Monday, September 29, 2014

Knight of Meadowgrain

Ondra Straka wanted to try altering a card so I let him try it. I let him prime the card and tried to explain that more thin layers is way better than one thicker coat. He tried and actually did quite well for first attempt. He tried some color matching and painting those trees in the background but couldn't really come up with how to do it. He gave up later on, wishing to try somewhen later. I picked this poor card from the ground some time ago, it did not deserve being there and decided to alter it myself. I scraped some parts but kept those that were not that thick and painted over. This probably is not the way how I would alter the card, but well here it is. I'll give him the card back next time I see him.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Khans of Tarkir - Sealed deck, Standard, Draft

When a new Magic set comes out I don't usually feel hyped about it or anything, on the contrary I don't usually like the idea of a new set. This time around though I participated in awesome prerelease tournaments and probably played in one of the best type two tournaments in the past few years. What was so special about it?

For the prerelease tournaments WotC came with seeded packs and promo cards. This time there was one of 8 different promo cards per clan in the seeded pack unlike before where each player of certain color had the very same promo card which was REALLY annoying. I was pretty angry even with this but later I realized that this actually helped quite a least I wouldn't face the very same card over and over again.


My pre-registered clan was Sultai but after seeing the spoiler during the night I asked if I can play something else and I was allowed that (Thanks!). So I picked Temur instead because red simply had awesome cards. Building deck seemed quite the puzzle...I was staring at my pool and couldn't really see what I should play. There was nothing that could be considered a curve. 2/2 creature producing a 4/4 bear seemed auto-include and 5/5 Trampler seemed fine as well. But what to do earlier in the game (with six drops I had NO problems^^)? I was looking at my morph creatures and wasn't really decided on what is the best creature to play. My pool had 0 creatures for three mana and about 4 that cost 2 (that had power at least 1). In the end I included another 5/5 (Pine Walker), three Sagu Archers, Ainok Tracker, Temur Charger and Abomination of Gudul. I had 8 morph creatures in total and I was wondering if playing Trail of Mystery will actually do something. I put it in the deck with the thought that this might actually find me some lands I would need but in the end it never fetched me a land but managed to kill few creatures and deal more damage. I added some burn spells 2x Bring Low and Arrow Storm (with Lava Axe in mind). I hoped to survive early game and then beat my opponent with 4/4s and 5/5s.

In round one my opponent played one single card - High Sentinels of Arashi Promo. I stared at it for a while and had in mind that I have two draws to deal with it. In those turns I did not draw anything relevant and horribly died. Game two started in similar fashion but I managed to Bring it Low. Something else totally killed me though. I did not feel that well after the first match and wasn't sure of what my deck can do. But in the end the deck showed me that it can do 4:1 pretty easily and if I would have a better draw I could deal with that goddamn white flyer as well^_~. I just wasn't ready for something like this just yet^_~. Thanks do the fact that I lost pretty quickly I had the chance to look around and see what others play. I saw few entire decks and realized that 'hey those decks actually look like a solid decks..'. This did not really cheer me up either. My deck seemed like a pile of crap without any good rare card or bomb (or removal).

During the tournament I changed my opinion though and I started calling my pile of crap 'a deck'. I realized that those 3 Sagu Archers that I put there primarily against UWR Tempo were actually a good choice. Without this card I can't imagine what I would be doing. Majority of the decks I played against were Mardu aggressive decks. I also started to like my morph creatures. They were the key for winning with my deck. Morph mechanic is really cool in KtK and the creatures are quite strong. The last time I played with it (morph) it did not really seem any good (actually the win con was usually morph but it felt completely different) or fun (Onslaught block).

After the first tournament in which I managed to get some prizes I decided to participate in the second prerelease as well. This time I could choose between Sultai or Jeskai. I went with my previously registered clan.

I opened some strong Temur cards so in the end I ended up splashing red (quite heavily *grin*). This time around I did not have many morph creatures but I had quite some flyers and I hoped that these would be enough to finish some people off. I knew that what I put together would be slow and was wondering if I should actually incorporate some delve cards in my deck. 4/4 Trampler and 3/3 Flyer with delve seemed auto-include but would I be able to play it for less than six when the count of my lower cmc cards was almost zero? In the end I decided to cut some 6 cmc cards and add random 2/2s and 2/1s to keep me alive till I get to those higher cmc cards. In the end though I realized that my deck is actually faster than the Temur one and is way more aggressive (I considered this pool worse than the first one). With this in mind I tweaked it a bit after terrible loss in round 1 and went 4:1 with it.

During the night I wanted to try something different so I played Mardu. I tried to build a Boros deck with black splash for Mardu Ascendancy, Murderous Cut and Mardu Charm. The deck did not really have many outlast ability creatures nor the token generating morph creature but it was capable of winning. But it felt like a deck from a completely different world and I wasn't really satisfied with it. But I learned the power of Goblins!

On Sunday thanks to Ondra Straka I participated in yet another two prerelease events. They were fun as well. I played Abzan in the first one and Sultai in the second one even though the deck that seemed better from the Sultai pool was Boros with blue splash.

All these tournaments were lots of fun, many things happened during the games and it was fun trying to figure out what to play and what not. I also learned the power of some rares and mythics and couldn't believe my eyes. Also when I played Sidisi in the last prerelease I wanted to build EDH around her. I usually played her on t4 or 5 but managed to mill 3 lands. With the first attack I usually milled another three^_^. This way I did not really get anywhere but at least I won few games (2:3). I realized that there are many cards in this set that I actually like and decided that I'd like to incorporate them in constructed somehow...but where? I decided to go for EDH but then another idea sparkled in my head. I'd love to build a Sultai control/midrange with Empty the Pits for example....but I don't have the cards for the deck I guess??

This weekend there are release events in local game stores. Usually it's draft, type2 and sealed deck. I decided to participate in at least the type 2 event. But for needs a deck. I did not have one but I decided to build one. What choices I had? I already sold majority of my KtK cards and I don't have the good cards already...


For a while I was trying to figure out what to play and what I can actually play. My pool of cards could handle mono black aggro, mono green whatever and naya/jund based deck. The latter might not actually work that well. I was thinking about playing some kind of RG Elspeth..but considering the fetchlands and considering the cards from KtK I decided to go for Abzan. I already spend some time thinking about Abzan Midrange or Sultai Midrange decks but at that time I did not expect to attend any type 2 event. When being at Cerny Rytir yesterday I talked to few people about type 2 and I was scouting about what they would play. I did not get many answers and those I got were usually in the sense of 'are you crazy? this weekend there are SCG events, just wait and see what the players will play there'. That's not the first time I heard this and personally I take this as an insult. I mean come on people, you can build your own deck. It does not need to be perfect or anything but figuring out what might be good gives a huge advantage in the upcoming tournaments. After this I also did not expect many players to come...because majority of the people told me that they won't go anywhere till they see what was played at todays and tomorrows SCG events. (no idea what or where..but that's me being ignorant...I just don't care)

The base for my deck should be my Jund Walkers deck. That is... I used Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix. I thought about it for a while and was wondering if mono green is viable. Caryatid - check, Courser of Kruphix - check, Polukranos - check, Genesis Hydra - check, Chord of Calling - check, Hornet Queen - check... but well screw it, I'm not going to play mono green. So I was wondering what colors should go with green the best. When thinking about Polukranos I realized that I still don't like the card. The main reason I did not want to play mono green (putting aside the fact I don't like mono colored decks no matter what) The card was sometimes insane in THS block, but now? Isn't there a better four drop? Yes, there is - Siege Rhino. When this creature comes into play it gains you three life and lets opponent lose three life. That is what caught my eye. 4/5 is secondary, Trample as well. So what else to play with it? Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix for sure. What else? The deck needs at least one more creature. I couldn't come up with one. Fleecemane Lion wouldn't do, Rakshasa Deathdealer wouldn't do as well..those cards are good for a different deck, not the one I envisioned (so I put those cards on a new pile of cards - the only other card there was Mana Confluence and Windswept Heath). I couldn't come up with anything so I continued in deck building. Rabble red is/was played a lot and mono black aggro seemed as choice number one for me so I started looking for some copies of Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow because those would be crucial in what I expected to play against. I had some somewhere but I wasn't sure where so I started searching some boxes full of cards. When looking for these two cards I found Reaper of the Wilds I got from Tony some time ago. I stared at the card for a while... then for a while longer. I was like Deathtouch? Hexproof? Filters lands? 4/5 body for 4? That's good isn't it? I took the card out of the crap cards alongside it put it into a perfect size sleeve and put in on the 'main deck' pile of cards laying next to the other pile with Lions and such.

So I had the creatures with which I could win. I had removal that seemed good Drown in Sorrow and Hero's Downfall and one lonely Bile Blight. The card that I expected to be strong is Elspeth, the Sun's Champion so I put that in and also sleeved a set of Abzan Charms. Night's Whisper effect, two counters or removal? Sweet. Or at least it looked sweet when I was putting it in my deck. During the tournament I realized that this card might not be the best thing against some decks^_~.

There were still 7 slots available in the deck. What to put in? One of the cards in the Jund deck I wanted back were Thoughtseizes. This gives information about other player's decks, wrecks their plan or gets me rid of a card I did not prepare for. I knew that this card might pretty well mess my own plans by choosing a wrong card but still thoughtseize is very powerful and found it's place in the 60. The last three slots were filled in with Arbor Colossus because I thought another Elspeth is a bad idea (but I changed my mind) and Utter End - a card I completely forgot about. When looking for Sandsteppe Citadel I came across it and I was like 'oh, why don't I play it?'.

After I had two different piles in front of me I started wondering what might be better. One pile was an aggro deck but I wasn't sure how I can play a 3 colored aggro deck without fetchlands and dual lands. After seeing BW super greedy deck work I guess this deck would work as well. But I couldn't decide what color would be in minority and what cards I'd rather play. Be it more Fleecemane Lion -> Brimaz -> Rhino or Bloodsoaked Champion -> Rakshasa -> Herald of Torment -> Rhino. The second line of thought seemed completely off. Mono Black works well on its own and the green is unnecessary. White might be nice addition but well...with the new cards I have the feeling that 'being a bit slower to incorporate cards like Rakshasa Deathdealer' won't be any good.

So in the end I just decided to play the cards I chose at first and fill the rest of the deck with removal against mono black and red decks. For midrange decks and controls I decided to pack Garruk, Apex Predator and Liliana Vess alongside with one more Utter End. I added Drown in Sorrow, Bile Blight, Nyx Fleece Rams, Murderous Cut and Despise for more aggressive decks. I put Despise there because it is cheap and can get me rid of creature which was my primary concern (get rid of creatures early game) but on the other like Stoke the Flames are game over for me. I might cut this card altogether. The card I was missing in my 75 today was Enchantment removal. Next time I'll play some Deicides as well.

by STsung
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Courser of Kruphix
2 Reaper of the Wilds
4 Siege Rhino
1 Wingmate Roc

Other Spells
3 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
4 Thoughtseize
1 Bile Blight
4 Abzan Charm
2 Drown in Sorrow
3 Hero's Downfall
1 Utter End
1 Murderous Cut
2 Forest
4 Llanowar Wastes
2 Plains
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
1 Swamp
4 Temple of Malady
2 Temple of Plenty
3 Temple of Silence
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Windswept Heath

In round one I played against mirror more or less. I expected to see more cards in one or two copies so I tried to expect weird cards. Game one seemed like a real mirror though. We both had Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix in play so we could see each other drawn cards. They were usually the same. I put all my remaining Coursers on the bottom in hope of drawing a Abzan Charm or Elspeth. We both had Sylvan Caryatid, Utter End and Drown in Sorrow in hand. When trying to draw something each of us drew a bigger creature that hit the table and immediately left it. In this game I realized that my lone Reaper of the Wilds might be actually what wins the game. But still I was waiting for Elspeth not really wanting to play two copies of Drown in Sorrow in one single turn to get rid of 4 opposing Coursers and 4 Sylvan Caryatids. Just to deal with Siege Rhino that would hit the table next turn. In the end it was my opponent's Elspeth that forced me to act finally. I played my two cards named Drown in Sorrow and got rid of everything except my Reaper of the Wild. I forgot about the everpresent Courser not being on the table anymore and still showed my opponent the following card. That was quite a wake up call. I Utter Ended his Elspeth, he Utter Ended mine but I was left with 3 soldiers and I hoped they would finish the game. In the end I had to help it a bit but I won. We played a second game then we did not finish it. I played Thoughtseize and saw something like Polukranos, Siege Rhino, Anafenza, Courser of Kruphix and Whip of Erebos. At this moment I had no idea what to discard and what might annoy me the most. I knew that Whip of Erebos might eventually kill me but 3 copies of Utter End and other removal that actually removes creatures from the game should solve this problem. I ran also a lot of removal so the creatures shouldn't be a problem? The card I should have discarded was Courser of Kruphix. I should reevaluate the power of this card. I spent some time playing it in Modern and in Standard but it wasn't that good as it proved to be in this deck today...

I played then against two mono black decks and mono red deck. The games weren't that much interesting but I learned that I can have 5 life on turn 3 against mono red and that mono black can kill me nicely with Mogis's Marauder. Drown in Sorrow is crucial and here's also the reason why Siege Rhino is better than Polukranos. Murderous Cut seems to be a pretty solid card and even in my deck I was glad to have it.

Hm that's about it I guess... ? I cannot describe with words how much fun it was. After a long time I felt like playing Magic like in the old times and I also spend some time figuring out what to play. It felt awesome. I did not really care about winning just about seeing what my deck can do or cannot do (and thus I gave chances to my opponents to kill me with the right top deck or cards in hand). Even if I would have lost I would not regret that.


After the tournament that I won we decided to draft. After seeing the cards I wasn't really sure if I can win anything with that but it ended up with 3:0 for me. How come? I don't know. I played even more casually, made some serious misplays and drafted a deck I did not really see as the winning one, but I had a plan and decided to stick with it if I want to win at least one match.

1 Mardu Charm
3 Ponyback Brigade
1 Ainok Tracker
1 Mardu Warshrieker
1 Leaping Master
1 Swift Kick
1 War Behemoth
1 Alabaster Kirin
1 Trumpet Blast
2 Canyon Lurkers
1 Summit Prowler
1 Mardu Hordechief
1 Abzan Falconer
1 Kill Shot
1 Witness of the Ages
1 Monastery Swiftspear
2 Feat of Resistance
1 Deflecting Palm
1 End Hostilities
1 Scoured Barrens
1 Wind-Scarred Crag
1 Mystic Monastery

My first pick was End Hostilities and my second pick was Leaping Master (meh). But soon Trumpet Blast came to me so I started picking anything that can hopefully attack or at least sometimes surprise an opponent. I picked all Ponyback Brigades I saw because that seemed as the only way I could win (+Trumpet Blast). Swift Kick was a card I picked out of necessity because I already passed some creatures that would kill me and that's about it. I also got passed some lands that I was grateful for. I thought I'm screwed after pack one...but it all got way better with pack three. By then we knew that Sorin and Polluted Delta would be in the backdraft.

I practically got a bye in the first round because my poor opponent couldn't draw a source of green or any other land. I won just by playing something...In the second round I knew I would be facing Mardu colors as well but with Mardu Ascendancy, burn spells and swifter creatures. I hoped that End Hostilities would win the game for me. I lost the first game after mulling to four but won the second one after waiting for ages, then finally alpha striking and killing everything but one 2/2 goblin (waiting another turn would mean that High Sentinel of Arashi would survive and I couldn't deal with it except for End Hostilities). The next card I drew was End Hostilities ^_~. I top decked better than my opponent and won later on. In the third game I managed to win as well but also had to play End Hostilities (this time on High Sentinels of Arashi alone) and won later.

In the final round I got trampled by a card that places 3/2/1 counters on three creatures(?). But I managed to win the other ones. I tried dealing with 6/6 Lifelink Abzan Guide and 4/4 creature that gave the counters on the Guide. I had a plan but it would take me three turns to get rid of it. I decided to go for it...but on the third turn my opponent decided that one 6/6 is not enough and created another one. So I decided to just alpha strike with my creatures and play End Hostilities. I had three creatures in my hand so I played two of them after and later won. In the deciding game it was Deflecting Palm that won me the game (but if I wouldn't be silly and counted correctly I would have played Trumpet Blast as well in my final attack (as that would deal 12 damage instead of 8 that I counted for some opponent being at 11 life))

Polluted Delta for me and I could go home (to write this, eat something and eventually work hopefully^^)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Legacy - Naya Zoo

It seems that since forever I'm trying to come up with a deck I'd like to play (Zoo is not one of them certainly) and I still haven't discovered it. The type of deck I'd like to play or the cards I'd like to play simply don't really work nowadays (unless I would play Vintage). But hell there should be something I'd like to play and have some fun with in non-Vintage formats? I like control decks, I like certain combo decks and I certainly don't like attacking with creatures and I hate burn decks. That is why you won't see me play Merfolk or White Weenie nor any kind of red aggressive deck. If I could I'd play (reactive/draw go) control no matter the format. But WotC seems to dislike the kind of control I have in mind something I would call 'instant' control - it's called draw-go I guess^_^. The tap out control is nothing I want to play though since it is way more proactive and I would like to avoid that. It seems to me that there is only one control deck in Legacy - Miracles. I quite like the deck but it lacks something that I need in a deck. Stoneblade/Esper Control is what had it but the deck got weaker with time and more midrangy version replaced it. That's a direction I did not wish to pursue (I tried and rather chose a different deck to try and play - Miracles). Anyway some time later I realized that the deck was not the only problem I had. I started to dislike the idea of playing against certain people and certain matchups. I stopped coming regularly to Legacy tournaments to avoid that and came there only when I really felt like playing and was capable of enduring insults and people's complaints.

One day I knew that there would be a day I would most probably be 'forced' to play. Some time ago there was a weekend during which World Magic Cup Qualifier and PTQ was being held in Brno. It was quite probable that there wouldn't be too many players coming for Legacy and Highlander and that is why I decided to build a deck for those formats and play with it if the number of players would be wrong (less then eight or odd).

For Highlander I had Reanimator, Bant Aggro-control and Zoo ready and Zoo was the winner in the end. As for Legacy I thought I would go with either Show and Tell (rather Sneak and Show variant), Reanimator or simply Burn (not really sure if I even have cards for that. People usually make fun of me because I can build almost any deck except the cheapest ones - usually burn decks). As for Show and Tell I don't really like the deck and cheating Emrakul or Griselbrand into play via Show and Tell or Sneak Attack is not really what I would want to do. But it seemed as the best deck to go with if I would not want to spend too much time 'playing' and win. Reanimator is more or less the same but it requires a bit more thinking and the deck is more variable than Sneak and Show. I actually like this way more but it is much worse choice against the decks people run here. Burn deck is something I never wanted to play...but is also a viable option for short games since I needed to be behind the counter selling stuff rather than spend majority of time playing^^. Honestly this is the very first time I actually thought about actually sleeving a mono red deck and playing it. It did not come to that though and I'm glad for it^_^.

