This Week’s Guest Appearance: Kai Budde
This Week’s Guest Appearance: Kai Budde
Sigh. Man. School. You know? Man.
As usual, I wish I had it in me to be clever right now. Well, I want to get the ol’ generalized pick orders out there while they’re still remotely relevant for those of you who want to improve your Limited game. Don’t expect anything too cute this episode. As a consolation prize/parting gift/what have you, I’ve included a semi-humorous AIM conversation at the end of the article, where it’s that much easier to skip.
To repeat – Don’t shy away from this article just because you can barely see the scroll bar at the right-hand side. Just skip part two.
As some of you may know, I recently attended a Hoobastank concert. They’re one of my favorite bands, and I knew the show would be”high energy.” That means that their songs are uptempo, for you laypeople. This naturally makes for a good concert, so I simply couldn’t miss it. Many good times were had in the mosh pit.
More on that in a second.
Andrew W.K. was one of the opening acts, and let me tell you…he is simply ridiculous. Even though he had broken his foot during a previous concert and was thus confined to a chair, he was still surreally animated. He slammed on his piano, he did the Bushwhacker dance, he smashed his fists into his head. So charismatic was Mr. W.K. that he entire crowd couldn’t help but go crazy. He probably had the most fun of everyone there, excitedly going into speeches about how great life is and how much he wanted everyone to enjoy the party he was staging. Again, good times… even if the part about life being great is a giant crock of…
So back to the mosh pit. Mosh pits are a lot of fun and a great way to release energy, but let’s face it: You can get your ass kicked out there, especially if you’re the frail, sickly type. So if any of you gamers are planning on attending a concert and getting in there, perhaps you should read…
Tim’s Mosh Pit Tips
Tip 1: Don’t go into the pit too early.
Don’t waste your energy on the opening acts. They tend to suck; you didn’t go there to see Boba Flex or Menthol. Besides, if you wait until the headliners get onstage, everyone who’s been moshing since the beginning will be pretty tired, and you can really clean up.
Tip 2: Stay close to the girls.
The reasons for this are twofold. And no, neither one of them has to do with some perverse sexual gratification thing. If you get your jollies by rubbing up against people, then congratulations, you have a sexual disorder. I can’t remember what it’s called, but Professor McCallum says we don’t need to know it for the final, so it’s all good. The first reason is that girls tend to be softer than the guys. The second, related to the first, is that most guys will be somewhat hesitant to as be brutal with the girls as they would in the rest of the pit. Basically, girls are like a protective shield.
Tip 3: Avoid OMC and Sweaty Guy.
This is a corollary to number two. Allow me to elaborate on these well-known mosh pit archetypes.”OMC” is any white guy who has afroish hair like Josh Bennett or the singer of At the Drive In. You can be sure that this duder is gonna do crazy, crazy things, and you don’t wanna be there when that goes down. Plus he may have like, chains or whatever in his pocket.
Sweaty Guy is just what he sounds like. At any show, with little or no provocation, he feels the need to strip down to his wifebeater and perspire as though the sun itself were playing the bass onstage. He’s sort of a burly customer, but the main reason you want to avoid him is that you probably won’t be able to take a shower before you get back in your car. Gross stuff.
Tip #4: Make sure to do that devil-horn thing with your fingers.
I don’t care how stupid you think it looks, it’s protocol. You can’t question protocol. If you don’t like it, then go to the Yanni show. Personally, if I ever win the Pro Tour, I’ll be making this pose in any picture they try to take.
Tip #5: Leave your glasses in the car.
I kept them on this time since I wanted to be able to see, but naturally they almost got broken. If you keep them in your pocket, they could get crushed. If you keep them on your face, they could get knocked off and stepped on. The latter is not generally a concern for me since I’m fairly tall, but crowdsurfers complicate the picture. Some buttmonger’s shoe made solid contact with them, and now they’re sorta bent. Which brings me to my next tip…
Tip #6: If you’re fat, don’t crowdsurf.
It’s that simple. You’re gonna get dropped anyway, so don’t bother trying. Not cool, people, not cool.
