The Magic Show #120 – Halloween Special

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Friday, October 31st – Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week is Halloween and we’ve got a ghastly and ghoul-y show for you this week. We’re going to take a look at the frightening Standard environment as we approach States in just two weeks, take a look at the Wizards Play Network, Mike Flores’ latest video venture, and check out the Magic Halloween Top 5 Countdown. Let’s go!

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week is Halloween and we’ve got a ghastly and ghoul-y show for you this week. We’re going to take a look at the frightening Standard environment as we approach States in just two weeks, take a look at the Wizards Play Network, Mike Flores‘ latest video venture, and check out the Magic Halloween Top 5 Countdown. Let’s go!

A reward for a 35 minute extravaganza. - maxiewawa

Magic Halloween Top 5 Countdown

Okay kids, this week we’re trick & treating our way down the scary creature lane of Magic. We’ll take a look at the Top 5 Halloween creatures in Magic based on sheer numbers. Are there more Vampires, Demons, or Horrors in Magic? We’ll find out throughout the show. Let’s go ahead and tackle #5 first.

#5 – Werewolves (3)

There are a scant three Werewolves in Magic, designed and named before such creatures were generally banished from sight. The standout, if you can call it that, is from Homelands in the form of Greater Werewolf, a sort of upgraded Lesser Werewolf from Legends. Now neither of these are in any way spectacular, and I mean in any way, but just look at that creature type! Lycanthrope, baby. Man, we need more Lycanthropes in Magic. Years later it was errata’d to Human Wolf, but I’ll always think of this gem in its Lycanthropian Homelands glory. That’s right, I just made up a word.

States & the SCG $5K

So this past weekend hundreds of players showed up to battle in Richmond to help define your States metagame and it looks like it’s shaping up. As usual, Chris Woltereck once again showed them how it was done. Allow me to remind you, Chris Woltereck has now won two StarCityGames $5Ks and Alex Bertoncini, who won the last $5K and $2K, made Top 4. He didn’t play Chris, though, in what would’ve been the Battle of the $5K Winners. Either way, Chris Woltereck is the best pro who hasn’t busted out with a kick ass Pro Tour finish, but is certainly among the best Magicians on the east coast by a long shot.

Anyway, the latest Constructed talking point is that Cruel Ultimatum is Just Not Necessary. Nope. Just not needed to win with Cruel Control… even though its namesake card is really what I consider the engine of the deck.

The argument is this: Anytime you draw Cruel Ultimatum in your opening hand you’ve just mulliganed. You can’t exactly say that about, for example, Mind Shatter or Tidings. While I can see their point, I can also see how I’d like to play a spell that does pretty much both of those things and Raise Dead and Cruel Edicts my opponent.

We interrupt our discussion to tackle #4 in the Magic Top 5 Halloween Countdown.

#4 – Vampires (24)

There are exactly 24 Vampires in Magic. The most famous vampire is arguably Sengir Vampire. This guy was hot, hot stuff back in the day. A stellar finisher for five mana, he kicked ass sorts of ass and was actually seen killing people in tournament Magic around 1997-ish. He was the antithesis to Serra Angel, who looked ridic at five mana when Alpha and Beta were released, but didn’t get the +1/+1 counters that Sengir Vampire does.

The latest Vampire in Magic is Shards of Alara’s own Vein Drinker. Not the best constructed card but an absolute bomb in Limited. There haven’t been any tournament worthy vampires since Skeletal Vampire was rocking Ravnica Standard, but perhaps we’ll get some blood-drinking powerhouses in the future.

States & The $5K Results (Cont.)

On the flipside, Kithkin White Weenie, old-school style packing Ajani Goldmane, made second place. Go go small White dudes in the red zone! My favorite archetype is doing very well and is proving that Wizards of the Coast is actively listening to the complaints and is trying their best to keep white cards near the top of the heap. And as we can see with two completely different White Weenie decks made Top 8, the aforementioned Kithkin and Marsh Usary’s own Kithkin Backlash.

On down the standings we find two exact 75 mirrors in Vengeant Weenie. This deck features burn and my favorite new Planeswalker. Ajani Vengeant, on the play against Cruel Control, is nothing short of a beating. He can protect himself, the number one trait needed for a Planeswalker, and its Icy Manipulator-esque ability is absolutely crushing against control decks that rely on Vivid Lands to survive. Expect Ajani to be rocking your States this year.

Five With Flores

So Mike Flores is continuing to impact the Magic populous. Over at youtube.com/fivewithflores you can subscribe yourself to one of the best constructed minds in the world as he covers the latest decks, strategies and tips. This is Flores doing what Flores does best and it would behoove you to check it out as soon as possible.

#3 – Demon (36)

Ah, the Demon. What one would think would rank higher on the chart is much lower. The history behind the Demon creature type is far more interesting than any of the creatures who share it.

When Magic first began, there were demons everywhere. You have Lord of the Pit, you had Demonic Hordes, Demonic Tutor, and so on. Antiquities featured Yawgmoth Demon while even Legends had the underwhelming-to-say-the-least Mold Demon. (6/6 for seven that makes you sac two swamps! Getcha!)

Then after Ice Age featured such demonic cards such as Minion of Leshrac and Demonic Consultation, the demons disappeared for seven years.

Their disappearance was due to Magic’s growth and entrance into mass market America. Years ago, when Dungeons & Dragons hit it big, it too had a big problem with being labeled a ‘demonic’ game. This caused a lot of grief for Wizards of the Coast, so they hedged their bets and took the demons out of Magic.

The bad boys returned in 2002, fresh off the pop culture wave of Hellboy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Quite simply, it was cool to be a demon again.

States & The $5K Results (Cont.)

Other decks making a splash were Richard Feldman Merfolk deck hitting the Top 8, while Quillspike Combo got the dreaded 9th place position, making all of us wonder ‘is it really a deck?’ I know, the results are right in front of me, but it seems so silly to me. Don’t you just kill the Devoted Druid and the deck is just a clunky G/B Aggro concoction? I mean, it’s got Kitchen Finks and Garruk Wildspeaker and all, but I don’t think that’s enough. Remember kids: Just Kill The Stupid Devoted Druid. It lets them get off Turn 3 Primal Commands if they’re really feeling adventurous as well as, of course, getting Quillspike up to ridiculous levels and then killing you with it. Better yet, with a deck packing no less than four Profane Commands, you might want to Bant Charm that Devoted Druid instead. Yeesh.

The other big archetype that can’t be ignored is Reveillark. This innocuous little 4/3 Elemental has been a royal pain in the ass for going on eight months now. The reason it’s so annoying is the fact that Wizards put “When Reveillark leaves play” rather than “When Reveillark goes to the graveyard.” This means that no matter what you do to this guy, whether you Wrath of God, Bant Charm, bounce it with Cryptic Command, whatever, your opponent is going to get the option to return two two-or-less power creatures from their graveyard to play. This is exacerbated by creatures like Gaddock Teeg, Doran the Explorer, and a new entry in one of the top lists, Doomed Necromancer. The Necromancer is particularly nasty against Cruel Control, as card advantage is usually the only way that deck can win.

But what about the #2 in the Magic Top 5 Halloween Countdown?

#2 – Horror (96)

In our number two spot we have Horrors. Now Horror was a name that was generally used as Magic moved away from the ‘Demon’ creature type and name moniker as it had been used up to the release of Ice Age. It was the sort of ‘friendlier’ epithet that kept those worried over ‘them Magic cards makin us kids into devil worshipers’ sleeping better at night.

Regardless, the Horror creature type has its share of hits. Greater Harvester is a wonderfully powerful finisher that holds a dear place in my heart due to the power of Mono Black Control when it had such monsters as Death Cloud and Kokusho, the Evening Star backing it up. Arguably the best known horror is Phyrexian Negator, a creature that won about a hojillion tournaments back in the day when you could run that bad boy out on Turn 1 thanks to Dark Ritual. Magic has since figured out that three mana of any color on Turn 1 for a single card is generally bad and breaks the game in unfair ways. So while this guy is generally regulated to Legacy and Vintage play, he still gets plenty of licks in.

Lastly, Horrors get some insanely sweet artwork. Take a look at Gleancrawler, Void Maw, and Boneshard Slasher. Ah, there’s a lot to be said for those abominations of space and time. But I don’t know if ‘pretty’ is one of them.

Wizards Play Network Foil Action!

So the Gateway program is dead, but the Wizards Play Network lives on. This is the new play program that can be instituted by anyone from card shops to those at home who wish to involve themselves and have a public place for players to gather. Anyway, the new foils associated with the program have been released and boy and they gorgeous. Two of the most powerful uncommons from Shards of Alara are now in sweet alternate artwork versions. Check out the new Sprouting Thrinax. While it greatly differs from the original, it still has a very cool reptile/dinosaur theme.

But the real gem is Woolly Thoctar. Wow! That artwork is just out of this world. This is a foil I could see reaching ridiculous prices as Extended season heats up next year. So for those who have the ability to participate, I would suggest you do so.

States & The $5K Results (Cont.)

Finishing up your SCG $5K rundown, in the 14th and 15th place showings we got two Elves decks that do very different things. One is your average Elf deck with Thoughtseize, Chameleon Colossus, Imperious Perfect, and so on. Its ace in the hole is Bitterblossom, a card that should be able to grind out the best Control decks while keeping Faeries evenly matched. The second Elf deck went in a different direction featuring no less than four Bramblewood Paragons. This is a dork who makes all of your other dorks better, including other copies of itself. I don’t know if it puts on the same pressure as Bitterblossom, but providing Trample in this token-rich environment is nothing to scoff at. Chameleon Colossus with +1/+1 counter and trample is just the sickest.

So what does this mean for your States deck? It means you have plenty of options and lots of room to grow. We still haven’t covered rogue decks like Tokens featuring Sarkhan Vol and Siege-Gang Commander, the mono blue Sanity Grind deck, or the incredible power of Elspeth, Knight-Errant. We’ll cover what I’m playing at States and what the metagame breakdown looks like next week.

How about we wrap up our Magic Halloween Top 5 Countdown with #1? Okay, you asked for it…

The number one Magic Halloween creature type is…

#1 Zombies (199)

Zombies, by a country mile, holds the top spot amongst the Magic Halloween Top 5 Countdown. Zombies have been in the game ever since its inception and over time they’ve gotten more and more synergistic and powerful. Just last year at Worlds in New York City an iPod was won in a Legacy tournament by a Zombie deck. Laugh at Lord of the Undead all you want, but just like in the movies, they keep coming back.

Alpha originally had only one Zombie, and it’s one of the few illustrious cards that have been reprinted in every Core Set since the game began: Scathe Zombies, while being ‘just’ a three mana 2/2, began a long and illustrious career for the Zombie creature type. Hell, if you count errata, you’ll notice that Alpha actually had two Zombies: Scathe Zombies and now Scavenging Ghoul. Sure it was a Ghoul for years and years, but what’s a little errata between undead friends?

And that’s the list of the Magic Halloween Top 5. I hope you enjoyed our rundown of the scariest, creepiest creature types in Magic and we’ll see you again in seven days as we stare down the barrel of States.

So until next time Magic players this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards… so you don’t have to.

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubs dubs dubs dot misterorangeproductions dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com

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