Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gatecrash Pre-release Top 4

Just finished up the Gatecrash pre-release. Made top 4 with Dimir. Milled a couple of people out, so I feel like I represented House Dimir, but it didn't feel like there were enough defensive cards to sit back on and just mill away. It played like a small flyer / removal UB deck with some monster milling from Mind Grind, Consuming Aberration, Paranoid Delusions, Balustrade Spy, Grisly Spectacle, and Sage's Row Denizen.

Mind GrindConsuming AberrationParanoid DelusionsBalustrade SpyGrisly SpectacleSage's Row Denizen

Here's how it went down, roughly. :) Actually, now that I am looking over my notes, I have no idea what half my opponents were playing. I know that Dimir didn't do well across the board as no one from my "guild table" was in the top 8 (I believe). Compared to some of the other guilds, winning with Dimir was tricky (as it should be). One guy was really bent out of shape. He kept saying, "This is annoying," and, "I can't believe I'm not winning." Oh, Dimir. So true to form.

You know what worked well? Green / Red with Bloodrush. Top 2 decks. Only guy who beat me was running that and it was close, 1-2. Mana was a problem for me first game and for him the second game. He beat me in the end, though. Otherwise, I won most other rounds 2-0. To be fair, I felt lucky all day.

As it turns out, the Black primordial, Sepulchral Primordial, does in fact animate a creature from each opponent's graveyard. I pulled one and actually got to cast it in a game. Took a creature. Then, had Voidwalk encoded on one of my unblockables. So, I got to use his trigger more than once. By then, it was over anyway. But, still cool.

Sepulchral PrimordialVoidwalk

I got the most headscratching from my opponents about Voidwalk. They was a lot of, "Wait, what?" and, "Can I see that card again?" If you follow what it says on step at a time, it's not too bad. But, in a pre-release where no one has had a chance to play with it yet, what it was doing seemed to confuse the people I played against. It goes a little something like this:

Cast Voidwalk and exile one of your opponent's creature. Now, encode Voidwalk on one of your creatures. Your opponent's best blocker is now out of the way, so attack. Your creature with Voidwalk encoded on it gets through and deals combat damage to your opponent. Cipher triggers. Now - here comes the fun part - target one of your own creatures with the Voidwalk copy, a creature with a comes into play ability. It gets exiled. When your turn ends, your creature and your opponent's creature will come into play, triggering your creature's ability.

I did this in several matches. The Ciphered Voidwalk copy triggers Consuming Aberration when cast. Sepulchral Primordial works well. And Sage's Row Denizen can really grind away if one or two creatures are coming into play every turn. Balustrade Spy coming into play turn after turn really eats away at a library.

Mind Grind and Consuming Aberration are as crazy as they look. I can't wait to see them in action in my next commander deck.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gatecrash Spoiler: Lord of the Void

Oh man, oh man, oh man. This is going to be cool. Check out this demon!

Yes, he's 7cc mana. Yes, he's Mythic Rare. But, 7/7 Flying for 7cc isn't a terrible deal. Plus, check out that ability. It's dripping with flavor. He's lopping off heads. He's taking your creatures and using them against you. His eyes are blue... and glowing!

So far, we've seen these two "Primordials," one for Blue and one for White.

I'm hoping the Black Primordial reanimates one creature from each opponent, except that it gives the creatures to you. :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Getting Your Deck's Mana Base Right

If you aren't plugged into a good network of EDH/Commander compadres, look around for one! Sometimes a gem like this pops up. PortlandEDH posted this site on Facebook and it's great!

Just type in the name of your Commander, and check or un-check the boxes in the menu to get started. It'll show you all kinds of mana-producers (lands, artifacts, spells, etc) that fit into your Commander's colors.

You can do something similar on a site like, but ManabaseCrafter has a cool layout and makes it easy to scroll through the options. Check it out!

Gatecrash Spoiler: Diluvian Primordial, Leyline Phantom, Giant Adephage

What we have here today is a mixed bag. There are a lot of other cards in this set that I'm not really talking about because they either aren't in my colors or they just aren't that exciting. Visit MTGSalvation to see the rest of the spoiler so far.

Up first, Diluvian Primordial looks like it could go the distance in your next Blue Commander deck. At 5UU, for a converted casting cost of 7, he's topping out on the curve. When you cast something for this much mana, it had better make a difference. This guy delivers. This 7cc creature is a 5/5 flyer that can seriously swing the game in your favor by letting you cast an instant or sorcery for each and every opponent right from that player's graveyard. Mid-to-late game, graveyards are almost always stocked with juicy spells. When you drop this monster, you get to cast a bunch of them! At the same time!

Up next, take a look at Leyline Phantom. What would be really great - and I know you are thinking this - is if he returned to your hand before he died from combat damage, but no. It doesn't work that way. So, instead what we have is a 5/5 for 4U (5cc) that probably won't make a big splash in the Commander format. Do you have some crazy way to take advantage of his return-to-hand ability?

