This week’s SCG Dailies are about Magic cards for Christmas. Specifically, they are about decks that I’ve created and given as Christmas presents. (Except for yesterday, which was about suggestions on what to give a new player if you have no clue about Magic.) Four or five years ago, my brother was still overseas in the Navy. At the time, he was stationed in Japan on the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. That was the first ship into the Persian Gulf after the attacks of September 11th, 2001. We didn’t see him for a couple of Christmases.
That didn’t mean that I wasn’t making and giving Magic decks as presents. Jonathan just wasn’t getting one. Instead, the two recipients of my decks were Jason (as usual) and John, at the time Jason’s friend and brother-in-law.
Jason, as I’ve stated, loves Green. Every deck I make for him has to have Green in it. At the time, though, Invasion Block was still on my mind. So, I wanted to make multi-color wackiness, not too tough at that point. Jason’s favorite card in Invasion Block: Armadillo Cloak. So, what if I could make a deck that had the Cloak and a creature that could behave that way? Thus was born:
I know that this doesn’t seem like much, and, from a tourney player’s perspective, it really isn’t. (You’ve probably also noticed that it’s only sixty cards even though on Monday I mentioned that I make them a hundred-plus cards now. That’s how we do it now because of the long games with decks like this.) At the kitchen table, though, this is one tough deck.
A double-kicked Necravolver is extremely tough to deal with, at least in our group. People aren’t usually playing with Confiscate-type spells or Terminate. Wrath of God is non-existent. At the time, most targeted creature destruction spells said that the creature had to be non-Black. So, a 5/5, Trampling, life-gaining Volver was some good. Heaven forbid he should grab an Armadillo Cloak, too.
The deck’s not just about the ‘Volver, though. It had other tricks up its sleeve. Okay, well, really just one other trick that could win the game. A kicked Llanowar Elite especially one wearing an Armadillo Cloak is a lot of fun to swing with. (I promised Stacey Allen that I would not mention our draft matchup involving those two cards again. So, I won’t.)
The rest of the deck is merely there to enable the Necravolver or the Llanowar Elite, plain and simple. You may not like the Quirion Trailblazer (and, to be honest, I’m not a huge fan), but Jason loved her. “She grabs a land, and she blocks. What’s not to love?” I think he also likes the art.
Of course, I would never build a deck without a foil for it somewhere on the table. John was all about Red and Goblins. His favorite deck was a Goblin-Wall deck that kept getting bigger and bigger as each set was released. (Often, we’d have to remind him to add more lands, too.) He’d try to overrun you with Goblins and direct-damage burn spells while holding the ground with Walls. I updated the deck and made him this for that Christmas:
I actually built this deck to test John’s patience. John had a habit of doing silly things (like using Goblin Mason in a Wall deck when he was the only person playing with Walls) or making plays simply because he could when he really needed to wait. This deck could deal with a double-kicked Necravolver but only if John waited and planned.
The first thing to deal with the ‘Volver was the Callous Giant. In order to get the fifth point of power to Trample over to his opponent, Jason would have to assign four to the Giant. Since that would be prevented by the Giant’s ability, Jason would deal one and gain one. That’s it.
John could also deal with the ‘Volver by using Reckless Abandon. Of course, there are only four of those in the deck. Mostly, he’d have to hold cards and make plays like block with Wall of Razors and cast Scorching Lava. If he were patient, he’d be rewarded by being able to cast some huge Fireballs.
When we played that pre-Christmas weekend, I had my deck in sleeves. What was in the deck wasn’t important. It wasn’t as good as the other two. On purpose. But, it did have several rares, many of them lands that I wanted to keep in good shape for using elsewhere. Playing these decks in sleeves was quite unusual for our kitchen-table tourneys. Typically, none of the decks were worth spending that much money on.
You see, I had this… this feeling that something was going to happen. Jason and my wife Luanne say that I worry too much. I prefer to think of it as solving the problem before it happens so that I don’t have to worry. (Psychologists call this “Defensive Pessimism” or D.P. if you want to look it up. Turns out that people like me are actually less stressed than most folks because, when something bad does happen, instead of running around screaming “Something bad’s happened! What do we do?!?,” we just look around calmly and apply the solution that we’d already prepared. Some companies actually screen for D.P. because those employees are best in crisis situations.)
That night, John had decided that we’d drink wine while playing. It was a nice change of pace. Instead of beer and pizza, we had wine and pizza. At some point, John decided that I needed more wine. I wanted to bring my glass to the counter to be refilled; he wanted to pour the wine into my glass on the table.
“John, you’re gonna spill the wine everywhere and get it all over the cards.”
“No, I won’t.”
John then proceeded to pour the wine directly onto my deck. It didn’t slosh out of the glass. The force of the pouring didn’t tip the glass over. He literally poured it right onto my deck as if it was the wine glass. Thanks goodness for sleeves.
Join me tomorrow when I look at this year’s Christmas gift decks.