This weekend, I had the supreme pleasure of attending a PTQ in Milford, Massachusetts. I didn’t play in the qualifier; I was just karting Adam Chambers and Mike Hayner there for lack of anything less productive to do. Countless people still ask me whether I’m qualified, what I played in a PTQ, what my record was, etc., failing somehow to realize that I am a big bad professional. I am qualified for everything. Since I spent more than my fair share of time in the trenches, and since many people (perhaps rightfully so) get the impression that I’m “der infi stains,” I suppose the fact that I can buy and sell each and every one of you will take awhile to set in. I’m pretty sure that when the day finally arrives that people realize PTQs are far below me, I’ll be playing in them again. This should be sometime in October.
As Ken Krouner said, nothing is better than the first time you attend a qualifier for a Pro Tour for which you already earned an invitation. (Ken, of course, has never gotten a chance to watch himself play Dance Dance Revolution, so he’s slightly off base with that assessment). There’s good reason for this, though – PTQs are a tough racket, even if you’re one of the best people there. If you don’t believe me, ask formerly #1-rated Von Dutch how the dream-crush PTQ after their Pro Tour win went. It’s frustrating to be 4-1 and then make one mistake (to your opponent’s seventeen) that ends up costing you the match, losing to a bomb* or nearly-impossible matchup, or maybe just succumbing to good old-fashioned mana screw. You probably hadn’t gotten enough sleep, and you may not have been playing your best, and you really wanted to qualify for this tour, and all this grates at your nerves, putting you in a mindset where it’s even harder to win. Sometimes you’ll Top 8 without winning, earning yourself the consolation prizes of a box of the latest set and the chance to drive several hours next Saturday to another unspeakable dive and do it all again.
So yeah, the “victory lap” PTQ is sweeter than a Red Bull daiquiri, but as Ken also quipped, the novelty wears thin rather rapidly. Several hours in, everyone is still playing in the PTQ, and you’re wandering from match to match wondering what the hell you’re doing there. This phenomenon doesn’t affect me as profoundly as most because my time couldn’t possibly be less valuable and, more importantly, because I have a notorious penchant for bothering people. Sometimes this manifests itself in trying to irritate people I don’t like, as in the time at GP: Boston I pretended to cheer on Kyle Smith against his “stupid American” opponent who insisted that I not watch the match from his side of the table or, preferably, at all. Other times, I just look for a window to be a know-it-all, providing blinding flashes of insight to the befuddled masses. Needless to say, I was not the most popular student in my elementary school. Some people might not like to be bothered, so I usually restrict my “help” to friends or people who have somehow opened themselves up to it. Here’s some of what I saw in Milford.
Round one I got the pleasure of watching Mike Hayner somehow defeat a Teen Titans deck with a run-of-the-mill Goblin deck. On one of the final turns of the game, Hayner was at 13, and his opponent was at 17. His opponent controlled three lands, a Greaved Goblin Welder, and a tapped Bosh; Hayner had played his land for the turn and had 11-power worth of assorted goblins, no Vial, and no mana untapped. Hayner swung with all his men, completely tapping him out, and I figured he was done for. All his opponent had to do was take the hit, swing back with Bosh, Weld an artifact land back into play, and fling Bosh at Hayner’s skull. At the time, I thought Hayner should have left some men back so as not to die, but through Hayner’s obliviousness (or perhaps mastery), I learned something. While that play would have ensured survival through another turn, it would have still left his prospects for winning the game rather grim. Sometimes the only way to win is swinging for the fences and hoping your opponent doesn’t see the correct play. Hayner’s opponent ended up Welding Bosh for a Sundering Titan, blocking a random goblin, and swinging back. One or two attack steps later, Hayner was able to fling a topdecked Mogg Fanatic at his opponent’s nugget for the final point of damage the turn before he would have lost.
Hayner’s opponent provides us with an example of an important concept. Being able to see The Win when you’re sure your opponent has no conceivable way to stop you (or when you have to pretend like your opponent can’t stop you because him “not having it” is your only shot at winning) is one of the most rudimentary, yet valuable and oft overlooked, skills a PTQ or PT player can have. Sometimes the situation will be as simple as Shocking your opponent when he’s at 2 life; other times your path to victory will take the approximate form of a Mark Rosewater puzzle. Usually, it will be somewhere between. Regardless, it’s your job as a wizard to find the solution. You should always be on the lookout for the most expedient way to win the game. Don’t get so caught up in one plan of action that you miss an opportunity to take your opponent to 0 when key game conditions change.
I was watching Hayner again during round two. His opponent had chosen to eschew traditional Reanimator and traditional Cephalid Breakfast** for a more fragile and convoluted strategy, namely Aphetto Alchemist/Mesmeric Orb/Riftstone Portal-style Breakfast, as some “rogue” players are wont to do. The opponent managed to mise the combo game one while Hayner looked up at me with fearful eyes, having not a clue what was going on. Hayner killed an Alchemist, Overloaded a Mesmeric Orb, and attacked with men for a seamless game two victory, then plowed through a lackluster draw on his opponent’s end game three. Toward the end of game three, which was somewhere around turn 6, Hayner’s opponent was Brainstorming and complaining that he was seeing nothing but garbage. He went so far as to flash two lands to Hayner sanctimoniously as he put them back on top in hopes for a little empathy from the goblin player.
The problem with the above scenario? The lands he flashed to Hayner were Polluted Deltas! Since he was complaining, I figured I’d tell him his mistake. Whether he was calmly appreciative of my help or simply further ired by it made no difference to me. I sensed that he would be better off knowing and would be thankful for the information in the long run, and besides, I just like being right. That’s 5 points from Gryffindor for impertinence, Hermione.
I explained that the Polluted Deltas were there in part to shuffle away chaff from Brainstorms and net you fresh draw steps. The opponent’s demeanor indicated that he wasn’t willing to accept that he’d made an error, and he started rambling on about how it wouldn’t have made a difference blah blah blah. At this point, I didn’t waste any further energy explaining. Whether he was a casual player just playing in the PTQ for fun or simply unwilling to learn wasn’t really my concern. I can totally see where he’s coming from, though. For a fun exercise on how meaningless his foible was, the next time you’re falling behind in an important match, try skipping your draw step for three consecutive turns. You’re most likely to lose…just like you would have done even if you had drawn new cards! It’s tough to refute this kind of logic. You may have to be covert in carrying out your mission, though; a solid 12% of your opponents will probably have the scruples to remind you to draw.
A few seats down from Chambers’s whimsically entertaining Aluren mirror match round four was a precocious tot piloting Goblins against Scepter-Chant. I thought I saw a suspicious game state during game one, and I ended up being correct, but since I wasn’t sure and since two people who don’t know me would rather just play their match on their own, I didn’t say anything until afterward. The adorable four-year-old played a Goblin Pyromancer and swung with his troops. Upon declaration of attack, however, his opponent kicked up an Orim’s Chant. This seemed like a remarkable play, as rather than simply buying him a turn, it Wrathed the small child’s board.
The little kid had other plans, though, as he sacrificed his Pyromancer to flash back Cabal Therapy after combat, hence avoiding the disastrous end-of-turn trigger. I described this scenario to many people trying to figure out what they thought. Unanimously, they thought that this was a masterful play. What I was really wondering was whether they thought it was an honest mistake or blatant cheating; you can’t flashback a Cabal Therapy if someone plays a card that says “You can’t play spells this turn.” The fact that no one I talked to understood the implications of the play seems a solid argument in favor of “honest mistake.”
Watching the kid in action in later rounds seemed to indicate otherwise. When an opponent noticed a marked sleeve in the infant’s deck, he called a judge. The moment the judge arrived on the scene, the child started explaining what happened: “Judge, my opponent was shuffling my deck for, like, two minutes, and now I have a marked sleeve.” His eagerness at the prospects of a later-round opponent getting a game loss also seemed to provide evidence of poor character. I’m not saying it’s wrong to pump the fist at an opponent getting a game loss, even if it’s because he made an honest mistake like accidentally starting to search through his deck instead of his sideboard when he casts a Living Wish. I’m saying that if you’re cutthroat enough to do that, not only do you probably know how cards like Orim’s Chant work, but there’s also a chance you’ll cross the Michael Clair line of looking for any advantage possible in accordance with the rules into, um, “murkier waters.” Hopefully I’m wrong, and if I’m not, hopefully he’ll grow out of it when he leaves the womb.
The lessons here are to be alert even against the youngest or seemingly nicest opponents, and also, to know what your cards do. Innocent or not, the kid wouldn’t have gotten away with anything if his opponent had thought about what was going on. I told the opponent what happened after the match, and he didn’t seem to care. He never expected to do that well, and he was treating what happened like a play error, like he had played a Plains on turn 1 with two Swamps and a Wicked Akuba in his hand or something. There’s something for the forums, by the way, for Cbot123 and JimOfBeam (my only remaining fans) to discuss. Is failing to see a procedural error a mistake on the same level as a misplay like attacking a flier into a Venerable Kumo because you forgot about its ability?
In round five, Shock Boy*** was down a game and just about out of time in the round. He was playing the deck that he designed and LCG tweaked and piloted to a 2nd place finish at GP Boston, Cephalid Life. He was at 11 life, and his opponent was at 12. (I may be getting some details wrong, but perhaps his opponent will talk about this match at some point). His library was depleted, but unfortunately, his Sutured Ghoul was in his hand. Having no creatures to sacrifice to Therapy himself, Shock Boy saw his only option as Reanimating Krosan Cloudscraper. This left him at one life with one card left in his deck, but also with the proper mana to pay the Scraper’s upkeep the next turn without dying.
The Scraper picked up Dragon Breath and entered the red zone. The opponent, who controlled a Forbidden Orchard token and a freshly-cast Bone Shredder, took one look at the oncoming behemoth and packed up his cards. His rationale was probably that if he double-blocked the Cloudscraper and went to one, he’d simply lose to the monster on his next turn. What both players failed to realize was the fact that the Cloudscraper doesn’t trample. All the opponent had to do was chump with one of his creatures and crack back with the other for the win. Needless to say, this was a costly error; of note, however, is the fact that there’s a good chance he wouldn’t have made the error if the Scraper’s controller had known it didn’t trample. Not noticing something “obvious” can make one play so confidently that the opponent doesn’t see your misplay and hence doesn’t capitalize on it. Just yesterday I attacked a 1/1 flier straight into an opponent’s 1/3 flier when there was no way I could have done anything to kill the 1/3. Sometimes, your opponent has no way of knowing you don’t have a pump spell or whatever, but this was not one of those cases. There must be a way to harness this phenomenon’s awesome powers…
For the sake of some form of closure, I’ll say that both Chambers and Hayner made the Top 8 of the PTQ. Chambers lost in the semis, but Hayner somehow found his way to the finals by defeating Aluren and Life with his Goblin deck. What’s the name of that Arcane that gives a creature you control protection from a color? Some kind of “breath” maybe? Anyway, Hayner negotiated for the slot, and now I have at least one other person in Albany accompanying me to Philadelphia.
As probably won’t come as a complete surprise to you, that was just an introduction gone horribly verbosely awry. What I’m really here to talk about this week, obviously, are [author name="Craig Stevenson"]Craig Stevenson’s[/author] sealed pools from last week and how I’d build them. OBViously. Let’s take a look at the first one:
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Heart of Light
Kami of the Honored Dead
Kami of the Tattered Shoji
Counsel of the Soratami
Field of Reality
Guardian of Solitude
Kami of Twisted Reflection
Ribbons of the Reikai
Toils of Night and Day
Veil of Secrecy
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Blessing of Leeches
Mark of the Oni
Stir the Grave
Fumiko the Lowblood
This sealed pool looks a little weak in spots and, tragically, evenly spread among all the colors. There are some bombs and other solid cards, but the colors each seem to have about eight cards that I’d always want to play. It’s likely that I’ll have to splash some cards, something I prefer not to do. It will be difficult to build a solid, consistent tempo-based deck with these tools, so it seems the best option is to load the deck with the best cards and hope to maximize their effectiveness.
A cursory glance at the pool tells me I’m certainly going to play Black. Between Hideous Laughter, Throat Slitter, Scuttling Death, Rend Flesh, and of course Ko-ko-ko-ko-ko-ko-kokusho, there are too many game-breakers and removal spells to ignore the color. We’ll come back to Black in a moment.
I’m also probably going to play Red, for similar reasons. Fumiko the Lowblood is definitely one of the Top 5 cards in Betrayers, and Earthshaker can be a sealed bomb. It’s going to be hard to maximize the Glacial Ray, but its presence is still a solid pull in the direction of Red. It would be possible to cut Red if it were missing Cunning Bandit and any other color had any depth; I’ll take eight solid Blue cards over Fumiko, a hard-to-splice Ray, and six Kumano’s Pupils any day. The nature of this sealed deck, though, indicates that I should probably have Mountains in my deck.
