by Bruce Gray -Casual Encounters
I have decided that I am going to try and put together a bit of new series here on Three Kings Loot called Crack a pack MTG with Bruce. This way I would enjoy the chance to sit down and really look at the cards I open in a pack and go through the same mental exercises I would use to evaluate cards in a draft. I always find this interesting because the thought process from person to person is so different. I might pick something totally different than the next player…and for perfectly valid reasons…making the drafting process super fun and very interesting. I thought it might be nice to share my thoughts on some of the cards and how I proceed
For our inaugural Crack a pack MTG, I’m going to look at a pack of Theros. My main reason for checking this out is the fact that my casual group is going to be drafting triple Theros later this summer because one of the guys in our group got a box relatively inexpensively…and what is better than drafting with a cheap box?! Nothing…that’s what! So, I went out to my local game store and picked up a pack of Theros to practice because it has been a few months since we all drafted triple Theros. Today I will go through card by card and look at what the potential top five choices are in the pack and what I would pick first.
This is, overall, a pretty mediocre pack. There is no obvious windmill slam or consensus first pick, but there are a number of good choices. Let’s have a look.
The most obvious place to start is the rare which is Colossus of Akros. The sheer size of this guy makes him very appealing, especially if you can Monstruous him and make some ridiculous beast. The fact that the Colossus is also an artifact and colourless is also nice because it doesn’t commit you to a colour yet. Options are good and this guy keeps my options open. The drawback to this card is the huge mana investment. Not every draft deck is designed to get to 8 mana to cast this or 10 to get it to Monstrous. It’s an option, but not an obvious first pick.
The next card to catch my eye is Stoneshock Giant because a 5/4 for 5 mana is pretty solid. The monstrous ability makes this guy very daunting to deal with as well too. He’s not flashy but very much in the running for first pick of this pack and a very good start to playing Red.
Gods Willing grabs my attention because it is an excellent combat trick to give something evasion or protect it from being killed. It can also Scry for 1 making it useful to set up the rest of your deck. Cheap. Versatile. And opens the door to trying to go for the Heroic deck. I’m not usually keen on picking instants and sorceries as first picks because they just don’t impact the board significantly enough, but this pack is pretty mediocre, so it might make sense. This one gets a long hard look.
Nessian Courser is a solid green body as a 3/3 for 3 mana. He’s bland and won’t scare your opposition, but more useful creatures is always better than fewer. I’d hate to take him first but if my heart was set on playing green and I thought there might be a chance something else in Green might wheel in this pack I might go for it.
Pharika’s Cure is next as a form of inexpensive removal. Removal is premium in a draft and instant speed removal is even better not to mention the incidental life gain is pretty useful as well. Not an exciting pick, but a card worthy of good look.
I would look at Akroan Crusader and Sea God’s Revenge, but I think those would have to wait and be more mid-round picks. The Crusader is good, but only in a heroic deck so I might hold off and hope that I see a Crusader or two go by as the draft takes shape. Revenge is a nice bounce spell, but for 6 mana is pretty steep and at sorcery speed is a little slow to have much in the way of impact. However, both can be very powerful and impact the board significantly.
Some other playables that I would be looking to make it around the table would include the Setessan Griffin which is a very solid 3/2 flier, but to maximize its abilities you are virtually forced into playing green along with it. The Priest of Iroas is another versatile creature that can occupy that vital 1 drop spot in your deck. Returned Phalanx is also quite solid, but again, to activate it and really get full value you need to pair it with Blue. Lastly the Leonin Snarecaster is a utility creature and occupies the all important 2-drop slot and even has an ability. These would be solid picks in the mid round as well and cards that I’d be making a note of as the draft progresses
Some things that would not be high on my list would be the Pharika’s Mender…not because it isn’t a good card because I really like it, but to pull this one you need to be in Black and Green early on. If things shake out that I am in Black and Green, I’ll grab the Mender, but otherwise I need to let her go. Defend the Hearth is another one that I like…but really has very little impact on the game. It’s the sort of card that is VERY good when it’s good, but when it isn’t good it’s just about the last card you want to see in your deck. So, I’ll let it go and if I end up in Green I might find it again later. Lastly, the Coastline Chimera is just a versatile Blue flier. It’s good on defence, but lacks much in the way of bite to attack, but if I end up in blue I might like this in the air. All of these are decent picks, but none of them are likely to be early picks from this pack.
When I open this pack there are really only 2 cards that really pull their weight as far as first picks. I want my first pick to hit the board and make an impact and possibly swing the game in my direction. As a result I want a creature first and not a spell in most cases. So, Colossus of Akros and Stoneshock Giant are really the only two viable first pickable cards. They are both very significant monsters that can take over a game and bring the beats when you need them to. Colossus doesn’t commit you to a colour and if you monstrous the thing it is basically game over. The Giant becomes a very solid 8/7 when it is Monstrous and has a much more reasonable casting cost of 5. The double red in the casting cost is a tad difficult to hit, but in a base red deck likely not that difficult.
In the end Stoneshock Giant would likely be my first because of the fact that it isn’t quite as ridiculously expensive to cast at the Colossus. I still get a big beat stick, but I will be far more likely to cast this one because 5 mana is just more attainable than the 8 for Colossus.
So, there we have it. Our first ever Crack a Pack with Bruce. What did you think? What was your first pick from that pack? I’d love to hear what other people thought. The fact that the power level in this pack was so average makes it difficult to make for a consensus first pick but it does open up lots of really good discussion. Send me your thoughts on Twitter because I’d love to hear what you think.
Well, thanks for reading…time for me to go back and brew up some new Casual masterpiece I’m going to break out at our next Casual card night. I wonder how ridiculous I can make it…hmmm?
Take care and until next time Keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it Casual.
Bruce Gray -Casual Encounters
I love spoiler season! The new cards start to open up so many crazy and neat new ideas to make decks, revisit old ones, and brew up some silly things that I can take with me to my next Casual card night. Well, Journey into Nyx is no different and has offered up loads of fun new ideas already and I wanted to take some time to share some of the Casual new brews I’ve been piecing together even before Nyx drops in May.
The first deck I started brewing up was for our return to “Hobo” night at our Casual card night. I wrote about Hobo night in a previous article, but basically we all agreed that we would play no Rare or Mythic Rare cards in our decks, but we could play commons and uncommon from any set. This really challenges you because many of the most potent spells that we all like to play are Rares or Mythics, so to force ourselves to play commons and uncommon is healthy and refreshing, and usually evens out the power level of the various decks. Yes, this format is usually called Peasant, but that just sounds dull, so we opted to call it “Hobo” and the name has stuck.
My inspiration for the deck came from watching the coverage of the MTGO championships a couple of weeks ago where I saw a Standard take on a “dredge” style deck. The deck exploited the power of cards in the graveyard to deal some pretty healthy amounts of damage and looked pretty exciting, so I sat down to see if I could create something similar for Hobo night.
I started with the auto include cards for this sort of deck, namely Satyr Wayfinder and Grisly Salvage. These cards allow me to start to burn through the top of my library to find land or creatures and fills up my graveyard to be used at a later time. These are the “raison d`être” for this deck and need to be there in suitable quantities to fill up your yard, but more importantly ensure you never lack for land so that you can chain together powerful spells as the game moves along.
The next creature that is an automatic in this sort of deck, particularly in a Hobo variant, is Nemesis of Mortals. The 5/5 for 6 mana sees the cost to cast him reduced by 1 colourless for every creature in your graveyard. As a result, you could be casting this guy for much less than the 6 mana in the casting cost without much trouble. However, Nemesis of Mortals gets better from there because his Monstrosity 5 ability gets reduced in cost by 1 colourless for each creature in your graveyard. This guy can very easily get silly big for a bargain basement price thanks to all the graveyard shenanigans in your deck and makes the prospect of going into combat very difficult because it is such a huge monster.
However, what happens when some of my key components end up in the graveyard because I’ve put them there myself? There are a number of ways to return lost creatures to your hand and have them be available to you again. Now, I will be honest, this isn’t the same dropping them onto the battlefield and cheating big fatties into play because you still need to cast the spells again, however it does ensure that you have access to the creatures and a chance to re-use them, which is very helpful. Pharika’s Mender, Odunos River trawler, and other “Raise Dead” effect cards allow you to get your most potent threats back again and force your opponent to burn more removal spells on things that just don’t stay dead.
The final piece is the plethora of Bestow creatures that this deck packs. Bestow has proven to be a very valuable ability in Limited formats, and once again this is a form of limited format. Baleful Eidolon and Nyxborn Wolf can come down early as blockers to plug up the ground and play solid D to get us through to the point where our bigger bombs can take over. Nyxborn Wolf, at 3/1 can trade up to take out larger creatures, but the Eidolon can shut down attacking by virtue of the Deathtouch ability. Once they have served their purpose they can then be brought out of the yard and used to Voltron up another threat and really do some work.
Here’s the deck list.
Hobo – G/B “reanimator”
So, people will point out that this decklist isn’t Standard and my response is, you’re 100 percent correct. However, without much trouble you could make this Standard playable. A few minor adjustments like replacing Sign in Blood for Read the Bones would be the first switch. I could absolutely replace the Disentomb, and Raise Dead with Treasured Finds. So without breaking the spirit of the Hobo deck I could make some adjustments and make it completely Standard Legal, but sifting through my boxes I came across these cards and they did the job just as well and for less mana. It can also be ramped right up to match the Standard “Dredge” decks running around these days making this a decent skeleton upon which to build a more robust Standard deck.
The next deck is entirely Casual based on one of recurring theme in Theros block on Kraken, Octopuses, and other sea creatures. Whelming Wave was given to us in Born of the Gods, and now with the spoilers from Journey into Nyx we have Scourge of Fleets. With these two sweeper effects in Blue’s arsenal the possibility exists for a viable Kraken/Control deck. Don’t believe me? Check this out.
Mono-Blue Kraken Control
The idea behind this deck revolves around the interaction between Archaeomancer and Mnemonic wall and Whelming Wave. When you hit turn 4 you are banking that you have Whelming Wave in your hand and return all creatures that aren’t Kraken, Leviathans, Octopuses or Serpents to their owners hands. Then on turn 5, cast your Archaeomancer or Mnemonic wall, buy back your Whelming Wave and restart the cycle. You will continue to cast the wave and buy it back with the Archaeomancer/ Menmonic Wall interaction as you stall looking for one of your bigger Sea critters. So, hit the Sealock monster and when you wash away your opponent’s creatures Sealock Monster stays and can now attack into a open board. If you get stuck, Sea God’s Revenge approximates the same effect as you wait to piece together the combination and the dissolves are there to protect your creatures, should things get ugly. Scourge of Fleets is another possible sweeper condition that comes with a huge body and is asymmetrical in design, so he’s sort of like Plan C if you need to go down that road. The last pieces of this deck, the Hypnotic Siren and the Voyage’s End are to play some early interference as you set up your board.
Now, you may have missed it, but I stated that this was a Casual deck list. There is no way I’d even attempt to play a Tier 1 Standard deck with this list, but the hilarious interactions between Archaeomancer and the Whelming Wave are well worth the risk. I can’t wait to see the face of my opponent when I repeatedly wash away his stuff as I stall…and then swim across the table with my Sealock Monster and crush him. That would be priceless. It would certainly be entertaining and very flavourful with all that we have seen from Standard.
So, there you have it. Some fun deck ideas that are flavourful, relatively inexpensive, and fun to play. By all means, give them a try and see what think. The Hobo Dredge deck might be really good for a player who isn’t convinced playing B/G Dredge is for them, but once they get the hang of it with this less high octane model might be willing to speed matters up and go play with the big boys of Standard. The Wave deck is just funny and I can’t wait to put it together.
If you have other ideas or more fun ideas for funky decks I would love to hear about them. I`m always working on some new deck ideas that could make playing at my Kitchen table fun, entertaining, and fresh.
As always Keep it fun, Keep it safe…keep it casual. Until next time!