March 29, 2016

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Musings of The Madman: Off the Beaten (Sorrow’s) Path

Welcome back all! A recent discussion on the MTGCanada podcast concerned the worst cards ever printed. While I get the gist of the discussion heading toward which cards made us, as players, feel bad when playing against them, I’ll be focusing one of the functionally worst cards ever made. It’s so bad that I’m going to break it wide open.

Our winner?

It’s a land, yay! Except it doesn’t tap for mana. Except it doesn’t help in combat like its colleague Maze of Ith. Instead, it kills your entire army and shocks you for good measure. So how do we break it? Quite simple. We need to untap it as many times as possible during our turn. Hmm, green is great at untapping lands, so we’ll use that color to start. Blue also has a ton of untap, so that’s our second color. Our third? It involves one of the kill conditions and is woefully underplayed. Come on down, red mana!

Before we get to the mechanics, let’s look at what Sorrow’s Path actually does. It taps to exchange two blocking creatures’ assignments, for the low low price of two damage to all your troops (not just the attackers!) and to you. The best part? If it gets tapped for any reason, you take two. Rishadan Port on the table? Suffer a downside. Someone is playing Derevi, Empyrial Tactician? Just cross your arms in seething frustration. We’re going to turn this to our benefit though, using a broken rare from Exodus to do our bidding. I present…

With Mind Over Matter, your hand becomes a Sorrow’s Path trigger. You’ll obviously need more cards to kill people (about 20 for our purposes), so using Arcanis the Omnipotent will essentially draw your deck. Here’s how it works. With an active Arcanis, you tap to draw three cards. You then discard a card to Mind Over Matter to untap Arcanis, drawing three more cards. Your library will eventually end up in your hand, ensuring “victory”. A Pyrrhic victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Yes, yes, I hear you back there saying you need about nine blue mana, seven generic mana and your opponents to be nice to you to keep MoM, Arcanis and enough mana to bounce Arcanis. Details, details. You do know we’re playing green right?

The Kill

The gentle reader may remember me mentioning Kenneth Gallagher a few columns back. One of his favourite casual cards is this overpowered little piece of goblin death-dealing:

As a refresher, please note that the Maniac targets a player when damaged, so you’re essentially playing kingmaker once you have the combo out. Essentially, you declare attackers, force a block somehow, activate the Path, exchange blockers then….rat-tat-tat-tat-tat! Machine gun Mogg Maniac glory! I see Statler and Waldorf snickering in the balcony though, so I’ll explain how the team lives. Indestructibility! If your team can’t die, then the Path becomes a near infinite damage engine! How could anything go wrong?

Assembling the chaotic mess:

We’ll begin the game with a healthy amount of ramping, as we’ll need at least eight blue sources out to get things functioning. In order to protect our combo, we’ll play with cards such as Defense Grid and perhaps even City of Solitude, though I’m very hot and cold on the latter these days. Finally, to grant our creatures indestructible status, Darksteel Plate will protect one of our creatures (likely the Mogg Fanatic), while Eldrazi Monument will protect the whole team. Since we need to sacrifice a creature to keep the Eldrazi happy, I suggest adding “damage to token” enablers like Saber Ants to the mix. You get two tokens per Sorrow’s Path activation, which creates more indestructible tokens. We’ll use red’s ability to force blockers as well to further our goals. If the opponent chooses to let your army through, you just go nuts and kill them very, very slowly.

Here’s a brief outline of the deck. I’ve left around 10 open “flex” slots open for you to fill as you desire. The deck works simply enough; ramp up into Mind Over Matter, play a Mogg Maniac and some other creatures, force blocks and then kill everyone. Fun! There are also a ton of fragile untappers as well, since we don’t want to just thrash our local metagames into a hopeless, mewling pulp.

Surrak Dragonclaw Goes Down the Sorrow’s Path

Commander (1)
Surrak Dragonclaw

Creatures: (17)
Arcanis the Omnipotent
Broodhatch Nantuko
Deadeye Navigator
Elder Druid
Great Whale
Hunted Dragon
Hunted Troll
Juniper Order Druid
Krosan Restorer
Ley Druid
Magus of the Candelabra
Mogg Maniac
Sabre Ants
Sakura-tribe Elder
Solemn Simulacrum
Voyaging Satyr
Yavimaya Elder

Artifacts: (13)
Akroma’s Memorial
Commander’s Sphere
Darksteel Ingot
Darksteel Plate
Eldrazi Monument
Expedition Map
Izzet Signet
Lightning Greaves
Simic Signet
Sol Ring
Sword of Feast and Famine
Swiftfoot Boots

Spells: (20)
Explosive Vegetation
Green Sun’s Zenith
Guided Passage
Mark for Death
Temur Charm
Irresistible Prey
Kodama’s Reach
Krosan Grip
Sylvan Scrying
Teferi’s Response
Worldly Tutor
Fiery Gambit

Enchantments: (2)
Invasion Plans
Mind Over Matter

Lands: (38)
12 Island
10 Forest
Breeding Pool
City of Brass
Deserted Temple
Frontier Bivouac
Kessig Wolf Run
Petrified Field
Reflecting Pool
Sorrow’s Path
Steam Vents
Strip Mine

That’s it for now, let’s see some of you at the prereleases this coming weekend! Until next week, may the path less taken lead neither to sorrow nor exile.