From Right Field: The Official Bad Player’s Fifth Dawn Review

You could get a fast, cheap column out of doing nothing but cataloging the bad predictions from previous set review. I was even going to do that, but Ted said”No way, Josephine.” Because of the time off for my wedding and honeymoon, he wanted me to do some”real writing” not just”copying and pasting” and”quoting other writers” like”you’re doing right now.” So, I promised I’d do something. Without further ado, then, I present… something.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks trying to write a decent article, and it’s been as tough as trying to get Jennifer Lopez to say”seriously” after”’til death do us part.” Why? Because almost nothing in Fifth Dawn inspires me, and I’m supposed to write about new Magic stuff.

Ah, Fifth Dawn. A new set. You can set your watch by it. Every four months *tick*, there’s a new set of Magic cards *tock*. With each of these sets *tick* comes eleventy-million set reviews *tock*. I try to stay away from them because, as my man Crash Davis would say, set reviews”are boring. Besides that, they’re fascist.” [You should see how many set reviews Mussolini wrote. – Knut, historian] Also, reviews – anyone’s reviews – are classically wrong. Some of my favorites from years past include:

• The ones that called the Rebel search mechanic slow and unwieldy. It was never going to amount to anything.

• The ones that said Fires of Yavimaya was just a bad version of Fervor.

• The ones that said that Akroma, Angel of Wrath was so expensive that it would never get played outside of casual formats at kitchen tables.

• The ones that predicted an upwelling of Upwelling decks so powerful that the thing needed to be banned before it was released. (Possibly, this was just from judges who didn’t want to referee arguments about how much mana of what color was in each mana pool.”No, I had twelve Green mana. See? I was using sour apple Jelly Bellies to keep count. One fell on the floor, and he ate the other one!”)

You could get a fast, cheap column out of doing nothing but cataloging the bad predictions from these things. I was even going to do that, but Ted said”No way, Josephine.” Because of the time off for my wedding and honeymoon, he wanted me to do some”real writing” not just”copying and pasting” and”quoting other writers” like”you’re doing right now.” [I swear Romeo attributes more fake quotes to me than Osyp does. – Knut, speaking for himself… maybe]

So, I promised I’d do something. Without further ado, then, I present the Fifth Dawn Review as seen From Right Field. I will be using the official spoiler from MagictheGathering.com found here. I’m not going to copy the names, rules text, artist name, flavor text, et al, because it’s too much for Ted to edit. I’ll give you what you need, though. (I say that to all the girls. Or I used to, anyway.) If you right click on that link, you can open it in a new window and follow along that way. You can even save it to your computer if you want. These magic boxes are neat, huh?


Anodet Lurker -“Brilliant!”

Arachnoid -“Hated it.”

Arcbound Wanderer -“It stinks!”

Avarice Totem -“Doh!”

Baton of Courage -“Sleep is where I’m a Viking!”

Battered Golem -“Nonviolence never solved anything.”

Blasting Station -“If reading was important, they’d teach it in public school.”

Chimeric Coils -“Only I didn’t say ‘fudge.'”

Clearwater Goblet -“I shore would like some more a them fried potaters, uh-huh.”

Clock of Omens -“Spoooooooon!”

Composite Golem -“Do the world a favor, and have your tubes tied before you reproduce.”

Conjurer’s Bauble -“You were always jealous of that lamp!”

Cranial Plating -“What in the wide, wide world a sports is a-goin’ on here?”

Crucible of Worlds -“They said you wuz hung.”

Door to Nothingness -“And they wuz right.”

Doubling Cube -“Could this be any more boring?”

Oh, yeah, now I remember the real reason that I don’t do these things. They bore me to tears. This set is especially good for that. Man, I have never seen so many blah cards in one set. Well, since Legions, anyway. Or maybe Urza’s Legacy.

It’s not that the set is bad. I just don’t see many cards that make me want to build entirely new decks around them. I see a lot of nice cards. I see a lot of cards that can fit into other decks that I already have. I see a lot of cards that help make infinite – I’m sorry – unbounded loop and/or mana combos. I just don’t see anything that makes me want to build a new deck.

