Back In Black

Black is down. So sayeth Chavez Domingo. I don’t disagree and have said so before, but for the most part, black looked down last season as well. Aside from the odd deck there wasn’t much going in black. was mostly black based but it got some real power from white, especially . It was a…

Black is down. So sayeth Chavez Domingo. I don’t disagree and have said so before, but for the most part, black looked down last season as well. Aside from the odd Contamination deck there wasn’t much going in black. Bargain was mostly black based but it got some real power from white, especially Academy Rector. It was a true multicolored deck.

Then Flores got things going dark with his Black control design, and Finkel tweaked it to win US Nats. How did that happen? Well the environment was inviting – that is to say that white and green were so strong and widely played that it made the environment ripe for black hate to appear. I think we are on the verge of that now.

Here is Sean McKeown breakdown of the Northeast decks that he presented in his fine work on Mindripper.

Tier One (Greater Than 55 Percentile Points):
"Machine Head"
Red/Green Beatdown

Tier Two (Between 40 and 55 Percentile Points):

High Tier Two:
Aggro Rebels
Green/White BlastoGeddon
True Tier Two:
Blue Skies
Rising Waters

For the full article go here:

Not lot of black there in particular. It’s hard to classify the multicolor decks; black makes an appearance, but it’s generally as a sidelight. "Machine Head," the Void-based deck, is hard to pull apart colorwise. Looking at the top of the list, though, we do see that there is a pretty good bent towards Green and White. In my opinion the Red and Green "Fires" decks have been primarily green, and I think this is mostly true of the Green and White decks as well. Rebel decks are obviously all White. I think that might open a window for a Black response, much like the one Flores and Finkel used last season. I don’t particularly think that "Machine Head" is that answer, particularly as it is part black itself. This answer deck that I’m postulating is fundamentally a bit different; it’s pretty much just more hateful for Green and White.

I have an idea of what the response will be, but I’m going to try and tie it up with something else.

In reading a post-States article, someone mentioned that they thought that the Blue Skies/Aggro Waters deck could do better if it could just beat Green. It immediately occurred to me that that answer would be to add black. Previously, I have proposed that the more traditional MBC Waters based decks wouldn’t cut it in the new standard environment. For one thing, there is the problem of controlling green creature mana. That mana supply is a big problem for the Waters deck. How do you check it?

I think you add black to the Waters deck. Specifically, you add Plague Spitter, which shoots down Birds of Paradise and slays Llanowar Elves like nobody’s business. When you do this I think you gain an immediate advantage over the two top decks that are relying on that mana supply.

It can’t hurt when playing Rebels, either.

I’ve built this deck and played it some. Here is a build of it.

Spit in the River
3x Vampiric Tutor
4x Dark Ritual
3x Rising Waters
4x Plague Spitter
2x Wind Drake
3x Rootwater Thief
3x Vodalian Zombie
1x Meekstone
1x Millstone
1x Charisma
4x Undermine
4x Power Sink
3x Counterspell
4x Sky Diamond
4x Underground River
2x Salt Marsh
4x Swamp
6x Island
4x Rishadan Port

2x Dread of Night
1x Rebel Informer
2x Massacre
3x Chill
2x Cremate
3x Perish
2x Misdirection

I’ve won games with this on nothing more than casting the Spitter and then countering, or dropping the Waters. I’m not particularly happy with how it looks. The creatures are tough to choose. The Spitter really limits you to ones with a toughness greater than one. Ribbon Snake should be excellent if it weren’t for the UU element in its casting cost. It might be good enough to go with a more aggro format – closer to the Blue Skies/Aggro Waters builds that include the likes of Cloudskate or even perhaps Fog Elemental, to try and quickly pound your opponent into submission.

I think as well that there might be a monoblack Spitter deck that could work its way into the environment. I’ve toyed with this some, but it’s not a particularly easy-looking build. We might have to fully wait for the next expansion to have this deck.

Pokemon and Beyond

Hey! Hey! Don’t go flying off just because I mentioned the world’s biggest entertainment franchise ever! If it weren’t for the Pokemon and my five-year old son’s interest in the card game, I wouldn’t be back in Magic. When you have a child and you can play the game with them it can be fun to make that connection. It’s not really a bad game, but it’s not quite as deep as M:tG. What do you expect though? It’s geared towards kids.

I’m visiting the local shop, Books Galore, owned by my old school chum John and he tells me he’s got this Pokemon phenom Joe B. At the time, his record was around 21-2. I became a little interested. Joe B we find out is 13 years old and also plays some Magic. We wind up playing some, and he’s running an Incubated Angels deck. It’s not format legal or anything, but it’s pretty good. I wonder if this might be my prot?g?. Heck, I need to find someone to play regularly, and Joe B shows up regularly. That’s a plus right there. He’s a trading fiend, too, and soon thereafter he starts coming up with about half of the cards that I can mention. "Yeah, I can get those," he says. That’s good because I have almost no inroads into the trading scene here.

I get wind that there is going to be a JSS qualifier in early December with a side tourney that’s open aged. We have something to shoot for. Meanwhile, he’s racking up wins in the six-week Pokemon league. As I’ve got cards for my son, I play him once. He’s running a Haymaker deck with Hitmonchan, Scyther, and Rocket Scyther, plus a few other colorless Pokemon. (Note to Magic players: Much like Magic has various colored spells with strengths and weaknesses, each Pokemon belongs to an "element," which has strengths and weaknesses – The Ferrett, Pokemaster) He clobbers my first deck. Scyther is powerful and popular because he retreats for free, but Green/Plant Pokemon are weak against Fire types. I give him his first taste of playing the meta-game by building a Fire deck with a Doduo-Dodrio build in it that basically lets all my Pokemon retreat for free. I take the next match. He’s around 85-4 now…

Will: <<< Will will only write about Pokemon in the future for profit.

I tell Joe B about the JSS and about some of the decks that did well at States. He’s interested in the G/R Fires decks, and we work on getting him a build of that deck. Meanwhile I’m probably going to have to provide the basics for about four to five decks for the upcoming tourney. One for Joe B, Cool Daddy Ray, Kyle, and myself. Luckily, Joe B has been hot on the Void trail and between us we have four. This is going to make things interesting, because the R/B deck isn’t an easy one to pilot. I can see a lot of work for Kyle and myself coming up. That’s great, though, and I’m having a blast teaching the kids what I know about the game. It should be quite a challenge to help a fourteen year-old that’s relatively new try and play MachineHead Void with some skill. Cool Daddy Ray, king of the "Yo Eleven!" luck, is either going to get to play Fatty ‘Geddon or Rebels, and I’ve got the powerful/tricky/troublesome Counter Wrath or Rebels to choose from.

We met Wednesday and played, practiced, and traded a bit. The decks look pretty even, and Joe is making some strides as a player. He’s pretty sharp. I’ll feel great pride if he does well at the JSS, which I expect. It won’t be easy, but it should be a lot of fun.

Really. If you are an established player, think about seeking out some youngsters to help with the game. I’ve found it very rewarding…

Three Guys and a Pack Mule.

I’ve also finally got some partners online to prepare for the upcoming St. Louis Extended PTQ. Mike Mason (recently published here with a fine article) and Scott Forster (another old deck mechanic from Magic Campus) are fine playtest partners, both with neat ideas for that format. Mike in particular has a very neat metagame idea that just might make some waves.

Is my house sold? I got word today that all the paperwork is in. Another closing date for next week? I hope so, or there might not be much of a Christmas at the old homestead, here…