Magic Online Musings: This Week In Paris #3

Read The Blisterguy... every Wednesday at
Blisterguy brings us the lowdown on the Magic Online Standard scene, plus a detailed breakdown of the hottest card prices found in the electronic game. He also tackles the Online Exended metagame and chronicles the Top 8 standouts in this ever-popular format. All this, plus more tales from the balmy streets of Paris…

(This week is brought to you by the sound of a Wii. Dave and Tama went out to return a DVD the other night and came home with one, and it’s been making noises in the corner of my living room ever since.)

(send help)

So where was I? Oh yeah, I had just dropped out of Worlds at the end of Day 2 because I had been doing quite badly. You know, as many people do sometimes. Some more than other obviously, but I knew when I wasn’t on a winning streak and I bailed to go join the coverage team backstage. I dunno, it was the same last year as it was this year. Somehow I had more fun doing coverage and being part of the coverage team than I did while I was playing, and playing at Worlds was still really fun. Maybe instead of playing Magic, writing about it is my true calling…

… Yeah, that one had me rolling on the floor too… one of my better jokes I think. Anyway, also the same as last year, hanging out backstage is basically just one great big name-drop-fest, so I apologize in advance for appearing to be a giant fanboy throughout whatever follows. Thankfully, this week is a good all-round catch-up on the Magic Online scene as well, so the rampant name-droppery won’t be all that unbearable.

(Okay, it will still be unbearable, but there will be actual stuff you can skip forward to in order to avoid it, so that’s alright.)

Day 3

The format of choice for Day 3 was Extended, which I find especially intriguing because it’s really only been played recently on Magic Online. The last big Extended tournament was literally a year ago, at Grand Prix: Charlotte. What was interesting about that tournament was the sudden and meteoric rise of the Friggorid deck thanks to Magic RnD member, Paul Sottosanti, who had modified the John “Friggin’” Rizzo special for use as a gun-slinging deck at last year’s World Champs.

One of the first things I did when I saw Paul this year was ask what Extended deck he had with him this time, you know, just in case he had accidentally broken the format again. He coyly fobbed me off when I first asked (maybe he didn’t recognize me as the guy who sat next to him last year, hammering away at my keyboard) but when I asked again as a reporter at the start of Day 3, he still had nothing. I suspect he had been on the receiving end of quite the telling off after the Friggorid shenanigans, but of course, you’ll never get him to admit that.

To get an idea of how the Extended Metagame may have shifted with – or because of – the Magic Online Metagame, I spent the first round wandering about the tables observing. Well, that was the plan anyway. What actually happened was I found Gabe Walls playing Gary Wise, and I stood there and watched them instead. Good thing I was only volunteering as a reporter this time or Greg the coverage manager guy would have had my guts for garters, and nobody wants to picture Greg Collins in a garter belt.

(Well, the editor guy Kelly Digges might, but that’s for him to know and us to find out…)

I told these two lovely gents – Gabe Walls and Gary Wise that is, not Greg Collins and Kelly Digges – that I was frankly shocked that they hadn’t been selected as a feature match. They expressed somewhat similar sentiments about that as they both made moves on my note pad for life totals sheets. Gabe took one piece, and when Gary tried to keep the rest I accused him of being a greedy fatherless son.

Looking aghast, and just a little indignant, Gary turned to me and cried out “Don’t you know who we are??” Being a cheeky son of a female dog, I promptly replied “Don’t you know who I am??” Gary looked a little surprised at my audacity and simply replied “no?” “Dude!” Gabe exclaimed “he’s blisterguy!”

(I’m not making this up)

At which point Gary turned on me, doubling both his aghastliness and indignantiness, and yelled (which is admittedly his default setting), “You’re fornicating blisterguy?? You used to badmouth me on the Internet all the time!” to which I could defend myself with “well, only a little bit!” which isn’t saying a great deal, I know. Anyway, their match was terrifically entertaining, with Gabe having to tell Gary both how the cards in his Friggorid deck, and the cards in Gary’s Affinity deck worked. With a couple of lucky draws and fortunate dredges, Gabe was able to put Gary away before long, but not before Gary smoothly ripped a Cranial Plating off the top post Cabal Therapy to make a fight of it.

Gary dropped not long after that, and I got to catch up with him later that day as he borrowed the coverage staff Internet connection to check his email. We got on like a house on fire, but without all the flames and burning stuff most people would expect from two such as ourselves. We had a good ol’ chat about growing old and growing up, which (while neither of us like to admit it) we both seem to have been doing.

I did get to wander about checking out the Extendedness that abounded that day, including somehow managing to convince Aaron Forsythe (and by extension, the Banned and Restricted list team), not to ban anything in Extended.

(I’m not making this up either, Aaron even wrote about it in his column.)

Basically, he sidled up to me and mentioned that he had “the BanHammer primed and ready.” I feigned ignorance and invite him to elaborate by going “uh?” “December first!” was his answer, which somehow jolted me back to reality. Have I mentioned yet that Paris was a whole twelve hours different to New Zealand? I don’t think I have yet this week, so it’s good that I got that out of the way there, I think. Anyway, the BanHammer was a subtle allusion to a forum that I admin on, where I was once known for “wielding the BanHammer” in quite the reckless and almost haphazard fashion.

I made little humming and harring noises as we walked out to the play area, trying to pluck up the courage to tell him what I had learned over time, that wielding the BanHammer was something you should only ever do as an absolute last resort. I explained that surely they wanted the upcoming Extended season to be something that sprung forth from the Extended format played at Worlds, not ended up being the completely unrelated result of some knee-jerk reaction bannings that happened after only six rounds of play. Aaron surprised me later that day by coming back to me and admitting that I was right, and that they agreed with me that the best option was to do nothing. So yeah, if Extended ends up being all messed up and stuff, it’s possibly my fault.

(I’m not sure how I feel about that…)

(I could be like, totally notorious and stuff…)

(… awesome *grin*)

Anyway, here is how the Extended Top 8s have shifted in the weeks since Worlds. Basically, it seems like everyone has taken what was played in Paris and gone with that. The result is quite a shift in what’s popular and what’s not.

10 (0) Counterbalance Aggro Control (Nassif’s Blue/White/Red Trinket Mage deck from Worlds)
6 (4) Azorius Urzatron (Blue/White Urzatron. With Mindslaver, Eternal Dragon, Sundering Titan and Decree of Justice)
5 (0) Tendrils Combo (Extended’s Seething Song, Rite of Flame Combo deck)
4 (5) Boros Deck Wins (Red/White Aggro, sometimes with Kird Apes and their natural Foresty habitat as well)
4 (5) Gruul Aggro (Green/Red Aggro)
4 (1) Goblin Combo (Rite of Flame Goblin Aggro)
3 (3) Affinity (The dreaded Artifact deck)
3 (2) Four Color Gifts Rock (Green/Black/White Control with Blue for Gifts Ungiven)
3 (1) Tooth and Nail (Mono Green, classic Urzatron!)
1 (1) Azorius Control (Blue/White Control, sometimes splashing Red for Fire/Ice)
1 (1) Friggorid (Blue/Black Aggro Dredge)
1 (0) Loam Aggro Control (Green/Red/White Life from the Loam Aggro Control)
1 (0) Destructive Flow Aggro (Green/Red/Black Aggro, designed to work around Destructive Flow while letting the opponent choke on it)
1 (0) Green/Blue Cloudpost (With Mindslaver and Wurmcalling!)
1 (0) Psychatog (Blue/Black Control)
0 (3) Heartbeat Combo (Much better than the Old School Standard version, with or without Mind’s Desire)
0 (2) Dragonstorm Combo (Red/Black Combo. Bigger card pool = many more rituals!)
0 (1) Hierarch Aggro Control (Green/Black/White Aggro Control)
0 (1) Selesnya Aggro Control (Green/White Armadillo Cloak beatings)
0 (1) Unknown
0 (1) Azorius Aggro (White/Blue splashing for Meddling Mage and Trinket Mage etc)

Of interest is the fact that most of the decks labeled as “Tron” were actually playing the Cloudpost and Vesuva combo instead of the Urzatron pieces, despite the fact that it can cause some very messy match-ups when both players are trying to abuse Cloudpost. Also, that Friggorid deck in there had sneakily included Akroma and Phantom Nishoba in the maindeck. Both of which could be put into play by either Stitch Together or with the help of three Ichorids, reanimated with a flashbacked Dread Return.

Now something you may not know about Aaron Forsythe is that he’s a fiend for the secondary market; he loves it! While we were all toiling away on the coverage for Pro Tour: Honolulu, he was seen rocking back in his chair cackling and pointing at wee graphs on his laptop screen that showed the dramatic increase in price for Greater Good after last year’s World Champs. So lets all lean back in our chairs and have a wee cackle at the card prices on Magic Online post World Champs 2006. If you’re unsure on how to cackle like Aaron Forsythe, fear not, for there was talk of releasing a hand-held device that replicated his laugh at the push of a button. The theory was that this could free him up from unimportant meetings at Wizards HQ while still letting the other people at said unimportant meetings feel like they were achieving something vaguely important, or at least worth cackling at.

Oh yeah, and the quick disclaimer type stuff. The prices on Magic Online can fluctuate subtly from one hour to the next. This is only a rough guide, be sure to check what other people are buying and selling at before you leap in a spend-or-sell frenzy up on the message boards. The prices below are set out as “what people will pay-what people will charge” for a card. The prices in brackets are the values we got last time we looked. Those without values in brackets are obviously new to the charts.

Lotus Bloom 3-5 (2-4)
Tormod’s Crypt 1-3 (1-4)

Dark Confidant 3-5 (4-5)

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir 3-4 (2-4)
Draining Whelk 1-2 (1-2)
Psionic Blast 4-5 (6-7)

Giant Solifuge 3-6 (3-5)
Loxodon Hierarch 3-5 (3-4)
Ghost Council of Orzhova 1-2 (1-2)
Lightning Angel 2-3 (2-4)

Ohran Viper 8-10 (11-13)
Birds of Paradise 5-6 (4-6)
Spectral Force 1-2 (1-3)
Stonewood Invocation 1-2 (—)

Demonfire 5-9 (4-6)
Char 4-5 (3-4)
Dragonstorm 1-3 (—)
Magus of the Scroll 1-2 (2-4)
Bogardan Hellkite 3-5 (—)

Wrath of God 15-16 (11-12)
Paladin En-Vec 5-7 (5-7)
Proclamation of Rebirth 3-4 (—)
Serra Avenger 1-2 (2-3)
Soltari Priest 3-5 (3-4)

Flagstones of Trokair 3-4 (4-6)
Gemstone Mine 2-3 (3-5)
Scrying Sheets 5-6 (5-7)

Hallowed Fountain 19-22 (11-12)
Steam Vents 14-15 (7-9)
Breeding Pool 12-14 (13-15)
Godless Shrine 11-12 (8-9)
Shivan Reef 10-12 (7-8)
Blood Crypt 10-11 (9-11)
Stomping Ground 8-9 (7-8)
Sacred Foundry 8-9 (5-7)
Watery Grave 7-8 (5-7)
Temple Garden 6-8 (5-7)
Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] 6-8 (3-5)
Yavimaya Coast 5-7 (5-7)
Adarkar Wastes 5-7 (3-5)
Overgrown Tomb 5-7 (5-7)
Caves of Koilos 5-6 (5-6)
Karplusan Forest 3-5 (3-5)
Underground River 3-5 (3-5)
Llanowar Wastes 3-4 (3-4)
Sulfurous Springs 3-4 (3-4)
Brushland 3-4 (3-4)

Rather a lot of upward movement on some of those dual-lands, mostly because people have stopped drafting with that block now. Any cards that fit into the Azorius scheme seems to have gained a great deal of value, and I guess we’ll see how that holds up in the New Year.

Anyway, to save me from diving head first back into the last two days of the World Champs and boring you all to tears, here’s the Top 8 recap for the Standard events over the last week.

14 (27) Boros Deck Wins (Red/White Aggro)
14 (6) Dimir Control (Blue/Black Control, made to tick by Desert apparently!)
8 (13) Panda Connection (Black/White Aggro with hand disruption)
7 (4) Simic Aggro Control (Blue/Green)
6 (13) Trisketron (White/Blue Urzatron Control)
6 (1) Mono Black Aggro (Small Black men and Bad Moon!)
4 (18) Dragonstorm Combo (Blue/Red/Black Combo)
4 (9) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron Control)
3 (4) Solar Flare (Blue/Black/White Control)
3 (1) Azorius Control (Blue/White Control)
2 (4) Orzhov Control (Black/White Control)
2 (4) Proclamation Control (White/Blue Martyr of Sands, Proclamation of Rebirth Combo)
2 (3) Izzet Snow Control (Blue/Red Control with Stuffy Doll)
2 (2) Zoo (Green/White/Red Aggro)
2 (2) Gruul Aggro (Red/Green Aggro)
2 (2) Angel Control (Blue/Red/White Control)
2 (1) Unknown (We’ll never know…)
2 (1) Izzetron with White (Or is it Azorius Urzatron with Red? Confusing)
2 (0) Hierarch Aggro Control (Green/White/Black Aggro Control)
2 (0) Green/Black/Red Aggro Control (Why stick with just Green, when you can get the cow for free?)
1 (3) Magnivore (Blue/Red Land Destruction Control)
1 (2) Selesnya Aggro Control (Green/White Aggro Control. Yes, sometimes with Glare)
1 (2) Goblin Combo (Seething Song and Rite of Flame and Empty the Warrens)
1 (2) White/Red/Black Angel Control (Trading the Compulsive Researches for Phyrexian Arena and Castigate)
1 (1) Azorius Green Control (Blue/White/Green Control)
1 (0) Blue/White/Black Momentary Blink Control (Ravenous Rats baby, Ravenous Rats)
1 (0) Rakdos Aggro Control (Black/Red Aggro Control)
0 (5) MGA (Mono Green Aggro)
0 (3) White/Red/Blue Momentary Blink Control (For Avalanche Riders, Riftwing Cloudskate and Bogardan Hellkite)
0 (1) Soggy Pickles (Brine Elemental and Vesuvan Shapeshifter lock down combo)
0 (1) Mono Control (Previously with Snow elements, now with Urzatron)
0 (1) Mono White Control (This time without the Snow engine)

The Boros deck is not surprisingly, still holding up strong, but the Dimir Control deck seems to have made some pretty hefty progress recently to equal it in numbers this week. Something about the Dimir deck looks wrong, and I’m pretty sure it’s the Deserts. Not that Desert is a bad card, far from it, more the point that the old frame and old picture look decidedly… out of place, which is I guess the point with Timeshifted cards. Either way, I hope they put Desert in Tenth Edition or something, so I can see a nicer version of it. The other thing I noticed was that the Mono Black Aggro decks are still chugging away nicely, and have even been seen recently supporting their discard themes with The Rack! Some classy old-school action there.

Right, it’s obviously time I stopped typing and went to bed. I’ll finish name-dropping like mad next week, and maybe even speak briefly about Magic Online again, although I suspect we all know that’s a coin-flip at best. Until then, have a happy Christmas – or don’t, if you don’t celebrate that kind of thing.