Category Archives: deck building


Announcing Magpie: Finally, a better way to monitor Magic Cards

Power9Pro has focused on player needs since 2008. Our first product the Dragon’s Egg is still the premier Magic/CCG carrying case, and we’re quite proud of its continued success in the market.

But carrying cards to/from tournaments and friends’ houses isn’t the end-point for Magic players.

Playing the game is only half of the picture: Many of us spend a tremendous amount of time monitoring the value of our cards–the “Collectible” aspect of our favorite Collectible Card Game.

From my own personal experience, monitoring card prices and trying to make sure I get the most value from my collection is a tremendous and unbelievably time-consuming challenge.

From talking with hundreds–if not thousands–of players over the years, I know this is a problem shared by nearly everyone in the Magic community. There are entire collections of articles written on the tedious, time-consuming techniques for trading, value-collecting and just getting the most from our cards. Talk about a dizzyingly complex game environment to find yourself in!

With that said, Power9Pro is thrilled to announce the release of Magpie, a web-based service to help players track the value of their collections and maximize trade value relative to their collection.

There are plenty of free services that players can use to look up prices, but there are none that will tell at what price a player acquired a card. There’s no service that lets players track card value customized to their collection. (As we’d expect. Free is typically fairly limited in value.)

For example, say I was able to trade a foil Vendilion Clique for a Bob and some other things (true story)…was that a good trade?

If we look at straight card prices, maybe, maybe not—”clearly depends on what the other cards are,” you might argue.

Turns out that is generally irrelevant. What actually maters most is the acquisition cost for my Vendilion Clique. If I got the Clique for $10, then the trade is phenomenal. If I got the Clique for $60, then the deal starts looking a bit more break-even. As with stocks/equities, the only thing that matters is the marginal gain in value.

Magpie helps players eliminate the ambiguity in card pricing by providing players with the tools they need to protect and maximize the value of their collections.

I like to think of myself as a fairly informed consumer but the complexities and ever-shifting ground of card value makes staying informed a very difficult challenge. Magpie simplifies all this and does the heavy analysis and tracking for you. Magpie will even tell you what cards in your collection have gone from $1 to $10. Magpie will even suggest ways to optimize your trade binders. No more lugging around unwanted cards in your trade binder!

In a world where none of us have copious amounts any free time, freeing up just an extra hour or two per week can make a tremendous difference. For me, an extra two hours per week actually means that I can play in a draft, workout or go on a date with my wife. Perhaps equally important is that I won’t have to worry about whether I’m entering a bad trade. Magpie provides all the information I need: acquisition cost, current appreciation/depreciation on a card-specific levee, and trend information. Plus it’s all relevant to me and not some unknown “market price” (set by one or two online stores I might add…).

Think about it:

  • How would you use an extra two hours per week?
  • How does an extra dollar or two gained (or avoided loss) on each trade affect your wallet or your ability to play in competitive tournaments?

For me and the hundreds of players I’ve personally spoken with about this problem, I know it can make a big difference.

Magpie is simply a better way to monitor cards.

Magpie has three plans available to meet the needs of each player: Limited, Basic and Pro.

I’m a perfect example of someone who would need/use the Basic Plan. I don’t trade frequently but do want to keep an eye on specific value cards and tournament staples. The Basic Plan allows me to track and monitor up to 100 cards—and to change the monitored cards at any time to suit my needs. Additionally, I can do an unlimited number of searches when I am trading.

Other players may be more suited toward the Pro account which allows for unlimited monitoring. I think of a few “power-traders” I know who would fall into this category.

You can learn more about Magpie here.

Happy trading,

James DiPadua

p.s. I will be at GP Vegas. If you’re interested in getting a demo of Magpie, look for the guys wearing Magpie t-shirts. :)

Vorosh, the Hunter Commander (EDH)

Ever since I first laid eyes on Nebuchadnezzar I was hooked.  The idea that they could make a Magic card out of a specific character was awesome to a kid who played D&D regularly.  The Babylonian king was my fist encounter with a Legend.   I always get a big kick from new Legendary cards and somewhere along the line I decided to try and collect one of every Legend.  I am happy to say that I own more than half of all the 532 Legendary cards out there.  I wish I would have had some sort of income back when I started playing.  There are definitely some glaring holes in my collection The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale being a bit pricey and the low print run of Portal: Three Kingdoms has been harsh, but I am pretty proud of my collection.  

My wife wanted to make a new EDH deck since she kept forgetting which slivers to tutor for in her Sliver Overlord deck and I thought it would be fun for her and I (mainly I) to go through my Legend binder and check out what Generals would be interesting.  My binder is currently in alphabetical order so we started with good ol’ Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor and worked our way from there.  It was a great way for my wife to show interest in my favorite hobby and we had a blast making fun of Grandmother Sengir.  My wife really got going once we finally came across Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

“Does infect work the same in EDH?”
“Yup, ten poison.  You might want to go green and black for the best mix of infect guys.”

Finally, my wife settled on running Vorosh, the Hunter so she could get a good mix of infect and proliferate. 


My wife wanted ways to pump her guys and ways to get past blockers and came up with a nice mix.


Then she added some removal and a few other cards that could break open any stalls.  A few tutor spells round it out.

Good Stuff

The Mana base is pretty straightforward


The bad thing about this deck is that my wife and I play one-on-one a lot and she can poison me out pretty fast.  Infect seems much more fair in a multi-player environment where it is way more difficult to poison out the whole table.  NPH gave this deck a whole bunch of goodies my favorite being Viral Drake.  I am really pumped by the new Legends in NPH and want to start building my Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer metalcraft deck.

Mirrodin Beseiged Prerelease Albuquerque Tournament Report

War!  Mirrodin is under attack and this past weekend was the first chance players had to finally pick a side in the war.  The Mirrodin Beseiged Prerelease was very different from any event Wizards has ever organized before.  Players were asked to pick a side in the Mirran v. Phyrexian war, and that side would determine what packs the players would have access to.


Chatting with other players around the hall it quickly seemed that the sides were evenly matched.  People went with Mirran because of better spot removal, better mythic rares, deeper card pool from Scars, and the more expensive prerelease foil.  People joined Phyrexia because of better sweepers and of course infect.  “It seems good when your opponent starts at 10 life,” one player told me, making the argument for infect.  The consensus was that If you picked Phyrexian you would be playing infect.  I decided to go Phyrexian because I want the third set in the block to be a dark evil place, entirely a flavor choice.  I loved the Phyrexian threat from the entire Weatherlight Saga and I was glad to see their return to Mirrodin.

