Morgan’s alive! I know this is supposed to be ZombieKotW, but Morgan’s alive!! And absolutely bananas. It seems pretty convenient too that Rick happens to find Morgan and all of his guns, that Rick just so happens to need, just as he returns to his old neighborhood. But either way, I’m happy, and I hope Team Prison just gained a new future fighter. For those of you who read the comics, I’ll just say I hope we stay true to Morgan’s role! And now, on to Kill of the Week! Once again, there weren’t many zombie deaths this week, three or four from what I can remember. The most memorable would have to be Michonne’s quick, ninja-like death of the walker Carl distracted her with. Looks like this babysitter will be a little harder to ditch. I enjoyed seeing Michonne in such a powerful role this episode, between killing the zombies and being brave enough to volunteer to climb up to where Morgan had been shooting from. Michonne also developed quite a bit in this episode. She opened up to Rick and told him it was okay that he saw things, and that she used to talk to her dead boyfriend. I hope that with Rick and Carl seeing a softer, vocal side of Michonne will steady her role in the group.
Well done, Michonne! Once again, Kill of the Week! And the mat DID say Welcome.
Once again ladies and gentlemen, it’s the special time for this week’s The Walking Dead Zombie Kill of the Week. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed this week, with all deaths in general. Where are my zombie entrails, hanging body parts, the punctured organs? There were a total of three filmed deaths this week, one going to Tyreese, and the other two were hammers to the face from our little sharp shooter, Andrea. I would have to say the Kill of the Week was Andrea’s prison yard zombie, not much to see there, unless you can catch the slow-mo. However, I would like to talk about what Andrea did to her own pet walker. All I’ve heard in the past two days was that her de-jawing of her pet zombie was the most brutal thing seen yet on the show, and although I disagree, it was a pretty awesome scene to watch. How do you think Andrea has become desensitized to walkers since season one? I think she has made a huge change, becoming at her core a survivor. Andrea ripping the arms off of that walker reminded me of Glen’s muscle man moment when he ripped his own walker’s arm out, but that was after it was dead. And dead again. Well done Andrea!
But did anyone else have a problem with just how easy it was for Andrea to make it through the woods alone with her little puppy- guard? I feel like it should have been a much more dangerous, eventful road. Until next week!
It’s the morning after, on a quiet TJ’s morning, and all I can still think about was last night’s The Walking Dead. The gruesome AMC series has become a Sunday favorite in my house. Throughout the night, I’ll peg my few for Zombie Kill of the Week. This week? There were many zombie deaths, that’s for sure, but certainly the most climactic would be the return of Darryl to the group. The entire time Rick was being attacked I expected Glen to rush in and cut up some zombies. But, immediately, when we all saw the arrow tip precisely stop inches from Rick’s face, I actually screamed in happiness. Now, with Darryl and Merle back at the prison I’m super curious to see how all of the men interact, especially since there aren’t any comic book spoilers for our Dixon brothers.
But, hands down, my pick for Zombie Kill of the Week was the back seat creeper who got a trunk door to the face, courtesy of Darryl. As if it could have been any other!
Hey there TJ’s bloggers! I’m Meg, the tiny little red head that works for the retail store upstairs and in the events division for Pokemon and Magic! Sadly I did not get to attend a regionals tournament this Winter, but the New England Regional Championship will be held April 13 & 14 and I’ll be sure to be there! On January 18 I wished all of my New England players good luck, as they made their way down to Virginia. My pick for number one, Raymond Cipoletti did not disappoint and brought home a trophy and won himself a paid trip to Pokemon US National Championships this summer! Didn’t make the event? Here’s Raymond’s thoughts on the weekend and Pokemon moving forward.
Q First off, congratulations on your Regional Championship win, how does it feel?
A Thank you, it feels good! I also have my worlds invite now. I can kinda relax more at tournaments from now on.
Q How have you done in previous events?
A My biggest accomplishments prior are probably all from last year. I was able to win three cities, top 8 at Connecticut States, top 4 at New Hampshire States, and won Massachusetts states. Over the summer I was able to travel to the World Championships in Hawaii where I made top 32.
Q What deck did you play at Virginia Regionals? Going into the tournament were you confident with your deck?
A I played Darkrai, Mewtwo, Bouffalant. I created the deck mostly on my own but had some help from my friend Azul. Azul and I both played the exact same 60, with Azul’s only losses being myself mainly. I defeated him in top 4. We were very confident in the deck. I always go into a tournament hoping to do well and set my goals high. (Below is a photo of Azul and Ray in top 4).
Q You won the Virginia Regionals Masters Division, how was the competition different than New England?
A There were over 250 players and due to the location many more world class players were able to travel there. The competition was much greater than here in New England. Even two time world champion Jason Jason Klaczynski was there. Also the sheer number of people caused the bump up to 9 rounds which made top 32 harder than any New England event I’ve been to.
Q What was your toughest match?
A My hardest match was the one I played against Azul in top 4. We were filmed by The Top Cut so hopefully we can watch it soon.
Q What is your opinion on the current format, with the release of Plasma Storm and what you think states and regionals might be like?
A It is very interesting for sure. I’m not sure what the metagame will turn out to be like. I expect a lot of either Landorus EX/ Tornadus EX/ hypnotoxic beam and Darkrai EX/ hypnotoxic beam decks. Blastoise/ Keldeo also just got better with the new Black Kyurem EX but I’m not sure how big that will be here in New England solely because a lot o people in this area don’t have access to Tropical Beach.
Here’s Raymond with his first place trophy for the TCG, and Dylan Bryan, the other TCG finalist!
For those of you who want to play like a champ, here’s Raymond’s list, dubbed Darkray Boufaletti!
2 Sableye (DE 62)
3 Darkrai EX (BWP 46)
3 Mewtwo EX (BWP 45)
1 Bouffalant (DR 110)
3 Skyla (BC 134)
4 N (NV 101)
4 Professor Juniper (DE 98)
3 Bianca (EP 90)
4 Energy Switch (BW 94)
3 Ultra Ball (DE 102)
1 Energy Search (BW 93)
1 Tool Scrapper (DR 116)
1 Computer Search (BC 137)
3 Eviolite (NV 91)
4 Pokemon Catcher (EP 95)
4 Dark Patch (DE 93)
2 PlusPower (BW 96)
2 Max Potion (EP 94)
8 Darkness Energy
4 Double Colorless Energy (ND 92)
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.
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!
TJ Collectibles is looking to create a new playmat and we’re looking for some ideas! If you’d like to submit Your playmat design it will be reviewed by Tom and the rest of the TJ’s staff and the winner will be turned into the new TJ’s playmat! Submissions must be entered by February 1st, the TJ’s logo should be the focus of the playmat, make reference to the year TJ’s began (1992), and keep it family friendly! All submissions must be sent to email@example.com with “Playmat Submission” in the subject text box, the image file is 25 1/2 x 14 1/2″ or 3675 x 2175 pixels. Any other questions can be answered by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will receive a free copy of the new playmat and a TJ’s T-shirt, plus credits on the playmat itself! Best of luck to everyone who submits!
It’s getting close to the M 13 Prerelease weekend, and we’ve got a whole schedule of M 13 fun lined up here at TJ’s. Check it out!
M13 Prerelease Schedule
July 7, 2012 – MIDNIGHT Madness – 12:00 am Saturday – Sealed Deck
July 7, 2012 – 11:00 am Saturday – Sealed Deck
July 7, 2012 – 4:00 pm Saturday – Sealed Deck
July 7, 2012 – 9:00 pm Saturday – Sealed Deck
July 8, 2012 – Retail Store opens at 10:00 am
July 8, 2012 – 11:00 am Sunday – Sealed Deck
July 8, 2012 – 4:00 pm Sunday – Sealed Deck
Join us for the exciting release of Magic’s new Core Set! We’ll kick off the Magic 2013 Prerelease Weekend with our ever-popular Midnight Madness event and keep it going all weekend long! We’ve got lots of Magic fun, so bring your friends and come on down.
Entry fee is $25.00 per player.
Our fully stocked retail store will be open for all your gaming needs!
Wait- There’s MORE! We can’t stop there!
We’re having a Launch party for M13! For each Prerelease that you play in here at TJ’s, you’ll get one draft entry FREE on Launch Day (July 14 only). Play in all 6 of TJ’s prereleases, and earn 6 FREE booster drafts! Come and join us!
Yes, we’ll be having a Draft Day/Launch Patrty too! Come and join in the fun when the new set goes on sale! We’ll be having 8-player, single elimination drafts all day, so bring your friends and join us!
We’ll see you there!
Looks like it’s going to be one to watch!
Originally posted on The Bitterblossom:
Congratulations to Jyun’ichi Miyajima – Grand Prix Yokohama 2012 Champion!
Piloting the only White/Black Tokens deck, he bested a sea of various Birthing Pod decks, including some ingenious one’s that utilize both Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Restorartion Angel to create infinite Restoration Angels and attack.
A very interesting snapshot of the Modern format. Certainly, Restoration Angel made it’s debut. Furthermore, very few of the archetypes one see’s on Magic Online were present in the Top 8: RUG Delver, WUR Delver, Tron, etc. Should make for very interesting Modern tournaments in the coming months and influence Grand Prix Columbus in July.