You Lika The Juice? The Biggest Magic Weekend of All Time… of All Time!

Friday, November 19th – Bennie Smith needs your advice in finding a good Standard deck to run for the upcoming StarCityGames.com Open in Richmond! You best show up for some serious Magic goodness!

Thoughts on MPR’s Demise

Before I get to the meat of this week’s column, I thought it worth adding my two cents regarding the demise of the Magic Player Rewards program. Initially, I had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I thought it was a really neat program to encourage people to play in sanctioned events so they could earn neat, cool cards that arrived in the mail periodically like mana from heaven. On the other hand, many of the cards were fairly uninspiring and dull. So while it’s impossible to really get mad about getting free stuff, you could still feel disappointed when the stuff was lame. One last, not irrelevant, positive point about the program—it encouraged people to go online and register with the DCI, which is helpful for all sorts of logistical reasons. Without MPR, I imagine the percentage of new players who go to the trouble of registering with the DCI to drop.

In their statement about the program being discontinued, Wizards made it clear this wasn’t so much a cost-saving measure as a reallocation of resources, so I suspect we’re still going to be getting free cards for playing Magic, just not through the mail anymore. Heck, if you figure how much money they spent on postage and handling and turn that into an increase in volume of cards being sent to the stores, then we might end up earning even more free cards or other cool stuff. The one thing that worries me is if it all goes into providing more foil cards. The big positive about the textless cards was that most of them were non-foil, which was a big plus to people like me who don’t like playing foil cards in their tournament decks. Thank goodness for EDH, a popular format that provides good homes for singleton foil cards. I’d strongly urge the folks at Wizards to take this opportunity to reboot their promo card program with an emphasis on non-foil textless or alternative-art tournament cards, as well as providing cool, casual/EDH-friendly cards in foil. While you’re at it, can you make us a foil Ice Cauldron* with the new card frame?

The Biggest Magic Weekend of All Time… Maybe?

“We like your maybes,” Anna Marie told me recently. “They usually mean yes. Mommy’s maybes usually mean no.”

You know the dads that are strict, disciplinarian, grumpy, and aloof? Yeah, that’s not me.

If you haven’t checked your calendars lately, then hang onto your hats—
The Biggest Magic Weekend of All Time is just two weeks away!

Where are you going to be December 3rd – 5th? I sincerely hope your answer is “Richmond, Virginia,” in which case can I hear a
whoop whoop!

Yep, let’s high-five, moonwalk, raise the roof, all that.

When StarCityGames.com announced the 2010 Open series, culminating with the Magic Invitational right here in my hometown in December, I just knew I had to figure out a way to qualify. My plan was to hit four Opens this year, playing on both Saturday and Sunday, which would give me eight points towards the ten I’d need to earn the Invite. I figure at either one of those eight tournaments I’d place high enough to nab an extra two points, or I’d hit the Grinders before the Invitational to get my last couple points.

No problem, right?

Unfortunately, my marriage blew up in February and threw a big monkey wrench into my plans. I went to the StarCityGames.com Open in Richmond that month, but I was in the middle of moving into an apartment; I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, and performed pretty abysmally in the Standard tournament. When Anna Marie asked if she could come see my apartment Sunday, I bailed on the Legacy portion to get some much-needed rest and to show my kids my new home.

Still, as a single man, surely I’d be more free to travel to other Opens, right? Theoretically, yeah, but unfortunately the reality of my
situation really hit home the weekend in June when I went to “Grand Prix Roanoke” for both days (I wrote about that

). I had a great time, but the combination of not earning money from my part-time job that weekend and instead spending a fair chunk of change on hotels, food, and gaming blew a gigantic hole in my budget. You see, Martha and I weren’t exactly rolling in extra dough before we split; adding rent and another set of monthly bills to the mix made things

and not in the good way. It took me two months to recover from my June Magic weekend.

The upside is that the incident made me buckle down and really figure out the threshold of hours at my part-time job I have to cross each pay period in order to meet my bills. The downside is that I pretty much have to be working my part-time job each weekend when I don’t have my kids with me in order to make ends meet.

That realization bummed me out a bit as I looked ahead to the future and saw the StarCityGames.com Open and Invitational looming on the horizon. If I had the kids that weekend, I could bring them with me for a visit, but I couldn’t rightly play in an event; and if I didn’t have the kids that weekend, I’d have to work instead, right?

I wasn’t yet ready to throw in the towel though. Maybe… maybe not… would it be a Daddy maybe or a Mommy maybe?

The time finally came to figure out where my kids’ visitation weekend would fall and sure enough, I have them that very weekend. I was just about ready to throw in the towel, accept that I’d be at best a presence that weekend and not a player…

And then StarCityGames.com announced the
2011 Open Season,

taking something that was already amazing and turning it up to eleven.

My jaw dropped. More Opens, More prizes, More Invitationals! Draft Opens! A freaking Player’s Club!

Was I seriously going to miss out on this?

The Biggest Magic Weekend of All Time… of All Time!

I don’t foresee next year being any better as far as traveling to Magic tournaments. Honestly, the best opportunity I’m going to have to rack up some points without costing me an arm and a leg in traveling costs is right here in two weeks. I mean, have you seen everything that’s going on
this weekend?

How could anyone within driving distance not come this weekend, not to mention someone living right here in town?

Yet… Am I really going to toss my kids visitation under the bus to play Magic? For something like this once-in-a-year opportunity, I think maybe I am.

That’s Daddy maybe.

Feeling a little guilty, I talk with their mother and work out some extra visitation time. The week before is Thanksgiving, and I have some time off from work, so I’ll be getting them for a day in addition to seeing them on Thanksgiving Day. The week after the Invitational, they’ll come over and spend the night with me Friday night. I also go to work making sure I pick up some extra hours here and there at my part-time job, considering I actually need a little extra cash for Christmas rather than go into the hole with entry fees. Josh is going to come over and help plunder my Magic collection for cards gathering dust that are worth selling off (keeping at least one copy for EDH purposes, of course).

So, basically I’ve cleared the decks for December 3rd through December 5th, ready and able to play as much Magic as I can stand. Can I hear a
whoop whoop!

Yep, let’s high-five, moonwalk, raise the roof, all that.

Wait… what the heck am I going to play in the Grinders on Friday and Standard on Saturday? I’ll think about Sunday’s Legacy next week…

Last week I made it up to Friday Night Magic and played a funky homebrew based around Grand Architect. The Johnny Fever Project cooked up a couple different builds based off my initial monoblue concoction, but none of them really felt like it had the oomph we were looking for. However, since then JFP member Brandon Isleib (yep, the same Brandon who’s kicking ass in the StarCityGames.com Talent Search; go Brandon!) contacted me to let me know he’d also been kicking some ass with his take on Grand Architect, and he shot me his list. It dumped my initial attempts at shoe-horning proliferate into the deck (thanks to Thrummingbird being a blue creature) and just went more with tempo control before dropping Steel Hellkites and Wurmcoil Engines on his opponent’s head. Not being able to leave well enough alone, I ended up “Bennie-flying” the list and took this build to FNM:

The sideboard was pretty lame, so I won’t burn your eyes with it here. I ended up 2-2 for the night, starting out strong, beating a White Weenie aggro deck and G/W Tokens, and then run over by Kuldotha Goblins and Jace U/B Control. I felt the deck had some nice potential, but after playing against Jace in the last round and just feeling so horribly outclassed, I was pretty bummed. I mean, how could I justify playing a blue deck without Jace, the Mind Sculptor? I could point to Grand Architect and note that Jace isn’t a blue creature nor is he an artifact and thus doesn’t fit well into the themes of the deck, but that just raises the question—should you bother with a blue deck where Jace doesn’t fit? I could probably retool this deck to improve its chances for FNM, but as a weapon for the Biggest Magic Weekend of All Time? Probably not.

I started looking for other options. One that caught my eye was the deck Sean McKeown used to qualify for the Invitational, an Elf beatdown deck with a few wrinkles I could definitely appreciate.

I love a lot of things going on here that make it more interesting to me than a typical beatdown deck (which typically don’t interest me). I love the Copperhorn Scout, which neutralizes the tension you otherwise feel between attacking with your mana Elves and Fauna Shaman, or using them. The Scout lets you do both, effectively giving you a mini-Time Walk. You can attack, untap, and then afterwards tap your dudes to search up a creature and have the mana to play it. Of course, the Scout plus mana Elves plus Ezuri can pretty much mean game over.

I also love the singletonSwamp for black sideboard cards, which reminds me fondly of my old States-winning deck from aeons ago, Blair Witch Green. I used Birds of Paradise and Yavimaya Elder to get the black mana, Sean uses fetchlands and Sylvan Ranger to unlock some crucial sideboard cards in Doom Blade and Memoricide.

Lastly I love Gaea’s Revenge. Ah, that card is such a beating!

Josh has strongly recommended I play his version of the G/W Tokens deck that’s been talked about here and there. Apparently it’s been performing well online, but I do worry that the metagame may adjust by the time December rolls around to make this a suboptimal choice. Still, I do love some G/W, and there are a lot of really nice things going for it.

The seven planeswalkers give a lot of depth against decks that might otherwise mop the floor with all the small weenies, and accelerating to a Conqueror’s Pledge has got to feel pretty good.

Another idea I’ve been trying to kick around is abusing landfall with Genesis Wave. Might this be the deck that makes Admonition Angel good?

Really miss Oblivion Ring here, don’t we? Anyway, what’s particularly fun about this deck is the ability to Wave into two Angels, stack the trigger in such a way that the two Angels remove each other first, and then come back into play so that all the other triggers permanently remove non-land permanents. Good times, right?

I’ve also been intrigued for a while with adding green and Fauna Shaman to the Quest for the Holy Relic decks to give them more staying power, and apparently some people have been having success with the idea too. Here’s one way to take it:

I have to say I’m grooving on all the ways you have to constantly bring Vengevine roaring back from the graveyard, in addition to fun times to be had with Questing out Argentum Armor.

I’d love to spend more time playtesting and tweaking all these decks, but time’s a wasting. I’ve got some limited time to really buckle down and get up to speed on a deck, but I have no idea which way to go. What do you think—which of these do you think is the strongest choice? Or is there some other deck I should be playing? Should I buckle and just play a Jace deck? Let me know what you think in the forums, or hit me up via email or Twitter.

Take care,

starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

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New to EDH? Be sure to check out my EDH Primer:

part 1


part 2

part 3


 My current EDH decks:

Bone-Gnawer (Relentless Rats are back!)
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon (Poison Apocalypse)

*Poll Time!