Casual Play: Magic and Money

Here are some things I’ve learned about getting the most Magic for your bucks, including a list of several cheap, useful cards.

It costs money to play Magic. That’s just an unfortunate reality. Cards cost money; good cards cost more money. Getting all the cards is really expensive. (Someone posted a collection of four each of every Magic card ever printed on eBay. Bids reached $15,000. That’s insane!) But Magic is a hobby, like fishing or auto racing or collecting fine art. You can spend a lot of money on a hobby.

Here are some things I’ve learned about getting the most Magic for your bucks. But first, a decklist, just to prove you can build useful decks for next to nothing. This is a simple T2 deck I am carrying around for pickup games, and it works reasonably well in duels and multiplayer. It suffers a bit from that lack of focus, and from having no amazing cards. However, if I meet a new player and just want to get a few fun games in, this is the deck I reach for:

Lifemonger, aka Stupider Green:
4x Squallmonger
4x Llanowar Elf
4x Quirion Elf
4x River Boa
4x Blastoderm
4x Silverglade Elemental

4x Wax/Wane
4x Armadillo Cloak
2x Skyshroud Claim
2x Desert Twister
15x Forest
3x Plains
4x Elfhame Sanctuary

The concept is pretty simple: Hang on until you can get a Squallmonger and put Armadillo Cloak on her, then Squall for all you can. Armadillo Cloak provides life for every point of damage of all types, not just combat damage. At the very least, you will do one damage to your opponent and one to yourself, but gain two life for each Squallmonger activation. If the opponent has fliers, you gain more life.

The other cards are there for support and alternative beats. Let’s look at the mana first. The Llanowar Elves provide mana acceleration, and the Quirion Elves also provide some mana acceleration, and white mana. The Quirion Elves would be better off as Birds of Paradise, so substitute them if you have them. The lands are okay as listed, but substitute Savannahs or Brushlands for some forests if you have those. The two Skyshroud Claims are there to get enough mana for a big Squall or for the Desert Twister. I’m not completely happy with them, and Quirion Trailblazers or Wood Elves might prove better.

The defense is provided by the River Boas and Silverglade Elementals. River Boas are great multipurpose creatures – they regenerate to block Blastoderms turn after turn, they are unblockable if the opponent controls an island, and they are cheap. Play them if you have them, but you could substitute Albino Trolls, Acridians or Walls of Roots, or even Vine Trellises in a pinch. If you have some Savannahs or Brushlands to get a little more white mana, a Radiant’s Dragoons or two could also work on defense.

The beats are provided by the Blastoderms, the Silverglade Elementals and – if necessary – by the Squallmonger. The Blastoderms are good, but in larger multiplayer games you might want to trade them for something that stays around longer. Blastoderms are fast beating sticks, but you cannot kill several people with a Blastie.

The most important card in the deck is, surprisingly, the Wax and Wane. It kills enchantments, true, but it also kills Blastoderms. I can’t tell you how often I have blocked something like a Jade Leech with a Silverglade Elemental, then pumped the Elemental to a 6/6.

Anyhow, that’s the deck. You can probably put it together for a couple bucks – almost for free if you have the River Boas and Elfhame Sanctuaries. You can probably trade commons for nearly anything else.

So lets get back to getting more bang for your Magic bucks. Here are some options for getting the cards you need for very few dollars:

1) Shop around. Prices vary. The best deals are frequently from dealers at tournaments, provided you are looking for cards that are not part of the current or upcoming tournament format. Check out the dollar binders. I have often found really good cards (Serendib Efreet, for example) for a tenth of what the local stores would sell them. And vice versa. Battered cards at stores catering to collectors are often really underpriced. You can also get real deals at online auctions, but only once in a while. If you are buying online, check the seller’s feedback and the history of what that item has sold for in the past.

2) Play Sealed deck and Booster Draft tourneys at local stores. If you are looking to build a basic collection, Sealed deck tournaments at local card stores are great places to start. You get 105 cards (one tourney pack, two boosters) from a recent set and you build your deck from those. And you keep those cards. A chance to play and to get cards – what a deal! As an added bonus, many experienced players will often give away their common cards, and maybe even uncommons, after the tourney. I do. Just explain that you’re a new player with just a few cards, and be polite about it.

