One Thousand and Counting

Magicthegathering.combos—Lorwyn edition

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The letter A!s most of you know, I had to stop writing my magicthegathering.com column a couple of years ago because I couldn't keep churning out that column and the weekly "Making Mayhem" column I write for a certain supervillain website that shall remain unnamed. Since I'd been writing "Making Mayhem" for so much longer, I decided to stick with that one. As a special treat to you, I'm cross-posting my 1001st "Making Mayhem" column here—and, to make it more accessible, I'm lacing it with a number of Lorwyn combos whenever the subject matter is applicable.


Every time I finish another 100 weeks of "Making Mayhem," I write a column where I recap and grade the previous hundred columns. As always, I will use the same scale to grade my columns.

***** (5 stars) A timeless masterpiece equal to or better than the greatest literature mankind has ever produced.
**** (4 stars) A sublime tour de force that will change your life just by reading it.
*** (3 stars) Absolute brilliance. How do I do it?
** (2 stars) Genius. Sheer genius.
* (1 star) Merely fantastic.

And with that, we begin by setting our WABAC Machine (not really; it's in the shop) for column number 901:

Week #901: Nine Hundred and Counting (*****)

I came very close to giving this column an extra star, but I didn't because my scale doesn't go up to six stars. So I came very close to revising my scale and adding a sixth level (Nobel-worthy), but then all my previous 5-star columns would look bad in comparison, and that would just be unfair. So I left it alone... for now.

Week #902: The Knick-Knack Knack (*****)

Everyone goes gaga for Bond's gadgets, but supervillain accessories are just as cool. This "Top 10" list, which doubled as my Christmas list, covered everything from the sword cane to the diamond-encrusted orbiting laser.

Week #903: Things I Hate! (*****)

As a maladjusted sociopath bent on world domination, I clearly have some misplaced anger issues. Every few weeks, on the advice of my therapist, I use a column to write a rage-filled screed condemning something I particularly hate. I discuss why I loathe it, how much it motivates me to take down society just to get rid of it, and what I'll do to it (or the people that use it, depending on what it is) after I conquer the earth. By this point, I've used up all the really big topics, like the hypocrisy of the press, slavish consumerism, and mushrooms on pizza, so I'm getting kinda low on my list. But that doesn't mean I hate them any less!

This week's topic: Itchy trigger fingers! (The literal kind, not the metaphorical kind.)

Week #904: Interpol's Most Wanted (*****)

It's nice to be wanted... but is it nice to be "wanted"? Is it better to be famous or infamous? All modesty aside, no one is more familiar with both sides of this particular issue than I am, so I wrote a back-and-forth with myself to debate which is cooler: infamy or, um, famy. If I hadn't been blacklisted by Joseph Pulitzer himself, I'm sure this column would have won more awards than it did.

Combo: Hunter of Eyeblights & Immaculate Magistrate

Make your own "most wanted" list! Immaculate Magistrate paints a big fat bull's-eye on one of your opponent's creatures in the form of +1/+1 counters, then Hunter of Eyeblights uses it for target practice. It's also good with Sheltering Ancient in place of the Magistrate, since the Hunter nicely nullifies the Ancient's cumulative upkeep drawback.

Week #905: Do You Mind? (*****)

For Mind Control Week, I got a little meta and simply deployed a web app that hypnotized everyone who clicked on the link to my column. You remember it being a fascinating, funny, well-written column... though you're not really sure what it's about, and every time you try to remember, you experience a slight headache and a fuzzy purple aftertaste.

Week #906: The Best Defense is Air Defense (*****)

The five most harrowing blimp attacks I've ever been part of, either as the attacker or attackee. Oh, the humanity!

Combo: Kinsbaile Balloonist & Jagged-Scar Archers

Here's a combo to look for in Lorwyn Limited play. The Balloonist can give flying to any creature when it attacks, not just one of your own. Launch one of your opponent's creatures into the skies, then immediately shoot it down with the Archers. Pull!

Week #907: Extreme Makeover: Lair Edition (*****)

The transformation of a volcano into a hollowed-out volcano lair. A must-read if you have a dormant volcano just lying around.

Week #908: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Transcendentalism!

Week #909: Probing Questions (*****)

The pros and cons of hiring a team of aliens to do your dirty work. You would not believe where they keep their cell phones!

Week #910: The Blueprints and the Pauper (*****)

This wasn't so much a column as it was a set of schematics for the Large Hadron Collider, with the oh-so-helpful additions of my snarky comments and doodlings in the margins. Hey, CERN—Building a futuristic particle accelerator/supercollider without holding the earth hostage is like making a jelly sandwich and leaving out the peanut butter. You could... but what's the point?

Week #911: Once More, with Thinking (*****)

To celebrate the self-congratulatory indulgence of reliving one's own past glories, I relived the past glories of the best experiences I ever had reliving my past glories. Man, what a great column that was! Just writing about it brings me back to that former triumph...

