Mana Burn #19 – Origins 2

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Gather around children, gather around. It’s time for another Mana Burn, the native comic here at Goyf Wars, brought to you by me, your friendly neighborhood Grim Lavamancer!

Today we’ll be starting our journey through the backstory of White, which will take us through the seedy underbelly of Ravnica. Exciting? You bet. We’ll starting righting away! As usual just click the image bellow to read it:Click to read-19 Well, that’s it for today! Stay tuned for more.

The most important tournament

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“Ah, double-bear. Two punches!”

Prelude
I really hate it when bloggers apologise for not writing, so I won’t. I’ve just been busy. Work is kicking my ass, and this Saturday happened to be really special, out of nowhere. Around 7:30 in the morning, I was walking the dog as usual, wearing my pyjamas and hoodie as normal. I turned  a corner and spotted one of my friends. And then another friend. And another. And they were all wearing backpacks.

I was a bit perplexed. “Um… hi?”

“Just going to a tournament, nothing to see here, one of them said.”

“Right. I think I’ll go upstairs and change into my jeans.”

Foto 2015-07-22 21 03 20I have alluded to my fiancée on this blog before, so I was expecting a bachelor party at some point, but we don’t get married until September 12th, so this was a bit early. Half an hour later, fourteen people stormed my apartment, all wearing white tabards, carrying wooden swords and shields – each with an individually painted blazon. I can’t possibly explain how cool this was in words. Pictured to the right is my shield, a bit battle scarred. The reds and blues are from my association when I was working for the Student Union, the golden crown was because it was my bachelor party. Others had shields with griffons, trees, castles, unicorns and so on, each hand painted, each unique. Very cool!

You will know one of the members of the bachelor party from this blog – Grim Lavamancer, who does our very own webcomic, was apparently instrumental in developing the bachelor party, and he was the most vocal in introducing me to my bachelor party and instructing me to fill out my character sheet:

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It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it looks just like a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet. Also very cool.

I got to choose from a variety of items to supplement my tabard and shield, and I chose, among other things, a pair of leather bracers, a pair of indoors slippers, a fedora, an Iron Maiden poster flag worn as a cape, and likely more belts than was needed (you get extra cool points if you wear lots of belts). All kitted out, I was ready for my first challenge.

Round 1 – buying tobacco without ID
My friends took away things like my mobile phone, my wallet, my snus (Swedish tobacco) and other necessities, so my first challenge was to buy snus without ID. I do often hear I look young, and even if I’m only a couple of hundred days away from my 30th birthday, I frequently get carded for these things, as if I was still under 18. My friends had apparently instructed the cashier to be tricky and ask for ID as well.

I got some money from a random stranger outside – a plastic yellow glove full of coins – and headed inside the store. After a brief run-in with the cashier, I ask my friend for my character sheet, and display clearly that my occupation says “Teacher”, meaning the length of my education means I am of at least 23 years of age. It worked, and I won. The picture below is from just after leaving the store, when I hit level 2 from clearing the challenge.

1-0.

I was tossed into a car, to be taken to my next assignment. In the car, I was given instructions on how to play a variety of Magic cards that I had been given on the morning:

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Squire was my most used card over the day and easily the best in my pool.

In order to cast these cards, I had to drink a small vial of beverage corresponding to a different colour of mana – Malibu and milk for white, Jack & Coke for black, raspberry soda and vodka for red and so on. White was by far the best, meaning upkeeping Squire every hour wasn’t bad.

Round 2: “Magic” tournament
I was taken to my old work place where my friends had made breakfast and set up a table to play “Magic” as they called it. It was, in fact, the Pokémon card game, but I have played that too, and I helped explain the rules for anyone who wanted to challenge me. Grim Lavamancer argued that, since my gambling skill was so high on my character sheet, I ought to start with an extra card. I also had a bunch of other, custom, cards to help me out, three examples detailed below:

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All the custom cards features art with me in it, or things referencing me. Despite these powerful custom cards and starting off with an extra card, I only managed a 4-2 result in the “Magic” tournament. I still had a blast playing that damn game though!

5-2.

Round 3 – Ynglingaspel
Ever since reading the medieval novels of Jan Guillou, I’ve joked about having an “ynglingaspel” (lit. youth games), an occurrence among upper-class youth in old medieval Sweden. Ynglingaspel is basically a series of physical challenges, pitting the groom-to-be against his single friends (youths), competing over a crown of gold. Examples of these challenges are horse-back joust with bags instead of lances, axe throwing, and archery.

I had my own ynglingaspel in the park on Saturday, and we competed in spear throwing, archery, and many other activities. By this time, I had upkeeped Squire maybe one too many times, and hitting targets was tricky as all hell. Around the half time of the games, my friend’s girlfriend showed up, wearing a medieval dress, and serving Swedish-style tacos – my favourite dish.

Of course, since it was my bachelor party, everyone folded in the end, when the final game was “kontorstrams” (lit. “goofing around in the office”), a sport where your goal is to throw a tennis ball at a door and have it roll back to you, lest you suffer penalty. I am the world’s first world champion in this glorious sport, and this was the last time we’ll ever play it. I won, and thus, I will remain world-champion for as long as I’ll live. Huzza!

6-2.

Drawing into T8, we moved the bachelor party to a rented hut outside town. It was huge, with enough cots and beds for all of us to stay. There, we had dinner, and I was faced with my last challenge – breaking a pinata covered in my final temptation, pictures of ladies of popular culture who I have described in the same sentence as the words “free” and “card” before. I didn’t hesitate, and killed the box with my warhammer.

7-2.

Inside the box was a key to another box, and in that box was a USB stick with something too cool to share here right now, and a pair of boxers where all my friends had written good luck wishes, jokes, references to our youth and so on. It was really touching, actually. Inside was also another Magic card – namely this one:

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Thanks so much, you guys!

 

The most important of changes

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dromoka,theeternal.fullTasigur isn’t the only deck getting a face lift this week, I’ve also done some changes to Dromoka. The new deck list can be found here, just click the general on the right. Some of the more important changes include more card-drawing. That is a pretty big deal in EDH, and something of an issue in green-white, which is a shame because I really like green-white overall. There’s always Sylvan Library, but Tasigur is claiming that one for now, and I’m not going to get a second one to play in my most casual EDH deck. I am looking into getting a Greater Good for the deck, but I haven’t found an Urza’s Saga one yet that was at a reasonable price. For now, I’ll have to make due with the usual stuff, Harmonize and Survival of the Fittest + Genesis, and I recently added Life from the Loam to synch with the cycling lands and Horizon Canopy.

I also made the deck slightly more punchy by adding the non-Khans fight cards I could muster. Prey Upon is silly but the fight mechanic is great flavour and that art is really sweet. Mutant’s Prey ties together the theme with the fight mechanic nicely, and is also an Instant. I’m planning to add a Dromoka’s Command in the future but haven’t gotten there yet, both as a means of getting a +1/+1 counter on something in Instant speed, and as another fight card.

Lastly, and by far the most important change of the deck, to me, is I cut Garruk Wildspeaker who, in this deck, was a bad ramp card, for this planeswalker – a gentleman and a scholar:

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Ajani helps with adding +1/+1 counters in any way I want, and he also – most of the time – draws me business. He will only find me creatures in the deck, since he is the only Planeswalker and I have no Auras, but even so, hitting a creature in the top four cards with 32 in the deck seems okay. I ran some numbers, but I’m no mathematician, but if I have, for the sake of argument, 85 cards left in the deck in total, 25 of which are creatures out of the original 99 and 32, meaning it’s late in the game. If I flip four cards with Ajani, the chances I hit one or more creatures is 75,91%.  Not bad odds, if you ask me.

His ultimate is meh, but both the other abilities will +1 him, meaning he won’t be low on loyalty as long as I have creatures to protect him.

The art is also some of the best I’ve seen on Planeswalkers, and it blends really well with the frame. That alone makes him worth a spot in the deck.

Overall, I’m really starting to like Dromoka in particular and green-white in general. Just flicking through the deck makes me happy, and I can’t wait for the next time I get to bring it out.

My take on the new rules changes

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While there were no new bannings this time around, with the prerelease of Magic Origins, there have been some major rules changes in the competitive community so far. While I rarely play competitive Magic nowadays, I expect one of the changes to affect me anyway.

First of all, the new mulligan rule. Basically, whenever you have to mulligan in the future, you will, after you have kept your starting hand, get to Scry 1 before the game begins. No matter if you mulliganed to six or zero, it’s still just Scry 1, contrary to some belief on Twitter.

templeofdeceit.hqPersonally, I believe this is an awesome change to the rules of competitive environments. We’ve all had those games where we mulliganed to five and never stood a chance because the opponent just curved out and ran us over. We’ve all also had those really easy wins against opponents who mulliganed to death or who mana screwed or mana flooded or whatever. With these rules, these things will happen less frequently. This is a very good game, and it’s also a smart move from Wizards, who have been working hard on getting Magic to become a spectator sport, and nothing ruins streaming more than boring one-sided games.

That said, I think this will also be an interesting skill tester. Imagine the following scenario: you’re playing an aggressive deck against an opponent who has the inevitability for sure (say, RUG Delver vs. Storm Combo), you’ve lost a tight game one and you need a good start game two to keep up. You mulligan a zero-lander into a hand with a Delver of Secrets, a fetchland, a Daze, a Tarmogoyf, a Brainstorm and a Spell Pierce. Clearly, a very keepable hand, even on one land. You scry and look at another land and take your first turn. The thing is though, what’s the play? Crack the fetch, shuffle away the next land and hope to draw a second one blind? Keep the land uncracked and eschew a turn of potentially flipping the Delver and attacking? I’m not sure what the correct play is, and I find this very interesting.

Secondly, the Magic Judge blog posted this post a couple of days ago, detailing the new rules for drawing extra cards. Previously, drawing extra cards was, in a REL: Competitive setting, always equal to a game loss. Now, instead, in some cases, the player drawing the extra cards will reveal his or her hand to the opponent, who will choose the amount of card excess to what the player was supposed to draw and have, and these excess cards will be shuffled back into the random portion of the library.

thoughtseize.hqThis is a big thing, and I think this is good too. I have never lost a game due to drawing extra cards, but I have won games due to this happening and me calling a judge. The thing is, this can happen even if you’re not meaning to. Drawing extra cards could be a mistake in communicating the game state, it could be a mistake in dexterity – I always shake a bit when there’s a lot on the line, like playing for T8 in a big tournament, or it could be a material thing – some card sleeves get sticky after a while, and though I never seem to have that problem, I’ve shuffled more than enough decks over many years of competitive play to recognize a deck with a bunch of beat up, dirty, sticky sleeves. As long as they can’t be classified as marked, there’s not much to do about it.

Megan and Maria, of Magic: the Amateuring fame, another excellent podcast I’d like to recommend to everybody – not just the intended audience of new and returning players, raised a good point when they discussed this change. Do you be “the good person” and choose the “correct” cards, if you happen to know the hidden information of your opponents hand, after a discard spell the turn before or something, or do you make the “bad” person play and choose the best cards? I’d say the latter in every instance of serious competitive play. The only time I’d be the “good guy” is at more casual events like prereleases or FNM drafts or places like that, and in even more casual settings, why bother with this rule? Just put back the card(s) you drew extra.

That said, I really like this rules change as well, nothing causes tilts like random game losses due to dexterity errors, and it is, again, better for the Twitch community who gets to see more Magic. Not that game losses on camera were ever really common, in fact some are quite legendary. I’ll leave you with this:

Tasigur update

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I’ve made some pretty big changes to my Tasigur list to stream line it a bit more, and I wanted to take a moment and go over some of my reasoning behind them. The list can be found here on TappedOut: Tasigur v.2.

Trinket Mage / Sensei’s Divining Top: The former might look strange in a deck with only two targets, and I reckon it might be, but then again, as long as I haven’t drawn both Sensei’s Divining Top and Sol Ring, it will always generate value. I’d say it’s a test so far. I’ve avoided the latter for quite some time, it tends to lead to longer turns overall, which slows down the game for everyone, but one can not deny its power with a) the general, and b) the amount of fetches in the deck. Tasigur lives and dies by his alliances, but there are times when setting up good flips with Top and an activation from him might be necessary.

Pongify / Snuff Out: The former is an EDH staple for a reason, and I have no real clue why I didn’t include it in the first place. It’s very recurable with Tasigur in order to kill multiple creatures because of the low mana cost, which segways nicely into the next card. Snuff Out is annoyingly picky with what it can target – compared to the other spot removals in the deck, but then again, it is essentially free. One player in the metagame is very fond of Marchesa, the Black Rose, and in all games involving her, the life payment can keep me off the throne, meaning it is actually an upside. Narrow applications aside, being able to kill multiple creatures with no added mana other than Tasigur’s activation cost is great.

The manabase: The mana base is being overhauled. I’m still missing a few of the obvious lands, but I’m quite happy as of now.

Feel free to check out the deck and drop any comments/critique either here or on TappedOut.

Tip: EDHREC

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Just a quick post to pass on knowledge I refreshed through the Command Zone podcast today. It’s about a site known as EDHREC.com. Basically, it’s full of meta-data about various EDH decklists, and it’s a very valuable resource for constructing decks! All you have to do is click the particular colour combinations, which brings you to a page of all available commanders in those colours. Click one of them and the page will present the most popular cards in decks with that commander at the helm. Mind you, most popular, not the most powerful.

One could argue that netdecking is a terrible thing to do in a casual format, but for brainstorming ideas etc., it’s even easier to use than Google in this case. Check it out!

The first descent of Dromoka

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More or less as a joke, I broke out Dromoka, the Eternal last EDH night. I wasn’t expecting it to perform anything really, but it actually did. My decklist can be found here on TappedOut: Cult of Dromoka. As I stated in my previous post about the deck, it is built around the idea that a deck could represent the cult that first left the Abzan Houses in order to follow the word of the dragon Dromoka instead. The deck is very casual, only built with the cards I had lying around the house, and I haven’t spent any money on the deck specifically. I simply threw together the appropriate flavour cards added sugar, spice and everything nice – some staples in the colours, and out came this deck.

The opponents were the usual suspects:

Ezuri, Renegade Leader (Elves!)
Glissa, the Traitor (Artifact value/FIGHT!)
Sigarda, Host of Herons (Voltron) / Marchesa, the Black Rose (Steal and sac your stuff)

Glissa’s most favourite toy.

So, lots of treacherous elves and a big angel to serve Dromoka a nice knuckle sandwich. Mise well play the deck, since it has quite a few board sweepers, which is good against at least two of the decks. Glissa is worse, she uses the general and a bunch of cards which uses the Fight mechanic in order to destroy everyone with card advantage through cards like Executioner’s Capsule, various eggs etc. It’s a neat deck, I’ll concede, and Glissa herself is pretty cool. Since my deck lacked even shroudboots, I was left to diplomatic means to get the job done.

Ezuri is pretty much what you’d expect from tribal elves, it has a whopping 45 creatures in the main deck (!).

Sigarda and Marchesa were piloted by the same guy in the two games I played with Dromoka. Sigarda is pretty standard Sigarda Voltron, but as I said, one of the effective ways to deal with her is to wipe the board with enough frequency to keep her off due to commander tax. This also led to splash damage on especially Ezuri, which is nice.

Marchesa is Marchesa, and from what I’ve seen on the internet, most list tend to focus on stealing stuff, putting counters on them through Dethrone or Unspeakable Symbol, and then sacrificing it for value and keeping it forever – or rather, until the game ends.

Thing is, though, since my deck puts counters on creatures from the get go, it was ill suited to fight Marchesa and friends.

Never imagined this fellow beating an angel.

Through some stroke of luck, however, Dromoka was able to outlast all opponents in both games! In the first game, she bolstered herself to victory, meaning people lost to a 5/5 green-white flier for 5, even though the Sigarda guy was playing Marchesa. In the second game, later in the night, I dropped a turn one Serra Ascendant which put me really far ahead, and after the two elf decks were eliminated, I was able to lock out Sigarda through Genesis + Spore Frog. How eternal!

So in short, Dromoka performed well above the expectations for her first night out. Thassa is doing the opposite, and losing most games she is in (frankly, all games aside a team game or two), but I’ll leave that lamentation for some other day.

I’ve continued working on Dromoka, the new list can be found here: Cult of Dromoka on TappedOut.net. I haven’t yet spent any money on it, so I’m lacking a lot of cool rares so far, but maybe I will shell out a few bucks to complete the most important core (i.e. Sunscorch Regent and friends). The deck is also a bit more punchy, mostly because I like the Fight mechanic quite a bit in green, and also because I like the idea of Dromoka literally punching stuff out of the air. It still needs a lot of work, but I like the deck quite a bit, and it was a blast to play.

To future victories!

Mana Burn #18 – Origins 1

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Remember me, guys? I’m your friendly (but very tardy) neighborhood Grim Lavamancer. And I’m here with a comic for you.

But first an explanation since I noticed the last post comic was made in April. When I first started making Mana Burn I told myself that I’d be making updates at least bi-weekly, and at first things went according to plan. But since it’s now July you can probably see for yourself that I’ve not quite succeeded with that goal. When I later began struggling with the updates I told myself that it was because I was swamped at work, and then later because of further work related problems. But the truth is that I’ve more or less ran out of inspiration for “one gag a strip” kind of comics. When I first started with Mana Burn I told myself that I wouldn’t be focusing on storylines or plots since that sort of comic would be a bit hard follow considering it’s being posted on a blog.

But then I thought, screw that, it’s better if I begin to work on a storyline that will enable me to keep coming up with ideas for new comics than to struggle with a gag comic every few months or so. Oh, and don’t worry, light hearted comedy will still be at the core of the comic, only now it will also focus a bit more on the characters and stuff they get up to. Hopefully you will still enjoy it.

Anyway, that’s enough out of me. Bellow you’ll find the comic. As usual just click the image to read it:

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Since Magic Origins is just around the corner I figured the best way to start would be by introducing the characters origin stories. As such, this is the first part of Mana Burn – Origins, which I hope you’ll all enjoy.

See you around!

Top 5: Ranking the Planeswalkers of Origins

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I have barely touched upon the very core of Magic Origins, the Planeswalkers. In this post, I will rectify my mistake by ranking them from worst-to-best in EDH, and I’ll reason a bit about them in other constructed formats as well.

5: Chandra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arguably, the hardest of them all to flip in non-EDH formats is Chandra. Lots of dumb people on the internet seem to think you need to cast two spells in a single turn to ping thrice in order to flip her, but she counts combat damage too, so swinging at someone who’s open (likely there is at least one of those at the table on turn 4), casting a single red spell to untap her and the pinging once will do the trick. That said, she is still very underwhelming when flipped. Since she can’t kill creatures without minusing herself, she will likely die quite quickly. Maybe in the 99 of some theme deck, but I don’t see this outclassing any of the red commanders available.

4: Jace

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Jace is very easy to flip, and he has that going for him. He is also a looter, which is always nice, especially when available so readily on a commander. Since he doesn’t create card disadvantage when cast from the command zone, he will at least be on card parity in sheer numbers, and up on quality (most times). That said, when flipped, he has one useful ability, his -3, which synergises well with his ability as a creature, but his other two are rubbish. Getting one creature -2/-0 in a multiplayer format will amount to something of a nuisance only. Simply put, not worth it as your commander, maybe as one in the 99.

3. Gideon

While I think this will be amazing in Modern and especially Standard, I don’t see him make a big splash in EDH. Kytheon is quite difficult to flip, going wide in EDH is possible, but token decks are generally not mono white, and for a reason. His activated ability as a creature is pretty damn solid, though, and will be useful at all stages of the game, not only to make sure he doesn’t get himself killed trying to activate. When flipped, Gideon is pretty damn sweet, his +2 ability is nice, his +1 means one of the creatures who attacked with him will be able to protect him the following turn, and his 0 is a pretty standard Gideon ability. I imagine flipping Kytheon on turn 3 via a turn 2 Raise the Alarm, but even so, he won’t overwhelm anyone soon. I think I’d rather have Jazal Goldmane as commander of a mono-white tokens deck, but Kytheon will certainly fit into the deck as one of the 99.

2. Liliana

Choosing which one would take this spot, and thus which one was left to take the the runner-up was not easy. I think both of these planeswalkers are awesome, and I would gladly play either. However, Liliana just misses out because she is a bit too hard to flip and is difficult to flip early game. Her +2 ability is well known from Liliana of the Veil and it at least scales well to EDH since it’s “each player” and not “target player”. It will draw some hate, but any deck with Liliana in it will probably be well-suited to abuse that +2 enough to warrant the hate. The -X is pretty sweet, especially since she starts at 3 and will be at 5 after a single activation. The emblem is also pretty scary. Overall, I think I’d much rather have her in my 99 in my Gisa deck for example than as a commander, but I think she’d be fair as that as well.

1. Nissa

Nissa is the real deal. Unflipped, she is basically a Borderland Ranger in her own deck, and a bit worse in other decks, but in her own she generates card advantage when she enters the battlefield from the command zone! She is terribly easy to flip, even though it will probably not happen until turn four or five, and when she’s flipped she’ll give you a Coiling Oracle activation each turn. Her -2 is pretty boss, netting her a 4/4 for protection but leaving her vulnerable to any attack, and her ultimate will clean up tables pretty quickly as well. Overall, I’d gladly play her in my 99 in most green decks, and she will make a fine commander on her own, in my opinion.

What do you think of the list? Am I “out riding a bike” (as we say in Sweden to describe someone who’s terribly wrong)? Leave a comment!

Magic Origins: Chandra’s gear

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The spoilers are coming out very quick now, it’s impossible to keep up and talk about all the cards I want to talk about, but I’d like to shed some light on the ones I think are interesting or funny. This one definitely caught my eyes:

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brockI was going to make a joke about how Brock from Pokémon finally has a pair of goggles that fits him, but then I reasoned that that might be racially insensitive, so I won’t.

However, the card itself is very interesting at least at first glance. First of all, it’s a mana rock in red EDH decks – tapping for a mana and getting a free Mirari activation is neat, but on the other hand – what are you going to copy? Wheel of Fortune effects are useless in multiples on the stack unless you are Nekusar (and by extension, a bad person), mass-removal equally useless, but here are a couple of neat spells to copy:

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Make two enemies for the price of one!

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Sure, the board state would be weird, but 8-for-1:ing the board is awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are just two suggestions, there are a bunch of value removal like Chaos Warp where a copy is always neat, and Threaten effects for value!

What’s the craziest thing you can think of to copy with Chandra’s gear? Leave a comment!