sidetracked by "the tolarian"

by wickeddarkman on 21 September 2022

Main Deck (60 cards)

Sideboard (0 cards)

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The owner of this deck hasn't added a sideboard, they probably should...

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Deck Description

If you haven't noticed it, all my decks are "halfdeck" designs. Long before jumpstart I was working at combining two 30 card decks into one. My longterm goal is to use commoncards to defeat modern, so my focus is not always on the pauper world, but because of the harsher meta I do have to pick some pretty versatile cards. It's also a slow project as I let evolution design my builds for me.

My usual warning...
I'm assuming here, that you've seen the signs.
Everytime you post a good deck, 20 other people seem to post something lame.
It's always the same lame decks that for some reason you rarely see at your local store, except in the hands of a newbie.

The same decks over and over, and with some odd card choices in between, that sometimes seem to jump from deck to deck despite the fact that you know that they are crap cards. And somehow, they are just everywhere.

It's simple, really.
Such cards are the visitcards of a spammer.

A spammer uses modern technology to overwhelm the meta with bad decks, decks which he knows he can defeat with his own deck, so if people play them he simply wins more.

The dci event reporter is not exactly safe from this. Anyone can create a tournament, and anyone with patience can build up a fake tournament filled with spam decks.

How do you fight such a monstrous thing ?

You distrust new decklists and play test against anything new with something old and tried. Only by test playing can you develope a feeling for a deck. If you find a flaw in the deck, you can bet that someone is out there, playing the decktype that demolished the new deck.

Sometimes, deckspammers just spam decks to scare certain decks away. If you play reanimator and every list on the planet seems to contain leyline of the void, then you need to visit your local gamestore as a spectator. See what's played and if you see a fellow reanimater follow them the see what the opponents play.

Saffron olive briefly covered the topic in 2017 with a few examples in his brilliant article: "Wizard's data madness"

During 2018 deckspamming trended and has been growing in proportion since then.

How to Play


I've already got my hands full at evolving 30 other halfdecks, but sometimes some unexpected stuff comes along, like investigating a few cards to see if they are of any use.

Tolarian terror is a card I might start adding to my project, but before I start feeding evolution with anything specific, I need some context, so I made a fucking fast turbo-evolved halfdeck containing it.

The first obstacle to overcome was to find an "inner balance" for this half, because in order to work, tolarian terror either needs enough lands or enough instants and sorceries in the graveyard.

So as usual, I set the initial goal of trying to beat merfolk with this half, and I needed another halfdeck to couple with to build it up. I chose a slow one with few spells so that "the tolarian" would evolve the right number of spells to cast serpents fast.

The half I chose also had few defences so that "the tolarian" would evolve that too.

I worked with a large number of spells that could somehow fill the grave fast enough without disrupting the concept.

Tolarian winds and thought scour were among the initial cards tested, and while they fill the graveyard nicely, they also disrupts the gameplan whenever they throw a tolarian terror in the graveyard. I think that's why evolution got rid of them.

What made the cut in the graveyard filling department, was otherworldly gaze.
It can basically throw 5 cards in the graveyard if you play and flashback it, allowing for a turn 3 terror.

Counterspells also became part of the graveyard filling, as did 6 defensive spells of a very mixed nature.

Looter il-Kor also joined, as a value engine and small aggression.

Overall I'm pretty pleased by the design, so I'm storing it as a backup halfdeck for the future.

Foil isn't modern legal, but I'll fix that if it ever becomes relevant.

The point was to develop a feel for tolarian terror, and I must say I'm pretty pleased with it. I did fear that ward 2 wouldn't be enough of a defence, but it worked out fine.

What surprised me most about the theme was that only three terror made it into the deck. I had serpentine coils involved in the project as well, and had a neat trick of exploiting that snapback is exiling a card and so boosts the serpentine coils token by 2. I suspect this is why many builds have foil and snapback in them, but evolution only cared about 2 foil and ditched snapback despite the fact that the card has scored high in some of my other halfdecks.

Overall the thing that surprised me even more than all of the above, was the fact that otherworldly gaze made force spike playable. I've tried many times to make force spike work in builds, and it has always failed, because of a certain pattern.

Counterspells hold up your mana, with the offer of countering a key card, but at the cost of not developing a board presence. Otherworldly gaze managed to disrupt that pattern by being an instant that somehow built up board presence through tolarian terror. That means that it might be worth taking a look at older dimir decks from modern and see if force spike and otherworldly gaze might work well together there as well.

Deck Tags

  • Modern
  • Pauper
  • evolution

Deck at a Glance

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Mana Curve

Mana Symbol Occurrence


Card Legality

  • Not Legal in Standard
  • Not Legal in Modern
  • Legal in Vintage
  • Legal in Legacy

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