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True Casual: Dealing with What You've Got
By Mark Schlosser
True Casual: Dealing with What You've Got

Christmas. Time for love, cheer, Santa, the birth of Jesus, and for the geeky among us, Magic. I'm a casual player in the truest sense of the word. Most of my Magic experiences have been born in the dining room with my brother Ken where we match wits over a table arrayed with various cardboard treacheries. Keeping this passion in mind, this Christmas we agreed to forgo the formalities of gift-giving and instead split a booster box of Ninth Edition. A great gift exchange in my opinion.

We had done this same exchange several months earlier with the release of Ravnica: City of Guilds. This had proved great fun and in essence got me back into Magic after a several-year sabbatical. As such, I already had eighteen good rares and a bunch of nice new cards going for me at the time including a Birds of Paradise and a Temple Garden to complement my new Selesnya deck (It might be worthwhile to note that if Eric Turgeon was not as skilled as he is at drafting I would have had a second at the time).

When you get Magic cards as a present it's like you're getting a double-gift. First you get the thrill of opening the wrapped booster box then the thrill of opening individual packs which are little packets of joy in themselves.

When I opened Will-o'-the-Wisp in my first pack I was pretty excited. I love low-cost critters. Black low-cost critters are extra-nice because they're harder to come by. Then I opened Weathered Wayfarer. Whoa there, buddy! Slow down! These packs were serving me a highly concentrated serving of weenie. Just when I thought it couldn't get any weenier, I peeled open a Kird Ape.

Wow. Kird Ape. I had heard of that card before. I was pretty sure "pro-players" use that card in those fancy tournaments to pull off turn four kills with a Jitte. Or something like that. Most importantly, I soon opened a second one. It was at this point that I realized that Ken had opened a third in one of his packs, foil to boot. A foil Kird Ape! Nifty. Luckily he traded it to me and I could begin work on my Truly Casual Pro Squash Deck.

When I say casual I do mean casual. I wasn't about to run online and order a fourth Kird Ape to complete the playset. I didn't rock back and forth with my eyes squeezed in frustration that my deck list wouldn't have nice Number Fours in a swift, straight column. I'd deal with it.

I opened a few other cards that would make sense in my gradually-forming Green/Red Squash deck. Rukh Egg, Emperor Crocodile, Thundermare, and Hunted Wumpus. Rukh Egg, an obvious good pick. Emperor Crocodile and Thundermare as well. But Hunted Wumpus I wasn't quite so sure. First thing my brother said when I pulled this baby out of a pack was, "Oh, pretty good for an Emperor deck."

I'm sure he was right, but it also seems to rock in my Squash deck. Very rarely by turn four will he have something worthwhile to put into play as a result of the Wumpus. The fact that his really good decks are Blue/Black mill and Red/White weenie probably accentuate this, so I'm sure against a suitable Big Furry Monster deck I'd get the tide turned around on me for playing the Wumpus. But it seems largely that this turn four 6/6 owns against decks with strictly small creatures.

I mentioned earlier that true "mad-dawg" pro-players make a habit of using that fancy Jitte tp get off quick kills. Luckily for me I opened what I can consider a budget Jitte, a Jitte-Lite if you will. Loxodon Warhammer! Nice! In it goes.

While I opened a bunch of really nice beatdown cards in the eighteen packs of Ninth Edition I got for Christmas, I knew I'd need some more stuff to round off the edges of a Green/Red deck. Sadly I didn't open a Green/Red painland. I did, however, get a Battlefield Forge and a Llanowar Wastes, both of which hopefully I'll be able to trade to someone for what I need.

Luckily for me I had a bunch of neat older cards sitting around gathering dust. Older cards of note that made sense to me were Hungry Mist, Kavu Titan, Darba, Hunting Moa, Quirion Dryad, and Treetop Village. All great quick drops that pack a punch if left unanswered. In the spell area I threw in 2 Blazes, 1 Firebolt (a foil, I might add), 2 Guerrilla Tactics, 2 Naturalizes, 2 Volcanic Hammers, 1 Ghitu Fire, 2 Reclaims, 1 Fires of Yavimaya, and 1 Moment's Peace for good measure. The Guerrilla Tactics I largely put in to let them explode in my brother's face when he plays his discard/mill deck (Turn 1 Hypnotic Specter, oh how I loathe you).

When my brother and I split the box of Ravnica back in October I got a Vinelasher Kudzu. He made sense right now and since he wasn't in Selesnya deck I figured I'd throw him in too. Him and the Quirion Dryad work well as turn 2 drops that can get incrementally more powerful if not dealt with quickly enough.

All said and done, my deck went like this:

creatures
3x Kird Ape
1x Mogg Sentry
1x Hungry Mist
1x Hunted Wumpus
1x Thundermare
1x Emperor Crocodile
1x Primordial Sage
1x Kavu Titan
2x Yavimaya Elder
1x Vinelasher Kudzu
4x Llanowar Elves
2x Hunting Moa
1x Darba
1x Carven Caryatid
1x Rukh Egg
1x Quirion Dryad

other spells
2x Reclaim
1x Firebolt
2x Blaze
1x Fires of Yavimaya
2x Guerrilla Tactics
2x Naturalize
2x Volcanic Hammer
1x Moment's Peace
1x Ghitu Fire
1x Loxodon Warhammer

lands
9x Mountain
12x Forest
1x Treetop Village

This deck really seems to work well, with the limited offline tested I could muster. Not that I really care how it'd fair in any other venue. Isn't that what casual's all about? Dealing with what you got?

Looking now, this deck does seem noticeably lacking in the mana-fixing area. While I do have a reliable way to get green mana with the Llanowar Elves I am relying solely on the nine mountains to provide enough red. I have considered throwing my two Birds of Paradise in this deck.

I opened my second one in a pack of Ravnica I bought for an exuberant $3.99 at Borders with a gift card. So, it looks like I now have the gratification of owning two BOPs. However, I am sure that people with four lead much more fulfilling lives.

But anyway. Those Birds were living happily in my Selesnya deck and I'd feel just somehow wrong to pull them away from all their cute saproling friends. With that in mind, I think I REALLY could use some of those slick Green/Red painlands.

Not that I'd order a playset like a pro or anything.

Read More Articles by Mark Schlosser!

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