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!
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

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

Back to Nature by Dirk & Chewie
Hello everyone, Chewie here.  My taciturn cohost ​Dirk writes just like he podcasts.  He doesn't say much, but what he does say speaks volumes.  Here's what he wrote when I asked him to do a blog post for this green card:

Definitely a green card with a very old green ability. Very efficient card that can destroy any deck that uses lots of enchantments. I think it would be a very good sideboard card and I think it could see lots of play if the Umbras deck ever takes off. All in all, a very good card that makes me happy to see competitive mass enchantment removal back in green.

I mean really now, what else is there to say?  Sure you could point out that the last time Green had this ability it was a sorcery and cost 3 mana.  You could say that the last time this ability was an instant, it was in white and still cost 3 mana.  No, not Patrician's Scorn, that has nonsense that goes along with it.  I mean the last time a card just said "Destroy all enchantments" and that's it. 

You could say that Tranquility was always just too damned expensive and not quite useful enough.  Back in the day the only thing you really had to worry about was the odd Unholy Strength or Pacifism.  Nowadays you have Oblivion Ring and Journey to Nowhere that you can gleefully destroy to get back your fatty or awesome utility guy or Planeswalker.  That seems pretty freakin' good to me, but why bother saying all that?  It's basically implied already in Dirk's concise statement.

Now, from a Casual Magic standpoint, you can definitely say a few more things.  Dirk didn't say this explicitly because he didn't want us to notice, but a single copy of Back to Nature will completely screw his green enchantment deck.  For that matter, it will utterly destroy my enchantment-heavy Words deck too.  Everyone who plays casually knows someone with a deck that relies on enchantments to the point of being ridiculous.  This card gives us all a cheap way to cripple that player, at instant speed, and for only 2 freakin' mana.  Sounds like a good time to me.  Just don't play it against my Words deck, okay?

Category:Previews -- posted at: 12:00am EST

Gargoyle Sentinel by Brian


Thunder roars unheard above the sounds of the battlefield. Lightning flashes, momentarily illuminating a scene of intense combat through the downpour. The invading army’s captain sat stoically on his mount, keeping his veteran eye on the shadows of movement that told him of his force’s progress against the keep. The battle was going well for him, and the sounds of metal on metal had been gradually decreasing as the defenders were put down. He turned down to the commander of his advance units.

“Has there been word of those that I ordered to proceed into the stronghold?” he asked, slight irritation purposefully showing behind his otherwise flat demeanor. He was not one to be kept waiting, and his troops knew this.

“No sir,” was the reply, the commander respectfully meeting the captain’s eyes, “but the conditions are making reconnaissance nearly impossible. I have no reason to believe that they have met anything but success. There is no one here whom we fear.”

Pleased with the soldier’s earned bravado, the captain returned his gaze to the skirmish. “Order in another two units. I want information of what defenses the inner keep holds, if any.” He laughed. “And I’m soaking wet, and I dislike the sensation. See to it.”

The scouts went forward, following the trail of the first troop around the most pitched fighting and watching for hidden dangers. No enemy combatants waited in ambush, but that only made them the more suspicious. Finally, they found the wall of the keep and began to make their way around. The foremost scout wordlessly commanded the others to stop upon seeing a large shape looming in the darkness, but breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that it was only a statue.

As the troop came forward, the first scout started to move past the statue. As he did so, he saw another shape, or rather a series of shapes. He drew his sword at the sight of the other soldiers, preparing his men to cut them down as they lay resting. They drew near, but at the last moment another bolt of lightning revealed the scene of the first group of scouts. None had survived. The second group stood in shock, certain now of danger but not sure of what to guard against. Above them, the statue stared down.

A few hours later, the captain was alone, watching what he could from his vantage point. The defenders had found a second wind with reinforcements from an unknown source. He needed his men to rally to him, but the continuing storm hampered communication. His men at the keep, the advance parties, were unaccounted for. He believed that this was the reason he was alone, as even his second-in-command feared the captain’s temper at its height.

