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The Los with the Most


See the turtle of enormous girth

On his shell he holds the earth

His thought is slow, but always kind

He holds us all within his mind

On his back all vows are made

He sees the truth, but mayn't aid

He loves the land and loves the sea

And even loves a childe like me

Stephen King - The Dark Tower

When I first saw Kethis, the Hidden Hand spoiled, I knew it had potential but none of my ideas were particularly original. If we're being honest, that's not even the real lede here - I was sort of intimidated. I couldn't think of anything worthy of bothering to commit to paper about Kethis and by the time others were publishing good, original ideas I could be inspired by, the time to talk about that set had passed. I got away with it. As you can imagine, when I see cards like Kethis, I get a little twinge of guilt, like I got away with something fraudulent and any minute people will figure it out. That's silly, but that doesn't mean that getting another crack at Kethis wouldn't make me feel better. I think I am getting that chance today.

Archelos, Lagoon Mystic

Archelos, Lagoon Mystic is a card brimming with potential and I recognized that right away. However, I couldn't think of anything terribly original right away, either, and I started to feel like maybe this was another Kethis scenario. I wanted to avoid letting myself off the hook this time, and last week I think I got the inspiration I needed to really do something satisfying with "Kethilos" over here.

If you need to re-read last week's article to refresh your memory, that's cool, I'll do a bit where I pretend to wait.

You're back! Let's continue with the article, then!


Last week I got a chance to reaffirm my love for Squirrel Nest and Opposition in a shell where playing lots of Enchantments meant I got to draw lots of cards, hopefully more Enchantments. I thought Amareth was an excellent home for my shenanigans and it wasn't until I was 3/4 (heh, I just noticed this and I'm leaving it) of the way through the article that I realized that it wasn't Amareth that was perhaps the best home for such a package. I almost scrapped the article, but I am glad I didn't because I was very happy with how it turned out. I liked that deck an awful lot. It's fun and it's going to be a value machine. However, it occurred to me that a lot of those cards might serve Archelos even better, and I spent the whole week in eager anticipation, gratified that I had slain the Kethis demon that had been eating away at me.

What makes Archelos such an exciting card in the right deck is that he embodies something I like to do in 75% decks, which is Kismet their stuff. A Kismet effect can stop combos like Kiki-Jiki and Zealous Conscripts in its tracks without really being that harmful to more fair decks. It stops chains of mana rocks bringing each other into play, it can keep someone from generating a ton of tokens with haste and killing everyone and, in general, it embodies my aim in 75% deck-building to stop people from doing the thing their deck does but not stop them from doing anything at all. Not getting to win your way can border on frustrating sometimes, but I want to win the game. However, not getting to do anything at all is beyond frustrating and we're always striving to not make our opponents feel that way with a 75% deck. Kismet, or in this case, Frozen Aether effects in a deck like Archelos, can accomplish my goal of slowing the other players down without us being a stax deck.

Opposition is perfect for a deck like this because we, at the very minimum, want a way to tap Archelos at will. Having more creatures that can tap their stuff is gravy - if we can get enough of them, we can really make things difficult for opponents. Their blockers will come into play tapped and be re-tapped by me at will. I see players running a lot of vehicles to tap Archelos and I wasn't particularly inspired by stealing that bit of tech, preferring to try and put my existing Opposition tech into this deck. Opposition gives me a tap outlet for cards like King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, Pain Seer, and Fallowsage. Could we get into some Surgespanner hijinx? Did I count up how many Wizards I had and briefly consider Azami, Lady of Scrolls? I'll never tell! There are plenty of other ways to tap our creatures, and we'll need to play them because we can't rely on drawing Opposition, but if that's how we want the deck to trend, we have a good starting point to build a deck around.

Looking at Surgespanner gave me an idea for another card I have wanted to run for a long time but never had quite the right deck for - Dismiss into Dream. Opposition becomes much better when it's a Banishing Knack for creatures but it's perfectly fine if you're combining it with other targeting effects like Verity Circle or Thornbite Staff. I don't know how Thornbite Staff will work in this deck since it can untap Archelos a lot, but I'm willing to give it a shot. Bouncing their creatures isn't counter to 75% philosophy - we're not preventing them from playing creatures, merely preventing them from sticking. If you adopt a "don't attack me and I won't bounce your stuff" approach, you can actually control the flow of the game, making them attack each other and leave you mostly unbothered. Dismiss adds an element to the Opposition package that other decks were missing but which I feel benefits an Archelos build immensely.

Opposition is not much good without creatures and it's not going to be every game that you draw your Squirrel Nest. Luckily, Green has a lot of ways of making tokens and two big ones are Avenger of Zendikar and Scute Swarm and we'll be playing both to great effect. I plan to include the Sakura-Tribe Scout and Retreat to Coralhelm package in the deck because we can use bouncelands to much great effect in a deck like this one because Archelos can make them come into play untapped. That means I'm going DEEP - adding Coral Atoll, Everglades, and Jungle Basin. If you were wondering why they're sometimes called "Karoo lands," it is because of the original cycle of these lands from Visions. In addition to just being pretty solid lands when they come in untapped, the Ravnica bouncelands can bounce themselves, giving you a loop which can win the game with Scute Swarm or Avenger of Zendikar in play. Landfall is good and it's even better when it's abused. Add Retreat to Hagra to just kill the table, something I've never done in a landfall deck because I've never run a landfall deck with Black in it. A landfall subtheme can power the deck, adding some win conditions or supplying us with enough tokens to wreak some havoc on their board. Typically, I'd like to run Intruder Alarm and a few cards like Sprout Swarm or Imperious Perfect, but I think Intruder Alarm is bad in this deck and we'll have to find other ways to make tokens. Luckily, we just had a landfall set and Scute Swarm cannot wait to, well, swarm. As a final note, I'm toying with the idea of adding Scrib Nibblers to the deck as a kind of terrible Retreat to Hagra. I probably won't, but you should know I considered it. Someday I'll break the nibblers.

We're going to focus on ramp that would ordinarily put lands into play tapped, which will give us a big advantage, we're going to slow them way down by Kismeting their drops and we're going to have a few combos in the deck that can end the game. This deck will be tough but fair, like a good teacher or a bad steak. What is such a pile going to look like?

The 'Los with the Mos' | Commander | Jason Alt

Will this deck work? I think it will, and I think there are a few axes that you can develop the deck to your own liking, all of which will work.

If you want to go deeper into landfall, you could add Ghost Town, Drownyard Temple, and maybe a Strip Mine. We have all kinds of cards that enable landfall in the deck and if we changed our lands a little, we could really have some fun. A landfall payoff or two like Ob Nixilis, the Fallen or Rampaging Baloths could really reward you for pursuing this build. I think there is just enough landfall as it is, but I think landfall is the most perfect keyword ability ever and I won't begrudge anyone adding more, especially since Ob Nixilis is so brutal and so underplayed because Black is often left out of the landfall discussion unless you're Lord Windgrace.

There could be more payoffs for when you make a ton of mana. I have a lot of ways to go infinite with bouncelands that can power a big X spell. I am loath to include cards like Thrasios because that makes you a Thassa's Oracle deck, which I consciously avoided. I don't know if it's not 75% per se, but it bores me. Does it not bore you? Go ahead - this deck has great bones if you wanted to add Thrasios and Oracle. Not about that life? Try Helix Pinnacle instead. You could really ham it up - add Wilderness Reclamation or add mana dorks and Seedborn Muse to generate a ton of mana and get a Helix win. It's more fun than Oracle in my book, and the deck very much lends itself to that strategy. If you have a ton of mana, Words of Wind is fun with Thrasios and may be a fun alternative to Thassa's Oracle. Have some fun with it.

Not getting Opposition as often as you'd like? I don't like tutors personally, but there are so many cards you could go get that this deck could stand to include some. I have some Green tutors that get creatures like Green Sun's Zenith but a tutor for Opposition, Dismiss into Dream or Squirrel Nest could let you get your silly combos off more often and potentially shave some turns off of a game that's going long.

Finally, I had to cut Verity Circle but I think it's a good candidate for a deck like this and it should be played alongside Opposition. I think it's solid with Dismiss into Dream as well. Sometimes you have 101 cards. I'm positive there are some choices I made that people think are worse than Circle, so if that's you, jam it in already.

That does it for me, folks. What do we think? Is this the best place to park out Squirrel Nest package to date? Did you prefer last week's deck to this one? Should I have made room for Verity Circle or Ob Nixilis? How would you modify this pile? Let me know in the comments section and don't forget to share this on social media. Until next time!

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