Unfortunately, I have no Magic updates for this week. I haven’t gotten around to getting my e-mail program fixed yet, and I had other problems. Longtime Beyond Dominia regular Stephen Menendian, a.k.a. Smmenen, went to law school and told me theirs had this Barrister’s Ball. Well, I had to go to one, too, here in Manila and two professors picked that day to stretch their classes to six hours each. So there I was, sitting in class from 8 a.m. straight to 8 p.m., dressed in a suit, with roses on my table. It was a wonderful evening, but the look on the female professor’s face was priceless, along with the,”Why is Tan all dressed up?”
I’m not putting up the Ball photo with my date on the Internet, but I did find some photos from the Pro Tour Venice side event you might want to see (courtesy of Morphling.de), including a few of Mikey Pustilnik, who came all the way from New York.
Looking at Legions
Let’s finish this up. Again, our two rules:
- Is the card more efficient than an established benchmark? (Or, do I get more bang from my buck?)
- Does the card do something no past card ever did, and if it does, is this new card playable?
Randy Buehler mentioned that they wanted to rehash some old abilities in creature form in Legions. I mentioned before that you pay a little attention to the new form because creatures interact with other spells differently, from removal to creature-only search.
While Sphere of Resistance became key disruption in the recently highlighted Goblin Welder decks along with Smokestack, the mini-Nether Void doesn’t look like something you’d fish out with Survival of the Fittest midgame. It looks more like something you’d play after a creature or two, to preserve your momentum and keep the opponent down. Looking at white, though, this doesn’t look like something you can fit into White Weenie, costing one mana too much. Further, if you wanted the ability, you figure you might get the real Sphere for a lower price, or the real Void for a higher price. Glowrider is easier to kill and doesn’t affect creatures, though the latter isn’t as important.
It’s something to note, nevertheless, because of the nature of the disruption. Remember that Hypnotic Specter is this kind of creature, and is also two power for three mana. It may find a place somewhere in the future.
6/6 for four mana is a bargain even by Type I standards, and the drawback is irrelevant against a lot of creatureless or near-creatureless decks. You go back to the question, however, of whether or not a deck needs a big four-mana creature in the first place; again, why aren’t Juzam Djinn, Grinning Demon and Phyrexian Scuta particularly incredible in mono black?
Simply, it costs a bit too much in red decks where almost everything costs one mana and your most expensive cost is activating Cursed Scroll for three. It also makes you vulnerable to tempo-swinging Mana Drain reverses. Simply, four mana is a bit too slow for you, and read last week’s article for the details.
Four mana isn’t so bad, though, and there are some uses for fat creatures. Some Type I Super Grow builds, for example, used Mystic Enforcer as something that got around Moat and The Abyss, and was big enough to give Morphling and many other creatures fits. Red decks in older formats have used things like Balduvian Horde and Goon’s predecessor Orgg for a little extra muscle against weenies. In Type I, though, this sideboard slot is owned by the more flexible, more resilient Masticore.
Wizards pointed Type I players to Illusionary Mask when they introduced Morph trigger creatures. Building a deck around Mask, though, requires a bit of work, and you need to Mask out a really good creature to make all that worth it. So far, the standard is set by Phyrexian Dreadnought, and it’s a very tough one.
Players nevertheless wondered out loud whether or not you could use Morph trigger creatures as secondary, support cards in Mask decks. I can immediately answer no. Take a look:
Chris Flaaten, Tainted Mask, November 2002
1 Black Lotus
1 Sol Ring
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
4 Dark Ritual
3 Mishra’s Factory
3 Underground Sea
1 Underground River
3 Snow-Covered Swamp
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Polluted Delta
The deck is extremely tight, and there’s hardly anything you can cut. Threats, certainly, are already at a minimum. You have just enough of search, disruption and mana as well. Simply, nothing is worth cutting to make room for a conditional support card that works when a Dreadnought is on the board to protect – in other words, when you’re winning. Moreover, it’s at least as easy to find a second Dreadnought instead of protecting the first one, and you don’t have to stick a weaker Morph creature in your deck to do this. Finally, it’s pointless as a bluff card since Masked creatures are 0/1 and not 2/2, and the ruse ends the moment the 0/1 fails to attack.
