Sunday, November 28, 2021

Spice for the love of wombats: Combat Wombat

This is a post without a tournament report. It's just some ramblings about things that I like in oldschool magic. 

Those of you who have read all the tournament reports or have played me in real life know that there are some cards that I love but really are not that good. Or sometimes just plain bad. I love Hell's caretaker, for instance, and I'm also a big fan of Eureka with Elder Dragons. But this post is about something even worse than that, but I'm not letting go of the idea. It's about Rabid Wombat. 

A deck with Rabid Wombat is, like the decks I mentioned earlier with Hell's caretaker, something that goes back to the time of Chronicles. I've a single real Legens Wombat ever since I got one in a trade somewhere early 1995. I thought it would be fun to build a deck with it, but I never got around to it until Chronicles came out and I was able to get 3 more wombats for about nothing in value. Which, by the way, is precisely what they're worth if you look at how good they are. I built a deck with wombats, and it sucked very bad. I mean bigtime. Spirit link (a renaissance or 4th edition one at the time) was of course the enchantment of choice you would play with a wombat, but every time I got around to playing it on the wombat, my opponent would have something like a Sengir Vampire out. Or a thicket basilisk. Yes, really, people played with that card at the time. And the wombat would just suck because you would net a lot of cards just to get through and do something useful. And usually with 3 or more enchantments on it, it would just get terrored. After a while, I just gave up on the idea, but like many nostalgic deck ideas, it got back to me when I was playing oldschool.  

The deck has been part of some of my tournament reports, but always as a sidenote when I took the deck with me to tournaments and played with it between rounds. You may have seen action shots of me or Peter playing it in between rounds of the Uthden Troll Cup or The first IRL Scryings tournament. I also had it with me on several occasions of Knights of Thorn or Hill/Frost Giant tournaments. But, like I said, it was always as an afterthought and I love the deck so much I think it deserves it's own post. 

After I got a second and a third LG wombat I felt I could start building a new version of the wombat deck. The goal would not be a tier 1 of 2 or even 3 deck, but a deck that would not always lose like my Leviathan/Colossus of Sardia deck. Maybe I'll do a post on that useless creation (if you ever want to win) somewhere in the future. 

I started off with 4 wombats and then started trading for SL enchantments, starting off with spirit links of course. After a couple of games with the first version of the deck I realized my wombats were pretty much always destroyed the moment I tried to play an enchantment on them, so I added power sinks to tap out my opponent to make sure I could at least attack with an enchanted wombat at least once. The first version tried to utilize unstable mutation and berserks which I thought were fitting for the foaming at the mouth wombat. The deck would win on occasion, but that would be one in about 15 times or so against tier 2 decks. After an afternoon of playtesting, I put in the other card I had been thinking about giving a place in this deck: Verduran Enchantress. When I first thought of the OS deck with wombats I tried to remember what my old chronicles version looked like and I remembered I had 2 enchantresses in that version. I do like enchantresses, to give you an idea how much:

This is the number of Verduran Enchantresses I needed at any given time in the 1995-1998 era, because she would be in several decks in multiples, all the time. So much that most of my usual magic opponents were pretty much sick of her after I while, which is when I put her away for a while. Enchantress and Wombat do seem like a match made in heaven, and version 0.2 with Enchantress in there was much better. Then there was the trying out of what enchantments to use, how to get my opponent to tap out, etc. etc. At first I tried to play the deck as a combo deck, meaning I would try to get enchantress in play, than dump a wombat and a whole lot of enchantments in play (including instill energy) and then kill my opponent in one turn. That usually did not work. The enchantresses would get removed, or the wombat, or both. Or it would take more than one turn, and then unstable mutation was getting much worse quickly, even killing my wombats and occasional enchantress. After a while I started playing it more like a deck that would need several turns and be more careful and patient. Unstables went out for holy strength, I added flight after an encounter with moat and invisibility after several instances with regenerating nuisances like Trolls and Wisps. And then, to make sure my creatures would stay in play, spectral cloak. These are also great against other stuff that targets wombats to ruin my party, like mazes and icies. 

In the best scenario there will be at least 2 enchantments on the wombat, one being a spectral cloak. A 4/5 you cannot target is pretty ok. If it is 5/7 because the other enchantment is a holy strength, even better. 

The dream: invisible life-gaining untargetable wombat

I also tried other enchantments in the deck, like dance of many and fastbond, but those tend to go towards the combo idea, and the more patient version just seems more reliant. There was one logical choice after some more testing, and that was animate dead. Both the Wombat and Enchantress have this big bull's eye on them, because cards like that are never in a deck by coincidence. They usually have this "kill it now before it spreads" reaction from my opponents, so animate is a good addition to get one or the other back if you're not up against swords to plowshares. I also tried multiple versions of Sylvan Library, but I left one and took out the other in favor of more wombat enchantments. 

Wombat back from the dead after being bolted

After I already had 4 LG wombats, I got a nice signed version that is now happily in my deck. The wombats have made for some great wins, it's really funny when it works because you can just see how clunky it is, even when it works. 

here my opponent gives up after 2 attacks. I'm on 52 life :) Oh, and a big THANK YOU to the makers of Tolaria. You guys are doing a great job!

The deck still loses more than it wins, but there are some pretty good matchups. It seems to have a good chance against mono green and decks that rely only on bolts to get rid of creatures. Others are a lot harder to win, but hey, one does not play OS to win, but to play with the cards you love. And I certainly love this deck. Here it is, in all it's Swedish legal glory: 

What other deck could contain invisibility, flight and holy strength and still win every now and then? :)

Just in case you're wondering: the basic lands are in there, because blood moon kills me instantly otherwise :) I hope you like my ramblings about old cardboard, let me know if you do on I will be posting more on less competitive decks in the future.  Till next time!