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Strategy and Gameplay:
As we begin to move more into multi-civilization decks, the parameters for a solidly strong deck begin to become a little hazy. Fire/Darkness is a perfect example of the trouble with defining the absolute ‘it’ deck for this two civilization combination. That doesn’t mean we can’t – this also means that there is likely more than one strong style of deck.
Each civilization has its own strengths and weaknesses. The objective for combining civilization into one deck should always be to accentuate the strengths and water down the weaknesses of each civilization. Fire/Darkness is no difference. So, let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of each civilization…
Fire has the ability to field offensive style creatures at an exceptionally rapid pace. While other civilizations may come close, no civilization matches the speed of fire. Fire also has a good deal of creature removal include the rather rare, and often over-costed, ability to remove multiple creatures at one time.
Darkness is actually a good mimic of most of the other civilizations. This civilization possesses some of the speed of fire, blockers of light, and card draw power of water. No civilization has better creature destruction than darkness with the likes of Terror Pit, Death Smoke and Critical Blade in its arsenal. In addition, only darkness has access to slayers, an entirely other type of creatures destruction which this civilization seems to selfishly guard.
Darkness also introduces abilities of its own. Creature recursion is an interesting one, allowing Darkness players to gain card advantage over their opponent based upon the cards in their graveyard rather than their library. Darkness also utilizes hand destruction, a tactic that has gained more popularity over the last few sets as card such as Locomotiver have strengthened its cause.
Fire has a drastic unbalanced between many of its weenie and fatties. Basically, the weenies are to tiny and the fatties are to unweildly. This can often lead to the squelching of what looked like a good start and going off to late with the more powerful back up. In addition, the weenies tend to cause a problem in rapid hand depletion – this can allow other civilizations to leave Fire in the dust even after a slow start as fire is often quickly reduced to top-decking.
Fire’s creature destruction, while plentiful, is only highly restrictive. Often the creature being destroyed must meet specific criteria to actually be a candidate for destruction such as being under and certain power. This can easily lead to these creature removal cards becoming dead cards in your hand or simply not being able to destroy the exact creature you need at exactly the right time.
True, Darkness is the great mimic; however Darkness can not perform any of its copied abilities as well as the original. Fire can out race it, Light can out block it and water can out draw it. If Darkness is to purely focus on any of these strategies you should quickly find it to be suicide. The strategies are best left up to one of the other civilizations, though Darkness is well put to supplement these strategies with strengths of its own.
Based upon this information we seem to have two very promising directions to proceed in. First possibility is to use Fire as the bat with its fast weenies and Darkness as the balancer with its strong creature destruction. The other option seems to be still using a Fire weenie red rush base, however focusing Darkness more on control through hand destruction. When you break it down, both decks will actually be doing the same thing, only employing different methods. The first rushes the opponent while attempting to blast any opposition on the board out of the way. The second still rushes the opponent; however the choice is not to wait for the opposition to play their threats, rather to take out those threats while they are still in the opponent’s hand. I believe both are viable tactics each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Perhaps still another option would be to combine both tactics into a single deck. While this is possible I would advice that you only supplement one tactic with the other. You don’t want to overload your deck with abilities and functions. Doing this would water down the effectiveness of each strategy and you would often face situation where you wish you had the cards to use one tactic, however you only have a handful of the other.
Cecilbill’s Darkness/Fire Rush deck from her deck lab is a pretty good example of the first tactic. Small, fast creatures backed up by cheap, strong creature removal. While this deck isn’t entirely up to date, it’s still a good example of a place to start and the very first “Budget Practice” deck I’ve been able to show that wasn’t created by me. Because of this, I don’t feel ashamed in presenting you the Fire/Darkness Human Rush deck I designed and my son Justin played for months (up until the last tournament we attended – he’s trying to move onto Fire/Nature Survivor now). He’s one of the youngest players at the location we attended and most of them have a lot of Yugi-Oh or Magic tournament experience behind them. Still, he does manage to go 2/2 in every tournament and the one time I played I manage to take 1st. With Stomp-a-trons now released you may want to reconsider Explosive Dude Joe and/or Mini-Titan get for one or more of the newly released humans. Play around with it and see what works for you.
Cecillbill’s Budget Practice Deck:
4 Marrow Ooze, the Twister
JMatthew’s Primed Sample Deck:
4x Brawler Zyler
Well, I hope this installment of “Agro in the ’05 Metagame” didn’t disappoint as I know some people were waiting specifically for this one. In future articles we will begin exploring control style decks. In the meantime I have a few interesting things cooking that I hope you will enjoy.
As usual – any feedback is great. Thanks!
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