Welcome back to the Epic Experiment. I’m glad to be back with yet another visit.
I have recently spent a great deal of thought on mana bases and how to keep things affordable with the ever growing demands of the modern EDH deck. Let’s have a look and explore some options for helping to keep our budgets under control. There are plenty of expensive options out there if you want to run an optimal mana base, but the truth is many players can’t just splurge for the Fetch/OG Dual land mana. Most players need to find more budget friendly options so having an in depth understanding of what are our options is important.
Let us begin with the level 0 of multi-colour mana bases and that is the wide plethora of common or uncommon tapped lands that all take inspiration from Guildgates. These range from life-gain lands, snow covered duals from Kaldheim, just some plain old tapped lands, Campuses from Strixhaven and Artifact dual lands from Modern Horizons 2. These lands are all viable options for someone playing on a budget and can even be decent additions to a deck depending on what payoffs you are running elsewhere.
The drawback to all of these lands is that will virtually always come into play tapped and that can be a real cost. So, even casual players like myself play these sorts of lands with great trepidation because I KNOW there will be a point in the game where I need an untapped land and all I got was a life gain land. So, players beware.
Another very viable option are the Scrylands. These were originally printed in our original visit to Theros and while it may be hard to believe but at the time some of the lands in this cycle eclipsed $10! Today, they have been reprinted frequently enough such that they hover around $1/ land making them very reasonable budget options. I am a big fan of these lands because I find that little bonus of a Scrty 1 super valuable and can really help smooth out a rocky opening hand, or set up an optimal draw later in the game.
Again, the same problem as with the Tapped lands is that these also enter play tapped. The cost rises as the power level of your meta increases, meaning that typically these get cut in favor of lands that are untapped, but they make a solid basis for a budget deck.
Originally given to us in Shadows Over Innistrad, this land cycle has largely been panned for being not particularly good. However, these can be useful options for a budget deck.
First off, the 5 allied lands from Shadows Over Innistrad all hover around $1 making them very budget friendly. The 5 Enemy coloured pairs found in Strixhaven are worth slightly more because they might see some measure of play in Standard, but even at $3 they are pretty reasonable. The benefit here is that they do have the option of being played untapped. The most likely scenario is that these get played on Turn 1 when you may have another basic or two in hand, but really, the fact that this comes in untapped, even T1, is a big boost because it means you have just one more land that is untapped and doesn’t force you to wait.
Also, should you draw a big ol’ pile of cards you could play this untapped if you draw multiple lands, which is a nice thought. They are a little tricky to use effectively and the tension between having them play untapped vs tapped is certainly a concern, but the fact the option exists is a nice thought.
As we continue to explore budget options we get to the bi-cycle lands from Amonkhet. Truth be told, this cycle is pretty decent because on top of being dual lands, they are also templated with the land type so that you can fetch them with the correct Fetchland. The fact that Sheltered Thicket is a Mountain and a Forest is terrific and allows it to be accessed quite readily, helping to smooth out your mana.
The extra cherry on top here is the cycling cost that can allow you cash in the land and draw another card. What’s not to love? Once again, this cycle comes into play tapped, which is a drawback, but the fact remains these lands are increasingly versatile… and run you somewhere around $3 making them excellent budget options.
Another excellent budget option are the Tango lands from Battle for Zendikar. They earned their name for being able to be untapped if you already have 2 basics on the battlefield… because of course it takes two to Tango! These are great budget options hovering between $1 and $2 a card and provide some real solid benefits.
Firstly, these DO have the capacity to be untapped, which is very valuable. With this land cycle, late game plays are much likely to be online because chances are a late top deck will allow you to have the untapped land you need to make your big play. They are also templated with the land types so that they are lands that are legal targets for fetches giving you yet more options.
Another viable option for budget players are the creature lands. It is interesting that these all originate from the plain of Zendikar but come from different visits to the plane. The 5 original allied lands found in Worldwake have all seen some measure of competitive play (except Stirring Wildwood) and some have even been quite expensive. These originators were probably a little too good and cards like Celestial Colonnade were widely played and were very expensive.
The 5 enemy coloured creature lands from Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, on the other hand, have all been relegated to support roles or outright discarded because many of them aren’t good enough. The truth is that all of these lands can be very useful to provide a surprise blocker, can carry swords or equipment, and can survive board wipes and leave you with a credible threat. They also now have seen their prices sink to under $5 for even the most expensive and many hover around $1 making them good budget options that provide versatility.
The Pathways that appear in Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim are perhaps some of the best budget friendly dual lands we have seen in quite a while. While they are currently quite expensive, but I would expect that upon rotation these all see a very tangible drop in price.
The best attribute with these lands is that they always come into play untapped. That is a HUGE upgrade on many of the other lands we have seen in this article. However, the tension at play is that they can only be used to produce one colour or the other once they have been played because you have to select which side of the card you wish to play. I appreciate the tension that is created by a player having to make a choice about which side to play because decisions are ultimately at the core of our game. The more decisions we make, the more I like the game. So, I can’t wait for these to see their price recede as they approach rotation because I see these as being a very real and bright option going forward.
Well, that is going to wrap our look at budget dual lands. Hopefully we’ve given casual players a slightly different perspective into why play some of these land cycles. With new cycles being printed with every new expansion these options are going to continue to grow and help budget players keep their decks viable and their wallets a tad more full. If you enjoyed my thoughts or have something you would like to see explored in more detail, please check out our decks and much more each week on our 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!
The King is back with a quick article about this silky box, containing the five enemy Fetch Lands that feature the artwork of premier Magic artists Alayna Danner, Adam Paquette, Sam Burley, John Avon, and Seb McKinnon.
There has been some complaining online about this reprint of Fetch Lands. The complaints are not about the reprint, but because of the way they are being released. As a Secret Lair: Ultimate Edition, a collection containing one non-foil copy of each enemy Fetch Lands. Some would have preferred a reprint in a Booster Set like Modern Masters 2017. While Masters Sets may be discontinued, Wizards had other opportunities to reprint fetches like Modern Horizons and Mystery Boosters. Wizards of the Coast did say WPN stores will receive up to 10 copies starting May 29.
This collection reminds me of From The Vaults. Except that, for the week after these go on sale at WPN stores, Wizards will be running a Secret Lair superdrop as well. More details about all of the drops will be released closer to June. The only detail Wizards has shared is that if you purchase the bundle that combines each drop that goes on sale during the superdrop, you’ll receive one random fetch land for each bundle you purchase. Wizards also added there will be another way to pick up some stylized versions of fetch lands later this year that will also be in your local game store. It could be Commander Legends, the first-ever Commander set, set to release in December 2020. The JumpStart set in July is the other possible non-Standard set. However, I don’t think they would contain Fetch Lands.
Pre-orders for the Secret Lair – Ultimate Edition containing all five Fetch Lands are on our website for only $299.99. Don’t miss out!
Hey guys, I’m back! So after a long hiatus from Magic and an even longer one from the competitive scene my creative juices have started flowing and I just had to start up again. By the way I’m not just jumping into one format but I’ve been actively back in Standard, Modern and now stepping back again into my personal favourite which is Legacy. Now what could these three all possibly have in common? Well, I’m playing Eldrazi in every format currently and doing quite well with the massive titans and their spawn.
First off let’s take a look at Standard…
This deck is a lot of fun for the one piloting it but less so for the one who has to try and stop it. Basically you just have to stay alive long enough and you have the tools to do it with your cheap counter magic and efficient removal, including the very powerful Kozilek’s Return, all of which plays at Instant speed. As long as you’re making your land drops the removal keeps you going long enough to drop down a walker to really get ahead or a Drowner of Hope to put some pressure as well as use the tokens to ramp. Once you have the mana, which can be as early as turn 6, you drop Ulamog and it’s pretty hard to lose from there especially as you get to exile your opponents bests two permanents and clock them with his ability as well as damage. This deck matches up well against the GW/x decks like Tokens or Company and is generally well positioned in the current meta due to the fact that you really don’t care what your opponent is doing, and really you just need to make it to turn 5-6 to snowball advantage.
Moving on to Modern…
This Eldrazi deck isn’t strictly a ramp deck, yes you play a bit of ramp to power out your Eldrazi a bit faster BUT you are mostly an aggro deck which better creatures then other aggro decks and for cheaper too! It’s not uncommon to go turn two Thought-Knot Seer followed by a turn three Reality Smasher. That is an insane opening and an absurd clock that few decks can actually race against, not even taking into account the built-in disruption these monsters have! Looking at your opponents hand to exile one of their cards is already a solid ability then put that on a 4/4 body that can come out so quickly and it’s so amazing. The best part is if they kill it they don’t get that card back, yes they get to draw one at random but the card you stole is gone for good. Reality Smasher is a pain to deal with but you must because a 5/5 with haste and trample…well let’s just say it does a very good job of living up to it’s name while dealing with it is difficult at best. One of the cards that doesn’t get enough credit is Matter Reshaper because on defense or offense it’s just good and if the opposition isn’t playing Path then even if they get rid of it you get value. Easily the best card in the deck is Eldrazi Displacer giving your guys evaision, clearing your way for attack, actual removal for tokens, and abusing the hell out of Thought-Knot. He does it all and generally your opponent is going to try everything to get rid of him right away. Other key elements are Ancient Stirrings which hits almost every card in this deck and is arguably as good, if not better, here than it was in Tron and as a former Tron player that is saying something. Cavern of Souls makes control match-ups much easier and leaves them with a bunch of dead cards in hand while Eldrazi Temple itself is a straight-up ramp card. This deck is insane and provides a fast clock while causing some minor disruption all at the same time.
Finally looking to Legacy…
So as you can see this list is very similar to the Modern list in terms of the creatures used but is much more explosive and you get to play with one of the most disruptive cards in the format. Whenever you are able to drop a turn one Chalice of the Void for one it can just absolutely ruin many decks. Like they are out, it is game over, moving on…that’s just how devastating the card can be. Decks like Storm which rely on one mana cantrips and Dark Ritual effects or decks that try to deal with your monstrous creatures without the help of Swords to Plowshares will be miserable. You also pretty much just get a win against decks like Burn and if you are on the play against Elves it just completely shatters their game plan. We also still get to play with Eye of Ugin and the sol lands making turn two Thought-Knot Seer scarily common. The other thing this deck can do because of Eye of Ugin is toss down a bunch of Mimics on one turn and next just play Reality Smasher for a quick end to the game. Another big advantage that this deck has over it’s Modern counterpart is the use of Jitte because when you have it combat for your opponent becomes just awful with no profitable way for them to do anything. This deck offers amazingly crippling disruption paired with a combo finish as one avenue to win or just big fast efficient creatures that can end games quickly and prevent your opponents from ending games as another.
Until next time…
I don’t usually figure that I am the type of person that gets all reflective. I very much live in the here and now. I focus on what is in front of me, what needs to be done, and I try very much to not get ahead of myself. However, every once in awhile something happens to me that forces me to sit back and really take stock of where I am and what I am all about.
As some of you may be aware, during the day I am a teacher. I love my job. I love working with my students as they grow into outstanding young men and women. I relish their successes, and I genuinely feel for them when they falter and stumble. I wouldn’t trade the job for anything. If you aren’t familiar with schools, it takes a lot of planning year to year to be able to keep a school running and publicly funded schools need to ensure that they have the appropriate number of staff for their site. In my school area we start that process in April and it doesn’t get fully resolved until August and even then can be a kind of up and down affair.
A year ago, at this time of year, I opted to move from a safe and sure thing at a solid school in order to search out a new job and some new experiences because I thought my teaching was getting a little on the stale side. I landed a job at a small school and have been forced to not only take a much larger leadership role than anticipated, but also challenge myself with my teaching and new subjects that I haven’t taught before. The experience has been healthy to say the least. Sadly, the staffing process for next school year has just begun and I found out that my small school is shrinking a little bit further and that I am now supernumerary. That means that I’m out a job and will need to look for a new job for next school year.
Am I a little sad to leave? Yes. I have been afforded some tremendous opportunities and I have really enjoyed my experience. However, staring down the barrel of forced change doesn’t feel so bad. I’ve done this before, just a year ago, BY CHOICE, and done well. Surely I can find myself another new job now that I NEED to go and find a new job. Desperation can be a very powerful motivator, but so is the prospect of change.
Many of us resist change. It scares us and makes us tentative. However, I have seen that change can be extremely positive in my professional life leading to greater enjoyment of what I love to do. Does it still scare me? You bet, but I am learning more and more to accept this change and to try and use it to my advantage and to improve myself.
How does all this discussion of change pertain to playing Magic? I think it is very straight forward. Change in Magic is good. We all love the change afforded us on account of rotation and a new block. This is a type of forced change that impacts most of us who play this game and helps to keep the game fresh and interesting at every level. To see the recent transition in Standard away from 4-colour insanity to more modest 2 and 3-colour decks has been refreshing. We see new cards, new combinations, and new abilities that will help redefine how we think about Magic.
We can also see this sort of forced change through things like the recent Bannings and Restrictions. Adding new cards to the card pool of a format like Modern goes a long way to help freshen up a format an unlock new potential combinations that will make the environment more enjoyable.
However, for every instance of someone getting excited for change, we see other things where players complain about all sorts of changes. I can scroll through my Twitter feed and see people complain about all sorts of Magic issues on a daily basis. I understand that some changes may not feel positive, but I would ask players to at least keep an open mind. Play points may not be all bad for MTGO. MTG finance might be more predictable at some point down the road. Less coverage of GPs may not be a bad thing instead of competing with everyone on Twitch for the attention of Magic players. But if we all complain about such things instead of embracing some of these changes, or at least giving the people who planned the change the benefit of the doubt, then we are limiting ourselves.
Then there is the question of change that you have brought upon yourself by choice. This might be the most difficult area because many times it is unclear how we, as players, can change and grow. However, perhaps it is a matter of becoming more attuned with the story of the game and paying more attention in that realm to help deepen your appreciation for the game. Perhaps it is uncovering a new fun podcast or website for inspiration. Maybe you just commit yourself to spending more time playing a given format into to try and grow your skill and understanding. Regardless of what you have chosen, making those first steps down the path of change can open up countless opportunities and be something that pushes you to be better.
For me, I look at the next few months of impending change as a positive. Am I sad? Yes. I hate to leave my school. I’m also sad when I take apart old decks from formats that I enjoyed and had kept together for nostalgia, but sometimes those cards can be put to better use elsewhere. However, the new possibilities that can exist from this change can be very positive. I like building new decks and I enjoy new challenges professionally. Things will be stressful and tense in the next few weeks as I attend interviews, but that’s part of the challenge and one I look forward to facing. I can’t wait and I am hoping that there is a perfect dream job out there for me somewhere. In the meantime I am going to enjoy the time at my current school, enjoy a little Magic, and get ready for whatever may come my way.
@bgray8791 on Twitter
With all the new cards spoiled from Shadows over Innistrad I have been excited to go back and dig up a bunch of my cards from the original Innistrad block and I found a couple of old decks that were still largely intact. There are a number of cards that I forgotten about and digging them up inspired me to build a deck using many of these cards.
The two biggest incentives are to play Mayor of Avabruck, a werewolf from our first visit to Innistrad who is just a beating. Part Human lord. Part Werewolf lord. All value. I dug out my playset of the Mayor and was super excited to dust them off. The second one is a card that I would argue starts to push the bounds of a budget deck. Legion Loyalist has seen his price climb higher and higher in recent weeks to the point where he is north of $10. For a 1/1 with Haste for 1 mana that seems steep, but I guess he’s slightly more budget than Tarmogoyf. Either way, finding these cards had me assemble a Naya Blitz deck very similar to one played in Standard back a couple of years ago. Despite the fact that recycling an old deck is not always a great idea this might be a list that could port to Modern and be fairly explosive.
Here’s my list:
On the whole, the deck is fairly inexpensive with the exception of Legion Loyalist thanks to the recent spike. The spells are also cheap to play and readily available without much difficulty. The only real difficulty is the mana base which, as we all know, is always expensive. The Wooded Foothills are currently *$25/card and the Shocklands all currently run about *$10/ card making for over *$200 in mana alone. That doesn’t even include a 4 of Windswept Heath, not because I don’t want to run them but because I don’t actually own a copy. So, let’s be generous and say that this deck costs less than *$300 ( more like $250) but could scale significantly if you wanted to run it. In a format where there are decks that can cost far more without even breaking a sweat this could be a budget entry point into Modern that is easier for some players to digest.
Some fancy upgrades you could make to the deck including putting in Tarmogoyf as the best 2 drop creature Green has to offer. Scavenging Ooze could be another choice, but it gets a little mana intensive and would be better as a sideboard card to try and gain back some life against particular matchups. Atarka’s Command would be an ideal upgrade and another very flexible card in these colours. Wild Nacatl would be a powerful addition as well. I could go on for days listing other powerful Modern staples, but I think you see the point…if you wanted to up the price tag there are lots of options to do so.
The game plan is simple. Hit the board early and often with fast creatures that pack a mean punch. Loyalist and the Swiftspear come in with Haste and Flinthoof Boar might join them meaning you could after your opponent’s life total early and often. The real question is if you can chain Burning-Tree Emissaries together into a Mayor of Avabruck or more Boars to really spread your board out wide and put the pressure on before your opponent is set. Burning-Tree Shaman is the only creature at the 3 spot, but might be a good choice in this list because it is a 3/4 for 3 mana meaning it survives a Lightning Bolt. I might opt to increase the number of the Shaman and shave something off as I go. Gore-Clan Rampager does double duty as a 4/4 beater but also as a pump spell should you need to extend your reach and smash your opponent harder. Lastly the Regent might just be good insurance if you need to get a little further into the game.
The spells are pretty easy. Boros Charm is just very versatile with every mode having some sort of application in this deck. Do you need to burn out your opponent? You got it. Save your creature by giving it Indestructible? Okey-Dokey. Double down on the damage with Double-Strike? Yes Please! Lightning Bolt is also another no brainer if you’re playing Red. Giant Growth could be a very powerful option to help push through additional damage. Mutagenic Growth might be a better option, but since I don’t have any of those Giant Growth will need to do for the present. Mad Cap Skills is the only card I am unsure of and is very much a holdover from when I played this in Standard. It is a pretty powerful way to push through damage by granting your creature a form of pseudo evasion. The problem is that you can find your creature burned out or Pathed easily enough that you set yourself up for a 2 for 1. It might be the first card I side out every game but as it stands right now I have it in the deck. The sideboard is very much a work in progress, but the cards I have listed here are a starting point and can be built on depending on your local metagame.
The obvious weakness of the list is that Anger of the Gods and Pyroclasm absolutely wreck it. Nothing like having your whole deck go up in flames. You have a few things that can live through the Red board wipes, but the truth is that those just wreck your deck. I’m not sure if it is fast enough for Burn or for Affinity, but it might have a chance against some of the more Mid-rangey decks. Regardless, the deck is a bit of a glass cannon and you need to get out to fast start and get them dead fast because once you run out of gas you are in big trouble.
It isn’t a pretty deck and lacks some of the subtly that other decks in the format afford, but as far as a Budget entry point into Modern this looks like it might fit the bill. The cards aren’t overly expensive and should be accessible as they have seen fairly recent printings meaning most players can assemble the deck. With some practice and refining of the sideboard this could become a fairly reasonable deck to sit down and sling spells with. Who said you can’t go back home again?
Thanks for taking the time to stop in and have a read. Please be sure to stop in next time for another Casual Encounter.
@bgray8791 on Twitter
Goblins goblins goblins! This iconic tribe has been a part of magic’s history for about as long as we can remember. Little green men have been smashing faces for as long as there have been faces to smash. Along with most other common tribes, Goblins have had their fare share of “lords”, typically goblins that pump all other goblins. Possibly the scariest goblin lord to have ever been printed, Goblin Warchief eschews the lord mold and makes his friends faster and cheaper rather than stronger. One mana hasty Piledrivers? Two mana Matrons? Sign me up!
With Goblin Warchief coming in as an FNM promo for May, and Smash to Smithereens being the March Promo, red mages can finally have the tricked-out bling bling deck they’ve always wanted. Don’t forget about all the other sweet promos that exist for sweet red cards like Goblin Guide, Lightning Bolt, and Goblin Piledriver. The bling is real!
Also, just look at that sweet art! Mark Zug, the same artist who did Ponyback Brigade, puts his unique spin on this fierce fiend. At first, it appears that he’s wearing a fur coat, but a closer look reveals that he’s actually just wearing a dead animal. Awesome.
Wizards of the Coast just dropped an A-Bomb on us with the upcoming release announcement of Eternal Masters !!! Now I know what you’re thinking, are we going to be getting our Dual Lands reprinted finally ?!?!? Sadly and obviously the answer to that question was already addressed in their announcement that no cards from the Reserved List will be reprinted in this set BUT we already know not one but TWO of the all-stars that are going to be in the set. It should be no surprise that both Wasteland and Force of Will are in and have already been previewed with some incredible new art, Force of Will having a reworking by the original artist Terese Nielsen. The most exciting aspect of this announcement is that they’ve decided to name it Eternal Masters and not Legacy Masters which leads me to believe that we could see some needed reprints of both Vintage and Modern staples as well. With four months to wait before the release of the set will be upon us you can be sure that there will be endless lists of speculation as to what we should expect to see but there are a few things that come to mind. I would be really excited to see any awesome reprints but some these seem like they are well overdue. It’s doubtless that cards like Show and Tell or Sneak Attack would be very well received. I’m certain nobody would complain about Snapcaster Mage or Sensei’s Divining Top and there’s definitely great choices of planeswalkers with either Liliana of the Veil or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. There’s also tons of utility cards like Flusterstorm, Abrupt Decay or Thoughtseize which could easily make the list. That doesn’t even begin to look at the possible lands like Karakas, Rishadan Port, Ancient Tomb or the notably absent from reprint so far ZendikarFetchlands. So no doubt the debate will rage on for months about what is and isn’t included in the set and all we can do is wait patiently and prepare, because if you haven’t already set yourself up with those Reserved List Eternal staples then pretty soon they’re going to be gone the way of the Dodo.
Set Name Eternal Masters
Number of Cards 249
Release Date June 10, 2016
Magic Online Release Date June 17, 2016
Official Three–Letter Code EMA
Twitter Hashtag #MTGEMA
Initial Concept and Game Design
Tom LaPille (lead)
Final Game Design and Development
Adam Prosak (lead)
Languages Available English, Japanese, Chinese Simplified
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
There are two things that Red has been very good at since the dawning of MTG, direct damage and destroying artifacts. Smash to Smithereens does both of those things wrapped up in one pretty little package. While it is somewhat fringy as it does requires your opponent to be playing Artifacts it has been a very strong sideboard card in the past. There are many good options to fill this spot in the side, but if your plan is to blast them down to zero life ASAP then this might just be your choice. I’m doubtful that we will see a reprinting of it in a Standard legal set, so you’re probably looking at this in Modern against Affinity decks.
The art while not very involved has a flavourful tie-in with the current block depicting Zada and contains a pretty apt quote. Darek Zabrocki did a very nice piece here staying pretty true to Rallis’ original imagery of Zada. And who knows, maybe this is just the tip of the iceberg of Modern playable FNM promos coming for the new year. Good luck getting your hands on some !!!
@ejseltzer on Twitter