Tag: draft

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Kyle A Massa Kyle A Massa - October 25, 2016

Conspiracy Take the Crown Draft Archetypes Part 2

cn2-kaya

Play the Ten Drop – Conspiracy: Take the Throne Draft Archetypes

Part 2: Allied Colors

We’re back for some more Conspiracy draft archetypes! I’ve had the good fortune to draft some more of this set since the last article went up. My conclusion: it’s baller.

Each color combo is super deep, but today we’ll be focusing on the more prominent synergies for the allies. If your looking for the enemy color pairs, check out this article.

Okay, let’s get started.

 

Blue-White Flyers

Key Commons: Messenger Jays, Jeering Homunculus, Wild Griffin

Key Uncommons: Coveted Peacock, Guardian of the Gateless, Ascended Lawmage

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Platinum Angel

Let’s start off with a true classic. Not much has changed for blue-white flyers in this set; you’re looking for your titular flying dudes, quality blockers on the ground, Pacifism-type effects, stuff like that. Your creatures might be relatively small, but the evasion gives you a huge advantage.

As quality flyers go, I really dig Ascended Lawmage. Three aerial damage each turn is nice. Three aerial damage each turn that can’t be targeted is even nicer. Also, you have the perfect opportunity to quote Sylvester Stallone when you cast it. If that’s not reason enough to draft it, I don’t know what is.

In regards to our blockers, I really like Jeering Homunculus in this deck. It’s a nice early drop that halts little attackers early and distracts bigger attackers later. That’s exactly what you’re looking for in one of your defensive creatures. Also, the art is outstanding.

And then there’s Guardian of the Gateless, which is good on both offense and defense (especially defense). It’s just such an amazing deterrent, especially for decks that might be swarming you with with a bunch of little creatures (we’ll get to those in a second).

Though I like this color combo, be warned: other players aren’t going to like it nearly so much. Board wipes are going to hurt, especially considering that many of your best offensive threats are vulnerable to spells like Hurly Burly and Infest.

Green-Red Monstrous

Key Commons: Prey Upon, Ravenous Leucrocota, Ill-Tempered Cyclops

Key Uncommons: Nessian Asp, Domesticated Hydra, Sulfurous Blast

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Splitting Slime

For the stompy people out there, this is a fun one. Just draft big dudes, make them bigger, then smash faces. The monstrous ability is an old favorite and a great way to use your mana whenever you have it.

Since Conspiracy is a mutiplayer format, you’ll have more time than usual to ramp. Take advantage of that time to build up a mana base, throw down some threats, trigger monstrous, then rumble. It’s a simple game plan, but it’s a fun one.

Sulfurous Blast is very nice in this deck because your creatures are going to be so darn big. You’ll easily turn a three-for-one profit off this, if not more. That’s big upside, even in multiplayer.

And now the downside: this deck feels a little one dimensional. Your big dudes are big, sure, but when you invest 12 mana into your Nessian Asp and then your opponent nukes it with a one-mana Regicide, you can’t be happy.

From what I’ve gleaned in my limited playtime with this format, small flyers are a big problem for this deck. Therefore, I recommend prioritizing life gain and creatures with reach. You might even try mainboarding a Plummet. Trust me—you’ll find juicy targets (except for that stupid Lawmage).

Red-Black Sacrifice

Key Commons: Driver of the Dead, Assemble the Rank and Vile, Shambling Goblin

Key Uncommons: Fleshbag Marauder, Havengul Vampire, Gang of Devils

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Harvester of Souls

We’ve got another returning classic in red-black sacrifice. Look for cards like Shambling Goblin, which give you a bonus when they die. Looks for cards like Driver of the Dead, which resurrect the Goblin when they die. You should also snatch up Assemble the Rank and Vile, which allows you to get even more sacrificial fodder when your named creatures die.

At the uncommon slot, Fleshbag Marauder is primo in your deck. Weakening each opponents’ board is sweet, and since you’ll probably benefit from whatever creature you sacrifice, this dude makes for a nice turn three play.

Havengul Vampire is also sweet, quickly growing into a straight up beefer from all your sacrificing. Oh, and did I mention that the Vampire gets pumped not just for your creatures dying, but for your opponents’ as well? That means you can throw down the aforementioned Fleshbag, dump four counters on your vampire, then swing for six. And if your victim happens to have no blockers, throw another counter on there after combat.  I’ll take a playset, please.

I think this is one of the strongest archetypes in the set. With twice the number of players, twice the number of creatures are going to hit the bin.

Blue-Black Control

Key Commons: Mnemonic Wall, Regicide, Canal Courier

Key Uncommons: Into the Void, Shipwreck Singer, Spire Phantasm

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Sphinx of Magosi

This is one of the less synergistic pairs in the set, but it’s still powerful. Blue-black wants to generate two-for-ones, recursion, and solid card advantage. Luckily, there are all kinds of cards that fit that bill in these two colors.

Regicide shines in this archetype. Though one-for-one removal takes a bit of a hit in multiplayer Magic, it’s not every day that we get one mana, instant speed, nearly unconditional removal. Sure, your opponents get to choose what colors you can target, but even if you draft just two Regicides, you’re guaranteed four colors to target. And if you’re lucky enough to draft three? You can kill anything. For one mana. At instant speed!

Other than removal, look for Mnemonic Wall, which can recur your sweet removal. Spire Phantasm is another nice one here. If you can guess correctly—which isn’t as difficult as it seems—you get to throw down a four mana, three-power flyer that even draws you a card. Sweet!

Last thing: no control deck is complete without a big ol’ game-ender. I’d be looking for Sphinx of Magosi, Guul Draz Specter, or Archdemon of Paliano to do some work for you. It’ll be a slow build to get to the fatties, but once you do, they’ll end the game quickly.

Green-White Tokens

Key Commons: Raise the Alarm, Lieutenants of the Guard, Strength in Numbers

Key Uncommons: Juniper Order Ranger, Overrun, Gleam of Resistance

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Forgotten Ancient

Everyone’s least favorite standard deck is back for Conspiracy. Well, sort of.

