Tag: from-beyond

Bruce Gray - July 5, 2016

A Smattering of This and That

Casual Encounters- A Smattering of This and That (MTG Impressions)

MTG Impressions

Lately I’ve been a little quiet on the writing front and there are a number of fronts where I’ve had some ideas or thoughts, but just not enough to pen a whole article. Today I thought I would go through some of those MTG impressions and put them together to make a whole post. I’ll be touching on things like the newest Eldritch Moon spoilers, further supplemental products, and even some cards that you should probably revisit because they are super useful. Well, let’s get started.


Eldritch Moon and Emrakul, the Promised End

MTG Impressions

Everyone has an opinion now that we’ve started to see new cards from Eldritch Moon. I’ve seen people posting about how they love it, others about how they hate it, and others how they are just really bummed that Eternal Masters has all dried up. From where I sit, Eldritch Moon looks like it is going to be pretty amazing and the number one reason is right in the Trailer video which is the new version of Emrakul. The new card looks sweet, the art is stunning, and the story across multiple blocks continues to converge which makes the card all that much sweeter. I’m not going to review big Emrakul right now, but if you’ve seen her you have to admit she looks very powerful and tons of fun.

MTG Impressions

The second piece of the trailer that got me excited was seeing the Gatewatch arrive on the scene to battle the Eldrazi menace. Now, I don’t suppose we’ll actually be able to get new printings of these Planeswalkers so soon, but the story should be very lively and interesting as our heroes struggle to save Innistrad. When the story is strong and interesting I always find that I enjoy the game a bit more.

One walker we are sure to see a new printing is Liliana and that’s totally ok. I fully expect her to be the black member of the gatewatch because we could clearly see that the cycle of cards was not complete from Oath of the Gatewatch and now that her adopted home is under assault it only makes sense. Now, we aren’t likely to see Liliana of the Veil any time soon, but some new iteration of Lili seems pretty sweet. Really, can they make a bad version of her? I seriously hope not.

MTG Impressions

The biggest thing with the arrival of Emrakul on Innistrad is that the Magic community seemed to groan collectively when they saw that the threat was the giant flying spaghetti monster. It had been hinted at for months, she didn’t show up in Battle for Zendikar block and was suspected to be elsewhere…and really, what other ultimate menace could really be left? Well, sure enough, we got Emrakul and everyone just groaned because we  were sick of the Eldrazi. We just had Eldrazi decks of all sorts run rampant in virtually every major format. Eldrazi were everywhere and were really good and the community was tired of them.

Now, I can admit that I have also had a bit of overload with the Eldrazi recently, but I’m still pretty comfortable with the arrival of Emrakul on Innistrad. The reason I’m pretty comfortable with it is that it continues the story telling arc that began when Sarkhan returned to Tarkir and saved Ugin. From that point on there was no doubt that there was going to be a march towards seeing our intrepid heroes confront the Eldrazi menace and the story has now stretched across three blocks. To my mind that makes for better storytelling than stopping and starting with each new block. I think part of reason that Theros block gets a bit of bad wrap is that it is entirely a self contained story across three sets but come the end of the block the story has met a resolution…an unsatisfactory resolution because Elspeth dies (sort of). Well, now we have a story that has stretched across three blocks (and arguably a Core Set too) and could still extend beyond if the Gatewatch is unable to slay Emrakul. I think that the longevity of the storytelling has made for a far more intriguing story and something that I want to tune in for week after week to see how it unfolds.

MTG Impressions


Spoilers from Eldritch Moon

There are some very interesting new cards that have been spoiled including Coax from the Blind Eternities which acts like a Glittering Wish variant but for Eldrazi. However, to my eyes the most interesting card is the new printing of an old favorite and that’s the new version of Thalia.  Thalia, Cathar Heretic, is a super sweet call back to her original printing and still plays a valuable game in disrupting your opponent by being a Blind Obedience on a stick. My intrigue with her is not so much for Standard because I have no doubt that she’ll fit in many of the Human decks running around, but whether or not she could find a home in a Modern deck. I understand that Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is an integral part of the G/W Hatebears deck that periodically puts up good results and this version is slightly different, but might be a viable option. Modern is a format where plenty of Non-Basic lands are played and being able to slow your opponent down a turn and have their lands come into play tapped might be a significant advantage that shouldn’t be ignored. Is she fast enough at 3 mana to have any real impact in Modern?  We’ll soon find out, but she seems interesting and fringe playable.

MTG Impressions MTG Impressions

Also, the new Meld mechanic looks fun but it appears to be something designed to advance the story rather than for playability. The Gisela and Bruna Meld card means you need to have a pair of pricey, rare angels in your deck, get them in play, AND not have them die in order to have them transform. That’s a bit of a stretch in any limited format and with Bruna costing 7 mana to play I can hardly imagine competitive Standard decks being keen to play her. Maybe a casual deck will emerge out there playing these two angels at face value and if you can flip them then you are laughing but that seems like a stretch. Even the Common Meld cards feel like a stretch, but perhaps there will be more that are more playable.  We’ll have to wait and see.

