Modern is awesome. I have more fun with modern than almost any other format. However, I do have a couple of issues with it; I can’t play Jace, the Mind Sculptor, I can’t play Ancestral Visions, and I can’t play Stoneforge Mystic. I can play Cryptic Command, Snapcaster Mage, Thirst for Knowledge, Mana Leak, Swords, and Tarmogoyfs though! I’ve played a LOT of decks in the format (including every deck that has had something in it banned) and I love how the format is decently open. You can’t play whatever you want, but you can play a fair number of different decks. There are a lot of super powerful cards that aren’t seeing a lot of play that once either dominated their own standard formats or other formats such as legacy or extended. I really wanted to take advantage of Hawks and Swords again so I got to thinking.
I remembered a deck that I had theory crafted before modern was even officially announced. I had envisioned a deck that played Stoneforge, Squadron Hawk, and Serra Avenger along with blue counterspells, Ancestral Visions, and Jitte. Once the format was announced and we eventually got the original banned list I dismissed the idea of ever being able to play a deck like that. During the first modern PTQ season one of my buddies was piloting an incredibly similar deck except it was more aggressive build featuring Geist of Saint Traft and Sword of War and Peace. It had problems keeping up with the card advantage of Jund, or the speed of combo decks in the format.
Since Jund and most combo decks have slowed down or become a bit more fair I feel that a deck like this has a chance to make a real impact. U/W/R midrange decks are doing quite well in the format and I feel that this deck uses its mana in a more efficient way while doing more powerful things earlier in the game.
Without further ado here is the list I’ve come to:
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Moorland Haunt
3 Breeding Pool
3 Hallowed Fountain
2 Seachrome Coast
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Calciform Pools
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Squadron Hawk
4 AEther Vial
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Mana Leak
4 Cryptic Command
2 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Steelshaper’s Gift
2 Vedalken Shackles
24 Other Spells
I’ll go over some of the individual card choices and some of the
4 Squadron Hawk – Ancestral Recall that you get to play for 2 mana or for free off the vial is AWESOME. I loved playing this card and I always will.
4 Tarmogoyf – Goyf is just the most efficient beater in the game and being able to flash him in to block opposing goyfs or smaller guys is incredible. He lacks evasion but he can block and smash when needed.
4 Aether Vial – This is the engine that really drives the deck. It makes all of your creatures free, instant speed, and VERY difficult to play around. It’s a great card and it hasn’t seen enough love in modern.
4 Cryptic Command – The best blue card in modern. I play 4 whenever possible and this deck can abuse every mode better than any other deck. Tap your team, bounce your land is honestly just as common if not more common than counter/draw in this deck.
4 Thirst for Knowledge – This is the basic draw engine of the deck. Discarding your 2nd – 4th vials for 2 other cards is INCREDIBLE. Drawing into more Cryptic Commands or Swords is even better than you think. Thirst for Knowledge is also better in this deck than most other decks playing it since it’ll turn your useless mid/late game Squadron Hawks into fresh cards. This also helps the 2 copies of Moorland Haunt pump out some dudes if you’ve ever run out of cards (I don’t know how but if it happens we’ve got a back up plan)
1 Sword of Feast and Famine – I started playing when Caw-Blade first came out so I’ve got some fond memories of this card. This is the best sword by far, but it’s not the one you’ll always tutor for. It’s the most synergistic with the rest of the deck and really shows off how much better with mana this deck is than almost ANY other.
There are a few traditional U/W cards that aren’t present here and there are good reasons, I’ll talk about some of them:
Path to Exile – Path is pretty terrible if you’re trying to fight your opponent on mana so it’s not making it’s way into the deck.
Vendillion Clique/Kitchen Finks/Restoration Angel – They don’t cost 2 mana and Restoration Angel only interacts with one of my creatures (Squadron Hawk only needs to trigger once to get every ounce of value out of it).
Tectonic Edge – I actually feel pretty awful that I can’t fit this card in. I’ve tried to, but I can’t play both Moorland Haunt and Tectonic Edge. I’ve found that Moorland Haunt is slightly better since I want to give my self as many chances to connect with a sword as possible. I had a Goyfless version of this deck built and it played 4. It worked pretty well, except the deck didn’t play defense as well as this version.
Remand – I’m not playing much in the way of hard removal and I’m not SUPER aggressive, so I’m going to be mana leaking as it gives a more permanent solution to the spells I’m trying to interact with. Remand is an excellent card, just not so much here.
Why Green over Red? – Red gives us a slew of good spells, and we already had enough awesome spells, the deck needed a creature. Red doesn’t have a great 2 drop, which is what we needed. I contemplated Voice of Resurgence, but it makes white even more important, and I don’t feel that I’d be abusing the token as well as other decks.
This deck is extremely fun to play and has an absolute TON of options. I love U/W aggressive decks and this one is actually very good. If you guys and gals have any comments or suggestions I’ll be happy to listen and respond! Thanks a ton for reading!
Today I’ll be completing the 30 Day MTG Challenge in 30 minutes or less. Here I go!
Day 1: Favorite Color:
Blue, hands down, not even remotely close. I LOVE blue.