“Cowards,” he muttered to his steed, “afraid to face my wrath for this failure. Where are they? Alonze, come to me!” he shouted into the darkness. Only at hearing his own bellow did the captain realize just how quiet the scene had become. He heard a sound, like and unlike approaching footsteps, from the direction of the battlefield. He stared at the dark in front of him, willing it to reveal whether it was the forces of the enemy or his own soldiers, but no one was in front of him for some distance. The sound increased in intensity, and suddenly he was snatched off of his horse and lifted impossibly into the air.

He let out a harsh cry, but upon gazing up and seeing his captor, he began to laugh. It was a long, hard laugh, coming out uncontrollably from the man who was so close to victory and now so far from the ground. The sound echoed off of the stone hide of the beast, almost seeming to become louder to his own ears. The captain recognized his opponent’s true forces at last, and knew that his failure had always been inevitable.

Hey there, Mana Pool friends and listeners. This is Brian, he of the rambling. I’m here today to discuss one of the special preview cards we were assigned from Magic 2011 in a bit more depth than we could give on the show. The card, as you should hopefully be able to tell from the narrative above, is Gargoyle Sentinel.

I’m going to first go over the obvious uses and implications of this card, both as a practical matter of analysis and then specific to limited, which is the format where he is likely to see the most play (in my humble opinion). Then, I will attempt to look at some aspects of the card which lend themselves to more interesting application. For more information on the flavor-tasticness of this card, be sure to listen to the review that we give him on the show. I won’t repeat it here, because I think it would really just be repetition of my thoughts I said on the show. Plus, everybody loves the sound of Chewie’s voice, am I right?

First of all, this guy is pretty efficient. A 3/3 body (albeit with defender) for three mana is very solid, usually only found in green. The fact that he is colorless opens him up to all colors, most remarkably for the otherwise creature-weak blue. The fact that he does have defender makes him comparable to Ogre Sentry from Rise of the Eldrazi in red, which costs one less but (1) is color-specific and (2) cannot itself lose defender without help. The end result? Even if he never takes off, the Sentinel is a pretty solid defender for his cost.

He can take off, however, and therein lies the true potential. The Sentinel is made for coming out early and having the beef to hold back the opponent for some time. Don’t underestimate the relatively high power for a defender; the ability to not just block but kill a fair number of attackers is pretty significant. Once the ground is more or less safe, he can join the races by adding his considerable weight to the airborne offensive. The fact that he is an artifact limits some of the removal that can be thrown at him, and protection from artifacts is pretty rare, so there is a good chance he will connect. If things become problematic, just keep him at home until it is most efficient for him to go on the attack. Don’t forget that he can also spread his wings to block an incoming aerial attacker (thanks, Mike!).

In summation, for at least the purposes of sealed or draft, Gargoyle Sentinel is pretty nice. His body is a great way to dissuade the opponent from trying to attack, and his later-game presence is something that the opponent will have to take into consideration at the very least. Heck, even if the opponent has to use a Lightning Bolt to clear him out, that’s a Lightning Bolt they can’t use again! Overall, he seems decidedly solid to fairly strong, depending on how efficient M11’s creatures are and how aggressive the limited format proves to be. I’d strongly consider playing him where possible unless he’s just simply outclassed.

Finally, let’s get a little more interesting. What other uses can Gargoyle Sentinel have? Well, he’s a Gargoyle, so if you’ve been waiting to finish out your Wakestone Gargoyle deck, here you go! Also, he’s an artifact, so he plays nicely with Etherium Sculptor and friends from Esper. Speaking of Esper, try this guy out with Skill Borrower; as long as Gargoyle Sentinel is the top card of your library, you can send your Borrower to the skies. For a version of this combo that does not require you to have the Gargoyle on top of your library, combo with Experiment Kraj. Since we’re focusing on the activated ability here, I feel obliged to mention Training Grounds; this ability gets significantly better when it costs 1 (2 less).

Of course, sometimes even just being a defender has an upside. Check out Vent Sentinel (woo, Sentinels unite!) for some damage and Overgrown Battlement for mana production purposes. Don’t like getting beaten down by your opponents? Get out a Gargoyle Sentinel and wait for your opponent to go to his combat step (preferably with little or no mana open) and cast Mirrorweave or Cytoshape.

