Category Archives: Magic Mondays
Spoiler season for Dragon’s Maze started last night and among the first things WoTC dropped was this baby:
Needless to say, I am stoked. I loved the split cards first reprinting in Dissention and then the craziness that was Planar Chaos and this new iteration feels like an evolution of a Magic mainstay since Invasion. Granted Fire//Ice and Boom//Bust are probably the only two splits that see any regular play at Comp Rel, but there’s plenty of them that have pretty solid uses–and I’m betting this one will be seeing serious play:
See, there was this card in Champions of Kamigawa called Glimpse of Nature. For those not familiar, it was a sorcery for G that had rules text to the effect of whenever you cast a creature for the rest of the turn, you draw a card. Sadly, it was banned almost immediately when Modern was first formed because of decks like this one played by LSV in the community cup just before WoTC replaced Extended with Modern. The the main concept was build into an Elf-powered ball of mana and then hardcast Emrakul. It could do this on turn 2. Turn 2.
Beck is cut from the same cloth. The extra mana cost makes it a bit harder to combo off on turn two with, but it works with ETBs and not on cast. Which makes me wonder if RUG Twin will make a come back over Raka (WUR)–I know I’m certainly going to give it a try–I can definitely see Combo Elves trying to make a come back in Modern with it.
Beyond that, the rest of last night’s spoilers were pretty much around were I expected. Ral’s a solid walker with some neat abilities that are 110% Izzet. Malek is going to be one heck of an EDH general. I am surprised Resto’s ability is staying in standard, albeit at a lower power level.
Can’t wait for tonight to see what new goodies get spoiled. We have 8 guild champions left and who knows what else waiting to see the light of day.
’til next time!~
Last week I mentioned a Dega build–that wasn’t The Aristocrats–that was putting up results on MODO. I can say after some testing that this fact isn’t a fluke. The deck has answers for days and having Rites as a means to extend the usefulness of your fatties places the deck in a position that allows it to take on all comers.
Prime Speaker Bant
Did a couple test hands against Renee’s build for PS Bant. Of course since it was the first hand since either of us put the deck together, game one was going to go to whomever was less mana screwed–which ended up being Renee. Game two was a similar affair, only I won the land screw draw. Game three through, game three showed off. I started with a Faithless looting that put both Unburial Rites in the graveyard. Renee dropped a Smiter and proceeded to beat down. Lingering souls held the line for a few turns until she got an Angel of Serenity online. A timely ultimate price into Olivia Voldaren seemed like it was going to stabilize me, but a Zaganna ETB got Renee ahead. I stole Zaganna and then I swung…right into an Azorius Charm. Renee got her Zaganna back and killed me.
I realize I lost because of misplay. I should have have activated Vault of the Archangel and gunned down both creatures, but that’s the advantage of hindsight.
Hung out at Kaboom down in Va Beach on Saturday while visiting the fam and played a couple games.
My first couple of hands were against a GR Werewolves build that pushed me very hard game one. Post board, with more removal and more rites, I outclassed it and both games two and three went heavily in my favor.
My second match was with UWR flash and geez did their build have a pile of answers. Game one was what felt like an endless torrent of negate, counterflux, rewind, and snapcaster mages. Game two was a brilliant looting into Rites, Obzedat followed by Lingering Souls and Lilianna of the Veil. Ended up a win off the back of two Boros Charms. Game three was another amazing looting (Rites, Aurelia). Won on Souls, Obzedat and Lilianna.
Knowing that this UWR Flash was more worried about counter and lass about burn, its hard to get a good feel for where I am in the more global match-up. I feel like I shouldn’t have won off of Lingering Souls twice, but its how the games played out. Going to get some more testing tonight and I’ll update when I get back.