MTG Impressions MTG Impressions

MTG Impressions MTG Impressions


Cards you may have forgotten about

With Eldritch Moon just a few weeks there are a few cards that I’ve got my eye on that you might have forgotten about that might take on new playability because they work well with what we are going to find in the newest set.  Here are a few things to keep your eyes on.

MTG Impressions

From Beyond: this is a really interesting enchantment that is going to shine in EDH in a few years as an improved Awakening Zone AND a tutor, but for the time being it is an ingenious way to a) ramp some colourless mana thanks to those Scions b) help you FIND Emrakul in your deck and C) reduce the cost of Emrakul. People are going to say that From Beyond is too slow to be really playable, but let’s look at the facts.  If you really want to maximize the cost reduction factor on Emrakul you need a reliable way to get as many different types of cards into your graveyard. One type, namely Enchantments, can be tricky because usually you don’t want your Enchantments in the graveyard. However,  From Beyond lets you sacrifice it to go find your biggest Eldrazi meaning you are assured to get an enchantment into your graveyard. If you can keep this thing online for a turn or two, crank out a couple of tokens, and sacrifice those you have now reduced the cost to CAST Emrakul by up to three mana (maybe more) and that’s very significant. I think this has some very real potential to be a card that sneaks into a few decks and that people experiment with because I feel like it could be very good. And then in 3 years time you can use it when you play EDH to go and fetch your scariest Eldrazi and slam it to break your opponents. But that’s for another day.

MTG Impressions

Harbinger of the Tides: if the game plan looks like it could become a race to how fast you can get Emrakul into play then everyone is going to be looking for ways to fight said race. Harbinger of the Tides might be a reasonable way for Blue decks to slow down the activation of an Emrakul by being able to be played an instant speed without it being an Instant. It doesn’t solve the resolution of the Cast trigger and inevitable Mindslaver effect, but it might set an opponent who has stretched themselves too far to get Emrakul on line back far enough that they can’t recast it and saves you from contending with a 13/13 flying, trample, protection from Instants monster of doom.

MTG Impressions

Stasis Snare: this is exactly the same plan as the Harbinger of the Tides in a very different colour. This is already widely played removal in White and will likely to continue to be extremely useful to combat Emrakul.

Sanctum of Ugin: I don’t really need to remind you why this is here…this just goes and gets you your giant Eldrazi. End of story.

MTG Impressions

Surrak, the Hunt Caller: this beefy 5/4 for 4 mana plays remarkably well with something huge and scary like Emrakul because you could potentially give it Haste. That is a terrifying prospect and really gives me a reason to go back and revisit Surrak. On top of the unmistakable synergy with really big Eldrazi creatures, Surrak is ALSO a human meaning that Thalia’s Lieutenant and he are best buds. If G/W human decks look like they need to tussle a bit more and need a little more beef then Surrak could get another lease on life again there too.


I have to admit I’m very excited for the new Eldritch Moon set that is set to come out and the new possibilities that could take shape in the weeks to come. I can’t wait to see the whole spoiler and to the full effect of what is included in the set. Hopefully some new additions will breath new life into some other cards and really make the rest of the summer fun as we head towards Kaladesh and Conspiracy 2.


Thanks for stopping in to read my MTG Impressions and be sure to stop by again next time for another Casual Encounter.


Bruce Gray – @bgray8791

Bruce Gray - May 18, 2016

MTG Standard Bargain Hunting

Casual Encounters- Bargain Hunting in Standard

treasure hunt

    Every once in awhile I like to stop and take stock of some prices of cards of this game and hunt down some of the diamonds in the rough.  What I mean is that there are a number of cards out there in any set that play really well, but yet are worth very little from a financial point of view. In short, I go bargain hunting.  Sometimes the low prices on some cards are a product of a superior version of a card being available in another set.  Sometimes the set is opened in such abundance that prices tank apart from a few mythics.  Sometimes the set is slated for rotation soon and the prices take a steep nose dive. Regardless of the reason behind these cards being worth so little, the fact remains they can offer excellent value to players looking to keep their costs down.  Today, I’ve picked out 10 cards for you to keep an eye on and to help you keep your costs down without compromising game play.

*Editor’s note: All prices are subject to change according to the whims of the multiverse.

#10- Deathbringer Regent- Dragons of Tarkir

This is an amazing pickup for anyone who plays any sort of multiplayer game.  This has a conditional wrath pasted to 5/6  flying body.  What isn’t to love?  In a multiplayer game it seems pretty straight forward to have 5 or more other creatures on the battlefield, so triggering this seems easy.  It has synergy with all the “ Dragons Matter” cards from Dragons of Tarkir including Silumgar’s Scorn, Dragonlord’s Prerogative, or Draconic Roar meaning it is just good value and plays nicely with a number of other colours.  To top it all off, this is retailing on Three Kings Loot for $0.45 making it a real bargain.  


#9 Endbringer- Oath of the Gatewatch

This is a ridiculous card in a multiplayer game because this can untap on EACH player’s turn meaning you can use it again and again.  The number of different abilities on this thing is pretty amazing and can just work away to grind you all sorts of small advantages.  It can block, neutralize big scary threats, draw cards, ping for damage,  and is basically always a force to be reckoned with because it is always untapped and ready to be used.  At a mere $0.71 at 3KL you can’t go wrong and every Commander deck will be wanting one of these things.


#8 Brutal Expulsion- Battle For Zendikar

Ok, so we didn’t get a Charm or Command cycle in BFZ, but we did get a pretty awesome card that has as much versatility as we can realistically expect in a set.  I was initially a little down on Brutal Expulsion because it really doesn’t seem to be that exciting a card, but once you cast it the only way you can use to describe it is “oh…THAT’s why that is at Rare”.  It is just a very powerful tempo play to zap something small and/or bounce something big…at instant speed.  You just can’t complain about that sort of flexibility. It checks in at a very reasonable $0.44 making it a bargain that plays like it is a much more expensive card.

#7 From Beyond- Battle for Zendikar

I’ve been big on this one for a while now.  Awakening Zone is analogous to this from Rise of the Eldrazi that is an astonishing $7.48.  However, this slightly more expensive reprint not only gets you better tokens, but it can also serve as a tutor to go and find that big, bad, Eldrazi you have packed in your deck.  The tutoring really makes this card highly desirable for singleton formats to help you go find what you need, but for some reason you can pick it up for $1.13 on Three Kings Loot. 


#6 Zendikar Resurgent- Oath of the Gatewatch

I had this in my pre-release for OGW and have to admit that I was tempted to cut it because it was a 7 mana card that did very little on the board. However, I was very glad I didn’t cut it because it is an absolute engine to power up a deck.  If you get to untap and have a creature or two in hand to play you can start to chain together all sorts of things.  The mana ramp is also one sided meaning that unlike a spell like Mana Flare (still a classic) you can reap the benefits while your opponents can only gnash their teeth.   And who doesn’t love a card that enables all sorts of silly huge critters.  Or maybe just a big Fireball.  Whatever.  Oh, and did I mention it is a mere $0.69.  Yeah. That’s a bargain.

# 5 Greenwarden of Murasa- Battle for Zendikar

So, Eternal Witness is a thing.  Yes at 3 mana it is a fringe playable Modern card, but if you are in to EDH you might not be interested in a three mana creature.  Maybe you want something bigger like a 5/4 for 6 that is really a double regrowth.  Sound slightly appealing?  Umm…yes please.  Any deck that can play green will be looking for this thing (and it’s even a reasonable card to include in your cube) so why not grab it now for $1.83?  I don’t have a reason either…so I’m picking up a few.


#4 Crush of Tentacles- Oath of the Gatewatch

Another powerful mythic that is a Blue board wipe.  Ok, so maybe you aren’t really a big fan of mass bounce, but it wipes out tokens and likely nets you mana because you will invariably spend less on this spell than your opponent will pay in order to replay those creatures.  The added bonus of the Crush is that 8/8 octopus.  In a casual game that is totally achievable and is is absolutely something to be reckoned with.  This checks in at a mere $2.53 for a Mythic from a small set and will only go up from there.

#3 Zada, Hedron Grinder- Battle for Zendikar

At $0.81 cents you can’t go wrong with this one of a kind Goblin with massive casual appeal.  I mean, really, what combat trick could you play on Zada that pumps your whole team and wrecks your opponent?  I can think of plenty of options…and they ALL make Zada look really appealing.  This is unique, too good to pass up, and super cheap to make for a great bargain.

#2 Smothering Abomination- Battle for Zendikar

Yet another heavily discounted creature that is 4/3 flier for 4 mana with upside.  I can imagine a deck with lots of tokens that uses this as an engine to power through their deck…maybe a deck packing From Beyond…and can really leverage this to great effect.  At $0.41 it is well worth a gamble and if you have a couple of these guys sitting in a box, hold on to them because I would expect that these will only go up as time marches on.


#1 Sire of Stagnation- Battle for Zendikar

Much like Greenwarden of Murasa, this is a very under-priced mythic that can be a huge piece to try and lock out your opponent. Plus this is templated very well for multiplayer games making it a Casual all-star.  At $1.76 this is a steal for a card that could be hugely impactful.  It hasn’t dipped in price much in the last many weeks so this is likely rock bottom, but I would fully expect that it will start to inch up soon.


Well, there we have 10 of the cards that I figure offer excellent value, can offer some extremely powerful abilities, and are super budget friendly right now.  I’m sure that there are plenty of other cards that could have made this list, but these are the 10 that have caught my eye recently.  What have you been eyeing out there?  Leave a comment down below or hit me up on Twitter. As always, thanks for stopping in for a visit and be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.


Bruce Gray

@bgray8791 on Twitter