Many people have prompted me to write again, so I guess I’ll take up the old keyboard and appease them. I never really stay too focused on one certain topic anymore. My writing just tells you what’s going through my mind. Well, at least those things that are related to Magic. This could be dangerously fun or boring – you make the call. Enjoy.
You know what’s ridiculous? Having a composite ranking of 2040, a Constructed ranking of 2019, and a Limited ranking of 2060. Why is it ridiculous? Because they mean close to nothing to me. It would be great to attend a pro-tour this year, go to Nationals, or even Worlds, but my health doesn’t permit it. I’m pretty sure my finances also contribute in there somewhere.
So what does one do?
Well I still play in tournaments. Anything but PTQs, that is. FNM and the Sunday weekly here at the home shop are about it, outside of drafts. Man, I love draft and Limited. Like a fiend I tell you. There’s just something that draws me into having to take a select group of cards and piece together the most functional collaboration I can. I liked Legos when I was a kid. I kind of relate drafting to that. You have a tub full of pieces or your three packs. You select pieces out of the tub or you grab the pieces to build what you have in mind. The big difference is that with drafting, you sometimes reach in for a piece and get dealt one of your younger brother’s stupid Duplo blocks. Then again, sometimes you get a real nifty piece, that bends and doesn’t work like all of the other boring block like pieces. This usually serves as the basis of what you’re going to build.
For me, I built robots and transformers. I couldn’t afford the real ones, so poverty has a way of creating ingenuity. Anyway, you have your first piece, which is your first pick and you work from there. Your main goal is to achieve building some bad ass robot or whatever it is that any of you may have built using your Legos. Assuming you had Legos. Or the cheaper ones. That I hated. Along the way you make pick after pick and in the end you take your pieces and you build a deck.
So many choices.
Indeed, you have so many choices to make and along with each pick, the difficulty can rise. Even after constructing your deck, you then find yourself presented with a whole new flock of choices. These are the ones that come when you play. The right play or the wrong play. Card advantage and tempo and win conditions. All of that. Which leads me into something that several have touched upon as of late.
Wait! Don’t run away. I’m not going to throttle your Darksteel-legal-Standard-deck-searching mind with a bunch of theory and discussion on card advantage. I’ll just say this. I think that all of the discussion about card advantage and making the right play can best be summed up in two sentences.
“The right play is any play that gives you the highest percentage of winning the game. Card advantage is a side effect that sometimes occurs when making the right play.”
There. It’s said and done. I’m sure the people who have written in-depth articles on this think I’m either:
a) Full of myself for thinking I can simplify something much more elaborate and complex than any two sentence explanation could offer, or….
b) Lazy and not willing to think through the process as much as they have.
In actuality, I spend a great deal of time thinking about the game. Since so many things have changed in my life, I’ve found myself presented with a lot more time to think on these things.
I recently found out that when someone offers you a scenario where there are X number of cards in a pack and you must select one, that you really can’t answer that as easily as some would like. It’s all dependent upon your deck. Recently Mr. Turian asked us to decide between Barbed Lightning and Echoing Ruin. I answered in the forums with a response that was given from my experience drafting and what I’ve seemed to develop a pattern for selecting. In reality, it’s a question that has too many more variables. Quality of people you’re drafting with, splashability, win conditions, and many other factors can decide a pick. Maybe the only real question we can offer is what do you take pack one, first pick. Because it seems to me, if we want to ask anything else, we need other bits of information. Who knows, I could very well be wrong, but I sure doesn’t feel wrong.
I hate Skullclamp. I hate Urza lands and Cloudposts. Every deck I’ve looked at or played against lately has had four of each of those cards in it or Goblins. I would like to go ahead a send a note out to all of the deck submitters who post decks with Urza lands and Cloudposts in them.
Urza Blueberry Muffins a.k.a. Random Urzatron.dec
1 cup Urza lands
1 tbsp. Cloudposts
1 pinch other lands
10 lbs. overcasted artifacts to abuse with mana acceleration
2-3 Skeleton Shard for garnish
1 cup blueberries (cause you gotta have blueberries)
Instructions: Mix together, playtest on Apprentice a few games, post list on website, and name it Urzatron.
Options: You may add Sylvan Scrying and Weathered Wayfarer for crunchy texture.
Skullclamp Snickerdoodles a.k.a. Elves, WW, Zombies, Goblins.dec
1 cup creatures
1 tbsp. Skullclamp
1/2 cup random disruption spells
1 cup lands
Instructions: Mix together, take all old decklists, drop four cards, add Skullclamps, post list on website, and claim it to be an entirely new deck.
Options: Garnish with blueberries (cause you still gotta have blueberries)
Am I the only one who notices this disturbing trend? It’s damn near ridiculous I tell you.
So this past Friday, at our local FNM event, we had close to forty people show up for their first jab at the new Standard format. I entered the tournament and went 9-0 (to my surprise), piloting a deck that I love playing. I’m not exactly sure what the format holds for me in the future or how valid this deck will be a few weeks from now, but I’ll post the list for everyone to look at and see what you think. [I swear to God, it inadvertently ended up Black week here on SCG… must be something about February. – Knut, respectful of Black History Month]
4 Rotlung Reanimator
4 Withered Wretch
4 Carrion Feeder
4 Dark Supplicant
4 Dross Harvester
4 Dark Banishing
4 Chrome Mox
1 Scion of Darkness
4 Polluted Delta
3 Unholy Grotto
3 Mind Bend
3 Oblivion Stone
3 Echoing Decay
1 Greater Harvester
I don’t really remember any specifics of the tournament itself, other than what decks I played. I played Goblin Bidding three times and Aggro-Affinity once. I played Astral Slide twice as well and Burning Bridge once. I believe there was a Haste.dec (or whatever you call that thing with Viashinos and Raging Goblin) and Mono-White Control. Anyway, the deck pretty much owned the Goblin decks and I don’t recall ever really being in trouble against them. Astral Slide was a bit intense, but then again on game one my opponent never saw a Lightning Rift and only two Wraths. I overwhelmed him eventually with double Rotlung beatings. In game three, he was mana screwed and Dross Harvester got nasty on a spectacular turn 2 appearance.
I think the most trouble I had came from the Burning Bridge deck, as you can assume. Game one they much drop an Ensnaring Bridge and you scoop. This is a bad matchup for you, but I somehow managed to win this one. I believe drawing all of my Oblivion Stones combined with my opponent’s mistakes allowed me to steal this one. The Mono-White Control deck was put in check with the Harvesters and Persecutes. I don’t think you could lose post sideboard, unless you’re really unlucky or try to fail. All together, it was like a hundred something in packs given out and since I’m attempting to actually use my own cards again, the product went a long way towards filling some gaps in my playbook.
On Sunday, our shop hosted a Mox and a box tournament, with a very similar turnout, and I won that tournament as well, playing the same deck with a few minor adjustments. This time around I went 8-1 and won myself a Mox Sapphire (yay me and stuff). Our metagame here in Northeastern Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky, and Northwestern North Carolina consisted of the following….
Goblin Bidding – 35%
Astral Slide – 4%
Affinity – 17%
G/B Rock? – 4%
Elf Clamp – 3%
B/W Control – 2%
G/W Control – 2%
Zombies – 5%
Mono-White Control – 10%
MBC – 4%
Colossus Staff – 3%
R/D LD – 4%
Haste.dec – 4%
Rogue – 1%
Ravager Affinity – 5%
Helpful? I don’t know, but I thought I would share anyway. The sideboard I posted with the deck mentioned above was compiled in about three minutes prior to the tournament. The sideboard I used for the Mox and a Box tournament looked like this…
4 Oblivion Stone
3 Mind Bend
1 Echoing Decay
3 Secret Fat Kid Tech (Do fat kids even have tech?- see below)
I never used the Mind Bend’s – ever! They got sided in, on a few occasions, just in case. Either way it didn’t matter, because I never had a Karma to tag. The Oblivion Stones proved why they’re a top dollar rare and came to my rescue several times. The Gravepact is just extra insurance against Goblin Bidding. The Echoing Decay was something I missed all day long and wished I had more of.
As far as the”tech” goes, I’ll let you figure that one out on your own. Here’s a hint or two. The field was jammed full of Skullclamps and Affinity. Skullclamp is good because it lets you do what? And Affinity does this as well. So what card would really put the hurting on your opponent when he’s packing Skullclamps or running Affinity? This card also serves as a beating against Astral Slide. It’s in Eighth Edition. Okay, okay enough hints already. Feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] and I’ll reply back if you got it right.
Word of advice for this deck….
“Side out the Harvesters versus Bidding in case they have Sulfuric Vortex in the side.”
The other deck I wanted to play, as opposed to the Lynch Mob deck, was an aggressive Affinity build. Sporting the ever popular Arcbound Ravager and administrating turn 4 kills seemed like a blast to me. The deck also sports a measly eight rares. It’s like U/G Madness all over again. In addition, the deck is Block Legal. How insane is that? Block decks pummeling the other fields. Sigh. The deck is so scrubby looking, that when I browsed the decklist, I decided to name it after a scrubbing pad….
Brilo a.k.a. Double Deuce
4 Atog (First fist of the double deuce)
4 Arcbound Ravager (Second fist of the double deuce)
4 Frogmite (I love this little guy. I collect him and I’m close to like 400 something now*)
4 Ornithopter (Some people disagree with this guy, but I dig his flying style)
4 Myr Enforcer
4 Disciple of the Vault (<–Punk)
4 Skullclamp (This goes in any deck with sixteen or more bodies on your team, right?)
4 Shrapnel Blast (A very foul card)
4 Tooth of Cheese – Gor- E – uh (spl?)
4 Chromatic Sphere
1 Welding Jar
2 Grab the Reins
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Great Furnace
4 Vault of Whispers
1 Blinkmoth Nexus
I’m sure thousands of lists of this circulate, but I like this build a lot. I only questioned whether or not Arcbound Worker was something missing from this deck. I can say that the deck is explosive and easy to pick up and learn. I gave my friend (Chris Pape) this deck to use at the Mox and a Box tournament, and he placed in the top four, winning several matches where it looked helpless. Grab the Reins allows this deck to do stupid things if you get to the late game. Slinging crazy amounts of Tog damage around is always a fun way to disgruntle that opponent that thought they had the game in the bag. I’m unsure of a sideboard, but Flashfires has to have a place in there somewhere. Anyway, onto something new.
Black is back in full form it seems. Outside of the deck mentioned above, the net and tournaments seem to be packed full of the dark side. Most people are working around decks with Greater Harvester in them, so it seems. I like this guy a lot. I mean who doesn’t dig a 5/6 guy for five that Smokestacks when hits your opponent? The only problem with this guy is getting him through. With Skullclamp being played more than Forests, the surge of creature decks doesn’t seem to allow this guy the chance to do what he does best. I’ve tried several ways of making this guy more effective and nothing seems to work. With the triple Black in his casting cost, it can be hard or even impossible to configure this guy with another color. I guess time will tell what the Harvester has in store for us.
Regionals soon approaches and many of us will be hard at work creating our own little gauntlets to test on. If the internet tells us anything thus far about what we could expect if Regionals were to be held tomorrow, it would probably look something like this.
Tier 1 Decks
Zombies/ Aggro Black Decks
Affinity/ Tog Affinity
Tier 2 Decks
Tier 3 Decks
Don’t take this one to heart just yet, because the best of Darksteel has yet to be found I’m sure. I myself have been wrapped up in trying to break Vedalken Archmage. My pursuits have failed so far, but I’ll show you what I have so far on the drawing board.
Back To The Future
4 Vedalken Archmage
4 Myr Enforcer
4 Chrome Mox
4 Scale of Cheese or E – uh
2 Brain Freeze
4 Howling Mine
4 Aether Spellbomb
2 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Darksteel Citadel
Retract a bunch of artifacts, cast them all again with Vedalken Archmage in play, draw lots of cards, Retract again, cast artifacts again, cast Brain Freeze, and win. Easier said than done. I’ve played this deck several times and can’t get it to drop the Archmage quicker and more consistently. This isn’t something that should show up at Regionals, but it would make me smile if it did.
Well, hope you enjoyed my random thoughts on this game we play. I’ll be back soon with an interesting and humorous look at your fellow players. Until then, have fun and feel free to e-mail any of your thoughts, flames, questions, or views on what I’ve presented today at [email protected]
*Feel free to let me know if you have any spare Frogmites that need a good home, I’m approaching 400 or so and I’m going to set a goal for largest Frogmite collection in the world. Silly I know, but hey it’s something.