Fun With Old Cards #9: A Delayed Valentine’s Day Deck

One day I noticed there were quite a number of cards that benefit all players when played. So, I thought, what if I were to build a deck that wasn’t necessarily concerned with winning per se, but that would allow me to help any players I wanted to, and that could be instrumental in deciding who would win? Well, I built it and it works. And isn’t Valentine’s Day all about gift-giving?

…She was an Englishwoman of Irish blood, beautiful, with burgundy-red hair and piercing green eyes. She had a great British accent and a mischievous streak a mile long. She was only thirty, a doctor, and had an incredible sense of humor and ability to enjoy life.

We shared genetic information.

It was all in the name of science, of course. It all started with that first meeting, when I met with the biology head of a national laboratory; one of the chief financing officers of the CIA in charge of funding”domestic science” projects; and my P.I. She was there, flirting with me from the back row while I gave my presentation and again during lunch. We were to work on the Anthrax project together, and though she would do her work over a thousand miles away we kept in constant contact via e-mail. We were serious about our work, of course, but over time the content of our e-mails became – shall we say, quite personal. Enough so that by Valentine’s Day several years ago we made plans to rendezvous, and soon we did, in Memphis…

Ah, Valentine’s Day – such a lovely tradition, especially for those lucky couples who hold true happiness and joy in their hearts. It is with this spirit in mind that I present today’s deck idea – and though I am currently single, I do so with happiness and joy.

By the way, for you cute, young, single Magic playing ladies out there who are enjoying today’s piece, I have included my Lavalife picture with this article and you should see it below (unless for some reason the Ferrett has deigned it inappropriate!). If you wish to see my other Lavalife picture, pony up and join because I greatly fear the possibility of blackmail.

One day years ago I was reading through Inquest magazine while riding a peristaltic wave and I happened to notice there were quite a number of cards that benefit all players when played. I decided to make a list of these cards and see if I could make a cohesive deck out of them. One thing that I really enjoy about multi-player Magic is the camaraderie, the give-and-take, and the diplomacy that occurs during a game – it is really the whole reason for playing, and is just as fun as winning. So – I thought, what if I were to build a deck that wasn’t necessarily concerned with winning per se, but that would allow me to help any players I wanted to, and that could be instrumental in deciding who would win? Well, I built it and it works. Here it is, updated with newer cards:


The Creatures (22):

4 Soldevi Sentry

4 Varchild’s War Riders

4 Benevolent Unicorn

4 Noble Benefactor

2 Questing Phelddagrif

2 Phelddagrif

2 Indentured Djinn

The Card Drawing (15):

1 Prosperity

1 Flux

1 Trade Secrets

1 Wheel and Deal

1 Unifying Theory

1 Windfall

1 Wheel of Fortune

4 Howling Mine

1 Weird Harvest

1 Horn of Plenty

2 New Frontiers

The Utility (13):

1 Crumbling Sanctuary

1 Jester’s Mask

4 Arcane Denial

1 Reverent Silence

2 Fiery Justice

4 Swords to Plowshares

The Lands (30):

4 Rainbow Vale

4 Undiscovered Paradise

2 Mountain

8 Island

6 Plains

6 Forest

Yes, it’s eighty cards, but that’s for two reasons – all the card drawing, and a second, more sinister reason I’ll detail later. The keys to this deck are the various Phelddagrifs. If you can get one of these down and keep it on the table, you should have no trouble dictating the outcome of the game. Usually, people leave them alone – I mean, who doesn’t love purple dinosaurs? Not only are they decent blockers, but you can also give people chump tokens, life, and cards while activating their various abilities! Of the other creatures, the Soldevi Sentries serve as efficient blockers, which can also provide cards to people when regenerated!

Varchild’s War Riders are very important to your plan as well. You should use them diplomatically, giving people tokens for attack or defense during your upkeep. Be wary,, though – sometimes the hand you feed will come back to bite you! If that happens, you can always give the next batch of tokens to someone else and promises of life, cards and hippo tokens usually sways them to do your bidding!

The Benevolent Unicorns are a guard against cheese, and help everyone. They are great in multiples. Indentured Djinns serve as good blockers, and also give people cards! Aren’t you nice?! And lastly, the Noble Benefactors serve as tutors for the table and can help you dig for answers when they die – which is usually really quickly! I have played them in games where people begged to be the ones to kill them!

The utility spells include some useful creature kill in the Plowshares and Fiery Justice, which both provide life to the lucky recipients! Arcane Denials are as soft a way of saying”no” as there is, offering to replace their offending spells with extra cards – Santa Claus isn’t so nice! Crumbling Sanctuary is great for saving you from impending doom, and the whole table can use it at need. (Notice that it depletes cards from the library? I think I smell some foreshadowing here…)

Reverent Silence gets rid of all annoying enchantments, but provides life to everyone when you use the alternate casting cost, and the Jester’s Mask – it isn’t in here so I can play cruel jokes on someone, oh no. I use it to help a mana-screwed player out, or help him get his combo pieces together! (Don’t you just want to kiss me, ladies?!)

Now, for the card drawing: I believe it was Confucius who once said,”He who plays Howling Mines makes many, many friends.” I always play one of these as soon as possible. They really do keep people from attacking you early. The Horn of Plenty can give anyone extra cards any time they play a spell if they have the mana, including yourself – but be careful! Weird Harvest is mainly there to give you another way to dig for a Phelddagrif (but also takes cards out of people’s libraries…). New Frontiers can get you all the land you need to”abuse” Phelddagrif, and similarly fuels your tablemates!

Now, take a look at the remaining cards. (Notice the absence of a few obvious choices in that list? Hint hint…) I have one of almost every table affecting multiple card-drawer listed there, and they are there for the same reasons as the Howling Mines: there is no better way to make friends in multi-player Magic! And to top it all off, you have a land in Rainbow Vale, which not only gives you whatever mana you need, but can be shared with all your buddies!

So are we all ready for a big group hug yet?”Kum-ba-ya…”

…But of course that isn’t the whole story, is it? Do you really think I’d design a deck that had almost no chance in hell of winning? Sure, it’s fun to set up your favorite buddy and see him in the winner’s seat sometimes, and this deck does this better than any I’ve built – but when it comes right down to it, admit it: You want to be the winner, at least some of the time.

It should be easy to see here how you can make a go at it: By decking your opponents! The really funny thing about it is, they will be mostly responsible for it if they lose that way. Most of the cards I present above only give the option of drawing a card – they don’t have to if they don’t want to! (Howling Mine and a few other spells aside.) Don’t forget you are starting with an eighty-card deck, so you have a built-in edge in the card race to begin with. Don’t worry about your opponents outdrawing you, because you will have answers in your hand and allies at the table as well as ways to dig for answers yourself.

Do you see now why I didn’t throw in otherwise table-happy cards like Timetwister and Diminishing Returns? Be happy! Let them deck themselves!

Enjoy, and happy V.D.!

By the way, I’ve gotten some more e-mail questions, and I again want to thank you for your responses! My last article, the Sneak Attack deck, got more positive responses than even my Altar of Dementia deck – thanks! One question I get a lot, though, is”why do I use so many hard-to-get rares?”

Well, I decided to fill the niche of multi-player Magic players who have a lot of older stuff (like me) and were looking for ideas, so that’s why I use so many old cards. If you really want ideas for newer cards and deck ideas using fewer rares, I strongly recommend checking out MagictheGathering.com and looking up Anthony Alongi and Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar stuff. Both of those guys work with newer cards, use few rares, and have far more talent than I have. Anthony, by the way, has recently offered to help anyone with his or her decks – take him up on it!

There are also several good people right here; Peter Jahn is one of them. Also, some of you dared me to do something more abusive than my last deck, saying I didn’t have it in me. Well, I looked through my cards to see if there was one that could top it – and I found it. Therein lies your clue…and your warning! Tune in next time for a really abusive deck!

For the future – here is a list of cards I want you all to look at and ruminate over. If they look familiar, it is because I pulled them from a recent forum here on Star City Games where people discussed the worst cards in Magic! After I finish this current set of multi-player articles (sometime in April I imagine), I plan to break a few of these puppies for your enjoyment! Let me know your”favorites” and I’ll try to build a deck that uses the card positively! I’ll even show you how to break Sorrow’s Path!

Phyrexian Dreadnought

Lion’s Eye Diamond

Rainbow Vale (Look above!)

Pale Moon (might not be salvageable)

Sorrow’s Path

Dreamborn Muse

Deep Water

Wood Elemental

Rhystic Cave

Last Stand

Apocalypse Chime (Okay, not this one either)

Legends legendary lands

Great Wall

Crystal Quarry


All the Laces

Legends Glyphs

Ghosts of the Damned

Murderer’s Betrayal

Odyssey Shrines

In the Eye of Chaos

Merchant Ship

Pedantic Learning

Sea Troll


Blessed Wind

Sewers of Estark

Scarred Wildcat

Goblin Assassin

Tahngarth’s Glare

Avoid Fate

Ichneumon Druid (Beware!)

Lady Orca

Kasimir the Lone Wolf

Aysen Highway (Fear Me!)


Carnival of Souls

Mudhole (I want to print toilet paper with this picture!)

Dwarven Pony

Shelkin Brownie

Defiant Evil

Barbarian Guides


Glacial Crevasses

Desert Nomads

Doom Cannon (Utterly breakable!)

Saprazzan Raider

Tablet of Epityr

Shrieking Mogg

Karplusan Giant

Shrouded Serpent

Viashino Sandswimmer

Cephalid Vandal


Aisling Leprechaun (I’ll show you what he can do!)

Saproling Infestation


Chance Encounter

Goblin Artisans


Oath of Mages

Search for Survivors

Arctic Foxes

Camel (I spit on you!)

Common Cause

Prismatic Circle

Rhystic Circle

Security Detail

Hidden Path




Break Open

Amulet of Quoz

Beast Walkers

Rune of Protection: Lands (hey, it cycles!)

Ignoble Soldier

Wintermoon Mesa


Fugitive Wizard (Beatdown!)

Juju Bubble (This card is annoying!)

Eager Cadet

Mons Goblin Raiders

Merfolk of the Pearl Trident (Oh, come on!)

Need for Speed

Goblin Spy

Sunstrike Legionairre

Soulgorger Orgg

Later days,

Tony Costa

[email protected]