The Magic Show #65 – A Brave New World

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Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re returning to our roots by inspecting the new Lorwyn Standard landscape, and we’re also detailing what may or may not occur in Valencia at the Pro Tour I’m attending. Did I also mention that Cap’n Tickles is due for a new mana cost? Let’s go!

Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re returning to our roots by inspecting the new Lorwyn Standard landscape, and we’re also detailing what may or may not occur in Valencia at the Pro Tour I’m attending. Did I also mention that Cap’n Tickles is due for a new mana cost? Let’s go!

A New (Lorwyn) Standard

Okay everybody, Lorwyn has been with us for a week or so, and it’s time to inspect the winners and losers so far. I’ll also debut a few new decklists under development to get you started on your way to States.

First up is the realization that yes, Tarmogoyf is the best creature ever printed. Seriously. Yes, it’s better than that one (Morphling). It’s even better than Dr. Teeth. Yes, it’s better than Quirion Dryad, and if Vintage were less of a play-seven-spells-a-turn format, you’d see Tarmogoyf ruling that format too.

Forty bucks. That’s how much a single Tarmogoyf is. Do you know how much a foil Japanese one is? You can get one today for the low-low price of $150 bucks.

I really don’t know what else to say about it. It is such a warping card that every strategy, every card I mention today must mention how it interacts with this card.

A friend of mine out of the game asked me why it was so good. The argument for those who haven’t seen it in action is “It dies to everything.” The problem is, if you don’t have that thing it dies to in your hand, you die. And quickly. Psychatog generally had to get in a few swipes as a 1/2 before he could finish you off. The Goyf, of course, hits 5/6 and even 7/8 faster than you think. Tarfire is not just a solid Goblin card, it’s the best Tarmogoyf enabler I’ve ever seen. Killing another creature not only removes a blocker but pumps Goyf +3/+3. There is no other creature with such insane synergy. He is incredible just because you play Magic.

Okay, so he’s insane. If you don’t have your set, prepare to cry as you attempt to get the accompanying set of Thoughtseize. There was a time when playing competitively meant you had to sink some cash into Legendary Dragons, a Legendary Moonfolk and copies of a broken Legendary Artifact. Then came the days of $200 manabases. Now comes the $40 card you can’t live without, and its new cousin, Cashseize.

Having actually played with Cashseize, I can tell you right now there is no card that is more punishing to mulligans. You know how sometimes you go to five and can pull it out because you have a Forest, Llanowar Elf and Troll Ascetic? Thoughtseize is a kick in the junk to that plan as it denies you any hope of seeing any creature beyond a single mana.

A better way to think of it is this: You would pay a Black mana and two life to kill Troll Ascetic every day of the week. Thoughtseize takes care of this on turn 1 and with no additional mana investment. They’re currently at $25 a piece, and they were $20 the week before that. By the time States rolls around I can assure you they’ll be skirting the $30+ mark. If you don’t want to buy a copy of this card, then you best be prepared to play around it and/or not mulligan a lot.

I, like many of you, am trying to figure out exactly why this spell is rare. Maybe because it’s so damn good you don’t want it junking up Limited events, but at the same time, Wizards R&D aren’t stupid. They know a must-have spell when they make one, particularly a Super Duress like this. What happened? One of two things: Either they thought it was bad for Limited, and we all groan and say we would’ve dealt with such realities, or it was strictly a business decision and we’re all paying for it.

I hear from budget players all of the time, and as much as Wizards tries to push tournament play, sticking spells like Thoughtseize into the rare slot is the last thing that’s helping. Do I understand spells like Tarmogoyf being rare? Sure, the guy is format warping and incredibly powerful. He makes cracking Future Sight packs worth it. He would be silly in an uncommon or common slot. It’s the very definition of Chase Rare. But Cashseize? Hrmph. It makes me all grumpy.

Moving on to more positive things, how about a decklist? You know, a few nights ago I was brainstorming with my buddy Joe and we were discussing Elementals. Particularly Smokebraider. I was intrigued firstly because William Spaniel got an absolutely silly Sealed deck and demolished his 32-person flight. And that’s cool, but remember how Pickles got started? Brian David-Marshall drafted Vesuvan Shapeshifter and Brine Elemental and the rest is Time Spiral Block history.

So let’s look at Elementals and see if we can pick up this deck and run with it.

The two reasons this deck is amazing is knowing how good Smokebraider is and that Shriekmaw is an Elemental. Yes, I’m late to the Shriekmaw Is Awesome party begun by Patrick Chapin, but yeah, the guy is nuts. If you don’t have a set, you better pick them up soon. It looks to me like Shriek is the real deal and could be this set’s Remand or Lightning Helix. Expect him to be mighty popular in the coming months as it deals with Goyf quite handily.

That said, how does this play? Right now this can simply explode on turn 3 with a Changeling Berserker smashing in for five with the bonus of tutoring another Elemental when it dies if you Championed a Flamekin Harbinger. You can also get the turn 4 Hostility draw with a single Smokebraider, and speaking of Smokebraider, it does a hell of a job pumping up Lightning Serpents to legitimately scary levels.

Featuring four of Jackal Pup 2.0, you can imagine that this deck is simply meant to win, and do so as fast as possible. Molten Disaster is for those last few points, something this deck seems to have a few issues with now and then.

Take a look at the raw speed in this deck. Turn 1 Jackal Pup, Turn 2 Smokebraider, Turn 3 Changeling Berserker or a Harbinger finding Hostility into a Turn 4 Hostility. Then you Incinerate them next turn and get triplet 3/1s and kill them. Sounds easy enough, right? That’s exactly how it plays.

I have a sideboard thrown together for various purposes. Cruel Edict is for Troll Ascetic and accompanying pals, Fortune Thief and Rough/Tumble is for the Kithkin lovers in all of us, but be careful of Oblivion Ring on the ‘Thief. While Cryoclasm, Manabarbs, and the singleton Chandra are for the slow control decks.

It’s really sad that no matter how cool the Kithkin are a single Pyroclasm seems to spell doom for them. Surge of Thoughtweft, are you really playable in Constructed?

Valencia Incoming!

Oh man, I’m still in shock about getting to play in the Pro Tour. I know there were plenty bitching about this fact to begin with, but I assure you no one was more shocked than I was. So now I’m eligible, I’m definitely going, and I’ve got to pick a deck.

The question is, why share the deck I’m planning on bringing? The problem with this ‘Tour is that we don’t get to use any Lorwyn cards. Now I understand why this was done, as Wizards wants you, the PTQer at heart, to try your best to mold the format. But this is flawed, I believe, for two reasons. One, it almost completely invalidates any testing done by Pros for the format. Lorwyn is an incredibly impacting set with the inclusion of Thoughtseize alone, never mind the other incredible cards we’ve yet to fully utilize. Second, it means we’ll see even less of what people plan on bringing because secrecy is even better in this situation. We saw the evolution of the format last winter as people were battling it out with Trinket Mages and whatnot, and this could be furthered at Valencia via new tech like Riptide Laboratory.

So, should I share? Let’s. Why? Because no “real pros” give a damn about what I’m bringing anyway, and who got me there in the first place? You guys. So let’s delve into my current build of Gaea’s Might Get There.

Now this features a manabase via Raphael Levy and a few tweaks from myself. Primarily the two Mogg Fanatic are in there so I don’t auto-scoop to Dredge Game 1, at least, I have a slight chance not to scoop Game 1, and the sideboard will probably feature a complement of Leyline of the Void just in case.

I also upped the count to a full four Lightning Helix, as the lifegain matters quite a bit, particularly as I see myself playing a few mirror matches as the day goes on.

Third, I’m taking a page from the Feldman book by including Reckless Charge in here, which has been, for the most part, completely ridiculous. Man, dropping a 5/6 Goyf and then Charging in for eight damage is just so delicious, I tell you.

A few reasons why I chose this deck: The first is, I’ll be brutally honest with you, is that this deck needs the least amount of preparation. I can only imagine how painful it would be trying to test a Psychatog variant on my schedule, and I’m not going to try. At least I know I can adequately pilot this deck and not misplay two or three times per turn.

Next is I like it a lot better than the “Dark Boros” or “Dark Zoo” builds that have been floating around. I’ve tried the Dark Confidant-driven build with Mogg Fanatics and Sensei’s Divining Tops and I thought it just stunk. Maybe it’s me.

I wish I could give you a more detailed analysis of the deck other than it plays scary creatures and wins, but that’s pretty much what it does. As for the actual ‘Tour itself, I’m more psyched about meeting all of the big names there, including our own editor Craig Stevenson, than I am in actually playing in it. Call me crazy, but I’m a culture junkie. This will be hog heaven for me, and should be nothing but good things for next week’s show. [Sadly, I didn’t make it to Valencia… damn lost passports. Yes I’m gutted, thanks for asking. – Craig.]

You Make The Invitational Card – Part 7 (Final)

Okay everybody, it’s down to this: The mana cost. The mana cost on the original card submitted by AlexM is simply undoable. Everybody knows the first thing Wizards is going to do is change that cost to something more reasonable, and hell, didn’t we spend an entire week deciding that we wanted hybrid mana, only to vote for the card without it?

So now’s the time to right the wrong. I present to you some solid choices on Cap’n Tickles mana cost along with some sweet new artwork by Brendan Hickey. Don’t I look, ah… gnarly? Anyway, here are your choices:

Mana Cost #1: GW(G/W)
Mana Cost #2: GG(G/W)
Mana Cost #3: GR(G/R)
Mana Cost #4: RR(G/R)
Mana Cost #5: G(G/R)(G/R)
Mana Cost #6: 1G(G/R)(G/R)

All right Magic players, let’s give the Cap’n a decent cost so it isn’t immediately changed.

I’d like to take the time to thank all of you once again for this opportunity. I know that some shrugged off the Invitational in search of Player of the Year awards, but this is certainly my reward and then some for the hard work I’ve put in over the past year. As you watch this I’ll be in Spain slinging cards with the best in the world, and I couldn’t have done it without you. I really appreciate it.

So get your ass over to MagicTheGathering.com and check out the coverage. I’m sure I’ll be in there somewhere. Until next time Magic players, this is Pro Tour competitor Evan Erwin tapping the cards so you don’t have to.

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
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Written on October 7th because I gotta trip across the ocean to get to…

Music Credits:
Title – “Starlight” by Muse
Lorywn Standard – “Joy” by Scanners
Valencia Bound – “Nice Dream” by Radiohead
Gaea’s Might Get There Decklist – “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John
Cap’n Tickles – “What A Wonderful Man” by My Morning Jacket