Tag: magic-the-gathering

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Avatar Bruce Gray - September 23, 2021

The Epic Experiment: Top 13 Commander Cards in Innistrad!

Welcome back to the Epic Experiment! The time has come for us to leave Adventures in the Forgotten Realms behind and to get ready for our return to Innistrad. It is time for us to head out for Innistrad: Midnight Hunt!

Today, I will be going through the top 13 cards (because we are on Innistrad and Triskadeccaphobia is a thing!) and see what is worth looking at for Commander. We got a long one, so let’s get down to business.

Honorable Mention: Rare Land Cycle

This land cycle is nothing flashy, but is really good. The real perk is that this cycle rare lands will come in untapped if you control 2 or more lands. This makes them very reasonable and viable budget options for Commander players.

13: Jerren, Corrupted Bishop // Ormendahl, The Corrupter

We brewed this one on our podcast this week and have to say, this guy looks fun! Mono black human tribal sounds like fun, and once you see the deck list start to emerge on EDHrec.com, you see can see that this is a very powerful Commander. This could go in a sort of Aristocrat style deck, or more of an aggressive bent, or a deck that looks to leverage your life total to flip to Ormendahl. There are plenty of fun options for fun cards that people like to play. Ormendahl is also interesting because of the free sacrifice outlet that is provided, but I am skeptical of the ease with which we will be able to transform Jerren into Ormendahl.

12: Lier, Disciple of the Drowned

I am personally of the opinion that this card is going to be a serious problem. We have already seen that Past in Flames is a powerful combo enabler and now those decks get a second option as well. Now, more importantly, decks of other colours will get access to a Past in Flames effect as well. Can you imagine a Sultai deck now able to replay spells from their graveyard? Dimir spell slinger style decks? There is a drawback in that you can’t expect to play a robust permission package, but that feels like a fair trade. I can’t wait to see all the broken, degenerate stuff that this permits with Catalyst Stone and watch the pod burn thanks to Lier.

11: Moonveil Regent

This card is terrific! Let’s start with the mana value. As a 4 mana dragon, this affords excellent early game on field presence in a big deck. The single red mana symbol in the mana cost is also a big selling feature, affording flexibility to go in any deck running red.

Now let’s have a look at the abilities! The first ability that lets you discard your hand and draw equal to the number of colours of the spell cast. The interesting tension here is that usually dragons like this go in very heavy Red decks, but Moonveil Regent rewards you for playing multi-colour spells. Really, any multi-color deck will do, but Tiamat seems like an absurd option to pair up with Moonveil Regent. The second ability, when it dies, gets powered up by multi-color decks too, making this a very fun and potentially very potent addition for 4 and 5 color decks.

10: Wrenn and Seven

Much has been said about this Planeswalker already, but this looks like a prime culprit to eat a removal spell. 5 mana for 5 loyalty Planeswalker is already pretty good on rate because this will typically tick up to 6 right away. 6 loyalty is a lot of loyalty and if you have any token blockers, this can stick around and start generating value for you. The 4 abilities puts this in amidst only a handful of Planeswalkers, including Jace, the Mindsculptor, Garruk, Apex Predator, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. This is some pretty elite company.

However, what do the abilities tell us? The +1 digs you lands out of your deck, but also feeds your graveyard. The 0 ability is useful, particularly if you draw a swath of cards off of something like Return of the Wildspeaker, but probably less helpful than the other abilities. The -3 that makes a token is outstanding because it means you will have a big, beefy blocker than can fight off a flier and really start to swing the battlefield. The -8 is undoubtedly going to be excellent if you have well stocked your graveyard. On the whole, I think this card is outstanding and something that many green decks are going to be looking for to find a spot.

9: Champion of the Perished

Cheap Zombie payoffs are always exciting and here is yet one more. Whether this goes with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Gisa and Geralf, or one of the other many Zombie related Commanders that are running around, Champion of the Perished will slide in nicely.  It is not a flashy card, but one that I expect will see plenty of use.

8: Dennick, Pious Apprentice // Dennick, Pious Apparition

I think Dennick is neat because of the fact that he helps shut down some graveyard strategies. At a mere 2 mana, I am also intrigued because he will be able to come down early and reliably to help get your deck online. The Disturb cost is an interesting piece of tension you need to manage because he doesn’t automatically have to be returned to your Command zone, and that has appeal. The transformed version could be very valuable in a mill strategy of sorts to help you generate a wealth of Clue tokens.  The appeal of turning the milled cards of your opponents into cards in your hand is almost too good to be true. I’m not sure if this is a high priority target, but it certainly feels new and innovative and that stands out.

