The Mana Pool (60 card challenge)
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!
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 EDT

60CC - Sgt. Chewie's Howling Commandos


Attention!  Listen up, rookie!  You have just been dropped into the latest 60 Card Challenge of the Dominarian Armed Forces!  I am going to whip you into shape or you'll die trying!  You hear me maggot?!?!

 

You goldbricks have it easy these days!  Back in my day we didn't have such amazing leadership!  If you wanted to be inspired to do better in battle, you had to wait for the angels to belt out a Glorious Anthem or go on a Crusade!  That's not even military!  Back then, the army was more of a militia, real men working to keep back the goblin horde or fend off those prissy little elvish buggers.  We used whatever we could find on our way to each hard-fought victory.

 

And then came the Onslaught.  By the gods those were great days.  The first of the Daru Warchiefs stepped up then, infusing all of us soldiers with a sort of holy strength.  There were Mobilizations going on all over the place, keeping us ever vigilant and increasing our numbers.  The Aven Brigadier took command, but he was partial to his fellow Aven.  The really great thing was the formation of the Catapult Squads under the Catapult Masters.  They were able to take out enemies at extreme long range, removing threats before they were close enough to hurt us. 

 

Other places had other attempts at military organization as well.  Over on Mirrodin, the Auriok Steelshapers could outfit their armies with better equipment, but without the better equipment he was basically useless.  In the time of the Coldsnap, after the great Ice Age, the Field Marshals taught combat tactics, allowing their soldiers to take out their enemies before taking a single hit.  During the chaos of the Time Spiral, Benalish Commanders stuck in time somehow managed to call in more recruits.  They didn't so much make their troops better as much as they used those troops to make themselves better, but they were still effective leaders.

 

Then came what's now known as the M10 Age.  Rhox Pikemasters came up from the southern regions to share their skill with the long-handled blade.  Veteran Armorsmiths and Swordsmiths offered us tempered steel to strengthen our armor plates and sharpen our dulled blades.  But then came the saving grace for soldiers everywhere.  The Watch.  More specifically, the Captain of the Watch.  The one I met was a woman, but don't let that fool you.  Everywhere she went, she was accompanied by her three-man retinue of guards.  Without her, they were pretty useless except to help out the Catapult Squads, but when they were by her side, they were vicious.  In fact, all of us felt more powerful by her side.  We never feared a counterattack, because not only did she see everything on the battlefield, but she somehow made us see it all too, keeping us ever vigilant.

 

But you maggots didn't come here for a history lesson, did you?  No, you wanted to fight!  Some of you might think you're tough, and some of you might actually be tough.  Some of you just joined so you could stab goblins without getting in trouble!  But you're not all going to make it!  To give you a taste of the trials to come, you're going to sit in as the higher-ups take our best unit, Sgt. Chewie's Howling Commandos, and make some improvements!  Let's take a look at the unit as it stands now before anyone gets cut:

 

 

Sgt. Chewie's Howling Commandos

Land (23)

2 Secluded Steppe

21 Plains

 

Creatures (27)

4 Captain of the Watch

3 Daru Warchief

4 Catapult Squad

2 Catapult Master

3 Knight-Captain of Eos

2 Stormfront Riders

2 Benalish Commander

1 Field Marshal

1 Darien, King of Kjeldor

2 Patrol Signaler

1 Gustcloak Savior

1 Intrepid Hero

1 Frontline Strategist

 

Noncreatures (13)

2 Mobilization

1 Cenn's Enlistment

2 Spirit Loop

2 Prismatic Strands

2 Disenchant

2 Unified Strike

2 Roar of the Kha

 

 

As you can see if you've got any sort of strategic mind at all, this is a well-oiled combat machine.  The Commandos have Captains of the Watch, Daru Warchiefs, and even a Field Marshal to make them all more effective fighters.   There's even a highly experienced Frontline Strategist, who can turn even the most terrible battle into an amazing rout.

 

They are fully capable of calling in reinforcements of any sort for any reason.  Knight-captains have a small retinue of soldiers, Stormfront Riders drop off a soldier every time they blink out existence, and Benalish Commanders can reach through time to recruit.  If Kithkin are needed, the Patrol Signalers can bring in more, or we can rely on the Cenn's Enlistment procedures.  Darien, King of Kjeldor has his own army that he is more than willing to send in for assistance.  And if all else fails, there's the old standby of calling for a Mobilization of the troops.

 

But the real stars of this unit are the Catapult Squads and their Masters.  The sheer number of reinforcements leads to a veritable barrage of catapult fire for any potential attackers.  The Patrol Signalers can also help out here, lending a hand to the Catapult Squad and then signaling for more troops.  There's even a Gustcloak Savior attached to the unit, specifically for helping the troops draw an enemy into range, vanish (leaving the enemy in the open and confused), and man the catapults to knock it down.  The troops are capable of staging a Unified Strike to take down attacking enemies, using the unique Prismatic Strands to protect themselves, project a Roar of the Kha to give them more strength and abilities, and even utilize a Spirit Loop to keep themselves in the battle.

 

But an army that doesn't change is an army that doesn't win!  We can't just stagnate!  Our enemies are constantly trying to adapt to our tactics, so we should change those tactics to further thwart them!  Let's see what the brass has in store!  That's our Field Marshal talking now, and the Frontline Strategist is across from him.

 

"We need to take the Nomads' Assembly into consideration!  Those Kor are highly skilled and vicious in battle.  They have agreed to match the number of troops on the battlefield, and there are always two waves of the assembly!  And while we're discussing the Kor, don't forget the recently signed Conqueror's Pledge, which guarantees us at least a small number of Kor soldiers!"

 

"Personally, I think we have too many of those Knight-Captains of Eos.  The third one that came in a while back just isn't pulling his weight with the other two already there.  I think he should be transferred to a new unit where his skills can actually be put to use."

 

"And if you'll notice, that so-called Intrepid Hero has been less than spectacular.  He shouldn't even be a soldier, but more of a lone warrior type of thing, since he very rarely works with the rest of the unit anyway.  I move to have both him and the extra Knight-Captain stationed at the training facility to share their talents with new recruits.  Now, what about tactical changes?"

 

"I think the use of the Unified Strike is outdated and predictable.  Our enemies have come to expect it and can use it against us.  Perhaps if we want to remove enemy threats we should move towards using the latest magical technology of Oblivion Rings.  They're able to handle more diverse threats and can take out those powerful Planeswalkers we've encountered from time to time."

 

"I see your point, but surely having more troops at our disposal makes the Unified Strike more effective.  I don't think we should abandon it so easily.  Perhaps if we instruct the troops to use the O-Rings for a while and see how they fare compared to the tried-and-true Strike, we can get a better idea of which is more effective and adapt our strategies accordingly."

 

"No, the Unified Strike is still a very narrow tactic that only works in certain situations, while there is always a use for a well-timed Oblivion Ring.  Just because we can pull off a Unified Strike more easily does not change the fact that it just isn't versatile.  Let's switch over to the O-Rings, and if by some miracle a Strike would be a better tactic, we'll revise later.  Now, I have this piece of equipment recently recovered from some ruins in Zendikar.  As far as we can tell, it's a Basilisk Collar, which increases both the life expectancy and deadliness of the wearer.  I think we should integrate this with the use of the Spirit Loop to study the effects.  How about splitting the use of both right down the middle?"

 

"Agreed.  It performs the same function and adds something extra without losing any real value, so let's do it.  I also think that, since his passing, using the Roar of the Kha is having the opposite effect on the troops.  And since it's not as effective as we'd like, I suggest we just stop using it.  If such a time comes that we feel like we need it again, we can always reintegrate it.  Is that good enough for now?"

 

"I think it is.  Let's hit the mess tent.  Let's remind the new recruits here about the full changes made to the unit before we eat."

 

 

+1 Nomad's Assembly

+1 Conqueror's Pledge

-1 Intrepid Hero

-1 Knight-Captain of Eos

-2 Unified Strike

+2 Oblivion Ring

-1 Spirit Loop

+1 Basilisk Collar

-2 Roar of the Kha

-1 Plains

 

 

Sgt. Chewie's Howling Commandos

Land (22)

2 Secluded Steppe

20 Plains

 

Creatures (25)

4 Captain of the Watch

3 Daru Warchief

4 Catapult Squad

2 Catapult Master

Knight-Captain of Eos

2 Stormfront Riders

2 Benalish Commander

1 Field Marshal

1 Darien, King of Kjeldor

2 Patrol Signaler

1 Gustcloak Savior

1 Frontline Strategist

 

Noncreatures (13)

2 Mobilization

1 Conqueror's Pledge

1 Nomads' Assembly

1 Cenn's Enlistment

1 Basilisk Collar

1 Spirit Loop

2 Oblivion Ring

2 Prismatic Strands

2 Disenchant

 

 

There you have it, maggots!  I hope you took something from this little discussion!  If you didn't, then you're not gonna last long here in the Dominarian Armed Forces!  You should have figured out some strategy!  They found an artifact that does everything one of the standard issue enchantments can do and then some, so they're going to integrate it into battle.  If there's a gain in abilities without a loss somewhere else, and cost isn't an issue, then that's a fine strategic move.  Also, even though there will be more soldiers available to perform a Unified Strike, a narrow maneuver is still a narrow maneuver no matter how easy it might be to pull off.  If an Oblivion Ring is more useful on a broad scale, then that's what should be used.  And finally, men and even tactics that aren't pulling their weight or aren't as useful as hoped for should be dismissed!  If having the third Knight-Captain of Eos in the unit is a waste of resources then let's shuffle him off to a place where he can serve the most good. 

 

And that's just what we'll do with any of you maggots that prove to be a waste of space!  Lesson over, now drop and give me twenty!

 

Category:60 Card Challenge -- posted at: 10:44am EDT

60CC - The Mountains of Madness

Chewie here again, this time with a deck I actually did something to.  I've mentioned my multiplayer discard deck several times, whether it be in articles or on the show.  It's one of my oldest deck ideas, and the basic tenets haven't changed since I first came up with the idea.  But before I go into any sort of detail, here's the list (complete with made-up impressive sounding deck name that's never been used before):


The Mountains of Madness
Land (22)
12 Swamp
3 Island
2 Tainted Isle
1 Creeping Tar Pit
2 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
2 Dimir Aqueduct

Creatures (19)
4 Abyssal Nocturnus
4 Lore Broker
4 Screeching Buzzard
4 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Magus of the Jar
1 Nihilith
1 Myojin of Night's Reach

Noncreatures (23)
4 Megrim
1 Words of Waste
1 Debtor's Knell
1 Oversold Cemetery
2 Howling Mine
1 Memory Jar
1 Well of Knowledge
2 Time Spiral
2 Ill-Gotten Gains
1 Windfall
1 Prosperity
1 Bribery
3 Wheel and Deal
2 Evacuation


So the idea is pretty simple.  Keep cards in everyone's hand, play a Megrim, then make everyone discard their hands.  This used to be a lot harder, trust me.  Let's go through some of the key cards.  Megrim is the main kill condition.  Each card discarded means 2 damage.  Ideally, I only have to make each person discard 10 cards to win.  And of course, I have a full crapload of ways to fill (and then empty) hands.  Howling Mine gives an extra card a turn.  Mikikoro can draw everyone an extra card when I have some leftover mana.  The Well of Knowledge can draw anyone an extra card when they have some leftover mana.  Time Spiral gives everyone a full hand and gives me plenty of mana to play with after casting it.  Windfall and Ill-gotten gains give me a full-hand discard AND puts cards back in their hand so they can discard more!  The various Jar-related guys give me a slightly dirty way to win out of nowhere.  However, Wheel and Deal is by far the easiest way to just say "I win, let's play another one."  And for the extreme late game, there's the Myojin of Night's Reach.

