Confused? Well, I admit that Edgar hammered a little heavy on the absinthe, but he probably didn’t fall asleep dreaming of Squee.
What I’m trying to bring to your attention is the importance of theme.
There was a time, back when you were still creating hundred-card decks, that you created some deck just for the goofy fun of it. At the time, nobody you knew was accessing the Sideboard’s coverage to Xerox Kai’s latest deck… Nor did you have the urge to rip through booster packs obsessively, tossing down money like a sailor at a strip club, all in a desperate attempt to crack open a card that, to all intents and purposes, looks like the world’s nerdiest pimp.
(I mean, not that I’m bashing the guy… But if I won the Invitational and got to design my own card, I’d try not to make myself look quite as much like the King of Dork Village. I hear tell that Kai Budde, in his long-winning streak of outdoing Finkel, will be painted in a set of frilly lingerie, doing the”I’m a little teacup” dance for Wisedrafter’s Will.)
No. Back in those days, you didn’t even know spoiler lists existed. And you created cool decks out of the cards you had…
Or you went and bought singles to flesh out your theme deck.
Theme decks are the coolest thing in Magic, because people love playing them even when they’re losing.
When you get crushed by some net deck, you just feel dumb. But when a theme deck is resting its steel-toed boot on your windpipe, you have two consolations:
1) The cards are usually substandard – they have to be, if they’re really in theme. Sure, you can find some way to justify throwing an Urza’s Rage in a chicken deck (“Chickens are really, really mad at Frank Perdue!”), but that’s no fun. No, for a good theme deck, every card has to fit the theme, with some of them just plain sucking.
2) Figuring out the theme of the deck is part of the challenge. In a good theme deck, you can lose but still won -“Hey, he beat me 25-0, but I finally figured out that his deck was supposed to be 80’s Rock Bands!!”
Everyone creates a theme deck sooner or later, and some of them are cool. (In fact, I’m willing to give away good clean cards to ensure that I see the coolest ones…. But more on that in a bit.) When you boil ’em down, there’s three types of theme decks:
The Dramatic Theme Deck.
The best way I can illustrate the coolest kind of theme deck is by stealing a deck from my friend Jeff”Murda Is Mah Bidness, And Bidness Is Good” Moeller:
4 Wall of Souls
4 Cemetery Gate
4 Raven Familiar
1 Bottomless Pit
1 Razor Pendulum
1 Lost Soul
1 Giant Trap Door Spider
1 Phantom Monster
1 Misers Cage
1 Cursed Land
1 Nettling Imp
3 Essence Bottle
1 Recurring Nightmare
1 Scroll Rack
1 Tragic Poet
1 Blossoming Wreath
1 Frozen Shade
1 Cyclopean Mummy
1 Chaos Harlequin
1 Uktabi Orangutan
1 Phyrexian Plaguelord
1 Tawnos’ Coffin
Land and more land
Do you get the theme? I’ll hum that”Jeopardy” theme song for you while you’re thinkin’.
Got it? No?
I didn’t either. It’s Edgar Allen Poe.
All of the cards either have flavor text by Poe (the original Frozen Shade and Lost Soul), or represent some aspect of Poe:
4 Raven Familiar (“Quoth the Raven”)
1 Bottomless Pit
1 Razor Pendulum (“The Pit And The Pendulum)
3 Essence Bottle (Absinthe)
1 Contagion (The Black Cat)
3 Oubliette (The Cask of Amontillado)
1 Tawnos’ Coffin (The Telltale Heart)
1 Uktabi Orangutan (Murder In the Rue Morgue)
…and so on. There is, however, something critical and unusual about this deck:
Jeff claims he’s won games with it.
Jeff winning with his theme deck is unusual, because most Dramatic Theme Decks suck. You have to stretch to include cards that fit the theme, which usually wander all across the colors, and then the deck is so weak it doesn’t work.
I myself made a deck in honor of famous D&D adventure”The Tomb Of Horrors.” The deck fit the theme perfectly, but had a mana curve that looked like the Challenger taking off. It, too, included Wall of Souls, which was one of only two two-drops in the deck. The rest started at four and went up. I also couldn’t bring myself not to include every card that could possibly be included (Temporal Aperture, because there was time travel – my other two-drop) and put them in in the rough number of them that actually existed in the Tomb (sure, Booby Trap costs six, but the Tomb is riddled with traps! Same with Extinction! Temportal Aperture is useful, but there’s only one in the Tomb!).
I never won a single game. Eventually, I threw the deck away in disgust. I mean, I really threw it – into a wall. Of souls.
Man, that hurt.
The Obscure Theme Deck.
John”Obscenities ‘R’ Us” came up with this one:
Adult Situations and Themes
3x Brass Man
4x Kavu Titan
2x Whipstitched Zombie
2x Viashino Sandscout
1x Mogg Assassin
3x Brass Secretary
2x Royal Assassin
2x Blood Vassal
1x Stronghold Assassin
1x Titania’s Chosen
2x Viashino Sandstalker
2x Sandstone Warrior
1x Tsabo’s Assassin
1x Notorious Assassin
1x Sand Golem
1x Laccolith Titan
3x Mystic Compass
1x Titania’s Boon
1x Scrying Glass
1x Star Compass
4x Bayou *** not in theme ***
4x Taiga *** not in theme ***
4x City of Brass
3x Sandstone Needle
2x Swamp *** not in theme ***
“T**,””Sand,””Ass.” Get it? All of the cards contain one of these words. Believe it or not, the Riz ain’t alone on his palindromic island sanctuary; I’ve seen other decks that use some sort of play on words. These are slightly easier to build and win with, mainly because cards with similiar names tend to have similar functions….And thus, tend to be a bit stronger. The downside is that they’re damn near impossible to figure out unless somebody tells you what the heck it is.
The Creature Deck.
So, like, how lame was the Invitational selection, huh?
All right, all right; Mark Rosewater taken so much crap from his Invitational contest that he’s currently living in a Port-A-Potty. But it’s a shame that not only did he choose bad decks that weren’t in theme and broke fundamental rules of Magic (Gary Wise All Rats-And-Lotuses deck? Come on, Woody!), but he also went with the”critter” theme deck, limiting the creativity of the collective populace.
Creature decks are the simplest to build, the most effective, and the least creative. For one thing, making a creature deck is ridiculously easy; you just go to MTGNews.com’s spoiler generator, click on”creature type,” and pull up all the creatures. Select the best. Throw in a few enchantments or instants that seem to season to taste.
What fun is that?
Well, lots, actually, if you make noise. I myself had a ball with my Goblin deck, which was much feared back in the day of Urza’s Saga, when my friends and I wouldn’t have known a Tolarian Academy if it had bitten us in the ass:
The Core Goblins:
4 Goblin Balloon Brigade (They fly!)
4 Goblin King (They get bigger)
4 Mogg Fanatic (They explode)
4 Goblin Matron (They get me cards)
4 Goblin Lackey (They save me mana)
1 Goblin Wizard (all I had)
4 Goblin Chirugeon (They keep surprising opponents, who keep forgetting that I can save my goblins by sacrificing her)
2 Goblin Swine-Rider (They serve as a disincentive to block)
4 Goblin Grenade (They blow things up real good)
2 Mogg Infestation (They get used as a unilateral Wrath of God on my opponents when I’m swarming in for the kill)
4 Goblin Shrine (They get bigger butts)
2 Coat of Arms (They get bigger in general)
2 Goblin Flotilla (Islandwalk? What kind of Goblin has islandwalk?)
1 Goblin Snowman (Heh)
2 Goblin Ski Patrol (They fly, briefly, but they’re also not bad on”D”)
2 Last-Ditch Effort (They all explode in response to a Wrath of God, which nobody ever played in those days, ’cause we sucked!)
2 Outmaneuver (They can’t be blocked!)
2 Marton Stromgald (They….)
Okay, the Marton Stromgald was lame.
I defended him with all my might, claiming that someone had to lead the goblins to victory. That Goblin King was evidently too sluggish and lazy, so Marton had to come in to save them!
Yeah, I don’t believe it, either. (If he was there to lead them, there should only be one of him.) And he never actually worked… Someone always picked up the card, read it, went”Holy crap! Kill it!”, and then Marton died. His ability never got used once.
Yes, there’s like a zillion cards in there. I sucked back then, remember?
So What’s The Point?
I think”Poe” is probably the best theme deck I’ve ever seen. But I’m willing to bet that there’s better.
I’d ask you to just send them in, but I know you Magic players are a greedy bunch of bastiges who won’t get off your pasty-white, Popinfresh butts unless I hand out the cold, hard cards, so….
…not that I’m bitter…
Send me your theme decks. Tell me what the theme is, how the cards fit in, and how (or if) you’ve ever won with it. Do so, and the best deck will receive $25 in StarCity credit, right here on this site. For every thirty entries I get, I’ll pull an Alongi and throw in an extra $15 in credit for an additional runner-up.
What are the rules?
1) All submissions must be in by November 31st. Or 30th. You know, I never remember which month ends when. How many days hath November? Crap.
2) All submissions will be graded on creativity, consistency to theme, and general effectiveness… In that order. I want really cool ideas, folks, with weird cards. If you can win with cards that nobody’s ever heard of, then great.
3) The decks can be any theme you want, but be warned that creature decks will have an inherently uphill battle. Hard to be creative when R&D’s done most of the work for you, so don’t just toss me your chicken deck and expect to walk away with the prize. However, the”That’s A Big Cock!” deck, featuring Zodiac Rooster and Giant Growth… Well, I probably wouldn’t publish it, but Rizzo would be proud.
4) Decks can be in any format you like. Really. And feel free to go nuts on cards.
Now get crackin’ and show me the decks!
The Here Edits This Here Site Here Guy