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March Madness Decks


Hello folks!

I hope you are having a good day today.

I am from southern West Virginia. A state that, in many ways, was treated as America's colony. Gifted with countless natural resources and beauty, but people came in, extracted much of her wealth without investing it in West Virginia, and then left the state forgotten and denuded of its wealth. Central Appalachia is one of the most impoverished regions in America. There are areas without running water or electricity, as well as no cell phone coverage. It's been neglected by most of America after being taken advantage of.

So, you can imagine our pride in West Virginia University. I love my Mountaineers. To have a top-flight institution of higher education in a state and region with the history of neglect (and thus self-sufficiency that resulted) is amazing. It's my team. Many of my fondest memories are watching WVU games. I have a connection with the institution that goes beyond it being merely my alma mater. It's my people. It's who I be.

Given that, it's pretty easy to see how important athletics at WVU is. And the resurgent basketball and football teams of the past 15 years have really helped to put a smile on all of our collective faces. WVU is one of the great underdogs in college sports (other than marksmanship and riflery, where we are arguably the best team annually). We have some homegrown WV players who went to WVU and made it to the Hall of Fame in their sports, like Sam Huff for the NFL or Jerry West for the NBA.

Because of our underdog status, we often have to change up our styles to come at big name teams from a different angle. The basketball era under head coach John Belein emphasized the three-point so much that we even had a center, Kevin Pittsnogle, who could lean back and three-it-up. We've had the same full court press all game long approach under current head coach Bob Huggins. We've had to be clever, and we love it.

Given that underdog nature, and that connection the institution has with everyone locally, you can imagine just how important March Madness is in my house and with my people. This is our chance to show everyone. This is our chance for greatness. This is our chance to shine once more. Let's go! Mountaineers!

March Madness is a major event in sporting life, when college sports take center stage in a way even the bowl season for football doesn't. It's a ritual for college basketball.

My Mountaineers are currently a Top 20 team and we are getting close to the final dance! Once again, hope rises.

And it's not just my story with WVU! Everyone out there has an underdog or a connection to their alma mater. Every team has a journey. Every institution a story. Everyone wants to have that final moment when their team can come out on top. Their time to shine.

Their moment.

With that cultural touchstone here, it's time to have some Magic fun times that represent the March Madness of our age.

So let's do that! Madness awaits!

Today I have built three madness-infused decks for you, using the mechanic that debuted way back in Torment. We'll take a look at some cards that work really well with madness, and even feature one of my favorite cards of all time in a starring role in my final build.

Tomorrow, I want to continue that theme by looking at the Top Ten Madness Cards of All Time! There are a lot of great cards, and yet, like any mechanic that's seen new entries from 2002 to 2016, some are better than others. Which ones are top? Check it out tomorrow!

March Madness awaits!

Let's kick things off with this fun number. The goal of this deck is to use prototypical counters and burn and other control elements in Red and Blue to help keep a clear board that you can swing into. Between burn and countermagic, you should be able to handle most threats. Burn kills dorks and planeswalkers with impunity. Anything you encounter that's too big to burn you can counter or steal with Welcome to the Fold. With countermagic engaged, you can handle artifacts, enchantments, and pretty much anything not a land.

Where this deck shines is with the usage of madness. None of the madness cards here are bad in a vacuum. Broken Concentration is still a Cancel that doesn't have to be madnessed. Violent Eruption is still a four mana four-damage burn spell with maximum flexibility. But we also have some cool ways to discard cards in here to make some free effects.

Enclave Cryptologist

The obvious ones are ones from the first introduction of madness -- Aquamoeba and Compulsion, both early drops of quality here. If you have the mana, then Compulsion is ideal. I also tossed in the 1-drop Cryptologist and 3-, 4-, and 5-drops as well to accelerate your mana. I wanted a traditional mana curve, so I only have a pair each of Marauding Looter and Spellbound Dragon. I also have Stromkirk Occultist and Reckless Wurm, either as 3- or 5-drops respectively, or two and three, based on madness.

Marauding Looter
Spellbound Dragon

The result is a deck that answers lots of threats, has threats of its own, can abuse madness, and should draw a lot of cards. It's a powerful deck for the kitchen table, given the value of the cards and how they work together wonderfully.

But this is not my favorite control deck in madness, particularly in multiplayer. How about we swap Blue for Black?

Take a look at . . . 

This deck is brought to you by the awesome of Bloodhall Priest.

Bloodhall Priest

Bloodhall Priest is one of the most significant madness powerhouses printed in its block. It's only limited by the hellbent clause that prevents anything from happening until you have no cards in hand. That limits its power, unless you can tap into it, so I added it here as a build-around stronghold of power, speed, and board presence. This Cleric Vampire has a lot to offer.

I wanted to push into a little more discarding, in order to have more options to drop the hand, so cards like Lim-Dul's Paladin and Masticore made the cut. Each is a place to send a card each upkeep, and each can have a big impact on the board, with your Masticore adding to the range of your burn by killing bigger stuff or just increasing the number of targets you can take out. You can also see cards like Gibbering Descent or the buyback of Demonic Collusion here as well.

Lim-Dl's Paladin

How about Curse of Chaos? In a duel, you can curse your foe, and then always discard/draw when you swing, and net madness casts while drawing cards. The fact that your mass card-discard/draw comes in without spending any mana, it frees you up to devastate with madness cards.

I cannot wait to attack with Gorgon Recluse or something, activate Curse of Chaos, discard Avacyn's Judgment, put all of my mana into it to destroy all of the blocking dorks out there, and draw a card to replace the Judgment!

Madness is so awesome!

Curse of Chaos

I just adore the synergy of madness decks. A deck like this one works best when all of the various pieces hum like perfect machinery.

But you know what? What if we carved off a color and created an even more synergetic deck? I know!

By far, this next deck is my favorite deck of the three . . . 

How about Mono-Black Madness?

In a deck where every single creature has madness, Tortured Existence is King. It's an engine of card advantage and recursive dorks ad nauseum.

Tortured Existence
Grave Scrabbler

Spend a Black mana. Discard a creature card from your hand. Activate madness. Then cast the discarded dork with madness and it arrives to the battlefield ready to rock. Oh, and you Raise Dead that creature from your graveyard as well! That means you spent one mana plus the madness cost of the creature in your hand to cast it and to get a free body back to your hand as well!

And if you madness/discard Grave Scrabbler? And then cast Grave Scrabbler and get the madness enters-the-battlefield trigger? Wow! Your creatures are going to be immune to dying and allergic to the graveyard.

Now don't forget that you have an 8 set of removal dorks. Big Game Hunter and Nightshade Assassin kill on arrival and will love to get cast and recast with recursion. Gorgon Recluse? Voldaren Pariah? Lots of fun!

I also tossed in the broken Liliana of the Veil. Did I make everyone discard a card including myself? Sorry about that! Free madness triggers while you push the table around? Sign me up!

I have extolled the virtues of Tortured Existence for a long time. I have called it the most powerful common ever printed for the casual game. I have named it one of the most criminally underplayed cards ever printed.

Well, here it is again. Don't ignore this Survival of the Fittest for the graveyard!

And there we go! Thanks for reading, and I hope you found a few ideas to spark your maddening deck-building.

I hope you enjoyed our little trek through all things madness! Next up? Tomorrow's Top Ten!

P.S. - Oh, and "Let's Go! Mountaineers!"

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