An Ode to Tallowisp – Snow Dad

I have found I am willing to pay 2-3 tix for a good card that goes in a lot of decks, and only about .5 tix for narrow cards. There are some good, fun, narrow cards — like, say, Heartbeat of Spring or Weird Harvest — that are only really good in one or two decks. Phyrexian Arena? Sure! Early Harvest? Get bent! Which is why when you find an uncommon that lets you build around it, you cherish that card. You cherish it with all of you that there is.

Tallowisp… I’m going to miss you, brotha.

A friend once told me that the coolest thing he’s ever done was to lie on his back, on acid, watching the snow as it fell down towards him. Watching as the mind interpreted new details, seeing music in the tumbling stars, feeling beautiful landscapes as they landed on his cheek, immobile and silent, needing nothing more than to live this short-lived experience. Beauty, in a twinkling moment between normalcies.

This friend lived in New Zealand, so I’m not surprised he needed drugs to keep himself entertained. But there was something about the way he spoke on the matter. I know many people who have a friend like him. Not markedly older or anything, just from such a different walk of life that his experiences were sudden and worthy and interesting in all new ways to me. We met through playing Pokemon RBY, if you can believe it.

This man — like many other friends I had at the time — was drawn to the competition angle, as was I. Many an afternoon was wasted on mIRC, smashing through leagues with random crap like Pidgeot and Dunsparce, digging up tech like the Counter-Hidden Power Trick, and getting clauses in the common rulebook named after us.

As Land Destruction is to Prismatic, so Double Team was to gsBot.

I wonder how he’s doing, now that I’ve lost contact with the guy. I realise I’m still doing the same thing — we’d play Magic, over AIM, unable to find a decent program that didn’t run like ass (I’m looking at you, Apprentice). I’m looking for ways to create, in the context of the games I play. I like making new decks — a lot — and playing those decks sometimes is a real bore. However, with my limited collection, I have to make do — I have to engineer things around cards as many times as possible.

To this end, I have found I am willing to pay 2-3 tix for a good card that goes in a lot of decks, and only about .5 tix for narrow cards. There are some good, fun, narrow cards — like, say, Heartbeat of Spring or Weird Harvest — that are only really good in one or two decks. Phyrexian Arena? Sure! Early Harvest? Get bent!

Which is why when you find an uncommon that lets you build around it, you cherish that card. You cherish it with all of you that there is.

Tallowisp… I’m going to miss you, brotha.

Ghost Dad really burst onto the scene, and was an amazingly fun deck to play. Anyone who wants to talk about Mortify versus Pillory of the Sleepless, please, go the hell away, I cannot be bothered to deal with you spouting Mike Flores, especially when the point’s irrelevant. No, Ghost Dad was fun, which helped push Tallowisp into my mind.

Tallowisp soon flees Standard’s relative safety and enters the dangerous wilds of Extended, where, chances are, it’s going to suck. Before it does, I’d like to present this little tribute to the two-drop that could, and maybe talk about what Extended offers.

It’s been a while in my books — I started on it before Dissension was released, looking for a skeleton I could flesh out later. One of my earlier articles — never submitted, for I could not complete it with all the hidden messages I wanted — was dealing with this transitional time. However… a single phrase burst the idea out of my memory, lured by the writings of the man who is fast overtaking Richard Feldman as my favorite writer on this site.

Even better, it was in an article that ridiculed basically everyone, including, I think, me (let’s face it, Jeff Cunningham calling me a tool is pretty believable). The man, the master, the motivation for this morass of mismatched mess is none other than Pat Chapin. And the deck… is Snow Dad.

It’s Like A Crawdad

Pat Chapin may joke, but this deck is fun. It’s rare that I can put together a rare-free deck and then find myself scratching my head for what rares I’d add if I could afford them. A humming little arcane engine, decent-to-good removal — all I can see the deck wants is expensive lands. And even then, not too many of them, for fear of diluting the Snow theme.

A deck with twenty creatures, twenty-three lands, four counterspells (well, “six”) and seven Auras is probably not going to scare anyone overmuch, but you do, much like Ghost Dad, have great game against aggressive decks. Your bears trade with theirs, or better yet, your two-drops block theirs. You can gain large slabs of life, and sit behind a wall of light countermagic and opposition-stifling ‘removal’, while picking away for two a turn.

Azorius Herald, however, has this amazing ability. It’s called the ability to block and kill a creature with two toughness.

People are way too precious about their Heralds! If he sits in front of a Ninja of the Deep Hours, or on Okiba-Gang Shinobi, then he’s effectively gained you six life and drawn you a card, for 1UW. We used to play Renewed Faith for one of those two effects!

Richard Feldman taught me this lesson with Withered Wretch, and the casual room needs to learn it with Azorius Herald. Special abilities on a creature don’t mean d*ck if you’re not alive to use them.

Secretkeeper plays the role of the Ghost Council of Orzhova in this deck. As understudies go, that’s pretty embarrassing a drop-off, I know. But your hand is usually crammed full in this deck, and the Keeper himself, courtesy of Tallowisp, doesn’t cost you a card — it can be very easy to keep ahead of an opponent’s hand-size, and in doing so, have a broad-butted four-power flier on deck to crunch some faces.

Gelid Shackles is one of the only disappointing parts of the deck. It’s in there as a one-mana Faith’s Fetters — turning off Guildmages and other board-wreckers. But no lies, if I could get a version that didn’t demand playing a snow mana every upkeep, I would. My kingdom for Arrest.

Of course, no deck would earn a place in one’s heart without an appropriately stupid blowout story. Mine with this deck came from a game that featured an opponent ramping up into a Verdant Force — and using that to hold the board.

Tallowisp went for Pacifism, then Followed Footsteps.

Several upkeeps later, I had more saprolings than he did, and more Verdant Forces than he did. It was a fun board position, but one ultimately ended by the use of Infiltrator’s Magemark and Indomitable Will on a pair of Force tokens. Fun times, fun times indeed.

Followed Footsteps is the only rare in the deck, and it’s… mediocre. It’s only there for the kind of games where you need to play long resource wars, and is often best followed up by an Infiltrator’s Magemark, to keep the creature in question safe. While I have had a game that ran this way — with the subject being a Ninja of the Deep Hours — it’s nonetheless never going to work against decent opponents.

Every single color has ways to screw this deck. Black kills the men, Red kills the men, Blue bounces the men, and White kills all the men. Green, well, I suppose Green can kill the enchantment. Yay Green!

If I were to add cards to the sideboard of this deck, the most obvious would be to add something to replace the Shackles and Pacifism against a deck that’s not running creatures — or are running creatures readily and easily protected. Against Keiga or the like, Pacifism is great — but against Meloku it’s a bit disappointing. Plus, there are decks that will idly counter or remove the enchantment once it hits.

I’ve noticed that against Keiga or Meloku, the Shackles and the Pacifisms are actually decent. So against any deck that wants to hold the ground with a Keiga or the like, you want more Pacifisms. So, with this in mind, the Sideboard wants:

Versus Blue-based control with ridiculous fat-butts to stag the ground:
+2 Pacifism

Versus Anything with Giant Solifuges, or a small creature base:
+4 remove soul

Versus Combo Decks that rely on Enchantments:
+4 Scour

Versus Decks That Have Lots of Vital Early Plays:
+4 Spell Snare

Versus Decks That Have Basically No Removal No Really Like That One:
+1 Glacial Plating

What comes out? Well, the Pacifisms would want to replace Indomitable Wills, in any deck where they’re a matter. If my opponent’s playing a slow, controlling deck that packs a lot of power plays with the Solifuge as a general win condition to close the game while they keep the board clear, then the Remove Souls would want to be in place of the Gelid Shackles. Gelid Shackles’s constant upkeep would do the same thing, more or less, after all.

Spell Snare is a necessary evil. If you’re up against a Ghost Dad, Orzhova Maxima or similar deck, Spell Snare will steal you lots of games just by making Dark Confidant rack off, and turn hands that are Clear Keepers into Piles of Crap. It can also slow down things like Boomerang land disruption strategies, or so on.

Scour… well, Mike Flores article on Scour Power is free now. Seriously. Read it.

And all of this information is useful for all of… a fortnight, or so, by now?

Greener Pastures*

When the deck rotates, it gains few new spirits of note… hell, does it gain any spirits of note? Gods. It does however, gain Persuasion, which is everything both Krovikan Whispers and Followed Footsteps wish they could be, and Arrest, which can displace the Pacifisms and the Gelid Shackles. Unquestioned Authority could find a home, not that I’d be holding my breath, and so could Serra’s Embrace. The main adjustments would be in slimming down the toolbox into more four-ofs, though.

I really wish Strength of Isolation protected from Red, rather than from Black. However, with this setup, you have more reliable “creature removal,” and control elements that can afford to be a little bit more solid. If I might reach out and touch the face of the sun, I would also replace Remand with Absorb — but there is no chance I’ll ever test the deck with those in them.

The only “madness” outlet for the Strength is an opponent’s discard, or end of turn discard. However, given the amount of draw and the propensity of this deck to commit few cards to the board, don’t be surprised if you wind up Madnessing a Strength of Isolation into play a few times.

The Rare count is higher. You might pay something in the district of eight to nine tickets for this version of the deck — possibly more if you’ve never drafted Coldsnap (do it, it’s fun).

So that’s Snow Dad. I love the deck, and will bid it a fond farewell, as the format rotates in a few scant days. Kamigawa was a great block, and I’m going to miss it. To hell with the haters.

Finally, a question to the readers. During these pre-TS periods, all of us writers scrabble for material. We tend to postulate, or theorize, or, if we’re Sean McKeown, produce great articles on basically no information at all. The bastard. Anyway, this left me in a bit of flux, because I had no idea what those people who read me would actually want to be reading right now.

I mean… aside from Time Spiral stuff.

So what’s on your mind? If you’re this far down, I’m going to assume you actually enjoy my writing (or, like OMC, are doing community service). So what would you like to see me talk about? What interests you about what I’m doing? What am I doing right, and what am I doing wrong?

Just asking.

Hugs and Kisses,
Talen Lee
Talen at dodo dot com dot au

* This joke assumes that green is the powerhouse color I’m hearing it is in Extended. Anyone? Buehler? Buehler? Buehler?

PS. This is a really, really random aside, but it’s worth mentioning. If, like me, you like free computer games, go head and check out FullyRamblomatic.Com. The work of one Benjamin “Yatzhee” Croshaw is worthy of more people’s attention — and honest to god, after playing through Trilby’s Notes, Five Days and Seven Days, I found myself overwhelmed by a desire to see to it that more people played these games.

Professional quality games may look prettier. Perhaps I am overly easy on these games because they speak to a time in my youth where not being able to spell “apple” correctly was a game-ending play error. But these games scared the hell out of me, and the man’s dialogue and characterization are fantastic.