Friday, April 26, 2013

Lazav Without Poison

I'm not saying that poison was over the top, but if you're looking for a little Lazav with a lot less poison, here are the following changes I made to my Dimir State of Mind deck:

- Glistening Oil
- Corrupted Conscience
- Phyresis
- Tainted Strike
- Grafted Exoskeleton
- Temporal Aperture
- Whispering Madness

+ Decree of Pain
+ Damnation
+ Diabolic Servitude
+ Blatant Thievery
+ Control Magic
+ Dauthi Embrace
+ Trepanation Blade

Grafted Exoskeleton is pretty darn good, even if you aren't playing poison. It dishes out poison, makes your creatures a big threat, and can be used until it's dealt with. It's worth keeping in, but I wanted to switch things up.

I do love Temporal Aperture. I do. It's just that most of the weekend EDH crowd where I play has the power level turned up to 11. I lose to combo most weeks. I'm not ready to go combo myself just yet, so when I play a spell I need it to work. Temporal Aperture turns up a land 30%-40% of the time.

Decree of Pain and Damnation give me the ability to sweep. I don't like to resort to it, but you see what they make me do!

When Dimir subtlety isn't enough, sometimes you have to resort to Blatant Thievery!

Since creatures with Shadow are so rare, Dauthi Embrace basically makes your guys unblockable. It has the added benefit of making your opponents' key creatures unable to block for the times when you want to mess with them.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dragon's Maze Spoiler: Mirko Vosk, Blood Baron, Deadbridge Chant, and more!

We are knee-deep in spoiler season for Dragon's Maze. As of this post, we are about halfway there. Check out the full list so far at

Yes, there are quite a few cards left to be revealed. But at this point, there aren't any cards that are slapping me in the face. There's a new "fuse" thing going on with split cards, but because of the "color identity rule," most of the split cards will only fit into three-color decks. That's not a bad thing, but those cards are competing with some of the "best" cards in three colors, so they will have to offer serious utility to edge the old cards out.

I tend to play blue, black, or blue/black. Sometimes red shows up to make it into a Grixis party, but almost always with blue/black mixing the drinks and music. Let's look at some of the cards that fit the bill along with a few others interesting options.

Up first, Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker:

This guy fits perfectly in my Lazav, Dimir State of Mind deck. At 5cc mana, he has the same casting cost as Consuming Aberration. Is he that good, though? Not really. He does have built in evasion with flying, but otherwise he needs to deal combat damage to trigger the mill effect, it only affects one player (the one taking the damage) and he doesn't get big and scary like the Consuming Aberration does from growing the graveyard. On the plus side, his trigger is four lands. That can be a savage mill depending on who you hit and when. All-in-all, he looks like a good card to support a milling strategy in Commander and I know I'll be looking for one when the set is released.

What else is on the menu for Dimir?

Warped Physique doesn't really make the cut. It's too situational, in my book. I also wouldn't run the new Cluestone over something else (like Mind Stone, for example).

Far // Away is one of the new "fuse" cards. Fuse allows you to cast one or both of the halves of the single card from your hand. In other words, this is two cards printed on one piece of cardboard. And the fuse mechanic allows you to cast them both if you are so inclined. There are some differences between how this actually functions vs other modal/utility cards, but what it boils down to is that for a total of 5 mana in two colors, Far // Away lets you bounce one creature and cause the sacrifice of another. I'm not sure that it earns a slot in one of my decks, but it's clean and the design makes sense.

With Breaking // Entering, we are moving into Grixis territory. I do love me some Nicol Bolas, so it's not an unknown color trio at my end of the table, but let's take a look at how this card works. For 2cc mana, the Breaking side of this card mills 8 cards from one player at sorcery speed. Deck slots in Commander are valuable, so that alone isn't going to work for me - even if my main strategy is to mill. Tack on the Entering side of the card for 6cc and you've got a way to steal a creature from an opponent or reanimate one of your own. With haste! There are probably better cards for this, even cards with better utility. Beacon of Unrest jumps to mind. For a total of 8cc mana, you can fuse the two halves together and do both. At 8cc mana, I'm looking for big spell effects. I can imagine a situation where you grab a hasted beast with this, but Entering does that just fine without crossing your fingers and hoping that Breaking gives you a good target.

Blood Baron of Vizkopa has some great flavor. I like the idea of this vampire getting crazy and going in for the kill. I can see him sitting there, all serene and baron-like, then suddenly transforming into a savage, flying killer! And hey, a 4/4 lifelinker with two protection colors is a welcome addition to the Orzhov team. With the addition of Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, the old temptation to play white/black is crawling its way back. Not only is she sexy, but she does a bunch of cool stuff. At 7cc mana, she's costly. But, Orzhov makes for a great color pair, and Teysa's artwork is cool. This is a card to pick up even if I never get around to building a deck with it.

I don't normally play black / green. But this is the first card that made me say, "That's cool!" Cool, with an exclamation mark. Reanimating creatures is a hobby of mine. Doing it every turn off one card without spending additional mana like going pro. Plus, you can get your utility spells back with it too. It's random, so you'll need to "embrace the chaos," but I can get into that. Hey, I like the cards I put into my decks in the first place, so having a chance to play those cards again sounds like a big win to me. Singularity

Possibility Storm is one of those wacky cards like Naked Singularity that makes everyone at the table either grin or cringe. Unlike Naked Singularity, players will get to play spells most of the time with Possibility Storm, but the spells they play will be pretty darn random. Throwing this into a deck that already gives people grief will be easy. I can't wait to hear the "Possibility Storm" stories after the set comes out. "So, he's sitting there ready to swing with lethal damage next turn. I have no way out. I cast Pyroclasm, exile it, and reveal until I hit Insurrection. Boom. Game over." Better lucky than good. :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dragon's Maze Spoiler: Master of Cruelties, and Melek, Izzet Paragon

Check out the Dragon's Maze spoiler as it develops at MTGSalvation.

Up first, presenting Master of Cruelties: Kathari

What we have here is a demon that reads, "Wait, it does what?"

As a 1/4 for 5cc in two colors, the stat line by itself isn't impressive. But being on the receiving end of the first strike / deathtouch combo punch, that's no joke. Facing down a Pestilent Kathari is pretty cruel all by itself.

While Master of Cruelties doesn't fly and is restricted to only attacking alone, he does create a cruel conundrum on the other side of the table. Do I want to block and lose a creature? Or, do I want to take the damage. With this guy, you almost never want to take the damage. Because when he hits you, he pounds you down. Mind you, he can't kill you. But he can push you to the edge.

The other guy that caught my eye is Melek, Izzet Paragon: Sight

Why did he catch my eye? Well, because one of my favorite cards is Future Sight. While Melek won't let you cast any card from your library the way that Future Sight will, he does offer neat Izzet copying action. Plus, as a legend, he can be used as your Commander to create a mind-bending Izzet deck. Playing two spells for the price of one? Now that's value!

Pure Evil

The past couple of weekends, I've had the opportunity to play Commander at my Friendly Local Gaming Store. It's been great! There's nothing quite like meeting new people over a game of Magic.

Playing the Lazav (Dimir State of Mind) deck was cool. I got a lot of positive comments. No one else had Lazav at any of the tables (or even U/B). While the deck worked as I expected, this particular pile of cards created tedious moments where timing was important or a trigger would affect everyone. Simple things, like the Sepulchral Primordial ability when it comes into play, would turn into a game-stopping spectacle as I resorted to simply asking everyone to pick a good creature from the graveyard and hand it over.

Lazav, Dimir MastermindSepulchral Primordial

Lazav himself (along with library milling) was another game-stopping culprit. "Hang on, everyone. Mill one player at a time so that I can choose what I want to copy." That quickly turned into, "Just mill and let me know if you hit anything good." Most of the time people were cool about it and understood that I was trying to speed up the game, but there's always that one guy. Plus, as the "new guy" no one really knows where you are coming from. Are you just there to grief them?

So, I put the mono-black Demons deck back together. It's still called Get Ready for Griselbrand, even though he hangs out on the sidelines while Lord of the Void takes his place. I like to imagine that he's calling the shots from down low. Demons is a straight-forward beat-fest, for the most part. In general, one or two things happen per turn. I don't have to worry so much about triggers. And I rarely play anything that affects everyone with the exception of board wipe spells. Those are all-too-familiar in the format, so no trouble there.

Lord of the VoidDamnation

I'm not saying that I'll never play Lazav at a large table again. But, do I really want to be calling people out on rules and timing all game? No, not really.

Demons is Pure Evil. Not the strongest deck. But evil. True Evil, on the other hand, is something else entirely. There's a guy at the store who brings a combo deck to the table every week. I haven't been in his pod yet, but I'm sure the day will come. When it does, I'll be running Arcanis (Braids) Brings Eldrazi. Not because it will win, but because I won't feel terrible for bringing a time-walking, mana-ramping, Anihillation-triggering, creature-stealing, blue deck to a "fun" game of Commander when the guy sitting two chairs down misses the point entirely and kills everyone on the fourth turn.

Kozilek, Butcher of TruthUlamog, the Infinite Gyre