Tag: sakura-tribe-elder

Bruce Gray - July 22, 2014

Crack a pack MTG Conspiracy with Bruce

Conspiracy - Crack a pack MTG

Crack a pack MTG Conspiracy with Bruce

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Welcome back to another Crack a Pack with Bruce.  Over the last couple of weeks we’ve cracked a pack from each of the three sets of Theros block and had some interesting selections.  However, M15 is still a week away before it becomes the draft format of choice leaving us with a weird one week window where we just aren’t sure what to open.  Well, now is a perfect time to open up a pack of Conspiracy to check it out and see what I would pick. I’ll be honest, I haven’t had a chance to actually play Conspiracy yet but it seems super sweet and I want to have a look at some of the cards in the set.  Let’s check out what we’ve got.









Having not cracked a lot of packs of Conspiracy but being relatively familiar with the set, this feels like a bit of an average pack…and that’s just fine.  There are plenty of interesting choices to consider and some very solid and playable cards in this pack.  The first thing that I notice is that this pack is LOADED with good removal.  If this is the average pack then creatures don’t stand a snowflake’s chance in Hell of living for long…but perhaps in a multiplayer game you end up burning out your removal early and creatures stick around.  Let’s look at what catches my eye.


The rare is Decimate and this is spicy.  For 4 mana you get to destroy an artifact, a creature, an enchantment, and a land.  That works out to 1 mana per target, which is pretty good bang for your buck.  Also, the fact that it can target different thing means you could get something from each of your opponents.  Here’s where the strategy sets in: if you hit each of the other 3 players with this I can assure you that you will have 3 players battering down your defences in short order and leaving you on the side of the road in bloody heap (proverbially speaking).  No, this card is almost best used to set 1 opponent back as far as you can get them and then leave them to be picked over by the other players.  This is a very solid selection and something that I like.  I also usually like playing some sort of Green deck, so this would suit me just fine.


The next card that grabs my attention is Volcanic Fallout.  3 mana gets you an Instant that can’t be countered and deals 2 damage to each creature and player.  This is a mini sweeper that can’t be countered.  The ability to not be countered is actually pretty huge, but I expect that to actually be something for Legacy burn decks more than this format…but you never know.  The 2 damage to all creatures is pretty vital and can clear the board of those pesky “bears” quickly.  I really like this card as it feels powerful and very solid.


Next we have Tragic Slip.  This was a premium removal spell in Innistrad and absolutely nothing has changed.  1 mana to give something -1/-1 is good, but that Morbid ability basically assures you that you’re killing something.  This is cheap, efficient removal and very solid.  Not flashy…but solid.


Next is another removal spell in Brimstone Volley, yet another piece of Instant removal that deals 3 damage to target creature or player for 3 mana.  Trigger the Morbid ability at it deals 5 damage.  Just like Tragic Slip you want to make the Morbid a thing when you go to cast it, but it is just straight up good removal.  Umm…for those keeping score at home…the first 4 cards I’ve looked at have all been a form of removal…just…you know…keep that in mind.


The next 2 cards both grab my attention for entirely different reasons.  Flamewright is 2 mana 1/1, which is a little on the weak side.  However, the ability to make 1/1 defender tokens and then sacrifice them to deal 1 damage seems strong.  The fact that this generates tokens means you could get some incremental advantage out of this guy.  The creature type seems all wrong because Human Artificers should be Blue and not W/R, but I’m not one to quibble.  Liliana’s Specter also grabs my attention for the ability to force EACH opponent to discard.  That’s big and nets you a sizeable card advantage.  You play 1 card and your opponents collectively lose 3.  This likely means that you’re going to take the beats as they are all slightly upset with you, but the 2/1 creature is unlikely to truly scare any of them meaning they should quickly get over you.


Lurking Automaton is an interesting card, but he isn’t an early pick in this pack because of the ability.  He’s a real bomb in the middle of the pack when 5 or 6 cards have already been picked, so if you see him early, be mindful that someone further down the line is going to grab him and put him to good use.


Galvanic Juggernaut seems like a pretty solid 5/5 for 4 mana, but I’m not a fan of the conditions imposed on him.  Attacking each turn isn’t a big deal, but the staying tapped feels like it could be an issue. Maybe there will be lots of things dying and I get to untap him, but that feels a little risky which pushes him down the pick order.


Sakura-Tribe Elder is nice little piece to help with your ramp and will get some consideration in the mid-rounds.


Enclave Elite is interesting because of the Multi-kicker and the Islandwalk.  2/2 for 3 mana is solid and pump a little more into him and you may have a pretty solid creature to take out a player with the Islandwalk ability.  It isn’t flashy and other players with Islands may not be too appreciative, but it feels like a solid card in the Mid-rounds as well.


Compulsive Research is the Divination of this set and is actually a little bit better. Divination simply draws you 2 cards.  That’s nice.  However, for the same price, Compulsive research allows you to dig 3 cards down and then evaluate what you need.  Can you afford to pitch a land? If you so, late in the game, you might be able to grab all three 3 cards and really work to find that answer.  It’s an intriguing card, but like Divination in most sets, it’s a mid round pick at best.


Guardian of Zendikon seems interesting in that it enchants a land and makes it 2/6 defender.  When the land dies you get it back.  I’m hardly excited, but in the late rounds this would an interesting choice.


Pillarfield Ox is a vanilla 2/4 for 4 mana. He’s a body I guess.


Plated Seastrider is 2 blue for 1/4 vanilla critter. I’d probably pick this ahead of the Ox because it is cheaper, but they are both pretty lacklustre.


Power of Fire is just bad and will almost assuredly be the last card picked out this pack.


Top 5 cards


  1. Decimate
  2. Volcanic Fallout
  3. Tragic Slip
  4. Brimstone Volley
  5. Flamewright & Liliana’s Specter (Tie)


First Pick


I would seriously be considering just 2 cards in this pack.  I’d be looking at Decimate or Volcanic Fallout.  The Fallout is neat because I like the board sweeper effect and that it can’t be countered.  However, the potential upside to just blow an opponent out with Decimate is just too appealing.  I want…no…need to see the look on the face of the opponent (or opponents) when I cast this and blow up a bunch of their stuff.  It would be awesome!  Also effectively spending 1 mana for each of those 4 targets is very appealing and very economical for the amount of mana spent to cast it.


Both of these picks are a tad risky and the much safer play would be to take sure fire targeted removal like the Tragic Slip and Brimstone Volley.  However, remember what this set is.  It is a fun casual set that is full of shenanigans and I want to get right into the mix of things. As a result, I’m going to grab the Decimate and go down the rabbit hole to “Magical Christmas Land” trying to blow up a ton of stuff.


Well, there we have it…another week…another Crack a Pack.  I really enjoyed this pack and it left for TONS of interesting things to consider.  There would be very few cards in this pack that I wouldn’t be excited to pull and play.  I can’t say that about every set.  I can hardly wait for my chance to sit down and test this little set out and see what it is like to play.  It seems super diverse and plenty of fun.

What would you guys have picked?  Would you have gone with the Decimate too?  Volcanic Fallout?  Sure bets like the Slip and Volley?  Something else all together?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Send me a tweet and let me know what you think!


Thanks for reading. Next week we’ll have a pack of M15 for sure and bust it open to see what we can find.  Until then, may you crack nothing of mythic bombs!


Bruce Gray
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - May 13, 2014

Scapeshift modern by Jun Young Park (1st at GP Minneapolis on May 11th...

Champion’s Deck

Scapeshift Modern

Scapeshift Modern by Jun Young Park

1st place at GP Minneapolis Modern on May 11th 2014

Long has the tyranny of the awesome volcano Valakut reigned as a brutal strategy to incinerate opponents to ashes. This deck originally reared its ugly head in Standard using Primeval Titan to power out your Mountains to a quick and decisive victory. But once the Modern format was born the interaction between Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Scapeshift was too powerful to not be abused. There have been other variants of this deck as well which have used Prismatic Omen and Wargate to turn all your lands into Mountains but this straightforward style relying upon countermagic to control the game into a surprise combo finish is what has been most successful.

So the game plan of this deck is to burn your opponent to death using multiple triggers from Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle with Mountains entering the battlefield. Valakut will trigger for three points of damage whenever a Mountain enters as long as there are five other Mountains already in play. And in Modern with the fetch/shock manabase that most decks are using this means that six triggers will often be enough to blast the opponent to bits. With Scapeshift you are able to combo out those triggers in one big shot by sacrificing any seven lands to it and searching your deck for a copy of Valakut and six Mountain cards, shocklands count as they are subtype Mountain, for a big finish. Now one of the golden rules of Magic is that you can play but one land per turn which when you are attempting to combo finish with seven or more lands in play can be a devastating restriction. So in order to skirt this restriction we have ways to search out more lands and put them directly into play with the decks main turn one play of Search for Tomorrow which can be suspended for just one mana and also perennial chump blocker Sakura-Tribe Elder which can often act as blocker to soak some damage then after it is declared as a blocker can still sacrifice itself to go and find a land to put into play. To ensure that you are going to hit your land drop each turn the deck has Serum Visions and Telling Time to dig through your deck, and also Electrolyze which does have damage attached to it as well but is used mostly for more draw. In fact, almost every spell in the deck has some sort of drawing effect attached to it and a solo Halimar Depths in the manabase will also help set up you next critical draw steps. The other huge facet of the deck is that it runs a very strong permission package with Remand, Cryptic Command and Izzet Charm to assure that even if it starts to stall that it won’t be falling behind and gets to continue digging with more draws. The removal is small but headed by Repeal which can get rid of any problem permanent such as the variety of hate bears that will thwart your plans, but also Charm, Cryptic and Electrolyze double themselves as additional removal. Finally we get to the last piece in this puzzle with Snapcaster Mage which is able to rebuy any of your spells in the graveyard especially a surprise counter when you need it most, and is also able to beatdown some life points if that’s what is necessary.

While the deck was said to be well positioned in the field due to the high concentration of Birthing Pod decks which it is a good match up for it I’m sure we will not see any major shift in the meta to specifically combat it. It is a very powerful but all in strategy which is rewarding only if you are able to master the Math of the Mountains. The decklist is very tight and the number of Mountains very specific where you need to be always wary of how many remain in your deck and how many you need to kill your opponent. But if you are a fan of Combo decks then this is definitely a deck that you should try. I guarantee that the results will not disappoint you, but remember to practice, practice, practice.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - March 13, 2014

Deck of the Day – Scapeshift by Andrew Calderon (13th at Grand P...



Andrew Calderon

13th Place at Grand Prix on 3/9/2014

As is the case with many decks in Modern the basis for the original design was found in Standard which was adapted and improved upon by the cards available in the expanded pool. This one is no different and comes from a very powerful deck which was known as Valakut. The basic premise of the deck revolves simply around the land Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and its interaction with Mountains which can turn a Mountain entering the battlefield into an uncounterable Lightning Bolt. The original design of the deck in Standard used Khalni Heart Expedition and Primeval Titan as was to get Mountains into play faster but Modern had a very different way to combo for the kill…Scapeshift. Once you have achieved a critical mass of lands in play you are able to use Scapeshift to sacrifice all your lands to search for either one or two Valakut and usually six or seven Mountain in order to kill your opponent on the spot.

There are a few pieces to the puzzle to help get lands into play ahead of schedule in the form of Sakura-Tribe Elder, Search for Tomorrow and two Explore. Since you need the lands in play for Scapeshift to do its magic these cards are critical and opening turns will often go turn 1 Suspend Search into turn 2 Elder which basically advances your combo by two turns. With Blue in the deck and a combo finish that needs protection we find a permission suite that consists of Remand and Cryptic Command, the latter usually the reason the deck will float four mana when going for the kill. There is also the utility player Izzet Charm which can act either as additional counter, dig to draw into answers or combo pieces, or even a way to burn small pesky creatures especially hate bears. There’s also a pair of Lightning Bolt, an Electrolyze and an Anger of the Gods to help as removal or a small amount of reach if needed to finish them off. And that Electrolyze pairs up with Peer Through Depths as the draw power of the deck with Cryptic and Explore as well. And finally what has quietly become a format all-star Snapcaster Mage is able to rebuy any of the already cast instants or sorceries and even do a little beatdown himself to work your way towards victory.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter