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.
Hello fellow Looters! We are in the midst of the final week before Shadows Over Innistrad (SOI) releases. The pre-release was this past weekend, and I hope you all had fun playing with the new cards! So with SOI so close, I figured it is time to talk about Standard. There are going to be a lot of changes from this last season and this is one of the benefits, (or detriments, depending on who you ask,) of the Standard Format. Obviously, we won’t know until the cards hit the table (hopefully in sleeves…) but hopefully this will get you thinking about the format.
The biggest way we will see standard change during this rotation is the power reduction of available mana. Now, we are not losing the ability to play multiple colors as there are still plenty of lands in the format (Pain Lands, Battle Lands, Man Lands, The new SOI land cycle, etc.). Let me put it in perspective, though. Currently, with fetch lands and battle lands, it is possible to use one fetch to get one of any four colors and even untapped a good portion of the time. This allowed four color decks like Abzan Blue, Mardu Green, Four Color Rally, and every other deck with an uncreative name to run rampant. To put it in the words of Patrick Chapin, “You don’t have to ask yourself if you can afford to play this card, you have to ask yourself, why not?” Why not splash Jace or Siege Rhino? With the loss of the fetch lands, we are now losing the ability to have such a streamlined mana base. In addition, tri-lands and gain-a-life duels are out the door as well. It is still very possible to run that many colors but you run a heavier risk of stumbling and your deck will be a lot slower with more lands entering tapped. I fully expect to see many more two to three color decks during this standard format, which will be a welcomed change for me.
KHHAAAAN!’s of Tarkir is parting ways with standard and ushering in the slow climb of fetches until Wizards decides to reprint them. It is taking its buddy Fate Reforged with it and, between the two of them, that is a lot of cards (454 to be exact). The most notable cards we are losing from standard, aside from fetch lands, are the hyper-efficient three-color cards. This includes things like Siege Rhino, Mantis Rider, Abzan Charm, Crackling Doom, Big Knucks, and a bunch of other cards loved by these four-color decks. There was nothing stopping decks from jamming these cards for almost no additional effort and it really crushed the playability of some otherwise great cards. Mana is supposed to be a restriction and I am glad we are returning to a world where more tough deck-building choices need to be made.
Abzan Aggro – Will Abzan completely disappear? Probably not, but with the loss of Khan’s of Tarkir, they are losing a lot of the cards that make the deck super powerful. Warden of the First Tree, Siege Rhino, Anafenza, and Abzan Charm are all rotation which leaves the wedge less supported.
Rally – When a deck loses its namesake, it is usually not going to survive rotation. That being said, most of the other pieces remain short of Grim Haruspex. Depending on what graveyard synergy we see, from Eldritch Moon and with Collected Company still in the format, we could see an efficient creature combo deck remain strong. Plus we still have to deal with Reflector Mage…
Hardened Scales – Same goes with this namesake card. Khans also housed a good number of counter’s matters cards which will squish counter strategies until they are better supported. Counters will go from being a combo to just being… regular I guess. There are still plenty of powerful counter strategies that could make their way into standard.
Most 4/5 Color Decks – They won’t be impossible to build but we definitely will not see as many of them moving forward. That being said, I could probably 100% see a 4 color super friends deck or something similar being in the format.
Tribal (Vampire, Werewolves, and Zombies Oh My!) – There are so many awesome tribal cards that we are seeing from this set. I would not be surprised at all to see Zombies, Spirits, or Werewolves become a playable Standard deck. This being said, I don’t see any of them being top tier. The simple fact is, you limit yourself when building around a specific tribe which at times can cost you a slot that would have gone to a slightly better creature. This won’t stop people from building tribal decks as they are some of the most fun decks to play and they are really well-supported this time around! I could fully believe a Humans, Vampire, or Werewolf deck taking down a GP at least once as well. Eldritch Moon should make this category even strong as it will add cards without causing a rotation.
