How Dare You? 2

Posted in Feature on November 13, 2003

By Mark L. Gottlieb

Last week I presented the first wave of Acrostic Deck Dare deck submissions. This week I will present the second (and, sadly) last wave. There were so many great decks that I could easily write another column or two just to show them off. But it's time to move on. As I've said, there were hundreds of submissions, and I thank each and every person who sent one in. Acrostics paid tribute to Magic artists, films, books, historical events, video games, and more. HANDEL'S MESSIAH sat alongside ROB ZOMBIE MUSIC. James Groth-Olson made a J. GROTH-OLSON autobiographical deck. Glenn Davis and Sylverfang, picking up on a jab I made in my Dare column, both made the HOMELANDS acrostic deck—and they differed by only three cards. Nick Azer's LEON CZOLGOSZ deck took its theme from President William McKinley's assassin. Jack Oldsteel's SAPROLINGS ARE AWESOME deck competed with Fednis48's SAPROLINGS ROCK effort. Benn Freeman presented a symptom-by-symptom analysis of BIPOLAR DISORDER, while Lars Node asserted that GLOWSTICKS ROCK in his rave deck. And Tad Whitmore broke the 60-card rule for his Battle of Wits acrostic deck (THE WIZARD WHO MEMORIZES A THOUSAND BOOKS IS INSANE). Each card in that deck was related to Wizards, studying, or insanity.

Some individual card highlights? In Q Ball's SUPER SMASH BROS. deck, Pikachu was represented by Razortooth Rats. Nile Fox-Priebe's FORD PREFECT deck had Reiver Demon as the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. Chris M's COLORADO AVALANCHE deck wouldn't be complete without Ophidian (the snake of an agent). Stephen Kovalcik's SPIDER-MAN COMICS deck included Aeolipile as a Green Goblin pumpkin bomb, while Scott Jones's I AM SUPERMAN deck ended with Nut Collector because "Superman rounds up crazy villains."

After three rounds of sorting still left me with 75 decks in my "really good" category, I went through one final time with a single criterion for judging them: To get into this column, the deck had to knock my socks off. I hope they knock your socks off too.

So Bad It's Good

Here's the submission from Peter Ingraham (though he's threatening another acrostic deck based on the acrostic decks I post in my column). His theme is VERY BAD CARDS, and he's not kidding.

Very Bad Cards

Download Arena Decklist
Land (22)
10 Swamp 10 Mountain 2 Forest
Other (38)
4 (V)archild's War-Riders 2 (E)arthlink 3 (R)eckless Assault 3 (Y)avimaya Scion 4 (B)urning Sands 4 (A)ether Flash 3 (D)ivining Witch 4 (C)yclopean Mummy 2 (A)gility 3 (R)ain of Daggers 4 (D)arigaaz's Caldera 2 (S)tangg
60 Cards

Each of these cards is pretty horrible on its own. However, when combined, they form an intricate, disruptable, but very evil 3-card combo! Varchild's War-Riders keeps giving your opponent more and more Survivor tokens. Earthlink and Burning Sands mean that if we can knock off the hordes of people fleeing from Varchild's grasp, we can make our opponent sacrifice his or her lands! That's where Aether Flash comes in: get the whole combo in place and your opponent has "Cumulative upkeep: Sacrifice a land." Reckless Assault and Rain of Daggers are hideous creature control cards that keep you alive (sort of) while you set up your combo. Divining Witch is a miserable way to find your combo pieces. Agility is awful—but less so when you consider all the 1/1 creatures you're giving your opponent. The rest of the deck consists of subpar creatures and land. Cyclopean Mummy was even voted the worst card in Fourth Edition!

That's Her

Like with my first Deck Challenge, I got a lot of music-themed decks this time around. (Of course, last time music was the theme.) The most stunning musical submission was Keith Bogart's deck. I was reluctant to include it because it's so long... but I had to because it's so good.

Elvis Costello's "She"

Download Arena Decklist
Land (23)
11 Plains 6 Island 6 Swamp
Other (37)
4 (E)xalted Angel 1 (L)uminous Angel 1 (V)esuvan Doppelganger 2 (I)vory Mask 1 (S)elenia, Dark Angel 3 (C)hill Haunting 2 (O)versold Cemetery 1 (S)pirit Mirror 3 (T)wisted Abomination 3 (E)ye of Ramos 3 (L)ast Breath 2 (L)ilting Refrain 2 (O)pt 2 (S)ustaining Spirit 2 (S)erra Angel 2 (H)ell's Caretaker 3 (E)ternal Dragon
60 Cards

In fitting with the song, this deck is filled with Angels. Early-game options include landcycling, mana acceleration, or a face-down Exalted Angel in preparation for casting large, efficient fliers. Oversold Cemetery can fetch your landcyclers back, and Hell's Caretaker combos with Spirit Mirror to put those landcyclers directly into play.

"She," by Elvis Costello

She may be the face I can't forget
The trace of pleasure or regret
May be my treasure or the price I have to pay
She may be Lilting Refrain
May be Chill Haunting
Vesuvan Doppelganger
Within the measure of a day

She may be Eternal Dragon or Twisted Abomination
May be the famine or the feast
May turn each day into a Heaven or a Hell's Caretaker
She may be the Spirit Mirror
A smile reflected in a stream
She may not be what she may seem
Exalted Angel

Luminous Angel
Whose Eye of Ramos can be so private and so proud
Ivory Mask
She may be Selenia, Dark Angel
serra angel
That I remember 'til Last Breath

She may be the reason I Oversold Cemetery
Sustaining Spirit
The one I'll care for through the rough and ready years

Me, Opt
And make them all my souvenirs
And where she goes I've got to be
The meaning of my life is
She....She....Oh, she....

Exalted Angel

Show of Force

As I stated last week, there were lots of movie submissions. Monty Python and Terminator had their proponents. Fans of the Evil Dead movies married an acrostic theme with a Zombie deck (as did fans of Night of the Living Dead, Resident Evil, and Rob Zombie). There was a neat little PIRATES OF THE CARRABEAN deck that, unfortunately, had quite a fatal flaw. The most popular movie submission after The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings was, not too surprisingly, Star Wars (the good ones, not the new ones).

The Empire Strikes Back

Download Arena Decklist
Land (24)
11 Snow-Covered Plains 8 Swamp 5 Island
Other (36)
4 (T)hermal Glider 1 (H)arsh Judgment 1 (E)scape Routes 3 (E)radicate 2 (M)eddling Mage 1 (P)redator, Flagship 1 (I)hsan's Shade 3 (R)eborn Hero 1 (E)mpty City Ruse 1 (S)tratadon 3 (T)ethered Skirge 1 (R)amirez DiPietro 1 (I)nfernal Genesis 1 (K)armic Guide 3 (E)xpendable Troops 3 (S)olar Tide 2 (B)ounty Hunter 1 (A)talya, Samite Master 2 (C)old Storage 1 (K)arn, Silver Golem
60 Cards

This deck is basic black-white beats with a trick or two up its sleeve. Use efficient evasion creatures (Thermal Glider, Tethered Skirge) to deal early damage while Bounty Hunter and Meddling Mage secure a long-term advantage. Solar Tide spares your little or big creatures as necessary, while Cold Storage and Karmic Guide bring them back.

Card explanations:
Snow-covered Plains: Hoth

Bounty Hunter
Swamp: Dagobah
Island1 (Mirrodin #291): Bespin, Cloud City
Thermal Glider: X-Wing
Harsh Judgment: Vader captures Han and Leia
Escape Routes: Escape from Hoth
Eradicate: "Apology accepted, Captain Needa"
Meddling Mage: Yoda
Predator, Flagship: The Executor Super Star Destroyer
Ihsan's Shade: Darth Vader
Reborn Hero: Luke Skywalker
Empty City Ruse: Evacuating Cloud City
Stratadon: AT-AT Walker
Tethered Skirge: TIE Fighter
Ramirez DePietro: Han Solo
Infernal Genesis: "Luke, I am your father..."
Karmic Guide: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Expendable Troops: Storm Troopers
Solar Tide: In the depths of space
Bounty Hunter: Boba Fett
Atalya, Samite Master: Princess Leia (just look at the hair)
Cold Storage: Carbonite freezing chamber
Karn, Silver Golem: C-3PO

Double Acrostic

What really pushed Simon's submission over the top is that he included an bonus acrostic goodie for me: A deck that spells out the message "Using Magic cards, also do me a double acrostic"... while doing just that. It's an astonishing feat of construction that, he says, plays a bit like Psychatog, using Nightstalker Engine as the 'Tog.

Nightstalker Engine

Double Acrostic
Casual Acrostic deck – Simon Watson

13 Island
11 Swamp
2 Unfulfilled DesiresUnfulfilled Desires
1 Sage OwlSage Owl
1 Iron MaidenIron Maiden
3 Nightstalker EngineNightstalker Engine
2 Glowing AnemoneGlowing Anemone
2 Mind's DesireMind's Desire
1 Arcanis the OmnipotentArcanis the Omnipotent
1 Glasses of UrzaGlasses of Urza
2 Innocent BloodInnocent Blood
3 Circular LogicCircular Logic
4 Chainer's EdictChainer's Edict
2 Ascending AvenAscending Aven
1 Ray of CommandRay of Command
1 Diminishing ReturnsDiminishing Returns
2 Snuff OutSnuff Out
3 Aether SpellbombAether Spellbomb
1 Lost in ThoughtLost in Thought
3 Shadowmage InfiltratorShadowmage Infiltrator
1 Oversold CemeteryOversold Cemetery

Fowl Play

Apparently overwhelmed by the Michael J. Fox quote "Nobody… calls me… a chicken!" in the Deck Dare column, Graham Herrli went insane. This is not the best acrostic deck I received. But it is the weirdest.

Wild Mobs of Super Fire Chickens

Download Arena Decklist
Land (22)
3 Plains 7 Island 8 Mountain 4 Forest
Other (38)
2 (W)ildfire 1 (I)nvasion Plans 1 (L)ichenthrope 2 (D)ingus Egg 2 (M)esa Chicken 1 (O)rcish Farmer 1 (B)ogardan Phoenix 1 (S)hivan Phoenix 1 (O)wl Familiar 1 (F)irestorm Phoenix 1 (S)hard Phoenix 3 (U)nnatural Selection 1 (P)ygmy Razorback 1 (E)bony Horse 1 (R)oc Hatchling 2 (F)ree-Range Chicken 1 (I)llusions of Grandeur 1 (R)ukh Egg 1 (E)lvish Farmer 2 (C)hicken Egg 2 (H)enge of Ramos 1 (I)nsidious Bookworms 4 (C)hicken a la King 1 (K)razy Kow 1 (E)arnest Fellowship 1 (N)imble Mongoose 1 (S)kycloud Egg
60 Cards

Wild Mobs of Super Fire Chickens are conspiring to take over the world with this 5-color deck! Turn all of your creatures into Chickens using Unnatural Selection, and watch as Chicken a la King supersizes your order. If you get into trouble you can always turn chicken (yes, terrible pun intended), and force a draw with Wildfire and Dingus Egg.

Card explanations:

Wildfire: "Shiv hatched from a shell of stone around a yolk of flame."
Invasion Plans: For the Chickens to take over the world!
Lichenthrope: Has "hen" in its name
Dingus Egg: Chickens lay eggs (duh)
Orcish Farmer: The witless owner of our future world rulers (Chickens)
Bogardan Phoenix: SUPER FIRE CHICKEN!
Owl Familiar: Chicken's barnyard ally
Firestorm Phoenix: SUPER FIRE CHICKEN!
Unnatural Selection: If Fire Chickens are not unnatural, I do not know what is.
Pygmy Razorback: Chicken's conspirator from the farm
Ebony Horse: One of many chicken barnyard allies
Free-Range Chicken: SUPER FIRE CHICKEN!
Illusions of Grandeur: People think that humans are going to stay in power
Elvish Farmer: Another witless chicken "owner"
Henge of Ramos: Has "hen" in its name
Insidious Bookworms: Chicken food!
Chicken a la King: SUPER FIRE CHICKEN!
Krazy Kow: Chicken's barnyard ally
Earnest Fellowship: Has "nest" in its name
Nimble Mongoose: Chicken ally & cobra protection

Yeah. I'm flabbergasted too.

The Scottish Play

How about a faithful retelling of Macbeth... in Magic deck form? Shawn Main provides a monoblack deck steeped in murder and ambition whose card choices are so dead-on, playing it should give you high school English credit.


Download Arena Decklist
Land (20)
20 Swamp
Other (40)
4 (S)engir Autocrat 2 (H)atred 3 (A)mbition's Cost 1 (K)aervek's Spite 1 (E)radicate 1 (S)keletal Scrying 3 (P)romise of Power 1 (E)ndless Scream 2 (A)scendant Evincar 3 (R)oyal Assassin 1 (E)mpyrial Plate 1 (S)laughter 1 (M)ind's Eye 3 (A)byssal Gatekeeper 3 (C)ackling Witch 4 (B)raids, Cabal Minion 4 (E)bon Stronghold 1 (T)ortured Existence 1 (H)aunting Echoes
60 Cards

Card explanations:
Sengir Autocrat: King Duncan and his attendants
Hatred: Macbeth: My name's Macbeth.
Young Siward: The devil himself could not pronounce a title more hateful to mine ear.
Macbeth: No, nor more fearful. (Act V, Scene 7)
Ambition's Cost: Ross: Thriftless ambition, that wilt ravin up thine own life's means! (Act II, Scene 4)
Kaervek's Spite: Second murderer: I am one, my liege, whom the vile blows and buffets of the world have so incensed that I am reckless what I do to spite the world. (Act III, Scene 1)
Eradicate: Macbeth tries to kill both Banquo and his son Fleance to eliminate the lineage that would eventually become king.
Skeletal Scrying: First Witch: Round about the cauldron go, in the poison'd entrails throw. (Act IV, Scene 1)
Promise of Power: Third Witch: All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter! (Act I, Scene 3)
Endless Scream: Lennox: And as they say, lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death. (Act II, Scene 3)
Ascendant Evincar: Macbeth himself
Royal Assassin: The three murderers
Empyrial Plate: Macbeth: I'll fight till from my bones my flesh be hack'd. Give me my armour. (Act V, Scene 3)
Slaughter: Ross: Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes savagely slaguhter'd. (Act IV, Scene 3)
Mind's Eye: Macbeth: Art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? (Act II, Scene 1)
Abyssal Gatekeeper: The porter
Cackling Witch: The three weird sisters
Braids, Cabal Minion: Lady Macbeth
Ebon Stronghold: Dunsinane and Inverness
Tortured Existence: Macbeth: Better be with the dead, whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace, than on the torture of the mind to lie in restless ecstasy. (Act III, Scene 2)
Haunting Echoes: Macbeth's vision of the dead Banquo.

As it should be, Lady Macbeth (Braids) drives the action, forcing you into murder. She'll keep the opponent's resources low while you sacrifice Serfs from Sengir Autocrat or your Abyssal Gatekeeper to do away with even more of the opponent's creatures. The Assassins, Slaughter, and Eradicate deal with any creatures that remain. Ebon Stronghold works surprisingly well to let you cast Hatred early. Ambition's Cost, Promise of Power, and Skeletal Scrying keep your hand full, and Ascendant Evincar, Endless Scream, Promise of Power, and Cackling Witch provide appropriate finishers.

'Tis the Season

I started recounting the acrostic deck submissions with a Halloween one. It seems fitting that I end with a Christmas one. Tom Laflin couldn't wait to start jingling his bells and candying his canes, so get ready for Christmas in November!

Most Wonderful Time

Download Arena Decklist
Other (36)
3 (M)etalworker 3 (O)blation 2 (S)now Fortress 1 (T)oymaker 2 (W)all of Junk 3 (O)pportunity 1 (N)orth Star 2 (D)ismantling Blow 1 (E)lf Replica 1 (R)evered Elder 2 (F)odder Cannon 4 (U)topia Tree 2 (L)evitation 3 (T)icking Gnomes 1 (I)ridescent Angel 3 (M)addening Wind 2 (E)nergizer
60 Cards
This deck runs pretty simply: creature beatdown supported by mana acceleration and removal. Elf Replica and Dismantling Blow provide utility, and Oblation lets you deal with anything really nasty. Utopia Tree and North Star (powered by Metalworker) help stabilize the three-color mana base. If all else fails, Iridescent Angel puts your opponent on a 5-turn clock. Have fun spreading the Christmas spirit!

Card explanations:
Metalworker: Santa's special work team.
Oblation: Giving presents.
Snow Fortress: The base in a snowball fight.
Toymaker: The workers in Santa's workshop.
Wall of Junk: The huge pile of boxes and wrapping paper that builds up at Christmas.
Opportunity: The 20% off Christmas sale at Best Buy.
North Star: The star followed by the three wise men.
Dismantling Blow: What happens when little Suzy sees she got the green doll house, not the pink one.
Elf Replica: What Santa uses when he needs more workers.
Revered Elder: Santa himself.
Fodder Cannon: The Nerf gun little Bobby gets and uses to trash the house.
Utopia Tree: The Christmas tree.
Levitation: Santa's little secret, cause reindeer sure as hell can't fly normally.
Ticking Gnomes: Wind-up toys.
Iridescent Angel: Gloria presiding over the manger scene.
Maddening Wind: Harsh winter weather. Plus, the guy looks like he's doing some last-minute shopping.
Energizer: Batteries not included.

Until next week, dare to deck!


Mark may be reached at Send rules-related Magic questions to

Latest Feature Articles


May 18, 2022

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Mechanics by, Jess Dunks

The beloved adventure of Dungeons & Dragons returns to Magic once more in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. This set visits one of D&D's most iconic settings, introduce...

Learn More


May 17, 2022

Collecting Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate by, Max McCall

Editor's Note: We wanted to provide a clarification that the card Faceless One does not come in the foil-etched or traditional foil treatments. Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gat...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All