Art by Kev Walker
It seems that lately I’ve been rediscovering old habits. First, it was World of Warcraft. Now, my father has me playing Magic: The Gathering again.
I first started playing back in high school. This was around the time the expansion Legends came out. I collected cards steadily until after my years at Bloomsburg. Then, in a moment which I still don’t quite comprehend, I gave them away to someone I haven’t seen in years.
Can’t even remember their name, honestly.
Anyway, a few years ago when I moved down to Philly, Paul Bagosy lured me back in. The Time Spiral block had just begun, and along with promising new and interesting ways to play with time, the set also brought back old favorites in a “timeshifted” form. We’d meet at the Roundtable down in Conshohoken to buy boosters, trade cards, even play in tournaments. Those were good times.
The Roundtable has since closed, an event that still makes me sad. I now live in Lansdale, quite a bit away from Paul. But I’ve held on to my cards. And my father has been teaching my niece some of the nuances of the game and invited me to come play as well.
Now, I’m not buying more boosters. I simply don’t have the extraneous cash. And if I did, I’d be buying Starcraft 2 and putting down pre-orders for Cataclysm. No, I have to build decks just with the cards I have. Thankfully, that year or so of binging on the game has left me some powerful and interesting alternatives. It’s something of a challenge, actually, to go through my “vault” of cards and put something together that’s both fun to play and stands a chance of winning a duel.
Here are the three decks I’ve assembled, or re-assembled, so far.
Reanimator: This is a deck built around Teneb, the Harvester. The idea is to have big creature cards that I discard from my hand, only to have the big dragon, Dread Return or Resurrection bring them into play. Creatures in this deck, quite simply, don’t stay dead. Greenseekers keep the mana flowing while Undertakers do some of the other reanimating cards’ heavy lifting, and both put fodder for the big three feature cards into the graveyard from my hand. It’s needed a couple tweaks to streamline its performance, but so far it’s doing okay. It’s always nice to not only have the option of casting a big creature for less than its normal casting cost, but also to snag an opponent’s creature from their graveyard.
Sliver Legion: Exactly what it says on the tin. There are no creatures but slivers in this deck. Rainbow decks can be difficult to manage, but Gemhide Slivers help fix any mana problems and Homing Slivers fetch anything I need from my library – my Sedge Sliver for example – for a mere 3 mana. Give it a few turns, and suddenly every creature I field is flying, regenerating, gives me life when it deals damage and has double-strike. It’s pretty fast, to boot, which is good considering how much my dad likes burn decks.
Chronomancy: I’ve dreamed of this deck since I first got into Time Spiral. My girl there, Jhoira of the Ghitu, is something of an inspiration, since the deck is built around controlling the game through suspended cards – Arc Blade, Chronomantic Escape and Reality Strobe. A couple Paradox Hazes to give me extra upkeeps, Timebugs and Rift Elementals for counter control, and a few different answers to creatures and spells allow me to keep an opponent off-guard before I break out the big guns. And if said guns are too expensive for me to bring out because of their mana cost (“hardcasting”)? Jhoira’s ability gives them suspension, and puts them in the dugout eager to come into play, for 2 mana. I think this one’s really going to annoy some people. And I slipped Walk the Aeons in there for good measure.
I also recently came across the synergy between Magus of the Future and Momir Vig, Simic Visionary and it’s got me thinking of yet another deck. This one probably featuring Vorosh, the Hunter in a starring role. A creature feature, if you will.
Who else out there is playing Magic? Where do you play and what sort of decks do you run? Has it been a while for you since you’ve played? And if you want me to post the actual lists for any of these decks, let me know. No secrets between you and me, Internets.