Tag: casual-brews

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Avatar Bruce Gray - April 20, 2016

Shadows over Innistrad Crack a Pack

Casual Encounters- Bruce Brews a Bad Deck

Ever-After-Shadows-over-Innistrad-Art

OK folks, I’m back and all excited for Shadows over Innistrad.  There is a just tons of sweet new additions in this set and new possibilities that are getting me all excited.  In the past I have started a new set with a number of Crack a Packs and approached them from a Limited perspective as if I was going to draft.  That is fun, but today I wanted to try something different.  I’m going to open up a pack and use as many of the cards in the pack to brew up something kind of fun and silly that might inspire you and get your brewers hat on and take a stab at brewing.  I won’t use every single card, and I will keep the deck Standard legal. It is invariably going to be a kind of a silly little deck that might have some play, but is more likely than not just going to falter.  However, I enjoy brewing decks like this and maybe something I do will inspire you to do the same.  Let’s see what I opened!

This is a pretty sweet pack.  Sage of Ancient Lore is a very strong draft card, but the card that got me really excited in this pack is Ever After.  The first time through Innistrad we got to see the power of Reanimator spells with things like Unburial Rites, and Ever After harkens back to some of that reanimator-type love.  So, what does a Reanimator-style deck want to do?  Why, it wants to mill itself, dump a ridiculous bomb (or several ) into the graveyard and then reanimate them at a considerable mana discount.  Now, Ever After is not a cheap Reanimator spell because it does cost 6 mana, but for that six mana you are getting TWO potential bombs, not just one.  So, let’s see what we can brew up with some of the cards in this deck.

The game plan is fairly simple.  You want to burn through your deck as quickly as you possibly can with things like Vessel of Nascency, Corpse Churn, and Crow of Dark Tidings as you dig for either your Inverter of Truths or the Bane of Bala Ged.  Now, Bane of Bala Ged is really a placeholder for just about any huge Eldrazi you want to cast and the bigger the better really.  If you can unearth an Ulamog, a Kozilek or any of the truly scary Eldrazi you are obviously going to target them with your Ever After or your Necromantic Summons, but Bane is a nice tidy budget option that can be run reasonably easily.  The real treat is the Inverter of Truth that is a very discounted 6/6 for 4 mana that I’ve been fooling around with since Oath of the Gatewatch dropped.  It could now be time for this ridiculous flying Eldrazi to shine now that we can mill our decks with surprising speed so we don’t deck ourselves.

    Some of the more interesting cards from Shadows Over Innistrad that are found in this pack are the Moldgraf Scavenger and the Pale Rider of Trostad.  The Scavenger is a surprisingly solid little creature that is an effective early blocker.  It blocks things with Skulk, survives Fiery Impulse and Fiery Temper, and when you hit Delirium can go on the offensive as an undercosted 3/4 .  Those are all very reasonable stats and make the Scavenger almost a reasonable addition to a Constructed deck that could play a similar, but different, role to Jaddi Offshoot.  Pale Rider of Trostad is a 3/3 for 2 mana which is a fine set of stats, but also gives the deck a way to discard something big if you don’t want to cast it yet.  I toyed with the idea of dropping something like an Angel of Deliverance  in this list to be discarded, but that felt very risky if I couldn’t actually cast the Angel. In the end I figured sticking to Eldrazi that could actually be cast seemed less risky.  

Sage of Ancient Lore is another really interesting card in this deck because it is an expensive rare card at 5 mana that has a ton of potential.  The fact that it says “draw a card” is the first dead give away that this is very powerful.  I have run much worse creatures that include that line of text and would happily do so again.  The real deal is when it transforms into a huge monster that can wreck the game.  This makes for another solid reanimation target, but is a little more volatile and riskier because it could flip back to being a human on any turn.  That said, it is a very strong card and would be another good target for reanimation.

The other cards in this list are just creatures that might allow me to hurry up and rush out some of my spells by ramping me, but also provide some measure of value if I need another valid target in my graveyard to make Ever After work.  Just about any value creature would work, but I opted for 3 Brood Monitors because 6/6 worth of stats across 4 bodies is very strong, but I could totally envision not playing this in favor of another value creature.  This slot is very much up for discussion and I would welcome some ideas if you had something  I could have run Gloomwidow as a form of aerial defense, and that might be a better option to give me enough time to hit enough land drops and be able to play an Ever After.

I weighed playing Vessel of Malignity and decided against it because exiling the cards from my opponent is not really what I wanted to do.  If I could have used it to target myself and discard something then I would have been more interested.  It would have been another discard outlet to allow me to pitch some other big scary creature, but alas, it exiles and can only be used on my opponents.  I can see Vessel of Malignity having a place in some decks because I feel like the hand destruction in this Standard format is very strong, but this is not that deck.

The rest of the pack is not on colour or theme for what I want to do with this sort of deck, but there is a little interest in some of those white creatures, notably the Apothecary Geist, and the Ghostly Wings because I think those might see a little fringe play if the right conditions are met.  

That’s all for tonight folks.  I hope you all enjoyed the different approach to a Crack a Pack. If you didn’t enjoy the weird deck and would rather I just crack a pack and focus on limited please let me know. Personally,  I enjoyed brewing something kind of fun and off the wall.  I know I might be stretching the self mill angle in the format with some of my selections, but if you are truly intent on milling yourself you do have some options.  Would you have used Ever After or would you have left it alone and opted to do something completely different? Share your brewing ideas down below in the comments or find me on Twitter.

Thanks very much and as always be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.

