Multiplayer Is An Art, Part 23: Time Regression With Highlander

Look, your test group might think that life gaining is fun – but excuse me, I know no such people. And it’s not for lack of idiots; there are quite the group of morons at my store. So do not blame it at that I am a too”Johnny: kind of player. Timmy hates life gaining too – at least over here in the Netherlands.

Sound of gunfire, through the night.

Killing and hatred, it’s a terrible sight.

That’s all the introduction you will get.

26. Control Magic: You control target creature until enchantment is discarded or game ends. If target creature is already tapped it stays tapped until you can untap it. If destroyed, target creature is put into its owner’s graveyard.

It’s amazing that I understood what that card did eight years ago while I was eleven. There’s so much superfluous language on it that it becomes funny. The italic part could even be interpreted as a Chime of Night ability:”When the Control Magic is destroyed, destroy target creature.”

This is one of the few cards in the deck that is an answer to Spiritmonger. I might even go as far as to say that this is one of the five best cards in the deck. In this format, you’re always happy to draw one, because creature combat is the main, main, main route to victory… And this one screws up the game balance by giving you the best creature your opponent used to control. I already thought that that was good eight years ago.

27. Treva’s Ruins: Well, this is almost a Tundra, only it requires bouncing another land. But as compensation for that we get to pay the green kicker cost on our white battlemage. Or we get to remove silly enchant lands like Psychic Venom or Cursed Land. Not that I have ever done that – but it could be done in theory.

28. Bullwhip: The bane of small creatures everywhere. When it doesn’t kill them directly, it kills them with the forced attack – for you can count on it that we have a Voice of All with the right form of protection waiting for the offender. People might say Rod of Ruin is better because it can also deal damage to players, but Tim on a Stick is also more expensive.

And besides, Bullwhip can also deal damage to players when they have a creature with power less than three and toughness more than one… For that sort of creature is just the right creature to force into your Wall of Souls. With an opposing Hill Giant, that’s three damage to your opponent, each turn. And the Hill Giant is missing in action while you are attacking. Good times. With Fog Bank, you might even keep a Skyshroud Behemoth busy with a Bullwhip.

29. Forbid: Strange art that seems like it’s in aquarelle… But it’s quite good anyway, since almost no rays can be seen. I really dislike all the rays present in Magic art nowadays. When I sometimes read the magic arcana over at”that site,” and they have sketches of a card, you’ll often see this sentence:”We added the lightning and the green rays for dramatic effect. How fun and exciting.”

Please – remove all those beams! Some of them are okay, but I do not want to see every puny 1/1 cleric being able to throw rays at will.

And that’s another thing about www.magicthegathering.com: It has a very, very high”we are one, fun, exciting” content. We are not one. Some people hate multiplayer, some people hate tournament play. Some people hate both. Then why do you pretend that we are one big happy family?

And look, your test group might think that life gaining is fun – but excuse me, I know no such people. And it’s not for lack of idiots; there are quite the group of morons at my store. So do not blame it at that I am a too”Johnny: kind of player. Timmy hates life gaining too – at least over here in the Netherlands.

And the”you make the card” contest wasn’t exciting at all. We all knew in advance that it was going to be some green creature.

If you ban the words”fun” and”exciting” from that site, article lengths will halve.”Isn’t that fun and exciting? Let’s have a poll for that, and check back next week for the fun and exciting results!”

But I would still want to write for that site. I mean, when a Sideboard reporter I know tells me that he gets over a box of cards for each article, and when I then compare the length of those articles to this sentence, then I get at least a tad jealous. This sentence is almost as long as his articles. Fame is so unfair. If I win a Pro Tour, I can suddenly do all that, too – but my writing skills remain the same!

Oh, and Forbid counters spells. That’s good. Pay buyback with surplus land or insignificant creatures. That’s obvious so maybe I shouldn’t even have said it.

Heh, Queen’s on the radio, with It’s A Kind Of Magic. That’s funny, because I am writing about magic.

30. Whispers of the Muse: What a coincidence that this card is right on top of my Forbid. And it really is a coincidence, for you wouldn’t accuse me of cheating, would you? Maybe it’s just a kind of Magic that drew these two cards to each other. Together they form a soft lock, which is good… But I always thought that the Whispers were a little bit expensive.

Just compare it to a Jayemdae Tome: Eight mana for your first card, four for each one following. That means that you get two mana behind for your first card, get even for the second, and get ahead farther and further each subsequent card. So what’s wrong with books? Why would the great players of the world rather play with these Whispers? They say that it is because you get immediate results. Heh. Let them be; they don’t know jack about multiplayer.

31. Dromar’s Cavern: Mine is French, ‘Caverne de Dromar.’ Exactly the right colors for my deck, and I am glad to draw it every time.

A quick tip for all people out there who do not speak French properly: When you reverse the two words in the name of a magic card and put a”de” in between, you will get the French name. This makes you look smart, making it appear that you know all French card names by heart.

“Whip de Bull”

“Ruins de Treva”

“Magic de Control”

“Dynamo de Thran”

“Elemental d’air”

Remember to abbreviate the”de” as often as possible, as seen in the last example. Just pronounce it in a snooty voice, and you will sound more French then the pope at Easter.

Did you know that a lair is a repaire in French? Sounds like a place where a dragon repairs himself. Or herself.

32. Mountain Valley: Red and Green? Aren’t those the two colors that we do not play in this deck? Yes, they are. But the dual lands do not care by which fetch land they are fished up… And since Taiga is the only dual land that I do not play in this deck, every dual land is useful to us. Just see this as a land that gives you the one color that you need most at that moment, and then keeps on giving it for the rest of the game. As a bonus, it enables the other sides of split cards that are included in this deck – the red and the green sides.

“Valley des mountains.”

You can do plurals in French by putting an”s” after the last two words.

While playing this, I found out that I have red and green mana more often than not… So I took the liberty to include quite a lot off-color kickers and split cards. That way, the cards were useful on their own, but became a whole bunch better with the strange mana at our disposal. This card helps our real mana, and our strange mana to boot.

33. Mother of Runes: Sometimes better than Vodalian Illusionist, sometimes not. When you want to make one of your men unblockable by more than one creature, the Mother’s protection is better than the Illusionist’s phasing out. But when you want to save one of your men from global removal, Mama is not much help.

“Mama, oohohohooo, I don’t want to die. Sometimes I wish I’d never been born at all.”

At least Mama costs no mana to activate. That’s good. But Mama will never mess with an opponent’s creatures. That’s bad. But it costs only one mana to cast. That’s good.

Homer, looking for a gift for Bart, enters an obscure shop, where his eye falls on a doll:

“I’ll give you the doll for free.”

“That’s good!”

“But beware, it bears a terrible curse.”

“That’s bad…”

“But it comes with a free frozen yogurt, which I call frogurt.”

“That’s good!”

“The frogurt is also cursed.”

“That’s bad…”

“But you get your choice of toppings.”

“That’s good!”

“The toppings contain dehydroxybenzaldehyde*.”


“That’s bad…”

“Can I go now?”

Very funny. The doll is then some sort of living Krusty Doll, which attempts to murder homer all the time. When he presents it to Bart, as a gift, Grandfather Simpson begins to scream:

“That gift is cursed! Cursed, I tells ya! AAaah!”

“Grampa, you said that about all the presents.”

“Aw, I just want attention.”

See where Mother of Runes has taken us? Nice picture, though. I like the details, such as the pretty window in the right corner.

34. Ebon Stronghold: Formerly used to give those Drain Lifes the last kick needed to finish it off, but now reduced to serving as a second-grade Swamp in highlander decks. Withered glory is a sad thing indeed.

Don’t you people think that this building looks just like it’s underwater? With those trees in the background there, you’d almost swear that you were looking at a submarine structure. Only that full moon up there gives away the general and unsuspected dryness of this picture.

“Stronghold d’Ebonne.”

When words end with an”n,” it is okay to paste an additional”-ne” after it. This can be combined with the plural ‘s-es.’

“Stronghold des Ebonnes.”

