Before we get into blowing up Type 1 decks real good, let’s look back over the past week to see the Things I Have Learned In Editing StarCity:
1) THE SPELLCHECKER IS NO HELP. Go ahead. Hit "F7" and watch Microsoft Word choke on "Nicol Bolas", "Rhystic Syphon", "Morphling", "untap" and "topdeck". I know I do, every day – and I keep adding words, but it’s shoveling sand against the tide.
And worse yet, the spellchecker misses other words. Anything less than a meticulous examination of the phrase, "I finished off my opponent with an Arc Lighting" will lead to the impression that the tourney ended after a series of blinding floodlights and Halogen spots were shone in the opponents face.
2) ITS, A BIG PROBLEM. There. Did you catch it?
I am generally a fastidious writer, and more than one editor has called my own writing "clean" – as in, I don’t need much grammatical correction. This is a point of pride with me, because frequently I’m not grammatical at all… but I write like people talk, which allows me a lot of leeway.
But there is a Kryptonite to my Supermanian writing style, and that is the possessive apostrophe.
It had never been a problem before, as I was always able to rewrite sentences so I didn’t have to use the word "its" when I didn’t have to – or failing that, my wife would walk behind me and mutter, "You did it wrong again, my dorkness." But now I’m the grammar king, and it seems kind of petty to require all of the columnists here to rewrite their columns fifteen or sixteen times to accommodate a rather dim editor.
And man, do they love that "its" word. And I oblige them by screwing it up in massive ways. At least four times in my first week at StarCity, I incorrected two perfectly good usages of the possessive apostrophe before it went to print and left three bad ones in. And I’ll probably do it again.* Matter of fact, I just did it right now: The last sentence of Point #1 should have been, "the tourney ended after a series of blinding flood lights and Halogen spots were shone in the opponent’s face".
Or was that the wrong way to do it?
God help me, I don’t really know.
3) ENGLAND PROMOTES PARANOIA. I’ve always loved Britain ever since I first saw Monty Python, and ever since then I’ve envied their superior TV powers. Fawlty Towers, Mr. Bean, Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, Wallace and Gromit, Ab Fab… the list goes on.** I’ve also been madly in love with English writers ever since I first read Alan Moore and Clive Barker in the same week.
But Magic is an international community, StarCity even more so, and now I’m filled with English writers throwing "flavour" and "defence" at me right and left. And I am stuck in the unique position of not wanting to strip all the local colour out of everyone’s articles – yet not wanting everyone to think I’m asleep on the job, either.
I don’t worry about Anthony Boydell; anyone who doesn’t realize he’s not an American writer probably has difficulties understanding why the mouths never seem to sync up in old Godzilla films. "Interfere not with Professor Sneeeeeep" is a good rule to live by. But everyone else? The potential international writer who uses the word "offence" once, then writes the rest of his article in perfect Americanese? Do I dare? Do I dare? Do I dare to change a hair?***
Do me a favour, wouldja? When you see that one potentially-misspelled word, kindly understand that I’m not a bad editor – I just don’t want to be the ugly Merkin****, baby.
4) RESEARCH? VAS IST DIS "RESEARCH" CONZEPT? I will cheerfully admit I fake everything in my columns. Oh sure, once in awhile I’ll look up a card definition just for funzies – but if I don’t know something, I’ll make up something that sounds right. I’m a humor columnist, anyway – who’s gonna take me seriously? (Okay… there was that one guy who believed me when I said that Drano and Kahlua made a fizzy and refreshing mocha-flavored drink, but he’s forgiven me ever since I started buying him batteries for his electronic voicebox.)
Now people are writing in with bizarre assertions, articles based around weird card interactions, giving Team names and tourney locations… AND I HAVE TO CHECK THEM.
And boy, am I sucking. (And you thought I sucked at Magic.)
The tally for this week is one wrong team name, one prominent word with a wrong definition, two articles submitted that turned out to be already posted somewhere else, one "your" that should have been a "you’re", and a hanging partridge in a pear-agraph tree.
Omeed, man, you were right; I DIDN’T know what I was in for.
So now you have suffered through an endless diatribe, and are no doubt wondering when I’ll get done whining and get to the meat of this article – namely, how to whip those nasty Type 1 decks on a meager budget.
I got bad news for ya, Sparky.
Here’s the deal when you’re playing Type 1: You’re gonna lose. A lot. There really isn’t much of a defense you can mount against a guy who can take extra turns at will, shuffle his graveyard into his hand, counter when he’s tapped out and cast ten-mana spells the first turn. There are ways of winning, but they are not certain and they’re not absolute.
(That’s why I call it the Power Ten; you might have a chance except for Force Of Will, one of the most broken cards ever printed. The ability to counter when they’re tapped out, combined with the card-drawing power and nearly limitless mana inherent in the Power cards, makes a Type-1-vs.-anything-else matchup totally insane, as opposed to mostly insane.)
But take pleasure in the fact that Type 1 players get kind of bored. Sure, the turn one kills are nice, but the games themselves are drearily depressing; there’s a drudgery-laden sameness to the old, "Timetwister, Ancestral, Time Walk, you’re dead" business that you frequently see in the ancient decks. It gets old eventually, much like playing the same deck for seven years (which, essentially, they have been). Type 1 players generally either play to win, in which case they’re just gloating jerks whom you should avoid like a case of Ebola, or play because they like the excitement, in which case you can get them to change decks by threatening to not play with them.
