HOW RIZZO INSPIRES THE WRONG PEOPLE
Why is it that every time I read one of Rizzo’s articles, I feel ashamed that I’m not writing pages upon pages of Magic commentary each afternoon? After reading "Chime In If I’m Talkin’ To You," I suddenly realized that it had been two weeks since I had written, and I felt guilty. Heh. Lemme discourse on this for a moment, and then I’ll be on to new ground.
The concept that Net Writers ™ must have done something grandiose with their Magical career in order to matter in the grand scheme of things is hokey. My grandma could write compelling Magic articles, and she’s just now discovering how good Fact or Fiction is. For every Darwin Kastle and Michelle Bush that contributes out there, there’s thirty or forty non-Pro writers who are being published on the Net. Folks shouldn’t be concentrating on what writers have or haven’t done, but on what they MIGHT do in the future. No one knows if Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar is gonna be the next Jon Finkel. He might. Mary van Tyne may end up quitting Magic to model shoes. The Ferrett might win PT: Barcelona and go on the hugest gravy train upset streak since Cornelissen. Rizzo might drink himself into obscurity. But what these guys and girls are saying NOW still MATTERS.
I will be the first to admit that I used to be on the other side of the fence. There are still a lot of writers who I don’t get. I can’t even read Tony Boydell, probably because I can’t figure out exactly what he’s trying to say. I earned the Super Mad-On Guy nickname in an unpublicized and haughty tirade against Deranged Dad. The truth of the matter is, these guys have their place in Net Writer society. Even writers who get you mad get you THINKING. And that’s why we’re here – it’s not to spoon-feed you decklists; it’s to get your melons processing data so you can become a better player. If something I personally write sends you outta your mind, and you write me a ten-page rebuttal, then we’re both thinking and writing, and that’s good for both of us.
HIPPO: GIANT PURPLE LIFEGIVER
I have seen the light, and have been saved.
Looking back up at the top of the page, it’s actually been longer since I’ve written. It’s because I’m playing again. Now my Magic time is actually spent putting little pieces of cardboard in little pieces of plastic, turning them sideways when necessary. And I have the giant flying purple hippo to thank for it.
As detailed in less detail in my last diatribe, I have been down on Magic for a bit. One can only THINK so much without DOING, and I was doing a lot of thinking and very little doing. Since then I have pulled out of the tailspin, found a place near my house to play on Monday and Friday nights, and have once again discovered the joy that only cracking a thirteen-year-old in the skull with Blastoderms can provide.
So let me go back to the Hippo part. I actually built the deck you saw in my last column, which is something of a rarity. I’m not on the JMS level in that I actually HAVE cards, but it’s only rare occasions (like when I’m testing for a Constructed event) that I actually build decks to play.
I built the Hippo, and it was good.
Using two Prerelease Hippos, no less. It was the only deck I took with me. A new Arena season was starting that night, and it was Type Two goodness on that particular night as well. I have to admit that I was a little trepidacious (if indeed I can be trepidacious, my spellchecker says ‘(no spelling suggestions)’) because I had no idea what kind of play level would be happening. So I paid my fee, found a game, and relaxed a little bit more once I played my first Hippo. For some reason, the guy I was playing (Joe Amato) was loving the idea of getting pounded into the ground by a flying hippo. Two or three people came to watch as I continued to send over the Hippo through the air, avoiding the Hippo Token Ground Defense System that I had been setting up for him. And once I’d finished off Joe in a couple games, there was always someone to take the seat opposite me to try their hand against the now-what-could-be-considered-infamous Hippo.
That was seven weeks ago; it HAS been a long time since I’ve written. And I’m still playing the deck, although it has been tweaked and re-tweaked through various incarnations. I took a version of it to their Friday night Grand Melee, enhanced with Avatars of Might, as numerous readers suggested, and had a blast.
The Hippo is medicinal. Not medicinal like grandma’s joint rub, medicinal like that cup of tea that your mom always made you when you were sick. No real healing elements, but you sure felt better nonetheless. I will always keep a copy of Hippo built, because it is a good friend and a great pick-me-up.
I started out playing Merfolk quite a while ago, back when the deck was called Frozen Fish and we still had access to Winter Orb. When Invasion came out and we all started prepping for States, I took a look at Brian Schneider’s three-color Fish deck and included it into my playtest gauntlet because it fit a mold that had been missing up until that point. It wasn’t until later that grandma showed me how aggro-control was REALLY supposed to be played when she whipped out that Counter-Rebel deck. But the Fish have been lingering in the back of my mind, and I’ve been tinkering around with three different builds:
U/B with discard effects and black creature removal
U/W with Meddling Mage
What U/B gives: Vodalian Zombie ain’t no slouch against Fires. Sleeper’s Robe provides another form of evasion in case the Lord isn’t on the table. Undermine, Lobotomy, Recoil, and Probe (does anyone ever cast it without kicker?) form up the basis for the discard and control.
What U/B/W gives: A more aggressive selection of Merfolk, as you have eight 2/2s for two and have to rely less on beating down with Thieves and Pearl Tridents. The best of both worlds?
All three decks revolve around the same base of cards:
That’s not a lot to go on. The Pearl Tridents are there because, basically, I miss good 1cc merfolk. What the heck ever happened to merfolk like Manta Riders or Tidal Warriors? Why can’t I be getting one of those back in Seventh instead of Merfolk Looters?
Bruised Fish v1.0
The black mana is in heavy demand (25 cards) and so the extra swamps are necessary. The Jolting Merfolk are a nice alternative to black removal, and can get the armies in past pesky pro-black defenders. And cast Lobotomy probably as soon as you can, with little regard for even using the Thief’s ability instead. You will always pick off something. I’ve picked off Urza’s Rages, Blazing Specters, and Blastoderms. There is no excuse for not Lobotomizing when possible. It’s just fun.
Summer Sky Fish v1.0
The need for the white mana is less here, with only fifteen cards needing white mana. The targeted options in this color-combo are slim, and so it relies on the Wash Out and the Meddling Mage to clear the board. There’s not a lot of top-heavy casting-cost guys to cast beyond the Wash Out, and so it’s okay to cut back on the land a little.
Melting Pot Fish v1.0
The switchover to Power Sinks was inevitable, since we’re increasing the chances of having blue and white mana on the table, and an Undermine in hand, or vice versa. Merfolk Looters would actually help this one. *snicker* One final option with the Merfolk deck is to keep it mono-blue and through in Rising Waters:
With these four possible builds, the next question will likely be, "Do any of them work?" Dunno. I like the three-colored version, I like U/B black version, but do any of the versions do what they want to do better than Skies or Counter-Rebel? Only the next few weeks can reveal the truth.
ANTHONY ALONGI OWES ME A RARE
… or at least I think so. I was actually testing out an IBC deck that won with Coalition Victory. It was only average – probably Tier-Two, having seen some of the degenerate builds that are running around nowadays. But it was a heckuva lot of fun to play, and actually winning that one time with the Victory was a nice touch.
The thing was, oftentimes I’d find that I could get out a couple of fliers early, back them up with a Chameleon, and do enough damage in the air that I didn’t need to cast the Victory. Well-Laid Plans is golden in this deck, as you can shift the colors of your blockers to keep them alive ad infinitum. Collective Restraint also gives you plenty of time to set up for the Victory. However, I did find a lot of spots where the Victory would get Undermined. But it is a Victory deck, an Invasion Constructed one at that, and one that has actually worked as well.
And I didn’t rely on any degenerate combos to do it, either.
The world ends as I start looking at the topic no one is touching: Team Sealed Qualifiers. I’ll also probably riffle through the results from PT: Tokyo and see what happened out there, since the amount of things that are not yet known about IBC could fill a double-wide. Until then, everyone keep safe and have a happy Halloween.
Dave Meeson, Super Mad-On Guy