Hello fellow looters! This last Saturday, I decided to play in my local PPTQ (Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier) as I have been wanting to get back into Standard. It is also a long term goal of mine to get on the Pro Tour so I have been attending more PPTQs as of late. So, before we jump into the actual tournament, let’s talk about the deck.
So before this event, I had Jeff Hoogland’s BW deck built for a PPTQ two weeks ago. After looking at some of the pieces, I decided that it was poorly positioned in the meta and made some drastic changes. I basically made the deck creature-less (aside from the one Kalitas in the sideboard) and added some harder to kill threats. I expected to see lots of rally and I absolutely hate Reflector Mage which prompted the decision. I basically made a very removal heavy deck with the plan to finish the game with a Gideon, Ob Nixilis, and Palace Siege.
Now when looking at this deck, the card that stands out the most is most likely Palace Siege. It is a slow and costly threat. That being said, it won me almost every game that I resolved it in because no one could kill it. In a deck with as much removal and card draw (due to Seagate Wreckage), I need a resilient threat that will just eventually win me the game.
Another lynch-pin of this deck was the fact that no one’s deck was geared to beat mine because it is so outside the current creature meta of this Coco-Rally-BR Dragons-Value Creature Standard. In fact, I only lost one pre-sideboard game the entire tournament and that was because I was on a mulligan to 5 on the play.
I thought this deck was a decent meta call at the time and decided it was what I was going to take to this tournament. Worst case scenario, it was a deck packed full of powerhouse BW cards. So the real question: How did I do?
This is arguably my worst match-up. Despite having two Hallowed Moonlight in the main board, I am still weak to the combo kill. This was one of the few matches that I ended up boarding out two Palace Siege as it ended up being awfully slow against a deck that can just win through attacking with 2/3 creatures.
Game One I ended up taking a mulligan to five on the play and it ended up being a pretty quick game. All he really had to do was drop a few creatures and, a few Collected Company later, I just died to combat damage. He was definitely playing an older version of rally with Grim Haruspex and a few other engine cards that made his combo less reliable. The fact that I played no creatures was great against his four Reflector Mage and Sidisi’s Faithful. I decided to board in my Languish along with my Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. In addition, I cut some slower removal for hand disruption, primarily all four copies of Transgress the Mind as it is great against Rally.
Game Two and Three were actually pretty quick as I was able to disrupt his hand and just take over with an Ob Nixilis, Reignited in game two and a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in game three. I will be the first to admit his draws were subpar but I was 1-0 so I was happy about it!
Game one was pretty easy for me to win. Not only did he have a lot of dead cards in the matchup but I also had swift answers to all of his threats. Two Palace Siege ended up being just a little too much to come back from as he had zero cards in his deck to remove enchantments. I do also want to give an honorable mention to Seagate Wreckage here as well. This card did a surprising amount of work for me over the weekend and my hand was never empty.
Game two was a very close game with a pretty back and forth fight for control. What really hurt me was the synergy of Kolaghan’s Command, Den Protector, and Goblin Dark-Dwellers. With this, he was able to brick my removal over and over while getting his same threat back onto the board. Eventually he was able to outpace my removal and Read the Bones with Den Protectors and Dark-Dwellers and I ultimately lost to a Chandra showing up out of the blue and allowing a hit for nine. By the time I was able to get a hold on the board, I was dead to combat damage.
Game three my opponent had boarded into a slightly more aggressive shell with Sylvan Advocates, Den Protectors with Chandra and Siege Rhino to finish me off. I had a wrath in my opener and I decided to keep it, however Duress wasn’t having any of it. My wrath was taken and a flood of creatures began to hit me in the face. I lost this game fairly quickly as my draw was not geared to handle his explosive start and diversified threats.
So at first, I had no idea what this person was playing until he was basically just dropping Eldrazi on the table. I would say the deck was very good, however, had many cards that were just dead against my creature less deck. I was able to deal with major threats like Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer all while maintaining a board presence with Planeswalkers. Not only did my deck have plenty of ways to kill Reality Smasher without pitching a card but one of the true heroes again was Seagate Wreckage. It turns out it is hard to lose when drawing two cards a turn. Both games played out the same and were very enjoyable for both of us. I think that his lack of a sideboard that let him deal with my deck hurt him the most. I had brought in my Infinite Obliterations from the side and hitting all his Reality Smashers allowed me to play much safer without worry of a hasty threat. The game came down to his Shambling Vents trying to keep pace with my Palace Siege and eventually, once I removed it, his life total eventually hit zero and I had won.
My deck had a fairly easy time dealing with BR Dragons. I was able to chain removal until I stuck a Palace Siege or Ob Nixilis. The only card that really was hard to deal with in this match was Kolaghan, The Storm’s Fury.
Game one was very easily won. My opponent had tons of removal and I have nothing to remove. Once I stuck one of my threats, the game was over very quickly. After game one I had no idea what his deck was.
Game two I wasn’t able to sideboard very effectively due to the cards I saw. Now, after playing this game I knew where my deck was weakest against his. That was specifically against Kolaghan. He killed me with combat damage as I sat there with a bunch of sorcery speed answers in my hand.
Game three I came prepared knowing what I faced. I took out some of the sorcery speed removal I had and added more ways to remove Kolaghan from either the battlefield or my opponents hand. This proved to work quite well and game three was a pretty decisive win. My win condition was once again Palace Siege.
After the end of round four, I had a record of 3-1 which had me sitting in 5th place! Yay! I was really happy about this as it has been a while since I went top eight at a PPTQ. My opponent was at his first competitive REL tournament and when I offered to intentionally draw, I had to explain myself. I am not going to get into the math behind it here, but we both made top eight by drawing in with almost 99% certainty.
As it turns out, my math was sound. I was now in the top eight. To be honest, neither my friends nor I believed that my deck would make it and I won’t even pretend to tell you it was perfect. (Or that I didn’t cut corners to not have to buy cards…) The fact of the matter was I used my resources to target the meta in a way that worked.
I know, you read the (Loss 1-2) part. Boo! Taking game one was easy due to the number of dead cards in his hand. Game two and three, I just couldn’t handle Dark-Dwellers, Den Protector, and spell recursion. Chandra also had some real strength against my deck as she closes the game fast. This Mardu green player had a lot more hand disruption in his sideboard as well. I will also say I wasn’t happy with my hand in game three and had to mulligan down to six on the draw. I could have gone lower but I figured I had lands and two good removal spells…that were shortly plucked from my hand by two Duress. There are worse fates than walking away with a top eight finish and prize packs.
If I had to give the deck a weakness, it would be hand disruption. When you are playing a deck with different kinds of situational removal, having the piece you need taken from you at the wrong time can sometimes be the entire game.
Although I had a great time with the deck, I ‘m interested in attempting a UB Control shell as I feel it could be well positioned against a lot of different decks. Once Crackling Doom rotates, Sphinx of the Final Word will even get better and be a great threat over Palace Siege. We will just have to see what Shadows Over Innistrad has in store for us.
Until next time fellow looters, happy spell-slinging!
@Sockymans on Twitter
Fate Reforged is right around the corner and the anticipation in the Magic Community is mounting. So many SWEET treats! But with any new set it is also spoiler and preview time as everyone offer their own opinion on cards. However, anyone can offer an opinion…but what can we at Three Kings Loot do to make out previews a little bit different?
We decided that this time round that previews would be done a little bit differently. If you want a full, comprehensive review of each and every card, you are welcome to check out the host of sites that do that sort of thing. No, here at Three Kings Loot we decided that focusing on the cards that will be impactful at various formats and what they offer the Magic Community would be a different take on the whole “Preview” idea and might spice things up. On my end, I will look at cards that will impact Casual Magic players. Specifically, I will look at some of the cards that have got me excited and some of the ways I intend on using them to help diversify my Casual play experiences with my pals when we next meet around the Kitchen table.
I would like to make one major distinction because when most people hear “Casual” they immediately think of EDH. However, there is far more to Casual play than just Commander and so I will touch on a variety of cards and some of them may be awful for Commander. However, what keeps many of these cards all in step is that many are unlikely to see play in Constructed environments in most situations. Let’s take a look at my top 10 cards for Casual Magic.
Archfiend of Depravity – Who doesn’t like a 5/4 flier for 5 mana? Add on that extra ability and this guy is hilarious. Granted, only the guy who is a “griefer” in your play group is going to dig this, but it is still pretty amazing. This guy shuts out token strategies, destroys Manifest decks, or really just about any deck that is looking to go wide…and then shuts them down again by making you crash into a 5/4 flier if you get brave enough to attack. The best part is that is asymmetrical, meaning you can throw down as many creatures as you like! It wrecks Hexproof because it doesn’t target…really, there is very little this can’t do. Sure, it might not get everything, but this guy can single handedly make a mess of the board state and put you in the driver’s seat.
10- Fascination – This just looks like a ridiculous spell. Normally I don’t like symmetrical spells like this, but the option to Draw or Mill both players is incredible…and double blue and X is potent. At 5 mana it’s Jace’s Ingenuity. At 6 it’s Opportunity. At any more than that you are grabbing a huge pile of your deck and just going to town. Now, my IMMEDIATE thought was pair this with Notion Thief…which would be a hilarious interaction. Consecrated Sphinx sounds fun too. How about this plus…oh I don’t know…Reverberate/Fork/Howl of the Horde? Oh my…the hilarious nature of those spells. Also, there are a number of fringe decks that could run this because they don’t care what their opponent does. Turbo Fog has little to no interest in what their opponent does…so symmetrical card draw is fine because they only want to dig up Fog effects. Lastly, this could totally power out some busted Delve type spells by Milling everyone. All in all, this is just fun and the sort of card I would be looking to brew Casual non-sense with.
9- Mob Rule – Hello! This is just Harness by Force on Crack…or Threaten on steroids…or something ridiculous to do with 6 mana. Take all your opponent’s stuff, untap it, and smash them with it? Wowzers. That’s filthy. I’m on board the train to silly town with this guy. And at Casual, 6 mana isn’t an unreasonable casting cost…and the effect is kind of bonkers. I’m in. Just ridiculous. But wait! There’s MORE! “What is even better than just taking their stuff?” you ask. Well let me tell you. Let’s imagine you CAN’T kill them by stealing all their stuff…why not start sacrificing their stuff to some sac outlet for hilarity’s sake? Altar’s Reap is an easy place to start…but why not keep going and go to Bloodflow Connoisseur , Cartel Aristocrat, Corpse Traders, Culling Dais, Dark Triumph…and you’re getting the idea. I’m not sure that there is something that makes me happier than sacrificing my opponents stuff for a laugh and a giggle. Time to find Free sac outlets!
8- Ghastly Conscription – Oh c’mon…as if you didn’t think of this with Fascination? Mill their Graveyard and the next turn turn them ALL into Manifested 2/2 creatures? That seems like fun. Heck, any Mill strategy with this will be hilarious and ensure that you will bury them under a pile of their own cards. I’m quietly giggling waiting to pick up a couple of these and surprise my pals. I might get Booed out of the room…but that’s ok for the look of sheer disgust on their faces. I love it. 7 mana ridiculousness never looked so good.
7- Manifest – Yup, that’s right…I like this new Mechanic so much that it is effectively on here twice. Ghastly Conscription is just the tip of the iceberg! I’m lumping this whole mechanic in as being sweet for Casual play because there are a number of fringe ideas that this can play right into. The card that highlights this ability most to me is Ethereal Ambush that dumps a pair of 2/2 Manifested critters on the board for you and give you and immediate board presence. I’ve already expounded pretty well on where I think this idea can go, but to sum it up, anytime you can guarantee to turn random cards into 2/2 creatures it is not a bad thing. Pack your deck full of creatures and very few spells and you can make your Casual deck tons of fun to play with and still flip them over by paying their casting cost. Add in the interaction with Secret Plans and Trail of Mystery and you have some very powerful engines to power through a deck. Oh, and you know all those Moprh triggers? There could be some really interesting interactions as you need only pay their mana cost to flip the card over…meaning Master of Pearls now flips for 2. 2 Mana! Wow. Yeah…this could get silly and I’m going to be diving right in trying to break it huge.
6- Ojutai, Soul of Winter – Ok, so all the other Legendary dragons in this set could at least see some sort of Constructed play…or at least I could conceive of a deck that would want them…whether they see play is another matter all together. However, Ojutai just will not get the job done. The ability isn’t powerful enough by itself and Ojutai needs some dragon buddies to really go off. That said, he will still be a sweet addition to a number of decks in the Casual realm. First off, Dragon Tribal EDH will LOVE this guy. That’s an obvious starting point. However, a W/U deck premised on Freezing your opponent or Detaining their whole team is indeed a thing and Ojutai is right there playing along. How about Jeskai Dragons featuring Brood Keeper and Crucible of Fire? That has some promise. Or, just as a really big dude in any deck dabbling around with W/U really…Ojutai is still a big beat stick with a Crippling Chill attached to him for good measure. He may not see Constructed too readily, but I’ll still be pumped to open up this guy and run him in other things.
5-Temporal Trespass – Ok, so the debate is already raging if this is good for Constructed or not. My sense is that it is, but who the heck am I? There is absolutely no doubt that this is good enough for Casual because it says TAKE AN EXTRA TURN! You know what I can do with an extra turn? Absolutely ANYTHING. I love it and I will make in happen …regularly. Stay tuned because there will be deck lists featuring this little beauty.
4- Siege Cycle – These will be terrific in Limited, but they will all be amazing in Casual games, in large part because of the wording. Each of these cards have a mode that impacts each player sitting at the table, meaning that you can impact each opponent at a multiplayer game. That’s big in EDH and 60 card multi-player variants because it gives you good bang for your buck. While they aren’t degenerate cards, except for maybe Frontier Siege which ramps at EVERY MAIN PHASE, they will all be useful and are likely to be solid additions to most decks.
3- Warden of the First Tree – There is no doubt that this will be outstanding in the Casual arena. I have my doubts if this is good enough for Constructed, but in Casual I can assure I will ramp to the ultimate and make the 8/8 trampling, lifelinking sprit token. Yeah…this seems like fun and the Hybrid mana cost means he could fit in sooooo many Casual brews that it is ridiculous. There will be a warm spot for him in my Evolve deck powered with Gyre Sage and ramp this guy out. Really, any mono-green ramp strategy will be a solid fit and will make this guy into an instant all star. Look for this guy causing havoc at Kitchen tables for years to come.
2- Shamanic Revelation – Ok, this is an upgrade on Collective Unconsciousness, and it will be ridiculous in Casual Games. Any strategy going wide playing Green will gobble this card up, run it, and gain about a bajillion life and draw ALL the cards. Think about it. I can name at least 2 of my own decks that will love this and there is room for plenty more. Mass card draw in Green is never easy to find and the fact that this one takes some set up is not ideal, but the potential upside is huge. I can hardly wait to fire this one off.
1- Temur War Shaman: Ok, if this were a 4/5 for 6 mana it would be ok. However, this packs an additional Manifested creature when it enters the battlefield meaning that you get 6/7 for power and toughness…across two bodies…for 6 mana. That is some pretty good stats that you shouldn’t overlook when you are playing this card. This is also absurdly easy to abuse…bounce it to your hand with Sage Eye Avengers, Roaring Primadox, Quickling or Deputy of Acquittals…but even better is all the flicker non-sense from Avacyn Restored. Cloudshift, Ghostly Flicker, Conjurer’s Closet, Deadeye Navigator…and you are off to the races Manifesting everything. I really like this guy and feel like it has some Casual applications in addition to the ridiculous pile of Manifest cards that can just make the battlefield one huge mess. I’m a fan!
Well, there we go. Of course, you might have some other casual favorites in mind, and that’s 100% fine. The nice thing with Fated Reforge is that it seems to offer quite a number of really interesting cards for Constructed and Casual applications making it look fun and feel pretty neat. Also, I feel like the Manifest ability is going to make this set very complicated and challenging…which is a good thing because it will force us all to deviate from playing boring linear decks, but instead splashing it around and seeing what other sorts of shenanigans we can concoct as we move forward. I’m a big fan, in case you haven’t seen. However, the Khans of each of the clans, Ugin, and some of the other spells and creatures are all insane, but I wanted to take some time and highlight some of the things that have got me excited.
Thanks for taking the time to read. Until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it Casual.by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter
Fate Reforged pre-release will introduce special promo ‘Time Shifted Cards’. During the event you get to pick your Tarkir Clan and will also receive a special ‘Ugin’s Fate” booster pack which contains a Token, a Land card and certain amount of ‘Time Shifted Cards’ from a pool of 40 holo foil stamped cards with alternate art which demonstrates how the plane of Tarkir has changed. The PAX Australia panel showcased three of these cards.