You CAN Play Type 1 #9: When Power Cards Are Bad Cards

Why didn’t the pros, theoretically the best player in the world, run Wheel of Fortune in last year’s Invitational decks? Rakso can’t figure it out, either.

Just when a pro who’s good in Type I (namely Mikey Pustilnik from New York) lands on the Invitational list, the format gets rotated out. I have nothing against 5-color, of course – it’s just that the Invitational is the only high-profile Type I event every year.

(Eric“Danger” Taylor put it better than I did, though:”It sucks.”)

See, there are a lot of good Type I players in the world. It just so happens that a lot of them aren’t even ranked. Some of the best play online on the #bdchat channel on Newnet… But sometimes, you get the feeling that you might be in an inbred metagame. The Invitational gives you a chance to see if there’s anything good your international Type I community missed. The average Pro knows next to nothing about Type I, but many have years of experience at the highest level, and they bring a fresh perspective.

Of course, the Invitational is also the best time for a bunch of casual players to diss the Pros. After the 2000 Sydney Invitational, a lot of my Beyond Dominia regulars plus Brian Weissman were calling Finkel’s Type I deck a pile with a straight face (Urza’s Rage and Obliterate were a bit random). You can’t get away with that very often.

Then again, I was quoted on the Dojo two years ago dissing the 1999 Invitational Type I Trix decks, and I was rebutted by none other than the current Pro Player of the Year, Kai Budde. He got a good laugh when I apologized the other night on #mtgwacky, two years late.

If you aren’t lucky enough to get corrected by a guy like Kai, though, you really might miss something. I don’t know what we would have seen this year – but last year, the subtle mystery was Wheel of Fortune.


Well, it’s restricted and it’s extremely broken… But no one used it. Same with a few other gems such as Timetwister and Black Lotus.

One-card differences can make or break decks, and this is especially true in Type I.

Wheel of Fortune

Cost: 2R

Rarity: Rare

Type: Sorcery

Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Errata: Each player discards his or her hand and draws seven cards. [Oracle 99/09/03]

Artist: Daniel Gelon

Released: 8/1993

At first glance, Wheel of Fortune appears to be the only true card drawing available to red, and is therefore a must-play in any Type I red deck. The obvious drawback is that an opponent has the first opportunity to play cards from an early Wheel of Fortune. However, the Sligh deck will probably have less cards when Wheel is played, and will gain more cards. The Sligh deck can also unload its hand much faster the following turn, and two or three Bolts in addition to the creatures it already has on the board are often enough to win the game that turn or the next.

Wheel of Fortune will draw the opponent new cards – but even assuming that these are better than the ones they already had in hand, they will rarely be able to win the game before Sligh’s next turn. One-turn combos are rare even in Type I (though a Sligh player should be aware that using Wheel of Fortune against a Pande-burst deck may discard the key enchantments and give the opponent a Replenish!). And even though control decks may play cards that dominate the game (again, assuming these will not be discarded by Wheel instead of being drawn from it) such as The Abyss, Moat or Ivory Mask, none of these can single-handedly neutralize all of Sligh’s threats.

All control players among the Beyond Dominia regulars agreed with this analysis, and all would move heaven and earth to counter a Wheel of Fortune played by a Sligh deck. In addition, if Sligh plays Wheel of Fortune when it has five or six mana, it can draw enough burn to finish the opponent, and possibly snag one or two Fireblasts that can end the game right there if the opponent has no counterspells or is tapped out.

In Sydney, though, five players played red-based decks, but only Ben Rubin used Wheel of Fortune. Ben, however, could be discounted because his deck was constructed with the thought of using the power cards, and he admitted that his deck construction story did not involve heavy analysis. Gerardo Godinez and Yoshikazu Ishii could also be discounted as not being very familiar with Type I, which is supported by the fact that they used mono-red Sligh decks while others splashed colors for power cards.

This did not eliminate the other players, however. Darwin Kastle’s four-color Sligh did not have Wheel of Fortune. Trevor Blackwell also had a Zoo-ish deck with a significant red element (and Channel), but was missing Wheel of Fortune. It also left out Timetwister, contrary to conventional Zoo logic.

Examine the following Type I red-based decks and see if they seem peculiar to you. For example, note that Darwin did not use other broken cards such as Black Lotus, Yawgmoth’s Will, and Mind Twist.

