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By: Paul Leicht, Paul Emerson Leicht
Jul 30 2012 11:13am
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"Drawn by Paul Emerson Leicht"


Ham On Wry

May 4th was scheduled for a celebration of Erik (Hamtastic) Friborg's Birthday. And a celebration it was. The two events both run by the indefatigable wonder-slug BlippyTheSlug, in the Classic format, were packed with players both noted and otherwise. Initially, my plan was to run some red deck wins variant. My thinking was a) The archetype can just win vs slower decks and has a fighting chance vs anything but the top tier decks. But as I tested and edited and tested my variants I couldn't find one I was happy with. They would house anything in Just for Fun but then would get stomped in Tourney Practice. This led to frustration on my part.

I expressed this frustration to the ever friendly Keya Saleh (gamemaster32) and he offered to lend me cards to help me build a higher tiered deck. We settled on Affinity Shops after discussing my collection. I think we used to expedite the viewing. ( run by Tweaker has a nice feature for importing .csv files from MTGO and thus can store and display a collection for private or public viewing.)

So Shops which I have never played with in paper have always been pricy (until very recently when they dropped into a more reasonable range) and thus out of my consideration normally. But I had a good bit of the affinity portion of the deck already. In fact I was mainly missing the big money lands and Arcbound Ravagers. And Keya had them all. I had never played Affinity Shops before but I understood the idea fairly well.

Mishra's WorkshopArcbound RavagerGenesis Chamber

Play quick mana in the form of Mishra's Workshop, Sol Ring, Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors and company and then drop some quick beaters in the form of Memnite, Arcbound Ravager, Steel Overseer, and others. Finish the game before the opponent recovers enough to field their own army.

I ended up going 4-1 in the main event losing only to Flash Hulk which ended up winning the event. I was the top placed 4-1 since my match ups were all well placed so I squeezed into the top 8 in 8th place and then promptly lost in the quarterfinals to Dredge. It was a tense 3 game match that could have gone either way. In fact until the very last turn if I had drawn one of my 10 sideboard cards against it or an Arcbound Ravager I could have won.

Thank you to Keya for helping me like that. It was extremely generous, trusting and might have cost him the top 8 since he also went 4-1 and didn't make the cut. Thanks also to Blippy for his tireless efforts that night and in getting so much in donations in Hamtastic's name. Never before has there been such a large and well sponsored well organized player run event. I do hope Wizards of the Coast considers this.

Classic and Onwards

Since the event I have been building my collection up and have finally come close to a deck list of Affinity Shops:

I made a number of changes including +1 Tinker, +1 Blightsteel Colossus, + 1 Time Vault and +1 Voltaic Key for -4 Frogmite. I know in theory Frogmite is a free 2/2 on turn 1 but my experience with it in tourney showed me that it is very unreliable. I ended up siding all 4 out most games. I also replaced Gaea's Cradle with Seat of the Synod. My reason for this is mainly economical. Cradle has almost doubled in price since the event and thus ended up slightly out of reach. I also replaced the opals with diamonds since that's what I have. I expect opals to drop a little as they leave standard in two months. Hopefully by then I will have a pair at least. I also added in trinket mages, and Demonic Tutor to fetch many of the key cards with.

I should note that I net-decked the list I used at Ham On Wry from Kuriboh's 4-0 DE appearance a few months before the event as is printed on Since the event I changed the list quite a bit and removed the sideboard. I expect anyone using this list will create their own sideboard based on their meta. Some possible cards to consider:
Ensnaring Bridge (shuts down creature attack decks), Thorn of Amethyst (makes storm annoyed), Tormod's Crypt (hurts dredge), Leyline of the Void (hurts dredge), Grafdigger's Cage (gives problems to Dredge and Oath), Chalice of the Void (shuts down storm), Phyrexian Metamorph (helps in the mirror), Wurmcoil Engine (helps vs rdw).

Another deck I long have lusted after is Rec Sur which was big circa 1998. This kind of strategy really appeals to me. Play a turn 1 birds, turn 2 survival, discard a creature to fetch another. turn 3 play recurring nightmare and swap birds for big monster. The elegance of Recurring Nightmare in conjunction with cards like Survival of the Fittest and Living death means it's almost never a bad card to play. Here is the version I put together with some modern staples added in:

This isn't the rock version which mainly features creatures with few off-color splashes, but the toolbox version and as such has mostly exchangeable parts. Many of the creatures in it can be swapped for others without harming the deck's central idea. The fun thing about it is you can be flexible to deal with your opponent's plans and still be proactive.

