Magical Crimbo Time
Paul Emerson Leicht
I noticed a thread a few days ago in the Wizards forums under the magic the gathering general section started by MTGKaioshin (whom you might remember as a member of the 2nd annual community cup challenge, aka Joe, or "that guy with the beard".) MTGKaioshin is taking up where his fellow CCC2 teammate Gavin Verhey left off. Card modification is a tricky art and usually I've left it to the professionals. (I watched Randy Gallegos do some seriously great mods during PTNY 2000.) I decided to at least get the word out and maybe do a few myself just for fun.
Here are a few that I did in about 45mins for example. I used an etching pen to scrape the areas I wanted to color, free of ink (and didn't do a great job of it either, but it shows what you could do if you were patient.) This event has a short time limit but even if you don't complete yours in time for this year you can save them for next year or maybe even give them to magic loving friends nearer to home.
Speaking of holiday celebrations I managed to get a hold of 3x Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero and some of her best friends from Masques Block. I'm aware her value wont stay high long as she has no home in any competitive deck in any official format but she is the queen of rebels and thus is required to complete my (r)Evolutionary Conspiracy theory deck series. Initially I wrote about this for neutralground.net as part of my column ("A House of Cards") back in 2000. Though I have a deck list linked in that article, the program (autodeck) that held that list was deleted eventually so when I recovered my articles I didn't manage to retrieve the list.
I started over working from memory, old lists and new ideas. Some of the cards I would have used back then have been replaced due to obsolescence. Some may be harder to fit nowadays (Deranged Hermit for example) and some are replicated with modern equivalents. The old lists were not tribal legal (Tribal Wars was not invented yet) so there was more room to throw in oddities. http://outofthebrokensky.com/newart/newarts.asp?ID=28 this is a replica of the Neutral Ground article I have archived. Sadly the links in that archive do not work. (I tried recovering them with the waybackmachine but no luck.)
Rebels are near and dear to my heart and are one reason I became a Tribal Wars aficionado. I loved tribes before they were called that because of rebels. This deck could use some refinements. The old list I am certain had Coffin Queen, Thrashing Wumpas, Academy Rector plus the sac creature land, High Market that is insanely expensive at the moment. When it calms down slightly I may pick up a copy and get some Wumpuses and Rectors. The way this works is pretty simple. Throw down a birds, or sergeant first turn. Next turn accelerate into Lin Sivvi. Karakas is in here mainly to protect her from exile effects. The rest of the non rebels are mainly silver bullets. Karmic Guide + Reveillark used to be 4x Karmic Guide back in the day but this seems excessive here and I like the versatility of Lark (More on that below.)
These cards once inspired a spoofy (silly) news piece from me on neutralground.net.
Conspiracy is the heart of the non creature cards. With this out you can fetch out anything with Lin Sivvi and her minions and can do some pretty broken things like swing with titan let it die to blockers, recycle it into the deck and fetch it again getting more lands. That's six lands fetched if you worked it right. Haunted Crossroads while not in the deck deserves a mention as it was in the original list. I decided to go with the often overlooked Genesis Wave because when it fires off at even a low number like x = 6 that usually spells game over. Other possible candidates: Living Death, Corpse Dance and Survival of the Fittest (though that last is banned in the Apocalypse.) Hallowed Burial is a concession to the tip someone dropped on me the last time I posted an article on this subject. Essentially it lets me reset my rebels without worrying too much about my opponents being able to build up as quickly again.
Some cards that are deliberately missing from this list are the bullets attacking enchantments and artifacts. I refer to the 187 creatures such as Uktabi Orangutan and Monk Realist. They are definite candidates for the next couple of builds if I find the meta requires them, along with Bone Shredder and Flametongue Kavu. Avalanche Riders is a necessary evil where Loci are the most dangerous lands in the format and there are plenty of others that make life miserable for slow decks.
Just for Fun
Last week WOTC pulled a fast one on us. For years now we have been arguing about the meaning of casual because the room where non tourney games happened the most was called "Casual Decks Casual Play", Now they have renamed this room "Just for Fun" or as I like to think of it: "Juff". On the surface this does seem to nullify the old arguments since now there is NO "casual" to argue over. However, now we get to discuss the meaning of the word "fun." Do they mean collectively? Must it be fun for everyone? If your deck is self acknowledged to be not fun can you still bring it to the "Juff" room? Are people going to stop complaining about Bastard decks? Or should I clarify that as Jackasses running Bastard decks?
"My combo doesn't kill you in 3 turns. That makes it OK right? I mean I have fun when I'm playing it." "Wait that goblins deck...that's not a very tuned version of goblins as an archetype, even if it does just tear up everything in sight. That's still fun right?" Etc. We could probably argue about card prices, mythics and whether foils are truly fun but that seems to be stretching the point. People bring Netdecks (copied deck lists card for card from tourney winning lists), Mythics, budget, pauper, draft leavings, rogue combo, aggro, counter spells, hand denial, land destruction and more to the only populated room in the game that isn't dedicated to multiplay or drafts/tourneys.
These are fun right?
These too right?
So whether those decks are fun seems moot. Of course you will find some fun games there and some unfun games. The motto I go by is one many espouse since it is a sensible approach. "Play what you want. Concede when you want." This literally means if someone concedes it makes 0 sense to complain about it. They conceded for any number of reasons that they may or may not have disclosed. Chances are if they flamed you on their way out they were enraged by your deck choices or play choices. So what? Take the win and move on.
The inverse of this is also true. If you are faced with an unwinnable game and are not kind enough to let your opponent play it out to their satisfaction, concede. Moving to the next game will be easy as pie. I recommend however if you are the one doing the flaming you take 5 and go do something else for a bit. Maybe go pee, eat a snack, talk to a fellow resident etc. Anything but think about the game you just lost. It is not much of a hobby if you are constantly enraged by it or the people you share it with. I have a fairly poor temper myself and when I'm down I can be quite the #@^%$^@!! (insert your own expletive here.) I have been working on this, and people may have noticed I don't flame much these days, preferring instead to let stuff slide.
Tribal Apocalypse (run by BlippyTheSlug who also runs Saturday Night Melee, Overdrive! and Eurodrive!)
Which is a good thing because I've been on a pretty nasty losing streak in Tribal Apocalypse. The Invitational of which is coming up soon and I haven't even placed on the list for much less achieved anywhere near enough points to qualify for an invite. That means in a whole year+ I haven't managed a 3-x record. Not once. True I have missed a number of events but my typical score there is 0-x drop.
There will be slots available on a first come first serve basis so if you find yourself also out in the cold don't fret. Though higher ranked players may bump you off the tourney last minute if they do show up. Here is the post explaining this in detail. You can also read up on more Tribal Apocalypse activity in Kumagoro42's articles here. Kuma as done some extra work on this event by keep track of the Hall of Fame.
It has been suggested by BlippyTheSlug that AJ_Impy and Nemesis Paradigm (our very own ArchGenius and resident Apocalypse top runner) should have a grudge match at some future time. I think that is a great idea. I would make this a team event with Team AJ vs Team NP where each player gets 3 cohorts to design decks with to bring to the grudge match which would be a closed Swiss tourney with highest team score winning all.
I said quite a while ago I would start writing about this format but life interfered and then the format became official and then bans happened and well I haven't been playing it. But I recently created a deck for the format and will be trying out the Overdrive! event on Mondays. If my deck works out I will write it up. If not I will write about the decks it lost to.
More and more as each new set comes out I've felt that the Standard format has had a lot to offer us as builders. World Wake shut that down a bit with it's unfun group of cards but since then the sets have been interesting to me. And now that Zen block is entirely gone the top tier choices seem pretty wide open. I am not usually even interested in the top tier choices, but if they are affordable and fun I will try them out. Kumagoro was kind enough to team up with me for a while for Saturday Night Melee and we did pretty well but did not take 1st place. Apparently lately this has not been possible so I have been skipping the event but I have still been brewing and testing in "Juff". Here are some of my efforts:
Pod has been around a long while and before Innistrad (ISD) arrived and Zen block departed Bant Pod was the clear front runner of good pod decks. I mean LSV wrote about it so it must have been good, right? But then pod did nothing and placed nowhere and no one cared. It is still a great card and great archetype. ISD adds little to the deck but Geist-Honored Monk is such a great card that it alone is enough to make the addition of ISD a worthy one. Unburial Rites is also a great card. So great in fact that along with the enemy lands I felt I had to splash for it. Between podding away creatures and Day of Judgment (both yours and theirs) there will always be valid targets for it. Unfortunately this is a hard deck to test even in Tourney Practice. I had several opponents rage quit on me (one after game 1 of a match) and that was unusual since typically players in TP are level headed and aren't prone to tantrums.
The above two cards inspired a conversation between Lord Erman (our resident rogue deck builder) and I. LE and I often discuss interesting tech ideas in standard and other formats and he always has great insights into anything we are discussing even if I don't always follow his precise advice. Here is the first deck I came up with based on our conversations:
Blasphemous Act and (Falkenrath) Noble caught my attention during a game with someone in "Juff". They weren't playing their deck to maximize the combo but it was just so killer I had to build it and after discussing my options with Lord Erman at length I settled on Oros () because White adds both token creation and removal. Druidic Satchel is handy when I run out of other token creators and is often a great accelerator. The single Dispatch was 4 then 3 and then finally 1 as I found it was often under performing vs decks that like to play lots of little guys and hurt a lot against burn builds (particularly Burning Vengeance Past in Flames versions) . Dispatch is still a handy one off versus the few indestructibles, regenerators and other annoyances that act or Day of Judgment don't cover.
Initially I had the new almost wrath in there Divine Reckoning but kept wanting a Day of Judgment instead even though it did serve to slow down decks going full blast and let me keep my Nobles on occasion. It was just usually not so great when my op landed something unblockable or otherwise a keeper. Timely Reinforcements has been interesting. Occasionally I have it in hand and it stays there because I never have less life or creatures than my opponent. But games like that tend to be winners anyway.
I started to change the deck and then I had an inspiration. I'd toyed with and discard a Jund build almost immediately. But I had not even considered Grixis. LE and I discussed just as a possibility so I knew the worst case scenario for Grixis would be that blue wouldn't deliver enough to be worth including. Here is that deck:
The first thing you may notice is that there are only twenty lands in the list and this is something that usually makes me wince when I see it in other builds. However here it seems to work and is a measured resort after experimenting with more lands. I kept drawing into floods and realized I never had a problem keeping 2 lands if I also had a wellspring.
This deck often beats down quickly with a turn two wellspring turn three Kuldotha Rebirth, turn four Falkenrath Noble swing. Then if my opponent has built up a board presence I may cast Blasphemous Act. Alternatively I may Cackling Counterpart a noble. I have also lived the dream and flipped my keeper and then counterparted it. That game was long but I won. Manor Gargoyle is funny in a couple if ways. One, he is implacable as a defender. The opponent has to exile it or just deal with a guy that can kill most things they can swing with and even in a cinch can block a flyer (though that hasn't been necessary yet.) He also is a fairly quick clock at 4 through the air per turn. And he does not die to your sweepers which means his clock continues after you wipe the board.
I have been considering getting another Massacre Wurm because I've been running into a number of Zombie decks of late. Nothing says 'instawin' like Massacre wurm vs a lot of 2/2 zombie tokens. And wurm loves killing white weenie decks as well. Elves aren't fond of the wurm either and I've had no problems chewing up werewolves once I managed to keep them under control, transform-wise. Evil Twin was interesting as a one off. It has a different function than Metamorph in that it can be a "Nno!" forever to certain creatures. (Its ability stays relevant after it kills its initial victim.)
Sheoldred, Whispering One is stretching the curve a bit and I am not 100% sold on her in this deck. I might take her out for that extra wurm or another twin.
Unlike Pod this deck isn't overpowered for "Juff" and wouldn't survive in TP long though I may take it for a spin there just for kicks sometime. If I do I will need to think up a decent sideboard. Probably something including 4x dissipate, 4x other counterspell, and perhaps some burn. Probably also 4x Nihil Spellbomb as graveyard recursion has gone somewhat wild lately.
Yet another almost netdeck
Alan Comer is a PT Hall of Famer and an intriguing deck builder and when I saw what he was bringing to worlds I had to try it for myself. I was already toying with some of the ingredients but I didn't quite get the interaction between Heartless Summoning and Grand Architect until I saw his list laid out on the table with Richard Hagen taking us through the build with Alan in his deck tech. Here is my version inspired from that list:
I didn't follow his build too closely; Abandoning his 4x each Phantasmal Images and Phyrexian Metamorphs package completely and diverging widely from there. I did have the package in originally but since I only had 3 metamorphs and one image it seemed like a half step. Oddly Evil Twin snuck in and has not been regrettable so far. I played with Myr Battlesphere for a bit but decided a titan deserved that slot more. The one sangromancer probably wants to be another noble but each serves a different purpose.
The Perilous Myr are key versus early beaters particularly before I can get down a Heartless Summoning. After that they just become spot removal as needed or burn if that is required. I have had some flooding problems as I discussed with Grixis Noble Acts but because I have a lot of 6-7 cmc cards in here I kept the land count at 24. I might reduce it to 22 and put in the missing 2 wellsprings, but I don't think this deck can really afford the 20 land count I kept with Grixis. For one thing, without Heartless Summoning the deck becomes a lot slower and clunkier. Having the right lands is crucial.
One card I didn't include was Necrotic Ooze. I have been playing with variations of grimooze (cf below) and have discovered that while it is a fun deck it just doesn't have any consistency in Standard. Maybe there is a place for it in Modern or Tribal Wars or Classic. I did bring this to the last SNM partnering with Kumagoro so thats why there is a sideboard:
The deck interaction is pretty simple. Play stuff, let it die. Play an Ooze; Win. Also Zombie Infestation is really a key card in getting the right cards in your graveyard while also preserving your life total. The zombie tokens make nice sacrifices too. (Mind Shrieker) is a card most often targeted for immediate kill by savvy opponents as it can just win given the right reveal. (Pentavus for example) The sideboard was our attempt to guess the meta. It turned out to be largely useless. I am not sure how to make a decent side board for two headed giant yet.
And a Merry Crimbo to all!
Some of you might wonder what that means. I am not religious after all, and while I enjoy the holidays, I don't have any special attachment to Christmas. Other than the fun trappings. (Bells, lights, snow, pine trees, ornaments, gifts, eggnog (without sugar or rum please, wait isn't that just eggs and milk? nevermind skip the nog), warm feelings with friends and family. Well typically those last two are lacking for me since most of my friends and family do not live in NYC anymore. That said I enjoy the idea of the holiday and I also enjoy a browser rpg based on stick figure graphics called Kingdom of Loathing (kingdomofloathing.com).
I started playing in the stick figure lands about 6+ years ago and on and off I've enjoyed especially their oddball holiday celebration known as Crimbo. If you love parody and satire you will love this game. (Odds are you've played it already if you do though.) Recently I've been catching up on all the content I missed for a few years as I took a break from the game and now am getting into this year's Crimbo celebration which inexplicably involves a lot of Fudge. The kol community isn't as large as the magic community I think but it is very well knit with lots of fun players and contests. I highly recommend it for anyone enjoys a good joke and has an adult rated yet juvenile sense of humor. As a recovering alcoholic I choose to not drink but I can play with alcohol-related jokes guilt-free within this game.
And on that note I hope you all have a great holiday season. May your wishes all come true for the New Year. With any luck my next article (after the New Years) will be an interview with one of the notable people of mtgo.
Until then, Magickly,
Paul Emerson Leicht (aka Winter.Wolf)