Click on the link and look at Megan J. Tog. I said look at her! Buy a few while you’re at it. Isn’t she beautiful? This card is a lot like Molder Slug, in that if your opponent doesn’t have Terror or Betrayal of Flesh, he won’t be long for this world. The first attack or so, he won’t be able to block effectively because of the threat of activation. Once he’s low enough, he won’t be able to block effectively since you’ll be able to make Megan big enough to simply kill him.
The earlier you get her, the more likely you are to be able to tune your deck around her… but even if you get her pack 3, you should still have a sufficient number of artifacts to make her ridiculous. I recently got a Molder Slug pick 1 pack 1 and went out of my way to not draft artifacts, and I still ended up with five in the deck and some playables in the sideboard.
That was some nice diction, wasn’t it? Can you tell that I’m a little burned out from writing papers for school? Hopefully I managed to get the point across though, especially considering that I put Megan as number one. That position is clearly debatable, though, if you examine numero dos on the list…
2.Grab the Reins
Geordie Tait is a little misguided when it comes to rating rares and uncommons as Tier 1 or Tier 2. First, as I covered in the forums of his article on colored rares, his rare appraisals are a little off. More importantly, he seems to be a member of the Loxodon Warhammer cult. He claims that Loxodon Warhammer is head and shoulders above the other most powerful uncommons like Grab the Reins, Icy Manipulator, and Crystal Shard.
Well let me tell you, kids: the Hammer is not the End-all Be-all. It’s a piece of equipment that costs three and three more each time you move it onto something. I’m not arguing that it’s not retarded; what I am arguing is that it isn’t appreciably better than the other insane uncommons, and perhaps not better at all. Man does it pain me to say this, but here it goes… I think Kai was right (eye roll) and Crystal Shard is better than the Hammer. There, I’ve said it.
Now let’s talk about what makes this a Tier 1 uncommon. When you entwine it, you pretty much get to destroy your opponent’s two best creatures. Take the bigger one and throw it at the smaller one. Fun stuff. Naturally, you should try to entwine it if at all possible, but sometimes the investment of four mana can do the trick. Steal something and sacrifice it to your Atog or Krark-Clan Grunt; remove a key blocker while adding a key attacker; sacrifice something that’s going to die anyway to kill one of their men; or simply fling one of your guys at your opponent’s head for the final damage. I think a list of what this card CAN’T do would actually be easier to write. Said list would include the fact that the stolen creature doesn’t untap if it’s tapped.
Bonesplitter is overrated. This guy is not. Even if he is going to go completely unequipped, he is still a perfectly acceptable first pick. All by itself, it can kill mana Myrs, deal one damage to an attacking or blocking creature, or simply plink relentlessly away at your opponent’s life total. It’s a nice non-artifact source of damage, meaning it can kill Tel-Jilad Chosen. It’s a reusable bestower of direct damage, people. I shouldn’t have to work too hard to sell you on it. Plus everyone has already told you how good this is. Eisel wouldn’t lead you astray, would he?
4.Bosh, Iron Golem
Bosh will have a huge effect on the game if you can get him out, bigger even than the cards above it on the list. There are a few reasons why you should take Spikey and Grab the Reins over this.
First, it costs (rounded to the nearest hundred), six billion mana to play. Second, it dies to all the artifact removal spells. There are few worse feelings than tapping eight only to have your bomb removed by a simple Shatter. If you untap with a freaking Bosh in play, that should be all she wrote, though. Attack for thirty-seven, then sacrifice a few artifacts to deal the last twenty-four.
Those of you who have been faithful readers of mine since the first installment will probably have noticed a recurrent theme: large, cost-efficient monsters that can’t be shattered are ______.
To fill in the blank, choose a word from the following word bank, or perhaps add one of your own: gas, fresh, insane, d-infi-g, hot, sick, Travis, tight, retarded, adequate.
For my next article, I think I’ll just make a worksheet. Print it out and circle the answers in study hall while you daydream about the nice lady in the Fountains of Wayne video. [That would be Rachel Hunter. – Knut] You’ll get to use the Slogger’s ability once or twice in the course of a game, depending on when you draw it. Don’t shy away from using its ability, but be careful not to deck yourself. Like Geordie already said, don’t be hesitant to use this for fear that you’ll mill away your Warhammer or whatever. Cards in the deck are just potential resources. They don’t count as an actual loss unless you run completely out of spells, or in the extreme case, completely out of all cards.
I wanted to compare this to a souped-up Icatian Javelineer for no reason whatsoever, but since it didn’t really fit in anywhere, here seems like as good a place as any to say it.
Here we have the best common removal spell in the format. Normally, this would be said about a Black card of some sort – Cruel Revival or Agonizing Demise, perhaps. It’s just the nature of the beast. Terror can kill a greater percentage of quality creatures than Shatter can, but it is Shatter’s versatility that makes it such a high pick. I maintain that this is better than Electrostatic Bolt for the reason that it can kill a greater variety of threats.
Both can kill artifact creatures with toughness four or lower. Whereas Bolt can kill colored creatures with toughness two or less, Shatter can kill enormous artifact creatures, Shards, Icy, and all manner of Equipment. That’s a more important function in this block. That’s not to say I wouldn’t think about taking Electrostatic Bolt over Shatter number three, but hey – those are the choices you want to be able to make.
A lot of the time, you’ll find that you’ve worked your way into a creature stall with your opponent at a precariously low life total. This can keep your opponent from getting back in the game by dealing the last crucial points of damage. What’s that? It kills the artifact too? My word. Then I suppose it can deal tons of damage by removing a blocker or other nuisance in addition to sort of being an X-spell.
I’m not going to mince words any longer. This does everything Shatter does coupled with the huge added bonus of direct damage, but I value it lower than Shatter because it can be pretty expensive and doesn’t have the same surprise value that Shatter has. Here’s the part where I make a futile attempt to encourage you to voice your opinions in the forum: Would you take Shatter or Detonate?
Everything that applies to an unequipped Spikeshot applies to this, except for the Shard’s inability to handle Tel-Jilad Chosen of course. It makes your opponent hesitant to attack because of the likelihood of disadvantageous (is that a word, Teddy? [Word says yes, while I’m indifferent. – Knut]) trades, and it goes to work at his life total during the stalemate it helps create. This runs a solid third in the Shard Power Rankings, a comfortable distance behind Crystal and Skeleton.
I can’t seem to pass this card. I took it over Betrayal of Fresh first pick, first pack recently (a mistake), since I’d had bad experiences with waiting on the mana to play Betrayal. The Bolt will never let you down, though. It kills nearly every common creature in the set for the low, low price of a single Red mana. Here’s where I would normally go through the list of some of the things it could kill to fill up some space, just in case you rode the short bus to school or whatever.*
I’ll forego that this time and pose a few questions. Have you ever killed a Skyhunter Cub or Spikeshot in response to an attempt at equipping? Or maybe killed one of an opponent’s creatures that’s trying to gangblock your Fangren Hunter? That is some serious tempo and/or card advantage. Basically what I’m trying to say is that it’s an instant. A Red instant. For one mana. So you can play it at any time. For one Red mana.
As long as you have six or so artifacts, which just about every deck does, you’ll probably be able to cast this freely. Five damage is quite a bit, especially for two mana. Naturally, it’s best to sacrifice something that was going to die anyway, thus negating the card disadvantage. More often than not, this ends up simply being a finisher, just a cheaper version of Lava Axe. If that were all it could do, it would be a bit lower on the list.
If we weren’t solidly in the zone of controversy already, we may very well be there now. I will always love cheap direct damage that can target creatures or players, even more so than giant fat monsters that do things when they damage your opponent. (If you’ve never seen Mirrodin before, that will make sense in a minute).
No matter what format you’re playing in, cards that can trade straight-up for problem creatures are early picks and excellent additions to your deck. In those rare situations where two damage (or the threat thereof) isn’t useful enough, you can sacrifice it for a card. I think everyone agrees that this is inferior to Electrostatic Bolt, as being able to kill three- and four-toughness artifact men is more important than the option of going to the nug for two.
The poor man’s Shatter/Detonate/Deconstruct, this will sometimes be better than any of those cards if you happen to have plenty of mana. It serves as a moderately-sized beater until a problematic artifact comes along. Sometimes you’ll be able to get a solid two-for-one by blocking, putting damage on the stack, then sacrificing it to kill something. As you probably figured out, the reason something this masterful is so low is that it’s pretty expensive to activate. Sometimes your opponent will be able to kill it or overwhelm you with other cards by the time you get the mana available to kill their creature or Shard.
It’s enormous, it’s not an artifact, and if they don’t block it, you can kill their best silver card. This is clearly an excellent card. What with mana Myrs and Talismans, this can sometimes come out swinging as early as turn 5. It is so large that, barring equipment, this will trade for two of your opponent’s creatures. This is the section of the article where I remind you to be mindful of your mana curve. Cards like this are just fine as long as you have an early game.
Speaking of early game, this is another example of”good early, good late.” When to sacrifice and when not? When to attack or when to hold back? Well, explaining the intricacies of the ‘tog is a formidable task, but basically keep two things in mind.
First, which artifacts can you afford to trade for what your opponent is blocking or attacking with? Second, what does your opponent think you are willing to sacrifice? If you aren’t willing to trade your Ancient Den for a Frogmite, but your opponent isn’t willing to trade his Frogmite for your Den either, you are free to attack or block. The threat of its activation is blah blah et cetera. Never forget the blah blah et cetera.
Mana Myrs are insane. Try to pick up at least two of them, preferrably on-color, for just about every deck. Play your large monsters before they play theirs. Man, Mirrodin decks can be sorta like the old Fires decks sometimes. Play a bunch of mana acceleration and hope that your turn three Rustmouth Ogre sticks, because it’s all you have.
The Hematite Golem has a considerable back end and is quite a force to be reckoned with once you untap. It’s an excellent way to use your late game mana. Like with Rustmouth Ogre, your opponent may be forced to double block this in order to avoid taking huge amounts of damage. Because of its essentially limitless power, the only common problems for this card are the Tel-Jilad creatures.
I actually prefer this to Hematite Golem, but sadly, the Golem is generally better. Nothing makes me happier than going first, playing a turn 2 Myr, then attacking for three on turn 3 before the opponent has anything to block this. Get your opponent on the defensive early. Swing for the fences and let them do all the thinking. Someone wrote an article or something on turning ’em sideways and making your opponent deal with ’em… it was either Mike Flores or Ayn Rand, I dunno.**
Like the King says, this guy is what Limited Magic is all about: you and your opponent beating the black tar out of each other with big, dumb, clunky, overcosted creatures. Antonino would agree; he wrote about how much he loves the 3/3 for five mana in a recent Limited article. This man in particular doesn’t die to Electrostatic Bolt or Shatter, and he can be rather tricky for a non-Green mage to block. Don’t take him too early, but show him a little respect, would ya?
On turn 2, especially on the play, this guy is nearly unstoppable. He can grow to epic proportions before your opponent can find something to match its size. Unfortunately, you have to have it and two Red sources in your first eight or nine cards to do this, and that won’t happen too often. Later on, it’s still a haste creature, which can throw off your opponent’s math. Sometimes you’ll have to equip it later on to get it through; other times your opponent will simply have nothing to block with. I like the Slith ability a lot, but the Sliths begin their lives as fragile little things.
This isn’t a bomb, people. I said that already. It’s more useful in sealed, which is more about card advantage and late game stalls. In draft, this is clunky and erratic. It’s certainly not a consistent way to kill creatures. If you’re using it to that effect, you’ve spent an initial four mana and an additional three to say”oh pls.”
Sometimes your wish is granted, but usually not.
It’s better in conjunction with Spikeshot or Granite Shard and other assorted burn; once you see how much the Belcher hits for, you can finish the target off with your other damage sources. I managed to win a game at Grand Prix: Kansas City this way; I had some backup, but the Charbelcher decided not to miss at all for that one game, so the extra burn reserves were unnecessary. It’s better still as a way to break through creature stalemates; given enough time, this will eventually kill your opponent. I’m not gonna lie though, it’s probably at its best in your trade binder.
