The Mana Pool
Join Brian, Mike, Dirk and Chewie as they discuss all things Magic: The Gathering. Since there are plenty of tournament and strategy podcasts out there, we've decided to focus on the fun of the game in all its many forms, from Prereleases to multiplayer free-for-alls to whatever else we can come up with. Give us a listen!

Just made it in before 2011!  On this episode we take a look at some listener mail, check out how Worlds ended this year (complete with a quick look at some of the decks in the Top 8), take a look at the nonsense surrounding the next two Magic expansions, and talk about the recent rules changes to EDH (or Commander if you prefer). 

Then we have the Black installment of the Core Set: Mana Pool Edition.  This time we have 6 staples from my favorite color!  I've typed about this several times before, so if you have no idea what I'm talking about, check the last few episodes.  I hope you guys enjoy it, and we'll see you again next year!


Intro Music - Diamond by Swift - http://www.swift-band.com
Break Music - Brinstar from Metroid by Hirokazu Tanaka - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirokazu_Tanaka

Forum thread for this episode: http://cardshark.freeforums.org/episode-158-the-last-show-of-2010-t617.html
Check out our archive at http://themanapool.libsyn.com
Email us at themanapool@cardshark.com
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Visit Cardshark! http://www.cardshark.com
Read Chewie's 60 Card Challenge blog posts at http://themanapool.libsyn.com/category/60%20Card%20Challenge
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Direct download: Episode_158_-_The_Last_Show_of_2010.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:25pm EST

Just in time for Christmas, it's a late episode!  Sweet!  This episode has a lot of stuff going on, starting with emails covering everything from subliminal messages to holiday habits. Then we have news, which is really not news anymore but it's our take on these news items.  We've got the big Commander announcement, some decks from the Star City Invitational, and a quick rant about Tomoharu Saito's non-induction to the Hall of Fame and how little Wizards said about it.

Then there's a brief musical interlude and we go right back into Core Set: Mana Pool Edition.  In case you don't remember, Brian came up with this idea a while back.  For each color, he came up with six things that each color always does all the time, which I refer to as "staples".  Then each of us took this list of staples and found cards to fit them.  The catch is that each card we choose must be one that has never been printed in a Core Set.  Easy, right?  Well this time we're taking on Blue, and we've got lots of interesting choices.  Let us know what you think or what you'd throw in a Core Set.


Intro Music - Diamond by Swift - http://www.swift-band.com
Break Music - Zeromus by The Black Mages - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Mages

Forum thread for this episode: http://cardshark.freeforums.org/episode-157-blue-with-a-splash-of-news-t615.html
Check out our archive at http://themanapool.libsyn.com
Email us at themanapool@cardshark.com
Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/themanapool
Visit Cardshark! http://www.cardshark.com
Read Chewie's 60 Card Challenge blog posts at http://themanapool.libsyn.com/category/60%20Card%20Challenge
Cardshark Member Promotions: http://www.cardshark.com/Promotions/Member-Promotions.aspx
Subscribe to our RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/themanapool

Direct download: Episode_157_-_Blue_with_a_Splash_of_News.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:40pm EST

60CC - The Chuck Deck!

 

There you guys are! I've been looking everywhere for you! Where have you been for the last 4 months? I've had this decklist and discussion ready to go all this time. Geez, so much for loyalty in readership.

Okay, you got me. I primarily worked on these 60 Card Challenge posts at work during lunch and breaks. Then work picked up and ran, and my computer got co-opted for use on the production floor, so I wasn't able to do it there anymore. And when I got home the last thing I wanted to do was sit in front of a computer again.

But now I'm unemployed and have nothing but time on my hands, so here I am to start writing again! In my time thus far without a job, I've been watching lots of movies, and I just watched the one that originally inspired this next deck. In 2003, Ang Lee released a masterpiece, his take on Marvel's Green Goliath, Hulk. When I saw Hulk pick up a tank by the turret, spin around, and let it go hammer throw style, I knew I had to do that for myself. After throwing my back out and spending a while in the hospital with gamma radiation poisoning, I decided perhaps an exact duplication wasn't such a good idea. So I turned to Magic, and thus was born the Chuck Deck!

Okay, you got me again. There's no way this cinematic bucket of fail inspired anything other than an early bowel movement. The only good things about that movie, other than the one action sequence where Hulk chucks the tank, were the casting of the Ross family (Jennifer Connelly and Sam Elliot – holy crap!) and Lou Ferrigno's cameo. The 2008 version was superior in almost every way (except the casting of Betty Ross – Liv Tyler can't hold a candle to the aforementioned Connelly).

The real inspiration for the deck, as far as I can remember anyway, was my friend Corey's Sneak Attack deck. He would Sneak out something terrifying, like you're supposed to, then he would use Fling to get double duty out of his poor doomed creature. Since I wasn't playing back during Stronghold, I had never seen Fling before, and I was impressed. I started trying to come up with ways to maximize the usefulness of Fling without just making my own Sneak Attack deck (that and I couldn't afford a set of them at the time, I was a broke college student). The deck has come a long way from its original incarnation. If you'd like to see it, check it out at Cardshark, coming to you all the way from 2005!
http://www.cardshark.com/Articles/Magic-the-Gathering/Chewie!-Slate/CardShark-Content/View-Article/3648

But that's not where we're starting now. Here's the decklist as it stood before I did work for the 60 Card Challenge.


Chuck!
Creatures
3 Bloodshot Cyclops
3 Bloodmark Mentor
3 Thunderblust
2 Ball Lightning
2 Blistering Firecat
2 Spitebellows
3 Torpid Moloch
2 Firemaw Kavu
2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Homura, Human Ascendant
1 Brion Stoutarm

Noncreatures
3 Soul's Fire
2 Fling
2 Grab the Reins
2 Grafted Wargear
2 Rage Reflection
1 Elemental Appeal
1 In the Web of War
4 Seething Song

Land
17 Mountain
4 Boros Garrison
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle


Compared to the older decklist on Cardshark, I notice I've gone more heavily into the theme at the expense of utility. Huh. But that's not what I'm here to talk about! As far as what the deck does, it's pretty straightforward. I play creatures with a high power-to-cost ratio and then I toss them at my opponents. Ball Lightning and Blistering Firecat are the poster children for this. Elemental Appeal is another one that has the possibility of being super huge in the late game. Torpid Moloch is a good early drop, plus he can do a wonderful impression of a Lightning Bolt when necessary. Thunderblust is great because it won't die at end of turn and I can get two uses out of it. Speaking of double usage, Spitebellows is another great addition. I can Evoke it at half price, then respond to the sacrifice trigger by chucking it, doing six damage from the chuck and six damage from its ability. Or I can just play it at normal cost so it'll sit there until I need it, then get the double damage for chucking it. Firemaw Kavu gets triple usage if I chuck it, but sadly it costs way too much to have more than two copies.

Of course, the Bloodshot Cyclops is the centerpiece of the deck. As I said way back in that Cardshark article – in the Chuck deck, he's Chuck. Backing him up are Fling, Grab the Reins, and Brion Stoutarm, who has the added bonus of Lifelink. The latest addition is the Fling-less Fling, Soul's Fire. For just a single mana more, you get to keep your creature! It's amazing!

When Magic 2010 changed the way combat worked, this deck took a major nosedive. No longer could I assign damage from a blocked Ball Lightning, then chuck it at someone's face for double the damage. I had almost given up hope when I realized I could give everyone first strike with a two-cost goblin. Thanks to Duels of the Planeswalkers on the Xbox Live Arcade for reminding me of this little dude. To really break things open in the late game, I added in some Rage Reflection for double strike to make my hasty beaters even more terrifying. Of course, this doesn't completely bring the deck back to its former power level, but nothing ever will. So why cry about it? Evolve or die, right?

