The Online Outlook #9 — Prank Trading

In today’s Online Outlook, I confess my own guilty little secret… don’t worry, it’s nothing too salacious — we’re still a family friendly site. I also take a look at the smorgasbord that is the Magic Online Standard Metagame, and posit the theory that it’s possible to have both a well-defined and diverse metagame at the same time…

I’ve got a guilty secret… I’m not a nice person.

Why? Because I’m a Prank Trader.

My current favorite game involves messing with people’s minds while trading Magic cards.

It was quite innocuous, at first. I’d be leafing through the binder of a happy moon-faced PTQ regular, a binder

that’s packed with tournament and “casual” rares, and I’d spy a Goblin Game. Or a Pale Moon.

Straight as you like, I’d point to it and say…

“Is this for trade?”

Man, how their little face would light up with a predator’s glee.

Most would cover it, keeping a straight face, but we all know our heart begins to race in times such as these. The

eyes always give it up.

“Yeah, that’s for trade,” they’d begin, palms sweating, before I’d cut them off with a

jeering “Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!” Then they’d smile, and we’d do some real trading.

Thing is, I couldn’t get enough.

I’d pull this stunt in every trade I made. I was a vampire, feeding off their desire to offload bulk rares for

my shiny painlands. It was glorious.

I’d open a binder, and pull the “aaaah” trick once, twice, three times in the same trade. I once

duped Stewart Shinkins twice in a minute with the same copy of Bomb Squad. I’d keep it up, laughing every time,

until people got bored and walked away. I’d stand there, quivering with laughter, tears down my face. Beautiful.

Naturally, folk in my local scene got wise to me soon enough.

“Is this Mudhole for trade?”
“No Craig, I’m keeping that one.”

They began cutting me off. Naturally I responded by upping my pace.

“IsthisgoblingamefortraAAAAAAAAAAH!” I’d blurt, before they could respond. Eventually, people

wouldn’t want to trade with me because I’d simply open their binders, point at their junk rares, and say


It was no fun any more… so I adapted.

I’d start pointing to good cards.

“Is this Shadowmage Infiltrator for trade?”
“Yeah, it’s my fifth, I’ve been lucky-“

How I’d laugh at their confusion.

Next, I’d slow roll it.

“Wow, that was a hard-fought Round 1. Good Games! Got any trades?”
“Sure,” my opponent would say, producing his binder.
“Wow, is this Silver Seraph for trade?”

Cue the shiny eyes.

“Yeah, it’s for trade.”
“Okay, I’m gonna grab a bite, but I’ll hook up with you later for trading. Save it for

“Sure thing!”

And then of course, when the Top 8 was announced…

“Hey, have you still got that Seraph?”
“Yeah, I’ll just get my bind-“

When I bored of the “aaaaah” game, I’d try other strange tricks.

“Is this Hypnotic Specter for trade?”
“Cool, will you trade it for this Wrath of God?” I’d ask, pointing to the Wrath of God sat next to

the Hypnotic Specter in the victim’s binder.
“Erm…” he’d say, confused as I was trying to trade one of his cards for another of

his cards.

While he was still bewildered, I’d swap the two cards around with a smile, and walk away.

“I collect angels,” one victim might say. “Do you have any for trade?”
“Sure,” I’d reply, and I’d spend ten torturous minutes leafing leisurely through my trades

searching for them, only to hand him a battered Mistform Ultimus. Or sometimes I’d be really weird, and

hand him something like a White-bordered Stone Rain without offering any explanation.

I shouldn’t say this, but I urge you to try it. Not to little kids, mind… just to those tourney-savvy

guys who know the values of the cards they own, the ones that you know would fleece you in an instant, given the

chance. Hand ‘em your foil Chrome Moxes, and pretend to be interested in their Deadapults. Believe me,

there’s nothing sweeter.

Nowadays, I don’t do much trading. I don’t get the opportunity — strange, that — and my card

collection is a shambling mound of horror so chaotic it Makes Trophies Of Mortal Men.

However, I’m hoping to start Prank Trading on Magic Online soon… I need my fix.

Moving swiftly on to the Magic Online Standard Metagame, I’ve three Top 8s for you today. While there have been

many more since we last looked at such things, I’ve chosen three of the most recent tournaments as a way of

highlighting the most timely and relevant results. If you guys think you need more, shout out in the forums and

I’ll see what I can do.

#956768 – Standard 2x – 28th April – 34 players

1 — Dralnu du Louvre
2 — Rakdos Aggro
3 — W/B Discard Weenie (Panda Connection)
4 — W/B Discard Weenie (Panda Connection)
5 — Solar Flare
6 — Dragonstorm
7 — Angelfire
8 — Gruul with Stormbind after boarding

All three of the Top 8 lists this week are diverse, which is good to see. I mean, having all eight deck the same

archetype is a ridiculous notion that couldn’t happen in any civilized metagame. The idea! Preposterous.

On the Aggro front, we’ve two dedicated decks (Gruul and the second-placed finish Rakdos Aggro). The Gruul deck

faced the eventual winning Dralnu deck in the quarterfinal, losing game 3 despite sticking Stormbind early. Nice tech,

definitely worth a look. Alongside the dedicated Aggro builds we’ve some rather standard-looking Black/White

Discard Weenie affairs, with Savannah Lions, Ravenous Rats, Hypnotic Specters, Shrieking Grotesques… and the

obvious Dark Confidant and Ghost Council of Orzhova. This deck appears to be gaining in popularity, and it’s not

hard to see why. It’s got a theoretical great match against Control decks (though we know how that can pan out),

and an actual great match against Dragonstorm.

The Control decks are thinner on the ground this time out, with only Dralnu du Louvre being a dedicated “no no

no” deck. The midrange control of Angelfire, and the board control and combo reanimation of Solar Flare boost the

numbers a little, but they’re not actually evil. It’s good to see Solar Flare getting some more love… I

miss seeing Angels of Despair nuking each other.

Rounding it out we have the hardy Dragonstorm deck, proving that there’s no such thing as a Top 8 without

Bogardan Hellkite, whatever the format.

(Go read Stephen Menendian latest article if you don’t believe me!)

(I’m joking, of course.)

(No, I’m being serious!)

(No, I’m actually joking.)

(No, seriously… Hellkite in Vintage! Check it out!)


Is that Atogatog for trade?


#956769 – Standard 2x – 28th April – 60 players

1 — Solar Flare
2 — Gruul with Giant Solifuge main
3 — B/W Control
4 — Dragonstorm
5 — Dralnu du Louvre
6 — G/B Dredge
7 — U/W Tron
8 — Dralnu du Louvre

Solar Flare takes home the caravan this time out, in another Top 8 packed with intrigue. Aggro had a slightly smaller

showing, but then again it did place second. And Solar Flare is a pretty bad match-up for the little guys, all told.

Dralnu du Louvre proved once again that you can’t keep good countermagic down, netting two of the three control

slots. U/W Tron takes the other. Big mana, drawing cards, countermagic, Factory tokens… we know the drill.

NB: For a few years now, those wacky funsters at Wizards of the Coast have told us that Blue is being weakened by

ridding the game of instant-speed card drawing. This is not enough, say I! In order to reign in the control color,

R&D should print sorcery speed countermagic.

Can I be a design intern please?

Making up the numbers here is the token Dragonstorm deck and a rogue contingent made up of the fringe favorite G/B

Dredge (can’t be called rogue if I’m being honest, but it fits here), and the popular-in-every-format B/W


(In every format! Seriously! Even in TPF Draft! A 40-card deck with two creatures! Go read Nick Eisel today for the

scoop on that!)

(I’m kidding.)

(No, I’m serious! It’s like Raph Levy’s Drake Draft, or Quentin Martin Dampen Thought


(No, it’s not. I’m only joking.)

(Seriously, go check it out!)

Is that Wine of Blood and Iron for trade?


#956814 – Standard 4x – 29th April – 136 Players

1 — Gruul with board Cryoclasm and Blood Moon — Dentinho
2 — Angelfire – TrophyHunter_pl
3 — Solar Flare with Aeon Chronicler – Azazel314
4 — Gruul with Burning-Tree Shaman — ctrigg
5 — Solar Flare with Aeon Chroniclers – Dr.Caith
6 — U/W Tron — xtemplar
7 — W/B Discard Weenie (Ghost Husk / Panda Connection) — jcuvelier
8 — U/B Pickles – trunks123

Finally, the Big One. Standard 4x, 136 players, held last night. And again, packed with juicy goodness.

The first thing of note — no Dralnu du Louvre. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the deck suffers in a

larger field, or that the deck is dwindling in strength and popularity… it probably means that the players running

it faced bad matchups. I refuse to believe that it’s gone for good, no matter what my heart wants. In its absence,

pure control did manage the now-expected U/W Tron deck made the quarterfinals before bowing out gracefully.

Two Solar Flare decks did well here, both equipped with maindeck Aeon Chronicler. The previous Solar Flare deck

didn’t show them, but I suspect they were there. He has a big bandwagon, that Neon Aeon guy, and I suspect

he’ll be all over the place very soon.

For the Aggro offerings, Gruul pitched in with two fine performances. The fourth-placed finisher, ctrigg, ran

maindeck Burning-Tree Shaman, a guy that has fallen out of favor recently. I think he’s solid, as he’s always

been cheap. He blocks Call of the Herds, takes a Helix and laughs, and stands toe-to-toe with Terry Teferi (though if

they’re both staring at each other across the table, my money’s on the Blue guy).

Angelfire, in second, faced a very trick match-up against the Gruul deck that took home the precious 48. Not

necessarily from the maindeck configuration of the Red/Green menace, as Lightings both Helix and Angel cause

carnage… but the forgotten Cryoclasm and the strong Blood Moon are an absolute kicking from the backup fifteen.

Finally, in the two rogue spots, we have Black/White Weenie Discard, and U/B Pickles. I love Vesuvan Shapeshifter

the card has so many uses. It’s a shame that U/G Spectral Force has diminished in popularity, and that Blink Riders has

all but disappeared… that tricksy little mimic is always good for a laugh. In fact, if you read today’s Drafting With

Rich, he has the most broken deck that features four Shapeshifters! You’ve gotta see it to believe it!

(Not really. I’m only playing.)

(No, I mean it this time. I really do! Four of them!)

(Rich didn’t even get one today.)

(Yes he did! Four! Four!)

Is that Squire for trade?


See? It does get funnier every time!


Looking at these three Top 8s, I think we can see that the metagame is both diverse and defined.

Yeah yeah, I know… hedging my bets. “Tomorrow’s weather: sunny, with some showers.” Covering

all the bases is my speciality.

What I like about the current set-up is that it seems that both Aggro and Control strategies are possible, and we all

know Combo ain’t far behind (Go Team Hellkite!). There appear to be a lot of viable decks… Let’s take a

look at the deck types listed above:

Solar Flare
W/B Weenie Discard
Dralnu du Louvre
U/B Pickles
Rakdos Aggro
W/B Control
U/W Tron
G/B Dredge

A goodly collection of strategies. They can even be broken down further, tweaking cards for success. Check out

Gruul… we have:

Gruul with board Cryoclasm and Blood Moon
Gruul with Burning-Tree Shaman
Gruul with Giant Solifuge main
Gruul with Stormbind after boarding

Lots of builds, lots of options, all successful.

In fact, Gruul is the perfect example to explain a diverse and defined metagame. Gruul appears to largely define the

strongest Aggro slot in the metagame, but the format is diverse enough to encompass a lot of variation between builds.

It’s the same with the Control decks, and the midrange decks, although not quite as eye-poking. In fact, I

believe the only deck with a consensus “best list” is Dragonstorm, and even then I’m sure there are

nuances of innovation whizzing over my aggro-loving head.

Now let’s see what there wasn’t

U/G Spectral Force
Any Tron other than U/W
Boros Deck Wins (obviously)

Personally, I found the lack of U/R Tron rather surprising. I thought (and still think) it’s the most powerful

Tron strategy. Maybe Aeon Chronicler is a great equalizer, now folks have finally cottoned on to its strength.

Given the choice, I’d play Gruul in my next tournament, but I couldn’t fault you for trying out any of

the decks above. As for the particular build… the heavy LD from the board seems pretty cool, as LD can win against

all manner of strategies. I’d also like the Solifuges maindeck, as four to the face after Wrath or Damnation is

quite the value.

Right, that’s me finished for the week… join me next time, when I’ll take a look at Block, and see

if there’s anything like a Legacy metagame on MTGO. I’m not holding my breath.

Until then, remember — you can’t stop the signaaaAaaaaaah!

Craig Stevenson
Scouseboy on MTGO
Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2

PS: The Weekly Plug Bug Redux

The Ferrett has a webcomic, as I’m sure you all know. In the grand old tradition of fun and frolics, I too have

started a comic of the web variety. It must be something in the water.

Here’s the blurb:

Tim Tyler, corporate drone, dreams of becoming a Rock Star. With help from the Ghost of Jimi Hendrix, and a host of others, his dreams may well come true!

And here’s the link!

Ungrateful Dead.

It’s five strips in, and I think it’s very funny. Then again, I laugh at lame trading jokes, so what do I

know. I write the words, and my good friend Wayne Goldson draws the pictures. Go check it out, especially if you’re

a music fan, or a Heavy Metal Viking.

(Don’t worry, I won’t be shilling the strip every week… maybe once a month or so, when

there’s a particularly funny gag or extra-cool piece of artwork. We’ve just started out, so I thought

it’d be nice to let folks know now. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please tell your friends!)

Thanks for your time!