Before we get rolling on this week's article I should really note that there was a major problem with last week's edition. It seems that my deck design from last week was spoiled by the early spoiler I used. This unfortunately listed Mycosynth Lattice as an Uncommon and not a Rare. Unfortunately, this means that the Synth-Sligh deck suggested last week is not PEZ legal. It could still be a cheap fun deck but not for PEZ.
Also, I am still looking for e-mails from players in the Milwaukee area who would like to start playing PEZ on a regular basis. If you are interested, please drop my a message.
I also want to apologize for missing last week and 2 weeks of Card of the Day - life has been way too nuts lately.
In addition to Echoing spells, Darksteel gives us the Modular mechanic. While the best of the Modular mechanic was saved for the rare spots, which are really some of the strongest theme based rares available, it may be possible that some Modular artifacts will creep into PEZ.
Because PEZ is a fast format, it is most likely that the two cheap creatures will see play. This includes the Arcbound Worker and the Arcbound Stinger. Before the addition of these cards, there were few playable choices for low end Artifact Creatures. In fact, Reterothopter and Alpha Myr, with the possible addition of Clockwork Beatles, are the only cards that come to mind. The Arcbound Stinger is particularly nice since the cost compares favorably with other 1/1 Flyers.
The more expensive Modular creatures probably aren't playable except in dedicated Modular decks. The Arcbound Hybrid may be playable because the Haste ability compensates for the 4 cost but the Arcbound Bruiser just isn't worth 5 mana however you look at it.
As we look at the Uncommon slots, nothing really stands out. In a dedicated Arcbound deck, the Arcbound Crusher or Arcbound Fiend would probably be the big sticks that lead to a win. The Crusher is, unfortunately, a way over priced 1/1. Normally Trample on a 1/1 is a waste but a Modular deck would, conceivably, pump him up quickly. The Arcbound Fiend is also over priced, and at 6 mana is most likely out of the running for the PEZ environment. The fact that he is 3/3 with evasion is nice but with the growth of Black decks and Affinity in PEZ it isn't as tempting as before.
The most likely Uncommon Arcbound creature to see play is actually the unassuming Arcbound Slith. It fits the mana curve for PEZ perfectly and with evasion it could start swinging for big hits early. Even without evasion if you can dump enough +1/+1 counters on it your opponent will be left with some really unfortunate decisions.
The best part about Modular is that the concept fits PEZ perfectly. a dedicated Modular deck allows you to aggressively trade creatures on the ground without slowing the development of your offensive capability. Unfortunately, the cards just don't seem to be enough to get these decks off the ground. If you are considering a Modular deck there are three obvious color choices: Black, Green, and Blue.
Black decks might include powerful "Sacrifice for Effect" cards like Skulltap, Innocent Blood, Culling the Weak, and maybe Victimize as an Uncommon. Also, Black has a great ability to get a 2 for 1 special on +1/+1 counters with Sadistic Glee and Phyrexian Broodlings, both of which make Arcbound Fiend more attractive. A Black Modular deck would be a good excuse to play one of my favorite cards, the versatile Cannibalize, even if you can't get 2 for 1 here. These decks would have access to the more expensive Modular creatures because they could pack additional acceleration in the form of Priest of Yawgmoth or Soldevi Adnate. Obviously, Disciple of the Vault and graveyard recursion would be naturals for this type of deck.
Green has the benefit of being a much more straightforward deck. With access to Battlegrowth, Ironshell Beatle, Spike Drone, and Thrive there is great potential to kick out additional +1/+1 counters quickly. Predatory Hunger and Ferocity may also be playable, so too might Wurmskin Forger if only because of mana acceleration and Metamorphosis, which at least maintains synergy with the deck. A Green version would have to attack quickly, and possibly use Seton's Desire, to generate 1 for 1 trades that would push the growth of other Modular creatures. The big benefit is that Rancor has extraordinary synergy with this strategy and helps assure damage gets through blockers.
Blue comes to mind if only because of Tinker but the truth is that even this powerhouse is of limited ability since it trades off with most of the more expensive Modular creatures. Access to False Demise and Fade Away may prove to be interesting when combined with Modular creatures but the overall effect is generally weak - especially since these are the only cards that seem to have specific synergy with Modular decks.
Red may be another possibility if you can consistently turn your Atog into an artifact creature with cards like Ashnod's Transmogrant. This would allow for an extra bonus when the Atog gets hungry and has to eat one of its Arcbound buddies.
Overall, I don't expect Modular cards to have a big effect on PEZ, certainly I don't expect any of these decks to be tournament worthy any time soon. That is not to say that I don't expect to see Modular creatures anywhere, however. It is likely that the well priced Arcbound Stinger will make its way into Affinity decks and the Worker may even kick Ornithopter out of the running while it is certainly superior to Phyrexian Walker in Affinity builds.
Migraine - The Skullclamp Deck
Skulltap is simply a great card that fits well with many Black themes and provides a powerful card drawing engine. The downside of this great card is that you can only have four in your deck so there is no way to really build a deck around it. Well, Darksteel provides us with Skultap on a stick and I just couldn't be more excited.
This deck is very much an Aggro/Control build with more control than aggro. The cheap creatures, Abyssal Gatekeeper in particular, are effective at limiting opponent's creature threats while these cards are backed up with a strong discard component. In most decks, this would remain a weak strategy because it would lose momentum quickly and has no threats big enough to finish before the opponent could recuperate but with Skullclamp in play sending creatures to the graveyard generally produces 3 for 1 card advantage. Because many of these creatures would affect you as well make sure that you pay attention to board dynamics in order to maximize card advantage. Additionally, the ability to draw often means that the deck will refill its hand a turn or two after the Skullclamp hits the table allowing for diverse game options.
Backing these creatures up with efficient, though limited, recursion helps to keep key abilities from being used too quickly and makes Skullclamp just as attractive with the "Comes into play" creatures.
Well, life has kept me too busy recently so I don't want to spend more time here. Hopefully next week will be a little slower and I will have something even better then. In the meantime feel free to write and get active on the Yahoo group and Message boards.
Jason Chapman -
Copyright 2001 Pojo.com
Gathering is a Registered Trademark of Wizards of the Coast.
This site is not affiliated with Wizards of the Coast and is not an Official Site.