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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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Khans of Tarkir - Pre-Release

In West Abzan I was born and raised, in the tribe hall was where I spent most of my days.

I decided to start out with a Fresh Prince of Bell Air tribute because if we get one more Star Trek 2: Wrath of You-Know-Who reference I'd be tempted to maroon the offender on Ceti Alpha V.

First job then, deciding what clan to pick. With the clan abilities being Outlast, Prowess, Delve, Raid, and Ferocious. Decide which one is the best, then decide in addition, what other abilities from a clan that shares two colours with within that meld well with each other to make the best deck.

Outlast seemed to me to be by far the most powerful of those abilities within the limited sphere, but the best *two* effects in combination would likely be prowess and delve. Creatures getting +1/+1 until end of turn from sneaky combat tricks followed by exiling those combat tricks for under-cost card advantage or fatties seems legit. That would have meant a lot of colours as many as 5 but probably only 4 as the clans only have blue in common (delve is BUG, prowess is UWR) which is possible in sealed. I guess, but out of the question for draft which I'll be trying to get hints on during the event.

Deciding that in a perfect world I would be exiling removal spells rather than combat tricks I picked Abzan as my seeded tribe pack and trusted to luck to get some help with delve and see what I got from the packs.

Next, the 42 card deck. 22 spells, 18 lands. I wanted 18 lands but 45% of the deck being lands screamed mana flood. 43% seemed neater.

Creatures (12 is a bit low here but removal is a big part of the game and I want to reliably draw into it)

1 Abzan Battle Priest
1 Abzan Falconer
1 Alabaster Kirin
2 Dazzling Raparts
2 Disowned Ancestor
1 Mer-Ek Nightblade
1 Ruthless Ripper
1 Longshot Squad
1 Tuskguard Captain
1 Abzan Guide

No bombs opened as such in the creature department, but my all star cards here are the Battle Priest and the Abzan Guide. Life gain is super undervalued in limited. I know more than a few players who who say that life gain doesn't advance your board state or reduce your opponent's life therefore it is useless especially because of it's popularity and therefore association with new players so the desire to appear "pro" affects it too.

That said I have both won and lost a lot of limited games where the eventual winner turns 5 power worth of flyers sideways for four turns. I would never put a pure life gain card such as Feed the Clan in there. But a Highland Elk would see play as a value trade blocker in most G/x decks I would run, any creature with lifelink can turn a four turn clock into a seven or eight turn clock, giving you time to find answers such as my other all stars, Longshot Squad will give my creatures reach (Disowned Ancestors specifically) stopping my opponents turning 5 power flyers sideways for the win.

The creatures also contain a top secret deck tech. See if you can spot it...


2 Feat of Resistance
1 Bitter Revelation
2 Dead Drop
3 Throttle
1 Duneblast (The promo card for my seeded pack)
1 Utter End

So, while I got no bombs creature-wise I got plenty of bombs in the non creature department. Duneblast was my promo card and I was very happy to see it. Junk rare in standard. In limited it's an almost never too slow game changer. With this card in hand I play as defensively as possible, keeping creatures in hand and using other removal sparingly, complain loudly about drawing lands regardless of what I draw and try and get my opponents to over commit board presence, then spring it when they are low on cards in hand.

Utter end is simply a 1 for 1 problem solver. Don't like a thing? Shenanigans aside, it's gone. Dead drop makes an opponent sacrifice two creatures and throttle killed 3 Zurgo Helmsmashers, an Anafenza the Foremost, A Dragonformed Sakhan and whole host of flyers. Throttle gets shit done.



1 Suspension Field 
1 Abzan Banner

Not much in the way of excitement here, but a poor man's journey to nowhere and mana fixing/ramp. Plus emergency card draw. I like the banners more than the clue stones. Also suspension field won me a game by becoming a burn spell? I'll tell you about the best limited play I did that evening too.


2 Blossoming Sands (W/G refuge)
1 Jungle Hollow (B/G Refuge)
1 Sandstep Citadel (Azban Wedgeland)
1 Scoured Barrens (W/B Refuge)
1 Windswept Heath (W/G Fetchland)
1 Forest
3 Plains

8 Swamp

Crapton of excellent removal and  average creatures. I prefer it that way around. How did we do?

Match 1 Vs Abzan Warrior Raid (WBG)

Game 1 takes literally 30 minutes. I wasn't sure at the time if the decks don't run very fast or if he was taking a long time to make plays (I make decisions very quickly, even if I'm methodical with their explanations and slow play drives me insane), he plays creatures, I defend with an outlast team of creatures with +1/+1 counters on them with deathtouch and reach giving my opponent a headache over whether to attack or not. With him literally taking 5 minutes a turn to declare attacks or not. I take it eventually after two Dead Drops resolves in two turns.  Leaving his board wide open and I take it after fight through his 34 life thanks to that crocodile that lets you sacrifice creatures for life equal to their toughness.

