This article is probably going to be one of my shorter ones, not really because I don’t have the time or energy to do a longer write-up, but more because I don’t necessarily remember the full story. After all, it was 11 years ago that the story takes place. That’s right, this edition of BaBM will take you way back: to a time before AUtO, Thaddeus, and The Garden Tomb; before the Dominant Cap and Rescue Rule; and probably, for most of you reading this, a time before you even knew there was such a thing as Redemption.
The season that this deck had its journey was the summer and fall of 2004. I had been playing competitively for a couple of years, both online and in live tournaments. And even back then I had an affinity for decks that dared to be different. I was going to attend my first ever Nationals that year in New Orleans and I had been developing a deck throughout the season that had done well. I don’t remember how well, exactly, as like I said, it was a long time ago. But I do remember that it did well-enough to cause my brother Justin to put Chariots of the Sun in his deck for some fun games, if that gives you any idea.
As many of you have probably surmised, the deck utilized Glory of the Lord. Yes, even before the new Solomon’s Temple came out, and long before the promo Glory of the Lord was released, I was able to find a use for what has historically been the least-used dominant in the game (at least Doubt had its time in the sun when Teams was an unofficial category that gave it an add to battle ability). And let me tell you: it was awesome.
As with any of my articles, I try to give a brief background of the inspiration of my deck. Well, there is nothing in particular that I remember about what inspired it directly, but what I do know is that I wanted a deck that could counter everything. 2004 was the year after the Kings set was released, and there were a few dominant strategies that made their way into top decks. Probably the most powerful offense was the vaunted FBTN Banding deck.
In addition to that however, there were still site-lock decks, Raider’s Camp capture decks, and decks that relied on mass discards such as Haman’s Plot, Wrath of Satan, and Great Image. With such variety, it was difficult to come up with something that could compete with all of those, without necessarily being any one of them. But Glory of the Lord provided an answer. Back in those days, Blue Tassels and Priestly Crown were both considered to be ‘found in Solomon’s Temple’ so they were a part of the deck. So with those two, Holy of Holies, and Altar of Incense, I had an answer for pretty much anything my opponent would throw at me. This became the basis for my deck.
The execution of my strategy was pretty simple: I used a purple/blue offense, and I actually don’t remember much about the defense (I think it was Crimson? but not entirely sure). Anyway, Purple and Blue helped me in a variety of ways. First, King Josiah and Eli the Priest helped me get the Temple and Artifacts out. King Josiah was also a nice way to get rid of Chariots of the Sun, for those games when Justin tried it out to stop my deck. Second, back before Priests, the speediest cards in the game were the d3 Enhancements, and purple and blue had the best ones: Reach of Desperation, Prosperity, Book of Hozai and Book of Jashar (which has probably been used to copy Book of Hozai 98% of the time it has been used).
Lastly, purple had some powerful characters back then, like King David and Widow for pre-block ignore, as well as Claudia and Ethiopian Treasurer for some pre-block playing fun. But anyway, as I said, piloting the deck took two basic steps: determining what my opponent was playing and retrieving the Artifact that I needed to stop it ASAP. This is where my playing experience came in handy.
Whether you are a relatively new player, or a player who has been around awhile, you’ve probably noticed that Redemption has a lot of themes/deck styles that include standard cards that work together well. So early on, if I saw a Benaiah or Helez, I knew that my main priority was likely to get Holy of Holies. If I saw someone put down a couple Sites early, I would want to get Priestly Crown.
Another Hero that fit right into the deck, and helped me determine my opponent’s main strategy was Ahimaaz. I have always believed that looking at an opponent’s hand is one of the most powerful abilities in the game, and with this deck it was especially true. Once I had the knowledge of what type of deck my opponent was playing, I would get the Artifact that would most help me, and have Glory of the Lord protect it. And while you might wonder how much it affected me to have so many dead cards for most games (as the other Artifacts wouldn’t turn out to be as useful), it was a small price to pay.
Why you ask? Well, for example, I remember playing someone with a pure FBTN deck (not banding, but just relying on the big numbers and large rainbow enhancements like the old Armor of God to get through a defense). I was able to get setup with Glory and Holy of Holies in my temple pretty early. Since he was focused on numbers, hardly any of his enhancements had useful abilities, so the few dead cards in my deck was more than balanced by the large number of (relatively) useless cards in his. He of course did have a great counter for most decks that used Holy of Holies, that being Destruction of Nehushtan. But Glory of the Lord made it useless, and I went on to win handily.
The deck did well at Nationals, allowing me to place 3rd. Unfortunately, despite the name of the article, the deck didn’t end up countering everything. I can’t remember exactly the deck of the player who beat me in the early rounds, but one of the other popular strategies back then was Choose the Blocker (with Provisions and King Amaziah), which was part of the deck that ultimately won the tournament.
My loss may have been partially due to that, or it may have been that I didn’t draw what I needed, but in any case, it still won 5 games that Nationals (my other 2 wins and other 1 loss were with my alternate deck). Still, I was very happy the way things shook out, as that was my first ever National tournament. I was never able to get similar results at later tournaments, as the modifications I made to the deck the following year didn’t pan out.
Despite the fact that I could probably only recreate half of the deck in its original form (and the fact that doing so would leave me with an illegal deck, due to the dominant cap rule) I will never forget the way it was able to counter (almost) everything. It was one of my earliest ventures into “building a better mousetrap” and it had a lot to do with my growth as a deck-builder and a Redemption player. To this day, I always like to try to find the best use for underrated or underused cards, and much of that has to do with my successes during the Glory days of an under-appreciated dominant.
Next issue: Jeepers Creepers – How a Rules Clarification Helped Create a Dominant Defense
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