Deviations from the Norm with John B. Turpish  



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12.13.01  Ah, finals.  I'll miss them, not at all.

I was doing some last-minute cramming for my calculus final with a fellow Magic player when I realized that I remembered virtually none of the formulas for conic sections.  So I admit it's an auto-loss for me, but that I've teched out my sideboard for it.  Unfortunately, there are no sideboards in math tests, but as a result of conic sections being overplayed in geometry, pre-calc, and calc 1, there I faced not a single conic section match up.  So it ended up that studying harder for other sections was an excellent metagame call.

Let's do something a little fun today.  Theme decks are one of Magic's great traditions, even though they often are less powerful then any other classification of deck.  That's not really the point, though.  You know, I wonder how these things ever got started.  I imagine it probably started as a result of cards like Lord of Atlantis and Goblin King, which rewarded people for filling their decks with merfolk and goblins, respectively.  How it got changed into just pick a theme and have fun with it, I'm not sure.  I remember years ago thinking that there was some sort of advantage to playing with a bunch of cards that shared a theme, like Thallids, for example, but I don't know why I thought that.  One of my friends agreed with me, though.  It makes no sense folks, and it isn't true.  It's what's written in the rules text that matters.  Anyhow, I'd like to suggest a theme deck for you.  Like most theme decks, it isn't meant to be good, only fun.  The theme for this deck is Rock.

First, the rock/stone-in-name cards:

1 Rock Hydra
1 Goblin Rock Sled
1 Bloodrock Cyclops
1 Rock Slide
1 Rock Lobster
1 Rock Badger
1 Rock Basilisk
1 Bloodstone Cameo
1 Heartstone
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Grindstone
1 Millstone
1 Headstone
1 Meekstone
1 Mightstone

1 Mindstone

Then, references to rock music:

1 Rolling Stones

This one could've fit into the previous category, but it's also the name of a rock band, making it doubly appropriate.

1 Verdant Force

"My name is Wakefield."

My Name is Jonas, Weezer

1 Iron Maiden

"I just want you to see your blood."

Iron Maiden, by Iron Maiden

No, the quote has nothing to do with the card, but it's a funny quote, don't you think?

1 Castle
1 Crumble

"But the castle crumbles and you're left with just a name."

King Nothing, Metallica

1 Night/Day

"The day destroys the night.  The night divides the day."

The Other Side, The Doors

1 Inspiration

"…smoking my inspiration."

Is this song called, "Paradise"?  Well, it's a Green Day song.

1 Ashes to Ashes
1 Dust to Dust

"Asche zu Asche, und Staub zu Staub."

Asche zu Asche, Rammstein

It's preferable to play with the German versions of these cards, because they are "Asche zu Asche" and "Staub zu Staub".

1 Last Caress

"Ugly day–one last caress."

Last Caress, The Misfits

1 Brass Man

"I'm not the Antichrist or the Ironman."

Gets me Through, Ozzy Osborne

"I am Ironman."

Ironman, Black Sabbath (with Ozzy singing)

I realize that brass and iron are two different metals, but this blatant contradiction was too funny to leave out.

1 School of Piranhas

"She totally confused all the passing Piranhas."

Lump, The Presidents of the United States of America

1 Shelter

"There ain't no shelter here."

No Shelter, Rage Against the Machine

1 Fear

"It looks like love, but it smells like fear."

Silver Future, Monster Magnet

1 Deathlace

"No colors anymore–I want them to turn black."

Painted Black, The Rolling Stones

Alright, so the name didn't appear in the quote, but its function does!  And heck, it's the STONES, I had to have one of their songs in the deck.

1 Phyrexian Reaper

"You've played the Reaper, now your time has come."

Seed, Gerbil Liberation Front

These guys are the one of the best bands no one's heard of.

Feel free to recite this lyric when you play the (Phyrexian) Reaper.

1 Arena

"The arena is empty except for one man still driving and striving as fast as he can."

The Distance, Cake

1 Lost Soul

"Their souls are lost because they could never find…"

What's this Life For?, Creed

1 Sorry

"It's not like you to say sorry."

How You Remind Me, Nickelback

1 Anarchist

"If forty days won't break a man, what's a bullet in his head?"

