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, 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.