The Magic Show #94 – Hits & Misses

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Friday, May 2nd – Next week is the StarCityGames $13,000 Tournament Weekend and you need to be prepared. It will be Shadowmoor legal and the new cards will be in hot demand. Today we’ll be discussing the new Wizards Play Network organized play program, a quick rundown of the Shadowmoor Hits and Misses, and a shiny new deck with a mondo combo so awesome it may just win tournaments. Let’s go!

Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. Yes, we’ve left our punny titles behind and it’s time to get a little serious. Next week is the StarCityGames $13,000 Tournament Weekend and you need to be prepared. It will be Shadowmoor legal and the new cards will be in hot demand. Today we’ll be discussing the new Wizards Play Network organized play program, a quick rundown of the Shadowmoor Hits and Misses, and a shiny new deck with a mondo combo so awesome it may just win tournaments. Let’s go!

Organized Replay

Okay, so a few weeks ago at the GAMA trade show in Las Vegas, Wizards of the Coast announced their latest organized play brainchild, the Wizards Play Network. This represents a huge sea change for a company that has been pushing Grand Prixs and Pro Tours for so long they wouldn’t know an EDH deck if it hit em upside the head.

But no longer! Now they not only recognize Elder Dragon Highlander as an awesome format, but it sounds like they’re willing to sanction it too!

Yes, you too can sanction your multiplayer shenanigans and get people in your group special foils out of it.

But of course, no program could be ‘merely’ for Magic. That would be absurd, of course, in our all-knowing-all-seeing Facebookian world. Nope, this will traverse many games, though what those are I can’t tell you, and this will eventually be integrated with Gleemax. Gleemax, if you’ve forgotten, is MySpace Nerd Edition and hopes to connect nerds with other nerds in a matrix of nerdocity. Together we nerds can form nerd clusters and fight other nerd hordes in nerdly combat… okay, sorry, getting off track here.

The ultimate goal appears to be you and your buddies play some serious multiplayer action, you then distribute the prizes and collect DCI numbers, then report on your tournament and/or get-together on Gleemax.com so others can see how much nerd ass you and your buddies kicked.

However, as cool as this may or may not be, there is one word that is missing from this announcement.

And that word is States. Yes, I’m still bitter about losing it. And no, I’m not going to stop harping about it. Allow me to quote directly from Jesse Decker, the current Head of Organized Play via Brian David-Marshall article on this subject:

“We made the changes that we made at the beginning of this year because we felt that the pendulum had swung in one direction and we wanted to free up resources to devote to the other direction. But we have made those changes and we are committed to the course we are on right now. I think that both levels are going to be properly supported.”

This is corporate double-speak that basically explains nothing but subtly communicates that those who really enjoyed States are screwed. Yup, States as we know it is not only dead, it’s long gone. No more. Not to return until we riot in the streets or something, which you and I both know won’t happen.

To be completely clear, I’m not asking for “Champs” back. I don’t know whose stupid idea it was to split Champs into three different titles – Standard, Limited, and Two-Headed Giant, but I think we can thank them for States not returning. “We can’t just return the Standard portion” I imagine them saying. Yes, you can. This is ridiculous. I still contend that States was not a losing venture. 3% of players or no, the Standard States tournaments I attended had well over 100 people at each event.

Simply put, the loss of States actively makes me less interested in Magic. Yes, really. Yes, I know it’s ‘petty,’ but it was a tournament amongst your peers – the peers in your just your region, in fact – and allowed you to carry the title of State Champion. There is something important about that, and I can only hope that WotC wakes up and recognizes it.

The other minor hit from this is that the textless foil Mutavault, you know the one, encrusted with the hopes and dreams of Magic players everywhere, is officially ridiculously rare. We can only hope that at some point WotC comes to their senses, gives us a Standard States tournament, and doesn’t keep those foil, textless Mutavaults just for themselves.

Shadowmoor Hits & Misses

Man, allow me to give you some advice: Whenever you’re making a video podcast for ten thousand Magic players, be careful what you hype. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that Wort, the Raidmother was “Certified Awesome,” or how “truly kick ass” Dream Salvage is.

This is me, rolling my eyes.

My whole point in the exercise of predicting would-be powerful cards is trying to guess which cards are more than meets the eye, and which are just Go-Bots. To, uh, stretch a metaphor. The fact is, Tarmogoyf snuck up on everybody. Tarmogoyf was a pass out during Future Sight Prerelease drafts. He was a buck or two for weeks until the world woke up to the best two-mana creature ever printed. This meant legendary tales of players buying three dozen Tarmogoyfs for a piece of moldy bread and a mint Sorrow’s Path, while the rest of us kicked our own ass for waiting until they reached double digits to get our set. It’s this kind of oversight that my wild speculation is hoping to avoid. While the cards I highlighted may be the stains, in today’s Tier 2 metagame, anything is possible. Right?

Anyway, this actually segues directly into the deck I want to discuss today. This deck utilizes what I think is the two most underrated rares in Shadowmoor: Twilight Shepherd and her bestest buddy, Heartmender.

Firstly, what in the hell is up with Heartmender’s artwork. I love Rebecca Guay, but she should stick to painting herself on every card. Keep her far, far away from the fantasy animals. This sorta looks like that ape from Lion King mated with… well… the Lion King.

Anyway, Heartmender is like the Epochrasite you always wanted. Not only is it a 2-for-1, guaranteed, as they need two ways to deal damage to it, consecutively, before your next turn, but it doesn’t leave play the first time it dies. Persist is quite the incredible mechanic, but of course this trifecta of awesome wouldn’t be complete without Hell’s Kitchen Finks. Loxodon Hierarch is back and a 3/2 is nothing to scoff at for a mere three mana. There is a lot of joy in trading with Keldon Marauders and then playing Heartmender to remove that -1/-1 counter or, usually, get that burn spell out of their hand.

So how about that decklist?

All right, so that’s the goodness, but how does it work? I mean, just what in the hell does Patrician’s Scorn do again?

Let me just give you the nut draw, and we’ll go from there.

You open with, I don’t know, Wooded Bastion, and pass.

You then play Reflecting Pool, giving you all the mana you need. You’ll probably Condemn something at this point as well.

Next turn you play Kitchen Finks. The following turn you play Heartmender. The next turn you play Enchanted Evening while your opponent tapped out for something and then, for free, at instant speed, you destroy every permanent on the board with Patrician’s Scorn. [I presume you’re still playing lands each turn… the video isn’t clear here — Craig, amused.]

Yes, every permanent. At instant speed. This is like the Jokulhaups you always wanted. But not only do you destroy every permanent, including Enchantments and Planeswalkers, but your guys come back.

Now other variations of this ‘nut draw’ include playing Twilight Shepherd before the Enchanted Evening combo, but in reality all you need is Heartmender on the board and some way to assure it won’t be killed in response to Patrician’s Scorn. Heartmender and Kitchen Finks left by themselves on the board is game over, and many times, if your opponent is tapped out and you’ve got Twilight Shepherd out, you can simply pay seven mana to blow up the world with Glittering Wish into Enchanted Evening into Patrician’s Scorn, return all of your other permanents you just blew up to your hand, and start again.

Now, is this good enough for the Pro Tour? I don’t know. Aflac combo is incredibly strong, and I’m not sure four Wheel of Sun and Moon are enough to stop it. However, seeing as every deck is gunning for the Swan Combo deck and not this one, and that’s obviously a plus.

I have been testing this and it performs incredibly well against aggro and big mana decks. It’s still an idea that needs work and has went through many iterations so far. I’ve tried to shoehorn other Persist creatures into it, such as Murderous Redcap, but they just don’t work. Oblivion Ring seems to fit better than something like Safehold Elite which is strictly underwhelming when you can’t find that Heartmender you desperately need.

The sideboard offers a wealth of interesting options. The most obvious of those is Teferi’s Moat. Thanks to our diverse mana base with playsets of Gemstone Mine and Coalition Relic you have few problems playing this and it’s game over against many decks such as Mono Red. Fracturing Gust is the card to wish for when you really want to blow them out after Twilight Shepherd and Enchanted Evening are on the board, while other utility cards like Dawnglow Infusion are important to Glittering Wish for after you’ve stabilized against an aggressive deck.

So that’s the deck. Let me know what you think, as perhaps I’m missing something that only you can detail.

To wrap up this segment, I’d like to discuss the nicknaming that has been going on recently. Nicknames are a personal thing, and they’re personal to everyone who uses them. I share mine, because they’re partly non sequitur, partly in-joke, and partly just observation. No one is forced to adhere to nicknames, and many choose not to.

However, that doesn’t stop the power of Cap’n Tickles, Lt. Brocollihead, and now Nom Nom, Big Perm, Aflac, and Hell’s Kitchen Finks from infiltrating the Magic Show lingo. For example, I could’ve focused on other nicknames. Such as the Burrenton Cragtreads, who, as we all originally mispronounced them, are the Burrenton Crackheads. They mean well. They really do.

Others will develop as cards get more popular, and that’s a great thing. As I’ve said many times, it is the culture of Magic that most interests me, and our nicknames, lingo, and slang are part of what makes us a community.

I was going to create a segment this week on Magic Online 3.0, but Craig Stevenson already wrote a brilliant article on its shortcomings and, well, I’d kinda feel bad picking on them for it right now. I’ll give them another week of bugfixes before we unleash the horde of judgment and detail just what is going on with the digital version of our cardboard addiction. Needless to say, it isn’t pretty right now.

Until next time everybody, this is 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
Written while editing artist interviews…

Music Credits:
Title: “Publish My Love” by Rogue Wave
Bumpers: “The Perfect Me” by Deerhoof
Decklist:”Violet Hill” by Coldplay
Credits: “Are You On My Side?” by Rogue Wave