Control Sligh, Ben Rubin, Second Place, 2000 Sydney Magic Invitational

Creatures (16)

4 Jackal Pup

4 Goblin Cadets

4 Gorilla Shaman

4 Dwarven Miner

Burn (5)

4 Lightning Bolt

1 Kaervek’s Torch

Utility (11)

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Demonic Consultation

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Mind Twist

1 Wheel of Fortune

1 Timetwister

1 Time Walk

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Red Elemental Blast

Mana (28)

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Jet

1 Sol Ring

4 Mishra’s Factory

1 Strip Mine

4 Wasteland

4 City of Brass

4 Volcanic Island

4 Badlands

2 Sulfurous Springs


4 Boil

4 Cursed Scroll

4 Mogg Fanatic

1 Zuran Orb

2 Balduvian Horde

4-Color Sligh, Darwin Kastle, 2000 Sydney Magic Invitational

Creatures (15)

4 Goblin Cadets

4 Jackal Pup

4 Gorilla Shaman

3 Frenetic Efreet

Burn and Damage (11)

4 Lightning Bolt

4 Incinerate

1 Seal of Fire

2 Cursed Scroll

Utility (5)

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Balance

1 Seal of Cleansing

Mana (29)

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Jet

1 Library of Alexandria

1 Strip Mine

4 Wasteland

4 Mishra’s Factory

3 City of Brass

4 Volcanic Island

4 Badlands 4 Plateau


3 Seal of Cleansing

4 Pyroblast

4 Duress

4 Diabolic Edict


Monkey May I?, Trevor Blackwell, 2000 Sydney Magic Invitational

Creatures (14)

4 Kird Ape

4 Jackal Pup

2 Gorilla Shaman

4 Serendib Efreet

Burn (7)

4 Lightning Bolt

3 Kaervek’s Torch

Counters (6)

4 Mana Drain

2 Pyroblast

Others (10)

1 Channel

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Demonic Consultation

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Mind Twist

1 Regrowth

Mana (29)

1 Birds of Paradise

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Emerald

1 Chromatic Sphere

4 City of Brass

4 Taiga

4 Volcanic Island

4 Tropical Island

1 Strip Mine

3 Wasteland

2 Mishra’s Factory


1 Blastoderm

1 Saproling Burst

1 Pyroblast

2 Disenchant

1 Diabolic Edict

2 Incinerate

1 Urza’s Rage

1 Chain Lightning

2 City of Solitude

2 Fireball

1 Annul

No plausible explanation was presented. The most interesting theory, by far, was e-mailed to me by EDT:”Conventional wisdom said red should use Wheel, for the obvious reason that it is immense card advantage when you use it. Other than Ben Rubin, none of the red beatdown decks used Wheel. Apparently, something has changed in Type 1 that has caused Wheel to be less good.

“If you look closely at the decks you will notice one card Rubin has that the other beatdown decks don’t: Yawgmoth’s Will. Could this be the reason that the other decks don’t run Wheel? In fact, nearly every deck in the format runs Yawgmoth’s Will. It is possible that the presence of this single restricted card has changed Wheel of Fortune from a pure blessing into a sometimes liability… As even though the Wheel moves the cards to the grave, if the opponent casts Yawgmoth’s Will they can still access the graveyard cards.

“Certainly something has changed in Type I for so many red aggressive decks to give up the chance to run the Wheel. I can’t tell for certain why they have done so. I would have to do some playtesting first, but my inclination is to look closely at this tendency to run Yawgmoth’s Will in just about every deck and see if this has changed the way that Type I works.

“It’s possible that you can’t run Wheel in a Type I deck anymore unless you are also running Yawgmoth’s Will, as you might not gain the same card advantage that this card used to.

“Then again, Mind Twist is newly in the mix now, and having a Wheel of Fortune in your deck gives you at least a chance to recover from a Twist.

“Personally the thing that bothers me more than not running Wheel is how these red decks don’t run more Cursed Scrolls. If you’re not running Wheel of Fortune, why wouldn’t you run Cursed Scrolls?

“I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for the question, ‘Should red decks use the Wheel?’ Just because Wheel was good in the past in red decks doesn’t necessarily mean it is good now. I bet if you did some playtesting with the Invitational decks against each other, you might find out why they don’t have Wheel. Maybe it’s a mistake, and they should have it… Or maybe the Wheel doesn’t work as well as it used to in red decks. – edt”

One may note that Alex Shvartsman was using a beatdown deck that used Jackal Pup, Kird Ape, Serendib Efreet and Blastoderm, and also broke conventional Zoo logic by not using Wheel. Alex also had a Timetwister in his sideboard, but still no Wheel. This is outside the puzzle, though. Alex e-mailed me,”Twister is a sideboard card against discard decks. I did not maindeck it because I do not want to replenish my opponent’s hand as well as mine – and my deck is not Sligh, so it isn’t so fast that I will always play out my cards before they do. Wheel could work as sideboard against discard, too, but I could not afford an extra slot for that.”

Mind Twist was the only new element in the equation, and EDT reminded me of this. After reading his note about recovering from Mind Twist with Wheel of Fortune, the first thought I had was that the opponent could tutor for Mind Twist to”recover” from one’s Wheel, but it did not seem to explain everything.

When I posted EDT’s theory on Beyond Dominia, many control players reiterated their stories of being overwhelmed by an unexpected Wheel and a barrage of fresh threats right before they would have taken control of the game. Darren Di Battista, a.k.a. Azhrei, e-mailed me:”It (Wheel of Fortune) has been working for me thus far. I think it’s a lot like Twister, in that it’s something I like to keep maindeck just because it kicks the crap out of some decks, is very good against others, and is only very rarely something I wish wasn’t in there.”

Accelerated Blue aficionado”Deranged Parrot” gave the most interesting counter-theory:”True to Eric Taylor form, he assumes that the Invitational T1 decks knew what they were doing. They didn’t. Almost all of the red decks were basically Extended with Mox and Lotus thrown in. Ben Rubin, in my opinion, had the most interesting deck there, but it had problems with not having enough aggro creatures.

“How do we get the pros’ attention? I’d love to see Zvi (Mowshowitz) play a halfway decent version of Accelerated Blue next year, and the thought of (Jon) Finkel with an optimal Keeper version makes me shudder.”

I forgot about the debate until I finished the first revision of Beyond Dominia’s Sligh primer. Darwin e-mailed me in response to my questions on his Type I deck. He said,”Hmmm. Black Lotus and Wheel of Fortune… these cards seem good. In fact, they are good. I playtested both of them. I find that design changes have a cascade effect… At some point I had Yawgmoth’s Will, Wheel, Twister, Mind Twist, Sol Ring, and Lotus in my deck.

“At that point I found while all these cards are powerful, they had some or all of the following drawbacks: They were not powerful enough in the early game (the only game that mattered for that deck); they were vulnerable to Mind Twist’s return because they were sitting in my hand for one or more of the following reasons: they were more than two to cast, they were too situational, they were off color; they were vulnerable to permission for the same reasons; they weren’t good in the mirror; etc.

“Then the cascade effect came into play… When I pulled some of these cards, others became weaker. Without cards like Wheel, Twister and Will, Lotus became less useful.

“I tried to design my deck to use low casting-cost red or colorless threats that could impact the game from turn one and straight off the top of the deck. This worked well with my decision to use Cursed Scroll.

“Cursed Scroll could impact a game as much as many restricted cards and it was better against things like permission and discard… it was more removal against creature decks and a relentless threat easy to slip through control’s defenses. There you have it. – DK”

This seemed to be a solid explanation. Eric Taylor e-mailed me after I forwarded Darwin’s reply:”Good answer. At least Darwin played Cursed Scroll when he took out the Wheel. Now to explain the other red decks. Rubin’s makes sense, running all the power cards (including Wheel) over Cursed Scroll, but Gerardo Godinez’s and Yoshikazu Ishii’s decks don’t run Wheel or Cursed Scroll. I would be a lot happier with both the Godinez and Ishii decks if they just ran some Cursed Scrolls like Darwin did. It’s kinda sad that there is only one high-level T1 tournament a year anymore, which makes progress in T1 deck technology like running in molasses. – edt”

Yet on the other hand, supporting conventional wisdom and contradicting Darwin’s conclusions were thoughts reflected in Ben Rubin Invitational report on the Sideboard:”Game 3, he was able to stabilize until I got a Timetwister through – and, with a new set of creatures and more mana, he could not keep up. My deck does very well at working with a fresh seven cards.

“In retrospect, I probably should have included a Memory Jar without including a Tinker. Instead I included neither but, in reality, Memory Jar would have been plenty powerful, even at five to cast. My reasoning against this inclusion was that my opponents could probably cast spells during my Jar and at five mana it might be too slow to reliably cast before I got Mind Twisted/Wastelanded/Balanced/combo’d.”

When asked, Ben emphasized the above and e-mailed:”I think that Wheel belongs in any weenie Type 1 deck, simply because the weenie deck will be able to dump it’s hand out first and therefore gain card advantage over the deck that still has two or three cards sitting in hand.  Also, after drawing the seven new cards the weenie deck will make quick use of them while the other deck may draw more expensive/reactive cards that are not of immediate value. I am surprised that other players with aggressive Type 1 decks did not include Wheel of Fortune; maybe their decks were not built to optimize it or maybe they just forgot about it.”

In other words, he reiterates what every red player was saying since 1993.

Further, he told me:”Yawgmoth’s Will belongs in all Type 1 decks, it is just too powerful not to be.” And to back him up, despite Darwin’s reasoning, every good Type I player in the world will consider Will Type I’s most broken card after Ancestral Recall and Necropotence.

Again, the 2000 Invitational had the first publicized Type I portion held after Channel and Mind Twist were unbanned. Whether the change in the use of Wheel of Fortune was due to a new emphasis on Mind Twist, an overestimation of”silver bullet” cards such as The Abyss and Moat, or simple ignorance of Type I, nothing has been conclusively proved. (Almost every Beyond Dominia red-based deck still runs Wheel of Fortune, however.)

So who is right? Do the casual Type I players know their game better than the likes of Jon Finkel, Darwin Kastle and the rest of the world’s finest?

Type I players were advised against over-analyzing the Type I decks in the Magic Invitationals; as Alex e-mailed me,”You have to keep in mind that we did not work very hard on those decks. It was more of the cards that were handy, etc.” As Ben said, too,”I liked my deck, but would have made some changes… The sideboard should have had lots of Pyro/Red Elemental Blasts instead of Boils and should have had at least one Disenchant,” like every beginning Sligh player on Beyond Dominia soon finds out.

But like I said, it is difficult to discount the experience of Invitational players, especially the long time players who do play Type I.

Like I said at the start, after I was corrected in public by Kai Budde about the Type I Trix decks they played at the 1999 Invitational, players independently concluded that Trix was near-unbeatable in Type I. Soon afterwards, it dominated and caused an incredible stagnation in Type I. Players began running curious cards such as Chains of Mephistopheles, and Brian Weissman reported that his deck was so tuned to beat combo that kiddie Type II weenie decks beat it cold in between rounds at PTQs. This what finally prodded the DCI to restrict Necropotence, after five years of brokenness.

Boy was I ever wrong.

Whether”conventional wisdom” is right or wrong in this debate over Wheel of Fortune has yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure: It reminds me why Type I is so much fun. No other format can stimulate a near-obsession over the effect of a one-card change in your deck, or whether your opponent has a certain card in his.

Think about this when Odyssey comes along.

(As an aside, I honestly wish Ben Rubin gets into this year’s Invitational, even though I won’t get to see the Type I round I was looking forward to. If you noticed, the Pros above were quoted from e-mail-except Ben. That was because his tourney report was insightful enough to be quoted, and it was one of few that let you get into the writer’s head, like the normal joes who don’t get invited to the Invitational want to do. Some of last year’s lucky sixteen didn’t even care enough to write the reports we wanted to read, and some others’ practically read,”Oh I won then I lost and I got to play basketball.”

If you have any questions about the above critique of last year’s Type I decks or last year’s tourney reports, feel free to e-mail me, and I might include them in the next column. Browsing the old Invitational reports is a fun thing to do while waiting for the Invitational and for Ben to get invited again. If you haven’t, maybe you should see for yourself how the guy you voted for last year wrote his report for you.

Hmmm… what are the chances of our friggin’ friend Rizzo getting invited next year?

Oscar Tan, a.k.a. Rakso

[email protected]

rakso on #bdchat on Newnet

Manila, Philippines

Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (http://www.bdominia.com/discus/messages/9/9.shtml)

Featured writer, Star City Games (www.starcitygames.com/magic.php)

Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance (www.magic-singles.com/cpa)