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Laboratory Leveler

I get the feeling Tooth and Nail was met with a resounding “okay, whatever” by many Spike-minded players when it was first revealed in Mirrodin. Thankfully, some enterprising and innovative deckbuilders created the Twelvepost deck, and showcased just how possible it was to do amazing things, and even win a fair amount of money, with some of the most Timmy-centric cards in the format (Tooth and Nail, Darksteel Colossus, Platinum Angel, etc.). Having been out of Extended for several years, Tooth and Nail hasn’t had much of an opportunity to poke its head up and accomplish anything impressive, but in the new Modern format, it’s now easier than ever to assemble a set of lands worth approximately thirty thousand mana and proceed to do whatever you want.

That, of course, begs the question: “Well, what do you want to do?” I’d like to win the game of course, maybe even with creatures, and especially with creatures that will make my opponent say “Wait, what?” Tooth and Nail is the perfect card for getting fantastic creatures, and the most fantastically what-inducing creature was just previewed in one of Noel de Cordova’s From the Lab columns, the appropriately named Laboratory Maniac.

Laboratory Maniac - Throw the blasted switch!

The rules text here is immediately and seductively dangerous, and the art goes even further to make this perfectly clear: whatever ends up happening once he flips that switch, you’re guaranteed that someone is going to die horribly. So what do I need to make sure that someone isn’t me? I need a Maniac, an empty library, and most likely a ton of mana to make it all work. Here’s the most current version of what I came up with, as of the final draft of this write-up:


Land (25)
4x Breeding Pool
4x Cloudpost
3x Forest
4x Glimmerpost
2x Island
4x Misty Rainforest
4x Vesuva

Creature (8)
2x Laboratory Maniac
2x Leveler
4x Street Wraith

Non-Creature (27)
4x Edge of Autumn
4x Explore
4x Pact of Negation
3x Ponder
4x Preordain
4x Reap and Sow
4x Tooth and Nail


Mana Base
Starting with 12 actual Posts among the land (Vesuva will only be a non-post land in emergencies and other very special cases) will go a long way to guarantee that I’ll have enough mana to cast an entwined Tooth and Nail without having to wait very long for it. The rest of the lands are really just a glob of the best cards available, balanced to agree with the overall color weight of the spells. Playing 25 land cards helps Explore hit more often, and the extra mass is offset slightly by the inclusion of Misty Rainforest. The Rainforests are also included for the way they work with Ponder, allowing me to shuffle up if I don’t want all three of the cards.


Win Condition
Mentioning Laboratory Maniac and Tooth and Nail in the same document should make it obvious who the other piece of the puzzle is: Leveler. I’m pretty sure it’s every Laboratory Maniac’s dream, even if he isn’t aware of it, to invent something just as strange and blatantly combo-dependent as this weird thing.

Laboratory Love with Laboratory Maniac and Leveler - One day, my love. One day...

Once they’re together, I’d rather not have to wait too long before I’m able to attempt to draw a card and lose win, so I’ve included Edge of Autumn and Street Wraith as instant-speed, no-mana ways to draw a card right now. The reason I put two each of Maniac and Leveler in the deck is because I have a strong suspicion Hide // Seek will become popular for ruining peoples’ days in Modern, and I want to have some built-in defense against it. If that doesn’t happen, then the space can be freed up for other stuff.


Getting There
Explore is one of the best little commons available for going nuts with mana acceleration, and is especially crazy when paired with the particular way the Posts make each other grow. Reap and Sow is the classic go-to card for making Posts, but I decided to forgo its buddy Sylvan Scrying, as the sheer mass of Posts in the deck will make them come up appropriately often (and I’m not dipping into the Urzatron). Edge of Autumn fills a great role in the early game to help speed me along, in addition to the late game applications mentioned above. I rely on Ponder and Preordain to do the hard searching work, because they’re very strong in and of themselves, and they’re also a way to draw a card for only one mana. Pact of Negation is the mana-free way to stop my master plan from getting foiled, and I think Laboratory Maniac would approve of the inherent riskiness and all-in stylings of the effect.


Other Possibilities
This deck is still very rough, and has already been through multiple significant changes since I first wrote it down. There are still several things I have scratched in the margins for deeper thought and contemplation. Leyline of Anticipation would simply allow me to perform the combo during my upkeep, or even in response to a Ponder/Preordain when my opponent is tapped out. I would have to pay mana for Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, but he gives me a similar effect, and also messes the opponent up a bit more. Only having the Pacts to defend the combo probably isn’t enough. If I can find the room for them, I might benefit from adding a small handful of Spell Pierce or something similar. If Jace, the Mind Sculptor ever gets unbanned in Modern, he’s a natural inclusion for this deck (a deck with blue cards that wants to find specific ones and defend itself), but I don’t know if I’d have the money or interest to actually add him in. For casual play, the deck can be slowed down and have its consistency increased, with cards like Merfolk Looter, Bonded Fetch, or any other of the millions of draw and discard effects that have been printed over the years. I have no clue about sideboards for competitive play, as I’m not at all familiar with the direction Modern will probably be taking over the next year or so.

So there you have it. Inspired by one of the strangest cards in recent memory, I’m pretty proud of how this deck turned out. I doubt I’ll ever get around to building a physical copy, so I hope this sketch of the idea is able to inspire someone else to go out and have a hilariously winning time with it. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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  1. Dylan
    September 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I like it. Leveler and Laboratory Maniac is just plain awesome. I agree that you probably need more protection for your combo, and would suggest a Turn Aside or two along with the pacts.

    On a side note, I love all the milling Innistrad is seeing; it seems like it actually might be a viable win condition now.

    • TapThisKillThat
      September 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      It would be awsome if they would reprint mind funeral in this set 🙂 🙂

  2. TapThisKillThat
    September 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    How about a couple fabricates to search for that leveler????ehh ehhh?

    • TapThisKillThat
      September 14, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Oh and another think……I LOVE ZOMBIES!!!!!!!!!!!BRAINS!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Ben Ahrendt
    September 15, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Mike, just wanted to let you know you earned my local shop $100. I referred the owner to this article and he raised the price of Levelers to $5. Some guy came in and bought all 20. We here in Oberlin salute you for being awesome. Also the article was well written and I quite enjoyed the picture and the content.

    • TapThisKillThat
      September 16, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      In that case, Mike you need to hook me up and write an article about……hmmmm (thinking of the cards i own….)Grand Architect combo deck 🙂

    • Mike
      September 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      That’s fantastic. I’m glad I was able to help support a local game store.

      Thanks for the compliments on the writing, but Chewie is the one who made the special image. I was also very impressed.

  4. Mike
    September 20, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Well, it looks like this version of the deck is banned now. Maybe it’s time for the Urzatron after all. That means I might also want to take another look at Sylvan Scrying.

    • September 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Get’em Mike! Don’t let the MAN keep you DOWN!

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