Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Snakes... Why did it have to be snakes?

So, I just traded for my 4th Lotus Cobra, finally completely the sexy, sexy playset. Is it weird that I referred to it as sexy? It's a snake. Well, regardless of the adjective you'd chose, having 4x Lotus Cobras pretty much DEMANDS that you put them in a deck. Why would you lets such an amazingly powerful and expensive card go to waste, sitting in your binder?

So I took apart my Bant Conscription deck (which is what I wanted the Cobra for in the first place) because I've gotten sick of Type 2 again and decided to start drafting instead. So I needed to build a deck as a showcase for my new playset of Cobras, but I didn't need or want to make it Standard legal. I got to thinking what kinds of decks would want this card in it.

First off, he accelerates, as we all know, but he also fixes. Meaning, he can enable differently-color spells (don't want to sound racist against non-green cards, do we? NO!). So putting him in a mono-green deck is perfectly acceptable, but it dilutes the Cobra's potential. You really want to put in in a multicolor deck, to take advantage of his fixing properties as well. Plus, he's really good with Fetch Lands like Misty Rainforest, so that's another reason to avoid mono-green.

Speaking of Misty Rainforest... that happened to be the ONLY Fetch land I had any extra copies of laying around, so Blue Green was pretty much the most viable option based on that.

So I started thinking about what other cards the Cobra would play nicely with. Coiling Oracle came to mind almost immediately, as did Sakura Tribe Elder. After pondering these potential interactions for a few moments, I suddenly realized that all three cards were snakes! In light of this I immediately remembered the old Kamigawa/Ravnica era U/G snake deck that enjoyed very brief but immense success in Standard. That deck had some insane mana-ramping potential with the Oracle, Elder and Sakura Tribe Scout vomiting lands upon your Battlefield at a blistering rate. That sounds like something the Cobra could take advantage of, doesn't it? Lands coming into play? Sometimes two or three in a single turn? Yeah, I think our little Lotus Cobra would feel right at home in this deck...

Okay, so at this point, you're all like "So you're taking an old net-deck and just updating it with a broken-ass Mythic that just happens to fit the theme in both ability and creature type?" To which I reply "Yeah, why not?" In my defense though, I'm not running Umezawa's Jitte, which was a pretty damned important card in that era. I'm also running Mystic Snake, Ohran Viper and Lorescale Coatl. These aren't exactly brilliant innovations on my part, as they're A) Snakes, B) In the right colors and C) Playable cards that probably would have been in the Net Deck had they been in the format (or existed) at the time.

Another "innovation" is that I'm running the under-appreciated Chord of Calling (John Conlon, you of all people should appreciate this, as you're the one other person I know who realized the potential of this card).

So anyway, I've pretty much told you most of the deck already, so lets just formalize it with a proper list:

3 Sakura-Tribe Scout
3 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Coiling Oracle
3 Lorescale Coatl
2 Ohran Viper
3 Patagia Viper
3 Mystic Snake
2 Seshiro, the Anointed

4 Sosuke's Summons
3 Chord of Calling
2 Coat of Arms

4 Simic Growth Chamber
3 Misty Rainforest
3 Yavimaya Coast
2 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
6 Forest
6 Island

Okay, so not much to explain, really. Play lands, cast Snakes, draw cards, etc... Chord of Calling can tutor out a Mystic Snake in response to a board sweeper or something equally problematic. But if you aren't facing down a Wrath, the funnest play is to Chord for Seshiro at your opponents end step. Seshiro and Ohran Viper draw a lot of cards, which makes Lorescale Coatl bigger. Lots of little synergies like that make this deck really fun to play. It can be downright explosive, winning before your opponent even knows what's coming, but it has a decent long game too. Sosuke's Summons gives you a good chance to come back from a Wrath effect. Every snake you draw will come with two 1/1 friends, allowing you to rebuild fairly quickly.

But, Mystic Snake should help you avoid those pesky sweepers. If at all possible try to avoid wasting him on pinpoint removal or anything else that won't outright cost you the game. Speaking of removal, this build has none. If you like, or your metagame calls for such, Snakeform is on theme, and not at all terrible, and Winged Coatl is a nice little surprise that an unsuspecting oppoent can walk right into. You can Flash him in from hand, or Chord him out if need be. He has flying so he can block the vast majority of creatures, and with Deathtouch he'll kill the vast majority as well. Trample, Indestructible and First Strike are all keywords that this little guy doesn't want to see, but really he will successfully block and kill something like 90% of the creatures ever printed in Magic, so not bad for U/G.

However, for my tastes, I like to think the best defense is killing your opponents with a swarm of angry snakes, so I forgo the more defensive play in favor of pure offense. I do think the deck could use a bit of fine-tuning, but I'll have to play it in a few more games to really hone in on its weaknesses.


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