May 27, 2016

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Bad Brews: Goblin Dark-Dwellers

Hello and welcome back to Bad Brews!

This is the game we play weekly where we crack open a fresh new booster pack of something from Standard and try to brew a deck around its contents. While not all decks are created equal, these ones will be especially bad. This week we are cracking open a pack of Oath of the Gatewatch, the set where our planeswalkers come together to form a massive super team to rival the Eldrazi menace.

In this week’s pack we have...

And for the rare we have...

Goblin Dark-Dwellers is a pretty powerful card, featured in this set as the buy-a-box promo, it is also pretty well known. These days it sees some play in several Modern decks, and while that is all well and good, it won’t help us here. The key to this card is its ability to Flashback an instant or sorcery spell with converted mana cost three or less. This means that keeping a lot of low cost spells in our deck will act as a huge bonus. Add to that the fact that Goblin Dark-Dwellers is a 4/4 with Menace - meaning it can only be blocked by two or more creatures - and we have a pretty hefty powerhouse on our hands. Admittedly, it runs five mana, which will be very high on the curve, it does mean that we are looking at something that should turn the tide of the game by the time it comes into play.

Now, in the pack we have only two other red cards to try to add to the deck. Goblin Freerunner and Akoum Flameseeker. Both are creature cards, which - while needed in a deck - do not mesh as well with our Goblin Dark-Dwellers as we might like.

Goblin Freerunners is a four mana 3/2 also with Menace. The interesting thing about Freerunners is that it has a Surge cost, which means as long as we cast another spell this turn, we can cast it for two mana instead. This will be pretty handy in a deck where we want to constantly be casting instants and sorceries to feed our Goblin Dark-Dwellers. If we have a zero mana spell, we could be casting our Goblin Freerunners as early as turn two, which will really put some pressure on our opponent, especially considering that this card also has Menace.

Akoum Flameseeker is also a 3/2, however, this time we can cast it for three mana total. It also carries on it the Cohort ability which allows you to tap an untapped Ally you control to allow you to discard a card and then draw a new one. While this might not be the most useful trick in our arsenal right now, we might find a good use for it when we start looking at other cards in Standard to add to the deck.

Now that we have dealt with the cards that are on colour for our Goblin Dark-Dwellers, it's time to take a look at some of the other cards in the pack that might fit the bill. We do have a dual land in the form of Meandering River, but that doesn’t fit the colours of the deck at all, so we will leave it out, unless we go to look at some other cards in Standard and realize we could use the extra mana.

That leaves us with Holdout Settlement as our other land in the pack. This one adds colourless mana to our pool naturally, but when we tap an untapped creature we control we can use it to add one mana of any colour to our deck. This would be very useful in a many coloured deck, but today we are going to use it to add only green to our mana pool.

In green we have three cards that might be of use, which is the reason we picked it today to be our complementary colour in the deck. Natural State, Loam Larva, and Tajuru Pathwarden are going to round out the cards from the pack that we are going to use. Let's take a look at them in order.

Natural State runs one mana, and will destroy an artifact or enchantment when we play it. Because it runs only one mana, we can flash it back later if our opponent plays a second copy of a particularly annoying enchantment, or we can use it to blow up some mana rocks that our opponent has in play. Admittedly, this card is more situationally useful than it is regularly useful, so we are going to only want to run a few copies rather than a full playset.

Loam Larva we give us a little gas next turn when it comes into play. Having a copy Loam Larva in our opening hand means that we can effectively keep a two land hand without any downsides. While not the most amazing card we have in our deck, a guaranteed land draw is nothing to scoff at especially early game.

Tajuru Pathwarden is just a beast. It's a 5/4 with Vigilance and Trample. Both together might just be worth the five mana it cost to cast it. No special abilities when it enters the battlefield, but it is an Ally, which means it can help with the Cohort ability of Akoum Flameseeker when we need it.

Well, we have exhausted the possibilities of this pack, it's time to start searching Standard for cards that will work well into this deck. This time while constructing our deck, we are going to be looking for cheap instants and sorceries, maybe even ones with Madness so we can get double or triple the value out of them in a single game.

This week, for the sake of giggles, I am going to bring back one of my favourite cards from Battle for Zendikar, Zada, Hedron Grinder. Zada find a happy home in a deck where we want to cast instants and sorceries early and often. Being able to mash face with a team of mighty creatures, then do it all over again the next turn is not only fun, it’s just smart playing. For those of you who don’t know, Zada allows you to copy an instant or sorcery with a single target for each creature you control and then apply that copy to a new creature you control.

Atarka’s Command finds a quick home in our deck as it fits our colours quite nicely. Being able to select two modes for the cards abilities makes it quite versatile in the deck. Now, more often than not, we will be using it to burn our opponent and then give our creatures a quick single turn buff, the best part is it runs at instant speed, which means we can use it to keep our opponents fliers off the board in a pinch.

Speaking of burn we are going to run we are going to run a pair of Fiery Temper cards, not only does it allow you to burn a player for three life, it also allows you to do it for a Madness cost. Discarding Fiery Temper, you pay only one mana and do three damage to creature or player, which is basically a Lightning Bolt.

Senseless Rage is also a card with Madness on it. It gives our creatures an enchantment buff which means it sticks around until it or the creature are removed, but it also could be played at instant speed if need be thanks to that madness effect.

For actual instant speed buffs we have a few cards: Vines of the Recluse, Might of the Masses, Rush of Adrenaline and Expedite. Each one on of these kicks butt on their own, but in tandem with Zada and the rest of our field, our enemies are going to have a bad time.

Vines of the Recluse is a double whammy. It gives a nice power and toughness bonus, as well as Reach, making our creatures able to block a Flying attack. As an added bonus however it also untaps target creature. This little trick on Zada, Hedron Grinder means that we will be able to block with our whole team even after a massive attack. Save this card for the late game for sure.

Might of the Masses gives a creature +1/+1 for each creature you control. This card can be very situational. It can be used to save a creature from a burn spell your opponent controls or it can be again played on Zada, Hedron Grinder to give your whole field +X/+X until end of turn. Played with caution this card alone will win you the game.

Rush of Adrenalin keeps the damage moving onto your opponent's face, adding trample to any creature you target with it. If your opponent is chump blocking with a 1/1 token, this can make sure that every other point of damage makes it to your enemy. Again, played on Zada, and you are going to see some massive benefits from the combo.

Last but not least we are going to run a few copies of Expedite. Expedite as the name implies will give target creature Haste. Alone, this isn’t a very useful spell. With Zada it becomes a powerhouse, allowing you to give all your creatures haste. As a bonus on this card, we also get to draw a card with it. That means on Zada we will be drawing X cards, where X is the number of creatures we control. This is not only a nice way of filling up our hands, but could also leave us with the ability to discard cards at the end of turn, if we have too many in hand already.

So now that we have broken down the cards in the deck, let's take a look at the deck list we will be running today. Be sure to play around with the ratios of cards when brewing this deck yourself as many of these cards can be changed around for your own personal taste and play style.

So you may have noticed that with the exceptions of Loam Larva there aren’t many things going on with this deck in the first three turns. Be careful to burn your opponents creatures as quickly as possible, as we don’t want them getting in the way of our later attacks or doing damage to our face in the first few turns while we are vulnerable. When we get to the late game, we can flash back any of our instants onto Zada, Hedron Grinder to give powerful buffs to our creatures, or in the case of Attarka’s Command deal more damage directly.

So that’s this week’s deck, please be sure to come back next week when we will be doing another Bad Brew. If you think I left anything out of the deck, please let me know in the comments below. Of course, until next week, may your brews be as bad as mine!