Tag: magic-the-gathering-strategy

Mike Carrozza - November 6, 2023

Doctor Who Commander Deck review – Masters of Evil Non-Legends

Hello and welcome to my Commander review of the Doctor Who Commander Masters of Evil precon deck available out now! Despite being completely disinterested in the Doctor Who franchise, I am WAY into these decks. There are so many really cool cards and, of particular relevance to
Commander, so so so many legends for that commander slot.
This series will be divided into two parts per Commander precon deck: Legends and new cards. I will nod at important reprints, but that’s about it.

Here are my top five nonlegends from the Masters of Evil followed by the rest in the deck with alittle review. Remember, the top five are just the ones I really like and that tickle my brain.


1. Auton Soldier
A six mana creature clone that removes legendary subtype is still find on rate – Spark Double and Sakashima of a Thousand Faces do that for four mana, which is much better, but that ability still feels worth six mana. Giving that creature myriad is just insane. Gray Merchant of Asphodel anyone?
If you’ve got a commander you love in the command zone and they’ve got a great ETB or leaves the battlefield trigger, I bet you’d love to see this card anytime you play that deck. Make sure you keep this safe but then go crazy.


2. Hunted by The Family
For seven mana, you give four creatures’ controllers a real “if I can’t have one, no one can” ultimatum with my favourite villainous choice card. A seven mana sorcery that doesn’t win the game outright isn’t exactly where you want a card like this to land, but putting the choice on
your opponents to essentially possibly hand you the game makes the table dynamics very interesting.


3. Death in Heaven
Graveyard hate, as much as it pains me to say this, is very good to put in your decks. If one of your opponents has a stack of creatures in their ‘yard, you can look forward to the final chapter giving you all those guys as flipped over Cyberman creatures. Pick up your Ixidor, Reality Sculptor’s, Deadeye Navigator’s, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling’s, and Conjurer’s Closet’s to be able to flip them and get that sweet, sweet value.


4. The Flood of Mars

Islandwalk on a creature that can turn lands into Islands on attack is one of the wildest things I’ve seen. Especially when you can then turn other creatures into more copies of this weird Alien Zombie Horror. If your opponent has difficult creatures, you can make them a copy of The Flood of Mars instead. But then you have to worry about your lands or your other creatures getting sniped, so be aware of that. However, if you’ve got a bunch of 1/1 or 2/2 tokens, giving them a buff and that attack trigger makes them way better on each of your combats.


5. Ensnared by the Mara

Your opponents won’t know what card they’ll be giving you before they make the villainous
choice so there’s a good chance you’ll get to cast a few spells from exile. This is a Prosper,
Tome-Bound all-star in the making. If your opponents are scared of what you’ll rip from their
deck, then they’ll have to take possibly a hefty amount of damage. They can also exile four
lands they really needed. Either way, this is a brutal card to have played against you. I really like


Here are the rest

Clockwork Droid – If you really need to get in for unblockable three damage, you have the option here. It’s fine.


Cyberman Patrol – This is excellent for any artifact creature decks, of course, but afflict three is pretty nuts. Swing in with a 1/1 and it’s either your opponents let that creature live or they lose three life. I like it, but this definitely needs a deck that’s already overwhelming to go with it.


Cybermat – A lot of artifact creatures in this deck really want to be with artifact creature decks.


Cybermen Squadron – Yes, this gives token artifact creatures myriad, too. Myr Battlesphere is a damn tank. Vehicles might be a solid spot to pop in with this.


Dalek Drone – Reminds me of Noxious Gearhulk for a more aggressive deck to put the pressure on. Time for a blink deck, a reanimation deck, or Araumi of the Dead Tide Encore deck to pop this sucker in.


Dalek Squadron – Myriad and menace? This will make games go by like nothing.


Renegade Silent – A growing threat that goads every turn seems fun, but at four mana, it’s not
super impressive. So far a lot of these cards are very clearly meant to enable Davros, Dalek Creator.


Sontaran General – This card is excellent for aggressive decks. Swing with three creatures and make sure a creature per opponent not only can’t block but they get goaded! That’s fantastic.


Sycorax Commander – Not thrilled about giving your opponents a new hand so this will only go in dedicated discard decks or wheel decks.

Time Reaper – This feels hyper-situational. Part of me wants this to be a Spectre but otherwise, this is tech against the Prosper decks.


Vashta Nerada – Shadow is basically unblockable. So an unblockable, indestructible creature that probably grows bigger and bigger every turn? Let’s start the countdown for your opponents.


Weeping Angel – First strike and vigilance means you hope you can block nicely, but it’s not a creature if they cast one that turn. But at least you get to ambush an opponent with flash! Shuffling their creature into their deck is incredible.


Zygon Infiltrator – A clone that is better than it looks at first blush. If you’ve got creatures with stackable static abilities. Nyxbloom Ancient? Have another. If your opponent has one, you get one too!


Delete – An Earthquake variant that saves artifact creatures. Some people are heavy into this, but I don’t see it.


Doomsday Confluence – I love modal spells and I love when they let you pick the same mode as many times as you need. An X spell that’s double X means every two mana gives you another effect. So three mana means one mode, five mana means two, seven means three.


Exterminate! – This card really slaps. You have to be in a Dalek deck to really take full advantage and copy this over and over. Tacking on the three life loss for the creatures’ controller keeps the clock ticking.


Great Intelligence’s Plan – If you can copy this spell enough, you’ll end up emptying your opponents’ hands or you’ll free cast a few things after drawing a full grip. Even getting this once seems pretty great. I really like this card. Six mana is a little steep but I can dig this in the
right deck.


Cyber Conversion – Instant speed to turn down a creature to basically make it useless is pretty solid for two mana. This is picking up traction in cEDH, which is notable, but it’s not my taste, really.


Don’t Blink – Time to hose the Prosper, Tome-Bound and Brago, King Eternal decks. Also,
cycling is great on this for when none of those decks are at the table.


This Is How It Ends – Shuffling a creature into a deck instead of just bouncing or killing it is so annoying because you just know it’s in the deck and you juuuust had it. If you get hit with this during an important attack, I’m sure you’d be so upset. The thing is, this probably won’t be
seeing a lot of play especially when Deadly Rollick is the choice of decks out there. This makes me hope we see more villainous choices and The Valeyard will have a real deck to prop up with.


Cybership – This thing hits like a damn tank and takes their top two cards and makes them crew ready for crack back if you can give it vigilance. This is honestly such a strong card I came close to include it in my top five, but don’t have more to say than this rules!


Laser Screwdriver – Another three mana rock with upside and I have to say that goading a creature is really cool be able to repeat when you need it. And when you don’t, you’ve got options like tapping for any colour.

Midnight Crusader Shuttle – This villainous choice is one of my favourites in the whole deck. This works particularly well with The Beast, Deathless Prince.

Blink – Nobody is going to read this card the right way the first time. This is going to be a star in Aminatou, the Fate Shifter decks looking for a new way to remove annoying creatures.