Game 2 after a good 8 minutes of him agonizing over the side board (pro tip, if you ever lose game 1 of a match and it took 30 minutes, there are only 15 minutes left, don't spend 8 of them sideboarding) went to time. With an Abzan Guide on the board and duneblast in my hand with 7 mana untapped versus a pretty small flying army game me no incentive to try and expose myself to a counter attack so I sat back and defended, cast removal and waited out the clock. We went to turns and I was on 30 life. 1-0-1 Win

Match 2, Table 1 - Table of Champions. Vs Abzan Outlast (WBG)

The mirror match, everyone I can see along the top tables is playing either Mardu or Abzan. Are you ready for the top secret deck tech reveal? Cue epic music!

*needle scratch* "Dazzling Ramparts?" - You
Outlast creatures are powerless to resist looking and drooling at the ramparts almost everything else bounces off it. Tap the outlasting bastards in the opponent's upkeep step and they're basically worthless and hilarious for the rest of the game.

Game 1

Outlast creatures and removal from both sides trade for a while and then I settle in after drawing duneblast, I keep an Abzan Battle Priest in hand and switch to defensive mode. Casting an Abzan Falconer, while chump blocking with the rest of my team and get him to play out his hand postcombat main phase. He has five creatures on board, 16 life, 0 cards in hand and I'm on five life with one creature on deck but with 5 cards in hand.

I cast duneblast, outlast the falconer and pass turn. 

Next turn sees a land from my opponent. I cast the Battle Priest and swing with the 3/4 Falconer. The turn after I give a +1/+1 counter to the battle priest with feat of resistance and swing for 7 lifelink in the air to a concession.

Game 2

Sees me win the race for tempo only to have it taken away by a bellowing saddlebrute who sat irritatingly out of throttle range, then having my two biggest creatures throttled and suppression fielded by my opponent. I try and stabilize with a Mer-Ek Nightblade but with no way to give it a 1/1 counter without leaving me open to lethal I have to chump and then despite throttling the saddlebrute post combat damage couldn't stop the 2/3 flying vigilance Alabaster Kirin from swinging for lethal two turns later.

Game 3

Game 3 followed many of the same patterns of game two except I didn't draw a duneblast. I faked a misplayed bluff. Oh yes.

Sat on eight life staring down a decent but in his favour board with total power well enough to finish me off I decide to take a risk. I suppression fielded a saddlebrute early on and had a team of deathtouch creatures on board thanks to a Mer-Ek Nightblade, a Ruthless Ripper and a protected from black earlier in the game Alabaster Kirin and then I do a bit of maths. His life total - my total creature's power = 3.  There are no combination of blockers on the field to leave him lethal damage if he blocks at least one creature, the loss of power his side and the vigilance provided by the the Kirin would mean he couldn't kill me. This led me to believe he would let my creatures through this turn assume I am bluffing or have made a mistake and then swing in the red zone the turn after.

I swing with the team. One card in hand four mana open.

No blockers.

No shenanigans. I see my opponent relax. He moves his dice down to three.

Second main phase, cast utter end, exiling my own suppression field. Saddlebrute re-enters the battlefield. Trigger?

Match 2 Won 2-1. Overall record 3-1-1

Match 3, Table 1 - Table of Champions. Vs Mardu Warriors (WBR)

Game 1

I eventually take it in 20 minutes. It's another excruciatingly long game. But it really went on for 20 turns. I eventually did that thing that I do. Including casting throttle on Zurgo, Helmsmasher after he resolves you can be as indestructible as you like fella. I cast Bitter Revelation to draw into Dead Drop and Duneblast. That was pretty much game as I then started stockpiling cards in my hand looking to keep my life total above 0.  I get off duneblast keeping a morph creature (my Abzan Guide) alive and have the mana to flip him and attack the same turn (like I said, turn 20). I then follow that up with a dead drop to kill the two creatures my opponent played on his turn (I couldn't get him to over-commit on the board) and then he scooped.

Game 2

Game 2 I mulligan down down to six after a 2 land, no black sources, 2 dead drop opening hand which I jokingly reveal to my opponent, "Taking six is card advantage because right now my hand is five cards" referring to the two uncastable dead drops. "Just make sure you don't draw two dead drops this time" he said. How we laughed

Draw six. Two lands. Two dead drops. Fuck my luck. I decide that a swamp is a swamp, if I draw into defence I'll be alright and reveal my two dead drops for shits and giggles and keep anyway. Black source is super important.

This time, Zurgo meets his utter end after meeting, well, utter end. But it isn't enough, I go behind quickly and scoop well before lethal mindful of the time. Although I know for a fact when I had no creatures on board he was only played and attacked with one because he knew what was in my hand. Sneaky.

Game 3

This time I don't reveal the Duneblast, Dead Drop, Swamp, Dishonored Ancestor, Swamp, Plains, Abzan Banner hand I started with.

I start to slowly overwhelm the board, with three creatures. Alright, so not exactly overwhelming but when I keep throwing out one sided board wipes (enemy end step throttle into main phase dead drop is pretty hard to recover from) that old recipe for success of turning flyers sideways pays off and as a second dead drop resolves I swing in the air for five just as the timer goes off. We're in extra time turns.

I eventually squeak it in exturn 2 as he has no answer to flying beaters and calls it before my last turn after drawing two lands in extra time.

Match 3 won 2-1, overall result 5-2-1

Match 4 Table 1 - Table of Champions. Vs Mardu Raid (WBR)

Games 1 and 2

Very straightforward wins for both of these games. Early raid creatures do not have an answer to a 1/5 Dishonored Ancestor and then a 0/7 Dazzling Rampart.

Then it was a matter of waiting for flyers and flapping over for lethal over five turns. Or waiting for duneblast and walking over for 4 turns.

I was a little worried to see a Sarkhan, the dragonspeaker, but like most other creatures in these games he does not have an answer to throttle, where I had to politely explain that being indestructible doesn't save him from being a 0/0 creature.

Match 4 won 2-0, overall result 7-2-1

Match 5 Table 1 - Table of Champions. Vs Mardu Raid (GUR) THE FINAL

Game 1 I steamroll, and steamroll hard.

Turn 1, Ancestor, Turn 2 outlast him, turn three give him flying by casting the falconer, turn four, give him lifelink by casting the Battle Priest. Turn 5 outlast the falconer, give the battle priest a 1/1 counter from feat of resistance giving him flying and lifelink as a side benefit. Turn 6. a 1/5, 4/3 3/4 flying and lifelinking team on deck. I outlast the ancestor and swing for 7. It's over two turns later when I throttle the only flying blocker on his side.

Game 2 I get steamrolled. Nothing goes right, my land drops never come, my creatures are removed and he hit his a trail of mystery turn 2. Between that an flipping up 3/1 flyers and casting a 4/2 creature I have zero response. Trail of mystery is a really powerful card in this format I think. It's one to draft around I reckon. Draft it early and a ton of morph creatures? Thins out your deck, fewer dead draws. Surprise attacks. I like it.

Game 3

I suppose it had to happen at some point during the night. But in the deciding game three of the final is a massive anti-climax.

After three successive no land hands I mulligan down to four cards and STILL cannot draw a swamp I concede on turn 3 with one land in play.

Match 5 lost 2-1, overall result 8-4-1

To summarize.

Outlast is some good shit, but friends, my advice from this event is this. When draft season rolls around. Draft up every copy of throttle and duneblast you can find.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Magic: the Mathering M15 Draft day

Between a hectic schedule and one occasion of listening to the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack in the car on my way home from work and getting so emotional that I didn't want to leave the house, yesterday was my first attempt at drafting M15.

I went in knowing I'd face a fight over white and red because they seemed to have the power in the common cards that I was after.

After my research, triplicate spirits was the card I'd decided was the bomb and I was going to to try and force white because of it. M15
isn't teeming with good removal and this can realistically be played turn 4.

Raise the alarm was the other standout common. Instant speed 2 for 1. Tempo card advantage and combat trick all rolled into one.

So it begins. Pack one cracks and I find this:

 Pack 1, pick 1. Spirit Bonds. White flying creatures are relevant to my interests, this is a terrible late game draw but over the course of the draft could in theory add more value than it loses.

Pick 2 was raise the alarm. Loved that card in Mirrodin. Love it now

Pick 3 was devouring light, also known as the best damn removal in limited. 1WW instant with convoke, exile target attacking or blocking creature

Pick 4 saw me dip into red (in my opinion the second strongest colour in draft at the moment) for the red paragon. A cycle of 4 mana 2/2 creatures that give other creatures of their colour +1/+1 and have a relevant tap ability. I can pay R and tap to give another red creature I control haste.

 Pick 5 shows me an almost entirely blue, green and black pack. A meditation puzzle is the only white card, but it's terrible and the only red card is clear a path... I decided in the end to take a potentially game winning caustic tar. I couldn't rule out being forced into taking black if the rest of the table is drafting white and/or red. I think this guy is a limited bomb, even if he's 6 mana, even if he can't tap if you only have 6 lands. It has few ways to remove it and it is hard to stop. Not vulnerable to creature removal, no conditions needed to use it, just every end step of my opponent. Lose 3 life.

Pick 6 returned to me a card I was very pleased to see roll around. (We drafted in 2 pods of 6 because drafting in a pod of 12 is horrible.) A vanilla 3/2 creature in the form of Goblin Roughrider.

Pick 7 was a cheeky aura that I was surprised made it back around and made me feel better about going after red higher up. Inferno Fist.

The rest of pack one was mostly off colour choices. I'll take a playable off colour card (Zof Shade and Accured Spirit were both drafted for example) over an unplayable on colour card.

Pack 2 pick 1...

Aww yiss. Needed one for my fat aggro standard deck! I don't even care if I lose now. (Spoiler alert, it is lucky that I was feeling that way at the time)

Pick 2 from this pack yielded a Borderland Marauder. A 1R creature that is 1/2 but gets +2/+0 when attacking.

Pick 3 the aforementioned Triplicate Spirits. Feeling good about this draft I have to say. A little short on burn or other removal but I'll take it so far.

Pick 4 doesn't show me much. I take a 1/2 flying lifelink creature for 1W in the form of a Sungrace Pegasus.

Pick 5 is an Accured Spirit in case I really do have to splash black instead of red.

Pick 6 is a Soulmender. Early beats and free lifegain isn't bad I guess. Well, it's pretty bad, but it's not solely a lifegain card.

Pick 7 I snag a Thundering Giant, 4/3 haste seems good. Even if it is for 5 mana.

Pick 8 I grab Pillar of Light despite seeing absolutely zero creatures at toughness 4 or higher during the draft. Don't even know why I picked it. Printed in response to the inevitable rise of R/G monsters I guess. 

Pick 9 I got very lucky and Constricting Sliver found it's way back into my hands. This is Angelic Edict on a 3/3 body. Not perfect but I think it has uses.

The rest of the pack yielded nothing I wanted.

Pack 3 Pick 1

Clearly the fates wanted me to play white today. Especially when my second pick in this pack went to...

Pick 2 Another Devouring Light... it's not quite as good as the Dragon's maze draft where I pulled 3 Warleader's Helix spells in the first 4 picks but I was starting to think I might do alright.

Pick 3 was a nice card to get. Miner's Bane a 6 mana creature 6/3 but with the ability to pay 2R and give it +1/+0 and trample.

Pick 4 Was a Heliod's Pilgrim, a 1/2 creature that when it ETB lets me tutor an aura to my hand. Not much in the way of other good choices but if nothing else it would let me tutor up the Inferno Fist.

Pick 5 A second Inferno Fist. I love it when a plan comes together.

Pick 6 reminded me that I had picked very few, if any combat tricks. (You can argue Devouring Light is a combat trick technically) The right combat trick in limited is the same as a removal spell and I think they're underrated. Regardless, I took the Sanctified Charge. Even if it is over priced by 1 or 2.

Pick 7 Razorfoot Griffin won me many a game in 7th edition and it makes me really happy to see they kept the same flavour text, because it's quite witty.

Pick 8 was rubbish I wasn't going to use

Pick 9 was another Roughrider. Hoo-rah!

The rest was tat.

So my first match I won 2-0 in about 10 seconds as I danced up the curve both times, game two being the most brutal, as he was flooded with mind sculpts grindclock and tomorod's crypts (1 opening hand and the first two draws)

T1: Soulmender
T2: Borderland Marauder (Opponent on 19)
T3: Inferno Fist (Opponent on 13)
T4: Ajani  (Opponent on 6 Me on 26)
T5: Thundering Giant for the win. 

My opponent actually resolved a Nissa on game 1, but it was a bit too slow to help.

Second match was a mirror match, again it was Ajani that squeaked me through to win 2-1 making my razorfoot griffin vigilant and lifelinking. Lifelink is super difficult to deal with in limited.

Match three I don't want to talk about. But I have to because it's important not to forget stuff like this.

Against a well put together red/black list. To start out I had to mulligan to five (still only with one land) which lost me a long game one. I managed to scrape out game two thanks to Ajani and then in game three made the stupidest misplay I've made in a while, leaving myself defenseless in a suicide attack when my opponent had lethal damage on the board.

I was hoping to attack with my team of 1/1 white weenies and trick my opponent into thinking I was trying to sneak in extra damage at the expense of creatures. Then when he blocked I would ambush him with sanctified charge, the result of which would have been a one sided board wipe. (He had flyers and I couldn't execute this maneuver on the defensive.) Instead when he declared no blockers and I realized I was an idiot I conceded on the spot.

Match four was worse.

Game 1, no white lands.

Game 2, no red lands, mulligan to 6, no red lands. (still managed to win this one though)


Welp, sometimes it doesn't matter how often you shuffle, Fukuov, God of the Trolls doesn't listen to your prayers. People never complain when their opponent gets mana screwed so you just have to accept that part of the game is the inherently ambiguous nature of the randomized card drawing and deal with it. 

So not complaining.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Magic: The Mathering - FNM Standard W/B Fatgro

Rotation is coming!


Well, maybe, I for one will be glad to see the back of both pack rat and mutavault. I am a little saddened by the departure of the shock lands but frankly rotation is a good time to speculate on cards for modern, I'll be snaffling some shocks for myself the day after they're not standard legal.

My other tip for speculation, knowing what flavour the next will be is preeminent captain. I'm telling you, he will be bringing down the beats in an aggro-centric set near you soon.

Anyway, speaking of aggro, I've been testing and running with an aggro deck of my very own, it's not pure aggro, naturally, there are aspects of combo in there because that's how I roll, or rather, stutteringly travail. But it was built it before M15 came out with rotation in mind and so hasn't been updated much since. The thing is, I really, really, really like Athreos.

Main deck

4 x Gnarled Scarhide
4 x Tormented Hero

4 x Spiteful Returned
4 x Underworld Coinsmith

4 x Master of the Feast
4 x Herald of Torment
4 x Read the Bones
4 x Hero's Downfall
3 x Athreos, God of Passage

2 x Blood Baron of Vizkopa
1 x Obzedat, Ghost Council

4 x Temple of Silence
4 x Caves of Koilos
6 x Plains
7 x Swamp
1 x Godless Shrine


4 Plains (I know, I hadn't worked out the SB yet)
4 Devour Flesh
4 Odunos River Trawler
3 Swamp (ahem)

One land drops look for two damage on turn two.

At two lands coinsmith is another 2 power threat, relevant constellation abilities from a host of enchantment creatures and a potential finisher with his ability. The spiteful returned is my favourite card in the deck, no mana, no fuss, just lose two life because he's attacking.

A massive range of options await if I hit my third land drop. Athreos means I will attack into almost any board state with Spiteful Returned and to a lesser extent the Gnarled Scarhide. The master of the feast is a 5/5 flyer for three mana. I'm OK with letting an opponent draw on my turn for that.

As an aside the idea of bestowing a herald of torment on a tormented hero is just too flavourful to pass up.

The deck is a little busy around CMC 3, at 4 lands is where I try to restock my hand, downfall a threat, overload the board with another flying fatty or bestow the spiteful returned.

Turn 5 is where the big guns come down, a Blood Baron or Obzedat is usually met with a sigh and a win a turn later, especially if that activates Athreos. Once opponent life totals start to get around single digits, people don't want to leave themselves open but they'll find themselves losing two a turn from the coinsmith.

Notes on my standard performance, the deck was piloted to a 3-1 second place. (Promo Bile Blight FTW) Handily beating a Phenax U/B mill deck, a mono black Waste Not deck and R/G monsters and losing by the narrowest of a top decked lightning strike to a very creative Hornet Nest deck, it revolved around creatures with deathtouch and fight effects. Doesn't matter if you sneak out a 5/5 flyer on turn 3 if it fights a Sedge Scorpion before it can attack. Although I don't like green flyers from a flavour perspective you can't argue with results.

Anyway, my deck, along with everyone's deck will change in a few weeks but only the top end will be affected. I quite like how rotation ready the deck is.

So, Blood Barons are out, Obzedat is out and the devour flesh from the SB is out. Also coming out are the Read the Bones, a card which I like, but really found that I would rather spend the three mana on threats rather than digging for threats, but I have a like for like improvement in the wings.

Main deck post rotation plans.

4 x Gnarled Scarhide
4 x Tormented Hero
4 x Soldier of the Pantheon

4 x Spiteful Returned
4 x Underworld Coinsmith

4 x Master of the Feast
4 x Herald of Torment
3 x Hero's Downfall

3 x Athreos, God of Passage

2 x Ajani Steadfast
2 x Whip of Erebos

4 x Temple of Silence
4 x Caves of Koilos
5 x Plains
7 x Swamp
2 x Nomad Outpost


4 x Bile Blight
4 x Sign in Blood
2 x Erebos, God of the Dead
1 x Whip of Erebos
3 x Indulgent Tormentor
1 x Hero's Downfall


Ajani Steadfast -  Now this guy I'm not convinced about, I saw he curves into my deck at four mana. His +1 and -2 abilities are both very relevant. So I'm going to try him I think.

I like lifelink against burn, I like +1/+1 counters against just about everything else. His ultimate is nice but as with most walkers, not relevant, I should have won the game by then or died trying.

He's a bit too "nice" and will likely be the first casualty when sideboarding. Perhaps even moving to the board himself but a turn three Master of the Feast becoming a 6/6 vigilance, flying, first striking, lifelinking behemoth is a massive swing if he can attack on turn four and that is something I can get behind.

Soldier of the Pantheon - An aggressive 1 drop that I can't believe I didn't use the first time around. Strictly better on defense than the other two thanks to protection multicoloured, which I see becoming more relevant soon.

Whip of Erebos - Lifelinking my fat flyers will put me out of reach against a lot of threats and let me pay life to the coinsmith with reckless abandon. Bringing back a Master of the Feast from the graveyard for a turn with no drawback is also a very good play.

Sign in Blood - Or rather, side in blood. A-ha! How droll. It's in the board and it's draw two cards, lose two life. Boss. But I can hear the cries of "hold on Mather, didn't you just say that you'd rather draw threats than draw a card to dig for threats?" A tiny, key difference (aside from the double black mana cost) is that SIB is target player. Making it a potential finisher when least expected. 1 mana cheaper, good utility, ambush victory, frees up a 3 slot that was overcrowded.

Bile Blight - Additional removal won't hurt. Might be needed in the new set too.

Erebos - Opponents can't gain life. Good. 1B: pay two life draw a card. Good. The key here? An indestructible 4 mana, 5/7 beater? That's actually pretty good as well.

Indulgent Tormentor - If he was 4 mana this guy is a 4 of. As it stands he costs five, so he can sit in the sideboard instead. Most of the time he is card advantage, but if my opponent pays the life or sacrifices a creature than plays into my plan just as well.

Nomad Outpost - If these stay in, between them and the temples I'll have six lands ETB tapped, I need to work out if that will slow me down too much. I fear it will and these will become mana confluences thanks to lifelink from Ajani and the Whip. 9 Turn one sources of white mana for Soldier of the Pantheon isn't quite enough.

Then it's just a matter of digging around Khans and seeing what they have in the way of big stuff for cheap.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Magic: the Mathering - Conspiracy

If you didn't already know, CONSPIRACY is the new multiplayer oriented, draft shenanigan, magic the gathering summer "we can't support planechase now that commander outsells it by miles" release.

I can only imagine the arousal felt by the bean counters when some lucky and probably recently promoted scamp came up with mechanics that are fun, but only work in drafts, therefore encouraging people to buy more packs specifically to draft with. 

On the whole, drafting and playing with a multiplayer set is a metric shit-ton of fun. I had a blast each time it's happened. The set itself is a little bit disappointing when you look at the cards that you got afterwards, but you can't have a set with entirely bombs. Doesn't work like that. 

That said however there aren't really many standout cards for standard or modern and I don't really play vintage or legacy but if the internet is to be believed there's stifle which is as good a set as any to reprint it without it leaking into standard/modern and exploration but that's about it. Even a card that gets people super excited, Swords to plowshares has had a non-standard reprint in a duel deck not so long ago, so it's not quite the same effect (although it remains a very good card) players picked up their play set of StP at the same time they picked up their play set of Elspeth Knight-Errant. 

So how does the set play then? 

For me it's all about the politics and the negotiations. Summed up by this card.

Example of how I used this card. 


"Can you lend me one mana?" 

"To cast that rousing of souls I've just seen you draw from your PREVIOUS rousing of souls that I now know is the target for your double stroke that just gave you five 1/1 flyers?"


"Hmm, that would be a problem, but I would like to draw two cards... The spirit tokens you create with it are not allowed to attack me."

"Ooh, deal!"

"Tap spectral searchlight, choosing you."


I would heartily recommend anyone with a regular group of friends that play magic, chip in for a box and draft the ever-loving crap out of this set. It's worth it just for the shenanigans and the conspiracy cards are absolutely worth it if you are looking to build a multiplayer cube of any kind.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Magic: the Mathering - The Genesis Deck

I was all set to write you up a report on the Modern Pauper tournament I was in yesterday but having played the games I am distinctly uninspired.

Part of it is that I went 2-2 as usual and didn't accomplish much of note, part of it is the fact I was running infect which doesn't lead to epic battles of strategy; it either wins in 2-6 turns or it loses and perhaps the most important part is that the fact that modern pauper, as opposed to legacy pauper, isn't really that much fun. 

Standard pauper is fine because the meta is quite varied. Legacy pauper is great, because back in the day Magic designers didn't think it through properly. But modern pauper just feels like shit tier legacy pauper however I slice it. The deck loses Rancor and Lotus Petal, I had to play extra land and Predator's strike as my only source of trample. A massive power drop and the source of one of my match losses. 

I have a good modern infect deck and an improved version of the Phil Collins Deck for legacy pauper (the Phil Collins now has Groundswell and a full set of Vines of Vastwood.) So I looked around and cobbled together this version for modern.

The Genesis Deck  

Instant (27)

4x Apostle's Blessing
4x Predators Strike
4x Groundswell
4x Rangers Guile
3x Mutagenic Growth
4x Giant Growth
4x Vines of Vastwood

Creatures (16)

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

Land (17)

17x Forest

Sideboard (15)

4x Fog
2x Viridian Longbow

2x Corpse Cur
4x Hornet Sting
3x Hunger of the Howlpack

Alright, lets at least try for some analysis (thinking...) Alright, that is going to be crap, there's no depth, you can't analyze "didn't draw enough creatures" for very long. I'll instead try to focus on the decks of my opponents instead to see if you get some ideas.

Match 1 2-1 Win vs White/Black Exalted

Some good stuff in here. Tormented Soul and exalted creatures forms the basis of the deck. Pillory of the Sleepless adds more defense. Not much to dislike. I lost game 1, by not drawing enough creatures and then I won games two and three by drawing enough creatures... Ugh. I never hated playing as infect until I started reporting on their games. One dimensional much?

Match 2 0-2 Loss vs Mono red

This was a match I lost because I didn't read the cards. Leaving a Glistener Elf back to block a flying creature in game 1 then in game two, I drew my creatures but had no answer to the 27 burn spells cast in response to my protection/hexproofing. Impetuous Sunchaser was the major damage dealer on both occasions.

Match 3 - 1-2 loss to mono black control.

Against my good friend John who I tried and failed to convince to run four undying evil in the deck still beat me handily. Game one I kept a god hand and pumped my way to 10 counters in turn 5. Game 2 we both had to mulligan twice, but we opted to draw seven instead, games two and three took a similar pattern. We traded for a while, his removal against my creatures, but eventually a Chittering Rats went through unblocked to allow Okiba-Gang Shinobi to hit. Sat with a rapidly diminishing hand knowing I was about to draw a card I didn't need all I could do was wait and discard two more cards. 

With an empty hand and terrible board position I conceded. If I cast the top decked creature, it would get removed. If I kept it in hand to wait for a protection spell, it would be discarded to the Okiba-Gang.


Watch 4 - 2-1 win vs G Infect 

It's a mirror match basically. He was running extra lands including swamps for his only black card, plague stinger. 

The rest of it was basically my deck with plague stingers instead of Rot Wolf. My sideboard won me the second and third games, in came Fog, Hornet Sting and Hunger of the Howlpack (anti infect +1/+1 counter tech ) allows me to trade with other infect creatures to an extent. Out came Rangers Guile, Vines of the Vastwood and Rot Wolf.

I'll be dissolving this deck back into the modern/legacy pauper version. I won't be playing Modern Pauper again unless I'm really inspired. Phil Collins has left Genesis once again.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Magic: the Mathering - The Robert Llewellyn Deck

Standard last night. I went 2-2. With two fairly convincing wins, one utter blowout loss and one interesting match that might have gone differently with more practice and a better memory.

The Robert Llewellyn Deck (Scrapheap Challenge)

24 Lands

4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Blood Crypt
1 Temple of Malice
7 Forest
6 Swamp
3 Mountain

25 Creatures

4 Gladecover Scout
4 Lotleth Troll
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Witchstalker
4 Dreg Mangler
3 Varolz, the Scar Striped
1 Desecration Demon

1 Polukranos, World Eater

10 Others

2 Abrupt Decay
4 Golgari Charm
3 Whip of Eberos
2 Slaughter Games


4 Dark Betrayal
3 Eye Gouge
1 Ultimate Price
2 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Slaughter Games
1 Savageborn Hydra


Let's talk about the basic combos and synergies that the deck has.

Creatures that are either hexproof (Gladecover Scout and Witchstalker) creatures that regenerate (Lotleth Troll and Varolz himself) plus scavenge through Varolz or Dreg mangler = Big creatures and things like golgari charm that reads counter target boardwipe/removal creatures that won't go away,backed up by either a big demon or big hydra which I should really run more of, but you know, cheap. Good CMC:Power ratio for Varolz's scavenging abilities too.

I will also mention once again that Slaughter Games is my favourite card ever printed.

So. How did we do?

Match 1 - Rakdos Aggro

Game 1

I never got going in this game. Mulligan to six on the play, turn three Slaughter Games whiffed looking for four desecration demons that were not there. Sad trombone. I stabilize and held off a little with a Lotleth Troll and a Sylvian Caryatid but then I'm in top deck mode. Two lands and a golgari charm don't advance my win conditions and his Herald of Torment that has Madcap Skillz flies through to end it quickly

Much sideboarding. +4 Dark Betrayal, +1 Ultimate price, -1 Varolz -1 Gladecover Scout -2 Slaughter games -1 Whip

Game 2

I decide to draw, I have more answers to aggro and I hate to mulligan.

My opponent plays out a turn 1 Tormented Hero, followed by a turn 2 madcap skills. That's the kind of draw you hope to see as an aggro player. My turn I decided to use the golgari charm -1/-1 ability and banish them both. His next turn see an unleashed cackler and I drop it's arch nemesis, the dreaded Sylvan Caryatid. We race for a little but I take it after getting him to run into some favourable trading blocks before regenerating my team with the golgari charm and then Lotleth Trolls roll though to finish. Discard a Desecration Demon to Lotleth Troll pay 2BB to scavenge six counters for a total of 9/8, move to attack phase.

Game 3

My opponent decides to play. Fine by me. Turn 1 Rakdos Cackler, unleashed. I reply with a gladecover scout. Turn 2 see another tormented hero and another cackler but I am bought time by another Caryatid.Turn 3 sees me drop a 3/3 Witchstalker and have one black mana floating for dark betrayal.Good board position. Confident.

His turn sees no additional creatures and attacks with his team. I betray the Tormented Hero and the Witchstalker and Caryatid blocks a cackler each. Opponent decides to magma jet me for 2 when he realises Witchstalker is hexproof. Suggests a misplay.

My turn comes around and I drop a dreg mangler, swinging for 6. The turn after he plays another Herald of Torment. My turn comes around and with mana open for either a golgari charm or ultimate price I decide to drop the whip and swing with everyone to a concession.

Match 2 vs Orzhov Control

Game 1

I dropped my oppoent's life total down to 10, through a combination of Lotleth Troll and Dreg Manglers but his Lifebane Zombies and Thoughtseize's did their job and I was then in top deck mode. Bile blight took care of my Lotleth Trolls and I had no answer to Obzedat and Elspeth who went ultimate with 8 soldiers on the battlefield.

Game 2

Sideboard +2 Slaughter Games -2 Golgari Charm

Really struggled in this game too. Poor match up for this deck I think. His sideboard had been put to work bringing in Blood Baron which, with it's lifelink and protection black I really have a hard time with. A combination of his Desecration Demons, Lifebane Zombies and Thoughtseizes ripped out my hand but not before I abrupt decayed his underworld connections. Bought my self one last turn for some top deck wonder draws by using a golgari charm to drop his attacking 6/6 demon by -1/-1 while on 6 life. Play of the day if it worked.

It didn't work.

Match 3 vs Boros Burn.

Game 1

Win the roll but choose to draw, predictably I mulligan to six, but on the draw not terrible, might actually switch to choosing to draw in the standard format. I just like the versatility to aggressively mulligan that extra draw gives me.

I hold off for a while but couldn't draw enough creatures. Opening hand of three lands a creature, a golgari charm and abrupt decay is keeper when you draw six, but a never ending stream of land and Golgari charms didn't back up my early Caryatid and Dreg Mangler and I lost to a Stormbreath Dragon going monstrous.

Game 2

+1 Ultimate Price -1 Gladecover Scout

I was 1 point away from winning. A turn 3 slaughter games thanks to a Caryatid ripped out his Stormbreath Dragons. Nice to see an $80 playset sat in exile from a 50 cent rare. I lost to combination of Ash Zealots with bestowed Everflame Eidolons and a pair of Flame-Wreathed Phoenix. I had the whip out but got beaten for pace.

A mistake in attacking meant I attacked into a reckoner with the intention of trading even with it's first strike but didn't take into account regenerating a creature removes it from combat so I couldn't kill the reckoner or block with my creature afterwards either. A poor move and it cost me ultimately the match.

Match 4 - Dimir Mill-ish

Game 1

Both of us were 1-2 at this point so the game was fairly relaxed. As I discovered his deck was based around Duskmantle Guildmage and various "free" ways to mill. I really got a kick out of it, I related in that it was a difficult archetype and the poor chap had banked on at least some non-control type decks.

We proceed slowly, I resolve creatures, he resolves walls. He gets Jace, Memory adept to stick with Duskmantle Guildmage in play and then the next turn mills/pings me for ten. A Wall of Frost slows me down a little but I eventually resolve a Desecration Demon and beat face with it and two Lotleth Trolls and a dreg mangler for the win.

Game 2

I lost by drawing from an empty deck is the short version. Phenax, God of Deception gets on line with a Wall of frost and Ashiok in play and I start to lose 17 cards in my end step. Hero's Downfall hits a couple of my big creatures including Polukranos and I lose in quick order.

Game 3

Game three played right into my hands and I kept an opening hand with two Varolz. Predictiably the Jace mill 10 came up and dumped some power into my graveyard. By that time I had good board position and a Whip of Eberos resolved. I then cast Varolz, and scavenged a Desecration Demon onto a Lotleth Troll already in play. Wall of Frost has no answers. The turn after I scavenged two Dreg Manglers (For 1BG each thanks to Varolz) onto a Witchstalker and a Gladecover Scout and was swinging for lethal a turn later when I saved a dark betrayal, an ultimate price AND an abrupt decay to remove three blockers.

The end result is that it's a lot of fun to play with. 5/4 Lotleth Trolls are normally poor use of your cards especially if they get blown up, but if you can bring the discarded cards with either the whip or Varolz's scavenge then you get the extra utility. If I were a rich man I'd actually swap things around a litte I missed the link between bloodrush and scavenge. I'd find space for 2 of Xenagos, God of Revels and 4 Ghor-Clan Rampager or Scorchwalker probably at the expense of the Witchstalkers and the Slaughter Games.