The Weekly Guild Build: Back From Europe To Discuss Death

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StarCityGames.com!The Ferrett returns from Europe to discuss… death. Dying formats, dying comics, dying relatives, and endless, endless flights on planes. Which is not the standard method of writing “Welcome back” Magic articles, but hey! It has Ravnica cards, and talks about what it’s like to stay with Editor Craig Stevenson! What more do you want?

I’m back. Did you miss me?

What? You didn’t?

Oh, you fickle, fickle public, you.

For those of you who weren’t paying sufficient attention, I’ve been in Europe for the past three weeks, flitting about England and then flutting off to Germany for a few days. In my absence, gangster gaijin Eli Kaplan stepped in to give his thoughts on the format, and didn’t he do a bang-up job? Let’s give the boy a hand for stepping in, whatsay?

Clap, goddammit. It’s like Tinkerbell. He’s all the way in Japan, I know, but I swear to God that he will hear you if you clap. So do it. I know you feel silly, but put your hands together and clap right now.


Okay, you’ve clapped. And Eli heard you! You know how? Because Eli has a mystical power: he can sense when roommates and girlfriends and parents are staring at that whacko who’s clapping for no reason at a screen, and he will sense that it is for him. In fact, if you really want to thank Eli, you should go outside and do naked pirouettes; he can sense that, too. Send him pictures! He loves it.

So what about me? Well, Europe was a lot of fun, which I’ll discuss later on. I actually stayed for a few days with Craig Stevenson, a.k.a. “The Real Editor Of This Here Site Here” (I only manage), a.k.a. “The English Goddamned Champion, And Isn’t That Frickin’ Awesome?” Alas, I didn’t think about what it would mean to stay a few days with my pal Craig.

You see, for me, it was just seeing a guy I’d met before, and spending a week or so with him. But as his girlfriend later pointed out to me, for Craig, me showing up was The Boss staying at his abode.

I hadn’t considered that. Technically speaking, I am Craig’s mentor and/or kinda-boss (though it never really seems that way, since Craig’s on the ball enough that he should probably be teaching me about how to edit). Should things go sour during my brief stay at La Casa Stevenson, this relationship could have turned quite ugly.

What if he left the wrong brand of candy on my pillow when I woke up in the morning? What if Craig took offense to my nightly habit of yodeling myself to sleep? What if, God forbid, it turned out that Craig didn’t think as highly of myself as I did?

Too little ass-kissing, and Craig could find himself with a vindictive boss, the kind of man who’d make snide comments all the time whenever he let some misspelling slide on the front page. I might stage a whispering campaign against him whenever I talked to Pete — “Oh, sure, Craig’s been boosting our traffic across the board and putting some damn fine articles on the front page of StarCityGames.com, but did you know that he will not go out at three in the morning to fetch you a Kit-Kat bar if you’re staying at his house? Do we want that kind of guy working for us, Pete?”

Fortunately, Craig is as charming in person as he is in print, and twice as funny, and we had a great time. I would advise you all to stay at Craig’s house when in England, if only to watch him roll cigarettes.

The trip, sadly, did not end as well. While I was away, my precious Gramma died in hospice. Which means that I write this article in my Mother’s living room in between discussions of what sort of eulogy we’re going to write for my Gramma Lucas, and my attention is not as fully on the ball as it could be.

It was a good trip. And I will write an article for a format that is slowly in the stages of death itself, since the Coldsnap release events aren’t the same as, you know, actual drafting. But we’ll get back on track sometime.

I just have to get through the Memorial Service on Tuesday. So this is… an article. I’ll share more about Europe later, k?

So what do we have here for the folks?

Solid playables: Conclave Equenaut, Courier Hawk, Devouring Light, Sandsower

The “solid playables” is deceptive here, since the second-tier stuff isn’t bad at all — Boros Fury-Shield, Wojek Siren, Order of the Stars, and Leave No Trace all have their place in decent decks. Still, there’s not quite enough here to bring us to a cheerful maindecked White; two fliers and a solid combat trick won’t carry the day.

So yeah, we’re not playing White. Unless the Gold is so darned good it kicks us in the shins, baby.

Solid playables: Compulsive Research, Tidewater Minion, Vedalken Dismisser

Like white, this is far more solid than it looks — Enigma Eidolon, Thunderheads, and Infiltrator’s Magemark don’t make me jump for joy, but I will cheerfully play them assuming the rest of my Blue pans out. Likewise, Terraformer all but says, “Hey, I’m filler, but good filler!” And so we mark Blue as a potential for later on.

Solid playables: Brainspoil, Netherborn Phalanx, Ribbons of Night, Stinkweed Imp

Shallow but strong, the muscle of Brainspoil and Ribbons make Black a solid contender. It’s in moments like these that you have to wonder at the differences between Sealed and Draft; I wouldn’t play Netherborn Phalanx in a Draft unless it was as Transmute-bait for a larger bomb, but in the slightly-slower Sealed environment, it’s actually an auto-play. It occasionally steals games, and even when it doesn’t it’s a slightly expensive guy to hold the fort, pinging your opponent along the way.

I’ll stand by the Phalanx, baby. I loves me some Phalanx.

Solid playables: Bloodscale Prowler, Ordruun Commando, Sell-Sword Brute, Tin Street Hooligan

Wow. That’s a lot of Red cards, and…

…Well, it’s a lot of Red cards. We have nothing that, you know, burns, except for Kindle the Carnage, which burns way too much. Where’s my Seal of Fire? Where’s my Galvanic Arc? Where’s my dang Pyromatics? And, well, Demonfire you? No, I damn well can’t!

And when you flense the burn from the Red in this block, you get a bunch of pansy critters that can’t do anything effective past turn 4. Alas! I want to play Red, but you have to give me something to work with, pals!

Solid playables: Cytospawn Shambler, Elves of Deep Shadow, Gather Courage, Ghor-Clan Savage, Greater Mossdog, Sundering Vitae, Transluminant

Hello, Green. You know what I really wanted from you? Mana fixing. I have no real Signets, so I could have used a Farseek or a Civic Wayfinder. And what fun is that?

Okay, I’ve got a core of solid beatdown. But can I mix it with anything? Well, as usual, we’re going to have to go to the Gold cards and hope that we get something to save this shambles of a deck….

Solid playables: Boros Guildmage, Consult the Necrosages, Culling Sun, Congregation at Dawn, Golgari Rotwurm, Mourning Thrull, Pollenbright Wings, Shambling Shell, Streetbreaker Wurm, Szadek, Lord of Secrets, Thundersong Trumpeter, Wrecking Ball

Jeez — that’s the most consistent Gold pool I think I’ve ever seen in this format. Almost every card is a playable, and many verge on “Bomb.” I could easily try for some Black/White/Green build with Culling Sun and Pollenbright Wings and Congregation at Dawn, or perhaps I could try for a White/Red/Something build.

But alas. I am tired and heartsick, and so you get one build from me. It feels like a slack-off, I agree, but I didn’t have the time to play twenty games as I usually do, and so we have… this.

1 Brainspoil
1 Compulsive Research
1 Consult the Necrosages
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
5 Forest
1 Gather Courage
1 Ghor-Clan Savage
1 Golgari Rotwurm
1 Greater Mossdog
1 Infiltrator’s Magemark
5 Island
1 Mourning Thrull
1 Netherborn Phalanx
1 Ribbons of Night
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Shambling Shell
1 Stinkweed Imp
5 Swamp
1 Szadek, Lord of Secrets
1 Thoughtpicker Witch
1 Thunderheads
1 Tidewater Minion
1 Transluminant
1 Vedalken Dismisser
1 Cytospawn Shambler
1 Enigma Eidolon
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Sporeback Troll

I went with this build for two reasons: One, the Blue gave me access to the powerful Szadek, Lord of Secrets, and two, the Blue gave me Compulsive Research to bolster the lack of mana-fixing in Green this time around. Also, I had a fair amount of beef to get around my comparative dearth of removal — my rule is that if I can’t destroy my opponent’s creatures on demand, as I can’t here, because aside from the Ribbons and the Brainspoil once they hit they stay hit — then the least I can do is overpower them.

How’d it do? Well, I went 3-1 in games, doing surprisingly well — the one game I lost was against a focused Selesnya deck that had Selesnya Evangel and Glare of Subdual and Sandsower and Scatter the Seeds and Dimir House Guard to get the Glare…. Not so much.

The rest of the time, I threw down some early critters, stabilized the board, and then began to churn out a large number of semi-evasive fatties. Szadek only hit three times, but he won two of those games in two turns (and got Sandsowered out in the third).

Not bad. In a better time, I’d try to figure out whether White might be better than Blue, but I suspect that given that I have no token-producers aside from Pollenbright Wings, it would be unstable at best. Or perhaps a four-color build. But hey, you know….

The Weekly Plug Bug
Hey, have you read Home on the Strange while I was gone? Do I really need to keep my damn webcomic alive via a continual infusion of pathetic plugs stashed away at the bottom of an article?

What? Apparently, I do. What a shame.

In any case, if you haven’t been paying attention, last Friday’s strip was a rather brutal take on Buffy tie-in comics, and Monday’s strip will be our take on children. And later this week, we’ll be angrily mentioning what it’s like to get on a damn plane where OMG TERRORIST TERRORIST TERRORIST.

But that’s later. Today is children. Have fun.

Signing off,
The Ferrett
The Here Edits This Site Here Guy