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Ooze of the First Tree

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In this experiment, we grow ooze from the necrotic roots of the first tree.

My love of Necrotic Ooze is probably no secret. I’ve already written articles including that little guy here, here, and here. In this article, we’re going to be using its static ability to use a combination of activated abilities of creature cards in our graveyard. But that’s to be expected. Let’s take a look at one such creature.

Warden of the First Tree

Warden of the First Tree
This new Fate Reforged edition of Figure of Destiny has infinite potential in that its third ability can be activated multiple times for benefit each time. Since Warden of the First Tree gains counters rather than having its size set to something in particular, further activations will just make it bigger and bigger.

And that’s the kind of thing I like to see, as it means I can figure out a way to make it go infinite. Doing so is not always worth it, but if we can make it interesting, the process should at least be fun. The question is whether we can find a way to use the 5 +1/+1 counters gained from the third ability and turn them into 6 mana we can use to activate the ability again. Then, we just need to benefit somehow from repeated activations or adjust the cost and/or effect a bit to start generating value.

With Necrotic Ooze part of the plan, turning +1/+1 counters into mana becomes easy with Devoted Druid involved. With Warden of the First Tree and Devoted Druid in our graveyard, we can pay 6 mana to gain 5 counters on the Ooze and then trade away the 5 counters for 5 mana. (If a creature has a +1/+1 counter on it and a -1/-1 counter on it, both are removed.) Then, we can just pay 1 mana to repeat the process.

Ultimately, that leaves us in a 1-mana deficit each time we iterate, so there’s no good reason to engage in this process. If we add Hardened Scales, we break even, and with two copies of Hardened Scales, we can start generating infinite +1/+1 counters on Necrotic Ooze and infinite mana. With Primal Vigor, Doubling Season, or Corpsejack Menace, we’ll have plenty of surplus counters to work with.

Of course, that requires at least four cards, and we’ll have to “step up” our Necrotic Ooze, just as we would with a Warden of the First Tree. I like the combo, though, and I like sticking to the Abzan colors for now, so let’s add some consistency with other good interactions—and maybe even another combo altogether.

Update: I occasionally make errors regarding cards in my articles, but at least the combo usually works. As Keir pointed out in the comments, however, Devoted Druid only makes g. That means we'll need to add a card like Orochi Leafcaller or Initiates of the Ebon Hand—to either the battlefield or graveyard—in order to actually follow through for infinite.

Backup

Tireless Tribe
Slitherhead This guy has the Ornithopter appeal: He lets you do something for 0 mana. The downside, of course, is that it still costs a card and has relatively little impact. The use in our deck may not be enough, but perhaps he’ll be worthwhile for his use to kick-start our combo with 1 (or 2 or more with Hardened Scales, etc.) +1/+1 counters, which we should be able to convert into mana.

Tireless Tribe At first, I was going to play Wild Mongrel here. The Hound is the stronger card—and just a historically strong card in general. With it, we can discard a creature card with an activated ability, thus powering up Necrotic Ooze. With Wild Mongrel in the graveyard, we can discard cards to Necrotic Ooze to pump it up, thus protecting it. Pumping it also allows us to turn our cards into mana if we have Devoted Druid’s superpower, so we gain even more speed with our combo. But then I realized Tireless Tribe does those same things, but rather than turn one card into 1 mana, it turns one card into 4 mana. Just remember that the toughness boost dissipates at the end of the turn, while the -1/-1 counters don’t, so you definitely want to try to go infinite in order to remove those -1/-1 counters by adding +1/+1 counters.

Skinshifter I just like this guy. He’s solid as a beater and as a blocker, and he transfers all his shapeshifting powers to the Ooze upon death. In a pinch, we can pay g to make our Ooze a 0/8 Plant, giving it 5 more toughness to work with when taking on -1/-1 counters for mana.

Varolz, the Scar-Striped This legendary Golgari Troll offers a valuable protection activated ability through regeneration, and it also gives us an outlet to take our own creatures off the battlefield when we’d rather have them in our graveyard (Slitherhead, Warden of the First Tree, Skinshifter, Tireless Tribe). I think the scavenge option could be fun and exciting, especially if we have a Corpsejack Menace.

Corpsejack Menace
Hardened Scales and Corpsejack Menace We don’t have counters other than +1/+1, so the upside of Doubling Season isn’t huge when compared to a 4/4 (though being resistant to creature removal is nice). Hardened Scales requires more effort to work, but it only costs 1 mana, which seems huge.

Darkblast We want more creatures in our graveyard, so dredging a bit should be useful. This is our only piece of removal as well, and while it isn’t big, at least it’s reusable. Also, this is another out to ensure our 1-toughness creatures go to the graveyard when we want them to.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang Tasigur is another way to fill our graveyard, and his delve also empties it for the purposes of his own ability. He can let us rebuy important cards we need, such as Corpsejack Menace and Necrotic Ooze, and his card-returning power also happens to be an activated ability, meaning our Ooze can imitate it if Tasigur bites the dust.

Transmutation Once I realized I was including Tireless Tribe, I couldn’t resist playing the classic combo that’s been around since Odyssey. You see, cards such as About Face, Inside Out, and Twisted Image allow us to switch our Tribe’s power and toughness. If we, say, cast Tireless Tribe on turn one and switch its power and toughness on turn two, we can discard four cards to its ability, making it a 21/1 to attack for lethal on turn two. Sticking to Abzan colors, however, I can’t run any of those three listed cards, but fortunately, pre-modern-color-pie times mean we have cards like Transmutation in print from the distant past. This isn’t what the deck’s all about, but including one seems fun.

Sultai

So I tried pretty hard to stick to Abzan colors for my deck above. But there are a few Sultai alternatives that would mean ignoring the white half of the hybrid mana on Warden of the First Tree—and we’d also have to cut the Tireless Tribe combo.

Mistform Stalker
Psychatog Without white, we’d probably play Wild Mongrel instead of Tireless Tribe, but Psychatog is even stronger, and it even works well with Tasigur.

Mistform Stalker We have to jump through a few hoops before Necrotic Ooze can activate Warden of the First Tree’s third ability, but with Mistform Stalker, the hoops become much fewer—we can just pay 1 to make the Ooze into a Spirit, thus fulfilling the requirement. There are multiple Mistform creatures from Onslaught from which to choose, but Mistform Stalker is the cheapest, and it even offers us the option to fly.

Aquamoeba This is another discard outlet in the vein of Tireless Tribe, Wild Mongrel, and Psychatog. It doesn’t offer much upside over any of them, but in the case that you want to build a deck with Necrotic Ooze, Tireless Tribe, and Aquamoeba, this watery Beast can make the power-and-toughness-switching repeatable, and it alleviates the need for cards like Transmutation and Twisted Image.

Training Grounds Super-astute combo aficionados have probably been yelling at me since the beginning of this article that the deck should just play Training Grounds. We can forego Hardened Scales and the like, as it lets us pay only 4 mana for 5 counters, greatly improving our yield and letting us go infinite with Devoted Druid immediately. It’s still a four-card combo, but Training Grounds can potentially synergize with other Necrotic Ooze activations as well.




So, if you love +1/+1 counters, if you love activating powers of your dead creatures, or if you just want to go for a turn-two Transmutation win, give this deck a try.

Andrew Wilson

@Silent7Seven

fissionessence at hotmail dot com


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