Damnation is a reset button if you end up behind in development for some reason and Living Death works hand in hand with Recurring Nightmare and Survival. Flayer of the hatebound (which does not work directly with Living Death as the graveyards are exiled first) is one finisher along with (Palakka Wurm) and Woodfall Primus. If you can get a Recurring Nightmare to stick with a Flayer out and something big in the graveyard you can almost guarantee the win. 6 mana to cast Nightmare gets you even closer.

I chose Wickerbough Elder as my one concession to artifact/enchantment hate because it doesn't auto hit my own enchantments. I know this isn't enough and there should probably a few more cards like it, but there are 3 angels that vindicate anything and the primus which hits non-creatures. Deranged Hermit provides ground cloggers that can double as fodder for recurring and the squirrels can grow to threatening sizes with a few hermits on the board.

Some possible substitution tools for the toolbox: Avalanche Riders (kills workshop, man-lands, and other annoyances), Acidic Slime (and the like), Restoration Angel, Magister Sphinx (reset or lower life totals), Nekrataal, Man-o'-War, Izzet Chronarch, Stonehorn Dignitary, Stonecloaker, and Duplicant.

This deck might be a little too rough for random games in the "Just For Fun" room so if you find yourself facing concessions you may want to switch something slightly less synergistic or alternatively find tougher opponents via advertising.

Tribal Wars

Men on horses:
Plenty of new cards from recent sets have pumped up our choices for popular tribes. We have tons of new ways to synergize with humans and angels and zombies and devils and demons and dragons. One thing I noticed becoming more prevalent among the humans is the Riders. They aren't precisely a sub tribe but they do seem to abound. Men on horses. And I don't just mean silly fools with coconuts either. And so my criterion in selecting humans for this was they had to include "rider" within the name. Here is the list:

The way this works is pretty straight forward. Get Varchild's War-riders down early, start attacking and ignoring the survivor tokens. If your opponent blocks with them, your riders get rampage which makes their blocks less effective since it also has trample. If you need help in getting damage through, Riders of Gavony does that job nicely giving your men on horses protection from a whole tribe. Additionally you can wipe the board of low toughness dudes with Rolling Earthquake, which also serves as a finisher as long as you have more life than your opponent.

Basilisk Collar equipped to a Ronin Cliffrider serves a similar purpose while also giving you excess life. (Thanks to AJ_Impy for demonstrating that usage in several decks.) Avalanche Riders are good for spot removal of problem lands (Gaea's Cradle, Tolarian Academy and the like) and also can strand an opponent playing mid-range tribal. Stormfront Riders provide both another source of tokens and a relatively strong late game flyer at 3/4.

Riding the Dilu Horse adds to the theme of the deck while providing immunity to Rolling Earthquake and making a guy almost unblockable. Also since it is a Sorcery that has no until the end of turn phrase, it gives a permanent bonus. The swords are pretty self-explanatory as is path to exile (x4).

Quirion Humans
Just before the m13 spoilers were announced I picked up 4 Quirion Dryads. The idea was to complete a good Dryads deck. But my finding was that Dryads, as a tribe, are merely mediocre at best even making them multicolor to make the best of the Quirion Dryad ability. The upside was that I could add more non-dryads to the deck since the land, Dryad Arbor, counts as both land and creature. However this wasn't a lot of fun to play with, so I took out all the bad cards and added humans instead.

There isn't too much to say about this other than it is fun to stick an armadillo cloak on Quirion Dryad and beat down. Mentor of the Meek gives good draws since everything at least starts at 2 power or less (except a pumped knight), Knight of the Reliquary brings in lands (and other versions may have (Wastelands), and Sejiri Steppe.) (Village Bellringer) helps with tapping KOTR and defense, Deranged Outcast beefs everyone up, and Riders of Gavony helps with offense. For removal, since I am running non-fliers I chose to go with Firespout which is flexible but can be one-sided (And also triggers the Dryad ability.) Snakeform is often pure card advantage as you end up killing something by blocking it and drawing a card as well. Wrath rounds out the removal. Typically if I can cast it or Damnation I include them since sweepers in a creature format are almost always good.

The Camarilla:

Those sunlight-hating leeches in human form are back again. And they brought their servants, the humans. After all what's an Aristocrat to do if he gets thirsty? I built this based on an idea of combining some of the human token makers with Falkenrath Aristocrat. I started out with a purely humans base but then thought about adding in Blood Artist and the deck pretty much built itself from there. Thatcher Revolt is a nice addition to the theme and Zealous Conscripts does double duty as another body to swing with and sacrifice and adding another creature to your army to be sacced to the Aristocrats. Ranger of Eos can fetch both a Doomed Traveler and Stromkirk Noble.

Kaleidoscope Tribal

A commenter on Kumajuro's last Tribal Apocalypse article said that he developed a Kaleidoscope legal tribal wars deck and I realized that this deck below is also legal for that combo format. We could perhaps have another alternate format for a weekend when people are bored of the stale regular events? Or not. :) Not like there are too many tribes that even qualify and there are no multicolor changelings to fill the gaps.

Obviously more Vindicates would be better but when they were cheapest I only managed to snag one before the price bounced back up. Maelstrom Pulse almost fills the same role but doesn't hit lands which is a minor yet important distinction. On the other hand it does kill duplicates. Nephilim are one of the few tribes that is wholly multicolored. Thus they make a nice fit for this style of deck.

I started putting this together a month ago as I was watching a B movie about Nephilim. Which according to are either the children of Seth (biblical brother to Cain and Abel) and or fallen angels who rose up against the Hebrew God in an attempt take over the world. The movie focused on the second definition. They were said to be incredibly powerful beings with titan-sized offspring and the power to command the elements. (Sort of reminding me of the Cthonic Gods of early Greece.

I expected big powerful creatures from that description and yet despite the (awesome) flavor text we have a 1/1, two 2/2s and two 3/3s. The abilities range from "Huh, what??" ("Whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery spell, if Ink-Treader Nephilim is the only target of that spell, copy that spell for each other creature that spell could target. Each copy targets a different one of those creatures.") to "Oh cool!" ("Whenever Yore-Tiller Nephilim attacks, return target creature from your graveyard to te battlefield tapped and attacking.")

Expectations aside, Nephilim are fun to play and since they are relatively fragile I added in some combat tricks to make them surprisingly bigger. (Gerard's Command) is a nasty block enabler that can help you take out an attacker. Colossal Might is more offensive in nature, lending high power and trample to anything from your Witch-maw Nephilim dude who has grown big but can't punch through a ground clogged with defenders, to the Dune-brood Nephilim's little sand tokens which suddenly deal 5 damage instead of 1.

I included a singleton Clutch of the Undercity because it fetches any of the Nephilim as needed and can be quite good as tempo removal with the side effect of three to the dome. It could be that more Clutches deserve space on the list, but one serves for now.

Double Tribal

A while back I recommended a new format idea I called Double Tribal in an article. The rules needed a bit of massaging before it was ready for experimenting, but we managed to narrow them down to the following: 

  • Present 2 deck lists of 60 cards exactly, 33% tribal as per the Tribal Wars Legacy rules and the Tribal Apocalypse bans list.
  • Neither list may have overlapping creature types with the other. So no Elf/Druid mixtures or Warriors (Elves) + Shamans (Elves).
  • Both lists combine to make a single 120 card deck, so both lists must have a unified build. (No more than 4 of any card (other than basic lands) between them.)

BlippyTheSlug scheduled and ran an event at the Tribal Apocalypse at the beginning of July using rules _Kumajuro_, Blippy and I discussed. Unfortunately the solution of handing in 2 separate lists proved to be too much strain on Blippy's antique pc and this led to near disaster and near apoplexy for our favorite PRE host. So until such time as we can find a better way to do it, there will be no more Double Tribal events. In the meantime here is the deck in 2 list form that I came up with that I most enjoyed:


I built this as one deck and I didn't quite figure out how to split it up appropriately right away. Which is why I ended up not playing in the event since the decks had overlapping creature types in the extras (angels in each list). When I started writing this article I realized that to make it legal, all the angels would have to be in one deck. I added in the angels because they happen to be great targets for rebel searches when Conspiracy is in play. Typically my Rebel Conspiracy decks try to be a bit like Rec Sur in that they consist of a bunch of searchers, Conspiracy and tool box creatures. This time I was trying for high-end beaters.

Neither list would operate very well on its own but together they have power. Elementals provide recursion and draw and Rebels provide instant speed threat/answer fetching. Brainstorm, Dream Cache and Sensei's Divining Top provide the top deck manipulation required to make Terminus effective. Living Death and Wrath of God help with sweeping and I tossed in a single Hallowed Burial in place of the fourth Terminus to help with "tucking". (This term refers to the concept of tucking a card underneath a deck with cards like Condemn) Tucking as was suggested in a prior article's comments is very useful with Rebels who can search out their stray fellows with ease. Conspiracy brings it all together, allowing all of your creatures to be fetched as rebels, with Lin Sivvi doing the heavy lifting. As I understand it the event was fun to play in even though the strain put on Blippy was over the top.

Standard Play

I have been avoid Standard for a month or two since Avacyn Restored (AVR) came in but that doesn't mean I haven't been building decks. On the contrary I have not only been building them but rebuilding them. At first my feelings about AVR really made Standard seem a gloomy place to build from. So much hype around the story which seemed rather stale to me and I can't really put my finger on one thing that really upset me about the set but it did not bring the same kind of excitement I felt as New Phyrexia came out. Granted NPH was probably the top set for me in recent history. And by recent history I mean since Alara Reborn which I also enjoyed a lot.

Meanwhile all these synergies and combinations were burning little psychic holes in my brain as I collected some more cards and put together decks. Two such decks really stood out and thus I am sharing them with you. BlippyTheSlug and I have discussed Blood Artist shenanigans at some length and that inspired this first deck as a remake on my old Noble Acts deck: 


One of my favorite plays in this deck is turn 1 Champion, turn 2 Blood Artist, turn 3 Thatcher Revolt. Also fun is a later turn Revolt followed by a Kessig Malcontents. Also great fun is casting Restoration Angel to blink Conscripts to steal something of theirs and then sac it to make Falkenrath Aristocrat bigger. The one Increasing Devotion is a concession to the fact that it is a high converted mana cost (cmc) card in an essentially aggro deck. The deck can win on turn 4 with good draws and does quite well in later turns. A late game double Devotion is probably "Good Game." I also found the single Vault to be quite effective when it comes out without causing too many problems with mana fixing.

Cavern of Souls works particularly well despite needing to help three different tribes in this deck. (Well really two since angels are a severe minority here.)

The next deck is another twist on Blood Artist, this time in basic black. I think you will enjoy it:  

Killing the Messenger
a Standard format deck by Winter.Wolf

2 Sangromancer
3 Perilous Myr
4 Geralf's Messenger
3 Falkenrath Noble
3 Black Cat
3 Solemn Simulacrum
2 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
1 Wurmcoil Engine
4 Blood Artist
25 cards

Other Spells
2 Lashwrithe
3 Smallpox
3 Geth's Verdict
3 Killing Wave
11 cards

1 Phyrexia's Core
20 Swamp
3 Evolving Wilds
24 cards
Killing Wave


 Blood Artist and Falkenrath Noble team up with Geralf's Messenger to cause much pain and suffering to your opponent while healing your own wounds. Finally I have found a deck I like to use (Small Pox) in. I have loved the card since its first printing but it has been hard to find the right deck for it. Killing Wave rounds things out with a way to sacrifice all these fine creatures to create the lethal triggers. Nevermind what it does to your opponent's creatures/life total. The rest of the creatures fit the theme and Geth's Verdict is great non-targeting way of ridding yourself of problematic hexproof and protected dudes. Lashwrithe gives your smaller guys a bit more punch just in case, and another dude (germs can be dudes right?) to sacrifice.


The Erik "Hamtastic" Friborg Community Cup

I have enjoyed the 1st three community cup events (to the point that last year I wrote a song for it) and was vaguely disappointed when there was no announcement earlier this year about when this year's version would occur. Then the folks over at WOTC let us know (in this thread) that they were indeed planning stuff and an announcement would arrive eventually to tell us when and how to nominate people. This has occurred with the advent of this thread and this article which points to the following link for voting purposes. Those of you who have reported bugs in the past probably recognize this as that very same link you used to do so.

10th Anniversary hooray!!

In the midst of waiting on a CCC announcement, MTGO's tenth anniversary celebration happened. There was spellslinging and tourneys and gifts! Many fine gifts. My collective booty was as follows: 1 unhinged Island, 1 unhinged Mountain, 1 unhinged Swamp *foil*, two packs of foil Alara block, 2 Slivers Premium decks, 2 Fire & Lightning Premium decks and a Graveborn Premium deck. Then I picked up 3 more (Entombs) cheaply to complete a long desired wishlist. (If you are wondering why I got so many items it is because I have had two active accounts since 2006 , 1 of which that goes back to the beta.) To Wizards of the Coast: thank you very much for the splendid gifts and also for sticking around and being excellent in the face of often harsh criticisms and multiple disastrous events.

Hammy's Bot

As Pete Jahn reminds us weekly, HammyBot is still available and still has over 30,000 cards for sale. The proceeds of which go directly to his widow Tami, and son Bruce. I hope when you need cards you think of this. Buying cards this way not only gets you a virtual piece of Erik memorabilia to hang on to but also puts the money in a worthy place for good people. Keep in mind that the bot does not share credits with any other bots and credits left for more 2 months will be sent to Tami and Bruce.

My Nominees

Back in march I wrote "Magical Tidings: Infinite Wolves" and told you then who my own nominees were. Keya Saleh (of the Freed From the Real podcast) and Nafiz Erman (Lord Erman who has in the past written many fine articles and who was the subject of one of my Legendary Personalities articles. I stand by both of these fellows still though I know LE has been off doing other things rather than writing and playing. However the way the announcement is worded it seems we only get one vote per person this year, which means I have to choose. Since Keya is active I will vote for him. I urge you to do the same. 

If multiple nominations were allowed I would also nominate AJ_Impy, Heath Newton and JXClaytor to get another invite as they all were unable to attend when theirs was extended to them. I believe in second chances, particularly with situations where real life circumstances interfered beyond their control. All three are dedicated players and community contributors. Unfortunately AJ's second chance may need to wait for some circumstances to change but I am willing to wait if he is.

Certainly if the CCC becomes open to second helpings almost all of the previous invitees could well represent us again. They are still for the most part active and beneficent members of this community. Thanks guys for sticking with it even after the party.

The Pro Ringer...
A number of people have recommended Reid Duke, Brian Kibler and Pat Chapin (congrats Pat on the HoF induction!) to be the pro ringer this year but I am most comfortable with Brian being that person as he is constantly streaming his games online, giving people valuable advice free of charge, is volable and outgoing and has the kind of generous spirit we want representing us. I don't know these other two except by reputation. I watched Brian grow from a kid to an adult in the #MTGWacky channel on irc (efnet) long before I met him in person. His victories at Pro Tours and GPs always felt a bit like a win for me too.

A fourth year of victory.
Despite the fact that WOTC sagely recruited Gavin Verhey so that they have a snowball's chance of winning the Erik "Hamtastic" Friborg cup this year I expect whomever we send to Renton will crush the opposition with the combined mad skills of the best players our skill-intensive community has to  offer. I expect more cries of "Multiball!!" and reports of near fatal Duck riding expeditions. Late night commander sessions and strip momir games in backs of Seatles gaming parlors. OK that never happened but if it did I'd expect a full report.

Sneaky Peaking
The sneak peak for v4 opened last week so that the community could weigh in the various changes to the game client. Many well reasoned and articulated opinions were expressed, some rants occurred. A few people expressed disinterest or distaste or disgust and some even praised the workers on the client for a job well done. My own review was more mixed.

While I have participated in the beta test of v4 on and off I didn't really get involved in the (beta) forum discussions about it because my initial impressions were fairly negative and I was fairly severely disappointed and frustrated by what I tried to do in the client. I didn't want to just come in and rant and be dismissed (rightfully) as an angry player without any perspective. So I sent my comments in by survey and email, bided my time and waited for stuff to change.

And some things did. I wont get into the long list of things I want to see happen for v4 but I will point you to the threads where this discussion is still taking place. (just click on anything starting with [Sneak Peaks] to read up on what people experienced. If you want to have stuff happen or not happen in the new client make your voice heard. Even if you didn't take the opportunity to try the v4 client for yourself you can certainly tell us what youd love to see.

Multi! Multi! What? What?
In preparation for the sneak peak WoTC removed access to the multiplayer room on v3 and that caused quite a ruckus. Many people were seen to be protesting in chats and on the forums and I expect many sent in letters of protest via the email system. Unfortunately this did not change the situation for the multiplayer community. So now we have all the various games allowed on the client available in each of the remaining rooms with the majority landing up in "Just For Fun" which has caused some problems with trying to find games since most people don't seem to grasp that you can sort the games listings by more than one filter. Click on one category and then another and the client remembers to secondary sort by the first one clicked on. Which means you can find Standard 2HG games for instance far easier than you would think from just looking at the display.

I think what really upset the multiplayer crowd more than the inconvenience of mingling games with the 1v1 crowd, is that they no longer have their own chat. They have to find games by advertising amidst the morass that JuFF chat can become during busy hours. There are the usual trolls, wits, clowns, friendly types, new players, people (inappropriately) advertising for trades, and more and a person trying to get that 4th player for multiplayer commander may find themselves unable to attract any attention. This really does need to be fixed in some manner. I am not sure how to fix it other than to undo the change and find another way to streamline the game experience.

One suggestion that was put forth from the Sneak Peak probably would help this a lot. Heath suggested chat revert to an IRC like system. With multiple subtabs, each representing a channel, players could segregate their interests while still moving forward with WoTC's new paradigm of a unified play area. Not only that but chat would be a lot easier to manage in general. I hope that those involved in the redesign seriously consider this option and if they don't implement it exactly at least find a way to make it optional.

Au Revior for now

Well another day has almost dawned and I don't think this will actually get up on the site, before my birthday is done but I am officially older if not wiser. I hope to be more active as a contributor here so look for more frequent articles from me than in the past. In that vein I would love to hear suggestions for what you want to see from me. If you have enjoyed the Legendary Personalities series, please feel free to recommend more subjects for me to interview. I make no promises, except that I will consider each suggestion.

Until Next Time,
Magically yours,
Paul Emerson Leicht aka Winter.Wolf on MTGO.


A couple of list errors by Paul Leicht at Mon, 07/30/2012 - 19:08
Paul Leicht's picture

A couple of list errors Affinity Shops should have 4 signal pests not 3 listed, and Aristocratic Acts of Artistry should have 6 spells listed, and 30 creatures listed.

Many happy returns. Good by AJ_Impy at Tue, 07/31/2012 - 02:15
AJ_Impy's picture

Many happy returns. Good article, plentiful and varied content.

I always love the opening by Leviathan at Tue, 07/31/2012 - 02:26
Leviathan's picture

I always love the opening drawing. Happy (belated?) birthday man! And good job on the podcast!

Nice article. Happy Birthday by joekewwl at Tue, 07/31/2012 - 09:54
joekewwl's picture

Nice article. Happy Birthday

Thanks guys :D Your comments by Paul Leicht at Tue, 07/31/2012 - 15:22
Paul Leicht's picture

Thanks guys :D Your comments are appreciated! :)

Got to see the Riders theme by RexDart at Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:48
RexDart's picture

Got to see the Riders theme deck in action when we teamed up in some impromptu 2hg tribal wars yesterday. The samurai guy with Basilisk Collar is sick, although less impressive against somebody who just has mutavaults for blockers most of the game.

If I'd remembered your post about your own kaleidoscope deck, I'd have suggested we duel those! We'll have to team 'em up in some 2hg some time.

Anytime you're on feel free by Paul Leicht at Wed, 08/01/2012 - 23:39
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Anytime you're on feel free to hit me up for 2hg though be warned I am not always actually available. :D 2hg tribal is way more fun for me than 1v1.

Oh and regarding those mutavaults I might make a slightly less friendly version with 2 life from the loams and 3 wastelands.