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CardShark Content - Matthew Smith (12/16/2001)

The sounds of joy slide out of the speakers as Abercrombie and Fitch demand that the Christmas season be introduced with style. The tiny stand that sells roasted almonds is cleverly located adjacent to Santa’s line, and the smell of chocolate and cinnamon wafts through the air, forcing everyone to stop and buy the wares.

Santa is sitting in his chair, a distinct fellow, with long white hair and a vest of emerald green. A lengthy gold chain draped from his satin white undershirt holds a watch, and his velvety red pants are crumpled from the children he has seen today. He is in his casual attire, the fireplace behind him and the digital photo shop strategically placed in front. He’s probably talked with over a thousand expectant children today—but now it’s my turn.

Okay, it’s not my turn but it is my sons’ and this is the chance I’ve been waiting for. All day long my wife has dragged us through the store, the boys and I, with, “Here try this on” and, “I want to go back to that store we were at five minutes ago; I think I saw this same sweater a bit cheaper.” It is, by all means, excruciating work to see Santa.

Let me, for the moment back up a bit.

It is Thanksgiving Day and every year it is ritual that my entire family huddles around the television in the dining room and watches the Lions game. I have always rooted for the home team through thick and thin. After half time, I work my way to the kitchen for another slice of pie and the question is brought up on what people would like for Christmas. Every year, around the same time, that god-awful question comes up. What would you like for Christmas? Sweat beads down the side of my brow as the gears start turning in my head. How much do I want to spend on the person asking me this question?

I once received a toaster that I really did not need. It was nice, as far as toasters go, but I had a functioning toaster already. So I put the toaster down in the basement, box and all, and never opened it. A full year went by and Christmas came around. I had waited last minute to buy my gifts (like I always do) and could not find anything for my Grandfather. It just so happened as I was downstairs looking for some wrapping paper, that I stumbled across that toaster. I brushed the covering of dust off the top and the gears started turning again. Grandpa could use a toaster. I mean, hell, I think he could still eat toast.

Christmas Day my wife sends me out to the car to get the gifts. I bring in the bag and the opening commences. When it comes around to my Grandfather’s turn, my wife realizes with horror that I had simply put some wrapping on the old toaster. Grampa opened the gift, looked at it for a minute with a glint of recognition in his eye, and then cocked his head and looked at me. “Thanks, I’ve been wanting one of these.” was all he said. Of course my wife told me later that it was he who had given us the toaster last Christmas.

Christmas would be so much easier if people would just buy gifts for themselves. Why bother spending loads of money for gifts that go unused? Christmas Spirit
Spirit
SpiritSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
? Bah…Humbug.

Still…I really had no idea what I wanted for Christmas. What, with all buying and receiving a full month away, who would? Then one day between then and now I realized it was time to start thinking about what I wanted.

Anything that is digital will work for starters, I thought. Then I remembered my article over at Prime…scratch that, I need magic cards! What to get the Magic player who has everything? Time to make a Christmas list for my stocking.

Matt’s Christmas List

1. Call of the Herd
Call of the Herd
Call of the HerdSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
231
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Put a 3/3 green Elephant creature token into play. Flashback 3G (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)


Why? Well this card has certainly become hard to get. What, with nearly every deck using green in standard, and a large portion of decks in extended squeezing these pile-driving pachyderms in, it’s no wonder this card is at the top of my list.

2. Urza
Urza
UrzaSet: Vanguard
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
7
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Power:
-1
Toughness:
+10
Text:
3: Urza deals one damage to target creature or player.
’s Rage

This card is the rage over at MOTL, and understandably so. Red and green, the colors of Christmas, are coincidentally at the top of my list. Ho, ho, ho.

3. Morphling
Morphling
MorphlingSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Shapeshifter
Rarity:
R
Number:
85
Artist:
rk post
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
U: Untap Morphling.U: Morphling gains flying until end of turn.U: Morphling cannot be the target of spells or abilities until end of turn.1: Morphling gets +1/-1 until end of turn.1: Morphling gets -1/+1 until end of turn.


I know, I know, you’re thinking I went off the Type Two path and now I’m nuts because I didn’t have Black Lotus
Black Lotus
Black LotusSet: Oversize Cards
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Adds 3 mana of any single color of your choice to your mana pool, then is discarded. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.
as my #1 card. The truth is I am lucky enough to own the power nine in duplicates—and do not think I did not have to sell my soul to get them, but far be it from me to burden Santa with an expensive cardboard wish. I think he could manage to fill my stocking with this extended goodness.

4. Dual Lands

Any and all! Because if loving dual land is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. Anyone who regularly reads my stuff over at Prime knows that I have a love affair with Type One that borders fetish. Unfortunately I had to trade my dual lands to obtain the aforementioned P9, this has led to many lonely nights and color deprived decks. It’s okay I’m seeing a counselor.

5. Beta Counterspell
Counterspell
CounterspellSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Counters target spell as it is being cast.


This card never goes out of style, especially if it’s beta. Not only do I deny my opponent his/her spell—I deny it with style. Nothing says old school like Beta goodness from the oven.

6. Mishra
Mishra
MishraSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
3
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Power:
+0
Toughness:
-3
Text:
Double all damage dealt by creatures you control.
’s Workshop

That’s right, not the factory, but the workshop indeed. What’s this do? Well for the cost of merely twisting this card sideways you are instantly bestowed three mana which can be used to cast artifacts into your mana pool. Even Mr. Hanky can appreciate this deal.

7. The Lord of The Rings

Okay, let’s stop fooling around and call a spade a spade. This has nothing to do with Magic at all, but who doesn’t want to see this movie? Probably would have made to the top of my list but I’m taking this wish into my own hands.

8. Undermine
Undermine
UndermineSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
282
Artist:
Massimilano Frezzato
Text:
Counter target spell. Its controller loses 3 life.
/Absorb
Absorb
AbsorbSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
226
Artist:
Andrew Goldhawk
Text:
Counter target spell. You gain 3 life.


Not as good as they once were, but these still find a place in my heart. In fact, I present a Haiku as an ode to what I call “America’s counterspells”: reasonable in casting cost, still taking out the nastiness in every which way

9. Spiritmonger
Spiritmonger
SpiritmongerSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
121
Artist:
Glen Angus
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
Whenever Spiritmonger deals damage to a creature, put a +1/+1 counter on Spiritmonger. B: Regenerate Spiritmonger. G: Spiritmonger becomes the color of your choice until end of turn.


Happy Hanukkah! Spin the Dreidel! This guy is good! Not as good as his big brother Morphling
Morphling
MorphlingSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Shapeshifter
Rarity:
R
Number:
85
Artist:
rk post
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
U: Untap Morphling.U: Morphling gains flying until end of turn.U: Morphling cannot be the target of spells or abilities until end of turn.1: Morphling gets +1/-1 until end of turn.1: Morphling gets -1/+1 until end of turn.
, but he’s good nevertheless. Part beast, part machine, this effectively puts the smack down on everything in the standard format. I’ve got mine, but who couldn’t use more?

10. Birds of Paradise
Birds of Paradise
Birds of ParadiseSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Mana Birds
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Power:
0
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. This ability is played as an interrupt.


When I think of paradise, birds are not in the picture. But if a bird happened to be in the picture it had better darn well twist/bow/spin/tap for any color I want.

So back to the mall and as I said before, it is packed. Waiting in lines is okay if you paid for it (like an amusement park or a buffet) although I cannot justify waiting in a line for over an hour to see a fake Santa. I realize that he is still a messenger and I’ll just have to wait it out.

And so I wait. I watch people as they make their purchases and I wonder about their lives. Why is that person at the shoe store? Are those two brothers? What was that old woman’s life like? Does Christmas even matter to that poor guy by the fountain? Is that man with his son divorced? I look at these people and I start thinking about possessions and Christmas. Does your stuff own you? How would you feel if someone stole your entire collection of Magic cards?

Now, I know that the spirit of Christmas has nothing to do with the gifts, but if I had to point to the television or the newspapers I couldn’t prove that. It’s so easy to fall into the mundane Christmas chores of buying and receiving that we forget what Christmas really means—but what exactly is that?

Well…it means put the cards down for a day. At that moment I turned to watch my son tell Santa that he wanted presents for Christmas and I caught it with my camera. At that moment I knew what I wanted from Santa and I didn’t need a list.

I looked over at Santa and whispered, “I’ll take care of it this year.”

“Thanks,” he replied, “Have a candy cane.”

So on December 25th Magic takes a back seat to life. I plan on spending the day with my family. I can’t make a legitimate Christmas list when Christmas is just another day of dreary life for so many other people.

I know I can’t change that, but I can do something to help. I am planning on taking my extra box of Magic cards to the Salvation Army. I know it’s not much, but hopefully it will bring someone else joy on a day of giving.

Merry Christmas.

Viva,
Matthew Smith


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