May 4, 2012
With the release of Avacyn Restored, the standard metagame is obviously going to undergo some changes. Now I won’t pretend to know what these changes are, exactly. I am sure the first Star City Open will shed some light on the situation. What I will say is there is at least one deck that I think will show up in the Standard Top 8 of the Providence Open: Blue/Red Delver.
There is so much raw power in a deck like this. One of the best creatures in the format, Delver of Secrets, gets to pair up with some of the sweetest spells in the format, including the newly released Thunderous Wrath. How is this not the most exciting? Well we have 60 cards to put together so let’s start!
First off, the obvious creatures are Delver of Secrets and Snapcaster Mage. I would like 4 of each, please! These will form the backbone of the deck. Since both of these guys interact with spells and our spells are part of our win condition, our actual spell suite will have to be much more diverse than regular Blue/White Delver or Spirit Delver.
We obviously want to set up our Delver to flip, so Ponder is an automatic inclusion. When you use ponder on turn 2, assuming you didn’t just flip your turn one Delver, don’t be afraid to just go ahead and shuffle away a set of cards that doesn’t line up with your plan. I get that flipping Delver is “The Plan” but this deck actually has enough ways to interact with your opponent outside this Lightning Bolt on wings that you don’t have to try and get there 3 at a time. Ponder is especially important because it will hide the Thunderous Wrath until we have Red mana to actually hit them for 5.
Since Thunderous Wrath interacts so poorly with Snapcaster, we aren’t running a full 4 of these bad boys. Instead 3 will be enough and we will supplement the numbers with Noxious Revival. This card does work well with Snapcaster and adds a real level of versatility to your deck that continues to be surprising.
The other spell that really brings the heat is Brimstone Volley. This card is no joke in a format that runs rampant with Zombies that go morbid ever turn and Lingering Souls which offers about a trillion chump blockers. 3 of these fit the bill nicely, giving this deck even more reach.
The plus side to Volley is that you won’t often find yourself in a place where you have to cast it for 3 damage because the ground should stay clear with 2 Arc Trails and 3 Incinerates. Of course there will be the ever present 4 Vapor Snags so your burn spells won’t have to do all the work.
With 3 Miracles in the deck, drawing on your opponents turn will help get in extra points of damage. Besides the singleton Desolate Lighthouse, 3 Thought Scour will assist in this. The ability to mill our opponent or ourselves does two things. We can clear the chaff from Ponder, which is not the best use of the card, or we can destabilize our opponents’ Ponders, which is way better.
Getting a miracle stuck in your hand, especially one that costs 6, is not the best. 2 Faithless Lootings actually handle that problem nicely and give us some filtering to find the spells we need to maintain our dominant position.
With 5 cards remaining in the list, I have to suggest adding some control elements to the deck. With Cavern of Souls, Mana Leak becomes less good. That is fine for us as we actually don’t care about many creatures. Instead Negate is going to do some serious leg-work in this list. 3 of them plus Snapcaster protect us from board wipes, enemy plainswalkers, and Unburial Rites for Elesh Norn.
The last two spots fall to Grim Lavamancer! While the Lava-man does eat up out graveyard, he is death to opposing Delvers, gives us a lot of consistency with our damage, and can occasionally distract choice removal from our Delvers. The EOT synergy with Thought Scour doesn’t hurt either.
Our final list should look like this:
I don’t know about you, but I get a warm feeling inside seeing an absolutely devastating removal package that happens to double as damage to the face for a final kill. For this deck, 10 is easily doable in one turn and if the games turn grindy, the reach that all the burn adds can quickly allow you to break away from your opponent.
If you have questions about the deck, or magic in general, feel free to talk to me on Twitter @samdavisboyhero, or leave me a comment below. If you have time to listen to a podcast, Planeswalker Asylum is up on MTGCast and our full archives can be found on Couch Pirate Radio, if you have some catching up to do. As always, thanks for reading!
