Tag Archives: limited

Doubling_Cube

MTGO Videos – Cube Draft 4

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Zak

Mirrodin Beseiged Prerelease Albuquerque Tournament Report

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

ThrunIwantyou

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

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

Artifacts

Colored

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magic Online Videos – Cube Draft 1

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

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

Enjoy!

Grand Prix Toronto – Tournament Report (Scars of Mirrodin Sealed)

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of traveling across Canada to Toronto, a city I had never visited save the airport. I left Edmonton shortly after my first class on Friday, and met up with my uncle who was my traveling partner for the weekend. He had an old friend in Mississauga (A city adjacent to Toronto where the event was actually held) and we decided to go together.

Our flight was rather uneventful, and rather than make the 30-minute walk down from our hotel to the International Center, we decided to spend the evening relaxing after the 4 hour flight. Unfortunately this meant I didn’t get one of the sick Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon playmats they were giving out, but I was thankful for the rest.

In the morning, we bussed down to see the center filled with people. Already I could see that this event would be the largest I had ever been to, making the 100 person PTQs back in Alberta seem like an FNM.

Slightly bigger than a 100-man PTQ.
Slightly bigger than a 100-man PTQ.

When the seatings were posted for deck construction, I was surprised to see that I only had 1 bye (from rating) when I should have had 3 (from winning a GPT). After a walk by the judges station, I found out that several other players had the same problem, and the judges assured me that everything would be sorted out after deck construction.

Before handing out product, we were informed that 1462 players had sat down to battle Scars of Mirrodin sealed deck. After registering and swapping sealed decks, this is what I was presented with:

“If I was in my local store and opened an Opal I would jump for joy, but I did not travel 1000 miles to open an Opal,” – Brad Nelson

While I can’t say I was as disappointed as Mr. Nelson who ended up losing in the finals of this event, I was much more excited at the prospect of winning games with Hoard-Smelter Dragon than I was at tapping my Mox Opal.

The first thing I (and many other players) do when looking at a sealed pool is to look at the rares. A powerful rare like the aforementioned Dragon can highly incentivize the playing of one colour over another. Unlike Magic Online, I can’t apply sorting filters to my sealed pool instantly, so I looked through my pool to find Copperline Gorge, Myr Propagator, Tempered Steel and Livewire Lash in addition to the dragon and mox. Of those, the only ones which really shone were the steel and the dragon, so I kept those red and white cards in mind as I persued the rest of my pool.

Looking at my white I only had a few spells that I would be happy to maindeck: Glimmerpoint Stag, Kembas Skyguard, Tempered Steel, and Arrest. While I’m sorely tempted by the Steel, I don’t think I’ll be able to play white unless I have a Gold Myr or some other fixing to consistently get double white on turn 3. In addition, I would need a sizable number of artifact creatures to boost up. While splashing the Arrest was a possibility, I moved white to the side.

In blue we have a few playable cards, the best of which is the Riddlesmith. Bonds of Quicksilver, Disperse, Sky-Eel School and Lumengrid Drake are all playable, but nothing spectacular.

Our black is pretty underwhelming as well. There are only a few poison cards and the non-poison cards don’t exactly get me excited. Flesh Allergy is fine, but it’s not splashable and there’s really nothing else I’d be able to back it up with. I had to start hoping that my red, green, and artifacts would be enough to carry this deck, as my pool wasn’t looking very promising.

Red looked like it could provide the makings of a base colour. We have some good removal in the form of double Shatter and a Galvanic Blast. We also have Bloodshot Trainee, a card which I think is being vastly underrated. If you get the guy online, he will win you the game. Simple. There are so many ways to get him going, most obviously equipment, but less obviously so Vulshok Heartstoker, Untamed Might and Trigon of Rage, two of which our pool has. I’m a fan of the Heartstoker, as it allows you to push through some extra damage in the early game, in addition to turning on the trainee. Barrage Ogre is a card that I haven’t had a ton of experience with, but the few results I have have been relatively positive. Finally, Blade-Tribe Berserkers is a card that’s been really good for me, as sometimes a Hill Giant just gets there, and the metalcraft bonus is extremely relevant when it triggers. Red definitely looked like it had the potential to be a main colour, and I moved on to green.

Green had some solid cards, namely Untamed Might,Slice in Twain, and Acid Web Spider, along with pseudo-green card Sylvok Replica. There is also the Alpha Tyrranax a card I personally underrated until very recently, as the only real answers to it are Turn to Slag and Arrest. Again our green doesn’t have enough depth to support an infect deck, so it looks like red, followed by green and white are our best colours.

