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?

 

MTGO on Stream!

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Hello!

Yesterday I was in the mood to stream. So what game to pick? Of course Magic the Gathering Online!

In the following stream you will see some Momir Basic, one game of Legacy and some 4player commander. All at the company of my soothing voice and some wonderful music.

Know issues? Twitch and Youtube do not really like when you play music so some of it might be silenced. I skipped through the video but did not find any, but some may be!

Please let me know if you have any comments about this broadcast! Good, bad whatever, I want to hear it!  I want to do more of these, and I want to improve, to grow (not in bodysize).

So here is the stream, in all its unedited glory!

 

 

Over and Out!

The woes of tiny metagames, part 2

deathrite banner 2This isn’t really a continuation of my previous post, The woes of tiny metagames from last year, but it does have some connections, prompting me to use the name. First of all, both that post and this post are about tournaments small enough to be decided by four rounds. Second of all, I played Team America in both tournaments. Thirdly, they focus on strange things that happen when metagames turn too small.

hymntotourach3.hqAfter the banning of Dig Through Time, I was excited to return to form and play some more Legacy. Since no decks could easily just draw the best two out of the top seven for UU, I figured Hymn to Tourach was again playable, but I was too out of touch with the metagame in general to judge how good it was. It wasn’t by the way, but that wasn’t because I failed to properly read the Decks to Beat section on The Source. It was because I played in a small, four-round tournament in a local metagame.

My list for the day: Good Old America, on TappedOut.net.

Here are my matches, in order:

Round 1: LED-Dredge (W 2-1)

Round 2: Reanimator (W 2-1)

Round 3: Manaless Dredge (W 2-1)

Round 4: Grixis Delver (W 2-1)

Semifinals: Reanimator (not the same guy as Round 2) (L 0-2)

In short, 40% of the decks in the room were graveyard-based combo decks, meaning my sideboarded Surgical Extractions and Tormod’s Crypt were awesome all day. I won’t do a complete report, since my notes are bad and it’s hard to remember details from such similar matches. However, here are some fun facts and weird things that happened during the day:

  • I didn’t win a single game one over the entire day. Obviously my main deck needs work but the side board was awesome.
  • I lost all die rolls except against my round three opponent. How ironic.
  • My Delver of Secrets failed to flip for six (6!) turns in a row against my round 2 opponent.
  • I beat an active Iona, Shield of Emeria in round 2.
  • The same guy animated a Griselbrand on the first turn of the first game of that round. Even though I had Force of Will in hand.
  • I got to live the dream by going turn one Deathrite Shaman into turn two Hymn to Tourach + Wasteland against Grixis Delver. Yeah, got there that game.
  • Against Manaless Dredge, there was a point where I had Surgical Extraction in hand, and could aim it at either Golgari Thug, Phantasmagorian or Bridge from Below. I was pondering the dredger, to stop him from dredging and forcing another end-of-turn discard, but there’s always the chance that he has a Street Wraith sandbagged, and I elected to take the Bridges. “Three bridges in hand?” I almost said in jest, and in retrospect, I should have made the call. He did, in fact, have all the three other Bridge from Below in hand, making my Surgical Extraction a three-for-one. Once in a lifetime.

All in all, I had a good day, even if the semi finals wasn’t anything to talk about. He beat me game one through second turn reanimation with counter back up, and I mulled to five in the second game and didn’t stand a chance. Variance was high all day, one could say.

The deck that never was

dig through time bannerDing dong, another one bites the dust, etc…

Announcement Date: September 28, 2015
Effective Date: October 2, 2015
Magic Online Effective Date: October 7, 2015

Legacy:
Dig Through Time is banned.
Black Vise is unbanned.

Vintage:
Chalice of the Void is restricted.
Dig Through Time is restricted.
Thirst for Knowledge is unrestricted.

Source: The Mothership.

I stated yesterday here that I was going to attend a Legacy event for the first time since forever. Well, this was the main deck that I sleeved up on Sunday night. Might’ve been foolish, but it didn’t actually cross my mind that the banning announcement was today.

Castlevania (“Burg” is German for “castle”, get it?)

4 Flooded Strand
3 Polluted Delta
2 Misty Rainforest
4 Wasteland
2 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island

4 Deathrite Shamandigthroughtime.full
4 Delver of Secrets
3 Tarmogoyf
1 Snapcaster Mage

4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
3 Dig Through Time
1 Sylvan Library

4 Daze
4 Force of Will
3 Spell Pierce

4 Lightning Bolt
2 Abrupt Decaye

 

So yeah, it was probably pretty broken anyway, and I can’t say that I’m bitter. In my humble opinion, OmniShow was a lot better at abusing Dig Through Time than Delver ever was. It’s a shame, however, that the deck looks like a blast to play. I guess I have some re-thinking to do for Saturday, huh.

What do you think of the new bannings? Leave a comment!

[Battle for Zendikar] New duals!

nde bannerJust a quick morning post, PAX has resulted in a lot of cool spoilers, and I will cover them all (Ulamog, Gideon, the chase rares) in time, but for now, the most important bits are these doozies:

prariestream(There is one for each friendly colour combination of course).

New duals with the basic land types is exciting, and even thouh these will be worse than the Ravnica Shock lands in Modern and obviously unplayable in Legacy, I’d say that they will go very nicely into two-colour decks in EDH. Perhaps even three-colour. The restriction, that you have to play two basic lands first to get them into play untapped, is a very interesting design and I like these quite a bit.

What do you think of the new duals? Leave a comment!

[Battle for Zendikar] Guardian of Tazeem

nde bannerThe World Championships are running right now at PAX, and while I’m excited to see no less than two Swedes fighting for the title, I’m also excited for the new Battle for Zendikar spoilers! This little thing showed up in the middle of the stream yesterday:

guardianoftazeem

As of right now, I haven’t found a better scan, so I apologize for the quality.

While this fellow probably won’t make a splash in any of the constructed formats I care about (Legacy and EDH), he is a complete Limited bomb and a very effective beater. 4/5 flier for 5 is above the curve as-is, and the Landfall ability makes it crazy. Despite what I said about constructed formats, fetchlands make him even more crazy, since that means he can tap down two things.

Overall, I’d say it’s a good card with a neat design. What do you think?

Magic Origins: More EDH and constructed

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More spoilers coming in late (I love when they spoil big sets with lots of rares). The first was spoiled by Jimmy and Josh of The Command Zone: 

the great aurora

Pardon the blurry image, but their site seems to be down at the time of writing. In any case, this card is bonkers in EDH, it is essentially a board wipe for green decks that resets the game. I’m not sure what kind of deck would want this card right now, but I’d say any green deck with lots of lands could make good use of it – perhaps Titania, Protector of Argoth?

Here is their latest podcast episode in its entirety. They discuss the new card at around 51:01.

Further, I’d like to discuss Containment Priest‘s spell kin:

hallowed moonlight

Instead of being a 2/2 with Flash, it is a cantripping Instant. Initially, I don’t think it’s quite as good as Containment Priest, mostly because it’s just a one-shot effect. In Legacy, I’d say “Draw a card” is more valuable than a vanilla 2/2 body, even in decks that might run equipment. Hallowed Moonlight will only be around for a single turn, meaning it must be spent very well in order to not just have the Sneak and Show player pass, untap the following turn and win from there. That said, it is at least playable in Modern I’d wager, even if Birthing Pod is banned.

What do you think of these new cards? Leave a comment!

Magic Origins: Demonic Pact

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The black mythic was spoiled today, and it’s called Demonic Pact.

demonicpact

The card is extremely flavourful, the art is pretty nice (even if Liliana’s… assets… are perhaps played up a bit too much) but the card itself will probably never see play outside casual constructed. Losing on the upkeep on the fourth turn after this is cast is rough and probably bad for all the formats I care about.

In Limited, it doesn’t affect the board when cast, and one of the modes doesn’t affect the board directly, and one does so only indirectly. Since board presence is the most important part of Limited (aside weird versions like cube drafts), this means the card is probably pretty terrible in Limited.

Legacy is way, way too fast of a format for anything that costs four mana and doesn’t read “you win the game” outright (i.e. Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Aluren, Sneak Attack).

EDH is too big and powerful for the effects. Making “all opponents discard two cards” might be playable, and drawing cards is integral to the format, but it’s too little, too late when competing with Phyrexian Arena and Necropotence.

consumingcontractThat said, the card is very, very cool and I have to bring up the fact that deja-vu hit me like a truck when I read it. I scoured the internet for some time before I found out why: the card is actually one of the submissions for You Make the Card 4, which was voted down in favour of what would become Waste Not. The card was nicknamed “Consuming Contract” which might even be a better name considering the aliteration, but eventually lost out.

Proof found here on the mothership.

This fact makes me excited for WotC using other ideas from You Make the Card in the future, especially since a few of the submissions who lost out to Waste Not were so much better.

What do you think of Demonic Pact? Leave a comment!

Reaching Threshold at FNM

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I’ve been missing FNM’s a lot lately, my job takes a lot of time, my fiancé and I are planing our wedding, and we’re in the process of relocating. Through some miracle, however, I managed to get away Friday evening this week to play the local FNM, and this week was Legacy. I chose to bring Canadian Threshold (which you might call RUG Delver, if you’re wrong).

My list can be found here on TappedOut.net. In short, it’s bog standard RUG, it’s my favourite competitive deck of all time, and I chose to play Nimble Mongoose this time, over Hooting Mandrills, partly because of nostalgic reasons, and partly because I think Nimble Mongoose is viable. I also knew we’d have at least one Miracles player and at least one Grixis Delver player, so Shroud would come in handy.

deathriteshaman.hqRound 1: Punishing Jund. Usually, Jund is a pretty terrible match-up, and I lost against this player last time we played, but for budgetary reasons, he doesn’t play with Tarmogoyf, meaning his deck is a bit slower than usually. That said, out of all the green decks in Legacy not named Elves, I think Punishing Jund is the one that can most easily replace Tarmogoyf with Scavenging Ooze and other cards promoting a grindy game plan. In game one, he mulligans to six and stumbles a bit on mana. These are situations where Canadian Threshold shines, and I outrace a 6/6 Scavenging Ooze for the win, about a turn before he would’ve stabilized.

In game two I have to tripple-counter a Dismember targeting my Tarmogoyf since I have only soft counters in hand, no other threats and no cantrips to look for some. Dismember did get countered, and Tarmogoyf went the distance while I burned his potential blockers.

Round 2: Sneak and Show. This match was pretty miserable, honestly. I mulligan to five in game one, mulling a 5-land, 2-soft counters hand first, and a 0-lander second, and I keep a hand of land, threat, 2 cantrips and a soft counter. He goes turn one double Lotus Petal, land, Show and Tell. I put in a land, he puts in Emrakul.

I board into lots of countermagic over some burn spells and win game two off of a single Nimble Mongoose while drawing more or less only countermagic.

In game three, he plays a turn two Blood Moon with Force of Will back up. GG.

delverofsecrets.hqRound 3: Grixis Delver. I lose game one after getting Wastelanded out, but I turn it around and win two quite exciting, close games. He had some awesome cards like Dig Through Time and Tasigur, but Nimble Mongoose was difficult for him to handle. I almost bought it when he two-for-one’d me with Engineered Explosives blowing up a Nimble Mongoose and an unflipped Delver of Secrets, but I topdecked better than him and won the long Delver mirror this time.

2-1 was good enough for second place on tiebreakers, and I walked away with a promo and a booster for my troubles. I also traded for a new EDH project I’m working on. All in all, a really sweet evening.

Mokeying around at local FNM

hooting mandrills banner

I’m currently coming down with a cold, and the cold forced me to cancel my much-anticipated Magic-related plans, which sucks, however, it did allow me to play in the local FNM this week, which happened to be Legacy. At first I was excited to try Canadian Threshold with Hooting Mandrills, but I got cold feet and was about to sleeve up Team America instead. Fortunately, my friend saved me when he texted me and asked to borrow my Underground Seas and a few other cards, which settled me on Canadian Threshold. My list mirrored the one I proposed when I discussed adding Hooting Mandrills to the deck, and it can be found in this post. I ended up playing three monkeys and a Fire // Ice in the flex slot.

Eight people showed up, which meant three rounds of sweet Legacy. The metagame breakdown was as follows:

1 Canadian Threshold (me)
2 Elves
1 Merfolk
1 ANT
1 Punishing Jund
1 DeathBlade
1 Grixis Delver

Round 1: Grixis Delvergurmagangler.full
I first thought I was up against Sneak and Show, since that is my opponent’s usual deck, though he has played both RUG and BUG Delver in the past. I keep a disruption-heavy hand to be able to counter his early bombs, but with no beater. His first land is a Volcanic Island, but quickly followed by a Delver of Secrets. I deny him mana while I cantrip into a removal for his threat, and I win on the back of my own Delver of Secrets, after drawing like three Stifles.

I board out Force of Will in favor of Pyroblasts.

In game two, he Thoughtseizes me and takes a Tarmogoyf while leaving Hooting Mandrills in hand. This comes back to bite him, quite literally, when I cast the monkeys on turn three, for a single mana, while leaving up mana to Stifle his stuff. The monkeys go all the way. Woo!

1-0 (2-0)

After scooping, he reveals his secret tech – Gurmag Angler! Clearly, the inferior Delve creature compared to its monkey cousins, but still very respectable.

 

Round 2 – Merfolktrue-namenemesis.full
I think this match-up is pretty unfavourable. but in game one, I get a pretty good start. I drop a Delver of Secrets who flips instantly, and I play a second one on my third turn. Meanwhile, he has a Master of the Pearl Trident, and a couple of Mutavaults. He also casts a Phantasmal Image and copies my flipped Delver of Secrets. I cantrip looking for removal for his flier, but find none, and reason that I’m the beatdown since he has all the inevitability in the world. I offer the trade and he takes it. My second Delver of Secrets refuse to flip, showing a Polluted Delta twice in a row, and after he casts both a True-Name Nemesis and a second Master of the Pearl Trident, he swings for 16 in a single turn. Ouch.

I board in Pyroblasts yet again, along with Krosan Grip in case he has Back to Basics.

I get a great start in the second game and he stumbles a bit with what looked like a clunky draw. I win quite quickly with Hooting Mandrills. Woo!

In game three, he keeps a greedy one-lander, and I again get a pretty damn good start, and win with Hooting Mandrills again. Woo!

2-0 (4-1)

Round 3 – Punishing Jund
Okay, yet another quite miserable match-up. Games one and two are fairly uneventful, I open a hand of two removals and five lands and ship it, find no lands in either my six or five, and he wins the first game with little struggle. I board in Submerge, and win game two fairly easily on the back of a good draw and some monkeys. Woo!

Game three is very grindy, and grindy games favour him a lot. I probably make a mistake when I let Abrupt Decay destroy my last threat, a flipped Delver of Secrets, while sitting on two Submerges and no cantrips. Using one of the Submerges to keep the pressure up seems like a really bad idea, but on the other hand, I had no other out to win the game. A few turns later, after some more grind, he drops Choke, with no response from me. I have to topdeck into more lands to cast creatures, and after he trades down 2-for-1 twice against my Hooting Mandrills with block + burn, I’m out of gas and he wins through a Deathrite Shaman.

Losing such a close game is always a bummer, but it was a very close game with some very exciting final turns. He was down to less than five life when I died.

2-1 (5-3)

2-1 meant second place, and after two fairly difficult match-ups and a Delver mirror, I can’t be too sad. The MVP for the night were definitely Hooting Mandrills, and I think I will try the full set over True-Name Nemesis next time. Multiples were never an issue, and it’s a very good beater.

Monkeys for life.

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