Insert Column Name Here – Storn’s Inflatable Rootwalla

Read The Ferrett every Monday... at StarCityGames.com!The whole Masters thing is still leading me down the primrose path of strange memories of old cards I used to play with. Unfortunately, this nostalgia seems to keep getting in my eyes.

The whole Masters thing is still leading me down the primrose path of strange memories of old cards I used to play with. Unfortunately, this nostalgia seems to keep getting in my eyes.

Here’s what I got:

Solid Playables: Exile, Heart of Light, Order of Leitbur, Wild Griffin

Kinda light here. We have a lot of weenies here, but not enough help to graft them all into a frightening team. Order of Leitbur is obviously fine if we’re running heavy White, and plus it always makes me smile. You see, back in THE DAY, when we were still old enough that purchasing beer without a fake ID was an awesome thrill, we referred to the Order as — you ready for this awesomeness? — an “Order of Lite Beer.”

“I’m giving you a beer,” they’d say as they turned the Order sideways. And we’d laaaaugh, and laaaugh, and laugh. And then cry, because aside from the Order and Hymn to Tourach, which were commons so we were swimming in the damn things, Fallen Empires sucked so badly that we felt like idiots for buying seventy million packs of it.

Exile always makes me happy, though after that short list the quality tumbles.

Heart of Light is about as low a “removal” spell can get while still making me play it. I get a little tiny shiver in my gut, saying, “This is going to suck.” And sure enough, I have to Heart of Light a Hunted Wumpus, and now my opponent has this gigantic wall I cannot kill, stalling me for long enough for him to find his enchantment removal and kill me. But that’s better than losing immediately to a Hunted Wumpus, I suppose, so I still play it. But I’m not happy.

Solid Playables: Aven Windreader, Counsel of the Soratami, Giant Tortoise, Hydroblast, Telekinesis, Telling Time

Telekinesis is just proof of how randomly annoying Magic used to be. Okay, so Blue gets a spell that’s a critter-specific Fog, that taps it, and then it doesn’t untap for not one, but two turns. I remember playing against this damn thing, and back in the days before we thought about, you know, counters, we always lost track.

“I untap it.”

“Wait. Didn’t you Telekinesis it last turn?”

“No, that was three turns ago.”

“So it’s free.”

“Wait. Maybe it was two turns ago. What happened?”

And then we’d be like the dang CSI crew, dissecting our past plays move-by-move to try to remember exactly when the Telekinesis had happened so that we could determine whether Todd could untap his Craw Wurm. How ridiculous.

The Blue here is decent. We have a little card drawing, some Red hosing, and pretty much no creatures worth using ourside of the Aven Windreader and the colossal “Baby Got Hardshelled Back” of the Giant Tortoise. It’s got potential if paired, maybe, but the tension of “I want early game plays in Tortoise and Telling Time” versus the obvious mucho need for Blue mana here makes me think that maybe this isn’t a good fit.

Solid Playables: Afflict, Dusk Imp, Feast or Famine, Mind Rot, Order of the Ebon Hand, Phyrexian Boon, Soul Feast, Thrull Retainer, Unholy Strength

Before you ask: Oh yes. We tried to turn “Order of the Ebon Hand” into some sort of alcohol-related pun so that we could trade jokes about White and Black beer. But it never came. We were so lame.

This is great Black, except that it has no creatures. I mean, seriously, there are three creatures in all of Black, and all of them are weenies. This is a strong candidate for a splash, but not a main color, I don’t think.

Also, please do not forget that Feast or Famine has another mode. I’ve won at least one game by end-of-turning a 2/2 Zombie into play to win a tight race, and another by warping in a token to block some 2/2-with-an-ability (I think a Mindstab Thrull) that my opponent was surprised by. It’s something you want to use to blow up stuff 90% of the time, but don’t forget that 10%.

Oh, and Phyrexian Boon? It seems that everyone is playing Black. What’s a guy to do? It’s still removal. Even if we really don’t have any Black guys to put this on.

Solid Playables: Bloodrock Cyclops, Brothers of Fire, Fissure, Goblin Mutant, Shock, Thundering Giant

Well, at least we have creatures here… And three nice removal spells. Brothers of Fire is theoretically a good card, though honestly I don’t see him working that much because everyone a) kills him on sight, or b) laughs because you don’t have enough Mountains. I kind of think of him as my “Summon Removal” spell, because if your opponent has weenies he will work overtime to destroy the Brothers. That said, when they’ve stuck, they do tend to win games, assuming you have the life and mana to spare.

Bloodrock Cyclops is something I’m cooling slightly on. He’s good in a tempo deck, and decent in the early game even if he dies the next turn (why should your opponent attack with his Craw Wurm and risk a combat trick when you know I’m going to block anyway?), but there are a lot of times when he’s a liability. I still am enamored of him, though.

Fissure: Expensive but good. Wow, and I’m sure you didn’t know that by now.

Incidentally, Marton Stromgald was my Goblin champion for a long time. He led the hordes into play, making then all huge. In Sealed, I like the idea of him, but I’d want a deck that attacked with a lot of little guys, since he’s so vulnerable and useless without two or three guys on either side of him. I’m not sure I’d play him here.

Plus, we’re low on critters overall thus far. Can the creature-riffic color of Green rescue us?

