Ask Ken, 07/09/2004

Please settle a debate. I was playing in the semi finals of a Type Two tournament in game three against Elf and Nail. I am playing Affinity with Thirst for Knowledge and Thoughtcast. Should I have kept the following?

Closing down the week here at Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. I hope you all enjoyed the guest appearance of Iron Mike Turian yesterday. Professional Magic is a worse place without him. We’ll all miss you. Let’s go to some reader mail.

This letter is a bit dated as it was written before the banning of Skullclamp, but since two people wrote in the same question, I feel there is likely some value in answering it. Today’s question comes from Jeff Meyerson and Mason Peatross. Jeff writes:


Please settle a debate. I was playing in the semi finals of a Type Two tournament in game three against Elf and Nail. I am playing Affinity with Thirst for Knowledge and Thoughtcast. Should I have kept the following?


Arcbound Ravager

Arcbound Worker

2 Seat of the Synod

Great Furnace

Vault of Whispers

I ended up losing to a 4th turn Tooth and Nail with entwine.


Jeff Meyerson

Well Jeff, I have some bad news for you. I don’t think you can possibly keep this hand. For starters, having that many land in your opening hand in an Affinity deck is like a mulligan already. Having an opening hand that acts as a mulligan is a big strike against already. Now consider the hand and the matchup. If you were playing against Goblins, you could probably make an argument for keeping this. You can stop the early beats and have enough time to draw into something.

Elf and Nail is a different animal. This deck, if left unchecked, will essentially beat you with one card in one turn. This means you either need an answer or a lot of pressure. This hand has neither.

The reason I chose to answer this question despite it being dated is that while decks come and go, mulligan decisions are pretty consistent. Most of the time it comes down to playtesting. I not only think you mulligan this hand, I don’t think it is close.

The source on mulligans,


The PT Is starting today, hopefully you are watching my team climb in the ranks. We still don’t have a solid name as of the writing of this column, but fear not, one is forthcoming. Have a good weekend everybody!

[email protected]


Hi there!!

My question for your”Ask Ken”-column is short but spicy:

What do you think about Magic-Blogs??

With more and more people starting one (like you, JMS, heck, even Oscar Tan“You can play Type I” is one) and the increase of general weblogs all over da world. Do you think that’s the next big thing to spread the Magic-knowledge??



Why hello EvilBernd! I was so happy to hear that even though I am the guest columnist for this week’s Ask Kenneth, I am still your favorite author! I know Ken has been building up all the anticipation of his”mystery writer,” so who am I? Well, the great Potato, Mike Turian, of course!

The blogging phenomenon has swept the Magic universe for sure. In fact, the recent MagicTheGathering.com coverage from US Nationals even saw Brian-David Marshall blogging it up. Instead of dry factual coverage, blog’s are great for getting a little flavor into writing.

For instance, I composed this blog just this morning!

11:04 am: Woke Up.

12:11 pm: Woke Up again, this time actually got out of bed.

12:16 pm: Received a call from Gary Wise frantically trying to get in touch with Eugene Harvey. Apparently Eugene heard about the Portland Chili Cook-Off that was happening the same weekend as PT Seattle. No one has seen Eugene since.

12:33 pm: Ordered Pizza.

12:34 pm: Mmm, Pizza.

12:44 pm: Received a phone call from Osyp bragging about his skills as a premier Latin Dance Champion. Like I believed a word he said.

1:48 pm: KK lets me know what my guest columnist question is and then that it needs to be done by 2 pm.

So that is all the time I have for today’s question! I hope you have learned about the power of blogging and why you should get into the game!

Thanks for reading,

Mike Turian


Welcome back to another exciting edition of Ask Ken. I’m your host, Kartin’ Ken. I have been pleased with the questions that have been rolling into my inbox, but as always, I could use more. I get a lot of familiar faces writing in; it would be great to hear from some of you that haven’t written yet. I know you are out there. Let’s see what today’s reader wants to know…

Today’s letter comes from Craig S and it is short and sweet. Craig writes:


What’s your favorite MTG color? Mine is white, I hate black.

Well Craig, as simple as the question is, it has an involved answer. The short answer is Black. I think Black is not only the most versatile color, it is also the most powerful on its own.

Over time, it has changed a lot though. My very first favorite color was Blue. It stayed my favorite for a long time. I liked controlling the game and winning the game at one life was my favorite pastime.

Next it shifted to White. White, when Swords to Plowshares and Disenchant were around, was by far and away the most versatile color. It had incredible pressure, board control, powerful sweepers and the ability to lock the game.

Eventually it became Red. Mono-Red was capable of control or beatdown, and was one of the best aggro-control decks of all time. I liked Red for a good long while for this reason.

Mono-black decks generally have powerful cards and good single card pressure. Over time, Black has consistently been the most versatile color.

The one color I hate is Green. Green as absolutely no spice whatsoever. It is just men. The only Green cards I ever liked were actually Blue cards: Oath of Druids, Gaea’s Blessing, and Sylvan Library.

As another teaser to tomorrow’s guest star, he was quoted as saying”My favorite color is whatever color my Wild Mongrel is at the time,” displaying his propensity for Green.

The source on all the colors of the rainbow,


The day is near. Tomorrow we find out who our guest star is. G’night everybody!

[email protected]


This is KK reporting to you from Seattle, Washington, the home of Magic: the Gathering and Wizards of the Coast. The Team Pro Tour is here this coming weekend and my team is ready to take down the Last Chance Qualifier, if only we had a name. Help name the team, and you will get props when we win the PT. In more realistic news, let’s look at some reader mail.

I don’t know if you are allowed to reference the MTG site in your articles, but their selecting 9th ed. vote has really been bothering me. Every vote I choose the losing card, and last week (Mana Leak beat Memory Lapse), I really think it made a difference.

Do you think the masses are making good picks for the game or would you rather see the designers and developers just making the decisions themselves?

Well mystery man, your problems are felt by many. I still remember my heartache when Dismiss fell handily to Rewind. Those polls do not favor tournament Magic, it’s as simple as that.

What you don’t realize is, that is a good thing. Magic makes a cast majority of its money off the casual community. It may seem bad for the game to have cards like Jade Leech beaten by cards like Emperor Crocodile, but the fact is, it is a majority vote. The sample they are getting from the website is pretty representative of the community. If people want Blinding Angel instead of Dawn Elemental, who are we to say otherwise?

In addition to this, the base set doesn’t even affect the tournament scene all that much. Type Two is the format it affects the most and at the higher levels of competition, Type Two is rarely played.

Take some comfort in the fact that since these cards made the competition, Wizards likely feels they are worthy of being reprinted and you may see them in future expansions or future base sets.

The source of the method behind the madness,


I am sitting next to my guest columnist for this week and boy is it exciting. I hope you all are ready! G’night Everybody!

[email protected]


I’m sure many of you were hoping that last week was a joke, but I am afraid you are all sorely mistaken. Ask Ken is here for the foreseeable future. So gather ’round my children and listen to me spin yarns about Magic, its players, and its history.

Today’s question comes to us from Mark Schmit. Schmitty writes:


I’ve put in a lot of time drafting this past year, and have become better at it than I’ve ever been. How likely am I to stay a good drafter when we change blocks? Do skills tend to transfer well between blocks, or is it mostly starting from scratch with a new environment, or a little of both?


Schmiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiity! This was once very much the case. Draft skills translated impeccably from block to block. The only things that would significantly change were the power levels of the colors. Other than that, draft strategy and theory were transferable parts that you just plugged in to a new set of cards.

Then this block I like to call Invasion entered the picture. This block was actually fine and the draft was often skill intensive. But instead of choosing two colors to draft, you would select three to five. Some thought this involved just taking the best card out of every pack, but synergies were extremely powerful in that block, so there was more to consider.

Following Invasion Block was a normal block and the last one to date. However, even Odyssey Block wasn’t without its pitfalls. With Torment being the Black set, you could in essence, walk into a draft telling yourself that you were going to draft Black. Then, without sending or receiving signals, you could wind up with a playable deck.

The last two blocks have been abominations in my opinion. The skill in drafting these two blocks has been greatly diminished by the large number of cards in both blocks that are playable regardless of what colors you are. The skill in these formats has been in card valuations and synergies. These things can easily be learned by reading an internet article. I think the repeat successes by high profile pros is due largely to the increased skill level in the play of Mirrodin Block rather than the drafting.

What I hope for from CoK Block is a normal drafting format, one that brings us back to a more artful time where a signal meant something, and if you didn’t read it properly or were afraid to abandon your first pick, you ended up with a deck short on playables.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but if you based your drafting skills around Mirrodin Block, you will have a lot of trouble with the next block (if it is normal).

The source for breaking down a format,


As you can tell, from a Limited standpoint, I have not been a big fan of these last couple sets. That being said, I think they were designed brilliantly. I consider the last couple blocks a necessary evil from a competitive standpoint. Pros are not the only people playing this game, and I know for a fact casual gamers have loved these two blocks. Join us the rest of the week when I’ll be reporting from the left coast, and we have the long anticipated return of the guest writer! G’night everybody!

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