35. Counterspell: Finally, a decent card in this deck! This might come as a relief to more serious people reading this. No, I am not slightly mad, I do not think I am a banana tree and I’m not one card short of a full deck. I just have a weird taste. But weird taste is no excuse to omit including Counterspell. It might be a common now, but it was an uncommon during Beta, and my card is from the German Beta.”Gegenzauber.” The copyright date says 1994.

I suppose that you’ve all had it with all that French now, so this seems like a great point to start teaching you to germanize your magic card names.

Turn every”s” in a”z,” every”d” into a”t,” every”v” into an”f.” Turn all two-letter combinations with an”e” or”u” or”o” in it into”oi.” Turn all instances of”c” into”k.” Then pronounce it as if you were a vampire.

“Kalming Likit.”

“Abyzzal Zpekter.”

“Karkoil Toimont, jah.”

It is allowed to put an arbitrary”jah” after each name. Make plurals by putting a”-z” or an”-er” after the word to be pluralized, whatever sounds more European.

“Waller of Zoilz, jah.”

“Fotalian Illuzoiniztz.”

Works every time.

36. Legerdemain: This card is most used to gain control of the best creature in play, in exchange for a puny come-into-play residue like Benalish Emissary.

Unless, of course, the best creature in play is a Zephid. But we don’t get that here very often.

The artifact – Juxtaposition – that this card enables might even be more useful. I’ve already stolen gamebreakers like Citanul Flute (Flute de Citanul) and Urza’s Blueprints (Urza’z Bloiprintz, jah) with it. My opponent got a Marble Diamond off of it, or some Cameo. He generally did not like it, though. Somehow, people had rather been drawing lots of cards than getting one mana. Even when they can choose the mana to be of one or another color. People are so picky and choosy these days.

But even more subtle actions can have even bigger impacts. I once switched my Sky Diamond for an opponent’s Charcoal one. That enabled me to cast my Abyssal Specter and Annihilate, and caused him (he played Black/Red/Green) to lose his only source of black mana. That screwdness on the other side granted me victory. A wonderful card.

37. Salt Marsh: Only death breeds in stagnant waters. That’s the flavor text on this card. But you know what? I suspect that black and blue mana also breed in stagnant waters, otherwise this land would have a very different ability.

I generally dislike modern artwork on cards, but this one is a clear exception. Though it looks very computerized, it is very pretty. I like playing with this card not only because it’s good, but also because of this art.

With computerized, I mean look at Salt Marsh, then look at Underground Sea. Which one looks like it’s been done with pencils and paint? And which one looks like it’s been done with MS Paint? That’s what I mean. Just look at the first two cards of this article: Control Magic and Treva’s Ruins. Which one is”real?” The older one, the blue enchantment. That is what I mean with”Old art looks better.” It just looks like it’s been really painted, or really made by an artist in an atelier – not behind a screen. Now do not get me wrong, please: A lot of new art still looks good. It’s just that older art looks good more often.

38. Foil: Ew, ugly picture, rays, beams, and only a fortified village in the background to make up for it. But the village looks very computerized, lap. Take a look at Black Knight. Now that’s how background structures should be done. Or look at Master of the Hunt to see how background trees should be done.

I once did a very desperate thing with this counterspell. I had only 2U open, and this Foil, a Stand / Deliver, and a Captain’s Maneuver in my hand. I had a very good board position, with several small creatures outmatching a single large one from the other side. But since I also had Reconnaissance, I was winning the race easily. Then the opponent attempted Nevinyrral’s Disk…Bad times for me, should it get through.

So I thought:”I can bounce it with Deliver to stall a turn, and redirect the damage dealt to me by his large creature right back at him with the Maneuver. Then I can swing again. Only then the disk goes off. I cannot counter it because I only have one blue mana source.” But it was to no avail, for the nasty opponent would survive even this series of tricks. So I had to Deliver my own Tropical Island, so that I could discard it along with the Maneuver to pay the alternate casting cost of Foil. Is that sad, or what?

The top card of my library was Dromar’s Charm – the counterspell that needs only one blue mana. I could have bounced it and countered it after all. Ah, how good a card Soothsaying is – if only you take the effort to put it in your deck.

39. Mishra’s Factory: A beautiful card for decks like this. It acts like an almost regular land, but can walk over to the other side should there be no blockers. Or it can suddenly burst out of your pile of lands to block that Llanowar Elf that thought to have seen an open goal. Not. His bad, he is now dead. It can even counter untimely Diabolic Edicts by tapping itself and just in time for a sacrifice. Marvelous. Keep your Hypnotic Specter alive, just ditch the Factory. Or, should a Wrath of God have resolved, make it an Assembly Wworker and walk on.

My Factory is in German, thus it has a pretty black border. It’s called Mishra’s Fabrik, produces farbloses mana, and changes into einem montagearbeiter, jah.

All these words are horrid examples of the above rules of Germanizing not being valid. But ignore that. I mean, how many times are you going to play against an actual German? Or somebody from Switzerland? In the latter case, put as many”sch-” as possible in front of your words, and end with”-li.” For Swiss German is a dialect of German that sounds very strange to the untrained ear. The”-li” should be pronounced as”lee.” As a matter of fact, al cases of”i” should be pronounced as”ee.”

“Schmishra’s Fabrikli.”

“Schzalt Marzhli.”

People say that the Dutch are brilliant in their multilinguality – but it’s really easy, actually. I can give similar rules for Espangolizing and Romanizing and Norwegianizing. You might not get a college degree by simply following these rules, but you can certainly sound wise and eloquent.

40. Nightscape Battlemage: In a format where mana bases are often fragile, this most expensive of battlemages is a very welcome sight. Should you be able to pay both the kicker costs, you might get the chance to bounce two expensive creatures, and then blowing up the only land that could recast them. That’s nasty. It also costs lots of mana for only a 2/2, but a double-Nekrataalish-and-mono-Avalanche-Riderish 2/2 is good indeed.

Bouncing your own creatures that trigger their abilities when entering play is also a solid play.

“I bounce my own Voice of All so I can change its protection to the same color of that new dragon of yours, and I bounce my Air Elemental that you have just cast Treachery on. Thank you.”

Might not be a tempo friendly move, but it is definitely not bad.

41. Sulfur Vent: This land from Invasion gives black mana, but can sacrifice itself to give red and blue mana instead. That ability might be useful when combined with the above Battlemage. The picture is pretty enough to look at. Not only because of the plausible background – but also because it contains a ray that should be there. Lots of times, rays act as filler for the picture… But this ray has a reason for being there. It’s sulfur-containing water – or more chemically precise, sulfate-salts and sulfide containing water. That makes this art more amiable, though actually standing next to such a vent might not appeal to the nose. The chemist in me likes this card.

Mine is in s-Chinese, but I cannot read the name to you. When imitating Chinese, Korean of Japanese card names, just replace each word in the card name with random instances of”liu, kang, kung, lao, shao, kahn, bruce, lee, jet, li.” Then add a last one for good measure. Everybody knows that those are oriental words, so nobody will dare argue with you. Sulfur Vent might become:”lao jet kang.” Who could check on you?

42. Nekrataal: You probably saw this card, amongst others, coming since the very beginning of this article. What deck can go without? Some Survival of the Fittest decks use Boneshredder because it is cheaper – but Nekrataal is also a reasonable ground critter and does not have echo, so it gets the nod over Boneshredder almost every time. And it has a better picture. I think that art is quite important. Look! There’s a skull in his sword-hilt. This man really states that men can wear pink clothes and still look rough. He looks like an angry Pakistani.

Did you know that the Beatles-song”Get Back” was originally called”All Those Pakistanis?” And that the chorus was the same? They had to change it because people thought it was a racist song, while it was only satirical. This shows us that most officials do not have a good sense of humor, which I prefer to spell as humour, but my spell checker is set to”English (United States)” because I am writing for an American site. I wish StarCity was English, so that I could write”colour.”

43. Bayou: Yeah, baby, yeah! A beta dual land! Too bad that it is very not mint, but it still looks reasonable. And I traded that one plus an unlimited Sinkhole for a foil Blizzard Elemental and a prerelease False Prophet. I think that two foil rares for a beta dual and a Sinkhole (perfectly mint) is a very neat trade. Foils were still the thing to have back then, but I fervently anticipated their impending decrease in worth by trading them all away for good, old and expensive cards. I think that only the Sinkhole could fetch me a Blizzard Elemental and a False Prophet nowadays, so that comes down to a free Bayou with a pretty black border, in English.

I have lamented the state of this dual land before, in my seventh, and, if I may say so, best article. In response, a reader mailed a request to the Ferrett to please give me a new Beta Bayou in pristine condition. Now I did not get that, but I did get a most generous other compensation, for which I am still thankful.

“Son of a gun, gonna have big fun on the Bayou.” – Jambalaya, the Carpenters.

I do not know whether the title of the song is correct, or whether the words I wrote are actually in the song, but it certainly sounds like it. I haven’t heard that song for about three years, and I was still young back then, so errors are forgivable. I just had to think about it because it is a song which, I think, contains the word Bayou, or something that sounds like it.

Oh, and you people should consider yourselves lucky. As you might know, Featured Writers are excluded from the weekly $50 best submission contest. So I can never win it again. I won it once, about a year ago, but then the prize was only $25. You get double as much, which should be doubly as tempting. Go and write. I, too, wish to be amused.

44. Phyrexian Reclamation: Damn good recursion. Combine it with a creature that gives life when it comes into play, preferably more than two, and you can bring back all of your men at a slow but steady rate. And because it only costs one black mana, it slips through most counterspells on the first turn. Who plays Force Spike? In this format, I mean?

Mine is German. Neuer Anspruch Phyrexias. Another piece of evidence that my language-rules as defined above are not 100% proof. But recently discovered facts of science show that they are close enough to the mark most of the times. The facts are only recently discovered because I just made them up.

“Reclamation des Phyrexiannes.”

45. Samite Archer: Nice card to cast a shadow over everything combat-related with. It can threaten to kill blockers off, and it can threaten to save your own blockers, or save your own attackers from a suicide deadblock. And it takes care of all silly small things, like mana elves or annoying shadow troopers. Or other tims. Or Mothers of Runes, which, back in the USSR (you don’t know how lucky you are), used to be called:

“Mamuschka ov Runeski’s.”

My archer is also in S-Chinese. They look good, those oriental characters. It almost always improves a card’s appearance, in my opinion. Only old cards (from The Dark or older) look better when they are in their original English form.

46. Spiketail Drake: This card is kind of unfair to opponent’s when it is cast on the fourth or fifth turn. It attacks for a virtually unblockable three damage each turn early in the game, and it prevents the opponent from casting anything with a large impact on the game, because the Drake will just Mana Leak it. It thus puts you in a very nice situation where your opponent is on a significant clock, while he cannot really try and do something about it without wasting a good card and a turn to cast it. You lose your Drake in the process, yes, but it has then at least given you good tempo advantage.

And when during the late game you can catch a maxed-out Dregs of Sorrow with it, mad props to you.

47. Contagion: The year of the cat. After the Scars of the Veteran, this was the pitch card I thought was useful. And it was the third one I knew of! I already knew Force of Will, too… But that was a despicable card, costing such a large investment for a very small gain, or so I thought.

Now, Scars of the VeteranThat could turn your Serra Angel into a 4/8 creature after having lured your opponent into trading with his Sengir Vampire…4/8 creatures block Elder Dragon Legends that are not called Vaevictis Asmadi. And since Elder Dragon Legends were the centers of the decks of those days (in our group, at least), a flying toughness of eight was a very valuable commodity. We didn’t really appreciate countering back then, And Terror could only reach two of the five flying menaces.

But back to the Serra/Sengir showdown. When Serra has not got her Scars ready, Sengir might Contaminate the Serra, and take down Tundra Wolves with it, too. That’s a two-for-one, which we did appreciate back then almost as much as we do now. So Scars of the Veteran was best, then Contagion, then Pyrokinesis and then Bounty of the Hunt.

Force of Will was not even recognized as a part of the cycle.

In our later (and better) days, Contagion rose to the top, killing Order of the Ebon Hands like they were ants in front of a hair drier which is set to Max Power. Scars dropped to 4th place. Then our group linked up with the Labyrinth and learned how strong countering spells is. Force rose to number one, the rest of the list remained the same. And that’s pretty much how the general public would rank these cards, I think.

48. King Crab: Have you ever played this outside of Urza Block Limited events? I already thought that you would answer with a single but wholeheartedly pronounced”No.” But you should. Do you remember how much green creatures are played in multiplayer? No? Then here’s a homework assignment for you: Count during your next game. Did you get a result that’s larger than the number four? I already thought you did. So this crab is very card-advantageous.

Each green creature turns into a two-for-one. You get an advantage because the creature is gone, and you get an advantage because you cost your opponent a draw step. He cannot cast the creature again, because you are then free to put it back on top of his library again. Darkly delicious.

This ability comes attached to a 4/5 shell. So when no green creatures are around, and you cannot change colors yourself, it is still moderately useful as a large creature. And with no green creatures around, this thing might very well be the largest kid on the block.

With our language conversions, we may add creative touches to our own taste. I’ll do French and German versions of this card, both with an improvised twist, which adds to the credibility of the authenticity of the foreign card name.


“Crab Royale.”


“Führer Krab, jah.”

49. Voice of Law: All Voices are in this deck, except those modern brothers like Voice of the Woods, which we generally dislike because they are so fun and exciting. I cannot take all the fun and excitement from people, and therefore I restrain myself to playing solely good and nice cards.

Do you not also think that the Song of All is one of the best flavor text cycles ever? I really like the flavor texts that are in cycles. And then I mean cool cycles that are supposed to be based in books or scriptures: I dislike the silly quasi-esotheric cycles like those on the Crowns from Onslaught, but I do really like the Phyrexian Scriptures.

“From void-evolved Phyrexia, Great Yawgmoth, Father of Machines, saw its perfection. And thus the Grand Evolution began.” – Dark Ritual

“Yawgmoth moves across seas of bone and shard and rust. We serve him in life, in death, and in between.” –Unworthy Dead

“Yawgmoth, Father of Machines! Your filigree gaze dances upon our grateful flesh.” – Sanguine Guard

I do not know for sure that the I’m absolutely correct on those texts, but they come close. Even my mind is not perfect. Everything by Gix is cool, too. Urza’s Saga has a very nice set of flavor text; my compliments to the ones who thought them up.

The last card for this time:

50. Order of Yawgmoth: This card strengthens the hypnotic division of this deck, which also contains great names like Hypnotic Specter, Abyssal Specter and Chilling Apparition. That’s four saboteurs in one highlander deck! A number which height is unheard of. Add the Thieving Magpie and the Sleeper’s Robe, and an even greater number of”must-block” creatures is obtained. This one could be argued to be the second best late-game draw, for in the later stages of the game, even the feared Hypnotic Specter becomes less good because the probability of getting blocked is higher. This little bugger evades that problem as though he had the Improved Evasion feat. The best draw from this department in the late game, is, of course, Sleeper’s Robe.

I once had a Sleeper’s Robe on this creature. That made the fear which the Robe granted obsolete – but at least it turned my Order in some sort of Fungal Shambler, which is good. I’ll excuse myself by explaining to you crowd that the Order was my only non-wall creature. Get it? Good.

How is this name, Order of Yawgmoth, best converted into a foreign language? That will be the homework assignment I will present you with for this week. People thinking they have found something especially funny may mail me at [email protected]. Please do not send me actual translations; I know those, or can translate myself in most cases.

Hey, Queen’s on the radio again! Another One Bites The Dust, this time.

“Ain’t no sound but the sound of speed, machine guns ready to go. Are you ready, are you ready for this? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?”

“And another one down, and another one goes, and another one bites the dust…”

I wish I knew all lyrics ever written.

Emperial regards,

Stijn van Dongen,


* – This compound is chemically impossible. How can you de-hydroxate a compound that has no hydroxyl-groups in the first place?