Casually Pursuing Perfection – You’re Too Cute for Your Own Good (part 1 of 2)

If somebody were to ask me what my 10 favorite magic cards of all time were right now, my reaction would be in 2 parts.

The first part would be a huge grin, as top 10 lists bring me a great deal of joy. In fact, on my top 10 greatest things of all time list, top 10 lists themselves are ranked at number 6, just behind my favorite sushi restaurant in Seattle, Musashi, and just ahead of hot showers on a cold day.

The second part would be a very lengthy dialogue with whoever asked me the question. So lengthy in fact, that they would probably try and shiv me to get away from the conversation. Even then I imagine I would keep going.

Some of the cards I would certainly list would be ChronozoaChronozoa, Grand ArchitectGrand Architect, Jhoira of the ghituJhoira of the Ghitu, and probably some broken artifact like Memory JarMemory Jar or something. That’s just a quick snapshot, but do you see any similarities between these cards?

You should.

They’re all too cute for their own good.

Aside from obvious things like color, they’re also cards that all require a great deal of steps and complicated interactions with other cards to be any good. Even Memory JarMemory Jar, which is ridiculously powerful, requires you to set it up, so that you don’t spend 5 mana and a turn to just play some random extra cards.

Can you tell which is the better 1 drop?

My entire life playing magic i’ve been fascinated by cards like these. I think it comes from wanting to play magic the way I want to play it, rather than the way it’s “supposed” to be played.

Kitchen table magic players will have an easy time relating to this, while tournament players are a bit more focused on playing “the best deck,” or at least the best cards irregardless of creativity. The interesting thing though, is that you can usually find a truly powerful deck that plays very similarly to whatever deck you wanted to play but found out wasn’t good enough to compete with.

I’ll give you an example;

Last winter the featured PTQ format was Modern, so my friends and I spent a great deal of time playing around with modern cards and brainstorming deck ideas for the tournaments. Here’s the list I started with:

Vial Mayor


4x Mayor of Avabruck
4x Aether Vial
4x Spellstutter Sprite
3x Voidmage Prodigy
3x Mothdust Changeling
4x Lightning Bolt
2x Cackling Counterpart
2x Forbidden Alchemy
2x Sword of War and Peace
3x Mana Leak
2x Spell Pierce
1x Disrupting Shoal
2x Vedalken Shackles
1x Mindbreak Trap
4x Mutavault
19 Other Land

Casual brewers Don’t worry about sidebaords. We rarely get that far.

If this list looks totally ridiculous to you that’s because it is. The interactions are very strange and ultimately very very cute and gimmicky.

Firstly, you have 3 relevant creature types here, between Faeries, Humans and Wizards. The Mothdust ChangelingMothdust Changeling’s are there to tie them all together and enable things like Spellstutter SpriteSpellstutter Sprite on turn two, or Mayor on turn two attacking for 2 with the changeling. He’s also there to sacrifice to a Voidmage ProdigyVoidmage Prodigy later in the game.

The heart of the deck is in the ability to play a turn one Aether VialAether Vial, and set up a strong turn 3, with the nut draw being Mayor of AvabruckMayor of Avabruck. Because he’s vialed in instead of being cast, he will flip immediately at the beginning of their upkeep.

The versatility of having Voidmage ProdigyVoidmage Prodigy on the same curve to flash in as a counter spell is pretty awesome too. The Cackling CounterpartCackling Counterparts are there to copy flipped Mayor’s, because if the token is a copy Howlpack AlphaHowlpack Alpha, it won’t ever flip back. It also work nicely with Spellstutter SpriteSpellstutter Sprite as an additional counterspell.

This was the first draft of the deck, and though I tweaked it and tested it extensively, it ended up as just as much of a train wreck as it looks like on paper. However, even now as I recall the deck in all it’s disappointing glory I get excited to try and make it work again!

This is just the sick nature of a casual brewer. We rarely ever let an idea go.

I did end up playing a deck with a similar feel at a PTQ that season, and next week i’m going to compare the 2 decks.

Can you guess what the deck I played was? Let me know in the comments.

Happy 4th of July, and until next time,

Take care and play magic

– Ben

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