Wednesday, March 27, 2013

M14 Spoiler: Shadowborn Demon

Come on! I'm looking for a UB Demon Legend, here. :) Ah, but I takes what I can gets.

Check out the details on M14 plus Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 over at Star City Games.

Included is this guy:

Shadowborn Demon - 3BB
Creature - Demon
When Shadowborn Demon enters the battlefield, destroy target non-Demon creature.
At the beginning of your upkeep, if there are fewer than six creature cards in your graveyard, sacrifice a creature.

In addition to looking super-friendly with a face made out of fire, he's a 5 power flyer for 5 mana. Plus, he kills something on his way in. You know, 'cause he's born out of shadows. And his face is on fire. Or, his whole head is made out of fire. Something with fire.

But he's not all just fun and games. The best demons aren't. And by "best," I mean, "most flavorful." You have to keep some creatures in the graveyard to keep from feeding this demon snacks every turn. At least he doesn't also eat creatures from your graveyard. Note, his first ability is not a "you may" ability. It's not optional. If you summon this guy, you have to destroy another creature. If it happens to be one of your creatures, well, that's alright with fire-face too.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dimir State of Mind: Redux

It's a Lazav / Dimir extravaganza! Check out my full "Dimir State and Mind" deck list on, here.

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

If you're going to build a Dimir deck for Commander, one way to go is just to search for the Dimir watermark in Gatherer. Throw those cards together, add some lands, and boom. Dimir. But that's not the only way to build a Dimir deck and I wanted to include some other cards that tickle my fancy.

So, what is "Dimir" really all about?
It is a guild of secrecy, manipulation and underhanded deals, a shadowy organization operating behind the scenes to twist Ravnica to its own ends. The guild provides espionage, smuggling, burglary, counter-intelligence, assassination and other illegal services for the Ravnican populace.... The guild is so secretive that even its own agents often do not know who they truly work for. -MTGSalvation Wiki
In other words, sneaky, sneaky.

Being sneaky is one thing. Living through it and possibly even winning is another. So, it all comes down to a balance between "flavor" and "power." For my Dimir deck, I decided that I wanted a good chance of milling someone out. Running someone out of 100 cards is fun! But, I wanted the mill to be a misdirection. You think you know what I'm up to, but really something else is what gets you. Poison. Infect seems like a Dimir thing to do.

I also don't want to be a D.O.U.C.H.B.A.G. or break any of my own deckbuilding rules with things players hate. So, while you might be thinking, "why didn't he use card X," it's probably because card X makes the game silly. Same goes for too much of a good thing. I tried to pick a few cards that represent the guild flavor without going overboard (control magic, milling, poison, etc).

On to the deck!

There are a few blue / black legends that could be used in the Commander slot, but Lazav, Dimir Mastermind is the direction I went. It also meant that milling had more than one purpose. Lazav for president! (Secret president.)

Instead of breaking the rest of the cards down by type, I'm going to break them down by theme. The main themes are:

1) Milling
2) Abusing Other Players' Graveyards (and Creatures, and Libraries)
3) Library Manipulation
4) Poison5) Defense
6) Ramp and Other Stuff


A big chunk of the deck is dedicated to milling because it makes Lazav wild and whacky, plus it supports theme #2 (Abusing Other Players' Graveyards). Milling refers to running a player's library out of cards. When a player would draw a card from an empty library, they lose. Doesn't matter about life totals or anything else, they just lose.

There are a lot of cards that mill libraries in this game, but since this is a multi-player format, I looked for cards that either hit one player really hard or hit everyone. Special attention was paid to cards that hit over and over since reusable effects tend to be more powerful with longer games.

Geth, Dreamborn Muse, Consuming Aberration, Nemesis of Reason, and Mindshrieker are supported by Whispering Madness, and Sword of Body and Mind. Mindcrank, Mesmeric Orb, and Keening Stone, and Jace, Memory Adept round out the "reusable" milling team. The best part is that most of these don't require a continued commitment to mana. Once they are out there, they just do their thing while you are free to further your other plans.

Consuming AberrationMind Grind

On the "one shot" milling team, Mind Grind, Traumatize, Telemin Performance, and Memory Jar all drop the bomb. Traumatize or a juiced-up Mind Grind can be devastating.

Finally, there are a few cards that go with this theme. They do create a couple of infinite combos. It's more of a side-effect than a theme or goal, though. Bloodchief Ascension and Duskmantle Guildmage give the milling some oomph. For those of you who are interested, the infinite combos involve Mindcrank. Mill a card, take some damage, take some damage, mill a card, etc.

Abusing Other Players' Graveyards (and Creatures, and Libraries)

This is where the real fun comes in. The deck itself doesn't do much on its own. Instead, it takes your stuff from you and uses it against you. This is my way of showing how House Dimir operates from the shadows.


A card like Blatant Thievery is awesome, but there's nothing blatant about how Dimir operates. So, the cards that made the cut are a little less obvious. For taking creatures and messing with libraries, we have Telemin Performance (dance for me!), Bribery, Treachery (don't they sound good together?), Corrupted Conscience, Lord of the Void, and Memnarch. For abusing graveyards, we have Beacon of Unrest, Wrexial, Sepulchral Primordial, Geth, Dimir Doppleganger, Consuming Aberration, and Liliana Vess.

Library Manipulation

Getting what you want, when you want it seems like a very Dimir way to go. Plans within plans. But, too many tutors can ruin the game for everyone. If it becomes "too easy" to pull off whatever your deck is trying to do, you've gone too far down the road with this one. I probably have too many tutors still, but we'll see. Otherwise, I looked for cards that do a little something for me over and over.

For raw tutoring, the deck includes Demonic Tutor, Diabolic Tutor, Fabricate, and Rune-Scarred Demon. Oh, and Liliana Vess for her second ability. I considered Expedition Map and a few others, but ultimately left them out to make room for other cards.

For more comments about how this works (and why), check out my "Tutor, Draw, and Manipulate" post. But for this deck, I went with Sensei's Divining Top, Darksteel Pendant, and Soldevi Excavations. All three of these cards give me some control over what I will be drawing. They are cheap to cast and activate, and reusable. Just the way I like it. Oh, and they make Future Sight - one of my favorite cards - work even better.

Future SightMagus of the Future

Speaking of my favorite cards, this deck includes Future Sight and it's wizard cousin, Magus of the Future.  More than Rhystic Study, more than Fact or Fiction, more than even Phyrexian Arena, more than just about anything else that lets me draw cards, I want Future Sight. It's incredibly strong and only gets better with ways to reorder the top of your library or shuffle (like with fetch lands). I'm also a big fan of Temporal Aperture. Not because it's good, but because I just like it. So, it's in here, too. When you've got 5 mana sitting around, cross your fingers and tap out!

Other than that, the deck includes Bloodgift Demon, Consecrated Sphinx, and Sphinx of Uthuun. I had Phyrexian Arena and Fact or Fiction in the deck, but I'd rather have the creature-versions of these cards. Oh, and Consecrated Sphinx is off the chain, of course.


Poison is one of those "too good" things. It's capable of knocking out players with no fanfare, sometimes very early in the game. I get that. To keep things from getting too "poisoney," none of my creatures have "infect" or "poisonous" built in. That makes it more difficult to make this work. Also, I don't have that many cards that let me give out the "infect" ability. It's more of an alternate way to win when someone is packing a lot of life gain than anything else and it felt like it was in flavor.

To dish out infect, the deck includes Glistening Oil, Phyresis, Grafted Exoskeleton, Corrupted Conscience, and Tainted Strike. All of these can be used to make a creature really scary, to mess with combat math, or to wipe someone out with extreme prejudice. Don't touch that body. It's infected.


Since the deck is not packing any sweepers or even spot removal - Really?! - I have to put up some kind of defenses, right? Along with creatures to block with, this deck includes No Mercy, Forcefield, Maze of Ith, Drana, and to a lesser extent, Sheoldred. I also consider Liliana Vess and Jace, Memory Adept as "defense" cards since players often have to commit some damage to them or they will go ultimate. It's really not much defense and depends heavily on making myself a less attractive target to opposing players.

No MercyForcefield

Ramp and Other Stuff

There is a fair amount of non-green ramp and land-searching in this deck. It's one of the things I like about the game, so I lean in that direction. I really hate missing land drops. This deck includes, Sol Ring, Thran Dynamo, and Gilded Lotus. It also includes, Wayfarer's Bauble, Armillary Sphere, Thawing Glaciers, and Solemn Simulacrum.

As for the "other stuff," it has the four Island fetchlands + Rings of Brighthearth, and Dark Depths for those really long games. Painful Quandary always brings a smile to my face (when I am the one playing it). Exquisite Blood to mess with the combat math between other players. Kozilek, mostly to protect me from milling, but also to cast when things go sideways. Lightning Greaves, Whispersilk Cloak, and Darksteel Plate to make my creatures better, faster, and less blockable.

Painful QuandaryExquisite Blood

That, my friends, rounds out what I hope to be a Dimir deck capable of winning in a couple of less-than-obvious ways without devolving into a boring, repetitious, douchbag, blue/black, themeless control deck. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dimir: Playing UB Again

I'm back to UB, but it's for a worthy cause. Lazav isn't going to play himself. I still look over at my shiny demons from time-to-time, but I know that they are waiting for me. If anything, demons are patient.

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

I haven't updated the deck list in a while, but I will. I have a few more changes to make after playing a half-dozen games. Whenever I play, I'm always reminded on how precious each slot is in a deck. If the card you have in that slot doesn't affect the game in a big way, it's worth taking a second look at. You know the feeling of tapping out to play and card and passing your turn with no impact. "I'll draw 4 cards... wee!"


Most of my testing has been against Chris with his new "Oozing Elves," Ezuri, Renegade Leader deck. As expected, most games ended with serious elf beatdown of the Overrun variety. Between Door of Destinies, Coat of Arms, and Ezuri, the results were carnage and bloodshed. Plus, Chris managed to jam home a Quietus Spike on several occasions for extra beats.

Ezuri, Renegade LeaderDoor of DestiniesCoat of ArmsQuietus Spike

That said, I did eek out a win or two against the pointy-eared onslaught. One win came off the back of a bribed out Worldspine Wurm. What you bribe a wurm of that size with, I'm not sure. Lazav knows, though. So, I'm sitting back on the Wurm, blocking elves when I draw into Grafted Exoskeleton and Whispersilk Cloak. "I'll just put this here and that there. Oh, and attack you for 15 poison... unblockable... with your own wurm-thing. Gross."

BriberyWorldspine WurmGrafted ExoskeletonWhispersilk Cloak

Otherwise, there was a time or two where I activated Duskmantle Guildmage with Traumatize on the stack. Dreads never knew what hit him.

Duskmantle GuildmageTraumatize

I'm still looking forward to playing a larger game where I can develop my sinister plans, Dimir-style. There's nothing quite like making the "What me? I'm no threat" face while deflecting attacks at other opponents. It's also a fun feeling to have other players worried about being milled out when "the win" comes from a totally different direction.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bwahaha! How to be the worst...

If you missed this article, go there now and read it. :)

How to be the Worst EDH Player in the World

Here's a delicious excerpt:

KrazyCaley: Especially avoid any kind of unifying theme. Don't make your deck about octopi and kraken, or time counters, or Thieves' Auction, or anything that will make people think you are creative or out to have fun. The theme of your deck should be winning. Pay no attention at all to questions of flavor, art, unusual card interactions/play states, or wonky, rarely-used generals. In fact, why pay attention at all when you could just grab a ruthlessly optimized decklist of the ol' internet and ruin your friends' desire to play Magic for the rest of the week? It's all a part of what I like to call "dickbuilding," which is really just the best form of deckbuilding.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dungeons & Dragons with Magic Cards

Getting together to play Magic with friends is one of my favorite past-times. Last weekend, I had a chance to briefly test out some alternate rules I've been working on to play Magic with a twist. Try playing Magic as a dungeon crawler with these alternate rules.

You can check out the alternate rules for "Encounter Magic" here. The cool part is that it's easy to try since you can use whatever decks you have laying around. And, it would be pretty neat to use your Commander deck on the player side of the encounter. It has a co-op element that turns Magic on its side and it's quick.