Entries from August 2009 ↓

All in the Family: Fun With Mom… and Hymn to Tourach

This is a family-friendly blog post about Magic Online boss Worth Wollpert. It is mostly true.

I was reading my own most recent Top Decks this morning (I do that sometimes, read articles that I wrote once they are published), which finished on the line:

“Hymn, Hymn, I win.”
-The Necropotence National Anthem

When I think about Necropotence I mostly think about Randy Buehler, who is visiting New York this week, whom I will probably hang out and draft with tomorrow night… But when I think about Hymn to Tourach — at least in the context of the classic “Hymn, Hymn, I win…” I can’t help but think of my old pal and Magical mentor, Worth Wollpert.

For those of you who don’t know, long before he was the Magic Online boss, or any kind of Wizards of the Coast employee, or Pro Tour anything, Worth Wollpert was my friend; we hung out at the same comic book store, Mr. Cards & Comics, which is on the corner of Brainard and Mayfield, in Lyndhurst, Ohio. If you live on the east side of Cleveland, you should go run to that store tomorrow night for FNM. Eli Doran, its proprietor, has been running a kind of FNM — late night play on Friday nights — for a decade longer than there was such a thing as FNM, and the results were me, and Worth, and other notable players.

Worth was kind of like my big brother in that he made Pro Tour before I did and really helped guide me early, as a player. For example he said “Couldn’t figure out your own deck, eh?” when I first decided to play Necropotence, then softened to “Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” when I actually won that PTQ. Worth borrowed the same B/R Necropotence deck to make Top 8 the next week, resulting in a ratings invite to Pro Tour Dallas, where he was notably Top 16 (but more notably, my roommate).

Worth had other — that is real — family members, too, who also played Magic (kind of).

He was very into Magic even 10+ years ago, and even if he didn’t know he was going to grow up to be the Magic Online boss (or that there was going to be any Magic Online) his parents saw he had an interest, and his mommy asked to learn to play.

Enthusiastically, Worth taught her.

“Okay, Mom, I’m going to be the Necropotence deck!”

We can guess that she didn’t know what that meant; this is the first turn of Magic Worth’s mother was exposed to:

“Swamp, Dark Ritual, Hymn to Tourach, Demonic Consultation [naming Hymn to Tourach].”

Then, unsurprisingly, Hymn to Tourach.

Then, presumably, Necropotence.

I never heard another story of the Worth + Worth’s mommy game play… and you can probably figure out why yourself. Magic really was more fun back then 🙂


Currently Reading: Men and Cartoons

Goblin Outlander for the Win… Err… Top 8

This is the story of how four little Goblin Outlanders helped me to make Top 8 of the recent Edison PTQ.

First off, sorry I haven’t updated in a couple of weeks. For those of you who don’t know, I am nearing the final stages of completing a book. It isn’t about Magic at all, but online marketing, and I am writing it with my longtime friend and teacher, David Szetela. If you want to be a dear and order a copy from Amazon.com (of which like $.15 or so will trickle down to YT), I certainly won’t stop you (hint, hint):

Okay, back?

Yes, yes.

So I am working on this book, which has been eating up most of my writing, that is blog-writing time. However I was much berated at the recent Edison, NJ PTQ about my blog-writing delinquency, so, um, here’s a blog post, I suppose.

Most of you probably only care about my deck list, so I will supply that now so that you can go ahead and copy it down on a nearby paper napkin in crayon and be on your way:

Blightning Beatdown

4 Anathemancer
4 Blightning
4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Goblin Outlander

4 Flame Javelin
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Tarfire

4 Auntie’s Hovel
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Graven Cairns
6 Mountain
2 Reflecting Pool
4 Savage Lands *
1 Swamp

4 Bitterblossom
4 Doom Blade
3 Stillmoon Cavalier
4 Lash Out

My deck was 60 correct cards (but see the land asterisk at the end).

The main difference between this deck and crappier versions of Blightning Beatdown is the Goblin Outlanders main and more Protection from White side. Basically Blightning blows out most decks, but has a horrible Kithkin matchup (traditionally). Most of you probably remember I played Blightning at the Philly 5K and lost to the eventual winner, Kithkin savant Corey Mann, in that Blightning / Kithkin nightmare (Corey by the way Top 8’d this PTQ as well… That guy should just always play Kithkin).

My strategy was to just play a ton of Protection from White and demolish Kithkin. I played against a lot of White decks, actually, and this was a great solution. I in fact beat the Kithkin dream draw in a matter of seconds with the double Outlander draw, which is very difficult to race. I even had Black Knight for a while, but I cut it to play Doom Blade when it became obvious U/W was going to be the deck to beat.

My sideboard, if I had it to play again, would have been different. Stillmoon Cavalier was not the strongest card, but the most relevant in the only matchup I lost. I would play four now, because I was always happy to draw it, and because Bitterblossom was not any good. The rest I would fill out with Terminates, possibly switching the core Doom Blades to Shriekmaws to better fight Baneslayer Angels (run around Glen Elendra Archmage better). Stillmoon Cavalier is also a great Baneslayer Angel foil, if you didn’t figure that out. He is hard to deal with in the long term, and jumps in front of that classy lady all day.

For those of you still reading, the tournament:

Round 1 – Eddie Wong with U/W Baneslayer

This is how my day started.

I lost the flip.

I played a Goblin Outlander.

He played a Broken Ambitions and revealed a Baneslayer Angel to my Anathemancer. I didn’t want to draw Anathemancer (knowing his deck probably had very few nonbasic lands) and anyway it probably would have some utility in the graveyard, so I left it on top to disappear. He shipped the Baneslayer, looking for lands.

The game went on, with him stumbling on lands somewhat. I was able to get him to about four with a Goblin Outlander and Demigod of Revenge, but he had Archmage (which I weathered down), Reveillark, another Reveillark, the squad. Now he was attacking me back. I Lightning Bolted him to one with his re-bought Archmage on the stack.

Then he played Glacial Fortress. Lucky ducky!

He only had seven lands in play and had gone nigh-all in the previous turn; I declared with the mighty Outlander on the table. He tapped all my guys, leaving only three lands up. I flipped back that turn two Anathemancer for the one point. He had two more Cryptic Commands in hand!

Second game I had my Doom Blades and Stillmoon Cavaliers in. The sideboarded matchup was much simpler. He would make some play that costs five, I would tap two to deal with it, and get in for five. His draw was not optimal but I still had bonus Doom Blade and additional removal in hand at the end, so I thought it was probably an okay matchup.


Round 2 – Oliver Simon with B/U/R Fae

Game One Oliver stalled on two. It didn’t really matter what I did.

I sided in Bitterblossom for the only time on the day.

On my second turn I ran one of them Blossoms out there. Oliver stared at it for about forty-five seconds before finally sending a Broken Ambitions its way. “Just having a little fun,” he chuckled.

Oliver was the one to stick Bitterblossom.

The rest of the game was a battle of Anathemancers and Blightnings, which he eventually won.

In the third I only played three spells, but two of them were Anathemancers 🙂

I had one in the graveyard and one on the board with Oliver on three. He really needed a Lightning Bolt and a Cryptic Command. I was sure I had it, but he had a surprising Thought Hemmorhage to take out my down Anathemancer. The other, of course, was eventually lethal.


Round 3 – Rogelio Badillo with G/W Overrun

Game One involved a crisis of faith. I blasted and Blightning’d Rogelio down to no cards, but obviously he topdecked a Siege Goat Commander. I had been managing the board with Goblin Outlander, but was in a spot where I could be raced. My grip: Flame Javelin. He went O. I accepted and sent the Javelin at him instead. I was rewarded with Lightning Bolt and Demigod of Revenge, closed from nine-ish.

Game Two I couldn’t beat two Siege Goat Commanders, though it was exciting.

Third game Goblin Outlanders and especially Stillmoon Cavalier were beyond key. I was able to race through it with a Burrenton Forge-Tender on the table.


Round 4 – Justin Liu with Kithkin

Justin stalled in the first, but there wasn’t much he could do: I had the double Goblin Outlander draw.

Second game he had the optimal curve of 2/2, 2/2, three 1/1s, pump. However I countered with double Goblin Outlander and Stillmoon Cavalier, that is, three of seven. Thanks to Blightning I was able to easily win this race. The plan held!

Justin went on to make Top 8 with me.


Round 5 – Andrew Harwell with Reflecting Pool Control

Andrew had some unfortunate draws: Double Reflecting Pool in Game One; double filter land in Game Two. He eventually got there for Kitchen Finks mana but gave me too much initial time in both games to be competitive.


Round 6 – Chas E. Hinkle with Doran

Chas had a very good curve draw in Game One but I was able to blast away all of his guys and beat him with Ram-Gangs. So obviously I sided those out for Stillmoon Cavaliers and removal.

In the second I had a Stillmoon Cavalier but no Black mana to pair with my Reflecting Pool, so I was stuck on just Red. His deck got me right back.

In the third I shipped to six but ended up with four spells: Two Goblin Outlanders and two Anathemancers. I purposefully played only one Outlander at a time (to match Doran or Wilt-Leaf Liege) but unfortunately he drew two Maelstrom Pulses. If he didn’t draw the second Pulse (or a Nameless Inversion) I think I would have won. I had enough lands in play and two Anathemancers down. He was on 10 with six nonbasic lands in play. I took a total of 22, but 15 of them came from a Doran, so if my second Goblin lived, I think I would have had time to enact the Anathemancer plan.

Oh well.


Round 7 – Elizabeth Albert with G/W Little Kid

I got the first one on tempo with first turn Figure of Destiny. Her creatures were of course bigger but she couldn’t do much because I had presence starting early.

The second game I was pretty surprised to lose. She tapped for Oversoul of Dusk and I tapped and struck with Demigod of Revenge with another Demigod, Lightning Bolt, Doom Blade, and Flame Javelin in grip. Elizabeth already had a Kitchen Finks, so when she played Wilt-Leaf Liege I took 12, which put me to 5. With the Overoul in play there was no possible way to race! Just one more life point and I was pretty sure I had it. But I guess that’s why people play Oversoul of Dusk.

The third was interesting. I won on the back of a lost Lash Out clash. I got one of her little guys with the Lash Out, which revealed a [second] Celestial Purge to my Mountain. So I just never played my Demigod of Revenge for many turns… Not until she would commit mana. Anyway I had a Goblin Outlander and Stillmoon Cavalier on the battlefield.

I actually made a possible mis-play on a late game attack. Elizabeth had a Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers and Llanowar Elves to my 2/2 and 2/1. I double-struck. She had a Snakeform for what had been a pretty violent Stillmoon Cavalier. Before going to blocks, I dropped the Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers with Doom Blade, forcing her to block with the Llanowar Elves if she wanted to keep value on the Snakeform (getting in for two).

Asher Manningbot commented that I should have let her block, and then Doom Bladed the Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers, preserving my Stillmoon Cavalier. I was operating under the Zvi Mowshowitz paradigm (or perhaps an incorrect interpretation of it) which is that if I control all the information, that I can make a play where I am certain of the outcome. I knew Elizabeth had to use her last creature if she were going to keep value on the Snakeform, which would leave her with no creatures. G/W Little Kid can only defend a Goblin Outlander by racing or by committing. If I put her to no creatures, she would have to commit. I was rewarded with a tap out for Oversoul of Dusk, which gave me the spot to stick Lightning Bolt and Demigod of Revenge, stranding the Celestial Purge she had been milking.

So… Screwup or no?

Asher said I would have had much the same turn, but also a Stillmoon Cavalier if I had waited for a block for the Doom Blade.


Round 8 – Nick Batdorf with Blightning

Nick’s deck was not set up for the mirror. He had cards that would have been great for my failed matches against Doran, but were highly inefficient against another Blightning deck. For instance he had Earthquake, Terminate, and Stillmoon Cavalier main deck.

In the first Nick stalled so I had to setting for two-point Anathemancers. However I got like a 22-point life swing by pointing two different Blightnings for four different Flame Javelins 🙂 I was actually pretty flooded but eventually closed it with a Goblin Outlander.

In the second I was pretty desperate for lands but was stuck on three. I did however win two Lash Out clashes, which are about as devastating as can be in this kind of a match. The second revealed a Flame Javelin, so I decided to keep that piece. I had a Tarfire and a Lightning Bolt in hand, so along with six from Lash Outs, I only had to do about five points of damage.


Top 8!

Round 9 – Lucas Siow with Reflecting Pool Control

We ran the ID. Lucas was the eventual PTQ winner.


Top 8 – Chas Hinkle with Doran

A bit of the anti-climax… I got paired against the only deck that beat me in the Swiss rather than one of the three Kithkin decks or the G/W deck (I had beaten two G/W decks of course).

Chas crushed me in the first. I think he played four Wren’s Run Vanquishers whereas I didn’t draw a single Lightning Bolt. I did however draw Blightning, but he kept revealing Wilt-Leaf Liege. Awkward.

In the second I accidentally drew eight cards!

My sleeves were a ragged mess after the Swiss, so I traded with Josh.

Yadda yadda yadda.



I somehow drew eight cards and had to force-mulligan to six.

I probably couldn’t have beaten Chas’s seven 4/4 draw with nine cards.


You don’t put that many hours in for fifth place, but I walked out of the tournament with a now-respectable 1972 rating, which is amazing for the World’s Greatest Tee Shirt. I’ve put on about 200 ratings points since I started wearing it!

That’s it!

Hopefully it won’t be another two weeks before I update again.

But I can’t promise anything for now, sadly.

Much love,


* Not actually Savage Lands. I played the Grixis tri-land but I don’t remember the damn name. I wrote “Savage Lands” down on the paper napkin I scribbled over to Josh but he gave me the Grixis ones to ensure that I would not, you know, accidentally tap for Green or something. In fact Savage Lands can put the opponent on a bad read because Blightning Beatdown and Jund have many cards in common, but it is actually better for the opponent to put you on a Grixis read, which can — if briefly — lead to some poor short term evaluations and plays. Long story short, I can never remember the name of that land and would rather write this whole paragraph than look it up. So there.

Currently Reading: From Dead to Worse (Southern Vampire Mysteries, No. 8)

More Architects of Will

Based on the comments from the previous post, it seems like some readers are missing the point of Architects of Will in this deck. The deck just needs graveyard action… It kind of doesn’t matter what that action is; you just need something to activate the eight-pack of Mannequins and Soul Manipulations and Architects of Will is actually excellent. I like it so much that if my list weren’t so tight I would actually play Glassdust Hulk.

Per Aten’s question I actually cut the Murderous Redcaps a couple of days ago; since I have been batting pretty well against a variety of opponents. I blew one against U/W Reveillark. Game One I kept a three lander and didn’t have four land in play until I had drawn sixteen cards. I shredded him with Puppeteer Cliques in game two, and then just got sloppy in the third. I took too much damage from an early Mutavault due to watching Dexter out of the corner of my eye. On the last turn he topdecked a Meddling Mage right after I exhausted his Glen Elendra Archmage, and he called Cruel Ultimatum. I was kold on my next four draws (but if I had just not taken an extra four from Mutavault due to eyeing a Showtime serial killer I probably would have won). Otherwise, I can say the deck is a bit dodgy against Howling Mine / Fog decks with a lot of Runed Halos, but I haven’t lost to anything else since updating the list.

Per a Twitter reply from Mark Young, second turn Putrid Leech can be a little dangerous, but I have been doing better than even against Conley Woods decks (though I did take a three-match skid against Jund decks at one point).

Anyway, here’s the deck:

Architects of Will Deck

4 Makeshift Mannequin
2 Puppeteer Clique
4 Shriekmaw

4 Cryptic Command
4 Mulldrifter

2 Anathemancer
4 Architects of Will
4 Bituminous Blast
3 Cruel Ultimatum
4 Soul Manipulation

4 Crumbling Necropolis
3 Island
1 Mountain
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Sunken Ruins
2 Swamp
4 Vivid Creek
3 Vivid Marsh

2 Puppeteer Clique
2 Anathemancer
3 Caldera Hellion
4 Lighting Bolt
4 Volcanic Fallout

One of the things I like about this deck is that it is really good against the Nakamura Five-color deck that did so well in so many Nationals the past couple of weeks. The ability to play threats at instant speed really help to set up the Cruel Ultimatums; plus, both Cliques and Anathemancers are super (especially when compared with the former Redcaps).

If I PTQ this weekend, I am definitely playing it and I recommend you try it out.


Currently Reading: Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 4)