Archive for the ‘Metagame Roundup’ Category

I mentioned in my last article, some sort of weenie deck is bound to make an appearance as soon as Scars of Mirrodin is legal. artifact weenie decks and mono-white decks using metalcraft triggers and equipment to bolster critters are all popular ideas. However, nobody yet knows what shape the weenie deck will take. Perhaps (and very likely) it will take several forms before convelescing into an archetypal deck.

when i think of a scars weenie deck, I can’t help but think of adding red. White has plenty of good weenie creatures, but I feel too many of them are artifact dependent. Red, on the other hand, has lots of options which are already good, but could be better when equipped. A good mix of both white and red could make for a formidable deck, in my opinion.

Red has some great weenie creatures which have already proven themselves. Goblin Guide, Plated Geopede, Cunning Sparkwhatever and Goblin Bushwhacker are great creatures. Each one seems like it could benefit from a nice set of Adventuring Gear or Sword of Vengeance. Each one could also put down a good beating on their own if a white cohort like Kor Duelist needs a machete badly. Newcomers like Goblin Gaveleer and Spikeshot Elder are great additions as well.

The Gaveleer already has trample, and he gets a +2 +0 bonus just for having gear on him! Strap him with some adventuring gear and you’ve got a 3/1 trample, not to mention if you hit landfall. The elder is incredible too. I realized how much of a bad-ass he was during the pre-release. Paying RR1 or 1 damage seems like a lot, but he can do it without tapping, and his damage t scales directly with his power. Put a machete or a Basilisk Collar on that.

Red also has more proactive spells. With Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring gone, white is stuck with mostly situational removal. Lighting Bolt doesn’t care what your opponents creature is doing. Attacking or at home with the family, it does 3 damage. We still have Burst Lightning, Punishing Fire and Forked Bolt. Newcomers like Galvanic Blast and Arc Trail are nice too.  Red also keeps a little stash of utility spells which can steal troublesome creatures or create dudes from unused equipement.

While red provides some good options for the weenie deck, it will really come down to what works out the best. Maybe playing a zillion artifacts to hit metalcraft triggers on bladewright or sunchaser is the way to go.  Maybe Glint Hawk is better than Goblin Guide. Or maybe there will be a combination of both. Maybe it won’t matter because Koth powered Titan Ramp decks will be blowing everythign up. We’ll find out soon enough.


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Block rotation is one of the coolest periods in tournament Magic. The old guard decks (which everybody is sick of) rotate out or lose a lot of power, replaced by timid newcomers unsure of their place in constructed play. Sometimes Teir 2 decks get a chance to see what first class accommodations look like for a while. It is a great time for deck builders and people who sell cards.

Also. Jund, you were a bastard not unlike Freddy Kruger; born from the sweaty thrusting of a thousand players who saw cascade was retarded and could afford Maelstrom Pulse.  I thought I invented you, but your mom was a whore. You’re not my son. Get off my couch.

So, what are we going to be looking at in the future?

Quite a few people I talked to during the pre-release seemed to think a White Weenie deck was poised to make an appearance in the new standard. I agree.  However, I’m not sure what form the weenie or token deck will take. Maybe something mono white, like this.  Maybe it will be made from artifacts. Most likely with will be weenies witih artifacts.

I can has play time?

When I first thought about playing a weenie-artifact deck, I didn’t like the idea. I didn’t think you were getting a whole lot of an advantage playing small creatures which had to be equipped to be any good. I didn’t think paying 1 for a 1/1 and then having to pay 3 to drop and put some equipment on it to make it a 3/2 double strike was all that hot. That’s like paying 4 for a 3/2 double strike, right?

Well, maybe that’s not so bad.

And metalcraft? I fucking hate metalcraft. I’m probably wrong about this, but I think it sucks, for now. I saw plenty of decklists with that lame Mox Opal and Auriok Edgewright in them. Getting three artifacts regularly in a rush deck? Ugh.

However, I thought about it and I see you can get some pretty powerful effects from these type of interactions. I still don’t like Metalcraft, or the metal craft creatures like Auriok Sunchaser and the edgewright. I’d rather use the Zendikar gear-enabled creatures. You also get to re-use the equipment if your guy dies, so it’s not like an enchantment you’re investing in one creature. 

