March 04, 2011

Bird is the word


I think that this is the first time I've illustrated a specific deck's key interaction (also the first time I've used a dip pen in a while, if anyone out there is interested in how I make this sausage). That deck is of course the Stoneforge Mystic/Squadron Hawk/swords blend that propelled so many to the top in Paris including Ben Stark for the win then shortly thereafter helped Gerry Thompson nab the cup at SCG DC. Some call the deck "Caw-Blade," and I've also heard "Angry Birds." Whatever the name, this is one sublime pile of cardboard.

Back when M11 was new someone from Wizards (possibly Aaron Forsythe) asked the community via Twitter to name their favorite card from the set. Without hesitation I repsonded with Squadron Hawk. I therefore demand credit for all of the card's recent success. I kid, but there is truth in my love for the birds.

Squadron Hawks

This deck has great appeal beyond the usual pack of control freaks. Aside from just being good it makes great use of two lovable mechanics: tutoring and equipment. Who doesn't like flipping through the library to find just the right card for the job? Who doesn't like turning mice into monsters with reusable gadgets? Soulless monsters, that's who.

If you are a devotee of the Hawks then you should most definitely order up Justin Treadway's excellent S.H. team shirt.


  1. Mr. Looter sir, your art always cheers me up, I really enjoy this stuff and so glad to see some awesome talent.

  2. I see the two different swords and the basilisk collar. What's the one up top carrying?

  3. Nice work. That's pretty good. I like it.

    I say you add your "Inkwell Looter" sig to the bottom right corner of the red/tan image, cut the green background, and put it on a t-shirt!(maybe a green shirt)

    A friend bought us a couple Squadron Hawks shirts from Justin for Christmas this past year, and having this one to add to the collection would be tight.

    Rock on,


  4. Caw-Blade and Angry Birds are related but different decks, like Andrew Cuneo's Cuneo Blue and Randy Beuhler's Draw-Go back in the day.

    Caw-Blade is the deck that Team Fireball played with excellent results at PT Paris. Caw-Blade was a direct evolution of Brian Kibler's Worlds deck called Caw-Go, almost simply swapping in Stoneforge Mystics for the Spreading Seas. There were other small changes.

    Angry Birds is the deck that Gerry Thompson designed for & played at the SCG Open - DC, specifically to beat the post-Paris metagame defined by the previous success of Caw-Blade and Boros. It begins with the same powerful interactions of Hawk/Mystic with counters and Jace, but crucially adds on the "mirror"-suppressing Cunning Sparkmage and his favorite pants the Basilisk Collar.

  5. Here's a pauper (all commons) Caw-Blade-ish list I've been playing in MTGO. It went from Caw-Blade to decadent over-tutoring. It's not bad, though it might be more fun than good. Not for the faint of heart:

    4 Squadron Hawk
    4 Mulldrifter
    4 Counterspell
    4 Brainstorm
    3 Trinket Mage
    3 Mystical Teachings
    2 Soul Manipulation
    2 Agony Warp
    1 Sylvok Lifestaff
    1 Bonesplitter
    1 Pestermite
    1 Muddle the Mixture
    1 Echoing Decay
    1 Grim Harvest
    1 Doom Blade
    1 Diabolic Edict
    1 Capsize
    8 Island
    4 Swamp
    1 Plains
    2 Seat of the Synod
    2 Vault of Whispers
    1 Ancient Den
    4 Terramorphic Expanse
    1 Evolving Wilds
    3 Esper Panorama

    4 Hydroblast
    3 Duress
    2 Doom Blade
    2 Echoing Decay
    2 Vedalken Outlander
    1 Echoing Truth
    1 Relic of Progenitus