Many people – well, a few, anyway – noticed that I didn’t do a piece last week. The reason is simple. I was still recovering from my trip to Grand Prix New Orleans!
You see, the StarCity folks found out that I had gone to Tulane and hadn’t been back in fifteen years… So they thought that I’d like the trip. Plus, they wanted me to be a tour guide of sorts. How could I say no?
As often happens, the trip down to New Orleans was one of the best parts of the thing. I had to hitchhike to Virginia to meet up with the StarCity gang. If you’ve never hitchhiked, I highly recommend it. You meet very interesting people and get to hear all sorts of neat stories. And at least once, you will get picked up by a lonely, sexy divorcee. Of course, I can’t guarantee this will happen to you, but it happens to me all the time.
This time, my benefactress was a lovely redhead named Rachelle. Apparently, in a fit of cliché-riddled ordinariness, her husband left her for his secretary. Unless his secretary was Catherine Zeta-Jones, the guy’s an idiot. Anyway, Rachelle only took advantage of me a couple of times. I felt that I had to give in to her, since she was doing me such a huge favor. I mean, it was cold standing on the side of the road like that.
Once I got to StarCity HQ, I found that we were only waiting on Mr. The Ferrett – who, it seems, was having trouble getting clearance to land his plane. Seems that he forgot to file a flight plan with the Feds. While they were trying to decide if he was a terrorist or not, his fuel was getting low. When they finally allowed him to come down, his engine was dead. In an incredible display of aeronautic genius, he somehow landed the plane with no power. It was a beautiful thing.
Things just got better from there. Pete, the owner of StarCity, chartered us one of the first-ever flights on Hooters Airways. Yes, the flight attendants are all attired in the traditional Hooters getup of a T-shirt that’s too small and those really cute little, orange running shorts.
As we expected, Dave Meddish went completely crazy. That always happens with quiet ones. Luckily, the Hooters girls found his smooth pate quite attractive. They were enjoying themselves as much as we were. They even indulged themselves in licking Grey Goose vodka off of his head. (They offered me that pleasure, but I politely declined.)
Oh, yeah, Blisterguy said he was going to be there, but he never showed up.
Of course, a couple of people were trying to be serious. Rob Dougherty and Nick Eisel were trying to playtest some Extended monstrosities. Sheldon Menery, meanwhile, kept telling them what they were doing wrong. Rob kept trying to use Astral Slide to keep Nick’s Force of Nature out of the game during Rob’s turn.”If you want it to work that way, you have to say ‘during your end phase.’ That way it won’t hit the ‘at the end of the turn’ trigger again until the end of your turn.”
Once the plane touched down and we all passed our sobriety tests and got our pants back on, I pointed us directly at Sin City, The French Quarter. When I crossed over Canal into my old haunt, the wonderful scent of urine running in the gutters filled my nostrils and reminded of good times as a reckless youth. I began pointing out the historical spots.”Over there? That’s where I threw up in public for the first time. It was August of 1984. And over there is where I was first hit on by a drag queen. Guys, always check for Adam’s apples. And that’s where I first saw a woman taking off her top to get 35 cents worth of Mardi Gras beads. Man, I miss college.”
Then, it struck me: I didn’t actually get to go to Grand Prix New Orleans! It was all a fever-induced dream. The flu had grabbed ahold of my cerebrum and made me think and do silly things for a week. I made crank calls to pizza delivery places.”Do your feet smell? Does your nose run? Man, you were built upside down!” I sent an e-mail to Jens Thoren, asking if he had seen Hugh Jorgen. My God, I was so out of it that I let my Mother set me up on a date with the daughter of one of her friends! Like I said, I was gone. I was doped up on Robitussin and chicken noodle soup like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet.
Seriously, this will tell you how my mind was working at the time: I even decided that I knew what would make my mono-white Birds deck actually work. Honestly, that’s how sick I was. But, I looked back at my past failures with the deck. I had to assume that States was an anomaly. This deck never gets mana screwed. I mean, two lands, and it runs fine. Four means it’s just humming.
What I realized that I needed was mass removal like Wrath of God. The deck had really only been losing when it got overrun big a rush of bigger creatures (meaning R/G Anger decks with hasty Arrogant Wurms, Phantom Centaurs, and Fledgling Dragon). The problem was that I had been worried that adding another four-casting-cost spell (along with the Battle Screeches) would be too much for a twenty-one-land deck. It wasn’t .
The other thing I wanted to work in was a bit of card drawing. But I didn’t want to lose slots for card drawing spells (although I still believe that Keep Watch can be a huge splash in any deck based on creature rush). Luckily, I got to try Seaside Haven. What a great land! It can draw a card for the cost UW and a Bird that’s dying anyway. And that pumps up the Soulcatcher’s Aerie, too. Boo-yah!
So, I packed up my Birds for one final hurrah (at least before Keeper of the Nine Gales is legal!). (Don’t bother to click the link – I’m just putting it in as a placeholder, folks – The Ferrett) Since it was the last time I planned on playing it (unless it won the tourney), I decided to call it:
For The Birds: The Final Chapter
CREATURES – 22
4 Suntail Hawk
4 Skyshroud Falcon
3 Mystic Familiar
3 Gustcloak Harrier
4 Battle Screech
OTHER SPELLS 17
4 Soulcatcher’s Aerie
4 Kirtar’s Desire
3 Wrath of God
4 Secluded Steppe
3 Adarkar Wastes
3 Flooded Strand
2 Seaside Haven
The deck ran very smoothly. I never had the mana problems that plagued me at States, even though I was running fetch lands which, ultimately, thin the deck of lands. Unfortunately, it only went 2 – 2 on this day.
Match one was against my friend Charles who was running a mono-red Wildfire deck. That thing can be murder for any deck, especially one that runs as few lands as this one does. So, as you would expect, my deck ran perfectly. I kept a few lands in my hand at all times. Whenever Rorix hit the table, I had Reprisal or Kirtar’s Desire in my hand. When Wildfire went off, I was always holding a land and a Suntail Hawk. Thanks to the synergy between the Wildfire and the Soulcatcher’s Aerie, the Suntail Hawk often came out as a 7/7 or 8/8. Ugh.
Hey, Let’s Talk About Kirtar’s Desire!
Why did I fall so madly in love with this card? Because I quickly realized that the drawback (the enchanted creature can block unless I have Threshold) is insignificant. All of the Birds in this deck fly. Most creatures can’t block them anyway. So, in essence, Kirtar’s Desire becomes a one-mana Pacifism. That may not seem very important, but it also functions as a type of pre-sideboard against any Upheaval-backed Psychatogs. Also, given that this is a weenie deck with only 21 lands, the ability to play Kirtar’s Desire and a creature on the same turn (rather than having to choose between playing a creature or Pacifism) can be huge.
Then I played against David Dyer, who had decided he liked how the Astral Slide deck that I had played (with Pardic Arsonist and Anarchist) ran. And he mowed me down. I knew this would be a bad matchup. If only I could get a Spirit Link on someone ling enough to gain some life…. Alas, that never happened.
Round three was Shannon and his RG Anger deck. I have to say that given my success with the RG Anger deck plus what I’ve seen others do with it, I like this as The Deck to Beat in Standard right now. If you throw Living Wish into it, you have a toolbox that can beat anything.
Living Wish Reminder:
Living Wish (as with all of the Judgement wishes) does not target. So, your opponent needs to decide if they are going to counter the spell before you ever go get anything. In other words, don’t say”I’m going to Wish for a Genesis” – just say,”I’m casting Living Wish,” and see what they do. If the Wish doesn’t get countered, get your card and reveal it.
I had to win round four to have a chance at the Top 8 – albeit a slim one. So of course, I get paired up with my brother. Jonathan is in the Navy stationed on the USS Kitty Hawk in Japan. He has probably played ten games of Magic in the last two years. In fact, when we were playing a casual game a few days after he got back in town for Christmas, he had to ask,”We draw seven cards, right?”
For this tourney, he ended up bringing a very rough, mono-black beatdown deck. It was a Christmas present from our friend Jason. Since Jonathan hadn’t seen any of the cards from the last year or so, Jason threw together as many different Zombies as he could, along with Visara, Dirge of Dread, and Aphetto Dredging. It looked like a purely casual deck. And, yet my brother won the first tournament match he played with it. Boo-yah!
As with Charles in round one, though, the Birds deck worked perfectly. It worked so perfectly that I even saw sideboard cards in game two. If you don’t know my history, I have a knack for choosing the perfect sideboard cards (like Morningtide against mono-black control to prevent Haunting Echoes from hurting me) and then never seeing them in game two. I usually don’t get to game three in these cases.
So, what happens against my brother in game two? I get a turn 1 Suntail Hawk, a turn 2 Circle of Protection: Black, and a turn 3 Stern Judge (the guy who taps to make everyone lose life equal to the number of Swamps they control). Meanwhile, he can’t find any creature destruction for my Judge. Why can’t I have these kinds of games against other people? It’s never a stranger or some random new guy who shows up. It’s always people I see all the time. Yuck.
This all leads me to one of two conclusions: I’m either a total scrub and the deck is actually pretty good, or I’m pretty good and can make a mediocre deck win 50% of the time. I’m thinking option number one.
What Is Your Major Malfunction, Private?!?
At the last tournament, a kid asked me,”If you know the rules and the cards so well, why do you suck so badly?” It sounds harsh, but he’s right in a way. Why don’t I just play Upheaval–Zombie Infestation, popularly known as UZI? It’s pretty fun. It’s cheap. And I have the cards. Why oh why do I insist on playing all of these new rogue decks that spring from my fevered mind?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve posited my own theories over the past couple of years, not just for my own sake but also for the sake of the others who do what I do. These theories have included:
- I am a masochist. (Possibly. Reference my history with women who beat me up and then leave me.)
- I have a fear of success. (Says the guy with the engineering degree from Tulane and the law degree who writes about Magic.)
- I love the underdog. (Go Red Sox!)
Whatever it is, I think white is extremely underappreciated. Look at some of the white cards that no one uses. We have:
Reborn Hero: A 2/2 soldier that doesn’t tap to attack and can come back directly from the graveyard to play for WW if you have Threshold. Tell me that’s not some synergy with Worship.
Vengeful Dreams: What happened to using the Dreams? I think that this is the best one. A scalable Exile without that silly non-white drawback. And it can act as a Madness enabler. (Tireless Tribe? Puh-lease!)
Reprisal: Which creatures are the biggest problems? The biggest ones, of course. This kills them dead, at instant speed, with no chance to regenerate. Gee, that sounds good to me.
Mobilization: I know that Mr. [author name="The Ferrett"]The Ferrett[/author] doesn’t like this card. But I think people have been looking at it from the wrong angle. Forget blue/white control. Think about pure Soldier beatdown. Throw in Shared Triumph or Divine Sacrament or both), a ton of Soldiers (like Reborn Hero and Longbow Archer), and beat well.
Shelter: I know I’ve harped on this because of the beautiful woman on it. But it is a great card. Aether Burst what? Fiery Temper who? And you draw a card to boot!
Mystic Crusader: It has pro-red and pro-black built into a 2/1 body for 1WW. At Threshold, it’s a 3/2 that flies with pro-red and pro-black. Wow.
Lieutenant Kirtar: A 2/2 flying Vengeful Dreams on a stick. Don’t forget that you don’t have to tap him to use his ability. So he can attack and still pop off a Wild Mongrel (if your opponent is silly enough to attack). He’s also a Soldier.
The list goes on and on. My point is this: Somewhere out there, there’s a white weenie deck waiting to take us by storm. But no one seems to be working on it. And I can’t do it alone. So, it doesn’t seem to be getting done.
Won’t you help me create the new white weenie crusher? Please?
As usual, you’ve been a great audience. And now, on a note that’s more somber than my usual closings, a brief moment of silence for Maurice Gibb. The Bee Gees were the soundtrack of my adolescence. I boogied the night away to their music when I was in my early teens. I’ll miss him. Truly. Go put on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I know you have it.