A Magic: the Gathering blog by and for the janky combo casual players alienated in a world of netdecking millionaires.

I value inexpensive (kinda) decks outside of the meta because I am cheap and easily bored.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Magic: The Mathering - Drafting Dragon's Maze

Dragons Maze Drafting - DGM, GTC, RTR

Hello, hello!

Yesterday I took part in friendly 8 player draft of Dragon's Maze. I won in style with a trio of 2-0 victories and the deck didn't break a sweat. Here are my thoughts and speculations on the drafting of this varied and interesting set along with my thinking around why I took the cards I did.

I ended up with a regular old boring boros zerg rush deck and because every game was against an opponent with 3 colours and a mana curve that didn't average south of 2.5 like mine did I was well placed sweeping to three very quick victories. 

The temptation is, with all the guildgate and cluestones and keyrunes and hybrid mana costs to pick a guild and splash a third colour and really that's what I should have done if my gatecrash packs weren't so amazingly good.

Boros is still powerful and in a slower format, as a I believe DGM is, speed will win you a lot of games. I think Azorious and Rakdos have potential too. But Boros is probably the best of both worlds. Where Azorious can be too passive and get zerg rushed before answers arrive and Rakdos can suffer from a lack of blockers and be too one dimensional, ripe for sideboarding against. Boros is the middle ground, controlled aggression, with life gain if you need it.

Pack one - Dragon's Maze

Going into the game I wanted force Borhzdos (pronounced borz-dos) (or red white black if you prefer) I had success with Boros previously and the extort ability seemed powerful in what would likely be a very slow format. That said I wouldn't object to Azorious and Rakdos if the cards fell that way. So with that in mind I crinkled open the first pack..

Lightning Helix's bigger brother. Awesome
Warleader's Helix - Big fan of Lightning Helix and this format is slow enough to allow you to get away with a 4 mana, this is a fatter, less efficient version but ultimately a very good removal/game ending spell. Passed over Renounce the Guilds.

Tithe Drinker - Lifelink, check. Extort, check. I picked this common second because if played early and unanswered it will set the tempo very quickly. Turn two drinker into a turn three extort and a swing for 2 damage is a 6 point swing in life totals your 23 life vs their 17. Excellent card.

Warleader's Helix - Again? Even if I'd wanted to go elsewhere these first three options were screaming Borhzdos. A word I will continue to use until it catches on.

Warleader's Helix - Seriously? If people want to pass me another I'll run a playset in a 40 card deck, quite happily.

This card is very good in drafting
if you plan to go W/B
Hired Torturer - A decent toughness three defender with a nice ability to pay 3B and make opponents lose life. The fact he can tap your opponents down for two life a turn means he needs an answer.

Sinister Possession - With the theory that high tempo decks would give W/B extort a headache I picked this 1 drop in order to slow them down, or at least make them think about it.

Punish the Enemy - I was slightly worried in taking this in this pick as it meant I was at two creatures and five spells. Three to the face and three to a potential blocker versus an average creature. The fact this can was instant speed was just too good to turn down and ended up as my choice.

Steeple Roc - A flying 3/1 first striker. Good. Five mana, bad. Needed creatures though and this was my best option. Susceptible to removal as it is. But still a power 3 flyer, something would still need to be done about it.

He looks a bit like my old maths teacher
Orzhov Cluestone - I made a resolution not to draft too many gates and cluestones. This was in colour though and surrounded by blue and green creatures. Took it without too much stress.

Maze Sentinel - With only one multicolour creature I hesitated before picking this one. It was my only Borhzov choice though. I didn't think the other cards in the pack were worth taking to deny the other players and so mindful of the multicoloured nature of the packs still to open I added him to the pile.

Dimir Guildgate - "But Lee!" I hear you cry. "What about your resolution not draft gates and stones? Yet here you sit, picks 8 and 10 with both a gate and a stone, what gives?" Yes well you are right to call me on that. But judging on the cards coming to me, the least drafted colours were green and blue. The dimir guildgate had the best chance to sticking my thumb in everyone else's pie and ruining their three colour ambitions.

Rakdos Cluestone - "But Lee!" Yeah, yeah I know. Red Black fits into my Borhzdos colours at least but there was nothing else honestly.

Restore the Peace  - Returning creatures was good but requiring them to deal damage first is pretty poor. Zero cards in my colours but this one was likely the most annoying to play against.

Pilfered Plans - Cost effective and a good hand filler, couldn't see mill being a very successful deck but taken to stop other people drawing two cards.

Nivix Cyclops - If I was playing any sort of Izzet this guy is in. That ability with the right cards and acceleration is a turn three win, well, not in draft but constructed absolutely.  This card as the last pick also tells me no-one is playing izzet and that I am mostly safe from blue cards and I should draft red less aggressively than I did in this pack favouring white and black.

Pack 2 - Gatecrash

Time to force the creatures, I will have to leave some good cards behind to increase my count. In drafts I prefer to run 17 lands, 14 creatures and then ideally 9 creature removal spells and/or combat tricks. Time to see if my Borhzdos strategy is going to pay off.

