I don’t play Zen Magic, and I’ve never met anyone who does. I’m always fidgeting, sweating out some details, tossing cards back and forth from hand to hand. I do get distracted. Sometimes I make mistakes, for which I have to beat myself up afterward. I get upset when I lose a close one to someone I should have defeated.
I’m sure I’m not alone in these minor failings. Who doesn’t twitch after a period of tense stillness, drum the fingers, block incorrectly every so often? Human beings have shortcomings, and often those shortcomings are reflected in our play. I’ve come to accept my own”bad Magic habits” as unconquerable extensions of my personality. While I work to minimize their effects, I can never truly stamp them out. I’m competitive; therefore, I get a bit perturbed at a tough loss that I could have won. I’m somewhat excitable when the pressure is on, so every so often I’ll overlook a less obvious play that a cooler player might have seen.
Maybe what I need is a sort of inner guide, a calming voice to relax me and let me play my best game. Even better, perhaps I need a complete reversal of attitudes when I’m at the Magic table. What would it be like, I wonder (in one of those fits of whimsical fancy that only a gaming enthusiast could have) if I played Magic like Yoda, the diminutive Jedi Master from the Star Wars movies of George Lucas?
Matches would be filled with fun sentence inversions:
“I am wondering, at what life are you?”
“Rage you I will! Mhhmm! Yes!”
The Force would grant me power over weak minds – ratings fraud would be a snap:
“How long have you had this DCI number?”
“About 3 or 4 seasons.”
“I’ll need to see your identification.”
“You don’t need to see my identification.”
“I don’t need to see your identification.”
“I can go about my business.”
“You can go about your business.”
Judges would be hard-pressed to win an argument:
“For the last time, damage doesn’t resolve at the end of the stack during damage prevention! We use 6th Edition rules now!”
“For 800 years have I played Magic! My own counsel will I keep on what rules are to be used!”
Motivational speeches to teammates would drive them to victory at premier events:
“Master Yoda, beating up scrubs at my local card store is one thing…this is totally different!”
“No! No different! Only different in your mind.”
“Okay, I’ll give it a try.”
“No. Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.”
After a harsh ass whipping at the hands of a more skilled opponent, I’d be able to get fellow players to face the truth:
“Yoda…how did you think I did against that guy?”
“Rest I need. Yes. Rest.”
“Yoda, I must know.”
“Your daddy he is.”
Senility could be used as an excuse for sketchy Rochester picks:
“Thanks for going into my colors, a**h*le!”
“Hmph! When 900 years old YOU reach, draft as well you will not!”
What do you think? It could work… And everyone needs a gimmick.
Before I get into the card reviews, I want to mention something about the Magic scene in my town that is a little strange. The population of Sarnia, Ontario is about 80,000 people or so – enough to support a couple of gaming establishments without too much trouble. As a result, there are two Friday Night Magic events going on every Friday evening.
The strange thing is, the events are going on about one block from each other. Both gaming establishments are located in the same section of downtown Sarnia.
Just last week, we had the first instance of a local player entering two Friday Night Magic events simultaneously. Jean-Marc Babin, a local Magic player of some skill, was entered in both the FNM T2 at”Chris Caves’ Sportscards” and the FNM Booster Draft at”Future Pastimes,” where I play.
Who does this guy think he is? Kai?
People were a little nonplussed at first – we didn’t think much of Jean-Marc going over to mise another promo card while delaying our draft. Predictably, he received a good deal of razzing from the Future Pastimes players whenever he would return from beating on a Cave player, most of whom are between the ages of ten and sixteen. Many of them also play stuff like Agonizing Demise and Healing Salve in their decks.
Was Jean-Marc able to become the first Sarnia player ever to simultaneously play in and win two events? Not quite. After emerging victorious over Mike”Jersey” Clark in a harrowing control-on-control matchup in the Future Pastimes draft finals, he returned to”The Cave” to find himself saddled with a game loss for arriving more than ten minutes late for the start of the semi-final round! Had he not risked life and limb in sprinting across Christina Street at top speed, Jean-Marc might have forfeited the entire round due to his draft-related tardiness!
Unfortunately, Game 2 was a brutal color screw loss. After a great start, (mising the draft from players who were ready to throttle him for winning in spite of his complete lack of attention for most of the evening), our hero was unable to capture both victories.
Okay, okay… Let’s talk about Judgment before I start waxing philosophic about Chewbacca the Wookie.
Name a nonland card. Target player reveals his or her hand and discards from it all cards with that name.
Flashback – Sacrifice a creature.
Duress was a good card, everyone knows that. Well, this puppy packs more power than even Duress. The caveat is, Cabal Therapy will miss a lot more often. That’s not enough of a drawback to render it unplayable.
While Cabal Therapy will sometimes do basically nothing, it makes up for that shortcoming with the ability to nab two cards with the same name. Against Red/Green, I would probably start by naming Flametongue Kavu. Imagine the crushing blow that would be dealt if the R/G player had started the match with two in hand! Against a Blue deck, I’d likely name Fact or Fiction. Same scenario… Knocking two Fact or Fictions out of an opening hand is an utter beating.
Even if the Therapy does fail to hit two or even one card on the first try, it lets you scope the opposing mitt and even take a second potshot at it, if you’re willing to sacrifice your Ravenous Rat or whatever creature you happen to have.
Ah yes, the flashback option. Every strategy writer from A to Z(vi?) is going to tell you about the possibilities this card has with Ravenous Rats and other cheap, expendable creatures. If you name”Flametongue Kavu” but see no Kavu and two Skizziks, it’s worth your while to have a Rat”take one for the team” and eliminate those 5/3 tramplers before they come over and spank you. It’s two cards for two cards in that case, like a duo of Addles. That isn’t too bad. And imagine the devastation if you name Counterspell with your first Therapy, nab two of those, and then flash it back next turn after a Rat to nab the twin copies of Fact or Fiction you scouted on the first pass?
These are great stories for the Cabal Therapy campfire singalong. Will the card be this good all the time, in practice? No. And it will still suffer from the same problems that Duress did against beatdown and other decks – uselessness when pulled off the top and looking for gas.
Along with Duress though, I think a Black deck with Therapy, Duress and Ravenous Rats has got a killer early game. Duress and take the best spell, then Therapy and take whatever is left. The two spells are both top-notch and work great in tandem.
Cabal Therapy is also great with Ichorid, since it’s going to die anyway. If your opponent is sitting with a card in hand, you might as well try to nab it.
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Nantuko Shade
4 Phyrexian Rager
2 Shambling Swarm
Splash to taste and go from there.
Choose a card you own from outside the game, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. You lose half your life, rounded up. Remove ~this~ from the game.
He wished for power, but not for the longevity to abuse it.
This card is actually pretty neat… And the drawback isn’t too bad against control, which is where combo decks typically have the most trouble anyhow. Note that the life loss isn’t part of the casting cost. Is there a combo deck that can use this strong tutor to good effect? I’m not sure.
Any deck that already has trouble with R/G beats won’t be able to use this. Though Control Black has a lot of”silver bullet” cards that can deal with most anything, I’m not sure Death Wish fits into the plan when the deck can already easily run 4 Diabolic Tutor. Is it worth a large drawback to be able to look through a sideboard?
Each player may remove any number of cards in his or her graveyard from the game. Then each player loses 1 life or each card in his or her graveyard. Draw a card.
“You call that a nightmare?”
-Braids, dementia summoner
Now where does this lost puppy find a home? It may in fact only see play as a sideboard card against graveyard decks. Still, something about it intrigues me.
Grave Consequences (nice card name, by the way) is a cantrip that lets you play a tighter deck. It will often have a very annoying effect on an opposing deck. It’s cheap, and it’s an instant. If you design your deck right, and keep your graveyard empty, this could be more than a sideboard card… It could be a powerhouse.
The first thing you’d have to do is eliminate all your graveyard interaction and flashback cards. Also, you wouldn’t want to play this in a control deck – the loss of life is no big deal if you don’t have your opponent on a fast clock. Perhaps the right place for this card is in a R/B aggro deck?
Firebolt can be an exception to the”empty graveyard” rule simply because it’s so good.
Hmm, could this be splashed in a R/G speed deck? What about Gorilla Titan?
Okay, I’m grasping for straws now… But the cheap cost, instant-speed effect, and especially the cantrip ability means that this card has a lot of potential.
Creature – Horror
~this~ can’t be blocked except by artifact and/or black creatures. Whenever ~this~ attacks and isn’t blocked, target player loses 1 life for each card in his or her graveyard.
The absolute nuts. There aren’t a lot of 5CC creatures that swing for ten life loss/turn in the late game, with evasion. Guiltfeeder will find a place as a serious finisher in black beatdown, or maybe even in a mono-black control deck! Hell, in any black deck.
How about a little mana acceleration – turn 4 Guiltfeeder, turn 5 Traumatize, win? Don’t underestimate this guy. Can you imagine the utter destruction that a Guiltfeeder would unleash on a U/G madness player who is caught with no answers in the midgame? Against a Psychatog player in the same situation? Guiltfeeder is a probably a one-turn clock against the Tog player, if he hasn’t had the chance to chew up his graveyard.
Guiltfeeder is the most dangerous 5CC creature to be printed in a long time. If he comes out in the mid to late game, it’s over in one or two turns. That’s scary. Guiltfeeder/Millstone? Janky! I’m sure you can do better, but it’s a start. Book Burning? Take six, or… Take six! Great choices. Watch out for the B/R deck.
Creature – Minion Wolf
Threshold – ~this~ gets +2/+2 and has”When ~this~ is put into a graveyard from play, you lose 4 life.”
Will there ever be a good R/B threshold/beatdown deck? With new Red cards like Book Burning, it could happen. Though the drawback is harsh, this could be good with cards like Rites Of Initiation for the quick kill. Suicide Black returns?
A potential 4/4 for three mana, and easy to cast, might turn a few heads. Because Treacherous Werewolf starts out as a much faster clock than Werebear, I wouldn’t call it strictly inferior – you may not hit threshold until you’re ready to go in for the kill.
This card unfortunately doesn’t combo well with other cards I might want to put in my B/R aggro deck – like Grave Consequences.
That’s about it for the Judgment Black cards. Until next time, may the Force be with you. And get those Guiltfeeders ASAP!
“Your daddy he is.”
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