Category Archives: Uncategorized

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Migration!

Happy New Year, everyone!  Hope it’s been a good one so far.  If it hasn’t, you still have 364 days left after today to make it a good one.

Though not in my immediate future, I plan on migrating my blog to a WordPress-based site (details forthcoming).  I have also thought about plying my writing skills on PucaTrade, as my primary goal in Magic: the Gathering is for it to be a financially self-sustaining hobby.

My new site will also provide a place to show off my skills as a front-end web developer and provide a point of contact between me and potential employers.  Something’s gotta give… getting sick of going from temp job to temp job.  Maybe I’ll start streaming full-time?

Yeah right…  I have a growing distaste for MTGO, and I doubt I’ll grow out of it soon… Maybe they’ll fix it before Vintage Masters comes out, and I can pick up some Power 9 and other sweet goodies while face-planting some drafts.

What’s Vintage Masters you ask?  It’s an online-only set on MTGO coming out in June that will cost $6.99 per pack, and will be similar to Modern Masters, except with Vintage staples, including the Power 9 (printed at Mythic obviously).

Anyway, I’m off… Nursing a throbbing headache this afternoon (just kidding!).

MTG and the Modern Era: Keeping up with the Joneses

Staying up to date on professional Magic: the Gathering can be a full-time job in and of itself.  Knowing the top 8 decklists from last week seems rarely relevant.  With so many GP’s and Pro Tours to keep up with and so many new decks entering a seemingly well-established metagame, it seems there is a new flavor of the month every week.  There are half a dozen MTG websites to split my time across, and there would probably be more if I spent the time to find them.  This is neither the time nor place to delve into specifics, however.

I bring this up only because I recently started using an RSS reader to help me keep up with all the goings-on in the Magic realm, and it has made a tremendous difference.  I only have to go to one site to get the information I seek, and don’t have to dig through entire web pages for the one or two articles I want to read.  The one I chose was based on the reviews on Google Play, and it is the InoReader.  You can go to http://www.inoreader.com to get started with it.  It’s really easy to use, and  has a layout and functionality that feels similar to an e-mail client.  Tagging particular feeds allows you to sort everything MTG from everything else if you use the RSS reader for other things.

Izzet Control continued

As I was saying the other day, Young Pyromancer represents a reasonable clock if you have a few instants and sorceries to back him up.  With 3 instants and sorceries, he represents enough damage to kill an opponent in 7 turns, assuming each of those spells are cast once per turn the turn after Young Pyromancer resolves (also assumes all spells were cast on your own turn; an unlikely scenario in hindsight… safe to assume the clock would be at least a turn faster since the Elemental tokens will be able to attack the turn they come out).

Pretty darn slow, but it’s nothing to complain about coming from a 2-drop.  Frostburn Weird is a faster clock, but he will require a large mana investment, allowing the opponent to run out whatever he wants under your countermagic.

Firedrinker Satyrs might not be the best plan to increase the clock.  Without pumping him, he speeds up the clock by about 2 turns assuming he comes out a turn before Young Pyromancer does.  Not terrible by any stretch, but I’m not sure it’s worth the sideboard slot and I’m not sure what decks the beatdown plan will be good against.

Anyways, I’m off.  Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

GP Louisville brews

This, or some variant thereof, is what I REALLY want to play…. Grindy, durdling, slow, control…  Something with Ral Zarek… I liked him from the moment they spoiled him… His ultimate is unpredictable.  Awesome at some points, and completely worthless at others.  His other two abilities are really solid… -2: deal 3 damage to target creature or player.. You can do that twice without ever using his +1… Pretty good value even at that, particularly against aggressive strategies.  I really like his +1 too…  If you want him to, he sort of costs 3 mana instead of 4.  The ability to untap a land every turn provides so much more flexibility and control over your manabase.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in some 3-color decks in the coming months.  The “tap” component of his +1 ability lends itself very well to aggressive strategies, so a deck that’s a little less top-heavy might end up being the way to use him.  In the control mirrors, however, the tap ability can be used to force the opponent to be more careful about how he spends his mana, so that he leaves mana up for counterspells.
Red Deck Wins is super-efficient, beastly, and performing really well.  It’s also the largest part of the metagame.  I don’t like netdecking.  I die a little inside while looking at decks online.  They are good lists… Just something  about playing other people’s decks unsettles me.  Maybe I’ll get over it eventually.

Might just say fooy on it and play what I want to since I’m going mostly for fun, and for the opportunity to connect with non-Christians.

BR aggro is another consideration.  There are a billion ways to build it, and I haven’t been able to thumb my nose at any of them.

White Weenie hasn’t been performing well (at least not that I’ve seen… and I haven’t seen much), but there’s a really, really good 75 in there somewhere.