7: Gisa, Glorious Resurrector

This feels like the ultimate in thieving decks. The simple fact that you kill their thing, exile it, and then return to the battlefield is just music to my ears. Now, add in the fact that the cards you are taking from your opponents may have Enter the Battlefield triggers and now we are really cooking.  I won’t say too much further on this card apart from this: Panharmonicon.  That is all.

6: Liesa, Forgotten Archangel

Liesa is a near carbon copy of Athreos, God of Passage, and that is a good thing. You get a very similar recursion ability, a beefy 4/5 flier with lifelink, and some graveyard hate stapled to her for good measure. All of these are positives and will ensure she gets lots of interest from Orzhov players all over the community.

5: Katilda, Dawnhart Prime

Here is another interesting prospect for a Commander. The fact that Katilda turns your humans into mana producing creatures opens up the potential for a massive ramp deck. Just the thought of slamming massive eldrazi, devastating Praetors, or other huge spells is too good to pass up.

However, there is another option – going wide and pouring the mana into Katilda’s secondary ability and to put counters on your team. Coupled with a new Midnight Hunt Commander card Kyler, Sigardian Emissary, your human deck could pack a mean 1-2 punch. Slide in a few of the available Sigardas and we are looking at a very viable and very fun G/W humans deck that I can hardly wait to build.

4: Unnatural Growth

In recent sets, we have seen Red get a number of effects that increase damage. Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Fiery Emancipation, and Jaya, Venerated Fire Mage have all given red decks the ability to punch through extra damage. Unnatural Growth is a similar effect for Green in that it doubles the power and toughness of your creatures. The nicest part here is that in Green there are plenty of effects that will allow you to grant your now very beefy creatures Trample, ensuring you get to clobber your opponents. Again, this is not a fancy card, but it will certainly help you get the job done and for that it has made my list.

3: Memory Deluge

So, let’s play a game. What if Glimmer of Genius and Dig Through Time had a baby? This would be the result. When you cast this the first time, you get a similar effect to casting Glimmer of Genius, and that’s ok.  Glimmer is a perfectly fine card draw option in most scenarios.

However, if you flash this back you are now casting a Dig Through Time and experienced magic players know that now you are playing in the big leagues. Looking at 7 cards and selecting 2 of them is a big game and this will be a great addition. It helps set-up combos, find answers, or just let you look for value. I’m very excited to slide this into all sorts of decks!

2: Old Stickfingers

I learned a lesson long ago when playing Magic that putting things into your graveyard is not actually a cost we should be afraid of. In fact, it is often something that can be exploited. Essentially, self milling cards into your own graveyard is a powerful tool because now you have access to those cards, you just only need to pull them back from your graveyard in order to utilize them. Old Stickfingers is a very powerful graveyard enabler and could be used to power out Dredge cards, cards with Scavenge, or heaven forbid Overgrowth. The fact that Old Stickfingers can then potentially become a large attacker in the mid-late stages of the game if your graveyard is well stocked also has appeal.  Now if only we could find a way to prevent having Bojuka Bog see too much play in the format…

1: Tovolar, Dire Overlord // Tovolar, The Midnight Scourge

This card is at my #1 spot because we have been asking for a viable R/G werewolf Commander since our first visit to Innistrad.  We got Ulrich of the Krallenhorde in Eldritch Moon and he was NOT the Commander we wanted. He hardly gave a hoot about your werewolves at all!

With Tovolar they are trying once again and he’s MUCH better. Tovolar grants you card draw on both his Daybound and Nightbound faces, which is always much appreciated. Tovolar can give you control over whether you are Daybound or Nightbound if you have enough wolves and werewolves, which is much needed in order to get a handle of the game. He even has a Kessig Wolf Run effect, ensuring you can punch through for heaps of damage. What is not to like?

My only complaint is these new werewolves function slightly differently on account of the nuances of how Daybound and Nightbound work compared to the old mechanic and that is a slight problem. They just don’t quite work as seamlessly as they probably should because they are all werewolves, but there are certainly work-arounds in order to make this deck fun and interesting to play. I can hardly wait to get a Tovolar for my werewolf deck and to set the pack loose on my opponents!

Well, there we are folks. Thanks for stopping by and reading my thoughts on our newest set Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. The set looks fun and plenty of cool, flavorful cards meaning that we have lots of options to explore in the months ahead.

If you want to hear more about my thoughts on Midnight Hunt or any other Commander related topic, please check out our weekly podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

Get all your board game needs from Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com

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Avatar Bruce Gray - September 16, 2021

The Epic Experiment: The Golos Issue

Welcome back to another edition of the Epic Experiment!

