After I finished reading the Ferrett’s recent offering, "Rizzo Died For Your Sins" I started thinking, posing myself some introspective questions.
Well, to answer that, I have to explain where the questions came from. Travel with me through a few paragraphs, and stay on your toes – the answer is just as close as the next page.
Ferrett’s article was interesting, to say the least.
First and foremost I was flattered that he would include me in his list of writers with the potential to grab a part of Rizzo’s legacy – to this point my career as a Magic: The Gathering writer has been equal parts enjoyable and undistinguished. His brief mention will doubtless serve as a much-needed boost to my nonexistent reputation.
My ego got a boost, too. Sometimes we writers are awfully insecure.
Rizzo’s leaving isn’t hard for me to understand – sometimes the game just loses its allure and you have to move on to other hobbies, other goals, other all-consuming dreams. These dreams are the catalysts for our existence. As all things do, dreams and priorities change. Hell, I used to think I wanted to be a computer technician. Now I think all customers are morons and I hate the industry. Even the most amorous vocational leanings can be fleeting.
No, I wasn’t perplexed by the bald one’s departure. Most of my attention was focused on his attributes as a writer, which were grocery-listed by his editor somewhere in the second half of the article. I was focused on those because I wanted to compare myself to Rizzo. I wanted to compare myself to Rizzo because it was the only way I’d know if I could help to fill his decidedly gargantuan shoes, now empty these three weeks and counting.
For those of you keeping score at home, here is what was listed:
- In every one of his articles, Rizzo spoke about Magic.
- Rizzo had energy.
- Rizzo had belief.
- Rizzo was honest.
- Rizzo was funny.
I’m sure you can jump ahead and extrapolate what I was asking myself.
- Can I speak about Magic?
- Do I have energy?
- Do I have belief?
- Am I honest?
- Am I funny?
Well, let me tell you what answers I had.
I can speak about Magic. I play and write about it all the time and I think I do a pretty good job. I have written tournament reports (with extensive match analysis) and numerous strategy articles, and I think these works compare well to the works of the many talented players in the Magic community.
I have energy… With the right motivation I can be very prolific. Writing is like any other skill; if you don’t do it often enough, you get rusty. Expectations of consistency are good for a writer.
I have belief. Honest. In fact, I have more than one. I also have stances, feelings, opinions, views, affiliations, commentaries, pet peeves and peccadilloes in abundance. While sharing said "belief" might be scary at first, I think it’s the best way to go. The alternative is to write like an introverted, paranoia-ridden hermit with a closet full of skeletons, ever careful to remain invisible on any issue with even the most remote import to the community. The choice seems clear.
I can be honest, but honesty begs to be unleashed only in moderation. In "showing who I am,” I’ll be careful to cut out sexual misadventures, deviant behavior, and other events best omitted for the safety and sanity of all concerned. Any and all misogynist rhetoric will be submitted to TeamAcademy.com. Every website has different standards. (But send ’em to me anyway – I love a good laugh – The Ferrett)
Am I funny? Ferrett says this is the hardest part, but I think I have it knocked. The hardest part for me is trying to find jokes that won’t get edited out of existence. A quick note to other aspiring writers out there: You can’t refer to or mention ungulate bodily fluids without the whole business being stricken from the record.
It means "hoofed mammal.” Sorry to break the rhythm we had going.
Anyhow, if I can find in my writing a passable reflection of the five points of the Rizzian star (as described by the Ferrett), maybe it’s worth throwing my chips into the pile. I’m going to try and grab a piece of the legacy. There are others who knew Rizzo better, who read him more religiously, and who will feel the impact of his absence far more than me, but nonetheless it is his departure that has driven me to action, for better of for worse.
I am going to write an article every day of this week, and send it in. I am going to keep pestering StarCity with article submissions until they make me a feature writer. Why?
I like writing. I like Magic. And I’m not going to spend the rest of my life buying pens. Right Mr. F? This is as good a start as any.
Oh yeah – we’re here to talk about Magic, right?
Has everyone here seen the Judgement spoiler? Why don’t we talk a bit about what cards are going to be big – I have four or five in mind that have a lot of potential. So, here’s something for you to stew over while you wile away the days between spoiler post and pre-release.
Five Articles In Five Days: White’s Judgement Constructed All-Stars
Like every set since Legends, most of the cards in this set are deliberately terrible in order to make Limited play more interesting. We’ll ignore those and just focus on the ones that might actually see some Constructed play.
Creature – Cleric
When ~this~ comes into play, you gain one life for each card in your graveyard.
Empowered by generations of strength.
I just want to make a note here – this isn’t a surefire winner by any means, but it deserves mention because you can use it in an Oath deck to gain a bunch of life. Is it a replacement for the Spike Feeder? Not really.
