Icy Manipulator. Its versatility was never doubted. But nonetheless, I always thought that it was somewhat underwhelming in Old school 93/94. Well it turns out that you just need a critical mass of them:
Leaping away from my previous explorations, Icy Manipulator was new tech in Beast Island for the Tundra Wolves Challenge 4, held in march of 2021. Well, I’ll let results speak for themselves: we went 6-0 in rounds (and 12-0, undefeated in games) in a 50 players field, beating UR Counterburn twice, UWR Sheherazad, RGb Aggro-Apes, some Blood Moon Control and GB Land destruction decks in the process.
Rocking multiple, accelerated Icy Manipulators proved very useful in slowing our opponent down while we’re drawing all the cards, substantialy contributing to bringing our ressource-denial game over the top while buying us time to set up and assemble our deadly combo. But Manipulators also happen to be useful to our midrange plan B, locking down bigger threats and giving way for our Factories, Beasts and Sages to come stomping in when the corner ought to be turned.
I believe that it accentuated the versatility of the deck so much that it is now, pretty much it’s bigger strenght: it can play a prison game, it can brawl into a midrange game, and it also has a solid combo game. So, given some proper piloting, there are now very few situations where there really is no way out. These multiple angles of attack are what allows us to break free of previously thought unsurmountable hate cards — winning through the inevitable postboard Energy Flux, City in a Bottle and Blood Moon has proven not only feasible, but there are now clear lines allowing us to, and we did. More on this in an upcoming primer, maybe?
After working on the deck for over two years, this design really made me feel as if it had taken flight, at last. For the sake of experimenting, since Tundra Wolves Challenge 4 I have phased out some prison/combo elements (Candelabra of Tawnos and Winter Orb as well as their enabler Transmute Artifact) to further streamline the versatility aspect of the deck, adding a main board alternate wincon in Fireball as well an the ever-useful Disenchant. Thus the balance and switch-ability between Prison, Combo and Midrange lines appears as fine-tuned as can be, and the deck only plays stronger because of it. Winning two more monthly tournaments, in both Boreal and Atlantic environment (4 and 1 Strip Mines rulesets) and in a metagame where the deck is a known quantity, seems to suggest that maybe, just mayyyybeeee, this is real?
Which begs the question: If there is indeed a deck shell for them, Guardian Beasts… Why dont we see moar of them???
Video coverage by Terrain Basique: TWC4 final match game 1, Beast Island (FRDT) vs UR Counterburn (Pat Burt).
Podcast: Complete TWC4 coverage by Terrain Basique, including Beast Island breakdown (french video interview).