To those delicate few of you who might have missed me week in and week out (mostly people who read my column in the hopes of seeing their name printed) – apologies. I’ve been in a bit of the Magical doldrums, so to speak. There’s just no summer breeze running through the jasmine in my mind, to horribly steal from the greatest songwriting duo of the seventies.
But I’m okay with that – it’s Christmastime! Time to spend some quality time with loved ones! Time to string up the lights, sing a few carols, drink a little cocoa. (I’m probably too late to say “time to put up the tree” – if you were waiting on me to remind you, I think that ship may have sailed.) Time to think about eating turkey again if you’re the “turkey for all big holidays” type – my family always had ham on Christmas, and I know at least one family that has a “cheeseburger” tradition for Christmas day. Time to trot over to Grandma’s house to receive that woolly sweater with a giant red reindeer nose that she got you this year. Again.
It’s worth it for her mashed potatoes. Man, those are good.
It’s also the time of year where Magic players hope for great Magic gifts in their stockings. This year for Christmas, let me give you some inexpensive gift ideas. Kids, send your parents here to check out …
Dave’s Favorite Things!
(You get an EDH deck! YOU get an EDH deck! EVERYONE GETS AN EDH DECK!)
(Well, not really. I don’t have an Oprah-sized budget.)
In any event, here are some inexpensive gifts that your Magic player would love to receive this holiday season.
Multiplayer boxed sets from previous summers
Sure, right now Commander is the big talk, what with their oversized foil generals, but Wizards has been putting out amazing summer multiplayer products for a while now, and if your favorite Magic players aren’t having fun with Planechase or Archenemy yet, this is a great gift for them. The pre-packed boxes each come with a preconstructed deck and either ten Planechase planes or twenty Archenemy cards, all for fifteen bucks.
For Planechase, Elemental Thunder has a great mix of planes and ridiculously fun and powerful cards, like Verdant Force and Forgotten Ancient. Metallic Dreams has a bunch of strong planes, some cards you can actually play in Standard (hello, Iron Myr!), a Bosh, Iron Golem to help you start that EDH deck you’ve always meant to build (more on that later), and the wacky win condition of Door to Nothingness. I’ve always wanted to see someone killed by that.
For Archenemy, I think you know I can’t resist recommending Scorch the World with Dragonfire. I am a huge Dragon fan, and I love that this deck has both Imperial Hellkite and Kilnmouth Dragon, which I played in a PTQ about seven years ago. It also includes the amazing I Bask in Your Silent Awe scheme card (which reduces your opponents down to whimpering, less-effective versions of their former selves) and the powerful My Crushing Masterstroke, which lets you take
on the board and crush your opponents with it.
You also have the option of dropping twenty bucks and picking and choosing which Planechase planes you think are the most fun or which Archenemy cards fit best to your gift recipient. Playing Archenemy with your EDH decks? You’ll be amazed what you can get with Dance, Pathetic Marionette. Also check out My Genius Knows No Bounds – nothing like a Skeletal Scrying for no mana cost. For Planechase planes, I like the ones that encourage everyone to play the game, like Turri Island or ones that do wacky things and will have great stories attached to them, like Cliffside Market.
The great thing about buying multiplayer boxes for your friends who play Magic: you’re likely going to reap some of the rewards!
Standard staples, blinged out
We all know that Standard right now is about as expensive as it’s ever been. Between ninety(!)-dollar planeswalkers and forty-dollar Titans, it’s hard to look at the top-performing decks and think, “Oh, yeah, I can skip my car payment this month and buy
Fortunately, you can still contribute to your favorite Magic player’s Standard deck by picking up cool, alternate versions of the commons and uncommons that are seeing play:
Lightning Bolt, Fire and Lightning foil version:
Two bucks is a reasonable price to pay; heck, thirty bucks isn’t a horrible price for the box itself, and that contains four of the shiny new Lightning Bolts. The textless foil versions from Magic Player Rewards are six bucks.
Mana Leak, Harrow, Burst Lightning, Condemn, Celestial Purge, Negate, Pyroclasm, Sign in Blood, and Doom Blade all have textless versions through Magic Player Rewards, ranging from two to six bucks. Mana Leak is obviously the most expensive, since it’s the most-used counterspell in Standard.
Pre-release and release promos:
Valakut is still going strong, and one of the reasons it can be an inexpensive deck (barring those Titans) is because Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle was the Release promo for Zendikar. The foil version is around in large numbers and can be had for about two bucks. The Memoricide Buy-a-Box promo is five bucks, and the art is tremendous as well; the Wurmcoil Engine and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Prerelease promos are six bucks apiece. (And this might not be a bad time to think about Figure of Destiny promos while they’re priced around five bucks, either.)
Hard-to-find EDH cards, or foil Generals
As EDH picks up… sorry,
picks up steam from the announcement of next summer’s big multiplayer product, I expect that even more players will find that EDH is a great “side game,” and that, so long as you have an EDH deck with you (or you can borrow one), more and more opportunities will crop up to play that format – in between rounds at FNM, in the early morning during registration at PTQs, at your dad’s kitchen table, wherever.
Finding little gems in EDH comes down to persistence. I tend to hit up Portal often because the cards aren’t mainstream at all, but they’re legal and can sometimes have pretty powerful effects. I recently added Winds of Change into my Intet, the Dreamer EDH deck. There’s no worse feeling when you cast Wheel of Fortune than seeing your opponent with two cards left in his hand draw a brand new grip; Winds of Change fixes that by only giving them the number of cards they originally had – and for two less mana! I found it through looking at Portal (where it was a rare), but you can grab the Legends uncommon version for fifty cents. (Which is a lot cheaper price-wise as well; a Revised Wheel of Fortune is ten bucks!) Cards like Dakmor Plague, Balance of Power, or Lava Flow become a lot more potent in EDH and can be had on the cheap.
Portal is also a great place to look for “renamed” versions of cards, which lets you run a functional duplicate in EDH. You know, should you ever need to run two Perishes. Thanks, Nature’s Ruin!
A foil general is another great way to help your favorite Magic player’s EDH deck stand out, although that requires a bit of knowledge about what decks they have. If they’re just getting started, then you can (of course) ask them what general they’re thinking about playing or about what colors they’d want to play if they don’t have a general picked out. Most of the legendary creatures from the last ten years can be had, in foil version, for under ten bucks, including all of the Planar Chaos “wedge” Dragons, many of the Shards of Alara “shard” three-color legendary creatures, and other good two-color guys like Ith, High Arcanist and Kaervek the Merciless. Heck, there’s even a pair of five-color generals available in that price range (Child of Alara and Scion of the Ur-Dragon).
Despite most of the cost of “playing Magic” going towards the cards themselves, I would be remiss not to mention all of the extra little things that Magic players use on a regular basis but that always seem to fall through the cracks until tournament day. Sleeves, deck boxes, binders, spin-down counters – these are all great stocking-stuffers that don’t require you to know a Black Lotus from a Black Knight.
Next week we start looking at Extended. I was originally kind of “down in the dumps” about Extended because, despite having a GP in Denver in February, I’ll be drafting on Day 2, so I wasn’t going to get to play in an Extended PTQ until
Extended is traditionally my favorite format because I like all the interesting (and “out there”) things that you can potentially do in the larger formats – so not getting my fix until March was kind of like saying “Merry Christmas, here’s a bike, we’ll put the seat on it in three months.” But now my plans have changed, and the missus and I will be heading out to Seattle for an extended stay – and this means I actually have an Extended PTQ to attend on January 15. I need to get rolling.
I hope everyone has a great holiday season! Stay safe, enjoy spending time with the people you care about, and stay warm!
Until next week,
dave dot massive at gmail and davemassive on