This is an interesting color combo. While white seems to have the token makers, green appears to offer the payoffs for making them. Your strategy is simple: wall up behind a lot of tokens, then give them a massive boost, swing for a win. Sounds fun, right?

Tokens are a bigtime archetype in multiplayer for a reason. Though your tokens are generally 1/1s and 2/2s, you’ll often have enough of them to serve as a strong deterrent for attackers. In addition, when you yourself decide to attack, a wide board usually makes for big damage.

The card you’re looking for when you draft this deck is Overrun. Triple green makes it a little annoying to cast, but when you cast it, the upside is huge. A lot of times you’re going to catch players when they’re tapped out, maybe even when they have no blockers, and you’re going to hit them hard. +3/+3 is no joke, and trample breaks through for even more.

The problem with a deck like this is that it’s pretty obvious what you’re doing from the get-go. Furthermore, for colors like red or black, disrupting your plan will be fairly simple—all it takes is a well-timed Sulfurous Blast or Infest to really ruin your day.

Whew, that’s all for now. Happy drafting!

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Kyle A Massa Kyle A Massa - October 4, 2016

Conspiracy Take the Crown Draft Archetypes Part 1

Take The Crown

Play the Ten Drop – Conspiracy: Take the Throne Draft Archetypes

Part 1: Enemy Colors

Ever since Brago got stabbed in the neck, I know you’ve been excited to play this set. All the weird draft mechanics and fun multiplayer action from the first set are back and better than ever.

Though this format is deep enough to support more than one archetypes per color pair, we’ll be looking at the most prominent ones for the enemy color pairs today. In Part 2, we’ll look at the allies.

Without further ado, let’s get archetyping!

 

Red-White Melee

Key Commons: Wings of the Guard, Deputized Protestor, Goblin Tunneler

Key Uncommons: Custodi Soulcaller, Grenzo’s Ruffians, Akroan Hoplite

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Adriana, Captain of the Guard

Attacking is red-white’s bread and butter, so it’s no surprise to see that again here. Melee is the new twist—it’s a keyword which buffs your attackers based on the number of people you’re attacking.

I won’t deny that attacking three people at once sounds fun… until all three of them attack you back. This has always been red-white’s Achilles heel in multiplayer. Aggro is effective in one-on-one, but struggles when more people join the table.

My suggestion is to leave one player unattacked each game and do your best to form an alliance with that player. If you’re at a four player table, taking on two players is certainly more doable than taking on three—especially if that third player helps you out every now and then.

 

Red-Blue Spells

Key Commons: Kiln Fiend, Garbage Fire, Repulse

Key Uncommons: Guttersnipe, Into the Void, Besmirch

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Charmbreaker Devils

Though there’s a decent amount of goad cards in this color combo, the spells path has the bigger payoff. Expect to have a lower creature count with this deck. In game, my guess is you’ll lay back until someone seems vulnerable, then blow them out with three or four spells in one turn. Sounds pretty sweet.

However, the funny thing about multiplayer is, people’s imaginations scare them even more than what’s actually on the board. So if you sit there doing nothing and playing no creatures, there’s a fair chance your opponents might attack you out of fear of what you might have.

My suggestion is to leave everyone alone—unless they attack you. When that happens, drop a Garbage Fire on their dude. Do that a few times and people will probably stop attacking you. And then you can go back to building for your big turn.

And remember those goad cards I mentioned? You’ll want to prioritize them. Since you won’t have many creatures, cards that divert attackers to other players are going to be lifesavers.

 

Green-Black Value

Key Commons: Assemble the Rank and Vile, Borderland Explorer, Orchard Elemental

Key Uncommons: Pharika’s Mender, Smuggler Captain, Keepsake Gorgon

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Assemble the Rank and Vile

Of all the color pairs, I find this one the most difficult to nail down. There’s not a lot of synergy here, but that’s made up for in raw card advantage. Assemble the Rank and Vile replaces anyone who dies, Pharika’s Mender revives both creatures and enchantments, and Smuggler Captain functions as a nifty tutor.

In general, look for creatures which serve dual roles. Squeaking out added value whenever you can is a big deal in multiplayer, so I expect this color combo to be pretty strong, even without big synergies.

 

Blue-Green Ramp

Key Commons: Voyaging Satyr, Opaline Unicorn, Lay of the Land

Key Uncommons: Explosive Vegetation, Manaplasm, Coiling Oracle

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Expropriate

This one’s pretty simple: search up some lands, tap ’em, play big stuff. There’s a good number of monstrosity creatures in green just waiting to munch on some delicious mana, plus a few more in blue.

I like this color combo because there’s enough mana fixing to get you into a third color for a big bomb. If you’re lucky enough to open Birds of Paradise, for example, you have access to any color. If not, Opaline Unicorn is a serviceable substitute. Look out for bombs with high costs or unusual mana requirements such as Subterranean Tremors, Protector of the Crown, or Leovold, Emissary of Trest. While other drafters might fear these cards and pass them, you can snag them and smile. Just don’t look too smug.

 

Black-White Monarch

Key Commons: Throne Warden, Thorn of the Black Rose, Garrulous Sycophant

Key Uncommons: Knights of the Black Rose, Palace Jailer, Ghostly Prison

Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Queen Marchesa

Purely from a fun standpoint, this might be the best archetype in the whole set. I love the game-within-the-game aspect the monarch token presents. Plus, now we finally have an excuse to wear a crown during a game of Magic. Thanks, Wizards!

Why would you want to play this archetype? So you can say “Garrulous Sycophant” repeatedly, of course. Also, being the monarch produces a tremendous amount of card advantage; at the beginning of your end step, if you’re the monarch, you draw a card. Though any player can become the monarch, you’ll benefit most from it thanks to cards such as Throne Warden and the aforementioned Sycophant. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to draft Ghostly Prison, it’ll be extra hard for your opponents to steal your crown.

But let us not forget the dangers of being a monarch (just ask King Joffrey). Everyone likes drawing cards, so players won’t hesitate to steal your monarch token. Therefore, be conservative with your attacks and leverage those extra cards for a late-game win.

 

Which archetype are you most excited to draft? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to come back when we take a look at the ally color pairs.

Until then, watch your back. There’s a conspiracy afoot!

By Kyle A. Massa – Play the Ten Drop
You can reach Kyle at @mindofkyleam on Twitter or through his site www.kyleamassa.com

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Dan Erickson Dan Erickson - June 9, 2016

Eternal Masters unboxing Booster Case

Eternal Masters unboxing Booster case 

Eternal Masters unboxing

Join the Three Kings Loot team as they do their official Eternal Masters Unboxing Booster Case ! We dive into this set head first with draft analysis, draft picks, value (both in play and money) and other typical TKL shenanigans. Enjoy! Check out the full card list and gallery.

 

 

As an added bonus, check out the official Eternal Masters unboxing of the freight case. #boxinaboxinabox

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JP Vazquez JP Vazquez - June 3, 2016

Upcoming Events at Three Kings Loot

Optimum Jank- Upcoming Events at Three Kings Loot

 

IMAGE - SCRYING - Christine Choi - Sylvan Scrying

 

Come One, Come All

If you’re in the Montreal area this summer, Three Kings Loot (3KL) will be hosting a variety of Magic events for the casual and competitive alike. There are a number of upcoming tournaments in various formats that merit mentioning here and I figured I’d do an article to cover those events. If these events sound interesting to you, you should definitely come down to check them out.

 

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Juvenile Diabetes Research Fundraiser

On Saturday, 4th June and Sunday, 5th June, 3KL will host a fund raising tournament for the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Founded in 1970, the JDRF is a major charitable organization dedicated to funding research toward ending Type 1 diabetes (T1D) as well as trying to improve the lives of those that suffer from T1D.

Each event costs $40 CAD, of which $12 CAD will go directly to the JDRF. Both events will be Shadows Over Innistrad Sealed events, meaning you’ll be getting 6 boosters of SOI to crack open and build a deck with. If you’ve never played a Sealed tournament before – or even if you have – this will be an excellent opportunity to practice all the deck construction strategies covered in my recent three part series on Sealed deck construction.

Two SOI booster packs will be added to the prize pool per player. Sounds fine, but that sort of seems par for the course, doesn’t it? That’s why 3KL is adding an Oath of the Gatewatch booster box, a 2015 Commander deck and an Intro deck to the prize pool as well. That’s what we in the Magic community call “value”. This is a great opportunity to play some Sealed Magic while helping a fantastic cause and possibly walking home with a booster box of a recent Standard set! Seems like a win-win all around for everyone.

 

Eternal Masters Banner

 

Eternal Masters Drafts

Eternal Masters (EMA) drops next weekend on Friday, 10th June and 3KL will be hosting a draft of the hotly anticipated new format that same night!

The draft environment looks to be quite challenging and exciting and is something you won’t want to miss. If you’d like to know more about Eternal Masters, you can check out our article highlighting the set here and preview the entire set of cards here.

There are a lot of amazing cards to be opened and Friday’s draft is a perfect opportunity to do so. If you’re unavailable on Friday, have no fear! 3KL will be hosting a second Eternal Masters draft the following week on Thursday 16th June.

Remember! Eternal Masters is a limited release product, meaning there will be very low quantities of product available. This means that unfortunately there won’t be many opportunities to draft this set, so be sure to take advantage of these drafts while you can! The price to draft EMA will be $50 CAD for three booster packs or $5 CAD to participate if you bring your own EMA packs.

 

FNM Banner

Friday Night Magic

The best night of the week is getting even better. Three Kings Loot announced a complete overhaul of their Friday Night Magic events for the summer months and will be offering something for almost every type of Magic player!

The kick off to 3KL’s revamped Friday Night Magic will be absolutely free Standard events starting at 6PM. Standard is quite diverse at the moment and many players are looking to get extra practice time for upcoming GP events or the upcoming World Magic Cup Qualifier in Montreal on 18th June. This is now the perfect time to bring your Standard decks to FNM to challenge fellow competitors.

If Standard isn’t your cup of tea, 3KL is hosting Modern events starting at 7PM. Modern is the fastest rising Constructed format in Magic with more and more players in Canada (and North America in general) favouring the deeper complexity and challenging intricacies found in Modern. FaceToFace Games’ Tournament Series have been increasing in popularity across the country and the large majority of those tournaments are Modern. For $5 CAD – with all entry fees added to the prize pool – you can practice piloting your Modern decks at 3KL!

Last but not least, there’s the 8PM Draft. For $15 CAD, players can draft the newest Standard set at FNM. If you’re late to one of the events or if you’ve 0-2 scrubbed out of the Standard event or if not enough players show up to fire one of the earlier events or if you simply prefer Draft over all the other offerings, you can still play Magic by joining the 8PM Draft.

I don’t know what would happen if you tried to play all three events at the same time, though. Most likely the universe will divide itself by zero, so let’s not try that, okay?

Best of all, each event gives you a chance to win a shiny, new Friday Night Magic promo card, which happens to be Sylvan Scrying this month, featuring fantastic new art by Christine Choi.

There truly is something for every type of Magic player at Three Kings Loot’s new FNM, so be sure to check it out! Bring your friends!

 

IMAGE - FIREBOLT - Chris Rallis - Firebolt

The Multiverse is Your Oyster

These are just a few of the fun events and excellent opportunities to play Magic this summer. Let’s be honest, wouldn’t we all much rather be slinging spells in a nice air conditioned store than be stuck outside in the blistering summer heat? Did you find this article helpful and informative? Leave a comment in the Comments section below! And hopefully I’ll be seeing you at one of these events!

