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!

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 – people 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.

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!

Vorthos vs. Spike

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Being a great teacher is sometimes about making sacrifices. It’s not uncommon to have a lesson planned for which the teacher thinks he or she is worthy some prize. Then, if the class is uncooperative, it might all fall apart. Something that the teacher thought might be on par with the class’ general knowledge might prove too difficult or too easy. Things like that happen, all the time. To be a great teacher is to adapt. It is either to adapt oneself to the environment, or to adapt the environment to oneself.

Being a great teacher is understanding what a pupil thinks she or he knows, identifying what the next step would be, and then reaching twice as high.

dragonlordojutai.fullDuring my first playtest session against my paper metagame, Ojutai felt hopelessly outclassed right from the get-go. Granted, I had a pretty lousy game, but in a format where even short games take around half an hour, and many last for three or four times that time, having a single miserable experience is hard to shake off. It’s not that I lost, badly, it was that I spent the entire two hours of the game feeling underpowered compared to the other decks around the table.

As such, I was willing to try another approach. Fewer obvious “this is here because of flavour reasons”-cards, and more cards that fall into the camp of both powerful and flavourful. For example: I cut Ertai, Wizard Adept in favor of Mystical Tutor. I cut Barrin, Master Wizard in favor of Enlightened Tutor. Both cuts were hard to make, and neither makes me feel proud, but the replacements are powerful enough. Mystical Tutor finds any of the slew of instants or sorceries in the deck, ranging from removal, to sweepers, to card-draw, to countermagic. Enlightened Tutor serves to find any voltron-piece for the general, which helps out a lot. Both the tutors are also flavour-wise tutors, meaning there is a clear connection to learning and schooling. Feel free to call me a cop-out.

brainstorm.hqBut this is my point – it’s easy to see the appeal of a well-thought-out, well-executed theme deck in the works. But what use is a theme deck if it can’t at least stand up to the metagame? I’ve played six games with Ojutai so far, and I’ve been the last teacher standing a couple of times. This isn’t that important in a casual multiplayer format, but playing an underpowered list and being miserable all evening as your friends are doing broken things is simply awful, good theme or not.

In the end it’s about having a good time, and having a good time at an EDH table, for me, depends on having a fighting chance against all the decks. My new version of Ojutai, which you can see here: link to TappedOut.net decklist, has a fighting chance against a metagame which is what I was looking for.

To summarize, it’s not a question whether to go “vorthos” or “spike”, but rather, it is a dance between the two. They exist on a scale when it comes to theme decks in EDH, and I feel alright being somewhere in the middle.

The Great Teacher, part 3

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Today is the last day of my easter break, and I want to celebrate going back to work in the morning by doing one last post about the flavour in my Ojutai deck. This part will focus on any of the cards that center on learning, but aren’t students or school supplies. deepanalysis.hq

Thirst for Knowledge, Compulsive Research, Deep Analysis – All of these cards focus on learning orschoolwork. I especially like Deep Analysis, the cephalid in the art are obviously taking part in a biology lesson and are about to dissect a Masticore. All three are pretty good cards, and all three tend to generate some sort of card advantage at best, and card quality at worst.

Fact or Fiction – Clearly a reference to some sort of religious studies lesson, a subject I happen to teach. It’s also a very, very good card, which always helps.

rhysticstudy.hqRhystic Study – The name refers to studying, the art shows a student (Alexi?), and the flavour references teaching. Twice. It has to be in the deck. It’s also very, very good, and an EDH staple, for good reason.

Concentrate – …is a good thing to do, when you study. The card is decent. That’s about it.

Council’s Judgment – This one is even more far-fetched. I call it Student Council’s Judgment, and it represents The Great Teacher’s democratic side. Otherwise, most schools have some sort of disciplinary board if students misbehave, and I guess it could represent that too. Pretty sweet card, it deals with most things, and can lead to hectic diplomatic plays around the board.

Long-Term Plans – “To teach is to plan”, a lecturer told me during my teaching education, and that is the truest statement I heard that entire five-year span. Teachers spend an obscene amount of time planning, and this card represents The Great Teacher’s planning. It also happens to synch well with his trigger, which is also very nice.

Stroke of Geniusuginsinsight.full – Having a stroke of genius sure is nice when trying to learn something, and the flavour references experimentation, an important part of any science-based subject. The card is one of three draw-X spells, along with Blue Sun’s Zenith, and Sphinx’s Revelation. The latter is maybe also tied to teaching a bit, since it references knowledge in the flavour. All three are pretty boss ways to tap out at the end of an opponent’s turn in order to get ahead in cards compared to the entire board.

Ugin’s Insight – This is probably my favourite of the teaching cards, since it’s the most obscure. Clearly, Ugin is showing Jace a PowerPoint presentation of the Eldrazi. The card, the flavour and the art also convey the fact that Ugin is more knowledgeable than Jace, and in this case, teaches him. It’s also sometimes alright, sometimes really good. Scrying 2-5 and then drawing three is usually worth 5 mana, especially when you compare it to Concentrate.


I will write a final post on the “cards that are good but not really connected to the theme” cards, and then close the book on The Great Teacher for this time. I’m only a single game into the deck right now, and big changes might happen over the coming weeks.

 

The Great Teacher, part 2

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The decklist is “complete” (I am one of those who don’t believe in finished EDH decks), and I’ve taken it for a quick spin around the club tonight, and I thought I’d celebrate this by going over the school materials that the students of The Great Teacher will get to enjoy.

minamo,schoolatwatersedge.hqMinamo, School at Water’s Edge – These days this card is quite expensive, but I picked up two of them right after they had rotated out of Standard, for next to nothing. Little did I know then that it would be pretty kick-ass in an EDH deck more than a decade later. Minamo gives The Great Teacher Hexproof on command and is a really neat card to have in the deck. Flavour-wise, it’s a school, at the water’s edge, and just so happens, the school I work at is right by a lake.

Scroll Rack, Scroll of the Masters, Merchant Scroll – All schools need books, and in The Great Teacher’s school, they come in the form of scrolls. Scroll Rack is pretty powerful on its own, and the deck has quite a few shuffle effects, Merchant Scroll can find numerous cards in the deck for cheap, and Scroll of the Masters is pretty underwhelming but quite flavourful at the same time. I like all three well enough in the deck!

Expedition Map – It’s time for a geography lesson. Expedition Map can find Minamo, which is what it does best and is in the deck to do. It’s slow, but reliable.

Detention Sphere – Students who misbehave in The Great Teacher’s classroom get to go to the Detention detentionsphere.hqSphere. I plan to make a tiny paper dunce cap to put on the card currently in detention, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. In terms of game-play, it is pretty close to a blue-white Vindicate, even if it does get randomly destroyed sometimes, but it has the upside of being great against token decks in general. I don’t think I’d play blue-white without it.

Ring of Thune – This could perhaps pass as a class ring? In all honesty, it’s mostly there for the effect, giving The Great Teacher vigilance is really powerful, since it turns on his inherent hexproof all the time. In flavour terms it’s hard to justify, but I think a portion of the deck ought to be cards to grant The Great Teacher vigilance.

 

And that’s it for the school material! In the next post, I will go over any card that has to do with learning!

The Great Teacher, part 1

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Since my friend who you know as your friendly neighbourhood Grim Lavamancer, who also happens to draw our local webcomic, is knee-deep in a new Dragonlord Atarka deck, I decided to follow suit and design a new EDH deck to compete i proper Elder Dragon Highlander. I decided to focus on Dragonlord Ojutai, for a few reasons:

  1. I haven’t played Azorius in ages, and blue-white is my favourite colour combination in Magic.dragonlordojutai.full
  2. Like myself, Ojutai is a teacher, and that appeals to me.
  3. I wanted to do something a bit more focused on a theme.

All of these together led me to design a deck around Ojutai as a teacher, and the primary focus being cards that has to do with teaching. Luckily, blue is all about knowledge and learning, so the theme was in fact quite easy to do once I got started. Today, I want to go over the students that will be taught by our Great Teacher in the sky, as well as the staff that might have held high positions in their old institutions, but now are relegated to mere learners like the rest of the students.

Barrin, Master Wizard – In the lore, Barrin is the headmaster of the Tolarian Academy. Since his school is these days in ruins, he has been relegated to head bookkeeper in the library. He is yet to be joined by his wife, since I’ve yet to procure a paper version of her card, but she might join Ojutai’s school in the future. Gameplay-wise, Barrin is a bit underwhelming, but can certainly be useful against several Voltron commanders, creatures with counters (hello, Animar!) and the like.

jace,themindsculptor.hqJace, the Mind Sculptor – Jace’s origin story, as detailed in Magic Origins, retells how Jace was tutored from a young age under the Sphix Alhammarret (whose name I can’t seem to be able to spell to save my life). They had a falling out in the end, when Jace discovered Alhammarret had erased parts of his memory in order to conceal the Mind Sculptor’s abilities from himself. They battled, harsh words were certainly tossed around, and Jace planeswalked away with a damage mind, after having destroyed the mental prowess of his former mentor. In the official story, Jace ends up on Ravnica, but I don’t see why he wouldn’t take a de-tour to Tarkir and find himself learning under The Great Teacher himself.

As far as his prowess goes on the table, Jace is somewhat of a rattle snake – people tend to attack him just for the heck of it, because they are genuinely scared of the card-advantage it bestows upon the controller. This is very fair, since Jace is arguably the best planeswalker ever printed. He belongs in a control strategy, especially one that can protect him well.

ertai,wizardadept.fullErtai, Wizard Adept – Ertai was a student at the Tolarian Academy, and he is the archetypical countermagic-wiedling blue mage. He is arrogant, on the brink of foolish, and often thinks he is way funnier than he actually is. After joining the Weatherlight crew, he travelled to Rath, where he was unfortunately left behind by the rest of the crew due to an emergency, corrupted and killed by accident by Squee. Very tragic. In this case, however, he is a cocky student learning from The Great Teacher, like the rest of the class. Gameplay-wise, he’s pretty bad, but he is a reusable counterspell and can probably function like a rattlesnake like Jace, though to a lesser extent. I imagine he will be soaking up a spot-removal or two in his days. The original wording of the card also invites a lecture on the history of Instants and Interrupts!

Teferi, Temporal Archmage – Another powerful student of the Tolarian Academy, Teferi plays a major role in large parts of the Magic storyline, which eventually ends with him giving up his spark at the end of the Time Spiral block. This card represents him at the peak of his power, and I find him a lot more engaging than the creature counterpart. Though his ultimate is very expensive and unlikely to be used, the other two abilities are both very useful. He’s expensive, but worth it!

Academy Elite – A group of staff from the academy in Paliano on the plane of Fiora, how could they not qualify into The Great Teacher’s class? Though obviously much less learned than The Great Teacher, these classmates can band together to create a powerful creature, and also use their own counters to fuel more card-draw. The mana cost isn’t very cheap, but it’s very non-restrictive, and considering the size could be outright enormous depending on the opposition, I’d say they’re worth it.

narsettranscendent.fullNarset Transcendent – In the lore, Narset is expelled from Clan Ojutai in the Dragons version of the Tarkir storyline, but that doesn’t stop me from including her. She is actually the only one, aside The Great Teacher himself, to know what actually happened to the Jeskai in Tarkir’s past, and her story is quite engaging. In the Khans version of the storyline she ends up dead, like most of her current fellow classmates, and I guess exile is better than death. No doubt she is a brilliant student though, so she belongs in the deck. Her abilities are pretty damn good too, all three are relevant, and her loyalty score is really high considering her relatively cheap mana cost.


That’s as far as we’ll go this time, class dismissed! If there are any other students you, dear reader, think would qualify into The Great Teacher’s Academy of Spellcasting, Learning and Plotting, feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments section below!