From Right Field: The Aftermath

You probably didn’t win your Region. Since I like to state the obvious, you probably aren’t a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, either. Interestingly, there are about the same number of U.S. Regionals champions as S.I. swimsuit models. Go figure. Anyway, you didn’t win your Region. You most likely didn’t finish in the money. Heck, you may not have had a winning record. Yet, you were sure that you had a good chance of at least winning some prizes or else you probably wouldn’t have wasted the time and energy to participate. So, what happened?

This is the time of year (one of them, anyway) called”sweeps” when the television networks pull out all of the stops and create made-for-TV movies to boost ratings. They almost always include one or two doomsday-scenario flicks. This year, NBC will be running (or already ran, by the time you read this) 10.5 about”the big one” (meaning an earthquake, you dirty girl) that shears California off of the West Coast. So, I figured I’d try to boost my own ratings with a title like The Aftermath. Can’t hurt, can it?

(SCENE: INTERIOR – Darkened hotel room, Main Street, U.S.A., Sunday, May 2nd, 2004. Outside, the sky is blue, the sun rides high, and the birds chirp their perky songs. The denizens of the hotel room wish the damn things would just shut the flock up.

SCRUB #1 is a tall, lanky guy with a three-day beard and a four-day stench. His dark hair peeks out from under a green mesh trucker’s cap that reads COME ON, TOPDECK!

SCRUB #2 is a rather large individual who clearly can’t grow any facial hair. His faded Batman T-shirt (from the 1989 Tim Burton – Michael Keaton – Jack Nicholson movie) can’t completely cover his ample belly.

SCRUB #3 is a guy of about twenty-two with dishwater blond hair. He’s of average height and build and looks normal, except for his darting eyes.)


SCRUB #1: I can’t believe that I went 0-3, drop with that Ravager Affinity deck. That was supposed to be the best aggro deck out there. At least I got a Glimmervoid in my draft.

SCRUB #2: What happened, dude? Did you have to mulligan a lot or make mistakes or what?

SCRUB #1: No, I didn’t have to mulligan at all. I got killer draws. I don’t think I made any mistakes, but my record kinda says otherwise, doesn’t it?

SCRUB #3: What decks did you face? Was it that friggin’ Centaur Glade deck? I hate Centaur Glade.

SCRUB #1: No, I faced two Elf-Clamp decks and then Goblins in round three. The Goblin guy had just been beat by Elf-Clamp, too. Who the hell plays Elf-Clamp?

SCRUB #3 (left eye twitching): I hate Elves. I woulda been 3-1 with my deck if it hadn’t been for Elves. Instead, I went 1-3. I hate Elves.

SCRUB #2: I know. I mean, I was all one-and-oh, and I draw this guy playing Black-White Clerics. I figure my Ravager deck is gonna just ruin him. You know what he does? In both games, he plays a first-turn Leonin Elder and a second-turn Disciple of the Vault! I can’t beat that. I’m killin’ myself with my own abilities. Meanwhile, he’s gainin’ mad life.

(Suddenly, a huge meteor hits the hotel and all life within eighteen miles is wiped out. Except for Scrub #2. He is left to live a lonely, desolate existence devoid of meaning. In other words, not much changes for him.)


This scene will be familiar to you (well, most of it) since you probably didn’t win your Region, either. Since I like to state the obvious, you probably aren’t a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, either. Interestingly, there are about the same number of U.S. Regionals champions as S.I. swimsuit models. Go figure. Anyway, you didn’t win your Region. You most likely didn’t finish in the money. Heck, you may not have had a winning record. Yet, you were sure that you had a good chance of at least winning some prizes or else you probably wouldn’t have wasted the time and energy to participate.

So, what happened?

Sometimes, like the poor saps in the scene above, it’s just a matter of match-ups. Somewhere last weekend, someone with the perfect Ravager Affinity deck, the one that had one fewer land or that super-secret main deck card, lost to one Elf deck after another. I mean, Elves are darn good right now. Even Damping Matrix doesn’t completely shut them down because of the Viridian Shaman. Cast her. Blow up the Matrix. Start Clamping Insect tokens. Win.

