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Ironroot Chef: Battle Warp World


Worldly travelers duking it out with a World Championship looming? That’s exactly what brought Ironroot Chef Ant Tessitore his latest competitor, the indomitable Adrienne Reynolds and her Stocking Tiger.

What did the world-class flavor chefs have to fight about this week?


Warping Worlds was the goal of every player battling in Seattle this week, but finding the world around Warp World would matter even more for our two chef. Whose cuisine will reign supreme? It’s time to find out.

Warp World

This is Battle Warp World.

Challenger Adrienne Reynolds

I’m so happy that there is a venue for Vorthosian engagement with flavor that I didn’t think twice when asked if I would be willing to participate in Ironroot Chef—but from the very beginning, it was obvious that my passionate feelings about creating decks that make sense were leading the Ironroot team down a slightly warped reality. I was offered choices of chefs to test myself against, but I’ve had prior experiences with the gentlemen whose names were listed, and I wanted to explore and share the unknown so I wouldn’t make guesses based on prior knowledge or cater to tastes in dialogue with theirs. I asked for and received my esteemed rival Ant Tesselore (who always has to be translated from the Ant Tesseract nomenclature my brain has sorted him into).

The rules as told to me were relatively simple—a sixty-card deck based on a secret ingredient. And with great joy, ours was announced as Warp World.

Here is the thing: I try to become better at expertise and competitive Magic not because I want to be the best, but because I love playing with random effects, and I want to be good enough so that when I use them, I’m doing it intentionally, on purpose, and strategically. Warp World is particularly the kind of thing I love. There is no way for me to lose this contest—there is only the idea that perhaps someone will have even more fun than I will, in which case, he or she just wins more.

If you’re wondering who I am, I am an anthropologist who is doing a long-term cultural study of the many different cultural actors in Magic and how they exchange and interact with Organized Play, but before that, I did some art reviews for Avacyn Restored that spoke of my first impressions of the cards. And then I laid out some formal critique as it came up. Frequently, my impressions involved pop-culture references—we carry our cultural responses and influences with us when we interact with the cards and each other. Warp World is no different—I still had a first impression: Here is one woman’s first impression of Warp World.

Warp World

First impression: The woman in this picture has some serious back muscles and intense skills, and the picture shows a reality that is not structurally different from the one she is manipulating—it is close, but changed. Any change is going to be the one she instigated, and she felt strongly enough about instigating it that she was going to change every damn thing about it.

She is burning it down so completely that no one will even notice he or she was in the fire. People think they might still be running things, but after she is done—win or lose—they are doing it in the world she shaped for them to act in. It’s red in a way we don’t often see red: so deeply committed that they are taking large actions with risk but that are not truly random.

Who runs the world? She does—for as long as she sees fit until she needs to warp it again.

Who would cast a spell like this—not in a deck, but in real life? What would make a mage look around and say, “Nothing gets to stand; I don’t accept your reality,” and then bring back the pieces of that reality in a very particular new order, a mockery of the plans she is upsetting while still calculatedly dismantling them simultaneously? There is only one red mage we’ve met that disciplined and that witty:

Jaya Ballard, Task Mage

I have always read the first activation on Jaya as, “Goodbye, Jace.” While something like Warp World seems tempting to combine many random effects, the reality is Jaya is much closer to the heart of red that I reside in—everything is fuel, work needs to get done, things in the way should get clear, and we are not afraid to burn ourselves to get haters gone. We do it right, and we can take the heat. Jaya is a working mage—she doesn’t have time for all that Planeswalker angst and signature moves—but she does have a zest for life and piercing wit. She doesn’t mind sharing her mode of reality with people who are willing to walk through the fire. See that control she has in that portrait? Does it look familiar even if you never saw her before?

Exquisite Firecraft

There’s a reason that Chandra ends up studying on Regatha: Regatha had Jaya for long enough to learn stuff. Jaya is a fantastic friend and an eminently pragmatic magic-user who respects those who took a more academic or elite path, but she made her own way through with her own style. My brain wouldn’t let her go. Warp World is a Ravnica card, but the spell is a Jaya-feeling spell, one she may have cast while Jace was there thinking he was in charge while oppressing the Golgari political activist Vraska and insulting her by thinking of her actions as “hired gun” rather than rebel vigilante, undermining Emmara by screwing around with her brain. I can see Jaya having no patience for that nonsense—making him watch while she undoes everything around him when with help from her actual friends—and I can see her doing it in karaoke because, when she visited this plane, she found out all about karaoke and Planeswalkers, and there is no way in hell that Jaya doesn’t love some of Beyonce’s catalogue.

And I don’t doubt for a minute that Beyonce would love Jaya—so, immediately, I could only think of the somatic components of the spell to undue Jace’s world view as a collaboration between Beyonce, Jaya, and Jaya’s bringing together a band of bad-ass women to power up some Warp the World—

Because it’s their worlds to warp, red style.

So here are the rules to play in Jaya’s Run the World Beyoncé Tribute deck: It has to match a lyric, it has to be something that fits Jaya’s use of red, and it has to reference women either through artwork or flavor text unless specifically matching a lyric talking about men. They shift reality.

Jaya, like Beyoncé, wants to inspire young girls through role-modeling—Beyoncé has an all-woman band called the Sugar Mamas, and Jaya hangs out with an all-Angel band and hires goblins as roadies.

Who Run the World? – Girls!

"Run the World (Girls)"

Girls, we run this motha (yeah!) [×4]

Jaya Ballard, Task Mage



Who run the world? Girls! [×4]

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight

Who run this motha? Girls! [×4]

[Verse 1:]

Some of them men think they freak this like we do


But no they don't

Splinter Twin

Make your check come at they neck,


Disrespect us no they won't

Boy don't even try to touch this

Boy this beat is crazy

This is how they made me

From Regatha baby

Abbot of Keral Keep

This goes out to all my girls

Burning-Tree Emissary
Sparkmage Apprentice

Inner-Flame Acolyte

That's in the club rocking the latest

Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later

Seller of Songbirds

I think I need a barber

None of these wizards can fade me

Admonition Angel

I'm so good with this,

I remind you I'm so hood with this

Boy I'm just playing

Come here baby,

Zealous Conscripts

Hope you still like me

Elspeth, Sun's Champion

F— you pay me

Archangel of Tithes

My persuasion can build a nation

Aurelia, the Warleader
Assemble the Legion

Endless power, with our love we can devour

Aurelia's Fury

You'll do anything for me

Act of Treason


Who run the world? Girls! [×4]

Who run this motha? Girls! [×4]

Who run the world? Girls! [×4]

[Verse 2:]

It's hot up in here

DJ don't be scared to run this, run this back

I'm reppin' for the girls who taking over the world

Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh

Help me raise a glass for the college grads

41 rollin' to let you know what time it is, check

You can't hold me (you can't hold me)

I work my 9 to 5, better cut my check

Thopter Engineer

This goes out to all the women getting it in,

You're on your grind

To other men that respect what I do

Young Pyromancer
Krenko, Mob Boss

Please accept my shine

Ash Zealot

Boy I know you love it

How we're smart enough to make these millions

Strong enough to bear the children

Pia and Kiran Nalaar

Then get back to business

Rise of the Hobgoblins

See, you better not play me

Oh, come here baby

Angel of Serenity

Hope you still like me

Linvala, Keeper of Silence

F— you hate me


My persuasion can build a nation

Endless power

Warp World

With our love we can devour

You'll do anything for me


Who run the world? Girls! [×4]

Who run this motha? Girls! [×4]

Crucible of Worlds

Who run the world? Girls! [×4]

Boros Garrison
Clifftop Retreat

Who are we? What we run? The world (who run this motha, yeah)

Mana Confluence
Goblin Warrens

Who are we? What we run? The world (who run this motha, yeah)

Temple of Triumph
Hellion Crucible

Who are we? What do we run? We run the world! (who run this motha, yeah)

Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Cavern of Souls

Who are we? What we run? We run the world

Fire-Lit Thicket
Rugged Prairie

Sacred Foundry

Who run the world? Girls

Ironroot Chef Ant Tessitore

Warp World is one of those rare ingredients that, like the spice saffron, can completely take over your dish if used incorrectly. The trick is figuring out a theme that will easily meld with the narrative being crafted by the spell itself.

As a spell, Warp World is a reset button. You are delving into the chaotic side of red mana in order to drastically alter the battlefield for both you and your opponents. Lacking any flavor text to work with, I decided to embrace my inner Artist and see if there were any hidden narratives lurking within Ron Spencer’s beautiful piece.

Looking at this art made me immediately think of one of my favorite movie trilogies: Back to the Future. At one point in the second film, Doc and Marty return to 1985, only to find that Biff has used a stolen sports almanac's knowledge for financial gain, causing an alternate present that resulted in Biff turning Courthouse Square into a twenty-seven-story casino. For both Doc and Marty, this drastic alteration of a known location must have felt as if Biff had cast Warp World over the town itself. I wanted to build a deck that would capture a similar feeling.

Original image found here

As I researched different methods to complete my objective, I realized that we just experienced a very similar story on the plane of Tarkir. Sarkhan Vol traveled back in time and altered events that caused a new present, effectively warping the world into something different. I decided I would try to capture this pivotal moment in Magic’s storyline in my Warp World deck.

When you play this deck, you take on the role of Sarkhan himself, raveling Tarkir desperately searching for a way to restore its former glory. In your mind, the clan-dominated Tarkir is akin to Biff’s casino paradise, and all you want to do is bring back the dragons. I wanted to make sure that I captured this narrative via the actual gameplay. When you cast Warp World, I wanted you, the player, to feel like a completely different deck had been brought onto the battlefield.

In order to accomplish this, I included ten multicolored Dragons (including the five Dragonlords) with two Dragons per brood. I also included absolutely no way to cast them. This is a mono-red deck with twenty basic Mountains.

As you play with this deck, you will summon hordes of Goblins and Mardu Arc Mages. You will manifest Ugin’s morph magics and raid the Jeskai Academy. When you finally take a gamble and cast Warp World, that act will represent Sarkhan making a crucial change in Tarkir’s past. You will immediately be thrust into a new timeline complete with the Dragons that you could only dream of prior to its casting. This setup ensures that whoever plays this Warp World deck will experience Sarkhan’s narrative and move from a world lacking no Dragons into a world ruled by them.

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 Warp World.

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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).

The purpose of the World Championship is to determine who is the best Magic player in the world. Owen Turtenwald, Alex Hayne, Yuuya Watanabe . . . who will stand on top of the world looking down on the rest of us? The purpose of #BattleWarpWorld is to determine who can stand on top of the world and then turn it upside down and inside out. Vorthoses always go next level.

Challenger Adrienne Reynolds

Damn, girl. You took a spicy red card and then drenched it in sriracha, Tabasco, and XXX Valentino. This deck is nuclear.

Very cool jumping off point. For all the chaos that results from a warped world, the figure we see in Warp World's art is full of agency and power. The world may be falling apart, but she's above it calling the shots—so pretty much exactly like Beyoncé in the video. But seeing as that Beyoncé doesn't have her own Magic card (yet), you chose to honor her kindred spirit, Jaya Ballard.

Like that core creativity, your boldness is off the charts. The cards all symbolize song lyrics and Jaya's girls' destruction of worlds? That's ridiculous. There are so many gems here. My favorite is Archangel of Tithes—"f*ck you; pay me."

You did a good job adhering to your own theme, so I'm giving you points for that. But about Warp World's theme—what's up with all these instants and sorceries? Warp World is all about permanents. Do you want anything left for yourself after you burn the world down? Or are you in full YOLO-f*ck-everything-Jaya-doesn't-give-a-sh*t-she's-unpredictable mode? Hmmm . . . I think I just answered my own question.

Creativity: 3

Boldness: 3

Adherence to the theme: 2

Ironroot Chef Ant Tessitore

I never thought I'd see a Warp World deck with such a tight execution of flavor. I'm kind of blown away. Most of the time, Warp World creates a chaotic new battlefield that looks like a bizarro-hot-mess version of the previous battlefield. What you've done, through clever restrictions on your mana, is to ensure that when the world is warped, it will look completely different. Telling the story of Tarkir's time-warping trippiness just brings my whole appreciation of that block's flavor to another level.

While your creative premise is amazing, I would hope for a little more boldness from a Warp World deck. The execution of the world-warping is . . . clean. I'm used to IRC Ant putting a little twist in my cocktail. I feel that's missing here. And if there's any card that wants a crazy twist beyond the overall theme, it's Warp World.

That said, your adherence to theme is spot on here. Most IRC decks would, quite frankly, be a nightmare to play with. But this deck, oh man. I instantly imagined building it and resolving Warp World against my friends in our South Philly playgroup. The look and feel of that world being warped would impress any flavor-lover, and it is grokkable enough to open the eyes of even hardened Spikes to the appeal of flavor-Magic.

Creativity: 3

Boldness: 1

Adherence to the theme: 3

Stybs’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.

Challenger Adrienne Reynolds

I award a slow clap for delivering the most obvious, yet unexplored trope to weave into Gathering Magic’s run of Ironroot Chef: music. Latching on to the penchant for Jaya Ballard to simply make the world what she wanted it to be (namely on fire) and adding an anthem to amp up the excitement, your deck became the lyrical rundown for us all.

I admired the remix into Magic of Beyoncé, I found the connecting threads to Warp World to wind up thin. There’s so much depth and emotion at work it’s hard to ignore the power of what you put together. I just wish Warp World were a larger piece of the final product.

Creativity: 2

Boldness: 3

Adherence to the theme: 1

Ironroot Chef Ant Tessitore

Warp World as a description for Back to the Future felt a bit loose, but your execution on it bore fruit. While casting Warp World is intentional, unlike the ripple of unintentional time in the movie, the result of a new reality almost entirely unlike the one you started with was admirable.

However, I don’t feel Warp World lends itself to time travel as much as you’d like it to, particularly considering there are plenty of time-based effects that could play to time in other ways (like Final Fortunethere’s a card to try someday). Going deep on Dragons with no other way to appear than a Warp World was nice, but their final presentation left me scratching my head searching for the flavor I wanted to find here.

Creativity: 2

Boldness: 2

Adherence to the theme: 1



Voting closes midnight Thursday, and the first winner will be announced Friday (8/28/2015). 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.

The Battle for Zendikar is coming. Order singles, booster packs and more at CoolStuffInc.com today!

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