Day of the Moon – I’m not sold on this one. Goading is great, goading for multiple turns is great. But because you name a creature card, you can’t name tokens like Zombie or something. Maybe you have two opponents with a creature they share and now they have to send them at each other.

Genesis of the Daleks – You get six 3/3 tokens with menace out of this and then either deal 18 damage to one opponent or board wipe everything but your Daleks.

The Sound of Drums – This aura rips so hard. Being able to bounce it back to your hand after
an attack and get to use it again. It’s mana intensive, but it gets my gears going. I like it!

The Toymaker’s Trap – You will never get five cards out of this. Honestly, what an annoying card to be in this product. It is not good and I’m upset it exists.

That does it for Masters of Evil! Stay tuned for Paradox Power soon!


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Mike Carrozza - November 2, 2023

Doctor Who Commander Deck review – Masters of Evil Legends

Hello and welcome to my Commander review of the Doctor Who Commander precon deck available October 13th. Despite being completely disinterested in the Doctor Who franchise, I am WAY into these decks. There are so many really cool cards and, of particular relevance to
Commander, so so so many legends for that commander slot. This series will be divided into two parts per Commander precon deck: Legends and New Cards. I will nod at important reprints, but that’s about it. Here are my top five legends from the Masters of Evil followed by the rest of the legends in the deck with a little review. Remember, the top five are just the ones I really like and that tickle my

1. Davros, Dalek Creator
I like when the face commander of these decks is interesting enough to land in the top five. I have to admit that when I first saw this I wasn’t sure it would be great. Having seen some of the precons in action, this one over performed in my opinion. This is a bit of a slow burn commander but does so much. Every time you deal three damage to an opponent, you at the very least create a 3/3 menace creature to get in the next turn for the villainous choice to hit all of your opponents. It kind of spreads that way. The card draw is pretty sweet but that discard is also pretty great. Of course, if you make your opponents discard all their cards, the villainous choice becomes pretty easy, but let’s get there with Davros and Pain Magnification.

2. The Beast, Deathless Prince
This card is very cool. Four mana, but enters with a grip of stun counters so it’s not busted. It’s also just a solid Threaten effect that adds a little extra evasion. The juice in this card is the last ability “whenever a creature deals combat damage to its owner, untap The Beast and draw a card.” This really drives home what you want to do with this deck which is Act of Treason your opponents’ creatures, hit them with their own guys, and draw into the rest of your Threaten effects. It feels pretty straightforward and like it will only affect opponents who’ve got creature worth taking! They can’t be mad, they brought the creatures to the table!

3. The Master, Formed Anew
There’s something about this card and I don’t know what it is, but I love it. I keep coming back to this legend, trying to figure it out. It feels like a more constricted Mairsil, the Pretender – you get one less colour, you can’t copy artifacts, and the creatures you exile with a counter have to be in play. Not to mention you need to cast The Master, Formed Anew to get the exile. How do we make this work? Bounce and Blink effects!

Sanctum of Eternity and the like will make sure you keep bringing back The Master, but blinking him with something like Thassa, Deep-Dwelling will allow you to cycle through the creatures you’ve “taken over”. Need that Ravenous Chupacabra again? Blink the commander,
buddy! I don’t know how to make this work, but I am determined to make it happen.

4. The Rani

The last Grixis commander to focus on enchantments in anyway was Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor aka the Curse commander. The Rani offers a bit more of a combat focused twist to turn your opponents’ creatures into minions to do your bidding. Then, when the game is
getting down to one on one, you can pile the Auras onto a creature of your own to pump it. I love Constellation and cards like Wicked Visitor that care about enchantments hitting the graveyard. Pop Firkraag, Cunning Instigator into the 99 and enjoy running the table!

5. The Master, Multiplied
This is the breakout star of this deck by a mile. To explain how this textbox works, when The Master, Multiplied attacks, you’ll get copies for each other opponent not already being attacked. Because they’re tokens, they don’t get sacrificed to the legend rule and the delayed
trigger on Myriad won’t exile your tokens. Now you’ve got three copies of The Master as long as you have three opponents. Next combat, each of the three The Masters, Multipled has Myriad, so each one is making two more copies.
And that’s just on its own. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Jaxis, the Troublemaker, and Rionya, Fire Dancer no longer exile or sacrifice the copies they make at end of turn. There’s a lot of brewing to be done with The Master, Multipled. I’m excited and I’m a little scared!


Here are the rest

Ashad, the Lone Cyberman – Ashad oddly seems like a Voltron aristocrat which I don’t know that we’ve really fully seen. Giving nonlegendary artifact spells Casualty 2 once a turn means that Vedalken Orrery and Leyline of Anticipation will be all-stars in a deck that might wouldn’t
mind getting two instant speed Spine of Ish Sahs.

Cult of Skaro – This feels like all upside. Grixis extra combats seems like the best way to build this commander. Swing in, get something great, keep the party going. Could be a fun Assault Suit commander to just really group slug.

Missy – Missy is already shoring up some infinite combos with Goblin Bombardment and Ruthless Ripper/Horde Ambusher/Dragon’s Eye Savants. The Ripper with Missy and any sackoutlet will end the game. Don’t forget to pack Conjurer’s Closet and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling.
That end step villainous choice is incredible. Either draw three cards or deal hopefully a ton of damage to everyone.

Rassilon, the War President – This is another Dimir commander from the deck that has me inspired to build it. Pack a Paradox Haze and build yourself a second hand. Make sure to add a ton of life gain then add a Bitterblossom so you can conspire your other noncreature spells
from exile. Hell, make a copy of that too. Oh, god, I’m building this deck aren’t I…

The Cyber-Controller – This is a great mill commander! Ixidor, Reality Sculptor can help you flip over the cards that you get that might be worth the time, but ultimately, this isn’t going to be super popular. Cybermen cannot be flipped face up without outside help. Conjurer’s Closet, Deadeye Navigator, and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling are the other ones that come to mind.

The Dalek Emperor – Niche creature type, villainous choice, affinity for something that doesn’t have a ton of support. I don’t really like it much.

The Master, Gallifrey’s End – This is a tough one to evaluate because the it requires non-token artifacts dying and being exiled and an opponent decides to give you a token copy of it or… lose 4 life? Four life piles up but you need the artifact creatures to die and you must exile them. Maybe with Biotransference? The worst Master by a mile.

The Master, Mesmerist – There are 14 creatures in Dimir with natural Skulk. The Master, Mesmerist can give creatures Skulk but you’ll likely be activating this to target opponents’ creatures. Myriad, clones, token copies – all good ways to expand the Skulk gang to keep your grip full.

The Valeyard – A voting commander in Grixis? Fine? Villainous choice isn’t well supported enough for this to helm the deck, to be honest.