For anyone out there who may not be an avid Commander player, there was a banned and restricted announcement made on Monday, September 13th, 2021. I wanted to take a few minutes and share my thoughts on the banning. This will be a little different than what I normally write, but I wanted to share my thoughts. Let’s get down to business.

What Did They Ban?

The Rules committee issued an announcement where they banned Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. Let’s break down why Golos got the ban hammer:

  •  Golos was the best 5 colour Commander for lower and medium power level decks. Golos means that the diversity was lacking from the meta and that Golos was by far and away the most popular Commander in the last 2 years according to EDHrec.com. The Rules committee wants to promote further diversity so Golos had to go.
  • The play pattern is problematic because the fact that Golos fetches a land means that it can help offset the Commander tax. This accelerates decks in a way that produces way too much consistency.
  • Golos creates a negative play pattern because once the Golos player can stick his Commander, untap, and activate the ability, players essentially no longer need to cast spells from their hand.

So, the combination of choking out other decks, accelerating decks through fetching up lands, and allowing decks to cheat on the casting costs of decks were all reasons for the Golos ban.

A Deck Builder’s Dream

I have to come out and say that this particular banning was not one that I support. I don’t believe for a second that Golos needed to be banned and this looks to me like a poor choice. Let’s break down my reasons along similar lines to what the Rules Committee asserted in their banning.

Golos was the best 5 colour Commander. I will agree with their assessment, but the reason he was the best 5 colour Commander is because he was versatile and could allow countless different strategies to be played. While there are 7600 decks listed on EDHrec.com, many of these decks are very distinct from one another. It is very difficult to assert that these Golos decks all looked and played the same. One deck could have been a tribal deck, the next a landfall deck, and lastly a Maze’s End deck all while having Golos played as a Commander.

The argument that these decks choke out the creativity and don’t leave room for other sorts of decks is misplaced because the Golos were the other decks. You could literally pick any theme, grab Golos as a Commander, and you were off the races.

Does this seem less desirable for a meta? Yes, but I don’t think it is intrinsically bad. 50 shades of Golos actually seems like a fun deck building challenge.

Talking Rule Zero

The other problem is that the Commander community has spent considerable time debating the value and merits of the pre-game conversation, or ‘Rule 0’ conversation. If Golos is a problem in your local meta, then it is time to sit down with your play group and have a conversation about the card.

Now, the default position is to exclude Golos because he is banned, and if a player had a Golos deck built, they must negotiate with the table in order to be able to play their deck. The Rules Committee has decided that most players are unable to handle that Rule 0 discussion themselves and must now have what deck they are going to play be decreed. This doesn’t sit well with me and suggests that the Rules Committee may have lost touch with the broader community to some degree.

Transparency

The issue surrounding the play pattern is very difficult to refute because Golos absolutely mitigates the punishment of Commander tax. That is an issue. However, the act of banning Golos for this sort of stated reason is inconsistent with the way the banned list has operated in the past. Golos is now the only Commander that can effectively help cheat itself into play that has been banned. Other Commanders that can circumvent the Commander tax are allowed to continue to be played. Cards like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, Extus, Oriq Overlord, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, and Omnath, Locus of Creation, which can all help reduce their casting cost or have mechanisms to help recoup your mana, are still an issue. This is the sort of inconsistency that drives players crazy and makes them wonder what the process, and testing that go into these decisions were.

In essence, where is the transparency?  In constructed formats, it is possible to measure the impact of a particular card and then watch WoTC move accordingly. With Commander, it is totally unclear how the decision was made.

The Usual Suspects

Let us speak of the other Commanders that have been banned by the Rules Committee. The actual Commanders that have been banned all have something in common. They ruin the fun of others: Leovold, Emissary of Trest, Griselbrand, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Rofellos, and Braids, Cabal Minion.

Leovold, Emrakul, and Braids deprive your opponents of their resources either by denying them cards or by making them sacrifice their permanents. Griselbrand and Rofellos provide too many resources too quickly, ending the game little ability for response. These all ruin the game for the rest of the pod.

Does Golos do any of that? No.

In fact, Golos has no effect on the players on the other side of the table and they can carry on playing their game. The Golos player can generate a lot of value off of Golos, but it still requires a seven mana activation to use. There can be lots of scenarios where they only hit one card that they can even play or whiff entirely. There are lots of situations where the board state of the game may need to be addressed, and rolling the dice on the top three cards of their deck is a risky proposition.

So, why is the pod not addressing and keeping the Golos deck in check with regular, sustained pressure where the Golos player is targeted and put under pressure? If any deck is just allowed to do its thing, of course it will generate value and win. So why is Golos any different? It isn’t, but someone out there sure thinks it is.

In Conclusion

So, the long and the short of things is that I don’t think Golos should have been banned. Golos can be addressed through many channels, both before and during the game. I feel quite strongly that this banning was not with the best interest of the player base at heart and is instead a reflection of a small number of players grinding an axe. I would much rather see the Rules Committee issue some sort of statement encouraging play groups to consider using their own discretion over the use of Golos and make their own determinations.

Well, there we are folks. Thanks for stopping by and reading my thoughts on the latest Banned announcement for Commander.  If you want to hear more about my thoughts on Commander picks or any other Commander related topic, please check out our weekly podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!

Get your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

Get all your board game needs from Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com

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Avatar Bruce Gray - September 14, 2021

The Epic Experiment: The Camp Chronicles

Welcome back to the Epic Experiment!

Boy, oh boy, does it feel good to be back at it after a month off. Off from the podcast and only submitted a single article in order to work as a director of a summer camp north of Mont Tremblant in Quebec. However, summer camp has come and gone. Now, rotation approaches.

Today, I thought I would share with you some of what the experience was working at the camp, from a Magic: The Gathering stand point.

In 2018, I was working up at this same summer camp when some of the counsellors expressed a lack of interesting things to do after hours. I suggested that we play some Magic.  At the time, many of the staff didn’t own a collection but were willing to buy cards in order to learn how to play.

Well, summer 2021 arrived and I suggested a similar setup, in no small measure because the staff were completely isolated from the rest of the world due to COVID protocols. In previous summers, staff could go to the local village and grab a snack after hours, hit the grocery store to buy some toiletries, or make use of the local services (like the golf course) on a day off.  However, 2021 and COVID denied the staff these simple diversions. So, they were looking for something to do after hours and playing some Magic seemed like an excellent option.

Eight counsellors opted in and we ordered a smattering of Zendikar Rising, Kaldheim, and Strixhaven. Three Kings Loot was also generous enough to provide some extra goodies in the delivery to help bring some extra smiles to the faces of the counsellors.  The guys were all very excited and as soon as I passed out the boxes the guys got to work. Everyone loves the smell of fresh booster packs.

The rules were simple.  Build a Limited deck from the cards in your pool, however I did allow guys to trade cards between pools. I figured since we were playing for fun… why not. But they couldn’t add anything from their regular collections.

The trading was almost as much fun as playing the games and the guys got right into it. The result was there was a very interesting deck from one of the players where they played every version of Heated Debate and Curate he could get his hands on.  We had another player go to great lengths to trade for Landfall parts and to build a pretty formidable Green/White Landfall deck.  I believe the competitiveness of the decks were marginally changed by the acts of trading and that the games still remained fun and interactive.

Another point worth mentioning is the absurd power level spike that the Mystical Archive cards held in Strixhaven.  The fact that we could open things like Mizzix’s Mastery or Natural Order in your pool was cool, but also kind of scary. Seeing a T4 Beledros was pretty scary and was totally unexpected. I think, going forward, such re-prints need to be handled carefully because they do create a very tangible power increase and are challenging to balance in the Limited format. However, they still made the games fun and spicy, so I didn’t mind particularly.

Playing the Limited format also gave us a chance to see a few of the cards in action and gauge how useful they might be if we ported them to Commander. In our group, a Shadrix Silverquill, a Galazeth Prismari, and a Beledros Witherbloom were all opened and were bombs. But we knew that.  However, there were some excellent cards that were able to see the light of day. Let’s have a check.

  1. Blex, Vexing Pest – This looks pretty tame because the front is pretty meh. However, I found that playing the Search for Blex was outstanding and potentially very back breaking. Yes, the amount of life lost was tremendous, but in a Commander deck where your life total is much more forgiving, it could be excellent. Heck, in a 20 life format, it was crazy good despite the life loss. Having this be a 5 for 1 was ridiculous in Limited, so why not in Commander?
  2. Wandering Archaic – We knew this was good, but playing it in Limited further reinforced this. Watching a player attack into a board state with a Wandering Archaic, try to cast a pump spell to win the combat, only to have the opponent reverse it was a pretty rough thing to watch. But it happened all the time and further reinforced the value of a Wandering Archaic. This is well worth the price, whatever you pay.
  3. Natural Order – We all knew this was good, but the fact that this card was even available in the Mystical Archive slot of Strixhaven is pretty ridiculous. This resulted in many T4 Beledros’ and the outcome was a foregone conclusion. While on the whole, the actual Strixhaven cards were very medium in terms of power, the Mystical Archive cards introduced a very high rate of variability and power.

