Thursday, October 30, 2014

Greed is Good

The cards I put into Oloro were: Reduce to Dreams, Words of Worship, Allay, Elixir of Immortality, Pontiff of Blight and Dimir Doppelganger. I like these choices and I found in my game last night that Reduce was very good and Pontiff probably would have been good if if I had decided to play it. However, the Ebola Pope was in my hand too early and I didn't want to play it. A bomb that shows up too early makes you a target. Allay did some incredible work though and I feel like it's time to start running cards with Buyback in every Commander deck ever.

So here we have a five player game.

That's early in the game. It would go for over two and a half hours. In that lighting.

Two and a half hour games deserve better and by the time there were only three of us, I had ceased to give a fuck. Two players were rubberbanding between 26 and 65 life and I was refusing to die like a horror movie villain via Sun Droplet and Oloro triggers. I was being (understandably) ignored as I had no board presence to speak of until I drop a Heavy-Nevy Disk and suddenly I'm a target. Which doesn't make a lick of sense because as soon as I'm a target yes, I'm going to blow everything up. But until then, just keep fighting amongst yourselves!

That didn't happen and even post board wipe, I was successfully ignored.

And that's when plan B hit me.

I've may have mentioned before but if not: Noah and I have decided that Phage the Untouchable is an excellent commander because sometimes, you just need a way to get out of the game. If something has gone for 3 hours, you can just cast Phage from the command zone and lose! We called it "Phaging out," a riff on fading out. All Commander decks need something like this I think; an emergency escape hatch.

Greed was going to be my way out. I'd already eaten chunks of my life to draw nine cards before I cast Reduce to Dreams and now, I had a way out.

So that's what I did: at 18 life I drew another nine cards and settled my tab. The other two players duked it out for another twenty minutes and I relaxed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Card Insurance

I saw this lengthy article on insuring Magic cards and thought: Yeah, I should share that.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Let's Be A Dick With Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

I think a return to Commander is long overdue, no? And since Oloro is really ONLY useful in Commander, let's bust him out.

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

1 Arcane Sanctum
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Azorius Guildgate
1 Barren Moor
1 Command Tower
1 Dimir Guildgate
1 Esper Panorama
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Jwar Isle Refuge
1 Lonely Sandbar
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Orzhov Guildgate
1 Rupture Spire
1 Springjack Pasture
1 Temple of the False God
1 Transguild Promenade
1 Opal Palace
9 Plains
6 Island
9 Swamp
1 Disciple of Griselbrand
1 Tidehollow Strix
1 Ajani's Pridemate
1 Vizkopa Guildmage
1 Azorius Herald
1 Raven Familiar
1 Stormscape Battlemage
1 Augury Adept
1 Wall of Reverence
1 Tower Gargoyle
1 Razor Hippogriff
1 Phyrexian Delver
1 Divinity of Pride
1 Diviner Spirit
1 Hooded Horror
1 Sharding Sphinx
1 Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon"
1 Tidal Force
1 Phyrexian Gargantua
1 Sharuum the Hegemon
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Serra Avatar
1 Filigree Angel
1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
1 Harvester of Souls
1 Inkwell Leviathan
1 Phyrexian Reclamation
1 Cradle of Vitality
1 Greed
1 Sanguine Bond
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Darksteel Mutation
1 Act of Authority
1 Dromar's Charm
1 Reckless Spite
1 Spinal Embrace
1 Lim-Dûl's Vault
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Order of Succession
1 Tempt with Immortality
1 Unburial Rites
1 Covenant of Minds
1 Deep Analysis
1 Flux
1 Brilliant Plan
1 Famine
1 Death Grasp
1 Survival Cache

1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Sol Ring
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Sun Droplet
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Thopter Foundry
1 Crawlspace
1 Obelisk of Esper
1 Pristine Talisman
1 Well of Lost Dreams

The awesome thing about Oloro is that you don't have to cast him: it's also why he's terrible. Encouraging play that isn't interactive is unwise. However, let's set that aside and start to make some more changes.

Since I don't plan on casting Oloro that often, a card like Opal Palace is overkill. Diviner Spirit is a creature that I'm not breaking and has no evasion, so that should go. Myr Battlesphere doesn't have any other myr to play with and that should go. Tempt with Immortality is just a political card and I don't think Oloro wants to play politics. Act of Authority is similar in that respect but unless I significantly increase my artifact or enchantment count I think the impact on my deck will be limited. Along those lines, Thopter Foundry wants artifacts and this deck doesn't have a ton, so that should be evaluated.

I've already made a few adaptations: Flux, Covenant of Minds, Harvester of Souls, Inkwell Leviathan, Unburial Rites and Oblivion Ring. Now it's time to make some more improvements.

