Friday, July 19, 2013

Nerd Night: Squirrely Wrath

This is a photo of my actual dice.  I did in fact knit the dice bag myself.

Welcome to my first installment of Nerd Night!  The first installment is always kind of a special one, so I thought I would start at the beginning of my own personal nerddom- Magic: The Gathering.  If you have absolutely no idea what it is, this website will tell you the basic premise.  Rest assured, I want to keep this blog at least 80% beauty-related but I can't deny who I am so a nerdy post like this will surface every now and then.

When I was still in middle school my big brother came home from college with several boxes full of these weird cards with gorgeous artwork on them.  He got tired of me sorting through his collection so he told me to either learn how to play or get outta his room.  So I learned how to play!  I'll admit I suck at strategy games, but for some reason MTG just clicked with me, and I soon had my own growing library of cards that I would use to make decks to play against the boys at the lunch table in high school.

Caboodles Train Case
And you thought I was joking about storing my decks 
in a Caboodles makeup train case. HA!
Caboodles Train Case
This is actually a great deck case:
It holds 6 decks and has space for dice, counters, tokens, proxy paper, spare card sleeves, and a pen.

I've had several decks over the years, but there's one that is very near and dear to my heart- Squirrely Wrath.  For those of you who are MTG players, I know what you're thinking: "Infinite combo? Lame." To which I say SQUIRRELS!!!  I rest my case. 

Keep in mind I haven't really seriously played since Time Spiral (2006) and the last edition I'm even remotely familiar with is Shards of Alara (2008).  Yeah, its been a while.  I say this because this deck was legal under the Vintage rules as of the last time I actually played outside of a friend's living room.  Things may have changed since then, and there may be better cards suited to this deck that have come out since then, but this is how it currently stands. Here's the decklist.

Basic Lands, Dual Lands, & Sac Lands
2 Plains
3 Forest
3 Swamp
4 Flooded Strand
4 Windswept Heath
2 Savannah
2 Bayou
1 Scrubland

Main Mechanism:
4 Squirrel Nest
4 Earthcraft
2 Altar of Dementia
1 Blasting Station

4 Xantid Swarm
4 Birds of Paradise

4 Duress
1 Balance

4 Academy Rector
4 Cabal Therapy
2 Night's Whisper
2 Mirri's Guile
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor

3 Powder Keg
3 Rule of Law
3 Swords to Plowshares
3 Ground Seal
3 Seal of Cleansing

The whole basis of any Squirrel deck is 2 cards:
     Squirrel Nest: Enchanted land has "Tap: put a 1/1 green squirrel creature token into play
     Earthcraft: Tap an untapped creature you control; untap target basic land  
These 2 cards make an infinate loop. Tap the land that Squirrel Nest is enchanting and a squirrel pops out. Use Earthcraft to tap the squirrel and untap that Squirrel Nest-enchanted land. Tap the land to get a squirrel, tap the squirrel to untap the land. etc etc etc. On the next turn, when all the Squirrels are over their summoning sickness, attack with them all.  Cutest death evar.

There are a few things that make my Squirrel deck different from other Squirrel decks.  First, I didn't want to leave myself stuck with just the one strategy of attacking with a million squirrels.  Its not only short-sighted but also boring.  So I added 2 alternative kill mechanisms: 
     Altar of Dementia: Sacrifice a creature: target player puts a number of cards equal to that
     creature's power from the top of their library into his or her graveyard
Tap Squirrel Nest to get a squirrel. Use Earthcraft to tap the squirrel and untap the land. Sacrifice the squirrel to make your opponent take the top card of their deck and put it in their 'discard' pile. Keep doing this until they don't have any more cards in their deck. When its their turn, they lose because they don't have any cards to draw.
     Blasting Station: Tap, sacrifice a creature: Blasting Station deals 1 damage to target
     creature or player.  Whenever a creature comes into play, you may untap Blasting Station.
Tap Squirrel Nest to get a squirrel. Use Earthcraft to tap the squirrel and untap the land. Tap Blasting Station and sacrifice your squirrel. Blasting Station deals 1 damage to your opponent. Tap Squirrel Nest to get a squirrel.  That squirrel coming into play untaps Blasting Station, readying it for another shot. 

Now my 3 options are to swarm my opponent with infinite squirrels, deck my opponent, or my personal favorite- shoot them to death with a squirrel-gun. :D

Squirrel Nest, Earthcraft, Altar of Dementia, Blasting Station
Behold the Squirrely Wrath!
The Xantid Swarm and the Birds of Paradise serve dual functions- they're extra creatures I can work with or distract with, and their abilities like mana generation and spell protection are quite nice.  I used to have the old artwork for Birds of Paradise but I happen to like the newer picture better.  

For defense I have the good ole' Duress and Balance.  I don't care who you are, those cards can really screw you over.

Duress, Balance, Birds of Paradise, Xantid Swarm
Duress, Balance, Birds of Paradise, Xantid Swarm
The whole point of the infinite combo (regardless of which one your deck is built around) is to get your key cards out into play and to do so quickly.  The best way to do that is by using Tutors (Demonic, Enlightened, Vampiric, and other cards that do sorta the same thing).  However, most of the good Tutors require either Black or White mana, so I had to adjust my land base accordingly.  

Along the same lines of the Tutors, I added the Sac Lands to go in search of the land I need to do the stuff I need to do.  A bonus is if I don't see what I want after using Mirri's Guile, I can use a Sac-Land to shuffle the deck and try again.

Tutors & Searchers
Tutors & Searchers
I have a few little accessories and details that pimp up the deck a bit. I got some squirrel token cards I from an online shop and I've put them in these fancy green foil sleeves so I can find them if I accidentally shuffle them in with the rest of the deck.  I played with Photoshop and turned a picture I found online by Travis Smith into a token that represents 1,000,000 1/1 Green Squirrel Creature Tokens.  Because I can.

My Cabal Therapies are all signed by Ron Spencer, the guy that did the artwork on the card!  Eventually I'd like to get 10 Unglued squirrel tokens, 2 foiled Unhinged Swamps, and a foiled Unhinged Plains.  I think at that point I will be satisfied with the Pimp level of my deck.  As it stands its pretty freakin' sweet by collector's standards.  

Squirrel Tokens
Squirrel Tokens
Side note: I did meet Mr. Spencer many years ago when he came to my local card shop for a day.  I got a photo taken with him and some prints of his work and such.  But my pride and joy is the custom artwork he did for me on a Cabal Therapy Stylist and Promo Terror.  Check 'em out!

Ron Spencer at The Battle Zone
Mr. Spencer & I, many moons ago at my local card shop.
Custom Artwork by Ron Spencer
Cabal Therapy autographed with custom artwork by Ron Spencer
Promotional Terror autographed with custom artwork by Ron Spencer
Back in the days that I regularly played Vintage tournaments, I was known as The Squirrel Girl.  People would construct their sideboards with specifically me and my squirrels in mind.  I never won a Vintage tournament but I did give those boys a run for their money and I got a few foil promo cards for my trouble.

There is no such thing as a fool-proof, invincible deck.  Squirrely Wrath's primary weaknesses are enchantment hate, copious amounts of counter-spells, and extinction.  But for the most part my friends agree- its a cute, bitch of a deck to go up against. 

So that's my signature MTG deck!  Rats, Gobbos, and Artifacts have that same kind of multi-mini-minion flavor to them, but nothing is as cute and horrifying as a mob of fluffy squirrels wildly scampering towards you while screeching and chattering for your doom... or a squirrel-gun to the face.

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