That’s about all I can say about Gargoyle Sentinel, a deceptively simple-looking card. Just remember when you’re at the Magic 2011 prerelease or release events, that’s probably not a bird, plane, or Superman up there. Just because it doesn’t look like it can move… doesn’t mean it won’t eat you.

Category:Previews -- posted at: 11:36pm EST

Mana Leak by Mike


You’re going to read and hear comments running the entire length of the spectrum from “best idea ever” to “kill me now” when it comes to this card. I’ll go ahead and let you know now that I’m one of the ones happy to see it.

I like counter-magic, but not in the usual “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women” kind of way. I like it because it’s a very versatile class of removal, balanced by the need to apply careful thought in order to use it properly. When a spell worth countering comes around, first of all you have to be ready for it. You have to have the mana up. That means you need to carefully consider how you spend the turn before it, thinking about what benefit any threats you could play would add to your position and how safe you already are against the opponent’s threats currently on the table. Then you have to decide how dangerous the spell is for you. Will it only be a temporary inconvenience or will it set up a long-term problem? What could be following it based on the mana the opponent still has open? I have more fun during a game when I have more interesting choices to make that will really test my skills as a player.

Anyway: about the card. Lots of decks tap out nowadays. In my personal opinion, a play environment is at its worst when there are too many decks that just go on autopilot. Having Mana Leak around forces players to stop and think when there’s 1U up on the other side of the table. Is it there? Is it a bluff? Is it a coincidence? How sad would I be in the long run if this play or series of plays got nullified? Can I trick the opponent into using it now so I can do what I really want later?

Besides the interesting strategic choices it brings to the metagame, Mana Leak is also just a good card. 3 is a lot to leave open at any given time in the early and mid game, so most of the time it’s just a classic Counterspell. Even if the opponent has 3 or more extra mana open, you can use the leverage to screw up a multi-spell play that the current spell is trying to open. But, of course, one of the best and most powerful features of Mana Leak is the minimal colored mana requirement. You can get the ease of play of something like a Negate or Essence Scatter without the targeting restriction that might randomly leave a dead card in your hand. With that versatility, you can also just staple it into an existing deck that wouldn’t mind having it around (I’m envisioning a situation where a removal attempt on your Kiln Fiend turns into something hilarious).

There’s tons more that can be said, but I’ll let you all have a go at it. Please do comment, because we really appreciate all the feedback we get from our audience.

Category:Previews -- posted at: 8:02pm EST

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 EST

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 EST

Note:  If you'd rather read this in a more familiar fashion, you can find it in a *.doc file located here:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/themanapool/Sealed_Pools_and_Decks.doc

For Episode 41, I opened a Sealed pool of cards, a Shadowmoor Tournament Pack and two Eventide Booster Packs. Each host dork took this Sealed pool and made a Sealed deck. Here is the original card pool.


Land:

Madblind Mountain (U)

Sunken Ruins (R)


White:

Kithkin Shielddare

Kithkin Zealot

Last Breath

Recumbent Bliss

Suture Spirit (U)

Windbrisk Raptor (R)


Blue:

Banishing Knack

Briarberry Cohort

Dream Thief

Ghastly Discovery

Oona's Grace

Prismwake Merrow

Put Away


Black:

Ashling, the Extinguisher (R)

Crowd of Cinders (U)

Disturbing Plot

Gloomlance

Merrow Bonegnawer

Rite of Consumption

Smoldering Butcher

Splitting Headache


Red:

Blookmark Mentor (U)

Bloodshed Fever

Hotheaded Giant

Inescapable Brute

Puncture Bolt

Smash to Smithereens


Green:

Bloom Tender (R)

Devoted Druid

Gleeful Sabotage

Nurturer Initiate

Phosphorescent Feast (U)

Tower Above (U)

Wickerbough Elder

Wildslayer Elves


Artifact:

Antler Skulkin

Chainbreaker

Hoof Skulkin

Lurebound Scarecrow (U)

Shell Skulkin


Black/White Hybrid:

Beckon Apparition

Bloodied Ghost (U)

