Serra’s Cheap Shot.

Our hero is unimpressed by new printings of Serra Angel.

Our hero is unimpressed by new printings of Serra Angel.

That’s a card I’d like to see Wizards of the Coast make. There a re a lot of cards they have printed with the word “Serra” on it, often things like Serra’s Blessing, Serra’s Embrace, and of course, Serra Angel. But no “Serra’s Cheap Shot,” which would be an awesome card, I think.

Amidst the other business of life and school, my Magic: The Gathering tournament on campus is finally into its Direct elimination Bracket. As of Monday, Thunderdome Rules apply to the competitors…that is to say “Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves!” Best two out of three, loser of the set is eliminated. Simple, pure, and already into the table of four players.

There is only one thing that renders it complex. I am in the tournament, as the top ranked player…but cannot win it. This has resulted in a “spoiler bracket” of losers that have been functionally “wild carded” by taking a loss to me. Nothing like a good, needlessly complex game element to completely contradict the “simple and pure” concept of just a paragraph ago, right? The Wild Card effect only takes hold in the table of four and higher, and as a result, has already taken hold.

So…what’s the art about? Glad you asked. In the table of eight, the young player I was set against had an entirely Angel driven deck, which of course had four of the game’s “Serra Angels” in it. The Serra Angel is one of the best cards of early releases, hard to deal with, and had been in print so many times that the art has changed more than once. In fact there are easily seventeen printings of the card, with at least four different card art types over time, speaking to the card and creature’s popularity. In panel one, the Serra Angel’s armor is a simplified version of the current card printing, which is pretty much what i see on the table in play at school.

In fact, I saw it in play in the table of eight, with the Angel deck. My own tournament deck’s “burn mechanic” made short work of that deck, but in the next round, I once again saw Core 2014 printing Serras on the table with another student’s “life gain” driven deck. Ironically, I managed to prevail using cards that were primarily printed at the same time as the first run of Serra Angel…Fireball, Lightning Bolt, and the much venerated Shivan Dragon. What those cards lack in the versatility that Serra brings to the table, they gain in sheer Smackdown Power.

The tournament is fun. With a decent amount of outside of school stress, and the pressure of both a grading report due soon and the need to solidify the scheduling matrix for next year, it is an excellent way to de-stress during lunch. For half an hour, I’m just another one of the players, and get to spend some time of real quality with some excellent young people. As pleasant as this new school has been, it would be a whole lot less pleasant without that.

At this point, there are now announcements in homeroom about the tournament, and the Bracket progress, as if it were a sports event, which is pretty hilarious. One of the players is in my class, and it’s pretty cool to watch his eyes light up when the announcements, made by our very serious Vice Principal, happen. Hearing a Very Serious Adult discus Thunderdome Rules, and then compare the merits of deck design and player strategies from the prior day is pretty excellent. Apparently, the players are pushing for first Official Club Status, and then looking into the paperwork to get a Varsity Letter in Magic: The Gathering.

That’s pretty cool.

Still…to beat this Alien American, they’d best bring more than just Serra Angels to the table. Believe that, True Believers.

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