Tag Archives: deck building

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. 

Creatures

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

Pump/Evasion

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

Lands

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.

ThrunIwantyou

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:

Artifacts

Colored

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.

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.

Removal:

Tutors:

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.

Scars of Mirrodin – Impact on Standard (Type 2)

Scars of Mirrodin.  Looming large over the horizon, Wizards’ newest expansion is set to hit the stores on October 1st.  With the release of Scars of Mirrodin new strategies will emerge and once powerful decks will disappear to the realm of Extended.  With all of the available spoilers it is time to speculate on what changes will occur to the Standard (type 2) meta-game.  This shift will be important with the 2010′s State and Provincial Championships on October 9th.  We will see if we can figure out which cards will make the biggest impact in the post Shards of Alara/M10 tournament world.  It is a time of new beginnings and a time to revisit places in our past.  Thinking about our past, I would like to take one moment to say goodbye to all of our Shards of Alara friends:

So long, Jund!

Time to hang up our Putrid Leechs and Sprouting Thrinaxs.  No deck was more dominant in the Shards meta-game than this B/G/R build.  High powered threats and spectacular removal made Jund the most feared and prepared against deck since the Faeries of Lorwyn.  The biggest loss?

Bloodbraid Elf

Forget Maelstrom Pulse and Broodmate Dragon, this Elf provided amazing card advantage to steal games all by herself. Without Bloodbraid, Jund would not have been remotely viable. This Elf Berserker found a home in every deck that could support her colors. Easily the best uncommon in the set. Now for a few more farewells:

It’s been fun, but now we need to move on. See you in Extended!

Out of the dozens of cards that have been spoiled already, I have picked up on a few that seem like they will make an impact on the Standard Meta currently dominated by U/W Control, FauNaya, Valakut-Ramp and Mythic Conscription.

U/W Control
Come rotation on October first U/W Control will loose a few pieces, most notably Elspeth Knight-Errant. It will be interesting to see if Elspeth Tirel will be able to replace her old incarnation. The new Planeswalker costs one more and cannot generate counters and token together. I think that the five mana casting cost will not prevent the switch initially but might come to really matter since the meta game is so fast right now. On the flip side, Elspeth’s new ultimate is very powerful. The next option in Planeswalkers is the powerful Venser the Sojourner. Also comining at a casting cost of five, the U/W walker has some interesting abilities. Being able to exile your Baneslayer Angel and following that up with Day of Judgment is a strong play in control. The other loss is the token generating Martial Coup. This loss should not impact the archetype to significantly since most build will only include it as a one-of. Path to Exile is another big loss to U/W, the role will need to be filled by the more situational Condemn.

FauNaya
This archetype is on the way out in my opinion. Scars of Mirrodin does not offer anything to this deck that is on par with Knight of the Reliquary or Noble Hierarch. The deck also looses Oblivion Ring, Qasali Pridemage, Realm Razer and the superstar Bloodbraid Elf. I am sure that the Vengevine/ Fauna Shaman engine will still be around but I think the deck will look vastly different.

Valakut-Ramp (Titan-Ramp)
The plan is simple; ramp into Primeval Titan and use him to set up a kill with Valakut the Molten Pinnacle. This is the big dog in the yard, Valakut-Ramp only looses Rampant Growth in the rotation. However, nothing in the new Standard will fits the curve of this card. Cultivate might work. I like Strata Scythe as an alternate win condition if you need to play around Spreading Seas. I also think that Genesis Wave fits nicely in the deck. Valakut-Ramp will be the archetype to beat early in the season until new strategies are discovered.

Mythic Conscription (Eldrazi Conscription, Mythic)
The biggest loss for this deck is Sovereigns of Lost Alara. The Exalted Spirit let you search up your Eldrazi Conscription in order to put the game away. Without the ability to tutor for the key enchantment, Mythic should no longer be a threat in Standard.

What’s Next?
Scars of Mirrodin offers us a vast selection of powerful spells that are sure to have an immediate impact on the new Standard. Take a look at some of the things you should be hoping to pick up at your Pre-release event this weekend:

Scars of Mirrodin will offer us plenty of new options and old favorites will soon go by the wayside. I am really looking forward to playing Phylactery Lich with Darksteel Axe. I recommend going to a Pre-release this weekend since there will not be much time to prepare for States coming up in October. The 2010′s State and Provincial Championships will be the first big events to play with the new Standard. Study your spoilers and see what you can do to deal with U/W control and Valakut-Ramp. Goodbye Bloodbraid Elf, and thanks for all the fish.

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.

Rise of the Eldrazi Set Review and Analysis: Red

Power 9 Pro is excited to bring you another set review for Magic the Gathering’s expansion set Rise of the Eldrazi. With Pre-release and Release tournaments coming up over the next two weeks and a full spoiler available, the Power 9 Pro Team is putting in a collaborative effort to review and analyze the entire set. We’ll be looking at the cards from the vantage point of limited, affects on standard, extended or legacy-formats and whether Rise will have any new must-haves for Elder Dragon Highlander. This post is for the red portion of Rise of the Eldrazi.

James
I don’t find this guy particularly interesting for any format.
Joe
This guy is behind the curve in terms of power / toughness compared to his cost, but the mini flametongue kavu effect will often steal an opposing creature post-combat, etc. In limited, these kinds of slower guys often have a place, but I’d be trying to fill my deck with more exciting guys first and use this as a filler after the first string is chosen.
Rob
Kills an x/1 in limited but even there, it costs a lot for little reward.


James
This is pretty attractive looking. Plop down one of your big Eldrazi with Annhilate (they all do I think) and your turn 3 blocker gives it haste. Sweet!
Joe
This is an interesting wall, presenting you with the choice of leaving a blocker, or hasting a guy. There are obviously a fair number of creatures in this format to whom extending Haste is an incredible benefit.
Rob
If you are running Red Eldrazi somehow, this guy can buy you time to hit your mana, and then fling your fresh freaks from the Blind Eternities at game winning speed. Of course, just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be.
Mike
This guy is slightly wallish in a limited game, and could make combat interesting but I think this is the kind of guy to get double-tabled since 1 power isn’t what you want out of a red deck generally.


James
This is a great card for limited. Forces the pre-combat casting but the extra damage is probably worth it since it’s likely whatever you’re attacking with is now a 4/x. Pretty tough to deal with and at a much more reasonable casting cost than the Eldrazi. Essentially a role-player.
Joe
While the creature itself is fairly piddly for a 4-drop, in some cases, you can boost some evasive attacker, so sometimes this will make the cut.
Rob
What a quirky ability on a Common. Might find his way into Block Goblin decks and be a powerhouse.
Mike
This guy I like, he can really break up a stalled board.


James
Wow, this is crappy.
Joe
At first this struck me as a terrible prodigal sorcerer variant, but I think in the slower kinds of games I’m anticipating in this format, this guy will be strong. Even though it costs a whopping 11RRRR to fully level this guy, I suspect you’ll get there in some games, and then you’ve got lightning bolt on a stick, which is very strong indeed. The nice thing about these levelers is you can prompt removal, or get an opponent to over-commit without committing much to the board yourself. So paired with sweepers, these are quite strong.
Rob
I’ll stick with Cunning Sparkmage in general, thanks.
Mike
This guy is not better than Cunning Sparkmage or even Prodigal Pyromancer which are both in standard right now.


James
This is hilarious. I imagine people will try to use this in constructed. Getting 3 mana for 2 is alright but assuming no Day of Judgetment, you’ll get that big fattie out pretty fast. I’m just not convinced that the Eldrazi are really that doable in the current meta. For limited, you’d need a lot of spawn creators to make this viable…Hmm, I guess this is a “watch” card. Fiddle with and see if you can make something of it.
Joe
This looks like a key card for the ramp-to-eldrazi decks, as it’s common and produces 3 spawn for the low cost of 2 mana.
Rob
Spawn are going to be clogging up tables everywhere. I’m surprised we didn’t get even more Spawn enablers really, as seeing this requires a Spawn to start off. We could of had a cool land that Tapped for 2 colorless and put a Spawn into play under your opponents control, or something of the like. I don’t see this ever being played on turn two, but can ramp neatly later on.
Mike
An interesting ramp concept. It’s pretty weird that all the colors have these spawn cards, but Spawn: 3 is truly intruiging.


James
This card is going to win people games at the draft tables. The casting cost is so doable, it’s affect is explosive and it’s a 5/5 flier to boot. Hot sauce.
Joe
A strong enough creature on its own as a 4/4 flying for 6, the [car d]threaten[/card] effect really pushes this rare into bomb country, especially if you have any kind of sacrifice outlet on board to nuke their creature before you have to give it back.
Rob
More casual rares for Bazaar Trader decks. If he had Haste himself he’d be completely insane. But without Haste or some sort of blinking tricks, why bother?
Mike
Another in a long line of expensive, flying limited bombs for red. I would love to steal a baneslayer angel with this guy in constructed though.


James
Hmmm, I guess this would be more than broken if they had haste. I’m thinking it can’t be more than border-line.
Joe
Risky business here. This seems like more of a constructed card to me. Lands are fairly important, and to make the tokens worthwhile, you’d want to sacrifice most of your own lands. But if you float 3W, then cast this followed by, say, armageddon, that should work out okay.
This is all about Haste. If you can power this down around counters and give the tokens Haste, you should win the game.
Rob
This is all about Haste. If you can power this down around counters and give the tokens Haste, you should win the game.
Mike
This card is kind of good. I think it’s much better in limited, which makes its rarity annoying, but it’s a really fun looking card.


James
Whoa. This is narly. Constructed worthy? Maybe…pretty costly…
Joe
One-sided mass removal? This is a nasty bomb.
Rob
I love the flavor, but I’d rather use Day of Judgment, Pyroclasm, Consume the Meek, or any other number of just plan better sweepers.
Mike
So pricey but it’s got a badass text. If you can figure out how to use it in a real deck, there’s nothing better than mass-creature kill that only hits your opponent’s guys, but good luck doing so.


James
I really like this card. It’s so awesome for limited. It’s one reason I think Birthing the Brood will be pretty sweet. This is at common too.
Joe
Another common that will be central to many Eldrazi ramp stratagems.
Rob
3/3 guy maker makes guys, guys then make bigger spells. What’s not to like? Well, it’s no Siege-gang, but chumps and mana. Might not make it to Constructed without a combo or Spawn synergy concept.
Mike
This guy only costing 5 and being a 3/3 makes him playable if you’re trying to do something with high cost. These red cards getting Spawn: 3 is a lot better than what the other colors are offering right now.


James
Be-geez. This is looking awesome. Not really for constructed because red-decks are going to want lower curves (or traditionally do). Great for limited.
Joe
Wow, this is like a cantrip version of erratic explosion. If you have any kind of way to manipulate your library, this turns into a solid card, but otherwise it’s very luck-dependent. Still, this format seems to lend itself to very high mana curves, so you should usually do 5 or more damage for the card, which seems like a good deal.
Rob
This made me giggle a little. Jace, Selective Memory, Halimar Depths, or even some tutors in Eternal formats can make this 15 damage with an Emraluk, 16 with a Draco. That’s like casting 5 bolts at the same time. So fun. I like this for a run at an extended deck using Riddle of Lightning as it does very similar things.
Mike
I think this is a fine limited card. We’ve seen things like vengeful rebirth be good in limited and this reminds me of that in a lot of ways. It’s a cool take on the treasure hunt mechanic we got in the last set.


James
I guess…It’s aight. This would be pretty sweet at 4cc. 5cc just makes me not like this.
Joe
Versatile, but likely a sideboard card.
Rob
One mana and one restriction beyond real playability for now. Once Scars comes down and we have more must-kill artifacts, this will surface occasionally.
Mike
Pretty gosh-darn expensive of a card in a limited format where there really aren’t any blow out lands.


