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Archive for November, 2009

While I’m still staring at the standard format to try and see what, if any, new decks are going to pop out before Worlds, I thought I’d do a quick run-down of the new Magic products currently available and in the pipes.

Duel Decks: Garruk V.S. Liliana
MSRP: $19.99
available now

The latest duel deck to be released and the second to feature two opposing planeswalkers. The savage Garruk pits lifeforce at it’s most savage against the necrotic magics of Liliana. Each deck has 60 cards, which are playable in any format in which they are legal. Six of the cards have brand-spanking new art, including foil versions of the two namesake planeswalkers.
Instructions for playing each deck are also included.

A few cards of note: Liliana Vess, Garruk Wildspeaker, Ravenous Baloth, Skeletal Vampire, Mutilate, Bad Moon, Rancor, Basking Rootwalla, Wild Mongrel, Blastoderm.

For a complete spoiler, check it here.  

Premium Deck Series: Slivers
MSRP: $34.99
available Nov 20th.

The first of a series, the first premium deck is an all-foil deck featuring everybody’s favorite symbiotic race: Slivers. Some of the most powerful hive-minded critters are contained in this set, which includes 5 rare cards and 1 mythically rare card. Also includes a spin-down life counter (I hate that name, it’s a d20 for Christ’s sakes), foil deck box and instructions for playing. A must have for people who like Slivers.

A few cards of note: Sliver Overlord,  Crystalline Sliver, Rootbound Crag

For a complete spoiler, check it here.

*Originally I said Sliver Queen and Sliver Legion were in this deck. They are not. I could have sworn I saw them on the spoiler.

Deck Builder’s Tool Kit
MSRP: $19.99
available May 21, 2010

A starter-kit for the new player who wants to start building his own deck, the tool kit is essentially a “collection in a box”. Each kit contains 100 basic land cards, 125 “semi-randomly” sorted cards, and 4 booster packs from the most recent expansions, as well as instructions on building a deck and a box to put it all in.
Each toolkit will contain different cards, so each box will present, as they say, “unique deckbuilding challenges”.

Duel Deck: Phyrexia V.S. the Coalition
MSRP: $19.99
available March 19, 2010

Another yet-to-be-released duel deck featuring the horrors of Phryexia and the armies of the coalition. According to the WotC site, the Phryexian deck will be mono-black and the coalition deck will feature every color. Of course, the decks will feature new card art on select cards. It might be fun to relive some of the cards from some of the coolest blocks around: Invasion and Urza’s Saga.

Notable Cards: No idea, but I do see a picture of what looks to be a Phyrexian Negator and another of Urza.  

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Surprise surprise, a girl won Starcitygames Nashville 5K. Well, maybe it is a surprise. It is  the first time I have seen a girl win, or even mentioned, at a major Magic tournament.

We did have a grandma play in the Zendikar pre-release at my “local” shop. That was strange.

Anyway, congratulations to Kali and her interesting brew, Eldrazi Green. Check it out here. AntQueen

I like what I see. The deck works by throwing out lots of creatures quickly, then sealing the deal with Eldrazi Monument. The drawback of the artifact is obviously skirted by the mob of creatures you can power out, what with all of the Elves, thier mana and Ant Queen. If the monument doesn’t show, the creatures can eventually get out of control well enough on their own, using Garruk to power them to a victory.

Several little packages work together in this deck.  The elves don’t do anything crazy like the combo in last block, but they do work well together as basic creatures, drawing a few cards, making a little G and getting a little boost from thier “lord”. The Nissa Revane package is pretty annoying too. I played against her plenty at the pre-release and various sealed games, and I can only imagine what it is like with a full compliment of Nissa’s Chosen and the life-gaining power of a few other kinds of elves as well. Ant Queen is a beast, especially with Garruk, the monument and all of the mana floating around in this deck. Master of the Wild Hunt is interesting too. I he isn’t dealt with relatively soon, his dogs can take care of all sorts of threats. I think Great Sable Stag is a nod to Jund.

The other decks break down like so:

2 Five Color Cascade
3 Eldrazi
1 Jund Aggro
1 Lotus Jund
1 Emeria Aggro

Check the decks out here, along with the rest of the pack.

The Emeria Aggro deck is worth a look, though it seems to have a few too many 2/2’s in the mix. The Five Color Cascade decks are interesting too; I find it hard to believe decks cramed with so much cascade could lose. Perhaps there is too much of a good thing.

What I also find interesting is the lack of Vampires at all, and how few Jund and Boros Bushwhacker decks are in the top 8 slots.

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Few decks ever suceed without creatures. Only the stoutest of control decks can surivive without them, and even then, most control strategies unleash a few monsters to finish the job. However, not any creature will do. Many are printed, few are chosen. Gone are the days of Grizzly Bears and Shivan Dragon; in today’s removal heavy world, every creature must be worth more than it’s mana cost, or at least the cost of the spell used to take it out.

So who are these superstars of today’s standard metagame? It’s hard to tell. A few stand out, either being great on their own or finding a home in a currently sucessful deck.

Baneslayer_Angel_509

Like any good superstar; just as many people hate the Baneslayer as love her.

Here are the critters I consider A-listers. Most of them don’t need any explaination; you should already know what they do.

Baneslayer Angel
Bloodbraid Elf
Putrid Leech
Sprouting Thrinax
Ranger of Eos
Broodmate Dragon
Iona “I-own-you“, Shield of Emeria
Wall of Denial
Lotus Cobra
Sphinx of Jwar Isle

However, with Zendikar on the table for little over a month, decks are still being tuned in card shops, apartments and basements, and new creatures are being used and abused,  just waiting to be unleased on an unsuspecting meta.

Here are some of the guys I think might be up-and-coming stars.

Knight of the Reliquary
I mentioned this before, but I think KotR is going to only become more powerful as the Zendikar block continues. She works great with the fetches and with the introduction of the landfall mechanic, can do all sorts of little tricks by sacking lands and putting another in play. She can grow quite large too, sacking lands to find fetches to sack for another land.

Steppe Lynx
Steppe Lynx has two things going for him, his mana cost and the ease of triggering the landfall mechanic. In the right deck he could dish out some serious early damage, as well as be a nice surprise blocker. The lynx can also be found with Ranger of Eos, allowing for players to consistantly put him on the board. The one W cost also makes him a very efficient; no matter how they get rid of him, you only paid one.  If the right landfall deck is built, this guy will be a superstar.

Scute Mob
A lot of people are on the fence about this guy, but I think the bug is one of the most efficient creatures around. The mob is a 1/1 for G, but eventually he’s going to be a 5/5 for G, and then a 9/9 for G. However, the “eventually” part is what scares most people off. What also scares people is wasting removal, any removal, on a 1/1 you paid G for, and they’ll let him nibble away until they absolutly have to do something about him. If he gets his grow on, he becomes a beast. I think the mob has a place in a lot of deck, from aggro to control, and making him grow isn’t hard, especially with a little mana acceleration.

Ob Nixilis
Like the Lynx, with a deck centered on landfall, Ob could become a serious threat. Yes, there is a chance you are going to pay 3BB for a 3/3 who is going to get smoked by Lightning Bolt, but if you are smart about it, there is also a chance you are going to get a 6/6 or a 9/9 and make the opponent lose 6 life for 5BB. People are tyring to make this happen as we speak.

ThornlingWhen people first saw Thornling, they went nuts; until they saw Path to Exile, that is. However, last time I looked, the most popular deck in the format doesn’t run white, or anything that could deal with him at all, for that matter. Thornling is a solid creature that would have been better in a format without so many “removed from game” effects, but that shouldn’t mean he never sees play. Perhaps he could be a good sideboard card against Jund, or as a nice ramp monster. Remember, they can’t path him unless they have the card in their hand. Don’t be a fraidy-cat!

Thornling

Dumb looking and a bit redundant, but he could be a solid beater.

 

Great Sable Stag
The stag saw a lot of play when Faeries was still in standard, but since then, players have put him down for different monsters. I wonder, why? He still has protection from black, and black is all the rage right now. Yes, the Jund player can bolt him, but that is four cards in 60, and Vampires can’t do shit. The proud stag should at least be boarded if players don’t want to run him in the maindeck.  

Bloodghast
Bloodghast has a few things keeping him from greatness right now, Vampires, Creatures, and spells that have the word “exile” on them. All are very popular, and all pose a major threat to the ghast. He doesn’t have a home outside vampires at the moment, and that deck is pretty bad, at least when it runs up against competent players with a good deck. The Bloodghast is also terrible when it comes to fighting the other super-powered creatures in today’s metagame, though he can do a fair job of trading with a few of them. Finally, he gets pathed a whole lot, which wouldn’t be so much of a problem if most decks running path didn’t also run creatures he can’t get through. However, if he finds his way into a non-vampire deck or if the metagame sees a shift from it’s current state, he could become a nusiance. He is nearly impossible to deal with using conventional removal, and countering him is just as useless. All it takes is a few in the graveyard and a land drop to cause a serious problem.

Emeria Angel
Again, if landfall becomes a serious deck, this critter could become quite popular.  A 3/3 flier who makes little birds every time a land drops. It wouldn’t be hard to power out 2-4 birds in a turn, and this could be deadly with Garruk and Overrun.
Please notice, landfall looks to work the best with W/B and G at the moment, which also happen to be the colors with some of the best spells avaliable at the moment.

World QuellerWorld Queller
The queller is a nice combination of body and utility. He is a 4/4 for 5, which isn’t bad when you couple it with the ability to cause each player to sacrifice a permanant of the type you choose each upkeep. You get to choose  the type, each upkeep. It might seem awkward at first, but with the right set-up, the savvy player can find ways around his drawback of having to sacrifice something of your own.

There are the guys I would be watching. To see some new standard decks and perhaps a glimps of how these creatures might be put into a deck, visit the official WotC website to see the recent Magic Game Day decks.

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