Revolution Man, The Union Underground

Aren't most anarchists revolution men?  Besides, somehow I can picture this fellow singing that song.

Can't forget the land!

4 Thran Quarry

These rocks have to come from somewhere.

3 Island

"I am a rock.  I am an island."

I am a Rock, Simon and Garfunkel

4 Rocky Tar Pit
3 Mountain

Try to use mountains with barren-looking rocky peaks in their illustrations.  There's one from fourth edition which works nicely.

3 Swamp

I assume White Zombie or Rob Zombie has done a song with "swamp" somewhere in its lyrics.  Unfortunately I can't think of one right now.

4 Gemstone Mine

A gemstone is technically a kind of rock, isn't it?

And finally:

1 Bouncing Beebles
1 Bubbling Beebles

The Rock is the Beebles' Champion. (Thanks Ian.)

If there's any cards I missed, let me know.

I'd like to do something a little different.  You tell me what my next article will be about.  That way I don't have to guess at what you guys want to read about.  I'll only do this once.  You can suggest for either part of my article, the alternate format or the seemingly-random top half.  If you send a suggestion that I don't feel comfortable writing about due to lack of solid knowledge on the subject, I won't.  I also won't do anything obscene.  Aside from that it's up to you.  Sorry, no prize for this one.

Duplicate Limited

Duplicate limited is a sealed deck tournament.  What makes it special is that every player gets exactly the same cards.

When you look at the cards you've received, keep in mind that all other players have the same cards.  The question you should be asking yourself is, "What will they play?"  Then build a deck to beat those strategies which are to be expected.  This is much more difficult  than it sounds.  Depending on what pool of cards the TO decided to give you, strategies may vary wildly with each duplicate limited tournament.  Common understanding of the game's strategies will often be, and should be, thrown out the window.  The general rule in sealed deck is creatures first,  creature elimination second, and everything else last.  However, if the TO gives you card selection with absolutely terrible creatures and every powerful creature elimination spell you can think of, what do you do?  This format will test deck building skills tremendously.

Although I admit I've never participated in duplicate limited before, I really like the idea a lot.  In theory I like the idea of limited in general.  However there's too large things holding me back from preferring it over constructed.  First, creatures are far too important.  That narrows the strategy of the game down tremendously, at which point we might as well be playing Pokemon.  Secondly, the fact that the cards you get add a random element, particularly with sealed deck, increases the roll luck plays in determining the winner.  I don't think that's good at all, but in duplicate limited there's no luck whatsoever in what cards you receive.  There should also be a pretty good balance between the power of the colors in the card pool.  Creatures will only be all important if the people choosing the card pool feel they should be.  If anything, duplicate limited should be more skill-intensive and full of strategy than constructed.  I like that a lot.

If you decide to run one, the most difficult thing is choosing which cards to use.  Now, of course, there will be greater restrictions on us, due to the cards available to us, than there were for Wizards.  In fact, Wizards creates new cards specifically for this format.  I wouldn't really recommend you do that, but if you do, insist that the players use sleeves because your printing methods will probably differ from Wizards' greatly enough that the cards will be marked.  On the invitational they like to pick themes.  This year ever card had a converted mana cost of 1.  I wouldn't go that far, but the idea from previous years of including only grossly underpowered cards is both interesting and sounds quite fun.  Do be sure to include an equal number of cards in each color.  If you use multicolored cards, try to keep them balanced in number if at all possible.


In my last article I inferred that John Rizzo, "worked in a factory for some years."  Mr. Rizzo was kind enough to email me with a correction: it was in fact approximately 2 weeks.


If you'd like to make a donation to the Send Cathy to Florida fund, get in touch with me.  I'll make sure it gets to the appropriate destination.


I'd like to apologize to the fellow who won the Battle of Wits deck contest.  I seem to have lost your address and forgotten your name.  I had been afraid to ask for you to contact me, because someone else might claim it and I wouldn't know it wasn't the correct one.  Oddly enough I remember the idea behind one of the deck lists you sent me, though, and I'll probably remember the other two if I see them.  It's really weird, and annoying how my memory works.

May you find what you seek.

John B. Turpish

Copyright 2001

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