Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wizard's Tower: Conspiracy 2: Tin Foil Hat Boogaloo

Don't let the conspiracies get you

Monday started my favorite season that comes several times a year: Spoiler Season. They started spoiling what will be in Conspiracy: Take the Crown and the set looks fun as hell. I haven't played it but when Dan and I get a chance to draft it, we'll put up a review of how it went down. In the meantime I'm going to go ahead and recommend it anyways based off the cards I've seen because it looks awesome. But after you draft this set, what do you do with the cards? Sure you can play them in Legacy but unless you have a couple grand just lying around Legacy can be a difficult format to get into. EDH is another possibility but only some cards will be good and your'll still have a lot left over. Good thing most of the Conspiracy cards are perfect for Wizard's Tower so let's talk about that.

For those of you that don't know: intro to Wizard's Tower

First, let's take a moment to shove this obvious point down your throat:

The artist is gonna get fired for forgetting to take the sticky note of the art of his card

How I imagine Harry Potter fans were when the cursed child came out

It says it right on these cards. These are drafting. They serve no function in a Tower because there is no drafting aspect of Wizard's Tower. It seems like it could go without saying but sometimes I just don't know about Magic players.

Better get your hands on this card before she gets assassinated in Conspiracy 3
The monarch mechanic seems perfect for Wizard's Tower and Queen McCheesy doesn't seem too overpowered for a Tower. Really it seems perfect in every format that has more than two people in it. I'm jumping the gun a little because obviously I haven't played with it yet and it could totally blow but I love the idea of passing around the monarch. I also love it more because I'm going to go buy a tiara and use that as our monarch token so that you truly feel like the ruler of the table. Multiple monarch cards in your Tower will give you a better chance of getting the monarch token onto the field. Passing around the monarch card is perfect because it gets the action going and allows for extra card draw for people. Will update with more info after actually becoming the queen of Magic.

I like the one dude just casually sneaking away 
Like the monarch mechanic this mechanic was developed for multiplayer and adds some sweet, sweet spiciness to Wizard's Tower. When you play cards like this everyone gets a vote and it adds more political fun to the game. It could also add political hatred and then someone flips over the table as they declare that they're going to capital punish you. Hopefully you don't hang out with people like that and it should add more fun that table flips. Unlike the first conspiracy, every vote counts for something more than just which outcome wins. On top of the zany antics that this brings, this card in particular is also a pseudo kill spell that would be a good fit in a Tower.

Better than a hollow burial
This doesn't really bring anything mechanically different, but it's a boardwipe and one of the most appropriate board wipes for Wizard's Tower. It resets the board while putting them all back on the bottom of the library. It is still possible that they come back into circulation especially if you have some library shuffling cards. There was one time we almost made it through a whole tower and then someone shuffled cards back into the deck. Just the creatures though. It was a very long game. No creature removal and no boardwipes. Just a lot of grid lock and constant swinging. Use this to make that happen. It'll still be fun. Probably.

Silence is golden but I would rather have mythics and they're orange
Again this doesn't have anything mechanically but as a individual card would be super fun in Wizard's Tower. It might be a couple games before it gets really good because you'll start to know certain cards at certain costs that you don't want played. If you don't its a 2/2 for 3 where you can safely call 3 or 4 as a number and shutdown a fair amount of cards. That gets rid of a lot of removal and counter spells and other weird things. If it's fairly late game you can also use this to help you keep your board state by shutting down a boardwipe or two. Throw in some cards that let you look at other peoples hands like Zur's Weirding and you can pick and choose what you don't want people to play. It can be pretty hit or miss but it's a good addition.

As more conspiracy things come out I'm sure there will be more awesome cards for your tower. Wizard's Tower is the one of the best uses for these cards if you don't have the wallet to play Legacy or the patience to play EDH. Wizard's Tower again is here to save the day with it's accessibility because, again, it is the best format.

Want to let us know how many boxes of Conspiracy 2 you ordered? Want to fill us in on how your draft went? Want complain about No Man's Sky? Leave us a comment or send us a message!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Not Lost but Totally Forgotten - The 3 Most Neglected Mythics of PT EMN

Missed the post after the last Pro Tour? Heavy Salami has you covered - check out the last list (which is actually still relevant) by clicking on this text!

This was most definitely NOT neglected.
Sup nerdles, it's Dan the Salami man here to talk about cards that need some love.

Oh boy, Pro Tour weekend. What a fun time for us neckbeard mages. Three exciting days of intense competition during inconvenient time zones (for me) to see who can both play Magic the best and flick the cards in their hand the fastest. It was a doozy, with plenty of cool decks, slick plays and notable events such as that one guy winning like 400 awards and getting second. Way to go, guy with the extremely distinct part in your hair.

But for a majority of players, the Pro Tour isn't something actively watched to see high-level Magic be played, or to follow the stories and careers of the players. Most players are just interested in what sick new decks are popping up, and what bomb-diggity expensive cards are going to be the bane of Standard.

Quite a few cards from Eldritch Moon made a splash. Elder Deep-Fried showed up in force, using four of its eight arms to tap down four permanents turn after turn, while the other four extended their middle fingers. Ishkanah, Grafwidow had at least a thousand spider babby throughout the tournament, Grim Flayer rearranged a lot of cards, and Liliana ultimated way  more than anyone expected. And of course, Emrakul, the Promised End made good on her promise. I'm pretty sure there was more coverage of players taking control of other players' turns than there was of regular Magic.

"Yeah, you should -3 your Ob Nixilis on your Kalitas. That is the correct play."
I mean damn, even Shaman of the Forgotten Ways, some dumb goober from Dragons of Tarkir, showed up in not one, not two, but three  entire 75 card lists in the top 8. Even my favorite fishlady, Kiora, was in the sideboard of one! Truly a unique Pro Tour, and players brought a variety of spiffy cards to the table.

But they didn't bring all of them. Like that one kid on the high school basketball team who is really tall so his parents made him play but he's not particularly athletic, many new and exciting cards ended up just sitting on the bench. There's nothing wrong with these cards - in fact, a lot of them are stupidly strong, and could be doing some real busted things, but they didn't see any play. What gives?

We're gonna take a look at three cards that everyone (or, well, I) thought  were going to be super good, but ended up being cardboard poop. Now I'm not saying that these cards are actually bad. In fact, I'm sure decks will emerge - pun intended - with at least one of these cards in them, and they'll end up seeing their time in the spotlight. Due to the current meta or current pool of cards, they haven't been given a chance to shine, but they are definitely worth keeping your eye on. So let's check it out.

Coming up in third, the losing-est of the losers:

More like Descend upon Tier 2.
This one was super shocking to me. Between Avacyn making everything indestructible at instant speed, and the ever looming threat of Selfless Spirit - or god forbid, Selfless Spirit at instant speed off of Collected Company - I figured "Destroy" effects wouldn't be as good. There are also a lot of powerful new cards that get outside of Languish range, such as Emrakul, Elder Deep-Friend, and Ishkanah, along with the old staples of Dragonlord Atarka and World Breaker. Plenty of biggun's. Yet even with all these big booties, Languish was the boardwipe of choice for the B/W Control deck in the top 8 that eventually won the tournament.

Descent has one thing going against it - six mana cost. That is a lot. Boardwipes need to be able to come down early so the control player doesn't get stomped by little dudes, and if they come later, they better offer huge upside. Well, this hits one of those checkboxes. Exile is not at all irrelevant with how many Graveyard/Delirium strategies there are, and the possibility of leaving behind a 4/4 flier for yourself is the hotness.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see this card pop up as a one or two-of in some lists from here on out. Recurring Ishkanah with Liliana or Grapple With the Past was a pretty common play, and being able to shut that down could be huge. It wouldn't take all that much to turn Delirium on by the time you're ready to cast this. A deck with this spell could play Evolving Wilds, will definitely play an instant and sorcery, possibly a critter, or just mill with Liliana, so the 4/4 flier is likely. If you're looking for a way to get an edge over a Delirium deck, consider running one or two of these main or sideboard, and you can finally be rid of that spider for good.


