The Kitchen Table #195 — I Love Peanuts

Read Abe Sargent every Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
In my opinion, some silver-bordered cards are self-banned. My personal rule is to eschew cards that are too powerful in order to get a laugh. Mox Lotus may be funny when you see it in a pack, but it is far from hilarious when you see it kill you and everybody else at the table reliably via the use of cards like Tinker. Someone who tries to abuse the broken cards in the silver sets is not playing with the spirit of the silver sets.

Hello folks, and welcome back. I’m continuing the trek of writing on many of the topics near and dear to casual players’ hearts.

Sometimes, I don’t have an idea of what I want to write about when I begin my articles. However, there are some things I want to get off my chest. I begin writing the article’s introduction, and usually something comes to me while I am typing away.

Today I’m in a new office, after having spent most of last week moving to a new assignment here at Eastern Michigan University. You might recognize that as the place that just had a lady murdered on campus, and then the university covered up the murder, saying “no foul play” was suspected. After an arrest warrant was served, the community became outraged, and as a consequence, the President, VP of Student Affairs, and Director of Public Safety were all fired.

The building where the murder took place was my old stomping ground for four years back when I ran the Towers complex (I was moved two years ago). Now I am being moved to another complex so that when I leave to go to London, someone can take over smoothly.

When I write the intro, I have to save the document, so I create a hypothetical title for the article. Today’s hypothetical title is “I Love Peanuts.” I don’t particularly like or dislike peanuts — I’m pretty ambivalent on the subject. I haven’t had any in months, but it just popped in there.

Abe in London, part II

As I mentioned last week, I am beginning a small column-lite about my explorations and discoveries in a new city, new country, and a new continent. In the early to mid 1970’s, before I was born, my mother and father lived in London, while my dad got his Masters degree. Now I am going to get a second Masters.

The parallels are pretty obvious.

My mother taught school at a public institution in central London for almost three years. It’s in me. When I first stepped foot in London, it felt like home. Many of the things that I had picked up from my parents, from manner of speech to food likes and dislikes, were from London, but they had never mentioned anything. Living in London, they naturally learned new things, and those things carried on through me. I was raised in southern WV, but I had no accent, and I said “III-ther,” instead of “EEE-ther” for the word “either.”

I know when Boxing Day is. I can tell you the difference between a vest in America and a vest in the UK. I can use words like programme and colour. A torch is a flashlight. A spanner is a wrench. The bonnet and the boot are the hood and the trunk of a car. I grew up with this stuff, I just never knew it. I even played British versions of American games, like Cluedo instead of Clue.

I’m writing this part on Sunday. Earlier today I sent out several e-mails to people advertising flats. I even called someone in Tottenham. I’m still not close to getting a flat, but I’m working on it.

Here’s my question for today — to what degree should Magic influence your moving? When I came to Eastern Michigan University, before I even arrived for an interview, I had looked online for local stores that had FNM or Arena. I even had my ride go by one of those stores when he was showing me around town.

Magic is an important part of my life. Don’t think that I haven’t looked on the Wizards website to see where tournaments are held! I’d love to get a flat that is across the street from a Magic venue. I’ve done the same for WizKids and HeroClix.

I can’t tell who I will end up playing Magic with. Will I be with the casual playgroup or competitive Magic? What I end up doing will reflect itself in my writing. It will be a known factor, at least.

Begin the Article

As I was considering the title, I realized that there is a Magic card that I could use to build a deck that works. Of course, not everyone likes cards from silver-bordered expansions, but I think we can spend some time making a few decks for those who do like it.

In my opinion, some silver-bordered cards are self-banned. My personal rule is to eschew cards that are too powerful in order to get a laugh. Mox Lotus may be funny when you see it in a pack, but it is far from hilarious when you see it kill you and everybody else at the table reliably via the use of cards like Tinker. Someone who tries to abuse the broken cards in the silver sets is not playing with the spirit of the silver sets.

There are cards that I consider pretty essential from the silver sets. Land Aid ’04 and Who/What/When/Where/Why are two great examples.

There’s no reason not to build a Frankie Peanuts deck right now.

Before we begin, you need to ask what your Frankie Peanuts is intended to do. Is it intended to illicit information from a person? In this case, you will be using Frankie Peanuts to ask questions like, “Were you the one who ate my sandwich last week?” or, “Have you watched porn in the last 24 hours?”

On the other hand, you might be using Frankie Peanuts for in game action. Ask someone if they will block your Grizzly Bear with their Serra Angel. If they say no, kill or tap or bounce their other creatures and swing for two. If they say yes, you can Giant Growth or Divine Transformation your Bear and kill their Angel.

Let’s build one of each type of deck!

This deck is the first type of Frankie Peanuts deck. You aren’t even trying to win, merely to delay the game long enough to ask a ton of questions. Meanwhile, the deck is geared around protecting your Frankie.

If you can manage to get a Scepter out with a Holy Day, you can just sit back and relax while your Frankie gets a lot of questions answered. You might ask things like, “Have you ever had a surgery designed to enhance any part of your body?” or, “Do you have a tattoo or piercing in a place of your body normally covered by a swimsuit?”

There are a lot of good cards to place under a stick. Swords is great on a Scepter, and will probably give your opponent a ton of life while also taking out a lot of creatures. Swords is not the only stickable card besides the Holy day. Impulse is a solid choice, and Counterspell and even Confound have value on your stick.

I tossed in Eesha to play defense. She is also your only winning condition in the deck, in case you care to win. It certainly is possible that you’ll get a Holy Day on a stick and then swing ten times with an Eesha and get a win. Impulse will help you find the pieces.

Diplomatic Immunity is included solely to protect your Frankie Peanuts, although you can toss one on an Eesha if you have need. I really like keeping Frankie alive, and between the Immunities, Confounds and Counterspells, you should be fine.

This deck is designed to use Frankie Peanuts with situations that will put you in a winning position in terms of the Magic board. The deck features 28 cards with morph! Your opponent will never be able to figure out what they are.

During your upkeep, you use Frankie to set up good attacking situations for yourself.

Suppose that your opponent has a 3/3 creature untapped, and you have two morphs. Say something like, “If I attack you with just one morph, will you block it?”

If your opponent says yes, then attack with something to kill his creature, like a Daru Lancer. If he says no, then attack with something that will hit him for damage.

Note that what you really want is several defending creatures and several morph creatures. This deck likes a lot of surprises.

Suppose she has out a Serra Angel, a Cloudchaser Eagle and a Staunch Defenders, all untapped. You might point to one of your trick morphs and say, “Will your Serra Angel block this creature if it attacks?”

Then you can manipulate the attack so that you take advantage of knowledge that your opponent does not have. Maybe the morph will be blocked by a Serra, and it’s secretly a Karona’s Zealot. That’d be pretty handy. Maybe he said he would not block it with the Serra. You now have additional information that can be used to hurt your opponent.

Scroll Rack can get you to the cards you need. Note that Whetwheel is good with Scroll Rack, milling off a few cards that you no longer wanted. The creature-less morphs are great tricks, and the Field is even better because it can help to save other creatures when it morphs up.

Finally, the deck can fall back on four Swords to Plowshares during emergencies. It’s nice to know that you have answers to particularly problematic creatures, like Akroma the White or Darksteel Colossus.

Magic is a game about making choices. Frankie eliminates a choice that your opponent could make. There are other ways to use Frankie besides playing with blocking. You might ask the following of a control deck, “Will you counter the first spell I play this turn?”

That’s a pretty clever question. Now the counter deck is locked in. If they answer yes, drop your worst card and they have to counter it if they are able (they might play something else as an instant first, during your upkeep step, preventing them from countering your spell).

If they said they would not counter your spell, now you have a free spell to play. Either way you’ve got them.

In other builds with Frankie Peanuts, you can use him in other ways. For example, against a deck with removal, with just a 2/2 and a 2/1 in play, facing no defenders, you might ask, “Will you play a spell that targets one of my creatures this turn?”

Not wanting to waste one of his two removal spells on a 2/1 or a 2/2, he says, “No.” Then you play Ball Lightning and hit for 10. If he says yes, attack and force him to use removal on a bad creature, then play something good.

You could even say, “Are you going to play a spell before my End of Turn step?” Then you’d be safe from removal, countermagic, and whatnot or you’d force your opponent to blow a card from their hand outside of the discard step.

Remember that your opponent can lie, if they do not have the ability to make their lie come true. If you asked the above question about playing a spell prior to the discard step, and your opponent said yes, she would not be required to play something if she had nothing in her hand that she could play. That’s an allowable lie. Now, if the game state changes in such a way as to allow her previous lie, she has to follow that.

Suppose that she said that she would play a spell before your discard phase, having nothing that could be played in her hand. Then you play and use a Memory Jar and she draws a Blue Elemental Blast in her hand. She has out a Red creature, but you have nothing Red. She is forced to use the Blast because she is bound by Frankie, even if it means she kills her own creature.

Rules lawyers and purists might want to make highly complex questions with detailed structures in order to extract the wording that they want from Mr. Peanuts.

“Either you say yes, which means you are going to get me a drink from the fridge or you say no, which means you are going to get me a drink from the store, so which is it, yes or no?”

Frankie Peanuts is not an Ashnod’s Coupon that triggers every upkeep. Note that this structure of question can be used for anything:

“Either you say yes, which means you are going to take your top off or you say no, which means you are going to take your pants off, so which is it, yes or no?”

I don’t believe that these questions are in the spirit of Frankie Peanuts.

Note that the FAQ says that you cannot ask objectionable questions of people. My issue with that ruling is that the word “objectionable” is something I object to. My opponent may find every question Frankie ever asks as objectionable, and that’s not in the spirit either.

I feel that the questions I listed at the beginning of this article are fine.

“Did you leave the toilet seat up?”
“Did you eat my chips last week?”
“Do you know who did?”
“Was it Tony?”
“What about Steve?”
“Are you going to be here at next week’s Magic night?”
“Were you on a date last week instead of coming to Magic night?”

I had asked myself if I should follow Frankie of the Peanuts with either more Unglued/Unhinged decks or more elephant decks. Both are in the vein of good ol’ Frankie.

At this point, however, with two decks and a solid overview of Frankie and his impact on Magic, I feel like I’ve written another Silly Card Tricks article, and that Frankie alone has sufficed to fill the article.

I went from a random title to an article idea from that title to the entire article flowing from that idea. That’s serendipity. However, as I look over Frankie Peanuts, I realize that he is fit to stand beside cards like Cloudstone Curio, Equilibrium, Fleetfoot Panther, Portcullis, Mage’s Contest and other cards that have received a similar treatment from me.

Like I said before, I can’t play just any Un- card. However, I hope you see that the two decks that I did build use Frankie without increasing the cheese content above tolerable levels.

That brings us to the close of yet another article. I hope that Frankie and Friends tickled your fancy. Remember that many casual players consider all cards and sets legal in their games, so don’t ignore a card simply because it has a silver border.

Until later,

Abe Sargent

P.S. — Yay Evan!