Friday Night Alchemy: Hiding Behind Pillows and Stuffing
I didn’t come up with this week’s list. Travis Woo did. If you like the wacky, the different, and the fun, check out his articles and stream on Twitch. He came up with this deck and deemed it “Pillow Fort,” and I stole it. I did. I’m pretty over it.
I’ve actually been wanting to play it at FNM for a long time, but I wanted to wait for the meta at Jupiter to slow down a bit. When Gatecrash came out, everyone was slamming folding chairs over each other’s heads with Boros Reckoners, Hellriders and similar cards like over testosteroned wrestlers trying to make it on the underground local circuit. Yes, I made up the word “testosteroned.” I’m pretty over it.
I’ve begun to see the resurgence of the midrange with only a small percentage playing permission, so I pulled out my goose feathers to protect myself and a tiny sword made out of the cardboard rolls hidden within the paper towels previously only used for throwing at your sister and battled.
So, the point of the deck is to make your opponents as unhappy as possible while you sit in your chair as giddy as can be. While I’m mostly kidding in that sentence, that is pretty much what ends up happening anyway. One Sphere lock means that your opponent can only hope to burn you or mill you in Game 1 as your Assemble the Legions token slowly pile up and proceed to drag your opponent into a desperate and depressing mental state not unlike waterboarding. I played some dear and close friends at FNM, and they hated me when they had zero outs. Kind of a lot.
Obviously, the real goal of the deck is to play an enchantment every turn and hopefully play a Sphere of Safety of your fourth or fifth turn. From then on, you would like your opponent to be incapable of attacking you. You then just draw your deck with Revealation until you get to a Drownyard and then hope your opponent isn’t waiting for you in the parking lot.
The original deck was constructed before Gatecrash came out and lacked Blind Obedience and Assemble the Legions. Blind Obedience I felt was a necessary inclusion, and I happily ditched Mana Blooms for an enchantment that was a dagger for hyper aggressive decks and able to keep me in games via the looming tax collection of the Orzhov. I escaped several games I would have otherwise lost if I could not have gained occasional life. I’ve spoken about my love for this card in previous articles, so I won’t drag on again. Check out those past articles to read my ballads to this enchantment.
Assemble the Legion was also another post-Gatecrash inclusion. This card served as the only actual win condition the deck had besides Nephalia Drownyard, but it also let me play a bit of defense. It let me chump for what seemed like forever while I hid inside the bubble of enchantments I had created with Sphere of Safety and ate a sandwich. You like to occasionally attack with more creatures than your opponent has life points and move onto the following game. I really preferred to having an actual win condition besides a land with a deck not played online. Opponents don’t really concede in real life unless lethal damage is ensuing.
I almost foolishly neglected a Sacred Foundry before submitting this deck, but I wanted to ensure that I could cast Assemble. I also recommend one basic land. I got Ghost Quartered and felt silly. More than once.
The Detention Spheres and Oblivion Rings served as the spot removal to boost up X on our Spheres. Being able to hit practically anything with these cards makes their permanency worth the risk of their reward. They are unconditional than other spot removal, but their cost and effectiveness with Sphere make them truly wonderful. I included Ray of Revelation in the sideboard because I feared opposing Spheres and Rings after sideboarding.
Witchbane Orb also serves very relevant against control matchups and aggressive matchups. Opponents cannot Drownyard or burn you to death with an active Orb in play. You can bet that as much creature removal will be coming out after boarding for a better use of those two strategies. A wonderful notion of this deck is that zero decks in a room are prepared for it, and opponents will still have a handful of dead cards after sideboadring.
I tested with Hank for several hours before and we knew each other’s lists pretty well. I knew that he was running Detention Spheres to take care of my Spheres of Safety and he would have plenty of time to rip through his deck to find them via Sphinx’s Revelations. The first game went pretty much exactly like that. I was able to Oblivion Ring his Loxodon Smitters and other reasonable threats while I cast a Sphere on my fifth turn. He piled up an army of guys via a gigantic Prime Speaker triggering off a Thragtusk. I tried to tear through my deck to find an Assemble, but I never found one. I did find a Touch of the Eternal, but it wasn’t particularly good with nineteen permanents and heaps more damage staring me in the face. Hank eventually found a Detention Sphere and killed my Sphere and me.
Sideboarding: +3 Jace, Memory Adept +2 Nevermore +2 Ray of Revelation -2 Terminus -1 Touch of the Eternal -2 Assemble the Legions -1 Blind Obedience -1 Farseek
I kept a weak six cards and started with a Nevermore. Without a Detention Sphere in my hand, I had a tough decision to me. I knew that Detention Sphere were the only way for Hank to get enough damage to defeat me, but I also wanted to be able to cast my own. I went with naming Prime Speaker instead. A Jace, Memory Adept was plussed from Hank’s side soon afterwords, and it was Oblivion Ringed on my next turn. Hank chipped at me until I found a Sphere of Safety. He then played a second Jace, which I initially had trouble dealing with. The Jace was not zeroed, and Hank got to rip through his deck more. I found a Detention Sphere a turn before ultimate, and I targeted my own Oblivion Ring with the Jace underneath it to ensure that both of those cards died. I struggled from then on out and Hank found a Detention Sphere to kill me.
I kept a bad but mandatorily keepable 6 cards that included double Assemble plus my single Sacred Foundry. I did nothing until my first Assemble on my fifth turn while a Black Cat clawed at my life total. I followed with my second Assemble on my following turn while Tom answered with a Blood Artist followed by another. I sank in my seat, knowing that I was going to die to a Mutilate in a matter of time. Five turns later, Tom still had not found the Mutilate and was dead shortly. He luckily found his Mutilate to beat me.
Sideboarding: +2 Curse of the Bloody Tome +2 Jace, Memory Adept -2 Terminus -2 Assemble the Legions
Game two was just as miserable for me as the first. I stuck an early Curse on Tom and was trying to get there on the mill plan, and I was able to name Liliana of the Veil with a Nevermore. However, I wasn’t able to find the things to prevent Tom from attacking me with two Nighthawks, including any combination of Oblivion Rings, Detention Spheres or Spheres of Safety. I died, frustrated with the weaknesses of the deck.
I knew the name of this game was going to be remove everything he plays and hope to not die. I got lucky with a Blind Obedience Game 1, and I knew that I was going to be in good shape if that was his first play. An Ash Zealot attacked me not –so hastily, but I was able to send it into Oblivion. Hellriders, Maulers and the like were eventually unable to attack me via a Sphere of Safety. I started to claw my way to victory through an Assemble the Legion, and a Sphinx’s Revelation ensured that my life total was secure. I was then able to extort off Blind Obedience, and Rob couldn’t do anything.
Sideboarding: +2 Witchbane Orb +1 Nevermore -2 Terminus -1 Touch of the Eternal
Our second game was played very reactively on my part, a style of Magic I prefer not to play. I find it very important to make all the difficult decisions my opponent’s responsibility. I like to let your opponents make all of the mistakes by applying pressure every step of the way. That’s what Rob did in this game. He played a creature and attacked, and I had to react to each sixth of higher fraction being scooped away from my life total by playing an enchantment on my turn. I was able to stick some Sensory Deprivations after it was all too late, but Sensory Deprivations don’t do much with a Hellrider on the field. I still take one whether I like it or not.
This game was a close one. I found a Blind Obedience on my second turn and landed a Witchbane Orb on my fourth. I solidified the victory with a Sphere on my fifth turn, and Robert was forced to attack me with a bear of some kind, paying six or higher mana along the way. I dug through my deck with a Revelation, and Robert cast Skullcrack, targeting himself, to prevent me from gaining any life (my Witchbane Orb prevented him from targeting me). I didn’t much care about my life total at that point because I had more enchantments than he had lands, and he couldn’t burn me out. An Assemble eventually got my first W of the night.
