Eight PTQ Slots, One Bullet

Not sure where to begin this week. Playtesting for GP Philly is NOT going as expected. I’m playing that same Russian roulette I played getting ready for States. It’s absolutely insane. As soon as I’m settled on one deck, I go through and read the PTQ reports from over the weekend, and I totally change…

Not sure where to begin this week.

Playtesting for GP Philly is NOT going as expected. I’m playing that same Russian roulette I played getting ready for States. It’s absolutely insane. As soon as I’m settled on one deck, I go through and read the PTQ reports from over the weekend, and I totally change my mind.

There’s only one way to solve this. Everyone who’s going to GP Philly, email me with what you’re playing, and I’ll email you back what I’m playing. 😉

I love the Counterburn deck we’ve built. I feel like I should play Secret Force, since I love that deck, but I haven’t played it since it rotated out of Type 2! I’ve been enjoying the recent success of that Three-Deuce deck, although it totally escapes me. I haven’t playtested it at all, but I just don’t get it. It only has four Disenchants! Those Dwarven Miners must really cause havoc. And through it all, the deck I’ve enjoyed the most, the deck that wins the most for me, the deck I’m most comfortable with is…

White Weenie.

Yeah, I know, it’s weird even saying it. I mean, at heart, I’m a green beatdown player, and maybe going back to the days when those 6/5 Soltari Priests would deliver thwack after thwack just has me nostalgic. Add to that the fact that the deck has a ton of methods to deal with all the nasty enchantments that this season is offering. Built in protection from black removal.

It also has those hands where it just wins. Where you have an Armored Priest on turn three and you hit for 5, 6, death.

I just keep playing it. Whenever I playtest against some other deck, I play White Weenie. I’m in love with this deck. Don’t be surprised to see me playing it, in some form or another, in Philadelphia.

This is a more-recent playtest version for your perusal:

4x Mother of Runes
4x Soltari Priest
4x Soltari Monk
4x Paladin en-Vec
2x Devout Witness

4x Enlightened Tutor
4x Disenchant
4x Empyrial Armor
3x Armageddon
3x Tithe
2x Swords to Plowshares
1x Aura of Silence

4x Wasteland
17x Plains

The current version is still shifting. The Tithes really make it easy to splash a color if I need it, and after seeing the success of the Three-Deuce, I’m seriously considering splashing in Plateaus for Dwarven Miners. This, of course, makes me more vulnerable to Wastelands, so I’m reluctantly trying it.

My playtest partner, Jonathan Mellette, is going through much the same Russian roulette feeling. He just decided to give up on the Counterburn deck, and move on to something completely new. =)


I want to do a card-by-card analysis of Nemesis, but how boring would that be? Everyone on the net is doing it. But I want to agree with everyone who ‘s been saying that this set is good for Magic in general, because it really is. Slowly but surely, Wizards R&D is taking us back to the sets of old, to Ice Age and Mirage, and getting us away from the power addiction we all got junked up on in Tempest and Urza’s Saga.

People will say, "Look at all the junk rares." Around 30 of them by my count, out of 44. Not all junk rares for all formats, but not all Constructed powerhouses. People will complain about the Fading mechanic, or if they don’t do that, now they’ll complain about the errata to the Parallax cards to keep them from being abused.

Let’s face it, there were people who enjoyed abusing those power cards that the Artifact Cycle brought to us. Sure, some of you reasoned with yourself, saying that it’s folly not to play the best deck in the format, but it really broke down to abusing those cards. And you all know which ones I’m talking about.

There’s no blatant abuse here. It’ll take some serious deckbuilders a long time to come up with something outrageous. And hey, anything that makes people think is OK with me.

That being said, let me pick out a few of my favorites.


There are only a couple of cards that stand out to me. Lin Sivvi obviously completes any Rebel deck, and takes the place of Cho-Manno in mine. Those, plus the addition of Defiant Falcon, are going to make a lot of nice Rebel decks come PTNJ time. Even the new color-hosing Rebels, Lawbringer and Lightbringer, both retrievable by the Falcon, could find their way into sideboards if the environment is right.

Here’s a pretty fair prototype to start with for PTNJ:

4x Ramosian Sergeant
4x Defiant Falcon
4x Steadfast Guard
4x Thermal Glider
4x Nightwind Glider
3x Devout Witness
2x Ramosian Captain
2x Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero

4x Ramosian Rally (or Power Matrix)
4x Muzzle
3x Disenchant
2x Arrest

20x Plains

But other than that, for Constructed, we’re drawing blanks. Parallax Wave’s errata removes the abusive combo with Opalescence, but Spiritual Asylum is still a not-too-bad addition, if you’re running the Pandemonium version. Avenger en-Dal might see some play here and there, since it’s an RFG ability. Fortunately for White, they were probably the strongest color already in the Masques block.


Well, Merfolk decks probably got more help than anything did in Blue, but that’s not saying much. Rootwater Thief, the Mike Long card, will probably see some use. Rootwater Commando gives a redundant Islandwalk ability (assuming a Lord in play), but a 2/2 for 2U is nice for Merfolk, which has nothing beefy at all. But I still think the deck lost too much in the last rotation.

The card that interests me is Rising Waters, the new Winter Orb. Now that it can not be played in mono-color decks (other than mono-U), the attraction for using it in a MSG or similar deck is lower. The thing is, mono-blue decks don’t want it, at least not the kind of mono-blue control decks that are viable now. Hopefully time will tell what wonderful creations people have up their sleeves for this one.

I like Accumulated Knowledge. Even if you assume you’ll only see two, it’s still not a bad deal. Granted, you don’t get the searching ability like Brainstorm, where you might actually get three new cards, but it’s not absolutely bad.

The Stronghold Biologist and Machinist look interesting as well. Maybe we’ ll see Biologist/Machinist/Arcane Lab decks?


Parallax Dementia might pave the way for a whole new batch of Black Weenie decks. Could you imagine how happy people would be with an 8/7 Negator? Even if he’s only around for two turns, what the heck else do you need after that?

Divining Witch could prove interesting. With people so fervently behind Demonic Consultation during this Extended season, you’d expect everyone to be using this baby.


Flowstone Overseer is interesting. The dual ability to remove creatures, plus pump your own creatures, makes him a nice replacement for Masticore in Red weenie decks. The question is, WHAT red weenie decks? =) The Laccoliths also are interesting, much like Thorn Elemental is, but they can only hit other creatures instead, which may prove more useful in the smaller Laccoliths. Aside from that, nothing really stands out. The Arc Mage might be nice for Limited play, but the two new Goblins (Mogg Toady and Shrieking Mogg) don’t really offer anything to any known Standard decks. Seal of Fire might see play, just as a way to stuff eight Shocks into a deck.


I think my favorite mechanic of this set is the Pack Hunt mechanic. What are we calling this again? Howling Wolf had this mechanic, so I think we should call it ‘howling’. Now granted, a 1/1 for 2G (Skyshroud Sentinel) isn’t fabulous, but he is an Elf, so any deck that relies on Priests of Titania for large amounts of mana will 1) not flinch at paying three for a 1/1 and 2) thoroughly enjoy being able to pump a Priest in this manner. 4GG for 4/3 is even harsher. However, Pack Hunt itself provides some interesting possibilities, as has been laid out already. Is your opponent’s Masticore bothering you? Pack Hunt for his buddies. Need a boost for your Priest or Cradle? Pack Hunt yourself into some fast mana. Playing MSG and already dumped your hand? Pack Hunt for three more River Boas or Pouncing Jaguars to continue the assault.

Harvest Mage is another interesting card. I don’t know how much use it will see (I don’t know if five-color green decks are viable in today’s Standard environment), but it only provides whatever color mana you need.

There are two cards that might be added to MSG as well. Skyshroud Ridgeback is the no-brainer – a 2/3 for G is amazing, even if it only lasts for 2 attacks, because MSG can make those attacks count. By the time the Ridgeback has to disappear, it’s already done its damage and has backup. The other card I like for MSG is Stampede Driver, and at G, it’s probably undercosted. I mean, the effect is no Overrun, but +1/+1 and trample is certainly nothing to sneeze at for 1G.

Artifacts and Lands:

I really don’t like any of the artifacts or lands. And here’s my other complaint! What the heck happened to gold cards? I mean, the general assumption I had been under (since I started in Tempest, but I think it applied to Mirage block at least) was that the main set of the expansion would have gold cards. One of the expansions would, and one wouldn’t. Visions had ’em, Weatherlight didn’t. Stronghold had ’em, Exodus didn’t. Then alluvasudden we get Urza’s Saga and BAM! No more gold cards. I miss them guys. Ranger en-Vec was my favorite. =)

Well, I’ve rambled enough. Next week I’ll have some musing on the Indy PTQ (where my pal Jonathan will be playing), maybe some notes about PTLA, and more about getting ready for Philly. Until then, stay healthy!

Dave Meeson, Super Wrong Guy
[email protected]
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OK, so "stay healthy" is some tough tagline. What was I going to say, "Hope you all catch a horrible disease so I can win GP Philly!"?