Tag: hammerhand

Roy Anderson Roy Anderson - January 28, 2015

How I Broke Into Magic Online

Monastery Swiftspear artwork - RDW aggro Standard

How I Broke Into Magic Online

By Roy Anderson

Magic Online (MTGO) is Wizards of the Coast’s digital version of Magic: the Gathering, for anyone who is unfamiliar. It is host to every format and card you can think of. On top of that, it allows you to play high-level magic at almost any time of day! Imagine my excitement when I first stumbled on this amazing software. However, there was one elephant (token) in the room that I just couldn’t remove and that was the cost to play.


Bringing down the cost

Like most people, I don’t have massive amounts of expendable income. I already play the paper version and almost never miss a Friday Night Magic (FNM) or Prerelease at my local game store (LGS.) This puts me in a position where, given my income, playing both online and offline regularly just isn’t going to happen. BUT WAIT! We have to at least try to get the most out of a limited budget. In this article, I am going to tell you how I broke into MTGO and grew my investment in order to limit the amount I would need to spend in the future.

So when I first looked at MTGO, I tried to figure out which events would give the most payout for the lowest investment. After evaluating my options, I figured out Standard queues would yield a reasonable amount of prizes with a relatively low risk. With this option, there was a small start-up cost, however, unlike draft, there was less capital needed to enter each tournament.

Obviously, if constructed is my game, I was in need of a deck. Since the name of the game was economics, the deck had to be cheap. I began looking at deck lists online and browsing Gatherer (Magic’s card database) in order to construct a list. Finally, I found a relatively cheap list that won a few standard tournaments in different forms and I figured I could make it work. What deck was it you ask? Well, it was none other than our good friend, Red Deck Wins (RDW)! After price checking the cards needed to construct this list, I had a thought. I am sure I can cut some corners and make it even cheaper! Eidolon of the Great Revel is a strong in RDW, however, the cost of a play set was high so I decided to take it out. I also replaced some slightly more efficient removal and changed the number of certain creatures in my list to reduce cost.

RDW Aggro Standard list by Roy Anderson


Now as you can probably see by this deck list, there is not too much power in this deck. The deck is mostly chalked full of cheap creatures with efficient removal/burn and ways to “punch through” to your opponents life total.  On the other side, you also probably don’t see too much cost in this deck either. This is especially true for MTGO as prices are scaled down slightly due to a smaller demand. The only card that is worth a decent amount of money are the Stoke the Flames. I found that card too important to cut as it has the potential to kill so many creatures in the format as well as burn enormous amounts of damage.



This sideboard may appear to be filled with crap, and to a degree, you would be correct. Some of the cards here are really cheap and poor answers to certain threats that the deck would otherwise lose too. For example, Torch Fiend for Whip of Erebos, Harness By force for midrange matchup, and Bring Low for Abzan (I guess). However, some of these cards are really big all-stars in the right matchup and no one ever sees some of them coming. Scouring Sands pings (deals one damage to) each creature your opponents control and gives you scry one for a nice cherry on top. This is very good against Jeskai Tokens, Aggro Mirrors, and also gave me some scraping wins by breaking me through a swarm of hornets. Searing Blood is also very efficient creature removal in the current standard format. This is another card that comes in against other creature decks.


Breaking it down

Overall, at the time of purchasing this deck, the overall cost was approximately 20 dollars. For anyone who plays Magic, they can’t help but smile at that price for a competitive deck. And let me assure you, this deck has beaten every deck in the format at least once. It has even taken down some unlucky souls who decided they wanted to try their hand at rouge brewing. There are two main reasons this deck is successful: Mana and Speed.

This deck has a much easier time with its’ mana compared to many of the decks in the format. Its’ mana is one of its strongest characteristics especially in a sea of three to five color decks. In fact, I won a chunk of games just because my opponent’s mana wasn’t well supported. Due to this deck being monocolored, you will never be unable to utilize your hand to its full potential. An even bigger upside is the cost of the creatures. Since the top of your curve is basically a two mana spell, land drops are not much of a problem even if you get land screwed. I often keep one land hands as long as I have a creature and a Titan’s Strength. The scry is usually enough to dig me to a second land before I need it.

The second great attribute this deck has is its’ amazing speed. It can close out games often before many decks can establish a strong board presence. By the time your opponent has one or two creatures, your Hammerhand and Frenzied Goblin will push your creatures through for the win. You will also have them at a low enough life total from suicide runs that a top deck Stoke the Flames is often enough.

Often times, this deck has a very explosive start. I think my favorite opening in the entire deck is as follows:

Turn One: Land, Swiftspear, and smash for one.

Turn Two: Land, Swiftspear, and smash with Titan’s Strength for five. Play another creature.

Turn Three: Mogis’s Warhound bestowed, hit for five more plus an additional one to two for your other creature.