James
Sweet. Doesn’t hit players so probably not good enough to justify in constructed but certainly powerful enough for an early pick in limited.
Joe
Excellent removal that will change the typical math for creature toughness. 4 is no longer safe.
Rob
I like it. I think the Sorcery speed and the player exclusion makes up for the extra damage nicely. Becomes a strategy play as to whether to kill now, or wait till it comes back to you.
Mike
Inferno trap for it’s trap cost? Power creep? Magic is so weird sometimes.


James
Cool. Sorcery speed to knock out two x/1′s? Sure. So cheap.
Joe
I love the flexibility of this spell, even though it’s not an instant.
Dillon
The Fire side of Fire//Ice. I think it is really good, I was wondering when they would print it on it’s on card. I’m not sure if it is better than Staggershock, but perhaps in time.
Rob
Nice. I wish it was instant, but I’m a Red player a lot. Neutering Elves and WW are going to be the real order of the day when you have this card in hand. Of course it can also be a shock if you need to seal the deal.
Mike
This is something everyone is going to have to play around now. A nice little piece of removal/burn for very cheap.


James
There aren’t many early drops in Rise so I suppose this is okay if you want to try for an aggressive start. Just doesn’t seem right for the rest of the cards in the set. Probably great filler for a top-heavy curve. Constructed? Maybe, it’s similar enough to Mogg Fanatic that it’s probably worth throwing in a deck to see how it goes.
Joe
I’m not really into this. A 1-drop 1/1 seems out of place in ROE, even with the potential to help you profit in combat.
Rob
Mog Fanatic! So good to see you again!


James
Hmmm…are there enough creatures for this to be justifiable? I just don’t see it. Sometimes strategies change once you get to play more with the cards. I don’t see it though.
Joe
I think this will be another lynchpin of rush decks, should that approach prove viable. You will definitely need ways to squeak by the ubiquitous defenders and fatties.
Rob
Maybe in Block Goblins, but mostly it just feels like Filler.
Mike
Another thing for red to use to break a stalled board. That’s two sest in a row we’ve seen stuff like this, an interesting path for the red mage.


James
There ar emore than enough walls in this set to justify this. I’m pretty sure it’s an amazing SB option for limited and it’s going to be a great mid-pack pick. I’m even thinking this is a dream for constructed play SB options…
Joe
This is another bear that will go well in a rush approach. You need ways to kill big walls, plain and simple.
Rob
A good sideboard card if Wall decks become as prominent as WotC wants them to be. The Lunge effect is nice too.
Mike
The wall-killer! This guy is cool, there are a ton of walls in this block and I could see this guy being a neat sideboard card and a really good limited card.


James
Nice. I am definitly going to look forwad to playing with this card. Guess I can’t get my hopes up too high; it is a rare after all. Still, pretty cool. Maybe I’m just way too into the spawn meme.
Joe
Wow, this should be a bomb, assuming you have even mediocre eldrazi spawn generation.
Rob
Upgrade all of your Spawn into threats. Sounds good. I like that the Sacrifice is on resolution, so if it gets countered you aren’t left out in the wind.
Mike
This card is bad ass, man. Especially in those stalled out games when you have a bunch of eldrazi spawn on the board.


James
Great reprint that’s going to be so awesome for limited. X in the casting cost? Automatic amazing first pick. :)
Joe
Solid common removal. A high pick for any deck, and easily splashable.
Rob
Banefire is obviously strictly better, but in Limited, this will do a lot of heavy lifting in cleaning up the opponent’s board.
Mike
Another great piece of removal for red. Though these cards aren’t very versatile, they’re quite handy.


James
I’m pretty sure this is the best (or second best) level up dude. Level up is hotly debated and frequently bemoaned for being a sorcery ability but this is just great at any point in the game for a red deck. One of the simple lessons Ben Lundquist gave during our workshops was that it’s crucial to evaluate cards on a “early game, mid-game and late-game” basis. That is, good early? Yep. Good mid-game? yep. Good late-game? Yep. Not as good as Tarmagoyf which is the card Ben was using to illustrate the point but this is still very solid. Mythic so don’t expect to see him during the pods (very often).
Joe
This is one of the more powerful levelers, but you need to be fairly committed to red.
Dillon
I love this guy. He is nowhere close to “Mythic” but I think he will see loads of play. He flies over Kor Firewalker, he is something for red to dump mana into. I can see him in October, tearing it up side by side Obsidian Fireheart, and Staggershock. If he has protection from white or first strike he would be loads better, but I won’t be picky.
Rob
I don’t like how much mana it takes to get this guy to his first change. RRRRRR for a 4/4 Flyer seems odd to me, I really don’t like the thought of it dying with the critical level on the stack.
Mike
I dont like Levelers who can’t completely upgrade on the very next turn, but this guy has some potential to be a 4/4.


James
Pretty cool to be sure. This is the kind of card that makes me think a fast deck might be possible. Just maybe…pretty cool.
Joe
I don’t like this guy, but you will sometimes be able to do neat combat tricks with him. He seems easy to kill, even if you pump him. This is a creature that will usually be blocked, though, and if he isn’t, you might sneak in 4 or 7 damage.
Rob
This guy can just get wholly out of hand. Drop him Turn 2, Turn 3 I Bolt you, Bolt you, and swing with a 7/2 for 13 Damage total. And that’s not all that unlikely of a scenario with some variation.
Mike
This guy seems like filler, though he could do some serious damage with the amount of cheap spells that we normally see from red.


James
I mean, everything costs 8 mana so this is probably doable. lol. Everything in this set is super-sized so I guess this “pip-squeek” is minatureized. sigh.
Joe
Hill giant is usually playable. It remains to be seen whether this holds true in the realm of the Eldrazi.
Rob
Uh, yeah, filler. Nothing to really say here.
Mike
Another functional reprint.


