ello and welcome back to my maniacal lab! Actually, scratch that. I'm the maniacal one, not my lab. Well, not yet. By the time I'm finished with my Personification Phaser-Gun, the lab itself could be the one laughing amidst thunder and lightning. Although, I suppose it could have different personality traits. Anyway, I can't wait to test the gun on other inanimate objects, like my socks, or Sylvester Stallone.
Since I also zapped the first paragraph of this article with my invention, I'll go ahead and give a personality to the rest of this non-theme week column. Apologies for not inventing this earlier: I must have spent too much time fixing the Passionometer, but no worries, as the Magic summer of 2010 promises to be the final turn of the wrench in that regard. What with Archenemy (which is a total blast of fun and creativity ... more on it a bit later) and the soon to be released Magic 2011 coming out within months of each other, things are starting to heat up. Speaking of the newest core set, previews begin next week, so get excited!
In the meantime, what's there to do around this lab right now? Well, I've recently rediscovered the concept of hindsight! (I know that technically doesn't make sense, but just roll with it.) Happily, one of the entities I've rediscovered is rebound, which seems fitting, as well as our favorite humongous praying mantis buddy, Gigantomancer. Thanks to two great emails from readers like you, I'm able to share some new ideas with these concepts.
First though, I'm going to begin with a card I haven't yet looked at. (Get it? It's not hindsight because I haven't looked at it yet?) The card, Hellion Eruption, is big, bomby, and red. My favorite ingredients! We'll leave the hindsight to the next two sections. Just curious, but can't there be a similar reaction with the other four senses? Hindsmell could be useful, while hindhearing is what everyone is forced to do when Sylvester Stallone talks. (Two Sly jokes already. I guess I should be sentenced with a ticket for The Expendables.)
Active (Volcano) Hellions
That's neat. Maybe Volcano Hellion had too high of an echo cost and erupted into tons of other, smaller Hellions. There's probably a more accurate flavor depiction of Hellion Eruption, but I like that one.
I liked Hellion Eruption from the get-go upon viewing the Rise of the Eldrazi spoiler for the first time. However, I got a bad first impression with the rare when I played with it in Limited. Mana-screwed, but stocked with Eldrazi Spawn tokens, I found myself in an uncomfortable position. I had tons of creatures to benefit from the Eruption, but I couldn't actually cast it without sacrificing them all. I knew cards like Emrakul's Hatcher and Kozilek's Predator were supposed to work well with Hellion Eruption, but I needed enough mana.
I solved the problem during my first deck building session with Johnny stalwart Doubling Season. Now if I were mana screwed, I'd get double the Eldrazi tokens, and wind up sacrificing only half to cast Hellion Eruption, which would then give me double the 4/4 Hellion tokens! It's like having your cake erupt and eating it too.
Helpfully, I then happened to receive this email in the middle of my deck building process. It was from Jacob McCullar, who had a Standard Hellion Eruption deck he was kicking around on Magic Online. It contained numerous Eldrazi token-producers, as well as Dragon Fodder. However, the real combo he informed me of was with Magma Phoenix, another bomby recent red rare that I completely forgot about. What a deal! Sacrifice the Phoenix among other creatures during the Eruption, and deal 3 damage to each creature on the battlefield. Your 4/4 Hellions will survive the blow, but I bet your opponent's creatures won't. And to complete the great combo, simply regrow the Phoenix later on for more fun.
I added similar creatures such as Mudbutton Torchrunner and Furystoke Giant, which is another great creature to be Erupted. It'll come back and give all your non-hasty Hellions something to do, like deal massive amounts of damage.
Extended (until July 1)
I like the singleton of Wort, as alongside Doubling Season he'll produce four Goblin tokens and give Hellion Eruption a basic quadruple. The rest is interchangeable with any red-green token deck, I just took the Eldrazi spin.
Let's Have Another Ball, Paul
Referencing my own Pixies reference seems strange, but then again I could make some new Pixies references to even it out. That last deck could be called Gouge Away, for instance. Reviving a Magma Phoenix from the graveyard is kind of like Digging for Fire. Heck, Black Francis probably is Toshiro Umezawa in secret. But I better stop before I lose my mind, and have to ask where it might be.
I've talked about Gigantomancer before, about a month ago, and I thought I had closed the lid on the scarily powerful Elf Wizard. Turns out, I was way wrong. Faithful reader and emailer Abbott Veldhuizen (architect of the ideas of Uyo, Silent Prophet + Cruel Ultimatum, and Selective Memory + Undying Flames) introduces his best idea yet. Since his words speak more to his own idea than mine, here's Abbott:
At eight mana, Gigantomancer is a difficult card for even ramp-heavy green decks to cast; and once they do, the 'Mancer is such a high-profile removal target that your opponent will probably just untap, cast a removal spell, and swing at your completely tapped field (possibly for lethal, since you should not have been blocking much these past few turns.) For a while, this sad truth was enough to turn me away from one of my favorite green cards.
Then, one day, while searching through Gatherer: Oh, hello there, Wild Pair! I haven't seen you in a while!
Presently, a deck started coming together. Using an Elf-driven ramp deck, I could put out Wild Pair, then cast any old one- or two-mana elf to pull out Gigantomancer and use his ability once or twice on the same turn. This, hopefully, would be enough momentum to swiftly cause my opponent a painful, aggro-induced headache.
But it wasn't enough. Despite the fact that I'd accomplished my goal, something was missing—my wins just weren't "completely broken" yet. Then it hit me: I can use Gigantomancer's ability in response to Wild Pair's trigger, letting me search up, not a 1/1, but a 7/7 (or something of comparable power/toughness.) Any powerful, game-shifting fatties I could ever want—my personal favorite choices for the deck are Iona, Shield of Emeria; Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund; and Verdant Force—were suddenly completely feasible as early as turn FOUR. Oftentimes, in testing, I could pull out more than one in the same turn.
Extended (until July 1)
This, step by step, is the combo:
1) Ramp into Wild Pair.
2) Cast any 1/1 Elf; with Wild Pair, put Gigantomancer onto the battlefield.
3) Cast another 1/1 Elf; put Wild Pair's trigger on the stack, then use Gigantomancer to make the newly cast Elf a 7/7. Search up whatever huge finisher you like.
4) Repeat step 3 as many times as you can manage.
5) Next turn: untap, pump, swing.
Well, that's astounding. Turn four Iona and/or Verdant Force? Of course, that's the miracle draw (with Joraga Treespeaker getting you a turn three Wild Pair.) I subbed Elves of Deep Shadow in for Druid of the Anima for speed purposes, and added another 7/7, Xathrid Demon. It's perfect, as you can use Gigantomancer to make a meaningless mana Elf into a 7/7 just for sacrificing purposes!
I received this humorous email from Darth Parallax that, well, speaks for itself.
You've heard of Multiplayer.
You've heard of Star, Emperor and EDH.
To add to this list, Wizards has released even more casual super-bombs, such as Planechase, and the not overhyped ENOUGH Archenemy.
The format I am about to suggest is, while painfully simple, also unimaginably awesome to think of.
Put them all together.
Thats right. You heard me!
A Star. (Player count 5)
Emperor. (Player count 15)
EDH (no more 2 digit numbers in the game)
There is only one name for this game. It must be: THE ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN!!!!!
Here's the deal: the five Colors of Magic are represented by the 5 Emperors. They sit in a Star. There EDH decks must be led by a mono colored General of their color. The Emperors, AND ONLY THE EMPERORS, may use PLANESWALKERS as Generals.
Each Emperor has two Lieutenants. Each Lieutenant has a two-colored deck. The White General has a White-Blue Lieutenant and Green-White Lieutenant and so-on and so forth. The Lieutenants also use an EDH-legal deck.
Each Emperor may use his/her army to attack each other as per normal Star-Emperor, but in the very middle of it all ... it is HIGHLY recommended that they first deal with ...
200+ Card EDH Deck. Except it's not singleton. At all.
100 Life Points to start.
I'm not sure if this is enough. Try experimenting and tell me what you think.
20+ Card Plane Deck. The only rule in constructing the Plane deck is that it must have at LEAST 3 different Plane Cards in it. Otherwise, go wild.
20+ Card Scheme Deck.
And did I mention?
10 Cards in hand and maximum hand size.
And he goes first, draws first.
Any other bonuses your playgroup thinks the ARCHENEMY needs to balance against 15 potentially working together decks should definitely be used, no matter how over the top.
The Lieutenants never win independently. They are always part of a team. The Emperors and the ARCHENEMY are each trying to be the last one standing. If an Emperor dies, their Lieutenants die.
The Key to making the ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN the best and most tense it can be is if the power of the ARCHENEMY is balanced to be about no more than two Emperors + their Lieutenants. Make the Archenemy too strong, and you will force a coalition.
Have fun blowing the Multiverse all to hell!
Wow. This format is more than wacky. It'll harvest your brain if you contemplate it for too long. I'd like to try it, but I'd need about twelve more players and twelve more emergency medical staff on hand. For more multiplayer madness, head to the Magic Community Labs and brew something up.
See you next week, for Magic 2011 previews!