Long Live Rock, Part 1

Posted in Feature on June 5, 2003

By Mark Gottlieb

What do you mean, "What are they?" They're musicians! Hey, I didn't paint it...
Wow. I challenged you, and you came through like the crazy people I know you are. The response to my first deck challenge was extraordinary. I was sent 88 decks—and before you start thinking that's a low number, consider that not only did every card in every deck had to have a strong connection to that deck's thematic rock band, but the deck itself had to work. Or at least looked like it worked. I was stunned by the thought, passion, and goofiness you folks poured into creating these decks. They were brilliant, they were surprising, and I loved going through them. Thank you to everyone who played along.

Because so many decks warrant attention, I'm splitting this article into two parts. This week I'll feature decks from the four most popular bands, as well as a deck based on a song rather than a band. Two weeks from now, the rock decks will be back for an encore as I shine the spotlight on six of my other favorite submissions.

The most popular bands were Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Queen, and Metallica, with five tribute decks each. The most obscure bands (to me, anyway) were Nightwish and Kamelot. The most popular card was Akroma, Angel of Wrath, which appeared in 10 decks. Here are the songs used to justify her inclusion:

  • “Beautiful One,” Smashing Pumpkins
  • “Flesh For Fantasy,” Billy Idol, which references how she was created by Ixidor
  • “Hairspray Queen,” Nirvana
  • “If God Will Send His Angels,” U2
  • “Killer Queen,” Queen
  • “Saw Red,” Sublime
  • “She's an Angel,” They Might Be Giants
  • “Thank God for the Bomb,” Ozzy Osbourne
  • “Thank You for Sending Me an Angel,” Talking Heads
  • “Under the Bridge,” Red Hot Chili Peppers, since it's about Los Angeles, the city of angels

As you can see, some card-song connections were amazing, while others were a bit, well, stretchier. Ämmälä Mikko included some Goblins in his AC/DC deck because they look like the band members. (Does Festering Goblin really resemble Angus Young? Yikes!) This tactic was used elsewhere; apparently Hermit Druid is a dead ringer for Rob Zombie. Liam Turner found that building a Moxy Fruvous deck was an excellent reason to include all of the original Mox Sapphirees. In a flash of brilliance, Robert Zeigler used the Seventh Edition collector numbers to warrant the inclusion of Disenchant ("Lucky 13"), Glorious Anthem ("17"), and Reprisal ("Thirty-Three") in his Smashing Pumpkins deck. And if anyone understands how Steve Shap connected Phyrexian Colossus to the Sublime song “Burritos,” well, perhaps some things are best left unknown.

"Alan's Psychadelic Breakfast" and "Grantchester Meadows"

Pink Floyd

I love Pink Floyd. They're one of my favorite bands, and the following deck wound up being one of my favorites as well. While picking the decks to showcase here, I was, of course, very subjective. I looked for both how well the deck worked and how well the thematic connections worked, but since most people's decks were excellent on both counts, I fell back on how interesting I thought the deck was. This deck was created by an over-40 player who's been into Magic for less than a year. And although it needs more land, it's otherwise great. Check out his fantastic card-song connections, noting that some (like Vengeance) reference the art. In fact, Ron specified the basic lands to use so the pictures match the songs: Odyssey mountain #346/350 and Seventh Edition plains #344/350.

“The Narrow Way”

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I swear that “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” is a real song title. It can be found on Ummagumma, which I swear is a real album title.

Here's what Ron says about his deck: “The premise of the deck is to establish a controlled environment with the Ensnaring Bridge with no cards in your hand. Then using the Goblin Machinist with Unquestioned Authority opens the door for unblocked attacks on your opponent. The Grafted Skullcap and Reborn Hero would also enable additional attacks in your turn but still have some defense if needed. There are a couple of other combos that I like: direct damage with Words of War/Grafted Skullcap, creature removal with Goblin Digging Team/Aurification, recovering discards with Pitchstone Wall or Recoup, and Solitary Confinment/Jayemdae Tome.”

Iron Maiden

I was surprised by Iron Maiden's popularity, but I shouldn't have been—the band itself is a Magic card! The only other submitted bands that share that distinction are the Rolling Stones and Oasis. Alex made sure he used at least one song from each Iron Maiden studio album when constructing this deck.

“The Edge of Darkness”

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This deck revolves around Purgatory. The main combo is to sacrifice Highway Robber to Fallen Angel, pay 4 mana and 2 life to bring it back with Purgatory, then gain 2 life when the Robber comes into play. It's a recurring engine that makes your opponent lose 2 life a turn. There are plenty of other good creatures to keep bringing back as well. Weathered Wayfarer has a nice interaction with Iron Maiden as your opponent debates whether or not to play lands. And the answer to Psychotic Haze's song title is “Yes!”


The decks I picked for both Queen and Metallica are monoblack decks, though they have quite different styles. I'd expect Metallica to provide a vicious, death-filled deck, but Queen's effectiveness at evil surprised me a bit. Check out the nice song-card connections on Chainer's Edict (great art reference), Smother, and Duress.

“The March of the Black Queen”

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Jim's comments: “Instead of going the easy route with songs such as 'Dragon Attack' or 'Ogre Battle,' I decided to base the deck around the song 'Death on Two Legs,' which I thought fit the card Phage the Untouchable extremely well. Essentially the deck would play like a MonoBlack Control deck and kill most if not all the creatures played by your opponent, then play Phage and attack the next turn for the win via either Dirge of Dread or Cover of Darkness.”


Here's the other monoblack deck, and the last of the four most popular bands. This one is a Cleric build as opposed to the creature-light Queen deck. As I read over the entries, it was interesting to see the different takes people had on the same subjects. Among the five Metallica decks, the song “Disposable Heroes” was used for Expendable Troops, Goblin Offensive, and Festering Goblin, while “The Thing that Should Not Be” was either Scion of Darkness, Petradon, or Despotic Scepter.

This deck includes the one card reference I changed in this whole column. Steven used “Fight Fire with Fire” for Corrupt. Sorry Steven, but that felt too much like a burn spell to me, especially with so many other great choices among Metallica's gloomy oeuvre: “Damage Inc.,” “Killing Time,” “Bleeding Me,” the song I used for the deck title, and the one I eventually substituted for Corrupt.

“Die, Die, My Darling”

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Steven's card-song connections are a little more conceptual, which is cool. For example, he felt the Dark Supplicants matched “Sad but True” because they sacrifice themselves, and Shepherd of Rot is “The Unforgiven” because it damages you too.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

A few people were adventuresome enough to base their decks not on the song titles of a band, but on the lyrics of a song. The “Stairway to Heaven” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” decks were very cool, but I was especially struck by BlackDiamondDragon's deck based on the emphatic anti-bigotry song “The Power of Equality” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The deck as a whole is thematic to the song because it's dedicated to preventing combat (although I don't know how the Peppers feel about pinging your opponent to death).

The Power of Equality

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Really cool, and some of those lyric-to-card parallels, like Seeker and Fervent Charge, are just eerie. It's too bad those cards aren't that useful here because attacking isn't really your priority. And, as is so often the case, I think more lands are necessary to go with the Pox, Bend or Break, Winter Orb, and Peacekeeper.

Curtis Scharding sent in my second-favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers deck, which tries to Donate ("Give It Away") a Transcendence ("Universally Speaking").

That's all for this week, but I'm not even halfway done. Since this entire column was too long for one post, I'll return to this topic on June 19 with six more guitar-smashin' decks. Until next week, rock on!


Mark may be reached at houseofcardsmail@yahoo.com. Send rules-related Magic questions to ask@wizards.com.

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