Hello again, folks! Dragon’s Maze Game Day came and went and I was nowhere to be found. I spent the entire weekend away on Fire Island, visiting family, gardening, doing deck work, and not playing any Magic. It was my first time here since September and a delightful experience—Fire Island holds many, many memories for me, including my first game of Magic. However, this weekend was a tad more somber than most.


Fire Island was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Seasons have come and gone and yet there remains extensive damage. I saw homes in various states of decay and reconstruction. Streets were wrecked. The dunes that protect the island from storms and the tides were reduced to nothing in many areas.

It was harrowing and yet hopeful, seeing such destruction and reconstruction. It reminded me that death is a part of life; everything is transient, everything dies, and anything can abruptly end. From any death, however, comes new life, new stories, and new creations.

How does this relate to Magic? I have a couple of things on my mind, so I have a couple of answers for you.


In case you weren’t aware, Wizards changed how the Legend and Planeswalker uniqueness rules work. I’m a staunch Vorthos—the flavor of the game matters to me and envisioning the world enhances my fun. If I can summon Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, a unique woman, have her fight my opponents’ Thalia, and see her kill “herself” in combat, then Magic is harder for me to envision.

I’d write lots on this, except Doug Beyer and MTGColorPie have already written excellent responses. Wizards is making a change that it believes will make for superior gameplay (as they’re doing for Magic 2014 slivers, another change that my Vorthos-y nature struggles with).

I have to remind myself that just as no house or dune is permanent, neither is any part of Magic. The game is amazing because it changes. If it didn’t embrace the new, then there wouldn’t be new sets, new mechanics, and new experiments. Sure, we wouldn’t have had “mistakes” like Homelands but we also wouldn’t have had successes like top-down design (which blossomed in Innistrad after falling short in Homelands and Kamigawa). If nothing changed, we’d be playing with Omega (the most recent re-release of Alpha). So, I welcome this change. It’s not exactly what I wanted, but I’m excited to see how the game that I love will be different and hopefully better for it. Whether or not this change is for the best, I can rest assured that there will always be more.

birthing pod

In other news, I had the pleasure of drafting my entire cube on Wednesday, thanks to THE Kadar Brock donating his studio space (with big props to Sean, Justin, Brendan, and Kyle for playing). The night proved that green ramp indeed needs to be scaled back (there were so many ramp decks!).

I also had a rare treat: I drafted an extremely fun deck that I didn’t anticipate existing: Birthing Pod/Recursion Shenanigans. Welcome to Black/Green control. Welcome to life from death.

(Clearly, I’ve got BG on the brain. Come on, you think I’d use a few oblique phrases for nothing?)

The draft started with a pack one, pick one Birthing Pod. The card is quite good in my cube, as every color has a solid curve of creatures (though you do have to work to get a good curve and good creatures to toss into the pod). Dimir House Guard helped me find my pod. A late Rune-Scarred Demon joined my squad as a tutor and an excellent pod target (plus it pods into Terastodon). I could even use Garruk, the Veil-Cursed as another tutor.

The graveyard wasn’t the end for anything, not when I had Gravedigger, Eternal Witness, and Genesis to recur everything from Murder and Solemn Simulacrum to Sylvan Primordial, Gaze of Granite, and Vraska. The deck was supremely fun to pilot, skill-intensive, and SMASHED control and midrange decks. The best part, however? I got destroyed by Kadar’s aggro deck (which, if memory serves, had gone 0-2 before playing my 2-0 monster).

What? Losing was great? Yep! It demonstrates that my deck, a fluke where I cut an archetype hard (draft cards that go well with Birthing Pod) when green and black were wide open, is not unbeatable. It played the long game better than any of the control decks, but stumbled in the early game.

I don’t want my cube to have any unbeatable decks. Sure, there are going to be more powerful draft decks—and sure, some players are much more skilled than others. However, no archetype should lack weaknesses or answers. If the deck dominated everything mustered against it (and my friends provided strong competition), then that would constitute strong evidence that my cube has strong graveyard interactions and insufficient answers to same. The fact that the deck could lose means that that area of the cube may be in good shape. Sometimes things don’t have to change (even though they always will in the end).

 squees embrace

That’s all from me for now. I’ll be glued to Modern Masters spoilers in anticipation of Grand Prix Las Vegas (might I see you there?) and hopefully some streaming, as well. Thanks for reading!

—Zach B.


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