This entry is part 07 of 15 in the series Journey to Nowhere

by Judson AKA GUDoug

GUDougWhy bury the lead?  You got eyes and can read titles.  I have built another theme deck and this time I used a song, but not just any song.  A 20 plus minute masterpiece of a song called 2112 by a little band from Canada called Rush.  So you might be asking yourself, “Can you build an EDH deck based on a song?”  I sure hope so as this entire article is about just that and if it doesn’t pan out you are in a bumpy awkward ride.   Here is to not flaming out, crashing and burning into a giant smoldering pile of underused cards, various sided dice, tri-corner hats, and dreams.  I hope you are interested in reading about a theme deck based a song by a Canadian Band because we are about to leave the station on a little trip to Megadon in 2112 under the rule of the Solar Federation and the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx.

If you are unfamiliar with 2112 go ahead a hit play on this video.  Even if you are familiar fire it up as It will supply an appropriate soundtrack to the rest of the article.  Also if you are interested look at the video on youtube to see the lyrics for the song.   Also if you want to see the lyrics with the liner notes look here (I linked to this deviant art page to avoid sending you to any number of sites trying to sell you ringtones).  So take a listen I recommend it.

Here is a little back story.  A few months ago I was listening to Rush’s 2112, because it is awesome, and thought it would be a good challenge to try and build a deck based on the story told within its lyrics.  If you don’t know Rush they are a Canadian prog rock band that have been around forever, have the ugliest lead singer in all of rock aside from the fictional Arseface from “Preacher”, have arguably the greatest rock drummer to ever live, and they rock.  2112 is a long song they made in 1976 that tells a very science fiction style story in both the song and supplemental liner notes inside the album.

Geddy & Arseface

(Geddy and Arseface…also check the dude playing guitar with boxing gloves)

2112The point of view of the song is from an anonymous person in 2112 living in a place called Megadon where everything from books, newspapers, music, and television, as well as every facet of everyone’s life is directed and dictated by the Solar Federation ruled by the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx.  Their temple is an enormous steel walled tower that houses a great computer used to control the lives of the people outside of the tower.  These priests are trying to force an utopian society by very restrictive heavy handed means.  They strive for everyone below in the city to be equal and to ensure that no one has need or want while they squirrel away manipulating these very peoples’ lives.  The main protagonist knows of a cave behind a waterfall, and goes there to get away when they can.  One day this person finds a dusty guitar inside it and the sounds from the it amaze and open their eyes to the possibility of something special and unique rather than music from the temple.  They immediately decide to share the discovery with the priests, thinking that everyone could benefit from this discovery.  When the guitar is joyously played and presented to the Priest of the Temple of Syrinx they dismiss and belittle the find as a toy that brought ruin to an elder race of men.  They proclaimed that they will provide what is needed and this guitar does not fit their plan, and then destroyed the instrument.  Disappointed the protagonist goes home and in a dream is visited by an oracle who shows them past and future, the works of gifted hands and pure spirits, and the elder race of men who want to return home to retake their lands and destroy the temple.  Also the storyteller has a great sense of how meaningless life had become under the rule of the Solar Federation and the priests.  No longer having the guitar and longing for the world they saw in the dream the protagonist commits suicide hoping to join the dream and escape what was now revealed as a cold lost meaningless existence.  The song ends in an somewhat unclear finale that states “Attention all planets of the Solar Federation, we have assumed control” never dictating who is saying these words, but from an interview with the song’s writer, Neil Peart, he said he believes that the elder race of men returned and overthrew the Priests.

RubiniaThere is a lot of rich story that can be built around, so i think this is a perfect song to use a lattice for constructing a deck around.  The general of the deck should probably be the the protagonist of the story.  After going through all the available legends Rubinia Soulsinger seems like the winner.  The storyteller’s gender is never revealed in the song so that is a non-issue, and “Soulsinger” seems to fit the spiritual awakening that happens when the guitar is found and the ensuing events that transpire.  So we are Bant, and I would like to note that this is now my third bant theme deck (Teddy Roosevelt & the Rough Riders & Big Lebowski) and I am not sure why this keeps happening as I usually never build non-theme Bant decks or have a leaning towards that color combination.

With the general selected the rest of the deck can be fleshed out.  The only other logical and foreseeable options for creatures are those that can represent the Priests of the Temple and Syrinx and the elder race of men.  My initial thoughts were clerics for the priests and then creatures with elder in their name for the others.  A quick look over the available cards in both those selections were fairly abysmal.  That was when I thought what better representation of a ruling class hellbent on significant manipulation, extreme oversight, and repression than creatures that do the same who coincidently are themselves hated by opponents.  My current line up for the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx are as follows.

I think these creatures do a good job of properly representing the priests in the song.  They are repressive, heavy handed, and have big impact on the game.  People hate playing against them and rightly so.  In game play I am always amazed at how each of these cards can mess up the game fairly quickly.  Erayo is a card I added not really having a way to flip it myself knowing that it will probably get flipped by opponents, and every time I have had it stay out on the battlefield the card usually flips with in two turn cycles or less.

Taking a queue from the cards used as the priests, I decided that the elder race of men cards should then focus more on group hug type cards.  This seemed like a good juxtaposition and overall design of the deck.  That being a struggle between repression/manipulation and group hug.  The cards that make up my elder race of men currently include these cards.

All of these cards a pretty friendly or have friendly applications.  It is surprising how every time I play Edric people go out of their ways to not attack me when most of the time attacking me is the correct decision.  Blinded by cardlust is no way to play the game.  As a general rule I think you should remember that regardless of who is playing what.

With the creatures out of the way the spells and other non-creature permanents are next.  I tried to include aspects of repression and group hug while making my choices as well as trying to get cards to fit into my 2112 theme.  These cards will represent the events and world revealed in the song.  The world itself was first on my list of elements to construct.  Here is my interpretation of the world under rule of the Solar Federation and the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx and their giant steel walled tower.  The cards were selected for their names evoking a aspect of world but also with an eye towards repression and manipulation if at all possible.

Next I needed to construct the great computers that not only provided for every want and need that the priest saw fit but also contained aspects of removing choice and free will.  It also needed to provide some sort of assemblance of trying to force utopia and equalness as well as making decisions for players and dictating what they saw and did.  These cards were selected more for what they did then what their name was.  Here is what I came up with.

So there is my world of the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx and their great computer that rules and dictates every aspect of every life.  I think it does a good job at representing that and still finding room for a few practical cards that the deck needs to function.

The rest of the deck will be constructed based off the events in the song.  The first words of the song about four minutes in are “and the meek shall inherit the Earth” so Retribution of the Meek seems like a logical inclusion as a tip of the hat to that line.  Once the priests are introduced in the song the protagonist’s discovery of the guitar in the cave behind the waterfall is next.

Guitar Discovery

Cave (1)
Guitar (1)
Relic of an elder race of men (1)
Spiritual awakening and the beginnings of individuality (2)

After that the protagonist plays the guitar and presents it  to the priest so that the discovery could be shared with the rest of the people.

Priest’s reaction to found guitar

Then there is the visitation of the oracle and the storyteller experiencing past and future and many other things that enlighten and expand their knowledge.  The elder race of men also show a desire to return and smash the temple.

Dream and revelations

Shortly before the end when the Solar Federation is overthrown the protagonist is fearful of losing the dreams and life within them and no longer has the guitar and commits suicide.  Here the last of the cards for deck depicting these events.

Death and overthrow

Then for the lands in the deck there isn’t a whole lot of exciting things happening here.  There is room for 37  of them.   I hate posting lands as I feel some people see duals, fetches, and other expensive lands and suddenly feel they can’t build a deck like this.  Lands are lands and there are plenty of budget options available just from the last few years that can make a deck run just as well as a land that cost $25-$100+.  That being said a few of the lands of note that I am playing are:

So that is the 2112 theme deck.  It is a lot of fun to play and it has the potential to really mess up the game and force people to play the decks game.  The deck decides how it wants to play.  Sometimes it is overly huggy and other times is overly repressive.  Having a general that steals creatures is a benefit for the deck in case it does happen to get to huggy or things turn into a stalemate.  There are a few locks in the deck but no way to tutor them up.  The way I see their inclusion is that if they happen they happen and the bad guys win.  It is laughable how tilted people get when Teferi’s Puzzle Box is out or how fast they try to get Crumbling Sanctuary off the board. For the most part the deck is just a deck.  No one knows that it is a 2112 theme deck when I play it.  It has been called a chaos/group hug deck, a troll deck, and many other nasty names.  It was a fun challenge but in the end the card choices are fairly subjective and it doesn’t really resemble a theme deck by traditional means as in when the deck is looked at as a whole there is 100% chance no one will know the string that ties the deck together other than it has group hug and chaos elements built into it.

I think it succeeded in the overall plan of chaos/repression and group hug at odds with each other.  I wish there was more group hug but to much just lets people win really fast, and I purposely tried to stay away from mass hug land tutors other than the more fair Oath of Lieges because they can let someone easily run away with that game.  Since I did have several potential lock combos in the deck I decided it was in the spirit of the deck to take out all the tutors and let things happen as the deck wants them to happen.  The deck does a great job of frustrating people as it often times prevents them playing certain things, messes with their phases, and overall disrupts their game plan.   I was in one game that the 2112 deck literally was playing the game for everyone with Omen Machine, Teferi’s Puzzle Box, and Gate to the Aether out.  No one had hands and the turn order was randomized.  It really made me want to play Eternal Dominion into a Hive Mind just to completely turn the game into chaos.

The only card that really seems out of place is the Hair-Strung Koto but you have to have a guitar and I think that is the closest thing I could find as well as the best most usable option.  This deck has had a lot of tuning and refining and I still don’t think that it is done yet.  Here is a list of the cards that I can remember being in the deck at one point or another.

Repressive Priests of the Temple of Syrinx:
False Prophet, Gaddock Teeg, Grand Abolisher, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, Preacher, Voidmage Husher, Spelltithe Enforcer, Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker
Elder Race:
Deadeye Navigator, Veteran Explorer, Magus of the Vineyard, Shizuko, Caller of Autumn
World of the priests:
Aura of Silence, AEther Barrier, Cold Storage, Collective Restraint, Control Magic, Hinder, Hum of the Radix, Fabricate, Puppet Strings, Reins of Power, Shared Fate, Temple Bell, Zur’s Weirding
Finding the Guitar:
Acquire, Chord of Calling, Cryptic Command, Eureka, Journey of Discovery, Heartbeat of Spring, Miraculous Recovery
Bringing Guitar to Priests:
Confiscate, Dueling Ground, Dismantling Blow, Hinder, Show and Tell
Dream:
Enlightened Tutor, Freed from the Real, Future Sight

I hope you enjoyed this different take on building a theme.  If you have never tried to build on a theme you should give it a try.  The whole experience is pretty fun and challenging.  I personally think that when you build a theme deck you are more emotionally invested in the finished product and it heightens the overall enjoyment for you and sometimes others.  Here is the decklist in its entirety without all the this is what this card represents.  See…it is just a deck when you look at it like this and that is the point.  In the spirit of the song and the deck I wish I could say I just pulled the ultimate ruse on all of you manipulating and guiding you like a Priest of the Temple of Syrinx into thinking that I built a 2112 theme when the deck really already existed and I had just wrapped it in a shiny story with sparkles on it.  That isn’t the case though.  See you next time.

Email me at: judsonjg(at)yahoo(dot)com
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/GUDoug

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