Everyone dies someday. This is a universal fact. Some, however, are doomed to do it more than others. Have you ever said a prayer, or even spared a kind word or thought, to the recently deceased 1/1 dork that held off an opposing monster so you could win the game next turn? You play them on the first turn to eke out a few points of damage, then forget them until you need a sacrificial lamb to protect your precious life total. They are a bedraggled bunch, downtrodden and disenfranchised in regards to combat strategy; I felt bad for them, so I decided to give them a voice. This is their story.
My first task was to get them to agree to the interview in the first place. This was not easy. I’m used to coercing the little guys, but this time I was at their mercy. My initial list of guests had to be revised several times: Aven Envoy wouldn’t return my calls due to an unfortunate blocking incident three drafts ago, and Auriok Transfixer screamed bloody murder at being lumped with the rest of the”wankers.” I called him crappy substitute for an Icy Manipulator and I doubt we’ll talk again. However, I was able to find a representative from each color: Goblin Striker, Lumengrid Warden, Leonin Elder, Defiant Elf, and the celebrity of the group, Constructed star Disciple of the Vault.
Not all of them were easy to convince. The Warden was the first to agree; he’s desperate for some attention, since he’s not normally played and has a bit of a superiority complex. I told Leonin Elder that it was his sacred duty to chump blockers everywhere before he’d bite. I had to lie to the Elf; he refused completely until I told him I’d hook him up with a pair of twin Viridian Shamans, fresh out of high school. If you think that Sex Monkeys were kinky, you ain’t never been to the Tangle, my friend.
Finally, I wracked my brain for hours trying to come up with a suitable location for the creatures to meet. I wanted it to be as informal and neutral as possible; usually the only place these guys met was on the field of battle, and I didn’t want things to get out of hand, since Lumengrid Warden would be the only one left standing. Ideally, I could find a conference room in a library, covered in a mural that represented each of the five basic lands, but my search proved fruitless. So instead, I took them to TGI Friday’s.
By the time everyone had arrived, I was already doubting the wisdom of the venture. The Red representative was already blowing spitballs and smashing glass beer mugs. The Vedalken had a perfumed handkerchief held against his nose while flies buzzed around the Disciple. The White rep was giving the Disciple a death glare; when the Green flipped him the bird, I decided to buy everyone a shot to defuse the situation. The goblin winked and nodded towards the bar, so I bought him a couple more. When I was about ready to start, I whipped out a pocket tape-recorder so I wouldn’t forget anything; the Cat Cleric smiled and I felt stronger. Then the Goblin smashed it, the Disciple started to glow, and I felt the tiniest bit weaker. It was going to be a long day…
JM: Well, gentlemen, I’d like to thank you all for coming out today to discuss your opinions regarding chump blocks. I’d like to start out by going around the table and giving introductions. I’ll start – I’m John Matthew, a reporter for StarCityGames.
LW: Salutations. I am Dr. Eustace Nowitall, but you’d probably know me by my stage name, Lumengrid’s Most Fabulous. Perhaps you’re familiar with my work–
GS: Shut it, smart boy! How’s it hangin, I’m Krak Hed of the Krark Clan. Keep the shots comin’.
LE: Good afternoon. My name is Ashanti.
JM: Any relation to the popular singer? Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby….. baby.
LE: Of course not. Why does everyone ask that? I’m the namesake of my grandfather, Ushanti. Check the flavor text next time, you putz.
DotV: My name is Mordecai the Vigilant.
GS: More like Morgue Guy the Shriveled Ant.
DE: I’m not gonna tell you, or anyone! At least not until I see twin hotties!
JM: This isn’t a Christ Romeo (<- link) article. Let's just move on to the subject at hand. I know many of you are frustrated that you can't take a bigger role in the outcome of matches, that often you get pushed aside, relegated to"chump blocker" status, doomed to sit on the sidelines until you are killed in brutal fashion. Tell me about your personal experiences.
LE: Yesterday in a Limited match on Magic Online, you let me get crushed by a 10/10 Arcbound Overseer. And after all the life I gained for you, too!
JM: Uh, yeah, sorry about that.
DotV: I was recently bludgeoned by an opposing Myr Enforcer, when you were sitting pretty at twenty life.
JM: He was equipped with a Sword of Fire and Ice! You would have died anyway!
GS: Ever been eaten by a Baloth? They call them Ravenous for a reason.
LW: Woe to the denizens of Lumengrid, for I was slain by a Tel-Jilad Outrider with a bad haircut, before my true ability could be realized. And I got blood all over my cashmere scarf!
JM: What true ability? You’re a vanilla 1/3.
DE: I’m not a blocker, I’m a beatdown stick! I have trample, see? GRRRrrrr!
JM: Seems like I’m dealing with a bit of denial here. In each of these cases, it seems as though I was just managing one resource, life, by using up another, my creatures on the board. Why, in other words, should players block any differently?
LW: When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools. This’ a good block;
It were a delicate stratagem, to show
A troop of horse with felt. I’ll put ‘t in proof;
And when I have stol’n upon these sons-in-law,
Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!
JM: I’m not sure I understand.
LW: Have not one of you read King Lear?
LE: I think what my lugubrious friend here is saying is that we’re born to die. We usually do very little between being cast and getting killed; we have naught to look forward to besides the possibility of trading in combat.
GS: Nerd boy’s got some issues, but gramps has got it right. We do all the hard stuff! We bring our best game to the table and get rewarded with a Vulshok Morningstar to the brain. That
JM: But doesn’t it come down to usefulness? Spikey’s ability is more useful than yours.
GS: What? I have first strike! Give me an axe and I’m great!
DE: Yeah, he’s all glory, no guts – with a Predator’s Strike I’d walk all over his prickly ass, equipped or not.
LW: It’s completely unfair for me to be involved in combat situations at all. My most valuable asset, besides my superb taste in accessories, of course, is my incredible intellectual ability – I have a Ph. D from Synod Sanctum. I played MacBeth at the Tolarian Academy, for Christ’s sake! I should have been a Vedalken Archmage!
JM: Well what about other situations where you don’t go to the graveyard? If I enchant you with Sandskin, you could chump for me the entire game! Doesn’t that make you feel useful?
LE: That’s a painful situation. Damage is still dealt, but reduced to zero as a state-based effect – that means it doesn’t kill us, but it still hurts like hell, every single time.
JM: Well, you have to get something out of making good blocks so your team can continue. Doesn’t it feel good to win, even if you’re in the graveyard?
GS: Maybe it would if the finishers gave us any props. They’re some stuck up bastards! Most of the time they come in for a few turns to close out the game, and never even take any real damage; then when I try to buy them a beer later, they smack me around and tell me to chill with the rest of the dorks.
LW: It makes me feel used, like the last time I woke up in a Fraternity house.
JM: Uhh, yeah, whatever. Morgue Guy, you’ve been kind of quiet over there.
DotV: It is rare indeed for Mordecai to chump block. Most intelligent players realize the strength of his ability, and keep him away from the rest of the riffraff. Mordecai merely focuses his dark energies upon sucking the life from opposing Magi until the match has been concluded a victory.
JM: I’d rather put you in front of an oncoming fatty than a Spikeshot.
DotV: Then you must not be an intelligent player. Know of any tier 1 Regionals decks that use four copies of Spikeshot Goblin?
JM: Listen, buddy. Everyone called you janky until I showed them otherwise! Don’t you remember States at all?
DotV: Ahhh yes, States, Mordecai remembers it well. The stepping stone to his current fame as a super-star in every aggro-affinity build. Fear not, he will grant you a sentence or two in his upcoming memoirs,”Mordecai the Great: Much Better Than the People That Play Him.”
JM: I’m glad to see you haven’t let success go to your head.
LE: Is he talking about himself in the third person?
GS: Screw you, Ravager lackey!
LW: Blow ye winds of wrath, blow!
JM: Get him, boys.
That was the end of the interview, as Jalapeno Poppers and Riblets went flying. While I probably haven’t convinced anyone to stop sending dorks into combat to get their asses handed to them, perhaps now you understand a little about the sacrifices they make to keep you life total out of the red. Be on the lookout for my upcoming issues article – Skullclamp: How You Can Help Stop Weenie Suicide.
–John Matthew Upton
I like back, feed me!
jmumoo AT yahoo DOT com