Lately it seems as if I’m all about the lockdown. Heck, it’s probably what you, being biased readers and all, think! And by biased I mean the person you construct in your head based on what I post here. I can’t fault you, though. I’ve written three articles about the same green lockdown deck, and even though I have stated my love for blue in my opening post and my ‘About me’, that statement simply doesn’t shine through in the actual contents. For all you know I am a green mage who loves to deny the opponent resources. Today I would like to show you my latest untested creation. While not green, it does uphold the lockdown-stereotype I have animated. May I present you… Contamination!
As you may have read in my bio-like introductory post, the first deck that embodied my getting serious about Magic was a mono black control-deck hinging on the trustworthy combination of Contamination and Nether Spirit. I can’t recall the exact contents of the deck, but it was a combination of Vampiric Tutor, Phyrexian Arena, Innocent Blood, Mutilate, Chainer’s Edict, Cabal Coffers, Corrupt, Consume Spirit, Masticore and Infest.
The deck morphed into a multiplayer deck when that got to be my primary Magic format. With the gradual changes came a gradual decline in appeal. The deck got shelved and lost it’s lock in favor of more creature removal, I guess. Luckily I got the mono black torch lit again and resurrected the deck, using the knowledge of the game I had gathered in the three-or-so years the deck had lain still.
When I was in a tough struggle with my then-mono blue Proliferate-deck (not mono blue after I lucked out and got two Vensers, one for my birthday and the other out of a booster for aforementioned birthday *smirk*), I turned to old standby MTGSalvation. To be precise, the Casual forums. When my desperate attempt to seek help did not reap the results I was looking for, I stumbled upon a thread about Contamination.
(Yes, there will be a blogpost about that U/w deck. Someday.)
The deck used Zombie Infestation-tokens, courtesy of Squee and Krovikan Horror, as a way to generate tokens and a win condition. It was white/black, which wasn’t ideal in my eyes, but the idea of generating a lotta Zombies worth of card advantage to fuel Contamination sure got my attention.
Two decks got in the way of brewing – Mono Green Lockdown/Control and U/w Proliferate. With those decks out of the way, however, I was able to put together my very first sixty for the new Contamination-deck. Let me show you the sixty cards I came up with, how I did that, why I did that, and what cards didn’t make the final cut. Bear in mind this is all theoretical rambling – no actual cards have yet been slung.
Contamination Go – v1.0
24 lands – With the deck basically curving out at 2 Abyssal Persecutor (Shriekmaw can be evoked and Krovikan Horror is basically just another Squee in this list) 24 might be too much, but I’d like to err on the side of too much rather than too little. Plus, I have 4 Barren Moors to cycle away, and Viscera Seers can scry away excess land.
2 Abyssal Persecutor – This seems like a good finisher for the deck, since I have a lot of ways to get rid of it (Viscera Seer, Contamination, Krovikan Horror even). Maybe it’ll be too much for the deck and I won’t need him. When I cut him, I cut along one Swamp and add something else. There’s a careful balance between sacrifice outlets, discard outlets, and cards that profitably interact with either or both. Only testing will show how much of each I should run.
3 Krovikan Horror – At first I was gonna go with 4 Squees, but then I remembered this former Pro Tour contender. This one, unlike Squee, I can actually cast. It’s also a win condition, albeit a slow one. But hey, you might as well take some time to win while your opponents cannot cast spells! *smirk*
4 Mesmeric Fiend – We all know the trick. Play Mesmeric Fiend and remove it from the battlefield before it’s ETB-trigger resolves and you get to exile a card, never to return (because the LTB-trigger then goes onto the stack on top of it). With Viscera Seer, you can sacrifice a Mesmeric Fiend for naught. If you have a Tortured Existence out, scrying for 1 ensures your chance of drawing a creature, thereby completing the once-a-turn exiling-no-life-costing-Thoughtseize chain. But with 5 Squee-like cards, that doesn’t even seem necessary. Mesmeric Fiend gives the deck a bit of control and can check if the coast is clear for dropping Contamination.
(Intermezzo: in my meta, artifact- and enchantment-removal is scarce. I try to play it in every deck, but my friends don’t. That’s why it’s much easier for me to run this kind of deck. It’s almost trying to tell them something. It was a bit frustrating the other day to crush a friend with my Green deck and still not wanting to take countermeasures. I showed him how the game would be totally different if he had just the ability to remove ONE artifact. The game I won wasn’t convincing enough, neither was the passionate speech I held. More on this later.)
4 Nether Traitor – Not much to say about this guy. He’s there as the best card to discard and sacrifice. Maybe nine cards that fall into the discard/sacrifice-category is too much, but time will tell. I just like how Viscera Seer can loop two Nether Traitors together, at instant speed no less, to dig for a card. Which makes me wonder if Viscera Seer, along with Buried Alive, enables me to run some singleton creatures like Abyssal Gatekeeper.
2 Squee – Better than Krovikan Horror in some ways (it always comes back), worse in others (Krovikan Horror can come back each turn, which is a great bonus in multiplayerland). I still like Squee, so I went with a 2:3 divide.
4 Viscera Seer – Right now I have talked so much about this little guy you’d think he’d be some kind of Lavamancer-like one-drop. That’s obviously not the case, but he could very well be the card that holds this deck together. Viscera Seer got promoted into the deck because of his limitless supply of scry. At first I was looking at Culling Dais, it’s biggest drawback being that he taps to sacrifice, which does not help with the digging.
3 Buried Alive – Four’s too much, less than three is too little. So three it is. Turn two Zombie Infestation, turn three Buried Alive is a great way to start the game. Plus, it’s a tutor with Tortured Existence. All this talk of Tortured Existence makes me wonder if I could use a third copy.
4 Contamination – It is quintessential to have four copies of the cornerstone card of the deck. I’m not saying the deck’s performing hinges on drawing Contamination or not – the deck can very well win with a horde of Zombies -, but it sure is nice. It looks to be a card that that can let you catch up when behind or put the final nail in the coffin when you’re ahead. When I put it this way, sure sounds like a nice card, now doesn’t it?
2 Tortured Existence – Not essential, more like a behind-the-screens worker who does more than you think. If you have a sacrifice outlet on the board, Tortured Existence means Mesmeric Fiend becomes an exiling Unmask for 1BB once per turn. Another great use of Tortured Existence is to either dig up lost Krovikan Horrors or conveniently place a creature on top of one.
4 Zombie Infestation – Perhaps more key to the deck than Contamination! Zombie Infestation pays for Contamination with Krovikan Horror and after a while starts making profit. While turn 2 Zombie Infestation turn 3 Contamination can be risky, it can end the game right then and there. They either have to float mana to blow up Contamination, because you can just make two Zombie tokens. Something like Reassembling Skeleton would fill a similar role in the turn 3 Contamination-scenario, but would be less high risk with the same reward. If you play Reassembling Skeleton turn 2 and Contamination turn 3 and they kill it, you can just reassemble it during your turn 4 upkeep.
So that’s the deck. As always, I can’t wait to try it out. And as always, if I find any useful information (through goldfishing, playtesting or otherwise), you can expect to see a post about that pop up like Zombies from the grave. The above list feels good, but testing always brings about new information. I should for example see if Reassembling Skeleton is better than Nether Traitor. Anyway, see you next time!