I had nightmares over the last card pool.
“It’s packed with bombs,” I told myself, breathing deep. “Just plug the best cards together, work out a mana base, and Bob’s your uncle!”
Unfortunately, this ain’t Mirrodin. Simply throwing the best spells together is not a recipe for success. After all, Kamigawan spells need colored mana.
I hemmed and hawed, trying Green, and Blue and Red. I splashed this way and that, the cards dancing before me with a derisory grin.
Eventually, I came up with a decent deck. I plumped for the right colors (I think), and played the top-end beef-spells. But after the dust had settled, I still wasn’t sure.
They won’t like this, I thought. There’ll be tears on the Forum before bedtime.
Strangely, I was mistaken.
Most people agreed with the broad sweep of my choices. Yes, there was dissent in the detail, but nothing too radical. A few folk championed Green, but I knew this would happen when I built the thing.
I felt a light flick on in my brain.
Nice one, I thought. Maybe I’m not so bad at Limited after all.
Then I turned to the next card pool… and the light died.
I hope you enjoy this one.
Here are your raw materials, folks. Build me a fortress.
2 Cage of Hands
Call to Glory
Hundred Talon Kami
Kami of the Painted Road
Reverse the Sands
Lifted by Clouds
Peer Through Depths
2 Psychic Puppetry
Dance of Shadows
Kami of the Waning Moon
2 Nezumi Cutthroat
Seizan, Perverter of Truth
2 Devouring Rage
Shimatsu the Bloodcloaked
2 Yamabushi’s Flame
2 Joyous Respite
Order of the Sacred Bell
Tenza, Godo’s Maul
No land this time? Bonus!
Contenders, are you ready?
Gladiators, are you ready?
Three… two… one…
The obligatory joke:
Q: What’s green and sings songs?
A: Elvis Parsley.
How did you do? Did you come up with a good build?
In fact, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. You’ll only make me jealous.
Here are my thoughts. Synchronize watches…
Like the previous pool, we have a pair of the common White bomb. Cage of Hands is fantastic. Removal of any form is a premium, but reusable removal is wondrous pretty. The Cage is the best in the set.
Sadly, man cannot live on removal alone. For spells, we need combat tricks and funk, options that make our toes tap to the wild white beat. So what do we have?
- Ghostly Prison. How the hell do you imprison a ghost? A ghost’s most famous attribute is the ability to walk through walls. Of course, it could be the prison that’s the ghost, made to house real people… but that doesn’t work either. If I were a jailbird, incarcerated in a Ghostly Prison, I’d sprint through the walls and make my escape faster that you could say “menace to society”… Oh yeah, play this card.
- Call to Glory is a situational, deck-dependant, samurai-pumping filler card. Sure, it does neat things in the right deck, and it can wreck an unprepared opponent, but a quick scan of the creatures available in this pool shows that it’ll never make the cut.
- Cleanfall: when you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherf***ing enchantment in the room. Accept no substitutes. Don’t be silly, put the card away.
- Terashi’s Cry is a 23rd card, one that I’d be unhappy playing under most circumstances. Then again, if your deck is poor then this might just squeak you a few seat-of-the-pants victories.
A fifty-fifty split in playables and unplayables. Three decent spells make a fair splash, or a strong basis from which to build a main color should the creatures allow. Kabuto Moth, Kitsune Blademaster… White has the tools. Unfortunately, they’re not present in this toolbox.
- On the plus side of good, we have the Mothrider Samurai. He’s the standard 2/2 flyer for four, but his Bushido makes for a decent combat trick. But there’s something wrong with him. He’s a Samurai… riding a moth. Surely this image is askew. For a start, Samurai look pretty heavy. Moths are wispy, flitting things, surely incapable of lifting a medieval Japanese warrior. But most perturbing is the fact that if your army consists of giants moths, all the opposition need do is conjure up a giant light-bulb and the war is lost.
- Kitsune Healer is another staple, a guy who prevents one damage. At four mana, he’s pricey… but he’s a 2/2 body who can protect a legend if the need arises. He’s a player, if not particularly enticing.
- Kitsune Diviner is an attacking behemoth! He can swing for zero, and can block other zero-power guys all night long!! He’s got an ability, but that’s unimportant. Play him for his beatdown prowess!
- Completing the Kitsune Klan is the Kitsune Mystic. He does things with enchantments, so he’s hardly enchanting. Pop him in the fifty-cent rare box.
- The white zebra chants ever so silently, but if you listen really hard, you can pick up his mournful whispers… “Why am I so crap? I wish I did something cool. I hate myself and I want to die.”
- Kami kami kami kami kami Chameeeeeleeeeooooooon… We have three Kami, each weighing in at a hefty five mana. Kami of the Painted Road is clunky, but works well in an appropriate deck. Innocence Kami can tap guys, untaps with spirit and arcane triggers, and is a pretty decent piece of pseudo-removal. And the 2/3 flyer for five that is Hundred-Talon Kami is passable but ironically clawless.
- The last creatures of the rather large pool of men both come down for a single White mana. The Devoted Retainer is nice early on, but he’ll hardly cut the mustard on turn ten. As for the Bushi Tenderfoot… I’m not playing with Hobbits, and that’s final.
So, White has some nice guys, but nothing stupid. They’re nice enough at the edges, one and five mana guys, but the jam in this particular donut is nowhere to be found. No three-drops in White means we miss the two best creatures available for the color.
A splash? Definitely.
A main color? Maybe.
Now let’s have a bit o’ blue, for the dads…
Happily, we can discount the Blue spells pretty early on. They include some decent, playable cards, but nothing that warrants a splash, and nothing that could form the bones of a deck.
- Consuming Vortex and Mystic Restraints are decent cards. I’d happily play both in a base-Blue deck, and possibly splash the Vortex if I had a Blue dragon in my pool. The Mystic Restraints is the stronger of the cards, but the double Blue means that splashing this is unadvisable.
- Hisoka’s Defiance and Thoughtbind are narrow counterspells. You shouldn’t need to play narrow counterspells in Limited. The Defiance is the better of the two, as it prevents almighty Dragons from seeing any action. Side it in if there are winged horrors ruling your roost.
- Lifted by Clowns is not good. I’ve said it before. Want to make your guys fly? Take them to your happy place. And no, I’m not talking about your sister’s panty-drawer.
- Psychic Puppetry has double bonus action. It taps a permanent… or it untaps a permanent! The card claims to be psychic, but I don’t believe it. If it was, it would know what I’m thinking right now, and it’d start crying.
The guys come next, and they’re missing the mighty Teller of Tales. Without him, they all seem so puny.
- Callous Deceiver isn’t totally awful, but I’d be unhappy if he was the best I could do. Sometimes, he may fly.
- Graceful Adept is rubbish. He may hold back a 2/1 for a while, but overall I’d rather be playing cards to win the game, rather than cards that simply delay defeat. And his ability? “You have no maximum hand size.” This is only useful if you’re a penniless glovemaker searching for a Giant customer.
- Hisoka’s Guard? Wasted card.
- The River Kaijin has its uses. As we’ve mentioned before, it can stave of the probing blades of opposing Blademasters, and it can trigger spirit and arcane abilities. I’ve a feeling that this card is pretty important in some archetypes, the same way in which Mistform Wall was indispensable in Onslaught U/R drafts.
- Rounding off the Blue guys, we have the Soratami Triplets. The Mirror-Mage is expensive, and his ability is mana-intensive (though admittedly powerful). The Rainshaper is nice, because as long as you have enough mana, your guys cannot be killed by targeted spells. At five mana, the Seer has the most degenerate ability, but at a measly 2/3, he’s outshone by what we are missing.
I know there are some nice Blue spells here. But they aren’t quite nice enough. Flyers are good, and they get the job done… but I want to win with a little integrity, if it’s all the same to you.
I’m teaching my girlfriend to play Magic. She seems interested, or at least she feigns interest very well.
The thing is, she’ll only play decks that include rats.
I don’t know why this is the case. She’s never struck me as a particularly “ratty” person. Still, she crams her decks with Chittering, Ravenous, Relentless Rats.
The new set is her friend. She loves the Marrow-Gnawer, and the flip-card-rats. But she has a quibble.
“Well, they look like rats. And the card tells me they’re rats. Buy what the f**k are Nezumi?”
A quick primer for WoTC:
An Akki is not a Skirk is not a Goblin.
A Loxodon is not an Elephant.
And a bloody Nezumi is not a Rat.
- So… Nezumi Cutthroat. He’s pretty good. 2/1 effective shadow-guy for two mana? I’ll take two, please.
- Villainous Ogre blah blah blah can’t block blah blah 3/2 for three blah blah Kai Budde blah blah blah the flamingos, the flamingos!
- Cruel Deceiver is a decent enough guy. Even if he never triggers his ability, he’s still a 2/1 for two mana. And his ability means he can take down the best of them.
- Look at the powerful Gibbering Kami! Watch as he takes to the sky, spreading fear into his enemies! See how he laughs as they crumble beneath him! Pin back your ears, and behold his mighty gibber!! He’s a 2/2 flyer for four. Standard fare, playable card.
- At first, I wasn’t a fan of the Ashen-Skin Zubera. This charred and blackened Zebra could take a running jump. But he does have his uses. After all, he’s a perfect foil to an opposing turn 2 Nezumi Cutthroat. I wouldn’t play him all the time, but I’d bear him in mind after sideboarding. This guy is a team player through and through.
- So what of Seizan? I think this guy is controversial. A 6/5 for five mana? Sounds good. Thing is, he gives each player a Night’s Whisper in their upkeep… and your opponent gets the first draw. If he’s preceded by Cutthroat beats and decent removal, this guy will power through games like sh** through a goose. But if your opponent untaps and kills him, you’ll feel three inches tall. Luckily, only Rend Spirit and Pull Under are truly effective against this guy, so he’s a decent chance of living. Personally, I think he’s great.
- Deathcurse Ogre? Kami of the Waning Moon? Not if you can avoid it.
So the Black guys are deep, and strong. The litmus test of Black, however, lies in the quality of its removal…
We do have some decent support cards, however. Just not the ones that kill things.
- Soulless Revival is more than playable, especially in a creature-light deck. One use of this is all you need, but the splice option gives you much to ponder as you cast your spells.
- Dance of Shadows is a pure-and-honest finisher. Draw, cast, win.
- Other than these, we have a couple of respectable discard spells in Distress and Waking Nightmare. I’m uncomfortable with discard in Limited, but if it rocks your socks then knock yourself out.
In summary for Black… The guys are good, and there are a couple of bombs. While the removal is light, we have some nice removal in White (and, looking ahead, Red). And double Cutthroat cannot be ignored.
I think Black may feature in the final reckoning.
2 Cage of Hands.
2 Nezumi Cutthroat.
This is getting tricky.
Let’s leave aside the spells for a second, and concentrate on the guys. After all, we need the pounders.
- Earthshaker, as the name suggests, should rock the World. With a decent spirit/arcane count, he’s an Earthquake every turn. Unbeatable. Let’s hope he has some support. I mean, come on now… I must open some decent Red creatures soon…
- …Akki Avalanchers, crap goblin…
- …Akki Coalflinger, slightly better goblin…
- …unplayable Battle-Mad Ronin…
- *throws Red cards across the room*
I suppose, after the ridiculous Onslaught Red, that the death of the little Red machine was inevitable. But it’s still so hard to stomach.
Well, we’ve had the Double Cage Song… How about the Double Flame Song?
Are your matches fairly tame?
Want success in this fine game?
All you need for instant fame
Is Double Yamabushi’s Flame!
Lost again? Oh, what a shame!
No-one but yourself to blame?
Do you think these songs are lame?
Double Yamabushi’s Flame!
*drops the microphone and dodges rotten fruit*
- Double Devouring Rage… this card is getting a few supporters in the Forums. Granted, it’s a powerful effect… but it needs a place in a very spirit-heavy deck to make the leap to truly fantastic card.
- Blood Rites is solid, reusable removal. I’d love to play it, especially with a boardful of Zebras. This card pool, however… it’s not worth the effort.
- Uncontrollable Anger is something I associate with Kamigawa Red. Not because of this card, mind. I feel angry because these red cards aren’t Onslaught powerhouses. The Anger is a fine card, channel it if you can.
- Unnatural Speed, have you met Strange Inversion? You’d better get to know one another, boys… you’ll be spending a lot of time together. Chained to the radiator in the basement.
As usual, Red has some standout cards, but nothing to support them. I’ll probably splash for the Flames, but that’s it.
Onto Green, the guy machine…
The first thing we want in Green? Decent creatures…
Then, mana acceleration…
Pump Effects? Combat Tricks?
Green is good to go!
- The Mana-Fixers for this pool are splendid. We have Rampant Growth Guy, a.k.a. Ha Ha Dead Elf a.k.a. Sakura-Tribe Elder. He is a fantastic card. We have the Orochi Sustainer, a.k.a. Snake Myr. He serves a valuable purpose, especially since we have a remiss of three-drops once again. Lastly, we have the Kodama’s Reach, fetching lands and thinning decks in tournaments the World over.
- The majority of the playable creatures in Green come down on turn 4, without acceleration. We have Raymond Burr Grafter, the impressive Order of the Sacred Bell, the tricky Feral Deceiver and the regenerating Kashi-Tribe Reaver.
- At two mana, we have the Orochi Ranger, a respectable 2/1. There’s also the Dripping-Tongue Zubera, who acts as a poor-man’s Penumbra Bobcat. He’s nothing special. Then there’s the Soilshaper, a card on which I’ve yet to form an opinion. In the right deck, he adds offensive muscle.
- Anyone else? We have the Venerable Kumo, who needs putting out to pasture. And I have a message for the Jukai Messenger: Sod Off. You’re not wanted here.
Alongside these, we have two Joyous Respites. Or, more accurately, we have the four torn halves of two Joyous Respites.
As usual with this block, the Green here has thrown me into turmoil. I was set for a W/B/r deck, admittedly with weaknesses… but the Green has a tendency to shake you by the gonads until you hobble to the Land Station and pick up a Forest.
At this stage, I haven’t a clue what to build.
We’ve two cards left. Let’s see what they are…
We have two pieces of equipment?
I hardly ever got two pieces of equipment in bloody Mirrodin.
Both pieces are good, but the No-Dachi is the obvious standout. +2/+0 and first strike? Where do I sign?
Tenza, Godo’s Maul, is situational. In a heavy Red deck, then it’s fine, but sometimes it’ll be nothing more than an expensive Leonin Scimitar.
Remember, kids: equipment has risen in value now the artifact-hate block has passed to the Limited graveyard. Sing praise to the machine, and drop your No-Dachis without fear.
So there are the players, the movers and the stayers. I suppose I’d better release my build.
Those of you with a nervous disposition, please turn away now. And those of you with sensitive sight, please put on your tinted goggles.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you… the Rainbow.
Order of the Sacred Bell
2 Nezumi Cutthroat
Seizan, Perverter of Truth
Dance of Shadows
2 Cage of Hands
2 Yamabushi’s Flame
1cc = 0
2cc = 6
3cc = 1
4cc = 5
5cc = 1
6cc = 0
7cc = 0
8cc = 0
My eyes! My beautiful eyes! It burns us, oh how it burns!
Shut up! I have my reasons!
Let the defence begin…
First, I want to play the good spells. In White, we have the Cage and Prison. Black gives us the Cutthroats and Seizan, Red the Flames. And Green supplies the mana-fixers and decent all-round guys.
The deepest pools are the Green and White. Thus, we play G/W/r, yes?
The thing is with G/W, is that all the bloody guys cost four mana. A few utility midgets, then boom! Big lads. I didn’t fancy having a glut of four-cost muppets clogging the sink like a balding hippy.
Playing G/W/r also means that the best two-drop in the set, Nezumi Cutthroat, isn’t on the team. And we have two of them. I’m not letting them sit out in the cold.
So we play W/B/r… But then we hit another problem: the White guys just aren’t as good as the Green ones. There’s another snag: without mana-fixing, we may miss out on casting the Flames when we truly need them
R/B/w? There’s not enough depth in Red. Sure, we have the big spells such as Earthshaker and Blood Rites, but precious few guys to make the meat on the mana-curve.
We end up coming to G/B/x.
G/B gives us decent acceleration, decent early guys, decent mid-range guys and a decent game-winner. But what do we splash? Do we ditch the Cage of Hands and the Ghostly Prison? Or do we bin the Yamabushi’s Flames? We must play something, after all.
Or do we simply play ’em both, pray to the mana-fixers and let the dice fall where it may?
I’ll leave that question to the philosophers.
This build is wrong. I don’t know why, it just is. Maybe W/B/r is the way to go after all. [Somebody got veeeery greedy with this one. Bad Scouser!- Knut, who thinks the mana base here is screwed up even if you do play the four colors.]
Whatever you think, it’d be nice to see you on the forums. Any input is gratefully received. Through the sharing of Limited ideas, I feel I’m improving as a player. Despite what you may have read today.
I really do need help at Limited, folks.
Come help me. Karma will reward your efforts.
I’ll be back on Thursday with a new card pool. Hopefully, my brain will be healed by then.
Until the next pile…
Thanks for listening.
Scouseboy on MTGO