Ask Ken, 03/25/2004

Looking over the Pro Tour: Kobe decklists, Shrapnel Blast wasn’t in the majority of Affinity decks. Can you use your insider pro knowledge to let me know why it didn’t get played?

Since I know you all can’t get enough of it, I decided to deliver my words of wisdom for yet another column. I realized that I had been somewhat lacking in my Constructed content. Well, this is mostly due to the fact that I suck at Constructed with no consistent group of testing partners. But enough of my Magical woes, it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s Question comes to us from Mark. Mark writes:

Hey Ken,

I wasn’t surprised to see R/B Affinity dominating PT-Kobe, but I do have some questions about the omission of Shrapnel Blast from the bulk of the Affinity decks. To my non-pro mind, the best cards in the deck are:


Disciple of the Vault

Arcbound Ravager

Shrapnel Blast

But looking over the decklists, the blast wasn’t in the majority of affinity decks. Can you use your insider pro knowledge to let me know why it didn’t get played?


Well Mark, Shrapnel Blast fell victim to what I like to call the Fireblast syndrome. If you look at Red beatdown decks from a long time ago, especially those played by pros, you’ll find that they did not include Fireblast. This changed after Visions was released, and Fireblast printed.

Even still, Fireblast was not a favorite card among Pros for a long time. Pros are fixated on card advantage, and they rarely want to give this up for damage. As time passed, it became painfully (and I mean painfully) obvious that Fireblast was a good card.

I am expecting a similar reaction to Shrapnel Blast. Shrapnel Blast is a Fireblast for the new millennium. Learn to love it, because it will be the most powerful damage card for a long time.

While I am not convinced it belongs in your list with the other three cards, there is no denying that Shrapnel Blast is more powerful than it was given credit for in Kobe.

The source for syndromes ailing the pro community,


That’s all the time we have for today, join us tomorrow when we explore the mysterious link at the end of Osyp’s column. G’night everybody!

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Welcome back to another edition of Ask Ken. If you want a place to be mired in controversy, you have found the right spot. As much as I know you all love hearing about my scandal and intrigue, what you really love are my answers to a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from Doron Blake of Portland, Oregon. Doron writes:

Hey Ken,

I read today’s question about Team Sealed, and I have a follow-up inquiry. I also plan on attending the team sealed PTQ, and I was wondering if you had any suggestions about the relative power level of the three decks you build. I’ve heard some suggest that it’s best to build two strong decks and one weaker deck – do you advocate this strategy, or would you recommend trying to build decks of even power?


Doron Blake

Portland, OR

This is a much debated topic on the Pro Tour. The Brockafellers (Huey, Linde, and Brock) worked under the philosophy of building two strong decks and a weaker one, giving the weakest deck to Huey, since he was the best player.

I have some bad news for you though: you aren’t Huey. Could you be Huey if you practiced enough? No. Could you be Huey if you studied his game and tried to copy it? No. Is someone you’re teaming with Huey, and good enough to give a weak deck to? No.

See, this worked for the Brockafellers because they had a team member who was going to be better than 99% of the people he could possibly play against. Giving Huey the handicap of a weak deck wasn’t as detrimental as it would be for an average player.

I think that unless your card pool is so weak that you have no choice, you should build decks that are close in power level. Even under this strategy, you will likely have a”weakest deck.” This deck should go to your best player. The long and short of it is, you have to win two matches out of three. If you give one of your players a weak deck, then the onus is on the remaining two players to win both of their matches every round.

The source for team strategy,


I am sure your brain is full after reading all of the glorious things posted on this site today. I just hope to be a delicious dessert. Join me tomorrow when I discuss a piece of card selection in the most played deck in Kobe. G’night Everybody!


Welcome back to another action-packed edition of Ask Ken. When we last left our hero, he was alluding to an answer about Good Man of the Week in response to a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s question comes to us from Filthy McNasty. Filthy writes:

Dear Ken Krouner,

how come you dont write articles for MiseTings any more? is it because they all suck now?


Well badguy, this one isn’t too involved. As you know, I was at best an occasional writer over at MiseTings. My last effort for them never saw print. It was a Good Man of the Week award bestowed upon Joseph Crosby, one of my dearest friends.

MiseTings editor Mike Bregoli chose to not print it, as he just didn’t find it funny. Well you can imagine how offended I was at this, given some of the articles he does post. I mean, how many times do we really need to see an article anthropomorphizing a Magic card?

Mike is a dear friend of mine, but these creative differences are what caused me to move Good Man of the Week to a small blurb on this site.

As some of you may have noticed, there was a brief appearance of the award yesterday. Well apparently I went a little too far, and since I don’t get the ratings Howard Stern does, Pete made an executive decision to pull it. The last thing I want is to get my bosses in trouble, so I am once again retiring the weekly award. Hope it won’t be missed too much.

The source for Magic gossip and scandal,


Well folks that’s about all the time I have for today. Tune in tomorrow when I talk a little more about Team Sealed strategy. With the new season almost upon us, you can never get too much info. G’night everybody!


Well a new week is dawning and so is another action packed, fun-filled edition of Ask Ken. I am sure that the lack of a question on Friday had you all so deep in depression that you may never come out of it. A little glitch in communications fouled things up, but Friday’s question will be posted today, as I am sure you have already read!

Anyway I am babbling, so there is only one way to save my sorry ass here. I need to answer a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from that tiny island of criminals with some of the lowest crime rates in the world, Australia. Shane Dalliston writes:

GDay KK from Down Under,

I have just realised with the Team Pro Tour Seattle Qualifier approaching fast here in Melbourne that i have never played in a team sealed before so what stratagies do i have to employ to do well in such an event? I am also interested in how what stratagy you would have for the rochester finals in regards to what colours you try to force in each of your seats (or if you force at all)?

Thanx Ken.


Shane Dalliston

I think my biggest tip for Sealed is not to determine who will play what deck ahead of time. However, you should determine who has the most skill at building what decks. Each of you should take the general cards for a certain deck and begin to build. Once the decks are done for the most part, determine who will play what. This cuts down on greediness in deck building. Once the decks are in the hands of their players, final decisions on 23rd and 24th cards can be made.

The specific dividing of the colors can be tricky, especially in this format. Even trickier than that, is determining which artifacts go where. Building in this format should be more archetypal rather than color based. Look for synergies in cards rather than colors.

As for the team Rochester, the best I can tell you is to put your Black drafter on the left so he gets three picks from the Darksteel pack and your Green drafter on the right so he doesn’t miss anything from the last pack.

Above all though, keep morale up. If your partner makes a mistake, don’t dwell on it. If he sees it, great, easy to move on. If he refuses to see it, let it go. This will be difficult, but it won’t do the team any good to be fighting about it. And believe me, I know a thing or two about teammates not seeing their mistakes… I teamed with MikeyP for God’s sake!

The source for team strategy,


Don’t let that last sentence fool you, I have much love for the good doctor, but he is not a man who likes to admit he is wrong. I mean look at those outfits! I hope you all can have an enjoyable teams experience. It is a season to have fun with friends. Join us tomorrow, when I discuss why Good Man of the Week moved over here. G’night everybody!

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