Ghoulcaller Gisa. Stitcher Geralf. Legends in their own right, now together—seemingly forever. Star City Games® is committed to bringing you the best of legendary creature coverage, so when an opportunity came up to interview these Wizards of reanimation, we of course took it.
Ace reporter Zanzibar Jones was once again our point man for the interview. Here are his notes:
For legendary figures, Gisa and Geralf are down. Not Neil Patrick Harris down, but funky enough. They keep a small apartment in Paris' Sixth Arrondissement, walking distance from the Louvre (and coincidentally just a block away from the staff hotel for the 2006 Magic World Championships). I didn't mind taking the flight. It turns out that there are clubs in Paris that are dedicated to playing all of those 70's classics. I don't mean that Wild Cherry nonsense, but solid stuff from The Isley Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, Jimmy Castor, and P-Funk. Who knew a brother could get his groove on in France? It was righteous. Gisa and Geralf's musical tastes run a different direction. Type O Negative was blasting when I showed up. I think I heard some Danzig later. For siblings who've just reunited after a nasty spat, they seem pretty settled in already.
Zanzibar Jones: So really, the first question is why Paris?
Gisa: Because we can smoke. I don't even smoke that much, maybe two packs a week, but when I want a cigarette, I want a cigarette. I can walk to the market in the morning and smoke one. It relaxes me.
Geralf: There's no “we” here. I gave it up when I realized how disgusting it is. I understand why people don't like being around it. At least she's good enough about it to not smoke in the apartment. And how you can smoke and drink wine at the same time is beyond me. I get smoking and whisky, but wine? You can't taste it with all that ash in your mouth.
Gisa: It's my mouth, you know.
Geralf: You're telling me.
Gisa: Plus there's the coffee.
Geralf: Yeah, when you think about France, you think about the cafes, but not necessarily the coffee. The good news for us is that in our neighborhood there are a bunch of Italians making the coffee. French pastry, Italian coffee. It's our little slice of Nyx.
ZJ: There has to be more to it than just cigarettes and espresso.
Geralf: Well, obviously, we both like old stuff. The Louvre is still unearthing things from countless years ago. They're actually doing this dig…
Gisa (interrupting): Um, ixnay on the igday.
Geralf: Oh, yeah. Authorities sometimes get oversensitive about people being too inquisitive. We had to hightail it out of Pre Lachaise one night, shovels in hand. Anyway, lots of museums and culture here. And like you noticed, great clubs. Americans think it's all about the food and wine, but Paris is way more than that.
ZJ: Yeah, the clubs were solid. How did the two of you get back together? Seems like you were doing okay on your own.
Gisa: I think we met again at Sean McKeown's Commander 2014 release party.
Geralf: Yeah, but that was just for the photo spray. You were there with somebody.
Gisa: Can we not talk about that?
Geralf: What? I like Steve Buscemi. I didn't think he could carry Boardwalk Empire as the lead, but he sure did. Loved that show. Bobby Cannavale was insane in that show. And just because you had to help Steve fish his keys out of the spinach dip doesn't mean he's a bad guy.
Gisa: Yeah, but he spent the whole night hitting on Titania, Protector of Argoth. Plus, there's the other stuff. I might spend my time digging up bodies, but that dude is weird.
ZJ: So the two of you reuniting…
Gisa: Right, so Sean's C14 party, Vin Diesel was there running a Dungeons & Dragons game—old school, like AD&D 2nd Edition or something. He has this all-female party, with Sean's mother (Azami, Lady of Scrolls, who has a mouth—like, when she talks, sailors blush), Margo Martindale, Kathy Griffin, Erin Moran, and famed child actor Maureen Flannigan. Norin the Wary is hanging around, looking like he wants to play, too, but every time someone glances in his direction, he hides under the coffee table. I think Vin is running them through some classic dungeon, like Tomb of Horrors or White Plume Mountain. Erin and Kathy get into an argument over a bumped saving throw die, and they really start laying into each other about career choices. It devolves into someone stealing voiceover work from someone else on a show called Stripperella. I didn't want any part of it and I was jonesing for a smoke anyway, so I headed out to the balcony. Geralf was out there talking to Tibalt, fiend about town, who Sean says never shows up enough.
Geralf: Tibalt says he's been listening to Malcolm Gladwell's new podcast, and it's really thought-provoking stuff. We get into a discussion about whether or not we actually live in a cause-and-effect universe, then decide that to us it effectively doesn't matter because we'll never understand universal truths while in corporeal form. We decide to head back in and raid Sean's single malt cabinet. We meet Gisa coming out while we're going in. She says she's down for some Lagavulin, so she comes along. We end up talking about global food production and how there's enough to feed everyone three times over or something, but Monsanto doesn't want that to happen. Margo comes in and says she got killed in the game, but she's on an adrenaline rush. She gives Tibalt the “if you know what I mean” look; he picks up the signal and the two of them split.
Gisa: We talked about lots of stuff. The environment, politics, movies, how Eldrazi were going to ruin Modern, grave-digging—you know, the things people talk about. But we didn't really think about joining forces until weeks later.
Geralf: I think it was (Eldritch Moon developer) Jackie Lee's idea for us to work together. We were visiting the WotC offices…
Gisa (interrupting): Wait, why is it always a woman whose idea is it to put people together? It's the 21st century, for crying out loud. We have freaking careers. We don't have time to be matchmakers. That's an offensive stereotype.
Geralf: Hey, I didn't say “it was Jackie's idea because women do that…"
Gisa: It was in your tone.
Geralf: What tone? What does that even mean?
Gisa: I'm just saying, sometimes you go right for the stereotypes.
Geralf: How can you say that? I make blue Zombies. Blue!
Gisa: Okay, fair. And I'm pretty sure it was Ken Nagle's idea, but whatever.
ZJ: What was the impetus for you to work together? Was it something more than a common love for the shambling dead?
Gisa: It's all about synergy—his ability to self-mill, and mine to make something useful out of it. We didn't really set out to be a team, but at some point we recognized how good we could be together.
Geralf: We bonded over Cryptbreaker. We got to see an early draft of the set, and we knew we were onto something. Next thing you know, I was on the phone with Lord of Tresserhorn. I don't think he was completely happy with me breaking away to do my own project, but when I told him it was with Gisa, he gave in.
Gisa: I didn't really want to leave Kresh the Bloodbraided because I loved helping him get into the red zone, but he was great. He even threw a party for me. You've never seen wild until Stalking Vengeance and Lord of Extinction start doing a weird Macarena-Gangnam Style hybrid. For a big guy, Lord of Extinction can move, but he cannot handle his liquor. The less said, the better.
ZJ: You mentioned Cryptbreaker as an early catalyst for your joint venture. Anyone else?
Gisa: Who doesn't want to work with Liliana, Heretical Healer? Come on.
ZJ: Yeah, those brothers are OG.
Gisa: We were sitting in one of those cafes—have you ever had a croque monsieur? It's basically just grilled ham and cheese, but damned if it isn't tasty. Then they do a version with a fried egg on it.
ZJ: I'm not down with eggs on top of food. It's what the celebrity chefs do these days, but I want my eggs scrambled with some bacon, not on top of a rice bowl. But you were saying…
Geralf: Yeah, this is one we disagree on. I think Vengeful Pharaoh is going to be a bomb on our team. He's going to make a lot of trips between the graveyard and top of the library.
Gisa: I think we still have a bunch of draft lists laying around. He wasn't on any of them.
(Rummaging through some papers, she uncovers a copy of Bruce Campbell's autobiography. There's a long, conspiratorial look between the two of them, and then she hides away the book.)
Geralf: Oh, yeah, that was a great place to start. Maybe all those juicy bits in other graveyards is what got me onto the Havengul Lich plan. Then Relentless Dead. We're going to have a great time with this 99.
Gisa: We are. Lord of Tresserhorn was cool enough to ship some friends over, which was really nice of him.
Gisa: Mmm…Corpse Harvester. If he hadn't already been in a long-term relationship…
Geralf: Yeah, yeah, we get it. He's on your list along with half the cast of Penny Dreadful.
Gisa: You're not the only grave-digger in the world, you know. And don't give me any crap about that show. I saw you eyeing up Billie Piper.
Geralf: Yeah, but not before, only after.
Gisa: I'm not judging you.
Geralf: I was pretty sad they decided to cancel the show.
Geralf: Whoa. I'm not saying that Kinnear wasn't great, but we're talking about one of the masterful actors of a generation here. Better than De Niro? Give me a break.
ZJ: Wow. Summary Dismissal. Speaking of which, I don't see that on your list.
Gisa: Don't get me started.
Geralf: I dunno. Rules are rules, and societies break down without rules.
Gisa: It's a stupid rule.
(Writer's note: Gisa is talking about Sheldon's rule of putting only a single copy of cards from new sets into his decks.)
Geralf: Maybe, but part of all this is seeing what you can do with restrictions. Restrictions breed creativity. Otherwise, you're just running the same 99 all the time.
Gisa: Okay, even if I agree with you, the Rotisserie Draft deck? He's going to be done with that in a few months, moving onto a new draft, and that card will just be sitting there in a pile, not getting played.
Geralf: I'm not even certain it's all that great. It's situational—but who plays storm anymore? And you have to be careful that you're not exiling and countering your own spells and abilities.
Gisa: The exile part is the most important. You should like that. I'll never understand why you want to get rid of things instead of having them around to use again.
Geralf: Sacrifices must be made.
Gisa: I'm all for sacrifices. You just get wasteful sometimes…but we're drifting off topic. Next question.
ZJ: How long do the two of you intend to stay in Paris?
(They look at each other and shrug.)
Geralf: Until we've dug up whatever we can. It's great here and all, but there are so many other places to explore. Maybe a real change of tune, like the adobe villages of the American Southwest or something.
Gisa: I've never seen the Grand Canyon. We could do that thing where you ride the donkey down to the bottom of the canyon.
Geralf: Yeah, who knows what we'll find buried down there. Speaking of which, it's getting toward midnight. We should wrap up; everyone from the Louvre should be gone by now.
Gisa (smiling): Yeah. Hey, what do you want to do with these old draft lists?
Geralf: I dunno. Just burn them in the fireplace.
Gisa: See? There you go again. We can do something with them.
Geralf: What's the use? Just get rid of them.
Gisa: I'm putting them in the recycle bin.
Geralf: Suit yourself.
Last Week's Comments
“I'd still be willing to give Stitcher Geralf a shot because you don't have to exile your creatures if you don't want to since he says "up to two". It would be nice to have Gisa, Geralf, and Gisa and Geralf in play at the same time, but I also have a weird need to do things like that. I had a 'Timecop' deck where I played multiple versions of legendaries just to give them banding...Super Akroma is scary.”
I liked Vinn's comment simply because it made me think of Super Akroma. I get that I don't have to exile any creatures if I don't want to, but then I don't get any Zombies. Thematically, however, Vinn's right. As demonstrated above, Stitcher Geralf and Ghoulcaller Gisa simply belong together. Who am I to stand in the way of sibling love? I've swapped Stitcher Geralf with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.
Brian L. Nuri asks,
“What would you think of using the Clever Impersonator in the U/B deck to double crucial permanents?”
I think it's a grand idea. A second Havengul Lich would be saucy, as would Oversold Cemetery—although then I'd need five creatures in the graveyard, due to rule 603.4. With only four creatures in the graveyard, both Oversold Cemeteries would trigger, but when the second one tried to resolve, there would be only three creatures in the graveyard because I've already put one back into my hand. All that said, I'm a little Cloned out at the moment. My Commander Rotisserie Draft deck was Clone-based, and there's a significant Clone component to a number of my decks, most especially Dreaming of Intet. Clones are powerful and flexible, but I want to get away from them for a while.
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Aura Thief
- 1 Boros Reckoner
- 1 Flameblade Angel
- 1 Illusory Ambusher
- 1 Kheru Spellsnatcher
- 1 Mischievous Quanar
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Viashino Heretic
- 1 Willbender
- 1 Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
- 1 Azorius Signet
- 1 Boros Signet
- 1 Coalition Relic
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Gilded Lotus
- 1 Hedron Archive
- 1 Jeskai Banner
- 1 Mimic Vat
- 1 Mind Stone
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Sunforger
- 1 Thought Vessel
- 1 Aether Flash
- 1 Blind Obedience
- 1 Copy Enchantment
- 1 Karmic Justice
- 1 Land Tax
- 1 Lightmine Field
- 1 Powerstone Minefield
- 1 Repercussion
- 1 Rhystic Study
- 1 Trove of Temptation
- 1 Blue Sun's Zenith
- 1 Boros Fury-Shield
- 1 Cerebral Vortex
- 1 Comeuppance
- 1 Commit
- 1 Dawn Charm
- 1 Dazzling Reflection
- 1 Deflecting Palm
- 1 Desertion
- 1 Gather Specimens
- 1 Hibernation
- 1 Honorable Passage
- 1 Mirror Strike
- 1 Parallectric Feedback
- 1 Radiate
- 1 Reflect Damage
- 1 Refuse
- 1 Reins of Power
- 1 Reiterate
- 1 Reverse Damage
- 1 Settle the Wreckage
- 1 Turn the Tables
- 1 Acidic Soil
- 1 Blasphemous Act
- 1 Chain Reaction
- 1 Day's Undoing
- 1 Final Judgment
- 1 Knowledge Exploitation
Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:
Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club
Shards and Wedges
Adun's Toolbox; Animar's Swarm; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke's Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith's Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn
If you'd like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that's been alive since 1987 and is just now finishing a summer mini-series called Who Mourns for Adonis? which will set up the saga (called The Lost Cities of Nevinor), ask for an invitation to the Facebook group "Sheldon Menery's Monday Night Gamers."