From Right Field: Blue-Footed Boobie

I was so ready to regale you with tales of incredible victories with my latest deck. The problem is that I’d have to lie.
You see, this week, I tried to create a (mostly) Blue deck. I’m bad at that. I’m also bad at playing Blue decks. I feel very exposed. I get nervous sitting back and waiting. I’m always afraid that my opponent is going to overwhelm me with threats, which they often do. So, I counter everything I see early. Then, when the big threats hit, I have nothing left.

You’d think that, if I know this, I could do something about it…

{From Right Field is a column for Magic players on a budget, although even those with more money and expertise might – might – still find something useful here. As such, the decks written about in this column are, almost by necessity, rogue decks. They contain few rares, if any. When they do contain rares, those cards will either be cheap rares or staples of which new players should be trying to collect a set of four, such as Wrath of God or the Onslaught Fetchlands for the colors they play. The decks are also tested by the author (who isn’t very good at playing Magic), in tournaments. In other words, he puts his money where his mouth is. He will never claim that a deck has a 65% winning percentage against the entire field. He will also let you know when the deck is just plain lousy.}

I was so ready to regale you with tales of incredible victories with my latest deck. The problem is that I’d have to lie.

You see, this week, I tried to create a (mostly) Blue deck. I’m bad at that. I’m also bad at playing Blue decks. I feel very exposed. I get nervous sitting back and waiting. I’m always afraid that my opponent is going to overwhelm me with threats, which they often do. So, I counter everything I see early. Then, when the big threats hit, I have nothing left.

You’d think that, if I know this, I could do something about it. The problem is that, when I try to stay calm and sit back, I do get trounced. It’s a vicious cycle.

Thomas Edison used to say that he never failed. He just found fourteen-thousand ways not to make a light bulb. Let’s say that I’ve found fourteen-thousand ways not to make a Blue Standard deck.

You’d think I would just stay away from Blue-based decks, then. Sorry. I just can’t help myself. I’m like a coke head when there’s powder on the table. I’m like an alcoholic at an Italian wedding. I’m like Halle Berry when there’s an abusive guy around.”Gotta get me some a that, uh-huh!” [So that’s why she hasn’t been returning my calls! – an enlightened Knut]

There are some Blue cards with which I am seemingly compelled to play right now. I had to get them out of my system. Cards like:


What a concept. For 1U, you can change the target of any spell or ability (with a single target). Your opponent just activated her Goblin Charbelcher for what you’re sure will be lethal damage? Just flip over ‘Bender, and kill her instead. Did that whiny guy who plays Goblins – every – single – week – just point a Sparksmith at your Exalted Angel? Send it back at his Sparksmith. Yes, I am smitten with Willbender right now worse than I am even smitten with Daniela Pestova. If you know who that is, you also know that that’s saying a lot.

Psychic Membrane

So, what you’re saying is that if I block with this thing, I get to draw a card. Meaning that even if it dies in its first combat, there’s no card disadvantage? Whoa.

Thieving Magpie

Did you know this was back in Eighth Edition? I wasn’t sure. I had to check the Oracle. It is. Drawing an extra card every turn is nice. At least, that’s what I hear.

The problem that I knew I’d have is that those guys are not going to win the game by themselves. Heck one of them can’t even attack. I know this because it says right on the card”Walls can’t attack,” and it’s a Wall. I’d have to bring in a heavy hitter. Who’s heavier than the Fat Djinn? Not a whole lotta folks. Certainly not the waifish Kristin Kreuk. Grrrrr, baby. Yeah!

I threw in some countermagic (Mana Leak and Remove Soul) and some card drawing (Thirst for Knowledge), and away I went.

A Note on Thirst for Knowledge in Non-Affinity Decks: I know this guy named David Dyer. He’s a very interesting guy. When I say”interesting,” I don’t mean quote interesting unquote. (You gotta picture me doing the thing with my fingers there.) I mean, he draws your interest. He’s a small, wiry guy with spiked blonde hair and tattoos. He’s also working on his graduate degree, and he’s a former member of the 82nd Airborne. I’ve heard stories of him ripping people’s lungs out and beating up three Marines all by himself. Of course, I don’t believe everything I read in chat rooms. Unless it involves Amanda Detmer. [One of these days I’m going to make Romeo find his own cheesecake, so someone else can get in trouble with their significant other. – Knut]

Anyway, David is a pretty savvy Magic player. He’s always finding very smart and fun ways to tweak decks. David likes Thirst for Knowledge in any deck that has access to Blue mana, even if it doesn’t run artifacts. Why? Because it’s an instant that only costs 2U and gets you three cards deeper into your deck. Whether or not you have an artifact to ditch is irrelevant. You’re now either three cards closer to your answer, or you have it in your hand thanks to the Thirst. Congratulations. You can add artifact lands to any deck. If you happen to have an artifact land after you draw your three with Thirst, you’re golden. If not, no sweat off the camel’s back.