Gordon's Alive?!
Daring Skyjek - 2 mana, three power. Battalions into a flyer. First pick

Bomber Corps - 2 mana for a 1/2 but with a nice battalion ability to do 1 damage to target creature or player.

Daring Skyjek - Will pick this card all day.

Firefist Striker - My lucky day, no-one is picking these battalion boros cards it seems. Another solid 2 drop, 2/1 with a battalion that makes target creature unable to block.

Skyknight Legionnaire - Wow, this made it past four other people. Nobody is playing white red over that side of the table it seems.

Foundry Street Denizen - Again wow. Nobody is taking these red cards. Snaffled right away for a great 1 drop.

I dislike nothing about this card
Foundry Champion - Hello, what's this? Pick seven. Foundry champion. Taken with surprise and pleasure, start to feel that maybe a two colour deck is on the cards and black can be dropped.

Boros Keyrune - Sold. Screw it, I have enough cards now to run a very good Boros zerg rush deck. At this point I shift my draft strategy to picking attacking fast creatures. 1/1 double striking mana fixing mana acceleration? I like cards like this.

Towering Thunderfist - He got passed the first time because he was 5 mana rather than the 2 of the skyjek. I don't pass him over a second time.  

Mugging - More removal doesn't hurt, can also nullify blockers. Taken without much thought. Good flavour text too.

Rarrrrrrrrgh I bite-a your face!
Assault Griffin - Now that I'm not using the first two creatures I drafted (tithe drinker and hired torturer) and now I'm also only likely to be using one multicoloured creature (foundry champ over there) I still needed some creatures to get me to that 14 mark. This one was a very good choice. 4 mana for a 3/2 flyer demands an answer

Boros Guildgate - "But Lee!" ENOUGH! OK, I said not to draft too many, not draft none at all. Now Orzhov is out of the reckoning I wanted that 17th land to be a Boros Guildgate and then I could split 8/8 on mountains and plains.

Mugging - Another surprise pass, very happy to see it though.

Midnight Recovery - Returning creatures is very nice in limited. Amazed this made it round. But still, black and therefore not red/white.

 Pack Three - Return to Ravnica

At this stage I had 10 creatures and thanks to my double mugging and triple(!) Warleader's Helix I had a host of removal too. I also had the keyrune, acting as a creature and mana fixer. Ideally I'd snag about 4 red or white creatures and 3 utility spells and I'd be well on my way to running a two colour deck in an era of heavy 3 colour splashes. Lets see...

Man on wire has resorted to a very
aggressive marketing strategy.
Gore-House Chainwalker - Holy trees with dicks! How did I forget about the mono-red unleash series in Ravnica? If I wasn't going two colour before I was now. Detention sphere gets passed left as I snaffled the common creature that for 2 mana when unleashed is a 3/2 that can't block. Rapid

Splatter Thug - a 3 drop, when unleashed is a 3/3 first striking creature. Good choice in the 3 slot.

Gore-House Chainwalker - It's on! Two colour deck 100% confirmed with these three picks. Feeling good about my chances.

Precinct Captain - My second rare of the day 2 mana for a 2/2 first striker that gives me additional token when he damages an opponent. Don't think I'd have many preferred 4th picks in this booster.

Blistercoil Weird - Solid one drop even if the other hybrid is blue rather than white.

Witty captions are hard work. But uhh,
nice mask, Freddy and/or Jason. I guess.
Street Spasm - Incredible, there must only be at least one other person playing red, and there had to, somehow, be a better card in there. Solid kill spell.

Tablet of the Guilds - Middling pick, low priority, but fits casting many small spells quite well if I was going to sideboard it in. Also taking it stops Orzhov players taking it and gaining too much life.

Rootborn Defences - Indestructible creatures is a good thing. But on the other side of that I have a large portion of the kill spells. Nice sideboard option.

 Righteous Authority - Huh, I was not expecting this to make it around everyone either. Situational +1/+1 or +2/+2 for most of the time but the extra card draw is well worth it. Keep your hand until your post combat main phase and cast out then? Taken because my deck is pretty much built by now, that will go into a different deck of mine.

Drop this turn two and your opponent
has about three turns to deal with it.

Giant Growth - Not playing green. Didn't want to get my creatures surprised by it.

Deviant Glee - Perfect if I hadn't dropped black. But I did. Taken to stop Rakdos Cacklers and the like zerg rushing me.

Chorus of Might - By this point green and blue were the only cards left. This card is good for Selesnya, but not Boros.

Downsize - Overloading it can be the same as fog. Mostly a terrible fog proxy.

Downsize - :pokerface:


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Magic the Mathering - Commander Szadek

I finally took the plunge and yes, commander is actually a pretty fun format. Here is my first decklist.

Commander - Szadek, Lord of I wanted to play a Dimir Themed commander deck

This guy! Appropriate in a mill deck. Also a mondo beefy blocker should he swing and roid up.


Hello! My name is Derek.
I will be violating you presently.
Consuming Aberration, with it's power and toughness equal to the number of cards in my opponent's graveyards is a powerful card in mill decks, firstly it counts all opponents graveyards, good in multiplayer and then it mills further every time you cast a spell.

Chancellor of the Spires is a moderately beefy 5/7 flying creature for 4UUU. It makes one opponent mill seven cards if it's in my opening hand and when it enters the battlefield I can cast a sorcery or instant in an opponent's graveyard for free and opponents tend to have lots of nice things in their decks.

Architects of Will is a nice versatile card. 2UB for a  3/3, I have the option of cycling for hybrid u/b and when it comes into play I can look at top three cards of my library and put them back in any order.

Dimir Guildmage is a pretty average card, but has Dimir in the name and I do like a theme. A 2/2 creature for u/b u/b and with two abilities. 3U draw a card and 3B have an opponent discard a card. Both abilities at sorcery speed, the discarding is normally restricted to sorcery speed so that's OK, but the card drawing requiring sorcery speed is very restrictive.

Dimir Houseguard is another of those average cards with Dimir in the name. 4 mana for a 2/3 creature with fear isn't really that good, even with the sacrifice a creature to regenerate ability. The real value in this card is the transmute ability. Allowing me to dig up a couple of converted mana cost 4 gems that would be otherwise left to the shuffle monster.

Dimir Infiltrator a UB 1/3 unblockable creature, which would find a home in many decks. Without many, if any ways to pump its power I will almost always transmute. The 1UB transmute cost to search for a card with converted mana cost 2 is very useful.

Jhessian Zombies a 2/4 fear creature for 4UB. Not a hardcaster by any stretch but the 2 mana islandcycling or swampcycling ability means the mana fixing is strong with this one.

Thoughtcutter Agent a 1/1 creature for UB. It has an interesting tap ability though.  UB, T: Target opp loses 1 life and reveals their hand. A 40 turn clock and the ability to check someone's hand is quite nice. Also fits thematically.

Vela the Night Clad, for 4UB you get a 4/4 creature with intimidate, other creatures I control then gain intimidate and when a creature I control leaves the battlefield each opponent loses one life. I don't do much bouncing jiggerypokery in this deck but I bet I could make a deck that revolves around it. Thematically works. Backup Commander.

Good looking fella too.
Echo Mage - This guy. Oh yes, this guy. Absolute man of the match every time I've got him on the board. He is a genius.

Chainer, Dementia Master - A 3/3 creature for 3BB. Nightmare creatures get +1/+1. For BBB, Pay 3 life: Put target creature card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. That creature is black and is a Nightmare in addition to its other creature types. When Chainer, Dementia Master leaves the battlefield, exile all Nightmares. Three reasons this chap makes it in. One, he can bring back my creatures. Two he bring back my opponent's creatures under my control. Three, anti-mill Eldrazi hate. Kozilek.

Mulldrifter ahh mully, our ubiquitous 2/2 flying creature for 4U or evoke 2U. You draw two cards when he enters the battlefield and that's why people love him.

Kederekt Leviathan for 6UU and a 5/5 body you kind of want a game breaking effect. "When Kederekt Leviathan enters the battlefield, return all other nonland permanents to their owners' hands." Ah yes, that should do it. Colossally awkward mid-late game. Gets an extra special place in troll town when you can do it again from the graveyard. It has unearth for 6U.

Dimir Cutpurse: a utility 2/2 for 1UB. Whenever it deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card and you draw a card. Discarding opponents = good, drawing cards = good. Overall rating = good. Add to the Dimir theme nicely as well.

Fleshbag Marauder, or Eric Cartman the zombie. For 2B you get a 3/1 creature who, upon entering the battlefield makes each player sacrifice a creature, you guys I'm seriously!

Whelk I never!
Draining Whelk: 4UU for a 1/1 flyer with flash (You may cast the spell any time you could cast an instant.) Then the interesting part, when it enters the battlefield, counter target spell. Put X +1/+1 counters, where X is that spell's converted mana cost. Spell only needs to be about 4 mana to be worth it.

Mindleech Mass 5UBB 6/6: Trample Whenever Mindleech Mass deals combat damage to a player, you may look at that player's hand. If you do, you may cast a nonland card in it without paying that card's mana cost. No way this makes it into constructed but commander is very different kettle of fish. Casting opponents (probably expensive) spells for free is great.

Evil Twin 0/0 2UB: You may have Evil Twin enter the battlefield as a copy of any creature on the battlefield except it gains "UB, T: Destroy target creature with the same name as this creature." This is now even better at what it was doing before. Entering the battlefield and blowing up the opponents general because the changes to the legendary rules mean rather than blowing themselves up along with the enemy general. They can enter, then blow up the enemy general and you get to keep your copy! 

Clone: Clone, for 3U enters the battlefield as a copy of a creature. It's main function in this deck was to gib the enemy commander. But there are enough creatures in the format worth copying to leave it in.

Duskmantle Guildmage: UB for a 2/2 creature and two abilities: 1UB: Whenever a card is put into an opponent's graveyard this turn, that player loses 1 life. 2UB: Target player puts the top two cards library into graveyard. Only really use the first ability with the commander's ability. Dimir themed goodness as well.

Archaeomancer: 2UU for a 1/2 creature who, when he enters the battlefield allows to return an instant of sorcery from your graveyard to your hand. In a single card format multiple castings of certain spells are very useful.

