Tag Archives: Extended

Here Fishy Fishy: Developing Merfolk in the New Extended

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

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

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

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

Here Fishy Fishy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without further ado, let me present the final list:

Here Fishy Fishy

I hope to test this deck out sometime soon, and will probably purchase it on Magic Online so I can put up some videos. As always, feel free to sound off in the comments, or contact me at zak -AT- power9pro.com, or contact me via twitter at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Cheers,

Zak

DCI Banned & Restricted List Announcement

The June 18, 2010 DCI Banned & Restricted List Announcement is a whopper! Extended as we know it is changing dramatically, and Legacy will see some upheaval as well.

Effective July 1, Extended will go from having seven years worth of Magic sets to having four years worth. A whopping eleven (11) sets are rotating out on that date (Ninth Edition, Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors of Kamigawa, Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guildpact, Dissension, and Coldsnap.) From that point forward, starting with the release of Scars of Mirrodin, each fall set will cause the oldest block to rotate out. Thus, when Scars releases, Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight, and Tenth Edition will rotate out. Goodbye, Tarmogoyf, it was nice knowing ya!

Furthermore, Sword of the Meek and Hypergenesis are both banned in Extended, while the previous four banned cards will have rotated out anyway.

Clearly this decision is intended to shake things up and will hopefully do just that, breathing life into a format that has been on DCI life support for a few seasons now.

Moving over to Legacy, it appears that Steven Menendian will have his way with a couple of cards, with Grim Monolith and Illusionary Mask both being taken off the banned list.

However, Mystical Tutor has been banned, which should neuter one of the format’s preeminent combo decks, Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT). Losing those four slots universally held by the tutor will be a hard obstacle to overcome, and while the deck will likely still survive in some incarnation, we can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that the dreaded turn 1 kill will probably happen a lot less often in the format, with only the somewhat-passé LED-based dredge decks now being capable.

This should prove to be among the more influential Banned / Restricted announcements in recent times, and here’s hoping it has the desired effect of making Extended more interesting.

Rise of the Eldrazi Set Review and Analysis: Colorless

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 colorless portion of Rise of the Eldrazi.

James

Board sweepers are inherently strong so I imagine this is no different. I was a bit disappointed that Planar Cleansing never went anywhere (that I’m aware of); however, this could be a one-sided Day of judgment. Artifacts use to be safe until wotc started printing colored artifacts so saying this will see play in artifcat decks isn’t even the case anymore. Neat but is there enough colorless cards to build around this as the sweeper? Maybe this would be a good SB option against Open the Vaults style decks? That would be pretty narrow…

Joe

This looks like an amazing Wrath of God variant. Akromas Vengeance saw play at 6, and with even one of the new eldrazi support lands, this will cost the same. Seems a bit niche, but probably still powerful since it can be one-sided outside of the mirror.

Zak

I really like this card, because it’s a sweeper that doesn’t require a specific colour. I don’t think we’ve had one like this since Oblivion Stone. The ability to take out noncreature permanents is a big plus, and I believe that this could possibly see play in non-Eldrazi themed decks. Think of all the control archetypes that don’t use white. This could be extremely valuable to something like Grixis control, which doesn’t quite have a full sweeper at its disposal, but has all the other elements of a solid control deck.

Bryan

This card is very interesting and will see some play in the future. Akroma’s Vengance but easier to cast? I like it, but dont know how good it will be in the coming standard season. Obvious note should be taken that it is a tribal spell so it gains bonuses for the reduced pricing from Eye and Temple.

Dillon

This card deals with Planeswalkers, Colored Artifacts, Enchantments, Creatures, including indestructible ones, and ones with Totem armor, and fits in any color. It is truly incredible. Black finally gets a way to destroy Enchantments and Blue gets to kill creatures. Very powerful.

Rob

I suspect there will be a colorless deck after Rotation with Colored ramp spells and removal and Colorless Permanents so it can break Symmetry. Awesome with Artifact control, but playable by any deck, which brings me to a concern. If we have truly powerful Rare or higher Colorless spells, expect back breaking prices. A card playable by any deck, with any set of colors, and be a decent finisher is going to demand a price. Might also be playable in a Standard 43land-esque deck? This card will see price increases once the Scars of Mirrodin block starts dropping. Get them before then.

Mike

This takes board destruction to an entirely new level. Making it Sacrifice Colored Permanents instead of destroy them gives the card great interplay with some of the other Eldrazi cards and gets around normal tricks like Regeneration and Indestructability.

Justin

OK, this big sweeper is the first card I have seen that makes an Eldarzi deck plausible. This card goes into artifact themed EDH decks (I’m looking at you Karn). Are Urza’s Lands still in Extended? What about Cloudpost? Seems like some brown style fun to me.

  • James

    Wow. That’s pretty sick. Seems like an amazing way to get back a Broodmate Dragon or even one of these crazy Eldrazi cards. This a pretty efficient way to spend 9 man.

    Joe

    The eldrazi that can exist in your graveyard should prove to be good reanimator targets. Also, at a “mere” nine mana, and at uncommon, this seems like a likely candidate to see at least SOME limited play.

    Zak

    I think that this card shows just how swingy the Eldrazi can be. Assuming you have a worthwhile animation target when you hit 9 mana (which you should), this card is almost impossible to deal with without an opponent also casting an Eldrazi. It’s hard enough to have a removal spell in limited that can take down something of this size, but with another free creature along with it, Artisan promises to wreck limited (in a good way).

    Bryan

    Rise from the grave effect is cool, but this guy costs so much that I dont see him seeing competitive constructed play. Bomb in limited.

    Rob

    One thing I like about this guy is that if your opponent has sent one of your great guys to the bin, you get to return it regardless of any possible counterspells and if he resolves, you’ve doubled up the threats and pressure, likely enough to crack through. If expensive mana costs become par for the course, this guy seems pretty good.

    Mike

    This seems like it has a minimal effect on other Eldrazi cards, which only trigger when you cast them. Though returning a double digit P/T creature with Annihilator is nothing to slouch at.

    Justin

    This guy is a must in Eldrazi themed decks. Probably best as a 2 of. Recursion is always powerful and with the mana commitment inherent with Eldrazi, it is important to keep tempo.

    [card]

  • James

    I’m a bit sad to see this doesn’t have the new Totem ability. I’d really hate to invest 8 mana more into a creature and then have it removed from the battlefield immediately there after…or before it resolves.

    Joe

    Wow. I’m glad I have a set of nomad mythmakers! This is an excellent aura, costing very little from an Eldrazi perspective, and enchanting a creature already on the board, essentially giving you pseudo haste with your 10/10 +, trample, annihilaor beats. Should often be GG the turn you play it.

    Zak

    I love this card. Finally Arcanum Wings has a home, and a darn good one. just switch off a measly flying aura for this, and you’re golden. Too bad Extended season is winding down…

    Bryan

    When you read this card the first impression i have is “Win”. this card is pretty crazy in the sense that it can make any creature on the battlefield a complete threat. Of course the fact that it is an Aura will reduce this card from seeing any sort of competitive play. Especially when we have so many good pieces of spot removal currently in standard.

    Rob

    Nomad Mythmaker, Auratouched Mage, Zur the Enchanter all put this thing to use in older formats to voltron together some suddenly scary creatures of doom, but in standard we have Sovereigns of Lost Alara which can make any random dork into a true monster late game. EDH will make the most use of this, seeing as Auras usually mean too great a risk for too little a reward in competitive, but I wouldn’t rule this out completely. Unlikely, but not impossible to see play.

    Mike

    If the new locations that make Eldrazi Spells cheaper actually work, this could be crazy in limited, but as card types usually go, it doesn’t get much worse than Aura-Rare.

    Justin

    Auras have to be pretty great in order to see play. An 8cc aura should be amazing. This one is not.

    James

    pretty insane. I like how this continues the Lorthos (or Vorthos theme as Joe discussed on Power 9 Pro) and Darksteel Colossus theme of making really huge, mythic creatures. This one is a bit off the hook. Any way of cheating this out is great. Hypergensis loves this; as do Polymorph and Summoning Trap. Insane.

    Joe

    I am very excited about this mythic, mostly because it’s the pre-release foil, so I’m sure to get my hands on a couple. It’s also looking like one of the better Eldrazi to use in a Sneak Attack type deck. Outside of this kind of cheat-onto-the-battlefield kind of strategy, this seems like a very high CMC. I’m dusting off my copies of warp world and summoning trap.

    Zak

    My inner Johnny wants to use this with Maelstrom Archangel, because it would be that awesome. I find it extremely hard to believe that this will ever be cast normally, even with the aid of Eye of Ugin. It seems like Progenitus just got replaced in extended Hypergenesis, because this does all it does and more.

    Bryan

    Of course all the abilities on this card are crazy, but the chances of me casting this 15 mana dude are very slim. Fast decks such as Boros and allies are still viable and the likely-hood that you live to cast this is slim. Having this guy in your opening hand is a mulligan.

    Rob

    This guy is cute. So expensive, but most likely it will be cheated into play or abused for its casting cost. I’m looking at you, Djinn of Wishes, Polymorph, Lurking Predators, Riddle of Lightning and Explosive Revelation. If you are hard casting and your opponent can’t counter, the card might as well just say “You Win”. Though, a lone Vampire Nighthawk can bring the giant down… @Zak: Protection from colored spells is nowhere near as strong as Protection from Everything, but on all other accounts, yes this is scary in that role, unless it is just chumped blocked with random flying dorks.

    Mike

    This guy is obviously a Baller amongst ballers. Emeria wins the Eldrazi god-war. If you can slap this guy down it’s good game. I mean you take an extra turn just by casting him and he can’t be countered. 15 mana is so hefty though.

    Justin

    This is Kozileks’ angry drunken uncle. No one wants to see this guy resolve. Again it seems like Eldrazi are all about mana acceleration. If my Eldrazi deck curves out at 15 then this is my finisher. Concordant Crossroads, Cloudstone Curio and Emrakul’s nephew Kozilek seems like fun.

    Joe

    With all the Eldrazi Spawn generators, this seems among the most likely of the Eldrazi to see the light of the battlefield in limited. Alas, it’s only annihilator 1, and has no evasion. I’m not planning to run this guy without tons of the spawn generators.

    Zak

    This is the weakest of the Eldrazi, but albeit one of the easier ones to power out. In limited, I can see these guys getting picked much higher if you can amass many spawn generators. The best part is that all these are common, and if you can land this guy early, you can steadily decrease the probability of an opponent dropping an eldrazi by making them sacrifice their lands. If they opt to sacrifice other permanents, congratulations, you just gained card advantage!

    Bryan

    not that bad of a dude. Annihilator is going to be intersting to play with. I always like having options with how to cast my spells.

    Rob

    This could be the fastest little colorless guy you can get out. Shame that doesn’t mean much.

    Mike

    This guy is interesting, he might be the easiest guy to cast in limited b/c of all the cards that produce Eldrazi Spawn, but after looking at some other creatures here, 7/7 with A1 sauce isn’t anything to write home about.

    Justin

    This guy screams tempo in the Eldrazi deck. I think he is a great fit. I like how Shapeshifters from Lorwyn also count as Eldrazi Spawn.

    James

    This is pretty well priced. I’m not sure how all these mega-costing creatures are going to shape up. Are we stuck playing 18, 19 lands in limited? Seems like it would be really slow. Anyway, if this sticks around, it’s hot sauce. The draw ability is pretty tits.

    Joe

    I think Kozilek will prove to be a bit of a dud. He can’t sit in the graveyard, and his best benefit, the draw 4, doesn’t trigger when he’s cheated into play. He has a high annihilator count though. You have to commit to casting this guy. Now, that said, in limited you might find yourself awash in Eldrazi Spawn, in which case, kozilek is quite castable as early as turn 5 or 6 in some cases. In that situation he’ll surely shine.

    Zak

    Looking at all the eldrazi, Koxilek seems like one of the best. He’s a reasonable (I use this term lightly, and only in the context of Rise) 10 mana, and just wrecks face when you cast him. If you open him in limited, you should have no trouble winning games. Constructed might be a different story, because the sheer amount of removal that exists will make it hard for the annihilator to trigger. However, at least you get a free Tidings!

    Bryan

    In my opinion, one of the better Eldrazi. his casting cost isnt that far off from playable and the rewards are pretty good. Refulling late game hand and getting a large creature is always nice.

    Dillon

    This will probably be the one hitting the most battlefields out of the Eldrazi cycle. He completely reloads your hand and then wrecks your opponent. 10 mana actually seems doable rather than 15 mana for Emrakul.

    Rob

    When first spoiled this guy seemed pretty silly, then Emrakul was spoiled and put him in perspective. If you are going to cheat, go all the way. If you are going to hardcast, go lower and get more done with less risk.

    Mike

    10 Mana actually seems reasonable for this guy. You draw four cards, he’s pretty big, he might end up being played in blue based control decks because of his relative cheapness and his card drawing.

    Justin

    I am assuming that drawing 4 cards is good. I thought of something when I saw Annihilator… sacred ground? Also in extended (for now).

    Joe

    This guy can live in the graveyard and therefore be reanimated. Seems like a natural for black decks that run one of the ubiquitous sacrificial edicts, such as cruel edict. Just animate dead and you’re on your way.

    Zak

    I’m loving having some Eldrazi that will make decent reanimation targets. And if they weren’t powerful enough, this card has intense synergy with itself and other Eldrazi, netting you a reward for attacking with cards with Annihilator. However, the odds of getting 2 Eldrazi out at the same time seem so low that this appears to be a “win-more” card. Time will tell, though.

    Bryan

    the obvious point on this guy is the lack of a graveyard clause. This gives him the ability to be reanimated. Pretty cool if you ask me. Could this card be good with Maelstrom Pulse?

    Rob

    High Casting cost, niche ability. Yes, Annihlator will be running about, but once you have 12 mana to drop guys, you probably have better and more reasonable advantages to expect out of your cards than stealing a few of you opponents permanents. Wish this ability was on a cheap Enchantment or Artifact instead.

    Mike

    This guy is pricey, but his ability is crazy with all the annihilator running around. I just don’t know if it will matter since if you’re annihilating your opponent’s entire board aren’t you already on the path to victory?

    Justin

    It That Betrays has the coolest name in the set. Its ability seems a little too win-more for my taste. You should already have the game in control by the time this ability is relevant.

    Joe

    I dig the flavor of a free [card]hindering light]/card] kind of effect for eldrazi themselves, but a normally Eldrazi-costed spell for lesser beings and spawn. Unlikely to make the cut in any limited deck I run though.

    Zak

    If an Eldrazi-specific deck emerges, you can bet that this will play a key part. However, on it’s own it’s just a terrible counterspell. I eagerly await a deck that can drop an Eldrazi, bait the opponent’s removal spell, and then cast this. Unfortunately, it does nothing to stop Day of Judgment, which is something the Eldrazi must all fear.

    Bryan

    Not good. situational cards like this are never good. You could play hindering light and atleast not be completely out of the game the whole time.

    Rob

    Playablity would be this not being a Hindering Light, being 3 or 4 mana cheaper, or working on power 5. As it is, it is very niche and people will shoehorn it into more than just Eldrazi control decks (if such a thing can really exist). On the plus, if you are tapping out to drop a big guy, you have a free counter to keep him from getting a Path to Exile before you untap.

    Mike

    If you’re only playing Eldrazi then I could see this being decent? Depends on how badly you want to swing in with these guys, but the good ones do crazy stuff just by casting them so who knows? I could see being really frustrated if you just sac’d a bunch of Eldrazi Spawn only to get blown out by doom blade though.

    Justin

    Counter magic in a color other than blue is pretty sharp. I would like to see this in an Extended Eldrazi build. Probably wont. Situational at best.

    James

    Hmmm. Uncommon. Probably a first pick uncommon. Players will be hard pressed to deal with this. Problem is that it’s not “crazy” to think of there being two of these in a draft pod. Colorless means that anyone casts it too. Man, I just don’t see this not being the shit in limited. For constructed, there are better Eldrazi at about the same cost.

    Joe

    Yikes, that’s nifty evasion, especially since they must sacrifice 3 to the annihilator. 11 is pushing it, requiring a bunch of spawn to get him out there, but it’ll probably happen. Not bad for an uncommon. This will probably turn out to be a common curve-topper for people with spawn but no rare or mythic top dog in their pool.

    Zak

    I really don’t know how relevant the blockers clause is. If all my opponent wants to do is to sit and chump-block my Eldrazi, I’m happy to just sit there and whittle away their board presence. however, it could be relevant if one wants to come out victorious when both players have Eldrazi out; whoever’s Eldrzai goes unblocked the longest will win out.

    Bryan

    This guy has a pretty cool ability that we’ve seen before. The requirements for blocking should make this guy almost completely unblockable after a few turns.

    Rob

    Uncommon Eldrazi like this guy are going to warp the way we understand Limited. He is every bit the bomb. Guys like these should really only lose to someone sitting on removal or who plays a bigger badder Eldrazi when the turn comes back. Which brings me to the thought, “Where is all the Removal?” Oh well, more cards yet to be spoiled.

    Mike

    Annihilator 3 combined with his blocking limitations makes this guy a real beater, better at attacking than anyone other than Emeria.

    Justin

    This fatty is a nice high end creature. Especially when you look at his rarity slot. In limited this guy is nuts. Not as good as other Eldrazi we have seen, but he’s not a mythic. I could see taking this guy really early in draft but I doubt the Pathrazer can find the road to constructed.

    James

    Seems like filler. I mean, why pay 7 mana to get 5 back? For the blockers I guess…There are a lot of these spawn-mana dudes in this set so maybe it’s a way of cheating the mana requirements? Hmm, after thinking through that, I guess I can see this having a use. It’d be a role player at most though. One or two of these spawn guys and a mega eldrazi could work out pretty well. I like the concept of not having to run 20 lands in limited.

    Joe

    This makes your turn 8 consist of a 12-drop. So I think this it likely to be a key part of many BigEldrazi approaches. Without a healthy supply of spawn, I just don’t see how the Go Big plan will work.

    Zak

    This is the sort of card that the Eldrazi needed, and while a 7-mana ramp spell may not seem like much. I love the idea of bringing out a Hand of Emrakul on turn 7 or earlier, and this seems like it will help make larger Eldrazi frequent the battlefield a little more in limited. I suspect that these will get passed a fair bit in Pack 1, but will get snapped up more frequently in pack 3, because people will have their big Eldrazi and will be more concxerned with bringing them out.

    Bryan

    one of the better ramp spells to play your eldrazi.

    Rob

    At cost, this is inefficient. With Discounts from Crazy Markov’s Eldrazi outlet Temple and Ugin Optical, it gives a decent chunk of chump blocks, or annihilator chumps, and replaces itself or ramps for the next big spell. Could this type of thing find it’s way into Storm decks in older formats if you get the cost reliably under 5? I think its possible.

    Mike

    If this were an instant I think it’d be incredible, as is it’s probably just awful.

    Justin

    I first I found this card a bit underwhelming. Then I remembered Eldrazi Monument and got a little excited. Then I thought about it a bit more and realized I wanted Coat of Arms instead…. There are better ways to generate mana. I find myself asking “What do I want to be doing when I have seven mana?” The answer is not drop a small horde of chump blockers that can possibly generate some mana. Twincast? Mirari? Not a fan.

    Joe

    Wow. I never thought I’d see an activated ability that just straight up costs 20. This guy’s not bad at spewing spawn, but it begs the question of where you got the 10 for Spawnsire in the first place. Still, he’s a huge wall, capable of fending off the uncommon Eldrazi while he ramps to even Bigger guys. I’m guessing that his “ultimate” will not be activated in any tournaments unless an arbitrarily-large-mana-combo exists in the format. Even then, surely there’s better ways to win.

    Zak

    This guy’s last ability makes me want to make an Extended deck with Cloudpost, Vesuva and the Urzatron to see what could happen. If you don’t automatically win if you resolve this ability, remember that you “cast” the eldrazi, so feel free to cast Tidings, Vindicate, and Time Walk via Kozilek, Ulamog and Emrakul respectively if you manage to get this off, and have devoted sideboard slots to them.

    Bryan

    Crazy abilities that will never be relevant.

    Rob

    Best thing about this guy is the token making. But again, you should be doing something better with your mana at this point.

    Mike

    This guy isn’t impressive at all but he might be a necessary evil when, in playtesting, you realize how hard it is to consistently cast large Eldrazi creatures.

    Justin

    TIMMY! I like this guy as a way to litter the battlefield with tokens. If you are playing Eldrazi then you have the mana to make this guy sing. I think this card has the the raw power that Timmy loves as well as the potential for Johnny goodness.

    James

    I like the idea of knocking out another Eldrazi with this; problem is that if you’re casting this guy to kill an Eldrazi that means you’re already behind in the game. All these cards with Annihilator are just nutso though.

    Joe

    This, and Emrakul, are the eldrazi to hope for. Indestructible will be huge, as all these guys have huge targets on their heads. He’s got a high annihilator count, he goes all angel of despair on the opposing Eldrazi, and he’s got a middle-of-the-road cost for his kind.

