As some of you might have seen, the Weaselly One decided to pull a prank on his birthday, and the formatting of my last column went haywire. Nevertheless, I’d like to correct a few glaring typos that were entirely my fault:
1) In the Goblin Sligh game against Gian Lao, I described how he cast a Jackal Pup against my The Abyss. Then I said,”With just one other card in hand, the only intelligent reason for Jackal Pup was following up with Reckless Charge or Goblin Grenade, with Charge especially painful since he could flash it back in the same turn. Though he only had two Charges left, there wasn’t much need to take calculated risks yet…”
Somewhere in there, it should have read,”…but he obviously wasn’t casting Goblin Grenade.” That only highlights how careless not countering the Pup was.
2) Commenting on Michael Long’s reply to an e-mail from Roland Bode, I wrote:”This is a surprisingly neutral response of one of the world’s best Type I deckbuilders, and comes on the heels of another striking statement from Mike.”
“Of” should have been”to.” Although Mike is recognized for playing the mono black Necrodeck in the Magic Invitational before its restriction, I was obviously referring to German Pro Roland Bode, developer of Growing ‘Tog and breaker of metagames.
3) Discussing Stifle, I omitted the note about Madness triggers. It’s minor and probably obvious, but Blue/Green Madness is being played, especially considering how the loss of Gush affects Growing ‘Tog.
4) The huge blue type at the end is a cleaner index of my Star City column archive. You can paste the URLs for your personal reference.
The Latest Monster From Dr. Bode-Nstein
It’s an open secret that Roland is developing a new Academy evolution, using Mike Long’s Lion’s Eye Diamond build as a starting point. I mentioned last week that we hadn’t played yet because I needed to catch him at home and not at the university LAN thanks to the time difference between Europe and East Asia.
Well, we got around to it, and we had some amusing games. In the very first game we played, I had to keep a mana-light, counter-heavy hand and failed to topdeck land early. His second land drop was Tolarian Academy, so I countered his Sol Ring in an attempt to slow him down by three mana. He let it go, then dropped two Lion’s Eye Diamonds, and said go.
The amusement came when I topdecked Flooded Strand, fetched Volcanic Island, then played Gorilla Shaman. I tapped out to munch, deactivating his Academy. A few topdecks later, he played a Mox and I responded with Ice on his Academy before he could float blue mana. That Ice got me two cards (via Shaman) instead of one, and he conceded after my Mana Drain on his last-ditch Wheel of Fortune, and two belated Wastelands.
I’d like to point your attention, though, to one game in particular:
19:48:47 – — RolandB says: ”I am ready.”
19:48:47 – — Rakso says: ”Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”
19:48:52 – Rakso drew 7 cards.
19:48:54 – RolandB drew 7 cards.
19:49:14 – Rakso says:’go’
19:49:16 – It is now turn 1.
19:49:17 – RolandB plays Gemstone Mine.
19:49:17 – Gemstone Mine is tapped.
19:49:22 – Gemstone Mine now has 2 counters. (+2)
19:49:28 – RolandB plays Mana Vault.
19:49:31 – Rakso says:’k’
19:49:35 – It is now turn 2.
19:49:40 – Rakso draws a card.
19:49:46 – Rakso plays Underground Sea.
19:49:49 – It is now turn 3.
19:49:55 – RolandB draws a card.
19:50:00 – RolandB plays Tolarian Academy.
19:50:06 – Mana Vault is tapped.
19:50:09 – RolandB plays Chromatic Sphere.
19:50:11 – Rakso says:’k’
19:50:27 – Gemstone Mine is tapped.
19:50:29 – Gemstone Mine now has 1 counters. (-1)
19:50:31 – RolandB plays Wheel of Fortune.
19:50:35 – Underground Sea is tapped.
19:50:36 – Rakso plays Brainstorm.
19:50:41 – RolandB says:’k’
19:50:43 – Rakso drew 3 cards.
19:51:07 – Rakso moves a facedown card to Rakso’s library.
19:51:09 – Rakso moves a facedown card to Rakso’s library.
19:51:09 – RolandB set Mana Vault NOT to Untap as Normal
19:51:17 – Rakso plays Force of Will.
19:51:20 – Rakso moves Morphling from Rakso’s hand to Rakso’s removed from game pile.
So far, so good, right?
19:51:21 – Rakso’s life is now 19. (-1)
19:51:45 – Tolarian Academy is tapped.
19:51:47 – RolandB plays Brainstorm.
19:51:49 – Rakso says:’k’
19:51:51 – RolandB drew 3 cards.
19:52:12 – RolandB moves a facedown card to RolandB’s library.
19:52:14 – RolandB moves a facedown card to RolandB’s library.
19:52:19 – RolandB’s life is now 19. (-1)
19:52:21 – It is now turn 4.
19:52:31 – Rakso says:’And it is only my SECOND turn :)’
19:52:32 – Rakso draws a card.
19:52:35 – Underground Sea is tapped.
19:52:37 – Rakso plays Duress.
19:53:14 – RolandB buries Brainstorm.
19:53:17 – Rakso plays Wasteland.
19:53:30 – RolandB buries Tolarian Academy.
19:53:31 – Rakso buries Wasteland.
Doing well. He has no business spells in hand, and he got nothing out of his Academy.
19:53:32 – It is now turn 5.
19:53:42 – RolandB’s life is now 18. (-1)
19:53:42 – RolandB draws a card.
19:53:43 – RolandB plays Polluted Delta.
19:53:46 – It is now turn 6.
19:53:51 – Rakso draws a card.
19:53:53 – Rakso plays Island.
19:53:53 – It is now turn 7.
19:54:03 – RolandB’s life is now 17. (-1)
19:54:04 – RolandB draws a card.
19:54:35 – RolandB moves Underground Sea from RolandB’s library to tabletop.
19:54:40 – Underground Sea is tapped.
19:54:41 – RolandB plays Brainstorm.
19:54:45 – Rakso says:’k’
19:54:47 – RolandB drew 3 cards.
19:55:07 – RolandB moves a facedown card to RolandB’s library.
19:55:09 – RolandB moves a facedown card to RolandB’s library.
19:55:14 – It is now turn 8.
19:55:18 – Rakso draws a card.
19:55:20 – Rakso plays Flooded Strand.
19:55:21 – Flooded Strand is tapped.
19:55:22 – Rakso’s life is now 18. (-1)
19:55:23 – Rakso buries Flooded Strand.
19:55:26 – Rakso moves Volcanic Island from Rakso’s library to tabletop.
19:55:28 – Volcanic Island is tapped.
19:55:30 – Rakso plays Gorilla Shaman.
He’s going for something…
19:56:08 – RolandB plays Dark Ritual.
Okay, stop reading right now and think.
I have a Mana Drain and two dead cards in my hand, and two blue open. Do I counter the Ritual?
A month ago, this would’ve been a fine strategy point – but it’s a very important question right now, since Roland was publicly criticized by Mike Long for maindecking Mind’s Desire (Roland will have five black mana floating, plus a Gemstone Mine and Chromatic Sphere to make blue mana).
But, you’re wise to the trick, right Oscar? It’s obvious that Roland is casting a last-ditch Mind’s Desire, and countering that Ritual will sabotage his obvious play?
Remember; that’s no random scrub. Again, that’s a German Pro who, among other things outside Type I, plays against Kai Budde in his Nationals.
This isn’t obvious at all. (While typing this up, I caught Jamie Schnitzius a.k.a. Grendal on IRC, and tried the scenario on him. He immediately withdrew the knee-jerk”counter, anticipating Desire” answer, and was quite perplexed. I also gave the scenario to Oliver Daems – a prominent DÃ¼lmen combo player and champion – and he was stymied as well.)
Why would Roland would cast both Rituals? While Mind’s Desire is the worst threat, you have to remember he also has Yawgmoth’s Bargain and Memory Jar, plus a handful of other possibles like Future Sight. Heck, Roland might even have his Hunting Pack if that last card in his hand is a mana source.
However, what if he’s not holding Mind’s Desire?
If you counter the second Ritual, he will still have one black mana and two of any color. That lets him play Ancestral Recall, Timetwister, Windfall, Wheel of Fortune, Necropotence, Tinker for Memory Jar, Demonic Tutor for Ancestral Recall, and so on… Even Burning Wish for Balance.
Heck, had I not known Roland maindecks Desire, I’d have to think about Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish for Yawgmoth’s Will, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Burning Wish for Mind’s Desire.
In short, what if my boxed-in opponent is bluffing, hoping I’m too paranoid about his uncounterable Mind’s Desire?
19:56:22 – Rakso says:’k’
19:56:24 – RolandB says:’bbbbb’
19:56:33 – RolandB plays Lotus Petal.
19:56:37 – Rakso says:’k’
19:56:48 – RolandB buries Chromatic Sphere.
19:56:49 – RolandB says:’u’
19:56:51 – Rakso says:’k’
19:56:58 – RolandB draws a card.
19:56:58 – RolandB buries Lotus Petal.
19:57:02 – RolandB plays Mind’s Desire.
19:57:04 – Rakso says:’damn’
19:57:07 – RolandB says:’4′
19:57:12 – Rakso says:’okay’
19:57:14 – RolandB is shuffling library…
19:57:17 – RolandB moves Timetwister from RolandB’s library to tabletop.
19:57:19 – RolandB is shuffling library…
19:57:23 – RolandB moves Necropotence from RolandB’s library to tabletop.
19:57:24 – RolandB is shuffling library…
19:57:26 – Rakso says:’!!!’
19:57:26 – RolandB moves Chromatic Sphere from RolandB’s library to tabletop.
19:57:31 – RolandB is shuffling library…
19:57:33 – RolandB moves Duress from RolandB’s library to tabletop.
19:57:38 – Rakso says:’oh crap’
And it comes down to what he draws off his library.
Reviewing Mind’s Desire, I commented:”Even if it were restricted, though, it’d still be there as some random ‘I win’ card to set up in the midgame, and it can be tutored for like any other card. Somehow, I feel that a properly set up lone Mind’s Desire seems even more impossible to recover from than a properly set up Necropotence or Yawgmoth’s Will.”
This is exactly what I was talking about. In a game against one of the most skilled players in the world, prior turns and board position suddenly become irrelevant and it comes down to a probability play on Turn 5?!?!
So much for player interaction, eh Wizards? When it happens, a random Desire is about as frustrating as an opponent drawing a Necropotence from his sleeve.
And no, it’s obviously not as simple as countering Hurkyl’s Recall – and Roland’s deck doesn’t even use it. This freak of R&D packs a good stretch of the restricted list, and is far from the cheapo mono blue idea I first showed. A combo deck full of bombs is nothing new, noting everything from Neo-Academy to Chapin Power Artifact, but having to decide whether or not the probabilities support countering mana instead throws a very ridiculous element of randomness into the face of every control and aggro-control deck out there.
I asked my Weaselly boss to delay this article until I could get the results from last weekend’s DÃ¼lmen, so I assume you’ll see this July 14 at the earliest. My apologies.
Anyway, Roland Bode and Benjamin Ribbeck took the deck Oliver Daems, Stefan Iwasienko and myself dubbed”R&D got hit by a bus” to 4-2-1 finishes. I was told they ran into some bad luck and tipped-off players who brought Meddling Mage and Arcane Laboratory. However, Falk Bernhardt went 6-1. Here’s the latest in combo technology:
1 Hunting Pack
1 Memory Jar
4 Dark Ritual
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Diamond
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mana Crypt
4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
1 Sol Ring
4 Chromatic Sphere
1 Tolarian Academy
4 City of Brass
4 Gemstone Mine
3 Underground Sea
Carsten KÃ¶tter, a.k.a. Mon, Goblin Chief won that DÃ¼lmen with”The Shining” or a Future Sight–Fastbond combo variant of”The Deck”, but R&D got hit by a bus was the combo being watched. Stefan Iwasienko, a.k.a. Womprax sent the list, and Oliver gave me a long practice run. Bode’s latest is hardly unbeatable – Tan home from a date that involved tequila kept beating Daems waking up and looking for coffee – but it can get frustrating, as I already described, because many pivotal moments involved not player skill but topdecks. In some cases, I’d be forced to hold back and he’d win only if he drew Mind’s Desire or Hunting Pack off something. Once, he lost to a timely Force of Will on Black Lotus after a Draw 7, after I correctly guessed he had to be holding Desire already.
This sort of randomness is ridiculous, and restricting Mind’s Desire may not be the complete solution we thought it was. In a format with every zero- and one-mana artifact ever printed plus Dark Ritual and Yawgmoth’s Will, I wonder if it wouldn’t be reasonable to just ban Storm, with exceptions like Wing Shards and Sprouting Vines.
Regardless, it would seem that Roland Bode is right and Michael Long is wrong; maindecking Mind’s Desire seems to be the stronger route. Also, interestingly enough, Lion’s Eye Diamond could force extreme plays. Sometimes, Oliver was forced to sac Lion’s Eye Diamond in response to a tutor, Burning Wish or Draw 7 before I’d decide to counter, and the outcome of the game hinged on how many counters I had in hand. I note the final build has no counters, just Duress and sideboard cards.
Oh, and if”R&D got hit by a bus” is a mouthful, I figure some smart aleck will condense that to”BangBus.” (Which also handles mouthfuls – The Ferrett)
This year’s GenCon will be held on July 23-26 at the Indianapolis Convention Center, and the Tenth Anniversary celebration will feature a Type I Championship sponsored by Wizards.
My position has always been that a single, isolated Type I event will not do much for fans, especially not if the showing lacks credibility and intellectual muscle, and certainly not as much as grassroots support at the store and FNM level, or the printing of commemorative Type I proxy decks. That’s why I refer to the Type I Championship as the Type I Grand Prix, a big event where anyone can just walk in unlike a Pro Tour or Nationals (well, anyone who lives nearby, is willing to drive for hours or shell out to fly over an ocean).
This year’s Origins may draw such criticism. The Saturday Type I event had a respectable 38-player turnout, but the finalist was a Suicide Black deck that braved Growing ‘Tog’s big men with four Flesh Reavers and Growing ‘Tog’s Misdirections with Hymn to Tourach and Sinkhole, played both Null Rod and Powder Keg, had Lotus Petal in place of a missing Black Lotus, and had twenty cards in the two-mana slot.
The semifinalist decks included a Super Gro (which Bode long since made obsolete) and a Tainted Mask with only one Tainted Pact (no, I’m not just peeved because it splashed red for Blood Moon, among other cards).
The Sunday event was won by a Reanimator deck, though it only had thirteen players – and commenting on that is like commenting on a Worldgorger Dragon vs. Invincible Counter Troll finals in a ten-man Star City Black Lotus tournament.
However, I was informed that there was a respectable turnout, and I should hunt down the decklists from the other days. There were a lot of acquaintances from TheManaDrain.com, fellow Paragon Stephen Menendian, a.k.a Smmenen took the first tournament with Growing ‘Tog, and a very well-modified”The Deck” build took Saturday undefeated.
Since Steve has already discussed Stax and Growing ‘Tog extensively, I’ll take up that last one today. I don’t know whether or not you’ll feel betrayed by an article detailing the 2003 nuances of”The Deck”, but I figure it’s worth the danger of informing your opponents at the Type I Grand Prix if it makes for a stronger overall showing.