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Posts Tagged ‘Lightning Bolt’

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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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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It looks as though the printing of Cemetery Reaper in the upcoming M10 core set has got some people thinking a Zombie deck might, uh, rise in the standard ranks. Some of these ideas can be found at the Starcity Games forums here. I have been thinking about Zombies for a while too, and when I saw the Reaper I also started to think of the synergy between the new “lord” and the the rest of the shambling masses.

However, making a viable rouge deck is pretty tough. I don’t like to play something that has no chance of winning. So, when I sat down and put my Zombie ideas to paper, it became clear, as it always does with sudden ideas, that making a viable zombie deck isn’t as easy as it might seem.

Does this mean it is impossible, though? Maybe.

First, zombies won’t win a battle with any of the other creatures decks in the meta; at least not in a stand-up-fight. Zombies would have to be sneaky, or find a way to deal with monsters bigger than they are.

Second, removal is everwhere. Zombies will bite it to almost every sweeper unless there is something powering them up, and very few of them can survive  spot removal or burn. Zombies would have to be able to weather the storm somehow, or more likely, quickly re-populate the board after a wipe.

Third, the actually good zombies are in every frickin’ color, meaning if I threw them all in, it would be a 5C zombie deck. Not going to happen. I had to look at the spells and zombies in each color and decide which best complimented each other.

Zombies do have a few things going for them.  Surpisingly, there are quite a few good zombie cards out there. Secondly, if constructed  and played right, a Zombie deck can be quite resilient. The zombie “lords” also play very well together. Finally, some very nice spells are avaliable for all zombie color choices.   

So I looked at the zombies and looked at the different combinations. I also had to figure out how zombies could win in this unstable meta. I assumed Mono-White, Mono-Red, Jund, 5CB, Elves, Faeries and Fog decks will be popular.

Here are some preliminary ideas I came up with:

Jund Zombies by Colin Merry

Creatures
4 Grixis Grimblade
4 Putrid Leech
4 Death Baron
4 Cemetery Reaper
4 Shambling Corpse
4 Chameleon Colossus

Spells
3 Maelstrom Pulse
4 Blightning
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Thoughtseize

Land (tentative)
4 Savage Land
4 Reflecting Pool
2 Graven Carins
2 Twilight Mire
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Swamp
2 Mountain
2 Forest

Sideboard (tentative)
2 Thoughtseize
3 Thought Hemorrhage
3 Stillmoon Cavalier
2 Banefire
1 Maelstrom Pulse
4 More things

The straight-forward Zombie beatdown deck. I had to cheat and put Chameleon Colossus in there, but the deck runs green and he is amazing.  The removal, Lightning Bolt especially, helps with the early threats or the creatures that will be a problem later (ie. Figure of Destiny, other “lords”) and should buy the deck some time to establish itself. Thoughtseize and Malestrom pulse will have to deal with power-boosting enchantments and planeswalkers. The direct damage aspect of Blightning and L-Bolt should help deal with the last few points of damage, should the board stagnate.

I didn’t like Death Baron at first, but he’s the only real way Zombies will be able to deal with the more powerful creatures out there aside from the removal. He might also be good at ending stalemates, as you can continually send in a guy with deathtouch to eliminate a blocker, then make the dead critter rise from the grave for you with the Reaper.

The Jund Zombies could use some fine tuning, but I barely put that one down before another idea, one I was a bit more excited about, came to mind.

Esper Zombies by Colin Merry

Creatures
4 Tidehollow Sculler
4 Grixis Grimblade*
4 Death Baron
4 Lich Lord of Unx
4 Cemetery Reaper

Spells
4 Thoughtseize
4 Ajani Goldmane
2 Esper Charm
2 Path to Exile
3 Agony Warp
1 Sleep

Land (tentative)
4 Arcane Sanctum
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Fetid Heath
2 Sunken Ruins
2 Swamp
2 Plains
3 Islands

Sideboard
1 Esper Charm
3 Deathmark
1 Path to Exile
2 Reveillark
2 Necromancer’s Covenant
3 Stillmoon Cavalier
3 Zombie Outlander

Esper Zombies operate a bit differently than Jund Zombies. Esper Zombies are all about stealing the opponents early game thunder and then setting up a situation where they can win without attacking. They can also power up much like a token deck, but with the right conditions, you can field and entire army without even playing another card.

Lich Lord of Unx is the centerpiece of this deck. He can make guys without restrictions, for less than the Reaper, and his second ability does quite a bit. It robs the opponent of resources, it makes them lose life in the process and it also feeds Cemetery Reaper. 

Two “lords” and Ajani help give this deck the same advantages of a Mono-White/Token deck, albiet a little slower. The hand disruption and removal is again key to letting Zombies get set up. Esper Charm is there mostly to deal with any power-boosting enchantments that slip through and can provide (dis)card advantage. Sleep is just kinda neat.

VedalkenGhoul

The other Pudrid Leech?

Again, these are just preliminary ideas. I can see lots of other ways Zombies can be built using these colors or other combinations. However, I feel it is not a good idea to try for more than three colors. I’m not even sure how these mana-base options will work.

*A quick note about Grixis Grimblade. I don’t know how much I like this guy, especially since deathtouch isn’t such a great abilty for him. A 3/2 should kill most things his size, and Death Baron helps by giving everybody deathtouch. I don’t wonder if there is a better option, but I’m not sure what. Zombie Outlander could be good if green decks are popular; Elves, Doran, 4/5CB and such. I also think about the Vedalken Ghoul sometimes. A 1/1 for UB sounds like total crap, but his ability is interesting. He might just be able to creep in there and do enough pinpricks to make him worthwhile if the opponent doesn’t want to lose four life on turn 3 or 4.  Like Putrid Leech, people may not want to block him. If he is killed by removal, the opponent had to use a removal on a stupid 1/1 instead of one of your lords. If he gets enough boosts, or deathtouch, he might even be able to kill a blocker and make the opponent lose life.

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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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