From Right Field: Whipping Out the White Weenie

It’s probably no surprise that I felt that Bonesplitter needed to be in here. Nothing says”aggressive” like a spell that gives +2/+0 and keeps on giving even after the creature dies. I also wanted something cheap to stop other creatures. Pacifism had been my spell of choice ever since those impotent, slack-jawed cretins in R&D decided to drop Reprisal from 8th Edition. Why did you do that? Why? Why, dear, God, oh, why? What Rhodes Scholar decided that a White spell that costs 1W and only blows up creatures that are really big was too good?

I’m sorry, what were we talking about?


This piece is about a cheap White Weenie deck. After running it in the tournament, however, I have fallen head-over-heels in love with a piece of Equipment called Mask of Memory. So, while you’ll read about how the creatures dealt the damage that won the games, it’s really the Mask of Memory that made it all possible.

It seems that people are a bit perturbed at me because the”cheap” decks I’ve written about the past couple of weeks have had so many rares in them. Okay, I’ll admit that I’m guilty of using a few rares in those two decks. Both featured Onslaught Fetchlands (Polluted Delta in one and Bloodstained Mire in the other), and both had Rotlung Reanimator. Plus, there was Persecute. One even had Phyrexian Plaguelord and Fallen Angel.

In my defense, I must reiterate that you just absolutely, positively must get yo’ shizzle togizzle, my brizzle, and buy any of the Fetchlands that match the colors that you play. Are you a Green/White player? Buy four Windswept Heaths. Do you like Red/Green Beatdown? Skip a couple of Happy Meals here and there, and buy Wooded Foothills. Finally, if I ask a rhetorical question and someone answers it, is it still rhetorical?

As far as Rotlung is concerned, okay, it’s expensive. Why is it expensive? Because it’s that good. If you’re planning on playing Black, and it looks like you’ll be using creatures, spring for the Rotlung.

You gotta stop giving me grief on the Fallen Angels, though. I just checked the StarCity store, and I can get them at $2.00 each if I’m willing to get older versions. That’s the same price for four Fallen Angels as you’d pay for a pre-constructed deck with only two crap rares in it. So, quit yer bitchin’ and moanin’ on that one.

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned

Still, I understand where you guys are coming from. You’re looking to me for a deck that can make a decent showing at a local tourney without you having to break into your Britney-Spears-poster-buying money. I can do that. In fact, I’ve been working on one since I saw my first Mirrodin cards. I’m sure that you’ll be shocked [and awed! – Not Ted Knutson] to find out that it’s a White Weenie deck. [Hey there Romeo, you keep yer jabbering in the parentheticals! The bracket thingies [] are for moi. – Knut, who still wants to answer the rhetorical questions.]

Wizards has definitely done what they said they’d do with the color pie. White has some very sweet weenies right now. Mirrodin has Leonin Skyhunter, a 2/2 flier for WW, and Leonin Den-Guard, a 1/3 for 1W that becomes a non-tapping 2/4 if it’s Equipped. Eighth Edition brought back Tundra Wolves, Suntail Hawk, and Savannah Lions. I promise I won’t use Savannah Lions. I know how expensive they are. I do want to point out, though, that you can swing for two on turn 2 if you get a first-turn Lions followed by a second-turn Bonesplitter.

On the other hand, Tundra Wolves and Suntail Hawk are better in certain cases. Look at these first- and second-turn plays:

• T-Wolves wearing a Bonesplitter attack into a Goblin Sledder. Sledder go bye-bye. T-Wolves still around for next turn.

• Suntail Hawk wearing a Bonesplitter attacks on turn 2. Goblin Sledder watches as three points of damage flies by and drops birdie doo-doo in its eye.

• Savannah Lions wearing Bonesplitter attacks into Goblin Sledder. Opponent puts his five-cent Sledder into the ‘yard and smiles. You put your nine-dollar Lions into the ‘yard and cry.

Now, don’t go getting all Liza Minnelli on me. I do not mean to imply – nor should you infer – that I think Savannah Lions blows. They don’t. I love ’em. It’s just that I promised I’d do a non-rare deck here. If you have Lions, drop ’em in. Just remember that an unmodified Savannah Lions loses to Tundra Wolves in combat. That’s all I’m saying.

I got a lot of e-mail asking why I didn’t use cards like Graveborn Muse, Phyrexian Arena, and Visara the Dreadful in my last two decks. One answer is that would have been way too many rares. Another might be that they just weren’t right for what the deck was doing. I could make up some others, too. I also had questions about why I didn’t use certain non-rares. Most asked about Consume Spirit (too slow; not needed) or Zombie Infestation (not legal in Standard anymore). So that I can preemptively head off a few of those e-mails regarding this deck, I thought I’d let you see what goes on in my mind when I’m designing one of these suckers.

Warning: It Ain’t Pretty in Here Sometimes. Also, kinda long-winded.

As usually happens when I start down these silly-brick roads, I have to choose my creatures. Because of the limitations that I’m putting on myself (no rares), I have to forget any of the hot rare critters like Exalted Angel, Eternal Dragon, Akroma, Angel of Rules Text, and, of course, Savannah Lions. So, I pulled together a list of neat-o, small, White critters. Here’s what I came up with:

• Deftblade Elite

• Suntail Hawk

• Tundra Wolves

• White Knight

• Silver Knight

• Cloudreach Cavalry

• Whipcorder

• Leonin Den-Guard

• Leonin Skyhunter

• Battlefield Medic

• Nova Cleric

• Catapult Squad

• Crossbow Infantry

• Master Decoy

• Glory Seeker

• Leonin Elder

• Samite Healer

• Starlight Invoker

• Sword Dancer

• Stoic Champion

I also thought about the 2/2 fliers that cost 1WW, Diving Griffin, Gustcloak Harrier, and Slith Ascendant. The only question would be if I wanted to go that high on the mana curve.

The first thing I noticed about this list was that it made my column look a lot more important than it really was. The next thing I noticed was how many of the creatures are defensive in nature. It’s true that defense is one of White’s basic characteristics. It protects things very well. I didn’t want this to be a deck that sat around protecting itself, though. The best offense might be a good defense in football, but, in Magic, it only means that it takes the other guy a little longer to kill you. I didn’t want to sit back protecting my guys with this deck. I wanted to come out swinging. This was going to be a beatdown deck of massive weenie proportions. (“He said ‘massive weenie.’ Heh.” – The Spirit of John Rizzo) That meant that Samite Healer, Battlefield Medic, Crossbow Infantry, and Sword Dancer were outta there.

Next, I looked at the ones that just didn’t quite fit. Starlight Invoker is nice. She’s nice like the girl that your Mom wished you had taken to the prom rather than the hot, red-headed majorette who wore the dress with the plunging neckline, no back, and no bra. Much like that nice girl that you didn’t take to the prom, the Invoker gets left behind because it takes too much mana to get her doing what you want her to do. (Yes, the red-headed majorette didn’t take much”mana” at all to get her to doing what I wanted her to do. I’ll tell you that story when you’re older.)

Stoic Champion is a great Soldier. I love him . . . if he’s in a deck with lots of cycling cards. If not, I have to rely on my opponent to make him big. I wasn’t planning on using a lot of cycling cards. So, the Champion rides the pine for now. He’ll be there with another fine Soldier, Catapult Squad. There won’t end up being enough Soldiers to make the Squad be anything better than a 2/1 speed bump.

Is Leonin Elder the new Soul Warden? Could be, but it also suffered from Stoic Champion’s Disease. In other words, it will probably be a great card, just in some other deck. As it is, I’d be relying on my opponent to drop artifacts. I could be wrong about this one. With all the Affinity decks running around, he could be good. Plus, as you’ll see, I will have a fair number of artifacts to drop, too. Lifegain is nice, but he’s just not aggressive enough.

Meanwhile, Cloudreach Cavalry suffered from the Cat-Squad disease. There won’t be enough Birds to make him any good. Usually, he’d be a 1/1 for two mana. That’s not good.

Glory Seeker is to Magic what Jai is to The Fab 5 on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. No one really knows his purpose, although the guy in charge once tried to explain why he was there. We weren’t convinced in either case.

I debated with myself over Nova Cleric, even though the Catholic Church says that debating with yourself is wrong. In the end (“Ewwwww!”), I decided that she wasn’t aggressive enough for the main deck. However, she would make a fine addition to the sideboard as a way to wipe out enchantments, or even a way to keep them off the board in the first place.

At first, I wanted to include both Master Decoy and Whipcorder. After some contemplation, it seemed that would be too many creatures dedicated to neutralizing the other guy’s – excuse me – person’s creatures. I could be wrong here, too. It just felt like two slots was too much, especially since I planned on running Arrest. I ended up choosing the Whipcorder because it’s a 2/2 (instead of 1/2) for 2 mana.

I was then left with this list of eleven creatures:

• Deftblade Elite

• Suntail Hawk

• Tundra Wolves

• White Knight

• Silver Knight

• Whipcorder

• Leonin Den-Guard

• Leonin Skyhunter

• Gustcloak Harrier

• Slith Ascendant

• Diving Griffin

It was a tough call, but I decided to stay completely away from three-mana creatures. This is simply a style choice, though. I am a huge fan of both the Ascendant, due to how big it can get, and the Diving Griffin because it’s a flier that doesn’t tap to attack. I could easily have gone up to three-mana for creatures. Instead of the twenty lands I had planned on running, I’d just need to run twenty-two instead. I’d also have to find two support spells to drop. Like I said, no big deal. I just decided to go with twenty lands and no creatures over two-mana. [He’s also praying he doesn’t face any land destruction decks. – Again, not Ted Knutson]

This is the point at which I started looking at support spells. I needed to know exactly how many creatures I could go with. To do that, I needed to know what other spells I was going to use.

It’s probably no surprise that I felt that Bonesplitter needed to be in here. Nothing says”aggressive” like a spell that gives +2/+0 and keeps on giving even after the creature dies. I also wanted something cheap to stop other creatures. Pacifism had been my spell of choice ever since those impotent, slack-jawed cretins in R&D decided to drop Reprisal from 8th Edition. Why did you do that? Why? Why, dear, God, oh, why? What Rhodes Scholar decided that a White spell that costs 1W and only blows up creatures that are really big was too good? Luckily, Mirrodin brought a better version of Pacifism in the Mercadian Masques reprint Arrest.

Don’t misunderstand me. Pacifism is a great spell. It stops Exalted Angel and Rorix and Akroma. In the cases of the last two, since they’re Legends, your opponent can’t even drop another one. Rather, they can, but it goes away faster than a boy band’s career. The problem that I had had this Summer and Fall with Pacifism was that it didn’t keep creatures from using their abilities. So, Visara still killed anything in her path, Siege-Gang Commander still threw Goblins at me, and Wellwisher still gained life.

Thankfully, those impotent, slack-jawed cretins in R&D showed why they aren’t really impotent, slack-jawed cretins when they reprinted Arrest. Here’s a card that stops Visara in her tracks. She just sits there like a lump of twelve-dollar cardboard.

I also wanted another piece of Equipment. The real question was which one? Lightning Greaves seemed obvious. It’s cheap, it gives haste, and it makes my guy untargetable. That’s a tasty little combination of abilities. One from column A, one from column B, and one from column C. Just like at Mandarin House. Hmmmm… I think I’ll get order Chinese tonight.”Mmmmmmm… Chow Mien… aaaaaaahhhhhhh.”

Of course, the Leonin Scimitar is pretty aggressive, too. It’s kind of the Bonesplitter’s little brother. The front end doesn’t get as big, but the back end gets bigger. So, my 2/2 would actually beat up your 2/2 and live. ‘Cause my 2/2 would really be a 3/3. Tricky, huh?

There was also Banshee’s Blade. It costs two to cast, two to equip, and can make those weenies ugly-huge. Even though the mana requirements were higher for the Blade, I decided to go with that one. Lightning Greaves says”aggressive,” but the Blade says”even more aggressive.”

Quick math time now. Twenty lands and twelve support spells meant that I had room for twenty-eight creatures or seven slots of four each. Someone had to go. This was the point that I contacted my pal Karl Allen, the 2000 (not 2001) Tennessee State champ and father of James Ivan Allen, youngest person ever with his own DCI number. (Also, he’s the youngest person ever with a warning. He failed to show for his first match. He was getting his diaper changed. Given the fact that this was a REL-0 or REL-1 local, Saturday tourney, I think he should have only gotten an unofficial warning, a.k.a. a caution.)

I ran down the list of creatures for Karl, telling him that I needed to drop one. Karl liked the Deftblade Elite over the Tundra Wolves.”If you get a Bonesplitter on him, you can kill whichever creature you want to Provoke.” While true, it would also mean that I’d have to let the Elite die. If not, I’d have to use his Fog ability. In which case, nothing dies, and my opponent’s creature lives to attack next turn. Tundra Wolves, on the other hand, eats up a lot of critters in combat without dying. So, I decided not to listen to the advice of a guy whose rating is about two hundred points higher than mine and go with the Tundra Wolves.

Karl also pointed out that Leonin Den-Guard wasn’t very good without being Equipped. I countered that it was still a 1/3 for 1W. It could hold off a bunch of Goblins. Karl countered with the fact that I had already disregarded his advice on one card. If I did it again, he threatened that he and Stacey would not invite Luanne and me over for dinner and Simpsons Clue anymore. Being a glutton, I relented and dropped the Den-Guard.

The problem was that left us with only six creatures: Suntail Hawk, Tundra Wolves, Silver and White Knights, Whipcorder, and Leonin Skyhunter. We discussed adding in additional Equipment. That didn’t feel right, though. Previous testing on a mono-Green Standard Stompy deck showed us that sometimes all that Equipment has no place to go. It just sits there, looking forlorn, like the geeky girl at the bar, wishing someone would come along and pick it/her up.

Then, like a Blinding Beam, it struck me.”Ow,” I said. We’d use Raise the Alarm. It’s a great trick. Control decks hate that I can do it when they tap out at the end of a turn to cycle an Eternal Dragon or play Thirst for Knowledge. It gives surprise blockers. So, our seventh creature slot would actually be an instant that made creatures.

Meanwhile, Karl had a Brainstorm. He tapped his Island, looked at the top three cards of his library, and put Mask of Memory into his hand. He suggested the Mask instead of the Banshee’s Blade. Talk about inspired. What a great, uncommon card. It gives White Weenie something it is sorely lacking: card drawing. The final change we made was to drop one Mask of Memory to add an extra Plains and get us to twenty-one lands.

Which left us with:

21 Lands

2 Daru Encampment

15 Plains

4 Ancient Den

24 Creatures

4 Tundra Wolves

4 Suntail Hawk

4 White Knight

4 Silver Knight

4 Whipcorder

4 Leonin Skyhunter

15 Other Spells

4 Bonesplitter

3 Mask of Memory

4 Arrest

4 Raise the Alarm

The Daru Encampments were there in case we got the chance to pump up a Whipcorder or a Soldier token. The Ancient Dens are anti-Flashfires tech. Karl told me to ignore the fact that they die to the ubiquitous Akroma’s Vengeance. That’s always a good idea, isn’t it?”Just ignore the most prominent global reset in the format. What could go wrong?”

Captain, They Have a Cloaking Device

The final step in this process is theorizing about and picking the cards for the sideboard. (For better players with more time, there is another step called”Play Testing.” It is recommended for those who have the time and or energy. For those with wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, and/or full-time jobs that don’t require a polyester uniform, we just wing it.)

We knew we’d need some sort of enchantment removal for Slide decks, Sulfuric Vortex, and any other number of cards that might show up. It looked to me like Tempest of Light was a good call, but cost too much. Besides, I already had another nice weenie, Nova Cleric, penciled in for Tranquility duty. The problem with relying on her, was that she had to stay in play a turn to get active. Against decks with Lighting Rift, that could prove problematic. Also, as Karl pointed out, it takes the same mana to activate the Cleric as to cast the Tempest. So, we decided to use Tempest of Light and hope for the best.

How to deal with Mono-White Control and Blue-White Control’s horde of Soldier tokens? Rain of Blades leapt to mind. The Blades would also help against other weenie strategies like Goblins. Adding Wing Shards to that gives a nice combo to rip up a bunch of attacking weenies for only four mana.

Finally, we wanted something to do against decks with recursion. Scrabbling Claws seemed to be the logical answer.

15 Sideboard

4 Tempest of Light

4 Rain of Blades

4 Wing Shards

3 Scrabbling Claws

What?!? No Karma?

No. The smart mono-Black players are running an Island and Mind Bend in the sideboard. There is nothing more humiliating than losing to your own Karma. Well, other than your Mother catching you dancing around in your tighty whities, singing along with Outkast like some latter-day Tom Cruise. [For the safety of you and your loved ones, I highly recommend not picturing Romeo shake it, sh-sh-shaking it like a Polaroid picture. – Knut] Ugh.

Okay, now you see how I decide against certain cards and for others. You may not agree with my reasoning. Which is fine. You’ve been wrong before, and you’ll be wrong again. I did this in the hopes that I could stem the tide of e-mails that ask,”Why didn’t you use <this grabasstic card>? It’s so good.” As you can see, I consider a lot of cards within whatever boundaries I’ve set for myself. Just because it doesn’t get used doesn’t mean that I think it stinks. It just means I don’t feel like it should be in the particular deck I’m pimpin’ this week. Also, I am often wrong. If you want to try something else, go for it. If it works, let me know. I’m a sucker for free tech that wins me swag.

So, let’s see how testing (a.k.a. the tournament) went.

Round 1 – Affinity piloted by Brandy

I won this match 2-0 and never suffered any damage. I was worried about the Broodstars. Once my Whipcorder hit in game 1, I was more confident. Believe it or not, the Soldier tokens from Raise the Alarm went all the way for me in game 1. Of course, they were wearing Bonesplitters.

You know how people are always complaining about getting mana hosed or never getting the right cards? We all complain about that. However, it seems that when those things hurt our opponents, we conveniently forget about it and talk about how great we are at the game. So, to be fair to Brandy, she saw only one card drawing spell in two games and no Broodstars. Not a single one. She did counter many things. She got a few Frogmites and Myr Enforcers. That’s not really how that deck wins, though.

Frogmites die horribly to the eight first striking 2/2’s in the deck as well as to Tundra Wolves blocking in pairs or carrying rusty axes. Myr Enforcers don’t attack when they see two Knights across from them. They don’t block when a Knight wearing a Bonesplitter’s coming at them, either. Or, rather, if they do either of those things, they die horribly.

Affinity seems to have the same problem that Blue-Green Madness did. It has no way to control the board beyond counterspells and bounce. Both decks hope that the huge fliers can do everything as long as they can be protected. Often that doesn’t work. It also doesn’t work if you get no big fliers. Sorry, Brandy.

Mask of Memory was the big hit in this match. I kept my hand full in both games thanks to this card. When a weenie deck is able to drop three creatures per turn, a control deck just can’t deal with that sort of onslaught unless it packs mass removal, a la Wrath of God. It can’t keep up when it’s just got counterspells and bounce. It quickly became apparent that Karl and I had made an inspired choice.

I sideboarded for game 2 by dropping 4 Tundra Wolves and bringing in 4 Wing Shards. The need to neutralize the Broodstars is enormous. Tundra Wolves is the weak link here. Bringing in the Shards allowed me to have twelve ways to deal with a Broodstar (four each of Wing Shards, Whipcorder, and Arrest). I always held a Raise the Alarm and a Wing Shards just in case. In that way, my opponent would have to counter both the Wing Shards and the Storm copy. I will always bet against them holding two counterspells.

Round 2 – Mono-Black Cleric piloted by Bobby

I had a feeling that the karma (not Karma) was gonna get me in this matchup. At the time we played, my last piece, in which I suggested Bobby be not quite so demonstrative when he played, hadn’t hit the site yet. I just had a feeling that I was gonna get mine.

I won the toss, kept a decent hand, and won game 1. White Knight with Bonesplitter made a quick game of it.

For game 2, I brought in 3 Scrabbling Claws to prevent Cleric recursion and 4 Wing Shards for some hopefully huge attacker removal. I dropped the 4 Arrests. Those are worthless against this type of deck since your opponent can just sac the creature out from under it. Yes, I know that, if I can get an Arrest on the one and only Cabal Archon while they have no mana, it stops that ability. Until they get another Archon, that is. Then, they just sac the one with the Arrest on it. I also, took out 3 Tundra Wolves.

This is where the deck needed some rares. I knew he was going to bring in Infest. Without Glorious Anthem, Infest kills everything I had in this deck. I was able to survive a while in game 2. White Knight with Mask of Memory kept my hand full. In the end, though, he dropped Phyrexian Arena, which I hadn’t seen in game 1. That drew him into the Infests and Consume Spirits he needed.

For game 3, I decided to bring in 3 Tempest of Light. This may have weakened the deck too much. I took out the other Tundra Wolves and two Silver Knights. Of course, I also had my first mulligan of the day. Sadly, the Tempests never showed up even though I was drawing cards like a madman. He got the Arena out, and it did its job. It drew him into the Infests and Consume Spirits as well as Cabal Archons that he needed.

Still, it’s not like either of the last two games were lopsided. The creatures wearing Equipment almost took the games for me. The Raise the AlarmWing Shards synergy is great. And, yes, I often had the five mana needed for that even though the deck only ran twenty-one lands. How is that possible? Well, have I mentioned how utterly fantastic Mask of Memory is?

I was quickly becoming enamored of the Mask of Memory, especially when I could get it on one of my creatures with Protection from the Color the Other Person’s Playing. Finally, White Weenie has a way to keep its hand full! (“Hand full of White Weenie. Heh.” – the hopefully non-litigious Rizzo)

Round 3 – Mono-Black Clerics piloted by Michael Beeler

So, what do I get for losing to a mono-Black Cleric deck? Why, I get to play a guy who has only lost something like two matches in the last eight weeks while playing a mono-Black Cleric deck. Ugh. I won the coin toss and chose to go first. My opening hand, after going down to six, was three lands, a White Knight, a Bonesplitter, and a Tundra Wolves. I dropped my Wolves and passed. He dropped a Dark Supplicant. On my turn, I attacked knowing full well that he wouldn’t block. Then, out came the White Knight. He made a Withered Wretch. I dropped the Bonesplitter and Equipped the Tundra Wolves so that, no matter how he blocked (if at all), he’d lose guys and I wouldn’t. He hit me a couple of times, but I was over the top with White Knights, Bonesplitters, and Mask of Memory.

For game 2, I did the same thing that I did in the previous round. Out went 4 Arrests and 3 Tundra Wolves, and in came 4 Wing Shards and 3 Scrabbling Claws. I wasn’t sure if he had Phyrexian Arena, so I wasn’t going to weaken my deck again. I was afraid it would cost me. He did end up winning, but it was another tight one. He made a Scion of Darkness, but I was holding Wing Shards with open mana when it attacked. Still, no Arena. So, no Tempest for game 3.

My opening hand for game three was more gas: two lands, White Knight, Bonesplitter, Arrest, Whipcorder, and Leonin Skyhunter. He was able to make a Scion quickly. I was able to Arrest it. White Knight rode the Bonesplitter and a Mask of Memory all the way to a hard-fought victory.

Round 4 – Mono-Red Beats piloted by Logan Owens

Logan and I have played something like one hundred forty-two times, and we’re 71-71. Neither of us can win two in a row. It always seems like whoever won the last won loses the current match. She won the last one.

She knew I was playing this White Weenie Lite deck, and I knew she was playing a hasty Red deck. She won the toss. Not good. Chrome Mox plus Mountain can mean Slith Firewalker on turn 1. I kept a hand that had two lands, Mask of Memory, two Whipcorders, Arrest, and White Knight. Luckily, her Slith didn’t hit until turn 2. He got in a hit and was a 2/2. I dropped White Knight. Okay, so he’s not a Silver Knight. He does block and kill a 2/2 Slith Firewalker without dying himself. Gotta love that first strike. She wisely kept her Slith to herself and dropped a land.

I dropped the Arrest on him. I know that seems silly. However, a Shock would have meant the Slith could keep pounding. In addition, if she got a Blistering Firecat out, I could block and kill him without fear of the Slith coming through. Unfortunately for me, her fourth turn including Shocking my White Knight after making a Chrome Mox and a Firecat. I was at ten. Luckily for me, her hand was empty. I was able to drop the Mask and a Whipcorder. Next turn, she played a land. I started to attack. Then, being the good player I am, I realized that I might need the Whipcorder for his tap-down ability. Then, being the bad player I am, I thought,”I’ll draw into the answer off of the Mask of Memory.” I did. Down came Silver Knight.

She drew Shrapnel Blast and used the Chrome Mox to throw it at my head. I was at 5. I needed to outrace her burn. I did, thanks to Mask of Memory. I drew into Suntail Hawk, Leonin Skyhunter, and another Silver Knight on consecutive turns. The fliers led the way while the first strikers held off her guys. She ended the game holding a Shrapnel Blast with no artifact to sacrifice to it. **whew**

Honest-to-Goodness, Really Good Strategy Discussion, Kinda

Karl and I had discussed the ubiquitous Goblin/Red Weenie Rush decks. I finally convinced him that our deck needed to become the control deck in that match-up. The deck needed to remove their creatures at instant-speed. Karl had suggested removing the Masks of Memory and the Tundra Wolves for 4 Rain of Blades and 3 Wing Shards. His reasoning was quite sound. Tundra Wolves can look intimidating. Stop giggling. It can!

It kills Blistering Firecat. Who wants to utter the phrase,”I lost because I couldn’t get my Firecat through his Tundra Wolves”? Your opponent will often hold back attackers until they can simply overwhelm you if they’re staring down a bunch of first strikers. So, while the Suntail Hawk is the intuitive choice to drop, the Wolves went. We wanted almost to provoke attacks so that we could cast Rain of Blades followed by Wing Shards. Besides, the Hawk (and the Skyhunter) can break the creature standoff.

However, since I saw the huge advantage that the Masks were giving me, I decided they had to stay. What would go? It had to be Arrest. As a three-mana enchantment, it was too slow to really stop anything.

I had to mulligan to six cards for game 2. My opening hand was seven cards, and no lands. The hand I kept had two lands, Silver Knight, Whipcorder, and two Wing Shards. I drew a Suntail Hawk and dropped it. She did not make a Slith Firewalker, and I was happy. When I drew a Bonesplitter, I had to decide whether to Equip the Bird and go for three or drop the Knight. I decided to be aggressive. That’s what the deck was supposed to do, right? Besides, I could drop the Silver Knight on turn 3. She did get the Slith out on turn 2. It took me to nineteen. I drew my third land. I attacked with the Bird for another three and then dropped the Silver Knight.

Of course, she drew the burn to kill the Bird. That’s okay. It had done its job. She was at fourteen. I was at nineteen. I drew Rain of Blades and passed my turn. She made a Lava Hounds, which took her to ten, and attacked with both guys. I blocked the Slith. Then, after first strike damage was resolved, I cast Wing Shards. She lost the Hounds and the Firewalker.

On my turn, I drew another Knight, but this was of the White variety. I didn’t care. I swung with the Silver Knight, putting her at eight. I made a White Knight after that. I had one mana up. She cast Blistering Firecat. Before she attacked, though, she Shocked my White Knight. That was fine. I still had Rain of Blades, and it took out the Firecat.

I drew Daru Encampment. So far, no Equipment. Okay. No problem. I just dropped the land, swung with Knights, and then made the Whipcorder. She didn’t draw burn. What she did draw was another Firewalker. It wasn’t big enough to get through a 2/2 (or 3/3) Whipcorder, though. On my turn, I swung with the Knight, again keeping the ‘Corder back in case I needed to tap down a Firecat or Rorix. She was at six. Sure enough, she made a Firecat. I tapped it down. She hit me with the Firewalker. On my turn, I drew Bonesplitter, put it on the Silver Knight, and swung with both guys for the final six.

Round 5 – Affinity piloted by Danny Li

No matter what happened here, Danny and I were making the Top 8. Since Danny was hungry, I relented and agreed to an intentional draw. It was only on the condition that we play anyway to see what the match would have been like. He agreed and began devouring fries and burgers.

As I found in my first-round match, my deck owned the early game. I had Tundra Wolves with a Bonesplitter on it on turn 2. Silver Knight followed. Mask of Memory didn’t get countered. I got him to six very quickly while I was at sixteen. (I had let a Myr Enforcer through so that I could keep pounding.) Then, the Broodstars hit. Luckily, I was able to puke out a ton of guys right after that. Whipcorders followed on the tails of Suntail Hawks, which led the way for the Leonin Skyhunters. Even though he quickly had another Broodstar, he didn’t dare attack. I’d gladly trade a Suntail Hawk for a chance to kill him while tapping down the other Broodstar. Finally, I was able to out-creature him thanks to Raise the Alarm.

We didn’t sideboard in game 2. If we had, I would have done the same thing I did in round 1. Even though Tundra Wolves put in about six points of damage before being stopped up, Wing Shards is the best way for this deck to deal with the Broodstar.

As I said, though, we didn’t sideboard. This game was simply a case of me pounding on him quickly with fliers while the first strikers kept the Frogmites and Myr Enforcers at home. He drew a ton of cards, casting three Thirst for Knowledge and three Thoughtcast. Again, Mask of Memory was a godsend, allowing me to keep pace. The fliers were getting through unmolested and drawing me extra cards each turn. Too bad this match didn’t count. It would have been nice to get above 1700 for only the second time in my life.

Top 8, Quarterfinals – Mono-Black Clerics piloted by Eric

Aw, come on. You have gotta be kidding me. Another Dark SupplicantWithered WretchRotlung ReanimatorCabal ArchonScion of Darkness deck? Oh, well. The first game followed the script of the other two. A White Knight with Bonesplitter goes very far against a mono-Black deck. I must be learning this game, because I mulliganned into that one.

Game 2 taught me a great lesson. Never mulligan to four. Of course when your seven-card hand has five lands and the six-card and five-card hands have zero, whadya do? I have to comment on this deck’s resiliency again, though. Even with my horrible hand, it took Eric quite a while to win. The deck was just not overwhelmed, even after going down to four cards.

Again, the deck got me off to a roaring start in game 3 after I took out 4 Arrest for 4 Wing Shards and 3 Tundra Wolves for 3 Scrabbling Claws. Suntail Hawk was quickly wearing a Bonesplitter and then Mask of Memory on turn 3. By the time Dark Banishing did in the Bird, I had drawn into a Leonin Skyhunter and a White Knight. I dropped the Knight hoping to draw the Infest. I did.

I cast Raise the Alarm during his end of turn step. He only had one Zombie token. So, I put the Bonesplitter on one Soldier and the Mask on the other. Thanks to a Daru Encampment, it wouldn’t matter which one he blocked. He decided to take the less damage and give me the extra cards. That won me the game. Another Leonin Skyhunter. I put the Bonesplitter and the Mask on it. He didn’t draw an answer. He did prolong the game with Silly Archon Tricks. That just couldn’t compete with the four damage and the cards I was drawing. He laid a Phyrexian Arena in hopes of drawing into the answer. He did get answers, but this deck provided too many questions.

At this point, it was late. Okay, it was only 5:00 PM. Those of us left had wives or girlfriends or, in once case, both. So, we agreed to just split the prizes and call it a day. Final record 4-1-1.


I still don’t know how this thing would have done against U/W Control, MWC, or Slide/Rift. It obviously performed very well for an $8.95 deck.

However, it just screams for some rares. Ivory Mask stops those life-sucking Clerics. Because of the casting cost on that one, though, the mana base would have to be reworked and some spells would have to go to accommodate the extra lands.

This deck also needs Glorious Anthem in the worst way. White Knights should not be routinely dying against Black decks, but that’s what Infest did to them all day long. I was also lucky that the only opponent I faced who was packing Red never saw a Pyrite Spellbomb to throw at my Silver Knight. (She saw them, but had to use them when there were no Silver Knight’s on the board. I’m starting to get sneaky in my old age.)

Worship is big against a lot of the decks, too. In fact, Silver Knight plus Glorious Anthem plus Worship is game against most Red decks. They need two Pyrite Spellbombs to kill Silver Knight in that case. That means they don’t have enough answers in their deck for the four Silver Knights.

Finally, if you have them, I would put Second Sunrise in the sideboard. You’re gonna face Akroma’s Vengeance (even though I didn’t) and getting everything back is A Good Thing.

I was indeed pleasantly surprised at how well the deck did. Maybe we’re onto something here.

Next week, a much shorter piece. My New Year’s present to Mr. Knutson. [Sigh, first the brackets, now he calls me”mister.” Romeo must die! – Knut, feeling a little Jet Li]

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Please, no flash photography during the show.


Chris Romeo

[email protected]


In my last piece, our esteemed editor, Ted Knutson, made reference to the fact that I may have had one or more dangerous liaisons with”truck-stop floozies.” I have, in my life, canoodled with pool-hall floozies, barfly floozies, health-club floozies, and jazz-club floozies. (Man, I miss New Orleans.) However, I have never been with a truck-stop floozy. It is one of the few regrets I have in my life.