Vislor Turlough – The only black Doctor’s companion (aside from Clara Oswald, who is technically colourless). I don’t know if this guy is worth it unless you keep your opponent’s hand stacked. Or if you keep him for extra value and have a hand that keeps going away. Either way, I really really want to like this card, but I don’t think I can get there.\

Here are reprints that are worth your time:
Solemn Simulacrum (new art is great), Blasphemous Act, Snuff Out, Lightning Greaves, Arcane Signet, Sol Ring, Talisman of Dominance, Talisman of Indulgence, Thought Vessel, Propaganda, Wound Reflection, Dragonskull Summit, Drowned Catacomb, Fiery Islet,
Haunted Ridge, Reliquary Tower, River of Tears, Shipwreck Marsh, and Stormcarved Coast.


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Mike Carrozza - October 23, 2023

Doctor Who Commander Deck review – Timey-Wimey Non-Legends

Hello and welcome to my Commander review of the Doctor Who Commander precon decks available October 13th. Despite being completely disinterested in the Doctor Who franchise, I am WAY into these decks. There are so many really cool cards and, of particular relevance to
Commander, so so so many legends for that commander slot.

This series will be divided into two parts per Commander precon deck: Legends and new cards. I will nod at important reprints, but that’s about it.

Also, given that Doctor’s Companion and all the new Doctor cards means that they have this parasitic partner mechanic and can lead to so many combinations. There are 26 Doctor’s Companions and 15 eligible Doctors to combine meaning there are 390 possible commander
pairings for this set.

Here are my top five nonlegendary from the Timey-Wimey Doctor Who Commander followed by the rest of the legends in the deck with a little review. Remember, the top five are just the ones I really like and that tickle my brain.


1. The Parting of the Ways
If you need to be convinced of this card’s strength, I recommend checking out the Decked Out Early Doctor Who Access episode on YouTube. VeggieWagon plays this and hits five nonland cards off the top of his deck and ends up pulling off casting them the next turn! This is magical Christmasland and all, but we can witness it happening. The likelihood of hitting multiple worthwhile nonland cards is pretty high. Time Travel, then time travel again is like ramping two per nonland card you’ve suspended. Then by the time the final chapter hits, your opponents will likely each have an artifact to destroy. This Saga would be amazing to copy or flicker. Also, for the Prosper, Tome-Bound decks that want to slow roll into big turns, this is a good one to consider.


2. Nanogene Conversion
I have no real plan for this but there’s just so much to like about this card – at least to me, specifically. I have an Esper clones deck that this can slot right into. The art is unsettling and creepy, it’s perfect! Turning all creatures into Ayara, First of Locthwain and then playing a black
creature can claw you back into the game or outright end it. I don’t know what the coolest or most efficient card to target would be, but Nanogene Conversion is a card I’ll keep thinking about from now on whenever a new cool creature is released or I’m just click-clacking along on Scryfall.com. Nanogene Conversion is one of those cards that makes me feel smart when it
clicks. It’s a piece of a puzzle and you’re not sure what you’re putting together.


3. Flesh Duplicate
I clearly love a clone. How about Phantasmal Image with Vanishing 3? Sometimes all you need is three turns with a creature to wrap things up. The rate on this is just too good to pass up. You can blink it or proliferate its counters, you can bring it back with a Sun Titan or other three mana value reanimation effects. It’s flexible and great on rate. What’s not to like?


4. The Pandorica
The Pandorica might seem expensive since the first time you remove something, you’ll have sunken five mana into it, but with so many decks dependent on their commander, this feels like the right way to really cut someone below the knees. Maybe you’re not up against that kind of
deck, there’s always a Smothering Tithe or Rhystic Study out there ready to be set aside. You can also save something of yours before a board wipe, but remember, it can only be activated at sorcery speed and you can’t really save something in response to another thing on the stack.


5. Everybody Lives!
This is objectively the card that people are talking about the most for cEDH or higher powered Commander. You prevent a win or a loss, you prevent board wipes or removal. For two mana. Two mana! This might not be Teferi’s Protection, but Everybody Lives! is mentioned in the same tier right now. This belongs in any deck that can run it, but really will most likely be best applied to the cEDH tables. It is, most likely, the strongest card in the whole set. Here are the rest of them!


Here are the rest of them!

Adipose Offspring – These adorable looking little aliens are 2/2s in a can. With the Emerge alt casting cost and a creature with a big enough butt, you can get effect reminiscent of Ghoulcaller Gisa. It’s cute, it’s fun, it belongs in Doran, the Siege Tower and Arcades, the
Strategist decks.


Atraxi Warden – As will be with a lot of these cards, this is a suspend card for a commander precon based on suspend and using the Time Travel ability to speed things up.So naturally, the “uncommon” cards made to this end are going to be extremely well balanced. This should
have been able to exile any creature, tapped or untapped.


Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – With Caverns of Ixalan coming next month, keep an eye on these Dinosaurs. Dinos on a Ship is a solid body with a solid anthem and if you get it off a suspension, you should have 19 power/toughness on board and 12 of that is in the air.


Judoon Enforcers – Getting this down from Suspend means you want to be able to have this exiled by turn three-to-five latest. When your opponents have armies, they’ll only be able to send one creature your way and it better be able to get by an 8/8 or they’ll lose it.


Sibylline Soothsayer – This is pretty solid for a three drop! You flip until you hit mana value three or greater and you get a bit of a deal on casting whatever you hit. Three time counters is all that stands between you and a – fingers crossed – bomb. This isn’t a bad target for copying,
blinking, reanimating, etc. Prosper, Tome-Bound and Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald decks get little boost from this and a few other cards in this deck.


Star Whale – Another in the Judoon Enforcers and Atraxi Warden camp where they are clearly designed for the precon environment but will only really matter for certain decks.


Time Beetle – A great way to fudge the number of time counters on suspended cards and permanents that use them. Skulk means as long as nobody has a one power creature, Time Travel will go your way.


All of History, All at Once – The text box on the extended border version of this is so satisfying and clean. “Time Travel. Storm” is elegant and efficient. Bringing this to a storm count of three likely means that you’re going to get all you suspended cards hitting at the same time.


Coward // Killer – Excellent against creature typal decks and fine in time counter decks. Bit of a dud to me.


Ecstatic Beauty – This seems amazing in a suspend deck, but Prosper, Tome-Bound decks know this is likely going to be an early turn play every time. Let this come off suspend when you control Prosper and you’ll get a bonus Treasure while going through the three cards you
just drew on impulse.


Everything Comes to Dust – This is pretty great in decks based on a creature type or happens to have a lot of creatures of the same type. Of course, it’s tough to play this and convoke using Human creatures because so many of Magic’s creatures are Humans. That said, destroying all
artifact and enchantments is still worth a slot.


The Wedding of River Song – This is pretty sweet if  you want to make a friend at the table. You and an opponent draw two cards and suspend something. You get a Time Travel, but they don’t. This card is probably meant just for the precon, but this is a very nice card. The art is beautiful. The card feels like it can turn the tide for two players.


Wibbly-wobbly, Timey-wimey – This is the “Cantrip with set mechanic” of the deck. Time Travel and draw a card. Excellent. No notes. Except “wobbly-wobbly timey-wimey” makes me want to dibbity-dobbitty, die in a ditchity.


Gallifrey Falls // No More – An important detail from the release notes of the set for this card: “If you cast both halves of this spell fused, the targeted creatures will be dealt 4 damage first and then be phased out, even if they had less than 4 toughness. Any abilities that trigger based on those creatures being dealt damage will trigger.” This is perfect for my Brash Taunters deck. Deal four damage to every creature and save yours from death and exile. No More can be cast on its own like a tiny Teferi’s Protection.


Run For Your Life – This is kind of a pseudo-unblockable for two creatures and being able to escape it means you can get in at opponents pretty easily. This is very likely a top-down, flavour-first design that plays great in the precon, but there are other ways to get what you
want from this out of other cards.


Psychic Paper – I have no idea how, but this card, much like Spy Kit, is a card hoping to be broken someday. I have no idea what purpose can be served by choosing a new creature card name for a creature, but at least it grants creature type bonuses to a creature that doesn’t have the ones you want. The Scarab God can now be a Zombie with Psychic Paper and it can’y be blocked! Time to hit like a truck.


RMS Titanic – Double Strike won’t let you double dip on the Treasures here so be sue to use damage doublers to get bang for your buck, but really, seven Treasures for smacking an option is pretty much what I’ve been hoping for. It’s like The Reaver Cleaver for this one Vehicle and
you need to sacrifice it. It’s time for Dictate of the Twin Gods and Fiery Emancipation to pay off even more.


Rotating Fireplace – This card is excellent in proliferate decks like Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice and in this Time Travel deck. Having Time Travel on the four mana ability can be huge in the late game but mainly will be for this precon deck.


The Moment – This is a great little artifact that can save your creatures from whatever hits them. Then when you need it, it’s like a Ratchet Bomb or Filigree Sylex. Nice piece of protection. What kind of creatures do you need to save for this to be worth it?


Crack in Time – Getting three creatures out of the way for a few turns is pretty useful. If you can keep adding time counters, your opponents won’t want to commit creatures to the board since you keep taking them away.


Four Knocks – I can’t believe I get to say this, but White has a better card draw nowadays. Tocasia’s Welcome and Welcoming Vampire are solid ways to trigger a draw per turn without it needing to be on your turn or worrying about them going away. This is a flavour included for some decks.


Regenerations Restored – This is a super projected extra turn spell that essentially will let you scry 1 and gain a life a few turns before an opponent nugs this with removal. If you can protect it and maybe speed up the countdown, you’ll have another turn in no time. Try it in enchantress decks where you can copy enchantments and protect them well. Imagine having a few of these go off at the same time!


The Day of the Doctor – A Saga that “draws” you three legends and can be a board wipe in a Doctor-centric deck is pretty sweet, but unless you’ve got a secret commander thing going, there are other card draw spells. I don’t see this one being super relevant outside of Doctor


The Eleventh Hour – I like the final chapter most because it can copy another legendary creature and not have to be sacrificed due to the legend rule since they don’t share a name. I think it’s tough to properly evaluate a Saga when all you like is the last chapter.


The Girl in the Fireplace – For a Saga with a defensive first chapter, it sure wants you to be attacking in chapters two and three. The third one can be devastating in a time counter deck.


Ominous Cemetery – It’s colourless removal on a land. That’s worth a look-see just based on that. Six mana is a little high, but coming from a graveyard player, the shuffle into the deck is a nice touch. I’d be upset but can’t be too upset, it’s not like you exiled it!


Sonic Screwdriver, TARDIS, Trenzalore Clocktower – I reviewed these in my Blast From the Past article.
Alright, next time, we’ll have another Doctor who deck for you to sink your teeth into!


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Mike Carrozza - October 21, 2023

Doctor Who Commander Deck review – Timey-Wimey Legends

Hello and welcome to my Commander review of the Doctor Who Commander precon decks available October 13th. Despite being completely disinterested in the Doctor Who franchise, I am WAY into these decks. There are so many really cool cards and, of particular relevance to
Commander, so so so many legends for that commander slot.

This series will be divided into two parts per Commander precon deck: Legends and new cards. I will nod at important reprints, but that’s about it. Also, given that Doctor’s Companion and all the new Doctor cards means that they have this parasitic partner mechanic and can lead to so many combinations. There are 26 Doctor’s Companions and 15 eligible Doctors to combine meaning there are 390 possible commander pairings for this set. Here are my top five legends from the Timey-Wimey followed by the rest of the legends in the deck with a little review. Remember, the top five are just the ones I really like and that tickle my brain.


1. The War Doctor
This just has to be one of my fave aggro commanders we’ve gotten in a while. Slap the Lightning Greaves on The War Doctor and play a Swords to Plowshares on a blocker, ping a mana dork, and get another counter. Lots of Proliferate shenanigans since Phyrexia: All Will Be One to get time counters like that, but there are so many ways to pop cards into exile…such as impulse draw! Professional Face-Breaker turns your Treasures into card draw and extra
counters. Alms allows you to pay one mana to exile cards from your graveyard and trigger The War Doctor. Crumbling Sanctuary is a bonkers card that I really hope makes the cut in this deck. Even blinking triggers this Doctor.

All in all, this guy is really, really strong and I think we’re going to see a few of these decks
floating around.


2. The Eleventh Doctor
This is such a cool card to build around. The evasion won’t always be necessary but baking it
into an activated ability means that you’ll spend two mana to suspend a bigger card. Double
Strike and suspend two cards from your hand. “But Mike, cards are suspended with counters
equal to its cost so it’s like you’re paying…with time.”
Yeah but there are cards in this set that have “time travel” which allows you to remove counters
from suspended cards. There’s also stuff like Clockspinning that does the same.
Let’s not forget that when you give a creature with power 3 or less unblockable if you pump it
afterward, it still won’t be able to be blocked! You can also use it on your opponents’
creatures when you need to make a deal.
Also, note that if you suspend something without a mana cost, it’ll have no time counters
which means that it can’t trigger the part that says “When the last time counter is removed from
this card, you may cast this card without paying its mana cost.” You need time counters on the
card. When it comes to companions, I think Amy Pond might be the best Companion in
another colour since she can reduce the time counters on damage.

3. Donna Noble
Donna is a card I’ve loved since I’ve seen her.
I have a Sevinne, the Chronoclasm deck built around effects like Stuffy Doll and Brash Taunter
– effects that turn damage dealt to things I control into damage to my opponents.
Donna gives me a way to turn two creatures into Brash Taunters.
Is Donna Noble a great card? No, there are cards like Ill-Tempered Loner whose backside gives
all your permanents this ability. Donna Noble is however a version of this that can live in the
command zone and with a Doctor. For my purposes an Azorius Doctor would do but we’ll see
if that switch happens. Either way, I like this kind of effect where maybe your opponents are
weary of blocking an attacker with their beefy blocker. Or maybe you just play a Star of
Extinction and kill an opponent…or two.

4. The Ninth Doctor
This is an interesting card that comes way down the line from Paradox Haze and closer to
Sphinx of the Second Sun.
A way to grant multiple upkeeps is definitely a cool idea. Doubling this effect would be even
cooler, right Clara Oswald? I immediately think of upkeep triggers like the Court cycle from
Commander Legends and Wilds of Eldraine (ie. Court of Ambition and Court of Ardenvale).
There’s also a ton of cool stuff like Twilight Prophet or Keen Duelist. What about Skrelv’s Hive
or Bitterblossom?
I really like the idea of building this as a Grixis commander with Clara Oswald, but because
Clara lets you choose a colour, you can make this Grixis, Jeskai, Temur, or just straight up
Izzet. Having a reliable way to get additional upkeeps sitting in your command zone means that
the floodgates are opening for brewing season. Trust me, we’re going to see some cool stuff
and hopefully, this card will see a renaissance time and time again. I think it’s so cool! Just be
sure to protect him so he untaps during your untap step.

5. Sally Sparrow
Sally Sparrow is a solid creature granting you instant speed casting for your creature spells.
That alone is pretty great for something hanging out in your command zone. Add to her the fact
that if you exile a creature you control – whether by flickering or blinking or just dying – you will
get a Clue token out of the deal. It might not seem like much, but Clue tokens get you back
into a game or end up being quite helpful in other ways in the right deck. This isn’t a very
powerful card, but it can be a role player or a seemingly innocuous commander.
Here are the rest of them!

Rose Tyler – Rose is efficiently costed but definitely needs you to lean in hard with the time
counters. She’s great with a few of the Doctors but is probably best suited with her OG pairing
of The Tenth Doctor. Speaking of which…

The Tenth Doctor – This one is pretty impressive! You don’t need to attack with David Tennant
to get the attack trigger and when you suspend something it’s always three time counters as
opposed to The Eleventh Doctor’s ability making it equal to mana value. The activated ability
speeds things along extremely well to the point where some turns, spending the seven mana
post-combat might be the best move.

Amy Pond – I like Amy Pond for this deck and for her Partner Rory Williams, but ultimately, this
is a suspend only card. Jhoira of the Ghitu type of card that speeds things along. Definitely
good with The Tenth Doctor and The Eleventh Doctor.

Rory Williams – This feels like a flavour design which is a cool puzzle, don’t get me wrong, but
a two mana 3/3 with First Strike and Lifelink is only really impressive if you get it down for the
two mana when you pay for it. I bet this is going to be good when it hits, but when you cast it
not from exile, you’re paying WU for a Clue token and hoping you make it three turns or Amy Pond puts the smackdown on somebody.

Astrid Peth – This is a really cheap beater that cranks out the Food tokens. Worth a shot in
Othelm/Wernog or decks that love Academy Manufactor. Explore is also a wonderful mechanic
because it’s drawing lands or card selection. I like Astrid plenty!

Idris, Soul of the TARDIS – There’s something busted in this one I feel it. Either that or you’re
just playing huge artifacts and swinging hard. Triplicate Titan, Wurmcoil Engine, Cityscape Leveler, Su-Chi Cave Guard, Reaver Titan, or, my fave, Portal to Phyrexia.

Jenny, Generated Anomaly – Explore is a great keyword and to explore twice when this gets
through for combat damage means you won’t be hurting for lands or you’ll have a big double
striker. Not my thing, but solid!

Kate Stewart – This one feels like I need to do a lot more research on to get the most out of her,
but the way she reads is that she wants time counters on permanents you control meaning
suspend won’t do anything for her. It’s time counters on the battlefield. Great for when The War Doctor’s got a stack, but if you’ve just got a few Vanishing cards and no way to proliferate, the
eight mana investment to pump your team may not feel worth it. We’ll see! Not my speed.

Martha Jones – Three mana 3/2 ETB create a Clue which you can cash in to make something
unblockable is sick. It doesn’t have to be your creatures, it doesn’t limit to a single Clue being
cracked, it doesn’t require you to sacrifice the Clue a specific way. If you sacrifice a Clue,
Martha and another target creature can’t be blocked. Excellent card.

The Face of Boe – This card is interesting in the way that I feel like it’ll only get better as time
goes on. WotC won’t stop making Suspend cards so every time that comes up, the Jeskai
Suspend cards become something to take a peek at.

Wilfred Mott – In a deck with a low enough curve, you’ll find yourself getting selective value off
of this more than you know. Plus, this is an excellent reason to nudge toward Jeskai with The Ninth Doctor (even though Wilfred isn’t a Doctor’s Companion).

That does it for the legends of the set, but because this deck has more non legendary cards, I’ll
do reprints of note here!

Here are reprints that are worth your time:
Farewell, Fractured Identity, Inspiring Refrain, Clockspinning, Lightning Greaves – Foil, Arcane Signet – Surge Foil, Sol Ring, Wedding Ring, Thought Vessel, As Foretold, Grasp of Fate, Deserted Beach, Fiery Islet, Glacial Fortress, Stormcarved Coast, Sundown Pass, and Sunbaked Canyon.

Keep an eye out for the next part of this deck review – the nonlegendary new cards!!

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Mike Carrozza - October 19, 2023

Doctor Who Commander Deck review – Blast from the Past Non-Legen...

Hello and welcome to my Commander review of the Doctor Who Commander precon decks available October 13th. Despite being completely disinterested in the Doctor Who franchise, I am WAY into these decks. There are so many really cool cards and, of particular relevance to Commander, so so so many legends for that commander slot.

This series will be divided into two parts per Commander precon deck: Legends and new cards. I will nod at important reprints, but that’s about it.

Here are my top five nonlegends from the Blast from the Past followed by the rest of the in the deck with a little review. Remember, the top five are just the ones I really like and that tickle my
brain. Here is my article on Blast from the Past Legends.


Here we go!

1. Displaced Dinosaurs
Let’s begin with the only nonlegendary creature in the Blast from the Past precon deck. Displaced Dinosaurs is one of the funkiest and most fun creatures I’ve seen in a while. If it were legendary, this would be super popular in command zones everywhere.

This is a finisher, this is a combo piece, this is a silly, silly card.

I have a Mike, the Dungeon Master/Will the Wise (aka Othelm and Wernog) deck that makes a ton of tokens and plays a ton of legends. This is going to be a finisher in that deck. This also does wild stuff like turning your Sagas into creatures and when they get sacrificed, they trigger your Zulaport Cutthroat or Vicious Shadows. This turns your late game into an army in a can. Did you draw a Mind Stone on turn eight and you’ve got enough mana? How about dropping it anyway and while you’re at it, make it a freaking 7/7! This is hilarious and goofy but also just really strong. This is the Magic that I love. Tickle my brain, over here!


2. Five Hundred Year Diary
This is a four-mana mana rock that enters the battlefield tapped. That means it over-performed in development and needed some gating. Clues are very easy to come by in Commander and
getting a mini pseudo kind of Tolarian Academy activation on anything is bound to be worth it. Lonis, Cryptozoologist decks are itching for this to release already.

There are many ways to untap artifacts and this card is going to benefit from any of those effects. We might even have an effect like that in my top five! Who knows? (Me.)


3. The Night of the Doctor
This is a creature wrath effect on a permanent entering the battlefield with reanimation that can probably pull you ahead. The idea of this being on an enchantment, a permanent type that can
be copied fairly easily in the right decks or even flickered tells me that Aminatou decks are going to try to find a way to loop this. Given that the sacrifice happens when the second ability
resolves and there are still counters, there’s gonna be some shenanigans to attempt, but the cleanest of all would be enchantment recursion. Heliod, the Radiant Dawn or Neva, Stalked by
Nightmares can buy back your The Night of the Doctor to play again down the line. Anikthea, Hand of Erebos swinging at an opponent to resurrect The Night of the Doctor after slamming a
Heroic Intervention feels like it could be such a brutality. Give your board indestructible and you can keep looping the effects with Calix, Guided by Fate. There are ways to take advantage of
this card. It’ll be grindy, but interesting.


4. Reverse the Polarity
A modal spell is always worth a second look. At its base level, it’s a Cancel. Sometimes, the power and toughness switch can absolutely devastate a Wall/Defender deck. But to have a defensive spell against cascade/storm and an offensive spell in the final mode makes this a fantastic card. It’s important to note that this isn’t just about your creatures being unblockable. Sometimes, an
opponent will swing at another opponent of yours and you can swoop in and help take out that opponent. Or as a game-ender, you can wreck face on your own. Either way, there’s a lot of
versatility on this card!


5. Sonic Screwdriver

Speaking of versatility, here’s a three-mana rock I think might make the cut in a few decks teetering on the two vs three-mana value mana rock debate. Being a Manalith is the minimum a three-mana rock can be, but all of these abilities are quite strong. Untapping another artifact can mean using your Five Hundred Year Diary for double. If you use Liquimetal Coating or Torque, you can get into some shenanigans there. Two mana and tap, effectively making it three mana, to scry 1 is really steep, but three mana and tap to make a creature unblockable is a great spot to be with your mana rock. Get in for value or for the kill. Use it on an opponent’s creature, even. All in all, I think there’s much to like here.


Here are the rest!

Crisis of Conscience – Unless I’m in the heaviest of token decks, I don’t know that I’d play this. It destroys even your non-token enchantments and artifacts. Otherwise, you’re just hating on a
token deck? I don’t know. People seem to like this, but I’m really not sold.

The Five Doctors – Six mana, you tutor or Raise Dead up to five Doctors. For 11 mana, you get to put five creatures into play whose mana value is very likely way higher than that. Plus it can
be a reanimation spell in green, you don’t see that much. I don’t care for tutors, but I see how this is cute in this deck.

Traverse Eternity – This card is pretty sweet in the right spot. Historic batching means that you’ve got a wider need for this to catch something. If you’ve got an expensive commander,
this is an easy inclusion. If you’re running Sagas, consider it! If you’re in an artifact deck, you can run this as a more flexible One with the Machine.

Twice Upon a Time // Unlikely Meeting – A Doctor tutor and extra turn spell in one that requires you to have two Doctors. Niche, but fine.

Time Lord Regeneration – A sweet Polymorph effect for Doctor specific decks or Changeling decks. It’s fine, but especially cool to see in blue because it’s using similar space as black’s
Malakir Rebirth type effects.

Ace’s Baseball Bat – This is great for an Equipment deck centred around a legendary creature (like a Voltron deck), but really, it’s fine. It’s solid rate for a card, but it’s just fine.

Bessie, the Doctor’s Roadster – The is really cute! Two mana surprise unblockability on a 3/4 and the crew cost is really low. It’s solid!

TARDIS – A 2/4 flying Vehicle for two that gives your next spell cascade on attack is ridiculously good rate. Easy to crew, all the Doctors can (flavour win). If you’re playing Planechase, you get
to planeswalke too! Really solid, can go into any deck, I can’t be mad at it.

An Unearthly Child – A Saga for Doctors, Doctor’s Companions, and/or Vehicles. It doesn’t tutor, but if your building around a card with these attributes, it can basically tutor, I guess? I’m
not high on this outside of the precon.

Banish to Another Universe – A Banishing Light that can potentially and likely cost one or two mana. Solid upgrade.

City of Death – I love this card for my Abzan deck that runs Preston, the Vanisher and Ratadrabik of Urborg. Excellent with The Sixth Doctor for sure, definitely interesting in a bunch of places, but be careful Esix, Fractal Bloom players. This will create a token for you once a turn for six turns. You won’t be able to do the big token thing after this goes off at the beginning of your turn.

Gallifrey Stands – This is great for decks that are running all the Doctors and love a theme. If you can keep looping a Doctor from your graveyard to hand and play it for free, maybe it’s worth it, but from my perspective, this is just perfectly at home in this precon.

The Caves of Androzani – This will lock down some creatures for like four or five turns and will also grant your planeswalkers a little boost. Any other counter synergies are gravy, but chapters 1-3 are solid. Four is a Doctor tutor which may not be relevant but hey, all the more reason to run in Aminatou.

The Curse of Fenric – Such a weird Saga! You can Beast Within a creature per player but they get Deathtouch, then you can strip something of all abilities and make it a vanilla 6/6 before forcing the 6/6 to fight a death touching Mutant. It’s such a fun ride but where to put it besides Saga decks?

The Sea Devils – Another very strange Saga! Create two 2/2 islandwalkers and at the third chapter, any Salamander that hits an opponent bites a creature of theirs. Not great but the more Salamanders or Changelings get printed, this can be silly.

The War Games – This spreads the love and damage around nicely and really lets you hose the Warrior deck at the table. It’s cute, not great. A precon card, that’s for sure.

Trial of a Time Lord – Nine times out of ten this just reads “exile target Commander” on the first, second, and third chapter. I love the flavour of this card very much and think it’s great to have
in a voting deck for theme. Solid card, strange art.

Gallifrey Council Chamber – Changelings and Doctor decks only basically right? Legendary potentially five-colour land.

Trenzalore Clocktower – Another only in a deck with a Doctor basically. Or Time Lord so some of the Companions are eligible. Changelings as well. This is just Midnight Clock on a land, it’s
slower because it’s not each upkeep, but it’s on a land so…I don’t know. Not high on it except in Doctor decks.


But wait, there’s more!

I won’t be covering the planechase cards, but here are notable reprints! Aside from Heroic Intervention and Three Visits, it’s mainly staples and rocks. There isn’t crazy value in the reprints, but that’s not what we’re here for. Here they are!

Three Visits, Heroic Intervention, Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares, Arcane Signet, MindStone, Sol Ring, Talisman of Progress, Talisman of Unity, Thought Vessel, Celestial Colonnade,
Deserted Beach, Dreamroot Cascade, Glacial Fortress, Horizon Canopy, Overgrown Farmland, Waterlogged Grove.

That does it for Blast from the Past. Stay tuned for the other decks in the Doctor Who Commander line!

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Kyle A Massa - March 28, 2016

5 Quick Prerelease Tips

Play the Ten Drop – 5 Quick Prerelease Tips

Ah, the prerelease. The first time we get to play with those shiny new cards. It’s also one of the few times of the year that we get to play Sealed deck (which may or may not be an exciting prospect, depending on your tastes.) Eh, whatever
––just hope for a bomb.

If you’ve never been to a prerelease before or just want a refresher, here are some quick tips, tricks, and suggestions for having a good time!


Do a Little Research Beforehand

You’ve probably already checked out the spoiler, but it never hurts to go a little deeper. Consider the strengths of the colors, the possible synergies, the cards you’d be thrilled to open and the cards you’d rather not see. For instance, if you made a vampire deck, it might help to consider a hypothetical ratio of discard enablers to madness spells. This helps for faster and better deck construction.


Find Your Bombs

Sealed deck, more so than draft, is a bomb driven format. A bomb is basically a card that, if unanswered, will win you the game by itself. Think Archangel Avacyn, Arlinn Kord, Sigarda, Heron’s Gracethose kinds of cards.

A word of warning: don’t be deceived by rarity. Despite the above examples, a rare (or even a mythic rare) does not a bomb make. Altered Ego is a great example. Sure, it’s a big, splashy spell with a unique effect, and it’s rare. But is it the kind of card that’s going to win you the game all by itself? Eh, probably not.


Be Kind

I see a lot of new players showing up for prereleases, which is outstanding. I think it’s because prereleases are generally a little less intimidating than, say, Modern tournaments. People are usually pretty laid back about the whole thing.

That said, I still see experienced players being totally unforgiving at prereleases. They just roll the new players and then walk away.

Am I saying that you should let the new player win? No, absolutely not. You paid good money to play, so you absolutely have the right to play hard and win. Furthermore, if you let the inexperienced player win, they’re not really learning how to play and they’re not getting any better.

However, if you notice that your opponent made a huge mistake in games one and two, you can definitely try to give a little advice. A lot of new players will appreciate it. You can say something like, “Hey, I’ve found that this works pretty well,” or, “I tried doing this and I love it.” Sometimes it’s tough to give advice without sounding like a know-it-all, but it can make a huge difference.


Throw Out Your Packaging

Maybe this is just a pet peeve, but packaging always seems to gravitate toward the middle of the table, where it clumps and turns into a gigantic mess for the store owners to clean up. You might say, “Who cares? They can just throw it out.” And sure, they can. But remember that these people are giving you a place to play Magic every week, and that they work long hours for not a whole lot.

Do them a favor. Show your appreciation by walking to the trash can and throwing out the wrappers. It’s not that hard.


Have a Good Time

I think this one’s pretty self-explanatory. Magic is the best game there is––but it’s still just a game. Just go and have some fun. If you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose. The most important part is having a good time.


In Parting…

Have any amazing prerelease stories? Did you flip your Westvale Abbey into Ormendahl? Did you make a successful investigate deck? Did you kill someone with Triskaidekaphobia? Tell us your prerelease story in the comments below!

By Kyle A. Massa – Play the Ten Drop

You can reach Kyle at @mindofkyleam on Twitter or through his site www.kyleamassa.com

Kyle A Massa - March 18, 2016

Optimizing Your EDH Fun

Play the Ten Drop – Optimizing Your EDH Fun

By Kyle A. Massa


When most people sit down to play a game, they play to win. That axiom is true of sports, video games, board games, and, of course, Magic.

But I’ve been playing Magic for thirteen years now, and the more I play, the more I see what makes the game special: you don’t always need to win to have fun.

No other format illustrates this notion better than Elder Dragon Highlander. For those who don’t know about the format’s origins, a bunch of judges dreamed it up to pass time between rounds at tournaments. If there’s one tenant which EDH was built upon, it’s casual fun.

Now when we talk about fun in EDH, it’s not just about you having fun. It might be fun for you to pull off one of your numerous Niv-Mizzet combos and wreck boards. But how fun is that for your three friends? Or what about that Derevi stax deck you have that taps down the whole board, destroys lands, and generally makes life miserable for everyone? Sure, you’ll win most games with it. But if your idea of a good time is slowly killing your friends, you probably won’t have friends to play with for much longer. Also, you might be a sociopath.

Instead, why not try something that’s fun for the whole table?

Let me give you an example. I built a Zedruu the Greathearted deck a few years ago that focused on giving away the absolute worst permanents you could think of. I’m talking stuff like Grid Monitor, Aggressive Mining, Statecraft––basically, R&D’s cruel jokes that somehow made it through to release. The deck played well and won me plenty of games.

But here’s what I began to notice––first off, no one liked to play against it. In fact, my friends would groan whenever I took it out, and then they’d just start attacking me right away. The fun of those games seeped away because the objective for all my friends changed from “How do I win?” to “How do I not lose to the goat overlord?”

So I tried something new. I deconstructed my perfectly serviceable Zedruu deck and created something much…stranger, we’ll say. I added cards with Will of the Council on them, fun creatures like Arjun, the Shifting Flame, and just plain wacky stuff like Warp World. When making the deck, I went in knowing it wouldn’t win many games. But that wasn’t the point. The point of the deck was to make each game unpredictable, and fun––and not just for me.

So I brought my deck back, and when I took it out, I got plenty of groans again. And then on turn two, I played Liar’s Pendulum, which is definitely not what one might call a competitive card. Everyone knew something was different.

After we played, all anyone wanted to talk about was the Zedruu deck and how much fun it was to play against. They loved the interactive cards, the way I gave away fun creatures, and how they felt challenged––but noticeably not frustrated––when playing against it.

And it was a funny thing. I didn’t win the game. In fact, I didn’t even come close to winning. If you judged the deck on game performance alone, it was horrendous. But, that being said, I and my friends  actually had more fun playing with the ostensibly worse version of the deck.

Thanks again, goat lady. You’ve given us all so much.

To reiterate, there’s nothing wrong with playing to win. You wouldn’t show up to a GP with a Hedron Archive deck, right? (Well, actually, I might do that, but that’s not the point.) All I ask is that you try building an EDH deck that’s main focus isn’t killing everyone immediately. You might be surprised at what you find.

Here’s a decklist for those interested in trying it out!


By Kyle A. Massa – Play the Ten Drop
You can reach Kyle at @mindofkyleam on Twitter or through his site www.kyleamassa.com


Gregoire Thibault - March 16, 2016

An Intro to Intros

Optimum Jank – An Intro to Intros


So You Want to be a Magic Player?

