FNM Promo for December 2013

sin collector fnm

 

Ready to purge more sins in Standard

We’ve seen him in some Junk list and reanimator lists of Standard past, but Sin Collector is soon to continue seeing play. He goes along nicely in a deck with Obzedat, Ghost Council and Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Th only problem is that with restoration Angel gone, how will people feel about the prospect of playing him with no obvious potential for extra value?

Being able to snag key spells out of our opponent’s hand now that the format is slower means that this guy will probably see some more play overall.  If you’re playing the Esper mirror match you can also just bring them in from your sideboard to get a little edge by snagging that Sphinx’s Revelation early enough. The new artwork is so much better than the original, which I always though was pretty unexciting.

sin collector

You no longer have to play this version if you manage to win a few FNM’s in December

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Remember that two are given at random and two to 1st-2nd place

Theros Release Promo: Bident of Thassa

bident of thassa

Clearly Commander-worthy!

If you’re planning to attend your local gaming store’s Theros Release this Friday, you’ll find yourself lucky enough to get one of these legendary ‘Enchantment Artifacts’. While they may find their way into the odd Standard deck, their force is clearly in Commander/EDH. You can force your opponents’ creatures to attack. Since most Commander games are multiplayer affairs, you will probably be directing some aggro towards your other opponents as well. Not a particularly valuable piece of cardboard, but nice to have if you plan on building something casual down the line.

Theros Release

 

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Find out what stores are running this event!

Shipwrecked II: More Theros Limited XP

shipwrecked 2

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

It’s about 5:45 PM and I’m looking to get to another Pre-release for the day. I feel super refreshed and ready to go. Let’s see what’s in store. I call a local shop that recently opened hoping that they are not as horribly strict on starting time as some shops in Montreal. Seeing as this is a sealed, the worst that should happen is a reduced dekcbuilding time. I call to make sure that it’s fine if I get there at around 6:15. The owner, who is an avid MTG player himself, lets me know that it should not be a problem. I’m also bringing him a couple of new customers as well.

Once at the store I run into a couple of employees from another shop who just happened to be playing there. Does their store not have an event? Bah, don’t really care. They jokingly ask if I’m going to write up an article on my Sealed experience to which I respond: “Right, as if I will remember all my Sealed decks”. Truth is, I don’t have to know my decks by heart only the key cards that mattered in my games.

Let’s Get Started !

shipbreaker kraken

Release the Kraken! Again!

Low and behold, I chose the Blue pre-release kit. I might as well go Blue all the way in order to properly gauge its sealed deck performance. Having a guaranteed late game bomb in your pool just makes you feel a little more confident about your odds. One of the other store’s employees starts boasting about all the good stuff he got in his Sealed pools. Time to start cracking mine.

Pack 1) (Blue pack) Bident of Thassa

Sure, no value here but a heck of a good card in my opinion. I definitely want this in my pool. Makes all my guys into Thieving Magpies and can force my opponent to attack and lose/trade his creature in mine.

Pack 2) Thassa, God of the Sea

FOIL! Yes!!! In your face other guy! Just kidding, but who doesn’t want to open this? It just so happen that I’m playing Blue as well. Even if this thing never becomes a creature you are steadily ahead. Scry each upkeep? Sure thing! It’s even more potent in Sealed play.

Pack 3) Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Back to back value? Is this for real? Christmas in September? I’ll take it. (Note: Sadly did not make the cut in my deck as I was not running White this time, but I can assure it must be the bomb).

Pack 4) Purphoros, God of the Forge

At this point the other guy was just in shock at the back to back to back Mythics that he said some randomness in french and went back to deckbuilding. I really thought about just playing a mediocre Elspeth + Purphoros Boros deck but someone ended up doing that instead. I played against him in my final game, more on that later.

Pack 5) Colossus of Akros

No value, not a consideration for my deck and directly into my binder.

Pack 6) Steam Augury

Some good old skill-testing Fact or Fiction fun! 100% in my final deck.

I hastily make a RUG deck, since I see a few familiar faces in my pool. Namely:

horizon chimera therosWe meet again, ‘old’ friend!

I of course had two of these. They are much better in multiples 🙂

The Red part consisted of:

purphoros magma jet flamespeakeradept

lightining strike spearpoint oread  steam augury

All Red and all just costing one actual Red mana!

Is this for real?

Yes, I am playing Purphoros as a ‘Pandemonium‘ and sometimes a sort of ‘Captive Flame’. He never needed to be a creature in any of my games and was just really good at all times.

The Green cards were basically some enchantment removal and fatties. Nothing really stuck out except for the Horizon Chimeras

Pairings are called and I’m just finishing up sleeving my deck as people note how nuts my deck is looking. I get paired against a random unknown that’s probably playing in one of their first pre-releases.

round 1 banner

vs. ‘Boros’

He comes out strong with some Heroic action and does some severe damage with Anax and Cymede. I Scry and cry enough to find a Lightning Strike and get that nuisance out of the way. He does do a lot of damage with the rest of his army, getting me down to 1 life while he has no cards left in hand. He also happened to only have 3-4 lands in play and the odds were he was going to draw quite a few of them in the next turns. I flash in my Horizon Chimera end of turn and start slowly gaining life after life and attacking for three. Of course he draws a land, complains and passes the turn. Next turn he draws what is obviously not a burn spell and passes. I flash in another Horizon Chimera and gain 2 life on my draw step, putting myself out of Lightning Strike range. I then draw and play Thassa on my turn, he draws blank and I Scry on upkeep. I gain 2 more life, drop a random blue creature giving me the devotion to blue required to have Thassa be a creature. I make him and one of my other creatures unblockable. Attack with two unblockables and the Horizon Chimeras for victory.

Game 2 is very very similar. I get to the 1 life mark and make a comeback. One of my friends even joked that me being at one is like having a Near-Death Experience in play – I just win after that.

near death experience

It’s over … for you!

I think this time I never actually gained life. I just kind of drew removal for his guys and attacked when I could. I cast Steam Augury and netted 2 creatures to stall the ground while a Prescient Chimera attacked my opponent. I may have been lucky but more importantly, I had a good deck.

1-0

round 2 banner

vs. Black/Green

I’ve been paired down. Not only that, but it’s versus my roomate. He concedes since there is no point in both of us being 1-1 and he realizes that I have the ‘nuts’ deck as well. I go grab some soft drinks from the counter and trade with a few of the other players. My Theros binder is reasonably full and people are looking for new cards. I pick up some older stuff I either don’t have or am low on. One of my other friends is also running a Green/Blue deck that started with a Green kit. He also got the deck’s Hero, Anthoussa in a regular booster. I thought that it would be pretty good but according to him she is very average. I pray I do not have to face him since he gives me his winnings and in exchange I make him a deck here and there when he wants.

anthousa anthoussa 2

Not as good as having 2 Shipbreaker Kraken, apparently

2-0

round 3 banner

vs. Red/Blue

I’m facing yet another one of my friends that I make decks for at times. He’s 1-1, has a lesser deck so he offers to conceded and go grab some good poutine. I obviously cannot refuse this offer. Unfortunately, I am a feeling super lazy and ask him if he can just pick me up a poutine while I continue to trade and scout my possible next round opponents. He brings back a super compacted Italian chicken poutine of pure goodness. It’s a big portion that looks small until you realize how jam-packed with stuff it actually is. They even throw in a big cup of Italian sauce on the side, just in case the exorbitant amount already in the poutine does not quench your sauce thirst.

I actually end up not being able to one-shot the poutine and give the rest to my friend who conceded last round. A WTF? is heard and immediately rush to see what it is. It’s the owner playing against a dude wearing really thick glasses. They are both at 2-0 and playing at the store counter so the the owner can server anyone coming in. Examining the board state gives me all the information I need. Purphoros and Elspeth have happened. This is probably really really tough to get out of. Not only does the ‘combo’ deal 6 damage, it also almost completely blocks any kind of opposing attack on Elspeth. This then allows the controller of the combo to repeat the process until their opponent is dead. The store owner draws a Bow of Nylea to buy some time, but not enough unfortunately.

elspeth theros

Force to be reckoned with in Standard?

That was their second game and they were going to play the third. I’m probably going to be facing one of these two players next roundand thus pay very close attention to their hands and how they play. The store owner is the better player but the other guy seems to have a much better deck. It does not take long for me to realize my assumptions were incorrect. The ‘combo’ payer has the 2 Mythic cards and not much else. He seems to struggle with the basics a little and his deck seems like he could have built it better. Fortunately for me, he gets the combo online and wins it 2-1.

3-0

round 4 banner

vs. Red/White Elspeth combo

I win the die roll for Game 1 and get to play a Turn 3 Thassa followed by a Turn 4 Steam Augury. I get one of my Horizon Chimeras and a Magma Jet (the other pile was also Horizon Chimera with Lightning Strike and a land). I think I would have given me the three card pile, but the Thassa Scry 1 is probably going to do what Magma Jet was going to anyhow. My opponent floods the board with a few creatures, none of which are really threatening. I play a few creatures too and manage to ‘animate’ Thassa. Unfortunately Thassa is met with a Chained to the Rocks (which I had not seen him play in any of the games I scouted).

chained to the rocks

‘I’ve got that too! ‘ – Boros combo guy

With Thassa down and out, I need to ‘Unleash the Kraken‘. A few turns later my opponents scoops to Shipbreaker Kraken as many before him have done. I side in an Annul versus his deck, in case I get another nasty surprise like I did with Chained to the Rocks. I would also get to counter his Purphoros by just keeping one blue mana up.

I didn’t get a great start but I got to kill his Ordeal of Purphoros with Artisan’s Sorrow the turn before he got to cash in the Order. He drops a Purphoros that I don’t have an Annul for. I then draw and play my own Purphoros, let’s see who can ‘turbo shock’ their opponent for the win first. Shall we? Two turns later opponent being awesome and all that casts Elspeth, Sun’s Champion like he has many games before . “This time she will not be doing much ” I say to him. He spawns three soldier tokens and deals me six. No problem, right? I cast a Horizon Chimera on his end of turn step, deal Elspeth 2 damage with Purphoros’s ability. On my turn, Horizon Chimera attacks Elspeth and removes her two remaining loyalty counters. Those soldier tokens do a great job defending but they don’t fly. He tries to go on the offense with his soldier tokens, but keeps losing one per turn to my awesome Mnemonic Wall that gets a boost from Purphoros. No Kraken this time, just regular Purphoros triggers and some ‘team firebreathing’ to take this one down.

purphoros

Believe the hype!

4-0

round 5 banner

vs. What?

Apparently the event was a 4-Round affair. Thankfully, this is great at my friend and I are the only 4-0’s. We get 24+12 boosters (a box, basically) and we start cracking packs. Nothing of interest really. No FOIL Gods, no insane value either. It’s very average for a Theros booster box. I did however manage to open this little gem:

thoughtseize

I just can’t get enough!

I start packing my loot and make some last minute trades. It was a great pre-release day and my other friends were hungry. We go to a local pizza shop to order fried chicken. Wait, what? At least it was cheap and plentiful, unlike their drinks. We were going to be coming back on Sunday for some more Pre-release fun. When I said I was going to maybe go with the Black kit the others laughed and said : ‘Riiiight!”.

Lazy Sunday

I get up only to notice that it’s already 12:30. This is already starting off badly. None of my other friends called to wake me up either. Upon looking at my messages, all is revealed. One of them had to work and the other one just didn’t feel like going again. My roommate was also working this day and I was doomed to go there alone. This meant less competition but also lowered the chances of getting more booster packs.

theros boosters

This is what it’s all about! Oh, and fun too!

I again call the same store warning them that I will probably be late. The store owner gives me the same speech about having less time for deck construction and I’m on my way. I arrive 15 minutes late, which isn’t all that bad. He hands me the Blue kit, already knowing that it was going to be my selection. And so another pre-release begins….

shipbreaker krakenNomNomNom! Foodstuffs!

This sealed pool was very different from all the rest. It contained a Omenspeaker (yay!) and another Shipbreaker Kraken (woah!). I once again play Simic and finish building my deck before everyone else. I notice that my other firend whose Standard Elves deck I lost to on Friday is there as well. He also chose Blue as his color and we look over each other’s decks. He’s amazed that I have two Krakens and I explain to him that I can’t possibly add another 6-drop to my deck (Horizon Scholar) if I play both Krakens. He suggests I don’t switch out a Kraken for a Sphinx since Kraken is just a ‘must deal with’ creature. Fine, I won’t be greedy.

Pairings are call and we’re both glad to not be facing each other.

round 1 banner

vs. Black/Green

My opponent is a foreign guy who recently came to Canada, so I’ll need to be patient since his English is not the best. Still, the game does not require that much actual communication and we understand each other just fine. The first thing I notice about his deck is that it is very removal heavy on top of having Agent of the Fates. One of my Kraken dies to a Sip of Hemlock. My second Kraken dies to fighting with his Agent of the Fates (Time to Feed). I also lose another creature in the process thanks to Agent of the Fates’ Heroic trigger.

agent of fates

Kraken killer?

I begin Game 2 with a hand of 4 lands, Kraken, Voyaging Satyr and an Agent of Horizons. Fairly respectable and can maybe get me a Turn 5 Shipbreaker Kraken. He dispatches my Agent of Horizons with a Pharika’s Cure. There goes a great deal of my aggro! I get my Turn Shipbreaker Kraken, but it I refuse to block and trade with whatever 2-power creature he attacks with fearing eh has a Lash of the Whip in hand. He gets  Viper’s Kiss on my Kraken before i get to 8 mana. Great move! I eventually decide I might as well start blocking with it and to no one’s surprise he casts Lash of the Whip on my Shipbreaker Kraken. No ‘Heroic’ comebacks were made and I lose this one quite miserably. What a way to start my last Theros Pre-release.

0-1

I look over my opponent’s deck that seemed to be chock full of removal and Bestow-pump. It was indeed a 4-0 deck (which he ended up doing). I go pack up my stuff and leave, swearing to never go back there again. Just kidding, I still had chances of going 2nd -8th and getting some boosters prizes.

round 2 banner

vs. Red/White

The matches were really quick and both were won on the back of a Shipbreaker Kraken (I have 2 this time, so it’s more likely I get one each game, right?).

1-1

round 3 banner

vs. Black/Green

I’m paired against a guy that I’ve traded with many times before. He got the Black pre-release kit and is unsurprised that I chose the Blue one. Game 1 is fairly close until he hits Abhorrent Overlord. There go my hopes of winning with my flying creatures. He attacks without fear with his Overlord. I don’t chump or trade 3 of my creatures early on since I still have ways of winning this one. I don’t draw into any of my outs, so I choose to give him a 2-for-1 on his Abhorrent Overlord. Unfortunately he casts a Rescue from the Underworld which gets him his Overlord back on his upkeep with 5 little Harpy tokens. I do get my Shipbreaker Kraken but I never get to the 8-mana mark. I believe the gods have forsaken me.

Game 2 is pretty good for me as I get 2 Agent of Horizons in play early on and just get there via unblockable damage while chump blocking what I need to in order to stay ahead of the damage race. He did gain some life along the way, which made the game longer than it should have been.

We have ten minutes left for Game 3 so I actually lowered the curve  of my deck and added a third Agent of Horizons to it.

agent of horizons

Theros’s Phantom Warrior

I cast Voyaging Stayr, followed by Agent of Horizons and then another Agent later on. On his end of turn I get a Horizon Chimera in play. It’s basically too much for him and I get the win before time is called. Didn’t even need Kraken for that game.

2-1

Meanwhile the guy who beat me in Round 1 just beat my Elves! deck friend to move up to 3-0. I warned him the the deck was pretty tough to beat and surprisingly low on ‘bombs’.

round 4 banner

vs. Green/Blue

I’m facing my friend who also has a SImic deck. One of us will get top 4 and the other might get a booster if they’re lucky. Third or fourth place is just 3-4 boosters. Nothing to write home about but still some loot. We only ended up being 17 for this pre-release, which is why booster prizes are not mind-blowing.

We have trade tempo plays: his Griptide being better than my Voyage’s End. I get some inevitability with my Agent of Horizons in there. He activates Monstrosity on his Kraken but I have another Voyage’s End for it. My team does not get frozen and I get to attack him for more damage. He does nothing the following turn but cast Shipbreaker Kraken again. I swing with everything to secure the W.

Game 2 was very anti-climatic with me keeping a 5 lander plus Kraken and him having seemingly done the same. I get a turn 4 Bident of Thassa (first time I probably cast this thing) and he does not cast his Kraken on turn 6. I cast mine however, threatening a ‘quick game’. He shakes his head, reveals his all land hand (which was fairly obvious he was holding) and shakes my hand. Not quite the way I want all of this pre-release goodness to end,but I’ll take it.

3-1

I hastily crack my boosters, revealing an Erebos and not much else. I can’t and won’t complain at all. Unsure if I will play him, Erebos finds his way into my Theros trade binder.

erebos god of the deadHarbinger of the new Mono Black in Standard?

If you’re planning on making this Devotion to black thing work, you’ll probably need some Nightveil Specters. The go a long way in making your devotion count (monoblue as well). The card itself is far from unplayable, but it was just not good enough last Standard season. What’s in store for it this time? Why not try a playset in your decks and give us some feedback?

Let us know what new brew you’re planning to play at your local store’s FNM Standard event.

FNM_logo

Thoughts?

 

The Blue pre-release deck gained a lot of popularity in my area since a lot of the pre-release winners played blue either as a main or support color. Clearly a lot of wins were backed by Shipbreaker Kraken, a creature that most may have prematurely dismissed as ‘costing too much’ as far as its Monstrous ability goes. I guess we showed them!

 

Overall record: 16-2-1 (Though the draw is an ID in the final round)

 

 

theros preorder

Shipwrecked: A Theros Limited Experience

shipwrecked

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

It’s Friday and it’s nice outside. Unfortunately I won’t be able to enjoy it much because I’m going to spend most of it playing some Magic. I motivate myself to go to a local store’s FNM. They have a Type 2 tourney at 6:00pm followed by a draft at around 9:30 pm. However, today’s the midnight pre-release of Theros as well so I have a lot on my plate. I could just go to the pre-release, but I’m a gamer at heart and I want to get as much Magic: the Gathering in on one weekend without being completely wasted in between pre-releases.

I grab the good old Golgari control deck that’s been faring really well this last month and a half figuring that with one week of Innistrad/M13 Standard to go it’s foolhardy to create something new. I may possibly write a bit on the deck, time permitting. It’s a great metagame call and allows you to play some underplayed cards like Desecration Demon and Mutilate. You can probably also call it GB Rock or ‘The Rock‘ and it’s actually pretty fun to play.

desecration demonThat would certainly explain its sudden price surge …

round 1 banner

vs. USA Aggro/Burn

I face a random USA Aggro/Burn deck with Delver of Secrets, Guttersnipe and Nivix Cyclops. My opponent is an OK player but is rather impulsive in nature as well. He tends to play burn-style decks then complain because he gets ‘flooded’ past turn 5. I keep a 5-lander in Game 1 and game very much punished for it. I thought I would buy myself some time by playing an Ultimate Price on his Delver of Secrets, but I get my first of many WTF? moments of the day when he responds with a Faith’s Shield. He doesn’t get to flip his Delver in like forever, but he had double Izzet Charm in hand to make sure that my Liliana turn 3 and 4 do not resolve. It’s a sad state of affairs as I continue to draw land after land and try to ‘race’ wth my Mutavault only to see it get Searing Speared. I didn’t have much gas to begin with, so it’s not like I ran out. I just lost really badly. The story does end well however, as I pretty much did what the deck does and gained enough life to get out of any kind of burn range and beat him down with bigger creatures. I also more or less destroyed all his creatures with the variety or removal the deck packs (all of them being good versus that particular deck).

1-0

round 2 banner

vs. Naya Blitz

I’ve face this guy before and it never seems like he ever plays enough lands in his deck. The one win he got off me once was due to 4 x Boros Charms. In Game 1 he goes Experiment One into Strangleroot Geist and then Loxodon Smiter. I can’t even Mutilate fast enough and even at that it would cause his Strangleroot Geist to come back and finish me (since it has Undying). Game 2 is much much different as I have some Tragic slips for his Experiment Ones and a Scavenging Ooze later on to make sure his Strangleroot Geists do not come back. Scavenging Ooze is probably the addition that made this deck much much better than it originally was. Before the deck used to run main deck Cremates which were kind of a concession to the Reanimator decks at the time. On the third game my opponent gets stuck on mana and I just play Thragtusks and Disciple of Bolas to put myself out of any kind of danger whatsoever. I easily win that one afterwards.

2-0

round 3 banner

vs. Elves

I know my opponent quite well since we usually go hang out at the local bar and grab a bit to eat after these FNM’s. I know he usually plays elves but he had been talking about trying random decks before rotation. When he wins the die roll and starts off with a forest, I know I’m in a bit of trouble. He casts Elvish Mystic and follows up with Elvish Archdruid on his turn 2 and another on turn 3. My Mutilate was looking good before he cast that second Archdruid. While the GB Rock deck plays a lot of swamps it packs quite a few nonbasics as well (other than Overgrown Tomb). With 2 swamps in play by my turn4 I cannot even cast mutilate to take out as much as a Elvish Mystic. He just really really puts the hurt on me. Game 2 is very similar only this time he plays Druid’s familiars to get out of Mutilate range followed up by Wolfir Silverhearts. He had also emptied out his hand fairly quickly to the point where targetted removal even the biggest of creatures was not accomplishing much.

2-1

round 4 banner

vs. UW Control

This is a matchup I have had the pleasure of playing on numerous occasions. The deck”s pilot is not really patient enough to play this archetype and as such makes many mistakes. Game 1 is really good for me since I get to peek at his hand with Lifebane Zombie and remove a Restoration Angel. It also allows me to confirm he does not have double white nor does he have a Supreme Verdict. I repeatedly attack with 2 x Mutvault and Lifebane Zombie to close it out early. In Game 2, I start off fairly strong and cast a Turn 5 Duress hitting a Sphinx’s Revelation and seeing no Snapcaster Mages. The game goes slightly longer than I like and one of my Thragtusks gets Syncopated. He also gets to draw and resolve a Sphinx’s Revelation to come back and win this somewhat long game. With about 15 minutes left for Game 3 we both pick up the pace. I get to resolve a Turn 2 Appetite for Brains on Restoration Angel and also notice that he has no counterspell or Detention Sphere in hand. I get a turn 3 Underworld Connections and the rest is pretty much history. He did get to play a Turn 5 Jace, Memory Adept against me. My deck runs Mutavaults and Thragtusks so I’m not sure just how good of an idea that sideboard plan was. I guess he really had nothing else since his list just seems different from the norm. He ran 2-3 Terminus on top of Supreme Verdicts which I felt was excessive. In his defense though, he got color-shorted on one white and had to activate his Ghost Quarter on an Island to get his second source of white in order to cast Supreme Verdict.

Final record: 3-1

So that record merits me two boosters, which is pretty good if you consider that it’s only a 2$ buy-in. I pull a Sanguine Bond and a Kalonian Hydra, which I am quite thankful for as I traded most of mine away early on.

kalonian hydra

Yummy Value!

and now onto the final M14 Draft

m14 logo

I snap value pick a Fiendslayer Paladin because sometimes it’s just the right thing to do. As a rule, if the card value is 8$ or greater I will usually value pick it early on. The draft stakes are not high either, at 8 people it was like 3-2-1-1-1. I ended up with a pretty sweet Black/White draft deck overall featuring 2 of my favorite draft cards: Gnawing Zombie and Blightcaster. They have 3 toughness and a good enough impact on the board be it early, mid or late game. I also had 4 Charging Griffins and a Serra Angel. I would at times side in/out my Strionic Resonator as it worked with over half the cards in my deck (including the always good Banisher Priest).

round 1 banner

vs. Black/Green

I face my friend that was running Elves in the standard portion of the FNM. Game one is close but he gets the better of me with his Sengir Vampire + Fireshrieker. I had to go for an Alpha strike to win, but he cast a Wring Flesh to go down to 2 and take the game on the back swing. Game 2 goes by normally aside from the odd Millstone that popped up on his end. We go to Game 3 and he gets two Millstones in play with no much else. I draw a lot of lands but eventually some Charging Griffins and a Banisher Priest to take out his Sengir Vampire. I eventually get there with a couple of more swings.

1-0

round 2 banner

vs. Blue/Red

The guy’s deck seemed like something very similar I had drafted a week ago during a friendly draft. It was a Blue/Red Scourge of Valkas, Shivan Dragon, Dragon Egg deck. Only his main issue is that he ran the Dragon Hatchlings and did not have any sac outlet for his Dragon Eggs. I had a Trading Post and Barrage of Expendables in mine. The game goes by quickly as he needs to firebreathe his Dragon Hatchling to do any real damage to me and I just attack with whatever I am happy to trade with. He hits on of my creatures with a Scourge of Valkas later on but is met with a Pacifism afterwards. Game 2 was really really weird. He just got out a Phantom Warrior and a Shiv’s Embrace by turn 4. Unfortunately I had a Mark of the Vampire on one of my 2-power creatures and followed it up with an Angelic Accord. I was getting and Angel token that turn, was taking 6 or so damage, getting 4 life back, making another Angel token. It was basically over and he scooped revealing a hand of just lands. He would have maybe won had he draw into Frost Breath and Archaeomancer or Chandra’s Outrage.

2-0

round 3 banner

vs. Mono Blue

It’s down to me a pretty good player I know playing Monoblue with 2 x Opportunity. He offers me the draw so we can go grab food instead. I’m definitely down with that! There’s less than one hour left for the pre-release registration and I don’t intend to play on an empty stomach.

Final Score: 2-0-1

Pre-Release Time!

I register and select my color: Blue

I thought I was more of a Golgari or Boros, but the more I examine my playstyle and actions in general, I pretty much know I am a Dimir kinda guy. I’m not always very direct,slightly secretive and don’t always reveal my true self, much like the Dimir. I even pasted the little Dimir Guild sticker on one of my trade binders.

Getting a Blue Pre-release pack gives you this bad boy:

shipbreaker kraken

That’s a pretty ‘Monstrous” effect

However, most of you will recognize him undet this form:

shipbreaker-kraken 2

I very much prefer the artwork on this pre-release version, the Kraken seems more menacing

I come in a little late from eating at the pizza place and have less time to build my deck. I crack open my boosters and get nothing really good in the blue one (Meletis Charlatan). I figure his stats are ok and I may use his ‘Fork’ ability once in a while, so he makes the cut. The other Rares/Mythics are not worth mentioning, save Thoughtseize (which I promptly put in my trade binder). I have enough decent looking blue cards to build something worthwhile, but no Omenspeaker or Triton Tactics. I really was looking forward to having at least a copy of one of those. Then I started looking though the color combinations I could build and noticed I had two of these:

horizon chimera theros

New Restoration Angel? Well, maybe not …

It did everything I wanted the deck to do. Potentially it could destroy a random attacker with 1 power. trade with anything really threatening at 3 toughness or less or simply be flashed in and be ready to attack on my turn. This card has 4 abilities by the way and the lifegain was very relevant in many of my matches. I add the green enchantment destruction, some mana fixing/accelerators (Sylvan Caryatid, Voyaging Satyr, Traveler’s Amulet) and the deck is almost complete. Unfortunately I am short on playables and after examining the rest of my pool I figure I can go Black for a couple of removal spells and Rescue from the Underworld. The black cards each contained only one black mana symbol in their cost and I had 3 swamps, Traveler’s Amulet, Sylvan Caryatid and Unknown Shores.

The deck seemed ok when I was goldfishing a few sample starting hands. No bombs were going to be winning me my games except for Shipbreaker Kraken himself. I really liked the potential turn 3 4-drops that Sylvan Caryatid and Voyaging Satyr enabled. Pairings are called and I notice that I am facing some Asian dude and for once it’s not my roommate (we end up facing each other a lot even at bigger events). I go to my table and don’t recognize this player at all.

round 1 banner

vs. Blue/White

We roll dice, wish each other luck and the game is under way. He starts off with an Island and I know the game is probably going long. I start to get beat down by some fliers and I don’t must up much of anything until turn 6. The pivotal turn of the game where I cast, you guessed it, Shipbreaker Kraken. Must be nice! It must be also nice to have 2 lands in hand knowing that if i survive two more turns I can get a foothold in winning this game. He’s playing Blue/White so I am almost sure that as long as I don’t attack when he has 4 mana up (Divine Verdict) then I am not losing my Kraken. Turn 8 rolls around, I drop my 8th land and pass the turn. I can activate the Kraken’s ability at the end of my opponent’s turn so why rush it? Also, it would leave me with open mana on his turn to run a counter or response to something he may do (eventhough I have none in hand, but he doesn’t know that). He only has 4 creatures and doesn’t drop a fifth on his turn. the end of turn comes and I activate my Kraken (“Release the Kraken!”). He simply looks at the battlefield and scoops up his cards. Game 2 is somewhat similar, only I got the Voyaging Satyr, Sylvan Caryatid acceleration. This allowed me to cast Shipbreaker Kraken turn 4 and activate if turn 6. I know right?

1-0

round 2 banner

vs. Black/White

I’m facing a girl this time and she actually beat a decent player to get to 1-0, so I’m under the impression that she knows her stuff. She has me down to 5-6 pretty early in the game, but I cast a Horizon Chimera and then I cast the other one at the end of her turn again. Having stabilized the ground and gaining two life a turn while beating down for 6 in the air means I got this one.

Game 2 is just really bad for her as I get to copy Fade into Antiquity and copy it with Meletis Charlatan. I then get to the point where I copy Thassa’s Bounty with him as well. The game is clearly out of reach for her as I get to win without my pet Kraken. She reveals a grip of 3 Ray of Dissolution and I asked her why she didn’t side them out. I tell her that I had exactly two enchantments in my deck and played none on game 1. She said: “Well, you never know.” On that she was correct, I may have had some Bestow dudes she did not see but to keep all 3 copies just seemed a poor choice.

I help her modify her deck so that she only has one copy of Ray of Dissolution and noticed that she did not have more than 13 creatures while playing and aggro deck. We move that up to 17 since the deck was mostly a weenie deck (she had the White pre-release kit). We play a game for fun which is much closer than previous games, but this time Shipbreaker Kraken appears to seal the game. Still, she is more satisfied with the newer build, so I wish her good luck on her remaining games.

2-0

round 3 banner

vs. Green/White

I’m facing a pretty good player that I have played against in every possible format. I believe we are pretty much 50/50 versus each other, meaning I’m a little worried about my undefeated streak coming to an end. He also helped me splash the black cards in my deck and thus has a bit of an advantage since he knows all of my deck’s contents. I get a terrible start on Game 1 and he gets the exact opposite. He cracks his Burnished Hart after attacking me with it and a few other guys. On his turn 5 he has 7 mana and I am still unsure if he had the White or Green pre-release kit. I’m fairly certain he took white, since it’s the one most thought had the best creature. I get to kill one of his creatures with Time to Feed + Sedge Scorpion. I get a couple of high toughness fliers into play as well to cut down his offensive options. I eventually get to Shipbreaker Kraken range, but can’t attack with it since he’s always representing Divine Verdict. I use the Monstrosity effect of it at the end of one of his turns and he concedes since at the point the damage the Kraken may have done while attacking did not matter and his guys don’t untap right away even if he hits it with Divine Verdict. Game 2 is similar to one of the previous ones i had where I accelerated the Kraken on Turn 4 and he offered little resistance. I had also cast Griptide on his Burnished Hart on turn 3 to prevent him from getting any kind of acceleration early.

Afterwards we both agree that my deck is much much better than originally thought. He tells me I better not randomly lose any of my two last rounds, since this is definitely a 5-0 deck. I promise him I won’t.

3-0

My roomate is 2-0-1 at this point and I’m scared that we might face each other. It would be terrible since we share our cards and this would me that we would lose out on prize payout. He needs to g 4-0-1 to get 21 boosters and I need to go 5-0 to get a box. We go check the pairing and….

round 4 banner

vs. NOT my roomate Red/White

I had actually seen this guy play next to me in the previous round and his deck seemed like a decent aggro deck but I never saw him drop a really good card. Also he made quite a few play errors versus a deck similar to his. Based on those observations, I am fairly confident that I have got this.

Game 1 starts out with him attacking early on, but I get enough higher toughness dudes to soak up his offense. I get down to 2 life and it’s the lowest I’ll get to in this game. Horizon Chimera helps me get back into the game and gets me 3 life the turn I cast Thassa’s Bounty. I end the game at 10 life while flying over whatever creatures he has.

Game 2 is somewhat scary because he plays a Magma Jet on my Horizon Chimera. I cry a little on the inside since it’s the first time one of my Chimera dies. Despite the Scry from the Magma Jet, he seems to be flooded somewhat. He hard casts his Celestial Archon, but at that point it’s a little too late for him to do any real damage because….

shipbreaker-kraken 2

It’s baaaack!

This was yet another match-up where I had to fear Divine Verdict. So I tap down 4 of his guys and slowly grind down his life total with my other creatures. I think I’d compare the Kraken to a one-sided Supreme Verdict at this point because that’s almost what it always felt like.

4-0

In other news, my roomate goes to 3-0-1 and needs to win his last game to get 21 boosters.

round 5 banner

vs. Green/Blue

I’m facing another player I know as we are the only ones at 4-0. I’m unsure about intentionally drawing with him so that we each get 21 boosters. He’s a nice guy and the thought of randomly losing to end up with only 6 boosters at 4-1 is good enough reason to accept a draw. We shake on it, hand in our result slip and decide to play for fun and bragging rights.

Since the actual result of these games is irrelevant, I’ll just admit I got beaten badly. He flooded the board with creatures while I could not do the same. His pre-release kit was Green and he had a Bow of Nylea, Prophex of Kruphix and lots of fatties. I only had so much time to stabilize between casting some Voyage’s Ends.

4-0-1

voyage's end

Thus ends my first pre-release

My roomate won the game to also go 4-0-1 so we get to crack a lot of boosters. We open some good stuff but nothing really noteworthy except a Thassa and a Thoughtseize. We go home and get some much needed sleep. Then I get up, but it’s not morning time. It’s 12:30 and most other pre-releases have already began. I quickly go on Facebook and check the local store events then notice that one of them starts at 1:30pm. I call them to confirm and they assure me that it’s ok if I’m a little late. I wake up my roomate and we rush to the store.

Pre-Release # 2

I decide to go with yet another Blue pre-release kit since Shipbreaker Kraken was insanely good. I open yet another Thoughtseize and joke about how I’d much rather open it in my winnings than in my Sealed pool. Looking over my options, I spot no eally good 2-color deck. I go with the one that allows me to stabilize the mid game and to deal with opposing bombs : White. With 2 Divine Verdicts, Coastline Chimera and a Spear of Heliod, I was pretty sure to be able to contain most aggressive decks. Sadly, I again have no Triton tactics nor do I have any Omenspeakers. The Spear and Daxos are the only rares in my deck except for Shipbreaker Kraken, but that was a given when I selected my color.

Pairings are announced!

round 1 banner

vs. Blue/White

So I start off facing the same combinations of colors as I did yesterday. Fair enough! I recognized the guy as one of the regular customers who was frequenting the last card store I worked at. He recognized me too and was not too happy to be facing me early on. I assure him that my deck is far from good.

Game 1 is pretty close, but I end up losing to a Dauntless Onslaught targetting two of his unblocked creatures. Not much I could have done at the point but make the proper bocks to not lose and hope to win on the back swing (which never occured). Game 2 is very very different with me going full aggro by casting an early Spear of Heliod and beating down with a Daxos of Meletis who is now a pain to block. I gain some life and cast some of his deck’s cards. I never was really in bad shape during the game and was dealt pretty much most of the damage with Daxos.

daxos of meletis

So far so good in Limited formats

In the final game I get to Divine Verdict his Celestial Archon to gain a good moment of respite. I really don’t know why people are so impatient with this card. I would always want to Bestow this card. I get to cast Daxos in this game as well but he gets double blocked this time. I opt to let combat damage resolve and kill both his guys I had a Nimbus Nayad enchanting him. Taking out two of his fliers seemed fine as I’d get a 2/2 flier back anyhow. A few turns later he casts his own Shipbreaker Kraken (he got one in a boosters). I cast Voyage’s End to buy some time and hope to win with my fliers. The card I Scry is  Vanquish the Foul, which I decide to keep on top. I could have sided this card out but I figured with all the Bestow creatures he had there was probably going to be a 4/4 or bigger creature on his end eventually. I destroy the Kraken he re-casts the following turn and we’re both in no condition to attack (we each had a Nimbus Nayad and a stalled ground position. I draw a Heliod’s Emissary and Betsow my Nimbus Nayad with in order to start attacking. Low risk, high reward at this point. I attack, tap his Nimbus Nayad and get 5 points of damage in. The following turn I try the same thing but am met with a Divine Verdict. I decide to save my Nayad by casting Voyage’s End on it. I then Bestow my Heliod’s Emissary with the Nayad, basically re-creating the same beast. He then casts his own Vanquish the Foul on my Heliod’s Emissary and casts a Wingsteed Rider. The Aura-fest continues when I cast a a Hopeful Eidolon for its Bestow cost on my Nimbus Nayad. I figure that with his available mana he can’t do much from what I have seen other than target his 2/2 flier and trade with my 3/3 flying lifelinker. He just lets it through and just never really gets to trade with my creature as he draws blank the following 2-3 turns.

1-0

round 2 banner

vs. Red/White

He starts of the game with a Priest of Iroas which can be pretty annoying against me if I don’t get it off the board so that it doesn’t kill one of my Bestow creatures. I get a Travelling Philospopher to trade with Priest of Iroas and another 1-power guy later on, which clears the way for my Bestow creatures.

traveling philosopher

For when you need that 23d card in your deck

The rest of the game was pretty much one-sided. I just attacked with my enchanted creatures which were always bigger and/or had evasion, so we move onto game 2. The following game is just ridiculous. I start off by casting Daxos of Meletis. The following turn I Bestow Hopeful Eidolon and the the turn after that I Bestow Nimbus Naiad ending up with a super creature akin to Banesalyer Angel. And that’s al she wrote!

2-0

round 3 banner

vs. Blue/White

I’m facing one of the store’s better players and he’s yet another person who chose the White pre-release kit. He starts off strong with some Heroic creatures:  Battlewise Hoplite and Fabled Hero. I am rather instantly unsettled as to the probably outcome of this match. I draw Divine Verdict, think for a bit, play my land and pass the turn. It’s fairly obvious that he will attack and I’m more than happy to trade my removal spell for either of these guys (though I obviously prefer Fabled Hero). He attacks with both and plays Dauntless Onslaught. He Verdict Fabled Hero and gladly take 5. I cast a Thassa’s Emissary to potentially draw a couple of cards. He attacks with his Battlewise Hoplite, bluffing a potential combat trick. These is no real reason for me to block/trade as I would really like to draw with my Emissary, so I let the Hoplite through for 3.

thassas emissary

Crabs are cool again! Well, maybe not …

The crab draw my one of my best defensive creatures: Coastline Chimera. I cast it and figure that I’m probably going to have to lose it to the following attack. My opponent chooses to not attack with his Battlewise Hoplite this time. Clearly this is a mistake? He basically is confirming that he had no combat trick. Then again, maybe he’s just not happy to just take out a Coastline Chimera. Beats me, but it also means I can’t really attack with my Crab. I’ll assume he knows what he’s doing so I’ll just lay down my sixth land and cast Shipbreaker Kraken (since I’m fairly sure that Stymied Hopes is not maindeck-worthy). I get to the 8-mana mark a couple of turns later, attack with everything but Kraken and get a concession from my opponent.

Game 2 I sided in some lifegain in the form of Lagonna-Band Elder and Ray of Dissolution. It ended up being just enough to edge him out in the damage race. No kraken this time, just all my little dudes versus his Heroic team. Not much in terms of trading since I was mostly flying and choosing not to trade any of my other creatures for his unless absolutely necessary. It became necessary in the end and allowed me to counterattack for just enough to win. There were a few removal and bounce spells along the way, but this game was pure and simple Magic.

3-0

round 4 banner

vs. ???

I honestly do not even remember this match at all. it even shows up as Unknown, Unknown in my match History on the DCI site. I think he just auto-scooped due to intimidation. Ha! as if! Try as I might I just really cannot remember this one.

4-0

round 5 banner

vs. Green/Blue Good stuff

This is the store’s regular judge and I usually judge their Monday Standard events since he only usually does FNM‘s. I saw what he opened and already did not want to face him. Polukranos, Thassa, Boon Satyr and Stormbreath Dragon. It was as though he had already won. Despite being the only player at 4-0, I had to face off against him as he was 3-0-1. I honestly would have rather faced the other 3-0-1 player.

Game 1 is close enough until Thassa hits the board and makes his guys unblockable. It’s fairly easy to win when your opponent can’t really interact.

The following game is rather close as well, with me gaining small amount of life with Daxos, but flipping lands or smaller spells and not casting them. He accelerates with Karametra’ Acolyte into Polukranos who is ready to go Monstrous x =3 the very same turn. That does not happen. Instead it does X = 6 the following turn taking out 2 of my guys plus the creature who had to block him. I cannot possibly recover from this (even Kraken is not enough) since I am dead on the following attack.

4-1

Unfortunately we could not have drawn, since he would of ended up lower than the 4-1 and  might have ended up second. We had to play and the prize differential was not huge. It was something like 15-13-10-etc. I ended up third place since the other guy with a 3-0-1 record also won. My packs were so-so with my best card being:

thoughtseize

You know it!

Up Next …

Part 2 of this rather lenghty article. I just saw the word count and 5000+ seems a tad much. Stay tuned for my report on the following 2 pre-releases I attended.

 

Theros EDH/Commander Set Review

theros edh review

by Kory Pelletier

Theros is shaping up to be a very interesting and flavourful set, and beyond that, a very nice set for EDH. We’re getting a lot of new tools for all sorts of decks, including mechanics and commanders. Here is my EDH focused review of Theros.

First of all, let’s take a look at the mechanics of Theros, those being Bestow, Monstrosity, Heroic, Devotion and Scry.

Bestow: A static ability (actually it represents two static abilities) which lets you cast creatures with Bestow as auras which grant their abilities and stats to the enchanted creature. The bestow cost is more than the cost cast the creature, however the bestowed card turns back into a creature when it unattaches from the enchanted creature. This proves very useful in Enchantress decks, as it gives you easy-to-fetch-and-protect creatures with some resiliency if you wish to cast them for more mana.

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Monstrosity: An activated ability which lets you spend mana to activate it at any time while the creature is on the battlefield. It can only be activated once but grants the creature N +1/+1 counters and makes them monstrous. Most creatures with Monstrosity have some sort of triggered or static ability tied to it when it becomes/is monstrous.

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Heroic: A triggered ability which triggers upon becoming the target of a spell you cast. This is an ability word, so all kinds of things can happen, from giving all your creatures +1/+1 and trample, to drawing cards. This is a more focused mechanic because you need to build around it to make it truly effective.

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Devotion: A reworked version of Chroma to make it more focused and flavourful. Your devotion to [colour] tracks the coloured mana symbols on permanents you control, and all sorts of things can be done with it.

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Scry: The returning mechanic of the set. It’s fantastic library manipulation and is being stapled to all sorts of cards now. There are few worth running.

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Enchantments: Many people thought Theros would have a lot of “enchantments matter” cards, much like Mirrodin did for artifacts. Well that’s not really the case. In order to keep enchantments relevant, R&D decided they wanted all enchantment creatures to have an enchantment aspect. The Gods just become legendary enchantments if your devotion is low, and other enchantment creatures have bestow. There are also other enchantment permanents, those being the Gods’ weapons. The weapons have a static or triggered ability, and an activated ability that compliment the Gods’ own abilities respectively.

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The Gods: The five main Gods of Theros are tied to the five colours of Magic. We have Heliod, Thassa, Erebos, Purphoros and Nylea (Gods of the Sun, Sea, Death, Forge and Hunt respectively). Each God is an indestructible legendary enchantment creature that isn’t a creature as long as your devotion to [colour] is less than five. They all cost 4 mana (except Thassa who costs 3) and they each only have one coloured mana symbol (to avoid making it too easy to hit their devotion requirement).

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Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s look at the individual cards I think will be able to make a splash. There are a decent amount of them, to be sure.

White is arguably the weakest Commander colour this time around. With all sorts of one-shot spells outclassed by older ones, there isn’t much in the way of useful things for EDH. But for what we do have, it’s pretty good; Celestial Archon, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Evangel of Heliod, Gift of Immortality, Heliod, God of the Sun, Phalanx Leader and Spear of Heliod. Though there are few playable cards, these all fit in to some specific decks, in fact most of them fit into token decks, which is always nice.

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In terms of playable blue cards, we have much more variety here. cards like Artisan of Forms, Bident of Thassa, Curse of the Swine, Master of Waves, Meletis Charlatan, Prescient Chimera, Prognostic Sphinx, Shipbreaker Kraken and Thassa, God of the Sea fit into many more decks, and are much more good-stuff-y than the white cards of Theros, which a couple deck-specific cards (Master of Waves and Shipbreaker Kraken).

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Black is much like blue here, a lot of nice good-stuff cards, sprinkled with a couple deck-specific stuff. Abhorent Overlord, Erebos, God of the Dead, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Hero’s Downfall, Hythonia the Cruel, Nighthowler, Read the Bones, Rescue from the Underworld and Whip of Erebos are all pretty much fantastic, with the all-stars being Erebos and his Whip.

 

 

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Perhaps most disappointing of all is red. We got barely anything that matters for Commander here beyond incredibly deck-specific stuff I didn’t mention. Anger of the Gods, Ember Swallower, Fanatic of Mogis, Hammer of Purphoros, Purphoros, God of the Forge and Stormbreath Dragon are the only cards I can think of that will actually see a good amount of play.

 

 

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Green is just full of goodies this time around for all kinds of decks. Anthousa, Setessan Hero, Arbor Colossus, Bow of Nylea, Commune with the Gods, Karametra’s Acolyte, Mistcutter Hydra, Nemesis of Mortals, Nylea, God of the Hunt, Ordeal of Nylea, Polukranos, World Eater, Reverent Hunter, Satyr Piper and Sylvan Caryatid will all see play somewhere, giving green the biggest EDH presence in Theros, and I’m sure not complaining.

 

 

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With all the mono-coloured matters stuff running around in Theros, you might not expect there to be a strong multicolour presence in Theros, but there certainly is for Commander. Akroan Hoplite, Anax and Cymede, Ashen Rider, Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, Daxos of Meletis, Fleecemane Lion, Horizon Chimera, Medomai the Ageless, Polis Crusher, Prophet of Kruphix, Psychic Intrusion, Reaper of the Wilds, Shipwreck Singer, Spellheart Chimera, Steam Augury, Triad of Fates, Tymaret, the Murder King, Underworld Cerberus and Xenagos, the Reveler are all fantastic cards, and some were clearly made with EDH in mind, which I really love.

 

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There are even a few playable artifacts in Theros. Akroan Horse, Burnished Hart, Colossus of Akros, Opaline Unicorn and Prowler’s Helm aren’t really much, but they have their places and are rather fun/decent in the right decks.

 

 

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Finally, we have the lands. The Scry lands are interesting enough, at least enough to replace a basic or two, or replace your Guildgates. But more interesting is Nykthos, Shine to Nyx. It’s a staple in every mono-coloured deck, and will even see play in multicolour decks, just as a filter.

 

 

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There are just two things I want to address at the end here, and these are 100% opinion based, so if you don’t agree with my views and play styles, then just skip this part. I wanna talk about my favourite new commanders, and my favourite cards from the set in general. We got quite a few new generals this time around, though that was to be expected from the start.

Here are a list of my five favourite commanders and what kind of deck I’d build with them:

Purphoros, God of the Forge – Mono Red Token-Burn. I personally think it would be a blast just burning away everybody with pandemonium effects every turn, and I love tokens.

Anax and Cymede – White/Red Token-Burn. The same archetype as Purphoros, done completely differently. Use a lot of re-usable and mass-target spells to pump your army and keep the burn from killing your stuff before you go in for the attack.

Triad of Fates – White/Black Blink-Control. Fill your deck with great blink targets like Ashen Rider and Angel of Despair, and don’t forget to abuse Oblivion Stone to seal the fate of multiple creatures in one turn, or protect your own things faster.

Erebos, God of the Dead – Mono Black Control. As a draw engine that prevents your opponents from gaining life, Erebos is invaluable to the deck, a great commander for a beloved archetype.

Hythonia the Cruel – Mono Black Voltron. Hythonia is fantastic in that she doesn’t really need much evasion equipment to be a threat. You can wipe the board, attack and then blink her with Conjurer’s Closet to keep the path clear.

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While those are the commanders I’m most excited about, the cards that excite me more for the 99 are:

Prophet of Kruphix – Being the best parts of a Seedborn Muse and giving your creatures flash is a beautiful thing, something that my Animar deck has needed for quite some time.

Gift of Immortality – This card is great, my favourite thing about it is making Sun Titan really hard to get rid of.

Spear of Heliod – I love anthems. I love them even more when hey can shoot creatures down.

Bow of Nylea – It makes tokens decks 100% more deadly, it’s just so good.

Karametra’s Acolyte – Wow. This is the mana dork I’ve been looking for a long time. Being able to make more green equal to the green you already have? Wonderful.

Mistcutter Hyrda – Can you tell I like Green yet? Mistcutter Hydra is an autoinclude in decks that care about +1/+1 counters.

Purphoros, God of the Forge – I love red enchantments, especially when they do crazy stuff like Pandemonium-esque effects. Keep on rocking, Purphoros.

Abhorrent Overlord – I like tokens and I like harpies. It’s also a demon that lets you sac creatures. There’s a lot of usefulness there.

Erebos, God of the Dead – Another Everlasting Torment-esque card to throw in burn decks and MBC, might try running it in something eventually.

Whip of Erebos – More wondering things for token and graveyard decks! 4 mana unearth for anything AND lifelink? I’m not usually this drawn to Black.

Thassa, God of the Sea – Amazing scry engine, and able to make your saboteurs unblockable, simply goodstuff.

Master of Waves – Hilariously good in an Elemental Tribal deck, finally a lord that isn’t red, right?

Akroan Colossus – Easily my favourite Golem. It’s just so splashy and hilarious, I can’t wait to try it out myself.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx – Oh look, it’s a budget replacement for Gaea’s Cradle ! Fantastic!

All-in-all, I’d say Theros is great for Commander. It didn’t give us so much as to detract from other formats, but just enough to freshen up our decks and give ideas to brew new ones. Thanks to Wizards R&D for another fantastic set, one that I give an 8/10 on my abstract and undeveloped scale.

Now, I’d like to know what you think of Theros for Commander, what are your favourite cards, and how will they impact your game? Let me know by reply, ask or reblog. And if you feel I missed anything, or disagreed with anything I said, then don’t be afraid to discuss it with me.

 

 

theros preorder

Don’t delay! Preorder today!

Ranger of Crabs

ranger of crabs

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

If you often play some casual Magic or even sometimes the odd casual Modern/Legacy tournament at your local store, you have often probably tried to figure out how to make a decent or somewhat competitive mill deck for yourself or a friend. I’m not talking about the Painted Stone deck as that’s mainly just a 2-card combo deck. I mean milling them the hard way!

hedron crab banner

Feeling crabby?

The main advantage to building something like this is that it’s actually a good archetype deck to keep around and test against or play many casual games. Kind of like testing your deck’s resilience/speed versus a burn deck. It’s also really good at randomly disrupting combo decks such as Scapeshift/Valakut and Pestermite/Splinter Twin since it can actually mill enough combo pieces to the point where they cannot combo properly (more versus Valakut, since Pestermite has Kiki-Jiki and Deceiver Exarch)

Backstory

Of course I didn’t just come up with this deck out of the blue. I did however feel that a lot of people currently playing Magic are not aware that it ever existed. I see them try out cards like Tome Scour, Traumatize and Glimpse the Unthinkable. I ,in vain, try to convince them that there are much better ways to mill your opponent all the while keeping permanents /blockers in play. Ways that can even result in you attacking them sometimes (no, not Consuming Aberration).

no consuming aberration

Some other time bro! 

The deck uses Hedron crab and some strategically placed Archive Traps to mill out your opponent. It also has many tutors that are mostly instant speed. It clogs the board enough for you to not get totally overrun by various aggro decks as well. Without further ado, here’s the old decklist:

Ranger of Crabs

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Ponder
2 Wargate 
4 Forest
4 Island 
1 Marsh Flats 
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Plains
1 Scalding Tarn 
4 Terramorphic Expanse
3 Verdant Catacombs
4 Archive Trap
3 Path to Exile 
1 Pitfall Trap 
4 Trapmaker’s Snare
4 Hedron Crab  
4 Knight of the Reliquary 
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Ranger of Eos 

Sideboard

1 Wargate
1 Gargoyle Castle
3 Negate
1 Ravenous Trap
4 Rhox War Monk
3 Wall of Reverence
1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Pithing Needle

I have fond memories playing this at my local FNM‘s and having a blast. Most of my losses would come at the hands of the then popular Jund decks that everyone was tired of facing. I kept the deck for quite some time even after it was no longer Standard legal. It was fun to try this deck out at certain random Legacy and Extended tournaments back in the day. I speak like it’s been forever, but it’s only about 2.5 years ago. It does really feel like an eternity though.

The Ins and Outs

ranger of eos big

Antoine Ruel’s invitational card back then

Much like Snapcaster Mage came to be, so did Ranger of Eos. Magic Invitational tournaments were held up until 2007 and the winner got to design their own card (with their ‘likeness’ on the art of the card as well). It’s pretty cool as it can fetch sooo many utility creatures (as well as mana dorks) and it will only get better as more cards are released (such as Deathrite Shaman not too long ago).

As most of you have undoubtedly figured out : he is going to go fetch a couple of Hedron Crabs most of the time. When he’s not doing that he can grab us a couple of chump blockers or mana accelerators (in case we want to cast a big Wargate or hardcast Archive Traps).

His 3/2 body is pretty relevant and he can pretty much trade with quite a few things in order to soak up the damage that is dealt to us. He sometimes gets to attack but that’s not really our Plan A. If he gets to take down an opposing planeswalker then he’s done way more than his fair share. Once he’s gotten the Hedron Crabs, we can now focus on a good old Zendikar mechanic – Landfall.

Just drop those lands and let your Hedron Crabs start milling away your opponent’s library. A fetch means 6 cards, usually and obviously it just doubles if you have 2 Hedron Crabs out. If your opponent does not really have much in terms of removal (usually you know this by Game 2), you can go ahead and drop Hedron Crab on turn 1 then a fetchland (yes, even Terramorphic Expanse) on Turn 2.

misty rainforest

Fetchlands have never been this exciting (aside from their price tag)

It’s a Trap !

Indeed it is. The deck runs no less than four Trapmaker’s Snare (you soooo had to go look it up eh?) This seems really scrubby, but it does a few things here:

A) It thins out our deck. 

Between this and fetches (which remove basics from our deck as well) we are left with more chance to draw our support cards.

B) It like having 8 Archive Traps in the deck.

It really is. Also, we usually cast the Trapmaker’s Snares at times when we don’t have to pay the regular cost of Archive Trap (ie: when our opponent fetches in their deck)

C) Allows us to run a few other Traps

While not too exciting, getting a Pitfall Trap and casting it versus an annoying ground beater is pretty cool. Post-sideboard we also have Ravenous Trap against decks that utilize their graveyard or run Eldrazi creatures.

pitfall trap ravenous trap

Trapmaker’s Snare is not a Trap itself as that would be rather ‘over the top’ deck thinning.

We can also ‘force’ them to search their deck with everyone’s favorite removal spell:

path to exile

Take the bait?

Of course they don’t ‘have to’, in which case you get a ‘drawback-less’ removal. Alternatively, you can use it on your own creatures if you have some Hedron Crabs out to trigger Landfall and get some bonus mill. If you hit an opposing mana dork with this and they kind of needed the mana, they really almost have no choice but to search.

The other random advantage is that a lot of decks do not run many basic lands these days. Between the low basic count and your mills, they may very well be left with one or no actual lands to fetch.

Fetch it up!

This deck has a pretty high number of tutors (even when you don’t count the fetches).

Ranger of Eos

ranger of eos

Currently sees play in some Modern ‘Soul Sisters’ builds

Wargate

wargate

Any permanent, yes even a land (or preferably a fetchland)

Trapmaker’s Snare

trapmakers snare

It’s much better than it looks

Knight of the Reliquary

knight of the reliquary

Criminally underplayed in Modern

Path to Exile

path to exile90% removal/ 10% mana ramp, 100% value!

You’re probably going to be shuffling this deck quite a bit, so I’d suggest get some heavy-duty plastics. While I did not manage to find them, I recall there were these really really long lasting Ultra Pro sleeves back in the day. Mind you this was probably about 15 years ago or more. It looked as though someone cut out the Ultra Pro 9-pocket sleeves into individual sleeves. The plastics were thicker and to this day I am only missing one to be able to sleeve up a 60-card deck. I never seem to have them on hand while drafting and every time I come across them at home I curse the Ultra Pro gods.

If anyone out there would have a set to sell or even a few random sleeves, would you be kind enough to ship me them? I would offer some random store credit or something else. I searched long enough online for these and cannot even find so much as a picture. I guess I’ll post one on Carte Blanche Hobbies Facebook page eventually.

I’m not sure if you really ever sideboard in casual games, but assuming you do – you probably want the full 75 heavy duty sleeves. Having to switch sleeves when you sideboard is a total b*tch!

I really love Knight of the Reliquary in general and I feel that she is practically the glue that holds this deck together. She’s usually rather big the turn you cast her and she keeps the whole crab mill thing going every turn. You can often even get to attack with her and win that way. The current Modern metagame somehow does not allow for her to see much play and this reflects on her market price. I would pick up my playset now since the card can only really go up in value. I like both artworks of this card personally.

knight of the reliquary dd

This is clearly the version that attacks more

We have only 4 Forests and 2 Plains in the above list, but feel free to add some Temple Gardens, Hallowed Fountains or Breeding Pools to it. You can keep some basics since you run some Terramorphic Expanses and you need to remember that the Ravnica dual lands were not Standard-legal at the time. As long as you can playtest a few games and it seems that you can cast things properly while keeping the fetch/land ratio more or less the same then you’re doing it right.

Modern deck?

Well, not quite. It’s not exactly legal.

That’s a shame, but it doesn’t take much to make it legal. Can you spot the intruder? The random elephant in the room? It’s probably tricky, since it’s not really elephant-sized, it’s actually quite a small, innocent-looking card:

ponder

…Aaaand I now just notice that there is a guy’s face in the background of this card 

How can we remedy this problem if we truly want to play this in our local modern tournaments? Simple: do what the rest of the modern deck are doing.

Run either Serum Visions or Sleight of Hand. They are both Modern’s Brainstorms – a way to dig for card quality while maintaining card parity. The funny thing is that in this deck you are probably not sad to see lands at all. Sometimes leaving something on top with Scry won’t even matter if you’re going to fetch for a land anyways, so don’t waste much time there. Actually, try not to take too much time searching in general as it is probably going to be unpleasant for your opponents. It might not matter much if you don’t know them personally, but it’s somewhat of a consideration when playing versus your friends. This is the main reason why I advocate a tutor-free Commander format (but that will be addressed further in a future article).

Learning when to block

This is a tougher one for newer players, but you get better at it over time. While this deck does not offer much in terms of combat, you might want to block only when absolutely necessary. Sure, it might seem nice to soak up 4 damage randomly with a Birds of Paradise early game but it’s probably a terrible idea. Unless you blocked an infect creature or a creature that has a very powerful ‘when this creature deals combat damage’ effect, you probably didn’t do much. The Birds also represents more mana for when you get the cast Wargate later on or need to hard cast an Archive Trap.

If you absolutely need to add defensive measures in the main deck without sacrificing the core of the deck, you may want to check out the Bant-colored manlands from Worldwake. You can tutor them up with Knight of the Reliquary, but keep in mind however, that they don’t pay too nicely with fetches.

celestial colonnade

The biggest of the two

Celestial Colonnade allows us to even further go on offense when we can. It does required 5 other mana to activate and I don’t know how often that’s going to happen.

stirring wildwood

The red headed stepchild of the Worldwake manlands cycle

While you don’t really want to run any lands that come into play tapped more than you need to (Terramorphic Expanse), Stirring Wildwood is easier on the mana and offers a very reasonably-sized body. I would test the deck out with one copy of it and see how it does.

Sadly, none of these can come into play ready to block for us. Even assuming you fetch them with Knight of the Reliquary, you are going to be unable to block with them right away. The lands were available in Standard at the time and the deck did not run them since they were deemed too slow, but you may want to remember that Bloodbraid Elf was legal in that format. If it cascaded into a Blightning we were in big trouble. Maelstrom Pulse meant we could run the risk of losing all out Hedron Crabs to one card as well.

Thankfully, Bloodbraid Elf suffers the same problem as Ponder does in Modern : It’s banned

Modern competitive Mill ?

While the deck is very cute and synergetic, I am pretty sure it’s not a Tier 1 deck in the current Modern metagame. I have been playing a mill deck that is more Tier 2 in Modern and I’ll be writing about it soon. I don’t think I can write this stuff fast enough to make it ‘Mill Week’ on Carteblanchehobbies, but maybe ‘Mill Month?”

glimpse the unthinkable banner

Theros Previews: Wave 10

previews wave 10

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

Triad of Fates

triad of fates

Fate counters? Where have we seen that before?

I’m not going to try and pull the wool over your eyes to convince you that this card is going to fit into a competitive deck. The blink uses are fewer but still potent in the new Standard. We obviously already saw with Restoration Angel just how powerful that ability can be. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Keep the Triad of Fates alive long enough to make good use of its abilities.

Note: when the exiled creature returns to the battlefield it will no longer have a fate counter on it.

Firedrinker Satyr

firedrinker satyr

Jackal Pup version 2.0 !

Is Red Deck Wins looking like the top contender next format? If it wasn’t before, it sure is now. Add some Boros Reckoners, Ash Zealots and Burning-Tree Emissary and you have the beginnings of a deck. It’s not all rocket science when it comes to magic, sometimes it’s just about cramming 20 damage quickly and efficiently.

This guys is probably not going to deal you as much damage as he is going to deal your opponent. If you’re finding yourself having to block with it, then you’re probably doing it wrong. You might as well not block unless the attacker has a ‘when this creature deals combat damage to a player’ clause.

Dauntless Onslaught

dauntless onslaught

Looks like there’s more than just Martial Glory now

I’m not sure even this will be worthwhile enough for interesting Heroic triggering, but we need something for the limited formats. Otherwise it’s basically a split pump spell that can potentially save two of your guys or kills a couple of theirs (combat trick of course).

Keepsake Gorgon

keepsake gorgon

Removal that eventually gets there

The Gorgons get to have the ‘built-in’ deathtouch ability I suppose. You can get in some interesting two-for-ones with this little hoarder. If you’re ever short on playables for your low-budget Commander deck, you can go ahead and sleeve this up.

Anger of the Gods

anger of the gods

It’s about time !

You can call it Pyroclasm, Slagstorm, Earthquake or whatever. It’s baaaaack! For quite some time we’ve had to put up with little weenie rushes dominating the early game and now we get to saw: No More!

It seems so long ago since I cast Slagstorms in Standard and it’s going to feel great doing it again. You also get the bonus of the creatures getting exiled if they die so that ‘when this creatures dies’ triggers don’t happen. I can appreciate that it doesn’t affect players so that random aggressive decks don’t run this. Sure we had Magmaquake (still do until Setp. 27), but that spell never really amounted to much.

I know that most of you are thinking: “but wasn’t there Bonfire of the Damned?” and the short reply to that is: “Sort of …”.

You see, it was sort of terrible to have this card in your opening 7 and then you had to hope to topdeck it before like turn 4-5 (when you are getting attacked by the more aggressive decks. Without any ramp spell we were forced to cast it for X=2 on turn 5 which wasn’t always good. This card comes down on turn 3 and does 3 (again, Bonfire would only hit for X=1 at that point since we have not even made our land drop on that turn if we Miracle it.)

We’ll be seeing a lot of this card in the new Standard format and that’s a good thing.

Agent of the Fates

agent of the fates

Agent of Liliana of the Veil is more like it

Here we have a creature with decent stats and an ability that is reminiscent of Lilian of the Veil’s. Thing is: it’s a Heroic ability in a color where our spells that target will usually be removal spells. I suppose that it can somehow fit in a Red/Black weenie style deck and can be used to get in some 2-for-1’s in combat sometimes.

We’ll see just how much effort people are going to put into making this card’s Heroic ability trigger. At the very least it will go toe-to-toe with their best non-flying non-first striker. Agent of the Fates being a human might also merit in a spot in some Black/White Xathird Necromancer deck, since Humans appear to be a thing in our upcoming Standard format.

Fabled Hero

fabled hero

Love that quote !

Reminiscent of Mirran Crusader from Scars of Mirrodin, Fabled Hero is going to be competing for the White Weenie/Boros deck 3-drop slot with Fiendslayer Paladin.  Both cards have their merits: Fiendslayer obviously stacks up better against the colors it has removal-protection against, while Fabled Hero can get a ridiculously huge amount of damage in quickly or trade with opposing 4-toughness creatures.

You also get Spear of Heliod that makes it into a 3/3 (or if you prefer, 6-damage dealing killing machine).  Any time the Heroic on this gets triggered, you can think of it as getting a permanent +2/+2 because of its double strike ability. It not having any protection like its Mirran predecessor makes it somewhat less good on its own, causing it to probably see considerably less play.

Spellheart Chimera

spellhear chimera

Magnivore and Cognivore had a kid

I really adore this card. It offers Izzet decks an effcinetly-costed finisher. Think of it as an evasive creature already coming into play equipped with a Runechanter’s Pike. I don’t know how prevalent reanimator or anit-reanimator strategies are going to be post-rotation, but Scavenging Ooze on its own doesn’t really count here. Every little burn or card-drawing spell can be used to grow this thing.

You can even use Steam Augury as a a mini-combat trick, dumping it and maybe another instant in the graveyard for some extra combat damage (potentially enough to take the game). The Chimera creature type is pretty odd though, I would have preferred Goat, or more specifically: Flying Goat. Chimeras do originate in Greek mythology, but this one seems out of place, all on its own with no fellow tribe members. While we see some of its cousins show up in Theros Block‘s two other sets?

To be Continued …

 

 

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