On my way home I met a player that regularly plays Legacy and we started discussing Legacy decks (taking in account the field we play in) and a Zoo deck was brought up several times.

When I came back home I started thinking about it a bit more and then grabbed my binders and took out some cards. The ones I used to play in Legacy zoo years back...It might seem weird to some people, but I used to play all kinds of Zoo for several years. Thanks to this deck type I was able to get my hands on all those blue cards I did not have at that time^_^.

I put the cards on the table and stared at them for while...

  • 4 Wild Nacatl
  • 4 Kird Ape
  • 2 Qasali Pridemage
  • 3 Price of Progress
  • 4 Lightning Bolt
  • 2 Path to Exile
  • 4 Chain Lightning
  • 2 Sylvan Library

I had the impression that something (green and big^_^) important is missing. So I grabbed my modern Jund deck and took out a playset of Tarmogoyfs, spent some time looking at them for a while wondering why this card costs 180 bucks. I was certain that seeing too many of these during my future games will mean a rather bad hand...No matter what I put them on the pile of previous cards.

Then I was wondering what else I would want to play. I was certain that I don't want to play anything white unless I would have to. I'm not sure where this idea came from...but only thinking of playing Loam Lion in the deck seemed really scary to me because Taiga is something I would want the most on t1 and the second land should produce red as well and should not definitely be Savannah. It could actually work if I would play Plateau t1 and Taiga t2 but still fom some reason I have the feeling that this card would mess my game (I haven't tried it so Ican't say how it works in reality). Since I did not like the Loam Lion idea I decided to run Goblin Guide instead, it swings for the same amount of damage, has Haste and can be easily payed for. At this point I did not know that Goblin Guide would prove a way better creature than I thought at first and I might reconsider Loam Lion as well but so far the deck seems solid enough.

I still did not reach 60 so I was thinking about the current decks and tried to think about cards that actually do something in the 'new Legacy'. I realized that Grim Lavamancer is actually something that solves many of my problems and is not a bad one drop (ok maybe the best one drop I could get in this deck. DRS does not help much here^_^). So I put that in.

And then the last four slots were taken by Ghor-Clan Rampager. That is not a card I would consider playable in Legacy but I already thought about that some time ago and came to a different conclusion so I had to put it in - 4 mana cost cards are really difficult to deal with, Bloodrush ability is SUPER COOL, and the worst it can happen is that would get Stifle'ed. My creature can terribly die to Bolt or Sword to Plowshares but well that is something that I can worked with. At first I did not want to play a full set of Rampagers but in the end it ended up that way. I put 4 of these in because of a card named True-Name Nemesis at first but after seeing what the card does at the first tournament I went I now know that I would never play less than 4. The card is just too good for that.

As for the lands that was pretty straightforward. All the good fetches + some that are a bit worse, 3/2/1 dual lands as I usually run and Horizon Canopy and Karakas. I'm not sure if any of those is needed but I did not want more fetchlands nor dual lands. Drawing a card seemed a good idea and occasional help from Karakas seemed worth it but I'm not really convinced about that being a good idea. Nevertheless if someone destroys this land instead of a dual land it is good for me...

Figuring out a sideboard was a bit more difficult and I wasn't really sure if I would even use it because so far everything was just a theory. And when I don't really know how a deck works in a certain environment it's usually better for me not to sideboard (except the obvious matchups in which I would simply (mostly) die without sideboarding). I knew that I would need some cards against Storm decks (there were three ANT decks last time) and Elves. So I put in Ethersworn Canonist, Gaddock Teeg, Mindbreak Trap and Grafdigger's Cage. Artifact removal is a must have so I put in Destructive Revelry to see what the card does and Ancient Grudge that I usually run in decks that have access to green and red. I put Thruns in against Miracles and Oblivion Ring against Show and Tell. Not sure if that would help at all but well...I had no idea what to put in those 15 cards anyway. The last card I added was Null Rod. I was thinking that this card can deal with both Sensei's Divining Top and all equipments unlike Pithing Needle that can deal with one equipment. Jace TMS did not seem too scary nor Liliana of the no need for Pithing Needle there. The Needle might be enough though...paying one mana less can actually make a difference sometimes (especially in a deck that is light on mana). But I had not really too many chances to try that out.

