I have a terrible problem for a Magic writer — I can’t find time to play. It’s terrible. Standard is interesting and diverse, M10 drafts are cool, MEDIII is here, Alara block drafts were free online, and Extended is rapidly evolving. And I can’t find the time to play any of them. To top it all off, there’s the Zendikar spoiler.
I know better than to give comments on spoilers. I once predicted that Scalpalexis was broken in Constructed formats. Now — well, I know better than to write yet another preview article.
Pauper at Pegasus
So far, the Pauper experiment is going well. A lot of players have brought decks — and more are buying my decks. I guess it is easier than building them from scratch (especially since the store is out of many of the staples, like Doom Blade.)
It is ridiculously easy to build decks. I just bring my boxes of commons to the store. Then, while I’m running the tournament, I sort through the boxes throwing cards into piles: RG Ramp, Esper, UB Fliers, Mill deck (doesn’t work — needs some more cards), UW fliers, etc. After sorting commons for a while, I make decks out of the piles. I have to cut initially — I had a lot of Sanctum Gargoyles in my Esper deck, and 7 Excommunicates in the Exalted deck. Then I pull the 36 best cards, add basic lands and a couple Panoramas and Terramorphic Expanses, and it s a deck.
I have been playing these decks against anyone who finishes a match early. I tend to play them, and often sell the deck to a watcher shortly thereafter. It’s usually a pretty good deal. The decks are not perfect, but the framework is there. The kids don’t have to go out and get 40 cards to build a new deck, they just need to get the six to ten cards that would complete the deck — or the six to eight cards that would make the deck cool. Either approach is great.
I have also been playing the all commons decks against anything people bring up — and in 2HG and 3HG games. It’s pretty funny. I have won several games against EDH decks, fun decks — even a couple Legacy decks. I have even beaten a full powered Vintage deck. Admittedly, it wasn’t a great Vintage deck, but it cost many hundreds of times the sale price of his deck.
We so should have been playing for deck ante.
I know that some website specialize in Pauper, and that I could pull down some really good netdecks. I’m not going to do that, and I hope the players don’t either. Right now, it’s all for fun, and none of the decks are completely overwhelming. I hope that continues. It may — and in a couple weeks, Zendikar will shake it all up.
This Thursday is another all-commons draft. I’ve got to open a spare box of M10 and bundle up some packs. This will be tough, because my hands hurt.
Speaking of hurting…
The Masters Edition III release events are in full swing on MTGO. For those not playing with digital cardboard, Masters Edition sets are Wizards method of releasing the really old sets online. Sets from Mirage forward are being released in their original format, since it is possible to draft Mirage. Earlier sets — well, not so much. First of all, Wizards would have to cut out all the ante cards, and the dexterity cards like Chaos Orb. (Sure, Chaos Orb could be done online. Just drop your monitor from a height of at least one foot, making sure that it makes at least one complete rotation…)
If you wonder why Wizards doesn’t just release the old sets, imagine drafting Antiquities.
Instead, Wizards has created “Masters Editions.” These are “new” sets composed of cards from the old core sets (Alpha / Beta / Unlimited), plus Antiquities, Arabian Nights, Legends, Ice Ages, the Portal sets, etc. These sets are built with at least some thought to limited play — something that the early sets were not. Booster drafts weren’t even invented when the old sets were built.
Masters Edition II had five of the original dual lands. It had other cards, too, but that was enough to sell the set. I played a ton of MEDII limited to get my playsets.
Masters Edition III has the other five duals, plus a lot of other stuff. It features a bunch of Portal Three Kingdom cards — something I have almost none of. Most I have never even seen.
On the down side, MED III has Sorrow’s Path. At rare. It sucked then. It sucks now.
Back in 2002, I wrote an article building decks using the worst cards printed in each set (to that date, of course.) Here’s what I wrote about Sorrow’s Path.
Sorrow’s Path is the quintessential bad rare. When you bust an Odyssey pack and find a Shrine, be grateful it isn’t Sorrow’s Path. And There are a bunch of really bad lands in the list – headed by the all time worst card, in many people’s opinion, ever printed. Here it is:
Oracle text: Sorrow’s Path – Land
Tap: Choose two target blocking creatures an opponent controls. If each of those creatures could block all creatures that the other is blocking, remove both of them from combat. Each one then blocks all creatures the other was blocking.
Whenever Sorrow’s Path becomes tapped, it deals 2 damage to you and each creature you control.
Confused? It’s simple — for just 2 life, and wiping out all your weenies, you can make you opponent make a pair of suboptimal blocks. Maybe.
It is totally unplayable in any format, every. It is a 15th pick in a crap rare draft. It is even worse than Seafarer’s Quay (Land — Blue legendary creatures you control have “bands with other legendary creatures.”) because, although it does nothing, it doesn’t kill you to tap it.
I think Wizards has an internal problem — their employees get their cards for free, so they forget how painful cracking a pack and opening utter crap can be. Seriously. Wizards thought One with Nothing was funny. They thought Steamflogger Boss was a cute joke. (At uncommon, it would have been.) And they reprinted Sorrow’s Path in the rare slot in MEDIII.
In MED, MEDII and MEDIII, they have reprinted cards that were uncommons in paper as rares. Force of Will and Mana Drain are great examples. Would it have killed them to make Sorrow’s Path an uncommon?
For that matter, they had other options. They are pulling cards from Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Portal, Portal II, Portal Three Kingdoms, Antiquities, Arabian Nights, Fallen Empires, Legends, The Dark, Ice Ages, Homelands and Alliances. Those sets contain somewhere around 750 rares — depending on how you count uncommons in Antiquities, etc. Some of those are still in print (e.g. Birds of Paradise, Shivan Dragon.) Others were used in earlier MED sets. However, that does not change the fact that there are several hundred rares not yet in print online, and all of them are better than Sorrow’s Path.