Joe
An Overrun-esque effect on a gray ogre seems good to me, even if it’s much slower and lacks the trample clause. This is an ogre they need to deal with before you hit the magic 8.
Rob
I don’t like how small he is, but this might be the best of the Invokers, not that the bar was set too high. A goblin, he beefs up you whole team, and he’s a red mana dump for when you are in top deck mode.
Justin
How underpowered can you be? I imagine R&D had a pretty broken 1st draft of this guy to end up with such a watered down creature. Yuck.


Joe
Another strong leveler, and the kind of hill giant I can get behind in RoE. If he goes ultimate, you should win the game with this guy, which puts him near, or across, the boundary of the “bomb” category.
Dillon
Aggressively costed and a serious beater. Red will take him happily. I can see him in Big Red as the main skull shatterer for the deck.
Rob
Leveler tries to level, takes a bolt to the face, controller loses more mana and a card. Film at 11. And if you really can’t race its controller or kill it before level 6, you deserve to get a beat down.
Mike
Here you have another hill giant with some potential. I don’t see this guy making it past level 1 but I don’t think you really need it to. It’s just not really what you’re looking for when you open a rare, though there isn’t a lot of removal that will deal with it easily at 3/3.


Joe
This might not be that terrible if your opponent drops some smaller guy, or if you have an 0/X wall that can block him every turn without killing him.
Rob
This will be the difference in some Limited games, but I doubt it will see the light of day anywhere else.
Mike
This is a pretty interesting take on an aura. It could really blow out your opponent if he has a 1 power creature on the board that you can just trade 1 for 3 damage with all game.


Joe
Reusable removal is very strong, even if you have to sacrifice dorks to get it. Remember that you can block and then use this ability before damage is dealt.
Rob
This just seems bad. Did they really need filler in the Rare slots?
Mike
This guy has potential to be decent with some spawn but otherwise he’s just a 4/4 unless they allow you to stack damage again someday.
Justin
I feel like this guy has a rightful place in Goblin decks. Look for Magmaw’s value to jump as Extended season comes back.


Joe
A neat wall. Pretty unremarkable, as it does what it does and that’s it.
Rob
Red Wall. At least it will eat anything that plays interference while swarming you.


Joe
This is a strong wall, able to clear out armies of tiny creatures, controlling opposing eldrazi spawn, etc.
Rob
A Good Red Wall. It Flies, It Provokes, and it have huge power. If you can give it First Strike it’d be silly.
Mike
I like that this guy can force a trade with someone your opponent might be trying to protect but I’m not a huge fan of walls that look like they should be beating the crap out of my opponent.


Joe
This might not be a bad thing to play in an early-rush deck. Just remember that it does nothing on its own, so it isn’t as good as your central strategy.
Zak
Rob
This seems like it could be really good. Boros and Goblins can set this off like nobody’s business.
Mike
This could be really decent in a quick little goblin deck with a low curve. the fact that it’s common makes it scary in a swarm style 40-carder.


Joe
Yow! If this gets in there unopposed even once, you should have no problem going to Eldrazi town. I like the looks of this trampling uncommon. His main drawback is his high cost, as your opponent will likely have some sizeable defenses built up by the time this hits play.
Rob
Pretty slow and clunky. I throw it in the “Why Bother?” pile.
Mike
If this guy was just a little chaper I’d really like him, but 6 cost is a lot for someone who isn’t going to potentially win the game for you, and that 4 toughness isn’t very impressive at 6cc. He has a lot of great synnergy with a bunch of other red cards though.


Joe
First strike really saves this guy from being unplayable. As it is, he’s still only marginally playable. But with enough eldrazi spawn, he might be your best wall as you stall into your fat. Or he can just swing into wall after wall.
Rob
Meh. Too often this will be a really expensive 1/1 or 2/1 and that just won’t get there that well.
Mike
This guy could be off the wall with the amount of eldrazi spawn red looks like they can produce.


Joe
I like this spell. It lets you finish off a creature that your opponent assumed would live, and it gives you a spawn token. It’s not the most powerful burn, but I’ll run it either in a pinch, or in a deck that wants to spawn race. Remember that you can simply use this to nuke an opposing spawn token if you’re afraid they might win the spawn-into-eldrazi race.
Dillon
This is another spell for Big Red that will help buy it time and save it time in the same moment.
Rob
I kinda like this. You get 1 mana back in the form of a Spawn and you can pop off one of their Spawns, or better.
Mike
pretty bad.


Joe
Turn any creature into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker‘s cousin! This is a very cool card with multiple uses. Try to find a creature with a great “enters the battlefield” effect to slap this on.
Rob
A semi-decent Rare? It’s like it came from a whole different set! Auras are weak, true, but this has combo tricks written all over it. Make infinite tapped Glamer Spinners in Extended+, but do what with them? Hmm…
Mike
We’ve seen cards like this before. It has a certain appeal to it, but really it’s an expensive card that makes the creature it enchants a total lightning rod for removal. If you get it on an even halfway decent guy though, it could do some damage.


Joe
Basic removal / burn card. Definitely worth playing in limited. I missed the rebound at first and still thought this was decent. With rebound, it’s very good indeed.
Dillon
The most important burn spell next to Lightning Bolt. It is nearly card advantage for red, which doesn’t happen very often. I like it a lot, and I am nowhere near being a red mage.
Rob
Imagine Shock with Flashback for 2. Seems good right? Well, this is just one step below that. Good enough for me.
Mike
This is a card with a lot of hype already, it seems like the perfect application for Rebound.


Joe
This is a neat spell. If you only have one instant in the yard, you can use this to play said instant two more times!
Rob
Random is not a word I want to play with in Magic outside the Randomization of my Deck.
Mike
Sorcery speed makes this card pretty bad, but Rebound gives it potential. I don’t know what likely targets for this card would be, but I’m sure it has some application somewhere.


Joe
This is the aforementioned threaten on steroids. A very strong, game-swinging card, here.
Rob
Awesome in Limited, Casual Bazaar Trader deck is the permanent home though.
Mike
We’ve seen mark of mutiny and co. do work, and this card is just silghtly better. It can get you there maybe a turn earlier than it’s predecessors.


Joe
Dare your opponent to block this legend! He seems cute, but there are so many 0/X walls that send old Tuk-tuk to frown town that I’d be hesitant to rely on him without some other way to sacrifice him (and ideally then return him from the graveyard to sacrifice him again).
Rob
I really like Tuktuk. I love the flavor and story behind him, and his ability is neat and possibly abusable.
Mike
I don’t know mucha bout goblins as a constructed deck but this guy is a great blocker in limited.


Joe
Valakut Wall Killer is about the extent of this guy. He makes a great blocker and a great, if vulnerable, attacker too. I like him okay, but he’s got that vulnerability which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Rob
Attack only when it’s the killing blow. No constructed playability. And by that I mean it would really surprise me.
Justin
A red wall that does not play well with the defender focus in RoE. Can be a decent finisher in Limited.


Joe
Wow, this is probably going to be an archetype of its own. If you get 2-4 of these guys and a bunch of walls, you can just turtle up and win the game during EOT steps. This is pretty dang strong in my opinion.
Rob
When Defenders Strike Back. Seems ok. I wonder how many playable Defenders there are? That will tell us how good this guy will be.
Mike
There are a lot of defender cards in this block, if there’s a deck based around them I imagine this guy would have to be a staple.


Joe
Two turns of double-alpha strikes is definitely worth the 3RR here. This is another spell that might incentivize you to play a rush strategy against the grain of the defender-themed set. Imagining having an annihilator creature on board when you cast this seems mighty dirty.
Rob
You can’t create much more pressure than this, assuming you have any threats at all on the board.
Mike
I think this card has a lot of potential in a deck with evasion, 5cc is simply not too much for what this card has the potential to do, which is control 4 combat phases in 2 turns.


Joe
This common will be another weapon in the arsenal of the rush player, since you can kill the wimps and/or spawn, and neutralize the walls for a clear attack.
Rob
More removal for Spawn and Mana Elves. Seems fine in some decks.
Mike
Just one more way to swing in for the win. Of course there’s some 3 for 1 potential in there… as much potential as Ancestral Visions being reprinted.


We’d love to hear your thoughts. Did we miss anything? You can also check out the rest of the set review and analysis. :) Colorless White Blue Black Red

EDH deck building: The Coalition vs. Phyrexia

Getting started in EDH can be a daunting task for newer players.  Fortunately for those newer players, Wizards of the Coast releases special products, such as the Duel Decks series that showcase many older cards.  The newest line in the Duel Decks series is Phyrexia vs. The Coalition.  This product is a great jumping off point for newer players who want to try their hand at EDH packed with all sorts of EDH goodies.

Let’s take a look at what the mechanized armies of Phyrexia give us.  One of the coolest reprints in a long time, Phyrexian Negator has prompted some serious debate about Wizard’s Reserved List.  The Negator is an amazing option for an aggro deck but EDH is more about longevity and combos than about quick beatdown.  Remember life totals in EDH are 40 not 20.  Still, this guy can be decent for you if you are lean on options.  Sacrifice outlets allow for some interesting tricks and Phyrexian Plaguelord fits the bill nicely.  For card draw, Phyrexian Arena is really good, abusing that big life total.  Another nice addition is Phyrexian Processor.  Pumping out a threat every turn for a minimal resource commitment is awesome.

One of my favorite reprints is Voltaic Key.  This card was amazing back in the days of Urza’s Saga and offers great potential with good artifacts floating around (like the Processor above).  Worn Powerstone and of course Phyrexian Colossus also play nice with the Key.  Another card I was excited to get was Lightning Greaves.  I cannot think of a card that is more useful in General-centric strategies than the Greaves.  Whispersilk Cloak, Hornet CannonPhyrexian Vault, and Phyrexian Totem are all playable cards that can help a beginner with EDH.  Living Death and Slay are pretty good as well.

Taking a look at the good guys we find that the Coalition has a bunch to offer.  One, two, three, four…four Generals come in this deck!  Darigaaz, the IgniterGerrard Capashen, Rith, the Awakener, and Treva, the Renewer.  That’s a lot of Legendary goodness.

The Coalition give us some great utility creatures as well.  Thornscape Battlemage, Sunscape Battlemage, and Thunderscape Battlemage all offer some usefull abilities.  Yavimaya Elder  = card advantage (cool new art too).  Armadillo Cloak, Coalition Relic, and Power Armor are decent goodies as well.  The Coalition also gives us a great finisher in Urzas Rage.  This big spell laughs in the face of counter-magic and the foil treatment it got is superb.

If you are new to EDH, or if you know someone who wants to get into it, then the Phyrexia vs. The Coalition Duel Deck is a great place to pick up some awesome older cards.  Use this as a springboard to take the plunge into the EDH waters.

Why and what do we name Magic decks?

If you have ever been to a decently large constructed Magic tournament, where you have to register your deck, you have been asked the question in no uncertain terms.

What's in a name? That which we call Jund by any other name would play as sweet.
What's in a name? That which we call Jund by any other name would play as sweet.

It’s right there. For some this is a trivial question, as someone has told them what to write there, but for others, deck builders, it is a momentous occasion. The line can read more like “If you should attain glory on this fine day, what would be the name of the weapon you have forged and wielded to your victory?” Besides, the act of naming is a fairly infrequent event in most people’s lives. The typical individual will name nothing more than their pets, children, and a few paltry academic papers. If you are an artist or author by profession or hobby, then perhaps you have more opportunity to name, but there are so few whom would have such a privilege and responsibility. Most of the time, things already have names by the time we become aware of them.

Deck builders have the above experiences with their vast and varied brews regularly. The decks are simultaneously like pets, children, and theses. The deck builder is artists, scientist, and author. There is a responsibility to name a deck well, as if you or your trusting compatriots do well in a significant tourney, the world will want to know, “What was that person playing?” They will want to know what configuration of cards are in your deck list, sure, but the first thing they look for is the name. By what do you call the deck, and what gives it such a name? To answer this, let’s look first at what functions a name can serve and also some names that already typify those particular functions.

The first function of a name is brevity. Imagine how painful the descriptions and dialogue of the MTG community would be if every time  a match was described it begins with “Well, he had four Putrid Leech, four Bloodbraid Elf, four Sprouting Thrinax, four…” eventually reaching a ‘versus’ and beginning all over again with another long list. What would be a twenty minute verbal description of what two deck met in a round can be brought down to merely a second. “The Semi-final is ‘Jund‘ versus ‘Boss Naya‘”. This isn’t as accurate as listing all the cards, but is a whole lot more practical.

Secondly, a name must be in some way relatable to the deck that typifies it, but this can be done many ways. The most important factor is that it is adopted for use by the Magic Community. If someone creates a deck and names it “Train Wreck”, but no one ever cares to know what that means, what cards are in it, or to call it by such a name when referring to the deck, then it doesn’t really get named “Train Wreck”. Maybe it is named “UBR Discard” instead because that became the name the group decided to call it. If I say “SphinxFire”, nobody will know that I’m referring to UWR Control, which I built essentially over a month before LSV popularized his build by performing well at a major event.

Some of the ways that we describe a deck using a name can vary. Sometimes we can simply refer to the colors of mana most used, sometimes using naming conventions WotC has given us as a shortcut. If the word ‘Naya’ appears in a deck, we know it plays Red, Green, and White, as those are the colors of mana associated with that shard in the Shards of Alara setting. Likewise, the word ‘Boros’ tells us that a deck uses Red and White. These naming conventions have caught on due to deck archetypes that have been played repeatedly using these colors and the associated strategies. However, color combination names don’t always work. Green and White dominated decks aren’t called Selesnya because not only does it sound like the name of a Russian rock band, but also because it is a mouthful and no Green and White decks featured prominently during the time period that this would have popularized.

Another naming option is to use a namesake, such as the deck’s creator. We have seen this recently with ‘Boss Naya’, which contains the color word to give you a basic description of the deck, but also contains the nickname of the decks creator, Tom “The Boss” Ross to tell you that this is his variant. This type of convention was also used in the name ‘Rubin Zoo’. This type of name allows people to find fairly specific deck lists for an archetype that may have many variants.

Perhaps you would rather just describe what the deck does or how it wins games. Names like ‘UW Control’, ‘Mono-Red Burn’ and ‘GW Aggro’ describe quiet acutely the color of the deck and the basic strategy.  Sometimes though, a deck will have an important interaction that the deck revolves around, using the key cards as namesakes, and describing what the deck does at the same time. ‘Dark Depths/Thopter’ and ‘Hypergenesis’ are examples of this type of naming, though this can be extended to mechanics that are key as well, such as ‘Affinity’ and ‘Dredge’. The point is to tell you in the name what the deck is going to try to accomplish.

My favorite is when a deck has an off-the-wall name that you actually think about for a moment to see how it relates to the list of cards to which it is associated. ‘The Hulk Gets Crabs’ and ‘Ruel Gets Crabs‘ are two recent and humorous examples. Assuming you know things like Ruel refers to Ranger of Eos, the deck tells you that card A gets card B and that’s a really good thing, and due to creative play on the names of the cards, you have a humorous and memorable name to boot.

There is occasionally a deck name that will be essentially useless if it wasn’t for the fact that it is tightly associated to the deck list, because the name is like a person’s name, essentially a pseudo-unique and undescriptive tag or identifier. ‘KarstenBot BabyKiller’, for example, has no meaning to me, other than that it is related to a certain configuration of cards.

I, personally, give my deck names some thought when I become happy with a brew and deem it worthy of naming. I also keep a mental note of things that I think should be deck names simply for awesomeness and am occasionally inspired to try and make a deck worthy of the name I have thought up. After reading about Rise of the Eldrazi’s monsters, I’ve got one particular deck I’m hoping to create and name in a particularly witty way, but for now I will keep the name to myself, so as not to spoil the fun of a finished product.

I know that this did not offer a solution to what naming convention should be used in naming a deck, but I hope that I have laid out the issue for discussion and look forward to revisiting the issue based on some feedback from my readers. Should we collapse these diverse naming practices into a stricter and subsequently more efficient nomenclature, or should we be free to name our creations however we like, provided everyone can know what we are talking about? Let’s hash-it out in the comments below and on Twitter. Hit me up @RobJelf.

Why The Internet Will Always Build a Better Deck.

This is my first article written for the MTG community, and I’m pleased to be writing for the awesome folks at Power 9 Pro. Today I’m going to talk about net decks and using the power of community to create a better deck, but first I’m going to say a word about what you can expect most often from my articles.

Now, you’ve obviously turned to the internet to research Magic and maybe get some fresh perspectives on the game we all love. I can tell because that is where this post is located and you have chosen to read it. You are seeking to improve your game. For some you simply want to beat Jund, Affinity, or MUD. You may want to know what to do about Blightning, Baneslayer Angel, or Tarmagoyf. I am going to do better than tell you how to make those worries go away. I’m going to strive to develop reasoning and tools that will drive your game, my game, and the game to new levels. I deal in cognitive and practical tools. Please, step into my shop.

What to do? What to do?

A lot of players fresh to the tournament scene or who have gotten slightly more competitive within their casual group become frustrated at so called ‘net decks’. The internet is always going to build a better deck, and you shouldn’t begrudge that, because you can be part of the process and you can reap the benefits. Besides, odds are you already do ‘net deck’, but you’ll see what I mean a little later.

All decks begin with selecting a goal. The obvious goal of the game is to win, but there are a number of ways to do so. Commonly the goal will be to reduce the opponent’s life total to zero, so we will work with this most common objective. Combos aside, an opponent’s life total is usually reduced to zero through attacking with creatures or using direct damage sources.

There are 1,118 cards in standard as of the launch of Worldwake. There will be 1,575 cards in standard with the release of M11 in July. How many do you know? Ok, perhaps that is unfair, so lets say that only 20% of the cards in the environment are constructed playable. That brings the number down to 315 cards. Now, do you know all of them? Maybe you do, but do you remember them all at once? Of course you don’t. We can only remember 5-9 different units of information at any one time, and that is something that you need to think about when you are deck building. You do not, and can not remember all the cards, all the time. You need help.

Help comes in many different forms. Some rouge deck builders sit down and flip back and forth between the cards in their collection, or the cards legal to the format on Gatherer or Magiccards.info, an idea in mind, scribbling down notes. They are helping themselves, extending there mental capacity to deck build by using the images to store the details of the cards and the notes to store the fleeting thoughts they are having about interactions. This is good, but still limited. Let’s find more help.

Our deck builder constructs his deck and takes it over to his Magic playing friend’s house. They sit down and play a couple games and our hero asks his buddy what he thinks. Now here is where things get interesting. The buddy has played games that our hero hasn’t. The buddy has his own criteria on what cards are good and just how good they are, and they aren’t all the same as our hero’s. The buddy suggests a few changes, Our hero likes some, as a good case has been made, and he makes a few adjustments. Here we have doubled up on the brain power and experience involved in the deck’s creation, but we can do better.

Our hero and the buddy go to the card store to play a few game with friends. After each match-up, our hero surrenders his deck for inspection and comment. The deck is interesting to some, doesn’t work well enough according to others. Discussion breaks out and cases are made for more efficient card choices, different variations that can be tried, and the addition of an more obscure card to serve a special purpose in the deck. Our hero couldn’t have come up with all these different opinions by himself. He may be quite smart, but the power of, lets say five, other brains working on the same problem as he is, in addition to the variety in styles, experiences and preferences, dwarfs the effort that he could bring to bear on it.

Our hero, without ever looking at a deck list or browsing a forum has just net decked. In this case, the net was not the internet, but the network of players around him. The MTG community online is doing this same thing, but we are taking advantage of the gifts of technology to bring the raw power and vastly varied experiences of hundreds, if not thousands of minds to bear on the same problems.

Now, I believe the thing that people actually are disturbed by is when a player completely turns their brains off and simply selects the winning-est deck that they can assemble without serious consideration to improving on it or an alternative to it. Honestly, if you are simply a Magic playing computer, running iterated decision trees and card-counting probability algorithms, then this approach is probably fine. If you have been cramming for exams, or working overtime and you just need something to play in a tourney without much thought, I can understand grabbing the latest Red-Deck-Wins list and running with it. However, if you have any creative impulse or opinion about Magic, and if you love this game you must, you will be a part of the network and contribute back to the development of others’ decks.

With the processing power of the human brain at approximately 100 million computer

A network of brain power making awesome!
A network of brain power making awesome!

instructions per second, and hundreds of people playing a game with hundreds of cards, hundreds of rules and millions of possible interactions, I believe that I can make two assertions. The first assertion is that the only way to create a deck and make it an optimal winner is to bring the power of as many human brains as possible to it, using whatever network possible, including the internet. I think that most can agree to that, but my second assertion will probably be a bit more controversial. I believe that there can always be a better deck made than whatever is ‘best’ given enough brain power applied to the problem.

The New Faeries Archetype – UWb (Part 2)

Hello again, and welcome to part 2 of my look at a new blue-white-black faeries deck. For those of you who forgot, or are brand new to the site, this is the deck we developed last time.

UWb Faeries: 61 Cards


Sideboard: 15 Cards

The day after I built this deck, I took it to a Standard FNM to see how it played. So without further ado, let me delve into the coverage.

Round 1 vs Matt Tang (Turbo Fog)

Matt Tang is one of those guys that makes playing competitive Magic a blast. You may recognize him as a certain angel from this last Halloween, and yes, I was Mishra that day.

At least once every few months, Matt likes to bring Turbo Fog to the table, and although it can get annoying, it’s fun, and he has come up with some great twists on this classic deck.

I lose the die roll and Matt opts to play first, leading off with a Seaside Citadel. Keep in mind that I didn’t know what he was playing, but I guessed a Bant aggro deck. I matched his tri-land with one of my own, and we exchanged land drops for a few turns, namely a mutavault for me and a wooded bastion and plains for Matt.

I made the first play of the game on turn 3, when I resolved a Jace Beleren, whose loyalty went to 2 to net me an extra card. Matt responded in turn with a Plains and an Oblivion Ring to stop my blue planeswalker from netting me any extra cards. We played lands for another turn until I was able to animate my Mutavault and champion it in favour of a Mistbind Clique during Matt’s upkeep. He made a plains and said go, so I promptly swung in with my 4/4. He tapped his plains for a Giorno Sacro, or for the non-Italian speakers, Holy Day. Fortunately I had a Spellstutter Sprite who was able to ensure that my clique was able to connect.

The next turn was much the same, except with a Scion of Oona on my board, yet again came down the Holy Day, going uncountered this time. Matt made a Mistveil Plains and then shipped the turn off to me. I declared my attackers, but was met with yet another Gioro Sacro, which I attempted to Cryptic Command. Unfortunately, he had a Pollen Lullaby waiting in the wings, which showed me a Bitterblossom on top of my deck.

Matt made a Vivid land on his turn and resolve a blue Story Circle. I responded afterwards with the Bitterblossom that has been sitting on top of my deck. Matt passed his turn and I discarded Jace in favour of keeping Vendilion Clique mana up, which i used after his draw step to see nothing in particular worth taking.

On my next turn, I bounced his Story Circle with my Cryptic Command and swung in with my faerie rogues (forgetting I could now attack freely with my blue creatures). The life totals were now 18-14 in my favour.

Matt laid down his Story Circle next turn, again naming blue. His Angelsong put a stop to my tokens and it was promptly replaced on the bottom of hid library with Mistveil Plains.

At the end of Matt’s last turn, I bounced his Story Circle with a Cryptic Command, and swung in for 6 points of damage. Lo and behold, an Angelsong was Matt’s Fog variant of choice and I promptly resolved yet another Cryptic Command to ensure my team go through.

After Matt laid his Story Circle down, I played a Scion of Oona in the hopes of pumping my faerie tokes for lethal, which was met by Path to Exile. I had the Lapse of Certainty to back it up, but it was to no avail as a second Path brought the Scion down. At this point, I remembered my Mutavault, promptly animated it, and swung in for lethal anyway.

1-0

I boarded out my 2 Mark of Asylums and my Path to Exiles, in favour of Thoughtsiezes and Countersqualls to get rid of most of his Fog effects before they had a chance to work their magic.

Matt led with a Vivid Meadow, which I matched with an Arcane Sanctum. Out came a Wooded Bastion and a Scattershot Archer, and I groaned at having boarded out my Mark of Asylums. On my turn I played a Reflecting Pool into a Thoughtsieze, which, much to my dismay, revealed a hand of Font of Mythos, Wrath of God, Wooded Bastion, Firespout and Path to Exile. It seemed that Matt’s entire sideboard had been in preparation for this matchup. I took the Firespout, and went down to 18.

Matt made a blue Story Circle and passed the turn. I made a land and passed, which opened me up to another shot by the archers. Matt tried to make a Font of Mythos, which was promptly countered by a Countersquall.

I played a Mutavault next turn, and Matt went on the offensive. He attacked into my Mutavault, which was promptly hit with Path to Exile, yet saved by a timely Countersquall. Another Thoughtsieze on my turn took out a Howling Mine, and a Vendilion Clique met a hand of naught but land.

Matt later tried to make a Scattershot Archer, I sent it to the top of his deck with a Lapse of Certainty, although another one quickly came down to take its place. His next turn Scattershot was met with a Cryptic Command, and a Runed Halo was stopped with a Countersquall. I was gradually starting to win the war of attrition.

Unfortunately, here’s where the misplays started. Between me playing a Scion of Oona to save my Vendilion Clique from getting hit with Path to Exile, but I forgot that Scattershot Archer would not only kill the Scion afterwards, but all my other Faeries as well. Playing a Bitterblossom didn’t help matters, at least until I could champion it for a Mistbind Clique. The next few turns were easy, and I was able to secure a 2-0 victory.

1 Win – 0 Losses.

Round 1 vs Jason (Esper)

The first play of round 2 was an Ethersworn Canonist, which remained the only relevant permanent on the board for a few turns. My Vendilion Clique came down, but it was bested by an Ethersworn Adjudicator. A Path To Exile was not enough to stop his Esper army, which gained a Master of Etherium and a Master Transmuter.

0-1

I brought out my Mark of Asylums in favour of Jace and another Lapse of Certainty and shuffled up for game two, playing first. I unfortunately kept a 5 card hand with an Arcane Sanctum as my only land. Two missed land drops later left me with a Bitterblossom, yet nothing else to defend me from a Master of Etherium, pumped by multiple Mind stones. Any more of my cards I tried to resolve were countered by the likes of Countersquall and Broken Ambitions, and I conceded shortly after.

1 Win – 1 Loss.

Round 3 vs Craig (Sigil of the Empty Throne.dec)

We both traded lands for a while, and then I was able to resolve a Vendilion Clique, nabbing a Sigil out of his hand, albeit leaving a second one behind. He played a Prison Term to halt my Clique’s attacks, and it wasn’t until my 5th turn that either of us found an land and another card to play, in my Jace Beleren, althought it was met with a Broken Ambitions.

Craig tried to resolve a Wall of Reverence, but I countered it with a Cryptic Command. Without another source of land, he began to discard cards. when he got the land he needed, I was ready for his spells with an assortment of Mutavaults and Spellstutter Sprites.

When Craig attempted to accelerate his mana with a Mind Stone, I dropped a Spellstutter Sprite, and a Sage’s Dousing tried to stop it. Luckily there was another Sprite waiting in the wings to counter the Mind Stone before it resolved.

I was able to resolve a Vendilion Clique after Craig took his draw, but it was promptly hit by Pacifism. On my turn however, I bounced his Pacifism with a Cryptic Command, and by animating a Mutavault, I swung in for lethal.

1-0

In game 2, we traded lands for a few turns until Craig made an Augury Adept, which was met by my Bitterblossom. He was able to resolve a Mind Stone, and when he tried to pacify a token, I had Scion of Oona for backup.

The next turn meant a Jace Beleren for myself, and a Wall of Reverence for Craig, although it was countered by a Spellstutter Sprite. After a Vendilion Clique revealing a hand full of land and a Cryptic Command to bounce one of his land, he quickly conceded.

2 Wins – 1 Loss

Well, for a player who had never played any type of Faeries deck before, I thought I did relatively well. With my only loss to some mana screw against an Esper deck, I was happy with my performance, and was awarded with second place.

Do you guys remember Matt and his Turbo Fog deck from round 1? Well, in round 3 he was paired up against Matt the store owner, who was piloting a mono-white weenie deck. After the round was up, there was an interesting board position to look at.

Yes, there are 7 Oblivion Rings on the table, many of them affecting each other.

Yes, there are 7 Oblivion Rings on the table, many of them affecting each other.

On a parting note, in the wake of Pro Tour Kyoto, I would like to talk about the matchups this deck has with the ever-present red-white deck affectionately known as Cruise or Boat Brew.

When facing down the Cruise deck, tempo is everything. Playing as many cards like Lapse of Certainty and Mistbind Clique are crucial to coming out on top. Save your Cryptic Commands for the big threats like Cloudgoat Ranger, Siege-Gang Commander and Spectral Procession. In addtion, playing your Vendilion Cliques during combat to serve as a kill spell against threats like a 2/2 Figure of Destiny or a Reveillark.

You’ll obviously want to bring in Celestial Purges for games 2 and 3, in addition to Marks of Asylum to reduce the power of Ajani Vengeant and Siege-Gang Commander. The extra lapses will also help you here, and Bitterblossom is great in a war of attrition.

With the right sideboard choices, and some tactical playing, this Faeries deck can have an extremely solid matchup against one of the most popular decks in the format, the red-white Cruise deck.

This is getting long, so I’ll say goodbye for now!