Looking at the artifacts, we a fair bit of decent equipment in the form of Livewire Lash, Grafted Exoskeleton, Strider Harness, Barbed Battlegear and Bladed Pinions. I’m especially a huge fan of the battlegear, as it turns any creature into a fighting force. Unfortunately, you have to ensure that your deck had enough creatures with 2 or more toughness to make sure that you can equip it with any regularity. We have a couple of Myr, one of which is on-colour, as well as a Contagion Clasp. This was the first Clasp I had opened in a limited event, and I was suitably happy about it.

Here’s the list I ended up registering:

A few notes about this deck.

1. It is built incorrectly. I realized after that I probably should have splashed the Arrest, as I didn’t have any answers to large, non-artifact bombs. As well, I might’ve liked Alpha Tyrannax mainboard, although that might have made my deck to top-heavy. I probably could’ve cut the Saberclaw Golem and/or a Blade-Tribe Berserkers for either of these options. Wall of Tanglecord was also a consideration.

2. Liquimetal Coating plays a role as an aggressive card here. This lets us turn all the artifact removal we have into Vindicate, and it also lets us get a great deal more value out of our Barrage Ogre. Although we can use it to turn on our 3 metalcraft spells, that wasn’t its intended primary function.

3. Barbed Battlegear only kills our 2 mana myr, and nothing else. Therefore it’s operating at pretty much max efficiency.

4. Bloodshot Trainee has 4 ways to get online including 2 equipment and 2 one-shot effects. I’ve found as long as you have 2 equipment for him, everything else is just gravy.

5. Although many players have advocated running 16 land in a for what with a bunch of myr to serve as acceleration, my testing group and I found out that you almost always still want 17 land, as an early Embersmith or Contagion Clasp can crush your dreams of making your 4th land drop. Patrick Chapin recently wrote an article about people cheating on their land bases by playing too few, and complaining about mana screws afterwords. With our slightly higher curve we want to make land drops consistently, so 17 land is definitely warranted.

Let’s get to the action, shall we?

Rounds 1-3

Chippy (front) and Steve Argyle (back) sign cards for players.  Chippy's line was easily an hour long.
Chippy (front) and Steve Argyle (back) sign cards for players. Chippy's line was easily an hour long.

The problem with the byes was fixed, but the tournament organizers messed up everyone’s country. I was playing for the states and many other players were also playing for countries in which they did not reside. This never did end up getting fixed, and I can only hope that for events like worlds they get this straightened out. Anyway, I used my byes to get a ton of cards signed by artists Chippy (famous pieces include Lotus Cobra, Abyssal Persecutor and Doom Blade) and Steve Argyle (famous pieces include Slave of Bolas, Admonition Angel, and Chandra Ablaze). It was really great being able to meet and talk with them face-to-face, and I look forward to meeting more artists in the future.

3 – 0

Round 4: vs James

I came into this round relatively happy with my deck. Action starts early in the game with me Galvanic Blasting his myr after he missed a land drop to put him on 2 mountains for mana. I followed that up with a Liquimetal Coating and attempted to further exacerbate his mana screw by Shattering a land. Naturally, he drew runner-runner land and was back in it. I was beating in with a 5/5 Acid Web Spider thanks to Livewire Lash. He brings the beatdown with a metal army boosting up Ezuris Brigade to an 8/8. When he attacks I cast[ Untamed Might on my tapped spider to trigger the lash and Shock his Snapsail Glider, taking him off metalcraft. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as shortly afterwards my opponent aimed a metalcrafted Galvanic Blast at me to finish me off.

In game 2 I bring in a couple plains and the Arrest, and we battle back and forth for a bit. I cast Contagion Clasp for the first time in my life to take out an Embersmith and keep augmenting my board presence. In the end, there’s a situation where he’s at 6 and I’m at 15. He has a Vulshok Replica and I had some relevant creature, I forgot to note down which. I debate my various lines of attack (I had some other relevant spell in my hand i could use to ensure the win next turn[/card], but I could run the option of attacking and winning with Untamed Might if he didn’t block. He fell for it and we were shuffling up for game 3.

A note on Untamed Might: everyone knows this card is insnae in the infect deck. However, some people claim that it’s not good in any other archetype. Those people are mistaken, as Untamed Might is a solid combat trick that can serve as removal for some of the bigger threats in the set. A combat trick that scales makes it also very possible to simply steal games from nowhere as I have done on multiple occasions. Seriously, the card is really good.

