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Pojo's Book Reviews



Constructed Man

It seems that many camps are broken down into constructed players and limited players. For those of you that are unaware, limited players are those that prefer formats such as draft or sealed deck. These players like the idea and strategy of deckbuilding with a limited card pool. Constructed players prefer the trickery and deep strategy that goes into deckbuilding and planning.

I'm often ask which I prefer. I can say with complete certainty that I am a constructed man myself. I don't think that there is anything wrong with having a preference of one style versus the other. Honestly, it's good to know where your preference lies. It can help you identify your weaknesses. I'm a perfect example of that. Many times, I've had my rating above 1900 in constructed. And on at least three different occasions it's eclipsed the 2000 pt plateau. As a matter of fact, it's at 2038 or so now. But to put that in perspective, my limited rating has only surpassed 1900 once or twice.

There are many reasons why these types of things can happen. Many players just put more time into one format than the other. I can honestly say that I spend more time analyzing cards for constructed that I do for limited. I play a lot of different games, so it's easier for me to stay in this type of mindset. There are some general card strategies that carry from one game to the next when building for constructed deck play. Also, limited formats carry a lot less interest for me. I like having choices and options. I dislike the idea of my opponent (or myself for that matter) having a card that others just can't deal with. Now, I do still draft and such. It's good fun.

There are also some things that each format can help you get better at that carries over to the other. More often than not, your eyes get opened to a lot of cards by playing each format. There have been many times that I have forced myself to play with a particular card or color in limited play. While playing with them, I can sometimes see some interactions that I wouldn't otherwise pay attention to. This can lead to some interesting decks ideas later on. So there is definitely a reason to play both types of formats whether you like one more than the other or not.

Over the years, there have been a lot of cards that have shaken up constructed formats. I love it. I like have decks that are strong. It gives the good deckbuilders a target to achieve. It gives good builders something to aim for. Some cards have also come along through the years that have been great tools for deck builders.

Those of you that read my weekly articles know all too well why I don't like to play this card. There's a fun story worth reading the archives for. However, this card is quite powerful. When it was released, the concept of giving up life was still very strange. No one wanted a deck that caused a player to damage themselves. It was a very strange concept for people to digest. The funny thing is though, players quickly discovered that a card this powerful yielded huge card advantage. Card advantage quickly became a serious theory in deckbuilding. In some ways, Necropotence got some players used to having cards in hand all the time. It definitely took center stage and caused players fits in the tournament scene.

But where Necropotence was the poster child for card advantage, Cursed Scroll...well to be honest, they were nearly complete opposites. Cursed Scroll took a while to catch on in many circles. I remember when Tempest first came out. Players were kind of ignoring it. The idea of playing a card that relies on you having nothing in hand but one card was crazy. People weren't used to this line of thinking. Giving up card advantage seemed like a sure way to end up in the loser's bracket. But this card turned out to be more powerful than expected. The good deckbuilders jumped on this one from the get go. And honestly speaking, I thought this card was good from day one. But even I didn't truly understand exactly HOW good it was. I know that I owe several wins in my DCI history to this card.
And then here was Survival of the Fittest. This was probably one f the craziest cards around for a while. When all the big bannings and restrictions hit, it hung around a while. In some ways I both agree and disagree with letting this card slide for so long. I will say though, that it did open players' eyes to a whole new style of deckbuilding. To the best of my knowledge, this is where the term "toolbox" deck originated. A card with this type of searching power allowed you to play with a lot of different cards in your deck. How to you get 20 or so different cards in your deck? Simple. You just play one or two copies of everything. Survival of the Fittest made this an everyday event in tournaments. People were able to play creatures that could do everything from make opponent discard cards to kill enchantments when they came into play. This was a key component to some very strong decks.

Man, Tolarian Academy. Man, I hate this card. I hate it because it is simply too good at what it does. That being said though, this card got played a LOT. It had it's play value extremely limited. This card got banned in a very short time after its release. This card was able to do things that were previously unheard of for a land. With other spells such as Lotus Petal, players were making silly amounts of mana and winning on turns two to four pretty regularly. I remember having to fight my way through a state championship beating three or four academy decks in the swiss rounds. I did eventually lose to one (which ultimately won the tournament) in the semifinals. I was purposely trying to not play the card. Cards with this kind of strength in a given format make me want to stay away from them. Tolarian Academy was so obviously good that it wasn't even fun to use in a deck.

Anything can effect a play environment in constructed play. All it takes is one good builder to do well with a particular deck design and its going to become a staple real quick. Some players are upset about people getting ideas from the internet. I think it's a great thing. Information travels so fast that a particular deck doesn't stay dominant in a format for long periods of time anymore. Some will still stay playable and good, but that won't be overly dominant. This is a good thing. Diversity is good. It breaks up the monotony and keeps players interested. It keeps things from getting old and stale for the serious tournament player.

Card don't have to be superstars to get people's attention. They just have to be good enough to make it into a deck. Champions of Kamigawa has a lot of cards that should becoming mainstays in decks in the near future. I wouldn't underestimate any card at this point. The field is soon o be wide open and I think we are in for some interesting surprises.

And just to indulge you, here is a decklist...

Hot Beats

3 Hearth Kami
1 Eight-and-a-Half Tails
1 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
3 Kami of Ancient Law
2 Leonin Skyhunter
3 Samurai of the Pale Curtain
4 Savannah Lions
3 Auriok Champion

4 Chrome Mox
4 Raise the Alarm
3 Isochron Scepter
4 Magma Jet
4 Shrapnel Blast
3 Glorious Anthem

4 Ancient Den
3 City of Brass
3 Great Furnace
2 Mountain
6 Plains

3 Intrepid Hero
3 Shatter
3 Reciprocate
4 Ghostly Prison
1 Pulse of the Forge
1 Pulse of the Fields

Until next time,

DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com




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