Headfirst Into The Shallow End

Something about my having neither the temporality to be a riverboat gambler, nor the disposition required of an underworld kingpin, is getting in the way of my finding a long-term cash flow. Never mind that I also keep forgetting that the internet cannot yet fully serve me. While I’ve been busy bumbling about the real…

Something about my having neither the temporality to be a riverboat gambler, nor the disposition required of an underworld kingpin, is getting in the way of my finding a long-term cash flow.

Never mind that I also keep forgetting that the internet cannot yet fully serve me. While I’ve been busy bumbling about the real world to look for a job, my roommates have shouldered the herculean task of waiting for their copy of Diablo II to be delivered.

More out of spite than anything else, I decided to play a little dueling web searches: Their priorities against mine. I would describe the outcome as "encouraging in the worst way".

"Diablo II" – 109,000 results

"A well-paying job that is both fun and challenging" – 96 results. Most of these were news archives describing such opportunities that have existed in the past. Feel free to rub the salt directly into my eyes next time, guys.

"The motivation to pursue the things I enjoy" – 1, counting this article.

But at least I’m bitter. I don’t know where I’d be otherwise.

Oddly enough, none of the top-level matches were porn. Maybe that’s what’s throwing me off-balance.

It used to be a given that regardless of the nature of your investigation, web searchers would direct you to pornographic web sites. Almost as if the whole of the world’s culture was pushing to bind pornography to the rest of mankind’s endeavours.

Now, at least, it’s porn and auto insurance.

Spice of life, my foot.

At any rate, this is my contribution to extending the oracular prowess of this tired morass. And nothing screams "Tired Morass" like Masques Block Constructed!

If you told me that the recent Team Comf excitement over the upcoming set of qualifiers was the result of some kind of seepage or faulty insulation, I’d be hard pressed to disagree. It could be mind control, but no-one’s sporting a silly grin. Likewise the lack of organ and string mood music rules out otherworldly possession.

Whatever the cause, I too have been swept up in the rush to create a gauntlet of test decks. Between exuberance and a young format there’s no room for cool heads to prevail. This is great for me; I don’t so clearly come across the fool.

The first consequence of our testing was the affirmation that Rising Waters is a pretty good deck. It doesn’t seem to have any truly nightmarish matchups, and has quite a few favourable ones. For once, the net hype has been deserved. I won’t bother with analysis, there’s plenty of that elsewhere for the interested reader. For those of you who view me as a prophet: I have spoken! Bring me cookies, breakdancers, the year 1376 and a gas-powered video-radiophone that I may find solace in the juxtaposition of Karl and Harpo Marx shining thereupon.

This is all well and good, but I don’t think anyone’s interested in playing the deck.

Personally, I’ve succumbed quite quickly to the lure of pirates. I’ve told myself a million-bajillion times that I won’t play land destruction at major tournaments.

Lie And Keep Lying (No, Wait! mix)

4x Rishadan Cutpurse

4x Rishadan Footpad

4x Rishadan Brigand

4x Stone Rain

2x Tectonic Break

4x Hoodwink

3x Parallax Tide

4x Tangle Wire

4x Seal of Fire

4x Withdraw

8x Mountain

15x Island

The most important thing to note is the mere twenty-three land. I’ve been coming up short in testing, so it should probably be twenty-five. I haven’t changed it because I can’t decide what to cut. If I absolutely, gun-to-my-head had to choose right now, I’d lose the Tides, because they’ve been the least spectacular.

The play of this deck is only rarely counterintuitive. I still find myself balking at the prospect of turning on the mad 2/2 beats. Nobody said this was going to be pretty. (Really, if they did, you’d be shocked.)

How you spend your early turns is governed by the constitution of your hand. If you’ve got lots of land destruction, go for the throat. If you’ve got a couple of Brigands, a Withdraw and a Hoodwink, hold back. It’s tempting to grab tempo when you can, but without the proper exploitation, it’s not getting you anywhere.

Withdraw has really shown itself well. Not only does it stem the tide by pretending it’s an Undo, it bounces your Pirates to increase the stranglehold. Remember that you only have twelve damage sources that will be staying for dessert, so manage them with care.

So far, I can only beat Rising Waters when I get a draw that has a name, like the Three Tangle Wire Draw, or the Double Tide Draw, or the dreaded Full Boat: Brigands over Stone Rains. Every once in a while I get the perverse pleasure of saying "I wink your Eye," but that’s about as far as that goes. It’s not woefully lopsided, but it’s bad enough. Mogg Salvage in the board helps. Somewhat.

On the rosy side, the Death Pit Offering deck seems perfectly content to let LaKL walk all over it. There’s the fact that I’m playing a mana denial deck and their spells are expensive, plus there’s the kicker that if I have a Hoodwink in hand, their principle road to victory is eliminated. The only question is whether or not DPO will see play.

There’s no middle ground to the Rebels matchup. With only four Seals as outright kill, an early Sergeant is probably going to be wearing the pants in this family. Withdraw and Tangle Wire aren’t the solutions one would hope, because early on they’re too inexpensive to keep away, and late game … well, if there is one, you’ve won, but don’t get ahead of yourself, Poindexter.

If they have no search, then you’re in business, because your weapons will perform as expected. The sideboard seems to beg for Brutal Suppression, but these New Age Rebel decks can just beat you up with dudes, and that’s no good. I’m leaning towards Flowstone Slide, for the clean sweep. This would also give me a tool against Blastoderm. Not much of one, granted, but as it stands it’s snake eyes all around.

Black Control is another favourable matchup. Barring "Ritual, Chilling Apparition" you won’t have to worry about early pressure, which lets you get down to the business of plunder. Vicious Hunger murders all your creatures, so have no illusions. Other than that, smooth sailing.

I haven’t tested the matchup against Aggro-Blue, but I wistfully imagine it to be favourable. Standing in the way of this fantasy-land are the deck’s efficient creatures and ACC counters. So they’ve got an early clock and the means to bust up my disruption. And I have?

Milton Berle as Louie the Lilac?

Josh Bennett


"They think we’re cool, man. We turn them on." — The Boy Wonder