I have to say, Conspiracy: Take the Crown did not disappoint!
Not only have I built a new commander (I’ll be telling you about Grenzo, Havoc Raiser in a future article!), but drafting the set gave me a tale for the ages.
Join me, my friends. Sit back, and listen as I tell you the story of the Game That Had No Green Or Blue.
We begin, of course, with the draft that led to it.
Pack 1, pick 1—a foil Spy Kit. I regret nothing. Yes, there was a decent rare in the pack, and probably some better uncommons. I don’t care. Spy Kit is hilarious, and it works with all of the “Hidden Agenda” conspiracies that care about creatures. Win-win!
After that, I tried to stay in White and Black for much of Pack 1 (with the exception of an early Messenger Jays—assuming my opponents all vote “feather”, the Jays are a 5/4 flier for 5 mana that lets me draw a card and discard a card, which is really good in draft). I knew I was heading into a multiplayer game after this, and people are generally reluctant to attack in multiplayer, which means a control strategy is good to have. And White and Black had the best control cards in the set.
Unfortunately, I committed very publicly—about halfway through the pack, I had a Smuggler Captain and a Noble Banneret face-up in front of me, so my opponents knew I was in those colours. The Black and White cards dried up very quickly, and I was forced to pivot into other colours to get playable cards.
Which led me to Red. Hello, aggression, my old friend. I’ve come to draft your cards again.
I was able to pick up a Garbage Fire at 5, which was surprising—5 damage is very high for 3 mana. The second pack added a lot of White cards to the pool, which let me get multiple Custodi Peacekeepers, each of which could tap down creatures with as much as 7 power. I named the Peacekeepers with my Noble Banneret and Smuggler Captain, and turned them face-down.
The third pack gave me a very tough choice, but not for the reasons you might think—I opened Kami of the Crescent Moon and Spectral Grasp in the same pack.
Now, if you’ve played Commander with me at the store, you know how much I looooooove drawing all of my opponents cards. It was really tempting to pick Kami of the Crescent Moon and either stuff it into my Gwafa deck, or just grab more blue cards and hope to have something playable. Or both.
Spectral Grasp, meanwhile, is a great way of dealing with an opponent’s big beater. Unlike normal Pacifism effects, Spectral Grasp only stops a creature from affecting you, specifically. It’s a lot more political, which helps you stay under the radar. And it’s just a better card for my existing gameplan.
And I’m here to have the best Conspiracy game I can, and to try and win.
Spectral Grasp it is.
The rest of the third pack was unremarkable, except for a Garbage Fire I was able to pick up at 9. I ended up very solidly Red and White, with a splash of Black if I wanted it. Little did I know how prophetic that would be.
For the curious, here is the decklist I ended up running. My gameplan was to hang back and protect myself with Custodi Peacekeepers while my opponents fought it out, then use Garbage Fires to take out threats and pump up Kiln Fiends to swing for the win.
And it is here that we come to the focus of our tale. The Game With No Green Or Blue.
The players were as follows:
– Mono-Black Monarch
– Mardu Sinuous Vermin (“Mardu” is a slang term for the colour combination of White-Black-Red)
– Mardu Daretti
– … and myself, Red-White Control Featuring Foil Spy Kit.
Before we shuffled up, I had run around the store gathering up just enough Goblin tokens for the Hold the Perimeter I had drafted… only to see that the Mardu Sinuous Vermin player had drafted it as well! So two of us start with two 1/1 Goblin tokens that can’t block, and two of us start with a 1/1 Goblin token that can’t block and a 1/2 Soldier token that can’t attack. Hilarity!
The early turns involved a lot of drawing cards and staring at each other warily. Mardu Sinuous Vermin and Mardu Daretti played their namesake cards; Mono-Black Monarch ran out a couple of creatures to protect herself, and got the monarchy well into the midgame. Meanwhile, I had dropped my non-foil Spy Kit and a Goblin Racketeer, which promptly walked into a Death Wind. With no green player to ramp out of control, or blue player to counter all of our things, we were in a deadlock.
Turns 7-10 were where things got interesting.
I cast Besmirch to steal a Stromkirk Patrol from the Monarch player, in order to steal the monarchy from her with her own creature. The next turn, the Sinuous Vermin player asked me if I’d let him hit me with a Goblin token in order to take the monarchy, so he could draw into a burn spell to help deal with the Daretti across the table. So we cut a deal: in exchange for him revealing two cards in his hand to me (perfectly legal under tournament rules!), I’d let him hit me. He showed me a Murder and a Kill Shot—both perfectly good removal spells, neither of which could hit Daretti. I nodded, he swung, he Took the Crown.
The turn order passes to the Monarch player, who casts Marchesa’s Decree—should’ve known she’d have a way to steal the crown, no matter what!—and sits there quietly, holding back blockers.
It’s the Daretti player’s turn. He untaps with Grenzo’s Ruffians and equips them with a Hedron Matrix before attacking. They’re set to deal 9 damage to each of us if they connect.
It’s a good thing I had a… Garbage Fire of a draft, amirite?
While I could let the Sinuous Vermin player spend one of his removal spells, I felt like being the hero of the table for a little while. I cast Garbage Fire, dealing 9 damage to the Ruffians, and celebrations were had. This was, though, the first step of my undoing.
The turn comes to me. My second Besmirch steals a Pyretic Hunter, and I swing at the Daretti player with the Hound, a Kiln Fiend, and a Goblin token equipped with the Spy Kit. I’m expecting blockers, and I’m planning to reveal the Adriana’s Valor to save a creature or the Incendiary Dissent to push through lethal… but Daretti concedes, allowing my creatures to kill him.
And if you’re a seasoned drafter or Conspiracy player, you know what happened next—I had left myself open to attack, and the Sinuous Vermin player took advantage, using a removal spell I hadn’t seen on my Soldier token and swinging in for lethal damage. If I had let the Vermin player use his removal spells on the Ruffians, I could have used my Garbage Fire to take out one of the attacking creatures and saved myself.
But our tale is not over yet, oh no.
We’re down to the Sinuous Vermin player and the Monarch player. The Monarch player now has two Marchesa’s Decrees and the monarchy; the Vermin player has his Sinuous Vermin and one or two other creatures. Both players are at just 1 life.
The Vermin player can’t attack – he’ll lose to the Decrees. The Monarch player has nothing to attack with. There’s very little in either of these colours that can remove enchantments. It’s going to come down to who can draw a solution off of the top of their deck.
And after a few turns of tense draws, the Sinuous Vermin player casts Gang of Devils… and hits it with his own Murder, dealing 3 damage to the Monarch player and winning the game.
In true Conspiracy fashion, an epic game ended with an epic betrayal, and it was fantastic.
COME BY FOR THE YAM FEST, AND ALSO THE POKÉMON!
This Saturday, A Muse N Games is having a sidewalk sale as part of the St. James Village Biz Yam Fest! Come by for a games day all day, and bring a donation to Winnipeg Harvest. And if you want some deals, make sure you’re around between 11 AM and 4 PM, when the store will have a sidewalk sale with 20-40% off selected products! (FYI: the sidewalk sale is cash or credit only, and all sales will be final.)
As well, you’ll be able to meet Ben, who created the character Keet for the latest expansion of Red Dragon Inn! And of course, the Lures will be out, for all of your Pokémon needs.
Finally, make sure you tune in to this space in a couple of weeks—I’ll be talking about some of the new commanders that have come out recently, and getting excited for Kaladesh!
Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column on Magic!