Don’t worry if you are new to tournaments. The store owners want you to enjoy yourself and to come back. So they will often give you advice – if you come early and they are not too busy – or will hook you up with someone who can. Most decent players – at least around here – will give you good advice on how to draft, how to build your deck, and what to avoid. The good players will beat you by outplaying you – and don’t need to give you bad advice.

3) Trade for what you need. If you like playing control and your friend loves beatdown, swap that Skizzik you aren’t using (and probably a couple Coastal Tower) for his unused Absorb. But, please, trade fairly. We all want to keep playing Magic for years, and that means we need to keep getting new people into the game. Ripping new players off is not the best way to introduce them to the game.

4) Borrow from friends. It is pretty rare that I can build a new tournament deck and have all the cards I need. I often email friends and borrow what I don’t have. Of course, this only works if you reciprocate.

5) Use Proxies. Buying a new card can be expensive, especially if you later determine it was not right for the deck. That’s why I frequently use proxies when playtesting. I use copies of cards, proxies printed using Magic Suitcase or Magic Encyclopedia, or just sticky notes in sleeves with spare commons as stiffeners. Then I playtest enough to determine whether the card is worth buying. If so, I buy it. Proxies are not tournament legal, and even in casual play games we frown on proxies, but they are very useful in playtesting.

I also use Adrian Sullivan playing card method. The method is simple: take 60 spare commons, number or letter them, and play with a numbered decklist. For example, cards 1-4 might be Squallmongers, 5-8 would be Llanowar Elves, etc. When you want to change decks, just pull out another decklist. It takes some getting used to, but it is far easier than carrying a bunch of decks.

6) Substitute down. When you just cannot get the good cards, you have to substitute worse ones. However, Greed is not Necro, Zephid is not Morphling, and two Tims (Prodigal Sorcerors) do not a Masticore make. Some cards are just great – others are overcosted and under-useful copies. Better cards make better decks – and using bad alternatives is a step down. Unfortunately, unless you are in Bill Gates’ income bracket, substituting down is often unavoidable. So figure out what you need a card to do, and look for something similar. For example, I used Acridians (2/4 echo creature for 1G) instead of Albino Trolls for a long time. They weren’t as good, but they filled the "blocker for early game" need almost as well.

Here’s a short list of cards to get, by color, to treat yourself to. The list is aimed at casual players in multiplayer games. The first few cards listed for each color are really cheap (generally under a buck each), and definitely worth the price. Then I list a few pricey but really good cards that are worth saving up for. (I’m talking saving up $10 for a Masticore, not $100 for Ancestral Recall. But if you have hundreds of dollars to blow, get the Power Ten. They really are worth it.)

Before everyone in the world emails me, I know this list is not complete. There are almost 5,000 different Magic cards, and I’M going to name the dozen commons worth getting? Of course I’m missing a bunch. Moreover, I’m deliberately skipping the commons from current Type 2 and the basic sets. Do I need to tell anyone that Giant Growth or Llanowar Elves are good green cards? Didn’t think so.


Empyrial Armor: (Weatherlight: 1WW, enchantment, enchanted creature gets +X/+X, where X is equal to the number of cards in your hand.) Empyrial Armor on a white shadow guy has been a path to victory many, many times. It works best with Howling Mine or similar ways of drawing more cards.

Monk Realist, (Urza’s Saga: 1W, 1/1 creature, when Monk Realist comes into play, destroy target enchantment). Disenchant combined with a creature. Cloudchaser Eagle does the same thing, with a higher casting cost, but it is also a 2/2 flier.

Congregate: (Urza’s Saga: 3W, instant, gain 2 life for each creature in play) It’s cheap, since it is a common from a recent set. If you like to play lifegain cards in multiplayer games, this is one of the best. Just don’t expect to make any friends by casting Congregate. Congregate will cost you about $0.05 each.

Radiant’s Dragoons: (Urza’s Legacy: 3W with echo, 2/5 creature, gain 5 life when it enters play.) It’s an uncommon from a recent set, so it is not very expensive. It is a great answer to beatdown decks, since you can block, and if the opponent uses something like Giant Growth to kill it, you got rid of GG, avoided one attack, got five life and won’t have to pay echo. It is even better if you can get Dragoons into play from your graveyard, repeatedly.

Swords to Plowshares: (Ice Age and 4th edition: W, instant, remove target creature, its controller gains life equal to power) Swords is wonderful removal. So what if they get some life, you just removed their best creature from the game. It’s an instant, so you can use it to fizzle Rancor, etc. Exile is similar and YOU get the life, but it costs more (both in dollars and mana) and it won’t fizzle Rancor. Besides, Exile is a rare – Swords is an uncommon.

