Long time no see looters! I am finally back with another article after a long break from both writing and Magic. Needless to say, I have missed a few things while on my hiatus. Probably the biggest thing was the Battle for Zendikar pre-release. I wasn’t happy about it but I do have the opportunity to play it now which is great! The original Zendikar has a lot of fond memories for me and even one not so fond one. (Why did I have to pass that full art land!?!) It was right around the time when I was getting back into magic and thus acted as a stepping stone to where I am now. That got me thinking back even farther, all the way to my roots.
Picture a younger me in the 90s, fads coming out left and right. Pokémon, Yugioh, Bayblade; I fell for them all. One fad that snuck its way into my young life however, and it was a little card game called Magic: the Gathering (you may have heard of it). My first Magic cards I actually got by trading away a bag of chips. Coincidently, I got into a lot of the games I played when I was a kid by trading food. That being said, some of the fads lasted about as long as a bag of chips did. That being said I unfortunately, at least according to my current self, didn’t play Magic as long as I wanted to. Recently, while going through buried treasure hidden in the closet, I found my old cards but sadly the most valuable one remaining was a Skullclamp (thanks a lot younger me…). I did, however, get a rush of memories recollecting my first deck and comparing the mage that I used to be to the mage I am now.
I don’t know why, but white has always been my color. Even way back in the day I started training as a little young white mage (to a laymen this could sound really racist…). I first picked up the game around the original Mirrodin and ended up leaving about Kamigawa. I only know this because of that first deck of mine. There was a Friday Nights episode (a funny sketch show put on by Loading Ready Run) recently where all of the cast members instantly remembered their first deck and how they were the best decks ever. After finding and looking at their decks, they realized that their decks were bad. But who cares! What makes your first Magic deck great was the memories and the whimsy associated with slinging those old spells and beating your friends. It also helped that none of your friends were Pro Tour competitors so all the decks were fun and comparably awful to the now “adult you” standards of a good deck. So what cards were in my childhood best deck ever?
Well, I don’t actually have the same 60 card mono white deck that I still had when I was a kid, but who could forget the mono white working together deck! Back in the day, I loved the idea of using all of my little creatures to buff up and become huge forces to be reckoned with. The idea was simple. I would flood the battlefield with creatures that could all help each other get bigger and attack in for lots of damage. I added equipment and enchantments in order to further buff my armies of wimpy creatures. Using Angelic Page and Auriok Bladewarden, I would buff up my attacking creature to be stronger than any of the blockers they had. I believe my favorite creature to pump was Kabuto Moth because it had flying and it could also be used to pump some of my other creatures. Starting to see the theme? Just a bunch of little white creatures that, collectively, could power through my friends creatures. The rest of my creature base was other samurai and little white creatures that I liked. I believe I also had a Soul Warden in there because what little planeswalker doesn’t love life gain? My non-creature suite was pretty small because why would I put non-creatures in a creature deck? The two cards that I 100 percent remember having were a Vulshok Morning Star and Shelter. The first card, Vulshok Morning Star was for buffing up my creatures to pack a bigger punch and it also worked pretty well with Auriok Bladewarden. The second one, Shelter, was just a way to protect my creatures from any meddling spells and their stupid dogs. It would also be nothing that apparently, even my kid self knew the value of a cantrip. All of these cards came together to form the best deck on the playground! Granted, I may be a little biased…
So with all the fads passing, my return to magic, and a few years gone by: here we are. Decks have often come and gone in my collection. I have constructed and deconstructed countless EDH, Modern, Casual, Standard, and even Pauper decks throughout the years. Despite this fact, there is always one deck (well build I might add) that has still been sitting in the same Odyssey deck box that it was first thrown into. That’s right, you guessed it, my mono white deck. Granted, it has seen some changes and finally got some sleeves but I can never get myself to take it apart despite it being far from competitive. In its current form it is the deck I used to play with some of my more casual friends so it does serve a niche among my collection of decks. It is also much less about creatures buffing creatures now. It has become much more of a mono white equipment deck. And because who doesn’t like a deck list, here it is:
Well, there you have it! As you can see it is a bit different than the original deck I described above, however, it keeps to the same themes. It is still about pumping one creature up to be a big huge beater. The deck still has a few of the older cards like Shelter and a bunch of equipment. The theme of creatures working together is even still there except now it takes on more the form of Kor tribal. Some of the cards are in here just because I wanted to play with them, but they were never quite competitive. Path of Bravery and Gift of Immortality are the best examples of cards that were put in for that reason. This list here is not representative of all the changes I have made over the years as some have come and gone just like I am sure some of these cards will eventually be replaced. All I can say for certain is that this deck will never ever be taken apart.
I hope you all enjoyed walking down memory lane with me and I predict it will make you think about your Magic: the Gathering roots as well. If you take anything away from this article, it is that you should try to hold on to those memories as long as possible. Remember when you used to cast Suntail Hawk and fly over all those other big creatures your opponent had? Wow! Remember that really cool dragon you used to draw and it would allow you to take over the board and win the game? Awesome! Remember banding? Eeeeehhhh…..well you get the point. Magic is all about having fun. I still have a lot of fun playing and competing but the whimsy and wow factor can sometimes disappear. Try to hang on to that because it can improve your view of the game and even help you moving forward as you improve and play more. That being said, next time a sweet play is done, even if you are on the receiving end, try to look at it like that starry-eyed little kid who is going to be talking about it on the playground tomorrow.