But I'm not JUST out to win with massive discard all at once.  Lore Broker gives me the chance to inflict some serious chip damage, as does Words of Waste.  The Abyssal Nocturnus gets seriously big really quickly, and he gets evasion to punch through.  Nihilith is another big guy who comes out pretty quickly and can evade his way into someone's face.  The Screeching Buzzard is primarily a deterrent to keep people from swinging at me, which actually works better than you might think.

And finally, some assorted other.  Creeping Tar Pits are great for sneaking in the last few points of damage when my Megrim gets destroyed.  Solemn Simulacrum helps smooth out some draws and can profitably chump block if necessary.  Debtor's Knell and Oversold Cemetery let me reuse the few creatures I have.  Evacuation functions as both a panic button to save my ass and a way to fill up everyone's hand for a coup de grace.  Bribery is just cool, and since my creature count is kind of low I thought I'd throw it in.  You know, for fun and profit.


Now as you can see, this deck is sitting pretty at 64 cards.  So I need to somehow knock 4 cards out in order to reach my destination.  But first, I want to add in some cards!  I acquired 3 more Creeping Tar Pits, so they simply must go in.  That's an easy fix though, I'll knock out the 2 conditional duals, the Tainted Isles and a Swamp and be good to go.

Still sitting at +4 cards.  The first two choices were pretty simple, actually.  I took out the singleton Bribery because I've started building EDH decks, and a single Bribery sounds just right for EDH.  Prosperity is the next to go, because it just doesn't really do enough.  I'm pretty sure it's a holdover from a time when I was still short one of the mass draw spells.  That and to maximize its card drawing potential, I need to use up enough mana to not be able to cast one of the mass discard spells and actually capitalize on my opponents' full hands.  The Well of Knowledge is something similar, as it just doesn't do enough on its own to warrant taking up a space in the deck.  And since it's totally dependent on my opponents' willingness to pay to draw cards, it is entirely possible that it'll just sit there and do nothing.  So out it comes.

Hey, we're down to +1 card!  This one was both really tough, and stupidly easy.  I could have gone with the Debtor's Knell or the Myojin, since they cost a million.  I could have taken out the singleton Words of Waste or Nihilith.  I don't even have the Geth's Grimiore to go with the Words anymore (but that's because I tried to stop being that guy), so it's not like it's living up to its full potential, but it's still good enough by itself to leave in for now.  I almost tried taking out the Howling Mines, but then I remembered that they tend to take the heat off of me in the early game.  Instead, I decided to take out the Memory Jar.  Why you ask?  Because even though I am a bit of a jerk, I'm a complete ass.  The Memory Jar is just wrong.  Sure it basically does the same thing as Windfall or Ill-Gotten Gains, but it's going to knock out 7 cards almost every time for almost every player.  There's a reason it's as infamous as it is, you know?  I left in the Magus of the Jar because at least then they have a have a turn to either kill him off or prepare for the worst.  Sometimes being civil is more important than winning, you know?

Here's the full list of changes, in case you want it in an easily digestable format:

+3 Creeping Tar Pit
-2 Tainted Isle
-1 Swamp
-1 Bribery
-1 Prosperity
-1 Well of Knowledge
-1 Memory Jar


And here's the final list, just in case you wanted to see that too.