Edge of the Divinity

Nightsky Mimic

Unmake


Red/White Hybrid:

Duergar Assailant

Duergar Hedge-Mage (U)

Fire at Will


Blue/White Hybrid:

Aethertow

Enchanted Evening (R)

Thoughtweft Gambit (U)

Turn to Mist


Green/White Hybrid:

Barkshell Blessing

Elvish Hexhunter

Safehold Elite

Safewright Quest


Black/Green Hybrid:

Quillspike (U)

Stalker Hag (U)


Blue/Black Hybrid:

Merrow Grimeblotter (U)


Blue/Green Hybrid:

Favor of the Overbeing

Grazing Kelpie

Shorecrasher Mimic

Slippery Bogle


Red/Green Hybrid:

Boggart Ram-Gang (U)

Loamdragger Giant

Morselhoarder

Mudbrawler Raiders

Tattermunge Duo

Tattermunge Witch (U)


Red/Black Hybrid:

Emberstrike Duo

Sootwalkers

Torrent of Souls (U)

Tyrannize (R)


And here are the four decks that came from this endeavor. Note the differences and, even though they're different colors, note the similarities.



Brian's Sealed Deck, by converted mana cost

1 – Merrow Bonegnawer, Nurturer Initiate, Elvish Hexhunter

2 – Bloom Tender, Devoted Druid, Safehold Elite, Disturbing Plot, Gleeful Sabotage, Rite of Consumption

3 – Quillspike, Stalker Hag, Hoof Skulkin, Tower Above, Unmake

4 – Ashling the Extinguisher, Crowd of Cinders, Soldering Butcher, Wickerbough Elder, Wildslayer Elves

5 – Gloomlance, Torrent of Souls

6 – Morselhoarder

7 – Loamdragger Giant

Land:

10x Forest

7x Swamp






Dirk’s Sealed Deck, by color

Lands

9 Plains

7 Forests


Green

Bloom Tender

Tower Above

Wickerbough Elder

Wildslayer Elves


White

Kithkin Shielddare

Last Breath

Recumbent Bliss

Suture Spirit

Windbrisk Raptor


White/Black

Bloodied Ghost

Edge of the Divinity

Unmake


White/Red

Duergar Hedge-Mage

Fire at Will


White/Blue

Æthertow

Turn to Mist


White/Green

Safehold Elite

Safewright Quest


Green/Black

Stalker Hag


Green/Red

Boggart Ram-Gang

Loamdragger Giant

Morselhoarder


Green/Blue

Favor of the Overbeing

Slippery Bogle


Mike's Sealed Deck, by color

Red:

Bloodmark Mentor

Puncture Bolt


Green:

Bloom Tender

Devoted Druid

Gleeful Sabotage

Nurturer Initiate

Tower Above

Wickerbough Elder

Wildslayer Elves


Artifact:

Chainbreaker

Hoof Skulkin

Lurebound Scarecrow


Red/White Hybrid:

Duergar Assailant


Green/White Hybrid:

Barkshell Blessing

Elvish Hexhunter

Safehold Elite


Black/Green Hybrid:

Quillspike


Blue/Green Hybrid:

Grazing Kelpie


Red/Green Hybrid:

Boggart Ram-Gang

Loamdragger Giant

Morselhoarder

Mudbrawler Raiders

Tattermunge Duo

Tattermunge Witch


Red/Black Hybrid:

Sootwalkers


Land:

11 Forest

6 Mountain


Chewie's Sealed Deck, by card type

Creatures

Elvish Hexhunter

Kithkin Zealot

Suture Spirit

Safehold Elite

Nightsky Mimic

Devoted Druid

Quillspike

Bloodied Ghost

Duergar Hedge-Mage

Stalker Hag

Crowd of Cinders

Sootwalkers

Ashling, the Extinguisher

Smoldering Butcher

Windbrisk Raptor


Spells

Safewright Quest

Barkshell Blessing

Beckon Apparition

Last Breath

Fire at Will

Unmake

Recumbent Bliss

Aethertow

Gloomlance

Thoughtweft Gambit


Land

8 Plains

6 Swamp

3 Forest


As a second exercise for this episode, I opened another Sealed pool, again a Shadowmoor Tournament Pack and two Eventide Booster Packs, and we constructed a deck live on the air. Here is that pool.


White

Recumbent Bliss

Cenn's Enlistment

Light from Within

Flickerwisp

Woeleecher

Safehold Sentry


Blue

Consign to Dream

Banishing Knack

Wilderness Hypnotist

Deepchannel Mentor

Faerie Swarm

Put Away

Parapet Watchers

Briarberry Cohort


Black

Corrupt

Blowfly Infestation

Polluted Bonds

Soul Reap

Merrow Bonegnawer

Creakwood Ghoul

Raven's Crime

Smolder Initiate

Aphotic Wisps

Sickle Ripper

Disturbing Plot


Red

Flame Jab

Duergar Cave-Guard

Hotheaded Giant

Smash to Smithereens

Rustrazor Butcher

Blistering Dieflyn

Boggart Arsonists


Green

Savage Conception

Wickerbough Elder

Witherscale Wurm

Drove of Elves

Gloomwidow

Nurturer Initiate

Presence of Gond


White/Blue

Godhead of Awe

Aethertow

Turn to Mist


Blue/Black

River's Grasp

Memory Sluice


Black/Red

Spiteflame Witch

Cultbrand Cinder


Red/Green

Firespout

Loamdragger Giant

Giantbaiting

Mudbrawler Raiders

Morselhoarder


Green/White

Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers

Elvish Hexhunter

Safewright Quest

Safehold Elite

Barkshell Blessing


White/Black

Nip Gwyllion

Unmake

Edge of Divinity


Blue/Red

Noggle Bridgebreaker

Noggle Bandit

Stream Hopper

Mindwrack Liege

Noggle Hedge-Mage


Black/Green

Rendclaw Trow


Green/Blue

Slippery Bogle

Grazing Kelpie

Shorecrasher Mimic

Selkie Hedge-Mage


Artifact

Hook Skulkin

Fang Skulkin

Scrapbasket

Pili-Pala

Wingrattle Scarecrow


Land

Moonring Island




And finally, here is the complete decklist, after much discussion, discord, and decision. Sorted by card type then mana cost.


Land

9 Island

6 Forest

3 Mountain


Creatures

Stream Hopper

Elvish Hexhunter

Pili-Pala

Briarberry Cohort

Safehold Elite

Selkie Hedge-Mage

Noggle Hedge-Mage

Rendclaw Trow

Noggle Bandit

Faerie Swarm

Wickerbough Elder

Noggle Bridgebreaker

Godhead of Awe

Deepchannel Mentor

Mindwrack Liege


Noncreatures

Banishing Knack

Barkshell Blessing

Flame Jab

Consign to Dream

Giantbaiting

Presence of Gond

Firespout

Aethertow

Savage Conception

Category:general -- posted at: 10:54pm EST

The Cube List Pay no attention to the image on the right.  This is NOT what we meant when we said that Brian created a Cube of Magic cards.  Although that is pretty freakin' cool over there.  Yeah, check that out. 

*Ahem*  Here is the list of cards in Brian's cube, separated by color.  Feel free to peruse and offer feedback and comments in the forums.  The Cube episode was Episode 29 - To the Third Power (Cubed), and the link to the forum thread can be found here:
http://cardshark.freeforums.org/episode-29-to-the-third-power-cubed-t180.html

And for those of you who'd rather have a table than a list, here's where the Word file with the Cube is currently being held:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/themanapool/Brians_Cube.doc

White

Exalted Angel

Mageta the Lion

Glory

Savannah Lions

Blinking Spirit

Divine Presence

Second Sunrise

Delaying Shield

Pulse of the Fields

Intervention Pact

Pristine Angel

Oracle’s Attendants

Solar Tide

Weathered Bodyguards

Tivadar of Thorn

Glarecaster

Akroma’s Vengeance

Knight of the Holy Nimbus

Charmed Griffin

Heavy Ballista

Crowd Favorites

Gallantry

To Arms!

Return to Dust

Griffin Guide

White Knight

Eiganjo Free-Riders

Samurai of the Pale Curtain

Nagao, Bound by Honor

Descendant of Kiyomaro

Phantom Flock

Mistral Charger

Belfry Spirit

Oathsworn Giant

Mycologist

Calciderm

Mistmeadow Skulk

Daru Warchief

Slith Ascendant

Whipcorder

Voice of All

Silver Knight

Ghostly Prison

Unquestioned Authority

Bathe in Light

Wing Shards

Swords to Plowshares

Purge

Faith’s Fetters

Test of Faith

Oblivion Ring

Genju of the Fields


Blue

Great Whale

Chronozoa

Fleeting Image

Shapesharer

Volrath’s Shapeshifter

Intruder Alarm

Charisma

Juxtapose

Followed Footsteps

Ertai’s Meddling

Aeon Chronicler

Quicksilver Elemental

Quicksilver Dragon

Spawnbroker

Vesuvan Shapeshifter

Ambassador Laquatus

Mischievous Quanar

Psychic Membrane

Puppeteer

Tinker

Pemmin’s Aura

Telling Time

Riftwing Cloudskate

Standstill

Metamorphose

Circular Logic

Chamber of Manipulation

Covert Operative

Fledgling Mawcor

Foil

Eyes of the Watcher

Hinder

Chain of Vapor

Pongify

Master of the Veil

Wash Out

Zephid’s Embrace

Plasma Elemental

Reality Strobe

Kajin of the Vanishing Touch

Remand

Delay

Thought Eater

Primoc Escapee

Belltower Sphinx

Graxiplon

Thieving Magpie

Slith Strider

Soratami Savant

Merfolk Looter

Jetting Glasskite

Mistform Shrieker


Black

Laquatus’s Champion

Sutured Ghoul

Sorceress Queen

Chainer, Dementia Master

Mindwarper

Vampiric Tutor

Dregs of Sorrow

Twilight’s Call

Animate Dead

Phyrexian Arena

Phage the Untouchable

Death Cloud

Woebringer Demon

Skeletal Vampire

Beacon of Unrest

Sengir Vampire

Undead Gladiator

Filth

Wall of Souls

Dark Ritual

Betrayal of Flesh

Nezumi Graverobber

Withered Wretch

Zombie Infestation

Simulacrum

Zombify

Shrouded Lore

Enslave

Fallen Ideal

Night’s Whisper

Devour in Shadow

Chainer’s Edict

Cabal Therapy

Razorjaw Oni

Bottomless Pit

Nantuko Husk

Skull Collector

Throat Slitter

Hand of Cruelty

Plagued Rusalka

Infest

Ebon Drake

Flayed Nim

Slith Bloodletter

Cabal Executioner

Consume Spirit

Terror

Knight of Stromgald

Grotesque Hybrid

Crypt Rats

Phyrexian Defiler

Phyrexian Gargantua


Red

Shivan Phoenix

Fledgling Dragon

Crater Hellion

Ashling the Pilgrim

Starke of Rath

Breaking Point

Inferno

Bedlam

Starstorm

Final Fortune

Jaya Ballard, Task Mage

Hammerfist Giant

Skarrgan Firebird

Hamletback Goliath

Bloodfire Colossus

Sulfuric Vortex

Decree of Annihilation

Sudden Shock

Goblin Warchief

Flame Javelin

Pyrohemia

Rough//Tumble

Chain of Plasma

Oni of Wild Places

Genju of the Spires

Flame Wave

Vulshok Sorcerer

Frenetic Raptor

Greater Forgeling

Gempalm Incinerator

Atog

Skirk Volcanist

Shattering Spree

Pain Kami

Cleansing Beam

Threaten

Anarchist

Blood Rites

Captive Flame

Scorched Rusalka

Ridgetop Raptor

Shaleskin Bruiser

Snapping Thragg

Mogg Fanatic

Frenzied Goblin

Carbonize

Magma Jet

Slith Firewalker

Custody Battle

Prodigal Pyromancer

Slice and Dice

Flames of the Blood Hand


Green

Kavu Titan

Glissa Sunseeker

Krosan Cloudscraper

Molder Slug

Thriss, Nantuko Primus

Wild Pair

Saproling Burst

Natural Affinity

Squall Line

Nostalgic Dreams

Timbermare

Plated Slagwurm

Rite of Passage

Ursapine

Gaea’s Anthem

Tempting Wurm

