Here’s the Back to School promo:
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by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos
In the last few weeks a lot of you have probably played some M13 limited format, be it Draft or Sealed. I believe it’s probably the best limited experience for a Core Set in a long time. Ok, ok…since foreeeeeeevvvvveeeeerrrr!
They got rid of a few things that people did not enjoy. One thing I noticed was there are no more creatures that tap other creatures. I think this is definitely a step in the right direction as these little guys were a little too good last Core Set.
The set feels a little more dynamic, but then again that’s normal as it is fairly fresh. Here are a few of the ‘combos’ I have observed while playing M13 Limited:
Intrepid Hero is already a really decent creature in this format and it becomes much much better with these 3 effects that allow you to give an offensive boost to opposing creatures and blow them up. Even outside of this combo, all cards involved are fully playable on their own as well.
All Shock Land returning to Return to Ravnica aside, these land-dependant creatures are all very decent in M13 limited. A lot of people will notice you are trying to pull a fast one on them when making a sketchy block/attack but all you need to do is fool just a couple and it would have all been worth it.
Things is, a lot more people will overlook the uncracked Evolving Wilds than you think. A lot of players will not even pay attention to what mana you have open most of them time as well. It might just be worth leaving it open unless of course, it’s preventing you from casting other necessary cards.
This guy was very criticized when he was spoiled and I remember people saying that he would be horrible in limited and so forth.
Are you kidding me?
He provides a constant recycling of all your enter the battlefield creatures, my favorite 2 being Elvish Visionary and Mwonvuli Beast Tracker . He gives your green deck that extra value or oomph! It oftentimes needs.
There is the unfortunate event that he is your only creature in play at the beginning of your upkeep and you have to return him to hand. That’s probable, but wouldn’t you still be in trouble if it was any other green creature (save maybe Elderscale Wurm).
Not an exciting one I know. Think of it as an ever-recurring blocker or regenerating blocker for 5 mana. It’s sometimes necessary to do, cute and nice to know it’s an available option.
Also, it’s already regrowthing an unsummon that was used on something relevant. So it’s already a good bonus. He can also block pesky 1/1 tokens all day and not die. For the cost, I think Archaeomancer is a pretty neat card overall.
Unsummon is has not been too great for me, but it gains a lot of value if your opponent is playing a few Auras and/or Removal. It will either make your opponent lose a card trying to buff his guy or destroy yours.
Arms Dealer is always one of my favorite reasons to play Red in limited. If I ever get 2 in my draft pool or sealed pool, I try really hard to play them.
Obviously, Arms Dealer is always good with just about any goblin. You can just do neater things if you sacrifice a Golbin Aronist since it will split 4 and 1 damage respectively. This in turn allows you to kill a 5/5 or a 1/1 and something else.
For those of you who are not aware, Arms Dealer is actually a reprint from Mercadian Masques. Weird huh? At the time, there were very few goblins to even use his ability with. In M13 draft, you should have no problem picking some up. A lot of my draft decks with him have had about 8-10 goblins or goblin token producers.
Battle of Wits + 200 or so lands
– Don’t do it!!!
– No, not even for a few laughs
– Just say NO!
I think it’s tough enough to actually have a proper constructed deck with this, what with all the shuffling and all. Are you really going to waste your time sleeving 200+ cards? Even without the sleeves, you better hope your shop and the other players don’t mind you grabbing up all the lands at the Land Station.
This is a classic limited combo as of late. It’s simple and pretty efficient and can provide some 2 for 1’s if you steal something like an opposing Nefarox, attack alone and make them sacrifice a creature and then sacrifice Nefarox to Bloodthrone Vampire.
Bloodthrone Vampire is actually pretty decent on her own sometimes to dissuade an opponent from attacking with more creatures than he should.
Putting an enchantment on a creature is not really a combo per se. However, being able to consistently attack for 4 damage as of turn 2 on top of the possibility of putting your opponent on a 5 turn clock … Now that, that’s a combo!
