Ask Ken, 04/09/2004

What deck would you take to Regionals, listing and all, and why?

Welcome to the weekend edition of Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. I know you were all looking forward to these editions because, hey, it means the weekend is here! But just because I want to relax on my Fridays doesn’t mean I don’t have time for a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from Colin Mayfield. Colin writes:

Hey Ken,

What deck would you take to Regionals, listing and all, and why? Also congrats on the apology it takes a big man to admit wrongdoing especially publicly, have you ever given a thought to taking the GMOTW title yourself?


Thanks for the question Colin, and thanks for the kind words. In truth, I am not sure the exact list I am playing at Regionals, but I would be happy to list my personal favorite right now:

4 Myr Enforcer

4 Frogmite

4 Arcbound Ravager

4 Ornithopter

4 Myr Moonvessel

4 Disciple of the Vault

4 Oxidize

4 Shrapnel Blast

4 Skullclamp

4 Welding Jar

3 Aether Vial

1 Atog

4 Glimmervoid

4 Great Furnace

4 Tree of Tales

4 Vault of Whispers

I haven’t devised a sideboard yet, but I am sure you can figure out approximately what is in it.

This brings me to a darker issue. There are people out there writing articles about other decks besides this one, and convincing you to play them. I have news for you. We are in Necro Summer, Combo Winter, or whatever else you want to compare it to. Affinity is the single most broken ability they ever made. Let’s exploit it shall we. This may not be the best list, but I assure you, Affinity is the best deck.

As for why I don’t give myself good man of the week here is a list of those who can and can’t receive the honor. As a note, Mike Long was removed from the banned list recently, and that led to his eventual receiving of the award.

The source on even Constructed,


That’s all I’ve got in the tank for this week. Join us on Monday when I take a look at the stagnant Type 2 waters. Have a good weekend Everybody!

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Hi. Thanks for joining us for another very special Ask Ken. I’m your host, Kartin’ Ken. I am going to do something a little different today by opening a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from Robbie Chan, kung-fu master and friend to Captain Solo. Robbie writes:

Hi Ken,

In your April 6th column regarding Platinum Angel you said,”Add to this the fact that Darksteel slowed the format down quite a bit.” I was under the impression that Darksteel sped up Mirrodin Block Drafts. Engineers are blazingly fast and I usually see a turn 3 Spire or Razor Golem at least once within a draft table.

Also, I was at the Borgata on March 13th, which I understood to be a component of Mike Turian bachelor party. I was surprised to see Osyp sitting at the minimum table (2/4) and that the person sitting at the highest limit (10/20) was not a Pro Tour winner but Doug Conway (congrats on his winnings). That being said, who is the best Hold’em player in CMU-TOGIT?



Thanks for your e-mail Robbie, and please don’t snap my arm off. While you did name three cards that are all rather fast, the format did indeed slow down. The format’s fastest deck was affinity. Well, this archetype took a hit with one less pack of Frogmites, Spellbombs, Myr, and Myr Enforcers. There are also slightly less artifact lands. The land-affinity Golems make the artifact lands a little more dubious to play.

The Engineer on the other hand, while a speedy card, is best in decks that are clunky. You want these guys in decks where you have Bosh, or Altar of Shadows, or things like that. This archetype of over-costed bombs used to get run over. The Engineer just makes it more viable. This deck won’t be very fast with the Engineers and even less so if you fail to draw them.

As for the trip to Atlantic City, there was no bachelor party. It was all a clever hoax to get Nick Eisel and me to hang out together. Sadly, not a word was spoken between us. Osyp is smart with money and not great at poker, so this landed him at the 2/4 table. I was playing 6/12. If I were still on the team, I would say I was the best player. In light of my departure, I believe that honor falls to Eugene Harvey.

If I were still on the team, I would say I was the best Magic player. In light of my departure I believe that honor falls to Eugene Harvey.

The source for poker and Limited,


That’s about all the time we have for Thursday. I need to make a call out to everyone to send in more questions. I haven’t really been able to address any Constructed questions as they have all been written in novel form. I need short e-mails. But please send them in. No teaser for tonight, because I am hoping something juicy will be in my inbox tomorrow. G’night Everybody!

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Welcome to hump day everybody, I’m your host, Ken Krouner, and I am here to tell you the ins and outs of the magical world. Without further ado or babbling, let’s open a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s long e-mail comes to us from Shang Mi Dangalang. Shang writes:

Hi, I was wondering about what you had to say on color placements in upcoming team drafts. I would have posted it in the forum for your article, but being as its a day or so late I figure you wouldn’t be checking that. You stated that black should go on the left and green on the right.

This seems to be the opposite of what I would expect considering protecting seating and all. One would think that since green is so shallow in Darksteel, with its only really powerful picks being tangle golem, oxidize and the rare bombs like Fangren Firstborn, you would want to place it on the left in order for it to make the most out of Darksteel (since you are passing left, seat C on the left would functionally get three first picks out of that pack). Since there is likely to be only one good green card in each pack, if green is on the right in seat A, that single good card will likely be d-drafted or taken by the other team’s green player before our green player can get their hands on it, thus leaving them with zero good picks.

Conversely, since black has many good commons, but few real bombs in darksteel, and likes artifacts anyway, wouldn’t black make for a better seat A (on the right, correct?)? After all, even when the pack comes through enemy territory and the opposing team takes a black card, there will probably still be a good card left for the black deck, unlike the green deck. It seems to me that I am missing something. shouldn’t white also avoid seat A for similar reasons to green? should blue go on the right with black?

Well Shang, and I would like to compliment you on your name, you pose a really interesting argument here. In truth, I have been theorizing with all my friends trying to figure out what is really going on in Team Rochester in this format. Conventional wisdom for Team Roch in general is that in the small sets you want the player who gets three picks drafting the best color from that set.

We all know how I feel about conventional wisdom.

The first time this theory was really challenged was in Onslaught/Legions/Scourge. Conventional wisdom would say to put the Black drafter on the right, since Black was the best color in Scourge. Well there was another popular theory that put White on the left, because it had the most powerful common, Dragon Scales.

Remembering this makes me think about the most powerful common in Darksteel, Razor Golem. The Golem is similar to Scales in a lot of ways. It is a singular card that provides both offense and defense in the early game. To this end, I think you make a valid point about putting White in the C seat.

This could work out perfectly if you split up Red and put it with the White, then with Green on the right, putting Black/Blue in the middle. While all my work has been in theory, this is where I would start your practicing.

The source for teams Rochester,


I’d love to go into more, but that would be a whole article! That’s about all the time we have today. Join me tomorrow when I explain a little more why Darksteel slowed the format down. G’night everybody!

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Hey there, it’s time for another knowledge session from yours truly. I bet you wondered how you got by in life without this column. Well luckily for all you folks out there, you don’t need to worry about that anymore. And with that, I think it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey!

I can’t seem to escape the dark cloud that was April 1. Today’s letter comes to us from Michael Chaulk. Michael writes:


What on Earth, there is no way Jackie Brown is better than either Pulp or Dogs. With that, I think your selection is better than Turian’s only because he listed Pulp Fiction so low. Personally I’d list Pulp 1st, Dogs second, From Dusk till Dawn 3rd, and Desperado 4th. Naked Selma seems above average.

I do agree with your assessments on Pulp versus Dogs though.

Question, in a draft there was of notable choice a Spikeshot and Platinum Angel first pack, first pick. I took the spikeshot, but was criticized by my peers for not taking the Angel. I was just wondering what you would have done in the given situation? There was also no other good red cards, 2 decent green cards and some playable artifacts as well.

That’s for the letter Michael. As I am sure you have learned the article was written by Josh Bennett. I want to clear up two things. First, Reservoir Dogs is significantly better than Pulp Fiction. Second, here is my pick order for movies Tarantino was associated with:

1. Dusk ’til Dawn

The ultimate guy movie. Crime, Vampires, Strippers, what the hell else could you ask for? Oh yeah, Cheech Marin triple cast!

2. Kill Bill

When I first saw this, I didn’t fully grasp its mastery. Fun, exciting, sexy, killer dialogue, and anime. Near perfect.

3. Reservoir Dogs

Probably his most intelligent piece. This movie was captivating and funny at all the right times. The soundtrack is second to none.

4. Four Rooms

Elegant in its simplicity. Two thumbs up.

5. Pulp Fiction

Don’t let its placement here fool you, this is a truly great movie. A bit over-hyped, but still a fine film.

6. Jackie Brown

It would seem Quentin can do little wrong. I enjoyed this movie despite it being at the bottom of my list.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s get into your real question. There was a time when I would have told you to slam the Goblin and not look back. Well times they are a-changin’. While the Angel is still not the easiest thing to keep on the table, it is a 4/4 flier and does say”you can’t lose the game.”

There is also something to be said about not committing to a color right away. Add to this the fact that Darksteel slowed the format down quite a bit, and Spikeshot Goblin is not the heir apparent to Sparksmith many thought it was. I think you go ahead and take Angel here.

The source on everything,


That’s all I got for today. I am getting too many demands about Team Limited, so I am going to revisit that topic again tomorrow. G’night everybody!

[email protected]


Welcome back to Ask Ken. Sorry about that little goof last week, but hey, we get to have fun too. Thanks to my fearless editor Ted Knutson for standing in with his own brand of parody of me. I wrote the first letter, the second was tended by Osyp Lebedowicz. Ted took a valiant stab at it, but now I get to read a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from Travis Severance of Rochester, NY. T-Bone writes:

Dear Ken,

I was recently reading a match report for the GP in Columbus and came up with a question that I hope you can answer for me. The match between Jordan Berkowitz and Aaron Lipczynski really sparked my curiosity. I noticed that the match was decided by a hideous card called Fists of the Anvil. In your illustrious career of Limited format tournament play, can you think of a worse instance when a pro tour caliber player was knocked out a top eight by an unknown with a card so wretched? And question two, do you think the option to play this card was made due to the player being inexperienced, I mean he had to have a better card right. It seemed Jordan made all the right blocks, so how can an aspiring player prepare himself to prevent an anomaly like this from occurring? Thanks for your time as always.

T-Bone Rochester, NY

Well T-Bone, there are several things to consider. Both players in this feature match are extremely good friends of mine. I spoke to both players, and the actual card Fists of the Anvil was irrelevant. Aaron won on the power of his Tel-Jilad Chosen, Fangren Firstborn, Arc-Slogger draw.

It is also important to note that while Aaron hasn’t established a name for himself yet, he is a very good player. The decision to add the card to his deck was not chosen lightly. It was down to that card and Battlegrowth. He felt that Fists of the Anvil was better for stealing wins, and I tend to agree with him.

That being said, there are probably few more embarrassing ways to be taken out of a tournament. You can’t stop yourself from losing to bad cards, but I highly recommend after you do, that you start yelling at the top of your lungs how bad your opponent is and inform him that if you played one hundred games you’d win ninety-nine. Feel free to offer to put money on it. [The opinions of Mister Krouner are not necessarily those of StarCityGames.com, it’s editor, or the owners of this here site here. Thank you. – Knut]

The source for spinning straw into gold,


That’s all we got for Monday’s chapter. Tune in tomorrow when I clear up some important details about April 1st. G’night everybody!

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