This week in JANK (Or combos you may have missed)

BDC here. I’m not much of a netdecker. I do have a mono white life gain deck that has nearly gotten me to mythic that is your run of the mill for that color and gimmick. But that’s about as close as I get. For the most part, I’m always on the look for those odd card combos that nobody uses or has missed. Most time they’re passed over because they’re hard to get going or need too much set up. But, before I get into what I’ve been brewing this week, let’s look at the definition of JANK.

A lot of people feel I use this term in error. So, not being in Magic the Gathering long enough to call myself ‘old school’ or ‘In the Know’, I looked it up. And, as with anything, it has a lot to do with your perspective.

According to an official post by Wotc about terminolgy, JANK card are ‘Unplayable cards, or cards that are cheesy. It can also be used to simply mean bad.’

(SOURCE- https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/magic-jargon-2006-09-09#:~:text=Jank%20%2D%20Unplayable%20cards%2C%20or%20cards,LD%20%2D%20Abbreviation%20for%20Land%20Destruction.)

I was temped to leave it at that, but I dug a little deeper and I found a definition that caught my eye and explained, at least, what I look for and brew, for the most part.

” ‘Jank’ usually refers to convoluted combos, or “weird” tier 3-4 stuff. Stuff that is potentially game-winning, but requires a large amount of setup or is very easily disrupted even when it works.” source- twotwofortwo on Reddit

Now, this may be a little self serving, but this is definition I am going with although some of what brew in can be cheesy, unplayable to a point or, in some instances, can be construed as bad. BUT I try to look for at least 50/50 winning combos. I mean, no body wants to loose all the time. But, unless your brews just work right out of the shute everytime, you’re going to have to send that experimental bit of Jank out there to get pummeled a few times before you realize that it just isn’t going to work in the current meta or it’s actually going to fly.

The above is my motto; especially for MTG and doubly for Arena. In the mix of battle, you learn what actually works for real. You can THINK it will work or SHOULD work, but until you throw it out amongst the wolves, you won’t know. I know. This is a painful process, but it must be gone through. Arena, if it does anything, will test your ego with one session ending with pride and boast and another with curses and a shot to your self image. Remember. It’s just a game after all. But, when taking your shots, you mustn’t let it deter you from trying and brewing and trying again.

Ok, so , now that I’ve passed on that bit of encouragement, let me give you hope. Let’s look at the bits of jank and missed combos that I’ve been brewing. Mind you, just because it’s been done before, doesn’t make it new to me or you. So never pass an opportunity because someone tells you that it’s been tried and ‘can’t work’. They MAY be right, but you may discover a way to make it work. YOU have an extremely unique way of looking at things and, once you back off the meta a bit, you may see things that they cannot.

DO YOU EVEN READ YOUR CARDS?

Sometimes, we miss opportunity because we’ve accepted that everything that can be done with a card has been done. At times, going back and reading over a card can open your mind up to new possibilitys.

I ran into this recently with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling.

This card already has value as an indestructible god with all sorts of opportunity in a blue devotion deck. But there’s so much more to it.

Thassa, Deep Dwelling, also works well in a bounce or flicker deck with cards like Yorion, Sky Nomad, and Barrin, Tolarian Archmage.

IT also works great in the background to keep your opponent tapped down while you go to work on their life total.

But, once you actually read the card close, there’s a tiny bit of wording that can change the way you look at this card. Sure, we know Thassa can bounce creatures ‘you control’, but the final phrase says ‘then return THAT card to the battlefield under your control’. Some of you may be reading this going ‘SO?’. But once you introduce cards that steal your opponents creatures, things take a different turn.

Because, once you play cards like Claim the Firstborn, Traitorous Greed and Tentative Connection, the cards you take ‘belong’ to you till ‘end of turn’. The only problem is that before you send them back, Thassa will bounce them and they come back (like I repeated from the text) YOURS. Now, as I stated about JANK, this is easier said than done. But this is where reading one of the other cards we’ve talked about gave me a clue that helped me build a decent deck.

On first look, spending four to steal a card may be a bit costly. BUT Tentative Connection has the little caveat of costing three less if you control a creature with MENACE.

AND that’s what led to flushing out this deck full of JANK.

Even without this connection with…uh…Tentative Connection, Menace is a good addition to many decks. It just makes it hard for you opponent to block you. This is not only because of the obvious, but also because most decks just aren’t prepared for it. Not that there aren’t answers for menace. It’s just that pulling out one of those key phrases that aren’t part of the current meta makes many of your opponents give you what amounts to the hundred yard stare. They’re so engrossed in the top performing decks of the time so much that something out of the ordinary can catch them off guard.

JANK THE UNEXPECTED

Sometimes it’s the smallest ability that is usually glossed over seeing that it will take some construction to make work. I revisited Stormwild Capridor recently and, although I’m still working toward a stronger, more viable deck, I stumbled onto that bit of Jank I had noticed before, but hadn’t the time nor the fortitude to ride out the storm and make work.

Stormwild Capridor is a simple enough card whose text muddies the water for some. But the whole ‘prevent noncombat damage’ works on so many levels.

It WILL protect this carsd from Red Burn decks or any black card that do damage. BUT it will not save this ‘Bird Goat’ from outright death cards and exiles. So it protecting itself from most decks isn’t realistic. But, what say the damage was to come from some other source; say YOU!

That’s right. I built a BOROS deck that simply sets up these flying goats to take damage from my own cards. Because, not only is it protected from noncombat damage, it gets a +1/+1 counter for every bit of that type of damage you take.

There are a lot of ways to do damage to a creature, but none do it better than red. From the simplist little SHOCK, to the Zendikar Rising THUNDERING REBUKE to COreset 2021’s Terror of the peaks, you can find a myriad of ways to do it. In fact, there are probably better ways to do it than my Boros deck. The more I think about it, maybe working in green might be better.

Also add a couple of real trouble makers that either are either indestructible or also prevent damage and turn them into counters.

Here’s some ideas of cards in standard that will help you on your quest of intentional self harm.

Take this little bit of ‘Jank’ and do with it what you will. But, please, share your ideas in the comments or drop them on our social media. The Magic Tavern is a community and no bit of ‘jank’ belongs to one of us; it belongs to us all!

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