T1 ProsBloom Primer by Oscar Tan aka Rakso, June 8, 2000

Beyond Dominia: Type One Primers: T1 ProsBloom Primer by Oscar Tan aka Rakso
(this is a casual deck Primer and sets before Revised and Fallen Empires receive less emphasis. Of course, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk and Timetwister would be heaven-sent in a ProsBloom deck)

ProsBloom (for Prosperous Bloom) was the first combo deck in Type II-the first goldfish that completely ignored its opponent-and the first that could actually go from having nothing but land on the board to winning in just one turn. It's main components consisted of funny rares from the Mirage block with amazingly lethal synergy.

The original deck was rough, but quickly led to the banning of Squandered Resources in Mirage Block constructed:

Mike Long's ProsBloom, Pro Tour Paris '97

Combo (18)
4 Squandered Resources
4 Cadaverous Bloom
4 Natural Balance
2 Drain Life

Manipulation and Card Drawing (15)
4 Vampiric Tutor
2 Elven Cache
4 Impulse
4 Prosperity
3 Infernal Contract

Counters (4)
3 Memory Lapse
1 Power Sink

Land (26)
4 Undiscovered Paradise
6 Island
8 Forest
8 Swamp

3 Wall of Roots
3 City of Solitude
4 Emerald Charm

To best illustrate how to play this deck, it is best to literally illustrate it with the transcripts of its debut (remember that this was years before Sixth Edition, and a player only died from loss of life if his life total was below zero at the end of a phase):

Date: Mon, 21 Apr 1997 10:51:12 +0100
From: Paul Barclay [email protected]
Subject: Pro Tour Paris - The Final Match

This match report is taken from my transcripts of the video feeds from the Final match (Mark Justice vs Michael Long) at Pro Tour Paris. The final result was Mark Justice 2, Michael Long 3. I can't guarantee that all this is 100% correct - it's pretty hard get all the information about a match accurate. Notation: J1 means "Mark Justice's first turn", L3 means "Michael Long's Third turn". Life totals are given 20/15 where Mark Justice's life total is first, and Michael Long's is second.

Duel 1:
Mark Justice wins the die roll and opts to play first (surprise:-)

J1: Plays Rocky Tar Pit
L1: Plays Swamp
J2: Plays Mountain. Sacrifices Rocky Tar Pit to get a Swamp. Casts a Black Guildmage.
L2: Plays Island
J3: Plays a Mountain. Casts Coercion, forcing Long to discard a Cadaverous Bloom. Attacks with Guildmage 20/19
L3: Plays an Undiscovered Paradise
J4: Casts Stupor, randomly discarding a Cadaverous Bloom, and Long chooses to discard an Island. Attacks with Guildmage 20/18
L4: Plays a second Undiscovered Paradise
J5: Plays a Mountain. Casts Coercion, forcing Long to discard a Prosperity. Attacks with Guildmage 20/17
L5: Does nothing
J6: Casts Talarum Minotaur. Long Memory Lapses it. Attacks with Guildmage 20/16
L6: Does nothing
J7: Casts Talarum Minotaur again. Long Power Sinks it. Attacks with Guildmage 20/15
L7: Does Nothing
J8: Casts Necromancy on the Minotaur. Attacks with the Minotaur and the Guildmage 20/11. Long remarks "I shouldn't have made that deck" Long casts Vampiric Tutor to put a Squandered Resources on top of his deck. 20/9
L8: Casts Squandered Resources. Casts Natural Balance, sacrificing all the land for mana (Long gets 2 Forests, 1 Island and 2 Swamps, Justice gets a single Mountain). Casts Infernal Contract 20/4 (drawing Infernal Contract, Vampiric Tutor, Impulse and an Island). Casts Impulse, taking a Cadaverous Bloom. Casts Cadaverous Bloom. Casts Vampiric Tutor (Prosperity), Justice responds with an Incinerate 20/-2. Casts Infernal Contract 20/-2, drawing Prosperity and 3 cards. Casts Prosperity for 6. Casts Infernal Contract 20/-2. Long doesn't draw another card drawer, or his Drain Life, and so concedes the first game to Justice.
Mark Justice 1, Michael Long 0

