Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Aladdin's Lamp: Illuminated

In high school, we used the limited card pool we opened. And Richard Garfield's vision of limited availability was  partially effective, at least for a short time. Rares were really rare.

One rare I was recently reaquainted with is Aladdin's Lamp, or "Aladins Wunderlampe" to the Germans. The clarification at the bottom of the card is interesting…why would anyone choose zero?

Chris was, and as I understand still is, a huge fan of the card. And in the times of Revised, the exorbitant 10 mana cost was actually quite doable. We has Basalt Monoliths, Mana Vaults and Sol Rings. What you got for your 10 mana was a reusable limited tutor, letting you choose from 4, 5, 6, 7 or maybe even 10 cards for the perfect answer to the situation. These were non-maximized decks, using the cards we had (not 4 of everything) and Alladin's Lamp could really make the difference.

I remember in a typical turn, waiting for Chris while he poured over his many choices. Removal? Big Creature? Wrath of God? The possibilities were endless…a real luxury.

And one other thing…the 10 mana cost was absolutely astounding on its own, and cried out to be abused in some way. To give you a sense, the original version in Arabian Nights had to use 2 bubbles of 5 mana each:

Double your pleasure, double your fun.

Printed in the same Revised Set with Alladin's Lamp was of course Animate Artifact. And the synergy was unmistakable. Imagine a 10/10 card drawing machine barreling down on your quivering foes.

Aladdin's Lamp was that 10 mana monster. First, it searched for Animate Artifact. Then it became the Animate target. As an added bonus, the Lamp was extremely unusual for the time in that it didn't even tap to use its ability! You could attack the same turn as you animated with your 10/10 unnatural monstrosity.

Animate Artifact isn't quite as tasty in today's circles. Especially when we now have March of the Machines for the same mana cost.

But there is definitely a place for the Lamp in today's Magic. In a little world, off the regular beaten "competitive" trail. A hole in the wall we like to call…Elder Dragon Highlander.

Aladdin's Lamp is going into a deck powered by the artifact-master himself. Karn, Silver Golem.

If only we had waited for Urza's Saga. The Karn, Silver Golem EDH deck is used primarily as one big Animate Artifact party. Mana acceleration is powered out, hopefully even getting Karn out on the first turn. Then the formerly stationary artifacts begin to swing in for the kill.

Particularly titillating, Mycosynth Lattice allows Karn to kill opponent's land for the cost of 1 mana. Totally worth the looks on their faces.

One of the most unusual characteristics is the fact that, using the EDH construction rules, the Karn deck must be comprised entirely of colorless spells as well as land that produces only colorless mana. Forget "color-fixing", this deck comes permanently fixed.

Check out some deck lists and take a look at Karn, the world's only colorless General. Until the upcoming Rise of the Eldrazi comes out, anyway. Then Karn will finally get a little competition. But nothing that works so well with Aladdin's famous lamp.

Which reminds me…I think Arabian Nights needs the Coldsnap treatment, don't you?

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