The Decks of Steve – Part 2

Back when Mirrodin first came out, I threw together a Beasts deck for Steve. It wasn’t a serious deck — even less serious than anything you’ll ever see in here — And Steve hated it. I admit the deck was a little wacky, as I was a touch inexperienced with the new cards. I’ve done a lot of testing and playing of Standard since Mirrodin came out, so I’m a better deck-builder now than I was then.

Welcome back to the Decks of Steve.

In case you didn’t read the first installment, it’s here. Here being the link that Ted Knutson is going to put into the article, since I’m too lazy to do it. The goal of this article series is to use poor Steve like a guinea pig, giving him the decks he wants to play, and by”he wants,” I mean he’s a puppet of the forums. Well, at least to some extent.

Have you ever been in a really bad mood and then have someone compliment you? That’s how it was when I got feedback for this article. In case you didn’t know, I have a zero percent rejection rate – every article I’ve written has ended up being published. I have been told to capitalize words to save Ted time, but never really had an article straight up rejected. However, be that as it may, I’m still very nervous about my writing. I always think people hate me and despise seeing my name on the site. I expect somewhere there’s a Yahoo! We Hate Iain Telfer club, probably headed by Cory Braiterman. [Jesse Sigler is Vice President. – Knut]

I wish I could have cool arch-nemesises like Ted Knutson Will Brinkman. I mean, worse, Cory doesn’t even dislike me, he probably just got the job for free pizza or something. That’s the kind of life I lead. There’s no seething hatred for me, just”yeah yeah yeah, I hate Iain, yeah yeah yeah, make sure there’s extra cheese on my za this time.”

So I was extra-nervous about the first edition of this series, because it’s something of a new idea, and oh yes, it was a totally different writing style than my usual fare. So I sent lots of IMs to my poor editor about it. Things like”does it suck?” and”seriously, how bad is it?” and so on. As luck would have it, Ted replied about a day later. During that day, I did two things.

First, I was supposed to see a female friend of mine. One I adore, absolutely. I’m not trying to brag here, in fact, as me and the ladies go, well, I’m going to die alone in a cave at this rate. Just slap some emo-googles on me and you’re all set to go. But yeah, so I’m spending the afternoon with this lovely girl and having a good time.


Second, I got sick. And not heavily sick or disgustingly sick. No. I got sick for exactly twenty-four hours, and it was just the sort of sick where you breathe badly and look unattractive and feel sh**ty. So I spent a wonderful afternoon with a wonderful girl being wonderfully sick. Suffice it to say, that afternoon didn’t end with me in the best of moods. And then I get onto my computer and Ted’s messaging me about the article.

Ted: this is really enjoyable

Iain: Ok, sarcasmo

Thinking in my head:”I’m really not in the mood for this.”

Ted: no, I mean it

Ted: it’s very fun

Ted: I think people will like it

Iain: Excellent

“Who cares? I’m sick. Look, I just spat up blood! Woohoo.”

Ted: it’s like someone took Iain and made him chipper and bouncy

Ted: and then forced him to write

“Forced to write? I’m going to force you through a wood-chipper, you sarcastic bastard.”

Ted: I don’t understand it

Ted: but the results are solid

Iain: 😀

“You’re not going to understand it when I force feed you Tim Aten liver, either. I hear it’s bitter.”

As you see though, my relationship with my beloved editor is built on a foundation of lies, falsehoods, and sarcasm. However, eventually people said positive things, so I actually assumed they were being honest and Ted wasn’t just publishing it to embarrass me.

Not that I think he’d do that. Man, oh man. He couldn’t even use a cheese-danish.

Let’s get on with the show. I’m glad the article received positive feedback. However, I’d like to make the point that I’m looking for direction as to what to give Steve. I did get some last week, but if you like the articles, please fire off some ideas to either change the deck or simply what he should play.