I would like to once again thank Three Kings Loot for so generously supporting our little Magic: The Gathering sealed league this summer.  I made the staff members involved very excited and happy to spend time together.  Many of the guys hadn’t been friends prior to the league, and over the course of the three weeks of August session, they became close friends. I provided hours of entertainment and was well worth the small investment made by the staff. Thank you very much and the staff can’t wait for summer 2022 to reprise the league and make some more memories.

Well, there we are folks. We had a load of fun this summer up, and hopefully we can make this a yearly tradition. If you want to hear more about my thoughts on Commander picks or any other Commander related topic, please check out our weekly podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

Get all your board game needs from Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - August 27, 2021

MTG Universes Beyond & Secret Lair 2022 Releases!

With the announcement of the major MTG set releases, Wizards of the Coast also announced the 2022 roster of Secret Lair and Universes Beyond products. These sets promise to be some of the most interesting twists on Magic: The Gathering rules and mechanics.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into some of the strange and wonderful magic coming our way.

Secret Lair: Fortnite

Definitely the most controversial of the upcoming releases, Secret Lair: Fortnite is going to be all exclusive cards based on the battle royale style game.

Thus far, we have no idea what these cards are going to look like, nor their abilities. But, if nothing else, we should expect some strange dance spells. Maybe some blue enchantments?

Secret Lair: Street Fighter

It’s time to choose your challenger! Street Fighter is entering into the Secret Lair arena! Get ready to take to the streets with Chun-Li, Ryu, and Ken to destroy any opponent who dares step in your way.

This set promises some familiar enemies, allies, and special moves. And remember – when all else fails…

HADOKEN!

Universes Beyond – Warhammer 40,000

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, BROTHER!

You’re hearing this right. It’s time to welcome the bullet storm that is Warhammer 40,000 into the world of Magic. Join the Space Marines as you rip through… well, anything that moves. Wipe out endless enemies with the power of only your muscle and your machine gun.

What should we expect in this set? I am just hoping for some Chaos Marines and more skulls for the Skull Throne…

Universes Beyond – Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth

Stepping from one fantasy world to another, it’s time to enter the world of Middle Earth! Explore the land, from the Shire to Mordor, discovering old friends and vicious enemies. Will you simply walk to Mordor? Or will you ride a caragor, tearing through legions of orcs?

I expect we will be seeing some familiar faces in this set. Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Sauron – the list is endless. Just be careful how you play, adventurer. The fate of Middle Earth is in your hands.

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

Get all your board game needs from Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - August 25, 2021

2022 Magic Line-Up!

The 2022 Magic: The Gathering main set line up is here! Recently announced on Magic’s Showcase Stream, the major releases coming out in 2022 have been officially revealed! With some old favourites and exciting new additions, lets take a look at the four major set releases coming to Standard next year!

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Kamigawa has been one of the most requested returns in Magic – and here it is! However, you may not recognize this Kamigawa at first. That’s because we are now two thousand years in the future, where magic and technology intermingle.

This set will be a dream for those who love Cyberpunk and Shadowrun. Expect lots of technomancy, a new cyber-ninja planeswalker, and a old planeswalker from the set who is now the Emperor of Kamigawa…

Streets of New Capenna

Take to the dark and dim streets of New Capenna to fight a not so hidden war between crime families. This once city of angels (literally) has been overtaken by demonic influence. What side will you take in the war? And who will end up on top in this war of demon lords?

Dominaria United

Once a land consumed by war and in-fighting, Dominaria has returned to a semblance of peace. Will you gather in the crowds, embracing this new conflict-free land? Or will you go chasing after some strange and dangerous enemy once again?

Our return to Dominaria is a welcome return, one that is certainly in parallel to Magic: The Gathering‘s 30th anniversary coming up this next year. It is predicted that this set will be closer to an introduction for new players into the game, keeping to easy gameplay mechanics. Regardless, Dominaria is coming back in a big way, so make sure to check it out upon release!

2022-magic-line-up

The Brothers War

But don’t think we are leaving Dominaria too soon. The Brother’s War takes us back in time to one of the pivotal times in Dominaria’s history. Choose between Urza or Mishra to be your general and fight to obtain the other half of the Thran powerstone.

Travel across Terisiare, discovering the power and magic that lingers across Dominaria. However, be careful of things that might be lurking on the island of Argoth. You never know what Phyrexian’s may be lingering there…

2022-magic-line-up

2022-magic-line-up

What do you think of the 2022 Magic line-up? Let us know in the comments below!

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

Get all your board game needs from Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com

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Avatar Bruce Gray - August 24, 2021

Commander Pre-Rotation Finance

Welcome back to the Epic Experiment!

This is a difficult time of year for Magic: The Gathering players because we know rotation is looming and Standard is going to change. While many of the principles of Magic: The Gathering finance have changed in recent years, there is still value to be gained from scouring sets that will be rotating to add to our Commander decks. Today I am going to find my top ten picks for cards that Commander players ought to be looking out for as rotation approaches.

#10 – Torbran, Thane of Red Fell

I hate this card. I have lost so many games to this card on Arena and it still gives me conniptions. The fact this card turns goblins into lightning bolts at the floor and turns any red creature into an absolute menace is reason enough to sit up and take notice.

At a mere $2.40 at Three Kings Loot for a non foil version, this is a very budget-friendly and powerful red card to help turn your deck into something that your opponents must respect. The only hitch with this card does have a heavy red mana requirement in the casting cost. However, if you are a Red Mage and looking to burn your opponents out of the game, look no further then this card and make the most of your damage.

#9 – Faeburrow Elder

With this card, we move away from damage and into the world of ramp. It has been well established that in a game of Commander that the player who spends the most mana over the course of the game is often the winner And there are few ramp options with as much potential as this card.

Faeburrow Elder scales exceptionally well in decks that play three or more colours in order to turn into a big-time mana dork. The nicest part with this particular card is  that it is available in and around the $2 mark for the non foil version and can be found at  $4.99. As a card that is analogous to Bloom Tender, a card that hits north of $40, to be a mere $2 suggests that people are sleeping on this one really ought to be making this a greater priority.

#8 – Wishclaw Talisman

This list would not be complete without a tutor and Throne of Eldraine gave us a pretty interesting option with Wishclaw Talisman. The casting cost is very desirable, and with the activation cost being a single mana, you can tutor for the best card in your deck very easily.  The fact that you then give it away is not frequently an issue if you can end the game on the spot. It can lead to some interesting politics as you can negotiate with the table as to whom you will give it to… and maybe even get it back! It is the political angle that in my mind makes this a terrifically fun card that will really spice up your table. The fact that you can grab a tutor for around $2.99 that makes it a good budget conscious pick up.

#7 – Embercleave

Back we go to more red cards that beat down. If you want a nasty piece of equipment, you can’t get much better than this beauty. It plays like a combat trick, has a wild cost reduction mechanic, and routinely tips the tide of battle.

The unfortunate part of this card is that it is already priced north of $12 in many places, meaning it is not a cheap pickup. However, based on its impact in a game it is likely money wisely invested because I have a hard time imagining it will see a significant price retrace. If you want one of these guys, there is no better than now.

#6 – Kiora Bests the Sea God

We have finally moved away from the Throne of Eldraine cards and can dig up something from Theros Beyond Death. Let us start with the draw back on this card: it costs 7 mana.

Folks, if you are averse to playing a 7 mana spell in a casual Commander game, are you sure we are playing the same game?

This card does just about everything you are looking for. It immediately makes an 8/8 with hexproof. Chapter 2 is often back breaking as you tap all non land permanents and opponent controls meaning that their shields is down. Chapter 3 is just soul crushing. Stealing the best card on the field from an opponent is positively filthy. At $3.99 this is a bargain pickup… now if only we could recur it… hmmm.

#5 – Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy

Kinnan is a ridiculous infinite mana combo enabler and mana sync built into a single card. Frankly, I’m not sure what WoTC was thinking when printing this card. You can grab a copy at under $10, and considering the gross power level of this card, well, you may as well grab it. I have a hard time seeing this card getting much cheaper as it is already heavily adopted in EDH, so go ahead and pull the trigger.

#4 – Rielle, the Everwise

Here is another grossly underrated card that packs a serious punch. Rielle plays beautifully with discard heavy decks and makes cards with Madness, Cycling, or just plain old Looting into a big ol’ party.  She has been a house for me in playing various forms of Brawl over the last 18 months and I expect that some of that success will translate into Commander.

I mean, really, The Locust God alone is reason enough to pick up a Rielle. With her being available around $5.50, it seems like a good time to pick her up and put her to good use.

#3 – Fiend Artisan

I love this card. Pay 2 mana and it won’t take much work to make it be a 6/6 or bigger in a game of Commander. Since it is so cheap, it is really no big deal to play this in the late game.

However, when this doesn’t get the job done, the fact that it has tutor ability is just plain silly. Who wouldn’t turn a Llanowar Elves into something far nastier?

Now, the fact that this is great early, great late, and even good when the board state gets clogged means that it is already fairly pricey. At $12.99, this is probably as cheap as this is going to get, so I wouldn’t blame you for grabbing a couple.

