You probably don’t understand how important today is, but let me assure you that it’s the most important date in the history of all mankind. For, you see, on July 3rd, 1969….
…The Ferrett was born.
In the days of yore, back when I was the managing editor of This Here Site Here, I used to hold an amnesty day, wherein all articles sent to me to be published on my birthday were published without any editing at all. This is now a proud tradition of StarCityGames.com, and it helps to make you all understand just how much work we do here to make the articles appear, you know, readable.
But alas, what can I do to reward myself for an article? I can’t publish the unedited version of my own weekly Guild Build; that would be a blank page, and probably my boss Pete would get a little pissy about that. I was wondering what I could do to reward myself to celebrate my birthday, when I hopped on MODO and lost so frickin’ horribly that I cannot even tell you.
Oh, all right, I can. I went 2-6. And it’s not like it was a bad pile of cards – no! There was power in them thar cards! But I misbuilt it horribly, and I paid for it, and then I moped for awhile.
See, when a normal player bombs out at a tournament, it’s awful, but, you know, it’s over. When a Magic writer loses, the agony is just beginning; he then has to step in front of the whole world and compose a screed that tells everyone just how he sucked, and then have people in the forums tell him what an idiot he was for going R/U/b when the build was clearly W/G/r, and then everyone knows what a moron you are.
It’s my birthday.
For my birthday, I’m not telling you what cards I had, or what I built. I’ve learned my lesson, friends, and I know I screwed the pooch this time. Normally, I’d step up and take my walloping like a man, but since SCG has no birthday cake to offer me I’ll take out my prezzie in pure cowardice, thankyouverymuch. I hope you understand.
In any case, I did play with some new cards – and so this article isn’t purely devoid of strategy, let’s discuss the cards I saw and my impressions thereof:
Kindle the Carnage
Without getting into details, let us say that a Chinese combo platter of Kindle the Carnage, Char, and Galvanic Arc led me down the riot road to Red. But alas, Kindle the Carnage is annoying in more ways than one. For one thing, Kindle the Carnage cannot be shortened.
See, as a writer, you frequently resort to typing-saving tricks like talking about a Selesnya Evangel, and then referring to it as “the Evangel” later on, saving you all the trouble of typing out “Selesnya” correctly a billion times.
But you see, I wrote the auto-linking program that transforms arcane strings of letters like “Crosis, the Purger” into a nice, hyperlinked little lookup-thingie, and I know for a fact that if I abbreviate Kindle the Carnage to Kindle, then you will be looking up a darned fun card from Tempest, not the uncommon from Dissension.
Go ahead. Click the link. See?
And not only is it annoying from a writing perspective, it’s annoying from a play perspective. Oh, I like the idea of clearing the board in a torrent of fire, but Kindle is so twitchy that it’s hard to plan around it.
See, the first problem is that the discard is random. That makes it really hard to set up for a one-sided slaughter, since you’re not really sure how much damage will be done, or what you’ll have left afterwards. At one point, I had a Kindle (the Carnage, the Carnage, mmm, mmm, the Carnage) in my hand, along with a Burning-Tree Shaman, a Thundersong Trumpeter, and a currently-uncastable Siege Wurm, and I needed to do four points of damage to stop my opponent from killing me the next turn.
Well, dropping the Trumpeter followed by the Shaman sure cleared the board, but then I had nothing left. What happened was sadly standard for a Kindle the Carnage; we were both reduced to topdecking. He out-decked me. Sometimes I out-decked him, but I want a reset I can plan for.
Then there’s the fact that Kindle the Carnage is an awful late-game topdeck. Oh, wow, I have one card left and it’s Kindle the Carnage! That means that I can wipe the board for zero! Woo hoo! If my next card is something I’d want to cast, I can drop them both to do damage!
I mean, anything that has the power to reset the board shouldn’t be dismissed. But you’re down two cards when you start this one, and aside from the less-than-optimal form of “empty,” you do not get to choose what your hand looks like when it’s done.
On the plus side, the damage is done when the spell resolves, with no opportunity for further spells or effects before it hits the graveyard, forcing your opponents to commit to the pump-and-protect package before it resolves. On the down side, I discovered this when my Benevolent Healer winked out without so much as a by-your-leave.
