Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not Keeping 2-Land Hands

Didn't have much of a chance to shuffle up for Commander this weekend, but I did get one quick game in with Chris. He had Zur the Enchanter. I had Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis. (It's helpful to sing the demon's name when you say it, making it sound like "Sephiroth" from the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie soundtrack.)

Zur the EnchanterNefarox, Overlord of Grixis

To put it mildly, Zur is a strong commander. I usually only beat him when I can take control of him the turn he comes out with Control Magic or something similar. Or, if I can kill him the first two or even three times he is cast with removal. I had neither this game, so I lost pretty quickly. He can search up answers to almost anything, so things go downhill quickly after he makes one or two appearances in the red zone.

But, I expect to lose to Zur. That's not what this post is about. This post is about my old nemesis: mana-screw. Man, I hate that!

My opening hand was: Swamp, Swamp, Mind Stone, Abyssal Persecutor, Damnation, Reaper from the Abyss, Thran Dynamo, Corrupt.

SwampSwampMind StoneAbyssal PersecutorReaper from the AbyssThran DynamoCorrupt

What I saw was making my land drops for two turns with a Mind Stone on turn 2, putting me at 4 mana on turn three into Abyssal Persecutor with Damnation in case Chris assembled the three colors for Zur on his turn 4 (which he almost always does). My plan was to attack into him with the 6/6 demon until Zur showed up and then wipe the board immediately and then be in position for Nefarox or the Reaper. It all hinged on drawing one more land in the first three turns.

Did I draw a land?

No, of course not. Why would I? I mean, lands only make up 40% of my deck.

Zur shows up on Chris' turn 4 and proceeds to grab Robe of Mirrors, Edge of Divinity, and Battle Mastery while I draw nothing, nothing, nothing.

Robe of MirrorsEdge of the DivinityBattle Mastery

The rule - the one that I'm tattooing onto my deckbox - is to always, always mulligan to the third land.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Return to Ravnica Spoiler: Necropolis Regent

Vampire and Demon tribal decks don't get a lot of respect. They are generally not "broken" enough to go all the way, at least in my experience. That makes sense, since you aren't able to choose "the best" creatures in each color, only the best creatures of a specific type. So, playing tribes is a labor of love. You do it because you like it.

Along with the new demon (with extra demon flavor!) from Return to Ravnica, we have this guy joining the fight for vampires:

A 6/5 flyer for 6 mana isn't going to blow anyone out of the water, but check out the ability. Whenever any creature you control deals damage to a player, it gets that many +1/+1 counters. This pushes the threat-level of all of your vampires up a notch, making the decision to let just one creature through come back to bite you.

~Necropolis Regent

Creature - Vampire Mythic Rare
Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, put that many +1/+1 counters on it.
Illus. Winona Nelson #71/2746/5

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Keeping My Eye On

Predator, Flagship

I really like reusable effects in the commander format. Who doesn't? But I was noticing how many times I go through a deckbuilding exercise and cut reusable cards that I like to slot in cards that I can only use once.

This habit comes from years of building decks for tournament formats, cutting the mana costs to speed up the clock. The result is drawing and playing nearly inconsequential cards on turn 9 in a commander game.

So, here's a few cards I've been keeping my eye on to go along with Temporal Aperture, Mimic Vat, Proteus Staff, Scroll Rack, and the equipment cards.

Predator, Flagship

I can use it to hand out flying to my own creatures or even to an opponent's creatures that are headed somewhere else. Plus, it kills flyers. And if push comes to shove, for 7 mana it can make a creature fly and then shoot it out of the sky. Expensive, but colorless and reusable creature kill with some tech on the side.

Darksteel Pendant

Darksteel Pendant
Along with Sensei's Divining Top, this is a low-cost way to smooth draws. Plus, it protects itself by being indestructible. Handy. The activation cost is cheap, so it can help hit land drops early and then push the land draws away later in the game. I've been looking for ways to duplicate the library manipulation "feel" of blue, but while staying mono-black.

Slate of Ancestry and Sorcerer's Strongbox

I haven't actually played with this card yet, but it looks like a very "demon" way to draw. Do I want to keep what I've got, or go for what's in the box? I often have three or four creatures out, so this could be a good way to refill a failing hand or to refresh and hope for what I need. Plus, it can drop things in the yard for sweet, sweet reanimation. Sorcerer's Strongbox gives me an excuse to flip coins, but is probably not worth running over Dreamstone Hedron.

Slate of AncestrySorcerer's Strongbox

And to protect them all...

Guardian Beast

Guardian BeastNot the cheapest card when it comes to actual cost, I ran across this while looking for ways to not get my ass handed to me by Aura Shards. Take that! Aura Shards shuts me down something fierce and mono-black doesn't have many ways to deal with enchantments directly. This guy at least buys me some time to use my artifacts until they find removal for him.

Guardian Beast English
Creature — Beast 2/4, 3B (4)
As long as Guardian Beast is untapped, noncreature artifacts you control can't be enchanted, they're indestructible, and other players can't gain control of them. This effect doesn't remove Auras already attached to those artifacts.

Demons in the City

With the Return to Ravnica spoiler season in full swing, it's about time we saw a new demon. And this one does not dissapoint!

Desecration Demon

Creature - Demon Rare
At the beginning of each combat, any opponent may sacrifice a creature. If a player does, tap Desecration Demon and put a +1/+1 counter on it.
Illus. Jason Chan #63/2746/6

Big creature? Check. Evasion? Check. Creates tough choices? Check. Sometimes screws over the person playing it? Check. This new demon has that perfect "demon" flavor. Brimstone with a hint of cinnamon. Who knew?

The best part is, the decision to sacrifice a creature happens at the beginning of each combat. I imagine that most of the time, this guy is going to get tapped down just when you need him most. But they don't call it a deal with the devil for nothing. When you have friends like this guy and the Abyssal Persecutor, who needs enemies?

http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=135444Abyssal Persecutor