Guess who’s back…
Tim is back…
Tell some men.
All good authors, such as Michael Clair, know that the best way, nay the only way, to introduce an article of any importance is to quote someone who is truly insightful, distinguished, and prolific …in a word, someone Great. I’m not talking about Marshall Mathers’s contribution from above. Please. Eminem is borderline retarded, even if whitey can flow and he makes a great role model for all you closeted cool-kid wannabes. I’m talking about this next quote here:
I want to make this work, and it’s possible that it could. All that has to happen is: you have to be the only Blue drafter at your table; there have to be at least eight _____ Through _____ in the draft; and you have to resolve this six times before your opponent kills you with his creatures. That’s a shame. In fact, the only way you could realistically deck your opponent with this card is if you had two and were able to splice them both onto the same Arcane once or twice.” —Tim Aten, 10/15/04
As has been hammered home to many unwitting Modoers, not only is the first part of this shoddily constructed paragraph fallacious, the latter portion portends a very real possibility, and, shockingly, a viable draft strategy. More on that later, though. First, ally’all have to wade through the self-serving, self-aggrandizing, self-important portion of the article where I keep you updated with my top songs and the goings-on in my incredibly uninteresting life. It will be short, this time, though. I promise. There’s far too much “strategy” in this article for me to waste my energy being witty, and I don’t want to turn away any more potential readers. The deck is fun to draft from time to time, but it’s absolutely miserable to play against. A table can support 0 to 2 (but usually only 1) Splice World drafters, so if multiple people attempt to draft it at the same table, or if people nab Ethereal Hazes and Peer Through Depths over marginal sideboard cards that they’ll never actually side in, the power of this scourge can be diminished. Or if most people don’t believe me, the few that do can have some fun cleaning up.
Recent Developments in My Life
Well, um, let’s see… I think I’m dumber now. That counts as newsworthy, right? I feel so out of it that I can barely mentally process anything verbal even as I type this. I wish I were kidding. Also, I recently moved with Adam Chambers, Jill Costigan, and Aaron Lipzcynski into an apartment in Albany, New York. I’m not sure how I found an assortment of people whereby I’d be tied for least crazy in said posse, but I managed. Last and most embarrassing, I play poker now. Let’s all revel in my seeming hypocrisy for at least the space of two paragraph breaks.
In my defense, I maintain that this development was only a matter of time. I play Magic and I’ve played the Ohio Lottery on multiple occasions, so I clearly have the mental savvy and the raging gambling addiction to be pulled in this direction. What I’m trying to say is, I play because my favorite pros play, particularly David “The Mauler” Williams. Now that I’ve barned my way to the top in the Magic world (Kai, wussup baby?) and somehow, despite my grating curmudgeonliness (not a word, don’t care) and impressive arsenal of personality disorders, I have accumulated a few admirers of my own, it’s time to move on to the next frontier. I will get a pair of Greg Raymer glasses and resolve to meet him and shake his hand. I will get excited and message all my friends if I see Phil Ivey playing on a poker site. I will use poker chips as +1/+1 counters. [Don’t do this. Judges get cranky. – Knut] I Will Compare Every Aspect Of My Life To Poker Situations.
Even if I weren’t being more than a little ironic there, you can rest assured that I would make tasteful poker references, not just saying words somehow related to hold’em so that all the other clingers-on to this particular fad would get a dim flicker in their dull, empty eyes. I actually witnessed a PTQ Top 8 (I may have written about this already, but you know. You know). where the best some fat buffoon could come up with was “I’ve got Aces” to convey that he had good cards in his hand and “I need to river something good” for “I need to topdeck” and other such dreck. IT’S CALLED “SUBTLETY.”
