I’m not going to say this is going to become a regular feature, but it really could, because Friendship is Tragic is the name I’m giving to articles about how me and Vinyl Scratch make terrible choices and shouldn’t be allowed to be friends. And I feel like there is probably a wealth of articles in that. Both of us enjoy going really deep with horrible deck concepts and encouraging the other to do the same. It’s been described by many observers as a trainwreck. That’s also how we describe it. We know what we’re about.
Today, we’re looking at a trainwreck we’re committed to:
First, some background. In every set, there is a card that haunts me. In Premiere, it was Charged Up. I have like five playsets of Charged Up, because I just open it all the time. I would complain about how many Charged Up I had, buy a pack, and there would be a Charged Up, waiting to mock me.
In Canterlot Nights, it’s Noted Speaker. I’d buy two boxes of CN and get two Noted Speakers. I picked a random ultra-rare for prize support at a tournament and got Noted Speaker. It’s fine when it’s the first time, but once you have five and still somehow have never pulled a Bulk Biceps, it’s hard to not start resenting her and her weirdo face.
And, of course, Noted Speaker is a fairly underwhelming card. She’s not useless, but there are so many better cards at three-cost, three-power in Purple (Ursa Vanquisher, Spring Forward, and Mare in the Moon, all much better cards to run than Noted Speaker) that it’s hard to feel excited about her. And you don’t want to just throw Noted Speaker into a deck; you really need to build the deck around her to make sure she’s good, and the cards that enable her often aren’t that good either. So I had a wealth of Noted Speakers and had never done anything with them, other than glare at them with resentment in my very soul.
And then this happened:
So yeah, I had to play a Noted Speaker deck to get the Brian Kibler playmat, which I’d forgotten at the store after some pickup games, back from Vinyl’s evil clutches. As an additional handicap, entirely self-imposed, I was also using a mane character of my own devising: Gendry, my favorite minor character from Game of Thrones that I want to make out with (favorite minor character I don’t want to make out with: that sassy Tyrell grandmother who makes fun of everyone). Vinyl did not make her own Flufflepuff mane to play with because she claimed it would be “too broken,” which to me just shows she is not dedicated to making a truly awful card and suffering through playing it. But I am that dedicated, and here is the fruit of my labors:
First things first: this card should be Orange. It might actually be kind of decent in Orange. Still not great (the flip condition is really a pain), but probably not worse than Steadfast Farm Pony. But I’d already made it in Blue by the time I realized this, and I was way too lazy to make it again, so it’s Blue, and it’s really quite terrible. The flip condition has no synergy with Blue, although playing Two Bits for free once he flips would be pretty sweet. I don’t play Two Bits in my deck, of course, because my deck is literal garbage, but if I did, that would be actually useful. Also Train Tracks. If you could flip him in a frighten deck, he wouldn’t be the worst. But he’s mostly the worst. Sorry, Gendry.
Also the card looked like it was a normal size on my laptop, but when I went to print it out, it came out roughly the size of an iPad mini. I couldn’t figure out why this had happened and I didn’t want to waste a bunch of ink trying to fix it, so I just went with it. This card is gigantic, it is ridiculous, and it is awful. Never play this card. Unless you’re into hot blacksmiths, which I am.
And so Vinyl and I met on the field of battle. I believe our decklists for this first bought have been lost to the ages, which is for the best, as they were both abominations. She was in three colors–I want to say Purple, White, and Yellow?–and was playing various of the “shipping fanfic” ponies, which is what we call the off-color mane six friend cards around here. I was in Blue/Purple and playing both Spikes. I also had four Noted Speakers in my deck (I loaned the fifth to Vinyl so she’d have a playset). This put me at something of a disadvantage, because the more Noted Speakers you have in your deck, the worse they are, but I guess she saved me from playing all five.
We both had alternate win conditions for this day. I wanted to get out Spike: Baby Dragon wearing both a Chic Beret and Funny Glasses; Vinyl wanted to get a fully boosted shipping fanfic pony. We both succeeded in these goals, but failed on a much more profound and meaningful level.
Since then, we’ve both been revising our Noted Speaker decks. Her goal was to make hers a good deck; mine was to make my deck less bad while still playing my blacksmith mane. I think we both got there, but also continue to fail on a more profound and meaningful level. Still, here are the decks.
[Mane: Gendry, pictured above; Twilight Sparkle: Research Student is really a fourth Twilight Sparkle: Noted Speaker]
So, this deck is focused around getting Noted Speaker in Showdowns while she’s at low power and then popping a Vision of the Future or Assault Cake for a crushing victory. It’s cute and a lot of fun when it works, but it doesn’t do it very often and once it’s done that, that’s pretty much it.
Part of it is speed. It takes forever to get going. You can see that this deck has six entry cards for Purple, three Lady Justice and three Magic of Adventure. It only has three friends total–Lady Justice, Spike: Assistant Librarian, and Twilight Sparkle: Noted Speaker. So if you have, say, a Magic of Adventure and a Spike, you still haven’t actually fixed any of your colors. Speaking of which, you know what’s awful? Your Pink fixing in this deck. It’s just Funny Glasses! And you have to exhaust Funny Glasses to play any of pink cards, so you need to have one friend with Funny Glasses and another without to get anything going. This deck is a disaster.
Of course, if it was playing a real mane who wasn’t awful, it wouldn’t be running either Funny Glasses or Chic Beret. Well, maybe Chic Beret, but it’d probably rather just have actual friends. But it dreams of someday flipping its mane so he gets hotter, so it’s on the resource plan.
(Did you notice it’s literally impossible to play Vision of the Future except during Showdowns? Yeah, that’s where we’re at.)
Anyway. The thing is (as we’ll get into more with Vinyl’s deck, because Vinyl has grown fond of Noted Speaker, I assume due to Stockholm Syndrome), Noted Speaker can be a very powerful card. Something like Spike, which lets you keep looking on the bottom of the deck, lets you keep pumping her, and getting out multiples of her really can be quite powerful. I’m still not convinced there’s any tier-one deck that’s interested in playing her, because you need so many slots to really make her worthwhile, but she’s not the actual worst. I can say this with certainty because my first Noted Speaker deck ran Spike: Baby Dragon.
Anyway, I haven’t actually revised my deck since the second revision, except for making its problem deck less terrible (I couldn’t find any of my low-bonus problems, so it was running Monitor Everything and Wrapping Up Winter and was miserable about it), so I’m going to make a few changes for the next time Vinyl and I throw down.
3x Biff! Pow! –> 3x Ten. Seconds. Flat
The Fake Cadence/Biff! Pow! Trick is cute, and not bad with a big Noted Speaker, but it’s a lot of slots for something I could almost never get going. Ten Seconds Flat, on the other hand, is also real cute with Noted Speaker, and probably better. Airlifting in a Lady Justice also isn’t terrible. It’s certainly no worse than anything else the deck was doing, and I don’t have to flip my mane to use it, which is great.
3x Fake Cadence –> 3x Two Bits
Two Bits is the best thing this mane can possibly do. Let’s stop fighting this.
2x Changeling Infiltrator –> 2x Lead Pony Badge
I wanted to use CI to recur my Showdowns, but it never actually happened. And this deck has a ton of things that exhaust, and the mane actually combos with this, so let’s be smart and get some free Lead Pony Badges out. It’s like this is a real deck (it’s not at all like that).
3x Vision of the Future –> 3x Lily: Panicked Pony
Lily doesn’t actually fix any of our Pink on her own, but that’s okay, because literally anything is an improvement on our previous pink fixing. Also, we can sack a giant Noted Speaker to make Lily super giant, which sounds fun. And she’s a two-cost friend we can play with no requirement. I don’t know why I switched to the royal we for this explanation.
3x Double Check the Checklist –> 3x Zecora: Everfree Guru
I’ve had Zecora in this deck on and off and find that I miss her when I don’t have her. DCtC does fine work, but you’re looking at the top of your deck and want to draw it enough that Zecora is useful. It’s also actually weirdly nice to have more low power cards in the deck, so it’s easier to manipulate the Showdowns with all of our dumb tricks.
So, here’s the new deck. I should probably also drop the Crash Courses from the problem deck and go up to two of both It’s Alive and Ancient Research, but then I’d have to find more copies of those, and I’m pretty lazy. I will try this version next time I fight Vinyl and probably won’t report back, because this deck does not need a primer, given it is both illegal and terrible. But whatever! Let’s move on.
So we can see Vinyl has some of the same cards at work, but her deck is generally better, because it runs more real cards. This is a good decision on her part. She’s got the Assault Cake/Spike trick going if she wants (fixing into it with It’s Elementary, which is 9000% better than fixing into it with Funny Glasses), and she has the showdowns, but she’s also got Fancy Pants. Having a bunch of showdowns with Fancy Pants to get him pumped and then having a Faceoff with a Noted Speaker or two for muscle is really not a bad place to be. Without Element of Magic, you aren’t going to gain AP off of In Your Dreams, but you’re not going to lose it and you can free-draw the top card of your deck, which is a nice bit of manipulation, especially for when you have, say, another Noted Speaker on top.
I think Monstrous Manual/NMM is mainly in here because Vinyl Scratch really loves playing Nightmare Moon. She was kind of sad when DJ mane came out and it became good, because everyone started doing it all the time. She is a Nightmare Moon hipster. She was milling people to death for no reason before it was cool.
Let’s see, what else. Stand Still! and Back Where You Began are always nice for randomly being a jerk, and bringing them back with Eff Stop is a fun time. And you can use Eff Stop for the Showdown events too. She put in Element of Honesty ironically, and says she wouldn’t mind dropping it for another Fancy Pants of Eff Stop. She also wouldn’t mind dropping Eff Stop for Rarity: Truly Outrageous, so she should really make up her mind about this stuff already. I like Eff Stop. She should keep Eff Stop, but two is probably enough. Oh, and Chrysalis is in there because she likes Chrysalis and just got one, but she thinks she might rather have a Changeling Infiltrator.
That kind of got away from me. Anyway! What’s nice about this deck is that it’s got more than just Noted Speaker going for it. Noted Speaker works pretty well in the deck; you’ve got various ways to play around with the top card of the deck, and she’ll usually be able to single-confront an opponent’s problem, which is pretty powerful. But there’s also a hint of control in there, and some alternate win conditions with Fancy Pants and Showdowns. Vinyl does want it noted that she is keeping the deck down by not playing optimal cards like RTO, and that’s probably true. She also wants Noted Speaker to appear in more competitive decks, which I am not convinced she is right about. Again, the number of times when I want to play Noted Speaker over Ursa Vanquisher are pretty much limited to “when I am playing this specific deck which I made for a ludicrous battle over a forgotten playmat.” But I’ll admit that she has more utility than I thought, and that if you can get her out second turn with a fixer event, she’s a very strong early game card in the right deck, and keeps being strong if you can keep up your bizarro control of your own top card. But it’s a lot of work for a questionable amount of payoff.
In any case, I hope you’ve enjoyed the first installment of Friendship Is Tragic, and that you’ve learned something; namely, that Vinyl and I should not be friends. Remember, if you’re going up against one of us, it’s dangerous to go alone. Take this: