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Archive for August, 2009

Did Mark Rosewater say legendary octopus?

Yes he did.

In an article about the making of Planechase, the multiplayer Magic suppliment scheduled to be released September 4, Mark Rosewater revealed the names of several Zendikar cards.

Necropotence

Another Necropotence? We'll have to wait and see..........

The names he revealed are:

Electropotence
Grappling Hook
Journy to Nowhere
Lotus Cobra
Spinx of Lost Truths
Vampire’s Bite

Roswater also discussed some unamed cards functions, such as a spell capable of making a 14/1 token and another which would give you four 4/4 flyers. He also mentioned a legendary octopus and a cycle of cards which players have been asking for (enemy fetchlands?).

If you want to see the rest of the hints, check out the article here.

MTG Salvation has a pretty good spectulation thread going. Everybody loves a card with “lotus” in the name. While I’m interested in all of the cards, I’m the most curious about whether Electropotence turns out to be anything like the last card with “potence” in the name.

Ouch!

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Last week I played Naya Zoo again at the “local” FNM. This time, I went 2-3 before dropping out before the sixth round. Boo!

I learned a few things though, most importantly:

1.I have problems with the Reveillark match up. Games are always close, and I think I can win.
2.Preeminent Captain works with all soldiers, not just Kithkin. Read all unfamiliar cards carefully!
3.
I keep hands I have no business keeping.

On the drive home, I thought a bit about my losses and how to improve my game. I also gave a bit of thought to the cards in my deck and how they related to my “local” meta.

The Naya Zoo deck I was playing is straight from the Internet. It looks like this, give or take a few cards:

 
Land
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Wooded Bastion
5 Plains
5 MountainCreatures
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Woolly Thoctar
4 Great Sable Stag
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Ranger of Eos
Other Spells
4 Volcanic Fallout
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Path to Exile
Sideboard
4 Ethersworn Canonist
4 Stillmoon Cavalier
2 Gaddock Teeg
3 Harm’s Way
2 Burrenton Forge-Tender

I like to netdeck for several reasons. If you get lists from major events, you know the decks have been tried in a competitive environment. Usually there is a lot of information on how a deck works and how to handle certain match-ups. Also, you can learn a lot about certain deck archetypes and card synergy by looking at decks that have been successful.

The trick is to remember the deck you are looking at online has been tailored to a certain metagam. It may have even been devised to break a certain type of deck. Naya Zoo is a good example; it was designed to counter the recent flood of 5CC, and is pretty efficient against the fae as well. Zoo does fairly well against other decks in the meta such as Kithkin and Jund, but some of the card choices don’t seem to be very useful in some cases.

For example, Great Sable Stag is fantastic in the 5cc and Faerie Matchup. It is okay in the Jund match up and not so hot against Jund, Kithkin, or other creature decks. However, if your local metagame doesn’t have a lot of 5cc or Faeries, is it worth keeping him in?

I found in my “local” meta, that alot of people are playing creature decks and not alot of control. The control decks I have seen are things like Time Sieve and Reveillark. The stag doesn’t help me too much here. So should I switch cards in a tried and tested deck?

Sable StagFinks

If something doesn’t work in your metagame, yes. I’ve been on the fence about the stag; the great card that he is, he just doesn’t seem to help too much in my “local” match ups. I feel something like Kitchen Finks would be a better card choice. It blocks twice as many little white guys.   

Another card I’ve been thinking of changing out, or at least reducing the number of, is Volcanic Fallout. The card is great, but it has often been very ineffectual against the many white weenie games I’ve faced. Often, they’re beyond fallout range by the time I draw the card or have the mana to play it. Perhaps a few Oblivion Rings or Flame Javelin might work a bit better on those 3/3 Wizened Cenn’s or that 4/4 Captain of the Watch.

Changing a sideboard card or two if you never see the deck they’re intended to combat isn’t a bad idea either.

Of course, these are just examples of a few cards that might be . Totally redesigning a tried and true deck isn’t a good idea. If the deck you are “copying” has a good track record, the cards have a lot of synergy the way they are. It can be easy to look at where you’ve had problems with the deck and automatically assume it is the cards. Sometimes problems come from not understanding how a deck works in certain matchups, or how to fully utilize a certain card. Always try to figure out where you might have made the wrong play or board choices before assuming the cards are jinxing you.

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So, over at the official Magic site, the first Zendikar planeswalker has been completely spoiled. Holy crap, is he a good one.

youdecide_01_gx21iyxpel

Sorin is easily one of the most powerful planeswalkers printed to date. His first ability will always be relevant and his other two can swing the game in your favor at the blink of an eye.

+2: Sorin Markov deals 2 damage to target creature or player and you gain 2 life. 
Another Lightning Helix ability, but this time it adds counters instead of taking them. It isn’t as powerful as Ajani V’s helix, but there are plenty of creatures out there with two toughness that see play quite frequently. I don’t know post rotation, but it is a popular number. The ability to shock-helix the opponent for two every turn is pretty cool too. 

-3 :Target opponen’t life total becomes 10.
Coming into play with 4 loyalty, Sorin could also read; When Sorin Markov enters the battlefield, target’s life total becomes 10. While this ability won’t be as powerful if you are on the offensive, it could be a good start if you haven’t done any damage to your opponent before Sorin hit the ground. It puts them on a cute clock for his shock ability if they can’t do anything about him.

-7: You control target player’s next turn.
Ouch. This can be devastating. You can’t give your opponent mana burn anymore, but there are all sorts of cute things you can do to your opponent with his/her own cards. Make lousy attacks, use removal on his own creatures, play and counter his own spells. Having control of an opponents turn often amounts to a Cruel Ultimatum; you get to mess up the oppoents game plan by altering the board and their hand.

The genious behind Sorin is he can be a  game stabilizer and a finisher at the same time. Take control, shock the enemy to death.  

Of course, Sorin has a few quirks to him. Not only is he the most expensive second most expensive planeswalker to date, but he costs three black mana to play. You have to be pretty heavy in the dark arts to attract his attention. The other “problem” is this guy is going to be expensive, even if there are no decsk to put him in.  Like Sarkhan Vol, I would expect this guy to run $25 plus for quite some time, as people will continually want him so they can try and shoehorn him into something.

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Right now it seems the metagame is full of contenders: 5cc, Kithkin, Elves, various Jund decks, Time Sieve, Faeries and even the occasional Merfolk and Doran decks make a good showing. However, while these current favorites duke it out, another deck seems to be lurking in the background, picking up victories but not quite making it into the spotlight.

Naya Zoo.

The Naya deck is known by many names: Naya Zoo, Naya Aggro, the Naya Solution, Kowal Zoo. I’m not exactly sure who came up with the idea. Some say it was Brian Kowal and other say it was Jacob Van Lunen. What I do know is the basic list for each players version looks like this.

Naya

Creatures
4Figure of Destiny
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Great Sable Stag
4 Woolly Thoctar
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Ranger of Eos
Instants
4 Lightining Bolt
4 Path to Exile
4 Volcanic Fallout
Lands
5 Mountain
5 Plains
4 Rootbound Craig
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Wooded Bastion

Woolly

The smell under your porch.

Now the sideboards tend to look different. Most have a few copies of Gaddok Teeg, and a few Burrenton Forge Tenders, Ethersworn Cannonist and Harms Way, but then some versions have Stillmoon Cavalier and a couple copies of Banefire. 

What makes the deck neat is that it is easy enough to play, but has plenty of little tricks. Naya is basically an aggressive creature deck, but it can easily play a bit of control. The creatures are either too big to die from sweepers or have the potential to be, and Bloodbraid Elf plus Ranger of Eos generates some wicked “card advantage”, putting guys on the table after a Hallowed Burial.  The stag and cascade make countering everything difficult, as does the low casting cost of the decks threats. Volcanic fallout helps keep the board clear of chump blockers.

The sideboard has plenty of options too. Against Elves, Ethersworn Cannonist makes sure they can’t play thier entire deck on you. Harms way and Stillmoon Cavalier help with Kithkin. Naya doesn’t really need a lot of help against control.

I had the pleasure of playing this deck myself last Friday, returning to Magic after a several month hiatus. I’m not the most experienced player and I was a bit rusty, but I easily hit the top 8 in a 30 man tournament. My version was a tad bit different. I had Kitchen Finks in place of the stag, which I had in the sideboard. I  didn’t have volcanic fallout, so I used Pyroclasm instead. I also fudged with the creature numbers and included 2 Enlisted Wurm.  My mana base also included such hits as Ancient Zuggurat because I don’t have any M10 lands yet.

Here’s a brief description of how things went.

Match 1: Elves
We traded early blows. I had a figure and a cat, he had a few elves he didn’t want to block with. An early Burrenton Forge Tender (!) made things a little interesting but it hit the road when I drew path. I wasn’t sure how the combo worked, but I knew it involved Heritiage Druid. I bolted the sucker as soon as I saw him and then wiped the board with a Pyroclasm next turn. Another elf and Regal Force came down on his side of the table. I had a blocker and a bolt for the frog when it attacked and a Wooly Thoctar and a Bloobraid Elf on my side caused him to scoop. The second game didn’t last too long, as he didn’t play an elf until third turn and I drew into three Bloodbraid Elves and had the mana to play them.
1-0

Match 2: Lark BS
This match was a pain in the ass. My early guys sat around staring at two Knight of the White Lotus and anything bigger got pathed/countered. I began to get in some beats when I drew Bloodbraid Elf and cascaded into a  bolt, but a Revillark on his side ruined my fun. I had a hand full of guys, so I continued to attack, forcing the lark block and allowing him to get his knights back. The two first strikers were utter dicks, able to double block whatever I had or take them single handed. I was able to power up a figure of destiny, but predictably, it got pathed. Two more larks dropped onto the board and I was done. Game two played out pretty much the same way, except I was able to get in during the early game. I had the advantage for awhile, and even dropped a Stillmoon Cavalier on the field. It looked as thought I might be able to sneak in, but then he dropped one of his own and a few mulldrifters. Glen Elendra Archmage kept me from bolting/pathing/pyroclasming, thought I sure tried. I didn’t have the mana to make the cavalier big enough to kill all of the blue blockers and he couldn’t get through to me without absolutely loosing his guards, so we just faced off until time ran out.
1-1-0

Match3: Red Jank
I was a little worried about red, but I was thinking “hey, I’ve got kitchen finks and removal”. My fears turned out to be unfounded when he played things like Taurean Mauler, Hissing Iguanar and Inner-Flame Acolyte.
2-1-0

Match4: Kithkin
The first match was over quick, with several knights of Meadowgrain and a Wizened Cenn the only creatures he managed to field. All he was able to draw into was a Honor the Pure and lands,so I overwhelmed him. The second match was a little tougher. A first turn Burrenton Forge Tender got pathed, but it allowed him to play Spectral Procession on the second turn. Luckily, I had the Pyroclasm. An Honor the Pure came down next turn with a Stalwart, followed by a Wizened Cenn the turn after. I was able to hold off the onslaught until I was able to slowly gain the field advantage with a Ranger of Eos and Stillmoon Cavalier.
3-1-0

Match 5: Planeswalker 5cc
These games were a blur because it seemed to take forever and was very unexciting. His game plan seemed to stall me out with counters and removal until he could bring in creatures with Garruk or Polymorph a sheep token (yes, sheep token, from Springjack Pasture) into Progenitus, the only creature in his deck. I was smart enough to know what he was up to and simply saved the removal for his morph targets. The “card advantage” I got from bloodbraid and the ranger kept my board full and the pressure on. The only real excitement in either game was when he got close enough to 7 counters on Ajani V to make me think I was about to lose my lands. However, he chose to helix a creature instead.
4-1-0

Match6: Top 8: Kithkin (same player)
The grudge match. I was glad to get a chance to play this guy again because his deck screwed him over and I enjoyed the prospect of playing one of the better players. The first game was much like our earlier match; he drew few creatures and I quickly overwhelmed him. The second game was an epic struggle however. We both traded creatures, but he got the early advantage on me with a few timely Harm’s Way. I had to block with everything I had to keep myself alive, but luckily drew into three rangers to keep my board full. Our forces were evenly matched, but he managed to draw into not one, but two Stillmoon Cavaliers. Things looked bad but I still had a chance to draw into a bolt or Pyroclasm; until he played a ranger and searched out two forge-tenders. I was basically screwed by then. Game three was a reversal of fortune. I was stuck at three lands, defending with a few weak figures and a measly Nacatl. A kitchen Finks came to my rescue, but was pathed. Two Knights of Meadowgrain plus a cenn and Honor the Pure was too much by the time I hit four mana.
4-1-1

I find Naya to be positioned quite well, with very few weaknesses. Kithkin might be a problem, but I don’t think it is a bad matchup at all. The deck seemed to handle quite well and had a short learning curve.

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Last night, at FNM, I head some of the players talking about Blizzard announcing the next expansion to World of Warcraft. Some of the things they were saying sounded like crazy-talk, but when I checked the Blizzard site, it all turned out to be true.

I give you World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

deathwing_1600x1200

If this picture looks a little ominous to you, that’s because it is. That is Deathwing, the Destroyer perched upon the rubble of civilization. Never heard of Deathwing? He’s the corrupt and immensely powerful black dragon aspect who nearly devoured the rest of the dragonflights despite their combined powers. Driven into the depths of Azeroth, he’s been resting up and nursing a wicked grudge; until now.

The story behind Cataclysm is a bleak one:

and biding his time until he can reforge the world in molten fire.Azeroth has waited, recovering from the wounds of his last battle against Deathwing ect Hidden away in a secluded sanctuary, the corrupted Dragon Asp

Soon, Deathwing the Destroyer will return to Azeroth, and his eruption from Deepholm will sunder the world, leaving a festering wound across the continents. As the Horde and Alliance race to the epicenter of the cataclysm, the kingdoms of Azeroth will witness seismic shifts in power, the kindling of a war of the elements, and the emergence of unlikely heroes who will rise up to protect their scarred and broken world from utter devastation.

 

One of the most interesting aspects of the expansion is the effect of the cataclysm will be visible in every corner of Azeroth. From what I’ve read, some cities will be changed or destroyed and some zones will be radically altered. Blizzard has also confirmed the post-apocalyptic Azeroth will be the only Azeroth: whether players purchase the expansion or not, their game world will reflect the changes as well. The old world will be gone for everybody, forever.

Yikes.

Another exciting change is the additon of two new playable races. As has long been suspected, the next Horde members will be the clever Goblins. Their island home (goblins lived on an island?) is being destroyed by the raging Maelstrom and they have had to flee to the mainland. As for the alliance, it is only natural that they get werewolves.

Yes, werewolves. The ******* Worgen will be a playable alliance race.

I guess it is better than randomly re-creating a race and making them crash land on Azeroth in a frickin’ spaceship. 

Anyway, the cataclysm has sundered the Greymane Wall and the Kingdom of Gilneas beyond happens to be populated by folks with afflicted with the Worgen curse. Under siege by the Forsaken, the Worgens find an ally with the Night Elves, with whom they apparently have some ancient ties.

Right……….

Also, it looks as though Blizzard has decided to make some changes concerning which race can be what class. I saw a Gnome priest, a Human hunter and a Tauren paladin in the trailer.

Good God, I hope they don’t just jump the shark and let anybody be anything, but I’m not holding my breath for  restraint.

Of course, there will  plenty of addend content, including quests, items, added heroics, flying mounts in Azeroth, new battlegrounds, ect, ect…

It sounds pretty neat, but I’m guessing we’ll not see Cataclysm for a good while yet. Hopefully by then, I’ll have a character who is actually useful in a group instead of all my hunters and death knights.

Nobody loves a death knight. Nobody.

For the official Blizzard and more information regarding World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, go here!

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Sebastian Thaler piloted a Merfolk deck to victory in the German Nationals; defeating two faerie decks and Time Sieve in the top brackets.

Here is the winning deck:

Merfolk, by Sebastian Thaler. Winner of German Nationals 2009

Main Deck60 cards
Glacial Fortress
Island
Mutavault
Mystic Gate
Plains
Wanderwine Hub


24 landsMerfolk Sovereign
Merrow Reejerey
Reveillark
Silvergill Adept
Stonybrook Banneret
Sygg, River Guide
Wake Thrasher


26 creatures
Cryptic Command
Path to Exile
Sage’s Dousing


10 other spells
Sideboard 
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Glen Elendra Archmage
Meddling Mage
Sleep
Sower of Temptation


15 sideboard cards
MerfolkSoverign

Hmmm; should I have the sushi or the surf and turf?

The deck looks a little different from Merfolk decks of previous events. Reveillark makes a mainboard appearance and Path to Exile provides sturdy removal the ‘folk didn’t have before. The deck still works the same as ever though; play a lot of guys fast and get in there. Sygg and the sovereign provide the “evasion”, and Wake thrasher provides the muscle. A suite of Cyptic Commands and a few Sage’s Dousing can keep the opponent from doing anything really nasty once you have board position.

One of the reasons this deck did so well is its position against control decks. The fish can get nasty really fast, and can even dodge blockers with the right backup. It can also shrug off sweepers, especially after sideboarding. Vocanic Fallout may be uncountable, but Sygg and Burrenton Forgetender don’t care about that.  

Other decks in the Top 8 included several Kithkin and 5cc builds.

These demographics are not surprising, though I had hoped to see more Jund. However, just below the top 8 canopy was a lush undergrowth of  decks with a record o f 6-2 or better, such as Doran, Jund, R/B Aggro, Elf Combo, Baneslayer “control”, more Faeries and a lone Naya build.

I find the Naya build to be quite interesting, as it is something I have been toying with myself. The deck went 6-2. The decklist is featured here, along with the other details of the German Nationals.

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It won’t be official preview week for Zendikar for a few weeks yet, but already Wizards is “leaking” some info on the new expansion set to release on October 2. Aside from what you can find in articles on the official WotC Magic site, some of the spoiler and rumor sites have started to roll out card art, packaging and many, many opinions on what Zendikar is all about.

Here, is the very basic information on the set, as released by WotC.

While the theme of the set is still up in the air, we have several clues. So far, on spoiled advertisements and through Mark Rosewater, we know Zendikar is…

priceless treasures and dangerous perils

While this caused people to speculate on a possible pirate theme (as well as several other outrageous ideas) Maro told us in this article

There is a space in Magic design that we’ve explored on individual cards but have never explored thematically as a block theme. We started with that theme and then crafted a world that made it make sense. Once we had the world, we then made a bunch of other mechanics that made sense in that world. The design and creative did a lot of back and forth work to integrate the mechanical themes into the world. I do feel the world we’ve create is a resonant one, but not one with pirates or dinosaurs. Or robots. Or ninjas. Or monkeys.

Thank god, because I would simply vomit on my keyboard if Zen did have a pirate theme. I felt a little ill when I read the forums and saw how many people actually thought pirates (or dinosaurs or Indiana Jones) would be cool. I think WotC is close enough to pandering to a certian current teen demographic with the set (I will get to why in a moment) without pirates; which, by the way, are so 3 years ago.  

We also know, from the same article, Zen will not have a multi-color theme, and motioned getting used to the idea of playing monocolor. Individual multi-colored cards are a possibility, but it won’t be a theme.

256_ZENBooster1

Nissa Revane; now with 100% more boob.

Maro also said there would be three planeswalkers;  two new ones and one we have seen before. Nissa Revane was revealed a long time ago when Duels of the Planeswalkers for Xbox was released. Another planeswalker appeared when a card, still slowly being revealed, is seen to have a loyalty counter instead of power/toughness. Speculation abounds on MTG Salvation forums that this planeswalker is Sorin Sengir Markov. I don’t know who the hell Sorin is, but the art certainly screams “vampire”.

The final planeswalker has yet to be revealed, but card art has surfaced showing Chandra Nalaar, allegedly with the name Chandra, Flame Dancer. Though unconfirmed, it is presumed Chandra will be the third planeswalker.

The Chandra art, along with Nissa and the sinister looking planeswalker have all been featured on the revealed booster pack art. Fat Packs and three of the intro packs can also be seen in various locations on the interwebs.

Speaking of intro packs, we get a few clues as to several of the races appearing in Zendikar. It seems the Kor, who last appeared in the Tempest and Masques block, will be returning. It will be interesting to see if they retain their damage shunting abilities.

It also seems like vampires will be getting their own theme deck. I don’t know if this indicates vampires will become a staple “tribe” in Zendikar or not, but I know it would make alot of people happy. The “Twilight” crowd may start bringing their teen drama and sullen looks to a FNM near you.

Joy.

Individual Zendikar lands have been revealed too. I am assuming WotC knows how popular the Unhinged and Unglued lands are, because Zen boosters and fat packs will feature full-art versions of the basic lands. These were slowly revealed on the Magic site last week. Here is a nice compilation.  

Finally, some spells are said to have been spoiled as well, during a preview of WotC’s Planechase supplement at Gen Con 09′. Each Planechase “deck” is said to contain a Zendikar preview card, and these cards have definitely never been printed before.

If these cards are indeed part of Zendikar, I guess all of the people bitching about M10 was right, we will be playing “trap cards” soon. Seems pretty frickin’n cool to me.

I’ll keep an eye out for more information, but in the meantime, check the official WotC Magic site and spoiler sites like MTG Salvation for new information on Zendikar. The speculation forums can be fun too.

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