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Posts Tagged ‘Bloodbraid Elf’

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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Woolly

Big and dumb can be pretty dangerous.

 One of my favorite decks is Naya Zoo. Yeah, it is a tier 2, at the moment,  but I think the deck has the potential to break into the top tier.

I’ve been playing Naya Zoo for quite some time now, and it seems pretty solid. That being said, I cannot say much about how it matches up in today’s metagame. I haven’t played consistently enough against the same sort of decks you would see at a major tournament.

What I can tell you is what the deck does well. It plays cheap and powerful or cheap and potentially powerful creatures and turns them sideways. Yes, it is a beatdown deck. However, it has a few tricks. Naya Zoo generates card advantage with cascade and Ranger of Eos, a pretty nice trick with all of the removal out there. It also has a bit of removal too, for things like those pesky Baneslayer Angels.

As much as a dumb monster deck as Naya Zoo is, you cannot just throw things out there without thinking and expect to win. I know this from experience. Naya Zoo still requires brains. I would have to say 50% of my losses with this deck were due to user error.

Here is a build I went 5-2 with last Friday.

Naya Zoo

 
Creatures
3 Scute Mob
4 Wild Nacatl
3 Woolly Thoctar
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Ranger of Eos
3 Enlisted Wurm Planeswalkers
2 Ajani Vengeant

  

Instants
4 Path to Exile
3 Lightning Bolt
2 Naya Charm

Lands
2 Mountain
4 Plains
4 Forest
4 Jungle Shrine
4 Arid Mesa
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Sideboard
3 Qasali Pridemage
3 Dauntless Escort
3 Volcanic Fallout
3 Great Sable Stag
3 Journey to Nowhere

Again, I can’t say a whole lot about the matchups. I only played a few decks what I would consider “mainstream”. However, I can briefly discuss some of the cards  and how they perform.  

Scute Mob: Some say he’s great, others say he sucks, but his board presence is undeniable. He has to be answered eventually, or he will quickly get out of hand. Yes, all removal kills him, but you only paid one G. Maybe he’s a 1/1, maybe he’s a 9/9.  

Knight of the Reliquary: The best trick with her is to blow up a plains and then look for an Arid Mesa. You can figure out what to do next. Not only does this help her grow by 2 each turn, but it helps to thin your deck out too. Block and do it before damage is dealt.  She can be a lot of work, and I would suggest boarding her out in control matchups where the chances of your hard work paying off are minimal. Against other creature decks with little removal, she’s a superstar.

Enlisted Wurm: Cascade is insane, and to keep up with something like Jund, you need to be able to “cheat” in as many free monsters and spells as possible. Not only can the wurm do that, but he has a solid body as well.

Naya Charm: I only saw this a few times, but it was a monster each time I did. All of the charm’s abilities are pretty relevant. The least useful ability is the 3 damage. The charm’s other two abilities are what really makes it shine. In a standoff situation, it will win you the game. It also counts as “extra copies” of spells or creatures already in the graveyard.

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood: Sometimes, 4/4 Nacatls are really useful. The extra point of power and toughness can sometimes make a huge difference.

Sideboard: Was terrible, except for the Journey to Nowhere. Sometimes a little extra removal is necessary against those big finishers.

After Friday, I made a few slight changes to the mainboard, and quite a few changes to the sideboard. Here’s the new makeup.

Naya Zoo Two

Creatures
3 Scute Mob
4 Wild Nacatl
3 Woolly Thoctar
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Ranger of Eos
3 Enlisted Wurm 

 Instants
4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Naya Charm

Lands
2 Mountain
4 Plains
4 Forest
4 Jungle Shrine
4 Arid Mesa
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Sideboard
3 Captured Sunlight
2 Luminarch Ascension
2 Uril the Miststalker
2 Volcanic Fallout
3 Dauntless Escort
3 Journey to Nowhere

Ajani sucked in all of my games. If I saw him, that was. Even in control matchups, there was always a sphinx or sodding Baneslayer Angel flying over my head to kill him if I didn’t have a path. However, an extra bolt or Naya Charm would have won me a few games, so I added them in.

Sideboard 2

Naya does horribly against the stupid mono-red decks out there. They burn your creatures, hit you with earthquake a few times and then Spire Barrage you to death. I wished for some Captured Sunlight, which I had in the original sideboard but took out. It will also help you get back some of your burned monsters. Uril the Miststalker should be great in removal-heavy matchups, and as an added bonus, bigger than anything Jund has. The Luminarch Ascensions should help with control matchups.

Here are a few tips on how to play Naya Zoo.

Your deck is best at 5 + lands. Never keep a hand with less than 3 lands in it. I am willing to bet I’ve lost most of the games I’ve tried it with fewer.

Unless you really need guys on the field, use Bloodbraid Elf and Enlisted Wurm as if they were removal; cast them when there’s something you need to get rid of. Cascading into a path when you don’t need it sucks, and being able to get a free one and a monster is great.

Scute Mob should be dropped on turn one, if you have it in your opening hand. They’ll have to get rid of it eventually, and even if you only get in for a couple points before you have to hold it back or it gets removed.

In a control match-up, play Ranger of Eos whenever they don’t have the mana to counter, even if you don’t think you need the guys. You will. Playing a Bloodbraid Elf or Enlisted Wurm into a counterspell is okay. They’ll have to choose.

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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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 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.

Maindeck:Creatures
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

Lands
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
Forest
Mountain
Reflecting Pool
Swamp
Twilight Mire
Vivid Crag
Vivid Grove
Vivid Marsh


24 lands

 Bloodbraid Elf
Caldera Hellion
Cloudthresher
Kitchen Finks
Mulldrifter
Putrid Leech
Shriekmaw


25 creatures
Maelstrom Pulse
Makeshift Mannequin
Volcanic Fallout


11 other spells
Sideboard 
Anathemancer
Cloudthresher
Deathmark
Great Sable Stag
Thought Hemorrhage


15 sideboard cards
     
Leech

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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M10 is amost upon us. Speculation on which new cards are “the bomb” and how the new cardboard will affect the standard metagame is running rampant. Personally, when it comes to new sets, I’ve adopted a KISS philosophy.

I find it easier to navigate through the sparkly new card pool if I separate things into three piles; crap, potentially good, and obviously good. Obviously good cards are cards that either a.) have a serious spot in the meta right now, or b.) are so good decks will be built around them. Potentially good cards are cards that, if the right situation or deck comes along, will be good.

I leave the latter alone anymore. I am not a pro player and have realized I am not very good at deciding what cards might be good in the future. When I dabbled in the past, I ended up with folders full of junk like Twilight Shepherd Creakwood Liege and every damn Treefolk card printed in Lorwyn and Morningtide.  

I will, however, invest in obviously good cards. I love it when I know exactly what it is I’m looking at and how to use it.

So, what cards in M10 would I invest in?

M10 Dual LandsDrownedCatcomb
I know everybody is bitching that they don’t produce mana on turn one, but neither do any of the other CIPT lands they’re all playing. The difference is, these can if you’ve got a basic on the table, which is something the others can’t do. Most of these will become a staple, especially when Lorywn/Shadowmoor rotate out. The ones that produce blue will definitely be usable.

Lightning Bolt
This card wrote the book on efficiency. It is the king of direct damage, hands-down. It kills a early to mid game threat and can also punch your opponent in the face; all for one mana. L-Bolt will be found in close to every deck running red, and I’m willing to bet that includes the 4 and 5 color control decks out there too.

Ball Lightning
Also very efficient, Ball Lightning will no doubt be slapped into Red Deck Wins and flipped by Bloodbraid Elves everywhere. No matter what happens to it, you’re likely winning out. If it is countered or killed, they used a card on a ephemeral threat. If it is blocked, you’re killing a creature and likely getting in some damage. Don’t be fooled by how crappy Groundbreaker was; red is the magic color. With Ball lightning Back and Expect to see a big spike in RDW in the next few months.  

Baneslayer Angel
Baneslayer Angel is insane. A 5/5 flyer with first strik and lifelink; for five mana. No matter how you look at it, you’re getting a great deal. She’s also got protection from Demons and Dragons, which is like heated seats and extra cup holders when you’ve just bought a brand new Lincoln for $5000; maybe they’ll come in handy some day. The only problem here, is that I’ve seen some good white finishers come out in some of the past expansions, and none of them have been touched. My other gripe, the broad is already up to $15 thanks to the “mythic” rating. Not worth it.

Elite Vanguard
Finally, a Savannah Lions without restrictions. None of this must attack or reveal X creature type crap.  A true 2/1 beater for one mana. I have no doubt he’ll find his way into all sorts of White Weenie and aggro decks over the next year or so.

Captain of the Watch
I already went over her here, in my article about the various “lords” being printed in M10. Efficient, and will always provide some kind of advantage no matter what.

White/Black Knight
I’m so glad to see these guys back. They are excellent two-drops. A 2/2 with protection and first strike is great. Look at how much play Knight of Meadowgrain got. These guys don’t have lifelink, but we all know first strike is great, and protection from black/white will often end up stopping early-game assaults or acting as a form of evasion.

Sable StagGreat Sable Stag
Wow! Just wow. He is a 3/3 for three mana, uncounterable and has protection from blue and black. Like the knights mentioned above, usually protection from a color often makes a card great at blocking and grants a form of evasion. Even if the protection turns out not to be relevant (which will be rare), the stag is still decent body for the price and will trade nicely with many mid-game threats.

Duress
Duress is great. Pay one mana, look at an opponents hand. That is a spell in itself. However, Duress also lets you take a non-creature, non-land card from that hand and throw it away. It doesn’t let you hit a creature like Thoughtseize does, but creatures tend to be easier to deal with than spells. Duress also doesn’t suck like Thoughtseize when you are low on life.     

Ponder
Ponder is also two spells for the price of one. Look at the top three cards of your library, arrange them or shuffle them into the deck, and then draw a card is an insane effect for one mana. Other than that, blue got raped. Sorry. 

If I were buying M10, the above cards are what I would buy (except that frickin’ angel, that is ridiculous). I don’t know if they are the very bestcards in the set, but they are obviously good, and most of them have an immediate spot in the metagame right now.

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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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Little white men won the GP Sao Paulo for Brazil’s Daniel Almeida Alves earlier today, toppling the mighty Doran and Argentinean Andres Monsalve.

Surprisingly, there was no black in the winning deck. Instead, Alves ran a mono-white “8-Knights” deck, playing some of white’s best one and two drop creatures alongside token-deck staples such as Spectral Procession, Cloudgoat Ranger and Glorious Anthem.

“8-Knights”, played by Daniel Almeida Alves, Grand Prix Sao Paulo winner 2009

Main Deck60 cards
Mutavault
16  Plains
Rustic Clachan
Windbrisk Heights


25 landsBurrenton Forge-Tender
Cloudgoat Ranger
Figure of Destiny
Knight of Meadowgrain
Knight of the White Orchid
Ranger of Eos


22 creatures
Ajani Goldmane
Glorious Anthem
Path to Exile
Spectral Procession
Unmake


13 other spells
Sideboard 
Aura of Silence
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Path to Exile
Reveillark
Stillmoon Cavalier
Wrath of God


15 sideboard cards

As for his choice of decks, Alves had this to say;  

Mono-white “8 Knights.” Because I practiced and used to play the deck. The deck has fair matchups against the field, definitely against Faeries and BlightningB/R. It also wins against Kithkin Aggro. It also doesn’t too bad in the “bad matchups” thanks to Aura of Silence against Cascade Swans.

No swans were seen near the top 8 slots, but Kithkin aggro made a mighty appearance at the event. The Doran deck Alves defeated to win the GP looked awfully familiar to the winning GP Seattle build, and might be worth watching. Knotvine Paladin FTW.  

One thing I would like to know; why two Unmake? I see the two Path to Exile in the SB, but why not put them in main and SB the Unmake? Maybe there’s something I’m just not seeing.

The above quote and more information on Grand Prix Sao Paulo, including top 8 decklist, can be found at the official Magic event coverage  for GP Sao Paulo here.

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