JP

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JP Vazquez JP Vazquez - May 27, 2016

Drafting Eternal Masters and Other Possibilities

Optimum Jank – Eternal Masters and You!

IMAGE - CONTROL - Terese Nielsen - Control Magic

 

Waiting for Eternity

Summer is here and Wizards is releasing their newest limited release summer set. Since 2013, the fine folks of Wizards of the Coast have been perfecting their draft-focused Masters series. These sets contain no new cards and instead are comprised entirely of reprints from earlier Magic sets. Modern Masters and its sequel Modern Masters 2015 were two standalone draft sets tangentially created as a gateway for Wizards to introduce more Modern staples into the market. In between the Modern Masters sets, the online-only Vintage Masters premiered in 2014 on Magic‘s online client Magic the Gathering Online (or MTGO), this time geared toward the online Vintage community.

2016 brings us the newest foray in the Masters line: Eternal Masters. Comprised once again entirely of cards reprinted from past sets, the idea here is to create a new outlet for Magic‘s numerous (as the name suggests) Eternal formats such as Vintage, Legacy and Pauper, as well as the defacto eternal format Commander.

What does this mean for you, The Casual Player? Is this something you should be excited for? How will these cards impact your playgroup or gaming experience? Are these cards needed for your collection? Let’s take a look at a few ways Eternal Masters might be of interest to you.

IMAGE - GAMBLE - Winona Nelson - Gamble

 

To Draft or Not to Draft

Drafting Eternal Masters is certainly going to be a unique and challenging experience. The cards found in this set may look new with their shiny M15-style fonts, holofoil stamps, and borders, but the majority of these cards are very, very old, harkening back to the early years of Magic. In many ways, Eternal Masters feels like a love letter to the collectible card game’s unpolished beginnings.

Eternal Masters is designed with draft as its primary focus but it will feel very different from most Standard draft sets. Cards will be at the same time obviously more powerful and deceptively more powerful than more recent offerings. Synergies and strategies won’t be as immediately evident as they are with today’s Standard sets. This is due to the level of complexity of older cards being different from the level of complexity of more modern cards. If you’re planning to draft Eternal Masters as a first foray into drafting, be prepared for a much more complicated game of Magic. Taking the time to study the full spoiler once it is released is highly recommended.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for a pack of Eternal Masters is $10 USD; much higher than an MSRP $4 USD Standard pack. This means drafting Eternal Masters will cost you at least three times as much as a regular draft. The reason for this is because of the numerous older, costlier, and harder to find cards being reprinted coupled with it being a limited release set. The people drafting this set will most likely have the money to invest in drafting it and will be prepared to win. It will very likely attract a much more competitive crowd so be prepared. When the buy-ins are higher and the value of the cards are greater, the stakes will increase and the desire to win will be much stronger than your typical Friday Night Magic draft. I wouldn’t recommend drafting this set if it is your first time drafting unless, of course, a more complex, challenging and competitive environment is exactly what you’re looking for.

One last thing to keep in mind when drafting Eternal Masters: There will always be a small chance of opening incredibly valuable packs containing multiple highly sought after and expensive cards within one pack (e.g. a regular Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a premium foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the same pack). For some people, especially those on a more frugal budget, Rule 2.10 of the Magic Tournament Rules is as follows:

“Players who drop during limited events own the cards that they correctly have in their possession at that time. This includes any unopened or partially drafted boosters.”

If you’d like to keep your money cards instead of passing them, you are legally allowed to drop from a draft to keep your cards. Different stores may have different procedures for handling a situation such as this, ranging from continuing the draft with 7 people or simply allowing a player to buy a new pack and continue the draft or, more unfortunately and disappointingly, by preventing that player from returning to the store. If you’re concerned about your store’s policy on dropping from a draft, remember to ask what their policy might be before signing up as it may influence your decision to draft. What is important to remember is that you have a legal right to drop from your draft with your cards if you choose to do so.

IMAGE - ANIMATE - Bastien L. Deharme - Animate Dead

 

The Best of the Rest

Not interested in drafting Eternal Masters but are still intrigued by all these shiny old cards? There are other reasons to be excited about this new release.

Eternal Masters will help increase accessibility and reduce the costs of staple cards for a number of formats including, but not limited to:

 

COMMANDER

Arguably the most popular multiplayer format in Magic, Commander players are excited to get their hands on new printings of a number of cards popular in the format including (but certainly not limited to) Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Mystical Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, and Natural Order.

The greatest boon of the Commander format is necessitating only one copy of a card for your 100 card deck. If you’ve been holding off buying a particularly expensive card, the increase in format staples provided by Eternal Masters might be the perfect time to commit to your purchase as these cards will decrease in price in the short term. If you’ve been having a tough time finding a particular card at your local store(s), now is the time to check again.

Many of these older cards are being reprinted not only in the new M15-style border, but for the first time in premium foil printings as well. Cards such as Toxic Deluge and Gamble have never seen foil printings while other cards such as Argothian Enchantress, Force of Will and Dualcaster Mage have only seen expensive Judge Promo printings. If you’re the type of player that loves blinding your opponents with shiny pimped-out decks, this set is the set for you.

 

CUBE

Cube players are always excited whenever a new set is released and Eternal Masters is no different. The big draw here for Cube players are cards printed for the first time in the modern M15-style borders as well as a plethora of cards with beautiful new art.

Cube is by far my favourite format and there are a number of cards I’m excited to see reprinted with incredible new art such as Animate Dead, Enlightened Tutor, Sneak Attack, and Maelstrom Wanderer. Cube is a format in which you create your own draft environment by assembling an at-minimum 360 card “set” using any cards you choose from across Magic‘s rich history. Cube is something we will be delving deeper into at a later date, so look forward to that.

The most enjoyable aspect of Cube is that it is as much a form of expression of the Cube builder as it is a fantastic format to play. If you’re looking to create a more unique visual experience for your cube or would like to further develop archetypes in your cube with cards that were previously unattainable due to scarcity, Eternal Masters looks to help players like you.

