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By: Paul Leicht, Paul Emerson Leicht
Dec 07 2012 11:30am
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Art by Paul Emerson Leicht May 2012

Back from Ancramdale:
I have a confession to make. I am lazy. For those who are familiar with me this is a shocker, I know. I don't mean that I don't work hard when I work but that I put things off to the point of ridiculousness. Therefore, often, my tasks when I do choose to do them, are huge in time consumption and effort. This has led to some very uncomfortable situations for me. (Such as an apartment that has slowly slid into untenability.) And in some cases some bad habits which in turn have led to sometimes dangerous situations.

I bring this up because this is the main reason I needed to get away from my apartment for a while and head upstate NY to visit with my Dad and Step-mom. Up there, shirking leads to stern disapproval and commentary about shiftlessness. Often snidely phrased without being directed at anyone in particular. But lest you think my parents are Ogre Taskmasters they are very nice about it all and are very complimentary when a task is done to their satisfaction. So I am in the habit when I visit there of doing things before being asked (Dishes? Every night if I could help it. Laundry? In from outside and sorted/folded. And so on.) It has become very rewarding to be a part of a team living in a place that requires some constant maintenance to be comfortable. I found myself longing to have the same type of setup for myself and my lady in NYC.

At the same time it was also very relaxing and without the stress of living in a place gone to drift. I mean I didn't plan on collecting two decades worth of stuff to throw out but there it has been, taking up space in an otherwise fairly large studio (15'x25' + bathroom in NYC is huge). So when I arrived back in NYC in mid-November amidst a health crisis for my lady, I began doing some of the many things that I'd been putting off.

My back hurts after several weeks of cleaning, sorting, rearranging, and just throwing stuff out. I can see the wood floors of the apartment again and there is actual space to contemplate putting things in to make better use of said space. There is still lots and lots of work left to do and my health is not perfectly suited for this but if I don't do it, it won't get done.

On Writing:

This brings me to the point I have been thinking about lately concerning mtg and mtgo in particular. It is easy to just not participate and not write articles. The days run into weeks into months and suddenly it's been several months since my last one and my plans to write the next article have become whimsy and wispy. Something to contemplate for a few moments before moving on to something else.

I have been planning on adding to my collection of legendary personalities interviews by corresponding with the ever ebullient Keya Soleh of Freed from the Real fame. Hopefully my next article will be that one. We decided to put this off from before I went upstate in September, till after the busy time of the holidays of Late November which leads to present time. I haven't heard from my friend lately though so this article will have to do for now.

For those of you who have enjoyed my articles on casual fun with Tribal Wars Legacy and other formats I offer my profound apologies for not continuing more consistently with my contributions. I offer you instead some late but necessary (for me) autobiographical data. Well not instead. In addition to. You see I haven't stopped playing MTGO. I still brew decks and discuss formats with friends. Perhaps not to the insane degree of past articles but there will be some lists to peruse or perhaps even shuffle up and abuse. I have been pacing myself in my housework so as to not burn out before my goals are met.


Games:

And this has meant not just playing MTGO but also some other fun games like Dungeons of Dredmore, CIV V: Gods & Kings, and Warlock - Master of the Arcane. DoD is a rogue-like with a self-deprecating and satirical twist similar to Nethack but with less difficulty and much funnier. CIV V: Gods & Kings reintroduces religions to the franchise with a brand new system involving growing a religion from the ground up and tosses in a variety of odds and ends. Warlock is a mash up of Civilization-like games and Age of Wonders, and Warlords and a myriad of other games with a similar style.

 

Image borrowed off the internet from here: http://www.worldofchristmas.net/christmas-trees/



Xmas and Spiritual Healing:

I had some vague ideas about writing again concerning the modification of paper magic cards for the holidays but I am afraid I will be putting that project on hold till next year. Not merely because I am procrastinating (again) but because I really don't think I have the time to do it justice this year. I encourage people to experiment with drawing on cards and finding ways to make things nice for friends and fellow players (Nail Polish Remover is something suggested in one thread to clean up cards pre-drawing that I have yet to try out). I don't do Xmas officially anymore. I'm an Agnostic, my family doesn't participate in it and I just can't afford it. There is a thread on mtg salvation on how to and posts of modifications if you need inspiration or just want to see what people have done.

And if you get something done message MtgKiaoshin on the mothership forums for his maillng address and send him your results. I don't know if he is still doing it this year but every year he has been the organizer for a holiday altered card art swap.

That I am not taking time to do it doesn't mean I don't support this kind of thing with all my heart. Because I do. I feel strongly that gift giving and sharing the holiday spirit with others is a great way to boost one's own sagging energies during the longest and coldest days of the year. (For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere anyway.) This is why I am taking the time to pound this out on my laptop instead of stuffing yet another hefty bag full of yesteryear's memorabilia. Priorities are important however and at age 47 I do need to be a little more proactive in my own life. Letting stuff slide because there is no one around to give me a helpful reminder or nudge is no excuse.

Being a messed up individual with many hangups isn't a proper excuse either despite maybe going over better with those who know from goof-ups. So I am functional to the best of my abilities and pushing myself to do more than I expect to be able to do because if I don't things will be worse.

I made a promise to myself after the tragedy of Erik's suicide (and this year the accidental death of another depressed friend) that I would fight my darkness and not be swallowed by it. I have worked on that and I think I have managed to succeed so far. I won't be sinking into the usually "feeling sorry for myself" humdrum blues that have often crippled me when stresses piled up too high in the past. I am 29 years sober but that isn't something to sit on like an old laurel and never accomplish anything else just because I am too busy not drinking. There is more to life than abstinence. Just because I am abstaining from alcohol, sugar, tobacco, caffeine (sodas and coffee) and other substances which alter the mind state doesn't mean there is nothing left to do.

So now that I've completely depressed those of you who have read this far, let's get to the deck lists shall we? *GRINS*

Decks:

The Masters of Jund:
This deck came about because I woke up one Saturday morning upstate and was thinking about the fun interaction of Bloodbraid Elf and Kitchen Finks. I spent a while that morning tinkering with various decks trying to find space for these two cards and then while chatting with _Kumagoro_ (our fearless Apocalypse co-host now that Blippy has retired from that PRE) and I decided to run "power" humans with some zany extras. Namely Falkenrath Aristocrats, Huntmaster of the Fells and 4 each of the above mentioned cards. This turned out to be a better decision than my initial thought of Zany Elves with an Ouphe or 4 which would include the ever lovin' Deranged Hermit and other not so often seen elves.

 


I told Kuma I expected it to fail miserably because my experience with the Tribal Apocalypse is that it is hardcore with no room for straight forward creature strategies. Then round 1 who do I get paired with? Kuma. Then surprisingly, I won 2-0. Talk about a reversal... Well next round I faced AJ_Impy my dear friend co-host of the 'Freed from the Real' podcast and Tribal Master Extraordinaire. (cf: his winning of the "most events attended" prize given by Heath as a bonus at event #100 of the Blippian Era.) We'd tested his deck earlier in the week and then I watched him both crush his previous opponent and obtain double achievement prizes during that same round. I knew what I was in for with his Dream Halls/Conflux combo. It was the exact match up I didn't want to face. Game 1 despite my trepidation, I aggro rushed in a win with Falkenrath Aristocrat and game 2 I had a chance at winning but I failed to take out his 2nd Suprazzan Skerry with Wasteland so he went off the next turn. Game 3 I managed to eke out a win following the path of game 1. I was a little chagrined at having defeated two friends but then they both went 2-1 taking the sting out of it. And AJ won more money in tix/credits from his achievements than DirtyDuck and myself combined. (DD and I split the undefeated pool after he took first place honors from me in an unsanctioned grudge match where I quickly lost two straight to Nemesis Paradigm's hard to beat Walldrazi deck.) 

Watch if you like a decisive game I had vs mihahitlor as displayed in Kuma's Diaries of the Apocalypse: Tribal Week #98. I didn't expect to win any of these match-ups and was pleasantly surprised to go 3-0 for the first time in the Blippian Era.

This deck turned out to be the most expensive deck I've built for tribal so if you feel like it is too rich for your blood I will understand. In fact I sold off my aristocrats, nobles and huntmasters soon after the event, when they zoomed up in prices. However, please note that I bought most of those cards at a very cheap price while they were undervalued which shows that people can accidentally profit given enough luck.


Rakdos, Guild Shamans of Pain
Initially I built this as an exercise in how to properly use Rakdos's Return in Tribal Wars. I don't know that it is all that powerful but it certainly seems to pack a punch in the form of discard. And your opponents should be quickly cut off from any source of lifegain which will make your objective (them dead fast) much easier.

Rakdos Shamans
A Tribal Wars Legacy format deck list by Winter.Wolf
Creatures
4 Blood Seeker
4 Kalastria Highborn
4 Stigma Lasher
4 Vampire Nighthawk
4 Rix Maadi Guildmage
20 cards

Other Spells
3 Havoc Festival
3 Rakdos's Return
4 Rain of Gore
3 Blightning
3 Everlasting Torment
16 cards
Lands
3 Mountain
4 Swamp
3 Arid Mesa
4 Badlands
4 Blood Crypt
4 Lavaclaw Reaches
2 Bloodstained Mire
24 cards
 
Rain of Gore


Havoc Festival is the big question mark here which I have considered replacing with the considerably cheaper Slaughter Games. The downside is that you lose a source of turn by turn damage. On the other hand without any special ramp it might be difficult to get to 6 mana; Whereas Slaughter Games works as a silver bullet against some potent strategies.

Legacy: A Dark War Rising.
Speaking of "Slaughter Games" I was induced by the ever convincing BlippyTheSlug to check out his new Player Run Event: Dark Wars: A Legacy of Evil which is appropriately almost completely ruleless (outside of those enforced within the client) except for the following: No Kvetching. Yep kvetching, whining, complaining, calling people out for cheating, etc will get you in trouble. Also no Timing Out. If you join the event, you're in it till the end (your opponents have to kill you). Failure to adhere to that rule can and will get you suspended/banned from it. These are Free for All games with 5-6 players per table where it is last man standing. The top player gets to go on to a special invitation only event and wins a hefty 10 tix prize.

Anyway I decided to throw in with a very casual but fun MBC deck. Then at the last minuted mized with some white splashes. Perhaps that was a good idea, perhaps not; But what ever possessed me to put Pull from Eternity in it? Well I had a theory. Here is the list first: 

 

First what happened:  I actually ended up using Pull From Eternity twice to cast Animate Dead on a Mulldrifter after it was exiled by someone. The reason for this was that all I had were ALL of the pulls, a plow a couple of lands and Animate Deads and a Damnation which was handy at one point but perhaps should have been saved for the 38/38s that came crashing in to kill those of us remaining, 20 turns or so later.

My theory with Pull From Eternity was that I would want to animate an enemy creature and the likelihood of doing so would be increased if I exiled something first then put it in their graveyard. Silly me. Of course that DID happen but it was quickly punished by removal. The only upside is that the lands I drew meant that I wouldn't be screwed anymore. (Yep spent about 6 turns looking for a 4th land. Oh look I only put 20 in because I had 4 Dark Rituals. :/) Disappointing as it was not to get Thrashing Wumpus out or Animate something big I do enjoy this kind of deck and one bad start doesn't mean it is terrible though it certainly needs some work.

The game itself (from my perspective) was somewhat anticlimatic but the idea still percolates excitement. The Prizes were very high so why not? Besides it gave me a chance to chat with some CerealKillaz (sorry about the misspelling last week). That's right this is a CK event. And while we were too busy playing to exchange much in the way of banter there was some preliminary chatting going on. I didn't stick around to see who won at the Finals table but I imagine the other 3 players knowing what was coming were sure to finish the Doubling Season/Cathar's Crusade combo guy this time instead of leaving him at 5 to come and win from behind.