I’m far too stupid to come up with any new lingo, and I don’t hang out with lingo innovators nowadays. The only contribution to the lingo compendium by the other people who live in Albany is starting every sentence with a hesitant “I mean…” a la Josh Ravitz. I spend every waking hour listening to the same Blindside CD, drinking Coke, eating Reese’s Puffs, losing every last nickel at poker and every last ticket on MTGO and spewing the following pieces of gibberish instinctively and with no provocation:
____-zies/____-skies (pronounced skeez): I just tack these suffixes onto the end of random words for literally no reason. For instance, every time Adam Chambers has a mediocre poker hand, I babble “So….allzies inskies?” Never gets old. I may be completely unbearable now. I may have attained a level of annoyance that approaches nirvana. Other examples: “draftzies,” “splicezies,” “blindzies sideskies”
brisket: This means, in effect, “dude.” It’s another example of that certain self-mocking degeneration of existing lingo that spawned “Megan.” It started as “brah,” then “brahski,” and now I just say “brisket.” For example, “Thanks, mmbrisket,” or “Turn off the goddamned Blindside, brisket!” There are talks in the works among the members of my household to further distort this one into “Thanks, Bisquick.” That may be too visionary.
Top 5 Songs, Week of 11/27/04
5. Korn “Word Up”– This has been hovering around the top of my list for roughly three months now. I really don’t get to listen to a whole lot of new music these days. Nonetheless, if you’re remotely familiar with the original and the word “Korn” doesn’t make bile accumulate at the back of your throat, you should listen to this one if you already haven’t in the 75 months that it’s been out. Cool.
4. Green Day “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”– Apparently the miserable pile of garbage that is “American Idiot” was a bret herring as to the quality of the rest of the album. I’ve heard nothing but good reviews from the critics, and more importantly, Craig Krempels and Brian Ziegler, so I’m actually considering buying the album. This single is right up my alley of melodic, despondent high-quality modern rock. You’ve probably heard this one by now as well if it’s your inclination to listen to “my” kinda music.
3. Instruction “Lean On You”– More relatively generic modern rock. I actually bought the Instruction CD after falling hopelessly in love with the banal, dudish “Breakdown” that they played on Cleveland’s pride, 92.3FM, but this song’s way better.
2. Slipknot “Vermilion”– Repazent. That’s all I’m saying.
1. Blink 182 “Easy Target”– If you take away only one thing from this article, let it be that I’m still a pompous a**head. If you take away only two things from this article, let them be that I’m still a pompous a**head and How To Draft the “Dampen Thought Deck.” But if you only take away three things from this article, let them be that I’m still a pompous a**head, How to Draft the “Dampen Thought Deck,” and that “Easy Target” is one of the greatest songs I’ve heard in the past few years. Yeah, Blink sold out, they’re TRL music bla bla bla, I don’t care. Please give this song a listen. Don’t do it for me. Do it for you.
Honorable Mention: Eminem “Ass Like That”– As you could probably tell, any respect I have for Eminem is more than a little begrudging. More than anything, I despise when he tries to act all badass. You’re not a soldier, you’re not Superman, that was not a fist that hit Guerrera or whatever his name is, nobody’s oppressing you, and you probably enjoyed that hug with Elton John more than you care to admit. Perhaps realizing this, Eminem has reverted to lots and lots of goofy gibberish for this album, a decided step in the right direction. Skip past the ones where he’s talking about George W. Bush, arguably the greatest president of all time*, and go right to the one where he’s talking about his peepee going “da-doing doing doing.”
Something Relevant, Perhaps
Now that I’ve fulfilled my obligation to keep you culturally enriched, I can get on with the always loathsome “pertinent” part of the article. A few general notes about the Dampen Thought deck:
1) I didn’t come up with this myself. I could implicitly try to pass ideas off as my own by not citing their origin, but that’s not what I’m about, Pellllllll-cack.** The first time I played against it, it was piloted by GCar or someone from the infamous DRAGONQUEST clan of ghost-scamming fame. I’m not sure who first realized this deck can actually work, but it wasn’t me. Okay? That’s my point. Thank God I still remember how to write in circles.
2) The pick orders are quite fluid. Get a general concept of what your deck needs, and don’t really worry about how early you’re taking it and what you’re passing. I’d be fairly certain I was going to get the requisite number of Dampen Thoughts before I passed Kumano, Master Yamabushi for an Ethereal Haze, though.
3) I’ve seen other people play a third color in their Dampen Thought decks, but I really don’t think it’s worth compromising the mana base unless it’s for Glacial Ray.
As you probably surmised, the premise behind this deck is to run your opponent out of cards by repeatedly splicing Dampen Thought. In this article, I will first discuss the specific cards that are most important for the deck. These include “primary,” “secondary,” and “supplementary” subdivisions. Next, I will go into a bit more detail about the general strategies underlying the archetype, specifically, how to play the deck. Finally, I will discuss the deck’s problem cards and how to beat it, as though I had any clue how to actually do that.
As all you little Ken Jenningses out there may have deduced, this particular card plays an integral role in the “Dampen Thought Deck.” If you want to succeed with this deck in pure combo form, you’ll need at least two of these, or at least one of these and one Eerie Procession. All the Sift Through Sands in the world aren’t going to save you if your sole Dampen is in the bottom quarter of your deck. If you only manage to get one, you’ll need a powerful alternate win condition, such as Meloku or a dragon. If you don’t see a Dampen Thought in your first eight picks, trying to assimilate this archetype could be a risky endeavor. However, if you start out drafting a normal Blue/White deck and grab some late Peers, Hazes, and Sifts, you could still draft a successful Dampen deck if you see your money card in the second set of packs.
See above. This serves as an additional Dampen Thought, or if you already have a Dampen Thought, it gives you two extra uses of it (splicing it onto the Procession then onto whatever card you tutor for).
Peer Through Depths
This card functions as a weaker Eerie Procession. It either gets you closer to Dampen Thought or nets you two vessels for splicezies. If you drafted the deck correctly, there should be little worry of the dreaded “miss,” as most Splice World decks have at least a dozen instants and sorceries.
This is the second-most important card in the deck, becoming less crucial if you have a Candles’ Glow or two. Ethereal Haze is the piece of the puzzle that allows you to survive ferocious, unabated onslaughts of monsters that have accrued as a result of you not doing anything to affect the board. Unless your opponent’s draw is incredibly sluggish, or unless you have a perfect assortment of defensive creatures, you won’t be able to win without white arcane instants.
Reach Through Mists
This card allows for a virtually free splice, as it costs you only one mana and no cards. Once you get up to six lands, you’ll be able to Haze with an attached Thought and Reach with an attached Thought in the same turn. Clearly, it’s not the best at digging for answers, but it’s the perfect splice mechanism once you have what you need in your hand.
Sift Through Sands
This is the worst of the card drawing/selection arcane spells; it’s not cheap like Reach and it doesn’t dig nearly as well as Peer. If you get a clunky mana draw, it can sometimes be difficult to cast this with an attached Dampen Thought. Its greatest advantage is that no one else in his right mind would ordinarily want to play this card, so you can sometimes get it as late as 13th or 14th pick. Counsel of the Soratami is about as good as this in your deck. I’ll spare you an asinine detailed comparison of the relative strengths and weaknesses of these cards, but suffice it to say they’re both just fine.
Unless your opponent has a veritable menagerie facing down your empty board, a single Candles’ Glow can often nullify an entire attack step. To continue stating the obvious to increase my word count, I will here note that the Glow itself has splice, meaning that the world is your oyster once you get up to five or seven mana. I’ve brewed some nice little hybrid spell concoctions in my day, like a nice Sift Through Candles’ Thought or perhaps a little Peer Through Psychic Dampen Glow. The only reason this isn’t in the “primary” category is because you can’t count on getting it; it’s a much safer assumption that you’ll see a few Ethereal Hazes than a single Candles’ Glow, as Glow is uncommon and “somewhat” more playable than Ethereal Haze in normal decks.
Consuming Vortex/Eye of Nowhere
Naturally, these sweet little plums allow you to stunt your opponent’s board development, hopefully splicing a Dampen Thought, while you set up some sort of hard lock with one of your white cards.
