Mixed kNuts: How To ‘Role Deep’ In Standard

The Graveborn Identity deck that’s been floating around for the last couple of weeks is interesting – but as Jimmy Bean said to me, it plays”Candy Ass” cards like Words of Worship that are absolutely horrid, if somehow – inconceivable as it might seem! – your Muse actually dies. Then all you have is a really bad enchantment on the board that allows you to not draw cards in order to gain life.

Last week in the Forums, I asked for reader feedback about my articles. I specifically wanted to know whether readers had critiques of my writing that would be useful to me, as I’m always looking to improve. I also stated that I had three ideas for this week’s article, and asked people to choose which one they’d most like to see.

The result was overwhelmingly”Write about Type 2!” so that’s what you get.

U.S. Regionals take place about two months from now, which should give you plenty of time to discover an utterly broken deck that will catapult you to a place at U.S. Nationals and set your firmly on the road to Magic superstardom. Or at least that’s the plan. For those of you in other countries that have ridiculously early National Championship Qualifiers (read: Oz, most of Great Britain, South America), you’d bet get busy, as your tournaments are probably already occurring.

Dear Wizards,

Can somebody please fix the link to”Regionals” from mtg.com so it doesn’t take me to the damned 2002 World Championships page anymore? While you’re at it, can you please update the Regionals info?

Yours truly,


Moving along… I figure the place to start this analysis is with the power cards from the new set and what decks they might fit into. Then (in Part 2, since this article went long, per usual) I’ll do a full run-down of the currently available decks in Post-Legions Type 2 (PLT2), and give my opinion for each of them. In future weeks I’ll continue updating the list with new decks that people have developed, as well as analysis of the early Regionals results from places outside the U.S. Finally, I’ll kick off my one-year anniversary as a writer with a reprise of my Cheap Therapy series of articles where you, the readers, get to choose my deck for Regionals.

Lots to do between then and now, so let’s begin…

I’ll start with Zvi’s list of the Black cards, since that seems to be where the most obvious power lies in the new set.


Bane of the Living

This kid goes in whatever Black deck needs additional removal with legs. Mono-Black probably doesn’t need him, but Ralphie thinks he looks kind of sexy, and he’s a reset button for the new Aggro Black decks in case things get out of hand.

Crypt Sliver, Spectral Sliver, Toxin Sliver

Slivers… Nope, no current deck types these kids belong in unless Aggro Black decides it needs regenerating blockers out of the sideboard.

Scion of Darkness

An interesting card that could fit into Clerics.dec, should that deck decide to branch out from the Master Apothecary plan and incorporate Black. Reanimator has better targets, so I expect him to sit on the sidelines for a while unless folks get clever and think he belongs in their sideboard for the mirror match. However, his trample ability is intriguing at the very least, as is the fact that he cycles for three, making it easy to put him in the grumper and replace him with a new card to boot – so as my guidance counselor used to say, he has”considerable potential.”

Embalmed Brawler

A big, fat maybe goes on the Brawler’s head, referring to whether or not he’ll see much action. There are going to be times that he’ll hit play as a 5/5 for 2B – which matters, since at that size he eats Arrogant Wurms for lunch – but is the drawback too great? Also, playing him requires that you be playing lots of other Zombies as well (and holding them in your hand, which means Zombie Infestation does you little good) and right now that strategy just doesn’t feel amazing. I’ll admit I could be wrong here, but someone will have to prove it to me first.

Graveborn Muse

Yes, it’s obviously good, but where does it belong? Right now, the question most people are asking is instead”Where doesn’t it belong?” It seems that everyone that can afford to pay 2BB is happy to play something that at the very least amounts to a Phyrexian Arena on a 3/3 stick.

However, what you really want to figure out is which deck breaks her the most. Does playing a surfeit of Zombies to draw a ridiculous amount of cards work, or does it just leave you dead faster? Should you instead use her to limited effect to increase the amount of cards you draw while controlling your risk factor? Right now I’d have to say we don’t know, but everybody and their uncle are working on it.

The Graveborn Identity deck that’s been floating around for the last couple of weeks is interesting – but as Jimmy Bean said to me, it plays”Candy Ass” cards like Words of Worship that are absolutely horrid, if somehow – inconceivable as it might seem! – your Muse actually dies. Then all you have is a really bad enchantment on the board that allows you to not draw cards in order to gain life. Not a solid plan.

Whatever the case, for right now the rule (Johnny Cochran style) is: If you can pay it, you must play it.

Hollow Specter

He’s good in spite of the fact that Suicide Black really misses Dark Ritual. He’ll see play in any deck that needs a three-casting cost beater that can provide disruption. As a side note, if you see a decklist on any site running Cabal Ritual and touting itself as”really good,” you probably want to move along.

Withered Wretch

Discussion time…

Withered Wretch is one of those classic cards that gets printed in order to adjust the metagame – or”fix a problem,” if you will. These aren’t always successful, as we all thought Seedtime was printed to counteract the Fact or Fiction problem, and we all see how strong an impact that had? (Read: practically none). In this case, U/G Madness and Dr. Teeth had gotten a bit out of hand and needed to be brought down to Earth. Wizards’ answer to this problem is right here, packaged in a little 2/2 Zombie Cleric body that you pay BB for.

That last part is the important bit.

In order for this card to see play, you have to pay double Black for it. That means a heavy investment in Black must be made, and that deck has to want to play kids. I’m reading this as an obvious signal that Wizards wants the Aggro Black archetype to return, so this little fellow fits as part of a pre-constructed Constructed deck just waiting to be built. Swell.

However, my real question is whether the Wretch will have a noticeable effect on the metagame or whether he’ll be rewarded”nice try” status like Seedtime. Think of it this way – You currently have a field where two of the best four decks at any time are Psychatog and U/G Madness. What percentage of decks have to run Withered Wretch in order to drive those two huge winners underground? Is it thirty percent? Is it fifty percent?

Personally, I don’t know, but I don’t see fifty percent of any deck being run at Regionals – and last year, it took three different archetypes to add up to fifty percent. Are there three decks that really want to run this guy? If not, Tog and U/G still have a great chance of dominating the metagame like they have for the last year.

If we get past the question of whether he’ll get played enough to alter the metagame and look at what he can do though, we notice that he has the potential to wreck Tog, U/G, and Reanimator, and make life more difficult for decks like MBC (particularly the Walamies version). That’s a pretty large portion of the field right now, so you see why the answer to”How many decks will run enough Black to support playing Withered Wretch” will be an important consideration after March 1st.


Caller of the Claw

Extremely clever card here, and one that can fit in any Green strategy that doesn’t rely on token creatures. A lot of folks out there are trying to figure out how to abuse him through sacrificing your own creatures – but even if that doesn’t pan out, he can still be used as a handy sideboard card against decks with mass removal. My only real question is: Would this guy have been too good in White?

Actually, since White already has Wrath of God, the answer is probably”yes.”

Krosan Cloudscraper

You’re never paying for him. He’s huge. You can often get him on the board and face up for the low, low cost of four mana. That said, he doesn’t trample, fly, or do anything remotely special. He’s probably worth it in any deck running Slide (and if a Dermoplasm deck ever develops), but I’m not sure that normal Slide decks want him.

Seedborn Muse

The Seedborn variety of Muse is almost as interesting as its Black cousin (perhaps we should consider these Rural Muse and City Muse). She’s not as cool as I had originally thought because the abilities don’t stack, but I still think it’s a solid card that can find a place in a deck like Canu’s Opposition, where you can beat down on your turn and still lock down during your opponent’s upkeep.

This muse in particular is also going to provide real issues for those who want to use spot removal to get rid of her. She has a casting cost of five (Smother-proof), a butt of four (practically burn-proof), and is going to be Chainer’s Edict-proof in almost every deck that wants to run her. As this card makes its way into more decks, it could result in a Dark Banishing seeing a lot more play as well.


White is deep in terms of potentially playable cards and this should only improve when Odyssey rotates out. For now though, most of Legions White impact on Standard will be predicated on someone finding the right builds of White Weenie or Clerics.dec.

Akroma, Angel of Wrath

She’s dead sexy, but she’s also the type of girl that you’re not going to be able to bring home without a lot alcohol. She also won’t hesitate to chop off your wang if you try to push things too far. That said, she does practically everything you’ve ever dreamed of in bed, she gets along well with your friends, she likes sports, computer games, and Magic, and she’s even got a great sense of humor. The risk seems to be well worth the reward here.

Let’s be honest, though… You aren’t going to cast her and she doesn’t morph, so unless you want to throw her into a Reanimator deck (or do something silly like play her in a Mirari’s Wake-fueled deck), she isn’t going to see much play. That’s too bad too, because everybody wants to date a supermodel.

Cloudreach Cavalry

Another good weenie for White, provided there’s a Bird on the board. The only good Bird card that I can think of right now is Battle Screech, which means that most of the time his bonus won’t come into play until Turn 4. White Weenie can do better.

Stoic Champion

White Weenie or Slide? Or do you combine the two and create some sort of hybrid? Regardless, he’s a nice little beater in a compact package.

White Knight

Another quality little man that could fit right back into White Weenie now that Aggro-Black is also making a comeback. It’s too bad that both Edict and Innocent Blood still manage to kill him, but”Protection from Black” should mean a bit more this fall.

Windborn Muse

I like this card, but it matters more with weenies and less with fat, if you catch my drift. Right now the decks that she affects are Opposition, White Weenie, Aggro-Black, and Sligh – and three of those will have a hard time removing her once she’s on the board, while Sligh will just burn her away. Tog doesn’t really care, and U/G Madness is perfectly capable of paying for their Wurms to attack.

Zvi thinks that she may become more important when Odyssey rotates out, but I’m of the opinion that she could end up being a problem now if someone builds the right deck, and if Withered Wretch has a noticeable effect on the metagame. Of course, you have already heard my opinion about Withered Wretch, so we shall see…

Akroma’s Devoted and Whipgrass Entangler

Neither of these are included in Zvi’s list, but if someone should find a way to break the Cleric deck, these guys could well be part of it. The Devoted provide a great method for the Master Apothecary engine to complicate both blocking and the return attack from your opponent. Whipgrass Entangler does the same thing minus the Apothecary, while adding a heavier mana investment. I wouldn’t have noticed how annoying the little bastard can be if I hadn’t played in an all-Legions draft at the Pre-Release and watched my U/B deck get destroyed by another player running five Entanglers. Bleagh.

Of course, this is only going to matter if Standard turns out to involve a lot of creature combat, and you can avoid the headaches yourself by playing a control deck that doesn’t care about blocking. God forbid something silly like Planar Guide gets brought in out of the sideboard to combat mass removal; stoopid decks like this that could potentially work give me a headache.


Blue got shafted again. Of course, if you wanted to play Blue in the first place, you’d be running Psychatog or Opposition anyway, but still…


Yes, it has a great deal of potential. However, it doesn’t fit into any of the standard archetypes at the moment, and may just end up being a Block card. Besides that, he’s still expensive, so unless there’s a ridiculously broken morph card (yes, more broken than 13/13 non-Tramplers) coming up that you never want to pay for, I can’t see much use for him in Type 2.

Riptide Mangler

I like him, I really do; unfortunately, he’s a different color than the rest of the Beasts in the oh-so-cleverly named”Beast” deck, so he doesn’t belong there. For now he’s just a good card, looking for a home.

Wall of Deceit

The only decks that play walls in Type 2 are control decks, and none of the control decks that exist right now need to play walls. You see the dilemma here…

Keeper of the Nine Gales

Awful unless we suddenly get a bird-generating enchantment. Even then, he dies to just about every removal spell in existence.


The Red cards are almost as bad as the Blue ones. I’m not even going to go through all of Zvi’s list, because some of those cards clearly won’t be very good unless they get help in the next set.