 

PAUPER

Lastly, Pauper players are the real winners in Eternal Masters. Pauper is a Commons-only format, however, a card is legal if it has been printed at Common at any point in Magic‘s history. This means that while much needed Pauper reprints such as Hydroblast and Pyroblast might be Uncommon in Eternal Masters, they are both still legal in Pauper because they were printed at Common in Ice Age.

Eternal Masters has a slew of cards that Pauper players have been clamoring for reprints. There are a number of Common cards that have a surprisingly large price tag attached to them – mostly due to scarcity in printings – and reducing the prices of cards for what should be the cheapest format in Magic is exactly what Pauper players were hoping for.

If you’ve ever been interested in Magic‘s cheapest and fanatically-growing format, this will be the best time to jump in.

 

IMAGE - TIMBER- Yohann Schepacz - Timberwatch Elf

 

Eternally Yours

I really hope I was able to impart enough reasons why Eternal Masters might be interesting to you, The Casual Player. There’s a lot of different styles of Magic to be played and explored and Eternal Masters is the newest gateway into those formats. Did you find this article helpful and informative? Leave a comment in the Comments section below! And don’t forget, Three Kings Loot has Eternal Masters on sale here and will be hosting Eternal Masters drafts on Friday, 10th June and Thursday 16th June! If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out!

JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank

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JP Vazquez JP Vazquez - April 13, 2016

Cracking Shadows

Optimum Jank – Cracking Shadows

IMAGE - TRISK - Willian Murai - Triskaidekaphobia

Fear Not, Player

It may not be Friday the thirteenth, but we’re in for some frights!

I originally wanted to do my Top 13 Shadows Over Innistrad (SOI) cards in honour of today being (unfortunately, not a Friday) the 13th… what with thirteen being of such relevance in the world of Innistrad). Ultimately, I felt that was a little too cliché.

Instead, I’d like to try something a little different. Hopefully you’ll all enjoy it. Since this week is the release week for Shadows, I felt that this would be the best time to do something we, as Magic players, all love to do: Let’s open some booster packs!

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Fresh Pack Odor

Ah! That new card smell, that satisfying sound when cracking a pack, those sweet new cards. There’s a reason this game is colloquially referred to as Cardboard Crack.

I’ve set aside three packs to share with you. We’ll be cracking them for the fun of it, but we can also play “Pack 1, Pick 1”. Pack 1, Pick 1 (also known as P1P1) is a quick game Magic players will engage in when cracking packs. The purpose is to determine which card would be the “first pick” in a draft environment. Since we’ll be opening three packs, we can play this two ways: 1) For each pack, what would be our P1P1 if this were the first pack we would open in a draft and 2) What would be our pick if these were opened sequentially in a draft (i.e. pack 1, then pack 2, then pack 3).

Let’s dive into our first pack, shall we?

Here’s a look at our Common cards from our first pack.

No, we’re not jumping right to the rare. It’s called “building suspense”. If you really want to spoil the surprise, there’s nothing stopping you from scrolling down.

So what have we got here? Well, truthfully, nothing really stands out for me amongst these Commons. I’m a big fan of Vessel of Ephemera, which I talked about in my last article. It provides bodies on the board and fuels Delirium if we end up in a Delirium deck. The other Common I’m looking at is Howlpack Wolf. I’ve found the card to be extremely strong in Limited. Its “drawback” of not being able to block without another Wolf or Werewolf on the battlefield isn’t detrimental enough for me to not include it in a deck. More often then not, attacking is what I want it to be doing anyway. A 3/3 body on turn 3 in an aggressive RG (Were)Wolf strategy is exactly what I want. Like most Red mages say, “what is blocking?”

That’s all I’m really looking at in terms of these Commons, though. Let’s see if there’s something spicier in the Uncommons…

Eek, nothing fantastic here either. I like Tenacity. It’s a good combat trick that people often don’t see coming. I’m also a fan of Spectral Shepherd, especially in the Spirit deck. I really like his synergy with Apothecary Geist; Using the Geist as a blocker that I can bounce back to my hand with the Shepherd and then recast him again to gain life is pretty fun. I’m not sure, however, if either of those cards are first picks at this point. Let’s check out the Rare and Double Faced Card (DFC) and see if we’ve opened something exciting.

We opened a Mythic Rare! Seasons Past is a very neat card and I like the potential it harbours, but it’s a very difficult card to build around in Draft. Breakneck Rider, on the other hand, looks amazing right now. He’s a little more mana intensive than the Howlpack Wolf, but the Rider’s potential explosiveness when he transforms into Neck Breaker is worth it to me. That attack bonus is exactly what I want if I’m playing Red aggro. He’s a strong contender for P1P1, so let’s take another look at the pack before we make any decisions, just to make sure we’re satisfied with that pick.

Overall, not the best first pack to open but I feel the Breakneck Rider // Neck Breaker really saves it. I would be happy with P1P1ing the Rider. When this pack comes back to me in a draft, I would be hoping to “wheel” either the Howlpack Wolf for the synergy, Tenacity if I end up in White or the Wicker Witch if I’m in an aggressive deck.

So far so good! Let’s move onto our second pack!

Check it out, our second Vessel of Ephemera. This pack also has a second Vampire Noble as well… Wait a second! There’s only eight Commons here! This means we either have a second DFC in the pack or perhaps a premium card. This is exciting!

In terms of P1P1, if this had been out first pack, I like the Vessel, as I mentioned before, but I also like the Voldaren Duelist. I think it has a good ability on a solid body. If we view this pack as our second pack in the draft, following our Breakneck Rider pack, I like the Voldaren Duelist even more since he’s in our colours. Let’s take a look at the Uncommons, see if anything strikes us as better.

