Why is it so hard to find a cab driver with two brain cells to rub together?
The cab smells like feet. Like rancid cheese. Like rancid feet toe cheese.
He drives like one of our best friends Kinga who has no idea how to coast. Not only is he constantly accelerating then slamming on the brakes but the car has a mechanical problem as well so that even if he is not jerking us back and forth the car is sputtering like it has water in the gas.
Our heads lurch back and forth and Wendy says “Five more minutes of this and I’m going to hurl.”
We are on the cab ride home from the airport. We spent the weekend in San Sebastian in Basque county in the North of Spain. After the sightseeing the threat of a possible fight in a bar with a bunch of rugby hooligans getting liquored up before the big game that day and the pintxo tasting we would find a caf and watch the ocean and people streaming by. And every time we sat down Wendy would pull out some Magic decks and ask if I wanted to play. It’s nice to have a fianc that is getting seriously addicted to Magic right as I am starting to play again. (The trip is detailed at my website for those who are interested.)
Moving back into actual current sets and columns last week’s response was amazing. Thank you all. It’s becoming clear to me that a lot of the decks I am building are evolving into what other people have already discovered and what I think is an original creation has actually been played with a small measure of success. At this point as I rotate cards in and out looking for the perfect mix I start to look at decks that have actually succeeded and have already discovered the perfect mix. Shouldn’t I just play one of those?
The forums are filled with great suggestions.
I picked up four Oran-Reif Vastwood and the Eldrazi Monuments like people suggested and I learned a lot.
1. I need more mana for more creatures. I played the Monument with three creatures on the board one was immediately Bolted in response and next turn I had to sacrifice one leaving me with an Elf that I needed for mana. I didn’t draw an Ant Queen or a Wolfbriar so the Monument died and soon after and so did I.
2. The tricks with the Vastwoods are many.
3. Learning exactly when to play the Eldrazi Monument is key.
I started searching for a way to generate more mana and found Elvish Shaman on a tradebot and thought “How did I miss this guy?” He reminds me of an Elvish Champion combined with Gaea’s Cradle- my favorite land ever. Half an hour later someone suggested him to me on the forums so I guess it was fate that I would have found him that day anyway.
Now that I had him I took another look at Joraga Warcaller since I had more elves.
Hey did you know that Joraga Warcaller + Vastwood = combo? Yeah the +1 +1 counters from the Vastwood boost every elf’s power. You know what else is a combo? Vastwood + Garruk allowing each Vastwood to put two counters apiece on each creature that entered the battlefield that turn. This allows for some very cool stuff to happen. Like 4/4 Wolf tokens and 6/6 Wolfbriar Elementals.
I had a whole game detailed out here but looking it over I see the important part is simply “I cast Overrun and win.”
Then I get crushed a whole bunch and realize that I have reduced my deck to a bunch of Elves looking to draw an Elvish Champion or three and hopefully swing with them before Judgment Day. Excellent. I’ve been playing this game for ten years and I’m back to making a deck I made in the first year of playing. Good job J. I have no utility just weenies token generators and Overrun. I’m losing in the early game because I’ve lost the Baloths and Great Sable Stags and I’m losing at all stages of the game to Pyroclasm Maelstrom Pulse and anyone running Day of Judgment. And as was mentioned in Sam Black’s article last week “U/W Control is in a very interesting place right now. It's doing its best to steal Jund's title as the single deck to beat as I'm sure you're aware having dominated the end of the Pre-Rise of Eldrazi season in the online PTQs. Rise gives the deck far too many new tools.”
Which isn’t good news for me.
I spend a couple hours looking over the deck adding back in Baloths reading in the forums about my last article absorbing more advice and pick up some Vines of the Vastwood. (While also suggested to me I had already picked up some Bestial Menace and saw the potential with Oran-Reif Vastwood but thank you for pointing it out to me anyway.)
I miss my Mold and Slime and their utility.
Essentially I flounder for a long time. Then I give up for the day.
I roll out of bed this morning a half an hour earlier than usual and Wendy asks me “Getting up?”
“Yeah… I have decks spinning around in my head and I need to get the rest of my article written.”
The plan is to explore what’s available to me in White Black and Red since I clearly need another color. I’ll just keep the fatties and add in some elimination or maybe White will have some better creature-utility for me. Maybe Red has some good fat of its own and a reset button and I can make up a new version of Jamiehaups. I know Black has some sick discard right now let’s explore that.
I log in this Thursday morning and I see that ROE is released online tomorrow!
Knowing what I know now is there anything there that will help me? From what I’m seeing in tournament reports about the past week with ROE and seeing very little Green impact I am guessing no but decide to pore over the spoiler again and I find lots of things that will require experimentation.
I go back to working on what is available in Green now wondering if there is something I’m missing.
Yeah I’m missing the fact that every time I cast Overrun I win.
Using too many weenie elves I leave myself open to stalling because they’re all destroyed and I have three land on the board. What has worked best for me so far is things like Rampant Growth and Harrow. That said I make up a deck with the only elves being Arbor and Llanowar. Then I add in a few each of Rampant Growth Harrow and Khalni Expedition. I replace some Forests with Terramorphic Expanse because it combos well with Expedition and with the other spells thins all the land out of the deck in the late game. I finished off my acceleration with three Wildspeaker.
