Scouse of Cards – Missing a Pro Tour

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The forums have spoken… and the new name for my column is “Scouse of Cards.” Thanks to everyone who suggested names! Today, I bring you an underpowered PTQ Lorwyn cardpool. How would you go about building a winning deck? I also crank up the emo dial and share the tale of woe that is my non-attendance at Pro Tour: Valencia…

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Pro Tour: Valencia was a washout.

Yeah yeah, I know… insert humorous “torrential rain” joke here. Not really funny when you remember that folk actually died in the storm. No, by washout, I mean that the Pro Tour for which I qualified early, the Pro Tour for which I’d practiced hard, the Pro Tour that promised me my first foray to Spain, lay out of my reach in the most irritating fashion.


Because I lost my passport.

I recently moved house. Not far, as it happens… I moved down a single flight of stairs, through a door, and approximately twenty paces to the left in a languid saunter. From number 89 to number 71 on the same street. My fiancée and I, notorious packrats, loaded up a shopping cart and wheeled it back and forth for the best part of two days. It sounded like a great idea at the time — cheap, simple, and not as ridiculous as hiring some bull-necked goons to shift a thousand DVDs ten yards down the street. In practice, it was hell. Sparta hell. Next time, I’m hiring luggers to move me even if I’m only going from the couch to the kitchen.

In the move, I put my passport in a safe place.

Once moved, I had a month in which to find my passport. But I knew where it was. It was in the kitchen draw, next to the spare light bulbs. I’d checked. I could see it, nestled with my fiancée’s passport, maroon leather creased with use.

With three days to go before departure, and my Adrian Sullivan Destructive Rock deck sleeved and ready, I fetched my passport from the kitchen.

It wasn’t my current passport. It was my old, expired, useless passport.

No matter, I thought. My real passport is here somewhere. The house is small, and the possible hiding places were minimal. I’d find it.

I didn’t.

I had three days in which to locate my documents. In truth, I’d exhausted everywhere sensible after 24 hours. Then it was the shed, the kettle, the microwave, the unexplored loft. Still I kept searching.

I leafed through every book I own. I opened every CD, every DVD. Nothing.

I phoned the passport office. Surely I could get a replacement, even if it cost me a testicle. Apparently not… you can renew a passport in a day, but replacing one takes the minimum of a week. Any contingency plans, emergency measures? No.

I phoned the Spanish embassy. Could a temporary visa be set up? No, of course not. You need a passport to travel to Spain from the UK (hell, to travel anywhere outside the UK). If I wanted to get to the tournament, they suggested, my time would be better spent looking for my damn passport.

I finally gave up five hours before takeoff. Even if I’d found it then, I’d spent the last three days looking for a passport rather than preparing for departure. Articles planned for my absence lay unedited, and luggage remained unpacked. I hefted the last triple-explored box back onto the pile, and that was that.

I cried.

Yup, I cried. Thirty-three years old, with hot tears streaming down my face. It meant so much, and missing it was unthinkable.

Ten minutes later, I firmed up. It’s only cardboard, I said to myself. Yeah, right.

I followed on the coverage. When I saw the aborted Day 1 debacle, I silently prayed that the entire show would be rescheduled. That couldn’t actually happen, of course… it’d be a logistic and possibly litigious nightmare. When faced with adversity beyond their control, Wizards did a grand job of turning a collective frown upside down, and my hat is tipped to them. Even so, I wanted the whole shebang put back a few weeks.

Some people made Top 8, and a guy won it. I wasn’t that bothered. I didn’t even watch the Top 8 coverage, which was a definite first for me. I’ve since caught up on the metagame, but back then it could go f*** itself.

The whole thing is behind me now. I’ve done y mourning. In the grim light of day, it seems my deck of choice didn’t kick out the shins of the competition as well as we’d hoped. So I’ll crack a smile when you poke fun of me with “hey Craig, found yer passport yet?” or “lucky this tournament is in your home-town!” But only the once. Because even though I’ve put it behind me, when reminded I can still feel the gnawing dread in my stomach as the hours of fruitless searching rolled by.

Two days ago, I played a PTQ for the upcoming tournament in Kuala Lumpur. They say that if you fall off a horse, you must climb back into the saddle as quickly as possible. I’m desperate to get back on the tour, and to make it count. If there’s one thing I learn from Valencia, it’s that such opportunities are scarce.

I’m in Manchester. It’s raining, and the venue has just opened after being locked for two hours due to an organizational oversight. I’m sitting down, and registering a powerful cardpool that includes Gaddock Teeg, Doran, and Wort. Laughing, joking, noting down the cards. Passing it back, and waiting.

Here’s what I received:

As usual, the cards were ordered alphabetically, obeying the WUBRG color order. So when I flicked myself through the White cards, I presumed I had a pretty powerful selection with which to work. Sadly, I was wrong.


Even at first glance, White stands proud. Wizened Cenn is the Kithkin flag-bearer , and he’s admirably backed by Goldmeadow Harrier and Plover Knights. Cloudgoat Ranger supplies some bomb-level evasion, and combos nicely with the double Kithkin Greatheart (as does Hillcomber Giant). Oaken Brawler is fine, and both Harpoon Sniper and Veteran of the Depths play well with others of their tribe.

However, there is one niggling splinter in the White pile’s thumb…

No removal.

No Oblivion Ring, no Crib Swap… without at least a Ring, the overall power level drops dramatically. We don’t even have a Surge of Thoughtweft. White without tricks is just guys.

I’ll still run this color. It brings the beats, and I found in testing that consistency and curve are more important in Lorwyn than in formats past. Not that they weren’t important before… they’re just more important now.


Here’s where I made my first big mistake.

I overlooked this color entirely.

No Mulldrifter equals no mercy, or so I inexplicably thought this gray Saturday morning. In the harsh glare of review, I can see the power and synergy in the Blue cards… Merrow Reejerey, Merrow Harbinger, Stonybrook Angler, Turtleshell Changeling. All playable Merfolk. Tideshaper Mystic isn’t that bad, and Sentinels of Glen Elendra are brilliant. Couple the merfolk with the ridiculous Harpoon Sniper, and the funky Veteran of the Depths, and we have the kernel of a playable pile.

But still, there’s something missing. The power merfolk — the Silvergill Dousers, the Drowner of Secrets — are absent. There’s no real trickery here, no funky interactions with which we can dominate the board. Again, it seems like it’s just guys. Even so, there’s a playable shape forming in the U/W camp. Or there would’ve been had I taken more time.


Whenever a new Limited format is introduced to the world, I flounder. I feel lost at sea, treading water until someone more proficient can point me in the right direction. I like picking up Limited tips and tricks from the Magic community, as if I’m not told what’s good early on, I have difficulty evaluating cards in a vacuum.

This Black, for example… is it good?

Yeah, the double Hornet Harasser seems fine, and the singleton Dreamspoiler Witches could be powerful if we’re packing multiple instant-speed effects. Nameless Inversion and Eyeblight’s Ending are great, but we know this already. And cards like Colfenor’s Plans we can largely ignore. It’s cards like Squealing Pie Sneak, Moonglove Winnower, Skeletal Changeling… cards that appear on the periphery of the cardpool. They’re the cards that throw me off.

Even so, I feel that the Black cards here are not main-color worthy. A splash is more than possible, of course, if only for the two removal spells on offer. Or the seeping effect of the Final Revels.


I’ve heard great things about Red in Lorwyn, but I just don’t buy it. Folk are full of stories about turn 4 Aethersnipes, multiple Elemental splashes, and chains of cheeky abilities forming massive, controlling, blowout turns. Smokebraider, Inner-flame Igniter, Inner-flame Acolyte… synergies coming out of the wazoo.

Thing is they’re just so weedy.

On the other end of the scale, we have the big boys. Sadly, the giants have giant appetites in regards to mana consumption. I feel they’re only playable as a tribe (as opposed to one-off fat guys) when powered by one or more Stinkdrinker Daredevils. And to be truly frightening, you need Harbingers and the colossal Thundercloud Shaman. In this pool, we’ve the foot soldiers, but no generals. We do have the slow-but-strong Ashling the Pilgrim… but is he really a bomb? Can bombs be so fragile?

I think we have playable Red. Indeed, At this point in the proceedings I’m thinking White/Red with a tiny Black splash.

Then a huge monster scared the resolve out of me.



A 6/6 trampling game-winner. Heavy on the colored mana, but surely a drop-and-win card.

I wanted to play this guy so badly… but did the rest of the Green cards support him?

Frankly, no.

Double Fertile Ground is very special, as the mana-fixing offered means multiple color splashes are easily managed. Maybe I can pack both Nameless Inversion and Lash Out in a base Green/White build?

Of course, mana acceleration does not win Limited games unaided. And here’s where the Green in this pool falls down. The guys… they guys just aren’t there.

Vigor? Yes. Changeling Titan? Absolutely. Woodland Changeling? More than fine. Battlewand Oak? In the right deck, sure. Elvish Branchbender? Well, if we have the elves… Oakgnarl Warrior? Probably not.

Down the slope we slide.

This Green is nearly there. So close. But on reflection, I shouldn’t have ran Forests at all.

I did, of course. I’m silly that way.

In the end, I took the Vigor and the White cards, and mashed them up. The Fertile Grounds allowed me many a splash option, but I remained conservative and stuck to a modest Black number.

Here’s what I ran:

I’ll not lie, I was this close to running Red/White and splashing for Vigor. Smokebraider works wonders, after all.

There’s a better build in here, of that there’s no doubt. Do you have the minerals to find it? If so, come share your love-juice in the forums. I for one would like feedback on this pool, as I believe it’s pretty tricky.

In four rounds of play, I pulled a record of 1-3. Each time, it seemed better cards spelled my doom. I won the second, largely through mana issues on the part of my opponent. The third, that knocked me out (sixty people in total, a fine number for a wet weekend in Manchester), saw me waste my Eyeblight’s Ending on an irrelevant guy on Turn 3 (after my one- and two-drop and a land stall made me think I needed to force through the damage). Down came Brion Stoutarm next turn, and that was all she wrote. The fourth match, played for jollies while waiting for a teammate, saw me lose 2-1… with Vigor in play in both the games I lost. Ringskipper beat me from five to zero game 1, and topdecked Galepowder Mage followed by topdecked Cloudgoat Ranger, when I had established slender control, took me down in the third.

So it seems that simply wanting something badly is not enough to ensure it actually happens. Nevertheless, I’ve another PTQ coming this weekend… with a stronger cardpool and a little more luck, maybe I’ll get to Kuala Lumpur after all.

And if I do qualify, the first thing on my agenda?

A new passport.

Believe me, it’s not happening twice.

Until next week…

Thanks for listening.

Craig Stevenson
Scouseboy on MTGO
Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2

PS: Cheers to the mighty tnert for providing my new column name! While I liked Craigslist (and will be using it for a section of my future articles for sure), and I laughed at Searing Editation… how could I turn down Scouse of Cards?

PPS: This article may seem overly negative, even despondent. It comes off the back of the abovementioned woeful PTQ performance, and some hideous online release event shenanigans. However, my wonderful fiancée has recently bought me a top-notch laptop, and in actuality I’m as happy as a veritable bevy of Larries. Shiny toys! Yay!

Click here for more info on Grand Prix Daytona Beach!