This is sort of like a common Atog. The threat of its activation will allow it through for plenty of damage, and you can remove your own artifacts with it to get around Relic Bane, Neurok Spy, or Domineer. This is a higher pick if you have a ton of artifacts, particularly expendable ones like Myr Retriever and the lands. In most decks, the three-drop slot can go underrepresented, though; most decks want to play a mana Myr on turn 2 and skip right to the four-drops. That isn’t much of an argument against it. Don’t let people try to convince you there’s something horribly wrong with playing something that costs three on turn 3, even though you have four mana available. We are beginning to get into sketchy territory, though; you probably won’t be too happy to play two of these unless you have the artifact deck.
I’ve been hearing quite a few good things about this man lately. My guess is that he’s largely deck dependent, since there are a few stringent criteria that must be met before you can even put him into play. Additionally, he will frequently be a”win more” card, since if you’re getting through for notable amounts of damage, what do you need the extra guy for?
That said, if you have a number of pingers, or if you can get through once or twice with other dudes before your window closes, War Elemental could be the creature for you. He doubles in size every time he hits! There’s something to be said for 14/14 creatures. Keep in mind that you’ll probably want ten Red sources to play this. Keep in mind also that you can play this without having damaged your opponent, stack its ability, and deal 1 to him with a Spikeshot, Longbow, or whatever; the War Elemental will live and will get a counter.
In the ideal case, you’ll drop a turn 3 Warhammer, a turn 4 Sword of Kaldra, and then this on turn 5, ready to scoop those and your opponent’s equipment up. Guesses on how frequently this occurs? That’s right; most of the time it’s going to be a 2/2 haste man for five that steals a Slagwurm Armor or – if today’s your lucky day – a Bonesplitter. After one attack, your opponent gets to move his flair back to his own creatures. He may not even bother if one of said pieces of flair is a Vulshok Gauntlets.
As long as you have a Grunt or an Atog or something, play this. Scoop them up in great quantities if you have a lot of these cards, a Myr Incubator, or an Affinity build. I nearly lost to an odd Affinity deck on Magic Online yesterday. Its contents included: tons of artifact lands of all colors, at least two Frogmites, at least two Tooth of Chiss-Goria, Dragon Blood, Spikeshot, Myr Enforcer, Mindstorm Crown, Chromatic Sphere, Annul, Shrapnel Blast, Nim Shrieker… It was a motley crew of cards that worked alarmingly well together. I literally had to topdeck Platinum Angel on the last possible turn to save my lame ass.
25.Trash for Treasure
Define”coincidence.” Here, let me try. I was doing a Magic Online draft, examining the Trash for Treasure in my pack and debating taking it, when MODO crashed. See explanation below, if necessary.***
As with Fabricate, the value of this card goes up depending on the rest of your deck. If you have a lot of Trash (artifact lands, Yotian Soldiers, etc) and a lot of Treasure (Pentavus, Crystal Shard), this will be a welcome addition. In the draft where I nearly lost to toothy Frogmites, I picked a foil one of these pick 7 first pack. My deck was going badly, I had nothing for it, and I was sort of on tilt.
Next pack, I opened an Icy. Pack three, I revealed the full extent of my mastery to the world when I not only opened Platinum Angel, but also was passed Bosh. Sometimes, God doesn’t close a door without opening an even bigger door. Needless to say, I ran the Trash for Treasure; I never got to Trash either of my bomb rares into play, though.
26.Forge[/author] Armor”][author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] Armor
I have mixed feelings about this card. If executed properly, it makes for an excellent combat trick, killing one of your opponent’s creatures and leaving a huge behemoth in its wake. It’s good in response to artifact removal, but that requires leaving five mana untapped. Five mana plus an artifact plus the card itself isn’t exactly a meager investment. Depending on what you sacrifice, the target creature may not get that much larger; depending on what you target, it will still be vulnerable to Terror or Shatter. This card has a combo-ish feel to it; I probably wouldn’t maindeck it unless I had some cute ways to use the power/counter boost like Spikeshot Goblin or Triskelion.
