Introduction and Obligatory Lame Excuse
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, ’cause you’re so special (but not like the Short Bus Special, which is an entirely different kind): This is the first time I am officially upholding my legally-defined job as”Editor.”
You see, back when El Ferretto was in charge, he was a constant presence around the site, but he never wrote articles. Which is funny, because the reason he got the job was because he wrote some of the finest multiplayer articles ever set to HTML right here on StarCityGames. But after a couple of months of editing, he vanished like the kid on the milk carton.
I know damn well he got letters. I admit it – even I begged him to write more. Nothing.
And here’s the funny thing, kids: When Pete signed me to the editorial position, he made me sign a contract that I would write at least three articles a month, because he was all quakin’ in the boots that one of his more popular writers would also disappear into the Great Maw of Editing.
Go ahead. Check my archives. Wanna see how well I’m upholding my end of the bargain? One real strategy article per month – maybe. One of those articles is an article about something I’m gonna do. In another one, that ol’ cranky bastard [author name="Pugg Fuggly"]Pugg Fuggly[/author] had to carry half the load – and that was the good part. And oooo, look, I wrote an article on why you should write articles for StarCity!
My lack of articlage makes the baby angels cry.
It’s not that I don’t want to write, but somehow after editing forty articles on Arcbound Ravager it’s hard to find the strength to put hands on keys. And I have high standards for myself (not that you’d know it from reading my articles, but what the hell….).
Fortunately, I have my man Jimmy Bean at my six. I don’t play nearly as much, but the little F. (who’s different from the Big F., who looms over this site with his eerie webmastery abilities) is out there pounding away on Standard like Ike Turner on Tina.
Jim hates to write. I hate to playtest. So basically, what I intend to do from this day forward to satisfy my contract (and I really, really mean it this time) is to use Jimmy and myself as a kind of half-man, half-monster machine; I’ll write about Jimmy’s playtesting data whenever he’s too lazy to do it, and he’ll write whenever the hell he feels inspired to throw one of his crazy metagame-smashin’ decks into the shark pool that is the StarCityGames community.
I’m a man, and my word is bond, yo.
The Latest Deck
All right, so what we got for you this week? Well, it’s something that Jimmy pretty much designed on his own, without a scrap of help from anyone else. I don’t know how the hell he does it; I mean, I created Smoke and Fog with a little help from Fogg, but James eats cards and craps winners. I don’t know who I have to kill to get that talent, but I have a Glock ready just in case the offer comes up.
Anyway, Jimmy’s deck is this:
Jim hasn’t come up with one of his cool names for this deck since it’s hot off the testing block, so I guess it’s up to me. Lemme see… How about….
If you have to ask why, don’t bother, yo.
Anyway, the thing about Izzo(H.O.V.A.) is that it’s got a two-pronged strategy that pretty much slices the metagame in two. If you’re facing Ravager Affinity – and you will – you can play the beatdown, coming down with quick equipment and weenie beats to try to race them into the negatives. If you’re facing Goblin Bidding – oh, and you will – then this shifts into a combo deck, accelerating you into one huge turn where you can strip their deck straight to bare wood after they’ve sifted through their decks with Skullclamps and Gempalms.
There are other decks you’ll face at Regionals, but this is a pretty good mid-game deck too, completely smashing most rogue builds. It has a slight problem with TwelvePost, but fortunately Goblin Bidding’s going to smash that deck into the ground.
Let’s go to the videotape, Alex.
Vs. Ravager Affinity
Hate to tell you this, but this deck’s not overhyped. Last year, I was there when Ferrett was taking a pasting for posting all those articles about Affinity – all the cool kids got down widdat and said that Affinity was the deck for scrubs, and that there were better decks out there.
Maybe there were, but Affinity still was the breakout deck at States. Unfortunately, it’s only gotten stronger since then, with everyone’s favorite flying 1/1 taking to the skies and then dumping a cargo of +1/+1 counters on whoever’s around when he gets shot down.
Every year, there’s some prebuilt deck that the masses seem to take to – and this year, like it or not, the Deck Du Choice is Ravager Affinity.
So how’s Izzo(H.O.V.A.) compete?
Pretty well, actually. Before boarding, you have a lot of potent weapons to use against Ravager Affinity – Genesis Chamber, janky as it sounds, actually gives you a boatload of tokens to drop onto your own Ravager so j00 0wnz th3m. You can play the Affinity game almost as well as they do, except you have little trinkets of x/2s to drop those lovely Skullclamps on for Max Damage. If they’re the build that arrives packing Shrapnel Blasts you could still be in trouble, but any competent player should win this game, all other things being equal.
