Let’s Play Twenty Questions!

Well, that’s a lie; there are only five questions. But one thing is
guaranteed, these questions will make you a better player. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, or whether you’re Eugene Harvey fresh from your Nationals win. Well, maybe not if you’re Eugene. But the rest of you.

Well, that’s a lie – there are only five questions. But that wouldn’t have the desired impact now, would it? But one thing is guaranteed; these five questions will make you a better player. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, or you’re Eugene Harvey fresh from your Nationals win – you’ll definitely gain something from this.

(Well, Eugene Harvey might actually know a better answer to some of these because he was the one doing the stuff, so to speak.)

(But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Question #1:

We’ll start with an easy one: What is the most valuable, non-basic land in type 2 right now?

Question #2:

Why did Mike Long Run 7 Forest, 5 Island, 4 Adarkar Wastes, instead of 5 Forest, 7 Island, 2 Adarkar Wastes, 2 Brushlands, to spread the color across the painlands in his US nats top 8 deck?

Question #3:

In the finals of the US nationals, Eugene Harvey tapped his Psychatog-playing opponent, Eric Franz’s land with an Opposition during Franz’s upkeep. As Franz only had four lands, he was then forced to Fact or Fiction during his draw step. Harvey split the Fact or Fiction thusly: Nightscape Familiar/Cephalid Coliseum versus Repulse/Upheaval/Ghastly Demise. The reporter, their mind perhaps clouded by all the fancy foils they were about to receive for doing the top 8 coverage, described the split as”bad cards versus good cards,” and guessed that Harvey must have had a plan. What was Eugene Harvey’s plan?

(Bonus points if you are Eugene Harvey.)

Question #4:

You’re in an Odyssey/Torment/Judgment booster draft, and in your first pack you open Overrun, Call of the Herd, Wild Mongrel, Aven Fisher, Mystic Zealot, and ten other, less-than-amazing cards. Which card do you take?

Question #5:

Why didn’t you win the last tournament you played in?

(Pause for adequate consideration…)

(Pausing a bit more.)


And now, a brief interlude about how I lost a game I had already won.

(Kids, don’t try this at home.)

(Or at a tournament, for that matter…)

My opponent was a good friend of mine – we’ll call him Julian…

(Because that’s his name.)

…and it was one game apiece. He had drafted a green/red deck, and was splashing for a touch of white. I had drafted green and black, but had been forced to splash white too. Next turn, I would be flying in for the win with a Soul Scourge and a Dusk Imp, and his four life could do nothing to stop me. I even had a few untapped friends to stop him from coming over with his single Pardic Firecat to kill me before I had my next turn. But I did need those friends, because I was on five life with only an Embolden to flashback in my defense.

He untapped, drew his card, and put on a frown that would make a blind baby cry.

“I can’t do it.” He bemoaned.”I can’t kill you.”

“That’s pretty much how I like things to turn out,” I responded helpfully.

Julian slumped in his chair a bit, and thumbed through his cards. Then, he slumped further into his chair, doing a very convincing impersonation of an unhappy man.

“It’s over, I can’t do it.”

“You’ve got me.”

“I just can’t do it.”

He continued on like this for a while, and then proceeded to explain how He couldn’t do it.

“Well, I can Reckless Charge my guy, and flash it back, and then attack”

I laughed.”I see what you mean. He’s an 8/3 and I’m on five. But of course, then I flashback the Embolden and it’s not enough.”

I chuckle a bit more, and adjust my life total to one. Euphoric from my victory, I just nod along as Julian says in a serious voice,

“So no blocks?”

Of course, nodding along, and adjusting your life total is the international sign for no blocks, so I fully deserved what happened next.

“I Muscle Burst him before damage is assigned.”

And all of a sudden, it is enough, and I could have blocked if I had been half awake.


He felt pretty bad about making that play, but I reminded him that he did what he had to do. And I was glad that it was him that duped me, and not some random guy who would be asking for some foot-and-ass action with a play like that.

Six weeks later, and he’s still apologizing. And I’m still commending him on the play.

(No, not to give him a guilt trip or anything.)

(I’m too nice for that.)


And now, what you’ve all been waiting for, the answers to your questions!

(Well, the answers to my questions really.)

Question #1:

What is the most valuable, non-basic land in Type 2 right now?

While you might think it was Yavimaya Coast, because it has this tendency to appear in many different decks times four. But the most valuable non-basic land would have to be an Arabian Night’s City of Brass. Try to think outside of the box a little; it’ll help you in many more ways than just Magic.

Question #2:

Why did Mike Long Run 7 Forest, 5 Island, 4 Adarkar Wastes in his top 8 deck?

Think about what blue does in magic. It sits there with blue mana untapped, waiting for you to walk into a counterspell. Mike knew he would tap his green mana proactively, in that he will use it to play out his threats, and he’ll tap his blue mana reactively, usually leaving it untapped to show counter mana, only tapping it to defend himself.

With that in mind, it’s better to take pain only when you need to, instead of every time you play out an employee, which you have do every game in order to win it.

Well, that and he’ll be tapping lands for green far more than for blue because of his Basking Rootwallas.

Question #3:

What was Eugene Harvey’s plan?

Harvey was beginning to lock Franz out of the game. Right at that very point in time, the land and the Familiar hold a very high value in Franz’s mind if he’s ever to break out of the Opposition lock. Harvey knows this, and is hoping to lure Franz by offering a”good cards” pile over the other two. Franz however, knew what he was faced with two evenly balanced piles, chose the larger pile, playing the odds that his deck would deliver more land to help him.

We all know who won three-nil, however…

(It was Harvey.)

Question #4:

Which card do you draft?

Common practice would be to take the Aven Fisher or the Mystic Zealot and let the people down stream of you fight over the green. In that case, the Zealot is probably better than the Fisher because if the three people to your left are drafting green, they are unlikely to want to pair it with white, due to green/white’s general inability to deal with creatures that don’t attack. This would cause you to receive the lion’s share of white in the second pack.


Here is the actual answer.

Just how much of the white from Torment do you really want? And how are”Jim” and”Elvis” drafting green behind you going to hurt you in either Torment or Judgment? There won’t be many green cards floating your way in Torment anyway, and you have the picking before them come Judgment, where the green gets all gassy again. So why not grab the Overrun, or maybe the Call if some dollars and elephants are your thing?

(Or would that be”dollarphants?”)

Passing the Call will get your neighbor into green in all likelihood, because there’s nothing left in the pack worth taking over the”twin-ephants.” Then a third pick puppy is gonna have the next guy thinking green is all go, too. Maybe they’ll think twice about passing the Mongrel, but then they won’t want to mess with the signal the two of you have sent them, which is quite clearly,

“We are going to give you green like it’s your birthday.”


It’s a shame really, that they’re about to get shafted so merrily by having at least the two people immediately up stream of them drafting green in the good packs for green. But that’s life, no?

This will also cause Oswald, the chap after guy number three, otherwise known as the guy who picked the puppy…

(“Picked the puppy” almost sounds like a euphemism.)

…to possibly have to abandon green because it will dry up worse than Don Johnson, because there’ll be too many fingers in the pie. This should put you in a reasonable position to receive quite a bit of quality green stuff.

And there’s naught better than being set up for green in both Odyssey and Judgment now, is there?

Question #5:

Why didn’t you win the last tournament you played in?

I can’t answer that one, but maybe you can.

(Here’s a clue; the answer is most likely not“luck.”)

We need to learn that sometimes we make bad decisions.

(Deck decisions.)

(Mulligan decisions.)

(Play decisions.)

(Metagame decisions.)

And that sometimes we just plain get it wrong.

Sure, maybe you did get unlucky. But maybe you just screwed up somewhere along the line.

Knowing where and when you screwed up, will make you a better player. So think about it for a moment, and answer this question again.

Question #5:

Why didn’t you win the last tournament you played in?

Now tell yourself the answer. Hell, write it down and send it to the Ferrett, so we can all learn from each other’s mistakes. This will make you a better player.

(As long as you actually pay attention to yourself…)

Until next time, where I might get around to talking about what Judgment does to monoblack in both standard and block, and maybe even address a few of the concerns/ideas some of you emailed me about…

…look after each other.