Is Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund playable in competitive Constructed formats? Mark Rosewater doesn’t seem to think so… But there might just be precedent to playing a seven mana Legendary Dragon who is only good against Dragons. Really!
I pay attention to a lot of the stuff Mark says.
Anyway I found this to be a strange statement:
“I know the kind of responses a card like this can get from some people: a seven-mana Dragon that steals every other Dragon and gives them all haste? When is this situation going to come up exactly, where you’re still alive yet your opponent has Dragons just lying around waiting to be stolen? My response to these people is this: this card isn’t for you.
“While players understand that there exist other types of players, for some reason they forget this when they run across a card that doesn’t make sense to them. Why did Wizards print such a card? The answer is because we believed someone else would value it. Karrthus might not win any tournaments (even then, he is a 7/7 flier with haste for seven mana—hey, aesthetics popping up its head again), but I do know he’s going to go into a bunch of Dragon decks. I know that there will be players who rip him open and gape because in the circles they play, this is going to be an awesome card.
“Karrthus is fun. Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for the people the card was designed for.”
From “An Outside View”
It’s interesting because I and a couple of friends all had the same idea when we saw Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund: Wow! That seems pretty savage against Broodmate Dragon!
Here’s the thing: You probably wouldn’t play Karrthus in your main deck; you might not even think to sideboard him. But I asked Will Price this question last week:
You walk up to the first round pairings at Regionals. You haven’t turned in your deck list yet. You see that you are paired up against me first round… True or false, you swap one sideboard card for a single copy of Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund?
The answer was definitely, obviously, true.
Will and I will be live testing, podcasting and updating the universe “live” on Twitter tonight (check Top 8 Magic and Twitter* for details). Both of us like Jund Mana Ramp as one of our deck options right now. If you followed the awful-sounding BBQ podcasts from last week, you know why we find Mana Ramp to be so exciting. Here on Five With Flores I posted a Cascade-based ramp deck. One of the other decks I am considering is Reflecting Pool Control. What do all of these decks have in common?
They all play three or more Broodmate Dragons.
So especially in a deck that can muster seven mana, that can dig to a singleton copy of a particular game-breaking creature with Gift of the Gargantuan or Primal Command, why not play such an inexorable threat / threat-breaker?
Like I said, there is precedent.
Hydroblast is precedent.
Do you really think most Blue decks cared about blowing up individual Red cards? The Hydroblasts, in large part, were there to Counterspell the Pyroblasts to ensure that the Blue deck’s finale actually succeeded in closing the curtain; that is to keep the bad guy Stage Three non-interacting in Stage Three.
Ring of Gix is precedent (kind of**).
Back in the Napster v. Replenish days, Replenish really couldn’t beat a Stromgald Cabal. But Ring of Gix could tap it, allowing the bad guys (funny how the U/W deck is the bad guys in this example) to play their un-fun four mana White spells. Ring of Gix was notoriously difficult for Napster to deal with… Powder Keg did it, but along the way the good guys (funny how the Negator Black deck is the good guys in this example) would end up blowing up their Cabal, Skittering Horror, whatever gassy threes.
Or, Replenish could decelerate Napster into a point in Stage Two where Replenish could profitably interact and could work from to springboard into its true Stage Three.
Divert is precedent.
This is the best example I can think of because it is relatively recent… Extended PTQ season last year… Pre-season actually. The deck I was testing at the time was one of those U/W decks that Shaheen Soorani loves so much in Extended. The matchup against Red Deck Wins / Zoo was pretty good due to Spell Snares and Condemns. The trouble was in sideboarded games — especially when the Red Deck was on the play — and they could land a Molten Rain. The matchup was like 65/35 U/W if the Red Deck didn’t have Molten Rain and 20/80 if they did. The problem was that on the draw, there were no great cards to sideboard. You could play Remand but then they would just play it again. I found most of the permission spells in the format quite obnoxious and I really only liked Spell Snare and Cryptic Command, largely relying on Counterbalance to do my dirty work.
… But no way Counterblance could be accurately on-line at this stage of the game, especially on tne draw.
Divert was a card that was present purely to deal with Molten Rain. But deal it did. In addition to being pretty good against the mana tight Zoo decks at making them brain their own Tarmogoyfs with huge Tribal Flames, Divert could not only save one of my lands (and net me two life) but cripple the Red Deck at the same time.
In this case Red / Zoo was
Stone Molten Raining U/W into a Stage One from which it could never recover. Using Divert, U/W could keep itself in a Stage Two where it could keep up its dukes and in fact turn the tables on the Stages.
I see Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund as kind of the same card, but with less pressure attached. Divert was pretty good, but you kind of had to have it the turn they had the Molten Rain. With Karrthus, though, you should be able to set up and dig for a few turns before you can start crushing with the opponent’s own gear.
Most of the time this will “merely” be an incredibly powerful Stage Two play that puts the opponent on a one turn clock, but sometimes… Stage Three here we come!
** It’s only “kind of” precedent because Napster typically started Stromgald Cabal, even though it smelled like a sideboard card.