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Ironroot Chef: Battle Stinkdrinker Daredevil


Last week, Ironroot Chef Mike Linnemann narrowly found his first victory in Battle Raging River. This week, Chairman Nate Holt upped the ante in with the next secret ingredient: Stinkdrinker Daredevil.

This week, the bar was raised for Ironroot Chef Linnemann as a very special guest chef arrived to challenge him: Magic R&D’s own Gavin Verhey.

Gavin Verhey is a developer for Magic who has spent his time working with the game the entire life. Writing weekly articles for StarCityGames as well as creating “Overextended”—a format similar to Modern but with an earlier set starting point—with the community, he joined Wizards of the Coast in 2011 and realized his dream of working on the game.

More dangerously, it was Verhey who led the way with Chairman Holt in creating the base of the Ironroot Chef challenge for the Magic Online Community Cup. Few others “get” the competition like Verhey.

Mike Linnemann finally showed he truly is an Ironroot Chef with his victory last week over an extraordinarily talented challenger. However, he was given no quarter to rest on his laurels. Will he prove once again his theme will reign supreme?

Chairman Holt’s choice of Stinkdrinker Daredevil is a strong one, with both obvious and playful hints intertwined. Giants playing with Giants trying to keep the Goblin spirit alive: That’s what this week’s Ironroot Chef showdown is all about!

Stinkdrinker Daredevil

Challenger Gavin Verhey

Ah, it feels good to be on Ironroot Chef. After helping to put it on for the Community Cup last year, I finally get to pick up the deck-spatula myself and try cooking in this kitchen!

I hope you’ll find that there is delicious flavor here, so much so that after you bite down on this deck with that satisfying crunch, your tongue will taste many levels of cardboard cuisine.

Let’s get started looking at what I had to work with today!

Stinkdrinker Daredevil

First up is, of course, the artwork. Here, we have a Lorwyn Goblin. And aww, look—he’s getting along so well with that Lorwyn Giant.

Anyway, something I really believe is that we want to keep this deck in-world to Lorwyn—so the cards in this deck have to be things that could plausibly happen on this world. After all, Lorwyn has a very particular art style and aesthetic to it.

That means I’m going to use primarily Lorwyn and Morningtide cards—which is a huge restriction, but one I’m up for. Anything else has to plausibly be something that could happen on Lorwyn. But don’t take that to mean I’m just phoning in some Lorwyn Block Constructed deck. Oh no. This deck is like a small child from Chicago walking outside in the winter: It has layers.

If you look at the art and flavor text in concert together, you’ll notice that they tell a story of these guys constantly trying to one-up what they can take. In this case, that’s teeth.

You could even say that the four of them get up to . . . 

Boggart Shenanigans

 . . . and end up in a race of . . . 

Pulling Teeth

 . . . from four unlucky giants.

Four Stinkdrinkers. Four giants to take teeth from.

Who are our contestants on the receiving end of the teeth-stealing game? Let’s meet them in this edition of Tooth and Dare!

The first of the Stinkdrinkers will be seen—or not—by lovely giant number one!

Blind-Spot Giant

And, surely, after avoiding being Crush Underfoot, he thinks his tooth is pretty good. But the second in the group climbs up the mana curve to someone who really throws him for a loop:

Lowland Oaf

Oh, and the second Stinkdrinker is in the lead! But, not to be discouraged, the third Stinkdrinker does some Threatening and learns the hard way that Cowards can certainly cannot block Warriors:

Boldwyr Intimidator

And the third Stinkdrinker thinks he’s in pretty good shape. After all, Boldwyr Intimidator is near the top of the curve.

But Stinkdrinker number four has a bit more shenanigans up his sleeve. Braving the flame-kin dangers—elementary, really—he climbs up the cage and snags a tooth from this guy:

Hearthcage Giant

Can we confirm? No really, he does!

Zoom and enhance!

Zoom and enhance!

One more time—zoom and enhance!

Yep, looks pretty clearly like a missing tooth to me!

And considering that “boggarts strive to outdo each other with the things they bring back to the warren,” and that Hearthcage Giant is an 8-mana creature, I’d say the fourth Stinkdrinker wins the attention of the Mad Auntie.

So, we’ve climbed all the way from Lorwyn to Boggart Shenanigans and Pulling Teeth to actual missing teeth on giants. And that covers the art and flavor text pretty well.

