You Lika The Juice? – Can I Get a Witness?

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Wednesday, March 19th – While restocking my trade binder the other day, I ran across a foil Jhoira of the Ghitu, a card that I’ve always found intriguing but had not yet fully tested out her potential. The foil Jhoira looks awesome – her eyes flash and it’s like she’s radiating power!

You know you’ve been obsessed with Magic too long when…

… you can’t help but type “confidant” when you mean “confident.”

Last week I was typing something that used the word confident three times, and all three times I typed confidant instead. Mistyping, at any price…

Friday morning I was thinking about the draft going on at FNM that night, and I decided to lock in on building an Elf deck. Elves, at any price, so to speak. I shot an email to my buddy Jay, who I knew would be there.

To: Jay Delazier
From: Bennie Smith
Subj: FNM

I call elves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To: Bennie Smith
From: Jay Delazier
Subj: Out of Office AutoReply: FNM

I will be out of the office until 03-17-08. If you have questions blah blah blah… Otherwise I will respond to your e-mail upon my return.

Ah, rats! So much for Magic emails to break up the day’s monotony… Anyway, that night I took my plan and my very Limited skillz to Richmond Comix and won myself a foily alt-art Eternal Witness! Can I get a woo-woot? The draft struck me as a little odd, with one pack of Lorwyn and two packs of Morningtide, and when I raised the issue that the proper way to draft should be two packs of Lorwyn and one pack of Morningtide, everyone looked at me like I was speaking Swahili, so I just shut up and cracked open my one precious Lorwyn pack.

In the rare slot, Brion Stoutarm gave me a bushy-browed stare, challenging my convictions.

You don’t want to play with no wussy elves, do ya lad? In my mind, Brion Stoutarm sounds a lot like Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants.

Luckily I’ve got an older and wiser pop culture voice to countermand Stoutarm Krabs’ direction – Gold Five, across the comlink in my helmet. Stay on target!

I shuffle to the front of the pack, and find one of the loveliest elf cards you can find staring back at you — Eyeblight’s Ending. Into the stack you go!

Here’s how my Elf deck shaped up:

1 Heritage Druid
1 Elvish Warrior
1 Blightsoil Druid
1 Festercreep
1 Fertilid
2 Winnower Patrol
1 Lys Alana Bowmaster
1 Lys Alana Scarblade
3 Ambassador Oak (one foily)
1 Warren Pilferers
1 Nath’s Elite
1 Runed Stalactite
1 Fistful of Force
1 Warren Weirding
1 Pack’s Disdain
1 Eyeblight’s Ending
2 Hunting Triad
1 Elvish Promenade
1 Reins of the Vinesteed
1 Weed Strangle
5 Swamp
10 Forest

1 Springleaf Drum
1 Elvish Handservant
2 Gilt-Leaf Seer
1 Deglamer
1 Recross the Paths
1 Luminescent Rain
1 Reins of the Vinesteed
1 Scapeshift
1 Festercreep
1 Noggin Whack
1 Tarfire
1 Roar of the Crowd
1 Negate
1 Disperse
1 Sage of Fables
1 Floodchaser
1 Distant Melody
1 Judge of Currents
1 Stonybrook Schoolmaster
1 Wellgabber Apothecary

For a while I kept open the possibility of possibly splashing a color or two outside of Green/Black for bombs, particularly in Red where I snagged a Tarfire and a Roar of the Crowd, with Springleaf Drum, Recross the Paths, and even Scapeshift to help with the splash color. I even kicked around the possibly of Blue for Distant Melody and Disperse, but I didn’t run into anything worth splashing for except in packs where the elves were too good to pass up. I was pretty stoked on the three Ambassador Oaks, and felt pretty good about how the draft went until I laid out my picks and started assembling the deck. The first thing that worried me was the lack of large men to back up my elf swarm, so I decided that I’d likely need to use my Hunting Triad to turn my small men big (along with a Reins of the Vinesteed, though I was unsure whether to run two of them or not). I also lacked any real bombs, which meant I’d have to play my butt off with no help from broken rares. And speaking of rares – I had only drafted one, Scapeshift, hardly a money card, so I better win some packs if I hoped to get some post-game value from my $15 investment!

Match 1 didn’t go so well, losing two straight against David’s Green/Red, which seemed to consist of nothing but gigantic creatures (now I see why I didn’t seem to find any in my draft stack). The next two games went better, beating the guy to whom I passed Brion Stoutarm in the second round (luckily his broken rare didn’t show up), and then a Merfolk deck in three tough games where my Festercreeps proved to be invaluable. I made the cut to the Top 4, where I had to play David again, who stumbled on mana both games to let my fast elf beatdown apply enough pressure to win through his beef once the big guys came online. My finals opponent Rooks was playing Black/Blue faeries, and since it was getting pretty late we split the prizes, and both got an Eternal Witness and some prize packs.

This week’s FNM is Standard (yay!) and I’m not sure what I’m going to play yet. My old Magic buddy Chuck (see The Legend of Chuck) wants to play so I’m going to build him Chris Woltereck R/G/b Big Mana, which hogs up a lot of the good Green I would have wanted to play. I might end up going nuts with Thousand-Year Elixir since I’ve already got the FNM foily prize for this month. I still want to give this a whirl:

Has anyone seen any updates to this deck since Morningtide?

EDH at Frank’s, Part III
We’re having another Elder Dragon Highlander game at Richmond Comix this Saturday. I note on the rules page that Kokusho, the Evening Star and Recurring Nightmare have been added to the banned list. Shahrazad used to be on the banned list, but it is now on the Richmond Comix house rules banned list due to David Williams playing it at the last EDH, which helped push the game to well over 10 hours long thanks to the subgame (luckily, that was the one EDH I missed playing). Of course, if I were playing that day, I would have advocated everyone conceding the subgame, and then making a pact to gang up on David until he was eliminated from the game before going back to our regularly scheduled EDH. What do you think? Is playing Shahrazad in a 10 person EDH really bad form?

So what deck to play? I’ve played Rith, the Awakener and lost after realizing picking a general who doesn’t do much unless he deals combat damage isn’t the best strategy. I played Experiment Kraj last time and won, but I don’t think I want something quite so tricky this time around. I had a really brutal Savra deck made, but one of the ladies from last time has already claimed her as her general (and is thankfully using it mostly for the lifegaining ability).

While restocking my trade binder the other day, I ran across a foil Jhoira of the Ghitu, a card that I’ve always found intriguing but had not yet fully tested out her potential. The foil Jhoira looks awesome – her eyes flash and it’s like she’s radiating power! It might be refreshing to step totally away from Green for once.

As I started pulling together cards and theorizing on how to best use Jhoira, I started to have second doubts on my pick. To best utilize Jhoira, I’d need to really stock up on big spells to suspend… of course, each big spell would take 4 turns to resolve (assuming no Timebug or other shenanigans), and with upwards of 9 opponents each having 4 turns to worry and fret and work themselves into a panicked lather before the spell resolves, it occurred to me that it might not be the wisest thing to have my cards (and thus my fiendish plans) out there for all to see without actually being able to use them. The alternative of course is to play nonthreatening or “fun” cards with Jhoira, or maybe cards everyone would want me to play and so suspending them would buy me time (“don’t kill me if you want Howling Mine to come into play…”).

In the end I decide to give up on my flashy-eyed beauty and instead turn to a tried and true – my Jacques le Vert that’s been a mainstay in my casual decks since I cracked him in a Legends pack oh so long ago.

I always loved the name Jacques, it always evoked memories of Jacques Cousteau’s underwater adventures, Black Jacque Shellac from the Bugs Bunny episode Wet Hare, and Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers (positively the most foot-stomping, booty-shakin’ Zydeco boogie band you will ever hear).

Sadly, when I was Googling Beau Jocque to get the name straight, came to find out that Jocque had passed away December, 1999. Martha and I had seen his band play during one of annual excursions to the Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Festival down in Norfolk, Virginia around that time, so I may have seen one of his last shows. We’ve gone a few times since then, and always had our fingers crossed hoping to see him again, so now I know why we hadn’t. So sad! If anyone wants a good-time party CD, it’s hard to beat the live album Git It, Beau Jocque!, even if you’re not into Zydeco (Cajun) music:

“Mid-City Lanes owner John Blancher eventually had to reinforce the dance floor of his second-story club to accommodate the dancers who turned out to hear Jocque’s propulsive brand of zydeco. ‘I put support beams underneath the dance floor for Beau Jocque,’ Blancher said. ‘People danced harder when he played. It was almost hypnotic; he just grabbed (dancers).'”

Damn, I feel terrible… I didn’t realize you’ve been gone these past 9 years. Rest in peace, bro – you made some fantastic music, and I’m honored I got the chance to see you perform in person. It was a helluva show.

Anyway, Red/Green/White has been a staple of my casual decks for a long time, built around some cool original legends including Jacques, Johan, Hazezon Tamar, and Livonya Silone. I was curious what these old-school “Summon Legend” cards were nowadays, and was pleased to find that Jacques, Hazezon, and Livonya are all Warriors (Johan, of course, is a Wizard). Hmm, should I toss an Obsidian Battle-Axe into the deck for the heck of it? Of course, once I started pulling out cards I’d want in Red/Green/White deck, I remembered the trouble I had with my Rith deck before – I’ve got far too many old favorites I’d want to toss into the deck, and with each expansion there’s at least a couple more fighting for a spot. The Axe is fun, but it just didn’t make the cut in the end. Here’s what I’ve got going on as of today:

1 Jacques le Vert (General)
1 Essence Warden
1 Magus of the Candelabra
1 Candelabra of Tawnos
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Skull Clamp
1 Ivory Tower
1 Berserk
1 Crop Rotation
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Angel’s Grace
1 Sun Droplet
1 Phyrexian Splicer
1 Scroll Rack
1 Sylvan Library
1 Life from the Loam
1 Constant Mists
1 Scryb Ranger
1 Magus of the Library
1 Saffi Eriksdotter
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Wall of Roots
1 Artifact Mutation
1 Aura Mutation
1 Gaea’s Blessing
1 Rings of Brighthearth
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Imperious Perfect (full art!)
1 Eternal Witness (foily alt art!)
1 Carven Caryatid
1 Spike Feeder
1 Spidersilk Armor
1 Reiterate
1 Urza’s Rage
1 Pulse of the Fields
1 Masked Admirers
1 Willow Satyr
1 Spike Weaver
1 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Anger
1 Power Matrix
1 Tawnos’s Coffin*
1 Karmic Guide
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Reveillark
1 Reflect Damage
1 Genesis
1 Weatherseed Treefolk
1 Silklash Spider
1 Hibernation’s End
1 Word of Seizing
1 Radiate
1 Adarkar Valkyrie
1 Deadwood Treefolk
1 Livonya Silone
1 Johan
1 Hazezon Tamar
1 Molten Disaster
1 Starstorm
1 Maze of Ith
1 Diamond Valley
1 Cloudpost **
1 Gaea’s Cradle
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Windswept Heath
1 Krosan Verge
1 Savannah
1 Taiga
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Rith’s Grove
1 Gruul Turf
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Treetop Village
1 Mishra’s Factory
1 Urza’s Factory
1 Nantuko Monastery
1 Yavimaya Hollow
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
1 Skargg, the Rage Pits
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Deserted Temple
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Petrified Field
1 Winding Canyons
5 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Plains

One card I’m torn about trying to include is Scapeshift. I’ve got a lot of cool lands in here, with some nifty ways to abuse them (Candelabra: the artifact and the Magus). I’ve got Crop Rotation already, would going with Scapeshift be too greedy?

It was hard for me not to squeeze some tutors in here — namely Survival of the Fittest — but I decided that for speed of the game not to run a bunch of tutor effects and instead just add card drawing and some top of the deck manipulation. The one big exception is Hibernation’s End, which is just a cool card, and hopefully it’s slow enough so that no one gets overly alarmed by me playing it.

* I own two Tawnos’s Coffins, one of which I’ve had since I cracked it open from an Antiquities booster pack, and I’ve always loved the card. It was always a funky, weird card that did things in ways slightly different than other similar effects, so in 2004 Wizards decided to have the Coffin’s effect be to phase the creature out during one of their Oracle errata moments.

I just noticed though – as of September, 2007 they’ve changed the card again, and it doesn’t phase stuff out now. Here’s the current Oracle wording on its text:

You may choose not to untap Tawnos’s Coffin during your untap step.
3, Tap: Remove target creature and all Auras attached to it from the game. Note the number and kind of counters that were on that creature. When Tawnos’s Coffin leaves play or becomes untapped, return the removed card to play under its owner’s control tapped with the noted number and kind of counters on it, and if you do, return the removed Aura cards to play under their owner’s control attached to that permanent.

So now your Coffin can kill tokens, and it can also trigger both comes into play and leaves play abilities. Glancing at cards in my list like Deadwood Treefolk, Reveillark, and Eternal Witness, that sounds like a good thing to me!

** Why only 1 Cloudpost? This is here for those of you who are going to be playing up at Frank’s EDH this Saturday who also happen to read my column. I’m inviting you to a little conspiracy over those who don’t read my column – if we all play a Cloudpost, then we will all (possibly) benefit from playing it while the others won’t, since each Cloudpost boosts the other ones no matter who is playing them. Who’s with me?

I’ll go more into why I picked Jacques le Vert next time, along with a recap of how the EDH went, as well as how my Thousand-Year Elixir deck fared at the FNM. Have fun!


starcitgeezer AT gmail DOT com