So, in the future, at least when the meta first changes, I expect to see a lot of weenies. I’ll probably see a million Trusty Machetes, Adventuring Gear, Basilisk Collars and Swords of Vengeance. I’m probably going to look at the aforementioned creatures along with Glint Hawk, Kor Duelist, Kor Outfitters, Stoneforge Mystic, Steppe Lynx and a shittload of Memnites.  

I haven’t heard a lot about Honor the Pure, Ajani Goldmane or other types of mass buffing effects. I  beleive the idea is to use the artifacts to trigger rediculous creature effects rather make them all just a little bit bigger. I have to admit, a 4/4 with doublestrike is a lot cooler than a 3/3 or a 4/4. However, a little vanilla love might not hurt either, especially if you’re just going to throw a knife on a bird.

However, I think there are a few more avenues for weenie decks I haven’t heard people talking about, espcially if they’re going to be passing out the artifact equipment. ……

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When a block rotates out and a new one steps in, there is a rare moment when the metagame is a relatively clean slate. Here there is a chance for real innovation. New cards come in, old cards previously not “good enough” are suddenly look a lot better and strategies that just didn’t make it in the old metagame might get the chance to shine in the new one.

Lets take a look at some of the post-Zendikar decks that didn’t have a strong showing at the Starcitygames Phillidelphia 5k, or are still in the “development” phase.

Cruel Control
Other Control

*Each highlighted deck link is a different version of the discussed deck.

Traditional Cruel Control (and varients)

Cruel Control has been a popular deck for quite some time now, starting as Quick n’ Toast first and slowly evolving to what we know now as Cruel Control (as almost every variant runs at least two copies of the namesake sorcery). This deck usually ends up on top sometime due to its ability to play all of the best cards in the format, no matter what the color, and can thus have an answer to most everything in the metagame. However, the deck usually has lull periods when the best cards in the format and the “enemy” are yet to be defined, such as right now, when the meta is in flux.  
At it’s core, Cruel Control is just as it says; a control deck. It keeps the board squeaky clean with the best removal, sweepers and countermagic; drawing cards in the meantime and waiting until the right moment to drop an efficient threat like Broodmate Dragon or Baneslayer Angel or cast its flagship card, Cruel Ultimatum.
Right now, the biggest changes to the deck are the loss of countermagic (not Cryptic Command = teh suck for many) and the addition of fetches (no more Reflecting Pool or vivid lands). What the deck gained is Wrath of God (Day of Judgment) and a nice finisher in Sphinx of Jwar Isle.
The deck still plays the same, just different spells. Kill, counter, cast a finisher or Cruel Ultimatum. What remains to be seen is what the deck will have to include to counter todays threats and if the old card choices are as effective as they were pre-Zendikar.

Other variants exist, such as Cascade Control. Here, the idea is pretty much the same; control the board, but with less countermagic and more creature removal, as cascade doesn’t play well with counters. Cascade control is a little more pro-active, if you ask me, if only on the back of the free cards generated by the  nine or so Cascade cards.

Other varients of Cruel Control exist too, but they all pretty much play the same way, with the choice of finishers or the inclusion of a few extra counter/kill cards being the only difference.


Bant is a deck people have been trying to work on since Shards of Alara was printed. However, the archetype has only seen limited success, usually with aggressive decks riding on the back of Rafiq of the Many or Finest Hour.
Bant is an interesting combination of cards, featuring a little bit of muscle, combat trickery and countermagic.  The deck operates as an agressive or mid-range creature deck, getting in for some early damage and then keeping the board clean until it can get in with a power hit after dropping Rafiq, Finest Hour or both.  The deck can even deal with a few things larger than itself with some countermagic. However, the deck never seems to get there. Some of the coolest creatures and best removal are in Bant colors, yet the deck just never seems to get there constantly. I do not know why, but I can speculate; the cards in the other decks are just a bit better. With no cascade, card drawing, or direct damage, it seems Bant has no real way to come back once the game starts going south either.  
Still, Bant is one of my favorite color combinations. Perhaps with the additional white removal or with a few creature changes, Bant can make a stronger showing  in the new Metagame.


Naya is another second-string deck that, like Bant, just doesn’t seem to have gotten there yet, despite great cards. Also like Bant, there seem to be different versions post-Zen; aggressive versions and a mid-range mana-rampish version. The former version is one I have had experience with. The deck usually throws out some quality one drops like Wild Nacatl and now Goblin Guide or Scute Mob, then picks up the pace with the cascade triggering Bloodbraid Elf, the powerful Woolly Thoctar or the card drawing Ranger of Eos, keeping the board and hands full. Some versions run Ajani Vengeant. The deck also runs with some removal like Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt. The extent of the Naya strategy is to bash to victory and hopefully get good draws from the elf and enough guys from Ranger to survive sweepers, which the deck was originally pretty immune to (before they reprinted wrath).
The second version, Naya Lotus Angel, uses Lotus Cobra to ramp up to Baneslayer Angel, Rampaging Baloths or Enlisted Wurm quickly. It also plays many of the same creatures  Naya Aggro runs, such as the one drops.
Naya is now adding critters like Dauntless Escort and Knight of the Reliquary, dropping some of the bigger vanilla monsters. Good move, I say. Perhaps the deck just needs some fresh cards.


Soldiers, the token white weenie deck of the format. Play lots of dudes, power them up with other dudes and the white-only enchantment Honor the Pure. Play more dudes and overwhelm your opponent. Not a lot of innovation here. Captain of the Watch is great for six mana. Brave the elements is great for either protecting your guys from a damage-dealing sweeper or surprising the opponent by giving your guys protection from thier guys and swing in for lethal damage.  Removal is usually limited to path, and maybe a few combat tricks with Brave the Elements or Harm’s Way.
Question: why do soldier decks playing Ranger of Eos and Captain of the Watch not play Kor Skyfisher? A 2/3 flying soldier for 1W. Return the ranger or the captain to your hand to cast them again for their CIP ability.


Everybody knows how powerful cascade is; you get cards for free doing something you would normally do; cast a spell. It is no wonder so many powerful decks have a bit of cascade built into them, such as Cruel Cascade and Jund. Some decks are trying to capitalize on this by adding the best of the cascade cards to a single package, though the effectiveness of this idea is yet unknown. Give it a shot.

Other Control

Control is a popular strategy, and no wonder; some kind of control deck usually ends up pwning the formate eventually. Right now, aside from Cruel Control, there are quite a few other control strategies out there. Time Sieve, for example, keeps your opponent from doing any real damage before you either a.) kill them with animated artifacts, or b.) take 20 turns before killing them with animated artifacts. It seems like a dumb idea, but it works pretty well. The version linked above is a little strange, as it doesn’t run much removal or counters, but it can still be deadly.
Other combo decks include this new innovation here. According its creator, the deck’s strange spell choices might just come out of left field. but are great in today’s meta. Personally, I like Swerve, especially with cards like Mind Sludge and Blightning running around. It can switch the target of a Malestrom Pulse nicely too, saving your planeswalker. Magosi the Waterwell ain’t too bad either. Drop a counter when the opponent doesn’t make a play, let him take the next turn and then do something stupid like draw 7 with Mindspring and take another turn. 
Mono White control is also trying to make a showing, likely due to the new “wrath” and Lumiarch Ascension. It is not as hard as it seems to get that sucker online.  Iona, Shield of Emeria can shut down games fast, and Emeria, the Sky Ruin can bring back fallen Baneslayers and Knight of the White Orchid.

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The post-Zendikar standard metagame is starting to shape up, and though there haven’t been a whole lot of of standard events (one, actually) to draw decklists from, a few have begun to appear. Sure, plenty of people have great ideas for new decks when we get our hands on brand-spanking new cards, but while we’re experimenting (I’m obsessed with Bloodchief Ascension myself) with new ideas, it’s nice to see what is actually racking up the wins.

So far, the Starcitygames Phillidelphia 5k is the first standard event since Zendikar’s release. Let’s take a look at what the top 8 decks were comprised of:

5  Jund Aggro!
1 Boros Bushwhacker
1Red Deck Wins


We all knew this guy would see play eventually.

Jund hasn’t changed alot; neither losing or gaining anything of great importance, which is likely why it is so popular right now. Jund is easy to build, fairly easy to play, and pretty high on the power scale thanks to insanely efficient creatures, strong removal and the practically broken cascade mechanic.  
So what is new with Jund? Sprouting  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”Sprouting “>Thrinax has taken the place of Boggart Ram-Gang/Kitchen Finks. He is a bitch to deal with; there is no good way to kill him unless you are playing white.
A few versions, including the 1st place winner, ran a few copies of Resounding Thunder, as well as a few copies of Garruk Wildspeaker. Both cards can cinch the long game, wether with an uncounterable 6 damage to the dome or a herd of 4/4 saproling tokens.  

Boros Bushwhacker

Boros Bushwhacker is a balls-to-the-wall  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”balls-to-the-wall “>aggro deck, consisting of cheap creatures, burn, and a smidge of removal. While I haven’t played with or against the deck, but I’ve heard it is said bushwhacker operate very quickly with great consistency. Many of the decks small creatures, such as Plated Geopede and Steppe Lynx get a boost from landfall triggers, and as inexpensive as they are, an army can appear on a clear board, hasted and ready to go thanks to Goblin Bushwhacker. Add a land drop to the mix and perhaps bounce the bushwhacker (or land) back to hand with Kor Skyfisher (not a bad card at all) and you’ve got some mean combatants in a jiffy. Ranger of Eos can grab whatever you need too, since nearly every creature in the deck costs only one mana.


Vampires is the auto-build deck we all saw coming as soon as the tribe was spoiled on the internets.  The deck doesn’t have a lot of tricks but it is rather consistent and the creatures are relatively inexpensive but boast a wide range of useful abilities. The deck seems to really shine when Vampire Nocturnus is on the board giving the tribe (and itself) +2+1 and flying. Without the lord, the rest of the clan can still be quite troublesome, especially the constantly recurring Bloodghast and the incredible Malakair Bloodwitch. Aside from the creatures, the mono-black deck has some tricky kill like Tendrils of Corruption and can even draw a few cards with Sign in Blood to keep the tank full.

Red Deck Wins

Not a lot to talk about here. Red deck does the same thing red decks have always done; attack with hasty, cheap creature and cast burn spells. Ball lightning can smash through early defenses for some serious damage, and the Hellspark Elemental and Hell’s Thunder operate in much the same way, but can come back for a second attack thanks to the uncounterable Unearth mechanic. Plated Geopede and Goblin Guide provide some lasting attack power.  Also seen in RDW, along with the Boros Bushwhacker deck, is the use of Teetering Peaks to provide not only mana, but a landfall trigger and a power boost. A turn two Geopede is a 4/4 first striker on turn 3; not too bad at all.

Several other decks made a showing at the Philly 5k. To see the list of the top 16 decks, go here. These, however, do not the definitive post-Zendikar lists. The standard meta is quite young, and many old favorites are being fine tuned to combat some of the newer archetypes, and new ideas are still being tested.

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 Another deck that seems to be dominating the metagame, though not necessarily the top 8, is Jund. Unlike 5cc, Jund can be built several different ways, and most of them tend to be pretty successful.

Here are several basic Jund builds

Jund, by Brian Robinson, as seen on Starcity Games.

4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Boggart Ram-gang
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Putrid LeechInstants
4 Bituminous Blast
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Volcanic Fallout
Legendary Creatures
2 Sygg, River CutthroatSorceries
2 Maelstrom Pulse
3 Sign In Blood

Basic Lands
1 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Swamp

1 Fire-lit Thicket
3 Graven Cairns
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Savage Lands
4 Twilight Mire
3 Vivid Grove
3 Vivid Marsh

Sideboard: 3 Anathemancer
4 Great Sable Stag
1 Snakeform
3 Blightning
2 Infest
1 Maelstrom Pulse

Jund Mannequin, by Brad Nelson, as seen on the WotC Magic site. 4th Place US Nationals

Main Deck60 cards
Fire-Lit Thicket
Reflecting Pool
Twilight Mire
Vivid Crag
Vivid Grove
Vivid Marsh

24 lands

 Bloodbraid Elf
Caldera Hellion
Kitchen Finks
Putrid Leech

25 creatures
Maelstrom Pulse
Makeshift Mannequin
Volcanic Fallout

11 other spells
Great Sable Stag
Thought Hemorrhage

15 sideboard cards

Put down the salt shaker and get me a damn crowbar.

While 5cc relies on being able to play the most powerful cards in the format and keeping the board clean, Jund decks tend to rely on efficient creatures and the (broken) cascade mechanic.  The monsters played in most Jund decks are mostly immune to sweepers or have an immediate effect on the game. Jund also has to some great removal spells like Maelstrom Pulse and almost all of the same sweepers as 5cc. The deck can also grab some card advantage with sign in blood and the unlikely Sygg, River Cutthroat.

The game plan is simple, kill whatever is on the other side of the board and beat your opponent over the head with your own creatures.

The nice thing about Jund decks is they allow for some customization. There are about a zillion incarnations of the deck running around right now.  While the above build is generally considered the stock version, alot of good cards come in a combination of red, green and black flavors. Anthemancer, Chameleon Colossus, Broodmate Dragon and Blightning are just a few.  Jund also allows for a nice sideboard, featuring things like Great Sable Stag, Deathmark and Infest.

The Mannequin Jund deck is a bit of a different animal. Creatures take the place of many spells. Lightning Bolt and Bithumious Blast become Shriekmaw and Caldara Hellion. Sign in Blood becomes Mulldrifter. The option to use Makeshift Mannequin to “cast” creatures at instant speed can be an advantage.  The game plan is still the same; kill the opponents creatures, play your own.

Again, there are alot of ways to play Jund, but these versions seem to fare better than some of the earliest incarnations. Jund aggro didn’t do too well ever, and Five-Color-Blood, which splashed blue for Cryptic Command, might as well be 5cc. 

I don’t know Jund’s matchups at the moment. I’ve read it does fairly well against 5cc. However, it hasn’t won any regionals yet, so I don’t know what’s up with that. I’ve been told it has some problems with swarms, but that seems hard for me to believe. I had personal experience with the deck prior to M10, and I know it was a blast to play. The creatures are fun and “cheating” spells into play with cascade is a hoot.  The ability to screw around a bit with the makeup of the deck without totally crippling it is a plus too. If you aren’t into 5cc, I would reccomend some sort of Jund deck.

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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!


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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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It has been several weeks since Alara Reborn has been released and it’s safe to say the new set has added enough good cards to the pool to send some ripples through the standard metagame. Old decks are being tossed or revamped to account for the new tech. Waves of new decks have also begun popping up, and some of them look like they mean business.


As far as old strategies go, a few deck lists got an upgrade but it looks like quite a few are losing support from the dealership and may need to evolve into something totally different. From what I’ve seen so far, the only deck remaining strong without a whole lot of changes is B/W tokens.

B/W Tokens

B/W Tokens by Mandee Peralta: 1st place Pro Tour Qualifier in Dallas, Texas

Maindeck:Artifact Creatures
4 Tidehollow ScullerCreatures
3 Cloudgoat Ranger
3 Kitchen Finks
4 Knight Of The White Orchid
2 Marsh Flitter

3 Glorious Anthem

3 Path To Exile
3 Zealous Persecution

3 Ajani GoldmaneSorceries
4 Spectral ProcessionTribal Enchantments
4 Bitterblossom

Basic Lands
3 Plains
1 Swamp

3 Arcane Sanctum
3 Caves Of Koilos
4 Fetid Heath
2 Mutavault
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Windbrisk Heights

Sideboard:3 Wispmare
3 Mark Of Asylum
2 Celestial Purge
2 Identity Crisis
3 Thoughtseize
2 Wrath Of God

It's quick, but it probably won't be painless.

This nice midrange deck is like the jerk in high school we were jealous of; it does everything. This deck can attack with multiple, cheap threats on both land and in the air. Given a relatively short amount of time these weenies can get pretty big. These same weenies are pretty good defenders, as are Kitchen Finks and Cloudgoat Ranger, who smells funny too. Path to Exile takes care of anything else and Tidehollow Sculler is notorious for ruining perfectly good hands.

The addition of Zealous Persecution is Alara Reborn’s contribution to the B/W Token strategy. This card does amazing things at instant speed. It can turn the tide of battle, especially in a mirror. It can also keep your team alive if the opponent hits the Volcanic Fallout/Jund Charm button. This is fun to cast when they try to burn your guys while you’re on the attack.

This deck works pretty well against aggro, and slow/midrange creature decks. Faerie and spirit tokens are well-known for blocking everything in sight. Finks keeps your life total padded. The deck has access to some solid sideboard cards too,  like Runed Halo, Wrath of God and Mark of Asylum. B/W Tokens is pretty resilient on its own, even with Maelstrom pulse poking around.

Other decks have gotten the re-vamp too, but these new versions of old favorites don’t look much like they used to.


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