The Return of Talking Time

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  #31  
Old 02-14-2013, 10:02 AM
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White gets everything destruction but it only gets specifically mass land destruction with red. Ajani does it. I think boom/bust was the last time an Armageddon effect got printed as a spell.
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  #32  
Old 02-14-2013, 10:18 AM
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I probably sound like a crotchety old fart saying this, but I really like the simpler look of the older card designs. The newer designs seem needlessly busy to me. That probably sounds like it came out of nowhere, but it occurred to me while looking at the card artwork that's being linked to.
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  #33  
Old 02-14-2013, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
And then they went and did this.
There is probably no more efficient demonstration of the power creep in Magic than the fact that the game has caught up to the point where Gauntlets are no longer insanely overpowered.


As for White... uhhh, I never played White. Despite usually going for the good-guy option in video games, White's brand of ruthless righteousness rubbed me the wrong way so hard I never tried it seriously. I mainly remember being annoyed by other people's Circles (thank goodness for Tranquility). And Serras. Though Serras did make for some awfully valuable trading material for an uncommon, so that's something.



You know, it's kind of weird, in a lot of games with a choice of strategies or builds I tend to go for "clever" over "power", and yet I never went for the W/U Control paradigm in Magic. For some reason R/G just felt better to me.

Actually, you know what I think it is? A slight aversion to being a sneaky dick to actual human opponents, as opposed to video game NPCs. Beating your face in felt more like an honest win.
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  #34  
Old 02-14-2013, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Destil View Post
Well, white has still gotten a lot: taxing, best fliers, best small creatures (though lions is right there).
White's always been good at small creatures. It's part of the flavour of community. Many hands make for light work, and so on.
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  #35  
Old 02-14-2013, 11:58 AM
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I wish I had played back when Serra Angel was actually Type 2 viable. Now in order to play a format where she's still really good, I gotta do drafts/sealed for core sets and those aren't exactly exciting (not to mention she's an uncommon so the chances to pick her up and also be playing White is kinda not great).
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  #36  
Old 02-14-2013, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf View Post
I probably sound like a crotchety old fart saying this, but I really like the simpler look of the older card designs. The newer designs seem needlessly busy to me. That probably sounds like it came out of nowhere, but it occurred to me while looking at the card artwork that's being linked to.
Nah, I'm right there with you. I also think that going for a more cohesive overall aesthetic has really decreased Magic's personality.

I miss Richard Thomas and Rebecca Guay. Shit, look at the art on Time Bomb. That is cool stuff.
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  #37  
Old 02-14-2013, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf View Post
I probably sound like a crotchety old fart saying this, but I really like the simpler look of the older card designs. The newer designs seem needlessly busy to me. That probably sounds like it came out of nowhere, but it occurred to me while looking at the card artwork that's being linked to.
I absolutely prefer the old card face designs with all their flaws.
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  #38  
Old 02-14-2013, 01:45 PM
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It's great how each color has its own personality. Especially Black's burnt paper.
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  #39  
Old 02-14-2013, 01:49 PM
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White weenie for life! playing decks with white knights, savannah lions, order of leitbur, kjeldoran outpost etc, and then mopping up with Serra is pretty much the best thing.
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  #40  
Old 02-14-2013, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by liquid View Post
Nah, I'm right there with you. I also think that going for a more cohesive overall aesthetic has really decreased Magic's personality.

I miss Richard Thomas and Rebecca Guay. Shit, look at the art on Time Bomb. That is cool stuff.
You're preaching to the choir. I miss Richard Kane-Ferguson's hoary, bearded visions, Kaja Foglio's bejeweled tableaux, and the pale gloom of Anson Maddocks.

Heck, it seems like just yesterday that Ron Spencer's brush was giving life to fiery nightmares and grublike viscera.
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  #41  
Old 02-14-2013, 07:02 PM
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Yeah, it'd be nice to at least see alternate versions of cards with the older artwork.

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Originally Posted by Sanagi View Post
I absolutely prefer the old card face designs with all their flaws.
Yeah, I'd just like to see the white text over a dark background again.

It's a shame that Time Spiral's temporary reprise of that look wasn't a permanent thing.

Between that, and the more...musty look of a lot of the older artwork (I mean that in the best of ways), it somehow really gave me a feeling of thumbing through forgotten lore to find just the right crumbling scroll of arcane power I needed to be BEST WIZARDZ, instead of just doing math with fancy pictures.

Still an awesome game, I'm just saying.
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  #42  
Old 02-14-2013, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by That_Old_Chestnut View Post
It's a shame that Time Spiral's temporary reprise of that look wasn't a permanent thing.

Between that, and the more...musty look of a lot of the older artwork (I mean that in the best of ways), it somehow really gave me a feeling of thumbing through forgotten lore to find just the right crumbling scroll of arcane power I needed to be BEST WIZARDZ, instead of just doing math with fancy pictures.

Still an awesome game, I'm just saying.
Yes.
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  #43  
Old 02-14-2013, 09:22 PM
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As someone who just started playing the game in the last 4 years I just want to say that this tread is fascinating, well done.

On the subject of White, I think White Weenie is the absolute most boring way to play Magic. It's never appealed to me and I never liked the model of play creature/play creature/play creature, win. Not saying that WW isn't effective, just not for me.
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  #44  
Old 02-14-2013, 10:12 PM
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I still love my Soul Sisters, White/Green weenie deck that turns Ajani's Pridemates in to massive monstrosities with the Green Leyline. There's just something so satisfying about dropping a 8/10 on the table for 2 mana and gaining 6 life in the process.
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  #45  
Old 02-14-2013, 11:27 PM
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It occurred to me that while talking about the cards is interesting, it would be truly illustrative to include a quick sketch of a deck for each color and talk about the deck-building process. So here's an addendum to Alpha White. I'll get to Blue tomorrow.

"A Simple Alpha White Weenie Deck"
4x Savannah Lions
4x Benalish Hero
4x White Knight
4x Mesa Pegasus
4x Crusade
4x Swords to Plowshares
4x Disenchant
4x Armageddon
1x Black Vise
3x Winter Orb
24x Plains

This deck plays out cheap creatures, preferably Savannah Lions and White Knight, but for lack of anything better, Benalish Hero and Mesa Pegasus will do. Crusade comes along later to kick things into high gear. Armageddon and Winter Orb cut off everyone's mana supply to prevent the opponent from fighting back.

I'm following a formula that I typically use of 24 lands and 36 spells. This is a good mix for most decks so I like to start there and then add or cut lands one at a time depending on the deck's needs - this deck could probably do with less. I have a plan for how I want the game to go: Play creatures on the first two or three turns, followed by Crusade and then Armageddon, preferably in that order. I've included redundancies(i.e. inferior creatures) because I can't count on drawing my best creatures on turn one or two every game.

I only put in one Black Vise because I tend to think of it as restricted, although it wasn't on the earliest restricted lists and it also got unrestricted many years later. But I still have it on my personal "gentleman's" restricted list, because I find it tends to leave a bad feeling both for the player who exploits it and the poor sucker who gets hit by it on turn one.

As for Winter Orb, it's never been restricted, but it's not much fun either. The first Magic deck I ever played against had Winter Orb in it. Luckily I didn't let that discourage me.

As for why people called this type of deck "White Weenie," I have no explanation.
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  #46  
Old 02-15-2013, 12:06 AM
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Weenie is a euphemism for small.

Also, I love creature heavy decks that get going right away. Combo bores the crap out of me. Turning cardboard sideways is the best.
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  #47  
Old 02-15-2013, 07:15 AM
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White is kind of a strange mix in alpha/beta; I think Sanagi is right that there's too many colour "hosing" enchantments, and overall I think there's too many enchantments in the colour as a whole, even outside of the wards/cops'. In particular, the enchantments absolutely choke up the common slot; there's a total of four white common creatures, yet six - which would be seven if not for a misprint - enchantments. Add uncommons, and the split becomes seven creatures, fourteen enchantments.

What I'm saying is that if you magically ever go back in time and are drafting Alpha/Beta, don't play white unless you rip a Wrath of God and get passed a Serra Angel.

Individual card comments:

Castle: this card got a rule change in 4e, allowing attacking creatures to have this benefit as long as they were untapped. I don't really know if anyone ever lost a game because their Serra Angel was a 4/4 on the offense rather than a 4/6, but I imagine they smiled when they saw them drop the in-rules text reminder.

Conversion: White's always been the "best" as color housing, but this card strikes the wrong nerve to me (even more so than all the land destruction in the early days). Perhaps Sunglasses of Urza was designed so your red deck didn't get entirely punished by this?

Mesa Pegasus: This card shows off kind of how bad banding is; the flavour is sort of there (another creature can "ride" the pegasus), but due to the way the rules on banding work, any non-flying creature the Pegasus bands with on an attack will allow a non-flying creature to block both of them, and on the defense any flying creatures that are attacking can only be blocked by other flying creatures. You can count all the other creatures that can fly and band on one hand, and they're all pretty terrible as creatures (save for Urza's Avenger, which is okay).

Personal Incarnation: another victim of strange rules wordings. The updated card text that includes "Any player may activate this ability, but only if he or she owns Personal Incarnation" sounds strange; why would they write that on the card? It's because the original wording read that the "caster" can only redirect the damage. Rules updates correctly identify "owners" of cards now (although they tend not to print cards that reference them now a days). On the bright side, if your opponent steals your Personal Incarnation, all they get out of it is a 6/6 creature! [/sarcasm]

Serra Angel: Anyone remember Inquest? I have fond memories of that magazine, even if in retrospect they apparently had no one on staff who was a professional level Magic player, both because Rick Swan was writing for them, and their greatest article ever: "Iron Man Magic," where the staff "played decks with one copy of every card in magic". When I first read it, I thought they really did each play with a giant stack of magic cards, but in retrospect it was almost certainly all made up (I used to watch Wrestling back then too and thought it was real).

But man, Dave the Camel winning it all was genius writing at least.

What? Serra Angel? Oh yeah. Well, Inquest was by the same company that brought people Wizard, which would trip over themselves to print pictures of "sexy" artwork, most of which has probably appeared on Escher Girls by this point. Magic, I felt, kind of stymied their efforts; with a few exceptions, Magic artwork is pretty tasteful. But Inquest is pretty low-brow. So I remember them repeatedly trying to turn Serra Angel into some sort of sex-symbol, when the card's biggest "sex" appeal is that yes, she's a woman, and yes, her cleavage is kinda getting pushed together there.

Luckily for Inquest, Alliances would print Elvish Ranger; unfortunately it wasn't nearly as good a card as Serra was.

White Ward: until the errata, this card literally did nothing useful, except put itself in the graveyard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanagi
"A Simple Alpha White Weenie Deck"
4x Savannah Lions
4x Benalish Hero
4x White Knight
4x Mesa Pegasus
4x Crusade
4x Swords to Plowshares
4x Disenchant
4x Armageddon
1x Black Vise
3x Winter Orb
24x Plains
I think this decklist shows that - to a modern player - white's initial offering of creatures was quite weak for a "white weenie" deck. You generally want to play about 20 creatures, but what else would you choose? Samite Healer? The deck desperately needed another solid two drop, which it wouldn't get until Ice Age.

The "playing a threat and then Armegeddoning" plan is pretty solid, used to great effect once Erhnam Djinn was printed in Arabian Nights. The closest "competitor" in Alpha is probably Juggernaut, but that combo starts pulling you away from White Weenie into something more like a "fast artifact mana -> threat -> Geddon" deck.
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  #48  
Old 02-15-2013, 10:23 AM
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I feel like I actually remember Sams being put to decent use in early White Weenie decks, protecting the weenies from plinks from the likes of Tim, or even just forcing R pumpables to spend one more mana.
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  #49  
Old 02-15-2013, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddie View Post
White is kind of a strange mix in alpha/beta; I think Sanagi is right that there's too many colour "hosing" enchantments, and overall I think there's too many enchantments in the colour as a whole, even outside of the wards/cops'. In particular, the enchantments absolutely choke up the common slot; there's a total of four white common creatures, yet six - which would be seven if not for a misprint - enchantments. Add uncommons, and the split becomes seven creatures, fourteen enchantments.

What I'm saying is that if you magically ever go back in time and are drafting Alpha/Beta, don't play white unless you rip a Wrath of God and get passed a Serra Angel.
Yeeeeah, that was the first thing I noticed looking at that list as a primarily limited player these days "Four creatures at common?" We're going to be seeing this a lot, especially before Tempest which, I believe, was the first set that was actually designed to support draft.

Someone needs to jog my memory on sealed, I think alpha suggested it or something similar with a different name?
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  #50  
Old 02-15-2013, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Eddie View Post

Mesa Pegasus: This card shows off kind of how bad banding is; the flavour is sort of there (another creature can "ride" the pegasus), but due to the way the rules on banding work, any non-flying creature the Pegasus bands with on an attack will allow a non-flying creature to block both of them, and on the defense any flying creatures that are attacking can only be blocked by other flying creatures. You can count all the other creatures that can fly and band on one hand, and they're all pretty terrible as creatures (save for Urza's Avenger, which is okay).
Yeah. Banding is already weak enough that you could play a deck of 30 Benalish Heroes, 10 Crusades and 20 Plains and you'd probably go most games never using it. What you imagine it doing is enabling your little guys to gang up, attack, and beat down some big creature, but that works better on defense, with first strike, since it's the defending player who chooses which creatures meet up in combat.

Quote:
White Ward: until the errata, this card literally did nothing useful, except put itself in the graveyard.
It's also strange that the modern errata has been added to the other four wards. I guess it ensures that White Ward will never be better than the others once Sleight of Mind mixes things up, but no one ever plays with the wards in the first place, so...

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Weenie is a euphemism for small.
That's what she said etc. etc.
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  #51  
Old 02-15-2013, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Sanagi View Post
It's also strange that the modern errata has been added to the other four wards.
That's because players started to cotton on to using the laces as ward-killers.

Which reminds me: The early days of Magic were interesting in terms of rarity. I think their main philosophy behind what cards go where was that commons were simple and straightforward, uncommon were the "workhorses" and rares were either too powerful (Royal Assassin, Shivan Dragon) or too specialized (Lich, Stasis) to print at any other rarity.

This led to some odd choices, like False Orders and Sinkhole being common, Psionic Blast and Demonic Tutor being uncommon and Roc of Kher Ridges and Timber Wolves being rares.

Last edited by Büge; 02-15-2013 at 07:45 PM.
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  #52  
Old 02-15-2013, 10:49 PM
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Rarity is absolutely the reason lotus and the moxen (and recall) saw print, it was assumed most groups would have at most one or two of any single card, and thus while the initial design and play-testing showed them to be super powerful it was thought that things would be fine since the environment wouldn't allow them to be abused.
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  #53  
Old 02-16-2013, 03:05 PM
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Alpha part 3: Blue

Card of the Day: Counterspell

Blue is doing a lot of amazing things in Alpha, but Counterspell does what Blue is best at: Nothing. Whole lot of nothing. Counterspell has to be played in response to another card, but it is the most versatile answer to any threat: A simple "No." Two blue mana says nuh-uh, you don't get to do that.

Blue is unique among the colors for being unable to destroy cards once they're on the table. Instead, with Counterspell, Blue can stop cards from ever getting to the table, but the timing has to be right. If something gets through, Blue can fall back on Unsummon to stall for time and get another opportunity to stop the threat.

Blue rewards clever players who can bluff and read their opponents. In the early days of Magic, having two islands at the ready sent a clear signal. Blue mages would learn to keep those islands ready, and a couple of cards in hand, even if they couldn't follow through on the threat. Sometimes nervous players would lose because they were afraid of Counterspells that didn't even exist.

Counterspell has a long and glorious history in Magic, but it was finally put out to pasture, as much for its frustrating nature as for its high power level. Hardcore counterspell decks are known as "Draw-Go" because all they do during their turn is draw a card and pass the turn. Bluffing and feinting tactics are fun, interactive, and lead to great stories, but if one player can simply stop anything from ever happening, that all goes out the window. Counterspell had to go.

This has long been the way of things for Blue. In Alpha, and for many years after, blue was the strongest color. Partly this is because blue is defined as the color that slowly builds up to its potential, but could cheat that limitation with artifacts like Sol Ring and Mana Vault. Partly it's because blue was The Smart One, which forced the other four colors to play dumb by comparison.

The infamous Power Nine, consisting of the most desirable cards in existence, contains six artifacts and three Blue cards. No other color makes the list. Let's take a look at those three Blue cards.

Ancestral Recall. One mana, draw three cards. Normally in Magic, you only draw one card each turn, so drawing three is a huge advantage. In the abstract, Ancestral Recall accomplishes a similar task to Wrath of God - exchanging one card for many. But Ancestral Recall does it more cheaply and reliably. It's pure upside for no risk and almost no cost.

In Alpha, each of the five colors has a spell that gives you three of something for one mana. The others are common, but Richard Garfield must have quickly realized how insane Blue decks would be - even modest ones - in a world where everybody was stocked up with piles of Ancestral Recalls. So Ancestral Recall became the most desirable rare card short of Black Lotus itself.

Up next is Time Walk, which simply gives you another turn. This is a very basic board game kind of idea, but in Magic there are so many things that happen in a turn that this card ends up doing things that Blue shouldn't be able to do, like play more lands and get extra attack phases. It's a rare deck that doesn't want to take more turns.

Lastly, Timetwister reshuffles players' hands, libraries(decks) and graveyards(discard piles) and gives them each a new hand of seven cards. The main appeal here is drawing seven cards, even if your opponents get in on the action. Magic cards that say "Draw seven" tend to be very, very good.

The Magic designers will return to the concepts of these three cards in years to come, and even some of their "balanced" versions will prove to be broken.

