A Card for doctorjay

Posted in Feature on December 12, 2002

By Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar

Today marks the fiftieth "House of Cards" article, of which I'm quite proud. Several weeks ago, I decided I wanted to do something different and cool for #50. I thought about getting a guest columnist or loading the article with decklists or maybe doing another Deck Challenge. None of these options felt quite right, though.

As I look back on this past year, the only thing I've wanted to do and haven't done is provide a window into the evolution of a deck—from initial idea to polished decklist (understanding that "polished" means that you feel happy with the deck, not necessarily that it will win you fame and fortune). I haven't yet circled back to an initial deck idea and shown how the deck changed through playing. In fact, my numerous "House of Cards" first drafts never make it to a second draft, much less a final draft.

My focus on early deck ideas makes sense given the goals of this column. As I've said several times, I hope to fuel your imagination to make you want to build decks. I believe that Magic is a better game when people make their own decks instead of copy them from their neighbors.

That said, I think the evolution of a deck is both an important part of deckbuilding and a fascinating thing to behold. None of the decks I love look anything like they did when I first scribbled the decklist onto a restaurant napkin.

As a result, today begins a three-step journey of which the final destination is a deck that you all helped me to create. Today, you are going to decide the focus of my next Magic: The Gathering Online deck.


Like most people, when I first started playing Magic Online I was forced to make a very weird deck based on my very small virtual card collection. At the time, Magic Online had just been released and offered only Seventh Edition, Invasion block, Odyssey, and Torment. I had participated in the beta test, so I got a free theme deck when I signed up.

The deck I picked was "Insanity" from the Torment set. I'm not entirely sure why I picked it. Looking back, I guess I liked the rares (Nantuko Blightcutter and Nantuko Cultivator) and the uncommons (the two Arrogant Wurms, two Sylvan Mights, and two Tainted Woods in particular). Three Wild Mongrels were nice too. If you're looking for a decklist and description, go here.

Anyway, I started playing Booster Draft and Sealed Deck (I'm a big fan of the Magic Online Sealed-Deck Leagues) and slowly adding cards to my Insanity deck. The green was already strong and soon took over the decklist. When I got a few Gorilla Titans, they became the deck's focus, and I eventually had a nearly monogreen flashback and madness deck:

King Kong

Download Arena Decklist

Unfortunately, the cards I was buying at the time were mostly Seventh Edition and Invasion block, which did very little to help out my fledgling madness and flashback deck. I realized that I needed an entirely different focus. So I abandoned my green-red thing and traded cards to build an approximation of a deck from my "Basic Training" article. It took awhile, but I was able to build the following:

Big Stick

Download Arena Decklist

I played this deck until the release of Judgment, and then I decided it was time for something new. I had managed to snag four copies of Lord of Atlantis in a trade, and three Wonders in my first week of playing the new set. As a result, I decided it was time to put away my Shivan Dragons and focus instead on a "flying fish" Merfolk deck. Ironically, the deck ended up losing all copies of Wonder and Keep Watch, its only cards from Judgment. I did have four copies of Grip of Amnesia in the sideboard, though.

Moldy Fish

Download Arena Decklist

Now Onslaught is here and it's time for me to pick a new deck with which to tinker; however, I have been entirely paralyzed with choice. My collection is now too big for me to have a clear direction, and too small for me to easily build any of the 100,000 decks in my head. For some deckbuilders out there, this problem may sound familiar.


At the bottom of the page, there is a list of 100 cards, four of each color for each set currently legal in Standard. The list represents cards that fit, I think, into the spirit of "House of Cards." For the most part, they are also cards that fit my particular playing and deckbuilding style which means they

  • emphasize the use of creatures
  • are impressive and splashy
  • are underused or overlooked
  • seem like loads of fun to play

I am going to make the card that gets the most votes the focus of my next Magic Online deck. In fact, my first draft of the deck will use four copies of the chosen card (even if it's a Legend), and the deck will be built to maximize the card's impact throughout the ensuing versions.

This means you can vote for a card for any number of reasons.

  • It's your favorite card.
  • You have four copies of the card and can't figure out how to use it.
  • You think the card is particularly fun to build a deck around.
  • You think the card is particularly challenging to build a deck around.
  • You have always wanted to build a deck around the card.
  • You think the card deserves a deck built around it.
  • You would laugh playing against a deck built around the card.

Even if a card on the list currently shows up in popular tournament decks, don't necessarily shy away from picking it. Knowing me, whatever deck I play will have a unique twist.

In three weeks, I'll announce the winning card and provide a number of deck ideas along with first-draft decklists for each idea. You'll then vote on your favorite deck, I'll trade for the cards, and then I'll hang out in the Casual Constructed Games room in Magic Online playing the deck. Before the Legions release at the beginning of February, I'll check in with an article that describes the many ways the deck has evolved through playing.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. For now, peruse the list below and pick five cards you want to see as the focus of my next deck. The vote leader after a week is my new best friend.

Pick me something fun!


Aven Brigadier
Balthor the Defiled
Balthor the Stout
Book Burning
Breath of Life
Broodhatch Nantuko
Cabal Patriarch
Cephalid Constable
Cephalid Vandal
Chainer, Dementia Master
Crush of Wurms
Cultural Exchange
Dawn of the Dead
Devastating Dreams
Doomed Necromancer
Druid's Call
Dwarven Bloodboiler
Earnest Fellowship
Elephant Guide
Equal Treatment
Erhnam Djinn
Erratic Explosion
Gorilla Titan
Grave Consequences
Gravespawn Sovereign
Improvised Armor
Ivy Elemental
Ixidor, Reality Sculptor
Jareth, Leonine Titan
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Kamahl, Pit Fighter
Kirtar's Wrath
Llawan, Cephalid Empress
Malevolent Awakening
Masked Gorgon
Mistform Dreamer
Mythic Proportions
Nantuko Cultivator
Nature's Revolt
Nomad Mythmaker
Patriarch's Bidding
Pedantic Learning
Phantom Nantuko
Possessed Aven
Possessed Barbarian
Possessed Centaur
Possessed Nomad
Pulsating Illusion
Pulsemage Advocate
Reborn Hero
Resilient Wanderer
Rolling Stones
Rorix Bladewing
Seismic Assault
Sengir Vampire
Serra Angel
Serra's Embrace
Shivan Dragon
Sigil of the New Dawn
Silent Specter
Silver Seraph
Skirk Fire Marshal
Soulgorger Orgg
Steam Vines
Sutured Ghoul
Test of Endurance
Tolarian Winds
Uktabi Wildcats
Voice of the Woods
Volley of Boulders
Wall of Wonder
Wheel and Deal
Worldgorger Dragon
Wormfang Behemoth
Yavimaya Enchantress
Zombie Infestation
Jay may be reached at houseofcards@wizards.com.

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