Tag: swordwise-centaur

Avatar Bruce Gray - July 10, 2014

Crack a pack MTG Born of the Gods with Bruce

Crack a pack MTG -BNG Boosters


Crack a pack MTG Born of the Gods with Bruce

by Bruce Gray -Casual Encounters


This week I will be opening a pack of Born of the Gods  and go through the top five cards and the first pick from the pack if you were drafting.  This is a follow up to last week’s Theros pack and acts as a bit of bridge towards the full block Theros draft.  Let’s have a look and see what we’ve got.


















Once again we have a fairly mediocre pack just like last week. A good starting point is always the rare but in this pack we have an awful card to draft first.  Plea for Guidance is a lovely way to tutor up enchantments, but it is terrible as a first pick.  You have no idea what direction your deck will be headed, it costs 6 mana for a sorcery that simply tutors up enchantments, and has no impact on the board.  No, this is a terrible choice for first pick, so we need to go deeper into this pack for some other things.


Once I’ve discounted the rare  (because it’s AWFUL) there are a few things that grab my attention. The first one is Siren of the Fanged Coast.  I always like playing blue and this gives you a very solid creature to start with.  It can either be a 4/4 flier (aka Air Elemental) or if your opponent is feeling particularly dense lets you take control of their creature.  In either case, this card is good and something that will a good long look to be first pick.


Everflame Eidolon is another good card because of the ridiculously aggressive cost of its Bestow ability.  Sure, it is 2 mana for a 1/1 with Firebreathing, but it Bestows for a very reasonable 3 mana.  If nothing else, using it as an aura is its intended purpose.  Don’t believe me?  Remember the Bestow costs in Theros?  Spearpoint Oread is a 2/2 for 3 mana and Bestows for 6. 6 mana! That’s huge! By comparison the Everflame Eidolon is HALF of that, gives your creature +1/+1 AND firebreathing. In draft, aggressive red decks love this guy and abuse him all day long.


Swordwise Centaur is another reasonable choice for first pick.  A 3/2 for 2 mana is solid and this just does work.  He’s gets down early, applies early pressure, and if you end up playing the devotion game is a solid devotion engine too.  The lack of other relevant abilities probably means that this guy isn’t picked first, but if you have your heart set on green you’ll give him a long hard look.


Pheres Band Tromper is another solid green card giving this pack two very good green cards.  3/3 for 4 mana is a good sized body and isn’t over priced, but the Inspired trigger to make it bigger is super relevant and makes this a very strong card.  Let’s be real…if you’re the type of player who likes to play green you love to turn creatures sideways and smash.  The Tromper rewards you handsomely for doing that and in the process makes you and even BIGGER beat stick.


The last card of real interest in this pack is Loyal Pegasus.  A 2/1 for 1 and has flying is always of interest, even with the drawback.  I would be less likely to get super excited for the Pegasus, but there are always people who want to force the aggro train and will jump on this as the entry point to an aggressive White based deck.


The other cards in this pack are very lacklustre. Stormcaller of Keranos is interesting for the repeatable scry effect, but a 2/2 for 3 with haste doesn’t really excite me.  Griffin dreamfinder is another reasonable card, but a 5 drop that is a 1/4 hardly scares anyone.  I’ve said as much before but Felhide brawler is a pretty poor “Grizzly Bear”.  A 2/2 for with a drawback makes this quite undesirable unless you are the B/R Minotaur deck. Crypsis, I suppose, could be a fun little combat trick, I would hardly take this early in the draft because I’m sure I’ll see several copies in the later rounds. Eye Gouge could be a perfectly reasonable choice because it kills a number of important creatures from Vaporkin, to Soldier of the Pantheon, to Sigiled Skink and Sedge Scorpion.  If you can nab a Cyclops with it, all the better. Grisly Transformation and Evanescent Intellect are both lacklustre auras that should be avoided in most cases.  Finally, Culling Mark is just a bad card and not worth wasting a selection…it will be the card forced at the end of the round.


So, top five cards we have in this pack:


  1. Everflame Eidolon
  2. Siren of the Fanged Coast
  3. Pheres Band Tromper
  4. Swordwise Centaur
  5. Loyal Pegasus


First pick:


Really, there are only 2 cards worth considering as a FIRST pick.  The others on this list are nice cards and can play big roles in a number of decks, but really only Siren of the Fanged Coast and Everflame Eidolon would be serious contenders to be first picked.  The Siren is unfortunately a Tribute card, meaning you could find yourself taking control of your opponent’s Nyxborn Rollicker or other innocuous creature instead of getting a 4/4 flier, but in most cases you’ll be getting a 4/4 flier which is pretty strong.  The Eidolon isn’t as powerful by itself, but the pretty inexpensive Bestow makes something else pretty frightening…particularly because if you can slap it on a Heroic creature, well, you’re off to the races.  At the end, the fact that the Siren is most consistently a 4/4 flier, and you aren’t looking to attach it to something like the Eidolon, makes the Siren a better choice and my pick for 1st pick in this pack.


Well, there we have it…our Crack a Pack for Born of the Gods all primed up for you.  I hope you enjoyed reading.  Next week we’ll crack a Journey into Nyx pack just before we start looking at M15 pack.  Until next week, take care and may you open many Mythic Bombs.


Bruce Gray -Casual Encounters
Avatar Bruce Gray - June 13, 2014

Casual Encounters – Deep Thoughts on…Drafting JBT

Drafting JBT

So, I got my first up close and personal look at full Theros Block Draft and I have to say I enjoyed the experience.  The format has good flexibility and variance making for a wide variety of decks and lots of interesting choices.  Today I’ll share some of my thoughts on the format and recap my draft…hopefully some of you don’t make the same mistakes that I made.

First off, I ended up playing Junk (G/W/B) which is pretty unusual for a draft deck.  Most players would opt to play 2 colours and perhaps splash a third colour, but I ended up playing a full suite of all three colours.  In the Journey into Nyx pack I was looking through and had a rare of Revel of the Fallen God…which is a funny card but it is ambitious to cast and tough to get in to because it is 2 colours to cast.  However, in the same pack there was a Banishing LightBanishing Light is premium removal in White in both Standard and Limited, so this was an easy pick and set me up to go into white.

My second pick had a variety of interesting cards but the Golden Hind looked like an easy second pick and had me going into White and Green.  Normally this is a colour combination that I’m very comfortable with and really felt at ease with being set up in those 2 colours.  With a pick 3 Ravenous Leucrocota I was well on my way to W/G beat down deck I would be expecting myself to play.  However pick four is where things got off the rails.

Pick 4 had me looking at a pack that had no green cards of any sort and poor white cards, so it would appear as if I was being cut off from my colours (or is was a lousy pack) but I was looking at a Brain Maggot.  Now, I thought to myself, Brain Maggot is a pretty solid card…and with both of my other colours seemingly closed off, Black might be an option.  So, Brain Maggot was the pick, opening the door a crack to play Black.

Pick 5 was another Ravenous Leucrocota and I was back on W/G.  However, again, pick 6 I was out of luck in either of my colours, but looking at a pack with a Spiteful Blow.  Normally I don’t get excited for 6 mana removal spells, but in a draft where removal is a tad tough to come by, the fact that this destroys a creature AND a land made it easily the best pick…and at pick 6 was a pretty good sign Black was open.  So, Spiteful Blow and my thought process was very seriously to play either W/B or G/B and abandon the W/G deck idea.

Well, Born of the Gods opened up and my first pack had Tromokratis which was far from ideal as I hadn’t picked a single Blue Card yet.  However, Bile Blight was looking at me and I made sure to grab it.  Passed my pack…and picked up the next one…which also had a Bile Blight! Ok, so now I was very seriously playing Black…I had perhaps two of the best removal spells back to back and to not play them would be foolhardy.  With the next couple of picks I grabbed a couple of green creatures like Nyxborn Wolf, Phere-Band Tromper, and Swordwise Centaur and was really and truly looking to play G/B.

Well the plan totally changed again with Theros when I got passed a pack early in the round and was looking at Scholar of Athreos and a bunch of White, Blue, and Red cards…and nothing in my other two colours.  I wondered if I was being cut off again because someone down the table had decided to jump colours too! I was unimpressed.  Scholar is an awesome card in a B/W deck…but I committed to playing G/B…unless I was prepared to play all three colours or basically toss this pick.  I grabbed the Scholar. I was rewarded with a second one in the next pack too.  Oh boy. Now I was in a pickle. So, more or less I spent the rest of the Theros round grabbing utility creatures in White like Leonin Snarecaster, Hopeful Eidolon and an Ordeal of Heliod.  I also lucked in to a Sip of Hemlock but most of the rest was just filler and not very good.

So, here’s my Draft deck

Junk (G/W/B)

Now, my first thoughts when I finished building this deck from my picks was ” wow…am I GREEDY! ”  Almost every draft deck I have ever seen built, that is any good, is two colours and MAYBE splashes a third.  I was full on running three colours…and had virtually no mana fixing.  On top of that, I pushed the envelope and played 24 spells and 16 land instead of the more traditional 23 and 17.  I was clearly pushing my luck.  I kept telling myself I had plenty of removal…all I had to do was hold down the board long enough to get to 4 land (and have all three colours) and I was golden because my highest casting cost on a creature was 4.

Well, I went 2-1…which is normally a pretty decent record…but that one loss left me somewhat frustrated because I played my way to that loss more than I got beat by my opponent.  We went the full three games and he won game 1, I won game 2, and then he took game 3…but it was the loss in game 1 that left me bummed.  The exchange that left turned the game in his favour was one where I attacked with a Ravenous Leucrocota into his 2 creatures that combined had enough power to kill Ravenous Leucrocota.  I didn’t expect him to team block, but he did.  But all was not lost…I had Bile Blight in my hand and 2 open black mana.  However, I got greedy…again.  I opted not to pull the trigger on the Bile Blight on one of his creatures (voyaging Satyr I think) in favour of trying to get a better target with it later. So, my leucrocota died, so did his Satyr…and that left him with a creature and me with an open board.  Next turn he Bestowed Nylea’s Emissary on his dude and the beat down was on. That HUGE misplay cost me the game and a chance to go 3-0.  I’m not going to say I would have won for sure, but my odds would have been at least even if not better…but instead I had to swallow a loss due to some poor play.  All in all, it was a pretty successful draft and had a blast and can hardly wait for my next one to try and rectify those playing mistakes.

Other Ramdom Thoughts:

Ravenous Leucrocota- In my review of Journey Into Nyx  I reviewed Ravenous Leucrocota favourably and compared it to Nessian Asp, a bomb in triple Theros draft. Well, Ravenous Leucrocota might be better than the Asp.  The difference is the Vigilance.  Once this thing goes Monstrous and is 5/7 it is house!  It can attack and defend, and if you can Bestow it with anything it is HUGE and really hard to manage.

Brain Maggot grossly over performed for me.  The ability to strip your opponent of a key card early in the game is extremely valuable and if that allows you to get out in front and force them to expend resources on other things, well, you are in luck. I have to admit, I also under rated this card in my review.

Leonin Snarecaster and Deathbringer Lampads both played similar roles in the deck, namely provide a form of evasion for some of my bigger creatures to exploit.  The snarecaster would tap down pesky blockers and the Lampads just let something sneak in for extra damage and allow me to get into the red zone.  These were both surprisingly useful.  Especially the Lampads. I was skeptical at first but I have changed my tune.

Consign to dust vs. Fade into Antiquity.  I had the option of running either one of these and opted for the Consign to Dust.  I liked the option of the Strive mechanic despite the fact that I feel that it, in most situations isn’t all that relevant.  Fade can be excellent with the exile ability instead of Destroy, but unless you are facing down a god, the ability to hit multiple targets is key.

Normally I really like Blue, but I really got the sense from the packs going around the table that Blue is pretty weak in this format.  Unless no one else is drafting Blue you are usually scrambling to find playable cards.  Most of the players who were drafting Blue in my pod really struggled and couldn’t dig up enough answers to stay in the game for long.  The one exception was the guy in G/U because he was able to back his blue up with the Green muscle he needed.

A good friend of mine in the military, Major Observation, told me that Bile Blight and Banishing Light are REALLY good removal…and of course he was right.

As much as I hate 6 mana removal, I had never been so happy to see that 6th land show up and then be able to cast Sip of Hemlock.  That Hemlock never tasted so good and putting the final nail in the coffin of your opponent.

Fellhide Brawler largely stinks.  He’s a bad Grizzly BearMogis Marauder isn’t far behind.

White Cheddar popcorn is outstandingly tasty.  Every time I have it I am surprised at how good it is. Why don’t I ever pick any of this stuff up on my own?

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today.  If you have thoughts or experiences you want to share about your Drafting JBT, go ahead, let me know.  I’d love to hear about them.  Fire me a Tweet and tell me your tale or share your wisdom.

Thanks for reading and until next time Keep it fun, Keep it safe…Keep it casual.


Bruce Gray



Avatar Bruce Gray - April 11, 2014

Casual Encounters – Mono-Green Stompy (Budget Standard)

Arbor Colossus

One of my favorite types of decks is full of big, green, stompy creatures.  They have always been a thing, right from the days of War Mammoth and Craw Wurm right up to today.  Other archetypes have changed enormously but the contents of the Mono-Green deck is basically unchanging…lots and lots of creatures. So, with everyone’s favorite creature heavy archetype in mind I thought I would take a moment and share with all of you my version of a Budget Mono-Green deck that is fun to play and ridiculously inexpensive to build.

Mono-Green decks are sort of like a big piece of artillery that everyone can see.  You know that once the cannon fires, if it hits ANYTHING, it is game over, and there really isn’t much you can do about it.  So, you can watch the Mono-Green deck load up and cast ramping spells and creatures and all you’re hoping is that you can disrupt the canon just enough so perhaps it mis-fires, or you can dodge the bullet.  If you can’t shut the deck down it is just a matter of time before some hulking Green beast crushes you underfoot leaving you wondering what freight train just ran you over.

I’ve seen a number of iterations of Mono-Green stompy decks since the release of Theros and while I’m impressed I’m not satisfied.  I want MORE. I want BIGGER! I WANT MORE DAMAGE! And Born of the Gods gives me the perfect tool to drop wild amounts of damage on my opponent and to push mono-green from good to ridiculous. Here’s how.

In the past, Mono-green has been afflicted by the reality that usually big creatures are expensive. So, Green mages have developed all sorts of ways to ramp out lots of mana and then cast their giant fatties.  However, in today’s Standard environment green creatures are leaner and meaner than ever before but can still pack a mighty punch making Mono-Green really and truly something viable and fun.  I’ll go through some of the all stars I’ve picked out for my deck and why you should consider playing them in your Mono-Green deck.

Voyaging Satyr– Is there a better, inexpensive Mana dork than this guy?  Probably not.  He’s just good, and super readily available as an inexpensive creature.  Add in that he isn’t a 1/1 but a 1/2 and suddenly he has a little more upside as well.  This deck needs 4.

Swordwise Centaur– He is solid as a 3/2 for 2 green mana …and a devotion engine in this deck.  While I won’t call this a devotion deck, there are times when this is a useful attribute and well worth the time to put these guys in.  They start the beat down early and give you targets for some of your spells later in the game.  On a side note, you could just as easily play Kalonian Tusker as a 3/3 for 2 green, but I said this was a budget deck.  Sure, Tuskers are only $0.50 a card on Three King’s Loot, but Swordwise Centaur is $0.15…and you likely have a million thanks to any drafts you’ve played or packs you’ve cracked.  Save yourself the money and play the Centaur because you will rarely see any difference in terms of play.

Korozda Monitor– This 3/3 4 drop (2 Green, 2 Colourless) is the meat and potatoes of this deck.  He’s 3/3 and has trample, making him ideal for a Stompy deck of any sort.  Also, his scavenge ability is relevant because if your first one ends up in the yard, oh well, scavenge him onto something else (like another Monitor) and smash away.  With 2 green in his casting cost he is also a solid contributor to devotion.

Thrashing Mossdog– This handy 4 drop gives you a 3/3 with reach.  This is super relevant because this deck will struggle against decks that carry lots of fliers.  The reach can help settle down your defence, and again, when he dies, scavenge his on to a Korozda Monitor and have the 6/6 bring the pain.

Nylea’s Emissary– The 3rd 4 drop in the deck is essentially because he can grant something else you control trample, contributing to the Stompy nature of the deck. If you need him on the battlefield as a creature, that’s fine as well, but he’s exactly the sort of creature this deck wants.

The deck is running a playset of Forced Adaptations.  These can totally take your Korozda Monitor and turn him into an unstoppable beast very quickly and for 1 mana, who can go wrong.

However, the really spicy pieces are six cards that can only be described as back breaking.  The first is one out of the M14 Core set that was largely overlooked.  It isn’t flashy, but it just ends games.  Yup, you got it…Fireshrieker.  This seemingly innocuous 3 mana artifact gives something double strike.  Now, we all know that Double strike is powerful, but how powerful is it?  Trust me…on creatures with trample it straight up ends games…like…immediately.  So, a pair of Fireshriekers make the deck and give you an enormous ability to do damage.  The final 4 spells are from Born of the Gods and are one of the few spots where this deck actually cares about devotion.  Aspect of Hydra gets good reviews at Draft, so why not apply the same logic to constructed and put 4 in this deck?  It would mean that any creature with Trample would be able to do a devastating amount of damage and really turn the heat up on an opponent.

As a little demonstration let’s see what this deck can do.

Turn 1- Play Forest, pass the turn.

Turn 2- Play Forest, tap out, cast Swordwise Centaur.

Turn 3- Play Forest, tap out, cast Fireshrieker, Attack with Centaur.

Turn 4- Play Forest, tap out, Cast Korozda Monitor,

Turn 5- Play Forest, equip Fireshrieker on Monitor, cast Aspect of Hydra on Monitor, attack with the team. At this point The Monitor is 3/3 double striking and gets +4/+4 from the Aspect of Hydra…meaning he’s hitting for 14 points of trample damage.  That’s huge! And if the Centaur can sneak through as well it’s game over…or at the very least you are in the driver’s seat.  As always, this is against a goldfish with no responses, but the potential exists for this deck to deliver a wild amount of damage.

So, without further delay, here’s the deck list.


Mono-Green Stompy- Budget Standard

The nice piece with this deck is the cost to you in order to build.  Many budget decks put the threshold for overall cost at $2/card or maybe $50-75 for the whole deck.  This deck comes in at …under $20! Yup, for a crisp $20 dollar bill you to could be the proud owner of a ridiculously stompy mono green build.  However, this deck is like the old beat up Honda Civic you bought as a 17 year old kid…it’s straight forward, it works, and it gets the job done.  However, you could totally trick this deck out with some fun additions that will push your price tag up, but still keep it very affordable.

The first addition is a no-brainer…add in a couple of Arbor Colossus.  This gigantic 6/6 for 5 (2 colourless and 3 green) is an almost automatic include once you are prepared to open up your wallet and go a tad pricier.  He’s big, he kills fliers, he gets bigger when he’s monstrous, and is a huge devotion engine for your aspect of hydra.  He’s the first guy off the bench for sure.

Next, if you want to go a little further, is the Bow of Nylea.  This Swiss Army knife of an artifact does a little bit of everything with its various modes, but the real fun is giving everything you have deathtouch when you attack.  Who really wants to put something in front of a deathtouch creature?  Not me…so it makes combat super awkward and something most opponents will seriously re-evaluate.

The third addition is something that usually gets forgotten is Deadbridge Goliath.  He’s big at 5/5 for 4 and when he dies (as you likely hope that he does) you can scavenge his +5/+5 on to another creature giving you an instant WMD that will need to be answered.  Plus, he’s cheap to pick up because everyone has opted to play Poly (aka Polukranos) for the same 4 mana.

After that, the choices are up to you…do you want to play spells that draw you cards?  Hunter’s Prowess or Warriors’ Lessons are options.  How about just more damage?  Don’t forget Giant Growth. Want to kill things in the air? Plummet is always an option.  Are the Gods or other enchantments causing you grief?  Fade into Antiquity.  Need to kill a creature?  Pit fight or Time to Feed.  You can cover all the bases and the deck still doesn’t break the bank!

So, if you are looking for a very inexpensive deck to build and enter the realm of Standard, feel free to give this little guy a test drive and see what you think.  He’s fared pretty well for me in a number of match ups, and when your big fat stompy guy flattens an opponent the satisfaction is well worth it. So, give it a try and let me know how it goes for you and what changes you made to the deck…I’m always keen to hear how decks change and evolve.

So, until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

Bruce Gray