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Friday, January 29, 2010

Seismic Hunt (be careful when you say that), a budget deck for Extended

Seismic Assualt x4
Treasure Hunt x4
Mountain x39
Island x13

No really, that's it. $10, and you can wreck someones day at a PTQ in the near future.

That's all you need. It goes off pretty consistently, often by turn 4, and almost always by turn 5.It really doesn't benefit from a sideboard. The deck is truly too simple to deal with board adjustments.

What it can deal with, is adjustments to the land base. I intended this to be an ultimate budget example, and it works pretty well with just basic lands. If you do have more resources, then go for the gusto. Honestly though, it doesn't greatly improve the consistency. Here is some things to consider;

Manlands (particularly the red one)
RU shocklands
RU painlands
RU fetchlands
Cascade Bluffs
Crumbling Necropolis
Reliquary Tower
 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Worldwake: New Technology

I was looking over the set last night, attempting to find some edge to take into this weekends events, and stumbled across something pretty fresh.Give this a try this weekend, if your pool gives you the opportunity. I think you will find that it's a solid level up.


Turn 1: Play a fetch land.

Turn 2: Play a basic land, and Wind Zendikon the fetch land.(This works with any of the enchantments, but I like this one best.)

The created creature is fairly exceptional. Not only is it a creature in a traditional sense, but it becomes a super blocker. Us it as a chump blocker, and before damage resolves, sac the fetch land. You prevented the impending combat damage, searched up a land, and returned the fetch to you hand to be played again.

I'm not say'n, I'm just say'n!

This same technology can be applied to any profitably sac'ed land.

Anybody play Wasteland in Legacy?

Did Dark Depths Combo, just get a free repeat as a back up plan?

Gargoyle Caste 2.0?

Gemstone Mine again anyone?

Krosan re-Verge-d ?

Lake of the Dead?

Lotus Vale?

Will Mouth of Ronom give you opponent the cold shoulder?

Quicksand-bagged?

Strip Mine!

Seems Good!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Worldwake: Pauper Perspective

Now that the latest set, Worldwake is 100% known, it's time to give the cards a once over. Today, I'm going to be looking at the commons of the set, to see if here is anything worthy of note.

Halimar Excavator will be a powerhouse in limited, and will make Allies the most sought after deck at the draft table. Limited is really the only place that mill is viable, so players won't want to miss the opportunity to live the dream of the first alternate win condition.

Skitter Lizard has exactly what every one drop creatures want; the option to be relevant in the late game. This little tongue flicker can get big, and it's hasty, so it will be beating face almost as soon as it hits the table. This looks to be a cycle, with a creature in every color. So far the red one looks to be the only one relevant, but others may still prove themselves.

Dispel will have an impact in Pauper, but I don't expect it to make any waves any where else. It's simply to narrow for most formats, but the abilility to hard counter an instant is just the thing a blue mage needs in pauper.

The Zendikons give a good, enchantment option that yields a creature. Don't forget to factor in the land that tied up, when you evaluate the cost. You won't get two for oned with these, but you are down your choice of a land or a creature each turn. This decision makes the blue one the best in my opinion, even though it may be the most over costed.

Join the Ranks may be the best common in the set, and will make allies a force on the pauper front. It is card advantage in it's own right, and just gets better depending on what allies you have in play. I thought this was good as an uncommon, but as a common is nearly broken.

Explore will get you there. It's as close to strictly better as I am willing to acknowledge. Assuming you have a 3rd land in your hand, it allows you to ramp up, and thins your deck with a draw, that could be a non-land card. Seems good, especially in Pauper.

Treasure Hunt may be the best blue draw spell printed int eh last year at the common level, and will shake up the format.

Seering Blaze is the real deal, and may well be the second incarnation of Lightning Bolt. As long as your opponent has a valid creature target, and you are able to drop a land, this is like casting two Lightning Bolts off the same card. It's a lot like card advantage, and I've heard that is a good thing.

Walking Atlas could become important in Pauper, as one of the few ways to get a Landfall trigger at instant speed.

The new common land cycle is pretty decent. The black one allows you to Crypt a yard, and the blue allows you to peek and arrange the top three cards. Both will see play in Pauper, and possibly beyond. The green one, which 187's a 0/1 plant token creature, could be relevant in other formats running token/overrun strategies. I don't think there is much in the pauper that would make this a top choice. I think the tempo loss is larger then the card advantage from the token.

Battle Hurda is overcosted, but you have to give a 3/3 first strike at least a second look.

Brink of Disaster shows a lot of potential, and a return to old school thinking in the black color pie. I'm not sure it will see much play, it's mana cost is at a tough spot in the curve, but it really fills a void in pauper black.

Dead reckoning is way cool, but doesn't black have better ways to kill a creature?

Jagwasp swarm is the best black common creature in the set.

Ruthless Cullblade may be the best beat stick in limited, but it's very conditional, so only time will tell.

Rolling Terrain could bring land destruction back to pauper, but I'm just not sure it's enough.

All in all the power level of this set is a bit lack luster, but at least in the commons, there is some thing to be seen. Several cards here have the potential to change pauper, but most will not have impact in the broader formats.

Grim Tidings #19 - World-weak's Impact on 5C

It’s that time again, and I want to be one of the first with their obligatory New-Expansion-Set review article. The spoiler is complete for Worldwake now, and I have to say I’m a little disappointed. I thought the second set on a Land-themed block would offer some fantastic Tier-1 cards for 5-Color, but instead just gives us some average ones.

Let me premise this article with what 5C is. 5-color Magic is a format that requires you to build a deck of at least 300 cards, with a minimum of 25 cards from each color. I encourage everyone to go to the actual http://www.5-color.com/ link, but basically all cards are legal, except for the Unglued/Unhinged expansions, and there is a special Banned/Restricted list specific to this format. Highlander is optional, but extremely fun.

When I consider a card for this list, it’s in terms of a big-deck format. There will be a lot of cards out there that are better for Standard or Legacy or whatever 60-card format, but for this review, I’m really just looking at the best cards and their impact for 5-Color (and to a lesser extent EDH).

Worldwake or World-Weak?
My overall impression is that I don’t see many cards making into First Reminder from this set. I treat First Reminder as a collection of the best-of-the-best, so to make that list, the card really has to be special, or be strictly better than its predecessor. I don’t think Worldwake is complete crap for 5C, it’s just not Tier 1. There are a lot of cards that are beneficial for entry level decks, but for the uppermost echelon, there are certainly better choices available from previous years.

Countdown!
So anyways, let’s get started this time, I’ll stick to the traditional Top-10. (For now just reference the spoiler. I’ll add the corresponding card images as I find them…)

10.) Bojuka Bog - The Bog is an OK graveyard hoser, essentially a Tormod’s Crypt that costs B since it enters the battlefield tapped (ETBT). Of course it makes B too, which is a plus side. Unfortunately though, you have to RFG your opponent’s ‘yard when it enters the battlefield, so your timing ability to surprise them is limited. It would have been much much better if you sacrifice the Bog for the effect, rather than a “come into play”.


9.) Jace, the Mind Sculptor – New Jace is probably better for Legacy than 5C. However, don’t let that dissuade you from using him in your big decks. He Brainstorms for 0, so even if your 100+ land manabase dilutes the shuffling efficiency of your 10 Fetch-lands, it still has a lot value. I would never fault anyone for playing this, (just don’t count on exiling someone’s library with his ultimate.)



8.) Arbor Elf – Normally, I would suggest that you just play Llanowar Elves if you wanted acceleration, but Arbor Elf does something special in 5C. It allows you to untap a forest, which includes dual lands such as Tropical Island or Savannah. What you effectively get is a Bird of Paradise, if you have the lands to synergize with this. Not necessarily great on its own, but OK with the right manabase.



7.) Harabaz Druid – Likewise, the “Bird of Paradise Ally” is notable for 5C as well. Occasionally, you will have a second Ally in play (probably in the form of Chameleon Colossus) so you might actually get more than one mana when you tap it. Don’t count on it though in a 300-card deck, but consider Harabaz Druid a complement and/or replacement for Utopia Tree.


6.) Everflowing Chalice – It ain’t great, but it ain’t bad either. Chalice is a good early game card to give you a quick mana pump for 1, or midgame to get you over the hump with you 6-7 casting cost finishers. Too bad it only makes colorless. I’d still rank it behind Mind Stone for comparison sake.




5.) Raging Ravine – I’m lumping the entire cycle of all of the Dual Man-lands at #5. I’m honestly not too impressed. When you have the entire pantheon of dual lands to choose from in 5C, you have to be pretty darn good to make the cut. Any dual lands are still generally good though for 5C.

