After the epic clash last round that saw Garruk himself directly intervene to save his deck from ignominious defeat, we weren’t quite sure what to expect this go ’round. There are only so many miracles in a deck at any given time, and the thought was that Garruk had burned all his. Nevertheless, Sam volunteered to pilot his deck, based as it was on her most accustomed archetype: Big Dumb Beats(tm). That left me behind Liliana, and here are our notes from the confrontation.
One thing I derive a lot of personal satisfaction from is seeing Magic players improve their game. Jimi’s been playing a lot lately, between the site’s reviews and the Precon Championships, and more and more I’ve been finding her ever the more worthy opponent. In a game where even the pros admit they make multiple mistakes in each game, I’m always looking to improve my skill as well. As I’d find, piloting Garruk would put these skills to the test. We set the table for the customary three matches, and here are our notes from the clash.
Having introduced ourselves to Garruk and his surprisingly creature-light deck, we now turn to his opposite in this storied conflict, Liliana. On a strict creature-card basis Liliana actually has a very slight edge (19 versus 18), but unlike the more straightforward Green deck, she has comparatively few beaters, instead looking to gain some ground on the back of utility creatures. As we’ll see, though, that’s hardly the extent of her reach, and she might almost be as dangerous as a Red mage in the endgame- consider yourself warned!
We’ll begin today’s analysis with the creatures of darkness.
Just over a year ago, in Octover of 2009, the fourth of the Duel Decks series was released. Based upon the animosity between its two namesake planeswalkers as found in lore (as well as a novel that actually never ended up getting published, for reasons still unknown), the deck pits a mono-Green beats deck against a comparable mono-Black creation. It continued the tradition of the late-season, planeswalker-themed Duel Decks release begun with Jace vs Chandra, and continued with Elspeth vs Tezzeret.
Garruk’s deck is an interesting construction. For the most part, when you think of mono-Green beats, you tend to think of decks that ramp into the very large beaters Green has been known for for all of its history. That’s not an unreasonable expectation, but Garruk’s Deck bucks convention quite dramatically. Yes, you have the beaters, and yes there is ramp (albeit very little, more on that later). Instead, what’s most surprising is that the deck is split dead-even between creatures and noncreature spells. This is highly irregular- mono-Green beats tends to flood its deck with critters to ensure a steady stream of them, then slave its noncreature options to be ramp and a few support cards, like Giant Growth.