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

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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

YGO: My personal take on CHAOS DRAGONS

Dear friends and fans of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG!

It’s been quite a while since I posted about YGO on here or since I posted at all. Today I want to bring to your attention, after a long spell of silence, an at least to me very special deck I have developed / built myself, and which could even be somewhat competitive.  Anyways since I gave up on organized tournament play (I will spare you the reasons which would lead into a lengthy rant on my part – not going there at this point) and play mostly for fun in the confines of my home or with friends here and there casually, the competitiveness of my personal take on Chaos Dragons does not really matter. All that matters is the fun to be had with them.

The aforementioned deck I am going to showcase looks back on a looong line of “deck evolution”, being a Hieratics deck in the very beginning, then a “rainbow” Dragons deck (featuring great dragon cards from all Attributes) and now, since all the Dragon Rulers are flat out banned these days, I would call it my very own take on what many woud call “Chaos Dragons”.

As always, I will provide you with the decklist and follow up with some explanatory text on strategy and on how the deck is supposed to work out. So without much further ado, let’s get started already with…

Andi’s Twilight Dragons:

Monsters…26

3 x Plaguespreader Zombie

2 x Minerva, Lightsworn Maiden

3 x Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress

3 x Eclipse Wyvern

2 x Labradorite Dragon

3 x Lightpulsar Dragon

2 x Chaos Sorcerer

2 x Odd-Eyes Saber Dragon

2 x Odd-Eyes Dragon

1 x Dark Armed Dragon

1 x Blue-Eyes White Dragon

1 x Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon

1 x Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning

Spells…9

3 x Dragon Shrine

2 x Monster Reincarnation

2 x Charge of the Light Brigade

1 x Foolish Burial

1 x Burial from a Different Dimension

Traps…5

3 x Breakthrough Skill

2 x Skill Successor

Extra…8

1 x Goyo Guardian

3 x Michael the Arch-Lightsworn

3 x Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree

1 x Star Eater

About the Deck:

This deck seems like a classic approach of a Chaos Dragons deck, in which you’d fill your graveyard with Light and Dark Monsters in order to pull off powerful Special Summonings such as Lightpulsar Dragon, Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon, Dark Armed Dragon or the big boss of all of ’em: Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning.

The central piece of this Dragon-toolbox-like deck has always been and of course also is in my build…

It is simple: You send it to the graveyard from anywhere (Dragon Shrien is GREAT for this and some Lightsworns will help too), then banish any Lv. 7 or higher Light or Darkness Dragon and when Wyvern gets banished, let’s say by summoning Lightpulsar Dragon, Chaos Sorcerer or Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, you’ll get the previously banished Dragon into your hand, from where you can usually special summon it easily like in the case of almighty…

That is not new at all and not in the least original, but as I said I added my own touch to the basic Chaos Dragons Deck, for once using Dragon Shrine to great extent which sends any 1 Dragon (think Eclipse Wyvern) to the Graveyard from your Deck, or two dragons if the first one was a Normal Monster (and I have 3 of them in the deck). In exchange, I am running very few Lightsworn cards though. What makes the deck somewhat special and is probably the most original part of the whole thing is sort of a synergy (I hesitate calling it a “combo”) I discovered with a rather new addition to the family of Dragon Monsters. Lo and behold:

So what I love to do turn 1 is the following: Normal Summon Eclipse Wyvern, then tribute it to Special Summon Odd-Eyes Saber Dragon. This will let me banish a Level 7 or higher Light or Dark Dragon from my Deck. I usually pick Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon. When Odd-Eyes Saber Dragon is summoned, I can send a (Dark Attribute) Odd-Eyes Dragon to my graveyard. And hey presto, I have a huge threat already in the form of Odd-Eyes Saber Dragon and a Dark and a Light Monster in the Graveyard, ready to be banished to Special Summon something nasty, let’s say Lightpulsar Dragon. When doing so, Eclipse Wyvern’s effect will trigger and send the banished card (Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon in our example) to my hand. What I then do is banish Lightpulsar Dragon to Special Summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon. That means I now have two 2800 ATK Monsters in play and odds are in my favor that I will have another, possibly powerful Dragon in hand or graveyard to be Special Summoned right away through Red-Eyes Darkness Dragon’s awesome effect!! What a first turn. Second turn: Opponent plays Dark Hole… Less fun lol… 😛 😀

Also, this deck has quite some synchro potential and it is not all too difficut to get out the all powerful…

…or a potentially even more powerful Goyo Guadian as well as the great Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn.

One note on the side deck: It is obviously incomplete and needs some work still of course. Suggestions would be much appreciated!!

Ok thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to read my thoughts about my new Chaos Dragons version, which I personally enjoy playing a lot!

Next up in the Yu-Gi-Oh section of this here blog: A review of the AWESOME new Synchron Extreme Structure Deck!

Stay tuned (no pun intended!!)

And as always,

HAPPY GAMING to you all.

Yours,

Andi

MtG: Modern Budget Elves – Building (a) Deck(s) for a Friend…

Hello, hello and thrice hello to all Magic: the Gathering enthusiasts out there!

After a lengthy break in posting on here – due to massive workload in real-life, well sort of – I am finally taking the time again to write a new post on here. This time it is once again a Magic Deck & Strategy post, but one with a special purpose: My good old friend Thomas from a nearby city here in Upper Austria has recently gotten into MtG (or rather I talked him into it successfully – one could argue about that lol) and he has taken a particular liking to the Elves tribe, playing my (slightly) modified, very first “real”, serious Magic Deck, which was and is Monogreen Elves. Well, so we talked a bit and Thomas agreed to let me build a Modern Format Elves Deck for him, me using my supreme knowledge and skill on building decks on a limited budget (yeah, there we go again, bragging like hell as always… wicked, silly me!). So yeah, this article goes out to my friend Thomas and may amuse or be of interest other readers as well.

Since the deck will be intended for Modern Format (if and how competitive it will be has to be seen but we are going to play it casually for the most part anyways) we have to forgo on many a great non-Modern Elf card such as cheap mana maker Priest of Titania, life gaining Wellwisher and their best friend Ambush Commander… How unfortunate. Anyways there are tons of great Modern legal Elves to mess around with, so let’s see what comes off it!

Fortunately we got a lot of “Elven Gems” in Modern to choose from, first and foremost your one-stop Elf Deck win condition…

Once again unfortunately, the price of that one has risen considerbly, for obvious reasons, so, as we will have to confine ourselves to a very tight budget, we will be able to only run a single copy or MAYBE two in the two decks I am going to present in the context of this here article. However, one copy can still work as, and I’ll spoil that detail about the two decks I am going to present to Thomas in the form of this post and with all other interested readers, will be “Elf Toolbox Decks” powered by this fine Elven “Tutor” (card searcher):

Elvish Harbinger can search out Ezuri as shown above as well as pretty much any other Elf Spell (not only Creatures mind you but also Tribal Sorceries and Enchantments as we will see) plus he will provide some, rather negligable, mana ramp. I mentioned already that I will be showcasing two different builds of Elf decks. Well I want to give Thomas a bit of a choice here to some degree, the first deck being a Monogreen (green Spells only) Elves Deck and the second one featuring both green and black Elf Spells, thus being a two color Black-Green Elf Deck. So let us not waste any more time and get to Deck #1: The Monogreen Elf Toolbox Deck. First I will provide my suggested decklist as usual, followed up by some explanatory words on the strategy behind said deck! One last note: This is not supposed to be one of those expensive as hell Elves Combo Decks that grow rampantly everywhere nowadays, may it be in Modern or Legacy.

Alright, here comes

Monogreen Elf Toolbox for Thomas (Modern Format):

Creatures…26

4 x Llanowar Elves G

4 x Elvish Mystic G

4 x Elvish Harbinger 2G

4 x Elvish Archdruid 1GG

1 x Jagged-Scar Archers 1GG

1 x Imperious Perfect 2G

1 x Reclamation Sage 2G

1 x Ezuri, Renegard Leader 1GG

4 x Drove of Elves 3G

2 x Immaculate Magistrate 3G

Instants…4

4 x Might of the Masses G

Sorceries…4

4 x Elvish Promenade 3G

Enchantments…3

3 x Descendants’ Path 2G

Artifacts…3

3 x Slate of Ancestry 4

Lands…20

2 x Oran Rief the Vastwood

18 x Forest

About the Deck:

Well, the typical basis of any good Elves Deck is first turn (one casting cost) Elves like Elvish Mystics and Llanowar Elves…

These little guys will ensure you can either drop your number 1 Search Engine (Elvish Harbinger, as shown above) or your Priest of Titania replacement Elvish Archdruid reliably on turn 2. With Elvish Harbinger you have a ton of options. You can search out the big boss of all Elves, Ezuri, Renegade Leader and put him on top of your deck or pretty much any of your many one-of Elves. Before I talk about those, I would like to point you to a card that I REALLY REALLY like in a Tribal Creature Deck with at least some green involved, ESPECIALLY in conjunction with Elvish Harbinger. Take a gander:

So what you’d do, you’d search out your Elf creature card of choice with Elvish Harbinger, put it on top of your library and just wait until your next upkeep, when Descendants’ Path will put it into play reliably and for absolutely no cost to you whatsoever. And even without setting this up like this you have almost a 50:50 chance to get a free Elf through this awesome enchantments almost half of your deck consists of Elves (26 in total). Not too shabby I would say.