While it can gain you a ton of life by coming into play after you’ve milled 38 cards, it might not be as good as the Feeder in a control-on-control matchup. Ancestor’s Chosen can’t sacrifice itself, and it can’t be used to make your Morphling bigger (though you leave the Weaver in the deck to do this). If you play Brainstorm and accidentally draw it with a clean graveyard, it will only gain you two life at the most when you Brainstorm it to the top of your library. Unlike Spike Feeder, Ancestor’s Chosen can get Plowed. Finally, you can’t hardcast it worth a damn – though that never stopped people from playing the even more uncastable Crater Hellion as part of the creature set.
I don’t think Ancestor’s Chosen will see too much play in Oath decks because it’s not strictly superior to Spike Feeder. Still, it’s something to think about. Give it a try and tell me if it works. Make sure you have the stack manipulation with Gaea’s Blessing down pat – it would suck to gain zero life.
A quick sample play – your turn 2 Oath comes out against an opposing Jackal Pup. He Reckless Charges a second pup on his turn and hits for seven. You Oath on your turn, turning thirteen cards before you hit the Ancestor’s Chosen. You go up to twenty-six life and you have a 4/4 first-striker in play. Good times.
A second sample play – you draw him in your opening hand. Bad times.
This is four 1/1 fliers on turn 4 if you have another untapped white creature to start it off. That’s Constructed worthy and has potential. What sort of cards might be a good compliment to something like this? Meddling Mage seems like a good start; Glorious Anthem can give you bigger Birds. You get the idea.
The problem is that if the board is totally clear, you can never flash this back. It will sit in your graveyard, impotent, while you try to get three creatures on the board. That doesn’t sound like much fun. At least the vastly inferior Acorn Harvest was a sure thing. I only hope that the four creatures on turn 4 can be pulled off fairly consistently – two creatures on turn 4 is much worse.
They should have made this a coin flip card: "Flipping The Bird.”
Creature – Cleric
Sacrifice ~this~. Target creature you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.
"My destiny is to save others so their destinies may be achieved.”
This is the card that Randy Buehler included in the WW deck he talked about in his article on MagicTheGathering.com. It’s not bad at all; sort of a Mother of Runes that can attack and still protect your creatures. Like a condom though, he’s one use only. The question isn’t whether this is a solid card; it’s whether or not post-Judgement White Weenie is a good deck. If it is, this guy will be in there somewhere. If the deck just keeps getting wrecked by everything under the sun, this guy will be sitting on the bench along with other good cards that aren’t seeing play because the archetypes that they support are unplayable or Tier 2… Like Meddling Mage, or Armadillo Cloak.
Along with Devoted Caretaker, white has got a number of strong 1CC weenies. The trouble is that they don’t beat down very well – and to be aggressive, White will have to stick with the 2CC options, or use some sort of shady shuffling technique to draw a Divine Sacrament every game.
Team Bodyguard doesn’t serve all that well, truth be told. They’ll have to be greatly subsidized by the splash color commandos.
Destroy target attacking creature. You gain life equal to its power.
"Why do we pray to the Ancestor? Because She listens." – Mystic Elder
Exile used to be played in sideboards; I even had some in last year’s Regionals deck to combat Fires decks. This is both better and worse – it doesn’t remove the creature from the game, and it’s more expensive. On the plus side, it can target white creatures. Like Exile, this will be a sideboard card against R/G beats and maybe some Black decks. Chastising a pumped Nantuko Shade would be a nice coup indeed. This card joins a very exclusive club – the community of targeted removal spells that can actually remove Wild Mongrel with 100% success. That alone makes it look very attractive. The lifegain is sweet, too – I can’t wait to nail one of those damn Skizziks and undo about a couple of turns of bear beats at the same time.
Look for this in U/W control decks – though it’s terrible against other control decks, so is Wrath of God and people run those maindeck, so you might see this in some Game 1 configurations. I know I ran Ichorid in black maindecks even though it sucked against R/G.
The card name is a little weak in my opinion – chastising is something that mothers do… Why would a mother’s attentions be able to kill a savage attacker?
Oh wait, now I get it.
Also, chastising isn’t just limited to mothers – there’s also the drill sergeant and dominatrix variety.
Creature – Incarnation
2W: Creatures you control gain protection from the color of your choice until end of turn. Play this ability only if ~this~ is in your graveyard.
“Glory was gone; Glory was everywhere.”
-Scroll of Beginnings
These Incarnations are like playing tournament Magic with those Vanguard cards. Remember those? Urza let you tap three mana to do one damage to anything, and the Sliver Queen let you make Slivers – they were big cards you would play with that would give you abilities and modify your starting life and maximum hand size. Fun stuff if you wanted a break from the Bargain and Stroke decks floating around back when they were part of the Arena season.
Glory is sort of like that – somewhere along the line in every game, Glory will hit the graveyard and you’ll gain the ability to give all your creatures protection from a certain color for 2W. Whether or not this is a good ability is open to debate. Obviously it’s nuts in Limited… But so was Pestilence, and that hasn’t dominated any environments lately. Is there a monowhite, G/W, or U/W creature deck that can make good use of this Incarnation? I imagine she’ll be thrown into the grave rather than cast most of the time… Perhaps U/W beatdown with Merfolk Looters? G/W beatdown with Wild Mongrels? This card is on the cusp, and only testing will show if it’s any good.
Choose an artifact or enchantment you own from outside the game, reveal that card and put it into your hand. Remove ~this~ from the game.
She wished for nobility, but not for a nation to honor it.
Pretty expensive. This one barely makes the list of marginally playable cards simply because it has tremendous potential – as do all of the wishes. If it’s going to be broken, it will take a better deckbuilder than me. Golden Wish might be good in some sort of U/W control deck, where it can go fetch tailored win or lockdown conditions from the sideboard. It’s often been said that a 5-cc card should win you the game to justify its presence in your deck. This is just a big tutor. Chaff or champ? Again, testing will tell.
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice ~this~ unless you discard a card. Skip your draw step. You can’t be the target of spells or abilities. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you.
Huge restrictions and huge benefits. This is not a card that screams "ease of use.” It counterbalances it’s own unwieldy nature with an effect that is startlingly powerful. I’m not sure where it will see play, if it does see play at all. In Standard, decks are less robust and less likely to break up the lock, but there are fewer ways to maintain the lock. In Extended, you can build a much better Confinement deck (Squee is an easy answer to the discard requirement, for example) but you have to face all the enchantment hate in the world, and then some. As such, I don’t think this card fits anywhere. Some deckbuilder might prove me wrong… Why don’t you give it a try?
Whenever a Bird is put into a graveyard from play, put a feather counter on ~this~. All Birds get +1/+1 for each Feather counter on ~this~.
Looks like its time for a Bird beatdown deck. This card isn’t obviously strong but it does have a lot of potential, so I think it warrants a second look. We’ll find out if this card is workable in a hurry. When the set is released, or even before then, on Apprentice, someone will build the Bird deck and test it. If it works, it works. If it’s terrible, this is just another chaff theme deck card, like Griffin Canyon. It seems too powerful to be completely bad. The problem might not be this card – it might be the fact that you have to play with a bunch of sub-optimal birds in order to use it!
Just imagine how bad your deck becomes if you fail to draw your Aerie. Slow beatdown? Tumbleweeds roll uphill faster.
Test of Endurance
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have 50 or more life, you win the game.
“If we have learned nothing else, we have learned to survive.”
Much better than the previous life-related win condition card, Celestial Convergence, this passive powerhouse only takes one turn to take effect. Is it better than Millstone as a win condition in U/W control? Time will tell. It’s certainly easy to reach fifty life with cards like Absorb, Life Burst, and Ancestral Tribute running around.
Is the deck that plays Test of Endurance a good control deck? I think it’s in trouble from the get-go, to be honest. I don’t want to stare down an opposing control deck with a fistful of Life Bursts. That’s like aces and eights; a veritable dead man’s hand. On the other side of the fence, Millstone is something you can sneak down early and protect later on. The Test of Endurance deck will crumple like an elderly foreskin against anything but beatdown. (Did I just let that slide? I believe I did – The Ferrett)
That’s about it for the (non-gold) white cards. I’ll be back in a day or so with a few tips on which Blue cards to watch. In the meantime, try to amuse yourself by reading back through Rizzo’s archive. If you scroll down, you’ll notice that he wasn’t actually around all that long. It feels like he’s been here forever, doesn’t it?
I hope a lot of people will step up and fill the gap. I’ll certainly be writing my ass off, you can expect to see a lot of me this week. Writing will be a big part of my life in the coming days, and I welcome that. What else is there to do?
There’s my household day to day chores, there’s my diet (Operation: "Look Good Naked!"), there’s the occasional trip to the card store to play some Texas Hold ’em (we’re all so tired of Standard that we play poker for fun now…I imagine that will continue until we start preparing for the grinders at Nationals) but other than those brief intermissions, I’ll probably be writing.
Dating? Nah – women are crazy, but men are too hairy and repugnant for me to ever consider being gay. As such, I’m between a rock and a hard place. You know how it is.
See you tomorrow. Go read some Rizzo.