Mokeying around at local FNM

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I’m currently coming down with a cold, and the cold forced me to cancel my much-anticipated Magic-related plans, which sucks, however, it did allow me to play in the local FNM this week, which happened to be Legacy. At first I was excited to try Canadian Threshold with Hooting Mandrills, but I got cold feet and was about to sleeve up Team America instead. Fortunately, my friend saved me when he texted me and asked to borrow my Underground Seas and a few other cards, which settled me on Canadian Threshold. My list mirrored the one I proposed when I discussed adding Hooting Mandrills to the deck, and it can be found in this post. I ended up playing three monkeys and a Fire // Ice in the flex slot.

Eight people showed up, which meant three rounds of sweet Legacy. The metagame breakdown was as follows:

1 Canadian Threshold (me)
2 Elves
1 Merfolk
1 ANT
1 Punishing Jund
1 DeathBlade
1 Grixis Delver

Round 1: Grixis Delvergurmagangler.full
I first thought I was up against Sneak and Show, since that is my opponent’s usual deck, though he has played both RUG and BUG Delver in the past. I keep a disruption-heavy hand to be able to counter his early bombs, but with no beater. His first land is a Volcanic Island, but quickly followed by a Delver of Secrets. I deny him mana while I cantrip into a removal for his threat, and I win on the back of my own Delver of Secrets, after drawing like three Stifles.

I board out Force of Will in favor of Pyroblasts.

In game two, he Thoughtseizes me and takes a Tarmogoyf while leaving Hooting Mandrills in hand. This comes back to bite him, quite literally, when I cast the monkeys on turn three, for a single mana, while leaving up mana to Stifle his stuff. The monkeys go all the way. Woo!

1-0 (2-0)

After scooping, he reveals his secret tech – Gurmag Angler! Clearly, the inferior Delve creature compared to its monkey cousins, but still very respectable.

 

Round 2 – Merfolktrue-namenemesis.full
I think this match-up is pretty unfavourable. but in game one, I get a pretty good start. I drop a Delver of Secrets who flips instantly, and I play a second one on my third turn. Meanwhile, he has a Master of the Pearl Trident, and a couple of Mutavaults. He also casts a Phantasmal Image and copies my flipped Delver of Secrets. I cantrip looking for removal for his flier, but find none, and reason that I’m the beatdown since he has all the inevitability in the world. I offer the trade and he takes it. My second Delver of Secrets refuse to flip, showing a Polluted Delta twice in a row, and after he casts both a True-Name Nemesis and a second Master of the Pearl Trident, he swings for 16 in a single turn. Ouch.

I board in Pyroblasts yet again, along with Krosan Grip in case he has Back to Basics.

I get a great start in the second game and he stumbles a bit with what looked like a clunky draw. I win quite quickly with Hooting Mandrills. Woo!

In game three, he keeps a greedy one-lander, and I again get a pretty damn good start, and win with Hooting Mandrills again. Woo!

2-0 (4-1)

Round 3 – Punishing Jund
Okay, yet another quite miserable match-up. Games one and two are fairly uneventful, I open a hand of two removals and five lands and ship it, find no lands in either my six or five, and he wins the first game with little struggle. I board in Submerge, and win game two fairly easily on the back of a good draw and some monkeys. Woo!

Game three is very grindy, and grindy games favour him a lot. I probably make a mistake when I let Abrupt Decay destroy my last threat, a flipped Delver of Secrets, while sitting on two Submerges and no cantrips. Using one of the Submerges to keep the pressure up seems like a really bad idea, but on the other hand, I had no other out to win the game. A few turns later, after some more grind, he drops Choke, with no response from me. I have to topdeck into more lands to cast creatures, and after he trades down 2-for-1 twice against my Hooting Mandrills with block + burn, I’m out of gas and he wins through a Deathrite Shaman.

Losing such a close game is always a bummer, but it was a very close game with some very exciting final turns. He was down to less than five life when I died.

