Loam Lion Gro

In order to keep myself entertained offline, and thanks to simply moving house and having to decide what the fuck to do with them, I’ve been playing around with my Magic: The Gathering cards, a collection that has, thanks to donations, roots down in Homelands and even some of Innistrad. It’s been a few years since I wrote seriously about Magic, but I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the style and flavour of Innistrad block. Theros has some good stuff to it, too, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not nearly as exciting to me as Innistrad, with its vampires and werewolves and transformation as mechanic.

Wait, Theros has that too? Holy crud.

Anyway, just before losing internet connectivity, I was playing something like this in the casual room, my modern deck that remembers the original Ravnica:

  • 4x Dryad Militant
  • 4x Loam Lion
  • 4x Qasali Pridemage
  • 4x Quirion Dryad
  • 4x Bandage
  • 4x Edge of Autumn
  • 4x Gitaxian Probe
  • 4x Manamorphose
  • 4x Niveous Wisps
  • 4x Oust
  • 2x Scout’s Warning
  • 4x Flagstones of Trokair
  • 4x Forest
  • 4x Plains
  • 4x Temple Garden
  • 2x Razorverge Thicket

If that looks like gibberish to you, don’t worry, it’s not particularly impressive when you do know what’s going on. What’s been striking me about playing with these old cards is how excited I become when I’m playing a game that has some feeling of velocity to it. Yes, I just used an old Flores word. Velocity, the ability of a deck to move cards from one zone to another – which meant that even if a control deck wasn’t necessarily winning, it still felt like it was doing a lot of things, and that was exciting, too.

Looking at decklists these days does make me a little wary – I’ll stay in the modern cardpool where the sharks may be larger, but more of my collection is worth something – but I’ve been enjoying just playing again. And some of these mechanics are really slick and clever. I particularly am enjoying building decks around commanders.

Once upon a time, this deck had Tattermunge Maniac in the list, until we learned that a 2/1 for 1 is actually pretty worthless in a world that doesn’t have fucking Fireblast. It’s hilarious looking out at the magic landscape and seeing how it seems to have taken on characters and traits I once espoused for it. Green creatures are better than they were, creatures in general are better than they were, and there’s some recognition as to the value of late-game mana investments. Surely, little by little, the landscape has shifted – and now we have glorious looking, green feeling cards like Polukranos and it all happened without having to take away blue’s toys from it.

Right now what I’m thinking of is Soulbound cards – particularly the red Lightning Mauler, who looks like he can do the job of Fires of Yavimaya. Now, Fires was only ever good by accident. You could go turn one Birds, turn two Fires, turn three Blastoderm, (in for five) turn four Saproling Burst, and attack for seventeen and probably the win. Lightning Mauler doesn’t exist in that world, particularly one without Blastoderms. But I am wondering… what about Calciderm, and white creatures that can benefit from haste? After all, Lightning Mauler need only give out haste for one turn for each creature that he’s bound to…

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