From Right Field: Enshrined in the Hall of Fame

Over the last few columns, I’ve mentioned Shrine decks. It’s always been in the context of “What does this deck have in the sideboard for Shrine decks?” Most people, it seems, don’t understand why I’m worried about Shrine decks. The reactions have run the gamut from “You’re a silly man who makes me laugh with your worrying about Shrines” to “What a stupid idiot you are! No one plays Shrine decks!” I beg to differ – those decks are ubiquitous online. That means that someday soon you’ll be facing them in real life, too.

{From Right Field is a column for Magic players on a budget or players who don’t want to play netdecks. The decks are designed to let the budget-conscious player be competitive in local, Saturday tournaments. They are not decks that will qualify a player for The Pro Tour. As such, the decks written about in this column are, almost by necessity, rogue decks. They contain, at most, eight to twelve rares. 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, City of Brass, or Birds of Paradise. The decks are also tested by the author, who isn’t very good at playing Magic. His playtest partners, however, are excellent. He will never claim that a deck has an 85% winning percentage against the entire field. He will also let you know when the decks are just plain lousy. Readers should never consider these decks “set in stone” or “done.” If you think you can change some cards to make them better, well, you probably can, and the author encourages you to do so.}

A couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite times of year – from a baseball perspective – came upon us. The Hall of Fame announced the results of this year’s election. Ryne Sandberg and Wade Boggs got in. It’s always interesting to me to look at the results of the voting. For example, Boggs was named on all but forty-two ballots. Why did forty-two voters say “Not this year, big guy”? Was it because he didn’t hit for any power in winning all of those batting titles? Was it that his 3,010 hits weren’t quite enough to make him first-ballot worthy? And what about Sandberg, the best second baseman of his era, a slick fielder with power who led the hapless Cubs to their first play-off appearance since 1969? Why was he worthy this year after two other votes in which he wasn’t deemed good enough? Did he turn a couple of double plays that I didn’t see in the last few months?

What about Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage? Sutter invented the split-fingered fastball (or at least became the first pitcher to use it well) and was the dominant relief pitcher in the NL for his career. Meanwhile, the term “closer” was invented to describe Gossage. Will they ever get in? Don’t even get me started on Jim Rice.

Turning back to the positive, I’m very happy that Boggs and Sandberg will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame at the end of July. They deserve it.

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, if there was a Magic Player’s HoF, Jamie Wakefield would be in it. I gotta mention my favorite line from Jamie Wakefield piece last week. Speaking of the store in which he played this particular tourney, he said “I choose this picture because it shows off an angle of the store.” Riiiiiight. It has nothing to do with the fact that the “angle” of “this picture” also shows off the figure of the voluptuous woman with the long, curly, red hair. It’s just a good shot of the store. Got it. *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*

Ever wonder why they call being elected to the Hall of Fame “being enshrined”? Me, neither. It does, however, give me a decent segue to this subject of this week’s article, The Shrine Deck.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do think I’m clever. Very clever indeed.

Over the last few columns, I’ve mentioned Shrine decks. It’s always been in the context of “What does this deck have in the sideboard for Shrine decks?” Most people, it seems, don’t understand why I’m worried about Shrine decks. The reactions have run the gamut from “You’re a silly man who makes me laugh with your worrying about Shrines” to “What a stupid idiot you are! No one plays Shrine decks!”

If I make you laugh, great. I beg to differ on the other end, though. I am not a stupid idiot. I’m a smart idiot who has simply been misunderestimated. Anyway, I know where these folks are coming from. Few of them have sat down across from Shrine decks in tourneys yet. However, those decks are ubiquitous online. That means that someday soon you’ll be facing them in real life, too.

What the Flark is a Shrine Deck?

Could it be that there are really folks who don’t know what we’re talking about? I’m sure there are. Probably neither Jessica Biel nor Judit Masco ever even heard of Magic, let alone the Shrines. To be more specific, is it possible that there are Magic players who don’t know what these Shrines are? Yes, it is. This is for them.

The Section to Skip if You Know All About Shrines and Don’t Like Gratuitous Cheesecake

If you go to the StarCity card search engine, which should be at the upper left of this column, and type “Honden” – not “Hurley” as in Elizabeth Hurley, but “Honden” – you’ll see a list of five Legendary Enchantments, one for each color. This cycle is based on the Myojin. For example, the Red Myojin is the Myojin of Infinite Rage. Apparently, the very, very, very angry people who worship the Myojin of Infinite Rage do so at the Honden of Infinite Rage.