#2 – Teferi, Master of Time

The much maligned Teferi with 17 versions. Sigh.

I know people were very critical of this card, but I anticipate this card will be very highly played in the years to come. With its unique ability and the fact that if this goes unchecked you can uncork 2 extra turns in a just a few turn cycles of the table, its near unstoppable. Add in things like Oath of Teferi, or The Chain Veil, and Teferi gets pretty gross. Buddy him up with Rielle a few numbers above… and we get instant magic.

The card, while not as oppressive as Teferi, Time Raveler or as iconic as Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, is still a powerhouse and at $14.99 is still probably a pick up.

#1 – Brash Taunter

This card is kind of silly and is a very unpleasant surprise that your opponent can deploy. It would have been obnoxious with the damage redirection ability intact, but to then have it fight anything is kind of dirty. EDHrec shows the Taunter appearing in 8000+ decks and is a mere $3.50, making it pretty bang for your buck.

Don’t let the Core set fool you.  There are some dynamite gems hidden away inside just waiting for a savvy Commander player to come along and put them to use.

Well, there we are folks. Hopefully you find this helpful as we head into rotation in a few weeks! The new Innistrad cards already previewed look like we be having some new wild adventures this fall and I can’t wait to see what else we get.

If you want to hear more about my thoughts on Commander picks or any other Commander related topic, please check out our weekly podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - August 13, 2021

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt!

Darkness is coming, adventurer. A full moon is rising this night over Innistrad. Tonight, the Midnight Hunt begins… and we don’t know who will make it out alive.

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is the first part of a two set release coming this fall to Magic: The Gathering! This set will be focused around werewolves and the other roving denizens of the night in the countryside. You can expect both the living and dead in this set – as long as it can walk and destroy, it will be here.

But it is not just monsters out here. Humanity still lives out in the countryside, trying to use magic and the divine to keep the beasts at bay. Without the former guardian of Innistrad Avacyn to protect the world, who will take up the mantle?

Will mankind succeed in living another day? Or will all be lost to the eternal hunger of the night?

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt comes out on September 23rd, 2021! Pre-release comes out on September 17th!

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

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Avatar Bruce Gray - July 21, 2021

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Top Ten Cards!

Welcome back to the Epic Experiment! Let’s go through and look at the top 10 cards of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms that I think will see play in Commander.  The nice part about this set is that many of the cards on this list are in the Rare slot, meaning they should drop in price and get a little cheaper in the weeks to come.

#10 – Circle of Dreams Druid

The argument for this card is simple. This is Gaea’s Cradle on a creature. If you are not familiar with Cradle, I would strongly encourage you to take note and keep tabs on this card.

Now, while this is a very powerful card, it is not without its drawbacks. Being a creature makes it much more susceptible to being killed and suffers from summoning sickness in the majority of situations. In comparison, Gaea’s Cradle can be played for free, can be tapped the turn it enters the battlefield, and occupies a land slot in your deck.

However, the power level here is very obvious and this will certainly see lots of play. The silver lining for this effect is that finding ways to recur dead creatures is often easier than lands, not to mention untapping them meaning you could generate absurd quantities of mana. This card will no doubt be widely adopted.

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

#9 – Long Rest

Long Rest is another in an interesting line of mass regrowth effects that come into play in graveyard heavy recursion decks.  I have likened this card to Wildest Dreams and Season’s Past.

While I’m not convinced Long Rest is as good as either option, the price tag and single X in the casting cost could be real difference makers. Again, in Commander, having redundant effects is a very positive development. The card is quite simple, and carries a heavy mana requirement, but I believe there will be plenty of players looking to adopt this and bring back valuable parts of their deck with glee.

#8 – Rogue Class

The new class cards are innovative new designs that are going to reshape how we play enchantments. They are reminiscent of a cross between Sagas and leveling creatures from Zendikar.  The same is true for the new class cards, and Rogue Class is a sweet one.

The first level is nothing special but the exiling could be relevant. Since Dimir decks often have a suite of evasive creatures, it seems pretty likely you will be able to exile cards. Level 2 gives all your creatures menace, so if they weren’t evasive before, they sure are now. Level 3 allows you to cast all those glorious cards that you have been exiling, and who doesn’t like casting your opponents own spells against them?

At a mere 2 mana, in a colour combo that has a penchant for aggressive, cheap creatures like Rogues or Ninja, this seems like a dream come true. Anomon, Yuriko, Oona are just three small examples of Commanders who thrive with this on the battlefield, and so will you.

