Unleash The Power…

When I asked a fellow player recently,”Do you mind if I play you with a totally broken deck that’s illegal in all formats?” he was intrigued and said no. When he saw that it wasn’t High Tide or Replenish, he was even more interested – and I got to show him the joy of complete and utter insanity.

Wow, it feels good to be writing again! Sparing you the enigmatic and ineffable details of my mysterious two-month disappearance, I’m jumping into this new year hoping for a 2003 full of Magical excitement!

One of the events that transpired over the past couple months is that I’ve determined to have a lot more fun with Magic. I haven’t had too much time to go to tournaments recently, and most of my Magic games have been just for fun. Although I have a competitive deck or two for each format, the other twenty decks in my collection are for fun purposes only! (And, yes, I find Reanimator fun, not competitive – especially my version.) For example, I have an eight-land Stompy deck that’s legal only in Type I (a format in which I do not participate), a Suicide Black/Hatred deck brimming with four Dark Rituals, and a Standard deck rife with hugeness from Onslaught like Jareth, Leonine Titan and Arcanis the Omnipotent. As you can see, I’ve a deck for every mood, be I ready to crush face or hope to survive ’til turn 20.

But by far, my favorite deck of all is Blaze Bargain. It’s been my favorite deck ever since I placed in the Top 8 with it even after facing down a scary Permission deck. What I always loved about it was that it was good but not too good, and it involved a lot of math. Interactions with Renounce, cheap artifacts, and Yawgmoth’s Will always kept my brain ticking away, and I loved that. That Permission deck was my most exciting matchup, trying to go off twice, using Yawgmoth’s Will only after my first Blaze was countered. (Stupid Rewind.) Although Soul Feast (Saber) Bargain would have been better in that situation, I’m still glad I got to play that matchup because I managed to create, out of necessity, 40RR on Turn 4. Nice, no?

Nice, yes. So nice, in fact, that, despite the fact that it’s legal in no format whatsoever nowadays, I put the deck back together just for kicks. And what kicks! With precaution of”rules” thrown to the wind, I also added in four Demonic Tutors and made the win condition Kaervek’s Torch instead of Blaze. Additionally, I’ve added a single Words of Worship to the deck to supply a”Discard a card: Gain four life” feature, which is ba-roken beyond belief. Winning is a cinch now, and the current reason for having the deck at such a powerful level is to see just how much mana I can win with. I don’t even really need an opponent – as a matter of fact, I rarely find one.

For those of you interested in following suit in my Blaze of glory (get it?), here’s the decklist I’m currently using:

4x Dark Ritual

4x Grim Monolith

4x Voltaic Key

4x Tooth of Ramos

2x Claws of Gix

4x Academy Rector

3x Renounce

1x Words of Worship

4x Demonic Tutor

3x Yawgmoth’s Bargain

2x Skirge Familiar

2x Yawgmoth’s Will

1x Heart of Ramos

1x Kaervek’s Torch

4x Phyrexian Tower

4x Peat Bog

4x Remote Farm

2x City of Brass

2x Plains

5x Swamp

So, what’s the point, you ask? If your deck is illegal and you rarely find opponents, why do you have it? Because, oh thinker of common thoughts, it’s fun.

When I asked a fellow player recently,”Do you mind if I play you with a totally broken deck that’s illegal in all formats?” he was intrigued and said no. When he saw that it wasn’t High Tide or Replenish, he was even more interested – apparently, he’d never seen Bargain do its thing. So, not only did I get that rush created by generating tons of mana and life, but he got a thoroughly unique playing experience. Additionally, when I’m waiting for my unbearably slow computer to defreeze or find its way online, I can occupy myself by seeing just how much I can Torch for or how high my life total can be with a twenty-point shot to the face on the way.

Now, although I love to challenge myself that way, there’s another excellent reason for having built this deck (and for you to consider following a similar course). The final nail in the coffin of my previous devotion to legal decks was one of my friends. For over a year, he’s had a sick red deck that’s illegal even in Type I. He always has fun playing it, and he almost always (and I do mean almost always) wins with it. So, now he’s got a losable matchup. Since I haven’t had Bargain very long, we’ve only played three games with this matchup, so my 2/3 win record is not exceptional. But my 3/3 having-fun record is… And I look forward both to deflating his red balloon and him deflating my black one whenever we need some cool-down time in a session of casual Magic.

So what does this have to do with you? Well, first I’d suggest that you take a look at why, exactly, you play Magic. Do you play for the thrill of winning tournaments, crushing all opposition before you? I have the feeling that the placement of this article under the”casual” heading probably means that if this describes you, it does so by accident. No, I’d wager that you play Magic because it’s fun – because you have a chance to interact with your friends and engage in social activity while stimulating both the intellectual and pleasurable parts of your mind. Personally, I play Magic more for the long rows of varying casual matchups on”Magic days” than for the tournaments I play in. It’s getting to the point where I almost hope that eight people don’t show up on Sundays so that we can play multiplayer Chaos instead of a Standard tournament (though this might have something to do with my lack of tournament-worthy, complete Standard decks).

If you’re like me (and I think, at least in part, you are), then your casual play would appreciate some illegal spice. Even if you don’t build a degenerate combo deck (I happen to believe that Bargain is not degenerate, but there are plenty of people who disagree with me), you could build something else just as illegal. If you like the ability to kill any player at any time, you can build a deck like my friend’s that, with burn like Lightning Bolt and Fireblast (along with Wheels of Fortune to keep you speedy and Strip Mines to slow down your opponent), can wreck a weak player at the twitch of an eye. Or, you could build some kind of creature-based deck (Slivers, anyone) for play when your friend/s isn’t/aren’t playing something particularly good. Of course, you could play a deck like my Ancestral Tribute/Test of Endurance deck that never wins but looks like it could! Whatever floats your fancy, go for it – and, if you like Demonic Tutor or Lotus Petal, go for that as well! So long as your friends allow it, fun’s the key. And, if you don’t own any of these cards, I’d suggest proxies; I’m a huge fan of proxies, and I believe that there’s no reason not to play with them.

The point is that nothing can stop a playgroup determined to have fun. Now, go: Make some proxies and put together the deck you’ve always wanted to play. In the meantime… Remote Farm. Peat Bog, Grim Monolith, Voltaic Key. Academy Rector, Phyrexian Tower, fun fun fun!

Daniel Crane

[email protected]