Christmas Commanding with the Crew from Commanderin’!

meren bannerOver the holidays I’ve had the pleasure to play a couple of games with two thirds of the Commanderin’ podcast, over Skype and Cockatrice. We tried to play a couple of games the day before yesterday, but I had to leave in the middle of the first one due to real-life things, and Sean “Copain26” Whatson’s connection buggered out in the second one.

Yesterday, however, we played a couple of games and I had the best of times with Sean and friend-of-the-show Nick. Nick was playing Omnath, Locus of Rage, and Sean was playing his fabled Lazav, Dimir Mastermind deck, and I was playing Meren of Clan Nel Toth (link to decklist).

dimirdoppelganger.hqI drew a pretty slow opener, and especially Nick was very quick out of the gates. Lazav cast a turn three Dimir Doppelganger, which threw a wrench in my machinery, which was moving along very slowly (my opener had only lands that come into play tapped, for example).

Nick, not to be outdone, cast Sol Ring into Silverglade Elemental, and soon thereafter the general himself, and he wasn’t slow to start getting a bunch of 5/5’s into play.

Meanwhile, Sean cast Traumatize into Jace, Memory Adept, starting to seriously mill Nick out. On his last turn, Nick swung with everything at Sean, and I was really far behind on board vs. both of them, but I still sacrificed Spore Frog. My hope was that Sean would use the time to mill out Nick completely, leaving him vs. me heads-up. And he did. In fact, in the following turn, Sean cast Tunnel Vision targeting Nick namin Cultivate, which we hadn’t seen yet, hoping to hit at least 12 of the remaining 22 cards in Nick’s deck, in order to finish him off with Jace. Cultivate was the bottom card. For real.

I had used the spare time to build up some mana, though the board looked grim. Sean had a Consecrated Sphinx, an Evil Twin acting as a Consecrated Sphinx, and five copies of Consecrated Sphinx from Rite of Replication. He also had Lazav acting as Vigor.

After he drew fourteen cards in my draw step, I activated Phyrexian Reclamation, for Eternal Witness, for Damnation, wiping the board. I then re-cast my commander and got Eternal Witness back and throug her Buried Alive. I didn’t get to cast it, however, since on his last turn, Sean cast Mesmeric Orb, Consuming Aberration and Windfall, leaving me with frighteningly few cards in my library and a huge graveyard. livingdeath.hq

However, I had lucked out on the draw from Windfall, so I untapped and milled to like 20 cards in the library, cast Fleshbag Marauder, forcing him to sacrifice the only creature he had, attacked for five with my creatures and then Living Death, bringing back Gary and his whole crew for the rest of Sean’s life total.

A lucky end to a game where I was a step behind the entire time, and Sean was of course just a turn away from getting rid of the last 20-ish cards in my library. Very exciting, it always amazes me how many games of EDH actually comes down to the last turn.


I recommend anyone who plays on Cockatrice to add commanderin.mtg.podcast on Skype and get in on the fun! Skype and Cockatrice works quite well together, and the added layer of communication is important in such a complex format.

Mana Burn #24 – A Christmas Carol

Mana burn banner

What’s that sound? Who’s stepping around in the living room? Could it be Santa Claus? No, it’s me! Your friendly neighborhood Grim Lavamancer!

“But Grim Lavamancer” you ask “what are you doing here? Why are you staggering, and why do you smell like a brewery?” Yeez, you’re sounding just like missus Lavamancer (before she left, that is)… I simply thought that you’d enjoy an issue of Mana Burn under your tree (or other appropriate holiday symbol).

What’s Mana Burn? Why, it’s the native webcomic of Goyf Wars! As usual, just click on the image below to read the comic:

click_to_read_24_by_silferdrake-d9l9aj7

And there you have it! I hope you guys take the time to really enjoy the ongoing holiday season (in a non-necromantic way). I’m having a blast so far!

Season’s greetings to all of you!

Meren’s movin’ on up!

meren bannerMeren has been a continuous pet project of mine since the release of Commander 2015, and according to edhrec.com, I’m not being very hipster – she is the most popular general this week and this month, followed in the latter by other all-stars of C15, i.e. Ezuri, Karlov and Mizzix. I think the popularity of these generals will fade over time, but for now I’m still with my head in the clouds, building Meren.

A link, to the latest version of the deck: Meren’s Great Sacrifice, on TappedOut.net.


 

merenofclanneltothMy impression on Meren overall has been very positive. I think she separates herself enough from Karador out of two reasons – she costs way less to cast, and her effect is free. In the case of Karador, understandably one of the most powerful and popular commanders of all time, he doesn’t get to just get something back to the hand if  he doesn’t meet the criteria (i.e. the casting cost of a creature) – and Meren does. Also for free.

The fact that it happens every one of your turns without having to pay a single mana beyond her own casting cost is awesome, since tapping out to cast spells as well as getting something back from the graveyard is an avenue Karador can’t go down.

Even graveyard hate isn’t that bad, since Meren still sticks around with the experience counter, you can always get something else in the graveyard during the next turn and get it back instantly. Repeatable graveyard hate sucks, or graveyard hosers that stick around (Ground Seal comes to mind), but the deck has enough answers that it doesn’t just roll over and die, as should any competent Meren list.


 

It’s christmas soon, and I for one will be spending as much time as possible forcing my loved ones and my friends to sacrifice their creatures.

What commander from C15 has impressed you the most? Leave a comment!

[OGW] Endbringer

oath bannerThe latest spoil that seems confirmed is called Endbringer (funny note: way back when, when I was very into 40k, I had a custom Space Marine chapter called Endbringers), and I expect it to be an EDH staple:

endbringerSo, a very versatile answer that can deal with both small utility creatures and large threats, and also draw cards! The built-in personal Prophet of Krupix also makes him scale well with the format, and I like the political implications of the middle ability a lot.

Overall, I’m very impressed, and I expect to see this in any deck that can produce enough colourless mana to support it.

What do you think of Endbringer? Leave a comment!

[OGW] Goblin Dark-Dwellers

oath bannerGatheringMagic.com has a new spoiler up today, link to the post. It has the somewhat awful name of Goblin Dark-Dwellers, but it has a nice unique effect:

Skärmavbild 2015-12-18 kl. 08.14.21Very neat, if you ask me, a nice evasive 4/4 for 5 is good on its own, and the effect is gravy on top! In Standard, Kolaghan’s Command and Crackling Doom are both popular and potential targets for Goblin Dark-Dwellers effect. Not sure how to properly use it in the constructed format I care about (EDH), but it’s a format full of blink effects if nothing else.

What do you think of Goblin Dark-Dwellers? Leave a comment.

Apologies to everyone for posting the spoiler. But I did link to the source!

 

Re: “Why Leaks Hurt”

oath bannerAs I’ve written about before, Oath of the Gatewatch was subject to perhaps the single biggest leak since the godbook of New Phyrexia was released online. For those who don’t recall, the “godbook” is a full spoiler sent out to those in need of preview info on sets, i.e. magazines etc., and the then-world champion Guillaume Matignon, who wrote for the french Magic magazine “Lotus Noir” shared his godbook with a friend, who shared it with a friend, who leaked it online. An article on this can be found here on the Mothership.

This time around, all of the Mythic Rares from Oath of the Gatewatch were leaked online, in a thread on Reddit, and it has sparked some outcry from the community – some feel robbed of their spoiler season. Others are discussing the mythics, as is.

dewdropspy.fullTrick Jarret wrote a response to the leak, commenting on why it’s bad, in an article on the Mothership entitled “Why Leaks Hurt“. He makes a few points, but overall, I’d call the article quite bad. In fact, I wanted to take a few moments and dissect some of the worst things he states in the article, for the sake of fairness. The article, overall, comes across as quite whiny in my book.

There is a natural struggle between players and Wizards when it comes to knowing the game’s future. Magic‘s entire premise is that of constant change, and this tantalizing premise creates a constant tension between our storytelling and players wanting to know what comes next.

I agree on this point almost entirely, to be honest, and this lets us define the roles for the two players in this opposition: it is the role of Wizards to keep shit under locks until spoiler season officially begins, and it is the role of the community (the parts that wants to know, that is) to find out stuff beforehand. The ball is, as I see it, entirely in Wizards’ court; in the latest leak someone has taken photographs of actual real, physical cards. This means that someone who shouldn’t have gotten their hands on the cards got their hands on the cards, it’s that simple.

Let’s face it – Wizards makes a damn good game, it’s alluring to find stuff out beforehand, and Wizards just can’t blame people for wanting to know stuff about their game. It makes absolutely no sense.

As a person who used to run a fan site that would occasionally leak something, I know the lure for content creators. Leaks draw traffic and they give you something new to talk about. But let’s get one thing straight: leaks aren’t journalism. Publishing leaks is purely self-serving, looking out for the good of yourself and your ego.

Leaks aren’t journalism because there is no cover-up. There’s no secret exposé about the working conditions of goblins on Ravnica, or the water quality on Zendikar, or the climate change on Mirrodin (though that one might have something). Leaks are all things that the public will find out eventually. There’s no conspiracy being unraveled, just something new revealed through the theft of intellectual property. That’s right, theft. If we didn’t give it to you and say “Show this,” then you are stealing something from Wizards of the Coast and the Magic community.

goblinspy.fullLet’s get another thing straight – leaks are definitely journalism. The fact that this journalism presents content in a different context than was intended by the content creator doesn’t take away the fact that this is journalism, at least as far as journalism goes when it comes to Magic. To make an analogy – if president Obama was to hold a speech in the future, about huge changes in, say, the American welfare system, and New York Times got a hold of a first draft of this jaw-dropping speech – if they report on it, is it not journalism because they didn’t wait to hear the speech from the president himself? Of course it is.

Further, the fact that Jarret is trying to call out people reporting on the leaks with a few unsubtle ad homenim-attacks does not make him right in any way. It comes off as petty, honestly.

Would you go on your friend’s Facebook page and announce a pregnancy if you found a positive pregnancy test in their bathroom? No, that would make you a terrible human being! Because it’s not your news to give, and when the world gets to know it is up to that person and their significant other.

Here, Jarret confuses private information (pregnancy) with information regarding a product from a huge company. If I got hold of a picture of an iPhone 7 and posted that on the internet, would that be as bad as revealing an acquaintance’s pregnancy? Of course not, a company is not a personal friend, and the analogy is absurd.

Our policy has and continues to be that we simply don’t discuss leaks. Go read the article from then-Magic Marketing Director Kyle Murray to learn about the problem we were facing even back then, over thirteen years ago. Confirming or disproving a leak may solve the problem in the short term, but it creates a bigger problem in that it can force us to acknowledge each and every rumor. And then when we decide not to comment, it becomes an even bigger deal.

This seems like a fair and stable policy and in my opinion. It makes sense and it’s a clear policy.

Make no mistake, we take leaks very seriously. We always investigate leaks with our internal teams as well as external partners to figure out where and how the leaks happened. We have and will continue to not just ban leakers from the DCI and cancel their Planeswalker Points accounts, but pursue whatever criminal and civil actions necessary to protect our intellectual property and the Magic community.

eyespy.fullRight, it’s one thing to be sour about a leak. I understand that, I really do. By profession, I’m a teacher, and I can get salty if a lesson I’ve been working hard on gets ruined by one or more pupils simply refusing to take part, or even disturb the class. In a worst-case scenario, I might’ve spent four or five hours planning. I can’t imagine if months of work gets ruined by leakers.

That said, outright threats of expulsion from the competitive side of the community is not the proper way to go.

Leaks create an unfair advantage as—because they do not go out over official channels—they are not as widely distributed to less-enfranchised players, thus creating an unfair advantage for some players.

I don’t see how this is relevant in this case – what was spoiled was the expeditions and the mythics, which will have some impact on limited play, but not a whole lot compared to the playable commons. The constructed players will easily have their chance to look at the official spoiler before their first constructed event, leak or no leak.

So if we can’t design a game that is leak-proof, our only other option is to work hard to prevent leaks. Which we do. We follow rigorous security protocols to ensure assets don’t sneak outside the building. So when you see a leak online, what you are seeing is theft, and we have an obligation to pursue and punish those engaged in that activity.

edric,spymasteroftrest.fullThis is a good thing, and it is part of Wizards’ job. Apparently, these security measures failed this time around – and my point is that the blame should probably be placed on Wizards’ security protocol, not on the parts of the community that leaked it, or parts of the community spreading it (like I).

Granted, I don’t know what happened in this case, but I hope we’ll find out eventually. In the case of New Phyrexia, it is a clear breach of trust between the company and a single person – until something like this is clearly proven, I have to assume the breach is internal. There’s no reason to believe outside people should have a hold of physical cards this early, and thus, the blame has to be placed on Wizards.

The community can’t be blamed for liking content from the company, and a spoiler of this magnitude creates not only traffic for a site, but also prestige and attention, two very human desires.

We’re humans, Jarret. Stop being petty about that, and work for a tighter ship instead. It usually works just fine, why didn’t it this time?

Wydwen takes flight!

wydwen bannerAfter a few weeks of trying Lazav, Dimir Mastermind a second time, I’ve come to the conclusion that he might not be the general for me. He is durdly, which is nice, but also a bit clunky, and I didn’t like having to dedicate deck slots to random mill effects. I might come back to him one day, but we’ll see. Chances are I will, but for now I’ve turned my attention to another 4 CMC 3/3 Dimir general – Wydwen, the Biting Gale!

When I constructed the deck – the idea in mind was to have a flexible deck, full of interactive instants, with Wydwen herself as the primary win condition. This is the list I came up with, after some thought, but no testing:

In Wydwen’s Ward, on TappedOut.net


 

I sleeved up the deck, and took it for a spin around the local gaming club. This evening, wydwen,thebitinggale.hqwe were only three attending, due to real life, and the opposition for the evening was Ezuri2/Kruphix (he played both over the evening – guy loves his Simic) and Kalemne/Glissa2 (same).

Out of the three games where I played Wydwen, I came away with two victories. I lost once to Ezuri, when he tossed a bunch of counters on Inkmoth Nexus. Thing is – Inkmoth Nexus itself didn’t bother me, since I could just block + bounce, but I died to regular combat damage over the course of two turns.

The other two games turned into long grinds, where I, among other things, got infinite value from threatening to use a spot removal for something like fifteen turns, prompting the others to attack each other instead. Both games were ended by Wydwen with a couple of weapons – the best one by far being Runechanter’s Pike.


 

runechanterspike.hqWhat really sold me onto the deck was two things – the flexibility and how she tends to play the turns really quickly – the deck is very much a “draw-go” deck, and when it starts dealing damage, it wins quite quickly. I can definitely see how she would be frustrating to play against, and I recall a friend playing her circa 2012 to some results (but mostly frustration), but at least I’m not taking 5 minute turns towards the end of the game. Taking shorter turns is less frustrating for everyone around the table, and it allows me to focus on the banter and politics that is inherently the best part of EDH.

The decks I’m currently playing the most are Meren, Roon, AngryOmnath and now Wydwen has joined the fun – and out of the four, Meren and Roon are both powerful decks, but both are really grindy and have a hard time closing games when they should. As such, I think having another deck capable of closing games in time will be beneficial, and Wydwen fits that bill way better than Lazav ever did.

I’m really looking forward to the next time I get to bring her out, hopefully against three or four opponents the next time. She might do less well against a larger table, I’m not sure, but more games in the near future will help me find that out.

[OGW] Gigantic spoiler (Expeditions, Mythics)

oath bannerThe biggest single leak since New Phyrexia’s Godbook leak has been spoiled over on Reddit (link to thread). Someone is getting fired, I’ll tell you that right now. I want to caution anyone who actually looks forward to spoiler season, as I will be spoiling the heck out of the set (rhyme intended, for street cred purposes).

In this post, I will look at the two heavy hitters, the new Chandra and the new Nissa.

The new Chandra looks like this:

chandraflamespeakerChandra, Flamecaller is perhaps the best Chandra we’ve seen in years. Her +1 is effectively a mostly better Ball Lightning every turn, her 0 is crazy in red, and her “ultimate” is flexible enough to net the owner card advantage in many board states. Overall I’m really impressed by her, and I think she’ll see some constructed play. She might even be good enough for EDH thanks to the 0-ability.

Nissa looks even more awesome:

nissazendikarSo the +1 might look underwhelming, but a 3-mana planeswalker that produces chump blockers to protect itself is great, and the other abilities are sweet as well. Again, I’m looking forward to using her in EDH for the -2 ability. There are a lot of cards that synergise well enough with that ability alone. The ultimate, if one gets there, is pretty close to “-7: You win the game”.

What do you think of these spoilers? Leave a comment!

[OGW] “Wastes” mana confirmed colourless

oath bannerWizards just tweeted this:

Skärmavbild 2015-12-11 kl. 13.58.22So, the fact that these new symbols has to be paid with colourless mana is now confirmed. Go cheap colourless mana bases in EDH!

[OGW] Mina and Denn

oath bannerAnother new spoiler has popped up on MythicSpoiler, and it’s a pretty cool new red-green legend, called Mina and Denn, Wildborn:

miradennNote that this above card is a mock-up, since the original scan is in Russian. There are no signs of it being fake as of yet.

And holy moly, a 4/4 for four is on-curve, even if the casting cost is a bit restrictive, and the abilities are insane! Oracle of Mul Daya is a staple for a reason in EDH, and even if this has only half the same effect, it comes with another upside.

I don’t think I would want them commanding their own deck, but they go straight into Omnath!

What do you think of the cool new twins from Oath of the Gatewatch? Leave a comment!