Kiki-Jiki allows for some great trickiness. Why attack with a single Ball Lightning when I can attack with a pair? If nothing else, I can copy the Bloodshot Cyclops and have it chuck itself at an opponent or creature before my turn starts. Homura is there to be chucked and make all my guys pseudo-Shivans. Definitely a bargain at six mana. In the Web of War is another singleton that is just too good to not have in here. All my swing-and-die guys get a power pump! And there's Grafted Wargear, which is really just a free boost to chuck damage. Play a Ball Lightning, equip for free, and swing for nine damage! Then Fling it at an opponent for nine more! Yay! Oh no, I have to sacrifice the creature if it becomes unattached? Big deal, the only ones I'll attach it to are the ones that are destined to die anyway! Ha!

So what did I end up doing to this 64 card deck? First off, I wasn't happy with the mana base. The set of Boros Garrison was there purely for Brion Stoutarm, but the two never seemed to come out at the same time. Well that's an easy enough fix. While I'm looking at the lands, I wasn't happy with the Valakut pair. I originally wanted them in for some late game creature control, but I found a deck better suited to a pair of Valakut, so they had to come out. Of course, I recently realized I have three others in my binder (no idea how) so they might make their way back to the deck after some more playing. Either way, five Mountains replaced the six removed lands to bring the land count back to the base of 22, the number all my decks reverted to during the 60 Card Challenge. I'll see how they run from there and adjust as needed for each one of course.

But that's only two cards down. I keep looking at Torpid Moloch. He's excellent to have on the first three turns or so, but after that he becomes somewhat silly. Sure he's great if I can get him out on the first turn and then chuck him at a blocker once he's useless, but is he really worth the slot in the deck? I don't think so. So out they come, and now I'm five cards down.

Now there's the matter of Seething Song. Don't get me wrong, I love Seething Song, I really do. But it seemed to me that EVERY time I drew it, it was either early in the game where it only did me a tiny bit of good, or late in the game when I was really hoping for a something else. And if the acceleration isn't accelerating, then it needs to be removed, which is exactly what I did. But now we're nine cards down, and I need to find something else to go in.

First off, I finally tracked down another copy of Soul's Fire, so that has to go right in. The loss of the extra Chuck (Brion Stoutarm) means I should probably put another Fling back in to maximize the creature-tossing. For the last hole, I wanted something I could recur that would have some effect on the board. I had just recently acquired a Magma Phoenix, and it fit that bill wonderfully. I can chuck it at an opponent or a larger creature and the big Pyroclasm will do even more damage, wiping out anything with a toughness of three or less. The deck has a bit of a problem with swarms of small creatures, so this will help out a little bit. And if I need to I can always bring it back for more board-wiping fun! I also realized the deck had absolutely no acceleration or deck-thinning of any sort. So to help that out a bit, I dug up a pair of Chartooth Cougars for just that purpose. Plus they can attack and block and have firebreathing, which goes so well with Fling and its ilk.

As usual, here's a concise retelling of the changes made:


-4 Boros Garrison
-1 Brion Stoutarm
-2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
+5 Mountain
-3 Torpid Moloch
-4 Seething Song
+1 Soul's Fire
+1 Fling
+1 Magma Phoenix


And the deck in its full finished state can be found right here:


Chuck!
Creatures
3 Bloodshot Cyclops
3 Bloodmark Mentor
3 Thunderblust
2 Ball Lightning
2 Blistering Firecat
2 Spitebellows
2 Firemaw Kavu
2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
2 Chartooth Cougar
1 Magma Phoenix
1 Homura, Human Ascendant

Noncreatures
4 Soul's Fire
3 Fling
2 Grab the Reins
2 Grafted Wargear
2 Rage Reflection
1 Elemental Appeal
1 In the Web of War