But consider the following (RG) alternatives, which I believe are superior: Taiga, Stomping Grounds, Wooded Foothills, Fire-lit Thicket, Rootbound Crag. What do they all have in common? They don’t come into play tapped. ETBT is a horrible attribute that you should be always wary of. I prefer to have as few as possible, running only 15 or so in First Reminder (most of which produce 3-5 different colors of mana).

All bashing aside though, I still may include Celestial Colonnade (That’s one L, two Ns for you spelin’ gurus) in place of Faerie Conclave, since it’s no worse tempo-wise, and it has a much bigger butt.


4.) Thada Adel, Acquisitor – On her own, Thada Adel probably wouldn’t make this list. In a 60-card format, her ability is far too narrow to be effective main deck. You really have to know what your opponent is playing before you dedicate a slot to artifact stealing. However in 5C, everyone has 300 options to choose form, many of which will be super-uber-powerful-broken artifacts. Why use your own when you can use your opponent’s Memory Jar, Umezawa’s Jitte, Tawnos’s Coffin, or Chaos Orb? I personally won’t run Darksteel Colossus due to Bribery/Acquire, and Thada adds to that fear. (That doesn’t mean I won’t give her a spin myself for shigiggles!)


3.) Stoneforge Mystic – Any card that is a tutor deserves attention in 5C. For a very reasonable 2 mana, Stoneforger lets you search out your Sword of Fire & Ice, Jitte, or Skullclamp. Combined with the fact this is a 187 creature, you have the makings of a recursive engine to victory. It still pales to Stonehewer Giant though.


2.) Tectonic Edge – To the Magi’s dismay, I wrote an entire article regarding the necessity of land destruction in 5C not so long ago. Tectonic Edge file is spot in line behinds Strip Mine, Wasteland, and Dustbowl. Is it better than Ghost Quarter? Probably. But if you’re playing a highlander version of 5C, go ahead and play both anyways. It won’t hurt.


1.) Chain Reaction - This might be the one and only Wolrdwake card that makes my First Reminder deck. Widely regarded as the Red-Wrath, it is an excellent board sweeper. I play in a lot of multiplayer games, so the reaction is likely to be big… well at least as big as a Firespout, which this card is destined to replace for me. I’ll give up that flexibility to nuke the entire board instead.


So there's my sarcastic analysis of the new set. Good luck with your 5C games with Worldwake!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Repack Walk Through- Week 4

Welcome to the fourth installment of my Repack Walk Through Project. Each week I'm going to crack a repack, and do a walk through of the contents. I've seen these sort of draft walk through done a lot of different ways, but in my mind, there is one critical question to ask about every card. Should this wheel and why? I use a three point system to analyze a pack  In a "normal" pack, there should be 5 cards of each grade in them.

1) Shouldn't Wheel- these are the best cards in the pack, and should be scooped up before the pack comes back around. Your first pick should almost always come from this group, since odds are you shouldn't see any of them again. If one of these does come back around, and it still fits your developing plan, it's almost a sure thing to pick up on the wheel. One of these coming around may also indicate an open color, or deck strategy, and always worth giving a little thought to.

2) May Wheel-I put these at a 50/50 to wheel. your second pick in the pack will usually come from this group, since the #1 in the pack should already be gone. This group will tell you more about the other decks forming at the table then any other source of information. When the pack wheels around to you in pick nine, there should only be two cards from his group left, picks 9 and 10. The three that are already gone tell you a lot about the "best decks" being built by players 6, 7, and 8. Like wise the card you don't pick, will give you a clue to the "best deck" to be built by the player in position 2. This for all intensive purposes gives you a peek at 4 other decks being constructed. Counting your own deck, this gives you some degree of contrived knowledge about 5 out of 8 decks. If you do this type of thinking for all three packs int he draft, in addition to having perfect knowledge of your deck, you have had 3 peeks at 2 decks (positions 2, and 8), 2 peeks at 2 decks (positions 6, and 7), and one peek at 2 additional decks (positions 3, and 4). It's not a perfect world, and certainly as much art as science, but that is a lot of potential information. Since Repack is main deck mod, you should have a good idea of what you may face against nearly any other player at the table.

3) Should Wheel- This is the crap of the crap. If it wheels, it's exactly what I expected, and increases the likeliness of the predictions made from group 2. If it doesn't it makes things a bit more interesting. In essence it tells me that one or more persons isn't building their "best deck" instead making sub-optimal picks. In this case you are much more likely to have four "bester" decks, those that benefited from better then expected late picks, and then four "worster" decks, those making bad picks, or getting the shaft as others jump on cards expected for their "best" deck.

Mind Bomb- 3
Agent of Masks- 1
Thornbite Staff- 3
Blue Ward- 3
Aboshan's Desire- 3
Argothian Pixies- 2
Icatian Infantry- 3
Goblins of Flarg- 2
Galvanic Arc- 1
Violet Pall- 1
Entangling Vines- 2
Cloud Sprite- 2
Craw Wurm- 1
Trumpet Blast- 2
Snapping Drake- 1


This is another great pack, with good temporal, prismatic, and power mix. I've already discussed the goodness of Snapping Drake in a recent week, and Craw Wurm is real beef, but a little hard to splash. taking the Wurm would be a commitment to green, or a wasted first pick. It's high casting cost would make it unlikely to run multiples in a limited deck, and it is a frequently printed card. You have a good shot to see another one, even if you let this one go. Agent of Masks really brings the heat to a repack deck. It has a relevant toughness, and it's syphon ability will have allow you to progress despite a clogged board position. The 2 point swing each turn will have to be dealt with. Violet Pall is a decent conditional removal spell, but it's a bit over costed, and the token it creates for your team is more often then not, irrelavent. My pick here would be Galvanic Arc. It's a decently costed 3 direct damage spell, and doubles the utility of any bear. I'd say it's worth creating an opportunity to get 2-4-1'ed if you get double the impact in the intrum.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2009 Planeswalker Idol: Results Show American Style

Contributed by special guest correspondent Paul Abduela

It's been another exciting week here on Planeswalker Idol. Sorin put the bite on the competition, and sucked the life out of Garruk. Nicol on the other hand, did not rise to the occasion, and may have been to proud to allow America to decide his hate.

This last week puts Sorin, Ajani, and Jace head to head, in a fight for the 2009 Planeswalker Idol title. Lets put the spot light on a couple of our last contestants.

Ajani Goldmane is a planeswalker who wields white magic. His specialty is magic of the purification of body and soul: spells that heal and strengthen his allies, and spells that evoke the inner, spiritual essence of others. Ajani Goldmane is torn between his leonin ferocity and his sense of justice. He was born as an outcast within his own family, an albino leonin never accepted by the rest of his pride. The only person who cared about him was his brother Jazal, the leader of their pride and Ajani's inspiration. Ajani had always shown potential as a mage and healer, but had assumed his main calling was to be a warrior in Jazal's service. The day that Ajani's brother was assassinated by unknown forces was the day that Ajani's planeswalker spark ignited, and everything changed.
No longer could Ajani worry about his tiny problems of social acceptance. His quest to discover his brother's killer has led him into a tangle of intrigue woven by mysterious forces, forcing him to broaden his skills as a warrior and to unlock new potential within himself. Ajani teeters on the edge between principled justice and bloody revenge as everything he once knew crumbles around him.

Jace Beleren is a planeswalker who wields blue magic. His specialty is mental magic: spells of mind-reading, illusion, knowledge, and deception. Curiosity has always gotten the better of Jace Beleren. As a magical prodigy, he delved into lessons of sorcery deeper than the other students in mage academies, and succeeded to the point that even his instructors were suspicious of him. As a specialist in mind magic, he uses his abilities to gaze into the minds of others, discovering even closely guarded secrets. This practice has lead him into danger more than once. In fact, his mind magic has helped him discover the existence of planeswalkers and of worlds beyond his own, opening his eyes to an even greater scope of secrets.
Now that Jace's own planeswalker spark has ignited, his curiosity has begun to take him deep into the Blind Eternities, the chaotic void that holds all the planes of the Multiverse. Jace has finally found a milieu vast enough to satisfy his thirst for knowledge.
Jace now faces the same problem of every exceptional being: the temptations of power. His skills in illusion, mind-reading, and even memory modification have flourished during his travels, and they've helped him gain ever broader access to the secrets he craves. But the deeper he delves, the more he encounters individuals and beings who don't want him prying into their business...and who have the power to stop him. Jace has the potential to rival even these adversaries if he's willing to cast aside the limits of his conscience and embrace the power rising within him. The enemy colors of white and black are like an angel and devil on his shoulders. Will he choose to use his abilities to enrich those he cares about, or to empower only himself? However Jace chooses, the realization of his potential will have a dramatic effect on the Multiverse.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Peasant Magic: There can be only...5?

Early in the history of the Gathering, there was a great divide, between the haves and the have not. Those with the resources and inclination to build large collections, with vast resources of powerful rare cards, and those who didn't. In order to address this issue, and attempt to preserve the game for those who couldn't or wouldn't go all in, a number of house rules developed, limiting deck design or resources. The concept was to set limits on the quantity or types of cards allowed to be played in a given event. Now you have to remember this was long before the creation of the DCI, or any structured formats that we think of today, even before the 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 formats, which were the earliest widespread formats.

One of the earliest attempts to adddress this issue, was Peasant Magic, developed by Robert Baranowski. You can find perhaps the earliest web entries regarding Peasant as a format here. It was born out of frustration of not being able to build competitive level decks without the use of certain rare cards, so Robert did the only thing he could. He created a format which could not be played with rare cards at all. The article is a good read, and I highly recommend it. The format is primarily defunct now, having been replaced by the Extended and Legacy format options, and until recently fully addressed in the Pauper format.

Construction was simple. Build a deck of sixty cards. you could use any amount of commons you like, and you could use up to 5 uncommons. No rares. This was a tough format, since most mana fixing and dual lands were rare in the early days. The early days left a lot of interpretation as to the commonality of cards, what with many expansions sets having no rares, and different versions of the same card, printed at different rates with in the same set. It made for very confusing times, and allowed some cards like Strip Mine to be played as a common, while it's power level was clearly uncommon. Today we have Gatherer to give us a more accurate definition of a cards rarity, and it's lowest paper commonality is used for any card. Strip Mine is now defined as a uncommon. Like wise Loxodon Warhammer is also an uncommon.

With the new addition of Mythic as an upper tier commonality, many people have begun to feel that the all common pauper format is simply to restrictive, and no longer addresses the niche of players for which it was orginally intended. Peasant, currently on the wayside of Magic play, not having had any real work done on it as a format since Ravnica block some 4 years ago, may be in a position to shine again in the casual corner. Many, myself include, feel that it gives the right balance of restriction and creativity to be an interesting format for today's budget minded players.

So what if you could only have 5 uncommon cards, not just in a deck, but period. Only five, and no rares. You are a planeswalker who has recently ignited your spark. You were born to a plane where magic is easy to come by, many people are able to perform minor acts of Magic, without training. On the contrary Magic is suppressed on the plane, and has not been able to develop into higher level, and even rare arcane works from other planes are unable to function with in the plane. Even mid range magics draw an unusually large amount of your energy, and mages have learned to limit their exposure to this unending draw, by keeping their magic repituar as simple as they can. Many a greedy mage has been consumed by their own quest for higher powers.

So, if you can only have hive uncommons, what five would they be? My first thought is that I would want to pick 5 cards which could be used in virtually any deck, so I could get the most use out of my most powerful spells. My inclination would be utility lands and artifacts. Strip Mine, and Maze of Ith immediately jump to mind. Loxodane Warhammer, Skullclamp, Sensei's Devining Top, Aether Vial, Isochron Scepter, and Sol Ring are all above average artifacts, that could find a home in nearly any deck. Demonic Tutor, jumps to the head of the pack in the minds of many, but what really makes the best of the best?

Ben Bleiweiss did some really excellent work (Part_One and Part_Two) regarding the existence of "Super Uncommons". This seems like an ideal place to start, when thinking about the best uncommons in the game. From these articles, we can easliy add many cards to our watch list. We also need to give special attention to uncommons which were later upgraded to rares, as this gives a good indication of an above par power level.

Based on these thought processes, we have developed the following Banned, restricted, and Watch lists.

Banned

Bazaar of Baghdad
Berserk
Channel
Counterbalance
Force of Will
Imperial Recruiter
Ivory Tower
Khabal Ghoul
Library of Alexandra
Loyal Retainers
Magnetic Mountain
Mana Drain
Recall
Sea Drake
Skullclamp
Strategic Planning
Voice of All
Winds of Change

Restricted

Brass Herald
City of Brass
Demonic Tutor
Fact or Fiction
Gemstone Mine 
Isochron Scepter
Jalum Tome
Land Tax
Maze of Ith
Mystical Tutor
Noble Purpose
Regrowth
Shifting Sky
Sol Ring
Stripmine
Sylvan Library
Tinker
Underworld Dreams
Windfall

Watch

Path to Exile
Remand
Eternal Witness
Cabal Therapy
Fact or Fiction
Kitchen Finks
Standstill
Goblin Lackey
Mother of Runes
Treetop Village
Faerie Conclave
Voltaic Key
Ancient Tomb
Crystalline Sliver
Reanimate
Wall of Blossoms
Wasteland
Buried Alive
Enlightened Tutor
Elvish Spirit Guide
Pyroclasm
Swords to Plowshare
Serra Angel
Clone
Sengir Vampire
Story Circle
Armagedon Clock
Coastal Piracy
Eye for an Eye
Fallen Angel
Flying Carpet
Hurricane
Hypnotic Spector
Jade Statue
Larcony
Lava Hounds
Millstone
Mind Bend
Mishra's Factory
Noble Purpose
Onulet
Primal Clay
Relic Bind
Rocket Launcher
Sengir Autocrat
Shifting Sky
Skull of Orm
Sleight of Mind
Sorceress Queen
Titania's Song
Urza's Armour
Wall of Wonder
Warped Devotion
Xenic Poltergiest

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Repack Walk Through- Week 3

Welcome to the third week of my Repack Walk Through Project. Each week I'm going to crack a repack, and do a walk through of the contents. I've seen these sort of draft walk through done a lot of different ways, but in my mind, there is one critical question to ask about every card. Should this wheel and why? I use a three point system to analyze a pack  In a "normal" pack, there should be 5 cards of each grade in them.

1) Shouldn't Wheel- these are the best cards in the pack, and should be scooped up before the pack comes back around. Your first pick should almost always come from this group, since odds are you shouldn't see any of them again. If one of these does come back around, and it still fits your developing plan, it's almost a sure thing to pick up on the wheel. One of these coming around may also indicate an open color, or deck strategy, and always worth giving a little thought to.

2) May Wheel-I put these at a 50/50 to wheel. your second pick in the pack will usually come from this group, since the #1 in the pack should already be gone. This group will tell you more about the other decks forming at the table then any other source of information. When the pack wheels around to you in pick nine, there should only be two cards from his group left, picks 9 and 10. The three that are already gone tell you a lot about the "best decks" being built by players 6, 7, and 8. Like wise the card you don't pick, will give you a clue to the "best deck" to be built by the player in position 2. This for all intensive purposes gives you a peek at 4 other decks being constructed. Counting your own deck, this gives you some degree of contrived knowledge about 5 out of 8 decks. If you do this type of thinking for all three packs int he draft, in addition to having perfect knowledge of your deck, you have had 3 peeks at 2 decks (positions 2, and 8), 2 peeks at 2 decks (positions 6, and 7), and one peek at 2 additional decks (positions 3, and 4). It's not a perfect world, and certainly as much art as science, but that is a lot of potential information. Since Repack is main deck mod, you should have a good idea of what you may face against nearly any other player at the table.

3) Should Wheel- This is the crap of the crap. If it wheels, it's exactly what I expected, and increases the likeliness of the predictions made from group 2. If it doesn't it makes things a bit more interesting. In essence it tells me that one or more persons isn't building their "best deck" instead making sub-optimal picks. In this case you are much more likely to have four "bester" decks, those that benefited from better then expected late picks, and then four "worster" decks, those making bad picks, or getting the shaft as others jump on cards expected for their "best" deck.


