The Kitchen Table #360 – How to Johnny Your Type Four

Type Four is a casual draft format where you can play one spell per turn and generate as much mana as you like–the perfect format for Johnnies, Timmies, and Spikes. Today, Abe explains how to Johnny your Type 4 stack.

In my first article back from hiatus, I wrote about the grandeur of Type Four. While there used to be a few articles for the format here and there, those have died down. I felt it was time to step up and write some of my own—I even asked if you wanted this column to be a Type Four column exclusively. While some wanted that, others wanted it to be like the old days, with different columns, different formats, and more. I get that. However, Type Four is a casual format, and this is a casual column. The paucity of press that Type Four gets is so criminal that it should be locked away for two hundred years with no chance of parole. With that, I felt that I should add columns on it to my repertoire.  

In case you don’t know what Type Four is, let me give you the quick breakdown. Type Four is:

1). Type Four is a Rochester Draft Format.

2). It uses a premade stack of cards to draft.

3). You play all the cards you draft.

4). You can make any amount of mana at any time you wish.

5). You may only play one spell per turn.

6). If you pay the alternate casting cost on a pitch spell, then it doesn’t count towards this limit.

When I introduced the format, I went over the awesomeness it has. It’s easy to play, great fun, and very swingy. You can find that article here. In that article, I pointed out that this is a format where Spike and Timmy can meet, hold hands, and fall in love. The best creature is one that is huge and beating. Don’t you want to play Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre on the first turn? It’s a strong play, so Spike loves it. It’s a big creature, so Timmy adores it. Both love big spells, like Searing Wind and Plague Wind. This is a format that strides Timmy Pasture and Spike Meadow.

What the format does not automatically do is have a game for Johnnies. When building your Type Four stack, it can be quite easy to find the Spike/Timmy cards. Urza’s Rage? Check. Volley of Boulders? Check. Simic Sky Swallower? Check. Krosan Cloudscraper? Check. Time Stretch? Check.

If you are predominantly Johnny, like me, then how do you enjoy this format? After all, I’ve mentioned that this is among my Top 13 formats of all time, somewhere in #11 — #13. That’s pretty high—the top ten includes Five Color, Commander, Highlander, Anaconda Draft, Rochester Draft, and Secret Alliances. I’m 60% Johnny and 40% Timmy. How do I love this format so much?

I take the time to make sure that my Type Four stack has enough cards for the Johnnies in the room. There are people in my playgroup that are way more Johnny than I’ll ever be. I want them to enjoy it just as much as the Timmies and Spikes already do.

What sorts of cards are good for the Johnnies?

Remember that we have an unlimited amount of mana. The first place to look is classic Johnny cards that cost a lot of mana. In my opinion, the Johnniest block we’ve ever seen was the original Mirrodin Block, with all of its combo enablers. That’s where I’d start. Take a look at some of these cards from that block:

Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] — Seeing this card opens paths to drafting a lot of artifacts. If you’ve already done so, it is a major reward. Indestructible is gravy in any multiplayer environment, and especially so when everybody is dropping cards like Akroma’s Vengeance, Savage Twister, and Slice in Twain.  

Mycosynth Lattice — This will really enable artifact decks as well. Imagine Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] with this out. It abuses a lot of cards you’ll see later. I don’t want to spoil all of the cards you’ll see later, but here’s a hint: Voltaic Construct. With this? Ouch!

March of the Machines — With so many big artifacts in the stack—such as the Towers, the above ones, Spine of Ish Sah, and more—this is a great surprise army that swings for game out of nowhere.

Quicksilver ElementalThere are a ton of great activated abilities that creatures have here.  Quicksilver Elemental can have anything from regeneration to protection, shroud to searching your library for various sorts of cards, and flying to pumping the defense.

When you start adding in these pure Johnny cards, you’ll notice that other cards begin to add a Johnny dimension. Take Bosh, Iron Golem, as a good example. In Spike/Timmy world, it’s a big creature that can be flung for serious damage. Both are great! Now add Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] and Mycosynth Lattice into the draft section. You can grab combo pieces and really make Bosh roll. A card included for the other two types of players increases in value to Johnny McGee. Similarly, look at Filigree Angel, which is a 4/4 Angel of Mercy in most decks. In this increasingly hypothetical artifact deck, it’s something much more significant.

One of the good things about Johnny cards is that they are never the first few taken. You can usually take them later, but they can be much more powerful in the right deck. The right home for Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] makes it much stronger than a simple Silvos, Rogue Elemental.  Let me grab my Type Four stack and show you some Johnny ideas that I use.

Wild Pair — Building around this card is easy enough, and it can give you a strong set of rewards. Once you draft it, simply look for creatures with the same power/toughness number and grab them. If you are focused around 11, then you know that this humble Djinn of the Lamp is a great way to pull out your bomb Hoverguard Sweepers. Look for these synergies to amp up the power of your game.

Academy RectorWith just a few powerful enchantments, this is a massively powerful card. No one wants to attack into it or kill it. Feel encouraged to play Damnation and sweep the board! You can get anything from Confiscate to True Conviction to Thought Reflection. You don’t need many to make this amazing. Even getting something like Elder Mastery or Eldrazi Conscription and swinging is pretty spicy.

Echo MageThe Timmy way to use this card is to wait until someone else plays a card and then multi-fork it. The Johnny way to play it is to draft some spells worth duplicating and then double the fork. Note that level creatures in Type Four are always at the highest level, and you can always find some good ones for any draft stack.

Kuldotha ForgemasterMany tutor effects exist in this format. Most of the time, you play one and get a big beater or a mass removal spell or a Yavimaya’s Embrace or something. Great. Finding tutors that allow you to get your key pieces while also not slowing you down are quite valuable for Johnny. Another good card for this is Rune-Scarred Demon, but I haven’t added Magic 2012 cards to my Type Four stack yet. Sphinx Summoner, Godo, Bandit Warlord, Taj-Nar Swordsmith, and Treasure Mage are other options. I especially like the Bandit Warlord for his ability to strike twice.

OppositionYou may not think much of this until you realize that all of the major token making cards in Magic are here. Just wait until after you kick Conqueror’s Pledge or entwine One Dozen Eyes, and you will change your mind on this. It goes later than it should, and a Johnny can always abuse that.

Filigree SagesBeing able to untap any artifact, constantly, allows you to abuse all artifacts that tap for an effect. Tap a Tower of Calamities and untap it, and tap and untap it, killing every creature you can target at will. Tower of Murmurs is similarly potent. Take a look at Decimator Web in my deck, ouch! There are a lot of these bad boys running around. Using them ad nauseam wins games. You’d be surprised how often Filigree Sages gets dropped to the last couple of picks, or something close, and yet it wins many games. It is, by far, the most underrated card in Type Four in my experience. If your deck can use it, you need this.

Voltaic ConstructI used to run Voltaic Construct, but the Sages replaced it. I’ve been thinking recently about putting it back in. It was pretty useful, because with Shards block and the second Mirrodin block we have a large amount of artifact creatures. Even if you don’t have artifact creatures with abilities, this essentially gives them all vigilance. If you do have some abilities, look out—anything from the above Opposition and Heartseeker to not paying eight life for Phyrexian Colossus to reusing Clockwork Gnomes and Suncrusher. Can you say ouch with Solarion?

Jhoira’s ToolboxI just mentioned Clockwork Gnomes above and they can really help the artifact creatures here, but I also just pulled them out for Jhoira’s Toolbox. The Toolbox can block anything, survive mass removal, be used the turn it comes out, do not require tapping, and be used again and again. It’s just a better card for your stack.

Sculpting Steel, Copy Artifact, Clone, Phyrexian Metamorph, etc. — While all of these can be used by Timmy to copy a big giant artifact and/or creature, they also have a lot of value as tools for Johnny. Whether it’s making a second Academy Rector or a duplicate of Panacea, you will find a lot of subtle value for these guys.

Changeling Titan, Changeling Berserker, ShapesharerYou’d be surprised how often the changeling on these comes up. There are cards in here that are played for one reason but become suddenly useful for another; allow me an example. I once had a creature targeted by a removal spell. I used Cateran Overlord’s tap ability to search my library for a Mercenary with a casting cost of 6 or less and put it into play. I grabbed Changeling Titan, put it onto the battlefield, and championed the targeted creature so that it did not die and I had a 7/7 beater. There are all sorts of these clever interactions with the changelings that you don’t always see. Trust me, they are worth the price of admission—especially Shapesharer, which is just as good as the clones above, but also useful as a changeling.

Phantom CentaurIt’s just a 5/3 protection from black creature. In this format, that’s not exactly melting the world with its hotness. I included it because of its interaction with so many auras, enchantments, creatures, equipment, and so forth that pump creatures permanently. In these cases, it doesn’t die from damage, ever. You’ll find a lot of damage based removal that you can draft around it—Torrent of Lava, Savage Twister, and more.

PandemoniumIf you do not draft a deck around Pandemonium, then it is one of the worst cards here, because after you play it you can’t exactly play another big creature—so all of your enemies, with their many big giant creatures, will be dealing damage all over the table. In this case, it’s horrible and easily a last pick. However, when you build around it with Root Elemental, flash creatures, Flash itself, Vedalken Orrery, and Winding Canyons—well, you get the idea. It rocks in the right deck, as do most of these cards.  

Holistic WisdomThis card is quite good in any deck. In a deck built around it, it is one of the most broken cards in my Type Four stack, probably just under Filigree Sages. Imagine drafting some power spells, and then recurring them over and over again. Time Stretch can last a really long time, as an example. You can draft a lot of creature to recur the best ones you have, a lot of instants, etc. It’s devastating to play and replay your best stuff over and over again, especially instants. Imagine drafting Searing Wind, Urza’s Rage, and fifteen other instants plus this. You can drop this, then next turn Searing Wind someone and recur it, then do it again and kill someone, then…well, people will die quickly, that’s all we’ll say about that. If someone drafts this early you have to defend by taking all of the good instants from them.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror BreakerTimmy uses him to make another copy of your big silly beater. That’s fine! Getting in a hit with a temporary Avatar of Woe or a temporary Plated Slagwurm is a perfectly happy way to win. Obviously its use doesn’t end there. You can make an artifact creature and then fling it with Bosh or sacrifice it to Fling or what have you. You can kill off a Symbiotic Wurm to make a bunch of tokens. Another idea would be to emphasize creatures with triggered abilities, such as Nevermaker, Sphinx of Uthuun, or Dark Hatchling. There are a lot of useful synergies you’ll find.

Shifting WallAt first, this appears to be either stupidly good or stupidly stupid. Making a 1543/1543 creature is a lot of fun. While a control deck can certainly draft it to mug up the ground, the best use is in front of cards like Surestrike Trident or Grab the Reins. It definitely wants friends to unleash serious pain.

Spine of Ish SahI don’t run Desert Twister or Vindicate because sorcery removal is just too slow. I do run this. Why? All Vindicate will ever do is destroy one thing. This can destroy one thing just as well, recur to do it again, and plays very well with my big artifact theme. Wouldn’t you love to drop March of the Machines with this out? What about Bosh?

Reshape, TinkerOnce you have drafted one of these, you will begin to increase the value of artifacts as sacrifices and as tutor targets. You still can grab a Tinker when all you have is a Darksteel Colossus and three average artifacts. It has value there—but when you can shape your deck around these cards, you add a lot of power and flexibility to your deck.

You certainly can find a Johnny theme that’s not as artifact heavy as mine. While I do have other Johnny cards, like enchantment love and changelings and so forth, I have a serious artifact-friendly theme built into my Type Four stack. I think big artifacts and effects aren’t just good for Johnnies. What are the best artifacts to tutor for? Darksteel Colossus. I don’t play Blightsteel Colossus, because it kills in one hit, just like I don’t play Shivan Dragon or Frozen Shade because they kill in one hit. Sphinx of the Steel Wind. Inkwell Leviathan. They are the big artifact creatures. A Timmy or Spike can grab some artifact love just to get out or enhance their best creatures.

There are certainly more enchantment-themed cards I could play. Sigil of the Empty Throne, Enchantress’s Presence, Lurking Predators, Pollenbright Wings, Epic Proportions, Forced Fruition, Debtor’s Knell, Painful Quandary, and Baneful Omen. None of those are in my stack right now. I could add them plus Idyllic Tutor, Sterling Grove, and the like.

I choose to run one main theme because I want a lot of big creatures and a lot of big spells. If I have too many Johnny themes, it’s harder to assemble each one, and they dilute the card pool too much. That’s not my goal. My goal is for everyone to have fun when sitting down at the table to flip cards and to have fun while drafting and playing.

I have a sequel to this article in my head: How to Control Your Type Four. We can easily see how to play big strong stompy creatures and powerful kill spells like Sorin’s Vengeance and Searing Wind. What about the other side? If we have a strong Johnny/combo element to the format, shouldn’t there also be a good control element? Expect to see that sequel sometime soon.

I hope you had fun with another jaunt down Type Four Avenue. As always, it has been a pleasure and an honor.

Until later,
Abe Sargent