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

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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

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

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

Treading the Path of Twilight – Black-White Decks for Modern/Casual and Legacy

Dear readers, it has been quite a while – months indeed – since I last posted ANYTHING on here. Well what can I say. I have been terribly busy with a well paid pixel art job, was on vacation in Ireland for 10 days and took a lengthy break from everything after that. But now I am back in full force and, having built about a dozen new Magic: the Gathering Decks over the past few weeks or so, and am feeling the itch to write about the same now again!

So as the titel suggests, this article will be about decks of one of my favorite color combination: Black-White.

Here’s a sample card that is arguably the best removal card in the whole game and it happens to be Black-White:

Vindicate is simply great – and simply deadly. But more on that highly versatile card later. Let me first showcase a Modern legal deck that is not intended to win me any tournaments, but which I just built for the fun of it – for casual play. Nevertheless I think it turned out quite decent. I had the idea for it when we recently drafted with M14 boosters and I got this Uncommon card here:

But before I go into any detail I will provide you with my full decklist for my Black-White Modern/Casual Deck:

BW Lifegain Beatdown (Modern/Casual Format):

Creatures…24

4 x Nip Gwyllion B/W

4 x Vault Skirge 1B

4 x Ajani’s Pridemate 1W

4 x Tithe Drinker BW

4 x Tidehollow Sculler BW

4 x Vampire Nighthawk 1BB

Instants…4

4 x Mortify 1BW

Sorceries…4

4 x Sign in Blood BB

Enchantments…8

4 x Edge of Divinity B/W

4 x Angelic Accord 3W

Lands…20

4 x Caves of Koilos

8 x Swamp

8 x Plains

About the Deck:

Well this deck has quite some power to offer, featuring cheap and efficinet creatures, most of which (16 out of 24) have Lifelink. Among them are the cheap Nip Gwyllion, which is a 1/1 Black and White Lifelinker for just 1 Mana (Black OR White), the disruptive Tidehollow Sculler which lets you exile any nonland card from an opponent’s hand upon being played and one of my all time favorites, the awesome Vampire Nighthawk:

I mean, what a package… 2/3 flying, deathtouch AND lifelink. What can you do wrong with such a Creature?

Another key-card in this deck is ultra-cheap but in this particular build ultra powerful Edge of Divinity:

This turns a Nip Gwyllion into a 4/4 Lifelinker for a total cost of 2 Mana in any combination of Black and/or White. Tidehollow Sculler would be a 5/5er, Tithe Drinker a formidable 5/4 Lifelinker and even Nighthawk, getting only the black part of Edge would become a 4/4 through this cheap and efficient Aura.

Now 4 is a magical number if you are running Angelic Accord as displayed above. Whenever you gain 4 Life you get a 4/4 Flying Angel Token. That is quite powerful if you look at the stats of our Lifelinkers as mentioned above. Every time a humble Nip Gwyllion with Edge of Divinity for instance attacks, you’ll get an Angel. Same goes for Tithe Drinker and Nighthawk.

Besides efficient removal in the form of Mortify and potent card draw in the form of Sign in Blood, Ajani’s Pridemate deserves an honorable mention. This 2/2 for 1W will easily become 3/3, 4/4 or even much stronger as he gets a +1/+1 counter each time you gain life, which is bound to happen a lot.

Well, bottom line, I think this one will be fun to play as it is, as of now, yet untested. Let’s move on to a more competitive (and at the same time a lot more expensive) deck I constructed recently:

BW Tripple Disruption (Legacy Format):

Creatures…8

4 x Hypnotic Specter 1BB

4 x Abyssal Persecutor 2BB

Instants…8

4 x Dark Ritual B

4 x Swords to Plowshares W

Sorceries…24

4 x Thoughtseize B

4 x Cabal Therapy B

4 x Innocent Blood B

4 x Hymn to Tourach BB

4 x Sinkhole BB

4 x Vindicate 1BW

Lands…20

4 x Wastelands

4 x Marsh Flats

4 x Godless Shrine

8 x Swamp

About the Deck:

Having earned quite the big buck with recent freelance jobs, I decided to invest in a playset of Vindicate, as shown above as well as four of these babies:

It has been a long held dream of mine to own Sinkholes, as destroying any land for just two Mana is simply too awesome – land destruction and resource denial being my favorite strategy in pretty much any game with a resource system. Sinkhole and Vindicate make for a smashing team, the former costing 2 and the latter 3 mana so you can start decimating the opponent Mana base early on.

I entitled this deck “Tripple Disruption” because it efficiently and inexpensively disrupts the opponent’s plans on three levels. First off the land destruction which we already discussed. Land destruction is one of my all-time-favorite strategy because it can foil pretty much any strategy or plan an opponent may have. Along with the Sinkholes and Vindicates, the latter being supreme pinpoint destruction against pretty much anything else besides lands as well, I am also running a playset of Wastelands to add even more resource denial.

Secondly, the deck packs a ton of hand destruction in the form of pinpoint hand card removal (4 copies of Thoughtseize as well as 4 copies of Cabal Therapy, which interact very nicely with each other) as well as random discard in the form of 4 Hymn to Tourach and 4 Hypnotic Specters. The latter are the only cards I am not entirely sure about – but hell, I just love to play a first turn Specter powered out through totally awesome Dark Ritual!

Thirdly and lastly, we got cheap and efficient creature destruction in the form of Innocent Blood, the classic, pinpoint Swords to Plowshares and of course the versatile Vindicate, which does not only destroy lands but ANY permanent – even nasty, evil Planeswalkers.

Thus, the deck can safely be called “Black-White Tripple Disruption” as it basically disrupts the opponent on three levels as discussed above.

Now what is probably most creative about this deck is the quite unorthodox win condition. I haven’t seen it played or on any deck list found on the internet but I am actually using a “crap mythic rare” as the finisher. Take a gander at this dark fellow:

In my eyes, this guy is simply awesome and I can’t quite understand why he goes for about a dollar a piece. I mean a 6/6 flying trampler for just 4 mana. I can’t win the game, eh? Well screw that. The answer to the riddle is Innocent Blood, which forces all players to sacrifice a Creature, being doubly useful, as well as the Flashback cost of Cabal Therapy, which, incidentally, requires you to sacrifice a Creature! So you’d basically bash your opponent with the Persecutor – and to a lesser extent with Hypnotic Specter – and once they are at or under 0 Life you’ll just sacrifice the big, bad demon guy and hey presto – you win!

So far I tested the deck in a mono-black version quite a bit and it was a blast so far. Very rewarding and fun to play for me, highly tedious and frustrating for my opponents which were, more than once, left without any hand cards and/or lands. The new version with a splash of White for Vindicate and, less important, Swords to Plowshares should even improve the deck’s versatility, power and overall fun factor for whoever wields it! I am highly amused!! 😀

Well I hope you enjoyed this new article after such a long spell of silence. I think I will be following up with more Magic: the Gathering deck articles as well as posts on other geeky/game-related topics in the nearer future!

Until then, I wish you all happy gaming!

Yours truly,

Andi

MtG: Streamlining a Good Friend’s Deck (Just a non-binding Suggestion!)

Dear readers and friends of Magic: the Gathering!

These days I am writing more about other people’s MtG Decks than about mine – and I have a crate-o’-decks myself that are newly built and would be worthy to be mentioned in an article, but yeah, I just love to play “deck doctor” and rather try to suggest decks or help streamline them for friends and acquaintances (If YOU want me to do that for any of your decks, just send me a mail at andreas.propst31@gmail.com and a 16 years magic veteran will gladly come to aid you!) these days.

So today I am going to take a look at a deck a very good (gamer) buddy of mine, Robin, whom you can see here in his usual attire…

farcino

…came up with and which I think has quite some potential, which I liked but at the same time had the feeling it could or rather should be modified in some ways and streamlined so to say so its performance would greatly increase. I know I couldn’t care less about what Robin’s deck looks like, and I am not sure if he would even appreciate my efforts on doing this, as he has a few “quirks” or “peculiarities” when it comes to building MtG Decks (I introduced him to the game only 1,5 years ago or so). Still I am doing this and hope that you, dear friend Robin, aren’t offended by this and don’t think I want to pester you with meddling in your MtG deckbuilding efforts. So here is a

DISCLAIMER: The following is just a friendly, non-binding suggestion.

You, dear friend and loyal “boy companion” Robin, do not have to do any of what I am going to propose but please keep in mind that all I want is to increase the consistency and overall performance of your new deck which I think has some potential if only modified to some degree, without changing anything about the great plan for a strategy you came up with. Also, the following changes I would propose to your deck would probably cost you less than 10 Euros if you buy the missing cards in our local magic shop. I know you don’t do that actually but you may want to consider it at the very least!

What I will do now is the following:

1.) I will take a look at and share with you Robin’s current decklist.

2.) I will try to identify some of the problems the deck might have and list some things that need to be changed in my PERSONAL opinion.

3.) I will suggest what I PERSONALLY would change about the deck to tackle these issues.

4.) I will post the final deck list SUGGESTION and will let you, Robin, decide whether or not you like any of it and will be making adjustmenst accordingly or not. Entirely up to you. Not trying to be a busybody, just trying to help a really good friend to improve his deck!!

1.) The Deck as it stands now:

Robin’s Deck is basically a Blue/Red/Green Aggro Control Deck making heavy use of Scrying, with his main victory condition being this nice lady mage here:

The first problem I saw was he was being running only one copy of the Flamespeaker. I instantly gave Robin a second copy of the card I had at hand and also provided him with 4 copies of Magma Jet and 4 copies of Serum Visions I had available and at the ready. He added the second Flamespeaker and I suggested to run 4 copies of each of Magma Jet and Serum Visions as most people go by the deckbuilder’s rule of thumb of generally accepting it as a good idea to run important/quality/key cards in playsets of 4 so your odds of actually drawing them would increase to the possible maximum. So the following decklist is what Robin’s Scry Deck looked after we added the second Flamespeaker Adept as well as 3 Magma Jets and 2 Serum Visions out of the cards which I had suggested and provided:

Robin’s Scry Deck (In its original state):

Creatures…17

1 x Voyaging Satyr 1G

1 x Kiora’s Follower UG

2 x Goblin Electromancer UR

2 x Omenspeaker 1U

2 x Frost Lynx 2U

1 x Two-Headed Cerberus 1RR

1 x Guttersnipe 2R

2 x Flamespeaker Adept 2R

1 x Horizon Chimera 2GU

1 x Prognostic Sphinx 3UU

1 x Prophet of Kruphix 3GU

1 x Savage Ventmaw 4RG

1 x Horizon Sholar 5U

Instants…11

1 x Titan’s Strength R

2 x Magma Spray R

1 x Spark Jolt R

3 x Voyage’s End 1U

3 x Magma Jet 1R

1 x Artisan’s Sorrow 3G

Sorceries…5

2 x Serum Vision U

2 x Spite of Mogis R

1 x Curse of the Swine XUU

Echantments…5

2 x Singing Bell Strike 1U

1 x Paralyzing Grasp 2U

1 x Quiet Contemplation 2U

1 x Temur Runemark 2G

Artifacts…1

1 x Bident of Thassa 2UU

Lands…21

1 x Temple of Secrets

3 x Izzet Guildgate

1 x Terramorphic Expanse

1 x Evolving Wilds

6 x Forest

5 x Island

4 x Mountain

2.) Identifying Possible Problems:

