Morningtide: Going Rogue Review (Part 2 of 2)
Jimi’s sleeved up and ready to go, assembling an army of Kithkin and Soliders from her Battalion deck. Against such a force, a little stealth and subterfuge can go a long way, as my Rogues are eager to prove. Will they get their chance?
Jimi’s on the play, and begins with a Plains while I follow with a Swamp. Next turn sees her springboard a Kinsbaile Skirmisher off a second Plains, foregoing the bonus just to get a body on the board, while I find an Oona’s Blackguard with an Island.
Now turn 3, Jimi attacks for 2 with the Skirmisher for the days first blood, then follows up with a Burrenton Bombardier. For my part, I add a Mothdust Changeling, which comes into play with a +1/+1 counter on it thanks to the Blackguard. Back to Jimi, she attacks in for another 2 with the Skirmisher, then adds a Kithkin Zephyrnaut. For my part, I counterattack for 2 with my Changeling, tapping the Blackguard to give it flying, and Jimi accepts the trade for the Bombardier. I then summon a Marsh Flitter and pass, adding in a couple of 1/1 Goblin tokens (which gain +1/+1 counters of their own).
Now turn 5, Jimi hits her kinship trigger with a Sentinels of Glen Elendra, then turns her pumped-up Zephyrnaut sideways for a further 4 damage. With me down to 12, she then dismisses my Blackguard with an Oblivion Ring. For my part, I counterattack for 6 with the team, leaving Jimi at 14. I then prowl out a Latchkey Faerie, drawing a free card in the process, and follow with a Stinkdrinker Bandit. Back to Jimi, she hits kinship once more, letting the Zephyrnaut inflate to a 4/4 with flying and vigilance, and attacks in for another chunk of damage. She then looks to solve the Stinkdrinker with a Weight of Conscience before ending her turn. Down to 8 life, I attack in with everything for 9. Jimi blocks both Goblin tokens with her Skirmisher and Zephyrnaut for trades, then tap them to exile my Stinkdrinker Bandit on the way out. I respond instead by sacrificing the Stinkdrinker to my Marsh Flitter to make it a 3/3 and leave Jimi at 9. I then summon a Ghostly Changeling and end the turn.
Jimi looks to rebuild her defenses with a turn-9 Burrenton Bombardier, but it’s too little too late. Her midgame stall proved to be fatal as I press in on the attack. I draw a concession on turn 8, as Jimi finally finds her first Island of the game.
Jimi opens with a Cenn’s Tactician, while I follow next turn with an Oona’s Blackguard. Having held off on the attack, Jimi then uses the Tactician to give itself a +1/+1 counter at the end of my turn. Next turn, she plays a Veteran’s Armaments before swinging for 2 with the Tactician, while I counterattack for 1 before landing an Auntie’s Snitch with a +1/+1 counter.
Now turn 4, Jimi summons a Burrenton Bombardier, equipping the Armaments to it as it enters the battlefield. I attack for 4 with the Snitch, forcing Jimi to discard a Redeem the Lost. I then add a Ghostly Changeling (with a +1/+1 counter), and end the turn. Back to Jimi, she exiles the Snitch with an Oblivion Ring and passes. I attack in for 3 with the Changeling, pumping it once when it gets in for damage. Again Jimi has to discard, and off goes a Mothdust Changeling. This lets me then prowl in a Morsel Theft, and by the end of the turn Jimi is down to 8, with me at 21.
Turn 6 sees Jimi reinforce her Bombardiers with a Swell of Courage, then attack for 2 with the Tactician. Back to me, I Whirlpool Whelm her Bombardier- back to hand as I lose the clash. I then turn my Blackguard and Changeling sideways for 4, and Jimi is again compelled to discard a card (an Ego Erasure). With her on the ropes at 4 life, I then follow up with a Prickly Boggart. Next turn, Jimi replays her Bombardier, equipping the Armaments to it. She then ends her turn, and I send in the Boggart past her defenses. This cuts her in half to 2 life, and forces yet another discard- the Burrenton Shield-Bearers. At the end of my turn Jimi uses the Tactician to add a +1/+1 counter to the Bombardiers, but it’s for naught. After drawing nothing from her library, Jimi concedes.
Another opening Cenn’s Tactician opens Jimi’s play, while I follow behind with a Nightshade Stinger. Next turn she plays a Plains and passes, while I drop Oona’s Blackguard before attacking for 1 with the Stinger. At the end of my turn, Jimi has the Tactician give itself a +1/+1 counter.
Now turn 3, Jimi deploys a third Plains, then summons a Preeminent Captain. Over to me, I swing for 2 with the Stinger and Blackguard, then prowl out a Latchkey Faerie (drawing an Island after giving it a +1/+1 counter). Passing turn, Jimi next counterattacks for 2 of her own with the Captain, letting her immediately put an Inkfathom Divers directly into play tapped and attacking. This more than doubles her attack power, and I’m left at 15 life. Not to be outdone, I fire back for 5 of my own in the air. This sets up a prowled Morsel Theft, siphoning away 3 life from Jimi. I then play a Prickly Boggart and end the turn, bit not before Jimi uses her Tactician to give the Captain a +1/+1 counter.
Now turn 5, Jimi turns her Captain and Divers sideways, letting her add a Veteran of the Depths to the attack. Cut down to 10, I then have my Latchkey Faerie locked down with a Weight of Conscience. I counterattack for 4 with my Boggart, Blackguard, and Stinger, dishing out 4 damage and ripping another card from Jimi’s hand thanks to the Blackguard. Try as she might, though, there’s little Jimi can do to stop my march to victory. An Ego Erasure gives her a little more time, but turning up nothing a surprise Frogtosser Banneret helps seal the win.
Thoughts & Analysis
When Jimi chose Battalion as her deck to play in opposition, I frankly expected a harder go than I received. To be fair, only the second game was a one-sided rout, with Jimi able to get me down to single-digit life in both of the other two. But I worried that the fragility of many of my best creatures would prove a hazard for the deck’s fortunes. I needn’t have worried.
For one thing, the synergy in the deck is tremendous, and the disruptive power of Oona’s Blackguard is brutal. It doesn’t take a lot of time to assemble a choking combo that can attack behind a +1/+1 counter and force a discard as early as turn 3. Against most any non-Black deck, the Prickly Boggart can deliver a reliable option that essentially forces the opponent to blow removal or hemorrhage a steady drip of cards.
This, of course, only tells part of the story of Going Rogue. The other benefit to this strategy- assuming you don’t find a Blackguard- is to turn on your prowl options, and it’s well worth the cost. Whether you’re getting extra cards, an extra turn, or just a discounted price, it isn’t difficult to make the mechanic reliably work you your advantage. It’s somewhat conditional, to be sure- you have to be hitting your opponent with your creatures. One might well argue that if you aren’t managing that, though, missing out on prowl bonuses are the least of your troubles. Overall, being to have two different lines of play based upon the same foundation gives the deck a solidity and consistency that serves it in good stead.
In terms of negatives, the deck is certainly not without its flaws. For one thing, for all their evasion there is something to be said against brittle creatures. The Warrior’s Code deck has a couple copies of Release the Ants, and while we’re not big on the reliability of the card it can do some work against the x/1’s of Going Rogue. There’s also the matter of a somewhat spotty removal suite, with lots of conditional effects. Peppersmoke may put you up a card under the right conditions, but its effect is minor, only -1/-1. Nameless Inversion hits much harder and at a fair cost, though it can’t solve some of the format’s bigger threats such as the Treefolk. Violet Pall can, but it carries a high pricetag. Each of these are good at something, but your efficacy really depends on which of these you draw.
On balance, though, this one gets our award for pick of the litter.
Hits: High synergy between cards across two different strategies, both of which overlap over a central core of evasion; prowl mechanic simple but surprisingly fun (Notorious Throng is particularly brutal); very good evasion
Misses: Creatures a bit on the fragile side; removal somewhat cumbersome
OVERALL SCORE: 4.60/5.00