Convalescence

The sentimentalist, the romantic, the poet
They are all dead, they wandered into streams, their pockets laden with smooth stones
They leapt in front of the locomotive, they stood atop the tallest building,
Waiting for someone to cry out from below
In the silence, in that brief moment of clarity as they stepped towards the edge,
They felt more alive than they ever had and grimly smiled to themselves
As the irony drizzled over their pallet and the pavement rose up to meet them

For this is not their world
This is no place for open hearts or well chosen words
This is a land of the bold, brazen and arrogant
Deceit is a way of life and the others wear the mask so well
Yet it falls from my face, exposing a soft smile and kind eyes
ripe and ready for the other’s knives

So I’ll remain here, clinging to the gaps in the concrete
On all fours, with my fingers bloody and raw, forced in
And gripping to the only solid thing that I know
As she stands over me and whispers in that sickly sweet tone
Words which have never comforted any man, drenched in sugar as they may be

I’m by the river, collecting pebbles and looking down as it trickles past
Without moving my lips I scream a silent tribute to the ones who went before
As another brick breaks across my back and my skin shatters
Twist the knife, I’ll grab the hilt of this metaphor and look into your opalescent eyes as my heart ruptures

Wash your hands in this river as I drift along

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MTG Deck Feature: Soldiers

Colours: White
Theme: Soldier creatures
Category: Weenie rush
Win condition: Overwhelming assault from buffed creatures
Deck list:

Creatures

4x Champion Of The Parish
4x Soul Warden
4x Ballyrush Banneret
4x Adaptive Automaton
4x Crusader Of Odric
4x Field Marshal
4x Preeminent Captain
4x Veteran Armorsmith
4x Captain Of The Watch
(36)

Spells

2x Brave The Elements
4x Honor Of The Pure
(6)

Lands

18x Plains
(18)

This was the first deck which I thoroughly planned after my return to playing Magic in October 2011. The initial intent behind this was to use Preeminent Captain to “cheat out” Captain Of The Watch and her tokens as part of a 4th turn charge. This 4th turn attack is meant to be the killing blow on an already bewildered foe. This strategy, of attacking with Preeminent Captain and 3 or 4 other soldiers to win in turn 4, is fairly solid. That is to say that if I have drawn Preeminent Captain and Captain Of The Watch the deck will usually win.
Soldiers has evolved slowly and gradually over the past 18 months with newer cards such as Crusader Of Odric slipping in and replacing Veteran Armorsmith among others. I’ve played it against a wide variety of decks and assessed the strength and weakness of it. Against any other type of creature based deck except for Elf tribal, Soldiers ransack and run riot. The attacks in turn 2 and 3 usually clear out the early threats and blockers, especially if Field Marshal is imbuing all with First Strike. Attacking in turn 4 usually sees four 5/4 or higher First Strikes shrieking in, only for a Captain Of The Watch or Crusader of Odric to join the fray at the last moment. Players who survive the turn 4 attack tend to ask “what life are you on”, to which I reply “well, because of the Soul Warden…” and then ask how many creatures I can attack with in the next combat, which is usually 9 or 10. They then scoop. Tricksy decks such as those based around Izzet Staticaster and Guttersnipe tend to have the upper hand over this particular weenie rush deck as momentum is key to Soldiers and taking out a buffing lord can ensure survival after I’ve emptied my hand, by which time the board position has been lost and victory is impossible.

This is the first in a series of articles discussing Magic The Gathering Modern decks.
Any discussion and feedback is encouraged.

The Art Of The Liberal

This is something that only the feline appreciate
How far do we go to set out, throwdown
Everytime I die I see the yellow tint
An eye that bleeds only for silver
Raw and tender to the touch of
Time on scarves, wrapped tight
On the fist of your father
Feelings churn, it’s over, the hope
The pain of generations lost
How many times do we throw down the anchor
Everytime I appreciate your palm on my face
Lies of another man feed on us
Inside your yellow eyes you choke
Before I scream I touch your ear, it’s cold
Empirical, yet our nation falls, our body
Rise, it’s a phallic symbol
And now the yellow, and silver, is all that remains
Lies

Fail

Empires, funeral pyres
Both fall under flames
This ends, begins
Once more, it’s the same
We die, I cry
Break rhythm, this is contrived
A smile creeps over your beak
Heat on the skin as It cracks
Under the weight of the seed prodigy
A leaf on my back nicks the skin
Peace, land and bread, no hallucinogens
This is straight edge, timber plank
We cry and the glass shatters
A mirror that reflects in negative tones
We’re in this desire, a stream
Flanking left and right before the Madonna
Dark veil of the convent, coven, draped across
The altar, consummated, priest outraged
Revolutions flames burn only where there
Is not fire, a life lost over the
Heart’s of fifteen men, a family erased
The hand of God, the body of parliament
The child of industry, the destitute family
Strings pulled, they all fail
For all’s quiet on your front
Heroine needles and small children
Mislead in the heat of a lamb’s passion
A countryside hill and your family, Bolshevism
It’s all over now, you fail

We Wake Now

I feel secure in your shadow now
Isn’t this how it’s always been?
A frail world collapses, we knew this
Pride, like hope, is merely an illusion

Choking, retching
Choke the wretch
I’m all out of prayers now
Kneeling never got me anywhere
Is it odd or sinister that
As a man awaits execution
He assumes the same position
As one asking for holy aid
Our Lord the executioner
We wake now

Mankind’s obstacle in this century
Is to come to terms with the
Knowledge that God is dead
Or no longer cares, either way
We are alone in this universe

Kill this representation of hope
Slice the symbol of our struggle
Worship everybody, worship nobody
Take control of your life, strong man

When metaphors are meaningless
There truly is nothing left

Platinum

Lyrics to Platinum, performed twice live by The Fall Of Science but not recorded

Your capricious schemes shall fail

You’re pushing mediocrity with a lust I’ve never seen
I know I might be wrong but I’ll never be one

To be, a captive to trends
Or know the fascination in another’s moves

I know it’s never looked so good
To be ignorant and capitalist

And if I’ve learnt something in all my years
It’s that passion is worth its weight in platinum

Transparency is everything to me
I’m crystal clear and you can see my love

My blood, my heart
My metaphors are better for it

I know it’s never looked so good
To be ignorant and capitalist

And sitting here I remember when you told me,
In so many words, it’s imperative to show what you stand for

The roads we travel down, these journeys are so cold,
Without a friend to share the weight
Without a friend to bear the load

A Bloodmoon’s Zenith

‘Lieutenant, we must discuss Hanan’, there was a tremor in the king’s voice.
Fergus knew that this wasn’t going to be a casual conversation. No talk of Hanan was ever casual, an island of such infamy that many folk dared not mention it, unless absolutely necessary. Evidently the king had found it necessary to call one of his commander’s to his personal chambers and to disturb an otherwise enchanted evening. Hanan, the volcanic island, was a haven for pirates and criminals, where decadence and corruption reigned. Fergus had heard it said that in the slums of Koros, capital of Hanan and seat of the Triumvirate, one could acquire any item, whether through purchase or pilfering. Koros was the final destination for many of the world’s greatest treasures, cities had been sacked, societies wiped out for their wonders. The Gold Tree of the Phlanos Empire had been transplanted to the palace grounds of Koros, a grim ghost of itself. The once iridescent foliage rotten and withered, a decaying monument to a grim conquest and an elegy to one of the first empires.
To rule over a land of such depravity and hedonism necessitated a strong standing army, martial law and a severe judicial system kept the population just within the check of agreed Hananian norms. However, many a murder would occur without so much of a batting of a legionnaires eyelid and pub closing time would often see the streets of Kauston painted thick with claret. Fergus had heard that the mantra of the legion was “no riots, no resistance”, they tended not to concern themselves with policing such trivial disputes as murders and gang skirmishes. The island had been ruled by pirate captains, self styled mayors, gang bosses and guilds for centuries until the three minks took control of the city. In the course of a day and a night every captain, kingpin, mayor or objector was slain by the guild of the Four Shadows. The event was known as the Reckoning and it’s anniversary is celebrated raucously in Koros, from fear and respect.
Three young mink emerged from the Reckoning, noteworthy for the parts that they played. Wernin, who had been merely an initiate in the guild, was solely credited with slaying Hajal-Keld of the Green Tongues and his honour guard, thus securing the coal quarter of Koros.
Kjarno Riktooth, who had been unknown prior to the Reckoning made his name at the battle for Kauston barracks. The barracks had historically been held by the Southern Military junta, a kind of unofficial army who controlled and manipulated all trade in the south of Hanan. Kjarno, a guildbrother of no fixed distinction, defied his chapter master’s planned subterfuge. The young mink slit his master’s throat in the night and urged his guild into a direct assault on the garrison. Wave after wave of brothers died against the gates and high walls, yet Kjarno led every assault, urging his comrades on, crossbow bolts thudding deep into his broad shoulders as he roared. Eventually the walls fell, Kjarno had sacrificed hundreds of his brothers in open assault, yet this was not how his part was remembered. His brothers were victorious, the militia were killed or inducted and all who survived the day would tell of a powerful mink with a huge battleaxe standing knee deep in blood and roaring for the cause as he suffered wound after wound and the dead piled up at his feet. A movement needs a banner and he became it.
Granos, for his part, was no berserker, no slaughterer. He was a diplomat and a shrewd politician. He consulted with the self elected governors and mayors of Koros, Kauston and Naur Province. Some were happy to pledge their support to the Four Shadows, once they learnt of the guild’s growing power, others took more persuading. Granos learnt that everybody has a price, whether that price is five hundred coins or their infant child’s life. He became known as Granos The Treacherous and then, several abductions and assassinations later, as Granos The Valiant.
The Slaughterer, The Berserker and The Valiant. Fergus shuddered at the thought of them. Yet here he was, with his king. Lennox played with the hem of his tunic idly, it had been some time since King Braus had spoken and his commanding officer had been standing silently, staring into middle distance. This was a surprisingly frequent occurrence so Lennox didn’t mind.
“Peace time is, as always, desperately short and psychologically demanding. It is now two years since the battle of Black Creek”
Fergus needn’t be reminded of the battle of Black Creek, no creature on Brausinia did. The last attack on Brausinia, two years ago, had been driven back at a bitter cost. The Hananian minks had sent waves upon waves of marten warriors, almost three thousand of them. Fergus had lost a brother at Black Creek, Lennox had lost an eye. Such ferocious and regular assaults were common practice for the armies of Hanan so it made little sense that there had been no news of marten troops for two years. Such bitter peace was both welcome and unnerving for Braus. His fur was showing unseasonal signs of whiting, his teeth seemed to be yellower and more prominent by the week; the king was tiring.