Fauna Shaman evokes a response at Amsterdam

With the sudden departure of my favorite card from the Extended format and the release of M11, I’ve had my eye on the possibilities for Fauna Shaman going forward into the new Extended. This isn’t just a random look forward, but is also a consequence of my wishing for more functional creatures to fuel the deck I’ll be presenting in this week’s In Development (which you can look for this Wednesday evening). Specifically, Fauna Shaman seems like a perfect fit with the elementals from the Lorwyn-Shadowmoor superblock.
Turns out, Terry Soh had an idea very much along those lines, and ran it to tenth place at PT Amsterdam 2010.
Click through to the extended entry for Terry’s list and some remarks.

Fauna Revenge (by Terry Soh)

32 Creatures:
Birds of Paradise
Bloodbraid Elf
Bloom Tender
Demigod of Revenge
Fauna Shaman
Figure of Destiny
Fulminator Mage
Goblin Ruinblaster
Lodestone Golem
4 Spells:
Punishing Fire
24 Land:
Fire-Lit Thicket
Grove of the Burnwillows
Karplusan Forest
Raging Ravine
15 Sideboard:
Faerie Macabre
Fulminator Mage
Goblin Ruinblaster
Kitchen Finks
Lodestone Golem
Relic of Progenitus

Now, this isn’t the specific direction my mind went when I did some idle pondering of the concept…but it’s pretty good stuff, isn’t it?
Before I discuss anything else, here’s how Terry fared in the Constructed rounds:
1 – Beat Christian Bakkehaug
2 – Beat Matt Mar
3 – Beat Davide Brambilla (Kithkin)
4 – Lost against Matt Sperling (White Weenie)
5 – Beat Pier Paolo Rascato
12 – Lost against Jan Ruess (Pyromancer Ascension)
13 – Beat Sam Black
14 – Beat Hugh Rayner
15 – Beat Shi Tian Lee
16 – Beat Conley Woods (Bant)
If there’s no archetype listed, then I didn’t see their list in the Top Extended Decks list from the event.
Now, back to the deck.
Eight Vengevines!
It looks like Terry did the kind of thing I’d do if I were going to use Fauna Shaman in Extended – hit up Gatherer with some searches for creatures with abilities and creatures that do cool stuff in or from the graveyard. This led him to load up his deck with not just Vengevines, but a full quartet of Demigod of Revenge.
There are two big advantages to having those Demigods in the deck:
First, that’s more pitch-fuel for Fauna Shaman, without having to pitch a creature you might actually want to use later. In your opening hand of seven, you have about a two-thirds chance of having one or more of Demigod or Vengevine, ready to be tossed to tutor something up.
Second, it enhances the “kill now” explosiveness of the deck. Now, you not only have the “Vengevine, Bloodbraid, profit” route to a win, you also have the “Demigod, Demigod, Demigod” path.
This is inevitability, but done in fast forward.
Tutoring targets
Terry has a splash of other tutor targets in his main deck.
The Fulminator Mages are pretty sweet, especially considering the presence of a number of Mystical Teachings decks and Murmuring Bosks.
In the same vein, we have Goblin Ruinblaster, which is a little slower but gets to stick around.
Then there’s Spitebellows, an excellent piece of creature removal you may recall from Lorwyn block play.
Finally, we have Lodestone Golem, ready to put those same decks – and combo decks such as Ad Nauseam Grace – back that critical turn, giving Terry enough time to coax forth a wave of Vengevines or Demigods for the kill.
Over in the sideboard, we have additional copies of Fulminator Mage and Goblin Ruinblaster, bringing the land hate up to a whopping six cards. There are also a couple Kitchen Finks, some extra Spitebellows, and most exciting of all, a single copy of Faerie Macabre.
Thinking of flash
That last card option is something I was trying to get going in this week’s In Development deck – although it didn’t happen due to a paucity of relevant cards.
Creatures that can do something at Instant speed really add a fascinating dimension to Fauna Shaman, turning her from a powerful engine card into, potentially, a ridiculous engine card.
Losing Time Spiral block obviously hacks out a certain amount of flash creatures, but we’re nonetheless left with some fascinating options even if Scars doesn’t deliver anything new in this department. For example, we have:
All those Faeries
One could imagine a U/G/x Faeries deck that would be willing to tap two mana down for a Fauna Shaman in exchange for the ability to tutor up:
…a counterspell
…an instant-speed Thoughtseize
…a Mana Short
…a mini-Falter
…a brutal combat trick
…a tutor for your Bitterblossoms
…or a finisher
Neat, right? Or scary. The ability to use Fauna Shaman to effectively tutor up a Bitterblossom is pretty gross.
A Great Old One
The other big flash-based option we’ll have in future Extended hopes to counteract this threat, by summoning Cthulhu.
Flash creatures, of course, are just the start of things, as Extended features a host of creatures with useful abilities, and Scars promises to simply bring more.
I definitely see myself playing something that features the full eight-pack of Fauna Shaman and Vengevine, as it’s both powerful and pleasing, and even the newly culled Extended features enough solid creatures to make it a workable idea.

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