What makes Elves so powerful right now? Consistency. Boring, strong, efficient consistency. Its consistency is the result of three factors. First, it’s mono-colored. As any Goblin player can tell you, love means never having to say,”I’m color hosed!” Second, it sits on the small end of the mana curve. When the most expensive thing you could possibly cast costs 2G, you won’t often be sitting around waiting for that sixth land. Third, they draw cards like scantily clad women at NASCAR races draw stares. The deck I saw just a few days before Regionals was one that got Daniel Sanchez second place at a Regionals in Chile. It looked like this:

37 Creatures

4 Birchlore Rangers

4 Bloodline Shaman

2 Caller of the Claw

4 Timberwatch Elf

4 Viridian Shaman

3 Viridian Zealot

4 Wellwisher

4 Wirewood Herald

4 Wirewood Hivemaster

4 Wirewood Symbiote

4 Other Spells

4 Skullclamp

19 Land

15 Forest

4 Wirewood Lodge

15 Sideboard

2 Caller of the Claw

4 Naturalize

4 Oxidize

3 Pulse of the Tangle

2 Stabilizer

We here at From Right Field thoroughly enjoy championship-caliber decks that have only five main deck rares and a total of twelve when the sideboard is included. Kudos to Daniel!

Before I look at the deck itself, I will ponder aloud and write down my thoughts.

How in the name of Laura Prepon does this thing beat Goblins? I like Elves a lot. I was playing them before Mirrodin came out and before Darksteel made them ludicrous with Skullclamp. The only way I could ever beat Goblins was by bringing in Steely Resolve from the sideboard and naming”Elves.” Unless I did that, Goblins just picked off everything I could put out or at least the important stuff like the Hivemaster, Timberwatch, and the Wellwisher. Maybe it’s just that Goblins is no longer running enough early removal. Still, I wonder if Daniel faced any Goblins all day long.

Elfin Magic Makes it Tasty!

The biggest reason, bar none, that this deck can run rampant over the current”tier one” decks can be summed up in three words: lack of removal.

Okay, that’s a bit overly dramatic. Goblins indeed runs a bit of creature destruction, but it’s really quite slow when you think about it. Other than a potential turn 3 Goblin Sharpshooter with haste, there isn’t a whole lot that can hurt Elves before it gets several critters and a Wellwisher on board.

On the other hand, like I said, Goblins have always given me fits when I played Elves. So, I’m sure I’m wrong about this. Pretend those last two paragraphs never happened.

Look at almost any build of Affinity, with Ravager Affinity being the clear-cut favorite. The removal those decks pack, if any, consists of four Shrapnel Blasts. (Some used to pack Pyrite Spellbomb, but it seems as if those days are gone.) Don’t get me wrong. The Blasts are (checks thesaurus) superior, excellent, first-rate, and sunny. (My thesaurus is way too comprehensive.) The problem is that there’s this little rule called 100.2, which is probably also a classic rock station near you with the nickname KISS 100-FM and the motto”the rock of your misspent youth.”

Anyway, Rule 100.2 states that a Constructed deck and sideboard can contain”no more than four of any card with a particular English name other than basic land cards.” That means that Affinity decks can only run four Shrapnel Blasts. That’s just not enough against Elf-Clamp when there are so many creatures that a Ravager Affinity deck needs to rid itself of. Think about how hard life gets for a Ravager Affinity player when one lowly Wellwisher gets active with a couple of friends and a Wirewood Lodge. All of a sudden, all of that Disciple of the Vault anti-lovin’ is negated. The R/A player finds that sacrificing resources for loss of life is not a deal at all. Meanwhile, the Elf-Clamp player has a nice, steady stream of Insect tokens to use as blockers.

Then again, when there is enough removal, a la Goblins, you’d be surprised how many people use it incorrectly. Quick quiz:

Question #1 (worth 100 points): Your opponent has a Caller of the Claw and a Wirewood Symbiote on the board. You cycle a Gempalm Incinerator that can deal two points of damage. Where do you point the thing?

A) The Caller of the Claw

B) The Wirewood Symbiote

C) Your opponent

D) Daisy Fuentes

First off, (C) is incorrect because the Gempalm’s ability can’t be pointed at players. Oh, that would be so wrong in so many ways that I can’t even come up with a metaphor or simile strong enough. So, I’ll just put in a gratuitous cheesecake link to take your mind off the fact that I’m stumped. See? It worked. Answer (D) is also wrong until they print Magic cards of lovely Latin ladies, like:

Jennifer Lopez

Creature – Latin Booty Legend



Protection from White

Attacking doesn’t cause J-Lo to tap.

“‘Tap what?'” she asked, as if she didn’t know.

That leaves us with either (A) or (B). Do you know how many people try to kill the Caller in this case? It’s like six or seven. Still, that’s six or seven too many. The Symbiote can save the Caller no matter which one is targeted. In addition, the Symbiote can cause all sorts of problems later on. In other words, the correct answer is (B).

The Part Where the Old Man Drifts Off Into a Story . . .

A few years ago, when I started playing this game, I would play Red decks. I’d throw burn at anything that I saw. Sadly, that usually meant that during the mid-game, my opponent would get out a fairly large creature for which I had no removal. I had wasted it all on Grizzly Bears and Wild Dogs like an eight-year-old blows all of his allowance money on bubble gum. (Yes! The simile machine is back online! Woo-hoo!) So, I learned to hold my burn. (“It hurrrrts! It hurrrts!”)

Then, one day, I watched a guy named Steve Hall playing Red against a Green deck. He had gone first and dropped a Mountain. His opponent dropped a Forest and a Birds of Paradise. At the end of his opponent’s turn, Steve Shocked or Lightning Bolted or otherwise removed the Birds from play. I asked him why he had done that when I had just learned that you shouldn’t kill the first, small creature you see. He pointed out that the Birds can help you do all sorts of degenerate things like drop a Blastoderm on turn 3 followed by Armageddon on turn 4.”See a Birds. Kill a Birds,” he told me in grammatically-correct but bizarre-sounding English.

Since that day, I’ve seen a lot of 1/1 creatures for one mana that give decks fits and that must be dispatched faster than Carmen Elektra can take off her top. Mother of Runes. Ramosian Sergeant. Llanowar Elves. More recently, Grim Lavamancer and Basking Rootwalla. Currently, we have the ubiquitous Birds of Paradise, Disciple of the Vault, and Wirewood Symbiote.

Like how I pulled that all back together there? I’m tighter than, well, this.

Point being: kill the Symbiote ASAP.

You know who else needs to die in the Elf deck? The Wirewood Hivemaster. He’s the one crankin’ out the 1/1 Insect tokens that get ‘Clamped up, die, draw cards, of which some are Elves, which get cast to make more tokens. And on and on and on like a bad dream featuring Courtney Love and Tonya Harding. (Thankfully, no cheesecake links for either.)

All That, and Skullclamp, Too!

Skullclamp just made things exponentially better for Elves. Yes, Goblins love drawing cards. So do Elves. Merfolk would, too, if there were any left. Daniel Sanchez proved that Elves are indeed viable as a championship-caliber deck. Which is why I’ll be playing this deck (with modifications to the sideboard) this weekend. I mean, last weekend. I mean, on May 1st, while you’re playing in Regionals.

As you should know by now, if you read this column regularly – and if you don’t, well, may your wife act like Paris Hilton and look like Phyllis Diller – I won’t be attending Regionals because of upcoming nuptials. Rather, by the time you read this, I will have not attended Regionals (since I’m writing it the week before, but it will show up the week after). So, I am going to play Elf-Clamp this Saturday – I mean, last Saturday – at our local tournament. Since I have to have this in before that, I’ll let you know in the forum how it did.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Did you play Glade to Meet You?

Chris Romeo

[email protected]

P.S. Completely unnecessary yet thoroughly enjoyable Heather Graham picture.