Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kablamly Feud: A Novel Use of a Neglected Enchantment in Return to Ravnica

Kablamly Feud: A Novel Use of a Neglected Enchantment in Return to Ravnica

Isn’t it fun to open booster packs?  

I’d like to venture that there are two fairly distinct groups of Magic players when it comes to booster packs: there are people that buy single packs when they can afford it and those who pre-order fat packs, boxes or whole cases as a major investment.  Casual players like to pick up that blister pack at the big box retailers on their way out, or they like to do small drafts with buddies.  Others like to rip off the shrink wrap and dive into a box, efficiently ripping and sorting. 

Whichever kind of player you are, though, a lot of times you’ll flip straight to the back to see your rare and/or the foil.  Some people, myself among them, slow roll, sliding through the commons and the uncommons to build anticipation. 

How many of you, while opening RTR packs in whatever way that you do, have found this in the back?

And then done this?

 I know, I know.  Another Guild Feud.  “Why did they even print this card,” a competitive Spike might ask?  A casual player or a Timmy might slide it in his deck as an additional rare to wow his kitchen table friends.  Drafters will pass it right along without a second thought.  This card’s gotta do something, right?

Well, it does, but it’s definitely a build around.  I’ve done a lot of build-around-me decks on Untap Target Player, but this one has a distinct difference.  Guild Feud is intrinsically a bad card.  I’m sorry, but unless you know your opponent is playing zero creature spells, this can backfire wildly on you.  It has the danger of just flat giving your opponents card and board advantage.  Why would anyone ever want to play with this card?

I would.  You know why?  I’m a stubborn guy, approaching epic-mule obstinacy.  My wife knows it’s true, and nine times out of ten, I don’t even notice it.  Some might call it being “resolute,” “strong-willed,” or even just someone who “knows what he likes.”  But for me, it’s just being immovable and contrarian, but I’m gonna try to turn that to my advantage this time. 

The goal with Guild Feud is to build a fun, synergetic deck that maximizes the value of this bargain bin rare.  Who knows if it’ll be good, but it’ll be…something.

To use Guild Feud most effectively, we have a few obstacles to overcome.  I know, that’s not the way you want to start a deck tech, but that’s what you get when you try to work with pack dross. 

Six mana?  And it doesn’t even do anything right away?  Paying a Titan’s worth of mana better give you something huge.  Instead, we get this.  Well, to capitalize on the possible benefit of the Feud, we’ll need a pretty large amount of ramp.  Pairing red with green seemed like a reasonable start, with Farseek being a key piece of that puzzle, and the Keyrunes also providing acceptable ramp. 

Your opponent gets to play a creature, if he or she chooses, for free on your turn.  This is obviously the largest down side of the enchantment.  Giving your opponent that kind of benefit is a good way to lose a game.  They do have to hit, but most decks will.  A deck with twenty creatures will hit about every time. 

Ahh, the plus side!  Obviously, filling our deck with good creatures helps us not only hit, but it gives us selection, too.  You can pick any revealed creatures to play.  Also, your opponent picks theirs first, so you can make sure you pick the right one for the job.  This means we’ll need creatures with powerful and relevant abilities that make it entering for free relevant while also providing efficient value, such as putting in an expensive or hard-to-cast guy.

So, now the creatures will try to kill each other?  This means we need to select creatures that do well in combat, no matter what opponent.  Another crucial component to remember about Guild Feud is somewhat technical.  No player may respond at any time while the Feud’s ability is resolving.  Lolteth Troll can’t regenerate, Fiend Hunter doesn’t exile anything yet, and you can’t cast any pump or burn spells.  The creatures, therefore, need to have strong static abilities that don’t use the stack.  Any triggered abilities will go on the stack after the Feud’s ability resolves. So, with that in mind, deathtouch seemed OK, but then, most of them are small enough that I’d lose my guy, too.  What about indestructible creatures? 

I’ve got it!
Sure, the Stuffy Doll won’t kill their flipped creature, but they’ll take damage equal to their played creature’s power.  Manor Gargoyle, another indestructible creature, stands a chance to kill most Standard-legal creatures and live to tell the tale. 

Stuffy Doll’s new red buddy, Blasphemous Act, was also a shoe-in; it’d keep over-creatured decks in check while providing a legitimate win condition for Stuffy.

Another bin rare came to mind as I wandered down this path.

I get four power and the chance to sweep the board for no mana!  Alright, he’s pretty aggressively costed too, if I just have to cast him.  With Stuffy Doll out, an explosion would hit my opponent for eight?  Risky and saucy!

With all these artifacts coming to light, another, beautifully designed card that has fallen into disuse since rotation came to mind.

Now we have a shell!  Artifact Feudposting!  FIGHT!


Creatures (19)

2 Manor Gargoyle
3 Stuffy Doll
3 Volatile Rig
2 Galvanic Juggernaut
3 Thragtusk
4 Elvish Visionary
1 Primal Clay

Spells (18)

2 Rakdos Keyrune
3 Farseek
3 Blasphemous Act
2 Trading Post
2 Tragic Slip
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Vraska, the Unseen
2 Guild Feud
2 Treasured Find

Lands (23)

2 Dragonskull Summit
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Woodland Cemetery
2 Mountain
3 Swamp
5 Forest
2 Evolving Wilds
1 Rogue’s Passage

Sideboard (15)

2 Pithing Needle
2 Slaughter Games
2 Sever the Bloodline
2 Garruk Relentless
2 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Bramblecrush
2 Silklash Spider
1 Witchbane Orb

Deck Tech – Creatures

Galvanic Juggernaut

This guy is a shocker.
This Limited all-star fits nicely into this deck.  He’s a very efficient and easy-to-cast creature that applies a lot of ground pressure.  The ability to untap when a creature is destroyed is also fairly nice, giving him pseudo-vigilance.  Also, on a not-so-irrelevant note, he survives a Volatile Rig blast, which will surely kill something else, allowing him to untap as needed.  This deck wants to provide enough pressure that your opponent is nervous, and a pair of Juggernauts fit in that plan.  Off a Farseek, he’s about the most aggressive play this deck has.


And now, the stabilization champeen, Lagtusk!
Thragtusk wins games, sometimes overtly, and sometimes quite subtly.  Resolving this guy on turn four or off a Feud is what this deck wants to be doing; kill their dude, gain life and make a Beast in a worst case scenario.  His easy-to-meet mana cost makes him all the better.  If your green deck isn’t playing this guy, I think you’re doing it wrong.

Elvish Visionary

I see the draw of this lady.
After a bit of playtesting, I realized that I desperately needed to be on-time with mana.  With only a few ramp spells available, I had to make sure I was at least drawing through the deck to look for a land.  Elvish Visionary provided a fine chump blocker and Act fuel.  Although not a great Feud flip, you’d at least draw a card off her. 

Primal Clay

*squish squish*
The Clay, originally sleeved when I couldn’t find my third Juggernaut, has actually found a nice place as a singleton.  Because of how Guild Feud’s triggered ability works, no one can respond until the fight is over.  He comes into play right away as what I choose, so after seeing my opponent play their X/2, I can make the Clay a Hill Giant.  If he hits nothing, I can make him a Wind Drake, or if he makes something big, I can make him a 1/6 Wall to take the hit and continuously block.  I don’t like more than one, but he’s a really nice spot.  Casting him as a 1/6 will stop a lot of X/1 attackers in Standard (Gravecrawlers, namely) and it can stuff a sizable Exalted attacker.


Rakdos Keyrune

I red somewhere the key is ramp.
An artifact that provides a one-turn boost in mana production that can also be a creature when it needs to be is very powerful.  He hides when I commit a Blasphemous Act, then I can animate him and attack.  He’s a powerful blocker, as Porcelain Legionnaire was, and he’s aggressive enough to be an alternative pressure maker. 


Strictly worse without Shocklands.
The deck needed something relevant to do early, and with a strongly green base, this seemed like a reasonable play.  4 CMC threats on turn 3 are wonderful for this deck, and being able to hit those on time is essential in this racing format.  Although this can’t get a Forest, the heaviest commitment of this deck, most of the creatures in this deck do not cost colored mana.  Also, I don’t have Shocklands in this color, which makes this much worse.  I miss Signets Ramp is ramp.

Tragic Slip

With everything dying to Rigs, Acts and even from a Post, a one-mana kill-it spell seemed very relevant.  It’s also helpful when removing mana dorks, slowing my opponent’s advance, and it’s a fine response to a Lolteth Troll pump, forcing a double discard to save him.  Alright, that’s a bit of a reach, but I mean, it’s the best one-mana kill spell in years.  What else do you want to know?

Garruk, Primal Hunter

Bet he does P90X.
If you read my article last week (and any where I’ve played my singleton copy of this Garruk,) you know that he can turn games around or provide the final push you need to stay on top.  Garruk is a workhorse, and although his GGG cost is kind of scary, he has such an impact when you cast him.  With my Manor Gargoyle reliably sticking around, it’s a no-mana Tidings when I need it, or it’s a steady stream of Beasts your opponent must overcome.  Always relevant.

Vraska, the Unseen

Her Assassins are pretty snake-y.
Admittedly an auto-include in BG for me (I have one, why not?), Vraska fills in the gaps very well, picking off nuisance permanents very effectively.  Her Assassins won’t come into play very often, so she’s just basically repeatable, albeit slow, removal. 

Treasured Find

Awesome art and flavor aside, this card does exactly what I need it to whenever it’s in my hand.  With Guild Feud pouring stuff into my graveyard, this can effectively become a sorcery Snapcaster for anything in my graveyard.  Two mana is a great deal to get anything back from your yard; a Blasphemous Act, a kill spell, a planeswalker, or even just to salvage the Stuffy Doll for another Act, the options are wonderful. 


The lands were challenging; I have no Shocklands in Jund colors, so I had to make do with basics and M10-style duals.  Still, I think the mana base is strong enough, and the large number of colorless artifacts reduces the color demand a lot.  Specifically, the Evolving Wilds will almost always search up a Forest (maybe they should just be Forests,) but Farseek finds the non-Forest basics.  Rogue’s Passage plays a fairly narrow but not irrelevant role.  It can push my ground guys through, specifically Volatile Rig, when I just need it to hit (or an Assassin, trollface.)  As with the rest of the not-so-tight mana base, the colorless mana disadvantage shouldn’t affect this deck that much. 


Another challenging sideboard to create, I thought carefully about each card and quantity.  Pithing Needle was the first and most stable inclusion.  While synergizing with the artifact theme of the deck, Pithing Needle stops a ton of problem permanents; any planeswalker you don’t like, Deathrite Shaman, Lolteth Troll, any Guildmage, or even some fringe cards like Deadeye Navigator, any Innistrad Block utility land.  Slaughter Games, a card I still believe is vastly underrated, just handles a problem.  I’ve seen a lot of decks with singular win conditions, and this just stops it.  It kills the necessary spell in a combo, the problem creature (Thragtusk, Angel of Serenity, Geralf’s Messenger…whatever it might be.)  I love this card, but it definitely takes one game before you can see what your opponent will be using to stop your plan.  Sever the Bloodline, a card I’ve been continuously pleased with since playing it in my Vampire deck, deals with Entreated Angels, all the 4xCreature decks, Zombies, and it flashes back from a Guild Feud flip.  Garruk Relentless serves a couple purposes – against hard sweepers like Terminus, this card can constantly give you value.  He can punch your Stuffy Doll for three damage, make tokens for committing an Act and he can find the Doll if you have the Act in hand.  Tormod’s Crypt, a very narrow but powerful artifact, is a necessary evil in the land of Reanimator, undying and graveyard shenanigans.  The ability to recur this thing with Trading Post is very relevant, and I imagine doing it to keep an opponent’s graveyard spotless.  Bramblecrush, originally Dreadbore (I don’t have any), is there to deal with any problem NCP.  Gavony Township got you down?  BRAMBLECRUSH.  Detention Spheres got your Manor Gargoyles locked up?  BRAMBLECRUSH.  Jace giving your opponent too much advantage?  BRAMBLECRUSH.  Also a turn 3 ramped Bramblecrush can just be a Stone Rain.  Tragic Slip their mana dork into turn three this?  Oh yeah.  Silklash Spider, a late inclusion, provides a very specific and powerful answer to a wide variety decks while synergizing perfectly with Guild Feud.  It can take a hit from almost anything and it can, because you didn’t pay to cast it, sweep the skies from Restoration Angels, Lingering Souls tokens, Angels of Serenity and even a Griselbrand right away!  Clear the air for your Gargoyles!  A singleton Witchbane Orb is meant to swat away burn, discard, mill and everything else that targets me.  It’s an artifact, too!

I am fairly certain this is not an optimal build, but it is a synergetic build, which was the goal.  A non-artifact Guild Feud deck, using Gruul or even Naya colors is almost certainly preferable.  It’d give access to Collective Blessing, almost guaranteeing your side will win the fight, as well as some nice ETB abilities, like Armada Wurm and Angel of Serenity.  After Gatecrash releases, I’ll likely revisit this concept, even if just on paper.

I found the last pieces I needed to round off the deck, so I played it in the Tuesday night tournament at Something2Do this week.  It was nice to have the pieces before the pairings went up for a change.

Round 1 – Thomas (Jund Midrange)

Thomas, an opponent I had seen but never faced, had a calm and cool demeanor.  As we started play, we almost exactly mirrored each other, dropping a basic land then Rootbound Crag to cast Farseeks for Swamps.  He resolved a Thragtusk on time, and a turn or two later, so did I.  In the meantime, he beat down with that and an Olivia Voldaren.  My Guild Feud resolved and helped him more than it helped me.  Stuffy Doll was useless against Kessig Wolf Run, and I was dead a mere eight turns in.  Game two was equally stompy, and we were done in 10 minutes.

0 – 1

Although I was skeptical of this deck, this match proved to be a worst nightmare.  The deck was all over the place, missing land drops, providing no answers and making Guild Feud much worse.  It was going to be a long night.

Round 2 – Michael (B/G Zombies)

Michael and I had played before, and if I recall correctly, he trounced me.  His first turn Cavern of Souls into Gravecrawler sent a clear message about his deck.  He started getting in the red zone and, with a Blood Artist, even blocks were starting to look bad.  I slid down into low single digits.  Luckily, he tapped out of non-Cavern mana one turn and I was able to pick off his unprotected Lolteth Troll with a freshly-cast Vraska.  A resolved Trading Post started pitching my cards just to stay alive.  Back to back Thragtusks kept me in the game, but I had to stay back or risk death from a Geralf’s Messenger or some such.  Even with a nasty combat, I shrank to 3 and my 2 Stuffy Dolls finally started netting damage from blocks.  I cast a Guild Feud and he hit Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, who was quite large while I hit nothing. I had the Act in hand and cast it for 26.  Even with Blood Artist triggers and life gain through the Post, I’d be down to 1.  Game two put me more firmly ahead with strong sideboard options.  I got a Blaspemous act and a Galvanic Juggernaut out early, while he smashed in with Blood Artist-backed Gravecrawlers as normal.  I fell down to three after he started draining me with a Deathrite Shaman out against my lone Stuffy Doll.  I had the Act in hand and was representing lethal, but drawing Garruk Relentless felt pretty good as an alternative answer. With an Act, he was toast.

1 – 1

The Zombie deck was more on the scavenge plan than the aggro plan, but that Blood Artist trigger was what came so close to killing me.  I should have sided in the Witchbane Orb.  I’m not sure he can beat that card.

Round 3 – Jeffery (USA Control)

Jeffery and I had played before, and he was an enjoyable opponent who always packed a powerful deck.  This outing was no different.  I got a bit of a sluggish start, as did he, and I even had to move to the cleanup step a time or two after missing land (had three in the opener but just could not draw any more.)  After a fairly long and grindy game, he drew through nearly his entire deck with Sphinx’s Revelations and Jace -2’s.  A resolved Guild Feud gave me a lot of value, as his deck only had the occasional creature.  That occasional creature, though, was Angel of Serenity.  Resolving that was pretty much game over, and after he resolved a second one, I was done. 

I knew my sideboard options right away; we had used nearly all of our time in the first game, so we played quickly in game two.  I got an explosive start, with Farseek into Galvanic Juggernaut and a Manor Gargoyle.  I Pithing Needled Jace and Tamiyo and bashed him to about 2.  A couple small Sphinx’s Revelations put him back at 7 as he found the Terminus he needed.  As time was called, I had a Stuffy Doll out to his Angel.  My Guild Feud hit a Stuffy Doll, but it pitched two Blaspemous Acts on my turn 4.  I had Treasured Find in hand, so I could have gotten back the binned Act, but I would not have enough mana to cast it.  He went to turn 5 and he couldn’t kill me.  He admitted he didn’t have a counterspell, so we would have finished 1-1 if I’d been able to hit that Act a turn later.

1 – 2

Now out of prize range, I was content to just play my last round out for fun.

I got the bye.

2 – 2

I wandered back to the only person not playing a game.  His name was Jamie, and he had dropped with an 0 – 3, so he and I would probably have played each other if he’d stayed in.  We traded a little and we decided to play out our assumed match anyway.

Round 4? – Jamie (Esper Tokens)

Jamie led with a strong showing of Lingering Souls tokens from an Auger of Bolas, and a Favorable Winds put me in an awkward place.  I struggled to swat away the swarms, having to Jump my Manor Gargoyle into one or two and Tragic Slipping the others.  After putting a Garruk out and making some pressure Beasts, he had to focus on Garruk.  Although I almost lost him a couple times, I managed to keep him alive.  After a second Favorable Winds, the board state looked pretty grim for me.  I was losing six to eight life a turn, and Thragtusk couldn’t keep up.  As he cast out all his Lingering Souls, he muttered, “I guess I just have to hope you don’t have Blasphemous Act.”  I didn’t at the moment, but with a Garruk at three counters, I’d have a shot at it.  I had a Juggernaut out, so I popped Garruk to draw five cards.  I hit Vraska and four lands.  Had I drawn six, instead, the last card was a Treasured Find, and I had a Blasphemous Act in the yard.  In game two, I sided in Severs, the Spiders and Slaughter Games, hoping to remove Lingering Souls.  As we got underway, I got a somewhat better start; Galvanic Juggernaut kept the pressure heavy, while Jamie Slipped my Manor Gargoyles and Stuffy Dolls.  Thragtusks on my side kept me favorably ahead in trading.  Guild Feud was huge here, hitting Thrags, Dolls and, on the last turn, a Silklash Spider with eight mana to pour into it.  I had two Acts and two Treasured Finds in hand.  With a Doll out, I cast the first act, which was countered, so I played the second, each for just R.  With no further responses, I took that game.  Although I’d hoped we would go to game three, he had a drive ahead of him and bowed out.  Jamie’s was by far the most entertaining and engaging of the matches, and it showcased what this deck can do. 

In the end, I was fairly disappointed with the performance of the deck.  It did very well against aggro, but against midrange or control, it was a bit of a crapshoot.  In the end, the deck was a combo deck.  Not around Guild Feud, not around Trading Post…around Stuffy Doll.  The Doll + Act interaction is well-known, but this deck relied almost entirely on the combo to kill opponents.  Only rarely did my guys do anything at all by getting in the red zone.  It was the equivalent of just Devil’s Playing for a lot. 

The deck was not very fun to play, either.  It missed enough with Guild Feud and Volatile Rig that it lost most of its chancy appeal.  Several Rigs died, but I think it only went off once. 

The most important players in the deck were Doll + Act, but also Galvanic Juggernaut, Treasured Find, and Trading Post.  The Juggernaut was an awesome threat on turn three, and he often was ready to block, as people are fairly eager to chump a turn 4 swinging 5/5.  Treasured Find gave me a ton of value, mostly from recurring removal and planeswalkers.  It was so inexpensive that I could almost always cast the recollected card right away.  I’m amazed the card hasn’t seen play yet, but I’m gonna put money on the bet that it will.  Trading Post was as awesome as ever.  I loved having five mana and casting the Post.  Most of the time, it gave me life for a card or it sacrificed soon-to-be-deceased artifacts.  During both modes, though, it was essential to the game.

As for the crux of the deck, Guild Feud did fine, helping me more often than not against low creature count decks.  Often times I’d just hit an Elvish Visionary or a Volatile Rig without a fight, so the subtheme of being “good fighters” proved to be fairly irrelevant in most matchups.  It is also worth noting that it does effectively mill them three when they miss, and against a heavy draw control deck, like Jeffery’s in round 3, a pair of the Feuds will cut their library down six cards at a whack. 

Underperformers included every other creature, Vraska, and Tragic Slip.  While I expected creatures would be dying often, Tragic Slip was rarely morbid when I needed it to be.  Vraska is a good planeswalker, but in a deck that needs a little more pickup and with a lot of stuff to play on five, she could sit out.  Most of the creatures, Manor Gargoyle included, just didn’t cut the mustard.  They were too expensive, too situational, or just too bad (in the case of the Rig).  Even Thragtusk was basically just a Whitesun’s Passage with some stall built in. 

From the sideboard, Sever the Bloodline was the all-star, followed by Pithing Needle and Bramblecrush.  Pithing Needle is an awesome answer for planeswalkers, as is Bramblecrush.  Both cards are great sideboard inclusions when you can.  Don’t forget about them!

In a bout of frustration; I dismantled the deck just a few minutes after the tournament.  Today, though, in retrospect, it wasn’t that bad.  The deck was admittedly not a good deck, and I knew that going in, but it did exactly what I intended it to by taking advantage of my opponents’ deck’s weakness.  I don’t recall making any major misplays and the first round was my only crushing loss, but that’s the deck to beat right now, in my opinion (Thragtusk is a literal and figurative beast in the right deck.) 

I guess that’s what I get for being stubborn.

As a bit of an addendum, I tried a bizarre decklist last night at Friday Night Magic when I could not put together another deck I'd wanted to try, a bit more of an aggro build, so I built this durdly monstrosity.  I'd normally spend a blog post covering it, but it's not worth it.  Trust me.

Here's the list.

Creatures (12)

4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Laboratory Maniac
4 Sphinx of the Chimes

Spells (24)

4 Search the City
4 Cyclonic Rift
4 Temporal Mastery
4 Dissipate
3 Think Twice
3 Thought Scour
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Lands (24)

22 Island
2 Reliquary Tower

Sideboard (15)

4 Fog Bank
4 Essence Scatter
4 Negate
3 Staff of Nin

Perhaps the shortest decklist ever made, this deck was built to take advantage of the Sphinx and Search the City combination.  I was blessed to have several people at the shop lend me the more expensive cards I needed, and I sleeved it up in a hustle.  Every opponentI played was a very aggressive one, and even after siding in hate (and siding out the Search the Cities), I had no shot.  I went 1-3 last night, my one win against a very nice, but very new third grader, so I won't count that.  The deck was far too cute - the only game match I won besides round 2 was in the last round against Werewolves, but then it was it was because I had triple Sphinx of the Chimes out and a Temporal Mastery.  Not much to say there.  The deck's plan was to draw a million cards through the Sphinx and City, but it was far too slow and unresponsive to be effective.  The Sphinx and Lab Maniac is probably a good combo, but in a significantly different build.  I have the creature base, so I might still try to figure this one out.  

Search the City on the other hand, is perhaps the worst spell I have ever cast in Standard.  Don't do it.


Anyway, just wanted to add that at the last second.  Don't be stubborn like me; play something fun and unique!  And, preferably, something that has a chance to win at all.

Until then, don’t forget to untap, even if you’re just about to tap it again!

- Matt H


  1. Matt:

    You are short one creature in your Feudposting deck? Is it x4 Stuffy Doll? Or something else?


    1. Oh, it was a Volatile Rig. Played a whole suite of them!

  2. has some crazy alterations if anyone is interested