“Mom, I’m scared. I saw a Groffskithur under the T.V.!” – Anand Khare
Most Magic players remind me of Groffskithur. We are all still reliving elementary school recess, trying not to be picked last for the kickball team.
In the past three weeks, I have been in three different countries hanging out with all sorts of people, and while I haven’t come to any sort of grand conclusion about life, I find that I am pretty happy with how it all turned out.
I want to let everybody know that the Hobart House has a newly functional non-flying toilet. We are still trying to get the water damage repaired, but for now the situation is very livable. Thank you to all of those who offered their sympathy and concern over this matter.
For eleven months out of the year, I stay nestled within the confines of Hobart House only venturing out for the occasional Pro Tour or Grand Prix event. During this time I continually attempt to convince my fellow CMU-Togit teammates to make the trip down to Pittsburgh. After I trick them into making the trek down to the Steel City, they want me to come to their neighborhood.
Finally, when Winter Break started for University of Pittsburgh, I headed out to New Jersey to test with the Togit guys. Then after about a week there, Eugene and I headed up to Toronto to work with Gary Wise and the Torontonians. I had a great time on both of these trips, and they allowed me to practice a good amount. After I returned to Pittsburgh, I helped get Rachel ready to move to Seattle. On the first Friday in January we went out to Seattle. In the first weekend out there, we went and got her a new car and fully furnished her new apartment with tons of help from Randy Buehler and Del Laugel. From Seattle, I came back to Pittsburgh for a little under a day, before getting on another plane and heading to Amsterdam for the Pro Tour.
Summarizing my last three weeks of traveling into one little paragraph was fun. I have been looking for a story as entertaining as the Raining Porcelain Gods, but such stories do not come easily.
Around the time of my last article Laura Mills posted a well-written article about Zen and the Art of Ignoring Luck. Feeling a little silly, I posted a short post in the forums (First!) where I say”Luck stinks!” at the beginning of my post. From that point I went on a seven match-losing streak on Magic Online. I lost in every way imaginable. Perhaps that doesn’t sound so bad, but for me it was a wake up call. After unsuccessfully attempting to edit my post to delete the little quip, I found myself in a bind.
Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it. My seven match-losing streak would lead me to go looking for inspiration. I needed some way to start winning again. I found inspiration in the least likely of places, the mind of Nate Heiss.
Our mailing list was relatively quiet leading up to the Pro Tour, but Nate was very vocal about low land counts in Mirrodin draft. He first discovered this by playing Magic Online and soon we were getting e-mails like such:
I have run 13 lands. It is scary but you still smash
thier face. The key is that you are able to keep 1
land hands lots of times because you have 10 one drops
in your deck.
Ok, now I’m getting a little scared. I won another 2
drafts today with the spellbomb strategy.
The first one was a 9-5. The finals of the draft
entailed hit Steel Wall with Longbow facing down my
Steel Wall and Wall of Blood…with a Longbow. I had
the wall advantage and won. The first game there were
5 walls in play. Very funny stuff. I had 14 lands, a
myr and a talisman. I had five off color spellbombs.
I drafted it again at the O and won again. I only had
one off color spellbomb, but I also had a chromatic
sphere and a scrabbing claws. 14 Land, 9 1 drops and a
The important cards in this deck seem to be Nuerok
Hoversail, Wall of Blood, sometimes Steel Wall,
evasion guys, and some removal.
Pretty much you want to have a really good 14 card
deck, and then fill the rest with this janky stuff.
There were a bunch of e-mails talking about this kind of deck. I was down on my luck, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.
I remembered the Tempest pre-release where Aaron Forsythe opponent was bitterly complaining about being mana screwed. When I asked him how many lands he was playing, he replied that he had thirteen lands and two Lotus Petals. I remember chuckling about that afterwards since everyone knew that you had to play at least seventeen land in Limited.
Now, I was that noob from the Tempest pre-release playing fourteen lands in decks that seemed as if they needed at least sixteen lands. You know what? Nate was onto something. All of a sudden I was crushing hopes and dreams in the 4-3-2-2 queues… would I dare work my way up to 9-5?
Well, I never actually left the 9-5 queues for the 4-3-2-2 ones, but I did start winning and winning and winning. Disciple of the Vault quickly became my favorite Limited card. My tune about draft completely changed. Instead of it being okay to play a little land heavy, so that Equipment could be moved easily, I was cutting land from every deck. When people asked me for advice about their decks I would always respond,”You have too much land.””I have sixteen”, they would cry!”Too much! Too much! Too much! Out with the land and in with the Spellbombs!”
Mirrodin comes down to drawing the last spell or having the biggest bomb. The format doesn’t have that many bombs and even less card advantage. So more often than not, the person who draws the last spell wins. The easiest way to draw the last spell is to have more spells in your deck.
The other way is card advantage. Viridian Longbow provides the necessary card advantage that wins games. For every three mana and a creature that you control, the Longbow provides you a Prodigal Sorcerer. One-toughness creatures fall in seconds, two toughness creatures don’t live much longer, and three toughness creatures start falling right around the mid-game. The Longbow cleans up your opponent’s side in no time.
After playing sixteen rounds in Amsterdam, I am not even convinced that Bonesplitter is better than the Longbow. I don’t care what Geordie Tait says, I know the Viridian Longbow gives me card advantage, and plenty of it.
The Longbow single-handedly shuts down Blue-Black style Affinity decks. All of those pesky Nim Lashers, Nim Shriekers, and Nim Shamblers roll over to the power of the Longbow. Somber Hoverguard and Neurok Spy fare just slightly better. The Longbow is the only Equipment that can kill a Spikeshot Goblin and the rest of Red’s common creatures as well. Tel-Jilad Chosen are dealt with like a common Elf Warrior and Raise the Alarm will ring no bells.
Here is my common Equipment ordering for Mirrodin.
In White, Blue, and Green the Longbow provides creature kill that is desperately needed. Besides Arrest, these three colors combined have zero creature control. At best, you can smash artifact creatures but at worst you roll over and die to Spikeshot Goblin.
The best-case scenario for Vulshok Gauntlets is when it is equipped onto a Leonin Den-Guard. The Den-Guard becomes a 6/6 monster that controls the ground game. I would be shocked if Ken thinks of a better scenario than this one, so I am going to do a close analysis of the Gauntlets scenario versus the same scenario with a Viridian Longbow.
Turn One: Plains
Turn Four: Plains, Equip, Attack for 6
Total Damage Dealt in First Four Turns: 7
Turn Three: Plains, Equip, Attack for 2, Shoot for 1
Turn Four: Plains, Cast Something Else, Attack for 2, Shoot for 1
Total Damage Dealt in First Four Turns: 6
I have just realized that Ken switched from the Gauntlets to the Scimitar for the dilemma but I am still going to finish talking about this scenario and the comparison between the Longbow and the Gauntlets.
Even in this scenario the Longbow doesn’t fall that short. I think this is very impressive, because of the fact that I picked the ideal scenario for the Gauntlets. The Longbow has only dealt one less damage over the first four turns of the game, while fitting much better into the mana curve of the game. While the Gauntlets do pick up steam dealing six a turn for the rest of the game, this is counteracted by the Longbow’s ability to kill creatures, making it harder for evasion creatures to beat you in a damage race.
It is nice that the Leonin Scimitar is so cheap to equip, but its effect is less than stellar. The +1/+1 provides a nice bonus, but it is debatable if that the bonus is always worth an entire card. It is great that Equipment sticks around when your creatures die unlike enchantments, but Equipment hasn’t fixed the other problem that enchantments were known for. If you don’t have any creatures to equip, then your Equipment doesn’t do anything!
This is an especially troublesome problem for non-White decks. Too often your Equipment ends up hanging out with your other Equipment at what is known as an”Equipment party.” Your Bonesplitter is chatting about the weather with your Leonin Scimitar in the upper right hand corner of your playmat, because they have nothing else to do. Therefore, it is essential when using Equipment that your Equipment are good enough that they make up for their time partying.
Viridian Longbow likes to party, but when it gets down to business your opponent’s creatures all die. The Scimitar, however, rarely has a game breaking effect. The Scimitar will continue to go down in value as Darksteel offers Vulshok Morningstar as a better option, and Unforge to punish the mediocre Equipment.
In the Top 8 video commentary covering my match, Marco Blume discusses the power of the Longbow. All of the Pros have discovered how the Longbow wins games. Over the course of the weekend, I went from getting the Longbow sixth or seventh to having to take it first or second. The Viridian Longbow’s rise in value is no coincidence. It is at least the second best common Equipment in Mirrodin.
One last thing before I end the article, in the draft five coverage of Pro Tour Amsterdam, I was quoted as saying”I let him bounce Consume Spirits off of me – I don’t even like that card.” Of course last month, I was saying Consume Spirit is better than Pewter Golem. Well, I ended up not liking either of the cards. They are both too expensive for what you are getting. I did like Consume Spirit better, but that was before my decks rarely had more than fifteen land in them, now I think they both are very mediocre.