Combo: Familiar's Ruse & Mulldrifter
Combo: Galepowder Mage & Mulldrifter

These devastating Lorwyn Limited combos will set you way ahead on the card advantage track. Although the additional cost on Familiar's Ruse seems like a drawback, you can turn it to your advantage by bouncing any creature with a comes-into-play ability, a leaves-play ability, or both. You'll be happy to see that creature again later! Galepowder Mage works on the same principle—don't forget that it has other uses besides clearing out a blocker. Plenty of cards benefit from this kind of attention; Merieke Ri Berit and Aven Riftwatcher are just two examples in a long list.

Week #912: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Silly string!

Week #913: Going Postal (*****)

This was a mailbag column where I answered letters from my readers. This one was particularly interesting because I threw out all the real letters and just made up a bunch of fake ones that were easy to answer.

Week #914: Domo Arigato (*****)

The pros and cons of hiring a team of robots to do your dirty work. You would not believe where they keep their cell phones!

Combo: Cairn Wanderer & Buried Alive & Iridescent Angel & Mistmeadow Skulk & Horde of Notions

Cairn Wanderer isn't a robot, but it sure is adaptable—just program it the way you like it and go! It has an obvious combo with Buried Alive, but which three creatures to get? My preference are for the three mentioned above. This gets you:

  1. Flying
  2. Haste
  3. Vigilance
  4. Lifelink
  5. Trample
  6. Protection from all colors
  7. Protection from converted mana cost 3 or greater

Flying and vigilance are a must for defense. Haste is a must for offense. Lifelink means you're as unstoppable as your monstrosity. And the various protections make it nearly unkillable, nearly unblockable, and nearly impervious to damage. It would have been really nice to get double strike in there, but there's a limit to even my greed.

Week #915: With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends? (*****)

A series of quick interviews with everyone who's had the pleasure of being my arch-nemesis. The deeper subtexts were more interesting, though: To what extent is the arch-nemesis relationship a symbiotic one, and is it acceptable (or even syntactically possible) to have multiple arch-nemeses at the same time? Response was positive, so I'll be revisiting this topic in the future, I'm sure.

Week #916: Time Keeps on Slipping (*****)

We all know that time travel is fun. We all know that time travel is profitable. But what few are prepared to handle are temporal paradoxes—and this is one case where "In the future, I'll use my time machine to come back and fix it" doesn't work! Sadly, most people missed this column because, once cause-and-effect logic was applied, it turns out it was impossible for me to have written it.

Combo: Clockspinning & Jace Beleren

If you're monkeying around with the clocks, it doesn't matter which planewalker you're using; I chose Jace just because he's the same color. Clockspinning can artificially increase Jace's loyalty, ramping him up to his ultimate power in no time.

Week #917: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Atomizers! (They're so much less impressive than they sound!)

Week #918: Blah, Blah, Blah (*****)

Why do supervillains feel the compulsive need to explain their master plans to their enemies before killing them? I tried writing this column in my home office, but it didn't feel right, so I captured a secret agent who had infiltrated my headquarters and explained it all to him. Then he escaped. Who saw that coming?!

Week #919: The Devil You Say! (*****)

I popped through my Hell Portal for a nice chat with the original supervillain: Satan! That guy gets a bad rap.

Week #920: Reading Between the Lines (*****)

For Subliminal Message Week, I detailed a few of the ways that I've hidden subliminal messages in my past columns. Unfortunately, I was a bit too clever for my own good here: All this content was contained in subliminal messages in this column, which otherwise seemed to be about radish farming. Trust me, you absorbed it, and it was brilliant.

Week #921: Come and Get Me! (*****)

Being the sworn enemy of all decent people everywhere can be a burden on your soul. In this column, I told everyone where I was and dared them to come get me. It was truly a tour de force of bravery and machismo, if a tad whiny. Naturally, it was a trap! The end result is that not only did I escape, but all my enemies did too... except for one low-level agent I'd never seen before whose death somehow served as a key emotional motivator for one of my most bitter nemeses. Dude, he was a redshirt! Get over it!

These two badass ladies can team up to take down an army. Fumiko goads all of your opponent's creatures into attacking. They can each block and take down an opponent of formidable size (Fumiko because she has bushido based on the number of attacking creatures; Brigid because she'll deal 4 damage to whoever she blocks before they can touch her). And, of course, Brigid uses all the other attacking peons for target practice.

Week #922: Get a Life (*****)

Immortality: Is it all it's cracked up to be? Supervillains have been chasing this prize for centuries, but there's always some sort of horrible twist (you live forever but you age as normal; you live forever but you can't cross the seal on the floor; you live forever but you're trapped under a rock in a collapsed cavern and no one's looking for you; you live forever but sunlight makes you explode and you can never eat garlic bread again). I pouted about this for a good 5000 words.