Hey, I like this guy. He’s not quite a Blistering Firecat, but he can get all Hans and Franz on your opponent if necessary. Remember that he only gets Trample if you sacrifice something to him, so essentially he requires a sacrificial Goblin to become a good card. Thankfully for you, there are plenty of Goblins to go around. Our next card pairs nicely with him…

Goblin Grappler

Once again, we have a card that only matters if a lot of creature combat is going on – but since that seems to be the order of the day, this guy should be solid. He makes certain that your opponent’s most annoying blocker has to block him, while your other angry Red men are able to pound through unmolested. The only thing he’s missing to make him”really good” is Haste, which is probably why R&D left it off him.

Goblin Goon

He’s large, he isn’t a token, and he sticks around after the end of your turn. However, he doesn’t have haste or trample, and he comes with a significant drawback. Right now it looks like he’s best against decks that Sligh already had good matchups for and he’s pretty bad against decks that Sligh needed help with.

So that’s my take on the archetypes that the Legions cards fit into in Standard. As noted in numerous set reviews, Black got the bulk of the power, White got some depth, Green got a few more workable/clever cards, while Red and Blue received Grade A, 100% pure shizzy.

I’ll be back with Part II tomorrow to discuss an extensive listing of the decks that exist currently for Post-Legions Type 2, provide decklists for as many of those as possible, give power rankings, and even suggest a testing gauntlet.

The Guest Spot

“Winning Friends Through Effective Communication” by Jordan Berkowitz

This week’s Guest Spot came about as a result of fan mail I received over the weekend. Those of you who are long-time readers may remember me mentioning the name Jordan Berkowitz in the past, partly because he won a PTQ with a Solitary Confinement deck during OBC season – but mostly because he’s an obnoxious punk that has caused problems at a few events that I’ve attended. I haven’t had any run-ins with him for some time though, so I was mildly surprised when I received the following e-mail in my Inbox:

“Yo, this is jordan berkowitz, you really need to keep your mouth shut you barn… If you say another word about me in one of your articles im gonna make sure yoo live a miserable magic life…”apparently people on the east coast dont like me” just so u know im friends with practically everyone you giant idiot. so why dont u just shut up and get out of my s**t you f***ing p***y.”

Now it is apparent from this e-mail that Mr. Berkowitz is upset about what I have written regarding his behavior in my past articles. It is also apparent that whatever school system Jordan attends is failing him miserably. He clearly struggles from an inability to a) spell, b) use proper capitalization, c) use proper punctuation, and d) over-use of ellipses (ah, but who doesn’t these days?). However, you can see that he has potential, as he calls me a”barn” and really stretches himself by referring to me as a”giant idiot.”

The more mature writers here at Star City probably would have written off the fact that one of their readers rides the short bus and moved on, but I chose to reach out to Jordan by explaining the situation and the proper remedy.

“First of all, I have to say that I’m impressed you were able to read my articles, though I’m guessing that someone else pointed the fact that I mention your f***n*t antics out to you, and helped you pronounce the big words you didn’t know. God knows it took you long enough to take notice though, so maybe you used that time to figure out the big words yourself…

I’ll make you a deal: As soon as you stop being a d***head, I’ll consider not pointing that fact out anymore. Until then, expect more of the same when I run across you.

Best Regards,


I’ll admit up front that this is not exactly an apologetic response, but since I still feel justified in what I’ve said about Jordan previously, it is clear and to the point. Jordan’s response to my explanation was rather amusing:

“ok than expect a fight and expect to be f***ed up cause i role deep
mother f***er and u dont even kno about that…u better hope i dont see your
ugly ass at a tournament cause ill F**K YOU UP.”

Now in spite of my normally irreverent style, it’s not often that I actually get threatened by someone via e-mail (or any other means for that matter). Clearly my first attempt at explaining the situation to Jordan had failed (perhaps it was because I don’t even kno about roleng deep?), so I chose to do something different for my second response. I would cut down on the big words and grammatically correct sentence structure and attempt to communicate more on Jordan’s level. After all, I could have been dealing with the e e cummings of the Magic world, and I wouldn’t want to let that opportunity pass me by.

“OMG jordan, my bad yer so l337 i just didn’t kno til I saw that u role deep. I dun no what role deep meanz but since yuo do it hasta mean yer bad. pleze don’t hurt me ill do any thing yuo want ill tell all the magic playrz your so l337 in my next article, ok?


Judging by Jordan’s next response this clearly had some impact, though what it may have been I am unable to decipher…

“yeah aiight knut, nice name, you know if you mix up the letters you get
k**t? yeah c**t, thats wut you are…a p***y


He even signs his name”bitch,” so he must be reaching out to me – trying to make a connection between the whole”c**t” thing and the fact that he sees himself as a female of the species as well. I mean it’s pretty misguided, but it’s a start, right?

Then again, maybe his vocabulary is limited to four-letter words and slang, and I’m reading too much into this.

If you have an opinion, feel free to post it on the forums along with your best Jordan Berkowitz story. After all, we should be celebrating a literary talent such as this…

Until next time, remember Jordan is l337 and he roles deep, but ya’ll don’t even kno about that.

The Kitchen Sink

Haven’t done one of these for a while now, so there should be a lot to cover.

Jimmy Kimmel Live has had a Season Pass on my TiVo since the beginning. The writing staff consists of Adam Carolla, The Sports Guy, Joel from MST3K, and a former head writer for Letterman. Not only that, but they had Snoop Dogg co-host the first week, during which time I realized that he may be the funniest human being on the face of the Earth. Seriously, there’s nothing like watching Snoop live, uncensored, and inebriated. I still can’t decide if the highlight of the first week was Snoop’s yard sale of all his drug paraphernalia or the whole show where they did vodka shots and deep fried almost everything on the set.

From the wayback machine: Which one is the hottest up-and-coming movie actress to fall off the face of the Earth after a stunning debut? Nancy Travis from”So I Married an Axe-Murderer” (okay, she’s not super-hot, but every guy I’ve ever met wants to date a girl just like her), Mia Sara from”Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (and no, Time Cop does not count as a starring role), or Julia Ormond from”First Night” and”Legends of the Fall”?

What’s even more incredible is that each of them has since been featured in a role requiring nudity. Sometimes Hollywood is just that amazing…

Tara Reid becomes an early entrant for this year’s”Worst Dress Ever” competition.

I think there should be a posted set of rules for”Self-Checkout” lanes at the grocery store that include the following:

1) 15 items or less

2) Your IQ must be above 120 to operate this machine

3) Those over the age of 40 are not allowed unless accompanied by a computer-savvy child. Please find a different line where you won’t hold everyone up with your computer ineptitude.

4) For God’s sake, no freaking produce! If you have more than a bag of apples, find a real line.

Is there any possible explanation for the following quote from Baseketball? I mean, how much did they pay Al Michaels and Bob Costas to be in the movie? It’s been five years since the damned thing came out and I still can’t understand it.

Al Michaels: Bob, in all my years of calling games, I don’t think I have ever been this excited!

Bob Costas: You’re excited? Feel these nipples!!!

Though she’s been hiding in Hollywood for years waiting for the right moment to kill John Conner, Diane Lane’s cybernetic secret is finally revealed (and no, we’re not talking about her breasts, which are real and FAN-tastic!)

Turkey Bacon has been officially removed from the FDA’s list of addictive substances. In addition to the removal, it can no longer be called”bacon,” but must now be referred to as”Bacon-Like Substance.”

Warning: There has been a Lisa Bonet sighting.

Three more reasons to go see Daredevil this weekend.

If Evan Marriot fell off the face of the Earth tomorrow, I’d be angry that it didn’t happen today. Speaking of which, does this guy have the record for largest nugget ever to star in a reality TV program? “It’s got it’s own weather system…”

John Favreau shows that”Dinner for Five” is referring strictly to what is served to him and not the other four guests on his show.

I don’t understand this, but somehow I still think I like it.

File under”Guilty Pleasure.”

Quote from my wife in reference to Xander dating Ashanti and Buffy dating the principal:”Oh, the theme of this week’s Buffy episode must be ‘Dating African Americans’.” (Or, more appropriately,”Dating Negroes With Secrets” – The Ferrett)

Speaking of Buffy, is it a rule that every Slayer candidate has to be hot? I mean, isn’t it possible that somewhere there’s an ugly slayer candidate that just hasn’t been found yet? Or maybe The First killed off all the unattractive ones first, and now all we have left are the hotties? And talk about your hotties, what would you do to have Willow and Kennedy make a”Me” sandwich out of you? *bites fist*

Giles:”Let me get this straight… I take a bunch of teenage girls on a camping trip and don’t touch them, and that makes me evil?”

Britney’s cell phone is on vibrate?

I’d just like to thank the people at Friends for reminding us week after week what great breasts Jennifer Aniston has. I missed them a lot last year when she was preggers, but this year has definitely been a, um, standout year for the girls.

The following are three attempts to make this column more accessible to women and”men of alternate sexual lifestyles”:




A quote from my buddy John about the pending release of Star Wars: Galaxies -“If it’s just an updated EverQuest in the Star Wars universe, it’s basically a gigantic system designed to introduce a whole new set of addicts to the wonders of online masochism.”

Speaking of computer games, there’s a conspiracy this year to prevent me from getting any practice whatsoever done for Regionals. Master of Orion 3 is due on February 25th, and then both NBA Street 2 and *shudder* Championship Manager 4 are due at the end of March. I am so screwed…

Okay, so I was walking through Borders a couple of weeks ago and I noticed that Jennifer Love Hewitt has another album out. Part of me wants her to fail miserably because I’m sure that I’ll hate most of the music and don’t really want to hear it played on the radio. However, another part of me wants her to succeed for one reason: Music Videos. I mean, the title of her CD is”Bare Naked” – how can that go wrong?

There’s a drug joke here, but I think I’m just going to leave it alone

Is it just me, or do the new singles from Justin Timberlake’s album (damn the Top 40 radio!) sound just like Michael Jackson tunes from the 80’s? And if that’s the case, can we expect Justin to do a reverse-Michael and eventually turn into a really normal looking Black guy who likes to sleep with old women?

For those who like political satire allow me to recommend www.dailyfeed.com. These guys may be my favorite humor site on the web.

Oh my god, Goldmember got to Kate Hudson!

Howard Zinn, author of”A People’s History of the United States” sounds just like Christopher Walken.

I didn’t write this, but I was present for some of the happenings, and the article amused me.

This interview is one of the funniest things I’ve read in 2003, and the Denny’s story may be the comedy highlight of the year.

True practitioners of Tae Kwan Leep. (Ed Gruberman… – The Ferrett)

This is funny. Just take a step back a minute and think about it… You’re Fred Durst. You’ve managed to become a big time rock star with little to no discernable talent. Your life is pretty good. But then, a second miracle happens, and you get the opportunity to date Britney Spears. Britney Freaking Spears. (For you Brits across the pond, sub in the even more delicious Rachel Stevens from S Club and you’ll get the idea.)

This is the statistical equivalent of me hitting the Power Ball… Twice. I mean, have you seen Fred? He was never going to be considered”male model” material, unless they need a model for a scruffy little bowling ball. He probably wakes up every morning right now and thinks,”Dude… Britney Freaking SPEARS!” I know I would.

In celebrity terms it would be like Jared, the Subway guy getting to date Nicole Kidman. I mean, the guy already lost 250+ pounds by walking and eating Subway products, and he became a celebrity for it! Now he gets to go out with the jaw-droppingly beautiful Nicole Kidman, even though he looks like a skinnier version of Mike Turian.

Anyway, what really cracks me up is that Fred’s fans are kicking him in the teeth for it and he’s bitching back. People – you already knew that Freddie was a poser, and he’s dated Christina Aguiliera in the past. You should have guessed that he’d jump at the chance to take Britney and her big… Um, brown eyes, for a spin. Wouldn’t you?

Of course, if he ever admits that he likes her music, all bets are off.

That’s it for today. Check back soon for more of the same.

The Holy Knut

[email protected]