Welcome to Andi’s Games Realm!

Welcome one and all to this here my new blog!

If I may introduce myself real quickly: My name is Andi, I am a mid-twenties artist, designer of board and card games, fledgling book author among other things but first and foremost, I am a notorious nerd – a fact to which I freely admit, hell, I am even proud of it!!

Fear not! It is I, Andi, wearing my Biomechanic Dino Battles shirt!

This is not my first blog. For example I have been posting a lot on the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG over at http://www.casualyugiohwithandi.wordpress.com but I felt, as I have many more more or less obscure hobbies and interests, the Yu Gi Oh blog was not enough and not the right place to post about all the other geeky stuff I am enjoying to do so this is the reason why I created this here blog.

On here I will be posting about various things from Trading Card Games I enjoy playing such as Magic: the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh as well as more obscure TCGs and tabletop games in general, to the games I have designed and am designing myself to the video games I like to play (I am into retro stuff and handhelds!) etc.

Please everyone subscribe if you are interested in the ramblings of a lowly gamer nerd like myself and do not hesitate to leave nasty comments on my posts. Well nice ones are acceptable as well.

If you want to learn more about my activities here on the world wide web, I recommend you visit some of my other websites and blogs, depending on what you are interested in most:

  • Check out Andi’s artwork at his facebook portfolio.
  • Learn more about Andi’s fantasy-themed Customizable Card Game “Elemental Clash” over here.
  • Check out Andi’s World-War-2-themed Customizable Card Game “Panzer Clash” here.
  • You are interested in Space Clash, Andi’s sci-fi-themed Customizable Card Game, then click here.
  • You are more into Deckbuilding Games á la “Dominion”? Check out Biomechanic Dino Battles.
  • You are as fond of the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG as Andi. Check out his Yu-Gi-Oh blog over yonder.

Well that should be enough to keep you busy for the time being. All that remains for me to say right now is have yourself a geekily good time on my new blog!

I am looking forward to your comments and feedback!

Kind regards from Austria,

Andi

MTG: A Kickass (??) New Modern Deck + A Legacy Experiment

Dear readers! Fellow friends and fans of the amazing Magic: the Gathering TCG!

Due to huge workload and other diversions, I haven’t been able to post anything about my favorite CCG (besides Elemental Clash of course!) in quite some time, or any post for that matter, in the more recent past. However, after testing some new, kinda experimental M:tG Decks, I felt the urge to share the results of said test-runs of a maybe more-than-decent Modern Deck on the one hand and a highly experimental and possibly very frail Legacy Format Deck (You’d consider it a powerful Casual Deck in any case….) with you, my valued readers in the form of another of my notorious “Decks ‘n Strategy” articles. So let’s get right to the matter on hand! In the following I shall at first provide you with the full card list of each deck followed by my thoughts on each deck as well as the strategy and “deck-tech” involved with each. Let me start with what I personally think COULD be quite a competitive Modern Deck. So here comes…

Andi’s NEW GWB “The Rock” (Modern Format):

Creatures…20

4 x Birds of Paradise G

4 x Noble Hierarch G

4 x Fleecemane Lion GW

4 x Loxodon Smiter 1GW

4 x Siege Rhino 1GWB

Instants…8

4 x Abrupt Decay GB

4 x Harrow 2G

Sorceries…3

3 x Maelstrom Pulse 1GB

Enchantments…4

4 x Rancor G

Planeswalkers…3

3 x  Ajani, Mentor of Heroes 3GW

Lands…22

10 x Forest

2 x  Plains

2 x Swamp

4 x Sunpetal Grove

4 x Woodland Cemetery

About the Deck:

First I want to note two things: For once, this particular deck’s cast of Creatures is quite awesome in terms of cost efficiency (speaking of Mana not of Dollars! :P). Have a look at these 3 butt-kicking guys (with the one on the right giving me the igniting spark for building this deck in the first place!):

Lion - Loxodon - Rhino Composite

So, notice something? Yeah! Each of these guys is “stronger” in terms of Power and/or Toughness than their actual converted Mana Cost. Furthermore, each of those has some more or less useful additional abilitie(s) to top that off. I remember vividly how popular Watchwolf was back in the days of the first Ravnica Block. Now Fleecemane Lion, even though you won’t be able to make him “Monstrous” in most of your games, makes the old Watchwolf obsolete, as the Lion is absolutey superior to it. Loxodon Smiter is great as well, being a 4/4 beatstick with two situationally useful additional abilities and laslty Siege Rhino has great stats for 4 Mana as well plus its effect can kill off a “near-death” opponent who managed to put up their defenses just in time, by making them lose 3 life just as a bonus to what would be quite a decent Creature even without the life gain / life loss ability. And what puzzles me most: Why the hell aren’t they more expensive? None of the above cards stands higher than $ 2.50 USD a piece. Well, good for me!😀

Secondly I would like to point out, regarding the make-up of this deck, that I really tried to go for the best use of its Mana Curve. Your odds of having avaialable 3 Mana of various colors are quite high with a playset of Birds and Hierarchs each. Now in the very likely case you got either a Bird or a Hierarch in your starting hand, you have many options what to do on your second turn: You could just drop an uncounterable 4/4 Loxodon Smiter for once. Also, Harrow would be perfect for diversifying your mana-base and preventing mana-screw to some degree. What is great about Harrow is that you get the 2 lands into play untapped. If you searched for a Forest and a Plains you can follow up with Fleecemane Lion so you just ramped some mana AND got a 3/3 Beater on top of that. Alternatively, you could search for a Swamp and a Forest and keep them untapped to eradicate some low cost but bothersome card during your opponent’s turn by means of Abrupt Decay:

What a marvellous card! Suck this, Liliana of the Veil!!

But even if you draw neither Harrow nor Loxodon Smiter you can put your 3 mana on turn 2 to decent use. For instance you could play Fleecemane Lion and enchant it with a Rancor right after that. That will give you a 5/2 Tramper on turn 2, which isn’t too shabby either…

All in all I think this deck is a real powerhorse, with many powerful and cost-efficient cards, featuring heavy aggro elements in the form of its supreme Creatures as well as some decent control (Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse – I decided against Path to Exile, which would have been an option too, and went with the former two!), as well as a well-thought through Mana Curve. One word of caution: If you happen to have neither Bird nor Hierarch in your opening hand, draw a fresh one….😛

Oh and I almost forgot: Putting 3 +1/+1 Counters on your puny, flying birds (or whatever other awesome Creature you got handy, on each of your turns thanks to Ajani, Mentor of Heroes is quite an awesome thing to do too!!

OK, that’d be about all about this pretty straightforward Modern Deck creation of mine. I for one would dare bring it to the next tourney and give it a spin!😀

On to the next deck!

But first a fair warning: I know and realize fully that the below deck would be torn to shreds by Force of Will’s, Dazes and whatnot. The list you will see next is more supposed for casual play. However I will present you with an alternative decklist that MIGHT just barely do the trick in a competitive Legacy Environment. And lastly, before I share my highly experimental deck list with you, I would like to point out that I am not the kind of MtG player who likes to win on turn 2. The following deck however, has that capability… in theory!😉 OK here it comes already:

Andi’s Angelic Reanimator (Cheapo/Fun/Casual Version):

Creatures…7

4 x Putrid Imp B

1 x Anger 3R

1 x Iona, Shield of Emeria 6WWW

1 x Avacyn, Angel of Hope 7WWW

Instants…4

4 x Dark Ritual B

Sorceries…20

4 x Entomb B

4 x  Faithless Looting R

4 x Exhume 1B

4 x Buried Alive 2B

4 x Damnation 2BB

Enchantments…4

4 x Animate Dead 1B

Artifacts…3

3 x Nevinyrral’s Disk 4

Lands…22

13 x Swamp

9 x Mountain

About the Deck:

So yeah, as they released the “From the Vault: Angels” Special Pack, I FINALLY got myself a copy of…

…as well as the awesome…

…originally just for use in my quite kickass Kaalia of the Vast Commander /  EDH Deck. But as I held these two shiny, winged super-babes in hands, I had yet another idea… The idea of an Angelic Reanimator Deck using these two as your main weapons! Again I do realize that the deck as it stands above would be torn to shreds in a competitive Legacy Environment, even if you drew perfect hands all the time and got out either Iona or Avacyn on turn 2 (which happens quite consistantly, more consistantly as I had expected actually, after our first test runs), as everyone would be all over the Deck with Force of Will and it’s ilk and furthermore, there are approximately a hundred ways to completely get rid of Avacyn and Iona pretty easily and cheaply… Just imagine your opponent letting you discard them or countering them or rather the reanimation Spell you’d be using and then follow up with a Surgical Extraction or Extirpate etc etc. Opponents removing your Graveyard would also be a highly likely possibility to tear the deck apart fair and square. Anyways, for casual play, the deck proved to be very efficient and worked out pretty well even with the sub-par deck list above. At this point I have to note I SHOULD have 4 Bloodstained Mires (The Red/Black Fetchlands) and ideally 4 Badlands (the old, original Black-Red Duals) or at least 4 Blood Crypt (The newer, Red/Black “Shockland” Duals)  in the deck. But as this was just an experiment of mine, I went with all basic lands – the 9 Mountains I am running are simply in for the sake of making Anger work (well and for using Faithless Looting as a mean to discard Avacyn and/or Iona when stuck in your hand as well as to cycle through your deck to some extent.).

But we haven’t talked about the basic plan with this deck yet!! So it is really pretty easy, if not to say stupid… You drop Avacyn or Iona into your Graveyard through Entomb or Dark Ritual + Buried Alive (or through discarding them through Putrid Imp or Faithless Looting if they happen to be stuck in your opening hand) on turn 1. On turn 2 you would favorably cast Exhume, which costs just 1B and lets each player put any 1 of their Creatures from their Graveyards onto the battlefield. In most cases your oppoenent won’t have any Creatures there whilst you can reanimate Iona, Shield of Emeria against Mono-Color Decks (which would mean instant win pretty much) or decks that rely heavily on one color (blue would be a good choice against many common Legacy builds), or Avacyn, Angel of Hope for a less instantaneous win. There is the second option of using the obscure, old Enchantment Animate Dead on turn two if you don’t have Exhume handy.

There is a little bit more to the deck such as nasty tricks with Damnation and especially Nevinyrral’s Disk in conjunction with Avacyn. Use Damnation with Avacyn out as a one-sided Creature board sweeper and, even nastier, eradicate all opponent Creatures, Artifacts and Enchantments for a mere 1 generic Mana with the Disk. With Avacyn making everything you own indestructible, the Disk will be so too. And since they forgot (??) to include a “sacrifice this” clause on Nevinyrral’s Disk, you can activate it and it will survive to “strike again” next turn as it would survive its own mass-destruction effect.

But yeah, once again, the above deck is only sub-par and in general not fit for a competitive Legacy environment (not to speak of me not being a big fan of turn 2 wins), unless you have a ton of luck, which, of course, is not a basis for running a certain deck in a tournament.

Well, if I had some money to throw out of the window, I think I could make this one work, or at least work more consistantly in a competitive environment. Let me show you an alternative approach to how this could actually work every other game in a Legacy Tournament.

(Note: I won’t ever invest in getting 4 Polluted Mires, let alone 4 Badlands for a Deck like this I wouldn’t enjoy in particular even if it won me tourney after tourney – not that that would be very likely even with a more streamlined approach as to be seen below)

Andi’s Angelic Reanimator (Dead-Fucking-Serious Legacy Version):

Creatures…7

4 x Putrid Imp B

1 x Anger 3R

1 x Iona, Shield of Emeria 6WWW

1 x Avacyn, Angel of Hope 7WWW

Instants…8

4 x Dark Ritual B

4 x Surgical Extraction B

Sorceries…20

4 x Entomb B

4 x Duress B

4 x Cabal Therapy B

4 x Reanimate B

4 x Exhume 1B

Artifacts…7

4 x Lotus Petal 0

3 x Nevinyrral’s Disk 4

Lands…18

4 x Bloodstained Mire

4 x Blood Crypt (Or Badlands if I had a ton of money to waste…)

10 x Swamp

About the Deck:

On the one hand this deck is even faster with more mana acceleration in the form of Lotus Petal and cheaper reanimation in the form of Reanimate (the immense Life Loss coming with that one wouldn’t bother me at all) and on the other hand, it has a lot of disruptive cards, which are all cheap (mana-wise) as well, such as Cabal Therapy or Duress. Both of these are Force-of-Will-Killers and my first move when I see I am playing against a Legacy Deck with Blue would be Swamp –> Cabal Therapy for Force of Will. Also you can remove any pesky card (like, once again, Force of Will etc) from the opponent’s deck, hand and graveyard at basically no cost but 2 Life (or 1 black mana, which is a good deal as well if you can afford it) by means of Surgical Extraction.

The optimal scenario against a Deck without “Forces” would be something like this:

Turn 1: Bloodstained Mire –> Blood Crypt, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual – Produce 4 Black Mana. Play Buried Alive for Anger, Avacyn and Iona. Then use the remaining B for Reanimate to get out either Avacyn or Iona, depending on your assessment of the opponent deck, pay a fuckton of life, then attack for 6 or 7 damage…. What an opening!!😀

Alternatively, when playing against Blue which will in most cases DO have Force of Will etc, a more secure but slower aproach. Scenario 2:

Turn 1: Swamp, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual – Produce 4 Black Mana. Use 1 of that for Cabal Therapy on FoW or Duress and make sure your opponent has nothing to stop you. 3 Black Mana Remaining. Use Entomb for 1 Black and put either Avacyn or Iona,  whichever you deem best, into your graveyard. Then either Exhume for the remaining 2 Mana OR Reanimate to bring back Iona or Avacyn. The latter will leave you with one surplus black mana. You could have used this earlier for a second Duress or a Duress followed by a Cabal Therapy. On the other hand you can just “hardcast” Surgical Extraction or pay the 2 Life to exile any bothersome card(s) you may have pulled by means of Duress and/or Cabal Therapy… So while you won’t be able to attack on your first day you will have one huge, hard to get rid off Angel in play on turn 1 that will send chills down any sane opponent’s spine. Lastly, I would like to note that all this doesn’t mean instant win. You still need to be careful for sacrifice stuff like Liliana of the Veil or a humble 1 black Mana Innocent Blood. But again, that would be something your Duresses and Cabal Therapies could deal with as well.

OK I think I have made my point by demonstrating how insanely fast you can get out your Iona or Avacyn, whichever you deem more efficient in any given matchup and would like to say in a closing note, that even with the much faster and more secure second approach to what started as a fun idea for casual play, I am still not convinced whether or not my Angelic Reanimator Deck from hell would stand a chance in a real-life, competitive Legacy environment. But I would be willing to try and find out – maybe I shoul “dust off” MTGO, which I haven’t played in a looong time, and see if I can afford to assemble the second Angelic Reanimator approach and give it a spin…

Anyways, thank you all for your time and interest in reading my latest MtG Decks & Strategy article. I hope you enjoyed it and would be thrilled if you’d leave me an educated, constructive comment on either of the above decks!

See you next time and until then, as always,

HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi

EC: Guest Article – “Battling Spellcasters”

Dear friends and fans of the Elemental Clash Customizable Card Game!

This time it is not I who will treat you to a nice, EC-related article, but rather an enthusiastic Elemental Clash fan, David Hassell from the United States of America will “take the stand” and share some interesting insights from his Elemental Clash experiences in the following article or session report!! So let’s hear it from David!!

(Many thanks to David for his enthusiasm for the game and for taking the time to pen this detailed report!)

Last note before we get to David’s session report: You can check all cards mentioned at www.elementalclash.info!

Guest Article David Hassell - Battling Spellcasters Medium


Battling Spellcasters!

Prisma vs Scalden

 

Prisma of the Many Colors

This Spellcaster grabbed my attention from the start, because I love the idea of putting together multi-element decks. How did I do? Here’s the list:

 

Ball Lightning x 3

Dragonslayer x 2

Jupiter-Stormmaster x 2

Archdemon x 2

Fandi of the Flaming Eye x 1

Algorn, Wizard Adept x 1

Greater Catfish x 3 (I love to eat fried catfish, and I love putting this in a deck)

 

Lightning Strike x 2

Mist Cloak x 2

Mars’ Rage x 3 (Oh, yeah! Mars’ Rage + Mist Cloak + Archdemon = PAIN!)

Siren’s Call x 3

Earth Ritual x 3 (I wanted 7, but that’s cheating)

 

Jupiter Stone x 2 / Mars Stone x 2 / Mercury Stone x 1 / Venus Stone x 2 = not that it matters with Prisma

Hastestone x 3

Powerstone x 3

====================

 

Scalden Deathbringer

Ouch! This Spellcaster pretty much shuts down any 1 Defense creature from getting on the table. Then you can flip Scalden later in the game to take down an annoying creature and unleash your creatures’ attack power. Nasty!

 

Cosmic Griffin x 3

Cumulus x 3 (I fear this creature. I really do.)

Elder of the Skies x 3

Merman Meddler x 2

 

Protective Sphere x 2

Repulse x 2

Negate x 2

Royal Shattering x 3

Shattering Wave x 3 (these last two can really shut down the opponent)

 

Jupiter Stone x 3

Mercury Stone x 3

Miststone x 3

Powerstone x 3

====================

At the start of the battle, Scalden has to mulligan down to a 5-card hand. The first 7-card hand only had one Stone, the free mulligan flooded his hand with Stones, the 6-card hand had no stones at all, so he’ll settle with a 5-card hand. Since he’s starting with a low 35-card Spellbook and he draws 2 cards per turn, that may not be a liability. You do need to be careful about deliberately using the mulligan rule to draw down to fewer cards, because a bad run of luck can hurt you.

Prisma uses her free mulligan and is happy with her 7-card hand.

Scalden is first, so he can’t draw any cards. He establishes his first Element Stone Stack with a dual-element Miststone (Air/Water).

Prisma builds her first Element Stone Stack, but also doesn’t cast anything.

Scalden draws two cards and pumps his first Stack to 2-level. I’ll say “x-level” to indicate an Element Stone Stack can produce x elements. He casts Cumulus. Due to Scalden’s Static Ability, all creatures have -1/-1. That will lower Cumulus from 2/2 to a 1/1 creature, though his special ability allows him to discard for a temporary +1/+2 boost for each card discarded. Prisma also has to make certain she doesn’t cast any creatures with a printed defense of 1, because the -1/-1 will bring it to 0 defense, which destroys creatures.

Prisma plays a Hastestone into her first Stack, bringing it to 2-level. That allows her to cast a Greater Catfish. The Hastestone gives the Catfish the Quickattacker Ability, so the Catfish is treated as if it was in the Attack Zone. It attacks Scalden for 1 point of damage. Scalden does have the option to use his Flip Ability to purge the Catfish before the damage goes through. That would remove the -1/-1 static impact on creatures, but it’s very important to time your spells, creatures, abilities, and attacks properly.

Scalden deploys the Cumulus into the Attack Zone. He establishes his second Stack with a Jupiter Stone (Air), then casts a Protective Sphere Permanent Spell on it. Permanent Spells occupy the Stack until the end of game or until some spell or effect is able to remove it. The Element Stone in that Stack will stay there, but it’s not needed in order to keep the Permanent Spell in place. That means that Scalden has the option to target that Jupiter Stone with either his Royal Shattering or Shattering Wave spell.

The Protective Sphere protects Scalden’s Air Creatures from opponent’s spells and abilities, and Cumulus is an Air Creature. The Cumulus attacks for 1 point of damage. Scalden casts a second Cumulus.

Prisma deploys her Catfish into her Attack Zone. She establishes her second Stack with a Mars Stone. Prisma’s Static Ability allows all her Basic Element Stones to produce any element, so she doesn’t have to worry about matching the proper element with the spells/creatures she casts. The Catfish could try to attack Scalden’s Cumulus that’s in Scalden’s Attack Zone, but Scalden could discard a card to pump it where the Catfish would be destroyed but the Cumulus survives. The Catfish attacks Scalden’s Spellbook instead for 1 damage, and a Shattering Wave Boons.

Scalden could target his Jupiter Stone that’s tied up by the Protective Sphere. That would give him an effective 1-life boost, since cards in the Spellbook = life in Elemental Clash. He decides it would be more productive to try to reduce Prisma’s stacks. Scalden targets Prisma’s Hastestone, and the Hastestone goes to the top of Prisma’s Spellbook. Yes, that does give Prisma the effective 1-life boost, but an attack from Scalden can put the stone from the Spellbook into the Archive, removing it from play.

Scalden deploys the second Cumulus into the Attack Zone, and places a Stone into the first stack to make it 3-level. The first Cumulus attacks for 1 point of damage, and that takes out the Hastestone that was put on top of the Spellbook in the prior turn. The second Cumulus attacks for 1 damage. With only four cards in his hand, Scalden doesn’t want to pump Cumulus unless necessary. Scalden casts a Cosmic Griffin and ends his turn.

Prisma has another Hastestone in her hand, and she plays it to her first Stack to make it 2-level. She attacks with her Catfish, but first pumps it by casting Mars’ Rage on the second 1-level Stack. That delivers 4 damage to Scalden, and another Shattering Wave Boons. Scalden targets the pesky Hastestone, sending to the top of Prisma’s Spellbook. Prisma has two 1-level stacks (one currently occupied by the Mars’ Rage Spell), so those Shattering Waves are hurting her ability to cast high-cost cards. She decides to “heal” by casting Earth Ritual, which will put the top 3 cards from her Archive underneath her Spellbook.

It’s Scalden’s turn. The Cosmic Griffin goes to the Attack Zone. Scalden plays a dual-element Miststone to start a third Stack. Each of the two Cumulus’ attack for 1 damage apiece, then the Cosmic Griffin (2/1) attacks the Greater Catfish (1/1) directly, destroying both creatures.

Scalden casts a Merman Meddler in the 1-level stack. Merman Meddler can be destroyed to neutralize a creature or spell if the opponent doesn’t destroy one of her Stones. Scalden leaves his 3-level Stack free, because he has a Negate Spell in his hand.

Prisma has to Purge the Earth Ritual on her Stack, then plays a Stone on it to make it 2-level. She casts a Dragonslayer. Scalden doesn’t have any Dragons, but at least it’s a creature for Prisma. She has a 1-cost creature in her hand, but it has a defense of 1. Due to Scalden’s Static Ability, it would be destroyed as soon as it was cast. Such is the way of life.

Scalden deploys the Merman Meddler into his Defense Zone, then casts Royal Shattering to take Prisma’s 2-level Stack to 1-level. At least the Stone was returned to Prisma’s hand instead of getting put on top of her Spellbook.

Both Cumulus’ attack Prisma for 1 damage apiece. Scalden follows by casting a Cosmic Griffin.

Prisma deploys the Dragonslayer into her Defense Zone, where it could at least block one of the Cumulus’. Scalden has a Merman Meddler in his Defense Zone and would be able to block the Dragonslayer’s attack.

Oh, but the Merman Meddler has a -1 attack value, so the Merman would be destroyed if it did block. Change of plans! The Dragonslayer goes into the Attack Zone instead. This was all done before Prisma drew a card, so she’s still within her Standby Phase.

She attacks with her Dragonslayer. Blocking is optional, and Scalden decides that he wants to hold onto the Merman to neutralize something potentially nastier.

Prisma plays a Stone back onto the first Stack to make it 2-level, then casts a second Dragonslayer

Scalden’s 2-card draw and low deck size is starting to hurt him. His Spellbook is down to 13 cards, and he’s going to draw two of them this turn. Prisma has 25 cards in her Spellbook.

Ok, Scalden deploys the Cosmic Griffin to the Attack Zone, then draws 2 cards. He then uses his Flip ability to Purge the Dragonslayer on Prisma’s Element Stack. This will eliminate the -1/-1 Static Ability, so his creatures will be able to attack at full value. He targets the Dragonslayer on the Stack instead of the one in the Attack Zone, because Scalden wants to attack it. He discards a Protective Sphere from his hand to pump one of his Cumulus (3/4), then attacks the Dragonslayer (2/2) with the pumped Cumulus.

Before continuing the attack, Scalden casts Shattering Wave to take one of the stones off Prisma’s 2-level Stack and place it on top of her Spellbook. Yes, that gives her “1 life,” but the next attack will put it into the Archive. She attacks with the Cosmic Griffin for 3 damage. A Greater Catfish Boons, and Prisma places it into her Defense Zone.

I believe the Merman Meddler can try to neutralize the Booned Catfish. Even though Boon is an ability and the Catfish would not be placed on a Stack, the Boon does allow the creature/spell to be played at no cost. However, Negate and Omnia’s Flip Ability wording seems to indicate that you can only neutralize cards cast on a Stack. I’ll play on assuming that you can’t neutralized something that was triggered by Boon.

Scalden still has a Cumulus that hasn’t attacked, and he discards a card to pump the Cumulus (3/4) and attacks. Will the Catfish (3/3) block? Prisma takes the damage. Scalden leaves his 3-level Stack free so he can use his Negate if necessary.

Prisma leaves her Catfish in the Defense Zone. She has two 1-defense creatures in her hand that she couldn’t play when Scalden’s -1/-1 ability was active, but now she can play them. She casts Algorn, Wizard Adept. He has immunity from spells and effects, so he can’t be neutralized. Prisma then casts Fandi of the Falming Eye (I think that’s supposed to be Flaming). Scalden destroys the Merman, and Prisma decides she can’t afford to destroy one of her meager two stones.

Scalden moves one of his Cumulus to the Defense Zone. He plays a Powerstone on the third stack to make it 2-level, then casts Cumulus. The Powerstone gives the Cumulus a +1/+1 counter.

Scalden declares the Cumulus in the Attack Zone as an attacker, and Prisma decides not to block with the Catfish. Scalden then discards a card to pump the Cumulus (3/4) before delivering the 3 points of damage. Although not specified in the rules, it is customary to declare an attacker, cast spells/abilities, declare blockers, cast spells/abilities, then resolve damage.

The Cosmic Griffin (3/2) attacks, despite the fact that the Catfish could block and take it out. Prisma’s Spellbook is running low now, so she decides to block the damage, and both the Catfish and the Griffin are destroyed.

Prisma deploys Algorn to the Defense Zone, then plays a Stone into her first Stack to make it 2-level.  That’s all she can do.

Scalden deploys the Cumulus into the Attack Zone, then moves the Cumulus from the Defense Zone into Attack. He has three Cumulus on the attack!

Algorn decides not to block the first two attacks, and 4 points of damage go through. An Earth Ritual Boons, so three cards are transferred from Prisma’s Archive to the bottom of her Spellbook.

The third Cumulus (3/4 pumped) attacks. Algorn decides to take the damage, and Scalden opts not to pump it further by discarding Negate, because that Negate might come in handy. Actually, Algorn could destroy himself to neutralize Negate if it comes out. Ooo, decisions, decisions!

Another Earth Ritual Boons (the final of the three copies in Prisma’s deck), “healing” 3 points of that damage.

Prisma draws a Powerstone and is able to finally (!) build her first Stack to 3-level. She casts a Jupiter-Stormmaster, and the Powerstone gives her a +1/+1 counter. Scalden casts Negate to neutralize the Jupiter-Stormmaster, and Algorn destroys himself to neutralize the Negate. Working back through the spell stack, Algorn and Negate go to their respective Archives, and the Jupiter-Stormmaster goes through. Her Play-Effect sends the Cumulus with the +1/+1 counter back to Scalden’s hand.

Scalden moves one of his two Cumulus to his Defense Zone, then attacks with the one remaining in the Attack Zone for 2 damage. He then casts Elder of the Skies onto the 3-level stack, then casts Cumulus onto the third stack with the Powerstone to pick up the+1/+1.

Prisma deploys Jupiter-Stormmaster to her Defense Zone. Both Spellbooks are running low, and she’s hoping Scalden’s 2-card draw per turn will finish him off. She casts Greater Catfish onto the Powerstone Stack. She’ll leave her 1-level stack free for the Mars’ Rage card in her hand.

Scalden draws and casts a Royal Shattering to return Prisma’s stone in her open 1-level stack to her hand. I think she could play Mars’ Rage before the Royal Shattering resolves, but she opts not to.

The Elder of the Skies is unblockable, so it attacks first for 3 damage. The non-pumped Cumulus declares an attack, and Prisma decides not to block. Scalden discards both of the cards in his hand to pump it, and 4 damage goes through. A Greater Catfish Boons into the Defense Zone!

Scalden decides to attack with the last Cumulus (3/3), knowing that if Prisma blocks, the Cumulus would take out one of the blockers in the Defense Zone. Prisma has to block, and chooses her Catfish to block. The Catfish and Cumulus are destroyed.

Prisma deploys the Catfish into the Attack Zone, and moves Jupiter-Stormmaster from Defense to Attack. She plays her Mars Stone to set up a 1-level Stack, then declares the Catfish (3/3) as an attacker. Since the Stormmaster has a higher attack value, Scalden decides not to block. Prisma casts a Mars’ Rage to pump the Catfish (6/3), and 6 points of damage go through! That depletes Scalden’s Spellbook.

The game isn’t over. A player only loses if he/she has to draw a card and can’t. However, Scalden can’t pull any tricks from his sleeve. Prisma ends her turn, and Scalden loses the game during his Draw Phase.

Prisma wins the game… with only 3 cards remaining in her Spellbook!

 

Andi’s Retro Game Reviews #1: The Lord of the Rings – the Two Towers for GBA

Dear readers and dear friends of retro videogaming!

Now for something totally different and maybe utterly unexpected: Since this blog is supposed about video games as well, yet I keep publishing post after post about cardboard games (tabletops, such as M:tG or my very own Elemental Clash) without a tiny sign of video games at all. This, my dear friends, is about to change…

…as I invite you to read my first in a series of reviews of Retro Video Games, some I would call hidden gems, for various older consoles, mostly handhelds I would say since I prefer handheld gaming over sitting before a big TV screen with a controller in hand. I will call the series, of which I cannot predict how many episodes I will be publishing over the course of time (maybe it will be a neverending journey into retro-gaming-nerdness!😀 ),

ANDI’S RETRO GAMING REVIEWS

or ARGR for short (that does sound like something a pirate would heartily utter).

We will start this off with something I started playing again quite recently and am massively enjoying, which has given the igniting spark pretty much for doing this new series of game reviews on this here my blog:

The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers for GBA (Gameboy Advance):

LotR TT Startup Screen

Startup Screen

When I think back to when the GBA was THE top notch handheld console of the time (man it must be ages since that), some of my fondest memories of a handheld I love to the very present day come from playing the second episode in a trilogy of games, which let you re-enact the adventurous stories and action of the three Lord of the Rings movies, which are, as I hope the better part of you knows, based on the fantastic and epic novels of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Gameboy Advance adaption of the movies/books turned out really great and engaging from what I remembered, and for one reason or another I found the second installment of the series on the GBA most appealing, hence the review of it here, and I have had hours and hours of fun and enjoyment playing the second game “The Two Towers” through several times with several characters, levelling them up, collecting rare items and unravelling the many hidden secrets. So yeah back then I played the original cartridge on the original device… Nowadays I have my “special” PSP that plays pretty much anything out there so I gave LotR – the Two Towers another try quite recently. And it has lost nothing of its appeal, charm and huge replayability value.

But for all of those unfamiliar with the game, let us begin at the beginning:

This game could be classified as an action RPG or hack and slay/slash game and comes closest to the Diablo I + II experience when it comes to the portable GBA. There may be one even closer to that experience, which I have fond memories and nostalgic feelings about, but I am aware of none better than LotR – The Two Towers so correct me if you know more than I do. To some the game will no doubt feel a bit dull because all you do is basically running around slaughering Orcs and other foul beasts with one out of 5 well-known characters of your choosing at the outset of the game:

Character Selection Screen

Character Selection Screen

At the outset, before you dive right into the action of beating down Sauron’s evil hordes one-by-one, you get to choose your character. The 5 are really really very different in how they play and the game is quite faithful to the novels and movies there. I always start out with Aragorn, who is a close-combat warrior and can learn a skill (each character has their very own set of unlockable active and passive skills – more on that later) to wield two mighty blades at once – my favorite play-style in games like that. The others are Legolas, who is a ranged attacker shooting arrows at distant enemies, then we have Gandalf who wields a staff AND a sword (how awesome is that!) and can learn a ton of devastating magical spells, or Frodo, who is kinda a stealthy character who is probably the hardest one to play the game through with since he is very weak physically. Lastly there is Eowyn. I don’t really get what her benefits in the game are… she just seems like a weaker version of Aragorn, a genuine warrior type of character. Maybe I should give her a real try some time and find out about her qualities!😉

Right after you selected your character, you are treated to something nobody would give a shit about but which blew my mind back then when the game was freshly released and I played it for the first time: An about 10 second long, highly pixelated video sequence of footage taken right out of the movie!!

Still from the Movie Sequence

Still from the Movie Sequence

Back in the days, that WAS something totally kickass and yeah, again, it really blew my mind seeing this on my tiny GBA screen.

Depending on which character you chose, you will start at different locations in the game and furthermore, each of the 5 characters has their very own storyline which is a huge plus for the game all in all as you pretty much get 5 quite different adventures packed into one cartridge. Oh did I say 5 characters?? I know for a fact that some secret stuff is going on in the game (and a quick google search would tell me all about it…) and that you somehow can unlock Gimlie as a 6th playable character. It must be true since on ocassion, you find axes which nobody but Gimlie could wield (equip). I figure it must have to do with finding all of the 8 different, iconic artifacts like the broken sword Narsil or Bilbo’s Map which are hidden throughout the game, and hidden very well I must say…

OK on to the graphics and gameplay:

As Aragorn, whom I choose when I started to play the game again recently, you start out upon leaving Rivendell and you’ll find yourself in a snowy landscape depicted in an isometric persepective, again quite faithful to the Diablo-style hack’n’slay gameplay I mentioned earlier.

The Journey Begins...

The Journey Begins…

Soon, that is after some paces into the wilderness, you will encoutner the first opponents, which are somewhat varied – at the beginning you only get pitchwork wielding Orcs as well as some Archer kind Orcs but as the game progresses you will encounter many more different enemies such as smaller Moria Orcs or Goblins and later on the much stronger Uruk-Hai Orc-Human crossbreeds as well as wolves and other non-Orc Creatures.

Pitchfork Orcs Attack

Pitchfork Orcs Attack

I said above that the game consists mainly of killing Orcs… which is true to some extent, however the rest of the gameplay makes for an engaging gaming experience (at least for fans of the Action Adventure genre) and offers a lot of replay value. Before I  got into what fleshes the simple Orc slaughterfest out to make for a greatly enjoyable game, I should mention that the graphics and especially the movement animations in LoTR – The Two Towers are really well done for a GBA game, confined to SUCH a small screen.

So yeah, you walk around, run into ugly Orcs and kill them. You have a Life Points meter (the red orb in the lower left corner) as well as a Magic Point meter in the lower right corner of the screen (MP will be consumed as you use Active Skills, such as Aragorns healing power, with which he starts the game). In between the two orbs you got another indicator, a green experience point meter. With every slain enemy, the experience meter will go up and once it reached its far end you will level up. And this is where the fun comes in. You can fully customize your character by means of distributing stat points upon level up as well as learn or improve active and/or passive skills by allocating skill points. Each character has their very own, very unique skills such as Aragorns Life Stealing Skill that regenerates some of his health when he damages or kills a foe. Frodo on the other hand can use the ring to sneak past enemies or improve his skills in finding more and more precious items and gems.

Active Skills on the left, Passive Skills on the right

Active Skills on the left, Passive Skills on the right

Gems are the currency in the game. Oh and speaking of items: There are tons and tons  of different items of all kinds such as weapons or protective gear or even amulets etc which are found in treasure chests or dropped by slain enemies. This way you can really customize and power up your hero to your heart’s content and this is what makes this game a gem for me!

Your inventory on the left and your current stats on the right

Your inventory on the left and your current stats on the right

Oh and about halfway into the game, when the mighty Uruk-Hai appear, you will start finding “rare” or “enchanted” or “premium” items or however you can call it. Their name will be written in green letters instead of white as per normal and they usually have some additional powers or effects such as weapons inflicting plus X fire damage or whatnot. You will need these once the Uruks appear, believe me. Oh and then there are the ultra rare items written in red letters. These are really hard to come by but have amazing powers as a matter of course and what is really cool, you can find and recognize items from the books and movies… I remember when one time my character found and wieleded Orcrist, the Orc Slayer which Gandalf finds in a dirty cave in “The Hobbit”!

One tiny detail I shan’t forget to mention: There is an “Orc-Kills” stat on your Status Screen (see above… I killed two when that screenshot was taken… how lame…) and you can actually check how many Orc lives you have taken on you adventure… In the end the number will be in the thousands if I remember correctly haha!!


Well folks that is it for my review of The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers for Gameboy Advance.

I hope you enjoyed my rather brief look into one of my old GBA favorites and hopefully you appreciate my effort to diversify the topics on here a wee bit. You can be looking forward to Episode 2 of Andi’s Retro Game Reviews already as I am playing and massively enjoying SHINING FORCE from the Game Gear, playing on my Nintendo 3DS (yes they sell old classics for cheap on their E-Shop) at the moment. So guess which game will be up next!

Until them I wish you happy gaming as always – be it analog or digital!!😀

Yours,

Andi

MTG: Modern Decks – Some more, some less competitive – featuring: a Guest deck

Dear readers of this here my humble blog! Fellow M:tG aficionados!

It’s been a looong while since I posted ANYTHING on here – far too long actually. But yeah, making a living and real life stuff took its toll on me and it was only yesterday that I was able to complete my massive work on the sequel to the Siralim Retro Roguelike RPG (www.siralim.com), for which I had made literally hundreds of monster and NPC sprites/pixel artworks etc – and just on time. The deadline ended yesterday as a matter of fact!

But now…

I am free again!!

And this means that I can indulge myself in posting some more stuff on here in the near future, until the next paid job pops up! (And just to be clear: I totally enjoyed the pixel work on Siralim 2 and nevertheless I am happy to have finished all and now am able to work on my own stuff and do idle things such as posting about Magic decks again.)

So yeah, long story short, I will treat you to yet another Magic Decks & Strategy article, this time all about

some more or less competitive Modern Format Decks!

So yeah, in the following I will showcase some of my more recent Modern Format Decks, some of which would rather be considered less competitive, but nonetheless original and unique, so basically for Casual play, including a deck built by my good gamer buddy Robin (with the obligatory advice/nagging from my side!).

I would say let’s get right on to the first deck, which will be tantamount to “dropping the bomb” right away, as I would consider this the most competitive among the decks I am about to present to you here. Before I go on to the card list, I must say a few words about this deck which worked out REALLY well in my initial test runs (at home…).

I like to call the Deck

“Modern ‘Drazi-Tron”

I always had a soft spot for the “holy trinity” of Urza Lands, which will produce insane amounts of mana when you manage to gather all 3 on the battlefield (1 Urza’s Tower, 1 Mine and 1 Power Plant will produce exactly 7 Mana!!). I checke the current decklists for Modern Urzatron Decks and disliked what I saw… First off I want my decks to be unique, so even provided that I own one copy of Karn Liberated, and provided I had the money to purchase 3 more to complete the playset, I wouldn’t want to just net-deck the current tourney winning Karn-Tron Decks which seem to be popular and successful these days… So with the advent of Battle for Zendikar, which brought us loads of high cost, generic-mana-requiring Eldrazi behemoths, I had quite a different idea. What also helped were my two copies of my favorite fatty of all time…

…so Eldrazi Urzatron or “‘Drazi-Tron” it would be for me. And so far it seems that the Urza-Lands and some of the old and some of the new Eldrazi were a match made in MtG-heaven. But let me show you the full decklist before I elaborate any further:

Modern Green-Red ‘Drazi-Tron:

Creatures…6

4 x Conduit of Ruin 6

2 x Emrakul, the Eons Torn 15

Sorceries…16

4 x Ancient Stirrings G

4 x Sylvan Scrying 1G

4 x Pyroclasm

4 x All is Dust 7

Artifacts…12

4 x Chromatic Sphere 1

4 x Chromatic Star 1

4 x Expedition Map 1

4 x Oblivion Stone 3

Lands…22

4 x Urza’s Tower

4 x Urza’s Power Plant

4 x Urza’s Mine

2 x Eye of Ugin

4 x Sanctum of Ugin

4 x Karplusan Forest

About the Deck:

Yeah, yeah… this deck runs a lot of staples of any Red Green Modern Urzatron Deck like Chromatic Star/Sphere, Pyroclasm and the obligatory Urza-Land-Fetchers Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying. These all are needed to set the stage not for Karn Liberated nor for Ugin the Spirit Dragon (I still dislike the whole Planeswalker thing to some degree as I must admit) but for some badass Eldrazi, more precisely for two of them; one being Conduit of Ruin, which tutors for the other and makes him cheaper to cast at the same time: I am talking about none other than the big-bad Eldrazi Overlord: Emrakul, the Eons Torn. Eye of Ugin makes not only your Eldrazi Creatures cheaper but also let’s you facilitate All is Dust earlier and more easily, and on top of that, the mighty land serves as a tutor for your (colorless) Eldrazi. Speaking of All is Dust:

This goes perfect with Urza-Tron as you can sweep the board clean off anything of color on turn 3 in the best case scenario, leaving your permanents, which happen to be all colorless, unharmed. In case your opponent plays lots of artifacts or Eldrazi themselves, I packed a playset of Oblivion Stone into the deck – so yeah, one could argue that it is very control-heavy, with 4 Pyroclasms for the small guys and 4 All is Dust and 4 Oblivion Stones for anything else.

The many test games I did already with this particular build went down really really well as I must note and I could swing in for the win without meeting noteworthy opposition with good old Emrakul on turns 6 or 7. I am really glad to have found an original and unique approach to an established archetype, that differs greatly from the decklists I have seen on the web and that is what makes a deck most enjoyable to me, a deck that is not your regular, run-of-the-mill deck to beat just copied off the internet. I am very much looking forward to giving this a try in an actual Modern Format Event nearby as I really think this could have potential – from what I have seen so far!

Alright, on to the next deck: We are going through them in order of competitiveness (based on my gut feeling on each of the decks :P) and again we will see some badass Eldrazi in the following decklist, which is based on land destruction, card draw and amassing of mana by vile, nasty means. The two key Eldrazi Creatures in this deck are the following:

Exhibit A…

and here Exhibit B:

I was SO stoked about breaking both of these new, powerful Eldrazi, and I am not sure if I did it with the following deck approach – maybe these would be more fit for a Legacy deck of sorts (thinking of discarding and reanimating them early on, which would be especially devastating for the opponent in the case of Sire of Stagnation) – but again, it is more about having an unique and original deck than one that wins every single tourney. Lets take a look at what I tried to do with the mighty duo of Oblivion Sower and Sire of Stagnation for Modern or Casual Play:

Eldrazi Landkill (Modern/Casual):

Creatures…9

4 x Oblivion Sower 6

4 x Sire of Stagnation 4UB

1 x Emrakul, the Eons Torn 15

Instants…8

4 x Pyretic Ritual 1R

4 x Seething Song 2R

Sorceries…15

3 x Banefire XR

4 x Pyroclasm 1R

4 x Stone Rain 2R

4 x Molten Rain 1RR

Artifacts…8

4 x Chromatic Star 1

4 x Relic of Progenitus 1

Lands…20

4 x Crumbling Necropolis

4 x Bojuka Bog

4 x Ghost Quarter

8 x Mountain

About the Deck:

The basic idea behind this deck is the following: First off I am going to try to destroy as many opponent lands as possible as early on as possible. With Pyretic Ritual you can start the devastation on turn 2, casting either Stone Rain or Molten Rain. Ambushes of small Creatures can be stopped by means of Pyroclasm. Then I want to get out Sire of Stagnation also soonest, as your opponent will find themselves between a rock and a hard place when they are forced to play more lands because I am destroying the old ones, which will lead to Sire drawing me 2 cards and exiling the top 2 cards of the opponent deck every single time they put a land into play. Stage 3 of the diabolical Plan would be casting Oblivion Sower, whilst having exiled your opponent’s graveyard by means of 4 Relics of Progenitus and 4 Bojuka Bogs prior to casting Sower, thus maximixing the land “harvest” in my favor. This way I am trying to amass enought mana to cast a deadly Banefire, or, as my secondary win condition, the obligatory Emrakul the Eons Torn.

That basically is my convoluted plan on how to win with this deck. Destroy lands, force opponent to play new lands with Sire of Stagnation facilitating superb card advantage, exile lands in graveyards to maximize what you reap with Oblivion Sower in order to deal a killing blow with Banefire or Emrakul. That is basically how it is supposed to work!

IF it works has still to be seen… I would like to have some cheap reanimation handy, but that would be exclusive to Legacy or Casual (Exhume would be a good example), to discard Sire of Stagnation having him on the board starting turn 2, to get the card advantage engine roaring soonest. Also I have to point out that neither Sire of Stagnation nor Oblivion sower are warded in any way against opponent removal and the deck does not provide any protection either so I would guess the whole build would be a bit too “frail” to be called “competitive”. Anyways it will be fun giving it a spin!

On to deck 3 in this long-overdue Modern Deck-a-Thon:

Andi’s Anti-Meta Weenie (Modern):

Creatures…20

4 x Judge’s Familiar U/W

4 x Aegis of the Gods 1W

4 x Leonin Arbiter 1W

4 x Soltari Priest WW

4 x Mesa Enchantress 1WW

Enchantments…18

4 x Ethereal Armor W

4 x Hyena Umbra W

4 x Greater Auramancy 1W

2 x Oblivion Ring 2W

2 x Banishing Light 2W

2 x Armored Ascension 3W

Lands…22

22 x Plains

About the Deck:

This deck is my answer to the meta-game I have been facing in my local Modern events where one out of three people at least was playing some black at least for the dreaded Liliana of the Veil among other nasty things. Now when I like something then it is to foil a multi-hundred-bucks heavy deck/strategy with a bunch of (rather) cheap cards. The main combination that will lock down most of the decks I have been encountering is as follows:

Play this…

(luckily I bought my playset of Greater Auramancy when they were still dirt cheap) and combine it with that:

These two will lock down any targeted Creature removal as well as any evil spells or abilities targeting a player, such as Liliana’s Sacrifice ability, Wrench Mind or Geth’s Verdict to name a few. To elaborate further if it isn’t yet obvious anyways: Aegis of the Gods gives you Hexproof and if you combine it with Greater Auramancy, it, being an Enchantment as well as a Creature, will gain Shroud, making it extremely difficult for an opponent to break through so to say, unless they are running global creature removal such as Wrath of God etc. Of course, the other Creatures in the deck will be Shrouded too once enchanted, so I included plenty of Auras, most notably Ethereal Armor, which will give the Creature it enchants First Strike and +1/+1 for each Enchantment you control for the mere cost of 1 white mana. With 18 on average rather cheap enchantments, Ethereal Armor will make any Creature into a huge threat easily, and a prime target for it would be the practically unblockable Soltari Priest. The two odd Armored Ascensions serve as finishers, giving a Creature +1/+1 for each Plains you control AND flying. Two more notable cards: Leonin Arbiter will shut down any high cost deck running a substantial amount of “Fetchlands” and Mesa Enchantress, with her power to draw you a card each time you play an Enchantment, will provide you with valuable backup, card-wise…

Well and that’s it basically. I do not know if I’d stand any chance against my meta in our local Modern Format events but I’d gladly give it a try, wagering that I could catch one or two opponent’s unprepared!

Alright then, before we come to our first (and last, do not fear!) encore, just a quick decklist I came up with revolving around this nice card here…

…which I would not dare to call comeptitive by any means. So yeah, while the deck is technically Modern legal, this is rather a fun/casual approach here:

Thopter Ambush (Modern/Casual):

Creatures…11

4 x Etherium Sculptor 1U

4 x Myr Retriever 2

3 x Sharding Sphinx 4UU

Enchantments…7

3 x Intangible Virtue 1W

4 x Tempered Steel 1WW

Artifacts…20

4 x Chromatic Star 1

4 x Terrarion 1

4 x Ichor Wellspring 2

4 x Thopter Foundry W/B U

4 x Semblance Anvil

Lands…22

4 x Foundry of the Consuls

4 x Adakar Wastes

8 x Plains

8 x Island

About the Deck:

Well, as mentioned intially, this deck is built around Thopter Foundry and its awesome ability to generate a little but growing army of 1/1 Flying Thopter Tokens. This is done by sacking artifacts that give you benefits when they go to the graveyard, most commonly drawing you cards (namely Chromatic Star, Terrarion and Ichor Wellspring). Myr Retriever can be sacked for a Thopter (and 1 life!) and will then let you return any artifact card from your Graveyard to your hand. Semblance Anvil can make things really ugly for your opponent as if you imprinted an artifact or artifact creature, most of your artifacts can be cast for free and you’d only need to figure in the 1 generic mana for sacking it to the Foundry. The deck runs a few supportive Enchantments that will turn your army of Thopters into a real menace, namely Intangible Virtue, which will give all tokens (your Thopters) +1/+1 and Vigilance for 1W. Tempered Steel on the other hand gives all artifact creatures +2/+2. If you got both out, each and every of your once so tiny Thopters will be threatening 4/4 Vigilant Flyers! There is also the option of exponentially increasing the number of your Thopters through Sharding Sphinx (if you are able to power it out at converted mana cost 6):

The only thing the deck could really need would be a playset of Disciples of the Vault considering how many and how often artifacts will be sacked… maybe I shall take out the Etherium Sculptors in favor of those. The major problem with this deck however is that there is nothing you can do to interfere with what your opponent is doing, no disruption, countermagic, removal, no nothing – hence, only recommendable for casual play!

And now for our long-anticipated encore! If you are still with me (I thank you for that if this is the case), let us take a look at a guest deck, built by one of my best gaming buddies, Robin, who is fairly new to the game. Of course it took a bit of meddling… errr advice on my part but I think his Modern Deck turned out pretty sweet! Let’s take a look!

Robin’s Scry Beatdown (Modern/Casual):

Creatures…14

4 x Augury Owl 1U

4 x Flamespeaker Adept 2R

2 x Cryptic Annelid 3U

4 x Prophetic Sphinx 3UU

Instants…14

4 x Condescend X

4 x Titan’s Strength R

2 x Voyage’s End 1U

4 x Magma Jet 1R

Sorceries…4

4 x Serum Visions U

Enchantments…6

4 x Aqueous Form U

2 x Eyes of the Watcher 2U

Lands…22

4 x Izzet Guildgate

4 x Terramorphic Expanse

7 x Island

7 x Mountain

About the Deck:

Yeah, this deck is all about Scrying and making profit off of that. Your chief weapon here is…

As you can see, for every time you Scry, she will get a +2/+0 boost (and first strike on top of that). Since virtually every card in the deck except for lands and Eyes of the Watcher (which lets you scry though) has the Scry Ability, Flamespeaker Adept can get really really huge pretty easily. A particularly deadly combination can be achieved by enchanting her with this Aqueous Form:

It will make Flamespeaker Adept not only unblockable but give her a +2/+0 boost on top of that for free and by default.

Of course, any half-decent deck cannot rely on just one card as the only winning strategy, so, as I urged Robin, we included a playset of Prognostic Sphinx:

For me, this card is the total package and I can’t say why they are giving it away for dirt cheap. I mean a 3/5 Flyer for 3UU isn’t half bad but seeing it has the option to become Hexproof quite easily AND the Scry 3 upon each attack makes this one the total package and perfect secondary win condition for this deck.

That all being said, I would consider this low-budget deck fun to play in a casual setting whilst it may succumb to many more competitive decks in a Modern tournament environment…


And that concludes my long-overdue Magic Modern Deck Marathon. I thank you very much for your time and interest if you should have come that far! In any case, you can be expecting me to post more regularly on here now that I have more spare time on my hands and wish you, as always,

HAPPY GAMING!!

Yours,

Andi

Introducing: M.A.P. – Mission: Alien Planet

medium-pro-box-top

Dear friends and fans of Indie Board & Card Games! Valued Readers!

It is my pleasure to announce and introduce you to another AP Games prototype! This time it is not your regular Wizard-Duelling, spell-casting and monster-summoning fantasy game as you all know I am capable of doing.😀

Let me quote from the game box of the Mission: Alien Planet (or just “M.A.P.”) prototype:

“You are part of a crew of 4 scientists, so called “Xenologists”, who just landed on a recently discovererd, alien planet revolving around the nearby star Tau Ceti. The exotic, new planet you are about to explore is teeming with fantastic lifeforms and your mission is to collect data about as many of them as possible. As you explore the strange and hazardous terrain of the planet, peril and danger awaits your team. Will you be able to collect the required number of Victory Points by acquiring data on alien species before being wiped out?”

So M.A.P. is a game about exploration, about alien creature hunting and about survival, which utilizes a number of components such as decks of cards, a small game board, as well as dice amongst other things. The goal of the game, as stated above, is to collect a certain number of Victory Points (the exact number is not yet determined but it will be variable in the end – the higher the target VP total you choose at the outset of the game, the harder the game will be to beat) by acquiring data on as many different alien life forms as possible. There are different ways of collecting data and thus VP, but first, let me show you an image of the prototype game board:

MAP Game Board small

You can see there is a lot going on on the above game board. Let me explain the most important things:

You have a “Victory Points Meter” on the right edge of the board. Here you’d place a small D6 to keep track of your current VP count. Once again, it has still to be determined how many VP have to be collected in a standard (or easy/hard) game.  On  the bottom you’ll find the Distance Marker, which will help you keep track of how far you venture into the exotic wilds from your starting point, your Base, which you find in the central hex on the planet on the above board. This is a cooperative game, that can, for those who are inclined to do so, be played solo as well, and your team of Xenologists (you will always have 4 of them, even in a 2 or 3 player game – in which case (a) player(s) control(s) more than one Xenologist) will always start out on the central Base Hex.

Here is a picture of a Xenologist card (all 4 are identical except for their color and have 4 Base Stats which are kept track of by means of accordingly colored D6s):

A Xenologist

The base has 20 points worth of Resources (the number in the grey orb)  and 40 points of Power (as in Energy – the number in the blue orb). These are kept track of by means of a black D20 and two blue D20 respectively and you’ll be using your Resources to repair your Xenologist’s Armor etc and replenish their Power or the Power of the Items they use.

Speaking of Items: Before you venture out into the unknown Terrain of the alien planet, it would be wise to equip your Xenologists properly first. As you can see above, there are 4 “slots” for Items, which are small rectangular cards that can be “docked” onto your Xenologists. There is a huge variety of Items available, each doing something differenet, so you do not have to equip each of your Xenologist with the same set of Items, but rather “build” a team with all kinds of useful equipment, which will increase your odds of collecting alien creature data  – and surviving whilst doing so. Your Xenologists have 3 Shields (in green) and 3 Armor (in black/grey) on the most basic level. If both are depleted, attacks of hostile alien lifeforms will drain their Health (in red). Once the Health of a Xenologist drops to zero or below, they are out of the game. Besides these 3 stats, each Xenologist carries with them a supply of 6 Energy (in blue) by default. Energy is used for various purposes and can be recharged at the Base, where Shields and Armor can be replenished too (at the cost of Energy/Resources) and Health can be fully replenished (at no cost whatsoever).

Here’s what a fully equipped Xenologist may look like:

Equipped Xenologist

Now on to the different types of Terrain and how you explore the strange, new world orbiting far-off Tau Ceti.

Please take another look at the game board I showed you above: You will see that, surrounding the base, you have various types of terrain, represented by sliced-in-half hexes. Each kind of terrain (there are 8 different types of terrain) is represented by a smaller or larger deck of cards. The actual exploration works like this:

You move your meeple (representing your team of Xenologists) onto a “half-hex” adjacent to your base and advance the distance meter by 1. Then you draw (a) card(s) from the corresponding Terrain Deck. The Terrain Deck contains various alien species (Carnivores, which attack “on sight” and Herbivores, which ignore you unless disturbed in some way) as well as hazardous or sometimes even beneficial Terrain Events that may have certain environmental effects on your team or the game as a whole.

Each Terrain Deck contains an unique combination of various alien species indigenous to the terrain type as well as different, terrain-specific or also generic Events. Here sample Species from all Terrain Types:

Species in Different Environments

At this point I would like to extend a hearty thank you to my friend Tobi from Germany for kindly sharing the awesome creature artwork with me!!

The “hazard level” varies from terrain type to terrain type. This means when on a Prairie or a Forest you will face less environmental dangers than when exploring hazardous or volcanic wastelands. HOWEVER, the higher the risk the higher the reward, as the alien species you’ll find in more dangerous environments will be more valuable in terms of Victory Points.

For instance, let’s have a look at the cards the Tundra Deck contains (in the game there are duplicates mind you):

Tundra Deck

The card in the upper left hand corner is the card back of the Tundra Deck, whereas the other top row cards are the different Species you can and will encounter in the Tundra environment. The bottom cards are the different Tundra Events.

In this introductory article I will not go into great detail as to how the actual data collecting will be done. Only so much:

Each species has a VP-Value (the number in the gold-surrounded green orb in the top right corner of the card) as well as an Agility value (the one with the greenish glow) as well as a Health value (the number in the red square) as well as a text box. When you encounter an Alien Species it will attack you, or rather start acting, if it is a Carnivore and if it is a Herbivore, it will do nothing unless you attack it. In any case, you have 3 options when encountering a creature: You can either just PROBE it, which will grant you 1 VP if the species is the first of its kind you probed, OR you can try to KILL it, whereby you get half of their printed VP (rounded up) if it is the first of its kind you killed OR you can try to CATCH it (using a special kind of item) for which you get to add its entire VP-value to your total, if it is the first of its kind you captured. Large parts of fighting and catching alien species is handled through dice rolls.For instance, the behavioral pattern of any species is determined by dice rolls.

Take a look at this sample species:

Species Sample

As you can see, upon rolling a D6, Deinolupus will try to flee on a 1 – 2, will attack one of your crew members for 2 damage on a 3 – 5 or even for 4 damage upon rolling a 6.

As you move around the map of the alien planet you should return to the Base every now and then or when need be, to replenish health and energy, repair your armor and maybe to switch items. Also, any data acquired through probing, killing and/or catching will be added to your Victory Points total only when you return it to your Base.


And that is all I can tell you about M.A.P. as of now!

All I can say is that I am thrilled to get it tested, get some of the still more or less vague rules nailed down properly and think it has potential, combining co-op gameplay, clever team-building and resource management, the catching and collecting aspect which has made video games like Pokémon for instance popular, the survival aspect and the option to play solo even, as well as a healthy but not-too-dominant dose of luck.

I will keep you updated on the progress of the game – however, please keep in mind that this is only one of oh so many side-projects I tend to have all the times!

So thank you for your interest – I hope you had a good read! Please feel free to drop me some feedback down in the comments! Would love to hear your opinion on the new prototype!

Game on!

Yours,

Andi

MTG: Andi’s Big Legacy Deck Round-Up!

Dear friends of the Magic, the Gathering CCG!

This one goes out especially to the Legacy Format aficionados among you and is supposed to be a deck article that has been long overdue! Within it I will present you with the four Legacy Format Decks I have been able to build over the course of maybe 10 years in the case of my oldest (and most beloved) Legacy Deck, whereas the three others have been assembled rather recently, with one being in the process of being completed as I write these lines (meaning all the missing cards are already ordered and I am just waiting for them to arrive in the mail!).

Before I get to the first and oldest of my four more or less competitive Legacy Format Decks, I must note that I was lucky enough to get a hold of a lot of the original, old dual lands at a time when they were still traded at the quite affordable price of around 20 – 25 Euros, whereas many of them are at 200 Euros or higher nowadays. There is one thing I am dead certain about: I will never let go of any of these anytime soon!

Back then I managed to acquire playsets (4 of each) of Volcanic Island, Tundra, Plateau and Underground Sea…

Dual Lands

…as well as two odd copies of Tropical Island…

and most recently I traded away 3 Mana Drains (the fourth, signed by my favorite artist Mark Tedin I kept for Commander purposes and sentimental reasons) for a full playset of 4 Scrublands…

…for a more recent Legacy Deck creation of mine about which we are going to talk soon. All in all I would say that a good selection of the original dual lands is the core for pretty much any good Legacy Deck (there are exceptions and I am going to show you one later as well!) and I consider myself happy and feel lucky to have had the chance to acquire playsets of the most expensive ones back then when they were a LOT cheaper than they are now.

But on to the actual decks!

I shall begin with a deck that I have been tinkering with for years on end and it has seen many changes, even in its color composition, having started out as Blue, Red, White and gone to as far as Blue, Green, Black only to return back to its original color combination as it stands today! The deck I am talking about is a classic “Landstill” approach and I shall just share the full decklist with you right away:

UWR Landstill (Legacy Format):

Instants…21

4 x Stifle U

3 x Swords to Plowshares W

3 x Lightning Bolt R

1 x Enlightened Tutor W

4 x Counterspell UU

2 x Fire/Ice 1R/1U

4 x Force of Will 3UU

Enchantments…4

4 x Standstill 1U

Artifacts…5

2 x Engineered Explosives X

3 x Nevinyrral’s Disk 4

Planeswalkers….3

3 x Elspeth, Knight Errant 2WW

Lands…27

4 x Flooded Strand

2 x Scalding Tarn

2 x Arid Mesa

4 x Volcanic Island

4 x Tundra

4 x Plateau

4 x Mishra’s Factory

1 x Maze of Ith

1 x The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

1 x Tolaria West

About the Deck:

Well, I have to admit that the deck is arguably built quite old-school, with the only newer addition of 3 Planeswalkers, namely Elspeth, Knight Errant, which greatly enhance the deck speed in terms of beatdown. I have never checked how Landstill is played nowadays and if it is still considered playable or competitive since I have a nostalgic connection to it and it performs reasonably well at the occasional local Legacy tournaments.

For those who don’t know what a Landstill Deck is and how it is supposed to win: The basis is its namesake…

which you’d combine with heavy control and boardsweepers as well as so called “Man-Lands”, which is lands that turn into Creatures for a turn – in the case of my list I run only 4 of these…

Which can be kinda risky but I always got Elspeth to fall back to as my secondary win condition! Elspeth is especially great with said manlands as she can turn one of them into a quite mighty 5/5 Flyer for one turn, which usually speeds up the opponent’s downfall tremendously! So yeah, the basic plan is to “establish” a Standstill while you keep playing nasty lands, forcing your opponent to “break” the Standstill sooner or later which will give you quite some card advantage – 3 cards at 1U is not too shabby!!

I will not go into further detail on the deck as you can check out the individual cards for yourself and read up on the Landstill deck “archetype” on the internet – provided it still exists. I’d prefer to move on to my next, quite recent Legacy Deck creation, which is a deck I wanted to build for myself for quite some time, but always was at lack of financial resources to do so – but yay! Now it is done and completed. I’d like you to introduce you to WB “Blight”!

WB Blight (Legacy Format):

Creatures…4

4 x Phyrexian Obliterator BBBB

Instants…7

4 x Dark Ritual B

3 x Swords to Plowshares W

Sorceries…24

4 x Thoughtseize B

4 x Cabal Therapy B

4 x Innocent Blood B

4 x Sinkhole BB

4 x Hymn to Tourach BB

4 x Vindicate 1BW

Planeswalkers…2

2 x Elspeth, Knight Errant 2WW

Lands…23

4 x Marsh Flats

4 x Scrubland

4 x Godless Shrine

4 x Wastelands

3 x Mishra’s Factory

4 x Swamp

About the Deck:

When it comes to general strategies in CCGs that have a resource system, resource destruction/denial has always been my favorite way to destroy the opponent, since, as all relies on resources (lands in the case of MtG), as you destroy said resources you can dismantle almost every opponent deck’s strategy. So I am mighty proud and pleased to have gotten myself a hand on THE cheapest land destruction Spell around, namely 4 copies of…

Pair that with some Dark Rituals and Vindicates on turn three and you are all ready and set to make your opponent got berserk over the loss of most of their precious lands early on!

Actually I am quite happy with how this deck turned out as it does a lot of denial on so many levels. Besides the land destruction part you got some top-notch discard going on with highest quality spells such as Thoughtseize, Cabal Therapy and Hymn to Tourach and you can deal with Creatures very early on with Innocent Blood and Swords to Plowshares and with pretty much any permanent through the aforementioned Vindicate.

The big, bad killer in the deck is none other than this abomination from the nether realms:

You can easily power him or IT out on turn 2 through the black magical powers of Dark Ritual and if all of these get annihilated somehow you can always fall back on your manlands (as discussed in the previous deck profile) and your two Elspeths. So far the deck has been performing really well in a casual context but I have yet to put it to the test in a “real” tournament setting. All I can say is that I really like the playstyle of it and how everything came together!

And now for something completely different…

As I have seen, people at the tourneys are playing lots and lots of dual lands and other non-basics. So I thought a radically different and radically CHEAPER approach would produce good results! So I built a deck with only basic lands (safe for 4 Fetchies, namely Scalding Tarns) featuring this dynamic duo:

Price of Progress & Back to Basics

Well, before I’ll share my current decklist, emphasis on “current”, I’d like you to keep in mind that this all is HIGHLY experimental and a Work-in-Progress! I will likely be changing and tweaking the deck heavily (I shall provide a list of cards I MAY want to add in the below description!) and am even not sure at all if I’ll ever play it at an official tournament as I attend these quite rarely and would then much rather play either one of the previously discussed decks. But yeah since it wasn’t overly expensive to build, lacking high-cost dual lands and other cards, I just thought I’d give it a hurl. And so far it worked out pretty well – that I can say by now! But OK, on to my current decklist:

UR Nonbasic Land Hate (Legacy Format):

Creatures…4

2 x Morphling 3UU

2 x Prognostic Sphinx 3UU

Instants…16

4 x Lightning Bolt

4 x Price of Progress 1R

4 x Daze 1U

4 x Perilous Reasearch 1U

Sorceries…8

4 x Crack the Earth R

4 x Stone Rain 2R

Enchantments…8

4 x Hatching Plans 1U

4 x Back to Basics 2U

Artifacts…4

4 x Chromatic Star 1

Lands…20

4 x Scalding Tarn

8 x Island

8 x Mountain

About the Deck:

As I said above, this experimental, alternative approach to a Legacy Format Deck is based on “Nonbasic Land Hate” in the form of the two “main actors” Price of Progress and Back to Basics. As you can see in the above card pictures, the former deals 2 damage to each player for each nonbasic land they control, which will mean zero damage to me and potentially huge amounts of damage to your average Legacy deck player. The latter, Back to Basics, will lock said regular Legacy deck player down pretty good, as none of their nonbasic lands will untap as long as Back to Basics remains on the field.

As for the killers, and that could be a bit of a weak spot in the design of this deck, I have two times two Creatures, namely two of the classic Morphling (which used to be unaffordable in times of yore!) and two of the newer, crap rare (you’ll get one for no more than 30 US Cents on average right now!!) Prognostic Sphinx. I really need to make a stance in favor of the Sphinx here. Come on: A 3/5 Flyer which can get hexproof as long as you got a card in hand to discard and which lets you Scry: 3 each time it attacks for 5 f’ing Mana! I would deem that quite a neat deal creature-wise!

I have some quality burn in the form of Lightning Bolts and only SOME countermagic in the form of Daze. You will wonder why I am not running ye olde mighty Force of Will: Well I own a playset but truth be told I hate swapping that costly, precious card between two decks all the time. That’s the reason, seriously – quite stupid I know… And no, I will not buy a second playset for like about 400 USD!😀

This deck has some quite nasty/shifty tricks going on as well. Firstly, and that is not so much out of the ordinary, I am running 4 classic Stone Rains (at a cost of 2R), which will deal with occasional basic land popping up and not being affected by Back to Basics. Now comes the shifty things: I decided that this deck might, MIGHT mind you, maybe not a perfect but a good home for a highly potent (in my opinion) draw engine I wanted to run in some deck or another for a long time. Behold: Exhibit A:

Hatching Plans, a card that nobody plans, hence it ended up as a true crap rare at an average cost of less than 50 US cents per copy. Drawing 3 cards at the cost of 1U is awesome of course, and highly reminiscent of Standstill we have seen above. The problem is, you need to have some way(s) to destroy Hatching Plans, as it has no “in-built” destruction ability in and off itself. And here come Exhibits B & C:

Perilous Research & Crack the Earth

If you combine A and B, you’ll get 5 cards by spending 2 cards (Now that’s what I call card advantage!) at the mere price of 2UU. Combining A and C will still gain you 3 cards at the cost of 1RU and force your opponent to sac one of their cards. While A and B are awesome and are bound to stay in the deck, I am really really not sure about Crack the Earth. I will get my 3 cards from Hatching Plans, granted, but the opponent will most likely sacrifice one of their useless (under Back to Basics) nonbasic lands. So yeah, this one will be swapped for something more useful most likely.

This leads me to my list of “Maybe Cards”. I will list them in order of their likeliness to make the cut eventually:

  • Abjure: Abjure would be just kickass combined with Hatching Plans. Have a look for yourself:

A hardcounter for just 1 Mana. That could fix the “Force of Will” / Lack of Countermagic dilemma. And just imagine using it in conjunction with Hatching Plans. If you sac the Plans for Abjure you’ll basically get this for 1UU: Counter target Spell, then draw 3 cards. I mean who would say no to that?? I am seriously considering that this’d become the replacement for the suboptimal Crack the Earth. Only problem is that I am lacking further cheap blue permanents to sacrifice to Abjure. I must look into this further, as the cheapest (and arguably the best) sacrifice target would be Hatching Plans as noted above, but I’d need 3 Mana at first to pull that off. The next maybe card may solve or alleviate that situation. Also, alternatively I can use Abjure mid- to late-game by playing and sacrificing surplus Back to Basics.

  • Chrome Mox:

I might swap the 4 Chromatic Stars out and add 3 Chrome Moxes (plus 1 other card I am not sure of yet) chiefly to speed up the deck. With that I could drop a Hatching Plans turn 1 and a Stone Rain turn 2 and so on. The Chromatic Stars by the way are in the deck because they have a great synergy with Perilous Research, which would read like 2U: Draw 3 cards, which is not too shabby I guess, as well as to a lesser extent with Crack the Earth.

  • Noxious Revival:

I really really like the idea to “regrow” any card at the mere cost of paying 2 Life (and zero Mana), mostly for casting Price of Progress over and over again… Also it could recover some of my slain finishers or pretty much anything I might be needing at any point in the game… No clue what to take out in favor of 3 – 4 Noxious Revivals.

  • Frozen Aether:

Ahhh, the new and blue Kismet!! It will make Artifacts, Creatures and, most importantly, Creatures come into play tapped – but only your opponent’s. Picture the frustration one might have playing against a deck that has both Back to Basics AND Frozen Aether out at the same time. If only it weren’t so expensive – mana-wise. At 3U I am afraid I won’t be able to run it, but maybe I will find a way to squeeze in 2 of these nasty Enchantments. It has to be tested!

  • Foil:

I really like this card and think it is, in a deck with lots of basic Islands and a lot of card draw (just like this one), a decent and MUCH cheaper replacement for Force of Will. It costs 2UU to be hardcast, but alternatively you can exile an Island and any 1 other card from your hand in order to cast it and counter something for free. While I SO wanted to run 4 of these, I really don’t know what to swap out in favor of it…

  • Goblin Electromancer:

OK this one WOULD be cool as it reduces the cost of all your Instants and Sorceries by 1, costing down things like Price of Progress and Perilous Research down to 1 mana, plus it would be a little beater that could inflict some damage starting early on unless your opponent has removal, which they will have – hence I will probably forgo that one…

Alright, let’s get to the last of my 4 Legacy Deck Creations – The one that I don’t have the cards for yet (but yeah they are ordered, paid for and on their way to me). My main motivation for building this deck was to find a good, proper home for my 6 currently unused original dual lands: That would be my 4 Underground Seas and 2 Tropical Islands. So yeah, Blue-Green-Black it will be – and I could just have built Psychatog if someone gave me the 400 bucks for a playset of Berserks – yet again, a Standstill deck – however a totally different approach than the previously showcased deck of that kind. Let’s have a look at my current decklist:

UGB Landstill (Legacy Format):

Instants…12

4 x Daze 1U

4 x Counterspell UU

4 x Abrupt Decay GB

Sorceries…11

4 x Innocent Blood B

4 x Regrowth 1G

3 x Maelstrom Pulse 1GB

Enchantments…7

4 x Standstill 1U

3 x Pernicious Deed 1GB

Artifacts…8

4 x Lotus Petal 0

4 x Chromatic Star 1

Lands…22

4 x Underground Sea

2 x Tropical Island

2 x Overgrown Tomb / Bayou (???)

4 x Polluted Delta

2 x Verdant Catacombs

4 x Mishra’s Factory

4 x Treetop Village

About the Deck:

Well, the deck is pretty straightforward and follows the same approach (on a very different route, first and foremost color-combination-wise) as the Blue/Red/White Landstill discussed above. The deck features high quality removal, both pinpoint like the awesome Abrupt Decay (Good riddance Tarmogoyf, Liliana of the Veil and others) and Maelstrom Pulse as well as mass removal/board sweepers in the form of the amazing Pernicious Deed – which blows up pretty much anything! The Deck also features quality countermagic in the form of free-to-cast Daze and the classic hardcounter Counterspell. Force of Will I did not include because I think the percentage of blue cards in the deck is too low overall to consistently make good use of FoWs free casting option. In any case you control the board with highest quality pinpoint removal as well as mass-removal, whilst countering opponent threats when possible, and you do that over and over again powered by quadruple Regrowth (which lets you take any 1 card from your graveyard into your hand for just 1G) and you’ll play Standstill, as early as turn 1 with the aid of the magical Lotus Petals, in order to generate card advantage early on whilst making pressure with your manlands, which will survive your own mass destruction and will elude most of your opponent’s non-Insant removal effects. In the case of this deck, my favorite manland, the classic Mishra’s Factory, is joined by the mighty Treetop Village, which will turn into a 3/3 Trampling Ape for the activation cost of 1G! Just have a look at it:

Overall I think it is a bit lame to have two Landstill Decks at the same time, but as they widely differ in their color and card composition and as, matter of fact, I could not really think of a better option for a deck to be a good home for my Underground Seas and Tropical Islands, I think this will be a welcome alternative and addition to my now (almost) complete Legacy Deck collection! I said almost in parenthesis as one thing I am in quite painful need of: I will have to run 2 Overgrown Tomb (The Shockland Version of the original Black/Green Dual) instead of 4 Bayou as, at the moment, I do not have the financial resources nor the motivation to spend about 200 USD to acquire two of the original Black/Green Dual Lands. But we’ll see what the future will bring! Maybe some day I am stinking rich for some reason or another and then I will invest in the two Bayous to make the above deck 100% complete eventually!


And that, dear readers, was the QUITE extensive guide to Andi’s Legacy Format Deck Library! I hope you enjoyed the post and maybe found some of my ideas and approaches interesting. In any case, if you have come that far reading through all the above I thank you very much for your attention and interest! Feel free to post your suggestions, feedback or even constructive criticism in a comment or two below! I would be looking forward to hear from you what you think about my Legacy Decks as portrayed above. But please be easy on me, I do not consider myself a Legacy Format Pro or expert, simply cause I got all the good stuff lol (talking about the massive collection of original dual lands I happen to own etc).

So yeah, thanks again for being a reader and I wish you all a great Sunday and, as always,

HAPPY GAMING!!

Yours,

Andi

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Ideas from Switzerland: Magic & YGO “BIG BOX” Format

Dear readers and friends of various CCGs such as MtG and YGO!!

I recently was kindly invited to travel to Switzerland (a neighboring country to my country Austria – it was a 9 hours train ride for me just for your info) and stay over the weekend with Elemental Clash fan and fellow tabletop enthusiast as well as terribly nice guy in general, Philippe Etter. Here he is besides the grim looking designer of Elemental Clash himself (I am the threateningly looking bearded guy to the left if you weren’t sure!)

Andi (left) with his awesome host Philippe (right).

Andi (left) with his awesome host Philippe (right).

Monsieur Etter was very kind, generous and hospitable to me and I had the great opportunity to meet some of his gamer friends as well, all of which had to (well they were thrilled to actually) give Elemental Clash a try.

Some intense EC Action was had!

Some intense EC Action was had!

And all of them loved the game, some of them, independently from each other, even calling it “even better than Magic”! What greater honor could I receive for my humble work!! Thanks Philippe and friends for your openness and the great feedback you gave me for my 10-years-games-project!!

Besides having a ton of fun playing Elemental Clash with Philippe and a lot of other new friends from Switzerland, I was introduced to a really  fun, new to me variant of playing my beloved Magic: the Gathering! What Philippe did was he sleeved a few thousand cards (all individual ones, no duplicates!) and put them all, sorted by rarity but not by type or color, and put them into some big boxes. A relatively small deck containing only basic lands was kept separately. So what we did was each player got a deck containing totally random cards and when drawing a card (at the beginning of the game – your starting hand – during Draw Phase but also anytime a card would instruct you to draw cards or a card) you could draw from the lands deck or from your main deck, which, again, contains no lands whatsoever, so only Spells (Creatures, Instants, Sorceries, Enchantments, Artifacts and so on…). At the beginning of the game each player would draw 13 (I think) card in any combination from the shared lands deck or from their main deck. In general, so I was told and deem reasonable, you’d draw from the lands deck first until you got at least 4 out of the 5 colors in Magic, and then you’d proceed with drawing from your main deck (or more lands from the land deck). Each player has 30 Life by the way and during each Draw Phase, you’d draw 3 cards from either land or main deck, in any combination, instead of the regular drawing of 1 card – which gives you a whole lot more options…

I really found this new variant highly intriguing and entertaining, although I had a few minor complaints about useless cards and the inclusion of some very old-fangled, weak cards that can’t compete with today’s (Modern) cards power level and would have done some things different if I were to build such a card pool. Also I need to note that they had an awesome 3 player variant where two players share a life total and play against one player who has some benefits and gets some bonuses such as having more cards at the beginning and being allowed to place a Creature with converted mana cost of 3 or less onto the battlefield for free at the outset of the game – all very original and creative as I had found!

So yeah, as I really, really liked that variant of playing good-old Magic: the Gathering Philippe introduced me to, I simply could not resist the urge to build something like that for me as well!! With some minor changes however…

And I’d like to henceforth call and refer to Philippe’s MtG variant – which is the only way they play MtG over at his place as he told me:

“BIG BOX MAGIC”!

So when I returned home safe and sound after an awesome nerd-n’-gaming-weekend in Switzerland, first thing I did was to order a bunch of soft sleeves (2000 pcs straight – soft sleeves for an Euro a pack o’ hundred since poor, destitute me couldn’t afford high quality sleeves as rich-ass Philippe did – sorry Philippe, no offense intended; hope none was taken haha!) in Magic card size AND 1000 Yu-Gi-Oh sized sleeves BECAUSE: I suggested to Philippe, and he had actually had the same idea already, his fun-as-hell MtG variant could be done quite nicely and easily with Yu-Gi-Oh! cards as well, and you’d even save yourself the trouble of trying to draw into enough and the right resources (lands in the case of Magic of course) when done with YGO cards. And this is why and how I invented:

“BIG BOX YU-GI-OH”!

So when I got the sleeves in the mail, my sister kindly helped me with sleeving about 800 individual YGO cards (no duplicates whatsoever, just as in Big Box Magic) and after that like 1800 different Magic cards and hey presto, done were my awesome YGO Big Box…

My sister Nora with our YGO Big Box (which didn't quite fit into one box lol!).

My sister Nora with our YGO Big Box (which didn’t quite fit into one box lol!).

…. as well as my equally awesome MtG Big Box!!

Mtg Big Box

As for YGO, my sister gave it a short try (only one measly game – she is not too keen on playing CCGs at all, which is a shame but whatever…) with me and we need to seriously figure out some special rules, which will need some more playtesting in order to be determined. So with the YGO Big Box we each drew a starting hand of 13 cards and 3 cards during each Draw Phase. We played with decks of no real pre-set size (as once you’d run out of cards in the deck you’d just take some more cards from the central pool of the box) and 10 000 instead of 8000 Life Points. Same as in the Magic Big Box Philippe introduced me to, each card is only included once in the YGO Big Box and cards are drawn in a totally random manner. One huge problem we ran into was caused by the one normal summon per turn rule that is in place in the YGO TCG. What happened was that my sis drew pretty much Monsters only, at a rate of 3 cards per turn, and all she could do is set or play a Monster and then give over to me, with Monster cards piling up in her hand rapidly and without much use…

One possible fix for that would be to increase the number of allowed Normal Summons to two per turn. On the other hand, especially when playing with an Extra Deck with Synchro- and XYZ-Monsters (We have a shared Extra Deck with a ton of Synchros and XYZs to pick from – only one copy of each however – while Philippe refuses to play with Extra Decks as something that seems to be a general policy of his for one reason or another; but fair enough) that would create an obvious problem…

If you’d be allowed to Normal Summon twice you could easily Synchro Summon with a tuner and a non-tuner played from hand on the same turn, well on turn one even, and even more easily you could overlay your Normal Summoned Monsters right away if they shared a Level, and drop a nasty XYZ guy as soon as turn 1, which’d be less fun I’d say. What I am thinking currently on how to fix this new issue would be something like this: We could make up a rule that says you can EITHER Normal Summon two Monsters during your turn, whereby no Tribute Summon would be allowed as one of your Normal Summons, and by doing so you’d not be allowed to Special Summon from your Extra Deck on the same turn, OR you’d have one Normal Summon and are permitted to Special Summon from the Extra Deck to your heart’s content!!

I think having to choose between 2 Normal Summons and no XYZ and Synchro Summon (I left Fusions out of the game entirely, since they require a particular card, namely Polymerization, or some variation of that card, in order to perform a Fusion Summon. Drawing into Polymerization or some of the very few similar cards is simply too unlikely to ever happen…) versus one Normal Summon and Special Summoning from your Extra Deck (Either XYZ or Synchro) would be a good way to tackle the dilemma we ran into. Of course, lots of testing will show if the approach is viable and even working at all. Plus I am sure I will be coming up with several other special rules for Big Box YGO as we go along with testing the newly invented variety of the game! In the same way I am dead certain more problems will pop up as we keep playing but solutions shall and will be found for those issues as well as I am very much positive about!😀

As for my Big Box Magic, I tweaked some of Philippe’s rules and how he did it a bit, giving it my very own touch and thus improving the gameplay experience – in my opinion! For instance I skipped all the old, outdated crap cards and am using only Modern layout cards (mind you I didn’t say Modern Format cards. There are lots of awesome older cards that are not Modern Legal but do have Modern layout versions available, as they were reprinted in Duel Decks and stuff like that – Swords to Plowshares and Memory Lapse would be only two examples….). Also, I added non-basic lands to the land deck – in a 50:50 ratio of basic lands and non-basic lands with the land deck card count totaling in at about 120 cards. This way it makes sense to have non-basic land hate/stuff that benefits from your opponent having non-basic lands to the mix in your Magic Big Box – quite to the contrary of what my friend Philippe had. I was a bit annoyed to have wasted some draws on Spells that only do something when non-basic lands are in play. But I do understand. My Swiss friend didn’t have the time to “cherry pick” each individual card like I did – I really only added cards that work with the format, of all types and rarities, and left out cards that do little in a 5 colors format with half the lands being non-basic, for example cards like Consume Spirit and Nightmare… Apart from that, I left what I had seen with Philippe untouched, rules-wise!

Anyways, that is it about what I brought with me from my amazing (but short, alas!) trip to Switzerland when it comes to games and new ways to play and enjoy them! If YOU got a large collection of Magic and/or YGO cards and can spare some cash for a ton of card sleeves, I can highly recommend building either your own Big Box Magic or Big Box YGO (will post the final rules for the latter once we have thoroughly tested and figured out everything!) or even both for yourself and give it a hurl! It is a ton of fun I can ensure you!! And there are not two games that will be the same, that’s for sure!!

YGO Thumbsup

THANK YOU Philippe for inspiring me with your great, great variant of playing MtG as well as for your boundless kindness, generosity and hospitality when I had the pleasure to stay with you for a few days! And three cheers to all my other, newfound Swiss friends whom I had the pleasure to meet and game with during my visit to Switzerland!!

So, as usual I wish you all – and the Swiss in particular this time around😉

HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi

Announcing: The REALMS OF SIHIR Customizable Card Game!

Dear friends and fans of Indie card and board games!

Andi is at it again and this time, he comes along with a crafty and talented partner as we are very proud to announce the

RoS CCG Logo medium size

Realms of Sihir Customizable Card Game!

Realms of Sihir (“Sihir” means nothing else as “Magic” in Indonesian language) will be a non-collectible, yet highly customizable card game in not quite the run-of-the-mill fantasy setting, borrowing heavily from Indonesian lore and myths, which is a collaborative effort between incredibly talented Indonesian artist and illustrator Audia Pahlevi, and my humble self, Andreas Propst. While I have taken the role of lead game designer, Audia will not only provide the stunning artwork you are going to see soon on this here blog post, but also acts as co-designer and advisor in the RoS project.

Before I go into some of the gameplay, let me share a personal introductory message provided by my talented friend Audia…

Audia Pahlevi, Indonesia

              Audia Pahlevi, Indonesia

“Hi, dear readers, my name is Audia Pahlevi, I am a 23 years old self – taught artist from Indonesia, I am really passionate in both  art and games, especially CCG games, hence Realm of Sihir (RoS) is my dream project. Through this I can put my love for CCGs and for making art into one thing, and I want to say thank you very much to my work partner Andi. He helped me a lot and made everything possible.

ROS was very much inspired by the RPG Genre, and we’ll try to make RoS as simple as possible and easy to understand but still fun to play so that future players will be able to freely customize their decks and find their own strategies. I as the artist for RoS will work hard to provide stunning visuals and card art for the game. “

Thank you Audia, for sharing your thoughts with us… But now on to some card previews and some aspects of how RoS will be played. What I will not do is provide a full rules overview – that shall be done and covered in a future article!

So in RoS, each player starts with a band of a maximum of 5 “Heroes”. They are your characters, much like in an RPG, that will fight the opponent party with physical attacks but also summon Monsters that will fight for you and/or protect your Heroes and cast mighty Spells that will benefit your Heroes and summoned Monsters or harm the opponent Heroes and/or Monsters in some way or another. As for Heroes, there will be 5 distinct, original races which are based losely on Indonesian mythology: We have the Magnos (Humans), the Siluman (Beastfolk), Peri (which roughly translates to “Faeries”), the Naga (Dragonfolk) and lastly the Rakshasa (Titan-Demons). Have a look at the awesome concept sketch Audia did to establish the looks of the 5 races. Please note that the Peri will have insect-like wings – up to 3 pairs – which is not represented in the below concept drawings.

Heroes Class design

Besides the Hero Races, there will be 7 Hero Classes; namely Warriors, Paladins, Clerics, Shamans, Battlemages, Mages and Necromancers. Each Hero will have HP (Health Points) indicated by a red D6 (six-sided dice) on the card and MP (Magic Points) kept track of by means of a blue D6, an ATK- (Attack) Value as well as some additional effects. Furthermore, and this is important when assembling your team of up to 5 Heroes, each Hero has a BP (Battle Points) value. Your band of Heroes’ added total of BP cannot exceed 20. This means you cannot just form a team with the most powerful Heroes available but you have to be clever in assembling your team in order to not surpass the 20 BP limit. So you may want a balanced group of Heroes, some weaker/cheaper and some stronger/more expensive ones. Also you will want to have different classes of Heroes in your band and your selection of Heroes will influence how you build your deck (which contains Monster, Spell and Item cards – more on those later) heavily, as certain Monsters can only be summoned by certain Classes of Heroes and likewise, certain Spells can only be cast by certain Hero Classes. Also some Items can only be attached to Heroes of specific Classes. So you see, the initial selection of up to 5 Heroes is of utmost importance to how you build your actual deck prior to the game and to your strategy during the game. Here some eye-candy which will also visually explain the Hero cards:

 Ros Hero Card Samples & Explanation PNG

Well, don’t the first two Hero card previews look amazing?? Audia, you did a great job on the art itself but also on the card layout. I would like to seize the opportunity to thank you for your tireless and grand work once again!

In RoS, Heroes are placed in Front Row and/or Back Row, which are two zones that both players have. In the middle of the table, between the opposing players, the Battlefield is located. This is where summoned Monsters go to fight for you or protect you from opponent attacks. As for your Heroes in Front and Back Row, if you have a band of 5 Heroes, you can choose two main “Formations”. Either you chose an “Offensive Formation” with 3 strong attacker Heroes or Heroes that can take a lot of damage in Front Row and 2 supportive Heroes in back row such as Clerics who heal and bless or some sort of wizards that cast Spells and inflict Curses from the safety of the Back Row. The opposite would be a “Defensive Formation” which would mean two physically strong Heroes would occupy Front Row whilst 3 “Supporters” would be placed in Back Row. The Formation may be changed during an ongoing game by the way. In general, only Front Row Heroes can attack opponent Monsters or Front Row Heroes and can be attacked by opponent Monsters on the Battlefield  or opponent Front Row Heroes. Monsters with the “Defender” ability are able to block your Heroes’ or Monsters’ attacks and in order to attack Back Row Heroes you must first defeat all opponent “Defender” Monsters and defeat all opponent Front Row Heroes. But of course there are Abilities and Spells that will allow you to breach the opponent defensive lines and/or inflict direct damage to any Front or Back Row Heroes, regardless if the opponent has Defenders and/or alive Heroes in their Front Row. But in general, Back Row Heroes are for the most part well protected from harm and can summon Monsters, cast Spells and use their Abilities unhindered in most cases.

Alright, that should be enough for gameplay info (more and the first rules draft will be posted on here soon!). Now let me show you some card samples for Monsters. Spells and Items. The layout was kindly made by Audia and I modified it a wee bit. Please do note that the card previews I am about to show to you all have placeholder card art I “borrowed” from other games of my devising. In the end, Audia will be illustrating all 90+ different RoS cards, but that will take considerable time as you may be able to imagine! (Hint: We are already talking about a Crowdfunder of sorts to speed up the process!!). So first let me show you the Monster Samples. Monsters, Spells and Items are either Neutral OR belong to one of the 5 Asian/Chinese Elements – Earth, Wood, Water, Fire and Metal. And here come the Monsters (You recognize them at first glance by their blue layout background):

 RoS Monster Presentation PNG

Next up the Spells (easily recognizable by the purple layout background), again one for each of the 5 Elements as well as 1 Neutral Spell!

 RoS Spell Presentation PNG

Lastly I want to show you some Item Card Samples (Items have a green layout background). Most Items will be neutral but some may belong to an Element like the sample card to the right to be seen below:

 RoS Item Presentation PNG

OK now that you’ve seen a ton of card previews (again with placeholder art we will be using until Audia is done with the gargantuan task of illustrating all the cards personally…) I want to lastly show you a visual key to understanding what the different layout elements, stats etc on the Creature, Spell and Item cards actually mean. Have a look please:

 RoS Creature - Spell - Item Explanation PNG

OK then, dear readers and fellow CCG and/or Indie games enthusiasts, that is as much as I can (or want to??) tell you about the Realms of Sihir CCG project for now! I hope you enjoyed the awesome character art and layouts created by my friend and partner Audia and liked the card previews galore as well!

All that remains for me is to express my sincere gratitude to you, Audia, once again for your boundless enthusiasm and hard work for the project. Please, dear readers, if you find the time, do check out Audia’s art portfolio at

moonarc.deviantart.com

I would highly recommend that.

Alright, I will keep you all posted on any progress regarding the RoS project. If you want to stay up-to-date and don’t want to miss the latest news and previews, please “like” us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/realmsofsihir

Thank you for your interest and attention and I wish you all, as always

HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi

MtG: Helping out Aldi again OR How to turn one deck into two!

Dear readers and fellow friends of Magic: the Gathering!

I had a ton of fun playing my favorite role, that of “Mr Deck Doctor” that is, taking a close look at my Indonesian friend Aldi’s main Modern Deck (see previous post) and Aldi, as he said himself, found my suggestions very helpful and decided to tweak his deck a bit according to some of my suggestions. Thank you for your appreciation and open-mindedness Aldi!

After some very intriguing discussions about various Magic Deck ideas the two of us shared, Aldi sent me his idea for a secondary Modern Format Deck, this time in Green-Black. When I saw that, the “Deck Doctor itch” soon became unbearably again and so here I am to scratch that itch properly. When I first looked at Aldi’s “proto-decklist”, which I will share one to one as my Indonesian friend had mailed it to me, I immediately thought that the deck would probably be better if we’d actually make two seperate decks out of it. I will explain my reasoning after sharing Aldi’s decklist, which is not bad per se but needs some serious streamlining and even the general idea behind it, the strategy, as it stands is not half bad either. However I think it pursues two quite different strategies that would MAYBE be better off if one would split the deck and made two different ones, each focused on one of the two strategies, out of it. But more on that after I shared Aldi’s decklist which I will do right away:

Aldi’s Black-Green Modern Deck Idea:

Creatures…24

4 x Satyr Wayfinder 1G
4 x Boneyard Wurm 1G
4 x Bassara Tower Archer GG
4 x Sylvan Caryatid 1G
2 x Splinterfright 2G
2 x Herald of Torment 1BB
2 x Night Howler 1BB
2 x Gurmag Angler 5B
Sorceries…6
2 x Mulch 1G
2 x Commune with the Gods 1G
1 x Exposive Vegetation 3G
1 x Restock 3GG
Instants…6
2 x Grisly Salvage GB
2 x Gnaw to the Bone 2G
2 x Dark Dabbling 2B
Artifacts…1
1 x Bonehoard 4
Enchantments…2
1 x Wreath of Geists G
1 x Whip of Erebos 2BB

Lands…21
8 x Forest
8 x Swamp
4 x Jungle Hollow
1 x Evolving Wilds

About the Deck:

Well, Aldi’s original idea isn’t half bad at all as I said before: He’d fill his graveyard with lots of Creatures by means of Satyr Wayfinder, Mulch, Grisly Salvage an other similar cards and then play cards which will greatly benefit from Creatures being located in the graveyard(s) like the cheap Boneyard Wurm or Splinterfright and optionally slapping Wreath of Geists, Bonehoard or Night Howler on some hard-to-kill (due to Hexproof) Bassara Tower Archers to swing in for the kill.

So I really like the idea of Aldi’s deck and find it highly original and could see how this would be a fun-to-play deck. However I think it would need some serious streamlining and focussing, as he plays many cards that are great in and off themselves only once or twice, reducing the chance, without any real card draw and tutoring, to actually draw them when needed. Futhermore, first time I saw his proto decklist, my immediate thought was that there were actually two quite different approaches or strategies in the deck, which I would split up and focus on in two seperate decks. One would be some sort of “Graveyard-Tricks” build while the other approach would be making maximum use of extremely-hard-to-deal-with Hexproof Creatures – Aldi furthermore told me he wanted to add more awesome Hexproof Creatures such as good old Troll Ascetic, which cemented my idea of splitting the deck up into two seperate ones, each focused on one approach in general, even furhter. So let me showcase the two deck suggestions I’d have for Aldi in regard to that below. I will start with a HIGHLY budget friendly (mostly common and uncommon cards included) Black-Green “Graveyard Trix” Deck suggestion, which is more suitable for casual play than for a competitive enviroment I guess, and then follow up with a slightly more expensive monogreen Hexproof Deck, which could be quite potent even in a competitive environment – maybe: testing would be needed to demonstrate that!

So let’s get started with

Andi’s Cheapo BG Graveyard Trix Deck Suggestion (Modern):

Creatures…20

4 x Satyr Wayfinder 1G

4 x Boneyard Wurm 1G

4 x Splinterfright 2G

4 x Stinkweed Imp 2B

4 x Nyx Weaver 1GB

Instants…8

4 x Grisly Salvage GB

4 x Murderous Cut 4B

Sorceries…10

4 x Mulch 1G

4 x Night’s Whisper 1B

2 x Dead Drop 9B

Lands…22

4 x Jungle Hollow

4 x Terramorphic Expanse

4 x Evolving Wilds

5 x Forest

3 x Swamp

2 x Dakmor Salvage

About the Deck:

Well the deck is VERY budget friendly as I said before and probably not fit for a competitive (tournament) environment, and money-wise there would be room for improvement of course for example by replacing the Terramorphic Expanses and Evolving Wilds with proper Fetchlands like Verdant Catacombs and some “Shocklands” namely Overgrown Tomb, etc., but that would make the deck’s cost in Dollars skyrocket, which is not the point of the “exercise”…

So basically, what you’d do with the above Deck would be filling your Graveyard quickly with various cards such as Satyr Wayfinder, Mulch, Grisly Salvage and first and foremost, your one-stop-soltion for constant graveyard filling:

There’s also Dakmor Salvage (Land) which can add to the graveyard filling via Dredge to a lesser extent.

A great card in a Black Green Deck like this is Nyx Weaver…

…which is greart in three ways in my opinion. Firstly a 2/3 body with Reach is not half bad to begin with, then the nasty spider “enriches” your graveyard constantly –  see card image above – AND lastly and most awesome, you can pay 1GB and exile her to retrieve any lost key card from your graveyard – those are the reasons why I am not just running 4 Eternal Witnesses instead.

So what you’do with your graveyard all stocked up on Creatures and other cards is firstly cast some terrific Creature removal Spells like the awesome Murderous Cut, which gets rid of pretty much any Creature for the mere cost of 1 black mana if you exile some cards from your graveyard (do keep the Creatures and exile only non Creature cards for reasons that will become apparent soon) or the possibly devastating Dead Drop.

The deck is supposed to win with either a huge, trampling Splinterfright…

…and to a lesser extent through the cheaper but non-trampling Boneyard Wurm, which will be just as huge as Splinterfright anyways. I’d probably want to make room for 2 copies of Necropolis Fiend as an alternative, hard to block (due to Flying) and cheap to cast (due to Delve) additional win condition:

Lastly I would like to mention that I added some on first glance off topic card draw in the form Night’s Whisper, which draws you 2 at the cost of 1B and 2 Life. I added it simply to be able to Dredge up one or even two Stinkweed Imps without having to actually skip my regular draw, which is a thing I’d hate to do in general…

OK that is it for this budget friendly “Graveyard Trix” build, which again is probably not all too competitive but nonetheless a fun deck to play as I am pretty certain. So on to the second deck, which might just be a wee bit more potent and possibly competitive deck. Here comes…

Andi’s Monogreen Hexproof Bash (Modern):

Creatures…24

4 x Birds of Paradise G

4 x Gladecover Scout G

4 x Silhana Ledgewalker 1G

4 x Bassara Tower Archer GG

4 x Dungrove Elder 2G

4 x Troll Ascetic 1GG

Instants…4

4 x Harrow 2G

Enchantments…10

4 x Rancor G

2 x Primal Rage 1G

4 x Blanchwood Armor 2G

Lands…22

22 x Forest

Possible Sideboard…?

4 x Witchstalker 1GG

4 x ???

About the Deck:

So this is the second deck Aldi’s deck idea inspired me to, and as you can see when looking up the Creatures in the list, it features no less than 20 Hexproof Creatures with only Birds of Paradise not having that highly useful ability (You may wonder why I insisted on Birds in a mono-green deck instead of opting for the vastly cheaper “Mana Elves” like Llanowar Elves and their more recent counterparts Elvish Mystic for early mana acceleration – if you can’t quite see the reason from looking at the decklist alone, never fear – all shall be explained in due time!). Hexproof is “golden” nowadays with predominantly white pinpoint Creature removal like the omnipresent and highly effective Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring to name just two of these cards bein seen a lot in tournaments and such. When you look at the Creatures, most of them have VERY useful and powerful secondary abilities besides their “Hexproof Status”. Silhana Ledgewalker is hard to block (As it can only be blocked by Flyers and Creatures with Reach), Bassara Tower Archer on the other hand has Reach himself so you got defenses when facing opponent Flyers and Troll Ascetic regenerates, serving as a great blocker and surviving mass Creature removal such as Day of Judgment and the uncounterable Supreme Verdict. However a classic Wrath of God would do the Troll in still due to Wrath’s “Creatures cannot be regenerated” clause. A highly interesting and potent Hexproof Creature that is part of the reason why I am running basic forests only as lands in this deck is this awesome treefolk dude:

If you drop this one on say turn 3 you will already have an almost impossible to kill 3/3 Creature, which would be great in and off itself but provided you keep dropping Forests, this one will grow rapidly and become ever more menacing and more of a threat to your opponent… And it can get even worse for your adversary! Let me explain some more:

Now when I was thinking about and coming up with the above decklist I noticed one problem the deck or rather all its Creatures have, which is the following: You may have a huge Dungrove Elder and/or an army of highly cost effective Hexproof Creatures but what good is a 10/10 Dungrove for instance if you opponent has some blockers, even if they are tiny in comparison to your Creature(s)? Well, the key to solving that problem is, and that is my suggestion or conclusion, one simple, classic keyword / creature ability. I am talking about good old Trample! So I figured if I would augment my Creatures by means of granting one or more of them the Trample abiltiy, Dungrove Elder and his hexproof ilk would hit your opponent hard, even if they have some blockers! And what is – argueably –  the single best green card in the Modern Format when it comes to mana cost and power  that grants Trample and is overall super-awesome when it comes to additional abilities. My vote would be in favor of…. wait for it….

Slam that on an already quite huge Dungrove Elder an he’ll not only Trample all over your opponent and their defenses for the mere cost of 1 green mana, but also, on top of the Trample, give that Creatue an awesome, permanent+2/+0 boost for some additional damage AND in case it would be destroyed or in the highly rare occasion that the Creatue Rancor is attached to will fall victim to some untargeted destruction effects or would be sacrificed due to an opponent’s card, Rancor will return straight to your hand to be cast for really cheap time and time again, pretty much haunting your opponent throughout the whole game. IF you are lucky enough to draw Rancor when needed that is. But to decrease the luck factor to some extent, I decided to include a backup plan for giving your Creatures  the quite crucial trample  abiltiy: Primal Rage. This is an enchantment that comes at a highly affordable cost of 1G and gives ALL your Creatures for as long as it remains on the field, which should come in quite hand. Hence, two copies added to the deck as backup for Rancor!

Now lastly, let us get into why I am running all Basic Forests for lands and why Birds of Paradise are my prefered choice when it comes to turn 1 mana accelerators. The key to all of that is one awesome enchantment, which has a huge potential to turn ANY of your Creatures into a gargantuan killing machine, even our lowly (but lovely😉 ) Birds. Behold:

Well, if you look at our Creature list above, you will realize just how powerful and devastating Blanchwood Armor can be for your opponent. Let us consider the worst case (for your opponent) or most powerful combination as well as the least but still awesome one.

For instance if on your fifth turn, you have dropped a forst each turn so far, have a kickass Dungrove Elder out which is, all by itself, a mighty 5/5 Hexproof beast (or Treefolk actually :P) by that time. Then just slam a Rancor for G on it followed up by the ominous Blachnwood Armor for another 2G. This means for your poor opponent that they now have to face and deal with an insane 12/10 Hexproof Tramper ready to swing in for some massive damage, bount to grow even lager in consecutive turns as you keep dropping Forests! THAT is, in my humble opinion, quite some force to be reckoned with!

Now if we look at the lesser evil, the slighty less nasty but still meancing case: Think about BoP and why I would be very  much in favor of running those if available (they got A LOT cheaper money wise over the last years but a playset is still at around 25 USD…. the deck would work with Mana Elves instead of Birds too just for the record). Birds fly, so, depending on the kind of deck you are playing against, they will be more or less hard to block. Sure they have a base Power of 0 but just you imagine what a Blachwood Armor (or two!!) would do to your lowly Bird!? Sure it is a bit risky to use your powerful Blanchwood Armor on the vulnerable Birds and you would be losing 2 cards if your opponent has some pinpoint Creature removal handy, but in some situations Birds + Blanchwood Armor could spell Victory for you!  And if you want to be on the safe side and use your precious Armor on a similarly hard to block but well protected Hexproof Creature, there is always the option of attaching the Armor to also cheap Silhana Ledgewalker:

On a closing note, I’d like to justify the inclusion of a playset of four Harrow: First off I wanted some land searcher to give additional “Forest Power” to Dungrove Elder and/or any Creature enchanted with Blanchwood Armor. I opted for Harrow as the land tutor of choice as, while he nets you only one additional land/Forest as you have to sac a land upon playing Harrow BUT what makes me want to add it to the mix is the fact that Harrow puts the two lands into play untapped! This fits the mana curve of this deck here perfectly. If you managed to do a turn 1 BoP, you can Harrow on turn 2 and then have still two untapped Forests available for casting either Bassara Tower Acher or Silhanan Ledgewalker, and that whilst netting you an additional Forest in the process. That is my reasoning for running 4 Harrow in the deck!

Oh, lest I forget: Here is a card that would be perfect for a possible sideboard OR may be worth considerng to run main deck if the meta warrants it. Take a look:

And really the last thing I want to share about this deck: A card which I absolutely love for reasons of it being a crap rare that does an amazing job in drawing cards in the right kind of deck, and especially because it is a green card and green is not exactly known as THE color for potent, quality card draw. I am talking about..

I mean, come on, you only need say a Troll Ascetic with Rancor attached or just a lonely Dungrove Elder and cast Soul’s Majesty on turn 5 to replenish your hand drawing 5 cards for a mere 5 mana. Not to think of how big the card draw would be with Blanchwood Armor involved!!! Take that, blue and black – the “traditional” card draw colors. In comparison, nowadays you get 2 cards out of a blue Sorcery at a standard cost of 2U for example… I guess it would be well worth considering taking out just two Creatures (it would hurt but maybe one Gladecover Scout and 1 Bassara Tower Archer) in favor of swapping in 2 copies of Soul’s Majesty to open up the possibility of massive card draw!

So much for my approach to a Modern Monogreen Hexproof Beatdown Deck!! Man I got the itch to give this one a proper testing some time soon rally badly now…. glad I already own most of the cards needed to assemble the deck!😉


OK dear readers, Aldi my friend. This was my analysis of your deck idea and my demonstration of how I would in fact make two more or less fun and powerful, more focused decks out of your original approach. Again I think the idea of your proto decklist you kindly sent to me and which I showcased initially is not half bad and has potential. However I would streamline it a bit still, even if you want to stick with your not-too-shabby original concept and stratetgy. You don’t need to “obey my command” here (or anywhere else for that matter lol) as the above was simply me spilling out ideas and suggestions what I would do if I were you haha. I see it more as a mental exercise in Magic deckbuilding and strategy. If you would need my advice and input on how to streamline your original deck idea, I’d be always happy to assist of course!

And to you all out there , dear readers and fellow friends of MtG, I will propose to take a look at any of your decks you would want me to analyze and provide some input and feedback for as, and I mentioned it before, I LOVE doing the “Deck Doctor” thing – and because I am generally nice person always happy to help even a stranger in need wherever and whenever I can.

So if you got a “patient” (a deck that needs some improvement) for me, please don’t hesitate and email me at

andreas.propst31@gmail.com

and your request will be answered in a timely manner and I will do a similar blog post as the ones I did for my friend Aldi for yoru as well – with your kind permission as a matter of course! The offer stands indefinitely by the way!😀

I will be very much looking forward to any submissions! So yeah, bring it on you guys!!!😀😀

Until next time and, as always to you all out there:

HAPPY GAMING!!

Yours truly,

Andi

MtG: Guest Deck Article: Aldi’s Modern Deck

Greetings dear readers and friends of the fine MtG CCG!

This time I am here again with a very special treat for you all: As I have written enough about various decks and musings around and about said decks, I wanna do something quite different this time around. Today we are going to welcome a guest author who is a good friend of mine from Indonesia, who is as much into Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and card games in general as I am. I met Aldi (which is short for Novaldi) as the brother of another good friend and long-standing card artist of mine, Dennis Saputra, and currently, the three of us are working on an awesome new Elemental Clash Set going by the name of “Elemental Clash – Nusantara Tales”…

EC Nusantara Tales Logo FINAL small…which will be all about Indonesian mythology and folklore, following in the footstep of my previous “Austrian Tales” Elemental Clash Set all themed around Austrian folk tales.

While we were working on the Indonesian-themed Elemental Clash Set (a proper announcement will follow as soon as I have some more visuals to show off!), Aldi and I discovered our common passion for M:tG and started talking casually about the game. Over the course of our chit-chat we talked about our deck and at one point I said “How about you make a guest appearence on my blog?”. Aldi was all in for that and so I would like to give the word to my Indonesian friend, who will introduce himself in his own words (edited by my humble self as Aldi’s English is not exactly perfect – and neither is mine just for the record!!) and tell us a bit about his gaming background after which we’ll take a closer look at his current favorite Modern Format Deck! And after that, I will, with Aldi’s kind permission, comment a bit on said deck and suggest a few things here and there – if need be! So let’s hear it from Aldi now:

To begin with, let me tell you the story of a 26 year old guy who loves everything card games. I started out in my early teen years to play with Yu-Gi-Oh cards, which were actually fake ones. After that I really got into playing Yu-Gi-Oh playing a Synchro Deck made from some Starter and Structure Decks. I never won back then hahaha! After that I used to play a Watt Deck in YGO (Hopperlock)…but even then I never really won anything! After these episodes of my gamer life, I got into Magic starting in the Innistrad block/era. In Magic, my favorite color combination is Green-White because I like Green’s ability to search for land and its great mana acceleration and I like to play White because it has cheap and fast, cost-effective Creatures. And of course, you guessed it, back then I NEVER seemed to be able to win! After that I started experimenting with various other TCGs:  Pokémon, Kaijudo, Cardfight Vanguard… you name it! But all of that never quite satisfied me. So at some point I got back into Yu-Gi-Oh, right when the Hieratic Deck Archetype was in its “golden era” and, lo and behold, I actually managed to finish first in some tournaments in my nearby games store! I loved the playing style of my deck back then which was fast and able to summon a ton of monsters at a time. After a while I however had to realize that the meta game in YGO changes really fast and I was soon unable to compete and stay competitive with so many changes in the banlists and ever new cards being released, so once again, I came back to Magic: the Gathering, during the time of Return to Ravnica expansions. It was then that I started playing Selesnya (the Green-White Guild in Ravnica) and was somewhat successful with that making second and third places in various local tournaments once again. During the Theros block I took a break however because I did not quite like that one, for some reason. But with Khans of Tarkir I was back big time playing an Abzan (Green-White-Black) Deck which really rocked. Currently I am playing Abzan control in Standard featuring mighty Ugin, the Spirit Dragon! With that I managed to be placed 75th in national and usually finish 1st or 2nd in smaller local tournaments. What a story!

Well that is it regarding Aldi’s long journey or rather odyssey in the fascianting world of customizable card games! Let us no look at his current Modern Deck, which centers around Life Gain and the card Chalice of Life in particular – a card which I did not know about at all at first, since I took a break from MtG throughout the Innistrad Block…  Let us hear briefly what Aldi has to say about his Chalice Life Gain Deck:

The idea of one of my two current modern decks is to gain a lot of life as soon as possible in order to turn my Chalice of Life into Chalice of Death which would, in most cases kill my opponent in about 4 turns. As an alternative win condition I am running Felidar Sovereign and am trying to stall with Fog. I really like the idea and think the deck could be really cool but something is missing to make it at least somewhat competitive. The combo I am aiming at is just not happening all too consistently…
So yeah, let us take a look at Aldi’s Chalice Life Gain Deck List just as he provided it to me and after that, we will have a look at what could be done to make the combo happen more frequently!! Anyways, here comes:

Aldi’s Chalice Life Gain Deck (Modern):

Creatures…14

3 x Cathedral Sanctifier W
4 x Arashin Cleric 1W
4 x Nyx-Fleece Ram 1W
4 x Centaur Healer 1WG
2 x Rhox Faithmender 3W
1 x Feldidar Sovereign 4WW

Instants…12

3 x Fog G
4 x Heroes Reunion GW
3 x Whitesun’s Passage 1W
2 x Rest for the Weary 1W

Sorceries…3

3 x Healing Hands 2W

Artifacts…4

4 x Chalice of Life 3

Planeswalkers…3
2 x Ajani Goldmane 2WW
1 x Ajani, Mentor of Heroes 3GW
Lands…24
2 x Plains
2 x Forest
4 x Sunpetal Grove
4 x Kabira Crossroad
4 x Radiant Fountain
4 x Blossoming Sands
4 x Graypelt Refuge

My thoughts on the Deck:

I like the overall idea of the deck of transforming Chalice of Life, a card of which I had been totally unaware of previously as I mentioned already, into Chalice of Death and killing off your opponent through the ability of the latter in a matter of a few turns. There is a ton of very potent life gain in the form of Creatures as well as Instants & Sorceries as well as through lands. Out of 24 lands, a total of 16 are lands that give you some Life Points upon playing them.

However I can see why Aldi says the deck is not very consistent since all relies on one card pretty much – and that is Chalice of Life / Death. In a deck with neither tutoring (searching for specific cards) nor substantial, even ANY form of card draw I can imagine that you won’t get out your Chalice reliably and consistantly in most games. The alternative win condition through just one Felidar Sovereign seems unlikely as well.

I would mainly suggest adding additional win conditions besides the Chalice while taking out that single Sovereign altogether. On the other hand, I would up the numbers of of Rhox Faithmenders to as many as 4 as they turn your ever life gain into twice that life gain. I shall suggest some cards that may serve as additional, more reliable secondary win conditions and start with one that would have to change the deck altogether – by adding the color black to the mix. But before I do that, I would like to draw your and Aldi’s attention to one card that I have been using very successfully in a similar Life Gain Deck and that will make you gain life, and a ton of it, every single turn. Behold the mighty…

With 12 Instants, most of which gain you up to 7 Life, in the case of Heroes Reunion for instance, Isochron Scepter becomes a reliable, constant source of additional Life as you will be using it every single turn at the mere cost of 2 generic mana. And even putting a Fog (a card I am not sure about in this deck) on it will stop an opponent Creature assault short in its tracks.

But now to the suggested alternative win conditions or general suggestions of cards that could be added to the deck for great benefit, starting with the most unorthodox that would require substantial changes in the mana base of the deck since it has double black in its casting cost:

I am not saying “Aldi, add black to your deck” but Sanguine Bond would be a real killer in this deck. Just imagine playing Heroes Reunion for 2 mana, gaining 7 life and making your opponent lose 7 in the process. Furthermore, picture this with Rhox Faithmender in play. It would be an instant plus of no less than 14 Life for you and a loss of 14 for your opponent!! But yeah, to pull this off, Aldi would have to drastically change his mana base and I am not sure if it is worth the while, so let’s move on to more options.

Another great card with this deck would be…

which would give huge boosts of Power and Toughness to any Creature anytime you’d gain life, provided you can pay the (pretty minor) cost of 1W. However Cradle suffers from the same problem as this guy I initially didn’t even want to bring up at all:

While Cradle would boost your Creatures willy-nilly and Ageless Entity would grow to monstrous proportions in like no time, neither gives or has Trample, so even if you had a 20/20 Ageless Entity eventually, a single blocker would foil your evil plans…

A great equipment that may solve the “no-trample” problem and gain you a lot of additional Life would be Behemoth Sledge:

If you combined that with Ageless Entity or any of the Creatures already in the deck I think that would pretty much rock!

My last and maybe best suggestion probably can’t be added to the deck for the sad reason of the card being very costly. I will show it to you anyways:

Archangel of Thune would be f’ing awesome in this deck which has a lot of small and cheap Creatures as not only is it a flying source of lifegain itself, but alos on every instance of you gaining life, it will permantently boost all of your Creatures by +1/+1 in the form of +1/+1 Counters. That would make your army of little ones grow increasingly menacing in like no time. But yeah, sadly, at a cost of about 15+ USD it won’t be an option I guess, since we want to keep this one budget friendly as I assume…

In general, I would suggest removing the Planeswalkers, as awesome as they might appear, as well as the single Felidar Sovereign, from the deck in favor of another card composition and would say adding a playset of Birds of Paradise if available.. Can’t go wrong with Birds!😀

So Aldi, I don’t want to change your additional deck idea all too much but would like to present you with one of many suggestions for new decklist that may work out slightly better as your old one, if I may do so:

Andi’s Take on Chalice Life Gain (Modern):

Creatures…16

4 x Birds of Paradise G

4 x Cathedral Sanctifier W

4 x Centaur Healer 1WG

4 x Rhox Faithmender 3W

Instants…8

4 x Rest for the Weary 1W

4 x Heroes Reunion GW

Artifacts…11

4 x Isochron Scepter 2

4 x Chalice of Life 3

3 x Behemoth Sledge 1GW

Enchantments…3

3 x Cradle of Vitality 3W

Lands…22

4 x Forest

2 x Plains

4 x Radiant Fountain

4 x Kabira Crossroads

4 x Blossoming Sands

4 x Greypelt Refuge

My Final Thoughts:

I think while I removed some Life Gain cards, this version of the deck SHOULD in theory be more reliable as it does not solely rely on Chalice of Life (or a single Felidar Sovereign) for winning. For once you have Isochron Scepter now on which you can imprint your Heroes Reunion or Rest for the Weary, which will gain you substantial amounts of life on each and every of your turns. Birds of Paradise provide mana ramp/acceleration and are a GREAT target for Behemoth Sledge AND the prime target for the +1/+1 Counters placed through Cradle of Vitality. With Sledge giving Trample you can make sure that the Creatures boosted by Cradle WILL hit your opponent and the same goes for Birds of Paradise which will, in most cases, fly over the opponent armies, hence being a great traget for +1/+1 Counters too. This way you can well win in various ways without even drawing your Chalice of Life. If you do, then great, but if you don’t, no need to worry either as you will have mutliple ways to win besides the Chalice route to victory!

Well, Aldi, please keep in mind that all the above are just suggestions and you are not obliged to “obey my command” haha. Maybe you will find some of this article to some extent interesting and enlightening and will draw some good advice from it. In any case, I thank you for sharing your story and your current Modern Deck idea with us! I hope you won’t regret it.

So to all you out there, including my friend Aldi, I hope you have enjoyed this somewhat special MtG deck strategy article and as always I wish you one and all…

HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi