Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quick update and some excuses


You might have notice I haven't been on in a while. Sorry about that. I've been busy. Primarily with my new obsession: Chuck. The NBC show about a computer nerd who accidentally winds up working as a spy for the CIA.  It's pretty much the greatest show since Firefly... and it stars Adam Baldwin, who played Jayne in Firefly, so that's a bonus. Sara and I have been DEVOURING this show like it was crack cocaine lately, and I can't even tell you how much I wish I was watching it right this second.

Also, financial difficulties have forced me to temporarily curtail Magic spending... well, ALL spending actually, but I've barely even played Magic in the last few weeks, as I had to basically ban myself from entering any Card Store for the last few weeks. So for those of you at Castle, Top Deck, and Dragon Crown, I apologize, but I had -$1.37 in my account a couple weekends ago. Usually I can be counted on to spend money on Magic that I really shouldn't spend... but this time I literally HAD NO MONEY AT ALL!!

Fortunately Sara is now bringing home a steady check and I was able to make my first frivolous purchase in nearly a month. What did I buy? A Scars of Mirrodin fatpack, of course. And it was pretty descent, too. I pulled three Mythics - Wurmcoil Engine, Lux Cannon, and Leige of the Tangle. I also opened a Tempered Steel, the U/B dual and a couple of other playable rares. The only utterly terrible rares cracked were a Shape Anew and a Painful Quandary. So no Planeswalkers, but still not a disappointing purchase.

And then there is the fact that I took apart EVERY single deck I had, and completely sorted my whole damned collection, as part of a massive project I spontaneously undertook, wherein I am revamping my whole system for maintaining and storing my massive collection of cards. I won't bore you with the details, but I've logged nearly 80 hours in the last few weeks of nothing but sorting, sorting, sorting.

As a result of this project, though, I decided to rebuild my big Highlander. I love EDH to death, but I was really, really missing the randomness of a 250-card, 5-color monstrosity. So you have a nice, long decklist post coming real soon, I just have to work out a few kinks in the list.

I currently have one - and only one - 60-card deck built right now: Vampires. I suddenly realized how awesome this play would be:

Turn 2: Bloodthrone Vampire
Turn 3: Buried Alive (putting 3 Bloodghast in the GY)
Turn 4: Play a land, returning the Bloodghasts to play, dropping Gravepact, sacrificing the 'ghasts to make my opponents sac three guys (if they even HAVE that many yet) and swing for 9 with the Bloodthrone.

Or, on Turn 4 I could just drop a Nocturnus and have up to 19 power on the board, going into Turn 5.

So with the realization what Buried Alive could do for the deck, plus opening 2 Exsanguinates in my fatpack, I had to rebuild it. Friends are on their way over as I type this, so we shall soon see if my upgrades make a difference.

Bye for now...

UPDATE: Yeah, the Buried Alive worked wonders. It's fantastic, guys, I can't stress this enough. Last night I had a game where I killed Chad on Turn 6. I had a Bloodthrone Vampire and three Bloodghasts, with 6 mana up. I dropped a Nocturnus, leaving a Leechridden Swamp and a Swamp open. Black card on top, swing for 19 with the four Vamps, he's playing Elves - no fliers - and goes to 1 life. Leechridden Swamp finishes him off. Lucky me, because he had about 6 or 7 elves in play, the smallest of which was a 28/28. Go Vampires!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Scars of Mirrodin EDH Set Review, Part 3: Artifacts

The final installation! Artifacts comprise a little over 1/3 of the set, so this will be a long one. I'm really skimming over a bunch of stuff in order to keep this to a reasonable length. I'll just say that very few of the common and uncommon artifacts will make much of a splash. There are a few playable cards in there, but nothing too exciting. Mostly, I'll just touch on the rares and mythics, unless an uncommon really catches my attention.


 This piece of Equipment is understandably expensive. It has such a potent effect, though, it’s worth it if you can find a way to cheat a bit on the cost. Godo, Bandit Warlord, Stonehewer Giant, and Stoneforge Mystic are a few possibilities. If you have access to any of these cards, then this Equipment is definitely worth considering. Combine with Finest Hour or Aggravated Assualt for extra fun!
 Why hello there, “fixed” Skullclamp. That’s basically what this is. And by “fixed” I mean “bad”. But anything that even might let you draw two cards repeatedly is always worth a second look. This could get played. It certainly can be a stand-in for those who don’t have the real Skullclamp, though it pales in comparison.
 Much, much less broken than Tinker. But even at a fraction of the brokenness it still is more than good enough to see play in the types of decks that want Tinker effects. Oh joy, Dagsson got another Tinker.
 On one hand this card seems really narrow, but at the same time, it seems like it has a lot of potential. Aura Shards? Hoardsmelter Dragon? Glissa Sunseaker? Shattering Pulse? All of these and more can turn Liquimetal Coating into a repeatable Vindicate.
 This is rather narrow and I don’t see it being played much, if at all. Still, if your guys are getting popped often, this might be a suitable deterrent, but I’d much rather just have Lightning Greaves. The funny thing about this one though, is that it triggers when you target your own Lash-Equipped creature, so if you have a bunch of Auras or something like that, it could be playable in that case. Meh, probably not.
 A decent “creature” that dodges Wrath effects, and the 1 mana activation cost is nice. I still don’t see this going into many decks. But if you can ramp up and cast this for 10 or so, then on the following turn Wrath and then attack with this, it’d be pretty cool. There are better strategies, I feel, but this is still a valid use for the card.

 Another card that depends on you having the right cards on top to work well. I much prefer the traditional Clone-style creatures. Then again, this one also works in that it lets you cheat big guys into play for cheap. And yes, in EDH, 5 mana is considered cheap. Unfortunately you’re still only going to get a two or three mana discount most of the time, but if used to sneak out an Eldrazi titan, it’s certainly a good day for you.
This is pretty good by itself, but EDH isn't about "pretty good" stuff, it's about "OMG awesome" stuff. Breaking this with Voltaic Key, Energy Chamber and Proliferate stuff is "OMG awesome". It does require jumping through hoops to get to that level, so it's not going to be played widely, but in a deck that can cheat this effectively, it'll win games.
 Pretty unspectacular. A single -1/-1 counter will virtually never make a real difference. You would only consider this if you were very desperate for Proliferate effects, and even then you'd be hoping for something better in the next set.
 Definitely better than the Clasp, but rather expensive. I see this being played a good deal more than the Clasp, but not a lot more.
This is good enough to make the cut in most artifact decks, particularly ones that aren't completely devoted to comboing off. Definitely makes a strong case for the viability of an Aggro-based Artifact build. Needs Trample, though. Seriously.

Certainly playable in that hypothetical aggro-artifact deck I keep fantasizing about. If anyone ever actually builds it…
2/2 is a bit too small for EDH, typically, but with some Equipment and buffs, could be a house.
I've already got to use this in EDH and lemme tell ya, I'm calling this one the sleeper hit of the set. If it looks kinda janky, I assure you it's actually quite good. You see, EDH decks tend to be chock full of creatures with ETBF effects or leaves-play effects, running the gamut of Mulldrifter to Yosei to Primeval Titan. The one downside is that you Exile the token created by Mimic Vat, so without a sac outlet, you won't get much mileage out of Yosie tokens. But that is a seriously small quibble. Imprinting Mulldrifter or Shriekmaw is often enough card advantage to outpace your opponent, but there are SO many more devastating plays you could make. A seriously good card for this format.
This guy could actually be really good in an aggro Artifact deck. A little costly, but he provides a veritable smorgasbord of abilities for you to custom build a win condition on the fly.
Playable in the right decks, but the only problem is the potential 2-for-1 you could be handing your opponent. Despite the risks, I would love to try to get this equipped to a Kamal, Pit Fighter or Spikeshot Goblin some day. Also has potential in Rafiq builds that run lots of little unblockable dudes like Jhessian Infiltrator and such.
It hardly needs to be said that Mill is a pretty bad strategy in EDH, and this is not likely going to be the card to change that. However, if someone is determined enough to make it work, there are worse options than this.

Meh. This card fills me with apathy. It's effect is WAY to iffy to be worth running as a one-shot effect. I used to play this card a bit back in the day, before Academy Ruins existed. It was usually terrible. I almost always hated drawing it. Nowadays the only reason people play this is to recur it infinitely with Ruins - the posterboy for douchebaggery. Without Ruins it's nigh unplayable. With Ruins, your an asshole.

I can't say I'm all that excited about this one either. It's certainly good, but not overwhelmingly so, and in EDH it's downright underwhelming. I pretty much NEVER want to Exile the creatures in my 'yard, as I always have ways to bring them back no matter what colors I'm playing. The GY is my favorite resource to exploit in EDH, and while this technically IS a way of exploiting it, it's also a one-trick pony. I'm iffy on it's powerlevel, but even if I'm underestimating it's power, it's still an incredibly boring card.
Trinket Mage has a new favorite target! At least in multicolor decks like Sharuum. Trinket Mages in Mono-U will still likely want STD or Sol Ring, but in WUB decks, this will probably be the new #1 most-often-searched-for Trinket.
Yawn. No, seriously I love this card, but if I can't play it as a 4-of, it's not worth it. And their probably won't be enough decent Myr to support a Myr-tribe EDH until the NEXT Mirrodin block.
See comments about Battlesphere. Except that I don't even like this in 60-card decks, so yeah.
Ehh... another Myr-tribe only card. Oh well.
I've used this one already, and while it's nowhere near as awesome as the Mimic Vat, it's not terrible by any stretch. Most recently I had it equipped to a Garza Zol. I've yet to actually use the recursion ability on this thing, but the comfort and security of just knowing I had the option was enough. And the +2/+2 and Intimidate package was pretty useful, as it helped ensure my aforementioned vampire queen got to draw me a card every single turn.
TERRIBLE! I have never once had the urge to put platinum angel into an EDH, and this is WORSE than the Angel.
I really want to do something with this, but something tells me EDH is not the venue to do it in... perhaps is the massive amounts of targeted removal in the format?
This seems really cool to me, but for some reason I just want to Imprint other Imprint cards onto it. In particular I want to put a Soul Foundry on this. Then imprint Duplicant onto one of the Soul Foundry tokens. Oh god my brain is melting.
I may be underselling this, but I can't see myself ever considering this unless Rhys the Redeemed somehow became a dominant force in my local metagame. Oh well.
I feel like this is probably pretty terrible. I also feel like the minute I officially write this off as unplayable jank, I'll get my ass kicked by it. Well, technically this thing by itself does nothing, but in the right deck, it might just be a tad broken. Almost all of my EDH decks tend to be fairly even on Creatures vs non-Creatures, so it's not likely to show up in any of my builds, but in a deck that contains a huge majority of one type of spell (most likely Artifacts, really) it's worth a slot.
Now my Grixis deck has a way to deal with Enchantments! Woo hoo! I really think this is going to be stellar in control-ish builds. Ah, see, that's why I love EDH so much - the one format where THIS guy is clearly better than Ratchet Bomb.
Yeah, by now you know I don't do mono-color decks. But for those of you who do play mono; GET THIS NOW! Spikeshot Goblin players, also get this now. Kemba? Yup, she'll want one of these for sure.
Mill is bad in EDH, and 2/2 tokens aren't that much of a threat. Very weak, compared to the previous two Swords.
Worst Rare in the set. So bad not even EDH wants to be seen in public with this.
Second worst card in the set. However, this one has a slight chance at being played in EDH. Group hug decks could probably find room for it. That's about it, really.

This guy is no slouch. A 6/6 for 6 with no drawbacks and plenty of benefits, and NO COLOR REQUIREMENT! He can be played in ANY EDH deck no matter what. However, I don't think he's so good that he's an automatic inclusion into every EDH deck. However, he's not a bad choice for most decks. I personally would prefer to play him where he'll be the most effective. For instance, he's really fun with Greater Good. I'd definitely run this guy in my Rafiq and Vorosh decks, maybe in Thraximundar, but certainly not in Uril or Horde of Notions. Still, I'd be hard-pressed to tell someone they shouldn't run this guy.

Well, that's it! I'm finally free of this nightmare! No, really it wasn't that bad. It's just that I was really busy lately and didn't have time to do this every day like I wanted, so what I thought would take a week has taken a few weeks instead. Oh well. It's over and done, and I can get back to posting stupid decklists now.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scars of Mirrodin EDH Set Review, Part 2e: Green

Green time! I'm SOOOO close to the end now, I can hardly wait to get this behind me, and start posting real content again. This has been far more work than I anticipated, because of the way I chose to do it. I might rethink my approach next time. Then again, the next set is a small set, so it will be less work anyway. Well, on with the show.


 This compares very poorly with peers Indrik Stomphowler and Acidic Slime. The addition of Reach to expand its versatility in blocking does NOT make up for the loss of versatility in its ETBF effect. Equipment does run rampant in some playgroups and it someone adopts Kemba as they new General, this might make the cut. I don't like it much, though.
 If targeted removal is running rampant in your group, then this card will be worth it’s weight in gold. Otherwise, it’s mostly just a cute trick that will sometimes frustrate your opponent, but will then frustrate you when they just drop Akroma and this becomes a 5 mana do-nothing. That said, I still really like it, and it will definitely go in Rafiq, because that guy is a HUGE removal target.
 This is eminently playable in the right deck (i.e. Mono-G). It will make your whole horde nigh-unblockable. Outside of Mono-G or maybe G/x where G is largely the dominant color, this isn’t worth a slot. But again, in the right deck it can provide a game-winning effect for only 5 mana.
Oh, yeah, this is fun! A 7/7 for seven, with a very relevant ability. Screw First Strike, Double-Strike, or Deathtouch. None will help. Only Indestructible creatures will survive combat with this guy. Interestingly enough, you still get the life, even if this guy gets into a tangle with a Darksteel Colossus. Bonus: Imagine putting a Lure on this guy.
 Much like Red, this is in a color that makes Metalcraft a very undesirable, restrictive ability. It’s a darn good creature, though, so if your Green deck somehow has enough Artifacts to support this, then it will definitely be worth a slot.
 My favorite card in the set. Unfortunately, it's not stellar in EDH. It can get a bunch of stuff, but it is pretty much random. I would usually rather get one carefully selected permanent via Wargate than 7 or 8 random things off the top. Usually. There are some tricks to making this work, though. Congregation at Dawn comes to mind...
 Holy god, this is bonkers. It’s a high-risk high-reward card, and I do mean HIGH risk. This hits once, and then your opponent Wraths. Oops, good game. Oh, yeah, you don’t HAVE to turn ALL your lands into 8/8 creatures, but who in the right mind plays a card like this and then plays it conservatively. This is the Timmy-est card since Godsire, and the Timmy thing to do is to go all out and turn EVERYTHING into 8/8’s. Play it with Terra Eternal to make all your lands Indestructible, and you’ve greatly minimized the risk. And you have an army of 8/8 Indestructible guys. GO TIMMY!
 This is the one Infect creature besides Skithiryx that doesn’t really need much additional support to be playable. At least not Infect-specific support. Pump and recursion are all the support this guy needs. Oh, and he can EASILY one-shot someone in Rafiq decks. Along side the good ol' Sovereigns/Conscription package, this guy is suddenly more deadly than Might of Oaks.
 Meh, this might be okay. Generally I’d rather run a creature with an ETBF ability or Krosan Grip (the Split Second is relevant more often that you’d think) but the cantrip effect is appealing, even if the 4 CMC is not so hot. This will likely see a lot of play with some EDH players, but I don’t think it’ll make the cut in my decks.

Man, I initially though this was a rare. I’m excited to see that it’s just Uncommon. But yeah, this is awesome against Sharuum and Dagsson. It’s pretty bad against everything else though, so if your group is lucky enough not to have a d-bag playing a broken Artifact deck, then you’re lucky enough not to need this card. But it’s nice to know it here for you, if you ever do need it.

Bonus Section: Multicolor!

Since this was a short one, and there is only one gold-bordered card in the set, here's a review of the one, the only, VENSER!

As far as Planeswalkers go, Venser is no slouch. His +2 ability is extremely versatile, and his Ultimate, if you can pull it off, will all but guarantee your victory (which is true of most of the Planeswalker’s Ultimates, but Venser’s is one of the best). So it pretty much goes without saying that Venser is very playable, and most decks that support his colors would be happy to give him a slot. I'm just glad that this + ability is the one that is going to be the most useful the most often. You're never going to want to use the -1 ability unless it'll outright win you the game.

BONUS Bonus Section: Lands

There are only 6 non-basic lands in Scars. Glimmerpost, which is designed specifically and solely to be played as a 4x card, so it’s basically useless in EDH. It’s like a Zendikar Refuge that only makes colorless mana. Sure you could run Vesuva and a Cloudpost, and if you somehow get all three, you have 9 mana amongst three lands, but that’s really more trouble that it’s worth.

Unfortunately, the new cycle of Duals aren’t much more EDH friendly. They’re still strictly better than the Invasion duals that ALWAYS came into play tapped, but these only come in untapped the first two or three turns, which means in EDH they’ll almost always come in tapped. If you’re running the Invasion or Coldsnap lands, these are an upgrade, but otherwise they’re worse than almost every other Dual cycle out there. By the way, they only come in “friendly color pairs” of course. When is WotC going to make more enemy-color lands?

Next post: Artifacts (and then freedom!)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scars of Mirrodin EDH Set Review, Part 2d: Red

Red. Red is my least favorite color in Magic. I use the term "least favorite" because I don't dislike Red. I just like it less than the other colors. There are many reasons why this is, and just to highlight one of them, Red is probably the worst at drawing cards, and as you all know by now, drawing cards is my favorite thing to do in Magic.

Red is also among the weakest colors in EDH. Red is overloaded with one-shot direct damage spells and other card-disadvantage type effects. A famous M:tG axioms states "Card advantage wins games". A typical Red strategy is to say "Screw card advantage, I will just kill you before card advantage has time to win out" and throws everything it's got at an opponent's face until that opponent is burned to a crisp.

Red doesn't like a long game, and EDH is all about long games. It's simply a mismatch of philosophies. That said, sometimes Red does draw cards. Wheel of Fortune is one of my favorite spells ever. Sometimes it can even do card advantage; Flametongue Kavu is a good example of how Red handles CA. And nothing wins the long game on the spot like a massive X-spell like Fireball or Comet Storm. So Red CAN do all the things it needs to do to compete in EDH.

The problem is that for every Wheel of Fortune or Flametongue Kavu or Comet Storm, there are a hundred little burn spells or other such incremental one-shot effects. Lightning Bolt is the gold standard of Red direct damage, and is fan-friggin-tastic in 60 card decks as a 4x. But in EDH? Nope. Lightning Bolt is HORRIBLE in EDH. That's what is so neat about EDH. You have to evaluate cards so differently. It can be disconcerting to some players to realize that in EDH a Prophetic Bolt is a wonderful and highly-playable burn spell, whilst Shock is utter crap. FTK is still good, but it's not quite as good as it usually is. Spitebellows is generally better than FTK. That's the kind of world EDH is.

The sad truth is that EDH is a world that, when you evaluate cards appropriately Red's #1 claim to fame, the one thing that it does better than any other color, is virtually useless in EDH. As such, the vast majority of Red's spells in any given set are going to be largely unplayable in EDH. Red just brings fewer desirable cards to the table, when compared to other colors. Mono-R decks exists, and they work. You just have fewer options to choose from without dipping into sub-par cards.

Anyway, this was all a very long way of explaining that this review will likely be noticeably shorter than others, as Red tends to get the shaft in EDH. But I also just wanted to throw out my little essay on Red and why it is my least favorite color (but I do still like it!).With that out of the way, let's get the review started.


This is one of those little one-shot effects I mentioned that usually suck in EDH. An equipment or aura that does the same thing is usually better. I only include this one because it can sometimes help you win through General Damage. This could find a home in Uril decks and some Mono-R decks. However, it IS a Sorcery, not an Instant, so that weakens the card considerably.

I’m iffy on this. It requires a lot of luck, but the effect is potentially devastating. It helps that EDH is the land of high-cost fatties, so you stand a decent change of getting a one-sided Wrath with a direct damage bonus. Still, if you’re in a position where you NEED to Wrath, you don’t want to spend four mana to MAYBE Wrath. I’d like to give this a shot though, because when it does work, it will seriously own face. Maybe use Jace, the Mind Sculptor to help time this right?

 I can only see this being playable in Sek'Kuar Deathkeeper or Kresh the Bloodbraided builds that already like sacrificing their guys. It could be the nuts in those decks, but it's pretty narrow outside of that niche.

A very decent Dragon, indeed. Repeatable artifact kill can be a powerhouse against some decks, and it’s a decent beater even when the utility aspect isn’t relevant. Still, an opponent almost always has at least a Sol Ring or something you’d be happy to smelt. The front pump angle reminds me of Drana, but for artifacts. Against Esper, he’s actually better than Drana. I definitely see this guy getting some play.

Mono-color EDH decks bore me to tears, and Red is the LAST color I’d consider if I did go mono, if you couldn't have guessed.Putting my own tastes aside, this guy seems very solid in a mono Red EDH. His -2 Ability will be the most useful, most often. The +1 ability is pretty weak in EDH, and the Ultimate will rarely kill an opponent due to the high starting life total, unless it’s really late game. But if I were the type to run Mono-R I would be happy to run this guy in my deck.

Maybe it's me, but the ability Metalcraft and the color Red don't seem to mix well. There are certainly a number of good Artifacts you'd be happy to run in a mono-R deck... the question is: is that number high enough to support a card like this? Then, the follow up question: Is a 4/4 Flyer good enough to worry about making Metalcraft work? My opinion is "no" on both counts, but I'm willing to be proven wrong here.

I really like this card in 60-card Magic, but I don't see it doing a whole lot here. Take the Metalcraft keyword off the card, and this would suddenly be VERY playable in some decks (Niv-Mizzet). Much like the Phoenix, though, Metalcraft just kills it in the crib. Niv-Mizzet decks already have Wheel of Fortune for this anyway.

Another card that I am uber-excited to play in 60-card formats, but it does very little for me in EDH. However, I can see this guy being playable in Mono-R. Godo + Strata Scythe + this guy = Awesome!

There are enough effects like Skyshroud Claim, Harrow, Kodama’s Reach, Fetch Lands , etc, that this guy could conceivably do quite a bit of damage before he gets wiped off the board. However, you pretty much have to drop him turn two for that to work, and in a 100 card singleton deck, that seems really unlikely to happen most of the time. I really don’t see this guy being viable.

See this is the kind of burn spell that is playable in EDH. Five damage will kill a fair number of relevant creatures, and there are some Equipments that are huge staples in EDH - both Darksteel Swords, Jitte, Skullclamp, Lightning Greaves, etc. The problem is that Sword of Fire and Ice and Lightning Greaves actively mock this card to its face. Five mana is a perfectly reasonable cost, if you're getting 2-for-1 out of it. The problem is with it being a dead card in your hand if your opponent isn't dropping Equipment. Because if your NOT getting a 2-for-1, then suddenly 5 mana seems a bit steep.

So, as I expected, Red is quite shallow. For me, the Dragon is the only imminently playable card in Red. A couple of cards will be good in Mono-R, which I will never build. And a few that I'm eager to play outside of EDH. But not much love here. Sorry! Maybe green will be a bit deeper? Spoiler: My #1 fav card in the set is Green, and it's not very good in EDH.  :(

Next post: Green.