From Right Field – The End of an Era

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My last two columns were about staple rares that I think that budget players should try to pick up. Many people commented on the fact that the lists were “too long” and had “too many cards” on them to be considered “staples.” While I addressed that issue at the beginning of last week’s column, I want to come back to it from a different angle.

{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. The author tries to limit the number of non-land rares as a way to limit the cost of the decks. 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 Sulfurous Springs, Birds of Paradise, or Wrath of God. The decks are also tested by the author, who isn’t very good at playing Magic. 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.}

This is my last column featuring a Time Spiral Block Constructed deck. Thus, the title. Get it? Era? Time? End? The? Of an? Ha! Ha! Ha! Funny I am.

Before I get into the meat of this column, I’d like to take care of some odds and ends.

Odds & Ends

My last two columns were about staple rares that I think that budget players should try to pick up. Many people commented on the fact that the lists were “too long” and had “too many cards” on them to be considered “staples.” While I addressed that issue at the beginning of last week’s column, I want to come back to it from a different angle.

The cards on those lists were just the ones that I, as a writer who likes this game more for the way it gets my creative juices flowing than for the prizes I might win, feel that players should try to get. Should you try to get them all? Sure. Why not? If I had the money, I’d have eight of every Magic card ever printed. (Eight instead of just four in case I needed to loan some out and I wanted to play some of the same cards.) We don’t have the money, though. That’s what this column is about. Presuming that you follow my sage and learned advice and pick up a set of four of each common and uncommon as they come out, the rares are all that you need to add. Those lists are the rares that I feel you should try to add…

If they fit into the colors you like to play.

If they fit into the style of decks you like to play.

If you can afford them.

Quite often, I don’t even get the best rares first, choosing, instead, to get the most cards for my money. Sometimes that pays off handsomely. For example, when the Leylines first came out, I got a set of four of all five of them for a dollar each. Twenty bucks. I could have just bought one of the Guildpact dual lands, instead. My own preaching on this very site would lead a lot of people to think that I had. I didn’t. I went for the most cards I could get for the money. Of course, now that Leyline of the Voids alone are ten dollars each, making a set forty bucks, that turned out to be a pretty good deal. Meanwhile, the dual lands from Guildpact are still about the same price as when they first hit the market.

Some folks suggested that I do what I did last time and make an uber-staples list. I thought about that and then decided against it. We all know what the very best of the best cards are. You don’t need me to tell you that Wrath of God and Birds of Paradise are two awesome cards. So, no uber-staples list. Buy the rares that you think you’ll use, the ones that tickle your fancy. I only suggested those lists as a way to pique your interest in some cards that might not have been looked at too closely before.

I do have some guidelines for you, though. I cannot stress enough – and I will prove it by saying it for about the sixteenth time – how important any of the dual/pain/shock lands are. They allow you to play multiple colors without using up spell slots for mana-fixing spells. (Of course, if Green is the main color of those multiple colors, you’ll probably take up a spell slot with Birds of Paradise. It’s just that good.) Moreover, they fit in any deck that needs those colors. In other words, you get more value out of them because they’re what we’re now going to call “portable.” For example, if you like playing Red and White, all you need to do is get four copies of Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], and you can use them in any Red and White deck you make. It doesn’t matter if it’s a beatdown, control, combo, or hybrid deck, as long as it needs both Red and White mana, you can use that set of Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forges[/author].

This is one reason that some people thought my lists were too long. If a card can only be used in one type of deck, how can it be a staple? One forum poster even went so far as to say that staples for new players should only include mana fixing, period. That meant Birds of Paradise and lands. Not even Wrath of God is a staple in this person’s book because it can’t be used outside of White/X Control decks. (Of course, you can use it in White beatdown decks, too, but that’s beside the point.)

This leads me to my second guideline. I like to get mass removal and reusable removal cards next. Why? Because, if I remove my opponent’s creatures, I can win with a single Ravenous Rats. (Don’t laugh. I once won an actual tournament game just like that. I dropped a Ravenous Rats on turn 2, killed all of his creatures, and ripped apart his hand and deck while the Rats dropped his life total one point at a time.) Therefore, I’d suggest that you concentrate on getting spells like Wrath of God, Hurricane, Damnation, Squall Line, Molten Disaster, and Thunderblade Charge next.