Week #923: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Stretch SUV's!

Week #924: The Importance of Being Ernst (*****)

My salute to Ian Fleming, creator of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the granddaddy of all fictional supervillains. From a ninja training academy to an escape balloon to a mind control project masquerading as a humanitarian retreat for a bevy of beautiful young women at a secluded ski chalet, Blofeld dared us to dream. He even had a completely ridiculous spy nemesis who kept trying to chase him down.

Week #925: Kickin' It Old School (*****)

A casual chat with my sidekick Cheyenne Pepper. Many superheroes have sidekicks, but most supervillains are either too megalomaniacal or too paranoid to share operational control. Pepper and I talk about the highlights and lowlights of working for a diabolical genius, whether she'll head back to Evil University (a.k.a. Harvard) after her sidekicking internship is over, and how much of a burden her dumb nickname has been. Hey, she's from Cheyenne and she's really named Pepper. What choice did she have?

Week #926: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Ursa Minor!

Week #927: Revenge of the Vegetables (*****)

From the grabby trees in The Wizard of Oz to El Seed, the supervillainous sunflower from The Tick, anthropomorphized plants are a staple of outrageous evil. This column was written from the perspective of my herb garden.

Combo: Life and Limb & Timber Protector

Want to make your own Army of Barkness? With this combo, all of your Forests are indestructible 1/1 Saproling creatures. A horde of nigh-unkillable minions is nothing to sneeze at (unless you have hay fever or something).

If you're feeling decidedly more vicious, Timber Protector & Bust (of Boom // Bust fame) leaves your Forests as the only lands standing in a post-apocalyptic world!

Week #928: The Non-Vegetables Strike Back (*****)

And then I killed and ate my herb garden as part of a zesty ragout. Sometimes you've got to get those vicious plants before they get you. A look back at the five best anti-vegetation campaigns ever waged.

Combo: Elvish Branchbender & Imagecrafter

Elvish Branchbender can turn any Forest into an X/X Treefolk. Simply divest the Elf of its Elfness with an Imagecrafter (I suggest turning it into a... huh, where'd all the funny creature types go? No, wait, got one: Sponge) and your opponent's Forest will experience the joy of sentience immediately followed by the despair of mortality, since it becomes a 0/0 creature and dies. Talk about screaming trees! That's some hilarious sadism right there. If your opponent isn't cooperating by playing Forests, toss in a Dream Thrush or a Tideshaper Mystic or whatever to make sure she plays along.

Week #929: Date Is Enough (*****)

A list of reasons why having a romantic relationship with one's feisty, condiment-themed sidekick is a bad idea. In other words, the most passive-aggressive attempt to break up with someone ever. Didn't work. Hey, I'm a supervillain—I'm not good at confrontation!

Week #930: TRb*dd9 G93wF#d (*****)

For Secret Code Week, I naturally wrote my column in an indecipherable code. I didn't get a lot of feedback on this one.

Week #931: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Bituminous coal!

Week #932: Alias: Nothing (*****)

As an international fugitive, I've lived off the grid so long that I've forgotten how annoying it is to receive junk mail. As an experiment, I reintegrated myself into society, then pulled myself out again. The most boring week of my life is recounted here.

Combo: Nameless Inversion & Haakon, Stromgald Scourge

My own nameless inversion naturally made me think of this combo. Nameless Inversion has changeling, so it's a Knight—meaning that if you have Haakon in play, you can play it from your graveyard. And then it goes back to your graveyard. So you can play it again. And again. And again. Haakon enables any card with changeling, but this is the one that'll let him most easily ride to victory.

Week #933: Silent But Deadly (*****)

The pros and cons of hiring a team of ninjas to do your dirty work. You would not believe where they keep their cell phones!

Week #934: Sorry, You're Breaking Up (*****)

A list of reasons why ending a romantic relationship with one's feisty, condiment-themed sidekick is a bad idea. In other words, the most passive-aggressive attempt to get back together with someone ever. This didn't work either.

Week #935: Lava Don't Mean a Thing (*****)

Drilling into the earth's core to set of a chain reaction of volcanic eruptions. Not much to say about this one.

Week #936: A Good Henchman Is Hard to Find (*****)

I placed a real ad for a new anonymous, expendable henchman in Soldier of Fortune, The Volcanist, and Anarchy Monthly magazines, and interviewed the candidates. Two of them actually got jobs in my organization, and the rest of them vowed bloodthirsty revenge after being rejected. A quick follow-up: Jonah distinguished himself as a piranha tender and was promoted to the space station, where he's tending space piranha. Wylliam, on the other hand, was positioned in the experimental pyrotechnics lab, and I'm sorry to say that he, um, flamed out.

Combo: Enduring Renewal & Mogg Fanatic & Deathrender

Instant kill! Equip the Deathrender to the Fanatic. Sacrifice it to deal 1 damage to your opponent. Enduring Renewal and Deathrender's abilities both trigger. Stack them so Enduring Renewal's resolves first, and return the Fanatic to your hand. Then, when Deathrender's ability resolves, you put the Fanatic back into play and attach Deathrender to it. Repeat ad infinitum!

Week #937: Purple Haze (*****)

Every so often, I write a column that makes Interpol, the United Nations, and the American Society of Equine Appraisers sit up and take notice. This was not one of them. I don't even know why I mentioned it.

Week #938: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Land sharks!

Week #939: Team-Building Exercise (*****)

Your organization doesn't start and end with the madman at the top; everyone is important, from the evil housekeepers to the evil shark trainers. I examine this philosophy with an in-depth look at The LitiGator (one of my greatest rivals) and his entire org chart, complete with aliases, Social Security numbers, and fingerprints. In a funny coincidence, his whole operation was brought down by government forces within a week of this column going live.

Combo: Incremental Growth & Fungal Behemoth

Incremental Growth can put six +1/+1 counters on your creatures, if you've got three of them out. Plenty of cards love to see a raft of +1/+1 counters hit the table, though perhaps none so much as the Behemoth. If you've got a team approach going, Incremental Growth supports modular, graft (I'm looking at you, Helium Squirter and Novijen Sages), or Spikes. Individual cards like Ion Storm; Daru Stinger; Triskelavus; and Ulasht, the Hate Seed are also strong choices. For extra countery goodness, Ajani Goldmane will put +1/+1 counters on every member of your team at once.

Week #940: The Seven Habits of Highly Evil People (*****)

One of my most popular articles, this really pulled back the curtain for a lot of readers. Out of all the overwhelmingly positive feedback, this email had to have been my favorite:

Dear Mark:
I've kidnapped your sidekick Cheyenne Pepper. I have a flesh-cutting laser hooked up to a Plinko board and aimed at her spleen. Sooner or later her luck's going to run out!!! Send me 10 million dollars now.
Your biggest fan,
Gulliver

See? That guy gets it.

Week #941: Atlas Made a Noncommittal Gesture (*****)

You may think you want to tilt the earth off its axis, but you don't—trust me. An off-balance look at the most lopsided day in history.

Week #942: Where in the World is [Insert Name of Supervillain]? (*****)

A globe-hopping tour of the countries with the laxest anti-supervillainy laws. The Antarctican government will let you get away with anything!

Week #943: Better Volcano Lairs & Gardens (*****)

When you live inside a volcano, you develop an affinity for scorched-earth campaigns. Combining vindictiveness, spite, and sore losership, it's just the grown-up version of "I'm taking my ball and going home!" This column was so precise in its analysis that it was reprinted in the fifth annual "What a Colossal Jerk!" anthology series.

Combo: Purity & Tarnished Citadel

Purity turns noncombat damage that would be dealt to you into life. All noncombat damage—it doesn't matter where it comes from. Tarnished Citadel suddenly grants you 3 life a pop. Flesh Reaver is a 1 ManaBlack Mana 4/4 with lifelink. Ashes to Ashes is all upside. Perhaps the most fun cards are the ones that deal damage to all players... but not to you. You broke the symmetry! These include Heartless Hidetsugu, Price of Progress, and Armageddon Clock, among many others.

Week #944: Putting the Fun in Funeral (*****)

I wrote this column on my laptop during Cheyenne Pepper's funeral. Those things are boring with a capital bore! In this line of work, you're sure to rack up your fair share of funerals and memorials, and I went over the proper etiquette for the service depending on your relationship with the deceased (from nemesis to rival to henchman to on-again-off-again sidekick / girlfriend), and your relationship with the cause of death (i.e., whether you personally killed them, they died as a result of one of your harebrained world-conquest schemes, or—for once—you had nothing to do with it). Awkward!

Week #945: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Igloos!

Week #946: Letter Rip (*****)

This was a mailbag column where I answered letters from my readers. This one was particularly interesting because all the letters were actually subpoenas from big-shot agencies (Interpol, ATF, Netflix) who have been fruitlessly tracking me for years.

Week #947: Eat Your Spam (*****)

This wasn't so much a column as it was a nefarious plot for world domination. The column appeared to be a 50-word paragraph... but each one of those words was a link, and each one of those links took you to a separate page that bombarded you with spam, stole your identity, crashed your computer, and erased your hard drive. One of my most beloved and most hated entries, this one definitely elicited strong feelings.

Week #948: Lucky Charms (*****)

The pros and cons of hiring a team of leprechauns to do your dirty work. You would not believe where they keep their cell phones!

