Thursday, August 28, 2014

What Could Have Been, vol 1: Worship

Hey folks.
This is the first in what I hope to be a recurring feature. I'm going to take an interesting card and re-purpose it into a setting different than its original one. The idea being that Magic's design and flavor allows for enough flexibility that there are cards that can easily be flavor-transplanted into a different setting.

My first subject; Worship.

Worship is a pretty distinctive card in effect and appearance. The possibility of being unkillable if you play your cards right (ha!) is a tempting one, and the viseage of the remarkable Planeswalker Serra has been present since the card's original printing in Urza's Saga. It's even seen some competitive play, having been a powerful build around effect in standard and extended and being the backbone of a fringe Modern deck.

In my mind, this card would have been a juicy reprint for Theros. It's an enchantment about the power of faith; that describes Theros to a T.

Let's imagine for a moment, what Worship would have looked like in Theros block. What would the art description have been like? Something like this I imagine.

Color: White

Location: A temple dedicated to Heliod, the Sun God of Theros

Action: Show the faithful gathered at the foot of a statue of Heliod. They are praying in reverence of him. The statue is glimmering and looks as though it could come to life at any moment.

Focus: The statue of the Sun God.

Mood: Powerful, impressive, imposing.

Are there any cards of old that weren't in Theros that you think should have been?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mayael's Army; Journey into Nyx

As done last time, I am reviewing a set that has been out for a while to examine how well its fatties compliment my commander of choice; the stunning and talented Mayael of the Anima.

She's so wonderful...


Gluttonous Cyclops + Swarmborn Giant

Meh. There are much more powerful six drops than Gluttonous Cyclops, and Swarmborn Giant's drawback seems way too steep in a multiplayer format.

Goldenhide Ox + Humbler of Mortals

I really like the effects these guys offer, but they both have a particular drawback in both needing a lot of enchantments to be more than one shot effects. There are certainly worse drawbacks to have as there are any number of really good enchantments that I'd happily play in a Mayael deck (Guild Feud, Mayael's Aria, Greater Good, Mirari's Wake, etc) and there's a lot of beefy enchantment creatures from throughout the Theros block that pull double duty of being enchantments for Constellation triggers AND beef for Mayael to hit.
So to play with either of these isn't particularly hard, but will require building with them in mind, which as I have mentioned with other subthemes in other articles, is entirely possible. Also, if we look at Humbler of Mortals in a deck built to take advantage of it, it allows for a redundancy of "your dudes have trample" effects that are attached to creatures alongside of things like Nylea, Roughshod Mentor and Mosstodon; and in a singleton format, redundancy is king.

Quarry Colossus + Spawn of Thraxes

Like the above, these are really interesting creatures that need to be built around to take advantage of them. Unlike the above, I'm not sure it's worth it. In a three color deck, the ability for either of the these creatures to have their effects scale very highly, even in longer games in this format, aren't great. And to build a three-color deck to take the most out of these effects, you're going to have to downplay the other land types, and therefor your ability to reliably use three colors worth of effects. These creatures just aren't good enough to make the cut in a three-color deck.

Cyclops of Eternal Fury

Now this one I'm not quite sure about. Everything having haste is amazing, even more so when it's also a creature so it be a threat and utility. But then you see it has three toughness. Three toughness in the format of mega fatties bigger than all creation. I'd really say that running this guy is a meta call. I'd rather not be playing this if the threat of it dying in combat is such that you always have it on defense, but your meta might be different than mine. The power is there, especially because your creatures are so much cooler than most anyone else's, but it's not for everyone.

Hydra Broodmaster

Golly. This thing is hecka scary. I love going tall, but when Mayael is able to go wide as well, that's a rare treat. The amount of board presence this creature can make by itself, especially in a dedicated ramp deck (disclaimer: You should absolutely be running Boundless Realms in any green deck) is absurd. Very interesting card with very scary potential. And there's a sweet promo version you can get, so you should totally be aware of this.

Bearer of Heavens

Hnnnnn.... I really want to live the dream with this guy, but I'm not sure Mayael is the way to do it. At least not my Mayael. The best way to make this asymetrical is with Avacyn, but with her this guy is so much harder to kill. But then by having Avacyn out, you need some way of sacrificing this because it will never die from a board wipe or combat. But then you're building in all of these effects to take advantage of a combo.
By all means, combos are ubiquitous in EDH, and green has lots of creature tutoring to make the pieces easier to find, but it's not my particular playstyle. If you are interested however, I might want to invest in a few creatures that can survive the heavens falling in case your combo falls apart mid-sequence. Things like Phytotitan, Vorapede, Twilight Shepherd, Mossbridge Troll, or hiding your things under your own Angel of Serenity. And there are useful spells that can break the symmetry like Boros Charm and Wrap in Vigor that you might like to be aware of.
Happy board wiping!


Praise be the Gods! I feel like this is fulfilling a similar role as Nylea in being a sometimes creature that makes blocking a pain in the butt. But where trample is better against lots of little blockers, Iroas is better against fewer big blockers. Being indestructible and also a 7 power creature at 4 mana is also insane, so i could easily see Iroas slotting up into most any Mayael build.

What has Journey into Nyx done for your Mayael deck?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fate versus Fury; a duel deck review

I don't know if you know this, but I love the duel decks. Love them like crazy. I have every single one to date, sleeved up for playing against each other. When Wizards announced clash packs, a fusion of duel deck and event deck, I was elated. Four duel decks a year? Hot dog!

The first one, Fate versus Fury, has come out, and I've sleeved them up and given them some play throughs, and I'd thought I'd share the experience with you. The decks are two standard legal (as of this writing) decks containing cards from Theros block and the M15 core set. The idea is that you can keep them separate to play as duel decks, or combine them for the power level roughly equivalent to that of a typical event deck.

Fate is a blue-green is a sort of tempo-ey deck that uses lots of hard to block creatures and carefully aimed removal and tricks to nickel and dime the opponent to death. Fury is a red-green ramp deck that uses lots of mana acceleration to power out enormous monsters far too big for your opponent to deal with, and when it runs out of gass, it uses the monstrous ability to put the nail in the coffin.

GAME 1 (playing as Fate)

I win the flip and mulligan away a hand full of blue spells and islands and keep two islands a Vaporkin, a frost lynx, a Horizon Chimera and Aetherspouts. Fury starts with a turn one Elvish Mystic. A turn one dork can lead to some gross plays, I'm a little worried, but it leads to nothing as it passes on turn two with no play.

The next few turns pass fairly uneventfully with each side committing creatures but no trades. I use a pair of Frost Lynxes to get in a few hits which are made back by a Nylea's Disciple, before eventually landing a Horizon Chimera which is immediately killed by a Plummet. A shame. The life gained by the chimera is really useful for forcing the Fury deck to make awkward plays.

I'm able to use scry triggers and Jace's Ingenuities to draw into more fliers and Fury is unable to find something bigger to fight back with and loses because it just can't block a few measly 2-powered fliers.

For GAME 2 we switch decks.

Once again I win the play, and keep a somewhat ballsy hand. Forest, Elvish Mystic, Font of Fertility, Lightning Strike, Reclamation Sage, Karametra's Acolyte and Nessian Game Warden. I figure that as long as I draw into a land in the next two turns, I'm guaranteed a good flow. I stick the forest an mystic and pass. I don't draw a land next turn, so I play the Font and attack with my elf.

I draw a mountain on turn 3 and pop the Font. The next two turns are dedicated to acolytes. My opponent hasn't stuck anything particularly nasty, and the ramping AND big defense are practical. Then my opponent drops a Prophet of Kruphix. Gross. One of the best creatures in the deck. I try to Lightning Strike it next turn, but Fate Negated it.

I draw a Boulderfall, but without a second red source it's worthless. I play a Game Warden instead digging 4 deep for a Nemesis of Mortals. Which my opponent Pins. I take this as a good sign that they're wasting removal knowing I have a bigger threat in my hand. I suspect they're not drawing any  gas.

A timely mountain the next turn gives me enough mana to Boulderfall, which I use to take out the Prophet a Follower and do one to Fury's face for good measure. My Warden from last turn also gives me enough devotion to drop a Nemesis off my Acolyte mana. Which is immediately bounced.

An Emissary stands between me and victory and I manage to play and monstrous a Nemesis and a Cyclops over the next two turns before attacking.


There's a sort of push and pull between the two decks. Fate has enough filtering and draw that it's fairly easy to commit a lot of evasive dorks, or keep the Fury deck off balance by constantly bouncing or pinning or pigging (that's a verb now) its creatures which is all that more painful if they've spent a lot of mana to monstrous them. Unfortunately, there's only so many answers in the Fate deck, and Fury's creatures are ultimately bigger and scarier, so there's a tension to when and what they should use these answers.
"Do I bounce this blocker now to get in a few more points of damage, or do I save it for something that's more likely to kill me."

The Fury deck has similar tensions. "Do I spend all this much mana playing an Acolyte on the hope of bigger dividends later, or do I play a threat now?" "Do I risk my opponent bouncing my fatty by monstrousing it, or do I play a second creature?" The only answer that Fate has that's anything close to permanent is Curse of the Swine, and even that gives you something. Sometimes setting you back a turn by bouncing a threat is stalling for time, and sometimes it's the difference between your last few life points.

I've really liked the play decisions in these decks and the really cool promos that came with it. The utterly bizarre choice of Font of Fertility. The stunning Prophet of Kruphix. The Progenitor Sphinx that totally looks like Eric Idle. There's some real value in this product, and I would definitely give it a shot!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mayael's Army; Born of the Gods edition

Another set, more fatties to review.

Here's a bunch of Born of the Gods fatties and how they fare in Mayael the Anima commander decks.

Forgestoker Dragon

A fine creature, but not for everyone. This best comes into play if your deck doesn't have a lot of built in evasion (flyers, tramples, things that grant either), or if your opponents are playing against a lot of low toughness creatures and this guy becomes a differently-abled Shivan Hellkite. I think the flexibility makes it better off because one of the two options will almost always be viable. The biggest hit against this guy is that there are so VERY many good six drops for Mayael that there's probably something more proactive you could be running instead.

Archetype of Endurance

"Your win conditions have hexproof." Yes. Please. I love this guy, especially because Mayael decks will inevitably have so many ways of doing it at instant speed (Mayael herself, Elvish Piper, Quicksilver Amulet, etc). 8 mana is really expensive for a guy that's not caving skulls in or removal on a stick, but the effect is so powerful, I'd recommend trying it.

Nessian Wilds Ravager

There's one thing in particular I like to keep in mind when I'm putting cards in my EDH decks. One, how practical is this card. Especially in my Mayael deck, which demands a certain amount of slots in the deck to make Mayael a reliable asset, every fatty needs to be earning its space. To that end, I try to make sure that most of my fatties can either win the game on their own, or are an answer to an opponents plans. This guy, when considering it as a removal spell attached to a body, is a mostly worse Gruul Ragebeast. And you know what, that's fine.
Because of the singleton nature of the format, having built in redundancies in any deck is key in this format. And by playing this along Ragebeast gives you a minimum of two chances to draw into "kill your dude, I get a 6/6". Yes, I meant what I said. Carefully read Tribute's rules text. "As this creature enters the battlefield, an opponent of your choice may place six +1/+1 counters on it."  That means the player paying tribute doesn't have to be the same one you're going to fight creatures with. This makes for a wonderful bit of politics. You can choose a player whose disadvantaged at the moment, or has a grudge against the player you want to spite, and if they're feeling appropriately generous, they'll let you get your fight on. Your level of charisma may vary, results not a guarantee.


A fine fatty, but perhaps not ideal for this deck. The thing is Mayael has a lot of ways of putting fatties int play that aren't casting them, and because of that we're getting less triggers than a deck built around Karametra's abilities (such as an EDH deck with her at the helm) would. Being big and hard to kill isn't enough in my eyes.

Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass

Limited chaffe. Use at your own risk.

Pheres-Band Raiders

Making dudes is sweet, but we have more efficient ways of doing so.

Thunder Brute

I really like haste, and I REALLY like the art, but I really don't think being big is enough in EDH (unless you're really big). Plus, Bull Cerodon does this and has the decency to block afterwards.


I freaking love this guy. Giving haste is a big deal. Making things enormous is a big deal. Both of these things tied onto body that is really hard to get rid of is a big deal. One of my favorite inclusions in this deck in recent years, and my commandering is all that much more better off because of it.

Those are my thoughts and feelings regarding the fatties of Born of the Gods. I'd love to know what you think! Happy commandering!