Duel 2: Long decides to go first
L1: Plays Bad River
J1: Plays Swamp
L2: Plays Forest, sacrifices Bad River for a Swamp, casts Squandered Resources
J2: Plays Mountain
L3: Plays Bad River. Justice casts Incinerate 20/17
J3: Plays Swamp. Casts Coercion, forcing Long to discard a Prosperity
L4: Sacrifices Bad River for an Island during his upkeep, plays Island
J4: Plays Mountain, Casts and attacks with Viashino Sandstalker 20/15
L5: Plays Forest
J5: Casts and attacks with Viashino Sandstalker 20/11. Plays a Swamp. Casts Fallen Askari.
L6: Long draws a Prosperity. Casts Cadaverous Bloom. Casts Infernal Contract. 20/5 Mark Justice concedes, a _very_ unwise move.
Mark Justice 1, Michael Long 1

Duel 3: Mark Justice chooses to play first.
J1: Plays Rocky Tar Pit
L1: Plays Forest
J2: Sacrifices Rocky Tar Pit for a Mountain. Plays a Swamp. Casts Fallen Askari.
L2: Plays Undiscovered Paradise
J3: Plays Mountain. Casts Stupor, randomly getting a Vampiric Tutor, and Long chooses to discard an Island. Attacks with Fallen Askari 20/18
L3: Plays Undiscovered Paradise
J4: Plays Mountain. Casts Coercion, forcing Long to discard a Vampiric Tutor (other choices were Cadaverous Bloom, Prosperity and Natural Balance). Attacks with the Askari 20/16
L4: Plays Forest
J5: Casts Talruum Minotaur, attacks with Minotaur and Askari 20/10. Plays Undiscovered Paradise. Casts a Black Guildmage.
L5: Casts Prosperity for 2. Plays Bad River.
J6: Plays a Mountain. Casts Coercion, forcing Long to discard a Cadaverous Bloom. Attacks with all 3 creatures 20/5
L6: Undiscovered PAradise returns to Long's hand. Sacrifices Bad River for a Swamp. Plays Undiscovered Paradise, casts Impulse. Michael Long doesn't get the cards he needs, and so concedes the game.
Mark Justice 2, Michael Long 1

Duel 4 Michael Long chooses to play first.
L1: Plays Island
J1: Plays Mountain
L2: Plays Undiscovered Paradise. Casts Wall of Roots
J2: Plays a Swamp
L3: Paradise returns to Long's hand. Plays a Swamp.
J3: Plays a Swamp. Casts Coercion, forcing Long to discard the Undiscovered Paradise (the only land in his hand). Long then casts Impulse to get a Squandered resources (the Impulse showed no more land)
L4: Casts Squandered Resources, using 1 counter from the Wall of Roots (now a 0/4).
J4: Plays Mountain. Casts Stupor, Long discards 2 Infernal contracts (all he held). Casts Black Guildmage.
L5: Plays Bad River.
J5: Casts and attacks with Viashino Sandstalker, Long does not block 20/16. Plays Rocky Tar Pit. Long casts Impulse, getting a Natural Balance
L6: Sacrifices Bad River for a Swamp.
J6: Plays Mountain, Sacrifices Rocy Tar Pit for a Mountain. Casts and attacks with Viashino Sandstalker, Long does not block 20/12
L7: Long has in play: Island; 2x Swamp; Wall of Roots; Squandered Resources. Justice has 4 Mountains, 2 Swamps and a Guildmage. Casts Prosperity for 4, using another counter from the Wall of Roots. Plays a Forest. Casts Natural Balance, sacrificing all 3 land [no mana in pool], Justice responds by sacrificing 4 mountains for 2 Fireblasts 20/4 (Long gets 2 Islands, 2 Forests and a Swamp, Justice gets 3 mountains). Casts Cadaverous Bloom. Casts Prosperity for 7. Casts Infernal Contract, Justice responds with a Fireblast (20/-2). Casts Prosperity for 15. Casts Prosperity for 9. Casts a huge Drain Life (at least 30 points of damage).
Mark Justice 2, Michael Long 2

