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Archive for June, 2009

It seems last night I was riding a wave of collective consciousness. This morning, I found many other reviews of the set had washed up on shore, and quite a few of them discussed the sets flavor. Read Sam Black’s article on M10 here, if you have a Starcitygames premium account. You can also read this article at Power 9 Pro, which discusses the very thing I mentioned earlier about white focusing on creatures that help each other. bygry3t44q_EN

I see they have re-printed and re-named Savannah Lions. They also made it a common. Very cute, but it doesn’t seem to have the same oomph it used to in today’s world of Goldmeadow Stalwart, Figure of Destiny and turn two Bitterblossom. Still, if the unofficially spoiled soldiers are as interested as printed, it might find a place if soldiers end up being the next Kithkin come fall.

Speaking of weenies, I see several articles at Power 9 regarding the old Boat Brew deck. Apparently they don’t think the deck is dead over there. I don’t know why it should be. The metagame is crazy undefined right now.

Check out the Power 9 Boat Brew primer here, and the tournament report on the deck here. If you don’t like the deck list presented, you can always look at some of the others at places like DeckCheck.Net.

Though I think the deck is worth a shot, I’m not sure how well it is positioned right now, but then again I’m not sure how well anything is positioned right now. Boat Brew a different kind of weenie deck;  it doesn’t pump up a bunch of smaller doods. Instead, most of the guys do something pretty relevant. Meadowgrain knight and spectral procession tokens are the closest things you get to “vanilla” guys. Figure of Destiny and Mogg Fanatic are still pretty good one drops. Ajani Vengeant can slow down the opponent or take care of the usual early drops. Seige Gang Commander can still provide a knock-out-punch if the tokens don’t get swept away.

However, I think Boat Brew really shines though with its slight recursion theme. Most removal just can deal with Reveillark and Ranger of Eos. The Ranger isn’t exactly recursion, but he can repopulate the board in a pinch, and Reveillark is still really freaking awesome.  Together they can be a royal pain in the ass.

So if you’re tired of the usual, go ahead and try Boat Brew. Heck, try Elementals why you’re at it. Talk about a deck that is fun. It also deals with the removal by having multiple ways to bring back doods. Just don’t get both your Reveillark and Horde of Notions Thought Hemorrhaged back to back.

It sucks.

Also, the MTG Salvation M10 spoiler is now complete.

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A while back in this article, I said I wasn’t too excited about the new  M10 core set. I’m going to retract that statement now.

My change of heart comes from a change in how I am looking at the new set. Instead of looking at the cards from a competitive angle, I’ve started looking at the new set from a nostalgic angle. From what I’ve seen unofficially spoiled on MTGsalvation, the new core set really brings out the old flavor of the game.

First of all, screw the new rules. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the cards themselves. Just like Willy Wonka’s  wallpaper tasted like the pictures, the new M10 cards really seem to carry the flavor of not only the individual colors, but also the origins of the game as a whole. I’m talking about high fantasy here.

Yea, it started with the races; elves, goblins, knights, vampires and sea serpents. As hackneyed as they are, they were the high fantasy bestiary was the backbone of magic. Giant hairy spider? Check. Multi-headed hydra? Check. Weird blue genie? Check.

The spells were pretty straightforward too. Sure, there was always something weird like Winter Orb or Thoughtlace, but for the most part, Fireball, Counterspell and Giant Growth were pretty easy to understand. 

It was valorous soldiers fighting ugly ass things from the swamp, not some epic adventure spanning multiple planes or some whacked out wasteland, planet made of metal or someplace way out east.

I started with one Fifth Edition tournament pack. 60 random ass cards, 20 of which were lands. When I looked through the cards, I didn’t know how they worked, but just by the art I got the feel. It was fantasy-land as I had known it all my life.  

The concept of what the colors had to offer was pretty obvious from the start, too. The cards communicated, on no uncertain terms, that blue was about tricks, green was about big monsters, red was about direct damage, white was about protection and black was about power through sacrifice. Easy to understand.

However, when I started to buy Tempest boosters, I noticed something. The entire feel of the game was different. Now there was some underlying story with less recognizable creatures. The colors felt different too. I could recognize the color themes in the cards, but they weren’t as crystal clear as they were in my Fifth Edition stuff.

Nor was it that clear when I bought some 10th Edition cards when the set came out. The first core set I had purchased since that first meeting with magic at Fifth Edition and it didn’t look anything like what I remembered. There is a good reason for this.

You know why the core sets don’t do that any more? Because cards aren’t made for the core set—they’re made for other sets and then shoehorned in. If we want to have simple, resonant cards that speak to the player, we have to make them specifically for this purpose. We need to stop compiling a core set and just make one. We keep saying how important the core set is. Why don’t we just bite the bullet and design the set we want? Whatever we need, we can make. We need to free up the core set so that it can be what it wants to be. What do you think of that?”

That is what Arron Forsythe told Mark Rosewater when  M10 was in its infancy. He was thinking about why the cards in the core sets didn’t seem to have a purpose anymore.  A good conclusion.

So with the re-vamped core set, the old high-fantasy theme seems to be back. Not a bunch of crap from the other sets stuffed into a core set, but a core set made to represent the, well, core of magic. The monsters aren’t an amalgam of the weird creatures from a zillion different planes through which the game has traveled. The monsters are from the fantasy land we all know and love, full of dragons, angels, demons, elves, soldiers and drooly acidic slimes.  The spells are pretty simple too. Kill a monster, save a monster, burn your opponent with a Fireball to the face. Again, there are some weirdos like Warp World, but hey.

The colors are well defined by the cards too. First of all, I love the inclusion of the Loryn planeswalkers. If any cards were to embody what their color is all about, it is Garruk, Jeice, Chandra, Lilliana and Ajani. They are the epitome of what their colors do. Secondly, the colors get back to their roots, with no compromise:

White looks to soldiers and angels to hold the line against the forces of evil, with many of the “weenie” cards working together to form a stronger army than one single bad-assed monster could ever be under the cover of protective and evil smiting spells. Black fields an army of lurking horrors such as ghosts, undead minions and vamperic lords wielding magics that kill the enemy or deny them resources and relying on forbidden knowledge gained at a premium. Green sends a horde of big creatures crashing in on its foes, fueled by magics that bestow huge boosts in power and raw mana, often summoned with the help of druids and elves. Red takes a blitzkrieg approach, attacking first and fast with powerful elementals and furious goblins, followed by direct damage and massive board-altering displays of firepower and mass destruction; even at the price of doing just as much damage to the wielder of such magics. Blue relys on tricks and denials as it gathers incremental advantages until its agents, often weak but evasive or possessing potent abilities, are in a position where they cannot be stopped.

Back to the basics, that’s what M10 is all about. Not showing off all of the nifty keywords that have popped up. Not showing off all of the nifty tricky tricky stuff you can do with cards these days. Back to the basics. 

Some of the cards don’t look to bad, either, from a competitive standpoint.

Take a look at this guy:

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Cemetery Reaper looks a bit like Imperious Perfect, doesn’t he? He pumps other zombies, he makes other zombies and he costs 3. Well, I guess he needs cards to be in the graveyard, but it is a fine way to take care of the opponents Anathemancer, isn’t it. A few of his fellow zombies, Tidehollow Sculler and Anathemancer are seeing quite a bit of play these days too.

Maybe he’s not too competitive, but I could see a pretty functional deck with this guy and Lich Lord of Unx. Maybe some sort of derranged zombie mill deck, except with more zombie hordes and less Sanity Grinding. Much more fun, IMO.

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Holy crap, Michael Jackson is dead!

Man, I can’t beleive it. I liked MJ, right up until about the time he started to go batshit crazy and started looking like some sort of, well, I don’t know. He obviously had a problem with kids too, though I’m not sure if he was an actual chimo or if he just didn’t care snuggling with  kids looked bad. Not to mention it isn’t very smart. I still question the parents who let their children go there in the first place.

Well, now that’s out of the way, time for some Magic news.

We’re just weeks away from M10. I honestly didn’t think I could get excited about a new core set. Tenth edition was so ho-hum. I think they kind of figured people felt this way, because they seem to be packing M10 full of some nice classics. Classics like…..LIGHTNING BOLT!

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This is now on the official M10 mini-site spoiler page, so I can now get officially excited about it. I’m also starting to keep an eye on MTG Salvation, because right about now is when everything starts flooding in.

I actually think the dual lands are okay. Well, the ones that make blue anyway.

I’ve also been looking the metagame over, and what a mess. Right now, nothing is bad. It also means nothing is good. If you’re looking for a deck which is hands down better than the rest, keep right on looking. Kyle Sanchez wrote a great articleabout how liquid the meta is it at Starcity Games. If you’ve got premium, read it.

Here’s a quick run-down of what’s out there swimming in the pool.

B/W Tokens
Mid-range deck using token generators like Bitterblossom and Spectral Procession to gain creature advantage. Ajani Goldmane and Glorious Anthem make the weenies bigger. Tidehollow Sculler and Zealous Persecution provide the tricks. Murderous Redcap and Path to Exile make for the removal suite.

Kithkin
Faster than B/W tokens but without access to tricky black cards. Kithkin come out of the gate with better creatures and have an extra p/t booster in Wizened Cenn.

Faeries
Faeries is still Faeries. Play Thought seize, Bitterblossom and Mistbind Clique. Counter some stuff, fly over the enemies heads. Lose a lot of life doing it.  Still good but harder than ever to play.

G/W
Mid-range monsters pumped up with Ajani and the anthem. Dauntless escort can keep guys from being wrathed and critters can get huge temporary boosts from Sigil Blessing and Overrun.

Doran 
The big guy is back for a second round. This mid-range does everything from kill to force discards; all while playing some big guys.

Cascade
If the deck plays a card with cascade in it, I put it in this category. Mid-range decks getting free cards with every other play. It has access to some all of the best cards in the meta right now. Cascade is broken as hell.

Elementals
A new version of Kyle Sanchez’s Elementals deck, this deck also does a little bit of everything; it draws, it kills, it finds big fatties. Mana acceleration and graveyard shenanigans comes alive with Horde of Notions and Reveillark. Many utility cards help find just what you need. A neat inclusion: Incandescent Soulstoke. The elementals coming off him can’t be counter and it makes your army of semi-weenies a bit better.

Fog/Sanity Grinding
Win by decking your opponent. Perfect for pacifists and people who love pissing off other people. These decks do nothing but dodge damage and cause you to mill cards.  Oh, once in awhile they cast Cryptic Command.

Elves
B/G beatdown. Very consistent, but the monsters don’t have the same potential for growth as the critters in G/W and B/W. However, elves like Wren’s Run Vanquisher, Chameleon Colossus and Putrid Leech  can hit pretty hard before token decks can start with the pumping.  They also say Elves runs Maelstrom Pulse, which seems pretty good. I also hear there is a combo version, in which your mana base explodes and you draw half of your deck off of Regal Force.

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Looking for some nice M10 art to whet the appetite for the upcoming previews?

I think I’ve seen a few of these being kicked around, but thanks to the guys at Casual Magic and Mymagic.Ru, I now know that in m10, angels will look like angels, demons will look like demons and vampires will look like something out of Eidos’ Legacy of Kain series.

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Along with the pictures, we get some of the new card names too.  I am excited to find out what Baneslayer Angel, Xanthrid Demon and Alluring Siren (I told those forum kids it was a siren) do. Besides put damage on the stack, that is.

Thanks for the find boys.

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Oh, this is too funny.
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I see em', e's the one who downsized us lads!

It appears Siege Gang Commander is on the list of cards to be reprinted in M10, according to MTG Salvation.  I do not know if this is true or not, but if it is, I find it absolutely hilarious. Isn’t this one of the cards that gets  raped by the new combat rules?

Okay, so maybe he’s not that bad, even with the new rules. He still makes three guys. He still has the potential to get a few hits in and then burn for 8. He still makes chump blockers who can burn for 2. Yeah, he’s still good, he’s just not that good anymore. 

Perhaps reprinting the commander is just one way WotC is trying to show people some of the cards now deemed  to be “total crap” after the changes aren’t so bad after all. That, or they are poking us in the eye and saying “yeah, combat damage is off the stack; and here’s the poster boy for how good it was!”.

That would be rich, but I think it is the latter. Unless, of course, they reprint Mogg Fanatic too. Then I know they’re being dicks.   

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Do you like legendary creatures but get tired of seeing them get killed the second you cast them? Well, do I have a format for you.

It looks like Elder Dragon Highlander is picking up speed as one of Magic’s “casual” formats. I’ve been seeing a lot more EDH references in articles and in posts on message boards. However, I wasn’t very interested in the format until the other night when the guys at the local shop started talkin’ about their EDH decks.

So, what is EDH?

EDH is a casual Magic: the Gathering format where players pick one legendary creature to be “the general”. This general then serves as a template for the rest of the EDH deck. No card can contain any mana symbols not found in the general’s casting cost. The decks must be 99 cards, and there can only be a single copy of each card, aside from basic lands.

There can only be one, get it? One card of each? Highlander? 

Ugh.

That’s the basics, at least, but there are some other interesting rules EDH players follow.

Life
Players start with 40 life.

Cards
If a player mulligans on his first draw, they  may draw another 7 cards. After the first Paris mulligan, the usual starting hand penalty applies to each successive mulligan.

Angus Mackenzie, now is your time to shine buddy!

Angus Mackenzie, now is your time to shine buddy!

The general
The general can be played like any other card. If the general is killed, instead of going to the graveyard, it is removed from the game goes into exile. The general may be played again, but you must pay an extra 2 for each time the general has been played from exile. If a single general deals 21 damage to a single player, that player loses the game. This “special” damage can’t be healed or revoked in any way, even if the general is removed from the game or under another players control.

That’s pretty much the gist of the game, but there are other things to consider.  Check out the official rules here.

EDH even has a banned list, which is ever evolving. Just last week, new restrictions were placed on the game. Gifts Ungiven and Fastbond were both banned.  Braids was also demoted, never to be a general again.

 I like the idea behind EDH. It reminds me of the old Vanguard supplement, except the generals are actually part of the game and not so broken. WotC has actually made a Magic: The Gathering Online format called commander, which is a lot like EDH.

Where did EDH come from? Well, a couple of guys from Alaska named David Phifer and Adam Staley. Check it out the credits here.

I’d love to put together an EDH deck, but I don’t get the chance to play alot of casual games. I did give some thought to who I’d use as a general. SaffieEriksdotter immediately came to mind. She’d make killing creatures a lot harder, and she’s pretty cheap. It would be fun to play her with Loxodon Hierarch,  and Dauntless Escort. The colors of green and white give me access to some nice, efficient beaters, good removal and some tight enchantments like Mirari’s Wake .

Then again, with the 40 life, maybe somebody like Selenia or Wydwen could be fun.

The possibilities. Legends are fun again.

If you’re looking for more information on EDH, check out some tips in this MTG Salvation article or scan the official WotC thread on the forums.

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So with all my good cards (Maelstrom Pulse) tied up in my brother’s Jund Mid-Range deck, I’ve been waffling on several options for FNM.

I’ve played a few games with B/W Tokens. After all, what could be easier than Bitterblossom, Spec Pro, Ajani, WIN. I like the deck enough, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem to “get there” . There are plenty of times when my opponent drops something utterly horrible and I am stuck thinking “Shit, I hope I draw one of my paths.”.

B/W Tokens is still insanely good, so I’m guessing the problem is on my end. Specifically, I rely way too much on either 1.) having the advantage, or 2.) having an answer. My combat tactics start to fizzle when both sides of the board are clutterd up with doods. Bad player, I know. I have to work on this.

I’ve decided to do this by playing Faeries. Faeries, while once insanely powerful, is now merely good. I don’t think there is a deck in the meta right now quite like Faeries when it comes to punishing  mediocre to bad players. If you are going to play this deck, you had better be on the top of your game.

Perfect.

Faeries is actually on the rise again, if you haven’t noticed. I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about Faerie strategy because other people have done it so much better, like in this article by Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, or the myriad of other Faerie related articles on Starcity Games and other Magic sites. Seriously, there are a billion of em’. 

puppetclique

Alright, who put the dick on the scarecrow?

 The core deck, is of course, still the same; with some give or take when it comes to Thoughtseize, Loxodon Warhammer and the number of Scion of Oona to include. Some decks even run Peppersmoke mainboard for the mirror or B/W Tokens. However, Faeries has picked up a few bits of new technology to keep up in today’s meta. Most of these are sideboard choices, but they can make a big difference in game two.

 

Puppeteer Clique: The “other” clique grabs things out of the opponent’s graveyard like Kitchen Finks, Anathemancer and Broodmate Dragon. Just remember, you get to keep the finks (I think) and the dragon token. Stealing a cascade critter does not equal playing it, so don’t expect too much if your clique plays grab-ass with a Bloodbraid Elf.

Flashfreeze: Everything people  play these days has either red or green in it. Why did it take so long for people to figure this one out?

Deathmark: Remember what I just said about green? Well, white is a close third. Beefy spec pro token BEGONE!

Plumeveil: Not so new, but still tasty against the horde of Jund-Aggro.

Snakeform: Chameleon Colossus.

If Faeries isn’t your thing, and neither is anything else at the top of the heap, check out this neat Elemental deck by Manuel Bucher.

Elementals, by Manuel Bucher, as seen on Starcity Games

Maindeck:

Artifacts
1 Springleaf Drum

Creatures
4 Bloom Tender
3 Cloudthresher
4 Flamekin Harbinger
1 Fulminator Mage
4 Incandescent Soulstoke
4 Mulldrifter
2 Ranger Of Eos
4 Reveillark
1 Shriekmaw
4 Smokebraider
2 Soul Warden

Legendary Creatures
4 Horde Of Notions

Tribal Instants
1 Nameless Inversion

Basic Lands
1 Forest
1 Island
2 Mountain

Lands
4 Ancient Ziggurat
4 Primal Beyond
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Vivid Crag
1 Vivid Grove

Sideboard:

3 Pithing Needle
1 Burrenton Forge-tender
1 Cloudthresher
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Shriekmaw
1 Tar Fiend
1 Wispmare
1 Eyes Of The Wisent
1 Shields Of Velis Vel

Check out Bucher’s article on his the deck here.

To me, it looks like this deck is alot of fun to play. It might not necessarily be the best, but at least you’ll have a good time. It reminds me alot of the Elemental deck Kyle Sanchez came up with at the beginning of the year. I did play that one for awhile and it was pretty good. I don’t see why this one wouldn’t be.  

Besides, now is the time to get your “damage on the stack” Fulminator Mage tricks in while you can.

Speaking of the new M10 rules, here is an interesting perspective on them in this Satarcity Games article by Oliver Ruel.

Cascade, now there’s something that dumbs down Magic. Play a card, get a free spell. The only skill involved there is making sure you have all sorts of good stuff with the right mana cost in your deck. Considering the cheapest playable cascade card right now is Bloodbraid Elf at four mana, that means anything three and under is fair game. I’m not going to start naming them off (Maelstrom Pulse), but there are a bunch.

I haven’t had a chance to play cascade yet, but I’ve been told it feels like cheating. It kind of looks like cheating too. Yes, I will play a 5/5 and get a free pulse to blow up your Faerie tokens with. Good day sir!

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