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Posts Tagged ‘Standard’

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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Mirrodin is no stranger to planeswalkers. After all, the artificial plane was originally made by one. Now, three more planeswalkers will be visiting the metallic world. What will their impact be on Mirrodin and Standard?

While two of the new planeswalkers are familiar, there is one fresh face; Koth of the Hammer. Koth looks like a local boy, a member of the Vulshok tribe, to be exact. Mountain barbarians, known for their metalworking skills as well as the fiery magic they use in battle.

Lets see what homeboy brings to the table.

+1 Loyalty: Untap target Mountain. It becomes a 4/4 red Elemental creature until end of turn. It’s still a land.
What does this do? Untaps a mountain and makes it a 4/4 hasty monster as well as a land. The body on these elemental lands makes them pretty relevant; able to take down blockers and tangle with all but the biggest critters. Don’t forget, they still tap for R.

-2 Loyalty: Add R to your mana pool for each Mountain you control.
What does this do? essentially doubles the amount of Red mana you can produce. Having access to powerful spells and creatures earlier than usual is a pretty tried and true path to victory. This second ability can also make up for any elemental land monsters lost in combat by making remaining mountains do double duty. It can also help with mana screw.

-5 Loyalty: You get an emblem with “Mountains you control have T: This land deals 1 damage to target creature or player.'”
What does this do? Gives you the ability to pay 1 R to deal one damage to target creature or player for the rest of the game. The effect persists even if Koth bites it. Mountains played after the ability is triggered can still deal damage. These killer mountains can do a lot of things like clear the board, sneak in a few extra points of damage each turn or deliver the final, fiery blow. I would call this a pretty fair victory clock. No opponent can stand for long with this kind of firepower trained on them.

Koth is my favorite planeswalker of the set. I like it when I know exactly what a card does, and Koth doesn’t put on any airs. Koth is a powerful tool for aggressive decks. He helps you to put the pressure and keeps you from running out of gas, something that has always plagued aggressive players. Koth does this masterfully, by giving Mountains extra utility. With him in play, lands can be monsters,  produce extra mana and burn your opponent’s world down around him. Running out of burn spells or relevant monsters isn’t so much a problem. Drawing too few lands isn’t so much of a problem. A land glut turns into a boon.

I’m not going to speculate on whether or not Koth will make mono red a sustainable archtype or not. I will say Koth addresses  some of the failings of mono red and other agressive decks, but doesn’t keep other decks from evolving to stymie red’s tactics as they usually do.

Koth will make playing red a lot of fun. Imagine combining him with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle? There are plenty of fun, aggressive red creatures out there too, not to mention some fun new ones, like Galvanic Blast.

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A few trends in Magic that are starting to look like they will take competitive player’s wallets by the balls. 

Admittedly, it has been a while since I’ve been into Magic. Distance from the “local” scene is the main reason for this, but fiscal responsibility is also a part of it. However, there is no way I could keep my eyes from wandering over to the usual sites. I’m not sure I like what I’ve been seeing.

The first thing I noticed was that the cards were hot; really hot. The second thing I noticed was Starcity Games was already open for the pre-sale of singles as they spoiled instead of waiting until after the pre-release event.  

Hot cards with the official price speculation wagon already in full swing? I call that sweet and sour.

When players see new cards, they often see them through rose-colored glasses. It is easy to see how a new high-powered creature or spell will be kick-ass in a vacuum. Prices go up because people expect a card to do great things. Just look at Sarkhan Vol. He was selling for nearly $30 before Shards was even released. It didn’t matter that there were zero competitive decks capable of playing him, or with any reason to, all that mattered was that he had a lot of potential and people went really, really nuts over him. So, the price went up, up, up.

Prices never goes down during the pre-sale period either; they only go up, driven by consumer demand which is, in turn, driven by speculation. During pre-sale, all there is is speculation. 

Add actually good cards to this mix. The enemy fetch lands of Zendikar are a good example of this. Few of them ever had the chance to sit in the $15 range; people knew they would be good and gobbled them up. The more cards pre-ordered, the higher the price went. Supply and demand. 

Don’t forget, people will buy up a good-looking card if the price starts to skyrocket. No sense in being left in the dark. You wouldn’t want to miss out on another Baneslayer Angel.  

That damn thing was over $20 when it first hit pre-sale, and that was after the pre-release. Now it is damn near $60 (if you can find em’). Imagine if it was pre-sold the moment it was spoiled.

Which brings me to the other disturbing trend I see; mythic rares slowly becoming  tournament staples. Maybe Baneslayer Angel was a fluke, but I’ve seen some other Mythics start creeping into the everyday tournament scene. Lotus Cobra, is one of them. However, it is this new crop that really worries me.

If you haven’t already, meet Admonition Angel, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Abyssal Persecutor and Dragonmaster Outcast.

Yes, I might be looking at these new mythics through the same rose colored glasses I mentioned earlier, but almost all of them have quite a bit of potential, and in decks already seeing play.

Ad-Angel is something like Parallax Wave, which I recall saw quite a bit of play during its day. While it can’t just exile permanents willy-nilly as the wave, the wave also didn’t have a 6/6 flying body. The wave would also go away on its own eventually; the Angel won’t. 

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is probably the most powerful thing in blue since Cryptic Command. He is Unsummon and Brainstorm on a stick, with a little scry 1 on the side you can use against your opponent too, if you so desire. I don’t even know what to call his last ability; a complete hosing? He’ll see play. Lots of it.

Abyssal Persecutor is stupid. Abyssal Persecutor made me write this post. I will devote a lot of time for him later. He might be better than Juzam Djinn, one of most famous black beatsticks of all time. If you think the persecutor’s “drawback” isn’t worth his power, you’re doing it wrong.

Dragonmaster Outcast might be a bit too conditional, but well see. The ability to create a 5/5 flying dragon token every turn is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a 1/1. He has to be answered, and for his cost, drawing removal isn’t too bad. If he lives past 6 lands, however, he’ll be devastating.

Again, for all I know, these cards might sit in your binder and gather dust. However, at the current, prices, they’ll gather dust to the tun of…..

$19.99 Abyssal Persecutor
$12.49 Admonition Angel
$24.99 Jace, The Mind Sculptor
$7.49 Dragonmaster Outcast

$259.84  for a playset of each, without shipping.

That is just 4 cards out of the entire set. I’m guessing the prices will get higher too, before Worldwake is released.

Pre-pre-sales + speculation + actually good mythics (and rares) = empty wallet.

Okay, okay. Not everybody is going to buy these cards, and not everybody who does will  buy a whole playset. Not everybody is going to pay these prices. However, the price of cards seems to be going up substantially with the power level, or at least with the perceived power level.

Is this evidence that mythic rares are slowly moving from the flavor of cool to the taste of defeat, pushing the envelop for becoming tournament staples? Is Baneslayer Angel and $50 per card for a core deck component soon to be the norm? Maybe, maybe not. One thing is for certain though, the more pressing question is whether to pay $19 or more a pop for a card that hasn’t even seen play yet.   

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

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

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

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

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

The other decks break down like so:

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

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

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

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

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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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The other day I looked at some of the rare and mythic cards in Zendikar I thought will be deck building staples, or at least have potential. Now, I would like to mention a few of the commons and uncommons I think have a good chance of showing up in some sort of standard deck.

White

Brave the Elements
Brave the Elements might take the place of Burrenton Forge Tender in white weenie sideboards, but it isn’t nearly as good. It doesn’t have a body and it won’t save you from a lightning bolt aimed at your head.

Journey to Nowhere
A creature only Oblivion Ring, Journey to Nowhere might make an appearance in decks needing a little more removal without running black or red.

Kazandu Blademaster
Allies might not be all that great yet, but the blademaster is a superstar on his own. He takes the place of Knight of Meadowgrain, trading lifelink for vigilance. Also, the more blademasters you play, the bigger they get, which is a nice bonus. Finally, he is a soldier, so he gets a bonus from Captain of the Watch. Look for him in soldier decks.

Blue

Spell Pierce
Spell Pierce will find a home wherever there is blue on blue action, should true control ever return to standard.

Into the Roil
Into the Roil will be useful for bouncing anything with counters about to pop and nets you a card in the meantime. I can also save your own bombs from destruction, with the same bonus.

Trapmakers Snare
It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but someday there will be a wicked trap deck. Trapmakers Snare will work as extra copies of whatever trap you want it to be, giving you the option of grabbing whatever you want just as its requirements are being met. See Mystical Teachings.

QuestfortheGravelord

Is there a horse in there?

Disfigure
Elegant removal and combat trick for the mono-black player. 

Gatekeeper of Malakir
I’m not so sure about this guy. He isn’t Shriekmaw, and it is likely games will involve many creatures. It gets around shroud, which is a plus, but I don’t think he is as good as everybody says he is.

Vampire Hexmage
The hexmage will be the bane of planeswalkers everywhere. The first strike is just icing on the cake.

Quest for the Gravelord
The casting cost is right and netting yourself a 5/5 after a Day of Judgment (or keeping him on tap waiting for one) seems okay. Three critters in the graveyard isn’t hard to achieve and it might cause the opponent to do funny things like not kill your guys if they can’t handle a big zombie dude.  Don’t forget, you can pop him in whenever you want, like at the end of your opponents turn.

Vampire Nighthawk
A 2/3 flier with lifelink and deathtouch. At the very least, he kills practically everything and gives you two life in the process, which isn’t bad.

Red

Burst Lightning
Burst Lightning is what I consider a good example of the kicker mechanic. For one mana, you get Shock. Pay five mana, and you get Flame Javelin. It seems a bit overcosted, but the value comes from having the option to do either in one card.  

Goblin Ruinblaster
A 2/1 with haste who blows up a non-basic when it comes into play seems pretty good, especially in a set where non-basic lands do a whole lot more than just make pretty mana. The ruinblaster cascades off Bloodbraid Elf nicely, and yes, you can pay kicker from cascade.

 Goblin Bushwacker
Not so sure about this guy either, but his ability to give all creatures haste and +1 might prove useful. In the future, I see red being a lot of little guys again, and he has a good chance of beefing them up for the final strike.

Plated Geopede
I like this guy a lot more than I like the hyped Steppe Lynx. The bug has at least one point of power to chip away at the enemy with if I can’t trigger landfall, and first strike is huge.

Unstable Footing
If some sort of fog deck becomes popular, Unstable Footing might see some action. Paying one R to make damage unable to be prevented for a turn is nice, but having that option and 5 to the face for R4 is better.

Zetkar Shrine Expedition
This might be nice for the same reasons Quest for the Gravelord might be nice. Having a Ball Lightning on tap and ready to go at a moments notice seems like it might take some playing around.

RiverBoaGreen

Mold Shambler
Expensive, but green’s only real answer to a planeswalker.

River Boa
River Boa is back to pester people who like to play islands. A 2/1 for 1G with regenerate is pretty cool, but the islandwalk makes him even more of a dick for control decks. Wrath of God Day of Judgment won’t even kill him.

Vines of Vastwood
Vines of Vastwood remind me a bit of Stonewood Invocation, without the split-second. Might be useful, but even the latter didn’t see all that much play.

Artifact

Khalni Gem
Things that make more than one mana, especially colored mana, always seem to find a home. Khalni Gem’s drawback might help with the landfall triggers.

Overall, Zendikar is full of powerful cards waiting to find a home. It will be interesting to see which of these find a home and which ones end up being left out of competitive play.

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