This reasoning was perhaps proven by Carl Devos, the Paragon from Belgium. He tried to design a Mask variant that used Full English Breakfast components, and originally put in Willbender and the Seal of Counterspell, Voidmage Apprentice. He took second place at the Pro Tour Venice side event (losing to Mikey Pustilnik playing”The Deck”), but the final version of”Vengeur Masque” had just one Voidmage Apprentice left for utility (from four slots for Willbender and Apprentice). Again, the more conventional, more aggressive builds likely won’t even have room.
3 Back to Basics
1 Bottle Gnomes
1 Druid Lyrist
1 Elvish Lyrist
1 Ravenous Baloth
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Suq’Ata Firewalker
2 Uktabi Orangutan
1 Waterfront Bouncer
While Orcish Lumberjack brings back fond memories, I still have no idea why they recycled its ability in a four-mana body and smile about it to boot. Or does R&D really build our decks for us, and they knew all along that Kilnmouth Dragon was going to be a superstar in Onslaught Block Constructed? Well, in any case, not in Type I…
In other news, Blood Celebrant is sort of a reverse Clerics of the Ebon Hand if you remember it, with about as much utility and none of the alternate art.
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
While people called the new Angel the best reanimation or Oath of Druids target since Spirit of the Night, it’s not as hard to kill as one might think. It doesn’t, for example, shrug off the most important removal like Swords to Plowshares, Chainer’s Edict, or even Control Magic and Gilded Drake. Moreover, 6/6 isn’t that big, and combat-only abilities like first strike don’t really add much a lot of the time.
Interlude: Overheard on #bdchat on EFNet
??> havent played at all in like a year
??> the police confiscated my cards
??> all my moxen and jewels
??> driving with no license, they impounded my car
??> didnt get it out, no money
??> they auctioned the car with the s**t inside it
??> who knows what happened to the cards
And looking at the other end of the spectrum, they made Krosan Cloudscraper a 13/13, but they didn’t give it trample. Argh.
No, despite Survival of the Fittest, no one was able to break Phage.
I started a thread on the topic in the Star City Forums, and here was the best try of a fellow Filipino:
Phage Eats Breakfast.dec, Glenson Lim a.k.a. Glenchuy, January 2003
The Combo (14)
4 Volrath’s Shapeshifter
4 Survival of the Fittest
2 Cephalid Inkshrouder
2 Phage the Untouchable
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Fact or Fiction
4 Mana Leak
Some of the tribal support creatures are amazing in Limited, such as Timberwatch Elf. Now, outside Limited, people may not want to spend for the rares for theme decks, so it’s nice to have a few common and uncommon fun cards. The Lookout caught my eye, reminding you of the older Orc General, only stronger.
First of all, bounce isn’t so strong in Type I with all the cheap permanents (or permanent-light decks), as evidenced by the lack of Tradewind Riders. Next, Keeper of the Nine Gales is obviously weaker than Tradewind; aside from the Bird requirement, the 1/2 body doesn’t do”block one, bounce another” combat tricks.
And, simply, all the Birds are just too small or too expensive to be attractive even in casual play.
I keep saying to watch out for creature abilities that can be taken advantage of, using interactions with creature-specific cards. This strange fellow, for example, can be used as a finisher for any cute creature-based infinite mana combo, like its predecessor Reckless Embermage. One example is using Anarchist and Living Death with mana creatures.
Wall of Deceit
This is another interesting card for the budget player. In a lot of more casual environments, a relatively focused blue deck just needs some way to survive the early rush. Lacking choice rares such as Powder Keg, beginning blue mages invariably become attracted to tricks like Energy Field. Two-mana Walls are simple, but are hardly bad, and this one can beat down or trade. Note that this is a good alternative to the venerable Wall of Tears, and Fog Bank is too small while Wall of Air is awkward on the mana curve.
rakso on #BDChat on EFNet
University of the Philippines, College of Law
Forum Administrator, Star City Games
Featured Writer, Star City Games
Author of the Control Player’s Bible
Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (R.I.P.)
Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance