Thursday, April 28, 2016

So close, yet so far - 15 Neglected Rares of Standard

Rares still too expensive for you? I understand, and I still respect you even though I shouldn't. Check out our list for Abandoned Uncommons for some ultra budget cards.

Hello, friends and family. Actually, hopefully not family, because I'm probably going to be dropping a bunch of fuck-bombs, and they die a little inside whenever I swear. Anyways, hello friends, this is Dan, and I'm here to present you a follow-up to our Forgotten Mythics of Standard Junior Varisty post from the other day. If you haven't read that one, check it out before/after this one. Order doesn't really matter - you do you. These posts take a look at a bunch of wicked cool cards that never got to see Pro Tour play, yet still have a lot of potential as long as they're in standard. And let me tell you, there's some baller cards hiding out there.

We're moving down the rarity scale, and ideally down the price scale, to check out the bomb-diggity rares that people thought would be so kickass, but somehow ended up being thrown into their bulk bin to hang out with all the hopelessly optimistic draft chaff.

"Boy, he sure was excited to open me in that draft! I can't wait to go into a real deck afterwards!"
So, as those of you who have been playing Magic for a bit may have realized, there are a lot of cards. There are at least 8 rares in this set (rough estimate), and a lot of them are exceptional cards. Strangely enough, though, not every one of them won the Pro Tour. There sure are a lot of them that we thought would have been wicked sweet when they were spoiled, but they ended up in this jank category, and here we are three weeks into standard still trying to figure out if Asylum Visitor is trash or not. (Hint: Yes.)

Since there are so many rares, we're switching up the format a bit from the previous article. Rather than just the top five rares that aren't seeing play this standard, I wanna get some diversity in this bitch, so we're doing the top three rares from each set in standard. For those of you who weren't math majors like I, that's almost three times as many as last time. Also, this article got a little long. I was writing as I drank beers on my porch, and only managed to stop once someone stole my spot and made me walk him.

"Dan, we're gonna have to have a talk about your shitty blog" - Admiral Samwise.
We're going to look at the most powerful spells to sling from DTK, ORI, BFZ, OGW, and SoI (I put the 'O' in lowercase because someone asked me to stop doing that and it tickles me), and talk a lil' bit about why they aren't in every deck right now. Ideally one of you will see one of these cards, recognize the raw power locked inside, and build a masterpiece to pilot yourself to many victories. Realistically, you'll probably be like "Yeah, that card certainly does suck" and leave it in a pile of junk rares. Ah, well, we can dream. So let's kick this list off!

Let there be Dargons

Dargons of Tarkir had some dope rares, no one can deny that. Ojutai's Command, Dromoka's Command, Den Protector, and Collected Company are all huge roleplayers in standard right now, and the role they're playing is "Winning at everything." There are a few cards in DTK though that did not quite hit the spotlight. Or didn't quite get hit by the spotlight? I dunno, I'm not famous, I don't understand these phrases. But the point is, no one showed them any love. Three in particular have a huge power level, had seen some play before, but are noticeably absent now.

Placing third, my naga:

Looks like in this timeline, Jeering Instigator managed to steal her sweet hat for real.
Back in an alternate timeline where she was three colors, the former Khan of the Sultai saw some play in decks utilizing Whip of Erebos to do some truly stupid shit. During spoiler season, most people agreed that her new version was very strong, possibly better than the previous. I mean, a fat-butt deathtouch with a tutor attached to it seems si-decent to me. So why no useful bby?

In her defense, people did try to run her for a bit. She put in some work in control lists, but she was outshined by a certain combo with Season's Past and Dark Petition this time around. Dark Petition doesn't give you that fat-butt deathtouch, but it also doesn't require a creature to exploit, and can give you bonus mana with Spell Mastery, which isn't so tough to turn on in a control deck. The bonus mana is big for being able to cast whatever you dig up, so I believe that will be the tutor of choice going forward. Sorry queen snakewizard.

Despite the lack of play, Sidisi is keeping a strong $5 price tag. Plenty of non-tier decks could use a tutor that can pop a Hangarback Walker and search up a card, and being legendary, there's always that delicious EDH value. I wouldn't expect her to drop until rotation, so if you want to give her a shot in standard, $5 is probably the best you can do, and you should grab a playset of 'em now, and you'll still get six months to mess around with her.

In second, everyone's favorite Bear/Dragon puncher:

Really hates animals. He's a reverse-furry.
Surrak is big. A 5/4 for four mana isn't half bad, and assuming you've played one or two dudes before him, he's a hasty 5/4. That's a bunch of sudden damage, and then he lets you make other threats hasty as long as you can keep power on board. So why didn't he hastily beat the crap out of people this time around?

He was a 2-of in a top 8 sideboard, so that's something, at least! Surrak may be quite the bear-puncher, but he's not much of a Reflector Mage puncher. He's a victim of the current meta - value creatures like Reflector bounce him easily, Avacyn kills him with surprise blocks, Lightning Axe has no problem melting him, and most importantly, he gets chumped easily by tokens. He just doesn't do enough, despite being a swole dude. Even in a R/G beatdown deck that would want him, his spot is clogged up with stronger threats like Thunderbreak Regent, Arlinn Kord, and Mina and Denn.

Thankfully, Surrak is sitting at a paltry 50 cents right now. If you're looking to make a cheap go-fast beatdown deck, picking up a playset of him is no issue. Run some cheapos like 4x Zurgo Bellsmacker, 4x Abbot of Keral Keep, 4x Sin Prodder, 4x Surrak, and some pump spells/kill spells like Rush of Adrenaline and Rabid Bite, and you have a rogue brew that could steal some games from unsuspecting kiddos.

Stealing first, it's a... modern staple?

If only one of the modes was "Make day 2 at the Pro Tour."
This is a weird one to see here. Atarka's Command was everywhere in the past couple of standards. It was top 8'ing the Pro Tour, it was a staple in the Atarka Agro deck, and all around a good burn/pump spell. Shoot, it's a staple in modern burn, surely it's good enough for standard, right?

RIP in peace Become Immense. Last standard the agro flavor of the week was R/G, thanks to the insane damage you could do with Become Immense. You'd fetch to fill up the yard, make your dude immense for G, Atarka's to pump all your guys and hit em for three, and finish the game super early cause thats a shitload of damage. This standard the agro has been totally taken over by all these puny humans. Mono white, U/W, or G/W are the agro's of choice now. If it ain't white, it ain't right.

...Man, I felt like a piece of shit even typing that joke, so I take it back. My bad.

Atarka's isn't a budget rare though. It is still a serious house in Modern, and I wouldn't be surprised if something popped up to bring G/R back in style when EDM (Eldrazi Dance Music) comes out. It's sitting at a pretty $12 per copy, and I wouldn't expect it to drop off a whole lot during rotation, and I see this staying at $8+ until some random chunk of the modern deck gets banned. What the most expensive piece in it? Goblin Guide? Yeah, let's ban that next. Diversity rules.

The OG walkers brought some friends in Magic Origins

Magic Origins actually had an amazing showing at the Pro Tour. Pyromancer's goggles, Dank Petition, Demonic Pact, Flippy Lilli, Flippy Jace, Languish, Knight of the White Orchid - the list goes on. The set had a ton of playables break out when put in conjunction with the new Shadows over Innistrad cards. Honestly, it made it tough to pick out good rares that didn't see play, because most of the sexy looking rares proved to be just as sexy as expected, and made their way into lists. Origins is looking like a surprisingly good set to snag a box of right now, since the rare slot is just jammed packed with money, and it will remain in standard for another six months.

Even though the best rares are already being played, I must deliver, lest I get placed in the Pear-Wiggler with the other naughty children. I picked the few remaining powerful rares that weren't played a ton, and tried to pick out the powerfulest. Also that is totally a word, shut up.

Third place somehow goes to:

Three heads, zero hope.
I know, this card isn't great. But I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here man, cut me some slack. Managorger is a late-game threat that you want to drop early, which is a precarious precipice on which to perch your people. If you keep him alive two or three turns, he becomes a huge trample menace. Lots of people tried brews with Hardened Scales when he game out, and now he's totally fallen off the radar.

Gorger's weaknesses are exile effects and bounce effects. And kill effects. Basically, most things. If you have spookier stuff on board that they have to answer first, he becomes huge and great, but if he's all you've got, you can bet he'll die early. He's still $2-3 thanks to his potential, but that's fairly cheap, all things considered. In a slower deck with green, he could do a bit of work, and is a decent budget pick for your three drop.

Also, honoureabruu mentions for this third place slot: Exquisite Firecraft, which doesn't have a strong enough red agro shell to fit in, and Gaea's Revenge, which dodges basically all removal, but is easily chumped or killed with a double block. Revenge is only 50 cents making him a great budget-ramp option, while Firecraft is still $3, since it's one of the few strong burn spells remaining in standard post-burnpocalypse.

Placing Second, begging for more artifacts:

Big Brother is actually a shitty 1/1 token.
Honestly, did nobody else see Clue tokens and think this shit would just be bonkers? Tireless Tracker is awesome with this, as your opponents aren't going to have any meaningful way to interact with your Clues, so you just get thopters all day. ALL DAY. Then they can boop your opponent to draw you some delicious cards. Seems ok.

Sadly it's way too slow to fight decks like Humans and Coco. The thopties are tiny, and Avacyn is not, so sometimes it's even tough to get through an attacker to draw. But still... so many potential cards, and so many thopties. I think the possibility for greatness is still there, and I really wanna do a U/G Clues list with this card. This is also a slam-dunk casual card, so it's really a steal at only $1. If you like artifacts in casual or EDH, or you want to try a Simic Mystery Machine monstrosity deck, pick up a few copies, cause they're nice and cheap.

The best loser is:

When Abbot of Keral Keep enters the battlefield, exile that card that you can't cast this turn but really wanted to draw next turn.
My girl Abby here saw quite a bit of play in the Atarka Agro deck, and still gets played in red-based agro. With a low curve deck, he can grab you a land or a free spell off the top, and then leave behind a body with prowess that can push through some good damage. All instrumentation displays dope, captain.

But again, red-based agro has fallen out of flavor, and didn't have much of a showing at the Pro Tour. He sees play in those decks, but they just aren't as strong as they used to be. He's still worth $5, and I wouldn't expect him to drop much. Red decks will keep jamming him, and if some good burn brings red back in EDM, I would expect him to keep a decent price tag for all of his standard life.

Battle for Zendikar Relevance

BFZ was a disappointing set for a lot of people. After the incredibly arousing power of Khans, seeing BFZ was like comparing Gilbert Gottfried to Kate Upton. And I think we all know who is sexier of those two.

Uh... so anyways, BFZ did still have some strong cards. Gideon has been getting around since he was released, and there have been a fair amount of other cards seeing play. How about the rare slot? Let's peek at what's goin' down.

Third place for best effort:

His face is a tree. Also, his whole body.
You'd think a 6/6 vigilance trample for four would be super playable, right? I admit it's hard to cast it for four colors, but still, even in a two color deck, a 4/4 vigilance trample is no joke. How did he not manage to wander into at least one deck?

Alright. You're deckbuilding. You have infinite money thanks to your wise investment in a USA-based ultra-plus-sized clothing line for the obese. You're building a deck, and you need a green four drop. Which are you most likely to pick? Your options are: Arlinn Kord, Collected Company, or Woodland Wanderer. Yeah, I think you see the issue. Of all the things you can do at 4 mana with a forest in there somewhere, Woodland Wanderer is by far the least scary.

Luckily in real life you invested in Roller Derby, so you're poor as fuck. Woodland Wanderer is only 50 cents, and for that price is not a bad threat. If you're trying to make a casual deck with quite a few colors, or a rogue budget standard deck that just needs a four drop, he's ready and willing, just like me ;]

The runner up did his best, but honestly it was kind of shitty:

What is it with Magic and mansions breaking apart and floating around?
Bring to Light was wicked hyped when it was spoiled. The first few weeks it was a $10 card, people were talking about modern implications, brews with 40 Siege rhinos were floating around, and all in all people were looking forward to searching for some nonsense. They did a few times last standard, but now instead of searching our libraries, we're searching for a home for Bring to Light. Wuh? Why, mang?

As I'm sure you've noticed, there aren't many four and five color decks floating around. Though I do want to shout out to the dudes who played Four-Color Dragon Reanimator decks at the Pro Tour. That's fuckin' cool as hell. But unlike the previous standard, color restrictions are real, and BTL (Bacon Tomato and Lettuce) just doesn't have the punch it did. Searching up a two or three cost spell is a lot less appealing, so the card has fallen totally out of favor.

BTL's modern dreams have died as well, and now the card rests at only $1 per copy. That's a fair price if you're looking to build a janky many-color-bullshit deck, so grab a copy or two or four or eighteen and get tropical.

And obviously the best card, yet it still didn't see play:

Restricted in Vintage due to power concerns.
Prism Array has a very high power ceiling. If you can manage to cast it for five mana, that gives you like... nothing. I couldn't even carry my sarcasm on for two whole sentences. Friends don't let friends play Prism Array.

The real thing is:

Hold the phone. You're telling me a three-cost three damage sweeper didn't get played in a format that has tons of creatures with three or less toughness floating around? That doesn't make sense. This kills literally everything being played until turn five. The hell happened?

Two things - color restriction, and Avacyn. You may have noticed a common theme for BFZ's top rares that weren't played. All of them are Converge cards; that is, they have an insanely high ceiling if you get the right mana, but in a meta that hardly supports three color decks, they can be very hit or miss. You want Radiant Flames on turn three or four to blow up everything, but you currently can't guarantee three colors by then. Not to mention, playing it turn five or later runs the risk of getting blown out by a flashed Avacyn. All in all, Languish is just a much better choice, even if you do have to wait another turn.

As long as you're building a Converge deck using all of these awesome rares that aren't played, you might as well throw in Radiant Flames. It's only $1 a piece, and pretty solid in this format if you can manage to jump through the hoops for it. Sleeve up these bomb ass rares, and see if anyone can keep a straight face as you say "I cast Prism Array for five colors."

