Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Long Expected Party

Hello Untappers!  It's great to get the chance to start writing again.  I haven't had a moment to sit down and do so in a long time.  But don't worry, I plan to update more regularly.

One of the reasons I decided to post again was a small, but kind-of fun news thing...I was chosen as part of Noel DeCordova's From the Lab's "Pick a Word" contest!  In it, you chose a 3-5 letter word and built a flavor deck with that word in mind.  Each card in your deck (save basic lands) had to start with a letter from your chosen word.  I chose "BLITZ", the German word for "lightning."

Yes, sir.
You can see the rest of the contest winners here.

The world of Magic is on its back right now as Innistrad released yesterday.  The new set of vampires, werewolves and Stephanie Meyer tropes is in full swing.  It's a set that many commentators have declared as the most flavorful set in Magic, and I'm not one to disagree with them.

For me, the new rotation means two things.

First, and most unfortunately, my staple deck for Standard rotates out.  My W/R Ally deck's sun has set; the Zendikar staples served me well throughout the duration of Zendikar legality, back from the Jund and Boss Naya days of Alara/Zendikar to its twilight years swatting CawBlades away.  It was beautiful in its simplicity; the best W/R allies, some Oblivion Rings (which drifted in and out of legality in the middle), some Lightning Bolts and Burst Lightnings, and my 4 Arid Mesas.  Those lands, a staple for most "Spikes" (high-tier tournament mongers), were the crown jewel of my otherwise budget-friendly headband. 

The only reason to crack your Mesa for a Plains.  RIP 2009 - 2011.
I'm putting off de-sleeving it.  The Modern deck I want needs the Mesas, but I'll break the deck a minute.

Second, the format's changed!  I love rotation as a semi-casual player - it's easier for me to manage five sets (M12, SOM block, and Innistrad) then eight (any pre-rotation format).  The card pool is smaller, the power level is (usually) lower, and it's easier to break in.  Since I posted last, I've started getting into Standard more.  That didn't kill the Timmy in me (the casual player), but I'm trying to make tighter decks that are at least marginally competitive while still pleasing the kitchen-table player in me.

I had the fortune to be able to attend the Innistrad pre-release at my local shop, Bluegrass Magic (I'm from Kentucky, if that didn't tell you.)  I've had moderate success there before (came in second in the M12 sealed release), and so I hoped for a repeat.  For those of you have never been to or played in a Sealed Format, it's a LOT of fun.  You get six booster packs, you rip 'em open, and you build your deck, which must be at least 40 cards.  Super random, and super fun!

I have never been lucky enough in all my history of pre-releases (which go back to Dissension in 2006) to pull any real "bombs," and Innistrad was no exception.  No mythic rares, and three irrelevant lands clogged up half my rares.  Bummer.  Nevertheless, in a field of 75ish players, I piloted a Blue/White Human/Spirit thingy to a 3-2 record.  Perfectly fine.

Out of all the new cards I got a chance to play with, one stood heads and shoulders above the rest.

This guy.
In a weenie deck (as mine could be called), he was pretty awesome.  Also, in fun combo-land, I played him with Stitcher's Apprentice, who makes 2/2 Homunculus tokens.  Three mana bought me a card every turn!

Underneath that creepy eye is an Azure Mage.

It was VERY encouraging, however, because many new and tournament-shy players were out to sling some cards.  I love interactive with other casual players in a tournament format, and it's not because I think they'll be softer competition.  If anything, they want to win more for the thrill than the points.  I played several of those kinds of players, and I had a great time!

As the full moon of the new Standard rises, I want to see what changes you all have made to your casual and serious decks alike.  What Standard fun are you brewing for tournaments or the casual game?  I expect to see a lot of good tribal over the next little while, so maybe that's your avenue!

Also, while we're talking about limited, I wanted to say two things.  First, I'm building a cube.

Mine doesn't have a wrap-around window or cupholders, though.
For those of you who DON'T know, a "cube" is a limited player's Victoria's Secret fantasy.  Basically, it's a box of cards that are hand-selected for use in an 8-player draft.  Pick whatever cards you like and balance them as a Magic set would be balance - make sure you have the same amount of cards and power level in every color, add gold cards, artifacts and non-basic lands, and voila!  A cube!  You don't have to keep spending money on those pesky "booster packs," and you can customize the draft however you want.  Want to build a cube of awesome high-level rares that cost too much?  Bring it on!  Want to make a tribal cube with each color supporting one or two tribes?  Sign me up!  Or, if you don't have hundreds of dollars a month for Magic, strong Modern common and uncommons?  Then you've got my cube!

My cube is 360 cards (the bare minimum for an 8 person draft), and it's well on its way to being completed.  It consists of commons and uncommons that begin in 8th Edition and have representatives from every set and block up to and including Innistrad.  If you play at Bluegrass, I'll be bringing it with me whenever I head up there.

For a limited junkie like me, it's the perfect package!

The question I want to leave you with is a fun one.  Your opponent is tapped out and confident.  You are staring at a beautiful piece of cardboard in your fist, and with it you can change the course of the game.  What is that card for you?  In other words, what single card is the most fun card to play?  Not a combo piece or anything like that, but what is your FAVORITE card to play for that giddy little moment when you start tapping your mana for it?


I always hear a tree breaking in half when I play this.
Is it the strongest card?  No.  Is it the easiest card?  No.  Is it always relevant?  Definitely not.

Nevertheless, Overrun is arguably the most fun card in the world to play for me.  It makes me feel like roaring.  Weird, I know. 

Let me know!  Is it Storm Herd? Razia, who is a close second for me?  Obliterate? Last Word, an old college friend's fave? Or perhaps Voidslime...

Let me know in your comments.  Until next time, don't forget to untap!

- Matt