Honorable Passage (Visions: 1W, Instant, prevent damage from one source. If the source is red, prevent and do damage to the source’s controller.) This card is the bane of all red mages. It was a staple in our Sliver deck’s sideboard, and Ingrid and I have both won matches responding to Price of Progress with Honorable Passage. More importantly, Passage can prevent damage of any color, and prevent it to yourself or a creature. It can mess up blocking, save your creatures, or keep an opponent from gaining life through a Spirit Link or the like. It’s an uncommon from an older set, so it isn’t really cheap, but it is worth the dollar or so it generally costs.

Balance: (basic sets through Revised: 1W, Sorcery: Each player sacrifices enough lands to equalize the number of lands all players control. The player who controls the fewest lands cannot sacrifice any in this way. All players then equalize cards in hand and then creatures in play the same way.) This one is the more expensive option, but it makes a great reset. When you have no other choice, you can bring everyone else down to your level. The ultimate combo is to sacrifice everything to Zuran Orb or Claws of Gix and clear the board. It is a great control card. If you don’t like control, then get a Serra Angel.

The Prodigal Sorcerer (basic sets since Alpha: 2U, 1/1 creature, tap him to do 1 damage to any target) is universally known as Tim, after the sorcerer in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He is overpriced and undertough, but he is fun. A better version, for those of you playing blue heavy decks, is Stinging Barrier (a.k.a. "the Tim Wall," Mercadian Masques, 2UU, 0/4 wall, U and tap to do 1 damage to any target) The wall doesn’t die to most burn spells, Zap, other Tims, and so forth, and it can block. Even better, it can block, then ping something during your last opponent’s end step. If you enjoy irritating people, try spending a night saying, "During your endstep, ping you for one."

Capsize (Tempest: 1UU, buyback 3, bounce target permanent) Buyback means that, if you spend the additional mana when casting the spell, (and it isn’t countered) it comes back to your hand instead of going to the graveyard. In other words, Capsize is a reusable Boomerang. While this isn’t great in large multiplayer games, it is pretty good anywhere. In small games, you can absolutely lock down the opponent: every turn, bounce anything they cast, and bounce land whenever you have spare mana. Massively annoying, and very strong. Giant creatures don’t attack if they have perpetual summoning sickness. Capsize can even handle Blastoderms – but you have to Capsize your blocker, not the Blastoderm.

Hammerhead Sharks: (Stronghold: 1U, 2/3 creature, islandhome). Hammerhead sharks are a good, cheap blocker. The drawback (islandhome) means that they cannot attack if the defender has no islands, and die if you have none. However, that is usually not a problem for a blue mage, since they generally merely have to survive until they can take control. The Hammerhead shark is a great way of getting that control.

Annul: (Urza’s Saga: U, Instant, counter target artifact or enchantment spell). Another cheap common from a recent set, and a very useful card for a blue mage in multiplayer. I have rarely played blue in a game where this was not useful sooner or later.

Hydroblasts / Blue Elemental Blasts: (various: U, instant, counter target red spell or destroy target red permanent.) Red mages have the exact reverse in Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast, but I will mention these just once. If you are a blue mage and your opponents are playing red, these are good.

Propaganda: (Tempest: 2U, enchantment, each creature cannot attack you unless it pays 3 mana) If you are tired of getting beaten down by hordes of tiny creatures, this card is your answer. If nothing else, it buys you some time.

Zephid’s Embrace: (Urza’s Saga: 2UU, enchantment, enchanted creature gets +2/+2, gains flying and cannot be the target of spells or abilities) Yes, it’s a creature enchantment and creature enchantments are generally bad. That said, this one is fun to play with. A flying, untargettable Chilling Apparition is pretty nice. So is the Embrace on a Standing Troops or other "does not tap to attack" creature.

Dominate: (Nemesis: X2U, instant, gain control of target creature with casting cost equal to X permanently.) Another recent uncommon, this is a great way of annoying opponents. Once they get this amazing creature on the board, you steal it. You can even steal a creature during combat and block with it (provided the creature is untapped).

