I Understood that Reference

Posted in From the Lab on December 8, 2014

By Mike Cannon

Mike Cannon started writing From the Lab at the end of 2012 after two years with GatheringMagic. He is an ardent casual player and loves finding uses for bad cards.

What's up, labbies? A few weeks ago I issued a challenge to you all. Use your Johnny deck building skills to create something based on a movie or TV show. Quite a few of you rose to the challenge, using a wide variety of source material. In fact, no show or film appeared more than once. Today I'll be highlighting a few of my favorites.

Battlefield Galactica

Our first flavor deck comes from Travis Comstedt, who decided to represent Battlestar Galactica. I really liked the thought Travis put in when deciding which cards would represent different characters and aspects of the show. A few obscure cards appear here to support the theme, and the cards chosen for many of the main characters seem perfectly on point. I'll let Travis give you the rundown.

Skyship Weatherlight | Art by: Mark Tedin]

Crew of the Battlestar Galactica (Skyship Weatherlight):

Admiral Adama: Odric, Master Tactician. A white, orderly master tactician that determines how creatures attack and block in combat? Sounds like he's rolling the hard 6.

President Roslin: Masako the Humorless. Being honest, even on a bleak show like Battlestar, President Roslin was a bit serious. All the time. Hence, Masako the Humorless.

Colonel Tigh: Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran. When I found Agrus Kos, everything clicked for this deck. Agrus Kos IS Colonel Tigh. Gruff, passionate, drunken elderly officer in the military service. Perfect.

Kara "Starbuck" Thrace: Hero of Bladehold. I had a real debate putting an actual angel in this position but I resisted. Kara always was the hero of Battlestar, leading the charge against the evil, metal Phyrexians… I mean Cylons.

Lee Adama: Tajic, Blade of the Legion. Lee was always a team player who somehow managed to never die despite being shot, stabbed, ejected from a spaceship etc.

Gaius Baltar: Norin the Wary. I literally couldn't have written an ability so perfectly suited to the cowardly, self-obsessed Gaius Baltar. Eternally avoiding fights and blaming others for his mistakes, he is Norin the Wary.

Chief Tyrol: Flamewright. Chief Tyrol kept the birds in the air by manipulating scraps and making them work constantly engineering new alterations and even building his own Viper.

Lieutenant Boomer: Captain of the Watch. It's hard to look only at season one…but if you do, Boomer was essential piece of the Raptor squad, bringing in reinforcements to each and every party.

The nuclear Cylon onslaught caused the Global Ruin of Caprica forcing Battlestar Galactica to venture deep Into the Void of space in search of Earth. With the future of humanity at stake, the men and women of the twelve colonies heeded the Marshal's Anthem and prepared for war. The army had to recruit civilians into the armed forces essentially giving Swords to Plowshares.

Now, whenever the Captain's Call goes out, soldiers of the Galactica Raise the Alarm and spill out of the barracks ready for action. Once they Assemble the Legion, pilots split off and head into their Vipers, creating a Thopter Squadron to fight the Cylons.

Battlestar Galactica was not without her own defenses: heavy cannons could Strafe any foe that wandered too close and, with Adama in command, you never knew when he would pull a Captain's Maneuver to fool the enemies. Even when all seemed lost, Admiral Adama could use some of his Boros Charm to boost morale. Or for the religious crowd, you take faith in President Roslin and her Obelisk of Urd.

Travis Comstedt's Battlestar Galactica

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Magic Doesn't Have any Pineapples

Ture Eijsbouts decided to build a deck based on a certain cartoon starring a yellow sponge. Although, admittedly, I haven't seen much of the show, I do at least know the main characters. Digging into some of Magic's earliest sets, Ture was able to find cards for all of them, even if the pineapple had to be left out.

Ture Eijsbouts's Bikini Bottom

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Although the main cards in the deck should be fairly self-explanatory, Ture decided to send you all on a little scavenger hunt to figure out the rest.

So, let's see if you spot them all! Main characters are in 4 times. Often recurring characters are in there twice. Less recurring characters once. Can you find: Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward, Sandy Squirrel, Mr Krabs, Pearl, Ms Puff (or what is left of her), Squilliam, Larry Lobster, Framed Pirate, Gary, Plankton (riding 2 of his inventions), Queen Jellyfish, some Boatmobiles, Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy, Neptune, and the Flying Dutchman?

Then there are some Bikini Bottom locales included, mainly for mana purposes:

The Chum Bucket and the Krusty Krab, Goo Lagoon, Bikini Island above Bikini Bottom (it really exists!), Sandy's home, and some random scenery. Lastly, there be fishing hooks.

Just One League Under the Sea

While many readers chose to represent TV shows with their decks, a few went with movies instead. One brave soul decided to single handedly take on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Rest in pieces, my friend.

Looverse's Deck of Extraordinary Gentlemen

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Before he was shot, stabbed, drained of blood, and torn to pieces, Looverse had a few final words to explain the deck.

The most difficult character to match was Allan Quartermain but the Jeskai Elder adequately fills the spot of the retired hunter. Invisible Stalker fills the role of Rodney Skinner, The Invisible Man. Civilized Scholar mutates into the Homicidal Brute creating Jekyll and Hyde perfectly. Captain of the Mists is Captain Nemo while Pirate Ship is the Nautilus.

Covert Operative combined with Shield of Kaldra make the immortal Dorian Gray (if only it were a painting!). Soldier of Fortune is Tom Sawyer. And while I truly want Olivia Voldaren here, Falkenrath Aristocrat has synergy with the rest of the deck so she plays the role of Mina Harker. Sword of Light and Shadow can allow unblockables to bring back Mina's fodder. Silver-Inlaid Dagger and Avacyn's Collar pump our humans making them extra extraordinary. And finally, Mask of Memory for our intelligent cast.

What's a Kino?

The next reader chose a movie or TV show that, to be honest, I've never even heard of. However, I decided to include it anyway. I liked the directness and simplicity of the deck, and Will explained his ideas well enough that even I could understand what was going on.

Kino's Journey is about a girl who takes a journey all around the world just to see it (Exploration, Explore, and Seek the Horizon). Kino is represented by Azusa and her talking motorcycle, Hermes, by the Journeyer's Kite. The Goblin Cannons are Kino's two sidearms, with which she protects herself from the many dangerous of her world. She may not appear dangerous, but those who threaten her are in for a Rude Awakening. The sundials are her compass and maps. Throughout her journey, Kino seeks not to judge, but simply to observe and understand the people she meets and the lands she visits (Moment's Peace and Harmonize).

Will's Kino's Journey

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Go to Hell

One reader decided to portray not just one movie, but two. Using an impressive array of cards, Jeremy Rose pulled characters and ideas from both Hellboy and its sequel. It's been years since I've seen either, so many of the references went over my head, but the sheer number of specific card choices representing specific things caught my eye regardless.

First movie:


Liz—Jaya Ballard, Task Mage

Abe—Sygg, River Cutthroat

Myers—War-Name Aspirant

Rasputin—Soldevi Adnate

Ilsa—Initiates of the Ebon Hand

Kroenen—Brass Man


Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre—an elder god

Jokulhaups—vision of the future

Animate Dead—kind of self-explanatory in a Hellboy movie, don't you think?

Rise from the Grave—ditto

Grim Return—ditto again

Reassembling Skeleton—the undead Garmin

Mystifying Maze—in Russia

Basalt Monolith—used to summon the elder god

Crown of Flames—when Hellboy says his true name, also part of the vision of the future

Second movie:

Johann Kraus—Haunted Platemail

Wink—Lotleth Troll

Prince Nuala—Nath of the Gilt-Leaf

Puppeteer Clique

Mosswort Bridge—troll market

Golgari Grave-Troll—cat-eating troll

Walking Atlas—the merchant who has the map

Expedition Map—the map to the location of the Golden Army

Liege of the Tangle—the seedling that Nuala drops in a puddle

Daretti, Scrap Savant—the goblin that made the Golden Army

Dread Statuary—entrance to the final scene

Platinum Angel—heals Hellboy

Crown of Empires—not a three-piece crown, but it'll do

4 Darksteel Sentinel—they're "indestructible"

4 Clay Statue—because I've run out of ideas

Jeremy Rose's Hellboy

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Six Numbers

The last deck I'll be showing off today took a very different approach to the challenge. Although he started with the same flavor-based ideas as the rest, Kevin McHenry's execution was aobut as mechanical as it gets. I'll let him explain.

4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. Those are the iconic numbers that had to be entered every 108 minutes to prevent a global catastrophe. They are also the cards numbers of the spells I select for this Lost-inspired deck. One from each standard set. I was hoping for blue spells, but they fell mostly in white. I was please though with how lucky I was with some spells just happening to be on theme. Especially Tormented Hero. That describes Jack Shephard quite well. For lands, I chose white pain and scry duels. That seems to fit with the suffering of the characters and the mystery unfolding over the course of the series. I rounded it out with 1 Island, because that's where it all happened.

Kevin McHenry's We Have to Go Back

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Cut! That's a Wrap

Like many of the TV shows here, From the Lab will be in reruns for the next two weeks as we take a little break for the holiday season. In the meantime, let me know if you liked this contest, and feel free to share any ideas you have for future challenges. You can shoot me a message on Twitter through @MTGCannon, or send an email to MTGCannon@gmail.com. See ya!

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