Guiltfeeder: I used to run this little guy in a deck with ensnaring bridge, grafted skullcap and walking archive Here he does a similar job, as in that deck. \Mmaking opponents lose 10+ life with a single, hard to block swing. 3BB for a 0/4 creature, when he attacks and isn't blocked that opponent loses 1 life for card in their graveyard.

So... many... combos...
Deadeye Navigator 4UU for a 5/5 creature is nothing to sneeze at, pair him up with any creature that has an enter the battlefield ability and watch as you can pay 1U and repeatedly troll everyone. My favourite applications of this card are with Mulldrifter for the card draw, duplicant for a 1U swords to plowshares and no drawback and Draining whelk for the trololz.

Duplicant this chap is a 6 colourless mana, artifact creature that they didn't fully consider the implication when they printed it. He's normally a 2/4 but has the ability. When Duplicant enters the battlefield, you may exile target nontoken creature. As long as the exiled card is a creature card, Duplicant has that card's power, toughness, and creature types. It's still a Shapeshifter. Emratroll getting you down? Duplicant it! I put them into my astral slide deck for fun and profit.


Mind Grind xUB each opponent reveals cards from the top of their library and mills until they reveal x lands. This is the poor man's mind funeral, which would be in this deck so hard if I owned one. Good finisher though.

Deny Reality - 3UB: Bounce a permanent, cascade for converted mana cost less than five. Plenty of good stuff in there, the bounce is a sorcery which counts against it. But essentially a great card.

Consult the Necrosages - 1UB target player draws two cards or discards two cards. Nice boost to cards or makes an opponent discard. If they have three or fewer cards in hand I usually make them discard. Also a nice Dimir theme continuation.

Kill creatures, draw cards.
A more appropriate card
for U/B there is not
Twisted Justice - 4UB target player sacrifices a creature, then I get to draw cards equal to it’s power. Perfect against single commanders.

Sadistic Sacrament - BBB, overuse of this card will lose you friends. Search target player’s library and exile up to three cards. For a kicker of 7, search for 15 cards instead. In deck where only one copy is allowed this is devastating.

Chainer’s Edict 1B - Target player sacrifices a creature, Flashback 5BB is a nice bonus. Making your opponent sacrifice is a good way to get around protection colours, indestructible and hexproof/shroud.

Cabal Conditioning 6B - Any number of target players each discard a number of cards equal to the highest converted mana cost among permanents you control. You only need a permanent of about 4-5 to have this be game breaking.

Ponder U - Look at the top three cards, then put them back in any order. You may shuffle your library. Draw a card. Ponder is so good it's banned in Modern. There are few blue decks that are made worse by its inclusion.

Hexagons! I. LOVE>. Hexagons!
Mind Spring XUU. Draw X cards. Elegant simplicity. Good way to restock your hand late game. Excellent target for Echo Mage.

Preordain - This card, for me, is better than ponder. Dat scry 2 before the draw. Two lands? send them down, never to drawn again until you shuffle your library.

Forsee - Preordain's big brother. Scry 4 and draw 2 for 3U. Like this one too.

Gitaxian Probe - Always paid with 2 life. Intel + card draw. Love it.


Jace, Architecht of Thought: I like the + ability, even if it is a bit weak. The mini fact or fiction is very good and the ultimate, which will never get off because, you know, planeswalker, is game breaking in commander.

Willing to play this one, I like sensible Jace. Moody Jace, Bishi Jace, and Fucking Expensive Jace are not my thing.


Whatever, it's in the deck for the underboob.
Essence Vortex 1UB - Destroy target creature unless it's controller pays life equal to it's toughness. The card is average. But it's good against single onmitank megapump creatures.

Twincast - UU  Copy target instant or sorcery spell, and you many choose new targets. I want you to join me on the crazy boat for a minute. 10 mana open, mind grind for 6 lands, Twincast. (then if we go right off the deep end another two mana for a leveled Echo Mage to copy twincast twice.)

Spin into Myth - 4U Put target creature on top of it’s library then fateseal 2. Tuck your enemy commander right at the bottom of their library and try not to look smug. A little pricey, but a great spell nonetheless.

Countersquall - UB - Counter noncreature spell, its controller loses 2 life.

Capsize - Buyback {3} Return target permanent to its owner's hand. Filth, this card, plus the Echo Mage combined to win me at least one game. Tap eight, buyback capsize and copy it twice.

Counterspell - No links, you know what it does. Clue is in the name.

Cancel - Poor man's counterspell. Still good value at 1UU

Dimir Charm - Hey! The Dimir theme is back, remember that? UB for a swiss army knife of a card. Counter target sorcery spell; or destroy target creature with power 2 or less; or look at the top three cards of target player's library, then put one back and the rest into that player's graveyard.

Recoil - 1UB, Return target permanent to it's owner's hand, that player discards a card. Might as well be 1UB destroy target permanent if they have no cards in hand. Do like. Dimir flavour if not an actual Dimir card.

Mystical Tutor - U, Search for an instant or sorcery and put it to your hand. In a highlander deck format, finding the cards you need is priceless.

