SCG Daily — Since We’ve Got No Place to Go…

Today, the final weekday before Christmas, I will build a Christmas deck. Unlike all of the other decks that I’ve talked about this week, though, this will be (a) Standard legal and (b) designed to play a two-player game, not a three-or-more-player game…

Today, the final weekday before Christmas, I will build a Christmas deck. Unlike all of the other decks that I’ve talked about this week, though, this will be (a) Standard legal and (b) designed to play a two-player game, not a three-or-more-player game. The wonderful thing about creating a Christmas-themed deck is how easily all of the secular icons of the holiday mesh with Magic’s colors. Think about it. What are the colors of Christmas? Red and Green with some White. (White is often only in there by default because of snow occurring in Winter; a hemispherist take on the holiday, to be sure. While I’m dreaming of a White Christmas and knowing that it could very well happen, Talen Lee and Rivien Swanson might be ogling ladies in string bikinis – or less – on sun-drenched beaches come December 25th.) So, we have Red and Green. Red is the color of the fires over which Chestnuts roast, and the color of Blaze. Green – the color of mana acceleration, pine trees, and holly – gives us Elves. From what I hear, Santa Claus, champion of pointy-eared li’l folks, was a right, jolly old elf himself. So was Will Ferrell.

(Interesting Holly Story/Digression: I was at a large crafts store with my wife and her sister over the Thanksgiving holiday. One of the major displays they had was a huge stack of wooden nativity scenes, boxed up and ready to go home and adorn your end table. The big, white lettering on the box described the item as a “Holly Family Display.” I had not known Jesus, Mary, and Joseph’s surname before this. Apparently, they were the Holly Family. I can just imagine Joseph at the carpenter’s guild mid-Winter family get-together. “Have you met my wife, Mary Holly, and my son Jesus Holly?”) (No, I’m not worried about that. I look in the mirror every day. I know that God has a sense of humor.)

If we really want to stretch things out, we can add Blue. Blue is the color of water, which becomes ice and snow at lower temperatures. We also have the added advantage of Coldsnap giving us lots of snow-related permanents this year. (You could push the issue and say Black is like coal, the “present” for bad boys and girls, but I challenge you to find a Black card that’s in the spirit of the season.) [Greed? — Craig, cynic.]

The question, then, isn’t whether we can make a Red-Green deck that’s Christmas-y. The question is can we make a decent R/G Christmas deck. I say “Yes!” Since my column focuses on Standard, I’m even going to make the deck Standard legal.

I think I got too cute with this deck. I’ll go through the cards, and you can see what I mean. First off, all of the lands are Snow lands. Not a problem, what with Christmas songs like “White Christmas” touting the joys of snow. (Interestingly, “Jingle Bells” was not originally a Christmas carol. It was actually written about going to Thanksgiving dinner. It has since, of course, been co-opted by Christmas carollers. I’m guessing part of the reason was because there weren’t any other Thanksgiving songs to sing after you were done with “Jingle Bells.” One song does not a concert make. Unless there’s a really long drum solo.)

To help you grab those lands we have an Elf (Civic Wayfinder) and Into the North. And where does Santa go when he’s done delivering toys and coal? That’s right, into the North, specifically up to the North Pole. Clearly, I had to drop Llanowar Elves in here. They’re Elves, for cryin’ out loud. They also get you a possible second-turn Burning-Tree Shaman.

Speaking of the BTS, here’s where I probably got too cute from the perspective of this being a good deck. Burning-Tree Shaman was just too good to pass up, both because it’s a great card and because it’s loaded with Christmas flavor. If you don’t get the Christmas tie-in, shame on you. Now go watch Christmas Vacation.

The too-cute part was adding Stuffy Doll. What little girl doesn’t want a doll for Christmas? The problem is that you don’t want to use its activated ability too much with the Shaman on board. Plus, I had written about the card a lot in the past five weeks or so. I just couldn’t resist, though. It’s so cute. After all, it’s a Stuffy Doll!

Stalking Yeti serves two Christmas-related purposes. First, a Yeti’s a snowman, just like Frosty, except without the fear of fire. Second, he can roast another creature’s chestnuts. Ditto with the Firemaw Kavu, who can roast both coming and going. Speaking of roasting… Blaze and Skred. In addition, Skred sounds a lot like “sled.” Argue if you want, but it stays.

Finally, we have Giant Growth. I thought about other growth spells, but this one has the best holiday-related flavor. Think Will Ferrell in Elf. With Giant Growth, you can make a creature ginormous!

So, that’s my Standard-legal Christmas deck for 2006.

I hope you enjoyed this last week before Christmas. I know that I did. I’ll see you again on Boxing Day! Merry Christmas!

Chris Romeo

Bonus Section That’s Probably Too Late to Do Any Good, But You Still Have Three Days

In 2002, I did an entire article on this subject. I ended that piece with my favorite Christmas albums of all time. Many of those (Tony Bennett’s Snowfall, Christmas of Hope) are still on the list. I just wanted to take this chance to alert you to some fun Christmas CDs that have been released since then and that you may have missed.

Barenaked Ladies, Barenaked for the Holidays: I could try to review this like they do in Rolling Stone and Spin, trying to convince you to get it. I don’t think I need to, though. I think all that needs to be said is that it’s a Christmas CD by Barenaked Ladies. Really, what else do you need to know?

Reverend Horton Heat, We Three Kings: Ditto. The Rev does Christmas. The end.

Sarah McLachlan, Wintersong: Buy it for the cover photo. Keep it for the music.

James Taylor, At Christmas: If ever a singer-songwriter was born to make Christmas music, it’s Sweet Baby James.

Diana Krall, Christmas Songs: Three things amaze me about Ms. Krall. First, her incredible, throaty voice. Second, her piano playing. Third, how she can play like that with such bad eyesight. It must be awful because she married Elvis Costello. I love his music, but have you seen the guy? Have you seen her? What’s the deal?

Anita Baker, Christmas Fantasy: Ever since I fell in love with Anita Baker’s voice twenty years ago, I was wondering when she’d do a Christmas album. Well, now she has.

Brian Setzer, Dig That Crazy Christmas and Boogie Woogie Christmas: You just can’t get enough boogie or woogie at Christmas. Mr. Setzer has seen fit to change that. – Chris