Ask Ken, 04/21/2004

A friend of mine made the horrendous first pick overall of Spikeshot Goblin over the far better spell, Shrapnel Blast. I was wondering what your thoughts on the matter were, I mean, which card is better?

Wow it would seem I have gone and stirred up another hornet’s nest. Well these are the kind of issues that we tackle here at Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. I want it cleared up that I was again wrong in my assessment from Monday. The answer in question is that of the declaration of the attack. The judge made an improper ruling, the great Stephen King made an illegal play, and I was just plain wrong. We all make mistakes people, let’s move on and answer a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s question comes to us from Michael Churchill of Buffalo, NY. The descendent of the great Winston had this to say:

Mr. Krouner….

recently in a 2 on 2 money draft a friend of mine made the horrendous first pick overall of spikeshot goblin OVER the far better spell shrapnel blast.  i was wondering what your thoughts on the matter were, i mean, which card is better?  i am of the firm and staunch belief that the blast is by far superior to the goblin, especially first-pick, first pack.  am i i just deluded to think that the blast is better, or am i right, and my friend just mispicked???  thanx so much for your sagely advice on this most pressing issue.

M. Churchill from Buffalo

Well Mike, it would seem a love of 1R Instants runs in your family. Of course, it would seem your tastes are slightly higher class than your brother’s. Not that I have anything against Fists of the Anvil, but Shrapnel Blast is Filet Minion and Fists is the fat many people trim off their steak, but a precious few love.

Your friend in this draft was horribly mistaken. I discussed this favorite of mine in a previous Ask Ken. While this answer referred to Constructed, the same pro hang-ups hold true for Limited.

Shrapnel Blast is not an elegant card. It does one thing and it does it well, and it costs you an extra card to do it. The fact of the matter is that this card kills nearly every creature in the format and often kills a player. With the existence of Artifact Lands, the drawback on this card is even more minuscule.

Your friend was simply wrong in this case. I don’t take Spikeshot Goblin over Electrostatic Bolt, most times and I will even take Shatter over it. What happened was Spikeshot Goblin, while he was in development, hired himself a great PR guy. The PR guy convinced R&D to release him in Mirrodin, right after most players had just had their last morph killed by a Sparksmith. With this fresh in everyone’s mind, Spikeshot was considered a bomb.

Now don’t get me wrong. Spikeshot is a fantastic card in a fantastic color. But it was way over-hyped.

Short answer: Shrapnel Blast.

The source on card valuation,


Well folks, I bet you were hoping that I would give more info on the Pat Chapin story, but I can’t do that. I am truly sorry. What I can tell you is that Shrapnel Blast is pure octane. Tomorrow we have another special guest, so tune in! G’night Everybody!

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Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. Yesterday’s article sparked a lot of response. The best player in the world and one of the top judges in the U.S. disagreed with my take on the issue, but I would like to get input from more judges. It’s not that I don’t trust Sheldon, it is just that I am prejudiced against facial hair. Perhaps this will all get ironed out, but for now let’s take a look at a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s question comes to us all the way from Pittsburgh where local Andrew Brown writes:

Hey Ken,

Whatever happened to Pat Chapin?


Thanks for the question, Andy. This is a topic very close to my heart, as Pat is one of my closest friends. If there is one thing I am certain of in this crazy, mixed-up world, it is that Pat Chapin loves the game of Magic.

While Pat pops on and off the Magic radar all the time, when he does rear his head, he always makes some noise. He is currently on hiatus after his job with Wizards fell through, but the man famous for Top 8 PTLA 2000 and making his own set for his friends to draft with assures me that he will return and will be ready to take on the pro tour.

And when Pat Chapin makes a statement, it is always level headed, controlled and accurate. If he says he’ll be back, you can bet your bottom dollar he will be.

The source on Magic pros past, present and future,


Well, I hope you are all up to speed on one of the true greats in the game. Join us tomorrow, when I return to the topic I feel I know best: Draft picks. For those of you who know what today is, I want you to enjoy it. For those that don’t, I’m sure you aren’t missing anything. For those of you in Amsterdam, I am pretty sure it is a national holiday. Wherever you are, happy 20th of April! G’night everybody!

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The weeks just seem to be flying by here at Ask Ken. The e-mails keep coming and I keep answering them. Some of you may have noticed some older e-mails going up here. That’s right, I save them all, and just because it doesn’t go up right away doesn’t mean it won’t get answered, it just means I don’t really know the answer and it’ll take me a bit longer to make up something plausible. Anyway this is Ask Ken, and I’m your host, ken Krouner. I just had a great idea, let’s open a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from Stephen King. The master of horror writes:

At GP Columbus, during round 5, I was playing this guy who clearly just wasn’t that good. He had 0 byes, he lost game one largely in part to him forgetting that Blinkmoth Nexus required a mana to pump itself (actually, I think you were sitting right there laughing about it), and we were in the middle of game 3. He had out a Leonin Bola that was negating my Sword of Light and Shadow, and had Betrayaled my Pentavus. Now, the only way I’m winning this game is if I can get back Pentavus with the Sword, and his only flyer is white. So I say”attack”, he taps a random myr, then I use it for mana and put the Sword on my Arcbound Stinger. He screams”judge” so loud that Mark Zajdner almost has a heart attack, and the judge of course rules in my favor. Pentavus wins the game.

Now, was this a baggy thing to do? He clearly wasn’t very good, didn’t realize I could do it, and was extremely pissed that I did for the rest of the match. I don’t really feel bad about it, since he should know the rules at a GP in the x-0 bracket, but I’m just curious about what others might think.


Stephen King

Well Spooks McClooks, I was in fact sitting next to you. I actually realized after the match something else about that infamous Blinkmoth Nexus block. It was a gang block on a creature with Sword of Light and Shadow attached and one of the blocking creatures was a Leonin Den-Guard! Sadly, I didn’t realize this until sometime long after the match.

As for the second part of this little tale, I am not really sure what to make of it. My competitive side tells me this joker got what he deserved, but my moral compass takes issue with it. I think it was pretty clear what he intended to do. In my social circles the phrase”inside your attack step before you attack…” has become assumed, with the much more rare”before your attack step” becoming necessary to be said explicitly. I don’t think it was that he was unaware that he could tap inside your attack, but rather was just sloppy.

So now the question becomes should you capitalize on his sloppiness. My answer is that it is up to you. I personally won’t judge you if you choose to do it the way you did here in the future. I personally would probably not do it, but I have lost much of my competitive drive.

So no, Mr. King, I do not think you were a bag.

The source on dilemmas, draft and moral,


That’s all the time we have for today. Join us tomorrow when we look into the future of one of the greats of the game who is bidding us farewell. G’night Everybody!

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