I know that that sounds a little weird coming from me. I’m the guy who likes to use the unloved and unwanted cards. I am the King Moonracer of The Island of Misfit Cards. Some people have looked at the Fifth Dawn cards, with all of those possibilities for wacky combos, and said,”Hey, Romeo, you must just love 5D.” Not really. I don’t like combo decks. I don’t like decks that essentially play Solitaire. For me, Magic is a game of interaction, of playing with and against your friends or people that may someday become your friends. Combo decks are things of solitude.”I don’t care what you do on your turn,” said the combo player.”Just tell me when you’re done so that I can start my turn and do a whole bunch of stuff while ignoring you.” That’s why I never tried to make a Brain Freeze deck. You can see why there’s almost nothing in Fifth Dawn that inspires me to make a new deck.

The only card that’s even remotely inspiring to me is a little uncommon called . . . Relentless Rats.

{Given that this is an uncommon and that people will be trying to get more than four of them, I wonder how the prices are going to be affected? I also wonder if this was double printed. Last night, we had a Mirrodin/Fifth Dawn/Fifth Dawn faux draft. In sixteen 5D packs, we had six Relentless Rats.}

Unlike most folks, I don’t think the best way to make this deck is to throw thirty-six Relentless Rats in with twenty-four Swamps and be done with it. You still need removal. You still need to get your creatures through. You still have to deal with Disciple of the Vault. You still have to deal with Goblin Sharpshooter. That brings me to two other little gems in the Black portion of the set: Devour in Shadow and Lose Hope.

Those are as yummy as Monica Bellucci.

Ahem. I figure a Relentless Rats deck will look something like this:

Endless Vermin

22 Lands

22 Swamp

22 Creatures

22 Relentless Rats

16 Other Spells

2 Reaping the Graves

4 Lose Hope

2 Consume Spirit

4 Devour in Shadow

4 Dark Banishing

That will be the easiest decklist I ever type.

Still, I was bored. A Relentless Rats deck pretty much suggests itself, like OpalescenceReplenish or Goblins. The only questions are (a) how many Rats you want and (b) whether to focus on discard or creature removal. Not very inspiring.

Sadly, while the Endless Vermin deck looks fun, I still haven’t had a chance to test it. Magic has not been a priority over the past couple of weeks. First, there was the wedding. It went wonderfully, by the way. Thanks for asking. I have pictures to show you if you want to come over some time. Anyway, I didn’t mess up. I said the right name.

The honeymoon was great, too. Again, I didn’t mess up. I said the right name.

Last week, after the honeymoon, there was finally time for Magic playing. However, it was almost all of the casual variety. We did the faux draft that I mentioned above in which I took Blue and White so that the folks who rarely play got to play with the good cards. Yeah, I’m so thoughtful. (It was”faux” because all of the packs belonged to A Guy Named Joe who did very well at the 5D prerelease tournament. Since they were all his, he kept them when it was over. Thus, it was a draft, but not a real one.) We also played some Fatty games, where the decks have to be over 250 cards and are supposed to follow the five-color guidelines but never do.

Standard Magic was on the back burner for a few weeks. Unfortunately, when I decided to come back to it, it turned out that the local video store where we usually play Magic had been sold. The new owner doesn’t want to hold Magic tournaments. It seems that he’s afraid of us scaring away his video rental customers. Oh, well. That meant that last Saturday was the last tourney there. At least I got to play with Skullclamp before it was banned.

So, I have to find a new place to play on Saturdays, and I’m already bored by the new set. In addition, it looks like The DCI will be banning Skullclamp. (And, now, they have.) While that seems all fine and dandy as a way to slow down Ravager Affinity and Goblins, it also slows down the answers to those two decks. A deck such as Elves just won’t be able to compete anymore.

This seems like the perfect time to start mining the older cards that have gone untested. While you’re enjoying the All-Affinity-or-Anti-Affinity Block Season **yawn** this Summer, during which I’m sure you’ll just have a blast, I’ll be looking at more ways to use those”other” cards.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Thanks for voting via your cellular phones.

Chris Romeo

CBRomeo at Travelers dot com

P.S. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be giving you a report from the winner of the”Take Centaur Glade to Regionals” Contest.