Friday, August 23, 2013


In order to be a better writer I have to learn how to steal.
I am not going to be lifting paragraphs wholesale from the works of those who came before me and apply some make up. Viola - it's mine. No, I need to become comfortable taking ideas (with credit given, of course) and massaging them into my original work.
This won't work for all writers or everything I produce. It will do wonders for my Magic writing. And hey, better writing should mean more hits, right?
When I started writing, I was preoccupied with being original. I was the only person writing about Pauper Magic in any meaningful way so I was already unique. No, I told younger me, I needed to revolutionize the genre and do so with a severe limitation. Namely, I'm not an elite Magic player. I consider myself slightly above average (like, three hairs) but I still tried to make a splash. A lot of my earlier stuff is lost in a site redesign, but man I tried to break the mold.
You know why writers like Mike Flores, Pat Chapin, and Adrian Sullivan are behind a paywall? It's because they have changed the game and the way we understand it with their work. That is incredibly hard to do. Today, it is a greater challenge since so much discovery has already taken place. Now, it's Devil's Details. 
Once I started writing for Star City, I stopped trying to shock the world. My writing suffered. I started out restrained- I revered my work place and did not want to despoil it. With the help of my editors (all three of them), the fetters are slowly coming off. This morning, however, I realized I was still shackling myself.
My desire to be original remains and this is impeding my ability to be achieve my next level as a writer. Instead of sidestepping the great works that have come before me, I need to use them, cite them, steal from them and weave their words into my own to add strength where I am weak.
I've started work on my next article, due to go live next week. Let's see if I can listen to my own advice.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Marrow-Gnawer and Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

In my last post I talked about two games of Commander I played at the recent Star City Games Open/Invitational in Somerset, New Jersey. I decided to post those two decks. 
First up is Marrow-Gnawer. Now this deck has been updated since those games but the idea is the same. This deck wants to disrupt opponents through creatures. With cheap rats and cards like Cloudstone Curio and Erratic Portal it is fairly easy to generate card advantage. Then Pack Rat sticks, and then comes Marrow-Gnawer, and the game ends shortly thereafter.

General: Marrow-Gnawer
26 Swamp
Barren Moor
Blasted Landscape
Bojuka Bog
Cabal Coffers
Evolving Wilds
Temple of the False God
Terramorphic Expanse
Adaptive Automaton
Ascendant Evincar
Basilica Screecher
Big Game Hunter
Bone Shredder
Buthcer of Malakir
Cackling Fiend
Cadaver Imp
Carrion Feeder
Chittering Rats
Corrosive Mentor
Crypt Ghast
Crypt Rats
Diseased Vermin
Fume Spitter
Infected Vermin
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
Liliana's Specter
Merrow Bonegnawer
Mortician Beetle
Nezumi Graverobber
Ogre Slumlord
Okiba-Gang Shinobi
Pack Rat
Phyrexian Plaguelord
Pontiff of Blight
Rats of Rath
Ravenous Rats
Rotting Rats
Shirei, Shzio's Caretaker
Skirsdag High Priest
Skull Collector
Solemn Simulacrum
Stinkweed Imp
Stronghold Rats
Throat Slitter
Thrull Parasite
Typhod Rats
Undead Gladiator
Life's Finale
Grim Harvest
Grave Pact
Nihilistic Glee
Underworld Connections
Akroma's Memorial
Armillary Sphere
Citanul Flute
Cloudstone Curio
Coat of Arms
Eldrazi Monument
Erratic Portal
Expedition Map
Mimic Vat
Nevinyrral's Disk
Nihil Spellbomb
Sol Ring
Lightning Greaves
Nim Deathmantle
Ring of Xathrid
Swiftfoot Boots

Next up is my Jarad deck. This is my favorite deck and the one I win with the most. It also has a unique, self imposed limit - nothing in the deck costs more than five mana. This is because I have decided to run Dark Confidant in the deck and do not want to take huge chunks of damage. So far, this has not proved to be detrimental to the deck's ability to win. In fact, I can't recall losing with this stack, which is part of the reason I do not bust it out very often.

General: Jarad, Golgar Lich Lord
9 Forest
6 Swamp
Barren Moor
Bojuka Bog
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Golgari Guildgate
Golgari Rot Farm
Gilt-Leaf Palace
Grim Backwoods
Jund Panorama
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Overgrown Tomb
Polluted Mire
Rogue's Passage
Slippery Karst
Tainted Wood
Temple of the False God
Terramorphic Expanse
Tranquil Thicket
Treetop Village
Verdant Catacombs
Volrath's Stronghold
Big Game Hunter
Blood Artist
Bloodgift Demon
Bone Shredder
Champion of Lambholt
Coffin Queen
Corpse Connoisseur
Creakwood Liege
Dark Confidant
Deathrite Shaman
Disciple of Bolas
Disciple of Griselbrand
Eternal Witness
Falkenrath Noble
Hermit Druid
Indrik Stomphowler
Korozda Guildmage
Kessig Cagebreakers
Lotus Cobra
Mold Shambler
Oracle of Mul Daya
Phyrexian Delver
Phyrexian Plaguelord
Reassembling Skeleton
Savra, Queen of the Golgari
Scavenging Ooze
Sewer Nemesis
Solemn Simulacrum
Varloz, the Scar-Striped
Vengeful Pharaoh
Wight of Precinct Six
Yavimaya Elder
Yavimaya Granger
Demonic Tutor
Gaze of Granite
Jarad's Orders
Life from the Loam
Living Death
Grim Harvest
Awakening Zone
Grave Pact
Greater Good
Oversold Cemetary
Phyrexian Reclamation
Survival of the Fittest
Sylvan Library
Garruk Relentless
Mimic Vat
Sol Ring
Lightning Greaves
Nim Deathmantle