Tag: legacy

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Norman Fried Norman Fried - July 11, 2016

One Tribe to Rule Them All

Outside the Norm – One Tribe to Rule Them All

One Tribe to Rule Them All

Hey guys, I’m back! So after a long hiatus from Magic and an even longer one from the competitive scene my creative juices have started flowing and I just had to start up again. By the way I’m not just jumping into one format but I’ve been actively back in Standard, Modern and now stepping back again into my personal favourite which is Legacy. Now what could these three all possibly have in common? Well, I’m playing Eldrazi in every format currently and doing quite well with the massive titans and their spawn.

First off let’s take a look at Standard…

One Tribe to Rule Them All

U/R Eldrazi

This deck is a lot of fun for the one piloting it but less so for the one who has to try and stop it. Basically you just have to stay alive long enough and you have the tools to do it with your cheap counter magic and efficient removal, including the very powerful Kozilek’s Return, all of which plays at Instant speed. As long as you’re making your land drops the removal keeps you going long enough to drop down a walker to really get ahead or a Drowner of Hope to put some pressure as well as use the tokens to ramp. Once you have the mana, which can be as early as turn 6, you drop Ulamog and it’s pretty hard to lose from there especially as you get to exile your opponents bests two permanents and clock them with his ability as well as damage. This deck matches up well against the GW/x decks like Tokens or Company and is generally well positioned in the current meta due to the fact that you really don’t care what your opponent is doing, and really you just need to make it to turn 5-6 to snowball advantage.

 

Moving on to Modern…

One Tribe to Rule Them All

Bant Eldrazi

This Eldrazi deck isn’t strictly a ramp deck, yes you play a bit of ramp to power out your Eldrazi a bit faster BUT you are mostly an aggro deck which better creatures then other aggro decks and for cheaper too! It’s not uncommon to go turn two Thought-Knot Seer followed by a turn three Reality Smasher. That is an insane opening and an absurd clock that few decks can actually race against, not even taking into account the built-in disruption these monsters have! Looking at your opponents hand to exile one of their cards is already a solid ability then put that on a 4/4 body that can come out so quickly and it’s so amazing. The best part is if they kill it they don’t get that card back, yes they get to draw one at random but the card you stole is gone for good. Reality Smasher is a pain to deal with but you must because a 5/5 with haste and trample…well let’s just say it does a very good job of living up to it’s name while dealing with it is difficult at best. One of the cards that doesn’t get enough credit is Matter Reshaper because on defense or offense it’s just good and if the opposition isn’t playing Path then even if they get rid of it you get value. Easily the best card in the deck is Eldrazi Displacer giving your guys evaision, clearing your way for attack, actual removal for tokens, and abusing the hell out of Thought-Knot. He does it all and generally your opponent is going to try everything to get rid of him right away. Other key elements are Ancient Stirrings which hits almost every card in this deck and is arguably as good, if not better, here than it was in Tron and as a former Tron player that is saying something. Cavern of Souls makes control match-ups much easier and leaves them with a bunch of dead cards in hand while Eldrazi Temple itself is a straight-up ramp card. This deck is insane and provides a fast clock while causing some minor disruption all at the same time.

 

Finally looking to Legacy…

One Tribe to Rule Them All

Colorless Eldrazi!

So as you can see this list is very similar to the Modern list in terms of the creatures used but is much more explosive and you get to play with one of the most disruptive cards in the format. Whenever you are able to drop a turn one Chalice of the Void for one it can just absolutely ruin many decks. Like they are out, it is game over, moving on…that’s just how devastating the card can be. Decks like Storm which rely on one mana cantrips and Dark Ritual effects or decks that try to deal with your monstrous creatures without the help of Swords to Plowshares will be miserable. You also pretty much just get a win against decks like Burn and if you are on the play against Elves it just completely shatters their game plan. We also still get to play with Eye of Ugin and the sol lands making turn two Thought-Knot Seer scarily common. The other thing this deck can do because of Eye of Ugin is toss down a bunch of Mimics on one turn and next just play Reality Smasher for a quick end to the game. Another big advantage that this deck has over it’s Modern counterpart is the use of Jitte because when you have it combat for your opponent becomes just awful with no profitable way for them to do anything. This deck offers amazingly crippling disruption paired with a combo finish as one avenue to win or just big fast efficient creatures that can end games quickly and prevent your opponents from ending games as another.

These three powerful eldrazi decks have all been very fun to play and have been giving me amazing results. I will continue to pilot them for the foreseeable future, especially now that I have gotten my two byes from a Grand Prix Trial for a trip to Grand Prix Indianapolis for some Modern where I will hopefully be laying waste to the opposition (see what I did there? wastes?!? ahhh screw you it’s funny!)

Until next time…

Norman Fried
@NormanFried1
normanfried@live.ca

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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - February 15, 2016

Eternal Masters – Release notes, Gallery and Artwork

Eternal Masters Facebook bannersTKL_04_Cover_final

 

LogoEternal Masters symbol

Wizards of the Coast just dropped an A-Bomb on us with the upcoming release announcement of Eternal Masters !!! Now I know what you’re thinking, are we going to be getting our Dual Lands reprinted finally ?!?!? Sadly and obviously the answer to that question was already addressed in their announcement that no cards from the Reserved List will be reprinted in this set BUT we already know not one but TWO of the all-stars that are going to be in the set. It should be no surprise that both Wasteland and Force of Will are in and have already been previewed with some incredible new art, Force of Will having a reworking by the original artist Terese Nielsen. The most exciting aspect of this announcement is that they’ve decided to name it Eternal Masters and not Legacy Masters which leads me to believe that we could see some needed reprints of both Vintage and Modern staples as well. With four months to wait before the release of the set will be upon us you can be sure that there will be endless lists of speculation as to what we should expect to see but there are a few things that come to mind. I would be really excited to see any awesome reprints but some these seem like they are well overdue. It’s doubtless that cards like Show and Tell or Sneak Attack would be very well received. I’m certain nobody would complain about Snapcaster Mage or Sensei’s Divining Top and there’s definitely great choices of planeswalkers with either Liliana of the Veil or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. There’s also tons of utility cards like Flusterstorm, Abrupt Decay or Thoughtseize which could easily make the list. That doesn’t even begin to look at the possible lands like Karakas, Rishadan Port, Ancient Tomb or the notably absent from reprint so far ZendikarFetchlands. So no doubt the debate will rage on for months about what is and isn’t included in the set and all we can do is wait patiently and prepare, because if you haven’t already set yourself up with those Reserved List Eternal staples then pretty soon they’re going to be gone the way of the Dodo.

Set Name Eternal Masters

Number of Cards 249

Release Date June 10, 2016

Magic Online Release Date June 17, 2016

Official Three–Letter Code EMA

Twitter Hashtag #MTGEMA

Initial Concept and Game Design

Tom LaPille (lead)
Ethan Fleischer
Aaron Forsythe
Bryan Hawley

Final Game Design and Development

Adam Prosak (lead)
Sam Stoddard
Bryan Hawley

Languages Available English, Japanese, Chinese Simplified

MSRP $9.99

 

Eternal Masters Packaging

Eternal Masters Booster packs

Card previews

armadillocloak bloodfellcaves blossomingsands dismalbackwater duplicant emmessitome extractfromdarkness flamekinzealot glareofsubdual juggernaut junglehollow millikin mindlessautomaton pilgrimseye prismaticlens relicofprogenitus ruggedhighlands scouredbarrens sphinxofthesteelwind swiftwatercliffs thornwoodfalls1 thunderclapwyvern tickinggnomes torrentofsouls tranquilcove trygonpredator windscarredcrag wornpowerstone xantidswarm yavimayaenchantress zealouspersecutionduplicant emmessitome juggernaut millikin mindlessautomaton pilgrimseye prismaticlens relicofprogenitus tickinggnomes wornpowerstone xantidswarm yavimayaenchantressabundantgrowth brawn centaurchieftain civicwayfinder communewiththegods elephantguide elvishvanguard flinthoofboar fog harmonize hondenoflifesweb imperiousperfect invigorate llanowarelves lysalanahuntmaster naturesclaim rancor roarofthewurm roots sealofstrength sentinelspider silvosrogueelemental sylvanmight thornwealdarcheravarax battlesquadron beetlebackchief borderlandmarauder carbonize craterhellion desperateravings dragonegg faithlesslooting ferventcathar flamejab ghituslinger hondenofinfiniterage keldonchampion keldonmarauders kirdape moggfanatic moggwarmarshal orcishoriflamme pyrokinesis recklesscharge seismicstomp siegegangcommander stingscourger toothandclaw undyingrage youngpyromancerannihilate blightsoildruid1 bloodartist braidscabalminion carrionfeeder deadbridgeshaman duress eyeblightsending gravedigger havocdemon hondenofnightsreach lysalanascarblade maliciousaffliction nekrataal nightswhisper phyrexiangargantua phyrexianrager plaguewitch prowlingpangolin skulkingghost twistedabomination urborguprising victimize visarathedreadful wakeofvultures wakedancerarcanis the omnipotent cephalidsage deep analysis dreamtwist1 factorfiction futuresight gaseousform glacialwall hondenofseeingwinds inkwellleviathan jettingglasskite memorylapse merfolklooter peregrinedrake phantommonster phyrexianingester screechingskaab serendibefreet shorelineranger silentdeparture spritenoble stupefyingtouch tidalwave wardenofevosisle wonderbenevolent bodyguard calciderm coalition honor guard eight and a halftails elite vanguard faiths fetters field of souls glimmerpoint stag honden of cleansing fire humble intangible virtue jareth leonine titan kor hookmaster mistral charger monk idealist pacifism raise the alarm rally the peasants seal of cleansing second thoughts serra angel shelter soul catcher wall of omens war priest of thune welkin guide whitemane lionaven riftwatcher ballynock cohort brago king eternal Heritage Druidsulfuricvortexemperorcrocodile manowar innocentblood winterorbWildfire EmissaryAncestral Mask FireboltArgothian Enchantress Brainstorm Goblin Trenches Isochron Scepter Karmic Guide Price of Progress sinkholeBurning Vengeance Giant Solifuge Green Sun's Zenith Natural Order Nausea oonas grace Quiet SpeculationCall the Skybreaker hydroblast Pyroblast Squadron Hawk Wee DragonautsWrath of GodAshnod's Altar mystical tutor VoidChain LightningBaleful Strix Cabal Therapy Counterspell Dualcaster Mage Gaea's Blessing Giant Tortoise Hymn to Tourach Ichorid Maelstrom Wanderer Nevinyrral's Disk Prodigal Sorcerer Regal Force Rorix Bladewing Shardless Agent Unexpectedly Absent Vampiric Tutor Vindicate Control Magic Diminishing Returns Enlightened Tutor Entomb  Worldgorger DragonMaze of IthMana Crypt sylvan librarytoxicdelugegamblebloodbraidelfchromemoxdazedeathriteshamangoblincharbelcherjacethemindsculptornecropotencenimblemongoosesneakattackForce Of WillWasteland

 

Artwork Gallery

Eternal Masters Artwork 1x

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
ejseltzer@hotmail.com

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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - November 25, 2014

Jeskai Stoneblade by Brian Braun-Dunn (1st at Grand Prix New Jersey Le...

Champion’s Deck 

Treasure Cruise - Jeskai Stoneblade

Jeskai Stoneblade by Brian Braun-Dunn

1st at Grand Prix New Jersey Legacy on Nov. 16th 2014

It was a daily double last weekend with Treasure Cruise decks winning both this and the Modern GP in Madrid. Despite that though there was not an abundance of Treasure Cruise swarming the top 8 with a total of 10 copies between 4 decks, and they were each a distinct archetype. It wasn’t even the bogeyman UR Delver which won which was the other deck running the full 4 copies and there was an amazing diversity between all 8 decks.

The core of this deck comes from the supreme artificer Stoneforge Mystic and the two singleton targets she has with Batterskull and Umezawa’s Jitte. The main line of attack, if your coast is clear, would be to search for the Batterskull and then beat your opponent to death with it and because the Mystic will cheat it in the actual cost is irrelevant. Now there is a caveat to the end of the last statement where you may be concerned with Mystic eating a removal spell which is where you can easily search instead for Jitte which can be easily cast if necessary. A natural contender to carry said Jitte is found in the pair of True-Name Nemesis that can easily connect to start the counters accumulating on the Jitte. There is also a full set of Young Pyromancer who’s natural synergy with the 30 instants and sorceries will have little trouble finding a suitable suitor to suit up these pieces of equipment. Speaking of the spells this deck is rife with card draw sporting full sets of Brainstorm, Ponder, Gitaxian Probe and especially newcomer Treasure Cruise all there to help you burn through your deck to find all the gas. Then there is a modest counter suite with a full set of Force of Will, a pair of Spell Pierce and even a couple of maindecked Pyroblast as a concession to the abundance of Treasure Cruise expected in the meta. Then we round it off with removal finding trios of both Lightning Bolt and Swords to Plowshares as the most efficient while providing a little extra reach.
Now while this deck is certainly no new concept the appearance of Treasure Cruise has done a lot to ripple the otherwise fairly stagnant waters of Legacy. Don’t expect a huge upheaval of the format but it’s always interesting when thing change for better or for worse. If you like tempo style decks this is definitely a well rounded deck which has a ton of game and is fun to play. But don’t be surprised if the meta continues to warp hate in your direction as it continues to suppress Treasure Cruise weilding selections.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Daniel Clayton Daniel Clayton - September 4, 2014

The Pinnacle: Designing Monstrosities (Part 2)

Progenitus - Top creatures in Magic the Gathering

The Pinnacle: Designing Monstrosities (Part 2)

Top creatures in Magic the Gathering

By: Daniel Clayton – The Will of the Floral Spuzzem
(Link to part 1)

Today I want to talk about some of the most utilized creatures in the game as a whole and what makes them good. I’ll also try to pull some decks in and show just how good they are with their performance throughout time since their printing. Some of the cards on this list are a part of the most expensive cards in the game club while others are not quite as flashy. My requirement is that they are creatures and they have had some type of impact on the game at some point. While I will try my best to put the best creatures in the game on my list I am only human and as such make mistakes so I apologize in advance if your favorite did not make it on my list. As this is a type of card versus a specific card I figured I would drop them out in a top 6 list going from number 6 to number 1. I’ll also be pulling in some honorable mentions from throughout the years. In the previous article we started talking about creatures numbers 6 through 4 and some decks that they exist in that have done fairly well in over the years. To give a little review, at number 6 we had our super mana-producing creatures Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary and Metalworker with a spotlight on a powerful and fast deck: Metalworker (MUD). Sitting at number 5 we went over our unique creatures Arcbound Ravager and True-Name Nemesis, as well as the uniquely difficult decks that they exist in. Finally, sitting at number 4 is our combo creatures Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Stoneforge Mystic, along with the powerful modern creation Kiki-Angel deck (My name for it… I think). In this article we’ll hit numbers 3 through 1 and try to find out what the best creature in the game is… well the best one in my opinion anyway.

 

Honorable Mention

Progenitus

In the early days of Magic they printed a card called Oath of Druids and a whole deck was designed around it. The deck became a huge contender long after it was printed, the major idea of the deck was your opponent put out one creature then you could cheat the most powerful creature in your deck into play. This card and others like it made the deck a huge challenge for its time. One of the major fuels for the deck was Forbidden Orchard, a Legendary Land from Kamigawa that tapped for one mana of any color and put a 1/1 colorless spirit token into play under your opponent’s control. This card exists as part of a triumvirate of the most powerful creatures in the game. With protection from everything and the creature being a 10/10 it’s almost always an unstoppable 2 turn clock.

 

Deck:

 

So the major idea for this deck is to get Oath online and then win by taking infinite turns with Time Vault, and swinging for victory with the Progenitus. This deck is almost card for card the same deck that was created by Starcity games a while ago, with a couple differences to suit my own tastes; the two differences are the adding in of Progenitus and the adding of Tezzeret. Tezzeret combined with Time Vault is basically a win condition on its own; it acts as a replacement for Voltaic Key and even does it better than Voltaic Key sometimes; it can be put into exile to activate Force of Will; and his final creates attackers if you don’t have any others. I put in Progenitus, because if I can get it online on my turn and I’ve got infinite turns it’s almost impossible to stop. If you do decide to get into Vintage and build this deck there just note that it typically gets beaten out by more true to name control decks for their ability to counter spells and abilities.

 

 

Number 3

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Blightsteel Colossus

Clocking in at number 3 are the other members of the triumvirate, and also the 2 strongest creatures in the game, these cards are so powerful in fact that many decks that run these two creatures don’t typically run too many other win conditions. Emrakul is so powerful for all of the things that he has; the strongest creature in the game at 15/15, he can’t be countered, he grants you an extra turn when he’s cast, he has flying, protection from colored spells and most importantly he has annihilator 6 (this means your opponent sacrifices 6 permanents every single time he attacks). To show you how good this creature is it is the creature that has replaced Progenitus in almost every deck that Progenitus has held sway over in the past. At 15 power it wins the game in two swings and can take down just about anything that blocks it, and at 15 toughness there aren’t many things that can take it down in a fair fight. Flying gives this card a fair amount of evasion, and the protection from colored spells gives him protection from most of the removal that he has to deal with; the ability to take an extra turn means that this card has an ability which is strictly better than haste. The real ability that wins games is none of these however, Annihilator 6 is the knife that ends the games in most situations; it is typically just too hard to recover from sacrificing 6 permanents and blocking with one for you to fight against this card in most situations. On the other side of the bench is one of the only creatures that has an ability to deal with Emrakul reliably, Blightsteel Colossus; this is the other member of the triumvirate and is my personal favorite. He is big, he is bad and he is the card that ran to replace Darksteel Colossus. He is an 11/11 for 12 with Trample and Infect; he is indestructible and if by some off chance he would be put in a graveyard, he is shuffled back into his owner’s deck instead. This is one of those cards that typically wins the game the first turn he’s out, unless your opponent finds an answer the game is over before they can find one. These are the two most powerful creatures in the entire game based on brute strength. Now if we compared how good cards are by how well they are able to defeat other cards of the same type then these two would be the most powerful cards in the game hands down, but they don’t do much for you early to mid-game if you don’t trick them out leading to their rating of 3 instead of 1As for a deck list for these two look up the last article to see Blightsteel Colossus in the Metalworker deck and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn easily takes over Progenitus’s spot in the Oath of Druids variant.

 

 

Honorable Mention

Dark Confidant and Snapcaster Mage

Now, I’m sure there are some of you wondering why these two cards did not make the list, surely there are cards on this list that are less than these two creatures and the short answer is debatably yes there are worse cards on this list than these 2 cards, but I wanted to show diversity of creatures and different scales on which they could be graded, essentially where the essence of the most powerful creatures in the game fit when compared to the essence of the other most powerful creatures in the game, as for why these 2 cards aren’t taking up the spot for their creature essence type, that will become apparent when I reveal our number 2 card; the overall theme of this card is card advantage. These two cards have become staples in just about every format they are legal in, in just about every deck that has their color, and for good reason.

 

Number 2

Griselbrand

People have been calling for this card to get banned almost since its printing as many people complain that it’s just too powerful. The card is beautiful and simple, but a post-editing R&D pulled the card away from too broken card-hood; it’s a 7/7 Flyer with Lifelink that you can pay 7 life to draw 7 cards, so obviously it costs 7 to go with the theme? Wrong, it costs 8 mana probably to keep it from once again being too broken. But does increasing its mana cost make the card unbroken? According to many of the players who have been faced down by the Demon not by a long shot. With tons of ways to cheat this into play the card may be facing the ban-hammer one day very soon, but for now it sits in a very powerful spot at number 2 on our list. The traditional list for Griselbrand involves ways to cheat it out and runs alongside the ever-powerful Emrakul, and a lot of the time people would much rather have a Griselbrand rather than an Emrakul. The reason for that is the draw ability which lets you draw almost a quarter of your deck in just a turn, it costs you some life, but the trade-off is easily worth it, especially when you consider he regains you the life you lost for drawing 7 cards. This card is so strong it’s not even funny. Plus when you consider the fact that in the 7 cards you draw another Griselbrand shouldn’t be too far off from feasible in just your first try. The flavor text on the card seems fitting for not only his opponents in the story but also for any player who’s had the misfortune of being faced down by this demonic power house. For this deck I look back to 2013 and look at a deck that took 1st place Sneak and Show.

 

Sneak and Show Legacy Decklist

 

The major game plan of the deck is to get a Sneak Attack or Show and Tell online and put an Emrakul onto the field and win the game from there. The deck may pretty much be a one-trick pony, but who needs other tricks if it works? The deck is highly competitive and the inclusion of Griselbrand makes the deck much, much faster. Everything in the deck, Griselbrand included, is used either to get pieces for your combo, to defend your combo or to get your combo out sooner. It is a very aggressive and powerful deck.

 

To Recap

I’m pretty sure at this point just about everyone can think of at least one of the cards at our number one spot, but let’s go through our list one more time in case you missed one. At number 6, we have Rofellos and Metalworker or just mana producing creatures in general, being able to ramp is a powerful ability and these two seem to do it better than anyone else, they may not get you there by themselves but they’ll provide the fuel to do it. At number 5, we have Arcbound Ravager and True-Name Nemesis, these creatures may not be the biggest they may not offer much by themselves, but for their weirdness and uniqueness you have to give it up to these 2 powerhouses, capable of getting in there and pulling out a game for their sheer adaptability as hard to hit and hard to get rid of is the name of the game with these lovable weirdos. At number 4 sits our combo suite, with cards like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and Stoneforge Mystic; these two powerful cards may be almost useless by themselves, but in the right deck these two grow to legendary proportions and can hold their own in any fight. At number 3, are our Heavy Hitters, these are cards that are nearly unparalleled in their power and winning potential, not much needs to be said about these 2 goliaths. Sitting lonely at number 2 is the diabolic Griselbrand, a card which is so powerful it’s being called for a banning in Legacy by some players, a format where Jace, the Mind Sculptor is legal.