In game 3 I’m the beatdown as I one again equip Livewire Lash on a guy and start beating in. When he taps out for Turn to Slag to kill my lashed beater, I realize that I’ve got the game won. I cast Galvanic Blast at his face in response before my metalcraft goes offline, and use the Lash trigger to Shock him. I then untap and use Untamed Might on a myr to finish the game.

4 – 0

Round 5: vs Matt Nass

This was my first match against a pro so to speak, and I was a little nervous when facing down the Channel Fireball writer. We made some nice conversation before the round started and then we were off to the races.

Matt took the draw and came out strong by Contagion Clasping my turn 2 myr. His Golem Artisan was quickly dispatched by my Bloodshot Trainee (powered by Vulshok Heartstoker). He dropped double Darksteel Axe with no creatures to but them on, until the next turn where he dropped Myr Battlesphere. However, it wasn’t enough to stop a Golem Artisan from flying over and taking out the rest of his life.

In game 2, Matt leads with a Darksteel Axe, and follows up with a Glint Hawk Idol. I have a Sylvok Replica which I crack to kill the idol. Maty misses his third land drop for a few turns and I’m forced to run out an Acid-Web Spider without killing anything to keep up the beats. I resolve my Hoard-Smelter Dragon which starts to dominate the game from there. Matt showed me his hand afterwards which was full of goodies like Myr Battlesphere that very well might have beat me had he hit his land drops. However, I’m not one to turn down a win, and I thanked Matt for the games.

5 – 0

Round 6: vs Thomas

In the 6th round, I start off with a myr on turn 2, although I miss my 4th land drop. I Slice in Twain his Chrome Steed only for him to buy it back with a Razor Hippogriff. In order to deal with the flier, I used my Liquimetal Coating and Sylvok Replica in combination. However, he gets double Chrome Steed to resolve with metalcraft, and his 4/4s overwhelm me.

In game 3 we trade pretty evenly for a while and I stabilize behind a sideboarded Wall of Tanglecord equipped with both a Bladed Pinions and a [/card]Livewire Lash[/card]. However, my defense is decimated upon his casting a Carnifex Demon, which pretty much beats me out from there.

5 – 1

Round 7: vs Mitchell

Mitchell and I talk before our match and it turns out that he used to live in Edmonton too before moving to eastern Canada. Early on he Trinket Mages for Darksteel Axe, but I reply with my Bloodshot Trainee and equip it with my Livewire Lash. My machine-gun quickly decimates his board and pretty much carries the game.

Games 2 and 3 were very similar, but for him. Both games he got his Darksteel Axe via Trinket Mage and pumped up his own Bloodshot Trainee. Again, the 4 damage per turn just destroys every threat I can play, and I’m quickly scooping up my cards. As well, I mulliganned to 4 in game 3, which made it slightly harder to pull out a win.

5 – 2

Round 8: vs Samuel

In round 8, both my opponent and I need to win 2 more rounds to make day 2. I keep a slower hand than I would like (I should’ve mulliganned, I just hated the prospect of mulling in such a crucial match). While I’ve become better at taking mulligans in the past year or so, I think I still need to take more when I get hands that in all likelihood won’t win me the game.

Samuel leads off with a Riddlesmith and a Trinket Mage for Sylvok Lifestaff, while I try and mount a defense with with an equipped Blade-Tribe Berserkers. He has the Turn to Slag, and punishes my slow draw to the point where I can’t recover.

In game 3 I don’t have many notes, but what I do remember is going slightly on tilt after he cast a Darksteel Myr. Normally this isn’t a card I’m terribly afraid of but I was racking my brain to see what my deck had to deal with it and I came up with nothing. Was I going to lose this match because I couldn’t get through a Darksteel Myr? Of course, in hindsight I had Contagion Clasp, Golem Artisan and Hoard-Smelter Dragon as outs, as well as my sideboarded Arrest. However, he had enough removal to deal with my team and then cast a few relevant spells that shot me down.

Final Record: 5 – 3.

So there it is. I was out of the running for day 2, and my final standing was 273rd out of 1426. I chatted with a few friends and then headed back to my hotel room, ready for a day of drafting and legacy. I also took in the judge booth, which is an experimental feature where you get asked 3 rules questions, and get awarded prizes based on the number you got correct. Seeing as I’m set to take my level 1 Judge test this Sunday (wish me luck), I knew I had to ace the questions. Of course I did and walked away with a couple of foils and a pack for my troubles.

For those of you that haven’t attended a GP yet, I highly encourage you to do so. It was a fantastic experience except for the fact that our plane heading back got hit by lightning, causing us to return to the Toronto airport. What would’ve had me home at 11PM local time had me home at 4AM instead, with a class the next morning – yay.

This was my first major event and it really only whetted my appetite for more. The 2011 GP Schedule has been announced and I’d love to make it to Montreal for the GP there. I’m PTQing this weekend in Calgary, so I’ll have another report sometime up next week.

Major thanks go to my testing team at Wizard’s Comics who helped me prepare: Matt, Brian, Blaine, Stephen, Jim, and everyone else. Thanks so much. Thanks also to Skyfox Games who put on a great tournament considering the attendance, and for quickly fixing the hiccough with the byes. Thanks to the judges who did anadmirable job, who worked nonstop for most of the weekend. In talking to my friend Matt who judged, I discovered that they worked full days on both days, and I really appreciate all the work judges do.

As always, you can feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or article suggestions via email (zak-AT-power9pro.com), via twitter (www.twitter.com/zturchan), or in Magic Online (zturchan).

Cheers,

Zak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 1

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

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

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

1 – 0

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

1 – 1

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Zak

Tales From The Magic 2011 Prerelease: Part 2

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of “Tales from the Prerelease”. I had the pleasure of attending 2 separate prereleases this past weekend because I just couldn’t get enough of the new core set: Magic 2011. Tomorrow is the set’s official release, and I hope you’ve got your boxes preordered to make sure you’re getting one of the nice new Birds of Paradise promos, I know I have.

Let’s look at what I opened in my other Magic 2011 Prerelease, shall we?

Zak’s Sealed Pool

Here’s the deck that I created.

This deck is very midrange, with most of the punch coming in the form of Cudgel Troll and Greater Basilisk. The double Crystal Ball ensures a steady stream of relevant spells in the later turns of the game, and our suite of removal should hopefully provide enough room for our green creatures to bash in.

One card I was not sold on at all was the Necrotic Plague, because it seemed like it would run counter to our plan of using Cudgel Troll as a main beater, but after some convincing by a friend who also opened it, I agreed to give it a shot. I also considered the inclusion of double Mind Rot, as that card is usually considered good in limited. However, I wanted to make sure that I had enough creatures to keep up a steady stream of guys.

Regarding the splash colour, I chose Blinding Mage because of it’s ability to deal with bombs. This quality made it more attractive to me than the double Pyroclasm. However, I understood that my splash colour might change in sideboarding, so I ensured I had a supply of basic lands on hand. Blue also is a potentially attractive splash, boasting Mind Control, Diminish, Mana Leak, and even Flashfreeze. I would not fault anyone for choosing one of these other colours as the splash, but the Blinding Mage is more universal while being less intense on our mana.

Let’s see how the rounds turned out!

Round 1: vs Garret

Garret is a local player who has a strange affinity for goblins. Having sat next to him during the sealed, I jokingly asked him if he was playing the Goblin Chieftan that I saw he opened. He gave an ambiguous response, and we were off to the races. The game started off slow, with the first play being my turn 4 Prized Unicorn, which quickly met its end at the hands of Garrets Doom Blade. I followed up with a Cudgel Troll, leaving green mana open for regeneration. Garret cast a Stone Golem the next turn, but I still bashed in with my troll, knocking him to 16. I follow up with a Greater Basilisk, and Garret suicides his Golem into my snake, trying to bluff a trick. In the absence of one, he Gravediggers it back to his hand, and lands an Ancient Hellkite. However, his life total is at a precarious 7, and he opts to trade his hellkite for my basilisk when I attack. He casts another Gravedigger, and brings his dragon back, but with him at 1 life now, he has to leave his dragon back to block. Once he commits more of a force to the battlefield and dispatches my Liliana’s Specter with a Chandras Outrage, he is able to attack with the dragon and burn my Blinding mage to cinders. However, I topdeck an Assassinate, and the game is over in short order.

For game 2, I board out my white splash, as well as 2 Black Knights and the Nantuko Shade. Boarding out 3 cards that want double black extremely early lets me deepen my splash, as I bring in 3 Islands, Flashfreeze, Mind Control and Mana Leak.

Garret starts off with a Terramorphic Expanse for a mountain, and brings out Runeclaw Bear and Llanowar Elves. My first play is Cudgel Troll on turn 4, and we both cast Prized Unicorns on our successive turns. On turn 5, I’m staring at Mitotic Slime and Flashfreeze. I make the greedy play and assume he will not have a turn 6 Ancient Hellkite, but he does, and I quickly die because I didn’t leave my counter mana open.

In game 3 I cast a turn 3 Cultivate, and get two Islanda because I have Mind Control in my hand. I cast Greater Basilisk on turn 4, and draw some cards with Sign in Blood on the next turn. His attempt to Doom Blade my snake is stopped by a Mana Leak. I add further pressure with Mitotic Slime, and Mind Control his only creature: a Garruks Packleader. When he drops a Yavimaya Wurm, it simply isn’t enough.

1 – 0

Round 2: vs Shane

I start this round off with a mulligan to 5, and he puts out a Goblin Balloon Brigade enchanted with an Unholy Strength. Although Quag Sickness takes care of the ballooners, I’m quickly facing down a Juggernaut, with no removal to stop it. I manage to put out a steady stream of blockers but he eventually Fireballs my last blockers and steamrolls me to death with his war machine.

I board in Naturalize, Solemn Offering, and another plains to take care of both his auras (ideally as a combat trick) or his Juggernaut. The game starts off in an eerie fashion, with both of us having turn 2 Black Knights and turn 3 Lilianas Specter. He resolves a Royal Assasin which puts a hamber on any offense I could possibly mount. However, his Juggernaut does not get to go on the rampage that it did in game 1 due to my Naturalize, and I resolve Cudgel Troll, Giant Spider and Greater Basilisk to act as a solid defense until I can draw removal for his assassin. He eventually casts Act of Treason on my troll, and I respond by putting a regeneration shield on it (all that my mana would allow). He attacks with it, and then uses both the Assassin’s ability and an Assassinate to do away with the regenerating troll. Just in time, I draw my own Assassinate to kill his source of removal. When Shane starts casting spells like Barony Vampire and Unholy Strength in the late game, my more powerful cards like Mitotic Slime and Garruks Packleader begin to dominate and clinch the game for me.

After seeing the assassin, I actually board out my extra white and bring in the blue package, hoping to Mind Control or counter the assassin, while leaving Naturalize in to deal with his artifacts and auras. In game 3, he starts of slow with an Elixir of Immortality, and missing his 4th land drop. I however, have no such problems as I Cultivate into a Cudgel Troll with regeneration mana open. Shane does have his Royal Assassin, but I’m more than happy to Mind Control it. We each build up creatures until Shane decides to wipe the board with a Destructive Force. However, I am able to rebuild my mana much easier than shane does, and I bring out a Greater Basilisk in only a few turns, which does in Shane, who’s still struggling for land after his board wipe.

2 – 0

Round 3: vs Atilla

I start off with a Black Knight, and cast Necrotic Plague on his Cyclops Gladiator, trading in my knight. I cast my Greater Basilisk on turn 5, which looks quite impressive compared to his 5 drop: a Serras Ascendant. He does resolve an Earth Servant as a 4/9, but when my team grows to include another basilisk and a Lilianas Specter. When he starts to hit a bit of a mana glut, I capitalize and win out with my team.

In game 2, I board in my blue package again, including the Diminish. While my start is pretty lackluster with a Black Knight, Cultivate, and not much else. Atilla pumps up a hasty Vulshok Berserker[/card[ with Holy Strength and then brings out [card]Earth Servant. Unable to draw a Greater Basilisk, he is able to attack me down to 5 and finish me off with a Lava Axe.

Game 3 is all me as I play Black Knight followed by back-to-back Lilianas Specters. His lone Vulshok Berserker simply doesn’t do enough when I bring out a Garruks Packmaster as well, and he dies to my team when he cant mount a defense.

3 – 0

Round 4: vs Matt

I’ve heard rumours of Matt’s supposedly unstoppable deck, so I’m a little bit anxious going into the round. He plays a turn 3 Cultivate and casts Acidic Slime on turn 4 to screw me out of green mana. I’m able to play out Lilianas Specter, Black Knight, and Necrotic Plague, but soon my hand becomes clogged with uncastable green spells. Matt brings out a Fauna Shaman and tutors for a Sun Titan. To add insult to injury, he equips it with a Sword of Vengeance, and pretty much wrecks me.

I board in the blue package again, hoping to counter his bombs before they start to affect the game too much. He Cultivates again on turn 3, and brings out a turn 4 Garruks Packleader. I am able to resolve a Cudgel Troll and Mana Leak his Sun Titan. However, he has double Pacifism for two of my blockers and I die off in short order.

3 – 1

Round 5: vs Liam

Liam starts the game off with a Goblin Tunneler, and follows it up with a turn 3 Manic Vandal. I resolve my Prized Unicorn on turn 4, but he replies with a Sword of Vengeance. However, a draw of double Greater Basilisk is able to stave off his weaker creatures, even the ones who wield the sword. He ends up being stuck on 4 lands, which is hard with the sword’s equip cost of 3. When I bring a Cudgel Troll to the battlefield, he can’t defend himself and quickly keels over.

In game 2 I get a turn 3 Crystal Ball, which I follow up with Blinding Mage. He casts Reassembling Skeleton and Diabolic Tutor. He plays his tutored-for Sword of Vengeance and throws it on a Child of Night for a commanding presence. However, the mage makes the sword almost useless, and I manage to Assassinate his 4/6 Earth Servant. When I bring a fighting force of Nantuko Shade, Garruks Packleader to the battlefield, he can do little as all his threats are either locked down or destroyed.

Final Record: 4 -1

My X – 1 record nabs me half a box worth of store credit, and second place in the tournament. As before, here’s my segment on my top cards of the day.

Top Cards

Crystal Ball
Although not mentioned in detail during my match analysis, this card has proved itself to be amazing. If you can resolve one early, your card quality becomes simply amazing compared to your opponent. You almost never hit a dead draw and can dig very effectively for answers or lands of a particular colour. If you’re digging for a specific card, you can scry at the end of your opponent’s turn and during your own upkeep to dig 4 cards deep before drawing for a turn. The fact that such library manipulation is staple to a colourless card is also noteworthy, as it can give green and red decks that traditionally have little card manipulation the power and consistency that they need as the game progresses to the later stages. I can easily see this card getting picked within the first 3 picks in a draft, and it should be played in every sealed deck you open it in.

Greater Basilisk
Maybe it’s the fact I had 3 of these guys, but they served me admirably throughout the course of the game. They provide both an excellent offense when against a walling opponent, and can defend against most of the formats ground-based creatures without risking their life. When building my deck I had doubts about how good they would prove to me, but rest assured, my fears have been assuaged. I’ll always be happy to have this guy an in any green deck, as he makes your opponent’s gameplay extremely difficult.

Cultivate
While many players originally thought this card was amazing, there are some who don’t realize how ridiculous this card is. Not only does it ramp your mana and ensure that you make a land drop on the text turn, but it helps you fix mana for both splashes or double colour commitments easily. This card is the absolute nuts, and is one of the most potent 3-drops that green has.

That’s it for now, stay tuned for next week when I go into detail about drafting Magic 2011, and a I launch a video series of my exploits on Magic Online. If you want to contact me, email me at zak -AT- power9pro.com or sound off in the comments below.

Cheers,

Zak

Tales from the Magic 2011 Prerelease!

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of “Tales from the Prerelease”. Today is the first of 2 reports form the Wizard’s Comics prereleases, so stay tuned tomorrow for another one. I hope everyone enjoyed their first taste of Magic 2011 (I know I did). This core set is one of best core set’s ever, and I truly enjoyed playing limited with it. Without further ado, let’s see what awaited me in my sealed pool.

Zak’s Sealed Pool

And here’s the deck I built:

Zak’s Sealed Deck

This deck has an aggressive edge to it, chiefly because of the 3 Garruks Companions. Note that I’m normally not a huge fan of the card, but the potential to have a reliably aggressive base green deck was tempting, so I tried it out. This deck has some mid-game flier that keep up the pressure, and has a solid late game with Mind Control, Sword of Vengeance and some fatties to see it through to the end. The white splash gives us 2 solid removal options, as well as another quality flyer to get in for damage when we need to.

Round 1: vs Wilson

I started the first game on the draw, and quickly cast a Garruks Companion. Unfortunately, he hits a turn 3 Lilianas Specter making me discard a card. Unfortunately, I don’t draw land on either turns 3 or 4, and he bolsters his army with the likes of Juggernaut and Vulshok Berserker. When I do hit my land drop, I drop Augury Owl and Sacred Wolf, but they simply can’t stand up to Wilson’s bomb: Inferno Titan.

Game 2 is more even with me getting out a turn 3 Garruks Companion, met again by Lilianas Specter. I get a devastating turn 4 Juggernaut which outclasses Wilson’s play of Arc Runner. A Foresee on my turn lets me dig to ensure my continued stream of spells, and I cast Pacifism on his Specter to ensure that my Juggernaut gets through. When Wilson doesn’t have an answer to my extra 3 points of damage in the form of a Giant Growth, he packs it in and we go to game 3.

Although i’m on the draw, I accelerate quickly with a first-turn Llanowar Elves. Wilson’s drop is just as good, and he casts a Ember Hauler. I play a forest on turn 2, and leave Giant Growth up rather than casting the Gargoyle Sentinel in my hand, because I want to ensure that I get out a turn 3 Giant Spider. He plays a Goblin Piker and, in a moment of confusion, attacks his hauler into my spider. It turns out that he had forgotten that damage doesn’t stack anymore, and admitted his play mistake may have cost him the game. We escalate the size of our armies with me casting a Garruks Companion and a Duskdale Wurm, and him bringing out a Howling Banshee and a Juggernaut. When I finally draw Sword of Vengeance and slap it on a Garruks Packleader, Wilson extends the hand.

1 – 0

Round 2: vs Jordan

I start the second round on the play with my aggressive start of a turn 2 Garruks Companion. He drops a Bloodthrone Vampire on his turn, and follows up with Blinding Mage. He Unsummons my 3/2 beater when I swing with it, but I Negate it, intending to capitalize on his lack of a fourth land. He eventually casts a Stabbing Pain on my companion, which I quickly replace with a Giant Spider. He casts a Cloud Elemental in an effort to break through, but another Garruks Companion shows up to make his potential attacks unprofitable. When he does draw his 4th land, he taps his mage to tap my 3/2, and then Assassinates it. He casts a Gargoyle Sentinel and an Assault Griffin. I start to gain advantage by bringing out my Sword of Vengeance, and equipping it on my third companion. A Juggernaut takes out his Gargoyle, and I cast a Spined Wurm. We eventually make it to a board position where if I draw a creature, I win by giving it haste with the sword, and I pull out the Assault Griffin to win a very evenly matched game.

In game 2 he gets a slow start while I come racing out of the gates with a Blinding Mage, Llanowar Elves, and Gargoyle Sentinel. His first play is a turn 5 Serra Angel, but when I draw my Sword of Vengeance, he has to make some suboptimal blocks to stay alive. When I cast Foresee into a Pacifism for his Azure Drake, he scoops up his cards.

2 – 0

Round 3: vs Adam

Having scouted Adam (and the rest of the 2-0 bracket) earlier, I knew he was packing a red-white-black deck with Day of Judgment, Fireball, and double Corrupt, so I came in expecting almost all my cards to hit some sort of removal. I get a solid draw of Garruks Companion and Sacred Wolf on turns 2 and 3 respectively. He casts Quag Sickness on my 3/2, and brings out a Howling Banshee which trades for my Juggernaut. After a timely Mind Rot to empty my hand, he brings out an Inferno Titan to do me in.

Because so much of Adam’s removal was damage-based, I sideboarded in my Leyline of Vitality, thinking it might help me out. I get a turn 2 Garruks Companion followed again by Sacred Wolf, which trades with his Blinding Mage. However, when I cast Azure Drake, he wrecks my board with his Day of Judgment. My last 2 cards get Mind Rotted away, and he keeps up the pressure with a Nantuko Shade. When I topdeck the useless green Leyline, I extend my hand.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Do not play Leyline of Vitality. Seriously. It only works when you have creatures out, and in order to get decent value it needs to be in your opening hand, or you have to have a sizeable army. In retrospect, I would have been better off with another creature.

2 – 1

Round 4: vs Lorenzo

Lorenzo is one of the best local players, who usually only comes to big events. Having beat him in the Extended PTQ this year, I’m sure he was out for revenge. I start off strong with a Llanowar Elves and an Augury Owl. The vast improvement of this Owl over Sage Owl becomes apparent when I ship no less than 3 forests to the bottom of my deck. We trade guys for a while until I land a Juggernaut. Lorenzo offered the trade by blocking it with Barony Vampire, but I had the Giant Growth to ensure my war-machine could keep on wrecking the place. When I had the Pacifism for his last chump-blocker, my Juggernaut was able to steamroll its way to victory.