The Mountains of Madness
Land (22)
11 Swamp
3 Island
4 Creeping Tar Pit
2 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
2 Dimir Aqueduct

Creatures (19)
4 Abyssal Nocturnus
4 Lore Broker
4 Screeching Buzzard
4 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Magus of the Jar
1 Nihilith
1 Myojin of Night's Reach

Noncreatures (19)
4 Megrim
1 Words of Waste
1 Debtor's Knell
1 Oversold Cemetery
2 Howling Mine
2 Time Spiral
2 Ill-Gotten Gains
1 Windfall
3 Wheel and Deal
2 Evacuation


In an effort to have this be more than just a showcase of my decks, this final paragraph in each of these posts will be dedicated to larger lessons you should take away with you.  Of course, lots of them are going to be the same, but hopefully you won't notice.  Of course, when you only have 60 slots to work with and you're trying to craft a deck that can take down multiple opponents, every card has to pull its own weight.  If there's a card that isn't worth it, get rid of it!  Personal preference is also a factor.  I don't want to be too much of a horrible prick (gameplay-wise, that is) so I removed the stuff I see as unfair and unfun.  For those people who care more about winning than increasing the group's amount of fun (and there's nothing wrong with that, it's just not how my brain works), taking out the Memory Jar seems like a stupid choice.  And for them, of course, it would be.  And finally, when it comes to playing lots of multiplayer fun games, be sure to keep the big picture in mind.  I don't mean to pay attention to what everyone is doing (that's a given), I'm talking the big picture that extends outside of this game.  I have lots of decks built at all times.  If I have a card in this deck, but it really doesn't do much here or would definitely be more effective in that deck over there, then there's no reason to hamstring that other deck just because this card is already in this one.  Bribery would be most excellent in one of my EDH decks that contain blue, so I'm going to let it shine over there rather than leaving it here just because it's neat.

And of course, after I write this they reveal the new Megrim in M11, Lilliana's Caress.  It's Megrim except it costs 1 less and instead of damage, which is more easily prevented or redirected, it causes loss of life.  As soon as I get my hands on a any of these, they'll begin replacing the Megrims.  It's entirely possible that something like the Words of Waste or maybe a Buzzard will come out to increase the number of cards with this effect, but I'll have to play it out a few times to see how it works.

Hope you enjoyed taking this look at my process.  As always, any and all feedback, positive or negative, is welcome.  Since I'll probably be doing a lot of these, please let me know what you liked and didn't like.  You can comment right here or roll over to our forums at http://cardshark.freeforums.org.  Thanks for reading and uh, go play some Magic!

Category:60 Card Challenge -- posted at: 10:37am EDT

60CC - Flock of Seagulls


​Hello again my faithful readers!  This one's simple yet entertaining.  When I started playing again around the time Onslaught came out, I noticed that Birds seemed to be a tribe they were pushing.  This was cemented when I saw Aven Brigadier, who is just ridiculous with the various Bird Soldiers.  But it wasn't until I saw the Judgement card Soulcatcher's Aerie that I was completely blown away.  Every time a bird dies, ALL these other birds get bigger?  HOLY CRAP!  So I set to work building a Bird deck.  The first one was just a bunch of big expensive awesome birds, a Brigadier, and a pair of Aeries.  As the years have gone by, I've tweaked and changed and fixed and focused the deck.  Here's the pre-60CC list:


Flock of Seagulls
Land (22)
8 Plains
7 Island
2 Azorius Chancery
2 Coastal Tower
1 Sejiri Refuge
2 Seaside Haven

Creatures (30)
4 Soulcatcher
2 Courier Hawk
2 Keeper of the Nine Gales
2 Aven Riftwatcher
2 Jotun Owl Keeper
1 Lieutenant Kirtar
1 Pride of the Clouds
1 Emeria Angel
1 Commander Eesha
2 Aven Fisher
2 Aven Augur
2 Celestial Gatekeeper
2 Phantom Flock
2 Crookclaw Elder
1 Aven Brigadier
1 Windbrisk Raptor
2 Shoreline Ranger

Noncreatures (10)
4 Soulcatcher's Aerie
4 Battle Screech
2 Disenchant


Seaside Haven baby!  The Soulcatcher makes an appearance all the way from Odyssey to keep watch over his Aerie.  I have a few birds that can off themselves for the good of the flock, like Aven Augur, Lieutenant Kirtar and the Aven Riftwatchers.  With a single counter on the Aerie, the Phantom Flock becomes impossible to kill with damage.  I have a bit of a bird token generating subtheme rolling around in here too, what with the Owl Keeper, Pride of the Clouds, Emeria Angel, and the set of Battle Screeches.  More small birds for cheap in the early game means more giant Serrakeet birds for cheap in the late game!  The Keeper of the Nine Gales and Crookclaw Elder take advantage of my fairly ridiculous number of birds to do nifty things like bounce threats or refill my hand.  And let's not forget the Windbrisk Raptor as a nice way to change the game in a single swing.

But you see, then I started opening packs from the Zendikar block.  I nabbed a second Emeria Angel which of course MUST go in this deck.  I also opened an Archon of Redemption.  The more I looked at it, the more it spoke to me.  It whispered to me of three counters on an Aerie and not paying for the third upkeep on an Owl Keeper, then playing a land with Emeria Angel out, then flashing back a Battle Screech.  Such riches are more than even my considerable imagination could conjure, and I was weak in the knees.  In that moment of weakness, I agreed to put this evil Archon in the deck where it clearly belonged.  But only as a single, for multiples would surely bring about the end of days!  *ahem* Sorry about that.  What was I saying?

Oh yeah, I'm putting in new cards.  The Pride of the Clouds makes bird tokens, but it has to be in my hand and it takes 4 mana BEFORE I draw for the turn!  The Emeria Angel has to be on the battlefield and I have to play lands.  Holy crap, I was gonna do that anyway!  So an even 1-for-1 swap on those two seems fair to me.  If this deck was more about a swarm of tiny birds, then the Pride could be absolutely amazing, but it's actually about making a swarm of huge birds, so it loses some value when I could just include another bird or a more efficient token-maker.  I looked at the Soulcatcher next.  There's a full set in there.  I don't think a full set is really necessary, especially since I already have the full set of Aeries.  And for some strange reason, I feel compelled to put the Archon in here.  Not quite sure what that's about.  so let's just do another swap there.

At this point, I'm still sitting at +2 cards.  Let's see what's left.  Disenchant!  What good does that crap do?  It does all kinds of good, the hell is wrong with you?  What about...Courier Hawk?  It's small and vigilant, which works really well with the Aerie later in the game, but it's a possibility.  My favorite thing to do with Aven Fisher is sacrifice it to a Seaside Haven to draw two cards and bump up the rest of my birds, and even if I don't get to do that it still replaces itself when death comes for it.  No, at this point I decided to knock off the Shoreline Rangers.  The deck runs pretty well on 4 mana, so the islandcycling isn't as necessary as it was in previous incarnations.  In other words, it's a holdover from the time I had a whole mess of 5 and 6 cost birds in the deck.  With the smaller, sleeker creature the deck has become, the Rangers are unnecessary.  They're still good, just not here.

As always (well, it will be always), here's the full list of changes:

+1 Emeria Angel
-1 Pride of the Clouds
+1 Archon of Redemption
-1 Soulcatcher
-2 Shoreline Ranger

And here's the final list, sitting right at 60 cards:


Flock of Seagulls
Land (22)
8 Plains
7 Island
2 Azorius Chancery
2 Coastal Tower
1 Sejiri Refuge
2 Seaside Haven

Creatures (28)
3 Soulcatcher
2 Courier Hawk
2 Keeper of the Nine Gales
2 Aven Riftwatcher
2 Jotun Owl Keeper
1 Lieutenant Kirtar
2 Emeria Angel
1 Commander Eesha
2 Aven Fisher
2 Aven Augur
2 Celestial Gatekeeper
2 Phantom Flock
1 Archon of Redemption
2 Crookclaw Elder
1 Aven Brigadier
1 Windbrisk Raptor

Noncreatures (10)
4 Soulcatcher's Aerie
4 Battle Screech
2 Disenchant


So now for the educational part of this post.  First off, keep an eye out for cards that do the same thing only better, like the Emeria Angel replacing the Pride here.  Also, if you're like me, you keep decks for a long time and tweak and change them as new cards come out.  Watch out for those cards that were required to make the deck run smoothly back in the day.  Sometimes you just have to go back to first assumptions and take a good look at those cards that you just leave in there because they've always been there.  Question everything!  And that's not just a lesson in casual deckbuilding, that's a life lesson.  But enough of all that.  Hope you've enjoyed the little birdies.  Thanks for reading and uh, go play some Magic.

Category:60 Card Challenge -- posted at: 12:44pm EDT

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Mana Pool’s little corner of the blogosphere. Chewie here, and we’re back on the 60 Card Challenge. The first step was to count up the cards in all my decks. This is nowhere as much fun as it sounds, and it doesn’t sound like any fun at all. During the course of this, I found a small handful of decks that already had the requisite 60 cards already. So I thought I’d go ahead and share some of those with you guys to get them out of the way. Since I’m going to be showing everyone the rest of my decks, I figured I’d show you all of them. I’m also going to attempt to come up with some nifty names for them that aren’t so utilitarian. No reason, just as a mental exercise and to jazz them up a bit.

I have two decks built around the Suspend mechanic from Time Spiral block. The first and foremost is basically mono-blue with a small red splash for Jhoira. Looking at it again, I’m considering changing it around some, but that’s not what this about. Here’s the list:

Suspension of Disbelief
Land (21)
4 Terramorphic Expanse
3 Mountain
14 Island

Creatures (28)
3 Jhoira of the Ghitu
3 Riftwing Cloudskate
3 Errant Ephemeron
3 Chronozoa
3 Infiltrator il-Kor
1 Maelstrom Djinn
4 Aeon Chronicler
3 Deep-Sea Kraken
2 Timebender
3 Jhoira's Timebug

Noncreatures (11)
2 Paradox Haze
3 Ancestral Vision
3 Clockspinning
2 Reality Strobe
1 Time Stretch

It’s pretty simple. Lots of time counters, lots of things that manipulate time counters, and land. The Chronozoa and Maelstrom Djinn are fun with the time counter shenanigans, and the various suspended creatures can jump into play in a hurry. My personal favorite thing to do is use Jhoira to suspend an Aeon Chronicler for 4 extra card draws on the cheap. As far as changing it around, I might knock out a Jhoira and a Chronicler to finish the set of Ephemeron and Cloudskate, but I haven’t decided yet. Any thoughts?


If any of you have read my articles or listened to me ramble about my decks, you’ve heard of the Words Deck. A while back, I took all the green out of the Words deck to make room for blue, because a deck that wants to draw lots of cards really needs blue. But I really missed having the Words of Wilding in there to make lots of bears. I missed it so much that I made it a deck to call its own. Here it is:

Words of Wilding
Land (22)
20 Forest
2 Oran-Rief the Vastwood

Creatures (23)
2 Hystrodon
2 Heartwood Storyteller
2 Regal Force
2 Skullmulcher
2 Kavu Climber
3 Wistful Selkie
2 Elvish Visionary
2 Magus of the Library
2 Maro
1 Overbeing of Myth
1 Primordial Sage
1 Masumaro, First to Live
1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

Noncreatures (15)
4 Words of Wilding
3 Harmonize
2 Sylvan Library
2 Snakeform
2 Overrun
2 Naturalize

As you can probably tell, it’s just a bunch of green card draw. Since it’s green, it’s mostly creature based. Play dudes, draw cards or make bears, swing for the win. The Maros and the Magus can take advantage of full hands. Skullmulcher can chow down on any spare bear tokens or pointless creatures like Elvish Visionary. Overrun and green Kamahl are win conditions (of course) since I should have a fair number of bear tokens wandering around. Snakeform is a funny little combat trick that gets me another card (or bear) in the process. Plus there's Oran-Rief for when I play a creature and make a bear, or make lots of bears, or whatever. I haven’t played it that many times, but every time that I have it has been a lot of fun. What do you think?

So there you have it. Two straightforward decks that were already sitting at 60 cards, submitted for your approval. Or amusement. Whatever. Hope you enjoyed, I’ll be back before too long with a deck that actually went through some changes. Thanks for reading and uh, go play some Magic!

Category:60 Card Challenge -- posted at: 9:48pm EDT

60 Card Challenge - Introduction
​Hello there everyone!  Welcome to the first of the Mana Pool blog posts!  That's right, you've listened to the podcast, now read the blog!  Now how much would you pay?  Whoa, the blogosphere makes me sound like a pitch man.  Let's move on quickly.

Anyway, here's the deal.  I thought I would chronicle my attempts at knocking all my many casual Magic decks down to 60 cards.  Some background first!  Since I basically play big round-table multiplayer free-for-all type games, I didn't so much care about sticking to the recommended 60 card minimum.  If I had an idea for a deck, I wanted to run with it, number of cards be damned.  I'd throw in 20 land and there was a deck ready to play!

Paradigm shift 1!  As I matured a bit in my Magic-playing, I decided to impose a 64 card limit on myself so things didn't get too stupid.  I also went back and upped every deck's land count to 22.  Mana screw happened a LOT less after that, of course.  In fact, in the context of our playgroup, 22 lands has become my golden standard, and it's still where I start with a deck today.  I find I can draw out of any mana screw before it becomes a problem in a 4-6 person game. 

Paradigm shift 2!  At some point after that, I decided to knock my personal limit to 62 cards with 22 land.  This made the decks I built after this revelation more consistent and less likely to fail miserably (Well, due to statistics.  They still failed miserably due to construction sometimes.)  Mathematics can be very persuasive.  Not enough to make me move all the way down to 60, but I was getting there.  Sometimes I'd get done with a deck and find that it was actually sitting at 60 cards.  Sometimes I'd be happy with that, and sometimes I'd go dig out 2 more cards to add in.  Like I said, big round-table multiplayer free-for-alls are more forgiving with my group of dorks. 

Then the paradigm shifted yet again.  I'm not sure when, but I noticed that my more recent decks were (mostly) 60 card affairs.  Unlike the last two shifts, this one was not a conscious decision.  It just sort of happened without me noticing.  So one fateful day a few weeks ago, I signed up for Netflix.  This gave me access to a truly stupid amount of crap to watch instantly on my Xbox 360.  But I am not the kind of person who can just sit still and watch movies and whatnot.  No no, I need something to DO while I'm watching movies and whatnot.  I looked down at my Box o' Decks and knew what I must do.  I would turn each and every one of these bloated 61-64 card decks into a lean, focused 60 card deck.  Oh yes.  I could sit there in my living room floor screwing around with Magic decks for literally HOURS, which meant my Netflix subscription could kick off in grand style. 

And I decided to share that with all of you.  I kept notes about what came out of each deck, and a quick flip through a deck will tell me plenty about other things that could have come out.  Not only will this be a streamlining exercise, but hopefully it will give you (the readers) some insights into multiplayer deck building.  Or at least it will give you a glimpse into the way my brain works.  Of course, you'll also get a good long look at almost every one of my decks over the course of this odyssey, so perhaps you'll find some inspiration there.  At the very least, it should be entertaining.  I mean, you know how I am on the show (And if you don't then you should check it out.  I mean you're here already.  Really now.) and I have lots of articles on Cardshark.com, so hopefully it'll be fun.  Stay tuned for the first deck soon!

Category:60 Card Challenge -- posted at: 7:44pm EDT