The Anonymous Author
Current System Configuration: I feel the tension building
–Cry for Eternity by Dragonforce
[Breakfast]: Chocolate oatmeal and ensaymada
[Lunch:] Homemade burger
[Coffee] Homebrew mocha
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. I bought this book in New York last summer, but never got to read much of it until now. I’ll post an in-depth review on it when I’m done. And yes, I’m actually READING something now! Fantastic!
For about a week I had no idea what to write. My brain was just totally flatlined, and I couldn’t figure out anything meaningful to say. Anyway, I’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so bear with the length of this post.
On Reverse Creation
I was surprised to receive an email notification of a comment on a rather old entry on my previous blog. The entry in question was about Reverse Creation, a haunting, anonymous poem that was written as a mirror image of Genesis 1. For those too lazy to click the link:
In the end, we destroyed the heaven that was called Earth. The Earth had been beautiful until our spirit moved over it and destroyed all things.
And we said…
Let there be darkness… and there was darkness. And we liked the darkness; so we called the darkness, Security. And we divided ourselves into races and religions and classes of society. And there was no morning and no evening on the seventh day before the end.
And we said…
Let there be a strong government to control us in our darkness. Let there be armies to control our bodies so that we may learn to kill one another neatly and efficiently in our darkness. And there was no evening and no morning on the sixth day before the end.
And we said…
Let there be rockets and bombs to kill faster and easier; let there be gas chambers and furnaces to be more thorough. And there was no evening and no morning on the fifth day before the end.
And we said…
Let there be drugs and other forms of escape, for there is this constant annoyance – Reality – which is disturbing our comfort. And there was no evening and no morning on the fourth day before the end.
And we said…
Let there be divisions among the nations, so that we may know who is our common enemy. And there was no evening and no morning on the third day before the end.
And finally we said…
Let us create God in our image. Let some other God compete with us. Let us say that God thinks as we think, hates as we hate, and kills as we kill. And there was no morning and no evening on the second day before the end.
On the last day, there was a great noise on the face of the Earth. Fire consumed the beautiful globe, and there was silence. The blackened Earth now rested to worship the one true God; and God saw all that we had done, and in the silence over the smoldering ruins… God wept.
One look at history and one might see where we are in this poem. But that’s besides the point.
The comments were made by a couple of anonymous people (at first I thought they were the same person, but apparently they’re not), and it seems that they stumbled upon my blog via Google, the Grand Unifier of Mankind. They were desperately begging for this poem’s author, but alas, I admitted that no one knows who truly wrote it. (We can safely conclude, however, that it was written in the latter half of the 20th century, given its references to the Cold War and other significant events therein.)
However, I did find something interesting that I hadn’t seen or noticed in my previous readings of the Bible: the prophet Jeremiah actually wrote a similar piece of verse in his book of prophecy.
23 I saw the earth, and, behold, it was waste and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I saw the mountains, and behold, they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth.
25 I saw, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the sky had fled.
26 I saw, and behold, the fruitful field was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of Yahweh, and before his fierce anger.
27 For thus says Yahweh, The whole land shall be a desolation; yet will I not make a full end.
28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and I have not repented, neither will I turn back from it.
The context of Jeremiah 4 is God’s judgment on Israel and Judah for their wickedness—but the divine retribution is so extreme that it seems the Earth itself is unmade. Quite chilling. After all, the Bible itself says that “it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)
Nevertheless, God still holds back—“Yet I will not make a full end.” While the nation of Israel gets wiped off the face of the Earth by the Assyrians and Judah gets exiled by the Babylonians some decades later, the Persian Empire does relocate the Judean exiles. (They’re scattered a second time by the Roman Empire–the current state of Israel didn’t exist until after World War II). There is at least a glimmer of hope in God’s version, punishing the wayward children that they might return.
In the more contemporary Reverse Creation poem, however, man simply goes all the way– all his foolish way– and blows himself to smithereens. God weeps over the ruined Earth in the end, and man ceases to exist. Dark and chilling, yes, but the truth is far closer to the Reverse Creation than we would like to think.
Your Black Lion
The Lichlord Cometh With Card Advantage
On to a less serious topic. I’d have written a separate post for this section, but I didn’t want the above article to get buried.
Blue/Black Control has been a commonly-used Magic deckbuild for quite a long time. There were times in which its popularity slumped, yes, but there have always been enough oppressive cards of the appropriate colors to make the decks. With the coming of Time Spiral, however, U/B players are treated to an interesting Legendary Creature: Dralnu, Lich Lord.
