Well, Wizards has fully spoiled Modern Masters 2017 and in the process have driven players wild with just loads of amazing reprints. They must have looked at the reprint policy and then just shredded the thing in the recycling bin because this set looks NUTS. Honestly, who’s idea was it to reprint all this awesome stuff? On top of the set being full of many valuable reprints, Wizards has done an admirable job of balancing cards intended for competitive play and those destined to see play in Casual formats. Today I’m going to go through my top 10 cards for Casual play from Modern Masters 2017. If you feel like I missed something on my list, leave a comment down below.
If you feel like I missed something, please leave a comment down below or find me on twitter because I’d love to hear what other people have got in mind. As always, thanks for stopping by and be sure to come again for another Casual Encounter.
Hi everyone and welcome back once again. Aether Revolt is just around the corner and everyone is counting down the top cards to be excited for. Well, I’m no different except that I’m not looking at Limited cards or Constructed cards. No, what I want is some fun new toys to splash around with in some Casual decks and to really spice things up when I get to sling cards with my buddies around a kitchen table. So, with Casual decks in mind, let’s look at the top 10 Casual cards that I’m eyeing from Aether Revolt.
1.Planar Bridge: This is a very potent card for EDH decks. As a repeatable creature tutor that activates for 8 mana, this is an amazing way to go and find that big bomb you have lurking in your deck and dump it straight on the battlefield. However, the other thing this does is it allows your deck to go and play more like a “Tool Box” deck that is so acclaimed in other formats. Now, R & D has assured that at 8 mana to activate this that it is not a Constructed card, but in EDH, if you need an answer to eliminate that terrifying artifact, creature, or enchantment, you now have a tool to allow you to go and find it at Instant speed. It may not be the most efficient way to answer something, but if the alternative is you dying then I would rather take my chances with the expensive creature tutor. The one thing I am glad of is that Planar Bridge puts them on the battlefield rather than “casting” them and thus avoiding all the nasty “When Cast” triggers like on Emrakul, the Promised End. This is going to make EDH very interesting. Also, the Masterpiece version of the art of this card is stunning and one of the few times I might be prepared to shell out for the premium version rather than a simple non-foil version. A very fun and beautiful card and in my estimation the top pick for Casual Players from this new set.
Well, there you have my top 10 Casual Cards. As always, these lists are highly debatable and there is no doubt that I could have added another 5 cards easily. However, I have to draw the line somewhere and 10 feels about right. What has caught your attention from Aether Revolt? If you’ve got something that has captured your attention or something that you are really looking forward to playing let me know in the comments down below or find me on Twitter. As always, thanks for stopping by and be sure to stop in next time for another Casual Encounter.
Set Name – Aether Revolt
Block – Set 2 of 2 in the Kaladesh block
Number of Cards – 184
Prerelease Events – January 14–15, 2017
Release Events – January 20, 2017
Launch Weekend – January 20–22, 2017
Game Day – February 11–12, 2017
Magic Online Prerelease Events – January 27, 2017
Magic Online Release Date – January 30, 2017
Pro Tour Aether Revolt – February 3–5, 2017
Pro Tour Aether Revolt Location – Dublin, Ireland
Official Three–Letter Code – AER
Twitter Hashtag – #MTGAER
Languages – English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
Initial Concept and Game Design
Mark Gottlieb (lead)
Final Game Design and Development
Ben Hayes (lead)
Kaladesh World Design
Doug Beyer (lead)
Kimberly J. Kreines
I have recently been switched on to Commander and have relished the opportunity to brew and build again in a format that I am relatively inexperienced in. The goal I set before myself was to build a three-coloured Commander deck for each of the five Khans from Fate Reforged. The basic premise being that they were fairly readily accessible and seemed to have useful abilities that could be utilized in a Commander game given the right circumstances. Also, the hybrid mana activation costs seemed very unique and something that I wanted to try and use to the best of my abilities.
Well, I have completed all 5 decks (for now) but am always on the look for new and fun additions in new sets and products. The great news is that we have had a huge influx of Commander cards get released with Commander 2016 and my brain is humming thinking of some of the additions that could be made to each of the decks. Today I’m going to highlight a few of the cards that I’m really excited for that come out of the new Commander 2016 sets and where I might see them fitting.
