Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stupid Green Burn

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Stupid Red Burn archetype. Essentially you just pack as many Lightning Bolts, Lava Blasts and other really efficient burn spells into the deck. Keep the land count as low as possible and turns 1 through whatever, you just sling burn at your opponents dome,  ignoring virtually everything your opponents does. You let them know that right from the first land drop they’re in a race with you.

Stupid Green Burn, a simple deck idea a friend and I came up with, is the Mono-Green equivalent to Stupid Red Burn. Thanks to Planar Chaos’s tampering with the color pie, Green began to get a bit of Haste. Green already is known for its creature buffs... Giant Growth = Lightning Bolt? Not quite, but close.

Here’s the list:

4 Uktabi Drake
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Primal Forcemage
4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Ground Breaker
3 Timbermare

4 Might of Old Krosa
3 Evolution Charm
4 Giantbaiting
3 Gift of the Gargantuan

23 Forest

Well, lets start with the creature base. Most of the creatures have haste - only the Llanowar Elves and Primal Forcemages are excluded. Llanowar Elves in a monogreen deck should be no mystery. The Forcemages will bite the dust a whole lot more than you’d like them too, but they’re really worth it. They either eat a removal spell that would otherwise cost you a Groundbreaker, or they’ll net you and extra 3 damage or more. They beef up Groundbreakers and Timbermares quite nicely. Also, imagine this play:

Turn 1: Forest, Llanowar Elves, go
Turn 2: Forest, Primal Forcemage, go
Turn 3: Forest, Giantbaiting, tap your two elves to Conspire it, swing with two 7/7 Giant Tokens

Nice! And that happens quite often. Usually if your opponent lets you resolve a creature with the Forcemage still on the table, they’re in real trouble. The remaining guys are pretty self-explanatory, being the cream of the crop when it comes to Green dudes with Haste. Don’t worry too much about Echoing the Drakes. Cast ‘em on turn 1 if you have no other plays, but I prefer to save them for Turn 2, so I can Might of Old Krosa, getting in for 6 in the air, turn 2. It’s a rare opponent that can do anything about that. Even if they have removal, they’re going to save it, because they know you can’t pay Echo. Or, if you have the Forcemage, and a couple of Drakes, wait until you drop the Forcemage, then swing for 10 in the air on turn 4. Timbermare is great, as he is virtually impossible to block. And, like the Drakes, he rarely gets hit with removal if you don’t already have 6 mana up.

As for the spells, they too are fairly obvious, with the possible exception of Evolution Charm. I have to thank my friend Steven for this little piece of tech. It’s quite versatile, and all modes of the spell can be relevant. The land search is the least exciting and you’d rather not use it in that way, but sometimes the deck just needs it. Fair enough. The ability to give a creature flying can really make a difference. It lets Groundbreakers get past First Strike, for example. It’s just a way to force through damage, if you think your opponent is keen to start blocking. The most common use, for me at least, is to retrieve Groundbreakers or Drakes from the ‘Yard. This allows you to confidently play the Echo creatures even if you can’t pay the Echo. Think of those two creatures as one-shot Burn spells, not creatures. Don’t wait until turn 6 to drop the Mare. You can just get it back!

Giantbaiting is exceptionally well-suited to this deck. I do try to make sure I can Conspire it before I cast it, but I will cast it for one Token if I must. It’s basically just Green’s closest immitation of a burn spell.

Might of Old Krosa should nearly always be cast Main Phase, to maximize its effect. If you only need two more damage to finish your opponent, then by all means, go instant speed! But really, I prefer to just wait until my opponent isn’t able to block, or cast it on a Groundbreaker or Timbermare. Doubling them up on a Groundbreaker is particularly a fun (albeit risky) play.

Gift of the Gargantuan is a bit iffy. It was originally Harmonize but the 4 mana CC was awkward and difficult. I’m still not sure I really like Gift, but I need SOMETHING like it, and that’s the best effect I could find for the mana. I haven’t really been disappointed with it, so I’ve been happy to keep it in.

Basically, the deck plays very much like a mono-red burn deck. You can’t worry about the long game, as this deck doesn’t really have much long game, a typical trait of the archetype. That’s just an inherent risk in making the deck as aggro as possible. That’s not to say it can’t win past turn 6, but it’s difficult. Evolution Charm allows you to recycle a key threat, but that’s about it. If this deck had a sideboard, I’d probably put some Hurricanes or something in, as that’s the closest Green gets to an X spell finisher.

--------------------------------------------

This is an old deck, and I wrote this little article up way before I actually started this blog. The blog was supposed to have been started much, much earlier but some personal stuff got in the way and I had to delay it for a while. In the mean time, I have a bunch of stuff pre-written and ready to go... I just use it as a mine for content when I run dry of inspiration...

That's not exactly why I posted this one, however, as I simply wanted to share the deck and see if I could drum up feedback on how to update it. Green is still getting a bit of Haste now and then, but I'm open to other ideas. Obviously Vengevine would be a phenom in this deck, as he is in almost ANY deck, but I don't have them, and can't afford them just yet. Putrefax seems cute with the Might of Old Krosa and Primal Forcemage pumps... I could also consider adding black for Tainted Strike (on a Groundbreaker, that's just sick!)

I dunno, what am I missing? I'd like to rebuild this deck somehow, but I'm looking for ways to change it up a bit...













Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Top 10 Fav Creatures to Imprint on Mimic Vat

Mimic Vat is one of the best EDH cards to see print in several sets, and probably one of the best Artifacts of all time. It's an abusable source of card advantage and it's cheap too. Add in the fact that you can screw your opponent over by stealing their guys with it, and it's just too damn powerful to pass up.

So, what are some fun, broken or crazy things we can do with a Mimic Vat? Well, the list is nigh-infinite, as pretty much anything with an "enter the battlefield" trigger is a ripe target. But here are some of my all-time favorites:

10. Avenger of Zendikar - Anything that makes a small army of tokens will suffice, but the Avenger is probably the cream of the crop here. It makes a shit-ton of tokens AND if you hold your land-drop until after you Vat, it pumps up those tokens as well. The best part is that when the Avenger self-exiles at EOT, the tokens stick around.

9. Blightsteel Colossus - Really this can be any hugely-scary threat, like one of the Eldrazi or even the Darksteel predecessor to this guy. But with Emrakul being banned, this is probably the single scariest thing you can see on a Mimic Vat across the table from you. EDIT: I'm a retard and this doesn't actually work, because the Colossus has a replacement effect that keeps him out of the GY, thus rendering him nearly impossible to Imprint on the Vat. So just pretend I was talking about Prototype Portal for this one...

8. Clone - Why Imprint one just one guy on the Vat? With a Clone, you get a veritable cornucopia of things to choose from... the best thing on the board, or the most relevant utility guy... Copying a different guy every turn can be pretty tech on a crowded battlefield. Then, once someone Wraths, and there aren't any more good Clone-targets? Well, just take your pick from all the stuff that just died!

7. Karmic Guide - Repetable graveyard abuse is fun, and powerful. I like Geth a lot. I like this too.

6. Eternal Witness - This probably shouldn't be so far down on the list, but it's often more utilitarian in function than some of the stuff above it. So while it might be a tad more powerful than a few of the higher-ranked choices, it's not quite as exciting or fun... but that does depend a bit on what you get back with it...

5. Duplicant - Imprinting the Vat with and Imprint creature? What is this Nolan-esque bullshit? It's a repeatable Exile effect, that's what! Duplicant is my all-time favorite removal spell in EDH. It's colorless, so any deck can play it. It's "Exile" not "Destroy", which is just infinitely better in EDH. And it doubles as a warm body, so it can attack and block. So it's no surprise that it just gets that much better when you can make a copy every turn.

4. Puppeteer Clique - The only thing better than robbing an opponents graveyard and beating them in the face with their own guys is when their guy gets Exiled when your done with it, so they don't get it back. Some people use Withered Wretch to empty graveyards... this is way more fun.

3. Angel of Despair - There are a wide variety of creatures with "187" abilities, but vindicate-on-a-stick is much less common, and on a 5/5 flying body, this Angel is pretty much the queen of 187s. Ulamog would displace her, if not for his anti-synergy with the Vat... you won't get his trigger off the tokens.

2. Mulldrifter - Anything that draws cards is golden in my book, and this could easily be Arcanis or something similar. I chose Mulldrifter though, because it has Evoke which gives this guy a built-in way to get him Imprinted onto the Vat.

1. Primeval Titan - Obv! This guy is nuts by himself, but repetable haste-y tokens, fetching up four lands a turn is pretty damn hard to beat. Because I love drawing cards so damn much, you know it has to be something special to knock Mulldrifter off the top spot... this certainly fits that criteria.


I'm sure I'm missing about 1,000 really awesome things that you can do, but these are just my personal favorites. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments. I'd love to discover some new tech.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"SPOON!" Or, if you prefer, "NOT IN THE FACE!"

Well, last week was Battle Cry Week over at the mothership, so perhaps I’m a bit late to the party, but as this IS the Command Zone, EDH takes priority. Now that my current EDH deckbuilding experiment is more or less wrapped up (the decklist is posted, at least), I’m already thinking about my next EDH deck. But before I jump on to that, I wanted to take this window of opportunity to talk about Battle Cry…

This is really going to be more of an idea dump, as I haven’t actually built any 60-card decks with the mechanic (or anything from MBS, for that matter). But in between EDH decks, I plan on building up a few casual 60-card decks as there are plenty of cool cards in Besieged that I really want to play with, but aren’t really all that impressive in EDH.

Most of the Battle Cry creatures fit squarely in that category. EDH is the land of multiple Wrath effects, so it usually is a better idea to have one or two really big threats over a whole swarm of little guys… some decks can pull it off, and some playgroups will let it happen, but in my metagame it’s just not a viable strategy. Sure, Hero of the Bladehold comes pre-packaged with her own army starter-kit, but you’ll need a lot more than a couple of 1/1 soldiers to really put a dent in your opponent's 40 life.

Simply put, for Battle Cry to really work the way it’s supposed to, you have to over-extend and pray you don’t see a Wrath of God come down. In EDH that is likely to be a futile prayer, so for me Battle Cry needs to be applied outside the EDH format. The basic premise of Battle Cry is almost Neanderthal in its simplicity: play creatures, attack. It is definitely an aggressive, creature-oriented strategy. In fact, Battle Cry only appears on creatures because, unlike Exalted, the permanant that actually HAS Battle Cry has to attack to trigger it... so it won't work on Enchantments as written. (Which really sucks, because I was hoping for a Battle Cry version of Finest Hour.)
An interesting bit of trivia: Battle Cry appears at every rarity except Rare. There are commons, and uncommons, and then two Mythics, but no rare Battle Cry dudes… weird. The commons are crap – playable in Limited but overcosted anywhere else. Fortunately the 3 uncommon guys and both Mythics are all highly playable. Signal Pest, Accorder Paladin and Goblin Wardriver comprise the uncommon trio, and all three are quite good. Hero of Oxid Ridge is fantastic, but I am still of the opinion he could easily have been a Rare. And of course Hero of Bladehold is an absolute bomb.

The cool thing about Goblin Wardriver and Accorder Paladin is that their creature types are as relevant as their Battle Cry ability. Goblin Wardriver would be fantastic in a Goblin deck, and the Paladin will fit right in with Knight Exemplar and Co., even as the only Battle Criers in their respective decks. There are plenty of creatures that play well with Battle Cry, like Boros Swiftblade or Mirran Crusader for example. Creatures with Doublestrike effectively get twice as much benefit from Battle Cry, so that seems like a natural pairing to me.

