April 27, 2015

The Tempest is Raging

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Greetings, laboratorians! Today we're kicking off Tempest Remastered Week, in honor of Magic Online's new release. While not usually thought of as one of the more powerful blocks in Magic's history, Tempest block actually contained quite a few cards that have made a huge impact on competitive Magic, some of which are still being played today.

Even better, most of these cards aren't powerful removal spells like Path to Exile or premium creatures like Tarmogoyf. Most of them are combo engines that formed the basis for entirely new decks.

Aluren | Art by April Lee

Haakon, Haakoff

Perhaps the flagship of these powerful combo cards is Aluren. Cards that let you cast things for free can usually be broken in one way or another, and Aluren was no exception. The original version of the deck used Cavern Harpy and Man-o'-War to play Spike Feeder over and over again, putting your life total far out of reach. After that, Wall of Roots allowed you to produce unlimited mana with which to cast Stroke of Genius on your opponent, winning the game.

However, it's been a long time since Tempest was printed, and there are tons of new creatures that can be used to break Aluren. The one I decided to try was Haakon, Stromgald Scourge. Aluren doesn't specify that you must be casting creatures from your hand to use its alternate cost, so you can cast Haakon from your graveyard for free at instant speed.

In order to win the game, I turned to another card from Tempest Remastered.Goblin Bombardment allows you to sacrifice Haakon to deal 1 damage to your opponent. You can then cast him from your graveyard again with Aluren for free. Do this twenty times, and your opponent will die.

Unfortunately, there's a slight hiccup in this plan. Haakon makes you lose 2 life whenever he dies, which means you'll bite the dust long before your opponent will. Fortunately, Haakon also contains the solution to his own problem. As long as he's on the battlefield, you can cast Knights from your graveyard. With Aluren, this means that any Knight in your graveyard with converted mana cost 2 or less can be cast for free. If you have Kemba's Skyguard in your graveyard, you can cast it every time you cast Haakon to recoup the 2 life you lost. Sacrificing it to Goblin Bombardment also gives you another point of damage each time. Now instead of you losing 2 life and your opponent losing 1, you lose no life at all, and your opponent loses 2 each time you execute the loop.

I've added in Blasting Station as a substitute for Goblin Bombardment, doubling your chances to draw a sacrifice outlet. I've also included Diabolic Tutor. Although it can search your library for any card, its primary purpose is to get Aluren.

The final step is to get Haakon and Kemba's Skyguard into your graveyard. Buried Alive can grab both at once for just three mana. Unfortunately you can only play four copies, so the next best option is Entomb. Although it only costs one mana, it also only gets one card. To help mitigate that downside, I've added a few copies of Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace. It gives you a way to discard one of the creatures of you draw it, leaving Entomb to grab the other. The last card slot will go to Damnation, which can clear the battlefield of creatures and keep you alive long enough for all the pieces to fall into place.

Dredging Up Old Decks

Tempest Remastered contains some absurdly powerful cards, a few of which are even banned in Legacy. The king of these banned cards is Hermit Druid. The day that Legacy received its own unique banned list, Hermit Druid was on it. It has remained on that list ever since. You see, on the surface it might be a fairly innocuous card. You get a basic land, and put a few cards in your graveyard. The trouble arises when you get rid of the first part, by which I mean getting rid of basic lands entirely. If you have no basic lands in the deck, Hermit Druid will put your entire library in the graveyard. If you set your deck up properly, that means you win the game.

This deck type has its origins in Extended. Originally, the deck used the flashback on Krosan Reclamation to put Shallow Grave into your library, ready to be drawn. Cards put in the graveyard at the same time can be ordered however you want, so Shallow Grave always returned a Sutured Ghoul, which promptly exiled 20 power in creatures and attacked for the win.

Today, there are even more tools to take advantage of Hermit Druid's capabilities, allowing you to do some truly ridiculous things. To demonstrate, I'll be combining Hermit Druid with a few cards from more recent graveyard-based decks built around the dredge mechanic. I'll also be tossing in a few ideas of my own to spice it up a bit.

First off is the combination of Narcomoeba and Dread Return. When Hermit Druid puts your entire library into your graveyard, all the Narcomoebas in it will be put onto the battlefield. You can then sacrifice three of them to cast Dread Return, putting any creature in your graveyard onto the battlefield.

If you have four copies of Bridge from Below in your graveyard, you'll also get twelve 2/2 Zombie tokens when you sacrifice those Narcomoebas. Just in case that's not enough, let's take things even further. After all, you can have up to four copies of Dread Return in your graveyard.

You could use the first to return Hornet Queen, giving you four Insect tokens. Sacrifice one of them along with the Queen and an Insect and you can cast another Dread Return, getting eight Zombies from Bridge from Below in the process. Get another Hornet Queen, and sacrifice the Queen and two bees to get another Queen and four Zombies. The third Dread Return gets the third Queen. After sacrificing the creatures to pay for the final Dread return, you'll have a grand total of 28 Zombie tokens and seven Insect tokens. Bring back Flame-Kin Zealot, and all of those creatures will get +1/+1 and haste, allowing you to attack for a grand total of 101 damage.

Bridge from Below has a downside, of course. If your opponent can kill off one of his or her own creatures, it can really throw a wrench in your plan. You can actually still get through 20 damage by saving the Hornet Queens and sacrificing the tokens, but just barely. It's always good to have a backup plan, and in this case the backup plan is Inkwell Leviathan. With trample and shroud, it's an easy way to kill your opponent in just a few turns, and you'll still have the Hornet Queen to add in some extra damage or play defense while the Leviathan goes to work.

Since you have no cards in your library, you'll need a way not to lose the game before you get busy attacking. Memory's Journey fits the bill quite nicely, allowing you to put three cards into your library during your upkeep, just before you would lose the game. Those three turns should give you plenty of time to win.

You'll want to activate Hermit Druid as soon as possible, and with minimal risk. To make sure you have one in hand, I've included both Worldly Tutor and Sylvan Tutor. However, you don't want to just throw it out there and hope your opponent doesn't have a removal spell. You'll need a way to give it haste.

Concordant Crossroads does the job for just one mana, and can also help you out if you end up going the Inkwell Leviathan route. Hall of the Bandit Lord doesn't cost any mana. In fact, it gives you mana at the low cost of just 3 life. That seems like a pretty good deal to me! I also added in Crop Rotation, which lets you search your library for Hall of the Bandit Lord if you don't already have one in hand. As for the finishing touch, I also added on one copy of Phantasmagorian. If you happen to draw any of the critical cards before you put your library in the graveyard, Phantasmagorian ensures you can get them back where they belong.

Hornet Druid

From Remasters to Modern Ones

That's all the time I have for today, but next week I'll be back with another new article, and you might want to take a good look around the rest of the site as well. DailyMTG.com will be dropping a few preview cards for Modern Masters 2015 Edition throughout the week, and you'll have to explore all the different columns to track them down. See ya!



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