You Lika The Juice? – Don’t Tase Me, Bro

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Last week I mentioned strategic giants of the game Flores, Feldman, and Sullivan clashing over proper deckbuilding and how correct Flores’ 4/1 theory was. Recently Magical Hack Sean McKeown weighed in with his thoughts too. I wonder what these fine gentlemen would think about this new deck sweeping the country recently? Perhaps you’ve seen it…

First things first, a Magic public service announcement – Evan Erwin needs to recruit John Rizzo to do guest spots on his show. If there’s one thing that stuck with me from the Storyteller ballot for the Magic Invitational, it’s that John Friggin’ Rizzo is just as talented at telling amusing stories visually as he is on the written page. Evan’s The Magic Show is awesome, and I think it could be even better by dedicating a few minutes each week to a guest video blogger like Rizzo. What do you think people? Add some of Rizzo’s chocolate to Evan’s peanut butter? Two great tastes that would go great together! Say, editor-man, can you help make it happen?

Speaking of which, when is Rizzo’s video getting uploaded onto YouTube? I don’t imagine it’ll stay on Wizards’ site forever and I need my fix every once in a while… (thumps chest) Rocky style!

Okay, second things second – I hope all of you are all geared up for the Lorwyn prerelease this Saturday – I know I am! I’ll be helping out Pete Hoefling, Ben Bleiweiss, and their fine crew of crack tournament organizers for the Richmond, VA Prerelease, so if you’re in the area come up to the admin desk and say hi! Pete’s got Magic artists Zoltan Boros and Gabor Szikszai flying in from Europe, these guys have done some great Magic artwork including the awesome 10th Edition Incinerate.

Last week I mentioned strategic giants of the game Flores, Feldman, and Sullivan clashing over proper deckbuilding and how correct Flores’ 4/1 theory was. Recently Magical Hack Sean McKeown weighed in with his thoughts too. I wonder what these fine gentlemen would think about this new deck sweeping the country recently? Perhaps you’ve seen it:

Don’t Tase Me, Bro
Suggested by Bennie Smith on 2007-09-26 as a potential deck for Standard


1 Taser
1 Armed Madhouse
3 Camera Phones

1 Dumb Student
1 Clueless Politician
3 Campus Police

1 Night in Jail

4 Cut in Line
2 Let Me Answer His Question
3 Cut the Mic
1 Scream of Pain

4 Annoying Questions
4 More Annoying Questions
4 Way Over Time
3 Audience Applause

Basic Lands
5 Forest
5 Island

4 University of Florida
4 Meeting Hall
4 Tolaria West

Legendary Lands
1 Pendelhaven
1 Academy Ruins

Download this deck in Apprentice format!
Download this deck in Magic Online Text format!

This deck breaks all kinds of deckbuilding rules. First is the one Dumb Student. The whole deck revolves around this card, and you need to play it first before the rest of the deck can come together. However, you can’t really run many more because of the negative synergy too many Dumb Students have with Campus Police. You just have to mulligan aggressively.

The Pendelhaven can help the Dumb Student stand up a bit longer than he normally would, and of course you use your Academy Ruins in case you need to get back your Taser.

Sideboarding for games 2 and 3, you could take it two ways – get all hard-core and bring in more Tasers, a fourth Campus Police, and if you really want to go aggro board in 3-4 National Guard Units (provided they are available anymore). The other option is to take it down a notch and bring in some Harsh Language and a few Stern Looks, but that isn’t always effective against Dumb Students. Your metagame mileage may vary.

My wife recently started a new job that compensates for education expenses, and so to take advantage of that (in effect giving herself a raise), she’s taking some classes online to get an Associates degree and then her Bachelor’s. She’s in the Health Care field, so she’ll eventually get some cool initials to add behind her name. Anyway, she’s commandeered the computer at home so what little time I’ve had to get on Magic Online has dwindled even further. However, this past weekend I managed to sneak online and have some fun. The first order of business was to buy some Masters Edition booster packs and crack those bad boys open! Some of you are gasping in horror at such flagrant waste of booster packs; boosters — even virtual ones – are meant to lovingly be drafted into carefully crafted Limited creation in the hopes of “going infinite” and winning more booster packs to draft with. Normally I’d agree with you – I rarely crack packs online. But for me, online drafting is done to give me tournament practice, and Masters Edition draft isn’t going to be hitting your local FNM at any point in the future. Instead, Masters Edition is all about nostalgia — remember, I’m a Magic dinosaur — and being able to use some of these classic cards in my online casual decks. Here’s what I cracked:

Masters Edition Pack#1

Masters Pack 1

My man Jacques! I actually got a Hazezon Tamar promo card too, and I actually have had Green/White/Red casual decks in real life featuring both of these guys, so I’m thrilled to have them in my online collection. Fissure is a great card; one that I didn’t so much appreciate back in the day, but as I’ve grown as a competitive player, it’s instant speed really makes it a fine multiplayer utility card. I made use of Cuombajj Witches back in the day too, pairing the little gal up with Spirit Link. It occurs to me Keen Sense or Curiosity would also be a nice addition.

Anybody need an online foil Phyrexian Boon?

Masters Edition Pack#2

Masters Pack 2

Pox! I remember having a pretty competitive Pox deck back in the day that had all that evil stuff — Dark Ritual, Duress, Hymn to Tourach, The Rack, and supplemented with Steel Golem and Mishra’s Factory. I also ran Lurking Evil, which played nice with Steel Golem, dodged Pox until you were ready for it to swing, and was a gigantic flying beating. There was one game involving that risky enchantment that burned into my mind — it was game 3, and my opponent had gotten me down to one life and all I had on the board was Lurking Evil, which unfortunately would kill me if I activated it then. Ripped from the top of my deck? One of my sideboarded Bottle Gnomes! I drop that bad boy and, in a move you can’t do now, first activate the Evil, go to zero life, then pop the Gnomes to go up 3 life. Back then, you could go to zero or below life and, so long as your life ended in the positives before the end of the phase, you were fine (a trick that Pros-Bloom decks utilized quite effectively).

Anyway, Pox — a mighty fine spell that brings back warm and disruptive memories! The Sea Sprite on the other hand…

There was a point at our local game shop when I finally became a player to be feared, playing decks that could compete rather than just playing a deck for fun (though ideally I’d have fun and win). The deck I ran at that time was based off the Sligh/Geeba decks running around. It featured Orcish Artillery and Death Spark, and tended to tear up many of the other decks at the little shop tournaments. Then Chuck — anyone remember The Legend of Chuck? — started splashing Sea Sprites into his Empyrial Armor/White Weenie deck. And every single time I played him, he’d drop turn 2 Sprite, turn 3 Empyrial Armor.

Masters Edition Pack#3

Mastrs Pack 3

BERSERK! Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! One of my most prized real-life Magic possessions is the Berserk I cracked open from an Unlimited booster pack in 1994, and let me tell you that bad boy has been a welcome addition to many a multiplayer deck over the intervening years. It’s a fantastic group game card, often allowing you to take down a problematic creature when it attacks somebody else, often dealing near-lethal damage while destroying the guy in the process. Now I can rock it online too. Man, I’m loving Masters Edition!

Mmm, Spinal Villain is a welcome sight too, a card I’ve always been interested in acquiring but not at the prices normally associated with the paper version.

(Gives evil eye to another Sea Sprite.)

Masters Edition Pack#4

Masters Pack 4

Gah, I was never much of a fan of Serendib Efreet; back when it was floating around, I was pretty much 100% Casual Guy, and playing a creature that kept pinging away at your life totals was a no-no in multiplayer games. Yeah, it could get in a few solid hits early, but then Serra Angels, Shivan Dragons, and Mahamoti Djinns start hitting the board and your spiteful Djinn looks pretty dumb. Hmm, Telekinesis looks kinda interesting, never had the opportunity to play that card.

Oooh, shiny Nether Shadow – that looks pretty cool. Anybody need one? What about a Serendib Efreet?