So first let’s look at the Power Ten:
And most Type 1 decks invariably throw these cards in as well:
So. Note that the strong trends here are blue and artifact mana. Gee, what color really hates blue and artifacts?
If that doesn’t give you enough of a clue, then try this Ice Age card on for size:
Interrupt (now Instant)
Counter target spell if it is blue, or destroy target permanent if it is blue.
Hmm… and this little gem is only a buck per card, available right here from StarCity. Say, does that give you folks any idea of which way to go, here?
That’s right. Your only hope lies with Red burn – and fortunately, it’s Red’s commons that will carry you through the day. Generally most Type I decks can’t handle a swarm of cheap creatures (inasmuch as they can’t handle anything).
So the clue here has to be cheap spells (to get the game over with quick), easy burn, and massive artifact destruction to get rid of the jewelry. So first, let’s throw in the anti-artifact cards, with the first being the affectionately-named "Mox Monkey":
In other words, let’s blow up a bunch of zero-cc Moxes for a colorless apiece! Is there a better deal?
One red, and every Mox and Black Lotus goes away. Not a bad deal. So we’ve got some good stuff going here. What can we add for creatures?
Okay, so we’re pretty much rockin’ now. Lots of cheap creatures. What about damage? Well, forget about Shock; the long-dead but long-played Lightning Bolt is a better deal, giving you 3-for-1 as opposed to Shock’s measly 2. Fireblast is a quarter common that deals tremendous damage as a late-game finisher. Incinerate is good secondary burn, and deals with regenerating creatures well – but so does Disintegrate, and it can deal massive damage in case of a game stall. (Sure.) I’d torn between what to choose.
So what do we have for our contestants now, Alex?
20x Mountains (come on – you HAVE them, right?)
Now, will this be an autowin versus a Type 1 monstrosity? No. But for a $22.00 investment that you can probably borrow from your friends, it’s your best chance. And here’s how you should play it:
Save the Pyroblasts for Force Of Will, Time Walk, and Timetwister. Ancestral is powerful, yes, but it only means drawing more cards; the recursion is what you should fear, because if you don’t take care of it, every threat you deal with will come back again to haunt you. And you have no hope against it (although the cheap casting costs mean that you’ll be able to play a LOT from your hand whenever you get a Timetwistered hand back). He’ll probably Regrow the Timetwister at some point; if you’re REALLY concerned about graveyard rape, you can lower the mountain count (20 may be a bit much) and throw in two Tormod’s Crypts to do away with his ‘yard altogether.
And if you counter his Force Of Will, you force him to remove a blue card from the game. This is not a bad thing. Against Trix, you can hope for two Pyros to blow up his Illusions when he Donates it – you’ll need at least two to push past the Force Of Will that will invariably be there – but that’s probably kind of stretching it.
Attack everywhere. Do not be afraid to blow up your Goblins to get rid of his Juzam Djinn, but most Type I decks are light on creatures – or tend to pack very small ones that die quite easily to Lightning Bolts. Be aggressive as all heck, throw everything at him, and just be careful when finishing him off with a Fireblast; he may Counter it, so make sure you don’t sac all of your mountains and then sit there wondering what happened.
Also, don’t overcommit. There will be Balances when he has no creatures, which means you’ll have to sacrifice everything. Feel free to pop the Fanatic in response, and don’t forget that you’re probably able to kill all of your own critters in response to a Balance if, say, you’ll be left with one lone Goblin facing a grinning Djinn.
Now, if you want more expensive cards (either in casting cost or otherwise), what else can we throw in?
Cursed Scrolls. Not quite as effective as a normal deck, since you’ll likely draw seven cards at least once thanks to a Twister, but still an effective and cheap artifact.
Ruination / Blood Moon. Red dual land hosers, all, and terribly effective IF you’ve managed to axe the jewelry. Blood Moon is particularly nasty, because if they don’t have Moxes out, they may well be doomed. However, this will be countered at all costs, so make sure you have some Pyro backup.
Ball Lightning. The classic 6/1 trampler critter, it’s a great Juzam killer – and a danger at any time.
Wheel Of Fortune. Draw seven cards when your hand is empty. Hey, he gets to do it too, but you can Crypt his graveyard away.
That’s it. As I said, this is by no means the perfect method of destroying Type 1 decks… but it’s definitely the cheapest method.
NEXT WEEK: I Never Meta Game I Didn’t Like – Well, Maybe I Did, or: A Cheap Ripoff Of James Grimmett’s Column Title
* – Having said that, I suspect that Anthony Alongi will probably write an entire column consisting of nothing but the word "its", just to see if he can cause a mental breakdown. It’s possible.
** – Those of you who live in England and know how bad TV really is there, don’t tell me. I’m sure you have the English equivalent of "Saved By The Bell" there, but let a boy keep his illusions.
*** – Gratuitous T.S. Eliot reference. Ignore it if you’re a cultureless lout.
**** – Euro slang phrase for "American", at least among the Euros I correspond with. Also an obscure word meaning "pubic wig", although I’m not quite sure why anyone would WANT one of those. Of course, the question from snooty Europeans would then be, "Why would anyone want an American, either?" and I can’t answer that either. Sometimes I wonder at our country. But that’s another column.