Tag Archives: draft

Doubling_Cube

MTGO Videos – Cube Draft 4

Hey Guys, I recently had another opportunity to cube draft thanks to Thea Steele (@wmap on twitter).  Notable guests in this draft were Tim Pskowski (Recent StarCityGames Standard Open winner) and AJ Kerrigan (One of the best young minds in the game, famous for his performance at various SCG opens).

Playlist! – The volume starts out kind of loud – you have been warned!

I hope you guys enjoy the games, and I hope to bring some more content out in the next little while.  As always, remember that I stream Magic Online games live every Monday at www.justin.tv/zturchan or www.twitchtv.com/zturchan for at least an hour at 5PM mountain, 7PM eastern, 4PM pacific.  Check it out!

As always, feel free to contact me via email (zak-AT-power9pro.com), via twitter (@zturchan) or in the comments below.  I’m also on MTGO a great deal so feel free to message me there (zturchan).

Cheers,

Zak

Magic Online Videos – Cube Draft 1

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year, and for my first set of videos for 2011 I’m happy to present a cube draft.  For those of you who don’t know, Evan Erwin has a great introduction to the cube at his site www.cubedrafting.com, which does a far better job of explaining this wonderful format than I ever could.

While Cube Draft is not an officially supported MTGO format, StarCityGames columnist and magic blogger Thea Steele has started using  www.tappedout.net as a way to start up a draft, and then the cards are exported to Magic Online where the games are played out.  I’d like to thank Thea for letting us use her cube, and for hosting this draft.

Enjoy!

The Championship Chronicles – Part 2 (Two-Headed Giant M11 Draft)

For those of you who missed part 1 of this article, you can read about the standard portion here.

The second event of the championship was a Two-Headed Giant Draft. For those of you unfamiliar with the 2HG format, I’ll give you a quick rundown of the rules.

1. Players are seated in teams of 2, each team consisting of an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ player. The A player makes all final decisions and can veto the actions of his partner. Who gets which role is usually decided before the event starts, and usually is the more experienced player.
2. Players share turns, as well as a combined life total of 30. The only other thing players share is information. Permanents, mana, and other objects are treated as normal.
3. Combat is performed as a team, and you attack the other team, not a player, unless an effect requires you to make that distinction (such as Ulamogs Crusher or Hypnotic Specter). The defending team blocks as a team, and can combine blocks as they wish.
4. Each player may take a free mulligan, but both players on a team must decide on their mulligans at the same time.
5. If one player loses the game, the team loses the game.

Two-Headed Giant is a great format in that it allows for several awesome interactions that simply don’t happen in normal Magic. For example, the card Breath of Malfegor in Alara block 2HG was insane, dealing 10 damage at instant speed for 5 mana. Not quite as bomby is the M11 superstar Blood Tithe which generates a 12 point life swing for 4 mana, and do I need to mention how broken Serra Ascendant is in this format?

I’m actually going to take a bit of time and address this 1 mana monstrosity, because it shows how a design that’s fine in most formats can be downright degenerate in others, which I believe is an example of poor design. Simply put, a team with Serra Ascendant in their pool will mulligan aggressively to it, with the help of the free mulligan. The other deck will play countermagic, and with Negate, Mana Leak and Cancel at common, it’s not exactly hard to come by out of 6 or 8 packs (draft/sealed respectively) . This means that the only way to defeat this card without fear is to aggressively mulligan into your Deathmark. What if you didn’t open one? That’s too bad. If you’re on the play you can get off a turn 2 Doom Blade, but on the draw you’re going to get wrecked if the blue mage has countermagic.

Having played against the card myself, I can vouch that it makes magic just plain not fun. I know that for some people, magic isn’t fun, but that’s not the type of player I am. I’ve said repeatedly that while I’m a competitive player, I’ll quit Magic as soon as I can’t enjoy myself playing it in any way. I’ve been on the receiving end of a turn 1 Serra, and have taken 18 points of damage (a 36 life point swing) before I could get a removal spell. By that time, the game was too far out of reach that our team just died. While Jacob van Lunen and Chris Lachmann may have stormed a Pro Tour by winning their matches in 5 minutes, they did so with a strategy that nobody respected, and I give the props for that. In a modern-day Time Spiral block 2HG draft, everyone would try and go slivers, or at least hate them higher than normal. When you can have a 5 minute game jut my opening one rare, I don’t enjoy it as much.

My 2HG partner contacted Wizards customer service and was informed that Serra Ascendant was never tested in 2HG limited. It was tested in EDH (a non-sanctioned format) and 2HG constructed (another format that sees almost zero play), but never in 2HG limited. There are only 5 formats available for TOs to run at FNM (Standard, Draft, Sealed, 2HG Standard and 2HG Sealed), and that you would test a card in an unsanctioned (albeit popular and fun) format like EDH and not in a format played at FNMs (where many players are introduced to the game) seems lazy. Serra Ascendant has dominated every M11 2HG tournament I’ve played in (3-4) and it not only makes the players who play against it feel bad, but the players who open it often feel a hint of remorse because of the fact that the card is just so powerful. What would have been the solution to this card? Making it mythic would’ve been a good start, as the card certainly feels mythic to me, although with 2 cycles of mythic in M11 there isn’t a ton of room for any more. I don’t know how I would reword the text of it to make it still good in standard but not broken in 2HG, but that’s why I’m not a developer. Anyway, that’s my mid-article rant. I’m sorry if I come across as whiny, but the fact of the matter is this card is absurdly powerful in one of my favourite formats.

Onto the tournament report! I was paired with Buddy, a player form the Sherwood Park store who’s quite good. Going into the draft portion we were informed that only nonverbal signals would be allowed, i.e. you can’t talk to your teammates. Because I’m unfamiliar with Buddy’s drafting style, I didn’t know what colours he favoured, etc. For those of you who don’t know, you draft 6 packs and pick 2 cards at a time from each pack. The only real disagreement we had was in the last pack with 4 cards left in it, one of which was a Time Reversal. Having played Time Reversal in 2HG limited before (a format with which Buddy was not as experienced), I wanted to take it, because it’s a solid card. Not great, but if you can play it at the right time it can be very solid. Buddy was having none of it, and since we couldn’t talk we passed it.

Our decks turned out pretty solid. Buddy got a white-black deck with double Serra Angel, double Doom Blade, and the all-important Blood Tithe. I had a blue-green deck with Stormtide Leviathan (another card that’s sick in 2HG) and Overwhelming Stampede (a card that’s slightly worse in 2HG). I also had double Scroll Thief and double Dryads Favor. now I know you’re all going to say I’m crazy for playing this last-pick enchantment, but hear me out. Landwalk abilities are extremely important in 2HG, because if either of your opponents has the right type of land, your creature is unblockable. Your opponents will almost always play at least 4 out of the 5 basic land types, and usually one will splash for something else. Nighthaze was a card I always wanted one of in my Rise of the Eldrazi 2HG decks, and River Boa was undeniably powerful in Zendikar-Worldwake. While not quite as awesome as Volcanic Strength, Dryad’s favour is a card I’m not ashamed to sleeve up in 2HG limited, one of the few formats where that card will see any play.

Round 1

In round 1 we faced off against Attila and Blaine, two of my friends from the Edmonton Wizard’s location. They start out quickly with a turn 2 Augury Owl and Garruks Companion. Buddy is able to play one of our 2 War Priest of Thunes, hoping to trade with the Companion, but a Volcanic Strength from the other team makes trading impossible, and we take 6 damage on turn 3. Luckily, I try to Aether Adept the enchanted companion, which meets a Cancel and Buddy is forced to lay his second War Priest to destroy the enchantment. While this was one of the few times that a landwalk ability in 2HG was actually irrelevant, it’s always nice to get some value out of a card like the priest. The next turn results in us successfully trading the priest for the companion, and Attila casts a Duress, only able to take my Dryads Favor.

On the next turn Buddy casts a Lilianas Specter, another card which is much that much better in 2HG. We happily trade it with their Augury Owl, only to cast Rise from the Grave next turn forcing them to discard again, while I add to our flying force with an Air Servant. They bring out a Scared Pegasus which holds our specter back, but we keep bringing the Air Servant beats. The eventually draw into a Fireball for my elemental, and I get my Stormtide Leviathan Cancelled, putting everyone more or less in topdeck mode.

My next draw is a much-needed Jaces Ingenuity, which nets me a Cancel for their Giant Spider, and we manage to kill them with fliers and card advantage in a few more turns.

1 – 0

Round 2
Round 2 has us facing Matt and Brian, a team (like ours) made of 2 people from different stores. Unfortunately, I must’ve gotten distracted and/or depressed by how badly we lost as my notes are very sparse. I have them playing a turn 2 Garruks Companion and a number of Infantery Veterans which broke through our sparse defences, as our team suffered from mana screw pretty hard. My life sheet from this game has us getting hit 7 times before dying, while we dealt a total 1 damage to them. Fun stuff.

1 – 1

In round 3, we take an intentional draw to ensure our continuation into day 2.

