In Japanese aesthetics, Shibui (alongside Shibumi and Shibusa) reference subtle, simple and unobtrusive forms of beauty. It’s a fine balance between simplicity hiding subtle detail. The thing that most attracts me to the concept of Shibui is that the balance of simplicity and complexity in a Shibui object means that one should not tire of it. One should always be able to find new meaning in such an object. These new meanings enrich the beauty of the object, which in theory allows the value of the object to grow over time with the constant fascination.
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In the last Philosophical Commander, we established the parameters of the deck that we wanted to build. We didn’t (Well, aside from mentioning Storm Seeker…) talk much about specific choices in cardboard. Let’s kick off with the obvious starting point.
The Lord of Lightning itself – Storm Seeker:
Not gonna lie – I saw Cassidy rumbling about this baby some time back and I was blown away. Green direct damage. of all things. Who expects those kinds of shenanigans? Best of all, it is easy to cast, plus at instant speed. Some smart alec tapped out and is loading up on cardboard via a Consecrated Sphinx? Exit them from the game with a Storm Seeker. Some punk just blew their load of mana on Commandeering an excessive Blue Sun’s Zenith? Let them ride the lightning.
What really attracts me to Storm Seeker and similar effects are the reactive nature of them. They allow the reactive punishment of aggressive draw strategies. They also play a synergistic role with any symmetrical draw you may run in your own deck, such as Wheel of Fortune effects that are often found in blue and red-based lists. As an example, you could eliminate a player from 40 life flat-out with a Wheel, followed with rounds of Storm Seeker iterations (6 iterations x 7 cards = 42 points of pain to the face).
While examining and crunching numbers around the different flavors of Storm Seeker, I stumbled upon two other card gems. In a similar vein to Storm Seeker, Cerebral Vortex and Molten Psyche care about your opponents’ hand size; that is to say they care about the number of cards drawn this turn that they have had to fill up their hand size. Since we’re already aiming to use Wheel effects to fill our “friends’ ” hands up to seven, these mass-draw effects also work in synergy with our draw-count killers.
Joker is Wild, Let’s Take a Chance
I was inspired to take a chance when watching the ’95/’96 scifi series Space: Above and Beyond. Anyone remember that series? It was cancelled at the end of the first season, sadly. In the show, there was one faction (the “AI”s) that had become homicidal cyborgs simply by having the phrase “take a chance” added to their programming. In Magic, there are many ways to take a chance; one of those is to fill your hand with card draw, as opposed to tutoring silver bullets to hand. A really fun way to take a chance on filling one’s hand is, of course, Fact or Fiction and the reverse – Steam Augury. I love casting these guys, as my opponents think they are being given a choice.
What is really happening is that they are telling me what they are weak against, while loading me up with a fist of toys.
When you really want to take a chance, there is nothing like classical blue shenanigans. The unpredictable nature of Mind’s Desire and Epic Experiment offer unique and constantly changing experiences with their play. These cards are almost the epitome of the Shibui style, in that you never know what you will get. Will it be a playable pile of mayhem? Will it be a fistful of dead cards? You simply don’t know until you start flipping. The other side of the coin proffers the subtle elements of the Shibui style: how do you sequence your free spells? Like Fact or Fiction, every pile is unique and thus provides a different and unique play through every game.
Forrest Gump said it well: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”.
Simon Says “Shenanigans”
One of my stated goals is to not use any direct “take an extra turn” tools. Ever since the card was printed in the original Zendikar block, I have wanted to use Cast Through Time in a deck. Cast Though Time is interesting; its rebound power makes it similar in some ways to an extra turn, but in others it is like Yawgmoth’s Will mashed with Omniscience. The value in Cast Through Time is ironically determined by the spells you cast through it, as much as by the fear instilled by the questions it asks – just how much of a world of hurt am I in for?
We’ve also touched on Wheel effects multiple times today. We have wheel effects powering our Storm Seekers, and we have wheels refilling our hands to enable casting more shenanigans, bypassing the need for a tutor. Wheel effects, however, are not just good for counting cards and reloading hands. A Wheel can be defensive against a graveyard based deck, or combined with a bounce spell, you can tuck a threat back away into the darkness of a deck. Combined with an untap effect, one might cast Time Spiral or also manage to cast Turnabout, and thus reload and keep digging to achieve a kill. The beauty about untap spells and Wheel spells is that there is no guarantee of hitting the jackpot; however, through play skill and correct sequencing, a competent player can maximise the odds of hitting a sequence of cards that can do some damage.
Damage that you have to play well to earn.
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Today we’ve talked about the core elements of my Riku deck. Next time I’ll be unveiling the final secrets of the list and talk more on the specific details. Until next time, stay chill.