Tag: sea-gods-revenge

Bruce Gray - July 30, 2014

UWR American Bulk [Budget standard decks]

Daxos of Meletis - UWR American Bulk rares [Budget standard decks]

UWR American Bulk rares [Budget standard decks]

 by Bruce Gray – Casual Encouters

Here’s a situation we all face in this game.  Magic is a collectible card game.  As such, you are always collecting the cards and looking for the next card you want and need to add to your collection. Some of those cards you want for a new deck, others you want because of the cool art, or because they are foils, and other cards are just cool to collect.  Along the way you accumulate all sorts of other cards.  Many of these cards are commons and uncommons that seem to multiply in short order. Others are chase rare cards that you REALLY want to add to your collection.  Others are still rare, but aren’t very good…in fact, many of them are terrible.  These are called Bulk rares.  They are called “Bulk” because you can find them in the “bulk” bin at your LGS (Local Game Shop) and just sitting there doing nothing.


What to do with these bulk rares?  For many they sit in a binder and just…be.  They don’t get played.  They hardly get LOOKED at.  They just sit in their sleeve.  No one will actually trade for them.  Few stores will take them off your hands with their buylist.  No…these are truly cast away cards.  Even commons get more of a lease on life with Pauper formats.  However, Bulk rares just sit and do NOTHING.


Well, this is where I come along.  I’m always looking for some way to brew up a new deck without costing myself much in the way of money.  Let’s be real here…I have BOXES of stuff that I’m not playing.  That’s thousands of cards that are just sitting there and not getting played.  Surely, somewhere in amongst all those cards there are 60 cards that I can eke out into a deck.  Well, today I think I’ve managed to make it work…and surprise…I think I even found a way to slide in a couple of M15 beauties.  I call this Casual Masterpiece…American Bulk (rares)…BEHOLD!


American Bulk [Budget Standard decks]



This deck is actually very simple in terms of game plan.  Play a dude…suit him up with Bestow creatures.  Smash.  There are some of the best Bestow creatures in Hopeful Eidolon, Everflame Eidolon, Ghostbalde Eidolon and Thassa’s and Purphoros’s Emissaries that can all make combat just miserable.  Fencing Ace is another unheralded critter with Double-strike that can just make an opponent cry if he gets suited up.  The Ordeals have long been good, and Purphoros’s ordeal is a perfect fit. No, generally the game plan is very straight forward and not unlike the plan from many a Draft deck, however, mix in some bulk rares for variety’s sake and we can make for a spicy game with some interesting twists and turns.


The first piece of wonky deck-tech is Daxos.  This guy is so close to being good…he can let you play your opponents cards, has a form of quasi evasion and a 2/2 for 3 mana is just a shade under the curve meaning he’s playable…sort of…but just not quite. However, suit him up with a Bestow creature and suddenly he becomes far more interesting and more of a nuisance.  He can outclass 2 drops meaning your opponent will need to block with multiple creatures (which always feels bad) or have you start nabbing stuff off the top of their deck.  Perhaps it says something about the sort of player I am, but I really, really, REALLY enjoy beating up my opponent with their own creatures and spells.


The second piece of truly bizarre deck choice is Fated Retribution.  7 mana board wipes are completely unplayable in 60 card decks right?  Well, I for one am willing to give this one another lease of life.  It’s actually a very powerful spell, and at Instant speed could really be back breaking. I’m willing to give this a try and see whether or not it can cut it.


Perplexing Chimera is another odd choice, but there’s no mistaking that the ability to switch owners of a spell is intriguing and the fact that it sits there as a threat, waiting to de-rail a spell is enough for me.  I think this is a very funny card and really can shake things up as your opponent attempts to play around it.


Silent Sentinel is yet another odd choice but when you consider the context of the deck it quickly becomes apparent why he’s in this little build.  Whenever he attacks you get to return an enchantment from your graveyard to your hand.  This is quite a powerful ability when the bulk of the creatures in the deck are enchantment creatures.   A 4/6 flier is also pretty handy even though he’s a greedy mana sync, but as a one of is quite reasonable.


Boonweaver Giant and Spectra Ward are my latest discoveries.  This pair from M15 just scream “PUT ME IN AN ENCHANTMENT DECK!”.  So I did.  The absolute best part about this combo is that if you cast Boonweaver Giant you can tutor up Spectra Ward from almost ANYWHERE! Graveyard? Sure thing. How about in my hand? No Sweat! What about in my library?  Go nuts! Then, once you get Boonweaver all paired up with Spectra Ward you have a 6/6 creature with protection from basically everything.  It’s actually gross. Now people say “but it costs 7 mana!”…and I simply respond “it sure does…but when I’m digging up a 5 mana aura to attach to it, it’s like I’m casting 12 mana worth of spells and really only spending 7.  That’s a bargain if I’ve ever heard one”.  Besides, there are very few things that actually outclass a 6/6 creature with protection from EVERYTHING, 7 mana or not.


The last piece of truly bizarre deck-tech is the choice to run Pyxis of Pandemonium.  This is usually a terrible card and something that you don’t really want to play…unless you’re simply using it as disruption to throw your opponent off their game plan.  Many decks are developed to play a certain way and with a large number of Scry abilities want to set up their draw steps very carefully to maximize each and every time they draw.  However, slide this card into your deck and just start screwing with their scrying and exile the top card of their library.  You have no idea what you just exiled from their deck, but I bet they probably wanted it.  As for this deck, with 28 permanents and 24 lands you don’t really care what gets exiled because when you sacrifice the Pyxis you’re reasonably assured to get most of it back.  Besides, you’re playing a souped up draft deck with some bulk rares…who CARES what you exile…it can likely be replaced by something.  I just think this card makes for a hilarious random game and just puts such a monkey wrench in the game plan of so many decks that I just need to find it a slot.


How does this deck fair?  Well, as it is fairly experimental I haven’t had a chance to play it against too many people.  I had one of my friends stop by to play one evening and the deck fared very well.  The life gain that can be achieved by Bestowing a Hopeful Eidolon on something can really push a game and make it very difficult to dispatch this deck.  Attach the Eidolon to something with Double Strike and things get even better.  Also, the flexibility of having Bestow creatures actually lowers the curve where you can get out and play a number of smaller threats early and then later in the game, as you draw others, allows you to suit up one as you ready for the kill. Sea God’s Revenge is just a blow out waiting to happen and Voyage’s End is just a very versatile way of holding off an aggressive opponent.  Is it a finely polished deck ready to take down a PTQ?  No way…but as a cheap and fun casual brew I think it fits the bill and can do some funny things to keep things interesting.


Well, there we have yet another funny Casual Brew for you to test out at home.  Give it a whirl…I’d love to know if you have the same success I’ve had.  Also, go ahead and flip through that binder and see if there are any bulk rares you can use to spice up a deck.  No one said that every deck you make HAS to be tier 1 competitive ready…sometimes brewing fun Casual decks like this can be just as fun.


Well thanks for reading and until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.


by Bruce Gray – Casual Encouters


Bruce Gray - July 6, 2014

Crack a pack MTG Theros with Bruce

Crack a pack MTG- Theros Boosters

Crack a pack MTG Theros

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.


Here are the commons:









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.


First pick

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.


Top 5 picks


  1. Stoneshock Giant
  2. Colossus of Akros
  3. Gods Willing
  4. Pharika’s Cure
  5. Nessian Courser


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


Bruce Gray - April 21, 2014

Casual Encounters- Kraken new deck ideals for Journey into Nyx –...


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!

Bruce Gray