Well, it’s finally that time of year when a new block rotates into Standard and Extended, only to push out formerly-loved cards. The short and sweet of it is that this means an annual Iron Man tournament is being held at Kool Kards Heaven in Orleans, Ontario (3013 St. Joseph Blvd. 613-841-6385), on November 23 start time 12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
As much as I would like to have this sanctioned, Wizards doesn’t sanction multiplayer or Iron Man. Feh to them!
Readers of my older columns may recall that I have a trademark deck that I use in this format, and that much is still true. It has been enhanced by certain recent cards, all of which will be discussed later in the article. To begin, here are the rules and restrictions of our Iron Man event:
Format: Type 1 deck construction rules, allowing all Magic sets, including Unglued…
Grand Melee play structure, with each player starting with thirty life points. Whenever a card is removed from play except through Phasing, it gets ripped up. Yes this means that Parallax Tide and Parallax Wave are ridiculous.
Some cards wound up being banned or restricted because of the format, as follows:
Obliterate and Once More With Feeling are both restricted – Obliterate for the potential to destroy almost every permanent in play without opposition, and Once More With Feeling doing the same, only for a prohibitive cost of WWWW instead of 6RR.
The reason for the bannings is as follows: Simply put, Traumatize is broken in a format where the whole point is ripping up your opponent’s cards (and your own) and the swing is simply too awesome, being at times close to 20-1 in your favour. The fact that it is a Sorcery also worked against it, as few people tend to play countermagic in Iron Man.
Land Equilibrium and Limited Resources fall into the category of "annoying and fun-killing single-card strategies". A first-turn Limited Resources means that once the turn goes around the table, everyone is stuck at one land. No fun. Same with Land Equilibrium.
I try to encourage a higher mana curve and greater flexibility in Iron Man than would normally seen in tournaments. Upheaval, as well, is a little too cost effective… Though it would be hella funny if it went off. It also delays the game and tends not to make friends.
My answer, of course, would be, "To prove you have gonads, to test your mettle under pressure, to see whether you value cardboard over courage… And did I mention the prizes?"
Yes, there are prizes, and did I mention the event is free?
Prize structure will be as follows:
Last Man Standing will receive a choice of either a Tropical Island (Good condition) or a Flooded Strand and Wooded Foothills (both NM). The second-to-last man standing will receive whichever prize the Last Man did not pick. In other words if I chose the Tropical, you’d get the pain fetch lands…
Since I am so utterly and completely confident of being able to overcome anyone who shows up, I will be posting my decklist here as follows, with justifications for card choices.
Blue/White Control, Iron Man:
1x Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor
1x Ambassador Laquatus
1x Blatant Thievery
2x Control Magic
1x Cultural Exchange
2x Denying Wind
1x Future Sight
1x Gilded Drake
3x Indentured Djinn (2 Foil)
1x Possessed Aven
1x Rayne, Academy Chancellor
4x Thalakos Seer
2x Thought Devourer
1x Troublesome Spirit (Foil)
1x Unifying Theory
1x Vision Charm
1x Akroma’s Vengeance
1x Aura of Silence
1x Avenger en-Dal
1x Blinding Angel
1x Devoted Caretaker
1x Charmed Griffin
2x Congregate (probably up to 4)
1x Dismantling Blow
1x Gustcloak Savior
1x Karmic Justice
2x Kor Chant
1x Land Tax
2x Mother of Runes
1x Parallax Wave
1x Sacred Mesa
3x Soltari Champion
4x Swords to Plowshares
1x Wave of Reckoning
2x White Knight
1x Wrath of God
1x Witch Hunter
More or less 110 cards – most of them quite defensive, but with several great swing cards. I still want to do my ideal play; a second-turn Blatant Thievery, stealing everyone’s lands. No, it isn’t friendly – but boy, would it be fun!
As to the card choices…
I knew my blue had to be able to deal with a variety of situations, creatures, and other problems. My early game should see me casting one or two Indentured Djinns to mollify the masses – all the while begging for their kindness. The same reasoning applies to Unifying Theory, which should tide people over with a few extra card draws. The Thalakos Seers are there for some early pings against troublesome opponents, and have the benefit of turning into a new card once they die. I don’t plan on using the large blue flying creatures until at least the late game, and at that time they may not be able to hold off the insanity on the board, which is why I added Control Magic, Blatant Thievery, Capsize, Aboshan and Ambassador Laquatus. Laquatus should serve as a decent deterrent from attack; when one attack phase will cost you between three and six cards, it can be quite the deterrent. Aboshan serves as an Icy Manipulator and massive deterrent for ground attacks. Not only can he protect me, but used at an opponent’s end of turn, he can clear the road for the next player to attack as well.
The Archivist, Rayne and Future Sight all let me dig that much deeper, as will the Jayemdae Tome and an Armistice if I can get one by then. The Denying Winds may well be my kamikaze attack, or they could be a fine finishing blow. The threat of having seven cards removed from your deck should hopefully restran you from destroying me. If not, then I’m in big trouble.
The Liquifys and Absorb are there as a reactionary stall tactic, in case something small or potentially troublesome hits the table that can’t be dealt with by myself or my potential allies (more on politics later).
The Phelddagrifs are another political tactic, giving opponents life points, cards, tokens in exchange for their good will. In multiplayer, Phelddagrif has proven to be extremely abusive – but it also encourages table talk and politics, so I must play with two of them.
As to the White cards, I have three "Wrath" effects in Wrath of God, Wave of Reckoning, and Akroma’s Vengeance. I hope to be able to survive long enough to be able to gloriously exterminate all the Aladdin’s Rings, Crypt Rats, and other nuisances in one fell blow.
The two Mother of Runes and single Devoted Caretaker are there to protect my few important permanents and creatures from undesirable meddling by outside forces (read "opponents"). White Knight should prove impervious to most common Black removal such as Terror, Expunge and so on; in fact, I’ll probably up the White Knight count to four quite soon. In all truth, the Gustcloak Savior should not be in the deck, and will likely be replaced by a Serra Angel or two if I can get my hands on them. The Kor Chants serve the same purpose as Mother of Runes or Devoted Caretaker, with the added bonus that they can kill an opponent’s threat as well.
Disenchant, Swords to Plowshares, Parallax Wave, and Karmic Justice all serve in varying degrees in clearing the board of undesirable permanents. Wave and Swords are all the more abusive in this format since they do actually tear the cards up, never to return again (Of course, I haven’t fully reflected on the possibility of a Wish for a torn card – but I’m sure this won’t be an issue. Heh.)
Most of the other white cards are pure defense and slow tools to build up a late game offense. Blinding Angel and Avenger en-Dal are thrown in to discourage repeated attacks, and I’m hoping Congregate can net me 30+ life points at least, since last time they gained close to eighty. Sanctimony falls into that same category of insufferably annoying cards that produce one-sided lifegain, this time punishing Red players for no valid reason.
God, I love white!
Land Tax is self-explanatory: As my deck is two and a half colours, I will at some point need to draw Forests to cast my Phelddagrifs – so why not use yet another undercosted White card to further my evil plans. Witch Hunter is in there for nostalgia’s sake, since it’s from the Dark and it can serve double duty as a pinger and as a bounce ability for my opponent’s fatties…
Charmed Griffin falls into the same category as Indentured Djinn or Unifying Theory, offering a token gift to opponents playing artifacts such as Aladdin’s Ring or Enchantments such as Worship or even Eladamri’s Vineyard.
As for the Artifacts, well… Blacker Lotus and Mana Vault are the usual mana boosters, and Fellwar Stone serves as mana fixing of sorts…Helm of Obedience is there for the pure joy of literally ripping through cards and then getting their best guy… Howling Mine is a just a friendly helper to everyone at the table, and Jayemdae Tome is just less threatening that Treasure Trove ever could be. The lone Powder Keg will soon be accompanied by a Nevinnyral’s Disk or two just in case.
Yes, I am that paranoid about anything damaging me. It all comes down to politics for me. I know people will be gunning for me and trying to kill me as quickly as possible, so I plan on forming Dark Alliances with as many people as possible prior to the event. Of course, this generally hasn’t worked in the past as we’re all to busy trying to kill each other and the bloodlust is high in our group but what the hey…If it looks like you can’t kill them, then half the battle is won.
In closing, I see that Friggin’ Rizzo is back with his usual insanity; good on him for coming back to the fold – but let’s not forget the survey. How will we ever be able to live without knowing what the prototypical Magic player really is?
I love you too, John; welcome back to Star City.