Conley Woods coined the term Magical Christmas Land to refer to a deck he was playing that could do something insane when it got the perfect hand. The deck was a Lotus Cobra/Violent Ultimatum deck that specialized in destroying opposing manabases… when everything went right. When things went less than right, though, the wheels would fall off. In time the term has taken off as a short-hand for glass cannon decks, the ones that have really sweet kills so long as you draw the right cards in the right order and don’t face serious disruption.

This is a long way to go to set up my report on SCG Somerset. I did team sealed with my Dana and our friend Sean, and on the whole we did not do too well. We ended the day at 2-3, although my personal record was 2-2-1. Team sealed is a great format, but like most limited formats, your odds are influenced by the strength of your pool. Yes, there is a degree to which tight play is going to make your deck go farther than it should, but at some point you’re going to end up facing a double Pack Rat pool or something similar. And while there are more answers to Pack Rat in the format now, you have to be lucky enough to be playing one of the colors that have those options.

I say this because we opened a sweet pool and then got passed a mediocre one. This is the way of the world. Still, there were some sweet synergies. Sean ended up playing an Orzhov deck that was heavy on the black, following Teysa, Eviction, and Crypt Ghast but missing out on a lot of the extort low drops. Dana ended up playing an Izzet deck that could side itself into Grixis if it needed to be the control, but it lacked a single non-land rare and generally was outclassed in the power level. And I played a sweet Bant deck that takes us back to the title of this post.

My deck had a dream: to play Progenitor Mimic copying Trostani’s Summoner. It was a crazy dream, but a powerful one. Unfortunately, it relied on the opponent being unable to disrupt Progenitor Mimic, and in a format where disruption was plentiful. Progenitor Mimic never survived to make a copy of itself, and Trostani’s Summoner was always killed in response to me casting the Mimic. Since there was only one other card in my deck that demanded a removal spell (Trostani, for the ultimate in broken synergies), my opponents held onto them until I did something drastic. Like casting Progenitor Mimic. And the Mimic didn’t need to copy the Summoner to be powerful. I was particularly interested in how one round would play out where I copied my Ivy Lane Denizen in the hope of exponential counters, but again my opponent had the removal spell before I could live the dream.

That was another part of my problem; with only a cluestone for acceleration, my powerful plays were higher on the curve than some of the blazingly fast decks I had to face down. Gruul got me on turn five, after I had played Trostani, by bloodrushing his guys for lethal. Boros also pounded face, leaving me unable to stabilize once I managed to get a board presence. And even middling bombs like Sphinx of the Chimes blew me out, since I only had two spells in my portion of the pool that could deal with a 5/6 flier. I had some sweet synergies, for sure, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the vulnerabilities my deck had to disruption.

Conley leveled his game up after his brewer phase, and eventually he won himself some major events by eschewing the outlying synergistic homebrews in favor of tweaked metagame decks. It was a good call. You can’t rely on Magical Christmas Land getting there in the end for you, because it’s in every opponent’s best interest to stop you from going off. It’s a lesson I am always striving to learn, because at heart I am just another Johnny. When I let myself go I drift into Magical Christmas territory, and it’s especially easy to lose track of one’s focus as you and two teammates try to slam together three different decks in a relatively short period of time.

So don’t get lost in Magical Christmas Land! It may be a heck of a lot of fun, but it is certainly not a winning strategy.


Personal Note: Unfortunately, this will be my last Hope Eternal column for the foreseeable future. A (positive) change in my circumstances is keeping me from engaging regularly with tournaments and other events, and if I can’t go to the tournaments I am not going to have anything particularly interesting to say. We should be getting a particularly special replacement for me, whose name will be revealed by this time next week, but I think you will like him. Or her! But, most likely a very specific him. If you’re a fan of my writing, I’d love for you to check out Command of Etiquette, which I will be continuing to write every Tuesday for this very site; EDH is a great format, and I think even naysayers will change their tune if I can get you to see it through my eyes. It’s been a blast, and thanks for having me!

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