Life Will Never Be The Same

Posted in Feature on April 18, 2006

By John Klauk

Dissension will soon flood into game and hobby stores worldwide. Previews have been pouring out all week on the main magicthegathering.com website, and this new set looks like it is going to be taking fans everywhere by storm. If the few cards I have seen so far are any indication of the surge of great things that will flow from within the ranks of this third and final set, then I would have to say that this latest expert expansion will easily hammer the proverbial nail in the coffin of the Ravnica block. What an absolutely fantastic year of Magic® card design. A slew of players and writers have compared Ravnica block to Invasion block (one of if not the best designed block in my humble opinion), and they are justified in these comparisons. Of all the cards to drizzle out before Dissension actually goes on sale, I must say, one stands out above the rest as my favorite.

“Why?” you ask. Well, that’s simple my friend.

Because I get to show it to you first in all its Rakdos slaughter and fury! And trust me, once you see it, you will agree: life will never be the same.

Straight from the company that gave us such hits as Faith’s Fetters, Loxodon Hierarch, and Firemane Angel comes this little gem. The name is just so Rakdos to boot! May I proudly present…

May I proudly present:

Well, so much for my “Searing Meditations" deck! Leave it to black and red, the kings of enchantment control, to get an enchantment that destroys Searing Meditation, making it look worse than Pale Moon.* Hmmph… The Wizards of the Coast Magic R&D Department must have found out about my super-secret, killer deck and therefore whipped up this little bad boy in a hurry as an emergency solution before word got out and Klaukwork Meditations spread like wildfire through the worldwide tournament scene. What with Umezawa’s Jitte still fresh on everyone’s tongues from the last Block Constructed season.

Wait one second! This Rakdos rare works against Umezawa’s Jitte also? Clearly a conspiracy is underfoot! That's two tournament-wrecking powerhouse cards this new enchantment obliterates!!** Makes me wonder what else Rain of Gore functions against.

- Sounds like list time to me. –

Top 10 Current Standard Legal Cards that Rain of Gore is “Interesting” Against

10. Umezawa’s Jitte: Ha! Let’s see you gain life with your all-powerful charge counters now punk! What? Remove four charge counters and kill my team, even my protection from black Hand of Cruelty with your equipped Watchwolf… a white creature? That’s fair. Is there anything this artifact can’t do other than not have multiples in play? Maybe I should have sided in Pithing Needle instead.

9. Genju of the Fields: Please, please show me that cool trick where you activate the Genju multiple times. Really. Please?

8. Faith’s Fetters: Better be sure that you don’t want my Rakdos Guildmage to be online and operational. Well, punk… are ya’? Sure? Are ya’?

7. Firemane Angel: Wasn’t this supposed to be good in conjunction with Zur’s Weirding? Especially in multiples? I don’t know about you, but 10 mana for a 4/3 first strike flyer probably is not going to cut it against a Rakdos deck. What? You actually think you’ll get to keep it in play against a black/red deck? It will only keep coming back once you get to 10 mana, and I doubt if you will make it that long. You might if you could gain life, but that’s not going to happen now either.

6. Loxodon Hierarch: Why, yes, I would like to play a non-hasted Lava Hounds. Why do you ask?

5. Form of the Dragon: Think about it. If it doesn’t make sense and click with you, feel free to e-mail Level 4 Judge, John Carter.

4. Lightning Helix: 2 mana. 3 damage. Lose 3 life. Suddenly, Craig Jones’ topdeck at PT Honolulu doesn’t look nearly as amazing.

3. Kokusho, the Evening Star: How about we both lose 10 life when that second one comes into play? Sounds much more fair all around to me. Yes! Rain of Gore even owns state-based effects like the Legends rule! Brutal!

2. Miren, the Moaning Well: I’ll go out on a limb and say if Miren gets activated while Rain of Gore is in play, chances are someone is going to be losing 5 life

1. Searing Meditations: This is referred to as ‘splash damage’ at its highest level of potency folks. It pains me on a personal level that only a rogue deckbuilder can appreciate…really…I’m sad. No. Sadder than that. You have no idea. FATALITY!!! Rain of Gore!

Now, seriously though, the real point of this list is to show just how many potential strategies and single cards actually take a hit to the nuggets from Rain of Gore (and that’s just in the current Standard scene). Like its historical predecessors, Forsaken Wastes and Sulfuric Vortex, Rain of Gore is definitely a card that will be regulated to the sideboard in its role. Will it see serious tournament use? I’m not sure. There certainly are a number of cards currently that gain life to change the race during a match. Most, however, seem to be good without the life gain aspect. Perhaps it will be best to place emphasis on cards that deal with those threats instead of their added bonuses out of your sideboard. We’ll have to wait and see what Dissension brings in its entirety to the Standard tournament environment before we can determine if there is indeed a place and need for it.

All that aside, the idea of slapping down an enchantment that reminds me of the opening rave scene of Blade appeals to my inner demons.

Catch y’all later,
John H. Klauk

*A now estranged Magic friend of mine once started a hilarious joke on me, known simply as the Pale Moon Project. Through various message boards and forums she spread the word about the best things to do with Pale Moon, including making wind chimes out of them. Her #1 thing to do with them, however, was to sign and send them to me. Needless to say, she never expected the hilarious volume of mail I received over the next few weeks! I now have over 350 Pale Moons, signed from around the world. In the spirit of her wonderfully pixieish prank, if you wish to continue torturing me, please send me an e-mail and I’ll be happy to send you my home address so you too can partake in the Pale Moon Project.

**Obviously, I’m kidding here. Hopefully, my sarcasm is apparent. This footnote is mainly to prevent too much eye-rolling and frothing e-mails about my ignorance.

Bonus Two-Headed Giant Champs Report

As a quick bonus, I wanted to throw out a little fact/story I am quite happy about. In conjunction with my amazing teammate, Jason ‘Strong-Link’ Sheffield, Team Dynomite! captured the Mississippi Two-Headed Giant Champs title this year. Ah, the first step towards the 2006 Triple Crown I so very much want to pull off. I don’t think it could have been a more entertaining tournament to have won either!

During the six rounds of Swiss and Top 4, we played all sorts, from first time players, Team Holston, to the top our state has to offer, the dangerously skilled yet highly enjoyable team of Faith + 1, Will Nelson and Jim Still (both Pro Tour players whose advice and banter I most enjoy listening to).

I will fly through the Swiss rounds. In brief, we decided to divide our card pool into a black/green/white deck and a black/blue/red deck. The black/green/white deck had such bombs as Ghost Council of Orzhova, Tolsimir Wolfblood, Sisters of Stone Death, and Vulturous Zombie. I know! What else could our other deck have left? Trust me, it had all the good uncommons and commons you could want in its colors. Plenty of bounce, black and red creature removal, as well as solid creatures to fill out the bulk of the deck, including triple!?! Ogre Savant. It even had the Peel From Reality plus Izzet Chronarch shenanigans.

Needless to say, we were quite happy with our decks. We ended the Swiss portion with a 4-1-1 record. Our only loss came at the hands of Geoff Jeffreys and Larry Wellington. Angel of Despair plus Exhumer Thrull was simply more than we could handle. Unfortunately, Geoff and Larry had their fate in their hands during the last round, with a chance to make Top 4, but just couldn’t pull it off. Jim and Will would probably have you believe the fault all lies on the one, the only, the amazing Geoff Jeffreys. Sorry, but to keep this brief, I’ll have to introduce the bad beats stories only Mr. Jeffreys can supply some other time in the name of brevity.

Our tie came to two close card buddies that also both play at our local FNM events, Merritt Lowe and Michael Banks. They were beating us like a drum during the early game. This was mostly due to Michael landing a turn 4 Tolsimir Wolfblood into play, topped off by the fact that I stared at my Tolsimir in my hand for about six more turns than I should have before I found a green mana source. Eventually we stabilized the board near 8 life. If it had not been for an Orzhov Guildmage we kept in play, we would have definitely lost this match. Unfortunately, time ran out and we were unable to finish in the five extra turns. We had actually turned the game around though to a point where if we had more time, I am convinced we would have won thanks to Sisters of Stone Death and Vulturous Zombie seeing play, and the other team having absolutely no gas left to deal with them.

For the Top 4 rounds, we were given a new card pool and had a very interesting decision laid out in front of us during deck construction. We could make two fairly decent decks, or we could make one really powerful deck and have one mediocre deck. We opted for the one really powerful deck and one mediocre deck. On top of this, we tried a little psychological strategy. Since I was the ‘veteran’ among us and the one most players knew, I piloted the mediocre deck. All day long so far, every spell that could target a player, such as Castigate, would target me. It continued into the Top 4.

The first round of Top 4 was versus Roll Tide, teammates Chas Breuniq and Jason McMillan. They had an air force of three out beating us down until our MVP, Djinn Illuminatus, showed up. On our next turn, Jason laid down the law with an Electrolyze replicated three times, relieving us of our flying infestation problem, and drawing four cards in the process. The game was over soon after that.

In the finals we faced Faith + 1. They had not been happy at all with their card pool, but I knew it would still be a good game as they are both very solid players. The board became locked up until the Djinn showed up again. This time the following turn brought a Fiery Conclusion replicated three times, all while sacking the lone Lore Broker that had been stacking our hands. Boy, am I glad I knew that ruling on Fiery Conclusion with replicate! We cleared the majority of their important creatures, but it did not take them long to reestablish a defense. An Izzet Chronarch fetched back the Fiery Conclusion and would soon also provide fuel for it, but the Djinn was bounced back to Jason’s hand. Now, here is where things get interesting. Since Jason was holding a Muddle the Mixture (the Muddle was mainly in the deck to search for Last Gasp, Fiery Conclusion, or Izzet Guildmage), we put them on some sort of sorcery or instant creature kill. We patiently waited to replay the Djinn until we had enough to protect it with the Muddle. Sure enough, once we played it they attempted to Disembowel it at the end of the turn. Muddle the Mixture to the rescue. A previous turn’s Flight of Fancy on my Bramble Elemental had drawn Jason both Last Gasp and Electrolyze. Between these two spells and the ability to replicate the Last Gasp two times, we had just enough damage to swing through for the win. Good thing too, as Jason now only had 10 cards left in his library, and Jim was holding Glimpse the Unthinkable. Like I said, most entertaining. I would go so far as to say that I doubt any other Two-Headed Giant Champs finals were as good as this one!

John started playing Magic back when Antiquities came out. He is a frequent top 8 finisher at PTQs and Champs using non-archetype decks and is a Regional Coordinator for the Delegate program. He also wants to say he has the most amazing fiancée a gamer like him can ever hope for. He also wants you to know that Djinn Illuminatus is a HOUSE in Two-Headed Giant and Pale Moon really is that bad.

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