The Daily Shot: Why Mark Rosewater Ignored My Lance (Oh Yeah, And A Prerelease Report)

So I’m walking around some event and I see Mark Rosewater. Of course I march right up to him and whip out my Lance. He gives me a funny look, like he doesn’t understand why I’m showing him my Lance.
“Care to explain this?” I say, holding the Lance closer so that he can view it.”It’s bent,” he responds, shrugging his shoulders. I’m a little miffed at him ignoring the more obvious issue – the fact that my Lance is underpowered.

So I won half a box at the Saturday Prerelease. I’m riding high – protected by a caul of what you might refer to as”good times.” The air smells better (upgraded from”the putrid stench of industry” to”almost reasonable”), the grass is greener, and protected as I am by this almost amniotic layer of upbeat mojo, I can almost ignore the morning frost… Almost. Lacking a car windshield scraper, I have to crank the defogger and peel the morning freeze off my weathered van of with a towel I keep in the back.

That’s what you call living the high life.

We meet at Tim Horton’s and we’re off to the races right on schedule. We’re headed to Garden City again, and this time I’m driving. Along for the ride, we’ve got Chris”Christ” Borek, the UNbeatable Babin brothers (Jean-Marc and Roger), Mark Weymouth, Nick Martiniuk, Trent Rogers, and Andy Kornet. That’s eight guys in total, all with their respective eyes on the prize: Product.

First, of course, we have to cross the border. Here’s some advice to follow if you ever have to cross international lines on your way to a Magic event, and/or on the way back:

1. Don’t use the word”Magic.” Say”card tournament.” If they inquire further, elaborate a little by saying things like”it’s a collectable card game” and”it’s a mental sport, like chess.” If you say”Magic,” it sounds like the occult. They will pull your ass over and take out the rectal probe kit. Then they will proceed to search any and all cavities in your body for pentagrams, containers of goat’s blood, and whatever else they think you might have. Seriously. If you absolutely must name the game, go for Pokemon.

2. If they ask you if you bought or received anything, say”no,” even if you bought singles or received prizes. Border guards have no idea how much Magic cards are worth, nor do they know if they brought them with you. They will search you for alcohol, tobacco, and firearms – but when they find your box of Judgment, they will scratch their heads for a moment before moving on.

3. Don’t be upset when you mention collectable card games and the border guard has no idea that such a thing even exists. They might ask you a few questions about it, all the while sporting the same incredulous, semi-bemused expression. If you start to get irritated, you will get pulled over and delayed just long enough to screw you out of registering.

So back to the story, and I’ll change tenses just to show you how bad a writer I am.

We made it safely across the border by following these simple rules, and started toward Detroit. Then, disaster…the available radio stations are both playing absolute garbage. The best thing I could find was”Hair Radio” (all 80’s hair bands, all the time). Yes, I said best. Even”Hair Radio” was better than Bjork. While we were on the highway, a Bjork song came on that was so bad, it was almost comical – I had to stop all conversation and shut the radio completely off in order to avoid a tension headache straight from Iceland. Driving is stressful enough without having to listen to a teenage girl running screaming through a forest of wind chimes.

Okay, time to change tenses again.

We arrive and get registered, and then sit down to get our decks. Here’s my card pool:


Aven Cloudchaser

Battle Screech

Benevolent Bodyguard x2

Dedicated Martyr

Funeral Pyre


Hallowed Healer

Kirtar’s Desire

Life Burst

Pilgrim Of Justice

Prismatic Strands

Ray Of Revelation x2

Sphere Of Law

Vigilant Sentry


Extremely high card quality. Let’s take it from the top: Battle Screech can give you four power worth of flyers on turn 4, and there’s nothing in the environment that even comes close to that. It’s a great offensive card and a great defensive card. Aven Cloudchaser is something you want in your maindeck at a Prerelease, because of Ben Affleck (Arcane Teachings) and, to a lesser extent, Elephant Guide. Plus there’s stuff like Unquestioned Authority, Seton’s Desire, and Psionic Gift, and the rare Mirari’s Wake.

Glory is obviously insane and makes me want to play White right away. You play it, you attack with it until it’s dead. This card gets blocked less often than a toilet with super powers – seriously. You’d figure that a toilet from Krypton, or from some advances society, would probably not have the blockage problems that our conventional Earth toilets sometimes encounter, so the comparison is a valid one.

Once it’s in the graveyard, you just win… And your opponent starts digging through his sideboard for Rat’s Feast and Funeral Pyre.

