Rotation 2016

Hey everybody!
Time for another game day at spalanz.com, and today I wanted to take some time to mourn two of my favourite Standard decks from this past season. Rotation doesn’t actually happen until Friday of course, when Kaladesh hits for real, but I’ve spent the last couple of days going through my current stable of decks to weed out those with cards from both Dragons of Tarkir and Origins. One deck emerged unscathed, my W/B vampires deck, and another retained the majority of its cards, mono-black vampires. While a couple had never really gotten off the ground anyway, I’ve nevertheless had two that will suffer significantly for the loss of Magic: Origins from Standard. Let’s take a look!

Magic the Gathering Rotation

So first of all, I’m sure plenty of seasoned veterans of the game will be thinking, why would my decks suffer from the loss of Origins? A lot of folks have a bit of a snobby reaction to the core sets, and almost rejoiced when they were cancelled, but I really like both the variety of cards you get in them, and also don’t build decks with which to destroy people. I like a variety in a lot of what I do, and this is certainly clear in the decks that I’m gonna be talking about today!

Magic the Gathering Rotation

First up, it’s my treasured blue/red land prowess thing. I’m not great at coming up with names for my decks, in case it wasn’t abundantly clear already. This deck was a departure for me, because I built it when I made the decision I wanted to see what blue could do. My favourite colour-pair is black/red, and I knew I didn’t want to go down the avenue of blue/black, so veered instead into the toolbox that is Izzet. And as it turned out, I had a lot of fun with this!

The deck involves prowess, obviously, but is still quite creature-heavy, because that’s where I’m most comfortable (though not as bad as my attempt at building a Jeskai deck!) There is also a lot of Awaken shenanigans with the lands, including two copies of Wandering Fumarole, a card that I really enjoy having out on the table more to mess with my opponent than anything else.

The main goal is to use the counter-magic and buff the smaller dudes until I can get the big Djinn characters out; they’re both Flying for the evasion, so they should act as finishers. It has performed really well, but now that rotation will kick a lot of the useful cards out of here, it’s almost a case of back to the drawing board. I don’t want to merely draft more cards into the deck, as it might end up a bit too much of a monster, but I have previously earmarked one or two from Eldritch Moon that could be useful. While there seems to be more of an emphasis on artifacts for blue/red in the set, I suppose we’ll see what Kaladesh can do for me…

Creatures:
Mahamoti Djinn
Soulblade Djinn
Stormchaser Mage (2)
Jhessian Thief (2)
Mizzium Meddler (2)
Acolyte of the Inferno (2)
Umara Entangler (2)
Halimar Tidecaller
Mercurial Geists
Harbinger of the Tides

Instants:
Negate (2)
Dispel (2)
Scatter to the Winds (2)
Titan’s Strength (2)
Brute Strength (2)
Sure Strike (2)

Sorcery:
Rush of Ice (2)
Clutch of Currents (2)

Artifacts:
Prism Ring (2)
Orbs of Warding

Land:
Highland Lake (4)
Looming Spires (3)
Skyline Cascade (4)
Wandering Fumarole (2)
Mountain (6)
Island (7)

My second Standard deck that I’m going to miss is something else that is pretty much outside of my comfort zone when it comes to playing the game: red/green landfall elementals!

Magic the Gathering Rotation

This deck was a bit of an experimentation as well, as I very rarely play green (I think I play blue more, in fact!) I was enamoured of the landfall mechanic when Battle for Zendikar arrived, however, so had wanted to do something with that. I like the idea of lands coming into play – which should happen a lot, you know? – actually doing more than just providing mana. So with that, I set about building up this thing:

Creatures:
Omnath, Locus of Rage (2)
Grove Rumbler (2)
Fierfiend Elemental
Zendikar Incarnate (2)
Cobblebrute
Valakut Predator (3)
Cinder Hellion
Embermaw Hellion
Oran-Rief Hydra (2)
Akoum Stonewaker (2)
Jaddi Offshoot (2)

Instants:
Titanic Growth (4)
Swell of Growth (4)
Titan’s Strength (2)

Enchantments:
Retreat to Kazandu (2)
Zendikar’s Roil (4)
Flameshadow Conjuring
Zendikar Resurgent (2)

Artifact:
Sword of the Animist

Land:
Cinder Glade
Timber Gorge
Looming Spires (2)
Forest (8)
Mountain (9)

It’s basically a deck that makes huge dudes bigger, and bash everyone in the face. I suppose it’s kind of an aggro deck insofar as it doesn’t really care about defense, but more about presenting a lot of threats from the off, and isn’t very subtle all told. There are a few bits in there about making tokens and stuff, though that’s not super overpowering. Hopefully things like Akoum Stonewalker will draw enough attention that the big Hellions and other Elementals will go unmolested! But not very sneaky at all – the one concession to anything other than face-punching is the Jaddi Offshoot, which is a good chump-blocker that can help gain a bit of life if I’m struggling from not putting up any kind of defense.

I’m not a big fan of green at all, but I did enjoy playing this one, as it failed very rarely. Sometimes it could be overpowering with the right draws, which made some matches too one-sided for me, but a decent deck that will be sorely missed. There may well be some cards in BFZ block that I’ve missed, which could plug some holes once Origins goes for good, but I’m thinking that this deck might actually be retired for the time being.

Of course, rotation isn’t only a time to be sad, as it does also mean that a whole raft of new cards are incoming, which forces a re-evaluation of the previous two sets that will hopefully allow for more cool decks to emerge. I sadly didn’t make it to the prerelease at the weekend, and haven’t spent a tremendous amount of time studying the cards from the new set yet, so I’m kinda excited to see what’s going to be new when I get my hands on those new packs for the first time!

To Kaladesh – and beyond!

Hey everybody!
For today’s game day blog, I thought I’d do another of these over-excited looking-to-the-future type of things, especially in light of all the Magic news that we have going on right now! I seem to have calmed down a little since my massive Magic kick over most of the summer, and have returned to Warhammer and the masses of projects I have going on there, but the recent news has once more gotten me excited for cards over plastic… well, maybe a little…

kaladesh

First of all, the Kaladesh stuff coming out of PAX is just awesome! The set releases on 30 September, meaning that pre-release is just three weeks away, and we’re now getting spoilers like it’s crazy! The website has a really cool interactive area for Kaladesh, including the Inventors Fair, which showcases a load of new cards, many with the new mechanics!

First of all, let’s talk about vehicles. Vehicles are artifact cards with a power/toughness rating, and the keyword Crew X, where you can tap creatures with power up to X, which turns the vehicle into a creature. The Crew value always seems to be less than the vehicle’s power, so it’s a pretty great trade-off!

Fabricate X is one of the more generic mechanics, where you get to put X +1/+1 counters onto a creature, or else create a 1/1 token card. It’s nice more for the flavour than the actual mechanic, I think…

Energy counters now have their own icon, by the way, and we’re getting a cycle of enemy dual lands that enter tapped unless you control two or fewer lands – the enemy version of the Scars of Mirrodin cycle. Finally, among all the other stuff we’ve seen, we finally get the Planeswalker Saheeli Rai spoiled, after a lot of speculation about her since the initial announcement!

I really like that she’s Izzet, and while at first I was a bit underwhelmed by her, I think that was more a reaction to the fact she won’t fit into my current blue/red deck. But that deck has until the spring rotation before it’s no longer Standard, so it’s probably time to try making a blue/red artifacts deck for her!

Saheeli isn’t the only Planeswalker we’re getting though, as MTG’s Twitter shows us a second, Vedalken walker!

Overall, I think Kaladesh is a really exciting set, and I’m looking forward to the prerelease!!

But now – it’s on to the future!

Amonkhet

Amonkhet is the next block after Kaladesh, and looks amazing!

The desert oasis of Amonkhet forges warriors. You have trained your entire life for a chance to face the Trials of the Five Gods and join the elite ranks of the Worthy. Using your strength, speed, and cunning, overcome deadly challenges and rise above the competition to claim an honored place in the Afterlife!

I may sound like a gibbering fanboy with a lot of this, but it feels like Magic is really getting interesting now they’re doing this two-set thing, with a lot more exploration of the multiverse and seeing wildly different planes. An Ancient Egypt plane might not have been something I’ve been craving, but now that I know about it, I’m wildly excited! It’s also the plane ruled over by Nicol Bolas, the evil dragon planeswalker! Sounds also like it might be a bit like Theros but in the desert, you know?

So that’s coming 28 April 2017, followed in July by Hour of Devastation, the second set. “Unleash your Endgame” sounds pretty, well, devastating…

That set is preceded by an Archenemy release that I doubt anybody was expecting! Archenemy: Nicol Bolas involves three against one, the one being the dragon planeswalker, and while the release info says no new card content is coming, I’m hoping we’ll see plenty of thematic reprints that will still make this interesting to pick up!

We’re also getting another Modern Masters next year, a Commander Anthology, and the next duel deck is called Mind vs Might (so, looks like Jace is coming? Meh.) All in all, it’s going to be a fairly interesting next few months!!

New Magic Stuff!

It’s a game day extra!

Seems like a very exciting time to be alive right now for us card game players! Yesterday was “announcement day” over on Wizards of the Coast’s website, where they published an article featuring a whole host of announcements about the future of the game, which sound really cool!

kaladesh

First off: we’re going to Kaladesh next block, the home plane of Chandra. This should be really interesting, lots of artifacts no doubt… But yeah, the artwork, I’m guessing for the new planeswalker Saheeli Rai (above) looks stunning as usual, at any rate!

Nissa vs Ob Nixilis

The next duel deck also looks like a lot of fun – Nissa vs Ob Nixilis! Ob Nixilis is a favourite of mine, as I do love a molten fire demon, so that’ll hopefully be a lot of fun to get hold of.

However, the reason I wanted to write a blog today about all this is due to the blog from the head designer Mark Rosewater, which details the replacement for core sets that we’ll be seeing this summer. At least, that’s how it starts, but the product he goes on to discuss is described as a replacement for Intro Packs. Well, anyway.

Planeswalker Decks sound cool, a dual-colour, Standard-legal deck built around one copy of a mythic rare planeswalker from the current block. At first, I thought this will potentially ruin the economy of the mythic rare, or else see these packs never in stock anywhere because the new Liliana card is so powerful or whatever. However, it seems that these planeswalkers are going to be a little different to the standard type – in fact, it seems these are going to be completely separate from the block the deck is attached to. So we won’t be seeing these walkers in boosters. In addition, the decks will have specific cards that interact with these intro-walkers that aren’t in the block but will be Standard legal while the block is in Standard. Seems reasonable, anyway!

I’m not a huge fan of planeswalkers – I prefer to build my decks around Legendary Creatures, if I’m building a character deck at all, so I don’t see a big draw from that side of things. Part of the reason for my dislike of planeswalkers is that I find them so confusing in-game. It seems like these new decks might actually be the product I need, then, to get me playing this type of card, as they’re going to be marketed with beginners in mind.

It certainly seems exciting, so I’m looking forward to seeing the lay of the land when these things hit in September!