Last up, Giant Adephage is here for some green beats. I've played quite a few games of Commander and the one green creature that really gives me fits is Spawnwrithe. You know what I'm talking about. When I see it hit the table, my first instinct is to shout, "Kill it with fire!" The way I see it, you have two choices. Kill it immediately with direct damage or removal before it can attack, even once. Or, failing that, draw a sweeper before it overwhelms everyone. Giant Adephage looks like another one of those cards, only bigger.


There's almost always someone open to attack when Spawnwrithe hits the table. That, and for 3cc mana, he hits the table early. Once the train gets going, it's difficult to stop. You see, the token copies that the card makes also make token copies. 1 turns into 2, turns into 4, turns into 8. Giant Adephage is Spawnwrithe's bigger brother. At 7 power, Trample becomes a significant combat ability helping to push damage through to make a token copy. All aboard!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cool for Cats: Kemba Continued

Referring back to an old post, my friend provided me with a draft deck list for his Kemba deck. Let's take a look at the deck and see what's up with it.

A couple of things to keep in mind:
  1. This guy is a good friend, smart, and a good Magic player. He's just new to building decks for Commander.
  2. He doesn't have a huge collection of cards, so dropping huge dollars just to get a deck started is not going to happen.
  3. These are just some observations and suggestions based on my experience with the format, which is by no means extensive.
After a few conversations about what the deck is trying to do, I think he's going for a voltron, token, cat theme. He doesn't want anything other that "cat" creatures, no matter how good Stonehewer Giant is, either. :)

Kemba, Kha Regent

The way I see this, the deck is going to tap out every turn. Plus, you'll want to play a land every turn and accelerate since you will be casting lots of equipment and equipping. If you have to recast Kemba after the first time she dies, and equip her with at least one thing, you are looking at 5cc for Kemba (3+2), plus equip costs, which are likely to be at least 3 for a total of 8 mana. That's probably going to happen around turn 6.

Other than Caged Sun and Gilded Lotus, you don't have much in the way of acceleration. Sol Ring can be an expensive card to buy, but it's obviously good. Better than a lot of other cards since you will use it in every deck you make. Thran Dynamo fits on that curve. As does Wayfarer's Bauble. Oh, and Mana Crypt. You know, if you sell a kidney or something.

Sol RingWayfarer's BaubleThran DynamoMana Crypt

The stuff you are running to help you make your land drops will help you in games where you are behind, but don't do much when you are hitting your drops every turn. Gift of Estates, Tithe, and Land Tax are great cards. But, you have to play around them. It'll be interesting to see you consider holding back land drops to activate Land Tax, for example. The "thinning" effect isn't as noticeable in this format since the decks are so large. Also, you aren't actually doing anything with the lands you get. Typical Tax decks either use the lands to do damage with something like Firestorm or they use the lands to draw more cards with something like Scroll Rack. Not saying to take them out, just something to consider.

Okay, onto the cards!

Artifact (22)

With a low casting cost, Kemba can come out early. But, since the deck relies on Kemba to start generating tokens, it's more important than ever to include equipment that will protect Kemba. This deck includes a good list of equipment that will help to ensure that Kemba always has a weapon in hand (paw?) for when she's out on the prowl.

A couple of Artifact card suggestions are:

Akroma's MemorialArmillary Sphere

Along with the Eldrazi Monument and other creature pumpers, Akroma's Memorial will make all of the tokens fierce. And, I would run Armillary Sphere over the Journeyer's Kite. It does it's thing faster, with less mana commitment. Plus, it's a lot less expensive.

For the equipment, take a look at Batterskull, Basilisk Collar, and Loxodon Warhammer. These pieces of equipment give out lifelink. Extra life could come in handy with a few of the cards we will see later on. Plus, equipment makes a good replacement in this deck for a few of the spells we'll see later. Oh, and don't forget about Darksteel Plate. That card almost always elicits groans from around the table.

Darksteel Plate

Sorcery (12)

I like most of these spells. Lots of creature sweepers, which can clear a clogged board. Hour of Reckoning could certainly live up to its name. The problem is that most of the sweepers will also kill Kemba. But, she does have a lower casting cost, so you can ideally recover more quickly than your opponents. Take a look at some spot removal cards to get a good mix, though. Condemn is good. As is Swords to Plowshares. Instant speed spot removal can really ruins someone's day (or combat math).
CondemnSwords to Plowshares

Tutors add consistency to any deck.
Survival Cache doesn't do enough. Spot removal is probably better. Best case scenario, you gain 4 life and draw 2 cards over 2 turns. Not too exciting.

Oh, and Three Dreams looks cool... but only if you have enough Aura cards to support it. Check out Arrest, Cage of Hands, and Prison Term. Those all deal with a creature. I like Angelic Destiny. I think the artwork is great and it's reusable on your tokens. Could be fun. We are here to have fun, right?

ArrestCage of HandsPrison TermAngelic Destiny

Instant (6)

Beacon of Immortality can be a huge shot in the arm, but playing with cards like this can really bother certain players.

Enlightened Tutor is good, of course.