Believe it or not, even this card is playable in the Dampen deck. If your opponent controls nothing but lands on turn 4, you could tap one down on his upkeep. If you’re at eleven and your opponent’s creatures are Order of the Sacred Bell, Orochi Sustainer, and Dripping-Tongue Zubera, the Puppetry can function as a virtual Ethereal Haze. Much like Mike Hayner***, it doesn’t really do anything on its own, so you may not wanna cast this unless it’s involved in some sort of splice.
Your wacky arcane engine should comprise half of the nonland cards in your deck or more (or roughly 95% if you mised like Quentin Martin at GP Paris). The rest of your deck will be dedicated to holding off your opponent until you can run him out of cards. This means you’ll want counters, removal, and defensive creatures. Hinder and Hisoka’s Defiance are a perfect fit in this deck because you’ll usually be able to leave mana open during an opponent’s turn; if he plays a must-counter, counter it. If he doesn’t, continue to _____ Through ______ as planned. Cage of Hands and Mystic Restraints are a “miss” for your Peer Through Depths and can’t be spliced onto, but they are usually a necessary “evil.” One Cage can buy you a lot of time, and you usually don’t have anything better to do on turn 3.
Your creatures should be almost purely defensive; dedicating half of your deck to the combo and half to chipping away at your opponent’s life total is poor synergy and hence a losing proposition. The exceptions to this rule are dragons, Uyo, Meloku, and other huge bomby creatures that can win the game on their own in the span of a few turns. Here are some of the key players in the Dampen deck under normal circumstances:
River Kaijin got a big ole butt. The noble Kaijin can stand in the way of just about any nonflyer your opponent can muster before turn 5 short of an Order of the Sacred Bell or Nezumi Cutthroat. After essentially neutralizing your opponent’s best creature with power three or less for several turns, this can chump-block on the final turn before you start Hazing. Kami of Old Stone comes in the same uncommon run as Dampen Thought, so you’ll often be able to get one of those, too. Kitsune Blademaster can perform the same function but will probably be harder to get your hands on.
Teller of Tales
Easily the third best common in the set, Teller of Tales is right at home in this deck. It’s a large flying blocker that will almost always be able to lock down one or two additional key attackers per turn with its unfair triggered ability.
This isn’t really a creature and should not be counted as such in most decks. The Diviner’s applications should be readily apparent, so there’s no need for me to belabor the point. Some people might think that my decision to state the obvious versus forgoing said fruitless endeavor is completely arbitrary, and hence the hallmark of a poor or lazy author. To these people I say: Look! Boobies! (Ted, if you would be so kind…)
Big zoobs comes down on turn 2 and holds Cruel Deceivers and Hearth Kamis off from attacking and eventually trades its life to prevent all damage from one nonflying attacker while simultaneously getting you closer to your combo. A good man, and thorough.
Not as good in this deck as it is in your typical CHK attacking-and-blocking decks, it’s still a 2/4 flying blocker that can effectively shut down your opponent’s attackers if accompanied by just one more creature on your side.
In addition to these, card drawing engines like Azami, Lady of Scrolls and Sire of the Storm complement the deck nicely, as do enchantments like Ghostly Prison or Honden of Cleansing Fire. However, cards like Soratami Mirror-Guard, Indomitable Will, and Blessed Breath that are good to awesome in typical decks are virtually unplayable in the Dampen Thought deck. Occasionally you’ll want a Mothrider Samurai or Soratami Rainshaper to shore up your flying defenses, but these aren’t typically necessary for the deck’s success.
Playing the Deck
The key to drafting this deck, other than getting your Dampen Thought, is to gauge the quality of packs and figure out which cards will make the lap. Considerations here are the relative importance in the deck of the options in your pack as well as how attractive they will be to other drafters. If you see a high-quality pack with Kitsune Blademaster and Ethereal Haze second, you’re probably safe taking the Blademaster; getting Ethereal Haze tenth is not too uncommon. However, if you see the Haze fifth pick, you shouldn’t take chances that it will come back 13th. Just scoop it up right away. Peer Through Depths is another card that you’ll usually be able to table. If it’s in the pack with a Consuming Vortex fourth pick, take the Vortex. The Peer will likely come back, and if it doesn’t, the Vortex isn’t too much worse than Peer in this deck. If drafting experience has honed your instincts to the point where you just know the Peer won’t come back, feel free to take it fourth. Cards you should never, ever pass in this deck are Dampen Thought, Candles’ Glow, and Eerie Procession. Whether you get them first or eighth, consider yourself lucky that they’re in your deck.
Here’s a sample list of the deck that I drafted a few days ago. I’d like to say that I won with it, but I lost in heartbreaking fashion games two and three of round two with it. I’ll tell you how that went down in the “How to Beat the Deck” section. It wasn’t pretty.
2 Dampen Thought
2 Peer Through Depths
2 Ethereal Haze
3 Sift Through Sands
2 Psychic Puppetry
2 Candles’ Glow
2 Kitsune Diviner
2 Floating-Dream Zubera
1 River Kaijin
1 Kistune Blademaster
1 Kami of Old Stone
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1 Sire of the Storm
Hisoka’s Defiance (probably should have played it over a creature or sift)
Consuming Vortex (This was an accident. I would have played this over a Puppetry).
When playing the deck, you have to squeeze the maximum utility out of every one of your spells. You usually don’t want to cast Ethereal Haze unless it’s saving you from lethal damage, and you don’t want to play Candles’ Glow as the vessel**** if you can avoid it. If your opponent is Red, you may have to start firing off hazes to keep yourself above three life so you don’t get Flamed out. If you have reason to believe your opponent has Devouring Greed and you don’t have any counters, you may have to be a bit more aggressive with your Hazing. If you’re at sixteen life and your opponent has seven power worth of attackers and casts a Strength of Cedars for eight, you’ll probably want to Haze since it will prevent fifteen damage this turn and only seven next turn. Candles’ Glow naturally doesn’t need to be held in reserve as long as you’re splicing it onto something.
Suppose you have Sift Through Sands, Peer Through Depths, and Dampen Thought in your opening hand. You should not cast the Peer on turn 2, because waiting until turn 4 will allow you to splice the Dampen Thought and find another splice vessel. If you don’t have the Dampen or a Candles’ Glow already, you can use the Peer on turn 2 to dig for one. Assuming a healthy number of arcane spells in your deck, you should be safe to burn the Sift on turn 3, even if you already have Dampen Thought. It will provide card selection that will hopefully allow you to set up a better turn 5 play than Sift with Dampen Thought, and it will get you closer to Candles’ Glow or Ethereal Haze. Naturally, if you have the choice between a turn 3 Sift or a River Kaijin, you should play the Kaijin. Hold back on your arcanes for as long as possible. Also, unless you are desperate for land, you should never cast a Reach Through Mists with nothing tacked on, even if you have no other arcanes in your hand. It only digs you one card deeper into your deck, and if you find something nice with it, you probably would have been willing to wait an extra turn to draw it to get an extra use out of it.
The deck functions best against sluggish draws, so you should do everything in your power to cripple your opponent’s early offensive game. If you have a River Kaijin in your hand, you probably don’t want to blow Hisoka’s Defiance on a turn 2 Wicked Akuba. If you don’t have anything to block the Akuba, and it looks like it may deal you considerable damage before you start chaining arcanes, you should definitely counter it. The latter scenario will happen more often; the correct play is usually to toss Hisoka’s Defiance (or, similarly, Cage of Hands) at the first creature it can target. There are few spells that cause you major concern once your engine is up and running, but an early creature could deal you around 8-10 damage before you stabilize.
Beating the Deck
Basically, there’s not a whole hell of a lot you can do against the Dampen Thought deck other than playing your biggest creatures as quickly as possible and turning them sideways. If your draw is great and your opponent’s is mediocre, you can overpower him before he locks you down like you were Max McGuffin. I lost a game with the Dampen deck because my opponent had a turn 3 and 4 Order of the Sacred Bell on the play. If he had gone second or hadn’t had the Orochi Sustainer, he probably wouldn’t have been able to win that game.
As I mentioned earlier, you can do yourself a large favor by hate-drafting Dampen Thought, Peer Through Depths, and their ilk as appropriate. Don’t take Dampen Thought fifth over Ronin Houndmaster for your deck, but consider taking one eighth over marginal cards like Call to Glory or Lava Spike. If there are only four cards left in the pack and one of them is Ethereal Haze, take that rather than the Midnight Covenant. Does it really make your deck better if most of your sideboard cards are the same color as your maindeck cards? C’mon now. That said, hate-drafting is the least important and least effective method of combating the deck. There have been countless articles on the disadvantages of hating, and you can’t even be sure anyone’s attempting the deck. Only hate-draft if the threat of the card/deck is greater than the marginal utility derived from the card for your deck/sideboard that you’re taking it over.
Here is a list of some useful tools in battling the Dampen Thought scourge:
I have no qualms about maindecking one of these, and against the Dampen Thought deck, you should board in as many as you have. In many cases, your opponent will only have one Dampen Thought, and removing it will take away his only realistic path to victory. Because of this, it may be a good idea to wait until he has played it against you before you cast the Distress. Waking Nightmare is decent against the deck, but unlike Distress, it is sometimes correct to cast it early, albeit not in lieu of adding another threat to the table.
If you’re playing a normal Blue deck, and your opponent is managing his life total meticulously, a single Hisoka’s Defiance can end the game. Often, the Dampen Thought deck simply cannot afford to play around Defiance, Hinder, and Thoughtbind, so its wielder must simply proceed as though you don’t have them. Spend your early turns playing threats, then counter whatever spell he uses to try to save him from a lethal attack.
Dosan the Falling Leaf
That’s right. This is the card that singlehandedly cost me the match against the 1550 with at least 2 Jukai Messengers when I had the masterwork I listed above. The funny part is, I actually milled Dosan game 1 when I beat the guy, but didn’t realize the implications until he played it turn 3 games two and three. Another time I drafted the deck, I lost to Soulblast aided by Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang two games in a row, the second of which he boarded up to 50-some cards. I’m sure Adam Chambers is duly impressed with my skill as a Magic player by default after he’s seen the unfathomable sea of bad beats I have to wade through to get my precious W’s.
Not exactly the most comprehensive list of cards, was it? That’s why the deck is so powerful; it can ignore almost everything you do if it has enough Candles’ Glows and Ethereal Hazes.
I hope that was um, enlightening and informative. Thank you for your time. If you have any comments or questions about the deck whatsoever, if you’d like to critique the article, or if you tossed a Yamabushi’s Flame at my “nugget” when I was at ten life, resulting in the most embarrassing game loss of your career, please drop me a line. I will actually respond to your emails this time. I promise.
Join me next week when I will be drinking Coke, eating Reese’s Puffs, and listening to Blindside. What can I say? The dude abides.
The Most Diabolical Hater This Side of the Mississippi
playing an account so secret on MODO that you could never dream of finding me
Nooooooot goooooing to Japan
Maka2184 on AIM
Rub my back
Rub my back
Rub my back…
*Quite frankly, I really don’t care who the President is. I am a little sick of the damn smelly foreigners hating on Americans because our President, who doesn’t even really make his own decisions, did some things to some people. Take a shower.
**John: I’m not still “sour” about that. I was just looking for an excuse to name-drop.
***At first I didn’t want to put in this obscure reference, but then I remembered the days of writing things that only Joey Bags would get, not to mention the ill-conceived “Minnesota” article, so I figured mise. At least there’s a precedent.
****term I’m using to mean “spell that you splice stuff onto.” I think there’s a better word for what I’m trying to say, but I can’t think of it since I’m retarded, so we’re allllll gonna have to settle on vessel.