Adventures In The Forgotten Realms

#7 – Teleportation Circle

Folks, this is pretty simple. This is Conjurer’s Closet now in white. Let us be clear: Closet is a card that appears in over 17 000 decks and is a tremendous value generating tool. C’mon, you can’t tell me that you aren’t interested in getting additional Enter the Battlefield triggers by blinking your stuff.

Of course you’re interested… because value!

Well, now you can do it with Teleportation Circle too! Yes, it’s an enchantment. Yes, it is a mana cheaper. But the effect is desirable, so it will get a hefty amount of play along with its new best friend Panharmonicon.

Adventures In The Forgotten Realms

#6 – Loyal Warhound

We are still witnessing White getting caught up to other colours and being given some tools. White has always struggled to ramp and to pull lands out of the deck in order to keep up with the other colours. In the past, white decks have really leaned on Knight of the White Orchid to help keep up, but in the last few sets we have seen a real increase in cards that will help. Pilgrim of the Ages, Verge Rangers and now Warhound can let white decks catch up. This isn’t a fancy card, nor flashy, but it is useful and plays a valuable role. Don’t overlook the small value generated by this, I think it is going to surprise many players with its utility.

#5 – Old Knawbone

I have been going on for months on how I think that Treasure is the new way WOTC wants us to ramp. When I see cards like this I am increasingly inclined to agree with myself.

Ok, this is an expensive creature, that much is obvious. However, I think this card can easily pay for itself and then some through its ability to make treasure. Read it carefully.

Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, you make that many treasures. 

This is very potent for aggro strategies. Play this and attack with the intention of recouping your mana spent on this dragon.  Some will to argue that the cost here is pretty steep to make Old Gnawbone good, but really all you need is an evasive creature.  If you can squeeze a 2/2 flier through for damage, then Gnawbone is really a 5 mana dragon.

I also like how this could fit in the 99 in any colour combination that includes green.  2 green mana pips is a tad restrictive, but hardly unmanageable.

#4 – Kalain, Reclusive Painter

Yet another treasure payoff, we move to look at Kalain and this one is pretty exciting. The treasure made doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the fact remains if you can ramp a little and get ahead of the curve then you are going to be in an advantaged position compared to the table. The other ability, to put +1/+1 counters on creatures for each treasure used to cast it, is potentially very powerful to act as a sort of permanent quasi anthem on an aggressive board state. This sort of deck is exciting because typically Rakdos doesn’t get ramp quite like this, but thanks to treasure now being available to all 5 colours we can see a Rakdos treasure deck starting to take shape and that seems pretty exciting.

#3 – Asmodeus, the Archfiend

The 6/6 for 6 is pretty exciting, but not because it is a big body. Frankly, the body is not that exciting because I can go and play a Colossal Dreadmaw if I wanted a big boi.

No, what is exciting here is the ability to have a mass card draw effect that looks like it could emulate what Griselbrand could offer. Make no mistake, this isn’t big Grizz, but the ability here is tempting enough that many players are going to attempt to make it viable. I mean, who isn’t interested in spending 3 black mana to exile the top 7 cards, and then spending a fourth black mana to get all those cards to your hand and lose 7 life?  This is exactly the sort of effect mono black players are looking for to refill their grip.

Adventures In The Forgotten Realms

#2 – Orcus, Prince of Undeath

This is another spicy option that really appeals. A 5/3 flying trampler seems pretty good on rate at 4 mana. This is the sort of potential Commander that can lead to knocking a player out with Commander damage without a whole lot of difficulty.

However, the modality of this card is what really gets my attention. The X in the mana cost can be used as a board or a mass reanimation spell and that’s sweet. So, this big guy packs loads of extra value into his already pretty beefy frame and is going to be something your deck wants to replay regularly.

Adventures In The Forgotten Realms

#1 – Volo, Guide to Monsters

I think I am confused about what WOTC thinks should be the Simic colour identity. The more I look at the cards that Simic has printed over the last years, the more I can just simply conclude that the underlying theme is “Value”. Volo just generates more value by doubling up on creatures that have entered the battlefield.

Yes, they need to be different creature types. Yes, they can’t be legendary. These hardly seem “restrictive” limits to place on Volo because there are just loads of valuable options available in blue and green.  If you don’t believe me, simply go look at Brawl and see a Volo deck in action there. The thing is absurd. Simic players everywhere are going to love building Volo and the options are seemingly endless.

Adventures In The Forgotten Realms

Well, there we are folks. Do you agree with my top 10 cards? Should have I included a Dungeon? How about any of the Planeswalkers? Tiamat? Let me know what you think!  If you want to hear more about my thoughts on Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, or any other Commander related topic, please check out our weekly podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

Get all your Adventures in the Forgotten Realms needs from Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com

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