Conclusion – I’m onto something but Ant Queen and Wildspeaker aren’t making the cut. Whenever I cast Garruk I get to untap two lands or make an elephant token and then he dies. Always. Like the Eldrazi Monument perhaps I’m just playing him wrong and need to wait for a better time to cast him. The Ant Queen is only useful if she lives a turn and then you get to make a bunch of tokens but that takes all your mana and this deck prefers to cast something every turn like Overrun or Howl. Howl of the Night Pack is better than I would have thought and with Wolfbriar it makes a lot of wolves. You all know what this deck needs right?
I bite the bullet and spend the fifty-two bucks to buy four Master of the Wild Hunt and come up with this which so far is doing amazingly well but probably looks a lot like decks that have come before it.
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Master of the Wild Hunt
- 4 Mold Shambler
- 4 Wolfbriar Elemental
With the rise of the Planeswalkers coming (according to Eldrazi legal tournament reports) and looking like the dominant deck I’m going to need a way to destroy those guys and I have missed my Molds and Slimes. The randomness in the mix of land-fetching in the deck is not based on strategy yet but more on seeing what works best and then settling on the proper amount.
Undefeated so far in three whole games!
Update! Four games now having yet to even see my new Masters of the Wild Hunt or a single Vastwood. I beat Vampires this time on turn 6 having cast two Howl of the Night Pack.
Let’s talk vampires for a second.
Sengir Vampire - Used to be good.
Vampires the deck - Good.
Bloody Vampires the deck - Really cool.
Buffy - Great. (The first four seasons then it went to crap. I’d say it went to Hell but that would be too literal.)
Angel - Great (Opposite of Buffy the first two seasons sucked and it finished better every season.)
Edward Cullen - Suck. (Do you know the actor who plays Edward actually said in an interview “I think I’m allergic to vaginas.” Great job kid that’s what all your swooning teenage fans want to hear.) Jody from “Blood Sucking Fiends” by Chris Moore - Awesome. I was turned onto Chris Moore books with “Lamb” a book that had me laugh out loud more times than any book I have ever read. This trilogy is about Jody an average girl who gets turned into a vampire. Unlike the Twilight series this takes a much more serious yet oddly enough hilarious look at vampires. They don’t glitter in the sun… they burn to ash. They don’t walk around during the day when the sun comes up… they pass out unconscious until the sun comes up. Nothing can wake them up. They’re still incredibly strong and fast and with heightened senses but they’re also able to turn to mist like the legends. It’s an incredibly funny better more realistic look at what would happen if you suddenly turned into a Vampire and didn’t have a user’s manual. Highly recommended.
As I type this I am thinking “None of this is coming out right. Why is writing so hard today?”
Wendy comes in from the other room also having a rough work day and says “How about we quit early open a bottle of wine and play some Magic?
“Sweet Jesus yes.”
She laughs. “Not having a productive day either?”
“Other than going shopping this morning no.”
Never having lived in a city before I have always had a car. Not here. Our supermarket is a kilometer away and I go with a big shopping bag on wheels. Today I collected an 8 pack of Coke Free 8 pack of Sugar Free lemon soda a twelve pack of beer 7 bottles of wine twelve eggs two packs of tomatoes two gallons of milk Bread sandwich meat horseradish and chicken nuggets. Then I dragged it the kilometer home and carried the whole thing up five flights of steps. Not bad for an old fart about to turn 45. Good thing I’ve been working out since November and can now bench press a Buick.
If my column is late one week you’ll know it’s because I’ve had a heart attack.
We crack open some wine and play inside because Madrid is unseasonably cold right now. Wendy has moved to Red. She got frustrated with the Green deck and I started playing it only to discover that somehow four lands were missing from the deck so she was constantly land screwed. Once I added four land I started having to hold cards to let her win and not just get smashed every single game. If you want someone just learning to enjoy Magic you have to keep it challenging but not crush them every single game. By now though she is liking the Red deck better. Rather than de-power the Green deck I just made the Red deck better with more Shock Lightning Bolt Incinerate Fireball and Disintegrate. I switched out some Hurloon Minotaurs for Juggernauts and sadly found out that I have brought no Dragons with me to Madrid. (I shipped one big box of cards to Madrid when I first moved here.)
She crushes me so many times with me playing the Green deck I decide she needs a new challenge and brings out a Black deck.
I use a Chinese Terror on her Thundering Giant and she says “What’s that do? I’ve never seen that before.”
“Well remember how I told you Black is all about killing creatures and discard? It says your giant dies and you have to choose and discard an article of clothing.”
“I’ll choose my panties.”
Best… fiance… ever.
It’s Friday now and I have to wrap this up for Craig. I was hoping to log on and buy some of the Eldrazi cards and experiment with them see what effect they were having but I have forgotten that bots don’t usually sell new cards until their price online has been set and I see no one in the tournament practice room using any Rise of the Eldrazi cards either. So I guess that will be next week.
I am starting to see what everyone is talking about concerning the environment being stale. I am still really enjoying this stale environment because it involves the attack phase but I am noticing that only a small handful of cards are being used and an even smaller handful of decks exist to play against. Burn with Unearth Vampires with everyone using the exact same build Exalted and Empty the Vaults. Even the decks I’m creating… I see people in the forums showing me decklists almost identical to mine decks from six months ago. Again it’s not that I mind because it is not an environment with a lot of combo or counterspells. Bring on the Eldrazi!
Jamie C. Wakefield