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
Hey MTGers! I want to start with an apology for not posting much of anything in the last 2 months. I’ve been very busy with a course for my career and have been working at a summer camp helping to mentor a number of counsellors. It was a super rewarding two months, but it has meant that I haven’t been able to write much. Don’t worry, I’ve been playing plenty of Magic and have lots of ideas for some budget friendly decks, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down to write. With the new school year upon us, it’s time to get back into my routines and that includes writing. So, let’s get down to business.
One of the side effects to working at a summer camp is that there always seems to be people who want to play Magic. Some of the older campers have brought their cards and that’s fun because they get a kick out of playing with the counsellors or anyone else who happens to be around. I had a special invitation to come down and play once a bunch of campers figured I played too and they had a ball. It was fun and helped me to remember how much fun this game is and the wonder that you can experience just to watch and see what other people decide to do when they play. It was very refreshing and lots of fun.
While playing with the campers was tons of fun, some of the staff had decided to try and pick up the game as well. They were interested in more than just playing, but they wanted to learn how to play and play well. A number of them expressed an interest in learning how to draft and I jumped at the opportunity. I love to draft and I’m very willing to take the time to help people learn to draft. I’m no master, but I’m certainly good enough to help them with the fundamentals.
One of the other guys had a box of Dragons of Tarkir and we all agreed to take a first stab at that. I know it isn’t the official format, but it was easy and fun and made for a good night. Over the course of the evening I had to stop a number of the other guys and ask about their picks, their decks, and generally what their strategies were. I likely drafted the most busted Limited deck I’ve ever seen and amassed a whopping 9 rare cards in my pile, of which 7 of them were on colour. Needless to say, I pretty well smashed the other guys around, but I made a point of helping them clean up their deck at each game, talk better lines of play, and generally about how to draft. As a complete aside, I have renewed respect for the B/R Dash deck that you can draft. The combination of Pitiless Horde and Sprinting Warbrute won me games out of nowhere and were tons of fun.
Well, a week later I took a day off and picked up a box of Magic Origins and we drafted a second time. This time the guys were much better prepared and we had some really fun games. Every guy in the room had a much improved showing and a much more reliable draft deck and the games were much more balanced. My record was much less good as I went a respectable 3-3 (down from the 6-0 the week earlier) but I was happier because the guys felt like they had better decks.
My comments on the Draft format of Origins is that it feels really fast. I had a very solid G/B deck with some very solid cards, plenty of good removal, and a solid curve. However, if I stumbled out of the gate at all I was severely punished and often could not come back. I seemed to stumble more regularly than usual and was a little bummed out about that part because it doesn’t really make for good Magic, but it is part of the game and I had to take my lumps too. Reave Soul was undoubtedly the best card in my deck and I did not feel the least bit bad about firing it off at the first Renown creature I saw hit the table. Dark Petition was an interesting take on a tutor effect, but it was hardly spectacular. Was it useful? Yes. But I’m not going to lie to you and claim that it was awesome. I often used it to search up a removal spell, but often did not have enough mana to use it on the same turn due largely to the speed of the format. However, I did really enjoy the draft and I liked the chance to sit down and teach some keen players some of the fundamentals.
I am always on the lookout for a fun new budget deck that can surprise a few people. I know that everyone needs to keep their wallet in mind and this one is super easy on the wallet and has been surprisingly potent. Let’s take a peak.
When Magic Origins was spoiled, Archangel of Tithes immediately got noticed and there was some measure of discussion of a Mono-White deck that might be able to get a little toe hold. Mono-White is indeed a thing and seems to be badly underrepresented, but could certainly make some noise. I decided that the Devotion style of Mono-White deck doesn’t really have enough of a payoff to warrant leaning on devotion. If Heliod is your big payoff it sort of feels like a big let down because he just doesn’t do enough and his activated ability for the Cleric token is very expensive. Instead, Mono-White needs to rely on having a strong start, curving out and then overwhelming your opponent as you pump your creatures with some sort of trick. It is a very simple and direct strategy, but certainly can get the job done.
Here is the list I’ve been using:
More than just about any deck I’ve ever built, this one is super important to curve out or you’ll be dead in the water. When this deck comes together you have a turn two Lightwalker, a Turn Three Outcast and a Turn four Skycaptain. This puts you in pretty good shape to move to the offensive and start putting the hurt to your opponent. Things get really crazy when you land a Citadel Siege and can start pumping your guys each turn, but if you don’t find the Siege Echoes of the Kin Tree can play a similar role, just much less efficiently. The impact that Elite Scaleguard can have on the game can be tremendous if your opponent can’t answer it quickly and makes for a very powerful Turn five play as well.
The biggest weaknesses with this deck is the removal package and the fact that if you curve out and your opponent isn’t on the back foot because they have had answers you are in big trouble. Magic Origins offers some help on the removal front with Swift Reckonning and Celestial Flare instead of the very bulky Enduring Victory. I still have no solution for when you end up going into top deck mode because you have run out of gas. White rarely gets to draw cards and this is indeed a very real issue because almost every other colour can replenish their hand through some sort of mechanism.
Now, there are countless substitutions out their that could improve the general card quality of the deck and likely speed it up. Echoes of the Kin Tree is cheap, but it is also inefficient to use, so obviously another Citadel Siege would be preferable. I feel like the Eidolon of Countless Battles doesn’t offer much, but I’m not sure what I would rather play in its place. If I drop an Echoes of the Kin Tree and the Eidolon I would have room for a pair of Topan Freeblade, or perhaps just replace the Lightwalkers all together and go with 4 Freeblades. Glaring Aegis is hardly a frightening card and could stand to be upgraded, but the pseudo evasion it offers is nice and can help push through the final points of damage. There are lots of other things you could be doing too, but this is just a budget friendly starting point. Feel free to experiment and make it your own.
This list, as simple as it looks, has helds its own against many decks. It seems to fare best against Midrange decks. Control decks can wipe away the creature base and then win by virtue of card advantage, and the W/R token decks just swarm over and outnumber the deck, but against many others you can have a solid game plan. Great Teachers Decree is a blow out for sure and has helped me to win many games on the spot. Don’t overlook this relatively simple deck. It packs a mean punch and is very easy on the old wallet.
Thanks for taking the time to stop in and have a read. Like I said, I’ll be getting back into the routine of writing more now that the summer is winding down and things are getting back into their routines. So, until next time, take care and have yourself a fun MTG day!
The unsung hero, the guy who never gets the credit, who always stands in the background, that nobody ever knows. I think that there are several of these in standard right now that aren’t getting any attention and probably should. Some of them even have the word hero in their name. The most recent of these hero’s is the Hero of Iroas, which was previewed to us on January 14th. This card is a powerhouse for a deck I’ve been building over the last couple of months.
A Mono-White Heroic/Control deck.
It’s a recipe that pretty much built itself. But I’ll take you through my little process anyway. I started with my old standard white deck which used control elements of Pacifism, Oblivion Ring, and Fiend Hunter to keep my opponents board clear until I could get the soldier engine of Captain of the Watch and Conjurer’s Closet online with Cathars’ Crusade, and with Odric, Master Tactician as the blowout card. The deck was oppressive and took second place at M14’s Game Day at my LGS. But when Innistrad and M13 rotated out I lost access to a lot of that and the deck sat collecting dust until I saw Fabled Hero. This card was going to be the new champion for the deck and from that point construction came easy.
After I had established the control back into the deck I needed to figure out how best I could use Fabled Hero’s Heroic ability. Ordeal of Heliod seemed to be a nice choice, first for making him bigger and second for giving the extra life to survive Mono-Red Aggro and Mono-Black Control decks. After that the next one that stood out was a gem of a common in RTR and that was Ethereal Armor. And given all of the enchantments I was looking at for our control suite it only made sense. Not that First Strike mattered with Fabled Hero, but you can imagine how nasty that enchantment could get once you’ve locked down your opponents board with enchantment control. Next I thought of the Gift of Orzhova. Throwing that on a Fabled Hero just seemed very rude to me. A 4/4 Flying, Double Strike, Life Link? Definitely rude, but nearly as rude as the last aura that came to mind and that was Holy Mantle. Protection from Creatures on a creature with Double Strike and Heroic? Sign me up please!
But all of that gets better with one of our latest preview cards and another hero. Hero of Iroas. A 2/2 body that makes aura spells cheaper to cast by one colorless mana and also has Heroic as a +1/+1 counter. So not only does he make things cheaper to cast, but he wears those auras well too! I can’t believe how well this guy fits into the mold of this deck. Noting that Pacifism, Soul Tithe, and Arrest are all aura’s too. It really can’t get any better.
So I can’t wait for this new hero to show up and join the ones that are already sitting and waiting on the sidelines waiting to be heard. Sing it loud my unsung heros!
~ Gerald Knight
Below is a sample decklist that I took to my LGS the other night to play casually, keeping in mind there is no Hero of Iroas in it. It had a total game record of 11-1 against Mono Blue Devotion, Mono Black Control, White Weenie and Blue-White Heroic, losing only to the Heroic deck once.