin festival, where 12 goblin one drops build the base, to be tuned in turn 2 and 3 with Goblin Grenade, Blood Lust and Goblin King to inflict fast big damage. There’s artillery support from Ball Lightning and 10 burn spells, and… that’s kind of about it. In recent testing the 2 main decked Blood Moon proved to be essential to break a control deck and enable Goblins of the Flarg to sneak through Mountain walk – but let’s be frank here:  you should be done with your opponent in 4 or 5 turns. Once an adversary will steady himself with some control features or blow a disk in turn 4 or 5 you can be pretty sure to be dead meat in the long term, unless you draw your Wheel of Fortune.

To sum it up: This deck is fun and it is fast, but surely it is very linear and has next to zero turnaround capacity. With all that fast damage and burn to finish you will have quite good odds though. And hey: this is a budget deck that is perfect for a primer into the world of old school magic.