Masters Edition Pack#5

Edvard Munch's The Scream... sorry, I mean Masters Pack 5

As a man who tends to favor groundpounders, Moat has always been a royal pain in my ass the few times I’ve run across it. It’s kinda cool to now own a virtual copy, but I won’t turn down a decent trade offer. I’m digging some of the other cards in the pack though — check out the shiny Arcane Denial! Vodalian Knights is kinda cool now that Merfolk are back in Lorwyn. Same with Stone Giant and the Lorwyn Giants. Storm Seeker — now that’s an awesome card! Not only is the artwork simply great, but also it was one of the rare Green “clever” cards back in the day. It was a stone cold beating against Necro decks to hit them with once they had fueled their hand with mad cards, making them pay for those extra cards yet again. Oubliette is another nifty card, one that I’ve got four copies of in real life… but I’ve never really used them. I love the artwork though, and what it does is kinda cool. I should give them a try.

Okay, if you’ve made it this far I figure I ought to go ahead and give you a real decklist to chew on. Back when I was running the Magic Online column for Wizards, Into the Aether, I touched upon the vibrant online community that supports Pauper Magic, where only commons are allowed and anybody can afford to compete for just a few Tix. In March of this year I wrote about my experiences giving an official Pauper Magic tournament (PDC) a try, and my write-up was less than favorable, namely because I mistakenly thought that an all-common format would be more casual and laid back. In reality, the PDC crew are just as competitive as other tournament players, so if you’ve got the competitive spirit but not much money to spend online — or are just looking for a change of pace — give the format a try.

In the forums of my column last week, khirareq kindly pointed out a brand new Standard Pauper deck monster that won a recent tournament he thought I’d be interested in. Here’s the decklist:

Prison Yard, played by Mr. Slippery

5 Forest
9 Swamp
4 Golgari Rot Farm
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Essence Warden
4 Augur of Skulls
4 Deathspore Thallid
4 Phyrexian Rager
4 Stinkweed Imp
2 Gutless Ghoul
1 Golgari Rotwurm
4 Terror
4 Sprout Swarm
4 Scatter the Seeds
3 Grim Harvest

1 Golgari Rotwurm
2 Thoughtpicker Witch
2 Thallid Germinator
3 Mindstab
3 Greater Mossdog
1 Disciple of Tevesh Szat
3 Last Gasp

The guy who built the deck wanted to abuse Sprout Swarm plus the free sacrifice removal ability of Deathspore Thallid to abuse Grim Harvest for creature recursion, eventually burying the opponent in card advantage. I gave the deck a few runs, and I have to say the central cards are indeed a very powerful engine, though it tends to be very time consuming to execute for someone like me who’s not particularly adept and clicking through all the prompts at lightning speed. I imagine this would improve with practice, so long as you can find some patient opposition.

I was slightly less impressed with Soul Warden and Gutless Ghoul, though I’m guessing those cards were chosen more for metagame considerations that I’m not so familiar with, probably to help out against fast damage-dealing decks. An alternative card I’ve tried out in the deck that I thought worked well was Citanul Woodreaders. At three mana it’s a tough blocker that will often require card expenditure to remove, and later on when you’re working Grim Harvest it’s a great target to get back for its kicker and even more card advantage. One thing I found testing Mr. Slippery’s version was a lack of cards I really wanted to get back with Grim Harvest outside of Deathspore Thallid. Another possibility is Llanowar Sentinel – drop it on turn 3, and then later on when you get it back with Grim Harvest you can use its ability to search out more.

I also think Thornweald Archers would be a quality addition alongside the Stinkweed Imps, taking down much more impressive creatures and helping to shore up air defenses. Here’s a version I’d suggest to the PDC crew for critique:

Grim Yard, by Bennie Smith

4 Essence Warden
4 Thornweald Archers
4 Deathspore Thallid
4 Terror
4 Sprout Swarm
3 Grim Harvest
4 Phyrexian Rager
4 Stinkweed Imp
3 Citanul Woodreaders
4 Scatter the Seeds
5 Forest
9 Swamp
4 Golgari Rot Farm
4 Terramorphic Expanse

Alright folks – so next week the floodgates open with Lorwyn reviews, new Standard strategies… I can’t wait to take it all in and add to the discussion! See you next week.

starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
(And for those of you who’ve written me lately, I will get back to you soon, I promise!)