I’d like to begin today with a little debate. Something for you to consider while pondering your deck choices.
In Magic, especially Limited Magic, how important is it to play to your strengths?
Me? Well, I like beating down with guys. I like combat, and combat tricks. Therefore, in Limited, White cards call to me with the lure of the siren’s song. I’ll make no apologies for that.
Give me the White cards, and I feel able to bring down Goliath.
However, give me the Blue cards, full of trickery and deceit, and I begin to flail. Bounce this, tap that, card advantage… I’m lost in a sea of rhetoric.
At heart, I’m a simple creature. I swing for two.
Where do you draw the line? If your Sealed Deck is packed with Bombtastic Blue and only Wishy-Washy White, should you dine with the Devil and pull out the Islands?
Or should you shout “screw it” from the rooftops and go with what you know?
In Constructed Magic, the answer is simple: play to your strengths, metagame be damned.
But in Limited? Is it best to go with power, or with peace-of-mind?
I can’t answer that.
If you can, come to the forums. We need your help.
Monday’s pool was fair of face.
Wednesday’s pool is full of grace.
(Whether Friday’s pool is “loving and giving” remains to be seen, but rest assured that this Magic writer works hard for a living.)
You wanna list’o cards?
Here ya go, ya crazy bastards!
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
Any thoughts? I bet you’re reeling from that lot.
Before I give you a decklist, here’s what I made of the choices presented.
Those of you with a nervous disposition, look away now.
There’s good stuff here. In each color.
Well, each color bar one.
Let us begin with the White cards. Now, if you believe everything you read, you’ll have come to the conclusion that before I retire each night, I take a booster-fresh copy of Kitsune Blademaster out of my card box. I then slip into bed, and make mad passionate love to the card until the rise of the morning sun.
Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you.
Usually I can only keep it up until 3am.
Joking aside, my love for the White cards has been dissected and derided. I can’t help it, I love the little pasty fellas.
Anyway, what does this pool give us in White? Let us begin with the creatures:
- From Champions, occupying a fine rare slot, we have Hikari, Twilight Guardian. Let’s see… 4/4 flyer for five mana? With a playable ability that can be NUTS with the right support spells. This is such a bomb that Peter Sellers once rode it out of a plane.
- From Betrayers, we have that waxy ball’o fun, the Waxmane Baku. Having Wax for a mane must play havoc with his barber’s bill. A 2/2 for three that provides decent late-game evasion? I think I like this waxy chap.
- Also from Betrayers, we have that 1/1 for 4 mana, the Takeno-… What’s that?… Yes, a 1/1 for four mana… No, four mana… Takeno’s Cavalry… What, tear it up?… Okay, okay, don’t get angry! *sound of tearing cardboard*
And that’s yer lot for creatures, Billy. Time to go back into the box.
I mean, what’s the beef here? THREE bloody creatures? Okay, so two of them are decent fellas, but even so… it’s not like I can make this a maindeck color.
Perhaps the Blademasters have heard of my kinky perversions.
Ah well, best see what spells we have to sling…
- We’ll start with the good stuff. At one mana, we have the impressive Blessed Breath. As I’ve mentioned, I was slow to warm to this spell. However, now I’ve seen its arcane action slap down like Jacko on Bubbles, I concur that it’s a scary card with many positive traits.
- Two mana shows us the Otherworldly Journey, a versatile card that sits on the Arcane committee. A definite contender.
- Three mana gives us the poster-boy for White removal, the Cage of Hands. Yes, you play this… especially when heavy White. I must also congratulate Mark Tedin, the artist on this card. Not for the artwork itself, though it is rather nice: a weird demon-thing beset by a myriad of floating hands. No, I congratulate Mr Tedin for his restraint, as if I were the artist on this card I would never have resisted the temptation to draw all the hands making rude gestures, such as flicking the “v”s or making the universal sign for “tosser.”
- Three mana also gives us Cleanfall and Hold the Line. Cleanfall destroys all enchantments, while Hold the Line destroys all faith you have in humanity. Maybe sideboard the first, definitely trade away the second.
- Four mana here gives us the Honden of Cleansing Fire. Two life a turn… fantastic. I’d play this, if the rest of the White supported it. As a honden, I think it rates in the middle, following Blue and Red respectively.
- This White pool also sees a number of tricksy combat cards. Vigilance, the cheapest at one mana, is also the worst. Be vigilant and bin this filth. At two mana, we have the Samurai-dependent Call to Glory. In the right pool, this can be nice. In this pool, it’s hardly caviar and chips. Finally, we have the four-mana Terashi’s Cry. While it’s an arcane spell, it’s not exactly ground-shaking. If you need this, then you’re in trouble to begin with.
- From Betrayers, we have two spells. The first is one that I think is semi-playable in the right deck: Hundred-Talon Strike. In a base-White samurai deck, coupled with Call to Glory and other cheeky tricks, this card is a definite thread. But I still think it sounds like a Street Fighter move.
- We also have a Heart of Light, but I don’t want to depress you. I’ll simply say that it won’t make my cut, and leave it at that.
White gives us two nice creatures, and a few nice support cards. However, you’d be hard-pressed to forge these into a main-deck proposition. Let’s hope the other colors aren’t so demanding.
Looking through the Blue, I see there are a number of decent options facing us. And we have the important Teller of Tales, my litmus test to the playability of this color.
Sadly, this means I must take the Blue seriously in this pool. And frankly, I can’t be arsed.
Ah, well. Plunging on…
- Yeah, we have a Teller of Tales. 3/3 flyer, five mana, decent ability, artwork that resembles a fish-farm implosion… what more can I say?
- Usually, the Blue problem is creature depth. We’ll see pools with a Teller and little else, or pools with numerous Moonfolk and nothing substantial. This pool, however, does provide us with a few gems. For four mana, we have the 3/1 flyer called Soratami Mirror-Guard. This guy beats down with speed, and his ability is economical. He couples well with pumpable guys such as Wicked Akuba and Cursed Ronin. Even though the Akuba doesn’t actually pump. Ah hell, you know what I mean.
- Four mana also brings us the 2/1 flying Soratami Mirror-Mage. While his ability is nice, it is ultimately expensive. I see him to be the least talented of the Soratami, thus he is christened Ringo.
- From Champions, the two-mana slot brings us both a pearl and a pig’s ear. Shining bright like a angel’s cup-cake is the Floating-Dream Zubera, a fine inclusion in any Blue deck, working wonders with the Teller and other spirit-trigger cards. The pig’s ear comes in the form of Hisoka’s Guard. I suggest that Hisoka needs to employ a guard for his guard, as his original guard is bound to mess things up one day. Be prepared for the card Hisoka’s Guard’s Guard in Saviors.
- Betrayers brings us a couple of splendid creatures. By far the best Blue common creature is the 2/3 flyer Shimmering Glasskite, even if a glass kite would have little joy in taking to the skies. The Glasskite requires two targetings in order to hit home, further making ridicule of its inherently fragile moniker.
- Two mana, two men. The first is the Kaijin of Vanishing Touch. This Wall (sorry, defender) is actually quite canny. I can see this being played in heavy Blue, many-flyer decks.
- Two mana also supplies us with the 1/2 flyer, Floodbringer. He has an ability, but it’s nothing special. Sure, he flies… but given the choice he’d be late to the party.
- Finally, fatally, we have the one-drop Teardrop Kami. He taps or untaps things! Fantastic! Taps… or untaps!!! Ring out your bells! He’s better than Morphling!
Blue’s creatures in this pool are actually pretty solid. Which is strange, and they usually resemble a bear’s bottom in a bad wig. I’m unsure if there’s enough to make Blue our main creature color, but there’s a good framework from which to build.
Let’s look at the support staff:
- To begin, we’ve the eminently splashable Honden of Seeing Winds. Anything that draws cards has got to be good. Couple this with the White Honden, and you’ll out-and-out win the game. Accept no substitutes!
- So what else do we have? Well, there’s the Spirit/Arcane counterspell that is Hisoka’s Defiance (or as I like to call it, Hisoka’s Milky Hissy-fit). I play this, sometimes. I’d rather have a threat than a situational answer, of course… but sometimes it’ll come in to fuse a potential dragon.
- Peer Through Depths? If I needed an arcane trigger, or had a deck that revolved around a single bomb, then maybe. Usually though, not a chance.
- Squelch? I wouldn’t play Stifle, and that’s a better card.
- Veil of Secrecy: Okay, so what do people think? Does this pseudo removal-counterspell merit inclusion in a Blue-base deck? Answers on a postcard, folks.
- Finally, we have Stream of Consciousness, which needs washing down the river as soon as possible.
Blue seems quite strong in this pool. This makes me sad.
Ah well, let’s hope it gets outshined by the other colors…
When in Black, what do you want to see?
Sure, there’s bombs: we’d all love a Kokusho, but we’ve had our big fat dragon for this week. The most important thing you need is removal.
Which is why this pool is so bloody annoying. It has removal… but it’s not the optimum removal we’d like.
- Let us begin with the Swallowing Plague. This, like a lot of Black cards, is only truly good when Black is a main color. Fortunately, it is very good at what it does. As for the name… Swallowing Plague reminds me a little of Ted’s cooking.
- Another removal option is Pull Under, giving creatures -5/-5 since time began. Again, it is good at what it does. It just takes a long time to do it. Apparently, Saviors will contain another card in this cycle called Pullover, the art depicting Kokusho sporting a natty Christmas cardigan.
- The final removal spell in this frankly underwhelming bunch is the Call for Blood. When I saw this pool had no Rends or Horobi’s Whispers, I was calling for blood, I can tell you.
- Further fuelling the discard debate, we have the expensive Three Tragedies. I love the art on this card. However, I fear that even those discard jockeys out there in Forumville will be hard-pressed to include this hand-stripping hellion.
- The two remaining support cards in Black are Enchant Creature spells. The first, Ragged Veins, is bum-nuggets in a box. Yes, it can do cute blocking tricks and interacts with burn and Pain Kami. That doesn’t mean it’s any good.
- The second is the palatable Blessing of Leeches. Unlimited regeneration is not to be sniffed at. Of course, the drawback can be prohibitive, as anyone who’s ever died at the hands of their Pacified Wretched Anurid will tell you.
So there are our spells. What of our men? Do we have the guys to warrant an all-out Black Attack?
- Three mana, one Legend: Toshiro Umezawa. In the right pool, this guy is a bonafide bomb. This pool, however, is not exactly the right pool. There are ways to abuse his ability, sure… but we miss the truly classic instant-speed removal that’d make this guy greatness-onna-stick. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still play him nine times out of ten… but I’d be dreaming of what might have been.
- Also at three mana, also from Betrayers, we have the Takenuma Bleeder. He’s a 3/3 for three with a piddling drawback. He makes the team, and is pretty good on turn three. Just be careful he doesn’t bleed on your carpet.
- Five mana sees a double-dose of Skullmane Baku Action! Oh, we are truly blessed. Five mana for a 2/1 with an ability as slow as a sleeping sloth in concrete galoshes. Currently residing in the “Where Are They Now” file.
- Deathcurse Ogre. Six Mana. Not a chance, pal. I’d rather play with a donkey’s dangler.
- At two, we have the serviceable double-Black Wicked Akuba. If you’re heavy in Black, he’s a shoe-in. Ooooh, he’s a wicked young scamp, and no mistake. I’ll bet he’s the type of cheeky tyke to knock on your door and run away. Or scrump apples from a vicar’s garden. Ah well… all the ladies love a bad boy. Especially a bad boy with a tongue like that.
- Three mana gives us two maindeck men. First, there’s the 3/1 Nezumi Ronin. He’s nothing exceptional, but he does a job. He can trade with a surprising amount of guys. And he swings past a River Kaijin with little bother at all
- At 3 mana, we also have the Kami of the Waning Moon. At first, I liked this guy. Then I grew to dislike him. Now, I’m back to liking him again. He’s invaluable in a stall, and he can pop across for the odd point here and there. I presume that Saviors will have his brother, Kami of the Waxing Moon, unless they decide that Waxmane Baku is the only wax-themed card they’ll ever print.
- Finally, four mana sees Cursed Ronnie, the pumpable Samurai shade. He’s decent enough, and surprisingly resilient for a pesky 1/1. According to the flavor text, he ‘never stops paying.’ I think he needs a new accountant.
So there’s the Black. Nothing too diabolical, but some strong mid-game spods. Toshiro is nice, but I feel he’ll be underused in this pool however we build the final forty.
Hey, who knows? Maybe we’ve loads of instant-speed burn to really ramp up Toshiro’s red rebellion…
*flicks through Red cards*
Heavens to Elvis, these Red cards blow chunks.
What is going on in the World, where the Red cards are dismal and the Blue offers jewels? Is this a sign of the coming Apocalypse? I hope so, then maybe Wizards will print some decent cards again (did you see what I did there?)
I’ll rush you though the Red cards. We both know they won’t make the final table. And to be honest, it’s 2am and I’m bloody knackered and I’m up for work at 7.
Firstly, we have the creatures:
- Akki Rockspeaker: two mana 1/1 guys need a decent ability, not this overpriced Skirk Prospector knock-off. And he looks silly in his Crash Bandicoot mask.
- Battle-Mad Ronin: this guy gets respect, somehow. I reckon it’s because he has a big stick. I’d consider playing him in a ninja deck, or maybe even a fast samurai deck. He’d hopefully not make the team, as I’d plan to have better options.
- Kami of Fire’s Roar: I’m sorry, but I don’t like him. His ability is a little too restrictive. Sure, his ass makes him stronger than the comparable Kami of the Waning Moon, but a lot of the time he’ll be a vanilla 2/3 for 4.
- Ore Gorger: Behave yourself. Destroy target Non-Basic land. Board it in if your opponent is playing with the Urzatron.
- Sokenzan Bruiser: This guy divides a number of people. Me, I’m on the side of “maindeck never, game 2 and 3 if you feel necessary.” I don’t like the way that the bruiser is only good against the color that is most likely to deal with him. What do people think? Would you play him main over, say, a Frost Ogre? How about a Shinka Gatekeeper?
- Soul of Magma: I’m always quite happy when my opponent plays this guy. For a start, he’s pretty fragile. Also, at 5 mana he’s expensive and his spirit chums have probably seen play already. Sure, I’d play him… but only if there wasn’t a more attractive option.
- Akki Blizzard-Herder: I think I’ll stay in, where it’s warm.
- Goblin Cohort: Yes, I think. If he hits early, and is backed up by creature drops, then he’s nice. And he can always block, after all. Of course, he’s obviously for the Constructed crowd, and will probably be around a while, as they called him “Goblin Cohort” instead of “Akki Cohort.”
- Frostling: Of course you play this guy. Stop asking stupid questions.
- Ronin Cliffrider: Does that means he rides on cliff edges, or does it mean that his weird horse-beast is called Cliff? Anyway… is he playable? Five mana for a 2/2 is a little steep, but he has an excellent ability. He can wipe out a moonfolk village in a single attack. I’d say run him, but I’m not 100% convinced. What d’y’all reckon?
So that’s the guys. No true early beaters, no solid mid-game stallers, no utility pingers, no fat-assed game-breakers… just a collection of crappy goblins and a few over-priced nancies.
And they’re the good bit about the Red in this pool…
- First Volley: Yeah, I’d play this. It’s arcane, and it kills the little guys. And it can also double as a finisher of sorts. It’s hardly Rage with kicker, but it’ll pounce on a Mirror-Guard and laugh.
- Lava Spike: No. I’m sorry, but no.
- Strange Inversion: finally, a card to sideboard in against a 60-card wall deck. Sorry, defender deck.
Frankly, Red is piss-weak.
Before we head into Green, let’s recap:
– White has nice support cards, and a couple of nice creatures, but no strength in depth.
– Blue has decent flyers, but no mid-game
– Black has an excellent mid-game, and Toshiro, but no special removal.
– Red is Satan’s bum-chute.
And now… the Green Machine.
Let us begin, as always, with the Green creatures. After all, they are what defines the color in the heart of our Inner Timmy.
- Four mana, 4/4, possible overrun effect… Kodama of the South Tree is exquisite. That makes three bombs in this pool. Hikari, Toshiro, Kodama… hell, even the Teller of Tales is pretty sharp. Too bad they’re all double-colored in their mana cost. As for Kodama of the South Tree… if we go with Green, he’s the daddy. And he’s a gooooood reason to go with Green.
- Backing him up at four mana is the double-Hulk Order of the Sacred Bell. These green Green twins are a decent edition, a beatdown staple. In this pool, it is clear why they are shaded green: it is because they’ve seen the lunchbox of the mighty Kodama of the South Tree, and it puts their meagre packages to shame. Still, these guys are playable, and then some.
- Four mana also provides us with the Sakura-Tribe Springcaller. At 2/4, he’s better block flyers or he’s going in the bin. Sadly, he does weird things with mana instead. Play him if you think you’re clever. Me, I won’t be bothering. And you can make of that what you will.
- If four mana for a 2/4 seems a bad deal, then five mana for the same must be atrocious. Say hello to the Kashi-Tribe Warriors. When I see these, I think of the film A Bug’s Life. People think they’re warriors, but they’re actually clowns.
- One mana gives us the Orochi Leafcaller. While I’m not afraid to use him in mana-fickle decks, I’d be looking to avoid him if necessary. Let’s face it, he calls leaves. At least he doesn’t speak to rocks, like that Akki fella.
- Two mana gives us the bus-on-legs Petalmane Baku. This spirit-triggered mana-machine is surely too slow to warrant inclusion. In the right deck, with heavy top-end mana commitments, it may come in handy. Otherwise, it needs putting out with the fertilizer.
- I’ve got a sister called Hannah. Sadly, her middle name isn’t Kami: it’s Louise. She isn’t very good at Magic, but Hana Kami is a pretty decent Magic card. Unlike the card, my sister doesn’t return Arcane cards to my hand. Like the Magic card, my sister vomits flowers on occasion. Play with my sis- I mean, play this card! Especially if you’ve the arcane backup to abuse it. Oh for a Soulless Revival in this pool!
- The Dripping-Tongue Zubera is a card that I’ve grown to enjoy. After all, it does double-duty on the blocking rota. He’ll usually make my base-Green builds.
- For two mana, we can also cast the flame-haired serpent Orochi Ranger. While she’s uninspiring, she does beat down with speed. And her combat tap-ability can be randomly useful at times. She’s a snake with four arms, red hair, legs, and boobs. What the Hell is going on there?
- There are two other options at the two mana stage. They both have two power, and two toughness, therefore they’re playable before their abilities are even discussed. The first, Humble Budoka, is a bugger to kill. His companion, the Loam Dweller, can speed mana development with style. Second turn Dweller, third turn Reach, forth turn Gleemax.
- Finally, we have the three mana plastic pachyderm, Gnarled Mass. He’s a Green guy through and through. None of this fiddling about with spirit triggers and abilities. He’s a three… three… for… three.
Upon examination, the Green guys are pretty special. They’re strong in depth, and contain an outright game-winner. Any support they have in the spell department is gravy.
- To begin, we have the star player: Kodama’s Might. Arcane, splicable, very desirable… an instant inclusion. And we can actually use it to pump Kodama himself! Bonus.
- Climbing the mana tree finds us at the three mana Serpent Skin. Regeneration is woefully undervalued in Kamigawa Limited, and Serpent Skin is a decent card with a number of applications. It can save your bomb creature, it can pump your attacker, it can slice and dice and microwave pigeons. It gets my vote.
- Sosuke’s Summons… thee mana for two 1/1 snakes. Seems value, I suppose. Hardly Call of the Herd. Then again, in the right deck it can return to wreak havoc time and again. Damn pesky snakes.
- The cheeky Roar of Jukai is a card I remain sceptical about. Yes, it’s arcane, and yes, it’s a combat trick… but isn’t it a little situational to be truly playable? Any ideas? Come share them in the forums. I’d probably run with it a few times and see how it played before making a final judgement.
- Finally, we have the four-mana Uproot. Put a land on top of its owner’s library… How death-defyingly dull. Fallow Earth, Plow Under… Yawn.
Green, with its decent men and some special spells, seems a certain inclusion in my final deck. But how can that be? We’ve decent bombs and playables in all colours save Red.
What does a guy do?
And we’ve artifacts and land to consider yet!
Thankfully, these sections are short.
Move along, people. Nothing to see here.
Tendo’s Ice Bridge…
I’d hit it.
So how did you do?
Me? I sucked.
This one took me an Ice Age to build. And I know that there’s something wrong with it. Before I show you a list, here’s a few things I thought:
Each color, excluding Red, has a possible double-color bomb. White gave me Hikari, Blue gave me the Teller of Tales. Black supplied Toshiro, and Green gave me the kinky Kodama. The question is… which to play? Some respond well to certain pools, especially Toshiro. And the quality of support cards is also important.
The creature bases of the final deck needs to be strong, in order to support the bombs. While both Black and Green have strong early and mid-game guys, it’s arguable that Black’s bomb (Toshiro) is the weakest of the four, being the most fragile. And Toshiro suffers in this pool from the lack of quality instant cards. White, arguably, has the strongest bomb-card in Hikari, as it’s a protectable 4/4 flyer for five mana… but the only other White guy worth anything is the (admittedly strong) Waxmane Baku.
I’d love to run both Blue and White for the double Honden action, as that out-and-out wins things. But the various guys available, while individually superior, couldn’t team up to beat Girl Scouts at Dodgeball.
This one took a while, I can tell you. Wherever I turned, I felt pressured and pummelled. To splash, or not to splash? The quality of removal versus the quality of creatures?
I tried this combination, and that one. Splashing for creatures all the while.
In the end, I went with a respectable mana curve, decent synergies, and a small splash.
Yes, a small White splash.
With a creature in it.
So sue me.
1cc = 1
2cc = 5
3cc = 6
4cc = 3
5cc = 0
6cc = 0
7cc = 0
8cc = 0
So whaddaya think?
It’s rubbish, I know. I was blinded by options, and took the most consistent-looking one.
Here are some positives and negatives for you. I suspect the latter will heavily outweigh the former.
POSITIVE: The creature-curve is nice and simple. Nothing costs over four mana, and there are some good guys in there.
NEGATIVE: There are SOOOOOOO many good creatures I am not playing in this pool. Blue, White… what a shame.
POSITIVE: The build, I feel, has the maximum interaction with Toshiro and Hana Kami possible with such a lacklustre pool of Arcane and Instant spells.
NEGATIVE: I’m splashing a creature in Waxmane Baku. But hear me out on this one… He’s not that important until mid-to-late-game when his ability can eke out wins. And I’ve five other three-drops to slap down if I don’t see an early Plains. Some forum-folk say that if he comes down late, there’ll be little in your hand to power him. This is fair, but he does combo with Toshiro and Hana Kami.
POSITIVE: There are some nice synergies, such as Akuba/Ronin + Kami of the Waning Moon. And, erm… that’s about it.
NEGATIVE: The manabase is wrong. Please, please someone help with my manabase creation. What guidelines should I be following?
NEGATIVE: Although both useful, I don’t like having two Enchant Creature spells, especially since they’re enchant-my-own-creature and I’m running Blessed Breath.
Overall, I fear I’ve missed an opportunity with these cards. There are a lot of strong, playable options here.
Bet then again, I believe I’ve built a serviceable deck. I believe that this pool has playable options coming out of its wazoo.
I can justify my choices, yet I can see justification for other paths, other cards.
So come to the forums. Let’s see what y’all make of this pool.
Because frankly, I’m friggin’ stumped.