Think Twice - 1U, Draw a card, 2U, flashback. Utility card drawing, nice to have it sit in the graveyard until you need it.

Perplex makes the cut despite a lack of
Perplex - 1UB, counter target spell unless it's controller discards their hand. On it's own a great extortion dilemna, discarding your hand is usually bad thing so read 1UB counter target spell. If the opponent has no cards in hand after casting they can choose to discard zero cards. But in that scenario... 1UB, transmute for your favourite three mana card. (Echo Mage.) Transmute is my favourite mechanic from Ravnica 1.

Undermine - Counter target spell, it's controller loses three life. No subtlety, just lose your spell and then lose 3 life.

Cyclonic Rift - Return target nonland permanent you don't control to its owner's hand. Overload (swap target for each) for 6U instead. Gamebreaker if it resolves.


Ixidor was awesome. Hints of underboob.
Future Sight - 2UUU Ixidor was the character I wanted to see more of in the Future Sight block, I know he created a red Akroma blah blah blah, but you take his key ability in the fluff, he can sculpt reality. If he did that while black or maybe green aligned rather than blue aligned you'd have a very different card. Regardless. I like Ixidor and I love the card, which references Ixidor.

Soul Ransom - Steal a creatures, controller may discard 2, have me draw 2destroy soul ransom and return their creature. Great when combined with discarding. 2UB to draw two and have an opponent discard two isn't bad on it's own. Holding a creature hostage while they scrape up the cards to get them back? Dimir themed!

Dire Undercurrents - 3 u/b u/b to cast. When a blue creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target player draw a card. When a black creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target player discard a card.


Jesters Cap - 4 mana for the artifact. 2 mana to activate it. Exile 3 cards from target opponents library, a card to deal with specific threats. Will usually take planeswalkers or some of the bigger bombs unless I get Gaea's Blessing, Eldrazi, or anything that recycles graveyards.

Lightning Greaves - 2 mana for the equipment, 0 to equip to give a creature shroud and haste. Good value.

Soul Foundry - 4 mana to cast, imprinting a creature card from your hand. Then pay x where is is the creatures converted mana cost, tap and put a copy into play. A billion Echo Mages!

Whispersilk Cloak - 3 mana to cast 2 to equip to give a creature shroud and make it unblockable. A great deal for my commander. 


14 swamps, 14 islands and then a load of UB duals.
Dimir Aqueduct,
Salt Marsh
Frost Mars
Darkslick Shores
Dreadship Reef

Some cycling and my favourite transmute.

Lonely Sandbar
Barren Moor
Tolaria West - This card almost always searches for...
Reliquary tower

A spot of the inevitable cabal coffers/tomb of yawgmoth c-c-c-c-combo breaking

Ghost Quarter

Then some generic fixins

Terramorphic Expanse and it's "strictly the same buddy" Evolving Wilds

The deck, honestly is average. But I have a good time playing it and kicked sadistic sacraments aside it's not too broken to ruin the fun for everyone else

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Magic the Mathering - The Bad Deck Format

The Bad Deck Format.

Have you ever bemoaned pulling some truly terrible cards from your boosters? Condemned to a life of never being included in a deck, or even in the sideboard of an experimental deck? Ultimately they are used as coasters or simply take up space in your boxes. We’ve all been there.

However, salvation is now at hand! I present to you the BAD DECK format! The chance to give those abominable cards their moment in the spotlight.

The Rules: A bit prescriptive and with my apologies, a bit LONG, but they are really there to make sure that games are fun and have a chance of getting a winner.

It's really a format for casual games/tournaments, I don't recommend making it too competitive. The idea is to allow your oft maligned card a shot at being in the spotlight and collectively laugh at some of the terrible cards and admire the genius ways in which people use these terrible cards to poorly interact with each other to conspire to lose the game for their opponents.

The point of the bad deck therefore is that you give it to your opponent to use and because it is so heinously bad, your opponent cannot possibly win, allowing you to win with their (hopefully) slightly less bad deck. 

Deck Construction

Mana and Duplicate requirements

Decks are constructed with exactly 60 cards, between 20 and 25 lands and no sideboard.

Each card, with the exception of basic lands, can only appear in your deck once.

If you include a white card, the deck must have at least 4 plains.
Include a blue card and the deck must have at least 4 islands
Include a black card and the deck must have at least 4 swamps
Include a red card and the deck must have at least 4 mountains
Include a green card and the deck must have at least 4 forests

There is no requirement to run all five colours.

Cards that have two or more different mana symbols count as all colours represented, include an Ebony Treefolk and you need both 4 forests and 4 swamps

For split and hybrid mana cards, owing to their versatility you may choose one side of the card/one colour of the card to count as the card in your deck. The vast majority of decks are five colour for maximum mana screw so it's not usually an issue, but if you have Fire/Ice you must include at least 4 islands OR 4 mountains. If you include Unmake you must include 4 plains OR 4 swamps.

Creature Requirements

The deck must include creatures with a total power of at least 35 and with no upper limit. This must also include at least TWELVE creatures but can be more.

Creatures with defender can be included in your decks, but they do not count towards your total power. Include a Wall of Swords (power 3) and you still need creatures totaling power 35, not 32.

Legal Casting Requirements

Underhanded tactics are welcome and indeed encouraged but everything has to be “legal” and “useable” at least in the technical sense of the word. You can’t just pick creatures that the deck is unable to get around their restrictions in attacking. The games need to finish after all! As long as the capability is there you should be fine.

“Legal” Is fairly simple.

Each spell must be possible to cast, as well as possible to pay any mana-based upkeep costs at least once, using the lands you have in the deck. I think the basic lands requirement pretty much covers this but there are exceptions.

“Legal” Casting Example:

If you play a Khalni Hydra in the deck (Casting cost of: GGGGGGGG) you need to include eight forests in your deck. If you make that the only green creature card in the deck you are also an evil genius.

“Legal” Upkeep Examples:

Spells that have regular or cumulative upkeep for colourless mana are no problem, likewise things with upkeep requiring you to pay life or sacrifice permanents are also fine.

Cover of Winter has cumulative upkeep {s} (one mana from a snow permanent.) Now we’re talking! There is no problem including this card providing there are at least four plains in the deck (the requirement of including a white card) and one snow land in the deck (to pay the mana-based upkeep at least once.)

In this case, three normal plains and one snow plains is enough to meet both of the requirements.

Useability Requirements

“Useable” Is a little more complex and mostly relates to the creatures and their restrictions in attacking because the creatures and working around their uselessness are how you win games. It just makes sure that the games come to a conclusion by having creatures actually be able to attack, however sporadically.

Useable example 1:
Blind-Spot Giant can't attack or block unless you control another giant. Therefore your bad deck MUST include some way to get a second giant creature on the battlefield or the card is not “useable.” You could literally use another giant creature, or you can get creative, by using a changeling for example, which is every creature type. That is a little bit powerful though.

Other ways that are technically “useable” are; including an Imagecrafter, which can tap to make one of your creatures any creature type that you like. But that’s every turn and therefore reliable. The pro Bad Deck builder might instead run a Trickery Charm. Using the “target creature becomes the creature type of your choice until end of turn” option to target a second creature they control.

This would mean the giant could only attack once, on the turn that you use your trickery charm on another one of your creatures to turn it into a giant.


Useable Example 2:
Scarred Puma has an ability that says it can't attack unless a black or green creature also attacks. Therefore, your Bad Deck MUST include one black or green creature that can attack, or else the card is not “useable.”

The sneaky bad deck player might make the only other green or black creature a Reiver Demon and then trollface as the Reiver destroys their precious Puma as it comes in to play.

To get around the fact that casting a Reiver Demon in a format like this is probably enough to win you the game the canny Bad Deck player would likely only include 4 swamps in the entire deck and pray swamp 4 is near the bottom.


Thus the Bad Deck format is defined.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Magic the Mathering - Pauper - The Phil Collins Deck

Pauper Tournament then, commons only, with Cranial Plating, Empty the Warrens, Frantic Search, Grapeshot, Invigorate all banned.

Even looking at the banned list and seeing Invigorate there I thought infect was looking strong, especially with storm weakened. I decided that as I had the cards anyway I'd take a cheeky shot with the New Phyrexians and see if I couldn't poison my way to a win or two.

The Deck: They Call Him The Phil Collins - Mono G Infect 

Creature (16)

4x Glistener Elf
4x Blight Mamba
4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Rot Wolf

My win condition is 10 poison counters. Which led me to one word. Trample. Sadly not much in the way of pauper infecting tramplers so I'd have to cross that bridge when I got to it. For now I had to decide on my poison counter delivery vectors. The three obvious choices were the same as every infect deck ever built ever. All solid one and two drops.

I think this guy is my favourite. The synergy with rancor is immense, let him through for three or block him, lose a creature and let him through for four :-)
Four of each of those in the deck had me with 12 creatures, which I didn't feel (and after some research the internet told me) wasn't enough. I dipped into common green/artifact infect creatues and narrowed it down to three options. Rot Wolf, Cystbearer and Blightwidow.

Dat card draw. My biggest weakness. Rot wolf had to be in the deck

In the end I decided that the card drawing capabilities that a player with no other choice but to block rot wolf would be more valuable that a creature with reach or an extra toughness. In addition against the Blightwidow I knew I was skating close to the line on my mana base at 16 lands and CMC of 3 vs 4 meant it wasn't really a decision to make.

Instant (24)

4x Hornet Sting
4x Predators Strike
4x Hunger of the Howlpack
4x Rangers Guile
3x Mutagenic Growth
4x Giant Growth
1x Vines of Vastwood

Enchantment (3)

3x Rancor 
The. Fuck? How do I only own one vines of vastwood, and no groundswells?

So the idea behind the non creatures is essentially to keep my creatures alive in their turn and pump up to ten poisons in mine.

After deciding way back up there that Trample is the answer to every question regarding the effectiveness of the deck. I wanted to focus on obliterating chump blockers, which slow the deck down by quite a bit and instead get the poison clock ticking by attacking!

If my glistener elf gets blocked by a 1/1 and I have to pump giant growth to keep them alive it's three points of damage wasted. Predator's strike however for the heady price of one extra mana keeps her alive and a my opponent get a bonus three poison counters. Four Predator's Strike in. Also pulled apart every single green deck I owned to find the three Rancor that I own. Rancor is the evil glue that hold the deck together. Recursion is a bitch, three included automatically. Would have been four in the deck, except all my M13 pulls were crap.

Next my attention turned to keeping my creatures alive I really, really wanted the versatile Vines of Vastwood, protection and pump all in one glorious spell, but I only owned one. It went in anyway. I did however own about a million ranger's guile. Which does the same thing, it's basically a counterspell only it lasts all turn. Also included were four Hornet Stings to pop sneaky looking creatures before they could be declared blockers and the ubiquitous giant growth. 1 mana for three poison counters? Sure, why not?

This left me with a couple of slots open Hunger of the Howlpack was really in there as a bully card in a mirror match against other infect decks, or where creatures are likely to die, the -1/-1 counters of other infect decks could be offset somewhat and it would give me the advantage in theory. The final card in the instants and enchantments block is Mutagenic Growth. The ability to use it against early turn removal (tragic slip, piracy charm et al) after I tap out to play my creatures is too good to pass up. Also it means your opponent can over think things. "He's tapped out, but he can still play that other spell for two life..."

Artifact (1)

1x Lotus Petal

After all that was said and done I had one space left where my fourth rancor should have been. Which I used to get a lotus petal. Speed and fuel for pump spells. I love it.

Enchantment (3)

3x Rancor

Instant (24)

4x Hornet Sting
4x Predators Strike
4x Hunger of the Howlpack
4x Rangers Guile
3x Mutagenic Growth
4x Giant Growth
1x Vines of Vastwood

Artifact (1)

1x Lotus Petal

Creature (16)

4x Glistener Elf
4x Blight Mamba
4x Ichorclaw Myr
4x Rot Wolf

Land (16)

16x Forest

Sideboard (15)

4x Fog
4x Titanic Growth
1x Explore
2x Viridian Longbow
2x Ferocious Charge
2x Corpse Cur

This deck went 6-1 in a double elimination tournament, enough to earn me first place. Hooray! As for sideboarding vs specific threats. I would just concentrate on your own game and practice the art of the mulligan and the art of patience. You don't have to play a creature on turn one if you think your opponent is playing a lot of removal. Wait, and save your mana for the Vines of Vastwood or Ranger's Guile. Hornet Stings turned out to be crap though.

Vs everything
-4 hornet sting
+4 fog.

Nothing like watching your opponent throw an arm full of cards at you only to have you prevent all the damage and leave them with a load of tapped creatures. If I was making the deck again with the patience to get more cards I'd change as follows.

-4 Hornet stings

+3 Vines of Vastwood
+1 Rancor

My play of the tournament was as follows.

My turn one: Forest, Lotus Petal, Tap forest for green, play Glistener Elf, Sacrifice Lotus Petal for green, play Rancor. Pass turn.

Their turn one: Swamp, pass turn

My turn two: Forest, Rancor, Giant Growth, Pay 2 life, Mutagenic Growth swing for 10. GG

Screw invigorate, ban the infect keyword!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Magic: the Mathering - Gatecrash Draft 2, Gatecrasher.

Hello again!

Quite by accident I found myself in another Gatecrash draft this week. Read about my exploits in the previous draft here.

I was feeling confident going into the draft, my weasel like cowardice coming through to place me in the top three had me looking forward to this one. Maybe I'll just force Boros again. But I got to thinking, a lot of people who were at the previous draft are in this one too. So I outsmarted myself by drafting GRUUL! Yeah, that's a good idea because potato. It quickly became abundantly clear this was the wrong move.

Had a chance to win the whole thing except I'm a moron.

35/52 Which mark down because I basically sabotaged my own Match 1

Mr. T pities me right now.

I won't go over the full draft and the order I picked things this time, one because it's quite painful how bad I was and two because it takes ages to link all those cards.

What I did do, however is draft and then subsequently not use all of the following cards.

Why did I do this? Because in trying to force Gruul I yielded a million packs with ZERO gruul cards that weren't stolen by everyone else. Halfway through pack two I realize no-one is playing simic and decide to go three colour in spite of how bad an idea that is in a 40 card deck with almost no mana fixers and poor grasp on reality and maths. Plus Duskmantle was my rare from pack three. Yeah, think I'll keep that, that's the price of my entry fee anyway. So I can walk out having broken even if nothing else goes right. Thanks.

Match 1 Vs Boros/Gruul (loss 0-2)

Game one

Having not fully understood how bad my deck was I rolled up and decided to bring on the hurt. Started out alright and then slithered slowly downhill. I had no answer to his

Wait! Wait! I have the pun I've been waiting for.

This draft was Gruul-ing. Get it? Grueling?



I had no answer to assemble the legion, an absolute limited bomb and were it in my pack, totally first pick and I'd force Boros again. My deck was too slow and in fairness my opponent is a very good player and had a good chance of beating me with an optimized deck.

Lesson not quite learned I subbed out two cards and slotted in two naturalizes and decided to go again.

Game two.

Turn 5, after drawing zero lands, controlling a simic guildgate, a mountain and forest. Boom. My opponent hit the guildgate with frenzied tilling. Love the card, reprinted from invasion, not loving getting bummed all over. I conceded pretty quickly after that made his 6th land.

The time had come, brain on, eyes off. All red was purged from my deck. Time for the backup plan. Initially my theory was, simic for unblockable creatures, gruul for bloodrush or bloodlust or whatever and pump them up by very lots. I decided that wasn't going to work because my mana wasn't right.

Skarrg Guildmage - out
Wrecking Orge - out
Rubblehulk - out
Cinder Elemental - out
Scorchwalker - out
Gruul Guildgate - Very out
Ruination Wurm - out
Zhur-Taa Swine - out
Primal Visitation - out

33% of my useless deck lie in my side board.

New tactic acquired, play an average deck, very, very well.

Challenge accepted.

The Deck

Skyblinder Staff
Cloudfin Raptor x 2

Incursion Specialist
Hands of Binding
Frilled Oculous
Naturalize x 2
Burning-Tree Emissary
Shambleshark (creature type is not shark. Wizards, I am disappoint. Even if a shark is a type of fish)
Metropolis Sprite

Miming Slime
Simic Keyrune
Deathcult Rogue x 3
Armoured Transport
Elusive Krasis

Way of the Thief
Last Thoughts x 2
Scatter Arc

So yet again I find myself doing my best to try a peasant deck in a draft. Packing one rare that's hardly a game changer. (Realmwright) Only this time giving all my opponents a 2-0 headstart. Even better, that deck is basic, is like a starter deck only with no bombs. Gotta rely at chipping away two unblockable damage at a time then.

Here we go!

Match 2 vs Orvhov/Splash G (2-0)

This is more like it. I open with a Cloudfin Raptor and evolve him twice with a Realmwright and an incursion specialist.

For his part he plays a Dutiful Thrull and a Boros reckoner which I keep tapped down with Hands of binding ciphered on to my little flyer. I whittle him down to around 8 or so life but for a while a stalemate breaks out when he casts Zarichi Tiger. Using his ability in my end phase to keep the difference. I finally change tactics and figure I have the life to spare so switch to using the ciphered hands of binding on his lion. The game ends a couple of turns later when I get my second spell of the turn out and give the Infiltrator +2/+0 and unblockable and bloodrush him with the slaughter horn.

Game two is very similar only much more drawn out. He plays two Kingpin Pet's (how many pets does that Kingpin want?) and a smog elemental as well as a host of small irritation blockers but is very defensive, perhaps worried about my combat tricks that I wasn't holding, instead preferring to wait and see what I do. It renders my Metropolis Sprite and my Cloudfin Raptor which had only evolved once useless. But my Deathcult Rogue was chipping away for 2 per turn.

He decided to get a little more aggressive once his life dipped under 10. But by then it was too late, It took a quick Aetherize when my life got a tad precarious to get back on level ground and that forced my opponent, now wary of me swinging for lethal damage decided to hold back and try an recoup some life from extort. I was on 6 he was on 5 but gaining two a turn from another bastard tiger.

In the end my win condition was the same, two spells to make my Incursion Specialist unblockable, as well as other unblockable creatures, creatures with flying creatures and the staff of can't be blocked by creatures with flying (Troll much?)

Match 3 Vs Boros (see why I tried not to play Boros?) (2-1 win)

Game 1

12 cards drawn, two lands.

Game 2

Powered through this game, an early combination that led me to have the Cloudfin evolve twice and then equip with the Skyblinder staff which meant I was swinging for three in the air. This only improved when I drew hands of binding and tapped down any counter threat. Rush for 7 unblockable on turn six and that was game. Feeling a lot better than I did in game one.

I faced mostly creatures on the ground. But two flyers included.

Game 3

Took a little bit longer thanks to this guy.

Took him out mid game with a classy piece of blocking if I say so myself. Tapped all my lands to make my keyrune into a 2/3 blocker. Declared the doomed crab creature as a blocker, tap him for blue, bioshift, move an evolve counter onto him to make him power 3 and enough to kill him. 

Once there I was safely settled into having my unblockable Cloudfin double ciphered. With 2 cards advantage per turn I held out until my oppenent had no cards in hand and went to town. Managing in the process to counter a spell that would have given a Holy Mantled, Basilica Guard both flying and first strike.

All of which doesn't matter if your creatures are unblockable. Swinging with two Deathcult Rogues a second spell Infiltrator, and a bloodrushed unblockable Elusive Krasis for eleven and no answers.

So by blind luck I still managed to finish on top of a large pile of players who were 2-1 overall and snagged third place.

My results confirm that however many people take part in the draft I finish third. Next stop. The drafting World Cup, or whatever.

Card of the Night, has to be this little fella. Seeming harmless at first, with the right cards played correctly he's a 3/4 on turn 4, for no extra effort. When I paired him up with the other two cards here... won me the third match almost alone.

Skyblinder staff is a bit of a sleeper in limited as well, providing you have the creatures with flying to back it up.