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You CAN Play Type I Unless You’re Rizzo #27 The Control Player’s Bible Part XI, The Rubies

Last week, we talked about white as the”classic” tertiary color because it has a lot of staple silver bullets like Circle of Protection: Red. That leaves two colors, red and green.

The Control Player’s Bible, Table of Contents:

Part I: Overview

Part II: History, 1994-1996

Part III: History, 1996-2000

Part IV: History, 2000-2002

Part V: A sample control mirror match

Part VI: Playing the core cards: Counters and tutors

Part VII: Playing the core cards: Card drawing and removal

Part VIII: Playing the Sapphires

Part IX: Playing the Jets

Part X: Playing the Pearls

Part XI: Playing the Rubies

Guess who can’t play Type I?

Yeah, chief, I heard you.

Even though he can’t play Type I, he’s opening the Reader’s War, since I sent my column early and some others said they wanted time to compose nice replies to their readers. We’re going to shatter his career by exposing his gentle side.

So, here’s the first segment, courtesy of Jeff Wiles:

> —–Original Message—–

> From:”John Rizzo” [email protected]

> Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2002 1:21 PM

> To: [email protected]

> Subject: Re:

>

> — Jeff Wiles <[email protected]> wrote:

> >

> > Rizzo,

>

> Hola Jeff,

> >

> > Oscar Tan said:”I’d like you to stop every time you

> > read an article you

> > enjoy, and take the time to e-mail a short message

> > to the writer. It doesn’t

> > have to be long or soppy; it doesn’t take a lot of

> > words to tell a guy you

> > enjoyed his work.”

>

> That was some good stuff he wrote, and very true. It

> doesn’t take much to make a writer’s day, and a little

> note with a kudos or the like goes a long way to

> keeping the writer interested. Thanks much, I

> appreciate it.

> >

> > So here I am telling you how much I enjoyed your

> > Prerelease report. And

> > last week’s article, and the Bruce article, and all

> > those other articles.

>

> Again, thanks for checking out my stuff. The fact that

> you enjoy it is some sexy indeed.

> >

> > By the way, at Tennessee States, some kid (at Table

> > 1 no less) busted out an

> > Escape Artist and I chuckled to myself and glanced

> > Maine-wards.

>

> Heh; the Crossroads guys are playing him like he’s

> going out of style. Him and Confessor are seemingly in

> every draft deck. Heh and double heh. Still, people

> pay for different reasons, most of which I respect.

> >

> > Later,

> > Jeff Wiles

> > Who has to work hard to develop his own writing

> > style and not just copy

> > JFR’s*

>

> Copying my”style” would be funny as hell, but

> probably wouldn’t get you any gravy points with the

> rest of the world. As Gary Wise wrote to me after the

> Wakefield article : (paraphrasing) Just keep writing

> what you like and your style will find itself.

> >

> > *And who has to resist the urge to use excess

> > footnotes like a certain

> > editor**

>

> I find myself not ever scrolling to the end for those.

> Perhaps it’s just me, but they do sometimes get

> annoying. A couple are cool, but when the author is

> using pluses or something else because he ran out of

> asterisks, then something is wrong. Still, it’s all

> good.

> >

> > **But the footnote thing is really more of a Terry

> > Pratchett emulation than

> > a Ferrett emulation.

>

> I might have to check this Pratchett guy out – I’ve

> heard nothing but good things.

>

> Thanks again for taking the time to drop me a note,

> and would you mind if I forwarded your mail to Oscar?

> I’m sure he’d be pleased to know that you did indeed

> take him up on his offer.

>

> John Friggin’ Rizzo

Oops… Advice from”best friend” Gary Wise? Heck, Gary Wise and I had an intercontinental Eric Taylor harassment session last week, and I offered to invite Rizzo over to trash talk on Taylor’s side to even it up. Gary exclaimed,”Nah, he’d just keep calling me Becky!”

Maybe next week, we can feature a letter of admiration from Rizzo to Gary

Where’s the Torment?

I had a lot of fun at the Torment Prerelease last weekend, after months of hibernating with my law books. What spoiled it, though, was DCI not even sending enough foil Prerelease cards for half the players. See, the Manila community has been growing, and my regular store had to hold four events on two separate days because they got over four hundred people for Torment.

One store.

The owner, Freddie Tan of Hobby Cafรƒยฉ in the Robinson’s Galleria mall, looked like an Italian chef telling a diner he was out of pasta as he explained why I (and the two hundred people in the hall) wasn’t getting a foil card. He just can’t help it if we don’t have the Magic population of Japan. Heck, for the Planeshift prerelease, he only got a hundred foils (and he distributes to the provinces, too, not just downtown Manila).

Boy, that was one embarrassed organizer.

100 prerelease cards for an entire country?!?! You can tell how they came up with that $3.29 virtual pack pricing scheme…

Anyway, I only remembered about my Torment review when I walked into our Prerelease, and it puts me in a tight spot. See, I have two colors left, and it’s impolite to leave this series hanging. On the other hand, with guys like Rizzo talking about Torment in the meantime, it looks like we’re not going to have much time to undo the damage:

“How to evaluate the new cards: a primer by a guy who, despite Oscar Tan insistence, cannot play Type 1. Seriously, Oscar, I can’t. So change your column title to ‘You CAN Play Type One, Unless You’re Rizzo.’

1) Look at the card.

2) Look at your knee.

3) Watch it jerk – your knee, not the card.

4) Stop thinking what you’re thinking.

5) Put the card down and start over.”

Hooooboy…

What we’ll do is give me next week to finish up my rough list of Torment picks, which also gives me one more column to finish the last color and a few other miscellaneous notes. Then, we suspend the Control Player’s Bible for a while to make room for Torment.

Hope that’s okay… Of course, everyone’s free to e-mail theories, and if it’s an angle I didn’t cover already, I’ll print the letter.

The Rubies

Last week, we talked about white as the”classic” tertiary color because it has a lot of staple silver bullets like Circle of Protection: Red. That leaves two colors, red and green.

If you looked at the modern decklists in Part IV, you saw that red is the usual choice for the second tertiary color. Both colors have just a handful of maindeck spells and powerful sideboard spells, but they go in opposite directions.

In general, red helps against other control decks, while green helps against beatdown.

The mana follows the general rule you’ve seen in the past articles; you wouldn’t want to go lower than three or four Volcanic Islands or Tropical Islands because you need cards like Red Elemental Blast, Sylvan Library, and Compost turn 1.

Gorilla Shaman, a.k.a. Mox Monkey

R

Creature-Ape

1/1

Alliances uncommon

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

Dwarven Miner

1R

Creature-Dwarf

1/2

Mirage uncommon

2R, Tap: Destroy target nonbasic land.


Some old school players swear that Gorilla Shaman card turned Type I upside-down when it was printed.

Yes, first-turn Force of Will wars were fought over this in the Kuala Lumpur Invitational dominated by Academy and its cheap artifact mana – and even after the 1999 restrictions, I’ve made Academy players cry just by topdecking this.

Against non-combo decks, it basically eats an opponent’s Moxen (and shuts down Tolarian Academy) in one pass, gaining card advantage while cutting his mana. Both are lethal early in the game. It also kills a few other annoyances like Cursed Scroll, Black Vise, and Scrying Glass.

The Land Destruction option

All this is obvious, of course, but what isn’t is that Shaman has to be played as part of a larger strategy.

Sure, sometimes, you just see an early opening against an opponent with more Moxen than land, but silver bullets don’t always win on their own.

Brian Weissman e-mailed me after he looked over the very first drafts of this series, and emphasized:”One really important thing that you should stress – and something that I always try to explain to the Zvis of the world (the know-it-alls who think that Type I control is about Mind Twist and Yawgmoth’s Will), is that Type I control decks played correctly are most similar to Land Destruction decks.”

Yes, he said land destruction.

And he doesn’t ever want you to forget it.

“You generally have massive mana dominance at all stages of the game, and if you play correctly you should win about 75-80% of your games by simply denying your opponent access to mana. This means tutoring for Wastelands, Regrowing Wastelands, countering, Mana Draining and Force of Willing Moxes, and getting your Shamans out as quickly as possible. You don’t need counterspells when your opponent has no land, and your opponent can’t really threaten you with just a few mana sources in play.

“The most powerful form of card advantage a Type I control deck can obtain is one gained from your opponent being unable to play a spell. Also, if your opponent manages to get early mana going, your highest priority should be a mid game Armageddon with Balance and Zuran Orb. All of the card advantage issues and power cards are fairly incidental compared to the mana issue, especially in the mirror matchup.”

Surprising as it may sound, people have lost to me with no permanents in play and no cards in hand, thanks to Shaman + Wastelands drawn like mad. If you look at Brian’s post-sideboard deck for the mirror match, it’s very difficult to beat, since it’s been equipped with one Strip Mine, four Wastelands, four Gorilla Shamans and two Dwarven Miners for years.

The Caveat to the Land Destruction option

I don’t completely agree, though.

For example, I think using Force of Will on a Mox is an incredible waste. The only time I think it’s worth it is if I’m ready with a Morphling – and even then I’d just counter the threat he plays. I only have eight real counters, and I’d rather save them for the threats an opponent in a weak position topdecks, because Ancestral Recall or Balance alone turns the tables on you.

Nevertheless, it’s a matter of degree. Listen carefully to Brian, because the land destruction strategy is just one of the many options you can set up when you see the opportunity. If you can wipe out his Moxen and leave him at less than five land, consider it, depending on what else is in hand and in play. (Remember Part V and how having less mana can be fatal?)

Remember: There is no single rule for playing”The Deck,” other than adapting to what’s going on.

How completely you agree, though is reflected in your deck. I’m probably the only person on Beyond Dominia who uses all four Wastelands, with most preferring three or even two. I enjoy the land destruction option when it presents itself – but I also hate losing to Library of Alexandria and Bazaar of Baghdad-Squee more than most. Otherwise, I’d swap the last for an Underground Sea or even Tolarian Academy to smooth my mana.

But is Wasteland bad?

No, but it’s mediocre against mono color decks… And there are a lot of good ones in Type I, packing the most powerful cards in their colors since 1994. They give up brokenness for dreadful consistency, and mono blue has won every Beyond Dominia Type I Tournament of Champions to date (thanks to brutal”The Deck” hate). Again, every Wasteland you add is another precious colored mana source removed.

Next, is Dwarven Miner powerful?

Hell, yes, and a six-year old with four maindecked in Sligh can get a lucky one out on turn 1 or 2 and win right there. But the same caveat applies; it doesn’t do anything to mono-blue control, and isn’t as effective against two-color builds like blue/black and blue/red.

Finally, is Gorilla Shaman powerful?

We already said it is… But would you maindeck two and sideboard two more like Brian? Again, along with two Miners, you basically give your sideboard four cards that are good against”The Deck” but unusable against every other control deck. Against mono blue with five Moxen, for example, Shaman is good when it catches a lot of them very early, but you have nothing to follow up with. Having four of them there means you have a lot of potential plain 1/1s and a lot less gamebreakers.

Shaman is also far less of a threat against green variants of”The Deck.” They use or side Oath of Druids and retaliate with a free Morphling, something called the”Oath trap.” (The term was first used by Zvi Mowshowitz when he described his tentative deck for the Kuala Lumpur Invitational on Mindripper. Even Zvi admits the deck was horrible and he went with Forbidian instead, but at least the nickname”Oath trap” caught on.)

In short, the land destruction overdose kills anything with nonbasics, but half your sideboard cards against control become useless against every other control deck. Most players I know just maindeck one or two Gorilla Shamans and use broader sideboard options. Besides, you have to admit Dwarven Miner is one of the cheesiest possible sideboards, though it can break certain metagames.

On a rules note, remember Shaman can’t hit artifact creatures, which include Mishra’s Factory and Phyrexian Dreadnoughts cheesily played via Illusionary Mask.

And a couple of last notes: First, you might forget that Gorilla Shaman also trades for 2/1 creatures, and that it deals damage – yes, I’ve killed people with nothing but Gorilla Shaman before. Second, if you get a Dwarven Miner played on you and can’t kill it, remember that you can still Wasteland his Volcanic Island or City of Brass to keep it from mining for a while.

Of course, remember that this is all for”The Deck.” Gorilla Shaman and Dwarven Miner have the same limitations in Sligh, but an aggro deck can exploit stalls from early landkill a lot faster. Shaman also munches Zuran Orb and is still one power for one mana, which makes it at least a passable maindeck.

Red Elemental Blast

R

Instant

Beta common

Choose one – Counter target blue spell or destroy target blue permanent.

Pyroblast

R

Instant

Ice Age common

Choose one – Counter target spell if it’s blue; or destroy target permanent if it’s blue.

The single Gorilla Shaman aside, you’ll note that my deck has four Volcanic Islands, but no other red spells except the Red Elemental Blasts in the sideboard.

Is it that good?

This single card practically defines the mirror match. Imagine having a counter half the cost of everything else your opponent has. Imagine being able to kill many key spells with just one mana.

It’s so good you try to get red mana by turn 1, just for this card. In fact, take a look at all the Extended decks from Oath to Finkula with no other red spells but Pyroblast. (So imagine why a smart opponent will aim all his land destruction at the Volcanic Islands that sat uselessly in Game 1.)

How to use a Blast is obvious. Just pay attention to what you use on blue spells, because it’s no good to Mana Drain an opponent’s Fact or Fiction, then get a Mind Twist in your face when he untaps. The fact that not all of a blue-based deck’s key spells are blue, incidentally, is why having three or four Blasts is indispensable, but having a lot more is counterproductive.

The more subtle use of Blasts, though, is to kill any blue permanent without having to add narrow removal.”Blue permanent” includes Back to Basics, Ophidian, Shadowmage Infiltrator, and Rootwater Thief, plus a few others like Dandan, so you can see how Red Elemental Blast saves your life against control.

When you use it against blue permanents, though, always wait until they resolve before Blasting (if you want to use normal counters, do it first, but save the Blast till after). The above blue permanents usually come with Misdirection. You can Misdirect Red Elemental Blast to Misdirection when you use Blast to counter, but not when it’s aimed at the board.

Pyroblasts are the familiar card in Extended, but when you see them in lists for the Type I portions of Invitationals, they’re just big oversights. Pyroblasts used to be better because they could be discarded when faced with Black Vise and could kill creatures like Skulking Ghost, which died if targeted.

Black Vise has since been restricted, Skulking Ghost hasn’t seen competitive play in years, and Pyroblast targeting Back to Basics can be Misdirected to land.

A bit of trivia: Back in the good old days when we had these confusing things called”interrupts,” Blasts were funny because they were interrupts when used to counter but instants when used to destroy. If you can find Alpha Blasts, buy them because they read”instant” by mistake. Now, they actually read right because all interrupts are now instants. (Yes, they’re tournament-legal in black sleeves.)

Burnout

1R

Instant

Alliances uncommon

Counter target instant spell if it is blue. Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn’s upkeep.

What if Pyroblast cost one more mana but replaced itself, would that be a better side?

Maybe.

What if it lost the ability to kill blue permanents like Back to Basics and Ophidian?

That’s like saying you should’ve used Scorching Missile over Liquid Fire in last weekend’s Prerelease.

We’ve seen this in Extended sideboards, but I have no idea why the Mikey Pustilnik decklist I was given had it.

Pyroclasm

1R

Sorcery

Ice Age uncommon

Pyroclasm deals 2 damage to each creature.

Fire/Ice is great against Sligh and it’s 2/1s. Do you sideboard more Fires against Sligh and other weenie decks?

Nah…

If you have the Volcanic Islands to support three or four Red Elemental Blasts, think of Pyroclasm as the Balance that doesn’t backfire and Mind Twist you. You use it in the same way, and you can maindeck one as a second Balance in weenie-heavy metagames.

You rarely load up on this, though, because it’s just to stabilize before Abyss or Moat (or Circle of Protection: Red) comes out.

Obliterate

6RR

Sorcery

Invasion rare

Obliterate can’t be countered. Destroy all artifacts, creatures, and lands. They can’t be regenerated.

This is the Obliterate excerpt from the Sydney Invitational:”Finkel let Long do all the card drawing he wanted and then tried to Mind Twist. Long fended off the Twist, but he had to use one of his Force of Wills to do it. He then used the other to stop Gorilla Shaman from coming into play, because it could have eaten most of Long’s mana, including the Fellwar Stone that was Long’s MVP this game.

“Eventually, Finkel Mystical Tutored for Yawgmoth’s Will and set up one of the most degenerate combos the worlds has ever seen: First he cast Obliterate, the uncounterable spell from Invasion that blows up all lands, creatures, and artifacts. Then he played out the two Moxes and Black Lotus he was saving and used them to cast Yawgmoth’s Will. The Will allowed him to put the other three Moxes plus the Lotus back into play and then he played Tolarian Academy from his graveyard. With all that mana he used Mind Twist to knock Long’s entire hand away and then Stroked himself for five. Surprise, surprise, Finkel was able to win from that position.”

Finkel wrote in his own report:”I felt so especially bad for ending the tournament with such an utter and crushing victory over him. I’m sure there are certain pieces of his anatomy still tender from the beating I gave him in one turn… Let’s just say the highlights included destroying all permanents in play, then playing over a half dozen cards out of my graveyard, followed by a Mind Twist for seven and a Stroke of Genius for five. I think the Baron almost had a heart attack as he watched.”

That was what Sideboard told you. Now, this is the real story:

Rakso I was wondering why you guys used Obliterate

Rakso You, Bob and Jon

Rakso I understand Pikula and Zvi would’ve used it, too, had they played”The Deck” ๐Ÿ™‚

Rakso We tried it and didn’t get it ๐Ÿ™‚

NoahB I did not, but they did

Rakso Oops

Rakso Wrong list then

NoahB But its very good with Yawgmoth’s Will

Rakso We figured Diabolic Edict does the same thing

NoahB You just replay all the Moxes

Rakso Right

Rakso If your opponent anticipated it though

Rakso He could hold Lotus and Will like you

NoahB Nobody knew about it

Rakso Basically we figured it was rather slow in a lot of matches except the control mirror

Rakso Would it be fair to say it was a surprise card just for Sydney?

NoahB But we all knew what our last 3 matchups were

Rakso We all think that Obliterate is jank

Rakso Since you tested against Finkel

Rakso Did it hose you?

GaryW Finkel gave Long the single greatest trashing of that tournament with it

GaryW It seems like it would be vg as a sideboard card vs control

GaryW You may be right

GaryW Maybe Long screwed up/didn’t have Drain in hand

GaryW Finkel Twisted Long’s hand that same turn

Rakso You can Mana Drain, attack, get the mana in the second phase

Rakso So it can get nuts

Rakso But if you have 10 mana and a full hand

Rakso What more do you need to win? ๐Ÿ™‚

GaryW Well yeah

GaryW But Jon was making sure Mike couldn’t go proactive on his turn anyways

GaryW It took an extraordinary set of circumstances

Rakso Too many people forgot the”extraordinary”

Rakso Tried playing the deck in T1 thinking it was invincible

Rakso Got their asses handed to them ๐Ÿ™‚

GaryW It should also be pointed out that the Invitationalists will often play a card for the fun value

GaryW Like, there’s no way Atogatog belonged in Scott’s 5c deck this year:)

Rakso lol

GaryW I almost played Time Stretch in mine ๐Ÿ™‚

Rakso Boeken thinks Obliterate was a surprise, you think it was fun

Rakso Best explanation I have ๐Ÿ™‚

Rakso Were you guys serious on that Obliterate tech?

Pikula Obliterate is powerful control on control

Pikula But I don’t know if it is worth it

Rakso We tried it

Rakso Figured Diabolic Edict was better…

Pikula Heh

Pikula It was Bob Maher’s idea

Pikula So I dunno

Rakso Maher?

Rakso Really!

Rakso What was the original idea?

Pikula I think he just liked the surprise value

Pikula Jon just did it because Bob said it was a good idea

In short, it was less a stroke of genius that redefined Magic than it was Bob Maher, Jr.’s fun card for the Invitational. And it was certainly cute, though at Mike Long’s expense. (The above, by the way, are Noah Boeken, Gary Wise, and Chris Pikula.)

The funny thing is, that wasn’t the end of the story. Magic players around the world suddenly got the impression that Obliterate was the invincible spell of Type I. The instant guru vs. veteran confrontation was an absolute laugh riot on the Meridian Magic mailing list.

You can skip these memorable highlights, but I don’t recommend it:

———————————————————-

From: Patrick Minton <[email protected]> (to Brian Epstein)

To: [email protected]

Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 14:17:54 +0200



I also am no Pro-level Type I player, but I’ll give this a shot, too:



>Brian Epstein wrote:

> IMO, Obliterate costs too much. I’d use something else. But I’m not

> Jon Finkel by *any* stretch of the imagination.



Obliterate doesn’t really cost too much in a Format with Moxes, Lotus, Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, and Tolarian Academy (note to self: avoid that stuff R&D was smoking). Obliterate is just too good not to play, getting your ass out of a lot of situations. And it’s also one reason that”The Deck” isn’t a very good choice in Type I: Obliterate just destroys you.

———————————————————-

From: “Oscar Tan” <[email protected]> (to Patrick Minton)

Date: Mon Mar 26, 2001 7:38 am

Obliterate just destroys you?



Of course not. ๐Ÿ™‚



Only if you’re not good enough a player to avoid overextending. (One hint is the mana base.)



Obliterate isn’t something I’m playing with because I want to hose

“The Deck.” I’m using it in casual play against some random

permanent-heavy control decks my group is suddenly fond of.



———————————————————-

From: Patrick Minton <[email protected]> (to Oscar Tan)

To: [email protected] 8:12 AM



Obliterate does not destroy you because you’ve overextended (which control decks shouldn’t be doing anyway) with your permanents. Obliterate destroys you because in Type I it’s possible to generate enough mana to cast Obliterate, Yawgmoth’s Will, Mind Twist for five and Braingeyser five in the same turn. I’ve seen a lot of rounds in Type I where both players have five or six cards in hand at the beginning of the turn, then one player Obliterates and does some broken stuff, leaving one player permanentless and with an almost empty hand.

…Of course, the other situation is where Obliterate just saves your ass from an otherwise unwinnable position, which also fine. I’d definitely want to have one in my deck to tutor for.



Patrick

———————————————————-

From: “Sulemain” <[email protected]>

Date: Mon Mar 26, 2001 10:26 am

Obliterate is an uncounterable Balance with more power. It is most useful

versus control, but don’t dismiss its overall merit. It has very good synergy with Yawgmoth’s Will and the keeping of Moxen in your hand. The biggest problem people have with it is that it requires you to play extremely well to make it good.

———————————————————-

From:”Brian Weissman” (to Patrick Minton)

To: <[email protected]>

Sent: Monday, March 26, 2001 12:53 PM

Sorry, but I just have to comment on your last statement, I can’t help it!

You say that The Deck is not a good option to use in Type I these days because of Obliterate??? Are you kidding me? Why don’t you try actually playing some games of Type I against a skillful player using a control deck, and see how many times you live long enough to actually get the eight mana into play needed to cast Obliterate. Most people don’t realize this, but”The Deck” and similar designs are more about land destruction than they are about anything else. Between five Strip Mines, three Tutors, tons of other card drawing, Yawgmoth’s Will, Disenchant, Regrowth, Balance/Zuran Orb, and two Gorilla Shamans, it’s very common to have an opposing deck completely bereft of any permanents as late as 20 turns into the game.

Not only that, but you have Mind Twist whenever you need it, so you can Twist away their hand whenever they might get close to Obliterate mana. Sure, they can always top deck the spell with eight mana in play, but it’s not like you can’t hold back three mana sources and a few Drains, etc.

I’ve had people Obliterate me, and the next turn I have six mana sources in play and a Morphling!

Why don’t we play some games online and you get to play with as many Obliterates as you’d like, and we’ll see how many games the spell wins you.

If I overextended like an idiot and didn’t see it coming it might win you one game. One.

———————————————————-

From: “Brian Weissman” (to Patrick Minton)

Date: Mon Mar 26, 2001 1:02 pm

I think the situation that you claim to have seen”a lot” in Type I is actually just what happened between Jon Finkel and Mike Long at the Invitational.

… the truth of the matter is that Finkel totally had that game already. Mike Long was helpless to stop what was in Finkel’s hand without him even casting Obliterate, and all Jon had to do was cast Yawgmoth’s Will and all his other degenerate stuff. If someone does what you attempt, you can simply float mana in response to the Obliterate, leaving them with only the stuff they can bring back from the graveyard after they declare their attack step.

If you haven’t already lost the game in hand, then you can probably stop them with Force of Will. I’m telling you, the use of Obliterate that you’re describing in control on control is essentially an eight-mana Abeyance!

…Without a doubt, if you want a real weapon in control-on-control, main deck a single Mana Short. We used to do that all the time back in”the day” and most games came down to who used it first. Obliterate is just gimmicky and unneccesary, and it’s really unlikely you’ll ever see me using it.

———————————————————-

From:”Brian Weissman” (to Oscar Tan)

To: <[email protected]>

Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 5:36 AM

> Right on! I completely agree.

>

>Though, mind telling us how you got the six mana and Morph, Brian?

> Held back a Lotus and Yawgmoth’s Will?



That was basically it… The guy Obliterated, I untapped, played a Mox and the Black Lotus, cast Yawgmoth’s Will, brought back the Lotus, a Sol Ring, another Mox and a land, cast Time Walk and Morphling out of the graveyard, then untapped and played another blue source, giving me a total of seven untapped mana and an active Morphling, all essentially the turn after the guy cast Obliterate! But wait, doesn’t that spell just wreck me?

———————————————————-

From: “Sulemain” <sulemain@yahoo.com> (to Brian Weissman)

Date: Tue Mar 27, 2001 6:56 am

Heh. I hate to disagree with the creator, but everyone’s entitled to their

opinion… ๐Ÿ™‚



> That was basically exactly it…the guy Obliterated, I untapped, played a

> Mox and the Black Lotus, cast Yawgmoth’s Will, brought back the

> Lotus, a Sol Ring, another mox and a land, cast Time Walk and

> Morphling out of the graveyard, then untapped and played another blue

> source, giving me a total of seven untapped mana and an active

> Morphling, all essentially the turn after the guy cast Obliterate! But

> wait, doesn’t that spell just wreck me?



This paragraph helps prove my theory that to be really great at Type One

control, you must have an ego about it. (I know I do when I play.) ๐Ÿ˜‰



> sideboard. Generally, you just destroy the other guy’s lands at ANY cost,

> and try to keep him below four sources of Blue. If you implement your

> strategy well, you should be able to set up a large Mind Twist before

> he’s really able to stop it. Of course, if the game goes long, you can also



I don’t think this is as true any more. One of the cards that most don’t realize the significance of in this matchup is Teferi’s Response. I think land destruction is a little bit harder to pull off (but no less important) and much more complicated in the mirror match because of this card. I also think that this is one good reason why Dust Bowl may be no good. In the mirror, you would almost have to tap out to use the bowl and leave yourself open to be wrecked by a well-played Response.

…The problem with Fact or Fiction is that it costs four! That is way too much mana to rely on to get you the cards you need… How good is your hand with two Fact or Fictions and some other high casting cost card if you only have three mana? The other big issue is Disrupt.

The more FoF you play and rely on, the more Disrupt is going to hose you at some point. If you are tapping the majority of your mana out on the end of my turn for FoF, what can you counter with? If you have Mana Drain and FoW and use them both, all I have to do is use my Mana Drain and either a Disrupt or any other counter. Even though you are doing it on your turn, it doesn’t require much mana on my side to stop it. I can negate your effort with the same amount of mana… Minus the four you used for Fact or Fiction. I think this is very significant. Again, this is all versus a good player playing a good control deck.

———————————————————-

From: “Sulemain” <[email protected]> (to Brian Epstein)

Date: Tue Mar 27, 2001 6:40 am

… most people never realize that there are even good times to tutor for Lotus. It is a trade of your tutor and two mana now to get 3 extra mana next turn. Another reason to tutor for it is because of its amazing synergy with Twister, Balance, and especially Obliterate.

———————————————————-

From: “Oscar Tan” <[email protected]> (to Sulemain)

Date: Tue Mar 27, 2001 7:18 am

> This paragraph helps prove my theory that to be really great at type one

> control, you must have an ego about it. (I know I do when I play.) ๐Ÿ˜‰



Hmmm. No need to be sarcastic about it.

> I don’t think this is as true any more. One of the cards that most don’t

> realize the significance of in this matchup is Teferi’s Response. I think

> land destruction is a little bit harder to pull off (but no less important)

> and much more complicated in the mirror match because of this card. I

> also think that this is one good reason why Dust Bowl may be no good.

> In the mirror, you would almost have to tap out to use the bowl and

> leave yourself open to be wrecked by a well-played Response.



True, but following your logic, Ancestral Recall and Mind Twist should be removed from all Type I decks in case the opponent has Misdirection (and this is certainly playable)…

… four mana [for Fact or Fiction] isn’t too tough, since it is an instant and the deck has so many mana sources. It can be played at the end of your turn, and you have to calculate if you can afford to fight it. Against permission and playing control, I always had the problem of having nothing (in a casual environment with no sideboards) to bait a counter war with aside from Ancestral Recall and Stroke of Genius (and Disenchant on some occasions).

———————————————————-

From: “Brian Weissman” (to Sulemain)

Date: Tue Mar 27, 2001 12:13 pm

Bravo, Oscar, very well said! I agree with all your counterarguements, and they’re so well stated that you have saved me almost all the effort of replying :). One thing to consider is the fact that not every deck in Type I is permission, and there are plenty of other strategies that people use… They are simply helpless to stop the avalanche of card advantage generated by Fact Or Fiction.

…once the game gets under way, you pretty much have to counter every Fact or Fiction that I cast, and there’s no way you’re winning a game when you’re going through a permission war with me five times at the end of your turn.

———————————————————-

From: “Sulemain” <[email protected]> (to Oscar and Brian)

Date: Tue Mar 27, 2001 8:19 am

Okay, this is why I normally don’t post to these lists. I’m beginning to

regret it already. It is way too easy for someone to misconstrue what you

are saying and then never be able to get past that point. Here is my attempt

though…

And that was basically that.

Obliterate is one of the best control cards I’ve ever seen for casual play – best as in hilarious and amusing best. During the above exchange, I stuck Obliterate in my deck out of curiosity and a desire to annoy a mono blue and an artifact lock player in the cafeteria. (I got bored with it very quickly and yanked it as I found Fact or Fictions one by one.)

Your opponent will look like he’s been slapped with a trout, and you can recover before he does even if you hold just back a Library of Alexandria or have Sylvan Library.

When not clowning around, though, it’s one of the worst topdecks against everything. Even against control, an opponent may win before you get eight (or double red) mana, or hold back Forces of Will to force his Yawgmoth’s Will.

Back in the above flame war, it was easier to spot someone using Obliterate for casual, unsideboarded play because a lot of Volcanic Islands but no red cards was a giveaway. Nowadays, they can justify it with Fire/Ice along with Shaman, so it’s tougher. If you suspect it, just hold back mana sources, but play to avoid a long counter war involving hard cast Forces of Will.

On a rules note, Mana Drain produces mana off Obliterate, even if it can’t be countered. This means you can Mana Drain it, declare your attack phase and get eight mana, then Yawgmoth’s Will off Mox Jet or Black Lotus.

And so can your opponent…

Fireball

XYR

Sorcery

Beta common

Fireball deals X damage divided evenly, rounded down, among Y plus one target creatures and/or players.

Kaervek’s Torch

XR

Sorcery

Mirage common

While Kaervek’s Torch is on the stack, spells that target it cost 2 more to play. Kaervek’s Torch deals X damage to target creature or player.

Fireball first appeared towards the end of 1996, as a quicker victory condition over old Necrodecks whose life totals dipped low as they swarmed”The Deck.” Fireball basically replaces a victory condition (Morphling) with a cheap creature removal spell that wins with enough mana or recursion, or if an opponent dips too low with Sylvan Library.

Kaervek’s Torch seems better at first, but two mana is less relevant in the turn you win (the opponent pays two extra to counter Torch, but not for counters aimed at your counters). Fireball can kill two or three weenies with enough mana, which is far more important early. There are other flexible X spells like Rolling Thunder, Volcanic Geyser and Fanning the Flames, but double red is awkward early.

(Kaervek’s Torch, though, is better for casual decks that want to mise the turn 1 Channel-Torch combo… Ha, used the word, Ferrett! Sure feels dirty…)

Fireball became more important with Mirror Universe after the rules changed (you could no longer trade life totals at zero life). Morphling soon replaced both, though. Fireball is useful in rare situations where Morphling can’t get through (Humility or Sacred Mesa in Parfait, for example), but Superman is simply the most efficient wall that happens to win while you’ll hate to see Fireball in your opening hand.

Of course, Fireball is also the most hilarious way of showing off Mana Drains, and I made sure to play a Mana Flare player in public before I graduated from college.

If you don’t mind the white border, by the way, you can use the Fireball from the Beatdown box. That printing actually has the”XY” in the casting cost, unlike the originals which had just”X.”

Urza’s Rage

2R

Instant

Invasion rare

Kicker 8R (You may pay an additional 8R as you play this spell.) Urza’s Rage can’t be countered by spells or abilities. Urza’s Rage deals 3 damage to target creature or player. If you paid the kicker cost, instead Urza’s Rage deals 10 damage to that creature or player and the damage can’t be prevented.

This card is memorable to me because I traded for one during the Prerelease, but sold it to Manila’s Goblin King, Bot Butaran, for 250 pesos, which was the highest price any rare commanded before Invasion. To my – and Bot’s – disbelief, the price soared to 750 pesos, but at least I opened another in a Sealed Deck tourney.

I thought it was nothing more than an overcosted, overhyped Lightning Bolt, and I was flamed for saying so on the Philippine e-group. In fact, the next time I walked into the local store, I got a stern lecture from Freddie Tan about being sensitive to how much other players loved the card.

Were you one of those guys who broke down and traded an arm and a leg for a Rage?

Basically, I said that the only reason it soared to 750 pesos (matched in Philippine Magic history only by Jester’s Cap, and only at the very height of its hype) was because there was no other good Lightning Bolt in Type II. I added that Fourth Edition Bolts were worth 25 pesos, or 30 times cheaper, yet more effective.

Who was right?

You can see that Rage isn’t used in Type I or Extended, right? In these formats, if anything else, it just reads,”Destroy target Ophidian.”

(Trust me, it sucks in Type I Sligh. No one ever counters Rage aimed at the player, anyway, since it’s easier to just counter other burn spells from a higher life total than usual, or use Zuran Orb.

(If you really want it, save your money and wait for it to rotate out.

(And they say Type I is expensive…)

Ophidians aside, it’s terribly inefficient because you spend three mana to kill a one-mana Jackal Pup, and might be forced to tap out in an early turn.

The kicker isn’t important because a lot of things should happen before you reach 12 mana, even in a deck with 28 mana sources. Plus, you normally have to Rage twice, and your Regrowth and Yawgmoth’s Will aren’t uncounterable. And, finally, Type I decks with permission usually have Misdirection anyway.

Like Obliterate, this is just a cute card in Type I. Play with it, experience the giddy Kiblerish feeling of winning with the Kicker just once, then put it back in your binder. (Or leave it in if you particularly hate Ophidians.)

Hey… I’m guilty of enjoying it, and Bob Maher, Jr. probably did, too.

Prophetic Bolt

3UR

Instant

Apocalypse rare

Prophetic Bolt deals 4 damage to target creature or player. Look at the top four cards of your library. Put one of those cards into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library.

This costs too much for”The Deck,” but Darren diBattista, a.k.a., Azhrei and some other friends were enjoying one copy in more aggressive Old School Explusion decks. It reminds Darren of the good old Fireball, if anything else. It can finish off an opponent especially after he uses Sylvan Library, it’s midgame removal that kills Su-Chis, Merchant Scroll fetches it, and it’s a cantrip that digs.

Besides, gold cards are cute.

We do wish it cost less than Morphling. As Matt D’Avanzo IMed:”It is unquestionably subpar for Type I. Too slow. But damn is that thing good when it gets cast!”

Extra notes: Gold cards

Dromar’s Charm

WUB

Instant

Planeshift uncommon

Choose one – You gain 5 life or counter target spell or target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.

Okay… So I forgot about the gold cards because I was doing it by color, so I’ll slip them in here. You have to be aware of their specific”issues.”

Consider this one of those”bonus tracks.”

Although”The Deck” can cast any spell, gold spells are very awkward for it. The mana base is fragile by nature. It’s geared to give you one mana of a certain color as early as possible, but it’ll have trouble giving you three mana of three particular colors on turn 3.

