Monday, 30 June 2014

Quirion Dryad

Quirion Dryad

This lady is great in Limited since you're probably going to be running at least two colours. Outside of Limited, this card is pretty great too if you're running a multicolour deck. It grows with every nongreen cast (not really, but it's easier than spelling out each cast colour) and things that grow are awesome. It also works well with combat tricks like Colossal Might and Consume Strength. The only issue I have with this is that there's no evasion, but I just think of it as having the text "defending player has one less blocker whenever this creature attacks". 

Pros: Grows with red, white, blue, or black spells
Cons: No evasion
Rating: 4/5

Friday, 27 June 2014

Spoiler Tyme: Jace, the Living Guildpact

I've done a couple of these before, but I think it's high time to make it a "thing" On Spoiler Tyme, I'll look at an officially released spoiler and give you my predictions as to its quality and other such things. All card images will be taken from mythicspoiler.com.


There's a comment on a forum that sums up my feelings towards this card quite nicely:
"Holy crap! WotC took the nerf bat to Jace and apparently beat him half to death with it."

Coming in with 5 loyalty is cool and all, but it still takes 3 turns to charge up to ult. What do you have to do to charge? Mill yourself without gaining card advantage. Some people are predicting that his "pseudo-scry"means more graveyard love, but I see his "crying" as having a potential to hurt his owner more than than not. His -3 is an overcosted Disperse. The major thing that people are touting as this card's "saving grace" is his ult because "it wins games". So? Most planeswalkers ults will win you the game. That's what they're there for. Just because the ult wins the game doesn't redeem the whole walker.

I'm sure this will find a place in Standard (all Jaces do), but I think this is the weakest Jace and by far the weakest blue walker in Magic. I just hope this is the last Jace for a while (I know I'm wrong, but I can hope).

Pros: Comes in with 5 loyalty
Cons: +1 forces you to mill, expensive Disperse
Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Things People Need to START Running in EDH

As a follow-up to this post, I thought I'd make a list of things I think more people should run in EDH. This isn't a list of essential cards like I have done in some other posts, but a list of suggestions that I have for people building decks.

Mind Stone
Mind Stone

This is a new discovery for me. I used to think it wasn't all that great back in the day, but now I've come around and seen it's potential. The one mana it produces isn't super-spectacular, but it's pretty cheap as far as mana rocks go. Its true potential lies in the fact that it can draw a card at instant-speed, which is never a bad thing. Use it as ramp to get you where you want to be then break it for the card you need.

Credit Voucher
Credit Voucher

This may seem like an odd choice, but give me a chance to explain. Let's say you've got a hand of six cards on turn three. Three cards are cards you want and the three you've drawn are complete crap in your current situation. With this card, you can get rid of those cards and try and draw something better. Now, many people are going to be turned off by the random chance aspect, but try looking at it like this: the cards in your hand are bad, but the cards you draw might be better. If you're in a bad spot, there's no reason to not gamble. And unlike, say, Winds of Change, you get to keep any cards you want, which puts you at a more advantageous position.

Temporal Extortion
 Temporal Extortion

This will usually be a free turn for you since not many players are willing to lose half their life to stop it. Either that, or it's going to hit someone for half their life. Either way, you win.

Sins of the Past
Sins of the Past

This card surprises so many people. Remember that Damnation that you used a couple turns ago? Well, now you can use it again and solve more problems. It works in so many situations and it's great. I've never been sad to draw this because, even if this is triple the targeted card's cost, it gives you access to something you normally wouldn't be able to in a black deck.

Skyshroud Claim
Skyshroud Claim

It's a Rampant Growth on cocaine (and cocaine accessories). It costs four, but it gets you two untapped lands. Two untapped lands. This may only be able to get forests, but you can get shocklands with it, so it's actually a lot better than it seems. Brings you from turn four to turn six in one fell swoop.

Sudden Spoiling
Sudden Spoiling

Remember that time someone swung at you with a bunch of tokens and you died? Sudden Spoiling remembers. This counters so many creature-based problems it's not even funny. Need to solve a Memnarch/High Tide/Palinchron combo? Use this and Memnarch is useless until the end of turn, making that High Tide a complete waste. Best part about it is that there's very little that can be done about it due to split second. Great one-shot solution.

Price of Glory
Price of Glory

If you're like me, you tend to want to stop people from having shenanigans. This stops shenanigans. No more counter magic, no more "end of turn" happenings (at least not without a huge price tag). It's just like nature intended.

Pain Magnification
Pain Magnification

It's a backwards Sygg, River Cutthroat! It hands your opponents some serious card disadvantage, especially if you've got got some sort of repeatable damage system going. Unfortunately, it doesn't trigger on life loss nor does it count cumulative damage, but it's still a nice card that will probably make someone unhappy.

Fertilid
Fertilid

This little guy is a great ramper. He's two Rampant Growths on a stick, which makes him a great blocker (block, become two lands). Just a really good creature for decks with green.

Wipe Away
Wipe Away

It's a better Boomerang. Even though it costs one more, the split second makes it well worth the extra mana. It's especially fun to run against control decks since most control players get really upset when something happens that they can't do anything about.

That's my list of things you should consider when making your next EDH. I'll have more at some point I'm sure.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Sanctuary Cat

Sanctuary Cat

An okay card in Limited.

Pros: 1/2 for 1
Cons: Vanilla
Rating: 2.5/5

In memory of Mr. Reddo (2012-2014).

Venomspout Brackus

Venomspout Brackus

Let's face it, this is Plummet on a stick. Plummet on a stick isn't terrible, I just wish it didn't cost as much as it does here. It's either 7 or 8 for a 5/5 with Plummet stuck on it. I don't even think it fits flavour-wise very much due to the fact that this doesn't have reach. I know it'd be a bit ridiculous to basically give this thing pseudo-double strike against fliers, but it kind of needs it in order to not be bad. The big argument I've heard for this card is that it kills Baneslayer Angel. So does Fiery FallBoulderfall, and a cycled Resounding Thunder. It's not much of an argument guys and gals.

Pros: Basically a Plummet on a stick
Cons: Can only hit things in combat, no other abilities
Rating: 2/5

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Nyx-Fleece Ram

Nyx-Fleece Ram

Let's talk about this card. Let's talk about how awesome it is and why it's awesome from the ground up. First off, it's a 0/5 for 2. Not super-amazing, but it'll block a great many things and live to tell the tale. Second, it gains you life. Normally, I tend to say that lifegain isn't all that great, but I'm talking about one-shot spells like Dryad's Caress and creatures with expensive abilities like Stonehorn Chanter. This, on the other hand, costs nothing to activate. Finally, it's a sheep. Not a normal sheep either; it's a space sheep. It's a space sheep that munches grass all day, gets in the way of Loxodon Smiters, and gives you some wool every turn. And, if you feel like it, you can glue an Armory of Iroas or give it the Gift of Orzhova and have it swing in for some damage too. This proves that wool can make great stuffing for a pillow fort.

Pros: Life-giving beefy sheep
Cons: Had no power
Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, 20 June 2014

Things People Need to STOP Running in EDH

Over the last couple years, as the popularity of EDH as a format has grown, I've seen many players and many decks. I've also seen a lot of things that people need to stop running in EDH for various reasons. Here is just a selection of those cards:

Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

The main issue I have with people running this card is one of transliteration. A lot of newcomers to the format think that if a card is great in Legacy, it'll be great in EDH. That is not the case here. Big Papa here will not see more than one activation, and it's either going to be an expensive Brainstorm, an expensive Boomerang, or a one-shot Precognition. You can't even cheat in the ultimate very easily since it requires quadruple the number of loyalty counters for it to work. All-in-all, a pretty lackluster card for EDH.

Force Spike
 Force Spike

Yes, I have seen several people run this card in EDH. Do I even need to go into why this is a bad idea? EDH is about high-cost things, meaning you'll probably have a lot of mana to burn after you cast your stuff. One whole mana once is not going to do much. Cards like Patron Wizard and Flusterstorm can be used because it's not actually one mana. This is just a waste of a slot.

Ambition's Cost
Ambition's Cost

Black simply has better draw options in EDH. I was considering putting Sign in Blood on here for that reason, but it's actually not as bad as this. This is 4-and-3-for-3 whereas Sign in Blood is 2-and-2-for-2. Plus, I won a game with Sign in Blood, so I can't call it a bad card for EDH.

Thoughtseize
Thoughtseize

Another issue of bad transliteration. Plus, in EDH, you'd rather have them exile cards since graveyards are such a ripe target (unless you're about to take what they discard). Still, it's not worth the 2 life investment to temporarily deal with a threat that your opponent probably has ways of recovering or redundancy to cover the loss.

Grim Tutor
Grim Tutor

I get it. You have money and you want to flaunt it. But there are better ways to do it. Foil your deck. Get guru lands. Get an autographed Brian Kibler playmat. Just don't run crap cards because they're expensive. You look like a rich twit when you do and no one outside of the 10-year-olds thinks you're cool.

Jackal Pup
Jackal Pup

Blasphemous Act is run frequently in EDH. Consider that next time you build a deck with this in it.

Mons's Goblin Raiders (and other vanilla things)
Mons's Goblin Raiders

EDH is probably the worst format to run vanilla things in. The life totals are doubled and the games are longer. Your bears aren't going to do much in the long run.

I think that about does it for the EDH lesson today folks. I'll have another one up... eventually.

Vodalian Mage

Vodalian Mage

Before I look at this card proper, I want you to find the tiny error in this card. I'll give you a minute.

*Jeopardy music*

Time's up! Find it? Well, maybe the other two arts for this card will help you out a bit:
Vodalian MageVodalian Mage

That's right! Susan van Camp must not have gotten the memo that it's a Merfolk. It's not my misreading of her style either, she's done Merfolk before. This leads me to believe that the grouper in the corner is, in fact, the mage and not the humanoid.

Onto the card itself, it's not bad. People run Force Spike to keep opponents off tempo, and a repeatable Force Spike is pretty cool. It's a relevant creature type and its ability isn't over-costed. The only issues I have with it are its cost and its power/toughness. I'd have much rather seen this as a 2/2 for 3 or a 1/1 for 2. Then again, this is from back in the era when blue creatures were terrible, so this deficiency is understandable. It's an alright card for what it does.

Pros: Force Spike on a stick
Cons: Weak stick
Rating: 3/5

Kessig Malcontents

Kessig Malcontents

This was a missed golden opportunity for a flavour text crossover with South Park. Something like "RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!" or "Those vampires thinks they can just take our jerbs?!" would have been amazing. Anyway, this card is actually pretty cool. If you're making a drop every turn, it's a free Flame Jet when it enters. In the late game, it's probably going to be more of a Lava Axe or better. Any card that deals damage upon entering is pretty cool, especially those that scale. My only real issue is that it has one toughness, but by the time it matters, it's already done its job. It's not great outside of a Human deck, but then again Wellwisher would suck in a Merfolk deck.

Pros: Damage upon arrival, scales
Cons: Only works in a Human deck, 1 toughness
Rating: 4/5

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Ravenous Rats

Ravenous Rats

This card's pretty good. Itss got a relevant creature type (it is), its got a good effect, and its cheap. It's no Duress, but then again, Duress can't bite your opponent. Sorry this one is so short, but it's just a cool rat. What more do you want out of me?

Pros: Forces discard
Cons: Allows choice in discard
Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Crenellated Wall

Crenellated Wall

It's pretty much a 0/8 for 4, which is pretty "meh". It can save other creatures too I guess, but I can see this being used on itself more often than not. Well, maybe not. I saves things from Lightning Bolts and the dreaded Karplusan Wolverine, so maybe it's not as bad as it first seems. Still, it's a 0/4 for 4 otherwise, which isn't that great.

Pros: Can save a creature from damage
Cons: 0/4 Wall for 4
Rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Wistful Selkie

Wistful Selkie

It's a Goblin Hero that draws you a card. The only really downside is that it costs only coloured mana symbols, although since they are split mana costs they might as well be colourless. Is it worth it? Yeah, I think it is. Is it the best cantrip creature? Well, Baleful Strix and Elvish Visionary exist, so no. It's not bad in a UG deck though.

Pros: Cantrips
Cons: All coloured mana symbols
Rating: 3.5/5

Father's Day Special: Splendid Genesis

Splendid Genesis

Thanks dad. I'm glad you cast this 23 years ago.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Artist: Franz Vohwinkel

I mentioned Franz Vohwinkel waaaaay back in my 1 year anniversary special and I figured I might as well do a retrospective on him today.

Best Art: Mountain
Mountain

Yeah, I went with a basic land. So what? It's my list! Mountains nowadays are usually drawn with odd formationsfire and flames, or harsh desolation but that's not what mountains are (I should know since I live in a mountainous area). This art has a peacefulness and tranquility that comes with those giant lumps of stone and dirt we call mountains. I know that betrays what red does, but it's what mountains are (at least to me).

Worst Art: Molten Influence
Molten Influence

I don't know what it is about this piece that has me so off-put. The work on the right side is beautiful, but the left side seems so... out of place? It kind of looks like there was a different concept that was almost completed, but then the decision was made at the last minute to say "screw it; it needs more lava". It really doesn't feel like both sides of the card are interacting with one another. It's like the wave of lava is blocking out what the mage is firing at. Just not my favourite art.

Most Thematically Appropriate Art: Insist
Insist

What is the art of? A bear breaking through a blue wall. What does the card do? Allows your bears to break through a wall of countermagic. It's very apropos and I love it. I wish more card art was like this.

Franz Vohwinkel is an artist that 99% of Magic players won't recognize if you say his name, but I can bet that everyone will recognize 99% of cards by his art alone (if they were playing during those sets at least). I highly recommend his website for examples of his breadth of work.

Miracle Worker

Miracle Worker

Umm... Anti-Arrest tech? I can't really think of a reason to main deck this card and even a sideboard slot would difficult to make a case for. However, I do have to give it credit since there aren't many cards that have repeatable enchantment destruction (including repeatable permanent destruction, I could only find 7 other cards). Still, this card can only target Auras on your own creatures, so it can't deal with Slippery Bogle decks. But, if you need a way to blow up Auras on your own creatures, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better way to do it. Except for Devout Harpist, which is strictly better in every way.

Pros: Repeatable Aura destruction
Cons: Only hits your own creatures
Replacement: Devout Harpist
Rating: 2.5/5

Friday, 13 June 2014

Falter

Falter

Might as well put up an actual review today instead of just a rant on reprints (and a plug for Fusion Gaming). This card is alright for what it does. It's like a mono-coloured Gruul Charm or a faster Seismic Stomp (actually, it is a faster Seismic Stomp). Drop this when you need to connect for the win and you're pretty solid. It can also work in multiplayer if Opponent A is swinging at Opponent B and you need Opponent B out of the way. For its cost, it's pretty good despite not doing anything else. Then again, does it really need to do anything else?

Pros: Removes ground-walking blockers
Cons: Does nothing else
Rating: 3.5/5

Special: Conspiracy: Is it a Conspiracy Against the Market?

So, as you may or may not be aware, Conspiracy has been out for about a week now. Since I was on vacation during its release with my friends, I got a lot of play-time in for the set. What do I think of it? Well, to put it simply:

Conspiracy is the greatest multiplayer product that WotC has created in all conceivable time

That being said, it does have some issues. First and foremost, it's going to damage the secondary market. I had some time to talk with the people over at Fusion Gaming when I was in Winnipeg and they made a very valid point: people's excitement for Conspiracy is screwing up card prices and they will tank faster than people expect. Cards like Exploration and Misdirection are seeing massive drops in price already (Exploration lost $5 over 3 days and Misdirection lost almost $8 over the same period). While that's great for players since they can buy the cards cheap, that's not so great for the sellers since they will have paid too much for cards bought early and won't be able to recoup their costs as a result of the fast price drop. They will then be forced to turn around and offer lower values for people looking to offload the results of their drafts or outright refuse to take any, which will make the people who money-draft unhappy.

The other thing it will probably do is raise the already-high prices of some other Legacy staples due to the reprinting of other staples. Cards like Exploration and Misdirection are important is certain decks (Lands and control respectively) and they used to be quite expensive. Now that they've been reprinted, people will want to get into Legacy because it's cheaper to get main cards. We saw a minor version of this when Modern Masters was printed last year, but there's a major difference: Modern Masters had a limited print run. Conspiracy will continue to be printed as long as there is a demand for it. This sort of ties into the first point I made about card prices since the supply will skyrocket but the demand won't jump as much (let's be honest, Force of WIll's price will still be a barrier for most people).

Despite all that though, I encourage everyone to go out and buy a box or participate in a Conspiracy draft. It's super fun and you'll walk away with some nice cards (and probably new enemies).

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Announcement: Vacation

Hey everyone!

I probably won't be posting for a week or so due to a planned vacation to magic ice land for a wedding or something like that. If I get bored out there, I'll post, but considering I'm fairly legendary out there, I think I'll be pretty busy.

Congregation at Dawn

Congregation at Dawn

"It is fitting that we meet in the first hour of light, for we are called by the Conclave to pierce a threat of darkness."
"Yeah Greg, your mohawk is catching on with the initiates. No one will take us seriously if all our members have them!"

Bad comedy aside, this card is pretty great. You have to have a really good effect to warrant a 3 CMC card with only colour requirements and this fits the bill quite nicely. At worst it's an expensive Worldly Tutor and at best it's three Worldly Tutors in one. This is always a great play to make just before you cast Genesis Wave or Ã†thermage's Touch to ensure a good result. The only issue is that your opponents know what you're drawing, which may put you at a disadvantage because they'll know what they need to counter and what you might be up to.

Pros: Stacks your deck
Cons: Gives your opponents information
Rating: 4/5

Monday, 2 June 2014

Fylamarid

Fylamarid

This is why we need to control biologists people! Well, this and their secret cuttlefish experimentations. Seriously though, this card is pretty awesome. It basically picks and chooses who can block it. Yeah, it doesn't have a huge body and the mana investment can get pretty expensive if your opponent has a large number of creatures, but there are other uses for it as well. For example, say you swing with a Loaming Shaman and your opponent blocks with a Faerie Macabre and gives it protection from green with his Mother of Runes. With this, one blue basically negates that protection by turning your Loaming Shaman blue. Despite the tiny body, this thing is pretty great.

Pros: Picks and chooses who can block, instant-speed colour change
Cons: Small body for cost
Rating: 3.5/5

Thermokarst

Thermokarst

It's a green Rain of Tears with an added effect and that's pretty great. I've always been proponent of land destruction, much to my friends' chagrin (I like to so much that I made an EDH deck around it). Land destruction really cripples an opponent and it's an effective tool to keep people behind in the race. Green has some less-than-stellar land destruction (most of it costs 4 or more) but at least it gets this alongside Winter's Grasp and Ice Storm (remember when green represented ice and winter?). The fact that it gains you a life if it's a snow-covered land is just a tiny dollop of whipped cream on top of the strawberry sundae. Not a huge dollop that makes you wonder why you bothered ordering something that's 90% whipped cream, but a small one that adds that nice touch without taking away from the sundae itself.

Pros: Green Rain of Tears, potential for lifegain
Cons: Double green
Rating: 4/5

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Total War

Total War

Ah, a card from back when Walls were the only creatures with Defender that still says "non-Wall". This is basically a stripped down War's Toll in essence. Yes, I know that forcing someone to attack with everything isn't exactly what this card says, but that's basically what's going to happen. It also has the downside of effecting you, but it's not that big of a deal if you're swinging every turn. I actually like this in my mono-red EDH as a grind card which allows me to set up for a win easily. It's a pretty decent card if you're looking for a way to control those pesky utility creatures too (since it forces their use before combat). In short, it's a decent red control card, especially with cards like Silent Arbiter and Crawlspace.

Pros: Controls when/where creatures attack
Cons: Effects you
Rating: 3/5