As you can see, the Shrines each have an effect that gets bigger based on the number of Shrines you control. However, since they’re Legendary (the first ever Legendary Enchantments, by the way), you’re only going to get one of each out at a time. Thus, to take full advantage of the effects, you’ll probably want to get out one of each. This means that you’ll have to play all five colors of Shrines. Or will you . . . ?

Okay, technically, yes, to take full advantage, you’d have to have one of each. What I meant was “do you really want to play all five of the Shrines?” That was supposed to be, like, foreshadowing. Of course, now the drama has been blunted. So, look at this for a second as a distraction.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Myojin?

The answer to that question depends on whether you mean “How do I beat the deck?” or “How do I build a good version?” The first question is easiest to answer. Only two of the Shrines can actually kill an opponent. The Shrine of at Most Five Damage and the Shrine of Annoying 1/1 Spirit Creatures (a.k.a., respectively, Honden of Infinite Rage and Honden of Life’s Web). Destroy those, and you’ll be okay, at least until they get others of the same kind. The problem is that only Green with Naturalize, Wear Away, and a couple of other (sillier) options (like Elvish Lyrist, who did not, contrary to popular belief, write the words to “Viva Las Vegas”) and White with Kami of Ancient Law, Tempest of Light, and Cleanfall can do anything about the Shrines once they hit. Sure, Blue can hope to counter them, but that’s not the same as blowing them up. Red and Black have only one option, and that’s Oblivion Stone. I guess you could say that Culling Scales gives those colors a second option. However, due to the Shrines’ casting costs, only the Red Shrine would ever get hit. That’s not a bad one to get, but Culling Scales is no Oblivion Stone.

“The Shrines are Bad, M’kay?”

Building a competitive Shrine deck, the other Shrine Problem, is a bit tougher. The cheapest one to cast (Honden of Infinite Rage) is three mana. That’s fine, because it does direct damage for free. The other four, though, all cost four or five mana. In other words, if you get a turn 3 Red Shrine and a turn 4 White or Black Shrine, you won’t do two damage to anything until the upkeep of your fifth turn. That’s a good way to end your round with forty-two minutes left.

Oh, yeah, don’t forget, you’re probably going to play at least four and maybe five colors. Yes, the Shrines push you toward a four- or five-color deck that tries to win with enchantments.

And I wonder why people call me crazy.

Luckily, from my work on the Two-Headed Dragon deck from last week, I had a nice Green base to help smooth out mana. Getting an Island by turn 4 or a Swamp on turn 3 shouldn’t be a problem. I started out with a base-Green deck running four copies of all five enchantments. The non-mana-accelerating support spells were Glacial Ray and, well, nothing else. There wasn’t any room. In fact, the first version looked like this:

25 Lands

13 Forest

6 Mountain

2 Swamp

2 Island

2 Plains

20 Shrines

(4 of each color)

4 Kodama’s Reach

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

4 Glacial Ray

3 Rampant Growth

Obviously, you can just look at that and see that it wasn’t a world-beater, which is not to be confused with a wifebeater. Playing this did teach me a couple of things, though.

Things I Learned from Playing Twenty Shrines

First, the Black Shrine (Honden of Night’s Reach) isn’t actually all that good. In fact, it’s markedly worse than the others. As the game goes on, all of the other Shrines keep giving you something. No matter where you are in the game, the White Shrine (Honden of Cleansing Fire) will give you life while the Green Shrine (Honden of Life’s Web) will give you creatures. At some point, however, your opponent’s hand is empty, and the Honden of Night’s Reach serves only to power up the other Shrines.

That’s not anything to laugh at, of course. Drawing five cards with the Honden of Seeing Winds is better than drawing four or three. However, I kept getting the feeling that it was really more important to have some sort of other spells in there, spells that actually did something. You know, something that might keep bad things from happening to me and my guys. It seems that most other folks who are playing the deck went with Zubera. As often as I’ve beaten those decks, I didn’t feel like that was the way to go. I needed some defense that stayed around.

So, I dropped the Black Shrines for Vine Trellises. Mana acceleration + Defense = Some Good.

25 Lands

13 Forest

6 Mountain

3 Island

3 Plains

16 Shrines

(4 each of White, Blue, Red, and Green)

4 Kodama’s Reach

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

4 Vine Trellis

4 Glacial Ray

3 Rampant Growth

You’ll probably be shocked – yes, shocked! – to learn that, just as in the Two-Headed Dragon deck, Vine Trellis provides some nice defense that allowed the games to go long enough for the Shrines to even matter.

