Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Card Drawing Gets Weird

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I am a red mana junky. As the old man loves his turkey, so do I love blowing up other people's carefully created paths to victory.

It took me quite a few years to figure it out. When I first started, Red seemed like a bad choice, especially mono-red. All the cool kids were playing mono black, or mono white, or white/blue.

The only deck I remember seeing that really stood up to these other chumps was the legendary "counter burn"…a deck completely devoid of creatures or even other permanents (except maybe Mana Flare).

Today, you can find a straight "Burn" option in most formats. If it's not a top-tier choice, then chances are it's at least a second-tier choice. Of course I quickly climb out of my league as soon as I start talking about tiers. I don't know exactly where my "tier" is, but its probably very close to the bottom. There are probably tire tracks from the forklift driving over it.

So the latest Premium Deck is out. Fire and Lightning. Lightning and Fire. And beacuse its been out for a while and has almost limitless supply, a copy came up for grabs for yours truly.

Strangely enough, a traditional burn deck doesn't interest me, I have my Elemental Shaman deck for the few constructed games I find myself mired in.

But perhaps some of these cards can be bent to a task more enjoyable to my interests…perhaps an EDH deck or two? Of course a few cards are completely ill-fitting to the task. But some walk the line, just like Johnny Cash.

Here's a good example:


Depending on who you are, you probably think Browbeat is the best thing since sliced bread. The other option is that you think it sucks eggs. Like a vermin.

Let's try to stay objective either way.

1. Part of the issue with Browbeat is that it leaves the decision in the hands of the opponent. Or in this case, opponents. 5 damage is 12.5% of a player's life total, so its more than a drop in the bucket. But its not exactly a deluge either. Certainly there will probably be someone who can afford to pay the life to prevent your card draw.

But then you have to ask: will they?

Multiplayer games bring out both the diplomat and the small-minded despot.

You want to be the despot, ideally. But you don't want anyone to know that. A card like Browbeat takes the control…the responsiblity…out of your hands and puts it in the hands of your opponents. You don't know what will happen, but you can be sure of one thing. You're coming out ahead.

In the case of card draw, you get some more cards to rain destruction on your enemies. In the case of damage, you slug an opponent for 5.

But here's the deal either way: it's not your fault! You got to draw cards because no one wanted to take a measly 5 damage. You did damage because no one wanted you to draw cards. You're the least involved person in this transaction!

Very likely, someone will bite the bullet and take 5 damage. Very likely, this person will not be rewarded for his actions.

I was thinking about odd sorts of card draw when I came across one of the cards spoiled today. No, it's not any of the good cards.

Does Distant Memories have the same sort of effect? You get to tutor the card of your choice if ONE of your many opponents decides to let you have it. And if none of them will…you get to draw three cards instead.

Detractors are already framing this card as a really bad Concentrate. But unlike Concentrate, Distant Memories takes away YOUR choice, and puts it in the hands of your enemies. You might get one card, you might get 3 cards. But you're just a passive watcher, and your opponents are the ones who have to deal with the end result.

We just have to do the best with what we are given!

Plus Distant Memories has a cool picture of corrupted Karn on it. Urza on one side, Venser on the other.

What do you suppose Urza is whispering?

Sure, you can eat one more mallow bar. No one's watching. And you're king of Phyrexia, for pete's sake!

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