Until next time, keep your sleeves clean and your miracles on top.
April 11, 2012
By 10 am, April 11, 2012 I had received multiple texts and tweets about a new card that was spoiled. “Is this the best one drop now?” “So I hear you’re playing red some more.” and my favourite “Christmas came early.” I hadn’t seen the card and was hopeful but wary. People get really excited during preview weeks and it is only natural to want to see as many playable cards as possible. So naturally I had to see what the fuss was about and I found Vexing Devil.
Sweet flavor text aside, I can see why people got so excited. This card is exciting. A 4/3 for one red that could just be 4 straight to the face? How nuts is that? And here is where things get tricky. The card is very nuts or not nuts at all, depending on the format you are playing.
I have heard this type of design called the punishing mechanic. Frankly, the only thing this mechanic punishes is you for playing with it. I know that seems inflammatory but I promise it will all make sense in just a moment.
What do you want out of Vexing Devil? Well, that is generally situational depending on the board state. If they have ample amounts of blockers, you want this card to just shoot them in the face. If they are looking at an empty board, having a 4/3 body to get in for repeated damage is nothing to cough at. The problem with all this is that you don’t get to pick what effect you get. Instead your opponent does. If you want to dome them for 4 because they can block, you better believe that 9 times out of 10, they are gonna let that devil stay and play. However if they are looking at an empty board with no action for a few turns, why allow you to have a beastly beater when they can just take the 4 now and eliminate future resource allocation issues when trying to deal with the devil. In short, if you want one part of this devil, you will likely get the other part.
But I wanna play with new cards!
That being said, this card is not unplayable in the right format. But what format is that?
My success as a burn player in Legacy is largely why everyone turned to me when this card was spoiled. That being said, I saw this card and thought “Well golly gee, this card is gonna be sweet…in standard.” Well, why not in Legacy? The first reason is relatively simple. Presently Legacy has Swords to Plowshares and Lightning Bolt as the front runners for most popular removal spell. Swords is in the “Best” deck in the format presently, Maverick. However Maverick isn’t the only deck that happily plows dudes as every version of Stoneblade comes equipped some number of Swords and Snapcaster Mages. When you aren’t worried about Swords, you are generally concerned with RUG Delver and their bolts. As it turns out, each of these decks would jump with joy if they saw the Burn player go Mountain. Vexing Devil. Trigger? “You have a dude.” Okay. Go. They just untap and kill it, leaving you with no pressure on board.
Worse yet, this card is a terrible topdeck in Legacy Burn for a few reasons. First, we have the punishing problem as described above. The second reason is that this card does not have haste and cannot guarantee damage. Lingering Souls tokens, of which they usually have 4, can happily block this guy all day because they can see him coming. Goblin Guide or Hellspark Elemental off the top still get to go to the red zone for a turn and Keldon Marauders guarantees 2 points of damage.
There is one place for the devil to go though. Figure of Destiny has always been the weakest card in the Burn list, by far. Having a 4/3 body, even with blockers is nothing to shake a stick at. That being said, I don’t think that Burn will stay mono red after the release of AVR. That is an entirely different post though.
Evaluating this card in the framework of Modern is a bit more difficult due to the fact that the rest of the set is likely to have an impact on some parts of Modern and Modern seems to be a constantly evolving format. With that in mind, I again look to removal spells like Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile. These two spells are played in multiple decks and are unlikely to go anywhere. Though in Modern, where your mana base is frequently greedy and filled with ‘Shock’ lands, one red to make your opponent discard a card and you fetch a land or gain three life isn’t the worst card you could play.
You can Bloodbraid Elf into this but I don’t know if you want to, outside of very specific circumstances so this card probably won’t find a home in Jund. Given that Wild Nacatl was banned for being a 3/3 on turn 2, yet Delver of Secrets remains in the format, I can’t imagine this fellow will get the ban hammer any time soon and might bring back a Zooish list. He is also aggressive enough for Modern that I can imagine that Boros and Burn might show up with a little more frequency at the next Modern PTQ season, if only for budget reasons.
Standard is actually where this card is really exciting. As always, I point to the fact that it dies to removal. But in this format, the removal that actually kills it costs 2 mana to cast. Obviously you can Tragic Slip it but that requires a creature to die meaning you can’t do it until turn 2 at the earliest. This means that one way or another, this guy is likely to get in for 4. That is actually where I feel like everyone playing standard needs to value him as. One Red for 4 damage to your opponent if cast in the first 2 turns. After the first few turns, his value decreases but depending on your deck, perhaps not by much.
In the mid to late game given that the red player will (hopefully) have a Shrine of Burning Rage on the table and it immediately gets you back in the fight. Red Green Aggro will love this card as well, though the green may actually be unnecessary now. Having 3 toughness means that the aggro decks will still have to fear Slagstorm but that wasn’t going to change.
Mental Misstep is a solid answer to this card, especially considering how versatile it could be when paired up with the rest of Standard, so that is certainly a minor detractor from this card, though Delver doesn’t get Misstepped. As far as control is concerned, this card will likely be a problem one way or the other, as the two semiprevelant control decks in the format frequently stabilize between 5-10. After Devil gets printed, you can read that as 1-6, and for an aggressive deck, even 6 damage can be quite doable.
Overall, I can see this card seeing some very light Legacy play (one deck), some moderate Modern play (2-3 decks), and Standard will likely have more than a few decks with this not so little guy. Financially, I won’t trade for Vexing Devil at more than 4-6, probably ever. This card isn’t Goblin Guide but it isn’t Goblin Fireslinger either.
If you have questions or comments, feel free to bring them up here or on Twitter @samdavisboyhero. If you want to hear what else I have to say about the spoilers, you can listen in to Planeswalker Asylum. As always, thanks for reading. I hope I managed to quell some irrational excitement and spark some rational excitement.
Until next time, keep your sleeves clean and your reactions reasonable.
March 27, 2012
If you have read any of my previous posts, you are aware that I always end with a few things. I tell you to go listen to my podcast and I tell you that you can contact me on Twitter. The podcast, Planeswalker Asylum, primarily focuses on Magic Culture, which for the most part evolves on Twitter. Obviously articles and tournament results play in to it as well but the community’s reaction to the articles and tournament results happens most organically on Twitter. I thought everyone who had anything to do with Magic had a Twitter. It only makes sense, from an insiders stand point. Then I found out that this wasn’t true.
“I don’t get it. The number sign thing is weird.”
“No Twitter is dumb.”
“How can I say anything in 140 characters? I like using words!”
If you have said anything like the above statements, then you need to read this article. Twitter is where the Magic happens.
I’d be willing to bet that most people who read this like playing at the local FNM so that is where I will begin. The reason why you like FNM is not just because you get to play Magic. You like FNM because you get to see your friends. You get to hang out, crack some jokes, talk about Magic, and of course laugh when your friend totally punts a game. You go to FNM for the atmosphere. For the most part, that is how everyone on the Twittersphere interacts with one another. You get to see what your friends have to say about the most recent announcement almost instantly. Not only that, you get to see what the Pros like LSV and Patrick Chapin think about the most recent announcement.
That level of connectivity to people that you normally wouldn’t be able to talk to or hear their personal opinions makes Twitter that much more important to those involved with Magic. It isn’t just the Pros that you get to interact with though. Mark Rosewater is on Twitter, as is Aaron Forsythe and several other members of the Wizard’s staff. They each encourage you to give feedback to things they say. While they might not always respond immediately or even at all, you can be reasonably certain that if they asked for a response, they read the responses.
Connectivity with the Pros and the people who actually make Magic is fantastic but you actually have access to a larger group of people than you might imagine. Have you watched Star City Live coverage? What about the new Grand Prix coverage by Wizard’s? Then you have seen the Twitter feed going. Want to comment on a misplay or a sweet deck or even want to try to get your friend who is X-0 on coverage? Tweeting at Star City or the Magic Pro Tour account with the appropriate hash tag (That is the weird number sign thing, FYI.) might get you a few responses. Tweeting your record as you continue through an event with the hashtag usually results in someone wishing you luck or telling you not to punt in your feature match. A perfect example of the power and versatility of Twitter is 20 Tweets–an article found on LegitMTG.com–which covers important tournaments and popular issues pertaining to Magic that arise on Twitter.
On a more personal level, if you just made a sweet deck, finished a fantastic looking alter, posted your most recent blog or podcast, Twitter is the place you go to make sure that people instantly see it and go take a look. More than that, if you have a question about the rules randomly or about logistics getting to the next GP, Twitter is usually quick to respond to your query.
When I started writing this article, I asked people what they liked about Twitter. I got responses throughout the day. People said that they enjoyed being constantly connected to the community, that they liked seeing what was happening at tournaments-even if they couldn’t watch the coverage, and that they actually enjoyed the challenge of making a coherent, clever post in such a confined space. Each of these reasons makes a lot of sense and showcases a different aspect of Twitter that is enjoyable.
So let us, for the moment assume that I convinced you to actually acquire a Twitter. Where do you start? First, think of a cool name. Now be sad that someone has taken it already. Think of another cool name. Be sad again. Repeat until you find a name that works. Then write a neat little bio about yourself. If you write a blog or something, the website area is a good way to flaunt that. Then you need people to follow!
This list is very brief but it is a good place for you to start.
Star City Folks:
Channel Fireball Folks:
MTG Finance Folks:
Assorted individuals of import:
To be clear, this is by no means a complete list and if I left you off, it isn’t because I don’t think you are important. Instead I have just provided 20 people that are a good starting point for anyone getting involved in Twitter for the first time. If you are involved with Twitter and aren’t following some of these people, consider it. They usually say good things or are relevant in some way.
Hopefully this has changed your mind about Twitter. If it hasn’t, tell me why. If it did convince you, tell me why on Twitter @samdavisboyhero and you should follow the host of this entire blog network, Neale. Take a listen to the podcast if you are interested in Magic Culture, or if you want to know what my voice sounds like (Hint: sexy). And as always, thanks for reading.
Until next time, keep your sleeves clean and your tweets funny.
March 13, 2012
I don’t know about you but I don’t enjoy tournament reports. There are exceptions, of course. But as a general rule, I just don’t see the point most of the time. If you have a sweet deck, tell me what you liked and didn’t like. Feel free to offer some matches as examples. What I don’t want to see is something dull that has literally no point. The first game of my first match of the Legacy event is a perfect example of what I am talking about. This will be boring. Stick with it. It will pay off. If it doesn’t, you can write mean comments.
I sit down across from my opponent. He seems cool. We say the words we are supposed to. Where are you from? Oh that isn’t the worst drive. Did you play standard? Oh that is an interesting choice. How did you do? Oh that isn’t too bad. Blah Blah Blah. Dice are rolled. He is on the play. He shuffled weird. I see an Underground Sea and then an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Okay, this is the worst match up for me.
We draw up our hands. He keeps. I have no lands. Down to 6. No lands. 5. No lands. 4. No lands. Keep it anyway. Underground Sea Go.
Draw. Not a land. Go.
Draw. No land. Go.
Draw. Hit you for 7. Go.
Draw. No land. Scoup.
That was boring. Just a bad beats story. Now I know that not all reports go like that but sometimes it is round after round of effort to meet the final wordcount. I would honestly rather you put out no content at all than content that isn’t worth reading. So I would like to try something a bit different for my games 2 and 3.