I rarely recommend playing Auras in limited or otherwise, but this one is too good to pass up. Tormented Soul for those who haven’t played much M13 limited yet, is actually also pretty awesome with the exalted mechanic. Send him over to beat down your opponent while your exalted dudes hold down the fort.
I am aware that this one involves 2 Rare cards so it’s a bit more difficult to have in your Draft/Sealed pool. It’s not a complicated one, but it’s chock full of awesome! Sac the Thragtusk to gain 5 more life on top of the 5 you gained when it entered the battlefield. You net 5 cards and a 3/3 beast in the process.
These 2 cards are really good on their own as well, but I don’t think I have to tell you guys that.
It’s a rather obvious one, I know. Also great with some Mind Sculpts.
A draft/sealed deck is only 40 cards, minus the initial 7 card handsize + whatever amounts of cards were drawn. 3 Jace Mills should always do it. If not (Elixir of Immortality) , it’s nice to know you can have a hefty 5/5 flyer for 1 mana finish the job.
Kindled Fury is probably the best ‘bluff’ card red has too. If you keep one red mana up, most people will just think ‘Shock’ then think ‘wait, there is no Shock in M13’. This can often times allow you to down one of their slightly bigger guys and save yours. Not a flashy card, but it gets the job done.
Probably a must if you drafted a mill strategy. Pretty self-explanatory. Deadly efficient.
There are no other ways to give flying to an opposing creature. If you are in a situation where you would have to take out a non-flyer, by all means give this combo a shot.
Again, as with the Intrepid Hero combo earlier on, both card are decent enough to be use separately.
What? An offensive use of Archaeomancer? Surely this is a joke? Nope, it’s pretty legit. Even scarier with the next card.
Talrand is seeing some Standard play and it’s not totally unsurprising. With the amount of phyrexian mana costs from New Phyrexia (some costing 0 if you opt to pay the 2 life), this little merfolk can generate an army all by himself. His value in your deck definitely goes up if you managed to also draft a Talrand’s Invocation.
‘Grizzly Bears’ with an upside. Ok,ok, most Grizzlies get an upside these days. It’s not too hard to get 3+ sometimes while drafting. Obviosuly the value of each wolf increases each time you play another, giving you a better reason to ‘swarm’ the field with them.
Is there anything Trading Post can’t do? Well, actually, a few things.
Generate enough tokens and give this little guy some value as you sac them to retrieve lost artifacts. You can even have a draw-discard-regrowth engine going with Rummaging Goblin.
Ah yes, the ‘dream’ than one must try to live at least once. If you can envision a situation where you will get to the 9-mana range and you happen to be playing red, give it a shot.
There’s also the small fact that it doesn’t have to be YOUR Oblivion Ring. Say you have a Chandra or whatever that you know your opponent is going to Oblivion Ring, try it out. The game might go long and this might be the ‘I win’ card. Everything will go bye bye, including the Oblivion Ring, thus bringing back your creature or planeswalker to win you the game on the following turn.
Until next time, have fun drafting M13 at your local hobby store !
by Ronald Be
Hi guys, I’ll offer you my personal take on cards in a limited context. I’ll first start off with White since it’s my favorite color. I didn’t add any grades for the cards because I feel that cards have variable grades and that it ultimately depends on the kind of deck that you have. Also the information given encompasses both Sealed and Draft since I don’t have enough experience with the set to give out precise details on those contexts.
Planeswalkers are generally going to be good. A good Planeswalker needs to affect the board and Ajani makes your creature bigger. Check!
A good Planeswalker provides extra utility. Ajani gives Flying and Double Strike. Check!
A good Planeswalker scares the hell out of you if it Ultimates. Ajani gives you an army of Cats. Check!
This is comparable to Child of Night. It has an extra toughness at the cost of a more color intensive mana cost. This also gets the boost from the exalted mechanic in this set.
Don’t even try to play this. I would play any other card on this list over Angel’s Mercy. It doesn’t affect anything on the board. Hell, I wouldn’t play this even if I had 4 Rhox Faithmender in my deck.
Good way to push damage through versus creature-light decks. Personally, I don’t like this card much because it doesn’t provide the body that a creature with exalted would give you, but it does have some utility if you’re planning to attack with only one creature.
I have to say that I like this card a lot. It provides so much for so little. You get two bodies; it can fit in control and aggressive decks. This is a card that I will never cut from my decks, Ever.
It’s A bird… It’s A plane… Oh wait, it’s really a bird, and one worth playing. This avian creature has multiple uses. It’s an early relevant drop that has evasion and stays useful throughout the game. The only thing this bird doesn’t do well is block.
This is a functional reprint from Shards of Alara and it can fit two kind of decks: an aggressive one or a green-based ramp style kind of deck to fly your fatties over the enemy border.
One word: Bomb.
Even more in this set since it feature quite a bunch of Soldier creatures.
Sure this is no Lingering Souls but for a Core Set, it can pack quite a punch. It combos well with other cards such as Griffin Protector, Crusader of Odric or if you’re really lucky: Sublime Archangel.
It can also substitute as life for more controlling decks.
Worst case scenario: you get a 1/1 for 2W. Best case, you get Tarmogoyf by turn 3-4.
It really saddens me that this card is not as playable as it was with the last Core Set. They didn’t reprint Auramancer, so this greatly reduces its value. I would side it in against aggressive decks and that’s about it.
This card is playable but I prefer Oblivion Ring and Pacifism over this since it doesn’t require you to leave mana open during your opponent’s turn. However, removal is still removal. I wouldn’t play too many of these though…
Play this card if you feel Rancor for your opponent.
I would rank this lower than Safe Passage for two reasons:
the mana cost is higher AND damage is still dealt to you.
You need lots of creatures, else don’t play it.
I really like this card, it can work very well with some other cards like Fungal Sprouting or Captain’s Call. Generally, it’ll attack for three but it can stay on defense if needed since it does have three toughness.
You could potentially rub against them since they are not going to bite neither you nor your opponents. I have to say they do have big butts for lions.
This is one butt I can get behind. Not only does it provide an early defense against aggression but it also gives a boost for your own attacker.
This guy can give your opponent quite a headache if they are the beatdown. Not only does he stop a number of creatures from attacking you, but he also gains you back the life you lost.
It keeps your opponent’s fatties in check. This is great for letting your own fatties through since they won’t have any to block yours.
Solid card, better casting cost than White Knight and can attack for an extra point of damage.
I don’t have to tell you guys to pick this card and for which reasons.
He has a nice body for the mana cost and he also has First Strike. He doesn’t always activate his second ability, but when he does, ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
See Oblivion Ring.
It’s okay for a 23rd card but it’s not exciting to play a Giant Spider without Reach.
I will always include this card in my deck. Just make sure you don’t have any Oblivion Ring on your side of the table. (Or if you do, that it targets your own permanent)
Regard this as a Canyon Minotaur that can have a bigger body with Trample.
A good Sideboard card against one toughness decks.
I don’t know how to rate this card. It’s a good defensive card.It stops most ground creatures.
The life doubling effect is not really relevant however, in my opinion.
This card makes life so much easier! You simply don’t have to think about combat math anymore. If someone attacks you in a non-profitable way, he (or she) probably has this card under their sleeve.
Sizeable body with evasion, ’nuff said.
I did not have any good experience with this card. At times, I was simply staring at it in my hand, wondering why the hell I added this card to my deck. Other times, it was simply a moderately fat a** that couldn’t get through any damage because my opponents simply chumped her.
Regard this as a smaller version of Serra Angel that can be played a turn earlier.
I like having at least one combat trick in my deck, so that way it leaves my opponent always guessing if I have such a card or not.
23rd card. It’s an okay filler if you need to reduce your curve otherwise I would avoid playing it.
This card basically has haste if you have at least one other creature in play. It has a nice body, a nice price too, so snatch this up if you see it in a draft simply for value.
Let’s consider the worst case scenario. You have 6 lands in play and you can’t cast this.
