Showdown: Tarkir, part 1

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The latest episode of the Drive to Work Podcast, by Mark Rosewater, is entitled “Showdown: Ravnica”, and in it he compares the guild mechanics from each of the Ravnican guild in the original Ravnica and the Return to Ravnica block – and declares a winner. I like the idea, but I’m not a huge fan of Ravnica compared to Tarkir, so I want to do the same thing but with the Tarkir clan mechanics. Rosewater compared the abilities from a design standpoint, but I will compare them from a player’s perspective, since I’m a player and not a designer.

abzanbattlepriestAbzan/Dromoka: Outlast vs. Bolster
The really interesting bit about these two mechanics isn’t really the mechanics themselves, but rather the “cares about +1/+1 counters”-cards, which really make both of them tick. In outlast, these were plenty, and they played really well with each other in limited. I’ve even used them to build and EDH deck around them, and the deck was really fun, even though I haven’t played it in a long while: Anafenza Fun with Counters, on TappedOut.net. Outlast also has a tactical aspect, which rewards skillful play and planning, and I like that.

Bolster, however, does not have any of these cards that also care about the counters it makes, and while one could argue it is equally difficult to play with as outlast, it offers less control. It’s more about casting creatures in the proper order, and casting spells before combat rather than after, both of which offer less interesting game states than outlast, in my opinon. They play really well with each other though, all things considered.

Point goes to: Outlast!

monasteryswiftspear.fullJeskai/Ojutai: Prowess vs. Rebound
Both of these are spell-based and they, like outlast and bolster above, they play really well with each other. I was very unexcited about Clan Jeskai before Khans of Tarkir was released, and Prowess didn’t change that for me. It felt like a really boring mechanic, and I envisioned myself having a tough time building around it in limited without screwing up the balance between creatures and other spells. Rebound is a returning mechanic from Rise of the Eldrazi and while some people seem to like it, I’ve always found it quite boring. It’s pretty powerful, at least on the rare cards, but it’s a bit unexciting. I’ve also found that many many times you’re not casting the same spell twice, but rather, you’re casting a good spell the first time and a bastardized light version of that spell in your next turn. It also comes with a hefty price tag.

So, both mechanics are unexciting to me at face value, but while rebound has some playability in EDH in cards like Consuming Vapors, cards like Monastery Swiftspear absolutely crushed in Legacy and Modern when it was released, and Monastery Mentor still sees plenty of play in Vintage of all formats. On top of that, prowess has become an evergreen mechanic, making a splash in most every set since, and being arguably the first proper combat ability properly aligned with the Izzet colours. I was so wrong about prowess beforehand, it’s not even funny. It plays really well in practice, in many formats, including limited and constructed ones. Perhaps the boost is a bit too small to be relevant in my format of choice, but then again, Shu Yun is a deck.

Point goes to: Prowess!


And that’s it for this time! Next time, we’ll settle the fights between Delve vs. Exploit, Raid vs. Dash, and Ferocious vs. Formidable, so stay tuned!

What do you think of my choices? Am I right, am I wrong?

 

Creature Type: Sorcery´s Raging Goblin Collection!

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Today I want to show off my Raging Goblin Collection! And I tell a short history on how it all started. So dive in! It wont take long!

 

 

Now, do you collect any special card or cards? Any card with special meaning to you? Let us know! 😀

Top 5: Factions within Magic

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Magic hasn’t been doing warring factions for real for very long. Before Ravnica, all we knew was the Coalition and the Phyrexians, pit fighters in Otaria and the Brother’s War. With the advent of warring factions, however, entire sets, prereleases, even the very language which we use to describe the game, has been altered drastically. In this top 5 list, I will give homage to my most favourite factions, be it from a coolness standpoint, or a gameplay standpoint, though mostly the former.

steward of valeron5. Bant (Alara block) – Bant is technically a shard and not a faction, but with the events of the Conflux set, Bant finds itself in conflict with its hitherto unknown neighbouring shards – Naya and Esper. Thus, I’ll let it count for this list. Bant is the land of chivalry, the place where Elspeth Tirel first regarded as a proper home. Valiant knights ride large cat beasts through a romanticized medieval fantasy kingdom, alongside angels, anthropomorphic rhinos and aven. The knights don’t wear armour on their backs, because nobody would ever consider trying to attack from anywhere but the front. The very essence of chivalry, Bant takes number five on my list. Its mechanic, Exalted, also demonstrates the chivalry of single combat well. The only thing that keeps Bant off of a higher position on this list is that while the white part of its white-green-blue alignment is easy to see, the other two colours don’t really make an impact on the aesthetics in my opinion.

phyrexianplaguelord4. The Phyrexians (all of Magic, more or less) – We’ve just seen the promised end of the Eldrazi, finally, and Magic has been through other great villains, Nicol Bolas for example, but none stand out as the main antagonist of all of the multiverse than the Phyrexians. What I like about the Phyrexians is that they are pretty much fully-realized as the worst thing that could happen to a plane. Constructed by Yawgmoth, on their eponymous mechanical plane, they invade other planes and spread sickness and death in order to “compleat” beings – meaning to replace biological body parts with mechanical body parts little by little, until nothing but the mechanical parts remain. This opens up a philosophical question, much in the same vein of the Boat of Theseus: if one were to remove a plank from a boat and replace it with a new one, and keep doing this little by little until the entire boat is entirely new pieces – is it still fundamentally the same boat?

Aside from trampling ancient philosophical questions, the Phyrexians have also been the focal point of a large part of Magic’s history. Virtually the entire Weatherlight saga, that spanned for many years during the 90’s and 00’s, the ongoing story was that of the Weatherlight crew trying to combat an impending invasion from the Phyrexians. Later on, we see them again compleating old familiar faces on Mirrodin, and particularly there, their new mechanic Infect serves them well in creating a threatening, evil faction. Props to the old workhorse of the Phyrexians, they take the number three slot on this list!

student of ojutai3. Clan Ojutai (Dragons of Tarkir) – Clan Ojutai retains many of the philosophical elements of their former incarnation of the Jeskai Way when Sarkhan changes Tarkir’s timeline which leads to the fall of the khans and their clans as part of the Fate Reforged storyline. But, while some of the old clans of Tarkir, perhaps most notably the Temur and the Sultai clans, end up serving their new dragonlords as lesser beings, Ojutai decides to take on his new subjects as students, because he is the great teacher. Clan Ojutai values study, knowledge, wisdom, and learning, and as a teacher myself, I can respect and relate to that. Aside from the fact that Ojutai himself partakes in terrible intellectual dishonesty due to erasing parts of the history of the plane in order to make himself out to be greater than he might be, I can sympathize with most of what they are doing.

Though non-dragon members of the clan are certainly in part second-rate members, much like in some of the more ruthless clans, in Clan Ojutai this is due to the fact that humans, aven and so on have much shorter lifespans and thus simply don’t have the time available to the dragons to collect wisdom. This is also very appealing to me, the fact that the dragons out-rank the humans and aven isn’t due to their physical size or strength, it is due to their knowledge and wisdom.

Mechanically, however, Clan Ojutai brings few new things to the table, using Rebound, a reprinted mechanic from Rise of the Eldrazi as their signature move. That keeps them from reaching any higher on this list.

dimir doppelganger2. House Dimir (Ravnica, Gatecrash) – Though Mr. Sean Whatson of Commanderin‘ fame may claim to be the “Dimirest Man Alive”, I too carry a soft spot for them in my heart. As the blue-black aligned guild of the cityplane of Ravnica, House Dimir is a secretive society, operating from the shadows using classical methods of espionage, deception, assassination and manipulation to procure information (or “secrets”) which they then sell on the black market of Ravnica. They are the essence of the knowledge of blue paired with the ambition of black.

House Dimir’s guild leader, Szadek, serves as the main antagonist of the original Ravnica’s storyline, making the guild very prominent to the players, but within the lore, House Dimir is so extremely secretive, most Ravnicans believe there are only nine guild on their plane. Both the guildpact drafted before the story starts, the guildpact formed after the events of the Dissention set, and the guildpact drafted by Teysa Karlov as part of the Return to Ravnica storyline recognizes only nine guilds. The guild is so secretive, most people who deal with them have no idea that House Dimir is behind the agents meeting them – they think that they deal with guildless or with agents from other guilds. In extreme cases, not even the agents aligned with the guild itself is completely sure who they are actually working for.

So, for being blue and black, and being the epitome of secretive, House Dimir takes the number two slots. Their keyworded ability from Ravnica, Transmute, is very powerful indeed, especially in EDH where tutoring is very powerful even if restricted, but it leads to repetitive gameplay. In Gatecrash, they got a new keyword in Cipher, which wasn’t as powerful as Transmute, but was clunky, only went on spells, and used the awkward “encode” wording. Thus, for being awesome in spirit, but awkward in mechanics, Dimir reaches number two!

snowhorn rider1. The Temur Frontier (Khans of Tarkir, Fate Reforged) – I wasn’t very interested in Khans of Tarkir when it was first announced. I’m not a huge fan of Mongolian popular history, nor was I in reality very excited about the coveted “wedge” set. But boy howdy, did Wizards prove me wrong on this one, and it is in large parts thanks to The Temur Frontier. Gathering much inspiration from peoples living in northern parts of the asian continent, the Temur lead a harsh nomadic life in the wilderness of Tarkir. They value strength, family, and survival above all else, and they don’t fight unless provoked (mostly by the Mardu Horde).

In battle, they join forces with bears, ride huge beasts, fight alongside ainok, loxodon and elementals alike, and they slide down hill slopes on top of sleds made from weapons as parts of their charge. Containing their awesome is impossible! The Temur Frontier is also the home of the whisperers, a type of shamans that can commune with animals and each other through a sort of hive mind state. The Temur Frontier are essential to the Tarkir storyline, in that Yasova Dragonclaw, the khan of the clan during Fate Reforged, is manipulated by Nicol Bolas into assisting in the killing or injuring of Ugin, depending on the timeline.

Their clan ability, Ferocious, isn’t much to write home about, since it’s merely a revamped version of Naya’s signature ability in the Alara block, but it did play very well in limited (Savage Punch was definitely green’s best common in triple-KTK, and perhaps one of the best commons in the set) and it is somewhat flavourful. Further, Surrak Dragonclaw, the khan of the clan in the Khans of Tarkir timeline, became khan by punching a bear. Likely in half. How awesome is that?


What do you think of my list? What’s your own top 5? Leave a comment below!

Kaya, Ghost Assassin

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A couple of days ago, Wizards released some information about an upcoming planeswalker, likely to be printed in this summer’s Conspiracy 2 – Kaya, Ghost Assassin. The little we know so far is neatly contained in her Planeswalker page, and in a story about her, known as “Laid to Rest“. Contrary to some of the other stuff – Laid to Rest is actually pretty good! Magic story is a guilty pleasure of mine, but I’ll admit I like it way better when released piece-meal on a weekly basis than published thrice a year in book form. The Tarkir story was often pretty well done, and I liked many of the characters. The stories regarding the Avengers Gatewatch, however, have yet to thrill me in the same way. Laid to Rest, however, was pretty neat, and I recommend you check it out!

We don’t know much about Kaya yet, but in this post, I will present my theory regarding her colours. Read on to find out!

I will spoil Laid to Rest, so if you’re interested in reading it without any spoilers, do so before reading on. Spoilers after this awesome pic of Kaya:

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Kaya, to me, seems like at least Dimir (blue-black). She is an assassin, or rather, a ghostbusting assassin, but she murders sentient beings for profit. She seems, in the story, to be of the ambitious kind, and ambition is black. Further, she values knowledge, information and planning, and that is clearly fundamental blue values. She seems to be the one who murders Brago, on a contract from Marchesa, another ambitious part-Dimir character.

However, she is also bound by some sort of honour codex, which the end of the story presents. Rules and regulations are white. Also, she has some abilities of spirits and in the game of Magic, white has the most spirits (followed by black, blue, green, red in that order).

This, in conclusion, leads me to believe that she is Esper (white-blue-black), and we haven’t yet seen an Esper coloured planeswalker, so I think we’re due one. We already have a three-coloured planeswalker in Standard right now, but it’s quite obvious Kaya will be printed in a non-standard set, so that shouldn’t be a restriction.


And that’s my theory – Kaya will be Esper! What do you think? Am I right or wrong? Leave a comment!

Creature Type Sorcery Plays Pauper

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Today I played some Pauper, with a sweet BW deck.

Watch the vido below for more of the action!

 

 

Thank you! 😀

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! 😀

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

 

The Hipster factor

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“What is that game you’re playing?”

I think a lot of us have been asked that question at some point when playing Magic at a cafeteria table in school, by the kitchen table around nosy siblings, or in a local gaming store not dedicated to cardboard slinging specifically. Ponder a proper answer to that question for just a second.

Done?

I’m going to guess that you will try and explain that the game is a sort-of mix between chess and poker, with a fantasy flavour stapled on to it. If the person you’re talking to is invested in gaming you might use terms like “trading card game”. Most of the time, I find myself explaining to people that “you take these cards, there are many thousands of them, and you build a deck for yourself and you play against other people who have built decks.”

Usually, there is no point going deeper into the topics of metagaming, archetypes, net decking etc. – to the person you’re explaining the game to, you’re a deckbuilder, and you play against other deckbuilders. Never mind the fact that most of us will never T8 a grand prix with a rogue brew of our own, or make a mark on the Standard metagame with some new tech. Innovation is most of the time for the pros, unfortunately, when it comes to most formats.

zurtheenchanterThe exception is EDH. In EDH, building something for yourself is almost the norm. You select the commander you would like to build a deck around, and even though you technically can net deck an EDH list it might be unwise. Every play group is its own metagame, and a deck that is too powerful or percieved as too powerful might construct a new downside to the player – the others around the table will bully you out. Even though your net decked Zur list is awesome, the others will catch on as soon as you reveal it, and kick you out of the game Archenemy style. This fact seems to frustrate most tournament-calibre spikes that dip their toes into the water.

Innovation, thus, is sometimes key to being able to play politically. On top of that, EDH seems to be one of those formats that people play specifically to discover new cards.


I’m relating this to one of my more recent decks. I was looking to play some more red, since I wasn’t playing red at all for a while, and I settled on re-building my Meren deck after a while and make her Jund. I’ve been wanting to rebuild her since I noticed she was the most popular Golgari general on EDHREC.com – playing her lost me a lot of Hipster points. I’m not trying to say that innovation is quantifiable, but I believe most people will agree that it’s boring to sit down at a table and see the same general in every game played against you. I wanted to build Adun Oakenshield, but he is expensive and hard to come by, so that project is slated for late 2020 instead.

prosshskyraiderofkherAfter going over the other Jund options, I found that most were either too weak, too similar to Meren (like Shattergang Brothers or Kresh the Bloodbraided for example – both being prime examples of “sac for value” type generals), I decided to just say “screw it” and go with Prossh, Skyraider of Kher.

This might make me a hypocrite, on paper, since Prossh is by far the most popular Jund commander, but I regained a few Hipster points just last weekend when I decided to cut all of the “sac for value” cards and go balls-to-the-wall aggro with Prossh. I’m not pretending to innovate on Prossh as a general, but I do play some unusual cards – like Berserk, Diligent Farmhand, or Inferno Titan. A link, to my deck: Prossh it to the limit, on TappedOut.net.

What’s imporant to me is that the deck feels like my own, even if the general is hugely popular. It boils down to some sort of Rifleman’s Creed thing – this is my deck, there are many like it but this one is mine.

That, and all the Hipster points I make from Wydwen and Ojutai must be invested somewhere. I deserve to sometimes just bust out Prossh and destroy my opponents with enough force to leave only a pair of smoking boots behind. To quote XKCD’s “What if?” blog: in a way, they don’t die, they just stop being biology and start being physics.


What do you think? How important is creativity and innovation to you when it comes to Magic or EDH? Leave a comment!

Unboxing a display of Fate Reforged. Ugin?

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The title pretty much says it all, and the Video will show it all so I will just shut up now!

Here is the Video:

 

Over and Out!

 

The Great Teacher’s domain

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A while back, I was talking to our friendly neighbourhood Lavamancer, on Facebook. This isn’t unusual, since we talk on Facebook most days – but on this particular day, we were talking about new EDH decks, and Mr. Lavamancer hatched the plan of building Dragonlord Atarka. I wasn’t to be outdone, so I countered (pun intended) by saying that I have to build Dragonlord Ojutai – which I did, though he finished his deck before I finished mine.

Mr. Lavamancer also came up with the rather excellent idea of drawing a custom playmat for his deck, and I asked him to make one for me too. Today, we got the results in the mailbox, and it was worth every penny, customs and all. I thought I’d show off my own playmat, with the hopes of Mr. Lavamancer showing off his in the near future.

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The playmat, in all its glory. Everything is drawn by Mr. Lavamancer, with periodic feedback from me. In essence, Mr. Lavamancer played up the Teacher aspect of The Great Teacher, which suits me just fine, since I’m a teacher too! There’s a lot of detail crammed in to the picture and some in-jokes, so I’ve snapped a few pictures to show off some of them (click to enlarge).


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Close-up of the board

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The teachers’ lounge, a.k.a. the command zone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Random student, Blue from our own Mana Burn webcomic series, and Narset featuring a dunce cap

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Library, graveyard and exile zones respectively

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Great Teacher hanging out in the teachers’ lounge!

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Some of the lands in the deck displayed in the classroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t wait to break it out against the others on Friday, if I can find a hole in my schedule to get away for some EDH. I’m really happy with how the mat turned out!