Feature: Is Dampen Dead?

Posted in Event Coverage on July 8, 2005

By Tim Willoughby

Way back when, Brian Weissman created a deck that dominated Magic to such a great extent that it was simply referred to as "The Deck." A blue-white control deck, it was as defensive as any Magic has ever seen, with merely a pair of Serra Angels with which to deliver the killing blows. Ever since, Constructed players have revelled in the Weissman ideal, taking their opponents to the brink of madness with seemingly impenetrable defences and a win condition that only really kicks in once they have already "won" by establishing control.

Dampen Thought

In Limited, the potential for this is unsurprisingly pretty small, but this hasn't stopped Quentin Martin from spending the entirety of Kamigawa block trying to do just that. His weapon of choice? Dampen Thought. Paul Sottosanti's baby, this blue uncommon has been allowing the control players to win without having to worry about playing with as high a threat count, meaning that there is all the more space for "answers." With each subsequent set ousting a pack of Champions from booster drafts everywhere, it would be easy to assume that the Dampen deck would officially lay down and die. Surprisingly though, Quentin's chirpy smile has hardly faded. With Champions of Kamigawa in the mix, the chance of seeing a Dampen Thought has gone down to just 27 percent, but in many respects it is safer than ever to be trying for something in line in Weissman's idiom.

Even if, like Martin, one chooses to force the blue-white deck in every single draft, after eight picks it will be abundantly clear whether or not your route to victory will be attacking your opponent's deck faster than they can attack your life. At this point it is not overly hard to morph into a more traditional blue-white deck with good fliers, some bounce and maybe a little bit of card drawing to help out. The milling plan isn't completely dead either, as there are various substitute threats that can help out if your parade has be rained on through a lack of damp.

Cloudhoof Kirin

In Friday's first draft, Quentin found himself in the unfortunate position of having no Dampen after eight picks, but he did have himself a Jushi Apprentice, who if he can engineer himself to flip can rapidly end the game. The fact that his ability is pretty mana intensive isn't really an issue for the blue-white control deck, as it has no real intention to win the game early. In pack three, he also happily scooped up a Cloudhoof Kirin. Like all of its "horsie of doom" fellows, the Kirin is a very real threat simply as a large efficiently costed flier, but when Quentin already has a mind to deck his opponent, his little pony becomes a double threat.

Backed up with a whole mess of other fliers, Martin’s first draft deck of the day seems well set up to beat in the air, but also has a very real potential to take advantage of an alternate win condition. In his first match he achieved an unlikely steal after being in horrible board position. With his opponent having a multitude of small attackers on board, and Quentin’s side of the field consisting of lands and not a lot else, he played Cloudhoof Kirin, who seemed like a pretty good blocker at the time. His opponent’s attack halted, Quentin then topdecked Petals of Insight, and with his 15 land proceeded to play the arcane spell three times, milling the entirety of his opponents deck and putting Quentin at 1-0.

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