Reaching Threshold at FNM

nimble mongoose banner

I’ve been missing FNM’s a lot lately, my job takes a lot of time, my fiancé and I are planing our wedding, and we’re in the process of relocating. Through some miracle, however, I managed to get away Friday evening this week to play the local FNM, and this week was Legacy. I chose to bring Canadian Threshold (which you might call RUG Delver, if you’re wrong).

My list can be found here on TappedOut.net. In short, it’s bog standard RUG, it’s my favourite competitive deck of all time, and I chose to play Nimble Mongoose this time, over Hooting Mandrills, partly because of nostalgic reasons, and partly because I think Nimble Mongoose is viable. I also knew we’d have at least one Miracles player and at least one Grixis Delver player, so Shroud would come in handy.

deathriteshaman.hqRound 1: Punishing Jund. Usually, Jund is a pretty terrible match-up, and I lost against this player last time we played, but for budgetary reasons, he doesn’t play with Tarmogoyf, meaning his deck is a bit slower than usually. That said, out of all the green decks in Legacy not named Elves, I think Punishing Jund is the one that can most easily replace Tarmogoyf with Scavenging Ooze and other cards promoting a grindy game plan. In game one, he mulligans to six and stumbles a bit on mana. These are situations where Canadian Threshold shines, and I outrace a 6/6 Scavenging Ooze for the win, about a turn before he would’ve stabilized.

In game two I have to tripple-counter a Dismember targeting my Tarmogoyf since I have only soft counters in hand, no other threats and no cantrips to look for some. Dismember did get countered, and Tarmogoyf went the distance while I burned his potential blockers.

Round 2: Sneak and Show. This match was pretty miserable, honestly. I mulligan to five in game one, mulling a 5-land, 2-soft counters hand first, and a 0-lander second, and I keep a hand of land, threat, 2 cantrips and a soft counter. He goes turn one double Lotus Petal, land, Show and Tell. I put in a land, he puts in Emrakul.

I board into lots of countermagic over some burn spells and win game two off of a single Nimble Mongoose while drawing more or less only countermagic.

In game three, he plays a turn two Blood Moon with Force of Will back up. GG.

delverofsecrets.hqRound 3: Grixis Delver. I lose game one after getting Wastelanded out, but I turn it around and win two quite exciting, close games. He had some awesome cards like Dig Through Time and Tasigur, but Nimble Mongoose was difficult for him to handle. I almost bought it when he two-for-one’d me with Engineered Explosives blowing up a Nimble Mongoose and an unflipped Delver of Secrets, but I topdecked better than him and won the long Delver mirror this time.

2-1 was good enough for second place on tiebreakers, and I walked away with a promo and a booster for my troubles. I also traded for a new EDH project I’m working on. All in all, a really sweet evening.

Unlimited power (Tasigur analysis pt 4)

daed drop banner

Sultai is a weird clan to me. Out of the five clans of Tarkir, I like Temur the best for the flavour and the artwork, but I also like Abzan for the same reasons, plus the colours. Jeskai and Mardu are both “meh” to me, but they both have historic precedence to some extent. The one I generally don’t like is Sultai, even if it has the greatest out of the five wedges when it comes to colour combination. I just don’t very much like the art and the style of the clan, the ethics (or lack thereof) can best be described as “comic-book villain evil” to me. There are, in all seriousness, more clearly motivated villains in Captain Planet, and they seemed to mostly be about screwing with the environment for some sort of intrinsic value.

That said, Tasigur intrigues me as both a commander and as a comic-book villain. The latter aspect makes me want to win with big, overcomplicated, evil spells. Mostly with Villainous Wealth, but there are other cards as well. In fact, in my current Tasigur build, there are six cards that are in the deck solely to create a winning board state. In this post, I have ranked them from most- to least important for the deck’s strategy, and I wanted to expand upon all of them.

villainouswealth.fullVillainous WealthThis card personifies Sultai for me, and it is just absurd in EDH. Genesis Wave is pretty good, but forces you to run enough permanents to make it worthwhile. Villainous Wealth does not demand anything at that, the only thing it demands is knowledge enough to know which opponent to point it at. I have not won the game when resolving this for X=7 or more. It is a tall order, but it can be done in the right shell, and I believe Tasigur Control is the right shell.

Sword of Feast and FamineAnother completely absurd card in many EDH decks, Sword of Feast and Famine both speeds up Tasigur’s clock from six to four turns for the kill, and it allows for powerful plays like activating Tasigur multiple times in your own turn, swing, hold mana for countermagic. It is a necessity in Tasigur, even more-so than other EDH decks.

Rite of Replication“Wait a minute!” you might say, “Didn’t you include this card on your Top 5 EDH cards that makes me want to flip the table post? And on the number two slot?”

riteofreplication.hqIt’s true, I did include this blasted card on my Top 5 cards that make me want to flip the table post, but I’m nothing if not a complete spineless hypocrite. Also, everyone else is playing it at home, and worse stuff, so until everyone else stops, I won’t. In all seriousness, Rite of Replication is very, very powerful when paired with the proper creature, but I don’t think it’s quite as ridiculous in this deck as it was in my friend’s Ink-Treader Nephilim deck. I know it’s not a Legendary creature. I pointed out this fact ad nauseam.

Time WarpI’m really not a fan of Time Walk effects, but as long as there’s not much recursion, they’re generally not overpowered. In general, they are better in 1 vs 1 than in multiplayer, since casting these spells will paint a big target on the controller’s head. In Tasigur, it’s pretty good since it allows for another untap step, when at around 10 mana, using all mana to cast something good, like Tasigur himself, the Sword above, and then Time Warp:ing into an untap step for more shenanigans or countermana is pretty good. It is nowhere near imperative, however.

Grave TitanGood Old Gravy Train is not really as powerful as its green counterpart, but still pretty good. Ten power for six mana is great, and if he can be suited up with a pair of Lightning Greaves or combined with Time Warp, it can get out of hand. It very rarely wins out of nowhere, but it is one of the best beaters in the deck and deserves to be mentioned here.

ExsanguniateOh, how the mighty have fallen. I have talked smack about this card on so many occasions, and it is such an easy win it makes me cringe that I play with this card at all. However, it is extremely rare that it actually kills a player at all, it has only happened one or two times, but what it does is it is a panic button that puts Tasigur back into the front of the line. Having no access to the absurd mana-generators of mono-black, Tasigur will have to rely on mini-Exsangunates to drain everyone for around 5. It comes with the same issue as Time Warp above, which is why I consider it less-than-broken in this shell. It is pretty great if combined with something that lets me untap my lands, but otherwise, I think it’s quite fair against two or three opponents.

And that’s it- these are Tasigur’s six win-cons. If the tuck rule was still in place, I think the list would look a bit different, with probably more win-cons, or an infinite combo, but as it stands, Tasigur is more than capable of winning on commander damage against most foes. At least in the late game.

Deck Spotlight: Modern RUG Delver

Delver of Secrets banner

 

Story time: A few years back, my friends and I were attending Borås Spelkonvent (BSK, lit. Borås Gaming Convention), a gaming convention with Magic events traditionally focused on the eternal formats. Although I don’t consider Modern to be an eternal format, they had scheduled one on Saturday morning anyway, when there was nothing else to do.

After losing in the quarterfinals to Show and Tell combo with RUG the night before, I was done with Legacy for the evening and my friends and I went to the apartment we had borrowed for the weekend to brew me a Modern deck. With not a lot of cards in our disposal, I decided to play RUG Delver in Modern as well, and this is what we came up with:

4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
2 Breeding Pool
6 Island
2 Forest
1 Mountain

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Young Pyromancer

4 Serum Visions
3 Gitaxian Probe
2 Spell Snare
3 Mana Leak
2 Cryptic Command
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Burst Lightning
1 Izzet Charm
1 Electrolyze
2 Vedalken Shackles

SB:
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
3 Threads of Disloyalty
4 Ancient Grudge
2 Combust
4 Blood Moon

We did do some testing in the very early hours of the morning after I had sleeved the deck up, but the testing was done exclusively against my friend’s UWR control deck, and I concluded that the deck was a) awful against his deck, but b) the deck fared much better with Thrun and Blood Moon in the main deck. I pondered putting them in the main deck, but decided against it in the end.

My matches, in short:

Round 1 – Mono-B Pox, 2-1

Round 2 – Twin, 2-1

Round 3 – 4C Deathrite, 2-0

Round 4 – Tron, 2-1

Round 5 – Pod, ID for 1st place, half a box and a break for some food.

My friend was royally pissed and after the obligatory rounds of high-five, we went and played a real format (Legacy) instead. I didn’t win that tournament. I only won the tournament where I didn’t care about the format, the deck or the prize pool (Theros boosters, which we mini-mastered on site). So why am I even typing this.

It’s not just the bragging, a year or so later a deck called Blue Moon surfaced, meaning it took the rest of the format a year to figure out that Blood Moon is bonkers when everyone is greedy and playing 15+ non-basics in their lists. It was a good time, even if Blue Moon fell off the radar pretty quickly.

Get with the times,  and friends!

My EDH ward

Skullbriar banner

Some time back, I wrote about a weekend full of Magic with my younger brother, who happens to live abroad these days. When, after a weekend of reminiscing, he went back home, he left me his two Magic decks in my ward: a Legacy deck, and an EDH Skullbriar deck.

I want to refrain from writing about the Legacy deck for some time here, but I want to linger a bit on Skullbriar. The list can be found here: Skullbriar on TappedOut.net. On the surface, it is two things: a collection of some of the best black and green cards available in EDH around 2012, which is when my brother moved and unfortunately left our play group, and it is also a fun, zombie tribal deck.

In reality, Skullbriar is a bit of a different beast. The tutoring in black present in the deck (Runescarred Demon, Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor) can find both some of the most flexible answers available in the game (Maelstrom Pulse, Pernicious Deed, Putrefy) as well as some really objectively powerful cards (Sorin Markov, Sword of Feast and Famine, Geth, Lord of the Vault). On top of that, Skullbriar is a frightening commander, honestly.

skullbriar,thewalkinggrave.hqIn the olden days, when my brother designed and played this deck, getting rid of Skullbriar was no harder than getting rid of most other commanders – a simple Spell Crumple, Oblation, Chaos Warp or other tuck spell would more or less permanently remove him from the action, and bouncing him with a random Cryptic Command would reset the zombie to its original non-frightening 1/1 state. These days, he’s very easy to get to a 4/4 or 5/5 before all the other players are caught up, and then, the removal suite in the deck, along with things like Shizo, Death’s Storehouse and Zombie Master will keep him attacking freely into at least parts of the table.

Skullbriar these days
If I was to build a Skullbriar from scratch today, I’d probably take it in a different direction than my brother’s deck – not a strictly better one mind you – but a different one. With the tuck rule gone from EDH, Skullbriar is one of the cheapest generals that could pull off a Voltron win. He lacks the raw power of other popular Voltron commanders, like Rafiq, Skittles or Uril, but he will probably not draw as much hate, he comes down much earlier than the others, and he can be quite easily re-cast if he gets removed. Built-in Haste is quite rare among reasonable commanders and it means he needs even less hand-holding, and he’s hard to counter.

What do you think of the deck? What do you think of Skullbriar in general? Leave a comment!

Monday Night Ghoulcalling

gisa banner

A while back, in anticipation of my brother’s long-awaited homecoming, I built two decks, Stitcher Geralf and Ghoucaller Gisa. I liked both of them quite a bit, and kept them even after homecoming was over. Tonight was the first night I busted out Gisa since that weekend. We were only three people at the table this time around, and one of my friends left all of his stuff at home, so I lent him my brother’s Skullbriar deck. The copy of Skullbriar himself is in German (my brother has a thing for non-English languages in Magic), but after sorting out what he did to the table, we were off to the races.

Aside Skullbriar and Gisa, the third at the table was Ghave, Guru of Spores, so lots of beatdown to be sure. It turned out that Ghave was built mostly from stuff he had at home, some staples to be sure, not optimized, but neither is Gisa and Skullbriar is not up-to-date.

bloodchiefascension.hqIn both games we played, Ghave started off with a turn one Bloodchief Ascension, although the second time it was because I didn’t properly explain the partial paris mulligan rule, since I was on the phone. It just so happens that that card is really good in EDH, even more so when you’re up against decks that either wants to sacrifice stuff – Gisa, or decks that happens to put things in the graveyard as it goes along – most decks, Skullbriar not an exception.

Skullbriar was really aggro in both games, as Skullbriar tends to be, but since Bloodchief Ascension was in play, he couldn’t hit me too much in the first game, else it would hop to life and start to make us both bleed. I was stuck drawing a bunch of mana. After  beating down quite a bit on Ghave, who was manascrewed, for balance, and while only sending some small dudes my way, I retaliated and turned on Bloodchief Ascension to get things going. That turned Skullbriar’s attention on me, and in one of his attack steps, I made the play of the night to me: my board was Gisa, Cabal Coffers, Deserted Temple and a bunch of Swamps. I cast Wake the Dead, for X=4, returning all of my things to the battlefield, among them a Nantuko Shade. Using the rest of the mana, I made the Nantuko Shade a 20/19 and after all blocks, I sacrificed it to Gisa to make 20 Zombies. I won two turns later, with the horde.

fleetfeathersandals.hqIn the second game, I got a much better start with a more even spells-to-lands ratio. However, Ghave had Bloodchief Ascension immediately, which shut off large parts of my deck. Very early in the game, I had a chance to tutor for Unstable Obelisk, my only out, but failed to recognize the threat from Bloodchief Ascension and got something stupid instead, I think it was Phyrexian Reclamation (which is pretty bad when there’s an active Bloodchief Ascension on the other side of the table). I eventually, at a mere 13 life, clear the board with a Living Death which would put me on 9 thanks to Bloodchief Asencion but it would get me back a bunch of neat creatures, while Ghave would get only Ob Nixilis, the Fallen and Skullbriar would be left with an empty board. Ghave, however, flew over my creatures and killed me with Ob Nixilis after he played and equipped Fleetfeather Sandals. Epic.

Ghave won that game, which is just fine by me. I made two errors in my judgment, and clearly didn’t deserve to win. Also, the thought of a big, scary demon, furious over his fate and suffering, strapping on a pair of f*cking winged sandals and going to town on the opponents cracks me up.

All in all, a pretty great night for some EDH!

Jacob Wilson’s story

Today, Vice released an episode as part of their “American Obsessions” series, this one is called “The Mystical Universe of Magic: the Gathering” and it details, among other things, Jacob Wilson’s hard work towards becoming a PT Champion. I just finished watching it myself, and I really liked it.

In parallell to Jacob Wilson playing at a Pro Tour, juxtaposed are two brothers who have been playing Magic for longer than Jacob Wilson’s life, and their passion for Vintage. The stark difference, along with competent editing, makes for an enjoyable watch.

If you have half an hour to spare, I highly recommend seeing the documentary.

Link to the video in full.

Tasigur’s Court (Tasigur analysis pt 3)

tasigur banner Links to the first two parts of my Tasigur analysis: Part 1, Part 2. As I stated in my first post, part of what makes Tasigur great is diplomatic play, and I mean great as in both “powerful” and “fun”. To be honest, he’s the best out of the BUG generals I’ve played – meaning all sans Sidisi herself, and I don’t see myself playing her ever, really. That said, there are times when the table is level, or maybe it’s clear that Tasigur is the one who’s behind, and in those cases, it might be difficult to forge alliances. Alliances are brokered between players of roughly equal strength in response to a third party’s perceived threat. Feel free to quote me on that. Recognising the problem, I decided to kill two creatures with one removal and add some cards that use my graveyard as a resource, meaning they were powered up by Tasigur’s activation and also restricting my opponents’ choices.

The Delve cards: Delve is an excellent ability, proven by Tombstalker in the past and Treasure Cruise in more recent times.  In fact, the former almost made the list early on, an evasive beater with Delve is great, but in the end Tombstalker is just a 5/5, not very impressive by EDH standards. Without equipment to support him, he didn’t make the cut. These cards did, however:

1 Dig Through Timedigthroughtime.full
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Murderous Cut
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Necropolis Fiend

Technically, Skeletal Scrying isn’t a Delve card, but it is damn close, and it’s so powerful it truly belongs in the deck. In fact, I’d say it belongs in most black EDH decks period. Murderous Cut is dumb removal, but dumb removal can have its place in the format for diplomatic purposes (as I wrote about in part 2 of my analysis), it’s easy to cast with but a couple of dead cards in the graveyard, and its very non-restrictive. Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise have both demonstrated their power in both Legacy and Modern, and are great cards in EDH as well. Finally, Necropolis Fiend, the younger and slimmer cousin of Tombstalker that’s just a wee bit higher maintenance makes the spot due to his ability to continuously exile chaff from the graveyard, and getting rid of a whole bunch when cast.

The other three stooges: Aside the Delve spells, these three cards also line up well with Tasigur’s ability to mill, and two of them are plain good cards that support a grindy control strategy well.

wtftog

Is this punishment enough, WotC?

1 Psychatog
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Eternal Witness

Psychatog tore a huge hole through all relevant constructed formats when he was printed in Odyssey and was hailed as “the best creature of all time” – a title he inherited from Morphling. He was printed in a cycle in Odyssey with five allied coloured Atogs, with two abilities each – and each ability tied to a colour. It just so happens that the blue one (discard a card) and the black one (exile two cards from your graveyard) went together much better than say the white (sacrifice an enchantment) and blue or the black or red (sacrifice a land) ever did, and the inherent synergy in the card created a monster.

Psychatog was for a long time a staple in even Vintage, and for this, Wizards has punished him thoroughly with the art change in his Vintage Masters “reprint”. Jeez. Psychatog is in Tasigur because he is awesome, I really liked casting him in Extended and Vintage back in the day, and he does what Necropolis Fiend does without requiring an investment of mana upon activation. Dr Teeth belongs in the deck. The other two stooges are merely good cards in the colours that helps Tasigur in the late game. Both are quite boring, but very strong.