Commander: Daghatar the Adamant
My Daghatar deck plays more or less like the greatest hits of Abzan from Khans of Tarkir block and is capable of doing some really heavy, creature-based attacks. The strategy is not flaw-proof in a multi-player game, but it is really true to me as a player because there is very little that I like to do more than playing efficient Green fatties and crunching my opponent. Daghatar can allow for a repeatable source of +1/+1 counters to move around, which is fairly minor, but could prove to be highly annoying and generally make combat a bit of nuisance.
There are a number of sweet additions that could be used to bolster the deck from the new Commander decks, but my eyes lit up when I saw Ravos, Soultender. My Abzan deck largely lacks recursion and this little addition is recursion on a stick and the deck is packed with amazing targets from Sidisi, Undead Vizier, Siege Rhino, Den Protector, Wispweaver Angel, or Green Warden of Murasa. We will look at Ravos again in a little bit, but needless to say he would make an excellent addition.
Another card that really grabbed my attention was Reyhan, Last of the Abzan because in theory the Abzan want to make use of +1/+1 counters and Reyhan allows you yet another way to get maximum use out of the counters you do get into play. Playing Reyhan and Daghatar in conjunction with one another seems like a dead obvious synergy and one that I am intrigued to try and to see if it is truly as good as I think it is.
Simply because I like to do silly things Cruel Entertainment struck my fancy but is likely not good enough to warrant a deck slot. Sylvan Reclamation seems to be a very solid spell to allow you to deal with enchantments and artifacts, but the versatility offered in the early game to Basic Landcycle is appreciated. Lastly, Mana Gorger Hydra isn’t exclusively from Commander 2016 but is just a card that can get out of control so quickly that it is well worth adding.
Commander: Yasova Dragonclaw
This deck wants to make combat miserable by stealing my opponents creatures and then smashing them over the head with their own things. There is also a slight value engine in the form of Temur Sabertooth and a Species Gorger that allows me to replay my value creatures. There isn’t much that this deck wants from Commander this year because most of the decks are premised on playing along a totally different axis, but Evolutionary Escalation seems intriguing as a way to boost the power of Yasova and allow her to steal virtually anything on the table. Bloodbraid Elf and Etherium-Horn Sorcerer seem like good choices, but primarily for the Cascade ability. Otherwise the options here are a little limiting.
Commander: Alesha, who Smiles at Death
This is perhaps my most fun deck because the synergy here is pretty clear. Alesha rewards you for playing creatures with power 2 or less, so any interesting creatures in any of the combinations provided by Alesha make for an intriguing addition.
By FAR the most interesting addition is Ravos, Soultender because Ravos also allows you to recur all sorts of ridiculous things. All Alesha wants to do is to get back her soldiers from the yard and Ravos plays right along making them pretty much best friends.
Tymna, the Weaver is another extremely interesting option because it allows you to go out and draw cards for having attacked and dealt damage, both things Alesha is really encouraging you to do already.
Vial Smasher the Fierce is another interesting target, but the fact the damage she deals is assigned randomly is less interesting and often serves more as a detriment. I want to control where the damage goes, meaning Vial Smasher is further down my list despite the fact that the creature has an interesting ability.
Grave Upheaval is very intriguing because an Alesha deck is relying on the fact that many of the creatures are smaller but have powerful synergy linked to their ability to be recurred. However, Grave Upheaval allows you to go and reanimate something from your opponent’s graveyard giving it plenty of versatility. Who knows what treats your opponents have hidden in their Graveyards?
There are plenty of interesting options in these colours and it really comes down to how you want to play Alesha and what sort of ETB effects you are looking to recur.
Commander: Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Ok, yes, Sidisi is from Khans, not Fate Reforged, but I was having a hard time tracking down a Tasigur so I opted for the more inexpensive Sidisi as a way to get access to my three colours. Of all the decks that I have this one is the one most interested in ramping because of things like Villainous Wealth that I want to cast for big value multiple times. To that end, Collective Voyage is exactly the sort of spell I want to hit early in the game and see if we can’t get it to do something kind of nutty. When I tried it out with my playgroup in a 6 person Commander game Collective Voyage landed us 17 basic land cards apiece meaning that I could untap and make good use of Villainous Wealth to devastating effect.
Another strong addition is Swan Song because inexpensive counters that have such a minor drawback are well worth their weight in cardboard.
Keening Stone is something that grabbed my attention too because it serves a very versatile purpose in a deck intent on self milling. The first and obvious approach is to mill yourself and a single activation could very well yield you all the graveyard fodder you would ever need. However, the fact that after you have milled yourself you can then turn and mill your opponents and eat a huge chunk of their library is extremely appealing. The way I see it, most decks are very effective at removing creatures and threats that damage their life total. However, many decks have a harder time dealing with something that attacks them on a totally different axis…namely milling. Keening Stone could be a very potent win condition to mill out your opponents and be very difficult to address making it a great addition.
Commander: Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest
This is the least tested of my decks, but the intent is to have it play kind of like a combo deck. The plan is to use the Prowess triggers on Shu Yun to make him explosive and then give him double strike to try and deal lethal in a single attack. With a deck packed full of instants and sorceries, I’m not really looking for more creatures, but rather some interesting spells to complement the game plan.
The obvious first one that jumped out at me was Order//Chaos because it gives Shu Yun the evasion needed to get in for a strike, and allows him to turn on his Double Strike for maximum damage. Add in the fact that it is a versatile card due to its split nature and you have the making of a really solid addition to the deck.
Conqueror’s Flail is another very interesting addition because it too can make Shu Yun into a one-hit wrecking ball. For a mere 2 mana and then 2 more to equip I am getting +3/+3 ? The turn you cast this Shu Yun becomes a 7/6 creature, and then gets double strike. Add in Order//Chaos and you almost have a kill in a single turn. If you have any burn that goes to the face or any other way to pump Shu Yun you could be walking away with an easy kill.
The final piece is that these colours have a hard time ramping to any degree because of the fact that they don’t play Green, but yet still need to play more expensive threats or have mana open for non-creature spells. Commander’s Sphere is a very reasonable mana rock that you can sacrifice to draw a card making it extremely useful in the late game if somewhat innocuous.
I know that with the new Commander decks just coming out that it seems strange to be taking them apart for pieces to use elsewhere, but when there are so many tantalizing pieces and plenty of interesting things to do and change up, these actually all seem like useful and relevant things to do. What things have caught your eye to make use of in other that you have built? Let me know in the comments down below or find me on Twitter at @bgray8791. Thanks very much for stopping by and as always, be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.
One of my favorite things about playing Magic is that with over 20 years of cards available there are many options and obscure cards that are available to help fill out a deck. Sure, in some formats your choices are limited, but when you play casually you have countless options. The only catch is that the very best cards are super expensive and hard to come by, and then may not even help you win. However there are plenty of perfectly viable cards that cost a fraction of the money that often perform just as well as their more expensive cousins. Today I’m going to share a list of some very useful cards that are currently super cheap that should help in keeping your casual brews under budget and yet still fun to play.
I’m going start with some cards from Theros because it is a much-maligned set that many overlook for being able to offer anything interesting. I think this perception is a little misplaced for the simple inclusion of the Scry Lands. These are likely one of the most balanced land cycles I have come across and have a huge amount of utility in Casual games. They help fix your mana, but come into play tapped which is a fair trade off. This is certainly a drawback but they also allow you to Scry 1, which is hugely beneficial. That simple Scry 1 can allow you to help smooth out your draws in the early, mid, or late game and all the while helping to ensure that you are able to produce both colours of mana. The design itself is so clean that it really is remarkable and the ability seems so minor, but yet can be so crucial. To make matters better you can use all sorts of cards to eke extra value out of them like perhaps playing one of the Ravnica “bounce” lands, or a Kor Skyfisher. Furthermore, since essentially everything from Theros was so widely printed, the prices on these have fallen to precipitously-low levels. Many of these are available on Three Kings Loot for between $0.99 (CDN) and $2.99 (CDN) making them very modestly-priced and a real solid pickup.
Prognostic Sphinx is another very solid card for your Casual games as a 3/5 flier with Hexproof if you discard a card. A 3/5 Flying body that is able to protect itself quite inexpensively is a very solid addition and this could see plenty of play in many decks, particularly some sort of Grixis-coloured deck with a number of Madness-themed cards, but it can see application in any deck playing Blue. The real asset is the Scry 3 that is triggered when it attacks. This can really generate some significant value and make your deck operate extremely smoothly because Scry 3 offers you tons of control over the top of your deck. To make matters better, we are talking about essentially a bulk Rare at $0.49 (CDN) meaning that he costs you less that a cup of coffee. I call that some good value.
Another very sweet addition to Casual decks playing White is a little common from M15. M15 was largely a poor set with only a few truly interesting cards that might still see play, but Heliod’s Pilgrim is a tremendous little find. In my 4+ years playing MTG again I have seen plenty of games won on the back of a terrible Aura that people just can’t remove or interact with profitably. Well, if you have a casual deck with a potent aura hidden somewhere, Heliod’s Pilgrim acts like the ideal tutor. It it even leaves behind a body making it a very useful Tutor on a stick and an upgrade over Idyllic Tutor (that runs a very pricey $19.99). It is no Enlightened Tutor, but Enlightened Tutor is a $15 card while you can get the Pilgrim for a cool $0.20 (CDN). A bargain basement pickup if there ever was one.
There are a number of other totally innocuous cards from Eldritch Moon and that are well-worth keeping an eye on. The first is Grapple with the Past which can serve as an extremely versatile and potent “Regrowth” type effect. We have seen time and time again that self mill strategies can be extremely potent and in the Commander 2015 product there was a B/G Meren of Clan Nel Toth deck that looked to exploit its graveyard for extensive value. However, many of the Self-Mill cards recently printed reveal a certain number of cards and you select the required card, if it is among the revealed cards, and put it in your hand. (e.g. Mulch or Grisly Salvage). However, Grapple with the Past goes into a much different range in that after you dump the cards in your yard you can select a creature or a land card from your graveyard, not just from the cards that were revealed. Meaning, that as a late game play, once your yard has been filled up, you get to cherry pick the very best thing your graveyard has to offer. Now, the original version of this sort effect is Regrowth and was last reprinted in a regular set in Revised (but it has been printed in a number of supplemental products recently) and can be found available for anywhere between $1.15 and $9 (CDN) depending on your version. Grapple with the Past is a little more limited but can be found for a mere $0.37 at Three Kings Loot to help keep the old pocket book in check. In a world with many “value” creatures Grapple with the Past is a very effective option and is a considerable discount over some of the alternatives.
Another card to keep your eye on is Splendid Reclamation. I think everyone is aware that this card has the potential to be truly broken given the right circumstances. Personally I have been truly astounded to find myself in a situation in numerous decks where I have either purposefully or inadvertently discarded, milled, or generally had lands destroyed and end up in my graveyard. Splendid Reclamation does an amazing job of getting you all those lands back and essentially acting as a gigantic ramp spell. To my mind it is at its best in a self-milling strategy, but I could make a case for it in plenty of other situations as well. However, once you start to see a bunch of lands end up in your graveyard, this is the perfect way to jump from having 4-8 land to having something like 10-12 lands in a single spell. While you may not win the game on the spot on account of Splendid Reclamation, the truth is that you are now in a much more advantageous position because you have the ability to cast far more spells. Add in the fact that this recently-printed rare is languishing at a mere $1.25(CDN) and you’re talking about a real bargain for something that could result in you having the upper hand at your next casual game.
The final card that I have for you all is yet another common, but this time from Kaladesh. I have to say that I was astounded to find this card looking at me in my pre-release kit because I always figure this sort of effect is printed at uncommon or higher. However, for a mere 3 mana (2 generic and a Black) you get a Fortuitous Find, a modal card to allow you to potentially regrow TWO targets. The obvious first mode is to regrow a creature, that is very easy to predict, however the option to get back a potential artifact could be a hugely powerful play in the late game. I can well imagine a situation where you have landed an early piece of equipment or a strong Artifact creature (think a Gearhulk) and it gets destroyed by a well timed piece of artifact hate. To have the chance to regrow both your best creature target AND an artifact is potentially backbreaking. We all know that in many casual games your opponent can likely deal with your best threats the first time, but it is the ability to recur that threat a number of times that is truly the key asset and Fortuitous Find is a super cost-effective way to add that element of recursion to your deck.
