How They Brew Up - How to Make the Judge Cry II: Cleanup Crew

Michael Celani • June 27, 2023

Archelos, Lagoon Mystic | Illustrated by Dan Scott

In a world where corrupt judges rule the game of Magic: the Gathering with an iron fist, one man will rise to challenge them. One man will rise to destroy them. And one man will rise to free us all from their tyranny. It's... it's the same man, there's one man, not three, I'm sorry if I--


It's the inaction movie phenomenon of the season. The New York Times writes: "I was literally hypnotized by this film's visuals, and am now on trial for the murder of seven congressmen." The Vatican Chronicles raves: "God gave you two asscheeks [...] and they're going to be glued to the seat for all five hours and forty-seven minutes." YouTube commenter keybladejack060504 writes "i can't believe they cast ezra miller for every role hype!!" You won't want to miss How To Make The Judge Cry II: Cleanup Crew.

Follow your own justice 09/09/23


Hello, everyone, and welcome to the 47st Annual "Sneaking Into An R-Rated Theater When You Told Your Parents You're Watching The Sonic Movie" Film Festival! I'm Michael Celani, and you might know me for directing such beloved sequels as Saturday the 14th and List 2: Schindler's Pissed. Due to a prior arrest, I'll be your host tonight. Before we begin our main event, I'd like to take a little bit of your time to talk about my newest film, How To Make The Judge Cry II: Cleanup Crew.

Your favorite heroes are back again, and this time they're fighting a new supervillain: Archelos, Lagoon Mystic, who plans to either blow up Mt. Everest or replace the oceans with milk, one of the two, haven't decided yet. Permanents enter the battlefield as tapped as Archelos is, which means we've got plenty of ways to get around the downsides of things like ramp spells. But that's not why you're here. You're here for...

The MacGuffin

That's right, moviegoers: I'm putting every twist for my new movie, Cryin' 2: Sanitation Crew right in the trailer, so that you can't enjoy anything anymore. We're skipping straight to the turnabout: our heroes are looking for one specific card which makes the entire plot come together.

Thawing Glaciers has that magic text "at the beginning of the next cleanup step." If you don't know what the cleanup step is, I don't blame you; very few effects in the game reference it outright. The cleanup step is that part of your turn where you discard to hand size, "until end of turn" effects wear off, and all damage marked on permanents is removed. You don't usually get priority during this step, so it often passes straight to your opponent's turn after everything's done. However, if a triggered ability would be triggered because of something happening in cleanup, or you have an effect that occurs at the beginning of a cleanup step, you gain priority as normal. Once all players pass in succession, the game rectifies you trying to do anything silly (like "casting a Giant Growth") by immediately starting another cleanup step.

By using Thawing Glaciers, you can generate a second cleanup step at will, and Archelos, Lagoon Mystic not only allows the land that's searched by its effect to come in untapped, but also lets Thawing Glaciers itself enter the battlefield untapped. We'll care about the why later; let's start by showing how we can turn two cleanup steps into twenty.

Clean Up Your Act

I know this event's introduction has been going a bit long, but bear with me, we'll start soon; I just have a few more things to say about my new movie, Judges on Trial: Dirty Criminals. As our custodial staff who deal with average moviegoers spilling their popcorn and soda all over the floor when they sit down know, we're going to need tons of cleanup steps to keep everything running smoothly. Fortunately, finding Thawing Glaciers isn't the hard part -- we're in black and green, after all, and we've got access to arbitrary land tutors such as Crop Rotation, Elvish Reclaimer, and Tempt with Discovery -- but we will need to find ways to put Thawing Glaciers back into play during our cleanup step to keep the chain going. Luckily, those nerds at TVTropes have already put together a full list of examples occurring in my new decklist:

  • Llanowar Scout and Scaled Herbalist both tap to put a land from your hand onto the battlefield. Your obvious target is Thawing Glaciers, but you can also use this to ramp into Archelos, Lagoon Mystic a turn or so early.
    • Pair them up with a copy of Retreat to Coralhelm and you'll be able to recur Thawing Glaciers as many times as you have basics in the deck to fetch up! That's because (thanks to your commander) each new basic you find will pay for the next activation of Thawing Glaciers.
    • Budoka Gardener acts as a third Llanowar Scout for a little while, but watch out! He eventually flips into a creature that makes huge Elementals, which is fine and will do minor things like win you the game eventually, but he won't help you with your cleanup problem.
  • Gretchen Titchwillow and Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy are quite similar: each can draw cards and put lands onto the battlefield for a rather hefty investment. You won't be getting a lot of use out of these guys for raw recursion, but you will be able recover if you find yourself with a ton of land and no cards.
  • Gee Ma, how come Patron of the Moon can put two lands onto the battlefield? It's the all-in-one land ramp package, and you can use it at instant speed the turn you play it!
  • Growth Spiral, Eureka Moment, or a kicked Joint Exploration digs you a little further into your deck and offers a one-time deal of a free, instant-speed land drop.
  • And if you've got a Rootpath Purifier on the board, say no more: Terrain Generator can drop Thawing Glaciers too. The odds of this happening are quite low, but who said How They Brew It-branded films had to be free of plot holes?

Let The Landfall When It Crumbles

Our deck isn't a Landfall deck, I swear, officer, but we might indulge in a little partying on set from time to time. We are dropping at least two lands a turn thanks to Thawing Glaciers, and everyone does hard drugs on occasion, so no harm no foul, am I right? ...And that's why bribes are part of the budget, everybody!

  • Lotus Cobra and Nissa, Resurgent Animist both give you one mana of any color when a land enters the battlefield, which is helpful not only for ramping out spells but also because it pays for Thawing Glacier's activation cost. Tireless Provisioner provides a Treasure instead, ensuring we can go over budget and still make money.
  • One major way to keep your hand full will be drawing extra cards with Tatyova, Benthic Druid and Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait. Each time you run through a Thawing Glaciers activation, you'll be drawing two cards, and if you've got a Patron of the Moon on the field, you can churn through your whole deck.
  • And finally, Rampaging Baloths. It provides blockers so that all the rabid fans can't ask questions like "Why didn't the eagles fly Frodo to Mordor?" or "How could Ridley avoid being sucked out into space by holding onto a ladder with one hand?" or "Why doesn't Batman just kiss the Joker?"

Eat Your Heart Out, M. Night

Now, I know I've spent an hour going over the plot of my new film, Beyond Rules: Cleanup on Aisle Justice, but there's something I've been keeping from you. Remember when I told you that we were starting with the turnabout? That was a set-up for my clever second plot twist, which is that there's a second turnabout. Remember the three things you do each cleanup step? Well, it turns out one of them is causing damage to wear off, meaning if we have a lot of cleanup steps, we have a lot of effective toughness on our creatures.

That's right: if we've got access to Pestilence effects in combination with Enrage creatures, like Polyraptor, we can use our multiple cleanups to endlessly harm and heal our own creatures! Here's how it works:

  1. Damage your creatures with a card like Thrashing Wumpus to the brink of death;
  2. Activate Thawing Glaciers' ability to create a delayed trigger that resolves in the cleanup step;
  3. Go to the cleanup step, which triggers Thawing Glaciers after all damage marked on your creatures has been removed;
  4. Damage your creatures with a card like Pestilence Demon to the brink of death;
  5. Generate another cleanup step by putting Thawing Glaciers back and activating it;
  6. Repeat!

Check the decklist for the full list of setups and payoffs. By the way, nothing in the rulebook says this has to occur on your cleanup step. In fact, it might be beneficial for you to wait until just before your turn, since Pestilence effects usually damage all creatures and are better off deployed to deal with threats as they appear. Or maybe not, because my movie has a third twist: it's not just our creatures that have Enrage effects.

Yup, just slap any lovely enchantment like Binding Agony onto one of your opponents' creatures and start endlessly pinging them, too! This breaks parity on how much damage each player is taking from Pestilence, since now your enemies take two instead of one. Since you'll be able to outlast your opponents, you'll be rewarded with that sweet, sweet post-credits scene!

No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of This Decklist

Yes, I'm truly honored to be here. I know it's been three hours, but this has been amazing already. Now that that's all wrapped up, without further ado, I present our main event, the Mother of Infinite Sorrows Hospital Land Before Time marathon for children recovering from major surgeries. Roll credits!

And hey, if you enjoy How They Brew It, check out the Discord and my other projects at my website, where you can vote for what you'd like to see next on the series. Seriously guys, Mardu Adventures has gotten so unlucky I think it's cursed. Come fight for or against it, and I'll see you next time!

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.