As I played against various folks online, almost every one said the same thing. “You shouldn’t play with four of any of the Shrines. They’re dead cards!” I hate to disagree with an entire segment of the MTGO-playing public because we know how level-headed they usually are. (See, especially, discussions regarding conceding.) However, you’re all wrong.

I want a Honden of Infinite Rage on turn 3 or a Honden of Seeing Winds on turn 4. I help that by having the maximum of each in the deck. Having four also means that, if one gets blown up or countered, I more easily get another to drop. Also, the fact that I was up to a nearly fifty-fifty (meaning more like forty-sixty) win percentage was heartening.

Still, there were some problems. Mostly, those problems were in the form of big, nasty critters that couldn’t be killed by just a Glacial Ray or two. You know, like Kokusho or a Darksteel Colossus. In other words, the deck was doing well against second-tier and rogue decks, but not the cream of the crop. At the same time, I noticed that there just seemed to be too much land even with all of the thinning. Unlike the Two-Headed Dragon deck, there’s not a whole lot here to suck up extra mana. I went down to twenty-four lands, and took out the Glacial Rays for Consuming Vortexes.

Finally, I noticed that, of the four remaining Shrines, the White (lifegaining) Shrine was the least useful. Makes sense, though – like I said at the beginning, only the Red and Green ones actually kill your opponent while the Blue one lets you draw the cards to kill the opponent. The White Shrine was helpful in that it extended the game while it also powered up the other three. Because of that, I dropped the Honden of Cleansing Fire down to three. With the lands at twenty-four and the Honden of Mr. Clean at three, I had two cards I could add.

When in doubt, go for something big.

I picked Orochi Hatchery.

Go ahead. Finish laughing. I’ll be here when you get back.

What Goes With Scrambled Eggs?

You could go with pretty much any large finisher here. In fact, I almost used Keiga, the Tide Star. It has a benefit that a lot of the other big beaters don’t have. When it gets killed, you get to take another critter. If the other guy has one worth taking, that’s good. The Tide Star is going to be the target of a lot of the opponent’s hate simply because the deck isn’t really running any other creatures on which it’s worth wasting a Rend Flesh. How many times will anyone cast Rend Flesh to kill a Sakura-Tribe Elder? In addition, if they play smart and leave only one creature out, one like Kokusho that can kill Keiga, you won’t get anything when Keiga dies in combat. Also, I didn’t have any Keigas.

At first, I went back to Two-Headed Dragon, but there isn’t enough Red mana to fully abuse the ability. Thorn Elemental is a house and a half, but ran into the same problem I figured I’d have with Keiga: they hold all of their creature kill for that creature. Kodama of the North Tree may be the best big monster for the slot since it can’t be targeted. It can, however, be killed by a Myr Enforcer that’s blocking. Or two Chittering Rats. That’s just sad.

Since I’d never played with the Hatchery and knew I’d have lotsa mana at some points, I decided to use that. If you have Keigas though, use those.

I know that splash damage can be a problem. You gotta play smart. First, you don’t cast the Hatchery early if your opponent is playing what looks to be a deck with lots of artifact hate. In fact, you might even wait until game two to before dropping it. Why? Because I found that most of the decks that have main deck artifact hate dropped it in game two for other cards since this deck showed no artifacts. If they drop artifact hate to bring in Naturalize for the Shrines, well, it’s a wash. If that worries you, by all means, use Keiga or Kodama of the North Tree.

You might also want to try the deck without Rampant Growth. I know that that’s a radical suggestion. You really want to get ramped up on the mana early. As an additional benefit, you want to yank the lands out as much as possible. You don’t need to worry about Armageddon, although Death Cloud is used a lot. Luckily, the Blue Shrine is very good at recovering from a Death Cloud. Other than that, what are you gonna worry about? The Myojin of Infinite Rage? Obliterate?

Hmmmmm . . . I wonder if . . . .

Hold on a second. I’m thinking.

{Let’s see, we take out the Hatcheries for the Red Myojin. Even the flavor has synergy: Myojin of Infinite Rage and its Shrine. We have a card-drawing engine that replenishes our hand very well – we’re drawing three cards per turn if we have the Blue Shrine and another Shrine out – so, blowing up all of the lands isn’t a problem. I’ve gotta try it . . . .}

Can you hang on for a little while? I gotta test something. Be right back.

<Three days later…>

Wow. Have I got some great news. I just saved a ton of money on my car insurance. In addition, it turns out that an indestructible 7/4 creature that’s also an instant-timed Armageddon is “A Good Thing.” Forget I even mentioned the Hatchery. I was drunk or something. I’m using the Red Myojin. The final version:

Hall of Famers

24 Lands

12 Forest

5 Island

5 Mountain

2 Plains

10 Creatures

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

4 Vine Trellis

2 Myojin of Infinite Rage

15 Shrines

3 Honden of Cleansing Fire

4 Honden of Seeing Winds

4 Honden of Infinite Rage

4 Honden of Life’s Web

11 Other Spells

4 Kodama’s Reach

4 Consuming Vortex

3 Rampant Growth

Given the RRR in the Myojin’s casting cost as well as the use of Consuming Vortex, I had to up the total number of Islands and Mountains. It wasn’t a problem.

“Romeo, Why Are You Doing This to Me?”

I apologize for this. I really and for true am sorry. I wanted to stay away from writing about a Shrine deck. When I first started facing them, they didn’t seem to be very good. I was consistently beating them, and that’s not a good sign. Of course, I was often playing a base-Green deck with maindeck Wear Aways, and that may have skewed my idea of how good it was.

Then, I got several requests to look into the deck. The pleas all seemed to say the same thing.

Dear Romeo,

I can’t believe that you say you’re all about cheap decks, yet you still haven’t written about a Shrine deck. They’re all uncommons! You $uck!

Also, can I get an autograph?

Your biggest fan,


The next thing that happened that convinced me to drop this piece was an experience I had in the Tournament Practice room on MTGO. I was having a good night in that room after having moved the deck out of the Casual room, despite playing what others had called “a janky” deck, “ridiculous,” and “a steaming pile of rhino dung.” My final match before going to bed was against a well-tuned G/B Control deck. Talk about tricked out. This guy even had foil Cranial Extractions. I can’t afford regular ones in real life, and this guy had online foils! At the end of the match, he informed me that he had been playing all day, testing for an upcoming tournament at his local den of inequity. He’d played twenty or so matches all day. This deck was the only one to beat him.

He said he was surprised at how many Shrine decks showed up. I asked him how many he’d played against that day. It was five or six.

Dr_Romeo: So, why did this one beat you when the others didn’t? Did you just not get the cards you needed or what?

Foil_Extraction_Guy: The Vortexes and the Myojin. No one else had an alternate win condition unless you count the Zubera (and I don’t), and no one else had a way to deal with Kokusho.”

Because of this and the other successes I’d had in the week or so of testing and molding the deck, I felt pretty good about writing about it.

The Part Where I Suggest You Make the Deck Cost More

Recently, some of the forum hounds and e-mailers have suggested that I talk about adding money to my decks, “you know, like <guy who writes for MagictheGathering.com>.” I would never pretend to be as good as <guy who writes for MagictheGathering.com> at anything relating to Magic. I can, however, rip off his schtick.

First and foremost, Birds of Paradise. If you add the BoPs, you can lower the lands to twenty-three. (Twenty-two would surely be pushing it, but you can test it.) I would not recommend replacing either the Elders or the Vine Trellises. Those also double as early defense. A better bet would be dropping the Rampant Growths. Between dropping the three Growths and a land, you have room for four Birds.

As you know if you’ve been playing Magic for more than sixteen minutes, a Birds of Paradise allows you to be a turn early casting stuff. With this deck more than most, that’s a huge bonus. A first-turn Birds means a second-turn Honden of Infinite Rage. First- and second-turn Birds can mean a third turn Honden of Seeing Winds or Honden of Life’s Web.

A deck like this also screams for City of Brass. Anything to help smooth the mana. I wouldn’t use more than two, though, since it can hurt quite a bit. Besides, there really should be enough Forests to help the Elders and Reaches smooth things out, especially if you drop in Birds.

In addition, in any base-Green deck, you could use Eternal Witness. Several readers have asked why I didn’t mention that hot-hot-hottie in decks that use Green. First off, even though she’s an uncommon, she’s an expensive one. In fact, a quick check of the StarCityGames.com store shows that (as of this writing) she is $7.50 each while Two-Headed Dragons (the focus-rare in last week’s piece) are only $5.50 each. Of course, this is like the joke about divorces.

Q: Why are divorces so expensive?

A: Because they’re worth it!

So yes indeedily doodily, if you have any Eternal Witnesses, try to fit them in.

Oh, yeah, and Keiga, the Tide Star. Don’t forget Keiga. If you have Keiga, use her over the Myojin of Infinite Rage.

Playing the Deck

First and foremost, don’t focus so much on Shrines that you forget to play a smart game. I know that’s counterintuitive. “The whole point of the deck is to play Shrines. That’s like saying ‘Here’s a picture of Estella Warren, but don’t notice how hot she is.'” No, it’s not. That’s why it’s counterintuitive. The point of the deck is to survive long enough to play Shrines so you can win the game. Your opening hand should have some sort of defense and mana acceleration. Don’t worry about the Shrines. A quarter of the deck is Shrines. They will come. You need mana acceleration and defense to start with. You’ll be tempted to mulligan a perfectly good hand of, say, two Forests, an Island, a Kodama’s Reach, a Sakura-Tribe Elder, a Vine Trellis, and a Rampant Growth.

“Don’t do it, man!”

Early on, you want to play this deck as if it was a Tooth and Nail deck. Make sacrificial blockers. Ramp up your mana. Stay in the game. Then, you cast the enchantments. Of course, that’s how the mana curve is designed in this. With the Shrines all costing between three and five mana, the first two or three turns are for doing other things.

Once things stabilize, you can use the Honden of Infinite Rage to pick off small annoying creatures or point it right at the opponent. The Spirit tokens from the Honden of Life’s Web also do double duty as attackers or blocker. Heh. Dooty.

Finally, don’t have any reservations about ripping the Divinity counter off of the Myojin if you have a Honden of Seeing Winds and are certain that your opponent can’t blow up the Shrine in response. You will draw more cards than s/he will. Which means that you will get more lands. Even if you don’t, if you have a Green or Red Shrine (or both), you’ll be doing damage without the benefit of lands. Amazing, innit?

Against Affinity

Slow and steady wins the race. Vine Trellises and Elders block anything they can. Use the Honden of Infinite Rage to pick of Disciples first. A smart opponent will wait to combo you out in this match. In other words, knowing that the Red Shrine can pick off the Disciple, s/he will wait to drop the second or third Disciple at a point when sacrificing everything to a Ravager will kill you. Honden of Cleansing Fire is a great friend in this match. The White Shrine plus any other Shrine is like killing a Myr Enforcer every turn. The Honden of Life’s web is important, too. Nothing they have tramples, so the Spirit tokens can hold the ground. Save the Consuming Vortexes for Ornithopters wearing silly metal hats.

Your sideboard tech against this deck is the boring Electrostatic Bolt. Common but extremely useful. You might also want to use Damping Matrix – it’s your call.

Against Tooth and Nail

Don’t laugh, but this deck has been harsh on T&N. Weren’t you listening? I said, don’t laugh. Both T&N and the Shrine deck ramp up their mana. This one, however, is steadily cranking out token creatures or damage or both while drawing extra cards. When playing against T&N, hold the Consuming Vortexes. You will need to bounce some dangerous stuff. Use the Honden of Infinite Rage to get rid of Kiki-Jiki. If they bring it back or cast another, do it again. Save the bounce for the creatures that the Honden of Infinite Rage can’t kill.

As a sideboard strategy, I still like the Scrabbling Claws / Stone Rain combo. (You may also want to try Reap and Sow instead of Stone Rain since it only costs one more mana and, played later, can grab a land, too.) Killing just a few lands really hurts T&N. Meanwhile, the Claws prevents Silly Witness Tricks. I used to try using Stone Rain plus Molten Rain. The only problem was Rampant Growth and Sylvan Scrying kept getting returned to their hands, allowing them to get more lands. Scrabbling Claws prevents the land grabbing spells from coming back to haunt you.

Against G/B Control

People have asked that I start separating Tooth & Nail and G/B Control. I have always found them to be quite similar to play against since they both ramp up mana, control the board, and then cast a devastating spell. As far as the Shrine deck is concerned, play against it as you would against Tooth & Nail. (So, that was helpful, huh?) The Claws and Stone Rain/Reap and Sow come in from the sideboard.

Against G/W Control

Folks have also requested that I mention this matchup since Pulse of the Fields is very bad for so many decks. Decks playing against G/W Control spend all of their time and resources to drop their opponent’s life from twenty to six only to see all of that wasted as Pulse of the Fields gets cast three times. This is where you need discard. The sideboard for this match should contain the Black Shrine to force discard. Mind Slash would be good also, but the double-Black in the casting cost means that you’d have to have two Swamps in the sideboard (or change the mana base to contain two Swamps maindeck, which I don’t recommend). And how do you deal with Pristine Angel? Well, once their hand is empty, they can’t safely swing with her. I don’t recommend the “Wait and see if you win when they have Pristine Angel on board” strategy. Not healthy and not smart. You could use Barter in Blood, but it has that pesky double-Black in its casting cost. So, what do you do about Pristine Angel? Here’s where I hope my honesty is charming: I dunno.

You could hope to get four or five Shrines out and always point the Honden of Infinite Rage at the Angel if it’s tapped. However, if they attack with the Angel, I’m guessing it’s because they left something in hand to cast at instant speed an untap it. Really, discard seems to be your best option. Empty their hand so that they can’t gain life. Then, send everything you have – the tokens, the Red Shrine damage, Elders – at them.

Against Mono-Red

It seems that anything that has a card with the word “Pulse” in it is going to be bad for this deck. No matter what I did with the Shrine deck, I could not consistently beat mono-Red. Only when I got an early Honden of Cleansing Fire did I ever win. Their ability to throw burn at your head, rather than going through the combat phase like other decks, is what causes problems. I would again bring in the Black Shrine from the sideboard. Mono-Red does not want to play off the top of their deck when you’re gaining life. Still, it’s an uphill battle.

Dee Plague! Revisited

The Phyrexian Plaguelord deck got a lot of interest. One of my favorite ideas was suggested by many people. Essentially, they said, drop all of the artifacts because of Splash Damage ™. Replace those with Ashen-Skin Zubera (nice synergy with the Plaguelord) and add a couple of Soulless Revival. I tried it like this. The deck was markedly better. I was surprised at how many times I was able to Splice a Revival onto a Rend Flesh. Given the extra discard, I was able to drop the Persecutes. This allowed me to raise Echoing Decay to three copies. The new version kicked buttocks and took names as:

Pest-icide, V.2.0

24 Lands

22 Swamp

2 Stalking Stones

20 Creatures

3 Phyrexian Plaguelord

4 Ravenous Rats

4 Abyssal Specter

2 Kiku, Night’s Flower

3 Nekrataal

4 Ashen-Skin Zubera

16 Other Spells

4 Lose Hope

3 Echoing Decay

4 Rend Flesh

3 Consume Spirit

2 Soulless Revival

I’m much happier with this version. It doesn’t hog as much mana making tokens. It doesn’t lose cards to Viridian Shaman. All in all, I’m quite impressed with the suggestions that many of the forum hounds made. I salute you! Keep up the good work. “Hoo-ah!”

A Note on Matchups with Decks From Right Field in General

Some of the forum hounds like to point out that “<The deck discussed in your article> can’t beat <netdeck X>.” In turn, I’d like to point out two things. First, no Standard deck is free of holes. Even when Affinity was able to run Skullclamp, Affinity could still be beat. That’s what sideboards are for: plugging the holes. Second, read that introductory section of the column again. These decks aren’t expected to win a Pro Tour. They’re meant to be competitive in local, weekend tournaments. Given the testing I do on them and the fact that I often play these decks in real tournaments (yes, really!), I can vouch for the fact that they perform pretty darn well considering that I don’t have a cadre of 1800+-rated pros helping me test the decks four days a week.

Sure, they have holes, more than the tier-one netdecks do, for sure. If they didn’t, they’d end up being tier-one netdecks themselves. What I encourage you to do, if you’re so inclined, is to see if you can find ways to improve these.

Oh, and one more thing which really can go for any column on any site. If the column has only been up for a couple of hours, don’t try to convince folks that you’ve actually played the deck. It just won’t fly. Besides, just saying, “This deck isn’t good since it can’t beat <netdeck X>” doesn’t help anyone. If you’re going to be negative, at least be constructively negative. Try saying “This deck can’t beat <netdeck X> because it can’t handle <card Y>. Try it with <card X> instead.” If you haven’t played the deck, don’t be shy. Say, “I haven’t played the deck, but it seems that it can’t deal with <card Y>. Have you tried using <card Z>?”

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Please, give a big StarCityGames.com welcome to Medusa. Just don’t look directly at her.

Chris Romeo