No more Izzet jokes! This is my new cause. I’m tired of deck or article titles that use Izzet as a pun for, “Is it.” Izzet Time? Izzet You? Izzet Over? It’s the thing, Izzet? Izzet My Mother? Izzet the Real Thing? Izzet Nasty? Izzet Ready? Izzet the Butler?
Please find a new way to title your Izzet decks and articles. This has become neither clever nor original, and no one thinks it’s funny any more, except you. Dial it back, boys.
Don’t turn around and start doing the same thing with Gruul, either. Don’t say that “such and such a deck is Gruul-ing,” or anything like that. It does not take intelligence to make this stuff up, so knock it off. I don’t care what you title your own personal decks in real life, but don’t subject us readers to this bilge.
Inspiration can come from the oddest places sometimes. Writers have to read a lot. We devour Magic articles, at least if we want to keep our skills up. I always smile at a clever turn of phrase. I enjoy particularly interesting stories. I love new formats or ways of looking at the Game.
Recently, Joe Johnson saw an article published on this here site. I found the character that he describes as “Joey” to be quite interesting. Who is Joey? Joey was a kid, probably in late Elementary School or early Junior High who liked Magic. Aaron Forsythe met him at an airport and later talked to him there, about Magic.
“Wait a second?” you ask. “I thought this was Joe Johnson’s article.” Well, it is, but apparently he was quoting Aaron Forsythe. It looks like I’m about to quote Joe quoting Aaron. It’s really confusing.
What strikes me about Joey is some of the conversation that Joe/Aaron relates. Here are the important bits, cut and pasted into this article because we are going to use them:
“My favorite creature is the Deranged Hermit,” I said.
”Mine’s the Horned Troll,” replied Joey, “I really like Trolls.”
[H]e asked, “Have you ever heard of the Ice Deck?”
”Ice Deck?” I repeated. “No…”
”It’s the second rarest deck in the world,” said the child, “and I have it. There’s some 10/10’s in it.”
Here is what we know about Joey’s Ice Deck.
1) It has 10/10s in it
2) It is the second rarest deck in the world
3) Joey’s favorite creature is Horned Troll, so it’s likely in the Ice Deck
4) This is all around the time of Masques Block
Immediately, I asked myself, “What could the Ice Deck look like?” I want to find out what is in the second rarest deck in the world. Don’t you?
Ah, but I am a Builder of Decks and an Internet Writer. I don’t have to wonder what Joey’s Ice Deck looked like – I can build it, or at least, a reasonable interpretation of what it looked like.
What Would Joey Do?
One of the important things that I need to understand before approaching this deck is that I am not building an Abe deck. Instead, I am building a Joey deck, and that’s without knowing much about Joey. I need to get into Joey’s mindset. What do I know about Joey?
Well, for one, he talks about creatures in terms of power and toughness. Joey cares about a creature’s size. That means that he likes big creatures, not necessarily efficient creatures.
For another, Joey likes cool flavor. His favorite card is Horned Troll, not because of the art or the ability, but simply because he really likes trolls.
Joey’s deck is labeled an Ice Deck… not a Fire Deck, nor a Stone Deck, nor an Acid Deck. There may be a clue there as to the deck’s construction.
When Joey was told about the Skyshroud Behemoth being 10/10, he said that he had some “like that.” This is different than saying “I have those.” Therefore, it is logical to conclude that Joey has 10/10 creatures that are not Behemoths in the Ice Deck.
Behemoths and Leviathans, Oh My!
There are only two creatures in the entire game that are 10/10 – Skyshroud Behemoth and Leviathan. If we take Joey at his word that the Ice deck contained 10/10 creatures and that the creatures he owned were like the Behemoth, then the deck has to have Leviathans.
Now, I doubt Joey had a complete set. I bet he’d be happy with two, although he might search for a third, I bet he really was happy to have gotten two Leviathans. He has to have more than one in his deck, but I bet he was still searching for them.
He could have Skyshroud Behemoth as well, and simply forgot the card title. It is obvious that, outside of Horned Troll, he doesn’t care as much about card titles as most Magic players. I don’t think this is out of the question, so let’s go ahead and toss one in, and say that he was inconsistent when he said, “some like those.”
Now we have the big guns in his deck. Green/Blue creates an icy experience? I guess we’ll see…
Of Trolls and Ice
Since his favorite card was a common he probably has several in the deck. If it were a Prophecy or Nemesis common, then I bet he would have a full set, but Masques is a large set, and I bet he hasn’t enough cards to acquire a full set yet. My bet is that he had three.
