Thursday, December 22, 2016


I recently watched this documentary on the making of the new Doom game, and I found it to be pretty interesting.

A great deal of the doc focuses on things that seemed to come really, really late in the development process and most of them have to do with how the game feels.

I find this interesting, especially since a great deal of Magic design now seems to be about trying to get that "feel" and trying to get the mechanics to mesh. I've often been against this, but as I learn more about designing games, I have come to understand that it's a goal worth striving for.

I still think mechanics should override things like flavor, push comes to shove, but more often than not the two can merge well and it is definitely worth making the effort.

Having played Doom, I can certainly attest to that. The developers knew they wanted you to be in a perpetual motion, get-in-there and blow shit up mindset and they had good mechanics to justify their game. Once they figured out why that should be the case-the justification for it-everything else just locked into place. It took a lot of effort but it totally shows: Doom is one of the better games I played this year and part of that reasoning is that everything in the game supports the notion that you're there to kick demon ass and chew gum and you are all outta gum.

But Magic is trickier. I know that people were nerdily giddy this year when, at Pro-Tour Eldritch Moon you had Tamiyo and Emrakul facing off in the finals and WotC had to consider that a pretty cool thing.

However, is it a good thing? I'm not certain that engineering cards that are so deliberately good that we see storyline conflicts play out in real life is a positive. The situation that 2016 has left us with looks to be a Standard that people aren't very happy with.

That said, I have to admit that the attempt to merge these things does matter and when it pays off, as it did in Doom, you get something really special.

I don't know how much gaming I'll get in over the holidays, so this will probably be the last post until Jan 3. But by then, Aether Revolt previews will start AND I should have some good games in with Ironhide, so there will be things to report.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Overburden

Of the suggestions Matt proposed to me, Overburden was the one that I liked the most. As a bonus, I happened to own three copies which meant testing it wouldn't require a large outlay of money. And my money > less of my money.

Playing against Lauriel, though, the problem became pretty clear: This is a Humility deck and everything that isn't Humility and Orim's Prayer probably doesn't have the impact on the game that I want it to.

On the other hand, when I had Overburden out on turn 2, I got the reaction that you always want when you play a card that someone isn't familiar with: Oh, no.

And whenever that reaction comes up, that's a Good Thing. I want to play decks that do that, because I'm usually operating a little off the beaten path.

So I'll keep testing it but that card is on a short leash.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Good News, Everybody: Soldiers Are Still Soldiers

Under Humility, that is. I asked a buddy of mine in Arizona who's a Level 2 (3? sorry if I'm getting that wrong) judge and he told me that Humility doesn't effect creature type.

That means Gempalm Avenger: Your role is secure.

I got in a few rounds of multiplayer Magic with Matt and Caitlin a couple nights ago and while I found myself in charge of both matches, I wasn't exactly in control of them. Pushing a win condition wasn't easy and I had to sacrifice a bit too much in the early game in one case.

So it's possible that other cuts should be identified and made. Matt has already suggested that Aether Storm should be replaced and that's not a terrible notion. Of his suggestions for a replacement, Overburden seems like the potential toughest to deal with. Land drops are one of the ways Magic paces itself and messing with that seems really good.

Kusari-Gama also looks really interesting, too. However, I am dubious of the overall costs vs what Gempalm Avenger does for me. That just feels like a more efficient use of mana vs the equipment--except in multiplayer situations. However, even that seems excessive, since I can generate as many tokens as I like. Just run 'em at them, you know?

Still, I've got some options to explore and this deck is making a case for doing so.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


How 'bout something more old school?
4 AEther Storm
4 Humility
4 Orim's Prayer
2 Seal of Cleansing
2 Mobilization
4 Compulsion

2 Martial Coup

2 Gempalm Avenger

2 Condescend
3 Truth or Tale
3 Circular Logic
3 Miscalculation
1 Dismantling Blow

8 Plains
8 Island
1 Coastal Tower
1 Kjeldoran Outpost
1 Adarkar Wastes
4 Flooded Strand
1 Daru Encampment
The plan: stall out any creature based strategies with Aether Storm, Humility and Orim's Prayer, while generating as many 1/1 soldier tokens as possible, via Mobilization, Kjeldoran Outpost and Martial Coup. Then use Gempalm Avenger to pump the soldiers and win.

There is, at the moment, one small hole here. When I built Ironhide (named for the Transformer) I'm pretty sure that rulings on creature type weren't necessarily part of Humility's concern.

So the first order of business is going to be to ask some judges about how Humility affects creature type. If there is no impact, Gempalm Avenger still makes sense. The timestamp of Gempalm's ability will not be overwritten by Humility so until end of turn, I'll be set. If there is, then it'll be time to look into other spells.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Snow Day

Sorry: it snowed in Portland today and that meant that nobody really did anything.

Including me: I didn't strive for Magic. I strived to play XCOM 2.

I can't say that I'm sorry. Snow days in Portland are rare but when the come around, I'm going to take advantage.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Too delicately balanced for comfort

So I've hit a roadblock.

Noah put it well, "They do a lot for enablers (for Madness) but they don't do much with Madness."

Bingo. There's a pretty narrow list of cards to use that are worthwhile and I'm using them. Except for lands, which I've changed for the better, no question about that.

But even when I look at cost appropriate enablers, I don't really see something worth swapping out. On the one side, that's good: this deck has set up a performance standard and is meeting it.

I played a few games against Noah and played well, winning a matchup against an Aetherworks deck, losing one against a Modern Blue control deck. Asking Noah after the match if he saw something that I had played incorrectly, he assured me that, given the information on the table, he thought I'd done alright.

On the other hand, it means that there isn't much room for me to innovate. There aren't really kinks in the armor to smooth out.  There are a couple questionmarks, to be sure: Reckless Wurm I'm not sure of but cutting red seems extremely unwise, because Fiery Temper is such a good card.

I may just have to give this deck a rest (from the blog, at least). Other cards will come along-other ideas will be presented. I'll keep this deck in my "to play" rotation so the visibility stays high.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Doomtown: Reloaded, Requiem

The Doomtown LCG is ending soon; word is the last expansion for the game will be released in October and as of this writing, there is no plan for it to be picked up by another publisher.

That's unfortunate, because this is a hell of a game. Yes, the learning curve was quite high, but once it leveled out, the rest of the game came pretty easily. It had an interesting blend of the familiar and the new and few games I've played have as successfully evoked the atmosphere they were going for.

Multiplayer games especially felt like the high noon shootouts of old west movies. They were tense with a lot of buildup and then bangbangbang! Did you guess right about the time to pick your battle? If you did, that felt pretty sweet. If not, it became pretty clear where the stumble was-usually picking a fight you didn't need to.

However, the game had some issues and I'd like to talk a little bit about I think went wrong.

First; playtesting. In the first year of the game, especially in the last half of 2015 and into very early 2016, expansions were arriving every month. That is a lot of product to sift through.

And it lead to some cards that felt awkward or weird or nonsensical. Which leads me to the next point.

Second: unruffled feathers. I remember there was an early expansion that gave Dudes (the characters in the game) keywords of "Confederate" and "Union". The significance of this? They couldn't be on the same team at the same time.

That's it.

Since there was no reason to use them cooperatively, nor a reason to use them to counter each other, then perhaps they were just powerful? No. And if there's one thing Doomtown isn't lacking for it's Dudes to play. So the impact on the game that made players have to take into consideration those keywords was nothing.

So many features of the game, ostensibly new mechanics that were introduced, just didn't matter. Didn't change the status quo, and didn't reach back to make an old card interesting, nor pay off in a near future set. 

That is not a good thing for a new mechanic and it's the kind of problem that many Doomtown expansions had. But when they did we got...

Third: confounding expectations. For certain kinds of mechanics in Doomtown, the player would perform a Pull to see if they succeeded. To Pull, the player would simply announce the ability they were activating (say, the creation of a gadget) and then reveal the top card of their deck. If the value was greater than or equal to the number required for the Pull, the activation was a success. Certain modifiers would come into play at that point: a Dude could have a Mad Scientist value of 3, which would be added to the value of the card-so if I needed to hit a 7 with a Mad Scientist value of 3 and drew a 5 or greater, I'd succeed.

This all got turned upside down with the introduction of the Kung Fu mechanic. Which worked like this:
To play a Technique, you must choose a dude with Kung Fu and pull. If the pull is lower than the dude’s value (remember this is the dude’s printed value plus Kung Fu rating value), it succeeds. If the pull is equal to or higher than the dude’s value (once again, including Kung Fu rating), it fails.
What? Why do we have to add the Kung Fu value to the printed value? Why not just provide a Kung Fu number and then subtract that from the value you needed to hit? It would be a clever mechanical way to distinguish that ability and it would be an easy thing to remember.

In a game like Doomtown where mechanics already were difficult to remember- movement and how jobs worked, being most notable- adding in extra math and issues for value was needlessly complicated. Plus, it would allow for good Kung Fu Dudes at higher values so you would have a broader range of values to work with.

Messy implementations of mechanics like this are impediments, not benefits.

It's because of things like this that I feel Doomtown had difficulty sustaining an audience. It's too bad, because there is a really interesting game under it all that could have had time to shine. Magic was equally messy in it's early years too and people, I think, often overlook that because what we talk about now are the powerful successes that make Legacy and Vintage interesting.

But even with that, Magic almost imploded on itself in it's early years. I would have liked to see Doomtown make a similar escape. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Commander 2016 Instead

"I have this deck I want to test so I can write about it for the blog," I told Jason.

"Oh. I thought we were just going to play the new Commander decks, so I didn't bring any sixties."


But on the other hand, we got multiple plays of each new Commander deck and I can tell you what we thought of those.

Atraxa, Praetors' Voice: had some really great synergies going on with it and we both could see the deck being an absolute wrecking ball. I don't know who decided Cathars' Crusade in there, but that card is just mean with Atraxa. Counters are difficult to eradicate and this deck plays that angle well.

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder: emphasized the more chaotic nature of its Commander. Jason played against it and thought it was interesting-as did I-but as the pilot, I felt like it's potential power was a little too rooted in Yidris. Cascade is a very powerful ability but getting the trigger isn't reliable. This deck is possibly the one that, with savvy refinement, would be the most likely to come out of nowhere to win the game. Certainly, I cast some haymakers to mess with the board when I played.

Breya, Etherium Shaper: we believed had some of the greatest potential. The commander is incredibly flexible and if you play with the partners instead, the deck still has some real stopping power. The "broadest" of the decks, meaning that there was a lot of different avenues of attack here: combo was possible, aggro was possible, control could be manifested too and you could make those decisions right out of the box.

Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis: this deck suffered from being played 1v1. We both felt that the deck really wanted a 3-5 player game to shine. When confronted with a singular opponent, there were just too many resources available to that opponent and not enough diversion away from Kynaios and Tiro. This deck might also be the one that requires the most refinement to be a proper 'group hug' deck. We didn't get a chance to try it with the partner commanders though so the question of how well it might perform with different leadership (if you will) remains unanswered.

Saskia the Unyielding: was a surprise to both of us. The commander's ability is brutal in 1v1 games and the potential to play a real aggro deck in multiplayer is genuine, in our humble opinions. There's enough creatures in those colors that are difficult to block (our first thought was shadow creatures) that the chance to end one player's game while having a massive impact on a second one-especially one hiding behind cards like Propaganda- should not be underestimated. This is the real deal.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Playing On Tilt

Liked this video about playing and getting better after mistakes.

Sorry I don't have more: I'm playing some games with The Boys and I'm getting things lined up there but the election has got me grinding my gears. And not just mine, my friends, too so it's not always easy to line up time to play. Still, I've gotten a few games in with the current, not very tweaked newest version and so far what I've learned is...this deck doesn't do great in multiplayer.

I was out last night with Noah and Matt and the three player games were not kind to The Boys. Mana was an issue and I'm starting to think even a couple U/R or G/R lands might be helpful. I wasn't shy of Blue or Green mana but Red was rarely timely on the board.

In addition, I'm starting to see how dominant Magus of the Bazaar is. When the Magus shows up early, I have the potential to power through the snags that are inevitable to any game of Magic, should I play wisely.

Noah has suggested Key to the City to help duplicate the Magus's effect, which I like for two reasons: first, it gives me a pseudo copy of Wonder to run and second, as an artifact it's less susceptible to the most common forms of removal. I like the idea but I'm a little wary of the mana costs. In order to really get something back from the Key, I have to pay two mana and The Boys Got That Look is a stingy deck.

On the other hand, next week I'm off to Seattle and there will be many games against Jason. I'll try to work something up for Tuesday the 22nd, (Happy Thanksgiving everyone & safe travels!) but after that the next post won't be until the 29th. That said, Jason usually provides me with some very good games and good suggestions so I'm eager to see what comes of that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Hate Cards

This post at MTGgoldfish describes the usefulness of hate cards to keep strategies from overrunning a format. I rather like the idea and I think it accurately diagnoses an important tool that Wizards needs to use to keep metagames in check.

Which is why I think more removal for Planeswalkers need to be printed.

Again: for every other permanent type, there is frequent common rarity removal printed for that type. Planeswalkers are the only permanent type that have this exception: Mold Shambler and Rootgrapple are the only current exceptions to this and both of those cards cost 5+ mana, which I don't think is terribly out of line, and are 7+ years old, which IS.

WotC might think that keeping Planeswalkers at the mythic rarity is helping but that's only driving prices up. Now I'm seeing a lot of control decks that want to use Planeswalkers as their victory conditions, which means it's only going to get worse.

So; hate cards. And common level Planeswalker removal. Or at least uncommon rarity, if they want to try and keep the supertype special.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


On Election Day, I did not want to be around televisions. It has been a difficult 2016 and I will admit, I was fed up.

So I went and played some Commander with Caitlin and Matt; her with an Ob Nixilus demon themed deck, him with Jolrael lands as creatures deck.

The first round I was playing Karona-Allies, the second Kaysa and I lost, both times. Mistakes were assuredly made but I spend my time with good people doing something I enjoy. Not much more to say than that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Good Guys Cuttin' And Runnin'

I may have been too hasty in my attempt to improve The Boys. It's a pretty common mistake: Are the cards I'm playing good enough, vs Can I play my cards?

And I am having trouble playing my cards. Which means mana issues. Given that I'm playing a three color deck with minimal fixing and zero dual lands, I really should have started there first. But in testing with Noah and Fuz, I repeatedly had color issues and couldn't play the cards I was hoping to play.

I did fair against a U/W Spirits deck Fuz was piloting while still noting said issues but as you can see in this picture, once his G/B Infect deck arrived there wasn't much for me to do except die.

Games went similarly against Noah: if I hit all my color drops, I had a deck that could pose a threat but it couldn't close. This is one reason why I started looking at my other card selection first. Color screw happens, so I didn't think it was noteworthy until it happened repeatedly.

Which is something I kept in mind while playing Lauriel, even though I won our matches.

Because even though I was fortunate enough to hit my land and color drops, she wasn't and it allowed me to ride an Aquamoeba to victory. I am not trying to revel in her defeat: I want to take this lesson in so I learn from the example.

Tri-color wedge lands, like ones that would produce RUG are difficult to come by, though. Khans block had a limited run and I've used them in other decks already. But what I know for sure is that my suite of Kodama's Reach and Wayfarer's Bauble isn't quite what I want.

So maybe Evolving Wilds?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Strange Television Distortion

I have started off my evaluation of The Boys Got That Look by looking at what's new with Madness. Looking over the list, it's a little grim, given my color combination. Chilling Grasp costs more with the Madness cost; there are a ton of black cards that won't fit the color scheme at all, there are no green cards to add, and there isn't another red creature with stats comparable to Reckless Wurm. Many of the other red cards are tied into vampires and that's not super helpful either, with the possible exception of Stromkirk Occultist.

That leaves me with not too many options: Just the Wind, Welcome to the Fold, Abandon Reason and Avacyn's Judgement stand out.

So, maybe I should look at this from a different angle?

Let's look at what cards in my colors want me to discard for an effect. There's only 455 of them, what can it hurt?

Man. That's a pretty nuts list and it really needs to be whittled down, somehow. So OK: let's take a look at The Boys.

Everything that I want to play stops at three mana. Wonder isn't ever meant to be played: It's graveyard bound so all my stuff flies and if I have to actually cast the card, I'm in trouble. Arrogant and Reckless Wurm are supposed to be played via Madness: again, if I have to play them the hard way, I'm likely losing that game already.

So if I narrow things down to cards with a converted mana cost of three or less my list gets shortened to...279 cards. Which is still pretty daunting but does cut a big chunk away. Eliminating the word "random", a common drawback for many red cards and one I haven't built the deck to play around, brings this to 257.

Unfortunately, even with a list narrowed down to a manageable number, my choices are pretty grim. There really isn't much to add, which makes this a bit of a pickle.

Maybe I need to look into cards that can be played from the graveyard? In R/U that generally means Flashback but in Green there might be more options. Unearth may also provide some buttress to my deck, especially if I can find some solid tempo cards to put me ahead. Scourge Devil looks especially promising, although it definitely wants a Wonder in the graveyard to make it really good.

May have to run it by some friends, too, see if they have any ideas.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Commander 2016 review

Link to the card gallery is here!

So...what do I think? Well, I think that it's best to tell you up front that I'm going to talk about the set as a whole, not the individual decks. My personal recommendation is, as always, to buy all of them. WotC has a track record of making really solid Commander decks and I think this year continues that trend.

I think that most of the 4 color commanders are pretty bonkers. This is fitting, as producing four colors of mana isn't easy and rarely doable by turn four, even in Commander. Of them, Breya seems to be the weakest but there are absolutely ways to make her work.

I also want to give some credit to the designers of Partner, the big new mechanic that's allowing for more 4 color commanders. I think the color combinations will allow for people to really have some fun and create new decks. Few of those abilities seem overpowered but there are definitely some synergies to exploit. Or just weird combinations to try! This should be a cool chance to really get weird. I approve of that.

You know what else I approve of: That these mechanics don't exclude me from putting one of these cards in a 60 card deck. Akiri, Line-Slinger is a good card in a RW Vehicles deck, for example. Contrast this with Derevi, who really only makes sense as a Commander, and you'll see what I mean.

On Undaunted: another mechanic I appreciate. Still can be played in games that are not Commander, be they two headed giant, chaos, or regular duels, they just improve with more opponents. (Although these cards in 2HG? That seems like Really Good Stuff!)

But why are the Black and Red ones ( Curtains' Call and Divergent Transformations) so weak? White and Blue get global reset buttons, Green is a permanent boost across the board...Black and Red target two things? Divergent Transformations is a bit more versatile, I suppose but neither of these cards are ones I want to run that badly.

Oh well: they can't all be winners.

There aren't that many new cards, either; brushing aside the Commanders themselves, as they will be somewhat popular no matter what, other standouts for me include: Deepglow Skate, Manifold Insights, Orzhov Advokist. Entrapment Maneuver, Curse of Vengeance, the artwork on Magus of the Will, Frenzied Fugue (this is an effect I've been waiting to see executed in Red), Runehorn Hellkite, Stonehoof Chieftain, Ancient Excavation, Grave Upheaval, and Treacherous Terrain, which will become a finisher for every RG deck I can think of, then finally Ash Barrens, which has the cheapest landcycle cost. The new artifacts don't really grab me, for some reason.

Which leaves us with the reprints!

The first thing I have to say about that is: It's cool to see some Conspiracy cards (like Custodi Soulbinders) reappear here. Conspiracy isn't exactly a difficult to find set but it also didn't have the same rush to open packs as a Standard set, so I think it's great to have those cards reprinted and I hope WotC continues to keep these things coming.

In White, Reveillark and Wave of Reckoning are cool to see again. Blue getting another run of Evacuation is a positive. I like Beacon of Unrest getting a reprint for Black but it always bugs me when they don't reprint the cycle. It's a personal thing, I know. Red getting a reprint of Chaos Warp is great: it was getting expensive and it's effect is cool. Same for Past in Flames. Green's only notable reprint is Oath of Druids, which I have to admit is very surprising but definitely welcome.

For the multicolored cards, Baleful Strix, Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Ghave, Guru of Spores, and Zedruu the Greathearted are good to see again. In the artifact and land realm, Chromatic Lantern, Commander's Sphere, Forbidden Orchard, Homeward Path, and Murmuring Bosk are additions that work.

However, I am underwhelmed by the selection this time. Nothing genuinely surprising and Sol Ring again is a waste of a slot. Maybe I'm just spoiled by the cool things they did with Kaladesh and Take The Crown. Also, since none of these decks have been played yet, there are likely undiscovered synergies based around the cards provided and I don't want to knock them just yet.

Still, my impressions of last year's set were stronger. I don't think this is bad, by any means and I'm looking forward to seeing how they play!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Boys Got That Look

Way, way, way back in the days of old, when Dr Teeth ruled the Magic landscape, well before dredge was using the graveyard to strike fear into the hearts of players, Wizards took a risk on a very complex mechanic called Madness.

And someone figured out how to break it, cheaply. Because my money > less of my money, I ended up giving it a go, naming the deck after an excellent Wayne Kramer song and...there it has sat for years, getting minimal attention.

