Blog Elemental – Rogue Drafting

My Limited rating on Magic Online bounces steadily between 1650 and 1700 for two reasons. The first is obviously skill level. I draft once or twice per month, so I never really accumulate enough practice to gain what you might call expertise. The second reason for my anemic rating is that, just like in Constructed, I have a tendency to, shall we say, experiment. Sometimes -okay, often – I see a deck forming that just… might… maybe possibly… work out, and I lunge for it.

Blog Elemental – Rogue Drafting

June 24, 2004

My Limited rating on Magic Online bounces steadily between 1650 and 1700 for two reasons. The first is obviously skill level. I draft once or twice per month, so I never really accumulate enough practice to gain what you might call expertise. The second reason for my anemic rating is that, just like in Constructed, I have a tendency to, shall we say, experiment. Sometimes -okay, often – I see a deck forming that just… might… maybe possibly… work out, and I lunge for it.

For example, last week I drafted Eighth Edition. My first pick was Nantuko Disciple. Reasonable. Second pick was Thorn Elemental, which was too entertaining to pass up and again, not totally unreasonable. Third pick didn’t show anything amazing in any color, so I took Vine Trellis. Fourth pick I took a Rod of Ruin. Fifth pick showed me Wood Elves. At this point I’m still in Green and looking for a second color. Sixth pick comes around and I see… Foratog.

It doesn’t take a genius to start seeing the deck that might be theoretically possible even after six picks. A mono-Green draft deck. Sitting right there waiting for me. Now let me just say to you kiddies out there that deciding what deck you’re going to make after six picks in a draft is a no-no. Still, laughing maniacally at my monitor, I went for it…

…and almost made it too. Here is the deck:

1 Rushwood Dryad

2 Vine Trellis

1 Foratog

2 Lone Wolf

1 Wood Elves

2 Giant Badger

1 Trained Armodon

1 Anaba Shaman

1 Fungasaur

1 Giant Spider

1 Nantuko Disciple

1 Moss Monster

1 Phyrexian Hulk

1 Thorn Elemental

1 Giant Growth

1 Rampant Growth

1 Revive

1 Rod of Ruin

1 Blanchwood Armor

1 Natural Affinity

1 Creeping Mold

14 Forest

2 Mountain

Sideboard cards used: Wing Snare, Naturalize, Elvish Scrapper, and Flashfires.

Granted, it could have turned out better. I needed more defense against fliers. I wish I had Blaze instead of Anaba Shaman as my one off-color spell. More quick beats would have helped. Then again, I managed to pull Blanchwood Armor, Natural Affinity, and Revive, for cripe’s sake! The deck wasn’t horrible, either, as I finished in second place. Along the way I beat a guy playing CoP: Green when I swarmed him with a dozen 2/2 lands. My loss in the finals was due to fliers generally and Blinding Angel specifically.

In the past I’ve drafted mono-Red (Tempest) and mono-Blue (Exodus) decks. I tried a deck with nine creatures. I have tried many ill-advised five-color decks. I have played Epic Struggle maindeck. Granted, the only time I win drafts is when I stick to more traditional strategies, but when I can place second with one of my bizarre monstrosities it is awfully fun.

So if you’re ever at a draft table in MTGO with doctorjay, be afraid. If you are ever my first-round opponent, be very afraid.

Blog Elemental – Wood

June 23, 2004

Usually I’m the only person on the planet interested in playing the decks I make. This used to offend me but I have long since embraced my roguish quirkiness. I enjoy playing my decks, which is all that matters, right?

Every so often, though, I hit on a deck idea that several people actually like. The most dramatic example was a mono-Green controllish deck meant to generate lots and lots of mana to play overcosted bombs. I called the deck Wood or sometimes Fattie Wood, and won a few local tourneys with the thing. My whole group of friends played it at Regionals, as did a guy named Jason Spears who went 7-2.

For those uninterested in the link, here’s a decklist:

Fattie Wood

4 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

4 Yavimaya Elder

4 Squallmonger

4 Rushwood Elemental

4 Exploration

4 Skyshroud Claim

4 Plow Under

4 Desert Twister

2 Waiting in the Weeds

2 Dust Bowl

4 Treetop Village

20 Forest


4 Masticore

4 Blastoderm

3 Simian Grunts

2 Tranquil Grove

2 Woodripper

As I said yesterday, Beacon of Creation has me waxing nostalgic for Wood. I have recently started wondering how a modern Wood deck might fare in today’s cruel and unusual Magic world.

A few characteristics of the Wood deck I think are important to maintain:

  • Mono-Green with an emphasis on basic Forests

  • Lots of mana in the form of land-thinning

  • Big, impressive spells

  • Some form of direct damage

You might argue that Tooth and Nail decks are actually the closest thing that today’s Standard card pool can do to approximate Wood. I disagree. I think Tooth and Nail decks act much more like Secret Force than Wood.

Here’s a draft decklist with which I may eventually tinker. I’m realizing as I think through the options how many possibilities there are, including the use of Tangle Golem, Troll Ascetic, Molder Slug, Duplicant, Silvos, Staff of Domination, Reap and Sow, Fangren Firstborn, and Explosive Vegetation, all of which feel like they fit the spirit of Wood.

Wood 2004


4 Vine Trellis

4 Eternal Witness

4 Solemn Simulacrum

4 Krosan Tusker

1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

4 Rampant Growth

4 Blasting Station

4 Beacon of Creation

4 Creeping Mold

4 Plow Under

4 Tranquil Thicket

19 Forest

I think I would need to play a few games to find the right balance of big spells to land-thinners. Not having a turn 1 play or any real mana explosiveness bugs me too. Sad, how out of practice I am at coming up with Wood variants.

Blog Elemental – Three Shades of Dawn

June 22, 2004

As I started working through the Red portion of my Fifth Dawn menu, I realized there weren’t a lot of cards on the list. Then I worked through Green and Blue with the same result. So here’s a triple-dose of menu, combining all three colors. (What do you get when you combine red, green, and blue? Brown? Christmas on the lake? Jolly Rancher vomit?)

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

Ion Storm

Here is my obvious use for Power Conduit, Energy Chamber, and Coretapper. Ion Storm is interesting to me in the same way Astral Slide was interesting. If it doesn’t become an established decktype, it will be fun to make a deck around it. If it does become an established decktype, I will drop them from my menu faster than you can say”Moldenhauer-Salazar’s Mirrodin Block Menu.” Wait, scratch that. Faster than you can say”Jay.”

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

Viridian Lorebearers

On one hand, this guy is going to be making your creatures bigger simply because of how ubiquitous artifacts have become. Why rely on your opponent’s deck, though? Use Myr Landshapers or Mycosynth Lattice. Heck, as long as you’re doing that, use Tanglewalker. And Memnarch. And lots of mana acceleration.

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

Beacon of Creation

I imagine one-toughness creatures lost a lot of sex appeal after Skullclamp’s banning. Thankfully when I see Beacon of Creation, I see the glimmer of a mono-Green control deck that don’t need no stinkin’ Clamp. I used to play Waiting in the Weeds in my Wood deck, and the Beacon is just flat-out better. Can Wood rise again (pun intended)? I’m not sure but it’s worth a shot. Clearly the best use for this card is to create some Goblin Bombardment-esque combo (hello Blasting Station), but I prefer Overrun effects to smash face.

Bringer of the Blue Dawn, Bringer of the Green Dawn and Bringer of the Red Dawn

Big, cool, and oh, you know already. Yes, I love all five Bringers. For the Blue one I have an idea for an aggressive Blue weenie deck that can reasonably generate five colors. Either that or I see a five-color Green deck with Joiner Adept at the center and the Blue Bringer making up the beef and card-drawing. I think the Green Bringer is easiest to picture in a deck simply because of green’s general mana-fixing goodness, with maybe an Overrun effect or two thrown in for good measure. The Red one obviously fits nicely into the deck I made with Bloodshot Cyclops and Synod Sanctum. It seems silly to call these cards out since you already knew the Bringers were juicy.

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

Spectral Shift

The first piece of negative feedback I received from Aaron Forsythe when starting on House of Cards was when he asked me to stop making so many decks based on changing the color of other permanents. Check out my first, fifth, and sixth articles to see how I was going overboard. Suffice it to say, I love cards like this, Alter Reality, Shifting Sky, Crystal Spray, etc. Spectral Shift may be the most versatile card of its kind, which automatically makes it one of my favorite blue cards of all time.

Of course Eternal Witness and Joiner Adept are just plain tasty. I shudder to think what it will take me to get four of each in Magic Online, but there are too many deck ideas relying on these little dudes for me to get squeamish on price. That’s what I will tell myself, anyway.

Blog Elemental – Time to Land

June 21, 2004

This week I’m in a decidedly Green Mood. Beware.

I have been thinking about a deck idea I mentioned last week when contemplating Crucible of Worlds. I said:”I want a Green thirty-land Land Deck using Stalking Stones and Blinkmoth Nexuses as the only unstoppable ‘creatures.'”

And you know what? I do. I really do.

I have already written about my love of Land Decks[http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgcom/daily/jm43]. I was inspired way-back-when by a tournament deck called Bad.dec that used an enormous pile of land, along with Wake of Destruction and Crater Hellion, often winning with”man-lands” Treetop Village and Ghitu Encampment. Since then about every block or so I try to make a deck based around getting lots of land into play.

Here is today’s Land Deck musing…

The Unstoppable Man-Lands


4 Wayfarer’s Bauble

4 Pyroclasm

4 Sylvan Scrying

4 Trade Routes

4 Crucible of Worlds

4 Oblivion Stone

4 Fabricate

4 Reap and Sow

4 Blinkmoth Nexus

4 Mirrodin’s Core

4 Stalking Stones

4 Wooded Foothills

6 Island

3 Forest

3 Mountain

Okay, so it’s more Blue than Green and turns out to have twenty-eight lands, not thirty. The land, too, makes me a little squeamish. I don’t know if the mana-mix is correct and I struggle with how much pain a deck like this can bear (using repeated fetchlands in addition to things like City of Brass and Grand Coliseum). This strikes me as one of those deck ideas that needs to be tried out to judge its viability even as a casual deck.

There’s still a lot to like, though. Fetchlands are land-thinning machines. Blinkmoth Nexus and Stalking Stones become unstoppable Frankensteinian monsters. Board-sweepers Pyroclasm and Oblivion Stone leave your man-lands alone. If you open up a broader card pool, cards like Barbarian Ring, Treetop Village, Rath’s Edge, Mishra’s Factory, Quicksand, Strip Mine, and Gemstone Mine present a dizzying number of options for a Crucible of Worlds deck.

Should I include cards like Fireball? Maybe. But when I first create a deck around a particular concept, I try to push that concept as much as possible to see what happens. In this case, it’s important to me that man-lands be the primary win condition. After all, what’s the point in making a Land Deck if I can’t win with land?