For the sealed pool each player got three packs of Scars of Mirrodin and three faction packs based on their choice of allegiance.  No matter what faction a card belonged to you could play it if it was in your pool.  Here was my pool:



The first thing I looked at was how many creatures with infect I had; nine. Nine? Really?  I was sure that if I went Phyrexian I would end up with a solid amount of infect creatures.  Too bad.  Trying to keep my dream alive I looked at all of the the other cards that added poison or proliferated; seven more.  I realized that if I stuck with the infect game plan that I would force myself to play cards that were not good.  I usually do not try to force an archetype.  I decided to go back to square one and evaluate the cards the way I always do.

Bombs.  I was lucky to crack two bombs that can end the game on their own.  Carnifex Demon can wipe away the opposing board with ease.  This monster is also awkward for other infect decks to play against since any block he makes will reload him for more devastation.  Myr Battlesphere is a giant threat that will win you the game without too much effort.

Removal.  I was lucky here with plenty of good choices for spot removal and a Wrath-like effect in Creeping Corrosion (Foil).

Monsters.  I had a mixed bag of infect and non-infect guys that were all over the mana curve.  Flyers in white, but not much else.  Four mana myr would go nice with my Battlesphere.

Goodies.  Darksteel Axe was going in no matter what.  Livewire Lash too.  Other than that I was pretty flexible.

Colors.  Carnifex Demon ensured I would play Black.  I also had three Black removal spells.  Virulent wound is great at killing mana myr and opponents little infect guys.  I liked the game swing that Creeping Corrosion offers so I decided to go Green.  White was cut after that since the most important cards required WW and even though I had mana myr I did not want to loose out on black mana.  Blue was not deep enough, only Corrupted Conscience had game changing potential and I wanted to be as aggressive as possible with my curve.  I only had four Red cards  total and two Red mana myr, but those cards were all removal (one on a stick) so I decided to splash Red.  Deciding on Jund, here is what my deck looked like.

It seems like this build is not focused enough on one game plan but I just had to change my mindset.  My goal was not to poison out my opponent but rather to use my infect creatures as a from of removal.  I wanted to force my opponents into bad blocking situations to eliminate the threats from their guys and then break through with one of my bombs or equip a smaller guy to go to work.  I tried to maximize the value of each one of my cards with symmetry.

Virulent Wound can reload Carnifex Demon, can kill an Emissary to tutor up a missing land, and is removal.  Bloodshot Trainee, once equipped with the Axe or the Lash can deal with almost any threat.  Lash on any one of my infect creatures is extra awesome with Untamed Might.  Viridian Emissary was awesome for me since people would take the damage early thinking I was infect.

Took this build to a 4-0 finish at the tournament.  I won with poison counters twice and with good ol’ damage the rest of the time.  I only lost one game with it all morning.  The lesson here is to not be distracted by forcing an archetype.  Going into the tournament it was a given that if you were picking Phrexian you were picking infect.  In sealed format, it is more important to evaluate which cards have the most value through symmetry.  In draft it tends to be easier to force a specific build since you have control over what cards you will take.  I hope you all had fun at your prerelease tournaments over the weekend.  If you have any cool stories just leave a comment below.

Teneb, the Harvester EDH: Mtg Commander

The rush of the holidays are behind us.  Between bouts of shopping and decorating I got a chance to visit some family and friends.  While on my pilgrimage to Texas I caught up with my best friend, Jim.  After some preliminary catching up we decided to play some Commander.  I was fresh off of building my Kangee, Aerie Keeper deck (here) and wanted to deliver some flying beatdown.  Jim had recently put together a Teneb, the Harvester list that wanted to steal games with a big Genesis Wave.  Jim’s build was pretty awesome and I had a blast watching some cool interactions.  When it was time to go I asked Jim to e-mail me the list so I could sleeve it up and play it myself.  I have seen Genesis Wave in action in Commander many times since it came out and it can be backbreaking (just ask Power 9 Pro’s Joe about his Azusa, Lost but Seeking deck).

Since the deck wants to abuse Genesis Wave it needs to have a high concentration of permanents.  Jim runs a huge number of creatures backed up with a few artifacts, enchantments and Planeswalkers.  The list only has five non-permanents in it.

Seems a little sparse but it will work for now. I am sure Jim does not own Vampiric Tutor or it would be in there.

As for artifacts and enchantments, the selection is a bit bigger

I have always been a fan of Wild Pair in EDH.  Lurking Predators can be especially awesome in multi-player.  I thin Jim needs to be running Senseis Divining Top to take advantage of the Predators.

If you have ever been sitting opposite Sorin Markov in Commander you know that the game is pretty much over as soon as he hits the table. Liliana’s -2 ability helps look for Genesis Wave or can set up a Lurking Predator hit.

The land is pretty standard. I feel that almost every Commander deck should be running Crucible of Worlds if just for a way not to be totally blown out by Armageddon effects.

The creature package is where this deck really shines.  It is full of amazing dudes with amazing powers.  There are a lot of “enters the battlefield” effects that combo nicely with Genesis Wave.

Acidic Slime is great in EDH since there will be plenty of nice targets.  Drana is a machine-gun, destroying low toughness Generals with ease every turn and at instant speed.  Iona… well that is obvious.  Drop a Gleancrawler after you attacked with Novablast Wurm to lessen the sting.  For those of you who have not had the chance to see how much devastation Terastodon can cause, you need to trust me.  World Queller is a vastly underrated card and fits nicely with all of the recursion effects in the deck.  Thicket Elemental can be absolutely broken.

This is a great start for an awesome deck that plays with top tier creatures that can be easily cheated into play. With a few minor tweaks I am sure that this deck can be very competitive. Give me some Feedback and let me know what you think should go in or come out and I will keep the list updated.  I want to revisit this General in the future so keep the comments comming.

Kangee, Aerie Keeper EDH with Scars of Mirrodin

I cracked open my box of Scars of Mirrodin and was really excited about all of the cool new cards that will make EDH more fun. Ezuri Renegade Leader, Geth Lord of the Vault, Kemba Kha Regent, and Skithiryx the Blight Dragon were the new generals waiting to command an army and I was ready to oblige. I use black a lot in EDH and wanted to stay away from it so I decided to build off of our equipment loving cat and put together a Mono-White Kemba deck. Armed with swords and jittes and armor, Kemba was rather unimpressive. I did not put much effort into the build and ended up with a deck that wasn’t as fun as I wanted. I decided to put EDH on the back burner and played in a coupled of FNM draft events, built a budget standard deck, and played some Call of Duty. I was thinking about how good Contagion Clasp was in limited and it hit me; why not an EDH deck that makes use of Proliferate? Now that seemed more fun than gearing up death kitty.

Proliferate reads:  “You choose any number of permanents and/or players with counters on them, then give each another counter of a kind already there.”  I checked my Big Ol’ Binder of Legends and looked at my options.  The first thing that jumped at me was Experiment Kraj.  This ooze mutant just screamed potential.  The other Legend that seemed awesome to me was Kangee, Aerie Keeper.  I decided to go the route of Big Bird beats.  The basic game plan is play Kangee with kicker and use proliferate to make my flying army huge.

My first goal was to pick up all the goodies with Proliferate that would turn Kangee into BALCO for birds.  There are only six cards with Proliferate currently and I ended up using five of them:

This was a good place to start.  I decided against Throne of Geth since I felt that most of my artifacts would play an important role but I could definitely find room for it.  Double bonus!  Thrummingbird is a…. yeah a bird.  Next up was finding the rest of the flock.

This seemed like a good core for the deck.  I figured these birdies would be enough to give Alfred Hitchcock nightmares.  A few other creatures that play nice with our bird theme will also make the cut; Jotun Owl Keeper, Pride of the Clouds, and Soraya the Falconer.  The Owl Keeper works well with Proliferate.  I also wanted to point out that due to Oracle errata, cards like Soraya end up doing things a bit different that originally printed.  “Falcon” is no longer a recognized creature type so Soraya instead gives her bonus to Birds.  Another interesting change is that Kangee is now a Bird Legend so his feather counters pump him up too.  The only other creature in the deck is Weathered Wayfarer who helps us find our ever so important land.

I next wanted to include cards that work well with my tribal theme.

All of these goodies turn my Birds into beat-down machines.  Mimic Vat and True Conviction are not tribal, but I wanted to use new cards from Scars so in they go!  I needed more ways to take advantage of Proliferate so I added Coalition Relic, Energy Chamber, Everflowing Chalice, Lux Cannon, and Sigil of Distinction.  All that was left to add was tutoring and removal.



I still had some space so I decided to bring in some card drawing and some defence.  Compulsive Research, Leyline of Sanctity, Lightning Greaves, and Skullclamp.

Land Time!

This list does a good job showcasing the new mechanic, Proliferate.  I am very happy with many of the interactions.  I am always looking for feedback so leave any comments, suggestions or criticisms below.

Pauper Deck Tech – UB Teachings

Hello everyone! Recently I started playing a great deal of Pauper on MTGO, and I’ve prepared a few videos about this format. It’s a very fun and skill-intensive format that I enjoy immensely. This first video is a “Deck Tech” where I explain the deck and how it runs. Shortly I’ll post 2 sets of videos of me playing the deck, each from a Thursday Night Magic tournament. They should be up within a day or two.


UB Teachings Deck Tech

EDH General: Vhati il-Dal / EDH Decklist

Work has held me hostage the past few months but I could no longer resist the pull of Magic.  I needed to find something that would get my non-work self pumped again.  I decided to dig through my Legendary binder (I collected Legends before I ever heard of EDH, yay for me) to see what would jump out at me.  I was almost to the end of the binder when I saw my old pal, Vhati il-Dal.  Vhati is a political General that can really shine in multi-player.

I was excited to run green/black and started pulling out cards that interested me.  I dug deep into my card collection trying to come up with combos and never seen before interactions.  What I ended up with was a giant stack of cards and only 99 (!) open slots.  *sigh* 

stack-baloon It seemed like an impossible task; how do I choose between Strip Mine and Wasteland?  How can I fit all of the most broken cards ever printed in Black/Green in to one little 100 card deck?  I can debate card choices with myself all day long.  I feel it is much easier just to stuff the cards in and replace what doesn’t work later (for EDH). 

Since I had access to green I felt that 36 land slots would be perfect due to land search effects.

Lands (36)

The next step was thinning down the creatures I had marked for the deck.  With so many options in both black and green, not to mention multi-colored, the choices were tough.  After some quick assessing, I ended up with this:

Creatures (27)

Some strange choices and some no-brainers.   For me, part of the fun with EDH is using cards that rarely see play.  My favorite choice here is Cuombajj Witches, not only for the “what?” factor, but also because of the synergy with Vhati.  Krovikan Horror serves the same purpose, reusable creature kill.  I like the devour creatures in the deck, since I have put many recursion effects in; Mycoloth is way too good combined with Skullclamp.  Gleancrawler, Solemn Simulacrum and Woodfall Primus all combo nicely with devour as well.  Maybe I should up the count of devour creatures, Marrow Chomper perhaps?  Maybe not.  The critters that don’t seem to fit too well are Heartwood Storyteller, Birds of Paradise and Ohran Viper.

It was time for some back up.  Green/black has a great selection of enchantments for EDH.  I feel that every deck running green should run Sylvan Library.  Being able to stack your draws is really important in a Highlander format.

Enchantments/Planeswalkers (10)

Wild Pair is one of my all time favorite enchantments.  Some thought needs to go into your deck construction to thoroughly abuse its power.  Let’s check the synergy with Wild Pair so far; seven creatures have a combined power/toughness of four, four have a combined eight, and three have a combined twelve.  I like the idea of playing Monger and bringing Primus along for the ride. 

Now I needed the utility spells; removal, tutors, card drawing, etc.

Card Drawing/Tutors (11)

EDH is all about tutor effects.  The easier it is to find your answer/threat the better.  It is important to have some degree of deck manipulation.  Crystal Ball is perfect for EDH.  The format tends to be slower (now that Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary has been banned again) allowing incremental development a chance to pay off.  I play the Journeyer’s Kite in my other EDH deck and really like it.

In EDH you need to be able to answer multiple and various things.  Having a broad removal package is very important.

Removal (10)

Rancid Earth has great synergy with our General once we have threshold.  Morbid Bloom is definitely the odd man out, I added it to give myself more devour targets.  I know Maelstrom Pulse seems like a poor choice in EDH, but it is almost a Vindicate and it wrecks tokens.

Extra Bits(5)

The extra stuff can all be dumped, except for Restock.  The Sword is in because its new. Imp’s Mischief, as the name suggests, can create plenty of ways to mess with the other players, fitting nicely with the political nature of Vhati il-Dal.  Berserk can be a great finisher.

As I look over this list I can see a bunch of holes and cross purpose selections.  Why don’t I have Crucible of Worlds in here?  Why Worm Harvest without Life from the Loam?  Keep in mind this is a casual, multi-player deck.  That being said, I would love any Feedback the readers could give.  Until next time.

Here Fishy Fishy: Developing Merfolk in the New Extended

Hello everyone, and let me start by apologizing for my lack of articles over the past few months. I’ve been grinding through both International Baccalaureate (IB) exams and my high school diploma exams, leaving precious little time to devote to Magic. However, I’m officially done high school and intend to play a ton of Magic over the summer, which hopefully means more articles here.

In case you haven’t heard, Wizards has implemented some radical changes to extended, giving us only 4 years worth of cards to work with instead of 7. I’m a huge fan of this change, although Extended was one of my favourite formats for the last few years. This change makes Extended a much more accessible format, as well as giving us a whole new format to dissect and discover.

For those who don’t know, my Extended season this year culminated with a 5-2 record at a PTQ with Merfolk. This deck has a special place near my heart and I’ve played it in standard, extended, and legacy over the last few years. It’s my pleasure today to outline an adaptation of Merfolk for the new extended, which uses cards from Time Spiral, Lorwyn, Alara, and Zendikar blocks, with Core Sets from 10th Edition to Magic 2011 inclusive.

To use as some sort of base, let’s take a look back at my Merfolk list from the last extended PTQ.

Here Fishy Fishy

The first thing we must decide is what colours we want to play. Without the aid of the Ravnica shocklands such as Hallowed Fountain, we can’t easily play white for Sejiri Merfolk. However, due to the nonexistance of Dark Depths in this format, the need for 4 maindeck Path to Exile is mitigated. Therefore I think we can make a first draft using only blue spells.

The only other loss from the above list is the always-awesome equipment Umezawas Jitte. This card was part of what made merfolk so great was that you would be able to have the edge on your opponents both in terms of creature power but as well as having a stream of removal for their chump-blockers.

So let’s go through the shell of the deck we want to use:

A part of every merfolk deck is its lords: creatures that give a global pump to all your other merfolk. There are 4 merfolk lords we can consider for this deck: Lord of Atlantis, Merrow Reejerey, Merfolk Sovereign and Coralhelm Commander. Lord of Atlantis is good because it’s cheap, and Merrow Reejerey is good because of the degenerate tapping/untapping shenanigans you can pull off with it. There’s an amazing synergy between the Sovereign and Wake Thrasher, but sovereign can be less than stellar if you have them in multiples. I tend to dislike the commander because each mana you spend on leveling him up is another mana you could leave up for a counterspell or some other merfolk that will have a more immediate effect of the game state. The 10 lord configuration has always worked well for me, so I think it’s fine for this deck as well.

Countermagic is essential in maintaining the aggro-control mixture that is the merfolk deck, and having a good suite of counterspells is critical to ensure that your army of fish can take out the enemy. This last week saw the spoiling of Mana Leak for Magic 2011. Prior to that, I was distraught as to what might take it’s place, contemplating Negate or Spell Pierce. However, with one of the most solid counters in recent memory in the new Core Set, playing a playset should be no question.

Of course, no mono-blue deck would be complete without the addition of Cryptic Command-The counterspell that does it all. I tend to play this card very aggressively, using the tapping ability to get in for some serious amounts of damage. However, the ideal play can be to counter an opponent’s spell and tap their guys on their turn, so always be questioning how you can most effectively play the command, not just considering your opponents turn, but how you’ll follow up on your net turn.

To give our deck a solid one-drop, we can add Cursecatcher. How many get played is very much a metagame-dependent decision, and with no tournament results for this new format, the number of instants and sorceries which get played cannot be determined. Even if more aggressive decks become the norm, I would not have a problem with playing some number in the mainboard because they’ll gain the bonuses from lords. We’ll try playing 4, but this is one of the most variable slots.

Support Merfolk
I don’t have words to describe cards like Silvergill Adept and Wake Thrasher except for “Awesome”. Drawing cards and making huge guys is always good, and they’re the grease that makes the giant merfolk machine run smoothly.

Support Spells
What’s a good blue deck these days without the aid of planeswalker Jace, the Mind Sculptor? Not only will Jace be able to bounce opposing blockers, but he will be able to net us more merfolk to keep up the pressure. He’s an awesome card that finds a welcome home in this deck.

These last slots had me scouring gatherer for all the blue cards that will be legal in the new extended. Hot off it’s success in standard, Spreading Seas not only has the potential to slow an opponent’s mana base, but it will help our islandwalking merfolk get in unhindered. Again, these slots are very much a meta call depending on the colours and mana bases of the most popular decks. If decks like 5 colour control and Reveillark proliferate, this choice will be much better than if faeries and other decks just play islands anyway. As well, the addition of Spreading Seas gives us another 2-drop which draws us a card, giving us a high pro

The land base for this deck is pretty simple. Mutavault is a great attacker who only gets better as we play lords. A plethora of fetchlands will allow us to not only thin the deck (which is usually insignificant) but also shuffle away our dregs from Jace’s Brainstorm ability. Because we have 8 spells which gost 4 mana, I think that adding an extra land from the original list is warranted.

Without further ado, let me present the final list:

Here Fishy Fishy

I hope to test this deck out sometime soon, and will probably purchase it on Magic Online so I can put up some videos. As always, feel free to sound off in the comments, or contact me at zak -AT-, or contact me via twitter at



PTQ Report – Charlestown, MA 6/5/10 – Top 8 w/ UW Control

After I finished 2nd at the 5k at the beginning of May, I must’ve thought I was “the man” to break a promise I made to myself that this standard season I would figure out one deck I wanted to play and stick with it. I ran UW Control at the PTQ the next day and went something like 2-3 drop, losing to a bunch of Jund decks after mostly steamrolling Jund the day before. Annoyed, and wanting to jump on the bandwagon of the Big Deck of the Week, I ran Mythic Conscription the next weekend and gave up abotu 130 points on my total rating just in time for me to lose some byes for Grand Prix DC.

At said Grand Prix, I got back to what I wanted to be doing and sleeved up UW and my list was only a few cards off of the winning list. I started out 2-0 and lost my next three, bowing me out of competition. Remembering the aforementioned promise that I made to myself at the end of Extended Season, I stuck to my guns, changed my sideboard a bit and tossed Sphinx of Jwar Isle back in the Main Deck, gearing up to take on all sorts of creature decks (presumably Jund). What transpired was me starting 5-0, losing to the sole control deck I would play all day, beating another creature deck in Round 7 and drawing into the top 8 as the #3 seed. Not Bad.

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to gear my deck towards creatures. Naya, Jund, Mythic and to some degree Next Level Bant were all predominantly creature decks even if NLB had a distinct control aspect to it with hard-to-kill Planeswalkers. Still, I wanted to be ready for creatures, so I wanted at least three Path to Exile and at least three Day of Judgment as the foundation of creature kill. I am in the camp of loving Baneslayer Angel. I know that she is a lightning rod for removal and that people will hold removal in order to kill her, but I’m no pro. Sometimes I need my cards to do some of the work for me and this bitch is a workhorse. She is like Kerri Walsh to Linvala’s Misty May.

Anyway, Let me just show you this list. It’s not super different than what I or anyone else has been running, but if you’re going to browse this TR you might as well have the frame of reference.

Here’s the sideboard I ran:

I stuck the into the roil in there because I love it against control decks, it can be such a blowout. Whether it bouncing a baneslayer blocker, or bouncing your own Oblivion Ring with the trigger on the stack, or bouncing your own Oblivion Ring to legend rule their planeswalker, to bouncing a conscripted creature, I like what the card does. I ran it in the MD in Washington DC because I wanted it as the fourth path/fourth Oblivion ring combo card. Here I kept it in the board but I might just cut it alltogether next time out.

I put in 4 Celestial Purge because Firewalkers just don’t do enough against Jund right now, and while sometimes when playing Jund and facing them down they can be very annoying, but when Sarkhan the Mad flies over them all, it can be pretty useless. 4 Celestial Purge was aweseome for me in 4 rounds against Jund and 1 round against Mono Red. I think it was the smartest call I made all weekend and one of the reasons I top 8′d this PTQ.

Round 1 vs. Joe Canadas playing JUND

I figured this kid had a really loose keep in game 1 because he wasn’t really playing anything the first few turns. I slapped down an Elspeth on turn 4 and then started activating my Collonade and swinging for 7 on Turn 6. A few turns of that ended the game pretty quick.

I was pretty sure this kid was new, but when he announced “sideboarding eight!” in between our match while I was shuffling it was clearly confirmed. I told him not to announce that anymore and then kind of took it too easy on him. I cast Path to Exile on one of his creatures and he passed the turn and I reminded him he can search for a land, allowing him to get a second red mana on the board and almost letting him back into a game I had heavily under control. I still ended up winning but I learned an important lesson in playing down to the level of my competition and it was a mistake to not just give him the tip at the end of the game. Giving beginner players a way to beat you is not the way to grind into the pro tour.

Round 2 vs. Joe Pease – RG Land Destruction

This guy just completely blew me out in game 1 by hitting bloodbraid elf on this turn 4 and 5 and hitting resounding wave every time, bouncing my land and keeping me out of the game. I never got to cast a decent spell though on the final turn if I ripped a land I could’ve cast Day of Judgment and possibly gotten back into the game.

I saw him cascade past several Rolling Terrain so I boarded in my negates and my cancel.

Game 2 on the play he really couldn’t do much. He might’ve gotten some lands killed or spreading seased but I was able to stick Elspeth and Baneslayer and he didn’t have much for that.

Game 3 was the crazy one. He kept me off double white forever and my hand was 3 Baneslayer Angel and 2 Day of Judgment. Finally I was able to start dropping baneslayers and he mind controlled the first, and then the second one. I ripped oblivion ring to take one of them back rather than killing everything with Day of Judgment because time was about to be called. I used elspeth to start bashing in with a 7/7 baneslayer and he let the damage go through. I then pathed his (my) baneslayer and swung in for 12 with baneslayer and colonnade + elspeth ftw on turn 2 of extra time.

Round 3 vs. Luke Bardsley playing JUND

It was Jund with Vengevine and Cunning Sparkmage in the maindeck. I started with 2 wall of omens and he dropped a sparkmage. I went to oblivion ring it and he suicided his sparkmage in response making me lose one of my walls, which sucked. He wasn’t doing much when he’s leading with sparkmages though. He ended up cascading into Putrid Leech in consecutive turns with runner-runner Bloodbraid Elf which I Held off with ELspeth and then cast Day of Judgment to blow him out and get there with a baneslayer angel.

Game 2 he mulled to 4 and cast a turn 4 sarkhan the mad with his lotus cobra that I had no kill spell for. He stabilized quite a bit, mainly because I allowed him to keep his second red source on the table far too long when I had tectonic edge up. This allowed him to cast at least 2 extra spells he wouldn’t have been able to cast. He got me down to 6 but elspeth protecting me enough to cast a mind spring for 5 made it impossible for him to finish me off.

Round 4 vs. Devon O’Donnell playing Mono Red.

I’m buddy’s with Devon through my little bro and I knew he was running mono red, which I was happy about given my sideboard. He started game 1 with double goblin guide which I ripped 5 lands off of, so I could to discard a bunch of stuff I know wouldn’t matter. I had double spreading seas to keep him off early ball lightning and bought myself some time to drop a baneslayer. This is where I think I made a mistake. He had two Kiln Fiend out but clearly had no spells b/c he had been attacking in for 1 each with them. I had a baneslayer out with another in hand. I was at decently low life and while he was at 6 mana, two spreading seas meant he could not go double ball lightning or ball lightning + Hells Thunder. I decided to attack with my Baneslayer angel and drop the second. He dropped smoldering spires, Ball LIghtning and tried to play a Hell’s thunder until I reminded him that he didn’t have the correct mana to, and extended the hand. but I should’ve held up the baneslayer b/c I knew smoldering spires could be coming down and ruining my day.

Im game 2 Devon mulled to 5 and my opener was Wall of omens, celestial purge x2 and 4 land. I let him back into the game somehow by tapping out on turn 3 and he dropped a turn 3 hell’s thunder and again I was tapped out when he ripped the land to bring hells Thunder back. As a result he bolted and then burst lightning w/ kicker’d me and got me to 5, meaning he had an out with unstable footing, but alas it was not to be and he was dead to my double baneslayer beyond that. But still, I should’ve just played slow and allowed myself to pick off his threats with my purges and not ended the game with one still in my hand.

Round 5 vs. Justin Desai playing Lotus Cobra Jund

So Justin Desai is one of my closest friends and we’ve been CCG Partners for almost a full decade now. We’re considered one of the best Decipher SWCCG tandems of all time and are two time world champions in that game. We’ve only faced each other in sanctioned magic games a few times and never in a ptq.

Justin and I both stall out on lands early and are just playing draw go. Eventually he hits a couple of Leeches and Bloodbraid elfs and I get a really huge swing off of a Day of Judgment with Elspeth out. After that Elspeth and Colonnade go the rest of the way.

Game 2 I keep a hand with some spreading seas and 2x Celestial Purge. He plays lotus cobra on turn 2 and ramps into a turn 3 bloodbraid where he hits another cobra. I’m tapped out on account of the spreading seas so I can’t purge his bloodbraid, so I take 5. His next turn he drops a Terramorphic Expanse and casts a Sarkhan the Mad but doesn’t activate it, opting to swing for 7 into my empty board. I respond by Purging his Sarkhan, effectively timewalking him. After that I stabilize with Elspeth and Baneslayer angel and he can’t get much going after the mistake.

Round 6 vs. Bryan Lynch playing UWR Planeswalkers

At this point there were like 4 or 5 X-0′s so I was hoping to avoid Lynch who was pretty much the only UWR at the top of the standings. Of course I have awful luck and did not avoid him. Knowing my deck was more geared for creature decks, I didn’t have a lot of high hopes.

Nor should I have as this match was a massacre. Game 1 he kept me off double white mana all game with Spreading Seas and Ajani Vengeant. Game 2 I boarded out my wall of omens, kept a 2 lander with some spreading seas and some early plays. Lynch comes down with calcite snapper and four turns later I’m dead without having drawn another land.

Round 7 vs. Kyle Machado Playing R/G Weekend Warriors

I again kept a 2 lander against Kyle, never drew a third and got beatdown pretty hard by what seemed to be just a straight RG beatdown deck. I decided to board in 3 of my celestial purge but not all four because of Vengevine and other green based cards I figured I would see. Game 2 was a battle as he hit Goblin ruinblaster after goblin ruinblaster. Luckily I was on the play and slapped an elspeth down first so I was making tokens like it was going out of style. I also had a few wall of omens down. Eventually I drew out of my mana lock, got some baneslayers down and climbed out of range.

Boarding for game 3 I realized that as long as I stuck a baneslayer he really had no answer for it, save Threaten. I kept a pretty slow hand but one with day of judgment and baneslayer angel and 3 basic lands. My first couple of draws were also basic lands so I was able to lay basics on the first 5 turns and stay away from an onslaught of ruinblasters. Luckily for me he stalled on mana for a couple turns and wasn’t able to do much damage while I got to baneslayer mana. This is big time becasue he played the new threaten that makes the guy he steals power +2 and was able to swing be down to 4 life before I was able to get my baneslayer back, swing in and drop another one, keeping myself out of range, but had he not stumbled I would not have been sitting in third and able to draw into the top 8.

Round 8 vs. James P Syed playing Naya

We intentionally drew. I was in third, justin in fourth, so me and justin both make our first IRL PTQ top 8s.

TOP 8 Quarterfinal with Cameron Preston playing Jund.

To make a long story short, I got blightninged 7 times in 2 games and lost 0-2. It was pretty lame considering I had been 6-0 against Jund on the day going into this game. There was a chance I could’ve pulled game 1 out when I had some baneslayers on the way, but I did some math wrong and went to 3 when I thought I’d be at 4 and he had his blightning #3 of the game for me.

In game 2 it was just a total beatdown as he blightninged me all 4 times and never got to play anything that could’ve gotten me back into the game.

So all in all a pretty big bummer. Especially now since this next level bant deck is doing so well that UW control might not be an option anymore. I have another PTQ this weekend in Rhode Island but I’m unsure what I’m going to run.

Justin has been doing really well with Lotus Cobra Jund online and obviously had some success at the PTQ above. He used a similar if not the same list in the online ptq sunday and started 5-1 before losing his next two. I would say you could look for his decklist at the following link, but for some reason his decklist is ommitted, which sucks b/c it’s his first top 8. But you can check out the rest of the top 8 decklists here:

Until next time,

Mike Gemme
bobbysapphire on MTGO

Sleeving Up U/W for Grand Prix D.C.

After my top 2 finish at the Boston 5k a few weeks ago, I was looking good going into the GP with at least one bye and if I played well in any of the PTQs on the following two weekends I could be looking at 2 byes. That didn’t happen.

The day after the 5k I was pretty beat, sleeved up mostly the same 75 from the day before and went 2-2 drop at a PTQ. The following weekend was another PTQ in connecticut and I decided to switch to mythic. Mythic was a bit more complicated than I estimated and while it was capable of those blowout, turn 3 Eldrazi Conscription wins- playing a deck that just turns sideways was not what I was used to in standard and I coughed up a couple wins by simply not attacking in with my lotus cobra, forgoing one exalted trigger and losing with my opponent at 1.

Those kind of things drive me crazy and I am in no mood to play the Conscription deck again after going 0-2 in a PTQ and 2-2 drop in a WPN qualifier (losing to grixis 3 times, which is just a brutal matchup post board when you have to face down 4 lightning bolt, 4 terminate and the rest of the b/r goods and jace, the mind sculptor).

To be quite honest I’m a little torn what to do right now. Jund is certainly back on the rise and a couple of my teammates here in Mass really like it (and I’ve always considered them blue mages). It’s certainly very good as the results don’t lie, and going into the 5k weekend earlier in the month, Jund kind of punched me in the teeth a little, as I thought it was a very favorable matchup for UW Tapout; but really, nothing is favorable enough vs. cascade.

For the first time maybe ever, we’re bringing all 7 members of our squad to the same tournament, so decks are pretty sparse. We can put together two Junds or a Jund and a Naya, but I likely won’t be sleeving up anything green. There is plenty of time to play Jund for me at the online PTQs next month.

So unless I want to sleeve up some devastating summons, and I don’t think I do without having a card to kill baneslayer; I don’t really want to rely on mark of mutiny and a swing FTW to beat any deck with baneslayer angel in it, I’m going to be playing UW TAPOUT.

I’ve made some tweaks, and made some pretty brutal decisions (and I still have a couple more to make I fear), but I’ll talk about the deck a bit and what changes I’ve made and why.

I really liked UW control the weekend that I played it. I always felt like there was something I could do, or that I could draw (plus ways to draw it) that would bail me out of whatever situation I found myself in. I don’t feel like that has really changed. I like cantripping on turn 2 as much as I can. I love oblivion ring and mind spring, and while people can tell me all day that Baneslayer Angel sucks, she doesn’t and she’s a baller, and I love her.

I think that UW is fine vs. most matchups, I don’t think Dauntless Escort is very hard to play around in mythic with the right answers. I think UW can still beat Jund just fine if you gear it to the aggro matchup (and I don’t think wrath effects are nearly as bad as many people think they are vs. the deck). Furthermore, creature decks are all the rage right now with jund, naya and conscription running rampant at regionals and on MTGO.

The biggest issue I’ve stuggled with is how to deal with the creatures. I know a lot of people say to just run Sphinx of Jwar Isle and not baneslayer b/c it just gives opponent’s dead cards, but most jund players are already cutting terminates and just running maelstrom pulse x4. I think that a deck that maindecks a bunch of terminates is rough, don’t get me wrong; but the meta seems to be going the other way. People are now expecting UW tapout to not run baneslayers and the UWR Planeswalker deck doesn’t (Even though they should run them out of the board), and this could be the weekend to re-capitalize on running a full squad of Baneslayers.

So I’ve decided to neglect Sphinx of Jwar Isle despite how “good” (read: unkillable) it is against Jund. If you don’t hit several sphinx of Jwar Isle it’s really hard to actaully beat in against Jund with your 5/5. Which is why I like Baneslayer, even if they have a couple answers to it, you can turn it sideways and not fear that you’re going to die on the swing back.

I’ve upped the Planeswalker count to be a little strong against the aggro decks and put them on difficult decisions. Gideon works best with baneslayer on the table to kill one of their attackers. Elspeth is just a difficult planeswalker to kill. This also presents far more Pulse targets, making my baneslayers a bit better.

I cut an oblivion ring, conceding that creature decks are far more popular than the control decks right now, and a lot better. Instead of just upping a Path to exile however, I decided to toss in an Into the Roil. I like into the roil for a number of reasons. It’s as good as removal vs. Mythic and it’s just a lot better than path against the control matchups. Being able to bounce my own obring to legend rule a planeswalker and reload my removal seems really strong. It’s one more maindecked blue answer to a polymorphed Iona naming white and in plenty of situations itll draw me a card.

I’ve cut a mind spring, because games where I draw 2 in my opening hand were driving me a little nuts and while I know it’s practically a win condition, the cantripping in the rest of the deck will hopefully get me there.

I really loved the 2 negates maindeck when I played it and I don’t want to cut them, they’re only really bad against Conscription and Naya, but they’re great in the mirror and against jund, so I like them in the front 60.

I’ve decided to cut a Day of judgment to add in a martial coup which is a little worse against jund and mythic and to be honest, the one maindeck change I’m likely to make is to go back to three DOJ, one martial coup, I just don’t like making myself worse in the control mirrors, especially since right now I haven’t been able to fit one of the Eldrazi gods into my sideboard.

Speaking of Sideboard:

The only matchup I really don’t like is the Vengevine Naya matchup. I’m not really sure what I want to be doing vs. that post board but I’m going to get some testing in tonight and friday before the GP.

This is geared pretty heavily towards the control matchups, in which I like more negates, another into the roil, the sanctifiers and the Luminarchs. A few weeks ago I thought luminarchs were trash but looking at lists, people are cutting an oblivion ring or two from their 75 and enchantment destruction is almost non-existant. Some people are adopting into the roil, which could be an issue, but with 4 negates I should be able to back it up. I like keeping the sanctifiers for the mirror to deal with luminarchs and obrings still. I think that the firewalkers and the purges will be enough for the jund matchup, combined with leaving DOJ in and bringing in the Mind Control.

Maybe some more testing this weekend will tell me I’m wrong, but I’m hoping the white planeswalkers and arsenal of celestial purge in the board will help swing the Jund matchup a little bit, it’s possible that it’s not enough.

I’m pretty excited about the GP, GP Trials and even a fallback ptq on sunday, and I’m happy to be sleeving up this deck on the real battlefield. I’ll likely switch to Jund talk next week as ONline PTQs start back up and I’ve already traded for my Sarkhan the Mads and Consuming Vapors.

Til next time,

Mike Gemme
Bobbysapphire on MTGO

Taking 2nd Place at the Boston $5K

Last week I discussed my preparation for the big 5k / PTQ weekend in Boston, MA. All week I was pretty certain that I would be sleeving up UW tapout for Saturday but was contemplating some Mythic for Sunday. I also talked about my helping friend and former pro tour-er Blaine Hatab get Kiln Fiend into a winning deck. Well, Blaine and my testing (or lack thereof) worked out as he finished 9th and I came in second losing in the finals to JUND when I couldn’t rip one of 14 outs to take home my first Magic Trophy.

First I’ll start with the list I brought to the tournament Saturday and some discussion of it.

you can see me discuss the list here.

My big insistance in the deck was to run 4 Oblivion rings. I really like the Obring vs. just about every deck out there right now. Even against mono red or R/x, being able to oblivion ring a Kiln fiend is invaluable. I wouldn’t leave all four in postboard vs. red decks, and I’d only cut them all if I didn’t see kiln fiend in games 1 and 2. But Planeswalkers are everywhere right now, and so aren’t baneslayers; Obring is just a good catch all, I even Obring’d a 1/1 Goblin Token vs. polymorph once last weekend.

I also liked 2 path and considered 3 just because of how good mythic is, and how an unchecked baneslayer angel can simply rule the mirror.

Probably the strangest thing about my list is the inclusion of 4 total fetchlands, 2 white and 2 blue. This is for a number of reasons. 1 they make both Jace and Sphinx of Jwar Isle better. Sometimes the sphinx just isnt enough late game and that’s when you have most of your card advantage. Numerous times on the weekend I would end up with a sphinx and some fetches and they would give me the chance to see more cards. Same goes with Jace, I once Jace: brainstormed 3 times in a row and got all lands each time, luckily the third time yielded a fetch so I could mix things up and ended up taking the game down despite not havnig a single threat for a few turns.

My Board was as follows:

Nothing really crazy in here except the 2 Jace Beleren. Those are in there for the control match to vindicate their jace and net me some cards when I can slap em down and get it done. I also ended up bringing them in vs. UR polymorph b/c in game 1 my opponent seemed really reliant on Jace to find his stuff.

This tournament really started off on the wrong foot for me. Out of 228 players I got paired up aganist my best friend Steve Baroni in round 1 and he was playing Open the Vaults / Time Sieve, the one deck that UW has almost no chance of beating.

Steve started with a mull to 4 or 5 and dropped game 1, then proceeded to take game 2 easily. As we began to shuffle up for game 3 Steve wanted to reboard some cards and when he reached for his deckbox it was gone. Someone had taken his box with his postboarded deck and he was missing some important hard to find commons and unless he replaced them would’ve had to scoop from the tournament. As we played game 3 Blaine tried to track some cards down, after coming up with nothing Steve decided to scoop to me and drop from the tournament to do some free drafting.

Then I proceded to drop my second game to the UW mirror after I couldn’t handle my opponent’s baneslayer angels in either of the second or third game.

I was not feeling great at this point, clearly I should’ve been 0-2 drop but with one win I *simply* had to win out…

I ended up beating, in no particular order, UW Tapout x2, Mythic, Jund, Naya SHallies, and White weenie to finish up 7-1 and able to draw with eventual champ Josh Herr into the top 8.

I was pretty nervous for the top 8 simply because I had played so horribly in the 8th round. I faced a good local player I knew and had beaten the last two times we faced (Dustin Taylor – 1859). I played really poorly against Dustin who was in it to win it. He gave me a real run for my money in game 1 after he mulled to 3 and I had a fairly slow start. In game 2 he rolled me on the play and in game 3 I ripped running baneslayer angels to give him no hope of top eighting. Most of my good fortune on Satudray was due to my supreme rips and not having to mull once.

In the top 8 meeting we were discussing splits and Gerard Fabiano was undecided on a split himself. I proposed we each take 500 and put the final 200 in the pot and play a winner-take-all top 8 event. Everyone eventually agreed to this and we were off.

Quarter Finals vs. Jund

I was pretty confident about Jund going into this event and was glad to see it in the first round of the top 8. Now that I had $500 in my pocket the pressure was off and I was able to just do work. If you watch my opponent’s interview he said he felt like he got outjunded this match and mabye that’s true because there weren’t any difficult decisions to be made during these games. It was all about surviving blightnings and casting as many spreading seas as I could to get to my Baneslayer Angels and Sphinx of Jwar Isle.

Semifinals vs. UW Tapout.

This is the only match other than mythic that I 2-0′d all day. In game 1 I stuck a Baneslayer Angel on 5 and then he played one on his turn 5. I laid down a jace the mind sculptor and bounced his angel then swang. At this point the lock was on as he could either try and take out my jace or keep dropping his Baneslayer. He dropped the baneslayer again and I didn’t have to play another card the rest of the match because of Negate in my hand and no reason to tap.

In game 2 it was more of the same, I answered his baneslayers but he couldn’t answer my 5/5 fliers. On the game winning turn I had a Sphinx and a Slayer vs. his Slayer. With plenty of Mana I cast mind spring for 4 leaving 3 mana open in hopes of ripping a path or an oblivion ring, the fourth card I drew was an Obring and that was that.

Finals vs. Jund

He takes down game 1 after casting Blightning once from his hand and another off of a cascade. In game 2 I have 7 mana on the turn after he drops Malakir Bloodwitch to a pretty full board facing down my baneslayer angel. I drop a Wall of Omens drawing Mind Control taking his bloodwitch and he scoops us into game 3.

Game 3 was a little nuts as he has the triple Putrid Leech Start after my Spreading Seas suck on the draw. Between all his Putride Leech activations and a swing from my Baneslayer Angel we’re both sitting under 10 life. I have a Colonnade on the board but my only other lands are plains and tectonic edges. I can draw any one of 3 islands, 2 blue fetches, 4 Glacial Fortresses or 3 Wrath of Gods to even this game up. I draw a blank and he’s able to burn me with Siege Gang Comander and have more than enough to swing in for the win and the trophy (though he and I split the final $200).

All in all I was pretty happy with UW tapout. I sleeved it up again on Sunday but it did not perform as well, I had to mulligan a lot and my draws weren’t very optimal and I was out by the sixth round. If I had to sleeve it up again I would definitely include a Gideon Jura in my Maindeck and likely a second martial coup. Martial Coup is really important in the mirror and my opponents having multiples took me down plenty of times over the two day weekend. I think I would cut down to 2 mind spring and try to throw in a Divination. Some potential cuts are 1x Baneslayer Angel, 1x Day of Judgment or an Oblivion Ring. I really like the maindeck negates so I wouldn’t personally cut those but I can see why people would not want them in the big 60.

This weekend I’ve got another PTQ in Hartford Connectictu, I’ll be wearing my bright orange Power9pro tshirt but I’ll likely be sleeving up Mythic Bant. I haven’t decided about which version I’m going to run, I’m leaning towards the Eldrazi Conscription version but with at least 1 Rafiq of the Many to give it more of a threat level if I can’t find my Sovereigns of Lost ALara during a game.

Thanks for reading

Mike Gemme
bobbysapphire on MTGO.