Magic 2013: Mob Rule (Part 2 of 2)
Halfway through Magic 2013, and it’s time to look at the deck from a certain shady underworld figure in Ravnica. To give my deck a run for its money, Sam’s back with Depths of Power, the Blue/Red deck featuring Talrand, Sky Summoner.
And we’re off! Sam leads with a Kraken Hatchling off of an Island, while I land a Mountain and pass. Next turn she adds a Fog Bank, presenting the formidable defense I know her deck to be capable of. By comparison, my answering Krenko’s Command seems rather feeble.
Now turn 3, it’s Sam’s turn to blank on her turn, though she still finds an Island to put into play. For my part, it’s a very welcome Rummaging Goblin, considering the number of Mountains I’ve drawn into. Back to Sam, she establishes an aerial presence with Talrand’s Invocation, and now I’m on a clock. Pitching a Mountain to the Rummaging Goblin nets me a Furnace Whelp, which I then play.
When Sam’s Drakes come in on turn 5, I decline the block and set my life counter to 16. She then follows with a Wind Drake and ends her turn. Over to me, I rummage an Evolving Wilds out of a Mountain, but having drawn a Forest I play that instead. This lets me tap out for a Fire Elemental rather than wasting a turn waiting for the Wilds to hatch. Next turn, Sam’s Drake army crack in for 6 to leave me at 10 after a Searing Spear smokes my Whelp. She then cracks an Evolving Wilds she’s played to go get a Mountain, then ends her turn. She passes, and I am desperate for an answer. My Rummager throws away my own Evolving Wilds, drawing me a Volcanic Geyser. I use it to kill off the Fog Bank, then swing with everything. Sam blocks a Goblin token with the Hatchling, going down to 14.
It’s the last damage I’ll do. She attacks in the air on turn 7, and when I fail to draw anything of use I scoop.
On the play this time, I open with a Goblin Arsonist, then follow with a Torch Fiend after an early attack on the following turn. Sam’s first play comes immediately after, laying down an Augur of Bolas and finding a Rewind for her hand. Back to me, I attack for 3 with both my creatures, hoping to apply some early pressure. Sam blocks with the Augur, and I use a Titanic Growth to kill it off while saving my creature. I then add a second Arsonist and pass. Sam’s turn 3 is an encouraging blank.
Now turn 4, I take Sam down to 14 with an all-out attack, then keep the pressure mounting with a Dragon Hatchling- not the best of threts, considering all but one of my lands thus far are Forests. Sam finds a Talrand’s Invocation, and is creatureless no longer. Next turn I attack in again, and Sam trades both of her Drake tokens to kill off an Arsonist and Fiend. Back to her, she then retrieves the Invocation with an Archaeomancer, and suddenly I’m feeling like I’ve thrown away an advantage.
Now turn 6, I summon the mighty Mogg Flunkies and pass, while Sam taps out for a Fog Bank and the Talrand’s Invocation. I follow with a Reckless Brute, then attack in with it and the Flunkies. Sam blocks the Flunkies with the Fog Bank, then trades off the Archaeomancer for my Brute. Sam’s deck is so value-oriented that simply by breaking even, I fall behind. Sam then swings with her Drakes to leave me at 16.
I try to even things out with a Flames of the Firebrand on turn 8, but it draws an unhesitating Negate. Attacking for 4 with my Flunkies and Arsonist, the Arsonist gets past the Fog Bank and puts Sam down to 12. At this rate, it’s very slow going. All the slower when Sam follows up with an Elixir of Immortality, then another 4-point Drake attack. We trade blows for the next couple of turns, but with her damage output quadruple mine, it’s not hard to see where this is headed.
Sam’s able to double down on turn 11 after finding another Talrand’s Invocation off of her Augur of Bolas, and it’s all over from there. My one act of defiance is responding to her Mindclaw Shaman with a 6-point Volcanic Geyser to the face, putting Sam down to 8. I scoop the next turn.
Again on the play and hopeful of avoiding a sweep, I begin with a Mountain which Sam then matches. Next turn I land the Ring of Valkas, while Sam begins her defensive fortifications with a Kraken Hatchling.
Now turn 3, I find y first Forest with an Evolving Wilds, while Sam uses the opportunity to catch up on the artifact front with a Ring of Evos Isle. She equips it to the Hatchling and passes. Next turn I miss my first land drop, but am still able to play Fervor. Back to Sam, she begins with a +1/+1 counter on the Hatchling, then swings in for first blood with it. She then adds a Wind Drake and second Hatchling to the board, immediately getting a big jump in board position before passing.
I find a creature of my own on turn 5 with a Rummaging Goblin. I immediately trigger his loot effect, tossing away a Chandra’s Fury for a much-needed Mountain. Chandra’s Fury is a fine card and is capable of a one-for-many trade, but is less effective against Depths of Power’s defensive-minded army. I then equip my Ring to the Goblin and pass. For her part, Sam equips the Ring of Evos Isle onto her Drake after it gives the Hatchling another counter, making it a 2/6. Hatchling and Drake then turn sideways to swing in for 4.
During my upkeep on turn 6, Sam seems to come to a decision somewhat belatedly and solves my Rummaging Goblin with a Searing Spear, but not before I get to trigger it one more time. This time I throw away a Trumpet Blast, picking up Flames of the Firebrand. I then summon a Flinthoof Boar, which gets its haste free thanks to my enchantment. I then send it in to attack. Sam blocks it with the Hatchling, after which I use the Flames of the Firebrand to finish it off and take the Wind Drake along with it. Alas, Sam foils me with a Negate, and no advantage gained. Back to her, the Drake gets its first +1/+1 counter during her upkeep, and Sam attacks again for 5 to put me at 10.
Now turn 7, I tap out to summon a Fire Elemental, attacking with it immediately and hoping to leverage some pressure with it. Sam takes the 5, going to 15. Next turn her Drake gets bigger, after which she casts Divination to help refill her hand. She swings for 6, and I block her Hatchling with my Boar to take only 4. She then adds a Scroll Thief and passes.
Next turn, I take advantage of Sam’s tapping out to smoke the Drake with a Volcanic Geyser, hammering in gain with the Elemental for 5 more. For her part, Sam equips the Ring to the Scroll Thief and passes. Next turn the Elemental gets blocked by Sam’s 2/6 Hatchling, held back to defend. I follow with a Hatchling of my own- the Dragon- and then equip the Ring to the Elemental. Back to Sam, her Scroll Thief gets a counter and she adds a Mountain, but she seems to have no other play.
Now turn 10, I add a counter to the Elemental from the Ring to start things off, then attack in with the Dragon Hatchling in the air. After pumping it three times, Sam hits it with an Unsummon to bounce it back to hand. I recast it and pass. The Scroll Thief gets another counter once Sam untaps, and she then summons a Wind Drake which immediately sees the Ring transferred over to it. Next turn, I attack in for 7 with my growing Elemental, forcing Sam to offer up her 0/4 Hatchling as a chump-block. I then add an Arms Dealer and pass. Back to Sam, her Drake gets a counter, and she again draws cards with a Divination.
I come in for 8 with the Elemental on turn 12, and Sam is moved to action She gang-blocks with the Hatchling and Scroll Thief, and I opt to kill off the latter. She then finishes off my Elemental with a Searing Spear. I follow with a Krenko’s Command, then stick the Ring on my Hatchling. Over to Sam, she attacks for 4 with the Drake, and I roll the dice by letting it through. Down to 2 life, I watch as she then adds a pair of 2/2 Drakes with a Talrand’s Invocation. It’s a push, though, as I am forced to pop both of my 1/1 Goblin tokens to the Arms Dealer to kill both Drakes.
Now turn 13, I play a Furnace Whelp and another Krenko’s Command. I then add the Ring to the Whelp, attacking in for 2 with it to leave Sam at 8. Sam’s turn arrives, and she simply adds a counter to her Drake and ends the turn. Next turn the impasse is finally broken when I draw a Torch Fiend, letting me smash her Ring of Evos Isle. She triggers it once on the way out, keeping her buffed-up Drake alive a wee bit longer, but during her next upkeep I simply blow it up with the Arms Dealer and the Goblin tokens from Krenko’s Command. With that, Sam has no defense from my Firebreathers in the air, and scoops at her next draw.
Thoughts & Analysis
In writing this up it becomes clear that some of our play was perhaps a bit loose, but considering we were playing by candelight after a storm knocked out the power I’d say we did alright. Once, in the pregame friendly, I had the opportunity late in the game to summon Krenko, Mob Boss with a couple of Goblins in play, but by then it was too late for him to do much good- by the time he would hit that ‘critical double’ that would allow me to alpha strike with a massive token swarm, I’d be dead. It was the only time the deck felt like it had more than a cursory synergy.
That isn’t to say there’s some interactivity between cards, but it felt more like an independent series of two-card combos rather than a unified whole. I did get to live the dream of giving a doomed attacking Goblin Arsonist deathtouch with Serpent’s Gift, but that’s not going to happen all that often (more’s the pity).
Having long enjoyed mono-Red decks (and this one was a reasonable facsimile), it was surprising to find that I didn’t enjoy it more. It didn’t have enough of an early-game pop to get a toe in the door with Depths of Power, and while some of that speaks to the power of the much-maligned hexproof, the deck simply didn’t have enough actual substance to it.
Given the quality we’ve seen so far from Magic 2013, this seemed like a bit of a letdown. Krenko himself seems like a lot of fun in the right deck, and begs to be built around, but Mob Rule seems like more emphasis on mob and much less on rule.
Hits: Sufficient Goblin content to permit some fun interactions between a few keys cards like Arms Dealer and Krenko
Misses: Burn suite is a bit pricey, hindering its utility; deck seems less guided by a unifying theme or strategy as the past decks we’ve looked at; deck feels like it tries to do a little bit of everything with mediocrity rather than a few things really well
OVERALL SCORE: 3.90/5.00