The “Lich” concept in Magic is not new. It has existed in contemporary fantasy for quite a while. While “lich” is an Old English word that simply means “corpse,” the term is now commonly applied to a wizard who has willingly entered a state of undeath to further his or her studies. Being undead, he or she is not susceptible to all the frailties of the flesh, and can carry on his or her arcane arts and sciences for centuries or even millennia. Of course, trading one’s soul for power always has its drawbacks, and Magic shows this quite clearly: All “Lich” cards give one a massive advantage in exchange for a massive penalty. Some of them even cause you to lose the game if you cannot meet certain conditions.
Thankfully, with our friend Dralnu, the Lich effect is somehow isolated. You have him be the Lich in your place, which prevents you from dying. Sure, he still eats up your permanents when he gets damaged, but his advantage is more useful than one might think.
Let’s go back to what U/B does best: control. Unlike control decks that use White (which tend to render things useless or blow them up entirely), U/B tends to create massive card advantage: you simply get to use more of your cards earlier than your opponent, who you cause to waste cards. Among the five colors, Blue is the master of card drawing, while Black is the master of discarding. And guess what? Dralnu’s in those colors.
But what’s the big deal? How does Dralnu contribute to CA?
He allows you to fire off a spell twice. At first glance, it seems that this is simply the equivalent of adding another copy of your spell into your deck. True enough–but the algorithm isn’t that simple.
Let’s say you have four copies of a spell in your deck. Obviously, if you get to draw them all over the course of the game, Dralnu allows you to cast each spell twice. That’s not a mere “+1 use”–it’s more correctly seen as a “double the number of times you can cast this spell” effect. The goodness does not end there.
You somehow draw four copies of this spell–all in your opening hand. At the same time, you get mana screwed (Magic‘s unpleasant but necessary balancing mechanic that practically causes one to lose if he or she does not draw the correct mana sources to cast spells), so you end up tossing most of them into the graveyard. If you have our Lich pal in play, you can actually still use the spell, which would normally be completely wasted. In essence, you can still play nonpermanent spells from your graveyard as if they were in your hand. (Dralnu has a limit, though–he needs to tap for you to use his Flashback ability)
But what about that massive drawback?
Well, you might notice that the only color that has the ability to deal damage practically at whim is Red. If your opponent is not playing red, then things are a lot easier. Also, you’re playing Blue, the master of countermagic and frustration. You’re bound to have some techniques up your sleeve that can protect Lord Dralnu. You know combat isn’t U/B’s strongpoint, so forget about using Dralnu to block.
Now, on to my deck concept. Granted it isn’t anything revolutionary or groundbreaking, but I certainly think it does the job of creating massive card advantage (and frustration) quite well.
Legacy of Madness CA Control (Legacy/Extended-legal)
|Card Name||Quantity||Type||Mana Cost||P/T|
|Dimir Guildmage||3||Creature-Human Wizard||2/2|
|Blizzard Specter||2||Snow Creature-Specter||2/3|
|Circu, Dimir Lobotomist||2||Legendary Creature-Human Wizard||2/3|
|Dralnu, Lich Lord||3||Legendary Creature-Zombie Lord||3/3|
|Consult the Necrosages||3||Sorcery||n/a|
|Glimpse the Unthinkable||2||Sorcery||n/a|
|Clutch of the Undercity||3||Instant||n/a|
|Underground Sea||4||Land-Island Swamp||n/a||n/a|
|Watery Grave||4||Land-Island Swamp||n/a||n/a|
|Duskmantle, House of Shadow||1||Land||n/a||n/a|
This deck is all about building card advantage. Your win condition is removing your opponent’s win condition. Gutting your opponent’s deck as quickly as you can will guarantee a concession or at the very least, a painfully slow beatdown with your creatures.
House Dimir’s Guildmages and Cutpurses will allow you to get an early card advantage, while added-value removal spells like Wipe Away, Sudden Death, and Clutch of the Undercity will allow your beatdown to continue unabated.
You have a few countermagic spells thrown in for emergencies: Undermine, which punishes your opponent while countering his spells; and Perplex, which can make for some painful mind games.
This deck also features utility spells such as Consult the Necrosages (which provides CA no matter how it’s used), Ancestral Vision and Lim-Dul’s Vault. Use these to get out Circu and Dralnu as fast as you can! Take note: Perplex and Clutch of the Undercity have Transmute! This means you can pitch Perplex and search for one of the many 3-cost spells in the deck. Clutch of the Undercity can also allow you to search for your 4-cost spells: you would usually choose between Circu or Lobotomy. Either way, your opponent will be in for a world of hurt if either one manages to get through. It doesn’t stop there! Even after you’ve transmuted your Perplexes and Clutches, you can still use Dralnu to cast them!
I’m sure this deck will make for lots of fun (and frustration in my opponent’s case). If you’re planning to build it, go ahead and enjoy–but feel free to make innovations of your own. 😀 (I frown on netdecking)