Boomtown

When I write about Magic decks, I’m typically sharing ideas for the purpose of spreading fun around our card-slinging community.

Not today.

Today, I’m going to write about the antidote to fun; the extinction of fun. Well, except if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool griefer. Those guys will enjoy what follows an unhealthy amount.

If you play Magic to:

  • Meet new friends
  • Enjoy cool and complicated board states with big splashy plays
  • Shake hands with your opponent after an honourable match, then have them earnestly wish you good luck for the rest of your tournament
  • Still like yourself by the end of the tournament

…just stop reading now.

Remember the good old days?

You know, the days when it was OK to print cards like Sinkhole?

Sinkhole is one of a very specific breed of magic cards: the kind which shut down your opponent’s ability to actually play the game, starting on turn two.

While land destruction effects are widely despised in any form, they are typically confined to cards costing three or more mana; this allows a slightly larger window for an opposing player to try and establish themselves in the game.

At two mana, it is conceivable that a player going first could blow up each land their opponent plays every turn, beginning with their first, before a second can ever be deployed… or at least until the survival of those lands becomes irrelevant in the face of a vastly superior board position.

Thankfully, Sinkhole is relegated to older formats in which it sees little play – formats so powerful that they can shrug off such punitive disruption. No-one playing a more contemporary game will have to worry about such demoralising shenanigans.

Boom - Bust

Oh…wait.

Boom//Bust is a split card from Planar Chaos, which offers two options both decidedly unfriendly to the real estate on the board. For the uninitiated, split cards work very simply: you can play them as either of the spells printed on the card, although usually not both.

It’s also legal for play in Modern, a format which looks set to be used for at least one round of PTQs each season for the foreseeable future.

And Boom costs only two mana.

But I don’t want to blow up my OWN lands, you fool

Don’t worry, my disproportionately angry friend – neither do I.

Boom only

If Boom was guaranteed always to kill one of our own lands, we simply wouldn’t play it. It would put us at a card disadvantage which would rarely be worth the sacrifice.

Happily, there exist ways to make the card rather more one-sided. The first and best known of these is Flagstones of Trokair, a land which, when it dies, handily replaces itself if your deck has been constructed correctly.

Flagstones was used to mitigate the downside of Boom in this way in Time Spiral block and the accompanying Standard format, so many older readers may be familiar with it. However, building a deck with only four lands which can help us break the symmetry of our marquee spell is going to yield underwhelming results. We need more lands that play ball.

…which brings me to Darksteel Citadel.

Artifact lands are almost universally banned in Modern, having enabled the dreaded affinity deck in some of its more potent previous incarnations. A by-product of this ruling is an obsession on my part with running the sole survivor, Darksteel Citadel, in various decks. Those decks typically care about the land being an artifact, so it will play nice with Tezzeret the Seeker and Thirst for Knowledge; this one is a break from the norm, because it only cares that the Citadel can’t be blown up.

It is the ideal partner for Boom, enabling multiple copies all on its lonesome.

Eight lands still isn’t enough for me. I want more!

Fetchlands are not the premier target for a Boom, but they’ll do in a pinch. The trick works as follows:

  • Cast Boom, targeting your fetchland and an opponent’s land
  • DO NOT pass priority. On Magic Online, you achieve this by holding down the CTRL key as you cast the spell.
  • In response to your own Boom, crack your fetchland. Keep holding that CTRL key until the ability is on the stack!
  • Put your fresh new land into play.
  • Allow Boom to resolve. Since your fetchland is gone, it now only has one target: your opponent’s land, which will die ignominiously.

The reason that this isn’t an optimal play is that you need two mana plus a fetchland in order for it to work – so you can’t cast Boom on turn two if a fetchland is your only target. At worst, this version makes Boom into a Stone Rain, which is still a respectable spell; if you have a one-mana play which you can make using the land you just fetched, you’re still gaining some tempo.

Four spells does not a deck make

I’ll concede that point. We need more ways to blow up lands if we want the strategy to work. Luckily, there are cards at three mana which fit the bill.

  

Of this motley pair, I’m more attracted to Molten Rain. It’s marginally harder to cast, but I plan to deploy a deck which won’t struggle to hit RR by the third turn – and I expect the damage it can deal to be relevant.

There is an argument for running both, of course. To make a land destruction deck work, a certain density of spells which will take out a land is required… but having played some of these decks before, I also know that a great way to lose is to flood out on them. There is nothing more demoralising than dying to your opponent’s one-drop creature, which they resolved before you started blowing up all their lands, having smashed their manabase turn after turn. As it attacks you for two, over and over, as each draw step yields another Stone Rain or a land rather than the removal spell you so desperately desire, you may very well go mad.

I want to make space in my deck for cards which can kill creatures and kill my opponent. I also want to have access to extra copies of those cards and my land destruction later in the game.

This brings me to the card which, together with Boom, inspired this particular deck:

Welcome to a world of utter degeneracy

With Snapcaster on our team, we get to do dreadful, dreadful things. The ideal play pattern runs as follows:

  • Turn two: Cast Boom, hitting one of our synergistic lands (ideally the Citadel) and the opponent’s first land.
  • Turn three: Cast Molten Rain on the opponent’s second land.
  • Turn four: Snapcaster comes down, flashing back Boom to clear away our opponent’s third land.
That's exactly what was about to happen here... had my opponent not gone on rampaging tilt and disconnected after the first Boom.

That’s exactly what was about to happen here… had my opponent not gone on rampaging tilt and disconnected after the first Boom.

This is clearly an amazing draw, but it’s not actually that unlikely. In fact, simply drawing any additional land destruction alongside a second-turn Boom is very good against a lot of strategies.

Any deck can experience a draw which is light on mana – and in these cases, a couple of lost lands are frequently enough to leave them down and out. Even a draw which sees them make land drops on turns one through four can be severely disrupted by a couple of Molten Rains. The important thing is to capitalise on each stumble, bringing enough pressure to bear that an opponent can be finished off before they can meaningfully recover.

Choosing our threats

My first draft of the deck carried a suite of burn and creatures with which to finish off the opponent – but in an effort to maximise the land destruction theme, they included several Avalanche Riders and Restoration Angels.

  

This was a fine combination when it worked; the problem was, I was creating situations where an opponent was choked for mana early in the game, but I wasn’t putting them under pressure with these creatures until turn four and five.

I kicked the deck around with some much better players and arrived at the idea of playing everyone’s favourite one-mana threat, the mighty-morphin’ Delver of Secrets, to start bringing the heat from turn two onward.

  

I still had space to plump for some four-drops, though – but again following advice, I pushed through my budget-friendly instincts and traded my way to some premier planeswalkers:

  

Ajani supports my strategy in the same way as Avalanche riders, typically taking out a land for the whole game… but he can also keep a threat under wraps, give me some help burning an opponent out or even wreck their mana for good if the game goes longer.

Elspeth, as it was put to me, is just awesome.

Topping the curve, I wanted something which would hit like a train and help me to close out the game in short order. Happily, I didn’t have to shell out anything for the perfect candidate, whom I was fortunate enough to pick up for next to nothing when he was unfashionable:

Full disclosure: this guy is pretty pricey, so if you’re looking for a budget alternative, I’d try something like Archwing Dragon. It’s more mana intensive, but cards in this slot should generally only have to attack once or twice for you to win.

The rest of this deck is rounded out four copies each of four strong cards, all of which help advance your strategy or close the game.

  

  

  • All this deck ever wants to do is profitably cast Boom on turn two. Casting Serum Visions on turn one will help to make that happen.
  • Lightning Bolt needs no introduction. Alongside Lightning Helix, it gives the deck a means of mopping up creatures which have slipped through before you started cutting off your opponent’s mana… and equally important, it provides reach to let you finish things off before the opponent stops reeling and starts casting good spells.
  • Remand helps us to keep an opponent bottle-necked, whilst drawing us into more action spells. It can be surprisingly effective in a land destruction strategy: remanding an opponent’s play, then untapping, making a land and snapcastering a molten rain to cut them off from playing it again feels pretty good. That said, it’s the spell I’m least sure about in the deck, since I want to be spending my mana proactively with almost every other card… holding up two mana to counter something can be awkward.

Just show us the deck, already

Here is my current working copy of ‘Boomtown’:

Boomtown Delver

The maindeck, I’m pretty happy with. The sideboard is, frankly, a mess… but it’ll get better as I play more matches and understand which strategies I’m really gunning for.

  • Sudden Shock is a little piece of technology I adopted after some tough matches against poison, but it has proven to have further-reaching value.
    • It kills a Glistener Elf or an Inkmoth Nexus stone dead, regardless of how many pump spells the poison player has in hand.
    • It kills an Arcbound Ravager, or any potential target for his modular counters, without a moment of concern.
    • It kills Kiki-Jiki or Melira, as a Pod player goes for their combo, in a way that eliminates all chance of shenanigans.
  • Wear//Tear is a bit of a catch-all utility card, but I like it. So far it has destroyed Birthing Pods, Vernal Blooms, Cranial Platings, Inkmoth Nexi, and Oblivion Rings. I hope to snag a few Prismatic Omens in due course.
  • Slagstorm I’m a bit ambivalent about. I added it because I noticed that decks with an abundance of mana-creatures could ignore my core strategy – and I wanted to be able to punish them for committing lots of them to the board. I plumped for a three-damage sweeper so that I could handle a wider range of creatures… still, I’m not sure it shouldn’t be Pyroclasm.
  • Boros Charm… this used to be in my maindeck. Some games I would win simply because I had aggressively Lightning-bolted my opponent early, then managed to charm them for four, untap and snapcaster them for the final four… but my win rate didn’t really dip when I exchanged them for more Remands. I still have them as insurance against sweepers and some extra reach, but I rarely side them in. They should probably go.
  • Restoration Angel is here because A) I’m addicted to value and B) I sometimes feel like I want another creature or two which can sneak in damage. Since they aren’t essential enough to make the maindeck, I could see just dropping them.
  • Smother is my concession to Tarmogoyf. By including them, alongside a single Watery Grave, I give myself an out to one of the most popular threats in Modern. Short of that, I have to race the Goyfs or tap them down with Ajani, which is less than ideal.

Put your money where your mouth is

I may be about to punt a large number of these

I don’t generally build decks which have an eye on cut-throat competitiveness; it’s not my style. However, this is a land destruction deck with a healthy smattering of premium cards in it, so I can’t kid myself that’s it’s a purely fun contraption built for shits and giggles.

For that reason, I’m not going to treat this in the same way I do my other, more friendly durdlings: this is not something I will be running out in the casual rooms simply for the joy of playing. If I’m building a deck which is only acceptable in competitive surroundings, I owe it to you, the reader, to actually measure its effectiveness in that environment.

I will therefore be vacating the Tournament Practice room, where this deck was born and took its first steps, for the steeper climbs of the Two-man queues. My plan is to jam as many games as my ticket balance will allow, then report back to you with my findings.

  • If all goes well, it will be a valedictory post in which I pat myself on the back for a work of deck-building greatness
  • If it goes rather more realistically, the article will at least serve as a warning to inveterate brewers about how easy it is to throw away your money online

Be it tragedy or triumph, I will endeavour to make it funny – and to include a number of comedy screenshots, come rain or shine. Cross your fingers for me.

The Pig Detector

PIG

Tell me, dear reader: do you know how often the humble pig is depicted in popular culture?

I do.

Can you say with certainty that you will detect any such depictions whenever and wherever they cross your path?

I can.

Now, you maybe saying to yourself, that seems unlikely.

Our modern world is crammed full of competing stimulus, bursting at the seams with colours and sounds and live broadcasts and brand messages and 24/7 information feeds.

How could a mere man be certain, were he even to want such certainty, that no porcine reference would elude him?

The answer is simple. I have acquired a Pig Detector. An infallible Pig Detector.

The process of detection

As a user of the Pig Detector (AKA my son, David) my experience could not be simpler. I need only to carry him with me, occasionally pausing to perform simple maintenance work such as producing food, diluted fruit juice and fresh nappies. His hyper-sensitive pig-detection algorithms will do the rest.

A typical detection event will run as follows:

  1. Carry David into a new area, such as a room of the house, street, retail location, visitor attraction, etc.
  2. Hear David emit his signature Pig noise.
  3. Cease all activity.
  4. Patiently scan the entire area for the Pig image you know is present.
  5. Eventually find the image. Point at it.
  6. Hear David emit his signature Pig noise.
  7. DETECTION COMPLETE.

You want proof?

My son can detect a Pig anywhere, no matter how obscure the depiction appears by comparison to a real pig. If this sounds like hubris, allow me to present the evidence.

Name: Piglet

Location: Retail display, Mothercare

Piglet

Status: DETECTED

Name: Peppa, George and Daddy Pig

Location: Casually lying on top of a fixture, Morrisons

Peppa and family

Status: DETECTED

Name: Digby Pig

Location: Inside David’s buggy

Digby Pig

Status: DETECTED

The Gameplan

Leveraging this remarkable ability might be somewhat challenging – it is, after all, a pretty niche specialization – but I’m optimistic that we can find a way. As the continued success of supercar sales during the world economic downturn has proved, people are always willing to pay for quality.

Alternatively, it proves that rich people simply have more money than sense, but if anything that bodes well for the launch of commercial Pig detection.

I’m currently still at the information-gathering stage, by which I mean I’m hanging around in public places such as cafes, restaurants and soft-play venues, hoping to overhear conversations which contain key phrases like: “…if only I could track down that damned PIG!”

Over to you, pig-seekers

In 2011, a crack Pig Detection professional was sent to Broxburn, West Lothian, with his parents, purely because they lived there.

This individual promptly escaped the traditional, stereotyped lifestyle of a toddler, into the underground pursuit of swine-tracking. Today, still supported by his parents, he survives as an elite hog-locator.

If you have a problem (related to missing or hidden pigs), if no one else can help, and if you can find him….maybe you can hire… The Pig Detector.

BrrrrrRRRRMMMM!

Fatherhood is filled with fun noises: the night-time scream which heralds a day of falling asleep at one’s desk, or the wet, convulsive sound of a full-bottle milk vomit spring to mind.

But if you’re in the market for unironic, grin-inducing noises, it’s hard to beat a child’s interpretation of a roaring combustion engine.

Chicken or Egg

The truth is that I’m not sure which came first: a prompt from me, in the shape of a half baked engine noise made whilst playing with his toy cars, or an honest-to-goodness-impersonation-of-the-vehicles-passing-the-house from David. But I do know that he ‘got’ the connection between his tiny toys and the great metal beasts rolling around on the road almost instantaneously.

The process began on David’s first birthday, when both sets of grandparents presented him with automotive gifts.

A gaggle of wooden vehicles

A gaggle of wooden vehicles

A thumping great dumper truck

A thumping great dumper truck

I’m sure they were working on the basis that boys get cars, girls get dolls or something similarly traditional; sentiments I would disagree with in principle, but which I think are relatively harmless and commonplace. What none of us could have predicted was how strongly David would respond to this particular kind of toy.

Within a few weeks, wooden cars were the preferred source of amusement in the house. This quickly escalated to a love of the wooden truck, closely followed by anything else with wheels.

Note the subtle pursing of lips which indicates engine noise emission.

Note the subtle pursing of lips which indicates engine noise emission.

All the time, as his passion grew, David’s play was punctuated with that signature sound: BrrrrrRRRRMMMM!

The Next Level (or ‘How I learned to stop worrying and love the Reversing Alarm’)

I have a much clearer recollection of the young man’s next milestone. It started with me trying to be a smart-arse and ended in almost intolerable cuteness.

Ordinarily, our play would work like this:

  1. David would pick up a car, then drive it back and forward exclaiming: BrrrrrRRRRMMMM!
  2. In 50% of cases, I would take one of the other cars and join in, to his delight.
  3. If I didn’t immediately join in, David would pick up another car of his own accord and present it to me with an urgent grunt.
  4. I would then consider myself ‘told’ and join in, making engine noises of my own.

Sitting on the rug, playing with his wooden truck, I decided to mix it up a little. I drove the truck forward in the customary manner then, after a few seconds, stopped and began slowly reversing it whilst projecting a steady beeping in my best sing-song voice.

If I’d known just how quickly David would seize on this new and enthralling detail, I might have paused for a moment before introducing it… but probably not.

Beep... beep...beep

Beep… beep…beep

Within minutes, he was alternating enthusiastically between growling acceleration and the high-pitched metronome of the reversing alarm. This habit has not left him since; endearingly he makes no distinction between forward and backward motion when deploying either sound.

Why stop at Trucks?

At some point during an unsettled phase, I hit upon the idea of streaming videos of vehicles on my phone to entertain a very tired and ratty David. The ploy was an instant hit.

Searching for new videos to show him, I happened upon a cache of clips featuring plant machinery: from the official promo videos produced by JCB, to the shaky, hand filmed footage of an earth mover which someone had recorded in their own street. David’s reaction was incredibly enthusiastic, particularly when one of the diggers so depicted began to emit a reversing alarm.

“Beep! Beep! Beep!” he responded, as if he had finally encountered something with which he could have a sensible conversation.

Over the following weeks, toy diggers rose to the top of his playtime food-chain. His favourite, from the Early Learning Centre, even makes its own (oft-copied) engine sound at the push of a button.

These guys are particularly noisy.

Reaching the Pinnacle

A few weeks ago, my partner emailed me a picture which represents perhaps the high point of David’s life so far – at least in his opinion.

"This is what I was BORN TO DO," proclaims the stunned expression.

“This is what I was BORN TO DO,” proclaims the stunned expression.

After months of admiring and coveting the vehicles of others from afar, David finally found himself behind the wheel. Admittedly, this particular model had all the technical sophistication of Fred Flintstone’s favourite drive, but that mattered little: a landmark had been reached.

Reports suggest that David, for once in his life, made very little noise whilst in the car. He simply beamed, rolled it around and beamed some more.

So he likes cars. What’s your point?

My point is this: I have no special affection for motor vehicles or plant equipment – but I have, for the first time, been able to appreciate what it is like to encourage my child in an interest I don’t share.

Often, I’ve wondered if I would be disappointed should David fail to share my love of say, Science Fiction, or tabletop gaming. What I’ve realised is that it’s completely lopsided to think about his interests in those terms.

It’s not my job to notice and react to the ‘gaps’ in David’s spectrum of enthusiasm, because as human beings our passions aren’t concerned with what we don’t care about. They’re affirmative statements about the things that seize our attention, that grab hold of us and stake a claim to territory in the landscape of our brains.

I won’t have time to worry about the places where our interests as Father and Son don’t overlap, because I’ll be too busy marveling at the things which do excite him and thinking about how to help him milk the most enjoyment from them. David’s happy, roaring engine sounds make it irrelevant whether, in the future, he cares about Star Wars or not: right here and now, his eyes shine at the sight of Haulage yards and Fire Engines, Tractors and Fiat Puntos.

