Tag: the-lord-of-the-rings

Mike Carrozza Mike Carrozza - March 16, 2023

A Seat at the Table – Tom Bombadil!

Hello and welcome to A Seat at the Table, the column where I pick a commander and talk about what I’d include in the 99. This week, a new card previewed for the upcoming The Lord of the Rings set coming out this summer – Tom Bombadil!

Disclaimer – I suspect with Jin-Gitaxias being spoiled, as well as Tom’s existence altogether, we’re going to be getting a whole lot more Sagas than we have now at the time of writing. So know that I’m going with the information I have at hand.

Let’s party.

For WUBRG, Tom Bombadil is a five-colour 4/4 Legendary Creature – God Bard with a textbox that has a lot of Saga lovers salivating. Here comes the textbox:

“As long as there are four or more lore counters among Sagas you control, Tom Bombadil has hexproof and indestructible.  

Whenever the final chapter ability of a Saga you control resolves, reveal cards from the top of  your library until you reveal a Saga card. Put that onto the battlefield and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. This ability triggers only once each turn.”  

Now you get why I’m talking about Sagas so much.

Here are things to remember:

  1. Tom will have Hexproof and Indestructible as long as you have four lore counters across your Sagas. If you have four Sagas, Tom will have Hexproof and Indestructible unless somehow there are none on it.
  2. Tom’s second ability triggers only once each turn and as the final chapter ability resolves. That means that if the final chapter ability triggers, even if you bounce the Saga to your hand, you will get Tom’s trigger.
  3. Sagas are weird. You only get the chapter ability from adding the corresponding lore counter. If you remove a counter, you don’t get that chapter’s ability (if I take a counter off and go from 2 to 1 I don’t get the 1’s ability).
  4. Sagas are weeeeird. Adding the counter happens in your draw step. The sacrifice of the Sagas is a state-based action, but if there’s an ability that goes on the stack, you can respond to it. If you have an instant speed way to respond to the final chapter and remove a counter,  you get to keep the Saga around to retrigger the final chapter.  

Let’s get into some cards.

  1. Hex Parasite and other instant counter removal tricks Power Conduit / Glissa Sunslayer

Taking counters off of your Sagas to stagger them from going off on different turns to maximize Tom Bombadil’s second ability is going to be a pretty popular way to approach this.

Glissa Sunslayer upon combat damage can restart some Sagas all the way. Power Conduit taps and removes a counter from anything you have to put counters elsewhere at instant speed. Thrull Parasite removes counters for tap and two life, but lets you extort every time you cast a spell. Not bad for one mana. Chisei, Heart of Oceans asks you to remove a counter from a permanent you control at your upkeep, which is before your draw step, which means that you get to retrigger a Saga chapter you like every turn while also including a card with the funkiest art in the game. Vampire Hexmage targets a single permanent to remove all counters, resetting any Saga you control or being able to neuter a +1/+1 counter heavy creature. Thief of Blood does the same but all at once. Got a huge board of Sagas? Reset them all.

My favourite is Hex Parasite. For XpB, you can remove X counters on target permanent. There’s no tap symbol. It’s not gated that way. You can pay two life instead of a black mana. It can be done at instant speed. It can be used to mess with your opponents. Hex Parasite is going to be a fun one to see.

  1. Instant Proliferate

How do you trigger your Sagas abilities? Get counters on them. Get to the final chapter and Tom triggers. How so you do that?

Proliferate. We’ve talked about Proliferate a lot lately, so I’ll make this section quick. Here’s a bunch of cards to keep an eye on for this deck!

Inexorable Tide, Atraxa Praetor’s Voice, Brokers Confluence, Cankerbloom, Contagion Clasp, Contagion Engine, Experimental Augury, Whisper of the Dross, Flux Channeler, Karn’s Bastion, Staff of Compleation, Tezzeret’s Gambit, Throne of Geth, Viral Drake, Volt Charge, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.

Ichormoon Gauntlet technically does not proliferate but it can get another lore counter on a Saga you control when you cast a noncreature spell.

  1. Good Sagas

As of writing this, there are 85 Sagas in Magic and I assume this includes Jin-Gitaxias as well. That’s a lot. We can afford to not run all the Sagas in the game, in fact, we shouldn’t run all of them.

Elspeth Conquers Death is a fantastic removal spell, stax piece, and it can reanimate something useful for you as it ends.

Binding the Old Gods is a fantastic removal spell and ramp.

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is amazing ramp, card selection, and then gives you a cool Kiki-Jiki-esque creature when it flips over.

Looping any of Kiora Bests the Sea God’s abilities can be backbreaking. The Kami War turns into a beefy beater after disrupting the board and your opponents’ hands. The Phasing of Zhalfir is a board wipe that can protect whatever you need. When you’ve got your engine set up without needing lands anymore, you can loop Fall of the Thran to Armageddon every time.

  1. Saga Support

Sagas are historic spells that can be cast at instant speed thanks to Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage. Historian’s Boon gives you tokens for Sagas entering and final chapters going off.

Like a specific trigger? Weaver of Harmony can copy an enchantment’s trigger for cheap. The previous de facto Sagas commander Satsuki, the Living Lore is a must include in the deck. Being able to mass trigger Sagas from one activation and then getting value from her dying all for two mana is pretty amazing.

  1. Enchantress stuff

Let’s be real, Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin gave us the best Shrine commander and players have been playing it like an enchantress build with a Shrine sub theme. Go check out cards for GSoLO on EDHREC but to save you a look here are some good ones.

I really like Estrid’s Invocation for this deck specifically. You can use the upkeep to flicker Invocation and choose another Saga or if it’s about to get cashed in, save it.

Mass reanimate with Open the Vaults, Replenish, Calix, Destiny’s Hand, and Estrid, the Masked. Single target reanimate with Ghen, Arcanum Weaver.

Sanctum Weaver and Serra’s Sanctum for mana acceleration and Cloud Key or Jukai Naturalist for mana reduction.

Enchantress card draw has a ton of options – Sythis, Harvest’s Hand, Setessan Champion, Eidolon of Blossoms, Satyr Enchanter, Argothian Enchantress, and Mesa Enchantress.

That does it for another edition of A Seat at the Table! With more spoilers coming please keep coming back to The Bag of Loot for more Commander goodies. If you have a commander you’d like covered, message me @mikecarrozza on Twitter or Instagram!

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com
Get all your board game needs from Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com

Mike Carrozza Mike Carrozza - March 14, 2023

A Seat at the Table – Gandalf the Grey

Hello and welcome to A Seat at the Table, the column where I pick a commander and talk about what I’d include in the 99. This round, a new card previewed by IGN for the upcoming The Lord of the Rings set from this summer – Gandalf the Grey!

I’d like to say off the bat that I don’t care about the The Lord of the Rings franchise, books, anything. I don’t know enough to contribute any Vorthos insight or flavour anything. But I will point out things that correspond to Magic: The Gathering information. So let’s take a look at the latest legend spoiled coming to us soon!

For 3UR, Gandalf the Grey is a 3/4 Legendary Creature – Avatar Wizard with a cool textbox that is pretty dope.

“Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, choose one that hasn’t been chosen –

You may tap or untap target permanent.  

Gandalf the Grey deals 3 damage to each opponent.  

Copy target instant or sorcery spell you control. You may choose new targets for the copy. 

Put Gandalf on top of its owner’s library.”  

Wowza! Now that’s a commander! Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell you must choose either Psychic Puppetry, Sizzle, Increasing Vengeance, or Gandalf dips out.

Here are some things to remember:

  1. You can choose each mode only once per Gandalf. If you blink or flicker him, reanimate him, cast him again, put him into play in any way, that resets the count.
  2. This isn’t a “may” ability. You must choose one. This means if the last ability hasn’t been chosen yet, Gandalf is hitting the top of its owner’s library.
  3. His ability is not Magecraft and therefore does not trigger off of copied spells.

Let’s talk the 99!

  1. Blink

Alright, let’s cut to the chase: we don’t want Gandalf to hit the top of your library. That means you want to reset Gandalf before you trigger the final available ability triggers. To get the full list of abilities, you’ll want to cast a blink spell as your third spell unless you have another way to reset it. If you cast Blur for example as your fourth spell, this will trigger Gandalf returning to  your library which resolves before the spell can. Essence Flux is probably the best of the crew of cards, but Blur, Displace, Ghostly Flicker, Planar Incision, and Illusionist’s Stratagem are excellent inclusions to keep Gandalf going.

You can also reset Gandalf with an end step flicker with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling and Conjurer’s Closet. Just make sure you don’t cast four instants and sorceries! It’s also not a big deal because you can cast him again or if you want to use Future Sight, he can be waiting for you in the extended hand!

How do you just not worry about it altogether? There is an answer and you’re going to love it. It’s adorable. It’s Displacer Kitten. Every instant or sorcery you cast has the potential to reset Gandalf if you really need it to.

  1. Stuff to Untap – Arcanis the Omnipotent / Magus of the Bazaar / Otherworld Atlas / Beguiler of Wills / Jace’s Archivist (Brallin Glint-Horn Buccaneer) / Vexing Puzzlebox

What about cool stuff to untap? Depends on what you want.

