Down And Dirty – Fishy Mountains

Read Kyle Sanchez every Monday... at StarCityGames.com!
I’m not sure how, but one of these days I’m going to put together an article called America’s Next Top Magician. It would take place at a GP, and I’d do interviews with the top 5 amateurs. Then I’d get seasoned pros and Magic veterans like LSCheonV, BDM, Aten, and Ant to help me pick out who is the best of the bunch. I was thinking about doing drafts or something to whittle them down… maybe making Constructed decks and having them face off against each other blindfolded.

My 6th grade art teacher, Ms. Einhorn, would constantly tell me that my drawings and paintings lacked a good focus point, which is naturally the center of every piece. Two good examples are staring me in the face right now as I sit quite uncomfortably in the corner of my room.

One was an exercise dealing with water paint. The objective was to make cardboard stencils in the shape of whatever came to mind. Some chose leaves, some chose various vegetables, trees. Ryan and Phillip chose race cars because Ryan’s father, who left the eight-year old Ryan, was a race car driver. I didn’t find out about his father until 8th grade, and this exercise takes place during the second semester of 6th grade year. Funny how things make more sense when you look back.

For instance, in the movie Can’t Hardly Wait, there are so many marijuana references that I didn’t notice the first time I watched it in my early double digit years. I just wasn’t aware of such things at the time. It’s sort of the same way when you watch Family Guy episodes over again. You catch little jokes that you didn’t understand the first time around.

Anyway, I chose fish for my stencil. For some reason at that age I was always attracted to things in the ocean, and my goal was to paint some glorious coral reef bursting with fish. There were three different kinds of fish. A long lanky one with a long shimmering tail. A more rounded fish with a pointier tail, and an eel. Pretty basic stuff, but I was proud of it once it was completed.

When I was placing my newly made stencils around trying to find the best coordinates, I completely forgot to put a fish at the center. Instead, a long shimmering tail was the center point, hardly worthy to center a picture around. For that artwork I got a 70 and a frowny face marked in red ink. My peers, Ryan and Phillip, got 95 and 100 respectively, with smiley faces in a bright shade of green. I felt robbed, but I’d have my revenge on the unsuspecting Einhorn…

This week’s article is currently being written prior to the publication of last week’s article. This may seem a bit strange, but our dear editor, Craigory Stevensony, is attending Pro Tour: Valencia and has to get all of his work in line before he leaves. [Yeah, I’m still pissed at losing my passport – Craig.] Perfectly understandable, but still, here I am, out of my normal funk. Usually I get inspired mid-week, Wednesday or Thursday, while in the shower or watching America’s Next Top Model. Needless to say its Sunday, I haven’t showered, but I did get to tune into the 12-hour America’s Next Top Model marathon yesterday, the 6th of October for those counting.

It seems like every time I watch ANTM there is a different cycle of girls competing for a cover in Elle magazine photographed by a World renowned photographer along with a $100,000 contract with Cover Girl cosmetics. This was cycle six, of nine so far, and Danielle won. Although I do believe Joanie was the best and robbed in the finals. Sara, the 6’1 hottie from Cali, was easily my favorite, and she was what really kept me watching.

I’m not sure how, but one of these days I’m going to put together an article called America’s Next Top Magician. It would take place at a GP, and I’d do interviews with the top 5 amateurs. Then I’d get seasoned pros and Magic veterans like LSCheonV, BDM, Aten, and Ant to help me pick out who is the best of the bunch. Possibly GP: Daytona? I’m up for any suggestions here. I was thinking about doing drafts or something to whittle them down… maybe making Constructed decks and having them face off against each other blindfolded.

The real crime in this early article is that I won’t get to put any of the new Radiohead CD in my Top 5 Picks since it comes out on the 10th. But since it’s impossible for Thom Yorke to produce a bad album you should definitely check it out. The truly unique thing about this album is it’s essentially free to download. They developed a marketing scheme where you decide how much you want to pay for it. Being the Radiohead fanatic I am, I’ll probably end up donating $20 for their hard work, but for all your cheapskates out there it’s a free Radiohead CD.

The motivation in making a free album is you get to cut the label expenses out, and all their profits go straight into their pockets. A very neat idea, much like when Prince released his album by putting a copy into every newspaper in London. Not many people know this but Radiohead really doesn’t make that much money compared to the rest of the extremely successful artists on the planet. Their label gets the majority of the money so this is a good chance to give back to the band everyone loves. So check out the site here:


Snow Blue

4 Phyrexian Ironfoot
3 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
3 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Triskelavus

4 Rune Snag
2 Delay
4 Faerie Trickery
4 Cryptic Command
4 Think Twice
2 Pact of Negation

4 Scrying Sheets
3 Mouth of Ronom
4 Tolaria West
1 Academy Ruins
1 Urza’s Factory
14 Snow-Covered Island

4 Bottle Gnomes
3 Razormane Masticore

This is an update of the Mono-Blue Snow deck that made little to no splash in previous metagames. Still, I believe Teferi is stronger than ever with Gaddock running around. Unless they have something up their sleeve Gaddock will have to sit back whenever 2UUU is up from the opposing player, or even 2UU for that matter, in fear of Venser.

I kept going back and forth between putting Coldsteel Heart in here, but I just couldn’t find a reason to. You don’t really care much about accelerating, you just want to drop Ironfoot on turn 3 or counter everything they play. Coldsteel Heart does provide the option of playing something like Mystical Teachings or even Slaughter Pact. I think I’d rather have cards that aren’t dead when a Teeg is in play, but I’m probably wrong.

There’s also the debate about whether Mind Stone is better than Coldsteel Heart. If you’re going to splash another color then Coldsteel is much better, but does the advantage of being Snow really offset the functionality of Mind Stone? The Heart also produces Blue mana, which might be its most important factor. At some point in the game it may become relevant to play both Teferi and Cryptic Command in the same turn, and how it’d be super awkward to have that Mind Stone smiling you in the face when you’re one Blue short of accomplishing that spectacular feat.

Cryptic Command naturally adds a lot of options to the deck, but the loss of Spell Snare, Remand, and most importantly Rewind may be too much for this archetype. Ironfoot on the other hand has never been better, and since you can recur him with Academy Ruins and draw him with Scrying Sheets all in one motion, I believe this deck has a shot.

Razormane Masticore from Tenth added a lot to this deck to deal with opposing creature decks – Gaddock Teeg, to be precise – but other than that I have no clue what the sideboard should look like. I was trying to brainstorm some cards to gain an advantage in the RelicTeachings match up, but all you really want to do is counter everything they play, so possibly more counters.

Perhaps I’m just too attached to Scrying Sheets. It is such a brilliantly designed card, and every time a new set comes out I look back to the snow strategy to see if anything new is going on. I keep crossing my fingers, but nothing ever comes along. Cryptic Command may be the card this deck was looking for, but I’d much rather have Rewind. Actually, if both were legal this deck could be quite the powerhouse, but they aren’t. And I just don’t know what’s in store for good ol’ Snow Blue.

YouTube Video of the Week

I don’t get it, but it looks artsy enough to convey a deeper meaning. What that meaning is? No clue.

Teferi’s Faeries!

3 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
4 Oona’s Prowler
4 Faerie Harbinger
4 Scion of Oona
1 Mistbind Clique
1 Sower of Temptation

4 Faerie Trickery
4 Rune Snag
4 Cryptic Command
1 Nameless Inversion
1 Pact of Negation
1 Slaughter Pact
4 Thoughtseize

4 River of Tears
4 Underground River
4 Secluded Glen
3 Tolaria West
1 Urza’s Factory
1 Vesuva
7 Island

I must admit, I threw this deck together without too much thought behind it. However, it should be a good starting point for a Faerie deck. Teferi also probably doesn’t belong in this deck, but then the deck wouldn’t have an appealing title, so he stays. I feel bad playing a Blue deck without Venser, but then you would have to cut either Cryptic Command or all the one-ofs. And I love me some one-ofs.

This list is more focused around the Harbinger, and I’m not sure how exciting he is. The fact that you miss your next draw really faults this deck since it will be hard to hit land drops when you start stacking your library.

Another card I wasn’t that excited about was Oona’s Prowler. He just seems so mediocre that he could never be good. However, he does go a long way to supporting the countermagic in the deck. A lot of the time this deck will have to counter actual spells rather than playing Faeries on the end step to produce a clock. He comes down turn 2, and will swing for the rest of the game uninhibited. If they attempt to kill him, you can either counter it, or replace him with another instant speed Faerie, or blow them out with the Scion.

The Sanchez Gallery


The Eyes have it

Down With Stuff!

Te perils of true love

Don't do drugs

UW Pickles

4 Riftwing Cloudskate
4 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
3 Brine Elemental

3 Venser, Shaper Savant
3 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

4 Rune Snag
4 Cryptic Command
2 Delay
4 Momentary Blink

4 Mind Stone

3 Terramorphic Expanse
2 Nimbus Maze
1 Plains
4 Adarkar Wastes
15 Island

4 Oblivion Ring

This is an updated deck from a list I invented for GP: Montreal earlier this year during Block Constructed season. It’s a pretty basic concept… however, I feel that it could be a real contender in the upcoming metagame because of its resilience to the blah G/W aggro decks on the horizon, as well as being a good option against RelicTeachings decks because of its bounce disruption.

The RelicTeachings decks almost always tap out on their turn to increase their mana or to draw cards, and that’s where this deck really shines. You can set them back many turns with the cheap bounce spells of Riftwing Cloudskate and Venser, and Momentary Blink once you have one of the previous two in play. From there you can keep them off counters like Pact of Negation or Cryptic Command to enable the Pickles lock. Slaughter Pact can put an end to it… however, there are also a ton of counters to push the combo through. Cryptic Command is a perfect addition to this deck because it solves some of the problem situations like early aggressive starts, along with being a tempo card at the same time.

Again, the sideboard is pretty up in the air at this point, but Oblivion Ring is a card I could really get behind. For instance, if you O-Ring a Gaddock Teeg or Doran, you can then bounce your Ring back to your hand if they ever play another one to kill both creatures because they’re Legends. You can also return it to your hand via a Blink plus Venser/Cloudskate with the comes into play ability on the stack, effectively removing the creature from the game at no cost other than the Blink.

Blink also speeds up the Pickle lock, and can enable a turn 5 lock. Turn 3 you morph Brine, turn 4 you have counters along with Blink on the Brine. Turn 5 you morph down Shapeshifter then flip it up copying Brine Elemental.

That’s one of the more aggressive ways to play the deck, but the beauty of it is that you can also sit back and play the Teferi game, and wait to bring your Pickles lock in at instant speed backed up with the numerous counters in the deck.

All in all, it’s a very synergistic deck with much more resilience than the classic Blue-based control decks because of its high number of bounce and tempo spells. It also executes the same relative game plan every game, which means it would be an excellent choice for the upcoming States tournaments. Also, who doesn’t love a deck with four Mind Stone?!

The other drawing was an exercise in point painting. Basically, you make so many dots that it all blends together to form an abstract-looking scene. For some reason, I chose to draw three small trees and a random water tower. However, these were all located in the bottom 1/5 of the picture. The rest was green mountains, a blue sky with scattered clouds, and a very small sun in the upper left corner. I also managed to fit a bald eagle flying upward toward the sun. I used to watch Bird Man on cartoon network a lot as a child, so I’d like to think that he was the source of my inspiration.

And again I failed to put anything at the center of the drawing, just a bunch of green dots. I actually remember Ryan and Phillip commenting on how stupid my painting was, but it was mainly because I didn’t exactly finish putting all of the dots in. I got a little lazy and my wrist was sore so I just spaced them a little farther apart. I’ve been meaning to take that “piece” down and finish it, but then I’d have nothing to write about. It serves as an everlasting reminder that we, as humans, aren’t perfect.

Looking back on it I guess you could consider it an artistic option, but let’s be serious, anything that looks stupid could be called an “artistic option.” My articles could easily be considered artistic. They often lack a good center point, with amusing tidbits scattered about, like a bald eagle darting up in the air toward the sun, or a completely false tale of me spending $1,700 at a club in Japan.

But look at me now. I write Magic articles for a leading Magic strategy website and card store. I have a composite rating of 2021 and a reservoir of Lorwyn packs from my prerelease winnings, along with an unopened box of white Dragon Shield sleeves sitting atop my TV stand. Magic cards line my wooden floor, with some conveniently pushed away underneath my carpet. I’ve got 14 lifetime pro points and made money at each Grand Prix I’ve attended this year (3).

So who’s laughing now Ms. Einhorn? Center this!


Top 5 Picks (no particular order)

1) Motion Picture Soundtrack – Radiohead
2) Pyramid Song – Radiohead
3) 2 + 2 = 5 – Radiohead
4) How to Disappear Completely – Radiohead
5) Scatterbrain – Radiohead

The Gallery

Okay, so they weren’t freaking Picassos or anything, but giving a kid a failing grade for something he put so much effort into can mentally damage him for life.

On a completely unrelated side note, Ms. Einhorn was found face down in a ditch recently with fish marks cut out of her middle-aged skin…

No suspects as of yet.