The Silver Age of Magic

Look, we have Mowshowitz and Wakefield on the same day, does it even matter what they are writing about? Okay okay, Jamie starts his hike on the comeback trail by getting acquainted with the current Standard scene and getting smashed by some 12-year-old kids playing White Weenie. Oh, and what he has now termed “The Silver Age of Magic.” Are you happy now? Go read!

So Joshie and I start getting ready for the Type Two in Middlebury. Josh doesn’t really know what he’s going to play, but with the utility and fatties of Green, I know exactly what I’m going with.

This is what I make up after perusing Apprentice and my available cards. Note the “available” part.

4 Elvish Pioneers

3 Elvish Scrapper

3 Elvish Lyrist

2 Dosan the Falling Leaf

4 Viridian Zealot

4 Troll Ascetic

4 Lone Wolf

4 Lhurgoyf

4 Blanchwood Armor

4 Might of Oaks

26 Forests

At some point the deck had Creeping Mold in it. At other times, Hunted Wumpus, Emperor Crocodile, Rushwood Dryad, Rod of Ruin, Fodder Cannon, and other dreck.

The deck even looked worse when I started building it, but thanks to the generous donation of cards from Joshie, and Justin, essentially letting me steal cards in trades, I was able to construct a mediocre deck. Justin was so happy to see me playing Magic again he let me off easy on trades, and lent me his Troll Ascetics so my deck wouldn’t suck any more than it already did.

I’d like to thank Joshie for all his advice. “Wakefield, your deck is bad.”

“No it’s not.”

“Look, I’ll smash you a few times out of pity, not because I’ll enjoy it, but because you need to see how the environment is.”

I smash Joshie four games in a row.

“Dude, this deck isn’t even together. I’m missing cards out of it.”

“Whatever Joshie. It’s all about the Lone Wolf.”

“Dude, Lone Wolf is bad.”

I’m sure many of you are nodding in agreement. But the strategy isn’t that backwards. Green will often find itself in a stalemate after getting their opponent down low on life. They will stabilize the board, and Green will sit there and wait for death. This is why Overrun was so important in Secret Force.

I searched Apprentice for some form of Overrun and came up with nothing even close. There is no spell in Green to give a whole gang trample right now. The closest you can come is Fangren Pathcutter. And 4/6 for 4GG doesn’t thrill me. And I only have two of them.

So, the Lone Wolf is in there for when… let me just illustrate with a game from my testing with Josh.

“Cast a Darksteel Colossus.”

“Attack with my Lone Wolf.”

“Block with Darksteel Colossus.”

“Might of Oaks my Wolf, choosing to do nine to you and winning the game.”

“Dude, Lone Wolf is bad.”

“Whatever. Got any Rhox for trade?”

The Elvish Pioneer is my replacement for Llanowar Elves and worked better than I could have hoped. I’ve always despised Bird of Paradise as the traitorous bird they are. At zero power what kind of a Green creature is that? The ability to produce an enemy color of mana means he makes Green a splash color, a thought I loath. Sadly, if I had owned any, I would have used them in this deck, because I prefer eight speed-up-mana guys in a deck and throwing Armor on them is a beating.

Looking at the French Regionals deck lists, I’m very surprised no one used Pioneer in their Green beats decks. Especially the ones with Blanchwood Armor in them, like this one.

He did have Birds, but that’s a poor replacement. I can’t count the number of times I went –

Forest, Pioneer, Forest, go.

Forest, Blanchwood the Pioneer, Saaaaaaa-wwwwwing for four.

On turn 2.

Using a Bird you get –

Forest, Bird, Go.

Forest, Tap Bird, Blanchwood, go.

Forest, attack for 3, on turn 3.

Of course, to see the true benefit of this requires a bit of math. Put your thinking caps on and indulge me for a second.

4 damage > 3 damage.

Turn 2 > Turn 3.

Its math like this that allows you to fine-tune your deck into a beatings machine.

Of course, I was playing 26 land and he was playing 22, so that might make the Bird better. But I’d play both if I had Birds just because Blanchwood Armor is such a beating.

Spike tricks.  No wait, make that snake tricks.

With the Lyrists, the Scrappers and the Zealots, I was trying to capture the “ready for anything” feel of Secret Force, but as usual, failed. The reasons for this are four fold. For one, the decks I faced had far too many artifacts to destroy. Multiple sets of Armor and Swords hit the board on my opponent’s side. Second, without spike tricks, combat was much more dicey. Creatures couldn’t grow or shrink at will, keeping my opponent at bay just through fear of spike tricks alone. Third, no Fog. Flyers were much more of a problem without being able to Fog and survive three more turns and send in my own beats while they flew in, impotent. And lastly, no life gain in the mirror match or against burn because, again, of no spikes.

Justin and Josh threatened to kill me if I didn’t play Troll Ascetics in the deck, so they went in and proved their worth all night.

Lhurgoyfs because I’m running 28 creatures and wasn’t sure about Iwamori and could only get two before the tourney started. I stared at them for a long time and finally just decided that with 28 creatures, ‘goyfs should be fine.

I apologize to my readers and to my opponents. I didn’t plan on writing a tourney report and took no notes and am horrible with names. At the time this tournament took place, I didn’t know I’d be writing about Magic again.

My first opponent is a very young, but tall kid. He is there with his friend, and his friend’s younger sister, none of whom are older than 12 and the younger sister is the only female in the whole place once her mom leaves. This caused a bit of distress for one player who has lewd sayings written all over his cards. Magic trash-talking sayings that are funny if you are older and know what they mean. He doesn’t want the girl to read his cards and have her mom be offended or shock her so he finally says, “I’ll just drop if I have to play her.”

My first opponent is playing a deck someone loaned him that is very well put together. I am going to assume that this is a pretty standard White Weenie, as I then played one in the third round very much the same.

The first game is pretty even at first, but a flying, double striking, multiple equipment wielding Skyhunter Skirmisher flying in for…. wait, let me do some calculating, 1+2 + 3 plus doublestike… carry the four….yes, the answer is “A crapload of damage” ends the game soon enough.

Once again you can see where strong math skills are essential to being good at Magic. Especially if you plan on playing red where you will be constantly asking your opponent, “What life are you at?” as you stare at five instants in your hand trying to do addition.

In the second game, his essential strategy was to draw three land, no more, no less, and play out a horde of guys and equipment. This worked pretty well for him.

My essential strategy was to draw four business cards and ten land cards. This worked very well for him too.

His strategy was far superior to my strategy.

I leave the Ilesley library to get some food and contemplate the deeper mysteries of Magic. Like, is it really worth it to be getting back into this? Is it really worth it to drive four hours to a qualifier knowing that you can get the ten land, four creature draw and get stomped into the dirt by a 12-year-old-kid with a borrowed deck?

Maybe some food will help, because I am starving.

I head down to “The Blue Hen”, a place that has long served the town of Middlebury with Red Bull and Grinders. I used to work “there” when I was in high school and the place is a gold mine. It is a short walk from Middlebury College, the most expensive school in the country. It is the first store students come to when they walk down the hill to go bar hopping for the night, and the last before they return. I say “there” because when I worked there, it was called “Lion’s Place” and had these fantastic T-Shirts of a Lion with a thick mane taking up your entire chest. It’s where we used to get Mountain Dew, creamies and thick grinders and was the best store in town.

Now it’s called “The Blue Hen” and has Baba Ganoush and “lamb in red fern gravy” and wireless internet access.

All of which is fine, but it’s not “LION’S PLACE”

Something big has just gotten out at the college, so the deli is swamped. My chances of ordering any food in the next hour approach absolute zero. I grab a Red Bull, a pickled polish sausage, a bag of pizza Combos and what looks to be a delicious golden chocolate chip cookie in bar form about four inches square.

When I walk in, people are watching the last game finish up and my last round opponent points at my huge cookie bar in my hand and goes “WOW! Look at that!” And everyone turns to drool over my golden cookie bar. Truth to tell, its dry, not enough chocolate chips, and I’m considering what I’m going to do with the half of it I don’t plan on eating.

The kid I played last round solves that for me as he and his friend come over and he boldly asks me if he can have some. I surprised for a second and then break off a quarter for him and he walks off. His friend, not so forthright, looks me in the eye, then looks down and starts to walk off. I break him off a quarter and hand that to him. Problem solved.

Jeremy does up the pairings and then calls out names as he walks around the tables. He calls off me and another guy, I think his name was Tim, and Jeremy introduces him as “The nicest guy in Magic.” This bodes well for me, as I despise playing pricks.

Tim looks extremely familiar, but I can’t seem to work up the courage to say “We’ve played many times before, right?” for fear of offending him.

He is also with Forests.

I reaaaaally don’t like losing to people playing forests. It’s just this thing I have.

In fact, he’s playing a better version of the deck I’m playing today.

He pulls out a fourth-turn Iwamori that is some big.

Might of Oaks is bigger and I end the game with an unblocked rush.

I side in 4 Rushwood Dryads.

We get into a creature stalemate and I have out a Lone Wolf and 3 Might of Oaks in hand. He has Iwamori and a Sword of Fire and Ice.

I pick up the Sword and read it.

Then I read it again.

I look up, face pale, eyes wide.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Protection, +2 +2, Card drawing, and you get to do direct damage to my creatures or me?

“What the… I mean…. What the….”

Yeah. I lose.

“I gotta get me some of those.”

I get a turn 2 Dryad, turn 3 Blanchwood Armor, and if I had drawn another land, a turn 4 Might of Oaks. I get the land on turn 5 and come in for a lot.

We chat about Magic and Forests and Swords and look through each other’s decks.

Just as Jeremy said, a really nice guy and a very pleasant three games.

My next opponent is Jason. A friend of Josh’s that usually plays Magic casually, but is here plays one of Josh’s decks at Josh’s urging. He is playing the same combo deck my first round opponent played against me.


Skyhunter Skirmisher + Equipment = SUPER COMBO!!!

Reading over some analysis of the French Regionals, it was stated that White Weenie was a large part of the field, but very few placed in the Top 8. I don’t really know what those white weenie decks were playing, but I find it hard to believe that anything running this combo didn’t do well in any field. Titan showed the combo to Joshie, Joshie showed it to me. Really, it’s not that big a deal. I have no doubt people will tell me everyone knows about the beauty of this, and how every white weenie deck is running these, but maybe not. I’ve been out of Magic for five years now so I’m not actually up to date yet on what is popular and what is not.

For the more casual players or for people who haven’t actually seen it in action, or for the people who don’t understand how Double Strike works, here are a couple of examples.

If you have a simple Bonesplitter equipped on your Skyhunter Skirmisher he flies in for six on turn 4. He will do three points of first strike damage, and another three points of normal damage. For a Green mage with no way to deal with fliers, six flying damage a turn is a big scary deal.

Yesterday, Josh came over to do some playtesting. At one point in the game, I had out a Scrapper, a Lyrist, and an Elvish Champion. Josh flies in with a Skyhunter equipped with Umezawa’s Jitte.

First strike damage:

“-1 -1 counter on Scrapper, same with Lyrist. You take 1 damage.”

Normal Damage:

“Two -1 -1 counters on the champion. Take another 1 damage.”

Skyhunter + Jitte = Wrath.

That card is like getting punched in the temple. If you can’t deal with it, you’re going down.

Jason and I have a nice set of three.

In the third game, my rustiness loses me the game. He has a flier coming in for three a turn, and I have a Pioneer with Armor on it. His valiant knights keep chump blocking and I lose track of just how many turns I can live with him beating on me. The next thing I know, I look at my die and notice I’m at six. I don’t know if there was anything I could have done that would have won me the game, but I thought I had more time, and then I was dead.

This is the part I reported last week. I take off and sit on the couch with the lovely Mare, sip Molson XXX and watch the finals of The Ultimate Fighter. Justin wins the tournament playing Tooth and Nail.

Justin, Paul and Wayne come over on Thursday for Magic night and playtesting at my house. Josh is busy with Morgan and can’t make it.

It is the Silver Age of Magic.

Once again, Magic has a beginning, middle and end. There are creatures on the board, and battles occur. And most importantly, once I finish a game, I can’t wait to start the next one. In the testing we have done, I felt like we could play all day. Even the last two years of Magic before I quit weren’t like that. And it wasn’t due to burnout; it was due to the environment.

I don’t feel disgusted when my opponent wins on turn 3 based on his opening hand. My life total and that of my opponents, rarely goes from 20-0 in a single turn. Not once in the tournament or the subsequent playtest games do I or my opponents draw my entire deck on one big turn. Green finally has real utility creatures, an Elvish Lord, and a horde of good fatties to pummel your opponent with. So many good creatures you can find one for every deck and occasion.

The Silver Age of Magic is here.

Next time: French Regionals, why those aren’t Green aggro decks, and how the deck I’ve been playing gets tuned for the environment.