Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Theft in the Magic Community

This blog is not my own, though I chose to share it, as I feel these words need to be read by every able bodied magic player who has ever been taken advantage of, or may be in the future.

Thank you,

To thieves:

My name is Justin Parnell. I don’t think we’ve met. Well, actually, we probably have. That’s too bad I didn’t know who you were at the time. If I did, I doubt I would be writing you this letter.

You took my blue and grey Vans backpack from me on Sunday, February 26th around 6:45 at Grand Prix Baltimore. You were able to grab it in the moments I had my eyes off of it, while I was just feet away around a group of people I know and trust. You must be good at what you do, because that was the only time it foolishly left my touch or sight all weekend. Just in case you’ve forgotten, let’s go over everything you’ve taken from me.

Well, you certainly got my bag, which I’ve loved for many years because it was secure and sturdy enough to hold my most prized possession. It has a tear in the right shoulder at the strap from lovingly caring me on my journeys around the country to play the game I love. You probably dumped my bag in a trashcan somewhere.

You got several of the notes from a project I was working on with my best friend, which we’ve put hundreds and hundreds of hours into. Those notes meant everything to me and my friend, and nothing to everyone else in the world.  You probably scanned over them before realizing that and discarded them too.

You got my extra sleeves and favorite dice, including some of each that I was holding for a friend. The dice are an assorted variety, collected from trading with generous people to finally get all of the shapes and sizes I needed. There’s only about one of each kind, so those probably got tossed in the trash with my bag.

You got 95% of my Legacy and Modern staples. Those mean something to you for sure. Maybe you can sell them like I was going to. I was going to use the large portion of the money from those cards to put towards a new car for my girlfriend. We really can’t afford it, but we can afford even less for her current car to break down. I’m sure she’ll understand why we’ll have to wait several months longer and work a little bit harder at our average paying jobs. I guess we can just cross our fingers.

You’re probably licking your chops now, because you know what’s coming next. It’s likely why you grabbed my bag in the first place.

You took my cube from me. My entirely foiled cube, you know, aside from stuff like Mana Drain, Library of Alexandria, or dual lands. The single most valuable thing I own. It’s taken me over four years to get it completely foiled, but of course I couldn’t do it alone. I’ve had tons of people donate cards, as well as their time to locate hard to find items for me. Even dealers have gone out of their way to make sure I got the best deals possible, because they know how much this cube means to me and how much a player’s happiness in Magic means to them. This cube was more than a collection of cards. It was an extension of me, and representation of what I stand for in the Magic community. I had thousands of hours sharing that cube with hundreds of people. I’ve touched the community and helped countless others discover what they loved about the game. All the way from a kid who starting playing Magic because cubing looked so much fun o our current National Champion.

You most likely spent a few minutes figuring out how to sell it the quickest way.

Really, you’ve take this cube from the community. I can no longer share what I love most about this game with anyone. I’ll have to cancel my weekly cube event at my local store. A place where the love for cube drafting has become so strong I have had to tell people there isn’t enough room on multiple occasions. I won’t be able to share my joy on the Open Series or at any Grand Prixes, bringing people together to do what we all love. You’ve stolen a peg in both the cube and Magic community.

What’s taken me so long to craft and perfect through time, money, and dedication was destroyed in seconds. I’ve had an average job with average pay since I was sixteen, and Magic is where I’ve choose to put the little excess funds I’ve had.

You even have my favorite lands that are each worth no more than any foil basic lands. I’ve been collecting them since the release of Invasion.

My worst nightmare in the hobby that I deeply love has become a reality.

You won’t find anything else in that bag, but you’ve taken incredibly so much more that you can’t possibly see.

You stole a moment away from one of my best friends, who had just secured a Pro Tour invite by Top 4ing the Grand Prix. In what would have been the best moment in his career and an awesome celebration you managed to turn into hours of panic and despair for our close group of friends. We’ll just have to wait until he does it again to celebrate.

While my friends were helping me in my search, you broke into their car and stole their bags, containing a computer used to run a business and the portion of a collection, minus the cards that he was loaning me for use in my cube. You know, which you have as well.

You’ve taken the thing that allowed me to meet my best friends, travel to fantastic places, create amazing memories, and grow as a person.

You stole Magic from me. If fourteen years ago, when I first opened that pack of Urza’s Legacy, someone had told me that eventually everything that I held dear would be stripped away by some immoral slime who never made anything of himself, I would have never gone on this incredible journey.

I am not alone. At GP Baltimore more than 25 backpacks were taken by you. Some of you were caught, most of you were not. These people you stole from had, in large part, come to this Grand Prix to have a wonderful time with the people they enjoy and playing the game they love. How many people have you hurt? How many days, weeks, months, years have you ruined? Every night since has been sleepless for me, and I can only imagine what you’ve done to thousands of others. How many have quit this game, with tears, anger, and frustration, to fuel your greed?

This problem you cause has become absolutely ridiculous. I speak for the community when I say that this is the tipping point, where we say no more. We will watch out for each other’s bags, boxes and decks. Not just watch for you walking off with them, but taking the time to know what our friends are carrying. We will be sure to never let our bags leave our grasps, even for sixty seconds. That was all it took for you to take a huge part of my life.

We’ll know it is not enough to simply acknowledge that theft exists. We have to actively seek you out, and let everyone know who you are. You and I both know that the tournament organizers are not doing enough to curb your appetite for crime, and I hope that changes. We do not deserve to be fearful of our property vanishing.

Luckily, the community has been more amazing than you could ever imagine. We are coming together to stop this from happening to anyone else. This is the breaking point. We have had enough of you. There is no place for you in our community. Every player, vendor, tournament organizer, and Wizards employee will come together to stop you.

So what do I do now that you’ve taken everything from me? I can’t build decks, trade, sell my cards, or cube. It looks like I’ll have to use my time doing something else.

I will dedicate my new found time to finding you.

Once you are found, I am going to put every necessary resource into prosecuting you to the fullest extent of the law. I am going to take from you everything you have taken from me. As much as I can from all of you will all be given back to the community, to help them move forward as they have helped me to do.

I want justice, and I will not stop until I get it. I hope you understand exactly what you’re up against. You are a few fighting against thousands. You will not win. You will not deter us. This is only the beginning.

The Baltimore PD doesn’t take grand larceny lightly. Neither will any other city you are in.

The community is fighting back.

Justin Parnell

Please reshare this message.

Please contact me at or through Facebook or Twitter (@JParnell1) directly with any information on my case, or any other case you would like me to share. Getting every bit of information shared with our amazing community, the city’s convention center staff and the local police for ANY case involving belongings stolen at events helps prevents future theft and will help lead to these criminals. Any piece of concrete evidence helps in these situations. Thanks for listening and sharing, you guys are all truly amazing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Welcome Back : New Frontiers

       Welcome back indeed. It's been nearly 6 months since my last adventure into the realm of Magic: the Gathering blogging. A lot has happened over the last half year. In the hopes of pursuing a higher education, I've recently moved to Tallahassee, Florida where I've found a new playgroup, and thus have become much more endeavored in paper Magic. An unfortunate side effect, however, is that my poor MTGO account only has 6 tickets banked, ZERO new pauper deck builds, and with an imminent set release on the horizon, this is never a good thing. That being said, I happy to say that I eagerly await the release of MTGO Innistrad this weekend, as I plan to draft a bit online to help aid my return to the pauper community, hopefully into open arms.

       This time around, I will be playing in the ever-growing Monday PDC events (ran by Gwyned). From following him on Twitter, I have learned that the MPDC crowd is quite a different beast in comparison to that of SPDCs usual attendees, and I welcome the challenge with fisticuffs blazing. Haha, just kidding (but seriously, fisticuffs). As for now, I'd like to touch base on Innistrad and offer my thoughts from a pauper perspective, while going over what I believe will be the top 5 game changing commons from each color.

       Let's start with the color I'm normally most fond of when it comes to deck building and play style, Red. Innistrad clearly loves us Fireball slinging, Jackal Pup petting, Goblin Guide scouting Red Mages. If there is a color in Innistrad that is going to be the primary contributor to the new Standard pauper metagame, it's of the Mountain enabled variety.

Nightbird's Clutches5) Nightbird's Clutches

Anybody who played an artifact vandalizing, goblin charged RDW list from last season can tell you, opponents that can't block your dorks are generally boned. This card is the pinnacle of 'can't block'dom. And Flashback to boot? Expect to see a good amount of Bloodcrazed Neonates getting their fill this season.

Bloodcrazed Neonate4) Bloodcrazed Neonate

Sure, she has a drawback, but when was the last time you saw a hyper aggressive Red deck that didn't want to turn its dudes sideways every turn? If you've been paying attention to true Standard over the last 2 weeks, you've already seen the havoc an unanswered Stromkirk Noble can wreak. If they don't have the answer within the first 2 cracks, it's going to get painful

Ancient Grudge3) Ancient Grudge

This is actually my original choice for the number one Red card in Innistrad (in innistrad, ininnistrad, a ninni strad), especially considering we are on the back of an artifact cycle, but without Green, this is simply Shatter. However, I doubt this card will see play in decks that aren't capable of taking a stroll through the Forest, but in those tree friendly archtypes, Ancient Grudge will shine as the ultimate artifact hosing sideboard card. A few reasons to pack in the Shatter 2.0? Tumble Magnet, Negrogen Censer, SYLVOK LIFESTAFF.

Geistflame2) Geistflame

Creatures legal in pauper with a toughness of 1(excluding the Bloodthirsty variety): 89. In a pauper setting, Geistflame is one of those removal spells that is so versatile, it's bordering on absurd. It's almost always a 2 for 1, and in some cases, a game winner, because it can go to the dome. Ever had your opponent at 1, and he rips a Lone Missionary (outdated) or a Sylvok Lifestaff, just in the nick of time, bringing him conveniently out of the red zone? (hahaha RED zone) Well fear not, my adorable Red Mages, Giestflame is here!

