Sunday, January 31, 2010

Off the Wagon (Magic)

I arrived at my store yesterday to buy some Magic cards. My staff was astonished and confused, as if a recovering addict asked to borrow twenty bucks for  a crack pipe. I persisted after explaining the project and listening to them try to talk me out of it. I picked up a box of 2010 and eyed a box of the new Worldwake. The street date isn't until Friday, so there was a gray area involved with me taking it home. They informed me that my combination was probably a bad one, as Worldwake would only work well in combination with Zendikar, since it was the second release of the set. I eventually settled on a box of Zendikar and 2010, for the sake of simplicity.

We talked strategy for a moment. They handed me a black intro pack from Worldwake, since they were available during our pre-release. Fangs of the Bloodchief is a brutal vampire deck. "Don't I want to see what I get in these boxes and then decide what's best?" I asked. I was told yes, and then I would see that vampires are clearly the best and go with that, so I might as well pick up the vampire deck. They were right.

Since all these cards would go back to the store, I personally paid for the intro pack, since its cards were of little value after the experiment. Everything else was a donation. The total for this project so far would have been around $330.

I went home and began sorting. The ink fumes from the cards brought back a lot of memories, although I had never bought a full box before. I didn't know a box count until opening my store. Towards the end of opening endless booster packs, nostalgia gave way to a headache from the smell. Perhaps I was too old for this project after all!

I picked up a couple of card storage boxes too, realizing that our stock levels were too low of key boxes and understanding box capacities for the first time. I lamented that the new card dividers from Ultra Pro, although very pretty, didn't fit card storage boxes. I had first learned this with my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay project.

I sorted out my cards by color and type, which took about an hour and began strategizing deck construction, starting with my black intro pack as a base. It was fairly easy, as black is the 40K equivalent of Space Marines. Not a lot of bad decisions that can be made and fairly straightforward and brutal. It's a beat deck, without a lot of interaction between the cards. I'm guessing I kept about two thirds of the 40 card deck and ramped it up to 60 cards using the two boxes I bought. Checking some card lists online, it seems there are a lot of options and most people max out cards they like, including four of each in their decks. My selection was a little more limited, and I immediately realized the value of singles.

Next I created a white deck. The first thing I realized is that without an intro pack, I was short on land. White was more my play style, with less powerful monsters backed up by clever instants and enchantments to power them up. Besides that, I simply like the artwork better. Black was always a bit of a downer for me.

I noticed with the online deck lists that mono color decks are hot right now. Back in the day, they tended to be brittle and easy to defeat. Also, the cards are all very straightforward. Special abilities I hadn't heard of were explained right on the card. I know the rules have been tweaked quite a bit from when I last played, but at no time did I stare at a card perplexed as to what it did. Why I would want to do something was another matter, the meat of the game really. Obvious sucky cards were obviously sucky to everyone else online. Not too much clever with the black. I was liking this.

Here's my preliminary deck list, based on what I had available at the time. I'll need to supplement this with singles.

Vampire Deck (2010, Zendikar, Worldwake)

Land (22)
Swamps (20)
Piranha Marsh (2)

Creatures (20)
Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet (1)
Butcher of Malakir (1)
Anowwon, the Ruin Sage (1)
Vampire Nocturnus (1)
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen (1) Not a vampire, but cool. (likely to get swapped out)
Vampire Nighthawk (2)
Vampire Aristocrat (2)
Vampire Lacerator (4)
Gatekeeper of Malakir (2)
Child of Night (2)
Blood Seeker (3)

Spells (18)
Disfigure (4)
Duress (3)
Quest of the Gravelord (1)
Feast of Blood (3)
Doom Blade (4)
Urge to Feed (1)
Mind Sludge (2)

Let me know if you've got suggestions. Are the ratios right? Do I want to emphasize some of these cards? Are there cards I don't have that would greatly help?