Feeling the shame of a crushing defeat at the hands of the Leviathan, I blinked off the plane and into the Void. The space between one plane and another is the perfect place to gather my thoughts and devise a plan to fight off this powerful, necrotic foe. Fortunately, stored in a bubble and hidden in the Void at a location only I knew, there exists a cache of spells that might assist me. Finding it, I smiled to myself, selected a choice few, and blinked back to the plane.
The dark mage stood, mockingly, across a blank field. He called out to me, asking if I was prepared to try my luck again. My mind was full of fire and thoughts of home. I simply nodded to him and I saw his eyes glow blue with the untold power hidden inside his head. Focusing on the mountain ranges where I first discovered my spark, I saw the ground dry and turn a dusty red. The lands had responded to my call. Not a moment later, a goblin snapped through the aether and charged headlong, unfazed by its trip from the plane of Zendikar, toward my opponent. I could see for a moment, in the necromancer’s eyes, thoughts of a delta, tainted by evil. Then the teeth of the goblin met the flesh of his leg. The pain was certain but the mage stood stoic. After a moment the goblin exhausted his energies and paused his assult.
The same delta that formed in the mage’s eyes moments ago appeared beneath his feet. Then the land shifted and he stood at the mouth of a cave, water trickling past his boots. He closed his eyes for a moment and I saw his aura grow blue as he chanted in a language I didn’t understand. Suddenly, behind him appeared the corpse of a radiant angel clad in armor. I had heard tales of such an angel from a knightly female who claimed that once summoned the angel would accept upon itself the dangers and damages that would normally befall a mage.
The fire flowed into my mind with even greater zeal than at the beginning of the battle. The red earth beneath my feet shook and a mountain appeared behind me. The goblin, regaining his strength, again gnawed at the mage, who was now certainly worse for wear. Then again calling upon the power of my home, I let fire flow through me. It burned. The pain was great but I knew that the necromancer felt the same pain. His discomfort made mine easy to dismiss.
He gestured arcanely at the angel and I saw that this attempt to rouse the guardian, were it to prove successful, would hinder my spells from finding their true mark. His face paled as he strived to reanimate her lifeless corpse. At that moment I knew that this spell would hurt the mage a great deal and I thought of a plan. Desperate but potentially rewarding, I pushed forth the flames from mountains at my back. I knew that doing so would certainly sever my connection with these lands but the damage it would deal the tainted mage would be enough to ensure that victory was mine this time. The lands disappeared and so too did the mage. I knew he would be back shortly.
I blinked again into the void and cleared my head. Then back to the contested plane. Moments later my opponent was back as well. I looked at him and he shook his head, dismissing what knowledge might be therein, seeking to find more potent sorceries to fight my magics. After a moment, he nodded and I found almost all my thoughts again consumed with fire, save the piece of trickery I had pulled from the bubble in the Void. Our fight was about to begin for a third time and to the victor would go the plane along with whatever treasures and spells that might have been hidden here.
The delta again appeared and this time it transformed into an island. Once more the mage closed his eyes and he glowed with power. In the waters behind the island, the body of the dreaded leviathan that had bested me upon our first encounter floated to the surface. I knew that in moments I could be met with the attacks of this monster.
A mountain emerged underfoot and with its power I threw a bolt of lightning. It connected with the mage and his face was wracked with pain for the briefest of moments.
Next to the island a swamp emerged and I knew that my time may not be long for this plane. Instead of simply reanimating the beast still floating behind him, the mage closed his eyes for a third time. Careful consideration went into the next few moments then the corpses of not one but two of the Phyrexian Praetors. I know that my fear must have shown. This mage was clearly well traveled and powerful.
I call upon a second mountain and summon an elemental. The mage winces as the elemental’s claws pierce his skin. After a moment the elemental disappears and a pile of ash, still smoldering, appears behind me. The warmth at my back reassures me that I may yet have hope to defeat this necromancer.
He smiles and I am filled with concern. Again he whispers arcane words and I feel the taint of his spell engulf the area. Black tendrils curl about the pile of ash behind me, attempting to beckon it back to life. Similar whisps dance between the three dead monsters behind the mage. I then realize my rage has blinded me to my own options. I shake my head, seemingly dismissing a thought. A faerie appears behind me for a moment and the corpses of both Phyrexians disappear into the aether with a malicious giggle and a snap. The dark tendrils afix themselves to the mighty leviathan and to the faerie, animating both of them with its dark touch.
I send the faerie over the oddly helpless leviathan to scratch at the eyes of the dark mage. As soon as the faerie stops, a spike of lava erupts from a mountain behind me, splashing against my opponent.
He retaliates, sending the leviathan straight for me. There is nothing I can do to prevent its attack. The pain is massive and I know I won’t be able to survive more than one more attack like that.
I preform a bit of necromancy, asking the smoldering pile of ash behind me to reform once again for just a moment. The ashes form and the revived elemental joins my malicious aerial ally against the necromancer. After its purpose is served, the elemental disappears into the Void.
Unwilling to give up hope, the black mage sends the leviathan crashing in a second time. I know that this will hurt, but bracing against the might of the sea monster does little to lessen the pain. I coax lightning from my fingers toward the mage but through sheer force of will he swats the spell away.
My faerie goes toward the mage again, making contact with his throat. After just a second, The Void opens up and the necromancer and his vile taint are gone from the plane.
I stand alone, victorious. Now to seek the spoils…
That was certainly more enjoyable to write than a play-by-play of what otherwise would have been fairly uninteresting games. I hope that you had just as much fun reading it. If you’re interested in reading more like this, please let me know. In fact, any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated. As always, I can be found on Twitter if you can’t get in touch with me here. Thanks for reading!
Until next time, keep your sleeves clean and your reading interesting.
February 23, 2012
While attending Grand Prix Hoth (located in Lincoln, Nebraska), I got to experience a new format for the first time. Modern was different from Legacy and obviously different from Standard. On that front, I believe WoTC can say that Modern is a success as a format, however that is an entirely different article. Not only did I get to interact with a new format but I, once again, found myself observing several situations that could have been avoided by a few simple things. Given that I find these things to be so simple, many of which I believe to being fundamentally polite and cautious, I felt obligated to share my thoughts about appropriate conduct throughout the course of a major event. Much of this can also be easily applied to your local game store and I will be sure to point out those things as they come up.
The first thing that I noticed was the number of simple mistakes that both players make. Most of these are honest and accidental. Despite the honest nature of these mistakes, they can be damaging on the game state and are frequently irreversible. For example, I witnessed a match where a Burn player had a Torpor Orb on the table, keeping the Twin player from going infinite. However neither player caught the two damage from two Keldon Marauders entering the battlefield. By the time one player noticed, at least two turns had passed, which restricted a judge from being able to give the Twin player his two life back, despite the fact that both player had detailed notes and agreed on where the exact life losses had taken place. That could have been a huge advantage to the Burn player. Luckily the damage was not relevant in the end but that could have easily been prevented by slightly more observant play on either side. These things are things you can train yourself to avoid at FNM and you should be sure to constantly check the board state every time an action is taken. Make sure that you don’t play slowly while doing this but a constant vigilance is important. I know seasoned players who would say that this is obvious, and maybe you are thinking the exact same thing presently, however even those players make mistakes that would result in warnings at a large tournament. No matter how long you have been playing, there is always a chance to miss something. Remembering that tenant helps ensure that you won’t.
Now as a player in that game, when do you call a judge? As the Twin player, you want to call the judge as soon as you notice a problem to attempt to rectify the problem and hopefully get you a point or two of life back. Whenever you see something that you opponent has done, either willfully or accidentally, that has given him or her the upper hand, you obviously should call a judge. But what if you are the Burn player? You want to call the judge as soon as you notice a problem to attempt to rectify the problem and hopefully get your opponent a point or two of life back. Because whenever you see something that you have done, in this case it will only be accidentally as you won’t be calling a judge on yourself if you are willfully breaking the rules, you need to call a judge and try to rectify the situation. Yes, you may lose because of it. That is irrelevant to the correct line of “play”. Winning games because you cheated means you didn’t actually win that game of Magic.
There is a third side of a Magic game that many people forget. People watch games. When you are watching a game, you are obligated to point out any mistakes in the current gamestate. Don’t confuse this with offering advice or anything of that nature and make sure that you phrase your corrections to the game in as factual and nonleading manner as possible. If Player A casts Path to Exile on Player Bs Goblin Guide, then Player B moves to the attack phase with the Guide in the graveyard what should you say?
A factual statement would be “He path’d your guide.” however that may lead Player B to try and search out a land, despite the fact that the optional may was declined. Instead, “Your guide is exiled.” is the most correct way to say that. Now it is up to Player B to realize he missed his may search, though at that point it is too late.
An extension of the observer’s role in the game is actually one of which I only recently learned but may be the most useful part of this article. If you are watching a game where a judge is called and you believe, for whatever reason, that the judge makes an incorrect ruling, you have every right to ask him about it. By this I do not mean “That’s wrong and you are stupid!” in front of everyone. Instead, step aside with the judge, out of ear shot, and ask as politely as you can why he or she ruled in the manner that they did. Most judges will respond to this favorably if you are respectful. They will explain and then, if you feel like they are incorrect say something like “Oh, that’s interesting. I thought it actually worked like [_____].” or “I was under the impression that that is actually a game loss. Why isn’t it?” The judge will likely explain things to you about why they are correct or, and do not expect this, realize that they actually ruled incorrectly and seek to rectify the mistake. If the judge doesn’t satisfy you and you are certain that he or she has missed the call, you can ask to see the Head Judge. Remember that you should be polite and respectful at all points in the conversation and the conversation should either result in a deeper understanding of the rules on your part or a correction to a ruling. This won’t come up at your local store as often, as there will typically only be one judge about but don’t be afraid to ask that judge
One thing that applies to every part of this discussion is the fact that the judge staff is there to help you out. Just because they cannot take sides does not mean that they are not on your side. At no point in a tournament is the judge ever against you. Talk to these people to foster better communication between judges and players and to expand your rules knowledge. If you know the rules, you won’t break as many by accident, after all.
If you have any specific rules questions, ask your local judge or send out a tweet to one of many Judges on Twitter. My personal favourites to ask are @SCGJudge, @kalipanderson, and @ahalavais. Kali and Arthur are both Level 2 Judges and are usually right on the money when they explain how something works. Keep in mind, they only have 140 characters to work with so be gentle.
As always, any feedback you’d like to give is appreciated. You can contact me on Twitter @samdavisboyhero. If you want more of what I have to say, I talk into a can for the internet to hear semi-regularly here! Once you are done there, head on over to my LGS site and see what some of the other local writers are up to!
Until next time, keep your sleeves clean and your judge calls loud.
February 6, 2012
Drafting can be one of the best ways to expand your skills as a player for a multitude of reasons. However good experiences come from good practice and you cannot practice things that you don’t know about. It is doubtful that those of you reading this are professional Magic players and while I hope you all one day will sit down with 7 other folk and draft at a professional level, I am going to start at the very beginning and talk you through drafting, outlining how good drafting works and pointing out what isn’t good drafting.
January 13, 2012
In the ancient past, in the before times, last year, I began a blog about Magic: the Gathering. Some of you reading now have been with me since those fateful moments when I put finger to keyboard. Others are just joining me now. In either case, welcome to my first blog under the WrongWayGoBack banner! I’d like to start with a tiny bit about me and then move to my main topic.
Let us start super basic. I’m Sam. You may have deduced this already. I play, write and podcast about Magic: The Gathering. Under my belt I have only a year of “competitive” play, largely at my local store in Norman, Oklahoma. If you’re ever in the area you can find me slinging the spells most Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at Wizard’s Asylum. I have managed such hi-jinks as Top 8ing the M12 Gameday while only winning one actual game in the Swiss rounds. I also have a few real victories under my belt. I am not claiming that I am good, I am claiming that I am starting to understand in the smallest amount the game of Magic.
Now that you know who I am, I have a sweet sweet deck list for you to take a gander at. This is the list that I started the weekend of Grand Prix Austin with.
3 Garruk Relentless
1 Traveler’s Amulet
The reasoning behind this deck can be found here. It is a fun deck to play and when I started I thought it would take the field by storm. I was young and silly. Oh, and it did take me to the TCGplayer.com Platinum Qualifier Top 8 at Grand Prix Austin. There were a few changes that I found I needed to make.
First, 25 land, even with the Amulet, was simply not enough. Secondly, as I mentioned in my premiering of the deck, I didn’t like the double drownyard. So these things got fixed. However I had to figure out what I should take out from the deck to place that last land in. The answer came to me via a friend of mine who pointed out that nearly every game, you board out leak and you almost never want to see more than one, in this post Snapcaster standard.
I cut a Mana Leak for a Hinterland Harbor and I turned the Drownyard into a Swamp. My mana base is much more solid than it was before and I never have those awkward double drownyard opening 7. All in all these changes were both needed and fantastic. Next came the hard part. I had to cut both Doom Blades. Don’t worry sports fans, I promptly replaced them with Dismembers!
This change is good for a multitude of reasons. I can produce black mana. That is pretty obvious, given my mana base. That means Dismember need not cost me 4 or even 2 life. However, given the flexible nature of its mana cost, I can cast it and Snap it back whenever I need, given the obvious life restriction. Luckily this deck is designed to stabilize with Vengence so the life, while not irrelevant, is something that I can worry slightly less about than in a traditional control deck. The next reason is something that I never considered before sitting across the table from not 1 or 2 but 3 Mono Black Infect decks over the course of the weekend. I know that this seems like an awful match but with the sideboard that was built on site (yes I will show you later, just be patient) it turned out to be fairly reasonable. I did lose one match and I did so because Doom Blade was not its more versatile cousin Dismember.
Now the list looks something like this.
3 Garruk Relentless
1 Traveler’s Amulet
And the Sideboard (I told you I would show you) looks a bit like this.
3 Flashfreeze These come in against the big bad Wolf Run.
3 Surgical Extraction I don’t want you Snaping back your spells.
2 Curse of Death’s Hold Humans, Illusions, MBI all hate this.
2 Go for the Throat Even more removal is nice sometimes.
1 Karn Liberated Sweet against control.
1 Black Sun’s Zenith Just like the Curse, it is good.
1 Doom Blade Sometimes the Dismember life is relevant.
1 Beast Within A decent catch all for the field.
1 Garruk Relentless Another thing Control wants to fight over instead of Vengence.
I will let you figure out what comes out for the moment. If you have the cards and want to try something really different for an FNM, I highly suggest this. You will feel so swell Snaping back that Vengence for the kill or just mowing them down with an army of wolves. either way it goes, this deck is truly a pleasure to play. It reminded me that Magic can be fun, and that is why we are all playing, isn’t it?
If you think this list rocks, or is just utter garbage, I want to know. You can find me on the Twitter @samdavisboyhero. As I mentioned before, I podcast semiregularly about the culture of Magic and sometimes we even talk about cards. If you have an hour (or more) to kill you can take a listen here. If you want to see more of my writing, I have exclusive content over on my LGS site if you feel like reading a slightly more Oklahoma-centric meta article or two. And as always, you should feel free to leave questions and comments in the section below.
Until next time, keep your sleeves clean and your hand full.