I have now played in three MEDIII sealed events. I have opened zero dual land, no Mana Drains, not a single Bazaar of Bagdad, no — well, if you play online, you know the list of money cards. None of those. TWO Sorrow’s Paths.
The second Sorrow’s Path completely soured me on the set. I opened it, in a weak card pool, and got crushed. My opponent had two copies of Rolling Earthquake, plus Recall to recur them, plus a ton of good creatures and removal. I had Sorrow’s Path and three copies of Hammerheim. I won my second match, but realized I was not having fun, so I dropped. Based on my first two sealed, I knew I could play my deck to at least a draft set in prizes, but I was so bummed I didn’t care. Going to bed was more appealing than playing more MEDIII.
I know there’s no a ton of value in a rant like this, but maybe someone from Wizards will read this. I’m an MTGO fanatic, and I love the dual lands. I am also somewhere between a Staunch Defender and a Wizards apologist — and opening Sorrow’s Path made me turn their program off, and leave it off for days.
Aw — never mind. I’m just grumpy and I ache.
Up on the Roof
A quick explanation of why I’m aching. My wife’s aunt had to move into a nursing home. Now we have to sell her house, to pay for it. Ingrid and I are the only relatives anywhere close, so we have been cleaning the house, packing the stuff, arranging for an auction, grass cutting, a realtor, etc. I also had to arrange for a roofer to repair some damaged shingles on the shed. However, it is a big shed, and the original roof was nailed wrong, so it basically needs a new roof.
A month or two back, the area Ingrid’s aunt lives was hit with a major hail storm. All the roofers in the area are already heavily booked. Finding one was a pain. I decided to do this one myself.
I have worked on roof before. I still have my tool belt, and the ladders, roof jacks, etc. I know how to cut felt, and nail 3 tab shingles correctly. I figured that doing the roof myself would be easier than finding a roofer how could do the job. After all, I used to do this stuff.
I did remember a lot about roofing. It is cool being up in the air, enjoying the breeze and the view. I did remember how to cut shingles, how to overlap them, and what to do.
I forgot just how heavy the dang things are. I also forgot how many nails you end up driving. Even if you three-hit them all, that is a lot of hammer blows. I also forgot that, once you get beyond a certain angle, lose shingles slide off the roof unless you prop them on a roof jack or something.
The shed is actually pretty big — the roof is 15*35 per side. That’s over a dozen bundles of shingle per side, and each bundle is close to 100 pounds. Carrying them up the ladder and then up the roof is like work.
I also haven’t done a lot of hammering recently. My arm and hand are telling me that hanging up a picture and driving nails for hours on end are not the same thing. The Ibuprofen isn’t cutting it.
Even typing hurts.
And Magic is So Good Right Now
I have a number of Standard decks that are fun to play, and have a reasonable chance to win. I have a very limited chance to play them — and I have not been able to get to the store for the standard tourneys in three weeks, nor even play an online daily event.
I have tons of draft sets. I still have over 100 packs of M10 online, and a couple boxes in paper. I have a dozen MEDIII packs, and some Alara sets, and on and on. Last draft — which occurred after a 14 hour day at work — I fell asleep in the middle of pack two. Fortunately my drink saved me — I spilled ices soda into my lap.
I didn’t win the draft, either.
Worst of all, I really want to work on the Ultimate Standard Tourney, and I can’t find time to even get the decks together. That does have a high priority, however.
Ultimate Standard Tourney
I have made a few cuts and additions since last week. Here’s the list, with some notes.
Affinity will have Skullclamp
B/R Necropotence, (Mark Justice, 1996 Worlds)
CMU Blue (Randy Buehler, Worlds 1999 — because I have the Worlds gold bordered one , so it is together, with sideboard, and needs no work.)
Corrupter Black (Adrian Sullivan)
Cruel Control (Shuhei Nakamura, Japanese Nats 2009)
Cunning Wake (OUT — both because of the rules rewrite that kills it, and because it takes forever to play.)
Deadguy Red (Rubin, Worlds 1999 — another Worlds deck I have together.)
Dragonstorm (Makahito Mihara, worlds 2005)
Elf and Nail
Eminent Domain (Adrian Sullivan, WI States)
Faeries (PauloVitor Damo da Rosa, Hollywood 2008)
Fires (Eugene Harvey, US nationals 2001, or maybe Zvi’s My Fires)
Goblin Bidding (Wolfgang Eder, Worlds 2003)
JarGrim? (it was Standard legal for a month)
Kithkin? (I have one together, with Honor the Pure, so that may get in just because.)
Kooky Jooky (Adrian Sullivan)
Ponza (maybe a version with Tangle Wire?)
Prosbloom (I’ll have to learn how to play this.)
Replenish (Tom Van de Logt, worlds 2000)
Rock and his Millions (Sol Malka)
Sabre Bargain (Mike Pustilnik, US Nats 2000)
Stompy (Murray Evans, Worlds 2000)
Tinker (Jon Finkel, worlds 2000)
Tog (Carlos Romao, worlds 2002)
Tolarian Blue (Chris Warren — IL States)
Trinity Green (John Larkin, Euros 2000)
UG Madness (Humphries, Worlds 2003)
Wildfire (Kai Budde, Worlds 1999)
Still subject to some tweaking, but I’m working on it.
That’s all I can do. I have to get back to working on selling Aunt Maria’s house.
“one million words” on MTGO