The Information Underflow

Back in 2008 - which seems like yesteryear but actually was over a decade ago - my ragtag Magic team Squattelhaups considered moving into Commander. Or EDH, as it was known back then. We frequented most everything casual; Block Wars, Cap Magic, 15-card Vintage, 3CB, RRD and a majority of the other unsanctioned formats we'd dug up online or in magazines. We of course also made our own formats - 93/94 and Tribelander most popular among them - and additionally things like Broken Tribal Multiplayer, Chromiumatic, FallenHomelands and RRC. But I digress. Commander was the thing on the horizon.

Move aside, 500SekLegacyFourCardComboConstructed. You were a stupid format anyway.

Now, it is hard to overstate how much Commander has grown since 2008. Even in our deep trench of casual, we knew none in Sweden that actually played it. So we set out to blaze some trails, but quickly got discouraged. 'Cause even in the days when foils like Time Stretch, Mana Reflection and Coalition Relic retailed for less than five bucks, the net was overflowing with tech. I wanted to build Zur the Enchanter, but found there were open threads on American forums discussing the best Zur builds. The possible paths were wide open in broad daylight, and no real trailblazing was to be found. So in our desperate search for casual novelties, we shortly put EDH aside to instead brew with a format where the only legal cards were green uncommons. That sucked, so back to the murky trenches of Tribelander and RRD Cube it was.

Mmmm... RRD Cube.

What's the point here, you may ask. Isn't this blag supposed to be about oldschool Magic, why am I ranting about casual formats circa 2008? My point, if I have one, is that I'm right now in a state of information underflow I haven't experienced in a format for at least eight years; back in the glory days of Squattlehaups. And with the upcoming Arvika Festival, I've not been in this kind of black box before a tournament since around the announcement of the Legacy format. I seriously have no idea of what works in 93/94 Scryings, and sometimes I get an almost overwhelming urge to learn.

Deck lists are scarce, and tournaments are still few and barely reported. What is good?

I've heard Pox is very good. The guy playing it in Oslo looked like he almost felt bad about it. He just won, and people never got to do their thing and play Magic. With additional land destruction in Choking Sands along discard spells like Stupor and Funeral Charm, it was Distress turned up to 11.

I believe Emerald Charm may be among the top3 cards in the set. I've played against CharmTwiddleVault locally in two different configurations, and the last one I played was just insane. Was it because the deck is actually tier1, or simply because I didn't know how to play against it?

I hear control is good, and that playing restricted cards in many colors is still a good way to win. Even good ol' Blue/White control may be a real deck these days.

A Deck from the Netherlands.

I've gotten messages stating that Merfolk works, from none other than noted Fish aficionado Jimmy Cooney.

Jimmy's deck from a New Jersey Scryings tournament last weekend.

A friend of mine is brewing a Land Tax control deck that can use Jester's Cap an absurd number of times via Argivian Finds and Feldon's Canes. That looks very hard to beat for any combo, control or midrange player.

I find loose pictures of strange board states and hear whispers about Buried Alive shenanigans in different constellations.

Lately, a friend I trust with these kind of things, mentioned that he might have fully broken Noble Benefactor. That bequeathing cleric could easily be one of the scariest cards in the set.

Another close friend here in Oslo asked me the other day to borrow my Illusionary Masks for the Arvika Festival in three weeks, as he has been brewing heavily with the MaskNought deck.

Is that a tier deck? It can resolve a 12/12 on turn one if the cards go right, but it is still a two-card combo where the pieces are harmless on their own, and it dies to things like Goblin Tinkerer. Unless you play a more controlling shell of course. Which shell is the best?

I've glimpsed arbitrarily big Atogs and all the life you can count thanks to Enduring Renewal shenanigans. Is it just cute, or did Fastbond and Living Plane become real contenders?

Are Berserk tempo decks with Memory Lapse and Man-o-War the real deal? River Boa do regenerate after Berserk after all, and Unstable Mutation is a card. Is the Zur's Weirding + Zuran Orb combo a too potent lockdown? What about the insane possibilities for Nether Void and Land Equilibrium with Zuran Orb and Orcish Lumberjacks in the format?

Just starting to brew can make me feel overwhelmed. I want to build everything, but I have to start somewhere.

I'm starting here.

SquattelHaups, v3.

I kinda miss the old magazines. In the era these cards first saw print, I read about the sets feverishly. It has become a second layer of nostalgia of sorts; reading articles about decks, delving into whatever tech the writer came up with, and re-read the same theory crafting until the pages tear. Maybe I should do that with the SquattleHaups deck above. Quick hits on forums doesn't really do the same thing for me, at least not before I have a baseline. It is bite-size info, a leaf without a branch or perhaps a branch without a trunk. Effortless information for the moment.

Image mock-up by Jason Kennedy.

Every Scryings list I find seems spicy, and most look to have the potential to be new contenders in the unknown meta. This seems a rare time of free exploration. It was a long time since last I looked forward to see a top8 the way I do for the upcoming Arvika Festival. Can't wait to see a bunch of you guys there.

Edit: A day after I posted this, I found a glorious break in the underflow. Now this is a report I will read and re-read until the monitor tear. Great job Paul DeSilva, and thanks for breaking the fasting.


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