You CAN Play Type I #45: Deconstructing Mark Rosewater

Mark Rosewater said that”an Extended deck (Miracle Gro) from the latest Extended season has gone on to have a huge influence on Type 1…” Why is he wrong and why does this deck (and Illusionary Mask) fail in the Format Of The Eldest Cards?

Steven Sadin’s side

You might’ve heard about Steven Sadin from my columns – the plucky 13-year old of the Neutral Ground (New York) control crew. The guy has a sterling Type I tournament record, and was supposed to play in the last JSS when he qualified for Nationals through a Sealed Grinder.

Unfortunately, the last we saw of his Nationals appearance was a short Sideboard note accusing him of cheating.

Now I don’t know Steve personally and I wasn’t there, but I was surprised that the judging staff would handle a thirteen-year old in public – or any player for that matter – that high-handedly. (I’d ask you to take a look at that announcement, but it’s no longer there.)

The deeply upset junior tried to air his side, but says Brainburst, StarCity, and Neutral Ground did not print his letter. I’ve received a lot of queries from so many Type I players, so in the interest of fairness, I’d like you to read his story here:

Hi fellow gamers, I can’t believe what happened when I went to a non-Gray Matters or Neutral Ground event.

I came down to Florida this weekend to play in JSS when I got there I qualified for nationals I was overjoyed. (I am sorry if this letter is written poorly; it’s just painful to talk or write about.) I finished Day 14-2 I then started Day 2 2-0.

I am playing against my third round opponent. We split the first 2 games, then as we are shuffling for game 3, I notice an off colored sleeve in my deck so I tossed it aside and it fell onto the floor. As I am shuffling my opponents deck I notice that he only has 39 cards and called over a judge. When the judge came over I realized what had happened and that the discarded card must have been from his deck. So I tried to explain it to the judge but my opponent talked over me so I could not explain what had happened until he got the head judge. At which point I explained to him what had happened. My opponent then said that I had changed my story. Simply because I was not given a chance to explain myself to the first judge and without hearing or considering my side of the story he disqualified me.

There was no one to appeal to on site and within an hour Sideboard posted an article branding me about being a”cheater” without ever hearing my story and without a way to post it. Just when I didn’t think it could get any worse I was informed that I was facing a review for suspension. I was just very happy that the Neutral Ground crew was there to help cheer me up.

I am thirteen. I have been playing for a year and a half. I have two or three lifetime warnings for minor mistakes when I was just starting. I help judge at Neutral Ground monthly and Forbidden Planet when they need help. I have worked hard and honestly practicing and enjoying the game and realize that it’s no more than just that a game. I know that it is hard to believe this without knowing my character and after reading the blown out of proportion sideboard article. Which had few real facts in it.

I also know that it is hard to make a ruling in a situation like mine under the circumstances and without witnesses and with me simply trying to explain what had happened. Admittedly I did do something wrong – and that was rushing although there were only fifteen minutes left. I should have taken the extra few seconds needed to check what the card was and I could have prevented all this. Even though I could have prevented any problems my penalty should not have been anywhere near as severe.

Steven Sadin

Back to our regularly scheduled programming?

The server problems trashed my schedule and that “tribute to readers” piece last week was originally scheduled for June 4!

Fortunately or unfortunately, I have to break the schedule yet again, to address the latest buzz on the Type I e-mail, forum, and AIM network.

It all began with Mark Rosewater mail call last June 17. An innocent letter by one Steve Ziemann asked why R&D doesn’t make more cards for Type I. The average player would expect MaRo to honestly admit that they don’t have the resources to playtest for that broad a format, they assume Type I doesn’t pay their salaries anyway, and that trying to print cards for Type I might throw Type II and Limited into contortions.

But MaRo added a little twist to his reply:”…we do try to create cards that shake up the environment. Whether or not this has an impact on a larger format depends a lot on what mechanics the new ones are competing with. Odyssey block, for example, explored some new turf and, as such, has created ripples throughout all the formats. The emphasis on the graveyard had substantial impact on Extended. In turn, an Extended deck (Miracle Gro) from the latest Extended season has gone on to have a huge influence on Type 1…

Now Type I players accept that R&D would have to get hit by a bus before they started caring about Type I (see the present rules interactions Animate DeadWorldgorger Dragon and Illusionary MaskPhyrexian Dreadnought that defy common sense), so no one’d bat an eyelash at the expected answer.

But did he just give an opinion on the Type I metagame?

In addition, Alex Shvartsman June 1-7″Week in Review” featured a quote from GP: Milwaukee finalist Pat Chapin:”‘Illusionary Mask is the only thing holding Type 1 together!’ – Comment made by Pat Chapin in a conversation about Type 1. And he proved it, too.”

I”blame” Pat himself for the recent confusion in the Type I circles, and suspect he might be the sole source of all Type I information on the Wizards site. (This article is based on my own e-mail and AIM correspondence with Pat, to be clear, not on anything secondhand.)

The most broken, unbeatable deck in Type I

In case you don’t know him, Pat Chapin’s Magic achievements range from an Invitational appearance to a Misetings Good Man certification. He’s one fun guy, a gamer’s gamer, a pro-level player who made up his own expansion for fun. And he’s extremely fun to talk strategy with, though his not owning a computer at home makes that tough from Manila.

Pat was first mentioned in The Control Player’s Bible, Part XIII, where I described an online game against his Type I Gro build. I also listed what I thought was his fun deck – a Power Artifact-based combo:

Infinite mana combos (5)

1 Power Artifact

R Grim Monolith

R Tolarian Academy

1 Candelabra of Tawnos

1 Capsize

Blue (19)

R Ancestral Recall

R Time Walk

R Timetwister

R Time Spiral

R Braingeyser

R Stroke of Genius

R Windfall

R Mystical Tutor

R Tinker

2 Brainstorm

4 Force of Will

4 Misdirection

Black (5)

R Necropotence

R Yawgmoth’s Bargain

R Demonic Tutor

R Vampiric Tutor

R Mind Twist

Red (1)

R Wheel of Fortune

White (1)

R Balance

Green (1)

R Regrowth

Artifact (2)

R Memory Jar

1 Defense Grid

Mana (26)

4 Dark Ritual

R Mana Vault

R Black Lotus

R Mox Sapphire

R Mox Jet

R Mox Ruby

R Mox Pearl

R Mox Emerald

R Sol Ring

R Lotus Petal

R Mana Crypt

R Lion’s Eye Diamond

R Library of Alexandria

4 City of Brass

1 Gemstone Mine

4 Underground Sea

1 Underground River

Power Artifact


Enchant Artifact

Antiquities uncommon

Enchanted artifact’s activated abilities cost up to 2 less to play. If this would make an ability cost 0 or less mana to play, it costs 1, plus any nonmana costs.

Grim Monolith



Urza’s Legacy rare

Grim Monolith doesn’t untap during your untap step. Tap: Add three colorless mana to your mana pool. 4: Untap Grim Monolith.

Power Artifact reduces Grim Monolith’s untap cost, letting the artifact produce infinite mana. There’s also a backup combo: You can Capsize a Candelabra of Tawnos and keep replaying it to untap a juiced-up Tolarian Academy. The combo deck is extremely amusing to play, and I had even the most uptight players screaming at me to do the solitaire and kill them, just to see how the seeming random pile of restricted cards won. I posted Pat’s decklist last March and not a single word was heard, so I assume readers all over the world also thought it was just for kicks.

Pat later clarified, though, that he wasn’t kidding when he told me the above deck is the unbeatable deck of Type I. He said:”99.9% of people don’t realize that almost nothing beats Power Artifact. It is just like a control deck but instead of Plow you have Wheel of Fortune, instead of Abyss you have Spiral, instead of Dismantling Blow you have Bargain, etc.

“Instead of Morphling, you have Power Artifact. You can see how obviously when two control decks fight and one has permanent answers, while the other has broken card drawers, that the second will win.”

Pat’s mentor, Eric“Danger” Taylor, further e-mailed that after a”critical point,” control decks essentially morph into combo decks because replacing all the potentially dead cards with a combo that works against everything is far less cumbersome. You reach that point when the format allows a combo engine so compact you still have slots left over for defense. At that point, he believes the combo decks then force everything else out by”posing questions instead of answers” and then try to”out-control” each other.

He illustrated,”If you look at the Rome Pro Tour that Tomi Hovi won, you didn’t defeat the Time Spiral decks by playing control. No, what you did was beat the Time Spiral decks by playing ‘High Tide Time Spiral’ decks – that is, you played a bit more controllish combo to beat the more aggressive combo.”

Academy, Tommi Hovi, Champion, Pro Tour Rome November 1998 (Extended)

Spells (26)

3 Abeyance

3 Power Sink

3 Intuition

3 Mind over Matter

4 Windfall

4 Stroke of Genius

4 Time Spiral

2 Scroll Rack

Mana (34)

3 City of Brass

4 Ancient Tomb

4 Volcanic Island

4 Tolarian Academy

4 Tundra

4 Mox Diamond

4 Mana Vault

4 Lotus Petal

3 Voltaic Key

Sideboard (15)

2 Red Elemental Blast

4 Chill

4 Wasteland

1 Arcane Denial

4 Gorilla Shaman

EDT further explained,”The combo piece in those decks was just one card: Time Spiral. The fact that you used Stroke of Genius to kill was incidental, and you could use just one Stroke if you liked, which cantripped anyway. When the combo is down to one single card, the Time Spiral, why on earth play a deck with Swords to Plowshares and Disenchants?”

Combo in the 2002 Type I environment

EDT feels that the”critical point” for Type I was reached two years ago with the Urza Block, with cards like Tolarian Academy, Yawgmoth’s Bargain, Memory Jar, Necropotence and Illusions of GrandeurDonate forced all player interaction out of Type I.

The big flaw in the argument, though, is that with Necropotence and everything from 1999 are restricted, combo decks are no longer as degenerate as the original Academy and Trix builds. And if you don’t believe me, remember that EDT used the same reasoning to argue that”The Deck” was an obsolete collection of Rosewater puzzles – some time before the archetype won the Sydney Invitational. (But this doesn’t mean EDT’s theory is wrong, since when a combo deck becomes good in an environment, you do see splashed Pyroblasts in the same deck after a while. Maybe he just overlooked Morphling as Type I’s one-card combo.)

Certainly, Pat’s deck can go Black Lotus, Mox, Dark Ritual, Yawgmoth’s Bargain, Misdirect your Force of Will – but hey, this is Type I. Broken things happen.

But not every game.

Sure, it can just win if a big bomb like Bargain hits, but it can just as easily get its card drawer Duressed or countered, then stall. Note that it has twenty-eight mana sources just like”The Deck” so it can very well mana flood if it can’t find the next card drawer. Further, if the first wave is repulsed,”The Deck” can then tutor for Gorilla Shaman and eat and Waste the combo deck’s mana. Forbiddian can drop ‘Phid and set up the impregnable counter wall.

In short, I don’t believe combo overpowers control so easily, and this is based on my experience with control decks, Pat’s combo deck, and more streamlined combo decks (as in, minus the big-but-sometimes-awkward bombs such as Memory Jar and Yawgmoth’s Bargain) like Matt D’Avanzo’s Neo-Academy:

Neo-Academy, Matt D’Avanzo, April 2002

Mana (28)

1 Tolarian Academy

4 Gemstone Mine

4 City of Brass

2 Undiscovered Paradise

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Diamond

1 Lotus Petal

1 Sol Ring

1 Mana Crypt

1 Grim Monolith

1 Mana Vault

4 Helm of Awakening

1 Fastbond

Combo (4)

1 Mind over Matter

1 Capsize

2 Candelabra of Tawnos

Card drawing (11)

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Timetwister

1 Time Spiral

1 Wheel of Fortune

1 Windfall

1 Braingeyser

1 Stroke of Genius

4 Meditate

Manipulation and utility (11)

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Crop Rotation

1 Regrowth

4 Impulse

1 Frantic Search

1 Time Walk

Defense (6)

2 Abeyance

4 Force of Will

Further, while it’s generally true that combo beats up on aggro – the combo deck ignores the board and life total, and races the aggro deck on other fronts – you can’t ignore certain cards that aren’t uncommon in Type I aggro:

Null Rod



Weatherlight rare

Players can’t play artifacts’ activated abilities.

Gorilla Shaman, a.k.a. Mox Monkey




Alliances uncommon

XX1: Destroy target noncreature artifact with converted mana cost X.

Pat’s combo only has four Force of Wills, for example, for the Null Rods that are easily justified by Powder Kegs, Masticores, and even Cursed Scrolls. In short, I feel that combo is a vital part of the Type I metagame, but it no longer ruins the format by pushing everything aside on turn 1. And smart players are conscious of it; you’re not playing in a vacuum.

In reaction to my comments about countering the first card drawers and cleaning up with Shaman and Wastelands, Pat responded:”The problem with the combo people you are playing with is that they do not realize that in that matchup they are the control deck. If they try to ‘go off’ they will suffer great losses to a Force of Will or Misdirection. They should just use the fact that they have so many amazing card drawers and mana producers that they should just use this fact to build card advantage and mana sources, eventually forcing through Mind Twist or Yawgmoth’s Will.

“Don’t get me wrong; you should still keep Twisting and Wheeling and Windfalling, but that is how you get card advantage. As long as the combo deck doesn’t give up more than one resource at a time, the control deck will have difficulty getting ahead.”

I have to note, though, that a control deck can force a card drawer like Sylvan Library, Ophidian, or Library of Alexandria. This sort of card advantage is one-way, and makes it hard for the combo player to accumulate enough resources to smother the control player’s defense.

Also, minus the Draw 7s, Pat could almost be talking about”The Deck” and its own card advantage devices.

But MaRo didn’t talk about Power Artifact, did he?

So where does Gro fit into all this?

Again, Pat’s core assumption is that Power Artifact beats everything except two decks. The first is mono blue and the heavy counter wall, but that can get overrun by”random decks.”

The second is Gro.

Pat concludes that Gro is the real unbeatable deck because he assumes:

1) It makes Power Artifact, the best deck in Type I, bend over

2) It has good chances against control like”The Deck”, if not as good as Power Artifact’s

3) It has good chances against random aggro, if not as good as Power Artifact’s

To clarify, though, Pat’s Gro is nothing like what I saw Beyond Dominia members tinkering with, which resemble Extended Miracle and Super Gro builds:

Chapin Gro, Pat Chapin, March 2002

Creatures (8)

4 Quirion Dryad

4 Ophidian

Counters (14)

4 Force of Will

4 Misdirection

2 Foil

1 Mana Drain

2 Disrupt

2 Daze

Utility (14)

1 Time Walk

1 Mystical Tutor

4 Brainstorm

4 Sleight of Hand

3 Opt

1 Regrowth

Card Drawing (6)

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Timetwister

4 Gush

Mana (17)

4 Land Grant

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Emerald

1 Sol Ring

1 Library of Alexandria

4 Tropical Island

4 Island

Gro builds against control

BDers have nicknamed Pat’s build,”Forbiddian that replaces Morphling with Dryads,” but if I were to make a comparison, I’d point to that one-time Baby Bluey from Extended, a mono blue deck that aimed to force an early Ophidian with Force of Will and Misdirection. The above Gro deck is definitely aggro-control, and attacks combo and control the aggro-control way. It just has to play an early creature, then let it attack under a screen of counters. Of course, here, the early creature can turn into a 7/7 or 10/10 fast.

I might run a feature on”The Deck” against Chapin Gro, unsideboarded, where Pat shows how to milk all the weaknesses of my slower control deck. Game 1 is at least even, probably slightly in favor of Gro. Brian Weissman playtested more extensively with Pat, and e-mailed that the Chapin Gro matchup was so lopsided he lost 80% of Game 1s. To clarify, though, I maindeck an Abyss and Brian doesn’t.

But you can’t accept that Gro hoses control – because it didn’t in Extended. Kai Budde told me that using an Oath deck with four Oaths and four Swords,”Before boarding, it’s tough to lose.” Compared to Oath,”The Deck” has a lower level of creature kill, but this almost doubles after boarding. In the post-sideboard game, when more expensive cards go out and Dryads get hit by more Swords to Plowshares, the Gro deck pitches two to three cards in each exchange, and quickly runs out of gas. For independent confirmation, Brian told me he went 90% after boarding.

We both enjoy the satisfying concession that follows a Moat dropping.

Anyway, that’s Pat’s Gro. The more”conventional” Gro builds are not as good against”The Deck.” Matt D’Avanzo tested Game 1 against Super Gro with Type I modifications and claimed 60% in favor of control. I did the same online, and at least one Beyond Dominia player told me he deleted his Gro Apprentice file right there. The post-sideboard odds don’t change, too. (And to be sure, Matt’s playtest partner was Neutral Ground’s Donald Lim, surely no stranger to Gro.)

Gro against aggro

Note that the distinction between Chapin Gro and”normal” Gro is very important.

The Gro v. Sligh matchup, for example, is amusing. The same Misdirections that force Dryads through can demolish the tempo of Sligh, and even if a double- or triple-Bolt kills a Dryad, the card advantage wins. But that’s Type I Sligh, the aggro deck whose creatures have the dubious distinction of thoroughly sucking in combat.

Other aggro decks, though, steamroll Chapin Gro and other blue/green Miracle Gro adaptations. For one, the Gro creatures take a while to get big enough to block. Remember that Extended Miracle Gro had to splash white and turn into Super Gro to gain better options against aggro. It’s the same story in Type I, but you have a number of aggro decks that have no equivalents in the old Extended. Can a Super Gro adaptation dominate Stacker 2 and resurrecting Su-Chis and Masticores, for example? We don’t believe so.

I compared notes with Matt D’Avanzo, JP”Polluted” Meyer, and Rian Litchard, a.k.a. Kirdape3, and while none of us have really tested these, we figure that the other main”easy” Game 1 is mono black. The nature of its creatures is such that the only possible one with a decent combat phase is Nantuko Shade, or a very early Phyrexian Negator. Otherwise, we doubt that Gro can stop, say, Type I Stompy. (Incidentally, almost all of these aggro decks Waste a Tropical Island early, and this sometimes keeps the three-mana Ophidian off the board.)

Incidentally, I’ve also heard Beyond Dominia regulars joke that Gro might not handle mono-white Deck Parfait, too. This last one was built to flood counter walls with permanents, and can end the Gro matchup with a recursed Moat or Story Circle.

I find Gro fun to play against, because it tries to beat you with deckbuilding instead of degenerate hate. But I emphasize that I have yet to find someone who’s accepting it as invincible. It’s still an aggro-control deck, an archtype with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Interlude: combos and other news

Part I covered a couple of Judgment combos, and our favorite Level IV says you can pull Worldgorger Dragon combos in Extended. Check out the discussion: http://oracle.wizards.com/scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind0205e&L=dcijudge-l&F=&S=&P=62.

In other news from the Type I network, congratulations to Oliver Daems, Type I moderator of Die Zusammenkunft and webmaster of www.morphling.de for placing 6th in Germany’s Dulmen tournament last May 26.

He reported that aside from the usual control:”The metagame consisted mostly of Teletubbies-derivates. Most played G/r like Benny’s (Benjamin Rott) version, some players added blue for Ancestral, Walk and Tinker and others tried to use Blood Moon to its full extent by going Mono-Red. There were also some combo-decks (Academy and Trix) and I even saw two Stasis decks. Interestingly enough, one of them posted a 5-2 record.”

Finally, I was featured in my old university organization’s website last May 30. Some friends got a kick out of seeing the photos of me with my old college classmates, so I suppose it can’t hurt to include the link: http://www.meaonline.org.

Gro’s influence on Type I

Let’s go back to MaRo’s statement:”Odyssey block, for example, explored some new turf and, as such, has created ripples throughout all the formats. The emphasis on the graveyard had substantial impact on Extended. An Extended deck (Miracle Gro) from the latest Extended season has gone on to have a huge influence on Type 1.

Again, I’m betting he and Alex got their Type I notes from Pat at Nationals or some other event. It’s funny to note that Chapin Gro has zero graveyard interaction aside from the customary Regrowth.

But what does he mean by”huge influence?”

If he meant that a new archtype was created to shake up the metagame, then that doesn’t sound right.

Mono blue aggro-control is as old as Lord of Atlantis and an accepted combo-breaker. A lot of people already tried splashing when recent sets gave the Type I blue base splashable green weenies. People now know that Dryad is one heck of a weenie when it gets going, but I don’t think the structure has changed beyond recognition.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane:

Roc of Kher Ridges




Beta rare


Roc Deck, Brian Weissman, about 1997

Disruption (5)

4 Mana Drain

1 Amnesia

Removal (11)

4 Swords to Plowshares

4 Lightning Bolt

3 Disenchant

Card Drawing (6)

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Braingeyser

4 Jayemdae Tome

Victory conditions (6)

2 Phantom Monster

3 Roc of Kher Ridges

1 Mirror Universe

Utility (3)

1 Time Walk

1 Timetwister

1 Recall

Mana (29)

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Emerald

1 Sol Ring

4 Fellwar Stone

4 Strip Mine

1 Library of Alexandria

2 City of Brass

4 Tundra

4 Volcanic Island

3 Plateau

Sideboard (15)

1 Zuran Orb

1 Amnesia

4 Red Elemental Blast

3 Circle of Protection: Red

2 Disrupting Scepter

2 Dust to Dust

1 Mana Short

1 Azure Drake 😛

Fish, Nicolas Labarre, Finalist, Pro Tour Rome, November 1998 (Extended)

Counters (10)

4 Force of Will

4 Counterspell

2 Force Spike

Creatures (23)

4 Lord of Atlantis

4 Merfolk Raiders

4 Manta Riders

4 Suq’Ata Firewalker

4 Man-O-War

3 Water Spout Djinn

Utility (5)

3 Nevinyrral’s Disk

2 Curiosity

Land (22)

18 Island

4 Wasteland


2 Phyrexian Furnace

2 Bottle Gnomes

2 Force Spike

2 Disrupt

4 Hydroblast

2 Serrated Arrows

1 Nevinyrral’s Disk

CounterSliver, Christian Luhrs, Top 8, Pro Tour Chicago, December 1999 (Extended)

Creatures (20)

4 Acidic Sliver

4 Crystalline Sliver

4 Hibernation Sliver

4 Muscle Sliver

4 Winged Sliver

Counters (10)

4 Force of Will

2 Misdirection

4 Counterspell

Others (7)

3 Demonic Consultation

2 Disenchant

2 Swords to Plowshares

Land (23)

4 City of Brass

4 Flood Plain

2 Gemstone Mine

2 Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author]

1 Tropical Island

3 Tundra

4 Underground Sea

2 Undiscovered Paradise

1 Volcanic Island

Sideboard (15)

3 Perish

2 Swords to Plowshares

2 Disenchant

3 Hydroblast

2 Honorable Passage

3 Honor the Fallen

Same strategy, smaller card pools.

Now, if MaRo meant that the Gro experience from Extended evolved Type I aggro-control so radically that every other archtype had to overhaul, too, then that’s simply ridiculous.

I can vouch that”The Deck” hasn’t changed a single slot due to Gro; the above playtesting results from Matt, Brian and myself were with our”standard” unmetagamed sideboards. If we added removal, it was because Fact or Fiction was restricted, opening the metagame to more aggro. I don’t think Gro has stimulated any changes in any other control deck, either.

Combo has always had to deal with aggro-control and still has to. I’m sketchiest on the aggro decks, but I honestly haven’t heard of radical changes forced by Gro. The only new anti-aggro-control tech I’ve heard about is from the Virginia crew of Darren Di Battista, a.k.a. Azhrei. For some reason, their local store is infested with mono blue Fish decks that pack four Mishra’s Factories and three to four Faerie Conclaves, so they got Tsabo’s Webs for the manlands.

Finally, if by”huge influence” MaRo means that Gro defines the Type I metagame, then I am publicly referring him to www.misetings.com.

So last week, Type I forums were filled with inquiries:”What huge influence?”

You tell me.

Incidentally, this column was extremely tough to put together, especially in such a short time. I saw a few forum threads expressing curiosity about Gro, but when I started asking, for example, how Type I Gro matches up against Type I aggro, no one in my address book or on any forum could give me even vague answers. The best I could get to supplement my own experience were several guesses from people who’ve played against a little Gro casually.

Either Type I Gro is such a”huge influence” that every competent player is hoarding tech… Or none of the good players I know have bothered to play it seriously.

How Illusionary Mask holds Type I together

The last part of this Rosewater puzzle is the quote in Alex’s column:”‘Illusionary Mask is the only thing holding Type 1 together!’ – Comment made by Pat Chapin in a conversation about Type 1. And he proved it, too.”

What is Mask, anyway? It’s one of the cheesiest rules interactions I’ve ever seen, something that defies all common sense. It’s an artifact combo to boot so I might compare it to Masticore in Sealed Deck or Cursed Scroll in Tempest Block.

Illusionary Mask



Beta rare

X: Put a creature card with converted mana cost X or less from your hand into play face down. If the face-down creature deals damage, is dealt damage, or becomes tapped, turn it face up. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.

Phyrexian Dreadnought


Artifact Creature


Mirage rare

Trample. If Phyrexian Dreadnought would come into play, sacrifice any number of creatures with total power 12 or greater instead. If you do, put Phyrexian Dreadnought into play. If you don’t, put it into its owner’s graveyard.

Phyrexian Dreadnought was already errata’d to kill a degenerate combo with Pandemonium, but Wizards still hasn’t touched the Mask play that bypasses the required sacrifice. Even the Mask players are cheesed by it, but it’s still a three-turn kill for two cards and three mana. The only ways to stop it immediately are Balance, Moat, Swords to Plowshares, Edicts and Control Magic, since a few others such as Dismantling Blow can be discarded before the card is flipped over (even artifact-ness is hidden).

The best deck we’ve seen so far is Christian Flaaten’s black-based version, which is a cheesy aggro-control build that uses discard to disrupt and Tainted Pact to find combo pieces. (The original concept came from his friend Harald Ringstrom.) Some people have tried other approaches like a blue base, but the better players have concluded that a one-card combo (Morphling) is more streamlined.

Anyway, Pat wasn’t referring to any of these.

His last assumption is that only the Mask combo stops Gro. Thus, he feels that Mask holds Type I together because otherwise, Type I would be nothing but Gro against anti-Gro, or a”green summer” of sorts.

Pat summarized his theory:

“a. Some people play random things

b. Control beats random things

c. Power Artifact beats random things and control

d. Gro beats Power Artifact, and beats control and random things but not by the same margin as Power Artifact

e. Mask beats Gro, and is more or less even against everything else.

“My current theory is that Power Artifact with Masks and Dreadnaughts in board (and one The Abyss) is broken, but I am interested in thoughts.”

By now, I think you can figure out the summary of my own criticisms, and you can retrace the story of Extended to confirm your guess.

The value of the Type I network

Pat Chapin is, of course, an excellent player, and I certainly don’t have even a single Pro Tour Top 16 finish under my belt. Going to Type I, though, I think this brings out an interesting observation.

Pat doesn’t have any real Type I tournaments in his area (his playtest partner is mainly EDT), and doesn’t own a computer. I think that no matter how good you are, it’s just humanly impossible to break a format on your own, and certainly not a card pool as large as Type I. Even in Type II or block, you’ll always be missing something, and you need to at least pool your tech with a playtest group. And you need to practice against a wide array of opponents.

Just like the tournament formats, part of the fun of Type I is keeping abreast of what are going on in other parts of the world, especially since talk on the Net is pretty much the only source for Type I developments. EDT once opined that Type I”moves like molasses” because there’s no tournament circuit to inspire tech, but the Net is quite alive. Ironically, the lack of big tournaments means that there’s no incentive to hoard tech, except from your local store opponents.

Wizards’ attitude towards Type I

I hope you notice that I’ve tried to criticize Pat’s Type I gospel with all the respect I can muster. As I said, he’s a great player, a really fun guy, and someone who’ll talk strategy for the intellectual fun and not to tell the world he’s a troll who’s right about everything. (I’m half expecting an equally cordial rebuttal on Star City.) I’ve given the Chapin decklists used in this column to other people before, and they’ve given some people a few things to tinker with while having fun.

Hey, you can’t go wrong with a Misetings Good Man of the Week, can you?

But if I find Pat fun to talk to, I’m wary about what Rosewater said. Yes, it was just one paragraph about Type I, but it raises the eyebrows of anyone familiar with the context.

To cite just one of the many reactions MaRo provoked on the Type I network, here’s what longtime Beyond Dominia regular HengeWolf had to say:

“I am so astounded by the lack of knowledge and/or substance in that letter, that I think I’m just at a loss for words. We’re all doomed as long as that man is running the show. Unless, just maybe, enough people write him letters and convince him to actually research just what the hell he’s trying to talk about. I might not be a Type I expert, but it’s just so obvious that he probably never plays the format, or even really cares about it. Writing that letter was probably the most he’s thought about it in months at the very least.

“I almost get the feeling he’s treating Type I players with the same idiot-gloves he uses when handling anything casual, which to him is apparently anything not Type 2, Extended, or Draft. Sure, Wizards technically supports Type I and 1.5, but only so much that they exist. That is it. That’s not support, it’s more like life-support. Rather than revive or do anything productive to help those formats, they just leave them in a vegetable state hooked to a respirator… And think it’s enough for the ‘family’ of players that the format isn’t technically”dead.”

“I’m also starting to think the only reason they don’t just cut Type1 loose is that they want to maintain some control over it even if they don’t like it. If they canceled Type One as a format tomorrow, I bet there’d be regional or even national leagues starting up within weeks. Or people would just start playing it at the store level, the way it’s supposed to be. They maintain nominal control over it just because they don’t want to relinquish power, even if they’re determined to strangle the format until it becomes completely obscure.”

Again, there are a lot of Type I players in the world – many of them the game’s earliest customers – and most accept the business realities and don’t ask for much support. The most we ask for is sensible errata and three friggin’ rounds every Invitational.

We get neither, and we don’t even get the implicit request that no one treat us like idiot children. We wouldn’t mind not seeing anything about Type I on www.magicthegathering.com, but do they actually believe we’d be happier seeing comments like”(Card X) is surely broken in Type I!” and”Miracle Gro is a huge influence on Type I!” It’s not the comments per se, but the revealed mindset that Type I and I.5 are not meant to be taken seriously.

When you, say, criticize the Sydney Invitational Type I decks, hacks call you elitist, as though you’re a meaningless peasant with no right to raise a fist against the powers that be. Hey, I didn’t hear any positive reactions from the 5-Color community about the Cape Town Invitational decks, did I?

You know, I refrain from making casual remarks about Type I.5, 5-Color, Peasant Magic, and other formats I’m sure I know very little about. I do it because I don’t want to look like Inquest’s Steve Frohnhoefer – who has yet to answer my allegations of plagiarism and gross incompetence made months ago.

I’m sure, however, that the people behind the expansions we enjoy so much have a lot more sense and enjoy a lot more respect than your average Inquest editor. Hopefully, they’re open enough to feedback about their”other” sanctioned formats.

Right, Mark?

Oscar Tan

[email protected]

rakso on #BDChat on EFNet

Manila, Philippines

Forum Administrator, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi)

Featured writer, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/archive.php?Article=Oscar Tan)

Author of the Control Player’s Bible (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdominia/files/ControlBible.zip)

Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (http://www.starcitygames.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=list&forum=DCForumID89&conf=DCConfID19)

Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance (http://www.casualplayers.org)