Third, get those creatures and spells that are so powerful or have such great effects that you’ll want to use them over and over and over in many different decks. These are cards like Aeon Chronicler, Spectral Force, Birds of Paradise, Glorious Anthem, and Take Possession.

Finally, you’ve got what I call the Dauber creatures (mostly dumb but pretty powerful), cards that might get your mind racing to create decks around, and other spells and creatures with tantalizing effects on the game. Dauber creatures would include Tarmogoyf and Tarox Bladewing. I know the inclusion of the T-Goyf in that category will start a forum uprising, but let’s be honest, folks. He’s simply a two-mana Green creature. He dies all day long to Terror and does nothing when he’s wearing Pacifism. At least Essence Warden can still gain you life when hit with Temporal Isolation. Remember, though, I do consider the T-Goyf to be a staple. That’s because, while he is a big dumb creature, he’s potentially a really big dumb creature for only two mana. The kind of card that fits into the “gets my mind racing” category includes Stuffy Doll. I must have six or seven decks that use him. I just can’t get away from him. (See, also, Thelon of Havenwood.) The last category would include (for me, anyway) Extirpate and Gauntlet of Power.

I hope that helps. I didn’t want any budget players thinking I was telling them to get four of everything. I wasn’t. I wanted them to look at the list through the two lenses of the kinds of decks they like to play and the colors they gravitate towards. Based on their own budgets, they can prioritize their purchases. I did it this way because the word “budget” is relative. One father sent me an e-mail saying that his budget pretty much included five bucks a week to save for the four sets of commons and uncommons as they come out and not much else. Meanwhile, the very next e-mail I got was from someone who “only” has twenty-five dollars a week to spend. That may seem like a lot to most of us budget players, but he pointed out that such a budget would allow him to get a single four-of set of one of the Ravnica dual/Shock lands each month with not much left for anything else. Like I said, “budget” is relative. Look at the staples list knowing what yours is.

I was contacted last week by the person who goes by the MTGO screen name of Gerrinson. It seems that about eight weeks after one of my articles hit this here site here, he found out that I wrote about the end of our game in this piece called Gumbo Week. Apparently, he was offended by the fact that I wrote “[y]up, if there’s a card that screams ‘casual’ right now, it’s Aeon Chronicler. And Teferi. *sheesh*” He wanted me to know that he doesn’t own a Teferi online and that his deck was not mono-Blue control but rather was a Blue and Green creature and card drawing deck. He also says that he only has one Aeon Chronicler, and it just happened to show up early in our game. Finally, he said that he remembered the exact contents of the deck he was playing, and it never had any countermagic in it. Bounce? Yes. Cancel and Remand? No. That obviously conflicts with what my notes told me, but there it is.

I apologize for making it seem as if Gerrinson owns a Teferi online. I didn’t intend to make it appear that way, and the quoted part of our exchange makes it clear that Aeon Chronicler was the only card whose abilities were resolving at the time. When I wrote about Teferi in the quote above, I was merely making the observation that Aeon Chronicler does not signal “this is a casual deck” any more than Teferi does.

In fact, they do quite the opposite. When opponents see either of those cards, and especially when they see them with some of the other usual suspects, as I did, the opponent simply must brace himself for the possibility of seeing one of the PTQ-winning decks that have employed those cards. If the opponent doesn’t see anything else during the game to make him think that this might not be one of those Tier 1 decks (and I didn‘t), it isn’t the opponent’s fault that, after the game’s over, he feels like he might have played against said Tier 1 deck.

This is not to say that Teferi and Aeon Chronicler can’t be used in casual decks. Heck, any card can be used in a casual deck, even Force of Will. I’m just saying that Aeon Chronicler and Teferi say “tournament-worthy” much louder than they say “casual.” I’d say it’s like comparing a scream to a whisper.

To his friends who thought he was holding out on them, Gerrinson told me that he doesn’t own a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, online. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s what he said. Whether the deck was Blue and Green or not, I cannot confirm. As my notes showed, I saw only Blue cards and no lands that made Green mana. In other words, I saw what would appear to anyone playing against it to be a mono-Blue deck. He said that he never played countermagic in that deck. My notes told me that I saw some. Was he maybe testing with some countermagic that night? He never answered me on that one. Truthfully, none of that matters for the point I was making. What was important was that the exchange we had, and that was copied and pasted verbatim. The exact contents of his deck aside, the conversation that we had and, most important, the timing of his complaint speak for itself.

I was tickled by his e-mail because he completely missed the point of my observation by focusing on details that, frankly, didn‘t matter. He was more worried that I had mischaracterized his deck as not casual than he was about his behavior toward an opponent. Teferi or no, another color with Blue or not, the fact remains that, a player who was using Aeon Chronicler was accusing a player who was using Auratog and Verduran Enchantress of playing a “netdeck.” You know what? If you only own one Aeon Chronicler, you should really time your complaint about your opponent’s Enchantress “netdeck” better than to do it while your Aeon Chronicler is losing its last Time counter and is resolving. It just looks awful.

I stand by what I wrote and the points I made. Those points, in case you didn’t get them, were these. (This might be a good time to reread the exchange we had.) Someone who is playing with Aeon Chronicler, countermagic, and bounce should be careful about getting bothered by an opponent’s “netdeck.” Even if your deck isn’t a copy of a PTQ-winning deck, might it not look like it to the person you’re playing, given the cards that your opponent got to see during your game? How is your opponent supposed to know what’s in your deck besides what he saw? How is your opponent supposed to know that you own only one Aeon Chronicler; only one Akroma, Angel of Wrath; only one Damnation; or only one of any card? If it’s important to you that your opponent know that information, you’d better tell him at the time. You’d also better not get upset if he doesn’t believe you, either. Unlike a real-life tourney, you can’t show your opponent your deck after a game on MTGO. You could send him the decklist, but, again, he might not believe that it was the decklist you actually played.

Moreover, a person playing with Aeon Chronicler should never be so incensed by someone playing with Mesa Enchantress that the person with the Chronicler is the one accusing the Enchantress player of being the person who’s playing with the netdeck. Even if the person with the Chronicler only owns one, at a minimum, it looks like you’re being a bad sport. I mean, you’re complaining about someone else’s “netdeck” while your Aeon Chronicler is resolving! At worst, you could lose control and say something that could get you banned from MTGO and stripped of your account.

I have two suggestions for everyone who plays in the Casual Decks room on MTGO. First, when you realize that your opponent is playing a deck that you don’t want to face, just concede, and move on. Second, if your definition of a “netdeck” is so expansive that it includes a deck that revolves around Mesa Enchantress, Auratog, and Yavimaya Enchantress, your definition of a netdeck is simply too broad and needs to be tightened up. In fact, I would venture to say that it’s so broad that you’re not going to be able to have much fun in the Casual Decks room on Magic Online. Where are you going to play then?

Enchantresses make a “netdeck”? I’m still giggling at that.

Oh, yeah, one last thing. He also said that I wasn’t to use his e-mail unless I used the “ENTIRE” thing. Lemme give all of you Ted Kaczynskis out there a little piece of advice. Never tell a writer of any sort what he or she has to put in or leave out of a piece. You’re just not gonna win that one… unless you’re the editor, that is. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I will post his entire e-mail exactly as he sent it to me in the forum for this column.

Finally, a note about my personal settings while playing on MTGO. I’ve had to do two things in the past few weeks that I’ve never wanted to do on MTGO. Frankly, I never thought I’d have to. I was pretty much forced to, though, so that I could get my testing done. The first thing I had to do was to pare down my buddies list. I’ve “met” a lot of great folks in the virtual world of MTGO, but the IMs were getting in the way of playing. MTGO is a toy, but, for me, it’s also a work tool. So, my buddy list is now down just to people that I know in real life and other Magic writers. Please, don’t be offended if you were once on my buddies list and can no longer IM me. It really was nothing personal. I simply had to cut down on the distractions. And, before you say “You could have just IM-ed me back that you were busy,” even that was often too much of a distraction because of the frequency with which I found myself having to do exactly that.