 

Bruce Gray
@bgray8791 on Twitter

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Roy Anderson Roy Anderson - October 13, 2015

Returning to Your Roots

Cityscape

Returning to Your Roots

By: Roy Anderson

Long time no see looters! I am finally back with another article after a long break from both writing and Magic. Needless to say, I have missed a few things while on my hiatus. Probably the biggest thing was the Battle for Zendikar pre-release. I wasn’t happy about it but I do have the opportunity to play it now which is great! The original Zendikar has a lot of fond memories for me and even one not so fond one. (Why did I have to pass that full art land!?!) It was right around the time when I was getting back into magic and thus acted as a stepping stone to where I am now. That got me thinking back even farther, all the way to my roots.

Picture a younger me in the 90s, fads coming out left and right. Pokémon, Yugioh, Bayblade; I fell for them all. One fad that snuck its way into my young life however, and it was a little card game called Magic: the Gathering (you may have heard of it). My first Magic cards I actually got by trading away a bag of chips. Coincidently, I got into a lot of the games I played when I was a kid by trading food. That being said, some of the fads lasted about as long as a bag of chips did. That being said I unfortunately, at least according to my current self, didn’t play Magic as long as I wanted to. Recently, while going through buried treasure hidden in the closet, I found my old cards but sadly the most valuable one remaining was a Skullclamp (thanks a lot younger me…). I did, however, get a rush of memories recollecting my first deck and comparing the mage that I used to be to the mage I am now.

I don’t know why, but white has always been my color. Even way back in the day I started training as a little young white mage (to a laymen this could sound really racist…). I first picked up the game around the original Mirrodin and ended up leaving about Kamigawa. I only know this because of that first deck of mine. There was a Friday Nights episode (a funny sketch show put on by Loading Ready Run) recently where all of the cast members instantly remembered their first deck and how they were the best decks ever. After finding and looking at their decks, they realized that their decks were bad. But who cares! What makes your first Magic deck great was the memories and the whimsy associated with slinging those old spells and beating your friends. It also helped that none of your friends were Pro Tour competitors so all the decks were fun and comparably awful to the now “adult you” standards of a good deck. So what cards were in my childhood best deck ever?

Well, I don’t actually have the same 60 card mono white deck that I still had when I was a kid, but who could forget the mono white working together deck! Back in the day, I loved the idea of using all of my little creatures to buff up and become huge forces to be reckoned with. The idea was simple. I would flood the battlefield with creatures that could all help each other get bigger and attack in for lots of damage. I added equipment and enchantments in order to further buff my armies of wimpy creatures. Using Angelic Page and Auriok Bladewarden, I would buff up my attacking creature to be stronger than any of the blockers they had. I believe my favorite creature to pump was Kabuto Moth because it had flying and it could also be used to pump some of my other creatures. Starting to see the theme? Just a bunch of little white creatures that, collectively, could power through my friends creatures. The rest of my creature base was other samurai and little white creatures that I liked. I believe I also had a Soul Warden in there because what little planeswalker doesn’t love life gain? My non-creature suite was pretty small because why would I put non-creatures in a creature deck? The two cards that I 100 percent remember having were a Vulshok Morning Star and Shelter. The first card, Vulshok Morning Star was for buffing up my creatures to pack a bigger punch and it also worked pretty well with Auriok Bladewarden. The second one, Shelter, was just a way to protect my creatures from any meddling spells and their stupid dogs. It would also be nothing that apparently, even my kid self knew the value of a cantrip. All of these cards came together to form the best deck on the playground! Granted, I may be a little biased…

So with all the fads passing, my return to magic, and a few years gone by: here we are. Decks have often come and gone in my collection. I have constructed and deconstructed countless EDH, Modern, Casual, Standard, and even Pauper decks throughout the years. Despite this fact, there is always one deck (well build I might add) that has still been sitting in the same Odyssey deck box that it was first thrown into. That’s right, you guessed it, my mono white deck. Granted, it has seen some changes and finally got some sleeves but I can never get myself to take it apart despite it being far from competitive. In its current form it is the deck I used to play with some of my more casual friends so it does serve a niche among my collection of decks. It is also much less about creatures buffing creatures now. It has become much more of a mono white equipment deck. And because who doesn’t like a deck list, here it is:

Casual Mono White Equipment

Well, there you have it! As you can see it is a bit different than the original deck I described above, however, it keeps to the same themes. It is still about pumping one creature up to be a big huge beater. The deck still has a few of the older cards like Shelter and a bunch of equipment. The theme of creatures working together is even still there except now it takes on more the form of Kor tribal. Some of the cards are in here just because I wanted to play with them, but they were never quite competitive. Path of Bravery and Gift of Immortality are the best examples of cards that were put in for that reason. This list here is not representative of all the changes I have made over the years as some have come and gone just like I am sure some of these cards will eventually be replaced. All I can say for certain is that this deck will never ever be taken apart.

I hope you all enjoyed walking down memory lane with me and I predict it will make you think about your Magic: the Gathering roots as well. If you take anything away from this article, it is that you should try to hold on to those memories as long as possible. Remember when you used to cast Suntail Hawk and fly over all those other big creatures your opponent had? Wow! Remember that really cool dragon you used to draw and it would allow you to take over the board and win the game? Awesome! Remember banding? Eeeeehhhh…..well you get the point. Magic is all about having fun. I still have a lot of fun playing and competing but the whimsy and wow factor can sometimes disappear. Try to hang on to that because it can improve your view of the game and even help you moving forward as you improve and play more. That being said, next time a sweet play is done, even if you are on the receiving end, try to look at it like that starry-eyed little kid who is going to be talking about it on the playground tomorrow.

Please feel free to comment on this article if you have any fun old magic stories or even just want to let me know what your first deck was. It will almost always be something fun and interesting. Also, let me know if you enjoyed this type of article as it was a bit different from any Magic article I have written thus far. Thanks for reading Looters and may your spells bring you victories. Until next time!

 

By Roy Anderson

@Sockymans on Twitter

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Avatar Bruce Gray - March 10, 2015

Casual Encounters – G/B “I like Big Butts”

Nessian Asp - Casual standard deck

G/B “ I like Big Butts”

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Sir Mix-a-Lot would be proud of me.  Perhaps not in the same way as his famous song, but I too admire a good back side.  The bigger the better.  Of course, when I’m talking about playing Magic I’m referring to the toughness of creature which is sometimes referred to as the creature’s “butt”.  C’mon! What did you think I was talking about?  Get your mind out of the gutter! Sheesh. Today I’ve got something a little off the wall that some of you might enjoy the next time you sit around the Kitchen table to battle it out.  Let’s see what I’ve got on tap for you guys.

A couple of weeks ago I was playing a Theros Block sealed event on MTGO and opened up a busted pool.  Elspeth, Ajani, Pain Seer, good removal in Black, solid creatures in Green…including a Scourge of Skola Vale.  I ended up playing Abzan (also known as Junk) mostly for Elspeth and Ajani, however my deck was predominantly B/G.  Yes, Elspeth and Ajani were amazing and they were the number one reason I won a number of my games.  However, The Scourge of Skola Vale was my big hitter.  The worst part was, when I put him in the deck I just imagined that he might be useful, but little did I know that he would be awesome.

The Scourge of Skola Vale is a rather janky rare from Born of the Gods that is 3 mana for a 0/0 Hydra that enters play with two +1/+1 counters on it and trample. Those stats are hardly overwhelming. However, tap Scourge of Skola Vale, sacrifice a creature, and at instant speed it can gain +x/+x counters where X is equal to the toughness of the creature that is sacrificed.  That still hardly seems game breaking, but let me assure you, the ability can be very potent.  The question is all a matter of timing.  You declare a creature as being a blocker.  That ensures that there actually is a block and you don’t get hit.  Then, before damage is assigned, sacrifice your creature (particularly if it was going to die anyway) to the Scourge and boost the Scourge. In short order your Scourge of Skola vale is an unhealthy sized creature with Trample that no longer behaves like a 3 drop but more like a 6 or 7 drop.

The question remains, How do you maximize the number of counters you put on the Scourge of Skola Vale? Clearly you want to play things with high toughness , block with them, and sacrifice them to your Scourge. It seems simple, but the problem with most high toughness creatures is that they attack very poorly or not at all.  What is a guy to do? Let’s see what I did.

 

G/B “I like big butts” – Casual standard deck

 

The creature package is pretty straight forward.  Elvish Mystic is going to be a big key to the game plan because it helps ramp you to some of the more expensive pieces in your deck.  You really want to play one of these guys on Turn 1 to get you out of the gate quickly.  On Turn 2 you really want to be playing an Archers’ Parapet to hold off any immediate threats and early drops that your opponent can get down and bash away with.  Also, with 5 toughness, the Parapet is an ideal target to sacrifice to the Scourge.  The curve is a little wonky because you don’t really want to play a Scourge on Turn 3 so you end up skipping and waiting to play a 5 drop.  Nessian Asp  or Pheres-Band Centaur are both really solid 5 drops.  With either of these guys on board you can follow up with Scourge and still hold up mana for a Ranger’s Guile.  It is pretty key to hold up the Ranger’s Guile the moment  your opponent sees you tap out your  Scourge is going to eat a removal spell.  Ranger’s Guile pretty much laughs at targeted removal spells and ensures your Scourge survives.   Sac just about ANY creature to your Scourge, protect it with a Ranger’s Guile and then rumble in for a huge pile of damage.  Sound like fun?  I thought so.

The other route this deck can take is a little different.  You have a whole bunch of creatures that have been sacrificed and are in your graveyard thanks to your own Scourge and you are running out of ways to get through for damage.  What can you do?  Well, hello my old friend Nighthowler.  Bestow this on just about anything with a whole bunch of creatures in the graveyard and you instantly have a menace requiring an immediate fix.  The synergy between the Scourge and Nighthowler is unmistakable because as you power up the Scourge you are powering up future Nighthowlers.  I love a good plan B!

The spells all exploit creatures with high toughness.  Grim Contest  is a neat take on the fight mechanic that will ensure that just about anything you fight will die thanks to the extremely high toughness stats on many of your creatures.  Kin-Tree Invocation gives you yet another potent attacker so long as you have something sizable kicking around on the boardFruit of the First Tree pairs really nicely in this sort of deck because if it is on a creature, sacrifice that creature (to Scourge no less) and then reap the benefits of gaining a whole pile of life, but more importantly, drawing a whole pile of cards. Green card draw is a little tricky to find and play, but the reward for using it like this is extremely high and could really dig you out of a jam.

There’s the deck.  It isn’t very fancy, but it does take a bit of peculiar take on getting to your opponent.  The best part is that the whole deck is really quite affordable.  The rares are all $0.50 bulk rares, the other spells are also equally cheap and the mana base is ALL basics. Could it really get any cheaper ?  Not really.  There are lots of ways to upgrade the deck ranging from Scry lands and Life Gain lands in the mana base to Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid in the creature package thanks to their versatility and high toughness.  Also, some other potent creatures like Rotting Mastodon and Swarm of Bloodflies work well in this deck and could be added in as need be. There are also a number of other options available to you too that can help maintain this deck and help you to keep the cost down while still having a loads of fun.

This looks like something fun to take for a spin around a kitchen table.  Will it have legs at a competitive event?  No way.  The curve is way off, the removal is suspect and is generally too slow.  However, around the kitchen table with your pals this will get a giggle or two…until your Scourge of Skola Vale stomps a mud hole through one of your pals and then they will sit up and take notice.  It’s cheap, is capable of some silly shenanigans and is totally unassuming from the outset.  Time to play rope a dope and be crowned Kitchen Table Champ!

Thanks for taking the time to stop in here at Casual Encounters and Three Kings Loot.  I hope you guys enjoy the deck and have a chance to go on out and give it a try.  Until the next time, have yourselves a great MTG day and remember keep it fun, keep it safe…and keep it casual!

 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

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Avatar Bruce Gray - February 6, 2015

Goblin Contemplation – Casual MTG

Goblinslide - Casual MTG Standard

Goblin Contemplation 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

There are some people that only want to brew up top tier decks and if it isn’t first rate, then they don’t want to try and do anything else. However, I look at making up a new deck a bit as a creative experience.  There are lots of people who paint or write or act but will never reach those upper echelons of the craft…but that doesn’t invalidate their creative efforts or lessen the pleasure they get from pouring their energy into their activity of choice. My creative activity of choice is making a new deck that is ostensibly only played around the kitchen table with my friends…and that is just fine. I will never join the ranks of the Pro Tour with any of my decks, but I will always enjoy the process of building a new fun deck to play with my friends. So, today I’m going to share my take on a fun Casual deck that I will be playing at our next Kitchen Table card night.

I’ve seen a number of pros talk about the power that can be harnessed with Goblinslide and Quiet Contemplation. These are very similar enchantments that reward you for casting non-creature spells and you can trigger them to have an additional effect.  The effect is different, but both of them are 100% repeatable and impact the board enough that you could gain a pretty significant advantage. Both enchantments have been suitably potent that they have been used in a viable draft deck in the right circumstances.

 

With that in mind I set about building a deck that could exploit these two intriguing (and deceptively powerful) cards.  But what sort of deck do you build around these cards?  The obvious starting point would be a pile of Burn spells to eliminate threats and allow you to get the engine of the deck started.  Burn out their creatures, tap the remaining ones, and make Goblins…seems simple enough.  However, those Burn spells need to be quite efficient because you need additional mana available to trigger the Goblinslide or the Quiet Contemplation, so efficiently costed spells are key. However, the issue of card draw starts to emerge because unless you can burn out your opposition you are likely to run out of gas pretty quickly.  So, there are a few interesting options that can be used to help with some additional card draw and preventing you from running on fumes. Let’s see what we’ve got:

 

Goblin Contemplation – UR – Casual MTG Standard

 

Ok, well the creature package is pretty small, but the Windscouts, the Jeskai Elder, and the Riverwheel Aerialists all come with Prowess…meaning that they can often tussle with bigger creatures without much trouble.  The Scaldkin are there as fairly useful fliers that can “Shock” something.  It is hardly an earth shattering creature package but you do want a few critters to keep your opponent honest.

The Enchantments make this deck go because if you can start to trigger them regularly you can make extra Goblin tokens or tap down your opponent. That is basically the whole premise of the deck anyway, so ideally I want to see one (or both) of these in my opening hand anyway.

The instants and sorceries are the fun part because they are burn, card draw, or just plain old Trumpet Blast to help your little Goblins punch through for a pile of damage. The newest treat for this deck is Collateral Damage which suits this deck perfectly.  Can you imagine casting Lightning Strikedealing three damage to your opponent, triggering Goblinslide for a mana, and then casting Collateral Damage for an additional three damage, sacrificing the Goblin token you just made…and then activate Goblinslide a second time and STILL having a Goblin Token on the table?  That feels very achievable…and 6 points of direct damage is nothing to sniff at.  Sure, it feels a little clunky but it just might get the job done around the Kitchen Table.

The deck hardly looks over powering, but for a deck packing no rare cards it feels like it could do some pretty powerful and hilarious stuff.  Who doesn’t want to flood the board with a load of Goblins and over run your opponent?  Seems like it might be legit little deck.  It also meets most of my key components…it is a) inexpensive to build b) uses spare parts that I have in some my boxes and c) looks like it could be a load of fun. Sounds like a win to me!

Well, that’s all for today…thanks very much for taking the time to read!

Until next folks…have a great MTG day.

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

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Avatar Bruce Gray - January 14, 2015

Fate Reforged Reviews: Top 10 cards for Casual Magic

Archfiend of Depravity - Fate Reforged

Fate Reforged Previews: Top 10 cards for Casual Magic

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

                Fate Reforged is right around the corner and the anticipation in the Magic Community is mounting.  So many SWEET treats! But with any new set it is also spoiler and preview time as everyone offer their own opinion on cards.  However, anyone can offer an opinion…but what can we at Three Kings Loot do to make out previews a little bit different?

We decided that this time round that previews would be done a little bit differently.  If you want a full, comprehensive review of each and every card, you are welcome to check out the host of sites that do that sort of thing.  No, here at Three Kings Loot we decided that focusing on the cards that will be impactful at various formats and what they offer the Magic Community would be a different take on the whole “Preview” idea and might spice things up.  On my end, I will look at cards that will impact Casual Magic players.  Specifically, I will look at some of the cards that have got me excited and some of the ways I intend on using  them to help diversify my Casual play experiences with my pals when we next meet around the Kitchen table.

I would like to make one major distinction because when most people hear “Casual” they immediately think of EDH.  However, there is far more to Casual play than just Commander and so I will touch on a variety of cards and some of them may be awful for Commander.  However, what keeps many of these cards all in step is that many are unlikely to see play in Constructed environments in most situations.  Let’s take a look at my top 10 cards for Casual Magic.

 

Honourable Mention

Archfiend of Depravity – Who doesn’t like a 5/4 flier for 5 mana?  Add on that extra ability and this guy is hilarious.  Granted, only the guy who is a “griefer” in your play group is going to dig this, but it is still pretty amazing.  This guy shuts out token strategies, destroys Manifest decks, or really just about any deck that is looking to go wide…and then shuts them down again by making you crash into a 5/4 flier if you get brave enough to attack.  The best part is that is asymmetrical, meaning you can throw down as many creatures as you like!  It wrecks Hexproof because it doesn’t target…really, there is very little this can’t do.  Sure, it might not get everything, but this guy can single handedly make a mess of the board state and put you in the driver’s seat.

 

Top 10 Casual cards from Fate Reforged

10- Fascination – This just looks like a ridiculous spell.  Normally I don’t like symmetrical spells like this, but the option to Draw or Mill both players is incredible…and double blue and X is potent. At 5 mana it’s Jace’s Ingenuity.  At 6 it’s Opportunity. At any more than that you are grabbing a huge pile of your deck and just going to town.  Now, my IMMEDIATE thought was pair this with Notion Thief…which would be a hilarious interaction.  Consecrated Sphinx sounds fun too.  How about this plus…oh I don’t know…Reverberate/Fork/Howl of the Horde?  Oh my…the hilarious nature of those spells.  Also, there are a number of fringe decks that could run this because they don’t care what their opponent does.  Turbo Fog has little to no interest in what their opponent does…so symmetrical card draw is fine because they only want to dig up Fog effects.  Lastly, this could totally power out some busted Delve type spells by Milling everyone.  All in all, this is just fun and the sort of card I would be looking to brew Casual non-sense with.

 

 

9- Mob Rule – Hello! This is just Harness by Force on Crack…or Threaten on steroids…or something ridiculous to do with 6 mana.  Take all your opponent’s stuff, untap it, and smash them with it?  Wowzers. That’s filthy.  I’m on board the train to silly town with this guy.  And at Casual, 6 mana isn’t an unreasonable casting cost…and the effect is kind of bonkers.  I’m in.  Just ridiculous.  But wait! There’s MORE! “What is even better than just taking their stuff?” you ask. Well let me tell you.  Let’s imagine you CAN’T kill them by stealing all their stuff…why not start sacrificing their stuff to some sac outlet for hilarity’s sake?  Altar’s Reap is an easy place to start…but why not keep going and go to Bloodflow Connoisseur , Cartel Aristocrat, Corpse Traders, Culling Dais, Dark Triumph…and you’re getting the idea.  I’m not sure that there is something that makes me happier than sacrificing my opponents stuff for a laugh and a giggle.  Time to find Free sac outlets!

 

8- Ghastly Conscription –  Oh c’mon…as if you didn’t think of this with Fascination?  Mill their Graveyard and the next turn turn them ALL into Manifested 2/2 creatures?  That seems like fun.  Heck, any Mill strategy with this will be hilarious and ensure that you will bury them under a pile of their own cards.  I’m quietly giggling waiting to pick up a couple of these and surprise my pals.  I might get Booed out of the room…but that’s ok for the look of sheer disgust on their faces. I love it.  7 mana ridiculousness never looked so good.

 

7- Manifest – Yup, that’s right…I like this new Mechanic so much that it is effectively on here twice. Ghastly Conscription is just the tip of the iceberg!  I’m lumping this whole mechanic in as being sweet for Casual play because there are a number of fringe ideas that this can play right into.  The card that highlights this ability most to me is Ethereal Ambush that dumps a pair of 2/2 Manifested critters on the board for you and give you and immediate board presence.  I’ve already expounded pretty well on where I think this idea can go, but to sum it up, anytime you can guarantee to turn random cards into 2/2 creatures it is not a bad thing.  Pack your deck full of creatures and very few spells and you can make your Casual deck tons of fun to play with and still flip them over by paying their casting cost.  Add in the interaction with Secret Plans and Trail of Mystery and you have some very powerful engines to power through a deck.  Oh, and you know all those Moprh triggers? There could be some really interesting interactions as you need only pay their mana cost to flip the card over…meaning Master of Pearls now flips for 2. 2 Mana! Wow.  Yeah…this could get silly and I’m going to be diving right in trying to break it huge.

 

6- Ojutai, Soul of Winter – Ok, so all the other Legendary dragons in this set could at least see some sort of Constructed play…or at least I could conceive of a deck that would want them…whether they see play is another matter all together.  However, Ojutai just will not get the job done.  The ability isn’t powerful enough by itself and Ojutai needs some dragon buddies to really go off.  That said, he will still be a sweet addition to a number of decks in the Casual realm.  First off, Dragon Tribal EDH will LOVE this guy.  That’s an obvious starting point.  However, a W/U deck premised on Freezing your opponent or Detaining their whole team is indeed a thing and Ojutai is right there playing along.  How about Jeskai Dragons featuring Brood Keeper and Crucible of Fire?  That has some promise.  Or, just as a really big dude in any deck dabbling around with W/U really…Ojutai is still a big beat stick with a Crippling Chill attached to him for good measure.  He may not see Constructed too readily, but I’ll still be pumped to open up this guy and run him in other things.

 

5-Temporal Trespass – Ok, so the debate is already raging if this is good for Constructed or not.  My sense is that it is, but who the heck am I? There is absolutely no doubt that this is good enough for Casual because it says TAKE AN EXTRA TURN!  You know what I can do with an extra turn? Absolutely ANYTHING.  I love it and I will make in happen …regularly.  Stay tuned because there will be deck lists featuring this little beauty.

 

4- Siege Cycle – These will be terrific in Limited, but they will all be amazing in Casual games, in large part because of the wording.  Each of these cards have a mode that impacts each player sitting at the table, meaning that you can impact each opponent at a multiplayer game.  That’s big in EDH and 60 card multi-player variants because it gives you good bang for your buck.  While they aren’t degenerate cards, except for maybe Frontier Siege which ramps at EVERY MAIN PHASE, they will all be useful and are likely to be solid additions to most decks.

 

3- Warden of the First Tree – There is no doubt that this will be outstanding in the Casual arena.  I have my doubts if this is good enough for Constructed, but in Casual I can assure I will ramp to the ultimate and make the 8/8 trampling, lifelinking sprit token.  Yeah…this seems like fun and the Hybrid mana cost means he could fit in sooooo many Casual brews that it is ridiculous.  There will be a warm spot for him in my Evolve deck powered with Gyre Sage and ramp this guy out.  Really, any mono-green ramp strategy will be a solid fit and will make this guy into an instant all star.  Look for this guy causing havoc at Kitchen tables for years to come.

 

2- Shamanic Revelation – Ok, this is an upgrade on Collective Unconsciousness, and it will be ridiculous in Casual Games.  Any strategy going wide playing Green will gobble this card up, run it, and gain about a bajillion life and draw ALL the cards.  Think about it. I can name at least 2 of my own decks that will love this and there is room for plenty more.  Mass card draw in Green is never easy to find and the fact that this one takes some set up is not ideal, but the potential upside is huge.  I can hardly wait to fire this one off.

 

1- Temur War Shaman: Ok, if this were a 4/5 for 6 mana it would be ok.  However, this packs an additional Manifested creature when it enters the battlefield meaning that you get  6/7 for power and toughness…across two bodies…for 6 mana. That is some pretty good stats that you shouldn’t overlook when you are playing this card.   This is also absurdly easy to abuse…bounce it to your hand with Sage Eye Avengers, Roaring Primadox, Quickling or Deputy of Acquittals…but even better is all the flicker non-sense from Avacyn Restored. Cloudshift, Ghostly Flicker, Conjurer’s Closet, Deadeye Navigator…and you are off to the races Manifesting everything.  I really like this guy and feel like it has some Casual applications in addition to the ridiculous pile of Manifest cards that can just make the battlefield one huge mess.  I’m a fan!

Well, there we go.  Of course, you might have some other casual favorites in mind, and that’s 100% fine.  The nice thing with Fated Reforge is that it seems to offer quite a number of really interesting cards for Constructed and Casual applications making it look fun and feel pretty neat.  Also, I feel like the Manifest ability is going to make this set very complicated and challenging…which is a good thing because it will force us all to deviate from playing boring linear decks, but instead splashing it around and seeing what other sorts of shenanigans we can concoct as we move forward.    I’m a big fan, in case you haven’t seen. However, the Khans of each of the clans, Ugin, and some of the other spells and creatures are all insane, but I wanted to take some time and highlight some of the things that have got me excited.

Thanks for taking the time to read.  Until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it Casual.

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

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Avatar Bruce Gray - January 9, 2015

A look at Fate Reforged Spoilers and New MTG Brews

Morph Token

A look at Fate Reforged Spoilers and New MTG Brews

By  Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

 Well…HAPPY NEW YEARS magic players! Fate Reforged spoilers have started and dear LORD am I excited.  We have only started to see the sweet new treats coming our way, but they look awesome already!  I mean…Ugin?! Sure, he’s pricey…but he’s mighty sweet.  Old Nicol Bolas may have bitten off more than he could chew here.  And Soulfire Grand Master looks RIDICULOUS! Jeskai Burn/Wins decks just got an all-star to hit Clean-up…and dear lord does he pack a punch! I mean, lifelink on all your burn spells? That’s insane.  Oh…and if you find yourself with a bunch of extra mana why not cast your spell and have it return to your hand? No biggie.  That’s totally fair…and not the least bit suspect when you can also trigger Jeskai Ascendancy.  No, that’s not broken at all.  However, I digress…here at Three Kings Loot we are working on our previews as well, but what got me started today was one little word.

MANIFEST.

Yup.  That one word BLEW my mind because it meant that Morph was going to continue to be a thing in this second set.  We saw some sweet Morph creatures in Khans of Tarkir and some really amazing enablers to push them.  However, I was really worried that the Morphs were going to disappear in the follow up sets meaning that they really only had a place in Limited and a few super Casual brews.  However, with the support of the Manifest mechanic in Fate Reforged there is  the very real possibility to push Morph decks from the realm of Limited to Fringe Constructed play.  Here is where my mind is going.

We saw very early in the Khans Limited format that Secret Plans was a very powerful engine in the 5 colour Morph deck…or really any Morph deck.  It allowed your Morphs to outclass those of your opposition, could chain you into more cards (replacing the need for more narrow card draw spells in the later stages of the game) and generally allowing you to out card advantage your opponent as you closed in for the kill.  I also had an up-close look at Trail of Mystery and have decided that it is the real deal too.  It may not pump your Morphs right now, but it does filter your deck, ramp your land, and then lead to blow out central when you start un-Morphing your creatures later on.  These two powerful engines can really make Morph decks go.  So, the logic being that if they are good in Limited, there is an outside chance, with some additional support, that they could start to be reasonable to see some fringe constructed play at FNM or some low pressure constructed events.

What are the new treats you ask?  Well, the two that REALLY got my attention were Ethereal Ambush and Whisperwood Elemental.  These two cards come with the Manifest mechanic and can totally enable further some gross things.  They just enable you to chain more Morphs together into more cards and lands…and then full on going off.  It does rely on synergy to get ahead and can be easily disrupted, but you should be able to pull it together once in a while and with devastating effect.

Now, I was debating what colours to use when building the deck, but the obvious starting point is U/G/X…and the X is totally up for debate.  Yes, yes, I could go 5 colour, but that is just full on greedy and if the intent is to create something that is at least feasible in a competitive arena then 5 colour is NOT the way to go.  So, we’re back to 3 colour build.  Let’s see what we can do here.

My first reaction is to slide in Red for the Temur Morph deck, and looking at the other cards that have been spoiled, this feels pretty normal.  Now, the nice thing with a Morph deck is that your actual curve is quite flat…because everything you play is really a Morph and you don’t much care about the actual casting cost.  You DO care about the Morph cost, but hey…at least you should have things on board early on.

 

Temur Morph test deck

 

 

With the inclusion of Ethereal Ambush and the Whisperwood Elementals you aren’t rewarded for spells with the Manifest ability because lands and non-permanent spells simply become a 2/2 until they die.  That is not overly useful in lots of regards.  So, packing a deck full of spells is a bit foolish.  So, as you may be able to see, most of the things in this deck are the two engines (Trail of Mystery and Secret Plans) or are creatures with a Morph ability anyway.  The real trick is finding creatures that can Morph relatively inexpensively but yet are still useful.  Sagu Mauler and Ashcloud Phoenix are obvious auto-includes  and a couple of Thousand Winds could prove very effective at washing away your opponent. The other Morphs are all cheap to un-Morph and all of them have a solid ability.  The Flock is just a big old flying wall to ensure you don’t get shredded from above.  The Mystic of the Hidden Way ensures inevitability because it just can’t be blocked.  The Icefeather Aven is a fun bounce effect. And the Rattleclaw Mystic is unadulterated ramp.    The other spells are all useful, but if you lose one or two to being Manifested (Is that going to be the Term? I guess we should figure that out) by the Whisperwood Elemental or a stray Ethereal Ambush, but hey, that’s ok.

Your ideal opening hand has you playing Trail of Mystery on Turn 2, a Morph on Turn 3 to fetch a basic land, another Morph on Turn 4 to hit your 5th land drop…and you are off to the races.  By the 5th Land drop you could cast Ethereal Ambush on your opponent’s End Step, Manifest 2 face down creatures, search up 2 more lands and well and truly be set cast your whole deck.  Sneak in a Secret Plans as you go and you have a card engine to match your land filter engine…and all the mana you need to pay those Morph costs.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me and could lead to all sorts of ridiculous things.

Now, I have been toying around with some of the other colours as well.  For a while everything I touched turned Bant…so U/G/W…and this could very well lead me to doing exactly the same.  Here’s the build I’ve been toying with.

Bant Morph test deck

 

The deck functions very similarly to the Temur version but is somewhat less obviously powerful with no Phoenixes or direct burn.  Instead you have Watcher of the Roost and Master of Pearls as the replacements and a couple of Feat of Resistance to make combat truly miserable.  The trick here is that when you Morph your Watcher of the Roost for Free (Provided you still have a white card in your hand)  the Trail of Mystery triggers making it now a 4/3 flier.  Pump it again with a Master of Pearls as it Morphs  and it is now a 6/5 until end of turn and likely making combat truly awful.  Now, this is absolutely living in a fantasy land where I can do as I please and have all the pieces to the combo set up, but I can clearly see that this deck has more “moving parts” in order to generate the sort of explosive damage I want and can be derailed more easily.  I feel like the Temur build is the better option, but I still like the idea of blowing out an opponent with Master of Pearls and a couple of Watcher of the Roost.

The options in Black if I wanted this to be a Sultai deck are less appealing with only the Ruthless Ripper and Grim Haruspex as desirable targets to Morph, but it does offer a lot of really interesting spells that I would love to have access to.  Villainous Wealth and Murderous Cut being the first two most obvious choices, but there are others including Dead DropArchfiend of Depravity is also highly entertaining but none of these cards play into the Morph deck idea.  Heck, the Villainous Wealth deck is already a thing on the fringe of Constructed standard.  No, unless there are some higher quality black Morph cards coming in Fate Reforged the Sultai version would just be Sultai good stuff and not so much a Morph deck looking to abuse Trail of Mystery and Secret Plans.  So, I think I’ll pass.

Well, there we have few new ideas to go about what Fate Reforged has to offer.  And I just scratched the surface because I can see loads of other great pieces that will make many of the best decks even better, and will allow for some newer decks to start taking shape.  Needless to say, we will be in for a treat in a few weeks when we all get to crack Fate Reforged and see what it has to offer up close and personal at the Pre-releases.    I can hardly wait.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read my ramblings.  As always, keep it fun, keep it safe…and keep it casual.

 

Regards,

 

By  Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

 

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Avatar Bruce Gray - November 18, 2014

New Casual MTG Brews for you

Flying Crane Technique - Casual MTG brews

New Casual MTG Brews for you

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Folks, I have to admit, it has been a long time since I sat down and set about to brewing up some new decks.  With the excitement that Khans has provided I have been engrossed watching the new top tier Standard decks take shape and getting primed for the draft format.  This means I have not spent nearly enough time brewing my own wonky concoctions for fun…but that has finally changed.  I sat down and put together some new decks that I want to share with you for your next casual game.  Will these EVER win you anything at a Constructed event? Not a chance.  But around a kitchen table they are loads of fun and well worth the time to put them together.

The impetus this time was that my friends and I had our casual night a couple of weeks ago and we agreed to play Hobo.  For those who are new here on Three Kings Loot, Hobo is basically the name my friends and I gave to playing decks with no rares or mythics…just commons and uncommons.  This is often called Peasant, but we thought the name was lame and preferred the name Hobo.  This particular time the extra restriction we set was that all the cards needed to be from Khans or M15 in an effort to force us to play new cards.

Most people brewed heavily with Khans because many of the cards are just more powerful than what we find in M15.  However, I decided to go the other route for one of the two decks I put together.  I figured that many of the M15 uncommons would be unplayed, giving me the chance to surprise my opponents and come at them with a bit of a curve ball.  The first card I wanted to brew with was Brood Keeper.  I really feel like the potential upside of this card has largely gone unexplored and I wanted to do something with it.  Well, the deck was a mess and I affectionately called it “4 colour mess”…and it was terrible.  I’m not even going to bother to post the list because I took it apart so quickly, but it did lead me to attempt number 2 on the Brood Keeper deck. Here is what I’ve got.

 

R/W Brood Keeper – Casual MTG / Standard on a budget

 

The plan behind the deck is dead simple.  Cast a Brood keeper and then hit it with an aura or two in order to produce the Dragon token it makes.  The token (a 2/2 flying dragon with Firebreathing) is a real card…Furnace Whelp was an uncommon in M13.  Dragon Whelp has been a thing since the beginning of Magic…and Brood Keeper just produces them as value.  Wow.  That’s mildly insane. Everything else in the deck is designed to help you get there.  Heliod’s Pilgrim allows you to fetch up an aura if you don’t have one in hand.  Sightless Brawler can be used to Bestow it on the Brood keeper or play it as a dude. Bladetusk Boar and Eagle of the Watch give you suitable targets to cast auras on if you don’t have a Brood Keeper and both come with a form of evasion.  The auras are cheap and many cantrip for more cards or have some other upside to them being in the deck.  It isn’t a fancy deck, but the curve is low, Brood Keeper is most certainly a thing, and it feels like a much more reliable build than a 4 colour mess.

 

Sultai Casual MTG deck

The other deck I ran was an unadulterated Sultai deck.  I feel like the Delve mechanic has been breaking formats since Khans hit the shelves and I wanted in on the plan.  The deck wants to dump a ton of cards in the graveyard and then do broken things with the extra resources.  At Hobo night the deck fared quite well because it just could make more use of its resources than many of the other decks.  I mean, Treasure Cruise for 1 blue mana (+ a bunch of cards in the exile pile) is pretty solid card advantage and leaves you wide open to cast any spells you picked up when you drew off the top. It proved to be a very potent combination and left many opponents unable to handle the relatively potent spells that I could follow up with.  Here’s the deck list.

 

Sultai delving convocation – Casual  MTG / Standard on a budget

 

Essentially I’m not paying the full casting cost for all my most powerful spells on account of the Delve mechanic or the Convoke mechanic.  Satyr Wayfinder and Sultai Soothsayer dump cards in my yard that I will then turn around and Delve to cast something else…and then in the next breath tap them to pay the Convoke cost of the Feral Incarnation I want to play.  It really was kind of disgusting and a couple of opponents just looked on, in bewilderment, as I paid the Convoke cost of Feral Invocation and then in the next turn played Overwhelm meaning that things got crazy fast. It was a fun build and one well worth keeping together and fixing up to make it more…I’m not sure…spicy?!. Ok, more spicy.

 

Jeskai Casual MTG deck

The last deck I have for you is an update of an R/W heroic deck that I was running several months ago and I wrote about here on Three Kings Loot.  I like the deck, but with Standard rotating I wanted to freshen the deck up somewhat.  My build around piece was Preeminent Captain and the ability to play soldiers without paying their mana cost.  The deck is full of soldiers and combat tricks to protect the creatures or to trigger Heroic and get in there for big damage. Here’s what I’ve got.

 

Jeskai Heroic Captain – Casual MTG / Standard on a budget

 

The game plan is to play my Preeminent Captains, protect them with a Gods Willing or Feat of Resistance and attack to drop another soldier card from my hand for free.  Since I can play the creatures for free I can use my mana to play the tricks in my hand to make combat miserable.  The addition of the Refuge lands from Khans has been a neat twist and really enabled the playing of Ajani’s Pridemate, which is a terrific card.  Play it for free and have it pile on counters each time you gain a life is a nice boost.  Dragon-Style Twins and Fabled Hero are just the sort of hammer you really need should things start to get out of control and can seal up a win in short order if you can fire off a few tricks.  Along that same vein, Flying Crane Technique really serves the same role to just snatch a win out of nowhere by making your team Double Strikers with Flying.  Oh, and the Ainok Bond-kin is a terrifying little creature because this deck can pile up +1/+1 counters very quickly…making the Bon-kin super useful to give my team First Strike and just make combat totally miserable.  Will this deck wow the world at the neck Standard event? No.  But it is a lot of fun, particularly if you can get the Captain on-line to play creatures for free. And it isn’t even that expensive to build! Nice value!

Well, there we have it, three new brews to share with you guys.  These may not be Standard worthy, but they have given me plenty of enjoyment around a Kitchen table and letting me to do some pretty silly things. The best part, many of the decks I have here are relatively kind to your wallet, which is always a secondary consideration when playing Magic.  No one likes to be broke, so why not try to keep the costs of playing this hobby down a bit.

 

So, until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 
 
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

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