Thursday, September 27, 2018


Title comes from the Ghost song.
2 Murderous Redcap
2 Caldera Hellion
4 Ogre Slumlord
4 Ogre Battledriver
9 Relentless Rats
7 Rat Colony 
4 No Rest for the Wicked
1 Shared Animosity 
8 Mountain
4 Graven Cairns
7 Swamp
2 Mortuary Mire 
2 Cinder Barrens
3 Eliminate the Competition
1 Rolling Thunder
That's a super catchy song, right? Also, Rat Colony joins Ravenous Rats as one of the few cards that you can include any number of copies of. So the timing was right to revamp an old deck.

But rats are fragile, so I thought that a way to bring back those rats, or use the death of those rats to help forward the game plan were needed. Eliminate the Competition with No Rest For The Wicked seems like a nice set of synergies. Ogre Battledriver helps boost my tiny rats, with Ogre Slumlord giving me replacement (though only mildly synergistic) rats and adds deathtouch to all my rats, allowing me to keep the pressure on.

Murderous Redcap helps play into the recursion theme and Caldera Hellion can give me a sweeper with a big creature left over.

These are the theories, anyway.

Originally this deck was using the Devour mechanic. There was a very different list and the deck was called Octane. Here's the pre mortem:
10 Mountain
4 Graven Cairns
8 Swamp

1 Deathbringer Thoctar
2 Blistering Firecat
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Murderous Redcap
4 Thunder-Thrash Elder
4 Caldera Hellion
3 Dregscape Zombie
3 Hissing Iguanar
3 Mogg War Marshal
4 Bogardan Firefiend

4 No Rest for the Wicked
2 Urborg Justice
Now, while there is an idea there that I really felt I stuck to, it's just too narrow and not enough payoff. A lot of sacrifice fodder but not a lot of scary things to come from it. Which means that I should totally build a deck that is too narrow and HAS payoff, right?

Well, we shall see.

But I like that I have the rats to go on and am excited to get some matchups under my belt. It's been a little while since I had neat goofy deck to play. Will it work? Should Urborg Justice come back? Let's find out!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's All About The Games

Zedruu vs InallaThere's an interesting set of tools that Inalla is providing me with and I'm finding that games go a little better for me if I focus on them, and not as much on the 'tap/untap' function of Inalla herself that I was hoping to use.

That doesn't mean I'm cutting it: Turnabout is a great card and Jace, Ingenious Mind Mage unanswered has been creating problems as well as being underrated by opponents. I generally don't charge up my decks with enough power, so having anything that creates problems is good.

What I've also been learning is to play a bit more deliberately. Really planning out a line of play before I get to my turn and then having to stop to double check that line. Wizards are generally fragile creatures so I can't bully my way through a game.

On the upside, I think I've gotten Inalla in a good spot. The combo kill is available but it isn't oppressive. Kess has been cut for, of all things, Stonybrook Banneret.

3 player Inalla game
Kess is a great card but it doesn't fit in this deck: there aren't enough instants or sorceries to make the ability worthwhile. With Archaeomancer and Izzet Chronarch in the deck and the ability to duplicate their triggers with Inalla, removing a spell from my graveyard isn't pushing the value meter.

You know what will go really well with Kess? The new cards from Guilds of Ravnica that count instants or sorceries in your graveyard or exile. Cackling Drake, Ral, Izzet Viceroy, and Beacon Bolt....hey wait...

But I don't want to get distracted. I've spent weeks on Inalla and I believe this deck has a solid gameplan and ways to get to the later game, where it wants to be. The fat has been trimmed and while I don't think I inherently have to do anything broken, I have a little power in my back pocket to utilize if I need to.

Across multiple games in both 1v1 and multiplayer situations, I've been able to leverage my position into the mid and late games, and I'm having a lot of fun doing it. Which means I think I can set this one down. It's a good deck with not a lot of improvements to make and that's about where I want my Commander decks to be.

Let's do a final decklist!