Brimstone Volley1) Brimstone Volley

It sounds cliche, but this card literally requires no explanation. It's 3 converted Mana cost, does 3 damage, but surprise, if a dude died this turn, it gets in for FIVE DAMAGE. Considering almost every pauper decks primary win condition is turning dudes sideways (at least in Standard), Brimstone Volley is live more often than not. Don't even get me started on combo'ing with Furnace Scamp.

Overall, I think Red got quite a few new shinies to toy around with this season, and I'll just be upfront and honest: I'm tickled, to play with them. RDW will most likely set the benchmark for control decks this season. If you can't slow down Bloodcrazed Neonates, Slash Panthers, or Furnace Scamp shenanigans, it is now time to rethink your strategy.

Grizzled Outcasts5) Grizzled Outcasts / Krallenhorde Wantons

This Bonebreaker Giant can become a force to be reckoned with. At 7/7 (on the flipside), it is the largest creature in the format, and may enable cards like Fling to see play. It only dies to Doom Blade, does not fall Victim to the Night, and holds the fort better than any fort holder holding forts previously. Face Punch.

Somberwald Spider4) Somberwald Spider

Some may question this pick, but if you've ever played against Pale Recluse, you understand just how hard it is to kill giant spiders. Sure, Somberwald Spider is an expensive Giant Spider, but when Morbid active, it's an even better defender than Alara Block's pesky arachnid. Splashing this card in a multi-color control deck isn't too bad of an idea, and once we get some more Mana fixers, it will possibly become a pauper staple.

Festerhide Boar3) Festerhide Boar

Oh, how I remember the days of Blastoderm. Though not quite the unstoppable force Blastoderm is, this is probably my favorite creature in Innistrad limited, much like Bloodrage Berserkers was in m12. Festerhide Boar is an absolute powerhouse, providing your opponents blockers are thinned (or nonexistent) due to trades they will wish they hadn't made when you windmill slam this monstrosity on turn 4. Trample is a scarce mechanic in Standard pauper, and it's nice to have another playable creature to add to Greens very light card pool.

Travel Preparations2) Travel Preparations

The ultimate blowout in some limited matchups, Travel Preperations transforms a nonthreatening turn 4 attack step into a game changing full on assault. It can make the lowliest Vault Skirge into a major threat, the sickliest Garruk's Companion into a mighty wolf-elk-boar thing, or a Llanowar Elves into LLANOWAR ELVES! My point is simple. Pump all the things.

Prey Upon1) Prey Upon

Finally. Effective, cheap, Green removal. Prey Upon is the best Green removal spell since Hornet Sting (lol). Cards like Grizzled Outcast and Thundering Tanadon will reap obvious benefits, while unsuspecting creatures like Cystbearer will be able to take on the bigger baddies and survive to tell the tale. It is no longer safe to assume that your mono Green opponent can't burn your dudes.

All in all, Innistrad brought a few nice things to the table. I don't think that our friendly canopy cover lovers will be ready to go it alone this season, but Dark Ascension may change things. Until then, Green will most likely remain the sad splash-only color it has been.

Elder Cathar5) Elder Cathar

I'm a huge fan of Flayer Husk, and a bigger, free-er Flayer Husk sounds awesome to me. More over, Elder Cathar does a few things Flayer Husk could never dream of. Elder Cathar never gets blocked when he has friends cheering him on. Even better still, people generally don't like to ground pound when the old man is around, for fear of empowering a more intimidating threat, like Leonin Skyhunter or Thraben Sentry. Elder Cathar should see a good amount of play as a 2of in many decks with aggressive strategies.

Doomed Traveler4) Doomed Traveler

Talk about card advantage. Our unlucky wanderer is very good at snagging a couple points very early on. Then later, when he meets his inevitable demise to a bigger, more voracious monster, his spirit makes an appearance, ready and willing to steal a few more points. Cheap, disposable, and efficient, this card will certainly see a lot of action along side our #2 white card.

Village Bell-Ringer3) Village Bell-Ringer

A veritable blowout in limited, Village Bell-Ringer has surprise on tap. In a lot of matchups (particularly the aggro vs. aggro), catching an alpha striking opponent off guard is often enough to win the game on the spot. If it isn't, Village Bell-Ringer ensures that you gain footing if your behind, or further your board position if you already have your opponent swinging for the fences. Flash is another one of those mechanics scarce to Standard pauper. This is something I hope changes in the future.

Thraben Sentry2) Thraben Sentry / Thraben Militia

What can I say about Thraben Sentry that wasn't said about Festerhide Boar? At 4 Mana and a minor sacrifice, Thraben Sentry is a 5/4 with TRAMPLE. Yes, White has trample to add to it's arsenal, and on a very strong body as well. While cards like Perilous Myr, Fume Spitter, Elder Cathar, and Doomed Traveler will make the requirements for transforming seem painless, Thraben Sentry enables spells like Moment of Heroism to completely swing the momentum of a game.

Spare from Evil1) Spare from Evil

Spare from Evil is essentially Brave the Elements, but better. Yes, I said better. Unlike the Zendikar uncommon, Spare from Evil does not discriminate based on color. In most cases, it makes your entire team unblockable, and if not the entire team, enough of them to be lethal. The combat tricks you can pull off are pretty impressive as well. I foresee this card being a staple in White sideboards, until it eventually lands in the main of every aggressive deck with White Mana sources.

White definitely got a nice push from Innistrad, especially in the creature department. With the addition of Doomed Traveler, Elder Cathar, Chapel Geist, and Thraben Sentry, White will hopefully (fingers crossed) be able to shake the Support/Control stigmata it has been stuck with, and finally breathe the fresh air of swift, unforgiving combat once more. Keep in mind though, upon rotation, White is losing Squadron Hawk, Kor Skyfisher, Kor Hookmaster, and Journey to Nowhere. That being said, it's unsure what the future holds for White Weenie enthusiasts, but whatever the metagame becomes, White will be prepared.

Lost in the Mist5) Lost in the Mist

The number 5 slot for Blue was a tossup between Frightful Delusions and Lost in the Mist. I decided to include Lost in the Mist because of the sheer fact that it will never be a dead card. It is a hard counter, and provides much needed late game tempo. Frightful Delusions can be a 2 for 1 at times, but late game, it's a dead counter, and it's doubtful the discard will matter. Lost in the Mist can even pull some tricks with ETB creatures. This card will definitely be a miser 1of in my Blue lists.

Delver of Secrets
'early game'
Stitched Drake
'end game'
4) Delver of Secrets and 3) Stitched Drake

Blue Skies players, rejoice! The time for all out aerial assaults is nigh! Delver of Secrets and Stitched Drake are everything that Blue needs to go back on the offensive, readily being accompanied by Spined Thopter, Skywinder Drake, Impaler Shrike, Vault Skirge, and even Hovermyr. Compliment your winged companions with some of the best counter magic in recent pauper Standard history (Mana Leak, Negate, Psychic Barrier), and copious amounts of evasive maneuvers like Frost Breath, Vapor Snag and its angrier cousin, Silent Departure, and you have yourself a pretty aggressive, tempo mastering Blue Skies.

Forbidden Alchemy2) Forbidden Alchemy

Impulse is a very hard card to argue with. It was a true toss up between Forbidden Alchemy and Think Twice. Forbidden Alchemy was locked into second because for it to truly hit it's max potential, it requires accompaniment of Black. Not for the flashback cost, but to make use of the discarded portion of your Alchemical deed. I know I've mentioned him before, but Gravedigger pulls even more value out of a card that is, quite literally, overflowing.

Think Twice1) Think Twice

Think Twice needs no introduction, as it has already proven it's worth in the pauper world, as well as the true Standard environment. It's instant speed makes it completely Mana efficient, allowing you to keep pace with your opponent. Late game, it provides a light acceleration while helping to dig for answers or fresh bodies. With this and Forbidden Alchemy, Blue based decks have the best chance of splashing multiple colors, so do be surprised if Esper builds are still rampant.

Blue Mages can't complain about Innistrad. New fliers, new counter magic, epic draw spells. It will be interesting to see how the new schools form, as Mages everyone decide between Ponder, Divination, Forbidden Alchemy, and Think Twice. I assume more contemplative Blue Mages will go the Ponder/Think Twice route, while the more reckless Mages will lean more to Divination and Forbidden Alchemy. Only time will tell.

Manor Skeleton
'sneaky sneaky'
Typhoid Rats
'typhoid fever'
5) Typhoid Rats and Manor Skeleton

The 2 peskiest creatures of Innistrad happen to share a color, Black. Fortunately, they aren't the least bit overpowered...more of a small inconvenience really. Typhoid Rats should undoubtedly eat removal, but occasionally they'll slow down the opponents ground game, because let's face it, everyone hates rats, especially diseased ones. Manor Skeleton is a different kind of nuisance, because he gets in for 1 on turn 2, and NEVER GOES AWAY.

Markov Patrician4) Markov Patrician

Markov Patrician isn't your typical top 5er, but she does fill the 3cc slot in Black, a position that has been lacking since Alara Block rotated out. She may be very good at catching Geistflames, but should she go unanswered, or learn tactical evasion (read: FLYING), the life swing can completely change the game. In an ideallistic world, Markov Patrician even plays well with Dark Favor. At least she's stronger than Warpath Ghoul. Kind of.

Vampire Interloper3) Vampire Interloper

Another prime Dark Favor target is Vampire Interloper. Black has always been lacking in the evasive department, but this Skulking Ghost improvement should clear those problems right up. 2 Mana for a 2 power flier is always good. Fitting this deck into a Blue Skies variant wouldn't be a terrible plan, since Black allows you to run a very solid removal sweet, as well as more draw power.

Altar's Reap2) Altar's Reap

We may have lost Sign in Blood, but we get a sidegrade in Alter's Reap. Aside from its spashability, the best quality of Alter's Reap is its 'drawback'. Many players will regard the drawback as a reason not to play it, but look at it this way: The format is reliant on combat as a win condition. There will almost always be a casualty fitting for the Alter. If that isn't enough to sway you, what about a Thraben Sentry flip in response to attackers being declared? Still not happy? How about enabling morbid for Festerhide Boars, or better yet, Brimstone Volley?

Victim of Night1) Victim of Night

More solid Black removal. With Geth's Verdict and Doom Blade, Victim of the Night should fit in nicely. There are only 31 creatures that Victim of the Night cannot target, and of those 31, only 6-8 should see regular play. My point being, there will always be someone ready to fall Victim, especially since the Night can fall on Black creatures. Take that Doom Blade.

If I sounded condescending or disinterested while covering Black, it's because I feel like Innistrad shafted Necromancers everywhere. It was immensely difficult to pick 5 cards to feature. Look at the card pool, it's horrendous. Curse of Oblivion? Brain Weevil? Rotting Fensnake? Let's hope Dark Ascension is truly Dark.

Shimmering Grotto2) Shimmering Grotto
With the absence of Terramorphic Expanse, Evolving Wilds, and Prophetic Prism, Shimmering Grotto is almost a sure thing. Either this will be the season for mono colored decks, or Shimmering Grotto will step up and fill the incredibly big shoes that were left behind by our beloved pauper fetchlands.

Traveler's Amulet1) Traveler's Amulet

This card thins your deck and shuffles on command, which is always nice in a format where Ponder sees play. The Mana fix isn't half bad either, and at 1cc, I'm sure we'll see Traveler's Amulet a time or two.

Though seemingly lacking, I feel like the contribution of artifacts/non-basic lands was appropriate from Innistrad. We had our fun with lands during Zendikar block and we have more than enough artifacts, thanks to Scars. Big beefy creatures and evasive creeps, pseudo-powerful spells and plenty of draw power makes Innistrad appear to be very relevant in the coming months.

Sorry it took so long to get this article put together/published. I've been balancing work, school, and a hefty cardboard play schedule. I've been piecing this together over the last to weeks, bit by bit. If you like my blog, and want to hear more about my magical endeavors, feel free to follow me on Twitter  ---> @iprizefighter <--- and subscribe to my blog. Good luck on the next season, and I hope to meet you on the battlefield.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I've been on Hiatus

Soooo much magic lately. Just wanted to let everyone know the blog isn't dead. I've been going to concerts, playing in Regionals, and doing many, many more important things, like working and focusing on school. I'll be back, hopefully this week, with an all new blog. Included will be recaps of my last 2 (or 3 depending on when I post the blog) SPDC's, Regionals, and a 'State of the Meta' address, as well as a look into a fresh mono-color build. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Hunt for Red October

Another week, another article. After my shameful play mistake at SPDC 16.03, I found it hard to muster up the courage to sit down at my keyboard and write this one up. But alas, here I am, ready to bare my soul.

'turn me sideways or DIE'
"What happened?" you ask? Well, in the 2nd game of my top 8 match, I'm struggling to survive with 3 land against a very potent MetalHawk deck, (piloted by Mayday11) and he swings with a Glint Hawk and 2 of his statuary cousins, reducing me to 4 life, then Galvanic Blasts me, and, since I'm more or less new to this metalcraft idea, I, of course, take the Blast to the face, not realizing he has metalcraft online, and I lose the game, despite having 2 Golden Urns in play, one charged to 6. Whether or not that Golden Urn would have made a difference is hard to tell, since I immediately exited the match, reported in /spdccom, thanked Jam, and logged. I hate making play errors, and ultimately, I feel the fact that you can't really protect yourself from misclicks or overlooks is about the only thing seriously wrong with MTGO. /rant

'i is ready for battles'

Now that I've had my little pity party emofest, we can get into the topic of the week: Mono Red. Yes, yes, yes. Sligh (click it to read up on the history of a man's man deck) players unite, because I'm taking this one to the top, mark my words. The Red standard pauper pool is overflowing with goodies, and it pains me that I've only seen TWO mono red decks in 7 standard tournaments. Over the course of this article, I'll go over some of the power cards that I feel have been underused, and I'll give you a deck idea I've been toying with, and will be running Monday in paper and Thursday in pixels.