Please feel free to comment on this article if you have any fun old magic stories or even just want to let me know what your first deck was. It will almost always be something fun and interesting. Also, let me know if you enjoyed this type of article as it was a bit different from any Magic article I have written thus far. Thanks for reading Looters and may your spells bring you victories. Until next time!
By Roy Anderson
@Sockymans on Twitter
1st at Grand Prix New Jersey Legacy on Nov. 16th 2014
It was a daily double last weekend with Treasure Cruise decks winning both this and the Modern GP in Madrid. Despite that though there was not an abundance of Treasure Cruise swarming the top 8 with a total of 10 copies between 4 decks, and they were each a distinct archetype. It wasn’t even the bogeyman UR Delver which won which was the other deck running the full 4 copies and there was an amazing diversity between all 8 decks.
It is truly bizarre how the recent successes of Red decks in Standard seems to be porting over to Legacy. While this is very far from a new deck and also not unheard of to win in Legacy, it is not one of the dominant strategies. What it is though is a strategy which has been the identity of Red decks over the last twenty years through the history of magic. It is simple in design but requires the skill of a practiced mage in order to bring it to victory. But the framework of Legacy Burn is often the same as it uses only the very best of the best that Red has to offer.
While the Legacy Burn has more then twice as many instant or sorceries spells then non-land permanents there are some very deadly ones that are showcased here. The first is what has been dubbed as the best red creature printed with Goblin Guide as not only a source of hasty beats but also provides some valuable information about what’s coming up for the opponent. We also find Grim Lavamancer which with a mass of cheap spells and some fetchlands will often find the fuel for its fire from the graveyard to close out the opponent very quickly. The other creature in the deck is relative newcomer Eidolon of the Great Revel which is so deadly given the spells in the format generally all fall under three mana and therefore even to try and remove him is going to cause the opponent to feel the burn in the process. There is also a pair of Sulfuric Vortex which are most especially needed against lifegain otherwise you’d be entirely blown out by a simple Batterskull and the extra damage each turn is gravy. Then we get into the spells which fall into one of three categories: Burn, Burn or Burn !!! You have all the three points for one mana all-stars with the classic Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Rift Bolt and Lava Spike. Against any decks running creatures it’s not hard to trigger Landfall on Searing Blaze to not only blast the creature but also dome the player for an additional three. With so many decks running dual lands and other non-basics Price of Progress can easily count for anywhere between four to eight damage which will end games very quickly. And as a very efficient finishing move you’re able to sacrifice some Mountains instead of paying for Fireblast to burn up those last remaining points of life and fry up your opponent.
The best part of Legacy Burn is that you’re able to pull it together so affordably as the only real cost comes from the fetchlands which are certainly not the same as loading up on dual lands. While it may not be storming out a combo or cheating out a fattie, it is still a fun and efficient deck that is very useful as an entry point into Legacy. I would highly recommend this deck if you are looking to dip your toe into the Legacy pool for a taste as you’ll be spending a fraction of what the other decks cost. And definitely have a good time with this deck and use it as a way to learn what you like about the formats other decks.
The Legacy format is filled with cheap and efficient cards as it has access to the best ever printed over the entire history of the game. This deck is one of those that takes full advantage of that fact to pull together a cast of the top choices creating a highly disruptive killing machine. It pulls together permission, removal and draw to quickly dispatch all enemies that stand in its way. It’s no surprise whenever a deck of this style takes down a tournament.
Quite possibly the best Blue one drop ever printed, and quite aggressively out of Blue flavor, we have Delver of Secrets supported by an almost 50/50 split on spells which will be able to blind flip it turn two so you’re able to commence with the beatdown plan. Follow that up with True-Name Nemesis which demands the opponent to find an answer to it or they will definitely die to that unchecked clock. Both of them are supported by Stoneforge Mystic who is able to either search up an Umezawa’s Jitte to equip one of your attackers or find you a Batterskull to commit further to your beatdown plan. Next we speed up the deck with an abundance of card draw starting with the perennial Brainstorm, coupled with Ponder and Phyrexian freebie Gitaxian Probe which also provides you a sneak peek at the opponents plans. The deck also packs a very robust permission package centering around another format staple and free spell Force of Will, backed up by also free Daze and cheap but disruptive Spell Pierce. Then we round out the deck with top quality removal with the main reason this deck dips into Red with Lightning Bolt and also the classic Swords to Plowshares which will convienently exile most any creatures which are presenting you with certain doom.
Here is another great victory for a deck which has been coming and going with success over the past year. It is a very strong package of disruption which comes in the form of aggro beatdown allowing the deck to operate on a very powerful axis. For those of you unfamiliar with Death and Taxes it is at its core The White Weenie deck. It has evolved from a deck which worked to exile the opponents permanents for value into a mash up of hate bears and resource oppression. It has a pile of the best white creatures ever printed.
The journey up the mana curve is very important for this deck as it relies heavily upon Æther Vial to ‘cheat out’ it’s creatures around counter magic and as disruption. The ideal turn one play involves either Æther Vial or Mother of Runes to let the games begin. Once ‘mom’ is out it becomes increasingly more difficult for your opponent to use spot removal on your creatures. A great turn two play would be a follow up of either Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to actively disrupt the opponents plans or even Stoneforge Mystic to start building offensive to bring the beats. And while Thalia will affect your spells as well it is a minor cost as the spells we cast are one cost and the equipment is going to be cheated in with the Mystic. Speaking of equipment the Stoneforge package in the deck is rather robust including not only a Batterskull and an Umezawa’s Jitte but also a Sword of Fire and Ice, all of which are efficient tools to boost any of your creatures into lean and mean fighting machines. As for some straight-up beatsticks the deck packs a Brimaz, King of Oreskos for value and a trio of Serra Avenger which are able to skirt the turn it can be played restriction with an Æther Vial activation. Then for disruption we find a variety of answers with Phyrexian Revoker to shut down a pesky permanent especially in response to casting a planeswalker, Spirit of the Labyrinth which absolutely ruins players hands in response to a Brainstorm, and Aven Mindcensor that can come in response to a fetchland or Stoneforge trigger to try and force the opponent to whiff. The final creature in the deck is a trio of Flickerwisp which can be vialed into play in response to removal to save a permanent or used to reset a Revoker, rebuy a Mystic and even regerm a Batterskull, not to mention suit up with a Sword or Jitte to bring the beats. There is a heavy resource denial package within the manabase with not only a full set of Wasteland but also a full set of Rishadan Port to lockdown any hope of the opponent to have a fighting chance. Also, for spot removal we find Swords to Plowshares to rid the board of any nuisance creatures trying to stand in the way.
And there we have it the first Legacy winner is a deck that is rapidly becoming a staple deck at the top tables. Of course as Legacy is a huge wide open field there is always a brick wall that every deck will run into eventually, but this deck look not only to be resilient but also a great deal of fun. I would be not only happy but confident as well to sleeve up this deck for the next Legacy tournament.
1st Place at GP Prague Modern on 01/12/2014
The first Grand Prix of the new year has come and gone this past weekend from the historical European capital of Prague in the Czech Republic. The format for this tournament was Modern which since its inception two and a half years ago has been one that always piqued my interest, much like the Extended format which it took its roots from did for me before it. This weekend was another very exciting weekend and Vjeren was able to battle through Moderns rather diverse field to rise to the top and take the first GP crown of the new year. It was great to see Modern in action as it is sorely lacking from this PTQ season since Wizards decided to push the Modern PTQs to the summer. This was also partially a tune up for some players as this is the only big tournament for the format before the Pro Tour in Valencia next month which is also going to have Modern for its constructed portion.
Getting into the deck it is at its core an extremely strong Counter-Burn shell using some of the most powerful elements of control and aggression to take over games and destroy opponents with impunity. The creature suite is centerpieced by a pair of legendary creature with Geist and Clique. They are supported by a pair of one-ofs in Resto Angel and Thundermaw which really help to dominate the skies. But the real synergy comes from a full set of Snapcaster with a plethora of targets to push his value to the limit. A huge burn package starts with the requisite set of Bolt along with a set of Helix, then to top it off Electrolyze which doubles as card draw as well. As if all that burn wasn’t enough there’s a trio of Path to clear away any pesky creature threats. Then we get into the permission package with the versatile Cryptic, tempo play Remand and stock control piece Leak. Put that package together and we get a deck that can really lay out the beats.
So if you are lucky enough to have your local game store host Modern FNMs or are already thinking ahead towards the summers PTQs definitely give this deck high consideration. And even if you don’t think this deck is your style make sure you have it in your gauntlet to be sure you know how to attack it lest it burns you out with a Bolt Snap Bolt GG finish.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Esper mastermind and longtime magic aficionado Shaheen Soorani battled last weekend at the SCG Invitational in Las Vegas to a third place finish. Fighting through a field of 299 qualified participants he was able to slaughter most every mage who stood in his way. The Invitational, much like the Pro Tour, is a multiformat tournament requiring proficiency in both Standard and Legacy to find success. In true Soorani fashion his weapon of choice for both formats was blue, white and black control style concoctions. With the two byes he had been awarded he drudged to a final swiss record of 12-3-1, the last round an intentional bye with Thea Steele to clinch the top 8 berth. The competition was fierce with hard wins against Tom Ross, Tim Landale, Erik Smith and Jeff Hoogland. Some tough losses came at the hands of Matt Nass the last round of day 1 playing for the perfect 8-0 and against eventual winner Max Brown entering the second leg of Legacy putting Shaheen on the ropes fighting to maintain a top positioning. In the top 8 he was immediately put to the test against Brian Brawn-Duin but dispatched him easily in three games but was knocked out by Greg Hatch after a hard fought five game battle.