Seems pretty scary huh? The great part is, I got this draw fairly often. In the worst cases, Valley Dasher or War-Name Aspirant would eat up my turn two. The worst creature you want to see hit the battlefield is a Sylvan Caryatid. Even when this happens, you can often grow your creatures big enough to punch through or just swarm past them. As far as I am concerned, it just slows me down.



Well, as I said, this deck gave me great success on MTGO. At the point of writing this article, my cumulative record with it in tournament queues (I practiced with it for a while before putting money on it) is a whopping thirteen to two. Not bad for such a cheap way to play.  Now, on MTGO, constructed queues require two tickets for entry and pay out one pack of Khan’s to the winner. A pack of Khan’s is currently worth approximately three tickets. Using my record as an example along with my initial 10 tickets left over from my thirty dollar investment, I am currently up nine tickets. With some serious grinding, assuming my record continued, you could make a massive profit. I know most people just want to use MTGO to draft. At least that is how it is for me. Anyway, you will earn a draft after about 30 – 40 games with some tickets to spare. I know that doesn’t sound like the most attractive option, but efficiency and lower variance almost never is. If you tried to do the same infinite drafting with limited, you would have to get first or second in every single draft. This is also factoring in the fact that all tournaments are single elimination. I guess an alternative solution would be to just pull a foil fetch every draft, however, we are sticking to a realistic approach.


More cheap fun

So I bet you are wondering, are there any other ways to play on MTGO without throwing money at it? Why yes, there actually is a way to draft for cheap that is much easier to play infinitely. This is in the form of Wizard’s various cubes that they host throughout the year.

In order to maximize fun and value, I always play in the swiss as opposed to the single elimination events. The reasons being: One, you will always get to play in all of your rounds giving you more time to enjoy some of the blasts from Magic’s past, and two, they are much easier to rinse and repeat. It is true that the single elimination cube drafts have actual older set pack payouts, however, they require at least a two to zero record. In addition, you will need tickets in order to draft that set with a two to zero record so, unless you get first, you still have to shell out two dollars. In the swiss events, you can just win two of any of your matches and it will allow you to gain free re-entry. These queues use a special currency called phantom points and you earn enough to hop right into another event after a two to one record.


Well, I hope this article helped you out and possibly pushed you to give MTGO a try. It will take a little time to learn how to effectively use the program, but once you get over that initial hump, your magic skills can take over. If anyone is interested in seeing MTGO play of either the legacy cube or the RDW I described earlier, please leave a comment below. I look forward to writing more for you guys next week as I have a column in the works but I am going to be on my way to GP San Jose next week so expect to hear about the main even in next week’s article!

Until next time, Happy Planeswalking!

By Roy Anderson
@Sockymans on Twitter
Avatar Bruce Gray - July 31, 2014

Crack a pack MTG Magic 2015 with Bruce

2015 core set booster packs - Crack a pack MTG

Crack a pack MTG Magic 2015 with Bruce

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Welcome back to another Crack a pack with Bruce.   I would like to first off apologize for being a little behind this week.  It being the summer and all I was away with my family, but I am back now and excited to Crack open a pack for all of you and to see what we find.  We’ve had some interesting packs in the last couple of weeks and if you want to catch up with things you can find those articles right here on Three Kings Loot. This week we’ll be opening a pack of M15 because it will now be the default draft environment if you are out in the shops.


M15 is an interesting set to draft because the overall power level of the cards is much more flat.  There are much fewer absolute bomb cards in this set, but there are also a much higher level of generally viable cards that can make spots in your deck and offer you some interesting twists mid-game.  Let’s take a look at what we’ve got in this pack.















Once again, this pack is a very mediocre pack.  There just are not any huge, obvious bombs in this pack that make it clear what direction you should be taking it.  The rare is Aggressive Mining which is a fine card, but is not something I would be looking for to start my draft off.  For starters, it’s an enchantment that has very little impact on the board when I cast it.  As I have said before, I want my first pick to be something that when I cast it I can tangibly see an impact on the board.  Aggressive Mining does very little initially.  Also, while the situation can arise in draft that you have too many land cards, I very rarely ever want to physically prevent myself from playing further land by casting Aggressive Mining.  Sure I can net some extra cards, but at what stage of the game am I comfortable doing that?  My initial sense is late in the game at which point Aggressive Mining is likely too late…or helping me to pour on the pressure because I’m out in front anyway.  It also isn’t even worth that much, so drafting it for value also falls short.  While Aggressive Mining is a neat card, and might have a place in a Constructed deck somewhere, for a draft I’ll pass and find something else.


So, what else grabs my attention.  Believe it or not, the card that gets my attention first is Frost Lynx.  This simple little 2/2 for 3 mana is exactly the sort of card I like to play in a draft.  It has a serviceable body at a decent cost and even comes with a very useful ability to “freeze” another creature.  While this guy isn’t flashy, he’s very useful and something that I can get behind.


Another card that I could see myself get on board with is Coral Barrier.  It seems weird to be ready to get behind a Defender, but 2/4 worth of power and toughness for 3 mana is good value, and if I can find a way to recur it I would be pretty happy.  Also, the squid token has Islandwalk which is surprisingly relevant.


The third card that grabs my eye is Encrust as a piece of reasonable removal for Blue.  There isn’t much to say about this card, but it is reliable and reasonably costed and always seems to do good work. Also, you might notice that this point, we’re three cards deep and they are all Blue meaning something from this pack might wheel because the other players at the table might not want to be grabbing Blue at this point.


Oreskos Swiftclaw is another decent body as a 3/1 for 2 mana.  He’s vanilla and hardly exciting, but if you want the aggressive body, he’s the guy for you.


Wall of Frost is the 4th Blue card that gets my eye and is another defender.  This one is another one that doesn’t need much in the way of discussion because he’s just solid, but not flashy at all.


Dissipate is a solid counterspell and something that I would be looking at to wheel.  I don’t prioritize counter magic too highly in a draft if I’m Blue, but it is nice to have a little in your deck to keep your opponent honest.


Verdant Haven can play a useful role to let you splash for another colour, but let’s be honest, this will likely be there late if you really want it.  I’ll take my chances on finding one later in the draft if I really want one.


Torch Fiend, Ornithopter and Soulmender are all sort of blah creatures that you’ll take in the last half of the round, but you won’t be getting excited over any of them.


Gather Courage is a solid Giant Growth type effect, but I’m not a huge fan and would really rather grab this much later when I know I have some bodies to target.


Sacred Armory is about the poorest card in the pack, which isn’t too bad.  It is still a playable card, but I’m not really excited about pumping my creatures for power only with this, but it could be a useful mana sink if you lack other options.


Top Five Cards

  1. Frost Lynx
  2. Oreskos Swiftclaw
  3. Wall of Frost
  4. Encrust
  5. Coral Barrier



First Pick


My first pick, as discussed, would NOT be the Aggressive Mining, mainly because I don’t think it does enough for me. I’d pass on it and see if it comes back to me.  No, my first pick in this pack would be Frost Lynx.  A serviceable body, a relevant ability and it doesn’t overly commit me to playing any one colour too heavily at this point.  It fits in almost any deck, even if I just need to splash it, and can impact the board quite significantly by freezing something else. As much as this isn’t an exciting first pick it is a reasonable choice.  Also, seeing the amount of Blue in this pack I might hope to see something else that is useable come around when the pack wheels.  Perhaps the Dissipate or Coral Barrier could still be there to give me another solid Blue card to add to my pile.


Well, there we have it…another week…another pack.  What would you have picked out of this pack?  Would you take your chances on the Rare?  Would you have gone with another of the Blue cards in this pack?  Something else?  Let me know…I’d love to hear what you guys think and what you feel should have been the first pick, so tweet at me and let me know.


Next time we’ll bust open another pack of M15 or a pack of Journey into Nyx…I haven’t decided, but once I do I’ll let you all know. Thanks for reading and until time may you crack nothing but mythic bombs!


by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twtitter
Avatar Three Kings Loot - January 7, 2014

M15 Core set spoiler- Card Gallery, Release notes and Artwork

Garruk M15 Core Set  Art 2M15 Core set spoiler- M15 Logo

Set Name Magic 2015—Core Set
Number of Cards 269
Prerelease Events July 12-13, 2014
Release Date July 18, 2014
Launch Weekend July 18-20, 2014
Game Day August 9-10, 2014
Magic Online Prerelease Events July 25-27, 2014
Magic Online Release Date July 28, 2014
Pro Tour Magic 2015 August 1-3, 2014
Pro Tour Magic 2015Location Portland, Oregon, USA
Pro Tour Magic 2015Formats Swiss:

  • Standard
  • Magic 2015 Draft

Top 8:

  • Standard
Official Three-Letter Code M15
Twitter Hashtag #MTGM15
Initial Concept and Game Design Aaron Forsythe (lead)
Max McCall
Shawn Main
Mike Gills
Jenna Helland
Final Game Design and Development Billy Moreno (lead)
Shawn Main
Adam Lee
Tom LaPille
Sam Stoddard
Languages English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
Available in Booster Packs, Intro Packs*, Clash Pack*, Fat Pack*

(* – Not available in all languages)

M15 Core set spoiler-  M15 symbol

[Set Review click here]

M15 Core set spoiler



Aegis AngelAjani's pridemateAjani the SteadfastAvacyn, Guardian Angelbattle masteryBoonweaver GiantcongregateDauntless River MarshalM15 Core set spoiler- Devouring LightM15 Core set spoiler- Divine FavorDivine VerdictEphemeral Shieldsfirst Responsegeist of the moorsHeliod's PilgrimHushwing GryffM15 Core set spoiler- Inspired ChargeKinsbaile SkirmisherMass CalcifyMarked by HonorMeditation PuzzleMidnight Guardoppressive raysoreskos swift clawParagon of New Dawnspillar of lightPreeminent CaptainPrismatic RuneguardRaise the AlarmRazorfoot GriffinResolute ArchangelReturn to the Rankssanctified chargeSelfless CatharSeraph of the MassesSerra AngelSolemn OfferingSoulmenderSoul of TherosSpirit Bondssungrace pegasusTriplicate SpiritsWall of EssenceWarden of the Beyond


Aeronaut TinkererAetherspoutsAmphin pathmageCancelChasm SkulkerChief EngineerChronostutterCoral BarrierdissipatedivinationEncrustEnsoul ArtifactFrost LynxFugitive Wizardglacial crasherhydrosurgeIllusory AngelInto the VoidinvisibilityJace, the Living GuildpactJace's IngenuityJalira, Master PolymorphistJorubai Murk LurkerKapsho KitefinsM15 Core set spoiler- Nimbus of the IslesMahamoti DjinnMaster of PredicamentsMercurial PretenderMilitary Intelligencemind sculptNegateParagon of Gathering MistsPeel from RealityQuicklingResearch AssistantSoul of Ravnicastatute of denialStormtide LeviathanM15 Core set spoiler- Turn to FrogVoid SnareM15 Core set spoiler- Wall of FrostWelkin Tern


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Act on ImpulseAggressive Miningaltac bloodseekerbelligerent sliverblastfire boltBorderland MarauderBrood KeeperBurning AngerChandra, Pyromastercircle of flameClear a PathCone of Flamecrowds favorCrucible of Fireforge devilFoundry Street Denizenfrenzied goblinFurnace WhelpGenerator ServantGoblin KaboomistGoblin RabblemasterGoblin RoughriderhammerhandHeat RayHoarding DragonInferno FistKird ChieftainKurkesh, Onakke AncientLava AxeLightning StrikeMiner's BaneRummagin GoblinParagaon of Fierce Defiancescrapyard mongrelSeismic StrikeShrapnel BlastShivan DragonSiege DragonSoul of ShandalarStoke the FlamesThundering GiantMight of the TyrantsTorch Fiend


carnivorous moss-beastCentaur CourserCharginf RhinoChord of CallingElvish mysticferal incarnationGarruk's PackleaderGather CourageGenesis HydraHornet NestHornet QueenHunter's AmbushHunt the weakInvasive SpeciesKalonian TwingroveLife's Legacyliving totemNaturalizenetcaster spiderNissa, Worldwakernissa's expeditionOverwhelmPlummetParagon of Eternal WildsPhytotitanranger's guileReclamation SageRestocksatyr wayfinderShaman of the SpringSoul of ZendikarSunblade Elfundergrowth scavengervenom sliververdant havenvineweftYisan, the Wanderer Bard


Avarice AmuletBrawler's PlateBronze SableConstricting SliverGargoyle SentinelGrindclockhaunted plate mailJuggernautOrnithopterObelisk of UrdHot SoupMeteoritePerilous VaultPhyrexian Revokerprofane mementorogue's glovessacred armoryScuttling Doom EngineShield of the AvatarSoul of New PhyrexiaStaff of the Death MagusStaff of the Flame MagusStaff of the Mind MagusStaff of the Sun MagusStaff of the Wild MagusThe Chain Veiltormod's crypttyrant's machinewill forged golem


Garruk, Apex PredatorSliver Hivelord


Battlefield ForgeCaves of KoilosLlanowar WastesShivan ReefYavimaya CoastDarksteel CitadelEvolving WildsForest 1Forest 2Forest 3Forest 4Island 1Island 2Island 3Island 4Mountain  2Mountain 1Mountain 3Mountain 4Plains 1Plains 2Plains 3Plains 4Radiant FountainSliver HiveSwamp 1Swamp 2Swamp 3Swamp 4Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth


Beast (Green) Token Beast Token Dragon Token Emblem Ajani Token Emblem Garruk Token Goblin Token Insect Token Land Mine Token Sliver Token Soldier Token Spirit Token Squid Token Treefolk Warrior Token Zombie Token

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015 Promo pack

Soul of ZendikarSoul of Ravnica - Promo

M15 Core set Artwork

 m15 core set spoiler- Garruk the slayer m15 core set spoiler- Hot Soup m15 core set spoiler Art 2 m15 core set spoiler Art 3 m15 core set spoiler - Peel from Reality M15 core set spoiler- Soul of Shandalar

Spectra WardSoul of new phyrexiaGarruk M15 Artwork

M15 Core set spoiler-  Three Kings Loot M15 pre-Orders


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