This past Sunday, after getting off from my part-time job at 11 pm, I hopped in my car and took the three-and-a-half-hour drive to the Outer Banks of
North Carolina to spend Memorial Day and the next day with my parents. While it might seem a bit nuts to start a long drive at that hour, it actually
made sense in theory and in practice given how many people gravitate to the coast on warm holiday weekends and how much I despise traffic, especially
on highways where you’re not supposed to sit and not move for long stretches of times. I figured drinking down a large Wawa coffee and making the
trip in the wee hours of the morning would alleviate the traffic concerns without weariness being too much of a problem.
It worked too; the drive was fairly peaceful, if a bit desolate at times. Even on a holiday, there weren’t many places open on Sunday night/early
Monday morning. The coffee held me for most of the trip there, and I didn’t start yawning and blinking my eyes until I was about fifteen minutes
from Mom’s. The only real downside in retrospect was the terrible sore throat and cough I woke up with the next morning; apparently when you ride
for three and a half hours through the backwoods of Virginia and North Carolina with the windows down and singing to your iPod, you suck in a bunch of
allergens. Pro tip: roll up the windows and run the AC instead.
I had a great little visit, even though it was all too brief. One high point of the stay was my Mom fixing me soft-shell crab sandwiches, something I
had not had in a long while. For mainlanders who might not be familiar, a “soft-shell” crab is one which has recently molted its old
exoskeleton and is still soft.
Mom picked up four of them from the local seafood market, freshly caught that morning.
You dip ‘em in an egg wash, bread ‘em, and drop ’em in a deep fryer for a few minutes until they’re crispy brown. Mom uses House
Autry Medium Hot Breader… which is just about the perfect fried food breader ever created.
Next, you stick ‘em on a bun and dress ‘em for consumption. Typically, you throw on some tomato, maybe lettuce and onion. Me, I just wet
the bread with a little bit of mayo because, really, when you have perfection like this, what more do you need?
Here’s looking at you, kid.
So what’s the difference between the taste of soft-shell crab and regular crabmeat? Personally, I think it tastes a bit fresher and sweeter, but
you also just get more juicy crab goodness out of a soft-shell crab sandwich. I mean, you eat the whole damn crab! The problem with hard-shell crab is
you’ve got to invest a whole lot of time cooking and picking through the shells to get a decent amount of meat, which means you’ve got to
block off a whole afternoon or evening and a put bunch of beer on ice to make it worthwhile.
What’s interesting about eating delicious soft-shell crabs though is thinking about just how narrow your window of opportunity is for nabbing
that crab at the right time. The problem with having a badass exoskeleton is that they don’t grow, so when you need to become a bigger crab,
you’ve got to ditch the old exoskeleton and make a new one. When a crab molts its shell, it’s just a gooey, mushy blob and pretty
vulnerable, so it doesn’t waste a whole lot of time hardening up. You’ve got to get that crab at just the right time—not too mushy or
else it won’t hold up out of water, but not so tough that you break teeth trying to eat it. When you fry it up, it’s got just a little bit
of crunch to it. The perfect moment means taste bud perfection.
Which naturally brings us around to Glissa, the Traitor right?
Since Mirrodin Besieged came out, I’ve been totally enamored with Glissa, the Traitor. I’ve built Standard decks around her, and I’ve
built a Commander deck around both her and her goody-two-shoes Sunseeker version. She was a big role-player in the deck I took to Regionals.
She’s inarguably one of the most efficient creatures in Standard… but is she any good?
Good is all about context and timing.
When I included her in my deck for Regionals, my hunch was that the prevalence and power of the Stoneforge Mystic/Equipment engine in Standard was
going to really make artifact destruction worthwhile, if not maindeck then certainly in sideboards. The thought was that I could lean just as heavily
on my own Equipment and artifacts, but when they got destroyed, Glissa’s ability would get them back, mostly blanking their artifact removal.
Apparently my timing was off—nobody ever killed any of my Equipment during the tournament, and while Glissa was still a top-notch creature, the
metagame didn’t really make her amazing enough to warrant her in the deck.
I have a hunch that Glissa’s time might be now.
Michael Long’s Darkblade
from the Louisville Open has Mana Leak, Duress, Inquisition of Kozilek maindeck, and three Divine Offerings in the sideboard that can all put a bunch
of artifacts in the graveyard.
You even see Valakut decks like the eighth-place Miguel Rondon deck from Orlando) running
four Nature’s Claim maindeck.
Another development in Glissa’s favor is the existence of Spellskite, an artifact creature that is very good at getting itself killed. Spellskite
has gotten a bunch of attention for its ability to stall Splinter Twin combo decks until they get an answer and for being a decent wall, but it’s
also incredibly good at protecting other key creatures in your deck.
Vulnerability to Lightning Bolt is often unfairly used to critique creatures with incredible abilities, but that critique becomes more relevant the
more heavily you lean on particular creatures for your winning strategies. Before, you would just typically need to overload on the good removal
against high-quality creatures, and that’s still a good approach. However, Spellskite gives yet another layer of protection for creature decks.
Musing about Glissa, the Traitor and Spellskite got me thinking again on another deck archetype I’ve been kicking around a while—Necrotic
Ooze. When New Phyrexia came out, I briefly touched on how nice it was to get some activated abilities worth copying from the graveyard—the
Souleater cycle. The fact that they’re artifact creatures makes them perfect additions to a nice pile of synergistic goodness: Glissa, Spellskite,
Fauna Shaman, Necrotic Ooze. Something like this:
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Vengevine
- 4 Fauna Shaman
- 2 Sylvan Ranger
- 1 Sylvok Replica
- 1 Molten-Tail Masticore
- 4 Necrotic Ooze
- 4 Glissa, the Traitor
- 4 Spellskite
- 1 Hex Parasite
- 1 Trespassing Souleater
- 1 Entomber Exarch
- 1 Immolating Souleater
- 1 Pestilent Souleater
So, angles of attack for the deck:
Plan A is Necrotic Ooze combo, which you can prime in the graveyard with the Souleaters to make it an unblockable, firebreathing infect creature, which
should be able to kill in one swing. Alternately, it can borrow Molten-Tail Masticore’s and Pestilent Souleater’s abilities to shoot four points of
infect damage directly at your opponent’s face.
Plan B is card advantage from Glissa, using removal spells and her own beatdown potential to buy back artifact creatures, which you can then feed to
Fauna Shaman or just replay and maybe get a free Vengevine out of the deal. Sylvok Replica does a particularly nice job of keeping opposing Spellskites
and other artifact creatures in check with Glissa on the board.
So what do you think? Am I just too enamored with Glissa the Traitor, hoping in vain that she’s going to treat me right this time? In MJ Scott’s awesome inaugural Vorthos article on GatheringMagic.com, she
talks about Women in Magic: Good vs. Bad, and Glissa, the Traitor is definitely one of the Bad Girls in Magic.
Here’s how MJ described her…
Physical Traits: voluptuous, muscular, womanly
Attire: metal thong bikini
Gaze: direct, at viewer
Personality: knowledgeable, enjoys power
Activities: killing and manipulating
Pose: provocative, premeditated
*tugs at collar a la Rodney Dangerfield*
Hm, kinda reminds me of my ex-wife!
It might be a mistake, but I believe I’ve got another date with Bad Girl Glissa at Friday Night Magic tonight. Here’s hoping I get lucky!
Speaking of green and black in Standard, I had a bit of a brainstorm regarding another juicy fun card from New Phyrexia, Fresh Meat. Plenty of folks
have already chewed over using Eldrazi Spawn with it, a perfect complement to help offset the relatively high mana cost on such a generally reactive
card. I’ve decided to take things to a potentially higher level and make Fresh Meat a more aggressive card when paired up with Bloodthrone
At the five-mana slot, I thought about Garruk’s Packleader to give some nice card-drawing fuel for the deck or Mitotic Slime to further fuel
Bloodthrone Vampire, but ultimately I came back around to good ol’ Eldrazi Monument. It’s a virtual Overrun by granting a size boost and
flying, and its sacrifice requirement is easily fed in a deck such as this.
This might be a bit too aggro for my tastes, but it might be just janky and fun enough to entice me to play it anyway. What do you think?
Keep an eye out for me sometime in the middle of next week—I’m getting in on the Commander sneak previews right here on StarCityGames.com
with a spicy three-color legend! It’s definitely not the kind of card you’d associate with my style of Commander play, but that’s
what’s going to make it even more fun!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
New to Commander?
If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
Commander Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus: