Now, I could end the article there and be pretty much done with this week’s offering, but I think Omeed would get perturbed and let it slip out in not-so-subtle ways toward the end of his columns:
"’ A brief insanity,
a string of senseless columns:
Why post this moron?’
– my latest haiku
– should have been flavor text for Survival of the Fittest"
[That is SO not a haiku! -ed]
So to avoid such vicious barbs, I should probably come up with something more, er, detailed. (But before I do, a customer service announcement: I do not wish for the syllable stresses necessary in the first poem to lead to mispronunciation of my name. A few readers have asked, apparently in anticipation of a question on "Who Wants to Win A Million Dollars?,” about its ethnicity and correct articulation.
Alongi is not pronounced "A Long Guy." It is not pronounced "A Long Ki." And it is most assuredly NOT pronouced "A Lungy." The G is soft, as it is in "apology" and "mange".
Still lost? Think of it like this: you are in the desert. Ahead, you see what may be a mirage – a beautiful, well-kept suburban home, complete with rose garden and three-car garage. Being used to an urban setting, perhaps – and you folks on the range will just have to kick the cow pie off yer boots, slap your spit, hunt your dog, and stick with me here for a moment – and being rather thirsty and dry, you are surprised at the wide expanse of well-manicured grass laid out like an emerald carpet about the abode. There’s a sprinkler system, water going, perhaps the sound of a mower in the distant background.
You take in the sight of deep green, the splash of hose-water on your face, the earthy smell of cut grass, and exclaim,
"A lawn! Gee!"
Thusly I should appear to you, having been properly summoned. But next time, stress the word "lawn".)
And still, I have not buttressed my initial assertion regarding my hatred of white.
I dedicate the following diatribe to Carl, in good fun, of course.
I SHOULD like white. White has some of my favorite spells, the take-no-prisoners, let’s-all-suffer-together board clearers that take the air out of overextended players’ balloons. Wrath of God. (You GO, God.) Armageddon. Cataclysm. Balance. I should like this color!
But it’s the…oh, I don’t know, the PRISSINESS of it all, that when you come after a white mage, they give you one of two responses:
(WHITE MAGES: Circle one:)
A) "Prevent the damage."
B) "Gain 40 life in response."
Let me tell you what these responses remind me of:
"PREVENT THE DAMAGE." This is the white mage telling you, "what you are doing doesn’t count. It never happened. Jump up and down and scream all you like, but you still won’t get to watch Love Boat." (Another Freudian nugget for you all.) Or imagine you are in a retail store: "We’re sorry you paid good money for this [medicine, bug spray, fireball, whatever]. It simply won’t do any good. No, you can’t have your money back. Customer satisfaction is not our business."
Sure, blue does this too, with Counterspell and bounce, but the blue mage has the decency to use a card that says, "stop that spell" or "bounce that permanent." They don’t hide behind protection and redirection and fancy schmancy stuff. You ask, they say no. You ask the white mage, they give you a Clintonesque "that depends what your definition of ‘damage’ is."
"GAIN 40 LIFE IN RESPONSE." There is no purpose to white life gain, other than survival. White mages don’t translate life into a valuable resource, other than more time. "Hang on, I don’t have the answer yet, give me a moment!" It’s like Bilbo under the Misty Mountains, squeaking at Gollum for more time to answer his riddle, and coming up with the right stall by pure luck. Then their path to victory is asking some stupid question, like what does Lin Sivvi have in her pocket?
So when it comes down to it, white mages are a mixture of "it never happened" and "I’ve got it around here somewhere…" They have no sense of purpose, no clear value added. Why are you in this game, you want to ask. Is your goal to reduce me to zero life, or get yourself to 150? What time is it, anyway? Yawn…
I respect white weenie, with its balance of board-clearers and tough hordes of soldiers and paladins. I respect splash-white for solid permanent control like Swords to Plowshares and Disenchant. And every once in a while, I’ll see a card like Eye for an Eye, Exile, or Blinding Angel come out that shows that white CAN come out to play.
But prevention and life gain have made white prissy. The white mage won’t get his or her hands dirty. Direct damage? Goodness no, that’s not nice, someone might get hurt. Fat creatures? Wingless beasts need not apply. Creatures with drawbacks? Not in OUR exclusive club. If it doesn’t gain you life, have protection from a color, or redirect damage, white has no use for it.
Lifegain. Double Pah.
Okay, so let’s talk about my revised white lifegain deck.
About six months ago, I wanted to find a multiplayer use for Hatred. Having tons of white cards that I rarely used, I decided to run my Hatreds with life gain. Thrashing Wumpus wasn’t out and I had only one Crypt Rats and one Spirit Link at the time, so I didn’t feature those cards. Instead, I went mainly white (Soul Warden, Congregate, Shaman-en-Kor, etc.) with black splashed for the late game. Gallowbraid and Morinfen, along with any odd creature that got through with Hatred, were my paths to victory. The thing was a wrecking ball in team play, workable in chaos, and (I hope) fun for everyone, since even though I wasn’t taking the enormous risks a pure suicide-black deck was taking, I was spending every bit of life I was gaining, and a well-timed burn, Swords, or bounce would really mess with me. I played this deck for a couple of months, and then decided to pull it apart to use some of the cards elsewhere.
Fast forward, and here we are in the age of Wumpi. This time, I know I have to go majority black, with white splash.
The base of the deck, as I’ve constructed it so far:
4x Thrashing Wumpus
3x Sarcomancy (will acquire fourth, soon)
2x Phyrexian Processor
3x Hatred (Get it? I HATE white? Good gag, eh?)
4x Spirit Link
4x Flickering Ward
3x Congregate (have fourth but can’t bring myself to put four of this card in any deck)
So far, it’s an inefficient design. I actually have about 3 Plains in the deck; the rest of the white mana all comes into play tapped, since even though the cards are inexpensive, I can never play them (creature enchantments) on the first turn. It may still work, though, and I’m piecing the rest together this week. That’s what I love about multiplayer: inefficient, fun designs are completely doable.
The Wards are there primarily to protect against red and blue removal in the wake of Hatred. I wish I could run the instant Cho-Manno’s Blessing, but the mana requirements of Hatred, as well white’s role as a splash color, make that pretty impractical. It’s a no-win, I think, so I’m going to run the cheaper version first.
My dream with this deck will be to run into the late game far enough, and have enough stored life-fuel, that I can attack three different opponents with three different creatures and cast three different Hatreds to take them all out simultaneously. Here’s hoping!
"Please, get out of here."
– John McCain to Maria Shriver
– should have been flavor text on Wrath of God
(Okay, Omeed, that’s the last time, I promise! Your trademark is your trademark. Goodness knows I don’t want to see you impinging on MY territory by throwing in endless digressions and silly jokes.)