Well, those are a few things to add a little versatility and to make you a little more resilient when you start losing threats to the removal of your opponents. There are plenty of great cards to help players of any budget, so I encourage you to go out and try a broad range of cards and see if you too can’t find a few highly effective budget options to help bring some versatility to your decks. By all means, if you find something fun and inexpensive share that with me here because I’d love to hear about a sweet new (or old) tech out there to spice up my next Casual game.
As always, thanks for stopping to read and be sure to stop in again next time for another Casual Encounter.
*Editor’s note: As with any discussion about prices, it’s important to remember that they’re always subject to change.
Every year, Wizards of the Coast sends out to all its employees and retailers a holiday promo card as a gift. Last year was a Goblin Sleigh Ride, this year they are keeping with the Kaladesh inventions theme and went with a Thopter Pie Network redux as Thopter Pie Network. This is a cute parody of a pretty good Magic Origins card. These gifts from WoTC are always well received and can easily fetch a good 50$ to 100$ right off the bat.
Maybe it’s too early to say, but I’m going to say it anyway: this looks like the absolute best Commander product Wizards has ever released. Whether we’re talking about the Partner mechanic, the astounding number of new Legends, or the delicious mana bases, this year’s Commander has something for everyone. Let’s take a look.
When Wizards said they had a solution to the four color problem, they weren’t kidding. Partner will keep us all building new decks for years to come. Mixing and matching Commanders makes the game feel fresh, and it gives everyone so many more options for self-expression, one of the hallmarks of our format.
What’s more, I think Wizards did an excellent job balancing the mechanic. Think of all the broken combos that could’ve been printed on some of these cards. Seems like R&D was very careful not to make any of them too good, yet good enough when paired with another partner. Their collective power will at least match, if not surpass, many lone commanders.
Plus, I think Wizards made an excellent call by printing more enemy-colored commanders than allies. As the great and noble MaRo mentioned a few weeks ago, there just aren’t that many enemy color dudes out there. I’ve always found these color pairs more interesting than the allies, so I’m glad they’re getting a little more love.
For both new and experienced players, the number of potential new commanders in this set is staggering. I went through the ol’ card image gallery and counted them up. There are 36 legendary creatures in this set alone (38 if you count Daretti, who can also be your commander). To compare that with some past Commander releases, here’s a breakdown:
Commander 2016 – 37 potential commanders
Commander 2015 – 18 potential commanders
Commander 2014 – 16 potential commanders
Commander 2013 – 21 potential commanders
Commander 2011 – 28 potential commanders
Partner certainly contributed to those numbers, but there are plenty of high-power reprints in addition. Zedruu the Greathearted and Ghave, Guru of Spores, for example, are two outstanding commanders that haven’t seen printing in five years. The deck building options are almost limitless.
And then there are the four-color commanders, which seem very exciting. Though they’re going to be tough to cast (especially on-curve), players are rewarded with some very powerful abilities. Atraxa and Yidris look very strong in particular, and if the numbers on EDHREC are any indication, they’re going to stay at the top of Commander pop charts for a while.
With inclusions such as the Alara and Tarkir tri-lands, Murmuring Bosk, Grand Coliseum, Exotic Orchard, Forbidden Orchard, and more, players can actually get their commanders out in a reasonable time frame. What’s more, these lands help reinforce any multi-colored mana base, whether they’re two, three, four, or five colors.
And, perhaps best of all, this gets some older lands into the hands of newer players, which is awesome. The Otarian filter lands haven’t been around in forever, which I find exciting. This opens up a whole new spectrum of possibilities for a heck of a lot of casual players.
If these decks sound good to you, I hear there are still a few left in the ol’ Three Kings Loot store. Go check them out!
Well, the boys and I got together and jammed some very casual games of Magic this past week. It was glorious! We just sat around and slung card board around until it was far too late and enjoyed every moment of it. However, one problem with playing casual Magic is that it takes so darn long. Multiplayer games take ages because everyone is apprehensive about going out and attacking and leaving themselves vulnerable to some sort of counter attack by the rest of the table. The game turns into plenty of defensive posturing and very little else going on. In 5 hours of Magic we played 2 complete games. 2 Games! That just isn’t very much. There are lots of house rules that one can play, but I think I may have found something even easier to help bust up that board stall and speed up the game.
My solution is a maligned Mythic from Oath of the Gatewatch that seemed like it could almost make the grade in Constructed, but sadly has fallen by the wayside. I’m talking about Inverter of Truth which is a devastating 6/6 flier for 4 mana. With those sorts of stats you need to respect it, but there is a drawback. The drawback is that when Inverter of Truth enters the battlefield you must exile your library, and your Graveyard becomes your Library. In most situations this means that you lose a big portion of your deck, which can hurt. If this is done too early you can run yourself out of cards in a real hurry and basically forfeit yourself the game because you just don’t have the tools you need to get the win. However, if you use this judiciously, Inverter of Truth can be cast to great effect.
Imagine a situation where you have already cast a number of really good spells. Perhaps you cast some removal spells, a couple of really strong creatures, maybe a reanimation spell or two and some other goodness. What it means is that once you cast Inverter of Truth you get all those spells back and this time you won’t be drawing land in between good spells. That sounds actually really appealing. Who wouldn’t want to draw only spells that ensure you play action?
The other side effect that this card does is that it changes the mental position of the player who cast Inverter of Truth. We played two games and both times that Inverter was cast the player who cast it immediately adopted a more aggressive position because they no longer had the luxury of playing for the attrition based resource battle. The player who just cast Inverter needs to get down to business of using his Library (that yields only gas) and this efficient 6/6 flier to pressure the table and bust up the board stall that is so typical in multiplayer Magic. It is often this shift in just a single player that can push the whole table away from stalling out and reinforcing their position and then move everyone into a frantic race to not get run over. This single person shifting into an aggressive posture is all the game needs to pick up speed and to cause itself naturally, without the addition of house rules or other adjustments to the game itself, to come to a very rapid conclusion. It is a very effective trick to get a game kicked up into high speed.
In addition to the very intriguing and powerful card, Inverter of Truth gives us a very budget friendly creature to add to decks playing Black. At a mere $0.75 this is a bargain for a card that dramatically changes the face of the game. Some might argue that it doesn’t feel “Mythic” enough, but the effect on the game is immediate and profound suggesting that naysayers may be mistaken. The next time you sit down to ponder what changes to make to your deck, do not discount Inverter of Truth because it can provide a much needed infusion of something truly interesting into the game.
*Editor’s note: Prices are subject to change according to the whims of the multiverse.
There is no doubt that Kaladesh is a casual player’s paradise. The set just offers so much in the way of fun mechanics and innovative ways to get more out of your cards. However, to my eye the real element that has been built into Kaladesh that sets it apart from other sets is all the built in ways to “blink” your guys for value. Not since Avacyn Restored have we had so many ways to blink stuff and have draft chaff look so good.
Wispweaver Angel is the perfect example of a ridiculous limited card that has a huge payoff in casual games to allow you to blink all sorts of goofy things. It is a long way from being Restoration Angel, but the fact remains that using Wispweaver Angel is going to have some similar effects around the kitchen table. Pair the angel up with Panharmonicon and you have yourself some extremely powerful synergies to grab the attention of Casual players.
If blinking your stuff is proving an issue, or you’re looking for another way to get some value from your ETB triggers, Kaladesh has another totally innocuous card in the form of Aviary Mechanic that can now play alongside Kor Skyfisher and Emancipation Angel as some of the best ways to re-play your value creatures. Let me assure you, these are the sorts of commons casual players look for and love to abuse. Whether it is returning a Scry Land for the free Scry, or a Siege Rhino, or something slightly more degenerate, these simple but effective additions to casual decks can really help push them in the right direction. Look for them and see if you can squeeze them in because you might be pleasantly surprised.
Well, that’s what we’ve got for this week. Thanks for stopping in for a read and be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.