Reanimator – This was a deck that saw a lot of play in the original Innistrad Standard environment and was very powerful. Ever After and Necromantic Summons are two very powerful spells that bring things straight from the graveyard to the battlefield. I think we need to figure out some better targets as currently most of the powerful effects trigger on casting the creature rather than entering the battlefield. That being said, I am all for another Reanimator deck, (assuming there is hate for it in the format, of course).
Artifact – Color me crazy, but this archetype is something to investigate. Origins is host to all sorts of Artifacts with a high power level. Cards like Thopter Spy Network could take over an entire game and with the introduction of Clues, I think there could be something here. There are not too many constructed playable clue producers, however, in my head I have delusions of tapping six Clues with Ghirapur Aether Grid to have a repeatable Lightning Bolt. You never quite lose that ecstatic brewer in the back of your head. We also still have creatures like Hangarback Walker and all of the various thopter producers as well.
I think the format is going through a well needed change. Normally when a new block rotates in, it has a theme and it is supposed to have hate cards that weakens previous strategies to allow new cards to shine. Battle for Zendikar fell short as it failed to bring much to the table and did little to break the hold that Khan’s of Tarkir had over the format. There was little punishment for player playing tons of colors. Aggro was in too weak a spot as removal was everywhere. Now that Khans is rotating, I am not sure how Standard will look but I am a big fan of keeping things new and exciting which is why I love the Standard format.
@Sockymans on Twitter
The latest preview is the Frost Walker FNM promo, which is a 2-drop with 4 power that’s ok for an aggressive blue/x deck. A Temur built using ferocious would make good use of the walker, turning spells like Stubborn Denial into a one casting cost Negate. Overall this FNM preview is not that impressive, but hopefully it will get more play and at least add some value to our trading binder. There are discussions going on about this card, 4 power on a two-drop is a big deal and should not be tossed away like garbage. It’s aggressive in Limited and can also be in constructed, only time will tell as brewers all over concoct some crazier builds.
Crack a Pack with Bruce 23. 4th Fate Reforged
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Hard to believe that Fate Reforged will soon be paired with Dragons of Tarkir and we will be saying goodbye to Khans of Tarkir for draft purposes. In the mean time, let’s open up another pack and see what we would take in a draft pick 1, pack1. Here we go!
Where to start? There are some very solid cards in the pack, so let’s start with our Rare. Mardu Strike Leader is a super sweet little addition to the collection of Black/White warriors. A 3/2 for 3 mana that gets a 2/1 warrior whenever it attacks? If this gets left unchecked this is a menace because that 2/1 warrior is a full card. The token trades with Morphs and most 2 drops in the format, meanwhile the Strike Leader is taking sizable chunks out of your opponent. If you can slot him into that B/W warriors deck he is an all-star, but even on his own he’s very useful and well worth the pick up. I would be pulling him to the front of my pack as an early favorite for our first pick.
Mistfire Adept is another pretty sweet card. This is essentially a Hill Giant on the Vanilla Test…and that’s just fine. However, you want this guy for his Prowess ability and the ability to make something fly. Essentially, in a Prowess build, this guy can act like a 4/4 flier (or better) and really cause havoc. He’d be pulled forward because I really like the Jeskai/Prowess deck, but I’m not sure he’s better than the Strike Leader. He takes a few more pieces in order for him to really shine while the Strike Leader is just good all the time.
Fruit of the First Tree is not a first pick. The set up is far too high on it, it doesn’t impact the board nearly well enough, and really isn’t what I want to do with my deck. NOW, in a janky brew…sure…I’ll play this, but in a draft this would be a long way down my list. I’ll save this to the end and see if one of the other players around the table wants to play it.
Marang River Prowler is card I like very much. His ability to keep coming back and to be unblockable is really solid. Sure, he’s only a 2/1, but that puts your opponent on a clock that if they can’t finish you off then the Prowler is going to slowly get the job done. If you can add on a little augmentation, like maybe a +1/+1 counter from a Bolster trigger, that clock just gets that much quicker AND you don’t really feel bad if it dies because it comeing straight back. There are decks that don’t really want him, but he’s quite strong and more often than not he’s a solid addition. I don’t think he’s a first pick, but he is a solid card and will usually make the cut in most deck lists.
Sandsteppe Outcast is something I’d be grabbing quite readily. Quite literally he’s the best common in this pack and plays into that B/W warrior deck. Pair this with Harsh Sustenance and you immediately have some terrific interactions. He’d be up to the front on the pack as well, but I think the Strike Leader is still better.
Mardu Runemark is not something I want. I don’t like the Runemarks and it sets you up to lose 2 cards for 1 with a simple removal spell. The Jeskai Runemark is really the only one of this cycle I like (which is in this pack too) but the Mardu Runemark doesn’t offer me enough except being two for oned. I’ll pass.
Hunt the Weak is not a first pick, or even in the top five cards in this pack, but it always seems to do good work. I won’t turn it down if I’m in Green. Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face than playing a Morph on turn 3 and then turn 4 fighting their Morph with Hunt the Weak and winning combat. That feels really good. This is a solid mid-round pick up.
Smoldering Efreet is for those Red aggro decks. I’m not a big fan, but I can see that it has its place. I would be prioritizing this pretty late once I start to get a bit of sense where my deck is going, but it isn’t usually my play style. I would let this go and wouldn’t think twice about it.
Douse in Gloom, however, is exactly what I want. Inexpensive removal that just gets the job done. This would be a fairly early mid-round pick up in my eyes.
Abzan Skycaptain is something I rather like as well. The fact that it Bolsters when it dies is pretty nice and makes your opponent decide if it would rather just let it connect, or kill it and run the risk of the extra +2/+2 landing somewhere that isn’t pretty. At 4 mana he’s a tad on the steep side for a 2/2 body, but I think there is enough upside that I won’t mind running him. Likelihood is that this would be an early mid-round pick up for me.
Sultai Emissary is a very reasonable 2 drop that feels like it gives you a 2 for 1 because it replaces itself when it dies. That extra Manifested creature can be very useful. I’m not crazy for it, but I would be very interested in seeing it in the mid-round. Maybe if I’m lucky it will wheel and I’ll get a second shot at it.
Lotus Path Djinn is just a reasonable dude. You aren’t crazy excited to see him, but you aren’t sad either. He flies which is always nice, but otherwise there isn’t much to say. He’s just another serviceable body to run in your Prowess deck.
Harsh Sustenance is just fine, but it isn’t an early pick because it is 2 colours. Once I have established that I’m playing Black and White I would consider this because it plays really nicely with some of the other cards in this pack (if I can get them). Mardu Strike Leader, Sandsteppe Outcast and even the Sultai Emissary work well with this card and can make for a big turn. However, to take this early and over commit to a pair of colours could strand this in your sideboard and have it never really see play or leave your deck weak and floundering.
First pick is pretty clearly the Mardu Strike Leader. I like the Adept and the Outcast, but I would rather have the Strike Leader by virtue of the extra beefy tokens it can produce. If it goes unchecked it can quite easily take over the game. I’m sad that it isn’t a 3/3 because 2 toughness means it dies to lots of things, but a little augmentation and this is just going to be menace. I would be slamming this first pick and then really looking to see if the Douse in Gloom, Sultai Emissary or even the Abzan Skycaptain don’t wheel to give me a shot at the B/W deck as I head into the Khans pack. At least, that’s the theory. Sometimes you can’t get stuck on that flashy rare and if Black dries up I would be pretty prepared to hop colours to something that is more available.
Well, there we have it folks. Thanks for taking the time to stop in have a read here at Casual Encounters and Three Kings Loot. Feel free to drop me a line below or hit me up on Twitter. Have yourself a great MTG day!