Put it this way: Imagine having City of Brass, Underground Sea, and Wasteland while holding Dromar’s Charm. (Same issues with Absorb and similar weaker spells.)

Mana issues aside, Dromar’s Charm is an enjoyable casual card, but it’s just one mana too expensive and too picky with colors to replace any of the staple counters.

Elemental Augury

UBR

Enchantment

Ice Age rare

3: Look at the top three cards of target player’s library and put them back on the top of that player’s library in any order.

This was prominent in the first Duelist Invitational in Hong Kong, in Mike Long’s”Keeper.” Mike didn’t return my e-mail, so I’ll give you Brian Weissman’s emphatic comments instead:

“The ‘Keeper’ was originally called that because its kill mechanism was a combo involving Millstone and Elemental Augury. The idea was that every turn you’d use Elemental Augury to Sylvan yourself, while at the same time manipulating your opponent’s draw and basically denying them the chance to ever draw anything useful. You would get them in this soft lock and ‘keep’ them there through a combination of counterspells and deck manipulation. This combo was awesomely effective once it was up and running, but I’d imagine the players of”The Keeper” eventually realized that Augury and especially Millstone only really helped when they were ahead, so they dropped those elements in favor of more ‘come from behind’ type spells.”

In my experience, unless your opponent has far more mana than you do, the lock takes a little time to kick in, and it doesn’t do anything about cards you already have in hand. Sylvan Library also single-handedly defeats this.

Vindicate

1WB

Sorcery

Apocalypse rare

Destroy target permanent.

My Apocalypse review said this was”the sexiest sorcery” in Apocalypse.

It’s a solid though not broken card, and I was among those on Beyond Dominia who wanted to try it in”The Deck” because of its flexibility. It basically covers a Swords to Plowshares and a Disenchant slot in one, and adds a bonus land destruction spell you can Mystical Tutor for.

I gave it up after a couple of goldfishes, though, and every BD”The Deck” player who tried it quickly yanked it.

First of all, it’s a sorcery that costs three mana. You tap out early and pay three mana to trade for a one-mana Jackal Pup or some other threat. In other words, it’s a lousy Swords, a lousy Disenchant, and a lousy Strip Mine all in one.

Second, it’s a gold card that’s not in the main color. If you ever played a three-color Limited deck in Invasion-Planeshift-Apocalypse, you understand how tough it is to accommodate a gold card in your two splash colors, especially one you need early.

Talking strictly about”The Deck,” this is a cute card for casual play, no matter how good it looks on paper.

Void

3BR

Sorcery

Invasion rare

Choose a number. Destroy all artifacts and creatures with converted mana cost equal to that number. Then target player reveals his or her hand and discards from it all nonland cards with converted mana cost equal to the number.

This was posted on Beyond Dominia once, and I remember some people actually tried it. To clarify, it’s cute against some decks (for example, it sweeps White Weenie creatures, and takes everything from Seal of Cleansing to Null Rod as a bonus). It’s especially cute against Morphling with more in hand.

It also costs as much as Morphling, but doesn’t do as many tricks, so no.

Goblin Trenches

1RW

Enchantment

Apocalypse rare

2, Sacrifice a land: Put two 1/1 red and white Goblin Soldier creature tokens into play.

Matt D’Avanzo IMed me while I was typing up this column. He wanted to tell me about this funny new card his friends Eric Wilkinson and Steve Sadin were testing in Neutral Ground.

Basically, the first time Eric played this on him, his jaw dropped because he had no answer to it if it hit the board (except the Moat in his sideboard, which is lousy in the mirror). It can make four 1/1s in response to Dismantling Blow, Abyss just slows it down, Morphling can’t block them all, and Balance turns into a self-Armageddon.

Funny thing was, Matt won by finding all his Wastelands with Sylvan Library (what else?) and using the Land Destruction option. Eric lost to Matt’s Morphling with just Trenches in play.

Before you get excited, though, remember that Morphling can be played early off Mana Drain as a very effective wall. Trenches doesn’t do this, except against Sligh’s 2/1s, making it bad against a number of aggro decks. In fact, Matt said it was horrible against Stompy.

But, Matt had fun with it – and you might, too. If some Type II cards aren’t spotted till they shine in Block or even Limited, we Type I players can pick up a few laughs from Type II and Extended ourselves. Besides, Mark Rosewater says that R&D actually designs expansions with Type I in mind

Well, that’s it for this week. Remember, in the meantime, feel free to e-mail me with your opinions on Torment, as some have. Or, catch up with those Reader’s War submissions, especially if you picked a guy who takes a while to reply…

Oscar Tan

[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 (http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/archive.php?Article=Oscar Tan)

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

P.S. – Thanks to Brian Weissman, John Ormerod, Darren di Battista a.k.a. Azhrei, JP”Polluted” Meyer, Matt D’Avanzo and Adam Duke a.k.a. Meridian for being tough critics of the drafts of this series.

Thanks to Giles Reid from the Star City list and Nate Heiss of The Magic Word (www.mtgword.com) for sending me the original Dojo files, and to Amy English for being my”guinea pig” reader.

And, thanks to Alex Shvartsman, Kai Budde, Zvi Mowshowitz, Gary Wise, Chris Pikula, Noah Boeken and Ben Rubin for invaluable insights into the Magic Invitational and Invitational playtesting.