Week #949: Pluto & Goofy (*****)

A running diary of my trip to Pluto inside my one-man space capsule. The loneliness, cramped quarters, cosmic rays, and matter-bending engine technology all fueled my inevitable descent into madness, which is why the last half of the diary was written in a language of my own invention that I dubbed Geniusian. Of course, the punchline to the whole adventure was my discovery, upon arrival at the ex-planet, that it contained no plutonium at all! Talk about false advertising.

Week #950: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Manufacturer's coupons!

Week #951 Drowning in Chocolate (*****)

That title wasn't a metaphor. Sometimes I go on an irony kick, and send my hapless victims to their doom in scenarios they'd normally pray to come true. Drowning in chocolate is sublimely delicious... until the chocolate level rises above your head. This column included three such stories of hysterical cruelty.

Combo: Rule of Law & Forced Fruition

Letting your opponent repeatedly draw seven extra cards is a great way to lose the game... unless he can't use them! In that case, it's a great way to deck your opponent. This partial combo doesn't stand up on its own, but if you add in enough ways to deal with your opponent's threats (bounce, countermagic), he'll lose the game while all his card advantage dreams come true.

Week #952: You're Fired! (*****)

For Ridiculously Oversized Weapon Week, I found out the hard way whether there was a cannon somewhere on the planet large enough to launch a henchman into orbit. (Answer: No.) Quick update: For the past few months, I've had my R&D team working on this obvious deficiency in man-launching artillery. The new answer is: Yes!

Week #953: Undead Again (*****)

Sometimes your ex-living ex-sidekick / ex-girlfriend comes back from the dead. We've all been there. I tackled the finer points of zombie romance (protect your brain!) and dispensed other useful nuggets of relationship advice. This was one of the best zombie sex columns I've ever written.

Week #954: Subterranean Homesick Blues (*****)

You're on the run from a government and/or do-good agency, so what do you do? You go underground. This was a survival guide crafted from personal experience. I'm sure I would've gotten a lot of fan mail on this, but one of the rules I laid out was that you never give away your position (or even your existence) by communicating. Don't worry guys, I imagined you sent in all the fan mail you wanted to but couldn't.

Week #955: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Ichthyosaurs!

Week #956: Gimme, Gimme, Gimme! (*****)

A rhapsody on the noblest of all human virtues: greed. Without greed, where would we be? Greed compels us to become bigger and stronger, so we can beat up our rivals and take their stuff. Greed inspires us to make awe-inspiring technological breakthroughs, so we can blast our rivals to bits with funky lasers and take their stuff. Greed keeps us moving forward, because there's always more stuff to take.

Combo: Nath of the Gilt Leaf & Cephalid Broker

Nath rewards greed: Your opponent has cards in her hand; you want to take away those cards and turn them into Elves. And Nath does a fine job of that on his own. But what if your opponent empties her hand? No more Elves! Nath's second ability isn't limited to cards discarded as a result of his first ability, though. If you want more Elves, simply force your opponent to draw cards and then discard them! Cephalid Broker does it, as does Lore Broker, Urza's Guilt, Memory Jar, Careful Consideration, Wisful Thinking, Anvil of Bogardan, and others.

Week #957: Ups and Downs (*****)

I recounted the time that I used a weather machine and a herd of giraffes to conquer a small country and seize control of its talc resources, but was summarily defeated by a dashing superspy who turned my zombie girlfriend against me just before my endgame of crashing the moon into the sun would've played out. Kinda humdrum, I guess.

Week #958: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Nostril danglers!

Week #959: Anarchy Rules! (*****)

I hate the laws that prevent me from taking over the world... but I want to take over the world so I can impose my own laws on everyone else. More fact than fiction, but with a few sly jokes sprinkled in so it would fall under the parody shield, this column was my current draft of my post-world-conquering constitution.

Week #960: Timing Is Everything (*****)

For Bomb Week, I wrote about my autobiographical Broadway musical It's Fantastiwonderful!, which was a catastrophic bomb. No, I'm just kidding! It was a smash success. I actually wrote about my preferences in countdown timers. Big red numbers never go out of style!

Combo: Shriekmaw & Momentary Blink

Due to the timing of evoke, there are all sorts of tricks you can use it for. If you play a creature with evoke, it pops into play for a brief period of time (long enough for its comes-into-play ability to trigger) before getting sacrificed. In that time, you can sacrifice it to something else, or you can Momentary Blink it so it leaves play and then comes right back into play again. The second time it comes into play, you didn't pay its evoke cost (it came back by virtue of the Blink, not because you played it with evoke), so its comes-into-play ability triggers again, and you keep the creature!

Week #961: The (*****)

Right around this point, I entered a phase of avant-garde minimalism. This was part one of my award-winning, monthlong series. That wasn't just a title; the entire column consisted of the single word "The."

Week #962: Joke (*****)

Part two, of course.