The deck I definitely don’t want to be on this GP is GW aggro.  EVERYONE running control is running Ratchet Bombs it seems…  Fleecemane Lion was one of my favorite cards in Theros, but with good sweepers in the format, I feel like the 2-for-1 potential of that card drops significantly.  Sure, it’s possible, but the rest of your board is still gone.  Think I’d prefer playing a different deck regardless.

Theros Card Review: Satyr Hedonist

This, along with Burning-Tree Emissary can offer G/R decks a lightning-quick start.  Expect this to see play.  The mana cost is right on, his power/cost ratio is solid, and his ability to accelerate to up to 5 mana at turn 3 is INSANE (even if it is single-use).  This is exactly the kind of two-drop you want to be playing in aggressive decks.  I’m really looking  forward to seeing what this card will do when it comes out.

The International 3 is over

Congrats to the TI3 champs, Alliance!  After soaring through the winner’s bracket with ease, they faced 2011 International champions and 2012 runner up, Natus Verince.  After stomping Na’Vi in game 1 when Na’Vi’s super-aggressive lineup couldn’t find any kills, they dropped two games in a row.  However, they battled back and won two in a row.  The final game of the series appeared to be strongly in Na’Vi’s hands, but overextensions cost Na’Vi dearly.  However, the game was decided on the back of Alliance’s superior split push lineup, and excellent play from Alliance’s Puck (who was completely starved for farm in the early part of the game), who caught Na’Vi trying to teleport back to base, and cancelled several of them.  Great game, fun tournament!

GP Louisville.. wut?

This is old news, but there will be a Grand Prix in Louisville this year.  I have a surgery scheduled in September, but my recovery time should be a good opportunity (no pun intended) to prepare.  Haven’t played much Magic over the past several months, so it will take some time to get what little game I had back.  I love the Standard format right now…  it’s very healthy.  Though Junk Reanimator is “the” deck right now, “other” decks are a larger portion of the meta than any other single deck.  Standard is really unpredictable at the moment.

Unfortunately, Theros will be out when GP Louisville comes around.  I could be waaay off, but I smell aggro deck central.  A young format with a pretty limited card pool.  I’m really tempted by Jund, R/B, or B/G Aggro.  Brutally efficient, powerful creatures, cheap removal, and good disruption.  One major caveat: it’s freakin’ expensive (aside for R/B aggro… and I’d feel more comfortable creating a more controlling list in those colors).  In addition, Ol’ Thraggy (Thragtusk) will rotate out when Theros comes in.  Not to mention Snapcaster Mage and another really good 2-mana utility creature.  Sadly, some of the most important components of my favorite decks (Unexpected Results, Epic Experiment, and Immortal Servitude are the big three… and I doubt I’d take any of them to a GP, even with all the M13/RTR cards still in the meta) will rotate out.  Theros will likely leave a big impact on the meta, so this is mostly verbal flatulence.

I really like Quicken.  Rakados’s Return at instant speed? yar.  Other unfair things? yar.  Draw a card? yar.  Overhyping a crap rare? yar.  I’ll shut up now.

But first.  GP Louisville should be fun.  A GP in my area!  Looking forward to it!

Modern Masters and thoughts on the Modern format

Modern was the realm of broken combos, and there are still plenty of them to go around.  However, ‘fair’ decks have found their stride, and can compete with Splinter Twin, Scapeshift, and others.  Bronson’s Loam Aggro deck is just one of those.  As far as power level is concerned, the deck is extremely potent.  Drawing cards, making land drops, repeatable discard, repeatable burn, and creatures that grow bigger and bigger.  A recipe for a pro tour winning deck if there ever was one.

For Modern Masters, modern card prices will go down.  However, the prices for big money cards in the top decks will not go down appreciably.  I have read this in other blogs and web pages, and I think I agree with it.  The demand is so high and the print run is so low that prices will remain high.

In other news, I am going to toy with Delver in modern, assuming I can get my Windows 8 computer to run MTGO, and after I get done growling at it using my best Phil Boseman impression.

Disrupting Shoal is a shoe-in since the deck will be running a ton of  2 cmc blue spells.  The 3 cmc slot has been the hardest for me to fill.  Jace Beleren seems really good.  Drawing 3 cards for 3 mana is something I can get behind, but outside of that, I’m a bit stuck.  I only have 2 Jace to add.  I might acquire a few more since he probably will go down a bit due to the changes occurring in the Legendary rule.  Using him as a counter to an opposing Jace the Mind Sculptor kept the price a bit inflated.  Sea Gate Oracle also, perhaps?  I want something that can survive a Lightning Bolt, but that may be the role of a 2 drop.  Wish me luck; I suck at this.

For those of you interested, many card stores are having Modern Masters release parties.  I am planning on attending one Saturday.  I thought about buying a box, but at $200 at the event, it is still above my price range.  I will do a draft or two, though.

Land Tax: A King’s Ransom at a Minimal Expense

Land Tax seems reasonably innocent.  All you get are 3 basic lands per turn, and only if you have less lands in play than your opponent.  However, while it was in Type 2, it was one of the only cards that offered true, repeatable, and cheap card advantage.  Also, it’s a whole lot less innocent in a format with Armageddon.  The card found a home in a deck referred to as “ErnhamGeddon.”  It’s a pretty simple strategy: play a big creature and blow up all the lands.  Land Tax provides a nice head start in restoring the land base, one an opponent would have a hard time matching.  Zuran Orb was a good way to make use of lands that were already getting binned, but it was still a difficult road.  It was also a great way to control the number of lands you had in play to ensure getting that Land Tax trigger if you were the one playing Land Tax.

Land Tax also had implications for Extended.  There’s no point in me re-typing what others have already painstakingly written up: the GP Atlanta Coverage offers a quick look into Land Tax’s history, as it was also the first sanctioned Legacy tournament to feature the card since legacy was born way back in 2004.

The Land Tax + Scroll Rack combo has been around since Tempest first came out.  Alongside a U/W Miracles shell, it can be devastating, turning Temporal Mastery into Time Walk time and time again.  It has also been an addition worthy of consideration in CounterTop decks.  The next few tournaments should determine whether or not the card remains unbanned.  We shall see. 

Black Summer: Darkness Rising

An old article on StarCityGames.com titled (surprise, surprise), “A History of Necropotence,” and written by Jim Grimmet, serves as an excellent primer and source of decklists surrounding the infamous Necropotence. Why was Necropotence SO GOOD, and why does it still make nerds everywhere squeal with delight?

Simply put, it stands among the best card advantage engines ever printed.  Sure, you pass up on your draw step, but what you gain surpasses it by far: “Pay 1 life: draw a card (EDIT: essentially).”  I cannot conceive of a more flavorful, beautiful, and at the same time extremely powerful black effect.  Players originally scoffed at the card, but people started catching on quickly and Necro was born.  For months, the entire metagame revolved around it.  Decks of that period HAD to have game against Necro to stand a chance.  Among Necro competitors of the time was a nasty little combo concoction called Pros Bloom:

4 Undiscovered Paradise
3 Bad River
7 Forest
6 Swamp
5 Island

4 Infernal Contract
4 Impulse
4 Vampiric Tutor
1 Three Wishes
2 Memory Lapse
1 Power Sink
1 Elven Cache
1 Emerald Charm
4 Cadaverous Bloom
4 Natural Balance
4 Squandered Resources
4 Prosperity
1 Drain Life

Sideboard:

3 City of Solitude
4 Elephant Grass
1 Elven Cache
3 Emerald Charm
1 Memory Lapse
1 Power Sink
2 Wall of Roots

The basic goal was to ultimately fuel a lethal Drain Life.  You would do this by casting Prosperity and filtering those cards through Cadaverous Bloom into a larger Prosperity into cadaverous bloom into a MASSIVE  Prosperity into a lethal Drain Life.  The problem with combo decks is their need to assemble the components (har, har… get it?).  Very hard to do against Necro… Necro will trade one-for-one all day, and will ALWAYS come out ahead.  Disruption is a complete disaster for a deck like this.  Getting hit with Duress, Hyppies, and Stupor will ruthlessly cripple hands, and the deck just reloads when it’s done.

Another attempt at stemming the tide of Black Summer was a Winter Orb lock deck.  Winter Orb was a soft-lock alongside Icy Manipulators to keep the lock in place.  If that wasn’t bad enough, since the deck featured a ton of artifacts as mana sources, it functioned without access to mana from its lands, leaving its opponent floundering in tapped lands and creatures, with a gripful of permission to quash any artifact removal or attempts at casting spells.  Still, this was not enough.  Necropotence, despite its weakness in the later stages of the game, managed to pull wins  from it with hand disruption, pump knights, and other nonsense (depending on the variant).

Other decks that had some time in the limelight: Turbo Stasis, U/W control, counterpost, and Sligh.

One of the best breakdowns of the metagame of that era (well… technically, it’s just after black summer) I could find was in Mike Flores’ e-book titled Michael J. Flores: 10 Years of Decks, Thoughts, and Theory.  An excellent read.  Strongly recommended.

Despite the strength of the Necropotence deck, some decks were able to outlast it.  The pump knight version of Necro was weak to Serrated Arrows and Armageddon.  In addition, Black Vise, though restricted, eliminated Necro’s much-relied upon resource: its life total.  Disenchant also gave decks a chance.  Notice: two of the aforementioned cards are white.  If you could stem the tide of the early aggression, get lucky with a turn 1 Black Vise, eliminate lands or a Necropotence, or get a Serrated Arrows out, you had a decent shot of beating one of the most dominant decks ever conceived.

That’s about it!  Hope you enjoyed it.  Next week (hopefully) I will have the next installment of this deck series.  Again, I would strongly recommend Michael J. Flores: 10 Years of Decks, Thoughts, and Theory.  Especially if you liked this brief, incomplete, and cursory glance at part of Magic’s past.