Aside from the obvious powerhouse Plated Geopede, let's look at some of the other unsung heroes our fiery mana symbol has to offer. Blisterstick Shaman immediately pops into my head as a force to be reckoned with. He is a limited winner, and in standard pauper, he's almost as powerful. He is especially well equipped for the meta, with a healthy appetite the Squadron Hawks and Bant tokens that seem to be ripe for the sticking. It's surprising that this 2 for 1 hasn't seen more play. The list goes on and on for what this little guy likes to eat, and if the hefty array of playable 1 toughness dudes isn't reason enough to consider this guy, just think of all the times that a Kor Skyfisher has loomed over the battle field because it eats your 2 power minions, or how many times your opponent has been at 1 life, and you just couldn't eek through 1 more damage.

On that note, let's look an old favorite, hidden in the Oracle's new ways: Goblin Arsonist. If you remember the most lovable little kamikaze goblin Mogg Fanatic, then you remember how you could put combat damage on the stack, and then shoot something for one, effectively getting a nice twofer. Well, Goblin Arsonist gives the exact effect that our little ship jumping goblin buddy always did. He has underlying evasiveness and incredible potency given the current metagame. If you haven't noticed, Perilous Myr has only gone up in popularity, and will probably become a 4of in 90% of the decks going forward. He presents the opponent with a dilemma very early on, the ever trying 'to block or not to block'. Perilous Myr always gets through for a few points before going down in a blaze of Myr glory. I predict our fire loving friend here will do much the same.

Lastly, I'd like to touch on a creature that I truly feel should be MVP. Manic Vandal. This dude is an absolute all-star. He will almost ALWAYS have a target, given that 75% of the field runs some form of artifact maindeck or board. And he's not just vandalizing artifacts that sort of help the opponent, like Prophetic Prism, but game-changing artifacts like Sylvok Lifestaff, Necrogen Censer, and Glint Hawk Idol. If that isn't a nice little ETB effect, I don't know what is. It's actually a wonder that this guy didn't turn out green when the R&D sat down to bang out M11. Uktabi Orangutans were always a force, though mostly in board, so why wouldn't Manic Vandal fill a few board slots as well, if not a couple main deck positions?


Ah, yes, the bread and butter category or any successful fireslinger. Now, obviously everyone knows about Lightning Bolt, Staggershock, Burst Lightning, and the lesser Galvanic Blast, Flame Slash, and even Burn the Impure (ultimate board about UG infect, BTW), but I want to talk about some of the lesser used instant spells. Take Crush for instance. Though it doesn't jump out as an impressive main deck game changer, it is most definitely a 4of in the board, simply for the fact that there are so many MetalHawks flying around the top 8s lately. Nothing feels better than targeting that damned Necrogen Senser just as your opponent drops his Glint Hawk, successfully 'crushing' your opponent's soul and leaving him to sift through the dust of his shattered dreams. Ok, so maybe it isn't that dramatic, but it IS about the best twofer you're going to get in this meta.

MMMMM, more Squadron Hawk/Bant hate, this time in the form of a warm and fuzzy Wrap in Flames. If you thought it felt good to Shrivel away a playset of Hawks, then welcome, my friend, to the machine. This card is an unbelievably rogue choice, and has one of the BEST secondary effects I have seen. When you're rushing down you're opponent, and they seem to stabilize with a handful of midrange beefy dudes, Wrap in Flames burns their retinas just long enough for your amassing army of little Gobbos to sneak by and steal the last little bit of gold, errr, life points, your opponent has been surviving on. This, in itself, cures the only problem that truly ailed mono red players in the past standard pauper blocks, lack of reach. I think we will all see this more often, at least as a board card in a deck splashing red, and I hope to see it more as a finisher in some mono red builds.

Similar to Wrap in Flames, but slightly more potent (if you're artifact friendly), is Concussive Bolt. If you can't get past your obnoxious opponent's opposing Bant token task force, then just knock him/her upside the head with something really heavy, push all of his dudes to the side, and go for the throat. This is Concussive Bolt, in a nutshell. I don't know any better way to explain it. I've seen it happen in limited, hell, I've seen it happen in pauper, and let me tell you, it ISN'T PRETTY. Gotta love the outright 'opponent's creatures can't block' effect. This can be devastating in any late game, especially if you've been picking at your opponent's life total continually with a Blisterstick Shaman or a Lightning Bolt here and there. Expect to see this at some point in the season.


Not a big contender, but I thought it should still be mentioned, as red lacks evasion (aside from the illustrious Goblin Balloon Brigade): Spin Engine. Now, that isn't pronounced SPINE Engine, so please, don't make me stab you. Spin Engine can be suited up with a few nice equipment (i.e. Copper Carapace), provided your opponent isn't packing removal (lol) and all the blockers in the world can't seem to jump in front of a moving Spin Engine in time to stop it from doming your opponent for 3+ damage. It could even be argued that this guy could come in late game in a more control oriented deck to slowly pick away at your opponent while you sit back ad protect your board (and your engine) from enemy threats. It's cards like this and Bladetusk Boar that make me wonder why more people don't 'Spin' the wheel and try out mono red.

 Another metagame choice (and a good one, I might add) comes in the form of red's only viable enchantment: Volcanic Strength. This card is overlooked 9 times out of 10 because most people mistake it for Goblin War Paint or Maniacal Rage, and never notice the Mountainwalk. While this is typically not an amazing ability, the current meta begs to differ. 5/8 and 3/8 decks in the top 8 of the most recent SPDC and MPDC (respectively) contained Mountains, making this card a sideboard powerhouse. Slap it on something with a 3 toughness and you're going to town for ice cream before your opponent knows what hit them. Come to think of it, red actually has more evasion than I thought this go around. I apologize to any Goblin Balloon Brigade enthusiasts I may have offended.

So, red doesn't look so weak all by itself, does it? Well, maybe it still does, but I'm sure I got a few brains churning. I may have even unsettled some cobwebs in the tunnel-visioned minds of a Bant player. Either way, at least red has been done justice, and shown for the shining emblem of power that it always has been. As I raise my imaginary goblet high in the air to toast of RDW victories soon to come, I leave you all with a decklist I plan on taking the Mountain with in this weeks battle for glory.

'Scars Gobbos > all other Gobbos'


4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Perilous Myr

4 Kuldotha Rebirth
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Burst Lightning
2 Galvanic Blast
4 Searing Blaze
1 Rally the Forces
4 Flayer Husk
4 Panic Spellbomb

17 Mountain

4 Burn the Impure
4 Teetering Peaks
4 Crush
3 Concussive Bolt

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Champion is Born.

"Another week of pauper in the books. This week, I talk about the mono black mirror, offer up some healthy deck tech discussion, and dish on my latest SPDC experience."

I wish I could tolerate doing a podcast. It's infinitely easier than typing up these tournament reports, and honestly, who ACTUALLY reads through the match/game analyses anyway? Nevertheless, as my own personal therapy, I will continue to write these out, not only to report on my weekly Magic: the Gathering adventures, but to also track my evolution as a player in this fantastic format.

Now, about SPDC.

I thought a lot about this past weeks tournament, about what deck I should run, the metagame we should expect, and after seeing Monday's MPDC top 8 list, I knew that the only deck winning Thursday's SPDC was going to be a deck meta'd against the ever present Bant Tokens. This got my brain grinding, and I ended up revisiting an old favorite and a deck I've already posted about: White Weenie. I had to make some changes of course, but all in all, I feel the build I went with is top tier quality, and if more people would stray from their safety zone, they would find that mono color can be extremely powerful. To the deck list, shall we?

White Weenie 2.0 (Now with More Reach tm)




You can see from this decklist (compared to my previous post), I didn't change all that much, but the changes I did make were very significant to most of my match outcomes. Necrogen Censer is just stupid, and the Teetering Peaks is a powerhouse when Kor Skyfishers are involved. (as a sidenote, does running that single Teetering Peaks TECHNICALLY negate my mono coloredness?) I put in the Necrogen Censers (and the Inspired Charges made the board) because I felt the deck lacked reach. Once you lose the initial steam and the opponent starts to get into the meat of their deck, you're about to hit your Necrogen Censer(s). It provides the reach needed to finish the opponent off, which is much akin to my current favorite Standard deck, BR Vampires. Necrogen Censer is my Kalastria Highborn.

As for the board, Soul Parry is sided in against the Infect decks out there, Inspired Charge takes care of the slower control matchups, and Safe Passage is my Bant beater. Excommunicate, Repel the Darkness, and Kor Hookmaster are there to pick up the slack against the aggro decks and/or decks that contain very few fliers, but enough that they need to be addressed (Squadron Hawk + Kor Skyfisher). I feel the board was solid for the meta this week, but I'd probably have benefited from some Divine Offerings for those damned Sylvok Lifestaffs everyone seems to be running main deck now.

Match 1: (cannot remember name atm) - Giants

Game 1: Can't help but be stoked to find my first match is so much in my favor. My fliers easily soar to victory over the heads of some very angry giants and ogres.

-2 Necrogen Censer
+1 Repel the Darkness, +1 Excommunicate

Game 2: I'm stuck on 2 lands (which doesn't necessarily cripple me) and he seems to be flooded. I soar over top with Kor Skyfisher for the match.

Sidenote: I'd like to point out that this 'Snow White' deck seems like it has a good amount of potential, it just needs a little work. I challenge the PDC community to tweak this to perfection.

--- 1-0

'MMM, yeah, deeper'
Match 2: Qodog - RUG Allies

Game 1: He gets 2 early Halimar Excavators followed by another ally every turn until I was decked. Got him to 3, but I just wasn't fast enough.

-2 Necrogen Censer, -1 Sylvok Lifestaff
+1 Excommunicate, +1 Inspired Charge, +1 Repel the Darkness

Game 2: I seem to hit most of the removal in my deck (3 Journey to Nowhere, 2 Repel the Darkness, 2 Excommunicate) and I just shut him down while gliding via updrafts to victory.

-1 Inspired Charge
+1 Repel the Darkness

Game 3: I keep a 1 land hand by accident, but it works out anyways, as I slow his dudes with removal, coming across several times with a Soul Attendant and 2 Flayer Husks, eventually hitting a couple fliers, and though he tries to race me, he just can't get enough damage through and I win.

--- 2-0

'Hill Giant +2'
Match 3: Petermere - Bant Tokens

Game 1: I have an amazing start with double Leonin Skyhunter, Sylvok Lifestaff, and Soul Attendant. He Journey to Nowheres my Perilous Myr (instead of one of the 2 Leonin Skyhunters smashing his face) confusing me, and a few turns later he concedes to overwhelming odds.

-1 Kemba Skyguard, -1 Perilous Myr
+2 Safe Passage

Game 2: This game is a little hazy in my mind, but I do remember one thing: I lost.

Game 3: Another long game, won solely thanks to turn 1 Soul's Attendant, turn 2 Soul's Attendant. I stopped paying attention to my life once it hit 54. He just couldn't deal with my ridiculous life gain and over the course of the game I eek through 20 damage.

--- 3-0

'one meerian'
Match 4: Korniswins - Bant Tokens

Game 1: I keep a 1 land hand that seems godly if i draw a land. I'm on the play so it seems doable. turn 4, still no land. looks bleak. i see the second land waaaaay too late, and that's my bad beats story of the day.

-1 Perilous Myr, -2 Excommunicate
+3 Safe Passage

Game 2: Great hand, crap draws, eventually I lose to a 1 million point Inspired Charge. Well, technically I lose to the attack following the 1 million point Inspired Charge, but that is neither here nor there. Bant is an explosive force to be reckoned with, especially the ones that are playing Spell Pierce :)

--- 3-1

Top 8: Petermere - Bant Tokens (again)

Game 1: Opening hand is dub Glint Hawk + Necrogen Censer accompanied with a Sylvok Lifestaff and a Leonin Skyhunter, seems good. Necrogen Censer and Glint Hawk magic goes all the way.

-3 Excommunicate
+2 Inspired Charge, +1 Repel the Darkness

Game 2: I keep a decent looking hand, Inspired Charge, Kor Skyfisher, Leonin Skyhunter, Flayer Husk, Sylvok Lifestaff. I burn him down low with my flying army, and he starts to stabilize with Journey to Nowhere, Kor Skyfisher, Kor Sanctifier, and after a few turns of bouncing Kor Sanctifier to destroy my Journey to Nowheres that were harboring his other Kor Skyfishers, he seems to truly take control. A Foresee grabs him Brohawks (Squadron Hawk). he's at 3, and I slow roll with 3 land, 1 open Leonin Skyhunter, and Sylvok Lifestaff on the board. he drops the rest of his Squadron Hawks, swings, and I end of turn Repel the Darkness 2 of his 3 open fliers (holding the second Repel the Darness in hand), all I need is a Plains and I rip one right off the top of the deck with the Repel the Darkness cantrip. I Repel the Darkness the last flying Squadron Hawk, drop my Plains, equip the Sylvok Lifestaff, and sail over for the last 3 points of the match.

--- 4-1

'sneaky sneaky'
Top 4: Jeffdmk - UG Infect

Game 1: This game goes swimmingly, and a well timed Repel the Darkness on a Distortion Strike'd Rot Wolf with a pending Vines of Vastwood wins the game.

-4 Soul's Attendant, -2 Kemba Skyguard
+2 Repel the Darkness, +3 Soul Parry, +1 Excommunicate

Game 2: Piles of Perilous Myrs, a Necrogen Censer, and 2 Glint Hawks destroy his no Forest hand. he is land locked at an Island and 2 Halimar Depths (leaving me to wonder why he didn't mulligan more aggressively) and I clean up with weenies.

--- 5-1

Finals: Aryxon - Bant Token Varient

Game 1: I get beat by a very nice 3 or 4 color control-ish Inspired Charge deck, or maybe it was just a variation of bant tokens running burn and Scroll Thief.

-2 Kemba's Skyguard, -1 Flayer husk, -1 Excommunicate
+2 Inspired Charge, +2 Soul Parry

Game 2: He mulligans to 4, and I effortlessly roll over him with weenies and Inspired Charge.

Game 3: My opening hand seems slow, but I keep it due to Necrogen Censer + Kor Skyfisher + 2 Plains. He Lightning Bolts my Leonin Skyhunter, making me worry about whether or not I can apply pressure fast enough. Necrogen Senser followed Glint Hawk and another Kor Skyfisher keep him low, despite him stabilizing both in the air, and with a Soul's Attendant (pressure is key against Bant). Much later, when all hope seems to be lost (Sylvok Lifestaff hits the board, slowly negating my efforts to come out on top), I have him at 4, I drop the last charge off my Necrogen Censer to put him at 2, and topdeck the other Necrogen Censer for the win.

---6-1, SPDC 16-02 champ. Tired. Bed.