Madness is back though, so it's time to dust this off:
1 Wayfarer's Bauble

2 Kodama's Reach

2 Reckless Wurm
3 Magus of the Bazaar
4 Arrogant Wurm
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Aquamoeba
4 Obsessive Search
3 Wonder
4 Wild Mongrel

3 Naturalize
4 Fiery Temper

8 Island
9 Forest
5 Mountain
The basic idea is pretty simple: get Wild Mongrel or Aquamoeba out by turn two, cast Arrogant Wurm by turn three for extremely cheap and 3 points of damage, and then you're off to the races! Once you get Wonder in the graveyard, all your stuff flies and it's almost certain that all your opponent's stuff does not, so you swing, pitch a Fiery Temper for an additional 4 points of damage all for R and by then the opponent is dead!

At least we hope so.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Keep Gatherer Handy

This person has decided to run a contest of the best Magic cards in history-up to this year. As determined by the voting public.

It's insane and awesome and you should definitely check it out.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Take The Crown Playthrough

If you can't get eight players to draft, screw it, do four. That's what I say.

So we did. And this is what it looked like.

I ended up with a R/B deck that had a lot of removal but not a lot of win conditions. My plan was to patiently wait as other players represented threats, and then step in after one or if I was lucky, two players had been eliminated.

And it almost worked. First, because as it turns out, Sangromancer is an absolute house in multiplayer. Holy cow that card is good. The first time I cast it, Noah stole it from me with Desertion (a card I passed to him because 'who plays countermagic in multiplayer?') and proceeded to go from 6 life to 27 life.

After Matt destroyed the Sangromancer, I was able to use Raise Dead and re-play Sangromancer, which took me from 7 life to 22 before being killed again, I believe this time by Caitlin.

While I didn't see anything too bonkers from my opponents in terms of card selection, the decks were varied and things got interesting specifically because of the Monarch mechanic. Attacking became very important because of the extra cards.

Matt had it worked out though, putting a Pariah on my Havengul Vampire.  As the Vampire got bigger and bigger, Matt had time to add in a Ghostly Posession on top of it all! At one point I had a 17/17 vampire that couldn't do anything for me and left Matt comfortably in the position of Monarch.


As the game wore on the extra card draw became detrimental to Matt, who saw his library run down to nothing and couldn't find an answer for the board. The aggressive nature of being the Monarch had a price and eventually it got paid.

Which is very cool, because multiplayer games often struggle due to people turtling up. They get laggy and boring, with nobody wanting to take any risks. The extra card draw is worth getting for a little while but multiplayer draft games means that A) It's harder to capitalize on those extra draws and B) if it goes on long enough the reward becomes a bad thing.

First test of Take The Crown: Approved.

Mission Completed, Commander Karn

(Sorry about the delay: I meant to have this up Tuesday and wanted to include the decklist-and just got preoccupied.)

Karn has started to knock it out of the park.

This was the end state of a game I played against Lauriel, playing Derevi, where I was able to get out a Darksteel Forge in response to the activation of a Nevinyarrl's Disk. Because I had a Vedalken Orrery out.

That's pretty bonkers. I think I may have screwed up and failed to remove my Kozilek, or she may have conceded in response as I was taking this picture. Either way, I had a pretty dominant board position at this point.

Games have repeatedly set out like this; slow builds but overwhelming deployment of resources. I'm actually pretty good with this. The deck has clearly improved since I started out and as a bonus, Kaladesh is there to provide some more toolbox opportunities.

I'm pretty pleased about it all, so here's the updated decklist.

Karn, Silver Golem

1 All Is Dust
1 Scour from Existence
1 Phyrexian Processor
1 Soldevi Digger
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Mind's Eye
1 Puppet Strings
1 Thran Dynamo
1 Darksteel Forge
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Planar Portal
1 Lux Cannon
1 Jayemdae Tome
1 Vedalken Orrery
1 Predator, Flagship
1 Mind Stone
1 Voltaic Key
1 Golem's Heart
1 Power Matrix
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Guardian Idol
1 Unwinding Clock
1 Hedron Archive
1 Sol Ring
1 Spine of Ish Sah
1 Argentum Armor
1 Candles of Leng
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Urza's Blueprints
1 Aradara Express
1 Bomat Bazaar Barge
1 Myr Galvanizer
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Myr Mindservant
1 Myr Matrix
1 Myr Reservoir
1 Myr Turbine
1 Triskelavus
1 Palladium Myr
1 Bottle Gnomes
1 Lodestone Myr
1 Golem Artisan
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 Shimmer Myr
1 Colossus of Sardia
1 Ferropede
1 Ulamog's Crusher
1 Mycosynth Golem
1 Serrated Biskelion
1 Thopter Assembly
1 Soul of New Phyrexia
1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
1 Kozilek, the Great Distortion
1 Bane of Bala Ged
1 Endbringer
1 It That Betrays
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Platinum Emperion
1 Myr Retriever
1 School of the Unseen
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Blinkmoth Urn
1 Blinkmoth Well
1 Zoetic Cavern
1 Blasted Landscape
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Mirrodin's Core
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Quicksand
1 Dread Statuary
1 Stalking Stones
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple of the False God
1 Henge of Ramos
1 Urza's Mine
1 Urza's Power Plant
1 Urza's Tower
1 Urza's Factory
1 Desert
1 Crystal Vein
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Springjack Pasture
1 Glimmerpost
1 Cloudpost
1 Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Tarnished Citadel
1 Petrified Field
1 Mirrorworks
1 Buried Ruin
1 Mage-Ring Network
1 Ruins of Oran-Rief
2 Wastes
1 Sea Gate Wreckage
1 Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
1 Phyrexia's Core

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Kaladesh Sealed 9/30

I went 2-1 last Friday at Red Castle's sealed event. I felt pretty good about my deck and was one game away from being 3-0. That's pretty sweet!

I also got a headache during the tournament. I don't know what it is about serious competitive events but I need to be able to physically move more or my body starts to revolt.

Here's the deck I played

Filigree Familiar
Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Saheeli's Artistry
Thriving Ibex
Aviary Mechanic
Inventor's Goggles
Bomat Bazaar Barge
Glint-Sleeve Artisan
Skywhaler's Shot
Iron League Steed
Weldfast Wingsmitih
Nimble Innovator
Cogworker's Puzzleknot
Veldaken Blademaster
2 Revoke Privileges
Herald of the Fair
Tezzeret's Ambition
Propeller Pioneer
Bastion Mastodon
Fairgrounds Warden
Eddytrail Hawk
Smuggler's Copter

In the first matchup, I played an exhausted gentleman who told me he'd been up since 5 AM. His pace of play was understandably deliberate but not slow, and our first game was a slugfest that took thirty minutes. At three life, I was able to come back into the game topdecking Saheeli's Artistry and using it to copy my Familiar twice. With the extra life cushion, I was able to freely attack for 11 two turns in a row, and that sealed the game. Our second game, my opponent was severely mana screwed and I won briskly, which was good because we had about five minutes to play.

In the second matchup, I made a critical game three error when I used my Skywhaler's Shot on Dhund Operative (which was attacking) instead of Ghirapur Guide and just blocking the Operative in a trade.

Because a few turns later, my opponent was able to make his creatures unblockable to my 1/x creatures and swing for lethal, after pumping one of his creatures with Engineered Might.

If I had used the Shot on the Guide, I would've taken away that ability and one of his best creatures to crew a vehicle. I underestimated that ability and it cost me.

The last matchup was another slugfest, with my opponent getting an Aetherflux Reservoir, which I thought was going to win him the game for certain. Fortunately, I am getting better at not panicking during these moments and despite the Reservoir, my opponent didn't have a lot else happening on the board. So I kept attacking while he kept casting cards like Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, keeping steady pressure on his life total while not overextending.

When he had a bunch of stuff on the board and looked like he could stabilize, I was able to put down a Cataclysmic Gearhulk and my opponent made some bad decisions about which permanents to keep. As a result, I was able to finish that match with a win.

So far, things are looking interesting!

I'd like to do more sealed events, as a way of improving my Magic game, so I hope to have some more posts like this in the future.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Kaladesh Overview Review

Now that the full set is available to view, I can weigh in on what I think about Kaladesh.

The Big Stuff:

Energy seems neat but it's a workaround of the mana system and that means it's breakable in potentially unpleasant ways. Whenever WotC does things that ignore the mana system, the potential for problems shoots through the roof. Just something to keep an eye on; if the energy deck isn't there now, when Aether Revolt arrives, it certainly will be.

Vehicles are a good twist on artifacts and I think the flavor of the implementation is very cool.

Fabricate is boring. Yeah, yeah, it offers "options" but I don't think it represents choices. I think that the correct thing to do is always going to be obvious and that doesn't really interest me. Is it bad? No, but is it something I want to try and make a deck for? No: I already have a million ways to use and manipulate +1/+1 counters.

The Gearhulks are all pretty badass, except the Green one. Yes, an 8/8 trampler for five mana is good but there's nothing protecting it from Smelt. It's not terrible, not at all-but the other 4 are strictly better.

In White, the card I actually find most interesting is Authority of the Consuls. A Kismet for the most releveant card type that comes out on turn one is going to be a massive boost to control decks, I think.

For Blue, I see both the Energy theme at a high level (it seems to have the most along with Artifacts, with G, R, W and B in order after that) and once again, it's "affinity" for artifacts showing up. I'm not sure why people fret about the state of Blue in Magic; the color is almost always represented at high level events and this continued partnership with artifacts will almost certainly keep it there. The only difference? Cards feel appropriately costed for their effects.

But the card I find the most interesting is Paradoxical Outcome. The ability to save your relevant permanents and draw a card for the escape seems like a really, really cool thing to me.

Black is a bit narrower this time: I was struggling to find compelling stuff there. I'm happy to see Aetherborn Marauder's effect again but even cards like Gonti, Lord of Luxury aren't getting the gears turning. I suppose Midnight Oil could be cool: I really dig the name but the effect seems so damn weak. Plus, the drawback of the card exists even when it runs out of counters! Two drawbacks, actually: the ping for discard and the permanent setting of your hand to zero. At certain points in the game, this is going to be excellent though: file this under "potential gem".

Red should be particularly interesting in this set, right? It's Chandra's homeworld: let's see some love! But, while I think the introduction of the Gremlin creature type is neat, I'm just not feelin' it this time. It's cool that Red is getting an in with artifacts using Vehicles in a similar way that White does with Equipment, so hopefully that will be an added dimension for the color long term.

I'm not sure how Fateful Showdown is being regarded but I feel the card has potential. A madness enabler, card draw, the ability to get rid of cards that aren't helping you, possible interactions with graveyard mechanics: that's a pretty long list of upsides.

That Green has a lot to do with Energy surprises me, but it shouldn't: resource building is a staple for the color. Dubious Challenge is almost certainly going to go into my Cube. (Which is where I keep terrible cards, for the uninitiated). After that, I'm just not seeing much to run with. Nature's Way looks cool, since it allows a potential 2 for 1.

Multicolored stuff has Rashmi and let's face it, that's kinda amazing.

The Artifacts are where WotC put some of the big, flashy stuff and it shows: Aetherworks Marvel, the Vehicles, Deadlock Trap is the kind of card that's long, long overdue, and I wish was an Uncommon instead,  and Filigree Familiar, which will possibly become the most expensive Uncommon in Magic history. It'll certainly rank amongst the most adorable. Skysovereign is crazy good-Noah told me he went 5-1 over pre-release weekend with that in his deck-and everyone already knows how good Smuggler's Copter is.

I clearly need Inventor's Fair for my Karn Commander deck, and Ghirapur Orrery is waiting to be busted.

That's all folks! I'm looking forward to seeing what cool ideas people come up with.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kaladesh Survey impressions

Survey here.

Cultivator's Caravan: Is just excellent. I wasn't as excited about the art-it's not bad but that's OK. A good card is a good card.

Combustible Gearhulk: another very good card. I like how the red in the picture is subdued, and not the dominant color. The rating is just good though because the opponent's choice is almost always going to be obvious (milling for damage) and that could be big, could be nothing.

Saheeli's Artistry: The art first: again, I like how the blue seems subdued for a blue card. The effect is excellent as well, though I think the flavor text is a bit bland.

Toolcraft Exemplar: continuing the theme of solid art here, too. This is a fair card I think. It doesn't take much to make it good but it takes a lot to make it excellent.

Thriving Turtle: I think this is a good card. It can be a 1/4, or it can be an energy battery and blocker for one blue. That's solid. Everything else about the card was merely fair but it'll do.

Longtusk Cub: I'm going out on a limb to say it's an excellent card. Repeatable energy battery plus the ability to grow at instant speed? This reminds me a little bit of Jitte and that's a good thing. It's always going to be a threat and that makes for a very solid card.

Ruinous Gremlin: I really like the flavor text here, because it gives me a sense of Kaladesh. The card is a good effect too: solid early as a "rattlesnake" effect, useful late when they have you up against the wall with a Skysovereign. 

Aerial Responder: Little too much white in this picture for me. Contrast still matters! But the flavor text adds to the plane and calling this the White Vampire Nighthawk is not out of line. It's great.

Smuggler's Copter: so good. The art is a little weird and it obviously can't carry much for smuggling but I have a feeling that this card is going to show up in decks the entire time it's in Standard.

Sequestered Stash: While I like the art and the implications of the name, the ability really isn't all that. Marginal card. If it didn't require a sacrifice it would move up considerably...and it would also make dredge completely broken in Modern. Still, a marginal card is marginal.

Brazen Scourge: Washed out pink art! It's like an attack of Pepto Bismol. But 3/3's for haste are good. I don't know if this will help the R/B aggro deck that WotC thinks is there in draft, beyond the draft format but who knows? I would very much like to see R/B at the top tables for awhile: it's the only color combo I can think of that has never really had a day in the sun.

Highspire Artisan: I don't like the artwork and I don't like this card. Washed out green tones everywhere, and the option to get a 0/3 and a 1/1 or a 1/4 just holds zero interest for me. Sideboard card in limited, if that.

Contraband Kingpin: I think this card is excellent. Slides well into a U/B artifact deck and does precisely what you hope it will to give you: time. The artwork is very cool, too and I'm excited to see a new creature type with this kind of style.

Demolition Stomper: boy that artwork is drab and brown against a dull green backgrowd. For a plane that is supposed to have slick, lively vehicles, this sticks out in an ugly way. The card itself is marginal, since 10/7's that can't be

I may have misevaluated this card. A 10/7 will probably take out anything that's put it its way and opponents can't just hope that their 1/1 tokens will give them time. I should test this one.

Rush of Vitality: This is a weird card to see in Black, so I rated it good. Indestructible isn't something I think fits the color often but since they're using Indestructible to replace Regenerate I think it'll happen more often. Thematically, it doesn't work but mechanically it's probably better so I can't argue with that decision. Indestructible is also better than Regenerate for the most part and the artwork feels a lot more colorful and dynamic than what I often see on Black cards.

And that's it! Overall, I'm still pretty interested in this set and want to see how it interacts with the rest of the game. I'm hopeful that it'll be a very solid set, even if it doesn't introduce anything incredibly game changing.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Karn Works The Format

The lastest games with Karn, vs Matt & Caitlin, went pretty well. It helped to have a slower start and thus get ignored for a few turns while I just built up mana, for the most part.

But the haymakers worked: I built up mana slowly and was able to use Unwinding Clock to build up an overwhelming amount of resources. Lux Cannon was particularly helpful and it didn't hurt that Caitlin's demon deck removal had a weakness to artifact creatures.

A similar scene played out in the second matchup, with giant Eldrazi saving the day.

So I may be coming to the end run with Karn, having truly tuned it up for the better.

But...Kaladesh is out now and I picked up some cards at the release event. I think I'm going to remove a couple cards that aren't really doing much and add in a Bomat Bazaar Barge and Aradara Express. The Barge replaces itself and the Express could be a 5/5 with Menace using Karn.

I can't wait to check them out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Karn and the Matchups

"I want to test this deck I threw together," Jason texts me.

I should've known better than to think this would be a winning experience, but I was hopeful after the last round of changes! More card draw, better lands, more useful creatures...I really thought I had something!

Enter Nekusar, the Mindrazer to ruin those dreams.

And I didn't just lose. I lost badly. I don't care what that picture looks like, we played three matchups and I went 0-2 in all of them.

Sure, Jason got uncannily lucky, dropping a Sol Ring on turns one or two of nearly every matchup, getting Propaganda out in 3 of the 6 games and then there was the game with Vandalblast... But again, Karn had a whole bunch of not-stuff going on and Nekusar had a lot of redundancy and card draw.

I really need haymakers for Karn to work as I've currently structured it. This is clashing with my desire to keep cards like Yotian Soldier in the deck because when was the last time that card saw the light of day? It's a solid little role player, right? However, it may just be a poor fit. I really feel that Karn should be able to take on a deck like Nekusar and that it can't bothers me.

Especially when I look at times when Karn won: giant creatures or waves of Myr, as against Phenax, which Jason played later that evening.

If I want to say there's a Myr theme, then Yotian Soldier isn't as fitting as Myr Retriever is. Add in the fact that I want to add in Vehicles now that Kaladesh is on the scene, I'm going to have to make some stronger evaluations of cards that should or shouldn't make the cut.

So, I ought to take a step back. Some decks just have bad matchups against others and I know this as well as anyone. Any deck packing Vandalblast against me is going to have a Pretty Good Day. I've seen that Karn has some synergies to exploit and I'm steadily creating a better and better build to exploit them.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

But What If, Karn?

"I couldn't remove a 2/1 with deathtouch, and that is a problem," I said to Jason.

He's got Oloro as his commander and a Serra Avatar on the table in the photo; I've got enough mana to cast Shimmer Myr and recur it via Myr Reservoir to block the Avatar forever...except.

My freakin' Eldrazi is being held off by a 2/1 with deathtouch. I can't go on the offensive, because my mana at the time is being tied up in blocking a Very Large Avatar. I couldn't get anything else on board and soon after, Jason cast Sanguine Bond, sacrificed the Avatar (at 50 something power) to Disciple of Griselbrand and that was that.

And people say Aetherflux Reservoir isn't going to go off!

Finding a bunch of ways that Karn doesn't work is good data, but alternative input has been lacking.

The next match, Jason played Marath as his commander and I was able to establish a solid board presence...until he cast From the Ashes. While this wiped out all of my lands, I was able to keep playing thanks to a couple mana rocks-and an already dominant board presence-that he just couldn't keep up.I had a similar experience in game 2, being able to cast my haymakers while he used an untuned Marath deck to try and keep up.

At least I know that this deck can work! Maybe it would work better in multiplayer? It hasn't (yet) but...

Reading LSV's artifact review of Kaladesh gave me an idea. Vehicles could be a real boon to this deck, both adding a set of artifacts for Karn to animate, or allowing smaller animated artifacts to crew larger vehicles. Hell, animating vehicles should get around the need to crew them!

This offers an extra dimension to the deck that was previously unavailable and that strikes me as quite exciting!

Until then, I'm going to remove:
Rocket Launcher
Myr Incubator
Alpha Myr
Sculpting Steel
Blinkmoth Nexus
Sheltered Valley
An-havva Township
Koskun Keep
Castle Sengir

Adding in:
2 Wastes
Sea Gate Wreckage
Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
Phyrexia's Core
Platinum Emperion
Argentum Armor
Spine of Ish Sah (can't believe this wasn't already here)
Solemn Simulacrum
Candles of Leng
Gruesome Slaughter

With two Wastes, Solemn Simulacrum has viable targets and I can't be completely shattered by cards like From the Wastes. Argentum Armor could give more removal (which is something I seem to be sorely lacking), Candles of Leng more card draw (ditto), and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods is another Temple of the False God that helps ramp mana.

So far, I like where I'm going with this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On Money

Maybe you've noticed the Paypal button in the upper right. Maybe not. I don't have much to say about it but what little I do, I feel I should just get said and be done with. Because I hate talking about this subject but I did just figure out how to put that button up there, so go me.

I'm not going to charge for premium content. Or make premium content. I'm not going to change the posting schedule. I'm not going to start hyping the button for money. I'm not going to do anything different from what I am doing or have been doing for the past five years.

I just feel that the work I do, and it is work, has value. I feel that I've demonstrated a reliable voice over a long period of time, so readers know that I'm not going to just evaporate if I get paid. Magic cards cost money, going to prereleases costs money, living costs money. If readers feel like kicking me a few bucks, awesome. If they don't, that's totally OK, too.

I'm not changing a thing, beyond the implicit statement that what I do has value and if people would like to give me money for it, that's much appreciated.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Commander Karn-The Question

Sometimes, it's best to get the blunt truth, which I got, this time, from Sean.

This came just after the pictured game, where I'm playing Karn, Jason, on the right, has yet to start taking over via Meren (Sean asked, after the experience counters reached 7, 'How do you deal with that?' and my reply was 'Tormod's Crypt.') and Sean, in the upper left playing Daretti. 

I didn't accomplish much-sure it didn't help that I spent most of the game getting punished by Steel Hellkite, but I didn't have any interaction at all. Worse, when I played Blinkmoth Urn, I really set Sean up to ramp his mana.

Yet my deck couldn't benefit-because anything I would pay would be destroyed by the Hellkite.
After it was all over, Sean put it to me:
"What does your deck do?" has a myr subtheme and a eldrazi subtheme and...

Sean just waited as it became pretty clear that I didn't really have a plan.

Now, I don't think that's bad but since that is the case, then I need to clear some of the deadwood in Karn's deck. Without a focused idea to bind the deck together, I can't rely on synergies, which means that I have to amplify the deck's overall power level.

That is a bummer to consider though; that I got swept up in the tiny details of card selection that I failed to look at the bigger picture of what the deck should do.

On the bummer scale though, it's maybe a two. I'll live.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


I haven't managed to get any gaming in this week. Not even on Shadow over Mordor or Doom, which is a bummer. (I like SoM but Doom is a little more my bag right now).

But it also means I don't have any content for today.

However, I'm headed to Seattle tomorrow for a couple days and I'm hoping I can get some Magic in with Jason and maybe Sean.

And also, beer. But definitely some epic games!

So, updates Tuesday. Plus, there will more Kaladesh to talk about, so we'll rebound then. Sound good?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Yesterday, WotC announced the Masterpiece Series, branching off the success of the Zendikar Expeditions.

The TL:DR for those of you who just want to read my dulcet words is-Wizards will be adding in ultra-rare reprinted cards to packs that are thematically cohesive to the block. You cannot play them in Standard unless they are part of that Standard block (like the Gearhulks), they will come with new boarders and expansion symbols to distinguish them from other cards in the block, and you can see them all here.

And they're going to be doing this in every set.

While the argument against simply reprinting necessary cards in new sets seems very, very weak (I don't recall Thoughtsieze warping things-there was, as is almost always the case in Magic, a confluence of cards to create an issue both times) and will always seem weak to me, since those cards made it into the pool somehow and Standard was OK:


The "Masterpieces will tie thematically into the block" position is incredibly vague, as it gives WotC leeway to print whatever they feel ties into the block somehow-or flat out neglect it because "reasons" (Jitte can't be on Kaladesh because flavor but we're totally OK with Chromatic Lantern, Champion's Helm, Painter's Servant, three Swords from Mirrodin, and the least necessary artifact reprint ever, Sol Ring? C'mon).

{Aside: Just go back to Kamegawa, WotC. Fix that block and reprint some stuff that needs it. Jeeze.}


Setting those two weak arguments aside, it does provide an avenue for WotC to give players reprints (what we want) while pushing Standard packs (what they want). And the selection of Masterpieces are pretty dang good, Sol Ring aside. Picks for everyone in nearly every format, cool art, distinctive borders and a solid sense of Magic's history.

There's also the possibility of prices for singles going down, as a result of people opening more packs for cool Masterpieces. And I don't know about you, but cheaper singles means I buy more cards.

As compromises go, it's a good place to start and an impressive lead to this series so we'll see how things continue to get executed.

For now, it really feels like a win-win and with the reprints in Take the Crown take into consideration? Good job, Wizards. Very good job.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


I went poking about the Commander and Competitive Commander forums at Reddit and didn't find much. This was a bit disappointing because the hive mind is usually a great source of ideas! Alas, this time it's looking like I have to grind things out myself.

So I organized the deck into lands, artifacts, creatures and All Is Dust.

After some review there are cards that I should pull:

Lumengrid Gargoyle: Too expensive for the payoff.
Myr Moonvessel: belongs in a combo deck
Myr Landshaper: also belongs in a combo deck
Omega Myr: no real payoff
Liquimetal Coating: doesn't do much else with the deck.
Welding Jar: belongs in a different deck. Commander has too much variance to get this to matter.
Rusted Relic: why play a vanilla 5/5?
Gemstone Caverns: Isn't awesome here.

Possible cuts:
Puppet Strings: doesn't do enough in multiplayer
Lightning Greaves: just not sure it does enough

Hedron Archive: mana + card draw is good.
Unwinding Clock: let's reuse my stuff.
Scour from Existence: removal isn't bad.
Endbringer: it's multifunctional
Kozilek, the Great Distortion: where else would this go? The card is pretty much terrible. But a 12/12 with Menace that can potentially draw me cards isn't bad. The countermagic ability is meaningless.
Bane of Bala Ged: removal isn't bad
It That Betrays: scary removal isn't bad
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger: he's a dick.
Ruins of Oran-Rief: useful for every creature in this deck.

What I like about this selection is that it increases my creature count, which doesn't suck, boosts the mana possibilities, which doesn't suck, and has more removal possibilities, which doesn't suck.

So...I've basically spent time reducing the suck. I didn't want to remove weirdo cards like Yotian Soldier, Rocket Launcher, or even Phyrexian Processor. But there was enough chaff and solid replacements that I think I'm headed in the right direction.

Now that I've put in Unwinding Clock, however, Puppet Strings and Liquimetal Coating have more value. Liquimetal Coating turning a land into an artifact that I can destroy via Karn for one mana every turn is a pretty good deal. Puppet Strings to turn off the best creature every round is a pretty good deal.

So I'll be keeping them in the "maybe" pile. There are bound to be more cards that need to be cut as playtesting might show, and the ability to destroy lands like Maze of Ith or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth can't be overlooked.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Commander-Karn, Silver Golem

I've been waiting to take a swing at this deck since I heard Battle for Zendikar was coming out and now that that block is complete, it's time.

Karn, Silver Golem

1 All Is Dust 1 Blinkmoth Urn
1 Myr Incubator
1 Mirrorworks
1 Rusted Relic
1 Phyrexian Processor
1 Soldevi Digger
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Sculpting Steel
1 Mind's Eye
1 Puppet Strings
1 Thran Dynamo
1 Darksteel Forge
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Welding Jar
1 Liquimetal Coating
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Rocket Launcher
1 Planar Portal
1 Lux Cannon
1 Jayemdae Tome
1 Nuisance Engine
1 Vedalken Orrery
1 Predator, Flagship
1 Mind Stone
1 Voltaic Key
1 Golem's Heart
1 Power Matrix
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Guardian Idol
1 Thopter Assembly
1 Teferi's Puzzle Box
1 Lumengrid Gargoyle
1 Hovermyr
1 Perilous Myr
1 Myr Moonvessel
1 Myr Landshaper
1 Myr Enforcer
1 Myr Galvanizer
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Myr Mindservant
1 Myr Matrix
1 Myr Reservoir
1 Myr Turbine
1 Triskelavus
1 Palladium Myr
1 Bottle Gnomes
1 Alpha Myr
1 Yotian Soldier
1 Lodestone Myr
1 Golem Artisan
1 Omega Myr
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 Shimmer Myr
1 Colossus of Sardia
1 Ferropede
1 Ulamog's Crusher
1 Mycosynth Golem
1 Serrated Biskelion
1 Soul of New Phyrexia
1 Zoetic Cavern
1 Blasted Landscape
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Mirrodin's Core
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Quicksand
1 Dread Statuary
1 Stalking Stones
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Sheltered Valley
1 Temple of the False God
1 Henge of Ramos
1 Urza's Mine
1 Urza's Power Plant
1 Urza's Tower
1 Urza's Factory
1 Desert
1 Crystal Vein
1 Vesuva
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Springjack Pasture
1 Glimmerpost
1 Mutavault
1 Cloudpost
1 Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Tarnished Citadel
1 Petrified Field
1 An-Havva Township
1 Koskun Keep
1 Aysen Abbey
1 Castle Sengir
1 School of the Unseen
1 Gemstone Caverns
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Blinkmoth Nexus
1 Blinkmoth Well

I built this deck a few years ago, around the time of New Phyrexia and there was still a pretty big hill to climb when to came to building a manabase.This is why the lands from Homelands make an appearance and my feeling is, if anyone has a problem with Koskun Keep being in the deck, I probably don't want to play Magic with them.

I went with a low-level Myr theme because Mirrodin has a bunch of them. It might be time to revisit this notion. Myr supported by some solid colorless creatures might be better and there are more colorless spells now than before.

While artifacts can pretty much do everything, there's a whole lot of new colorless cards -and spells- that can be added: time I see what else is out there.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It Didn't Turn Out

I'm hitting a wall with The Wretched. I've got the wall built, but how do I win? Drawing into Stormtide Leviathan isn't a bad idea but other threats would be nice.

I'm currently trying Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger as another finishing option. That's definitely a creature that can put a hurt on someone but it also comes out on turn 8 so it really isn't better at jumpstarting my win mode. I thought about Helix Pinnacle but that is a card that wants me to incorporate an infinite mana combo so I can just win outright. It's a neat idea but it belongs in another deck. Amusingly, days after I wrote my first draft of this post, Noah suggested Helix Pinnacle, so maybe I'm being too pessimistic about this. 

I may need to set this deck aside for now. It's got some neat things happening but the closure part isn't wanting to clasp together.

Of course, as I say this I rediscover Verdant Touch which may provide the threats I'm looking for, or Sprout Swarm, which has the potential to do the same.

The lighting struck though and I certainly have a better deck than I had before. I'm not dodging the work that comes after, however. This deck is going to stay in rotation for awhile and I'm definitely going to prioritize playing it for another week to see if I can get that keystone that will help make The Wretched more formidable.

Which is where the next thought comes in: What if I'm done?  Take a look at this picture.This is against the RWB tokens deck that Lauriel pummeled me with a couple weeks ago.

Now, I'm sitting behind an energy field and attacking for 8 a turn. She can (and did) cast enough creatures that Impact Tremors alone was trying to do 9 points of damage to me. Which I just shrugged off.

Fuz had similar problems, except I had out an Vorinclex that was borking his mana, until I was able to clean up. Seriously: Vorinclex is a dick. Although Elesh Norn and Jin-Gitaxias are mammoth dicks. Nobody talks about Jin-Gitaxias but someone is going to figure out how to use that monster...


Anyway what I'm getting at is that maybe I don't need to do anything. Maybe this deck is a weird successor to the lock decks of old and I don't have to come up with a genius masterstroke. All I need to do is set things up, swing with the big guns and call it a day.

It's good exercise, playing a control deck like this, having to think a little differently so I can maximize my resources along a different flight plan. I've had a lot of fun doing it, too.

So for now, let's move on.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Take The Crown: Online Review

Man, this is too much fun.

Goblin Racketeer: I went with a fair rating and that's because a 4/2 for 4 mana isn't bad and I don't know how to rate Goad as a mechanic yet. The art was decent but after that, nothing else stands out about this card.

Orchard Elemental: Green boarder + green art = that's boring. Plus, the damn thing looks like it's in a European palatial grounds, not an orchard. I did like the flavor text but the card itself is poor. Six mana for a benefit that your opponents control is not good. If you get a vanilla 8/8, that's bad. If you get a 2/2 and gain 12 life, that's marginally better but this is assuming that there are still 4 players in the game when the card enters the battlefield! The odds of you getting a much worse scenario is much higher.

Skyline Despot: Red skies in a red card. It's also pretty muddied, as things go: the foreground of the head is OK but it washes out rapidly and the background of the card is tinted red enough that you can't even make out the flame coming from the dragon! But I rated the card good, because a 5/5 flier goes a long way towards keeping you the Monarch and allowing you to get more dragons every turn.

Regicide: I don't see how this is anything but excellent. One mana to destroy 3/5ths of the creatures in the game as an instant? Yeah, that's going to be superb.

Palace Jailer: The artwork's kinda boring here, isn't it? It isn't bad but it's not telling much of a story, either. Unfortunately, this is just a bad card overall, too. It's a flavor win, to be sure: a creature being jailed until the political whims shift, oh that's marvelous. But it's that flavor win that makes it such a weak card, too, because you're never going to keep a creature you removed off the table.

Illusionary Informant: Blue art + Blue card.... I like the name though and I like the way the mechanic executes. The stats aren't bad, either so I gave it a fair rating. I'd take this card for sure.

Echoing Boon: What's going on in that scene? Rats riding goblins? It's goofy and I like it, even if I can't see how it relates to the name of the card, which is marginal. But it's a fair card, doing some potentially gamebreaking stuff...if you draw the card you name. Which knocks it down to marginal overall.

Menagerie Liberator: I mean...that dude has a green jacket on. Why? Because it's a green card? That's just nonsense. I do like the leading of the charge that's depicted, though: fair. Name is excellent though. In the end, I rated it fair: the potential to be a 6/5 trampler is cool, but even if it's just a 4/3, that doesn't suck for 4 mana.

Capital Punishment: I think this card is great all the way down. Six mana to eliminate at least 3 creatures or ensure at least 3 cards are discarded and it only improves from there? That's fantastic.

Leovold, Emissary of Trest: Another great card. I dinged the name to "good" because it's solid but rote, in the Magic naming scheme. Everything else about this card I love. I know other people are thinking "Commander" but as always I'm thinking "Sixty card deck...?"

Arcane Savant: Meh to the art again but...that ability has the potential to be game breaking. Yes, you need to get lucky and/or plan (or both). Or maybe you just want to cast Murder and get a 3/3 for five mana. That's just fine too. Excellent stuff.

Recruiter of the Guard: The art here feels dynamic and have some different color schemes so I like that. I'm downgrading the name because of the ability: Guardians should have high toughness, don't you think? Why recruit weaklings? Some solid flavor text though (which also plays nicely into the ability) and, well, the card itself is fantastic.

Assemble the Rank and Vile: Jesus, let's just go all goth on this one...if I wanted to look at Juggalo group photos I'd do that. I really like the name's really only good if you can get multiple copies of a creature in your deck and in an 8 person draft, my experience has been that this is not very common. Or at least, not copies of creatures you want to put in the deck. Marginal rating.

Messenger Jays: I think this is a bit of a sleeper card. Getting a really big flier isn't anything to sniff at, and that's most likely what you'll get but if you don't, drawing cards never sucks. For 5 mana, I'm rating this excellent. It's entirely possible to hit 5 mana with 4 players in the game but even if there's only 2, 3/2 + a card or 4/3 fliers for 5 are totally reasonable.

Incendiary Dissent: Why is the background building pink? WHY? I really like the name but, as with Assemble the Rank and Vile, I don't see it being anything more than a marginal card.

All in all, I think this is a pretty good set. What I'm starting to notice is that I am having some serious objections to the monotony of the art, in regards to the color scheme. This objection is holding over from set to set, and I think I'm going to keep making it until things change.