Hallowed Healer is amazing on defense and even better on offense, letting you smash into opposing defenses with near-impunity. Kirtar’s Desire is a great answer to an early Wild Mongrel or Phantom, and I want it in my deck if I open it.

There are some borderline cards in there in the form of Prismatic Strands and Vigilant Sentry. The Sentry is great after threshold and mediocre beforehand, while Prismatic Strands is a great trick… But not exactly the most overpowered of cards. While I was looking over my cards, it quickly became clear that there wouldn’t be much room for semi-powerful cards in the deck… I was going to try to field a deck full of nothing but 1st-4th picks.

Possible sideboard cards include Pilgrim Of Justice (I’d sideboard it in against multiple Swelters/Shower Of Coals, or a deck with many red creatures) and my Ray Of Revelations.


Anurid Barkripper

Battlefield Scrounger

Elephant Ambush

Giant Warthog

Grizzly Fate

Ironshell Beetle

Krosan Wayfarer

Muscle Beast

Nantuko Tracer


Seton’s Desire


Tunneler Wurm



Well, Overrun is the most well-known uncommon bomb in Limited history (even moreso than stuff like Volcanic Wind), and Muscle Burst, Elephant Ambush, Grizzly Fate, Ironshell Beetle, Seton’s Desire, and Werebear are all very good. Grizzly Fate in particular is a great card to have along with Overrun.

Giant Warthog is a terrific way to cap your mana curve; it’s just a strong creature. Nantuko Tracer is a solid two-drop if you’re looking for beatdown and/or a creature to trade with other early two-drops.

Werebear in particular is great to have, and it’s going to allow for great stuff like fourth-turn Grizzly Fate, fifth-turn Warthog and third-turn Elephant Ambush.


Bomb Squad


Demolish x2

Ember Beast


Flaring Pain x2

Frenetic Ogre

Goretusk Firebeast


Mad Dog

Pardic Swordsmith

Reckless Charge


Swirling Sandstorm

Worldgorger Dragon


Crazy huh? The good cards just keep on coming. Firebolt and Swelter are both 1st picks in draft, and don’t even get me started on what Bomb Squad does to a G/W deck. It’s ugly – you drop the Squad and you win the game. Beyond that, Ember Beast is a strong creature and I’ve been wanting to try Worldgorger Dragon in Limited. Though you need the right deck (you can’t play the Dragon to end a creature stalemate – ideally, you trade creatures and removal for five turns and drop him on an empty board) he’s a great finisher if you can cook up the prerequisites on a regular basis. Just make sure you’re not facing down any Lost in Thought or Kirtar’s Desire.

Here, I’ll write you a poem, right off the cuff.

See a clear board?

You can a Dragon afford.

10 creatures each side?

Then your Dragon must hide.

Beautiful. It’s like Robert Frost, but without the talent. I think there’s a tear in my eye.

So red might be a splash, with the three cards in question being Firebolt, Bomb Squad and Swelter. Swirling Sandstorm doesn’t excite me too much unless I can be absolutely sure I’m going to get threshold. I’d play it in R/U with Compulsion, tons of flyers and/or a couple of Looters or something, but not in this deck.


Aether Burst

Chamber Of Manipulation

Cephalid Inkshrouder

Defy Gravity

Grip Of Amnesia

Keep Watch

Mental Note x2


Wormfang Drake

Not many Blue cards, but there are four good and splashable ones in Puppeteer, Wormfang Drake, Aether Burst, and Cephalid Inkshrouder. The Chamber is obviously good – but at 2UU, I’d just be screwing myself since I need to generate 2GGG for Overrun and 3WW for Glory if the G/W component of my deck is going to work.

The Inkshrouder in particular is intriguing – it’s a great target for Seton’s Desire, a great finisher, and would give me a use for all those wasted land draws that happen each game.


Cabal Inquisitor

Cabal Trainee

Earsplitting Rats

Ghastly Demise

Overeager Apprentice

Morbid Hunger

Patriarch’s Desire

Rat’s Feast

Rotting Giant

Stitch Together

Toxic Stench

Treacherous Vampire x2

Zombie Infestation


Yeah, that’s two Treacherous Vampires – and they pretty much decided my splash for me. Considering I also had four removal cards (Toxic Stench, Ghastly Demise, Patriarch’s Desire, and Morbid Hunger), I think this is probably the best black you could hope to open at a Judgment Prerelease. Morbid Hunger is too hard to cast, so it won’t be going into the deck, but those other cards are strong candidates.

Rotting Giant is Treacherous Vampire, Jr., and it’s a good card sometimes – but not in this environment, when it will just run into a Phantom Tiger and die. Mine is not a beatdown deck, anyhow – it’s more of a combo deck… The combo, of course, being creatures + Overrun.

The rest is pretty bad stuff in Limited – though Zombie Infestation, normally bad, would receive special consideration after I’d built the core of my deck.


Vampiric Dragon


While I wouldn’t pay eight mana for Tunneler Wurm, I’d probably pay for this guy if I had ways to use him early. I could have played the Infestation to throw him out and get threshold, and then Stitch Together to get him into play early, but then I’d have to ignore Overrun and Glory and concentrate on building Black and Red. Not impossible considering my Black and Red cards – but not easy either, and most of my good White and Green cards are not splashable.


Charmed Pendant


Useless. Join with me, dear reader, and raise a finger towards your screen right now… Preferably your middle one.

All set? Good. Now mutter a few colorful oaths. Try to be creative. Once you’re done, lower your fingers and resume reading.

This has been the”Daily Shot” salute to Charmed Pendants everywhere. I mean, really. I showed my”Charmed Pendant” to the collective mothers of the design team last night, and let me tell you, they were less than impressed. Which reminds me of a funny story.

My Talk With R & D’s Mark Rosewater Aside

So I’m walking around some event and I see Mark Rosewater. Of course I march right up to him and whip out my Lance. He gives me a funny look, like he doesn’t understand why I’m showing him my Lance.

“Care to explain this?” I say, holding the Lance closer so that he can view it. He checks it out, giving it a cursory once-over before his eyes return to meet mine.

“It’s bent,” he responds, shrugging his shoulders. I’m a little miffed at him ignoring the more obvious issue – the fact that my Lance is underpowered.

“I know it’s bent,” I respond, with a little irritation showing in my voice. Then, a tad defensively:”It’s seen a lot of play.”

Now it’s Rosewater’s turn to get a little edgy.”So? Why is your Lance any of my business? I didn’t join the design team until well after that.”

Then he walked off and I was left holding my Lance, a nonplussed expression lingering on my face.

(end aside)


Okay, back to what I opened. Only one category and one card to go.


Seafloor Debris


Would have been good if I’d splashed Blue instead of Black. I almost ran it anyway, I was so desperate to get cards into my graveyard for those Vampires. I’ll tell you more about that little problem once you’ve seen what I decided to play.


Here’s what I played:


2 Treacherous Vampire

2 Benevolent Bodyguard

1 Hallowed Healer

1 Aven Cloudchaser

1 Werebear

1 Nantuko Tracer

1 Ironshell Beetle

1 Giant Warthog

1 Glory

1 Grizzly Fate

1 Elephant Ambush

1 Battle Screech

1 Overrun

1 Seton’s Desire

1 Muscle Burst

1 Kirtar’s Desire

1 Patriarch’s Desire

1 Ghastly Demise

1 Toxic Stench

1 Zombie Infestation

1 Prismatic Strands

7 Forest

6 Plains

4 Swamp


Before I even get started explaining, I should mention that the Prismatic Strands should have been a fifth Swamp, or the Zombie Infestation (which I will explain in a minute) should have been a seventh Plains. You want to play eighteen lands to get your colors when you’re running more than a splash, and I was running six black cards.

So why is Zombie Infestation in the deck? Well, I was scared of having no way to get excess land in the graveyard. The deck needs six land to run – three Forests, two Plains and one Swamp…and anything else is just extra. I didn’t have a Mongrel or Patrol Hound or anything of that sort to make use of those extra lands. I suppose I could just lay them and use them to activate Glory more often, but that doesn’t help me use those two Treacherous Vampires.

The Vampires are reason number two – I was afraid of ramping right up to turn 5, casting a Vampire, and then having no cards in my graveyard to work with. Then I draw two more land and I can’t discard them to anything… The Vampire sits on the board, impotent! Zombie Infestation also has excellent interactions with Overrun, and allows the deck to make four different types of creature tokens – Zombies, Birds, Elephants and Bears. Any deck that can do that is a rarity.

So while Zombie Infestation is a poor card much of the time, it’s just right as a 23rd card in this deck. (It should have been the 22nd…I boarded out Prismatic Strands for a Swamp or a Plains in most of my games). There’s actually a lot of good synergy in this deck.

Battle Screech + Overrun

Grizzly Fate + Overrun

Glory + any creatures…

Overrun + any creatures…

Treacherous Vampire + ground stall…

I knew it had the power to take it to Top 8 – but would it have the consistency? Would the mana come to me? You’ll have to read tomorrow to find out how I did, because right now I’m done.

See you then.


Geordie Tait

[email protected]