I think the first thing I keep asking people who are fairly new to M:tG is “what is the aim of this deck” or “how do you win” or even “how would you name the deck”. The first and most severe problem I see with the above deck, which again I like and think has a lot of “untapped” potential (no pun intended), is the lack of focus. There are lots of one-ofs and off-theme cards. So many random stuff that doesn’t do anything for the deck in particular are in the above lists. I do not intend to be rude, just trying to improve the overall composition of the deck in order to improve general performance. This high level of randomness is due to Robin’s particular approach to building a magic deck, which is rather random and he does is VERY reluctant to buy specific cards rather than some random boosters every now and then, even if the specific cards would be all Commons and/or super cheap. I do not intend to “convert” Robin to my approach, which is the approach of most of the “veterans” like myself, but maybe after this article, he will be accepting some of my suggestions. Anyways, and this goes directly to you Robin, do not complain if you lose more often than necessary with your deck if you don’t want to do something to fix it haha!!

So what I will be doing in the next part of the deck is to suggest VERY cheap ways to increase focus. I see two themes in the deck now but Robin only mentioned he wanted to win mainly through a massivley boosted Flamespeaker Adept, so this should involve a lot of Scrying. The secondary theme I see and which Robin did not tell me he was trying to pursue is keeping Creatures from untapping with Frost Lynx (a terrible, terrible card in general in my honest opinion), Paralyzing Grasp etc etc. As Robin said he wanted to win with boosting up a Flamespeaker through massive scrying, I will be focussing the deck on just that. That being said, each deck needs a secondary win condition as I think and we already got a great start in Robin’s Deck with this awesome guy (who goes for 50 US cens according to magiccards.info:

My second issue which I noticed when looking through the deck I asked Robin right away about was this:

“What for is the green in the deck?” or rather “Why do you play/need green in this?”. Well I think and said – and Robin agreed to some degree I think – we should cut the green altogether in order to get some additional card slots freed to make room for more to-the-topic cards! Honestly there are just 7 cards that require green to cast and all of these are one-ofs and, while they are not bad cards by themselves, do little to nothing to enhance the deck’s performance or rather nothing that helps the Scrying strategy and theme.

The third issue is a rather small one compared to the first two and is about the Mana Base. I think in such a deck, 21 Lands is just not enough (and Robin constantly suffers from lack of mana and mana screw as he painfully had to realize far too often than necessary) plus the color distribution is way off with the main colors, red and blue, getting only 4-5 basic lands of that color while the color needed the least gets 6 Forests.

How I would fix the Deck:

Basically, besides fixing the Mana Base a wee bit, which will be not that hard to accomplish, I would take out the small number of green cards altogether as well as get the deck focussed on the Scrying-Flamespeaker Adept Strategy with Prognostic Sphinx as the secondary win condition. The latter is great in and off itself as it flies, has decent stats, is not too expensive (both mana- and money-wise) and you can protect it via Hexproof anytime by just discarding a card from hand, BUT to top that off you get to Scry – for 3 (!) nonetheless – everytime it attacks which would, again, boost Flamespeaker Adept. And I would be taking out all the “tap” and “doesn’t untap” stuff as it has nothing to do with the main win condition (Flamespeaker Adpet) nor with the secondary one (Prognostic Sphinx). Also there are some some cards like Omenspeaker and Serum Visions which have better (?) alternatives. In the case of Omenspeaker I am quite sure that Augury Owl would be the preferrably option as it flies, giving you a blocker against big flyers and grants you Scry 3 instead of the Scry 2 Omenspeaker does upon entering play. Same case with Horizon Scholar. At 5U casting cost he is strictly inferior to Prognostic Sphinx.

So what I would be taking out in specfic would be:

1 x Voyaging Satyr 1G

– 1 x Kiora’s Follower UG

– 2 x Omenspeaker 1U

– 2 x Frost Lynx 2U

– 1 x Two-Headed Cerberus 1RR

– 1 x Guttersnipe 2R

– 1 x Horizon Chimera 2GU

– 1 x Prophet of Kruphix 3GU

– 1 x Savage Ventmaw 4RG

– 1 x Horizon Sholar 5U

-2 x Magma Spray R

-1 x Spark Jolt R

-1 x Artisan’s Sorrow 3G

-2 x Serum Vision U

– 1 x Curse of the Swine XUU

-2 x Singing Bell Strike 1U

-1 x Paralyzing Grasp 2U

-1 x Quiet Contemplation 2U

-1 x Temur Runemark 2G

-1 x Bident of Thassa 2UU

-1 x Temple of Secrets

-6 Forests

Well, not counting the lands I boldly propose to take out 26 cards so almost half of the deck. However the “heart and soul” of the deck that my buddy Robin had in mind when coming up with this new deck, which is very creative and has potential as I can’t emphasize enoug, will stay intact and in fact what Robin was aiming for will work out much more often, so the deck would become more consistent in performance and in fact more competitive, although I don’t think Robin will want to participate in any real (Modern) tournaments with this and we’d be just casually playing that deck. Still I think with the changes, which are highly inexpensive to make, Robin will have a much more enjoyable playing experience and his chances against my more obscure decks will be greatly increase.

So I have basically 26 non-land slots to fill in with cards I think will do the deck good. Well let’s make that 25 slots as I think the deck NEEDS at least 22 lands to work at all.

This is what I would add:

+2 Flamespeaker Adept

This is the main killer in the deck so I think running 4 of these is a must, even with lots of deck manipulation via Scry.

+4 Augury Owl

This is great as a cheap but effcient Scryer that doubles as a small flying attacker and blocker.

+2 Prognostis Sphinx

I think running a total of 3 of these should be enough for this being the secondary win condition!

+4 Condescend

This is a solid altenative for Mana Leak and can protect your Flamespeaker Adept plus it has Scry 2!

+1 Magma Jet & +1 Voyage’s End

I think we should make these 4-ofs!

+4 Preordain

I might be wrong but these could be better than Serum Visions in this deck as you get to Scry first and then draw!

+4 Aqueous Form

Come on, have a look at the card and then tell me that is not a match made in MtG heaven with Flamespeaker Adept:

You can also slam this onto your Prognositc Sphinx if you opponent has strong flyers or Creatures with Reach!

Also a great card for this deck from while back in the first Mirrodin block would be:

+3 Eye of the Watcher

So yeah with most of your instants and sorceries having Scry anyways you will scry the shit out of the deck if you got an Eye of the Watcher out, which will probably boost your Flamespeaker (if around) to mythical proportions!

My final Deck Proposal:

Again I have to stress the point that the following list is just how I PERSONALLY would run the deck. It is of course non-binding and nothing more than friendly advice. So please Robin don’t feel yourself pushed by me to apply any of my suggested changes at all. This is just what I think would get the most out of the deck you have and will make it work very well in the way you initially intended it to work out! So here’s the Deck List:

Andi’s Scry Deck Suggestion:

Creatures…13

4 x Augury Owl 1U

2 x Goblin Flectomancer RU

4 x Flamespeaker Adpet 2R

3 x Prognostic Sphinx 3UU

Instants…12

4 x Condescend XU

4 x Magma Jet 1R

4 x Voyage’s End 1U

Sorceries…6

4 x Preordain U

2 x Ire of Mogis R

Enchantments…7

4 x Aqueous Form U

3 x Eye of the Watcher 2U

Lands…22

4 x Izzet Guildgate

4 x Swiftwater Cliffs

7 x Mountain

7 x Island

OK and that’s it as for my deck enhancement suggestions. Please, dear friend, do not take offense in this or think I am being a busybody who meddles in stuff which is none of their business. All I wanted is give you some input in how to improve (and inexpensively so… most of the cards I suggested are commons and uncommons with the exception of Prognostic Sphinx as the single Rare, totalling in on an average of 50 US cents a copy) your great deck idea.

Thank you for your patience with me Robin and thank you to all of my reader’s for your attention. I hope you enjoyed my “deck pimping” article!

Happy gaming!

Yours,

Andi

MtG: Building a Modern Deck for a New Friend!

Dear readers and friends of the fine Magic: the Gathering CCG!!

As you may have realized at the very latest upon reading my last Magic-related article, in which I proposed a cheap but good beginner’s deck to an acquaintance of mine, I am a  very helpful person, or at least I am trying my best to be. So again, this shall be an article about a deck I did not build for my own enjoyment and use (though I would enjoy it myself as well for sure) but rather for a new and already very good (gamer) friend of mine. My new friend Stefan is a true old-school MtG veteran and stopped active play during the Urza Block. That means the good man missed over 15 years of MtG history and, before we met, didn’t even have a clue that they changed the card layout back in 8th Edition, let alone that there is now a proper format in which only cards from sets with the updated (modern) layout are allowed, so from 8th Edition onwards.

So, seeing Stefan’s interest in the game rekindled, thanks to me or rather by my fault so to say, we decided to build him a Modern legal deck at some point so we could participate in Modern Format Tournaments in our nearby Magic store some time. In order to save the good man some time and to spare him from the chore of going through some 16 years worth of new Magic Editions with hundreds of new cards each, I just quickly assembled something that may be to Stefan’s liking. It may not win him any big tourneys but for our local Modern crowd it should do just fine, plus it has some old-school charm, featuring a guy from back in the days that was hella expensive previously but had its price drop to next to nothing when they reprinted him with kickass artwork in a Modern layout base set. I am of course speaking of none other than mighty (or mighty annoying rather)…

Also, Stefan was pretty astonished and enticed at the same time when he saw that they released a cheaper (and better) Megrim, which he was familiar with from the VERY old Stronghold Edition:

Stefan’s excitement about Liliana’s Caress lead me, among other things, such as my new friend  marvelling at one particularly awesome Uncommon from pretty recent Zendikar (and I too keep marvelling at it as well)…

…lead me to build him a black discard Modern Format Deck with a splash of Red for things like classic Lightning Bolt and Terminate as well as for…

…which is just plain evil in conjunction with Liliana’s Caress – or Megrim. But let me show you the decklist I came up with for my new buddy Stefan before I discuss the deck any further. I will also include something akin to a “Maybeboard” – cards, that is, that Stefan can include and swap in to try out what suits him best. I am not the person to dictate which kind of deck another guy is supposed to play Odin forbid!! One last thing I have to get off my mind before going on. Hell, this deck NEEDS Dark Ritual!! Come on Wizards (of the Coast), do a Modern reprint!!!

Ok here comes my PROVISIONAL Decklist:

Stefan’s Modern Discard Deck:

Creatures…10

4 x  Hypnotic Specter 1BB

4 x Vampire Nighthawk 1BB

2 x Blazing Specter 2BR

Instants…8

4 x Lightning Bolt R

4 x Terminate BR

Sorceries…12

4 x Duress B

4 x Sign in Blood BB

4 x Blightning 1BR

Enchantments…6

4 x Liliana’s Caress 1B

2 x Megrim 2B

Artifacts…2

2 x Loxodon Warhammer 3

Lands…22

4 x Sulfurous Springs

4 x Dragonskull Summit

8 x Swamp

6 x Mountain

More About The Deck:

Well obviously the plan is to force the opponent to discard, which disrupts them considerably all by itself, with one or even more Liliana’s Caresses and/or Megrims out. With one of the latter, Blightning will, at the cost of 3 Mana, inflict a massive 7 damage to your opponent. PLUS they lose 2 cards that may have been important or even crucial to their strategy. I built the deck a bit more “control-ish” with very few Creatures, all of them starting at the 3 Mana cost level. Goddamnit, Dark Ritual would SO rock in this build, but sadly, we are confined to Modern Legal cards here…

Anyways the general plan is to use turn 1 to Duress your opponent for an important card on turn 1 or pass and burn away one of their early Creatures with Lightning Bolt on turn one or destroy a creature with Terminate on turn 2. Another good play for the 2 mana / second turn slot would be quality card draw Sign in Blood. Obviously, a second turn Caress would rock if you follow up with Blightning or Hypnotic Specter on turn 2. I threw in 2 Loxodon Warhammers, which might seem a bit random, but I do think, as the few Creatures you have are rather weak stats-wise but have awesome evasive abilities (among other awesome things), that Warhammer could actually speed things up quite a bit and turn your Specters in mighty (lifelinked, trampling) beaters!

This Deck could be played in a more “aggro-ish” style through altering the card composition by adding in some cheaper creatures. I have picked out a number of one and two drop Creatures for Stefan to consider and choose for himself whether he would like to run them in the deck, as what I proposed above is, as a matter of course, just a suggested decklist. Furthermore I will not comment on the deck’s competitiveness but think it could be a good start for Stefan to get a headstart into the Modern Format.

Among the MAYBE cards are cheap one and two drops such as Vampire Lacerator and Pharika’s Chosen as well as 2 Mana Nantuko Shade (which used to be super expensive in the past and now you’d prolly get a playset for a dollar).

Vendetta would be cheap Creature removal although in a Red/Black build I would think Terminate would be the better choice. Gatekeeper of Malakir would be basically an additional 3 drop and so would be Phyrexian Arena, which would generate some additional card advantage.


 

Well and that is my deck suggestion for my new, good friend Stefan, whose interest in Magic was, quite to my own joy, awoken again. Stefan will be visiting in an hour or so from now and then we’ll see what he thinks about my humble Modern Deck suggestion for him!!

Happy gaming!

Yours,

Andi

MTG: Building a Budget Deck for a Beginner!

Hello everyone and welcome once again…

…this time around for a very special Magic Decks article! I have the pleasure of playing the “Magic Mentor” for a new friend  of mine, Aeronne (or just “Aero” or even just “Ae”) from the distant Philippines, whom I met as a highly talented, communicative and enthusiastic as well as committed artist/illustrator for an upcoming, anime-style card game of mine going by the name of

Albensang cropped

(More on that game in an imminent, separate blog post).

So Ae asked me, a 16-years Magic: the Gathering veteran, to give him some insider tips and some advice on how to get started. He wanted to just purchase one of the nice and quite decent pre-built Intro Packs, but I had a better idea and said “How much of a budget do you have?”. I told Ae I could assemble him a decklist on a very tight budget that could beat the shit out of his cousin who had introduced him to the game. Upon being asked what color would be the best and easiest to get into the game, my answer was Green. I do think by any means that green is the color of choice for a bloody beginner like Ae and ironically, most beginners without expert advice from an “insider” like my humble self build green decks cause there are tons of Fatties in that color. Sadly, most don’t realize you need some massive “mana ramp” to make a Fatty deck work at all. So yeah, Ae trusted me and after agreeing on a budget of 20 – 25 USD, I proposed to build him a monogreen beatdown deck. In this article, which I write partly for Ae to read and understand the strategy involved, I will be putting myself to the challenge of building a (more than?) decent beginner’s deck on a budget of 25 USD at max (we will be taking the average card costs from http://magiccards.info just to clarify) . And man do I love a deckbuilding challenge like this. Oh and by the way, I will be building the deck Modern legal so Ae can participate in Modern Format events/tournaments with his deck!

So Ae, pay close attention as here follows the deck and strategic thoughts on the same!

So what I would propose to Ae as his very first magic deck would be something more special than just grabbing any of the many preconstructed decks. It will be customized and tuned to the max, within the boundaries of our 20 – 25 USD budget. So a monogreen beatdown deck it will be. One actually, that I play myself almost exactly like that, without the inclusion of any Rares or Mythic Rares. However it has some quite expensive Uncommons like Rancor, which I’d like to skip in favor of some cheap Rares I think.

So the most common mistake a beginner without any guidance or plan makes when building a Fatty Deck (a deck that is that is packed to the brim with high-cost, high-power creatures, mostly in green) is that they forget about ways to get them out fast – mana ramp/acceleration. For Ae’s first deck, I would not go for Fatties at all but rather for some mid-range, cost-effective Creatures like this awesome Beast  here…

…combined with lots of “Mana Elves”, Creatures that cost 1 green mana and can be tapped for one green mana, like…

….and their identical, more classic counterparts:

So the basic plan would be to drop one of your 8 Mana Elves on turn 1 and then be able to Summon something nasty and/or big as soon as turn 3, such as the above shown Leatherback Baloth. For the two mana slots there are amazing, I might even say insane Common cards available such as…

…as well as Kalonian Tusker. I mean come on… a 3/2 Trampler for just 2 Mana. How sick is that?? 😀

Also we have some very powerful Creature pumper Commons available such as the classic…

…or the basically free to cast Mutagenic Growth. This on the other hand would be the killer Spell in the deck:

What is more, I really like this rather new type of Instant or Sorcery that lets two Creatures fight outside of Combat, virtually giving green some sort of Anti-Creature direct damage, so I would like to include four copies of…

And lastly, I can hardly believe it, but look at awesometastic Troll Ascetic and guess how much a copy is nowadays:

So you see what kind of kickass package you get for only 3 Mana. And the cost in dollars must be a joke: You’d get a playset of four of these multi-talented trolls for two f’ing bucks (USD) if the prices on magiccards.info are accurate!! Simply unbelievable…

So let me wrap this up for you into a decklist and let’s see if it is within the predefined budget!

Ae’s Monogreen Beatdown:

Prices for playsets of four in brackets!

Creatures…24

4 x Elvish Mystic G (1 USD)

4 x Llanowar Elves G (0,80 USD)

4 x Kalonian Tusker GG (0,70 USD)

4 x Garruk’s Companion GG (0,80 USD)

4 x Leatherback Baloth GGG (4 USD)

4 x Troll Ascetic 1GG (2 USD)

Instants…8

4 x Giant Growth G (0,60 USD)

4 x Mutagenic Growth G (3,60 USD)

Sorceries…6

4 x Prey Upon G (0,80 USD)

2 x Overrun 2GGG (0,40 USD)

Lands…22

22 x Forest (next to nothing….)

Total Cost for all this shit: $14.7 USD!

Well done Andi, you just saved lucky Ae a little more than 10 US-dollars off of his Magic Deck budget!

Mind you guys, I am playing a very similar deck just without ANY Rare cards but some semi-expensive Uncommons like the previously mentioned Rancor and it can very well compete against a wide range of (not only) Modern Format decks, just because of its sheer, raw power and speed in quickly overwhelming your opponent with cost-efficient mid-range Creatures powered out by means of Mana Elves.

Just remember the basic plan Ae, try to get out a Mana Elf (either Llanowar or Mystic) on turn one to drop a mighty Leatherback Baloth or a very-hard-to-kill Troll Ascetic out on turn 3. Get blockers and other nasty/pesky Creatures out of the way by killing them off directly with Prey Upon, boost your unblocked Creatures with Giant Growth and Mutagenic Growth (the latter can be cast for no mana at all, just by paying 2 puny life points) and as soon as you have a large army of cheap but efficient beaters, swing in for the kill with a well-timed Overrun, giving ALL of your Creatures +3/+3 and Trample for one turn. In many cases, it will be your opponent’s last turn. So please go ahead and buy the cards together if you like my beginner budget deck suggestion, show your cousin who’s the boss and kick some ass elsewhere, maybe in a Modern Tournament, with this cheap-as-hell yet highly powerful almost all Common/Uncommon deck. The roughly 15 bucks will be worth it, trust me.

Thanks to you Ae for giving me the opportunity to let me suggest a list for your very first deck and for allowing me to lecture you on the ways of MtG and thank you to all other readers. I really hope this was helpful for you, Ae!

So, Ae my friend and all others:

Happy gaming!

Yours,

Andi