CASUAL FRIDAYS #69: Songs And Victory

Break this Contest has banned AND (Shyft is an Ice Age creature that can go multichromatic at instant speed.) Any submission using should be resubmitted. Anthony apologizes for the oversight, and would like to state for the record that he thinks Ice Age is a lovely expansion, and that people who think about Ice Age…

Break this Contest has banned Sliver Queen AND Shyft

(Shyft is an Ice Age creature that can go multichromatic at instant speed.) Any submission using Shyft should be resubmitted. Anthony apologizes for the oversight, and would like to state for the record that he thinks Ice Age is a lovely expansion, and that people who think about Ice Age all the time are the best darn people in the whole world.

A few weeks ago, I began the issue thread of building decks around songs. This week I’ll end that thread by putting up several ideas that our group put together. At the end, I will reward your patience by revealing the next BREAK THIS CARD contest.

How introductory that paragraph was! Very scholastic of me. I guess I must be running out of zippy introduction ideas.


I’ve lumped the decks that we played into two groups: the traditional stalwarts, and the highly interpretive. All are worthwhile sources of ideas for your own group, should you do this format. You can decide for yourself how tight you want to draw the rules – for some groups, the second set of decks would be stretching it a bit much. But our group likes to have a bit of freedom in their deckbuilding; and with everyone wanting to stick to the spirit of the idea, no one put together an obviously broken deck that took too much liberty with the lyrics of a song.

THE STALWARTS. The four decks that stuck most closely to the original idea I proposed – build a deck that is clearly and indisputably around one song – came from Dave, Jim, Ben, and Pete in our group. Dave chose "Hark the Herald Angels Sing!" You get no points for guessing what was in there. He did put four mountains in his monowhite for the verse "And the mountains in reply," which gets him big points for living up as much as possible to the words of the song at his own expense. And the Angel’s Trumpet had a big impact on play that evening.

Jim played "The Star Spangled Banner," complete with Goblin Bombs bursting in air and Reya, Dawnbringer’s early light. Also included: Fight or Flight, Battle Rampart, Flame Wave, and then a bunch of cards from rather less well-known verses. (Yes, Francis Scott Key wrote more than one verse to that poem. We only sing the first of them.) The verse "mists of the deep" could have generated an entire deck of its own; Jim chose the worthy Fog Bank. "The breeze o’er the towering steep" gave Jim Breezekeepers and Tower Drakes. And so on. Unfortunately, this sparkling red-white-blue concoction got beaten badly, since many of the cards cost so much.

Ben played Charlie Daniels’ "The Legend of Wooley Swamp." This nifty green-black deck included People of the Woods, Dark Heart of the Wood, Gravedigger, Quicksand, and a complement of alligators, snakes, rats, ghosts and other things clearly indicated in the song. Some really clever turns: "make a man die of fright" easily translated into Terror, and "thirteen rusty Mason jars" morphed well enough into a Memory Jar!

Pete created a mono-red deck based on Metallica’s "Ride the Lightning." Heavy metal is SO good for Magic deck song lyrics! As with Dave’s angel deck, none of Pete’s choices should surprise you: Lightning Bolt, Ball Lightning, etc. Hey, don’t knock it; it’s a song, it says "lightning," and so do the Magic cards. Better than I ended up doing…

THE INTERPRETIVE. I will admit I had a lousy time deciding on a song. How humiliating! I came up with the idea, got in a bunch of really good deck ideas… and then couldn’t settle on a darn thing. I flipped through just about every one of my CDs, thinking up possibilities. (The most promising of the discarded, which speak for themselves: Peter Gabriel’s "Red Rain" and Metallica’s "Battery.") Finally, though, I decided to take a crack at classical music. I chose Stravinsky’s "Firebird Suite," relying on Shivan Phoenix and the Shard Phoenix as my base. According to the legend upon which the Suite is based, the bird is captured by a guy who lets her go as long as she promises to help him down the road (Debt of Loyalty). He runs into trouble upon approaching a bad guy’s castle (Castle) where a clarion (Alarum) awakens the guardians (Lotus Guardian and Opal Gargoyle).

Somewhere in there, thirteen maidens come out and dance. Don’t ask me why; Mr. Stravinsky does not have an email forwarding address for your queries. I went by women-in-artwork on this one, and picked a range of powerful (Karmic Guide, which fit the phoenix theme) and crummy (Bird Maiden) creatures who were obviously female.

As life gets rough for the hero, he summons the firebird back to help. She tells him the only way to get rid of the bad guy is to destroy the egg that is the source of his power. Hello, Rukh Egg!

So my deck stretched the parameters a little, in that the thirteen maidens were not exactly within the letter of the rules. But believe me, a Bird Maiden never came out and turned any game drastically in my favor.

Another deck that didn’t cross the line so far, but still stretched lyrics a bit to make some cards fit, came from Bill. Bill chose "Puff the Magic Dragon" as his song, and it was a terrific choice. Puffer Extract! Cloak of Mists! Reef Pirates! Rhystic Cave! And, of course, dragons. (Pick your poison there. Bill’s deck had Covetous Dragon, Crosis, Dragon Whelp, Two-Headed, and a bunch of others.) Of course, Puffer Extract isn’t "Puff," but the similarity is just too golden; no one could begrudge Bill this card.

Unfortunately, Bill seemed mana-screwed for most of the evening; but his deck deserves applause for harnessing the lyric power of a song we all know, but usually forget we know.

Theo, who apparently has nothing else better to do than show off his amazing card collection, really struck gold with a deck that not only fit the them, but had nothing but lands in it. Can you guess the title?

This land is your land, this land is my land (Rainbow Vale)
From California, to the New York Island (Remote Isle),
From the Redwood Forest (he actually picked out a Forest with redwoods for this, which made up for the liberally interpretive Treetop Village), to the Gulf Stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.

Other lyrics he interpreted really well, but really liberally: "As the fog was lifting" gave him a control tool in Hall of Mists (and he could ALWAYS pay the upkeep!), "I roamed and rambled" gave him Maze of Ith, "a sign was painted said Private Property" became Mishra’s Factory, "shadow of the steeple" became Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale, and "by the Relief Office I saw my people" became Kor Haven and Safe Haven.

Note that those are the original song lyrics, not the happy-go-lucky gussied-up version. The original song was an ironic treatise on inequality in America. Really! I asked Theo why he didn’t put in Sorrow’s Path, given that land’s massive reputation and decent fit with the feel of the song. He replied that it was too horrible even for this deck. Fair enough.


I will admit I have missed this contest. At one point I was content to let it slip into oblivion; but I have found as the Break-this-Card-less weeks go on that I felt more and more like I ought to open up the lines again to wacky reader ideas. Certainly WotC has given us a bevy of worthy cards to choose from. Why let the opportunity go unfulfilled?

I’ll stay current and go with an Invasion card that (a) the Ferrett hates, (b) I don’t particularly care for either, and (c) Pete loves. Coalition Victory, whatever you think of it, is a card begging for casual deck fame. (Casual deck fame brings with it all the trappings, including casual deck groupies, casual deck wild parties in hotel rooms, and casual deck early death by overdose while slumped over in the bathtub.)

The problem with Coalition Victory, of course, is that every deck is going to have 4x Sliver Queen in it. Booooooooring. So I am adding a parameter to this Break this Card contest: SLIVER QUEEN IS BANNED.

(That said, I’ve copied and pasted down below my recipe for a three-turn Coalition Victory deck from Casual Fridays #62, in case you missed it and are dying to know.)

With Sliver Queen out of the way, and Coalition Victory being its own automatic path to victory, I’m pretty bullish about this card as a contest. There should be LOTS of room in your deck for innovation. 56 slots, to be precise.

The contest rules are as follows. To be considered (and I will send you confirmation of receipt, probably within a week or so), a deck must:

  • Be legal in either Type I, Extended, Type II, and/or Invasion block. (Specify if you don’t think it’s clear; I can usually figure it out.)
  • Be accompanied with your real first and last name. Honestly. You’re so interesting to me, I want to know the real you. Plus I always hate responding to names like "The Elf that Hates You" or [email protected]. Just a pet peeve of mine. You and your birth name deserve recognition for your genius. (Editors excepted – The Ferrett)
  • Come from an email address that I can respond to. (Sounds stupid to have to say it, but if you only knew…)
  • Contain 1-4 copies of Coalition Victory.
  • Be received at my email address [email protected] by MIDNIGHT THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2001. That should give you time to digest a little holiday meal coalition of your own.

To have a reasonable chance of winning, a deck must:

  • Have a SHORT description of how victory is achieved. (In this case, how you expect to get Coalition Victory out and have it resolve, somewhat reliably.)

  • Stay reasonably close to the 60-card minimum.

  • Work arguably well in multiplayer games.

  • Avoid excessive reliance on the Power Nine.

  • Make me laugh and/or cry and/or want to quit Magic in disgust.

So go make your deck.

I really like this contest when I get 80-100 entries. (Actually I think there was one that got me about 150. THAT was some rough picking and choosing, but fun!) So if you’re even lightly interested in winning, go ahead and give it a shot. You may be the next proud recipient of a Coalition Victory with my hasty scribble on it!

So go make your deck!

If there are more than 100 individuals entered, I’ll award TWO winning decks. If we reach 150 again, I’ll award FIVE winning decks for a true coalition victory!


Peace and happy holidays,
Anthony Alongi

Now, as promised, the excerpt from #62:

"All right, I haven’t seen anyone do this yet, so I’ll go ahead and take first stab. I THINK this base will give you the fastest win, short of extra-turn loop cards. (There are doubtless other variants using less. I only gave myself fifteen minutes to think about this one, folks; cut me some slack.)

"4x Coalition Victory
4x Show and Tell
4x Sliver Queen
4x Skyshroud Elf
1x Voltaic Key
1x Sol Ring
1x Grim Monolith
4x each of the old-style dual lands (or as many as you have, anyway)

"On your draw, you want Bayou, Tundra, Skyshroud Elf, Sol Ring, Grim Monolith, Show and Tell, and Voltaic Key. You’ll topdeck the Volcanic Island (or any other dual land that includes a mountain), Sliver Queen, and Coalition Victory, in that order, being the lucky guy you are.

"* Turn one, lay Bayou, tap it to play Sol Ring, tap the Ring to play Grim Monolith.
* Turn two, lay Tundra, tap Bayou and Monolith to play Skyshroud Elf, use remaining two colorless and Tundra to play Show and Tell, lay out Sliver Queen. Tap the Sol Ring, play Voltaic Key, use remaining mana to untap the Grim Monolith.
* Turn three, lay Volcanic Island, tap all three lands (GBU) and Ring (filter to WR through Elf) and Monolith (3) for a total of WBURG3 to play Coalition Victory. You can even attack with the Sliver Queen AND Elf beforehand, if you like living dangerously. (Think Exile, Sandstorm, etc….better yet, why don’t you just keep those creatures at home and play your lame combo spell?)"