Anyway, JPV wrote :

“Great stuff – perhaps it doesn’t belong in Strategy, but on the other hand, building (and discussing builds) with sub-optimal cards helps people learn to recognize the crazy good ones when they come along…”

I’m not even totally sure it’s all that strategy-like at times, but a series is built on consistency. The first article didn’t really have a lot of strategy, I’ll admit, but the later ones including this one probably will have a fair bit more.

Should it have been in Strategy? Maybe. If people feel it doesn’t deserve to be there, I’ll just have to end up working towards making it more of a strategy article. And hopefully just as entertaining. That might take two or three more pages to manage though. Bear with me, Ted. I know how much you hate editing my long articles.

(Ted actually complained repeatedly when I handed in the Two-headed Darksteel reviews – we’d rack up however many words and he’d come back at me with”You said it was short! This is almost fifteen pages in twelve-point font and you keep forgetting to capitalize card names! You lying sack!”)

To continue with JPV’s comment.

“I vote for Beasts/Cliffs for the next go-round.”

Here’s the thing. Back when Mirrodin first came out, I threw together a Beasts deck for Steve. It wasn’t a serious deck – even less serious than anything you’ll ever see in here – And Steve hated it. I admit the deck was a little wacky, as I was a touch inexperienced with the new cards. I’ve done a lot of testing and playing of Standard since Mirrodin came out, so I’m a better deck-builder now than I was then. Learning can be quite the rapid process when you actually play decks.

Words to live by. If you actually do something, you get better at it!

Thusly Steve did very poorly with the deck. It was Red and Green, featuring quite the absurd cast of Beasts. Steve has pretty much hated on Beast decks since then. There’s Beasts he likes – Like the cousin of Savannah”Glassjaw” Lions, Branchsnap Lorian. But for the most part, if I put an Arc-Slogger in front of him, he gives me a freaky look and sometimes flips me off. So, for the moment, I’d like to avoid giving him a straight up R/G deck that isn’t Land destruction or straight speedy aggro. He ran the speedy aggro deck for a while, Bonesplitters on Troll Ascetics and all, and that deck he adored.

Funny how the difference in a deck can just be a matter of a Bonesplitter wielded by Birds of Paradise, and it falls into someone’s tastes. My harmless Bird of Paradise is wielding an axe! And it’s killing you with it! Bwahaha! Take that!

So I didn’t want to give him R/G Beasts all at once…

The Decks of Steve Week 3 : Repeated Drug References dot deck

I order most of my cards from StarCityGames as a writer. The writing”business” has been pretty good to me. However, there is one problem I always seem to run into. I order the wrong cards. Often I’ll forget about ordering important uncommons like Oxidize or Juggernaut, while ordering silly junk like Well of Lost Dreams. Sure it’s fun card, but I’m probably going to need Oxidizes.

I just finished my playset of Oxidizes the day Steve played this deck. They went missing from the local store. They just weren’t there. Were they uncommon or rare? I don’t know, since I had more Arcbound Ravagers than Oxidizes. Which wasn’t hard, since I’d managed to find one. I eventually pleaded them out of a local.

Whine whine whine whine. Anyway, on with the deck before I drown this article in my tears.

What IS that Viridian Zealot smoking?

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Wirewood Symbiote

4 Viridian Zealot

4 Wirewood Herald

4 Troll Ascetic

4 Ravenous Baloth

4 Fangren Firstborn

4 Skullclamp

3 Naturalize

1 Viridian Shaman

1 Caller of the Claw

11 Forest

4 Stalking Stones

4 Blinkmoth Nexus

4 Windswept Heath


2 Caller of the Claw

3 Worship

1 Plains

4 Plow Under

2 Viridian Shaman

2 Oxidize

1 Naturalize

This is basically simple aggro. It has access to a lot of creatures, and then lands that turn into creatures. However, that’s not to say it’s a dumb deck. A lot of the creatures do things, and the ability to tutor for Elves of your choice is of course quite useful. Wirewood Herald is a card advantage machine when paired with Skullclamp.

You could say this deck is a blend of Beasts, Elves and G/B Oversold Cemetery. It shares a number of the tricks and concepts that those decks use, while being a rather consistent beatdown deck. It’s a blast to play. The sideboarding plans were designed out like this :

Vs. Affinity

-1 Caller of the Claw, -4 Wirewood Herald

+1 Naturalize, +2 Oxidize, +2 Viridian Shaman

That’s probably not the best plan though. I’m not totally sure. Games against Affinity seem to either involve them flying some Ravager fueled counters over my head, or the game going into a stall where the Green deck starts picking off artifacts and replenishing its life with Baloth, and then beating the Heck out of the artifact deck with random nonsense like giant Blinkmoth Nexuses. Keep in mind if a +1/+1 counter is added from Fangren Firstborn to the Blinkmoth Nexus, the counter is permanent – It’s not going anywhere.

Anywhere except your opponent’s face.

Vs. Goblins

-1 Caller of the Claw, -1 Fangren Firstborn, -1 Wirewood Herald, -1 Stalking Stones

+1 Plains, +3 Worship

I don’t like to fall back on the Troll / Worship plan, since it’s pretty predictable and far from a sure thing, but it’s reasonable for this deck to put the Goblin deck on a quick clock with a small amount of luck. This is probably a much worse matchup than it should be, and may need more sideboard slots. I’m sort of thinking Steely Resolve on Beasts or Elves would really help, but who knows. Someone give me some ideas here.

Vs. Control

Depends heavily. Against Slide for example, you might want to bring in the Naturalize, the extra Callers, the Plow Unders and maybe even a Viridian Shaman to take out Damping Matrix. Or you might not see a lot of artifacts and may yearn for the forbidden fruit that is Wing Snare. Perhaps Silklash Spider should be available as well, I’m not completely sure. I don’t write these articles to be sure. Are you sure? Are you sure you wanted that on your pizza, Cory?

Either way, you basically want to look at what they’re playing and what you expect them to bring in. I should have probably written that down and given such notes to Steve, but unfortunately I am Lord, Master and Teacher in the High Arts of”Forgetting things.”

I used the phrase High arts and my editor started thinking about drugs. [No, that’s Kibler. – Knut] I didn’t mean to imply I’m stoned, that’s Steve’s job. Not mine. The notes were written, I just left them at home. The control one depends so heavily on how much use you expect to manage from the artifact-only removal, and if you expect Damping Matrix to shake up your Zealots, Symbiotes and other men.

Anyway, Steve ran into Slide round one. I chuckled, assuming he would draw averagely and just mash on Slide – I mean, it has three maindeck Naturalize, four Wirewood Herald to go fetch one of the four Viridian Zealot. With Astral Slide and Lightning Rift taken care of, he’d be free to abuse Skullclamp to his heart’s content. Oh and he’s got Troll Ascetic, bane of Slide players everywhere.

Well, he lost. His opponent saw three Lightning Rifts both games, often by turn 5. Oops! Steve immediately got really angry and claimed”The deck sucks! I hate it!”

He played against two Affinity decks and a Marching Lattice combo deck the next three rounds. He may or may not have been”in favor” in those matches and”laid the beatings” like a good Green player. He then played against Goblin-Bidding, and lost. He claimed afterwards the deck was basically one way or the other.

Either you were heavily in favor to win and drew a good hand, or you drew some garbage hand, did nothing and lost.

Oh well.

I’m thinking the White is the wrong way to go and perhaps the deck should either run some Steely Resolves or maybe some Red for Pyroclasm and Goblin Sharpshooters of your own, for that match up. Other than that, the deck could really, really use Hurricane. So um, if not for Hurricane, we’ll just have to settle for Silklash Spider.

I don’t think I can give this deck to Steve again, as he still hates it and wants it to die. Especially since I keep talking about how his Skullclamps are never going to work right until I paint little green marijuana leaves on them, at which point he will be much more willing to Skullclamp creatures that way.

I’m not even kidding. And he’s so sick of that joke.

The Decks of Steve Week 4 : The Magma Vial

I was tempted to call that”Acid vial” to get just one more immature drug reference in. I feel boxed in, you know. I’ve got a stoner playing the deck and a stoner editing the article. Sometimes Ted Knutson will stumble into IRC and begin making slurred, impaired statements with his head all up in the clouds.

Then again, he does that normally. [Oh ho, isn’t Iain funny today? – Knut, holding back]

I wrote last week that I would probably give Steve a Mono-Red or a Mono-Green deck. Let’s go with both, shall we? And to top it off, let’s put Aether Vial in that deck. Aether Vial is a cute little card. Why good old boy Chris Romeo wrote about it last week, and Zvi has managed to put it into every single one of his decks.

Like, all of them. Even Mono-White control. The temptation to take an Eternal Dragon back for five and then slam him onto the board for no money down at the end of an opponent’s turn was just to great for even the wizened Zvi.

(I’m kidding, but that might actually not be such a bad idea. Someone write that down and get back to me.)

4 Slith Firewalker

4 Viashino Sandstalker

3 War Elemental

4 Blistering Firecat

3 Avarax

4 Aether Vial

4 Shrapnel Blast

4 Molten Rain

4 Stone Rain

4 Flamebreak

4 Great Furnace

4 Chrome Mox

3 Darksteel Citadel

11 Mountain

Have you ever sat down to put together a deck after a long night of play testing, gotten lazy and just sort of … Not tested it enough? We played a couple games, and the deck was sorta funny. One time, my friend swung in with a Myr Enforcer, so I played a War Elemental as an instant through vial then pointed Shrapnel Blast at his dome in response to the comes into play trigger going on the stack. Bam, instant speed 6/6 creature for only two mana invested! Seemed pretty good. At the time.

So I packed it up, acquired the sideboard cards and gave it to Steve. Steve was quite tired and said he hadn’t gotten any sleep. The results of him playing the deck were not ultimately all that positive. He continued to mumble all day about how he hadn’t slept last night and how he hated the deck.

I don’t think this is the right way to build a Mono-Red deck. Aether Vial is a really neat trick, but it doesn’t seem like the rest of the deck wants to accept it. War Elemental really doesn’t give you enough for its drawback.

The sideboard didn’t work out too well either. It’s definitely true that you need to give up the Aether Vial plan for the Damping Matrix plan against some decks. Vial is pretty hot, but you’d rather turn off Sharpshooter and Sparksmith than make instant speed War Elementals. Bad plan. It only had one Matrix in it. Tsk tsk. Silly Iain.

Back to the Mono-Gee

I think of the two, the Mono-Green deck had much more potential. Mono-Red has a good game-winning spell against Ravager-Affinity, but it doesn’t seem overwhelmingly strong. Mono-Green, on the other hand implemented, Skullclamp well, was pretty fast, and could do lots of good tricks against everything but Goblins. Plus, it did well in Polish Regionals, or so I hear from a friend. I’m half-Polish by the way. I never met a pierogi I didn’t love. So I’m definitely thinking of devoting more energy to the Mono-Green deck over the coming weeks …

So now for the choose your own adventure part of the article!

Next week I should give Steve:

A – A revamped version of Mono-Green with Red and more beasts to use cliffs effectively

B – A revamped version of Mono-Red, so he throws the deck at my head, knocks me unconscious, then laughs as people steal my Arcbound Ravagers. But not my shoes, since my shoes suck.

C – White weenie, just for the Hell of it

D – Let’s go back to Zombies

E – Write in answer

So it’s up to you! Please don’t answer B though. I really don’t enjoy having people throw stuff at my poor, defenseless head. It hurts too. Steve is big and he can throw things pretty hard.

Iain Telfer

Now with more crazy”banned from MiseTings for trolling” action