Cracking the Corruption: Part 3

zack hineWelcome to the final installment of the three part Cracking the Corruption series. If you haven't yet done so, check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

In Part 2, we decided to try our hand at a Water/Nature build with a Fire splash after using Bobby Brake's Water/Nature/Darkness version as a starting point. We're pretty certain that we want to be in green, but the Fire splash is iffy. If [ccProd]Blitz Commando[/ccProd] doesn't pull his weight, then the whole thing falls apart. [ccProd]Tornado Flame[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Gilaflame the Assaulter[/ccProd] aren't bad cards by any stretch, but they're inessential; we're simply playing them because we need some solid mono-Fire cards that we can mana without a second thought.

In our initial bout of playtesting, we want to make note of certain things:

  • Are the synergies from our Corrupted creatures providing real value? Buffing the whole squad sounds great on paper, but are the bonuses directly contributing to wins?
  • Are we surviving long enough to be able to make the 7 mana investment for [ccProd]Warbringer Poseidon[/ccProd] worthwhile?
  • Is [ccProd]Blitz Commando[/ccProd] powerful enough to elicit a red splash, or would we be better served dipping into Light or Darkness?
  • How big of a handicap are our shield blasts? Are we getting run over? Is something as seemingly innocuous as [ccProd]Choten's Stalker Sphere[/ccProd] actually playable if we decide to ditch Fire?

So, what should we pit this deck against? I find that a good rule of thumb is to use a Dragon deck as a control in your experiments. Yes, 3 or 4 color Dragons is predictable in what it tries to accomplish, and yes, it's been proven that it can be beaten, but the cards are simply too powerful on their own to fade from the tournament scene entirely. It's also always popular, at least in the northeast. If your pet deck gets easily thwarted by a run of the mill Dragon hand, then there's no sense in going any further with it.

For this playtesting session, I will be piloting a stock Dragon list, and my brother Tyler will be piloting our RUG Corrupted deck from Part 2.

Game 1

I win the die roll and elect to go first, sending [ccProd]Piercing Judgment[/ccProd] to the mana zone and ending. Tyler's opening hand consists of [ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd], [ccProd]Seneschal, Choten's Lieutenant[/ccProd], [ccProd]Tricky Turnip[/ccProd], [ccProd]Aqua Trickster[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Tornado Flame[/ccProd]. He draws a [ccProd]Bad Apple[/ccProd], manas the Flame, and ends.

I mana my own [ccProd]Tornado Flame[/ccProd] and summon [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd].

Tyler draws a [ccProd]Warbringer Poseidon[/ccProd] and sends it to the mana zone so that he can summon [ccProd]Aqua Trickster[/ccProd]. Trickster into Turnip into Apple isn't a bad line of play, but if I'm able to stack Fire Birds, [ccProd]Herald of Infernus[/ccProd] could cause problems. If the Trickster were a Renegade, Tyler would be in better shape, but he's still looking for another Nature source so that he can play the Turnip and the Apple.

Tragically, I'm not able to locate a Darkness source for my [ccProd]Umbra[/ccProd] and I'm forced to mana it and pass. I could have pecked with the [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd], but I didn't have a level 5 Dragon follow-up, so giving Tyler a free card to potentially smooth out any multiciv problems wouldn't be in my best interest. [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd] isn't going to be able to take him down single-handedly -- he's getting in for one shield at most.

Tyler draws a [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd], manas it, drops a Turnip, and ends his turn.

I mana [ccProd]Andromeda of the Citadel[/ccProd] and cast a [ccProd]Crystal Memory[/ccProd] to help me get some footing. I again end without attacking aimlessly.

Tyler draws a [ccProd]Bronze-Arm Renegade[/ccProd] for the turn. He manas Seneschal, summons [ccProd]Bad Apple[/ccProd], and swings in with the newly-Corrupted Turnip, triggering Apple's ability. Another [ccProd]Tricky Turnip[/ccProd] gets flipped into the mana zone off the top of the deck. The shield Tyler breaks is a [ccProd]Piercing Judgment[/ccProd], which bounces the Apple and taps the Trickster. Right on time.

Zach - 4 shields   /   Tyler - 5 shields

[ccProd]Stormspark Blast[/ccProd] is my resource on my turn 5, and thanks to [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd], I'm able to summon [ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd], tapping down Ty's Trickster in the process (Turnip can't be targeted). Lyra's ability is irrelevant here, since I just eat the Trickster with [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd] and end.