Lycanthropy and its conjugations are some of my favorite words, but for those not familiar with this especially intelligent but nerdy word, it basically means werewolves and the like. Mr. Deemie started with a Wolfbitten Captive, pumping it on his second turn and causing a flip. I was pretty happy with that result because I was able to stick an Oblivion Ring on it, saving myself a bunch of life. His following Kruin Striker suffered a similar fate and so did his Huntmaster. From there, I successfully cast a Sphere of Safety and he was forced to begin to pay a bunch of mana to attack. More enchantments clogged up the board, and I eventually found an Assemble to chump block and swarm him.
Sideboarding: +2 Witchbane Orb -1 Touch of the Eternal -1 Blind Obedience
I brought in Witchbane Orbs to prevent a potential transition from a beatdown deck to a burn deck, as I like to do myself with in similar situations. Game 2 started to go the same as the first, but I was a step too slow on answering threats, being on the draw. My life continued to dwindle as I was able to get a few things under Rings and Spheres, but I was occasionally had via Ranger’s Guile. I totally forgot that Deemie plays at least two in the sideboarding, and I’m pretty sure the number is three. Being unable to actually stop his attackers caused my life total to become non-existent. There’s not really much I can do to play around Ranger’s Guile with the list I brought with me.
Sideboarding: -1 Blind Obedience +1 Nevermore
Deemie kept what seemed to be a rather loose hand, and I was happy for it. His first play was a Kruin Striker, while I was able to play my lands tapped and accelerate with Farseek comfortably. His first Kruin Striker fell into Oblivion, and so did his first Huntmaster. I had a Sphere that kept him somewhat in check, but several more Huntmasters hit the table. Huntmaster doesn’t care if there is a Sphere to still do two damage to my face. I began to run out of answers, and was starting to flood. Somehow, I found a Revelation for a million to keep me in the game via my life total and cards. Deemie continued to flip Huntmasters back and forth through Moonmist and other shenanigans, but I found a second Sphere of Safety in my Revelation to prevent him from attacking me again. I also found another Revelation through my first to keep chaining life totals until I found an Assemble and killed him.
I knew Mark’s list pretty well, mostly because we make silly jokes about ridiculous cards to put into it while working together and I knew that landing an Assemble might be a problem. I wasn’t terribly afraid of that spell not resolving because I had Drownyards, and I wasn’t confident that he played the land in his deck. He tapped out for Nightveil Specter, which was Sphered, and the same for Olivia, which was also exiled. I didn’t have a Sphere of Safety for a while, and he countered two of my Revelations while doing nothing special himself. My third Revelation resolved after I made him tap out to counter my second one, and the game was over at that point. I had enough mana to land a Sphere of Safety and an Assemble in the following turn. I realize that I was drawing Assemble the Legions quite often, but I was also drawing at least half of my deck every single game.
Sidboarding: +3 Jace, Memory Adept +2 Curse of the Blood Tome -2 Terminus -1 Touch of the Eternal -2 Assemble the Legions
I knew that Assemble would be no good as a win condition in this matchup because Mark could never tap out after turn 5 and it would never resolve. Instead, I elected to try and get lucky with a Curse on turns where he tapped out to play a creature. The Curses never came at the exact moment, but that would have been magical Christmas land. Instead, I was able to answer his seldom creature and couldn’t care less about a Jace, Architect of Thought because I had a Sphere of Safety that he couldn’t attack through. A second Sphere ensured my true safety (Mark has to pay 26 to attack with one creature), and a large Revelation found me double Curse and double Drownyard to make quick work of Mark’s library.
To everyone that suffered through playing against me this week, thank you for your patience. You are all wonderful. This deck was sort of fun to pilot, and it sure did create an amusing story or two. Forcing an opponent to pay more lands than he had in his deck sure brought a smirk to my face, but I wouldn’t consider this deck competitive in the least. Friday Nights are for just this sort of thing, but I was a bit depressed that I couldn’t win my earlier matches to put myself in better standings for the night. There’s not much I would change, and I think Assemble the Legions might have been the best card in the deck. I really want this card to become broken soon, but I fear that it might just be one of those cute cards that makes certain decks extremely good in narrow situations.
Until next week, whether it’s the feature match or the kitchen table, have fun and keep brewing.