House_of_Cards

Half mana symbol, half theme week—all Johnny.

Cooking With Gas / Electricity

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The letter W!elcome to Hybrid Week! Boy, do you ever have a lot of options when "hybrid" is your theme. My first instinct was to write a "hybrid" column, half House of Cards, half post-game recap of the latest NBA playoff game between the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs. Unfortunately for all the basketball fans out there, I scrapped the idea because it was much too depressing (my Suns lost) and because there really isn't much "colour pie" overlap between these two column types. Sad but true.

After reaching that disheartening dead end, I realized I could write about anything from hybrid cars to hybrid cards. The possibilities were endless. I could even co-write my column with a Prius just to double up on the hybridity!

Me: So, Prius, how long have you been playing Magic?
Prius: ...
Me: Do you have a favourite card in Shadowmoor?
Prius: ...

Amazing.

In the end, ever the waffler, I flipped an endlessly sided coin to make my decision for me. Hybrid cards it is! A little open-ended, but maybe there's something there I can work with. Hmm. Perhaps I could put some of these cards into decks. Wacky decks. Is this the time to finally try to do something with Djinn Illuminatus? I don't know, but everything sounds promising so far. Maybe I'll crack a few jokes along the way, just to subtly let everyone know that these decks are only to be used for silly purposes. Yes, yes. It's so crazy, it just might have worked for the last six years.

Sometimes, I just don't know how I come up with this stuff.

Mono in Stereo

As you all know, Shadowmoor brought back hybrid in a big way, with over one million new cards sporting the bisected mana symbols. By contrast, with three hybrid cards per guild, Ravnica block only gave us a little taste of the beloved mechanic. Those thirty cards were like the fried zucchini sticks to Shadowmoor's club sandwich. Then, as now, some hybrid cards were better in two-colour decks (Azorius Guildmage or Mistmeadow Witch), while others could be use in monocoloured decks of either of their two colours (Avatar of Discord or Demigod of Revenge). Then, unlike now, there weren't enough hybrid cards to make a deck without doing a lot of mana gymnastics. There weren't enough of them to, say, build monocoloured decks. With Shadowmoor, we're not just talking about hybrid cards. We're talking about a bucketload of hybrid cards! For instance, you can do silly things like this:


What, you've never wanted to play Quirion Dryad in a mono-green deck before? I know I haven't until now. Since almost every spell in the deck is red or white (as well as green), you can put +1/+1 counters on your Quirion Dryad just about any time you play a spell. Most of the spells will also trigger your Tattermunge Duos and most of the creatures will get both bonuses from Boartusk Liege. Why go mono-green, though? Blanchwood Armor! I never thought I'd play Blanchwood Armor in a deck full of red creatures, but I didn't know what I was missing. In a different deck, but along similar lines, you could use Gaea's Liege or Howl of the Night Pack. If you move outside of Standard, you could use things like Uktabi Wildcats or Beacon of Creation in decks full of red, white, blue, and black cards. Whether this particular idea is good or not, I'll leave up to you. What is important is that it's possible.

Enchanted Evening the Odds

I'll go way out on a limb and say that Shadowmoor is perhaps one of the Johnnier sets to come out in recent years. Besides all of the "colour matters" shenanigans, there's a fairly high number of standalone goofball cards for us to use and abuse. Some of them are even hybrid (thank goodness!). One of these cards is the white-blue Enchanted Evening. It turns every permanent into an enchantment, makes judges froth at the mouth (I can only assume), and transforms mild-mannered Johnnies into people who send me super-cool deck ideas. The first such email came from David S. (a.k.a. SuperSpeedy) who writes:

"I recently noticed Enchanted Evening after looking at Shadowmoor cards in Gatherer. Actually, I saw the card at the Prerelease, but nothing came to mind immediately. It wasn't until just now that I thought back to my first days of Magic and playing against a deck that used March of the Machines and Mycosynth Lattice as a sorta Armageddon + Territorial Dispute. I was like, "Wait a minute... Wasn't there a card that animated enchantments?" Lo and behold, I found Opalescence."

For those who don't know how this works, Opalescence turns every enchantment into a creature with power and toughness equal to its converted mana cost and Enchanted Evening turns everything into enchantments. This means that every permanent becomes an enchantment creature with the appropriate power and toughness. Since lands have a converted mana cost of zero, they become 0/0 creatures that immediately die to state-based effects. This means no lands for anybody.

Trying to win the game with no lands can be difficult, but there are a few things we can do. One, we can produce mana through some other means (like Gold Myr and Marble Diamond). Two, we can use something (like Glorious Anthem) to pump up the toughness of our creatures so our lands won't die went they become enchantment creatures. The cool thing is that even if you don't get both of the key enchantments in play, you can do some fun things. With just Enchanted Evening on the board, Auratog can eat any permanent to pump itself. David used Temporal Isolation to both nullify opposing creatures and give Auratog evasion (just have the Auratog eat it after blockers are declared). When everything in play is an enchantment, Seal of Cleansing becomes a two-mana Vindicate. I went ahead and added some Serra's Sanctums as well. That card is already very powerful, but how sick does it become when all of your permanents are enchantments? You can use all of that mana to make tons of Pegasus tokens with Sacred Mesa.

Good Evening


Not content to simply destroy all lands, Noel d.C. went a step further. He writes:

"As you are probably aware, Enchanted Evening is nuts. Now, Tranquility becomes KILL EVERYTHING! However, I've a better idea. Enchanted Evening + Cleansing Meditation."

(pause)

"!!!"

Once you've achieved threshold, following up your Enchanted Evening with a Cleansing Meditation gives you a one-sided pseudo-Apocalypse. As Noel says, "It's simply not fair. You get everything back in play!"

To get you to threshold, Noel used some of the black dredge cards and some discard outlets. I wanted to use green for a number of reasons, so I swapped those cards for Golgari Grave-Trolls and Peace of Mind. With Sterling Grove, Idyllic Tutor, and lots of fetchlands, you should be able to fill your graveyard just enough. If you wanted, you could even eschew Cleansing Meditation altogether in favour of Primeval Light.

Eternal Witness gives you the ability to endlessly recur your Cleansing Meditations, and if you get to that point, winning the game should be elementary. Lucent Liminid and Cantivore will do the trick, but Yavimaya Enchantress will become a monster when every permanent in play is an enchantment. Here's Noel's deck, with a few tweaks:


If They Only Had Brains

Of all the new hybrid cards, Reaper King is probably the flashiest and arguably the splashiest. It's got a little bit of everything, and all those things are pretty nifty. Scarecrows are wicked, "lords" are bodacious, five-colour legends are Atogatog-tastic, repeatable Vindicates are gnarly, and guys with rotting vegetables for brains are totally rad. The fact that he or she is also an artifact is just a bonus.

There is no shortage of things you can do with Reaper King, many of which don't involve a compost bin. Since the King is all five colours, he can "turn on" Blazethorn Scarecrow and company. That's pretty awesome, to be sure, but I really like the idea of destroying lots of permanents. You can do it the old-fashioned way, by playing Heap Dolls, Scuttlemutts, and Scrapbaskets. You can do it the really old-fashioned way by play with Scarecrow. You can also do it with a little help from our friend Genesis Chamber. Sure, Genesis Chamber produces Myr tokens, but this is Magic. We do what we want. If we want Genesis Chamber to make Scarecrow tokens, all it takes is a little Artificial Evolution (Conspiracy would also work). Now every Scarecrow that comes into play will destroy two permanents. You could also go the other way and use Artificial Evolution on Reaper King himself, changing Scarecrow to Myr. Riptide Replicator and Soul Foundry can produce a Scarecrow per turn, if you'd rather avoid the extra step of "hacking" a permanent (and Volrath's Laboratory would also work).

Here's a sample decklist, using Fabricate to tie everything together and Cloud Key as a sort of Scarecrow Banneret. The deck is certainly not definitive. As I said, there are many ways you can go here. You could try Heap Doll with Reaper King, Cloud Key, and Enduring Renewal, for example. Roar of Reclamation, dredge spells, and Reaper King could form the backbone of nice deck. Then there's the always wacky (when it's not winning Vintage tournaments) Goblin Welder.


Until next time, don't forget that all work and no play makes Johnny a dull hybrid.

Chris Millar

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