Naya Zoo
By STsung
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Kird Ape
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
2 Qasali Pridemage
3 Grim Lavamancer
4 Goblin Guide

Instant [9]
3 Price of Progress
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Path to Exile

Sorcery [4]
4 Chain Lightning

Enchantment [2]
2 Sylvan Library

Land [20]
4 Arid Mesa
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Windswept Heath
1 Karakas
1 Mountain
1 Forest
3 Taiga
2 Plateau
1 Savannah
1 Horizon Canopy

2 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Destructive Revelery
2 Gaddock Teeg
1 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Mindbreak Trap
1 Path to Exile
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Null Rod
2 Oblivion Ring

I sleeved this deck and went to sleep. In the morning I opened the store and waited for some people to come in. 7 players showed up so I entered my DCI number in the Event Reporter and started the tournament. In the first round I played against 4 color good stuff deck. I won because my opponent drew too many lands but I could see that the deck I held in my hands was actually good enough to beat it under certain circumstances. After a lucky Bloodrush and few swings with Goblin Guide I won. In this game I actually realized how Goblin Guide's ability can actually be good for me. The information I got from it helped me a lot in the game. This deck being actually really aggressive means that my creatures need to die quite early otherwise my opponent gets into burn range. That's something that makes Ghor-Clan Rampager even better and makes Price of Progress even more viable. I wasn't sure about this card but from my experience from Modern I really needed something like this. It is something I really missed in the deck and that is why I put it in the Legacy version. It showed to be a good decision. Even though many people disagree with me.
In the next round I played agaisnt Infect. I lost one game but I won the other two. I had enough removal to get rid of creatures with infect and I could attack for quite a lot. Next I played against merfolk and I was a bit unfortunate and lost. But the game was close even though I had to deal with two TNNs that I couldn't really deal with much^^. In the last round I played against UWR delver. I killed both of us in the first game so I had to play more games than usual. I had the feeling that after sideboarding it should be more favorable for me. I tried to avoid Batterskull and Jitte and eventually won.

I do not regret sleeving this deck up. I might play more tournaments with it actually. I have to say that it was the first time I realized how strong Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull is (very annoying for an aggro deck). Now I understand why many people hate it and whine about it. I spend 5 turns staring at Batterskull unable to destroy it and felt hopeless (I still had a chance to win so that is why I still continued playing). Yeah, looking at these cards from the aggressive deck perspective is certainly different^_^. Having at least one removal and a one drop (two ideally) is something I wanted to see in my opener...unlike hands I usually keep that don't usually contain many creatures but rather cantrips and counterspells^_^.

If there would be anything to change for me it would most probably be the number of Price of Progress and Sylvan Libraries. There are match ups in which I want a different ratio of these cards and I can't decide how good Sylvan Library is. The card is insane ofcourse in some matchups but in some I don't have the time to even play it to stay alive. So what's the right number? 1,2 or 3? As for Price of Progress I'm not sure if I want to run 3 main or 2 main and 1 in SB. But those are things I can figure out while playing. Next time I'll take a look at Qasali Pridemage and what it does. It is a card I considered auto-include. But after few tournaments with this deck I'm not that convinced about the card. On the other hand I can't think of anything better that could replace it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014


When checking some alters of a certain card one can notice that some card alters are usually way worse. This is for example the case of Tarmogoyf or Vesuva. As for Tarmogoyf I don't really see the reason why the alters should be bad but in the case of Vesuva I can understand why. I spent few hours trying to figure out how to do a simple extended borders alter of Vesuva and it showed to be quite a difficult task. I myself will have to come back to the alter and slightly change some of the colors to match them better. Anyway here's my take on the alter.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ascension Realms Unraveled

Few days ago (exactly last week) we were chatting about board games and card games and the question when the 'new' Ascension Core Set will be out came to our minds. I know that Ascension sets are usually available in December and June. I skipped the last expansion because I seriously did not like Rise of Vigil (I guess I wrote something about it?). After our chat I just went to the local game store and bought a copy of Ascension Realms Unraveled that was released in June. When I brought it home I opened it and was surprised to see that the box can contain more cards in a certain manner. Not only that more cards can be fit in the box (that it contains) but it can also hold sleeved cards and tokens and whatnot. This was a surprise. What I was interested was the game. I unsleeved few Magic Modern decks and sleeved this copy of Ascension instead. Unfortunately it took few more days for me to actually try the game out. At midnight on Friday (Saturday already) we finally managed to play the first game.

So what is new? The game introduces Multi-Unite as a new mechanic. There are also multi-faction heroes for the first time (that had to happen one day.) Multi-unite is more or less Unite but each hero of the specific faction triggers it. Realms Unraveled features also transformed cards that were already in Darkness Unleashed. You can either use double-faced cards or single-face cards for that. (I don't like either of the ideas but I really HATE flipping Delver of Secrets so I stuck to two cards version instead of double-faced card.) In order to transform a card a player needs to fulfill a certain condition. It usually means to play a certain number of heroes (one or two) of a specific faction.

All this might not sound much - there is one new mechanic, multi-faction heroes - a something that simply had to happen one day - and already used mechanic from the last set. Other mechanics/features we had the chance to experience like Fate, Events etc. are not present in Realms Unraveled. It looks more like the very first Ascension set - Chronicle of the Godslayer. Do not be fooled though, this is a large set and has a lot to offer in terms of game play and the power level changed significantly.

