Return to Ravnica: Creep and Conquer Review (Part 2 of 2)
The table is set and the tea is brewed, an altogether overly civilised setting for the brutal savagery that’s about to take place. I’m piloting the Golgari and their Creep and Conquer Event Deck, while Jimi’s looking to dance on our graves with the Radkos and Wrack and Rage. Can she burn her way to victory, or will she just end up another body in the fungus pile?
Jimi leads with a Rakdos Guildgate, while I follow with the Golgari model. Next turn, she adds a Mountain to enable a Rix Maadi Guildmage. Meanwhile, I find a Drudge Beetle off of a Forest and end my turn.
Now turn 3, Jimi lands a Hellhole Flailer, unleashing it for higher damage potential. I summon a Korozda Guildmage and pass. Back to Jimi, she blasts the Guildmage with a Brimstone Volley to clear the path through the red zone before sending in the Flailer for 4. Down to 16, I play a Grim Backwoods, then bring forth the mighty Deadbridge Goliath after an opening attack with the Drudge Beetle.
Now turn 5, Jimi attacks again with the Flailer for another 4, and I let it through for impact. Jimi uses her Guildmage to drain me for a further 2 points of damage, then unleashes a Rakdos Cackler. Back to me, although half-dead I’ve plenty of fight left in me. A Druid’s Familiar drawn from the top of my library changes matters, as I’d been planning to pop the Goliath as sacrifice fodder to a Disciple of Bolas safely in hand. Instead, I play the Familiar, soulbond it to the Goliath and hammer in with a surprise 7/7. Jimi takes it on the chin, slumping to 11.
Next turn, she drops a Lightning Mauler, soulbonding it to the Flailer. She then turns both sideways for 6. I chump the Flailer with my Beetle, taking 2 to go down to 8. Jimi then adds another Rakdos Cackler to her board, clearly detailed for chumping duties as she foregoes unleashing it.
Now turn 7, I thwart her plan by sniping the chumpy Cackler with a Tragic Slip, then sending my Goliath into the breach. This forces Jimi to chump with the Rix Maadi Guildmage, after which I play a Dawntreader Elk and pass. Back to Jimi, she plays a Lightning Mauler followed by a Rakdos Cackler, sending in everything but the Mauler for 10. The Elk blocks the Flailer, then gets popped for land. The Mauler, meanwhile, gets blocked by the Druid’s Familiar. Back to me, I counterattack straightaway for 11 with the Familiar and Goliath. Her hangback Mauler chumps the 7/7, but the Familiar gets through. After she adjusts her life counter to 7, I use the free morbid trigger to Tragic Slip her Flailer, with her not having enough mana up to pop it in response. With its grim work done, I then offer the Goliath up to the Disciple of Bolas, reaping a windfall of seven cards and going back up to a safe life disatance.
From there, the game is all but won. Jimi plays a Knight of Infamy, far too late to do much good. This lets her attack in with an exalted Rakdos Cackler, but she’s a spent force. I drop an Ulvenwald Tracker to the board to soulbond with the Familiar, then scavenge the Goliath to pile counters onto the Disciple of Bolas. Now a 7/6, I send it in to attack alongside the Familiar for 11. Jimi chumps with the Knight and drops to 3. She concedes after her next draw.
Back on the play, Jimi opens with a Mountain while I follow with an Evolving Wilds, cracking it for a Swamp. Next turn she gets out the Rix Maadi Guildmage, while I am right behind with a Daggerdrome Imp. It’s one of the deck’s ‘closing’ options, but I’m hoping it serves a higher purpose: bait.
Now turn 3, Jimi deploys a Lightning Mauler and unleashed Rakdos Cackler, soulbonding the pair together to let her swing with everything for 6. Just like that, I’m down to 14 life. I counterattack with the Imp to go back up to 15, then lay down a Slitherhead. Next turn, Jimi comes in for 6 again, but I’ve got a Victim of Night at the ready for her nettlesome Guildmage. I also block the mauler with Slitherhead, taking 2 from the Cackler. Down to 13 life, I then watch as Jimi Pillars of Flame my Imp before adding a Knight of Infamy. Back to me, I take advantage of Jimi being nearly tapped out to send my Vampire Nighthawk onto the battlefield, scavenging the Slitherhead in the graveyard to give it a welcoming +1/+1 counter and help keep it out of the reach of Jimi’s Searing Spears.
Now turn 5, Jimi attacks in for 3 with the Cackler, putting me at 10. Back to me, I summon the Korozda Guildmage, then attack in for 3 with the Nighthawk. Using the Guildmage to pump it +1/+1 for the turn, Jimi’s now down to 15 life while I go up to 14. Jimi’s next play is a Rakdos Shred-Freak, letting her once again hammer in for 6. I take it on the chin, but then fire right back with the Nighthawk and Guildmage for 6 (after another pump). I then play a second Guildmage and end my turn.
Jimi’s relentless, however, and on turn 7 she once more comes at me with everything. I trade my backup Guildmage for her Knight of Infamy, taking a further 4 damage to go back down to 8. I then fire right back for another 6, going back up to 12.
Now turn 8, Jimi kills off my Guildmage with a Searing Spear, then springboards off the morbid trigger to blast my Nighthawk out of the sky with a Brimstone Volley. She attacks in for 4 with her troops, and I pick off the Shred-Frek with a Tragic Slip, going down to 10. Back to me, I play a Wolfir Silverheart and pass. next turn, Jimi plays a Rix Maadi Guildmage, but does nothing else. I then play a replacement Nighthawk, soulbonding it to the Silverheart. Turning it sideways for 8, Jimi chumps with her Guildmage. Again she draws nothing in the face of certain death, and scoops.
Looking to avoid the broom, Jimi opens with an unleashed Rakdos Cackler, while I’m in with an opening Slitherhead. Next turn after playing a Guildgate, she attacks for 2. I take advantage of the opportunity to get the Slitherhead into the graveyard and chump the attack. She unleashes a second Cackler and ends her turn. Back to me, I play a Korozda Guildmage, then scavenge the Slitherhead to give me a 3/3 on the board.
Now turn 3, Jimi plays another Guildgate then summons the Rakdos Shred-Freak, turning all three beaters sideways for 6. I block and kill the Shred-Fiend with the Guildmage, going down to 16. Back to me, I play a Guildgate of my own and end my turn. Next turn, down comes another Shred-Freak leading another 6-point charge, and the Shred-Freak meets the same fate as its predecessor. This time, however, Jimi’s holding the finishing move in a Pillar of Flame, and I’m now creatureless and at 12 life. That doesn’t last long, however, as I then deploy a Trusted Forcemage and Ulvenwald Tracker, soulbonding the pair together.
A turn-5 Searing Spear roasts the Tracker, and Jimi comes in with the Cackler duo for 4. She then adds a Rix Maadi Guildmage and ends her turn. For my part, I play a Korozda Guildmage, bonding it to the Forcemage. Next turn, Jimi adds a Lightning mauler to her Guildmage, turning the troops sideways for 8. I block the Mauler and Guildmage with my two creatures, and Jimi uses her Guildmage’s defender-punishing activated ability to make sure mine goes to the graveyard alongside hers. Down to 4 life and short on options, I play a Daggerdrome Imp, again bonding it to the cursed Forcemage.
Now turn 7, Jimi attacks again for 4. With Jimi’s hand only holding one card- and a freshly-drawn one at that- I decide to gamble on saving my Imp for rebuilding duties and only block one of the Cacklers with my 3/3 Forcemage. Jimi smiles and reveals the card in her hand: a Rakdos Charm. I take a point of damage for each of my two creatures, which means her Cackler slams in for lethal.
Thoughts & Analysis
Although I have some reservations about the deck which I’ll get to in a moment, I’d like to begin by saying that I applaud the direction Wizards has gone with the Event Decks as late. Gone is your choice of mono-coloured aggro or mono-coloured aggro, and in its place has come a number of more nuanced and intriguing options. The decks don’t always work, but there are definitely trier’s points to be had. Magic 2013 had a pair of winners in Repeat Performance, a deck full of Green stompy, and the Burning Vengeance-powered Sweet Revenge. Humanity’s Vengeance from Avacyn Restored struck a bit of an off-note in being more of a collection of good cards rather than a cohesive whole, while Spiraling Doom and it’s Birthing Pod shenanigans is a stellar example of what sort of competitive diversity is available in the format. Of course, Dark Ascension also gave us Gleeful Flames, a deck so poorly-reviewed that it didn’t even make the cut for inclusion in the 2011-12 Preconstructed Championships.
Like most event decks, segments of the community ripped the deck apart as being unfeasible, and from a Constructed perspective it’s hard to shake the feeling that they’re probably right on this one. Don’t get me wrong- the core strategy works for what it is- a limited-power Constructed deck- but by the same token it doesn’t seem like enough to give the Constructed players fits at the Friday Night Magic table, either. It would be fun to run it at one, just to see.
At its heart, Creep and Conquer is somewhat reactive. Its earliest plays are defensive landmines, designed to trip up your opponent’s momentum while stocking up your graveyard. It then looks to grow its own closer from your evasive, lifelinking creatures and the deck’s numerous scavenge and soulbond options. When it finds those, it works fairly well. But generally, this strategy has the feel of a well-tuned Theme Deck instead of an Event Deck. A little bounce or removal, and the whole thing can come apart.
That said, Creep and Conquer was surprisingly fun to play, and it has some cards that are a delight. Some of the Green fatties had a lot of synergy with the rest of the deck, such as the Deadbridge Mauler and Wolfir Silverheart. Indeed, those two cards alongside a Vampire Nighthawk are about as smart a summary as you’ll find for the deck.
The deck’s removal suite was fairly decent for the deck’s needs, though the Victim of Night aren’t free and clear in an environment where monsters are still to be found. Still, it’s sufficient for the purpose and gave the deck the ability to sculpt the red zone a bit to keep things under control.
All in all, it’s hard to say how much we’d recommend this one for the FNM table, but it’s a worthy addition into the Golgari pantheon of precons. With an Event Deck, a Duel Deck, and an Intro Pack at your disposal, it’s good days ahead for The Swarm!
Hits: Clever strategy of build-your-own closers supported by scavenge and soulbond is fun to play, albeit not the most awe-inspiring in terms of power; some star cards amongst its roster like the Deadbridge Goliath, Wolfir Silverheart, and Disciple of Bolas that are a ton of fun to play with
Misses: As mentioned above, the strategy adopted by the deck feels a little underpowered when compared to the level the other Event Decks have set in accordance with the product line’s ambition
OVERALL SCORE: 4.50/5.00