Mixed Knuts: A Dope Beat To Step To, Part I

I’m a bit gushy about the format, so you’ll forgive me if I say that I am completely impressed with how well Ons-Ons-Ons draft plays, particularly when it’s only the first set in the block. Instead of gushing [porn link deleted], what may help you out are three tidbits that I’ve learned over the last six weeks that turned me from a total scrub to someone who breaks even online with consistency. Also, I made some outrageous States predictions: How accurate was I? The answers may surprise you.

(Author’s Note: The theme of this week’s article is that it’s long. Really long. Obnoxiously long. I did this because I’ve been gone for two months, and the holidays are the time for Super-Sizing things, right? And… Well, because I can, I guess. That’s one of the perks of writing for StarCity – you write your article, the Ferrett makes fun of you, makes your writing look a lot better, and then lets you get away with a ridiculous amount non-Magic writing (we like to call it”flavor”) as long as said”flavor” is amusing.

(There’s a lot of material here, so those of you with short attention spans can feel free to break it up a section at a time. I cover some draft strategy, some Type 2, Magic: Online (again), some hot chicks, movies (actually, my wife does that in this week’s Guest Spot), more hot chicks, readers poking fun at cheerleaders, and a whole bunch of other random stuff. Hopefully it’s amusing, because otherwise it’s just long, and that’s not any fun at all.

(But there is one thing I’m certain of…

(In spite of the length, this article is still shorter than Bleiweiss’s punishment for being oh-so-wrong. And with that, I wish you Happy Holidays. – Knut)

It’s been a long time – so like Lucy, I’ve got some ‘splainin to do. First off, my boss turned into Norman Bates’s mother about two months ago (I always knew she was a bit… off, but I guess I just hadn’t brought a girlfriend home to meet her yet), which made my work time into an extremely stressful situation that I have to deal with on a daily basis… not a good place for creativity.

Second, my job got very busy again (which I’m not complaining about, but it does cut down on the writing time).

Third, I’m not playing Extended at all, so I have very little to say about the current PTQ format – meaning that most of my analysis would either be irrelevant (in the case of current Type 2) or just plain wrong (which is what you’d get if I tried to figure out what is going on in Extended). Because I don’t typically play Extended, I usually take this time of year off from Magic to spend with family and such, but excuse number four has not allowed me to do so because…

Fourth, I’ve become addicted to Magic Online.

Okay, there… I said it. I didn’t like MODO when it first came out, but Jimmy Bean got me sucked back in to start playing Sealed deck leagues in order to improve my Limited (and limited) skills. Because I was having a reasonable amount of success at Sealed, I decided to start drafting. Then I started losing. A lot. I couldn’t buy a win. My rating online started to plummet toward Rizzonian levels (I may have been well-south of 1550 at one point, but I stopped paying attention in order to retain what passes for my sanity), as I took my lumps (and paid my money) in order to have a healthy”learning experience.”

Then something happened: I read Gary Wise article over on the Sideboard, and realized that my draft decks and my drafting strategy were all wrong. Well actually, they were not all wrong, they were in fact just a little bit wrong, but that little bit makes a lot of difference.

If there’s one statement from J. Gary Wisenheimer’s article that you should take home and sleep with, it’s this one:”No card with a low cycling cost in your colors is a bad card, and… many drafters haven’t come to realize that.”

I hadn’t come to realize that, and that was why my decks kept losing to mana screw and mana flood over and over again. Having cheap cyclers is crucial to avoiding both of those problems (flood is harder to deal with, but that’s why the cycling lands are so high on the pros'”Top Ten” lists), as well as helping smooth out the tempo of your deck and putting you one card closer to your bombs. Understanding this small fact changed my draft strategy by a little and changed the amount that I win by a lot.

I’m going to take this moment to make a public service announcement to anyone who drafts on Magic: Online – Mike_d0421 is a swindler. I state this only because he has become a problem, and because I promised to do it before our deal if he cheated me. He owes me eight packs, and everyone I talk to online these days seems to have been cheated out of a draft split or packs in various ways by this one guy. I’ll admit up front that I lost mine because I’m a moron. I won’t go into the details because, it will show just how monumentally stoopid I can be – but suffice to say that I won’t be making that mistake again. Here are a couple of rules to remember about MODO that Geordie essentially warned us about so long ago.

Trust people online as far as you can throw them. (Since they have no physical presence you can’t throw them anywhere, so don’t go trusting them either.)

Never, ever, ever concede to somebody in the semi-finals of a draft. For whatever reason. It’s not only a bad idea, but it’s technically illegal according to the Terms of Service.

Always get the reward for the deal before you concede.

You have no recourse if you get cheated online. None. Keep this in mind during all transactions that you make regarding MODO, particularly when things like Paypal and real cash get involved.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Nicky Blue Eyes has been doing some good work in his articles – but I particularly agree with him when he says that drafting Onslaught is hard. There are a hundred of my hard-earned dollars in Wizards’ bank account proving that very fact right now. However, along with making the game more complicated, R&D also gave you the tools to overcome the biggest complaint people have about Limited – mainly mana/color screw. I would argue that there’s a bit less information to keep track of than in Odyssey Block drafting (no Flashback, Threshold, or Madness to pay attention to), but there exists more potential to outplay your opponents, particularly with respect to Morphs and Tribal elements.

I’m a bit gushy about the format, so you’ll forgive me if I say that I am completely impressed with how well Ons-Ons-Ons draft plays, particularly when it’s only the first set in the block. It’s nearly as good as Inv-Inv-Inv, which is like having an art critic look at your painting and say”You know, I think it’s nearly as good as Raphael’s School of Athens.” Fine damned work, folks.

Anyway, enough with the praise for the current draft environment, as that won’t win you a damned thing (but it’s the Christmas season, so if I just close my eyes and wish hard enough, it might win me a job with the nice folks at Wizards, right? Then again I think my writing may be a bit too flavorful to be heard from the lips of the corporate mouth outside of match coverage. Oh well…) Instead of gushing [porn link deleted], what may help you out a little more are a few tidbits that I’ve learned over the last six weeks that turned me from a total scrub to someone who breaks even online with consistency.

Don’t be afraid of any color, and particularly do not fear Blue. In spite of what Zvi might have said on Brainburst, in most drafts Blue is fully capable of filling out the decks of two drafters at a table. Kai drafts Blue a lot. Bob Maher drafts Blue. If I’m at your table and you pass me a fourth-pick Ascending Aven, I’m drafting Blue. The color is deeper than most writers are giving it credit for being, and your opponent has to deal with your kids if he’s going to win. This is a classic example of whether you should be drafting questions or answers – and after about twenty drafts in the last six weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you are getting passed good Blue, you should be asking the questions and making your opponent find the answers.

That endorsement aside, for this set only, being the third Blue drafter at your table is a pretty miserable place to be.

Aside from people’s fear of Blue, White and even Green can go under-drafted at specific tables, and you should be ready to capitalize on that fact. Due to the color-intensive nature of most spells in Onslaught, people are much more likely to stay in the early colors they draft than in previous sets. Due to the fact that Black and Red are the only colors featuring removal in this set, they tend to be drafted higher than the other three colors.

That means that if you are getting passed early Pacifisms, Daru Lancers, or Snarling Undoraks, you should take advantage of it. Usually what I do is start out drafting one of the three weaker colors and then see what colors are getting passed to me. This allows me to be relatively certain I’ll get some depth in one of my colors while getting power in the other one. Obviously, if you open a Starstorm, Rorix, or Slice and Dice, you happily take it and fight for Red while filling out the rest of your deck – but in general I will be much more reactive with regard to picking Red or Black, and pro-active with the other three colors.

Another strategy to keep in mind is the third color splash, particularly with regard to removal. Cruel Revival, Shock, Solar Blast, Sparksmith, and Lightning Rift (depending on your cyclers), are splashable removal spells that will allow you to deal with problem creatures (Sparksmith, Wellwisher, and Taunting Elf come to mind) while not forcing your mana-base to take too large of a hit. These spells become even more important when you end up in colors like U/G or U/W, where the power level of your deck can be high, but you have no way to get rid of your opponent’s pests.

The last tidbit that I hadn’t really put together until I read Gary’s article is that two-drops, Morphs, and (particularly) Cycling are important in Onslaught draft. As [author name="Ken Krouner"]Ken Krouner’s[/author] article (does anyone else feel the need to call him Bing?) about the Elvish Warrior dilemma states, the entire Onslaught draft format is tempo oriented. He gives a few of his own reasons for this belief in the article, but I agree with this statement so strongly that I think some cards that everybody considers to be bombs (namely the creature-generating enchantments) are actually bad cards in some decks. Dragon Roost has obvious power if you manage to live long enough to start activating it, but seeing it in your opening hand will typically make you cringe. Playing with Centaur Glade often seems an effort in survival, and I’ve come to the conclusion that in draft Mobilization is almost worthless unless you need little soldiers exclusively to stall the ground while you beat your opponent through the air.

Let me clarify this so that I don’t get a bunch of hate mail telling me how idiotic I am for the above paragraph: What I am not saying is that these cards are bad on merit, or that I’ll typically pass a Centaur Glade if I’m playing Green – but what I am saying is that the nine mana and two turns it takes you to generate your first 3/3 Centaur can get you killed pretty quickly if you are facing down a Snarling Undorak, a Barkhide Mauler, and a morph creature during that time. So unless you have a solid plan for staying alive while building your army of Centaurs, you can end up dead rather quickly.

In short, applying early pressure to your opponent in the form of a solid two-drop (hello Glory Seeker), while being able to continue applying pressure (Morphs), and setup your late-game bombs (Cycling) is crucial to your success.

In fact, Onslaught Draft is really an exercise in Nuclear Deterrence 101… you have to assume that everybody is going to have the bomb, but nobody will use it due to the unspeakable consequences. (Okay, in Magic it’s because bombs are expensive to cast – but bear with me.) Because of that fact, it is absolutely vital to build up an army with the assumption that the bomb will never be used, and therefore you need to win without it. That way even if you don’t have or don’t draw your own bomb, you will hopefully put your opponent in a position where they can’t win if they should draw their own.

As for the Elvish Warrior debate, I usually don’t draft the kids – mostly because by the time I see a Warrior that looks good to me, I’m either not in Green, or trying to shore up my other color. I actually agree with Nick’s list for Green, but Ken’s theory is spot-on with regard to the role of Green in the set. Green has suddenly become the color that wants to stall in the early game while hopefully gaining some card advantage through Wirewood Savages, and then win in the late game with big beasties and the help of your second color. That means that Elvis is to be used primarily as a blocker.

What really amuses me about the two sides of their argument is that Ken is the one talking about being tempo-oriented, while Nick is the one complaining about how Elvis isn’t nearly good enough at beating people down. Tempo doesn’t always equate to beatdown, but that’s often the way the term is used – and in this case the Tempo advocate is stating that your 2/3 for GG is the best blocker around.

Then again, I’m amused by strange and dumb things sometimes, so you’re probably pretty bored which means it’s time to move along…

Contest Results

With that in mind, I’ll switch gears and give the results of two mini-contests that I ran before I went on hiatus.

To start with, Matt Hatfield (who seems to have a Canadian e-mail address, eh) won the”I listen to old folks’ music” contest by correctly identifying Squeeze as the band that sang Slaughtered, Gutted, and Heartbroken. Please e-mail me your address at the normal place and I’ll get your prize shipped out to you.

Next we have the”Make fun of the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Contest”, (which can be found here for those who missed it the first and second times around), where participation was low, but amusement factor was high.

Reader”Lug” had this to say about the lovely ladies from South Beach:

“Glad to see a few of the girls used their real names. Big props to Kat and Sach for not making up stripper-type names. Hmm, Kat is probably short for Katherine, but Sach? Short for saccharin? Actually, according to a Google search SACH stands for Solid Ankle Cushion Heel (Prosthesis).

“So I’ve got to give it up for SACH, who has fought through adversity and a physical handicap to make her cheerleading dreams come true. There will be no more making fun of her (even though from her choice of animal I’d only need a sack of nuts to get her), but the others are going to get it. Can you imagine how cold-hearted the other girls must be to call her by the name of her prosthesis?

Anyway, I was stunned by the number of slaughtered names on this page. Allow me to illuminate the findings:

Randi: The”i” gives it just a hint of sluttiness, which is a necessity for all girls who want to be cheerleaders. We’ll get back to her in the animal section.

Kairee: Anything less than a 3:1 vowel-to-consonant ratio means you just aren’t trying.

Then there are the girls I don’t think are from around here. Alida, Rania, Susy, and Clare are either from other countries or have parents who lost a bet when they were born.

(I don’t know what Lug has against girls with the name”Clare,” as it seems pretty normal to me, but he’s Oklahoman, so the normal rules of time, space, naming, and ratios of inordinately attractive women do not apply there -Kanoot)

Animal Section:

The question posed to the girls was”What Animal Best Describes Your Personality and Why?” Most girls answered with an animal that was either cute or majestic, but a few girls managed to take a bold step into the realm of the comedic.

Honorable Mentions:

Hillary and Shelia both went with peacock. Not a bad choice, I guess. The peacock is best known for its beautiful plumage. It uses these bright feathers during mating season to attract a peahen, the female of the peafowl. That’s right, both of these ladies chose a MALE animal. Yeah, I know I’m being a little picky there, that’s why they were honorable mentions and didn’t make it into….

The Top Ten:

#10 Vanessa’s personality could best be represented by”A tiger, because you never know what it is thinking.” Little known fact: Three of the top ten poker plays in the world are tigers. Even Mike McD would be drawing a blank on these guys. (I had to toss in a Rounders reference for Teddy”KGB” Knutson. -Lug)

(“Dis Lug… just like a young man comink een for a qwickie, he makes me feel so unsatisfied.” -KGB, on point with the Rounders quote).

#9 Maria chose”A panther, because in the inside I am a loving kitty cat but the outside I seem dangerous.” They seem dangerous?

#8 Goes to Jackie. The question posed was”What Animal Best Describes Your Personality and Why”…WHY…note the word”WHY”! Jackie’s reply?”Monkey.”

’nuff said!

#7 The Queen of Vowels herself, Kairee, chose the friggin’ team mascot. The animal that best describes her personality was”A dolphin, because they are very loving and friendly and always carry a smile on their face. I also love the water.” Someone needs to tell her that the dolphin on the sideline is a guy in a costume before he becomes any more loving.”You’re that landshark, aren’t you?””No, ma’am, I’m only a dolphin.”

#6 Cassandra who is most like a”Cheetah because I like to be outside, I enjoy heights, and I love speed.” Heights? Cheetahs are fast because they live on the African Savannah and have to chase down gazelles. (In a Cartman voice)”I am Cheetah, Lord of the Mountain. Fear my Patrick Duffy leg.”

#5 Christine, who is”an unfortunately excellent procrastinator,” chose”Panda Bear: they have no natural enemies, they are powerful and strong yet gentle and fun loving. They are extremely majestic.” Hmm… What does it say when the first thing you list about your personality is that it has no natural enemies?

#4 Jaime also picked panda bear, but edged Christine out with her reasoning. She went with”Panda Bear, because there’s not many of us around.” Now that is politically correct. In a job interview, would she describe her personality as hard working, dependable, and nearly extinct?

#3 Danielle apparently slept through biology, as she chose”A butterfly, because a butterfly grows into a beautiful performer of flight and being. I have also grown during the past year a Miami Dolphin Cheerleader.” *sniff* *single tear*

First of all, butterflies don’t grow into anything. They just mate and die. Doesn’t that also mean she was a grub not too long ago?

#2 Randi picked”A spider, because I am always willing to lend a helping hand.” And all this time I thought the bugs stuck on the web were future snacks. Apparently they were just flying along, needing a place to crash, and dropped in at the friendly spider’s pad.

#1 Lauren chose”Hyena, because I am always laughing and acting silly.” You know, like the time I tore a chunk of warm flesh from the carcass of a Raiderette… We still laugh about that one.

Okay, So until next time, On a scale from 1 to awesome, I’m super great. Lug

From reader Christopher Williams I received this list of amusement:

Top Ten Things Not Overheard In The Miami Dolphins Cheerleader Locker Room.

10)”So then Einstein posits this theory…”

9)”I can’t go out clubbing tonight; I have to catch up on some much needed charity work.”

8)”No, I don’t have the name of a good plastic surgeon – why do you ask?”

7)” If the O-line can just trap block better, Ricky will approach the season record for yards from scrimmage.”

6)”No thanks – I don’t date players.”

5)”So my boyfriend just got this used Taurus…”

4)”Who cares that he’s short, balding, and overweight? He’s smart , sweet, and is the funniest guy I’ve ever met.”

3)”Can we wear something a little less revealing?”

2)”It doesn’t matter if I make the squad again next year- my life is fulfilling in so many other ways.”

1)”I won’t do that for any amount of money.”

Outstanding work. Since Chris was the only person who responded that was not one of my best friends, he gets all five rares (including something juicy that I haven’t yet determined for making me laugh out loud) originally reserved for the rest of the contest participants. E-mail me your address and let me know whether you’d like them signed or unsigned and I’ll get them shipped off to you.

Type Two

Alright, anyone who is interested in Type Two, feel free to stay with me here, but for those of you who feel the format is completely irrelevant at this time, skip ahead to the next section.

For those who care, I’m going to copy in my States analysis that I wrote in mid-November (but never sent to La Rat du Ferr) here, and then I’m going to follow that up with a discussion of two different decks that I’ve been twerking for the last two months.

Why, you ask? Well, because I believe in the”more is more” theory and think this article should be unforgivably long. There’s just too much freaking holiday cheer going around for me not to torture my readers with pages and pages of droll analysis and deck commentary.

Merry freaking Christmas, everybody.


The Holly Jolly Kanoot

First, the way-back machine…

Waaay back in April, the breakdown of the top decks at Regionals went like this:

  • R/G: 21.3%
  • Tog: 18.6%
  • U/G/R: 14.2%
  • U/G: 13.7%
  • Braids: 10.4%

The breakdown of top decks from States looks like this (swiped from StarCity’s breakdown page):

  • U/G Madness 19.8%
  • R/G Beats 10.11%
  • U/G Opposition 6.74%
  • G/W Beats 6.52%
  • Sligh 6.52%
  • Astroglide 5.62%
  • Mono Black Control 5.17%
  • Wake 5.17%

First off, notice how much lower all the percentages except U/G are than at Regionals. To me, this is mostly due to the random factor inherent in the States metagame – meaning that there aren’t really any pros proving what deck should be played, therefore any and all decks do get played.

Now take a look at four of the top five decks listed… And recognize that every one of them except U/G Opposition is an aggro deck. Once again, this isn’t particularly surprising, as most open environments feature a high percentage of beatdown decks in the Top 8 because the control decks capable of taking them down consistently are still evolving. Year after year, beatdown is the most heavily-played archetype at States, so it is always likely to make a strong showing due to sheer force of numbers.

What is a bit surprising is how well R/G fared. Including the slight color variations, R/G actually had a better Top 8 showing than any other deck except U/G Madness. Very interesting… But when you take a look at how the deck did once it was in the Top 8, you’ll notice that R/G had the lowest average finish of any of the decks. To me, this says that the deck is consistent enough and powerful enough to get you to the Top 8 at States… But once it faced a bunch of good decks it got pounded.

Yes, four R/G decks managed to win, but I’m working with averages here folks, and those four were drug down by all their counterparts that finished in the 5-8 range.

All of the other decks listed (with the exception of Three-Color Wake) fared about the same, with average finish numbers right around 3. Unfortunately, I have no idea what this means without seeing the actual matchups and working out the averages for each of those. What I can tell you is that minus a few exceptions (like The Ralphie Treatment and the U/B deck I’m going to cover in this article), the decks listed above are going to form the Type 2 metagame until the Pros get a crack at it in the Masters.

The good thing about this is that the metagame will be wildly diverse for a while (unless, of course, everyone starts playing Slide decks – which would suck for all parties involved).

(That was written about six weeks ago and since that time everyone has started playing Slide decks…)

You have a variety of decks to choose from that stand a reasonable chance of doing well. The bad thing about this is that building a sideboard will be a stone cold bitch. You win some, you lose some…

Predictions review time:

Time to check what the crystal ball told me two months ago and see if I actually had a clue as to what I was talking about back then, or if I’m just as full of sh*t as my poker partners give me credit for being. I plan to check myself after every State and Regional tournament runup, just to make sure that you guys understand if I’m pretty good at this or if I’m sucking, and to give me yet another excuse to make fun of myself in print. Here goes:

Seven of the Eight (this was originally Seven of Nine, so I could drop a nice link on your dome, but got changed with the updated results… however, I will leave the link for your viewing enjoyment) decks listed above were covered in my article that came out just before States. I missed the R/G decks.

I’d say that’s a pretty good number though, so chalk one up for me.

Allow me to promise you that Sligh will be played at States this year, and that some peeps will do well with it.” Hey, that makes me two for two. Sligh actually won 24% of the time when it appeared in the Top 8, second among the top decks only to the astonishing 32% win rate posted by AstroGlide.

Blue is currently weaker than it’s been since the Rath cycle. All of you Green mages out there may officially stop your bitching. I’m still reeling from the fact that I have to play around Disenchant against Green mages now.” Hmm, let’s see… Only three of the eight decks have any blue in them, while five of the eight decks have Green. I’d say that counts as a correct prediction as well. Perhaps I should consider fortune telling as my next career opportunity…

“All five colors should be well represented on November 2nd” Check, though Black was the (figuratively) lightest of the colors. Four for four.

Now we have the huge one that I took a full, dumptruckin,’ assload worth of flack in e-mail for,”If you play U/G Madness this weekend, you done f*cked up.” This statement proved a wee bit controversial (it was meant to be), as every one seemed to think I was saying that U/G Madness was a bad deck. That’s most definitely not what I was trying to express – as instead what I was trying to say was that all the decks being played at States were designed with beating U/G Madness in mind, and that would make for a tough road. Fortunately for all the U/G players, not all of the decks played actually could beat U/G Madness (even though they may have been designed to do so) and so U/G Madness still managed to have a very good weekend.

However, part of the result that U/G Madness posted is due to the sheer volume of people who played it, and another part of that result stems from the fact that beatdown typically does very well at States. While I will knuckle under the pressure and admit that if you played U/G Madness at States, you didn’t f*ck up, you cannot get me to admit that it is the best deck in the environment right now, as U/G won only 14.7% of the Top 8s it appeared in (though this number is obviously skewed because it appeared multiple times in Top 8s much more than any other deck, and therefore could post a 100% win ratio in very few instances).

For that matter, it may not even be the best beatdown deck in the environment, as Sligh (24.1% Win ratio) and G/W (20.6% Win ratio) did better in the Top 8s that they appeared in.

If you still believe that U/G Madness rates as the best deck out there, then do yourself a favor… Take your favorite version of U/G and the best versions of other eight decks listed above (which can be found in our deck database) and play them against each other for a total of ten matches. Then write a report with your findings and send it to Big Willy Styles (also known as The Ferrett). I think you’ll find that U/G fares relatively well against the beatdown decks and U/G Opposition, but that it loses consistently to the control decks above.

Then do something totally techy and put Envelop back in the maindeck of U/G and play the matchups again. Then add Gigapedes into your sideboard for the AstroGlide matchup. If I’m a Pro thinking about playing U/G in the Masters tournament, this is exactly what I do, since it turns unwinnable matchups like MBC, AstroGlide, and The Ralphie Treatment into 50% or better.

God, I hate this deck.

Regardless, 20% of the Top 8 is hard to argue with when you (er, me) stated that U/G Madness was not the deck to play, so I’ll count that one as a complete miss. That makes me four our of five.

As for my final prediction, I stated that I thought Wake and U/G Opposition were the two best decks going into the weekend (minus The Ralphie Treatment, which I couldn’t talk about), and while they did feature in the top 8 decks, their showing doesn’t exactly indicate they are better than anything else out there. Originally I was going to blame that fact on the lack of people playing those decks (nobody played Wake in the State of Virginia) – but after looking at the new decks that showed up in the Top 8, I’m not sure that I was right there. I still think Wake is an excellent deck – but in spite of its excellent finish, U/G Opposition gets wrecked by the Slide decks (too much removal that is either Instant speed or uncounterable), and I assume it has the same problem keeping small kids on the table against Mono-Black, R/B Control, and R/G beats.

For now I’ll call this one a push and give myself half a point on it… But it could turn out that Wake takes a drubbing from the other decks listed above as well, and we just didn’t playtest those matchups. (It could also be – and probably is – that Wake is just too decision-intensive for all but the best players to pilot correctly, and quite frankly States is not when the decision-intensive show up – The Ferrett)

Final score: 4.5 out of 6

Overall, that seems like a pretty good score for predicting a completely open environment. The purpose of this was not to break my arm by patting myself on the back too much, but was instead to show you whether or not I had a clue about what I was talking about when it came to the States environment. Too often writers/pundits will spew out their opinions about what will be good for the upcoming season but then be completely unaccountable when all the dust has settled. I’m going to change that with regard to my own predictions going forward, and if you would like to see this from other writers on the web, you should write them and tell them that.

Anyway, (since most of the stuff above was written weeks ago) if I had to choose what the best decks are as of right now, I’d have to say it’s a tie between Ralphie and tweaked-out U/G Madness. Ralphie has all the tools to beat the beatdown decks (as it actually has a better arsenal of removal than Mono-Black), while being able to totally annihilate Control decks after sideboarding (by adding Megrims for Wake/AstroGlide (because Megrim only affects your opponent, Spheres for Astro, Haunting Echoes and additional discard for whatever strikes your fancy, Engineered Plagues for Sligh, Enchantment removal, the list goes on and on.)

–The Holy Knut