So what's different? Obviously the very first thing one will notice is the design. Apart from the new illustrations that are much more colorful and less scratchboard-ish there are changes that make the cards seem more clear and easier to read. For me it is quite confusing still (I'm used to the old ones). There is no rarity symbol but rather just dots indicating the number of copies in the portal deck (good thing). The base personal deck cards have white boarders, the transformed cards, mystics, heavy infantry have a grey one and the rest of the cards you end up having in your deck are black bordered which also helps better with the set up.

From the game play point of view the very first thing we noticed is that factions matter. This set has set the boundaries of the 'kinds' of cards a faction can have. For example Lifebound primarily gains Honor, Void generates power and banishes cards from your deck, Mechana generates runes and Enlightened like to draw cards, acquire/defeat without paying costs etc. It is the multi-faction cards that do something that is unique to two different factions. For example Deathbound Druid gives you 3 Honor (Lifebound effect) and let's you banish a card in your discard pile (Void effect) - this card is obviously Lifebound Void Hero. We both like cards like Soul Assassin or Kor Feromancer. Those are cards that would not really fit the pure Void or pure Mechana card respectively. In Magic: The Gathering we both like freedom and that is why we don't really like limited formats or formats that limit in other way the game how it is to be played (Elder Dragon Highlander for example that implies that you can only put cards to your deck that shares a color identity with your general.). This feels a bit similar. In order to get a strong deck one needs to focus on one faction (saying it the dumb way, it's not entirely true but I think you get the idea...)

The faction matters for both multi-unite effects and the transform mechanic. While keeping this in my mind I had to choose a different key for acquiring cards. This is the same in Rise of Vigil even though in this case it is even more prominent. The multi-unite and transformed cards are so much more powerful that it really is worth buying 'worse' card but of the faction you need. In other words the decision making is affected by more factors than just power-level of a single card.

The second thing is that the game is much faster. The ability to transform a 1-rune card on turn 3 into a card that would be worth 4-runes is really powerful. The cycle of faction 4-rune constructs is powerful as well. One such construct (not really sure about the Mechana one though) transformed in early game can win the game on its own. I think that this in general is a good thing. But sometimes it also means that the game ends prematurely, well before a player manages to play their deck. <

The last and the most notable thing for us is that the game is more combo-ish. In Rise of Vigil/Darkness Unleashed one build his or her deck and in one or two turns simply comboed off (at least that's how it went when we played the game. Usually it was just one player who stormed like this and the other one was left to count his honor points). In Realms Unraveled both players usually get to do this on a smaller scale but still it can generate for example 20 or more honor points in that turn. Sometimes the games does not even reach mid-game or late-game and simply end with players having cards they wanted but never played. The other thing that is annoying and can happen is that you won't be able to transform a key card in your deck and then when you finally manage it the game suddenly ends.

More random bits from our game play experience
What perturbed us a bit is also the fact that there is no way of destroying constructs. Many times it happened that we had access to a 'banish card from a discard pile' effect but no discard pile. That was really annoying and added much more to Scryer of the Lidless Eye and Sage of Lucid Dreams.

There is also a flood of cards costing 4 that we did not really appreciate that much at the beginning. We hope that with the expansion there will be a higher variety of cards costing anything else than 4. Three would be the wanted number, but I can understand what this could do with the game, one needs to tread lightly when talking about anything that should be added to the game - this btw shows how well the game is designed. We both really appreciated the card drawing cards once again. Enlightened cards are really powerful! Any Enlightened splash for whatever effect can be ridiculously powerful (I know I'm saying this more or less about anything, but well there are really ways how to build a multi-faction deck with Enlightened splash for one can really go nuts if he or she wants, it's just that sometimes the cards won't appear but well that applies to all Ascensions. In this case the player will be screwed more though if they do not show up). I also wonder what cards I would want to put into my cube. Some cards won't do much and some cards will be insane. I have a long list of cards I do not want there already which brings me to the fact that some cards can be really abused and become broken like Adayu, Cetra, Dharta or Vir that we eventually banned and replaced with 2 "Thirst for Knowledge" (Draw three cards, then discard two cards unless you discard an Enlightened card), original Cetra and a card costing 5 saying 'Draw two cards'. With broken I mean one player taking 300 points in one turn. Some people enjoy seemingly limitless combos but I'm not really fan of this. That's why I would rather ban some cards and replace them with something weaker.

There is also a construct for 2 runes and a monster that you can beat with two power that let's you banish a card from the center row. This is something quite desirable and is needed especially by a player that does not really have access to much of power. As for the 2-rune-cost construct, constructs are important in this set (as a stand-alone set). Many times ANY two constructs you have in play are really important, having access to cheap constructs is something really good.

In general the game is really solid and good and I look forward for its first expansion. It looks to me a bit more random and less friendly for two-player game. Otherwise with such a small amount of cards and overall simplicity this game is actually complex and might not be the easiest thing to decipher for new(er) players. I was really taken aback by the design (I mean game-wise design).

The contents of the box, the box itself, the art, the cards everything is nicely done. Thumbs up for this because that's not always the case with other games and shouldn't be taken for granted.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Casual EDH attempt no.2 - Phelddagrif

For many players Marath and Prossh were too powerful so I was given Phelddagriff. I was told to build a deck using this as a general. I decided to do so. But for quite some time I was stuck with it because I couldn't come up with some 'kind' or funny deck. In the end I decided to try a wall deck with some kind of ramp that could give my opponents cards and later kill them with something (Blue Sun's Zenith). As you might well expect the deck didn't really work. I managed to kill one player usually but otherwise it did not work at all and was impossible for 1-on-1 play. (not that it would be a problem to have a multiplayer deck)

So later on I decided to tweak it into more ramp deck but still keep it more or less friendly.

I kept two mana walls that actually do something from the deck before. I cut for example Axebane Guardian because that card was really bad in the previous deck as well. Either I want to play my general or play something that helps me a bit more than usually 'gives one mana and has 3 toughness'.

  • Wall of Blossoms
  • Wall of Omens
  • Vine Trelis
  • Overgrown Battlement
  • Wall of Roots
  • Sylvan Caryatid

In order to get some more lands in play I added some ramps effects and exploration effects. I could probably play more ramp instead of the Walls but well I decided against it^_^. It could become a bit more consistent^_~.

  • Exploration
  • Explore
  • Urban Evolution
  • Cultivate
  • Solemn Simulacrum
  • Skyshroud Claim
  • Eladamri's Vineyard

So now having many lands what I can do with them? Play some Eldrazi for example or play Avenger of Zendikar and play even more lands or annoy someone with Mindslaver (I don't usually do that but in 1-on-1 games this usually can end the game. Getting rid of Eldrazi seems to be quite easy^_~ Or well much easier than it might see). I even play Tooth and Nail but that card does not usually have much targets. Since I also have white in the deck I decided to play some white of them is Entreat the Angels.

  • Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
  • Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
  • Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
  • Entreat the Angels
  • Mindslaver

Hitting lands is important, the deck needs card draw (because it can play more lands per turn usually). Courser of Kruphix with Exploration/Oracle of Mul Daya allows to play more lands. Genesis Wave and Wargate often look for lands. Time Warp or similar cards also look for lands (a bit more expansive 'Explore').

Even though this deck plays some Walls the deck cannot handle too many creatures with creatures alone (usually) so it needs some sweepers. At first I ran only Austere Command and Oblivion Stone but later I added Supreme Verdict and Wrath of God.

There are also tutors in the deck. Some people don't really like them and I don't play them if I don't really need to (Mystical and Enlightened Tutor).

  • Mystical Tutor - usual target is cultivate in early game later it looks for win condition
  • Enlightened Tutor - Future Sight mostly
  • Sterling Grove - Future Sight mostly, otherwise Oblivion Ring effect
  • Wargate - usually gets me a land card
  • Expedition Map - looks for Eye of Ugin or Academy Ruins
  • Tolaria West - Eye of Ugin/Academy Ruins/Wasteland
  • Treasure Mage - Wurmcoil Engine, Mindslaver

Then there are cards that used to be so cool when printed like Capsize and Forbid. Crystal Shard is one of the cards I also used to love and abuse quite a lot so I had to put it in there. The same goes to Meloku, who used to be usually one out of two win conditions in the past. I added the card out of nostalgia.

The deck is quite fine, but some people start to complain about it nonetheless. So that kind of forced me to come up with another deck - Roon Blink (more in the near future about that deck). So here's Hippo decklist.


Creature [21]
1 Acidic Slime
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Carven Caryatid
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Terastodon
1 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Rampaging Baloths
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Overgrown Battlement
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1 Eternal Witness
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Wall of Omens
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Wall of Roots
1 Treasure Mage
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Vine Trellis

Instant [7]
1 Capsize
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Blue Sun's Zenith
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Stroke of Genius
1 Forbid

Sorcery [15]
1 Wrath of God
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Cultivate
1 Walk the Aeons
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Austere Command
1 Entreat the Angels
1 Genesis Wave
1 Time Warp
1 Explore
1 Beacon of Tomorrows
1 Compulsive Research
1 Wargate
1 Urban Evolution
1 Supreme Verdict

Artifact [5]
1 Crystal Shard
1 Expedition Map
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Mindslaver
1 Relic of Progenitus

Enchantment [7]
1 Sterling Grove
1 Rites of Flourishing
1 Dictate of Kruphix
1 Banishing Light
1 Eladamri's Vineyard
1 Detention Sphere
1 Exploration

Land [41]
8 Island
1 Petrified Field
8 Forest
3 Plains
1 Brushland
1 Wasteland
1 Tolaria West
1 Savannah
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Academy Ruins
1 Tundra
1 Tropical Island
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Flooded Strand
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Yavimaya Coast
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Temple Garden
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Windswept Heath
1 Breeding Pool
1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Mana Confluence

Planeswalker [2]
1 Jace Beleren
1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave