Seedborn, Edric, and Glissa Walk into a Bar . . .
Well, maybe they were in my decks for last week’s casual Magic night. It is practically the same thing.
Game 1 – Sitting in Second with Seedborn
With my Thursday night group, we follow a trend: When the fourth player shows up, we start. Waiting for everyone to arrive is just not an option since most nights, there is at least one person who is supposed to be coming but either doesn’t show up or arrives late. Since the best multiplayer games involve four people, we just start as soon as we have four people. It tends to suck pretty bad for the fifth person if he arrives after the point of no return, but we haven’t found a better way. Just hope that the sixth person arrives soon so at least you can enjoy some one-on-one play while waiting for the game to end.
When the fourth showed up last week, I rolled a d20, and my Seedborn Muse deck was selected:
"Seedborn Muse deck (aka Deck that Needs a Better Name)"
My opening hand doesn’t have the Muse, but that is generally for the best. This deck can come out of the gates really fast, but that rarely turns out well. Any deck that comes out fast must be able to withstand the pressure of the rest of the table coming after you. While this deck is good enough to handle that level of pressure for a while, it will be overwhelmed before it can win. It is far better to start slowly and build up to a strong position. That’s when I drop the Seedborn Muse and just dominate with mana and creatures.
Often, it seems that I am the one who notices Josh’s board before the rest of the table sits up and takes notice. I suspect that isn’t really the case and the rest of the guys at the table are all playing it cool, hoping someone else will blink and deal with Josh first. That isn’t really true tonight, as everyone seems to be onboard. This is probably a good thing, since I take my turn directly after Josh. This means that if I go all out, everyone else is left to decide whether they want to hit me while I’m vulnerable or if they want to follow up with another hit on Josh. Thankfully, everyone is focused on Josh.
As everyone is pounding on Josh, I drop Rhystic Study.1 Soon after, I put Wonder into play, practically ensuring that no one attacks me. My group still hasn’t adapted the metagame to deal with graveyards. It is coming, but until it does, my graveyard rarely is touched. Since Josh is recurring cards all over the place, I know that any graveyard removal will go at him. Everyone else seems to understand this, too, so they aren’t eager to attack me and see Wonder go to the graveyard.
At this point, no one knows I am running Seedborn Muse, but they do know I am running G/U. Everyone playing assumes I will have huge green creatures in play soon, and no one sees a reason to give them the evasion that Wonder in my graveyard will provide. Besides, everyone is still dealing with Josh.
This seems like a good time, so I get up and drop the first pizza in the oven. I almost always have a couple of pizzas ready for Thursday Night Magic.2 Pizzas are easy and predictable, so the rest of the group knows what is there and will plan accordingly. I know getting up from the table will probably cost me a couple of cards from Rhystic Study, but everyone is getting hungry, and it is important to be the good host. Besides, leaving the table for a bit tends to reduce the chances of being attacked. Admittedly a dirty trick, but it is more of a fringe benefit than the reason to leave the table.
She hits the table with little fanfare, and neither Eric nor Jesse even flinch. Jesse is probably aiming to mill me out of the game or he knows he can’t possibly win with his fun, facedown creature deck, so the Seedborn Muse means little to him. It was unlikely Eric had anything that could have stopped me from playing the Muse. To top it all off, the only cards on the table that benefit from untapping every turn are a fully leveled Enclave Cryptologist and Coalition Relic. While I have several other cards that benefit from untapping every turn, for now, I am mostly looking at the ability to untap and defend myself after attacking someone.
It is for moments like this that I am considering adding Magic 2013’s Sands of Delirium. The deck has no milling in it, but when a Seedborn Muse hits the table, having another mana dump on the table that would probably take out a single opponent all on its own is a significant benefit.
Since Eric is the biggest threat to me, I decide he needs to be the next out. His board has several creatures, and only one of them flies. It shouldn’t take more than a turn or two to eliminate him. One of the cards I draw from the Rhystic Study is the always-disappointing Terastodon. For whatever reason, every time I draw it, I work out which three creatures I am going to take out, and then realize as I cast it that it says “noncreature permanent.” A lame enchantment and two nonbasic lands later, Eric has three irrelevant Elephants and only two sources of blue mana.
On my next turn, I attack Eric with more than enough to kill him off. Eric regularly has something in hand to limit damage, so attacking with some overkill is usually the best play. This time, he has nothing in hand, and it is down to just me and Jesse. I’ve seen enough of his morph creatures to know the only real threat to me is a Willbender. I attack him with enough to finish him off, and an Ascending Aven chump-blocks, giving Jesse another turn. He draws nothing, and I end the game, setting off a discussion about who is playing in the Commander game and who is sticking with sixty-card decks.
Moral: Being in second place is the best place to be . . . right until the end.
Eric and John have new Commander decks, and Josh prefers Commander, so that is three already. George is in the process of moving, so his cards are packed away. Eric is the first to offer him a deck, so he gets into the Commander as well.
Game 2 – Fun Failure without Foundation
That leaves me, Jesse, and Aaron to battle it out in three-player games on the folding table. Aaron is a photographer and has started bringing his camera to Magic nights. Aaron gets all the credit for the photography.
This is me, with the poetic Magic shirt, and Jesse.3 Jesse is a lover of eclectic decks (as evidenced by the morph deck in the last game) and unusual formats. He owns all the Planechase cards (including a copy of Tazeem) that we use in our games and is a bottomless pit of knowledge about cards and the Magic storyline. He provides all the Magic content on CastlesandCooks.com, an amazing combination of food and fantasy that is unavailable anywhere else on the Internet.
This game just never works out the way I hoped. Aaron manages to bring out an early Wall of Denial, and a couple of other defensive spells make it extremely difficult to attack him. Jesse and I know that attacking each other would only make it even harder for the remaining player to take on Aaron, so the game drags on with each of us improving our board position, and then attempting to break through Aaron’s defenses.
Jesse is running R/G/W old school with Rith, The Awakener and Armadillo Cloak as a few of the featured cards. He has a bit of a slow start, but his deck starts to come alive once Aaron’s attempts to mill my deck start to be concerning.
When I draw Revenge of the Hunted, I see my opening. I look at playing it, targeting my largest creature (a Mycoloth with two +1/+1 counters), which would take out most of his defenders while the rest of my creatures attacked unimpeded. I wait several turns, playing out more creatures, and try to craft a position from which I could really hurt him. On the turn I decide to attack, I realize that I am about to do it wrong. The better play is to target a Saproling token with the Revenge of the Hunted, letting the Mycoloth be one of the creatures that would make it through through unblocked. Neither the Mycoloth nor the Saproling was going to get trample damage over all of his blockers, so that was irrelevant.
I look at the totals and realize this attack will put him out of the game! I play the Revenge and wait, expecting Aaron to counter it. It is obvious that I am going to attack him and that the attack would probably be fatal, but he doesn’t respond. I attack, and before we start to total up the damage, he plays Moment's Peace.
Aaron and Jesse battle back and forth, with the game going on longer than I expected. Aaron is milling him out as well, but Jesse fights through the Moment's Peaces and starts to do some real damage before he is milled out as well.
Moral: If your deck is crap . . .
Game 3 – Fun Failure with Only Foundation
The last game is somewhat anticlimactic for me. I am quickly out of the game, running a neutered Glissa deck that just doesn’t have enough power to really do anything.
The highlight of the game, for me, happens when I drop a Tropical Island, and then play a Birds of Paradise. On the next turn, I play a second Tropical Island. Aaron notices the two dual lands and no other lands and starts the jokes about the “high roller.” I smile since I know what is in my hand. I play out a Forest on the next turn, and then the fun starts. Over the next four turns, I play four more lands:
Moral: A baller mana base alone doesn’t win games.
1 I have said how much I hate this card—you are reminding your opponents every time they play spells that you are drawing a card. In this situation, though, I can get away with it for a little while. With Josh as the primary threat, people are okay with me drawing extra cards since everything I draw is going to go toward killing Josh. Admittedly, if I happen to draw a creature with all those extra draws, and Josh doesn’t kill it, that leaves me with plenty of benefit even after Josh’s demise . . .
3 For the particularly sharp-eyed, that is a framed Overgrown Tomb print on the wall behind us. Rob Alexander’s original title for the art was City of the Dead. How wonderful is my wife for agreeing to frame and hang a picture called City of the Dead in our living room?