How Many People Get It? The Over/Under Is Five.

Becker goes off on his usual mixture of strategy, issues, and flat-out tirades, discussing Wolfgang Eder’s mistakes at Worlds, why good decks don’t have two-ofs in them, the ethics of concessions, a surprise discussion of Mike Flores’ hidden talents – and, of course, the mandatory Jay-bashing!

Hi, kids! Time again to dump my bilious baggage on the Magic community. Honestly, I don’t have too much to gripe about this time; I have been moving and this, for some reason, takes constant preference over magical spells in my wife’s eyes (go figure) and thus I have been a bit insulated for a while. But insulated isn’t dead, and I have a few things to get off my chest.

Two is the Loneliest Number…….

How many of Nonland Card X do you put in a deck? The correct answer is almost always either zero (a number that should be considered far more often than it is), four or one. The next-most correct answer is three. The worst possible answer is almost always two. Why?

None: This card either sucks, or does not belong in this deck for one reason or another

One: This card is tutorable for, or you are playing a deck which has trouble winning (but is good at not losing) and when you draw this card, you can then win. Or this card is a metagame choice/luxury that cycles or is easily ditched so it is rarely dead.

Three: Results of shaving.

Four: Consistency.

Two: (i) this card is Upheaval, (ii) this card is a Decree, (iii) this card is Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Rorix, Silvos, or Jareth, (iv) you are indecisive, and don’t want to bother testing, and/or (v) you are wrong.

Almost the only reason to play two of any nonland card is that you really want to cast it every game (so you want more than one in the deck), but you don’t want in the opener, because it is essentially a mulligan (since you cannot use it for ten or so turns) or you are afraid of the card being stripped from your hand by a Duress or the like. A bunch of two-ofs seems like a sign of great indecision. Like you want to play both Pacifism and Dragon Scales, but you cannot decide which way to go, so you end up splitting the baby. You are almost assuredly better off with four of one or the other (or four of something else entirely) – or for those of you with a toolbox complex, three and one to give you the mise option. But a deck full of two-ofs is, to me, a deck that is not ready to go.

Now, there are a few exceptions to this – but if you are actually taking any of this to heart, you are not one of the people equipped to make this type of decision yet. CMU-TOGIT, for example, played two Astral Slides and two Wing Shards (and only three Eternal Dragon) in their Grand Prix: Detroit deck, two copies of which made the top 8. Why? I have no freaking idea. But evidently, it worked, placing both Josh”Rabbit” Ravitz and Eugene in the Top 8, and with the amount of testing that goes on there, I feel comfortable giving them the benefit of the doubt. Also, Adrian Sullivan is a big proponent of odd numbers of cards in his decks, and uses a lot of ones, twos, and three in his unique builds. Of course, Adrian will tell you that he playtested like a million and a half games to reach that conclusion (which may or may not be the case) – but unless you are of this caliber, or you are netdecking (which is fine also) you should stay away from the number two – it is not your friend. It is the Hobgoblin of Inconsistency (and no, I don’t know its power and toughness).

Mandatory Jay Bashing?

A good example of this (and a convenient segue to boot) problem is seen in Jay Schneider and Friends’ most recent deck clinic deck.

By the way, I know all of my articles seem to bash Jay in some way, and I actually feel pretty bad about this. I harbor no ill will toward Jay, and I don’t wait in the weeds for him to publish something I can pounce on. His muse and mine just seem to be on the same schedule, although mine is almost assuredly much fatter.

Here is the deck they were given to work on:

6 Island

6 Plains

4 Secluded Steppe

4 Lonely Sandbar

4 Flooded Strand

4 Silver Knight

3 Exalted Angel

2 Jareth, Leonine Titan

2 Eternal Dragon

4 Astral Slide

4 Renewed Faith

4 Complicate

3 Akroma’s Vengeance

3 Akroma’s Blessing

3 Choking Tethers

3 Wing Shards


3 Stifle

2 Quicksilver Dragon

2 Decree of Justice

2 Oblation

2 Akroma, Angel of Wrath

1 Akroma’s Blessing

1 Exalted Angel

1 Wing Shards

1 Akroma’s Vengeance

Okay; this guy’s deck is”eh,” but he says he finds it fun and wants some tips on making it more competitive, which is just fine. He has only two two-ofs, one of which – Jareth – is perfectly understandable, and one of which – Eternal Dragon – seems much more incomprehensible to me. He clearly wants a million cyclers and million lands with this deck, and the Dragon provides unlimited (well, practically speaking) amounts of both, plus a reusable 5/5 body to fight against all the other 5/5 bodies out there.

The land is an unmitigated nightmare. He has three Wing Shards, three Vengeances, four Silver Knights, and three Exalted Angels, all at double-white – and two Jareths at triple-white (although you really want to have quadruple-white when you cast him so that you can protect him when he comes down if your opponent is playing black or you fear the Chromeshell Crab or some such), but only six plains. Meanwhile, he has a total of seven blue cards, none of which are double blue, and yet he has as many islands as plains.

The sideboard is a mess of the four-ofs this guy shaved off to fit some extra thing into the deck; two Akromas (again, probably the right number) and some other random things.

What does the Deck Crew do with this?

“Slip and Slide”

14 Plains

1 Island

4 Flooded Strand

4 Lonely Sandbar

4 Secluded Steppe

4 Silver Knight

4 Dawn Elemental

4 Exalted Angel

3 Eternal Dragon

2 Decree of Justice

2 Dragon Scales

4 Wing Shards

2 Complicate

2 Astral Slide

2 Rush of Knowledge

4 Akroma’s Vengeance


4 White Knight

3 Wipe Clean

3 Foothill Guide

2 Pacifism

2 Rush of Knowledge

1 Complicate

They axed all of the blue cyclers except for two random Complicates and added two Rush of Knowledges, even though they have only a very few non-land permanents. They cut two Astral Slides to add two random Dragon Scales. And they didn’t play a fourth Eternal Dragon – my guess is because they dropped to two Slides. On the upside, they added three overall lands, and upped the plains count to a robust fourteen. They also added a full compliment of Dawn Elementals to try to help the Goblins matchup, but I am not convinced that Dawn Elemental is a highly playable card with only fourteen plains. Goblins doesn’t give you many extra turns to find that fourth white source.

So what is the problem here? One problem is that the deck is full of twos.

Now, this is not to say that the deck isn’t better off than it started (though I don’t know that adding two Eternal Dragons, losing the Akroma’s Blessings and another card while upping and changing the land count wouldn’t have accomplished much the same thing); it probably is improved, if for no other reason than the land mix and count is better.

However, the bigger problem I have with this argument is Jay’s summation of the deck’s viability and moreover, his reasoning behind it:

I quote:

“Is Clinic Slip and Slide Tier 1? I think the answer to this is clearly yes. Evidence of this position can be seen as Clinic Slip and Slide is a variant of a final eight deck from Grand Prix: Detroit. Right now, that defines Tier 1.”


Not only is this deck”clearly” Tier 1, right up there with Maher’s RW control, the blistering Goblin Decks and CMU-TOGIT half-slide (the presence of two slides being just about the full extent of the similarities between the two), but apparently any deck is Tier 1, if it is a variant of a final 8 deck from Detroit.

This is amazingly liberating.

For example, I was losing sleep over whether this would be a Tier 1 deck, but since it is only fourteen cards off Matt Severa top 8 deck, now I can rest easy. (The Slip and Slide is something like thirteen cards different than the CMU-TOGIT half-Slide deck, not counting the land changes – I hope that the fourteenth card doesn’t take me out of the Tier 1 Variant Zone! Lord knows I wouldn’t want to risk playing a bad deck.)

Let’s take a look at some other close decks, shall we?

3 Goblin Burrows

21 Mountain

4 Goblin Goon

4 Gempalm Incinerator

4 Goblin Piledriver

4 Goblin Sledder

4 Goblin Warchief

2 Siege-Gang Commander

2 Searing Flesh

4 Skirk Prospector

4 Rock Jockey

4 Goblin War Strike

Can you see the synergy with the Jockeys here? Turn 3 Warchief, turn 4 Piledriver, Jockey! Ow! And once we get in the early beats, we seal it up with the Goblin War Strike to the dizzome (after all, there are thirty goblins here!). In this variant, Siege-Gang is just too slow; I get the same bang out of the Warstrike for”R” instead of”RR3+(R1*X)+sacrifice” where X is half the amount of damage you want to do. As the big finisher, I have the Flesh to give me game against the Form decks and the mono-white decks that you can never quite kill. Sweet, huh?

And speaking of Form, I knew there was a way I could”fun-up” Shvartsman’s Bad Form Deck – but again, I wasn’t sure it would be Tier 1 until now:

4 Temple of the False God

4 Forgotten Cave

4 Tranquil Thicket

12 Mountain

7 Forest

4 Gempalm Incinerator

2 Goblin Dynamo

4 Krosan Tusker

4 Lay Waste

4 Lightning Rift

4 Claws of Wirewood

4 Shock

4 Starstorm

3 Form of the Dragon

Look! We have added four cycling cards to the Rift deck by moving into R/G! That has to be good. Since we added Tuskers to speed up land development and diversify our creature threat base, and since everyone is playing Wing Shards anyway so we don’t want to attack ever with a lonely Rorix, in this variant we’ve changed the alternative win condition to Goblin Dynamo – he never needs to attack, and with all the lands we have, look out! Fireball is some good, I hear. We were changing the Shocks to Carbonizes to help out against Zombie Bidding, but then we decided that it would be departing too much from Alex’s vision. So to remain a true”variant” and ensure that we are a Tier 1 deck, we left ’em in.

I honestly think that Pod People may have eaten Jay’s brain.

How could Jay, who has garnered so much historical respect – who built freaking Sligh, for goodness sakes – who is renowned among the old guard for introducing the ideas of curve and to a large extent, tempo to the masses, so consistently make these incomprehensible and indefensible statements?

This kind of statement was referred to by my clique in college as a”Theory of the Wrong”: Something that sounds good and logical until you think about it. For example, a penny is an easy coin to swallow because it is one of the smallest coins sounds like a reasonable theory… But it is actually stupid. It’s not easy to swallow because it’s one of the smallest coins; it’s easy to swallow because it is small. If the Theory of the Wrong was correct, then a Jetta would be easy to swallow because it was one of the smallest Volkswagens, and Rhode Island would be easy to swallow because its one of the smallest states.

Similarly, a deck isn’t Tier 1 because it is a variant of a Top 8 deck at Detroit. I don’t think it is Tier I, myself, but if it is (and I guess it could be, I dunno) there are certainly independent and articulable reasons that it is – and if it isn’t, there are articulable reasons for that, too.

Come on Jay, you are better than this.

Ahhhh, The Language!

I am all for the broadening of the standard volume of language typically used in tournament reports – makes them much more interesting to read. But if you are going to use fifty-cent words, please take the time to know what the hell they mean. For example,”erstwhile” does not mean”while.” It means”former” or”in the past.”

Okay, you got me: I am probably complaining about thirteen-year-olds here. After each of these articles when I grouse about grammar or structure or Ragnarok (my favorite forums poster ever), I get at least a handful of emails advising me to”chill out” and lauding my efforts in”making fun of a Small Child.” But hey, you want to use the college-level language, use it like, um, well… Not a college person, since a goodly portion of college students can’t use an apostrophe correctly, let alone structure a sentence. Use the language like, well heck, someone who actually has some proficiency in the language. You know, you don’t have to use the fifty-cent words. Simple words work fine too.

And hey, while we are on the literary front, let me anger a few people by telling you how much I despise – DESPISE – William Faulkner…“But,” you Magic literati exclaim”Faulkner is one of the greatest writers of his time! Universally respected!” – humbug: being forced to read The Bear in AP English was one of the worst experiences of my high school career; not worst in the way you might associate with being pantsed in front of that girl you had the crush on, the one with the hair the color of wheat, but not wheat as you might see it on a summer day, but rather the color that would shine off the stalks on the third weekend of Autumn, when the sky is slightly overcast and the wind rustles the field like some sort of surreal Rockwellian landscape come to life and the next thing you expect to see is one of the ghost-like Black Sox emerging from the rows onto that lovingly mowed diamond dropped straight out of heaven, a square of emerald green, or maybe a green like that of the shell of a turtle poking its head tentatively out of a pond at much this same time, but in a place totally removed from here, to hear the chirping of the crickets and bullywugs with the fond hopes of catching an unsuspecting skitterbug or drosefly, but which instead slinks back into the water to escape the oppressive humidity in that catstail and bulrush heavy fenling, yea, or a dappled green perhaps, given the condition of the sky on that October day, which is behaving exactly as you remember, threatening a momentary, almost ephemeral shower, and making everything look about two shades darker right at that breaking point between afternoon and dusk, when you can just see the little dust swirls rising from the worn path back into the wheat (or between the bases) that dance their frenzied little dance upon the soft eddies of the wind and then, just at their climax, disappear like the other ghosts you expect to see emerging at any moment, but which will never really come; no, not like that, but in the way that you might associate with having the thumb on your right hand repeatedly whacked with a ball peen hammer – not a modern, clean, sleek hammer with the cold forged, one piece, design and the gray rubber safe-t-grip handle and bright yellow coloring which is, I suspect, so that you can find your hammer in the squeaky ancient tool closet under the stairs using only the dim shafts of light which filter through the gaps in the hand laid staircase making up the sloped ceiling of the storeroom, past the dust raised by your disturbance of a place that lay, until now, in a state of blissful yet questioning slumber for a long, but indeterminate period, or perhaps intended to help you disassociate the sleek, cool, new hammer from its historical roots, as a tool used by craftsmen and cabinet makers, by coopers and boatswains, by carpenters and handymen, instead calling forth its association with modern Technology and Advancement and Aerodynamic Design and The Modern, not that kind of hammer, but rather by one of those hand-made lovingly used old-world hammers with the slightly misshapen iron head, scarred by its long days of use – framing a house, building a fence or finishing that rocking horse late one snowy Christmas evening – the worn handle, which fits your hand like an old willow fishing rod or a favorite stickball bat used to send innumerable firm, pink, high-bounce, Spaldeens to their final rest over top of the Angry Man’s fence which runs up against the far end of the rubble strewn handball court, attesting to the tool’s experience and reflecting the hundreds and hundreds of swings it has endured on projects of labor, projects of love, but most recently, smashing the Hell out of your thumb while you are told that Faulkner is the greatest thing since sliced bread, when you know that he is sh*t. So in any case, I don’t like him.


Over on Brainburst, the Alpha Lackey Charles Mosseau had this to say about Kibler conceding matches to Neil Reeves and Jon Finkel at Nationals:

“…and Ladies and Gentlemen, there is not a single damn game in the world that is played at the competitive level of a ‘National Championships,’ where you could casually report that a player went on an early rampage before mentioning – almost as an afterthought – that this guy conceded to two of his friends.

Let me reiterate that. Not one game, not one. Every other game played at that competitive a level would easily have this labelled [sic] as collusion and it would be wrong.”

This is untrue.

For example, in Cycling, they even have a term for a teammate who pushes a teammate over or gives up his other position to benefit another teammate:

DOMESTIQUE: A team rider who will sacrifice individual performance to work for a designated teammate. A pawn. A support rider in a racing team. He may give up his bike or wheel, or collect food for the team leader, sacrificing his own place in a race.

An article about the Harvard cycling team also emphasizes the team nature of cycling, even though individuals are given the awards for high finishes:

Harvard’s endgame strategy has law student Nathan Drake leading a”pace-line” of three cyclists riding in single file, their wheels almost touching. Out in front, he breaks the oncoming wind, creating a slipstream for dental student Dane St. John and Brent Plater of the Kennedy School of Government; riding on his aerodynamic coattails, they go as fast as he while working only about seventy percent as hard. Drake is pulling them along at a lung-searing 35-mile-per-hour pace that no one can sustain for more than a couple hundred meters. He is breathing raggedly and his legs feel ready to explode; St. John and Plater are pedaling furiously but enduring no such hellish torments. Eventually Drake”blows up,” utterly spent, and peels off to coast out the race, where he will finish about thirtieth. St. John takes over and does the same thing, pulling Plater along on his rear wheel until he collapses and pulls aside. Then it’s Plater’s job to hold off the rest of the field in a mad sprint to the finish line. Rising from his saddle, he manhandles his bike and handily wins the race. Although Plater is the official winner, the real triumph clearly belongs to the Harvard University Cycling Association (HUCA).

(Emphasis added)

Here, two cyclists give up any chance of winning to push their teammate over by allowing him to”draft,” that is, ride in their wake and get the benefit of their slipstream.

Also, Mike Flores pointed out to me that in Fencing, it is not unusual for a teammate to concede to another teammate to either get that teammate into the top 16, get a better teammate to have a bye in the top 16, or otherwise improve their matchup in the top 16 by changing the post final-round seedings for the top 16. This is because while Fencing is individually awarded, teammates often play to win as a team – that is, the more of them do well, the better, and if only one can do well, then the rest of the team makes sure that he or she does as well as possible. Fencing is an important example, because it too uses Swiss rounds, cut to single elimination – and as in Magic, in fencing, strategic concessions can load the top 8 with your teammates and generate better potential matchups. In fact, conceding to another fencer is often considered honorable, and a show of respect (primarily among epee-ists) in that the Swiss rounds are considered”preliminary” and you are admitting that you each consider the other worthy of making the elimination rounds, and that you will fence when it”actually matters.”

Moreover, I believe that the French (at least, and I imagine others) have used this tactic in Olympic-level fencing competition – or so says my friend Eric, who fenced (sabre) at Penn State, and seems far more versed at this particular subject than I.

I am sure there are other sports that are played at a”National championship” or higher level in which this sort of behavior occurs and is accepted. The same”drafting” certainly goes on in Auto Racing, and I am fairly sure that clogging up a pack of competitors to slow the field down and allow a teammate with the lead to extend it, or a teammate who is lagging to catch up occurs not only in competitive cycling and racing, but the related sport of motocross.

What is the solution here? Well, that question implies that there is a problem… And in my opinion, there isn’t one. One motocross competitor put it this way when an unteamed competitor complained about the clogging tactics of he and his teammate:

Get a Teammate.

Why is this a problem? If Kibler thinks that by conceding to Neil, he will get Neil into the Top 8, and Kibler happens to have a favorable matchup vs. Neil. Kibler has just done something outwardly noble (to Neil, at least) which will engender future goodwill, while being inwardly selfish – stocking the top 8 with easier competition for himself. Kibler, by conceding to Neil, was improving his chances to win in the top 8. Maybe he wants to play against someone who might otherwise not have made top 8. Maybe he wants particular competition. Maybe he wants the guy he is potentially knocking out to be knocked out, because the deck that person is playing is bad news for Kibler. What if Kibler’s brain is fried, and he wants to relax rather than play?

And even if none of these scenarios is true, why shouldn’t Kibler be able to help out his friends?

Almost everyone who has had even a modicum of tournament success has drawn with someone in the last round of a tournament when they were locked for Top 8, but the last round opponent needed that draw to make it. Why? Because you were a good guy, and you got to tuck away a goodwill chip, which might get you a draw or concession when you need it in the future.

In college football, should a team stop scoring when it has an insurmountable lead? Would Mousseau say”no,” since in order to keep the sport”pure” each team should try as hard as possible all the time, and to hell with the ramifications of running up the score on an outmatched opponent. How about when a professional football team has already won its division with one game left in the season, but their Quarterback is a little sore from last week? The team they are playing has an outside shot at the playoffs, and if their opponent does win, another team – maybe the other best team in the conference – will be eliminated from the playoffs. Clearly the playoff-qualified team cannot simply concede. But what about just not playing its best players, holding them out because of”fear of injury?” Would it be okay for Kibler to play, but resolve in his head to not play any Rotlung Reanimators or Corrupts game 1, and to board them out game 2?

Now, these examples aren’t really totally on point (the Rotlungs certainly aren’t going to get injured), but they involve similar ethical issues – honest competition, trying your hardest – and I think they have some bearing here.

The reason that most other sports don’t have a concession issue is that few of them use the Magic tournament format – Swiss cut to single elimination. If a person were to concede at any point in a strict elimination tournament he or she would be, well, eliminated – so this is never a realistic option. However, in at least a few instances (some of which parallel Magic’s tournament structure, and some of which do not), strategic concession does occur, and in many instances teammate sacrifice is a large part of the game.

Part of playing in tournaments is accepting the fact that there are going to be a lot of draws, and an occasional concession, in the last round – and that if you aren’t one of the people drawing, odds are you aren’t making top 8. Okay, that’s not entirely true; I would say that in any given PTQ, at least two to three of the people that make the Top 8 didn’t ID in the last round, because they needed a win (and got it) or they got paired down or somesuch. But I can tell you that almost everyone that could draw, did draw – and you knew that going in this might happen, and you hoped you would be the one to be drawing, but accepted that you might also get drawn out.

Its part of the game, folks. Deal with it. And get a teammate.

Unless You Are Named John Shuler…

Please stop writing fake tournament reports. They suck, and are not funny and they are no longer original and if you write them, bear in mind that everyone hates and resents you for it. It’s like reviving the Pet Rock every time someone tries it. The first time you saw one, you said,”Hey, how neat!”

The second time:”Ah ha ha, um, ha – how retro.”

All the rest of the times:”Good Lord, make it stop! Can the author have honestly thought this was amusing?”

We as the Magic community should discourage future fake tournament reports by promising to strongly ridicule the author of any such items in the future. I know I will – and I hope you will, too. Well, unless it’s Shuler.

Flores – The Comic Book Idol?

You heard it here first kids. You know Flores can write, but did you know that he can draw also? Yep, Mike is a comic book guy, and while he does some randomly semi important marketing thingy for a living, he would much rather be writing about magic and drawing da comix, if it would pay the bills. Well, a website called Comic Book Resources is running an American Idol-style contest to find a new comic artist, and MichaelJ has made the initial cut from 166 to 10 with this sampling of his work (click on the blank thumbnails and they will be fully viewable).

(Actually, it’s a lot better than I thought it would be – who knew Flores was not only a talented writer, but a damned fine artist, too? – The Ferrett, impressed since he can’t even do stick figures…)

It is a five-week process, with votes each Wednesday. Basically, there is an assigned topic each week, and the contestants have a few days to post their work. I think they focus on sequencing work (actual laid-out comic pages) more than pinup work (the glitzy covers/dramatic full pagers), but there are at least three of four pretty good people in the contest. In any case, this is MichaelJ’s first week, and he could sure use your support! Why don’t you click on the mise to vote for him! (I think it is the second thread, entitled”Sticky: Poll: ROUND 1 – VOTE HERE!”)

WAIT! You must register there first, but it only takes a second – just like registering for the StarCityGames forums – click on”register” at the top of the screen from the link, then vote away!


I understand that I am a shameless vote gatherer, but hey, Mike is an important part of our community, this is an important contest to him, and heck, he’s pretty good at it to boot. Go on, click over. I’ll still be here when you get back.


Probably Overstepping Myself

Ahhhh, Wolfgang Eder. Very mixed feelings here. I was one of the idiots who actually watched the first few hours of the live webcast from Worlds, and got to see the Eder/Humphries deciding game 5 live. Let me give you the situation, and see what play you might have made.

Humphries is playing U/G, and is at four with an Aquamoeba, two forests, and an island (all untapped). Wonder is in the grumper and Hump has two cards in hand. Eder is playing Goblin-Bidding, and at three with three tapped mountains and an untapped swamp in play. He also controls two Goblin Warchiefs, a Sparksmith, and a Goblin Sledder.

Humphries attacks and Eder cannot block thanks to the Wonder. Hump pitches Arrogant Wurm to switch the ‘Moeba to a 3/1.

What do you do?











Well, setting aside what is in your hand for the moment, you have a couple of reasonable choices. It is clear you have to Smith, or you will die. So, the relevant choices come down to when you Smith, and for how many, and as a corollary, which Goblins do you sacrifice to the Sledder so you don’t die to your own Smith?

With respect to when you Smith, the answer seems pretty clear; the only choices are in response to the activation of the ‘Moeba, or following the activation of the ‘Moeba – and really, this should be a non-choice. If you do it in response, the ‘Moeba cannot be saved, you will not take any damage during combat and you can afford to Smith for two (putting you to one) and saving two goblins. If you wait until Arrogant Wurm resolves, you will definitely take one from the ‘Moeba in combat (because you cannot Smith it for three, since you will die), and the best you can do is ping it for one to force the switchback by Hump. This also means that you can only keep one Goblin, and you know that your opponent will have an Arrogant Wurm back to block.

Got all that? Well, Eder chose the latter; See, even people Much Better Than Us in the Top 8 of Worlds make mistakes sometimes!

Okay, let’s let that one go, but pursue the damage control on the turn. Say that you just made this critical error that will likely cost you around five grand. While I can’t tell your hand (Eder’s hand was not revealed) I can tell you that it contained either a Warchief or a Sledder (or both) (since he played both on his final turn). You have to sac three of your goblins not to die to the Smith; which Goblin do you keep, knowing you have to mise an out and push through four damage? Well, it’s clearly not the Sparksmith, since his ability is useless now that you are at one, so he goes to the bin.

So do you keep a Warchief or a Sledder?








Well, Eder kept the other one.

Yep, he kept Sledder. Now, this I don’t understand. The timing thing I also don’t understand, but I have been told by quite a few people that Eder is a more casual player than the usual T8 competitor, and maybe he wasn’t really playing much when madness was an issue, so I can kinda see the error there happening… But he had to have known what cards were in his deck that could win him the game.

If he keeps Sledder, with the mana he has available, his only out is to cast Warchief + Piledriver. Dark Banishing doesn’t help, since he has only one point of damage on the table, and will die next turn no matter what to the ‘Moeba. So, assuming he had the Warchief in hand he gave himself four possible outs (Piledrivers). If you keep the Warchief, however, the number of outs you have goes up dramatically. First, Siege-Gang Commander is an auto-win with the Warchief – and Warchief lets you cast this guy for the four mana you have out. Also, by keeping Warchief on the board (again, assuming the Warchief in hand) Piledriver is still an out (cast Warchief for RR, cast Piledriver for R and win). Same case with the Sharpshooter (since he will be hasty) (cast Warchief for RR, cast Shooter for R, swing with both Warchiefs, doing two, ping, untap when a Warchief dies, ping for the win).

If he has the Sledder in hand, it seems painfully obvious that he has to keep Warchief to give himself the Siege-Gang out, and moreover, to give whatever goblins he has or draws haste – if he instead has Sledder in hand and draws Piledriver, keeping Warchief is again correct, in that he can cast both for the same win.

I am sure there are a bunch more permutations here, based in large part on the other card in Eder’s hand. Maybe Eder rattled himself by screwing up on the ‘Moeba timing, but you have to know what your outs are! Keeping Sledder – four outs (assuming Warchief in hand); keeping Warchief – a minimum of ten outs, assuming Warchief in hand). Given that the Top 8 is untimed, this should not have been that hard to come up with.

All this being said, I know that I have never been in a match with as much money at stake, or under the glaring stagelights (but since I am terrible, this is not much of a surprise), so who knows what I would have done wrong? I am sure I was an amusing sight screaming the right play at Eder over my CRT at 4:40 on Sunday morning. My favorite Eder story, though? After the loss to Humphries, Brian David Marshall was trying to track Eder down for the Top 8 interviews, and couldn’t find him. Some people speculated that he bugged out ASAP because he was embarrassed by his error. In fact, however, Eder had run to make the signup for a Sealed deck tournament that was giving its last call as he was finishing up the Top 8! Now that is a man who loves his Magic.

In any event, congratulations to Eder and all of the other Top 8ers at worlds – heck of a job, boys.

A Few Articles I Could Do Without

I know I have been playing since the Stone Age, and thus was around to see all these cards in actual play, but the”All-Time MVP” series on The Sideboard seems like a huge waste of time to me. Hey look, here is a card that was insanely powerful that you can’t play with. Isn’t that neat? Bleah.

I hate these articles, which is weird, in that I like most of the things Omeed has done. These seem like pablum.

And if you are posting an article about your new deck, and it wins two-thirds of the time or better against every deck in the field, please do not burden us. It doesn’t. Either your playtesting is terrible, or your friend’s playtesting is terrible, or you extrapolated results from like four games, or you don’t understand how the gauntlet decks play against your deck. Okay, I guess there is a chance that you discovered Necropotence or something, but no one will believe you – and to be honest, why would you want to tell anyone anyway if you did?

I wouldn’t. I would want to just start winning tournaments.


Well kids, that’s all for now. I imagine I will vent about this Magic 2.0 debacle at some point, but further box-packing calls. Make sure you vote for Mike in the Comic Book Idol Contest – and as George Carlin is fond of saying, if you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.

Jonathan Becker

Tongo’s Counsel

[email protected]