Duels of the Planeswalkers: Teeth of the Predator (Part 1 of 2)
Garruk has an unusual bit of competition in the Duels of the Planeswalkers set, which is to say that he is one of the two Green-based decks available (somewhat curiously, no White deck was made). To find out how Garruk’s Teeth of the Predator deck stacks up in comparison, I sat down with Sam to pair the two off against one another. Would the Wildspeaker pack enough punch to overcome Nissa’s Ears of the Elves?
Sam’s on the play to begin, and drops a Forest and an Elvish Eulogist to start the tribal ball rolling. And while there’s nothing tribal about the Wall of Wood, I’m happy enough to get it out early as my opening play. We drop nothing but land on turn 2, and on turn 3 I finally have a threat: Trained Armodon.
As we enter turn 4, Sam is looking good with three Forests and a Swamp, and taps to play the Lys Alana Huntmaster. I go in with my Armodon for 3 and trot out a distinctly unsexy Giant Spider, who is freshly celebrating news that he’ll be reprinted in Magic 2011.
Not to be outdone (feh), the Moonglove Winnower enters the battlefield on turn 5, which generates an Elf token from the Huntmaster. Meanwhile, Big Dumb Beats(tm) roll on with me turning five Forests sideways and laying down a Spined Wurm.
It’s now decision time.
In my hand I have a sixth Forest, a Howl of the Night Pack and an Overrun. The Howl costs a whopping seven mana, which means I’ll get seven 2/2 Wolf tokens for casting it, but also means I’m going to have to delay my attack at least a couple more turns fishing for that elusive seventh Forest. This could, statistically, take up to three turns, which means no swarm until turn 8 because I want every body I can get for the Overrun.
Against some decks, those few extra turns might not be troubling, but having played with Ears I know how big the deck can get in a hurry, and she proves my point on turn 6 with Jagged-Scar Archers, a robust now 6/6 Elf who promises only to get bigger.
Telling myself that I’m taking the smart play over the pretty play, I cast the Overrun and go all in with the Armodon, the Spider, and the Wurm. When the dust settles, the Spider Stands alone, but her Elves are much reduced in number (including the Archers) and Sam stands at 8 life. I’m still at 20.
I eventually do draw that seventh forst, on turn 9, and drop the Howl. Her Immaculate Magistrate makes a cameo at the end, but the wolves finish their good work in short order.
This one’s ugly. Sam opens up again with the Elvish Eulogist, and gets in an early attack before I lay a defender on turn 2 (Runeclaw Bear). She adds Gaea’s Herald next, while I have to make do with a Wurm’s Tooth. Not the worst position to be in, but it all goes pear-shaped when she drops the Lys Alana Huntmaster on turn 4, the Immaculate Magistrate on turn 5, and Elvish Promenade on turn 6.
Sam sends increasingly massive elves to pummel me until I die.
It doesn’t take long.
An epic contest, the tiebreaker. History repeats itself in the opening as Sam plays an Elvish Eulogist and I answer with a Runeclaw Bear. Turn 3 brings me a Civic Wayfinder (and another Forest to hand), and the Bear starts going to work in the red zone. When Sam lays the Immaculate Magistrate in turn 4, though, I start to sweat.
Sam wastes no time in establishing board dominance as she drops a pair of Elven Riders on turns 5-6, and I have no answer to the problem at hand until I topdeck Vigor on turn 7. Vigor! If there was one card in my deck that would laugh in the face of massive elves, it is this one, and I send the Bears and a Spined Wurm I cast on turn 5 into the red knowing she’ll be loathe to block (but can’t afford not to).
Sam takes the 2 from the Bears but blocks the Wurm with some riders, and the Wurm becomes 11/10. Now it’s Sam’s turn for a conumdrum, as she’s got an Eyeblight’s Ending in grip and two tempting targets. She makes the right play, though, when she kills Vigor, and I see my dreams of an evening’s victory slowly begin to circle the bowl.
I still go in with Vigor’s legacy, the massive Wurm, and she blocks with her Elvish Riders. A pair (!) of Giant Growths later, my Wurm is resting with Vigor in the graveyard and her elves are celebrating with mulberry wine.
Sam’s Moonglove Winnower in turn 8 is decorative, as she gets there with the Riders.
Nissa was right! Dabbling in Black magic certainly has given her Elves an edge, and the beasts and fauna of the wood that heed Garruk’s call can only hang their heads in shame.
What went wrong?
Join me Thursday as I deconstruct Teeth of the Predator, and uncover some fundamental (and fatal) flaws in its composition.