Duel 5: Mark Justice chooses to play first. His opening hand contains a Fireblast and 6 land. He does not choose to use the Pro Tour Mulligan rule, much to the surprise of the commentory box. Michael Long draws the only Drain Life in his deck in his opening hand. If Mark Justice can use a discard spell to force it out of Long's hand, the best that Long can do is get a draw, as both of his Elven Caches have been sideboarded out (as verified by Bethmo).
J1: Plays Rocky Tar Pit
L1: Plays Swamp
J2: Plays Mountain, Sacrifices Rocky Tar Pit for Mountain.
L2: Plays Island
J3: Plays Swamp
L3: Plays Forest, casts Squandered Resources
J4: Casts Stupor, forcing Long to discard 2 Islands.
L4: Does nothing
J5: Does nothing
L5: Does nothing
J6: Plays Mountain
L6: Plays Undiscovered Paradise
J7: Casts Incinerate 20/17
L7: Plays Island
J8: Draws a Coercion. The auditorium with the TV feed erupts in noise. Casts Coercion. The choice for Justice is between a Cadaverous Bloom and the Drain Life (the other important cards in Long's hand were 3 Natural Balances and two Vampiric Tutors (we think - it was virtually impossible for us to see Long's hand during the fifth duel). Justice chooses to force Long to discard the Cadaverous Bloom. The hall erupts in even more noise, mainly because of the fact that the commentary team have mentioned the fact that if Justice chose the Drain life, Long could not with the duel. Long casts Vampiric Tutor to put Prosperity on top of his deck. 20/15
L8: Casts Natural Balance 3 times, using the Squandered Resources each time. Casts Prosperity for 13. Casts Cadaverous Bloom. Casts a 44 point Drain Life on Justice. -24/35
Mark Justice 2, Michael Long 3

Michael Long wins Pro Tour Paris. But, did Mark Justice actually make a mistake in the fifth game? Both players knew _exactly_ what was in each other's decks (Long had actually built both decks). Mark knew that there were 2 Elven Caches availible to Michael Long, so the decision was not clear cut. Had Mark used the opportunity at the end of the fourth game to look through Michael Long's graveyard and "Removed from the game" pile, he would have seen that there were no Elven Caches left in his deck (Mike drew his entire deck in the fourth game). If he had (and used) this information, he would have removed the Drain Life from Mike Long's hand.

Anyway, the final was about as boring as finals get, with one player doing a Goldfish test of his deck, and the other doing nothing for 7 turns and then killing him on the eighth. Incredibly riveting stuff.

-Paul Barclay.

Kai Budde's ProsBloom, German Regionals Qualfiers

Land (23)
4 City of Brass
4 Gemstone Mine
5 Swamp
4 Forest
5 Island
1 Plains (I am not sure on this one. Sometimes it was great and sometimes I wanted to burn it ...)

Combo (13)
4 Bloom
4 Squandered Resources (probably 2-3 too less ....)
4 Natural Balance
1 Drain Life

Card drawing and manipulation (17)
4 Contract
4 Meditate (Never play bloom without at least three of these. If the kombo is just starting they are far better than Prosperitys!)
3 Prosperity
4 Impulse
2 Vampiric Tutor

Counters and others (7)
4 Memory Lapse
3 Abeyance

Sideboard: 3 Wall of Roots (against sligh. propaganda is one more to cast and so slower, furthermore the walls survive tranquil domains)
2 Emerald Charm (aura, hall of gemstones and other blooms)
2 Perish (Stompy is probably the worst matchup for bloom, VERY fast and it does have very good enchantment removal)
2 Pyroblast (mainly in here to kill early ophidians, which are one of my nemesises)
3 City of Solitude
2 Powersink (geddon anyone?!?!)
1 Abeyance

The above transcript lends an idea of how awkward the ProsBloom deck can be, and the original cards had synergy so powerful that very few tricks could be added. These were mainly:

  1. Realization that the deck needed just one Drain Life and could drop things such as Elven Cache
  2. Use of City of Brass and Gemstone Mine
  3. Use of Arcane Denial over Memory Lapse and Power Sink (used as they were the only ones available in the Mirage block, and because they delayed the opponent and tapped him out before the final turn)
  4. Addition of Abeyance after Weatherlight and a single Plains to be fished out with Natural Balance
  5. Addition of Meditate after Tempest (better with the errata that the skipping of the turn is part of the resolution and not a cost; you do not skip a turn if Meditate is countered)
  6. Addition of excellent sideboard cards in Elephant Grass and Wall of Blossoms in later sets
  7. Addition of Final Fortune in some sideboards

At present, unfortunately, the deck type must be declared dead because:

  1. Because of the number of combo components, the deck can fit very few non-combo cards such as counterspells and other defense
  2. Weenie decks have become more powerful and can overrun the ProsBloom deck, even an Extended red deck with Fireblast
  3. All "younger" combo decks are more compact; Trix requires only two cards that are both blue
  4. A player is now dead when he hits zero life; not good for a deck that uses Infernal Contract and allows a red player to draw more cards and lands to bolt and Fireblast him with.

