Blog Elemental – And The Winner Is…

As promised, I rolled a d4 to pick a Fifth Dawn preconstructed deck (if this isn’t compelling enough of an image, let’s say I pulled four snails from my garden and had a race across the driveway… my son, he loves snails). The winner of this little experiment is…

Blog Elemental – And The Winner Is…

July 9, 2004

Until polls come to Blog Elemental, I am left to my own random devices. As promised, I rolled a d4 to pick a Fifth Dawn preconstructed deck (if this isn’t compelling enough of an image, let’s say I pulled four snails from my garden and had a race across the driveway… my son, he loves snails). The winner of this little experiment is…


(part of the crowd erupts into cheers as another part boos and yells)

(flashbulbs pop)

(Nuts and Bolts stands disbelieving from her chair)

(Sunburst shakes Nuts and Bolts’ hand vigorously and Stampede slaps her shoulder in congratulations)

(Special Forces looks on incredulously)

Which means, below is the decklist I’ll start playing. I’ve organized it in a way that helps me see what I’ve got here, separating the creatures, non-creatures, and land, then sorting by cost. You’ll notice if you look back on past articles that I organize all of my decklists similarly. For this particular deck, I’ve also italicized the artifacts of one or less casting cost.

Nuts and Bolts v.1.0

Critters (22):

1 Ornithopter

2 Leonin Elder

1 Auriok Glaivemaster

1 Myr Moonvessel

3 Leonin Squire

3 Trinket Mage

2 Skyhunter Prowler

1 Ferropede

1 Skyhunter Skirmisher

2 Synod Centurion

2 Auriok Salvagers

1 Auriok Windwalker

2 Qumulox

Non-Critters (15):

3 Chromatic Sphere

1 Aether Spellbomb

1 Bonesplitter

1 Conjurer’s Bauble

1 Leonin Bola

1 Skullclamp

1 Steelshaper’s Gift

1 Sunbeam Spellbomb

1 Viridian Longbow

1 Healer’s Headdress

1 Vanquish

1 Fold into Aether

1 Salvaging Station

Land (23):

12 Plains

7 Island

2 Ancient Den

2 Seat of the Synod

Uh oh. There’s one problem right off the bat. Evil, evil Skullclamp is part of the preconstructed decklist! Run! Hide your wives and children!

Now I know that this is meant to generate a”casual” deck and that tournament bannings should have little to no bearing on casual games. Even still, I don’t want to use the ‘Clamp for two reasons. First, with Skullclamp I won’t be able to play Standard games within the Casual Constructed room of MTGO. That’s bad because it means the only recourse is to play Online Extended or”Open” games, which use a really wide card pool many newer players won’t have access to. Second, Skullclamp was banned because it’s unbalanced; it wasn’t playtested properly by R&D before its release and quickly became ubiquitous. Boo. I want more creativity in this deck than molding it around an unbalanced artifact. Right away, then, I’m dropping Skullclamp from the deck.

Out: 1 Skullclamp

You’re banned and unbalanced. Buh-bye.

In: 1 Scrabbling Claws

I tried to pick a non-rare artifact that cost 1 as a replacement. The choice for me was between Leonin Scimitar and Scrabbling Claws. Scrabbling Claws has some unique value in its ability to eat away an opposing graveyard, and it can draw a card. It’s no Skullclamp, obviously, but I can see a”draw engine” of sorts with this and cards like Auriok Salvagers. Feel free to put whatever one-mana artifact you want here. Scrabbling Claws was a fairly arbitrary choice that will get sorted out in playtesting.

That gives me enough material to start playing the sucker. Wow am I going to get pounded into oblivion.

Blog Elemental – The Guidelines

July 8, 2004

As I started thinking about the spirit of this endeavor of mine, I started to realize there were some rules I could follow to force me to go slow and generally enjoy the experience of evolving a preconstructed deck. Then I realized these weren’t”rules” so much as”guidelines.” Rules would suggest I don’t intend to break them, but I think each of these guidelines, especially two through four, I may seriously challenge during this process.

Here are said guidelines…

The Guidelines:

1) The goal is to make a fun deck to play that wins its fair share of games in the Casual Constructed room of Magic Online. This is not an effort to make a competitive tournament deck.

2) This series is meant to be entertaining for all sorts of players, but I particularly want beginners to find it accessible. As a result:

  • I may be explaining some basic principles in the articles.

  • I will be trying to keep expensive rares out of the deck(but not avoiding them if I think they significantly enhance the deck).

  • I will use a Standard-legal card pool.

3) I will not make changes to the deck until playing at least five games with each current decklist.

4) I will change no more than four cards per revision.

The guideline I want you to have is to voice your observations during this process. Chime in with ideas for cards you think need to go, be added, or stay put. Tell me when you think I’ve taken a wrong turn. Raise your hand if you’re getting bored and want me to speed up. Yell if you think the deck is getting too expensive to build. Please: Post early and post often.

This is also the reason I’m not listing my e-mail address in these articles. Yes, you can find my address pretty easily if you’re motivated. But the point here is not for you and I to have a conversation. It’s for everyone to pile on. E-mail me if you’re really shy, but try and make yourself post in the Forums. I’ll read all posts and respond often.


Blog Elemental – You Asked For It

July 7, 2004

First, thank all that is special in the world that I am done moving. Hopefully by this time next week I’ll be done unpacking too, and will have figured out how to take care of the garden that the previous owners left me. Owning a house is going to be bizarre.

Secondly, thank everything else that Fifth Dawn is finally coming to Magic Online on Monday. The waiting between a set’s paper release and its digital release is maddening. If I had any clout with the MTGO people – which I do not – I would plead for a much shorter delay.

Third, Blog Elemental is back for Round Two, mostly thanks to all of you.

I was about seventy percent sure that I would be ditching the blog to focus on a weekly article, but your Forum posts changed my mind. I basically took three things away from the Forum:

1) Blog is good. More blog please.

2) One Forum thread per day is poop. Please do something else.

3) Blog is too shallow and random. Focus on one idea (preferably one deck idea) and develop it in depth, please.

To the first, I say sure thing. You got it. More Blog Elemental coming your way starting today. To the second, I say that’s up to Ted and Ferrett. Apparently there’s some technical whoozit that prevents the whatsit from doing anything different with the Forum threads. Ted has promised to think hard about a solution that will allow more back-and-forth between you and me and a more community-feel in general. At some point they’ll figure out how to insert polls into my stuff too (good idea LordsAvatar), which will be a great improvement. [Actually, we’re going to use the forums for any required polling, since the functionality is already there, and Jay wants you guys to visit them frequently anyway. – Knut]

To the third and final point, I say…

…It’s time for another experiment. In this next experiment, instead of random musings from me each day, I’ll try a blog in which I focus on one deck idea over time.

I’m going to be building one deck, the same deck, every day from now until the end of August. To some people this may be as tedious as a Spider Man comic strip, watching Peter Parker take three days to take a shower. To most of you, though, I’m hoping this reads like a”Diary of doctorjay” on steroids (for those people wanting me to get back to longer articles, too, you can think of this as one big Super Article).

I’ve decided to use my”Constructing Preconstructed” idea as a foundation for my experiment (I was particularly inspired by MyFeetStink’s endeavors as described in the Forums). I’ll start with a Fifth Dawn preconstructed deck on Monday and slowly change it over the following six weeks until I have something worth playing. Every day I will explore card interactions, games, and tweaks to the deck and I’m hoping you will chime in on the Forums (however Ted figures them out) to help me.

By the end of August, I’ll have finished evolving my first Fifth Dawn preconstructed deck. After that let’s all gather round to see if we’ve enjoyed ourselves.

Thanks again to everyone who wrote post-Beta. I especially appreciate those people who either came out of hiding or signed up for an account specifically to give me feedback.

Onward. Let’s see what kind of goofy deck we can create…