Creature Type: Sorcery 003, Packing when Trading

moment with pm

 

Today i present to you a videoguide of how to properly pack cards when doing a trade!

For reference, I have over 700 registered trades over at Svenskamagic.com, and nobody have ever complained about the packaging. And it really sucks to get damaged cards due to sloppy packing! So this is my little way of helping the trading community!

 

Here is the link to the video if you prefer that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywRksLKHLkw

Please let me know what you think! ūüėÄ

UB vs. BUG (and others)

city of shakar

Related to my appearance in this week’s episode of the Commanderin’ podcast, I got the following tweet:

Skärmavbild 2016-07-28 kl. 21.25.13

This is a very interesting question indeed – and taken on surface value, one obvious answer would be “nothing”. But this is a slipperly slope, of course; if we disregard the drawbacks that come with extra colour(s) in EDH, and disregard important aspects like available commanders, then five colour decks would beat out every non-five colour deck.

perniciousdeed.hq

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But considering the colours as-is, a few noteworthy things arise. In general, Sultai (black-blue-green) tends to ramp way better than Dimir (black-blue), because green is the undisputed king of ramp in EDH. And, as most people would have you know, ramp is one of the two most important aspects of a deck in EDH (the other being card-draw).

Another thing that Sultai does way better is dealing with some problematic enchantments. Spot-removal such as Krosan Grip and Beast Within can help to deal with problematic resolved enchantments and artifacts, and one of my favourite cards of all time – Pernicious Deed – is available to Sultai.

And further, green brings some pretty neat creaures into the mix, the big beaters in the format belong there, and some of the best utility creatures as well. Two notable examples are Eternal Witness and Deathrite Shaman.


All is not just gravy and ramp, however, because Sultai comes with three¬†downsides that I’d say makes it different enough from Dimir to consider playing Dimir over Sultai in the format.

  1. tasigurThe fact that partial paris mulligans was removed from the format means that the manabases in the format must be constructed with a bit more care, and that’s always easier with a two-colour deck than a three-colour deck, even if the third colour is green. Getting color-screwed the first couple of turns is unlikely in a two-colour deck, but a bit more common in a three-colour deck. This isn’t a huge deal, though, and it’s not specifically a downside of Sultai vs. Dimir of course, but it is a downside. Every game where you get stuck on lands or colours will suck, because we’re talking multiplayer, and you’ll likely lose very slowly.
  2. Three-colour decks will suffer more from budgetary constraints. Even on a budget, most cheaper dual lands will make for a stable mana base, but in order to minimize the threat of the above issue, one ought to play with the fetch lands and dual lands available to Sultai. It’s not a huge divider, but it is to be considered.
  3. The available commanders. This is a big deal. Looking at the Sultai commanders available (link to EDHREC), there are only five of them, and there are a few similarities between them. Sultai is good if you want to interact with graveyards, but they can also be good goodstuff decks, or combo. Dimir, on the other hand (link to EDHREC), has some twenty listed and a few more that are too unpopular to even be mentioned there, but there is a wider range of strategies available – Dimir can do most anything. This is a huge upside that cannot possibly be ignored, especially not these days when tucking isn’t a thing anymore and building around your commander isn’t as dangerous anymore.

In the end, like all things in EDH, it comes down to personal preference. As for me, I almost always start my deck building with a commander that I want to try or build around or haven’t seen in my local paper metagame, and if that commander happens to be Sultai, I go Sultai. On the other hand, if that commander happens to be Dimir, I go Dimir.

Which do you prefer – two or three colour? Leave a comment!

Guest appearance on Commanderin’!

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A while ago, Mr. Sean Whatson and I recorded a special episode of the Commanderin’ Podcast, and today it’s being released to the public. We talk about Dimir strategies in general, discuss our favourite Dimir cards, and I gush a bit about my favourite Dimir general – Wydwen!

Click here to listen to the episode on their home page, or find it through your podcast app of choice.

Deckbuilding 101 – Card evaluation

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Welcome back, class! The last time we learned about concepts in EDH, that is, the necessity of choosing and sticking to a theme. I hope you’ve spent your leisure time pondering what to build, because this time we’re talking about card evaluation in EDH. I want to stress that what I’m about to share is my method, and it is in no way all-encompassing. This is merely the way I do it.

I want to reiterate – the goal here isn’t necessarily to build the strongest possible 100-card deck – it’s more likely to build a fun and/or unique deck that suits your goal, style, meta and collection. The last bit, the collection, will differ widely between players. I prefer to mostly build from what I own, which has affected my method of building, but I will expand upon and include a couple of other examples.

solemnsimulacrum.hq

SadBot – the first ramp card to be added after Sol Ring.

The first thing I do is to go to EDHREC.com, and look up either whatever general I’m building, or researching the available commanders in my intended colour(s). EDHREC is a very powerful tool if used responsibly, and it is a great starting off point if you’re at a loss over where to start. Once I’ve got a grip on the commander, I sit down and type a list of cards I know from memory that I want. Usually I like to do this on paper – but anything works.

Next, I go to my collection of “EDH playables”, a big box of cards sorted by colour. I go through the relevant colours and pick out all the cards that I want to play in the deck.

By this time, I often have a stack of cards around 150 or so cards, and by this time, I start to break down the deck in it’s relevant parts. If we break down the bare bones, here’s what we have:

Commander: 1
Lands: 38
Mana ramp: 10
Card draw: 10
Sweepers: 4

These are numbers I always start with. Some decks will want more than 38 lands, some can get by with less. Some cards might want more than 10 ramp cards, some less, and so on.

Easy math will tell you that in practice, most commander decks aren’t 100 unique cards, they are 100-1-38 (the commander and the lands) which leaves us 61 card slots. Take away the slots for the basic ramp and card-draw, that leaves 41 slots. Take away the slots for sweepers, and that leaves 37. Does that mean only 37 cards differentiate EDH decks? Of course not, but most decks should have these basic card types before considering anything else.

Remember class, the goal here isn’t to build a “competitive EDH deck” (since that’s an oxymoron) – the goal is to build a functioning EDH deck. Since you will devote at least 45 minutes to every game you sit down for, most often more than that, it’s important to have a deck that stands a fighting chance – lest the games will turn into very boring slogs towards the end for you.

After I’ve sorted out the lands, the ramp cards, the card draw and most often at least a basic suite of sweepers, I separate the cards left into three tiers. These tiers aren’t set in stone, but it’s usually what I do in order to rank cards.

livingdeath.hqTier one:¬†Cards that are absolutely necessary for the deck to function. They are central to the theme, whatever it is, and the deck will not do without them. Cards in Pharika that are tier one are cards like Grave Pact, Viscera Seer, Oath of Ghouls, and Living Death. The deck would be considerably worse without these cards, and they are central to Pharika’s theme of controlling graveyards and grinding out with your own.

Tier two:¬†Cards that aren’t exactly necessary for the deck, but are good in it and most often related to the theme. Cards that are tier two in Pharika include¬†Eidolon of Blossoms, Doomwake Giant, Creakwood Liege, and Maelstrom Pulse. Most spotremoval falls into tier two-territory, and though many spotremoval cards make the cut, not all should, for obvious reasons.

Tier three:¬†Tier three is the lowest of the tiers, though that does not mean that they are cards that can be cut without consideration. These cards did make the first cut out of the box/binder, mind you. Cards in tier three are cards that aren’t related to the theme directly, cards that fall into the “danger of cool things” territory (yes, it is within the curriculum to refer to an article from 1999), pet cards etc. Although most of the time, there aren’t that many tier three cards in my decks, I have a few pet cards that I tend to play with. An example in Pharika would be Vraska, the Unseen. Although she isn’t a pet card specifically, I really like planeswalkers, and I like to have them in all of my decks – and Vraska is the only black-green one prined so far. She’s also like the best rattlesnake there is, and if there is one deck that could protect a planeswalker from attackers, it’s Pharika.


Lavamancer 2By now, we’re getting a rough sketch of what we need in the deck – and we can start making cuts. Usually, I start from tier three, make heavy cuts, go to tier two, make slightly less cuts, and initially, I keep almost all cards in tier one. Once the deck is around 110-120 cards, I start to look at what the next part will be about: mana curve and designing mana bases!

I’ll leave you with a few wise words from our very own friendly neighbourhood Lavamancer, like the last time.

Your homework for the next time is to make a rough sketch of your deck, and try out the tier system for yourself. It is a lot easier to work with if you have a large collection, though it can be done electronically, if you plan to buy a bunch of cards.

Class dismissed!

The first detention slip

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Dear Mrs. and Mr. Reveler,

You might already be aware of this, but in case Xenagos has neglected to inform you, I am assigning him detention for the rest of this game. The reason is as follows:Xenagos

Xenagos has been acting out in class consistently. It is not that he himself has done too much damage to either other students, his surroundings or myself, but he gets the other students all fired up over nothing. His ability to incite rebellions among the students, while impressive, has led to severe complaints from the other participants in our activities.

I’ve taken it upon myself to discipline Xenagos in order to make sure that he refrains from other outbursts in class and assigned him the usual detention homework. For your information, this week¬†the class is memorizing Homer’s Odyssey, and I’m expecting him to hand in his solution to Zeno’s Dichotomy paradox on Monday at the latest.

Until Xenagos has shown he is capable of interacting with other students without getting them into an inflammatory state, I will not accept him back in my class.

 

All the best,
Dragonlord Ojutai, PhD, MD, JD, MBA, LIM, OMG

 

Deckbuilding 101 – Conception

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“Art” is a controversial word. Plenty of people smarter than me have spent many hours trying to convince people that a thing so commonplace and almost banal as video games can be defined as “art”, much like other non-interactive mediums – literature, film, music. I, however, I think deckbuilding is an art. And it’s a tough one to boot.

In a series of posts beginning with this one, I intend to break down my method for deck construction in EDH. To exemplify, I’m also going to present my latest protect – Pharika, God of Affliction. To start off, I want to make a few things clear, using some truisms:

purphoros,godoftheforge.hqa) There are no such things, practically, as a “solved” EDH deck.¬†Another label which one needs to be very careful with is “finished”. There are commanders that tend to be linear in their strategy – meaning they lend themselves to some strategies more easily. An example of this could be Purphoros, God of the Forge. Practically all Purphoros decks want to do more or less the same thing – drop Purphoros, make a whole bunch of tokens and kill everyone else at the table as soon as possible. It’s a linear strategy in a commander that more or less builds itself, and though every list will have variations, many will contain the same core strategy. Even then, it’s hard to argue that this list or that list is the perfect Purphoros 99; local variations always exist in individual metagames, and that has to be taken into account during the deckbuilding progress.

To clarify – let’s say you play Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Some metagames might be very cutthroat, so you put in all the extra turn spells you can, in hopes of regrowing them until you have either an unbeatable board state, or everyone else is plain dead. Other metagames might be more casual and the opponents will play less powerful decks, meaning every game ends with you taking 4+ turns in a row, regrowing your time walks, and winning. This will either get you kicked out of the playgroup, or targeted first in every game, neither situation is preferable.

These two considerations leads me to always fine-tune and make changes to my decks, with the waxing and waning of my local paper metagame. This, obviously, isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a thing to take to heart – you won’t likely¬†sleeve up your 99, say “done” and play that same 99 until you retire the deck.

winterorb.hqb) EDH is, by its very nature, a very broken format. The object is very rarely to find a list that will combo-kill or lock down the table on turn 5 every game. The reasons for this is mostly the same as before Рpeople may outright refuse to play against your deck, or target your first, turning your game into Archenemy.

Here, we get into a murky territory, but the object of your deckbuilding will, in many cases, be to find something that is “fun” to both play with and against. Granted, “fun” is a subjective experience, but I can say from my 20+ years of playing the game (this is an argument from authority, disregard that) that the games that I enjoy and find memorable are games where interactions and agency are important aspects. Games where someone blows up all the lands might be memorable, but not fun, since you can’t interact without mana. Games where someone kills you with a spectacular storm combo on turn 5 or 6 might be memorable for the sheer spectacle, but it’s hardly interactive, and losing to a nigh-masturbatory combo gets boring very quickly.

Don’t get me wrong – if you want to play in a metagame where people are playing die-hard, cutthroat, mass-land-destructing, storm-comboing steamrollers, then by all means. If you enjoy that, and if you find a group of people who enjoy that, knock yourselves out. However, from my experience both of online and paper metagames,¬†most groups are not like that. Jason Alt’s 75% deckbuilding theory¬†might be applicable to your local paper metagame, if you’re playing in anything similar to mine.


With all this in mind – today I want to talk about¬†deck concepts. This isn’t a hard thing, per-se, but I want to stress the importance of a central theme or thought right from the get-go. Your concept could be almost anything, a few examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Tribal X (tribal dragons, tribal merfolk, tribal zombie, tribal elves)
  • Commander-based (Voltron, commander-based combos)
  • Vorthos decks (story-based decks)
  • Good-stuff (control, ramp or mid range)
  • Colour(s) (certain colour, colour pairs, shards, wedges etc.)

vowofdutyTo start off you need to think about what sort of deck you want to build. Then, use that central idea as a filter for when looking for¬†cards. A card that might be underpowered in one deck might fit like a glove in another. To give an example from my own decks – one of the most powerful cards in my Ojutai deck is Vow of Duty. The Vow of-cycle, first printed in the original Commander product, are all interesting – they give +2/+2 and ¬†grant a static ability, and if they’re cast targeting an opponent’s creature, that can’t attack you. This leads to interesting multiplayer situations, no doubt. In Ojutai, however, Vow of Duty grants Ojutai not only Vigilance, an underrated ability in a format where you have to block potentially three or four times for every time you attack, it also turns on his permanent Hexproof and boosts his power to the important threshold of 7 – enough to kill in exactly three swings. I’ve played many, many white Commander decks since the printing of Vow of Duty, but only in Ojutai do I consider it one of the best cards in the deck.

pharikasnakePharika has a few cards of similar calibre that I had to buy to put the deck together – most notably Eidolon of Blossoms and Doomwake Giant, which both triggers on Pharika’s activated ability, since the Snake tokens she puts onto the battlefield are Enchantment Creatures.

What I’m trying to get at with all this rambling is that it’s good to have a theme, and it’s even better to keep focus on that theme. I built Pharika very recently, the deck is only about six games old, but I’ve had a blast playing with it, and I will surely continue to work on it while I write this series. My initial thought, my central theme was quite simple – I wanted an interactive, good-stuff build that utilized some of the cool cards Golgari has to offer in EDH, and I wanted Pharika to be sufficiently different from Meren of Clan Nel Toth, which I played extensively from the release of Commander 2015 up until this spring, when Meren became the most popular Golgari general on¬†EDHREC.com. Pharika, on the other hand, has only 66 registered decks, compared to Meren’s 485. I wanted something hipster, and I wanted something weird, and in brainstorming with Grim Lavamancer, I tossed around the idea of Pharika. So far so good.Lavamancer

I want to finish today with a few select words from our very own friendly neighbourhood Grim Lavamancer – take it away. Your homework until next time is to think about a concept for a new EDH build.