Monday, November 15, 2010

Magic Portrayals, Popular Video Comedy

I've been spending some time trying to get my card-playing groove back. How do you do that? In my case, it seems to involve a lot of snow removal. Ugh.

Hopefully there will be another post soon. In the meantime, you should (probably already have) check out this Magic-themed skit from the folks at The Escapist. True to life? Or too true? You be the judge.

The folly of spending limits!

Monday, November 8, 2010

REAL Combos: Mastermind your Reality Acid

On the back of my bomb-ombo revelations regarding Spellbound Dragon, I have today a REAL combo.

Vedalken Mastermind is a brazen tool of il-repute, known to me ever since I saw his combo potential clearly outlined in my Tenth Edition fold-out instruction sheet. I can't find the sheet, but Ben Bleiweiss does it far better anyway in this nutty Building on a Budget article.

Back to my specific circumstances. My EDH already had Reality Acid as a way to deal with planeswalkers and enchantments. Adding Vedalken Mastermind just seemed like the right thing to do. Not only do I get the phenominal one-permanent-a-turn kill with the Acid, but there's a host of other possibilities.

Blue is the color of control magic effects like Take Possession. What happens when your "possession" suffers an untimely demise? You send the aura back into your hand with Vedalken Wizard.

Sure I can recur Trinket Mage to grab more artifacts, but if I had black in my deck I could even do it to creatures in my opponent's graveyard.

Vedalken Mastermind, unlike similar non-creature versions like Erratic Portal and Crystal Shard, also has the power to return itself. If played correctly, the Mastermind is invulnerable to sorcery-speed effects in all cases except when your blue mana is completely tapped out. Your opponents are forced to use instant speed effects, probably direct removal. Which I think is the most valuable commodity in EDH right now.

My deck is certainly not built around these two cards…that way lies dragons of the strategic variety. But if your deck has little combos sprinkled throughout, it is only a matter of time before the chocolate crashes into the peanut butter.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spellbound! No One Expects Hidden Game Information

Originally, when I saw  these two cards in the same deck it seemed like poetry in motion.

Spellbound Dragon discards some high-value card, like Emrakul, and I put it on top of my library with My Library. I draw it again next turn and repeat, smacking someone for 18 every time the Dragon swoops in.


This "combo" doesn't actually work.


1) The card is still being discarded, but the discard is modified by Library of Leng.
2) The information on the card being discarded is never revealed to other players
3) Because the information is never revealed, it cannot be used to affect the game state

At least, this was how it was explained to me. I guess it makes sense…theoretically I could just be discarding a Mountain and saying its was Emrakul. And at no point do any of the cards instruct me to reveal the contents of the card.

Resolved…I actually have to put the card in my graveyard to get the effect I want from Spellbound Dragon.

And no, I don't have any Comprehensive Rulebook quotations to back this up. I don't even know where I would start looking inside that mammoth tome. If anyone knows where it says this, please sent the quote and I'll have it branded on the back of my skull*.

To all the Johnnies out there, keep tinkering!

* with washable marker over a napkin.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Niv-Mizzet: The Final Chapter

Like a classic horror movie villian, it's taken quite a few chops to put this particular deck to bed. Luckily the end result won't be some clawed hand bursting out of a tombstone, but a working, functional Elder Dragon Highlander deck.

The Counterspells

I never like people casting powerful spells when they're directed at me. To counter these brazen actions, I want at least a few counterspells. BUT NOT TOO MANY.

Why only a few?

Counterspells, while being pretty neato in the classic one-on-one duel, aren't very useful in multiplayer. My philosophy leans more towards letting threats resolve and seeing them develop. Who knows what that simple creature might turn into? Perhaps it's not even going to attack you. One thing's for sure, if you use a counterspell all eyes will be turned on you as threat Numero Uno.

1) Hinder - where Hinder puts them, they don't come back. Unless they use a tutor. Or naturally draw into it. Anyway, they probably aren't going to immediately recur whatever you hit with Hinder.

2. Counterspell - An oldie, but a goodie. I figure, if I'm countering a spell I might as well do it via the classical method. Ice Age was unkind to me in many ways…the weirdo long-winded rares, the lack of traditional dual lands. But one small gift it bequeathed to me was a super-freaky L.A. Williams Counterspell.

Bold. Beefy. Unmistakable.

3) Swerve - This last one isn't really a counterspell. Swerve posits the classic riddle of the playground to your foes. "If I'm rubber, and you're glue…" The end result is a surprising turn of events.

I may very well add more, but I doubt it. You'd be surprised how many problems can be solved by blowing them out of the water farther down the road.

Direct Removal

Every once and a while, I'm going to have to take care of a threat. Something insurmountable, or something coming straight for me which my cowardly fellow players refuse to deal with. In these cases, one-for-one is O.K. However in exchange for the relative card disadvantage, I want versatility and/or reliability.

1) Spin Into Myth - Shuffles a creature into it's owner's library, preferably a general or someone's ultra-nasty Karmic Guide or Eternal Witness. Believe me, these particular cards are always getting pulled back out of people's graveyards like last night's chicken necks.

2. Reality Acid - destruction for any permanent you want, including planeswalkers, artifacts, enchantments and land. Normally takes 3 turns to work, but great for hard-to-deal-with permanents that offer small, incremental advantages.

3. Consign to Dream - Also works on any permanent. And unlike Reality Acid, this spell works instantly. More appropriate for creatures or doomsday devices that suddenly target me for annihilation out of the blue. Happens more often than I would like to admit.

4. Leaden Fists - I may have said it already in my comments about Ixidron. In EDH, the best place to stash an undesirable permanent is on the battlefield. Leaden Fists keep any creature you don't like permanently tapped (unless they can untap themselves like Soliton). Since I have quite a few untap effects, I might even be able to convince my enemy to attack someone else in exchange for untapping their creature.

5. Red Elemental Blast - Destroys (or counters) any blue permanent. Works great, because for some reason the most troublesome permanents always seem to be blue. Countering is good against permanents with nasty sac abilities, destruction works better for creatures who suddenly decide to attack me.

6. Beacon of Destruction - 5 points of damage either destroys a lot of creatures, or it takes a serious bite out of opposing planeswalkers. Then it gets recycled back into your deck for more fun. Since I draw a lot of cards, its only a matter of time before I draw into the Destruction again.

7. Incendiary Command - Choose 2: 4 damage to target planeswalker; 2 damage to each creature, destroy target Academy Ruins; or refresh your hand with some new spells to cast.

8. Take Possession - For 7 mana you get a Control Magic effect that works against all types of permanents. AND it can't be countered in most cases. Unless they have a Counterbalance with a 7 mana spell on top…or something else of that ilk.

Recursion and Card Advantage

1. Time Reversal - If you run out of gas, Time Reversal turns your hand of Island, Mountain, Mountain into a fresh grip of 7. The graveyard shuffling effect is my second, including Emrakul, and works to keep me in cards despite my frequent drawing and discarding. In Vintage, they have Timetwister. In EDH, I will gladly pay TWO more mana for the same effect. Whoo-hoo!

2. Read the Runes - Fills a very similar role as Incendiary Command, refreshing your hand with new widgets of destruction. Unlike the Command, however, Read the Runes runs at instant speed. Think of this spell as EDH's version of Brainstorm…quickly finding the exact cards to need to handle the situation at hand. Plus it also works as a one-turn sacrifice outlet, saving you card advantage in the wake of a global sweeper or a control effect.

3. Skyscribing - "Skyscribing?," you ask in disbelief. Believe it! Skyscribing is solid card draw that no one will ever hate you for. I've never had it countered, not once. You can draw an extra card any time your plans leave you with extra mana for the turn. Or you can draw a bunch of cards at once to kill things with Niv-Mizzet. I have a copy, and it is foil, so it is IN my deck!

4. Recall - This is very similar to Read the Runes, except its replacing bad cards in my hand with extremely good cards in my graveyard. They better be extremely good, because Recall unfortunately returns cards on a 1-for-2 basis. So save up until you have a lot of unnecessary land!

Random Fun Stuff

1) Disaster Radius - a one-sided Wrath of God, if you play your cards right. And by one-sided, I mean every side but you. Another way to think of it is a Plague Wind in the red slice of the color pie.

2) Homarid Spawning Bed - I'm trying this card to see how it works. In a world where my wizards either go big or go home, it would be nice to turn the "going home" wizards into a little pile of mandibles and pinchers. Who doesn't like Homarids? Some of my bigger creatures might even make SEVEN Homarids in one go. For more analysis, check out my post here.

3) Fabricate - "I'm one masterpiece away from ruling this pathetic world." So says Saldrath, Master Artificer. Hopefully he will be a Legendary Creature in a future nostalgia block, because I'd love to play as him. I suspect he's a blue/red mage, since his only other quote is on Rod of Ruin. Maybe he'll make Rod of Ruin tokens. I might be up for that.

4) Rite of Replication - Everyone loves this card. I even get enthusiastic about it. Just about any creature in my deck would go absolutely nuts with 5 tokens. Other than Ixidron. That would be a bit underwhelming.

5) Telemin Performance - Basically a preemptive Control Magic. Again, it might be better than Desertion, if for no other reason than you aren't shooting down someone else's dreams…just stealing a creature from their deck. One they probably weren't planning on using anyway. Fun fact: I removed my opponent's last win condition with Telemin Performance during an incredibly horrible game of 99-card singleton vs. Emperor deck. If it wasn't for the beer, that game never would have seen a successful conclusion. But Telemin Performance deserved a standing ovation. Bravo!

So, by my calculations I have officially finished the deck. Woo Woo!

Looking back it's definitely not an optimal build. But I think in the "metagame" I normally end up in, this loose-as-a-goose stack of 99 cards will serve me well. I'm not a slave to a particular theme, and I can't think of a single card (even Niv-Mizzet!) that I wouldn't be able to come back from losing (either exiled or getting "tucked").

Instead, this deck looks to incise the particular effects it finds most threatening, while simultaneously building up incremental advantage. Then busting everyone over the head during the end game. Will I succeed? Only after a few (LOTS) of games will I know for sure.

Believe it or not, I already have a few ideas for possible changes to this deck. But they will have to wait at least until tomorrow.

Today, I bask in the glory of a freshly build deck.

While in other news, my son spontaneously decided to brush his teeth. How helpful!

Also, usually a sign that it's past his bedtime. Thanks for everyone who stuck through this long slog!

A Mind of Unsurpassed Creative Output

And I'm speaking, of course, of my son.
He was Batman last year.

Batman was so yesterday. Where do you go when Batman is already done? If you've been watching the Teen Titans…your next step might be the canary-clad crusader of justice himself.

Shown here firing an invisible grappling hook. Where does he get those wonderful toys?

It was my turn to take him out, and we got nothing but awesome compliments. Not to mention piles and piles of candy.

Hopefully tonight I will finally have the final twenty selections to my Niv-Mizzet deck up. The creative process has been long on this one. But the end is in sight!