Paladin of Prahv
This, on the other hand, I love in the late game. I won several games – not actual matches, mind you, merely games – by clearing the board with a Kindle the Carnage while at five life, drawing some random creature followed by a Paladin, and then life-gainin’ my way into the stratosphere.
It’s not an early-game card, of course, but late in the game the life-gain can mean a lot if attached to some evasion critter, pulling a tight game out into a place where your opponent can’t kill you with one all-out attack, but you can. I like that. It works for me.
Plus, when you actually get him out, he’s a bit pricey, but a decent body. This dude now moves into the murky realms of “an auto-playable,” assuming I have enough White to make him work.
Three of my opponents played this, giving me two cards which I then used to beat them. Thank you, opponents!
Hey, you know what I miss? I miss the days when pinging something significant for one would kill it. Now, everything’s an x/2, and all I can do is yoink them for one at the end of the turn. What fun is that?
When I first saw the Soulsworn Jury, I pooh-poohed it. And then people told me, “Oh no! It’s better than it looks! Just because it can counter only creature spells doesn’t mean that it’s useless!”
I played against it twice, in the two matches I won. It wasn’t terribly hard to play around; yeah, he had to leave 1U open, but I just waited until he tapped out to cast a big threat to match my little ones, and then slammed down the Siege Wurm.
I’m not saying that it’s terrible. In the late game, when you’ve got a ton of mana and a horrific advantage, it’s probably really good. But in the early game – say, before turn 6 – keeping that two mana open really hurts.
Then, in a tight game where we were both down to two cards, my opponent cast his own Biomantic Mastery for seven cards and drew a hand of pure gas, slaughtering me in a way that wasn’t even funny.
I might wish to reconsider this effect. Or perhaps that’s just my card.
It was in my colors, which is when I realized that I won’t even bother to play this no-one-ever-blocks-it 1/1 unless I have a pump enchantment, like Moldervine Cloak. And then I probably have better things to lay the Moldervine Cloak on.
Simic Sky Swallower
Apparently, some people can open decks with these in them. I cannot.
On Running Ugly Mana
can i give you some advice, my opponent said. in sealed, always draw first
He was a nice guy, and we’d been trading banter back and forth, so I appreciated his attempt to help me out. (I might have been offended had this been the first thing he’d said.) But the thing is, all the cool kids were telling me to draw first in Sealed, so I did. Then I wound up behind the curve, getting slaughtered as people came flashing out of the gates and killed me.
I stopped drawing first, and started playing first, and immediately I began to win more games. Thus, I stopped. The whole “draw first” thing may work for players with more consistent luck, but my decks seem to actively be working to undermine me, giving me expensive cards in the face of a quick onslaught. So I stopped.
Unfortunately, when you open up a set of cards with no mana-fixers and one bounceland in your colors – and it’s only in one of your colors, mind you – you have to play ugly mana. And in that case, I quickly ascertained, you do have to draw first, because you absolutely need that extra land to get by.
We’ll see how that goes.
On Five-Color Decks
Last week, I got a very potent card pool, and I was told by several people I respect that I should have gone with all five colors. And you know, I guess I can agree to some point, but the mana gods hate me.
Technically, it’s probably great strategy to put your most powerful cards all in one big lump. But for me, it means I never have the right mana when I need it. Thus, I am almost certainly irrational about five-color builds, but considering that I couldn’t do it in Invasion Block, back when I was at the height of my Magic-playing powers, I don’t give it much hope these days.
You should probably try it. Me? I’ll pass.
On Home on the Strange
“But Ferrett,” you say. “It’s your birthday! What can I possibly get you to make your life better?”
Well, if the thousands of plugs haven’t convinced you yet, perhaps you should bop on over to my comic strip, which ended on a dramatic note when Tanner – the hapless, naïve big guy – got into a fight with his girlfriend, forgot to look at the road, and smashed into something. When last we saw him, he was lying, bleeding, on the dashboard.
Today, we find out what happens. But the current storyline, “Animal Control,” isn’t a bad place to hop on, if you haven’t already.