It’s pretty easy to dismiss Green as an option on almost any level. There’s nothing at all special about it; it’s just a handful of solid creatures. I can’t see myself forcing a color in order to play random animals. I’m happy to have Gnarled Mass or Kami of the Hunt, but I won’t go out of my way to play them. If I’m going to play Green it has to be really deep, and it usually also has to have good tricks like Serpent Skin and/or a bomb like Sosuke or Jugan. Some card pools are just looking for a few good men to go with powerful spells in other colors, but there aren’t enough here to provide the backbone for such a deck. As it stands, the only fathomable use for this green is the remote possibility of splashing Matsu-Tribe Sniper and Moss Kami, probably not the most attractive choice.
Blue has several unplayables and a few shining stars, but it’s mostly just mundane chaff like Kami of Twisted Reflection and Callous Deceiver. I’m certainly open to the possibility of splashing cards like Shimmering Glasskite (a difficult-to-remove evasion creature that’s even better than it looks), Consuming Vortex, and the late-game card advantage Soratamis.
The White in this pool has a lot of potential. It’s somewhat shallow but still about as deep as it gets for this pile of 75. Kitsune Diviner, Kitsune Blademaster, Mothrider, Waxmane Baku, and Samurai of the Pale Curtain are all rather strong cards to have in my base color. Since I have those, I wouldn’t mind terribly if I had to play Devoted Retainer, the clunky late drops, and maybe even Heart of Light. If Red were missing any of the four cards I mentioned, I would strongly consider White as a main color. While solid, the White cards aren’t really conducive to splashing, barring perhaps the Mothrider Samurai.
All things considered, here’s what I decided on:
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Stir the Grave
Fumiko the Lowblood
This deck has a lot of powerful spells and some heavy colored mana requirements, so there’s no reason not to play 18 land. For those same reasons, I would probably advocate drawing with this deck. Incidentally, everyone loves to toss around the phrase “This is a tempo-based format,” but I would like to state for the record that that sentence is meaningless. Every format is tempo-based. Every format is also power-based. Until recently, people invariably started out each new format filling their decks with the most powerful spells without adhering to a strict mana curve. Then people made the amazing discovery that they could outrace their opponents simply by hitting all their drops and winning before the hapless opponent could solidify his defenses. Then people reach the inevitable conclusion that this must be THE key to the format in question. This happens in every draft block.
The truth of the matter is, there’s no format where you can fill your deck with five-drops and hope to defeat most opponents. There’s also no format where you can completely disregard power level in favor of speed. Is Kami of Ancient Law better than Yosei, the Morning Star because of the peculiar nuances of Champions block? Don’t be ridiculous. In some games, the two-power two-mana creature will pull its weight where the big ugly dragon would have been worthless. In others, you could really use that giant evasion monster. In every deck in every format, you have to strike some sort of balance. If your deck isn’t swinging for the fences every turn starting on turn 2, you should probably be trying to muster a defense against a deck that is. Don’t listen to anyone who gives you crappy blanket statements like, “This format is all about tempo.” And don’t ever really take Kami of Ancient Law over Yosei unless you’re Brian Hacker. You have to draw the line somewhere.
The point of all that was, not all draft games come down to riding the early tempo rush to victory, and even fewer sealed games come down to that, so it’s okay to draw first. Some decks may lack bombs and can only win by the aforementioned tempo approach. These should usually opt to play and should try to hold themselves to two colors. I tried to make this deck only two colors, especially considering the dodgy mana requirements. In fact, I probably would have watered the deck down somewhat by swapping out Blue for Long-Forgotten Gohei, Shuriken, and Twist Allegiance if not for the Waterveil Cavern.
I like a Distress in all my controlling decks, as it can pluck from my opponent’s hand the one card that either deals with my bomb or that I have no answers for. It can also help disrupt my opponent’s mana curve. When played on turn 2, I may be able to nab my opponent’s only three-drop, forcing him to pass an important turn without playing a card.
I’m coming to respect this card a lot lately, albeit not as much as Distress. They’re both pretty worthless in the late game, but Distress can steal the card I really want even if my opponent is padding his hand to play around Nightmare. Earlier in the game, quantity can matter more than quality if my opponent’s hand features multiple threats at each slot in his curve and no specific problem cards for my draw. I included it in this deck because of interactions with Glacial Ray, Earthshaker, and Cunning Bandit.
Stir the Grave
This is a mediocre card in most decks, but this deck has many creatures that win the game if left unchecked that I’d be happy to get back. My opponent may be able to kill Fumiko once, but it may be a lot harder to kill her twice. I’d much rather have a Soulless Revival, but then again, I’d also much rather have a billion dollars and be Mr. Amanda Bynes. [Bonus pic.] I’ll make do with the Stir the Grave.
When you splash a card, you have to realize that you won’t necessarily be able to play it on the “appropriate” turn. Therefore, it must be useful at any point during the game. Cloudskater fits the bill handily. If I somehow manage to drop this on turn two and maybe sneak out a Ninja with it, that’s a bonus. Most likely, it will come down in the later turns and turn excess lands and discard spells into something more worthwhile.
This deck doesn’t need a situational finisher that does nothing else. This would probably be the case even if the deck had enough spirits to make the Rage effective.
I’m not sure this shouldn’t be in the deck. The difference between its value and Devouring Rage’s arises from the relative likelihood of board situations that would maximize the cards’ effectiveness. This deck will probably not find itself in a position where it can sneak an evasion creature through in the late game with a few other spirits on the table for the amazing victory. It seems like I’m more likely to find myself with an empty board because of a lackluster draw and need to topdeck a card that can perform miracles. This deck seems well-suited to setting up a Twist victory if I should draw it relatively early in the game thanks to the discard, removal, and creatures that can sacrifice themselves. I suppose I would play this over Soratami Cloudskater if I were going to fit this in. Rather than trying to draw my way out of an unfavorable board position, I could just switch sides of the table for a crucial turn. Simply put, if I found myself wishing I had this in my hand in a given matchup, for instance against Green monsters or lots of fliers, I would side this in.
This was a tough one to cut, but in the end I decided that there just weren’t enough spirits for it. There are a total of seven spirits in the deck, eight if you count a flipped Cunning Bandit. The Bandit would be even harder to flip if I cut an arcane for this, and a few of the Spirits, like Kokusho, don’t really need the help. A 3/2 Hearth Kami isn’t appreciably better than a 2/1 Hearth Kami. Basically, with only seven real spirits in the deck, you’re unlikely to have more than one or two receive the bonus from this at a given time, and I’m not sure it’s worth the card. The Arcane-reducing ability is usually negligible in non-Dampen decks, and this deck is no exception.
This is another card that fell just short of the minimum requirements to make the cut. If you want to play it as God intended it, you’ll want at least three Ninjas. If you’re not interested in playing fair, you’ll want more, cheaper creatures with toughness 3 or greater. Allow me to explain. And don’t be alarmed if this hurts your head; I had to have KK and Ted explain this to me, and it still took me a solid week to fully grasp it. Have this equipped to one of your guys. Equip it to another guy. In response, shoot the opposing creature of choice. Allow the stack to resolve. Your opponent’s creature takes 2 and probably dies; your opponent gains control of Shuriken. The Shuriken, which your opponent still controls, now attaches to your creature. Shuriken grants the ability to the creature itself, though, which you control; hence, you are free to use its ability. You should do exactly that, targeting one of your own creatures, preferably one that won’t die from the damage, so that you regain control of the Shuriken. Nifty, eh? You probably shouldn’t pass this card very often.
Again, Cbot and JimofBeam, if you have any questions or comments about the build, please don’t hesitate to participate in the forums.
And now, the second Sealed:
Cage of Hands
Call to Glory
Hikari, Twilight Guardian
Hold the Line
Honden of Cleansing Fire
Heart of Light
Honden of Seeing Winds
Peer Through Depths
Teller of Tales
Kaijin of the Vanishing Touch
Stream of Consciousness
Veil of Secrecy
Kami of the Waning Moon
Blessing of Leeches
Call for Blood
2 Skullmane Baku
Kami of Fire’s Roar
Soul of Magma
Kodama of the South Tree
Order of the Sacred Bell
Roar of Jukai
Tendo Ice Bridge
I’m gonna make an effort to play green this time. Remember what I said about Green in my discussion of the last card pool, how I’d be more inclined to play it if were deeper and there were tricks and a bomb? It seems as though some prayers were answered. Serpent Skin is very good in Limited, often sending an opposing creature to the yard while leaving a hard-to-kill, larger creature on your side of the table. Roar of Jukai and Kodama’s Might are also potent tricks, and there’s probably little need to reiterate that Kodama of the South Tree isn’t the fairest card ever printed.
Red is really weak this time. Of its nine cards that are remotely playable, two are five-mana 2/2s, one is primarily a sideboard card, one is Lava Spike, and one is Battle-Mad Ronin. Hopefully I won’t have to splash Frostling and Kami of Fire’s Roar.
I probably won’t be playing Black, either. Ragged Veins, Deathcurse Ogre, and Call for Blood are all essentially unplayable, while cards like Skullmane Baku and Blessing of Leeches are marginal in most decks. There aren’t any good instants to use with Toshiro Umezawa, making him a subpar Ronin Houndmaster. What I’m left with are a handful of cards that look like the Green from the last sealed deck. Bleeder, Wicked Akuba, and Nezumi Ronin are all fine, but I don’t consider them good reasons to start considering black. Three Tragedies is solid, but again, I’m not going to make a conscious effort to go Black because of it.
Blue looks a little ragged as usual, but there are three quality fliers that compel me to play it – Teller of Tales, Soratami Mirror-Guard, and Shimmering Glasskite. In addition, there’s a Blue Honden, which is very difficult to beat if it hits a stable board between turns 5 and 10. Evasion, removal, bombs, and card advantage are what draw me to a color, and blue has plenty of these this time around.
White has a lot of utter trash and several powerful cards. It provides the most attractive splash option by far because of the White Honden and the Cage of Hands. It seems pretty clear that I’ll be playing Green/Blue and, if the deck seems too weak, splashing White.
My second deck, version 1:
Teller of Tales
Kami of the Vanishing Touch
Honden of Seeing Winds
Veil of Secrecy
Kodama of the South Tree
Order of the Sacred Bell
Roar of Jukai
It may not be the most powerful deck, but it should be pretty consistent. Two colors means fewer mana issues, and the deck has a decent curve to boot: two 1-drops, six 2-drops, two 3-drops, six 4-drops, and one 5-drop. Okay, it could use a few more 3-drops, but it’s still not bad for sealed. It gets a few early hits in with ground creatures and tricks, then wins in the air with its fliers. Yeah. Unfortunately, it has no bounce or removal of any kind, and that may be its downfall. There’s no soulshift, meaning Honden of Seeing Winds or a lucky Sosuke’s Summons are the only chances for gaining card advantage. Hana Kami only gets back three spells, and none of them are on the level of Glacial Ray or Rend Flesh. Several of the cards, like Floodbringer, Dripping-Tongue Zubera, and Sosuke’s Summons, are less than impressive. The second version of the deck will be a lot more powerful, but the fact that I’m having a hard time deciding between the two builds should give you some idea about the importance of consistency.
Since this deck is only two colors, most of the conceivably playable cards will make the deck. Thus, for this portion of the article, I’ll be limiting myself to discussion of cards that didn’t make the deck. I could afford to cut one of the deck’s weak 2-drops, and I deemed this to be the most worthless. Targetability matters a little bit in this deck thanks to Might and Skin; that combined with Ranger’s special ability and the Summons pushes the Snake above the Monk. Dripping-Tongue Zubera made it over the Budoka because of the few powerful spiritcraft cards present in the deck. Floodbringer brings the 2-mana 1/2 count up to three, but it can often attack for more damage than a two-power ground creature, and it can block opposing one-toughness fliers. In addition, you may be able to lock down an opposing Genju with the Floodbringer. Humble Budoka can be better on defense at times, but I would rather not be playing defense with this deck.
Slim pickings. Let’s examine the “power” build now.
Second deck, version 2:
Teller of Tales
Kami of the Vanishing Touch
Honden of Seeing Winds
Veil of Secrecy
This version has several creatures fewer than the other build, but those creatures that didn’t make the cut this time were fairly sketchy anyway. This deck cuts a one-mana 1/1, two one-mana 1/2s, a four-mana 2/4, and a sorcery-speed Raise the Alarm for an actual way to deal with opposing creatures, White’s most powerful card in Champions, a Blinding Beam with legs, a second Honden, and the requisite 18th land. Despite having double-colored spells in every color, I would probably opt for this build over the “consistent” one after further inspection.
It’s a much-needed Spirit to go with Kodama, Waxmane Baku, and Teller of Tales, plus it works well with Green fatties. As long as it’s on the board, your opponent must play as though your largest tapped creature is actually untapped. In addition to tubs of lard, it’s good with saboteurs and Soulshift; look for me to gush more about this card next week.
I like this for the same reasons as Distress and, thanks in part to Jeff Cunningham, I will maindeck it unless my card pool is completely ridiculous. It counters dragons and blah blah blah and can net you card advantage when an opponent finds out he really didn’t have that combat trick or removal spell.
I’ll save this one for next week, too. For right now, I’ll just tell you that this is so incredibly useful that one will always make the cut in any Blue deck I play.
Until the last minute, this was a Ranger, and one of the Forests was a Plains. Since the Ranger is marginal, and since the extra Forest is important for casting an early Gnarled Mass or South Kodama, I decided that these swaps were the best way to smooth the mana. While adding a Green source to the deck, this lets me keep the ever-important fourth White source for Hikari.
Hikari, Twilight Guardian
Splashing for double-colored spells is “bunz” in the parlance of my region, but my rationale was, if I’m going to effectively play three White sources anyway, I might as well toss in the fourth so I can play Serra Angel.
When the bar for power was raised, some folks got left behind. There are still plenty of early drops.
I think the Leafcaller is a superior mana fixer since it can start working its magic immediately; if you draw this in the midgame, it might be several turns before you can do anything meaningful with it. Since Baku is a spirit, this is a close call; since they’re both one-power crappers that perform almost identical functions, the distinction is largely irrelevant. In a more dedicated spirit deck with lots of craaazy interactions (like my prerelease deck), I would certainly opt for this over Leafcaller.
This was a casualty of trying to keep the splash to a minimum. In addition, I couldn’t cut a creature for it, and all the spells in the deck are superior to or about the same as the Breath. If mana were less of a consideration, I’d probably run this over the Hisoka’s Defiance that I just spent a few sentences talking up.
I use the same rationale for these as I did with Blessed Breath, and these are usually just worse than Breath.
Would you be impressed or mortified if I told you how long this article took to “complete,” among the distractions of Chambers and Hayner singing along with the Fired Up dance mix CD, the release of Betrayers onto Modo (thanks for the foil Patron of the Kitsune, Nutlow), and a general sense of unease from worrying about meeting my deadline while temporarily resuming the Red Bull diet? What? You couldn’t possibly care less?
Well then, f*%& you.
Also, f$^# everyone who didn’t vote for me for the Invitational.
I’m just kiddin’. Assuming the results live up to my predictions and Heroin ends up winning, I won’t be upset. He’s a good man, a joy to be around, and let’s face it, he’ll be able to appreciate going a lot more than I would have.
Join me next week when I explore Betrayers Blue and probably White for Limited, so that I can wash my hands of these set reviews I love to write and feel obligated to write for posterity, but no one really likes.
Undisputed Master of the Convoluted Signoff
Way cooler than you, but way less cool than anyone who ISN’T reading this line [I think you broke my language parser on that one. – Knut]
TINA YOU FAT LARD on Modo
and maze well say that I’m really and actually honestly
chester6561 on AIM
since no one is reading this anyway, but don’t be surprised if I’m less than friendly since it’s my nature
The Postal Service is terrible, you hippie freak.
Super Happy Fun Post-Signoff Bonus Section
Trivia 1: Which of these songs ISN’T on my playlist?
A. Britney Spears “Baby One More Time”
B. Eminem “Lose Yourself”
C. Mega Man – Snake Man stage
D. Blindside “Across Waters Again”
Trivia 2: Which of these songs IS on my playlist?
A. Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way”
B. Nena “99 Luftballoons”
C. The Cardigans “Lovefool”
D. Frankie Goes to Hollywood “Relax”
Elastica “Waking Up”
Nirvana “Even In His Youth”
Sleater Kinney “Funeral Song”
The Animals “House of the Rising Sun”
The Secret Machines “Nowhere Again”
The Suicide Machines “Sometimes I Don’t Mind”
*Many times, there are ways you could have played differently to give yourself a chance against a seemingly unstoppable Sealed deck. Some games, though, they will draw their Visara and simply win because of it.
**”Traditional Cephalid Breakfast” is a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it?
***Not to be confused with Mox Boy. I think SB’s real name is Dan O’Brien.