Archenemy: Trample Civilization Underfoot (Part 1 of 2)
Halfway through Archenemy, we’ve assembled a doomsday machine and brought about the undead apocalypse, but one could not be faulted for wondering… what options are there for the more primal-minded? The diabolical, mad-as-a-hatter misanthrope who’d like nothing more than to see cities crumble, roads fall to ruin and fields go to seed?
Well wonder no more, friend, have we got the package for you! 60 cards which would make the Dominarian version of the Earth Liberation Front proud, we have Trample Civilization Underfoot!
Coming as a surprise to no-one, Trample is the most creature-heavy of the four Archenemy decks, possessing only 13 noncreature spells. That said, it’s also a surprisingly well-rounded deck with some intriguing synergies.
Beasts of the Wood
Let’s start with the critters.
The first thing you’ll note is that the deck has a strong beater focus. Every creature in the deck is either Green or multicolour/hybrid, and while there are a number of utility creatures packed in here, Trample seems to have a soft spot reserved for utility critters that can also deliver a beating.
It also gives you a number of tools geared towards ramping up your mana base, a Green specialty, all of which have a body attached to them- no Rampant Growths or Harrows here! Two Walls of Roots act as supplemental mana generators while blunting an early creature rush. A pair of Sakura-Tribe Elders fetch lands, and there’s the token mana dork- in this case, a Leaf Gilder.
Moving past the two-drops, the three-drop area are also similarly focused, but with a twist. The four ramp-creatures in this range have been selected for versatility as much as utility, for in them you get a choice. A pair of Fertilids ask you: what do you need more, a 3/3 body or some lands? The two Yavimaya Dryads offer a similar decision: do you want the Forest they bring with them for mana production? Or would you rather place it under your opponent’s control so that their Forestwalk is guaranteed to matter?
Importantly, Trample tends to favour adding resources in the form of lands versus mana dorks. Indeed, the deck notably sports no one-drop critters, as if telling you immediately to gear up for the long haul as it gives you the tools to make it pay off.
And pay off it does.
Then the Bough Breaks
Upon closer inspection, Trample becomes quite a bit subtler than the general Green strategy of Ramp Up, Cast Fatties, Smash Face. That option’s certainly there, of course, well represented by the Krosan Tusker (who further adds to the land ramp with his Cycling+Basic Land ability); a Pale Recluse (which landcycles too); the stalwart Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer (fresh from pulling duty in the Teeth of the Predator); the Feral Hydra; and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa (who can animate your land and cast an Overrun every turn until your enemy is just a smudge on the forest floor). An impressive list on its own, let’s now turn to the other synergistic win condition the deck offers.
To players who know and love the Avenger of Zendikar and/or are well familiar with the strategy of taking a bunch of free little things, making them bigger, and swarming in for the kill, Trample will seem like deja-vu all over again. Rather than Plant tokens, however, Trample looks to get there with those Fallen Empires favourites, the lowly Saprolings.
The Selesnya Guildmage acts as a splendid mana sink to pop out the little buggers. A Thelonite Hermit not only can conjure up a quartet of them, but acts as a Lord (giving them all +1/+1). A friend to EDH players everywhere, the deck packs in three Legends, and the last one- Verdeloth the Ancient– is the keystone of the Saproling stratagem, acting as both X-many Saproling generator as well as a second Lord. Finally, Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree is an alternate- and harder to eliminate- token generator. If you can’t get there with Big Dumb Beats ™, Trample sets you up for success nonetheless by giving you the swarm option (bolstered by tricks like Kamahl’s Overrun and Shinen of Life’s Roar clearing a path).
And Now, the Best of the Rest
One might reasonably expect the usual suite of Green combat tricks and throwaways to populate the non-creature spells, but here the deck’s designers appear to have been rather canny about trying to shore up most of Green’s weaknesses (for indeed, Trample Civilization Underfoot only really splashes White for utility).
There are answers to flying creatures in the form of Spider Umbra and the M11 “preview card” Plummet, in addition to the Pale Recluse. But more than that, there’s some very solid spot removal in here as well. A single Path to Exile and a pair of Oblivion Rings– top-tier Standard cards all- give Green some very real answers to the customary problems of blockers and- yes- even enemy Planeswalkers.
For those decks relying on them. there’s plenty of artifact and enchantment hate as well. The O-Rings, Wax//Wane, Gleeful Sabotage, and even a pair of Wickerbough Elders amongst the beaters. Add a splash of creature enhancement (the pesky, cockroach-like Rancor, Armadillo Cloak), a wee dram of utility (Primal Command, Harmonize), and- alas- a couple subpar options (Heroes’ Reunion, Fog) round out the list.
As an added bonus, players perhaps looking for some nonbasic lands for their cube will appreciate the nine this deck is populated with. These range from simple Commons such as Secluded Steppe, Tranquil Thicket, and the slightly-out-of-place Khalni Garden; to mana-fixers and the truly unusual (Graypelt Refuge, Krosan Verge, Nantuko Monastery, Llanowar Reborn); and even to a Rare (Mosswort Bridge). It was a nice touch to see the deck not just come with a string of basic lands and a couple bland “flavour lands.”
All in all, Trample has a very solid feel to it. It’s well-curved, where other Green precons can take on a bit of a “gutshot” feel (here’s some weenies and some fatties, you’ll need to just grip and hold on in between), and having some flexibility with your creature strategy is a welcome break from Big Dumb Beats ™. That it’s a nice collection of cards with a smattering of Lands and Legends is added gravy. It does seem that Wizards has begun keeping an eye out for its EDH community as well, making preconstructed decks have value even when broken down into raw cards.
But having torn the deck apart, the question now becomes… how does it play? Does it give you enough tools to stabilise and begin to ramp? Is there an appreciable impact in basically yielding the first turn every game, having no turn-1 play, or can it make up the lost momentum through speed and size?
Thanks for joining us on the dissection. Come on back in two days’ time, and we’ll have the answer!