Blog Elemental – Writing Envy

On Monday I’ll list my Fifth Dawn names and flavor text credits. Today, though, I thought I would comment on an unexpected reaction I had to Fifth Dawn’s release… Card names and flavor text I didn’t write, but wish I had.

Blog Elemental – Writing Envy

June 4, 2004

On Monday I’ll list my Fifth Dawn names and flavor text credits. Today, though, I thought I would comment on an unexpected reaction I had to Fifth Dawn‘s release… Card names and flavor text I didn’t write, but wish I had.

Here is a batch of cards I personally think have really great names. I don’t remember who officially got credit for these names, but it wasn’t me:

Acquire, Baton of Courage, the Beacons, Clock of Omens, Cosmic Larva, Door to Nothingness, Energy Chamber, Etched Oracle, Eternal Witness, Furnace Whelp, Horned Helm, Mana Geyser, Night’s Whisper, Paradise Mantle, Rain of Rust, Shattered Dreams, Silent Arbiter, Synod Centurion, Tangle Asp, Vanquish, Vedalken Orrery.

While I’m at it, here is the flavor text I particularly like in Fifth Dawn (again, not mine):

A chorus of life heralds the arrival of Mirrodin’s final sun. (Beacon of Creation)

For millennia they wandered from plane to plane, devouring all metal. Finally, their wanderings are over. (Cosmic Larva)

All memory of your existence will be wiped from reality. You will die, and no one will mourn.” –Memnarch (Door to Nothingness)

Those who find death under the black sun’s shadow cannot escape its pull. (Endless Whispers)

It is all in my grasp. Every petty dream, every grand scheme, every soul, every fear. It all flows through me and from me.” –Memnarch (Fist of Suns)

All the junk, refuse, and offal of the Krark Clan is diligently collected, melted down, and made into more junk, refuse, and offal. (Krark-Clan Ironworks)

Long ago, the Auriok attempted peace with the loxodons. The leonin attempted war. Neither succeeded. (Loxodon Stalwart)

Scholars say that arbiters exist on every world, created by an unknown hand to enforce justice. (Silent Arbiter)

“The Tangle loans you life. Spend it well.” (Tel-Jilad Lifebreather)

And my favorite…

Baby dragons can’t figure out humans – if they didn’t want to be killed, why were they made of meat and treasure? (Furnace Whelp)

…makes me giggle every time.

Blog Elemental – The Unblinking Eye

June 3, 2004

For the past three months, I’ve played the same Magic Online Standard deck. It is an amazing stretch of non-creativity for me, shaped partly by time constraints, partly by a decision to slow down my MTGO spending, and overwhelmingly because of how un-fun Standard has become.

The deck started out as a Bloodshot Cyclops deck, but that proved too slow with all of the Skullclamps and Arcbound Ravagers running rampant. Now it’s more of a Synod Sanctum deck than anything else. Stealing, hiding, and then keeping an opponent’s creatures has held my interest for a long time, but I personally can’t wait for banning and Fifth Dawn to shake up people’s decklists.

My deck and I can usually beat a good deck piloted by a bad player or a wacky deck piloted by a good player. And when it works – that is, when I have an active Synod Sanctum with two mana consistently to spare – it’s beautiful.

Someday I’ll muse about why a self-proclaimed”casual” player likes making Standard decks, but for now here’s the deck I played against [author name="Chris Romeo"]Chris Romeo[/author] many moons ago:


pre-Fifth Dawn Standard deck

4 Solemn Simulacrum

4 Blistering Firecat

4 Chartooth Cougar

2 Bloodshot Cyclops

1 Rorix Bladewing

4 Threaten

4 Grab the Reins

4 Slice and Dice

3 Synod Sanctum

3 Starstorm

2 Echoing Ruin

1 Fireball

4 Forgotten Cave

2 Stalking Stones

18 Mountain

On Tuesday, I was down forty-four life to eight with fifteen cards in my library and no non-land permanents on the table. I won, thanks to drawing Cyclops, then Cougar. Go figure.

Blog Elemental – Ban-Aid

June 2, 2004

Thank Goodness. I don’t know if it was a collective whoop or sigh that passed through the competitive Magic community yesterday with the DCI Banned and Restricted Announcement. For me, the announcement signaled that it may be safe to start creative deckbuilding again in the Casual Constructed room of Magic Online.

The idea behind Skullclamp was to keep Wrath of God effects in check and allow creature decks a chance in a control environment. It was also probably an attempt to push the limits of Equipment with regards to power level in the same way Rancor pushed the limits of creature enchantments.

What is so disappointing to me about Skullclamp is its untapped potential. I have heard more ways to”balance” Skullclamp than any other card. Make it cost more. Make the equip cost two or three. Make the bonus +1/+0. Make it draw one card instead of two. All of the above. Everyone seemed to see the intent of the card and want to transform it into a very good card instead of a ridiculously good one.

There are a lot of bummer side effects of Skullclamp getting banned. The worst, in my opinion, is that Skullclamp has shaken some people’s faith in the Development process. After all, how could such a thing possibly slip through the cracks?

Having been an”insider” of Magic for over two years, I can tell you that my faith in Magic R&D isn’t all that shaken. You can’t expect Wizards to innovate if it doesn’t push the limits of its cards now and again. Every R&D lab in every industry knows it will allow a certain amount of failure in order to truly be creative. Usually the Magic failures are caught before a card sees print, but I’m personally fine with a big”oops!” every few years if it’s corrected quickly.

Skullclamp was a big”oops!” and it was corrected quickly. I lost three or four months worth of fun deckbuilding, but the good news is that I have also barely scratched the surface of the entire Mirrodin block.

I’m an easy guy to please, apparently.

Now let’s all hope Krark-Clan Ironworks isn’t as scary as everyone keeps saying it is so that I can actually spend some blog-time making decks…

Blog Elemental – Let’s Get This Party Started

June 1, 2004

I have decided to write a Magic blog. Knutson has decided to publish it. Freaky.

Who am I? I’m a Magic player of course. More specifically, I’m a”casual player” who has flipped cards since Ice Age. I’m also an”online player” who currently owns few non-digital cards. I’m also a”featured writer” who has written for the likes of StarCity and Magicthegathering.com, usually about kooky deckbuilding. I’m also a”names and flavor text writer,” starting with Fifth Dawn and currently working on Betrayers of Kamigawa. If you have an interest in any of these perspectives, by all means tune in every day.

That’s right, I’ll be writing every friggin’ day. It’s an odd paradox that I have more time for a daily blog than a weekly article, but it’s true. Ted and I have decided to give this idea of mine a month to kick the tires and see if it’s worth pursuing further. June is the Blog Elemental Beta, or something.

I have a lot of other things going on in my life–a wife, son, job, friends, novel I’m writing, and other gaming, for example. But this isn’t a blog about my life; It’s my Magic blog. As a result, I promise that every day will be relevant to Magic without a lot of other crap to gum up the gears.

Or cogs, or whatever.

I guarantee you won’t like every day, but give it a week or so and you’ll have an idea what I’m trying to do. Speak up in the Forums about what you’d like to see more or less of and I’ll try to adjust accordingly.