Ambush Commander

Stand Together

Deep Reconnaissance

Centaur Glade

Genju of the Cedars

Lure

Time of Need

Explosive Vegetation

Primal Boost

Chain of Acid

Overrun

Might of Old Krosa

Krosan Grip

Harmonize

Creeping Mold

Phantom Wurm

Sporesower Thallid

Deadwood Treefolk

Nacatl War-Pride

Psychotrope Thallid

Nullmage Shepherd

Gristleback

Indrik Stomphowler

Trophy Hunter

Scryb Ranger

Imperiosaur

Brontotherium

Rooting Kavu

Kavu Chameleon

Brawn

Venomspout Brackus

Slith Predator

Hunted Wumpus

Elven Riders

Karstoderm

Krosan Warchief


Artifact

Masticore

Thran Golem

Darksteel Colossus

Eater of Days

Dupliant

Howling Mine

Chimeric Staff

Oblivion Stone

Mesmeric Orb

Crumbling Sanctuary

Damping Matrix

Whirling Catapult

Engineered Explosives

Culling Scales

Liar’s Pendulum

Gauntlet of Power

Cloud Key

Stuffy Doll

Grafted Wargear

Spawning Pit

Darksteel Brute

Skullclamp

Aether Vial

Juggernaut

Arcbound Slith

Myr Retriever

Mourner’s Shield

Ornithoper

Sun Droplet

Mirror Golem

Bottle Gnomes

Cathodion

Mask of Memory

Phyrexian War Beast

Heartsone

Zuran Orb

Black Vise

Fodder Cannon

Guardian Idol

Ensouled Scimitar

Gemstone Array

Vulshok Morningstar

Icy Manipulator


Land

Kor Haven

Academy Ruins

Lake of the Dead

Kher Keeper

Desert

Svogthos, the Restless Tomb

Blinkmoth Well

Skarrg, the Rage Pits

Duskmantle, House of Shadow

Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree

Archaeological Dig

Quicksand

Mirrodin’s Core

Stalking Stones

Terrain Generator

Ancient Tomb

Nantuko Monastery

Barbarian Ring

Centaur Garden

Temple of the False God


Multicolor

Shadowmage Infiltrator

Simic Sky Swallower

Vhati il-Dal

Razia, Boros Archangel

Stonebrown, Krosan Hero

Autochthon Wurm

Anthem of Rakdos

Invoke the Firemind

Aethermage’s Touch

Death Grasp

Guided Passage

Fervent Charge

Mistmeadow Witch

Inkfathom Infiltrator

Traitor’s Roar

Tattermunge Witch

Mercy Killing

Terminate

Steel of the Godhead

Helm of the Ghastlord

Shield of the Oversoul

Psychatog

Jagged Poppet

Armadillo Cloak

Watchwolf

Consume Strength

Lightning Helix

Plaxcaster Frogling

Mortify

Putrefy

Fire//Ice

Simoon

Charging Troll

Samite Archer

Backlash

Urborg Drake

Runes of the Deus

Category:general -- posted at: 11:24pm EST

Hey everybody!  I just thought I'd let everyone know that there won't be a new episode of The Mana Pool for a week or so.  Two of your hosts, including myself who is the one who does all the uploading and whatnot, are going on a week-long vacation to Walt Disney World.  We're leaving tomorrow and I'll be back next Wednesday.  Brian has a second bit of vacation after that, so he won't be back until the following Sunday. 

If you've been enjoying the show, please go check out the forums.  I have a small questionnaire posted there that I'd like as many of you as possible to answer.  It's a series of questions involving some concerns I've had since I started doing the show several months ago.  I'd like you guys to answer honestly and give me some real opinions.  Once we get back, we're all going to go over all the answers we got and use those answers to shape the direction future episodes will take.  Thanks a lot everyone!
Category:general -- posted at: 10:25pm EST