M14: Tips and Tricks

m14 tips and tricks

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

Well, Magic: 2014 is now upon us and you have undoubtedly had your fair share of limited play. The set looks simple enough that one would expect some pretty straightforward play, but that is not always the case. Let’s get our feet wet and start off with a fairly nice combo involving two of the more interesting uncommons of this set.

Here are 20 little card interactions you should keep an eye out if you’re drafting/sealing the Magic 2014 expansion.

1. Bubbling Cauldron + Angelic Accord

bubbling cauldron angelic accord

I’ll give you a few second to let it sink in…. Yeah, I know right? Seems so simple when it’s staring you right in the face, no?

I was playing a sealed (one of many) last week at a local game store and my deck was so bad that I started looking for combos. Needless to say that I was just thrilled when I noticed this. Of course technically there is a third piece to this combo called ‘Any Creature you control’.

Before you go off trying to find this mystery card simply run a Gatherer search for ‘Creature’ under f’Filter Card Type’. Yes, I’m just trolling you. It’s basically any creature you happen to have in play. Sacrifice it, preferably after blocking an attacker and you will have satisifed Angelic Accord’s ‘end of turn’ trigger.

What’s even cooler is that it triggers at ANY end of turn step, meaning that if you find a way to gain 4 life each turn (yours and your opponent’s) you will be rewarded with a 4/4 flying angel token:

m14 angel tokenThis time we only get the Angel side of the token as opposed to the reversible Angel/Demon ones

Barring that, we also get to mimic some pseudo- Serra Angel/ Baneslayer Angel action. Of course we need to work a tiny bit to get this super creature going. We get to attack with the 4/4 Angel token then sacrifice it before our end of turn to gain 4 life. This will have gained us 4 life  as though the Angel token had lifelink. It will also create a new Angel Token as though our Angel Token had ‘vigilance’.

Keep in mind that this is the ‘bare minimum’ here. You can easily sacrifice a ‘lesser’ creature to make a 4/4 Angel Token and just grow your own Angel army, just like you had cast a really really slow Entreat the Angels. You have to also keep in mind that this involves two uncommons, but if we want to ‘spice it up’ a little we can add this to the mix:

trading post

Like this card really needed to be part of a combo

2. Strionic Resonator + cards that trigger it

strionic resonator

Yeah, I ran that Standard card search for you!

3. Bubbling Cauldron +  Act of Treason

bubbling cauldron act of treason

You get all the value on this!

This one is basically the usual steal and sac maneuver we often see with Red/Black combinations. Can also be accomplished with Blood Bairn, Altar’s Reap and Gnawing Zombie in this Set.

4. Air Servant + Zephyr Charge

air servant zephyr charge

Yes, I’ll admit it’s rather costly just to tap down a non-flying creature. Air Servant is good on its own though and Zephyr Charge can be pretty nice if you’re short on actual fliers. Another neat trick is to pair off Zephyr Charge with cards like Windstorm and Plummet.

5. Archaeomancer + Disperse

archaeomancer disperse

Much like in M13 with Unsummon, this 2 card combo can keep you alive long enough to draw some answers. Plus when you do, you’ll probably have something better to recur than Disperse.

6. Auramancer + Quag Sickness

auramancer quag sick

Usually Auramancer is kinda blah, but in Magic 2014 enchantments matter with other cards like Blightcaster. White/Black Auras is not a terrible deck if you have the synergies going. Think of Quag Sickness as a Doom Blade and Auramancer as an Archaeomancer and everything will be ok, I promise.

7. Blightcaster + Quag Sickness

blightcaster quag sick

Pretty similar to the above interaction only it’s usually a 2 for 1. You cast Quag Sickness, Blightcaster triggers and usually takes down a 2 toughness creature then you place Quag Sickness on something bigger and either end up killing it or severely crippling its offensive capabilities.