Now, the next part requires a bit more care. What card would have been in print that would have suggested the title, “Ice Deck?” There has to be some reason for that. Now, realistically, it could be something as silly as a friend having a nickname Ice building it for him.
However, there likely is a Magic related reason behind the deck’s name, and now I need to find it. Rising Waters was in print at the time, and lots of players were playing Rising Waters. Because of its similarity to Winter Orb, a lot of players were calling these decks “Frozen.” One possibility is that this deck also had Rising Waters.
I doubt it though. I doubt that a kid who is still at the power/toughness level of Magic knows about previous cards and what a later version is called. Let’s not overthink this. We have a kid with an Ice Deck. The likelihood is that there is some card in the deck that suggests Ice.
The child bought Prophecy and Core Set cards (Eighth Edition?). The problem with this is obvious – Eighth Edition and Masques block were not out at the same time. Either the author is confused and meant to say, “Basic Set,” or this Electronics Boutique at the Pittsburgh airport was selling Eighth Edition at the same time as Masques block.
Core Set (Eighth) came out in 2003. Prophecy came out in 2000. The legal base set then was Sixth Edition. So, either the writer is wrong, and it was the Classic Set that the kid bought, or this store was selling cards four years apart (which is not likely for an EB store.) The answer to this will change my vision of the Ice Deck significantly, so I need to do some more research.
I reread the article looking for clues and discover that this was in 2002. So, there was no Core Set at the time (silly Joe/Aaron!). However, Seventh Edition had come out, as had Invasion Block (which leads me to wonder why this kid would buy Prophecy and why Aaron would buy a draft set of Masques block if Invasion block had been released in 2000 and 2001).
In fact, here’s an additional question: Why would a kid have, as his favorite card, some common from several years ago when a cooler, better Troll was printed in Invasion? Wouldn’t a kid who was obviously all about the power and toughness have liked the 3/3 Charging Troll with its nifty gold border more than a 2/2 Horned Troll? In fact, the 2000 and 2001 US Nationals were held in Orlando as well, so maybe someone just mixed up the year? (Joe/Aaron, I’m looking at you) In fact, since Aaron bought a draft set of Masques and since the kid wanted Prophecy, I suspect that this is the 2000 US Nationals, which began on June 8, 2000. Prophecy was released on June 5, 2000. It makes sense for a kid to buy a brand new set and for a pro to buy a draft set of a newly released set that completes a block for practice.
Also, Aaron listed his favorite card as Deranged Hermit, which makes sense since he had played Angry Hermit. In fact, Forsythe piloted Angry Hermit at US Nationals in 2000! It makes perfect sense for Aaron to name the key card in the deck he is about to play, as opposed to a deck he played two years ago.
Now, if Joe had provided a link to where Aaron had written this story about himself and Joey, then I’d have some additional evidence. However, I think that the evidence suggests that this story was written in Early June, 2000, not 2002.
Since Prophecy had literally just been released, it is doubtful that any Prophecy cards had made their way to the Ice Deck. In fact, these are likely the first Prophecy cards Joey opened up! As such, I will focus my search on the previous few sets:
Cards that might suggest an Ice Deck that were printed one year before June 2000:
Flint Golem (Looks a bit like he’s made out of Ice)
Gush (Has what may be a giant Iceberg in the art)
Chameleon Spirit (Possibly being formed out of Ice on the art)
Eye of Ramos (May look like a piece of Ice)
Blizzard Elemental (As if you need a reason)
Chill (Because of the name, not the art)
Crystal Rod (Might be breaking glass, might be breaking Ice)
Fyndhorn Brownie (Immersed in snow)
Glacial Wall (Duh)
Scaled Wurm (Flavor text)
I bet this kid thought his Ice deck was special because it was his first attempt at a control deck. What do you think? I bet he had a few cards with this cold theme and figured that control decks set out to Ice the opponent, and hence, came up with the name. Let’s add a few cards from this collection:
1 Blizzard Elemental – It’s big, icy, and rare. No doubt that if the kid opened or traded for one, he’d play it.
2 Glacial Wall – Big numbers, uncommon, and icy. Kid probably though it was cool to play a cheap creature with a seven defense.
1 Gush – Played it because of the ice theme, not because he understood the concept of card advantage.
If the kid thought he was playing control, then he would have wanted cards he thought of as control. Now it’s important to point out that my idea of control and your idea of control are going to be much different than a kid’s idea of control. What might a kid play?
2 Stream of Life – This card is usually cut out of the decks of bad or young players after they’ve played for a while, but I suspect that Joey is still in a place where he thinks Stream of Life is a good card. After all, you lose when your life total goes down, and this card can raise your life total by a lot. Therefore this card must be good, right?
With Leviathan’s and a Behemoth, I have to think that Joey would covet the same card that all Timmies everywhere coveted that had recently been printed. I can remember many kids all trying to get this one card. It would fit perfectly into this deck. Joey was so proud of this deck, so I have to believe that he had at least one. He may have had two, but I doubt that he had more than that. Considering his pride, I decide that he had two:
2 Elvish Piper – With the ability to put a creature from your hand directly into play, the Elvish Piper is a tool of choice for players of big creatures everywhere.
Urza’s Block was in Standard, so I bet that he had access to the occasional card that was older than a year. Considering his love for Trolls, I bet that he was able to acquire a single copy of…
1 Albino Troll – Considering his love of the Horned Troll, this does not seem much of a stretch. It may be one of the best cards in the deck.
This guy loved big creatures, including Blue beef. As a casual player, he had access to basic set card and creatures, especially commons. It makes sense that he would grab some cards that fit his theme.
3 Sea Monster – I bet this kid loved to get his hand on a 6/6 creature in his colors. He could trade for these easily with his friends. He probably did not have any way of making a land an Island so that he could attack, figuring that these would be good blockers if nothing else.
2 Scaled Wurm – Using that same logic, Scaled Wurm had to be another card that Joey really liked. 7/6 creatures just don’t come along very often. No matter how much mana it cost, you could play it on the fifth turn with an Elvish Piper.
1 Panther Warriors – He probably added in one to round out his deck.
Masques Block probably brought him several cards besides the Horned Troll. He’d probably like:
1 Deadly Insect – Another Panther Warriors-like card. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this card regularly.
2 Saprazzan Outrigger – It’s a 5/5 creature and that’s enough. No more is needed.
3 Blastoderm – The recently released Nemesis would have likely been purchased recently as well. We all have a desire to play with new cards. He probably saw these, put in one or two, loved them, and then traded until he had a trio of Blastoderms.
2 Skyshroud Ridgeback – Someone told Joey once that one drop creatures are great to have in your deck, so he tossed in the largest one drop creature he could find.
Fleshing it Out
Many new players are attracted to easy to understand concepts. Big creatures, life total affecting cards, direct damage, and so forth. Joey was no different with the size of a creature and there is no evidence to suggest that he was anything else with other concepts. As such, I bet that he loved Prodigal Sorcerer. The combination of a simple design and what appears to be a powerful ability would likely have been too much for Joey to resist:
2 Prodigal Sorcerer
1 Stinging Barrier
He probably had several uncommons as well. Here are a few that I bet he had:
1 Elven Riders – Hard to block creature of some size.
2 Fyndhorn Elder – Someone told him that he needed a way to cast big creatures more quickly.
2 Desert Twister – You can do anything with it!
1 Plated Spider – He’s a cool spider!
We have 22 slots left for Joey’s lands. I bet that he started with 20 lands, and then realized that he needed a couple more and upped his total to 22. (In reality, he needs a lot more, but them’s the breaks.)
I bet that he would do more than just play Islands and Forests. I suspect that he would have loved the Masques Block common depletion counter lands than could tap for two mana. A pair each of Hickory Woodlot and Saprazzan Skerry would fit into this deck.
Despite there being more Green cards than Blue cards in the deck, don’t you think that Joey would want an even mix of lands, “Just in case?” As such, I decide to toss in nine each of Forests and Islands.
We have a completed deck, so let’s take a look:
- 1 Albino Troll
- 2 Leviathan
- 1 Elven Riders
- 2 Prodigal Sorcerer
- 2 Scaled Wurm
- 1 Plated Spider
- 1 Deadly Insect
- 1 Blizzard Elemental
- 3 Blastoderm
- 2 Elvish Piper
- 3 Sea Monster
- 3 Horned Troll
- 2 Fyndhorn Elder
- 1 Panther Warriors
- 2 Glacial Wall
- 1 Stinging Barrier
- 2 Saprazzan Outrigger
- 2 Skyshroud Ridgeback
- 1 Skyshroud Behemoth
Now you know the secret behind the second rarest deck in the world! Good luck building it, and have fun!