I’m going to focus on eliciting more and more of those happy reactions… and I already know where I’m heading next.

Truckfest Scotland

BrrrrrRRRRMMMM!

Stealing a library for fun and profit

IMPORTANT NOTICE

If you’ve visited this post to find out how one might steal the valuable contents of an actual Library (for instance the surviving relics of the famous Library of Alexandria), I am afraid I have to disappoint you. This is an article about the Magic the Gathering card game, not the plunder of priceless cultural heritage.

If you already knew that this article was about MTG, but wanted advice on how to steal a copy of the card Library of Alexandria, I’m afraid you will also be disappointed. Also, you are a terrible human being; seek help.

If you already understood the MTG connection, aren’t actually bent on larceny, plus you have always fantasized about repeatedly beating up on your opponents with their own resources, congratulations! You are in the right place.

Su casa es mi casa

It can be a tough life, brewing Magic Decks on a budget.

All around you, players with less drains on their disposable income are packing their decks with premium cards, while you are forced to build with scraps. All too often, you will run your eye down the length of your latest artwork and experience a sinking feeling, as you realise that it would be greatly improved by the addition of 4 Sphinx’s Revelation… a suite of cards from which you are separated by, at the time of writing, approximately $85.

Can you spare a brother 850 dimes?

If only there were a way to play with all the revelations, huntmasters and geists you desire, whilst still being able to pay your mortgage at the end of the month.

Well, happily, there is.

My new BFF

I’ve recently started ‘stepping out’ with a new man, doing all sorts of fun things like running through the surf of golden beaches hand-in-hand, or sharing one huge milkshake with two straws in a 50’s-style malt shop. His name is Nightveil. Let me introduce you.

NV, meet the guys. Guys, meet NV.

Nightveil and I have similar interests. We like MTG, cheesy romantic gestures and playing with cards from other people’s libraries.

We first met shortly before the start of the main Saturday Gatecrash prerelease in Glasgow, where a competitor from the midnight event pushed him across the table toward me with the words: “…this guy was insane every time I cast him.”

As I looked at him, I ran through an internal thought process which covered some of these key points:

  • The baseline power level for a playable creature has been creeping up in recent years.
  • This creature doesn’t have an obviously pushed power/toughness ratio for his mana cost.
  • He doesn’t have an ETB effect, so if he dies before he damages the opponent, I am left with nothing.
  • He’s apparently a specter, but he doesn’t get rid of cards from the opponent’s hand, just their library.
  • There’s no guarantee I can even cast the cards I exile. How is that good?

Luckily, the man making introductions wasn’t finished.

“He lets you play any of the cards you exile,” he continued enthusiastically, “Including lands! So if you can protect him for a few turns, you end up getting the right colour of mana to play the other guy’s spells just by naturally stealing his manabase.”

Inside my skull, a correction began to unfold.

  • If I can naturally play lands from the opponent’s deck…
  • …and most decks are close to 50% lands…
  • …this creature will, on balance, be drawing me a card every two turns.

Drawing additional land is certainly the kind of thing I’d want to be doing in a control deck, where consistent mana development is key. Perhaps NV did have some fringe uses, I began to think.

  • If I can hit lands over the course of a few turns, I might start to turn on the opponent’s spells too…
  • …which would start to drive the value of his ability closer and closer to ‘Draw a Card’…
  • …as well as providing a one card mill, which might have incidental value in a match where life totals were unlikely to be relevant.

If only I could find some way of increasing my ability to cast spells from off-colour decks, I thought, me and NV could potentially get some work done.

  • Chromatic lantern is an actual card, recently printed and cheaply available.

Remember me? We met at the RTR prerelease and you’ve been looking for a good reason to play me ahead of keyrunes ever since…

Hold the phone. We can perfectly fix our mana with a useful accelerator? Is our Specter just an Ophidian in the right deck?

  •  Ophidians haven’t really been good for quite some time.
  • Scroll Thief, Stealer of Secrets, even Dimir Cutpurse didn’t cut it.
  • Of course, Shadowmage Infiltrator saw play…
  • …because he had evasion.

I stared down at NV with fresh eyes.

  • This creature is essentially an Ophidian.
  • It has evasion.
  • It incidentally mills my opponent.
  • It has a respectable set of power and toughness, with the latter being especially relevant: blocking 2-power creatures is a thing, now.
  • It doesn’t die to Pillar of Flame or Ultimate Price, which are small but relevant edges against popular removal.

I was onboard… and in my brain, I started to brew.

The Specter’s playground

To make Nightveil Specter really sing, it’s necessary to build a deck that gets the most from his little edges.

For starters, we want a deck which:

  1. Plays for the long game
  2. Will be happy to utilise someone else’s land drops
  3. Can obtain value from incidental milling

To my mind, this suggests a controlling strategy with an alternate win condition of milling the opponent’s library. By fortuitous coincidence, Nephalia Drownyard is a card which is allied to NV’s colours and has already proven its worth against the ponderously slow, life-gaining control decks running around the Standard landscape.

Highly effective AND sporting awesome art? The perfect card.

So, we’re running a control deck, complete with Drownyards and Nightveil Specter. What are our other considerations?

  1. Our deck works best with a Specter in play, so it would be nice if we could protect one.
  2. It would be nice if our milling suite wasn’t dead in games where milling wasn’t in itself the means of victory.
  3. It would also be nice if we could leverage value out of the subtle distinction between drawing cards from our library and from our opponent’s library.

If we’re going to protect a Specter and we’re already a blue deck, it would make sense to have some counterspells. Since we’re also a black deck with a milling theme, it would make even more sense for some of those to be Psychic Strike, a shiny new toy from Gatecrash.

I have a sneaky feeling that this may turn out to be a very good card. I wonder if I’ll feel stupid or visionary in a year’s time?

Next on the list: get value from non-lethal milling.

There are a large number of creature decks in Standard. Milling the opponent’s guys might be useful if we could make such milled guys into a resource. Enter another pet card:

Have I finally found the deck for you to shine, old pal?

The Lich does double duty in our deck, stealing dead creatures from the other side of the table and recurring our own Specters which have met a grisly end. But so fond am I of the first interaction, I brought a friend along for him…

It wouldn’t be one of my decks without at least one card which made competent players shake their heads in disgust.

Many of you are tutting as you read this, remarking aloud that I seem unable to tell good limited cards from good constructed cards. Let me explain before you hastily close your browser window.

The Lich is great, but he’s slow. Sometimes, you will want to abuse the opponent’s graveyard with immediate impact: the Primordial is happy to oblige. He steals big creatures for a very small mana premium and bumps them straight into play. He can create two large roadblocks when you are facing aggression, or a very fast clock if you need to close a game.

Even better, he can be recurred himself in the late game by the Lich. In case you’re wondering, that is an absolutely dominating play and well worth screen-shotting if you pull it off on MTGO.

This brings us to the most difficult question: how do we leverage the fact that we aren’t drawing our deck, but someone else’s? Why might it be better to draw someone else’s cards rather than our own?

To properly answer this, I’ll need to share some of my observations from playing the deck which I’ll share with you shortly.

The Specter draws cards which don’t go to your hand, but are exiled attached to him. This creates a vulnerability, in that if he is killed, you lose access to those cards. But it also creates an opportunity: if your hand is full, you can enjoy a ‘virtual’ increase in hand size, because the game doesn’t care that you have 2 under the Specter when it comes time to discard.

That’s not to say you should store up his exiled collection – by contrast, I tend to snap-play any lands he draws and am strongly incentivised to use exiled removal on the same turn – but it is sometimes relevant when you are involved in a war of attrition. Little edges add up.

There is also an advantage to using your opponent’s threats and answers rather than your own: let’s call it effect density.

When I take your Thragtusk and play it myself, I’m achieving a couple of things beyond just drawing the card.

  • I’m reducing the number of Thragtusks you can use in a game by one.
  • I’m getting the benefit of a Thragtusk without having to spend a slot in my deck to do so.

These are not irrelevant advantages. Particularly in a Standard environment where players are loading their decks with premium creatures, they allow me to build a deck with a very low count of game-ending threats, confident in the knowledge that such threats can likely be obtained in other ways. The space this frees up in my library can be filled with answers and resource-advantage effects.

The little Specter that could

I finally settled on this list as a provisional home for NV:

4 Watery Grave
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Nephalia Drownyard
3 Evolving Wilds
4 Island
6 Swamp

1 Devour Flesh
2 Victim of Night
2 Ultimate Price
4 Think Twice
1 Cyclonic Rift
2 Snapcaster Mage

4 Psychic Strike
4 Nightveil Specter
3 Chromatic Lantern

1 Rewind
2 Inspiration
3 Mutilate

2 Havengul Lich

1 Sepulchral Primordial

3 Syncopate

While I don’t want to spend ages talking about every slot in the deck, I can summarise the approach I took in deciding them as follows:

  • I wanted to make sure I stayed alive, hence the plentiful removal suite.
  • I wanted to make sure my Specters stayed alive, hence the plentiful counter suite.
  • I wanted to have enough card draw to keep the deck ticking over, whilst allowing me to hold up countermagic, hence the Think Twice/Inspiration package.
  • I wanted to use all those effects multiple times, hence the Snapcasters.

The card I’m least happy about is Inspiration, but I can’t find a better solution for the moment on my budget. Suggestions are welcomed, although ripping other people’s card draw from the top of their library has been helpful up to this point.

If you like it, try it

This marks the start of my personal journey with NV; however, better players than I abound and if there is a truly powerful deck to be found which abuses the little guy, I am sure they will find it. Perhaps this post might start them thinking.

If, like me, you simply want to enjoy the feeling of playing a large Sphinx’s Revelation (which your opponent was kind enough to donate to you) in response to a removal spell on your Specter, be my guest. There is no sweeter premium mythic than the one you didn’t pay for.

1

They do say, young man, that leopards don’t change their spots; but they talk rubbish and we all know it. How long has it taken (with your help) to change every part of my life?

You’ve changed so much I barely even recognise some of your baby pictures; I’ve changed completely, because now I’m someone who likes to look at baby pictures.

Let me show you:

Less than a week old

Less than a week before your birthday

The same guy? If I hadn’t seen you grow with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it.

When I sat down to write this little note, I had only the haziest idea of what it would look like; I knew I wanted to leave you another little milestone for the future, so that the time around your first birthday would be as accessible for you as the time of your birth, but beyond that I had a blank page.

I finally settled on borrowing a tradition from the office of the US President: please consider this the first annual State of the Next Generation Address.

A grand upheaval

I’m not sure it’s possible to convey just how enormous has been the change to my habits, desires and priorities your arrival prompted; but I’m a game guy, I’ll have a bash.

In the very early weeks of your life, your mother and I had to deal with two major tremors in the fabric of our lives.

  • On the Emotional level, we had to get our heads around just how precious you were to us and how big/scary/downright unwelcoming the world was for a little person. That meant many moments of worry, of dizzying responsibility-related panic, of beating ourselves up over small mistakes in your care… it also meant many moments of quiet communion with you during late night feeds, or soppy tears and husky voices as we read you stories. It’s a big, big love to have drop into one’s lap and it took a while to get used to it. Honestly, there was a time in the hospital when I thought I’d never be able to hold you without tears… a granite-jawed, stoic frontiersman your old man is not.
  • On the Practical level, we had an incredibly complex, time-intensive routine to incorporate into our normal functioning. Speaking only for myself: I’m not good with chores and maintenance-type tasks. Getting on top of the feeds, changes, sleeps, sterilisations, baths et al that you brought with you was pretty challenging. There were a lot of actions and they were required very regularly; it was a thorny process, involving many raised voices from all three of us.

The primary factor in achieving comfort with these changes was a simple one: confidence.

A very good friend (and one of your many uncles) expressed it best to me when talking about bringing his second child home: “Well,” he shrugged, “You know they’re not going to blow up… so it’s fine.”

That’s the truth of the matter. As each day passed and nothing awful happened, we started to become less stressed; at the same time, you began to space out your sleeps and feeds as your own rhythms settled down. We became slicker at doing all the maintenance jobs; at the same time, your level of demand for those jobs began subtly dropping off.

In the months leading up to your half-year, my memory becomes a bit of a blur. I know there was a lot of lying around, combined with a fair amount of hilarious fashion decisions into which you had no input. Luckily, you don’t have to rely on my hazy descriptions, as your mother has a host of photographs:

You appear terrified, but that bear suit is nonetheless one of my fondest memories.

This is from a coffee shop in St Andrews, I believe – part of a long tradition of photos in which we’re largely chopped out. You’ll be used to it by now, I suppose.

At the time of writing, this is the closest you’ve ever been to PJ in your life.

I included this one just for laughs. Sorry, mate.

As you can see, these were some good times. You had moved on from being a tiny, largely unresponsive baby to a bubbly wee guy with recognisable features and an interest in the world.

One of my most treasured memories from this stage is of carrying you around in your baby harness:

I will never get tired of these pictures. If you ever feel like shrinking so I can fit you back in that thing, just let me know.

Once we reached the half-year mark, you really started to up the pace. Firsts arrived with the regularity of Scottish raindrops.

  • You started wriggling around a whole lot more – we’d find you in all sorts of bizarre, sprawling positions when we walked into your bedroom in the morning.
  • You began sitting up of your own accord, which seemed a revelation at the time, but was quickly dwarfed by your other spiralling achievements.
  • Your risk-taking nature started to assert itself (or your Mother’s – a matter of interpretation) as you began taking to swings, ballpits and the garden.

As ever, these moments are preserved in glorious technicolour:

Nap? I thought you said ‘gymnastics’.

Move the bottle, son, it’s undignified.

Faster, faster MUHAHAHAHAHAHA

You were always this good-looking; even my DNA couldn’t hold you back.

As we closed in on your first birthday, every day was a surprise. You’ve never been quiet, sunshine, but your chatterbox nature really started to exert itself:

  • You had favourite words and sounds which you would repeat, over and over. At one point, you said ‘Bob’ so frequently that we assumed he must be a close personal friend; later, you would spout ‘sugoi’ in long, gurgling chains. I’m told it means ‘awesome’ in Japanese, which indicates that you were already an optimistic cosmopolitan even at this early stage.
  • A range of ear-piercing shrieks and deafening bellows were deployed, to indicate your impatience with our failure to feed or amuse you sufficiently well or quickly. If you ever complain about someone else being demanding, forgive me when I laugh blackly in your face.

You weren’t just getting louder, either: you were becoming mobile.

  • At first there was the rolling; you would stretch yourself into a crude spindle and tumble sideways toward nearby objects. This was hilarious to watch, but heralded the end of that precious period during which we could set you down in  one spot, nip to the loo and expect you to still be there when we returned.
  • Then came the commando crawling. Whenever I was called upon to describe the pained, desperate way you would drag yourself forward an inch at a time, I could only compare it to watching Sean Connery’s grim struggle after taking an abdomen full of lead in action classic, The Untouchables. Watch it and see if it brings back any memories.
  • Latest in the developmental line is your full-throttle crawling. As I type, you are perhaps the fastest thing on four legs in our house – and trust me, the cat is no slouch. It is both exhilirating and terrifying to watch you barrelling around the domestic environment, finding specks of dirt to eat, hinges in which to jam your fingers and cat food to decorate the kitchen with; how close I feel to each end of the spectrum is a function of how likely I am to catch up to you before disaster strikes.

Here are a few of your highlights from the run-up to your first birthday. Please note: you spent a lot of time at the swing park!

With your good pal, Music Bunny

With your good pal, Music Bunny

 

BANANA!

BANANA!

Photogenic doesn't really cover it.

Photogenic doesn’t really cover it.

You were no stranger to the Seven Seas, even at an early age. YA-HAAAAAARRR

You were no stranger to the Seven Seas, even at an early age. YA-HAAAAAARRR

In short, you’ve come a long way from eating, sleeping and involuntary muscle movements. You’re a proper little guy – and watching you grow is proving to be more fun than I could ever have imagined.

Lifelong learning

More eloquent people than I have remarked on the double-life a parent is obliged to lead, as both teacher and student. All I can add to their insight is an extra, assenting voice.

You came into this world knowing almost nothing, David, but you weren’t quite the blank slate I had imagined you would be. It wasn’t so much what you had to learn that surprised me, but what you didn’t – the mannerisms and attitudes which were written into your DNA, but which I had always assumed would have been the product of nurture over nature.

I’ll give you the perfect example: when you are tired, you roll your head from side to side. You do this whether sitting up or lying down, wherever you happen to be. When I first saw you doing it, I presumed that you were irritated and struggling to be free of my interference. Your mother corrected me; when I asked her how she knew, she replied that she did the same thing.

“No you don’t,” I retorted, to which she responded by demonstrating her version of the motion. I was immediately struck by a feeling of having seen, but never recognised a fundamental pattern – it was obvious in that second that I had seen her roll her head a thousand times, but had never connected it with tiredness or, latterly, with your behaviour.

It was a wonderful moment. Your mum was demonstrating for me the unbreakable bond that will always exist between you; without words, she was telling me that on a fundamental level, you were made of the same stuff. I knew intellectually that this was true, as I knew it was true for you and me, but this was the first time I felt it. Every time since, when you exhibit a behaviour of yours which reflects one of ours, I get the same little thrill.

Of course there are many things we do need to teach you – and let me be clear, you are a quick learner. Having seen you explode forward from the start line of total helplessness to your current milestone of exuberant exploration, I know just how quickly you can push back your own horizons. I promise you that I will never underestimate your potential having seen the leaps already made.

I can’t round off a section on learning and teaching without stressing how much you have taught me. Thanks to you, I’ve learned:

  • That even a man who hates domestic chores can change nappies and clean bottles like a pro when your welfare is at stake.
  • That it is possible to have more fun sitting on our living room rug with you than cube drafting.
  • That I could love you more today than the day you were born, an idea I would have laughed off at the time.

Bring on Chapter 2

I’m told that children of two are ‘terrible’ – but I’m quite happy to find out for myself. It’s been great fun hanging around with you this last year, so I can’t believe that your company over the next 12 months won’t be worth swallowing a few tantrums for.

I’ll be back, once the dust has settled on this next stretch of our journey, to document it all for you once again. I hope we’ll read this together one day and share some laughs, when you’re taking your first steps into the big bad world, or perhaps even when you have kids of your own. I also like to think that, even when I’m not around to talk to, your childhood will still be here for you to explore and to wonder at as I did first time around.

I love you, bambino. Until next year…

Clash of the Titans

Tonight, we do something… different.

Tonight, we push the boundaries of what is possible with the meager resource pool of 12 geeks and 540 pre-sleeved Magic cards.

Tonight, we play team cube sealed.

Dear reader, you will of course recall my primer on the nature and appeal of cube-drafting… skimmed it again? Good.

With all that in mind, let me tell you a tale of triumph, tragedy and camaraderie.

Late in the evening, we descended like a cloud of geeky, chuckling locusts upon Spellbound Games (Glasgow’s premier gaming store – and arguably the most community-integrated business I have ever encountered). Huddling in our threes, we filtered through the stacks of over-powered cards, trying to find amongst them the most appalling, degenerate things we could possibly do to each other.

What’s that, you ask? Who’s ‘we’? Let me break it down for you:

Team Handsome AKA The Thawing Glaciers

Gerry, Duncan and Billy

Bacon Buddies

Antwan, Stuie and Chris

Doomgape

Paul, Doug and Peter

Inter YerMaw

Gordon, James and Yours Truly

I would spout lavish biographies for each contestant, but I’d only end up failing to do the other gents justice before musing for several paragraphs about why I make a twat of myself in every photo; that would be a painful process for all involved. Let’s get to the meat of the thing.

How it goes down

Each of the four teams receives a stack of 135 randomly determined cards, a quarter of the total cube pool of 540. Over the following 50 minutes, they must collaborate to build three decks from the cards available in that stack, adding basic lands as required from a separate pool.

The deck-building process is a delicate balancing act. The teams must consider several factors:

  • What archetypes are available?
    • Does the stack contain a host of small, efficient creatures and burn which lend themselves to aggro decks?
    • Is it jammed full of controlling effects which clear the board, draw cards and present enormous threats late in the game?
    • Are there any highly synergistic combinations of cards which suggest a particular type of gimmick deck?
  • What colour combinations and splits are viable?
    • Most decks in a cube event will be in at least two colours, even if one is very clearly the primary colour and the other a splash.
    • When building three decks, it’s important to consider which colours are strongest in the pool; which colours will sit most easily together, based on the mana-fixing which is available; and how it is appropriate to split up certain colours.
    • Some colours lend themselves to being split as splashes amongst multiple decks, if the right cards are present; for instance, red and black typically have removal options without heavy mana commitments, so they might be apportioned to several decks in order that they all have a chance to deal with problem creatures.
  • What is the appropriate power distribution amongst the decks?
    • Once a pool is opened, certain combinations of cards may represent a powerful core or theme for a deck.
    • If multiple packages like this exist, how hard should the team work to split them across the decks? Should they be as evenly spaced as possible, or crammed into one deck to create a monster which will almost guarantee a match win each round?

There’s more, but hopefully this will give you a flavour of how difficult the decisions faced by each team are.

Our personal challenge

In last night’s event, the men of Inter YerMaw were faced with a series of tough calls. a quick glance at our pool revealed:

  • The tools for a powerful green ramp deck
  • The mana fixing and variety of effects for a fairly interactive White/Blue/Black (Esper) midrange deck
  • The creatures and burn for a Red/White (Boros) aggressive deck with a clunky curve, but brilliant equipment

In the process of building, a few things became clear:

  • It was difficult to decide on the optimum configuration for the Esper deck, as the effects were almost universally of medium power and the options were so varied. Even today, we are still debating card choices!
  • The Boros deck was walking a difficult tightrope between including all the amazing equipment in our pool and ensuring that it had enough creatures to actually carry that equipment.
  • Close to the end of deck-building, with the clock ticking loudly, it started to dawn on us that the Green deck (now including black and a series of very neat interactions) was absurdly powerful.

With the ‘end of deck-construction’ alarm ringing, we were forced to accept that complete optimisation of our strategies was a pipe-dream. Now we had to roll the dice, sling some spells and hope that it all came together.

Playing the event

Once deck construction is complete, each team chooses a seating order for its members, which will determine the opponents each will face in their matches: Team A’s player 1 will face Team B’s player 1, etc.

The teams are then randomly drawn against each other, after which point the players will sit down opposite their numbered counterparts and play a match. The team’s result overall is determined by the aggregate of the match results: if Team A’s players 1 and 2 win and their player 3 loses, Team A will win the round 2-1.

One endearing feature of the team format is the ability to confer with your wing-men (or gal-pals; cube is a gender-equitable pursuit) throughout the event. In practice, this means consultations over whether starting hands are suitable or should be mulliganed, or guarded discussions about which sequence of plays will produce the best results on key turns.

Round 1: Inter YerMaw vs. Doomgape

Nervous and excited, we took up our positions.

  • In seat 1, wielding our strong Green/Black (Golgari) deck, I faced off against Peter.
  • In seat 2 was James, packing the Esper midrange brew against Paul.
  • In seat 3, Gordon rounded out the line-up, facing Doug with our Boros concoction.

With apologies to the Magic-illiterate segment of my audience, I’m afraid I must now get technical.

The Golgari deck was exceedingly complex, running a toolbox of creatures which could be fetched by Fauna Shaman and recurred with Genesis and Volrath’s Stronghold. Squee was one of these creatures, greatly enhancing the strength of the interaction. This made it very powerful in the long game and incentivised me either to slow down the play, or accelerate my own game plan.

   

Luckily, acceleration was not a problem, as the deck also had a suite of ramp spells to put me turns ahead in mana development. It also had some strong cards to abuse the early ramp, in Grave Titan and Wurmcoil Engine.

 

Finally, it was packing a Crucible of Worlds engine, which included Strip Mine, Wasteland and Evolving Wilds.

   

Yes, folks, we really opened this in a sealed deck.

My games against Peter, who was playing a Red/Green (Gruul) beatdown deck, went largely as follows:

  • Peter would mulligan, then deploy some early threats whilst I developed my board.
  • I would activate Fauna Shaman, resolve a Plow Under, or play a strip mine and start to improve my hand while attacking Peter’s mana.
  • Eventually, I would stabilise on a low life total, with Peter hoping to draw a burn spell which could finish me off while I tried to close that window of opportunity by gaining life or killing him quickly.

The range of powerful options and trickery available to the deck made it a joy to play. Peter fought valiantly to make an impression for his team – and twice had me dead to any burn spell on top of his deck – but ultimately didn’t have the tools to push through a ridiculous series of interactions. In fact, in our second game the board state became so stupidly lopsided that his teammate Paul was only able to laugh out loud when consulted.

Of course, Paul himself was playing a deck which created either laughter or despair for his opponents. James found out, to his cost, what it was to play a deck full of solid spells against a who’s-who of the cube’s top 20 cards. Paul started the match with a first-turn Sol Ring and things went downhill from there. Each time I glanced to my right, he had added a Kokusho, or a Liliana of the Veil, or a Griselbrand, or a Recurring Nightmare to his side of the table.

   

James’ face was, increasingly, a work of dark poetry.

When the match was over, Paul even managed to flash a Mind Twist which he had never deployed, leaving us to roll our eyes and wonder why a cold, distant god despised us so.

In the pivotal clash, Gordon lost out narrowly to Doug’s slightly ‘bigger’ aggro deck, whose creatures slightly overmatched his own. After the fact, he declared himself unhappy with the overall feel of his deck, foreshadowing a lesson we would eventually learn for future Team events.

With the next clash looming, Gordon and I broke for some much-needed chicken snacks.

The only thing I regret is waiting until 9pm to get started on this bad boy.

Result: Doomgape 2-1 Inter YerMaw

Round 2: Inter YerMaw vs. Team Handsome

As if it wasn’t intimidating enough to face a crack unit named for their formidable beauty, I had the misfortune of lining up against ‘The Handsomest Man in Scottish Magic’ himself, Billy Logan.

Seat 1: I faced Billy, sporting a Blue/Red (Izzet) control deck.

Seat 2: James took on Gerry, who was playing a base-Green ramp deck which included the brutally powerful Mirari’s wake.

Seat 3: Gordon’s opponent was Duncan, whose deck I didn’t get a great look at – suffice to say it was also playing some red spells.

My games against Billy were extremely uninteractive, with one player or the other gaining the ascendancy through a series of powerful and inevitable plays.

In the first, I managed to win despite the fact that Billy resolved a Bribery which put my Grave Titan into play under his control. The secret? Pack Rat, an egregious card in limited formats which was part of my Fauna Shaman toolbox.

Suffice to say that, without true mass removal, Billy’s otherwise excellent deck had very little in the way of answers to a rat.

In the second, Billy countered my Fauna Shaman to cut off early access to the rat, then locked me out with a Frost Titan as I stumbled slightly on mana.

The third game was a true testament to the power of Pack Rat. I kept a hand without green mana, but with a rat and two colourless utility lands. A rat on the second turn essentially ended the game, although Billy played like a man possessed to try and cut it off. Eventually I drew Squee setting up an unbeatable engine which quickly ended the match.

Sadly, in seat 2, James had been overrun by the powerful, early monsters Gerry had ramped onto the board; while in seat 3, Duncan had similarly claimed the spoils for Team Handsome.

As we prepared for the next round, James and Gordon were both expressing dissatisfaction with their decks, while it was increasingly obvious that a traffic cone could have piloted my degenerate stack to a winning record.

“Activate Pack Rat, discarding Squee. GG mate.”

Had we made an error in not consciously splitting its powerful combinations across all three decks? It certainly felt that way to my teammates – and I was left to regret waiting until so late in deck construction to start focussing on those cards, which if addressed earlier might have yielded a more even distribution of our pool’s ‘oomph’.

Result: Team Handsome 2-1 Inter YerMaw

Round 3: Inter YerMaw vs. Bacon Buddies

Entering the home straight, our team had the dubious honour of being the only one firmly out of contention for 1st place. Nonetheless, a quick pep talk had us firing on all cylinders again, determined not to go quietly into the night. Imagine Judi Dench quoting Tennyson in Skyfall and you won’t be far off.

Seat 1: I faced Chris, running classic Blue/White (Azorius) control.

Seat 2: James was up against Antwan, piloting a spicy Boros recipe which included Stoneforge Mystic plus Sword of Body and Mind.

Seat 3: Gordon met Stuie, rocking a pretty nutty Green ramp deck himself.

My matches with Chris were not tremendously well-balanced. Although he set a high standard for power with his opening play, Library of Alexandria, I was able to fire off Plow Unders in both games and get my engines online to grind out the wins handily. I cannot overstate how powerful the axis of Fauna Shama/Squee/Genesis/Pack Rat was when my opponent had  no way to interact with my graveyard.

The fun stuff was happening elsewhere, however…

Gordon had the joy of staring down the following sequence of plays from Stuie in their first skirmish:

  • T1: Forest, Elf, Mana Crypt, signet.
  • T2: Forest, Primeval Titan, cheeky wink.

   

Predictably, he did not take the game from that position.

As Stuie continued to demonstrate why fast, plentiful mana is a bad thing for game design, the deciding exchanges were taking place in seat 2. James and Antwan were reaching the climax of their third game as I wrapped up my own match and I was able to join in the final decision of the game.

The board state:

  • James on high life, with 4 cards in library and Consecrated Sphinx in play alongside Celestial Colonade and oodles of Mana.

 

 

  • Antwan on 3 life, with 2 cards in hand and two mana available, a Stoneforge sporting the Sword of Body and Mind.

 

It was Antwan’s end step and James cast Impulse, which in that situation, read: “Tutor your library for a card, then stack your library as you choose.”

The choices were: three uninteractive cards and Remand.

“I take the Remand, right?” asked James.

“Definitely,” I replied, adding nothing to the process except an opportunity to claim later that I was partially responsible for his triumph. Yes, I am that guy.

Seconds later, James swung with vastly more than lethal damage and counterspell backup against a defenseless opponent. It’s testament to just how hard we’d been kicked in previous rounds that we flinched when Antwan pretended to tap mana… before extending the hand with a broad smile.

We had done it! At least one victory was ours – and a greater one had been delivered to Team Handsome, who took down the tournament thanks to our result and some dubiously calculated tie-breakers.

Result: Inter YerMaw 2-1 Bacon Buddies

As the dust settles…

Based on Billy’s stated position of being so pumped about winning that he could, “…play a trumpet with his c**k,” alongside the general sounds of laughter and enjoyment heard around the shop during the event, I’m happy to conclude that this one was a hit. We’re certainly keen to run more team cube in the future – and I expect the only problem we’ll have is oversubscription.

On our next outing, I’ll be particularly conscious not to concentrate all the power in one deck; also, I’ll try to ensure that all the players are involved and invested in the deck they’re playing, so that we don’t have a situation where someone is less than comfortable with their build (as Gordon ended up being this time).

I’d like to offer thanks to Joao, for generously donating his premises to make our cube dreams come true; and to our cubers, who were just a fabulous bunch to rock some cards and some laughs with.

Before I sign off, I just have to share some of my idiotic deck with you all. Ask yourself: does this seem fair? Until next time, cube-lovers…

Wrong, on so many levels