Five With Tarmogoyfs & Stuff

This one is a short analysis plus five matches with a new Zoo-ish deck inspired by The Lightning Bolt Deck.

Yesterday Luis Scott-Vargas posted an interesting deck on Star City Games yesterday.

It was based on a PE Top 8 deck by Adam Prosak.

Some of the cards I don’t love (in particular Mutavault is not something I would have started with) but I didn’t change the deck over-much until playing it some.

What makes Mutavault send shivers up my spine? I don’t like it in general but this deck is three colors and sometimes it just screws you. I guess it gets in for damage sometimes but that damage doesn’t seem particularly relevant to me. Also I hate random two-ofs as you know.

This is how I played the deck:

4 Lightning Helix

4 Tarmogoyf
4 Wild Nacatl

4 Incinerate
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Kird Ape
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Molten Rain
4 Seal of Fire
2 Sulfuric Vortex

4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Forest
3 Mountain
2 Mutavault
1 Sacred Foundry
3 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
3 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

3 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Ancient Grudge
4 Cryoclasm
2 Lash Out
2 Sulfuric Vortex

The original deck had a different three mana burn spell; I added Sulfuric Vortex in the slot (LSV made the same suggestion); you can’t avoid random two-ofs in a deck with twenty-two lands. Sulfuric Vortex is the strongest card in this deck. I mean Tarmogoyf is pretty good too but Sulfuric Vortex is the card that closes out games and makes them unwinnable for the opponent.

I left the Mutavaults because I didn’t know how to change things. Interestingly (especially for a twenty-two land deck) this one got flooded a bunch of times in the five matches I played. Small n, I guess.

The sideboard I made is very different from the ones posted.

3 Umezawa’s Jitte
This card is pretty good, you may have heard at some point. You kind of need it to zero out the opponent’s Jitte if nothing else.

4 Ancient Grudge
The original deck leaned more towards the Lightning Bolt deck than Zoo, but I think Ancient Grudge is more appropriate to this strategy than Smash to Smithereens (even though that is the sexier card in terms of you know, pure sex appeal).

4 Cryoclasm
I can’t cotton to playing Choke (even though I think I’ve won 75% of tournaments I’ve played lifetime with Choke in the sideboard). This deals three damage instead of giving them two permanents to blow up with Engineered Explosives after they’ve set you up with Venser. Random question… Do you think going to 8 Stone Rains is a strategy against real Zoo? They have a Plains, a Steam Vents, all kinds of Plains and Islands actually.

2 Lash Out
This card is great. Better than Incinerate against beatdown; comparable to Magma Jet, but does trips.

2 Sulfuric Vortex
Either they all come out or these two come in (more common) or you forgot to side them out.

I decided to play five matches with this deck because this is, you know, Five With Flores. I actually lost my notes from the first 2.5 matches on account of I was falling asleep last night and then my daughter decided to get up at like 5AM and play Lego Batman and I think she crashed the computer (dunno, I wasn’t up… but my document was gone when I got home).

1. Affinity (either that or Lightning Bolt Deck)

I think I got flooded in the first game, then drew Ancient Grudge in the second game, then drew three Ancient Grudge in the third game. So result: winner.

I dunno if the deck is even good or if Affinity is just bad. I mean I have always respected Affinity but I have never remotely come close to losing to it in Extended since the card Ancient Grudge was printed. I also don’t understand Affinity players who think they can beat Ancient Grudge. I mean I’m sure they have convinced themselves that they can (and have in testing) because they choose to play Affinity… But I’m just saying I have played against Affinity and never come close to losing since the card was invented. What does that mean?

I actuallycould have lost two or three (he drew a lot of Master of Etherium) but like I said, in the third I drew three Ancient Grudges and you can really only lose to all-in Atog. When I tested real Zoo (not this burn deck) I play / played Kataki and Ancient Grudge because that is the kind of person I am.

1-0, 2-1

2. Lightning Bolt Deck (or Affinity, one or the other)

I don’t remember too many details, just how one of the games ended. It was pretty cool. He played double Vortex on me with a reasonable expectation of winning before they killed him. Then I played Vortex on him. So he took six on his turn (was only banking on four). Given his hand he had more than enough to kill me with the six (and he had only planned on four) the next turn but I untapped and killed him first.

The match was really close.

I didn’t gain much if any life from Lightning Helixes or Jittes (sided out my Vortexes obviously, even though they won me the first), but I got there by having better cards. Now I guess I am remembering more (that triple Vortex affair must have been game one, logically); second I got my Tarmogoyf killed by an Incinerate due to being rusty at Tarmogoyf. I won anyway in what must have been uninteresting fashion based on the decks.

2-0, 4-1

2.5 Lightning Bolt Deck I think.

I don’t remember. I remember being down a game and falling asleep. Match 2.5: You are erased from the record!

3. Braid of Fire deck

His deck was kind of cool but had some really less-than-Tier-One cards… just had things in common that they were cool with Braid of Fire (mostly jones that pumped for Red). Nevertheless I lost the first due to mana flood.

I came back and won the next two with these Tarmogoyfs. Uninteresting.

What was interesting was Braid of Fire. I am going to try to make a Braid deck that I will update on after I, you know, make it. The card seems quite powerful due to being asymmetrical.

3-0, 6-2

4. Anti-Red White Weenie

Game One he drew two Silver Knights and I wasn’t sure how I was going to win; then I remembered I drew Wild Nacatl and Tarmogoyf (which I had in play and in hand, respectively). Those aren’t Red at all! Thank you LSV’s article!

Game Two he drew first turn Burrenton Forge-Tender, second turn Silver Knight obviously, and followed up later with Serra Avenger and Silver Knight. I was playing kind of loose until I realized I was on the wrong end of 8-20 or thereabouts. I eventually won with Green cards on the ground, and burn cards to face.

4-0, 8-2

5. Death Cloud Rock

In the first I didn’t realize what deck he was; he won the flip and started on Polluted Delta. He later made a Swamp and cycled Barren Moor. Then he made turn two Loam. The game was not interesting; he conceded to Vortex on turn four even though I didn’t have that much going on.

Second game I lost to my own stupid mana base. He played two copies of Thoughtseize (why is that in your deck against a Red Deck sideboarded?)… he literally played Death Cloud for three (could have been six) before I could cast the Molten Rains I had left in. No, I had three. Three on three actually… But one of them was a Temple Garden and the third was one of those pointless Mutavaults. I conceded well before it was technically over because he left two Mutavaults and it was obvious I was not going to win.

Third game I kept two spells and he Thoughtseized my Vortex. Nevertheless I played a turn two Mutavault and a keldon Marauders and started getting in there (Mutavault kind of made up for the fact that it exists, therefore offending me). I drew another Vortex and Tarmogoyf and won thanks to the best cards in my deck.

5-0, 10-3 (if you want to count the aborted 2.5, 5-0, 10-4)

My conclusion is that this deck is very good. I would consider playing it in a PTQ. It really feels like Zoo to me, so if you like Zoo… that is what it feels like; much less so than the Lightning Bolt Deck.

I would add one Tarfire, possibly cutting a Seal of Fire, just for more Tarmogoyf mizing. Most people don’t have Tarmogoyf these days so I want to maximize potential bang bang. I guess you could also cut one random Sulfuric Vortex and move it to the sideboard, maybe over the third Jitte. The deck is actually reasonably prepared for Elves with Mogg Fanatic, Seal of Fire, and potentially Tarfire on one.

And to Mutavault: You are awful. But you aren’t fired yet.


PS Sorry this might seem a little grumpy. I am watching the Cavs at the Bulls and the worthless Bulls dropped our starting shooting guard (Delonte West) on his head and fractured his right wrist. It was about the worst hit I have ever seen in a basketball game. Very disconcerting, especially how the season has been going, how well Delonte has been playing, and the fact that we have a back-to-back home game (risking our NBA-best 19-0 home record) against the brilliant Chris Paul tomorrow night.

facebook comments:


#1 jimmypoopins on 01.15.09 at 9:30 pm

in death cloud he most likely left in thoughtseize because he lost to sulfuric vortex game 1. he probably thought you were playing it as a 4-of and for that reason kept thoughtseize in. sulfuric vortex is a game loss unless there is some enchantment hate boarded in, almost always.

#2 admin on 01.16.09 at 6:19 am

Yeah, I understand in the sense that he took Sulfuric Vortex in sideboarded games.

I just think Thoughtseize is one of the most overrated cards in Magic, and I would be hard pressed to have it in my deck against a Red deck in a post-Game One situation (if I even started it… it is not typically a card I play starting). Thoughtseize gives the Red Deck exactly what it wants: two damage in one card… But the opponent is making the mana down payment.

The reason I don’t like Thoughtseize in this situation is that yes, he did get Sulfuric Vortex, but he won Game Two only because I was color screws and Game Three wasn’t close anyway. If you need a Sulfuric Vortex / Red Deck solution, then you should probably try to play some kind of a Sulfuric Vortex / Red Deck solution; Thoughtseize is an inconsistent “solution” to the Vortex problem because the opponent has to have it in hand when you play Thoughtseize… It is neutral or bad more than 50% of the time, mathematically.

I would be interested in hearing what GavinV thinks about this…

Sorry again for being a colossal grump. Still grumpy.


#3 GavinV on 01.16.09 at 1:38 pm

He was probably just following what GerryT said to do in his article on the deck this week. (Leave Thoughtseize in against Vortex)

In my testing, Thoughtseize is really only great when you hit Vortex. True, Vortex is crucial and the game hinges on it, but you should have other sideboarded ways to deal with Vortex. The problem is that often you are using Thoughtseize to “trade up” one or two damage, which isn’t really worthwhile to leave in your deck. It ends up being something like B, gain 1-3 life, but worse because your opponent doesn’t have to tap mana for his spell and you do. It’s a bad Healing Salve! And don’t get me started on what happens when you draw one while you’re desperately looking for action at 3-5 life and he has 0-1 cards in hand…

If your sole goal is to nug Vortex I can see leaving it in, but (in my opinion, although it is contrary to what Gerry says) there’s more to the matchup than that and I would much rather just board in cards that are overall more effective against Vortex (and their deck) as long as I have them in my sideboard.


#4 GavinV on 01.16.09 at 1:41 pm

Also, this is yet another reason why I like Explosives more than wrath or Punishment. It just has so much more versatility than wrathing and can come online one turn earlier than Punishment. I understand Gerry’s arguments against zoo, but I still highly prefer Explosives.

#5 admin on 01.16.09 at 2:24 pm

As you know — but other peeps probably don’t — the list I sent you a little while back had both Engineered Explosives and Crime // Punishment! I think your choice to go with Smothers is ultimately better v. Zoo decks with Gaddock Teeg (obviously)… but when I was playing The Rock I really loved the combination of power and versatility.

#6 rubbaducky42 on 01.16.09 at 8:39 pm

Less grumpy now?

#7 admin on 01.16.09 at 10:16 pm

Wait until the next post!

#8 towelie1 on 01.17.09 at 1:26 pm

Hey, I was the Death Cloud player that you played against. The reason I left in the Thoughtseizes was a combination of trying to get Vortex and a lack of better sideboard options. The deck that you played and zoo are not very common in 4-mans and PEs so I didn’t really have many sideboard options for it. Much of my sideboard is fo Faeries, as it is by far the most popular deck. Too bad I wasn’t able to make the match more interesting, but I didn’t see Finks or Baloth that match.

#9 admin on 01.17.09 at 6:14 pm

Hey! Thanks for joining us and your perspective (also sorry if I was grumpy sounding… as I put in the PS to this post I was in a bad mood that night). I have to agree with GavinV (who by the way has heartlessly stabbed my friend and deck in the heart today… Round 3 against Josh Ravitz, who was then paired with BK as well! Holy Five With Flores!) that Cloud needs some action against Vortex strats… Even if Fae is the more common matchup, it doesn’t seem that rough whereas the Vortex decks are an uphill battle, even if less popular.

Thanks for posting!


#10 Five With Flores » Cautiously Whelmed by Thrun, the Last Troll on 01.23.11 at 8:07 am

[…] can I see Thrun, the Last Troll fitting in? I think that Thrun, the Last Troll will be very Tarmogoyf-ish… Played heavily by decks that capable of casting it, but not played everywhere. For […]

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