The Whole Tooth and Nothing But the Tooth

When I first looked at the Mirrodin spoiler, I saw a card called Tooth and Nail. It made the Johnny in me a bit happier, but at the same time, the Spike in me was a bit saddened. The two personalities were arguing with each other, trying to figure out what to think of this card:

Johnny: This card would be so cool to make a deck around!
Spike: Don’t get your hopes up, this deck will never see tournament play. A guy can just counter it and win the game. And how are you going to get it into play fast enough so that a Goblin deck won’t beat you?
Johnny: I was thinking maybe throw some Myrs in and—
Spike: You can’t be serious! This is why I don’t let you make decks anymore. Remember the Soldier Bidding deck? What kind of drugs were you on when you thought of that?
Johnny: Well, I was thinking it would be an easy way to get around Wrath of God
Spike: Well did it work? No! And everyone laughed at us. I haven’t been this embarrassed since your attempt at breaking Cephalid Constable. What’s next, Lightning Coils?
Johnny: Well, actually I was thinking. . . .

So needless to say, we passed up on the idea of Tooth and Nail ever being in a constructed deck. Mirrodin was integrated into Standard and Odyssey block went out. Goblin Bidding and UW Control were joined by Broodstar Affinity and Sligh to create a new Standard metagame.

Then came Darksteel (DUN DUN DUH!!!), and with it Arcbound Ravager and Skullclamp. Skullclamp, as you know, changed the format tremendously. Any deck with creatures in it would maindeck this card because it was just that good. Other decks, like Elf and Nail, abused this card to become tier 1. W/x control decks became non-existent and were replaced by mono-Red control and G/x control decks (one of those being Tooth and Nail) maindecking artifact hate. Affinity became the deck to beat.

Then during the spring of 2005, Affinity was effectively banned from Standard. Arcbound Ravager, Disciple of the Vault and the artifact lands were banned in March, almost a year after Skullclamp had been banned (June '04). With Affinity gone, Tooth and Nail could take over Standard.

So, what does this have to do with Extended? Well, in a similar way, Tooth and Nail became a lot better after the rotation. It also got a lot of help from the new sets so that it could compete with control decks like Tog and No Stick or aggro decks like Boros and Affinity.

That being said, here is the decklist:

Tooth&Nail.decMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
5 Forest
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
4 Windswept Heath
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Tower

1 Sundering Titan
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
2 Eternal Witness
1 Darksteel Colossus
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Triskelion
1 Mephidross Vampire

3 Moment’s Peace
2 Mindslaver
4 Sensei's Divining Top
4 Tooth and Nail
4 Sylvan Scrying
4 Reap and Sow
3 Oblivion Stone
2 Talisman of Unity

After tinkering with the deck a bit, I eventually created something that appeased both Johnny and Spike. The card explanations are pretty obvious. The Top will dig through your deck with the help of 20 shuffling spells. Oblivion Stone and Moment's Peace help you against aggro decks while Mindslaver and Boseiju help you against control. Meanwhile, you are racing to get all three pieces of the Urzatron so that you can lay down a Tooth, which will generally win you the game.

The cool thing is that there are so many ways to go with Tooth and Nail because there are so many combinations you can use. For instance:

Kiki-Jiki + Sundering Titan: This will destroy six basic lands if you play it against someone with a two-color deck. With the shocklands becoming more popular, this has the potential to devastate your opponent.

Kiki-Jiki + Eternal Witness: You can use this to recur any card in the graveyard, including the Tooth and Nail you just played. But it also gets back Mindslavers and Oblivion Stones.

Kiki-Jiki + any creature: Use this for the purposes of just beating down your opponent. Kiki + Darksteel Colossus is probably the best option, but you could also go the Kiki + Triskelion route if you want to clear some weenies before you strike.

Triskelion + Mephidross Vampire: Will wipe out the board, plus provide two beaters to swing with. The only thing bad about this move is you have to watch out for creature or artifact destruction, because that can break the combo.

Sundering Titan + Darksteel Colossus: This is pretty much just two beaters. A prime choice against a beatdown deck because these creatures will generally always be bigger. Also a good choice if you have already played Tooth and Nail and you just need some beatsticks.


vs. No Stick
One of your worst matchups. At any point in the first game, they can play Scepter Chant and win. The only time you can win with Scepter-Chant in play is if Oblivion Stone is in play, in which case you should slap your opponent for being stupid. You can still win the first game, but you are looking at 35-40% here.


There are many ways to go about sideboarding. It really depends on how your opponent plays and what he plays, but this is generally the way I go. You have pretty much changed the deck so that you can play the control game along with him. This time Scepter imprinted with Chant won't screw you because you now have Naturalize (which is uncounterable thanks to Boseiju). You have Plow Unders and Seedtimes to help you out in the fight as well. The matchup goes in your favor (barely) because now playing Tooth pretty much means game for him, instead of Scepter-Chant being game for you.

vs. Boros
The gameplan for this matchup is to try and survive until you can drop Tooth and win. Generally you Tooth for the Vamp/Trike combo, but watch out for burn in response to Trike activations. Of course, your play might change depending on the state of the game. For instance, you might want to get Kiki-Jiki and Sundering Titan if you are at a low life-total and want to prevent them from burning you to death. This matchup isn't easy, but it isn't hard either.


Post-board, I've seen many different sideboard strategies. Some decks will bring in Blood Moon, some will bring in artifact destruction. I've even played against a guy who brought in Flaring Pain. None of these cards completely hose you, so you shouldn't have much to worry about. One thing I might add is if they kill your Triskelion, use your next Tooth to get Kiki-Jiki and Duplicant, but don't imprint anything on the first Duplicant, because with the creatures Boros runs it will be easier to kill. Use the copies from Kiki-Jiki to imprint opposing creatures.

vs. Friggorid
This matchup is harder than Boros because: a) They can kill you faster (and their creatures generally will have evasion), and b)they run disruption that you actually worry about. The good news is that once you play Tooth for the first time, you will generally win because they have a hard time dealing with the Vamp/Trike combo. Keep in mind that a well timed pair of Cabal Therapies can ruin your gameplan, so watch out for that. Fortunately, in the first game they might not figure out that you are playing Tooth and Nail until they see your hand for the first time because the deck isn't mainstream. Use that to your advantage.

-2 Mindslaver
+1 Moment's Peace
+1 Duplicant

Game two they will most likely try and bring in Coffin Purge to deal with you flashing back Moment's Peace. Other than that, the gameplan is still the same. The Duplicant is thrown in there in the rare occasion that they make you discard a Triskelion or a Mephidross Vampire so you have another way to deal with a bunch of flying Ichorids.

vs. Rock
It's really hard to lose the first game. They don't aggro you, and they don't counter. You might run into trouble if they can get a Hippie out real fast. With the first Tooth, I usually get Eternal Witness and Kiki-Jiki, and proceed to play Tooth every turn getting Vamp/Trike, Titan, Colossus, whatever. But of course it depends on the state of the game.


People might question me taking out Mindslaver, but generally there is nothing they play that will screw them over. It will always end up being a Time Walk for ten mana. Plow Under will disrupt them more half the time.
So anyways, after sideboarding, Rock will almost always sideboard in Cranial Extraction. So are we doomed? Actually, no, because after sideboarding, you can still win by just abusing Top all day. If you can get off Tooth and Nail before they Extract it, you usually win. But say they play Extraction first; now you win by using Top until you can hardcast your Sundering Titans, Darksteel Colossus, Duplicant, and such. Most of those creatures by themselves give Rock a hard time (Titan less so because of Putrefy).

vs. Psychatog
This is like the No Stick match-up without the No-Stick, so it is generally easier. Simply play Tooth and Nail (backed by Boseiju), and you have a lot of options of what to get. You can go the Kiki-Jiki/Witness route and play more Tooths, or just get something like Titan/Colossus. Winning won't be a problem after that.


The gameplan is generally the same: fetch a Boseiju and then play Tooth and Nail. This time you have a lot more options. I've seen some Psychatog decks side in Cranial Extraction. If that is the case you go into Top mode and try and find something to do about it (Mindslaver, Plow Under, Seedtime, random creatures). Extraction hurts more here because they can counter your creatures, but if they don’t play Extraction, you're good.

vs. Heartbeat combo
Game 1 is a tossup, and once they find out that you are playing Tooth and Nail, they will probably realize that they can't play Heartbeat until they can go off. If they do, simply play Tooth and Nail and proceed to win with Kiki-Jiki and Sundering Titan. But it's all about who "goes off" first.


Heartbeat is the type of deck that only wins by going off as quickly as possible. So to sideboard against that, you just take out everything but the cards that will hurt them. Your plan to win is to Tooth for Kiki-Jiki and Sundering Titan. You get help from Seedtime, Plow Under, and Naturalize to slow your opponent down. So the matchup should tilt in your favor after sideboarding.

Since this article was written after Extended season was already finished, you can expect some changes in the metagame before next extended season. You will probably have to change the deck a bit for the new metagame next year, but TNN is versatile enough that I don't think you'll have a problem. The only issue I forsee that might make Tooth and Nail hard to play in Extended is if there is a huge shift in hate against control or combo decks. So, with that, the deck analysis comes to an end. Remember, next time you hear Johnny talking about how cool a card will be in constructed, don't just ignore him.

Banner: ILoveAtogs
Editing: Dr. Tom, Goblinboy, Binary


Posts Quoted:
Clear All Quotes