Week #963: Is (*****)

This has to be one of my favorite single-word columns.

Week #964: On (*****)

By part four, the concept had really started to pick up steam.

Week #965: You (*****)

The message boards for part five were especially raucous. Some fans still thought this might go somewhere, while the other fans said that they finally understood what Premium Membership got them.

Week #966: Suckers! (*****)

Ah, the culmination. Six weeks of genius!

Week #967: Survival of the Fattest (*****)

For Giant Ape Week, I rounded up a 300-pound gorilla, a 500-pound gorilla, and a 700-pound gorilla to see which size was optimal. Besides doing a lot of sitting wherever they wanted, the gorillas were quite convivial, so I had no choice but to withhold food. Once cannibalism set in, it became clear that the 700-pounder had the right stuff. One of my all-time favorite columns about a botched experiment that resulted in cannibalistic apes.

Combo: Survival of the Fittest & Masked Admirers

Sure, Squee fits this role, but you have to wait until your upkeep to regrow him. If you pitch Masked Admirers to activate Survival, you can regrow them as soon as you play the creature you fetched up!

Week #968: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Ampersands!

Week #969: Block Party (*****)

I spent a week living in a lair built in the one terrain where supervillains have never dared tread: the suburbs! My base of operations was a split-level ranch with 2 beds and 1½ baths. By the time the week was over, I had turned my block association into a ravenous horde bent on conquering the mini-mall down the street... but the orange shag rug had nearly driven me bonkers. (OK, more bonkers.)

Week #970: The Amazing Lace (*****)

The pros and cons of hiring a team of gorgeous lingerie models to do your dirty work. You would not believe where they keep their cell phones! (They keep them in their thigh-high boots, people. Get your minds out of the gutter.)

Week #971: Powerless to Stop Me! (*****)

This was more a crazed rant than a column. I'm especially proud of the three paragraphs of maniacal mwa-ha-ha-style laughter. Usually that kind of thing doesn't come across in print, but I daresay that I made it work!

Combo: Doran, the Siege Tower & Treefolk Harbinger
Combo: Doran, the Siege Tower & Daru Spiritualist & Shaman en-Kor

And speaking of powerless... Doran and the Harbinger that fetches it up is the obvious combo, as Doran acts like a 3-mana 5/5 and the Harbinger acts like a 1-mana 3/3. The Spiritualist combo is more adventuresome, though. Use the Shaman to target the Spiritualist 500 times, and it'll be a 1/1001 creature... meaning it acts like a 1001/1001 creature! Any en-Kor creature will do; I chose the Shaman because it can also target itself to become ridiculously large in case your opponent has a chump blocker. A Shuko will also do the trick.

Week #972: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Logophobia!

Week #973: Shake It Up (*****)

Week One of Operation: Corequake previews. I demoed the Macroresonant Gyroscope that I embedded in the Marianas Trench.

Week #974: Something's Fishy (*****)

Week Two of Operation: Corequake previews. This column didn't get that far before a team of MI6 agents infiltrated my undersea lair and I had to make a hasty exit in my escape pod. Perhaps preview weeks for my major operations are a bad idea.

Week #975: Advanced Combinatorics (*****)

In this column, I sat down for a chat with Dr. Widget, head of the Mad Science department of my personal research lab. I tend to think that supervillainy is merely applied mad science, and we delved into the varied sociopathies and personality disorders that might lead a burgeoning young insane genius toward one field or the other. Plus, cool toys! I dare you to find another supervillain who has a Teriyaki Nanosaurus!

Combo: Fallowsage & Judge of Currents & Springleaf Drum & Surgespanner & Summon the School...

. . . and Benthicore, Veteran of the Depths, Drowner of Secrets, Merrow Commerce, etc. The whole Lorwyn Merfolk engine is one giant combo of interchangeable parts that lets you tap and untap to your heart's content, all the while creating more Merfolk, drawing cards, gaining life, and milling your opponent's deck away.

Week #976: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Mini umbrellas they put in foofy drinks!

Week #977: Laser Tag (*****)

Lasers are a staple of supervillain culture, and which color laser you deploy says a lot about you. This one was pretty well-received, except by a certain submarine-dwelling hammerhead shark enthusiast (you know who you are) who thinks I called him gay. First of all, "gay" is not an insult. Wake up and smell the millennium. And second of all, I'm not the one who keeps shooting his pink laser all over the place.

Week #978: Double Take (*****)

All about personal clones. Topics included the different cloning procedures (less time = more pain), the most reputable facilities (price does matter—how many national treasuries have you plundered recently?), the benefits of having a life-sized decoy (everyone loves a "Who will you shoot?" shell game), the detriments of having a life-sized decoy (ask my ex-wife and her hubby Mr. Clone), the psychological ramifications (what does it mean to no longer be unique in this world?), and the creepy psychological ramifications (what does it mean if you think your clone is kinda hot?)

Combo: Rings of Brighthearth & Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

One good turn deserves another, right? Tons of stuff combos with the Rings, so there's no sense in picking just one card. Every planeswalker! Brion Stoutarm! Altar of Dementia! Triskelavus! Aether Spellbomb! The list goes on and on.

Week #979: Double Take (*****)

The only thematically appropriate thing to do with a column about cloning was to run the exact same column the following week! Oddly, no one noticed.

Combo: Twinning Glass & Avarax

Twinning Glass has some interesting uses, including pairing it with Infernal Tutor (speaking of doubling) or a couple of evoke creatures (evoke the first one out, then use Twinning Glass to get the second one to stick). My favorite use so far is with Avarax, a hasty beater who searches up its own clone.

Week #980: Double Take (*****)

Figuring that no one would expect me to play the "I doubled my previous column" gambit a second straight week, especially because three identical columns about doubling makes absolutely no sense, that's exactly what I did. And wouldn't you know it, this week was as brilliant as the first time I wrote it.

Combo: Doubling Season & Ajani Goldmane

I chose Ajani here because Doubling Season works with him in three ways. But just about any planeswalker is ridiculous with the enchantment; all except Jace will let you get their ultimate ability the turn you put them into play. Here are the ins & outs of how Doubling Season interacts with planeswalkers:

  1. Doubling Season will double the number of loyalty counters the planeswalker comes into play with.
  2. Doubling Season won't double the number of loyalty counters you put on the planeswalker by playing its first ability. That's a cost, not an effect, so Doubling Season won't touch it.
  3. Doubling Season will double the number of token creatures Garruk or Ajani puts into play, as well as the number of +1/+1 counters Ajani sprinkles on your creatures.

Week #981: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Einsteinium!

Week #982: Mail Model (*****)

This was a mailbag column where I answered letters from my readers. This one was particularly interesting because I'm a genius.

Week #983: Monkeyshines (*****)

As is sometimes my habit when I'm (temporarily) incarcerated in an ultra-maximum security superpenitentiary, I let my chimp Pickles write my column for me. I still take the credit. I still cash the check. My chimp plus my Super Monkey Smartifying Ray equals my column, right? This time around, I think he wrote about the existential pseudoeffects of nanotechnological breakthroughs. Or bananas. I don't know; I never read his stuff.

Week #984: My Pet Peeves (*****)

I briefly had a cat named Peeves. And a cat named Jeeves, and one named Reeves... the list goes on. (They were named alphabetically, so Aeeves came first.) They're all different breeds, and I tested them to see which one made me look most sinister when evilly petting it in my lap. As always, the Persian won, but it got some hefty competition from the Scottish Fold and the Selkirk Rex.

Combo: Hearthcage Giant & Firecat Blitz

Hearthcage Giant lets you sacrifice an Elemental to give a Giant +3/+1. Following the Grand Creature Type Update, Firecat Blitz puts X Elemental Cats into play. (They're made of fire!) So clearly, I'm not the only one who thinks cats make good—and delicious—pets.

Week #985: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Sasquatch! (He won't return my calls!)

Week #986: Back to Back (*****)

It was Spinal Implant Week, so I flashed back to the one wacky week in 1998 when I had seven arms, each with a mind of its own. As they say, hijinks ensued! Then major corrective surgery ensued shortly afterward. Also, I think this was the first time I referenced Teddy Ruxpin in my column.

Week #987: Dead Can Dance (*****)

The pros and cons of hiring a team of zombies to do your dirty work. You would not believe where they keep their cell phones!

Combo: Wort, Boggart Auntie & Gempalm Incinerator

Wort can return a Goblin card from your graveyard to your hand at the start of each of your upkeeps. This could be a Tarfire, or a Nameless Inversion, or a Siege-Gang Commander, or lots of other things. But why not eternally regrow the uncounterable two-mana damage-dealing cantrip that clears out pesky blockers?

Week #988: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Solar eclipses!

Week #989: The Final Frontiers (*****)

Supervillains are pioneers—we're ahead of the pack when it comes to traveling into the black of space, into the depths of the ocean, into the wastes of the Antarctic, or into the belly of the earth. I compared some of the great explorers throughout history with some of the great supervillains to find that common ground, that shared spark of restlessness. The surprising conclusion was that supervillains lag way behind the classic explorers when it comes to killing people.

Week #990: We're Looking for a Few Good Henchmen (*****)

Since my "A Good Henchman Is Hard to Find" column was so popular (and only yielded two measly recruits), I continued the experiment. This time I posted to Craig's List, and got 4,677 applicants. That's a bit too much to handle, so the first test was to see which of them was fireproof. You need fireproof henchmen, right? Sadly, very few were. A quick follow-up: Dr. Asbestos is working the assembly line in my children's clothing plant, and Leatherface... let's just say Leatherface is on assignment.

Combo: Vigor & Thrashing Wumpus

Vigor turns damage that would be dealt to your other creatures into +1/+1 counters for those creatures—and like Purity, it doesn't care where that damage comes from. So you might as well inflict it yourself! One-shot spells like Lash Out are fine. Repeatable effects that supersize your guys (think Psionic Sliver) are cool. But I like effects that wipe out your opponent's side of the board while simultaneously making all your guys huge. Wildfire. Plague Spitter. Hammerfist Giant. Earthquake. There's a ton of them, and none might be better for this purpose than Thrashing Wumpus.

Week #991: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Argyle socks!

Week #992: Necessary Evil (*****)

For Evil Week, I tackled the question "Is evil bad?" and made a surprisingly convincing argument that evil is, in fact, good. Since it was posted, philosophy departments at a couple of universities have added this column to their required reading list.

Week #993: The Rise and Fall of Commodore Squidgy (*****)

A cautionary tale for even the most jaded among us. No one even remembers Commodore Squidgy and his Band of Bandits—the scourge of 1920s Pittsburgh—anymore, which is why this necromantic trip to the mausoleum (and down memory lane) was all the more worth it. I just wish he'd been able to find the lower half of his jaw before the interview started. That was unnecessarily disconcerting.

Week #994: My Own Best Friend (*****)

You'd never know, what with all the henchmen and femmes fatale and mad scientists and supersmart chimps and genetically engineered nuclear mutant robot ninjas, but sometimes it's lonely being a supervillain. This column was an award-winning selection of some of my most melancholy poetry.

Combo: Kithkin Greatheart & Runed Stalactite

Nothing game-breaking here, but sometimes the simplest combos get overlooked. Kithkin Greatheart gets +1/+1 if you control a Giant. Well, nothing prevents the Greatheart from being that Giant itself! Pop the Stalactite on it and it's suddenly a formidable 4/3 first striker that can be attacking as soon as turn three in Limited.

Week #995: Wombattitude (*****)

Why I love wombats. (Short answer: Wombats are awesome.) Why not everyone loves wombats. (Short answer: People are dumb.) What horrible fate will befall those poor saps who don't love wombats as soon as my next shipment of Isotonium comes in. (Short answer: You'll find out next Tuesday.)

Week #996: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Gerunds!

Week #997: Living in Cinema (*****)

An in-depth exploration of the depiction of supervillains in Hollywood movies. This highly depressing celluloid sojourn finds my fictional compatriots portrayed as bumbling stereotypes who are excellent at ruthlessly killing their own allies, but couldn't master plan their way out of a paper bag. And where do all those henchmen come from? As I've proven, it's a lot harder to build an amoral army of mercenary scientists than Tinseltown would have you believe! The one silver (screen) lining is that many of these films have a happy ending—the supervillain eludes capture so he can wreak more havoc in an even more sappy sequel.

Week #998: It's Alive (*****)

The pros and cons of hiring a team of Frankensteinian monsters to do your dirty work. You would not believe where they keep their cell phones!

Combo: Chandra Nalaar & Memnarch & Karn, Silver Golem & Experiment Kraj

The recipe for animating a planeswalker is as follows:

[Any planeswalker]
+
[Mycosynth Lattice or Memnarch] to turn it into an artifact
+
[March of the Machines or Karn, Silver Golem or Karn's Touch or Xenic Poltergeist] to turn it into a creature

Once you accomplish that twisted bit of grotesquerie, you can attack or block with your planeswalker. But let's think bigger! The instant-win combo is to add Quicksilver Elemental or Experiment Kraj, and then have that creature gain all of the planeswalker creature's activated abilities. Since neither Quicky nor Kraj is a planeswalker, it isn't limited by the "play one ability per turn" rule. You can add a bazillion loyalty counters to either of them to repeatedly activate the first ability they learned from Chandra, which deals a bazillion damage to your opponent. Once you add enough loyalty counters to it, you can then start to play the abilities that cost loyalty counters too—but why? (Didn't you read the bazillion damage bit?)

Note that the Mycosynth Lattice-March of the Machines combo, which blows up all lands and keeps them off the board for the rest of the game, is laced into the above recipe. Hmm...

Week #999: Things I Hate! (*****)

This week's topic: Ending my column!

Week #1000!: The World Is Enough (*****)

Finally, of course, was last week's column. I can't believe it's been a thousand already! To celebrate this momentous anniversary, I kept a running diary as I devised a masterful scheme, spent millions of dollars on research and equipment, assembled a team of mercenaries, and very quietly took over the world. I seized total global control at 7:38 AM GMT, kept it for five minutes, and just as quietly gave it back. No one noticed. It was fun while it lasted, but let's be honest—you're not ready for me just yet.

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