Ok, we’ve started to see Khans roll out for us and things look spicy. M15, while cool and still the game in town is pretty tame in comparison. So, with that in mind, I thought today I’d go back in the “Way Back” machine and crack open a pack of Gatecrash. I really enjoyed Gatecrash draft and it was really my introduction to drafting and Limited play. I found the format hyper aggressive and if you stumbled even slightly you would find yourself with back against the wall and in real danger of being blown out. It was explosive, powerful, and tons of fun, so the chance to open up a pack brings back a little nostalgia and fond memories. Let’s see what we’ve opened!
This pack is pretty spicy on account of it having 2 rare cards! Everyone loves foil rares…and it is even better when they are playable like Front Line Medic. Frontline Medic is a 3/3 for 3 mana and if you can trigger the battalion can make your whole team indestructible. INDESTRUCTIBLE! In Gatecrash draft getting this to trigger was pretty easy, so this is a first pick bomb. Add in the fact that a foil is usually worth a little bit of value in terms of trade or selling it makes it a pretty appealing first choice.
Glaring Spotlight is a fun little rare that makes Hexproof creatures legal targets for spells and abilities again evening out the playing field. That alone is nice, but let’s be real, nobody is too worried about a ton of Hexproof creatures in a draft enviroment. No, this card is a sweet bomb because you can sacrifice it to make your whole team unblockable. Guaranteed blow out if you end up in a board stall situation and was worth it’s weight in gold for me in multiple drafts during Gatecrash Limited.
The Zameck Guildmage is a solid card because any of the guildmages in Return to Ravnica block are good. The fact that this one can reward you for putting counters on stuff by turning those counters into cards is pretty amazing. The fact that there is a Forced Adaptation in this pack might be the big payoff as well if you can wangle getting both.
Aetherize is a brutal way to tempo out your opponent completely. There is nothing quite like sending their whole team back to their hand and clearing the board. It reminds me very much of Aetherspouts in M15, but a little bit cheaper.
Grisly Spectacle is reasonable unconditional removal that also has a mill effect attached to it. This makes it very solid and something to consider as we move through the pack. The drawback that it is 4 mana and double black meaning you need to be pretty heavy into Black in order to really benefit from it. It’s worth the pick usually, but a tad tough to cast in this format. I’ll have you note that M15 makes it even WORSE because Flesh to Dust is 5 mana, double black, and STILL sees play in every deck playing Black. Just saying.
Spire Tracer is a nice little 1/1 with Evasion in that it has a quasi flying ability. Play this turn 1, slap Forced Adaptation on it turn 2, and you are off to the races to lay a disgusting beat down in short order. This routinely did good work me in the early part of the game and routine started pressuring my opponent’s life total.
Forced Adaptation is just the sort of aura you want to play early. It’s cheap, pumps your creature every turn, and can synergize nicely with the Zameck Guildmage and can get out of control quickly. If you are in a Green strategy this is also an auto include as a mid-round pick.
Sage’s Row Denizen and Nav Squad Commando’s are serviceable creatures that play a key role depending on your strategy. You are unlikely to prioritize these guys super highly, but they do give you solid bodies, useful abilities, and just help plug up the ground for you. They may not be flashy, but not every card in Limited is.
Purge the Profane is not something I value overly. I like making my opponent discard cards, and it is cheaper than the Skull Rend that we saw in the RTR pack a week or two ago, but for 4 mana there are other things I would rather do with my mana. The way to evaluate this card is to ask “in what situations do I want to resolve this?” When I’m behind the answer is a dead no…it doesn’t help me get back in the game in any way. When I’m developing my board I’m not keen on spending my mana on making them discard because I’d rather cast spells that help my position in front of me, not take out their hand. At parity I might be interested depending on what the situation looks like. When I’m ahead I might be more interested to ensure I force them to get rid of that potential answer in their hand. So, with me only interested in casting this card sometimes I would be unlikely to be super keen to pick this up and even less likely to play it.
Shadow Slice and Scatter Arc are both marginal spells that might be relevant if I’m short playable cards, but would not be the usual thing that interests me. The fact that Scatter Arc is limited to Noncreature cards and is 4 mana is frustrating because if I’m playing Blue I don’t want that sort of price tag or restriction on my counter spell. Shadow Slice is a fine direct damage Black spell and comes with Cipher to allow it to recur, but it doesn’t drain life and give it to my total the way Black normally deals direct damage. That makes it less appealing and something I’m more likely to pass on as well.
Finally, Aerial Maneuver is just a bad combat trick. If you have to use it to start killing stuff things have gone sideways because the upgrade is so marginal with this card that it is hardly worth the card slot in your 40 card deck. You’d almost be better off playing another land to ensure that your deck runs smoothly and without a hitch. Pass this and force it on someone because it is highly unlikely you actually want this.
First pick this week is easy. The foil rare card is a no brainer and the fact that it is actually quite a good card actually helps too. I’m all in on the Frontline Medic and will be looking to be pretty aggressive to maximize my Battalion trigger. The good news is that White pairs well with a number of colours and there are plenty of solid creatures in the format so I should be in pretty good shape. Sounds good to me!
So, there we have week 11 of our Crack a pack MTG. I always enjoyed Gatecrash because it was so hyper aggressive. Things moved fast and good deck builders and drafters were rewarded with easy wins, while control players or guys who stumbled on their mana usually ended up pretty dead fast. All in all, it was a fun format and something I would happily go back and draft again.
Thanks for reading again this week. Let me know what you would have picked out this pack by sending me a Tweet. Would you have grabbed the Foil? The Spotlight? Something else? Let me know and let’s compare notes and start the discussion to try and help us all get a little bit better. Next week I’ll be taking on final look at M15 before we start getting ready for Khans and having the draft format get turned on its head pretty quick.
Thanks for reading again this week and until next time may open nothing but Mythic bomb rares!
by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
As I sit here writing we are slightly more than 6 months away from another rotation and seeing all those lovely cards from Return to Ravnica block disappearing from Standard. In the world of Magic, six months is an eternity as there are countless events across the world. The game will change week to week meaning that 6 months will take a very long time and there will be a near infinite combination of cards that can come together to redefine the game. However, in real terms, 6 months isn’t very long at all. In 6 months we’ll be finishing summer up and bracing for the return of cooler weather and another long bout of winter. My work will be restarting the cycle of the school year for school aged children. The new NHL or NFL season will just be starting. 6 months isn’t really that much time…and so it is the perfect time to be checking out those casual playable gems that may have been overlooked. Once again, today I will go through my pick for underappreciated card at each of the 4 card slots (common, uncommon, rare, mythic) in search of those hidden gems that a more casual player can make use of to help make their games fun and yet still keep an eye on their bottom line. Today’s set is Gatecrash.
While I was initially a little underwhelmed by Return to Ravnica (despite the high number of ultra powerful and valuable cards), Gatecrash was right in my wheel house and appealed to me straight away. Boros and Gruul were immediately colour combinations that I could get behind. The Simic colour combination was a little unusual, but the Evolve mechanic that they carried intrigued me and made me curious. Extort and Orzhov quickly proved to be a powerhouse mechanic in a duel and absolutely devastating in a multiplayer game. Dimir’s colour combination is always a force and some of the cards did not disappoint. All in all, it was a set full of terrific cards and some fantastic casual gems that a player like me can use to full advantage.
I also could fully get behind the set because this was the first time I had ventured into the realm of Limited play. I experienced my first ever Draft with Gatecrash and immediately loved the experience. Playing Limited is still my favorite way to play when I can find time to play at my local game shop. I don’t claim to be an expert but I really enjoy the challenge of card evaluation and selection and then building a deck that is hopefully strong enough to get some wins. Everyone is technically on the same even playing field and I have found that it makes for some great variety and fun games.
My common is a little guy that got overlooked for the most part but has time and time again proved to be a valuable little addition to most decks. Shambleshark is a 2 mana 2/1 creature with Flash and the Evolve mechanic. He isn’t going to wow anybody with his stats, but he is very versatile and a nice addition to decks running Green and Blue. Flash is his biggest attribute because it gives him the ability to sneak in at any time. Need a surprise blocker to mix up the combat math? Need an inexpensive trigger to boost another Evolve creature? He has a quasi-haste like ability if you drop him on your opponents end step. He trades favorably with “Bears” and can be used in all sorts of situations. Some will say that this guy saw Standard play and had his moment in the sun, and I fully agree. However, he is not omnipresent like Voice of resurgence, Blood Baron, Loxodon Smiter or some of the other powerful creatures in Standard. He had a role in one particular deck that made waves for about 2 weeks, or until everyone figured it out. However, the Standard format quickly recovered and is very much still defined by the three way dance that Mono-Black, Mono-Blue and Blue/White control. However, this little guy can still be a useful little critter not to be overlooked.
While Gatecrash facilitated a super aggressive format, in no small part to the Gruul and Boros guilds being hyper aggressive, there are a few other cards that can allow for some interesting abilities. One such card starts to push into a hand disruption angle which can be very debilitating to players as the game moves along. Vizkopa Confessor is a pricey 5 mana (1 White, 1 Black, 3 colourless) for a 1/3 with Extort, that when it enters the battlefield you may pay life and your opponent will reveal cards in his hand equal to the life paid and then you get to select a card he will discard. This is an expensive card to play both from the mana invested and then in turn from the standpoint of the life paid to force him to reveal cards. However, if you have gone the route of playing an Orzhov deck you likely have multiple Extort triggers in effect, particularly by the time you hit 5 land to cast this bad boy in which case you could make up the life lost simply by casting spells. Also, if this is a multi-player game, the Extort triggers return an enormous amount of life points, so using life points as a resource to crush the hands of your opponent is probably just fine. The crushing of the hand is only escalated if you can flicker the Vizkopa Confessor with Cloudshift, or recently one of my new favorite tricks from Theros, Triad of Fates.
The biggest problem with this guy is the 1/3 body you get for your 5 mana. It isn’t very big, but you aren’t playing this guy to lay a beating on your opponent. I was running him in an Esper deck that was premised on destroying the hand of my opponent and this guy fit right in. However, while I really like the Vizkopa Confessor, I didn’t like the deck and took it apart. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on him. What it means is that I am looking for another deck to make use of this guy and once I do I will use the ability to target hands of my opponents and leave them crippled and dejected.
My rare card of choice appears on the outset to be a hyper aggressive card, however with a little adjusting it can far more than just be an aggressive beater. Rubblebelt Raiders is a 4 mana (3 hybrid red/green, and 1 colourless) for a 3/3 creature that gets a +1/+1 counter whenever it attacks for each creature you control that is attacking. Ok, in a straight Red/Green deck this card is monstrous. This card rewards R/G for casting dudes and attacking and in the process grows Rubblebelt Raiders into a gigantic monster. However, if left unchecked Raiders become an instant target for a removal spell and then all that hard works goes for nothing. So, how do you get more value for your Rubblebelt Raider? Here’s how.
Instead of looking at Rubblebelt Raiders as a R/G spell, look at the hybrid casting cost as being all Green and then slide Raiders into a Simic build. This will give you access to Zameck Guildmage and the very handy ability to transform +1/+1 counters into cards. So, swing in with your Raiders and friends (I like Elusive Krasis as a starting point, but the more the merrier) and have Raiders power up a bunch of counters. Eventually your opponent will play a removal spell to deal with the ridiculously large monster you have stomping around but this is when you start tapping your lands to turn those counters into cards. Also, you can protect your Raiders with a Simic Charm or Mizzium Skin to grant it hexproof and save your card draw engine. You may or may not lose the raiders, but you can absolutely pickup 2,3 or maybe even 4 extra cards in the process by using your Zameck Guildmage. Give//Take would afford you a similar ability if you lack a Guildmage. Or more enjoyable yet still, Bioshift those counters onto your Elusive Krasis and have your Krasis bring the pain. All those counters create so many possibilities and represent loads of resources that a Simic deck would love to rock. These quirky little relationships allow you to approach your casual game from a slightly different angle and presents you with more options, and potentially more ways to frustrate you opponents.
Once again, mythics are usually very strong and so it hard to identify one that is “underappreciated”, but in this set there is one that is ultimately quite playable, but never really fit anywhere. Borborygmous Enraged was very straight forward and difficult to cast at a massive 8 mana. Deathpact Angel wasn’t much different at 7 mana. However, Master Biomancer was a very reasonable 4 mana and provided for a very interesting ability.
Master Biomancer is a 2/4 creature for 4 (1 blue, 1 green, 2 colourless) that grants each creature entering the battlefield a number of +1/+1 counters equal to Master Biomancer’s power. So, at a minimum, your creatures enter the battlefield with +2/+2, but with the right deck this can result in creatures of a ridiculous size. Slam Master Biomancer in a BUG deck and scavenge an early creature or two on to Master Biomancer and watch your little 1 drops turn into massive bombs. Or, use the counters from Rubblebelt raiders and bioshift the counters onto Master Biomancer for a humungous boost. It takes time, but often in a multiplayer game you can find yourself with an extra turn or two to put this combination together and have it come off looking pretty amazing. Here would be a pretty fun example of how this might play out in a RUG deck rocking mostly Simic creatures:
Turn 5- Island– Attack with Raiders, Experiment one, and Krasis. Raiders get three counters. Second main phase drop master biomancer and bioshift counters off of the Raiders, and now Master Biomancer has 3 counters on it. With one remaining mana cast another experiment one. It comes into play with +5/+5 and is a 6/6 creature ready to lay down the beats…and the counter shenanigans start from there.
For some reason Master Biomancer was largely overlooked despite the obvious benefits it can provide. It takes a little work in order to get Master Biomancer where it can be suitably explosive, but once he comes online he is well worth the investment. You can trade the counters generated for cards, shift them around to make combat math a nightmare, or even use them in conjunction with Simic Manipulator to take control of creatures. This is the perfect casual card for someone who likes to play around with counters and can be very entertaining. Don’t overlook this guy in your trade binder. Instead, sleeve him up and take him out for a spin to see what he can do for you!
There we go…I have gone through my choices for common, uncommon, rare and mythic for Gatecrash that you should go and dig out of that box or that trade binder. Give them a second look. Maybe they can liven things a little the next time you sit down with some pals on a Saturday night. Maybe you can go one better and build them into a funny combination that can make life difficult for an opponent. Whatever you choose to do with them, I’m all ears…I love to hear about how those gems got used, or if you have some of your own that I’ve neglected. The beauty with playing Magic is that everyone has an opinion and every opinion has merit. So, drop me a line and let me know what you like, don’t like, or anything else that is on your mind. Once again, thanks very much and may your next Casual Encounter be loads of fun.
Thrive and Thrash
Gatecrash Event Deck
Other Spells (14)
Rally and Rout
Gatecrash Event Deck
Other Spells (13)
With Gatecrash still fresh out of the pack there are already new decks starting to pop up. We see the aggro meta starting to form with decks like Jund, Boros and Mono Red climbing to the top of this weekends Open series.
Boros Reckoner: This was the big card of the weekend. Reckoner is turning into one of most the sought after rares from Gatecrash. Starting at $3.99 when it was spoiled, it then went up to $9.99 at the release and is now at $14.99. It’s in the maindeck or sideboard of R/W Aggro (Boros) and Mono Red (RDW) with usually a full 4 played. Reckoner is a beast against Rakdos, usually yielding 2 for 1’s when blocking or attacking.
3rd place SCG Standard Open
9th place at SCG Standard open
Experiment One: The new aggressive one-drop we see appearing in the new Jund aggro brews. Has the potential to get to a good aggressive size and once it has two counters becomes very difficult to remove without being forced to waste extra resources.
Ghor-Clan Rampager: Junds new 4-drop that doubles as an aggressive finisher using bloodrush. Giving +4/+4 and trample for RG is quite aggressively cost. I had my eye on this card for Limited already and was thinking it is good enough for standard. We see it used along side Experiment One in this Jund Aggro list.
Brian Braun-Duin 2nd Place at SCG Standard Open series
Eddie Walker 8th place at SCG open series
We will be keeping a close eye on all the different formats over the next few weeks to see which Gatecrash cards get played in Standard, Modern and Legacy. We welcome all feedback and please comment on the articles if you have any thoughts. Until next time…
Greg Thibault (@gregsterism on Twitter)
Regardless if you call it Commander or EDH I’m certain you found some goodies in for a deck you may be working on…I certainly found a bunch of cards that had me thinking.
Lazav, Dimir Mastermind – While he could maybe head an all-in mill deck its probably better to slip him as support in a The Mimeoplasm deck with the hexproof it’s a pretty nice pick the best of the bunch you hit that turn and it could be pretty fun. Too bad for them you CAN copy the Eldrazi and then Bribery it from his deck and yes that’s two Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, nice.
Obzedat, Ghost Council – He makes me want to start work on an Orzhov style of bureaucracy advisors deck. Seems better with less opponents but if you pair it with Vizkopa Guildmage you can work them all down.
Aurelia, the Warleader – She is definitely the card I am going build my aggro Boros deck for. She is also a great include in a Razia, Boros Archangel deck.
Prime Speaker Zegana – Its a wizard and a merfolk so obviously there’s a spot in a deck. If you can get some synergy with a Deadeye Navigator that could draw through your deck nicely.
Borborygmos Enraged – Maybe in some kind of a 70+ land deck that can really make use of him but I haven’t seen that list yet, but I would love to.
Sylvan Primordial – This is just so absolutely ridiculous and ramp a Riku of Two Reflections to copy can be pretty oppressive. This is definitely the top of the cycle.
Diluvian Primordial – As always it’s about timing but by the time you play him it should be at a point where your payoff is ludicrous.
Luminate Primordial – A huge Swords to Plowshares and if you can get a flicker effect going can constantly pick off your greatest threats.
Sepulchral Primordial – Another interesting addition in a Mimeoplasm mill deck.
Molten Primordial – It has potential to get a massive effect but feels like the one of the cycle that could end up with more frequent meh scenarios.
Giant Adephage – When you add that to Doubling Season it just looks like that could go loopy…and I’d love to see the alter in the token.
Ooze Flux – Not super but again you can pull of some shenanigans with it.
Crowned Ceratok – Really nice global effect for swarm decks that that abuse +1/+1 counters.
Serene Remembrance – Well obviously its you getting your best cards back and will again & again…I see some beautiful Riku of Two Reflections interaction, I would love a spell that’s RUG to shuffle itself and six cards from your graveyard back into your library.
Wight of Precinct Six – Interesting zombie that can potentially get humongous.
Hellkite Tyrant – This sick dragon will definitely net you some booty.
Angelic Skirmisher – Besides the obvious inclusion in angel decks she can do some major work in token strategies as well. First strike, vigilance or lifelink to all of your creatures, wow !!! And every combat step, just brutal.
Deathpact Angel – Could find a spot maybe in a Kaalia of the Vast deck but is fighting for precious space.
Shadow Alley Denizen – Relevant as a vampire and will trigger many times.
Merciless Eviction – Just so damn versatile, and much much better when you can recur it to your advantage.
Thespian’s Stage – With so many targets to choose from it’s going to be doing some heavy lifting for you. Looks like one of those support lands I want to squeeze into most decks.
Crypt Ghast – Another ramp for black. He has a fragile body and average cost but helps black ramp strategy by adding the redundancy.
Stolen Identity – Way too expensive to be viable in constructed but the ability to hit artifacts and there should be a way for you to trigger every turn.
With a list like that there must be something to tickle your fancy. To be honest I’m a novice to Commander but have absolutely had a blast every game I’ve played. I’m going to work on an Aurelia deck because I’ve always gone Boros. I love to see cool lists so feel free to send me a tweet and time permitting I’ll get back to you.
– Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on twitter
I present you Three Kings Loot top cards from Gatecrash. These are the cards we think might get played in standard, modern and Legacy. There is another list of the Top cards for EDH/Commander from Gatecrash; we’ve also made a list for Dragon’s Maze.
Make sure to check out my addendum to this article with top cards and deck lists from the latest standard tournaments post-Gatecrash. [Editor’s note] Deck lists and top cards from Dragon’s Maze Standard.
Obzedat, Ghost Council – Ghost Council drains your opponent 2 life straight out of the gate and again every turn you ‘phase’ him. That’s 4 points of life gained and up to 9 points of damage by his second turn out if he connects. And there is a limited amount of instant speed removal that can answer him. This guy could go in a Esper control build, Orzhov mid-range or Junk anyone (I like Avacyn’s Pilgrim). Is it just all hype? Ghost council certainly is interesting.
Aurelia’s Fury – It’s an instant speed Rolling Thunder that will also taps the creatures it hits. Also, players that take its damage can’t cast non-creature spells that turn so you can cast it before their main phase to either protect your creatures against wrath effects or to stop a deck from comboing off.
Blind Obedience – This card could be used effectively against Hellrider/Thundermaw Hellkite decks and maybe even Boros or Rakdos to slow down their haste. It only cost 2 mana and it adds an Extort trigger every spell you cast. Too bad it doesn’t hit lands as well but then it wouldn’t be so cheap to cast.
Legion Loyalist – A one casting cost with haste and a useful ability for all out aggro. I think this little guy has the potential to end up in a Boros or Rakdos deck for standard. Some say he’s the Goblin Guide of this block. He could also find a home in Goblins for Legacy.
Boros Charm – It’s a Flame Rift but better, can make all your creatures indestructible to protect them from wrath effects like Supreme Verdict or other sweeps like Bonfire of the Damned and the third option can come in handy as a surprise endgame to double-strike an unblocked creature for the win or to turn the tides on an otherwise unfavorable combat.
Simic Charm – This is probably the best charm in Limited, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it finds a spot in some standard deck. It’s a Giant growth, or it protects a permanent from a destroy effect even one that can’t be countered such as Abrupt Decay, or it’s can also be an unsummon. It’s obvious why it’s great in limited but will it make a difference in standard or other formats.
Clan Defiance – It’s an answer to a Non-Flier and/or a Flier and/or you can hit your opponent straight to the dome. It’s a nice card worth mentioning and has many options for you to abuse
Skullcrack – The new Flames of the Blood Hand that gives 3 damage instead of 4 but costs 1 less. It could be useful against all the Thragtusk/Sphinx’s Revelation life gain in Standard. It could also be a sideboard versus Soul Sisters in Modern.
Vizkopa Guildmage – There’s been a lot of talk about the instant win combo he makes with Exquisite Blood. Is this a future Standard or even Modern deck?
Illness in the Ranks – An interesting new sideboard tech against token based deck in Standard and Modern. Are the days of Lingering Souls coming to a close?
Glaring spotlight – Can this be the answer to Geist of Saint Traft, Invisible Stalker or Sigarda, Host of Herons in Standard and the Enchantment deck in Modern? May turn out to be a key sideboard answer and is fetchable with Trinket Mage.
Lord of the Void – There has been some talk of him as a sideboard answer against Show and Tell decks to be able to trump their creature drop, but is it really more effective then a Gilded Drake? Might also have a similar effect in Show and Tell decks against the mirror or even Reanimator decks. Just doesn’t seem very reliable.
Enter the infinite – Does this card pair with the Omniscience to win for OmniTell? Seems like it may just be a win more type of card. But it guarantees that you will have each and every combo piece necessary in your hand to just go off. And don’t even look at the casting cost since whatever the plan to cast it will certainly involve doing it for free.
Boros Elite – Similar in style to Wild Nacatl as the one drop 3/3, although the qualifier is much more limiting. This is probably aggressive enough to find a home in a Boros build for Standard, and there may even be room in Modern for Boros that could produce enough cheap hasters to reliably trigger his ability.
I hope you find my list informative and I would love to get some feedback. I have a followup article with more top cards and some deck lists from standard post-Gatecrash right here. Leave me comments and feedback please.
Greg Thibault (@gregsterism)