Embracing The Chaos – Hall Of Fame Ballot 2011 (Plus Bonus Deck!)

It’s that time of year again; who will Sheldon vote into the Hall of Fame class of 2011? He lists the candidates he deems worthy, with some honorable mentions. Don’t miss the bonus decklist at the end.

The annual Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame ballot is out, and I’d like to offer up my selections, discussing why I chose who I did and why some folks didn’t make the cut, plus a few shout-outs to folks on the ballot whose company I enjoyed during their day.

What I looked for was sustained superior performance, contribution to the game in general, and that intangible spark that pushed a candidate past his peers. I gave at least some consideration to all the candidates with three or more PT Top 8s, with three exceptions: Willy Edel and Mark Justice for simply too few PTs (17 and 18, respectively, since I believe that while the Hall of Fame isn’t completely about longevity, there needs to be some component of it); and Mike Long, who I really don’t need to say any more about than I’ve already said since the Hall of Fame started.

I will say that some of the Honorable Mention folks were passive choices—it wasn’t an active case of “not going to vote for this guy,” but “these other five merit the vote more.” Not voting for Heezy, Osyp, Eugene, and Chapin was difficult.


Shuhei Nakamura: I’m not much for “if you don’t vote for X, you should have your ballot taken away,” but not voting for Shuuhei is kind of like not voting for Finkel or Kai. I find it incumbent upon people with ballots to do the research on all the candidates, and once you do the research, Shuhei is an indisputable choice. That said, it occurred to me that I could be gaming the system a little (gamers game systems by definition, right?) by not voting for him so that I could vote for an additional fringe candidate. In the end, I decided that I wanted to give the vote to the guy who most deserved it, and clearly, that’s Shuhei.

Steve OMS: Voted for him last year, and he’s just as deserving this year. He’s one of the finest human beings to ever play professional Magic. You can read my arguments in Embracing the Chaos #44. And he just got married. How can you not vote for a guy who is honeymooning?

Anton Jonsson: Another repeat from last year. Five PT and nine GP Top 8s and a great talent. Many modern-day reporters, players, and staff don’t know his name—but he was the real deal. Once again, if you have a ballot, I strongly suggest you do the research or ask those folks who were around ‘back then.’

Tsuyoshi Ikeda: My sixth pick from last year is Top 5 this year. Four PT Top 8s, 6 GPs, and he has 300+ Pro Points, which is basically the 3,000 hits club in my mind.

William Jensen: Huey was, simply put, a winner. He is commonly recognized—by people whose opinions on such things carry a great deal of weight with me, such as Finkel, Kai, and Nassif—as one of the greatest technical players ever. A Pro Tour, two GP, and a Masters Series win top a great resume. When Osyp tweeted “Why is it so hard for people to vote for Huey? If I didn’t top deck against him twice he’d be a 2-time PT champion, should be on all ballots,” it was a significant factor in breaking a serious logjam for my fifth spot.


Patrick Chapin: I know that especially here on SCG, my not voting for him might make me a little less popular. When Chapin is on, he’s on, and his 4 PT Top 8s attest to it. His writing has had an impact on the Magic community, and I won’t argue about his popularity. The thing that Patrick Chapin is best at is self-promotion. For me, his Magic career has elements of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” which coupled with the five guys I thought were more deserving leaves him off my Top 5 for now. Down the road, things might be different.

Mark Herberholz: PT Top 8s to include a win, four more GPs, a fine promoter of the game, a top flight writer, and a Price is Right appearance is enough for strong consideration. Kind of makes me wish I had a sixth vote.

Osyp Lebedowicz: I love me some Osyp. He brought the power of humor to writing about Magic and life. His impact is undeniable—and I hope he starts playing again, and not just so that he can buff up his HoF resume. We need more Osyps on the PT.

Eugene Harvey: Statistically, Eugene stacks up with Heezy and Osyp and may have been the greater natural talent. A team World Championship doesn’t hurt him, either. He was one of the cleanest, most sportsmanlike players in an era when sportsmanship was…less valued.

Justin Gary: The Bernie Williams on this ballot, Justin was very good, but if he wasn’t a Yankee (YMGer), he probably wouldn’t merit the same consideration. Great careers and Hall of Fame careers are two different things, and I believe Justin’s to be great, not HoF-worthy.

Paul Rietzl: He’s playing at a high level recently, and if he keeps it up, he’ll end up on my ballot. I still remember him, as a kid, lending me a Goblin Trenches deck on the Friday night of a GP I was HJing (Houston in the early 2000s) for one of the scheduled Side Events—and me winning the tournament with it.

Ben Stark: Representing Florida!!! A top-flight talent, a great guy, and when he puts up a few more numbers, I’ll vote for him. That recent win really helps his chances down the road.

Scott Johns: Same arguments as last year. Close, no cigar, but wanted to mention that he was in the running, because he had a good run and some decent additional contributions.


Gerard Fabiano: If there were a “looking good at all times” Hall of Fame, GFabs would be on the first ballot. An outspoken opponent of shady play, Gerard was a first-rate social animal and made the PT someplace fun to be.

Antonino De Rosa: If you don’t love Antonino, you don’t love life. I’m not a fan of voting for people for the Hall of Fame just because you like them, but if I were, Nino would be right up there.

Gabe Walls: If there was one thing that Gabe Walls did better than nearly everyone else in Magic history, it was make my life interesting. You know, in the way the Chinese refer to interesting. He’s another person that I miss on the Pro Tour (seems like “Guys I Miss on the PT” might have enough steam for an article).


I’ve seen a number of Mono-Green decks, and most of them, like the one I played a few weeks back, are rather similar: ramp into some fat and Overrun/Kamahl/etc.. Helpful reader Joseph Bogaard shared this little gem with me which breaks the mold:

Reki, History of Kamigawa


1 Caged Sun
1 Champion’s Helm
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mind’s Eye
1 Nim Deathmantle
1 Sol Ring


1 Akroma’s Memorial
1 Helm of Kaldra
1 Konda’s Banner
1 Shell of the Last Kappa
1 Shield of Kaldra
1 Sword of Kaldra
1 Sword of the Chosen
1 Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang
1 That Which Was Taken
1 Umezawa’s Jitte


1 Arashi, the Sky Asunder
1 Autumn Willow
1 Ayumi, the Last Visitor
1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
1 Baru, Fist of Krosa
1 Dosan the Falling Leaf
1 Hua Tuo, Honored Physician
1 Iwamori of the Open Fist
1 Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
1 Jolrael, Empress of Beasts
1 Jugan, the Rising Star
1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
1 Kaysa
1 Kodama of the North Tree
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Mirri, Cat Warrior
1 Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
1 Myojin of Life’s Web
1 Nemata, Grove Guardian
1 Omnath, Locus of Mana
1 Patron of the Orochi
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
1 Sakiko, Mother of Summer
1 Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant
1 Sekki, Seasons’ Guide
1 Silvos, Rogue Elemental
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Verdeloth the Ancient
1 Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger


1 Asceticism
1 Greater Good
1 Lurking Predators
1 Seal of Primordium
1 Sylvan Library


1 Krosan Grip


1 Cultivate
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Hunting Wilds
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Nature’s Lore
1 Search for Tomorrow
1 Three Visits
1 Time of Need


33 Forest


1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers


1 Mosswort Bridge
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Slippery Karst
1 Tranquil Thicket

Reki, History of Kamigawa
Sheldon Menery
0th Place at Test deck on 07-31-2011

This is certainly the greatest number of Legendary permanents I’ve ever seen in a deck. You have to give style points for there not being any non-Legendary creatures in the lineup. Obviously Okina isn’t going to draw a card, but Joseph said that he just thought it fit the flavor. There are a few cards that really struck my fancy:

Autumn Willow: Reverse Hexproof as a keyword?

Ayumi, the Last Visitor: I’ve mentioned it before in a Hidden Gems article, and I still like it. You know that guy who is playing Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Cabal Coffers? Attack him.

Jolrael, Empress of Beasts: You can give an opponent a significant choice of damnations: get beaten down by your dudes or get his lands Wrathed away. A shockingly good rattlesnake.

Kaysa: Rebecca Guay art, and a creature from Alliances that doesn’t totally suck.

Mirri, Cat Warrior: I guess in the land of giant, swingy dudes, a simple little vigilance forestwalker doesn’t seem so great, but with one or more of those Legendary Artifacts equipped to her, suddenly she’s very, very dangerous. In other decks, equip her with things like Sword of Light and Shadow or Sword of War and Peace for serious beats.

Seal of Primordium: I generally like the Seals since you can drop them early if you have them or play them late if you draw them. In the format, this one will always find a target.

Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang: I’ve always liked this card and have simply forgotten about playing it. Giving a creature +5/+5 for only 3 mana is really good, and the flavor of turning the thing into a Dragon is just cool.

That Which Was Taken: Myojin of Life’s Web is the only thing that can get extra mileage out of this, but your guys being indestructible isn’t terrible. If you have Divinity counters on your creatures and a Disk goes off, it’s good news for you.

Three Visits: Not quite as spicy here, but for multicolor decks, this is way better than Rampant Growth, since you can get the dual land that has the same color you would have gotten.

There are a few cards I might like to try to squeeze into the deck:

Glissa Sunseeker: Artifact control is always important. Glissa fits the Legendary requirement, and she can certainly battle if she’s not blowing up stuff.

Karn, Silver Golem: If Legends are the theme of the deck, fewer are more iconic than Karn. Plus, I want to see Akroma’s Memorial attack!

Meng Huo, Barbarian King: There are other P3K cards already, so this isn’t going too far out of the box, and it’s another Kaysa.

Predator, Flagship: Flexibility of giving one of those Legendary dudes flying or destroying a big, fat flier seems like there’s no downside.

Skyshroud Claim: Because I can’t get enough of this card. The lands enter the battlefield untapped, for cryin’ out loud!

Tenza, Godo’s Maul: It seems a little wrong to play Godo’s Maul without Godo, but +3/+3 for the equip cost of one is great value.

Yavimaya Hollow: Regeneration for the low cost of 1 Green.

I’m not sure if I’ll have the chance to sleeve it up and play it, but Joseph’s deck does look like a good deal of fun, and it’s something different in a color scheme that’s gotten pretty stale. I’m sure he won’t mind if you ship in suggestions as well. Huge thanks to him for sending it to me.

Next week, I’ll be heading off to Gen Con for Spell-Slinging, and there’s been talk about a few panels since Scott Larabee and Mark Gottlieb are also supposed to be there. I’ll let folks know via the official forums as soon as I have a schedule. If you’re in the trading card hall, drop by to help me Embrace the Chaos!