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Subject: The Gauntlet of Kings: Playing Magic's most famous decks rss

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General Norris
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I have to say I wanted to build a cube to play Magic casually with my friends but it wasn't too appealing to me. While the idea of being able to get all the fun cards and have infinite variety was amazing, the truth is that none of my friends wanted to draft and would rather have a deck handed to them. So I wondered. What about giving them those decks? And why not make those decks incredibly amazing to play against each other?

This was a realization. While playing actual decks is nice, getting decks just to play casually with each other let's you put all kind of crazy stuff in it that doesn't quite work in modern times. You can fight Trix against Ichorid or Parfait against Tooth and Nail even when they didn't exist within the same card pool or time continium. You can play Necropotence before it turned horrible broken or play a proxied version of The Deck without having to compete against first turn combos. We can then call it the Gauntlet of Kings

So I went and made some guidelines to pick up decks:

1) The decks should be real lists from Magic tournaments. No tweaking is neccesary, you can just choose a slighty different list.

2) No broken decks. So no Academy, Tinker or Memory Jar. The goal is to have fun and gams with those around aren't exactly fun.

3) No metagame decks, no fast combo: Variety and balance first! The idea is to play these decks against each other a lot of times.

With that in mind, I started looking for old decks and chose the typical Gro deck as a baseline power level. You can try slower decks or faster ones depending of your taste. I like my spells powerful and my art crummy so using the Old Extended as a base looks cool to me!

This is my list of cool decks so far:

Miracle Gro (Aggro Control UG)
Counterslivers (Aggro Control 4c)
Lauerpotence (Aggro BR) [Necro is not broken here]
Psychatog (Control UB)
The Rock (Aggro Control BG)
Red Deck Wins (Aggro R)
PT Jank (Aggro Control BUGW)
Legion Land Loss (Land Drestruction G)

Decks that could make it:

Tax Rack (Aggro W)/White Weenie (Aggro W)
Goblins (Aggro R) [Postbannings]
Elves!! (Aggro G) [Noncombo version]
Ravanger Affinity (Artifact Aggro) [Post-Disciple of the Vault ban]
Astral Slide (Control W)
Opposition (Prison WU)
Trix (Control UR) [Post bannings version using Shapphire Medallion]
Oath (Control UG) [Control version]

I want to cut them down to 8, which is quite a task! What do you think?


PD: Sorry if the name-dropping of decks is a bit too daunting for new players. I was going to add decklists but I think they would take too much space. Feel free to suggest them, though.

 
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General Norris
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b a n j o wrote:
I'd give anything to have Oath of Druids back in Legacy. Beast Within? Emrakul, the Aeons Torn? Obviously Oath of Druids is beyond broken, but one can dream, no?

You can keep Oath if you unban Earthcraft. Or Gush

Funny how much Forbidden Orchard changed the focus of the deck.
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rico
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Some links

Miracle Gro (Aggro Control UG)
Counterslivers (Aggro Control 4c)
Lauerpotence (Aggro BR) [Necro is not broken here]
Psychatog (Control UB)
The Rock (Aggro Control BG)
Red Deck Wins (Aggro R)
PT Jank (Aggro Control BUGW)
Legion Land Loss (Land Drestruction G)

---
and the maybe decks...

Tax Rack (Aggro W)/White Weenie (Aggro W)
Goblins (Aggro R) [Postbannings]
Elves!! (Aggro G) [Noncombo version]
Ravanger Affinity (Artifact Aggro) [Post-Disciple of the Vault ban]
Astral Slide (Control W)
Opposition (Prison WU)
Trix (Control UR) [Post bannings version using Shapphire Medallion]
Oath (Control UG) [Control version]

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Wally Jones
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Sorry.

But I am old school Magic.

If you want to play against the power decks, look back at the beginning.

Just to name a few:


Chain of Mephistopheles - First turn kill from decking your opponent.

All Hallows Eve - if played right is a third turn kill from creature rush.