Day 2: Least Favorite Color:
Uhm… Red… Sorry lightning bolt.
Day 3: Favorite Format:
Modern. It’s big enough that there are plenty of viable decks, but not too big to big or too far back that it’s insanely overpowered or expensive.
Day 4: Favorite Deck from your Favorite Format:
This one is tough, I’m inclined to say Melira Pod combo, although it could also be U/W.
Day 5: Favorite UN-Card:
Although I dislike Un sets (and if the basic lands don’t count…) Richard Garfield, Ph.D. Mental magic is sweet.
Day 6: Favorite creature type/tribe:
Wizard. Elves are mighty close with Faeries close behind them.
Day 7: Favorite Keyword or Mechanic:
Hmm.. Flashback then Storm coming in close behind that.
Day 8: Favorite Planechase Plane:
Goldmeadow, goats are friggen awesome!
Day 9: Favorite Archenemy Scheme:
Perhaps You’ve Met My Cohort.
Day 10: Favorite Set or Block:
Set: Zendikar Block: TimeSpiral block
Day 11: Least Favorite Set or Block:
Day 12: Favorite Card Art:
Force of Will! I love reds and blues together.
Day 13: Favorite Illustrator:
Day 14: Favorite Magic related story (epic win, funny tale, etc):
I was x-1 at GP Philly late in the day playing a Bant Populate deck and I was beating my opponent down with Bird tokens and he was playing a slower U/W/r deck. He tanked for a moment then played a supreme verdict in game 1 and he figured that was pretty much putting the game away for him, and I just windmill slammed Rootborn Defenses as he dropped his hand on the table, put his hands on his head, and exclaimed “****!” I won the match, but barely missed day two.
Day 15: Favorite Flavor Text:
I will show you fear in a handfull of dust.
Day 16: Favorite Card Combination:
Time Vault & Voltaic Key
Day 17: Favorite EDH General:
Gave, Guru of Spores. He was my first General that I had all the staples for and people hated playing against it so much I was forced to take it apart.
Day 18: Favorite Land:
Springjack Pasture/Library of Alexandria.
Day 19: Favorite Artifact:
Birthing Pod! It’s an incredible build around me card that’s super powerful.
Day 20: Favorite Creature:
Ugh…. I have such a love hate relationship with creatures… I can’t pick between Snapcaster Mage and Dark Confidant. Too hard of a choice with this time limit!
Day 21: Favorite Enchantment:
I wish I could say Bitter Blossom but I was never able to play with it, so I guess the award goes to, Survival of the Fittest.
Day 22: Favorite Sorcery:
Thoughtsieze, because I love making my opponent have less fun than me!
Day 23: Favorite Instant:
Ancestral Recall, not close.
Day 24: Favorite Planeswalker:
Jace, the Mind Sculptor, even less close!
Day 25: Favorite Card from the latest set:
Plasm Capture because I LOVE Mana Drain!
Day 26: Favorite Tournament to attend:
GPs are awesome, but PTQs are perfect sizes that I can still hang out with my friends in between rounds without having to search through 2000 players.
Day 27: Favorite Magic Pro:
Finkle is the one I look up to the most, but LSV’s my favorite pro to watch and listen to.
Day 28: Favorite Magic Website:
Day 29: Favorite. Card. Ever. (So far):
Jace? Ancestral? Force of Will? Snapcaster? Liliana of the Veil? Uhm… I’ll answer this one later? Darn, I have to now… Jace!
Day 30: Favorite Deck that you have ever played:
Caw Blade. It’s the deck I learned the most from and it’s what got me started playing competitive magic which got me my job and all my best friends!
Day 31: Favorite card that you own (The pride and joy of your collection):
I really don’t know. My collection is pretty extensive but I don’t think I’ve got an incredibly outstanding piece. I guess my Chinese playset of Snapcaster Mages gets the nod here. I love being able to shuffle up those bad boys!
Just over 27 minutes! Fill it out for yourself and leave the answers in the comments or just answer them for yourself. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!
Hello all, it’s that time of year everyone is excited for: prerelease time!! Everyone gets a chance to play with the new cards and see if they are viable for Constructed play. Listed below are the top 5 cards (in no particular order) I think will impact Constructed play in one way or another.
1. Shock Lands (Stomping Ground, Godless Shrine, Breeding Pool, Sacred Foundry, Watery Grave) – This is pretty much a given. Shock lands have been important in constructed play since Ravnica was first introduced. All the more important now, the shock lands allow you to get greedy with your manabase; especially the green/x lands (arbor elf shenanigans and farseek). These cards will ALWAYS be played (unless you’re mono-color ).
2. Boros Charm- This card has been hyped so much and for good reason. I think all 3 modes are versatile. 4 damage to finish off an opponent, double strike for combat tricks or to sneak in damage, and PERMANENT INDESTRUCTIBILITY (ignore wrath or set up for favorable combat scenarios).
3. Skullcrack- Here is a solution to a lot of the current sphinx’s revelations and thragtusk problems that are currently plaguing Standard. While I don’t believe by printing this card, it will stop other players playing thraggy and sphinx’s rev, it does create a window to stop a game from getting out of control.
4. Aurelia’s Fury- I’m not sure if this card is better than Bonfire of the Damned (If standard becomes a boros charm heavy meta then yes). To me this seems like a tap-all-opponents creatures and use the rest of the mana to hit opponent’s face and crunch in with creatures spell. I think the card will get played and it will be devastating.
5. Frontline Medic- From a top-down design, this guy is awesome. 3 mana for a 3/3 body is ok, but when he comes with indestructible with attacking and the ability to “counter” aurelia’s fury, bonfire of the damned and sphinx’ revelation; these abilities are too good to ignore.
Christopher Rue is a competitive Magic player from Cumberland, Rhode Island. He can be found at local PTQs and regional GPs. Chris is most fond of standard, and the color blue, but also likes getting aggressive with his favorite card, Hero of Bladehold.
I’ve been drafting more often as of late, and I feel like I get better with every draft I play in. However, it’s hard for me to get out of the habit of playing the aggressive deck, which I’m not always going to get in a limited environment. In Return to Ravnica, the Rakdos Cult offered drafters that aggressive deck with cards like Hellhole Flailer, Bloodfray Giant, and Chaos Imps. More-so you could add green to the mix and throw in other aggressive creatures like Dreg Mangler, Korazda Guildmage, and Lotleth Troll. Or you could get lucky and snag a Corpsejack Menace to make your Unleash creatures even bigger. Speaking of which, the guild mechanic Unleash is all about being aggressive. The Gruul Clans offer another attack-oriented mechanic in Bloodrush. Here’s an example; Slaughterhorn:
With Bloodrush, you can turn your creatures into pump spells. Note that it’s only attacking creatures, so you can’t try to block your opponents huge creature and make your blocker bigger. You can’t have your cake and eat it.
There will only ever be two times when you want to use these cards: When you absolutely need to kill your opponents blockers, or whenever you can get in enough damage to finish them. Here’s another Bloodrush card that’s a little different from Slaughterhorn:
Bloodrush isn’t just about increasing power and toughness. If the creature you’re discarding has some sort of ability, like Trample, First strike, or Deathtouch, the creature you’re making bigger will also get that. Int he case of Ghor-Clan Rampager, your creature will gain trample as well, which can be a form of pseudo-evasion.
The obvious downside of this ability is that you’re using your creatures as one-time boosts to a creature already on the battlefield and ready to attack. This can be bad, especially in Gatecrash which seems to be packed with tons of instant-speed removal and other assorted tricks in every color. So unlike a pump spell, where getting two-for-oned isn’t terrible, getting two-for-oned when your two is two creatures… It can be backbreaking to be down those two creatures. So you have to really play it careful with Bloodrush. If you think there’s even the slightest chance your opponent could have the removal spell for you, don’t risk losing a creature over it. If they use a spell to get rid of your attacker when you don’t use Bloodrush, just cast the creature during you’re postcombat main phase. If they don’t remove the creature, it’s probably just better to cast the creature anyways and keep applying pressure through board presence. Or you could double down and try to get them with it next time. Bloodrush is almost always going to catch the unaware or unprepared player off guard, and force people who keep it in mind to take a few extra seconds during your attack phase. Before I move off of Bloodrush, I want to touch on one more creature:
If you’re playing Gatecrash Limited, watch out for this thing. If you’re not careful, he’s going to kill you. If you casually say to your Gruul opponent ‘Take it,’ when they swing in, and you see them Bloodrush this, you’re going to regret it. Even if they use it on a mediocre 3/3, you’ve just now taken twelve damage. Be careful when facing your Gruul or even Boros opponent, because this guy will wreck you.
Now lets touch on a few cards that stand out that don’t have Bloodrush. Lets start with the ones you’ll probably be seeing most: The Commons.
Don’t mind the Rakdos guild member on the art. This can make combat really awkward for your opponent. Do they block with their only two creatures and possible lose them, or do they block the smaller creature to kill it and take the creature you have enchanted by this? It can really clear the way for one of your creatures to sneak in.
Here’s Gruul’s instant-speed removal. Remember Prey Upon from Innistrad and Magic 2013 limited? Well, now Gatecrash has one for one more mana at instant speed. It’s not flat-out removal, since you need a creature to utilize it, but since when does reg-green not play creatures?
Bears will always have their place in limited, and this on can get First strike for just one red mana. Not much else to say about this one.
Silhana Ledgewalker was superb in Ravnica block limited. Spire Tracer is Ledgewalker’s younger sister.
Now we’re up to uncommons, and this one’s pretty self explanatory. It’s creature removal when you need it, and a burn spell to your opponent’s face when you need to finish them off.
This card really reminds me of an inside-out Golgari Decoy, where he lets you get through your opponents blockers. The only problem I see with this is that they can just block your biggest creature.
This seems like it could be really fun to play during your post-combat main phase, after you’ve Bloodrush-ed one of your creatures.
This did some work in Invasion block, and I can see it doing work now. Putting your opponent down a land and you up a land on turn five can be amazing, since the six-mana threshold in where a lot of bombs start dropping.