Plague of Vermin- 3
Corpse Connoisseur- 2
Lifeforce- 3
Mind Control- 2
Goblin Shrine- 3
Gave of Pain- 1
Benevolent Unicorn- 1
Kjeldoran Warrior- 3
Smash- 3
Beacon Hawk- 2
Orzhov Euthanist- 1
Kithkin Daggerdare- 1
Razorfoot Griffin- 1
Cylian Elf- 2
Coral Merfolk- 2


Right off the bat it should be clear that this is a good pack. The temporal, prismatic, and power distributions are dead on. Black and White look to be the strongest colors, while blue and red fade to the back. While there is a fair number of good, and marginal cards here, Razorfoot Griffin is head and shoulders above the others. A 2/2 first striker kills 2/3 of the creatures commonly in the format. The evasion ability makes it a formabale attacker as well. Orzhov Euthanist is really a good card in this pack as well. Reusable removal (even conditional removal), with legs is a solid potential first pick here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Life in the Zoo: Legacy Pt.8 -Mercenary Style

I was able to line up sponsor ship for SciFi Genre's weekly Legacy event on the 17th. I am going to have to play the "B" team, since I won't have Goyfs for the event. I've been playing the list that way all week, so I can have a good feel for that mode, and I've been able to draw several conclusion in the process. First off, and please excuse this observation, but damn this list has gotten good, if I do say so myself. Secondly, the "B" team is pretty good in it's own right, and actually (slightly) improves one of my worst match ups, CounterTop-Goyf.


I also found that while I have no sideboard support, my unique build gives me a very strong mirror match up. It  even stands up well against other Zoo decks after boarding. I especially like Zoo players that use Lightning Helix against me, making Kavu bigger if it can survive the blast.. This mirror match up is going to continue to be of increasing importance as my list evolves. Zoo is an entry level deck for Legacy, being fairly inexpensive option to assemble from scratch, and remarkable forgiving to budget card adjustments. Nobody knows this better then me, it's exactly why I chose this deck. Zoo will continue to be over represented in a developing Legacy community for the foreseeable future. I'd only expect Zoo to show up as 3-10% of the field in a larger, well developed event pool, but I easily see it representing 15-25% of our local developing meta. I've already started giving some thought to making my maindeck mirror match better, but I have yet to think of any sideboard tech that would improve this important increasingly relevant match up.


Lastly, and most importantly for today's discussion, I really hate Terramorphic Expanse in this deck. I just feel like I have to go up to 21 lands in the list when I go from Goyf to Thoctars, but having this in your opening hand is almost worse then not having the land. When I need this to make my strategic 2nd or 3rd land drop, the tempo loss is crushing. Granted, this doesn't happen all that much, but when it does it is almost a given that it will cost me the game. I couldn't sleep Friday night, so I ran the numbers (all of them), and found that running a fetch land in this slot, and fetching in an untapped shock land (net loss of 3 life, basicly the worse case scenario), is still better for me then the current tempo loss. Now the interesting problem, and the reason I hadn't pursued this option previously, is that I'm already running all the optimal fetch lands which I own. That means I'm going to have to run one of the enemy paired fetches, with the knowledge that it can only go after one relevant land type for this deck. After a great deal of consideration, I've decided that the BG fetch is the best "bad" option available to me. I'm going to have to put some real thought into picking up a second Wooded Foothills, or Windswept Heath. Ideally, I'd like to pick up one each of these, and drop down to 3 Arid Mesa's for the time being. This would lower my exposure to Pithing Needling my fetch lands a great deal.

I also had a productive week of trading when it comes to my Legacy project. I managed to pick up Grim Lavamancer number 3, and 4. I also picked up an unexpected FTV Kird Ape, replacing my less then stellar white boardered revised Kird Ape. The Lavamancers allow me to run my current list with out the hassle of trying to borrow them on the fly. The Kird Ape really doesn't functionally improve the list, since it's a card for card swap, but the Foil version is pretty pimp, and pimp'n ain't easy! So without further introduction, I ran the following maindeck on Sunday.

Creatures:
Kavu Predator x4
Kird Ape x4
Woolly Thoctar x3
Qasali Pridemage x4
Wild Nacatl x4
Grim Lavamancer x4

Spells:
Invigorate x3
Lightning Bolt x4
Sylvan Library x2
Swords to Plowshares x3
Punishing Fire x3
Umezawa's Jitte

Land:
Arid Mesa x4
Grove of the Burnwillows x4
Plateau
Sacred Foundry x2
Savannah
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Tiaga
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Forest, Mountain, Plains 1 each.

Now on to the issue of sideboard options. I know for a fact that our resident Elf player is expected to be out of the country, and Eddie is not making the trip. In addition, I expect to see the following decks in the field (I'm really interested to see how close I get this).

Ant
Belcher ?
CounterTop
Dredge ?
Enchantress ?
Fish x2
Imperial Painter
Pox
SlighGoyf
Zoo x3

Based on this expected field, I've decided to go with the following board.

Pyroclasm x3 (Dredge)
Pithing Needle x4 (Wasteland, Top)
Gaea's Blessing
Red Elemental Blast x3 (Islands)
Relic of Progenitus x2 (Dredge)
Tormod's Crypt x2 (Dredge)

I feel like I pretty much nailed the meta. We had a few new people come out, and a couple of people I thought would be there, that stayed home for rain, but the mix was more or less what I expected.

With a last minute entry, we had 13 players, and were set for a four round stand off. Turns out I was more right then I expected when it came to Zoo. There were four Zoo builds in the field, making to just over 30% of the day's field, and it was going to be a big part of my day.

Round one I was paired against Mike, and his Dark Zoo build. Game was an absolute beating of back and forth removal. I was finally able to stich enough threats to make a stand, and Mike ended up scooping, hoping to have enough time for him to win 2 more games. Game 2 was over with the quickness, as the power of the Goyf beat my dome in so fast, I don't think we went 6 turns. Game 3 was another slug fest, with Mikes life total going into the thirties. I was able to stick a Kavu, and pump him into a threat just as the round ended and we went to turns. I was able to get there, but I was down to 2 life myself.

Round two, and whats this, another Zoo match up. Adam, jumped into Legacy with a Zoo list just this week, so he doesn't have much time in at all with the build. Game one, I was able to stick more threats. Game two, was all Adam, he was able to stick a couple of early threats, and was made of remocal, burning or pathing anything I dropped on the table. Game three I kept a Dual, a Fetch, Kitty, Kavu, and 3 Invigorates, and that was pretty much game.

Round three was a break, only in the sense that I wasn't facing another Zoo match up. I was paired against Crispy, who runs a very effective Fish build. Fish is supposed to be an easy match up for a Zoo deck, but I swear there is no such thing as an easy game with Crispy. He is such a solid player, and very difficult to read. Game one, I did what I do, and pushed some threats past the counterspells, and beat face to the end. We both boarded heavy, as this match up is prone to do. I brought in a full set of Needles, and 3 REBs. I pulled a hand of Needle, Grove, Kitty, Kavu, Fetch, something, something. (I really need to start writing these down). I dropped a turn one Needle of the Grove, nameing wasteland. I wasn't even sure Crispy was running them, but I figured it was a good bet. Turns out he does run them, because on turn 3 he bounced my Needle, and wasted my Grove. I have to admit, I really enjoy when players show a little respect to my goofy deck synergy. I was able to stick a Pridemage, and the Needle, and started swinging for the win. Crispy never saw any of his board tech, until it was nearly over.

Round four, I was paired against, you guess it, the other undefeated Zoo player. That's right, four matches, 3 opponents playing Zoo. As thrilled as I was with the prospect of another Zoo on Zoo slug fest, we opted to ID. My tie breakers improved based on the other results of round 4, and I slid into first.

I'm really please with the list I've developed, and found that the off color fetch did it's job well. My wish list is really down to Jitte, Goyfs, and Revised Duals, so I'll be on this list for a month or two at the least. Jitte has to be my next priority, since it is just so good in the mirror match. I intend to wait until I can pick up this years new Promo Jitte. It will just make such a cool addition to my collection.

My sanctioned game record now turns the corner to 25-21-1, and I've had 2 undefeated events. If Zoo gets any stronger in the local meta, I may have to consider getting some Forces, and building CounterTop!?!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Life in the Zoo: Legacy Pt.7 Road to Richmond

With the Starcity Games Legacy 5K coming up in Richmond on February 28, 2010, I am nearly certain I will be able to attend. It's really a question of how many Worldwake launch related events I will attend. Honestly, I'm more then happy to sacrifice launch events for the wealth of experience I expect to gain from a Legacy 5K. The really good news is I've been able to make significant strides in my build through trade efforts, and have not needed to invest any new cash. I was able to trade in to 2 Grim Lavamancers, and a second Sacred Foundry (not foil, but what are you going to do?). I've also been able to borrow to additional Grim Lavamancers for the moment, but I am uncertain how long I'll be able to hold on to them. It would be nice if I could retain use of them through the 5K, but we will just have to see. Lastly, and most importantly, I've been able to tentatively borrow a set of Goyfs  from a team  mate who will not be attending the event. With this in mind, I expect to go in running the following main list. I've also noted the plan B if I am unable to secure a set of Goyfs.

Creatures:
Kavu Predator x4
Kird Ape x4
Tarmogoyf x4 (Woolly Thoctar x3, Terramorphic Expanse)
Qasali Pridemage x4
Wild Nacatl x4
Grim Lavamancer x4

Spells:
Invigorate x3
Lightning Bolt x4
Sylvan Library x2
Swords to Plowshares x3
Punishing Fire x3
Umezawa's Jitte

Land:
Arid Mesa x4
Grove of the Burnwillows x4
Plateau
Sacred Foundry x2
Savannah
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Tiaga
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Forest, Mountain, Plains 1 each.

I really think this list is pretty viable. This build pushes the domain factor of my mana base to the long awaited 80% (81% on the plan B). I'd really like to run the Revised style dual lands over the Ravnica block shock lands, but I think my testing has proven that this list can run the shock lands with minimal negative impact. Switching two Arid Mesa's for one each Wooded Foothills, and Windswept Heath, would certainly make the mana base less susceptible to Pithing Needle, but I figure any needle coming down would be more likely to name Pridemage, Punishing Fire, or Lavamancer.

It's also important to note that Worldwake will drop between now and this event. That many new cards could bring about changes, so we will just have to see. I have not seen anything yet that screams Zoo to me, but we have a long way to go in exploring cards, as 90% of the new set is still unknown. I may have to make some lateral plays on new cards, and will hold off on significant sideboard decisions, until we know what the new set holds, and how it may effect the field.

I have to admit, I really don't expect to win, or even finish in the money on the event, but I have surprised myself before. Regardless of how I do, I really think experience at this level is the next step for the list, and in the development of my play ability. Even if I find that I'm not ready, and have to drag my butt back to the kiddy pool, I think I will learn a lot that will help me in my local Legacy events. In any case, I'm never going to know if I can hang at this level, unless I give it a try.

My Life in the Zoo: Pauper

Pauper is a format which has gained a lot of popularity in recent years due to MTGO, and the costs associated with playing in the online community. The concept of Pauper is pretty simple in that you don't need expensive chase cards to make a good deck. Rather then depending on some arbitrary monetary value, which would be subject to shifts over time, the format simplifies the issue. The more rare a card is, the more expensive it is expected to be, so this format is restricted to commons only.

This format restriction can be applied to any of the main-stream formats; Standard, Extended, Legacy, or Vintage. Standard and Extended  are very well represented online, since the digital and paper card pools are identical, but the eternal formats tend to differ. Online the Legacy, and Vitage formats are combined in Classic, while in Paper it is simply called Pauper: Eternal. The key difference in Classic and P:E is that not all cards have been printed into the digital card pool, so the paper options remain much deeper, and in my mind the most interesting of the Pauper formats.


Despite being an eternal format, the barriers to entry are extremely low. Of the roughly 4,000 cards printed at common, less then fifty cost a dollar or more. Many of those are due to collectible issues, and not their play value in the format. It's very easy to build a deck for under $5, and you have to work at it to go over $20.

Zoo is a remarkably easy deck to build, but notoriously difficult to perfect, and I think this Pauper version will be no exception. I'm able to simply port over a great deal of my current Legacy list, since it his common heavy to begin with. The land base has been updated to 6 each Forest, Mountain, and Plains with 4 Terramorphic Expanses, to round it out.

Creatures:
Kird Ape x4
Qasali Pridemage x4
Wild Nacatl x4

Spells:
Invigorate x3
Lightning Bolt x4

Land:
Terramorphic Expanse x4
Forest, Mountain, Plains 6 each.

This leaves a lot of open slots to fill, and Invigorate really looks like it doesn't belong any more. By my count, there will be 22 cards to be addressed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Repack Walk Through- Week 2

Welcome to Week Two of my Repack Walk Through Project. Each week I'm going to crack a repack, and do a walk through of the contents. I've seen these sort of draft walk through done a lot of different ways, but in my mind, there is one critical question to ask about every card. Should this wheel and why? I use a three point system to analyze a pack In a "normal" pack, there should be 5 cards of each grade in them.

1) Shouldn't Wheel- these are the best cards in the pack, and should be scooped up before the pack comes back around. Your first pick should almost always come from this group, since odds are you shouldn't see any of them again. If one of these does come back around, and it still fits your developing plan, it's almost a sure thing to pick up on the wheel. One of these coming around may also indicate an open color, or deck strategy, and always worth giving a little thought to.

2) May Wheel-I put these at a 50/50 to wheel. your second pick in the pack will usually come from this group, since the #1 in the pack should already be gone. This group will tell you more about the other decks forming at the table then any other source of information. When the pack wheels around to you in pick nine, there should only be two cards from his group left, picks 9 and 10. The three that are already gone tell you a lot about the "best decks" being built by players 6, 7, and 8. Like wise the card you don't pick, will give you a clue to the "best deck" to be built by the player in position 2. This for all intensive purposes gives you a peek at 4 other decks being constructed. Counting your own deck, this gives you some degree of contrived knowledge about 5 out of 8 decks. If you do this type of thinking for all three packs int he draft, in addition to having perfect knowledge of your deck, you have had 3 peeks at 2 decks (positions 2, and 8), 2 peeks at 2 decks (positions 6, and 7), and one peek at 2 additional decks (positions 3, and 4). It's not a perfect world, and certainly as much art as science, but that is a lot of potential information. Since Repack is main deck mod, you should have a good idea of what you may face against nearly any other player at the table.

3) Should Wheel- This is the crap of the crap. If it wheels, it's exactly what I expected, and increases the likeliness of the predictions made from group 2. If it doesn't it makes things a bit more interesting. In essence it tells me that one or more persons isn't building their "best deck" instead making sub-optimal picks. In this case you are much more likely to have four "bester" decks, those that benefited from better then expected late picks, and then four "worster" decks, those making bad picks, or getting the shaft as others jump on cards expected for their "best" deck.

Kei Takahashi- 2
Blaze- 1
Ragamuffin- 2
Whispersilk Cloa-1
Wild Growth- 3
Pearled Unicorn- 2
Mons's Goblin Raiders- 3
Moor Fiend- 1
Fire Juggler- 1
Detainment Spell- 2
Luminescent Rain- 3
Stream of Unconsciousness- 3
Elvish Visionary- 2
Soul Bleed- 3
Snapping Drake-1


Wow, now this is exactly the kind of pack a Repack organizer likes to see. Temporal, Prismatic, and Power distribution is nearly perfect. There are three solid first pick cards here; Blaze, Snapping Drake, and Whispersilk Cloak.. Each of these is a bomb in their own right, and you really could make an argument for any pick order here, but I would choose them in the order given. blaze is removal, splash, and a potential win condition through a clogged board. Snapping Drake is a splash, has a relevant power, and evasive. Some one should be playing blue in the either position 2 or 3. Whispersilk cloak can literally go in any deck that uses creatures and make it better, breaking through any board position. If you aren't using creatures in repack, you are simply doing it wrong. Moor fiend is also really a story waiting to happen. His size combined with Swampwalk, creates a real incentive not to play black in this event. It should go to the player in seat 4, and only you 2, and 3 got the message that swamps may be a hazard to your health. Fire Juggler is really what pushes Blaze to first pick in my mind. The fact that it has legs, and potential on board removal, makes it worthy of note. Sending it and Blaze, would simply send a stronger signal then I'd be comfortable with. it's also a margianl card, which could be viewed as a 2 by many players, so it could come back to you shoring up your red first pick.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Magic Planeswalkers: American Idol Style

Submitted by special guest consultant, Paul Abdula.

Every January for roughly a decade, the counrty get hooked on the phenomena of American Idol, and while I'm no Ryan Seacrest, I think it's about time the superstars of Magic get in on the act. Our judges scoured the multiverse for the brightest Planeswalker talent to be found in 2009. In order to qualify for the Hollywood portion of the contest, these planeswalkers had to make it through rigorous rounds with the R&D judges, and get selected for the 2009 year.

Now it's your turn America, to see what these Planeswalkers bring to the big stage, and decide for whom the spotlight shines. Lets meet our Contestants, and their round one results;

Ajani Goldmane [ 13 ]  [18.06%]
Chandra Ablaze [ 5 ]  [6.94%]
Chandra Nalaar [ 6 ]  [8.33%]
Garruk Wildspeaker [ 12 ]  [16.67%]
Jace Beleren [ 13 ]  [18.06%]
Liliana Vess [ 5 ]  [6.94%]
Nicol Bolas [ 7 ]  [9.72%]
Nissa Revane [ 4 ]  [5.56%]
Sorin Markov [ 7 ]  [9.72%] 
 It looks like what America's Magic players really want in a planes walker is a Y chromisone nestled in next to their spark. Round one said good bye to all the ladies. Round one was alos not kind to our oldest contestants.


Planeswalker, Elder Dragon, Tyrant of Worlds! Nicol Bolas is one of the oldest known beings in the Multiverse—he has lived for at least ten millennia. Nicol Bolas has survived multiple wars, cataclysms, and rivalries: the dragon war that left only five of the elders alive, the destruction of his Madaran Empire on Dominaria at the hands of Tetsuo Umezawa, and epic duels with the planeswalkers Leshrac and Teferi. He also survived The Mending, the healing of the Multiverse that changed the very nature of the spark and cost several planeswalkers their lives. Before The Mending, planeswalkers were ageless shapeshifters whose power was limited only by their experience and knowledge. Bolas had that godlike power torn away from him, and he will go to any lengths to get it back.
He has watched the five shards of Alara for decades,but it will take countless machinations and maneuverings, even for the oldest and most powerful planeswalker of all. For Nicol Bolas, all the power in the Multiverse is not enough. Perhaps his apparent defeat at the hands of Ajani Goldmane is simply too fresh in our minds to allow him to fair well in this contest, despite his raw power and experience.


Our other old timer for the event is Sorin, who as a undead vampire, is hard to put an age on. It is widely wispered though that he assisted in the capture of the Eldrazi, which makes him older then Taylor Hicks! With the exception of the elder dragon Nicol Bolas, the vampire Sorin Markov is older than all other planeswalkers described here—older than all of them combined. His multiple millennia have brought him detachment and easy confidence. Unlike Bolas, Sorin doesn't concern himself with gathering power or control. He is content to follow his whims, even when those whims are cruel or deadly. Sorin Markov is a vampire and a master of sangromancy, a dark corner of black mana specialization. With this blood magic he can drain the lifeforce of other beings, place curses on enemies, and even possess the minds of others. Sorin is well traveled and well heeled. Having seen hundreds of planes over thousands of years, he has become a sort of bon vivant, seeking novelty and new diversions. But despite his fundamentally hedonistic nature, Sorin does feel the pull of more lasting concerns, and over his long life this tendency has resulted in an arcane schedule of engagements and forays to far-flung planes. As a result Sorin is a busy man, planeswalking frequently to pursue concerns known only to him. Sorin always seems to have business elsewhere.

Will either of these old times survive to move on two round three, or will the prize be left for one of those young wiper-snappers? It's up to you America. Voting can be done here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Budget Building: Saving Intro Packs

Ever since the switch from Theme decks to intro packs, I've rattled on about how inferior of a product this really is. This week Aaron Forsythe gave us a peek at what is to come in 2010. One of these changes is pushing the Intro pack contents from a 41 card preconstructed deck to 60 cards, will still include the booster pack, and will only rise $1 on MSRP. This certainly increases the value of the intro packs, since the deck is playable and potentially customizable with no further investment. This assumes though that the base deck inside is reasonably playable out of the box, and a lot of what we have seen in Intro packs so far has been real crap. Certainly not all, but a lot.

Wizards always wants to have an intro pack to highlight every theme and interaction in the set. This often means 4-5 individual products 4 times a year. That's 16-20 mediocre decks every year. Folks that's a lot of mediocre! I think the best thing Wizards could do for Intro packs is to simply make 3 good intro packs for each set. This would have to cut the development costs for this product line significantly. Maybe it woulldn't be the implied 25-40% cut, but it would have to be some sort cost reduction for Wizards.

I can hear you all out there "Why three decks?", and the answer is it fits the current state of the game. It has long been established that Wizards R&D uses three base line player profiles: Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. With three decks you could easily build a deck that would appeal to each one, or better yet design 3 decks that each appeal 2 two of the groups, since most players tend to have all three aspects in them at some level. Similarly there are three core deck design types; Agro, Control, and Combo. You could easily build one deck to address each of these types, and still better would be 3 decks touching on 2 types each.

The last reason to make this product adjustment is the wholesale case distribution. Currently wholesale cases have one each of the 4-5 decks in the release. Under my proposal you could change the case set up to be two of each deck, making the decks easier to find for players, and eliminating out of stock, and slow replacement issues that are often found in both the big box retailers and the mom-and-pop shops. This may result in a short term lower sales of wholesale cases for Wizards, but will result in more new players. Players buy packs, either directly or through retail pack-openers. More players means more packs sold by Wizards in the long run.

Now that we have talked about how many products to make, lets talk about what to put in them. Adding the Booster pack last year was a great move, and moving back to a 60 cards deck out of the box is a step in the right direction. First off, since you are bumping back up to 60 cards, now is the perfect time to include a 3rd rare. I'd suggest since most of the decks will be a main color, with a second color splashed in, make the 3rd rare in the off color. Secondly put more uncommons in the deck. Players who build their collections by openeing packs end up with nearly 2 sets of commons by the time they complete their uncommons playset. Help them out here, and push the number of uncommons and cutting some commons in these decks. While we are talking about commons, lets cut back on the one-of's in these decks. If a common is flavorful, and demonstrative of the color's pie functions, why only put one copy in? I know it creates demand, but how much demand for packs would you be cutting by putting a second copy of a good common into the deck? Fact is not much, but you are creating a lot of play value for the deck. Lastly, use the Intro Pack as an opportunity to create some buzz about the next set. Include a single uncommon of the primary color, something that provides casual utility, and hints at flavor, but doesn't give away to much about the new set. You would only need to add a paragraph explaining that this preview card can't be played at their Standard FNM, and would create an opportunity to transition into the included Booster Pack, and making adjustments to the deck.

So what happens when you apply these concepts to one of the most successful Intro Packs released in 2009? Lets see, M10's We are Legion was by far the best selling and most popular Intro Packs of the year, but I have news for Wizards, it had very little to do with the deck they designed. It's simple Honor of the Pure, one of the included rares was selling for more then the MSRP of the entire intro pack. I was like buying the rare, getting a free booster pack, and a bunch of junk cards for free, and that is exactly how people treated it. I remember playing in my local store one day, when a player came in bought this intro pack, went over to a table (didn't bother to sit down), cracked open the deck and pack, stripped out 4-5 cards and left the rest there for a noobie kid sitting near by. The best selling Intro Pack of the year, and players only gave a damn about 4-5 crads out of it, and treated the rest like trash. The other 4 Intro Pack decks from that release hardly sold at all.

Wizards, you are failing your players on this front. Take the We are Legion deck your team designed, and play it a few times. Then add the following cards, try it again, and tell me it doesn't do a better job of introducing concepts, provide more combo interactions, and provide more avenues to refine the deck, then the original. I don't know how much more this deck would have cost to produce, but I'd guess these kind of additions for 3 decks, would cost less then the full development of 2 full dropped decks. Would this make a difference in the player above trashing the deck? Maybe not, but I bet it would make the other decks in the release sell much better, and the kid that inherited the trash pile, would have a better deck.

3 Plains
2 Mountains
Terramorphic Expanse
Lightning Bolt
Manabarbs
Act of Treason
Life Link
2 Safe Passage
Soul Warden
Veteran Armoursmith
Veteran Swordsmith
Rhox Pikemaster
White Knight
Gorgon Flail
Brave the Elements

Now that we have set some ground rules for a better product, and give an example of it, lets talk about how to make the deck more relevant to more players. You have already created a buzz with players by including a preview card, now we just need to create some urgency to buy the product, beyond the rares in the box. The Open Dueling events at Pre/release events is a great pace to start. This is a good program, and if Wizards isn't already doing it, they should push this out to all those hosting these events. I'm still amazed to attend a Pre/release event and find that this option either isn't offered, or only available if you ask about it. To add fuel to the fire, you need to make Open Dueling participation count as an event for DCI player rewards. This would create an incentive for the more mainstream players to enter these events. The average player would probably do this once for each new set, so we are only talking about four additional events per year. That's not even one additional textless card being mailed out each year. That can't be much of a cost, when compared to 4 additional unit sales.

Secondly, instead of giving the regular event promo card for this event, bring out a new one, maybe an uncommon, something with "universal casual appeal". Gorgan Flai comes to mind for the M10 set. Instead of getting another copy of the event promo, players could get this different promo, only available through Open Dueling. How many people would do this event, just to get the otherwise exclusive promo card. Since the Intro Packs would be handed out randomly, it would put a roughly even number of each deck into circulation, and players couldn't single out one chase deck. Promo cards that were not used at the main event, could be used to create store level incentives to buy the Into Packs. Something along the lines of getting a copy of the promo, with the purchase of all three decks at once, would sell a lot of product at the retail level.

Like Mr. Forsythe points out, Wizards and Magic had a great year in 2009, and 2010 looks like it's going to be an even better year. Several fronts, like the Intro Packs, still leave a lot to be desired. While I look forward to what ever changes are already in place beginning with the M11 release, I am a little frustrated knowing that there is still (probably) crappy Intro Packs to be had for the next two releases. While I'm sure that ship has already sailed, maybe these thoughts will help in the development of Intro Packs in the future.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Weregoyfs of London, an Evolution

So after playing Jeff Red Legacy Ed for a month at the Sci-Fi Genre Legacy Sunday Series, I decided I wanted to spice it up a bit. I knew one of my weaknesses was against Zoo, as it’s really hard to deal with my opponents Tarmogoyf. The best way I have to beat a Tarmogoyf is to set it on fire. Except that rarely works. By the time the fire starts, the silly thing is bigger and the fire doesn’t kill it, and while two for ones are occasionally acceptable, you don’t want to have to rely on that to kill a silly little (or big) goyf. So, the next best way to kill a goyf is to not kill it, but put something in front of it that doesn’t die either. Like another goyf. So Jeff Red is no more, it is now “Weregoyfs of London.”


Jeff Abbott said to me the other day, “you're doing something different, which is always good (so long as it works, of course).” I realized he’s right. There isn’t a forum or a discussion anywhere about an essentially aggro red splashing goyf. I’m carving new ground. While I’m only 6-5 with the deck, I’m still batting above .500, which from my standpoint is good. Sometimes there are matches you can’t win. Sometimes Legacy decks go off on turn 2. Sometimes Legacy decks aren’t interactive. I can pretty safely say mine is. Don’t get me wrong, I can land a turn 2 Moon effect fairly reliably, and take away your pile of lands or its functionality, but there is still some level of interaction there.


The evolution of this deck from last week to this week was a difficult road with lots of testing. The starting list can be found here (where I finished third). This list then had Wastelands added, and then Rift Bolts taken out, then Shrapnel Blast came out, which meant the Great Furnaces could come out. Eventually the Wastelands came back out again, as I finally decided that the combo of taking away your nonbasic lands by making them mountains, and then hurting you for having nonbasic lands would be the way to go, so in came Price of Progress. Its evolution for this week finished at this list (organized by casting cost, I don’t know why I did it like that)

Stuff:

4x Chrome Mox
2x Fireblast
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Chain Lightning
3x Sensei’s Divining Top
3x Grim Lavamancer
4x Hellspark Elemental
4x Tarmogoyf
3x Price of Progress
4x Magus of the Moon
3x Blood Moon
4x Boggart Ram Gang

Land:
1x Forest
3x Taiga (or Stomping Ground, until I own Taiga)
1x Bloodstained Mire
4x Wooded Foothills
9x Snow Covered Mountain


While in theory I did worse this week with this deck finishing 2-2 in 6th place, versus 2-1 and 3rd place last week, I think the deck itself moved in a positive direction. I like what I have here, now I’ll work on making it better. Your comments and suggestions are appreciated! Thanks!

Repack Walk Through- Week 1

I'm attempting to put a new spin on Repack this year, so each week I'm going to crack a repack, and do a walk through of the contents. I've seen these sort of draft walk through done a lot of different ways, but in my mind, there is one critical question to ask about every card. Should this wheel and why? I use a three point system to analyze a pack In a "normal" pack, there should be 5 cards of each grade in them.

1) Shouldn't Wheel- these are the best cards in the pack, and should be scooped up before the pack comes back around. Your first pick should almost always come from this group, since odds are you shouldn't see any of them again. If one of these does come back around, and it still fits your developing plan, it's almost a sure thing to pick up on the wheel. One of these coming around may also indicate an open color, or deck strategy, and always worth giving a little thought to.

2) May Wheel-I put these at a 50/50 to wheel. your second pick in the pack will usually come from this group, since the #1 in the pack should already be gone. This group will tell you more about the other decks forming at the table then any other source of information. When the pack wheels around to you in pick nine, there should only be two cards from his group left, picks 9 and 10. The three that are already gone tell you a lot about the "best decks" being built by players 6, 7, and 8. Like wise the card you don't pick, will give you a clue to the "best deck" to be built by the player in position 2. This for all intensive purposes gives you a peek at 4 other decks being constructed. Counting your own deck, this gives you some degree of contrived knowledge about 5 out of 8 decks. If you do this type of thinking for all three packs int he draft, in addition to having perfect knowledge of your deck, you have had 3 peeks at 2 decks (positions 2, and 8), 2 peeks at 2 decks (positions 6, and 7), and one peek at 2 additional decks (positions 3, and 4). It's not a perfect world, and certainly as much art as science, but that is a lot of potential information. Since Repack is main deck mod, you should have a good idea of what you may face against nearly any other player at the table.

3) Should Wheel- This is the crap of the crap. If it wheels, it's exactly what I expected, and increases the likeliness of the predictions made from group 2. If it doesn't it makes things a bit more interesting. In essence it tells me that one or more persons isn't building their "best deck" instead making sub-optimal picks. In this case you are much more likely to have four "bester" decks, those that benefited from better then expected late picks, and then four "worster" decks, those making bad picks, or getting the shaft as others jump on cards expected for their "best" deck.

Thelonite Monk- 2.5
Seasinger-1.5
Rise from the Grave- 3
Ivory Guardian- 1
Battering Ram- 2.5
Phantasmal Terrain- 3
Scavenger Folk-2.5
Twisted Experiment-1.5
Wojek Siren-1.5
Afflict- 1
Spring Cleaning- 3
Silvergill Douser-2
Bountiful Harvest- 3
Solemn Offering- 3
Tome Scour-2


From the start we see a couple of clear facts. This pack is a bit weaker then the norm, having only two solid #1 in the pack. It's also important to notice that Red is absent from the pack. Making Ivory Guardian potentially less important. This combined with it's high casting cost, and hard to splash casting cost, puts the spot light on Afflict. Removal is important, and harder to come by in Repack, and the weak Red in this pack lets you know people may over value removal (if that's possible) in later picks. Fluctuations in the blue and green of the 2/2.5 group may indicate someone trying to force a color in position 6, 7, and/or 8.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cliff Notes Magic the Gathering History by Patrick Chapin


This was a series of facebook posts made by the one the only Patrick Chapin. I'm pretty sure a few things are a bit out of order, and some of the facts have been simplified a bit, but it's mostly dead on! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and I really felt like it deserved to be saved.

Did you know that Urza lost to Yawgmoth? Yawgmoth, who had fully corrupted Mishra in the first place presented Urza with the clockwork hell that had been torturing Mishra for thousands of years after his death and Urza bowed to Yawgmoth who then had Gerrard and Urza fight, Gerrard cut off Urza's head. Urza also had 9 Giant titan robots similar to battle tech that were driven by 9 planeswalkers, Commodore Guff, Tevesh Szat, Bo Levar, Daria, Taysir, Freyalise, Kristina, Lord Windgrace, and of course Urza himself.
Like with Jesus and Judas, Urza knew Tevesh Szat would betray him and did not stop him. Unlike Jesus and Judas, Urza responded being putting Tevesh Szat inside a Nuclear Soul Bomb and blew up a continent.

Multani started out as a bad dream that Urza had, but accidentally turned it real after he accidentally slept for years because the dream he was having took on a life of its own. No two see the same Maro, and Urza's was a real jerk (though when he magically sprang into existence, he began looking after yavimaya).


Ever wonder where the gate to phyrexia was?
It was in the Caves of Koilos the whole time!


Urza had a serious psychological disorder from the guilt of kolding his brother and half of tolaria, but eventually Ratepe shocked Urza out of his guilt by pretending to be Mishra after being hired by Xantcha (a Phyrexian "newt" that Urza hired to be his personal assistant). Xantcha and Ratepe end up hooking up before being killed by the Phyrexian Demon, Gix.


Urza happened to be born on day 1 year 0 of Magic (AR). Mishra was born on the last day of that year. They hated their step mom.


Urza was an apprentice once...
...he studied under Rusko, the Clockmaker. (Seriously)



Urza "won" his wife Kayla by winning a contest where the goal was to move a gigantic jade statue across a court yard. Urza wasn't really into girls, but wanted a tome that was a part of her dowry.


Kayla's dad, the Warlord Kroog wasn't going for it, until he realized that Urza invented Ornithopters which really impressed Kroog.

Urza married the chick, took her up to a bedroom, "consummated the marriage," then rolled out, went to the treasure room where the book was kept and spent the night reading it. In the years that followed, he was chief artificer (which he was in to), but he never really got into his wife.


part of Urza's beef with Mishra was that their mom died giving birth to Mishra (and they REALLY did not get along with step mom)


Urza wasn't always a Planeswalker. In fact his "spark" wasn't ignited until he poured all of his emotions into an artifact called the golgothian sylex, which blew up, killing Mishra (who had already been corrupted at this point). As an accidental side effect, the "Might Stone" and the "Weakstone" got blown into Urza's Face, one into each eye. This was traumatic and ignited his spark (plus guilt over killing bro).


After Urza became a Planeswalker, he had his apprentice Tawnos go and tell Kayla bin-Kroog that Urza had died and with her name on his lips. She said "Call, if he had died, it would have been with Mishra's name on his lips." As a result, she wrote a book about the subject called "The Brother's War" and it is one of the most important books in the universe.


You probably realize that Urza made Karn and Karn made Argentum (which Memnarch renamed Mirrodin after he took over and invented Ravagers). What you might not realize is that Karn became a planeswalker when gerrard stuck urza's head inside him complete with the stones that were getting urza busy.


Karn touched the Mirari and Memnarch was born. This was generally regarded as a bad thing by those of us in the know.


At one point, Chainer (yeah that Chainer) got his hands on the Mirari and gave it to his boss the Cabal Patriarch.


A whole bunch of randos get control of it for a bit, like Lietanent Kirtar and Laquatus, but eventually Khamal gets his hands on it and turns it into a sword.


He doesn't know how to contain its power, though, so Balthor the Dwarf is going to teach him.

See the weird thing is that Balthor was just this short guy that kicked it with Khamal some times. Lacquatus got his hands on the Mirari for a second and forced Khamal to kold his buddy. Then, Balthor came back to life, this time defiled as a zombie.


Khamal and the Zombie Dwarf started hanging out again and things seemed ok, but then all of the sudden Khamal was possessed by his sword and killed Zombie Balthor (again).

It wasn't until all the lames in Odyssey block each got a turn not being worthy until Karn finally got the mirari and turned it into memnarch (as I mentioned). He did this by combining it with the body of Karona the False God and doing some Magic stuff.


Memnarch kind of ran stuff on Mirrodin (Argentum) for a while since Karn was off seing the multiverse. Memnarch had quite an afffinity for artifacts, if you know what I mean.


See Memnarch wasn't that bad a dude at first, but became corrupted by some unknown black slime. Word on the street was that that was Yawgmoth's Essence in slime form, but it is all hush hush until New Phyrexia this fall.


Memnarch's main issue was that he had Planeswalker Spark Envy. He was really smart and powerful (considering he was a robot made out of a magic sword/orb and the body of a fake god chick.


He was really jealous that Karn was a planeswalker and he wasn't, so he built stuff like Levelers, Eaters of Days, and Arcbound Ravagers.


Some of his inventions were better than others.


Part of Urza's deal when he was alive was that the Perfect and Pure Plane that Serra had made was becoming corrupted as a result of the dark influences of the growing Phyrexian Hordes nearby.


See, when Urza blew stuff up, he trapped Phyrexia in a "fast time bubble" making them evolve really fast and grow beyond control.


Serra's plane is starting to get kolded and Urza is gonna help the broad. She is really into angels.


Most of the stuff serra is into is kind of wack, like one time she teamed up with this guy Feroz.


They were really into some protectionist type policies regarding the Plane of Ulgrotha.


See Serra and Feroz had beef with Tolgath. Eventually Tolgath gets pissed and uses the Apocalypse Chime to kold all life on the entire Plane.


After this, the Plane was sort of a battleground where Planeswalker would go to fight, since there was nothing alive there.


Actually, let me clarify, Tolgath was the bad guys people, it was Ravi that actually rang the chime.


So Serra and Feroz decide to "Ban" all other Planeswalkers so as to give life a chance to develop on the plane.


This ends up killing them, but at least the Plane got to live on and decide to rename Ulgrotha "The Homelands." Eventually some of them turn into Vampires.


You might be asking about Fallen Empires? When did that happen?


That is the stuff happening on Sarpadia right after Urza killed Mishra. It mostly involves watching Fungus grow and climate change.


On the upside, it was this climate change that lead to the Ice Age, which is generally regarded as when Magic sets stopped being stone cold terrible.


Dark was kind of interesting in that it was when Mortals first discovered the five color nature of mana. It is more of the aftermath of Urza's War with Mishra, just somewhere else and dealing with nuclear winter.


Prophecy details the riveting tail of some wizards fighting some warriors in some random place at the same time that Urza is doing stuff relevant somewhere totally different.


Odyssey is 100 years after Invasion and is mostly about this guy Khamal that kills his buddy the dwarf a lot, gets mad at a squid, and eventually comes to give up "barbary" in favor of tree-hugging.


The best part of Khamal is that his sister, Phage, was a real freakshow. She and Akroma caused a lot of havoc and Khamal wanted it to end which is why he ended up giving the mirari to Karn.


A long, long time ago there were these guys, these heros, these villians. That is legends. The set itself doesn't really have a set story line, but rather has like 100 story lines, it was sort of like Future Sight, where we get glimpses of 100 pasts that will be talked about in the future, like Korlash, a zombie that uses Dakkon's sword.


We have of course heard all about Nicol Bolas at this point, but what many don't realize is that Tetsuo Umezawa is actually the only link between Kamigawa and the rest of Dominaria.


See there is this plane where everyone is japanese and Toshiro Umezawa is a samurai that is descended of Tetsuo Umezawa, a legendary Samurai from the old school that someone a long time ago ran into when they were hoping around Planes.


Most of the story revolves around Toshiro and this princess Michiko trying to bring peace, since the living people are fighting with the Kami (a bunch of spirits that seem like bastardized versions of ancient Japanese religious ideas).


Eventually, there is some peace and everyone tries to forget that we ever spent a year on the topic.


Ravnica is this place that doesn't get messed with that much and is covered with a big freaking city.


There are 10 "Guilds" that are representative of each two color pairing of mana. They sign a treaty and for 9,999 years everything is cool.


It turns out the Dimir guild (go figure) want to mess stuff up for everyone. Agrus Kos and Teysa Karlov get to the bottom of it. Not a lot happens, but on the upside the block is generally regarded as the best of the decade and shocklands are printed.


During Urza's situation, he accidentally blows up Tolaria at one point. Stuff is kind of crazy at the time and various people respond different ways. Teferi's response is to leave reality and take his continent with him.


Actually, these two continents, Shiv and Zhalfir end up "phased out" and Teferi wants to fix stuff so he does some experiements. This is the time travel season of Magic and all sorts of stuff from all sorts of times ends up in the story.


In the end, Teferi brings about "The Mending" which makes all the planeswalkers in the universe (except you and me, and other Uber-Planeswalkers from the FAR FUTURE) much weaker, so weak in fact that they are printable for less than 12 mana.


They are still pretty good though.


Lorwyn is just this place where everyone is asleep but doesn't realize it or ever suspect how weird it is that it is always sunny and happy. The Faeries, led by Oona, are running a Matrix style situation. Figures.


Rhys is the protagonist (of sorts) and works for Colfenor. Ashling, the Pilgram thinks he is the good guy.


Shadowmoor happens because of the aurora and now everything is dark and sad. no one remembers the way things were. was the other a dream and this real or vice versa?


Rhys and Maralan are the only two who remember the other world.


Trees turn out to be very important.


A little while later, Ajani's brother is killed and he decides to avenge that death.


This brings him to hunt Nicol Bolas, who happened to be busy merging the five shattered planes of Alara. See on Alara, they think progenitus is God, but he is really just this five headed hydra with protection from "The Everything."


Nicol Bolas merges the planes in a bid to regain his lost power. He kills Sarkan Vol and Ajani Vegeant, Elspeth, and Tezz manage to take him down.


While all this is going on, Garruk and Jace and Liliana are busy with some Zendikar related stuff that will eventually lead to the Rise of the Eldraza.


The Eldrazi are really big demi-gods that are presumably more than just fatties.


They like to eat people for food and they have been extinct for thousands of years though people, especially Mono-G players still worship them.


In a mostly unrelated matter, Princess Shaharazad tells a lot of stories so that she won't be killed.


The End.