Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #178 – Catching Up

The Ultimate Extended Tournament took far longer than I thought. Even though I was stuck in the past, the world moved on. I’ll fast-forward my way through a recap, but I have a lot to catch up on: City Champs. Vintage. Future Sight. Magic Online. The scarcity of PTQs. And more.

The Ultimate Extended Tournament took far longer than I thought. Even though I was stuck in the past, the world moved on. I’ll fast-forward my way through a recap, but I have a lot to catch up on: City Champs. Vintage. Future Sight. Magic Online. The scarcity of PTQs. And more.

The Green Thing

It was amusing to read Mike Flores, in effect, debating Jamie Wakefield about the value of Green. I know which side of that debate my sympathies lie. I’m with Wakefield. Yes, you can get nice effects and shadings if you mix your Green with other colors, but I’m upset that Green doesn’t get much of anything solely to itself. The sharing motif is generally a “skill tester,” (although it can, in rare cases, be a combo enabler.) Mana acceleration and color fixing used to be a Green thing – now they are more commonly provided via artifacts (Wayfarer’s Bauble, Journeyer’s Kite, Signets, Terramorphic Expanse, etc.), and Green is getting fewer and fewer important accelerants. (Hunting Wilds much?)

Two months ago, a lot of people were pointing at Mono-Green Aggro and arguing that it meant something. My response was that MGA was only good because too many people were playing Dralnu.

You know, if you keep talking long enough, eventually you will say something relevant, or even pithy. The trick is to just ignore the rest.

Green needs to do something besides having the best mid-sized vanilla creatures.

I think one quote sums up the whole debate, however. Brian Schneider, of Wizard’s R&D, said it best in his Ask Wizards answer of May 20, 2002.

I don’t understand why we make good Green cards so I can’t really comment on that. To me, all good Green cards are R&D mistakes.

You can’t argue with Wizards – they make the cards.


I will get to play this year. The TO has enough judges.

I have been working on various decks – but I imagine my gauntlet is pretty much like everyone else’s. Personally, however, I prefer a wide-open format, with a lot of viable decks. I like to be able to enter a format where I can expect to play a half dozen different decks / strategies / archetypes in a single tournament. For me, it’s more interesting to build a deck for that sort of tournament than to spend my time tweaking Slide to beat MBA.

I mainly read StarCityGames.com and the Mothership at the moment, and it is interesting to see how much MTGO influences the metagame articles (for Standard and Extended, at least) at those sites. Right now, with Future Sight a couple weeks away, the metagame is, in effect, on hold. Future Sight release events will continue right through Regionals weekend. We won’t have an online Top 8 to help define the metagame – but looking at how well the “all White Weenie Top 8” foreshadowed the Pro Tour: Yokohama meta, that might not be a bad thing.

I mention MTGO because of one solid deck that simply does not work online due to the nature of its combo. I’m talking about Project X, the G/W/B combo deck that features Crypt Champion, Saffi Eriksdotter, and Essence Warden. I have tweaked that deck a little, and added Bitter Ordeal. I have had a number of opponents rely on killing the Essence Warden in response to the Crypt Champion being cast, and they were a bit surprised when I ran the Saffi / Champion loops thirty times, then Gravestormed away their decks. Bitter Ordeal can also be a decent answer to some of the control decks with a limited number of win condition, even if you don’t combo first. Just burning out Walls of Roots and so forth can often fire off a couple copies at least.

Yes, it’s a too-many card combo, and yes, it does take splash damage from all the anti-dredge graveyard hate, but Project X is pretty solid on its own, and it is relatively unexpected. Or was. Probably still is. Craig could probably tell me how many people read my stuff, but I really don’t want to know.

Where Have All the PTQs Gone?

This current PTQ season, we had no PTQs at all in the state. In past years, we have had several within Wisconsin in the same season, as well as multiples in neighboring states. This year, we have had two within “driving distance.”

I define “driving distance” as 600 miles round trip – 300 each way. Three hundred miles is a killer after a playing a long tournament, but I’ve done that. I won’t drive further.

It seems like Wizards is cutting back on the total number of qualifiers everywhere. First they cut down on the number of Pro Tours, now they are reducing the number of qualifiers for those events. Is that because the payout – plane tickets – is higher? I hope not.

The number of Grand Prix trials also seems to be way down as well.

Wizards, please change that. We need more entry-level tournaments, or players will start shifting to Spoils.


I’m addicted to MTGO. As much as I love playing Magic in person, I find myself playing MTGO far more often. I live in the farm belt, and by the time I get home from work, run the dogs, and get dinner, it’s often 7pm or later. That’s often not enough time to drive the half hour back to a store or a friends, play, then head home again – at least not when you get up for work at 5:30am.

It is enough time for some MTGO.

If I wake up early, I can often play on MTGO for a while, at a time when no friends would be willing to get up and play.

MTGO has had some problems, though. As I understand it, the code for non-game transactions, including everything from trade to chat to other issues, was apparently not written in a way that would allow it to be shared between servers. As a result, if that server crashes, it takes the whole system down.

Now, after a long, long wait, it looks like the next version of MTGO may actually exist. It is in public beta at the moment. I have not had time in the last three weeks to do much with it, but the fact that it actually exists is promising.

I just hope it works.

Hulk Flash

I’m amused by this whole thing. I would probably be less amused if I were planning on playing in Columbus, or playing Legacy seriously after Summoner’s Pact and Future Sight are legal in the format, but I’m not. I can just sit back and watch people do their best Chicken Little impersonations.

Legacy is a 10,000 card format. It will have broken decks. Goblins is too fast. Combo is too good. Hulk Flash is even more "too good." Deal with it.

The format may come down to Hulk Flash, decks that eat Hulk Flash for breakfast but lose to everything else, decks that roll over to Hulk Flash but crush everything else, and decks that can deal with all of them – if they get lucky. Then it all comes down to matchups.

Like any other format.

I tried this out online, since I have three copies of Flash and two Phyrexian Marauders – from back when I played Mirage Limited – and only a couple of Tutors. My build was inconsistent – but it proved far worse than that in action. It turns out that, on MTGO, Flash still works like it did last month. I did manage the turn 1 upkeep Flash, revealing the one Protean Hulk I own, and when I did not pay, it went straight to the graveyard.

So, will Wizards fix Flash on MTGO before they reissue the errata? (Yes, I know they will only ban or keep, but “will they fix it before they ban it" isn’t as funny.)

City Champs

I’m tied for 50th in our “local” City Champs. I find that amusing.

I have showed up for four City Champ tournaments. Two were sanctioned.

Wizards, like a lot of people that live on the coasts, does not seem to understand that there is a whole lot of land in the Heartland.

Our City Champs covers Madison, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee, and Greenfield, and Sheboygan. Those cities are not really close. I used to drive from my parents house near Sheboygan to college in Madison. I used to be able to make that drive in under two hours, but then I used to have a car that did over 100mph, and was stupid enough to drive that way. Now I’m paying my own insurance, and I bought my cars based on gas mileage and reliability, and they are boring.

A digression: I have a farm. I use my pickup to haul feed, pull fence-posts, and carry lumber. I have a four-cylinder, two-wheel-drive pickup. It does everything I need it to. My co-workers, here at the office, live in the city, and drive F250s and four-wheel-drive Suburbans. You can fit my whole pickup in their glove compartments.

Gas was selling for $3.29 a gallon this morning. I just laugh.

Maybe a couple times a year, we will have a bad snow storm. The roads will be bad. In my experience, monstrously big SUVs just wind up further off the road when they spin out, but let’s assume I’m wrong, and that their big 4WDs will get them the to the office through the blizzard. My little 2WD won’t. If a big blizzard comes, I’ll have to stay home with the dogs and play MTGO.

Sure, I miss the Olds 454 Rocket engine, and doing donuts in the old Chevy with the reworked towing package that went from 0-60 in about ten feet – although that car topped out at 80mph or so, and got 10mpg on a good day. The point is, however, that Madison to Sheboygan is a three-hour drive, once you factor in rush hour. That’s a lot, especially when they schedule the tournaments on weeknights. I had trouble enough getting to the Madison events, because one store was starting those at 5:30pm – and I’m rarely out of the office by then.

Whoops – I just reread this last. The ratio of Magic tech to non-Magic tales is dropping towards Wakefieldian levels – and I’m not Jamie.

The result of having City Champs that spread out, combined with the failure of one store to advertise the events, was that some of the events didn’t have eight players. We played round robin, and I won prizes, but I got no points. I did play in one sanctioned draft. That one had eight players – and it had exactly eight players.


I have an Eternal rating. I played in a couple Vintage tournaments, back when it was called Type One. I would love to play in more often. I even have the cards. Unfortunately, I have had conflicts during the very few tournaments that have been held around here in the last couple years. Then, miracle of miracles, I was actually free to play in a sanctioned, local Vintage event.

This was late January – like I said, this article is all about catching up.

I haven’t had much time to play Vintage for a while. I checked out the StarCityGames.com archives to see what the metagame was like. I read much of Stephen Menendian stuff, so I had some idea, but checking out decklists also helps.

Here’s what I played, which was not that far off of a recent Battle for the Power decklist.


4 Wasteland
3 Gemstone Mine
2 City of Brass
3 Volcanic Island
1 Strip Mine
3 Mishra’s Workshop
1 Barbarian Ring
1 Academy Ruins
1 Tolarian Academy

1 Gorilla Shaman
1 Triskelion
1 Sundering Titan
1 Pentavus (should this be Triskelavus)
1 Duplicant
1 Platinum Angel
3 Juggernaut
1 Masticore
4 Goblin Welder
1 Karn, Silver Golem

4 Force of Will
3 Thirst For Knowledge
2 Intuition
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Tinker

3 Crucible Of Worlds
2 Gilded Lotus
1 Mindslaver
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring

2 Pyroclasm
2 Fire / Ice
1 Memnarch
2 Jester’s Cap
2 Seal of Cleansing
2 Swords to Plowshares
3 Red Elemental Blast
1 Phyrexian Furnace

Vintage players always talk about how their format is innovating and changing, but also about how, once you invest in a Vintage deck, that investment lasts. I guess that’s true. For comparison, here’s the deck I played at Gencon in 2001. The notes are for cards I didn’t then own.

“Stacker 2: The World’s Strongest Fat Burner”

10 Mountain
4 Mishra’s Workshop (shortage made up with Mishra’s Factories)
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Mishra’s Factory
2 Moxen (down 3 from build)
1 Grim Monolith
1 Black Vise
3 Cursed Scroll
1 Sol Ring
1 Black Lotus Mana Vault
1 Grim Monolith
1 Memory Jar
4 Goblin Welder
4 Juggernaut
4 Su-Chi
2 Masticore
1 Karn, Silver Golem
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Incinerate
4 Blood Moon
2 Null Brooch
1 Wheel of Fortune

4 Red Elemental Blast
3 Ghitu Fire
3 Anarchy
3 Viashino Heretic
1 Cursed Scroll
1 Black Vise
2 Null Brooch

How times change.

Ah, those were the days. I found the original (electronic) notes for that tournament. The plan was to look for the missing cards. According to my notes, eBay prices for Mishra’s Workshops were $16-$28. Su-Chi were $2.50 or so. Ingrid and I did both buy Black Loti that year. Ingrid paid $180 for hers. Mine was a little more tattered, but I only paid $145.

Round 1:

I won the die roll. I opened with Mox, Workshop, Juggernaut, Welder. My opponent played a Plains, then a Savannah Lions. I played a Volcanic Island, Sol Ring, Thirst for Knowledge discarding Triskelion, welded the Sol Ring for Triskelion, killed the Lions and beat. He played a Boros Garrison.

Yes, Boros Garrison. He explained that he only owned three Sacred Foundries and two Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forges[/author], so he played Garrisons.

In his Standard-legal Boros deck.

Yes, I won that one. I also finished second in the tournament, losing 2-1 to a Storm deck after I double mulliganed in game 3.

Did I mention that we got five players? Yes, it was an early City Champs event, and the Five-Color crowd – the only people that owned power – didn’t show. The rest were apparently scared to compete without power.

I always feel bad when I beat up unpowered decks with my Vintage monster. And I had really given it the full bling-bling treatment (mainly because my judge foils are easier to find than the normal cards lurking somewhere in the piles of white boxes.

Pricing it out:

4 Wasteland (MINT JUDGE FOIL) $100
3 Gemstone Mine (MINT JUDGE FOIL) $120
2 City of Brass (MINT JUDGE FOIL) $50
3 Volcanic Island (French and German BB) $300
1 Strip Mine (Antiquities) $7
3 Mishra’s Workshop $600
1 Barbarian Ring $2
1 Academy Ruins $2.50
1 Tolarian Academy (Japanese) $25+

1 Gorilla Shaman $1
1 Triskelion (foreign BB) $7.50
1 Sundering Titan $4
1 Pentavus $1
1 Duplicant $1.50
1 Platinum Angel (Korean) $12.50
3 Juggernaut (WB German) $9+
1 Masticore (German) $10
4 Goblin Welder $50
1 Karn, Silver Golem (MINT DCI FOIL) $15

4 Force of Will $80
3 Thirst For Knowledge (foreign or foil) $30
2 Intuition (MINT JUDGE FOIL) $90
1 Ancestral Recall (NM, but white bordered) $450
1 Time Walk $450
1 Tinker (Japanese) $3

3 Crucible Of Worlds $35.00
2 Gilded Lotus $7
1 Mindslaver $7
1 Black Lotus (beat to pieces) $800
1 Mox Sapphire $450
1 Mox Emerald (beat to pieces) $300
1 Mox Jet $350
1 Mox Ruby $350
1 Mox Pearl (beat to pieces) $300
1 Mana Vault $2
1 Sol Ring (MINT JUDGE FOIL) $50

2 Pyroclasm (textless) $10
2 Fire / Ice $8.00
1 Memnarch $2
2 Jester’s Cap (just Ice Age, but signed) $12
2 Seal of Cleansing (MINT DCI FOIL) $6
2 Swords to Plowshares $8
3 Red Elemental Blast (Japanese BB) $20
1 Phyrexian Furnace $0.50

It’s not quite $5,000. Even so, it took that $200 Boros deck.

Having money >> having skillz.

Does Wizards Know How Much This Game Costs?

I know the pros rarely own their own cards. Most of the big names borrow them for Constructed Pro Tours and GPs. The Wizards staff doesn’t buy their cards, and they get God Accounts on MTGO.

I have to suspect that if Aaron Forsythe actually had to budget for cards, Steamflogger Boss would not have been a rare. I also think that if he bought boosters, Mark Rosewater would have been a little more apologetic about One with Nothing.

Whine and Grumble Mode On

Ingrid and I got a couple boxes for judging the prerelease, and we’ve won several more later on. We have more than enough to draft for the next couple months, so we busted some packs. Out of curiosity, I counted rares – especially the rares that I want. I do this every set, and every set I get a ton of junk and too few of the really good cards. Here are the results for Planar Chaos:

One or Less:
Dichotomancy: 1 (the only junk card in this group.)
Damnation: 1
Extirpate: 1
Akroma, Angel of Fury: 0
Timbermare: 1
Numot, the Dreamer: 1

Five or More:
Hero’s Remembered: 6
Gaea’s Anthem: 5
Jedit Ojanen of Efrava: 5
Intet, The Dreamer: 5
Oros, the Avenger: 9 (including prerelease foils)

I did the same thing for Future Sight.

One or less:
Baru, Fist of Krosa (1)
Bitter Ordeal (1)
Nix (0)
Pact of Negation (1)
Horizon Canopy (0)
Seth’s Tiger (0 – although I won 2 in drafts)
Shimian Specter (0)
Slaughter Pact (0)
Tarox Bladewing (0)

Three or More:
Daybreak Cornet (4)
Force of Savagery (3)
Grove of the Burn Willows (3)
Pyromancer’s Swath (5)
Rites of Flourishing (4)
Sliver Legion (6)
Steamflogger Boss (3)
Thunderblade Charge (4)

I keep checking for the note that these packs have been “specially chosen for YOU.”

Enough ranting for now.

See you next week.


“one million words” on MTGO 2.5.