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How do you make Timmy-sized creatures playable? Pay for them slowly.

It is pre-release day, and sadly, I cannot attend due to a sudden change in work schedule. I don’t actually play Magic these days, but a sealed event really sounded like fun. Maybe I’ll make the release.

In the meantime, I’ve looked over the RoE spoilers over at MTG Salvation. RoE is weird. It seems pretty different from what we’ve seen so far. While I’m not going to try and figure out how the new card will affect the standard meta just yet, I do have some opinions on the new mechanics and themes of the set.

Levelers

I don’t like the leveling creatures. Most of them are awful and it just doesn’t “feel like Magic” to me at all. However, some of the levelers are pretty good, and leveling is probably better than I want to admit. You can power your monsters up in installments instead of having to have a lot of open mana at once, such as the case with Figure of Destiny.

Jorga Treespeaker was the first leveler to catch my eye. She doesn’t actually cost you anything to level her the first time, and there’s probably no reason to level her past that. Student of Warfare is pretty decent as a 3/3 with first strike for 3. Mono red might find a reason to live with Kargan Dragonlord. Others might turn out to be better than they look at first. After all, you eventually get a pretty massive guy or game-changing effect if they sit there long enough. Levelers will probably be sneaky like that.

Rebound

I love rebound. It makes me think of cascade. I get a beneficial effect for doing nothing I wouldn’t do otherwise, which is a bit like cheating. Most of the rebound spells are reasonably costed for what they do, and so getting to play them twice for the same price is great. The drawback of having to play the free copy during your upkeep could hurt you some times, but on other occasions it might actually help.

For example, Consuming Vapors on the rebound might keep your opponents from playing a creature during their turn. If it misses the second time around, the first sacrificial effect and the life gain is well worth 4 mana. Staggershock could also prevent your opponent from playing a creature, and the recurring spell can always hit the player.

Totem Armor

Totem armor seems like an interesting idea to spice up auras, which don’t usually see a whole lot of play. These new enchantments provide not only a bonus, but get around the two-fer effect when an enchanted creature gets zapped by a single spell. They also offer creatures the ability to fight usually bigger things without dying. This being said, none of them are really that exciting.

Hyena Umbra is pretty cool, giving a +1+1 boost plus first strike, not to mention the secondary totem effect. The untap all lands effect of Bear Umbra might be useful in some sort of combo deck.

The Eldrazi

The Eldrazi themselves seem like Timmy’s wet dream to me. They are huge, overpowered creatures. All Eldrazi have annihilator, which is ridiculous and will probably turn tides even with the smallest values. The “bigger” Eldrazi all have a Feldon’s Cane effect if they go into a graveyard from anywhere, so they can’t be cheated into play via graveyard games, but others effects still work fine.  It also gives them the opportunity to end up in your hand again. The big guys all have some ridiculous effect just for playing them too. Even the “smaller” Eldrazi do some pretty cool things.

I’m scared of these guys. Luckily the “smaller” Eldrazi are still pretty expensive and don’t have the protection or effects of the “bigger” guys. The bigger ones will likely cause a scoop, especially the insane Emrakul. They make great finishers, if you can pull off the mana.  There are all sorts of cards who spawn Eldrazi critters who can be sacrificed to produce the colorless mana it takes to summon these beasts.

I’m not a huge fan of the Eldrazi myself. I don’t want to see games evolve into everybody playing mana ramp, first one to Emrakul wins. Flavor wise they are what they were intended to be; invincible assholes. The spawn producing cards are mostly bad, though the ones that net you a creature and the 0/1 tokens are kind of interesting, though most are overpriced. 

At the moment, I don’t see Eldrazi mana-ramp being a hot strategey, but I do see some of the Eldrazi getting play. Kozilek is a resonably priced finisher with a great “when cast” effect, which is perfect for the kind of decks I think he will be played in. The Artisan of Kozilek is pretty neat too, and probably under priced for what he is; a big, scary Eldrazi who brings another monster back from the dead. Lets not forget there are other things to do with scads of colorless mana other than cast Eldrazi.

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The Rise of the Eldrazi spoilers have been steadily rolling out at MTG Salvation and other sites. More of what the new set has to offer has been revealed. So far, it looks pretty ridiculous.

I mean rediculous in terms of individual card power. Look at this stupid thing.

Yes, Emrakul is ridiculous. I think he/she/it just might be the biggest, meanest monster ever printed, though rumors abound about an even bigger Eldrazi. Sure, Emrakul is far from invincible, but he is damned close. Other Eldrazi monsters are already pretty burly already; just look at Kozilek or Ulamog. It is safe to say giant, game winning monsters with crazy powers and even crazier mana costs are at least a sub-theme to this set. It is Rise of the Eldrazi, after all.

A new and ridiculous mechanic has been introduced as well; level up (or leveler, whatever the hell you want to call it). Some creatures can now gain levels by paying an activation cost. Various new abilities and power/toughness upgrades come with different level brackets. It works somewhat like Figure of Destiny combined with the flip cards from the Kamigawa block.

Also ridiculous, the two new planeswalkers; Sarkhan the Mad and Gideon Jura. Both bring something completely new to the planeswalker archtype. Sarkhan has no ability with which to add loyalty counters to him. He ticks away slowly until the last counter is removed. Gideon is the first planeswalker to have the ability to attack players directly as a creature can. It is pretty exciting.

There also seems to be a small colorless mana side-theme to Rise of the Eldrazi as well, which is to be expected when the blocks flagship creatures are colorless. However, it wasn’t clear how it would be implemented aside from the Eldrazi themselves. Now we see lots of cards which create minions with the ability to sacrifice themselves for 1 colorless mana. It appears there will be plenty of  spells available to “Dark Ritual” the ridiculous Eldrazi creatures into play, or pay X mana costs.

Finally, something else ridiculous; Starcity Game’s response to my letter. I have never seen a more blatant “non-answer” to a specific question. Good work.

 My letter:
I was wondering if Starcity Games might consider allowing customers to consolidate multiple pre-orders now that singles are being sold as spoiled.
In order to get the best prices, customers will have to buy early and buy often, which will lead to multiple shipping costs. I am also curious; why you are selling singles as spoiled? I know the eBay market does this, but I also don\’t pre-order product on e-bay because the prices are driven by mostly baseless speculation and new-card hype. I would hate to see the same at Starcity Games. Being able to buy new product as early as possible may appeal to some, but I
think it was just fine when pre-order day was after the pre-release.

Response from Starcity Games:
Thank you for your inquiry.  Our Pre-Order policy is to not combine orders once they are placed.  We do understand your feedback and issue with the
singles being put up at different times.  We do try to work with our customers as best we can. Unfortunately, we do not know at the beginning of pre-order sales what the single cards will be.  Once they are discovered we do make the decision whether or not to make that card available for pre-order.

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Inquiring Minds

I see that I’m averaging around 50 hits per day and I’m interested to find out how people are finding my website. I’ve made this little poll to find out. Feel free to leave a comment if you wish. In fact, if you vote “other”, I would love to know what “other” is.

 

Also, www.wizardscupboard.com sells Baneslayer Angel for $35, if they’ve ever got them in stock.

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At the end of Preview Week one, we’ve gotten a pretty good look into the world of Zendikar. We’ve learned alot about the wild, untamed plane and the people living there. We’ve also seen a good deal the new cards, and with them new and returning game mechanics.

When a new set brings with it new keywords or card types, there is always a lot of speculation on how they are going to change the various formats. Sometimes it turns out ot be a great deal, such as cascade (especially in Alara block). Sometimes it doesn’t make much of a difference, such as Time Spiral’s vanishing.

Sphinx

The truth? Your hair looks stupid.

Kicker
Kicker is not new, but a returning mechanic from the Invasion block. Kicker allows you to pay an extra cost for an added or boosted effect when playing a spell. Kavu Titan and the battlemage cycle are good examples of a popular cards with the kicker mechanic. While most cards with kicker are sub-par or simply “meh” for the cost, it is their flexibility to be several things which makes them exciting. Some, like the titan, could fill a roll as either an early or late drop. Desolation Angel could simply be a nice flyer or a land-destroying finisher. 
For more on kicker, see the Mike Flores article (along with a Zen preview) here.  

Landfall
Landfall is entirely new. Cards with landfall have an effect which is triggered whenever you put a land onto the battlefield under your control. Sometimes it needs be a specific type of land. So far, some of the landfall effects seen include creating tokens, adding counters to creatures, dealing damage and giving bonuses until the beginning of the end of turn step. On the right cards with the right triggered abilities, this could be quite the powerhouse since it requires very little of the player other than doing something they would normally do in the first place; play a land.

Intimidation 
Intimidation is a new color-based evasion ability. Creatures with intimidate can only be blocked by creatures sharing a color with it or artifact creatures. Not that anybody was playing black so they wouldn’t get hit by fear, but at least swamp  mages have to worry about it too now.

Creature type: Ally
Ally is a new creature type. So far, it looks as though most ally cards either trigger an effect on other ally cards when they come onto the battlefield or have an effect triggered when other ally cards come onto the battlefield. Some effects count the number of allies in play. These effects include adding counters or looking at a players hand and drawing cards equal to the number of allies in play.

Instant type: Trap
Trap is a new card type given to instants which can be cast at no or reduced cost if a certain condition is met. Some of these conditions include opponents playing a specific number of spells, searching libraries or attacking with a single creature.

There also seem to be a good number of enchantments which operate by accumulating “quest” counters. The enchantment is played and the counters are given each time a specified action takes place, such as a creature going to the graveyard or an opponents turn passing where you take no damage. Once a certain number of “quest” counters accumulate, the enchantment can be sac’d and an effect happens such as creating a creature token or returning creatures from the graveyard to your hand. One spoiled so far has a cost required to activate the enchantment, but does not require sacrificing it.

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Psst, kid! Play a fetchland!

Everything interesting so far. The new card types are kind of funny, especially when you consider the fact the mechanics have been done before; they just didn’t have a name. All sorts of blocks had creatures that benifited from each other, and others had cards which could be played at an alternate cost if certian conditions were met. As for intimidate; it’s just fear.  

The return of kicker seems like alot of fun. I’m personally looking forward to playing with this, since I missed it in Invasion. Landfall looks interesting too, especially with the new fetch land cycle.

Landfall also looks like it has the most potential to be a little bit broken, like cascade. Neither mechanic actually requires any skill, only that a player does something they would normally do. Both of them also have the potential to be incredibly powerful. To get great value from cascade, all you have to do is a cascade card worth playing andgood cards which can be flipped. With landfall, all you have to do is have a card with a good landfall mechanic and some lands in your deck. Already I see a few cards and card combinations with landfall which look pretty scary.

However, with all of the new card types and mechanics, it will be impossible to see how powerful they will be or what impact they will have on the metagame until all of the cards have bene spoiled. It doesn’t matter how crazy the keyword or mechanic is if the card isn’t worth playing. Even then, we may have to wait for the next few sets to see their true potential.

Either way, here’s hoping for some fun with the coming of Zendikar and new game mechanics.

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Holy crap!

Has everyone seen this yet?

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Yes sir, it is an enemy fetchland, revealed at the Penny Arcade Expo and posted on the MTG Salvation site by Evan Erwin of Starcity Game’s The Magic Show. I’m guessin this makes it pretty legit.

I wonder, is this the rare cycle players have been clamoring for Mark Rosewater was talking about in his little preview teaser a week ago? I’m going to hazard a guess and say yes.

This means we’ll be seing fetchlands in these colors: 
Red/White (Arid Mesa)
White/Black
Black/Green
Green/Blue
Blue/Red

This is huge. Fetchlands are great mana fixing and they thin your deck. They may not be as hot in standard as they are in other formats, mainly because they cannot fetch duals, but they’ll still be money. Especially with the landfall mechanic, as you can trigger the new keyword twice with a fetch. Don’t forget, the land you fetch comes into play untapped.

I’m guessing these suckers will be expensive right out of the box. I am glad they weren’t printed as mythics. I would say a starting price will be around $20+ a pop, maybe settling around $15 for the  colors nobody ends up playing.

What’s next for Zendikar? A new wrath and enemy fetchlands already make this set look pretty expensive.

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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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