Though the Eldrazi were defeated in Oath, they're actually... like, way way better

OGW dropped some scrumptious cards on us. It's like Wizards was like "Woah, our bad," with BFZ and decided to make Oath sick as hell. There are a ton of powerhouses such as Eldrazi Displacer, Linvala the Preserver, Sylvan Advocate, and Chandra, Flamecaller.  Honestly, on my first look through the set list, I expected this to be a lot like Origins, with all of the strong rares already seeing play. This time around, though, there are quite a few unique cards that still haven't found their home, yet still have plenty of potential.

Bringin' up the rear in third:

Good ol' sphincter face.
Despite being an anthropomorphic butthole, Vile Redeemer is not shitty. A 3/3 flash for three is already kind of sweet. His cast trigger is so god damn cool, too. Think about it in the B/G sacrifice deck - you sac your Blisterpods, sac their tokens, sac the Catacomb Sifters, and then run out Redeemer + a wingding, and get all those non-token dudes back as scions which can get you even more Zulaport triggers, or be spent to flip the Abbey if you still have dudes laying around. What's not to love?

This butt has one issue, though. His wingding option is only on cast, not enter the battlefield. This obviously makes him more resistant when counterspells are in the mix, but it doesn't help with Collected Company. Any deck that would be interested in running Redeemer would also run Coco. You can hit him with Coco, and a 3/3 is not bad, but not being able to use half of his abilities is a bit sad.

By some miracle, this rare is actually cheaper than the uncommon ran in the Coco deck, Bounding Krasis. For a paltry 50 cents each, you can have your very own butts to shove into some deck. I think he could be sweet tech against a control deck, as this is a very nice follow-up to a boardwipe.

Bearing the title of second best of the not-quite-good:

Bearer of Silence in the wild, praying that someone includes him.
OGW gave us access to a plethora of arms to work with. Both in the sense of cards that are powerful weapons, and in the sense that Eldrazi just have way too many arms. Though Bearer of Silence's appendages apparently aren't useful for blocking, they can certainly slap some face in the air, and his cast ability can be amazing. How did a flying beater duct-taped to an un-counterable removal spell not perform in a meta with tons of creature heavy decks without fliers?

Making an opponent sac a dude is way less attractive when half of those dudes have already extracted delicious enter the battlefield value, as is the case with Reflector Mage and Bounding Krasis. It's even uglier when they have cards like Blisterpod, Hangarback, or random tokens that they're more than happy to sacrifice. And then Bearer only has one toughness, so a lone thopty totally shuts him down. There are matchups where he will destroy your opponent, but all too often he'll just be an overcosted flier with a marginal effect.

Bearer is a cheap 75 cents right now, so if you want to build a deck with him, it's simple. I recommend a R/B devoid deck. Run Reaver Drone in the one drop slot, Bearer, Hangarbacks, and Forerunner of Slaughter for two, then some combination of Flayer Drone, Thopter Engineer, Matter Reshaper, and Eldrazi Obligators in the three drop. Top her off with some Pia and Kiran Nalaars or the next card on our list, and you've got some weird colorless agro/ETB brew going.

He tried so hard, and got so far:

But in the end, it doesn't even... smasher?
Yeah, that joke would have went way better if Matter Reshapper sat in this spot, but he actually got picked for Varsity for this tournament. I'm happy about that, since he's one of my favorite little three drops from Oath. Smasher is quite a bit bigger, and quite a bit scarier. For only five chunks of mana, one those it a kite, you get a 5/5 trample haste that forces a two-for-one if they try to kill it. Which, obviously they will try, cause this closes out a game super fast. Smasher did land in some sideboards, so I'll give him that nod, but he seems more than good enough for main deck. Where was this guy for the whole tournament?

The biggest things holding smasher back are his high cost, and the fact that abilities can still target him without triggering the discard clause. Also, at five mana, chances are you'd rather play Ob Nixilis, Avacyn, or a boardwipe, so his spot is highly contested. Then our best friend Reflector Mage shuts him down hard. Bounced and stuck in your hand for a turn is a really bad situation for your hasty game-ender.

Yet still, this Eldrazi fucks. After totally owning the modern pro tour in the now-banned Eldrazi decks, he's still sitting at a reasonable $4-5. That's almost in budget range, and if he continues to show up in low numbers, I'd expect that to go down even further. I'm running some copies in my current standard deck, Spaghetti Marinara, and so far he's been nothing short of amazing, so I'd recommend giving him a whirl if you're playing a deck with colorless sources.

Shadows was so spooky that I had to save it for last to build up my courage

SoI is an awesome set. It has great flavor, spectacular art (See this high-res Topplegeist art if you don't believe me), and a wealth of cool mechanics. I can definitely see it being praised as a fairly strong set with a great limited format for years to come. Having this and Oath follow of BFZ has proven that BFZ's low power was just a fluke, and R&D is still willing to make strong, tasty cards. The postergirl for this set, Avacyn, literally won the Pro Tour. Like, the damage from her flipping won the match. If that's not a fucking flavor win, I don't know what is. But she wasn't the only great card printed in this set; there are plenty of more cards begging to be used, and even if they didn't show up this time around, the future looks bright for this set in standard.

In third, placing somewhat poorly in even the losers bracket:

The epiphany came when we realized how bad Blue card draw is in this standard.
Epiphany seems like a decent card advantage spell. As long as you're paying three or more for it, you're probably going to get one card you really want, or a few that you sort of want. Once you start paying high costs for it, you filter through a lot, and it can make some interesting decisions. So why didn't anyone try?

As you can guess, letting your opponent pick what goes in your hand isn't ideal, since they probably don't want you to win. With Delirium and GY shenanigans, this does go up in value, but Delirium wasn't relevant in any of the top decks, and almost no decks used graveyard recurring cards. So, there ya go. Mystery solved, you can go home now Jace. But make a deck that needs Delirium, or a zombie deck (Prized Amalgam, anyone?), and this could be great.

As a rare in the new set, Epiphany is still priced at $3. Unless it finds a very strong deck to live in within the new week or two, I'd expect it to quickly drop to a buck, and you'll be able to pick up copies easily. Then you can finally live the zombie dream and go 1-4 at your local FNM.

Placing second by means of eating Sheep:

Though I maintain that this sheep looks more like a pig.
This card is near and dear to team Heavy Salami. Gaige is running it in his standard deck, and it has never failed to deliver. Its stock goes down against a token deck, but once delirium is on, it's still perfectly acceptable. They play Gideon and make a token, you eliminate both at the end of his/her turn. Boom. Feels fuckin' good, don't it? Pro's don't think so, though, and that makes us sad.

Delirium is something you sort of have to work towards. Instant, creature, and lands from Evolving Wilds aren't hard to get in the yard, but you need a certain deck to make sure you can also get a sorcery, artifact, or enchantment in there. You need to work super hard to get a Tribal in there. Since most of the pro decks weren't bothering with that noise, To the Slaughter was more like a Foul-Tongue Invocation that could hit walkers. That sounds sweet, but life-gain on Invocation makes a huge difference for the only deck that ran the spell, Esper Dragons.

To the Slaughter also has the new-set effect, and it's price is still fairly high at $4 a pop. It's a fine card, so I wouldn't expect 50 cent bulk prices, but dropping to $1-2 is likely, unless a powerful Delirium deck shows up.

And finally, taking the proverbial cake:

He heralds the arrival in EDM of our lord and savior, Tibalt.
Honestly, out of every card in this entire article, I think Sin Prodder would still take first for most powerful un-played card, or at the very least been up there with Atarka's Command. During spoiler season, the hype for Proddy was outrageous. He was over $10, people thought he'd be a defining card of this standard, and then radio silence. The hell happened?

So. I'm going to say some unpopular things, which is fine, because I'm already unpopular. I think Sin Prodder is great. If a midrange red deck that isn't based off of Eldrazi appears, this guy will be a major player. He can get in damage pretty well, he comes down early, and he gives you card advantage or burn damage. A bit more than a third of the time you're going to just hit a land that'll go into your yard, which sucks, but really isn't a setback. He can accidentally put a ton of pressure on your opponent just off of his trigger, and if they let you have a good card, well, crush them with it. I think he just needs to find a home and Sin Prodder is going to put in a ton of work. But, as it stands, he hasn't found a home, and he'll just remain another card that people look at, scratch their heads, and say "I dunno. Maybe once Polukranos rotates," or some shit.

Sin Prodder has dropped to $5 from his original lofty pre-release price. That's still pricy, and I'd expect him to drop more unless he puts up some baller results. If he does drop, grab some copies, get a pitchfork, and go poke your opponents to death with this devil.


Woo, that was a doozy, wasn't it? Going through the older standard sets has made me realize just how much unrecognized potential there is floating around. Craploads of unique, powerful brews are just begging to be made. All sorts of odd cards showed up in force during the Pro Tour, and there are still plenty more for you guys to use to be both original and good. Or sort of good. Or absolute shit, like us.

Hope you guys enjoyed this, and I hope it inspired you to build a 5 color Prism Array-Clue Producing-Thopter Spy Network-Tempo Control deck. I'm definitely going to try some off the walls brews with all of the shit I've just seen, and I'm stoked. This standard is wonderful, and I can't wait to play it with all you peeps. Next week I hope to take a look at under-utilized uncommons and commons, and we'll see just how budget-oriented we can go, so be sure to be on the lookout for it! Until next time, enjoy life, you sexy, sexy fucks.


Like reading about crappy cards? Think some other card totally deserves to be on this list instead of something I listed? Think we should make Team Heavy Salami t-shirts and such so that we can embarrass ourselves in real life? Well, whatever is rattling around in your noggin, feel free to let us know by droppin' a comment or sending us a message!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Shadows over Wizardstrad

Hello again basement dwellers. Gaige finally back in action to lay down some realness because it is time for the mediocre-est day of the week: Wizard's Tower Wednesday! I've missed the last few because I've been busy building a really shitty Standard deck that we have finally proved doesn't work. I've also kind of been busy at work. Either way those are stupid dumb reasons and I won't slack off again. So for all 3 of you reading, I'm sorry and thanks for caring (shoutout to that one person on reddit who asked what happened to Wizard's Tower Wednesday, this article is for you)

Not sure what Wizard's Tower is? Then good luck understanding anything in this article. Maybe now you'll actually get some work done. Or you can take a look here to see a breakdown of what this format is. Don't worry we'll wait. Did you read it? No? Yeah, I don't blame you. If you did though, feel free to continue on.

With the release of a new set and the release of new cards there are definitely going to be some fun new interactions. So today we will be going over SOI cards that would make great or terrible additions to a Wizard's Tower. As an added bonus because I do truly love you all, since I've missed a couple Wednesdays, today will be more than just two cards. Please save your applause for the end, or don't applaud at all because you'll just look dumb sitting at work clapping at your computer...

The Good

These are cards that are fairly balanced in this format and can cause really fun card interaction. These are the cards you want in your Wizard's Tower especially because they probably won't find a home anywhere else.

"I see. It is called the drownyard because people drown here." - Jace Beleren
This card is my favorite SOI card for Wizard's Tower. Like all great Wizard's Tower cards, it has deck manipulation and graveyard manipulation in the sense of dumping a huge pile of cards in the graveyard. You get X plus one cards and one pile goes into your hand and the other into the graveyard. Now there are a lot of things to keep in mind when playing this. Who do you want to pick in the pile for you? Does that person have a means to get cards back from the graveyard? How high are you? Not only are they picking what you get to keep, but they are picking what other players can potentially grab from the graveyard, which may totally change the pile they want to drown.

The best feature of this card is that it's instant speed. So when your opponents scry the top cards of the deck and leave you with the worst one, just play this and grab them all. No one can be mad at you for taking all the cards with a card this silly since probably half will get dumped in the graveyard anyways.

It has all the things that makes a card in Wizard's Tower great: card draw, deck manipulation, throwing things away, a cheap price (in case you want to go out and pick one up), and of course Jace is in the art, so you know its premium.

If Tibalt were and Animorph
Oh boy, look at this card that is too bad for standard or probably any other format. Don't get me wrong, I have a standard deck with this in it, but it's bad. In Wizard's Tower, like all bad cards, this card is great. Three Pronged Tibalt will let you potentially get an extra card each turn, and in a deck with no lands (or I guess a deck of only lands depending on how you look at it) you'll always do some amount of damage to someone. If you never get a card out of this you can at least watch your friends life totals slowly go down as you swing in with your 3/2 at the weakest link since they don't have at least 2 creatures to block it. Next thing you know you'll be perched in your chair holding a pitchfork smiling like idiot devil while all your friends desperately look for a boardwipe.

I just opened one of these. Already working on the "Richard Nixon's Head in a Jar" alter. -Dan
As writing this I'm realizing that every card I'm putting in the "good for Wizard's Tower" category is everything that makes up my standard UR control deck which tells me I need to just set that deck on fire and start over. On another note, I keep trying to force this in standard because I want to cast sorcery spells at instant speed and for only 1. This is what make this card fun in Wizard's Tower. You can just start putting counters on it to cast instant and sorcery cards for 1 and at instant speed. Or if you keep whiffing on everything you can just scry infinite and know what people will be drawing for the next forever turns. This card will be better in some Wizard's Tower than others depending on how you build it, but if you have a couple sorcery speed boardwipes in yours, than this card can be a lot of fun.

The Bad

These cards are either too weak or too strong and you want to avoid putting in your tower. These are cards that will either immediately get turned face down as a land or immediately played since it's the best card in the tower.

I wonder if Jace got a promo Jace in his pre-release pack?
Now I'm sure you're all used to reading girls journals, but this is a journal with secrets you never want to know. Like if Billy really does have a crush on you or if Mrs. Stragoneli really is the Satan. Investigating is something that would be fun in the format, but giving someone the ability to search through the tower is how your game falls apart and how your friends stop playing magic permanently. In a deck of 250 cards where no one knows what cards are in it and you probably forgot what you put in it, giving someone the ability to pick a single card out is horrifying. In a bad case scenario (it's not worst case because the worst case is probably someone dying or a meteor hitting the earth or something) your friend looks through and reads every card in the 250 card deck to make sure they get a good one. In a good case they maybe only go through and read 100 cards. Either way, play has stopped and people are getting bored as he searches and it's not like you can just take turns while they're searching since they have the whole deck now. Don't add this card. It is nothing but pain and suffering.

We angels can see everythiiiiiiiiiing

This card is currently in Standard pro decks. That is a huge red flag that should let you know it's probably too strong for Wizard's Tower. Which it is. It is WAY too good. When someone can swing in and just not leave themselves open to other attacks, especially if they already have big dudes (that are now slightly bigger) all hope is lost. You're probably thinking "You're not my mom, this will be silly so I'm gonna do it any ways!" DON'T. It won't be silly and it won't be fun. You might as well have someone drag you bared assed across concrete because when someone plays this card it will leave you with the same feeling. This card is a steak in a deck built up of leftover hot dogs. LEAVE IT ALONE.

Oooh. Eeee. Ohhh. Ahhh Ahhh. Ting Tang. Wadda Ladda Bing Bang.

Now on the flip side of the dice. A card so underwhelming that if you rolled it up, dipped it in hot sauce, and put it in your bum, you still wouldn't notice anything. Mana ramp in Wizard's Tower doesn't do anything. "But wait, I could play this turn 7 creature on turn 4." Yeah and I could drink beer and call it "Performance enhancing drugs" but that doesn't make it better. Ramp will never make a significant difference in your tower. Even if you're running X cost spells, it might be silly once but that would require one player to have both cards and yes they get to pull the top 17 +1 cards from the library to split into two piles, but any other time someone will pull this and be thankful that they finally drew a land. Probably not though since they draw a land every turn and never miss a land drop unless they want to. I don't know you and I have no way of finding out who you are, but I'll know if you put this in your tower and I'll just repeatedly call your house and when you answer your phone I'll just breathe really heavy and hangup.

So that's it for this week. There are six cards from SOI that you know work or don't work in your tower so you can just slap them in there or avoid them without having to think too much about it. One final thought: Overall delirium is probably a fun mechanic in Wizard's Tower since you will have a full graveyard a lot of the time. It just may take some testing to determine if some delirium cards are too strong. On the other hand madness probably blows unless you know you have a lot of discard triggers. Some cards like Fiery Temper might be okay to use since you can just cast that regular type and is still a decent card if you ignore the madness part. SOI has a lot of fun cards for Wizard's Tower so just start slapping a tower together, grab some strangers at your local K-Mart, and start a game while you hide under the clothes racks.


Did you hate every card in SOI? Did you stop playing Magic after reading this article? Are you eagerly awaiting the release of Battleborn and have nothing better to do at work so you're here reading this? Let us know!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Not lost, but totally forgotten - The 5 Most Neglected Mythics of Standard

Can't afford Mythics? Yeah, me neither. Check out our lists for Neglected Rares and Abandoned Uncommons as well, so that you peasants may also play.

What's up, my fellow cardboard wizards? This is Dan, bringing you another Junior Varsity article in which I talk about great cards that no one really cares about. Well, that's not entirely true. I care, because I love trying to make crap cards work, even if my track record in that department isn't so great.

Just you wait, their time will come.
We just came out of a sooper exciting Pro Tour in which we got to see a whole bunch of cards do extremely well. I mean, even the token "High CMC mythic green sorcery" made it to the top 8. That's some bullshit that Gaige would have tried. And I'm pretty sure if someone had told me two weeks ago that both Pyromancer's Goggles and Narset were going to show up in Top 8 decklists, I'd probably have told you to shut your whore mouth and asked how you got into my apartment.

But not all of the potential mythic bombs finally found their way into the spotlight. There are still a ton of cards that seem like they should be constructed all stars, but instead they're just sitting as a four-of in some shitty budget deck Gaige and I made, trying to fight through the tears as they put up yet another strong 1-3-1 finish at FNM in a field of ten people.

Senpai, plz notice me.
But which are the worse offenders? During spoiler season there are always plenty of cards that give more than half of the Magic community raging hardons (I mean, even some of the ladies. We're still trying to figure that one out.), yet they never see play outside of that one crazy four-color control deck. Some of them are so close - the potential power is just so tantalizing, that almost all of us have tried to jam these monsters at one time or another, and every time we're left with that exact same hollow feeling that you get when you go to open the bag of chicken tendies in your freezer but you realize there is only one or two left, but you were hoping to eat like 9.

This article is just going to look at exclusively Mythic cards that sit just below par. We'll peek at Rares, uncommons, and the common riff raff later on, probably. I make no promises. But for now we're going to lament the nearly-goodness of five mytics, and see if maybe we can inspire someone to finally create the bitchin' deck that can lead these powerful cards to victory. Or, more than likely, inspire 20 kids to make shitty decks based on cards that sort of suck. I'm looking forward to being one of those 20, so without further talking, lets take a look!

5th Place - The power of a truck, the reliability of a Pinto

Seen here, charging his Spirit Bomb.
Similar to me, Kozilek is a huge monstrosity that no one wants to play with. He has a big cost, but a big effect, and is damn near impossible to block correctly. With your newly full hand, you should be able to counter everything they throw at him, right? Fuckin' wrong m8.

Kozilek's double kite-mana symbols might seem daunting, but with ramp decks running Hedron Archive and Explosive Vegetation, it's not that hard to produce colorless or dig up a Wastes or two. He's also a great ramp target, as he immediately fills your hand back up to make sure you have later game steam. The issue is in how un-protected he is. Sure, suddenly your stupid ramp spells are counterspells, but the chances of you having a counter for the boogeyman, Declaration in Stone, isn't great. Tormenting Voice is just about the only two-cost spell ramp decks run, so unless you have that, Kozilek is just immediately gone. And yeah, even if they kill him, he still drew you cards, but I'd rather keep the 12/12 menace after dropping 10 mana on that booty. Token decks can even just chump him, Reflector Mage can bounce him if they need to punch through a bit more damage, Krasis can tap him, Gryff's Boon humans can fly over him... he just isn't resilient enough to make the big leagues, unlike his bro Ulamog who can just exile whatever spooky thing looks at him, and can end the game even if he gets blocked.

Kozilek is still a pricy $11 though, so he's not at the "buy it anyways and try to rock it in a budget deck" level quite yet, and I doubt he will be any time soon. He is indeed legendary, and he has crazy appeal for an EDH deck, so I wouldn't expect him to drop much under $10 any time soon.

4th Place - I guess zombies are staying dead

Can't break formats, but he can break windows.
Even now, as I look at it languishing in unplayed misery, Relentless Dead looks like a stupidly powerful card. Two cost 2/2 menace will probably hit them once or twice before they get the two blockers for it, and after that it becomes the ultimate chump machine, coming back to your hand for the low price of B. I assume he'd be run in a deck with other zombies, and then he starts getting dumb with his second ability.

But this recurring train has the brakes engaged. Relentless Dead is nowhere to be seen in the top lists, and no one has perfected a zombie brew with him. People are still obviously trying, though, as he's sitting at a painful $18, and is even sold out in quite a few shops. **Jk, I was looking at foil prices. You can get him for only $9! Which is... well, still a lot. Anyways, if a list comes up that can regularly be using his second ability to bring back a powerful threat (Diregraf Collosus or Fleshbag Marauder, anyone?) then I could see him being relevant. Until then, watch out for him. A rogue deck running this can get some crazy value if you don't immediately Declare him a Stone.

