10The Mana (Nonbasics)
10Misc Good Cards
10Misc Bad Cards
10Reccomended Deck Skeleton
The Mana (nonbasics)
The first choice to make is Urzatron vs. Cloudposts vs. Vernal Bloom.
Urzatron (Urza's Mine, Tower, and Power Plant): These are highly resistant to land destruction, with the notable exception of Sowing Salt. The Urzatron is also very easy to topdeck both while assembling, and for extra mana after you have one of each. Unfortunately, the set takes up a full 12 deck slots, making it difficult to splash colors and increasing your overall odds of green-screw, but that’s about it.
Cloudpost: Cloudpost is much more vulnerable to land destruction (especially Sowing Salt), uncommon to topdeck, and comes into play tapped. The real upside is that it only takes 4 slots, making splashing a second color easier.
Vernal Bloom/Heartbeat of Spring: These are impossible to tutor out (without splashing), and generally reward the mono green versions most. These are bad news in matchups like BG where your opponent is playing forests (which happen to be the most played basic land in the format at this moment), and is VERY weak in the mirror. This pair is strongest vs LD, since it is difficult to hate out basic lands.
Legendary Lands: Boseiju makes a compelling argument for maindeck. However for reasons explained here, it is often unnecessary unless facing down incredibly large amounts of permission. Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers is an acceptable choice for sidestepping opposing Sundering Titans in the mirror. However, be aware that using it puts you at great risk of getting it “stripped” because of the Legend rule when playing other green decks.
Many people have proposed splashing a color in TAN. So what does each color offer? Are the perceived benefits of that color worth a less consistent manabase (most likely having to rely on Cloudpost instead of Urzatron) and a greater vulnerability to friendly and opposing Sundering Titans?
Red: Red is perhaps the best possible splash color. Red gives access to moderately useful Ravager hate in the form of Electrostatic Bolt and Hearth Kami. It also provides access to spells such as Fireball, which can be a potent win condition.
Black: Black gives access to Cranial Extraction, Night’s Whisper, and pretty much nothing else. Until/unless a non-Ravager aggro deck becomes fast enough to contend with TAN, all the black removal in the format is second fiddle to Oxidize.
Blue: Blue offers this deck very little. Card drawing such as Thirst for Knowledge or Counsel of the Soratami is the most useful. Permission is not very useful, since the deck wants to tap out for spells as often as possible in the early game to develop the manabase and accelerate into an early victory. This is in direct conflict with keeping mana open for counters.
White: White gives access to powerful spells like, umm, well... nothing. There is no logical reason to splash for white at all.
Overall Verdict: None of the other colors provide a compelling enough reason to splash a second color. The added versatility of a splash color weakens the deck's overall consistency, and does little to improve the important matchups. It also decreases deck consistency, and makes you more vulnerable to LD effects.
Mana Acceleration is what makes this deck tick. It’s the key to fetching out the Urzatron as quick as possible, and casting a 9 mana spell on turn 4
Sylvan Scrying: Sylvan Scrying is an absolutely essential card. Tutoring out key nonbasics, it makes the deck significantly faster and more reliable. Running less than 4 can only be viewed as the most grievous of errors.
Reap and Sow: Reap is the other essential nonbasic tutor. A phenomenal hoser in the mirror, the biggest advantage Reap has is that it puts the land directly into play. The high casting cost makes it less essential than Scrying, but still a strong card.
Sakura-Tribe Elder: The Trube Elder is the definition of efficient. Tribe Elder often comes down on turn 2, chumps or trades with an attacking creature, and puts a land directly into play. Even if it never attacks or blocks, it's no worse than a Rampant Growth.
Vine Trellis: The Trellis is another method of providing that all critical second source of green mana. The big advantage of Trellis is that when mana is unneeded, a surprisingly large number of the creatures in the format have only 2 power.
Kodama's Reach: Given the narrow amount of mana acceleration/tutoring that can be fit into the deck, the inclusion of Kodama’s Reach must be viewed as a mistake. The 3rd forest (1 to cast, 1 tutored into play, 1 into hand) is essentially useless when aiming for the god draw, and even when not, it is unlikely that the Urzatron will fail to come online before getting 9 other lands.
Ravager Affinity is undoubtedly the best deck in the metagame, and by a wide margin. This forces any other deck to play hate cards main. The amount of hate depends on the competitiveness of the event. The more competitive, the more useful Ravager hate becomes.
Oxidize: This is the premium hate card. It is a 1 drop in a deck with precious few of them, and the "cannot be regenerated" clause occasionally comes in useful when playing Ravager opponents who think it’s "tech" to play bad cards like Welding Jar. Instant speed is also very important, allowing you to pick off a Blinkmoth Nexus, or a Vialed out creature.
Naturalize: At 2 mana, Naturalize is the second cheapest artifact hate card around. In less competitive environments it shines brightly for its added ability to take out enchantments, most namely the Hondens.
Viridian Shaman: Artifact hate crammed onto a 2/2 body. The Shaman is often preferred to Naturalize, because for 1 extra mana you get a chumper, or, better still, something to flat out trade 2-1. He is also significantly better than Naturalize when facing down decks that don’t play artifacts.
Relic Barrier: A strong anti-ravager contender, Relic Barriers are typically confined to the sideboard (albeit usually in multiples of 4). However, in extremely Ravager heavy metagames they have been known to make a rare maindeck appearance.
It’s fairly well known that the goal of a Tooth and Nail deck is to cast -with entwine- Tooth and Nail as soon as possible. But what to find, what to find…
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker: This is arguably the most important TAN target of them all. Kiki + Titan, Kiki + Colossus, Kiki + Eternal Witness… Kiki-Jiki makes the CIP (Comes Into Play) abilities on your guys look even better by replicating them every turn.
Sundering Titan: This is one of the few TAN targets it is ok to use in multiples. Very strong against any control deck, the Titan usually combines with Kiki to kill 6 lands in one fell swoop, and 4 every turn after that. Plus, a 7/10 body is kind of big, even if it lacks evasion or trample. The beast works well when fetched via TAN or randomly hardcast. It is not so good against mono-colored decks, and is horrible vs. Ravager. Any Titans after the second are best left to sideboard.
Darksteel Colossus: The Colossus serves one purpose only: He’s BIG. At 11/11 he’s one of the biggest creatures ever printed, and the trample + indestructible makes him all the more fearsome. The one downside to Colossus is that he is rarely the first creature TANed into play, leading some to speculate about his usefulness.
Platinum Angel + Leonin Abunas: Some people prefer to play double Platinum Angels in this spot, (for easier casting from hand) but they are making a mistake. The Abunas is not vulnerable to Artifact destruction, and aside from Shrapnel Blast is almost impossible to kill with a single burn spell. The obvious use for this combo is to provide defense when facing decks like Ravager or Sligh.
Triskelion + Mephidross Vampire: The alternate choice to Abunas-Angel for dealing with fast decks, Vampire – Trike acts as a 1-sided Wrath of God. The advantage here is that you are all but guaranteed to destroy the entire opposing army, short of any indestructibles. However, the Triskelion is MUCH much more vulnerable than the protected Platinum, and does nothing to stop burn spells.
Duplicant: Duplicant is spot removal that is strongest in the mirror. Dupes is castable off of only colorless mana, which is useful if you are getting manascrewed by Titan, and takes out anything. Duplicant also has some very nice synergy with Kiki-Jiki, and is the perfect answer to a Kokusho or an Arc-Slogger.
Misc Good Cards
Aside from the essentials, what are other cards worth using?
Eternal Witness: Eternal Witness is Regrowth meets a 2/1 for :symg:. The ability to recur your spent spells is very important. In a long game, the Witness acts as a veritable Diabolic Tutor, fetching almost any spell in your deck. The fact that he’s a creature just makes him even better, as it gives him great synergy with Kiki-Jiki, and Tooth and Nail.
Mindslaver: At 10 total mana, Mindslaver is the most expensive spell in your deck. However it is the best choice as a “filler” card (if you need one). It takes up the last few deck slots and provides an alternate win mechanism.
Misc Bad Cards
Here are a few cards to avoid playing. They have all been well tested, proven highly ineffective, and STILL manage to somehow get put in decklists posted all over the internet.
Sensei’s Divining Top: The Top is a popular enough card that I'm going to sugarcoat my opinion of it. I love the Divining Top. It's one of my favorite cards... but only if I'm on the opposite side of the table as the TAN deck. There is little worse of a way to start a Magic game than Forest, Divining Top. The tempo loss for regular activations is incredible. The correct play is usually to ignore the Top, and tap out casting spells. Unfortunately, in order to get a USE out of the top, you have to cast less useful (less expensive) spells, and hope that Top shows you some love. Most people don't follow this thought process to its full conclusion, but the strategy a Divining Top player is adapting is "I'll deliberately make poor play decisions every single turn to use a sub-par Index, in hopes of somehow revealing something good." YUCK!
Plow Under: This card does NOT belong in the maindeck. A real drag in the Ravager matchup, it does provide an edge in the mirror. However, typically this takes the place of Ravager hate, and in a competitive or even semi-competitive atmosphere this is simply unacceptable.
Rude Awakening: This is a puzzling card to say the least. Most people claim Rude Awakening is to be used vs. decks that can cast Cranial Extraction on Sundering Titan. However, when asked what happens when it walks into Echoing Decay, they claim that the obvious choice is to not play this card vs. black decks… Sadly this delicious bit of irony is lost on most advocates of Rude Awakening. RA is also significantly worse than random Sundering Titan/Darksteel Colossus beats, and typically is also less effective than even Mindslavers…
Reccomended Deck Skeleton
I told you I wasn’t going to provide a decklist, and I won’t. But if you want to go build your own TAN deck, it’s best to work off the following skeleton.
7-8 Nonbasic Accelerants
4-8 Basic/green Accelerants
6-8 Ravager Hate
5-6 TAN targets
4-7 Misc Good cards
10Misc Bad cards.
How to sideboard is significantly dependant on your local metagame and how you chose to build your maindeck. However, here’s how I would recommend sideboarding for a typical metagame following the above deck skeleton.
4 Relic Barrier: The epitome of anti-Ravager makes a strong appearance here. Replacing Mindslaver(s) and Sundering Titan(s), they provide critical time for the Affinity matchup
3 Platinum Angel: Sideboarding in three greatly increases the odds of randomly hardcasting one. These typically replace Sundering Titan vs mono colored aggro, or Colossus/Titan(s) and something else (deck dependant) vs Ravager.
2 Sundering Titan: Generally replaces Oxidizes vs BG. Titans also come in vs UG, although what specifically comes out varies significantly based on what the UG deck looked like. (namely, its a bad idea to board out Oxidize if you think your opponent is keeping in Vedalken Shackles)
4 Plow Under: Used mostly in the mirror, Plow Under provides a critical tempo advantage for the player that draws it first. These also tend to come in vs. BG in place of any Oxidizes left over after you board in Sundering Titans. Works vs. UG as well, but requires more care, as boarding out Oxidize can prove disastrous if it lets them steal a Kiki-Jiki with Vedalken Shackles.
2 Boseiju, Who Shelters All: These come in vs the blue mage. This is more out of force of habit than usefulness, as any blue player who knows how to build a deck should have an answer ready for Boseiju in his sideboard.
Tooth and Nail. Because 9 mana spells in T2 are sexy. Now go playtest!