Happy Holidays, everyone.
In the spirit of the holidays, and the whimsy title, I am going to do a Christmas theme deck. It will be Red, Green and White, and all the cards represent Christmas themes or characters. That’s easy. Making it playable is harder, but I’ll do that, too.
I’ll start with the ridiculous. Christmas is a festival – a holy day. Both Festival and Holy Day are Magic cards, in the right colors, but they are pretty useless. You could build a deck around those cards and Isochron Scepter, but that doesn’t seem very festive. Putting Scepter / Fog in a holiday theme deck is like giving little kids canned spinach for Christmas.
Besides, I said I would build a winning deck. Festival rarely appears in winning decks.
One of the biggest themes of Christmas in corporate America is giving everyone presents. A lot of cards do that. Noble Benefactor is pretty good, but the color is wrong. Hunted Wumpus is a possibility, so long as no one else is playing bigger creatures than you are. Veteran Explorer is a natural for the deck. Finally, Eureka or Incoming!! (Unglued) are even better at sharing the wealth, but I’m not feeling that generous.
Being a greedy little kid at heart, I put presents first, but Christmas is supposed to be a religious holiday. It is supposed to be about the manger and the crèche. My Preacher told me that. Speaking of which, Preacher fits, even if it does steal everyone else’s toys.
Back to spiritual side of the Holidays. So let’s look at that for a moment: Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise men, Angels brining good tiding to the Shepherds, sheep and farm animals. All that kind of stuff. How can we represent that scene?
Angels are easy. Exalted Angel is perfect, both for the scene and for the deck.
Arcanis the Omnipotent could be a wise guy, but he’s the wrong color. Still, there are probably some other legends that can fill the roles.
Sol’Kanar the Swamp King isn’t quite right….
Zirilan of the Claw is the right colors, and hands you dragons as presents. He’s even the right color. Of course, the biblical list – gold, frankincense and myrrh – don’t seem very dragonlike. And I’m not sure how to fit the dragons Zirilan could call into the deck…
How about the creatures in the stable?
The Cows and Chickens are all Unglued.
Sheep tokens? Shepherds? I think that Arcum (you know, the bad rare king – Arcum’s Sleigh, Arkum’s Whistle, Arcum’s Weathervane, Arcum’s Mailbox) has a shepherd’s crook in his closet. He could play the part.
No donkeys that I can think of – unless you count Dwarven Pony.
I still can’t think of any other wise men.
You know, recreating that scene in Magic cards seems sacrilegious. I think I’ll try something else. (But I could have found the cards to fit.)
(It’s a good idea™ to tell massive lies a week before Santa arrives, right?)
I just noticed that this article looks like something by Mark Rosewater. Enough empty space already. Let’s try a much more secular scene: Santa and his North Pole workshop. Here’s the cast:
As Santa’s elves, some Fyndhorns. The guys with the knives – for carving toys. Honest.
To supply the Reindeer, Caribou Range. All those hoofed animals with antlers look alike.
Santa Claus himself: Flowstone Overseer. He’s big, he’s fat, and he gives everyone +1/-1″presents.” Killing creatures by upping their power seems pretty Christmas-like.
Representing the North Pole is tougher. Snowfall fits the theme, but it is a terrible card. Mishra’s Workshop is a Workshop, but useless in the deck. Kjeldoran Outpost looks a bit like the North Pole, if you ignore the rocky cliffs. Mishra’s Factory – the Winter scene version – seems like the best of a bad lot.
Taken as a whole, the scene is perfect.
Note please. (plays pitch pipe.)
“Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus.
Right down Santa Claus Way.”
Santa Claus Way? Aysen Highway?
Santa and the North Pole makes me think of that ancient animated”special” with Rudolph and the Isle of Misfit Toys. Since I would include Rudolph in any case, I’ll try adding the characters from that show to the mix. (I hope I can remember them.)
As Rudolph: Flametongue Kavu. Hey, work with me here. I want at least some good cards in the deck. We may have to play several copies of Rudolph.
That prospector guy (absolutely no prize for whomever remembers his name first): Dwarven Miner.
King of the Island of Misfit Toys: Savannah Lion. Hey, given how Wizards seems to want to recreate white weenie, and how feeble the old Lion is in the current formats, he is indeed King of the Misfits.
I can’t remember the rest of that show. I think there was some Wizard in there somewhere, or maybe that was the one about Santa’s history. Which one had the mailman guy doing narration? [I would like to state for the record that I am shocked and appalled there is no Heat Miser in this deck. – Knut, who recommends you do not click on the song, whatever you do] Forget it, I’ll move on to another TV special I only half remember: How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Here’s the cast:
As the Grinch: Root Greevil. It’s a bad and ugly card that can destroy stuff, sometimes. (Note: I have never seen the Jim Carrey movie version – but if you want to represent Jim Carrey, how about Unstable Shapeshifter?)
As Cindy Lou Who: Akroma, Angel of Wrath. Cindy Lou was really a lot tougher than she looked.
I’m done with the TV shows. I want to move on to other classic Christmas themes, like singing, eating and watching football. That kind of stuff – or is that some other holiday?
Christmas Carols (the musical ones): Song of Blood? Maybe not quite in the spirit of the season. Torch Song is closer, but it seems more lounge singer than Christmas caroler. Midsummer Revel could actually work in the deck, but it’s six months off the theme. Discordant Dirge is the way Christmas Carols sound when I play them, but it won’t make the deck. Lilting Refrain sounds closer, but it’s Blue. Glorious Anthem – now that’s a Christmas carol!
A Christmas Carol (the Dickens novel): We need a nobody to play Scrooge, since he was pretty wimpy. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future are more of a challenge. Some Ghosts and Spirits really fit the part (Guiding Spirit is like a character sketch for the ghosts, Moaning Spirit defines Marley’s ghost (Christmas Past), while Bellowing Fiend describes those actors who tend to overplay the part) but all these cards are the wrong colors. Melesse Spirit and Radiant Essence are close to good enough, but we have better actors for the roles.
Scrooge: Squee, Goblin Nabob.
The Ghost of Christmas Past: Karmic Guide.
The Ghost of Christmas Present: Spiritual Guardian (It’s a Portal, so to make this T1 legal, we’ll play Soltari Guerillas. It’s sort of ghostly, and it beats.)
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: Soltari Visionary.
That’s enough Christmas Carol – let’s move on to other Holiday themes.
“The stockings were hung by the Chimney with care.” Actually, Magic is severely deficient in sock-related cards. [That’s a deficiency? – Knut] About the only thing I can remember are the neon polka-dot socks Baron Sengir is wearing, and the flavor text on that other card.
“Peace on Earth:” Beating Swords into Plowshares is a great Christmas theme, and a card we need in the deck.
Poinsettias and decking the halls: decorating with plants, when done well, creates a Wall of Blossoms. Yes, I’m stretching, but a the deck needs a cantrip blocker.
Wassailing: Wassailing is drinking to the health of everyone and everything around. Blessed Wine and Sacred Nectar isn’t really a decent wassail, but Wizards doesn’t print many hard liquor cards. On the other hand, Magic, the Drinking Game, is very much a casual format. So is Strip Magic. (Take that, Spike!)
Finally, Christmas is a season of renewal and recreation. The world experiences a Hush of Serenity and Purification, and since the deck needs something to deal with enchantments and artifacts, Serenity, Hush (cycling Tranquility), and Purification may make the deck.
Here’s how the deck now looks:
1 Flowstone Overseer
3 Flametongue Kavu
3 Exalted Angel
3 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Veteran Explorer
3 Wall of Blossoms
1 Karmic Guide
1 Soltari Visionary
1 Soltari Guerillas
1 Savannah Lion
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob (the ultimate blocker)
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Root Greevil
2 Dwarven Miner (Die, non-basics, die!)
1 Blood Hound (okay, he made the list. Now take him out and play FTK number four)
It’s not awe inspiring, but it looks reasonable. It should have game against most creature-based decks. It might have some trouble against combo decks if it can’t get lucky with the Serenity or Purify. It is probably going to roll over to Living Death decks, but who invites necromancers to a Christmas party, anyway? [Yeah, that’s an Easter theme! Er, nevermind. – Knut]
Happy Holidays, everyone!
Now go to the forums and tell me what I missed. And what that prospector guy’s name is.