3rd Place - Apparently not enough value

Distantly related to Ashaya.

Mr. TreeLord is by far the most surprising to me on this list. Green has just been an insane card advantage color for the past several sets (seriously, what happened, blue?), and Greenwarden is continuing down that path. He costs some mana, but returning a card on ETB is sweet for dat immediate payoff, and then getting an optional second is an awesome reward if he's removed. Yet still, no lists are running him. Somebody explain this.

Sadly, Greenwarden was the new kid on the block, and though he's big and strong, installment plans are way more efficient.

"Hey guys" - a better card.
Den Protector completely overshadows Greenwarden. Paying three and then two is indeed less than six, not to mention the upside that you can pay the three far in advance, and then pay only two to get a card back whenever you might need it, and still have extra mana to cast it. On top of all that, Greenwarden's second card reward is a death trigger, and exile effects are everywhere in standard, so there's a chance you never get to see that second card. Going right from a standard with Abzan Charm everywhere to one where Declaration in Stones blot out the sun is not great for death-trigger creatures.

Luckily, for those of you looking to run green on a budget, our tree buddy Greenwarden is only $2. He goes great in casual decks, and he's not terrible in some sort of green midrange shell. Try him out in a deck, preferably R/G with all the sweet cards that aren't being played (Arlinn, Sin Prodder, etc) and see if you can steal some wins with your bargain bin cards.

2nd Place - Still trying to live the Dragon dream

Blue hair, red eyes, green clothes. Totally Temur.
I just love Sarkhan. Not even in a platonic way. More like a dirty, shameful, primal way. This card is just so sweet, and has a neat combination of abilities. If you're ahead, you get to just draw cards and make sure you have the mana to cast 'em. If behind you get a 4/4 flier, which blocks stuff pretty well, and you even get the ability to do it twice before he just flops. If you're winning a lot, then I guess you can play every dragon in your deck for free, which is probably like... four.

Aside from the disappointing ult, Sarkhan has some strong abilities. Drawing a card is wonderful, and I've heard creatures are important as well. But, if you'll remember from our Fate Reforged and Khans of Tarkir Junior Varsity articles, Temur sucks. That's about it, guys. Temur isn't a good color combination in standard. One day I hope our Temur overlords return, but as it stands, other colors just have better shit going on. White gets Avacyn, Reflector Mage, Declaration, and all of the weenie creatures, so the draw there is obvious, and then Black gets removal to deal with things like... well, Avacyn, Reflector Mage, and all the weenie creatures. Red Blue and Green certainly have very powerful cards as well, but just not the simple synergy you get with other combos, as Temur is torn between spells and creatures.

Sarkhan is looking like he'll spend his time around the $6 price range, thanks to people who love casual dragons (me). Get a few copies, tearfully sleeve him up with your poor neglected Savage Knuckleblades, and play some make-believe games with your imaginary friends.

1st Place - Flying into our hearts, but not into our decks

Hits people so hard that dudes nearby her get stronger.
Drana, unlike some of our other duders on this list, is not mana-hungry. She costs only three, and a 2/3 flying first strike is not a bad deal for that little. Her second ability is relevant in any deck that would want her too, as you'll probably be turning sideways a lot, and bigger dudes are nice. After connecting once or twice, your board is sure to be too big to fuck with, yet she has no showing in any of the top decks. Cmon man, why?

She does nothing the turn she hits, but that's not that unreasonable out of a three drop, especially when her payoff is so big. She's even got tribal synergy with some very strong new cards in SoI, but still she hasn't put up a showing, which is truly baffling. Sadly, it seems counters aren't well positioned in this meta. Reflector Mage makes any sort of "build-your-own-baddy" strategies weak. Sure, you might be able to get a counter or two on her, but then she'll get bounced and be out of commission for a few turns. That's no fun. Plus exile-based removal doesn't care about counters on things, and the burn removal right now is just massive. Lightning Axe and Fall of the Titans can melt just about any butt, no matter how fat, and by the time Drana can connect enough hits to survive a shot from one of those, you've probably won already. So there's the secret - make sure your opponent is playing zero removal and zero blockers. Got it.

And she's not even cheap! Drana still holds a whopping $13 price tag for a card that is seeing no pro play. There's a chance she drops, but dropping a ton of counters on an already strong board is a casual player's wet dream, and she's legendary for EDH, so I'm sure that demand will keep the price up. But if you do happen to have some Dranas, obviously the perfect deck for her is R/B Vamps. Insolent Neonate, Heir of Falkenrath, Olivia, Drana, and maybe some Incorrigible Youths sounds like a good place to start, and could be some sort of agro... thing. Fiery tempers too, cause burn.


So that's the list for mythics, people. I do want to give a brief shout-out to my girl, Arlinn, though.

Or maybe a howl-out. Because Werewolves.
Arlinn is awesome, and in my playtesting, she has done quite a bit. Wolves are dope, and flipping back and forth for creatures and kill spells feel fun as hell. Stabilize, and then smash their face with one of the two sides. Sadly she's still $30 **$20, so I won't get a chance to build a jank deck with her anytime soon.

Anyways, that's really it. Those are the cards, man. All of them do a lot, all of them can give you great strides toward victory, but all of them kinda suck. If any of you are like me (god help the Earth), then you'll keep on testing these cards, and dream of a day when your Temur+Black+Colorless pile of mythics will take down the Pro Tour. Or, I guess Worlds, since that's where you can actually make money. Whatever, I'll be busy getting a solid 18th place finish in Game Day with my crappy Spaghetti Marinara deck.

Dream on, citizen Brewers, and may your pulls ever be dank.
- Dan

Enjoy the article? Think some other mythic deserves to be on this list? Do you for some reason prefer Backstreet Boys over N'Sync? Well, you're wrong, but we'd like to hear what you're thinking anyways. Drop a comment below, or send us a message using the form on the right!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Deck tech - Mono-red "I forgot to build a standard deck"

Sup chitlins, this is Dan. Sorry we haven't been posting much content - Gaige and I have both been practicing for a state-championship tournament this weekend, so we haven't had a ton of time to write. We've also been working, which is less exciting. I feel like a wizard with a desk job, and it's horseshit.

It's like this, but instead of lightning, it's Microsoft Excel.
So, tournament! Neat. Gaige and I are both playing brews as we usually do. There's two reasons I personally rarely netdeck.

  1. I can't justify spending the money on flavor-of-the-week.dec, especially when half of it rotates so soon.
  2. I'm not a bitch.
Just kidding obviously, netdeck to your hearts content, it's just not for me. So this season our team has Gaige playing Black/White Boardwipe tribal, which I'm sure he'll do a write-up about sometime soon for those of you who like killing shit every turn. I, on the other hand, am playing this Blue/White Spooky Spirit Control deck that I made.

Dan! You stupid dong-guzzler, you linked a shitty stock picture of a fluorescent light. Yeah, fun story. So for about two weeks I've diligently tested a flash-control deck with spirits against all the relevant matchups. I ordered the last few cards I needed, and Monday we finally went to sleeve everything up. It was then that I realized some of my cards hadn't arrived in the mail. Some stupid motherfuckers canceled my Secure The Wastes order cause it jumped from like $4 to $12. Hope it was worth a customer, asshat.

This, sadly, was not secured.
Well, dicks. Luckily I ordered most of the parts for a R/W humans shell, so I went to sleeve that up. Oh, wait, they canceled my Thalia's Lieutenant orders as well. Time to just kill myself, I guess. As I opened another Oberon and began to drink myself into oblivion, I started to flip through my trade binder, wondering how many shiny Fugitive Wizards I was gonna have to trade away to make one of these decks work. Then, a sunbeam shined down from the heavens, illuminating a single, beautiful promo card I got at the Oath of the Gatewatch Pre-release.

*Angles sing out in chorus*
I was obligated to do it. Spaghetti monsters got into my mind. And red seemed like a fine enough color, so fuck it, let's cook up something shitty for the tournament.

I couldn't decide if I wanted an agro deck, or more of a long-game inevitability deck. I looked up how much Chandra, Flamecaller currently cost, and decided that the agro beatdown was suddenly much more my style. I start grabbing random red cards I owned, stealing quite a few of Gaige's, and before I knew it, my plate was full of a heaping helping of Spaghetti Marinara, and it was ready to smash.

The deck is sweet as hell to play. I mean, half your lands are god damn spells. That is most excellent. It can quickly switch between ultra-fast beatdown and longer game staying power, and with a lot of skill, it can do some crazy plays. So, naturally, my plays aren't too crazy, but I can dream. I'm gonna break this bitch down and look at the individual parts, and let you in on the secrets in my mind. Not the dirty, sexy parts though. We're saving that for Sexy Deck Saturday.

The Early Creatures:

So let's take a look at what we're working with here. Spaghetti Marinara is obviously a pasta-based dish creature-based beatdown deck. It follows a decent curve, with most of the meat-sauce being around the three drop spot, and then it has a couple bigger guys to close out the game.

Early on we have my beau, Lightning Beserker. Beserker does a lot of fun things in this deck. Of course she's great as a one drop, and puts a lot of pressure on the opponent by swinging in right away. She also can trade up for bigger dudes once you get a few red sources, so she makes a good blocker or attacker mid-game. Most importantly, she has dash.

Dash is very important in the current meta. Being able to dash her in lets her dodge the boogeyman, Declaration in Stone. It also helps against controlling decks, since you don't need to commit as much to board, so you can easily play around boardwipes. And, the dankest play, when she's your last card in hand you can dash her, hit 'em, and then activate Sea-Gate Wreckage before she returns to hand. Everyone loves drawing cards in mono-red, right?

100% chance of exiling a card you can't play.

And speaking of, Abbot of Keral Keep does that, too. I play him out on turn two if I really need pressure or blockers, but he's best coming out later to try and snag a free land or spell. Granted it always fucks me somehow, but I mean, the idea is there. After him, we move onto our thickass three-drop slot.

Obligators are stupid. They hit for a lot if you just want a hasty dude, they can get pumped by Ruins of Oran-Rief, and most importantly, they can steal a guy for a hot second. A lot of my games have ended by stealing their Avacyn/huge dude with Gryff's Boon, and smashing face for over 15 damage. The flexibility of him being either a three drop or a five drop is great, and he's an important finisher.

Reckless Bushwhacker rounds off the agro, giving us a pump spell on a stick to throw at the opponent. He can often close out the game if he comes down for surge, though he isn't 100% necessary, so I just run two.

Fat butts and the late-game:

She got a big booty so I call her Vile Aggregate.
As we wind down on our creatures, we get our delicious late-game threats. First on stage is the noodley Vile Aggregate. On his own he's a modest 1/5, which blocks Humans like it's his god damn job. Which, to be fair, it is. He also can get the pump from Ruins of Oran-Rief, and his power increases as we start to play our late-game threats, such as Thought-Knot, Pia and Kiran, Reality Smasher, etc.

Those dudes - they are our late game. Thought-knot is a big body that gets rid of whatever the scariest card they have is. Granted, there are plenty of times where they just reveal like 3 removal spells and two planeswalkers, and you will be sad, but you were kind of fucked anyways. Pia and Kiran give us some damage in the air, the ability to throw thopters at their face to finish them off, and give Vile Aggregate some more power. Reality Smasher smashes. He's simple like that.

We also have Matter Reshaper as a mid-game dude. He can get pumped by ruins to be a bit bigger, and when he dies he either draws us a card, or gets us a free guy. Declaration in Stone makes him super sad though, so careful to not play multiples against a white deck.

Spells to kill dumb things:

This deck is very light on spells. We have two Magmatic Insight to give us some steam as we topdeck garbage later, though these often get sided out for more removal game two. Fall of the Titans, Fiery Impulse, and Spatial Contortion are all just solid removal spells, and Contortion even gets around indestructible, which is neat. And our last spell is literally my favorite in my deck:

This is the image Alanis Morissette's voice brings to mind.
Warping Wail just does a ton in this format right now. All of it's modes are shockingly relevant, and there's a good chance that I bump out the Magmatic Insights for more of these suckers. Let's break this bad boy down:

  • Exile target creature with power or toughness 1 or less - This is everything this deck wants. So many low-power/toughness creatures just get in our way, and are generally annoying. Jace, Thing in the Ice, Consul's Lieutenant, and fresh Hangarback Walkers appear in some quantity in just about every deck, so I don't often find myself facing down a deck where this mode doesn't have a great target.
  • Counter target sorcery spell - Countering is the sideboard chunk of this card, though in some matchups it is relevant game one. Boardwipes can be devastating if you're going full-agro, and chances are that you'll want to do that against control. You know what control decks don't expect from an agro deck with only a Blighted Gorge and a Mountain untapped? Something to counter their god damn Languish, that's what. Getting two or three bodies on board and keeping up two mana for this is a very strong strategy, as often control will wait until they can get a two or three for one with a boardwipe, and if you counter that, they're probably screwed.
  • Put a 1/1 colorless Eldrazi Scion creature token onto the battlefield - I won't lie, when I first started putting this together, I thought I would never use this mode. It's turned out to do much more than I though, though. The two biggest are either making a scion on turn three, thus getting you enough mana to drop the dreaded turn four Reality Smasher. It's also very valid to cast this for a little dude, and then surge in a Bushwhacker to pump it and give it haste. These situations don't come up often, but options make me rock hard.
Prognosis, doctor? Fuckin' baller as hell. Write me a prescription for Hype. Just writing this makes me want to take these out of the sideboard and put them main, and you know what, I probably will. Good talk, team.

Lands that aren't mountains? What kind of red deck is this? Explain yourself:

Ok friends, now we're going to delve into the real strength of this deck. In most decks I play, barring the occasional man-land, lands are just a resource to cast spells with. The current sets offer a literal butt-load (we tested, and it is exactly one butt's worth) of utility lands, and this deck is sort of mono-colored, so we do our best to capitalize on the fact that we don't need a ton of color fixing.

Battlefield Forge does not double as a spell, but it does give us wingding mana to cast our big 'durzi spells, while still keeping the option to get red mana in a pinch. This is basically a dual land for us, since Colorless is one of the colors in this deck. Does that make sense? No, but this is our standard now.

Blighted Gorge is removal. Later-game there's often just a stupid Gideon token or something in the way, and you can blast it and punch their face to close the game out. I also did win one game by throwing a Blighted Gorge in their face. Literally picked it up and threw it at him. I won cause he had to drop to go to the hospital to have an Ultra-pro matte sleeve removed from his retina.

The sultry Foundry of the Consuls gets us some flying pressure later, or creates some surprise blockers to keep us alive through a lethal swing. Worth noting the Thopties pump Vile Aggregate as well, so be aware if you have the mana and are swinging with him. This is one of several cards that may have additional copies put it, depending how further testing goes, because flying is nice.

Ruins of Oran-Rief pumps our late-game threats to make them even scarier. It's also nice to have the option to make your tokens slightly bigger from your lands, Pia and Kiran, or Warping Wail. I may up the number of these, depending how further testing goes, but so far the singleton has showed up enough to help without the tapped down-side holding me back.

Just realized that Sea Gate is in fact not hyphenized. Also, I don't think 'hyphenized' a word.
Sea Gate Wreckage is the bread and butter of this deck. Or at very least, the Orange Juice. Sea Gate Wreckage is the <major breakfast roleplayer> of this deck. Since we're often playing 2 fast 2 furious, an empty hand is all too common. Sea Gate makes sure we can keep the steam for turns five and beyond, and it's one of the most important spells in the deck. All that in a god damned land-slot is enough to make me want to take this card out to a nice dinner and meet it's parents. Probably take it to Olive Garden, because for some reason as I write this I crave pasta.

And finally, our last utility land, Spawning Bed. Spawning Bed sounds disgusting (I mean - think about it) and is quite costly to pop open, but there are three entire tokens hiding inside of it. On their own they don't do a lot, but they can open a lot of other options up for other cards. With another land drop after, this hits you to ten mana to double-Smasher in a perfect world. Three tokens plus a Reckless Bushwhacker is a lot of damage to threaten at an opponent, and three 1/1's on their own already can help you to go wide. My favorite use though is to pop this in response to damage to give your Vile Aggregates an extra three power. Like a lot of cards in this deck, pretty sad on it's own, but the options it opens up are something worth playing.

Wow, you even took the time to make a sideboard? Let's look at it, I guess:

The sideboard is pretty simple. We have some value cards to help us play a later game and close out a grindy match, such as Chandra, Dragonmaster Outcast, and the ideally un-counterable Exquisite Firecraft. There's some mad removal to kill all Humans, as well. An extra Fiery Impulse, Rending Volley, Outnumber and Warping Wail all kill humans and agro creatures quite well.

If removal isn't your style, then how about a mad dash to count to twenty the fastest? You can drop out your Thought-Knots and Magmatic Insights for a flying hasty Goldnight Castigator and the 4th Eldrazi Obligator, and then you can count like a pro. Which, honestly, is like... anybody past the first grade. Anyways, buyers beware, because Goldnight Castigator can go hilariously wrong for you. I'd only bring them in against slow decks, since I don't have much confidence in winning a race against Humans with that angel on the field.

Opponent: "I attack with these four, and you take... uh... 208?"
And last but not least, we have our utility Warping Wails. I always bring these in against black-based decks, as countering a Languish or Flaying Tendrils at the right time is a massive swing, and can often win you the game very quickly after.

How are the matchups?

Against the main decks of the meta, this deck is not bad. I haven't played against every deck yet, and I'm playing in Bronze V here, not the Pro Tour, so I'm sure it's not a great representation. But here's what I've seen so far:

Humans decks will be everywhere, and it's just about an even match. I played my fair share against Mono-white, and both before and post-board, we we're pretty evenly matched. Gryff's Boon is the spookiest card in their deck, as we don't have much to deal with fliers, so our removal is essential. Rending Volley or a Fiery Impulse/Warping Wail in response to them casting it is huge, and makes sure the momentum goes in your favor.

Bant Coco is not too bad pre-board. We swing in hard, and we swing in fast. Reflector Mage is, obviously, wicked annoying, and will probably take out a creature with it's stupid two power and three toughness. Once we hit Thought-Knot level though, just grab away their Coco and we can finish them off fairly quick after that. Post-board you'll probably want to race them, but it is not an easy race. Bring in Obligator 4.0, Goldnights, and possibly Exquisite Firecraft if you're feeling ballsy. Alternatively, you can bring in Rending Volleys and Outnumber to clear the way for some spicy swings. That's probably the right way to go, since Hidden Dragonslayer will be gaining them a ton of life if it gets to live. In fact, I'd almost always bring in Rending Volley, cause Avacyn sucks. It's vital to remember that you can Rending Volley after she enters the battlefield, but before her indestructible trigger goes off, to kill her. Their other creatures still live, but Avacyn is a beater and a blocker, and the sooner she's gone, the better.

U/R Control is beatable, though it's a tough game. They have a lot of instant speed removal, and cards like Lightning Axe are even able to kill Reality Smashers and Vile Aggregates. The discard clause from Smasher isn't even much of a downside for them either, since Fiery Temper exists. That said, there is still a good chance you just swing in hard and fast before they can establish a Thing in the Ice. If they do land one that's giving you problems, Warping Wail handles it nicely, or you can force a bad block and finish it off with a Spatial Contortion. Post-board you'll want to bring in Rending Volley and Wails to make sure Thing never flips, and depending how brave you are, you can bring in the Dragonmasters and Chandra to keep late-game pressure, though I haven't had a chance to try that route against the deck.

B/W Control is probably our best matchup. We just go too fast for them. Game one is usually over before they can say "oh fuck I hope I draw Languish," and our sideboard is great for this deck as well. Warping Wails are a godsend, and the extra Obligator and Goldnights let us drop another huge hasty threat after any boardwipes that get through. I'm confident against this deck, and this is very similar to the deck Gaige is playing, so I'll be playing this matchup quite a bit.

B/R Vamps is a deck some goober played against me. I stomped it, it was hilarious, and good times were had. I don't think vampires are super competitive, but I'm going to pretend they are since I beat it so easily and it made me feel good.


So that's about it! All of this fits in at a nice, budget-y $150ish. That number can be very quickly dropped if you remove Chandra, the Goldnight Castigators, and Thought-Knot seers. You can replace Chandra with flip-Chandra from Origins, which is obviously worse, but if you can flip her, she still provides a solid late-game. Goldnight Castigators could be replaced with more Reality Smashers, which cost one more mana, but seven fewer dollars. Thought-Knot is tough to lose, but Pia and Kiran, Thopter Engineers, or even more Reckless Bushwhackers can make some sort or replacement for them, and save you some dollars. In fact, if you do the above changes, the deck drops to about $100. Not too shabby on a budget, and it gives you a shell that can be altered to either be full-on agro, or if you save up and buy the pieces over time, it molds into Big Red 'drazis with Hangarbacks and a playset of Chandra.

I'll be playing this in a nice long tournament this weekend, and will hopefully have more data to report on it. Until then, good luck fellow brewers, and may all your decks be great. Unless your playing against me, in which case I hope your deck is shit and you get landfucked hard.


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