So Battle Cry likes lots of creatures attacking all at once, huh? Well, Goblin decks also love to attack with hoards of little guys. Cards like Mogg War Marshal, Dragon Fodder and Siege-gang Commander all provide multiple Goblins off a single card. Goblin Cheiftan and Goblin Guide bring Haste to the party, which is perhaps the second best keyword to pair with Battle Cry. Now if only we had a Goblin with Doublestrike… oh wait, we do! Goblin Bushwhacker and Quest for the Goblin Lord compliment the power-boosting effects of Battle Cry nicely.

Round out the rest of the deck with whatever good mono-red cards you think might help…

4 Goblin Guide
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Goblin Wardriver
4 Warren Instigator
4 Goblin Cheiftan
3 Seige-gang Commander

4 Quest for the Goblin Lord
1 Red Sun’s Zenith
1 Koth of the Hammer
4 Lightning Bolt

4 Teetering Peaks
1 Valakut, Molten Pinnacle
18 Mountain

There are basically an infinite number of playable Red Goblins in the wide world outside of standard, so there’s a LOT of room for customization here. You can also add black for some fantastic Lorwyn-block Boggarts. I just wanted to make it as simple as possible to highlight the implications of Battle Cry in an already aggressive deck like this.

A mono-White Knight deck could look much the same, but let’s take a look anyway.

4 Student of Warfare
4 Accorder Paladin
4 Leonin Skyhunter
4 Mirran Crusader
4 Knight Exemplar
4 Hero of the Bladehold

4 Honor the Pure
4 Journey to Nowhere
3 Brave the Elements
1 Ajani Goldmane

1 Emeria, the Sky Ruin
2 Sejiri Steppe
20 Plains

Same basic idea applies – a critical mass of cheap, aggressive creatures, some buffs and other relative finishers. I decided to restrict my pool to Standard for this one, but like Goblins, Knights are a deep tribe (not nearly as deep as Goblins, but still…) so you can very greatly from my list and wind up with the same basic effect.

Now, obviously, Battle Cry itself doesn’t care about creature type. It’s not a racist ability, so there’s no reason at all to limit yourself to tribal decks. In fact you can easily pair it up with other colors. I’m sure there are creatures in Black and Green and maybe even Blue that would love to get some Battle Cry action. Again, I’m going to go the most obvious route and pair up the two actual Battle Cry colors – White and Red – so that I can maximize my Battle Cry potential. In addition to letting me run all of the good Battle Criers, it also gives me access to some good Doublestrikers. Another advantage to abandoning the tribal theme is access to Signal Pest, the official 1-drop of the Battle Cry mechanic. He’s better than he looks at first glance…

4 Signal Pest
3 Boros Swiftblade
4 Accorder Paladin
3 Goblin Wardriver
4 Hearthfire Hobgoblin
3 Hero of Oxid Ridge
3 Hero of the Bladehold

3 Strider Harness
1 Basilisk Collar
4 Lightning Helix
1 Elspeth, Knight Errant
3 Glory of Warfare

24 Lands

Battle Cry is a Mirran mechanic by design, but WotC made Signal Pest an artifact creature to allow Phyrexia to cheat and run a Battle Cry creature to compliment their Infect guys. The fact that he’s a 1-drop and comes down before any other Infect creatures is kinda lame (for the Mirran side, at least). I won’t post a deck list, but suffice it to say, Signal Pest can be a potent ally along side an army of Infect creatures.

Perhaps the most awesome use for Battle Cry is to supplement an already-awesome strategy: Goat Tokens!

As 0/1’s, Goat tokens need help doing damage, but that’s part of what makes them so awesome. Remember when it was embarrassing to be killed by a swarm of 1/1 Squirrel Tokens? Well, Squirrels are somehow way more dangerous than Goats in the Magic universe. It’s especially emasculating to realize you just died to creatures with ZERO Attack Power!

4 Soul Warden
4 Accorder Paladin
2 Boros Guildmage
2 Mirran Crusader
4 Hearthfire Hobgobin
4 Springjack Shepherd
3 Hero of the Bladehold
1 Cloudgoat Ranger

4 Glory of Warfare
4 Journey to Nowhere
2 Rise of the Hobgoblins
2 Ajani Goldmane

4 Springjack Pasture
20 Other Land

Hero of the Bladehold is almost strictly better than Cloudgoat Ranger here, but I want to keep at least one copy of the Giant, partly for flavor reasons, and partly because he can fly if needed. Glory of Warfare provides some redundancy with Battle Cry to help make Goats lethally offensive. Journey to Nowhere is removal that helps power up Springjack Shepherd, which is partially the reason for many card choices such as Ajani and Boros Guildmage. We need as many white-mana symbols on the battlefield as possible, in order to get as many goats as possible. Hobgoblin is a perfect fit here, because his mana cost is worth three goats off the Shepherd and because Doublestrike plays so well with Battle Cry and Glory of Warfare.

One final aspect of Battle Cry that I have yet to touch on is that the ability is stackable. The implications of this are probably quite obvious when you have multiple Battle Cry dudes on the table. But what might go unnoticed is that you can trigger the same guy multiple times, via additional attack phases. This is what made Finest Hour so damn good, because like Exalted, Battle Cry triggers every time you attack with the creature.

Card like World at War or Waves of Aggression can push Battle Cry over the top. If you attack with two Accorder Paladins once, they’re both 4/1’s but if you untap and attack again that same turn, they’ll be 5/1 each. 18 damage in one turn, from two 2-mana creatures is pretty enticing, no? The best part is that basically every card that does this is Red, with the exceptions of Finest Hour (which is slightly anti-synergistic with Battle Cry) and Waves of Aggression which is the sole option for a mono-White deck. Try Dolmen Gate or Safe Passage to keep your guys from dying in combat, ensuring your army will actually survive to see the second assault.

Just remember: The single most important part of playing any Battle Cry deck is to have an effective battle cry that you yell at your opponents as you declare attackers. Otherwise, you don't get the +1/+0 bonus! At least that's how it works in my mind...

Enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A kinder, gentler Zur...

General:
Zur the Enchanter

White Creatures:
Sunblast Angel
Sun Titan
Yosei, the Morning Star
Akroma, Angel of Wrath

Blue Creatures:
Mulldrifter
Body Double
Vesuvan Doppleganger
Keiga, the Tide Star
Consecrated Sphinx

Black Creatures:
Fleshbag Marauder
Dimir House Guard
Shriekmaw
Puppeteer Clique
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Grave Titan
Massacre Wurm

Multicolor Creatures:
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Angel of Despair

Robots:
Solemn Simulacrum
Duplicant

Zur-chantments:
Seal of Cleansing
Luminarch Ascension
Oblivion Ring
Ghostly Prison
Battle Mastery
Rhystic Study
Copy Enchantment
Archmage Ascension
Propaganda
Phyresis
Seal of Doom
Necromancy
Steel of the Godhead

Planeswalkers:
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Venser, the Sojourner

Artifacts:
Sol Ring
Azorius Signet
Dimir Signet
Orzhov Signet
Coalition Relic
Obelisk of Esper
Mimic Vat
Skullclamp
Lightning Greaves
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Light and Shadow

Other Spells:
Path to Exile
Swords to Plowshares
Wrath of God
Phyrexian Rebirth
Deep Analysis
Foresee
Bribery
Rite of Replication
Time Spiral
Demonic Tutor
Barter in Blood
Damnation
Profane Command
Black Sun's Zenith
Vindicate

Land:
36 assorted lands, including the holy trinity of Kor Haven, Volrath's Stronghold and Academy Ruins...

This is a Zur deck that is trying to subvert the stereotypical image that Zur decks usually have. Which is that they are unfair, dick-ish and unfun to play against. To that end I'm not running many of the ubiquitous staples of the archetype, namely Necropotence and anything to do with locking players out of the game (i.e. Stasis prisons, etc...).

I have also built the rest of the deck in the manner of a "Good Stuff" deck with lots of powerful tempting spells to provide alternatives to the rather linear strategy of "attack with Zur, get echantments".

Sometimes I might not even attack with Zur, if something in my hand is more relevant or powerful than any particular Enchantment I could fetch up... I also have to be careful with piling a bunch of Aura's onto Zur because spot-removal is very prevelant in my metagame.

In a 1v1 game, I can probably afford to go aggro as fast as possible, often going through my buff auras first to get an early lead on general damage, but in a multi-player game, it's going to be wiser to wait until late game, when everyone seems to be running out of steam before I try to piling on auras.

One thing I'm seriously considering for this deck is to add the Sovereigns of Lost Alara + Eldrazi Conscription. I realize that seems like a bit douche-baggy, but really it would be more like a mercy killing.. instead of dying a slow, painful death 1 point of General Damage at a time, it's more like a 1-shot kill (using Sovereigns to get Conscription, and Zur himself to get Battle Mastery) putting them to a swift and merciful end.

In the one game I played so far, I was able to effectively gain the upper hand and take control of the board, but once in control I had trouble putting the game away. It took forever to actually kill anyone, and that made it seem like the game was dragging out a bit too long for all of us. With a well-timed Conscription, I can end the game much quicker, which if it seems to my opponents like I'm assured to win anyway, that would be a mercy, would it not?

On the other hand, it's a powerful enough combo that it might even let me steal a win when I'm actually losing... while that seems like a great reason to do it to ME, my opponents might not feel the same way.

It's something I'll have to consider, but I'm going to play at least a couple more games before making any changes...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Epic Win

THIS is the greatest thing ever...

Friday, February 11, 2011

MBS: Fat Pack Vanity Post

So cracking the box last weekend was an immensely satisfying venture... one I was quite eager to repeat. So much so, that one night this week I dreamed that I was buying a Fat Pack at a store and the guy at the counter accidentally gave me a free booster box!

Unfortunately, even in the dream world, I'm too goody-goody and I ended up going back to the store to give the box back... Nonetheless, the dream put the idea in my head that I really needed to open more packs. So today on the way home from work, I acquired myself a Fat Pack.

Fat Packs are now the semi-ridiculous price of $40.00, but I've been buying them since ever since Ravnica, and I kinda like having the D20, the box it comes in, and especially the little booklet with a laughable "Top 10 coolest cards" list that is almost always WAY off the mark... perhaps if they defined their criteria for "coolness" it might make more sense, but whatever...

Mostly, I just like to have the nice, glossy visual spoiler contained within, but the various flavor-centric parts are pretty cool, too. This one talks all about the Praetors of Phyrexia... ooh, ominous! How much you want to bet Phyrexia wins in the next set? Anyone?

So anyway, most would argue that the fat pack is rather bloated and overpriced, and you'd be better off just buying $40.00 worth of packs... and I'd agree, if the cards were the only thing I cared about, but I actually LIKE most of the frivolous material in these things. I was fine with them doing away with the novels, because those usually sucked anyway. The booklet seems to be shedding page count, but as long as it has a complete visual spoiler, it's worth having.

The newest inclusion is the two card-board deck boxes... yeah these are WORTHLESS to me. They won't hold a sleeved deck, so they're pretty much junk. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure these are added-value, and don't really contribute to the sticker price much, and I think there's a good chance their meant to be unique to MBS and it's faction-based war theme. I hope so, at least.

Enough chatter, though. As much as I like the spin-down die, we all know even I wouldn't buy the damn things if they didn't come with packs to rip open, and in this particular instance that aspect is really all I cared about, and I'd been craving the new-card-smell all damn day.

So Pack 1... rip, flip from the back (because who cares about commons anyway?), and it's a foil! Uh... Peace Strider. Meh, oh well... The rare: Shimmer Myr... not bad - I have a potential use for this if I get a few more.

Pack 2... Hero of Oxid Ridge. Nice. Nothing too exciting but it's a Mythic and one that I have a potential idea for. I'm happy to pull it, but kinda hope it's not the only Mythic... (Into the Core makes a fine EDH-playable Uncommon pull, too).

Pack 3... Psychosis Crawler. On one hand, it's pretty much worthless monetarily speaking. On the other hand, it's a poo rare that I happen to like and even though I haven't quite worked out the best use for it, I am sure to put it to good use somewhere. Go for the Throat in an uncommon slot is pretty good, though.

Pack 4...Phyrexian Revoker! Nice. a card with some monetary value that is worthless in EDH, which means I should be able to trade this to a Type 2 player relatively easily, and will probably come out ahead. Goblin Wardriver is the star uncommon of the pack.

Pack 5... Foil Leonin Relic Warden is lame, but looks kinda cool. Rare is Myr Turbine, a great casual card, and one that I'll happily put to use in a Myr Tribal deck. Viridian Corrupter is a nice uncommon pull. Kinda weak pack, overall...

Pack 6... Inkmoth Nexus! Score! Now we're talking - a rare of significant value, and somewhat playable in EDH. If I can trade this up for something sweet, I wouldn't mind doing so, but I'll be just as happy to hang on to this for later use... nothing else of note in the pack, but that's okay, the rare was great.

Pack 7... Magnetic Mine. Ouch, this fat pack is starting to hurt a bit... I'm going to have to REALLY appreciate the book and the spindown at this point. There isn't even a good uncommon in this pack.

Pack 8... Foil Spread the Sickness. Not really EDH playable, but cool art, and someone might want to trade for it... oh well. Three foils and none of them all that good... The Rare adds insult to injury: Bonehoard. Yikes, this has zero value - I am fairly certain I will never use this in any deck ever, and now I have THREE of them.

Pack 9... I'm so glad there is one last pack... if these things were still 8 packs, I'd have just gotten screwed. But here's the lightning round, all or nothing:

...

It's a Planeswalker.

That's right the last chance to open something amazing, and I rip THE money-rare: Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. Thank you God!

Now all I have to do is decide: Do I trade him off now before his value nose-dives? Or do I keep it until it reaches lofty heights a la the Mind Sculptor? Or do I just keep it for personal use, never minding the street value?

Because, I just began dismantling my Sharuum EDH, which was basically my only likely use for him... however I have been pondering a 60-card list for multiplayer involving Master Transmuter...

What to you prognosticators out there think? Is this guy's street value going to skyrocket like gold or crash like the housing market?

Anyway, pulling a $45 card from a $40 fat pack makes all the $1 rares that I admittedly was happy to open rather painless... I can safely say this was a worthwhile investment, and it satisfied my craving to open packs... for now!

Monday, February 7, 2011

First Impressions: MBS Prerelease, Booster Box, Draft. In that order.

So the new set is officially out, and I've had the chance to play a few games with the new cards. I attended the prerelease last weekend, and though I didn't perform nearly as well as I typically do, it was quite a lot of fun, and I am glad I went.

Midnight Friday I fought for the Mirrans and opened a Hero of the Bladehold (in addition to the promo handed out!) and went 3-1. Not bad, really, but that only got me three packs. Other than the hero my pulls were all less than stellar, but I traded for a Consecrated Sphinx, so that made up for it.

Saturday afternoon, I turned traitor and played Phryexia (mostly to get the other promo, now that I had two Hero's already). I ended up opening the Massacre Wurm and a Koth of the Hammer, so I was utterly thrilled with that, even though I walked away with a single pack in winnings after an abysmal 1-3 record.

This weekend, depsite Snowmageddon I was able to acquire a booster box of MBS, and had a few friends over for a casual draft. Before hand, I sat aside the 12 packs we'd need for draft purposes and cracked the other 24... I was quite happy with the results.

Four Mythic pulls including: Thrun, the Last Troll, Consecrated Sphinx, Praetor's Councel, and Hero of Oxid Ridge. Thrun and the Hero are pretty exciting constructed cards, while the EDH player in me was super-happy to get a second Sphinx and the Councel. And despite my rather "meh" opinion on the red Hero, I have revised my opinion somewhat, but more on that later...

As for the rest of the box, I managed to snag two Phryexian Rebirths, two Black Sun's Zeniths, a Mirrorworks, a Phryrexian Revoker (I dislike it, but it should be good trade fodder), Creeping Corrosion, Slagstorm (another card that will likely be sought after by Type 2 players here), and a Phryexian Crusader! Not too shabby at all. Regardless of the street value of some of these cards (Phryexian Rebirth is a $1 card? Really?!) many of them will either be very playable EDH cards, and if I can't find some other deck for the rest, they will be decent trade fodder.

As for the set itself, it doesn't really bring alot of new ideas to the table, mostly just expanding on ideas presented in Scars. It has a couple new mechanics, one of which is Battle Cry, which I like quite a bit, but isn't really all that new. It's a combat mechanic in the same vein as Exalted, so it doesn't really feel that new or exciting. That said, I got to play some Battle Cry in my Mirran deck at the prerelease.

It was rather fun, I admit, even if it wasn't an entirely new or unique experience. Oh, but I was going to talk about Hero of Oxid Ridge...

In my EDH review I kinda dissed it, saying I didn't understand why it was a Mythic. Well, I still think the guy is pretty unplayably for EDH, but I can at least see why he's a Mythic. In my sealed deck, every time I cast any creature with Battle Cry, I was wishing like hell that it had Haste. So many times getting that +1/+0 bonus right off the bat would have been amazing. Hero of the Blade Hold is still quite a bit better, but I now understand what Haste means on the Oxid Ridge hero. So I might have underestimated him a bit, at least for non-EDH purposes.

BTW, I have a Koth of the Hammer and a Hero of Oxid Ridge for trade if anyone is interested - as good as they are I don't really play mono-red, so I'd be happy to swap them for something more EDH worthy.

So, the draft... it was fun, at least for me. I pulled two shitty blue rares, but got passed a Victory's Herald (ok, it's crap elsewhere, but it's a Limited HOUSE!) and a Sangromancer. Both were great life-gaining flyers, so that coupled with the fact that I was the only player with any real amount of Infect in my deck meant that I had a HUGE life advantage over my opponents. They were all attacking my 20 life, while I was effectively only trying to deal 10.. so when one of my lifegainers came down it was even more of a one-sided battle.

In my third pack, I cracked a Green Sun's Zenith, so holy shit 2x Black and 1 Green? Fuckin' A! Got a Red one as well, but that one isn't as exciting.

Other players opened, among other things, a Mirran Crusader (so one of each in the box, nice) a foil Myr Welder, a Shimmer Myr (which I wanted for my Sharuum deck for a minute, then realized I kinda hated the deck, so never mind) the Sangromancer (which I ended up with), a Galvanoth and another Mirrorworks, so it was a fantastic box overall.

My deck was basically a black/white deck with a handfull of Infect guys, a few bomb-ass flyers, and so much goddamn removal I actually had to leave some in the board. In fact I had more non-creature spells than creatures in the deck, which is not something I'd normally do, but it worked amazingly well this time. It was a fun deck, and I hope I can draft something like it in a real tournament sometime.

So with an influx of new cards, hopefully I can start building and playing more, thus generating new content for the blog, but there weren't really too many cards that would inspire whole new decks - that's typical of a second set, so no biggie, but Scars of Mirrodin had me just bursting with ideas, while this set is more about "What can I use to beef up existing archetypes". Third sets usually have a bit more of a twist to them, with more unique cards to build around, so hopefully whatever the next set turns out to be will get my creativity flowing a bit more.

In the mean time, I have decided that neither the Sharuum deck nor the Sek'Kuar deck are really my cup of tea, so I need to dismantle them and rebuild. I was hoping not to do that until the EDH precons come out, but it seems unavoidable at this point. I just don't like them much.

Now I just need to figure out what to do: I could rebuild one of my old decks, taking a proven list and updating it with new goodies, or try something totally new. Or maybe rebuild one old deck, and one totally new deck... choices, choices!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mirrodin Besieged EDH Set Review: Part 3

Hi kids! Today we're going to cover the remainder of Mirrodin Besieged. Mostly this will be Artifacts, but will also cover the lands/multicolor portion, which is like 3 cards... well, let's get started.

 We'll start with the elephant in the room. I'll just be blunt and say it: this guy isn't going to live up to the hype. Yes, he's and indestrcutible one-hit-kill machine. He'll be played and he'll be good... but he won't be Emrakul. Even Red can effectively deal with this guy now, thanks to Into the Core.

That all said, he is quite a potent threat, so I do expect him to be quite good in any deck that can reasonably expect to cast him, or cheat him out somehow. Mono-G ramp now has an acceptable replacement for Emrakul.

Oh, one other thing... if you DO play this guy, beware of Bribery or Acquire. Mwah ha ha!
 So this is effectively a colorless Lhurgoyf that can just move to a new creature. Seems nice... but how good is Lhurgoyf in EDH? Not very, at least in my experience. I rate this one as unplayable.
 This cute little guy could find a home in Kemba decks, or any other deck that specifically goes for the Equipment Voltron strategy. Other than that, he's pretty useless for most decks.
 This thing is so weird. It causes life loss and Poison effects, which just seems redundant. The mill aspect is virtually worthless too, for EDH. This can help an Infect deck push through their Poison on a stalled board, but I'm not sure they'd want to spend so much mana to do it.
 I'll take my Greaves over this any day. This does have it's own appeal, but I find that most targeted removal in my metagame is of the RFG variety. For that reason I prefer Shroud over Indestructible.

I do expect people to play this, and I'm not necessarily saying it's wrong to do so. I wouldn't, is all.
 This card has such an awesome and fun effect, I want to put it in every deck just to see what wackiness can occur. However, since it works for everyone, it can blow up in your face pretty easily. I would strongly suggest that you relegate this to group hug, chaos and other deck types where winning is not that important. There are probably ways to mitigate the symmetry to your benefit, but I don’t really care about such applications. I’m just interested in seeing this thing create mind-raping rules nightmares.
 I'm pretty sure I didn't ask for a "fixed" Disciple of the Vault. But whoever DID ask for such a thing is probably pretty disappointed in this card.

This is awkward… it’s only going to be playable against artifact decks, but as an artifact itself, it will just die to your mass-artifact-removal (which, if you are running this kind of tech against Sharuum or whatever, you’re obviously running Shatterstorm effects too). That MIGHT kill them on the spot, but it probably won’t and then you don’t have THIS anymore, so… yeah. Awkward.
 A Minion Reflector for Artifacts and a nice, easy way to break the Singleton rule of EDH, this isn’t a terrible card by any means. However, Minion Reflector is much less narrow and hasn’t seen a great deal of play in EDH. It has its fans, sure, and this will definitely find some avid supporters as well. Having two of something IS usually better than having one of it, after all. I do have to wonder how much this and Prototype Portal will compete for a slot...
 Cute. If there is in fact a Myr Tribal deck out there in EDH-land, this is a must-run. I haven’t seen one yet, though.

 They must have really been proud of Necrotic Ooze to print essentially the same card in the very next set… except this one is pretty lame in comparison. You’ll get an in-depth comparison of the two later, but for now, I’ll just say that this is pretty bad, in my opinion.
 This isn’t terrible or terrific. Infect decks will probably be able to play this and be satisfied with it; it does kill in two hits, after all. Not too appealing elsewhere, though.
 You’d think that a Pithing Needle that could attack and block would be an improvement over the original, right? WRONG. This guy is much worse than the Needle, precisely because he’s a creature. That just makes him SO much more fragile. He’ll die to incidental board sweepers all the time, and his combat stats are hardly significant in EDH. The correct way to look at this guy is “a Pithing Needle that is much easier for your opponents to get rid of”.
Hmm, not bad… It is best in a deck that already seeks to abuse Niv-Mizzet as it provides some redundancy in effect, and you’re obviously already running lots of card-draw. It’s playable enough, if: A) your deck draws a ton of extra cards, and B) artifact hate isn’t too rampant in your metagame. I like it, possibly more than I should, and I kinda hope to see this showing up in some decklists.

 Oh good lord. Undoubtedly there are many folks out there who will squeal with delight to see this card printed… I am not among them. Obviously, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m generally not a big fan of any card that makes Sharuum/Dagsson decks even more broken (but have little to no use outside those archetypes).
 Yet another card in this set with AMAZING art, but a mediocre ability. If you are trying to enable metalcraft, this isn't a terrible choice, but overall it just makes whatever creature you Equip it to susceptible to even more removal. That's basically NEVER going to be worth a measly +1/+1 bonus to me. Shame, I was looking forward to collecting foils of this one for all my decks...
 Darksteel Ingot is better. It costs 1 more mana, but you get unlimited use AND Indestructibility out of the deal. Heck, Coalition Relic and even the Ravnica Signets are more appealing. I can’t imagine being desperate enough for mana-fixers to give this a second thought.

 WTF? This thing is wonky. Master Transmuter and Venser, the Sojouner both immediately spring to mind… This could be played in decks that can abuse it, but it’s far too clunky to use elsewhere, though I suppose it could be a (overcosted) Vindicate for mono-U decks. It’s a nice outside-the-box design, and outside-the-box deck builders should enjoy this.
 Man, I just don’t get it… so far the new Swords are rather unexciting and fail to live up to the standard set by Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Light and Shadow… and these new ones are MYTHIC for crying out loud! If anything, you’d expect them to be better than the originals. But no, WotC is dropping the ball big time with these. And as disappointing as it is, it may just be a blessing in disguise. SoFI and SoLS are so damn ubiquitous it’s actually kind of nice not having to agonize over which pair of Swords to run… or just imagine trying to find three cards to cut to run all five Swords. This particular Sword, though, is at least playable in EDH, whereas Body and Mind was patently terrible in the format. The “green half” is pretty good, actually – Bear Umbra is getting played, after all. In fact, certain decks will play it just for that ability alone. But the “black half” is rather weak and boring. It should have at least been “at random”. Oh well.
 With the name Titan Forge, you’d expect it to make 6/6’s. I’ll take 9/9’s any day, though. I don’t really think this is playable, except just as a fun card that will very occasionally do awesome things. I do realize there are ways to speed up the process (Doubling Season in particular seems amusing), but even with help, it’s still an artifact that makes artifact creatures – very fragile and will usually just get blown up before you get a single token out of it. I will probably try to use this in my Sharuum deck anyway, though, just for the fun-factor if nothing else.
This is a fun card. I don’t know how good it is, really, but it seems pretty neat. It’s almost like a Buyback creature – you can play it, and then let it bounce back to your hand, netting the tokens in the process. Then you just hang on to it until someone kills all your tokens, and start the process all over again. I definitely think it’s playable, but it seems a bit under the curve for most decks. You should almost certainly be able to find something better for its slot, but it is conceivable that there are a few decks out there that really want just this sort of ability.










And the last few cards of the set, then we're done!


 And, the Planeswalker we all knew was coming… Tezzeret 2.0. On one hand, he does seem more powerful than his previous incarnation. On the other, he’s just kinda boring… he basically just does the same thing as Tezzie 1.0 but in slightly different ways. Which makes sense… but it’s just tough to get excited about it. It is worth noting that 4 mana seems to be the magic number for Planeswalkers – all the best ones cost four. His Ultimate is pretty easy to pull off compared to most others, and it can outright kill a person on the spot fairly easily. All in all, he’s definitely playable, but not very interesting.
 Yeah… pretty sure not too many people are going to want to play this, which such a steep downside. It could find a home in group hug of course, (as does nearly any card that might help you opponents more than yourself). Perhaps aggressive goblin or token decks could conceivably make use of this. Even that seems like a big if.
A very good land, and one that Skithyrix decks will be quite happy to run. Any deck with a modicum of Infect will be happy to supplement that strategy with this card. It could even pop up in Rafiq decks - even with just Putrefax and this, you have a reasonable chance at Poisoning you opponent to death fairly easily.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mirrodin Besieged EDH Set Review: Part 2 (Green)

Ugh, I’m going to hate seeing this cast in EDH. Even when not playing an actual “artifact deck” it seems like I’m almost always the player with the most artifacts on the table. I love my Sol Rings, Signets and Swords! Still, this card already existed as Shatterstorm, and I’ve been doing just fine, so maybe this won’t be as bad as I fear. In case you want a more objective opinion – this is very playable, but somewhat subject to your metagame.

This is easily my favorite of the Zenith cycle, even if it’s probably not the “best” of the bunch. It only gets creatures, and in fact only green ones at that. So it’s a little narrower that I’d like it to be, but I’ve always been a big fan of cards like Wargate and Chord of Calling. This is comparable, if not quite in the same class. I can think of a few decks I’d be more than happy to play this in, regardless.
I’ll just be up front here – I’d rather play Harmonize. This has some potential to give you great card advantage, but realistically it will just miss or be a 1-for-1 far too often. Conceivably, a Mayael the Anima deck may consider this as an option.
When I first saw this, I misread it as being vastly better than what it actually is. That said, a 7/7 Infect guy for five mana is not something to be written off lightly. I imagine there are a few decks that would be happy to run this, one of which is, of course, Rafiq. It is yet another potential one-hit-kill there. Putrefax is probably still the better choice for that deck, but I guess if there’s room for two…
Well, it’s strictly better than Wing Snare and usually better than Plummet in any deck that cares about Poison, but too narrow to be worthwhile outside of an Infect-oriented deck.
Well, that text box sure sounds "you win the game" to me... the knocks against this come from it's ginormous mana cost, plus the fact that graveyard hate is prevelant in most decks. Getting this hosed by a Bojuka Bog or Relic of Progenitus is going to hurt BAD. Many EDH players are excited about this, but I remain skeptical, but optimistic.

 So basically, a Viridian Shaman with Infect? Sure, seems fine. If I’m running Shaman in any decks, I’ll be happy to upgrade it to this guy. The extra green shouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that I don’t think I run the Shaman in anything anymore. I usually look for things with the text “target artifact or enchantment” for versatility… I hate having a dead card in hand.
Man, they keep trying but they still haven’t made something I’d play over Sakura-Tribe Elder and Wood Elves.




















Well, that's it for Part 2. Join me for Part 3 where I will cover Tezzie and the Artifacts. Oh, and a land or two.

Mirrodin Besieged EDH Set Review: Part 2 (Red)

This has such an awesome ability, I really want to give this guy a good review, but objectively, he's quite fragile. Also, I keep thinking he has Flying because of the art. Overall, I guess he's kinda bad, but if you build around him just a little, he could do some disgusting things.

I like him, and I hope he finds a good home.
Well, okay! This could actually be pretty good in aggro Goblin builds. I think he’ll do just fine there…

 Holy SHIT that is some amazing art. One of the best Dragon illustrations of the last few sets, easily. Unfortunately, it's wasted on one of the more disappointing dragons of the last few sets. His ability just doesn't line up with what most Red EDH decks want to do. And seven mana is just too steep for what is basically going to be a frech-vanilla 5/5 flyer with Haste.

... so disappointing!
 I don’t really see why this is Mythic. Next to Hero of the Bladehold, he just seems “meh”… it’s probably way better than I imagine, at least in Constructed, but I don’t see him being great in EDH at all. I’d rather have Flametongue Kavu any day.
 Good solid utility… this will see some play. It’s not exciting or anything, but it’s certainly good. “Exile” is so much better than “Destroy” in EDH, where virtually every deck has some form of recursion. And it’s a strict 2-for-1, unless you’re so desperate to nuke an opponent’s Sword of Fire and Ice that you’ll happily target your own Signet too (because this isn’t an “up to two” card – you HAVE to have two targets to cast this). Beware of sac effects, though, because a crafty opponent can sac one of the two targeted artifacts in order to save the other one… (Ed note: I guess I was wrong on that last part. Oh well, that makes this card even better!)
Ha ha ha, this is pretty bad overall, but it would be so frickin’ awesome to see someone “Threaten” an opponent’s Mindslaver and use it on them. That possibility alone is what makes this card awesome.
 I’m not a big fan of X spells that do damage in EDH. I like Death Grasp well enough, and Profane Command is simply fantastic, but Fireball and the like are pretty lame to me. I feel like if I’m not using it to outright kill an opponent it isn’t worth casting. I’m just saying this so you’ll understand that I’m not the best person to objectively rate this card, but if I had to guess I’d say this was fairly playable. The shuffle-back-in effect is nice and all, but it’s still just a boring card to me. Experienced Red Mages should be able to make up their own minds…
This card is much easier to rate. The “opponents” option is just pathetic in a 40-starting-life environment for one thing. The “creature” half is a tiny bit better, and will be fine against a few decks, but 3 damage is usually not enough to kill anything truly scary or important. Basically this is just more tech against tokens and that is all it will ever be.

Mirrodin Besieged EDH Set Review: Part 2 (Black)

 Much like his Mirran twin, this guy is just too small to be a realistic threat in the EDH world. He does have a slight upside in that Infect makes him a slightly better blocker, but he's still pretty underpowered. Even die-hard Infect players should give this one a pass, but they probably won't.
Alright, so we get two playable board sweepers in this set. Nice. This is probably the best one of the Zenith cycle, although I greatly prefer the Green one, as it seems more fun and creative. But the Black variant is hugely powerful, and should see plenty of play, despite having stiff competition in the form of Damnation and Decree of Pain. Profane Command also competes as a XBB spell, and is rather more versatile.
 I've been known to play Doom Blade in an EDH deck now and then. It's not super, but it usually does the trick. So will this, usually. It's really just a metagame call as to which restriction is tougher: "non-black" or "non-artifact".
The existence (and vast superiority) of Puppeteer Clique means that this won’t get played much, unless the Clique is such an MVP in your deck that you want the redundant effect. Or, if you just don’t HAVE a Puppeteer Clique, this could be an okay stand-in. As someone who LOVES robbing my opponents graveyard, I should love this card… but I don’t. It’s playable, but Black just has access to many better versions of this effect.
 Woah! This is right up there with Phyrexian Rebirth and Consecrated Sphinx in power and potential. He’s nearly a Titan in stats, as a 6/5 for six, which is good. He has an ETBF ability that is often going to at least have a small impact on the board, and this is supplemented by a nice triggered ability that, if left on the board for long, will wreck an opponent’s life total. Furthermore, against certain decks (namely, Token decks) he can easily be a one-card, instant-win combo. His mere existence will make Rhys and Rith players quake in their seats.
I initially skipped this without planning to even mention it. However, after seeing it in action at the prerelease I decided to at least post it here for props. It's a solid card-advantage machine, in a subtle way. First off, you are getting a 2-for-1 deal, that much is obvious. But if the two creatures you get back cost your opponent a card each to get rid of, you are really getting more like a 4-for-1. It's still probably not quite EDH material but it IS better than I thought...
 If a deck is already running Tainted Strike, there's a good chance it would want this too. One has surprise, the other has permanence. There are situations were either could be better than the other.
I can’t fathom why you’d want this even in an Infect-heavy deck. It’s just a big stupid guy for a slight discount, with a significant drawback. There are better options even with so few Infect guys currently in print.
 Pretty weak, sadly. I was really counting on her being more playable. She's not terrible, mind you, but a little on the weak side for EDH. I imagine her art will convince a few players to overlook this fact, however.
Expensive removal is expensive! And all that extra mana, just so you can Proliferate? That’s a pretty narrow bonus that might not do anything at all. If you have a deck that is just all about the Proliferation, this card is for you… otherwise it is crap.