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