27.Fists of the Anvil
I hate this card since it’s a one-time effect that doesn’t grant a toughness bonus. Even if it gave +4/+1, there would be a chance you could use it to save a creature from combat damage or a removal spell. As it is, there are two options with this card. First, two-for-one yourself by taking down an enemy creature. Second, if you manage to get a creature past your opponent’s defenses, this is four to the skull. Not a very efficient use of a card. Only play this if your deck is ultra-aggressive and filled with evasion, very very bad, or hurting for that last Isochron Scepter target… or if you have twelve Yotian Soldiers or a lot of regenerators. But don’t be happy.
I like this guy a lot more than I should. This is partly because I like Grid Monitor and Rust Elemental more than I should, and it’s good to have a way to get those off the table. It kills itself with the first activation, but if you stack several activations in a row, you can wrath away a lot of ground creatures. Rarely will this result in card advantage for you, since you’re losing all those artifacts plus your own ground guys. He’s a good target for a turn 2 Bonesplitter, and he’s a nice foil for Myr Incubator. Board this in if your opponent has non-flying threats you need to kill but have no other answers for. Generally, this is the gambit of a desperate man.
You could make this work in some sort of jank deck with tons of these and tons of Fists of the Anvil. Steal wins from the real decks with lightning fast starts! This guy is also very good with Bonesplitter since his toughness doesn’t matter so much in creature combat. With that in mind, he’s number twenty-nine for a reason, and if your opponent plays this, kick back, relax, and enjoy your free win.
As you can see, we’re solidly in the realm of cards you probably don’t want to maindeck. This card really doesn’t do enough in a format that rarely hinges on balanced creature combat. It’s a good stall-breaker if you have plenty of creatures out, removing all of an opponent’s blockers for a turn and probably killing some of them. It doesn’t do a thing if you and your opponent don’t both have a few men in play, and even then its effect is negligible. I’m sure some of you have some success stories with it since it’s not completely unplayable, but its inclusion is the sign of a mediocre deck.
This would be playable if you gained control of the creature when you cast it. This may be playable in certain decks that have a few ways to repeatedly target something. Since your opponent may also have such effects, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the Loyalty. Cards that do nothing on their own rarely warrant consideration.
32.Confusion in the Ranks
If your opponent’s deck is much better than yours (which naturally is a Bad Position to Be In), and this is your only out, sideboard it in and prepare for wackiness. This comboes with Nuisance Engine, everyone’s favorite low-end uncommon, unless of course I misread it. I think it’s”comes into play.” Heck, they could just take your Nuisance Engine. What I’m trying to say is, save it for casual magic, I think. Something tells me someone may find a way to make this masterful…
This costs you a card and affects both players. It can be more of a drawback than an advantage since you don’t know what your opponent has. There may be some decks where you’d want to try it out, for instance, decks where you can ambush your opponent with Woebearer or Rustmotuh Ogre. Strictly symmetrical cards are still”questionable.” If you want this effect, let your opponent play it.
Your opponent will just play another land. Besides, there are tons of nonland mana sources in this format. I wouldn’t even play this if I had eight of them. Bring it in only if your opponent has two Stalking Stones.
Good players don’t flip coins… unless they’re cheating. If you play this I will see to it that you get suspended… then you can play it all you want in casual matches. If you have no other outs – that is, you’re playing someone like J.T.Money or Carbon Monoxide on Magic Online and you figure you have less than a 12.5% chance of winning – bring this in, flip it three times, and hope for the best. You were going to lose anyway; this gives you a chance. It would be an extremely rare circumstance where you would want to reduce the game we all love into a glorified version of MLB Showdown, though.
Costs you a card for a temporary boost of two mana. Play a mana Myr or Talisman for a permanent boost. There’s no excuse for this. That said, I’m not surprised that those wacky, sneaky Japanese gamers broke this in constructed.
*Not my usual brand of”humor,” but apparently my core audience members don’t have the most refined tastes.
**a subtle distinction to be sure
***Not an honor student, are ya?