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The Help Desk - by Jonathan Pechon 

Why Are They Using Such Primitive Weapons?

     The title here points to two things:  a quick anime note, and a rant.  First, anime:  if you have not yet seen the original Macross series of Robotech, and claim to be a fan of anime… SHAME ON YOU.  No, seriously, shame on you.  I’m not kidding.  Flashing back to the early 80’s, these cartoons did something that so many other shows were afraid to do.  In G.I. Joe, if you watched enough of the show, they expended more ordinance than WWII three times over, but NOBODY DIED.  Same goes for Transformers, etc.  Meanwhile, Robotech presented a fantastic storyline, and brought it to you with reality: in war, death happens, and it affects you.  For what it was, it’s a fantastic series.  And, if you peek in the anime section of your local DVD dealership, you’ll find the first two volumes of the Macross saga!  Reasonably priced (about $35 for twelve episodes and an extra DVD of special features), they are an absolute must-own if you are an anime fan, or just like a well-told story.  Being both, they make me very happy, and give me a little more fun and humor in my life, something I’m dearly in need of (see coming rant).

     Okay, advertising off…rant-mode, on.  Let me be clear for everyone:  the metagame only works if you guys actually keep up with it.  This can mean spending hours reading every godforsaken article that pops up across the net (okay, okay, I have a lot of spare time at work), or just looking around the room before the tournament starts.  Your deck has a purpose, and it’s going to better against some match-ups than against others.  If the room is completely against you, you just might consider changing a few cards in your deck.  If you keep yourself balanced, you’ll be in a better position to defend yourself against the rest of the room, and won’t make certain players feel like eating their entire deck, sleeves and all.

     Well, on to something useful.  Two premiere events this weekend, both presenting very different views of the metagame.  How are we supposed to process this information?  It’s difficult to generalize about an environment with so many varied decks.  For example, GP-Denver gave us decks in the top 8 with 24 creatures (Aaron Knobloch) and 0 creatures (Darwin Kastle).  Personally, I take this as proof that this environment is incredibly varied, and will make for a fine Standard environment once Masques-block rotates out.  The power cards are apparent in this environment are clear, but there are so damned many of them, it makes for a really dynamic environment.  I think it would take many, many months of continuous play for this environment to stratify into the “Best deck,” pit that block environment seems to fall into.  I don’t see many match-ups that are favored in an overly lopsided manner.  The qualifier in Neutral Ground from a few weeks ago is a perfect example:  Red-Green took out a top 8 field that was almost entirely composed of Solution (or Solution-like) decks.  Does that mean that the match-up is in the deck’s favor?  Of course not, anyone testing will tell you that the R/G deck should lose it’s pants to the Solution, but be prepared for more parity in the results than you might be comfortable with.

     A common gripe I hear is that the environment is entirely about Grizzly Bears.  Those lovable 2/2’s are sure running around everywhere, aren’t they?  But, looking closely, there’s a lot more variety there than is being given credit for.  Some of it is certainly the environment lashing out against the number of bears in the environment; I would make a very sure guess that it explains the viability of Sunscape Familiar in the environment, hence explaining Danny Mandel’s success in Denver (by the way, I think that deck is fantastic!).  But control is taking on different aspects now.  Darwin Kastle ran a creatureless deck to the top four in Denver, counting on Urza’s Rage for the victory, while Itaru Ishida’s deck that conquered GP-Kobe (another phenomenally fun-looking deck) added Goblin Trenches in with the Rages.  The Trenches are interesting, adding a very Counter-Post-like feel to the deck.  This is a really underrated card, and I’m expecting to see more of it in the near future.  The G/U deck is evolving into a G/U/r deck, with David Price taking this deck to 9th place in Denver.  With Rage and Prophetic Bolt packing a bit more punch than Temporal Spring and Rushing River, they give the deck a lot more staying power, and giving you an out if the initial rush of creatures can’t finish off the opponent.  A very simple sideboard in this case is also a very powerful sideboard, and makes up a deck that should definitely have made top 8.

     Basically, the more powerful spells are starting to catch on.  The Dark Domain deck from this weekend capitalized on that, running Planar Despair and Destructive Flow, cards not commonly seen yet in block.  So much innovation is still happening!  I’m finding it very difficult to settle into a deck for the remainder of the season, mainly because I think that the environment is going to radically change over and over again as people keep introducing new decks.  Personally, trying to maintain three separate decks is going to be a pain, but you gotta do what you gotta do, I guess.  For now, I’m going to sign off.  I’ll actually try to say something creative next week, promise!  Right now, I need sleep too badly.  Take care, everyone, and keep the email coming!  Remember, I’ll be glad to look over any decklists sent in and offer what I can to them.  Until next week!

-Jonathan Pechon


“Actually…it’s very nice junk.”

                        -Roy Fokker