After boarding, you have Holy Days to buy you time – remember when this card got no respect? Yeah, that was before every frickin’ deck could draw two cards on demand to refuel the beats, cha-cha – and Gilded Light to protect you from those nasty five-point spritzers to the hayed. You won’t need the singletons for the combo, so yank those like Michael Jackson yanks (Edited for content – T.F.), and while you’re at it yank three of the Genesis Chambers. Oh, they’re good in the pre-boarding matchup, but afterward you just know what Ravager’s gonna bring in to screw with that plan.
Vs. Goblin Bidding
The second route one can take to victory is not the smash-face of Ravager Affinity, but the”waste all of your resources killing all of my guys, I bring them back from the dead, you die” route. Goblin Bidding is the other white meat of the Regionals metagame, and if you’re not prepared to face it you’re gonna be sitting firmly in the Bean Bracket.
Fortunately, Izzo(H.O.V.A.)’s got your back. The way to play it in the first game is combo – Bidding’s trying to land so many cards in the graveyard for that huge post-Patriarch’s Bidding attaque that you can easily Brain Freeze them out in one huge Affinity elbow-drop. Usually, if you can take out twenty-one cards by turn 7 or so, you can pretty much deck them on the spot – and this is a deck that can easily cast seven spells in a turn.
The problem is, of course, surviving until then. You can bring out your own beats, of course, but this removal-light deck has problems with Sparksmith. Your odds of winning are maybe 40% in the first game.
But the second game, when you bring in the remaining Brain Freezes and Fabricates to buy you time and turn this into a full-fledged combo deck… You have probably a 70% chance – well, keeping in mind that all statistics are filthy lies and sometimes Goblins just wins.
But Jimmy and I have playtested this match extensively, and we really don’t think it’s a problem once you get the right strategy – which is to stall for as long as you can, until you can go for the throat in one move. Put as few permanents on the table as possible, and keep a Gilded Light handy for whenever they try to burn you out. It’s a walk, man, a walk.
Oops! That mad Froggie Gabriel Nassif did it again, even though technically Gabs has neither Britney’s fantastic abs or her inebriated marriage inclinations. This latest craze showcases the third method of keeping up with the Joneses in an amphetamine-crazed environment: Huge amounts of fast mana.
Alas, this deck was designed to beat Ravager, and as such you’ll feel the hate. You can beat it with a bit of luck, and occasionally your weenie beats (heh) will just swarm ’em under.
Here’s where the Annuls come in handy. Save ’em for the Mindslavers, the Platinum Angels, and (depending on your board position) Oblivion Stone. They don’t have a whole lot of ways of getting card advantage, so if you can find some way of dispatching a few of their threats, they will fold – the problem is dispatching threats. There’s a reason Wizards makes the powerful cards all expensive and shiznit, and when TwelvePost pays seven mana you feel the ache like a prisoner after the first day in the shower. It’s beatable, but just.
The good news is that nobody can play this deck properly except for pros, so you’re most likely going to be facing off against players who can’t tell a forest from a Forger. I have yet to meet anyone without a Pro Tour point who can play this deck and not lose.
Vs. Big Red
This deck’s dead, baby. It was good at Pro Tour: Kobe, when it took the field by surprise, but all you need’s one Circle of Protection: Red to tame this pup. Don’t worry about it.
If you have any questions on this, shoot me an email or catch me on AIM – I’m trying to get as much reader feedback as possible so that I know where to take future installments of this series, so don’t be shy. Think I’m full of it? Then bring it on to Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2.
All right, let’s be honest here. I could make up some stuff about how I didn’t have time for this, but let’s face it – much like J-ello, there’s always room for babes. And while I might not have been writing Magic, I still possess a penis. I’m always scoping for babes.
The fact is, I found one helluva site with pictures of Monica Bellucci, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, and Charlize Theron (thankfully not in her Monster makeup). But apparently, after catching the first draft of this, Ye Weaselly Overlorde put the ki-bosh on any and all pictures from this site. Me, I think nipples are wondrous things, fit to be seen by all… But the Ferrettster says that even if they’re under clothing, StarCityGames is a family site. Unless I take up an impromptu course in airbrushing areola (areolae? areolans?), you’re not seeing any of what I get to watch.
But man oh man, has that site been eating a lot of my time. So I can’t share, but I’ll give you a hint: the last three letters are”ing.com.”
All right, folks. I’m izzoutta here.