The Great Red/Blue Misdirection

Nothing gets my bile rising like a good thing gone bad. Not since Zardoz have I had such a self-contradictory movie experience. To be sure, that was a lot more extreme. It’s hard to top spending thirty minutes trying to suffocate yourself with a pillow in hopes of ending prematurely a film that you proclaim…

Nothing gets my bile rising like a good thing gone bad.

Not since Zardoz have I had such a self-contradictory movie experience. To be sure, that was a lot more extreme. It’s hard to top spending thirty minutes trying to suffocate yourself with a pillow in hopes of ending prematurely a film that you proclaim to be one of the best ever.

On a smaller scale, this was my reaction to Perfect Blue, an anime that follows Mima, a pop-idol turning actress, as her life spirals out of control and into terror.

There’s an awful lot to like about this movie. Foremost, the direction was near-flawless. Transitions from scene to scene were so mind-blowingly good they literally blew my mind. Subtly done, the few places where artifice showed through were very forgivable. The style, which uses lots of quick cuts, harmonizes so well with Mima’s confusion and fear that the machinations of film become invisible.

The story is incredibly engrossing. The reliance on a subjective rather than objective narrative feeds the feeling of unreality that is so essential in psychological thrillers. The screenwriter has an excellent understanding of the pace at which the mystery should unfold. The revelations start slow and cryptic, but accelerate into a whirlwind.

Finally, if you’re a sucker for SUPER EXCITING J-POP, then the featured song Ai no Tenshi is definitely for you.

So what’s not to like?

Sadly, this movie has one of the most shoddily-done, slapdash-hasty cookie-cutter sense-defying awful awful awful rotten bad endings in the medium of film. It was enough to get me to my feet, shaking my fist and shouting profanity at the screen. This at three in the morning. My apologies to Dan.

An ending as bad as this ruins a film for me. Thing is, I just can’t stop thinking about it. If I wasn’t writing this I’d be watching it right now, love-hating every minute of it.

So I assume this has to be prophetic.

Required reading is last week’s diatribe, available here at http://starcityccg.com/news/Magic/Bennett/000714bennett.html, of all places. Knowing the founding misassumptions and faulty logic can only make this seem like genius by comparison.

Perfect Blue (Rewrite Remix)

4x Waterfront Bouncer

4x Cloudskate

4x Spiketail Hatchling

4x Drake Hatchling

4x Rishadan Airship

4x Withdraw

2x Gush

4x Daze

4x Counterspell

4x Thwart

22x Island

Sure it’s dangerous to name a deck after a movie that fails (does it?) so miserably. It’s just that this blue beats deck is, well, perfect.

And even if that’s not true, it’s still really good and I have two more days to finalise it.

I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the idea of fine-tuning until now. I never realised how frustrating it is.

This week I’ve put more hours into testing and redesign than were required for the whole of the deck’s creation to this point. The problem is that the results I’m seeing are less and less spectacular. This isn’t to say that Perfect Blue is disappointing (It’s more than a house, it’s a chateau), it’s just that when you make changes in the early going the improvement is immediately apparent. Seeing the performance changes from one-card tweaks isn’t nearly as exciting.

Which all goes to show that success is a lot like heroin, from the larger and larger requirements down to the paranoia and jitteriness. The one exception being that comparatively few people convert everything they own into success, only to cook it up on a spoon and shoot it into the veins behind their eyes.

Let’s look first at the two maindeck changes that have taken place.

Cloud Sprite becomes Cloudskate.

Affectionately named "Skate … Or … Die" after the popular 1986 Midway arcade game 720, the flying ray drops beats like a certain New York rap group. Usually let through for six damage because of its fading, it has excellent synergy with Withdraw. Another cheap threat to stall Rising Waters (if you’re Bouncer locked) until you have a hand of Thwarts, Counterspells and Bouncers of your own. It’s fabulous.

Foil becomes Gush.

Nothing performed so contrary to expectations as Foil. It frequently thrust me into analyses like:

OMC: Well, if I let that resolve, I’m going to lose. If I Foil it, I’m probably going to lose. Guess I’ll Foil.


OMC: I lose. Hooray for Foil!

Which isn’t to say that without Foil, I’d be better off. The problem is that when Foil is useful, the situation is still pretty hopeless. Thus they have become Gushes, which are much more generally useful. Not only do they draw you extra cards, but also return Islands for Bouncer food (something I had been missing in drawn-out games). Lastly, they can be used to overcome missing your third land-drop.

The final changes being hammered out now are Rath’s Edge, an extra Gush, Seal of Removal and Ribbon Snake. Of these, only the first two are likely to hit main-deck status.

We’ve pretty much determined that Perfect Blue can expect a 60-40 split against Rising Waters, which isn’t amazing, but hopefully good enough. If you’re expecting a lot of Waters decks, you should probably play a more dedicated anti-deck. Otherwise, Perfect Blue is an excellent choice. Our sideboarding strategy is still being tested, and oscillates between Seals of Removal with more fat creatures or Rising Waters of our own (expecting our opponent to remove theirs), and Foils and the remaining Gushes.

As for G/W rebels, the first game shouldn’t be too difficult, if they lack main-deck Spidersilk Armour. However, winning one out of two games isn’t that amazing when you rely on Hoodwink to carry the day. I am unsure about the cards to be boarded out in this match. Possibly Dazes if you’re feeling up to the Poker Face. If they do have the Armour, you’re still not done in. Have faith in the delay factor of your Spiketails and Dazes, and the sheer NO of eight other counters.

As for Mono-Rebels, the matchup is definitely in your favour. Seals of Removal from the side will provide added protection against potential Cho-Blue action. There’s even talk of siding in Chimeric Idol, assuming they remove their enchantment removal. If worse comes to worse, you can still race them.

The remaining matchups are only lightly tested, but the outcomes have been favourable. Fortunately, this deck is fifty-six commons and four uncommons, so acquiring multiple copies hasn’t been difficult.

You know a deck’s good when Nick Page asks after its bad matchups, and you need to scratch your scraggly beard and make pondering sounds.

(Sky has just pointed out that Mercenary decks invite Perfect Blue to a Bayou viewing of Deliverance. Fair enough.)

The other fact that makes me stare wistfully in hope is that I have such a hard time decided what cards to remove for the boarded in cards. That seems a sign of a strong deck.

Now let all that analysis slide as I present the brainchildren of The Right Honourable Thomas Gannon IV and Blake "Nude Beneath My Towel" Manders.

The first is a brutal Red/Blue beatdown deck sporting eight (8!) Brawlers, Bouncers, Withdraws, lots of burn, and the highly unexpected Gulf Squid. Utility creatures toe the line when your opponent is unwilling to cast spells for fear of tapping out, and once the Brawlers hit, the squid fires them through for much-needed beatdown. Twelve burn spells make sure you finish them off.

The second is more control-oriented. It uses red for removal in the early game, and then sets about filling the sky with huge, tough, blue flying monsters, all of which have big butts.

This is the deck Sky will be playing. I mention that for no reason whatsoever. As we speak, he’s adding counters and burn to what appears to be a flawed design. The past two times he’s done this, he’s done incredibly well (barring some Karplusian Forests that were absent from his decklist). I’d look into this if I could believe Sky about anything.

Josh Bennett


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Psychic Friends fail to foresee the return of THE UNPREDICTABLE JOHNNY RODZ! "What did you expect?" say viziers.