Vivat Centum!
Several weeks ago I started seeing the above phrase tossed about in chat and learned that it was a Player Run Event by MTGO Academy for 100 card singleton. This reminded me that I used to enjoy (and even write about) this format. So I built the following deck: (Pardon the lack of color I had to butcher Jam's deck list css to make it wider and shorter and lack the patience to create a wider graphic for the header.)

Five Color Junkpod
A 100cs Format decklist by Winter.Wolf
Creatures
1 Lotleth Troll
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Eternal Witness
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Sunblast Angel
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Figure of Destiny
1 Spellskite
1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
1 Ethersworn Adjudicator
1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Deranged Hermit
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Hex Parasite
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Thrashing Wumpus
1 Falkenrath Aristocrat
1 Falkenrath Noble
1 Primeval Titan
1 Karmic Guide
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Grave Titan
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Hero of Bladehold
1 Reveillark
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Loxodon Smiter
1 Wall of Omens
1 Avacyn's Pilgrim
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Restoration Angel
1 Blood Artist
1 Griselbrand
1 Zealous Conscripts
39 cards
 
Other Spells
1 Birthing Pod
1 Austere Command
1 Martial Coup
1 Conflux
1 Sword of War and Peace
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Ajani Vengeant
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Vraska the Unseen
1 Decree of Justice
1 Brainstorm
1 Journeyer's Kite
1 Dream Halls
1 Diabolic Revelation
1 Wrath of God
1 Living Death
1 Rout
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Coalition Relic
1 Venser, the Sojourner
1 Trading Post
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Decree of Pain
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
24 cards
Lands
1 City of Traitors
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Krosan Verge
1 Tundra
1 Taiga
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Diamond Valley
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Temple Garden
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Murmuring Bosk
1 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Temple of the False God
1 Swamp
1 Island
1 Plains
1 Wasteland
1 Volcanic Island
1 Windbrisk Heights
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Vesuva
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Tropical Island
1 Plateau
1 Watery Grave
1 Maze of Ith
1 Marsh Flats
1 Gavony Township
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Arid Mesa
1 Scrubland
1 Bayou
1 Karakas
1 Badlands
37 cards
Birthing Pod

 

 

Then I was talking to our very own One Million Words (legendary Pete Jahn) who writes the weekly State of the Program (as a tribute to Erik Friborg) as well as being the author of many a fine article before he even took over that one. He also, coincidentally, was thinking about playing some 100cs again. We played a game and I realized almost immediately that while my deck was fun to play it was not up to snuff. It quickly fell victim to Land Destruction in the form of Ravages of War/Terravore. Well when I say quickly I mean for the format. He was on the ropes and I just needed a few turns more to finish him when he cast his armageddon and was able to swing for lethal. 

Pete's deck was a GW elves type build (though I didnt see a lot of elves so maybe not precisely that). Elves in 100cs is typically reliant on Armageddon and other "neck-breaker" spells to end the game suddenly after stalling out the opponent. Not so much fun to be on the receiving end of that but it reminded me that I do love Armageddon and its ilk. Well I expect I will be building more 100cs decks in the coming months. I may even take a moment to play in the upcoming vivat centum tourney on the 15th. It is a shame that the format died out on the client and it is up to us to revive it if we enjoy it. With a lot more sets in print than when I started playing it, there are probably a ton of interesting ideas to be tried out. Expect to see some of those ideas published in upcoming articles.

Modern Blues and Greens.
As many of you may know I am a fan of many formats and Modern is no exception. I dislike the fact that people feel they have to bring their hardest decks to the Just For Fun (JuFF) room to play a game but that seems to be the measure of the format. No mercy, no quarter. Don't ask and don't give it. Unless you just feel like taking a beating for a while. I've done that occasionally but then I get tired of losing and break out something like this: 


Worldspine Wurm is probably as Timmy as a card can get and still be intriguing to Johnny. Spike probably dislikes the 11 converted mana cost (CMC) but tell him about Through the Breach and he might swing on board if you can provide a list that isn't too slow for the format. Ah Kamigawa block how I love thee. Well not really but come on who doesn't love Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker? And all the wonderful samurai? Well mostly I love Breach as it gives me a way to do stuff like play Breach into Wurm at the end of your turn, swing for 15 trample damage, sac the wurm at the end of my next turn, get 3 5/5 tokens then cast Makeshift Mannequin to get Worldspine back again. 

Another fun trick is to activate Fauna Shaman, discarding Worldspine to get another copy while casting Makeshift Mannequin on Worldspine. Sometimes you need to do other things besides create hulking beaters so that's why the other fatties are in there. Turn 5 Primeval Titan isn't terrible, particularly as a surprise attacker. Inferno Titan kills low toughness opposition, and Pelakka Wurm nets you 7 life plus a card (assuming he dies eventually). I have found in the Modern "meta" of JuFF that Abrupt Decay or its ilk is a necessity to kill opposing Oblivion Rings, Mimic Vats, and other nuisances.

That was the green but I also have been tinkering with blue decks in modern. Most especially an esper control deck here: 

 
Well I don't typically enjoy playing control against casual players because there is always the accusation that counters are a form of griefing. I don't agree with this attitude but I hate seeing people get so upset over them. I know how they feel and it aches me a little to see it happen. This deck is fun and if I had not sold my Cryptic Commands when they skyrocketed yet again I would be playing it still. Probably not very often as I find people are more tolerant of combos like Breach Wurm than out and out denial. And I am not running some of the more nasty cards available like: Wrath of God, Supreme Verdict, Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring or even the kind of annoying Cyclonic Rift. Also possible is Unburial Rites and Griselbrand.

A note on the lands. I have a full set of  shocklands so in this case the reason for the Innistrad counterparts is to cut down on pain. I also seem to have left out the fetch lands which is probably because I felt that would make it too competitively fast. The deck has many possible configurations and depending on what you add in, can go in dramatically different directions. I would love to see more decks like this and less of the ubiquitous infect, mill, storm variants. Not that those decks have no place but they are in a glut right now and blue/x/x control which while it is around isn't predominant at all.

And in that vein another Control deck I have been messing around with (until I sold my Commands at least) is Cruel:  


The plan here is pretty straightforward. Duress first turn if possible then go into Draw Go mode. Until you are ready to lay down a simulacrum and then cast Damnation to clear the board of any chaff. Of course if your opponent is also playing the Draw Go strategy then you can probably get away with beating down for a while.

If the deck has any outstanding weakness it is that it is slow and doesn't have enough in the way of card draw but I feel this is a happy medium between counters and utility. I am certain it could use Wellsprings and maybe a Trading Post or two. When I get my Cryptic Commands again I will be revisiting this deck with an eye towards improving those areas.

Again this is a deck I have rarely brought to bear since a good lot of people in JuFF will object to counters even in Modern. Though if you are going to bring a counter deck to JuFF, this is the format to do it in. Like no other format online Modern is cut throat with very little appeal to "Everyone Having Fun," On the other hand there are players who have expressed concern that many people net deck or bring top tier strategies to what is essentially  a sandbox. That's an issue being addressed on the forums fairly regularly so I won't get into it here but to say that there is room for everyone. If anyone playing me feels my decks are too rich, powerful, tough, netdecky all you have to do is ask for a friendlier game and I will do my best to comply. It might take a while to find a mutually satisfactory power level but we can only do our best to find compromises.

Coda
I find myself constantly longing for days gone by when the decisions I have made since had not been conceived yet. However the old saying "We can't go home again." rings true in my mind and heart. On the other hand it is incumbent on us to make our hearts and minds the home we wish to live in. This is how we manage to get through daily life without cracking. By having a steady center. That means throwing out the trash and cleaning up on occasion. Not accepting "I'll get around to it" and doing some spiritual work on our lives.

This has been a very tough lesson for me to learn. I am inclined to live in the moment and to let stuff slide. But I can tell from my decreasing enjoyment in things I do love that this is not going to work in the long run for me. I suspect that eventually we all go through this (whether we know it or not) but Gamers go through it more than others. Because part of why we game is to escape the mundane and humdrum. We seek excitement and a fair story. A condition where we can overcome strife and become a better self. Well there is nothing wrong with that imho. People who feel there is, are simply insular and hidebound. The key is as Nemesis Paradigm said in an article last year: To do things in moderation.

More importantly to find ways to make ourselves happy not merely in game but in our lives. As we approach Christmas 2012 and the possible Apocalypse I wish all of you an especially wonderful holiday season (whatever you choose to celebrate.) Hopefully we will get through the rest of this year with nary a bump and lots of good memories to look back on. Don't be too blue, because remember we all suffer in the cold wintry darkness but the sun comes around again, come spring and we will rise up again. Meantime stay warm, don't get too drunk, enjoy yourselves, your families and friends and be happy!

Until next time,
Magically,
Paul Emerson Leicht aka Winter.Wolf.

 

3 Comments

Nobody can write MTGO by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 12/08/2012 - 04:34
Kumagoro42's picture
5

Nobody can write MTGO articles like yours, Paul. :)
You make the transition between deeply personal, philosopical reflections and lists with big Wurms appear seamless.

My notes are random, instead: I share with you the procrastination (and relative issues) and agnosticism; and you'll be happy to see that your TribAp Human/Bloodbraid deck isn't the most expensive in recent memory anymore, given that RexDart just beat your price.

Also, I need to play with Wurms in Modern. The Wurm concept naturally leaded me to Tribal, but you just made me realize you can have fun with (some of/the best of) them in Modern and free some much needed slots to make them work. I'm trying to find changes that I'd do to that list (Makeshift Mannequin? Why not Zombify? Oh, right, it's an instant), but I can't find any. Maybe that singleton Bloodghast? Since it doesn't block, doesn't seem to do much. Also, I found that once you have a set of Abrupt Decays, 95% of the targets Maelstrom Pulse might find can be dealt with by Putrefy (another case where instant-speed is better). I can also envision 4 Chalices of the Void regularly coming in after Game 1.

Happy holidays, man.

Thank you Kuma though I think by Paul Leicht at Sat, 12/08/2012 - 08:44
Paul Leicht's picture

Thank you Kuma though I think you do yourself a disservice with your self deprecation. Your articles are a cut above and should be aspired to as a standard for those writing here.

I know there is some inherently magical about Wurms beating down for some huge number. So we share that enjoyment.

I love Maelstrom Pulse because in Modern it is uniquely able to kill anything but land and protected/shrouded permanents and also hits tokens quite harshly. Abrupt Decay is better of course vs some of the more critical cards like Vats, and Goyfs and Bobs but M Pulse still has a place if only as a sideboard against certain prevalent strategies. Putrify is OK if you don't have pulse but it doesn't hit Planeswalkers, or Enchantments which can sometimes be a big deal in modern.

I was happily surprised to see someone bring a more expensive deck 2 weeks later. Hey the more the merrier. But I do feel that if you can bring a $5 deck and go 3-0 or even 2-1 you are playing the game the way it was intended to be played. Having to stuff a deck full of "good stuff" to place might not be.

It is heartening to see both. And innovations too. I did actually build crazy elves deck today but I suspect it is really just bad. I hope to give it some tests at some point.

Thanks again for commenting and Happy Holidays to you too!

I like Maelstrom enough, in by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 12/08/2012 - 10:29
Kumagoro42's picture

I like Maelstrom enough, in fact I'm always agonizing over the choice. But I found myself too many times with a Maelstrom in hand and a Nexus on the other side of the board (they're way more frequent than planeswalkers within the Blippy's PREs). Or any manlands, or just something that came when I had free mana and could have been dealt with in the end phase. Putrefy is underrated. Decay doesn't kill Nexuses and manlands either. Nor do Wrath/Damnation/BSZ. (Yes, I fear the land menace a lot!)