Queen Marchesa, Monarchs and keywords!

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By now, we all know that Kaya killed Brago, and after Brago was dethroned (hah!), the one who usurped him was Marchesa, the Black Rose, who was also present for the original Conspiracy set. Today, her card was revealed, and it is indeed very interesting:

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So, on face value, she’s a 3/3 Deathtouch, haste creature for four, in the Mardu colours. This is pretty neat for Mardu in EDH, even if she’s terribly overshadowed by other offensive powerhouses like Zurgo Helmsmasher and Kaalia of the Vast. Deathtouch means she’s a lot better on defense, however.

Further, she uses the new keyword “monarch” twice – and while exact rules aren’t quite known yet, it seems to be an emblem-like state in that being “monarch” doesn’t grant you a permanent which can be destroyed, but it can be removed, contrary to emblems. Here’s the token card used for The Monarch:

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This seems like great  fun in multiplayer, and it’s sure to be useful outside of Conspiracy 2 draft, in EDH specifically. The new Marchesa is a Phyrexian Arena on a stick in colours that are more than capable of keeping creatures off their backs. Mardu has all the best spot removal in the format, and it also comes with neat tricks such as Ghostly Prison and their like.

So far, we’ve only seen a few cards that interact with the monarch state, but I think it has great promise, and Marchesa makes me want to build a Mardu political deck full of neat value cards and utility removal.

Lastly, the fact that we have a true Monarchy of Roses brings joy to my heart:


What do you think of Queen Marchesa and monarchy? Leave a comment!

The Prince and the Pauper

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In informal terms, different limited environments are sometimes described as being either “prince” or “pauper”, or rather – there’s a scale with one end labeled prince and the other end pauper, and all limited environments can be placed in between. A format leaning towards pauper (through coincidence, this is only tangentially related to the constructed format of the same name) is defined by its commons – there are good threats and good removal at the common level, there might be synergies to be drafted and so on. A format leaning towards “prince” is defined by bomby rares and mythic rares – where these cards that outshine the uncommon and common cards in the format by a large margin, so large that it puts the emphasis on drafting around these powerful rares.

wingmateroc.full3x Khans of Tarkir was, according to some, a pauper format. There’s no denying that there are plenty of powerful rares; High Sentinels of Arashin, Sagu Mauler, and Wingmate Roc are all game-breaking cards that will dominate most any limited board states, but the format also contains a bunch of binder fodder as well as some great commons.

Fate Reforged, on the other hand, was according to many a prince format with very powerful rares and the Fate-Khans-Khans drafts were usually focused on opening something sweet in Fate Reforged and then making sure to draft something that could play your bomb rare. Since this is the opinion of Luis Scott-Vargas and other pros, I’m left with no credentials nor confidence to stand against these titans. I agree.

However, part of the problem of Fate Reforged being full of bomby rares is that it is the first pack to be drafted. If you open a Dromoka, the Eternal in your first pack, there would have to be a right long string of good UR Tempo cards coming for you not to at least splash the Dromoka. The rare dictates the draft too much in this case. But, when Fate Reforged is opened in Dragons-Dragons-Fate drafts, people are already probably locked into a couple of colours. As such, I expect us to see people second- or third-picking Dromoka and friends, unless someone is hate-drafting them.

The problem with the Fate Reforged rares being too powerful might still be there – there’s lots more of Dragons of Tarkir to be seen, specifically commons and uncommons, but they won’t quite dictate our drafts in the future in the same way as they have in Fate-Khans-Khans. Personally, I think some decent unconditional removal in the common or uncommon slots would solve the problem outright.

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My first M15 draft experience

I have previously read about how the M15 Limited experience is quite good, and much better than M14. Historically, I’ve never taken Limited very seriously, though I’ve won the occasional prerelease. I really like drafting, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to draft M15 for the first time at the LGC. We were 8 people drafting, followed by three rounds of swiss, meaning 3-0 would take first place barring unintentional draws. Very nice and casual.

In the draft I tried to stay as open as possible in the first pack. I read Melissa DeTora‘s article on archetypes and imagined I could draft Ur Artifacts pretty undisturbed, so that was the original plan. The first decent card, a Scrapyard Mongrel, didn’t show up until the middle of the first pack, not a single Aeronaut Tinkerer, no Ensoul Artifacts and no Shrapnel Blasts. I had picked up two Welkin Terns instead, and by the time we rolled into pack two, I was deep into Uw Fliers, an archetype not mentioned by DeTora in her article, but I had enough fliers for 1U or 1W to justify it, in my opinion. I picked up a Triplicate Spirits in the second pack, a Paragon of Gathering Mists and a pair of Sungrace Pegasus. The third pack yielded my only rares, Mass Calcify and Chasm Skulker.

The deck I sleeved up:

1 Geist of the Moorwelkintern.full
1 Raise the Alarm
1 Razorfoot Griffin
2 Sungrace Pegasus
1 Tireless Missionaries
1 Triplicate Spirits
1 Chasm Skulker
1 Coral Barrier
1 Frost Lynx
2 Kaprsho Kitefins
2 Research Assistant
1 Paragon of the Gatherings Mists
2 Welkin Tern

2 Oppresive Rays
1 Encrust
1 Into the Void
2 Void Snare

9 Plains
8 Island

 

Sideboard cards that mattered:
1 Mass Calcify
1 Oppresive Rays
1 Peel from Reality
1 Tyrant’s Machine

 

Overall, the deck is probably pretty bad. There are no bombs at all to be found, every creature it plays dies to Lightning Strike and the removals in the deck are situational or temporary. I was all-in on the tempo plan therefore.

 

Round 1 vs. GB Reanimator

My opponent kept milling himself for the first turns of the first game, shaming me as I had to read many of the cards he milled. I played a bunch of fliers and attacked meanwhile. On turn six or seven, he dropped his bomb: Nissa, Worldwaker, animated a land and passed the turn. I cast Into the Void, targeting the land and a five-drop, killed Nissa and attacked him to 8. He scooped, as he had no way of stopping me from swinging for lethal in the air.

In game two, my opponent kept a pretty loose hand after a mulligan and I won very quickly with my fliers. Turn two Welkin Tern, turn three Raise the Alarm, turn four Triplicate Spirits, if I recall correctly.

 

1-0 (2-0)

 

Round 2 vs. Rg Beats

My opponent had drafted an aggressive red deck with a slight green splash, meaning I was scared of Lightning Strikes. My opponent wins the roll and starts the game with a turn two Borderland Marauder and turn three Krenko’s Enforcer. However, he stumbled a bit on mana, and my hand was very aggressive. I managed to gain some time with Tireless Missionaries and win with my fliers. In game two, he has a great hand against my mana-heeavy draw and wins very easily and quickly. In game three, I draw all three Oppresive Rays, to effectively make him choose between attacking or playing more threats. I win in the air after a rather grindy match.

 

2-0 (4-1)

 

Round 3 (effectively finals) vs. Wb Lifegain

My opponent was the only other one on white, aside myself, and he was sitting on the other side of the table, so he had an awesome deck. Ajani’s Pridemate backed up by multiple Sungrace Pegasus, Divine Favor, with a black splash for, among other things, Liliana. I manage to win game one thanks to Oppresive Rays shutting down his defenses, but in game two he opens with turn two Sungrace Pegasus, turn three Ajani’s Pridemate. I bounce the Pridemate, but he can easily recast it, along with a Divine Favor on the Pegasus. I can’t find an answer to his 2/5 Flying, Lifelink and 4/4 creature and lose quickly. Game three is very grindy, and it all ends up with me having a Tyrant’s Machine, a Frost Lynx and a Welkin Tern together with a Paragon of the Gathering Mists in play. He’s at 9, but with several creatures in play. I elect to just swing with the Welkin Tern, bringing him to 6, and pass the turn. He has double Oreskos Swiftclaw (one with Divine Favor), a Preeminent Captain, a Selfless Cathar, and an Accursed Spirit with Rouge’s Gloves equipped. He swings with the entire team, and I’m at 13. I elect to tap the Accursed Spirit with the Tyrant’s Machine, since I don’t want him to be able to draw an answer to my lethal damage. Then I tank, finally coming to the conclusion that he can at most hit me for 12 unless he has a trick, if he sacrifices the Selfless Cathar. I choose not to block, since if he kills even one of my creatures, I lose lethal damage. He has the Sanctified Charge, so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. On the top of my library was a land, the third one in a row for the final game, so the outcome was assured in any case. I didn’t feel bitter at all, though, since it was a very close and exciting game.

 

2-1 (5-3)

 

Second place meant I won a couple of Qasali Pridemates (I think number seven and eight in the collection, but nevermind), but more importantly – I had great fun drafting and playing the deck. Other players at the table suggested my deck wasn’t as a bad as I thought it was, but I think Ux Skies could be drafted way better. It was, for sure, not my last M15 draft, I encourage everyone to go out and try it!