8. Dragon Egg + Barrage of Expendables

dragon egg barrage of exp

You can’t just sit around and wait for the egg to hatch on its own can you now? Without the usual sacrifice outlets in Black (as we saw before) and the aforementioned artifacts, we can look to this little gem of an enchantment to help us out.  Ideally you don’t want to just sacrifice the Dragon Egg to ping your opponent in the face for 1, you want to get some value out of it (like finishing off a bigger creature or chump blocking with it and forcing a trade somewhere else).

I know you’re thinking that you can also sacrifice the dragon token and deal an additional 1 damage, but no! You don’t want to be doing that just to get the damage output of a Shock (unless you absolutely have to), The fire-breathing dragon token will be valuable to you in the long run (much like they were to Daenerys in Game of Thrones).

9. Elite Arcanist + Doom Blade

elite arcanist doom blade

I specified Doom Blade here because it is the most efficient one, but of course if your opponent is playing black you can go with Chandra’s Outrage. You can keep dealing 2 while taking down one of their dudes each turn. You don’t even need to attack, how cool is that? Ok, not extremely but it’s pretty respectable in the realm of M14 limited.

10. Fireshrieker + Creatures with Deathtouch

fireshrieker deathgaze buzzards

First strike and deathtouch work very well together as do trample and deathtouch (since you only need to assign 1 damage to a blocker and can deal the rest to the defending player). Nothing ‘magical’ here but you can take down multiple blockers or as is otherwise known, your creature becomes ‘unblockable’.

11. Goblin Diplomats + Guardian of the Ages

goblin diplomats guardian of the ages

It’s often rather tasking to get the Guardian to attack, unless you’re ‘diplomatic‘ about it. Yes, that was rather cheesy. The combo also involves 2 Rare cards so it will be less likely to have in an M14 draft. The Goblins themselves are pretty much removal since they will often force your opponent to attack with smaller creatures they normally would not.

12. Advocate of the Beast + Marauding Maulhorn

advocate of the beast marauding ma

While this is probably the easiest combo to find since Advocate of the Beast is mentioned in the Marauding Maulhorn rules text, it’s rather effective and more importantly common.  You can also try fitting in a Mutavault (if you were lucky enough to open one) since you can activate it before your end of turn and give it a +1/+1 counter with Advocate of the Beast.

13. Ogre Battledriver + Young Pyromancer

ogre battledriver young pyromancer

Of course it also requires you to cast instants/sorceries but now your tokens get to attack for 3 the turn they come into play (or be 3 power blockers if you cast something during an opponent’s turn. Our monored team-up here is very effective. Who would have guessed that a whip-carrying ogre would work well with a goggle-wearing Chandra fanboy?

The combo itself may even become somewhat potent in Standard (probably paired off with some blue card-drawing spells). Even something sub-optimal such as casting a turn 4 Ogre Battledriver followed by turn 5 Young Pyromancer X 2 can be threatening. Another spell that can be pretty potent is Dynacharge or Dragonshift, if we dare to dream a little bit.

dragonshift

Maybe, just maybe

14. Chandra’s Phoenix + Chandra, Pyromaster

chandra pyromaster chandra's phoenix

What is a Pyromaster without her pet? Not much actually. With it? Slightly less bad.

Yes, I continue my Chandra, Pyromaster hate here since even recurring a Chandra’s Phoenix (probably from all the chump-blocking required to protect her) does not even make her more playable. Wait what if we attack and stuff? Woah!

I’m willing to give her a chance, but the decklist would have to be something more alluring than the usual ‘Red Deck Wins’ kind.

Maybe even add this combo-riffic piece:

pyromancer's gauntlets

Just think of how ‘insane’ it can get with multiple Gauntlets. Trading Post control anyone?

15. Primeval Bounty + Into the Wilds

primeval bounty into the wilds

Wait, what? No creatures in this? It almost seems like a weird enchantress deck and that’s the reason I’m mentioning it. While both cards are OK on their own merits (Bounty being better by far), they might get much better in Theros. You see, enchantments matter in the next block so you’ll need to ‘stock up’ on them now. Just sayin’!

Basically, look at your top card. Land? slam it down and gain 3 life to then draw what is hopefully a nonland and cast that. Creature? Great! gain another creature. Noncreature? cast it and boost one of your existing creatures or if it’s it has flash/is an instant  – use it as a combat trick.

theros

Sooner than you think

16. Ratchet Bomb + Trading Post

ratchet bomb trading post

Yes, it’s 2 rares. Yes, it’s also slow. Keep in mind that this limited format is also rather slow, so you have time to set it up and keep it going. Nothing fancy really, just pump out those goat tokens and recur the Ratchet Bomb when needed. You can also ‘slow cycle’ by sacrificing a making a Goat Token every other turn and getting the Ratchet Bomb back to sacrifice it with Trading Post to draw a card then repeat. Yeah, not fast at all.

Speaking of goats – remember that they were and are still used as bargaining chips in Greece. Theros is based on Greek Mythology. Will we see some more cards that give us value for our Goat Tokens? It only seems fitting, right?

goat token m14

*Goat Noise* 

17. Archangel of Thune + Soulmender

archangel of thune soulmender

We had to include one of the most sough-after mythics in the set here, right? Soulmender grows our angel and keeps us alive long enough in the meantime. For those of you who have played versus similar cards such as Soul Warden in the past, you know exactly how much of a nuisance Soulmender can be.

Simply getting to attack with the Archangel of Thune and deal damage also grows it, so it’s not like it ‘needs’ Soulmender, but it is a welcome addition. It’s also an infinite life combo in Modern with Spike Feeder (I think how that works is rather obvious).

18. Time Ebb + Tome Scour

time ebb tome scour

If you’re going for the mill plan (aka. you opened a Jace, Memory Adept in one of your M14 boosters), try Time Ebb. It has some pretty good synergy with the mill cards. Put a guy on top and then mill him. Simple as that!

Of course you should make it worthwhile and not just target any dork, unless of course you’re milling with Jace and are short on blockers. In such a case you probably just want to activate the +1 ability on Jace and not go for the full 10 mill since you want to recoup the cost of wasting a card on their creature and end up accomplishing pretty much the same thing.

19. Voracious Wurm + Verdant Haven

voracious wurm verdant haven

Pretty much any lifegain is also good (Trading Post, Brindle Boar,etc). Preferably, you are sacrificing the boar to gain 4 life in order to drop back a 6/6 blocker. If you have 4 mana, it’s perfectly acceptable to verdant haven one of your lands in order to get a 4/4 creature afterwards.

In the case of Trading Post, it really depends what you’re pitching to it. You don’t want to discard a removal just to get a big creature most of the time. The prime fodder is probably excess lands.

20. Trained Condor + Scroll Thief

trained condor scroll thief

It can be done with any creature really, but gaining a card is very key here. Plus it’s somewhat ‘on curve’. You drop Scroll Thief turn 3 if you think you can sneak in a card (it’s maybe OK to waste a removal on their only blocker here). Otherwise, you play Trained Condor first going for the extra damage output.

m14 logo

That’ll have to be all for today. I tried to keep the card interactions low on Rares/Mythics to simulate more of what you would see in a draft.If you have any other card interactions I missed (I really only tried to cap at 20), please let us know.

Magic 2014: Bogbrew Witch and more

m14 logo

 

Here’s another edition of the upcoming Magic 2014 Core Set spoilers. Let’s get things under way with somewhat of a combo card:

 

Bogbrew Witch

bogbrew witch

They can’t all look like Sabrina the Teenage Witch

sabrina

Not even close !

Let’s focus on what this flavourful card does:

bogbrew text

Festering Newt and Bubbling Cauldron?

So what are these cards she can search for and how do they fit in the grand scheme of things? Does she give us anything neat to do or are we just tutoring for random jank?

Festering Newt

festering newt

Festering Goblin‘s ‘evolution’

So this thing can take down 5/5 s? Nice.

Oh wait, there’s some fine print on the Witch that indicates our little Salamander enters the battlefield tapped. There will be no easy value tricks here! Still, you can block some 2 power dudes and activate the witch at your opponent’s end fof turn to slowly gather your army of salamanders.

Let’s take a look at the final piece of this odd combination of cards.

Bubbling Cauldron

bubbling cauldron

Like a mini Trading Post

Oh! I see… That’s how the poor little Newt dies. Neat! So if all goes according to plan, we can kill 4 of our opponent’s creatures AND drain them for 16 points of damage. Cool cool! This is probably going to be a nice little gimmick deck to keep around. Not really going to cost much to build and it’s fun to play with once in a while. Unless something really insane is released in M14 that makes this ‘deck’ (and I use the term loosely) viable, I don’t see this getting played in Standard. If such a deck were to exist, you probably would only need one copy of the cauldron since it’s tutorable and is less likely to be destroyed/countered (especially if it’s just put into play with the witch).

It reminds me a little bit of these past ‘built-in’ combos.

spirit of the night crewSpirit of the Night represent!

the unspeakable

So powerful it cannot be spoken of

While the ‘big’ card may seem weaker in the Bogbrew Witch ‘engine’ , the end result is much much better than these previous ‘combos’ could hope for. Plus it featured cards that potentially are more useful on their own.

It’s nice to see Wizards of the Coast redo something like this. A lot of people have complained and said it’s very Yu-Gi-Oh! ish , but I think it has its place in Magic: the Gathering as long as it’s done in small doses.

If you ever open a Bogbrew Witch in a draft format it’s definitely worth trying to incorporate in your deck (even if you only get like 0 Cauldrons and 2 Newts).

Door of Destinies

door of destiniesSlivers rejoice!

It’s been really popular since its introduction and is actively sought after still. Of course the first thing that comes to mind is Slivers, but elves are not too far behind. Granted there are not many elves out at the moment but that may change (probably after Theros block since there are no elves in Greek Mythology).

Door of Destinies is going to find its way into numerous deck, but of course most of which will be casual. A self-bouncing creature could potentially put a great deal of counters on this thing.

faerie impostorA couple of these might do the trick

fathom mage

Sprinkle some of this…

That’s just a quick example and perhaps not all that impressive but you can do some pretty sick things with it for sure. Infinite sacrificing of Persist creatures also work (just that most don’t share a creature type). You’re gonna have to choose between Ouphe or Goblin.

murderous redcap kitchen finks

                                                  Decisions, decisions …

One more before the next article

Witchstallker

witchstalker

Of course there have been many similar to it in the past

I really dislike the Hexproof ability as it produced perhaps the most unfun deck to play against in recent memory (the deck being Bant Auras in Standard, which featured Geist of Saint Traft and Invisible Stalker). It really discourages any interaction and purely gives you an advantage. At least the Shroud ability made it fair to both players.

Then again, I can’t really argue much since Magic: the Gathering is now more popular than it has ever been. They are obviously doing many things right. I just don’t think this is one of them.

Witchstalker is fierce but it fails the Restoration Angel test. The angel is not a blue or black spell, so when it is flashed in as a blocker against the Witchstalker it will block, kill it and live to tell the tale. However, since Witchstalker is hexproff you might as well enchant it with something like an Unflinching Courage before sending it off to battle. If Unflinching Courage gets countered, the Witchstalker grows, in which case Restoration Angel is no longer a problem.

big bad wolf

Come out come out wherever you are

This thing looks like the big bad wolf and in many cases it will be. It’s going to give multiple headaches to a lot of control decks out there.

That about wraps it up for…. Ok, ok! One more for the road.

Path of Bravery

path of bravery

Part Glorious Anthem part Righteous Cause

I’m not going to go into much depth about this as there are countless lifegain cards, but we’ll just leave it at this guy:

rhox faithmender

Will he be returning in M14 ?

There are many lifegain cards already in the M14 Core Set, so a return would somewhat make sense. On that note, I’m out of here.