Mirrodin: Wicked Big Review (Part 2 of 2)
It’s a battle of the artifact-centric versus artifact-hate, both in deck composition and theme. Wicked Big plays on Green’s historic antipathy towards artifice, while Bait & Bludgeon (piloted by Jimi) is one of the two artifact-centric decks in the set (the other being Sacrificial Bam). How will these two opposing forces get the measure of the other on the battlefield? We looked to find out, and here are our notes from the engagement.
I’m on the play, leading off with a Forest while Jimi trots out a Vault of Whispers. A good omen for me arrives next turn with an early Copper Myr, but Jimi’s building up her artifact/land base early with a Seat of the Synod. With no quick plays of my own, I draw first blood on turn 3 with the Myr and pass. Jimi then plays a Myr of her own (the Silver), and the game is underway!
Now turn 4, I summon a Tel-Jilad Exile, while Jimi develops her board with a Bottle Gnomes and Leaden Myr. Next turn I swing in with the Exile, using a Battlegrowth to kill off the blocking Gnomes. Jimi as expected sacs the Gnomes in reponse and is now at 22 life. I play a Journey of Discovery to snare a couple more Forests, and pass. For her part, Jimi sets down a Nim Shrieker, already a threat as a 4/1 (two mana Myr and two artifact land).
I swing in again with the Exile on turn 6, hitting for 3, then add a Fangren Hunter to the table. Jimi counterattacks with the flying Nim for 4, then adds to her air force with a Somber Hoverguard. Next turn I up the pressure with a 7-point attack which Jimi permits through, then escalate the tension with a Plated Slagwurm. It’s an exceedingly close game, as Jimi has the ability to chump my ground army while hitting for sizable chunks in the air each turn. Jimi’s turn-7 play is a Lodestone Myr after flying in for 8. I’m now at 8 life, Jimi at 12.
I blast her Lodestone Myr with a timely Creeping Mold, then swing with the team. Jimi chumps the Slagwurm and Exile with her mana Myr, but uses their mana to fuel a quick Thoughtcast on the way out. I use another Battlegrowth to grow my Fangren Hunter, and Jimi’s down to 6 life. Losing the mana Myr hurt her artifact count, which depowered the Shrieker, but if Jimi can play three artifacts on her next turn she’ll claim the game in the sky.
I’m nervous as she leads with a Vault of Whispers, then goes fishing with a Thirst for Knowledge. Sadly for her, she comes up empty and scoops.
I’d like to say that I go from strength to strength here, but sadly the deck’s overloaded back-end works against me, forcing a mulligan to 6 cards. Jimi develops her mana base for a couple of turns, while I manage an early Brown Ouphe– a critter with the potential to be a real pest against Bait & Bludgeon. I send in the Ouphe for a point of damage on turn 2, and first blood is drawn.
Now turn 3, Jimi gets on the board with a Serum Tank, which I destroy with a Deconstruct [Postscript: In writing this now I see I misplayed the card. I had use for the mana it adds to my mana pool upon resolution, but failed to do so. As I was entertaining the baby at the same time, I’m going to go ahead and blame this one on Liam]. I follow up the samshing of her precious card-drawing engine with another savage Ouphe attack, and Jimi’s down to 18. Next turn she patches the hole in her defenses with Bottle Gnomes, then ends her turn. I play a Copper Myr and pass.
Jimi finally begins her offense on turn 5 with a Nim Shrieker after attacking with the Gnomes. Back to me, I deploy a Tel-Jilad Chosen– a nice bit of protection but not for what I’m needing it from. Jimi ramps up her artifact count next turn with a Bottle Gnomes and Scale of Chiss-Goria. After swinging in with the Nim for 5, she adds a Somber Hoverguard as my problems increase. At the end of her turn I summon a Needlebug, but sadly there’s not much of a role for it. Back to me, I attack for 4 of my own (making us even at 14-all), then add a Trolls of Tel-Jilad.
For her part, Jimi adds another Seat of the Synod (her third this game) on turn 7, then swings in for 9 with the flying Nim and Hoverguard duo. I can do nothing to stop them. She then plays a Thirst for Knowledge, pitching a Lodestone Myr. Over to me, I finally topdeck an answer in the form of a Tel-Jilad Archers, but Jimi nips it in the bud with Assert Authority. That was my last gasp- I’m done.
My turn-2 Tel-Jilad Chosen start things off, but are met immediately by a Frogmite after Jimi’s started off with a pair of Vault of Whispers. Next turn I swing in for my opening attack for 2, then go land-fetching with the very useful Journey of Discovery. Jimi counterattacks with the Frogmite for 2 of her own, then drops a Serum Tank.
Now turn 4, I keep the beats rolling (and deny Jimi her card-drawing engine) when I summon a Viridian Shaman, destroying the Tank. I then pump up the Chosen with a Battlegrowth and attack for 3. Jimi drops me to 16 with a second Frogmite assault, then adds a Somber Hoverguard. Still, my deck seems to be ramping nicely as I curve into a turn-5 Fangren Hunter, now the biggest body on the board. Of course, I first resolve a 5-point attack, which Jimi allows through- she’s now at 10 life. Back to Jimi, she goes fishing with a Thirst for Knowledge and seems to come up a bit short, pitching two Islands. She plays a Leaden Myr and passes.
I keep the pressure on with a turn-6 massed assault. Her Hoverguard trades with my Chosen, while we swap the Frogmite for my Viridian Shaman. In card-advantage terms it’s a neutral exchange- sure I lost an extra card with the Battlegrowth, but then the Shaman made up for the card advantage by killing the Serum Tank so it’s even. I’m happy to clear the board a bit and give my big fella a little room to manoeuver. I play a Copper Myr and pass. Over to Jimi, she plays Bottle Gnomes. She’s at 6 life.
I again go all-in next turn with the Myr and the Hunter. Jimi uses the Gnomes to soak up some of the trample damage from the Hunter, while I use a Predator’s Strike on the Myr to make it hit even harder. When the dust clears, Jimi’s clinging on at 2. I’m still at 16. Back to her, she musters some defense in the form of the Myr Enforcer, but I topdeck a Creeping Mold to kill it and swing for the win.
Thoughts & Analysis
This deck does one thing, and it does it reasonably well: summon creatures and smash face with them. The problem the deck has is that it’s so overloaded with fatties that it has a tendency to throttle out your early plays. Game Three is a good example of this- the play-by-play makes it look like I steamrolled Jimi, and to a certain extent that’s true, but hers was an admittedly poor performance from a deck capable of greater things. By the time I won the match, I had three cards remaining in my hand- a Living Hive and two Trolls of Tel-Jilad- and I could cast none of them. Had Jimi mounted a more robust defense, I’d be stuck either looking to topdeck an answer (like the Creeping Mold), or let the game stall out while I kept praying for more land.
Green Beats strategies do their best work along two principles. First, your creatures are pound-for-pound better than theirs are- and in Green, this is usually true. Second, you’re able to get them out faster than your opponent is able to deal with them. A turn-1 Arbor Elf into a turn-2 Leatherback Baloth is a sight nobody likes to sit across from- fast n’ fat, you’re on a pretty short timer.
Green mitigates its heavy dependence on fatties by also generally having the best mana ramping options in the game, but here we see very little of them- four Copper Myr and a pair of Journeys of Discovery. In a deck so colossally overloaded in the back end, this just isn’t enough. I’d have gladly pruned out some of the combat tricks and extraneous cards in exchange for more ramping, as it would make the deck more consistent overall. In short, the deck is very draw dependant, and can win or lose based on your opening hand. Too much fat and you’ll be begging for midgame options while your opponent establishes board dominance, and you’ll never catch up in time.
The artifact-hate subtheme is perfectly fine here- I never felt like it gave a huge advantage in the way that protection sometimes can. But the paths to improvement are obvious- Wicked Big is a deck that needs to go on a diet.
Hits: Fun, straightforward beats deck; very simple, this is a deck most anyone can play right out of the box and not get lost
Misses: Massive, bloated mana curve; too few ramp options to get there consistently
FINAL SCORE: 3.80/5.00