Well, I say scrubbing out, but I was statistically in contention for money pretty much the whole day until I lost in round 7. Honestly, this is the best I’ve ever done at a large event and, in the abstract, I’m overall pleased with 3-5. Really though, I’m still quite sad. Looking back on my play, there are numerous places where I could have done better. Deck wise, the Spicy Raka build was right on for most of its matches, but not having Boros Reckoners to side in against aggro was a pretty big issue. Had I the four of, two of my losses to aggro could very well have been wins. I also missed a Pillar of Flame interaction with Doomed Traveler that likely cost me Round 1 game 1 against Esper Spirits.
But that’s last week. Let’s talk this week.
First off, this deck happened and as a wedge player I can only say it’s about time.
|4 Blood Crypt
3 Clifftop Retreat
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
3 Sacred Foundry
2 Vault of the Archangel
2 Aurelia, the Warleader
|1 Blasphemous Act
4 Faithless Looting
4 Lingering Souls
3 Mizzium Mortars
1 Rakdos’s Return
3 Tragic Slip
2 Unburial Rites
2 Liliana of the Veil
|1 Blasphemous Act
2 Gloom Surgeon
2 Liliana of the Veil
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Purify the Grave
3 Rakdos’s Return
1 Rolling Temblor
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Unburial Rites
I’m not 100% on the Sideboard, I feel like 4/75 cards being Rakdos’s Return is a bit much, esp. with 4 Liliana of the Veil as well. I’m probably going to run a package that’s more like the following to be better matched up against things like Reanimator, PSZ Bant, or Flash, where I’m just dead if the resolve an Angel of Serenity for value.
3 Ultimate Price
2 High Priest of Penance
2 Liliana of the Veil
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Purify the Grave
1 Rakdos’s Return
2 Rakdos Charm
1 Unburial Rites
Ultimate Price, Purify the Grave, and Rakdos Charm each allow me to respond at instant speed to either their reanimation or Zanganna and Angel of Serenity’s ETB triggers. I won’t catch everyone, but there are definitely times where I’ll get things exiled permanently off an Angel or make them draw one card off Zaganna.
Going to be playing the above build this weekend and will report back on how it does. Not sure If I’m playing over at the Pillage or down at Kaboom in Va Beach, but I’m sure to be having a blast either way with my second favorite color combo behind RUG.
Speaking of RUG, RUG Flash finally put up some tournament results with a top 16 finish at SCGKC. The build is pretty much what I was running pre-GTC with Yeva and Huntmaster doing most of the heavy lifting. Should this Dega build not work out, it’s likely I’ll go back to that. Aggro-Control is my main skillset and these two builds are right in that wheelhouse.
Anyway, ’til next week!
So I was up in Boston last weekend for The Association of Writing Professionals annual conference and by time Friday rolled around, I was absolutely done with the highfalutin, not-interested-in-you-because-you-write-genre-fiction attitude I had gotten through out the day. So I hopped on the 1 Bus and headed over to Cambridge to get in some FNM and testing for DC this weekend at Pandemonium. (Yes, I left a writing convention to go play Magic, crown me king of the dorks now). Getting over there was a bit rough. The streets were clogged with slush and every intersection from the bus stop brought with it another chilly plunge, still I soldiered on–though I arrived late and got a match loss.
Which turned out to not be all that terrible. I got to watch two guys play Android: Netrunner, based on a long lost CCG designed by Richard “always designing things” Garfield which in turn was based heavily on Cyberpunk 2020 a setting very similar to Shadowrun. The asymmetrical deck system had some interesting aspects that I think will help with my own “Dungeon Crawler”. One player plays as a Megacorp, whose goal is to advance agendas. The other player is a runner or hacker and their goal is to break in and steal information. Corps and runners each have their own pool of cards and decks are built from them–which means no mirror matches of Bant Control on Bant Control. While the series is more of a board game format now, with ll you need in one box, there’s still a deck building aspect and, as Fantasy Flight does, there are plans for regular expansions–one of which is up for pre0-order now.
After they wrapped up, there was still time left in the round so I talked with the judge, an L1 named Amelia, about the store and how Fridays normally went. With Pandemonium being only one of a few card shops in the Boston metro area, the game room is consistently packed, that night there were about 100 people there. Not surprisingly, most people drafted, but there was a good number of standard players. What stuck me as odd was that she didn’t have any help, unlike our store where nearly half of the players are at least rules advisers, Amelia is the only judge at the store. She said it was because few players wanted to consistently to give up their Friday night play time to help out and that’s kind of sad. Beyond Friday, we talked about other events that she runs including Casual Sunday, where she has players draft the Store Cube, all the way up to PTQs which are typically held at a nearby hotel. At the point the round was over so she posted pairings.
I sat down across from a guy with flaming red hair, I believe his name was Andrew. We chatted for a bit while shuffling and I won the roll and went first. Two turns in, I literally squeed. We were both playing RUG. The first game was a steam roll in my favor and we went to board–which is when the problems happened. See, my RUG build is low range aggro-control, his was midrange full-control. He got a card drawing engine online and though the second game was close, he pulled ahead with a timely ‘tusk followed by Zagana. Game three was a bit of a misplay on my part, I kept a hand of Strangleroot, Boar, two lands, and three charms. At which point I drew nothing but land. Even so, the game came down to 5-7 before his Deadbridge pushed through with a wolf run.
Match two was against Grixis Delver, but it too wasn’t like any build I had seen previously. The deck hammered me down game one with dual Falkenrath Aristocrats. Game two my deck went off like an explosion and I won in five turns. The highlight of which was a stack war over my Quirion Dryad who ended up a 6/6 by time all was said and done. Game three was super close, but he got another ‘risto online and I didn’t have answers.
The last match of the night was against a guy named Jared who was running Grixis Control. Unfortunately for him, Strangleroot and Pyreheart ruined his sweepers and both games went to me in quick succession with a solid beat down.
1-3 might seem bad, but I feel like more of the games would have gone in my favor had I not played poorly. The deck still needs some tweaking, but I feel like it’s in a good spot. More testing tonight and we’ll see!
Oh mine guttes! GP Charlotte…
Friday – Getting there
Leading up to the weekend I was suffering from one heck of a head cold, but I’d lived through worse and, as always, paid the illness no mind. Left on Friday around noon after picking up a couple of other players from The Pillage. The route we drove took us down 81, through the mountains. Had I know what I do know, I would have suggested 95 a bit more strongly. Thirty minutes into the drive, just past Front Royal, I felt like my head was being stuffed with cotton while also being clamped down on. Right after, my hearing went all wonky and I developed quite the headache. This is the state I played in all weekend–and that very well might be a major contributing factor to my subpar GP experience.
We got to Charlotte just after six, just enough time to check in to the hotel and get to the hall for Foiled Again.
Friday – Foiled Again
In my mind a super-sized FNM , there were about 250 people playing Standard, where playing got you an FNM promo and each round you won garnered another. Played Life Bomb after managing to find the last two Sorin’s I needed for the deck. Match One, I drew with UWr Tempo after assembling the combo game one and losing game two. That put my win by combo count to two out of nearly 20 games at that point. Not a good sign, but I’ll get to that later.
Even so, my other two matches were pretty solid outings with Obzedat/Sorin wins. I lost to RDW in the final round to end 2-1-1 after running over to register for the next day. I couldn’t hear shit with the noise from the grinders going on by the main event stage, but eventually the judge and I synced up and I got signed up.
Though I was a bit sad that my 2-1-1 finish meant I only got three foils, I finally have a playset of FNM Gitaxian Probes now and the pack I got for being top 64 had a Domri in it. This was the high point of the weekend, if I’m honest.
I know, I know, I was just praising the format last week, but I had one hell of a week. Between deck testing at lunch and at my store’s Monday Night Standard, I’ve pretty much given up on making RUG work for the forseeable future. RDW/BDW and Gruul are more effective aggro plans, Jund is better at grinding and taking control of a game, and xUW Flash is better at well…Flash.
So I’ve got one deck brewing, the one I ended up playing last Friday: Supreme Ooze. It definitely needs some tweaks, but I think the Predator Ooze + Supreme Verdict synergy is worth looking into. Was using Zameck Guildmage and Ooze Flux to turn Undying back on for Young Wolf and Strangleroot Geist, but my 2 drop spot is really croweded so I may drop the guild mage in favor of another undying creature, possibly Stormbound Geist. Cathar’s crusade is definitely out though. I liked the improvised evolve mechanic, but it’s ultimately not worth it since I can’t fake people out into wasting removal on what seems to be an undying creature with a +1/+1 counter on it since the Remove a counter for ooze flux to make an ooze will resolve before the burn does meaning the +1/+1 counter goes right back. Maybe just run a couple more unsummons and simic charms and bounce the guildmage on their turn end and then verdict?
Anyway, I have another deck idea I want to play with RWB control. Why those colors and control? Well, I want to play Aurelia and she’s RW. Now, for six mana there’s three places she goes. In a midrange deck, in a reanimator deck, and in a control deck. Now, as a midrange threat, she’s kind of weak in comparison to Huntmaster, Thragtusk, and Restoration Angel and she’s probably too much for RUW flash to pay for. So that leaves reanimator and control. With Angel of Glory’s Rise and Humanimator being thing, maybe Aurelia is a worthwhile include, but honestly the deck doesn’t have much space that it isn’t using for the combo. In a more conventional reanimator, there are better fatties to grab between Craterhoof and Griselbrand. Which leaves control as the last place she can feasibly be played.
So what combinations can we play?
- Boros Control — with Blind Obedience this seems like it could be a possibility, but there’s not really a method of gaining card advantage
- RWU — Just no, Flash is a better build
- RWG (Naya) — Again, no. Aggro and Midrange is where Naya is king
- Which leaves RWB. So what’ve we got?
- Well…how about some super effective flyers to attack with?
- Desecration Demon
- Olivia Voldaren
- Vampire Nighthawk
- Thundermaw Hellkite
- Restoration Angel
- And some solid sweepers
- Rolling Temblor
- Bonfire of the Damned
- Mizzium Mortars
- Merciless Eviction
- Divine Reckoning
- Killing Wave
- Great Burn
- Boros Charm
- Searing Spear
- And all the removal, ever
- Pillar of Flame
- Searing Spear
- Mizzium Mortars
- Tragic Slip
- Devour Flesh
- Ulitmate Price
- Human Frailty
- Victim of the Night
- Angelic Edict
- Tribute to Hunger
- Barter in Blood
- Killing Glare
- Death Wind
- Orzhov Charm
“So why not play Jund then? This seems like you’re just trying to do something different for the sake of difference. In fact, this is worse than Jund or Naya because no Farseek, Huntmaster, or Thragtusk.”
Because while those lists above are available to each they’re tied to Green and thus Thrag and Huntmaster, they can not get away from them lest they be overrun by the Aggro decks. With Extort and Nighthawk we’ve got most of the lifegain we need and Tribute to hunger isn’t a bad backup tune–and we can always side in Faithmender.
Spent nearly twenty four hours at the store over the weekend for the Gatecrash Prerelease. Really, there isn’t much to say in terms of meta, but I do have a better impression of the set as a whole and what it’s going to bring to standard.
As is typical, it’s on a card by card basis that anything will cross over into standard. On a few choice cards Bloodrush is going to be one heck of a tool. In xRG decks that focus on aggro, one opening is all a good deck will need to half your life total with one swing. Granted, it’s not much of a boost for Jund, but Naya and RUG both look like they’re in good places to start making waves in the format with the addition of Zhur-taa Swine and Ghor-Clan Rampager.
As for the other mechanics, I’m not too sure. Extort will see play on Blind Obedience because the enchantment is great at shutting down aggression early. Dimir’s secondary mechanic “Grind” or “mill until you hit a land” is already being speculated about in Legacy and I think it’s got a place as part of a mill win-con, but the Cipher spells are all either over costed or highly situational. That isn’t to say I don’t want to build decks around them, but I feel like the probable combinations already have excellent options that aren’t as clunky. Though who knows? BUG and Esper could find a use for them. It’s very likely that Zameck Guildmage will see play in decks that have abusable +1/+1 counter interactions, either resets for Undying or as part of a token control scheme. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fathom Mage didn’t find herself a place in some xUG control list.
But we all know the Standard Bearer for GTC is Boros Charm. This 2CMC spell is likely to see play for the forseeable future in any deck that can spare the room for it.
As far as limited goes though, the set is much more balanced feeling than RTR was. The control route feels like it’s a valid path to victory and isn’t totally outclassed by aggro and midrange plans. Having reliable removal back in the set makes landing bombs less of a instant win and more of a classic threat moment. I can’t wait to get in a couple of drafts before returning to Standard.
All in all, Gatecrash is looking like one heck of a good time and I can’t wait to see what happens this weekend.
|4 Legion Loyalist
4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Ash Zealot
4 Rakdos Shred-Freak
3 Falkenrath Aristocrat
3 Spark Trooper
|2 Rolling Temblor
2 Aurelia’s Fury
2 Rakdos’s Return
4 Bump in the Night
4 Boros Charm
4 Searing Spear
4 Blood Crypt
4 Sacred Foundry
2 Clifftop Retreat
2 Dragonskull Summit
2 Godless Shrine
Oh yeah! RWB beatdown. I don’t know why I can’t quit this wedge, maybe its because the color trio doesn’t really have an identity like some of the other wedges, but I really want to make it work. The format is full of spells and creatures that are part red, part black/white, and all beat to the face. I wonder where I would have been at the open had I not given up on my original build that nearly won me a couple GPTs and gone with Dega Humans which lacked any real bite. So I’m going back to Rakdos Wins with a splash of Boros to see if Dega can’t win a couple games.
As with my Dirty Red build before it, this deck finishes with Falkenrath Aristocrat; however, the Vampire is bringing a friend this time in the form of the newly printed Spark Trooper. He may just be a Ball Lighting Helix, but a 12 point swing on turn 4 or 5 is massive for this deck.
Even if they’ve dropped Huntmaster or Thragtusk, they won’t widen the gap, I’m still right there in their face. While not the massive threat that is Thundermaw Hellkite, both of these hasty front loaded beaters can’t be killed by Ultimate Price and as always Aristocrat dodges everything that isn’t Tragic Slip. The mirror will be very tough on Spark Trooper, so I’ll need to figure out what to do about that.“But Trevor! There’s all this first strike in the format right now! Between Thalia, Silverblade, and Pike, you’ll be lucky to ever hit with Spark Trooper!”
Yup, that’s why we’re running the Legion Loyalist. On top of being a straight upgrade to Raging Goblin (one of my favorite cards) he’s a massive enabler that the deck was missing pre-Gatecrash. My biggest problem at the Baltimore Open (aside from trying to run a wedge in a format that hated it out) was that Kruin striker was my only trample source, which meant I needed to spend critical burn to clear the way instead of going for the dome. Now though, I just need to swing three hasty guys and they’ll crash over the opposition like a tide.
I do think that I might be going a bit heavy with both Rakdos’ Return and Aurelia’s Fury, but each have their purpose as reach and disable. I’ll likely pick one and run three of in the near future, but for now a 2:2 split isn’t bad. I’m not unhappy to draw either in most cases. I do wonder how the deck will run without Silverblade, but I feel like only having RR as my main commitment to hit and not both RR and WW, that the deck will run much smoother in just about every case. I really want to run Five Alarm Fire, but agian, not sure if I can mana base for it. If I’m going to tap out on turn three, I better have dropped three guys already.
Really this is all spit balling and I won’t know how the deck works until I get a few rounds in with it.