A Note on Remove Soul: The knock on Remove Soul is that it’s a very conditional counterspell. I don’t see it that way. I see it as countermagic that works whenever you have 1U and need to stop a creature from hitting. How is this any worse that Mana Leak? Mana Leak can’t stop Wrath of God if your opponent has three mana available. Remove Soul can’t stop Wrath of God, either. Remove Soul can, however, stop an Exalted Angel no matter how much mana your opponent has available.

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Mess Already in Progress

I threw the deck together and played some faux games against a Goblin deck and a Zombie deck. Guess what? Blue is horrible at killing things once they’ve hit the board. I knew in my heart and gut (as well as skull, thorax, and nether regions) that I’d have to add another color. Black was my first choice since it’s so good at killing creatures.

Which meant Polluted Delta.

Sorry. Go fish.

I’m gonna lessen the agony. Here’s what I had. After my favorite character from Futurama, I called it:


24 Lands

4 Polluted Delta

4 Salt Marsh

4 Seat of the Synod

1 Lonely Sandbar

1 Barren Moor

2 Vault of Whispers

3 Swamp

5 Island

18 Creatures

4 Ravenous Rats

4 Psychic Membrane

4 Willbender

4 Thieving Magpie

2 Mahamoti Djinn

18 Other Spells

4 Mana Leak

4 Remove Soul

4 Dark Banishing

4 Thirst for Knowledge

2 Rewind

15 Sideboard

4 Scrabbling Claws

4 Leonin Bladetrap

4 Annul

3 Steal Artifact

I’ll now take your questions. Yes, you with the cleavage spilling out of your tight t-shirt. What’s your name?


Um, Brad. Sorry. It’s just, well, you see . . . .

“Yeah. No problem. I get that all the time. Anyway, so, why did you use Ravenous Rats and not, say, Wall of Steel? The Wall comes out on turn 1 and stops up some of the weenies you seem to be worried about. It also gives you something else to ditch to Thirst.”

Excellent question Brad. The truth is that I tried Wall of Steel. All it does is stop things. You’d think that would be fine. Honestly, though, it wasn’t. The Rats can actually kill some weenies. Even if they don’t, they do strip a card. I could have made a terrible mistake. Heck, the whole deck seemed to be a terrible mistake.

Okay, let’s see. You in the back row.

“Mr. Romeo, why the Leonin Bladetrap and not Infest in the sideboard? Infest only costs three to play. You’d need five mana to cast and activate the Bladetrap all at once.”

Another excellent question. Man, it’s like you guys know the game or something. To be honest, I liked the surprise factor involved with the Bladetrap. Infest is a sorcery. The Bladetrap can be played as an instant. Also, the Bladetrap is colorless damage. Again, I may have made a big mistake.

Yes, you in the stained t-shirt.

“Um, yeah, okay. So, like, um, why didn’t you use Aether Spellbomb? It’s another first-turn play, it’s an artifact, and it can deal with creatures.”

Aether Spellbomb is great for Affinity. Sometimes, Affinity decks have to deal with that one pesky flier that can block the Broodstar. Get rid of that, and the Broodstar can swing in for the kill. This deck doesn’t really have that power. Sending something back only means that it comes out again next turn and has to be dealt with then. That’s what Dark Banishing was for.

Ms. Lane, I think you were next.

“Mr. Romeo, how did Willbender work out?”

Willbender is as good as I expected he’d be. Of course, you don’t want to drop him on turn 3 because he’s a sitting duck. Effectively, he’s a fifth turn play. When you’ve got the 1U up, though, he’s your MVP. Visara kills herself. Shrapnel Blasts hit Clickslithers instead of you. You can even make the Goblin Sledder pump up your guy instead of the one your opponent thought he was gonna save. Delicious.

Okay, time for one more. Yes?

“Why did you use Steal Artifact?”

