If you waaaaant it the most
There’s no eeeeeeeeeeasy way out
When you’re ready to gooo
and your hearrrt something something
DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR FAITH
LOVE COMES TO THOSE…er
u can find me in da club
bottle full of bub
mommy i got the *censored* if you’re in there takin *censored*
i’m in there havin’ sex i ain’t in there makin love
*hits a 40*
str8 thuggin 4l
Welcome back once again, my dear dear friends. I’m always flattered that your boredom has motivated you to once again turn to me now that you’ve read every other article on the god-forsaken web.
Since you’ve known me for so long, I feel it’s time to share something personal about myself. But before I get into that, I should mention something about my last article.
My last article was stains. Before I get into that, I’d like to discuss what”stains” means to me.
Stains, short for”poop stains,” originated in the DC area. It was created by, probably, Matt Linde and perpetuated by Morgan Douglass, among others. It occurs to me as I’m writing this that I’ve written the etymology and usage of this particular item of lingo before, but The Ferrett says if I don’t get my word count up, he’s gonna cut my pay in half. Filler never hurt anyone. You don’t remember reading this – and if you did, you’re far too lazy to look in my archives to prove it. Hah.
Speaking of my pay, I haven’t gotten paid in awhile. I’ve written seven articles at 2/7s of a taco per article… That’s, um… You do the math. But I’m not just gonna sit here and stand for that; I won’t take it lying down on my knees and begging. Durrrrrrrrrr.
So anyway, I’ll allow myself to use the horrible lingo of”Stains” because of its”form follows function” purpose. The lingo is horrible; whenever I say it, I can’t help but spit it out of my mouth like so much undercooked chicken. God, I wish I had a better analogy. But the point is, there’s a certain vitriol (I stole that word from Tait) when you say the word, making whatever you’re calling”stains” seem that much worse to yourself and everyone else, ya heard me?
So yea, my last article wasn’t that good. And yet I got a rather positive response from the people who read it, which leads me to one of two possible conclusions. First, maybe the accompanying picture was simply so comical that it made people a little more forgiving on the”content” side of things. Second, and much less likely, maybe I’m just such a masterful writer that even on my off days I’m still better than your average mtgplanet columnist. This makes me feel like I have a certain power,”almost some sort of charisma, but not really” as one person told me. Maybe next time I’ll write an article as poor as I’m capable of writing to see if you still love me like they love Pac.
Or perhaps I just have no idea what’s good and bad, funny and not anymore. Or to quote Homer Simpson, which I despise doing because everyone does it – he’s ironically chic among the dorks – I’ve lost the ability to tell between what’s funny and sad.” Sometimes I don’t mind, but sometime it keeps me up at night, eating cheesecake out of the can and playing Russian roulette with the cat (Whiskers #4).
And this brings me to the personal information I was going to divulge to thee, my brothers and only friends. I suffer from a moderate form of obsessive-compulsive disorders. This most commonly manifests itself in creating lists to impose my brand of”order” on the world as I see it, such as…
Top Ten Rock Songs, 2000-2003
10. Staind”It’s Been Awhile”
9. Weezer”Glorious Day”
8. Our Lady Peace”Thief”
7. Linkin Park”Crawling”
6. Hoobastank”Running Away”
5. Finger Eleven”Suffocate”
4. Jimmy Eat World”The Middle”
3. AFI”Girl’s Not Grey”
1. Joydrop”Expiry Dates”
Top Ten Cartoons of the 1990s, unrevised
10. King of the Hill (derivative of Beavis and Butt-head)
9. Dr. Katz
8. Daria (derivative of Beavis and Butt-head)
7. Spongebob Squarepants (derivative of Ren and Stimpy)
6. The Critic (derivative of the Simpsons)
5. Rocko’s Modern Life (derivative of Ren and Stimpy)
4. South Park
3. Ren and Stimpy
2. Beavis and Butt-head
1. The Simpsons
I hate putting The Simpsons at #1, but I’m”cutting edge,” not”pretentious.” There’s a”difference.”
But there’s more to OCD than list-making and drinking out of the toilet. That just covers the”compulsion” part. (I wonder if that will get a link to the wonderful StarCityGames store, where you can purchase the wonderful 1U enchantment of the same name). There’s also obsession, where I think about something, like my worth as a human being or how I look in sweatpants, until I start to experience moderate stress.
This led me to an unfavorable reaction when I discovered I was lagging in the Magic writers’ key demographic: Swedish males aged 18-35. Apparently, the best I’ve done with any of my articles is second, as one Jeff Cunningham has a stranglehold on the market. He’s their Hasselhoff, evidently. I do not take news like this lightly. I need to know what I have to do to pull ahead of him in Scandinavia. More references to that ever-charming American pop culture? Jokes about fjords? Instructions on how to host a really bitchin’ quilting bee? Throw me a bone!!!
So if you’re from Sweden, or Norway, or even if you live in the Bronx but your name is Johan, please e-mail me at the usual address (at the end of the article) or call me at 1-800-SWEET-ASS extension 4.
So Anton Jonsson, this article’s for you.
But before I say why I’d rather open Decree of Pain than get a lapdance from Avril, I’d like to comment on Anton’s haircut. Simply put, I don’t like it. I cannot wait until he once again grows it out to make it the majestic, full mane it’s capable of being.
And I’m not making fun of the Swedes. That’s the ploy of a desperate man – a man who will do anything to get a reaction out of his stupid, fat, lazy American reading populace.
I’m more of a manchild, really.
1.Decree of Pain
As I finished tying up the loose ends on my list of black cards, I realized the true depth of the color in the set. In Scourge, there are solid playables all the way down to #21! Cut black hard the first pack, and you’ll rarely be disappointed.
This card is obviously ludicrous. It’s ridiculous. It’s preposterous. (Thanks, Roget.) Killing every creature on the board and refilling your hand so that you can’t help but recover faster than your opponent is probably the best draft ability fathomable, and eight mana isn’t too much for it. If you’re in danger of losing before then, just cycle it to Infest. You kill several of their creatures and draw a card. Cycle it mid-combat for even more fun. The likelihood of you losing a game in which you play this card (or even cycle it) is rather slim.
Fun Fact: One time, when an opponent played this card against Jeff Cunningham, he got so mad that he kicked a puppy down a flight of stairs.
2.Call to the Grave
This card is clearly not without its drawbacks. It’s unwieldy and a little on the slow side – I saw someone play this on turn 5 and still get overwhelmed by Glory Seekers and morphs. That said, if there’s any better ability than”kill all guys and draw a bunch of cards” it’s”your opponent’s creatures die but yours don’t.” In a deck with any measure of Zombies, particularly if supplemented by Mistforms, this card is a penalty only for your opponent and will stay in play indefinitely. If your opponent manages to bounce or kill all your creatures, he may be able to stay in the game by forcing the Call’s sacrifice, but the loss of cards and tempo may well be insurmountable. In a zombie deck, you’d rather have this than Decree of Pain, but they’re mutually exclusive (durr) and you really wouldn’t mind opening either one. Some of the pick orders could matter based on your zombie count, but those aren’t until just a bit further down the list.
Fun Fact: In a two-on-two money draft, Jeff Cunningham Scourge pack contained this card and fourGoblin Psychopaths. Jeff opted for Psychopath #6, claiming he wanted to make his teammate, Justin Polin,”squirm.”
Large evasion creatures are nice. Large evasion creatures with devastating abilities are nicer. This is truly a wonderful card, especially when it takes a little bit of thought to determine when to face-up and when to face-down. Ideally, you’ll be able to play this face-down, and when your hapless opponent swings with a morph, you flip it n’ reverse it, getting the casualty of the fight to do your bidding – face up, of course. Imagine if the creature in question is a Krosan Colossus or Titanic Bulvox. So essentially, you steal one of your opponent’s men and get a 3/4 flying black body. I think the Collector needs to be alive at the time the creature in question dies, so play accordingly. Obviously gets better the more swamps you have because of its triple-black morph cost.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham carries a pound of garlic in his pocket wherever he goes to ward off vampires.
The card that broke the mold. Barring a bomb, this is first pick material regardless of what color you’re playing. The catch is that in black, you would probably take the next two cards down the list if you have a strong zombie tribal element. Of course in black, you have the bonus of being able to play this face-up late game. Playing this turn 3 can swing any game in your favor. Even while you’re tapped out, even if you went second, you’ll be able to kill pretty much anything your opponent sends your way. If you think your opponent could conceivably have this, you could try to play around it, but that’s usually a losing proposition too. You just have to hope that the loss of five life will hurt your opponent as much as the loss of a creature and tempo hurt you. Good luck with that.
At least this isn’t that good in a nonblack deck in the late game. This definitely should have had an”if you control a swamp” clause as part of its morph cost.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham once faked a seizure to eke out the draw he needed to make day two in a Grand Prix.
I was discussing this pick with my friend Morgy recently, and he made some strong points in favor of picking this over Cutthroat in a zombie deck. First, as I knew, it’s bigger. Second, the loss of a card is easier to recoup with cards like Reaping the Graves or Cruel Revival than five life is. I’m sold.
With sufficient zombie-power, this is effectively a Hidden Horror – a 4/4 that comes down much earlier than comparably-sized men in any color. The fact that it changes from 2/2 to 4/4 out of nowhere for free is a bonus that is likely to make this creature kill as well as a large body. Sometime I hope I attack with this, before damage my opponent morphs in Cutthroat, then I trump by pitching a zombie. It’ll happen sooner or later, I’m sure.
Here’s a quick MODO concern: Whenever you are utterly tapped out, the game rushes right through the remainder of your phases since there’s nothing you can do. If you have a Cutthroat or Putrid Raptor out, you could theoretically pay its morph cost at any time, meaning that the game will stop on every one of your Stops, even thought you’re presumably tapped out. Wouldn’t your opponent be able to tell that you had a mana-free morph in play on the merits of you still hitting all the Stops – such as opponent’s upkeep – even while tapped out? Something to consider.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham once traded a Putrid Raptor to a sick child for a FoilFlooded Strand, but wouldn’t complete the trade until the child wrote him a thank-you note.
All the warchiefs are sick, sick individuals. The bonuses they provide to the creatures of a certain type that you, and only you, control, make game situations unfair for any adversary. These are sort of like enchantments, in that you’re hesitant to send them into combat, but they have the fragility of creatures. All in all, of course, it’s better that you get a dude out of the deal; they can attack and block; just be careful to gauge the effect all your zombies suddenly getting -2/-1 can have. Be wary of instant removal.
And for the love of God, don’t mana burn. Use this to your benefit. Play a 6/4 Twisted Abomination on turn 5, drop a Bladewing’s Thrall and a morph on turn 6, and so on.
Fun Fact: The Hall and Oates song”Man Eater” was inspired by Jeff Cunningham.
Here we have reached a tricky part of the list. Cards 7-11 are all very close, and I’m going to take the usual copout (well, it’s not really a copout if it’s true, and if a specific list order doesn’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things per se) of saying that what you take is deck-dependent.
If, for some reason, you have an abundance of removal by the time Scourge comes around, the Abomination moves up. The merits of Lingering Death are that it’s very cheap and kills just about anything. Its drawbacks include the fact that, if you play it on an untapped creature, you have the potential to fall behind a little in tempo, and more importantly, the fact that a well-placed enchantment-remover will prevent a creature’s death. Of course, attacking first when applicable will allow you to circumvent the former problem. They get One More Use out of whatever you put this on; hopefully, that won’t be too big of a deal. Removal is still good, especially cheap removal that kills Visara and Timberwatch Elves.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham killed a man in Reno once just to watch him die.
Ultimately, it was Aaron Cutler that helped convince me that this card belongs below Lingering Death (pronounced LIN-jur-ing DET). While it is instant speed and doesn’t give your opponent time for a final goodbye, the cost of removing creatures in your graveyard can be a nuisance. First, it can take a few turns for your graveyard to grow to appreciable size. Secondly, with cards like Reaping the Graves and Infernal Caretaker, you may want to save those creatures for later. Still, removal is removal, and removal is good.
I’m starting to sound like the end of”All Apologies” again – which is made all the more ironic by the fact that I used that metaphor before in one of my articles. Brilliant or lazy? You be the judge.
Fun Fact: At Grand Prix Philadelphia, Jeff Cunningham bought three bottles of Hershey’s Strawberry Syrup at a nearby Wal-Mart, then retreated to a hotel room accompanied by a pro in a tie-dyed shirt who shall remain anonymous.
On most days, when you tap six and don’t play a pit fighter, your opponent breathes a sigh of relief. No joyous exhalations for them if this is whatchu got in that case. There are very few ways to stop this card, creatures included, once it hits play. Even if the opponent somehow manages to kill it, black has a plethora of ways to get it back. They pretty much have to Carbonize it, Pacify it, or drop a Noble Templar and hope it’s good. It’s this low on the list because it’s so expensive for a mere creature that attacks and blocks, even if it is one of the best at what it does. But hey, that’s not all… If you’re shy on land, pitch this man and go look for a swamp, then bring him back later. It’s inSANity.
*confetti falls, slide whistle blows*
Ideally, you’ll be able to simply play this, but it’s nice that it’s so versatile. A solid first pick.
Fun Fact: When Jeff Cunningham wishes you good luck at the start of a match, he doesn’t really mean it.
Not quite as good as the a-bomb-ination in my opinion, since it doesn’t landcycle or regenerate. Its ability is not to be sneezed at, of course, since it wipes out x/1s on contact and makes blocking a nightmare. It is six mana for a three-toughness creature, but it’s a good color and a good tribe with a solid special ability – so like the Abomination, it’s not a disappointing first pick. Bear in mind that you cannot give a single creature multiple -1/-1s. This brings back Dragon Shadow, too. Ooooooooh.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham is in a tree outside your window this very moment with a pair of binoculars and some baby oil.
11.Clutch of Undeath
This is a testament to the depth of Scourge black. It’s a removal spell that doubles as a huge pair of pants for one of your zombies, and it doesn’t quite make the top ten? Yeesh.
It is a little slow, I guess. And you have to be careful about putting this on morphs, because a Zombie Cutthroat or other zombie could be waiting in the wings to pee on your parade. The concept of”tempo” has been described as a few things. Sometimes, it’s used when a player has speed advantage and a good mana curve, and the other is on the ropes. I think Eric Taylor’s definition involves the relative amounts of mana used by each player. Hence, by edt’s definition, this is a poor tempo card, since your five mana will often kill something that cost your opponent less. It still kills a guy, though. And sometimes a 5/5 Severed Legion might…go…all…the…way!!! Unless, of course, it’s a fish.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham doesn’t own a toothbrush.
I haven’t seen this card in action, but I have a pretty good idea of its merits. It’s strong, but slow. It’s an incredibly powerful late game card, and in the midgame, the threat of its use can make combat a headache for your opponent. You can hypothetically use its ability on itself to make it permanently grow, but it’s unlikely there won’t be a juicier target. Either way, you don’t get much better than this card in DC-10, am I wrong?
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham once slapped the Pope.
13.Reaping the Graves
This is a truly amazing card, but I have a hard time taking it over removal. You will usually get back your two best creatures, regardless of tribe, sometime during your opponent’s turn. Even though it’s perhaps the best graveyard retrieval spell (short of Living Death) ever printed for Limited, it’s still situational; it’s dependent on you having creatures in your graveyard that are worth getting back. This won’t happen until later in the game, so it’s not best to see it in your opening hand. This moves up the list depending on need.
As I’ve said, since Scourge is the last set, you’ll have a good idea of what holes you need to fill. If you have a decent amount of removal but no Raise Dead effects, consider taking this much earlier. I think I would almost always want one of these for my black decks (but not, say, three), so plan your draft accordingly. It’s an interesting situation…how highly you take this depends on how highly other people regard it. You don’t take it”early and often” as you would a Timberwatch Elf, but as I said, one is always welcome.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham may or may not be the”Outbreak monkey” of the recent SARS epidemic.
Halfway down the list and we’re still in the money cards. Every time one of your men is going to die, this gets bigger. It’s good at any point in the game, and it’s like a miniature version of the beloved Husk, with all the associated Symbiotic tricks. It’s nice to have another quality early drop; it supplements Festering Goblin and Goblin Turncoat nicely. Its cost also helps in playing multiple zombies in a turn to create a bigger effect with Noxious Ghoul. Mise tings beats and gas.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham sleeps with a teddy bear.
While it may look like a four-drop that trades with any random three-drop, its ability should not be overlooked. It makes blocking impossible for opponents who think they’ve stabilized at a low life total. And, well, that’s about it for this guy. It attacks, it blocks, your opponent loses a few life. In a dedicated zombie deck with all the trimmings, like Shepherd of Rot and Embalmed Brawler, this can help push your opponent’s life total slightly below yours for the kill.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham is the overseer at a sweatshop calledMishra’s Factory-Winter.
The Thrall is this low assuming you have no Mistforms or dragons. In most cases, the extra toughness isn’t enough to make it better than Vengeful Dead, considering that its abilities will rarely come into play. It’s still a four-mana 3/3 zombie. Compare Scourge black to Legions red. In Legions red, four-mana, essentially vanilla 3/3s rounded out the top 10; in this color and pack, the same type of creature is nowhere near the top of the list. Talk about depth. As I mentioned, if you have Mistforms to give this flying, give this a higher priority than most cards outside the top 10.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham doesn’t rewind.
We’re familiar with the merits of three-mana, two-power fliers, yes? All things considered, I think the Buzzard’s death ability is a drawback. Black has some low-toughness creatures, like Shepherd and Smokespew Invoker, that can make the global -1/-1 quite a liability. The effect is not optional, so removal spells can wipe out your whole squad if you’re not careful. It’s not a zombie, and if you’re not heavy black, the double black in the casting cost can be somewhat prohibitive. But let’s not get crazy. It’s still a freaking 2/1 flier. It trades straight up with opposing 3/3s. And if you have ways to control when it dies, like Nantuko Husk or Infest, it gets that much better.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham is Canadian.
Yet another solid black card, this is better once you’ve established some sort of board position – in other words, don’t go crazy stripping your opponent’s hand while they beat you senseless with morphs. In the late game, your opponent’s hand will be forced, which isn’t too shabby, but you probably won’t get too many cards with it. Much like the Hollow Specter, though, if they don’t get rid of it, they’re not going to be able to win. And it’s a zombie and a wizard, etc.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham keeps a copy of The Catcher in the Rye and a letter to Jodie Foster with him at all times.
I wasn’t too impressed by this card the first time I saw it, and I’m still not, but there are people who swear by it. Regardless of its actual power, with all black’s other strong cards, it’s not that early of a pick. Once your life total has dwindled into the single digits, any activation of this can put you in danger of fliers or burn. In the early game, though, you can make up for the loss of life by pumping the bajeebers out of an evasion creature, having your foe’s life total more dwindle more quickly than yours. Also, like most instant-speed on-the-board pump, the threat of its activation can serve as a deterrent; you may not actually have to pay any life for this card to serve a purpose. It would be a shame, though, if you paid six life to make your Severed Legion a 4/4, only to have it Echo Traced. What are your opinions on this card? Let me know in e-mail or the forums.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham gets paid $1,000 per article.
The Shadow makes a fine replacement for Dirge of Dread if you didn’t happen to pick any up. You probably want three six-drops or more to maximize its effectiveness, hence it is at its best in green/black. This is one of the color combinations that is most likely to suffer from lack of evasion anyway. Even though it is a lowly creature enchantment, there’s no shame in maindecking one of these, especially if it comes back into play on your Twisted Abomination or Nefashu.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham and Patrick Higgins are actually the same person.
Since it cycles, this is of course never a totally dead card, but you’d prefer this in a deck where casting it is an attractive option. Ideally, you play it so it strips the last two or two of the last three cards from your opponent’s hand. It’s not exactly an optimum turn 3 play. You can put this as filler in any deck, but it’s probably best in a black-based aggressive deck that could potentially fall behind in the late game.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham dots his i’s with little hearts.
Here’s another symmetrical card whose”fairness” you’d have to exploit in some way before you put it in your deck. It could be, as with Unburden, a fast deck who needs some kick to stifle the late game. It could simply be a deck with a handful of regenerators. Either way, make sure you’re in a position where it’s very unlikely you’ll be skipping a turn. You don’t want an opponent to Carbonize your only man and drop a Twisted Abomination. This is, to take advantage of an overused magic term (perish the thought) a”win-more” card, and thus isn’t too impressive.
Fun Fact: At Grand Prix: Pittsburgh, when his opponent Mikey P wasn’t looking, Jeff Cunningham nudged Pustilnik’s Lethal Vapors into his graveyard without skipping a turn. MikeyP got confused and insisted on skipping his own turn, giving game and match to Cunningham.
23.Tendrils of Agony
A glorified Syphon Soul, the Tendrils shouldn’t be included in the maindeck unless it’s on the janky side already and this will give you an opportunity to steal a win. You’ll want to storm this at least once before you consider playing it – and since it’s a sorcery, that could take awhile. Simply put, this as an ordinary card, an ordinary play, but ordinary’s just not good enough today.* I did win a game with this card once, though. I Unified Struck one of my own attackers, Astral Steeled another, and my opponent Inspirited, resulting in a giant eight-point life Drain Life post-combat.
Fun Fact: Anton Jonsson, like a modern-day Samson, may have lost a great deal of his formidable powers.
While Punishment is a powerful spell, its applications seem limited. Unless you played some form of creature pump, wouldn’t you just have enough damage to finish your opponent off next turn? And depending on what pump you have, might it not be tough to play both spells on the same turn? If you have enough mana to do that, you’re fairly solidified in the midgame. This means your opponent has defenses set up, unless you were going to win anyway. What I’m getting at is the narrow window for this to be worthwhile. If your opponent’s going to kill you next turn but you could have otherwise killed him the turn after, or your opponent is about to take control of the game and you need to make a last-ditch effort. I like my last-ditch efforts to be less conditional, like Mr. Flesh or even Mr. Tendrils.
Fun Fact: Last month, Jeff Cunningham lost all his child support money at the horse tracks.
This card reads”Play only on a face-down creature. That creature becomes a Glory Seeker, unless its controller has the mana to flip it up in response.” That doesn’t seem worth a card. It’s a killer kombo with Break Open, though. Durr.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham frequently takes-a-penny, but he has not once in his life given-a-penny.
Skulltap just doesn’t do enough for the cost of a creature. Even in the late game, on a board stall, you’re still only replacing the Skulltap and whatever you sacrifice. It’s not card advantage unless you sac a pacified man. But hey, I’m spending far too much time discussing this turd. I bet ffeJ will break this like he did Trickery Charm, though. Durr.
(How many”durrs” is too many? Discuss.)
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham mom dresses him funny.
This probably still sucks in multiplayer. A solid contender in the race for Worst Card Ever, with Wood Elemental and other such luminaries.
Fun Fact: Jeff Cunningham doesn’t like you.
As always, thank you for your time. And Sweden, please reconsider. Before I roll the credits, I present to you the first in what may be many…
Here is where I keep you up-to-date with the musings of one Ryan Golden, a troubled yet brilliant mind from Florida.** His opinions do not reflect my own.
Today, Ryan would like to address some points on team season.
First, how many of you have seen Katuhiro Mori’s MODO profile? It says that his team for the team Pro Tour will be himself, Kai Budde, and a mystery third whom he addresses only as”skirge.” Well, Ryan would like to come out of the closet and make known the fact that”skirge” is his alter ego. Since Ryan shares the high-profile crovax69 account with longtime friend Paul Artl, and since Kai’s and Katsuhiro’s accomplishments speak for themselves, expect big things out of these three in Boston this fall.
I’d still like to know what happened with Marco Blume and Dirk Baberowski? I thought Kai was tight with those two. Who knows?
Ryan has issued a statement about the team”Where Are They Now?” He says that its members are”obviously delusional” and should be”committed,” as they actually believe they were once”famous.”
Furthermore, he would like to say that the team of”Set Eisel Free” should clearly all be shot on the spot.
This concludes RyanG’s Corner for this week.
and THAT’S the way it iiiiiiiisssss!!!!
The Scum of the Earth
* – Miseroo for you if you caught the Our Lady Peace reference.
** – Yes, Ryan Golden is a real person. I’ve mentioned him in previous articles.