Friday, July 23, 2010

Lose the Hand

It is a very rare moment indeed when a tournament report catches my interest.

But when someone comes up with a deck that wrecks people's carefully laid plans, intensive research, backbreaking testing and luxuriously acquired cards…now that's something I can break the popcorn out for.

Such is the deck presented by Hannu Vallin at the Finnish Nationals tournament.

If you read the DailyMTG "mothership", you've probably already seen it, since it's right there.

Here's some history. For about 12 years now, discard-happy casual control players have been trying to build decks around a particular card. That card is here:

Since Stronghold, Megrim has been reprinted many times. Competitive players have never liked it. Why?

First, the enchantment itself does nothing. Second, it costs 3 mana. Then you have to start casting spells AFTER that to get any payoff. 

Here's the reality: by the fourth turn…when you start using your discard…your opponent has already gotten rid of a sizable portion of his or her hand. Maybe there's only 2 cards left. You discard 2 of them…then they have no cards in hand, and you have a hand full of discard and an enchantment that is completely worthless.

Now then, what has changed in the modern day to make a deck like this remotely viable? 

Well, we know Blightning is a pretty good card…but Jund players have been using that piece of tempo/card advantage pretty consistently already. Heck, I LOVE using Blightning. If I have a red/black deck, I'm running Blightning. It combines the words Blight and Lightning. I would use it just for that.

I see two relatively recent developments. In M10, a little common called Burning Inquiry was released. I've been trying to make Burning Inquiry work with Words of War, but the Finnish pros saw standard applications in the form of Megrim. Burning Inquiry actually puts cards back into the hand of your opponent so they can discard them again to Megrim! 

And secondly, they printed a new Megrim. No, not a reprint, a BETTER version of Megrim.

Liliana's Caress works to fix the other complaint…the "power" behind your discard engine comes out even faster and starts affecting the board earlier. The Finnish folks liked the effect so much they put both the old Megrim and new Caress in the same deck.

What you end up with is a deck that basically is focused on two things…discarding your cards and hitting your foe in the face with damage. Jani Lindroos, the guy who actually won the tournament, wished he could be running something this cool.

To all the people out there with some Megrim deck rotting away deep in their Magic Backpacks (delicioso!), I say to you: bring your decks into the light…the time is now…the tools you've been waiting for are here.

Thanks to Brian David-Marshall for brighting (or is that blightening?) my day with this dark delight.

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