But there’s one big thing left to look at: the name.

Now, the previous antics very clearly answer the second half of the name. But how about the first?


This boggart very clearly revels something the stinkier it is. So let’s make sure he can be at home in this environment!

Now, from Lorwyn, there are cards like Stenchskipper, Fodder Launch, and Footbottom Feast, which very clearly deal with stench. Those are auto-includes. After that, a Rotfeaster Maggot is stinky as well and could certainly be plausibly found on Lorwyn (probably hanging out with the Earwig Squad)—yum, delicious, delicious maggots.

But there’s an entirely different level of stinky. And no, I’m not talking about Grixis after a gas-storm: I mean stinky cards.

That’s right. It’s finally time to break out the top of the bottom. The kings of the scrapheap. The cream of the flop.

It’s time for Bog Hoodlums.

Bog Hoodlums

Sitting with a whopping 0.814 Gatherer Community Rating, people are clearly not big fans of the Bog Hoodlums. But finally, after all these years, the Hoodlums have their chance to shine! I almost didn’t include a fourth because it would be too powerful, but every Stinkdrinker deserves its own Hoodlums to devour that wafting, delicious scent.

Tying together the theme cohesively are plenty of cards that fit the stinky theme agenda throughout the deck. Pulling Teeth, for example? Perhaps not the best discard spell ever printed. Rotfeaster Maggot isn’t exactly a constructed all-star either, and yet, here, it wins the award for being both a stinky card and also a stinky card.

But my favorite part is, perhaps, Howltooth Hollow.

Howltooth Hollow—such a place probably doesn’t smell great. It’s also the only one of the hideaway lands to never see Constructed play, and many players would certainly consider it stinky.

And there’s one more part that makes it so great. Say it out loud . . . 

 . . . Howltooth Hollow.

It literally has tooth in the name. Talk about tying everything here together!

And that, fellow judges, is my submission. Enjoy the piece! May it taste great and leave your teeth remaining intact.

Ironroot Chef Mike Linnemann

That shifty king.

Goblins aren’t real smart. While they have six Wizards, only one card is their king. This week, I found a flavorful ingredient set forth as the Stinkdrinker Daredevil, a complex card with intricate storytelling avenues to explore. I chose one as he is a loyal servant to his king.

Goblin King
Stinkdrinker Daredevil

He isn’t just a glory-hungry goblin alone. He also isn’t just trying to impress his fellow goblins, gaining notoriety like the famous Auntie. He’s following an order from his king, you see. His mechanic is one of stealing something valuable like a tooth, but it isn’t necessarily always something so organic. He also has planned to take magical items for his king and gold in troves! He became so good at it that he trained three of his friends to do the same.

Why is he attracting giants? Well, the Goblin Diplomats tried to lure things into helping the goblin king’s agendas and schemes, but they are a bit too random, a bit too unfocused for the king’s liking. There’re only a few diplomats left, as the king is still weighing their usefulness. Their goal was to encourage folks to attack them, whipping foes into a frenzy while bringing hostile elves and humans as well. My enemy’s enemy is my friend—kind of. They might be dumb, but they’re not stupid.

Goblin Diplomats

These diplomats have been replaced by the daredevils. The main and most useful target, these little Stinkdrinkers are looking to convince to “chase them/fight for them” are giants. The goblin king put the “smartest” goblins in charge of rousing up giants, knowing full well that the goblins will be additional weapons against their enemies, most often, airborne. Lowland Oaf is the best example, seeing its mechanic. Goblin Grenade is really just a better throw, made possible by a goblin wizard watching the giants “play” with their battle implements.

Lowland Oaf
Goblin Grenade

Giants come in all shapes and sizes, but these little gobbos try to find the “dumb” ones the Goblin King demands. Little do these daredevils know that giants love to throw goblins way more than they like throwing humans or goats. Goblins are super-aerodynamic! (This also explains why this set of sixty cards has more goblins than giants! It’s harder to throw a giant!)

Occasionally, there are . . . difficulties in getting the giant to the correct location to cause maximum boom-boom damage for the goblin king. You know what stops giants? Walls. For that reason, you need the little creator on your side who knows the weak parts it the wall, the Goblin Masons. The Goblin King hired one on, just for safe measure, especially if a Hotheaded Giant is coming and a hole just needs to be made in bricks quick!

Goblin Masons
Hotheaded Giant

To give my deck a little insurance to seal wins, the Goblin King is doubling down on relying on his diplomats (often worthless) or his daredevils (occasionally useful), he engineered (ramshackled, really) a landslide to occur if a daredevil takes too long to garnish a giant’s presence. He also placed an Impending Disaster in two nearby cities where goblins no longer loyal to him are located. Deserters are always a problem, don’t you see. He hopes a giant makes his way there just as chaos is at its highest point.

Impending Disaster

Breaking from the Goblin King’s scheme, you, dear reader, may have noticed something about the art of cards chosen thus far: It’s whimsical, fun and playful.

When players complain or comment on art being too digital, or too serious, what they’re really noticing is lower number of whimsical card artworks. Since many players started in the 1990s, Phil and Kaja Foglio’s art was everywhere and often in core sets. Things like Goblin Snowman, which allows our “clever goblin king” to have someone protecting his mountain home atop the Dormant Volcano, is an art description that is beyond rare these days. Every card I chose, sans lands, which are serious by nature, reflect this playfulness. Goblins are the most logical choice, as Stinkdrinker Daredevil shows us, but giants also have a stand-up routine all their own. Giants aren’t inflating a giant toad in Goblin Balloon Brigade every day, but they do love to throw things from goblins to cows, such as on Giant's Ire.

Goblin Balloon Brigade
Goblin Snowman

Giant's Ire by Alex Horley-Orlandelli

Making giants more effective in battle is a flavorful test, but I found a perfect imitation of humor with a duo of Imposing Visages, which are classic mid-1990s Magic art.

Adding to that theme is knowing that I will be playing a red deck with Mountains. If a Goblin King wants to attack, say, mountain trolls or dwarves, you have to be unseen. Giants and goblins can make themselves scarier, sure, but sometimes, that isn’t enough. To gain the maximum effect, we need some Burrowing.

A little fun German lesson for you on the card Burrowing is that two versions exist. The foreign, black-bordered version of this card in German is called Verschanzen, which means to entrench or entrenchment. That makes sense! Then, they changed it in Sixth Edition to Wege des Maulwurfs. This means Way of the Mole or Path of the Mole. I’m all about seeing a goblin or giant digging like a mole! Nice job, German wordsmiths—that’s some on-point hilarity in flavor.

What I tried to show is that whimsy isn’t gone from Magic, we just don’t have our Foglios and Venters and more around to point to with ease. They did put a goblin clown into the game; you might just have missed it if you didn’t see the larger artwork. It will definitely help those lured giants get their “work” done, focusing a foe to a singular place, knocking that clown grin off his face.

Goblin Jester by Steve Prescott

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Giants and Goblins build and take some time to see the Goblin and Giant homeland of Mountains, Teetering Peaks, a Goblin lair in a Dormant Volcano, and the nonlegendary Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, which survives as a constant backdrop for our Goblin King’s often foiled schemes.

The Vote

Below, you can read the judges’ scoring to see how Nate and Stybs cast their ballots. However, this is your chance to score the winner of Battle Stinkdrinker Daredevil.

{six different polls, each with an end date of midnight 7/24}

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The Judging

Nate’s Judgment

Nathan Holt @walktheplanes

Nate’s the host of Walking the Planes, a documentary series about Magic: The Gathering with a healthy dose of sketch comedy (for value).

Words cannot describe how excited I am for Battle Stinkdrinker Daredevil! I've been fond of this card for years, even writing it into Walking the Planes as delivered by the one and only Christine Sprankle. Let the battle begin!

Challenger Gavin Verhey

My old collaborator, we meet again! Each of us put forth many hours into crafting the Ironroot Chef segment of the Community Cup. That work led us to where we are today: in the heat of battle and growing the legend of IRC! We cannot thank you enough for your service to this prized craft. I am very pleased you stepped into the ring!

When I first met you long ago, we were both younglings and newly contracted help for Wizards of the Coast. I asked you what your favorite card was. You answered, "Reveillark." I nearly puked in my mouth. Reveillark is one of the least flavorful cards of all time—a stupid excuse for card advantage designed by a calculator. But perhaps I was too hasty to judge you. Your brew today may be missing some teeth, but only to clear room for our palates. I'm enjoying the big, nutty, stinky flavor.

That said, I am disappointed by your self-imposed restriction to Lorwyn. Yes, the artwork and story themes are consistent and adhere to the theme. Staying in-block makes for an easy 3 for adherence, but it lacks boldness big time. As you can see, Ironroot Chef Mike Linnemann found on-theme artwork and flavor from throughout Magic's history. Your brew would've earned more points at the Community Cup, but let's be honest: The CC is like the Celebrity Jeopardy of IRC. The standards are lower because the people need to be good-looking and have some number of Twitch followers. You're facing a true master today. I expected more.

Creativity: 2

Boldness: 1

Adherence to the Theme: 3

Ironroot Chef Mike Linnemann

A wonderful tribute to some of Magic's most whimsical and fun artwork. The illustrations on every card are not only great individually, but lovingly handpicked to reinforce the theme at the same time.

Let me take a moment to praise you for the coherence of your story. Reviewing your work as an Ironroot Chef is always a pleasure, but at times a bit of a labyrinthine mental task. It is like greeting a child in the sandbox who has spent hours constructing his own world that everyone else can't quite catch up to. I mean this as both sincere compliment and constructive criticism. This week, you tell a simple story—of a Goblin King who uses his subjects as bait to draw the attention of giants for his amusement. Every part of your deck reinforces this story, which I could sum up in a sentence. Bravo. I can see that your powers are growing. You can be the creative loose cannon and/or the detail-oriented technician. You truly are an Ironroot Chef.

I never thought I'd say this to you, but I wanted just a bit more boldness. You have some nice touches though. I didn't see the land-sacrifice theme coming, and it was well-justified. And Wege des Maulwurfs? What an excellent dash of spice. Maybe I'm being picky, but I wanted just a bit more of this kind of spice. Overall, an excellent helping of flavor!

Creativity: 3

Boldness: 2

Adherence to the Theme: 3

Adam’s Judgment

Adam Styborski @the_stybs

Adam is the Content Manager for Gathering Magic. He's a casual player at heart and weekly columnist for MagicTheGathering.com. He also travels the country for Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage, and he shares his Pauper Cube everywhere.


If you’ve been reading my judgments, you already know the first things I’m going to say: Limiting yourself to a subset of Magic cards is extraordinarily risky for a potentially modest creative reward.

Lorwyn is one of the few eras of Magic I missed out on. It was beautiful and surreal, and in looking back over it, I felt it capture my attention in ways seldom seen since Fifth Edition. Your appreciation for a fanciful time of Magic is something I appreciate since you found some clever ties that pulled everything together so well.

Tooth-stealing seemed to be an epidemic on Lorwyn for the Giants, but I didn’t get much beyond that. Including a bad card because it can be called “stinky” isn’t bringing any more flavor to my tongue: It’s convincing me the deck will be less enjoyable to see and play overall.

My scoring for you reflects your ability to extract appropriate flavor from the same creative period of sets with your self-imposed limitations capping the possibilities: palatable but otherwise unexciting.

Creativity: 2

Boldness: 2

Adherence to Theme: 2


Why does Stinkdrinker Daredevil exist? It’s an existential question that seems to have an obvious answer: Goblins are thieves with a penchant for stealing what they really, really ought not to.

You tried to turn that tale on its head.

Working from the Goblin King down, you built a story that’s internally consistent, albeit at the cost of moving Stinkdrinker Daredevil from a pièce de resistance to a role-playing piece of flavor. There are always tradeoffs when transforming the typical use of an ingredient.

My scoring for you finds that the flavor was wonderfully rich for a transformative story but reflects the exceeding complexity you forces over it all—next time, let your art choices speak for themselves!

Creativity: 3

Boldness: 2

Adherence to Theme: 2

Voting closes midnight Thursday, and the first winner will be announced Friday (7/24/2015). Follow @IronrootChef on Twitter for the final score and victory announcement and to share your ideas for secret ingredients. Chairman Holt will continue to use your suggestions to challenge our chefs to the core.

And if you think you have what it takes to challenge the chefs, send an email to IronrootChef AT gmail DOT com with all of your flavorful qualifications. We’re looking for new Ironroot Chefs and competitors, and you could be the next to take a shot at impressing the judges.

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