 

 

Number 1

Tarmogoyf and Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration

I’m sure that the Tarmogoyf might have been expected as it is currently the most expensive creature in the game, but people may find Delver of Secrets a little bit more exciting. If we had to name this category of creatures, it would probably be cheap, efficient beaters. It might be surprising to people to find out that when Tarmogoyf first came out it was actually one of the lower cards in the set. Goyfs with similar abilities had been seen before and none of them had been very good, so people logically thought that Tarmogoyf would follow suit, but he didn’t and has turned himself into a staple in just about every deck that runs green and is allowed to be played in. He didn’t even start off that strong with the inclusion of planeswalkers and fetch lands in Modern buthe’s truly built himself up as a powerhouse. He is mostly commonly run in the current mondern deck Jund:

 

Jund modern decklist:

 

With only a few exceptions the lands in the deck are used to either find or produce mana. The exception to this is Raging Ravine, which is in the deck not only to produce mana, but also to act as a reliable way to get in for some damage. Courser of Kruphix allows for fixing of your draw, lifegain and a slightly more reliable way to get out mana each turn. Scavenging Ooze, while it is sort of a counterpart to Tarmogoyf, acts as both a potential big beater creature for cheap and potential life gain. The Dark Confidant acts as card draw and can be a beater if you need him to. Chandra and Liliana basically act as a mop for anything you miss with the rest of your cards and can even deal a little bit of damage themselves. Almost all of the Instants and Sorceries are aimed at making your opponent discard, dealing damage to them or having a reliable way to deal with any problems you might run into for the most part. Overall, the deck just acts as a get in there type of deck getting in there for quite a little bit of damage between Tarmogoyf and Scavenging Ooze.

More surprising to readers might be my choice of Delver of Secrets, but of course if you’ve been to Legacy, Vintage or Modern tournaments recently you’d probably be less surprised by this choice. There aren’t many flyers in the game that cost 1 to play unless they come with drawbacks or are 1/1’s or less. There is only one flyer in the game that has none of these and is in fact a 3/2. The card is outstanding for control decks, which typically only want to get 1 creature on board and just keep up the clock by slowly wasting your opponent’s life and this card performs this duty heroically. This card just placed first in a Legacy tournament on July 6th of this year in

 

American Delver Legacy decklist (UWR Delver)

 

The lands in this deck are used exclusively to either produce mana or find other lands. I have seen a lot of variants of this deck that run basic lands in the main board just in case the opponent runs Path to Exile. Other variants of this deck run Green instead of White while some stay dual colored with only Red and Blue. This deck, however is an American variant of the Delver deck that runs only Red, White, and Blue mana. The True-Name Nemesis is a card that we went over earlier in the article and you can read about it there, but in this deck it gets in for a hit each turn which can mean a lot especially when equipped with an Umezawa’s Jitte and is exceedingly hard to kill. The Delver of Secrets in this deck mean that you are going to be able to deal 3 damage each turn pretty reliably from turn 2 on. Finally, the Stoneforge Mystic in the deck basically acts as a combo on its own fetching up various equipment from your deck and is able to put them directly onto the battlefield for cheap, and it is the reason that the deck runs the 2 artifacts that it runs. Umezawa’s Jitte is a powerful card that earned a banning when it first came out for just being too good. The card basically does just about everything you’d want a card to do as soon as it gets to hit an opponent, it acts as removal, makes your creatures bigger, and gains you life. Realistically, the only 2 things you could want more of are static abilities (Flying, First Strike, etc) and card draw. On the other side of the artifact spectrum is Batterskull, which acts as a reliable blocker through vigilance, reliable life gain through lifelink, and recursion through its activated ability to return to your hand; when coupled with Stoneforge Mystic, these two cards can be a powerful one-two-punch. The sorceries in the deck act as both knowledge generator, whether that knowledge come in the form of knowing what your opponent has (Gitaxian Probe) or knowing and controlling what you’re going to draw next (Ponder), and card draw (both Gitaxian Probe and Ponder). The instants in the deck either act as removal (Lightning Bolt and Swords to Plowshares), Card Draw/Knowledge Generation/Card Fixing (Brainstorm), or Counterspells (Spell Pierce, Daze, and Force of Will).

By Daniel Clayton – the Will of the Floral Spuzzem
@DC4VP on Twitter
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Daniel Clayton Daniel Clayton - July 17, 2014

Burning Up or Burning Out: The power of the number three

Red Deck Wins primer - Goblin Guide

Burning Up or Burning Out: The power of the number three

By: Daniel Clayton – The Will of the Floral Spuzzem

 

Red Deck Wins Primer

Very soon now Magic fans, we will exist in a world without Return to Ravnica and what a different world it’s going to be; the old script of decks and tournament play will be scrapped and we’ll return to the primordial ooze of deck construction. Return to Ravnica was a powerful format and it is responsible for staples spread out throughout standard right now; you’ve got power houses such as Sphinx’s Revelation, Desecration Demon, and Pack Rats (You can probably tell which decks I played and hated based on this list). Now, let me begin by prefacing that I really don’t like this format, and I don’t presume to call myself an expert on it, so I won’t begin to tell you about decks that are going to either become dominant or stay dominant until the end of the tournament season. I have, however been playing in tournaments (Not gigantic tournaments, but mostly local events, a few larger) long enough to notice certain trends. One example of these trends is control typically taking hold or seeing more play towards the end of the first or second set in a block. Another trend you typically notice is at the beginning of a new block is a shift to one of the most powerful decks in the most powerful color. The deck is of course Red Deck Wins (RDW) and it can be seen to some extent in almost every single block in one form or another; today I’m going to talk a little bit about the ideas behind this deck both from a flavor and an actual game play perspective, and then I’m going to examine some of the decks played by various players played throughout Standard, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage and try to apply some of the principles behind each of these cards.

 

 

Burning Up or Burning Out

This is the decidedly nerdy part of the column, so if you’re just looking for deck construction or points about RDW you can skip ahead to the next section. What is a red mage? A red mage is an individual usually of innate talent, who while not unintelligent, is often motivated and powered by their very tempestuous emotions. They do not act based on what may be considered pure or intellectual, but act based on their own personal code of ethics, personality, and mindset at that time. Red mages may be considered individuals who can be quick to anger, quick to appease, and overall very mercurial in their range of emotions; this isn’t to say that they aren’t loyal. Their loyalty belongs to individuals over organizations and they treasure the bonds to those that they are close to over the traditional organizational bonds that people typically give value to. As their power and their actions are based off of their emotions, these individuals are the most likely to “burn” themselves when it comes to their power, often times losing themselves in the throes of their power and succumbing to anger, fear or hatred. As a side note, it is not often that a red mage would tend to spend time in books studying or honing their skill, but tend to just fall back on their natural talent and strong emotion to win the day for them. All of these characteristics are reflected heavily in the game. The very concept of a red mage is fire and just like a fire, if you play red there’s a very good chance that you’re going to burn yourself out of tournament play. If you think about the various resources you have available to you in the game (I’ll explain all of these in greater detail in a later article), but red typically seems to draw its power from your current state of mind (your hand) and thinking about this from a flavor perspective, your emotional state begins by flaring up and giving you a large swathe of power, but you begin to tire quickly from expending too much mental energy from such emotions and your power begins to wane quickly. (burning out) Even the depth of cards in red lends itself to the flavor of the red mage in a very strong way; red mages typically have one or two strategies for solving problems, burn it or break it, and a red mage is not typically going to spend time examining the depths of their power meaning that the depth of things you can do in red is also pretty limited. Even all the way down to how well the decks place in tournaments is very conducive of the flavor or the red element; a very powerful contender, but not a winner over the hard work and diligence of another color except with a few very talented red mages.

 

 

The Most Powerful Color

I may be wrong and I may be biased, but I truly believe this to be the most powerful color in the entire game of Magic. I will say fair enough that decks of this color typically tend to fall flat on their face, but there’s a reason for that; the decks don’t have consistency. The printing of cards for this color is really only missing one thing and that’s the ability to draw or at least order your deck. There are exceptions, but for the most part those are either bad for one reason or another (Faithless Looting or Magma Jet), or they have a ridiculously high mana cost. (Past in flames) Even those these cards are either very expensive to play or have large downsides to them, I’m sure you’ve seen them run in plenty of decks and the reason for that is that they just make red so much better that you can’t not use them. Now let’s all address the 35-ton gorilla in the room, surely even with consistency problems why don’t the decks win more, I mean if they’re that good. Well, consistency is half of the equation, and probably a larger problem than you give it credit for (It’s what gives you games where all you do is draw mana, a death sentence in red), but the other half of the equation is that almost every deck has built in side board options just to deal with red. Red is the reason that Kitchen Finks is run for the most part; siding against RDW is even run in some RDW that runs white. If you don’t believe me then put together one of the decks that I’ve got listed below and run it against one of your own decks and see how you fair without your side board. I know there are special exceptions, decks that just run faster (Tron, Metalworker, Affinity, Monoblack Devotion, etc.) but by and large the basic shell of RDW is equipped to deal with most decks in a straight fight.

 

The Beginner’s Deck

Let’s just make this point clear, yes RDW is extremely easy to run and yes it is used by people who are just getting into the game for reasons we’ll get into in just a second, but that doesn’t mean that it takes no skill to win with one; if you lose to it, it means there was some flaw or error in your play or deck that allowed you to be overrun by the red deck; they exist out there and if as opposed to coming up with a game plan and a side board, you just spend your time whining about how you lost to the deck, then you’ll never overcome your flaws when it comes to playing against red. Now that that’s said, choosing to play red is a very difficult choice, it is a color that will screw you eventually and refuse to play for you some games, just out of the blue. The other thing that you have to understand about red is that it is a mathematician’s deck; while white may have rule-makers, blue may have strategists, green may have conquerors and black may have tyrants, it is actually red that has the mathematicians. The red deck is designed to do more with less and work around a single number, the number 3. This is a deck that revolves around somewhere between 3 to 4 turn wins as consistently as possible by running cards that typically cost 1 to 3 mana, and deal about 3 damage. But why is this 3 so important? Well you might as well call it the Magic number in Magic; with most of the powerful stabilizing spells sitting at 4 to 5 mana, and decks typically taking the same amount of time to stabilize (begin to fight back against aggro strategies) this is the amount of time decks straight aggro decks have to pump in their hits consistently. Now, you’re probably asking yourself why 3 damage or 3 mana? In a typical hand over the course of 4 turns you will see 10 cards; that is the latest average time a straight aggro deck has to win a game, before stabilization can really begin. Taking into account that you want to play 1 mana until you have about 3 mana on field, that leaves you with 7 cards, or 6 if you played 1 mana every turn for 4 turns. In these 4 turns with 7 cards you have to deal 20 damage, meaning that you have to deal 3 damage with 6 cards, at least and 2 damage with your last card to take out the minimum amount of life. Alternatively, if you have 6 cards in hand, you have to deal 3 damage with 4 cards and 4 damage with 2 cards in order to take out the minimum amount of life. Did you know that this is one of the healthiest decks in the game of Magic? With most of your games lasting somewhere between 4 and 5 turns either way, decks like this allow you to do other things while competing in tournaments and can help you keep healthy by giving you time to go get something to eat or hang out with friends between rounds. Not to mention, your typical red burn runs with much cheaper cards than other decks in the same format, allowing newer players a chance to get more accustomed to the basic rules of the game before purchasing an expansive complicated deck that they may not understand.

 

 

Deck construction

There are a few archetypes of RDW that are run, and I will now attempt to explain each one:

  1. Burn: This is the least expensive and usually most aggressive of all RDW strategies. Trading almost all of its board presence for quick hits that deal damage and then go away. The name of the game is to get in there, and deal damage before your opponent can do anything.
  2. Goblins: One of the strongest creature types of all times, this deck tries to set up a strong assault that buffets your opponent and knocks them so far off their feet that by the time they recover, the game is already over. As a side note, this is one of the most powerful archetypes of all time, having one of the only tribal spells in existence on the banned list in Legacy; elves is the other contender for your information. This deck archetype is part of a larger type known as RDW creature agro; a sub-archetype in which you run a creature base supported by instants and sorceries.
  3. Mid-range: This odd deck runs more middle of the road cost Red cards. The deck is aimed to have power houses that don’t cost as much as other formats, just designed to get there and win the game; these cards are oftentimes backed up by a formidable removal suite capable of dealing with most of your adversaries’ cards.

 

 

Burn: Charlie Mitchell

First in our example of decks is a deck which took 4th in a Legacy open in Worchester on 06 July 2014.

The decklist is as follows:

 

As you can probably tell by looking, this is a deck that is designed to knock opponents off their feet and then keep them there, Goblin Guide, a powerhouse in almost every format in Red allows you to almost always get in 4 damage before he’s stopped. Grim Lavamancer acts as extra damage for all of the used up cards in your graveyard. Eidilon of the Great Revel works to punish players for playing cards with some of the most common mana costs in the whole format. One thing you’ll notice about the mana base of almost all red decks is the fact that they don’t run many lands compared to the whole of the deck, and they use fetch lands to try to thin the amount of lands that you will draw throughout the course of your game. Sulfuric Vortex not only deals damage to your opponent each turn, but it also stops your opponent from being able to gain life a powerful advantage over your opponent. Fireblast is a ridiculous spell that at the cost of 2 mountains deals 4 damage to something of your choice, which can mean the end of the game for your opponent in a lot of situations. Price of progress punishes players for playing the best and most commonly run type of lands in the format. Searing Blaze not only acts as outstanding creature removal, clearing a path for your creatures to swing and dealing 3 damage to your opponent at the same time. The rest of the cards main deck are typically used to just get in 3 damage the face to your opponent and push you one step closer to victory. As for the side board, you have Vexing Shusher (Stop your opponent from stopping you), Satyr Firedancer (Damage a creature each time you deal damage to a player), Mindbreak Trap (No more searching), Red Elemental Blast (Blue is a pain), and Smash to Smithereens (Metalworker ends games). Overall, this is a very powerful deck that places very well typically despite its consistency and hate issues, the one change I would issue would be to try to include 4 Vexing Devils in the deck, but I’m not sure where I would squeeze them in.

 

 

Goblins

 

 

This is a goblin deck of my own creation, because Goblins have apparently fallen out of flavor with the game, I still love the deck and it still is competitive with the right side board. This deck like most of the decks of the same type tries to leverage the damage-dealing ability of its creatures to get in for enough damage to win the game before the opponent has the chance to get back on their feet. Ember Hauler is a powerful card, allowing you to swing in for 2 with the option to pop him and deal 2 extra damage to target creature or player. The Goblin Bushwacker appears with the ability to pump up all your red creatures, give them haste and pump up their power by 1. Goblin Chieftain allows you to get in there for as much damage as possible, by giving all your goblins haste and +1/+1. Goblin Guide, Searing Blaze and Lightning Bolt are strong for reasons previously mentioned. Spikeshot Elder is one of those rare hidden gems, being able to deal his power to target creature or player and being able to be used as many times as you want per turn, he has the ability to burn down opposing creatures and players, making him almost always a great play and also giving you a sink for all your extra mana. Legion loyalist further pumps all of your creatures and gives them first strike and trample, stopping your opponent from being able to just chump block and trade for all of your goblins. Then, you have Goblin Rabblemaster which will not only generate board presence for you, but will also swing in for a powerful hit when surrounded by other goblins. After that you have Goblin Grenade, at 5 damage for a goblin and 1 red mana, this card doesn’t really need any more explaining than that. You want to avoid drawing lands in this type of deck and that accounts for the lack of lands in the deck and the filterability of Arid Mesa mixed with the fact previously stated accounts for why there are so few lands in the deck. The last card in the deck, the Teetering Peaks allow you to burst your creatures quickly without having to lose a land spot and the 2 extra damage is a big help; can also boost Spikeshot Elder for a powerful ability enhancer. The sideboard of my deck deals with most of the difficulty that my deck typically ran into; affinity is a huge problem in Modern, so by running Shattering Spree, we attempt to slow them down long enough for us to take the win. Blood Moon or Sowing Salt is my way to deal with Tron and most other decks that are based around non-basic lands. Surgical Extraction is my way to deal with all of the combo decks that I don’t have another plan against yet, such as second sunrise back in the day; the card also helps against decks that base themselves around the graveyard and is a handy tool against Tarmogoyf. Dismember is really my only defense against creatures with protection from red as well as large creatures that goblins can’t really deal with. Finally, Pyrewild Shaman is my one card combo against Control, pumping what needs pumping and being uncounterable and instant speed, being a creature when I need another creature, returning to my hand to do things more than once every time I deal damage to an opponent, and being a goblin forever; working into the overall strategy of my deck. The only card that I left out which warrants inclusion in the main board of the deck is Arc Trail, just a value card with the ability to be heroic in the mirror match as well as a great solution to most of your infect decks.

 

 

By the Will of the Floral Spuzzem
@DC4VP on Twitter 
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - June 27, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Legacy Burn by Brian Cambidge (1st at SC...

Legacy Burn - Eidolon of Great Revel

 

Legacy Burn by Bryan Cambidge

1st Place at StarCityGames Legacy Open on 6/22/2014

It is truly bizarre how the recent successes of Red decks in Standard seems to be porting over to Legacy. While this is very far from a new deck and also not unheard of to win in Legacy, it is not one of the dominant strategies. What it is though is a strategy which has been the identity of Red decks over the last twenty years through the history of magic. It is simple in design but requires the skill of a practiced mage in order to bring it to victory. But the framework of Legacy Burn is often the same as it uses only the very best of the best that Red has to offer.

 

While the Legacy Burn has more then twice as many instant or sorceries spells then non-land permanents there are some very deadly ones that are showcased here. The first is what has been dubbed as the best red creature printed with Goblin Guide as not only a source of hasty beats but also provides some valuable information about what’s coming up for the opponent. We also find Grim Lavamancer which with a mass of cheap spells and some fetchlands will often find the fuel for its fire from the graveyard to close out the opponent very quickly. The other creature in the deck is relative newcomer Eidolon of the Great Revel which is so deadly given the spells in the format generally all fall under three mana and therefore even to try and remove him is going to cause the opponent to feel the burn in the process. There is also a pair of Sulfuric Vortex which are most especially needed against lifegain otherwise you’d be entirely blown out by a simple Batterskull and the extra damage each turn is gravy. Then we get into the spells which fall into one of three categories: Burn, Burn or Burn !!! You have all the three points for one mana all-stars with the classic Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Rift Bolt and Lava Spike. Against any decks running creatures it’s not hard to trigger Landfall on Searing Blaze to not only blast the creature but also dome the player for an additional three. With so many decks running dual lands and other non-basics Price of Progress can easily count for anywhere between four to eight damage which will end games very quickly. And as a very efficient finishing move you’re able to sacrifice some Mountains instead of paying for Fireblast to burn up those last remaining points of life and fry up your opponent.

 

The best part of Legacy Burn is that you’re able to pull it together so affordably as the only real cost comes from the fetchlands which are certainly not the same as loading up on dual lands. While it may not be storming out a combo or cheating out a fattie, it is still a fun and efficient deck that is very useful as an entry point into Legacy. I would highly recommend this deck if you are looking to dip your toe into the Legacy pool for a taste as you’ll be spending a fraction of what the other decks cost. And definitely have a good time with this deck and use it as a way to learn what you like about the formats other decks.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - June 4, 2014

UWR Delver Legacy by Craig Krempels (1st at SCG Somerset on May 25th 2...

Champion’s Deck

Batterskull Grand Prix Promo artwork - UWR Delver Legacy

UWR Delver legacy by Craig Krempels

1st Place at StarCityGames Legacy Open on 5/25/2014

The Legacy format is filled with cheap and efficient cards as it has access to the best ever printed over the entire history of the game. This deck is one of those that takes full advantage of that fact to pull together a cast of the top choices creating a highly disruptive killing machine. It pulls together permission, removal and draw to quickly dispatch all enemies that stand in its way. It’s no surprise whenever a deck of this style takes down a tournament.

Quite possibly the best Blue one drop ever printed, and quite aggressively out of Blue flavor, we have Delver of Secrets supported by an almost 50/50 split on spells which will be able to blind flip it turn two so you’re able to commence with the beatdown plan. Follow that up with True-Name Nemesis which demands the opponent to find an answer to it or they will definitely die to that unchecked clock. Both of them are supported by Stoneforge Mystic who is able to either search up an Umezawa’s Jitte to equip one of your attackers or find you a Batterskull to commit further to your beatdown plan. Next we speed up the deck with an abundance of card draw starting with the perennial Brainstorm, coupled with Ponder and Phyrexian freebie Gitaxian Probe which also provides you a sneak peek at the opponents plans. The deck also packs a very robust permission package centering around another format staple and free spell Force of Will, backed up by also free Daze and cheap but disruptive Spell Pierce. Then we round out the deck with top quality removal with the main reason this deck dips into Red with Lightning Bolt and also the classic Swords to Plowshares which will convienently exile most any creatures which are presenting you with certain doom.

The Delver deck is no surprise in the Legacy format and it’s one of the quintessential packages of the most cost effective but extremely powerful cards available. If you want to give yourself a fighting chance in any Legacy tournament you enter then definitely this is a fantastic choice. A great investment into a deck that is very likely to remain competitive continuing into the future of Legacy with only minor tweaks from time to time.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - May 14, 2014

UR Delver Legacy by Andrew Schneider (1st at SCG Knoxville on May 11t...

Champion’s Deck

Grim Lavamancer - UR Delver Legacy

UR Delver Legacy by Andrew Schneider

1st Place at StarCityGames Legacy Open on 5/11/2014
This is one of my favorite decks in legacy as it plays a very straightforward package of death and disruption in a counter/burn style package using my favorite guild color combo Izzet. UR Delver Legacy deck combines an extremely low mana curve using some of the most efficient and best spells with a marriage of the best elements of Blue in counter and draw power. It is destructive and decisive in obliterating its opponents and can seal the deal in a fast’n’furious fashion.

We start off with the namesake of the deck or what I like to call The Flying Lightning Bolt in Delver of Secrets which is supported by 28 ways to flip, and should always be close to 50/50 on a blind flip if deployed on turn one to really lay down the beats. That is coupled with beatdown king Goblin Guide as a second option for a great first turn play to start laying down the beats. Given the plethora of instants and sorceries in the deck we also have Snapcaster Mage to rebuy a key spell that you’ve already used and then work on laying down the beats. As you can see this deck is truly a weapon of mass destruction. Support player Grim Lavamancer can either help clear the way for your army or throw additional fire in their face and will often find the graveyard stocked with any of the many spells or fetchlands. The deck has a stockade of burn with full sets both of Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning which at one Red mana for three damage are amazing, and easily reused by a Snapcaster. There is also a one of Forked Bolt which can clear two defenders or a dude and to the dome, and a pair of Price of Progress which in Legacy will mostly net either six or eight damage quite often sealing the deal. The counter suite is modest but necessary including format staple Force of Will to keep combo decks in check and Spell Pierce. We round it out with some draw power from Brainstorm, Ponder and Gitaxian Probe to ensure a steady stream of low cost threats continue flowing to your hand.

This deck never ceases to amaze me with its shear brilliance and simplicity. An incredibly powerful package of spells is woven together to provide the pilot with a simple yet deadly implement of annihilation ready to take on all comers. While it is truly an Aggro deck in its heart there is just enough countermagic to keep the unfair decks honest. And while there are several flavors of Delver decks to choose from this one is definitely a great choice given its consistency and will be a top contender for years to come.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com

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