I kid. Imagine if you cast this with 7 lands in play, this means your life total will become at least 8 during your next upkeep. This is not too bad and your life total will simply go higher and higher as turns go by, I wouldn’t include this in aggressive decks because of the cost but mid-range and control decks can make good use of such a card.
With around 10 Soldiers and Knights in M13, I would not take this early, but if you do end up with a good number of those creatures, I would say around 8 to 10 sources in your deck, I would play this.
by Sebastien Owens
The standard metagame today looks pretty healthy, even though we were all in doubt for a bit during the great Delver invasion (pre- M13). Plenty of decks are a viable choice for those who wants to play something different.
Most people have realized that there are plenty of answers to the Delver decks. With that realization, Naya Pod and Esper midrange decks have been putting up great results. Faithless Rites won the last TCGplayer platinum 5k event.
With that said, there might be one problem with this diversity. It’s not that the format isn’t very diverse. In my opinion: it’s more like something is missing. The format is filled with aggressive, midrange and tempo decks. Now if you’re like me (a control junkie) you must have been asking yourself: “Where the heck are the control decks?” Apart from Solar Flare having making appearances ,no other control deck has been cutting it. What is keeping the control decks from making a break for gold?
Let’s try and see why, let’s make a trip back in time … all the way back when Dark Ascension was released.
Some of us might remember U/B control being the best control deck when Dark Ascension came out. How times have changed! I remember playing that deck and thinking it was the most fun I’ve had in a while. I mean, the amount of times that deck put me in what I like to call “the zone”( you know, when you’re in a kind of bubble/state of mind that you don’t care about whatever your opponent will do because you just know you have answers for just about anything he can do) is insane.
Add to that, the fact that you usually won by milling out your opponent was loads of fun. I remember playing a version without any creatures at all and my only win conditions being Jace, Memory Adept and Nephalia Drownyard. This allowed me to have tons of space for yet more answers for their threats as well as making their creature removal spells rather useless. However, suddenly (well not really suddenly, metagames don’t shift thatquickly) (Editor’s Note: Wanna bet?) U/B control became worse and worse in Standard.
Why is that?
Well, you see, with the same set that brought U/B Control to the spotlight, it also brought one of the most annoying abilities for control decks: Undying.
Undying, the ‘inverted’ persist mechanic, brought aggressive decks to a whole new level! It is very hard for control to deal with undying creatures since it will often require you to have 2 removal spells for a single threat (unless you play white and want to waste your Oblivion Ring on a Strangleroot Geist) instead of something harder to deal with such as a planeswalker , Birthing Pod or bigger undying guy.
Again, you need to remember that Pillar of Flame did not exist yet.
In the beginning, the first deck that brought down control with undying was Zombies (both monoblack or U/B versions). You couldn’t successfully mill Zombies either, without helping them find a Gravecrawler in the process. Their extremely aggressive one-drops would slip right under your Mana Leaks and they could just start attacking as of turn 2. While doing that, they could just wait to have 6 mana and drop a Geralf’s Messenger while having enough mana to pay for your Mana Leaks. The matchup was worsened if you didn’t deal with all the zombies on the field at once. Otherwise, you would just have an army of Gravecrawlers coming back each turn. The UB version had Phantasmal Images with Undying (since they would have copied the Geralf’s Messengers with them. You can just imagine how difficult that was for control.
Then the Strangleroot Geist decks came along. At first, they were in Red/Green agro decks. A 2/1 creature for 2 Green mana with haste and undying is extremely hard to deal with. It enters the battlefield, it attacks for 2 damage and requires 2 removal spells to kill. Otherwise it will just come back and pummel you with a vengeance. Plus, don’t you even think about countering this little guy! Your opponent will just cast another one or an even bigger threat. Equipped with a Sword of War and Peace, you will be punished you for having cards in your hand, something you need to have when playing control.
Another factor, which was kind of brought by the presence of swords, is threat density. Their whole deck is a threat to you. With a sword in play, even a weak little Birds of Paradise is something you just have to deal with. If you waited to Mana Leak their late-game threats they would just beat you down with it.
Too many counters made the deck worse.
Another thing that made Counterspells worse was the ‘birth’ of Birthing Pod decks. Earlier on, Pod decks were a joke because without the actual Birthing Pod in play they did little to nothing. Newer Pod decks became good even without their namesake card. Have the Pod? Well, I’ll be playing the threats I need when I want them and you can’t even stop me from doing it!
Cards like Blade Splicer and Huntmaster of the Fells are hellish for control because if you don’t counterspell them they will enter the battlefield and their job. Your opponent will not care if they die, since they brought in a second creature with them that you need to deal with.
Now with all that said, (I might be missing a few points) the environment in Standard right now is pretty hostile to control decks. On top of it all: let’s not forget the printing of Cavern of Souls and Restoration Angel.
I was once told that I had to be a masochist to keep trying to play control decks (back in the days when I brought a different control brew every week). Well ladies and gentlemen, looks like I like being hurt because I’m back! I just guess playing Delver decks made me realize how much I missed the control archetype.
I chose the Grixis colors for this control deck as I find that they have the more proactive ways to fight aggressive decks.
I know, I know: Another random control deck …
It has Pillar of Flame, which I definitely want to play main deck. The card might seem a bit weak to some but it’s a permanent way to deal with undying creatures, like Strangleroot Geist. They don’t play them? It’s still a 2 damage burn spell! Also, if you finish off a Wurmcoil Engine with this, your opponent gets no Wurm tokens! That’s pretty a pretty nice interaction to be aware of.
Sweepers are also amazing versus undying dudes because you get to kill a bunch of other creatures along with the undying ones. You even get value if you destroy at least 2 of them . In addition Grixis has access to the best discard spell in the format: Despise. On turn one it can really ruin your opponent’s game plan.
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is probably one of the best win conditions for this deck since just like Karn Liberated, if it isn’t dealt with you pretty much win the game. He deals with pesky permanents while getting even more loyalty counters. He can even steal you a couple of creatures like an opposing Titan or Elesh Norn to turn the tide!
Speaking of planeswalkers, Grixis has less problems dealing with them compared to other control decks. You can keep your permission for them because you have the rest of your deck to kill their creatures. We play things like Slagstorm and Bonfire of the Damned, which is just such an amazing card. The burn spells in the deck are very versatile as well.
Without further ado, here is the list:
3x Grave Titan
2x Doom Blade
2x Mana Leak
2x Think Twice
2x Gilded lotus
4x Sulfur Falls
1x Devil’s Play
So here is what I think would be a good Grixis Control decklist in the current metagame. I believe that a lot of sweepers is what you need. They dispose of hexproof creatures and somewhat counteract the token producers.
I will be going over my specific card choices for this deck in Part 2 as well as the game plan and sideboard.
See you soon in Keeping Control, Part 2.
by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos
To begin, I will let you browse over the Top 16 Decklists of the event.
What is the main observation you are making? Is it this ?
Yeah, our man Edwin has been a busy boy hasn’t he? He’s a 4-of in almost every deck. Kind of why he’s a 200$ + card.
Almost? Did you spot the rogue deck in there? I know I did, on name alone :
Hero: Lady Sira’kess
3 Tidal Elemental
3 Abyssal Maw
We also noticed another major thing: How the heck does this deck ever win?
For starters, we have Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest . Looks slow and clunky and rather unimpressive. Well, it does give us a 5/5 when i enters play. That’s somewhat cool in that if it gets destroyed you still get a dragon.
However, if this stays in play, it should be an easy game to win. You are just hitting ability after ability, spamming dragons or just playing conservatively with just a couple of dragons and enough cards in hand to back them up. Barring some kind of board whipe AND equipment destruction, you should be winning that match.
Mr. Wafo-Tapa is renowned for running such decks in the Magic: the Gathering world and it is not surprising to see him play this in WOW. What is surprising though, is that it performs extremely well. It also implies that the deck requires more skill than your run of the mill WOW deck does in order to get some wins.
Secondly, you can win with Abyssal Maw coupled with your Monster hero’s ability:
I guess you would need to see the flip side eh?
Now that’s more like it! Now you’re playing with power (TM) !
mmm….are you really though? how often are you going to be “storming” into 3 frost/ICE symbol spells?
While you can realistically do it, chances are you will not. See, usually doing something like playing 3 spells a turn in wow to get a hero flip would imply it’s an ‘Epic’ flip, which this isn’t.
So we are stuck grinding the long game, Wafo-Tapa style. I know for the majority of WOW players, the long game is something past turn 6 or so. So let me rephrase that: the ‘really long’ game!
On the small plus side, her flip can probably also count as a win condition if your opponent does not pack any maindeck equipment with an Armor Value of 1 or more.
Oh wait! Cut the presses! Teeeecccchnicalllyyyy….there is one final win condition:
I had to restrain myself from laughing. Don’t get me wrong, this is one solid piece of cardboard. It would be sooo hot if it wasn’t actually a frost-looking water elemental.
All kidding aside, this guy is awesome. He will tap down their big guys and no get attacked into. If he really needs to he can even attack into a really annowying 1/1 (I just can’t think of a relevant one). He’s a frost card too, so he can also be one of the 3 cards you play to ‘free’ flip Sira’Kess and start pinging away.
I went back to the list..now feeling like a complete idiot….but of course! there had to be a more ‘real’ win condition. And there is…
In all it’s large glory, so that you may read the text. So, tap their guys, AOE/board whipe their guys and pacify their guys. This will do the rest.
You now begin to understand the reasoning for the Mosnter Hero. She will be able to ping down opposing Ice Barriers in order to not die to them. The Abyssal Maws can also provided extra life in the mirror match in order to outlast your opponent. Good Stuff!
Let’s examine some card choices:
When I first saw this card, I knew I wanted to play it in my old Frost Mage control build. It’s pretty neat in the sense that it obviously ‘fogs’ their dudes but in many events, can even kill some. This is great value. Also, as a frost card it can allow you to storm flip Sira’Kess and also trigger an Abyssal Maw sometimes. However that second one can be tricky, since you woudl need to use this otherwise defensive card offensively and on your turn, ouch!
Hmm…Stop an attacker and draw a card for 1? Um….8 please? No, I can’t have 8? I guess 4 is ok…
Gets rid of creatures, like for good. 3 is the magic number for early drops and we don’t absolutely need the versatility of Fire blast to shoot players really.
I put these together because you need to sometimes counterspell thing that are one shot-ish or really do something nut. However if it’s an ability or abilities that you can just steal with Manashift (Grand Crusader, Ice Barrier), why bother? is it a weapon or annoying ability? Mask it!
Boundless Magic is surprisingly insane. Comparable to a Brainstorm in Magic, but much much better late game because it goes back into your deck and allows you to go through more cards per usage. I also just noticed it’s NOT an isntant. Boo! I guess that makes it more of a Ponder.
Bottled Knowledge is still a necessity as it digs 4 cards for 3 mana which is huuuge. Versus less aggro decks you can drop it without having 2 up for an Overload, however that’s more the exception than the rule.
Made nicer with the reprint, it is sometimes a necessity against things that generate wayyyy to many guys and swarm kill you. I know 6 ressources is a lot in this game, but it kills a small horde and slows down their subsequent attacks.
Some card draw,selection. Also Signed in Blood, which seems more like a European meta-call that I would not mind trying locally.
All in all, I think everyone should at least try this deck once. It allows you to at least see how hard it is to play a proper control deck in this format. It rewards great technical play and punishes sloppiness. The greatest part, in case you hadn’t noticed is that it costs a LOT less than all the other decks. In fact, even without the other decks having Edwins, they still have things like Mazu’Kon which costs a fortune compared to everything in this deck.
So sleeve up this bad boy and go show them that “It’s All About Control!”
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