July 19, 2012
Posted by Mike aka Mightily Oats
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. ~Louis Hector Berlioz
The sun rises in the east, first kissing the soaring mountain peaks and slowly dripping into the glacier-ridden valleys. A frigid spring wind comes rushing from the north, insidiously disregarding my many layers of long underwear to fondle my dangly bits with its icy fingers. The frosty cloud of my exhalation mixes with that of my stalwart war-yak, shifting restively beneath me while he chews his cud. The sonorous tolling of a gong echoes through the valley, announcing the birth of another day.
This is monk country; where bald little men gather in their high-mountain factories to churn out philosophies, idioms and clever sayings that eventually end up in oddly shaped cardboard boxes that are called cookies by terminally optimistic restaurateurs. This is where the greater part of the R&D takes place for True Enlightenment. This is also the place where people come to learn how to break bricks with their face, pile drive a school bus and punch a castle to death.
Legend tells of a technique so feared, so reviled, that its disciples are hunted down and slaughtered like cattle. The name of this technique is only spoken in the softest of whispers for fear that saying it too loudly will bring its destructive fury down upon their heads. It is this technique that I have come to this high-mountain fastness to learn.
Nudging my yak forward I head toward the snow covered temple sitting snugly on the valley floor. As I approach the gates I am greeted by a wide-eyed acolyte.
“Colder than a witches tit out here, ain’t it?” he asked serenely.
“Um… indeed. I have traveled over the Desolate Steppes of Yin Ti, I have…”
“How many steps did you have to climb?”
“What? No, steppes not steps. Look, I’ve traveled over the Desolate Steppes of Yin Ti, I have fought through the Forest of Sorrows, I have braved the…”
“That forest of yours, wha’cha fight? Was it monkeys?”
“You’re lucky. My dad got bit by a monkey, once. I think it got infected. He’s been craving bananas ever since. Nasty bit of business, your average monkey.”
“Look, I’ve come a very long way to learn your ancient arts of combat and you are talking to me about monkey bites. Where is the master of this temple?”
“Probably eatin’ breakfast. Why?” he said, glancing toward the temple.
“I must speak with him.”
“I don’t think that will be possible, mister. He’s…”
“Just take me!”
Dismounting from my war-yak I followed the acolyte across the courtyard and through the huge front doors with mystical looking symbols carved in them. “What do those runes mean?” I asked the acolyte.
“Well, roughly speaking, they say ‘How long a minute is, depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on.’ Sold a lot of fortune cookies with that one.”
The air inside the temple was warm and heavy with smoke from exotic incense. Sounds of chanting echoed playfully off of the cavernous ceiling and walls. Sitting cross-legged in the middle of the hall on a simple straw mat was an ancient monk dressed in a rough-spun robe joyfully contemplating the contents of his little wooden bowl; a small gob of porridge caught in his long, thin beard.
The young acolyte bowed before the old monk, turned to me and said, “This is Master Lo, but I have to warn you he’s taken a vow of…”
“Master Lo!” I bellowed, bowing before him. “I am Mightily Oats! I have traveled over the Desolate Steppes of Yin Ti, I have fought through the Forest of Sorrows, I have braved the Gore Covered Pass of Wei and traversed the Trailer Park of Despair just outside of Fresno! I have come to learn the deadly art of… Deja Fu! I want to take Time in my grip and smash my enemies repeatedly about the head and shoulders with it. Teach me, O great master! I am yours to command!”
After an uncomfortably long silence I looked up at Master Lo. He stared back at me with a look of peaceful bemusement but said not a word.
“Master Lo? What say you? Will you teach me?”
Master Lo smiled.
Looking at the acolyte I asked, “Why doesn’t he answer? Did he not hear me? Is he deaf?”
Master Lo set down his bowl of porridge, took a piece of paper that was in his pocket, scribbled a few symbols on it and handed it to the acolyte.
“What does it say? Does he accept me?!”
The acolyte peered at the paper, wrinkling his brow in consternation as he wrestled with the intricacies of ‘The Written Word’. After a moment of tormented silence he smiled, looked up from the scrap of paper and said, “It says ‘Please be quiet and go away.”
I stormed out of the temple filled with anger and shame. As I was mounting my yak the acolyte sidled up to me and said, “Rough bit of luck there. Too bad Jhoira isn’t here. She would teach anyone.”
“Who is Jhoira?”
“Jhoira of the Ghitu? She was Master Lo’s greatest pupil. She was unstoppable in combat. That was, until everybody got wise. Any time she arrived on the battlefield everybody, even sworn enemies in the middle of a blood feud, would drop everything they were doing to try to crush her. Soon there was no one that would even enter the field when she was there. I think it messed with her head. Now she just hides in a yurt up there.” He said pointing an imposing mountain pass.
Nodding to the acolyte, I set off.
Fast forward three days. A blizzard is driving ice shards through the air and I’m standing in snow up to my armpits trying to knock on the 19th yurt door that day. Two things need to said at this point; one, there are a lot more monks-gone-hermit up here than I would have first suspected; two, knocking on a door made of animal hide is no mean feat.
The flap pulls back and a woman’s head pokes out of the warm darkness. “Go away!”
“Are you Jhoira of the Ghitu?” I ask.
“Yes, go away.”
“I have come to learn Deja Fu, please teach me.”
After a moment of silence she waves me in. “Why would you want to learn Deja Fu? Haven’t you heard the stories?”
“The stories about you casting Obliterate into the future, summoning Emrakul, the Aeons Torn for a pittance of mana and then Time Stretching so you can strike your opponent over and over without them being able to do anything about it?”
“No, the stories about being hated and feared. The stories of every opponent making your death their highest priority. The stories about no one daring to meet you in battle. Without an opponent there is no war and the worst fate for a warrior is having no war to fight. I cannot condemn you to my fate.”
“What if we met them as equals? What if our strength was exactly the same as our opponent?” I suggested.
“There are too many opponents out there. How could we match every single one of them?” she asked.
“I think I have an idea.” I said with a grin.
*** Awesome training montage with eighties rock sound track! ***
Here is our new take on Deja Fu:
Chancellor of the Spires
Dominus of Fealty
Drift of Phantasms
Sower of Temptation
Thada Adel, Acquisitor
The core philosophy of Deja Fu is focusing almost exclusively on using your opponents’ resources against them much like Judo, but without all of the ripped t-shirt collars. We do, however, keep Jhoira’s entire time manipulation suite. This includes creatures like Jhoiras Timebug, Rift Elemental, Shivan Sand-Mage and Timebender and spells like Timecrafting, Fury Charm and Clockspinning. Paradox Haze doesn’t directly affect time counters, but it does give you an additional upkeep so you can remove extra time counters.
We can still use Jhoira to bring out huge beaters on the cheap like Greater Gargadon, Deep-Sea Kraken who can both come out quicker than 4 turns when they get suspended, Chancellor of the Spires, which will let you steal an opponent’s instant or sorcery from their graveyard, and Grozoth, who will let you dig through your deck for 9 CMC worth of cards.
Stealing stuff from your opponents is at the heart of Deja Fu. Stealing creatures with other creatures like Dominus of Fealty, Sower of Temptation, Roil Elemental and Zealous Conscripts, and spells like Threaten, Act of Treason and Word of Seizing make for unpredictable attacks and put your opponents on their heels. Vulshok Battlemaster, having haste and being able to steal every piece of equipment on the table, can make her incredibly devastating. Blatant Thievery and Confiscate will allow you to grab things like planeswalkers and enchantments. Finally, stealing cards directly from other peoples’ decks with cards like Knowledge Exploitation, Acquire, Eternal Dominion and Thada Adel, Acquisitor are great ways to just out-right cripple an opponent.
Stealing things that are real, solid and in front of you is fun, but stealing thing as insubstantial and ethereal as instants and sorceries are where the real fun is at. Cards like Goblin Flectomancer, Shunt, Swerve and Wild Ricochet embody the essence of Deja Fu, letting you redirect spells to the most advantageous targets on the board. Izzet Guildmage, Increasing Vengeance, Reverberate, Reiterate and Twincast let you copy the most subtle or the most destructive spells on the stack. With all of these 2 CMC instants floating around I would be remiss not to include Isochron Scepter.
There is one card that I wanted to mention as it has been just amazing in this deck and that is Spellweaver Volute. If you have this enchanting Twincast or one of its relatives and you play something like Blatant Thievery, Knowledge Exploitation or Chancellor of the Spires it can literally end the game right there.
Walking side by side with Jhoira, we entered the battlefield. Now it was time to show everyone that Deja Fu was a challenge, not a death sentence; that it can fun instead of devastating. The din of battle faded as everyone turned toward us.
“Is that Jhoira?” asked Rafiq of the Many.
“It is!” shrieked Child of Alara.
“Then I’m out of here. Catch you bitches later.” replied Rafiq, gathering up all of his weapons.
“Wait! Wait! She’s changed her technique. Here take a look at this…” I shouted, reaching for my deck.
“It doesn’t matter! I’ll get the torches! Ezuri, you get the pitchforks!” yelled Nath of the Gilt-Leaf.
“Everyone get her!” bellowed Kaalia of the Vast.
“Yes! Everyone get… her.” snickered Zur the Enchanter.
“Oh shit…” I muttered to myself.