Sunday, July 20, 2008

Enchantments And Other Cards

Another one about my Magic: The Gathering decks. Non-gamers, move along - nothing to see here except the picture at the bottom.

The active deck count currently stands at 16. Yes, sixteen fully built, ready-to-shuffle-and-play decks are sitting on a shelf a few feet away from me. This is neither necessary nor rational.

Last weekend, I bought my customary couple of packs from Crave Manga. One pack of Planar Chaos held a very nice surprise - two rares! Neither was foil, so I'm stumped as to why there were two rares in the pack. If memory serves, one took the place of an uncommon (i.e., the pack only had two uncommons in it). Even better, they were both very good rares: Gaea's Anthem, and Akroma, Angel of Fury. (As always, if you want a look at a card I mention, type its name into Gatherer's search field. I'd link to each card's individual entry, but I'm lazy.)

This reminds me of a time a few years back when the local card shop I frequented had a box from some set - based solely on the timeframe, it would have been around Prophecy's release - whose packs contained far more foil cards than normal. Foil cards normally show up once every few packs. However, packs from this box routinely contained two to five foils each! The patrons of that store were more players than collectors, so nobody got especially excited over this (i.e., nobody snapped up all the packs just for the foils), but it was interesting.

Sidebar for the uninitiated (as though any of you have read this entry this far):"foils" are normal Magic cards in every respect except that they are shiny. They're printed with reflective metallic inks, so they catch the light and look pretty. There have been foil versions of every card since the late 1990s. They're inserted randomly into packs, usually taking the place of a common card no matter what the rarity level of the foil card is (maybe I'll go extra-basic sometime and explain Magic's rarity system). They have the same art, same backs, and same rules text as a normal card. Some collectors like them, and they're worth more on the secondary market than their non-foil equivalents. Some players consider a foil-heavy deck something of a status symbol. Others - like me - don't care about them, and would be just as happy with the regular version of the card. The good thing is that if you feel that way, you can usually trade your foil card for a copy of the regular version plus more.

So, here's what's happened to our decks since I last wrote about Magic. My wife took the red / white Giants & Kithkin deck and the Warrior's Code preconstructed deck and merged them into a red / green Giant Warriors deck. The Kithkin (in fact, all the white cards) have been evicted, and will soon be used for a Kithkin / Soldier deck I have in mind. In tuning this deck, we also had to scavenge some Plains out of one of our Shadowmoor decks, which meant removing all the corresponding white cards (I left most of the hybrid cards that included white), but the deck itself survived. This new Giant Warriors deck is the first deck that my wife has taken the lead in building, and it's quite effective.

I also built the Plague Spitter deck I'd been planning for a while. It's black and white, built around (surprise!) Plague Spitters, lifelink-granting enchantments (Spirit Link, Vampiric Link, Soul Link), Sadistic Glees and an assortment of "destroy target creature" effects, damage prevention / reduction (Urza's Armor, Rune of Protection: Black, Lashknife Barrier, etc.) and creatures with protection from black (Obsidian Acolyte, Duskrider Peregrine, etc.).

It's also got a few lose life / draw cards effects (Phyrexian Rager & Gargantua, Minion's Murmurs). They're all in there because I'm pretty much incapable of building a deck without at least a little card advantage. I'd toss Necropotence or Yawgmoth's Bargain into this deck if I owned either, but I don't, and won't pay as much for singles as they cost. Some graveyard recursion is also a must for my decks, so this one includes cards like Recover and Disturbed Burial.

Necropotent sidebar: I distinctly remember the first time I saw Necropotence. It was in the early days of Ice Age's release, and Ice Age was very hard to get. I had only been able to get a few booster packs at my store. None of us had so much as seen the new Ice Age rules, so we were even guessing at what Cumulative Upkeep meant. Al Gore hadn't quite finished inventing the Internet yet, so you couldn't just go online to look things up.

When somebody opened up a pack with a Necropotence, we all gathered around to read its tiny text - and were thoroughly unimpressed. Why would anybody ever play a card that made you skip your draw step, then pay life to get new cards into your hand? This junk rare was tossed aside and forgotten so that we could return to discussing Arcum's Whistle and Gorilla Pack.

About fifteen minutes passed before one of the gathered players said, "Hey, guys? It doesn't say anything about only using it for one card a turn." The light came on as we realized you could empty your hand, then refill it at a cost of a few life. Add in some life gain (we all still played our Thrones of Bone back in those days), and maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

As it turned out, that was an understatement. Veteran Magic players will remember the Black Summer when Necro decks completely dominated the serious tournament scene. Then, just as we all breathed a sigh of relief when its day seemed to end (so we could play different decks and still have a shot at winning), Wizards reprinted it in the base set. Yeesh.

Our other two new decks are both based on the Odyssey repacks and grab bags I talked about last time. I separated them by colour, then took all the black cards, threw in some Swamps, and called it a deck. I got the Swamps by taking all the black cards out of our 10th Edition common decks, which are now down to just green and blue. The new black deck hasn't been played yet, so I have no comments on its performance, although it looks like it has far too many cards that focus on removing cards from graveyards to be effective. I also took all the red and white cards, saw that neither colour would be able to stand on its own as a deck, and mixed them all together with some Plains and Mountains. Again, it hasn't been playtested yet.

Our current deck roster looks like this:

- Plague Spitters (black / white)
- Cantrips (blue / green)
- 10th Edition Commons (blue / green) - we have two of these, identical.
- Rebels & Soldiers (white / black)
- Thallids (green with splashes of black and white)
- Black (no real theme, although it has a lot of discard)
- Elementals (red)
- Shadowmoor I (a tournament pack and booster, shuffled together and untuned other than removing the white)
- Shadowmoor II (another tournament pack, shuffled and mostly untuned)
- Giants Warriors (red / green)
- Slivers & Other Multicolour (all five colours)
- Merfolk (blue / white)
- Odyssey & Grab Bag Green (all the green cards from my recent grab bag / repack order)
- Odyssey & Grab Bag Black (all the black cards from my recent grab bag / repack order)
- Odyssey & Grab Bag Red & White (all the red and white cards from my recent grab bag / repack order)

Note that we have no Odyssey & Grab Bag Blue deck - this is solely because I don't have the spare Islands to build one. That will change soon. I just placed another order with Magic Arsenal and included 40 to 60 of each basic land type. Plus, of course, a bunch more repacks, grab bags, and bulk assortments. I'll probably write about those when they arrive.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of a chain-link fence and A Bit Of Finger.

1 comment:

RebelAngel said...

The hubby here has a favorite Necropotence deck. I still cannot fully wrap my mind around exactly what goes on. I just avoid playing against it. Last time I lost to it I was left sitting there with a dazed look on my face.

Not all that different from normal, but more so.