Mana? Lands in general, but specifically Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, are all great targets. Empowered Autogenerator keeps getting bigger and bigger. Glittering Stockpile does the same to cash in for a big payout. Nyx Lotus is Nykthos on a rock. Alena, Kessig Trapper needs creatures to enter, but is worth it for mana twiddles. Chromatic Orrery and Coveted Jewel are big mana with different upsides – Orrery can draw some cards by activating and Jewel can be blinked instead of Gandalf when Displacer Kitten is out. Galazeth Prismari turns all of your artifacts into mana rocks for instants and sorceries. Got a big amount of mana, Doubling Cube can make a ton more. And my favourite mana rock for this is Vexing Puzzlebox, which can tutor up an artifact to play.

Card draw is fun when you can untap Arcanis the Omnipotent, Temple Bell, Magus of the Bazaar, and Otherworld Atlas. Azami, Lady of Scrolls can tap itself and your commander, maybe other Wizards for cards. What about Galecaster Colossus who can tap Wizards to bounce creatures you don’t control. Take control of those creatures instead by tapping Beguiler of Wills.

My favourite is Jace’s Archivist. Cast a couple of spells, empty your hand, then Archivist for Windfall. Refill your hand. Maybe you have Glint-Horn Buccaneer and Brallin, Skyshark Rider. That’s a lot of damage. How about some more?

  1. Damage dealers

You’re going to want to deal some damage when you cast noncreature spells or instants/sorceries. Here’s a quick list of my favourites –

Trigger damage on cast: Electrostatic Field, Firebrand Archer, Exalted Flamer of Tzeentch, Pink Horror, Guttersnipe, Kessig Flamebreather, and Lambholt Raconteur.

Thermo-Alchemist and Chandra’s Incinerator are different but worth a look. Thermo-Alchemist untaps when you cast and instant or sorcery to activate, but can also be Gandalf’s target for untap. Incinerator takes all the noncombat damage you control dealt to opponents and does that much to a target creature or planeswalker, getting rid of problematic critters.

That’s a lot of damage, how about some more? Wait, did I say that already?

Here are cards that double damage or add damage. They’re self-explanatory, but this article’s getting long! Gratuitous Violence, Solphim, Mayhem Dominus, Insult // Injury, Goblin Goliath, Fiendish Duo, Furnace of Rath, Dictate of the Twin Gods, Mechanized Warfare, and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell.

  1. Magecraft

Why not some extra triggers for casting but also copying those spells?

Zaffai, Thunder Conductor is a commander I love but here he can scry per spell or copy, but also sometimes give you a 4/4. Deekah, Fractal Theorist also makes tokens for you to swing or defend with. Veyran, Voice of Duality doubles triggers for casting and copying instants or sorceries. Storm-Kiln Artist is one of the best Magecraft abilities out there. It makes a Treasure every time. The second strongest is Archmage Emeritus, drawing you a card for every Magecraft trigger.

You should copy more spells like with Double Vision, Thousand-Year Storm, and Swarm Intelligence.

Level up Sorcerer Class to deal some damage and use those aforementioned tokens for mana. Use Sentinel Tower and Aetherflux Reservoir to dole out some more damage while using Hullbreaker Horror to control the stack and board.

  1. Cost reduction

You’re going to want to cast a lot of spells, you’ll need to make them cheaper. Wizards of Thay is an overlooked gem I find myself thinking about more and more. Rowan, Scholar of Sparks // Will, Scholar of Frost have some extra upside, but no matter what it will reduce spell slinging by 1. Primal Amulet // Primal Wellspring does the same before flipping to be a spell copying land. Mindsplice Apparatus, Jace’s Sanctum, Haughty Djinn, and Font of Magic all have their advantages, but ultimately will reduce your instants and sorceries to pips.

Bonus: Flashback and one mana spells!

Arcane Infusion, Faithless Looting, Artful Dodge, Devil’s Play, Flaring Pain, Galvanic Iteration, Increasing Vengeance, Mass Diminish, Otherworldly Gaze, Scour All Possibilities, Secrets of the Key, Think Twice, Strike it Rich, and Deep Analysis are all cheap and replayable from the graveyard! Cackling Counterpart, Echo of Eons, Ignite the Future, Memory Deluge, Mystic Retrieval, and of course Past In Flames are all solid inclusions.

That does it for this edition of A Seat at the Table! Let me know what other commanders you want me to cover in the next one!

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com
Get all your board game needs from Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com