Tyler draws [ccProd]Gilaflame the Assaulter[/ccProd] for the turn, and quickly sends it to mana, putting him at 6. He summons his [ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd], returns Lyra to my hand, and beats over [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd] with [ccProd]Tricky Turnip[/ccProd], drawing a [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd] in the process.

Seeing that Tyler has already used Finbarr, and already has a Trap and a Flame in the row, I opt to drop a naked [ccProd]Herald of Infernus[/ccProd] and end my turn. My other card in hand is [ccProd]General Skycrusher[/ccProd], and untapping with Herald is the only way to summon all 3 of my creatures over the next two critical turns. Lyra might have been the safer play here, but he wouldn't really fear that card and would just come in and draw a free card(s) anyway. A Seneschal or Apple added to his board would put me in a bad way with my small hand. I have to hope that the threat of Herald makes attacking unattractive.

Tyler draws for turn, and it's a [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd]. He opts to send it to mana, and then [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd]s my Herald, much to my chagrin. [ccProd]Tricky Turnip[/ccProd] attacks, and Tyler draws another Renegade thanks to Finbarr. Luckily for me, he cracks a [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd], which I use to dispatch his General.

Zach - 3 shields   /   Tyler - 5 shields

I skip my mana charge, and summon [ccProd]General Skycrusher[/ccProd]. My General is a little less potent than Ty's, as he is unable to banish anything with his come-into-play ability at the moment.

Tyler draws an [ccProd]Aqua Trickster[/ccProd], sends it to mana to go to 8, and then proceeds to summon [ccProd]Bad Apple[/ccProd] alongside two [ccProd]Bronze-Arm Renegades[/ccProd]. He correctly ends his turn without attacking.

I skip mana yet again, drop the Lyra, tap his [ccProd]Bad Apple[/ccProd], and smash into it with Skycrusher, regrettably awarding Ty with a free mana.

Tyler draws [ccProd]Seneschal, Choten's Lieutenant[/ccProd] and knows it's time to run it in. He slams down the Lieutenant, and attacks with one of the Bronze-Arms, drawing a [ccProd]Sprout[/ccProd]. No shield blast this time. His second Bronze-Arm flies in, allowing him to draw [ccProd]Reap and Sow[/ccProd]. Again, no shield blast on my end. Finally, Turnip comes in unscathed.

Zach - 0 shields   /   Tyler - 5 shields

I'm hurting bad, so I need to stick some double breakers. More importantly, I need to do whatever I can to survive a turn. I mana an [ccProd]Umbra[/ccProd], allowing me to summon [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd], [ccProd]Aqua Strider[/ccProd], and my random pop of [ccProd]Screeching Scaradorable[/ccProd], which kills a Renegade. Skycrusher and Lyra then turn sideways and eat the other Renegade and the delicious Turnip. I have 6 breaks on board.

Tyler rips Gilaflame off the top and slams it down, using both it and Seneschal to overwhelm my single blocker. Game one goes to Corrupted in convincing fashion!

Post-Game Thoughts: It was encouraging that Tyler was able to apply constant pressure, and the flood of bonuses from cards like [ccProd]Bad Apple[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Seneschal, Choten's Lieutenant[/ccProd] kept him afloat in the face of some early blasts on my part. That being said, the Dragon deck was a little slow out the gate, and without [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd] or an early Herald, it felt like I was always on the backfoot. Gilaflame certainly proved his worth in that game, but if the Dragon deck drew better, would Tyler have been too far behind for Gilly to matter?

Game 2

I'm on the play again and start by sending [ccProd]Heretic Prince Var-rakka[/ccProd] to the mana zone. Tyler's opener is [ccProd]Warbringer Poseidon[/ccProd], [ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd], [ccProd]Bronze-Arm Renegade[/ccProd], [ccProd]Reap and Sow[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd]. He draws another Renegade for his turn, and rows the [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd].

I mana a [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd] and pass it back.

Ty draws a Lieutenant Senschal, and thinks for a bit before resourcing [ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd]. He remarks about the fact that he might have wanted to hold onto Finbarr, but wants to see if it pans out for testing purposes. Always make note when you deviate from a more conventional line of play so you can come back and revisit the effect it had on the game. Tyler summons his [ccProd]Bronze-Arm Renegade[/ccProd] and ends.

I mana a [ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd] and summon [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd]. Our Corrupted deck doesn't have many ways to deal with [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd] before he potentially gets out of hand, which could be the difference maker in this one.

Tyler draws a [ccProd]Sprout[/ccProd]. He contemplates being greedy by attempting to flip a monocivilization card off the top with the [ccProd]Sprout[/ccProd] and then summoning the second Renegade, but knows that the risk is too great. He proceeds to mana the [ccProd]Sprout[/ccProd] instead. Ty deploys the second Renegade and passes the turn.

I yank another [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd] off the top of the deck. Perfect. I mana [ccProd]Crystal Memory[/ccProd] and in swoops my Fire Bird companion. Double [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd] on the play is a recipe for disaster for the opponent.

Tyler draws [ccProd]Blitz Commando[/ccProd], and makes a note telling himself that he indeed would have been punished had he cast [ccProd]Sprout[/ccProd] on the previous turn. He rows [ccProd]Reap and Sow[/ccProd] and summons [ccProd]Seneschal, Choten's Lieutenant[/ccProd]. Ty lords over a pretty ideal Corrupted field at this stage in the game, to be sure. Still, he has no way to interact with my Birds, and he's pretty much forced into attacking here so that he can dig for answers. If he breaks Dragons in my shields, though, I'll just start chaining them and drawing into fresh ones. Undaunted, Tyler swings in with the Bronze-Arm, drawing another copy of Seneschal. He dodges a shield blast. Next, he comes in with the other Bronze-Arm, drawing an [ccProd]Aqua Trickster[/ccProd] in the process. This time, he cracks a [ccProd]Bone Blades[/ccProd], which regrettably can't do squat thanks to his Lieutenant.

Zach - 3 shields   /   Tyler - 5 shields

I quickly mana the [ccProd]Bone Blades[/ccProd] and summon [ccProd]Herald of Infernus[/ccProd], then draw 2 cards via [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd]. I make a note of the fact that Tyler has not unlocked Fire mana yet. He could always get there and then kill me with a Commando out of hand, but I felt that this was the correct play regardless. Even if he has the ideal response, any [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd], [ccProd]Tornado Flame[/ccProd], or [ccProd]Stormspark Blast[/ccProd] in my shields would allow me to survive and then stabilize with a free Dragon from Herald's War Cry.

Ty draws [ccProd]Bad Apple[/ccProd] and manas his second Seneschal. When the opponent passes up the opportunity to draw 2 cards per attack, that means they must have something pretty dirty. He summons the Apple and attacks with Seneschal first. Both triggered abilities resolve, allowing him to mana a Finbarr off the top and draw into a [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd]. No shield blast. Next, Ty swings in with the Renegade, plopping a [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd] into mana and drawing yet another [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd]. Nice shuffling, Ty. The shield breaks and it's [ccProd]Stormspark Blast[/ccProd], which I promptly cast.

Zach - 1 shield   /   Tyler - 5 shields

Showtime. I send [ccProd]Herald of Infernus[/ccProd] to mana, and summon an [ccProd]Umbra[/ccProd]. Now that I control 3 Fire Birds, I'm able to summon [ccProd]Serpens the Spirit Shifter[/ccProd] for 4 mana, drawing 2 cards off [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd]. Herald runs over Lieutenant Seneschal (giving Ty free mana), but allowing me to drop a second Serpens into play for free, drawing 2 more cards in the process. I then ram both my [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd]es into his tapped Renegade, which allows me to regenerate 4 shields thanks to Serpens.

Zach - 5 shields   /   Tyler - 5 shields

Wincing from that beating, Tyler draws into a [ccProd]Warbringer Poseidon[/ccProd], and still can't find a Fire mana to save his life. He manas [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd], putting him at 9 mana. He taps 7 and jams a [ccProd]Warbringer Poseidon[/ccProd], followed by a free [ccProd]Aqua Trickster[/ccProd]. He then declares an attack with his [ccProd]Bad Apple[/ccProd], and flips a [ccProd]Tornado Flame[/ccProd] into his mana off the top, finally unlocking Fire. Apple gets in there and doesn't suffer any shield blast consequences. Next, he attacks with the [ccProd]Bronze-Arm Renegade[/ccProd], and manas another [ccProd]Tornado Flame[/ccProd] with the Apple's ability. This time, Tyler runs into a [ccProd]Crystal Memory[/ccProd], which telegraphs what I will be attempting to do on the next turn. Ty soldiers on, coming in with the final Renegade, and sending a [ccProd]Reap and Sow[/ccProd] to mana off the top of the deck. He dodges a blast and we're on to my turn.

Zach - 2 shields   /   Tyler - 5 shields

I send a [ccProd]Tornado Flame[/ccProd] to mana, and summon [ccProd]General Finbarr[/ccProd]. He bounces the Poseidon, and then Herald runs over a Renegade and I draw a card (Renegade goes to the mana zone). Unsurprisingly, I drop a free [ccProd]Andromeda of the Citadel[/ccProd], buffing me back up to 4 shields. Next, both Serpens attack into [ccProd]Bronze-Arm Renegade[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Bad Apple[/ccProd], in that order.

Zach - 4 shields   /   Tyler - 5 shields

It's looking pretty grim for the Corrupted deck at this point. Tyler draws a [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd] putting him to 7 cards in hand. One's immediate reaction might be to [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd] the Andromeda, but he realizes that he's running out of time. He manas the [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd] (going to 15!) and casts a [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd], presumably looking for any small Corrupted creatures he can find. He gets there in a big way by ripping [ccProd]Bad Apple[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Seneschal, Choten's Lieutenant[/ccProd]! Tyler taps 7 to re-summon [ccProd]Warbringer Poseidon[/ccProd], then taps his final 5 mana to summon a second Poseidon. Next, he plops down both the freshly drawn Corrupted 4 drops for free, and caps it off with a free [ccProd]Blitz Commando[/ccProd]! Now all his guys have Fast Attack. This series of attacks is going to decide it all.

He comes in and double breaks with the Warbringer, opting not to ramp and tapping his Apple due to Andromeda's Awe Strike ability, while drawing an undocumented card. I see a [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Aqua Strider[/ccProd] in shields -- not at all what I was hoping for. The second Poseidon attacks my final 2 shields, and again, Tyler decides not to ramp and taps the other Apple for Andromeda then draws a card. I rub my remaining shields around trying to generate some shield blast luck, but it wasn't meant to be -- my broken [ccProd]Piercing Judgment[/ccProd] can't target his [ccProd]Blitz Commando[/ccProd], and I'm simply dead. Game two goes to Corrupted in ridiculous comeback fashion!

Post-Game Thoughts: Now that was convincing. In a world without [ccProd]Bottle of Wishes[/ccProd], I drew about as well as Dragons can hope to in game 2, but it still wasn't enough. Yes, Tyler needed two level 4 or lower Corrupted creatures (including at least one Seneschal, as it turned out) off the [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd], but just the fact that the deck is even capable of such a flashy comeback makes me take notice. If I was able to survive another turn, I'd be able to regenerate some shields while still killing Ty's Poseidons thanks to Serpens and [ccProd]Umbra[/ccProd], but since Tyler was approaching 20 mana and all his creatures would bounce back to his hand, I'd be forced to send the whole team into his shields prematurely anyway. Granted, with no threat of [ccProd]Stormspark Blast[/ccProd] and a couple [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd]s accounted for, I probably would have had enough to win. The [ccProd]Blitz Commando[/ccProd] was an MVP in this game. The win wasn't possible without him.


We might have a basis to work with here. Gilaflame sealed the deal in game 1, and [ccProd]Blitz Commando[/ccProd] brought it home in game 2. The  power level of individual Fire cards is lacking, but the threat of [ccProd]Blitz Commando[/ccProd] is ever-present in the late game. Beating Dragons means the deck passed the "litmus test," but that doesn't mean it's ready for a KMC just yet! I expect plenty of resilient aggressive strategies like Megabugs, Bant Hexproof, and Blurple to be in full force at the Championship! And no round of testing is ever complete without butting heads against Haven and/or Kalima-flavored control decks.

If you like the cut of Corrupted's jib, give the Water/Fire/Nature combination a try! If you have any suggestions for how to refine the build, or any thoughts on how the games played out, leave them in the comments below!

Until next time, Play Hard or Go Home!