It remains a fun, if outdated, deck that can still draw the entire library, generate near-infinite damage and kill in one turn. If anything else, it is a fun goldfish deck.

General gameplay
The key card of the deck is Squandered Resources (some Philippine players tried using Lotus Petal for a more inconsistent deck that could play Squandered Turn 2), and the card was soon banned from Mirage constructed, killing ProsBloom there.

The ideal play is to play Squandered Resources on the second turn, then sacrifice all land and Natural Balance on the third, followed by Cadaverous Bloom. At that point, if the player has more card drawers, he plays them until he has enough cards in hand to fuel a Drain Life. (Of course, the player can also not draw card drawers, as shown in Mike Long's first game.)

The crucial skill for the ProsBloom player is to know when to go off. He generally uses Vampric Tutors at the last possible moment, and executes the combo at the last final moment to make the most of his regular draws. When I first playtested my own Bloom deck three years ago, I often made the mistake of "going off" without realizing that I did not have enough card drawers to make use of my mana. This danger implies that one should use the smaller card drawers before Prosperity to maximize the hand size when one uses Cadaverous Bloom to fuel a giant Drain Life. (It must be noted that a player should always use Natural Balance before card drawers to maximize the chance of drawing new card drawers, and that if he draws two Natural Balances, he should use the first one to get green and black mana, float it and then play the second.)

The Bloom player also has to know how to manage his mana, especially blue mana as this cannot be produced by Cadaverous Bloom. When first going off with Natural Balance, I usually pulled out just one or two Islands-just to be able to float enough blue for Prosperity and Arcane Denial-as I would be sinking all the mana into a big Prosperity. Later in the combo, I would Balance out more Islands as I already had the other colors from Cadaverous Bloom. It cannot be emphasized that running out of blue mana in the middle of the combo is fatal, and one should take care if he is using Meditates and more blue cards than Long's original deck.

Even playing the land in the crucial turn has to be looked at, by the way. Unless one cannot avoid it, one can opt to play a land later into the combo and not before, as Natural Balance will be one's only new source of blue mana later on.

Finally, the Bloom player has to know when to time Abeyance or City of Solitude (City of Solitude is permanent and green, but I prefer Abeyance because it is an instant and a cantrip; you can actually bluff with Abeyance by pretending to go off even if you just want to draw a card in desperation.) Ideally, one should be able to Abeyance before Natural Balance so the extra mana cannot be used by the opponent, but it really depends on the deck. In the mirror match, though, the proper time to Abeyance is in response to your opponent's.

Aside from these notes and some common sense (play slower against a Blue deck and do not attempt to sacrifice all your land to Squandered Resources for an early Natural Balance, for example), there is very little that can be done to alter the classic Bloom deck.

Post-Tempest additions
Aside from Ancestral Recall, Time Walk and Timetwister, and Demonic Tutor and Regrowth to offset the restriction of Vampiric Tutor, one can experiment with the following non-power cards:

  1. Lim-Dul's Vault - best unrestricted tutor for this deck
  2. Yawgmoth's Bargain - super Infernal Contract, more effective than Prosperity against some decks
  3. Yawgmoth's Will - play all your card drawers again
  4. Duress - play as a proactive counter
  5. Braingeyser and Stroke of Genius - alternatives to Prosperity and alternate kill cards; saved me three years ago when facing an opponent with a Mana Flare/Candelabra deck that somehow got a Glacial Chasm in it.
  6. Planar Birth - synergy with Squandered Resources and all the basic land, but might be unnecessary
  7. Windfall - potentially powerful card drawer in some situations
  8. Final Fortune - surprise card that can win with the extra turn against an unprepared opponent
  9. Pursuit of Knowledge - Hey, but it might work. J
  10. Time Spiral - Another card drawer; not Diminishing Returns, though.
  11. Soul Burn - I used this in my original deck for fun because I wanted a backup Drain Life and was afraid of Lobotomy.

Rakso's Casual Bloom (add Ancestral, Time Walk and Timetwister on your own)
Combo (13)

4 Squandered Resources
4 Cadaverous Bloom
4 Natural Balance
1 Drain Life

Card drawing and manipulation (15)
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
2 Lim-Dul's Vault
1 Regrowth
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Yawgmoth's Bargain
2 Prosperity
1 Stroke of Genius
4 Meditate
2 Infernal Contract

Counters and others (8)
4 Arcane Denial
4 Abeyance

Land (24)
4 City of Brass
1 Plains
7 Island
6 Swamp
6 Forest