A less powerful but no less interesting power of Blue's is text-altering via Sleight of Mind and Magical Hack. I have a soft spot for these cards. I think every Magic player in those days had a moment when they read the line "Change the text of any card" and the room started to spin. Sadly, the usefulness of these cards is limited. Due to the way targeting works, Magical Hack/Volcanic Eruption is not a combo(you have to play Eruption first, targeting some mountains, before you get a chance to Hack it, and it will be automatically countered for having illegal targets). Hacking Sea Serpent is similarly pointless. Even if you do have a killer combo, the cards are going to be useless until you put them together, and then they'll turn sadistic. Still, as random surprises, Sleight and Hack are hilarious, and that sense that anything is possible is one of Magic's most exciting features.

Weaker tools at Blue's disposal include taxing and punishment through enchantments. In theory, these fit into Blue's control strategy - an opponent who's paying for Power Leak and trying to avoid getting hit by Psychic Venom will be distracted and more likely to get shut down by counterspells. But my recollection is that nobody ever played these cards, because counterspells were already so strong on their own. Taxing for mana will later be moved into White, and taxing for life will be Black, sometimes Red.

Similarly, in the future, Green will get some limited card drawing as part of its theme of growth, and Red will get a lot of trickster-like meddling in the form of temporary theft of creatures and retargeting of spells. And on that note...

COLOR RELATIONSHIPS
Blue's control is allied with White's law.
Blue and Black agree that knowledge is power.
Blue's science is opposed to Green's nature.
Blue's intellect is opposed to Red's emotion.

As always, check out the list of Blue cards in Alpha and add your comments.
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  #54  
Old 02-16-2013, 03:38 PM
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"A Surprisingly Aggressive Alpha Blue Deck"
4x Phantom Monster
4x Air Elemental
4x Mahamoti Djinn
4x Clone
4x Control Magic
4x Counterspell
4x Unsummon
4x Psionic Blast
1x Time Walk
1x Sol Ring
4x Mana Vault
22x Island

Rather than go all-out with counterspells, I thought it'd be fun to build a deck with some teeth. Blue has a suite of underrated flying creatures at four, five, and six mana which are hard to defend against. The goal here is to either accelerate to four mana using Mana Vault and Sol Ring, or stall for those early turns with Counterspell and Unsummon. Then you start playing Air Elementals, Mahamoti Djinn and Clones every turn until your opponents fold under the pressure. Sigh... I excluded my favorite card in Alpha because I already had too many expensive cards. Oh well.

Another thing that got me thinking along these lines is the versatility of Time Walk. It tends to be played in control decks just to untap, draw a card, and play a land. But this deck takes advantage of the opportunity to attack twice in a row. Granted, this is all imaginary and I've never actually touched a Time Walk in real life, but it gratifies my deck-building urges.

I also like the life payment aspect of Mana Vault and Psionic Blast. This feels totally wrong for a Blue deck, but in an awesome way. Mana Vault was eventually restricted to one copy per deck, but it was quite a few years later, during the artifact madness of the Urza block, so I figure it's fair game. (Technically, upon Alpha's release there were no tournament rules at all yet, but let's not go completely nuts.)
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  #55  
Old 02-16-2013, 05:57 PM
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I just want to say that this is the best thread.

How much are you planning to cover?
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  #56  
Old 02-16-2013, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanagi View Post
Counterspell had to go.
Sez you. I'm still sore about this.

Things like Time Walk aside, I come across most of these when I'm leafing through my friends' older cards. For some reason none of them ever had Mana Short or Drain Power, though. Both of them seem deliciously evil, especially in conjunction with Stasis.
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  #57  
Old 02-16-2013, 09:12 PM
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Oh God, when I first started out (arooooond, 6th Edition I think?), my old buddy here in town used to spank the SHIT out of me with these guys.

(After, of course, slapping down every good spell I tried to cast with Two Blue Says No.)
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  #58  
Old 02-16-2013, 10:11 PM
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shivam shivam is offline
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that blue deck up there? i ran that deck for years and years. mahamoti djinn is the best.
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  #59  
Old 02-16-2013, 10:24 PM
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Mr. J Mr. J is offline
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Control Magic is one of the alpha blue cards that I remember a lot. Stealing has become a big part of blue in magic and Control Magic is a very pure example of this. It's insanely powerful because it gains tempo and card advantage. You spend 4 mana to get their best creature that they, hopefully, spent 4 or mana on. Then they have to find a way to kill it which costs then a card and even more mana.
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  #60  
Old 02-16-2013, 11:26 PM
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TirMcDohl TirMcDohl is offline
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That ability has partially migrated to Red, with stuff like Act of Treason.
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Tags
blue is for cowards , ccg , game design , magic the gathering , mtg , red is for real men , trading card game , two blue says "no" , wizards of the coast

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