I love Silverstrike. I think it’s one of the best Common/Uncommon removals in the format. Sure, it’s a little expensive and it requires an attacking creature which isn’t irrelevant, but the three points of life has gotten me out of quite a few jams in games so far. I also like the Graf Mole. A 2/4 for 3 is an excellent defensive creature and he’s very solid in the Clue deck. That being said, if this were our P1P1, I’m definitely favouring the Silverstrike. If this were our P2P1, assuming I’m in Red with Breakneck Rider, I’d consider splashing White for Silverstrike. I don’t know if I could say the same about the Mole. I feel I would only pick the Mole if I was already in Green.

We’ve still got our Rare and DFC to check out! Will they be better than our last pack?

BOOM! Flameblade Angel, Accursed Witch and foil Silverfur Partisan. All of these cards are great. Personally, I’m really happy to have opened the Silverfur Partisan because he’ll be going into my Tribal Cube for the Wolf support. What’s a Cube you ask? That’s another topic for another time. But I digress…

For now, of these three cards, as much as I really like Silverfur Partisan, I do feel he’s the weakest of the batch. Accursed Witch is very strong and was an integral piece in my Release Day Sealed pool deck that lead me to a 5-0 victory, so I’m certainly going to give her pause. That being said, Flameblade Angel is the very definition of a bomb and will win games on her own. She’s currently my top pick, but let’s review the entire pack once more before we make a decision.

If this were my P1P1, I’d be hard pressed to choose anything over the Flameblade Angel. I definitely like Silverfur Partsan, Accursed Witch and Silverstrike, but I feel the Angel is the clear pick. Assuming this was our P2P1, following the Breakneck Rider pack, I’d be windmill slamming that Angel. She’s in our colours and she’s a fantastic top end to a Red deck.

This is going pretty well so far! Let’s see what’s in store for us in Pack 3…

Boo! Nine Common cards. Oh well; No foil or extra DFC for us. There’s the Apothecary Geist I was talking about before that could have combined well with Spectral Shepherd. If this were our last pack after our P1 Breakneck Rider and P2 Flameblade Angel, I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of either of these Red card. Hulking Devil is underwhelming and Ember-Eye Wolf is a 2 drop that I’m fine with including in my deck, but I’m not particularly excited to do so. If this were our P1P1, I’d be leaning toward the Murderous Compulsion. It’s cheap, efficient removal with a slight drawback that could be negated if we wheel that Stern Constable.

Let’s move on to our Uncommons.

Now these cards are a little more exciting. Pale Rider of Trostad is a very interesting card for the Skulk/Discard/Madness decks but I think I like Incorrigible Youths a little more. It’s a big beater with Haste and its Madness cost makes it an insane value card if you can cast it on turn 3. Youths is definitely at the top of my list right now. Let’s see if our Rare or DFC can beat it…

DISREGARD EVERYTHING. We opened the Man in the Popped Collar Leather Jacket on Top of a Hooded Cloak himself, Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. Lambholt Pacifist, you’re a pretty good card, especially in a deck with Breakneck Rider and Flameblade Angel, but I think the pick here is Jace. Just to be sure, let’s review the pack one more time.

It’s Jace, right? Jace? Yeah, I think it’s Jace. If this were our P1P1, it’s definitely Jace. If this were our P3P1, it’s still Jace because come on, it’s Jace. If Jace wasn’t in this pack, I’d be looking at the Youths or the Murderous Compulsion. That being said, he’s in the pack and I don’t think I have the fortitude of character to simply pass Jace, although I can tell you stories of those who have. But I digress…

IMAGE - SILVER - Lius Lasahido - Silverstrike

That Was Fun Now

I hope you enjoyed our very first “pack cracking” here on Optimum Jank. I’d be very interested to hear if you agree or disagree with my picks. Would you have gone in a different direction? Would you have passed the Jace in Pack 3 if you were already solidly in Red? Leave a comment in the Comments section and share your thoughts. If you’re in the area, Three Kings Loot hosts SOI drafts on Monday, Thursday and Friday. You should check it out if you enjoyed what you saw here and would like to try it yourself!

JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank

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Bruce Gray - November 24, 2015

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce – #30 Battle for Zendikar 3rd

Drowner of Hope

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce
#30 Battle for Zendikar 3rd

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

This is going to be the third and final crack a pack that I will be doing for Battle for Zendikar…at least for right now. Having taken a shot at a draft I really got a taste for the format. However, watching better players sink their teeth into the format has helped me solidify some of my thinking around many of the cards. There are so many things going on out there that I would like to try and touch on, so I’m going to do this pack and then take a little break from cracking packs and talk about a few of the other things going on in the Magic community in the weeks to come. So, let’s not waste any more time!

Let’s see what we’ve got this week.

Commons:

 

Uncommons:

 

Rare:

Murk Strider is a pretty reasonable card if you want to play the Ingest/Processor deck or the R/U Devoid deck. However, a 3/2 for four mana is not an outstanding rate and the ability of bouncing a creature is just decent because the set-up cost is quite high. If this was a mana cheaper or a bit bigger this would be a much stronger critter, but it trades with most two drops and is largely replaceable. This would not be anywhere near the first pick and I would expect I can find this pretty easily very late in the pack.

Sludge Crawler is a more relevant threat. 1/1 for 1 is not usually that relevant because unless you land it on turn one they often get blanked by a 2/2 or better. However, this one can scale in the late game to trade more profitably by pumping. The Ingest is also relevant. It is still not a first pick, but I would look at it ahead of the Murk Strider.

Kor Castigator is a pretty relevant ally. A 3/1 for 2 mana is very aggressive and can pay you off handsomely if you are in the ally deck by coming down early and threatening plenty of damage if unchecked. Also, since it is an Ally it also is not a dud in the late game to trigger a pile of Rally triggers. The last piece of text is that it can’t be blocked by Scion tokens which is very relevant in many matchups. I’m still not taking this early because I would expect to find this quite readily later if I am in the Ally deck.

Reckless Cohort is not a first pick by any stretch. It is a reasonable 2 drop and can play a role in the R/W allies deck. However, a 2/2 for 2 and a questionable drawback hardly makes this guy exciting.

Cloud Manta is just a solid reliable flier. Nothing fancy here but it is usually a useful card and you won’t be sad to run it. This and Shadow Glider are just two relevant fliers, sort of like Wind Drake, that decks running Blue or White will gobble up and love to run. Not a first pick mind you, but something that is likely to get snapped up fairly quickly.

Sandstone Bridge is another of the utility lands this set packs and it’s pretty decent. This not a first pick because the land just isn’t good enough but it will often be the pick over many of the other playables because it just offers a little more flexibility. Nice card…but still no.

Tajuru Beastmaster is the first real card we’ve seen in this pack and even at that it likely isn’t a first pick. It’s a big curve topper in an ally deck or a deck looking to leverage the anthem-esque effect of this thing. It is clearly the best card we’ve seen to date in this pack but I would be very displeased if this ended up being first pick.

Demon’s Grasp is bad sorcery speed removal. You don’t really want spells like this if you can help it, but sometimes you need stuff like this. I wouldn’t seriously look at this for a first pick and in this pack many of the other just “playable”cards would win out over this.  Sure, you might take it late, and you might even run it, but you don’t really want to if you can help it.

Skyline Cascade is just like the Sandstone Bridge. Decent card, not a first pick.

Eldrazi Skyspawner is the business. This is just a value creature and there is no other way around it. A 2/1 Flier and a 1/1 scion for three mana is very solid and stacks up with Sandsteppe Outcast or Ghirapur Gearcrafter from some of the other formats we have recently seen. This also goes in just about any deck playing blue and is pure value. Whether I select this over the Beastmaster is debatable, but I think I would be leaning towards this because this is quite a bit cheaper and easier to play, but I would need to really think about it.

Scythe Leopard is a 1 drop that I’d probably rather avoid. It is very good in a Constructed Landfall deck where it can consistently be cast on turn 1, but in Limited this doesn’t match up well in any other situation other than being cast on turn 1. Even with Landfall this gets outclassed by so many other creatures that it is hardly worth the pick.  I like the leopard, but just not if I intend to win.

Grovetender Druids puts me in two colours and with a creature that is good, but not insane. I don’t think the payoff is big enough for me to jump into two colours right away, so I think I’ll pass on this and opt for one of the other cards in the pack.

Cryptic Cruiser is another payoff for ingesting. However, as a first pick I don’t think it makes sense. If you want to go into the Ingest/Processor decks you really ought to start with the Ingest cards and then try to find your payoff instead of grabbing the payoff and then finding the Ingest cards. Not all Ingest creatures are equal and you want to be sure you have some good ones before you start looking for the payoff.

Drowner of Hope looks like it should be the slam dunk pick. Six mana for a 5/5 are solid stats and it makes two 1/1 scions so in essence you are getting 7 power and toughness for your 6 mana. The ability to sacrifice a scion to tap down an opposing creature is also an important ability. However, if you take this you need to ask yourself what sort of deck lends itself to maximizing this sort of creature. At first glance this looks it should fit in a B/U sacrifice sort of deck where this and Zulaport Cutthroat are your big time payoffs. However, how many 1/1 scions are you getting to maximize the ability to tap down your opponent’s team? Blue makes a few and Black has a couple, but you aren’t really getting a ton of them so the idea of sacrificing a bunch of scions and then reaping the benefits as you drain your opponent out is fairly limited. On top of that, B/U usually wants to play the Ingest/Processor game and not token production. Green is the colour that makes a pile of tokens and is the situation where this could be really explosive. Can you imagine sacrificing a pile of tokens, tapping down their whole team and then crashing in for a ton of damage? Sounds appealing to me. But is U/G really a powerful thing? Maybe with the Converge deck, but that can be tricky. Drowner might also want to go in the U/R Devoid deck because that is also a relevant choice. With so many deck options it is hard to pick one solid deck that this goes in, but Drowner plays reasonably well in all of them and it leaves you very open to a number of strategies. Drowner of Hope seems to be big time game and looks like the front runner in this pack.

 

Top 5 Cards

  1. Drowner of Hope
  2. Eldrazi Skyspawner
  3. Sludge Crawler
  4. Tajuru Beastmaster
  5. Cryptic Cruiser

First pick is very handily the Drowner. It is strong all on its own and fits in a wide variety of decks meaning that our options going forward are pretty good. The real question becomes where do we go from there?  There is almost no chance we’ll see the Sky Spawner come back around or the Sludge Crawler but you never know about a few of the other things in this pack. Even things on my top 5 list might make it back around depending on what other decks start to take shape around the table. As a result, it is very difficult to predict what might come back on the wheel and so our next couple of picks will be very important to help get us into a “lane” here and steer our future selections. The nice thing is that Drowner leaves us open and gives us lots of options and very sizeable top end to our curve that can help get us there.

Thanks very much for taking the time to stop in and read. BFZ is proving to be a very complex and difficult draft format. My own limited playing experience is proving to be a bit of an issue, but thank goodness that lots of other, more skilled, players are posting Draft vids all the time so I can see first hand what is getting picked and where.

Next time I’ll be back to brewing and I have a couple of budget decks that I’ve been working on that I’m ready to share with all of you.  So, until next time take care of yourselves and have a great MTG day!

 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

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Bruce Gray - November 10, 2015

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce – #29 Battle for Zendikar 2nd

Ruinous Path

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce
#29 Battle for Zendikar 2nd

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Welcome back folks! Today we are back on the old Crack a Pack plan with an eye towards evaluating a pack of Battle for Zendikar for a draft. Let’s open up the pack and see if there is something interesting in here or if we are going to have a tricky time sorting out our first pick.

Commons:

Uncommons:

Rare:

 

Foil:

Land:

Mind Raker is a serviceable Hill Giant with upside. It passes the vanilla test just barely but I’m not convinced that the ability to discard a card is overly relevant. I get the sense that if you want to play Processors and Ingestors in your deck that you are looking for something better than making them discard a card. Now, if you don’t happen to have a lot of Processor payoffs and you just sort of jam this guy for the body to get the occasional upside of making your opponent discard then you are probably pretty happy with it. I’m not picking this early and I would expect that if I want it late it’ll likely still be there.

Territorial Baloth just does good work. He is a beefy creature, gets bigger with Landfall and can just make a mess of the battlefield quite quickly. This guy plays super well with things like Evolving Wilds, Blighted Woodland and any spell that allows for more than 1 land per turn at Instant speed. As much as I like this guy (and I had him as a 10/10 for a turn at the pre-release) I would expect that we can do better with our first pick and wait and see if we can find one of these later on in the draft.

Roilmage’s Trick looks like a bad card, but I think it actually plays better than it seems. I’m not thrilled about this being a 4 mana instant, but let’s face it most decks in this format will be at least 2 colours making the Converge ability fairly reasonable. Besides they can’t make this effect be too cheap when Hydrolash from Origins (which is very similar) is 3 mana. Many decks I’ve seen can handle a splash for a third and maybe a fourth if you are in Green. That means you are likely shrinking down your opponent’s creatures by at least -2/0. That means that those 3/2’s are only dealing 1 point. Those Grizzly bears ain’t got no teef! Imagine getting -3/0 or even -4/0? Think about the profitable blocks you could set up knowing that damage will be a minimum. I’m not saying go out and mortgage the farm for this one, but I do think that there is something here and it could be a suitable combat trick. If I find myself in Blue and need a mid-round pick I would look at this seriously.

Outnumber is a very solid Instant speed removal spell. My personal inclination is to say that this is perfect in a R/G or R/W strategy. That’s where you can get lots of inexpensive creatures then follow up by casting this to take our their bomb and then stampede through the hole for the win. I don’t have much to quibble with here and I would absolutely be looking at this early and often in this pack.

Snapping Gnarlid is the baby brother to the Baloth, but is much more playable as a two drop. Not a first pick, but most certainly something I’m going to be keeping my eyes open for if I find myself in Green or Green is showing as being open. I like this guy and likely over value him at this point in the format, but good two drops are always important in a draft deck.

Spell Shrivel is still a no. I’m not big on Counters and that hasn’t changed since last week.

Complete Disregard is still a yes. I would pull this to the front of the pack, slightly ahead of Outnumber at this point based on the fact that I would rather play Black than Red in most situations.

Scour from Existence is still m’eh. I’m not picking this early even if it is good catch all removal. Let’s be honest, how many times will I want to get to 7 and then Exile their thing? If I really need this I’m likely already dead. I would take this once my options start to dwindle or I need a sideboard card, otherwise I’m likely to move on.

Tajuru Beastmaster is the curve topper for a Rally/Ally deck. I’m pretty ok with a big body like this and the quasi Anthem effect could be very potent. This wouldn’t be a first pick, but it is a very solid selection.

Turn Against takes Act of Treason to a whole new level. Instant speed makes this potentially back breaking as you steal their creature, block their other creature (presumably killing them both) and you get to reap the benefits. How frequently that this will be that good remains to be seen, but it is appealing. I’m not sure I like the 5 mana needed to cast this, but at least it is only single Red meaning I could splash it or cast it with minimal strain on my mana. I would expect this to be a fairly early pickup around the draft table because the potential ceiling is very high with this one.

Bloodbond Vampire sort of feels like a payoff for the lifegain deck. Sadly she lacks evasion to truly make her devastating. The bigger perk might be that this is an Ally meaning you can trigger Rally yet again. While this could be pretty strong in the right build, it feels like it could be a bit underwhelming unless you can find it some sweet synergies to tag along.

Tide Drifter is the reverse of Ruination Guide in that it pumps your colourless team +0/+1.  That could be relevant and make you more adept at blocking, but that feels like it is a bad tradeoff because now you are inviting a couple of combat tricks to blow you right out. I would be far more inclined to take a Ruination Guide, but in the absence of the Guide this is a decent plan B.

Ruinous Path is a ridiculous bomb here. Sure it is Sorcery speed removal, but it really reads “3 mana make that bad thing go away”. The upside on the Awaken is also not trivial because in the late game this can make a very relevant creature that can shore up the ground game or join in on the beat down. This is very clearly the strongest card in this pack and is an automatic windmill slam.

Rising Miasma seems like it could be a strong card to wipe away an aggressive deck. However, I’m not taking it when I see the Ruinous Path in this pack. It isn’t even the second best Black card in this pack! No, there is little to no chance that I would be keen to pick this up.

 

Top 5 Cards

  1. Ruinous Path
  2. Complete Disregard
  3. Outnumber
  4. Tajuru Beastmaster
  5. Snapping Gnarlid

Ok folks, this is a pretty easy choice. Ruinous Path is the pick and highly incentivizes us to look at Black in order to make the most of this sort of highly efficient, extremely powerful removal spell. When this pack wheels there is almost no chance of seeing the Complete Disregard so we’ll need to look at other things. Bloodbond Vampire or the Mind Raker might be a choice as a reasonable body in Black, or I might have to look at another colour. B/G might be a fair colour combination and we might get either the Beastmaster, the Gnarlid, or the Baloth. That has some promise. The Blue in the pack looks a little underwhelming but B/U is a very strong colour combination if you can find the right pieces. So, I would be prioritizing Black at this point to try and cut off other players from jumping into Black but I would also have an eye towards keeping an open mind and spotting a strong second colour to pair with Black. However, if my next pack has some ridiculous strong card that I can’t ignore then I might need to re-evaluate my plan and try something a little different.

Well, there we have it. A pretty easy first pick Ruinous Path, but lots of options to weigh as we move forward as we try to maximize our deck. I can’t wait to get my next taste of the draft format because it seems to be so wide open and synergy based that it is fun, refreshing, and always challenging.

Thanks for taking the time to stop in and have a read and as always, have yourself a great MTG day!

 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

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