Before I start, here’s a secret for you:
If you’re running Firefox 2.0x or Internet Explorer 7, you should be able to add in our new OpenSearch Plugin. That’s just a fancy way of saying that if you have a little box in your browser where you can search for things at various websites (I have mine set to search Amazon, Google, Wikipedia, and IMDB), you can add us to your toolbar to search for Magic cards!
To add us in Firefox, go to your drop-down menu that lets you select from the various sites (you should see a little red SCG star icon), then click “Add Magic Card Search.” (In Internet Explorer, click the little “down” arrow next to the magnifying glass, then choose “Add Magic Card Search,” and select “Add Provider” when the dialog box comes up.)
Ping! Now you can search for Magic cards right from your browser. Quite handy, that is – and thanks to Daniel Himmelstein for suggesting that I do this!
(Please note that this is something your browser implements, not StarCityGames.com – so if you can’t do it, I’ll give a decent shot at walking you through it, but it may well be that your web browser doesn’t support OpenSearch or supports it in odd ways. This is just something for fun, until such a time as I can make sure that it works everywhere.)
I’m glad I could burn off a couple of paragraphs like that, because frankly, Magic is D-E-A-D dead right now. Time Spiral? Completely mined. Tenth Edition? Um, it’s a core set, so it’s not that fascinating. We’re all just waiting for Lorwyn….
(…and while I will not reveal any of the cards that will be previewed on Magicthegathering.com, suffice it to say that there are a lot of good casual cards coming down the pike. I’m tentatively very impressed, even as I’m not sure about the whole “Planeswalker” thing.)
So what can I do? Oh, heck, I joined a Tenth Edition League. But since I find Tenth kinda boring to play, I decided to try and make it interesting. Just to spice things up.
Here are the cards I received.
- 1 Mogg Fanatic
- 1 Hypnotic Specter
- 1 Craw Wurm
- 1 Elven Riders
- 1 Vampire Bats
- 1 Tundra Wolves
- 1 Giant Spider
- 1 Wild Griffin
- 1 Pincher Beetles
- 1 Bloodrock Cyclops
- 1 Anaba Bodyguard
- 1 Suntail Hawk
- 1 Joiner Adept
- 1 Spark Elemental
- 1 Dross Crocodile
- 1 Skyhunter Patrol
- 1 Lumengrid Warden
- 1 Yavimaya Enchantress
- 1 Severed Legion
- 1 Puppeteer
- 1 Plague Beetle
- 1 Looming Shade
- 1 Aven Cloudchaser
- 1 Crafty Pathmage
- 1 Stalking Tiger
- 1 Femeref Archers
- 1 Treasure Hunter
- 1 Elvish Berserker
- 1 Steadfast Guard
- 1 Highway Robber
- 1 Cloud Sprite
- 1 Viashino Runner
- 2 Rootwater Commando
- 1 Bloodfire Colossus
- 1 Hate Weaver
- 1 Civic Wayfinder
- 1 Fear
- 1 Terror
- 1 Firebreathing
- 1 Blaze
- 1 Incinerate
- 2 Remove Soul
- 1 Holy Day
- 1 Rampant Growth
- 1 Warrior's Honor
- 1 Uncontrollable Anger
- 1 Counsel of the Soratami
- 1 Commune with Nature
- 1 Plague Wind
- 1 Abundance
- 1 Essence Drain
- 1 Demolish
- 1 Dehydration
- 1 Shatterstorm
- 1 Cone of Flame
- 1 Stun
- 1 Bandage
- 1 Treetop Bracers
- 1 Smash
- 1 Aura Graft
- 1 Spellbook
- 1 Recollect
- 1 Telling Time
- 1 Assassinate
- 1 Cancel
Let’s take a look, shall we? A brief look.
Solid Playables: Aven Cloudchaser, Bandage, Skyhunter Patrol, Wild Griffin
Okay, a handful of fliers and a single combat trick. Not great. I’m currently down on Steadfast Guard – he’s good in a heavy White deck, but as someone you really want to pound down on turn 2 consistently (barring some solid critter pump like a Leonin Scimitar or an Uncontrollable Anger), he’s frequently not good in a mixed deck.
The rest are 1/1 guys with special abilities. 1/1 guys don’t seem to last long in this format, at least not for me.
Solid Playables: Cancel, Counsel of the Soratami, Dehydrate, Remove Soul, Telling Time
…we also have the “not-quite-solid-but-certainly-better-than-23rd” Rootwater Commando and Crafty Pathmage” to choose from, making Blue pretty deep here.
Telling Time is a card I used to hate, but I was comparing it to Brainstorm. In Tenth Edition Limited, card drawing is surprisingly potent (given that card advantage is sometimes thin on the ground), and the filtering into your deck works pretty darned well. It’s not a top-level card, but certainly good enough.
Remove Soul’s a great card to seal a deal. A lot of the big threats in this format are creatures (even more so than other Limited formats), and so about 75% of the time this is the equivalent to “Counter target spell that will kill you if it resolves.” The other 25% of the time you can use Cancel, I guess, but that makes Removal Soul potent in early and late game; if you’re stalling for time in the first three turns, counter something to slow your opponents’ onslaught, or just hold off that Hunted Wumpus.
Dehydration, on the other hand… It’s expensive, and it doesn’t usually do the job for me. My opponent always has the Naturalize (or, worse, an Aura Graft), so I get hit and then I get hit again. But among Blue’s limited options with dealing with Dudes On the Table, this ain’t bad.
What we have here is an awesome control deck… But without any actual victory conditions. That makes things kinda tricky.
Solid Playables: Assassinate, Dross Crocodile, Essence Drain, Hate Weaver, Highway Robber, Hypnotic Specter, Severed Legion, Terror
A nice set of Blackness here, but most of it demands that Black take on a starring role; you see the slew of double-Bs here (which sounds like a Bizarro bra size) in the casting cost. As usual, Black’s needy. It wants you to commit.
We have Assassinate, a.k.a., “About as low as I’ll go for a removal spell and feel good about it.” It’s sorcery speed. You have to get hit first. It’s almost never going to hit a pinger like Prodigal Pyromancer. You can regenerate. But that said, it usually works. Mostly.
Dross Crocodile is something I was hesitant about using, and yes it dies when someone sneezes, but it’s not bad on defense – whatever runs into it is probably going to die – and good on offense if you’ve cleared away enough other guys. For four mana, it’s better than you’d think. Which doesn’t make it great, mind you, but I will run it.
Plague Wind? I like it. But a card that requires me to get to nine mana had better win me the game there and then, and Plague Wind doesn’t always. s
Solid Playables: Blaze, Bloodfire Colossus, Bloodrock Cyclops, Cone of Flame, Demolish, Incinerate, Mogg Fanatic, Shatterstorm, Smash, Uncontrollable Anger, Viashino Runner
Well, this is the sort of Red you hope to open at your PTQ…. If your PTQ uses Tenth Edition Limited as the defining format, of course. But Blaze and Cone of Flame and Incinerate and Mogg Fanatic with the potential firestorm of the Colossus, well… You can burn stuff all day long.
NOTE TO NEWBIES: If you see Blaze in a Sealed deck, just think, “I’m at least splashing Red.” It’s right more often than it’s wrong, I assure you.
I hear tell that Red hates artifacts, and this Red certainly does. Shatterstorm and Demolish and Smash are a nice switch-up from my usual problem of “The three colors I’m in have no removal for this card that hoses me.” Enchantments may still pose a problem, but I have my pick of card advantage, flexibility, or global destruction… Which, given that I seem to be facing the Rod of Ruin/Icy Manipulator combo in every other game, is quite nice.
I should also add that I’m likin’ Bloodrock Cyclops more every game. Yeah, there are times you wish you could hold him back on defense (or just not run him into stupid trades), but on turn 3 on the play he’s a pretty decent dude. And he’s not bad later in the game, either, because sometimes he can forestall an attack – a 3/3 seems to be about the level of creature where people start respecting you, so if he buys you a turn of tempo that’s good, right? Right?
Solid Playables: Civic Wayfinder, Craw Wurm, Elven Riders, Giant Spider, Joiner Adept, Pincher Beetles, Rampant Growth, Recollect
Green has large creatures.
Now. What I should do, fairly clearly here, is to combine Red and Green. After all, we have large men and mana-fixing in Green, and a lot of burn in Red, and a Recollect to get that lovely Blaze back to end the game. Perhaps you splash Black for a little more destruction and for some vig on the Viashino Runner, and you have a deck!
Like I said, I’m bored.
I want something weird, and I initially put together a R/U/b deck that combines all the disruption and removal of the three most annoying colors, only to discover that I only had ten creatures. And not all good creatures, either; a full 20% of my force was the fearsome Rootwater Commando squadron, a pair of wet Arnies.
But I had tons of disruption and counterspells.
Ten creatures, though. Ten? In Tenth?
Perhaps it was a sign. I know from hard experience what running too few creatures in Limited is like; sure, you have the disruption, but so do your opponents. What happens is that you cast your guy, and he destroys it, and you don’t draw another guy for four turns because you barely have any dudes in your deck. Meanwhile, he’s slipped some untargetable 3/1 past your counterspell barrage, and you’ve got a fistful of removal and counterspells that you can’t use while he kills you.
Frustrating. But that’s what you get when you run 37% less creatures than the FDA-recommended average.
But hey! Did I mention tons of removal? And boredom?
Aw, hell, I’m running it. I may lose, but when I do I bet it’ll be a hoot. Here’s what I ran:
1 Anaba Bodyguard
1 Bloodfire Colossus
1 Bloodrock Cyclops
1 Cone of Flame
1 Counsel of the Soratami
1 Dross Crocodile
1 Essence Drain
1 Lumengrid Warden
1 Mogg Fanatic
2 Remove Soul
2 Rootwater Commando
1 Telling Time
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Uncontrollable Anger
1 Underground River
1 Viashino Runner
How’d it go? Well, this deck had three basic modes it played in:
UNSTOPPABLE. I’m in the lead, with a fistful of two removal spells and a Removal Soul, beating down with my Viashino Runner. Everything he casts, I stop. He has no hope. If I could only flash him the cards, he’d concede.
CLOSE. In a mirror match with another removal-heavy deck, the game winds up in a war of attrition that gets quite ugly because he has less removal, but more guys – and his removal hurts me more than mine do his. So we trade back and forth, ending the game with us both below five life. It’s decided by who draws their Incinerate, Blaze, or Essence Drain.
SLIPPED THROUGH MY FINGERS. I tapped out at the wrong time and his unbelievably large spell passed straight through my Remove Souls. I’m such a dumbass. Now I’m getting pounded with it – oh, wait, I removed it! Thank God. What? He has another big dude? GG.
But thankfully, this deck was fun to play. There were no boring games; I was always scrambling in the early game to try to establish control, and the late games were these cat-and-mouse destruction-seekers. It was the fun I’d been looking for.
Good thing, too, because the deck didn’t win. It went 2-3 in the matches that count in League… And then, when I got bored later on a Friday night, it went 4-6. That’s not the sign of an awesome deck.
Or is it? Like I said, the guys who I beat were convinced my deck was unstoppable. When it got the cards, it smashed people. When it didn’t, it just sort of laid there and wept. Which is not the sign of a tourney-winning deck; undoubtedly the R/G plan would have been more consistent.
But hey. I’m bored. That much worked. All that winning would have been so mundane, man.
The Weekly Plug Bug
Tanner’s holding a party, filled with many bizarre guests! Psychodrama will happen, it’s just a question of when – but for right now, we’re still on top of the world as the happiness suffuses Izzy’s apartment. But this week we introduce some drinking games, meet some fundamentalists, and answer a vital question: Say, whatever happened to Branch?
The Here Edits This Site Here Guy