Final Record: 1 – 1 – 1
Final Record on the day: 3 – 3 – 1

After the elimination of the last place team, Matt (the TO, not my second-round opponent) calls up the top 2 teams from the 2HG rounds. With 12 players left, the next day will start with team Trios constructed, with the formats being Legacy, Extended, and Standard. The top 4 players are to draft their teammates form the remaining players, and Matt (my second-round opponent) uses his first pick to take me on his team. I was surprised by this, as Matt doesn’t know me extremely well, as we only see each other from time to time, but I was definitely happy to be on a team with him, as I have a lot of respect for him as a player. Our third teammate is my 2HG partner Buddy, and we decide that Buddy will play Standard (pretty much the only constructed format he plays regularly), Matt will play Extended, and I’ll play Legacy, as not only do I have a tier 1 deck pretty much built, but I have a relatively solid knowledge of the metagame and interactions, although I am by no means an expert. It’s also a format that I enjoy immensely, and I wish that the barrier to entry was lower so that our monthly Legacy tournaments would have more entrants.

That’s it for part 2, part 3 should be up soon, provided that school doesn’t throw a curveball at me. I’m in my first year of Computing Science at the University of Alberta, and I’m still getting used to university life.

Remember you can always email me at zak-AT-power9pro.com with any comments, questions, or article suggestions, or you can find me on twitter at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Cheers,

Zak

Jinxed! Tales from the M11 Prerelease

Hello everyone! Magic 2011 is finally out in stores and I’m sure everyone is having fun slinging new leylines and titans, as well as favourites like Baneslayer Angel and the original planeswalkers.

This last weekend I had the privilege to draft Magic 2011 three times, including 2 Launch Parties. On Friday I drafted a white-green deck with Day of Judgment and a fair few other removal spells for the launch party during the day. In the evening at FNM, I drafted a near mono black deck with a slight blue splash for Mind Control, Foresee and Diminish. Both of these drafts went rather well, but today I’m going to examine the one draft I did which contained some very interesting moments, and which was one of my worst days of Magic in a while. However, it is through the analysis and understanding of mistakes that we get better, and it is a weak player who will ignore unfavorable results.

Let’s go to the draft, shall we?

Pack 1
In the first pack we see Black Knight, Pyroclasm, Doom Blade and Angelic Arbiter. I opted to take the white bomb and send some solid black to my left.

The second pack is very weak, with the only solid cards being a Corrupt and a Condemn. Remembering that I shipped some good black earlier, I decided to keep up the signal and take the on-colour removal spell in Condemn.

The third pick shows us Foresee, Cultivate, Nantuko Shade and Ice Cage as the relevant cards. I take the Foresee, as white-blue is a colour combination that is perfectly fine, and Foresee is the best blue common in the set, in my opinion.

For the fourth pick, we have a choice between two blue cards of note: Water Servant and Augury Owl. I take the Owl, as it’s one of the best 2-drops in the set, setting up your 3rd and 4th turns very nicely, and it provides a lot of insight as to the direction that your game plane will take.

I’m not sure what was correct in this pack. The only playable card was a Quag Sickness, and the rare was a Dragonskull Summit, and there was nothing in either blue or white. I took the Quag Sickness, but it may have been correct to simply take the rare for the few dollars it’s worth, and continue to send the strong mono black signal to the left.

The next picks are very similar to each other, with each pack containing an on-colour card, as well as a playable black card. I take Ice Cage over Child of Night, another one over Necrotic Plague, Cloud Crusader and Siege Mastodon over Nightwing Shades. When I get passed a 10th pick Corrupt I take it. Again, I have my doubts about this pick, and I’m wondering if sending such a late pick Corrupt was safe, considering that the player on my left should already be in heavy black.

My last 4 picks are a foil Plains, Nightwing Shade, Incite and a Canyon Minotaur.

Pack 2
After Pack 1, we’re looking to make a white-blue deck, although we’re looking for some more solid creatures, and better removal if we can upgrade our Ice cages to Pacifisms. The cards of note in the pack I opened were an off-colour Hoarding Dragon, a Squadron Hawk, an Inspired Charge as well as no blue cards that I’d be happy to play. The charge may look similar to Overrun, but I can’t get behind that comparison. Because the white spell only boost half as much as the green bomb, it will be used more often than not as a combat trick. Trying to use it as a way to punch through extra damage makes it more similar to a Trumpet Blast, which wasn’t exactly a great card in M10. Having not played with the new Welkin Hawk, I decided to go for it, and draft another one if it came by. Note that I would not normally pick a hawk this early in a given pack without others to back it up, but the charge seems like an inferior card, and I have to play with Squadron Hawk at some point.

Pick 2 gets me a Serra Angel, just the sort of card my deck needed. I follow that pick up with a White Knight, Pacifism and Jaces Ingenuity.

Pick 6 gives me a decision between Celestial Purge and Preordain. I haven’t played with Preordain, but when I’ve seen it cast it’s seemed like a worse Augury Owl. When you’re scrying, you’re creating virtual card advantage through the putting of dead draws on the bottom of your library. This factor is diminished because of the low scry number found on preordain, so I opted for the purge.

The seventh pick gives me a nice Armored Ascension, and I pick up a Roc Egg shortly after. The egg is an interesting card that shines against green decks that need to break through on the ground and also lack many ways to defend against a flying assault.

My last picks of this pack are Deathmark, Ajanis Pridemate, Greater Basilisk, Sylvan Ranger and Demons Horn.

Pack 3
Here we’re looking to round out our deck with more creatures, as our spells seem to be alright so far. We’re especially looking for another Squadron Hawk to hope that our early pick last pack was not in vain. The opening pack gives us a choice between Scroll Thief and Warlords Axe I don’t like picking the Axe so early because it does require such a mana investment. The thief also gets better if I can Ice Cage a blocker and regain a card worth of advantage in cage the cage gets melted, so I take the watered-down Shadowmage Infiltrator.

The second pack is a sight for sore eyes, as we pick up our second Squadron Hawk over a Diminish. I love Diminish, but I can’t run the risk of not wheeling the hawk or getting another one.

The next pack shows us a Wild Griffin, Cloud Elemental and a Mighty Leap. I take the elemental, as it provides some decent offense as well as blocking many crucial early fliers like Stormfront Pegasus and Wild Griffin.

The next pack shows me a Diminish, a Jinxed Idol and a Wild Griffin. I opt for the combat trick, thinking that I might be able to wheel the idol to combine with my Roc Egg and Squadron Hawks.

In the next pack I nab a Crystal Ball over a Cloud Crusader. Every time i’ve played this card i’ve been impressed, so I see no reason to go against the tried and true.

I get a Knight Exemplar in the next pack which goes well with my White Knight and Cloud Crusader. At worst, it’s a 2/2 with first strike for 3, which while not amazing, is still fine.

My next picks are as follows: Unsummon, Palace guard, Solemn Offering, Jinxed Idol, Alluring Siren, Blood Tithe, and a Sorcerers Strongbox.

The draft went okay for us, but we might have been able to do better. We may have been able to jump in on mono-black in pack 1 and things may have been different, but we have to play the cards we’re dealt.

Here’s the deck I built:

In building this deck, I had 21 cards with which I had no reservations about running. The 22nd and 23rd cards were, respectively Jinxed Idol and Solemn Offering. I decided to try the idol because of the aforementioned synergies with Roc Egg and Squadron Hawk. The offering also is a good answer to some of the high-power artifacts and enchantments in this set such as Warlords Axe, Whispersilk Cloak and Pacifism. I don’t advocate running such a card maindeck, I like it better than my other options.

The cards that didn’t make the cut were: Unsummon, Palace Guard, Ajanis Pridemate and Alluring Siren. I’ve never been impressed with Unsummon, espesially in a slower deck like this. However, it does have some synergy with the Jinxed Idol, but I simply don’t like it when they’ll most likely simply suffer a minor tempo setback. While could play another creature, I’m much more worried about my opponent having some relevant enchantment or artifact which I can’t deal with than having a random early guy. If either of them was a knight, to take advantage of my exemplar, it would be a different story.

Here’s how the matches went:

Round 1: vs Mike

Mike starts off aggressively with a Merfolk Spy and Goblin Piker. I play out my Jinxed Idol on turn 2, which is not normally a great idea. However, I have a Roc Egg in my hand for the next turn. He brings out anArc Runner, and smacks me down to 11. I drop my Egg and trade off my idol for a bird token, and he swings in again. I block his Piker and then he Thunder Strikes his goblin. He sacrifices his spy to return my idol. My next play is a Crystal Ball and I promptly die to the Idol.

In this game, playing a turn 2 idol after he played 2 guys was definitely wrong. If I had just played out my Egg and lost it to his trick I would have been in much better shape with my ball.

For game 2 I board out my Solemn Offering (Red-blue usually plays few enchantments, and I saw not artifacts) and my Crystal Ball (which is too slow compared to his aggressive deck). I bring in Unsummon and Celestia Purge, but in retrospect, the Unsummon should’ve been a Palace Guard.

I keep a hand with 3 islands and 4 blue spells, and I resolve a Augury Owl on turn 2. It’s awkward when I see 3 white cards, which I promptly ship to the bottom. I get a turn 3 Cloud Elemental, followed up by a turn 4 Roc Egg. He puts Volcanic Strength onto his Maritime Guard. I happily chump the guard with my Egg and get a bird out of the deal. Over the next few turns he puts out a Manic Vandal, Water Servant and Goblin Piker. However, these are no match for my flying force and I beat him into submission.

In game 3 I mulligan into 5 lands and a Serra Angel. Foolishly, I keep this hand, when against such an aggressive deck going to 5 on the draw was definitely correct. He plays out Maritime guard followed by a Goblin Piker. Things are looking up when he is stuck on 2 land for a few turns, but he is able to Diminish my angel when I block, and his plethora of 2-drops overwhelm me as I continue to draw lands.

0 – 1

Round 2: vs Shane

I start off strong with an Augury Owl and a Scroll Theif. Shane casts a combination of Diminish and Stabbing Pain to kill my thief and I bring out a Crystal Ball. He brings out an Alluring Siren on turn 4 and enchants it with an Unholy Strength. I cast my Jinxed Idol and Squadron Hawk, trading my Hawk for 2 points of damage. Shane gets stuck on 3 lands, and ends up sacrificing his siren to give me back my idol, which goes back again courtesy of my second hawk. We end up continuously trading creatures, and I’m able to gain a combat advantage by having more creatures so that he takes a few damage each turn form my team, and another 2 damage from the idol.

We both mulligan in game 2 and Shane brings out an Augury Owl. I play my own bird in the form of a Squadron Hawk. I bring out the Jinxed Idol, and he starts taking 2 points a turn. He suits his owl up with a Warlords Axe, and my attempt to cast Serra Angel is stifled by his Mana Leak. Without anyway to defend myself from the flyer, I roll over and die.

In game 3 we both have slow starts with my first play being a Roc Egg followed by a Scroll Thief which gets promptly Mana Leaked. I bring out a Cloud Crusader and Cloud Elemental. He casts a Jace Beleren which dies to my fliers in one fell swoop. He Diminishs his Ice Caged Nightwing Shade, which then gets hit by my Celestial Purge. I eventually resolve Angelic Arbiter, which decisively ends the game in my favour.

1 – 1

Round 3: vs Liam

My opponent starts off on the play, with a first-turn Birds of Paradise. I bring out a pair of Squadron Hawks and start to beat in. He attempts to race me by casting an Ornithopter and enchanting it with Unholy Strength. After taking one hit from the thopter I kill it with my Solemn Offering.

Before I continue with the match description, I’d like to say a few words about Ornithopter. When one is new to Magic, Ornithopter seems just awesome, as it’s a flying blocker that is free, and can go in any deck. However, t is virtually impossible to get value out of Ornithopter, whether it be in terms of life or card advantage. In either Limited or Constructed, your opponent’s creatures will simply get bigger than the 0/2 flier, and you’ll wish that you had played something different in it’s place that would have a greater effect on the game. In this game, my opponent opened himself up to major card disadvantage by enchanting the thopter with a pump aura, in an attempt to get value out of it. However, he would have been much better off if he had had a card whose impact would be felt by itself, without the need for an aura. Even had I not had a removal spell, all it would take would be a reasonably powerful flier to blank 2 of his cards, and he’s in the same conundrum as before: unable to gain value out of his Ornithopter. In short: don’t play Ornithopter.

My opponent casts Sign in Blood to refuel his hand and then wastes his Assassinate on one of my hawks. I bring out the JInxed Idol and trade off the last of my hawks to give it to Liam. I play out Scroll Thief and Cloud Elemental to keep up the pressure, and Liam simply doesn’t draw any gas and quickly dies to a combination of my fliers and the idol.

Liam starts game 2 by taking a mulligan to 6, and plays out a turn 1 Elixir of Immortality. This is a card that i’m unsure about, as it does not affect the board in any way, but in the late game it can make your deck more threat-dense, recouping removal spells and creatures that have died. What are your guys experiences with this card? Is it a table-turner or a dud? Let me know what you think in the comments!

I start to assemble my flying armada with Augury Owl and a pair of Squadron Hawks. The Hawks are taken down with a Doom Blade and a Stabbing Pain. I cast Celestial Purge on his Child of NIght and run out a turn-7 Angelic Arbiter, which also meets its death via Doom Blade. I try to break the stalemate with Cloud Crusader but he has a Quag Sickness for that too. Finally, I draw my game-changer and cast White Knight. Followed up with a Knight Exemplar, I’m able to break through and reduce Liam to 0 life.

2 – 1

Round 4: vs Brian

Brian is one of the best local players, and I get paired up against him. He’s also playing a blue-white deck, but with the notable absence of Jinxed Idol and Squadron hawk. In short, the deck I was looking to draft after pack 1. He starts off strong with a turn 2 Blinding Mage, and I reply with my Squadron Hawk. I attempt to cast a Crystal Ball but it gets stopped by Mana Leak. When I cast Ice Cage on his Blinding Mage, it turns out Brian is also packing a maindeck Solemn Offering which means he can keep tapping my fliers. I bring out a Cloud Elemental to increase my beatdown, but he brings out Serra Angel. I manage to kill the Angel with Diminish, but he Mind Controls my elemental and casts Jaces Ingenuity. Unable to draw a relevant spell for multiple turns on end, I lose to his freshly-cast Harbor Serpent which islandwalks me to death.

In game 2 I start with a turn 2 White Knight, and he brings out a Silvercoat Lion. I cast a turn 3 Crystal Ball while Brian misses his third land drop. My turn 4 play is Forsee and Brian casts Wild Griffin. I reply with both a Cloud Elemental and a Squadron Hawk. Brian Foresees, and then casts a Holy Strength (sided in to deal with Ice Cage), on his griffin. I bring out a Cloud Crusader but it pales in comparison to his Harbor Serpent. Just like last time, I lose to the islandwalking monstrosity.

2 – 2

Round 5: vs Blake

We both have lackluster starts with his being a turn 3 Chandras Spitfire, and my first play being a turn 4 Foresee off of a mulligan to 6. He puts out a Whispersilk Cloak and equips his spitfire. I bring out Serra Angel which dies immediately to Doom Blade. I bring out a Scroll Thied and enchant it with Armored Ascension. I put him on a fast clock with my 5 power flier and win out handily in the air, using the Roc Egg/Jinxed Idol as a finisher.

In game 2 I start off with a Squadron Hawk. Blake resolves a turn 2 Ajanis Prdiemate, and I bring out the Jinxed Idol on the following turn, so we continue to trade guys pack and forth. He brings out a Cloud Crusader and sacrifices it to the idol, only to cast Rise from the Grave to reanimate it. He then casts a Chandra Nalaar which spells my defeat when I can’t draw a relevant spell for several turns in a row, staring at the double Solemn Offering in my hand.

Before game 3 I take another gander at my sideboard and realize that I forgot to bring in Celestial Purge. I take out the extra Solemn Offering I had boarded in previously and bring in the removal spell. Make this a note: when sideboarding, look at your entire sideboard, if you leave a card you boarded in previously in a different position, you’re liable to forger

Game 3 is where I make the biggest mistakes of my tournament, but the game starts off alright. I mulligan to 6 and play a turn 2 Augury Owl followed by a Scroll Thief. He plays a Whispersilk Cloak and then Excommunicates my thief. I reply the thied and it dies a fiery death to Chandra Nalaar. I Foresee on my next turn and he replies with a Hoarding Dragon. I Condemn the dragon and then get my Jinxed Idol/Roc Egg combo online. He is forced to sacrifice each creature he plays and then I manage to stick a Crystal Ball to improve my draws. I get in for a fair bit of damage with my bird token before it gets destroyed by a Fireball.

With the Jinxed Idol in play, the power of my Ice Cages and Pacifism is significantly reduced, but I end up needing to cast them to make him sacrifice them to the idol, with me just able to keep alive at 9 life. he has double Siege Mastodon and I have Squadron Hawks and my Knight Exemplar. With him at 10 life, I start to race with my fliers, with the notion that every pair of hawk hits I get in is another turn knocked off of the Jinxed Idol clock. However, this ends up being my undoing, as I attack with one Hawk while i’m sitting at 5 life, without realizing that he still can get in for 3 damage from an unblocked Mastodon as well as 2 from the Idol that he can give to me. Had I played differently, I would have been able to resolve Angelic Arbiter and Pacifism, which were sitting in my hand, drawn off of a Jaces Ingenuity. My notes don’t precisely describe the game state at that time ,but all I do know is that I had game if had blocked with both my Hawks.

Final Record: 2 – 3

On Jinxed Idol
This card was one that played a major role in the day, killing my opponent’s 3 separate times, and being responsible for my own demise in 2 games (I kept track on the card itself with black and red Sharpie). One mistake I made was playing it in a control style deck. This card wants to be played in an aggressive deck so that you can either pave the way for your early drops or just deal continuous amounts of damage. In order for this card to be effective, you have to be in the drivers seat, you have to be the one deciding where the game is going. Otherwise your own card will be your undoing. I want to try this card out in standard in a deck with Bloodghast for some constant damage, not only because it would be fun, but because it would allow me to put more black and red notches on my idol. Final Verdict: Jinxed Idol is a potent card, but one that should be used in a deck that absolutely warrants it. I think this deck would ideally be green-white with both the Roc Egg and Squadron Hawk interactions.

One of the things that I made sure to do about that day was to not get down on myself, quit magic, or blame bad luck. Because our game was the longest running, I talked with no less than 4 different people about how I could have played my games better. This is crucial if one is to become better at Magic, because learning from your mistakes can be much more valuable than winning all the time.

I believe it was Gerry Thompson who said something along the lines of “There are a lot of people in Magic who could really benefit from getting a good ass-kicking”. The joke was that there were maybe 7 people who this would not apply to, but I believe that everyone does need to lose really badly sometimes so that we can reevaluate how we’re playing and thinking about the game. Note that I’m not advocating punting matches for a learning experience, but if you happen to do so, try and salvage what you can from the experience.

I fully admit I made some bad plays, kept some bad hands, and played relatively poor Magic over the day, but I resolved to play more, play better, and play smarter. I’m going camping for the next 2 weekends so I’ll most likely only have a couple gams of casual here or there before returning to the tournament scene with a vengeance in early August.

As always, any comments or questions or future article suggestions can be brought to my attention in the comments field below, via email at zak -AT- power9pro.com or through my twitter at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Until next time, Cheers,

Zak

Top Picks in Rise of the Eldrazi Draft

The Prerelease was very eventful. I started with draft, and first picked Joraga Treespeaker because to me green seems like the most powerful color in Eldrazi limited. My second pick was Ondu Giant, and once third pick came around I knew it was a Prerelease: Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre was in the back of my pack. From there I got a few Smite, an Oust and Guard Duty to combat the Eldrazi. I ended with two Skittering Invasion, Artisan of Kozilek, a bunch more ramp in the form of two Overgrown Battlement, two Joraga Treespeaker and Growth Spasm. My back up plan, if I wasn’t ramping into a turn 4 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre was just beat down. Dawnglare Invoker and Wildheart Invoker were absolutely ridiculous. Needless to say I went undefeated in four rounds of swiss.

What I took from the draft were top five picks for commons and uncommons in each color:

White:

1. Dawnglare Invoker

2. Knight of Cliffhaven

3. Oust

4. Kabira Vindicator

5. Guard Duty

Dawnglare Invoker breaks through stalemates, flies, and makes an aggressive strategy viable. It is how you can stop those blasted Eldrazi from attacking with Annihilator, and making the green decks unable to ramp with Joraga Treespeaker and Overgrown Battlement, so tap them down during their upkeep. I honestly feel that Dawnglare Invoker might be the most important limited card in this format.

Knight of Cliffhaven is the best aggressive creature in white. You could probably make an argument for Caravan Escort, which I might switch out for later down the road, but I have a feeling that Knight of Ciffhaven flying over early turn walls, and being out of Last Kiss and Staggershock range is more important.

Oust is amazing at dealing with Eldrazi, fully leveled creatures, early ramp creatures, creatures with Totem armor on them, and pretty much everything. It is the best soft removal white has, and might edge up to second place down the road.

Kabira Vindicator has a huge toughness, and makes your Eldrazi spawn relevant attackers. He sits out of Flame Slash range very quickly, and hard even to kill with Induce Despair.

Guard Duty is an interesting choice for top 5 but I think if you don’t have an answer for an Eldrazi you should pretty much scoop em up. It does combo well with Grotag Seige-Runner, which is kind of cool.

Smite and Hyena Umbra are both honorable mentions. Perhaps even Demystify as there are a lot of important enchantments.

Blue:

1. Regress

2. Enclave Cryptologist

3. Narcolepsy

4. See Beyond

5. Domestication

Regress is tempo setter, combat trick, Totem armor disruptor, level resetter, and a catch all card for blue. It’s 2U casting cost is easily splashable and a great first pick for blue.

Enclave Cryptologist is a looter in a bomb oriented format, with “haste” on turn two after playing her on turn one. She eventually becomes a straight up Archivist and is incredibly powerful. Also fairly easy to splash as you only really need one island.

Narcolepsy is an answer to an Eldrazi hitting board. Also punishes Totem armor on creatures, and all around locks a creature out of the game.

See Beyond is like a looter effect but allows you to shuffle your unwanted Eldrazi spells in the early hand back into the library for later use. It helps dig to your key spells, which blue will usually be a support color due it’s weak creatures and spells.

The only reason Domestication is in over Hada Spy Patrol is because it needs an answer for Dawnglare Invoker. The power of Dawnglare Invoker is really that large.

An honorable mention is Sea Gate Oracle, as he might be better than See Beyond in certain decks, but probably not most.

Black:

1. Nirkana Cutthroat

2. Induce Despair

3. Vendetta

4. Suffer the Past

5. Bloodrite Invoker

Black is a difficult color to rank due to its tremendously underpowered spells. It has a couple good removal pieces, but really lacks in good creatures. It mainly excels in its bombs at rare/mythic rare status. Nirkana Cutthroat is the most  efficient black creature the color has. Probably the next creatures in line are Zof Shade and Null Champion which isn’t saying much. It isn’t bogged down by big walls due to it’s Deathtouch, and it can trade with big ol’ Eldrazi when it is on defense.

Induce Despair is a bit situational due to the creature needing to be in the hand clause. With an Eldrazi in your hand, it doesn’t make it such dead weight. Also, it gets around Totem armor by giving the creature -X/-X instead of dealing damage.

Vendetta is good at killing little creatures at instant speed in response to leveling or even Totem armor. It might not be better than Induce Despair the more I play, but I like where it is positioned right now.

Suffer the Past is an interesting variant on X spells. It can certainly end games pretty quickly, and at instant speed to boot. Right now I like this card a lot, but it may drop over time, I’m slightly on the fence, but I like it a lot.

Bloodrite Invoker is an invoker that ends the game very quickly. Like most invokers, they are great in stalemates.

Black isn’t a very deep color at all, with very little variance in their spells and not a lot of tricks, just rares that are very color specific and incredibly powerful.

Red:

1. Flame Slash

2. Staggershock

3. Brimstone Mage

4. Heat Ray

5. Traitorous Instinct

Flame Slash kills nearly everything in the format. I like Staggershock as a burn spell a lot too, but I think what it doesn’t kill is really annoying, although both are tremendously powerful. Staggershock can hit players where Flame Slash cannot. Creatures have bigger butts in this format.

Brimstone Mage is a tank. He gains a formidable power and toughness, and decimates creatures and opponents. He might be the best pinger of all time.

Heat Ray with a lot of mana can kill nearly any creature at instant speed. It also deals with bigger Eldrazi later in the game. It can be nearly any size and doesn’t take a lot of red mana investment. Very splashable.

Traitorous Instinct grabs Eldrazi, and clears the way of blockers. It is a Threaten that can put some serious pressure on the opponent. I like it a lot.

Green:

1. Joraga Treespeaker

2. Beastbreaker of Bala Ged

3. Pelakka Wurm

4. Wildheart Invoker

5. Kozileks Predator

Joraga Treespeaker ramps you so incredibly quickly, and you never even have to level it past the first level. The way it comes down on turn one and recycles the level investment you put into it the next turn by producing GG is remarkable. Five mana on turn three with only one spell played. The beauty of levelers.

Beastbreaker of Bala Ged is aggression and efficiency all in one. Tramplers are important in a format of chump blocking. Also, being able to dish out four damage to terminate walls is incredible.

Pelakka Wurm is a tremendous creature, with usefulness after usefulness. The 7 life and the 7/7 body gives you a great stabilizing card. The trample gives you aggression. The card lets dig to more spells after it hits the graveyard. It is the dream wurm for green.

Wildheart Invoker makes creatures into huge attackers with trample. They way he breaks stalemates is phenomenal. Even a lousy Eldrazi spawn can become a 5/6 trampler. A four mana, 4/3 is also nothing to scoff at. Wildheart Invoker is astounding for green to punish the opponent with.

Kozileks Predator makes two additional eldrazi spawn tokens when he enters, which allows for ramping, and blocking. The beauty of him is he is a 3/3, so he is fairly aggressive, and he creates board presence very early.

Rise of Eldrazi is an interesting draft format for sure, but unfortunately it isn’t very exciting. I can’t wait for M11 now. After a few drafts I feel like certain colors have little to no depth, and others just have everything. Also, losing to an invoker is probably the most common death.

Happy earth day!

Tales from the Rise of the Eldrazi Prerelease

Well, another prerelease has come and gone, and we’ve all got our hands full of Rise of the Eldrazi. I was participating in a conference on water and sustainable development over the weekend, but I arrived back in Edmonton to make a draft flight or two.

Rise of the Eldrazi limited is something that’s quite different than the vast majority of limited environments, with a strong emphasis on massive creatures in the late game. However, these titans are not the only cards which determine how 40-card decks fair, there are levelers and aura which can easily swing the tide of the game.

For example, consider this deck I drafted:

So this deck has some really great things going for it. Most obviously we have bombs in the form of the board sweeper All is Dust and Deathless Angel. We also have 3 of (in my opinion) one of the best Eldrazi in limited: Ulamogs Crusher. As an additional win condition, we have Dawnglare Invoker, which will pretty much kill your opponent if it doesn’t get removed. Unlike the other members of the new Invoker cycle, this one has a much more drastic effect on the board.

During the mid-game, we have a pair of the always-awesome Wall of Omens, as well as a pair of Knight of Cliffhaven. This will hopefully allow us to make some early drops, and then effectively use our mana to follow through for the following turns with effective midrange drops. If all goes according to plan, we should be able to drop a win condition relatively easily.

One thing I’d like to address is the 19-land manabase. I had people at the launch party saying that it was a ridiculous call, and that it would be ineffective. However, I must tell you that the above deck would never have worked without the ability to consistently hit your land drops. The one or two turns i’ll draw an extra land are mitigated by the fact that I can almost assuredly win out with this deck in the late game.

Here’s how the deck faired:

Round 1: vs Steven

Steven is a player who just starting coming to Wizard’s comics, and he’s been a great addition to the crowd of local regulars. In game 1 he drops double Sporecap Spider with an Ogres Cleaver. However, I have a Wall of Blossoms and a Kabira Vindicator which levels up fully. This lets me stall enough to force Steven to overextend, and I happily cast All is Dust to reset the board. An Ulamogs Crusher just gets there over the next few turns.

In game 2 I drop a pair of Dawnglare Invoker and follow them up with a Knight of Cliffhaven. I get to 8 mana, and just tap his team every turn to allow me to attack through his army of Cleaver-wielding Spiders with my creatures.

1 – 0

Round 2: vs Atilla

Atilla starts the first game with a few walls including Vent Sentinel and Battle Rampart. I drop a Kight of Cliffhaven but his progress is halted by a Rage Nimbus. I resolve Deathless Angel and Atilla has the double Flame Spike. Again, I force Atilla to overextend into my All is Dust, and I use a Hand of Emrakul to lock up the game.

Game 2 involves us trading creatures and removal spells for the first while, but I’m able to resolve a Ulamogs Crusher and whittle his permanents down and kill him.

2 – 0

Round 3: vs Matt

It’s 8pm and I have a 7am class the next day, so we agree to draw. After this arrangement, Matt says that my deck was probably better than his.

2 – 0 – 1

So I go home with 4 packs of Rise and the sexy new plastic box for cards, although its still no Dragon’s Egg. I also got to judge the last couple drafts, which is awesome practice for when I finally am able to get my level 1 certification.

This deck was extremely powerful, and I can easily see the 8/8 eldrazi for 8 becoming picked much higher (I got them as late as 5th pick) due to the awesomeness it brings to the table. As well, [card[Dawnglare Invoker[/card] should not be underestimated by any means, because it can stave off entire armies of creatures. I believe that Red/White is an excellent draft archetype because of the removal and efficient creatures it gives you, and I hope to draft a similar deck this Friday at the Rise of the Eldrzai Launch Party.

As always, feel free to contact me via email (zak -AT- power9pro.com) or through my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Until next time, Cheers, and have fun opening some Rise!

Tales from the Rise of the Eldrazi Prerelease

Well, another prerelease has come and gone, and we’ve all got our hands full of Rise of the Eldrazi. I was participating in a conference on water and sustainable development over the weekend, but I arrived back in Edmonton to make a draft flight or two.

Rise of the Eldrazi limited is something that’s quite different than the vast majority of limited environments, with a strong emphasis on massive creatures in the late game. However, these titans are not the only cards which determine how 40-card decks fair, there are levelers and aura which can easily swing the tide of the game.

For example, consider this deck I drafted:

So this deck has some really great things going for it. Most obviously we have bombs in the form of the board sweeper All is Dust and Deathless Angel. We also have 3 of (in my opinion) one of the best Eldrazi in limited: Ulamogs Crusher. As an additional win condition, we have Dawnglare Invoker, which will pretty much kill your opponent if it doesn’t get removed. Unlike the other members of the new Invoker cycle, this one has a much more drastic effect on the board.

During the mid-game, we have a pair of the always-awesome Wall of Omens, as well as a pair of Knight of Cliffhaven. This will hopefully allow us to make some early drops, and then effectively use our mana to follow through for the following turns with effective midrange drops. If all goes according to plan, we should be able to drop a win condition relatively easily.

One thing I’d like to address is the 19-land manabase. I had people at the launch party saying that it was a ridiculous call, and that it would be ineffective. However, I must tell you that the above deck would never have worked without the ability to consistently hit your land drops. The one or two turns i’ll draw an extra land are mitigated by the fact that I can almost assuredly win out with this deck in the late game.

Here’s how the deck faired:

Round 1: vs Steven

Steven is a player who just starting coming to Wizard’s comics, and he’s been a great addition to the crowd of local regulars. In game 1 he drops double Sporecap Spider with an Ogres Cleaver. However, I have a Wall of Blossoms and a Kabira Vindicator which levels up fully. This lets me stall enough to force Steven to overextend, and I happily cast All is Dust to reset the board. An Ulamogs Crusher just gets there over the next few turns.

In game 2 I drop a pair of Dawnglare Invoker and follow them up with a Knight of Cliffhaven. I get to 8 mana, and just tap his team every turn to allow me to attack through his army of Cleaver-wielding Spiders with my creatures.

1 – 0

Round 2: vs Atilla

Atilla starts the first game with a few walls including Vent Sentinel and Battle Rampart. I drop a Kight of Cliffhaven but his progress is halted by a Rage Nimbus. I resolve Deathless Angel and Atilla has the double Flame Spike. Again, I force Atilla to overextend into my All is Dust, and I use a Hand of Emrakul to lock up the game.

Game 2 involves us trading creatures and removal spells for the first while, but I’m able to resolve a Ulamogs Crusher and whittle his permanents down and kill him.

2 – 0

Round 3: vs Matt

It’s 8pm and I have a 7am class the next day, so we agree to draw. After this arrangement, Matt says that my deck was probably better than his.

2 – 0 – 1

So I go home with 4 packs of Rise and the sexy new plastic box for cards, although its still no Dragon’s Egg. I also got to judge the last couple drafts, which is awesome practice for when I finally am able to get my level 1 certification.

This deck was extremely powerful, and I can easily see the 8/8 eldrazi for 8 becoming picked much higher (I got them as late as 5th pick) due to the awesomeness it brings to the table. As well, [card[Dawnglare Invoker[/card] should not be underestimated by any means, because it can stave off entire armies of creatures. I believe that Red/White is an excellent draft archetype because of the removal and efficient creatures it gives you, and I hope to draft a similar deck this Friday at the Rise of the Eldrzai Launch Party.

As always, feel free to contact me via email (zak -AT- power9pro.com) or through my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Until next time, Cheers, and have fun opening some Rise!

Undiscovered Treasure: A Complete Worldwake Review

So what happened is that I wrote up my review yesterday for my local playgroup and thought, “Hey, James might like this”  But my style is a little different and I’m not as deep into the analysis as his excellent white review is.   We talked and instead of integrating my thoughts into his review, I’d just publish mine.

In short, my opinion on the set as a whole is a little lukewarm.  I’m the guy who likes to buy x4 of everything, and this time I think I’ll sit it out as I see a lot of “jump through the flaming hoop” cards that Johnny’s like, and some EDH goodness.  Most of the cards I want I either picked up (Jace) or I don’t see them going up in price too much.  In the long run, when the set rotates out, the cards will depress.  I’m of the feeling that it will be easy to trade extra fetches (just an example) for almost anything I want out of this set.

I also evaluate for draft by default.  In that respect I think draft is about to become a bit more organic, as all the speedster cards get replaced by fatter guys, defensive guys, and better flyers.

Anyways, I haven’t done a set evaluation in a while, so sorry if it’s a little scattered.  I  do evaluation on a couple different levels so I’ll break it down by category.

Chase – A chase card is usually a premier, high value rare. Chase doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a must own, sometimes the card is just too expensive or it’s very specific to the environment that’s its being played in.  But you should know what they are, and why they demand that value.

Ex. Jace, The Mind Sculptor, Thoughtsieze, Baneslayer Angel, Tarmogoyf

Staple – A staple card are generally “must own” x4 copy.  These can be any rarity, and you’ll see these over and over again in the course of the format.  The difference from these and “evergreen” cards is that you’ll see them drop in value as they rotate out, or they’re roleplayers for a certain type of deck or format.  Sometimes, because of mana cost or ability they might be good, they won’t be relevant to every deck.

Ex.  Rampant Growth, Duress, Bloodbraid Elf, Honor of the Pure, Blightning, Tri-lands, Duals, Fetch Lands.

Staple – Evergreen – I think I’m the only person I know who uses this term – – The best example I can give  off the top of my head of a “staple” vs. an “evergreen” is Elvish Archdruid vs. Great Sable Stag.  Archdruid is a great card, but he fits a role in a particular deck type.  GSS is almost always a good deal – he’ll be a staple, a roleplayer, sure, but he’ll definitely go into any almost any  green deck, as opposed to having you have to build around him.

Evergreens provide resources to multiple deck types in casual play, multiplayer, EDH and competitive.

Ex. , Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Acidic Slime, Tri-lands, Duals, Fetch Lands.

Role player – These cards are decent, but only in certain archtypes.  I generally advise newer players to stay away from these cards unless you’re a Johnny and get the sense that you want to break it in half.

Ex.  Megrim, Traumatize

Bomb (Draft only) In a Draft, bombs are usually first picks out a pack, they’ll have a huge effect on the game if they resolve, and will almost always win you the game unless your opponent has an answer.

Ex. Fireball, Hellkite Charger, Marsh Casualities

To keep the review as easy to read as possible I’ve just linked the spoiler here.  I’m not going to clutter up the review with all the stats unless it’s appropriate.  http://mtgsalvation.com/worldwake-spoiler.html

***White***

Admonition Angel – Draft Bomb, Role Player

The four big flying fatties seeing play in standard are Sphinx of Jhar Isle, Baneslayer, Malakir Bloodwitch, to some extent Broodmate Dragon.  Sphinx and Broodmate are decent because their mostly immune to removal, and Baneslayer is too good not to play.  Malakir is immune to most removal, gains you life, and can block Baneslayer.  Any new entry into the “flying finishers” gets compared to them.  While Angel is bigger, it’s slower and very vulnerable.  In draft though, very little can deal with it.

Apex Hawk

You expect a 2/2 flyer for 3 casting cost.  And a 3/3 flyer for 5 is par as well.   Decent draft pick

Archon of Redemption – Role player

Same issue as Angel above but he’s got under average stats for his cost.  He’s begging you to build a deck around him.  I’d actually play Serra Angel over this.  Gaining life is overrated, AND you have to jump through some hoops to really get value.

Battle Hurda

Pretty boring., kind of lower pick draft card.  There’s enough x/4′s  that he won’t matter as much.

Fledging Griffin

Solid draft pick, very fair.

Guardian Zendikon

Well now we have some defense in draft. Too bad he doesn’t fly.

Hada Freeblade – Role player

If Allies becomes a standard deck, this guy will be in it.

Iona’s Judgement.

It’s removal.

Join The Ranks – Role player

See Hada Freeblade

Kitesail Apprentice

Pretty bad.  Duelist is better and didn’t get played all that much- Compare this to Skyfisher!

Kor Firewalker – Staple – Evergreen

Huge card that really really hurts mono-red.  And it’s a soldier. The gain life ability just puts it over the top.

Lightkeeper of Emeria

I actually prefer this card in draft to the archon above. It doesn’t really ask you to play other cards to make it better,  It’s got decent stats even as a 2/4 with no kick, since it comes out early to play defense, and if you draw it late, the life gain will help out.

Loam Lion – Staple

This is weird, because it might see play in extended zoo but white green isn’t the best deck in standard right now.  Amazing statistics for its cost, just like Kird Ape.

Marsh Threader

Cliff Threader’s good, so I would guess this is.

Marshal’s Anthem  – Role Player

I like this card.  Resurrection was never bad, and neither was Glorious Anthem. I think it’s a little under the radar but it’s good in control, and it’s pretty huge in EDH.  It’s probably too expensive for tournament constructed in multiples which is why it’s so low in cost.   I’d probably pick it for draft though.

Perimeter Captain

Third in the list of “red black aggro just doesn’t want to see this card in draft”

Refraction Trap – Role player

This is a huge card in draft, and may see play in standard.  Note that it protects planeswalkers, which harm’s way doesn’t do.

Rest for the Weary

Like Sunspring expedition, it’s a Decent Sideboard card for the aggro matchup in draft.

Ruin Ghost – Role Player

There’s an infinite combo with this and some other cards on the forums,  He’s got bad stats, but yeah, sometimes you want lands to come in multiple times.

Stone Forge Mystic – Role Player

Yep, someone’s gonna make a kor deck with him.  Bad stats otherwise.

Talus Paladin – Role player

This is a big swing in Allies and may push that deck over the top.

Terra Eternal

Makes your man lands INDESTRUCTIBLE!  And that’s it.  Now you youngsters will have that special feeling you only get when you open an animate wall as your rare.

Veteran’s reflexes Bleh.

***Blue***

Aether Tradewinds

Solid Utility Common.  Like Narrow Escape, it wants you to play permanents with comes into play abilities (Halimar depths! ), and it slows down your opponent.  Worst case scenario, in the early game you can put an opponent’s land back in their hand.  Boomerang has been a tournament staple, maybe this card has a place.

Calcite Snapper

Another common that owns the speed deck in draft, and it can bash for four if you like.  And shroud.  Tournament level, possibly, because of that last ability.

Dispel

Wizards just hates hard counters, this is another bad counterspell I’m just going to ignore.

Enclave Elite

Slightly worse than Apex Hawk in draft, but no slouch.  Blue usually doesn’t get fatties with no drawback.

Goliath Sphinx

<Hork>

Halimar Excavator

Woo Ally mill deck.  We continue the theme of decent defensive stats again, that 1/3 ass for 2 is no joke.

Horizon Drake

Sure!  3 power flying for 3 is great.  The ability might even be relevant.

Jace the Mind Sculptor – Chase Rare.

It’s good. The pros have already been sleeving and playing it.  Brainstorm is no joke.  And that ultimate is a 40 cal straight to the noggin.  You don’t walk away from that.

Jwari Shapeshifter – Role player

Basically, you’re either playing allies and want this card, or you don’t care.  It’s really good for that deck of course.

Mysteries of the Deep

Instant Speed Card draw is pretty clutch.  It’s expensive, but Blue Mages hate to tap out.  Not sure if this will see play over Mind Spring in standard but it seems okay.

Permafrost trap

I’m sure this is decent, but I’m not first picking it in draft.

Quest for Ula’s Temple

I actually have a deck for this.  The other 8 million magic players out there?  Out of luck.

Sejiri Merfolk – Staple?

Seems pretty strong for the cost.  Great draft pick for those colors

Selective Memory  – Role player

We’ve seen cards like this before, someone always figures out a way to break them.  I still don’t feel good opening this in a pack.

Spell Contortion.

Fairly costed, if it was costed any other way it would be a must play staple.  This is sort of fair.  I think people are still locked in on Flashfreeze as THE counterspell, will take a white or blue deck actually winning more for them to start considering other stuff.  I like it though.

Surrakar Banisher

This is no veldakin dismisser, but its got a decent body.

Thada Adel, Acquistor

Definitely in EDH.  If it were 2/2 for two it might see play in legacy.  It’s playable, but how many artifacts are in play in standard?  May be really good in Rise?

Tideforce Elemental

I think this is part of the combo with Ruin Ghost.   First pick in draft too.

Treasure Hunt – Staple – Evergreen

This is a huge card for blue.  The math has been done and the long and short of it is that you get 1.75 cards for 2 mana.  If you can manipulate the library (halimar depths and jace) then you always get more bang than divination.   Also, you always, always draw a spell.

Twitch

This is a reprint.  Can’t really complain too much.

Vapor Snare

Pretty bomby.  Mind Control is always good.

Voyager Drake

Great stats, great ability, great first pick.

Wind Zendikon

Another huge card for blue.  2/2 flyer for 1 with a minor draw back (you slow yourself down a bit to get aggro).   It’s a great card without a deck right now.

***Black***

Abyssal Persecutor  – Chase

I’m on the fence on this guy.  I like him, but not enough to shell out a twenty for him, then build a possibly weaker deck around him.  His price is leveraged around the fact that he is a solid mythic in a mostly bad set.  The black deck in standard is Vampires, and this is based on it’s synergy, and he doesn’t contribute to that at all.

Agadeem Occultist

Another weird rare. He’s pretty good in Allies, but not in constructed, since you have no idea what’s going to be in a graveyard.  Bad stats for his cost too.

Anowon, the Ruin Sage.

He just HAD to be 4/3.  Malakir Bloodwitch is so much better than this, and that’s a low cost rare.  He could have been 4/4 and relevant.  I don’t see what’s wrong with abyss in standard, I really don’t.  He’s legendary, too.  People might try and play him, and he’s just going to feel clunky.

Bloodhusk Ritualist.

The question posed earlier was “Is this better than Mind Sludge?”  Short answer: No.

Mind Sludge just ends games.  Ritualist is probably best in an edh or casual deck, but ultimately you’re paying for a 2/2 for 3, which isn’t that great.  Decent in Draft though, another solid 2 or 3 for 1.

Bojuka Brigand (why I do I feel like we’re back in Betrayers of Kamigawa land?)

The ability to block is fairly irrelevant anyway – I think black allies will rally around growers like him and the sellsword to get past all the fat blockers.  And coming out a couple turns faster is worth it.  Sick card.

Brink of Disaster

It’s removal, and it kills land, which is pretty relevant.  Not a Befoul though.

Butcher of Malakir – Bomb

A little highly costed for standard, but it does wreck some of those shroud strategies.

For draft, I suspect ZZW will be a bit slower, so this can make an impact.

Caustic Crawler

Meh.  I’d rather play shatterskull giant (which just got a lot better by the way) 4 is a much more relevant power now though.

Corrupted Zendikon.

3/3 for 2 casting cost in black is aggressive.  I can dig it.

Dead Reckoning

Huge draft masher two for one.  Might be good in standard where you want to get value back when you get hit by blightnings  – Grim Discovery saw play for that same reason.

Death’s Shadow – Role player.

Meh. Though you can search for it with Ranger of Eos

Jagwasp Swarm

Playable draft pick.  Like I said I think flyers and evasion is better now.

Kalastria Highborn.

Some people will love this card.  The question is whether it’s better to play than Hexmage in the vampires slot.   For the moment, I don’t think so.   If you have a deck for this guy, that’s great.  He’s slightly better in casual though, which I think is why his price is up.  He’ll go down over the long run I bet.   He’s no Rotlung Reanimator.

Mire’s Toll

There was a card in standard called blackmail which was 3 cards for B, and it was pretty bad. You want to play discard early, not late.

Nemesis Trap – Staple

This is Broken Visage as an uncommon. This a great card, fun to wreck people with, and will could see play in standard to 187 those baneslayers.

Pulse Tracker

I sort of like this card as 1 drop vampire, and a rogue, and he does an extra damage.  He quickly becomes irrelevant when someone drops a blocker, but he can still do duty as a vampire for you.

Quag Vampires

Same deal as Apex Hawk and the Merfolk.  Not as good as either but swampwalk is relevant.  If you’re playing swamps you can at least hate it so you don’t get killed by it.

Quest for the Nihil Stone  – Role Player

Except this one is actually really good!  Five life is pretty huge, and there’s some great discard out there.  This is totally under the radar right now (1 dollar on SCG), and I suspect it will jump up once someone breaks it.

Ruthess Cullblade

Ok draft pick.  He’s a vampire, decent stats, and an okay ability.  But in Standard he’s competing with Hexmage again.

Scrib Nibblers

What’s to say?  He’s got a mill ability, and can maybe gain you life.  Sucks in combat for his cost though.

Shoreline Salvager.

Good Stats for his cost in draft, and the ability is no slouch.

Smother – Staple

Another proven reprint that just rotated out of extended.  Now it’s back and extended players will be happy.  No slouch in standard either.

Tomb Hex

I like. Solid removal in draft.

Urge to kill

WOW does black get a lot of stuff that kills stuff. And yeah, it’s good for vampires.  Vampire players do a little dance.  Again.  Yawn.

***Red***

Akoum Battlesinger

I can imagine this scene, where wizards is sending a memo around to all the colors that they should slow down a bit, and of course Red got the memo, didn’t bother reading past the first sentence, and decided to wing it.   Red’s just gonna keep aggroing it out, like that loud drunk guy at the party that’s making everyone uncomfortable.

Ummm. yeah, not the best card unless you’re committed to mashing with allies.

Bazaar Trader

Wut?  It can’t even give away an Illusions of Grandeur.

Wizards fell down, least they could do is give us the other half the combo piece…

Donating the demon is the best I can come up with.

Bull Rush

RAAARRRRREEDDGHKAGHTG!!!

Chain Reaction

This is pretty good for red.  Not Earthquake good, though. Much more of a Multiplayer Wrath.  Phone this rare right into your EDH deck.

Claws of Valkut

RAAAAAAA…..It’s lightning Talons, basically.  But not always as good.

Comet Storm – Bomb, Staple – Evergreen

Solid red Bomb.  Instant is huge.   For standard it’s weighed against cascade, but it’s  fantastic card for casual and draft.

Cosi’s Ravager

Not particularly great.   It’s not as good as hellhound, though I guess with land tricks it can do a few extra points. Maybe there’s a combo deck in him.

Crusher Zendikon

Unlike the Black and Blue Zendikon, this guy doesn’t have good stats for his cost. Draft playable, since that 4 power is more important.

Cunning Sparkmage

Solid draft pick

Death Forge Shaman

I thought he was good, then I realized the damage is only to target PLAYER.  Well he’s a body.  If you have 8 mana he’s pretty nasty.

Dragonmaster Outcast – Chase

He makes dragons.  He’s fetchable with Ranger of Eos.  He takes a turn longer to smash face than with  scute mob, but he makes flyers.  Multiples of flyers.  He makes DRAGONS.

Goblin Roughrider

Sure.

Grotag Goblin Thrasher

Good stats for the cost, and this is about as close as you’re going to get to evasion in red for that casting cost in draft.

Kazul, Tyrant of the Cliffs – Bomb

Everything that Anawon the ruin sage isn’t, except he’s not a vampire.

Mordant Dragon – Bomb

Same issue as Admonition Angel for his cost in standard.  In draft he’s a slightly worse flameblast dragon.

Quest for the Goblin Lord –Role player

Now that’s cute, cheap, and easy to pull off.  Siege Gang Commander anyone?

Ricochet Trap

Wizards keeps making deflect/swerve variants and they keep sucking in draft and ride the margins in standard.

Roiling Terrain

This is interesting but expensive.  The card this compares to is molten rain, but it’s not as good.  Against some decks it’ll just whiff on the damage.  But then lands are better now…

Rumbling Aftershocks

Meh.  Kind of hard to build around it in your last pack.

Searing Blaze – Staple

It’s kinda like lash out, but worse.  But red loves two for ones, and red has lots of ways to make land fall happen.

Skitter of Lizards!

ARARARRARARAGAGGHHH!   Solid beats. Early game it’s a goblin chariot, late game it’s a tuktuk, whatever you like.

Slavering Nulls

Decent stats, it’s a zombie goblin, and it has a discard effect.  I miss that red/black deck… could it be back now?

Stone Idol Trap

Kills an attacker, swings in for 6 (probably)  But is it a staple, really?  I really can’t say.  Seems good, but what do you take out?

Tuktuk Scrapper

Crappy body (like most of the allies) but the artifact ability is pretty nasty.

***Green***

Arbor Elf  - Staple

It’s llanowar elf, with the possibility that you might whiff if you don’t have an actual forest in play (you have savage lands/oran rief etc out) But it’s still probably good.

Avenger of Zendikar – Bomb

Pretty cute, and fun in casual to.   Someone’s going enjoy killing with plants, I’m sure.

Bestial Menace – Staple

Flores already called it in Eldrazi green. Any deck that makes tokens.  Think Cloudgoat ranger.  Except you hit for nine.  It’s fairly bomby in draft.  If you were to get that by p/t paying “fair” it would cost you 7.

Canopy Cover

Funny,  I was just talking about how elves needed a silhana ledgewalker…  dunno if it will see play, but seems like a good draft pick. Think Whispersilk cloak

Explore – Staple

Better than rampant growth.  Great flip over in cascade decks especially.

Feral Contest

Another awkward green attempt at stall-breaking.

Gnarlid Pack

Bear, or Hill Giant, or better, it’s all good.  Solid draft beater.

“Back in my day, we played Kickered Grizzly Bears, and we called it Kavu Titan, and we lit in on fire so it had  haste.  I remember those days… ”

Grappler Spider.

Eh.

Graypelt Hunter

So it’s Nimana Sellsword with Trample?   Sold!

Groundswell – Staple

Might of Old Krosa, I missed you.

Harabaz Druid

Could be interesting.  Again, I’m not all that interested in Allies.dec

Joraga warcaller – Staple

It’s a great finisher in Elves, and you’ve got the mana and ways to put on counters.  If you’re playing elves, you should pick this up.

Leatherback Baloth – Role Player

Same issue as always – Straight green always runs into problems. It has no tricks, no card advantage, and no reach (the ability to finish the game with a random top deck or through a stall).  And elves is usually better  because of it’s synergy. But people are gonna pick it up and play it, and Wizards will promote it, and will rotate out, and no one will care.

Nature’s Claim

Nothing wrong with this, it’s a solid card, but not even naturalize is seeing play right now.

Omnath, Locus of Mana – Chase

Debatable on its power level, I think it’s a great general and someone’s likely to break it.  It’s a tempo choice – you invest in the attack at the cost of progression on the board – but Omnath is an insane late game top deck.

Quest for Renewal

Seems strong, especially in casual Multiplayer

Slingbow Trap – Role Player

It’s targeted green removal, and will have targets in draft.  I think windstorm is the sideboard card for this in standard.

Snapping Creeper

Good stats, will probably have vigilance.  Just another guy that slows down the board.

Strength of the Tajuru – Bomb

Nice finisher there – see the comet storm chart for stats.  Oh yeah, and combos with Warcaller.

Summit Apes

Huge beater in draft.  Might be too fragile for constructed… Someone’s gonna try it though.  Might be really good.

Terastadon

Blow up your own lands and get 18 power for 8 mana.  Or just play crush of wurms.
Blow up their lands and they get stuff.  I dunno.  EDH, but kinda dull.

Vastwood Animist

Another good ally card with bad stats

Vastwood Zendikon

Craw Wurm was usually good, except this attacks a turn early. Pretty saucy.

Wolfbriar Elemental –Staple – Evergreen

Pretty solid beater.  Decent stats on his own and late game drops some extra threats. Might not be standard worthy but he’s still really good overall.

***Multicolor***

Novablast Wurm – Bomb

It’s almost like Wizards designed EDH just so we could have a place to play big fatties like this.  I dunno, we’ve got acceleration, and this blows up stuff.  While it’s still pretty slow for standard, this is a great effect to have.

Wrexial, the Risen Deep – Bomb

Made for EDH again.  He’s got a great toughness, is immune to terror, and has evasion.  His ability isn’t that relevant to standard, but casual, OMG he’s got targets.

***Artifacts***

Amulet of Vigor

I really can’t comment on Amulet of Vigor without bias.  At this point I’m a bit sick of yet another “jump through the deck design hoop”  rare.   I don’t have the mental fortitude to start looking for all the CIPT permanents in standard and extended and casual that this might go with.  It’s just exhausting.  Let the Johnny’s have their cake, I’ll just do what I usually do – wait til someone figures out how to break it then lamely shell out for an overpriced rare.  …or I could just play nature’s claim on it and let you play with a slow deck.

Basilisk Collar – Bomb

There’s a Kor deck. This card isn’t good enough for it, since you never want to attack with Armament Master.  But re-usable deathtouch is sick in draft.

Everflowing Chalice – Staple – Evergreen

Turn 2 chalice for 1, turn turn 3 chalice for 2, turn 4 do fun things with 6-7 mana.  Like Play novablast wurm :D   Solid card for most formats.

Hammer of Ruin

Not exactly a bonesplitter, nor is the ability that relevant.

Hedron Rover

Better than Hedron Scrabbler, I suppose.

Kitesail

Better than Hammer of Ruin, in cost and utility. Flying matters.

Lodestone Golem

I really like this guy.  Might be a role player in an esper deck, or something likes to eat lands.  Anyone notice he’s got Juggy stats?

Pilgrims Eye – Staple – Evergreen

Stats and flying are kind of fair, but irrevelant.  We play the Borderland ranger and we’re fine. For EDH as well, anything that thins you out early is generally good.

Razor Boomerang

Wait, it is Betrayers of Kamigawa.  I should have called it at the evil red griefing Legendary Ogre for 5.  Well, Hankyu very much.

Seer’s Sundial.

I dislike that the default casting cost for artifacts that draw you cards seem to be four.  Still, I could see this (possibly) playing support in a red or green casual deck with no other way to draw cards.

Walking Atlas – role player

There was an elf a while back that had this ability, and it saw play. You could do some silly things with this and Geopede, maybe.

***Lands***

Bojuka Bog – Staple – Evergreen.

I don’t necessarily like what this card means for the reanimator deck archetype, especially in casual.  Of course it’s a land, so you have a choice of holding back vs. playing it, but in my case I would do the thing I usually do with functional lands like Maze, I just play one less business spell and treat this as a spell. It’s uncounterable.  It’s like, reanimation in standard isn’t that great, we’ve got crypt, leyline, and relic in extended, was this really necessary?   Seems like an odd call.

Celestial Colonnade – staple

It’s a dual land, it becomes a flyer.  Is it any good?  Well, as good as any manland would be.  They’re all great for casual, and they dodge  removal in standard.. could be good.  And if they were, it just makes land destruction and sea’s claim decks that much better.

Creeping Tar Pits – staple

I can get behind this card as well. Unblockable is pretty key.

Dread statuary

Sure in draft.  Seems slow and vulnerable in standard. 3/3 would have been better.

Eye of Ugin

Of Ghostflame fame.   We get a hint of the next set (Steamflogger Boss?)   The funny thing to me is, that if Eldrazi spells are actually playable/competitive, then a land that gives a discount of two to all of them is pretty crazy, like workshop crazy. But it’s legendary!

The ability is pretty silly, but I guess some casual deck might like it.  Another random Johnny rare.

Halimar Depths – Staple – Evergreen.

Great card, especially with Treasure Hunt.

Khalni Garden

Some people don’t like this card.  It does give you a guy, which is relevant.  Polymorph decks will find some fun with this.

Lavaclaw Reaches – Staple

Sure.

Quicksand – Staple.

Sure to be popular in control to stem the aggro rush, and always good in draft.

Raging Ravine – Staple – Evergreen

I REALLY like this guy.  He starts off as a 4/4 and continues to get bigger.  What’s not to like?

Sejiri Steppe

Here’s the question – if you’re playing this as a spell slot in order to ignore the question of whether you should play this as a spell or ramp, , it’s not necessarily as good as Brave the elements (The latter is a reactive instant, after all)

And if you’re playing it as a land, it’s kind of like Soaring Seacliff.  So yeah maybe I answered the question.

Smoldering Spires

Well, red actually likes it when you can’t block.

Stirring Brush – Staple

Good stats, but my Raging Ravine is better. You could be playing w/g though.

Tectonic Edge  – Staple – Evergreen

I’ll take Wasteland where I get can get it, I guess.

Luis Scott-Vargas, Pro Tour Champion and Magic-Strategy Coach

Just this past week, we notified Power 9 Pro customers that we’re launching another series of MtG workshops led by Luis Scott-Vargas. We definitely wanted to keep our blog readers up to date too!

I’m especially excited to have Luis Scott-Vargas on as an instructor/coach with Power 9 Pro. It’s taken a lot of juggling of schedules but we finally figured out all the details just in time for an excellent finish to 2009.

If you don’t know Luis (often endearingly called LSV by the Magic community) from his win at Pro Tour Berlin or numerous top 8′s at multiple GPs and Pro Tour events, you may know him from his “Drafting with LSV” series on YouTube/Channel Fireball. Regardless of how you first heard about LSV, his record is extremely impressive.
His most notable finishes include:

  • 1st – Nationals 2007
  • 1st – GP San Francisco 2007
  • 3rd/4th – GP Philadelphia 2008
  • 1st – Pro Tour Berlin 2008
  • 1st – GP Atlanta 2008
  • 1st – GP Los Angeles 2009
  • 2nd – Pro Tour Kyoto 2009

LSV is a great new addition to the instructor base at Power 9 Pro, where he’ll be able to leverage years of article writing as well as his foray into online video. He’s written content for BlackBoarder and Channel Fireball, conducted interviews with WotC and much more. Power 9 Pro Online Workshops are the next step in LSV’s consistently giving nature that always results in a fostering of the Magic the Gathering community and player base.

There are numerous benefits to the online workshops for players, the most notable of which is summed up by “Learn from the best to be the best.” Truly top-level coaching is hard to come by and here’s your chance to dive deep into relevant discussions on Magic. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions about what cards to include when evaluating your sideboard options–whether prep’ing for an FNM or Grand Prix Trial. LSV himself is excited to share his insights into drafting Zendikar. His perspectives from over 1200 matches (not counting MTGO!) will be leveraged for your benefit. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. The last workshop of 2009 is a “Deck Doctor” format which means you can send in your deck for LSV to make a list of adjustments. See how he would adjust the card base for optimum results for your deck. Talk about an unique experience!

Here’s an example clip from our recent workshop series led by Ben Lundquist.

You can learn more about the workshops at power9pro.com/workshops or in another recent blog post.

Further information about Luis Scott-Vargas is located at wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Scott-Vargas. You can also read some of his latest articles at Channel Fireball where he also does a weekly video-cast called Magic TV. LSV has also written for notable Magic the Gathering strategy sites Black Boarder and Starcity Games, though his writing is exclusively available on Channel Fireball as of early 2009.

FYI, if you sign up for Power 9 Pro’s (very infrequent) newsletter, we’ll send you a mp3 clip with Ben Lundquist discussing the in’s-and-out’s of the Metagame. This single 2 min clip alone will help you make better choices when it comes to what decks to expect at the next tournament and how to track the best decks in a format. We’re happy to provide this as a small sample of what Power 9 Pro aims to accomplish with our workshops.

As always, we want to hear from you. If you have workshop topic requests, thoughts or concerns, feel free to lets us know in the comments. I can also be followed on twitter where I post updates, commentary and discussions with fellow MtG players. :)