Monday, September 17, 2018

Tiana, Ship's Caretaker

I remember the impetus of my Tiana deck. When placing a preorder for Dominaria I decided to pick up a copy of the uncommon Legendary Angel Artificer in the hope that maybe it would spur me on to build a Red-White deck. The ability was interesting and narrow enough that it appealed to me.
When it comes to Commander there are few things I like more than sacrificing something for value. If you look at my decks there is always a way to turn that downside into a significant advantage. This makes it almost painfully easy to build base black decks. Branching into other colors can be a challenge. Yet I always manage to find a way to pay the ultimate price and turn that woe for my opponents. But in the Boros color combination I was never able to get it to click. Despite having a copy of Brion Stoutarm and Alesha, Who Smiles at Death in my box-o-generals, nothing ever did it for me.

One day I had some friends over to play Commander and I was in the process of building my Torgaar, Famine Incarnate deck. As I was going through my cards I started pulling weird auras that I felt might make Tiana fun. The more I pulled the more I realized something else I loved to do in Commander - force the table to read my cards and then beat them with utter jank. And so I started to gather the components for my Tiana deck.

Tiana is a value engine that turns dying Auras (and Equipment) into perpetual motion machines. The trick, as it were, is to get these elements to actually die. One reason I love enchantments in Commander is that they are a barely targeted permanent type. Artifacts draw more hate (and I decided to skimp on them for that reason) but getting Auras to hit the graveyard, well that's a challenge.

Capashen Standard does some serious work in that department, as do Flamespeaker's Will and Mortal Obstinacy. Soul Tithe is a nifty card that can tax an opponent's mana. Bound by Moonsilver also lets me bin Auras - like sat Sage's Reverie - in the hope of getting it back later. With Tiana on the board Choking Restraints becomes an incredibly expensive Swords to Plowshares but who cares because I'm beating you with draft chaff.

I decided to include a Sunforger package because I got blown out by it once. Seriously, no one ever expects throwing the hammer at someone and resolving a Settle the Wreckage. Boros Charm is in there for when I don't want my stuff to die while Oblation and Chaos Warp get the nod as ways to either save my own things or deal with problem permanents.

Tiana is one of my favorite decks to play at the moment. It's full of weird cards that don't look like much on their own. Together, however, they can create a rather impressive weapon. Or they can falter in an epic fashion. Because that's just how Auras are sometimes.

Commander

Tiana, Ship's Caretaker

Creatures
Auramancer
Boonweaver Giant
Duregar Hedge-Mage
Faith Healer
Heliod's Pilgrim
Ironclad Slayer
Kitsune Mystic
Knight of the White Orchid
Kor Spiritdancer
Mesa Enchantress
Nomad Mythmaker
Restoration Specialist
Silent Sentinel
Stonehewer Giant
Sun Titan
Umbra Mystic
Eidolon of Countless Battles
Danitha Capashen, Paragon
Sram, Senior Edificer
Valduk, Keeper of the Flame
Burnished Hart

Sorceries
Angelic Purge
Divine Reckoning
Open the Armory
Retether
Three Dreams
Winds of Rath

Instants
Boros Charm
Chaos Warp
Oblation
Path to Exile
Settle the Wreckage
Swords to Plowshares

Enchantments
Outpost Siege
Sigarda's Aid
Bound by Moonsilver
Capashen Standard
Chained to the Rocks
Choking Restraints
Darksteel Mutation
Daybreak Coronet
Ethereal Armor
Faith Unbroken
Faith's Fetters
Felidar Umbra
Flamespeaker's Will
Hobble
Hyena Umbra
Mortal Obstinacy
Sage's Reverie
Shielded by Faith
Soul Tithe
Squee's Embrace
Unquestioned Authority

Artifacts
Boros Signet
Crystal Chimes
Darksteel Plater
Helm of the Gods
Lightning Greaves
Skullclamp
Sunforger
Swiftfoot Boots
Sword of the Animist

Lands
17 Plains
9 Mountain
Battlefield Forge
Boros Garrison
Command Tower
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Kor Haven
Sacred Foundry
Serra's Sanctum
Stone Quarry
Temple of Triumph
Wind-Scarred Crag

Monday, August 20, 2018

Teneb, the Harvester of Histories

Preamble Ramble

Everyone has a history with Magic. Mine just happens to be longer than most. I started playing in fourth grade in 1994. I was 10 then and I turn 35 in December so for over 70% of my life I've slung spells. 
Almost exactly halfway through these two points I moved to Buffalo, New York for Graduate School in the summer of 2006. I shipped almost all of my possessions. One box contained the vast majority of my collection and all CDs. 

Guess which was the one box that got lost?

I had a binder of rares and a few casual decks in another box but just like that a huge part of my identity made physical was gone. I stuck with the game thanks to Pauper and Magic Online

That paid off. After Buffalo I took a job in Westchester, New York. I played more Pauper and did more writing. One year later I got an email inviting me to the first ever Community Cup. I remember a few things distinctly about the run up to the event. First, I did multiple laps around my apartment. Second, I frantically built an Elder Dragon Highlander deck out of whatever cards I had left.

My general: a Japanese Darigaaz, the Igniter that I picked up in a triple Invasion Rochester Draft at Neutral Ground helping folks prepare for the Pro Tour.

Everyone has a history. Mine gets told in cards.

One neat thing about the Community Cup that year: we all got a full set. My set was Planar Chaos.

Part I

A few weeks ago I was playing my Zirilan of the Claw deck at Commander night. Everything was going well until Daretti, Scrap Savant played Mycosynth Lattice. This should set off about a million alarm bells, but the rest of the table paid it no mind.
The Mimeoplasm them took my Hellkite Tyrant. Despite my powers of persuasion, I couldn't stop them from attacking me and causing my own personal obliteration. I wanted them to hold back - to let me go after Daretti on my turn. No dice.
Daretti untapped with Krark-Clan Ironworks and drew Spine of Ish Sah. The game was over.

I'm not salty. Not one bit.

While I never shied away from powerful things in Commander I have long kept my decks firmly in the "fun" camp. But the more I play the more I realize I have been intentionally hamstringing myself for the sake of fun, when the mere concept itself is subjective. Commander should be fun - it should create stories.

It is okay if some stories end like my night with Zirilan.

Part II






Everyone has things they like to games of Magic. I enjoy sacrificing for value (obviously). I also like breaking symmetry. Back when I was buying into fringe Modern decks I purchased a playset of Death Cloud. There was something alluring about this tribute to Pox. While the deck never materialized I held on to the cards because I liked them.

After my drubbing I started to think of ways to craft a similar game state. I wanted a way to maintain my board position while absolutely decimating that of my opponents. Mass land destruction is one such way and with the right mix of spells (and mana rocks) I would be able to tilt the balance in my favor. 

So I knew I was going to be Black and Green. On the search for a third color I thought about what the deck needed. A way to close - a way to turn my adversaries' mana woes against them. I thought back to Planar Chaos.

I grinned a wicked grin.






Teneb, the Harvester is one of those cards. You know the kind I'm talking about. They're the cards that aren't the best at what they do but you still have a fondness for. Teneb is a dragon, it reanimates things, and I have a copy tied to one of my biggest Magic memories. They just so happened to fit the bill this time around - you can't cast your threats so I'm just going to take it from your graveyard.

Part III

Putting together the decklist I realized exactly how much of my personal history was packed into this deck. The Commander came from my trip to Renton, as did the foil Birds of Paradise and the Necrotic Sliver. The Catastrophe is signed by Andrew Robinson - a keepsake from my trip to the Junior Super Series Open at Disney World in 1999. The Captain Sisay? From the same Invasion Rochester Draft that nabbed me that Darigaaz. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen came from the Zendikar Prerelease where I also opened a Hidden Treasure Volcanic Island (as well as a Goblin Guide and an Arid Mesa). Joining Ob Nixilis in prerelease power are stamped copies of Glissa, the Traitor and Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle.

Teneb may not make friends but the dragon knows its history. Jhoira's Familiar was an easy inclusion once I realized my plan was heavily built on mana rocks and Planeswalkers. A Medallion for over a third of your deck is pretty darn good. The aforementioned tag team of Glissa and Teshar is brutal as it can keep your board full despite redundant wipes. Teshar also plays well with Sun Titan which made me bias the deck towards cards that cost three mana or under. In hindsight, this deck should have Plague Boiler and Necroplasm somewhere in the 99.

What does Teneb do? Teneb ramps and then blows up the world. Then it rebuilds. Along the way, it earns some concessions.

Commander

Teneb, the Harvester

Creatures

Acidic Slime

Archon of Justice
Ashen Rider
Birds of Paradise
Deathrite Shaman
Centaur Vinecrasher
Courser of Kruphix
Desolation Angel
Necrotic Sliver
Ramunap Excavator
Sun Titan
Sylvan Caryatid
Terravore
Veteran Explorer
Wayward Swordtooth
World Breaker
World Queller
World Shaper
Captain Sisay
Glissa, the Traitor
Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle
The Gitrog Monster
Copper Myr
Gold Myr
Jhoira's Familiar
Leaden Myr
Palladium Myr
Sylvok Replica

Instants
Sylvan Reclamation

Sorceries
Catastrophe
Death Cloud
Life from the Loam
Life's Finale
Splendid Reclamation

Artifacts
Commander's Sphere
Crucible of Worlds
Darksteel Ingot
Golgari Signet
Orzhov Signet
Selesnya Signet
Sol Ring
Thran Dynamo
Unstable Obelisk
Worn Powerstone

Enchantments
Cryptolith Rite
Debtors' Knell
Deadbridge Chant
Fall of the Thran
Frontier Siege
Mirari's Wake
Pernicious Deed
Phyrexian Arena
The Eldest Reborn
The Mending of Dominaria

Planeswalkers
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Garruk Relentless
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Ob Nixilis, Reignited
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Vraska, Relic Seeker

Lands
6 Forest
4 Swamp
2 Plains
Ancient Den
Brushland
Caves of Koilos
Command Tower
Dakmor Salvage
Drifting Meadow
Drownyard Temple
Field of Ruin
Ghost Quarter
Godless Shrine
Golgari Rot Farm
Grasslands
Llanowar Wastes
Orzhov Basilica
Overgrown Tomb
Polluted Mire
Sandsteppe Citadel
Selesnya Sanctuary
Slippery Karst
Tectonic Edge
Temple Garden
Temple of Malady
Tree of Tales
Vault of Whispers
Verdant Catacombs

Part IV

I took Teneb to Commander night last week. I sat down with some familiar faces, including Tatoyva from last week. Nekrusar, Tuvasa, Tatoyva, and Teneb. I flipped an early Garruk, Relentless by fighting the Sunlit while. Tatoyva ramped and was setting up to win the game.  At some point I attempted to kick a Desolation Angel but the ramp player had the counter. Using Glissa I was able to Sylvok Replica away multiple problematic enchantment. Nekrusar renaimated a Jin Gitaxias while the other two players had Reliquary Tower on the table. 

I never ended up having to discard my hand. Tatoyva cast Praetor's Council and I managed to rip and resolve a Life's Finale. The Praetor left the table and when I targeted Tatoyva they scooped. 


So now it was a three headed game. I stuck a massive Terravore and began attacking. I don't remember what I did to prompt Nekrusar to scoop but I think it involved blowing up lands. A short while later I attacked Tuvasa for lethal. 

I quickly put the deck away. I wanted other people to have fun after all.

Conclusion

The night ended with me showing the deck off to a few more regulars. Each time when they finally realized what the deck was doing they looked uneasy. Every time, without fail - "this is so unlike you."

I guess I'm better at making friends than Teneb.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Torgaar, Salt Incarnate

Preamble Ramble

I have a few problems.


When it comes to Commander. 

First is I love building decks. Commander gives me the opportunity to flex the puzzle muscle. In Pauper, my deckbuilding exercises are constrained by the established metagame. With 100 cards I can roam free. 

The problem isn't that I build too many decks, it's that I have ways I like to play and they tend to repeat themselves. First, I am a Golgari mage at heart and nearly every one of my decks has a pretty significant graveyard theme. My mono-Blue deck: Hakim, Loreweaver. Second, I love sacrificing for value. That same mono-Blue deck? You can bet it has Barrin, Master Wizard and Claws of Gix. 

So when given Black cards I tend to push hard on these themes. It's an active effort for me to not play one way. And so when I looked at my last mono-Black deck - Yahenni, Undying Partisan - I realized it wasn't doing anything unique. Especially when I placed it next to my Elenda, the Dusk Rose and a planned Slimefoot, the Stowaway deck. 

Like the Avengers, it was disassembled.

Part I

I went undefeated at the Dominaria Prerelease. I had a sweet Black-White deck that was heavy on removal and grindy value. One of the cards in my deck was Torgaar, Famine Incarnate. While I had no intention of rebuilding a mono-Black deck, the avatar lingered on my mind. 



Torgaar spoke to a different side of sacrifice - a political side. I was attracted to its ability to not only speed up the game by reducing life totals to 20, I loved how later on in the game it could be used to help out allies by boosting their health back to 20. The interaction with Dark Prophecy is was sold me on the card.

Part II

I am a huge fan of Nether Shadows. I love cards that can bring themselves back from the dead and it was the entire theme of my Yahenni deck. When I put together Elenda, she took on this suite of cards. That left many of my undying friends off limits, as well as the package of Blood Artist, Falkenrath Noble, and Zulaport Cutthroat. 

Don't worry - Grave Pact and its friends are in here. I couldn't resist the attempt to control the board through sacrifice.

So instead of Nether Shadows I went with a token theme. I want to be able to cast Torgaar early and often and generating gobs of tokens with Pawn of Ulamog, Sifter of Skulls, Endrek Sahr, and Ogre Slumlord seems like a good way to go. All those tokens mean Skullclamp and Mortarpod (I see you Carlos) do some work. 

Wound Reflection and Temporal Extortion were in from the get go. I mean, who doesn't love an "I win" suite of cards? Archfiend of Despair was another easy inclusion once it was spoiled. Torgaar was not going to be making me any friends.

Part III

Last week I had a pretty bad play experience at my friendly local game store. I was piloting my Zirilan of the Claw Dragon deck and we were down to three players after Daretti, Scrap Savant had Mindslavered me and used Zirilan to fetch out Dragon Tyrant to take out another player. With a Mycosynth Lattice on the table Daretti convinced Mimeoplasm to come at me with their Commander impersonating Hellkite Tyrant. 

Despite my best efforts to convince Mimeoplasm to not come at me and instead let me untap with mana and kill Daretti I was not successful and lost all my cards. Daretti went on to untap and win the game.

It me.

This led to a conversation with my friend Andrew about whether or not I was leaving out win conditions from my decks. It's not that winning is the only thing that matters to me, it's just that being a new dad means I don't have a ton of time to play; a third problem. Because of the time crunch I want to make sure that when I pilot a deck I enjoy the experience, but also that I give myself a chance to win.

Part IV




Last night I was able to make it to Commander night at my friendly local game store. I found some players and we got to gaming. In the first, Tatyova, Benthid Druid overtook Crosis (me), Yidris, and Naban. 

In the second game I decided to bust out Torgaar. The other Commanders don't matter much, except that one of them was Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis.

And my opening hand had Archfiend of Despair, Swamps, Cabal Coffers, and Cabal Stronghold.

I bet you can see where this is going.

After accumulating enough mana I was able to stick Archfiend. Yidris tried to take it out with Unlicensed Disintegration but a timely Imp's Mischief meant they took six damage instead. Kynaios has to pass the turn and I slammed Torgaar, targeting the group hug. I squeezed them for 32 life points and killed them.

The mono-Red Valduk player knocked me to six and then Archfiend hit the bin. No problem. Whip of Erebos brought it back at which point at I swung for lethal at the Mountain player. Helm of Posession meant I took Yidris from Yidris and swung at them.

So I had Cascade on my spells. Solemn Simulacrum netting a Toxic Deluge for zero. Hell's Caretaker got me Demonic Tutor with four mana available.

One Temporal Extortion later and I was victorious.

Just Torgaar things.


Commander
Torgaar, Famine Incarnate

Planeswalkers
Liliana Vess

Creatures
Abhorrent Overlord
Archfiend of Despair
Artisan of Kozilek
Butcher of Malakir
Bloodsoaked Champion
Crypt Ghast
Dread Drone
Grave Titan
Gravecrawler
Gravewaker
Harvester of Souls
Hell's Caretaker
Krovikan Horror
Magus of the Coffers
Massacre Wurm
Ogre Slumlord
Ophiomancer
Overseer of the Damned
Pawn of Ulamog
Pontiff of Blight
Rakshasa Gravecaller
Reassembling Skeleton
Rune-Scarred Demon
Sengir Autocrat
Shadowborn Demon
Sifter of Skulls
Smothering Abomination
Skeletal Vampire
Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
Ghoulcaller Gisa
Krav, the Unredeemed
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Whisper, Blood Liturgist
Hangarback Walker
Solemn Simulacrum

Instants
Imp's Mischief
Silence the Believers

Sorceries
Demonic Tutor
Increasing Ambition
Life's Finale
Mutilate
Temporal Extortion
Toxic Deluge
Victimize

Artifacts
Erratic Portal
Helm of Possession
Jet Medalion
Thaumatic Compass
Unstable Obelisk
Mortarpod
Skullclamp

Enchantments
Black Market
Breeding Pit
Contamination
Dark Prophecy
Dictate of Erebos
Diabolic Servitude
Grave Pact
Shadows of the Past
Wound Reflection
Arugel's Blood Fast
Whip of Erebos

Lands
21 Swamp
Bojuka Bog
Cabal Coffers
Cabal Stronghold
Crypt of Agadeem
High Market
Memorial to Folly
Mortuary Mire
Myriad Landscape
Springjack Pasture
Temple of the False God
Terrain Generator
Westvale Abbey
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Urborg,Tomb of Yawgmoth
Volrath's Stronghold

Conclusion


I played one more game that night. This time I took out Elenda, the Dusk Rose. While I did not win (that went to Tatyova, again, with Craterhoof Behemoth, again) I saw that my decks could close. Blasting Station and Nether Shadows - that's a hell of a combination when Elenda is on the table.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Shu Yun, the Trinket Tempest

You ever have an idea that gets stuck in your head? That's what happened to me years ago when I first started getting into Commander. My friend Rob had a Blue-Red Nin the Pain Artist Trinket (that is, Artifacts that cost one mana or less) deck. It was weird and wild and I loved it. I just wish I could have added Auriok Salvagers to it...you know...for value.

Fast forward to Fate Reforged. Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest comes out and I pick up a copy (I grabbed one of every Khan from that set and to this date have only never had an Alesha deck built). I make note of how cool it would be with Trinkets and cost reduction mechanics and set it aside until Magic Origins. You see, that set had Hangarback Walker. 

You know what gets back Hangarback Walker? Auriok Salvagers. Then came Battle for Zendikar and Nettle Drone and I saw a funky, if bad, win condition. So I had plans. I put together a deck somewhat outside my comfort zone - don't worry, I still have graveyard shenanigans - but kept it largely on the shelf. I think in all of 2015, 2016, and 2017 I played the deck twice. Fast forward to 2018 and I've played it twice in the past two months and it's rapidly becoming one of my favorite decks to play. Why?

Because this guy remembered he bought a few copies of Scrap Trawler. And he picked up a Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain. And Sai, Master Thopterist got printed.

So not only can this deck durdle with the best of them, now it is an actual threat.

And in typing this up...apparently I need to find a Great Furnace...

Commander
Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest

Planeswalkers
Daretti, Scrap Savant
Tezzeret, the Seeker
Creatures
Auriok Salvagers
Goblin Welder
Herald of Kozilek
Nettle Drone
Sage of Lat-Nam
Sun Titan
Trinket Mage
Vedalken Archmage
Vedalken Engineer
Whirler Rogue
Hanna, Ship's Navigator
Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Sai, Master Thopterist
Arcbound Crusher
Etherium Sculptor
Filigree Angel
Foundry Inspector
Glassdust Hulk
Hangarback Walker
Heap Doll
Junk Diver
Myr Retriever
Phyrexian Metamorph
Scrap Trawler
Solemn Simulacrum
Walking Ballista
Instants
Cyclonic Rift
Wear//Tear
Sorceries
Fabricate
Artifacts
Aether Spellbomb
Altar of the Brood
Brittle Effigy
Codex Shredder
Chromatic Sphere
Chromatic Star
Dispeller's Capsule
Elixir of Imortality
Origin Spellbomb
Relic of Progenitus
Renegade Map
Salvaging Station
Scourglass
Scrabbling Claw
Scroll of Avacyn
Sculpting Steel
Springleaf Drum
Terrarion
Trading Post
Traveler's Amulet
Tormod's Crypt
Universal Solvent
Wanderer's Twig
Wayfarer's Bauble
Lightning Greaves
Swiftfoot Boots
Enchantments
Artificer's Intuition
Ghirapur Aether Grid
Storm the Vault
Thopter Spy Network
Lands
8 Island
3 Mountain
3 Plains
Azorius Guildgate
Boros Guildgate
Buried Ruin
Desolate Lighthouse
Flood Plain
Hallowed Fountain
Izzet Guildgate
Mystic Monastery
Sacred Foundry
Steam Vents
Swiftwater Cliffs
Temple of Elightenment
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of the False God
Temple of Triumph
Tranquil Cove
Wind-Scarred Crag
Warped Landscape
Inventors' Fair
Ancient Den
Darksteel Citadel
Seat of the Synod

I know there are cards I want to add - Jhoria's Familiar and Daring Archaeologist from Dominaria to be specific - and I'm not sure what gets cut just yet. But for now I am going to be happy just chucking Glassdust Hulks at folks.

Friday, September 15, 2017

C'est la vie; Save me

I want to talk to you about American Steel. They're a band. A Bay Area punk band. You might know a few of those.






So yeah, American Steel is a capital bee Band. But there's an excellent chance that, even if you listen to punk that you may have inadvertently avoided them. I know I missed out on their greatness for years.

I felt endless alone in grad school. There was no one source of this despair: a college ex-girlfriend in the making, entrenched anti-Semitism, and being stuck in Buffalo, New York as proudly stubborn and stubbornly prideful Brooklynite who had failed to get his driver's license.
Twice.
Living in Buffalo taught me why America is a country of roads. I had been spoiled by my ability to just walk places. Instead I was thrust into a world where my feet did not matter and my knowledge of the intricate network of the MTA was worth less than Dime Night wings. Going out to find a community was hard, but I also didn't feel safe. It wasn't that Buffalo was dangerous - I just was not in a good place and venturing into the world was not something I was ready to do.
So I let my fingers take the place of my feet and the ethernet supplanted my MetroCard. I explored the world of punk on the Internet. I uncovered a world of people who felt Outside; I found a new home. 
See, I had gone "away" to college but it wasn't really that far from where I grew up. My best friend was a year ahead of me and I knew nearly two dozen people from my childhood who were attending the same school. There was the familiarity of a reboot. I was able to seamless become who I thought I myself to be without having to examine exactly what I was.
Graduate School was different. Buffalo had its own identity that existed in dissonance to not only how I perceived myself but also to the Alex that actually was; an Alex that was intransigent. I retreated to punk because I knew it but also because of the myth of Punk Rock. I loved the story of those outside grouping together because of collective rejection by society. My companion during the work day was an internet radio station that gave me respite from the city's immune response to my intrusion. 
One day I heard this song.

I hated it. Then I heard this song.


Okay, I liked that one. Over time "Dead and Gone" grew on me. I acquired the Destroy Their Future. I devoured it almost daily. 
American Steel sounded like no other band I had ever loved. I continued digging and found their catalog. I fell head over heels. They became my favorite source of nourishment for a month, forsaking everything else on the menu. The pleasantly rare Rogue's March drew me in more than than black-and-blue self titled album. 
Jagged Thoughts, though. Oh man Jagged Thoughts.
I have seen "Maria" described as a perfect song. I am hard pressed to disagree. It is soft and inviting before pulling you in for an amazing crescendo that spikes over and over. "Maria" is lovingly layered with each instrument walking their own path, tripping over each other only to roar in unison every chorus. It is an absolute delight.

Where "Maria" coasts, "Rainy Day" soars. The song lulls you in with soft tones before cutting your heart out with absolutely gut wrenching hurt. Every time I listen to the song I can see the tattered wound where a heart once was and it sings to me. 

I have a thing for musical moments. The backstroke distortion halfway through the chorus gets me every damn time. I can listen to this song on repeat for an hour easy and always find something new to appreciate. They wrote the hell out of it - the soft layers, the atmospheric guitars, the reverb on the ending chorus - everything that makes you Feel.
When thinking about American Steel I tried to remember what kept me away at the onset. It was the vocals. They're sour. In fact everything about the band is just a bit too tart. But over time everything about American Steel stopped being offensive to my palate. I had wanted a light pilsner but American Steel are a flat out Gose. 
American Steel's catalog did some heavy lifting for my soul during one of the lowest points in my life. I could sink into "Rainy Day" and wallow in someone else's misery to distract me from my own.
A few years later I was out of Buffalo and in a much better place in my life. American Steel released Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts. The energetic opposite of "Rainy Day." It became a new blanket for a different sort of comfort.

See American Steel had gotten me through a tough time. It got me to a place where the friends I made online became my friends in real life. The community I searched for became tangible. We partied and it was good.