This entry is part 13 of 15 in the series Journey to Nowhere

by Judson AKA GUDoug

GUDoug

If you have been crazy enough to endure trudging through most of my articles you probably know I usually march to the beat of my own melodica player (seriously who needs drums when there are breath powered keyboards around).  I’ve made a lot of odd choices in my thematic decks  like building them around a Rush song, a Coen Brother’s movie, old people,  and things riding things but this time I may have officially stamped my hand insane.  Deck restrictions and thematic deck talk has been well covered thus far on CommanderCast (like Here and Here to show a few) so I don’t think I really need to try and convince you why people build them, enjoy playing them, and are consistently coming up with new ones.  I have been playing a lot of EDH on Magic Online, MTGO, lately and I’m constantly running into people who profess to be playing this theme deck or that theme deck, most recently a deck that only used promo cards.  So without further ado I present to you my article about the lamest thematic restriction deck ever…which in turn may make this the lamest article ever.

(ROAR!!! This is such lame art.)

The story of the lamest thematic restriction deck begins like so; I was looking through some cards and stumbled upon Trollhide, a card that I had seen several times but never really looked at closely.   It was as if suddenly some cosmic force choose that card as my “Macguffin” and/or my “Checkov’s Gun”  for a journey that takes us all the way to you reading this article.  Why?  The art just struck me as odd.  Sure it is exactly what the name of the card says, that being a dude with a trollhide, but as a piece of stand alone art it makes me want to yell,
WHY THE HELL ARE YOU NOT FACING THE INTENDED VIEWER!?!?!?  WAS IT REALLY NECESSARY TO HAVE MR. TROLLHIDE COMPLETELY TURNED!?!?!?  THIS COULD BE THE MOST STUPID LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF A CARD NAME THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!
Then I settled down and thought, “You know what be the greatest most ‘Wildly Successful’ lamest thematic restriction ever?  Only using cards that have art featuring figures with their backs turned or backs facing the viewer.”  That is how the lamest thematic restriction deck was born.  Instantly cards started bouncing around in my head like that stupid Llanowar Elves art they have been using lately, or Jayemdae Tome.  This could really be a thing.

Starting off I made a quick search of the available Legendary Creatures for generals to ensure that there were some lame turned back arts to play.  Before too long I had found legends in every color and almost every combination of colors, but the two best lamest examples I felt were Lady Evangela and Uril, the Miststalker.  That Uril art is terribly lame and I was really hoping when all was said and done I could use him as my general.  It goes without saying that Uril, the Miststalker snap includes Trollhide.

So if this was a movie here is where it would cut to a montage scene of myself scrolling through every card ever printed in magic looking for cards with things with their backs turned somewhere in the art, no matter how far in the background or small in the picture, while Louie Louie plays.  We get a small fade out of the music as I jump up and do a twirl with some sort of excited jester right before I pass out from exhaustion indicating that I finished, and suddenly we have a card pool of almost 600 potential cards.  Being predisposed to wanting Uril, the Miststalker with the snap include Trollhide, lets look at the Auras to see if we can make this happen.  It turns out that I had a pile of 24 Auras available.

And there is Eldrazi Conscription and Epic Proportions so that pretty much just screams green light, as those are two of the handful of auraus that real Uril decks play.  At this point I will let it be known that I have played this deck a lot, but not in the real and only on MTGO so all the cards are not 100% available online and there are also some cards I am not currently willing to pay huge money for in digital form.  With that in mind on this list of Auras there are only two that I wanted to play that were not available online, Blessing and Imposing Visage.  I am currently building this deck and using PucaTrade to get the cards that I didn’t already own, and I am just waiting for a few more cards to roll in to start bashing face in real.  That being said my paper version of the deck will include Blessing because there is a card that I will discuss later that is $0.05 online and $20.00 or more in paper form that I am not even remotely interested in owning.  Here are the Auras that I am rolling with on MTGO:

Since these are an important part of the deck I think I will take a little time to pontificate on some of the choices.  I am not blind.  A lot of these choices are pretty bad, but with respect to what was available I think that these are the best.  The only real duds are Firebreathing which isn’t completely horrible and Taste for Mayhem that grants what amounts to a +4/+2 pump for one red mana, with the potential of being a +6/+2 pump.  Since they are both just one red to cast I decided they are playable.  Both cards have the potential up the general damage count for little cost.  Almost all of the other auras grant some sort of evasion, regeneration, or return the enchanted creature to your hand.  Kithkin Armor and Unquestioned Authority have been really good and surprisingly Cave Sense has been extremely relevant in many situations.  Lastly I wanted to touch on Agility as it may not look that impressive but has the potential to never let a pile of 1/1 tokens take down my general, come on who doesn’t love Flanking.  Pattern of Rebirth initially looked real spicy but after I looked at all the creatures I would be playing it suddenly looked less than optimal.  Also another card I thought about briefly was Predatory Urge but it seemed to grant an ability that was the exact opposite of what I was trying to accomplish, aggressiveness.

Now I will get into the ramp package that the deck has.  Again it is pretty evident that this is not an optimized cluster of cards by any means but they do the trick.

So right off the get go Spoils of Victory is the card I will not be playing in the paper version of the deck since it is from Portal Three Kingdoms and worth that mad money.  Everything else is pretty bad to OK but fairly straightforward and does the job of getting Uril out a turn quicker, except Jungle Patrol.  This was one of the last inclusions that I made in the deck.  Jungle Patrol doesn’t accelerate you into Uril but it can help fix your mana if you are short on red.  The main reason I included it was because when there is extra mana available pump three into the patrol to make a wood token (which looks just like the old school Wall of Wood but in token form) and make a small team of blockers.  This provides a very specific need for the deck as it is a little creature light and draws a lot of hate attacks.

Next lets dig into the disruption that the deck has.  This comes in all sorts of different forms, types, and applications.  Take a look:

There was an almost infinite number of white sweepers that fit the “backs turned to the viewer” criteria for the deck, but that seemed very bad considering the general I was playing.  Uril, the Miststalker wants to stay out and bang.  He has enough problems with sacrifice effects holding him back, so he doesn’t need me to kill him over and over again with sweepers.  I took a long hard look at all the cards and came to the conclusion that Uril is super large and a lot of the red mega-pyroclasm/earthquake effects could potentially clear the board and allow Uril to stay alive to attack unimpeded.  Luckily most of the big red damage sweepers featured the art I needed, swept most of the creatures out of my way, and had the bonus of damaging all the players as well in many instances.  In particular I have found Lavaball Trap to be really great, although I wish it did damage to players too. Is that too much to ask?  In case you want know, yes I did buy a $4 Portal 2 Earthquake for this deck, and I find the art to very enjoyable.  I actually did have to buy this card since there was only one person who had it on PucaTrade and after several weeks with available points it still hadn’t come my way.  So aside from that there is various removal, disruption, and attack prevention cards.  If all the red sweepers weren’t enough for tokens there is Lightmine Field and in general Sphere of Safety and Smoke have been really helpful.  I also wanted to mention Divine Reckoning, a card I play a lot in many of my decks, as it keeps Uril alive, clears the board, and has flashback, all of which are tremendous assets.

The “backs turned to the viewer” card pool also possessed all, or almost all, of the extra attack phase cards.  Even Hellkite Charger technically has his back to the viewer but so does almost every dragon art ever created, so I chose not to include it or any of the other dragons cause it seemed to “easy.”  The same could be said for Spiders as well, but I included Silklash Spider in the previous category of cards because it legitimately has its back to the viewer.  Back to the task at hand, please note how awesome the Portal 2 Relentless Assault art is that actually did find its way to me via PucaTrade.  Something that I didn’t expect to happen, being that it was from Portal 2.  The take and extra attack phase cards seem the perfect fit for a aura voltron deck that is trying to general damage opponents to win.  I may be playing too many but only once has it ever been a real problem when I had all four in hand and couldn’t keep a creature on the board.

I mentioned this earlier but I think it bears repeating, this deck is creature light and tends to draw a lot of attention and attacks.  You don’t always have a blocker, a thing that can make tokens, Sphere of Safety, Lightmine Field ,or a bunch of damage sweepers to protect you.  That is why I have included a handful of Fogs and damage prevention cards.  I was a little leery at first to play these types of cards but after being saved time and time again they proved their effectiveness and I actually upped the count.  Once you have stopped a Craterhoof Behemoth attack a time or two you quickly change your thoughts on fogs.  Plus we all know that Fogs are the new fast mana.  Here are the Fog effects I play:

Respite and Blunt the Assault are incredible life gain cards on top of fogging your opponent’s attack phases.  A card I never jumped on the bandwagon of was Master Warcraft but after blowing out tables worth of creatures I think I am close to being a true believe in its cult.  Another of the fogs, Terrifying Presence, was one of those head scratchers when I saw it in the Avacyn Restored Spoilers but it really is perfect for this deck as it still lets you get Uril’s damage in while keeping him alive to gang blocks.  Invulnerability needs no trumpets heralding its worth as it is just almost always useful.  I think the only fog I didn’t include that was available to me was [/card]Serene Sunset[/card], but it tends to be pretty mana intensive in big attacks and not that great.

We are on the home stretch of this deck break down and we have arrived at the card advantage category.  No I don’t want you to get your hopes up with thoughts of insane spells that are perfect for Uril, the Miststalker decks.  You aren’t going to find Three Dreams, enchantress effects, or mass card draw but there are some nice cards along with some “less than optimal cards”  for this deck favorites.

So two of these cards are pretty perfect for Uril decks and are probably in most lists, those being Nomad Mythmaker and Auratouched Mage.  Both are pretty standard aura deck cards.  Creeping Renaissance is a card I play a lot and was happy to include, unfortunately I did not have room for Restock as well.  Charmbreaker Devils has been stupendous and sometimes doubles as my second or backup Uril when it is out.  I have had all sorts of fun with Chamrbreaker, most notably getting an opponent in a Blunt the Assault soft lock (If they don’t attack just play it for life and get it back if it is the only instant/sorcery in your graveyard…which it was).  The other three cards are subpar continuous card draw engines which do fill a need and work just fine (then again Temple Bell Isn’t As Bad As You Think).  The only other card draw spell I considered playing was Momentous Fall, but assumed like most times I have that card in a deck, I would never have it in hand when it is useful and if I do get a chance to cast it the effect is less than spectacular (ie on a Llanowar Elves.

The last non-land card in the deck is Mayael’s Aria.  Another card that sees play in a lot of Uril decks.  I have yet to draw it much less cast it so I don’t know if I like it or not.  I don’t see how it couldn’t be good though in most situations.

Next I thought I would briefly mention a few of the cards that I am not playing that have not already been mentioned.  The following are cards I own in real life but not on MTGO, and I wasn’t willing to buy them on there due to cost.

I decided that most of the creatures I am playing aren’t worth tutoring, plus I am not a huge fan of tutors.  They would though be good in instances where Uril gets tucked.  If I was to play one Chord of Calling seems like the best choice as it could grab answer creature or something that could gain me some sort of advantage, at instant speed, and in any color.  Scroll Rack and Sylvan Library seem like the most obvious inclusions yet I think that I will just leave them out for now.  Sword of War and Peace while powerful makes a lot of my auras fall of Uril and would really need to be equipped to one of my other creatures.

One thing that playing on MTGO has reinforced for me is that you don’t need $1,000,000.00 mana bases to make decks work.  I was a little apprehensive on building this deck without have more dual lands and fixing, but I have found that the “bad” duals and basics with the ramp and fixing I have were just fine.  I recently added Brushland, Karplusan Forest, Rootbound Crag, and Sunpetal Grove to the deck replacing two forests, one mountain, and one plains but I don’t even think it was necessary.  Kessig Wolf Run, Skarrg, the Rage Pits, and Rogue’s Passage on the other hand have been much appreciated.  Here are my list of lands:

Other notables that I own in real life but not on MTGO (I do have a Oath of Lieges online) that I am interested in trying out are the very huggy type ramp cards.  I can see how they could be either hit or miss in this deck.  I am interested in maybe swapping out a few of the ramp cards to try these in their place once I have the paper version of the deck together.

Finally here are a few of the cards I really wanted to play but had no room for in the deck:

They all seemed like easy potential candidates for the deck but just didn’t provided enough of an effect to warrant including.  Falkenrath Exterminator seemed like a fun add but a horrible late turn draw.  All the other cards seemed very viable as either disruption of potential candidates to suit up with auras should Uril get tucked or dealt with.

The deck is a lot of fun to play, although I am not sure that is the experience to play against.  It probably doesn’t seem much different than a normal Uril the Miststalker deck.  That in and of itself seems like a fairly good complement.  As far as theme decks go this was probably the most outlandish restriction I have ever chosen and yet the end product is easily my most competitive theme decks (fairly budget friendly too).  The deck was fun to build and test and I still have several more decks I could build with the card pool that I made if I choose to.  I hope you enjoyed it and can see that theme decks don’t have to be bad just because they are theme decks.

Complete Decklist:

Uril’s Back

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

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