I’ve also had to make my games private (i.e. no one can pop in and watch the game). There was simply too much noise for me to concentrate on the game and test well. I often found myself too distracted by the stuff being written in the chat window to focus on playing my deck. Honestly, I don’t know how some writers can get in good testing while having eight or ten or fifteen people watching and commenting on their games in the chat window. Obviously, either those writers can focus much better than I can, or people respect them more than they respect me and don’t interrupt their test games with chatter. I am fully aware that it could also be both.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to talk with me online. If you see that I’m waiting for someone to join my game, sit down for some virtual card slinging. More than likely, you’ll be helping me with an article. Just don’t try to tell me that, if I use our game, I have to use the “ENTIRE” game.

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Ten or fifteen years ago, I dated a woman who introduced me to A Prairie Home Companion. If you’ve never listened to this radio show, you’ve cheated yourself. I found out about it after a day of whitewater canoeing, something that this woman also taught me. The day ended, and we had the group’s vehicles packed up and ready to head home at about 6pm on Saturdays. This was exactly when PHC came on our local National Public Radio station. So, as we drove home, we’d listen to Garrison Keillor and company sing, make jokes, and, most important for this column, tell stories. It doesn’t matter if they’re telling us of another adventure of romantically-challenged Guy Noir, Private Eye, the continuing saga of cowboys Dusty and Lefty, or just giving us the latest news from Lake Wobegon, this bunch knows how to make a story come alive. Of course, the head storyteller is PHC creator Garrison Keillor.

I brought this up for two reasons. First, not enough people listen to this show. Second, my final Time Spiral Block Constructed deck features Heartwood Storyteller. As I was working on this deck, every time I saw the Storyteller, I thought of Garrison Keillor. Nothing deeper than that.

And Now, a Public Service Announcement from the American Duct Tape Council

I’ve been putting off making a Storyteller deck because, well, a lot of people had said that it wasn’t any good. If you hear anything enough, you begin to believe it. (Acerbic political commentary omitted.) The more I played my other TBC decks this Summer, though, I kept thinking, “Gosh, it would be great to draw a card now.” Of course, when don’t Magic players think that? I knew, however, that I could indeed draw a card when all of these non-creature spells were going off around me… if only I’d had Heartwood Storyteller out.

I began putting my deck together. The toughest part, of course, was building a deck with as few non-creature spells as possible. After all, you don’t want to spend the effort needed to get the Storyteller out only to have your opponent benefit from it more than you.

If I were to write a book on building decks for new players, I would use what I did with this deck as the only example, following it from beginning to end in incredible detail. Not because the deck is going to win the Pro Tour but because what I went through demonstrates the pitfalls and rescues you go through when designing a deck. I honestly think I might have hit every one of them.

For example, when you decide to build a deck because one particular card tickles your fancy, you have to answer a very important question: will the deck be able to win if that fancy-tickling card doesn’t show up? At first, this deck couldn’t do that. I was so blinded by the possibility of huge card advantage that I populated the rest of the deck with defensive creatures (Thornweald Archer, Wall of Roots) and mana producers (Wall of Roots, Gemhide Sliver) simply hoping that I’d be able to overwhelm my opponent with the weenies that did show up along with the Heartwood Storyteller.

Didn’t happen.

Before I get too far into explaining the card choices for the deck, you’d probably better see the “final” version:

As I was saying, the deck was having a hard time winning. It could hold the ground. It could stay in the game. Inevitably, though, the other guy was simply able to overwhelm me. The first major change I made was to drop Harmonizes for Nacatl War-Prides. The Harmonizes weren’t working too well with the Storyteller. I’d draw three, but my opponent would also draw one. The advantage wasn’t good enough for the investment.

The War-Prides were awesome. Still are. Especially when I can follow them up with Utopia Vow. I get to swing with one more creature than the bad guy can possibly block with, Disenchant and Momentary Blink tricks aside, of course.

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Utopia Vow. Ah, the card that kept me from giving up on the deck. There was another pitfall I didn’t avoid, and that was what I like to call Design Myopia. I was so focused on keeping the Storyteller from being symmetrical that I had completely dropped any non-creatures spells. Makes sense, right? Sure it does… unless that focus hinders you too badly. At first, I didn’t think it did. My biggest problem was dealing with fliers. Big whoop. Thornweald Archer came in. Fantastic. Except against fliers with first strike. You know who I’m talking about, right? Yup. Akroma, Angel of Wrath. Then there are fliers who can come into play and kill the Archer when they do. That’d be Angel of Despair and Bogardan Hellkite, mostly. Can’t block a flier with a guy who’s not there.

I looked at other options, most notably Penumbra Spider. Again, it just didn’t deal with Akroma well enough. That was when I had a little inner dialogue with myself. I debated the card disadvantage of using Utopia Vow with the control it provided. On the one hand, I needed to stop those big fliers. On the other hand, I didn’t want to give card advantage to my opponent. Of course, there wouldn’t be any advantage if I didn’t have a Storyteller out. If I had two out, though, ouch. In the end, the fact that Utopia Vow stopped both Akromas, Shadow guys, and pretty much anyone else won out.

Still, I was losing to swarms of fliers. I don’t know if there’s some sort of secret Teach Magic Writers a Lesson chat room or something, but it seemed as if two of every three decks I was facing threw a ton of 2/X and 3/X fliers at me. Kinda like “Ha ha! We knew you couldn’t handle fliers. So, here we come.”

Paranoid much?

The thing was, that was actually a good thing. It made me look for more answers. Should I bring in Penumbra Spiders along with the Utopia Vows? I tried. It wasn’t really what I wanted. Squall Line? Sometimes, I was too low on life. This deck tends to work by staying in the game long enough to let me put together a great offense and them overwhelm the opponent, like I was trying to do at the beginning. The problem with that is that Squall Line would sometimes sit dead in my hand. When you’re at two life, you don’t cast Squall Line for two unless you can also kill the other guy and get a draw out of it.

This was when I *gasp* looked outside of Green for the first time. Why had I ignored anything other than Green? The Storyteller costs three mana to cast. Two of them have to be Green. That kinda signals “Heavy on the Green, please.” What I realized at that point, however, was that I could easily slip a Plains into the deck thanks to Terramorphic Expanse without hurting the manabase at all. Oh, and, by the by, Gemhide Sliver can make White mana, too. Duh.

Sorry. I’m still wobbly. Sometimes, I think stuff is falling out of my head. Like Magic knowledge.

That led me directly to Stonecloaker. As I’ve said before, this guy is completely delicious. For 2W, I get a surprise flying blocker, a card ripped out of a graveyard, and I can save one of my guys or just pull one back to recast.

Okay, you’re getting ahead of me. I know you see it. I wasn’t quite there yet, though. I was only looking at Riftsweeper at the time. The ability to cast that thing over and over really hurts some decks. In fact, it was great fun to have Blue players slow down their decks once a Riftsweeper threw back their first Riftwing Cloudskate. Instead of Suspending the guy, they gladly waited to be able to cast him. That’s nice. Five mana and no Haste. That’s fine with me.

At about the same time, I started looking at spells to bring back the dead, too. I’ve spoken highly of Evolution Charm before, and I still like it. Heck, it would even let me get the Plains I needed for the Stonecloaker. It was a spell, though, and it didn’t play well with Heartwood Storyteller. It was one thing to use Utopia Vow, it was another to use the Charm.

Now, I’m caught up with you.

This was when I finally remembered Deadwood Treefolk. I’d like to say that someone gave me advice on using the card or I saw it someone’s deck. My route to the card was more circuitous than that. You see, my brother had picked me up one day to hang with him since I was going stir crazy being home alone. “Hey, I got the DVD of the second season of Deadwood,” he told me.

“Yeah, I’d love to be able to watch it, but I can’t. This balance thing in my head still won’t let me watch stuff with action without getting worse and making me nauseated.”

“Oh. Right. Sorry. Well, we can watch HGTV…”

Honestly, that’s what made me remember Deadwood Treefolk. I could get a pretty beefy guy and bring back a creature when he hit. I’d also get one when his final Time counter went away. That’s when I relearned another lesson, often abbreviated R.T.F.C.

“Read the Friggin’ Card!”

Deadwood Treefolk wasn’t like Chronozoa or Lost Auramancers. You didn’t just get the leaves-play bonus if he left play with no Time counters on him or when he went to the graveyard. You get to bring back a creature from your ‘yard to your hand whenever he leaves play.

Like when Stonecloaker plucks him off of the playing field.

Now, I haven’t developed a ton of Magic theory. I haven’t invented much Magic slang. I have no idea how to calculate the advantage you get when you drop a Deadwood Treefolk, bring back a Stonecloaker from the dead, cast the ‘Cloaker, ripping a card from your opponent’s graveyard and bringing the Treefolk back to your hand, which gets you a Riftsweeper back from the dead, allowing you to cast the ‘Sweeper and throw a Reality Strobe back into your opponent’s deck, but I think it’s a lot.

At that stage, the deck was almost to the point where I felt good writing about it. Almost. I was still having problems with a few creatures that needed to be killed outright, creatures that weren’t stopped by Utopia Vow or Stonecloaker because the opponent wasn’t planning on attacking with them anyway. These were creatures like Deathspore Thallid and Magus of the Scroll. After my experience with Stonecloaker, I didn’t even look at non-creature spells. In fact, I already had in mind the guy I was going to use: Firemaw Kavu. Like the Deadwood Treefolk, he hit guys both coming and going, and Stonecloaker could trigger the “going” half.

After that, the final piece was finding the right two-mana creature, one that could play defense but didn’t stink on offense. In the world of “I can’t afford Tarmogoyf,” that road leads to Mire Boa. The Boa regenerates. So, it’s great on defense. It has Swampwalk. So, it can often run right past the other guy’s defenses. Finally, it’s a great piece of art.

The sideboard should speak for itself. The Thornweald Archers are for the decks that pack a few more smaller and/or non-first-striking fliers. Penumbra Spider is also for fliers but comes in against decks running mass removal, too. Krosan Grip comes in when you face Artifacts and Enchantments that might bother you.

The final piece of the puzzle was the Subterranean Shambler. I’d been having trouble with Goblin and Saproling weenie hordes as well as a few other non-token weenies like some of White’s creatures and the aforementioned Deathspore Thallid. I was almost set to go with Sulfurous Blast when I was reminded of Prodigal Pyromancer. That was a great suggestion, but, again, I needed help against hordes, not just one guy per turn. The suggestion of the Pyromancer, though, focused me back onto creatures. That was when I remembered the Subterranean Shambler. In it came.

If I Had a Million Dollars…

Obviously, with a need for both White and Red mana along with the Green, one of the first places you could spend money on this deck would be with Horizon Canopy and Grove of the Burnwillows. Of course, there’s also Tarmogoyf where Mire Boa now sits. To keep the flavor of the deck, those are really the only things I’d do differently if money weren’t a problem.

Now, I have a confession. Part of the reason that I’ve never liked doing this “What if money weren’t an issue” section is that, if money weren’t an issue, well, you wouldn’t need me. You could just use a proven deck. For example, if you had the money and cards, would you play my G/w/r Garrison Keillor deck at a Time Spiral Block tourney, or would you just play Tyler Kreitz’s fourth-place deck from the PTQ in Philadelphia? I know my answer. What’s yours? (There’s not a “wrong” or “right” answer here, by the way.)

That’s it for Time Spiral Block Constructed decks From Right Field. I know that the season’s not over, but I want to get into Standard with Tenth Edition. X is looking awesome from where I sit. As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Thanks for asking. No change, and no diagnosis yet. Funny story, though. I got referred by the ENT to a neurologist. The ENT said that they had done everything they could, and it obviously wasn’t an ear issue. So, it has to be my brain. This is the same ENT that did the operation seven years ago to give me a middle ear prosthetic so that I could hear out of my right ear again.

Off he sent me to the neurologist for an MRI. Just before I went into the MRI, the neurologist asked “Oh, by the way, does your implant have any metal in it?” Well, I dunno, but I figure the surgeon who actually put the thing into my head wouldn’t send me for an MRI if it did. The neurologist checked just in case. Yup. Metal. If they’d put me into the MRI, the magnetic field would have ripped it right out of my head. Best case scenario there: it comes straight out of my ear canal, only causing me great pain and bleeding as it rips through my eardrum. Worst case scenario: it could have been pulled out of my head from the other direction, going straight through my brain and killing me. Obviously, they need to find another test they can do to look for tumors and signs of mini- and micro-strokes. Still waiting. *sigh*

Chris Romeo