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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Oct 17 2011 2:22am
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Erik Lauer, Tom LaPille, and Mark Rosewater graciously have come together to give us the downlow on the first Innistrad Dark Ascension preview card.  In case you haven't heard of these three gentlemen: Erik Lauer is wildly considered one of the two or three greatest deckbuilders ever by Mike Flore and is considered to be the best deck-builder of all-time by almost everyone else.  Tom LaPille T8'd a couple of GPs and got hired by Wizards of the Coast for writing well above the level of his play.  He didn't punish them, producing (along with EL) the "good" limited MED sets.  Mark Rosewater wrote for Roseanne back when that was a good thing and won't let anyone forget it.  Seriously, you doubt him?  He'll have Roseanne call you right now jerk.

So guys, give us some idea of what's going on in Dark Ascension.

TL: Well, we wanted to continue pushing horror, but we found that we had to move away from the Gothic approach we took to Innistrad: we kind of blew our wad and used almost every classic horror reference at once!  We will have more of the much-loved flip cards that have provided 0 problems or awkward situations and we will continue to crank out Zombies and Vampires of course. 

MR: We also wanted to push the experience of horror.  If you've ever played against an unstable combo deck, you know the feeling that I'm talking about.  You could lose at almost any moment, but you might win too!

EL: I thought that was stupid but then Mark had Roseanne call me and tell me he wrote on the show.  I didn't know what to say, so I let it go.

TL: Well, you were kind of a jerk about it.

So how are you pushing horror as an experience?

MR: Well, limited is one area we're really focusing on.  We liked how well Balefire Dragon played out in limited while still blowing in constructed that we have a similarly-impactful card that will be a cycle.  It's not quite a full color cycle.  No one wants a Jugan variant again even in limited!

EL: I was against this for the most part.

I see.  So how about that preview card?

TL: Well, we wanted a gamechanger.  I was pushing for some beefed up Blue cards.  Lately Blue has been a little weaker than we I like.  Sure, Caw-Blade, Splinter-Twin, and UB control were all huge forces in the last standard meta-game, but we'd like Blue to get a little purer.  Blue didn't even have all of the banned cards from standard!  What a joke.  I'm getting at decks like Wafo-Tapa's Ub Dralnu deck for example.  This was a massively enjoyable deck to play!  Everyone loved a heavy-Dralnu meta!  I'd like to get Blue back to that point where it's not really relying heavily on any other color than Blue!

EL: I explained to Tom that this might not be the best direction to go with the set as people seem to respond positively when Blue isn't the single dominating force, but then when I saw the card I was like, "Oh yea!"  I was all Koolaid Manning it up.

TL: I was having a hard time justifying the card I wanted to print since this was a horror and Gothic set, but then when Mark mentioned his idea of making a horror experience, I knew this card was a perfect fit for that sub-theme.

EL: I'm not sure that this is a great idea, but then Aaron was all, "Oh YEA!" and I knew the discussion was over.  This was kind of like with Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull when I mentioned the interaction to him and he said, "Eh, it will play in control decks so it's okay."

So the card is?


This is crazy guys!  Do you foresee a return to Tog-Control ala the previous horror block, Odyssey?

TL: This is tricky.  See, I figured that I'd fixed Red good with Kor Firewalker and the flying Superman punches to the tenders that is Timely Reinforcements (which I talked about here).  But Red won the top two spots of a SCG tournament, so I may have to go back to the lab if this doesn't usher in a an era of dominant Ub shenanigans.

EL: I tried to tell Tom that printing blanket hosers is generally un-fun unless it's hosing a truly unfun type of deck.  For example, Chill is a brutal hoser that people generally don't enjoy playing against, while Chalice of the Void requires building around it to some extent and can be a skill-testing card.

Unfortunately, I think Tom just took that to mean that we will be reprinting Chill in the next core set.  I hate my life sometimes.

MR: Look, there were concerns about balance, but Tom and I were talking and I pointed out that a lot of cards that go in the Ub deck can hurt 'Tog.  Tiago eats cards from the graveyard as does playable flashback cards!  Liliana may cause some tension too!  You will want to decide if discarding to Tog is correct to pump him or if you should +1 Lil.  The horror of losing slowly and surely to your opponent's growing graveyard really gives a nice tension.

TL: Yea, there is certainly a challenging aspect to the card, and we fill it is much more fair this time since we haven't been printing two-mana counterspells or great ways to fill your graveyard.  All in all it's possible that we'll want a Circular Logic or Fact or Fiction-esque support card for ol' Mr. Teeth.

Could we go back to talking about limited briefly?  Could you expound upon the Balefire Dragon type cards that tend to "just win baby" limited games while being constructed unplayables and your logic for increasing the frequency of them in Dark Ascension?

EL: I'm not sure it's correct to dismiss BFD as constructed unplayable.  Dragonstorm can fetch it and Karthus as their two cards off a small storm count and still wrath your board while smashing your face.  Your point is valid though, and it boils down to this: we have to help Mark win the occasional money draft. 

TL: Mark is pretty brutal to end up with in team drafts.  He's known as the homewrecker.  It's not cuz he steals your wife, it's because he will lose the mortgage payment for you.  Not very cool.  So we're trying to mitigate the damage he does by allowing him to open a 3-0 occasionally.  And after you lose your house, then he'll hook up with your wife, but he's really good about waiting til she's probably going to leave you anyway.  To sum it up, we're coming up with ridiculous limited-only guys to make money-drafts less devastating at the office.  Plus, we get to push this is a horror experience too as your opponent keeps dropping lands on their way to 6-7-8 DEAD!

MR: Look, I wasn't blessed with amazing strategy skills but I was blessed with stunning wavy hair that the ladies love.  Use what ya got.

Well thank you all!  I appreciate your time and candor!

Standard has continued to progress.  Wolf Run Red quickly gave way to Wolf Run Green and drove up the price of Garruk, Primal Hunter, helped Primeval Titan retain value (instead of melting post-Valakut) and also gave many a Green mage a thrill as Brian Sondag smashed the Leakless (What the heck Medina?) Solar Flare ran by the tradester, the IPad swapper, the hated Jonathan Medina.   Check out this craziness!

I am not a huge fan of having less than 4 Primeval Titans, but other than that, this deck is a monster!  It seems likely to drive Flashfreeze showing up in maindecks and sideboards of Blue-White decks instead of Celestial Purge (which is what has been widely adopted right now).  The deck has an abundance of enters-and-leaves the battlefield effects which is right in my durdle-house.  The funniest sight on Sunday was Brian attacking Medina with a Solemn Simulacrum with not one but TWO Swords on it, ripping his hand and life totals apart.

Despite correcting all the idiots (a.e. me, LSV, Flores, and EVERY OTHER MAGIC PLAYER) who think that Solar Flare is Solar Flare, AJ Sacher was unable to ride his amazing wisdom and superior understanding of the deck to a T8 Slot.  Maybe he wasn't attending, bored by already winning the tournament in his mind and not wanting to go through the motions in Nashville.


Kibler's latest obsession/Brew
2 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Inferno Titan
4 Skinshifter
4 Viridian Emissary
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
13 cards

Other Spells
1 Sword of War and Peace
2 Daybreak Ranger
1 Snapcaster Mage
2 Brimstone Volley
3 Galvanic Blast
4 Mana Leak
1 Naturalize
2 Garruk Relentless
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
2 Arc Trail
2 Caravan Vigil
4 Hinterland Harbor
1 Sulfur Falls
13 cards
6 Forest
3 Island
3 Mountain
4 Copperline Gorge
4 Rootbound Crag
20 cards

Daybreak Ranger

Kibler probably wouldn't have had Daybreak Rangers in his deck if he hadn't gone all-in on them in his excitement with the card leading up to the tournament.  Cut the Daybreak Ranger for the other two Snapcaster Mage and I think you have the deck he would have liked to have played.  He gets to take advantage of 8 (although he only actually played 5 total) new enemy-colored duals along with Gopperline Gorge and Rootbound Crag.  Sweet deck, if not quite as inevitable as Wolf Run Green.  This deck seems like a nice mid-range/aggro-control deck, able to stick many cheap and solid threats while sitting back and waiting for the opponent to tap out, then slamming a Garruk or Titan down.  kinshifter even got play in this "thing".  

A quick buy/sell:

I'd pick up Solemn Simulacrum if you haven't already.  The supply will dry up somewhat with the introduction of Innistrad to MTGO and people quit drafting Core Set nearly as much.  Similarly, grab any Titans you'd EVER want to play, Jace, Memory Adept, Garruk, Primal Hunter IF you want to play Wolf Run Ramp/Green, Angelic Destiny if you're interested in WW/UW variants, and Splinter Twins when they bottom out after rotation.

I'd sell Birthing Pods pretty hard.  They aren't doing a thing right now. 

Innistrad is here guys.  We'll have some great draft and constructed experiences then.  Obviously the above preview was a parody, but I hope you enjoyed the preview!   Have a good one and thanks for reading!


I hope everyone's enjoying by walkerdog at Mon, 10/17/2011 - 11:56
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I hope everyone's enjoying the read!

I must admit, I don't really by KaraZorEl at Mon, 10/17/2011 - 13:13
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I must admit, I don't really like Tom that much after reading his comments on blue getting weaker. Blue only happens to be the strongest control/enabler color in any format, ever. And he says it's getting weaker? Is that why one-drop blue cards keep getting banned in a variety of formats? Seriously, Tom, blue doesn't ever need to be stronger than it already is. There's no way to stop it from winning all the tournaments other than banning Islands. I don't know of any player who enjoys facing down a control deck, either.

Please PLEASE read the rest by walkerdog at Mon, 10/17/2011 - 13:18
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Please PLEASE read the rest of the article. I am glad that you got involved in the read though.


Well played sir. by mattlewis at Mon, 10/17/2011 - 13:39
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Well played sir.

Thanks! I hope Erik, Mark by walkerdog at Mon, 10/17/2011 - 13:43
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Thanks! I hope Erik, Mark and Tom don't mind TOO much.

War of the Worlds was a by smack8001 at Mon, 10/17/2011 - 15:35
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War of the Worlds was a parody written as a news piece too. And people committed suicide when they heard it. I hope you're satisfied with all the psychatog related suicides that are about to follow, jerk.

The consequences! by walkerdog at Mon, 10/17/2011 - 15:40
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The consequences!

I was wanting to check the Tog prices on tcgplayer when I get home though to see if they spiked at all.

It will be true that a well by paragonremodeling at Tue, 12/06/2011 - 01:39
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It will be true that a well presented, and well kept basement completes the perfect home package for a lot of home buyers. Deck Builders Northern Virginia