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The Twelve-Step Program for the Strategy Impaired
with Scott Gerhardt

I hate excuses, but I've got a reason for them!

11.01.04  I think I'm going to start each column with a "Why I didn't write an article last week" section.  Why not.

Why I didn't write an article last week:  Because I was halfway across the country attending my 10 year High School Reunion.

Hopefully, most of you haven't had the joy of experiencing this yet.  A few of you have, and will be able to relate.  When you go back, everyone is different, yet eerily, everyone is the same.  It is amazing how many people I recognized immediately - almost like they hadn't aged at all.  Others though, look absolutely nothing like they did.  I found myself doing the whole, "I wish they'd move their hair/jacket so I can see the name tag" thing.  And of course, there is at least one guy who you're pretty certain you've never seen in your life, but they damn sure know who you are, or at least they think they do.  Last I checked, I never played trombone in the band, but there was a guy who was sure I did.  Oh well.  In the end, a good time to reminisce with some old friends, make some new ones, and look back on what your life has become in comparison.  In high school, I was the math and science geek.  Now, you read my articles here.   Where did I go wrong... ;)

Anyway, I think that's something else I'm going to do - start each article with a random paragraph about whatever is on my mind.  Not that I want you to delve too deep into my psyche - lord knows that can be scary.  But sometimes, if you know what's going on outside of Magic for me, you'll understand where I'm coming from inside of it.

Anyway, Magic Online is running Kamigawa release stuff right now.  This is the one time that I plaster myself as much as possible to the keyboard and cram as much MTG in as possible.  I'm in 4 leagues and played 3 tournaments.  Please note, this is as much magic as I will play online in the next 4 months.  I really like release time, and with the chance to win the original on Time Stop, it's something really cool to shoot for.

I mention this because it's the subject of this week's article - Kamigawa in the sealed format.  I want to discuss a little about what I have been seeing and not seeing in this new format.  I want to start with a little bit in the way of statistics on my 4 league decks, plus I'll throw in some stats on the tournament I am playing right now while writing this.

League 1 :  5 color, focus W and U.  Bombs:  Kiku, 8 1/2 tails, 3 shrines.  Record: 4-1

League 2:  BG, U for Shrine,  Bombs:  Jugan.  Record:  2-3

League 3:  WBG, Bombs:  Yoshi.  Record:  3-2

League 4:  URG.  Bombs:  Green Myojin.  Record 2-0 (still playing it)

Tournament:  BG, U for 2 Councils.  Bombs:  Kokusho, Sheshiro & Sosuke plus other snakes.  Record 1-2 drop.

Now I can make a million excuses about my poor performances.  My tournament deck was much better than the record indicates.  So since this article is about Kamigawa limited and excuses, I'll make a few...

The mana gods hate me.  There are two gods that really hate my guts.  In order, the coin flip gods, and the mana gods.  The coin flip gods were bad enough to chase me clear out of Pokemon.  The mana gods, though...well...I think they need regular sacrifices and such.  I have no idea what makes them happy, but these are the same gods that do not allow me to see my Kokusho until the 8th game of the tournament, on the turn after it can save me (Gale Force in hand with him at 3).  I have come to learn that the luck factor in magic, particularly limited magic, is far more pronounced than a lot of other games.  Simply put, the idea of lands - cards that serve no other purpose than to produce mana, makes this game one that you can have the best deck, but the wrong shuffle can put you turns behind your opponent real quick.  Yeah, this is a comment specifically on Vs. System and Duel Masters - both games where any card in your deck can be used as mana/resource.  The complexities of magic are astounding and the game is amazing.  I'm starting to have a real hard time with the luck factor, especially after getting heavily involved with the other two aforementioned games.

So mana hates me, big deal.  Let's stare down some stats.  Now first of all, I can't swear that I made the absolute best build every time - it's possible I didn't.  I know all my builds were solid, and all my first choice.  I've been doing this a while, so it's not likely that I am WAY off base on any of these.

So green played a role in all 5 decks.  Why is this?  Is green really that solid in this environment?  I think so, and I'll tell you why - creatures.  This is actually an environment where a LOT of the creatures are somewhat subpar.  Green tends to have creatures that are generally a little bigger, and can often be the kill mechanism.  The solid commons in green tend to make the color at least splashable.  Next comes black.  The one seems obvious - it has the best removal by far with cards like Swallowing Plague, Pull Under, the Rends, and Befoul.  Add in a few decent creatures like Scuttling Death and the like, and you have a color that often has what you need in it.

Weakest color - I'd say red.  I almost never see in red what I want and need.  There is removal in Yamabushi's Flame and Glacial Ray, but you almost need at least 2+ between those two to even make the color worth looking at.  Hanabi Blast is decent, but scary as heck.  The creatures just aren't that good in the common slot, meaning you have to get lucking in the uncommon/rare slot, or get a lot of flames and rays.  In that case, youre just splashing the red anyway

A few of my observations:

There is no bad shrine.  In almost every case, if you have a shrine, play it.  If you can reasonably play multiples, do it.  As evil as shrines are alone, they are ridiculous in multiples.

The bombs make the deck.  There are a lot of bombs floating around there, but due to the lack of power in the common slot, people who have and find bombs will tend to do better than those who don't.  Hope to rip a good rare when opening, because you'll need it.  Solid decks without bombs tend to not do well at all.

The format is generally slow.  I have seen some fast formats, but again, due to the lack of power out there, the games tend to take more time to develop.  Cards like Myojins really aren't that much problem to get out eventually.  Sure, sometimes you might run against weeniecharge.dec, so you need to be ready for that a little, but playing for the mid-to-late game will usually be a better strategy than trying to get a cheap, quick kill.

Go second.  If you're not real fast, and you think you can at least somewhat reasonably handle rushes, go second.  In a slower environment, you'll less prone to mana screw and the extra card can be very nice.  This rule does not always apply, but it's certainly a good thing to think about when building your deck.  You don't always go first, that's for sure.

Remember to get lots of good Soratami stuff with Azuza.  I'm just venting here that twice this weekend I found an Azuza, and twice I got crap for Soratami stuff.  It's a good combo - try to go U/G if you need an Azuza.

I think that's going to wrap up this week.  I'm going make another go or two at the Time Stop tournament, but I think my 12th place in the one earlier today may be as close as I get to come.

www.ShuffleAndCut.com for all your card needs. :)

Until next time, keep playing!




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