Land
22 Mountain


So now comes the final analysis. I noticed that my white splash was completely silly, so I took it out. In a deck with this many red mana symbols, trying to splash one white card just wasn't worth it to me. Of course I'm going to miss the life gain, so it's possible that an artifact source of life gain might come in at some point. I was thinking maybe Loxodon Warhammer, but that's too expensive. There's always Basilisk Collar, but I don't have any more of those past the ones in my previously-written-about Sgt. Chewie's Howling Commandos deck. There are other possibilities that could help the deck in a variety of ways. Elixir of Immortality can gain some life and reuse all my one-shot spells. Angelheart Vial can gain some life and draw cards, two things that Red usually doesn't do so well. Paradise Plume can gain some life and get the deck ahead on mana. Let me know if you, dear readers, think any of these are decent ideas.

Then there's the matter of the recently-discovered copies of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle in my binder. I think they might return to the deck since they only have the very minor downside of entering the battlefield tapped, yet their upside in the late game is staggering. If I don't have any other uses for them, they might go back in after I post this.

I'm also still unsure about the lack of true acceleration. One-shot acceleration just doesn't do much for me, which is why Seething Songs and Dark Rituals are missing from virtually all my decks. There's really no long-term acceleration in red. There are cards like Wayfarer's Bauble and Solemn Simulacrum that would definitely help though. The problem that always comes is that in order to have these boons like life gain or mana acceleration is that something else must be cut to make room. But that's what this whole 60 Card Challenge is all about!

I hope you all enjoyed my return to the blogosphere. Again, if any of you reading this have any ideas then please feel free to let me know. I'm always up for suggestions.

Category:60 Card Challenge -- posted at: 3:16am EST

Other than the random technical issues that caused us to start late, caused Mike to sound funny this entire episode, and caused Brian to be muted for most of the episode, it went off without a hitch!  We went over a mess of emails, then did the White section of Brian's Core Set: Mana Pool Edition.  And to go along with the White section of that, Brian requested an Out of the Deck Box for Mike's mono-green mana ramp deck.

Yeah, it made no sense to us either.  Check the forum post for this episode for the deck list as usual.  Hope you guys enjoy!


Intro Music - Diamond by Swift - http://www.swift-band.com

Forum thread for this episode: http://cardshark.freeforums.org/episode-156-white-with-a-splash-of-green-t614.html
Check out our archive at http://themanapool.libsyn.com
Email us at themanapool@cardshark.com
Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/themanapool
Visit Cardshark! http://www.cardshark.com
Read Chewie's 60 Card Challenge blog posts at http://themanapool.libsyn.com/category/60%20Card%20Challenge
Cardshark Member Promotions: http://www.cardshark.com/Promotions/Member-Promotions.aspx
Subscribe to our RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/themanapool

Direct download: Episode_156_-_White_with_a_Splash_of_Green.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:28pm EST

Episode 155 - Scars Intro Packs Live!

What's that?  A live episode?  Where did this come from?  Well honestly it came from Brian's house, but that's not important.  Due to a lack of Dirk during this episode's recording, Brian decided Mike and I should roll over there to play his newly-bought Scars of Mirrodin Intro Packs.  He had Myr of Mirrodin, Metalcraft, and Phyrexian Poison.  We played a three-man game, then traded decks and did it again, then traded again and did it one more time.  It was a lot of fun, and you'll get to hear some of our usual nonsense, including me trying to coax Brian's wife to actually say something on the air.  Spoiler alert - it doesn't work.

If you want to know what's in the decks, check here:
http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/arcana/547


Intro Music - Diamond by Swift - http://www.swift-band.com

Forum thread for this episode: http://cardshark.freeforums.org/episode-155-scars-intro-packs-live-t611.html
Check out our archive at http://themanapool.libsyn.com
Email us at themanapool@cardshark.com
Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/themanapool
Visit Cardshark! http://www.cardshark.com
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Cardshark Member Promotions: http://www.cardshark.com/Promotions/Member-Promotions.aspx
Subscribe to our RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/themanapool

Direct download: Episode_155_-_Scars_Intro_Packs_Live.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:17pm EST