I gotta give props to my main mammal Charles Dykes on this one. We were looking for other cards to use. He noticed that this had been reprinted in Eighth Edition. He and I and Bill Bryant and Jason Jablonski and John Rose all talked about it. There are just so many things that this can take. Forget the typical Affinity stuff like Myr Enforcer. Think about the Lightning Greaves that’s making that Broodstar impossible to kill. Take it and put it on your guy. The ‘Star gets smaller, too. Or what if your opponent is a little mana hosed but has an artifact land out. Take it!

Essentially, I put into the deck a bunch of cards that I wanted to play with.

Warning: That’s not a very smart way to build a deck.

How do I know this? Because I couldn’t even get it out of testing. It’s not that it got rolled. On the contrary, it took quite a while for most decks to beat it. Invariably, though, they did beat it. Bender can’t beat weenies of any color. It can’t beat Affinity. It can’t beat mono-Black Clerics. It couldn’t beat Michael Jackson in a bathroom with walls covered in doo-doo. (And God makes another mark in his Book of Bad Acts right beside Chris’ name.)

However . . .

Willbender is awesome, great, and powerful. I wish I had a better command of the English language. I’d write flowery things about that card that would make generations to come weep with joy. I’d pen a ballad that would hit number one with a bullet. Alas, I am left with”He’s the cat’s meow.” So sad.

I want to use him in a deck. I want to win with him. Here’s my idea. I hope this doesn’t cause any problems. Possibly, the response will be so overwhelming that Star City will have to add more servers. Here goes. I want us, the scrubs and wannabes, to build a competitive, cheap deck using Willbender. You can have two slots (eight cards) that are rares. You can make it Blue-Black and use Polluted Delta or Blue-White and use Flooded Strand. That’d give you four more rare cards. You could choose to skip the rare lands and go with eight other rares. That’s it, though. The maximum is eight rare cards.

Everything else has to be common or uncommon, and it has to utilize Willbender. Post it on the boards. (If you’re not a registered user, it’s free and easy.) (Like me!) Don’t e-mail me, because I won’t have time to answer what I fully expect to be a veritable plethora of missives. (“Would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?”) Discuss amongst yourselves. We’ll see what we can put together.

‘Cause there is no more fun way to win that pointing a Charbelcher back at your opponent.

Trust me. None.

Bonus Track

Oh, come one. Did you think I was going to just let you suffer with a deck that stunk? You did? Is that what you think of me? It is? I thought you loved me. Man, I have got to stop reading my press clippings.

Anyway, after my column on the $8.95 White Weenie Deck (From Right Field: Whipping Out the White Weenie), I got a lot of questions. The majority asked something like this:”How would you build it if you used some good rares?” I’d build it like Shannon Owens built it for his son to play. Shae is nine years old. He played the following deck this weekend and beat the living daylights out of me. He also beat the snot out of a couple of folks and beat the tar out of one other. Here’s what he had:

Seven-Hundred-Ninety-Six-Dollar White Weenie

15 Lands (yes, just 15)

11 Plains

4 Ancient Den (anti-Flashfires tech)

22 Creatures

4 Suntail Hawk

4 Tundra Wolves

4 Silver Knight

4 White Knight

4 Whipcorder

2 Dawn Elemental

23 Other Spells

4 Chrome Mox

4 Raise the Alarm

4 Arrest

4 Glorious Anthem

4 Bonesplitter

3 Mask of Memory

It’s Magic Riddle Time in Right Field!

Q: What’s worse than a Chrome Mox, a Mountain, and a Slith Firewalker on your opponent’s first turn?

A: Two Chrome Moxes, a Plains, a Silver Knight, and a Bonesplitter on your opponent’s first turn when you’re playing Goblins.

Before you fire off rants to me and rage against me on the boards, I was also quite skeptical about this deck using only fifteen lands. I mean, come on, there’s weenie decks, and then there’s this. This is less believable than Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model Paulina Porizkova marrying Cars front man Ric Ocasek. I wouldn’t believe it, either, unless I saw it myself. Trouble is I did see it for myself. I watched what it did in the hands of a nine-year-old kid who, admittedly, made a lot of play mistakes.

I’m not sure what the sideboard was. If money is no object for you, you must have some Second Sunrises. Then, splash in Wing Shards, Scrabbling Claws, Ivory Mask, and Tempest of Light, depending on what you expect to see in your local tourneys.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Now, please, turn to page sixty-two, and sing with me Homer & Jethro’s”I Got Tears in My Ears from Lying on My Back Crying Over You.”

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