The Return Of Weapons Of Mass Distraction

Welcome, fellow readers, to another installment of Weapons of Mass Distraction. I got jealous of everyone else having column names, so I’m going back to my old column name. In this episode: Where did the folks at Wizards learn to count?; If Wizards is making the -Men Movie TCG, can we call Magneto’s little toy…

Welcome, fellow readers, to another installment of Weapons of Mass Distraction. I got jealous of everyone else having column names, so I’m going back to my old column name. In this episode: Where did the folks at Wizards learn to count?; If Wizards is making the X-Men Movie TCG, can we call Magneto’s little toy "Unstable Mutation"?; and why am I still awake after reading Masques Block PTQ reports?


Yes, I know I’m mixing my references, but it makes the point much better. And this portion of the column is less about Pokemon, and more about Wizards of the Coast.

I bought ONE pack of Team Rocket. Just for fun really, and by accident I bought a first-release or first-edition or whatever it is with the extra little stamp on the card. I opened it up, perused it, noticed that I had a foil rare (which is more than I’ve gotten from Nemesis), noted that it was Dark Raichu (nice, because hey, who doesn’t like Pikachu?), and then set it aside so my brother can look at it when he comes out. He’s much more of a Pokemon junkie than I am.

Then I pick up the Team Rocket card-guide that came in my TopDeck (another minor indulgence, no one call me a guppy) and I glance through it a few times. It ends up in my bathroom for reading material, where I glance it every once in a while.

And I’m looking … and looking … and I’m not seeing Dark Raichu. It doesn’t dawn on me that something’s missing until I’m talking to him on the phone … and I actually have to go back into the pack and look at it to make sure it IS Dark Raichu.

It is.

I look in my card guide. Dark Raichu is not there. I go back to the card. It’s number 83.

Of 82.

So: Is Wizards now making secret promotions to keep us guessing in these days when card set spoilers are available the week before the cards even come out? Is a hidden card an incentive to either buy more Team Rocket, or to buy Team Rocket singles? Are all-foil packs of Prophecy a mix-up, or Wizards’ subtle way of surprising us (and boosting Prophecy sales at the same time)?

Because if it’s an honest mistake – man, they’re making a lot of those recently. =)


I went and saw "X-Men" Friday night with my wife and my brother-in-law. I’m a big comic-book geek, so I was really looking forward to the whole thing; my brother-in-law is more respectable, but still loves a good action movie, so he was pumped too. My wife? I think she was just along for the ride so she wouldn’t have to go see something by herself. =)

Needless to say, we all enjoyed the movie immensely. Even my wife! (Although, in all fairness, she enjoyed the Highlander: Endgame trailer more than the movie itself.) They really did a much better job than most of the previous Marvel movies. Hopefully now that someone has shown that it can be done well, we’ll be seeing more of Marvel’s Merry Mutants in the future.

The trick for me, as an X-Men comic fan, was to separate the movie and comic into two different realities, much like Batman comic fans had to do to enjoy the first Batman movie. Once I got past that, I was able to enjoy a well-done, well-paced movie.

My brother-in-law wanted to go back and see a matinee on Saturday.

If you haven’t gone and seen it yet, go see it! Disregard Roger Ebert giving it two thumbs down. What does he know about movies anyway?


We are now three weeks into the MBC Qualifier season, and Masques Block is shaping up to being a pretty varied field. I should be surprised, considering how amazingly dull PTNY was (I won’t go into it again – suffice to say that I still read those tourney reports when I can’t sleep). It pleases me to no great degree that there are almost a dozen decks that are viable for qualifiers.

So why the drastic shift from PTNY? Ask anyone and they’ll tell you. Banning Rishadan Port allowed multi-color decks to flourish; banning Lin-Sivvi slowed Rebel decks down enough to where a multi-color deck could actually be viable.

I’m not going to touch on all the decks that are viable – just the ones I like and am looking at playing in my own qualifier later next month. I’m going to play in Edison in what is invariably the last PTQ of the season – in this case, Sunday, August 27th. By then we’ll have a more accurate idea of the metagame – but until then we can always speculate!

REBELS: This deck has given itself a very hard act to follow, setting itself up as arguably the number-one deck in the format, even without Lin-Sivvi. The first three weeks have shown that it is still resilient – but as the season wears on, the metagame will shift so that Rebel decks shift from being the hunter to being the prey. The Control Black and Black/Green decks that made good showings in weeks two and three seem to be good foils against it. How will the Rebels deck compete? Possibly by shifting further away from straight beatdown and towards control, eventually chaining up to Jhovall Queens to hold off large attackers. Another option might be to follow the trend of Blue Beats, and take Rebels to the sky, with Defiant Falcons and the Gliders:

4x Ramosian Sergeant
4x Defiant Falcon
2x Ramosian Lieutenant
4x Nightwind Glider
3x Thermal Glider
2x Magneto, the Lion (so sue me, I just saw X-Men)
4x Reverent Mantra
4x Cho-Manno’s Blessing
4x Parallax Wave
3x Seal of Cleansing
4x Mageta’s Boon
2x Story Circle

20x Plains

Rough draft – 60 cards. The nice thing is that your main fliers, the Gliders, will be immune to Black and Red’s removal short of Massacre. The Mageta’s Boons are in there for that purpose, and also to help you outrace the inevitable Ribbon Snake. Parallax Wave and Story Circle should provide excellent defense, but you could also consider putting in that enchantment that nets you life for each damage your creatures do (can’t think of it offhand, but I’ll go look it up). Ah, there it is: Noble Purpose. That should overload your opponent’s Disenchant targets. The Mantras and Blessings are in there against Rising Waters, with the Blessing being the better choice since it’s permanent. Sideboard options: Crackdown against anything with Blastoderms; Ramosian Rally possibly. Disenchants or Aura Fractures are probably a must.

RISING WATERS: What is it about this deck that makes everyone hate it so? It probably has to do with the "sum is greater than the whole of its parts" thing. I mean, everyone got annoyed whenever a Winter Orb would hit the table, and everyone gets annoyed having their spells countered. The combination of the two is too much to handle. But Wizards decided that Blue had been in the doghouse long enough, and gave them those spiffy alternate-casting-cost counterspells. Yay.

It’s still at least number two – it might even be number one in some areas. But no one can agree on what the perfect decklist is, and that makes it vulnerable in some instances. Some people focus on the countermagic, others on the bounce. It’s also not an easy deck to play. And decks have been appearing that can not only match the countermagic, but back it up with tougher threats (like Mageta in the U/W version and Avatar of Fury in the U/R version).

I was just reading Seth Burn article from last week, and he suggested that Rising Waters might do well to shift towards the philosophy of Blue Beats by upping the creature count and cutting back on the countermagic. I also think that Rising Waters will eventually have to beef itself up, and this seems to be the most likely route it will take.

W/G CONTROL: This deck is very similar to the ‘Dunham Woods’ deck I worked on about a month ago. I guess when you have a creature like Blastoderm, it doesn’t take long for people to start trying him out in varying decks. I had been including Vine Trellises and Saproling Clusters, but hadn’t made the jump to Spidersilk Armor, which I really like now. This deck is all about continuous threats – lay down an early Sergeant and start recruiting until your big guns come out to play. This deck is probably number three right now, but as it qualifies more people in the weeks to come, I predict this will be the deck to beat.

G/B CONTROL: The Jolrael deck that reared its ugly head in week two is now all but missing from the net. I went to the Dojo to check it out one more time (because the mini-combos throughout the deck fascinated me), and they were all but gone. Brian Kowal’s second-place deck? Withheld by request. I saw it once but can only guess at the entire contents – memory becomes a tad fuzzy when you get to be my age:

4x Jolrael, Empress of Beasts
4x Blastoderm
2x Vine Trellis
3x Hunted Wumpus
3x Thrashing Wumpus
2x Avatar of Woe
4x Skyshroud Claim
3x Vendetta
3x Snuff Out
4x Massacre
2x Forced March

4x Skull of Ramos
1x Horn of Ramos
1x Dust Bowl
11x Swamp
9x Forest

I can’t be positive of any of this deck, except the 4x Jolrael / 2x Avatar of Woe, the four Skyshroud Claims, and the artifact mana. Obviously Blastoderm and Thrashing Wumpus fit in there somewhere, and the Forced March combos so nicely with Jolrael that I’d almost be willing to go up to four if I could fit in some Dark Rituals (for added efficiency against actual creatures). The rest of the creature base, and the choice of creature-removal beyond that, is up to the individual. I could see Silt Crawlers or Chimeric Idols being used, maybe instead of the Hunted Wumpus.

The main thing I love about this deck is Jolrael. Talk about your multi-purpose creature. People get all excited about Mageta: "It’s a Wrath of God, and he beats down to boot!" Well, Jolrael is a one-woman army – at 3/3 an excellent beatstick in her own right – and she has the potential to call up an entire army of leafy and rooty warriors. The mini-combo with Forced March is great – turn all your opponents land into creatures, then wipe ’em out. She even makes a great counter to Mageta, making sure your opponent thinks twice about Wrath’ing away all his land – or at the very least, making sure Mageta won’t be able to do it more than once in a row.

I was iffy on the Skyshroud Claims because of the increasing interest in the Avatar of Fury deck, but decided that it’s really quite good; good enough to maindeck (and maybe remove for Spidersilk Armors or Squallmongers against Fury). They get you two more warriors for Jolrael to command and are especially good under Rising Waters, where you can cast it with the artifact and creature mana and get yourself two more untapped Forests.

U/R COUNTER-FURY: With all the countermagic in this set, a deck of this type was waiting to happen. I think the environment would be too fast for it without the current bannings, but since we have them, this deck is starting to flourish. Countermagic and burn backing up Avatars of Fury (and in some cases, Flowstone Overseer) sounds like a solid plan – it’s all a matter of knowing what to counter and what to burn away later. I think this deck might have trouble with the W/G Rebel Control deck simply based on speed – they have to match up one-for-one early on, and that’s never easy.

I like this deck a lot too. With the slowed-down environment, the chances of your opponent getting to seven land is ridiculously high. Flowstone Overseers are a necessity in my case, as his Masticore-like ability to blow up your opponent’s guys is just too good to pass up despite all the burn that you can include. But its options against Blastoderm once it hits the table are limited, short of pumping up an Overseer to kill him, so that
makes me nervous.

R/G ROGUE: There’s been some whispering of this category here and there, and this is the color combination that most suits me. Back during the prep for PTNY, I saw a R/G deck that worked Battle Ramparts to hasten the attack, and it really seemed like it worked well. It used Lithophages and Pangasaurs as its creatures of choice – the Pangosaur being an especially nice touch, as now it got to attack before your opponent could bounce it back into your hand. You could also lay a land AFTER the attack to protect it. I don’t know if a deck like this could still work, but here’s a start:

4x Battle Rampart
4x Pangosaur
4x Blastoderm
3x Saproling Burst
3x Kris Mage
1x Skyshroud Behemoth
2x Avatar of Fury
2x Lithophage
1x Two-Headed Dragon
4x Thunderclap
4x Seal of Fire
4x Rhystic Lightning

1x Rath’s Edge
13x Mountain
10x Forest

The Blastoderms are iffy – they don’t work well with the Rampart, but they’ re almost too good not to include. There’s really nothing that you could fit into that spot, except maybe Silverglade Elemental or Rushwood Elemental – the Rushwood would also require some reworking of the mana base.

I’ve also heard whispers of a R/G Kyren Negotiations deck. I think there’s two possible ways to go: Either by building up Saprolings with Saproling Burst, Saproling Cluster, and Spontaneous Generation, or by building up lands by using Skyshroud Claim and Silverglade Pathfinder, then turning all your land into creatures using Natural Affinity. The Saproling deck could also use Squirrel Wrangler and Groundskeeper. Check for this decklist next week.

Speaking of which …


MBC combos. Are there any really? The Kyren Negotiations deck is hardly a combo, as it wouldn’t go off all at once, and the Battlewagon is just a fun trick deck. Might there be something else? I may have something up my sleeve, assuming I can piece it together. Tune in next week!

Until then, make mine Marvel!

Dave Meeson
Super Wrong Guy
[email protected]