Illusions of Grandeur - Can kill first turn, but is a tricky combo.

Mirror Universe - plus the card that trades life for mana = second turn kill.

Land Tax - first turn and playing landless will basically kill your opponent turn one.

Stasis + Kismet - first turn death but hard to pull off, but I have seen it.


 
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General Norris
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Not to pop your bubble but those plays are...kind of terrible. Not that I'm looking for broken plays, I'm looking for interesting decks to play against each other.

@Rico

Thanks for the decklists! Though some are misplaced, often by later developments of the same deck. I'll try to change the incorrect links tomorrow and post the right ones in the OP

It's not like I can blame you for finding the correct version of Red Deck Wins
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Jan Ozimek
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Are we talking Vintage or Legacy card pool?

If Vintage, some Goblin Welder deck should be in there, Mind Slaver, Thirst for Knowledge etc..

Possibly also some Gifts deck, but that might be too dependent on Tinker and the über broken 2B - play your graveyeard Yawgmoth's something... (haven't played in a loong time)

How about Black Sui? That is a classic!

Don't forget about Fish. Especially if you are adding a lot of control decks.
 
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Cody Holden
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soblue No love for The Deck!? Heresy!

Also, these are some of the really important decks of the old-school era, with explanations as to what exactly made them fun/good.
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General Norris
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jack of spades wrote:
soblue No love for The Deck!? Heresy!

I actually wanted to include it because it's fun to play and it uses Disrupting Scepter which is one of my favourite cards of all time.

The problem is: I don't know if it can compete with the Countersliver or Red Deck Wins and having Moat backed by counters makes me a bit worried for everything else.

I'm open to suggestions, though! And thanks for the article, Counterebels looks fun but the tempo slot is getting overcrowed.

ozimek wrote:
Are we talking Vintage or Legacy card pool?

Doesn't really matter as long as they are well known and can be pitted against Old Extended era decks without running them over. This mostly limits us to very early Vintage, though.

Quote:
How about Black Sui? That is a classic!

Don't forget about Fish. Especially if you are adding a lot of control decks.

Black Sui is a classic but I think it's encroached by Lauerpotence on the cheap spells side and The Rock on the discard and Pyrexian Negators said. So right now it doesn't quite fit, me thinks.

Fish, like Counterslivers, Counterebels, Gro and twenty more tempo-based decks are competing for the same slot. So I think I'm going to first decide what other decks are going to be around so I can choose a good fit.
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Pete Lane
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EDIT - I re-read your posts above, and I see you're trying to go with a limited card pool. I'll leave my post up below in case it helps churn up some ideas!


1 - Some decks that were "big" in their day, wouldn't stand a chance against decks that came before or after. The reason why those decks were dominant was because there wasn't an answer in that time period that might have been in place in another time to keep the same sort of craziness from happening.

2 - Some decks that one might consider "classic" actually weren't a thing until newer sets came along, and made an existing set of cards that were previously un-used a thing. Legacy Enchantress is a perfect example of a deck that has been very successful over several years, but wasn't on anyone's radar until newer cards allowed for some crazy interactions.

3 - On the flip, some popular decks of the past are outclassed by newer versions of that same deck that appeared once they rotated from Standard and had more tools availible to it to improve on the base.

4 - No love for decks from 2002 forward?
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General Norris
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I'm slowly picking decks one by one so here's what I have so far with some thoughts:

Lauerpotence (Extended 1997,

2 Bad River
4 Badlands
3 Gemstone Mine
3 Lake of the Dead
4 Scrubland
8 Swamp
24 lands

1 Ishan's Shade
4 Knight of Stromgald
4 Order of the Ebon Hand
9 creatures

4 Demonic Consultation
3 Disenchant
4 Drain Life
2 Firestorm
4 Hymn to Tourach
2 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Necropotence
27 other spells

Sideboard
2 Circle of Protection: Black
1 Disenchant
1 Firestorm
3 Honorable Passage
2 Mind Warp
3 Pyroblast
3 Terror
15 sideboard cards

I think Lauerpotence is the best choice for a Necro deck. It's Aggro, it's not broken, and it looks fun to play. It can go for the long haul thanks to Drain Life, it can kill opposing creatures which is fun and interactive and has Disechant in the Main deck which prevent the deck from rolling over and dying when something annoying drops to the table.

Possible Problems: Inmune to Swords to Plowshares. That's what most decks will use to get rid of creatures so it's important to keep it in mind.

Trix

14 Island
4 Shivan Reef
4 Volcanic Island
22 Lands

4 Sapphire Medallion
4 Counterspell
4 Force of Will
4 Merchant Scroll
4 Accumulated Knowledge
3 Intuition
2 Brainstorm
1 Impulse
1 Capsize
3 Fire/Ice
4 Illusions of Grandeur
4 Donate
38 Other Spells

Sideboard
3 Morphling
1 Hibernation
3 Pyroclasm
4 Pyroblast
2 Hydroblast
2 Stroke of Genius
15 Sideboard

I like this version of Trix because it kills two birds with a stone: It showcases the most well-known combo of the game and is practically a typical Draw-Go deck just with a combo finish. The red splash should also help it not get murdered compared to just running Blue which is important if you ask me.

Possible Problems: Murdered by Tempo decks like Gro until it sideboards.


Now I want to choose between The Rock or PT Junk, as they are similar decks in a sense. The main consideration is not losing to Tempo decks without giving up the Aggro matchup.

I also really, really want to get Phyrexian Negator out there because it's an awesome card. So it's a good starting point.

That makes for three decks out of eight. Some options don't look too great right now so they are out:

Legion Land Loss (Land Drestruction G): Not able to compete
Oath (Control UG) [Control version]: Too similar to Trix


 
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General Norris
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stagger lee wrote:
3 - On the flip, some popular decks of the past are outclassed by newer versions of that same deck

This is the biggest trick I'm using to put decks from very different eras of the game so it's very important!

Quote:
4 - No love for decks from 2002 forward?

Feel free to suggest some that you think can go neck to neck! Affinity will probably end up in since it's easy to tweak to fit the power level.
 
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Tommy Occhipinti
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How new are the players you are going to give these decks to? Giving a newer player a good constructed deck may go poorly because the deck may be very difficult to play. In fact, I've been playing since Ice Age, and I doubt I could competently play most of these (or more complex decks from recent years, like Caw Blade).

Also, why all these old decks? Are you longing for the days before creatures? Many people, especially newer players, will find modern era Magic to be way more fun. If I were doing this, I'd probably start with standard or block-constructed decks from recent years. Many of these are outwardly simple, in that they involve playing creatures and attacking, but will require a lot of skill to play reasonably.
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Pete Lane
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General_Norris wrote:
[q="stagger lee"]
Quote:
4 - No love for decks from 2002 forward?

Feel free to suggest some that you think can go neck to neck! Affinity will probably end up in since it's easy to tweak to fit the power level.


I agree with everything above... If you're just handing a n00b a tournament level deck, you might as well be cubing. At least there you're going to have people want to try again!

As for decks I think are "classic" enough to have their own identity...

Wake, Slide, Affinity, UG Madness, Balancing Tings, Rock, Zoo, Fish, MUC, KCI, Eggs, Jund, Caw Blade, Faeries, BR Zombies, Frites, Delver, Dragonstorm, Pickles, Maverick, Gate, Enchantress... the list could go on I'm sure!
 
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General Norris
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delirimouse wrote:
How new are the players you are going to give these decks to? Giving a newer player a good constructed deck may go poorly because the deck may be very difficult to play.

Nah, I don't think any of the decks are difficult to play. Difficult to master? Difficult to understand all the nuances? Sure! That's why I chose them in a sense. But as long as you look at the cards before playing, there shouldn't be any problems, they aren't exactly subtle!

Doesn't really matter ,though, as I'm playing with guys that alerady know a fair bit of Magic and had their own decks.

Quote:
Also, why all these old decks? Are you longing for the days before creatures?

Because they are unique and fun! They have a crazyness that isn't quite there nowadays for both good and bad. And I like having lots of disruption around, they make the game very intersting.



@Stagger Lee

Oh those are certainly classics but I wonder which ones you can field against the decks that are already in. Affinity can ignore Force of Will, but others will struggle against it.

Slide is the poster child for that problem. It's an amazing deck and I would include it even if it's pretty hard to play just because there's nothing like it. But it's going to get pummeled in too many matchups I think.

UG Madness and Fish are competing for the Tempo slot. More on this later because only one can get in.

Balancing Tings, KCI, Eggs, Dragonstorm, and Delver are combo decks which I would rather skip, as much as it's my favourite archetype, I don't think it's too fun when you play it against the same decks over and over. Enchantress could run a prison build but it's a bit on the fringe side, but feel free to recommend a list if you have one you like.

Wake, Caw Blade, BR Zombies and Pickles are underpowered, sadly. And I'm excercising a lot of self-restrain to not promote Pickles to the real Stasis because I love murdering fun so please don't tempt me!

TL;DR: I would love a Slide that can compete here. UG Madness and Fish are competing for the same slot. Affinity will probably end up in.
 
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General Norris
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I also found a version of The Rock I like. Has practically everything you would play in the older versions of the archetype.

THE ROCK (Circa 2002)

Lands
1 Dust Bowl
1 Volrath's Stronghold
8 Forest
4 Bayou
4 Treetop Village
4 Swamp

Creatures
4 Yavimaya Elder
4 Spiritmonger
4 Spike Feeder
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Phyrexian Negator
1 Spike Weaver
1 Phyrexian Plaguelord
1 Deranged Hermit

Spells
4 Duress
3 Pernicious Deed
3 Vampiric Tutor
2 Phyrexian Furnace
1 Living Death
1 Recurring Nightmare
1 Rancor
1 Contagion

Sideboard
1 Dust Bowl
1 Gloom
1 Spike Cannibal
1 Phyrexian Negator
2 Diabolic Edict
2 Tsunami
3 Slay
4 Emerald Charm

Dust Bowl, Pernicious Deed, Negators, Rancor, Contagion, Living Death and Reccuring Nightmare. This deck has everything I love about the archetype except Eternal Witness and Gifts which are from another time.

It should also work well with the other two decks I already put inside. It has Negators main but plenty of tools against creatures and direct attacks which is very fun.


Three decks in the next choice will be a tempo deck. The contestants are as follows unless you want to add more, which I'm willing to listen to:

Gro/Miracle Gro
UG Madness
Fish
Counterslivers

So far I lean towards the last one because Gro looks a bit too powerful for the format.
 
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David Me
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What I did that might be easier...

I collected all the World Championship decks that were printed for several years and showcased 4 decks per year.

I proxied up 4 decks per year from every year since then and for the years before they were printed (where those lists could be found)...except this year. They've stopped doing a Worlds tournament [] and I haven't decided what I'm going to do in it's place now.

But...people so far have a LOT of fun. We have tournaments and even lots of 1 vs 1 matches where we play them against each other under a system I came up with to balance the decks (based on the Auction format from the old Invitational tournaments):

Each player dices for a deck for game one.
After game one, the losing player may opt to switch decks for game two.
After game two, the losing player chooses a deck and begins an auction of Life and Cards In Hand for the deck to be played by the auction winner. (A card is worth more than any amount of life).

We've played many, many matches like this over the last few years. Sometimes I'll go in the shop and hear first thing, "Wanna dice for decks?"
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Derry Salewski
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If I did this it would just be fifty variations of control decks . . .

And it would be sweet.
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