Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Charging Up

MTGSalvation spoiled the card and explored the angles. Contagion Clasp is coming in Scars of Mirrodin, and it makes many, many strategies better.

The crazy thing that keeps getting me about the "Proliferate" keyword is it says "You choose any number." In almost all cases, these types of effects have been roughly symmetrical. Deckbuilders would then try their hardest to make the ability as unbalanced as possible…see about any Smokestack deck for evidence.

But Proliferate goes ahead and says: this card benefits you in anyway you want, have no fear of your opponent's cards.

You can go ahead and put a counter on your Parallax Wave, Tide or Nexus. And your opponent won't get another counter on his or her planeswalker.

My current theory for Scars is that there will be a LOT of counters. Both +1/+1 at the hands of Sunburst, and -1/-1 counters at the hands of Infect. No matter your deck, Proliferate is going to be helping you in your counter schemes and denying the same buff to your opponent (who probably also has proliferate abilities).

Which leads me to wonder: will the new cards make these proliferate decisions difficult? In shadowmoor, there were a few creatures who gained benefit from having -1/-1 counters. Perhaps the Phyrexians will gain power from having -1/-1 counters…making it dicy trying to go for the kill and encouraging you to just leave them alone.

Any card that produces more thinking during the typical turn gains my hearty approval. Hopefully it won't just be a booster in people's planeswalker decks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back from Vacation, Drawing Cards via Wizards

I have just returned from a week long trip to the Bahamas. It was fun, refreshing and yet oddly tiring…making the return home just as welcome as the original departure.

What did I miss? The revelation of the contents to Elspeth vs. Tezzeret, the next in the Duel Decks series.

My mind is blown. Not only do you get Elspeth and Tezzeret, but there's all kinds of old-school goodies like Swords to Plowshares and Mishra's Factory.

And did I see Crusade? Wow. Not even Glorious Anthem. Here, you're getting the genuine high school cafeteria-league Monty Python-inspired Crusade. I wonder if Jihad might be further down the line? Except its on the reserved list. Oh well.

For some reason, my mind has been turned to Wizards, lately.

And not just because I've got a Niv-Mizzet EDH deck. That guy is So Yesterday.


One card I had to take out of my Niv-Mizzet deck quite some time ago is Diviner's Wand.

Basically, R&D wanted to make an updated Jayemdae Tome…one your creatures could pick up and smash other creatures over the head with. Four mana in this day and age is quite a bit to pay to draw a card, even with the paltry "+1/+1" ability tacked on. Luckily, the ability triggers no matter where the card drawing comes from.

It got me thinking, just how many cards can a person draw in a turn? Turns out, quite a bit. But how many of them are Wizards?

I think the most efficient Wizard card drawers are Enclave Cryptologist, Magus of the Bazaar, and Kor Spiritdancer.

The Spiritdancer is ideal because you don't have to tap her to get the effect. You do have to play some auras…something I'm hesitant to do. However, Magus of the Bazaar is always ready in the wings to discard something like Strength of Isolation or Strength of Lunacy. One of them at a least (they basically give protection against each other, so both fall off if you attach them at the same time!).

If only there was some Wizard who could bring enchantments back from the graveyard. Or a way to recur said Wizard.

More thinking will have to be done.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Yesterday I went ahead and posted an Elemental Deck. And of course, I screwed it up. After a post describing the merits of the new Water Servant vs. the old, overcosted, boring Water Elemental. What card did I put in my Elemental Deck…Water Elemental.

TCGplayer user "strongbad" then chimes in with "Water Elemental, of course!"

My failure is complete…I can do no more.

In other news, I love it when someone puts together a really nice deck that uses cheap cards. And I especially love it when that person is Conley Woods.

Here's his white weenie deck life gain from nationals

Life Gain for the WIN!

If you really want to see some awesome magic, check out Conley's awesome performance at the Gencon Vintage Championship. I will try to post a link to the video, or the video itself, but it is amazing stuff.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Your Faithful Servant

Sitting here, watching the pros sling M11 limited back and forth at Nationals (thanks, ggslive!) has brought to mind an important core set innovation. The revamped Servants.

We had the classic Earth, Wind, Fire and Water Elementals from the beginning. Unfortunately they were simple vanilla creatures that didn't do very much. There were not many creatures to choose from back then, and the original Elementals stood out from the pack mostly because there was no pack.

Contrast this with today's Water Servant, who's actually quite the monster!

I'm Bruce Lee, sucka!

For starters, he's wearing some sort of giant crab for a hat. But the awesomeness extends further into his play characteristics. In keeping with his element, this Servant is whatever you want him to be.

With enough blue mana, Water Servant can attack unopposed for 6 damage, taking a serious chunk out of your opponent or a rambunctious planeswalker. If you find out some way to buff him, the Servant can get even bigger. What better way than with Blade of the Bloodchief, especially when your deck is probably dumping Shriekmaws and Mulldrifters like they're going out of style anyway.

With enough blue mana, Water Servant is also a fantastic blocker. A back end of 6 is a fearsome wall, and unlike most walls this guy can go ahead and attack next turn for a mighty 6 in the front!

3 mana in one turn is not too much to pay for such marvelous versatility.

And you can make it cheaper. How? The pros love Noble Hierarch. I love Smokebraider. And I love finding even more ways to put my collection of 4 Smokebraiders to good use. Water Servant gives Smokebraider something to do with its mana every turn…how delightful.

My latest list - boom!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Last Ornithopter

I've finally got some time to put some words on paper. Or screen, I guess. What's happened? Grand Prix Columbus came and left. And the Vintage Championships went down today in Indy. Scores of analysts have or will have poured over these events. Is there any insights I can provide? Nope. Am I sure? Nope. Let's discover together.

Here's Patrick Chapin explaining how awesome Survival of the Fittest is. It's true. I don't know what the designers were exactly thinking, letting you discard a creature card to get any other creature card in your deck. Other colors have to draw cards, or tutor for maybe 1 card at a time.

Let's talk about zero casting cost creatures. Ornithopter was the first one. Shield Sphere was another one. Phyrexian Walker is yet another. Chapin found one I've never really thought about.

Future Sight can probably by considered the 3rd Un-set, considering how much weird stuff it contains. Dryad Arbor is a "man land," similar to Mishra's Factory and Treetop Village. Except it totally fails in the areas most people look for in their creature-lands. It's always a creature, and lacks all of the creature-destruction evasion stuff Mutavault is known for.

But it turns out, there are some benefits to having both card types for the long haul. Listening to the video, Chapin likes that you can pitch Dryad Arbor to Survival of the Fittest. He also enjoys putting the Arbor into play with Aether Vial. Does anyone know the keyboard combination for Æ by the way?

Really, anything that has to do with creatures, lands, or creatures AND lands. Life from the Loam brings Dryad Arbors back into your hand. Proclamation of Rebirth brings Dryad Arbors back onto the battlefield. 

When another creature enters the battlefield, Intruder Alarm causes Dryad Arbor to untap.

There's all sorts of ideas. I'll keep thinking about it.