Inalla, Archmage Ritualist

Instant1 Comet Storm
1 Polymorphist's Jest
1 Chaos Warp
1 Memory Plunder
1 Silumgar's Command
1 Into the Roil
1 Reality Shift
1 Go for the Throat
1 Crosis's Charm
1 Rakdos Charm
1 Terminate
1 Turnabout
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Commander's Sphere
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Sol Ring
1 Unstable Obelisk
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Dimir Cluestone
1 Izzet Cluestone
1 Rakdos Cluestone
Enchantment1 Curse of Verbosity
1 Curse of Disturbance
1 Curse of Opulence

1 Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage
1 Kindred Dominance
1 Clone Legion
1 Spelltwine
1 Necromantic Selection
1 Mutilate
1 Exotic Orchard
10 Island
6 Swamp
4 Mountain
1 Path of Ancestry
1 Command Tower
1 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Dismal Backwater
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Grixis Panorama
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Jwar Isle Refuge
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Swiftwater Cliffs
1 Temple of the False God
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Vivid Crag
1 Vivid Creek
1 Vivid Marsh

1 Galecaster Colossus
1 Portal Mage
1 Vindictive Lich
1 Havengul Lich
1 Vela the Night-Clad
1 Arcanis the Omnipotent
1 Azami, Lady of Scrolls
1 Body Double
1 Harbinger of the Tides
1 Serendib Sorcerer
1 Apprentice Necromancer
1 Puppeteer Clique
1 Etherium-Horn Sorcerer
1 Mercurial Chemister
1 Nin, the Pain Artist
1 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Bloodline Necromancer
1 Archaeomancer
1 Merchant of Secrets
1 Sea Gate Oracle
1 Corpse Augur
1 Izzet Chronarch
1 Nivix Guildmage
1 Wanderwine Prophets
1 Notion Thief
1 Vedalken Aethermage
1 Dragon Mage
1 Deadeye Navigator
1 Psychosis Crawler
1 Stonybrook Banneret

Friday, September 21, 2018

Final Four Rd 2

Today's matchup: Dark Confident vs Birds of Paradise.

These are both excellent cards but I have to go with Birds at the end. Nostalgia factors into that, sure but considering the age of Birds of Paradise, that card is still very well designed.

On the upside, though, I suppose either one winning is a good thing. This is a good matchup and either card could be considered the best Magic card ever.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Overview

The full set list has been revealed!

Let's get crackin', shall we?

My biggest disappointment is the way Convoke is used. Flight of the Equenauts is what I was hoping they would avoid, Conclave Tribunal what I hoped they'd explore.

But no: the cards that might reward us for rendering ourselves nearly defenseless for a turn just read: The regular creature you'd get, but more expensive!

Meh. At least there are a few vigilance creatures to help support it. And it has the most interesting card in the color for me: Venerated Loxodon. THAT is a risk worth taking.

On the other hand, the Mentor mechanic here seems well executed and with more depth or support than I had thought it would have. Demotion is a cool bit of flavor and mechanic; as a matter of fact, there's a lot of cool nods to worldbuilding/expansion in this set that I appreciate.

Surveil got quite a bit more support than I had thought it would. On the one hand, that's good-Blue/Black mechanics have been notoriously poor in previous Ravnica blocks-but on the other hand, you have a lot of what I called out the first time: card + mechanic stapled on. Still, it's no wonder Narcomeba got upshifted to rare in this set: having to deal with a free 1/1 flier on top of whatever spell you've just cast is a little heavy.

The Jump-Start stuff isn't very interesting but gets some decent support with cards like Murmuring Mystic-a card that could have a place in nearly any U/x spell deck, since 1/5s are good blockers. It also meshes decently with Surveil, since you can use a Jump-Start card you have milled.

Of the rest: Veldalken Mesmerist is an effect executed in a way I'm surprised I haven't seen in Blue before. The closest we come is Merrow Grimeblotter, and I expect more of this in the future. It's too elegant to ignore.

Also, what is it with the lameness of Dream Eater? Six mana for a 4/3 flier with flash sounds about right, but those other abilities just don't...blend together at all. It's a mishmash and an ugly one.

The Surveil continues...did Gruesome Menagerie really need to be a rare? Bestial Menace and Cone of Flame didn't really set things on fire. I dig the card, though and it fits really well with the U/B mechanic.

The Undergrowth mechanic has landed where I though it would: underwhelmingly. Mausoleum Secrets is exactly the kind of card I was saying we'd get: timid. Why does it have the color limitation it does? There is no good reason. It's already limited by the Undergrowth mechanic. Plus it's a flavor fail: shouldn't Mausoleum Secrets get a card from the graveyard? It's right there in the name!

Price of Fame is a thumbs up though, so is Plaguewalker and Severed Strands. Viscous Rumors seems really interesting and remarkably strong for the cost. Definitely going to keep an eye on that.

The support for Mentor deepens here and with Red's firebreathing mechanic that's perfect. I'll note the flavor win of Inescapable Blaze-having that be uncounterable was a good call.

Why doesn't the flavor text on Street Riot finish with: "So we will not obey." ? It's an equation: not happy + not safe = disobedience, not "not happy + not safe + disobedience =....."?

Goblin Cratermaker is the kind of uncommon card I want to see: not too powerful, but definitely has some toolbox effects that could make it an excellent sideboard card.

Also: Experimental Frenzy is great. Just awesome. Something new and cool to build around without being obviously broken.

Convoke is used to even less interesting effect here, heck, the most obvious card to add convoke to, Bounty of Might, is just a not good thing.. but at least we get a decent modal spell in Sprouting Renewal.

And what could add to a dull mechanic but a second one, which again, we see a color limitation on the Undergrowth mechanic on Hatchery Spider that it just doesn't need. The card costs seven mana! Let me get whatever I want!

Golgari Raiders has some potential though, Nullhide Ferox looks weird enough to work, Vigorspore Wurm has a nice bridge for some Convoke effects.

Also: Fuck Impervious Greatwurm. Buy a box promos suck. Full stop.

Here's the treasure, I hope...

Camaraderie: great card for G/W. Why doesn't it have Convoke? As a sorcery, tapping 4 creatures for 4 life and 4 cards and giving creatures +1 means that you have to make choices. Choices are interesting!

But no.

Chance for Glory gets a thumbs up (great last ditch effort card for the guild), Charnel Troll does not (why does this card work AGAINST the guild's mechanics?)

The Guildmages all seem notably not impressive this time around. Having their abilities require tapping, but with the exact same P/T stats makes them a lot less cool and those tap abilities certainly aren't more powerful to make up for it.

The 4CC guild cards have some nice flavor/power to them.

It's about here where I am noticing that Dimir cards especially have a 'modern' naming feel to them. Disinformation Campaign is not an idea I would associate with high fantasy-but the world of Ravnica allows for some space here, so I find these things fun and less immersion breaking.

Etrata the Silencer will likely be banned in Commander. It is unblockable, in colors that can protect it, with a 'you lose' condition. I love it, I think the card is super interesting and I think that it will create degenerate states for Commander.

I would love to be wrong about this: Commander games need ways to end.

I'm also so glad to see Lazav back! I thought he got killed in the last Ravnica set. No, that was Szadek and I just have a bad memory.

I hate everything about Izoni, Thousand Eyed. A 6 casting cost creature has WAY better base stats on average in the modern age, the ability is an "okayest ability" so the reward is...? This is a card designed for Commander and it will totally suck to play against. While also being entirely useless in any. other. format.

I hate it.

Skyknight Legionnaire is back! That card is great.

I'm glad the new split cards are not Fuse cards: allowing them to have their own identities means they can be more powerful and useful.

Are mechanically boring in this set. But HOLY COW are the basics beautifully reflecting the plane we're visiting in a way that few basics have before. Good job!

Overall, I feel like this is a whole lot of misses with just a few hits. Red/White seems strong, Blue/Black seems interesting and everything else feels like it's holding the hands of the stronger guilds to be worthwhile. White/Green with Mentor seems helpful. Green/Black with Surveil seems useful. Blue/Red dabbles with everyone just a touch. But W/G and G/B don't seem valuable by themselves. Convoke isn't getting much out of Red or Blue (none or few tokens to generate), Undergrowth doesn't get much out of Jump-Start so...what we have is a set that feels timid, wrapped in a package that everyone loves.

It's ok. But it isn't great.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New Frontiers

I spent the last week playing a lot of Frontiers, the latest expansion from Star Realms and while I like it overall, there's something a little strange about it.

First: this seems like a very solid set. the Machine (red) faction isn't overpowering but is still very useful-a problem that plagued the first set was Machine's general dominance.

Second, the new Star Empires (yellow) draw mechanic seems to be in great shape. The "Draw then discard" element of the ships feels fair and like it might offer a lot of room to interact with the other factions.

The Blob (green) and Trade Federation (blue) factions don't get as much to do mechanically but they do have some really flashy cards that ask players to make tactical decisions, like Pulverizer and Federation Battleship.

All in all, I think it plays really well. Not quite up to Colony Wars, my favorite base set, but fairly close! So what's the problem?

Of all the base sets I've played, Frontiers is the one that feels as though it really, really wants expansions. That isn't to suggest that it is somehow deficient, that playing Frontiers means you're playing part of a game. The experience as is works.

But it's a bit like getting a videogame and being told 'here's your experience and it's good! Buuuuuut we have some downloadable content for you right over here...."

There are ideas to expand on-particularly in the cards that want double factions to trigger-that would become a lot more useful if you added in the Assault, Combat or Stellar Allies expansions, because those cards count towards both of their respective factions. As it stands, when the double faction trigger hits it is brutal but it misses more often than not, which can be a little frustrating-a cool toy you can't have access to.

And in the meanwhile, there's the creepy looking dude in the corner asking "Whatta buyin'?"

Since I'm a fan of this game, I've got the cool expansions I want. Newer players might feel a little differently though, as if part of the game was held back.

Or they might not! I certainly did enjoy my games of Frontiers and frequently found that an exciting back-and-forth resulted more often than not.

I don't think Frontiers will convince anyone who didn't like Star Realms to begin with, but it is a pretty good set that I think rewards long time players who have expansions to add, as well as being not too complex for newer players.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Final Four Pt 1

The first matchup from the Magic bracket is Jace, The Mind Sculptor vs Black Lotus. (Voting here:

And since I'm traveling this week, the bracket is what I'm going to talk about. 

I wish this wasn't my choice, honestly. These are two broken cards, Lotus irreversibly so, Jace only OK because Magic continued to evolve and I feel as if either one being rewarded is giving a prize to cards that were poorly thought out. 

However, Black Lotus came about in the days before R&D really had the knowledge they have now. Jace...well, everyone I read, and my own opinions on the card, were that it was broken and unfun. 

So I'm going to go with Black Lotus. 

Also, the creator of the bracket has asked for donations to a non-profit, if people have been enjoying the experience. Maybe you've got a couple extra bucks.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Master 5 Magics

They've released the list of mechanics for Guilds of Ravnica so let's take a look!

Surveil, the U/B mechanic is something that I wish it allowed players to look at opponent's libraries. THAT feels more House Dimir, honestly-knowing someone else's plans. However as much as I like that notion, the fateseal element of that is bad news. Many players really wouldn't like having their deck manipulated like that but it also seems really, really powerful. Maybe if it milled both players? Or Fatesealed both players-I look at the top two cards of my library and yours and either put them back in any order or mill them but I have to make the same choice for both players.

 My dreams aside, this one will depend a LOT on the support it can get. By itself, the mechanic doesn't do anything but filter cards. That's fine on a card like Opt, but less awesome when that effect costs you 3 mana for a 1/1.

Jump-Start is the mechanic that has the most reach, I think: the discard effect can play with other mechanics (Madness, Undergrowth, Dredge, Flashback) and getting to replay a spell is a very powerful thing, as seen by Snapcaster Mage. Removing the restriction that Retrace had means you can use Jump-Start at any point in the game, where Retrace was really limited to reuse at the late game. Plus, being U/R means it's in the right guild.

The Golgari mechanic, Undergrowth is underwhelming. That's the second underwhelming mechanic from G/B in Ravnica. It is, as Scavenge was before it, a Very Strong Reaction to Dredge and not making that mistake again. The fact that it's card type dependent is not a plus (except for flavor), the restriction being a limiting problem similar to Threshold's and I just finished explaining why Jump-Start has more flexibility than retrace. The wording suggests that it's only going to be useful in late game situations, if at all. If it's a cool comeback mechanic, awesome! I think the game needs more of them. But I'm not currently impressed and the cards they've shown aren't very encouraging.

Still, I have only seen one card and I'd be happy to be wrong about it.

Mentor is something that I think will payoff in Ravnica Allegiance when the Simic mechanic (U/G) is revealed. It's not bad, but it isn't interesting at all. This is, sadly, what we've come to expect from the R/W guild and it's a shame. That color combination needs more to do-red especially- but every time all that players are given are 'attack with creatures'.

Convoke is safe: they've done it multiple times and nobody's ever broken it. It was popular enough to bring back so hopefully they'll try and use it in novel ways. At least, that's what I'd like to see and one of the preview cards, Conclave Tribunal, is only the second enchantment with Convoke. So that gives me some hope!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

25 Years

This is a pretty sweet retrospective on Magic. 25 years is a long time to endure, I've been playing since...1995? Jeeze.

But the wrap up for Inalla is coming, I think and it'll be on to the next deck soon.