Solid Playables: Fyndhorn Elves, Grizzly Bears (kinda), Llanowar Sentinel, Nature’s Lore, Rootwalla, Shambling Strider, Singing Tree, Spined Wurm

…why yes it can! And it does it with a theme! Did you notice?

Look. Carnivorous Plant. Singing Tree. What more proof do you need that this deck is a Little Shop Of Horrors?

Bad puns aside, this fills in what we were looking for. A double-Shambling Strider and Spined Wurm give us some much-needed fatties, and Fyndhorn Elves and Nature’s Lore give us much-needed acceleration into those much-needed fatties.

I adore Rootwalla, mainly because I used to play Magic with the renowned roleplaying artist Storn Cook. And Storn loved to play with his Rootwalla. And we loved to make innuendos about it.

“Are you inflating your Rootwalla?” we’d ask, waggling our eyebrows evilly.

“Why yes I am,” he’d reply, stonefaced. “But I’m afraid I can only do it once per turn.”

“Yet those are forests you control,” we’d shoot back. “Surely, they’re full of hard wood to help you inflate your Rootwalla.”

By the time I left Ann Arbor for Alaska, the phrase “Storn’s Inflatable Rootwalla” was permanently embedded in my head. And I was in a band, there’s a 50/50 shot I’d name it “Storn’s Inflatable Rootwalla.”

Also, we have Wanderlust — another great Ann Arbor hit. My friend Shannon used to play with Elephant Grass and Wanderlust decks. She never attacked anyone, she just made it so you couldn’t attack her and then pinged you to death.

She was also very cute. She’d slink down behind her cards and whisper, “I’m hiding in the grass.” Which was strangely adorable. How could you attack someone cute like that? I certainly didn’t. At least not until I whipped out my Marton Stromgald.

And The Rest
Solid Playables: Adun Oakenshield, Dragon Engine, Zuran Orb

Don’t think I don’t see the combo here. Yes, Zuran Orb and Crucible of Worlds would be an awesome combination. Yet I cannot do it. For one thing, that’s two slots devoted to a combo in a Sealed deck, where only one half of the combo is independently playable. And for another, we banned Zuran Orb in our local casual group for quite some time because it was incredibly annoying and rarely won games.

I probably should play the Zorb here. But it fills me with a rising sickness. I remember the Zorb Wars of 96, back when everyone had a Zorb and every game went on for seven million turns because the Zorb would get you twenty extra life at the cost of hamstringing all your future plans, and then you died anyway but it took longer. I can’t do it.

It’s a weakness.

In any case, Zorb aside, I think the combo of Red/Green really can’t be denied here. It’s got good creatures with synergies. If we’re going to splash, as I think we should, fetching the best of Black’s removal-riffic spells also helps. Here’s what I went with:

1 Adun Oakenshield
1 Afflict
1 Bloodrock Cyclops
1 Brothers of Fire
1 Carnivorous Plant
1 Dragon Engine
1 Dwarven Soldier
1 Feast or Famine
1 Fissure
7 Forest
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Goblin Mutant
1 Grizzly Bears
1 Llanowar Sentinel
1 Mind Rot
6 Mountain
1 Nature’s Lore
1 Phyrexian Boon
1 Rootwalla
2 Shambling Strider
1 Shock
1 Singing Tree
1 Spined Wurm
4 Swamp
1 Thundering Giant

And how’d I do? Surprisingly poorly. I thought this was a strong deck, but it went 5-5 out of the first ten matches I played in (and I played a lot of them that night, for my wife and myself were watching Gone With The Wind on television — that’s one long-ass movie). I went 2-3 in the league itself, which was wretched. And do you know why?

“Your play skill.” Undoubtedly, that is a contributing factor; some days, I feel like the only Magic writer on the planet who admits to consistently screwing up, secure in the knowledge that it wasn’t the universe that defeated me. (Then I read Tiago Chan and feel better.)

But what killed the deck dead as far as I was concerned was the lack. Can you see it? It hits me about one out of every four decks, and when it does I cry a little inside, just like I did when I opened my last pack of Fallen Empires and realized there were no good cards:

What the hell do I do about artifacts and enchantments?

Seriously. In these colors, I have one friggin’ card — and that’s a proactive card. I got hammered by a Loxodon Warhammer, then smashed a Dragon Engine (I had Feast of Famine in hand, which was useless) with a Whispersilk Cloak on it. Ivory Tower pulled a guy up and out of contention during a stalemate, and everything from Dehydration to Roots took out my big guys. (Or, more embarrassingly, I’d lose to a Wanderlust on my Carnivorous Plant. Which I effectively did.) I usually did well in Game One, but the second and third games often came down to me doing jack-all when they hauled out the Icy Manipulator or Rod of Ruin the Tawnos’s Coffin.

Plus, the mana’s a little janky. We’re in three colors, and many of the cards require two colors to play. I got mana-screwed fairly regularly, and had to mulligan a lot, as was my due. But that’s not an excuse so much as it’s just what happens when you go for power over consistency. When I won, it was on the basis of strong cards.

It’s not a terrible deck, to be sure. But it has some weaknesses, and that’s where they lie.

The Weekly Plug Bug
The party. It’s been going for awhile. We’ve seen some strange drinking games. And now, Tanner’s plans are beginning to come to fruition as the first victim hits the floor.

No, I’m honestly not kidding.

Signing off,
The Ferrett
[email protected]
The Here Edits This Here Guy