Welcome to the world of Magic: The Gathering. A world filled with nuanced heroes in troubled circumstances, interesting monsters that are often more than they appear to be, captivating worlds begging to be explored and fantastic spells that bend the reality of those worlds. Somewhere in that mix, there just happens to be a pretty fun card game to collect as well. Exciting, isn’t it?

Whatever the reasons may be that brought you to this game, there are always a number of questions that plague new, returning, or even experienced players. Whether it be about card evaluation, deck piloting strategy, or simply how to introduce the game to a new player, there’s no end to the number of queries this game can create.

Although there’s an endless amount of content by pro players much better at the game than I am to answer questions about critical meta-game strategies, there’s far less content out there for the more casual players. The ones trying to figure out if now is the best time to come back to the game after a long hiatus. The ones who have no idea what to do with all the draft cards they’ve amassed. The ones who want to introduce the game to their friends but aren’t sure how best to present it to them. The ones who like to bring their silly combo deck to Friday Night Magic. If this sounds like you or one of your friends, I have a feeling we’ll get along swimmingly.


Everyone Starts Somewhere

Getting started (or re-started) with Magic can be a daunting and/or overwhelming experience. There are a lot of rules. There are a lot of experienced players. But most of all, there are a lot of cards. The sheer number of cards alone can often astound newer players. Some of the most frequently asked questions I get when explaining the game to prospective players are: “How do you remember what all the cards do? Did you have to study them all? Does every player know what all these cards do?”

Here’s a little secret: Most players don’t know what every card does. Certainly, there are players who do know a large percentage of the cards, but most don’t know every single card printed in the history of the game. A large majority of the time, you’ll only need to know a handful of cards at a time (depending on which format(s) you’re currently playing) to follow along. The longer you play, the more time you’ll spend talking about cards. After a while, you’ll notice that you’ll hear about particular cards more than others. Eventually, you start to learn based on this repetition. There’s no need to study the entire catalog of Magic cards before you start playing and there’s no need to memorize all the strategies, archetypes or lingo before you get going. All you need is a pack of cards and a buddy who’s willing to guide you through your first few games and you’re good to go.

treasure hunt

Anything and Everything

Now that we’ve covered what you don’t need to do, the next question becomes: Which cards do I need to collect or need to know about in order to play? Technically, the answer to that could be any and all cards in the history of Magic as long as your deck meets the format’s minimum card requirement.

I can see you panicking again. Don’t worry, we can fix this too.

Magic‘s most popular format is something called “Casual Magic,” also known as “Kitchen Table Magic” because of the mental image that most casual players play around the kitchen table. When playing Casual Magic, all you need is a deck of cards and some buddies to play. The reason this is the most popular version is that it has the least rules and regulations. At this level of Magic, people are just reading the cards and playing the game as they see fit. There’s no banlists nor format requirements that allow certain cards and prevent others cards from being in your deck.

Inevitably, there will come a time when you might want to optimize your deck. Or challenge yourself by playing against more difficult or focused decks rather than the random cards you’ve thrown together for kitchen table games. Most players will recommend Friday Night Magic (FNM) events at their local game stores as the next logical step. While this may be a solid step for returning players who already have experience with the game, I’ve seen a number of new players get very nervous about Drafting or playing against expensive, finely tuned Constructed format decks.

Frequently overlooked by enfranchised players of the game, there are other options available to newer players which will allow them to step up a their game before venturing in the realm of FNM. A format I love recommending to newer players is what I call “Intro Pack Magic.”

intro art

Allow Me to Re-Intro-duce Myself

Whenever a new Magic set is released, Wizards of the Coast (the folks who make the Magic cards) release “Intro Packs.” These are 60 card pre-constructed decks that (currently) come packaged with two booster packs. These decks and boosters predominantly contain cards from the current and/or immediately preceding set of cards. As an example, at the time of writing, the newest set released is Oath of the Gatewatch. Oath of the Gatewatch Intro Packs contain cards found in OGW (the abbreviation for Oath) and Battle for Zendikar (BFZ); the set that preceded OGW.

These decks are exactly what you would expect from something called an “Intro Pack;” they are a means to introduce a new player to the newest set and to Magic itself. These are not meant to be tournament competitive decks: They will be crushed by top tier decks if played against one. That being said, they’re usually solidly balanced to play against each other. If you can find a friend who’s interested in playing “Intro Pack Magic” with you, here’s how it’s done:

  • Both you and your friend buy an Intro Pack: You can each buy the same Intro Pack if you both desire, but it is much more enjoyable to play two different decks. You get to see more cards and more mechanics from the newest set if you do.
  • Don’t open the booster packs right away: You’ll often hear differing opinions about why you should or shouldn’t “crack packs” depending on who you talk to in the Magic community. In this particular case, there’s sound reasoning why you shouldn’t crack them open right away.
  • Play with your Intro decks first as is: You’ll want to get a feel for your Intro deck. Play a few games against your friend. Try to learn the strategy behind your deck and at the same time, try to figure out what your friend’s deck is trying to accomplish. Perhaps you like your friend’s deck better than yours? Ask if your friend would mind switching decks with you. It is very rare that Intro decks will contain tremendously valuable cards, so trading an entire Intro deck with your friend shouldn’t be too much of a hassle… unless of course, you friend loves their Intro deck. In that case, you’re on your own.
  • After you’ve played a few rounds with your Intro decks, now is the time to crack open those boosters.

Why are we waiting to open them, you may ask? By playing with your deck straight out of the box, you’ll hopefully have developed an understanding of your Intro deck and what it’s trying to do. These booster packs will have a lot more meaning to you now. Not only do you get to see sweet new cards and hopefully open an expensive rare, you’ll be looking at all the cards through the filter of your Intro deck. You’ll start to evaluate which cards would work well with your deck, which cards might actively work against it and which cards might not have any importance either way. Perhaps you’ll find a card or two that you’ll want to add to your deck. Great! Try to take one card out of your deck for each card you add in. Replay your decks with your new cards and see how that goes. You can continue making modifications to your deck as you see fit.

By focusing on this smaller initial pool of cards, you’re already starting to develop and learn basic skills you’ll be needing as a burgeoning Magic player: You’re learning such concepts as card evaluation, deck construction, the management of limited resources and the ability to quickly learn new cards found in a particular Standard set.

Intro Pack Magic can be taken a step further within your playgroup if, at the end of every week, you each agree to buy a booster from the set your Intro Pack is from. Add the cards you like from your new booster to your deck. Over time, you’ll acquire more cards for your collection, have a uniquely tuned deck that you’ve played with friends in a non-competitive environment, and will develop skills needed if you do decide to make that leap to FNM Draft or Constructed.


The End of the Beginning

I hope you enjoyed today’s column! The topic of how to start (or jump back into) Magic is one I often see pop up on Magic forums and websites, so I was excited to address it here. In future, we’ll be looking at various other ways to play Magic which will hopefully appeal to the Casual and Competitive alike. If you liked what you see here or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the Comments section below!

JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank