Saturday, February 26, 2011

Deck Tech: Super Saiyan Shock

A couple months back, I had built a deck known as SuperShock, my adaptation of the original post-rotation vampires list as was introduced to me by Bryan Haak during the last States.  I apologize, for some reason I can't find the exact list, but a similar build by Caleb Durward can be found here, only with three Doom Blades over Vendettas and Dark Tutelage and Captivating Vampire beating out two Pawn of Ulamogs and the equipment.

I was disappointed with how my deck was doing at states, and so immediately began to build and play around with vampires.  After testing with it for a bit, however, I just felt like it wasn't meeting expectations.  I felt the strongest parts of the deck were the 'shock creatures', the Highborns, Pulse Trackers and Lacerators dealing two damage for one mana.  The other card I found interesting that I had previously considered unplayable was Dark Tutelage, since it really limits your card choices available for the deck, but the fact is that you simply need those extra draws to keep the pressure up.  Dark Tutelage serves as the aggressive player's Jace, giving you the much needed +1 card a turn.

Bob Maher, eat your heart out.

So I went to build a deck, and the plan was simple: fill the deck with 'shock' effects, and back it up with Dark Tutelage.  The end result became Super Shock 1.0, with Lightning Bolt, Galvanic Blast, Burst Lightning, Forked Bolt, and Goblin Guide serving as 20 shocks, an entire third of the deck.  One more third was dedicated to lands, and the rest became Dark Tutelage, Arc Trail, Searing Blaze, Staggershock, and Doom Blade.  Eventually, Pyromancer's Ascension was added, then eventually cut yet again in favor of Bloodchief Ascension.

Like Kalastria Highborns, only less killable and more annoying.  Also, just loves it when you fetch.

The deck simply dominated against creature aggro decks such as Vampires, Elves, Goblins, WW Quest, etc., since nothing they cast can stay on the board, and the Bloodchief Ascension allows me to kill their creatures, recover from Dark Tutelage, and burn their face all at the same time.  Control remained much tougher a matchup, but being able to resolve Dark Tutelage or hitting multiple Goblin Guides would usually net me the game.  The tough matchup was Valakut, I had no consistent answer against it at the time, and at the time it was everywhere.

Best target for Spreading Seas.  No exceptions.

Nowadays, this deck has a lot more room to grow up.  Even the control decks are relying on Squadron Hawk and Stoneforge Mystic, and with Arc Trail and Forked Bolt in the main, it's all too easy to deal with.  Valakut is almost never seen, and creature aggro decks like Boros make up the entire rest of the field.  Splashing black, as opposed to RDW, gives you answers to big threats/pro red with Doom Blade/Go for the Throat, hand advantage in the form of Dark Tutelage, an extra damage source from Lavaclaw Reaches, and powerful hand disruption in the form of Duress.  Often, your only losses will come from Valakut or an opposing burn deck, since your Dark Tutelage will usually seal your own fate, and these matchups are few and far between.

However, my most recent builds have really altered the focus of the deck.  Instead of being largely creatureless, additions such as Kargan Dragonlords and Koth of the Hammer have tooled the deck less toward a burn/control deck and more toward an aggressive assault that uses burn and DT to keep the board clear and maintain pressure.  I simply feel like I can't call it Super Shock any more, as it's evolved from it's original list.  And after cutting Staggershock from the build, there technically isn't even a 'Shock' in the deck.  Since leveling up the Dragonlord into a huge, Squak-eating monstrosity reminds me of a certain anime, and the build is a 'powered up' version of the original, the new name became apparent rather quickly: Super Saiyan Shock.

It's over 9000!!!!!!!

Without further ado, I give you my current list for SSS.

Creatures (8)
  • 4 Goblin Guide
  • 4 Kargan Dragonlord

Spells (31)
  • 2 Bloodchief Ascension
  • 4 Burst Lightning
  • 4 Forked Bolt
  • 4 Galvanic Blast
  • 4 Lightning Bolt
  • 3 Go for the Throat
  • 1 Doom Blade
  • 2 Arc Trail
  • 4 Dark Tutelage
  • 3 Koth of the Hammer

Lands (21)
  • 4 Lavaclaw Reaches
  • 4 Dragonskull Summit
  • 4 Blackleave Cliffs
  • 9 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
  • 4 Tunnel Ignus
  • 4 Duress
  • 2 Brittle Effigy
  • 2 Phyrexian Revoker
  • 3 Doom Blade
Now, -1 Dark Tutelage and -3 lands, the deck's average CMC is 1.125, so you should, with a normal draw, take one a turn from DT, effectively making it a Phyrexian Arena.  My build runs three deepthroats in the main and only one Doom Blade, since my meta at FNM has me playing against Grave Titans and Vampires more than tezzerator, you may choose a different loadout accordingly.  Three more Dooms in the board are there to counter Tezzeret and Kor Firewalker, however.

What I'd by far prefer running.

The Koths in the deck are a powerhouse, but are most effective at killing enemy planeswalkers.  A 4/4 that can't be bounced by Jace, killed by Gideon, or wrathed away by Elspeth provides a huge amount of pressure.  Will either kill JtMS or put him at one, and will drop Gideon by half or kill him after an assassinate, and makes sure that Elspeth can't do anything but +2 every turn.  I'll admit, he's worse in aggro matchups, but when you have so much of an advantage against aggro already, you can afford to keep Koth in the main.  At least, that's what I've felt like so far.

It's a shame, he needs longer hair to be a DBZ character.

Tunnel Ignus is great board tech against the ever-present Valakut matches you'll inevitably face, often preventing an opponent from going off.  Valakut's normal T3, something like fetch, crack fetch, Cultivate/Explore, crack Khalni Heart Expedition, will deal a total of 13 damage to the opponent if you resolved a Tunnel Ignus the turn before.  Outside of the obvious pick, Ignus is also amazing against any Lotus Cobra deck, such as UG or UGx Genesis Wave.  Anything that relies on 12+ fetches will usually have to pick between taking a bolt to the face and being a turn behind on mana.

Seriously, he's that good.

Duress seems like an obvious pick to me, and is amazing at nicking planeswalkers, swords, counterspells, removal, or whatever other disruption your opponent had planned.  I see no reason to run Inquisition over Duress, since any creature that costs three mana or less is easy for the deck to deal with, except maybe Leatherback Baloth.  But who the hell cares about Leatherback Baloth?  Duress can get rid of JtMS and other annoying planeswalkers, as well as Consume the Meek, Leylines, Bonehoard, Memoricide, and other cards that the rest of your deck simply has a hard time answering, if it can answer them at all.

Funny, playing a Duress T1 on the play will put your opponent in a state of duress.

Brittle Effigy is my way of dealing with Molten-Tail Masticore, Wurmcoil Engine, Vengevine, Bloodghast, and an assortment of other targets.  The downside is that it doesn't ramp Bloodchief Ascension, plus that it's strictly slower than my Doom Blade effects, so it doesn't get a slot in the main.  If you decide to build this deck and keep Koth in the board, this is the card you'd run in the main to replace him.

One thing that I like about this deck is simply how consistent the hands are.  Since a third of the deck is one mana for two damage (minimum) and another third is land, usually only two cards out of your hand will be non-removal at the most, making it very unlikely to require a mulligan.  While many decks in the format will mulligan aggressively to get what they need, you'll stay at seven cards practically every game and be much better off for it.

The one thing that there's really no answer to at the moment is Thrun.  The last troll hates anime, apparently, and will bash the face in of anyone running SSS.  The best way to deal with him is Black Sun's Zenith, which I am currently considering for the deck.  However, Thrun is the only card in the format I really need it for, and Thrun isn't played too much at all, so I'm not too concerned with finding the slot for it at the moment.  If he grows in popularity, then I'll worry about it when the time comes.

Alright, I hope you all weren't too bored out of your minds with backstory while I was getting to the point, but  in any case, this is Mistah Boweh saying so long and thanks for all the fish.  You'd be surprised to find out what your mom can do with an eel.

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  1. no slagstorm / pyroclasm?

  2. Not necessary. Notice the four Forked Bolts and two Arc Trails maindecked. I used to run Pyro, and very rarely would it ever be used on more than one creature, and often it would be a dead card in hand since the deck has so much removal that my opponent should never have more creatures than I can kill unless they're Kudoltha Red, and against Kudoltha Red I'll be able to kill enough of their creatures that they'll run out of steam long before beating for lethal damage, especially if I have the above mentioned forked bolts and arc trails. The deck has such an advantage in creature aggro matchups already that Pyro really isn't needed.

  3. i still think that slagstorms would be useful in the deck. especially against valakut. when then have 9 avenger tokens and they sac a fetch and you can only kill two of them, a slagstorm could really come in handy

  4. Valakut will die before they get up to nine lands thanks to three damage a land from Tunnel Ignus, and avenger will be killed as a response to his EtB trigger, meaning that I won't let him put any counters on anyways.