In game 2 we both start slowly, with a turn 3 Crystal Ball for Lorenzo, and a Sacred Wolf for me. He casts Nether Horror to follow up, but I land a Sword of Vengeance and equip it to my troll-shrouded wolf. Lorenzo scrys with his Crystal Ball at both the end of my turn and on his upkeep, putting all 4 cards on the bottom of his library in the hopes of finding an answer. He tries to cast Chandras Outrage on my Yavimaya Wurm, but it gets countered by my Flashfreeze that was brought in from the sideboard. Eventually, my Wurm arms himself with Akroma’s sword, and he destroys the last few points of Lorenzo’s life.

Final Record: 3 – 1

My record is enough to get me 12 packs of M11, which I take in store credit, and I play several games of Legacy afterwards against Lorenzo’s brother, Marcel, to cap off a great prerelease.

I’ve decided to start a new segment to increase the amount of analysis in my tournament reports. I’m going to cap off each report with a list of “Top Cards” of the day, including how to best play them. Note that I will not include any obviously bomb rares in this segment, because we all know that Sword of Vengeance is the nuts.

Top Cards

Foresee

When this card was originally printed in Future Sight, it was one of the most effective card drawing spells at the time. Sure, Tidings may have gotten you three cards for only 1 mana extra, but being able to sculpt your next few turns while accruing card advantage is what made Foresee see a fair bit of constructed play it its heyday. The 4 mana sorcery is not only back, but it’s better than ever in Magic 2011 limited. If you can set up a reasonable defense that can hold your opponent back one turn, say something like a Giant Spider, then you can use Foresee to ensure that your deck doesn’t falter as it progresses into the late turns of the game. Having a defense of some sort is important, because if you don’t draw into something insane, and you haven’t augmented your board position, casting Foresee can be a losing proposition. Of course, if you have no other plays, or plays that you do have would be suboptimal, Foresee is still a fine 4-drop, but realize that you’re giving your opponent another turn to both swing in at you and strengthen their forces. However, Foresee played an all-star role in my sealed deck, digging for my bombs and putting lands on the bottom that would have been blanks.

Augury Owl

Maybe I’m biased because scry is my favourite mechanic, but Augury Owl is head and shoulders above its Sage counterpart from Magic 2010. This 2 drop flyer makes it possible to keep marginal hands that contain disproportionate amounts of land, with an overall effect similar to Serum Powder. A 1/1 flyer is also not something that should be overlooked, as this owl trades with Liliana Specter and Stromfront Pegasus extremely nicely. With all the advantage that scry gives you, taking out an opponents 2-drop is one of the most satisfying plays you can make with this little bird.

Sacred Wolf

Sacred Wolf is a card that shone brightest when I equipped it with a Sword of Vengeance, but all day it had a solid role in helping my deck “get there”. Comparing him to the underplayed Mist Leopard in M10 limited, Sacred Wolf not only provides a decent offense that is immune to the likes of Blinding Mage and Royal Assassin, but the fact that it has shroud means you can get some extremely high value out of it. This guy trades with cards like Juggernaut all day, meaning that he is a card that you should really never be unhappy to run. In the absence of a Sword of Vengeance, this guy will pick up a Warlords Axe and beat in until your opponent finds a guy to block it. Paired with a suite of solid removal spells, Sacred Wolf is a card that helped me greatly when my opponent’s needed to cast their removal spells to try and reclaim a match.

That’s it for today, I’ll have another one of these articles up tomorrow. As always, feel free to contact me via email at zak -AT- power9pro.com or via the comments section below. If you think you’d have built the deck differently, tell me what you’d have played. This pool had some tough decisions to make, so I may have made some wrong calls, but that’s part of Magic. I’m sure that as the set becomes played with more, we’ll know exactly what cards are limited all-stars and which ones are duds relegated to the realm of proxy fodder.

Until next time, Cheers!

Zak

Top Picks in Rise of the Eldrazi Draft

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

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

White:

1. Dawnglare Invoker

2. Knight of Cliffhaven

3. Oust

4. Kabira Vindicator

5. Guard Duty

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blue:

1. Regress

2. Enclave Cryptologist

3. Narcolepsy

4. See Beyond

5. Domestication

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black:

1. Nirkana Cutthroat

2. Induce Despair

3. Vendetta

4. Suffer the Past

5. Bloodrite Invoker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red:

1. Flame Slash

2. Staggershock

3. Brimstone Mage

4. Heat Ray

5. Traitorous Instinct

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

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

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

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

Green:

1. Joraga Treespeaker

2. Beastbreaker of Bala Ged

3. Pelakka Wurm

4. Wildheart Invoker

5. Kozileks Predator

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy earth day!