The Daily Shot: Alpha-Q

Sylvan Safekeeper is what makes the whole thing run smoothly; late in the game, excess land can be turned into Lavamancer food – and much faster than a Wild Mongrel can do it.

Sometimes Magic players are just incorrigible. I received this mail from Allen”Marvin” Pengelly, the very same LV 2 DCI judge that I somehow confused with the owner of Skyfox Games:

Hi Geordie,

I just wanted to point out one other name to you that they let slip through the cracks:

Alpha-Q (Say it slowly…)

If Mark Rosewater was there he probably would have recognized it, because a team used it for their name during the trivia challenge at worlds last year. Rosewater said it at least twenty times (making all of the watchers laugh, while Rosewater was clueless) during the challenge. Ever since then (Before then too, actually) I always get at least one request to use Alpha-Q as the team name, which I shoot down because I don’t want to announce the name later on in the tournament.

Poor Mark Rosewater.

The judges at team events have really got to be on their toes. Magic players are a smart group, and they can invent a hundred different ways to attach some sort of lewd, crude, rude, and/or scatological import to a team name. For this reason alone, I bet a list of”rejected” team names would make an amusing article.

The guys from Future Pastimes entered the team PTQ at Canadian Nationals as team”Lawyers Hit Parade.” The best part about this team name? If you grab your match slip and then put one finger over the letters”Law” and another finger over the word”parade,” you get a nice inspirational message.

Then they proceeded to build their U/W deck and leave Master Apothecary and Shieldmage Advocate in the sideboard. Don’t ask, because I don’t know why either. Maybe Mark Zadjner visited the table and dropped off some of those funny cigarettes.

Okay – enough chicanery and preamble. It’s going to be a short, short column today- I’ve got places to go and Magic to play. Mostly, I’ve got to prepare for an upcoming OBC tournament.

Let me give you an OBC decklist to mull over.

G/R Fast Damage (OBC, Geordie Tait)

4 Basking Rootwalla

4 Sylvan Safekeeper

4 Grim Lavamancer

4 Seton’s Scout

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Firebolt

4 Fiery Temper

3 Violent Eruption

4 Sonic Seizure

4 Reckless Charge

9 Forest

5 Mountain

4 Barbarian Ring

3 Mossfire Valley


Use your own shameful imagination here.

Sylvan Safekeeper is what makes the whole thing run smoothly. Late in the game, excess land can be turned into Lavamancer food – and much faster than a Wild Mongrel can do it. With a double-Lavamancer draw, you can whittle an enemy down to six life, drill him for two at the end of turn (emptying the yard), untap, float a couple of red, sac four land, and hit for four to end the game.

Mass land sacrifice also serves to create some nice 4/3 Seton’s Scouts in the late game, and ensures that you’ll be able to use any and all Barbarian Rings you draw. Oh, and it stops Aether Burst, Lt. Kirtar removal, burn, and stuff like that. It’s the lone Judgment card in the deck… But it dramatically charges things simply because of the ability to get threshold (and thus, free Barbarian Ring and Lavamancer activations) on the cheap.

Reckless Charge is an interesting card because people try to clog the board up with Wurm tokens and Anurid Brushhoppers, and the Charge can turn them into chump blockers. A double Charge on an extra Safekeeper will create a creature that asks a tough question: Lose the Wurm token – that same Wurm token that is saving your ass from my two Wild Mongrels – or take seven? One charge on a pumped Rootwalla will trade with a Wurm on the other side, unless the guy wants to take six damage.

You’ll find that your existence as a R/G speed deck is defined by the number of Wurm tokens on the other side of the table. They’re like big stop signs, and your offense will grind right to a halt if you’re not prepared. One way to combat this to play a bunch of Wurms of your own, plus big ol’ Phantoms and Elephant Guides and stuff like that… But that requires a much higher landcount. The anti-Wurm technology here is the massive burn (more than enough to get rid of any Wurm if you’re willing to sacrifice two cards to do it) and Reckless Charge – which, as I mentioned above, lets you keep swinging right into those Wurm defenses!

Seton’s Scout is a good card for chump-blocking flying, game-ending Wurms should the need arise.

The deck does have some problems. Twenty creatures really isn’t too reliable (you want 24, but can’t fit them in!) and you’ll sometimes find yourself with a 2x Fiery Temper, Eruption, 2x Reckless Charge draw and nowhere to go but down. Also, twenty-one land sometimes makes it tough to take advantage of the flashback on Firebolt and Reckless Charge.

I’m going to try an alternate build as well.

Call Of The Herd is a better card than Seton’s Scout for Reckless Charge math, since one charge on an Elephant token creates a”trade Wurm or no?” scenario. It’s also far better in the long run… Two 3/3’s or one 2/1? Still, it’s not quite as fast, and it’ll never have four power like the post-threshold Scout.

Then there’s the whole question of sideboard cards. I don’t even know where to begin. Time and testing will tell which version is better – and, indeed, if either version is any good at all.

Have a good day, guys…I’m headed down to the card store.

Gonna play me some Magic.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]