Here some other gems you can search out with Elvish Harbinger, besides Ezuri:

  • Jagged Scar Archers (1GG) are as strong as you control Elves and deal massive damage to pesky fliers.
  • Imperious Perfect (2G) strengthens all your Elves AND creates Elf Tokens.
  • Reclamation Sage (2G) is useful for getting rid of pesky enchantments and artifacts.
  • Immaculate Magistrate (3G) puts X +1/+1 Counters on target Creature whereby X is the number of Elves you control. That is so awesome I included not one but 2 copies of this one in the deck!

Also I am running a full 4 copies of Drove of Elves, which costs 3G and has Power and Thoughness equal to the total number of Elves you control PLUS it has Hexproof on top of that, meaning only you and no opponent can target it with Spells and Abilities.

A really awesome mid-game target for searching out with Harbinger is Elvish Promenade, since it is a Tribal Elf Sorcery that can be searched via Elvish Harbinger just like an Elf Creature. Just look at it!

Another great addition to the deck is the instant Might of the Masses. You are bound to have lots of Creatures around so why not attack with a few and slam this on the one unblocked attacker to swing in for some major damage.

Lastly, for massive card draw, I included 3 copies of Slate of Ancestry:

OK that’s it for the Monogreen Elves Toolbox Deck I would like to suggest to Thomas. On to the Green Black one!

Green Black Elf Toolbox for Thomas (Modern Format):

Creatures…22

4 x Llanowar Elves G

4 x Elves of Deep Shadow G

4 x Elvish Harbinger 2G

4 x Elvish Archdruid 1GG

1 x Imperious Perfect 2G

1 x Rhys the Exiled 2G

1 x Ezuri, Renegade Leader 1GG

1 x Lys Alana Scarblade 2G

1 x Shaman of the Pack 1GB

1 x Immaculate Magistrate 3G

1 x Nath of the Gilt Leaf 3GB

Enchantments…6

3 x Prowess of the Fair 1B

3 x Descendants’ Path 2G

Instants…8

4 x Might of the Masses G

4  x Eyeblight’s End 2B

Sorceries…4

4 x Elvish Promenade 3G

Lands…20

4 x Llanowar Wastes

6 x Swamp

10 x Forest

About the Deck:

Well much of the deck is the same or at least similar to the monogreen version we looked at above: There are 8 one mana mana makers, with the notable change of swapping in the black mana producing Elves of Deep Shadow…

…we got Descendant’s Path in there as well as a source of free, additional elves and of course our central search engine Elvish Harbinger. Only the targets are somewhat different in this one. Here the partly black one-ofs I included:

  • Lys Alana Scarblade (2B) lets you discard an Elf-card to give a Creature -X/-X whereby X equals the number of Elves you control. This adds some great Creature pinpoint destruction.
  • Rhys the Exiled (2G) gains you life and can be regenerated if needed.
  • Shaman of the Pack (1GB) has great stats as well and makes your opponent lose life equal to the number of Elves you control. Awesome with Elvish Promenade!
  • Nath of the Gilt-Leaf is one hell of a nuisance as well. Just look at what he does!

Probably the card that intrigues me most and has great potential in the deck, even more so as it can be searched via Harbiger being a Tribal Enchantment – Elf is Prowess of the Fair:

Basically whenever one of your nontoken Elves dies there will be a token to make up for the loss. Pretty cool when playing against control decks or decks with heavy creature destruction in particular!

One card has to be mentioned lastly. Eyeblight’s End is a highly potent creature pinpoint removal Spell that is tribal as well and can be fetched (searched) with your Elvish Harbinger if you need an answer to a threatening opponent Creature! I like it!!


Well Thomas, well, dear readers, these are my two suggestions for Modern Elf Decks built on quite a tight budget. I am well aware that one could create far better and more competitive Elves deck in the Modern Format but that was neither the goal nor do I or Thomas have the financial means to assemble such an über-powerful deck.

So yeah Thomas, now it is your call!! Which one will it be?? 😀

Anyways, to all my readers, thanks for your interest once again and I hope you enjoyed my little budget deck suggestion post. Maybe I will find more time to post more regularly on here again, on all kinds of subjects. There is definitely enough to share but not enough time, alas, on my end at this point in time.

So as always I wish you

HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi

P.S.: Thomas, you will find all the cards mentioned in the decklists at www.magiccards.info!! 🙂