Deck List: Cascading Haste

The new Magic set, Alara Reborn, has a new mechanic making a lot of buzz: cascade, in which when you play a spell with cascade, you can play another spell of lesser value – but (usually) selected randomly from your library – for free. Every Magic player loves to play things for free, right? So I had to build a deck with this.

Of course, it took practically no time for someone to come up with a tournament-competitive deck using cascade, which is surely a lot better than my deck. But what the heck.

This deck is based around what seems to be the most popular cascade card, Bloodbraid Elf. The main feature of Bloodbraid Elf is that it’s a 3/2 with haste. So I decided to build a deck around creatures with haste:

2 1(rg) 1/1 Tattermunge Witch
4 RR 1/1 Slith Firewalker
4 RG 2/2 Rip-Clan Crasher
2 2G 2/2 Primal Forcemage
1 1RR 4/2 Viashino Sandstalker
1 1GG 2/2 Eternal Witness
4 (rg)(rg)(rg) 3/3 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 2RG 3/2 Bloodbraid Elf
22 Creatures
4 1G   Seal of Primordium
3 1R   Incinerate
3 RG   Colossal Might
3 2R   Puncture Blast
3 1GG   Gaea’s Anthem
16 Other Spells
3     Fire-Lit Thicket
3     Shivan Oasis
8     Mountain
8     Forest
22 Lands

My goal in building this deck was to minimize the number of cards I could cascade into which would ever be unplayable. Since our metagame makes enchantment and artifact removal a must – especially since this is a largely creature-based deck – I needed a Naturalize-like card, and the enchantment Seal of Primordium was perfect for that. I also like Incinerate and the withering Puncture Blast to clear the way for the creatures. Colossal Might is really the only card which might not be playable (since it can’t target the cascading Elf), but it’s so useful in pumping up the relatively small creatures that I wanted to use it.

With all the hasted creatures, Primal Forcemage is quite potent (and if an Elf cascades into it, then it pumps up the Elf!) – especially with Viashino Sandstalker. Tattermunge Witch provides an outlet for any extra mana and a way to run over blocking creatures.

In play, the deck is a little under-landed – deliberately, since no spell costs more than 4 – and it lacks a true finisher, or a way to deal with big threats. It might do pretty well in duels, but it runs out of steam in multiplayer, relying on drawing 1 or 2 elves for card advantage.

When I rework it, I think it needs a finisher, like Overrun. But larger spells would require more mana. (And then there’s Protean Hulk, which seemed like a great idea when I thought of it, except that creatures fetched when it dies don’t get played, they get put into play, so their Cascade abilities wouldn’t trigger. Alas.)

I’m not sure what I think of the Slith Firewalkers. They’re so vulnerable until they get going. Then again, any 3-cost creature with haste is going to be relatively wimpy; the Boggart Ram-Gangs are really the best you can do in that category.

So it’s an interesting base to start from, but I’m not sure how much potential the deck really has. It is fun to play out a lot of hasted creatures, though, so I’ll tinker with it a bit to see what I can do with it.

(Incidentally, the deck is pretty close to being Standard-legal. Swap in Hell’s Thunder and Jund Hackblade, and replace the Seals and Gaia’s Anthems with something appropriate – more burn, perhaps – and it would probably work pretty similarly. The big loss would be the Primal Forcemage effect.)

Deck List: Giantbaiting Warriors

Kicking off my occasional series of Magic deck lists is this mono-green beatdown deck based on Jacob Van Lunen’s “Dear Giantbaiting” deck. For an explanation of the environment I play my decks in, read this.

My deck is largely similar to his, but I did make several changes:

4 G 1/1 Essence Warden
3 G 2/2 Nettle Sentinel
4 1G 2/2 Bramblewood Paragon
1 1G 4/3 Talara’s Battalion
4 2G 2/2 Imperious Perfect
2 (rg)(rg)(rg) 3/3 Boggart Ram-Gang
1 2GG 4/4 Chameleon Colossus
1 3GGG 3/3 Nacatl War-Pride
20 Creatures
2 XG   Hurricane
3 1G   Naturalize
4 3   Obsidian Battle-Axe
4 2(rg)   Giantbaiting
2 3G   Hunting Triad
2 2GG   Harmonize
1 2GGG   Overrun
18 Other Spells
1     Treetop Village
21     Forest
22 Lands

The neat thing about Van Lunen’s deck is that it’s built around a single card – Giantbaiting – but the cards it uses to enable that card also fit together very nicely, so it’s actually a pretty potent deck even if you never draw Giantbaiting, because ultimately it’s built around Elves and Warriors, who play together quite well.

The major changes I made to the deck are these:

  • I took out the mana-generating elves (Llanowar Elves, Boreal Druid). This deck is pretty cheap – only 2 spells cost more than 4 mana, and it runs only 22 lands – so I was rarely happy when I drew one.
  • In multiplayer, the original deck didn’t have a lot of staying power; it would stall out easily. To mitigate this, I added some Essence Wardens, since life gain works well in multiplayer, and works well with Giantbaiting, too. This tends to let me stick around to try to reload if I stall out, and I added to Harmonizes to help me reload.
  • Our environment tends to have lots of enchantments and artifacts, so Naturalize was needed. (Beatdown decks are really sad if they get thwarted by Ensnaring Bridge or Meekstone.
  • The deck needed some sort of damage-dealer, so I went with 2 Hurricanes.
  • Chameleon Colossus, Talara’s Battalion and Nacatl War-Pride are there to add some beef. Arguably I could replace any or all of them with Wren’s Run Vanquisher (which Van Lunen used). I’m not sure whether the Vanquisher or the Battalion is the better card.

Ideally the first few turns involve dropping Essence Wardens, Nettle Sentinels and Bramblewood Paragons, before either playing Giantbaiting or re-stocking with Harmonize.

This deck destroys opponents who start slowly; turn 3 or 4 Giantbaiting can put another player on the ropes even in multiplayer when unblocked. The Obsidian Battle-Axes are a little hard to use without the elvish mana acceleration, but they also tend to draw opponents’ Disenchants and Naturalizes in our game, so their utility is somewhat limited.

Bramblewood Paragon and Imperious Perfect both make Chameleon Colossus devastating, since he’s pro-black and too big for many burn spells.

I keep hoping I can play a Bramblewood Paragon/Obsidian Battle-Axe/Nacatl War-Pride combo sometime just for fun, but it hasn’t happened yet. A second Chameleon Colossus would probably be better anyway, but I don’t actually own one. But I have managed to swing for 18 in one turn with Giantbaiting (and that was after they Naturalized the Battle-Axe).

I’ll probably play around with the high-end creatures a bit (candidates include Jedit Ojanen of Efrava, Roughshod Mentor, or even Sosuke, Son of Seshiro), or see if I can add some sort of removal (a challenge in a green deck), but the core of the deck is pretty solid, and a lot of fun to play.