2-1 (5-3)

2-1 meant second place, and after two fairly difficult match-ups and a Delver mirror, I can’t be too sad. The MVP for the night were definitely Hooting Mandrills, and I think I will try the full set over True-Name Nemesis next time. Multiples were never an issue, and it’s a very good beater.

Monkeys for life.

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Shots fired at local EDH

Ojutai EDH

Since the local running league is officially over, and will be concluded in a T8 Rise of the Eldrazi draft at some later date (yours truly is competing and currently scrambling for strategy articles – are walls any good?), Monday night meant no tournament, but time for EDH instead. This, naturally suits me just fine.

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EDH-jerk #1.

I sat down with Korlash, Heir to Blackblade which I wrote about in “Erebos Dethroned“. The opposition was, in turn, Nekusar, the Mind Razer (feel-bad combo), Alesha, Who Smiles at Death (awesome warrior-tribe aggro), and Kaalia of the Vast (the usual suspects). Nekusar was the quickest out of the gate in the first game, followed closely by Alesha, who – for some reason – came at me first, even if I hadn’t done anything at all. Through my oratory skills and acute sense of diplomacy (i.e. whining like a baby), I convinced Alesha that Nekusar was by far the greater threat, that I had seen the deck in question before just kill the table out of nowhere, and that chipping away at his health would be the safe move, since some of the draw-effects and damage there-of are symmetrical. Once she had chipped away a bit at Nekusar, I found myself at a comfortable 26 life with a nice grip of cards and plenty of stuff to do. Kaalia was lacking in haste enablers and thus, didn’t come off as a huge threat in this instance either.

Nekusar wasn’t to be out-done and dropped Sorin Markov and reset my life to 10. As the Warrior army grew, I felt I had to do something about it, and the turn before I was dead on board, I flash-backed Increasing Ambition for Cabal Coffers and Exsanguinate. I included the latter in the deck just for the night, since the group in question is too losly knit to realise cards like Exsanguinate and indeed Sorin Markov constitute some of the worst parts of douchebag EDH, and I got to play with my broken cards as well. I generated some fifteen mana and outright killed Nekusar with Exsanguinate – or rather I would have if Alesha hadn’t burned him out in response, meaning I only gained 26 life instead of 39. Korlash could quite easily be sent out into the fray and finish off both Alesha and Kaalia, though they did take a nice chunk of my life total before they died. Kaalia showed me an Earthquake as we scooped up, and that he had me on lethal had I not won that turn. Phew!

sorinmarkov.hq

EDH-jerk #2.

In the second game, I was hated out quite quickly and Nekusar killed me with Skyscribing + Phyrexian Tyranny, with the help of Sorin Markov again. I had a slow hand and was never really in the game, in fact – when I was at 9 life, the only spell I had played that game before dying was Sudden Spoiling for a fog effect with no added benefit. Yeah, should’ve mulliganed, probably.

Nekusar died the turn after me, as Alesha burned him out, and after a slug fest between the two Mardu coloured generals, Kaalia came out on top through several huge creatures, including a Zurgo Helmsmasher stolen with Sepulchral Primordial (time paradox!).

Kaalia bolted the scene, which left the three of us to play a third and final game for the night. I chose to break out my Azorius Pillowfort deck, which has undergone a lot of changes since I wrote about it. Most notably, I’ve swapped generals – to Ojutai, the Soul of Winter. I really like the dragons from Fate Reforged, and Ojutai was the first one I got my hands on, which prompted me to make the updates to the deck. Augustine is still in the deck, though not at the helm.

winterorb.hq

EDH-jerk #3.

The game started, again, with Nekusar trying to commit double-murder suicide through various nasty enchantments and artifacts, including the ever-annoying Teferi’s Puzzle Box which made it impossible to plan ahead. I hid from Alesha behind a Propaganda which directed her attention mostly to Nekusar, and after he was eliminated, I established a board state with, among other things, plenty of mana-generating artifacts, Winter Orb, Propaganda, Rhystic Study, Kismet and lots of lands. I had cast Winter Orb at a proper time, and Alesha was more or less out of mana. Ojutai herself flew in five times for the victory.

“Are you having as much fun as I’m having?”

My opponent did take the loss very well, and wasn’t sour about losing to such “boring” tactics. I don’t want to dwell too much on Ojutai, I’m not even sure if I want to play the deck for any amount of time, simply because it does cause some feel-bad for the opponent. That said, it does punish ramp quite well, and against several opponents, it’s one of the few ways to play control.

Getting to play three games of EDH on a Monday night is as much fun as one can have, at least while still wearing pants, and coming back with two victories makes it even better. I’m also working on a quite different EDH project, which I will write about at a later date.

Falcon Punching F13NM

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Perhaps playing a high-variance game on Friday the 13th isn’t the best thing to do, but yesterday was Fate-Khans-Khans FNM at the local card shop, and I wasn’t going to miss it come hell or high water, or unlucky incidents.

Temur has long been my favourite clan on Tarkir. I really love most of the art on the cards, the wintery scenes are just fantastic, and I like most of the lore surrounding the clan. The Temur are nomadic, but out of necessity – contrary to Mardu, who seem to be nomadic on account of being too lazy to build more than a single city. During my latest big sealed event, I really wanted to play Temur, and I opened an Icy Blast as my first rare, but the pool, in the end, was a lot more Mardu than Temur. I did 6-0 the swiss and end up in the T4, so I can’t complain about the pool, but missing out on Temur was a bit of a bummer.

In drafts, I usually lean towards drafting aggressive decks with low curves in this format. So many people draft lots of the gain lands and durdle around with their mana in order to play bomby rares from every clan they can pick up, meaning having a two-color aggro deck (like WR or BW) punishes these strategies very effectively, and it sometimes just nets free wins. Preying on people stumbling on mana is awesome in a format where people often play three colours, and sometimes even four or five.

savagepunch.fullLast night, however, I had a goal in mind. I was going to draft Savage Punch! My idea was to cast a turn three Alpine Grizzly or Gore Swine, Savage Punch their morph and hit them for 6, or Temur Battle Rage when they block my 4/x with their morph. I opened Sandsteppe Mastodon in my Fate Reforged pack, which was otherwise quite weak with no better uncommon, so I shrugged and drafted it although it has been written off by many limited experts. I think it can be quite good anyway, ten power for seven mana, often distributed over two creatures, is quite good in my opinion. I followed up by picking some more green and red cards that don’t necessarily commit me to the Falcon Punch deck, Temur SabertoothHunt the Weak (almost always feels quite good at least), an Outpost Siege and some great-to-decent blue cards, Aven Surveyor, Etheral Ambush, Cunning Strike etc. Only a single Temur Battle Rage, but I wasn’t too concerned – if my plan failed, I could perhaps fall back on just a generic Temur deck.

The Savage Punches didn’t come in Khans of Tarkir, however, and even though I didn’t pass a single one, I only ended up with two. In the end, the deck was a bit of a mess, half a Savage Punch deck, half a regular Temur deck –

snowhornrider.full

“The worst” of the five common tri-color morph creatures. Still pretty damn good!

1 Aven Surveyor
1 Mystic of the Hidden Way
1 Glacial Stalker
1 Summit Prowler
1 Ainok Guide
2 Alpine Grizzly
1 Temur Sabertooth
1 Pine Walker
1 Destructor Dragon
1 Sandsteppe Mastodon
1 Woolly Loxodon
1 Icefeather Aven
2 Snowhorn Rider

1 Crippling Chill
1 Temur Battle Rage
1 Barrage of Boulders
1 Bring Low
1 Outpost Siege
2 Savage Punch
1 Hunt the Weak

2 Rugged Highlands
2 Thornwood Falls
7 Forest
3 Mountain
3 Island

The land distribution might be incorrect, I left the basics in the shop’s land station. I lost in the last round to WR with a really low curve, when my mana didn’t cooperate. We played a couple more games after, and he beat me soundly again, despite my mana working properly, so the loss was well deserved. Only afterwards did I realise the irony that I played a durdly and slow deck with iffy mana and got beat by a low-curved two-color deck.

2-1 isn’t much to complain about, even though I missed prizes on tiebreakers (Friday the 13th indeed), but I still had a blast, I finally got to draft Temur towards the end of Khans’ lifespan, and Snowhorn Rider is such a boss.

falcon punch!

Erebos dethroned

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Drawing cards might be second only to pure tutoring when it comes to “most broken things you can do with your commander in EDH”. Killing an opponent in a single hit is far behind that, but still pretty darn powerful, and a lot more fun! There are plenty of commanders who can support a voltron strategy even in mono-black, some of the most notable include Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief, Volrath the Fallen and Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon. While all these three surely has their own merits, Volrath come with built-in card-disadvantage, Drana tends to tie up mana and Skittles attracts hate in ways few other generals can.

My choice, thus, fell upon Korlash, Heir to Blackblade, the blackest of all black knights. He might strike korlash,heirtoblackblade.hqone as odd as a commander, his Grandeur  ability is useless on account of the singleton nature of the format, he lacks built-in evasion and his only built-in protection is all but negligible. He is a Nightmare sans Flying, but at a much lower cost. This means that when it’s time to pull the trigger on somebody at the table, it’s fairly easy to resolve any spell that will take care of any blockers, cast Korlash himself, equip a pair of boots and a suitable weapon and swing for the fences.

My new mono-black EDH deck employs all these tools – a bunch of sweepers to keep the table clean from creatures, some delicious card-draw and a trio of lash effects (Nightmare Lash above, Strata Scythe, and Lashwrithe) for the spectacular finish. Drawing cards was never the issue with the mono-black deck, and for now, the black knight himself gets to sit at the helm. This time, however, it’s not just a flesh wound.

black knight

My Korlash EDH on TappedOut.net.

Mana Burn #13 – Drown in Sorrow

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Hello kids! Are you in the mood for some Mana Burn (the native webcomic of Goyf Wars, brought to you by me – your friendly neighbourhood Grim Lavamancer)?

I thought you might just be! As usual, just click on the image below to read the comic.

Click to read-13It might not seem like it, but this one was actually one of the most difficult to write as of yet. I try to give all of the planeswalkers equal screentime so I figured it was time to write a single panel one about Green.

Turns out that was more difficult than I would have thought. As we have discussed earlier Green isn’t exactly the easiest colour when it comes to motivations, philosophy, interactions and stuff. As a consequence I went through several drafts and concepts which I scrapped half way through until I came up with this one (I figured that Green probably knows how difficult she is to understand and is somewhat depressed over it).

It’s a bit of a swing and miss, but probably better than nothing. But hey, I think you might like the next one a bit more!

Have a good week my friends!

Failed Resurrection?

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A while back, I wrote a post regarding the demise of Nimble Mongoose as a competitively viable creature in Legacy, due to Treasure Cruise‘s superiority as a graveyard-based one-mana spell. With the latter now finally banished from the format, things are looking up for our Mongoose friend again, no? Maybe not. There are more contenders for his spot in Canadian Threshold than ever – primarily, in my opinion, Hooting Mandrills. Thus, I feel the need to as objectively as possible compare the candidates with each other – bearing in mind Nimble Mongoose is one of my favourite creatures of all time – and lastly present a list with the new candidate included.

The similarities:
+- Both creatures are green, which means neither pitch to Force of Will, but neither dies to Pyroblast. There’s not much more to say about it, really.

+ Both creatures cost one mana to cast. This is a modified truth, really, since Hooting Mandrills might cost slightly more, but shouldn’t for most of the time.

+ Both creatures are quite large by Legacy standards, but Hooting Mandrills is larger which matters quite a bit, as we will see.

– Both are susceptible to graveyard hosers, but in slightly different ways. Hooting Mandrills won’t care if someone resolves a Rest in Peace after it has hit the battlefield, but Nimble Mongoose can be cast in an emergency even if Rest in Peace is in play.

Nimble Mongoose:nimblemongoose.hq
+ Immune to spot removal in all shapes and forms. This is especially great against decks like Miracles who will have to use Terminus to remove the threat, and can’t rely on building card advantage through Swords to Plowshares + Snapcaster Mage. Miracles is one of the best decks in the format, and I predict it will remain so after the bannings, meaning this upside is not to be underestimated.

+ Casting two is almost as easy as casting one. Multiples of Nimble Mongoose is just fine, and as long as there are seven cards in the graveyard, they all benefit, contrary to Hooting Mandrills.

+ Easier to cast on turn one and two, which means it might be better against decks like Goblins who will want to swing with a Goblin Lackey on turn two. Granted, this is a small upside, since Goblins are rare these days, but if you attend a large tournament without byes, you might just run into it in the early rounds.

– Dies more easily to Pernicious Deed, Engineered Explosives etc. Admittedly, this is a minor thing, since these cards are quite rare, but there will be match-ups where it’s relevant.

– Will need seven cards in the graveyard to be fully powered up.

Hooting Mandrills:hootingmandrills.full
+ Is bigger than Nimble Mongoose, and that extra +1/+1 matters quite a bit in Legacy – it won’t be chump-blocked to death by a flipped Delver of Secrets, it will trade with a Batterskull token in an emergency, and so on.

+ Trample is extremely relevant for playing the tempo game, since Hooting Mandrills can’t be chump blocked effectively by tokens, or random x/1’s and x/2’s who populate the format.

+ Only needs five cards in the graveyard to be cast initially, and is always fully powered when in play.

+ More or less immune to the sweepers mentioned above, though again, it’s a minor thing.

+ Might make opposing Deathrite Shamans and Tarmogoyfs worse, in rare cases.

– Loses to Swords to Plowshares, Maze of Ith and other targeted removal not named Lightning Bolt or Abrupt Decay. This is quite relevant, since it turns quite difficult match-ups (Miracles, Death and Taxes, Lands) into nightmarish match-ups.

– Multiple copies in hand are more or less useless. This is also quite relevant, since Canadian Threshold generally wants to play spells reactively and save Brainstorms for as long as possible – using one to shuffle away chaff is fine in most cases, but having both extra uncastable creatures and extra lands in the deck as dead cards seems bad to me.

– Can potentially be awkward with your own Tarmogoyfs, but it’s unlikely.

Conclusion:
There is no clear winner between these two, and testing is surely needed. I don’t want to play the full set without cards to specifically fuel the monkeys, but adding a 19th land, a fetchland, to the standard list and augmenting the creature base with True-Name Nemesis is appealing to me. This gives us the following list:

9 fetchlands
4 Wasteland
3 Tropical Island
3 Volcanic Island

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Tarmogoyf
2-3 Hooting Mandrills
1-2 True-Name Nemesis

4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
4 Stifle
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
4 Lightning Bolt
5 flex slots (Forked Bolt, Spell Pierce, Spell Snare, etc.)

I think adding another fetchland to help with both padding the graveyard and cast True-Name Nemesis is the way to go with this creature base. Testing will tell if it’s better than the old version of 4 Delver of Secrets, 4 Nimble Mongoose, 4 Tarmogoyf.

What do you think of these green beaters? Which will come out on top? Leave a comment!

Mana Burn #12 – Time Walk

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Right, kids. It’s your favourite time of the week. It’s time for Mana Burn the native webcomic of Goyf Wars, brought to you by me – your friendly neighbourhood Grim Lavamancer.

I was thinking about maybe writing a theme song to the comic, something fantastic, like an awesome 80’s power ballad. But then I decided against it. Because of reasons.

Anyway, here’s this weeks comic. Just click on the image below and allow yourself be semi-entertained for about a minute and a half.

Click to read-12

I’m not sure if you have noticed as of late but there are rarely any hate cards between the enemy colours any more, at least not the really crazy ones like Boil, Chill, Anarchy, Conversion and stuff like that which really messes up someone who plays a certain colour. I like to think that this is the reason why.

Oh, and who’s the girl in panel 9 you ask? Check out some old flavour text on some classic red cards, if you don’t know right off the bat. There’s an imaginary cookie for you if you can guess who she is.

Until next week my friends!