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
If you do well on Friday nights in May you may receive an Abzan Beastmaster FNM promo, an uncommon from the newest set Fate Reforged. I personally love this card in Limited, it can easily get you card advantage and quick if your playing creatures early like Disowned Ancestor or Archer’s parapet. If anything it’s good removal bait as opponents better get rid of it before you start drawing. It’s a good creature that may see more play in Standard, but this shiny foil has a place in many EDH decks seeing as G/x is one of the most played colors. I suggest you pick up as many as you can, save them over summer than trade them to EDH players. Overall, i’m happier with Abzan Beastmaster FNM then the last couple of promos.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Good morning and thanks for stopping by here at The Bag of Loot and my Casual Encounters column. For those who are new here, I will be cracking a pack of Fate Reforged and looking at what I would select first if this was Pick 1, Pack1 in my next draft. Let’s take a look at what I’ve got.
Fate Reforged seems a little more heavy with bombs than Khans was, so let’s start with the rare. Yasova Dragonclaw is a pretty strong starting place. She’s efficient to cast as a 4/2 for 3 mana and comes with Trample making her pretty solid from the outset. She triggers Ferocious if that matters to your deck as well, which is always a benefit. However, I get most of those same stats with an Alpine Grizzly so what makes her so appealing? Her ability to effectively Act of Treason one of their blockers each turn is actually really difficult to handle. Even if the creature you’re pulling aside isn’t a huge bomb, it can really upset combat math to pull aside their blocker and then swing in. The only catch is that she can only target a creature with power less than hers. That may or may not be ideal because you might only be pulling aside a Wetland Sambar or an Ainok Tracker. If you can find a way to Bolster her or to augment her to steal something larger then you might find things will get a little out of control. I’ve played against one in a match and while her ability is kind of tricky, it certainly is beatable. However, she’s still a very powerful card and would be pulled straight to the front of the pack for some careful consideration.
Mistfire Adept is a very nice uncommon and has some solid stats. The basic body is that of Hill Giant, which is quite reasonable. However, the Prowess and the ability to grant something Flying is the real perk here. You cast a spell and suddenly you have a 4/4 flier. That’s nothing to take lightly. There’s not really a whole lot of downside here because this is a useful to just about any deck playing Blue and would be getting a long hard look as well.
Renowned Weaponsmith is underwhelming in every regard. The artifact theme is not strong enough to warrant this guy, and the ability to tutor up a bad artifact is also not overly relevant. His base stats are a little on the poor side as well because he gets quickly outclassed. Sadly, this guy isn’t very good and will likely a late pickup for filler to someone in Blue.
Hewed Stone Retainers feels like a downgraded version of Illusory Angel. If this had Flying, or First Strike, or anything really, you’d consider playing it, but at a vanilla 4/4 the answer is probably not. Don’t get fooled by the casting cost, the fact that you need to cast this as the second spell this turn increases the cost of this and unless you have a deck with some cheap spells to fire off this might get stranded in your hand for a while.
Write into Being is a card I quite like. One of the concerns I have with the Manifest mechanic is that I often feel like I don’t have much control over what gets manifested. It might be that land I really need, or that super efficient removal spell, or that hyper expensive creature that I was really hoping to find in the late game. In all of these of situations having the card get Manifested is less than ideal. Write into Being gives you some measure of control over what spell you end up getting and that is very useful. The casting cost puts it right on curve with other Morphs and the fact that is a non creature spell helps provide you with fuel for Delve spells and triggers Prowess. While this is a long way from being a home run it is a deceptively powerful card and is ultimately very useful.
Temur Runemark is NOT something I like. Most auras are a surefire way to get yourself in a situation where you lose out in a 2 for 1 situation. Unless the Aura is really powerful, it is usually a better idea to play cards that stand on their own merit. I’m not going to say I won’t play an Aura, but I’m certainly not looking to play those auras unless I’m pretty desperate.
Collateral Damage is a card that I like in certain decks, but is usually not something I’m too keen to grab. I never like sacrificing MY board state to deal damage, so sequencing this spell just right to have maximum impact is tricky and pretty important. If I can’t find a way to sacrifice something that is being blocked (and dying anyway) to take out something else I’m just not overly keen to play this. The ONLY other way I play this if I have a tokens strategy where I can use the tokens as fodder, but even there I’m not going crazy with this card. This a tricky card and something that certainly has a benefit when played correctly, but not always available in the optimal way.
Whisperer of the Wilds was in last week’s pack too and I’m still a fan. I’d be flipping this to the front of the pack, but likely won’t be first picking this at this point.
Gurmag Angler is the sort of aggressive mid-round pickup you just love to see. The big body on this one is very appealing and the fact that the casting cost can be significantly reduced with Delve makes this very appealing. I don’t think I really want to first pick this because if you are in on the Delve plan you have a limited number of cards slots that can be devoted to delve cards and this guy may not be the best way to go. However, he is a very nice early pickup and a big body to sure up the board.
Typhoid Rats are one of those common cards that you always overlook, but it always makes your deck. Nobody likes attacking into or blocking a 1/1 deathtoucher and the rats just do some much work. It isn’t a first pick, but it certainly is a good mid-round pick.
Grim Contest is interesting because it is an unusual take on the “fight” mechanic that green usually gets for removal. The part I like about this is that it is at Instant speed meaning that you can use it on your opponent’s turn and leaving you to do whatever you like with your mana on your turn. Sadly, it is a gold card and fits into fewer decks, but if you have Green and Black in your deck I see no good reason not to take this mid-round and see if you can make it work for you. This would have been ideal in M15 Limited with Rotfeaster Maggot, but that is a digression. This is an interesting spell and something that will garner mild interest, but is in no way a first pick.
While a number of the cards in this pack are pretty interesting, there is no doubt that I would be taking Yasova from this pack with my first pick. I feel like Green leaves you open to go into some very powerful combinations by making Abzan, Sultai and Temur all available and her raw stats are very solid. Her two toughness is an issue because she dies readily to Wild Slash , Douse in Gloom and Debilitating Injury but there is plenty of upside to her because her repeatable “Act of Treason” is quite powerful and will really mess with combat. I don’t think she’s an insane bomb the way some of the Legendary Dragons are, but she’s very good and a cut above the other cards in this pack.
Thanks for stopping in today here at Casual Encounters and taking the time read. I hope you guys have an awesome MTG day!
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
One of the interesting things that is emerging with Fate Reforged is the differences between the various clans of the older version of Tarkir as compared to what we currently know and understand about the Clans. One of the most telling pieces is the work posted this week here.
In the current world of Tarkir that we have grown to know and love their khan, Zurgo Helmsmasher, has made the Mardu into a anarchic clan predicated on surviving on the spoils of war. This hardly seems like a noble cause and in my mind really creates some heavy tension between the White and the R/B color identities of the clan. However, we see that the Mardu under Alesha were far different.
Under Alesha, Who Smiles at Death the Mardu were still fierce warriors and most certainly reveled in the thrill of battle, but you can see very clearly that there is more order, but also that she values the honor and strength shown by the Orc with whom she has an exchange regarding his identity. He claims that he is not worthy of a name because he has chosen to save and protect his brethren, rather than to kill. However, you see very clearly that Alesha approves and supports such an approach while you can clearly imagine Zurgo scoffing at this as being nothing more than a weakness. This difference in the attitudes of the two Khans is very telling and suggests than the Mardu have undergone a significant change in the 1000 years since the events of Fate Reforged.
One reason for such a change is the lack of a common threat in current day Tarkir, like that presented by the dragons on Tarkir, that helped the Mardu to coalesce into a unified group. Without that common threat and the ever present danger that they could be destroyed, the Mardu seem to have become far more chaotic and disjointed. However, I think there is something to be said for the leadership of Alesha, who prides Honour more than some of the other attributes of the Mardu. That sort of approach creates more respect rather than the outright fear that Zurgo fosters. The differences are telling and quite interesting between the two Khans.
The other thing that is interesting about this article and the background on Alesha is the pretty well documented issue of identity. Not only the issue of identity of knowing where you fit in a group or clan, but that of what is your identity to yourself. A big deal will be made of the fact that Alesha is a boy pretending to be a woman, but in my eyes that is really not the issue at heart. The issue is really that Alesha knows who she is, regardless of what gender she may be, while the Orc whom she is speaking with seems far more confused…except that he knows enough to follow Alesha. It is an intriguing story and an interesting look at the world of the Mardu as well as the complicated issue of indentity.
Thanks for taking the time to stop in and read. As always keep it fun, keep it safe…and keep it Casual.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
There are some people that only want to brew up top tier decks and if it isn’t first rate, then they don’t want to try and do anything else. However, I look at making up a new deck a bit as a creative experience. There are lots of people who paint or write or act but will never reach those upper echelons of the craft…but that doesn’t invalidate their creative efforts or lessen the pleasure they get from pouring their energy into their activity of choice. My creative activity of choice is making a new deck that is ostensibly only played around the kitchen table with my friends…and that is just fine. I will never join the ranks of the Pro Tour with any of my decks, but I will always enjoy the process of building a new fun deck to play with my friends. So, today I’m going to share my take on a fun Casual deck that I will be playing at our next Kitchen Table card night.
I’ve seen a number of pros talk about the power that can be harnessed with Goblinslide and Quiet Contemplation. These are very similar enchantments that reward you for casting non-creature spells and you can trigger them to have an additional effect. The effect is different, but both of them are 100% repeatable and impact the board enough that you could gain a pretty significant advantage. Both enchantments have been suitably potent that they have been used in a viable draft deck in the right circumstances.
With that in mind I set about building a deck that could exploit these two intriguing (and deceptively powerful) cards. But what sort of deck do you build around these cards? The obvious starting point would be a pile of Burn spells to eliminate threats and allow you to get the engine of the deck started. Burn out their creatures, tap the remaining ones, and make Goblins…seems simple enough. However, those Burn spells need to be quite efficient because you need additional mana available to trigger the Goblinslide or the Quiet Contemplation, so efficiently costed spells are key. However, the issue of card draw starts to emerge because unless you can burn out your opposition you are likely to run out of gas pretty quickly. So, there are a few interesting options that can be used to help with some additional card draw and preventing you from running on fumes. Let’s see what we’ve got:
Ok, well the creature package is pretty small, but the Windscouts, the Jeskai Elder, and the Riverwheel Aerialists all come with Prowess…meaning that they can often tussle with bigger creatures without much trouble. The Scaldkin are there as fairly useful fliers that can “Shock” something. It is hardly an earth shattering creature package but you do want a few critters to keep your opponent honest.
The Enchantments make this deck go because if you can start to trigger them regularly you can make extra Goblin tokens or tap down your opponent. That is basically the whole premise of the deck anyway, so ideally I want to see one (or both) of these in my opening hand anyway.
The instants and sorceries are the fun part because they are burn, card draw, or just plain old Trumpet Blast to help your little Goblins punch through for a pile of damage. The newest treat for this deck is Collateral Damage which suits this deck perfectly. Can you imagine casting Lightning Strike, dealing three damage to your opponent, triggering Goblinslide for a mana, and then casting Collateral Damage for an additional three damage, sacrificing the Goblin token you just made…and then activate Goblinslide a second time and STILL having a Goblin Token on the table? That feels very achievable…and 6 points of direct damage is nothing to sniff at. Sure, it feels a little clunky but it just might get the job done around the Kitchen Table.
The deck hardly looks over powering, but for a deck packing no rare cards it feels like it could do some pretty powerful and hilarious stuff. Who doesn’t want to flood the board with a load of Goblins and over run your opponent? Seems like it might be legit little deck. It also meets most of my key components…it is a) inexpensive to build b) uses spare parts that I have in some my boxes and c) looks like it could be a load of fun. Sounds like a win to me!
Well, that’s all for today…thanks very much for taking the time to read!
Until next folks…have a great MTG day.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter