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April 23, 2011

2

Mirrodin: Wicked Big Review (Part 1 of 2)

by Dredd77

Continuing the lamentable trend of really dumb deck names (the last deck always invoked Emeril Lagasse for us) is Mirrodin’s Wicked Big, a relative rarity amongst preconstructed decks: mono-Green! Although at the time mono-Green beats decks were relatively common (see: Judgment’s Painflow, Legions’ Elvish Rage), the next block’s Snake’s Path from Champions of Kamigawa would be the last non-Core Set deck of this type. The premise behind Wicked Big is about as straightforward as it gets: cast huge creatures and beat on your opponent with them. This being Mirrodin, of course, there’s a subtheme of artifact hate as well.

This gives the deck an interesting character. In Scars of Mirrodin, the “sequel” expansion, five theme decks were released. One was a tribal Myr deck, another three showcased mechanical keywords (metalcraft, infect, and proliferate), and all four had a significant artifact component. This left room for one deck (Relic Breaker) to act as “spoiler,” 60 cards loaded with artifact hate that would keep the other 240 cards ‘honest’ and provide some thematic balance. The downside to this was something we concluded in our review of the deck:

Relic Breaker might well be the deck most dependant upon the Scars of Mirrodin environment, and therefore the one that would suffer the most facing decks outside of it.

The same would seem to be true of Wicked Big, linking the two by a common chain of descent despite the colour difference. There are a number of cards here that are very strong against artifacts and artifact creatures, and that get significantly worse the less reliant your opponent is upon them. Take, for instance, the Tel-Jilad Archers. Against an artifice-free deck, they’re an overpriced Giant Spider. Viridian Shaman? Overpriced Grizzly Bear, and a potential problem: because her ability is a must and not a may trigger, if the only artifacts on the board are yours, she’s either staying put in your hand or smashing your own artifact on the way in- neither option being a reliable path to victory.

Cause the Most Damage

If you’re ever in a car at night with Dan Aykroyd and he asks you, “Do you wanna see something really scary,” beat him to the punch by showing him the following mana curve:

That’s not a typo, it really is ten top-of-curve drops: however ridiculous the name “Wicked Big” is, you can’t say you weren’t warned.

Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of creatures in the deck. The first group are the requisite mana rampers for such a highly-costed strategy, and here you get a playset of Copper Myr. The other two groups are the artifact haters and the beaters. The artifact haters tend to be on the smaller side (at best you’ll find a 2/4) but with a slew of useful utilities that hose artifact-heavy decks. As mentioned above, the deck brings two Viridian Shamans to smash a trinket coming into play. The Brown Ouphe– in addition to having hilarious flavour text- wreacks havoc on artifacts with an activated ability, essentially locking them down. The rest of the cards in this category all have protection from artifacts, allowing them to shut down artifact creatures on defense, or waltz through unblocked if that’s all your opponent has on the table. Again, if they’re not playing any, all you’ve got is an assortment of overpriced bodies, but that’s the risk you run.

Your first prot-creature is the Tel-Jilad Chosen, a simple 2/1 for two mana. From there you have a much tricker bit of business in the Needlebug, a 2/2 with flash. Like many such creatures, the Needlebug even serves as an ersatz form of removal, an ‘ambush blocker’ that has the ability to avoid trading with a creature of equal size if that creature happens to have an artifact subtype. Finally, with a little more meat on the bones, we come to the pair of Tel-Jilad Archers. Essentially a Giant Spider with protection, you’d usually hope for a little more of a game-changer when you drop five mana on something. In that regard, although the Archers can play a vital role against a skies deck, they are something of a weak link here in a deck already overcrowded with expensive things.

Case in point: the beaters. Sure you have a few relatively inexpensive options- a Slith Predator (which only becomes a bargain after it’s hit your opponent twice) and a Tel-Jilad Exile. The Exile in particular is a solid fit here, as creatures with regeneration can help stall the board out and give you time to develop. Beyond that, though, it’s a virtual rogues’ gallery of fat. A full playset of Fangren Hunters starts you off with a solid, trampling body. Trolls of Tel-Jilad may be hideously expensive, but the upside is that they bring an activated ability to the table that benefits almost every creature in the deck. The Plated Slagwurm is not only monstrous in size, but very difficult to deal with because of its “troll shroud” (shroud that only inhibits your opponent). Finally, at the very apex of the curve we have the Living Hive, which can take over the game very quickly with a flood of 1/1 Insects. At this price point, any card should have the ability to make a huge impact on your board state, and many of these will.

If you live long enough to summon them.

The Deadliest Force on Mirrodin

To help you get there, the deck does come equipped with a number of noncreature support cards of the expected variety. Naturally, combat tricks have the highest density, with Bloodscent (a Lure-type ability which can set up a lethal strike on your opponent), two Predator’s Strikes (essentially Giant Growth with trample thrown in for one more mana), and Battlegrowth. Battlegrowth is an interesting variant on the usual Growth approach- it only offers a +1/+1 bonus, but that bonus is permanent.

There’s a smidge of removal in a Deconstruct and two Creeping Molds. The Molds are absolute gold for any pilot of this deck, as Green’s spot removal is almost nonexistant. If you draw into one of these, cling to it tightly. From there we have a disappointingly small dose of mana ramping in the two Journeys of Discovery, and an extra “creature” spell in One Dozen Eyes, the latter two showcasing the set’s entwine mechanic. The difference between entwine and kicker is semantic at best, so little explanation is really needed for it: pay more, get more.

On the whole this deck is a powerful and frightening force, but in the “sword with two points” sort of way. The opponent will be worried what starts to happen if they can’t kill you quick enough. You get to worry if you’ll be able to cast your fatties in time. All in all, it should make for an interestign experience, and in our next piece we’ll be taking it into the field.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. web8970
    Apr 23 2011

    I guess decks like these are the reason for the Limited format: If you know in advwance you’re up against artifacts, have a happy relic-breaking day. If, however, used in a casual group where everyone plays according to his own taste, you might as well be screwed with Wicked Big.
    But that’s one of the many reasons MtG is such a fantastic game: there is no strategy without appropriate countermeasures, no deck that cannot be beaten in one or another way … a manifestation of the rock-paper-scissors principle.

    But – as you point out – despite all the ramp given, the mana curve is frightening. I guess i would not be too fair to put Wicked Big up against a White Weenie or removal-heavy black deck as the weaknesses of such a curve would be widely exposed in such a matchup.

    I’m thrilled to see it in action … as always.

    Meanwhile, get well soon and have a Happy Easter!

    Reply
  2. Stric9
    Apr 24 2011

    I own this deck and it is painful to play with. It’s just so hard to do anything with the cards you draw when they cost that much to play with. By the time you’re able to drop anything, the opponent’s Atog has probably eaten all its artifacts on its way to a brutal victory. I enjoy big green beaters as much as the next, but too many is too slow.

    Reply

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