Rest in Peace really messes with certain decks. Again, the artwork is cool. Plus, it's an enchantment. Most of the decks that really care about the graveyard are going to have trouble dealing with it. It's a stronger version of Honor the Fallen, but doesn't include lifegain. I'd trade away the lifegain to put the hurt on turn after turn.

Rest in Peace

Land (40)

As for lands, Emeria and Kor Haven are both good. Take a look at Windbrisk Heights. You will meet the requirement pretty easily and get a little acceleration from it.

Windbrisk Heights

You'll want at least a few ways to deal with troublesome lands your opponents are running, like Maze of Ith. Ghost Quarter, Strip Mine, Tectonic Edge, and Wasteland are all good, just not in that order. :)

Ghost QuarterStrip MineTectonic EdgeWasteland

Enchantment (9)

For pumping your tokens, Angelic Voices is weak. Check out Cathar's Crusade. Don't forget about regular ol' Crusade, either. Divine Sacrament isn't bad. Glorious Anthem. Honor of the Pure. Shared Triumph. You can probably push this theme pretty hard since you are - in theory - generating tokens at an alarming rate.
Cathars' CrusadeCrusadeDivine SacramentGlorious AnthemHonor of the PureShared Triumph

The other creature pumpers look good. Concerted Effort, Marshal's Anthem, and True Conviction along with a few of the artifacts you are running will make your cats deadly.

Creature (9)

Okay, creatures. You don't have a whole lot of creatures. You are relying heavily on casting and protecting Kemba to generate tokens. The trouble is, anything that gives her shroud is going to make it so that you can't equip her with anything else either. Just something to consider when looking at equipment.

Out of your 9 creatures,
  • Adaptive Automaton is a creature pumper. He stays.
  • Ajani's Pridemate is weak. If he got +1/+1 counters for EACH life you gained, that would be something. But, nope.
  • Felidar Sovereign is fine. I like alternate win conditions.
  • For 6 mana, Jarath isn't doing much. He is sexy. And a cat. And his protection ability could be awesome under certain circumstances, so he stays.
  • Leonin Abunas is strong. He stays.
  • The Relic-warder is a little random. Plus, creatures die all the time. I'm not sure that you are going to get much value from him.
  • Raksha kicks ass when equipped. He makes all your cats crazy.
  • Spirit of the Hearth is fine. He flies. Plus, his ability could come in handy.
  • The Swordsmith is fine. Tutoring a small piece of equipment is helpful.
Leonin Shikari is worth considering. It makes all of your guys dangerous and tricky in combat and you can use the ability right away.

Leonin Shikari

Seht's Tiger isn't bad. It's a tricky card and a cat. Plus, it shows up out of nowhere for extra flavor.

Seht's Tiger

Otherwise, there are a handful of small, cheap, flying cats that would give you some evasion and active that enchantment that gives flying to all creatures if one of your creatures has flying (Concerted Effort). Take a look at these. One even has doublestrike.

Skyhunter ProwlerSkyhunter Skirmisher

Planeswalker (1)

1x Ajani, Caller of the Pride

The pride caller is good. So, is Ajani's other aspect. He just had his hair done. His -1 ability is good!

Ajani Goldmane

I'm looking forward to testing the deck, no matter what the card choices end up being. I see a deck that when it starts to work, can really put the pressure on in short order with an overwhelming number of tokens. I also see a deck that suffers from weak turns if Kemba is "dealt with." It'll be interesting to see if riding that line to keep the theme is worth it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gatecrash Spoiler: Undercity Plague, Stolen Identity, Dimir Charm, Mind Grind

Check out MTGSalvation for the spoiler. That's where I'm getting everything from...

What we have here is two more Cipher cards and a couple of other Dimir cards that look interesting. Mind Grind, in particular, will fit nicely with the deck I've been working on.

As for the Cipher cards, Undercity Plague and Stolen Identity look like this:

At 6cc, these spells aren't that exciting for what they do. It's still nice that you get to cast the spell once, no matter what. But then getting Cipher to actually work requires you to a) have a creature to encode the spell onto, then b) deal combat damage with that creature to a player. Sure, there are ways and means to make creatures unblockable or otherwise to attack the player that is the most "open," but it's not something I would build around. Hey, if I'm getting combat damage through consistently, things are usually looking good for me. These cards are adding insult to injury... but not fast enough.

The various Charm cards are useful because that pack a range of options into one piece of cardboard. Slots are valuable in your deck, so something that acts like a small toolkit for just what you need is a welcome addition. This is a hard counter limited to sorceries, direct creature removal for a small creature, and a mini-Sealed Fate-type effect that mills the cards instead of exiling them. Looks good.

Finally, we come to Mind Grind. Not only does the card name rhyme, which is nice, but it hits all opponents. This is great for the deck I've been working on. There aren't that many cards that mill more than one opponent at a time. Plus, Mind Grind has the potential for some serious upside.

Check it out! Casting this for around X=5 should be pretty savage, especially if you have anything else going on like an active Bloodchief Ascension. If you have Lazav out, get ready to pick a juicy creature to copy.