I checked out the EDH area on Reddit for some ideas: Words of Worship seemed to be the most common suggestion and that card can create a pretty powerful loop. Pontiff of Blight has shown in my League games to be a huge problem for opponents. And I'm thinking Elixir of Immortality should find its way in. I would also like some more sweeper effects, especially along the artifact and enchantment path. At least two people are running Zur and it's best to be prepared.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


If the title doesn't tell you enough, lets take a look at my final round:
I have a Swamp that is valiantly confronting and being run over by a Sedge Scorpion and an Akroan Skyguard. The Skyguard was eventually enchanted with a Divine Favor, so in the Swamp's defense, it really wasn't going to stain that creature anyway.

But c'mon, Swamp. Couldn't you have drowned the scorpion at least?

I had mulliganed down to six cards and was confronting a hand with a Swamp and 4 other cards that cost two mana, one black and three red, and one other card that cost three mana.

So I thought: All I need to do is draw one land and I can have board presence and that should give me enough time to get to three. Even if I draw a Swamp, the Child of Night gives me some time! And going down to five cards is such a bad idea; it's so difficult to recover from that.

I knew it would also be difficult to recover from not drawing another land but I figured my odds were good. They weren't.

I want to say the cards were against me but that would only have half the story. It certainly didn't help that of my seven packs, my rares were Overgrown Tomb, Temples of Abandon and Epiphany, Phytotitan, Cracking Doom, Whims of the Fates and Pontiff of Blight. That is some bad beats.

I think I also went awry when I moved away from the cards that were working for me: the ones with Extort triggers. Last week's trip to the realm of R/G was ill advised. I don't know if I could have made W/G/B work, or if I should've stuck with as many control elements as possible but I definitely let my lesser deckbuilding nature get the better of me.

On the upside, League is finally over. I can take my crushing defeats and move on to a new deck!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Know When To Quit

I took Burner up against a nasty little BUG deck Noah has brewed, using Chasm Stalker and...lost. I don't even think the games were close. Now, that was one matchup and I think playing a series against that deck would be quite interesting but the biggest issue I had was an inability to easily get rid of Deathrite Shaman.

What can I say? Good card is good. I also saw a Jace, the Mind Sculptor in game two so I am pretty sure I don't need to tell you how that worked out. Noah, like stonethorn, liked the deck but seeing that it didn't have any ways to deal with planeswalkers, suggested a Council's Judgment. I thought the card might be versatile enough to swap one in for a Rune of Protection: Red so I did. I found Council's Judgment to be pretty helpful against undying creatures, too so I think that card as a one-of is useful.

I also played the deck again last Sunday in some pickup games and found myself on the losing end. And again, I got some suggestions about making Burner a better deck, this time centering around Personal Sanctuary. I found myself quite interested in this idea in the moment. A card that would allow me to do whatever I want on my turn? Why shouldn't I play that? It seems perfect!

This morning I realized why it wasn't perfect. Sphere of Law.

Sphere of Law already does exactly what I want Personal Sanctuary to do and it has the additional bonus of stabbing at the heart of any red deck I play against. Personal Sanctuary doesn't do that. And in my recent losses: the problem was that I didn't see either a Rune or a Sphere.

It's not that the suggestions were unwelcome: ideas are what spawn awesome things. Changes, mixups, general cool madness! I really like Personal Sanctuary and want to add it to something but! That card doesn't provide me with an edge in any matchup I can think of. Sphere of Law and Rune of Protection: Red, do. If I want this to be the best deck I can make, I need to play the most optimal cards. Burner is a solid deck that I believe gives me an opportunity in most of my matchups and I think I've taken it as far as I can. That suits me just fine.

Except for one little thing: Battlefield Forge should become Wind-Scarred Crag. Why? Because Wind-Scarred Crag exists now and it didn't when I first assembled Burner.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Ugh. I did not play my best games on Sunday and some of that had to do with just being in a bad brainspace.

I decided to go with the R/G/b route, hoping for a speedy deck with some nice tricks, leading into a midgame with 4/3s and...none of that really happened. It started in the second match, where, as you might be able to see in the picture, my opponent had a Garruk, Caller of Beasts and a Chandra, Pyromaster on the table. That was game 2. Game one: Chandra appeared.

I never had a chance. As soon as the planeswalker(s) arrived, the game tilted inevitably in favor of my opponent and that was just incredibly demoralizing. There wasn't a single out for me and what feels worse is that I don't think I could've built a deck that could have given me a chance.

It's not just being outmatched, it's knowing that failure is inevitable, that I may as well not even shown up to the game. Under normal circumstances, I could have taken a short walk to shake it off but if I'm being honest, the weekend was subject to a preponderance of gloominess. I probably couldn't have brought my a-game under the best of circumstances so it wasn't surprising that most of my games were a struggle to play, much less win.

Let's move on to the final pack. Khans list:
Awaken the Bear

Mardu Skullhunter

Firehoof Cavalry

Tormenting Voice

Glacial Stalker
Embodiment of Spring
Stubborn Denial
Quiet Contemplation

Abzan Banner

Nomad Outpost
Dismal Backwater

Efreet Weaponmaster
Crackling Doom
That isn't really bringing anything to the table that I like. A lot of blue, red cards I don't need, one white, one black, one green? Yeesh. The rare is something that might be worth splashing in a R/B deck (which is where I think I'm going next) but for the most part? I'm not very hopeful about my chances. Maybe an evening or two of sleep and a big picture look at this deck and maybe I'll see things differently.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Sigh. This is not the record that I was hoping for. In the pictured matchup, I had 13 of my 15 lands in play and in hand. All of the fuel, nothing to power it with.

So now we're looking at a new conundrum. While I noted last week that the opening hand evaluation has changed, what I didn't take into consideration was the overall deck evaluation. The games I lost often had to do with finding myself mana flooded. It's time to start looking at the overall curve of the deck so that I can put in more effective cards and cut some lands where possible.

Let's see the M15 pack.
Razorfoot Griffin 
Welkini Tern
Amphin Pathmage 
Circle of Flame
Lightning Strike 
Feast on the Fallen
Covenant of Blood
Carrion Crow 
Gather Courage
Elvish Mystic
Hunt the Weak
Hunter's Ambush
So, that's interesting. Circle of Flame and Feast on the Fallen have some interesting board impact, and the green stuff is very cool. I may be able to redirect this deck into a B/G/r deck, using as much removal as red will provide.

But. I've been thinking. What is black really bringing to the table? Would it be better to just hammer away with G/R? There's a lot of burn and acceleration and that is a tried and true method for winning. Plus, it would be a real shakeup from previous weeks, which means that my opponents might not expect some cards in the first round.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Voice of Broken Glass

I played a few games against Fuz, who was piloting a U/R storm deck. Essentially: he wanted to cast cheap spells and then beating down with Storm Entity. I wanted to make him take two damage every time he did that and I wanted to protect myself from red damage with Rune of Protection: Red.

So that matchup didn't teach me a whole lot.

The more interesting match came against Matt, running a Stasis deck.
Stasis. Possibly one of the biggest pain in the butt cards in Magic. Matt wanted to test his deck but was reluctant to do so, because Stasis is such a grindy card. However, Burner is a Jason deck (Handle any weird shit comes your way) so I wasn't too concerned: I actually thought this would be a great test.

And it was! The games were slow and needed a lot of thought but I did pull them out. Wear/Tear did precisely what I expected it to do and the perpetual trigger of Assemble the Legion helped keep the pressure on.

However, Glacial Chasm presented me with a serious issue and I am certain I won the final game because Matt made an error with his Glacial Chasm upkeep trigger, allowing me to take out the Crucible of Worlds and leaving him with not enough land to establish his board presence.

So I'm left with a question: Is Rolling Thunder good enough for this deck? I like the versatility of Thunder but a card that could be played as an instant or provide me with unpreventable damage might be a stronger decision. So I'm putting in one Banefire as a potential win condition. I should be able to suss out if I need to hold on to Banefire or not if I draw it early depending on the matchup and having a practically uncounterable source of damage when required is not bad. I don't suspect I will need it often: Glacial Chasm and Solitary Confinement are the only cards I can think of right now that might be a problem, but I don't see any reason to cut that tool from the toolbox.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Not a bad showing at league again; being able to go to three colors was critical in my consistency. Things have evolved on the evaluation of the opening hand, though. The shift has gone from about having mana (any mana) to; what is your gameplan in the game? Do I have turn 2 or 3 plays?

These choices became a lot more interesting, because I can't count on my opponents having slower starts, anymore. Decks have become more refined and better at setting the pace of a game, including the pictured game which was against an opponent who had tweaked her deck to go aggro. I lost the match in a critical decision in game two, when she swung with the whole team and I decided I had to block in case she had a trick.

She didn't and it left me unable to recover. I don't think she had a trick, either. Kudos.

Still, the rest of the time I did well; plenty of removal, mana was almost never a problem and I was able to pull out some convincing wins. Next pack!

Journey Into Nyx 
Returned Reveler
Cruel Feeding 
Pull from the Deep
Sigiled Starfish
Moral Obstinacy
Harvestguard Alseids 
Golden Hind
Strength from the Fallen
Desecration Plague 
Mogis's Warhound
Bladetusk Boar
Magma Spray 
Temple of Epiphany
You have got to be kidding. My rare again is completely useless. Temple of Epiphany? Damnit.

Mogis's Warhound might be a solid early play with a pretty big upside in the later game. Magma Spray is worth including too. The black doesn't add anything but Desecration Plague might be a solid sideboard card. Golden Hind has some potential too: Mana ramp doesn't suck. Still, I don't see much to help and GOD does that rare suck.

I am grumpy about that rare.