Blog Elemental — End of Beta

Today my month-long blog experiment winds to a close. Today’s your chance to influence my thinking. If this blog hasn’t met your expectations, tell me why and what you had hoped to see. If you’re enjoying yourself, tell me so and what sort of content you’d like to see more or less frequently in the future. I’m feeling at a crossroads with the blog only thirty days in, and want to think through my next steps. I’m definitely energized enough to keep writing, I just need to decide whether it’s the blog I want to write or not.

Blog Elemental – End of Beta

June 30, 2004

Today my month-long blog experiment winds to a close. Let’s review where I’ve been:

1) My Complete Fifth Dawn Menu (adjusted based on my current thinking):

Class IV

Blasting Station

Crucible of Worlds

Mephidross Vampire

Relentless Rats

Summoner’s Egg

Vedalken Shackles

Class III

Auriok Salvagers

Fist of Suns

Ion Storm

Salvaging Station

Viridian Lorebearers

Class II

Beacon of Creation

Beacon of Unrest

Bringer of the Black Dawn

Bringer of the Blue Dawn

Bringer of the Green Dawn

Bringer of the Red Dawn

Bringer of the White Dawn

Helm of Kaldra

Razormane Masticore

Roar of Reclamation

Silent Arbiter

Staff of Domination

Class I

Ensouled Scimitar

Spectral Shift

(By the way, why so many Class II cards and so few Class I? Either a) I’ve been reading too many Fifth Dawn articles and have overestimated people’s enthusiasm for the cards on the Class II list, b) I’m getting more mainstream, or c) Fifth Dawn has a lot of cards that a lot of people get excited about. I’m guessing it’s some combination of (a) and (c).)

2) A”proven” decklist (Syclops), nine theoretical decklists (Brass & Iron, Brass Ring, Egg-Drop Soup, Humpty Dumpty, Kaldra, Roaring Balls, Roar & Razor, The Unstoppable Man-Lands, and Wood 2004) and one theme deck (Insomnia).

3) My Fifth Dawn writing credits and the other Fifth Dawn card names and flavor text I enjoy.

4) A reprint of my”30 Decks in 10 Days” series.

5) Almost-Deep-Thoughts on the definition of”casual” Magic, my take on the Skullclamp banning, an outline for a future series of articles based on preconstructed decks, and an exploration of my freakish drafting tendencies.

Not bad for thirty days. This month has pretty much covered the breadth of what I envisioned with a Magic blog. This first month was slightly less random than I had expected, due in large part to the menu acting as an organizing framework throughout the month.

Now I have to decide whether to continue this experiment of mine or change direction.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… I’m torn.

I only have three measures of success in this blog. The first is whether I’m enjoying the writing process. The second is the number of posts in the Forums. The third is whether those posts are thoughtful and enthusiastic. The good news is that I’m enjoying myself and the posts have been great. The bad news is there have been very few of them. In fact, the number of posts (and the number of hits on each Forum thread) have generally gone down over time. The whole point of this blog thingie was to try and link the readers more directly with a quirky Magic dude who’s been playing a long time (that’s me I’m talking about, in case you were wondering). Somehow I seem to have failed in my attempt to establish community.

Today’s your chance to influence my thinking. If this blog hasn’t met your expectations, tell me why and what you had hoped to see. If you’re enjoying yourself, tell me so and what sort of content you’d like to see more or less frequently in the future. I’m feeling at a crossroads with the blog only thirty days in, and want to think through my next steps. I’m definitely energized enough to keep writing, I just need to decide whether it’s the blog I want to write or not.

Tomorrow I move from a beach condo into the first house I actually own. At some point I will have figured out how to reassemble my computer and can read what you all think. The appointment with the digital cable guy is scheduled for July 3rd, so that is the absolute earliest I will be back in computer land. Given how much unpacking there is to do and that my in-laws are here for the holiday, I’m guessing it will be more like Tuesday. I’ll write as soon as I’m able to let you know the fate of the Blog Elemental and where I go from here.

Have a great week!

Blog Elemental – A Big Fat Egg

June 29, 2004

Darksteel feels like a black hole to me. I never made a Darksteel menu, and I didn’t write any articles – deckbuilding or otherwise – between the release of Darksteel and Fifth Dawn. I didn’t make a single MTGO deck centered around a Darksteel card. Skullclamp was taking hold by the time I started tinkering with deck ideas, corresponding to a downward spiral of my Magic enthusiasm. I have several of these blindspots in my deckbuilding history.

This isn’t to say that Darksteel is a boring set. Quite the contrary, as I look at the cards now all sorts of wheels start spinning in my head. Although I’m sure whatever deck ideas I could envision have already been tried and either refined or discarded, today I want to explore a few cards from my most recent blindspot.

Here are just a handful of cards I think are a) neat, and b) missing from decks I’ve seen:

Chimeric Egg

Gemini Engine

Nemesis Mask

Neurok Transmuter


Shriveling Rot


Wand of the Elements

Maybe people have written articles about these cards and I missed them (my internet reading during Darksteel also experienced a lull), but right now I am starting with a personal blank slate with regards to these cards.

I probably only have space and time to explore one of these cards today so I’ll start at the top. If I’m ever at a loss for writing content, I’m sure I’ll return to the above list.

Two ideas pop into my head immediately when looking at Chimeric Egg. The first is blue bounce, since you can conceivably get a lot of mileage out of one of your opponent’s non-artifact spells by getting her to replay them again and again. One way to do this is with Cowardice, but that might just backfire on your poor Egg and I’ve never been very successful at building Cowardice-based decks. Here is a much more straightforward idea…

Humpty Dumpty

4 Aether Spellbomb

4 Mana Leak

4 Boomerang

4 Chimeric Egg

4 Vedalken Shackles

3 Echoing Truth

3 Vex

3 Concentrate

2 Fabricate

1 Crystal Shard

1 Regress

4 Spire Golem

4 Lonely Sandbar

19 Island

The other idga that comes to mind is to use cards that can generate charge counters. I’ve already described a bunch of these cards in my Fifth Dawn menu installments. I think this idea is probably about as straightforward as the one above, just an entirely different deck (by the way, how cool is Silent Arbiter with Forgotten Ancient?).

<Ð>Egg-Drop Soup

4 Energy Chamber

4 Sun Droplet

4 Chimeric Egg

4 Power Conduit

3 Dismantle

2 Naturalize

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Coretapper

4 Silent Arbiter

4 Forgotten Ancient

4 Mirrodin’s Core

4 Wooded Foothills

2 Grand Coliseum

11 Forest

2 Mountain

I’m fairly sure people have probably tried similar decks to these two and come up with better configurations. I’m equally sure Chimeric Egg has more uses than I’m seeing. That’s the problem of trying to think up decks so long after a set has been out. Feel free to post your own brilliant concoctions in the Forums.

Blog Elemental – The Second Gray Shade of Dawn

June 28, 2004

Here we go! The last menu installment, artifacts K though Z (well, technically W).

Class IV (Cards I like that others are talking about or using)

Summoner’s Egg

I like Rukh Egg. I dislike Wrath of God. So begins one of my least insightful explorations for why I like a card ever. Just like Rukh Egg, this is a neat trick with your own board sweepers and unlike Rukh Egg your board sweepers aren’t limited to starting with red as your base color. Duh. What I really wish is that there was some card in recent expansions to make a low hand size valuable (think Cursed Scroll or Scalding Tongs), which would make Summoner’s Egg especially fun. Maybe this paves a way to finally use Balance of Power. Or not.

Vedalken Shackles

Of the many ways my odd underdog proclivities manifest themselves, one is to really want to build established archetypes that competitive players no longer deem viable. If Suicide Black is out of favor, I think it’s fun to give it a try. Same with Stompy, 5cGreen, and even Blue Control. Other people have wondered aloud whether Vedalken Shackles signals a revival of a mono-Blue control deck. If this is just random musing and a deck never surfaces, I’m sure to give it a try in a casual deck.

Class III (Cards I like(that no one else seems to like)

Salvaging Station

There are certainly enough of these”cog” cards to make a deck. Since a deck that revolves around one-mana artifacts has never really existed, I’m attracted to the idea on principle (which should have been obvious from the white part of my menu). For this reason I won’t be disappointed if my”Constructing Preconstructed” idea starts with the Nuts and Bolts deck. I’d like to have an excuse to try out Salvaging Station and see what happens.

Class II (Cards I really like that others are talking about or using)

Razormane Masticore

I hated Masticore when it was legal in Standard. I mean hated. Even when I played Masticore in my own decks I hated it. I hated it almost as much as I hated Morphling. Masticore and Morphling almost drove me away from Magic for good when they were Standard-legal. I hated them. Do you get the message yet? I! Hated! Them!!

So it seems strange to me that years later I would embrace Masty’s prickly little brother. The thing is, Razormane Masticore isn’t unfair, nor is it in any way unstoppable. In fact, it’s a pretty interesting critter with implications for decks wanting to fill their graveyards, have fun with Madness effects, a colorless beatstick, and/or get some repeatable creature control in the deal.

Silent Arbiter

This card singlehandedly makes so many of my slow, dumb deck ideas possible. The name and flavor text also makes it conceptually interesting. Toss four Silent Arbiter into a deck and you are probably half-way to surviving until you can pull off that Skirk Fire Marshal trick you’ve concocted. Unfortunately, I think Silent Arbiter is going to annoy me near to death when I play against it, but I guess I can’t have it both ways.

Staff of Domination

It just… does… so many… things! I wish the art was better, but who cares since it just… does… so many… things! The Staff fits into the mono-Blue control deck I mentioned earlier, but I frankly want to use it in almost every monocolor control strategy I can think up. Forget being a combo engine piece, I’ve long said that versatility is a very attractive trait for me in Magic cards and I’m not sure a more obviously versatile card has ever been printed.

Class I (Cards I really like that no one else seems to like)

Currently nothing to see here.

I wasn’t sure whether to include Myr Quadropod on the menu or not. I like Mr. Four-Feet, but I think almost every time I use Ensouled Scimitar that Myr Quadropod will follow along too. So then the question becomes whether there are decks I want to build using Myr Quadropod that don’t include Ensouled Scimitar.

(strains to think)

Nope. I think I’m good.