    Zak

    Frankly, I’m dissapointed in the last of the three titan Eldrazi. Both Emrakul and Kozilek net you insane amounts of advantage when they hit the field, and destroying a single permanent appears lackluster when compared to the other two. The indestructibility effect is nice against the likes of Jund, but in a format where Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring see plenty of play, I’m not sure how releavnt this guy will be compared to the other Eldrazi goodness.

    Rob

    If only this was when it enters, instead of when cast. The thought of more Hypergenesis fodder is sexy, and I haven’t even gotten the deck built yet, but sadly this fails. It does win the trump war with Kozilek, killing him when cast. but still likely never sees the board against Emrakul. Meh.

    Mike

    The last of the three gods here is pretty good, but I don’t think it’s as good as many of the other Eldrazi creatures who at least have a niche, this guy is a shriekmaw.

    Justin

    This is the annoying cousin to Kozilek. It seems like this Eldrazi Legend is easily the weakest of the bunch. Indestructible is nice but I feel that Kozilek’s ability to draw cards has a much bigger impact on the game.

    James

    And of course, we get to the common Eldrazi that only has Annihilator 2 and is a piddly 8/8. This will be the guy who wins games. This is the card you pick up first and never look back. Man…so crazy. 8 mana for Annihilator 2 on a 2/2 would have been the shizz and they made it an 8/8!! In-Sane!!! And at “only” 8 mana, I bet this could be played in constructed too…without any fancy shennanigans to cheat it out.

    Joe

    Common Eldrazi, annihilator 2, 8 CMC. This guy will be played for sure. He can come out fairly quickly on the back of a few spawn. Holding back on some removal seems likely to be a key play in this limited format.

    Zak

    This seems to be the benchmark for Eldrazi in limited, and an effective deck could easily pack 2-3 copies of this guy. This could see some constructed play as a finisher for decks that relally need one, but I thiink there are probably better options for not a whole lot more mana. Excellent card in limited. He will win games; I guaruntee it.

    Rob

    Common limited bomb? It is going to be so hard to adjust to this limited format because of all the fat. ‘Attacks each turn if able’ as a drawback? Doesn’t Annihilator 2 almost make that a given anyhow?

    Mike

    This is exactly how i’d dream up a common Eldrazi creature. At 8 mana it’s actually castable in a limited game and it’s going to be a pain in the butt to block with annihilator 2 every turn

    Justin

    This guy is a common so he will have a BIG impact on limited. I have yet to see any spot removal spoiled so this guy is a house. Not versatile enough for constructed.

  • James

    I’m not moved or overly excited about this. Kinda tough after the awesomeness I Just went through.

    Joe

    Hmm… pretty un-amazing card drawer. I hope I don’t end up having nothing better to run than this.

    Zak

    Uhh… If this costed 2 it would be much better, but as is it doesn’t seem to do a lot. Compared to Jayemdae Tome, this costs one more to get in the first place, and requires you to lose life to activate it. As much as I love drawing cards, by the time you take enough for this to be relevant, I’m sure some other card would have been better for you, and this will be too little too late. Awesome art though; go Chippy!

    Rob

    The 5 mana cost hurts, but then to only gain back half of the life AND pay 2 mana and four counters to activate it, the card I draw I don’t think really makes up for this super slow late game card. Maybe a Fog/Control Variant with Mirrodin tricks in the future, but for now, I disapprove. Still using the Art as a Wallpaper though.

    Mike

    This card just seems very slow, and on what turn is a control player going to cast it? If you have to take 4 damage to even activate it, how long is it going to be useful for? I don’t like this card much.

    Justin

    The mana cost makes this card unappealing. This card reeks of something that R&D was excited about and then they watered it down when annoying decks popped up in the Future Future League. I’m sure it can find a home in some wacky Johnny build but all in all it seems a bit sub par with all the gigantic creatures running around. I would sac this to Annihilator instead of a plains in a heartbeat.

  • James

    Master Transmuter comes to mind as an abuse outlet. Maybe I’m just a sucker though; I always felt she was just waiting to be super good… The abilities are pretty weird. I don’t like that you have to pay three and then sac to get the 3 cards. Type to draw 3 cards seems sufficient. For limited I’m starting to think cards like this are going to be pretty necessary if we players are ever going to get to 11 mana…

    Joe

    This looks strong, ramping you to Eldrazi, or drawing you into answers. I like it, even if it’s a bit slow and unorthodox for a mana artifact.

    Zak

    Thi card seems fantastic. It’s excellent in limited if you want to power out Eldrazi behemoths more reliably than with temporary sacrifices of Spawn tokens, and in constructed it can go well in a control deck. And do I really need to talk about how awesome this could be in EDH?

    Rob

    Um, ok. Mana ramp for Eldrazi guys, but for those of us trying to win, this accel comes about 4 land drops too late. I’ll enjoy playing with it in Limited and EDH but I’m not likely to play it in any constructed tourneys. Of course all that could change when Scars comes out with a good Artifact Control deck.

    Mike

    This is an interesting ramp card. It’s weird a ramp card costs six, but with everflowing chalice this card is reasonable. The fact that you can draw 3 cards when you’ve caught up to your mana is definitely a cool ability.

    Justin

    I like this card for EDH, especially in colors where card drawing is scarce like Red. It seems too slow for Construted at this point, but that could all change when Shards rotates out.

  • Joe

    Big, slow, not my style.

    Zak

    Sigh… It’s Anodet Lurker‘s big brother. If you’re spending six mana on this in limited, you’re doing something wrong and wil probably get overrun by levelers and/or Eldrazi.

    Rob

    I’d rather have a Lodestone Golem.Otherwise see the same comments for Dreamstone Hedron.

    Mike

    I like this guy, 6 mana isn’t too much for a limited game, he will definitely get you to the late turns when you can start casting your big eldrazi stuff if you go that route.

    Justin

    In a set full of high casting cost, powerful threats, this guy is underpowered. Lame for an uncommon.

  • James

    Sweetness. Rare so not the craziest of them all but it has high utility; especially on an overcosted flier as I’m sure Rise of the Eldrazi has.

    Joe

    Should be hot. Even if you just run out a flier and equip, you can often race before your opponent hits Eldrazi town.

    Zak

    It’s so expensive, but it might just make it as a singleton target for Stoneforge Mystic to tutor up and play cheaply. I have this vision of a Baneslayer Angel attacking with this, but I just don’t know how relevant it could possibly be when another card would probably be more effective

    Rob

    This amuses me. So many guys could be awesome with this on them, but we need to use guys like Stoneforge Mystic, and Kor Outfitter, who have fairly low CMC, thus defeating the purpose largely.

    Mike

    This is equally as pricey as grappling hook and has a lot more potential. The fact that it’s rare is kind of annoying, because if this had trample it’d be outstanding.

    Justin

    Not really impressed with this piece of equipment. The gains are marginal on early drops and the impact is small late game. Do I want to spend 4 mana for this on turn 4? Nope.

  • James

    Kinda neat. I’ve not really played the “mill deck” so I can’t speak to its viability. Maybe this would be a good sideboard option against Dredge? Those decks fill the graveyard up quickly. “5 mana” (after the 6 to play) to mill 20 cards would be pretty off the hook. I’m sure someone will throw this into a control deck to see how it goes.

    Joe

    Auto-mill for 6 + one turn? I like this as a win condition more than any of the Eldrazi. This will be a commonly played card in EDH too, though maybe not as much in multi-player matches as in 1v1.

    Zak

    So we have a Millstone steroids. People might be tempted to play this in limited, but I would caution against it, because in the 4 or so turns you spend casting this and milling them, you’ll probably be crushed underfoot by an Eldrazi or two. I do echo Joe’s sentiments about EDH, this could be pretty awesome.

    Rob

    Strictly EDH and Casual. With three Gaea’s Blessings running around the format, and Milling usually being a subpar strategy (and I love to mill people) this is really kinda worthless.

    Mike

    This card could get out of hand quickly, especially in a limited game, but as for constructed applications, things like archive trap just seem more consistent to base a mill deck around once Font of Mythos rotates out

    Justin

    Holy crap! This goes right into my Szadek, Lord of Secrets EDH deck. YAY! I like it a bunch…. yeah only for that reason. I think it would be funny to play late on a dredge player too.

  • Joe

    Should be awesome in limited, then become a bookmark forevermore.

    Zak

    It lets your more mediocre guys trade with the big Eldrazi, but it shouldn’t be a permanent solution due to it’s intense equip cost.

    Rob

    5 to equip? I’ll pass.

    Mike

    This card would’ve been Kor Outfitter’s best friend if it wasn’t triple ROE draft, otherwise it isn’t awesome

    Justin

    Equip cost is way too high. I would rather play Feast of the Unicorn.

  • Joe

    This feels like a “win more” to me, but sometimes it’ll go on a flier and count all your walls for the boost, so I might play it in such a deck.

    Zak

    The cost for this is way to high for something that resembles Scion of the Wild. If you’re going for the Eldrazi style win-condition, is this gong to be relevant at all? Methinks not.

    Rob

    Cantrips, filters mana, and is a good basic Utility Card. Going to be great fixer in limited.

    Mike

    Well, open the vaults just got a new friend. That deck could definitely come back before Shards of Alara rotates out this fall.

    Justin

    House. This card is powerful in a subtle way. I like it for multi-colored EDH decks. Strong in Limited and I could see it making a splash in Standard. I would not feel bad cascading into this.

  • Joe

    It cantrips, so if you need this fixer, it’s relatively painless.

    Zak

    YES!!! Remember how Time Seive was used in an awesome combo/stall deck before Zendiakr came out? The only thing which stopped the deck’s growth was the rotation of Elsewhere Flask. Well now this deck is back and should be able to make a serious gash in the metagame now that we have another 2 mana cantripping artifact in addition to Kaliedostone.

    Rob

    Cantrips, filters mana, and is a good basic Utility Card. Going to be great fixer in limited.

    Mike

    Well, open the vaults just got a new friend. That deck could definitely come back before Shards of Alara rotates out this fall.

    Justin

    House. This card is powerful in a subtle way. I like it for multi-colored EDH decks. Strong in Limited and I could see it making a splash in Standard. I would not feel bad cascading into this.

  • Joe

    Wow, even artifacts get walls in ROE. This is going to be interesting to see how slow the format really ends up being.

    Zak

    Umm…I guess? This seems like it could be okay in limited, but what good does preventing one damage to you (not a creature) do when there are Eldrazi wrecking your board.

    Rob

    Quick and dirty cleric wall. What’s not to like.

    Mike

    This is a great limited concept. I love the stats and the tap-ability. I love everything about this card getting you to your bombs in a draft or sealed.

    Justin

    Meh. Its a wall.

  • Joe

    Interesting bear here. I’m not usually keen on drawing cards for my opponents, but this guy at least helps any deck with aggressive intentions to be on-curve.

    Zak

    This also could help out the Time Sieve deck in standard, because you’re already using Howling Mine effects. Outside of a deck where you really don’t care what the opponent plays, I can’t see this seeing too much play. The opportunity for your opponent to capitalize by you playing a 2/2 in this environment are just too great.

    Rob

    Another cheerleader for Scars of Mirrodin. I’m soo looking forward to cobbling together a great colorless control deck. 2/2 for 2 colorless plus a card seems about right for letting your opponent get a card, and if you can punish your opponent for that card, or take it back away from him, it is awesome.

    Mike

    Pretty crazy ability. I’m not sure how big the drawback is of letting your opponent draw a card in a limited game. I wan’t to say I don’t want to let my opponent do that, and this guy is just a grizzly bear, so I guess it depends on how badly you need to fill your curve with no mana issues.

    Justin

    I like this guy. Perfect at uncommon. I can see this one hitting the $3-$5 dollar mark pretty quick. Great tempo and card advantage that can fit in any color.

  • Joe

    Way too slow. If it cost 3 or less, this would be fine, but then it might be pretty insane in constructed I guess.

    Zak

    There’s no way this will ever see a great deal of play. It’s a pity that it doesn’t count the instants you cast in order to ramp up to it, and seems like a junk rare.

    Rob

    This is such strange card. Seems like another Casual or EDH player only. It’ll be a buck rare unless someone finds a way to put it where it doesn’t belong, like in a burn deck or some sort of permission deck.

    Mike

    This card might as well just read Bulk Rare. There might be a casual deck out there based off this, or maybe something with everflowing chalice in a blue control deck going on, but 7 is expensive. It is an interesting way to kill your opponent while just sitting on counters though.

    Justin

    This card is looking for the guy who is going to go “OMG! this would be hilarious! I have to build a deck around this card right away!” Not sure if that guy is out there but there is a chance.

  • Joe

    I like this, whether it goes on your flying wall or just a random dork.

    Zak

    I knew that this set would have an Animate Wall variant, and this doesn’t disappoint. At very worse, it’s a slightly more expensive [cxard]Vulshok Morningstar[/card], which was just fine in limited.

    Rob

    Turns walls on. I’m always skeptical of any equip cost higher than 2, but to make a hard to kill and cheaper than normal guy into a swinger can turn a passive game into a race to the end.

    Mike

    It’s a little pricey, but man are there a lot of walls in this block, so this could be interesting on a Gomazoa

    Justin

    Trying to make walls exciting is like trying to make watching paint dry exciting. How does a wall get into a chariot anyway? Poor flavor here.

    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

  • PTQ San Juan: Merfolk in Extended *10th*

    Hello everyone, and I hope the students among you are enjoying Spring break as much as I am. Friday and Saturday were a whirlwind of Magic-related challenges, and now that I’m caught up on some sleep, I’m ready to recount the story.

    We start off in Edmonton (my hometown) at 10:30 pm. One of my buddies swings around my place so that we can meet our other two friends on the other side of town for supper. However, Dave, the guy who is driving only came to the city about a year ago, and progresses further out of town in the opposite direction we need to go. Thus, we end up taking a roundabout trip to the restaurant that takes us almost an hour. When we get to the restaurant, I don’t recognize my friends at their table because they are sitting with 10 others whom I don’t know, and are dressed up like Japanese school girls. Long story short, after a few cell phone calls and facepalms, we sit down and enjoy general merriment until about midnight. When we finally go over to my friend’s place where we’re spending the night, we test for about an hour before attempting to go to bed. Of course our host’s roommate has also invited some other friends to spend the night, so Dave, Matt, and myself end up sleeping on the floor.

    4 hours later, we get up and fill ourselves with coffee and hit the road for the 3-0hour drive to Calgary. While Dave drives and Matt sleeps in the shotgun, Brian and I test extended for a good hour and a half on top of spare binders on our laps. This is of course until the truck sputters to a stop in the middle of the highway. The three more academically inclined of us (Matt, Brian, and I) resign ourselves to the fact that we will miss the PTQ, while Dave points out that there is an abnormally strong smell of gas on the side of the highway. Looking down, we see an enormous pool of gas dripping from the bottom of the truck, and Dave is able to reconnect the dislodged gas line and set us back on our way, with enough time to spare.

    On arrival at the tournament site, we find that WotC has donated a ton of product to the event, and that everyone will get six free boosters just for showing up. Seems awesome.

    The time for handing in decklists comes, and this is what I submit.

    Here Fishy Fishy

    And here is the sideboard:

    So as I said in my previous article, I didn’t think that Faerie Depths was a good decision for a metagame filled with Zoo. I came across Marshall Arthurs’ winning list about a week prior to the tournament, and I knew immediately that I would be playing merfolk. They’re a deck that I played in standard, and I’m very familiar with the archetype. Unlike Faerie Depths, I’m almost always playing ahead of my opponent, whereas Faeries needs to play catch up for most of the game.

    I only made a few changes to Marshall’s list. The first, and most notable, is the removal of 2 Cursecatcher and a Mana Leak for 3 Sejiri Merfolk. I think that this was absolutely the right call, as I boarded out Cursecatchers a fair bit, and the Sejiri was able to totally turn games around. Seriously, this card is extremely good.

    The other change is the inclusion of more basic lands. I knew there would be a fair few players piloting Kyle Bogemmes’ Blood Moon Zoo, as well as Gavin Verhey’s Ultimecia. I believe that the 10 basics and 3 fetches render that plan of attack effectively useless, except for that it shuts off Mutavault. Again we see that this deck is superior to Faerie Depths in its ability to deal with moon effects, whereas faeries would many times just scoop to the 3 mana enchantment or its magus.

    The board is almost completely different from Marshall’s. I added Threads of Disloyalty to assist me in the Zoo matchup, and Damping Matrix to hurt Thopter Depths. Wrath of God is a way for me to deal with Elves, fast Zoo, and maybe a resolved Hypergenesis or Living End. Finally, Leyline of Singularity was my ace in the hole against Thopter Foundry decks, as well as Elves and Dredge.
    Round 1: vs Arvin (Uw Merfolk)

    Arvin is last year’s regional champion from Calgary, and I greet him as such when we sit down. He seems a little flattered that someone who he doesn’t know knows his name, and we make small talk while shuffling our decks. Imagine my surprise when he plays a turn one Island followed by Cursecatcher. My mindset immediately changes into how I can beat the mirror, and I identify Lord of Atlantis as a game changer immediately. I realize that I must use it as an Overrun style finisher, rather than as a source of continual damage. He casts Silvergill Adept on turn 2, and than I respond with Sejiri Merfolk. This is where he becomes aware of the situation as I have known it for 2 turns, and we both have a little chuckle at the unexpected mirror match.

    He casts an Umezawas Jitte on turn 3, which I kill with a Jitte of my own. The first strike on my Sejiri Merfolk is holding the fort, but I become worried when he resolves another Jitte on the next turn. After equipping it to his 3/2 Silvergill Adept he pauses and asks me: “Does [Sejiri Merfolk] have first strike?” I reply in the affirmative, and then he does something which defies rational explanation. He attacks with his Jitte-wielding adept while he’s tapped out. I block, and I stop him when he tries to put counters on the Jitte, informing him that his guy died before it dealt combat damage. He realizes the extent of his misplay, and then I play a Jitte to kill his, and overwhelm him in the next few turns.

    I board out 3 Lord of Atlantis and 2 Cursecatcher In favour of 2 Threads of Disloyalty and 3 Temporal Isolation. In game 2, I make a mistake early on when I cast Threads on his Wake Thrasher. Shortly after, I realize my mistake and explain to the judge the situation. He gives us both a warning, and our game goes on. It turns out that Arvin didn’t board out Lord of Atlantis, and my Wake Thrasher in able to go all the way with islandwalk.

    1 – 0

    Round 2: vs Mike (Hypergenesis)

    We’re chatting while we shuffle and we discuss which, if any, decks would actually want to draw in this format. I say that the Hypergenesis builds which run Gemstone Caverns might want to and he replies that his deck might also draw sometimes. When he plays a turn 1 Gemstone Mines, I’m not surprised, and I drop a Sejiri Merfolk on turn 2. However, this is where all hell breaks loose, as he exiles a Simian Spirit Guide and casts Violent Outburst during my end step. He brings out Bogardan Hellkite and Progenitus, and I bring in 4 Merfolk Lords and a Wake Thrasher. Then my opponent misplays, choosing to kill off one of my lords with the hellkite damage, rather than hit me and swing for game next turn. He doesn’t realize this until I’ve drawn a Path to Exile for his Hellkite and my team swings in for the win.

    I board in Ethersworn Canonist and Wrath of God. I have a turn 2 Sejiri Merfolk again, and he combos off on turn two…again. He brings down Angel of Despair, killing a lord I bring down, and a Progenitus. I have the Path to Exile for his angel, and so it’s a battle of merfolk vs Progenitus. I go to 2 after two successive hydra swings thanks to my lifegaining merfolk, and I try and stabilize on the back of a Lord of Atlantis, Mutavault and the aforementioned Sejiri Merfolk. I draw a Cryptic Command to tap his 10/10 and draw a card, giving me one more swing. On my draw step, a draw another Cryptic, which clinches the game for me while a 10/10 hydra was staring me down.

    2 – 0

    Round 3: vs Jared (Tribal Zoo)

    I lose the roll and find him to have a very fast start consisting of Noble Hierarch, Qasali Pridemage, Wild Nacatl and Knight of the Reliquary. I assume he’s playing some GW aggro deck, and I attempt to stabilize with a 3/2 Sejiri merfolk wearing an Umezawas Jitte. However, he eventually beats me down with sheer numbers and I move to game 2.

    I mulligan in the second game, after seeing a hand with double Mutavault and little else[/card]. I only saw Naya colours in the first game, so imagine my surprise when he cracks a fetchland for Watery Grave. In addition to his faster start, which I fend off for the most part, he has double Tribal Flames for 5, which just burn me out.

    2 – 1

    Round 4: vs Lorenzo (Blood Moon Zoo)

    Normally, I’d be apprehensive about facing Lorenzo, as he’s one of the best players in the province. However, I know what he’s playing, and I spent a good hour testing this exact matchup on the ride home with Brian, so I know I’m favoured to win. I play 3 lords on turns 3, 4 and 5, and he resolves Bloodbraid Elf into a Blood Moon. This screws him out of green, while the high number of basics in my deck pay off, and double Merrow Reejerey takes him down.

    Game 2 is all about the Wake Thrashers. I play 3 over the course of the game, and he can’t remove them all. This forces him to make a ton of chump blocks, and he draws a fair bit of land near the end of the game which seals the match.

    3 – 1

    Round 5: vs Shaun (Thopter Depths)

    Finally, the match which matters the most. Testing has indicated that its 50/50 pre-board, and a slight edge to me post-board, and Shaun is one of the best players around, having been on the pro tour in the past. In game 1 he has a Vampire Hexmage to stop my Cursecatcher and Silvergill Adept, and a turn 3 Dark Depths wins it for him, as I don’t draw a Path to Exile

    In game 2, He gets the Thopter Foundry combo online, but it’s too late, as I have the deadly duo of Wake Thrasher and Merfolk Sovereign, which crash in for upwards of 10 damage a turn.

    Game 3 I have no chance. He has a turn 1 Thopter Foundry off a Chrome Mox, a turn 2 Sword of the Meek and a turn 3 Marit Lage which dies to path. However, I get overrun by thopters and the lifegain makes it impossible for me to race him.

    Round 6: vs Lowell (Red Deck Wins)

    This matchup is actually much harder than I had envisioned, but the plethora of lord effects I have become the deciding factor. He can’t afford to leave a Wake Thrasher unburnt, so I have enough firepower (and life) to stay alive and decimate him. My notes have me winning this game at a precarious one life.

    In game 2, I resolve an early Sejiri Merfolk, which renders all his Hellspark Elementals useless. I gain 8 life off the one merfolk, and 3 lords end up being the deciding factor in this very one-sided game.

    4 – 2

    Round 7: vs Colin (Thopter Depths)

    Within the first 2 turns, he casts triple Thoughtseize, nabbing a Lord of Atlantis and 2 Wake Thrashers. He attempts to make a Dark Depths token which is me by a Path to Exile. Eventually, my islandwalking army of merfolk overwhelm him, aided by the 6 damage he dealt to himself of the bat.

    Game 2 is the perfect draw for me. I play a turn zero Leyline of Singularity, which causes everyone in the top tables around me to look. Colin is dumbfounded by the fact that one of his combos is severely neutered, and when he struggles to get a Marit Lage, I casually cast Path to Exile. I bring in an army consisting of Silvergill Adept, Lord of Atlantis, Merrow Reejerey, and Merfolk Sovereign. His ability to only make a single thopter does him in, and I find myself with a potential spot in top 8.

    5 – 2

    Unfortunately, I miss the top 8 on breakers and get 10th overall. This is my best finish at a PTQ yet, and come May, I have every intention of winning the ticket to Amsterdam on home soil in Edmonton.

    I think that this deck was an excellent meta choice, and not enough people give this deck the respect it deserves. The Sejiri Merfolks were an amazing addition, as was the increased number of basic lands.

    The only thing I would change about the above decklist would be to cut a single Temporal Isolation from the sideboard, and add in a Spell Snare, because most of the time I didn’t want to dilute my merfolk count too much, and with 4 path maindeck, it seemed excessive to have 3.

    It’s now time to focus on Rise of the Eldrazi, and its impact on standard. Join me and the rest of the Power 9 Pro team with a set review, tales from prerelease and launch parties, and more in the coming weeks.

    As always, feel free to sound off in the comments, or contact me via email at zak -AT- power9pro.com, or through my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/zturchan. Until next time,

    Cheers,

    Zak

    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.

    Trying to Grind at Pro Tour San Diego and the New Standard

    Attending my first Pro Tour last weekend was a hip-check to my Super Ego. I’ve been to dozens of card conventions and large tournaments, but this is the first time I attended when I wasn’t even invited to the big dance. There was never a VS System Pro Circuit Championship that I wasn’t qualified for. Since 2002 there’s only been one year where I participated in Star Wars CCG Worlds that I didn’t have a bye to the second day. And when Decipher had a Fantasy Lord of the Rings TCG contest for Worlds on their official website I was worth 15 points!

    Joking aside, the transition to magic has been oft-fruitless and never had that been so abundantly clear than when I was on the side of the convention hall near the dealers, looking accross at the “pros” duking it out for zeros.

    I will say that if you love Magic you should definitely attend a pro tour. 8 man events fire from 9am to 3am. You can play a MTGO Draft for free. Some of the tournaments have insane prizes (xbox, flights to San Juan, Foil uncut sheets of Worldwake), and there’s plenty of room to battle EDH style, trade, or loaf around dishing about the game.

    I fancy myself a competitive Magic Player so I didn’t do anything *fun* last weekend other than a 2HG sealed event. I had never played 2HG and my brother and I built our deck pretty suboptimally since we didn’t understand that Pulse Tracker was an inherent powerhouse. We had some fair bombs for regular sealed decks, but 2HG is a much different breed.

    My first event was the LCQ. My pool was pretty fair and I thought it would allow me to do some work. It was a RG ally deck with a light black splash for Bojuka Brigand and Nimana Sell-Sword to up the ally count to double digits. Its bread and butter was the Kazuul Warlord and the double Graypelt Hunter. My first heartbreak came in game 3 of round 2 when I passed the turn to my opponent while tapped out with a 2/3 a 2/1 and the warlord untapped. I was at 11 life and he was at 4. My only card in hand was a burst lightning that I could kick next turn. My opponent had 2 counters on Quest for the Grave Lord and a Hagra Crocodile and a Ruthless Cullblade on board. My opponent draws, putting two cards in his hand. He says “Well, he can’t block” and swings in with the croc. I go into the tank: I’ve already drawn out his Groundswell so I’m not super worried about the swing. I’m a little bit concerned about Vampire’s bite, which I haven’t seen but some people board in vs. red. I also know he hasn’t played either of the Bloodhusk Ritualists that he had. I felt that if I blocked and let him put a 5/5 zombie on the field, I’d be hard pressed to get my four damage in if he just drew the ritualist. I decided not to block and the two cards in my opponent’s hand were Harrow and a second Groundswell dealing me exactly 11 damage. I stayed in but I was pretty broken after that. I think I ended up 2-2 or 2-3.

    I was however, geared up for Extended and sleeved up Combo Elves the night before I left for San Diego while I caught up on my favorite USA shows White Collar and Psych. I’m big into television so if anyone ever wants to talk tv, comment away; I watch a lot.

    I didn’t have the opportunity to test the elves much because of all the standard testing for my friends and roomates on the PT, so when I went into the PTQs with it I ended up 1-3, 2-3; but I learned a lot about the deck and had the chance to chat up Matt Nass during some heated games of Guillotine over the course of the weekend about sideboard plans and I feel a lot better slinging it tomorrow at the local PTQ.

    What I really want to get to though, is standard. Since worlds, about everyone on my team other than my brother (turbofog) has been rocking Marijn “I hate the world” Lybaert’s Jund list. After the event he posted up the deck with updates and it looked a little something like this:

    We call this list STUND (stock Jund); it’s about the least spicy Jund list ever made. I top 8′d states with it in New Hampshire and it has fared well for my friend and top 100 constructed player on planet Earth Jason Ford; the dude who x-1′d the first day of the Pro Tour with the above list (swap out 2 Rootbound Crag for 2 Raging Ravine) and dealt talk of the town Tom Ross his only constructed loss all weekend.

    Like I said, this list isn’t spicy. It doesnt put Siege-Gang in, which is what a lot of Jund decks are doing right now. It doesn’t even consider Rampant Growth or Explore, but instead opts for the board developing Borderland Ranger in the MD (with two more in the board!). Most people who look at Jason’s list and ask me about it question these Borderlands and the Chandra Nalaar most often. A lot of times Chandra just gets there, we even bring her in for the mirror (cutting 4 leeches and 3 Pulse, always – no matter what). Against control decks, she gets there in the face of Wall of Denial, in matchups with creatures she’s recurring removal. Borderland Ranger is a little bit harder to defend, so I’ve asked JFord to give me 100 words on why the borderlander. He gave me doulbe that.

    “Borderland Ranger is probably the card that gets the most funny looks, besides maybe the Chandra in the sideboard. Borderland Ranger, despite only being a 1 of, is largely the foundation of the deck. It lets you essentially play 25.5 lands, fixes your mana, fetches a basic against pesky Ruinblaster shenanigans, and even acts as a body – a 2/2 should not be ignored. Some ask why I wouldn’t just play another Ravine in its spot, as manlands largely do much of the same – they let me play a higher land count with much of the same utility of a spell, and they even tap for 2 colors to boot. However, the manlands don’t let you develop as well. Ravine never actually wants to block a Bloodbraid Elf, as it will cost you both a land drop and an entire turn (to keep the mana untapped), on top of doing nothing for your Ruinblaster situation. Furthemore, Borderland lets me cast Garruk, Bloodwitch, and Chandra post board – not something that just one land outside of Savage Lands is helping.

    Don’t find yourself falling into the trap of automatically shaving the one Borderland, either when initially building or when sideboarding. It is as much of a core to this build as the 4 Bloodbraids are. ”

    That’s all pretty well said without even considering it’s red zone implications. It trades with bloodbraid and is great to block a leech when you’ve got mana up with a bolt backup. He also lets you keep a lot of unkeepable hands as well. Even though I do sometimes get burned by them (more on this later), I’ll keep a two lander with borderland and gas no problem.

    Jason ended up 8-2 in the constructed portion and 46th overall at the PT, his second straight top 50 finish and he’ll be riding the train into San Juan later on in the year.

    So after my PTQing was done, they had a WPN event on Sunday with a first place prize of a flight and hotel to the next PT in San Juan. I decided to sleeve up STUND (though when I sat down for round 1 I totally forgot that I put my fetches in my elves deck and had to run and snag Jason’s deckbox to avoid DQ). I ended up in the top 8 with a sole loss to white weenie where in G1 I had to mull to 4 with no land and game 2 he just had more threats than I had removal though I likely incorrectly terminated a Conquerer’s Pledge token when my life was starting to get low. I beat Bant Twice, B/R burn, and UW Control.

    Some Highlights:

    R1 vs. UW Control, dropped game 1 but got there on game 2 with a double bloodwitch hand and game 3 with Chandra’s Ultimate against 3 Wall of Denial.

    R3 vs. Bant my opponent could’ve had the draw but decided not to kill my garruk w/ 4 counters and let my lone bloodwitch beat past his two Baneslayers for 7 when I topdecked burn while he was at 8 life.

    R5 vs. B/R aggro my opponent. In game 1 my opponent stuck on two lands and all I saw was Goblin Guide and Hellspark Elemental so I think I kept a slower hand in game 2. He went t3 Ball Lightning, T4 Ball Lightning, t5 Elemental Appeal (soaking two of the damage with a borderland!) dropping me to 2 life. He has a lavaclaw reaches out and 1 card in hand so I’m forced to play Bloodbraid Elf and luckily I hit Blightning stripping him of his own Blightning. He activated reaches and traded with the Elf. I cast a Broodmate Dragon on 6 and he played Hell’s Thunder and traded with one. I cast BLightning leaving terminate mana up and stripped him of his searing blaze, swung in to put him to 8 life. He whiffs the next turn and I drop him to 4. He rips elemental appeal but I had the terminate (and a bit blast if he found burn, to try and cascade into my own burn) and I win while playing all but one of my spells with just 2 life against BURN.

    In the top 8 I lost to a pro named Ari Lax in the mirror. I kept a 2 land w/ borderland Ranger hand on the play with a bloodbraid and a goblin ruinblaster with Thrinax and Blightning to boot. I didn’t get there and even though first place was flight and a hotel, second place was an uncut foil sheet of worldwake, third and fourth place got a foil set of worldwake. What’d 5-8 get? THREE PACKS. awesome. I ripped my 4th Quest for the Nihil Stone of the weekend in the WWK pack and burned the other two for warmth.

    I have a lot more to say about standard, especially the “Boss” Naya that everyone seems to really like. By now everyone knows that Scott-Vargas whent 17-0 and Tom Ross got the Whammy hitting ninth by two % points. Knight of the Reliquary is not a must have card in the standard environment and dealears at the PT were actually sold out of them accross the board. I’m glad I picked some up when Zendikar first hit because now they’re up to $12. I will say that Knight is now an absolute must kill and you really cannot let Bant and Naya untap with a Knight in play or it’s curtains for you and your spells.

    The Naya deck is interesting and I hope I get to take it to some FNMs soon. There is certainly concerns about the mana, as I heard all weekend how those of the CFB guys who ran it and didn’t do well were losing to their mana all day. I decided to chat up Jason about it since all we do is dink around on Gmail all day:

    Mike: so you dealt tom ross his only loss.. what are your thoughts on his naya and how is that gonna hold up?

    JFord: I mean..its kinda tough to say because it was just one match where both games were basically blowouts. It’s funny…the naya decks mana is worse than jund. I almost think it costs you too much to be playing wild nacatl, but if you cut those then ranger does much much less and so on. It’s another intrinsically powerful deck, but im slantted towards jund just cuz im a fanboy. You also gotta kinda question if the sparksmage/collar thing is too cute or whether it is that sick.

    Mike: well it seems sick against these decks that are almost all creatures, the bant that sam black played or even in the mirror where you will exhaust their sejeri steppes right quick.

    JFord: this is definitely true. But, then you gotta ask where the metagame stands. He did take down 3 other jund players..so maybe im just a sack haha.

    Mike: haha, do they bring in the sparkmages against jund?

    JFord: no I dont believe so

    Mike: the buzz around the convention center was that the guys on that squad that did bad with the naya lost primarily to mana issues so that does say something.

    JFord: yea i mean..the mana is pretty poor
    like i said…the deck works pretty hard to make nacatl happen
    and its like..is it worht it? Maybe.
    But if you cut nacatls for better mana then what is your deck doing?
    not a whole lot probably.
    also not sure why they’re playing scute mob over dragonmaster outcast, but im sure they know.

    Mike: i agree on the nacatl thing, but my big question is why not wooly thoctar. like, I dont see the point of the one drop because you’re mana is so iffy, why not take the approach of the bant decks which is to spit out a big monster on t3? Like knight is fine obviously, but when are you playing your ncatl?

    JFord: Well… first, the Ranger of Eos engine.
    Secondly, which piggybacks on it, is stoneforge mystic.
    Basically, more threat density for your equipment.
    Your guys dont have to be THAT good if you can play more/ get them down quicker
    because the equipment should trump.

    Mike: I guess ranger tutoring up two 3/3s dying to be equipped is good.

    JFord: Right. And it lets you do cutesy things like scutes and gives more value to your 1 drops
    so i guess its kinda cute..it’s also pretty good

    Mike: looking at this naya list its actually pretty good, I hadnt broken it down.
    its got some weak cascades though.

    JFord: Its got a lot of em, but it isn’t like jund where you’re depending on them either.

    Mike: no

    JFord: but yea..bloodbraid in jund =/= bloodbraid in naya
    not even close

    Mike: I just imagine all those times you hit mana birds or a t4 scute mob youre like, “suck”

    JFord: Yea, but if you have a hierarch or two down..hasty wooly thoctar?

    Mike: I mean yeah that’s an upside……….

    Then we started delving into Chapin’s UW List. Something that has a bunch of us here at Power9Pro.com kind of fired up. I think a few of us are going to explore that list quite a bit in the upcoming weeks. I know I already have my Jaces, including a German one, which is pretty sweet.

    That’s it for this week. Not sure how I feel about throwing a chat into the article but we’ll keep it spicy. Editing that bear took longer than it would’ve taken to summarize the whole sh’bang. Standard definitely seems a lot of fun right now, and I’m looking forward to playing the standard queues on MTGO as well as some FNMs.

    But for now, back to the grind of extended and sleeving up combo elves tomorrow morning in Beantown.

    Til next time,

    Mike Gemme
    mike@power9pro.com
    bobbysapphire on MTGO

    Patrick Chapin’s “Punishing Gifts”-Extended Tournament Report

    Over the weekend I had a chance to go play an extended tournament at my local game store.  It ended up being a small (9 people) affair, but I still had a great time.  Earlier in the week, I asked Power 9 Pro’s very own Joe Klesert for some advice on what to play.  He told me about a great deck from Patrick “the Innovator” Chapin that looked to take advantage of the current Dark Depths/Thopter Foundry (DDT) dominated meta-game.  DDT is arguably the best deck in the format right now, punishing other decks based on the Depth’s Vampire Hexmage combo and the Thopter Sword of the Meek combo.  The list that Joe gave me was this:

    I did not have access to all of the cards I needed so I had to replace 1 Hallowed Fountain with Adarkar Wastes and the Cranial Extraction with another copy of Extirpate.

    First round I played Mark who was running a R/G deck that i liked to think of as 2-color zoo.  It ran the Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows engine that first appeared in the Ben Rubin Zoo deck now known as Rubin Zoo (great name).  One neat piece of synergy that Mark had was the use of Kavu Predator to go along with his Burnwillows.  Game 1 Mark stomped on my head pretty quickly even after having to mulligan.  Game 2 went a little better, as I had answered all of his threats and he was in top deck mode.  I had the Punishing Fire engine going, but was trying to find either Teferi or my Thopter/Sword combo as I was still in burn range from early beats.  Unfortunately, he top decked Bloodbraid Elf into Punishing Fire and backed them up with Lightning Bolt to finish me off.

    Second Round I played against Joseph playing a version of Elves!.  I was really surprised to see this list, when I was doing research on extended there was very little mention of Elves!.  In Game 1, Firespout was the superstar allowing me to blow-up 2 Heritage Druids and buy myself enough time to set up my Thopter/Sword combo to win.  Game 2 was a blowout thanks to Engineered Explosives holding the fort until I could go ultimate with Jace.

    Trying to gain some momentum I headed to Round  3 where I was playing against Johnny running U/B Teachings.  His deck is similar to mine but it relies more on setting up Mystical Teachings to find Teferi.  In Game 1, Johnny gets Teferi online quickly and I need to spend a lot of resources to get past the counter wall in order to get rid of him.  It was all for naught as once Path to Exile finally got rid of Teferi, Crovax, Ascendant Hero came down to finish me off.  Crovax is great tech against Thopter tokens, even if the opposing side has an army built up Crovax can still turn that combo “off”.  Game 2 was the most fun I had in the tournament.  Johnny and I were in an all out counter war.  I had my Gargoyle Castle/Crucible of Worlds engine going, attacking with 3/4 tokens, trying to get past his team of Teferi and Sphinx of Jwar Isle.  In the end, I forgot to activate and swing  with my Celestial Colonade which would have put him low enough to burn out with Punishing Fire (in hand).  He got off Pulse of the Fields and my opportunity was gone.

    Sitting on my 1-2 record I drew the bye for the fourth and final round and decided to head home early (much to the delight of my wife).  This deck was a blast to play.  There are plenty of amazing interactions in the deck.  I will definitely practice with it and try to bring it out again.  One thing I noticed was that I wanted a way to put more pressure on my opponent, but only through more testing will I figure out what that should be (more Jace perhaps?).If you are looking for a deck to play, I would recommend this one, just make sure you have enough time to practice.

    Hype, and testing Grixis in Standard

    When it comes to Magic: The Gathering, hype is a strange beast. With the universal language of the internet greasing the wheels, a magic meta can spin out of control in a mere 24 hours. I fell into this trap last night playing in the latest online ptq. Today I’m going to take a look at what transpired over the 24 hours leading up to the PTQ and how I bought into the hype and got burned, and then address some of the same issues I’m dealing with in preparing my friend on the Pro Tour for PT San Diego.

    Two weeks ago when I top 8′d my first PTQ, the meta was pretty much one deck: Dark Depths / Thopter (DDT). In the two weeks leading up to that tournament, DDT was absolutely dominant and top 8′s were littered with the list all over MTGO. I was more than happy to sleeve up a very fast zoo deck to beat them to the punch; it was such a good meta-call that I could play sloppy whilst drunk and on no sleep and still go 7-1 losing only to running turn 1 blood moons- but I digress.

    The last two weeks have seen the online, Extended meta get mixed up a little bit more. There was a bit more dredge, some faeries, and a little zoo but most of the good players online were still playing DDT. I had tested some different zoo builds in that time and mainly not done great, but I finally settled on one with maindeck meddling mages with damping matrix in the sideboard and 3-1′d a daily event the night before the ptq.

    When I looked at the decklists from the event the next day, there were a LOT of zoo decks that 3-1′d or better. And then I caught the lists fromt he Premiere event that started at midnight on Thursday morning and six of the top eight decks were zoo with Knight of the Reliquary, most with maindeck Jitte and one with main deck Blood Moon!

    Well my friends and I went into crisis mode: we needed Deathmark in the sideboard; I needed Jittes, probably in the maindeck; my Goblin Guide had to be Knight now that it was going to be outclassed. My Gmail inbox was overloaded during my Thursday workday and the two hours after work leading up to the PTQ was crafting the perfect deck to beat Zoo and probably still be good against DDT.

    Guess how many Zoo decks I faced: ZERO.
    I even dropped a match to DDT, something I’d only done once and mainly do to mulligans.

    Would three maindeck Meddling Mage gotten me past my gauntlet last night? Perhaps, I did face Hive Mind, Pox Rock and Thopter Foundry three times. Did Jitte win me any games? Nope. Did I attack once with Knight of the Reliquary last night? Septuple Nope.

    I bought into the hype, and I got burned.

    A card that has received a ton of Standard buzz lately is Jace, The Mind Sculptor. I’m expecting to have to face this guy tonight at Friday Night Magic as I battle for 90 in store credit so that I can buy my own 1.5 Jaces.

    I have had the opportunity to play with and against the Mind Sculptor on Magic Workstation and so far I’m not buying into the hype.

    My friend Jason Ford is Qualified for San Diego after his top 50 finish in Austin and we’ve been testing the balls off of Grixis and the new blue cards in Worldwake and here is some of the things we’ve found.

    Treasure Hunt is doing just what you want it to. It’s smoothing out your draws and getting you a spell. Sometimes it flips another treasure hunt and it’s kind of lame and sometimes it gets you through three land and hits Earthquake after your opponent cast Martial Coup and has you dead on board.

    Calcite Snapper is better than advertised. I’ve been loving this card. It locks down a board that can’t swarm, and when you’re packing 4 Lightning Bolt and 4 Terminate you can probably keep the swarm down. Then, when your opponent over-extends to push through, you can earthquake his team or drop a land and beat in for four.

    Then there’s the aforementioned Jace. We’ve played a bunch of games with Jace and I think a blue deck won when he hit the table once, maybe twice. He’s not easy to protect as a Jund player can simply hold his Blightning or Maelstrom Pulse for when a Planeswalker hits the table. And unless you’re scrying for one right when he hits the table (which isn’t very gamebreaking) and Lightning Bolt will do.

    Grixis, mainly, has not been cutting it. The deck is no Jund. It can do some fun stuff and has some strong cards but it has struggled to get the win. After some games there are always times where an Earthquake here would’ve won it, or if this Cruel ultimatum was a Sphinx of Jwar Isle the Blue deck likely would’ve won, but Jund doesn’t normally have those games where it couldn’t draw enough to win. What Jund does is unfair, what Grixis does isn’t.

    One thing We’ve taken to doing with some of our standard builds is make a list with a bunch of singletons in it, so that we’re constantly hitting different “game plans” and generally get a taste for things that are working and arent. I would say that counters are not working right now, and spot removal is. I think if you’re playing blue and red, then you should pack Double Negative in your 75 because it’s at worst a cancel.

    A couple more things about Grixis: you can leave Mysteries of the deep on the bench, you’ve only got 4 fetches in the deck and while instant speed is good, you’re better off just playing divination if you want to draw two cards.

    Cruel Ultimatum isn’t that good. When your only 7 creatures have shroud, there’s a damn good chance you’re not getting a guy back from your graveyard. And playing things like Architects of Will is not even remotely the same as packing Mulldrifter like in the days of yore. A number of times the Grixis player has cast Cruel Ultimatum and still lost because it’s not that hard to play around discarding three cards, and in Jund when almost every creature you play is actaully two creatures, sacrificing one doesnt matter.

    The thing that is ending games for Grixis is Sphinx of Jwar Isle. No he does not beat Baneslayer Angel but you have answers for that guy in Terminate and Jace. The only thing Jund has for this guy is double blocking with Broodmate Dragon (unless you’re dead on board already), which is pretty darn narrow.

    There is some Buzz about using Everflowing Chalice to get you to Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker but that just further turns on your opponent’s maelstrom pulses. I know I’m focusing a lot on Jund right now, but if you’re not beating Vampires with this deck you need to see if you can beat Jund and UWR and we started with Jund. Grixis couldn’t beat it so we mostly moved on.

    This is the list I would run if I was going to sleeve up Grixis, using Cruel Ultimatum Only in the Board. This might get you through Jund, but vamps and other control decks are still a major issue.

    My opinion is that the blue decks are going to have trouble finishing games no matter what. Sphinx of Jwar Isle is clearly the answer in my eyes, it’s just a matter of getting to him.

    For the record, I would just play Jund. Jund may have some issues with Ajani Vengeant and UWR (though I did get a 9/9 Raging Ravine to take out some Wall of Denials), but for the most part Jund isn’t losing much. I’ve been using Jund and beating the control decks at a steady clip, doing it without Great Sable Stag to boot. A lot of your removal is dead against these control decks obviously, but savvy Jund players are terminating their Sprouting Thrinax with Oren Rief out to make a little army in their opponent’s end step to push through damage and kill planeswalkers.

    Thanks for reading,

    Mike Gemme
    Bobbysapphire on MTGO
    mike@power9pro.com

    San Juan PTQ Top 8 Report – Tribal Zoo

    When I found out that I was going to be able to write about cards for a real website on commission after ten years of playing cards, I swore I wasn’t going to allow myself to be one of those writers who drums up his personal life with exuberant stories of booze, broads and ballyhoo. However, my first PTQ top 8 happened to be occur when I was completely wasted, built my deck wrong, and stayed up 32 hours straight: From .08 to top 8.

    My Magic weekend started at FNM, which was a draft event. We had three full pods and I split in the finals of mine with the guy I had beaten to get into the top 8 of New Hampshire States last month snagging $35 in credit. I didn’t do anything that night because I had to get up at 630 to make it to Boston for the first flight of the Pre Release so that I could do two and win as many Worldwake packs for team drafting in San Diego as I could. (I have a bad, bad habit of opening packs too often. So far I’ve only opened two Worldwake packs and I have 12 left so, if you see me in SD scrounging for packs, you know that I’m back off the wagon).

    I get home around 10:30 (you can read about my escapades here) and immediately crack Lienenkugel Fireside Nut Brown (my favorite seasonal beer) and make some calls to see what’s what. My friend Steviegets is heading out to some bars with his babe, my brother is partying at college and my friend Justin is going to bed early so he can play in the 4am PTQ [/foreshadowing].

    I decide to meet up with Steve at the bar and get there first grabbing a Guinness and wandering around for a few until he gets there. Though I’m Italian, I’m currently addicted to Guinness and my liquor or choice is Jameson’s Irish Whiskey; my grandmother would not approve.

    Once Steve showed up with his gal and her friends things got a little saucier, apparently some girls were there for a bachelorette party at a random townie bar in central Massachusetts with a limo… so making fun of them was an immediate ice-breaker. Though it was my birthday in a couple days steve refused to do any shots with me, but one of his babe’s friends was into it and we ended up racing jagerbombs. I wish I could remember a lot after that, but the next thing I knew it was 2am in the morning, Steve was gone, the Jagerbomb girl was gone, I was in no shape to drive and I somehow remembered to close my tab that just happened to have all the jagerbombs on it (even when girls say they’re gonna split, they often don’t and I got burned).

    I end up getting a ride home from a girl who does not like me and makes no qualms about bitching me out the entire ride home for what happened the last time we saw each other (censored) but let’s just say I took her out for Lobster dinner and never called her again.

    So it’s about 3am and Justin is already up for the ptq and he’s amped up to play dark depths/foundry (DDT from here on out). I’m drunk talking to him online and also talking to my buddy and Pro Tour dream crusher Jason Ford who is at college in Minnesota and also wasted. He’s telling me about how he just spent about 70 tix putting Faeries together to play in the ptq. Well I’m jealous and I’m awake (and have been since 6:30) so now I’m playing in the ptq. I steal a bunch of zoo stuff from my friend andy’s account and sent him a pretty simple email: “I stole the zoo deck to play in this _____ ptq.”

    So I’m building the deck and I realize that I need a hallowed fountain, so I go back on and take the hallowed fountain because I want [card]meddling mage [/card in my sideboard. here’s the list I ended up with:

    Notice the omission of the hallowed fountain. Meaning that I had only one blue source for my 4x meddling mage in the sideboard. Notice that there are only 20 land in a 4x steppe lynx deck.

    Here’s the Sideboard

    Everyone and Everyone have been playing DDT online lately and I had been talking about extended at the PreRe and how I thought fast zoo would be a great answer to that as I felt it could really get in there if it could survive the first few rounds. This sideboard is pretty standard and every card did work for me during the tournament at some point.

    Well it’s 4am and I’m already dead tired, dreaming about things that I can do in between rounds to stay awake but really hoping that I don’t do mediocre and stay up all day for no reason.

    Round 1 vs. Failtego – Scapeshift w/ blue

    Game 1 I keep Goyf, Path, Lynx and 4 land.

    I lead with lynx and he casts condescend my goyf on 2. Next turn I drop Kird ape and Goblin Guide and hit in, pathing his tribe elder to get more damage in, seeing as it’s going to fetch him a land anyway. He refeals firespout and repeals my guide. On his turn he casts firespout, I beat in with goblin guide on mine. He gets to 7 land and casts scapeshift and I win.

    I board in meddling mages for paths and some ghost quarters in the off chance I can catch him without a basic mountain when he goes off.

    Game 2 I keep a 1 lander with lynx, 2 lightning bolt, goyf, goblin guide and tribal flames

    I lead with the guide. I draw a land on 2 and lay the goyf. I get him down to 8 and he firespouts and I rip my second tribal flames, playing both in consecutive turns to finish him out.

    Game 3 I mull to 5 and keep Nactl, Teeg, Helix, Meddling Mage, which is a pretty bad 5 but if I draw 1 land I can get everything going. Unless that land is Ghost Quarter which was my first draw. My second draw is a verdant catacombs and I run gaddock teeg into remand two turns in a row. I finally land teeg after playing a goblin guide and beating in with it revealing scapeshift on the top. So in my end step I ghost quarters him to take him off mana or take shift off the top. Luckily he searches up the land buying me time and I’m able to get in for the win with gaddock teeg/meddling mage beats.

    1-0

    Round 2 vs. Backstreet playing hive mind.

    I keept 3 land, flames, goblin guide and gaddock teeg x2.

    I rip goyf with my first draw and decide to play it on turn 2 thinking that hive mind cannot possibly combo off on turn 2. Obviously the guy has rite of flame, seething song x2, hive mind, pact of the titan and I lose with 2 teegs in my hand.

    Game 2 I keep 3 land, guide, goyf, helix, lynx.

    That’s a pretty gassy hand and I beat up on him pretty fast. He can’t go off on turn 3 and I kill him on turn 4 as a result. No interactions.

    Game 3 I keep 3 land, 2 goblin guide, steppe lynx, medding mage

    He leads with telling time on turns 1 and 2. I go goblin guide and reveal a firespout so I drop meddling mage naming firespout. On my turn 3 I rip a kird ape and drop lynx, ape, guide and he’s got one turn to combo off and doesnt and I win on turn 4.

    2-0

    Round 3 vs. Nullname playing smallpox.

    I keep 2 land, teeg, path, lynx, might of alara in game 1.

    He wins the roll and thoughtseizes gaddock teeg away. I drop my links and he casts cry of contrition on it and then putrify to strip my hand. I draw another teeg and play it, next turn I beat in with might of alara to do some damage. He drops Kitchen Finks to recoup a bit then duresses me. I double bolt him in response to get him to 1 but he putrifies teeg and drops a goyf and I cannot catch up to two swings in a row with Goyf/Finks/Treetop Village.

    I board in ancient grudges for the rack but that’s about it.

    Game 2 I keep a one lander, which wasn’t smart but since he hadn’t cast smallpox in game 1 I kind of forgot about it. I kept: 1 Land, kird ape, tarmogoyf, goblin guide, lightning bolt, path, ancient grudge which is a pretty sweet one.

    So i lead with kird ape and turn 2 I put the goblin guide out there. He smallpoxes and I lose the guide and my only land. So my board is just one GIANT kird ape. I don’t know if you’ve ever had just one creature on table, but they expand it to your whole board on MTGO and it’s pretty funny. He’s got no hand at this point so it’s draw, beat for 1, go. Eventually, I draw a bloodcrypt before I have to discard and he topdecks a goyf and starts beating in. I draw a second land, fetch up white and path it. I drop my own goyf which gets answered with a kitchen finks, which I path. He casts cry of contrition leaving me with just helix in my hand. I beat in with goyf before he can come up with a removal and end it next turn.

    3-0

    Round 4 vs. Gmomemo playing All in Red

    This guy ended up with the Whammy (9th).

    I didn’t rewatch these games, they were too painful.

    Game 1 he hit an early deus, I pathed it and beat in before he could do anything other than cast a late blood moon.

    it’s about this time I realized I just ran Juza’s list which runs a basic mountain and not a basic forest, which pretty much bones this deck. It was my friend Justin’s idea to start running basic forest in this over the mountain and I wish I thought of it when I was drunk 4 hours ago.

    Game 2 he casts a turn 1 blood moon on the play and I can’t do anything but lose.

    Game 3 I have meddling mage in my opener, I lay a land but have no play. He gets another turn 1 blood moon and I never play a spell. Lame.

    3-1.

    Here’s where my fast zoo vs. DDT theory will burn or bust (spoiler warning: it burns) out as I face 3 copies of the deck in a row.

    Round 5 vs. BadDrafter playing DDT

    The first game of this match is missing but I remember not playing around EE very well and still winning off of a topdecked path to exile to kill his token when I was otherwise (obviously) dead.

    for all three of these games my boarding plan was as follows:

    -2 might of alara
    -4 steppe lynx
    -1 mountain
    -1 scalding tarn
    -3 Gaddock Teeg

    +3 Ghost Quarters
    +4 Meddling mage
    +3 Ancient Grudge
    +1 Yixlid Jailer

    Game 2 was a shitshow. I kept Nacatl, Flames, Meddling Mage, Goyf, Helix and 2 lands. He opens with double bob. I have no drop but I name meddling mage on thopter on turn 2. He EEs killing both his bobs and my meddling mage and goyf, leaving me with just Nacatl. He drops hexmage and depths but doesnt crack the token… which a lot of ppl don’t do (I used to not do it, but I learned that there’s usually not a reason to hold it in a lot of cases). Short story: I topdeck ghost quarter, play it, and beat him down with the nacatl and burn before he can find another way to beat me.

    4-1

    It’s about this time that I realize that my car is in the middle of downtown Worcester, MA and I need a ride. I call steve to come get me to bring me to my car and we get back to my place with seconds to spare. he goes home to shower and get coffee and will come back later on.

    Round 6 vs. SipitHolla w/ DDT

    Again game 1 is missing, but I know I won the game, I’m just not sure how.

    Game 2 I have to mull to 4 and never get anything going. he gets the thopter combo when he’s still at 14 and I really just lose. (this is the only game in the swiss portion of the tournament that I lose to DDT)

    Game 3 I keept Land, Land, Goyf, Ape, Flames, Ancient Grudge.

    I lead with ape and follow it up with goyf. These guys beat in uncontested for a bit and then I cast tribal flames to put the nail in the coffin.

    5-1

    Round 7 vs. Fabian playing DDT

    Game 1 I keep land x2, Kird ape x2, Bolt x2, Lightning Helix

    I drop my apes and start beating in, eventually I get him to 11 with 3 lands in play and he drops hexmage and depths and pops the token. Luckily I’m still holding my two bolts and my helix, and I topdeck tribal flames for the overkill.

    Unfortunately game 2 was missing from my replays =(. I do remember that I almost ran out of time and got disconnected, and reconnected with less than a minute left. I had Meddling mage on Engineered Explosives with a nacatl and then a second meddling mage, steve and I couldn’t really decide what to name. I thought thopter but he said it didnt matter (thought I can’t remember why), turns out he did have a thopter and it slowed me down a bit, but I was able to drop Yixlid Jailer beats to finish the game with less than 30 seconds left.

    So now I’m in round 8 and kind of freaking out. I’ve been close to a top 8 before, but then I’d been well rested, I’d eaten and hydrated during the day. At this point it’s about 11:30 am and I’ve been up for 29 hours. In between rounds I’ve done stupid shit like dishes, trying to sleep (which didn’t happen once) and talking on the phone to justin and jason. I even played some standard games in the casual room but that just made me more tired.

    Round 8 vs. Sergio_Dominaria playing Mystical Teachings

    I keep 7 with Kird ape, Land x2, Teeg, Goblin Guide, Steppe Lynx and Might of alara.

    I lead with ape which he paths. Then I drop lynx and beat in with it plus might. he drops engineered explosives so I attack and he pops it, then I play tribal flames to get him to 2 and drop a kird ape that I was holding back from when he dropped Engineered Explosives. I swing in with the ape but he plays teaching for Path to Exile tapping out. I drop Gaddock Teeg and he has nothing and Teeg does the last two.

    I keep in the Teegs for this game but bring in Meddling mages, Tormod’s crypt and ancient grudges.

    In game 2 I keept Kird ape x2, goyf, lightning bolt, flames and 2 land.

    my first draw is tormod’s crypt, so I lay it and kird ape, then I pop a fetch hoping to play my goyf but he plays shadow of doubt to stop me so I just lay the second ape. Next turn I swing and he paths one (kind of counter intuitive to his shadow of doubt play) and I fetch up a plains and bolt him and pass. I draw a second goyf so I run the other one out there to get mana leaked in my second main phase. I keep pounding away at him with my kird ape which he decides to repeal. I then drop Teeg and Kird ape holding Flames, Helix and Goyf.

    Teeg and Kird ape beat him down to 7 and he drops finks to go to 9. So I helix it in my end step and pop tormod’s crypt with the trigger on the stop so it can’t persist. I rip Goblin guide and swing to drop him to 3 then Drop my goyf hoping to draw out a counter but the goyf sticks and I have 10 attack on table with a tribal flames that can do 4 damage, but he still has 2 mana up so I pass. He taps 5 for baneslayer angel which now puts him out of range of my attacks. I rip meddling mage and drop it, he thinks for a bit and lets it stick. I have a decision to make: he has two mana up. I have seen one counter all game and that’s mana leak, so the odds would say to name spell snare. The odds always end up screwing me, but I name spell snare anyway and go for it with the flames and I win and I’m in the top 8.

    I decide to take a shower but keep all the same clothes on, but I feel I might’ve washed most of my luck off of me. I won round 8 very quickly and it was a long wait to top 8. We went over the decks and in the top 8 were five DDT decks, my zoo, the mystical teachings I beat in round 8 and the UB control deck that went 8-0.

    I finish in third after swiss and get paired against Tezzerator, the guy that beat my friend in round 4. He’s playing DDT.

    I keep Lynx, Lynx Goyf and lands on the draw and rip a goyf so my luck is obviously still around. I lead with lynx and decide to go for the blitz after I rip might of alara and swing for 8, but he has the repeal, so I just redrop Lynx and pass. I swing and drop Lynx and a goyf on 3 with him at 18. He taps out his four lands to play thopter and sword. I play a fetch, cast tribal flames and swing for 12 to put him on 2 and finish him off with a bolt, dealing 18 damage in one turn. Suck on that Loam Lion.

    So obviously my luck is still with me and I’m feeling really good after that total asskicking…….

    Game 2 I Keep goblin guide, keeping 3 land, bolt, meddling mage, goyf

    my first draw is helix. and I lead with the guide. He reveals depths. Turn 2 I swing in and he reveals hexmage, so I cast meddling mage naming Hexmage, which he deathmarks. I goyf then lay a freshly ripped ghost quarters. He deathmarks the goyf and I swing in with goblin guide which he repeals. He drops the thopter combo while at about 14 life and I can’t touch him from there.

    I’m pretty bummed that my hot hand got stomped so quickly, but I have high hopes as that’s the only game I’ve lost where I haven’t had to mull to 4 vs. this deck…………………………………

    Game 3 I mull to 5 and probably should’ve kept but boy my brother and steve convinced me that I couldn’t win with it, so I kept going to 4 and didnt hit a land. I never got to play a spell that game despite the game going for like 10 turns and my ptq run was over.

    After losing, my focus and adrenaline went away and I felt really sick, like hungover. I was up for 32 hours straight, I got wasted and sobered up in an 8 hour span of wakedness (something I think your body usually recovers from when you sleep) and I crashed hard.

    Some thoughts about zoo. I’ve ran with it a little bit since then and while it has been good vs. DDT, other things are still out there that give it problems.

    One strategy I’ve seen work is to put damping matrix (some people have them in the main, this might be a stretch) and Bloodbraids to try and give yourself more chances to get it out. Damping matrix does blow out DDT a bit, but it’s not that hard to play around because DDT runs Echoing Truth and Into the Roil which bounce it and can be searched out by muddle.

    If I were to continue running this list, I’d stick with Steppe Lynx over Loam Lion because of it’s explosiveness. I know I also errantly ran 20 lands, but I’ve run 21 lands since then and have been wholly disappointed as to how much flooding I’ve faced. I know I ran really hot in this ptq and had some really lucky topdecks and got past opponents who I played poorly against, but I felt the deck gave me a lot of chances to do that. I also wouldn’t run might of alara anymore, because of repeal and echoing truth being really popular right now.

    That’s it for me.

    Mike Gemme
    Bobbysapphire on MODO
    mike@power9pro.com