The other Gruul removal card. So long as you keep playing lands, it can kill almost anything you’d need it to.
Skarrg Guildmage, to me, is tied with Vizkopa Guildmage for the title of ‘Best Gatecrash Guildmage.’ For two mana, it’s first ability can ensure you get some damage through your opponents blockers. And for three mana, it can ensure that you have a beefy creature to attack with.
The Keyrune isn’t too bad. A 3/2 with Trample has it’s uses.
Left unchecked, this rare can just take over a game. Thankfully you won’t see it too often.
Here’s Gruul’s rare removal. It’s just great. It can kill a creature on the ground, in the air, and even throw some fire in your opponent’s face.
A big body that can impact the board when it comes out is great, and boy does Gruul Ragebeast deliver. Not only that, but every creature comes into play under your control, you can fight with a creature your opponent controls. Too bad you absolutely have to fight, no matter how big of a creature your opponent might have.
5 damage is a lot in limited. All you have to do is connect, block, or be blocked with something five times to be able to activate it once.
Well, that’s it. These cards all seem quite formidable, and they all look like cards I can’t wait to open up in my sealed deck or in my draft packs. Don’t forget TJ Collectibles is holding their pre-release, and you can still pre-register for Gruul, or any other guild that you want to play. Make sure to pre-register so you can ensure you play with your favorite guild.
I want to turn the attention to you. I want to write about whatever it is you want to read about. That’s why I want you to leave me a comment with a short description of the types of things you want me to talk about for next week, or even just general things you want me to talk about here.
Tournament Report: GP Atlantic City
by Ryan Leverone
The goal is not to start a fight; the goal is to finish the fight. This is a concept I first became familiar with while learning martial arts as a child. Do not go out trying to pick a fight and being a punk. Keep a level head and, if it comes to it, hold nothing back.
I knew that the weekend of the ACGP was coming up fast, and I still had no ride there and no one to go there with. There was a strong chance I would not be able to go. If I did end up there I had no idea what to play. The week before I had been in contact with Ross Merriam about what he thought about the format. I have played little standard as of late and had no clue about the format.
Just on the face of it, there is a multitude of angles of attack. There is no set best deck in aggro, control, midrange, or combo. Sure, some perform better than others, but the pillar cards of the format tend to fit in multiple decks just by definition. Quality of mana fixing begets a large quantity of options. In past multicolored formats there were still choices to be made on what cards to play, but now cards like Thragtusk, Sphinx’s Revelation, and Angel of Serenity are just too good to pass up and go in everything.
That is if you aren’t looking to end things before they begin. The aggro decks are equally as busted in their power level but only in relation to mana cost vs. power. Obviously a Thragtusk rains on the parade of red decks, but efficient early drops combined with cards like Hellrider, Pyreheart Wolf, and hasted fliers allow you to go down on cards and still bury someone’s life total.
Everyone can be ready for the heavy hitters with a midrange deck. Aristocrat and Hellkite aren’t the massive beating that they are without the early game pressure to turn them into the uber-dangerous threats they are. An Aristocrat bearing down on your life total of 18 is much different than one at 10, 11,or 12. In essence, IF you can play crowd control early and break their late game, then a midrange deck of good cards can have a strong R/x aggro matchup. Now the only consideration in deck building is finding the right balance.
Consider this deck we are building in relation to the midrange and control decks. Does being hell-bent on beating these red aggro decks hurt your other matchups? Can you make a deck that is incredible at everything? It would have to be good against tough creatures, huge hand sizes, and blisteringly fast starts. This calls for a hero in all formats.
Ryan Leverone – Jund Midrange
Grand Prix Atlantic City 2013 – Top 8
17 other spells
A Card By Card Breakdown
4 Huntmaster of the Fells, 4 Thragtusk – Pure cleanup duty against aggro and tough bodies to deal with for control/midrange. Play 4 of both always and forever.
4 Vampire Nighthawk – Batman never worked this many hours. It stonewalls larger creatures and provides a body that can make life totals lopsided. An all-star in all matchups. In many ways it’s like Farseeks 5-8 against aggro, pulling you back into games you wouldn’t normally even be in.
3 Olivia Voldaren – The ultimate creature based game ender vs midrange. Also a strong card vs control as pinging your own guys to create a gigantic beater is a thing. One of the main reasons you don’t have to commit to more Bonfires.
2 Thundermaw Hellkite – The planeswalker eater himself. This doozy deserves more spots in the deck as it got busy on people in a hurry.
4 Farseek – Best card in the deck. Puts you a full turn ahead where you should be and fixes mana in a three color deck. Don’t leave home without it.
3 Searing Spear, 3 Ultimate Price, 2 Pillar of Flame – Playing this deck and not committing strongly to early removal is 100% wrong. You cannot expect to have positive win percentages against the aggro decks without them. This is the balance you have to find, between spells like these…
2 Bonfire of the Damned, 2 Rakdos’s Return, 1 Garruk, Primal Hunter, 1 Rakdos Keyrune – …And spells like THESE! Don’t get me wrong, you can catch aggro decks in tough spots with miracled Bonfires and perfectly timed Returns, but these are designed for midrange decks. An important note, Bonfire is not the best against control, but is still strong against their planeswalkers. Don’t be afraid to not miracle one if you think you don’t need it.
2 Kessig Wolf Run – Two extra spells from the land spot. Goes great with any creature.
4 Deathrite Shaman- This is kind of a hedge bet that the old extended Jund decks used to do. They would pack in 4 Ancient Grudge for the tough Affinity matchup and bring in 1 to 3 in other matchups. I was not incredibly confident against Reanimator decks so the full 4 are for them and we can bring in less in other matchups as needed.
3 Liliana of the Veil – A strong card in multiple matches. Great vs control and against creature decks that load up on one creature or even ones with easy to kill creatures. Sometimes what you need is to kill a guy and force them to attack a planeswalker, a mini Lightning Helix if you will.
3 Slaughter Games – The best way to beat this deck is to negate its advantages with bigger threats a la landing a Sphinx’s Revelation, a Bonfire, a Return, an Angel of Serenity. When your own Returns aren’t enough you have to beat them to the punch. As always, the information of their hand is hugely important too.
2 Curse of Death’s Hold – ….Ummm, bring it in against decks with lots of one toughness guys….
1 Rakdos’s Return – Apply when necessary, when two just isn’t enough. Seriously, this thing is the business against Thragtusk decks and blue decks.
1 Rolling Temblor – Every card has a purpose. Why have an extra removal card against Humans and Mono Red when you could have one against their whole team?
1 Staff of Nin – Due to one of my childhood movie favorites, The Secret of Nimh, I always accidentally call this the Staff of Nimh. The more correct mispronunciation however is Staff of Win. Phyrexian Arena in this format would be way too good. This monster costs twice as much and does twice as much heavy lifting. It probably deserves a maindeck spot.
Round by Round Breakdown:
Round 1 – Bye (1-0)
Round 2 – Bye: Get as many of these as you can (2-0)
Round 3 – Michael Hopkins(Revelation Naya): I vaguely knew of Michael from jamming games against him with Griffin Corrigan’s stack. Sadly Rakdos’s Return eats his deck and their isn’t much else to say. Game 1 it leveled any chance he had and in Game 2 a topdecked Angel of Serenity wasn’t even enough to pull him back in the game. (3-0)
Round 4 – Kiyan Nourain(Naya Human): This was Kiyan’s first GP and he was very excited having come into it with three byes. I was lucky to find my removal in Game 1 and Game 2 I miracled my first Bonfire of the weekend. He had very strong technical play and simply ran into cards that were good against him. I’m hoping to hear more from him in the future. (4-0)
Round 5 – Matt Costa(UWR Control): In addition to being an all-around nice guy in the New England Magic scene he is also one of the best players on Earth. I knew I would be facing blue and white cards, but not much else. Game 1 was a very academic win for him, he set up tough blocks and attacks for me with Azorius Charms when I bricked on lands. Game 2 was outrageous. We traded resolving our X mana cost spells over and over until the dust settled where he was left without enough of anything. Matt finally ran out of gas losing the game at 1 life due to natural decking. Game 3 was an anticlimax, He kept a hand with three counterspells and drew land on every draw step from there. I land one spell and it goes the distance. (5-0)
Round 6 – Shahar Shenhar(Dark Naya): When it rains it pours, my second Platinum level pro in a row. Game 1 we traded X spells, his Return and my Bonfire. I’m in a great position but his freshly drawn Olivia trumps my whole team. Game 2 I resolve Return and Bonfire on consecutive turns to strip him of every important card. Game 3 is a speculative keep on 5 for me and a Farseek from him on the play puts him too far ahead. (5-1)
Round 7 – Tom Strong(UW Flash): Another very competent New England player. Time to test out the matchup vs a Geist of Saint Traft deck. Game 1 he expends all his Unsummons and Charms and my life gain and a non attacking Olivia steals angels for the win. Game 2 is my introduction to the horror that is Jace, Memory Adept. He never used the zero ability save once, using the plus 1 ability to bury me. Game 3 is a combination of Games, Return, and Staff that crushes every blue deck ever. (6-1)
Round 8 – Jeffrey Braustein(Bant Lifegain) – This deck is sweet: Rhox Faithmender, Revelation, Centaur Healer, Thragtusk, ect. Game 1 I mull to a very poor keep and he doubles his life total. Game 2 Staff of Win makes losing actually impossible. Game 3 he stumbles on mana and gets smashed by Return. (7-1)
Round 9 –Chris Wilcock: He lost his deck(8-1). This gave me a chance to catch my breath. The slow format made the tournament go very late, it was going to be 10:30 at the start of round 10. I took the chance to walk the hall and check up on my friends. As I stumble upon my friend Jono’s win and in match I recognize his situation is purely horrible. He is playing against a ten-year-old girl. Either he loses to a ten-year-old girl and goes on life tilt or crushes her hopes and dreams. Die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. He ended up winning. The young lady seemed to take it in stride. Hope to see her do well at other tournaments.
Round 10 – Fai Littman(UWR Control): I saw Fai on the way down to the venue, at the hotel, out to eat, and all through Friday. He is another New England PTQ ace. Game 1 I get crushed by a Geist draw and burn. Game 2 I brick a ton of draws on lands, but resolves a Return and Thundermaw and carry it home. Game 3 is a careful crafting off the information from a Slaughter Games. I finally force him to play his detention sphere and slam two Nighthawks. 1 Wolf Run later…(9-1)
Round 11- Zac Hill(Zombie B/R): This is his first major tournament since leaving R&D so he had now byes…and is 9-1. Strap in for Day 2 early. Game 1 I’m on the draw but he only gets me to 1 life after life gain and my Wolf Run takes him to 0 exactly the next turn. Game 2 im doing well but I don’t hit a fifth land for Olivia and his Aristocrats live to run me over, I guess pinging isn’t enough against x/1’s in this format. Game 3 my keep isn’t great and I use a Price too early and fall to a Hellkite. (9-2)
Round 12- Kevin Anctil(Hexproof Pants): He is Canadian so I know he is either on one of the control decks they seem to be on or the Hexproof deck, turns out to better the latter. Game 1 he gets a Stalker suited up but my Return hits his whole hand, and he draws lands while I play creatures that gain life. Game 2 I draw every sideboard card I have and feel like I have stolen two games from a very swingy matchup. (10-2)
Round 13 – Tyler Morey(Zombie B/R): This is my second opponent playing his first GP. Once again I get very lucky against a competent opponent who is knew to the Grand Prix nature of run goods. Game 1 I draw both Pillars and a Price for his Thundermaw, add Olivia for spice. Game 2 he mulls to 5 and the first Thragtusk is enough and the second is overkill. (11-2)
Round 14 – Josh Ravitz(Bant Control): To quote Caleb Durward, I am on mono competent opponents with mono good decks. Game 1 sees my draw the spot removal vs the control deck. Games 2 & 3 both go my way due to a heavy dose of Return and Slaughter Games, punctuated in Game 3 with another appearance by Staff of Win. (12-2)
Round 15 – Jarvis Yu(Bant Control): This is the money round. I might be able to draw next round but no matter what this match stands in front of me. Game 1 I get on the board early with Nighthawk and Hellkite. My eyes light up when he has to tap out for Terminus, as next turn Return comes down once again and a Huntmaster and Keyrune take it. Game 2 he gets down some good counters and Charms with a Drownyard to deal with my threats for good. He plays a Revelation for 7 and I pack it up. Game 3 I lay haymakers from start to finish. Farseek into Huntmaster into Slaughter Games on Revelation seeing Jace and Tamiyo. He Tamiyos down my Huntmaster and eats my Liliana. I slam down Thundermaw to eat Tamiyo and then Jace. He draws into Supreme Verdict but I still have Nighthawks a Keyrune and a Wolf Run. (13-2)
Round 16 – Time to check the breakers, I’m in 4th and 3%, a huge margin, clear of the next guy. All I need is a pairing that allows me to draw. Jon Stern(Hexproof Pants): He is 3% above me in 3rd. We ID and I pace for 45 minutes, knowing it will hold up but I need to hear it to believe it. I am announced in 6th in a clean cut. DING DING.
We all sit down and filled out some paperwork and profiles, film stuff for Walking the Planes, figure out who we are playing. It had been a slog through the format already. The worst was yet to come
Quarterfinals – Josh Utter-Leyton(Hexproof Pants): I was not super confident in this matchup. Yes he can succumb to a clunky manabase and not draw the right cards, but I was on the draw and a heavy dog in Game 1 to begin with. Game 1 my keep was Olivia, Nighthawk, Price, four lands with Wolf Run and perfect mana. It felt like a good keep, I was fairly certain that it couldn’t beat a Stalker or an Ethereal Armor on Geist but my deck wasn’t set up to do that anyways. He set up Armor, Curiosity, and Spectral Flight on a Geist and it was over soon after. Game 2 I mull, and mull, and mull again. My keep on four, was Forest, Woodland Cemetary, Nighthawk, and Farseek. I play Forest, he plays Pilgrim, I play Farseek for Blood Crypt, he plays Geist. I draw…A BONFIRE. He bricks a draw. I draw and slam Huntmaster. He finds a Stalker and suits it up. I try to race but a Silverblade Paladin seals my fate.
6th…An interesting feeling. Obviously happy to qualify. Obviously happy with the money. Obviously hungry for more. Obviously unhappy I couldn’t seal the deal. Still I felt…hollow…in a good way. My main focus the past few months is to just play as well as I can and not let emotions get in the way. I used to get nervous or fear the moment but now I just don’t feel things as quickly. Just focus and don’t get discouraged. The game is tough enough, why make it tougher on yourself? All you can do is play harder and prepare even more when you can. Results are to be cherished but never dwelt upon. The feeling of getting their though and the support of all my friends along the way, that’s special. That sixth place finish is all in part to this community I am a part of, TJ Collectibles being a huge part of that. That store was a second home growing up and this and all future success is for them as much as it is for me.
What better time to talk about what Gatecrash cards have been spoiled than a week and a half before the pre-release? So far the second set in the Return to Ravnica block is shaping up to be quite the set stuffed with great editions to Standard, EDH, and even Modern. Being a player who leans on red quite heavily, lets start talking about some cards I can’t wait to include in my seventy-five.
Let’s talk about Firefist Striker:
If there’s one thing I like when I play red, it’s getting my creatures through my opponents blockers, and this guy does exactly that. Its competition is Ash Zealot, Gore-House Chainwalker, and Lightning Mauler. While I’d take Ash Zealot over this any day, it’s something I’d want to try out over Chainwalker. Making a creature not be able to block might be worth the loss of power and toughness. Not to mention Firefist Striker can block in a pinch.
The next card I’m defiantly adding to my Standard and Modern deck is this upgraded Flames of the Blood Hand:
Okay, so, there’s this little green creature called Thragtusk, that can really ruin a Red Mage’s day. The two scoops of three-toughness creatures isn’t necessarily the issue. The problem is gaining back a fourth of their starting life. Five. Life. In most cases, that’s either two burn spells, or a burn spell and a creature getting in, or even losing a creature so you can activate Brimstone Volley’s Morbid ability. But Skullcrack… Skullcrack stops all those shenanigans. When your opponent plays Thragtusk and you play Skullcrack in response, Skullcrack might as well say “Deal 8 damage to target opponent who played Thragtusk this turn.” Or what about that Sphinx’s Revelation card? Sure, they draw a eight cards, but they didn’t gain eight life. And in Modern, this just replaced the much more expensive Flames of the Blood Hand. Yeah, Flames does four damage, but it costs a whole 1 more mana. That might not sound like a lot, but for a deck that doesn’t want to see turn five, three mana is a lot to sink into a spell, especially considering in Modern you have a plethora of spells that deal three damage at the third of the cost.
Speaking about Modern Burn decks, I want to diverge to a card that isn’t exclusively red, but when I look at it, red’s the only color I see:
I’ll be honest. The first time I read this cards first ability, I said to myself, “I don’t even care what the other abilities do.” I read the rest anyways, and they’re good, and this is easily the best of the Charm cycle from Gatecrash and possibly from the entire block itself. And in Modern, where you have access to Arid Mesa and Scalding Tarn to get to a Sacred Foundry, this is entirely splash-able in Modern Burn, making it the first outright ‘Deal four damage’ spell in the deck. With most decks also splashing black for Deathrite Shaman, AKA the best card in Magic right now, it’ll make Burn a force to be reckoned with and a deck everyone should watch out for.
Back to strictly red cards. Raging Goblin is a card I would run in Mono-Red Aggro right now, because sometimes getting in that point of damage can matter. How about a Raging Goblin that does… well… Anything other than attacking the turn you play him?
This is a pretty straightforward card. In my mind, this would have been so much better in the previous meta game, where you sighed every time your opponent played Timely Reinforcements. This card would have made those reinforcements quite untimely. That’s not to say tokens still don’t muck up a red players day. Lingering Souls is still a beating sometimes. Even those pesky beasts Thragtusk leaves behind get in the way. Not with this goblin out. Lets live in a little Magical Christmas Land for a second. You have a Pyreheart Wolf, Firefist Striker, and… Lets say a Rakdos Cackler that somehow made it to turn six. Your opponent has a Thragtusk, a Centaur Healer, and just played a Lingering Souls and flashed it back. Oh man, your opponent’s got quite the phalanx. This looks terrible. You untap your mountains, draw your card, then proceed to slam this thing down and attack with everything, making sure Thragtusk can’t block with Firefist Striker and that the tokens can’t block either because of Legion Loyalist. Sure, you only got in for six damage, but who knows? Maybe they were at six? Sure, Magical Christmas Land and that example only yields six damage, but a mage can dream. Oh, and did I mention it gives all of your creatures First Strike and Trample. I didn’t? Oh, it does that too. Best Raging Goblin ever. It’s going straight into my Wort, Boggart Auntie EDH deck.
Almost done, just two cards left, courtesy of the Gruul Clans. First comes Burning-Tree Emissary:
Thinking back to Urza’s block, free spells worked out pretty well, albeit broken. While those spells untapped lands, this card simply adds mana to your mana pool. In terms of Mono-Red Aggro, sure, you only get one red mana, but think of how many two mana spells you have that only needs red mana. If you play a Rakdos Cackler on turn one and unleash it, and then follow it up with this, using that mana to play a Lightning Mauler, giving the Emissary haste, then swinging into the red zone for six? On turn two? Amazing. Even if you don’t have a Mauler, you can still Searing Spear them. A card to consider for sure.
Last up, we have some competition for the four drops in Mono-Red. Check out Rubblebelt Raiders:
Okay, I know what you’re going to say. “Aaron, this is no Hellrider. Why would Mono-Red want this over Hellrider?” And to that I say, “You’re absolutely right.” Why would you play this over Hellrider? While this isn’t exactly Hellrider’s replacement, it’s at least another option for Mono-Red players. Since Hellrider’s price spiked a bit, I could see budget red players including this in their list. And for the sake of argument, lets say you have two Mono-Red players playing each other. One has Rubbleback Raiders, and one doesn’t. Once Rubbleback Raiders attacks and is allowed to gain counters, it’s already out of burn range, and already an unstoppable force against red decks. This card is defiantly more for the multicolor aggro decks, like Naya or perhaps a new Gruul Aggro deck. Who knows?
So those are the red cards that I can’t wait to play with once Gatcrash comes out. I hope I get some early during the pre-release. Speaking about that, TJ’s Collectibles is doing pre-registration for the Gatecrash pre-release. If you want to make sure you get to play with your favorite guild, make sure you sign up before they’re all gone!
As you may or may not know TJ’s is running a new Modern FNM, and it’s AWESOME! For those of you who are new to the modern format, it may be a bit intimidating. There are older cards, many different decks, and it’s a more competitive field than your average FNM. These aren’t downsides, they’re upsides! Learning about more cards, understanding more card interactions, and getting better are all great things for any player looking to become even slightly more competitive or just someone looking for something different. Getting a deck together may seem like a daunting task, but with such a large variety of decks, there is a deck for every budget and play style, so if you’d like to try something new with MTG, try modern.
Last week at TJ’s Modern FNM there were 13 players and 10 different archetypes! That’s a pretty impressive spread. Burn was the most popular archetype with 3 decks in the field, Jund had 2 players, 1 RWU Delver, 1 Splinter Twin, 1 U/B Mill, 1 4 Color Control, 1 4 Color Teachings, 1 U/W control, 1 4 Color Gifts, and finally 1 G/W Aggro. The top 4 was 2 burn decks, 4 Color Teachings, and G/W Aggro. This certainly makes Burn the deck to beat if you’re looking to do well on Friday night.
I played Jund and just missed top 4. My list was missing Kitchen Finks which were desperately needed, and next time I’m shuffling up Jund, I’ll have a full set with me. My list was a little odd, but plenty of fun. Here’s what I played:
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Deathrite Shaman
2 Thundermaw Hellkite
3 Dark Confidant
2 Lotus Cobra
2 Lingering Souls
3 Liliana of the Veil
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
3 Raging Ravine
3 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Twilight Mire
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Godless Shrine
2 Blood Crypt
1 Stomping Ground
2 Rakdos Charm
2 Rest for the Weary
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
1 Rule of Law
1 Slaughter Games
Jund is a pretty straight forward deck, play all the best cards in my colors, hit my land drops, 2 for 1 as many times as possible, and disrupt my opponents hand, all while playing cheap and powerful creatures like Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant. I decided to play the Thundermaw Hellkite version to just go over the top of the other creature decks in the field and put as much pressure as quick as possible against the combo decks. The best card in the deck (and in non-vintage magic possibly at the moment) is Deathrite Shaman. It does everything, it’s always good, kills your opponent, makes it harder for them to kill you, or lets you play all your spells a turn early. If you’re playing Jund without Deathrite Shaman, something’s wrong. There weren’t a bunch of combo decks or any decks trying to do anything too crazy and I don’t think that’ll be changing too quickly, so Jund would be a pretty good choice for the foreseeable future.
As for changes I would have played 2 Kitchen Finks in the Side Board over Rest in Peace and the second Stony Silence and 1 Kitchen Finks in the main over the 3rd Dark Confidant. Overall the deck was a lot of fun even though I ended up mulling myself to death against Burn and drew about 5 too many lands in both games 2 and 3 against Teachings. Overall I’d play Jund again, but I’m going to try and play a different deck for as many weeks in a row that I can, just to keep it interesting for everyone.
I’ll be running a breakdown of the Modern FNM each week for the blog trying to showcase a deck or two (either the one I play or just another deck in the event). Feel free to comment with questions, Deck Ideas, or suggestions! Like the article and share it with your friends, and hopefully I’ll see you Friday nights at 7!
Yesterday, popular culture news website ICv2.com had a rare chance to sit with with Wizards of the Coast Chief Executive Officer Greg Leeds for a wide-ranging interview. The article is broken up into two parts. Part one covers WotC’s strategy for retailers for both Magic and D&D. In part two, they discuss product ideas from fans, media development of WotC properties, plans for Dungeons & Dragons and board games, and the coolest up coming WotC products.
This is a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime interview that is not to be missed!
Related news: Wizards of the Coast announces, via ICV2.com, that Monte Cook, who was involved with Dungeons & Dragons during the games creation, is returning to work on D&D!
Hey Everyone! Chris Alexander here, General Manager of TJ Collectibles Online and the individual responsible for posts on this here awesome blog (as well as a lot of the TJ’s Facebook & Twitter posts, too).
I will be attending Gen Con Indy this week to participate in Magic U.S. Nationals, so updates will unfortunately be few-and-far-between. I’ll post if I can. One thing you can be assured of though, a tournament report and deck lists upon my return!!
Wish me luck everyone (I appreciate it). If you’re attending Gen Con, please make sure you say hello if you see me!