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, 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.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Magic: The Mathering - Drafting GTC

Hello friends,

Today I am reviewing my first draft of the new Gatecrash magic set. My history in drafting is, not good. Finishing mid-table, near the bottom and then last.

My actual place was third (out of eight, don't get too exited) but that's because I crunched the numbers and offered a draw in my last game so I'd be guaranteed to place in the top three. Remember, even when drafting with only eight I'd not finished in the prizes, ever (and my opponent for game three is really good) I just needed that monkey off my back.

Turns out I screwed myself over as I won the friendly game I played in my last game 2-1, which would have made me the only person to have gone 3-0

Good company, great times, pizza. Loses three points because I didn't have the self confidence to try and win the whole thing.

Back to my owner's hand :-(

To the draft then!

Crack open pack one and see a Treasury Thrull looking back at me, interesting, but not powerful enough to make me split from my plan. I pick up a Boros Elite and Daring Skyjek as my first two picks, but not in that order. Battalion is looking powerful, from what I can tell of this set, speed is king. Third pick comes having fairly certainly decided on forcing Boros I see Gift of Orzhova's awesome artwork calling to me and decide to risk the double white. Evasion, lifelink and a tiny boost to P/T. I don't care that it's an enchant creature (which I'd normally avoid) how that made it past two people before me I'm not quite sure. Turn any creature worth enchanting into a deathtouchless vampire nighthawk? Even as an enchantment I'm still OK with that. No way would it have made it around the board so I grabbed it pick three. I followed it up with mostly one and two drops. Truefire Paladin, Foundry Street Denizen, Arrows of Justice and Bomber Corps among them.

I noticed as the first pack was doing the rounds people were seeing a particular card and laughing. My worst ever draft rare, without a doubt was Battle of Wits, pick fifteen,. Second place goes to Biovisionary when it was seventh or eighth pick it was easy to leave, but pick fourteen? When left with the choice of that or naturalize I had to seriously think about it. Any kind of green at all I probably would have gone for naturalize but there are modern and legacy decks waiting where Biovisionary is a cheeky way to win. Rite of Replication? so the rare was my pick fourteen. Winning!

Pack two cracks open and the rare is Undercity Plague, thanks but no, I like the cipher mechanic but dimir looked a little slow off the blocks and I'd already forced Boros. I snag Sunhome Guildmage pick one and pass the pack. Another Boros Elite makes it into my picks as does another Truefire Paladin. Fourth and fifth picks go to Warmind Infantry, and Murder Investigation which I initially thought was distinctly average but is actually quite brilliant for mind games. Put it on a creature you want to keep alive and it becomes an extortion of sorts, put it on a creature that gets +2/+2 when it attacks and suddenly people don't want to block it. Put it on a creature that can be given a lot of extra power for very little mana at instant speed, suddenly battalion is in your face with an army of soldiers. Bit of a sleeper.

Other interesting picks that came in were Beckon Apparition, Syndic of Tithes, Prophetic Prism and a Boros Guildgate.

Big creature bombs are what worried me in my deck so far and specifically my limited ability of being able to do anything about them, Arrows of Justice aside. When pack three satisfyingly crinkled open I had a choice. Draft the cards that help my deck or snag the Deathpact Angel grinning at me in the back saying "How's not playing Orzhov working out for you now rubberdick?" I pick the sarcastic angel anyway and make her sit in my sideboard all night, that'll learn her.

Then my decision was saved though as I grab Act of Treason, Homing Lightning and Massive Raid and although massive raid isn't a fourth pick in almost any scenario I was fairly confident of it being a very overpriced Lightning Bolt should I need it. Then around eighth or ninth pick Mugging slips in. Basically shock on creatures only but more importantly prevents them blocking. Not bad for a finisher. Picked up a few more utility creatures and another guildgate. Deck construction took about five minutes and that included putting the sleeves on.

The full deck list did not change between my games.

Boros Elite x 2
Foundry Street Denizen,
Beckon Apparition
Furious Resistance

Prophetic Prism
Bomber Corps
Skinbrand Goblin
Syndic of Tithes
Daring Skyjek
Truefire Paladin x 2
Murder Investigation
Sunhome Guildmage 

Warmind Infantry
Arrows of Justice
Gift of Orzhova
Act of Treason
Massive Raid

Homing Lightning

Knight Watch
Nav Squad Commandos

Ripscale Predator

Boros Guildgate x 2
Mountain x 8
Plains x 7

A lot of my games roll out the same way. They never last long and aren't very subtle.

Match 1 vs Simic/Dimir (2-1 win)

Games 1 and 3 were very similar

1: Plains, Boros Elite, pass turn
1: Forest, Pass turn

2: Mountain, Two drop, swing for one.
2: Island, pass turn.

3: Plains, Skyjek, or another Boros Elite.
3: Island, Dimir Keyrune

4: Wargbgblgblglbll!

This carries on for a turn or two more but wave after wave of power 3 creatures after being bumped up by the guildmage prove overwhelming.

Game 2 was a bit of eye opener though. Experiment one out, followed by a couple of creatures to let it evolve, but the winner came when he hit the unblockable (by me anyway) Deathcult Rogue with a ciphered Call of the Nightwing. Swarmed by 1/1 flying horrors, I tried using homing lightning to burn all the horrors but my fear of lack of removal came true and I couldn't attack for enough and ran out of time.

Match 2 vs Dimir/Orzhov (2-0) win

These games were also fairly straightforward. Turn one saw me cast out Boros Elite, then turn two Daring Skyjek and three came the Sunhome Guildmage. While all my opponent could manage was a Frilled Oculus and a Dutiful Thrull.

Turn four I cast Gift of Orzhova on the Boros Elite and started swinging keeping my life healthy and my opponent's precarious.

After being forced to sacrifice a creature to Devour Flesh I was then tapped down pretty well with a combo of Keymaster Rogue and a double ciphered Hands of Binding meaning my battalion wouldn't trigger.

A swift turnabout came though after creating a 1/1 soldier token in his end step. Then with my one remaining attacker casting act of treason to steal his unblockable cipher-er I swung for near lethal tapped both of his unblockable creatures so they couldn't tap down my creatures in his turn. I then untapped all my creatures for the first time in forever and between the Skyjek and the Gift of Orzhova-ed Boros Elite and my soldier token to make up the battalion numbers I swung for seven lethal in the air.

The second game played out similarly. My winning condition was to steal his Keymaster Rogue with act of treason, swing for three unblockable and then use the cipher to tap itself, meaning he couldn't untap it in his turn and I was free to untap next turn and battalion for lethal damage.

Match 3 vs Boros/Gruul (2-1 draw)

Having already agreed a draw in advance I was counting my booster packs and have forgotten what happened so it's a little more vague.

I lost the first game to a combo of Ember Beast, Hellraiser Goblin and Wojeck Halberdiers (scarily good card which I was very jealous of.) Swinging for lots with haste before I'd even got my trousers on.

The same combo came out game two. But I mugging-ed the Halberdiers and Furious Resistance gave my blocker +3/+1 and first strike to remove his ember beast. Then flapped over with Boros Elite, Skyjek, Bomber Corps and my lifelink enchantment on the Boros Elite. He had no answer to the lifelink and I won on stamina as all his creatures had to attack which I let through unblocked and then attacked for more damage plus lifelink.

Game three he was mana flooded. His first creature was Towering Thunderfist on turn five. I promptly act of treasoned it and swung with the four creatures I already had for thirteen lethal.

I have to figure that if we were playing for real and hadn't already agreed a draw he would have taken a mulligan. Looking his deck through afterwards it was probably better than mine. I got a little lucky in that game three.

My card of the match is difficult to pick. Honourable mention to Boros Elite and Gift of Orzhova combo. But the winning card essentially won me 100% of the games it was played in. Also, interesting fact. None of the cards in my deck were rare. Plenty of uncommon, but not a single rare.

Hello Dave, You're my wife card now.

Stealing those cipher powered unblockable rogues were the key in match two and a quick finisher in match three.

A quick word about drafted cards that didn't make it in:

Tin Street Market about two mana overpriced AND you need to tap a land to activate it, this entire 5 mana land enchantment set is turd but I figured maybe late game card draw IF it was an emergency.
Structural Collapse about two mana overpriced. Not a set filled with artifacts. Might be some use against 5 colour decks. That's about it.
Aerial Maneuver a functional reprint of Flying Leap without the dual mana cost. My problem with this, is that it would be very playable in a draft as emergency creature removal if it would just make it's mind up. +2/+2 and flying. I'd play it for a surprise flying attacker.  +2/+2 and first strike, would probably play it as a surprise first striking blocker. Giving it flying AND first strike counts against it unless you have the need for both and that's rare.