Casual Fridays #57: A Good Time For Random Thoughts

I think I will give my readers a theory break this week! I’m sensitive to the fact that my previous three articles have all been rather technical, with humorous asides few and far between. Really, I didn’t intend for all three to stack like that. There were three reasons why this happened. (Actually there were…

I think I will give my readers a theory break this week!

I’m sensitive to the fact that my previous three articles have all been rather technical, with humorous asides few and far between. Really, I didn’t intend for all three to stack like that. There were three reasons why this happened. (Actually there were five or six; but I’m shooting for less complex right now.)

1) WE’RE ALL WAITING FOR INVASION. There have been a couple of articles, both here and elsewhere on the Internet, that with Invasion coming, there doesn’t seem to be much else to talk about…yet there’s not enough information to make lots of really exciting articles. Casual players (and writers) don’t feel this pinch as much as the tournament set; but I’m a bit hampered myself. First of all, I’m saving a lot of my material on cards played, cards seen, cards thought of, for the next Hall of Fame edition (which will roll out in late September/early October). That means I can’t do as many stories about specific cards or plays in my group… that’s where a lot of the fun comes in. Second, who wants to hear about my dorky RepercussionPyroclasmDingus Staff deck right now? Bring on the Skezzik.

2) MY LIFE IS IN TRANSITION. Ah, how often we Internet columnists sing that tune. I don’t care for it when I hear it, as much as I sympathize. I try hard to come up with material every week, and because sometimes I force it, you folks get a clearer window into my mood every week. The last few weeks, I have been a bit humorless because I’ve FELT a bit humorless. It’s a pretty simple input-output equation. With luck, I didn’t attract too many abstract-theory geeks while I was in Vulcan mode. ("Dear Anthony, Last week’s article had some juicy technical terms in it, and I loved your quadratic equations. But do you have to make these…what do you call them…jokes?…all the time? Regards, Sarek Angel.")

3) MY GROUP DRIVES MY TOPICS. And really, they’ve been quite the dry lot of late. All this talk of who’s the real threat, and did I overextend, blah blah blah. I suppose that means we’re all getting better, but sometimes to get better, you have to think of boring things. Take a look at the photos from any of those Pro Tour coverage sites – are any of them EVER smiling? Of course not. They’re the best.

Anyhow, this week is devoted to three random topics, because there’s lots out there that’s happening, and a lot of it is easy to make fun of.


I’ve recently recreated a fun deck that is moderately good, but hardly stunning, in multiplayer. It is red-blue and contains a base of the following:

4x Tangle Wire (just got my fourth Wednesday night!)
4x Tradewind Rider
4x Goblin Medics
1x Opposition

And enough creatures like Man o’ War, Cloudskate, and Arc Mage to fuel the Rider’s passion for returning things.

Really, the whole deck is just an excuse to get out two Goblin Medics with a Tradewind Rider, and ping one thing (or two things!) while I return a permanent to an owner’s hand. The Tangle Wire (and Opposition) gives me another way of tapping permanents. Arc Mages let me use late/extra Wires as fuel to burn.

There’s nothing infinite, nothing recursive, no unbelievable combo beyond that. (What were you expecting, Trade-Awakening?)

The deck also runs a couple of Avatars of Fury. This is a new trend in my group, and I couldn’t stand not being part of the trend. Some day, we’re each of going to have at least one Avatar of Fury out all at once, and then we’ll realize we’ve really beat this Avatar thing to death. For now, it’s fun.

Just a couple of nights ago, hard up for a deck while we were at Dreamers waiting to draft, The Amazing Theo (as he now insists I call him) lowered himself to use one of my decks. He happened to pick this one. Although he pretended not to enjoy himself and kept muttering adjectives like "lame" and "suboptimal," I know for a fact he got a kick out of having two Tangle Wires out at once.

He didn’t even mind having red in the deck at all. This could be because he has just constructed his first majority-red deck in years. What I call CLUMSYGOBLINS.DEQ includes a base of the following:

4x Goblin Marshall
4x Moggcatcher
4x Shrieking Mogg
? Goblin Lackey
? Goblin Scouts
? Goblin Warrens
4x Jinxed Idol
4x Copy Artifact

There’s other blue artifact Tinker-style silliness in there, too; but I just had to list this much because I’m so proud of Theo. This deck is ALMOST aggressive! In a nine-player game, he had something like four or five idols whipping around the table, which kept everyone on their toes. He can still control creatures by ‘catching the Shrieking Mogg at key points, and he can if pressed rush a player or two with extra goblins.

One thing to look out for – that is, a trick that doesn’t work:

Theo is attacking Carl with a goblin token. Carl blocks with a 2/1 something or other. It is their last (expendable) creature for both of them. Lethal damage is on the stack for both creatures. Theo, in possession of an Idol, sacks his dying goblin and gives the Idol to Carl.

Carl pauses, thinks for a moment…and then sacks HIS creature to give the Idol back.

"Oh, right," says Theo. (How did this guy get on the Pro Tour again?)

But mishaps aside, I think this deck is a ton of fun to watch. With a bit more tinkering to make sure there are always plenty of goblins, this is a deck that should wreck a group that’s getting control-happy. And creatureless decks…well, they just worship the Idol, don’t they?


Web surfers often get into habits. For the past few months, we’ve all gotten into the habit of NOT going to the Dojo, since it updates were still infrequent and postings of mixed quality. Since the Dojo was the original home of Casual Fridays (which will remain firmly here at Star City) (Thank you – The Ferrett), I always have a special and grateful outlook on the site.

So I was thrilled when I randomly checked back there a couple of weeks ago and saw what Chris Senhouse has done with it since taking over as editor. Top tier player-writers like Adrian Sullivan, Lauren Passmore, and Chad Ellis are back there. Some real good strategy is coming back…and from what I’ve seen recently, they may even regrow a casual element!

I encourage readers, especially those who felt betrayed earlier this year as the Dojo collapsed, to click on over to www.thedojo.com and see if they don’t feel like we might be getting an old treasure back. It will still take time, and there’s a reputation to be rebuilt, but I do want to take a moment and give public kudos to Chris Senhouse. (Maybe he’ll update my article archives up to #39 over there!)


Yeah, all right, I’ll talk a tiny bit about Invasion. Of course, we all know by now that there will be a small army of new legends in the new expansion. There are enough to make it worthwhile for Wizards to make a legend capable of waxing other legends.

I applaud this bow to the more casual set, though I feel in most cases legends get overshadowed by more powerful multiplayer effects in group play. Legends’ best place seems to me to be in casual duels, and the occasional starring role in a particularly creative multiplayer deck.

And creativity? Well, I think we can pull that off, if we all work together…

With that in mind, I would like to open up a NEW CONTEST, one that has the taste of "Break this Card" but with a bit of a twist. ("Break this Card" will likely return before the end of the calendar year.) The new contest, "Connect the Dots", will encourage people to flesh out a multiplayer deck that I’ve already "started" building.

I’m afraid that for the deck in this kind of contest, I’m a bit confused. I’ve assembled three cards (four of each) that really shouldn’t work together very well. YOUR JOB IS TO MAKE THE DECK WORK, by keeping the cards I suggest and adding your own touches to overcome my foolishness.

You must connect these three dots to create EUREKA!ANERVOUSDRAGON.DEQ:

* 4x Darigaaz, the Igniter (6/6 Elder Dragon Legend for 3BRG, Flying, Whenever this deals combat damage to a player, you may pay 2R. If you do, choose a color. That player reveals his or her hand and Darigaaz deals X damage to him or her, where X is the number of cards revealed of that color).
* 4x Unnerve (Sorcery for 3B, Each opponent chooses and discards two cards).
* 4x Eureka (Sorcery for 2GG, Each player may put an artifact, creature, enchantment, or land card from his or her hand into play. Players take turns playing cards from their hands until no one wants to put another card into play. If a spell has an X in its casting cost, X = 0).

The tension, of course, is that you are trying to use a finisher that depends on people having cards in their hand, but the other two cards are flushing cards out. At the same time, Eureka (a party spell) and Unnerve (a party-crasher spell) aren’t exactly best buddies, either.

You wanna play? Here are the detailed rules:
1) You cannot ignore any of the three cards. Each one must contribute something valid (but not necessarily central) to the path to victory.
2) You cannot DONATE any of the three cards. Cripes, I hate that card. Folks, these cards may be tough cases, but with enough love and attention, they can be loyal to you. Give them away like mangy puppies, and you’ve lost a small part of yourself.
3) Your deck must be legal in a DCI-approved format: Type I, Extended, Type II, block. Any cards I give you that seem "illegal" in a particular format you want to use (e.g., Eureka in Type II) can be treated as though they were legal in that format.
4) You may use CONFIRMED Invasion cards.
5) Entries are due by midnight (CST) on Thursday, September 28.
6) Entries must include a complete DECKLIST, your REAL NAME, and (optional) a SHORT explanation of how the deck works. SHORT means 200 words or less. You must also provide a functional email address. (Sometimes, I get emails from readers and I try to reply, and for some reason where they sent it from doesn’t receive the reply. This mystifies me. Isn’t that sort of like calling someone up on the telephone, asking them to call you right back, and then when they do you answer in a foreign accent and deny you know whom they’re talking about? Help me out, people.)
7) Decks that stay close to the sixty card minimum and eschew infinite combos will be viewed more favorably. Those that don’t are still eligible, but will get funny sidelong glances from me on more than one occasion.
8) Decks that stay in or close to the colors of the three cards provided will likewise be viewed more favorably. Hey, you can all TRY blue bounce to restock people’s hands, I guess…I won’t disqualify you on those grounds alone. But your case four using UU spells had better be good. My trusty canine companion Turquoise frowns upon overly complex color combinations, and when she sees one (she’s rather adept with Internet Outlook), she barks "DELETE!" and the voice-activated software sends your overly creative contribution to the virtual doggy-turd pile. She’s a tough gatekeeper, folks. Don’t jerk her chain. (Man, that was a long way to go for that one. Are you all SURE you don’t want me to stick to dry, technical articles?)
9) I will try to acknowledge, briefly, receipt of every entry. Bear with me; it may take a few days, or even a couple of weeks.

I would really love all of the creative ideas you folks have! Plus, I’m letting you play with a new card. You KNOW you all want to use this new Dragon Legend. I’m just making you prove you really have the guts to make him work for you.

COMING SOON: Bookish lessons about Magic. And the new Hall is a mere two weeks away! I suppose I should start writing it.

Anthony Alongi
[email protected]