Bribery (Mercadian Masques: 3UU, Sorcery, pick up target opponent’s library, look through it, take the best creature and put it into play on your side. Target opponent may whine until end of turn.) Okay, a caveat: Bribery is just unfair. I don’t play it at all in casual games. It is restricted, for good reason, in 5-Color. However, if your play group allows it – and if you are not too worried about the fact that the group will tend towards combo and weenie beatdown if Bribery gets played too much – it is a really strong card. In most multiplayer games, someone will have a dragon, angel, or Morphling in their deck for you to play with. Bribery lets you have it.


Grave Servitude: (Mirage: 1B, enchantment, You may choose to play Grave Servitude as an instant; if you do, bury it at end of turn. Enchanted creature gets +3/-1 and is black.) Grave Servitude is versatile. It kills elves and Birds of Paradise. It makes your Tidal Kracken or Blockade Runner hit harder. It can be cast as an instant, or hang around as a creature enchantment. I played Twisted Experiment and Maggot Therapy when they were (are) T2 legal, but Servitude is better.

Duress: (Urza’s Saga: B, look at target opponent’s hand, choose a non-land, non-creature card, that player discards that card.) In many ways, this is the best discard card ever printed. (Okay, second best. Hymn to Tourach is probably better.) Duress does not force your opponent to discard creatures, but creatures are not what really destroys you anyway. The Abyss destroys you. Ivory Mask destroys you. No Mercy destroys you. Lightning Bolt burns you or your creatures. But Duress can put all of those in the graveyard – and knowing what is in your opponent’s hand is an added bonus.

Ebony Charm: (Mirage: B, Instant, Choose one – Target opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life; or remove from the game up to three cards in any player’s graveyard; or target creature cannot be blocked this turn except by artifact or black creatures.) The charms from Mirage block are nearly all amazing, because they all give you choices. They are never dead cards. I play Ebony Charm a lot. It helps against graveyard recursion. It gets around Worship. It gets the last damage past a Fog Bank, or the ultimate blocker, a Cho Manno, Revolutionary with Cho Manno’s Blessing (protection from black), Serra’s Embrace (flying, does not tap to attack) and Entangler (block any number of creatures each turn.) (Yes, that should never happen, but it did. He had that out, and I could not draw Diabolic Edict.)

Diabolic Edict: (Tempest: 1B, Instant, Target player sacrifices a creature) It kills Morphling. What more could you want? The main advantage to Edict is that it targets the player, not the creature, so you can kill anything. True, Morphling or Masticore doesn’t die unless its owner has no other creatures… But people generally don’t play Morphling in decks with lots of other creatures.

Disturbed Burial: (Tempest: 1B, Sorcery, Buyback 3, Return target creature from your graveyard to your hand.) So, how good is it to get dead creatures back in your hand? Using Disturbed Burial with buyback is mana intensive, but you can get a lot of goodness back every turn. For eight mana, you could cast Bone Shredder every turn. Or spend nine mana and cast Avalanche Riders every turn. Combine this with any creature that has a good attack, but dies (think Ball Lightning), has a good comes into play ability (like Radiant’s Dragoons, above), or does something useful when it dies (Ticking Gnomes, False Prophet), and you can see how strong this is.

Demonic Tutor: (older basic sets: 1B, Sorcery, search your library for a card, put it in your hand.) Demonic Tutor is so good it is restricted or banned in every sanctioned format. If you have even one good card you want to get in your deck, and can splash even a bit of black, play this. Demonic Tutor is one of the few cards I never regret drawing, no matter what the circumstances. It will be a couple bucks, but it is worth it.

Grave Pact: (Stronghold: 1BBB, enchantment, Whenever any creature you control is put into any graveyard, each other player sacrifices a creature.) This is what makes black mages evil. Every time you lose a creature, so does everyone else. I love combining this with creatures you can sacrifice at will, like Bottle Gnomes and Ticking Gnomes. You can build a deck around Corpse Dance, Bottle Gnomes and Grave Pact – a very good deck.

Seal of Fire: (Nemesis: R, Enchantment, <Sacrifice Seal of Fire>: Seal of Fire deals 2 damage to target creature or player.) It is a really cheap burn spell – both in terms of dollars and mana cost. Burn kills creatures, or opponents. ‘Nuf said. (It also, as Anthony Alongi is inordinately fond of pointing out, reminds opponents that they will pay a price for attacking you in multiplayer, and thus is better defense than a ShockThe Ferrett)

Fireblast: (Visions: 4RR, Instant, You may sacrifice two mountains instead of paying Fireblast’s casting cost. Deal 4 damage to any one target.) Arguably the best burn spell ever printed, Fireblast will deal lethal damage to a lot of creatures, and the alternative casting cost means your opponent always has to be thinking about this even when you are tapped out.

Viashino Heretic: (Legacy: 2R, 1/3 creature, <1R,T>: Destroy target artifact. Viashino Heretic deals to that artifact’s controller damage equal to the artifact’s total casting cost.) He blocks little dudes and blows up annoying artifacts. I like him because he says "let’s play slowly and nicely" in multiplayer. He’s kind of pointless if your opponents just play creatures, but if they play artifact mana or creatures, he looks really good. He’s been pretty sweet for me in 5-Color.

Avalanche Riders: (Legacy: 3R, 2/2 creature, echo, haste, when AR comes into play, destroy target land.) It’s a Stone Rain that beats. Avalanche Riders are very good. They can destroy lands that stop your attacks, like Kor Haven, or that beat back, like Treetop Village.

Lightning Bolt: (various older basic sets: R, Instant, deal 3 damage to target player or creature.) The best burn spell out there – better even than Fireblast. Star City sells these for $1.50, and they are worth it.

Wheel of Fortune: (various older sets: 2R, Sorcery, Both players must discard their hands and draw seven new cards.) Card drawing in red is unusual, and this is pretty good. I have seen games end with the red player beating on the opponent, then casting Wheel, Lightning Bolt, Fireblast, Fireblast for the win. I hate it when that happens, since I am rarely the red mage.

Rancor: (Legacy: G, enchant creature, enchanted creature gets +2/+0 and trample. If Rancor goes to the graveyard from play, return it to your hand instead.) Rancor is the single most amazing green enchantment ever. Ever. Stick it on anything and beat. If the creature dies, stick it on something else. Beat, beat, beat.

Night Soil: (Fallen Empires, GG, Enchantment, <1>: Remove two creatures in any graveyard from the game to put a Saproling token into play. Treat this token as a 1/1 green creature.) Night Soil is one of those forgotten tricks. It allows you to remove dead creatures from the game and create blockers or attackers. I drew one of these in 5-Color, the turn before my opponent was due to trigger a Living Death that would have brought back twenty or so creatures. Instead, I got a bunch of Saprolings. In multiplayer it is nice to sit back with no blockers, but knowing that you can empty someone else’s graveyard to create instant blockers. My local store was charging $0.10 each for these.

Emerald Charm: (Visions: G, Instant, untap target permanent; or destroy target enchantment; or target creature loses flying.) The card is great, primarily because it is never useless. You can attack all-out, then use the Charm to untap a surprise blocker. Charm can let your Blastoderm block the Serra Angel who suddenly decided to walk over to attack. Finally, Charm can destroy that Telferi’s Moat that stalled all your green monsters.

Creeping Mold: (Visions: 2GG, Sorcery, Destroy target artifact, land, or enchantment.) I will admit it; I am a not a beatdown player. I love strange combos and control. That means I have a great liking for cards that let me deal with problems. Creeping Mold is like that – it can deal with Kor Haven, Moat, Pacifism, Juggernaut, etc. My kind of card: it makes sure I’m not prevented from killing my opponent, once I get around to it.

Regrowth: (various older basic sets: 1G, Sorcery, return target card from your graveyard to your hand.) Get any cards from your graveyard to your hand at instant speed. The uses should be obvious.

A big, fat creature: Green has tons of them, take your pick.

Natural Order: (Visions again: 3G, Sorcery, <Sacrifice a green creature>: Search your library for a green creature card and put it into play) At first glance, this looks bad. But think about it – how bad is a card that changes a Llanowar Elf or Blastoderm with no counters left into a Verdant Force? This is the card that powers the Secret Force deck. Check it out.

Fountain of Youth: (basic sets, free, <2,T> Gain two life.) Lifegain is not all that useful in one-on-one duels, but it is okay in multiplayer. It’s a way to use up the last couple mana at the end of your opponent’s turn. Not great, but cheap and fairly useful.

Dancing Scimitar: (basic sets: 4, 1/5 creature with flying.) The big advantage of Dancing Scimitar is that it is a great blocker. There are not very many things that can block a Serra Angel turn after turn, and almost none of them are as affordable as the Scimitar.

Sol Ring: (basic sets through Revised: 1, <T>, add 2 colorless mana to your mana pool.) Sol Ring is cheap mana acceleration that fits easily in any deck. It is too good – it is restricted or banned in every sanctioned format. It costs a buck or two, but Ingrid and I find it is our single most commonly-played card. (It’s in every deck I own, if I can get away with it – The Ferrett)

Power Matrix: (Masques: 4, <T>: Target creature gets +1/+1 and gains flying, first strike, and trample until end of turn.) This is a beating in draft, but it is also a blast in casual and multiplayer. In the deck above, the Silverglade Elementals are not that impressive. However, add a Power Matrix and they become flying, trampling, first-striking 5/5s. Not much can stand in front of them for long. If you are playing a deck with a mixture of medium large common creatures, adding Power Matrix is amazing. Take a look at the following scenario: you have two 3/3s, two 2/2s and a 4/5. Your opponent has two 4/3s. If you attack, you will lose at least one creature, and you opponent gets to chose what dies. Now assume you have a Power Matrix – once you declare your attack, you can wait until blockers are declared, then turn any one of your creatures into a first striker big enough to kill any single blocker.

Masticore: (Urza’s Destiny: 4, 4/4 creature, during your upkeep, discard a card or sacrifice Masticore. <2>, do one damage to target creature. <2> regenerate Masticore.) Okay, it runs about $10 around here right now, but it is still a completely insane card.


Armadillo Cloak: (Invasion: 2WG, enchantment, enchanted creature gains +2/+2, trample, and you gain life whenever it does damage.) Okay, it’s in the current block – but there are very few gold cards from older sets that not either pretty expensive or just plain bad. Besides, it does some very strange things. In a recent draft, Barry and Adam were locked in a creature stall. Barry dropped a Plague Spitter, which would normally have killed Adam in a couple turns. However, Adam responded by casting Armadillo Cloak on Barry’s Plague Spitter. On Barry’s upkeep, the Plaguespitter did one damage to Barry, one to Adam, and one to half a dozen creatures… So Adam gained eight life. (Remember, Barry may control the Spitter, but Adam controls the Cloak, so he gets the life.)

Sleepers Robe: (Invasion: UB, enchantment, Enchanted creature can’t be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or Black creatures. Whenever enchanted creature deals combat damage to an opponent, you may draw a card.) This card combines Fear and Curiosity in one card. Both of those used to be playable, and the combination certainly is.


Treetop Village: (Urza’s Legacy: comes into play tapped, tap to add G to your pool, <2G> Treetop Village becomes a 3/3 green creature with trample until end of turn.) The Village is a great addition to the green mage’s bag of tricks. This is a land that taps for mana when you need it, but attacks of blocks when necessary. You can even activate the Village, then cast Rancor on it and attack for five. At the end of the turn, the Village reverts to being a land, and the Rancor goes back to your hand.

Arena: (promotional: <3,T>: Choose target creature you control. An opponent chooses target creature he or she controls. Tap both creatures. Each of those creatures deals damage equal to its power to the other creature.) Arena was a promotional card only available to those people who bought one of the early Magic novels. I had never seen one… Until Cathy wrecked us with it last week. Arena lets a moderately tough creature destroy any opponents that have only smaller creatures. Last week, John was playing a birds deck and I had elves and mana birds, plus some fatties. Until I got the fatties out, Cathy was killing my elves at will with a random 3/3s or 2/4s. Once I got a larger creature into play, she would load the Arena with bird shot and clear the skies over John. Amazingly effective in that type of matchup, and Arenas are really cheap.

Wasteland: (Tempest: tap for one colorless mana or tap and sacrifice to destroy target non-basic land.) If your opponent has a cool land, this will get rid of it. That’s why Wasteland is so often played in extended tournaments. It’s reasonably cheap, and will make sure you don’t get wrecked by those good lands you opponents have.

Volrath’s Stronghold: (Stronghold: <T> add one colorless mana; or <1B, T> put target creature card from your graveyard on top of your library.) Getting dead creatures back is just plain good. I have killed people by recurring Highway Robbers over an over again, and have had some fun with Volrath’s Stronghold and Infernal Genesis. I have found Stronghold to be reasonably cheap, and definitely worth the investment.

Okay, enough of that.

Based on the lack of responses to the puzzles, I won’t be making that mistake again.