Landing in second, not even able to be the best of the worst:

"Oh no, the Boarror!"
The pig (these pigs?) look ready to fuck shit up. Call it Cratersnout Baconhemoth - he's a huge, tromply, non-Kosher dude who pumps your team for a game ending swing. There were even plenty of Emerge strategies floating around, which is the kind of shell this porker wants. Then why didn't we see him trample his way to victory last weekend?

Obviously Decimator plays best with a board full of critters. If you happened to catch many of the games, that wasn't the plan for any of the Emerge decks. They controlled the board until they could land Emrakul, or string together multiple Elder Deep-Fucks to lock out an opponent, so Decimator would have amounted to a 7/7 trample haste, which is no joke, but not as good as Emrakul.

Decimator needs a deck like Elves to be competitive in. Honestly, a list that floods the board with Thornbow Archers, Elvish Visionaries, and then casts a Shaman of the Pack to drain for a bunch would be a great home for this little piggie. Alert! Dream scenario coming up. Assume the opponent is in a coma or something:

Chip them for three or four the first few turns with Thornbow, cast Shaman of the Pack to drain for another four or five, to have them somewhere around 10-12 life, and then Emerge the Boarror to pump all your midgets and swing. Seems OK. Even though we lose a lot of the strong Elves from Magic Origins at rotation, I think we're one Elvish Mystic away from living the dream, so keep an eye on this guy if a low-to-the-ground green deck shows up. Maybe even some of those budget mono-Green Werewolves stompy decks I've seen floating around could use this effectively as their finisher?

We had the highest hopes, and she managed to fail most spectacularly:

I'm still not convinced this art isn't just a screen-cap from an Anime.
If, during spoiler season, someone told me that there would only be one copy of Gisela out of every Pro Tour deck that got six or more wins, I would have called them a dumb idiot. A 4/3 flying first strike lifelink for only four mana? That's insane! How is that not the best card in Standard? When I was initially brewing decks for the new season, Gisela was a huge concern for me, and I made sure every deck had a way to deal with this beast. Yet here we are. She is nowhere to be seen. Womp womp.

Turns out, another Mythic from Eldritch Moon has already rendered Gisela entirely obsolete.

"Good luck playing low-toughness fliers, assholes." - Spiderlady
Ishkanah blocks Gisela and doesn't even care. Whatever, just gonna eat this angel. Even if the Gisela player manages to deal with the big momma, the three spiderbabby give three turns worth of chump blocks to find an answer for Gisela. On top of that, she dies to Languish easily, Liliana's +1 makes her a joke, and basically every kill spell in the format deals with her without any problems. There is upside, though.

"I just need to never go outside again" - Innistrad Resident
That shit will fuck you up. That is way scary. The only list I could find running a Gisela was this dope Naya Legendary list, in which Thalia's Lancers helped to find Bruna, the other chunk of Brisela. The payoff is obviously big and tentacular, so I can see the appeal. I just fear that Gisela herself is too easily dealt with to be much of a force for quite a while. Trust me, I'm surprised. I even gave her the 2nd highest rating in my articles evaluating the Eldritch Moon Mythics (Part 1 and Part 2). Just like every other white woman in my life, Gisela has got my hopes way up to only crush them a few weeks later.


That's it! Normally I'd do the top five forgotten Mythics, but since my list from the last Pro Tour is still relevant, fuck it. Also it's Free Donut Friday at work, so I've got some donuts to smash. Post rotation it'll be a whole new game (jk it's still Magic), and a new bunch of cards will be here to let us down. I personally can't wait to see what new and creative ways Red will fail to compete with White and Green, so I look forward to it.

Until next time, buddy.

Was there another Mythic so forgotten that even I forgot it? Think one of these actually saw a lot of play and I'm just a big fat dumb dumb? Know what game I should play on the PC next? I just beat Mystical Ninja on my N64 emulator and now I'm open to suggestions. Whatever the purpose, shout out to us by leaving a comment below, or using the email form on the right! You can also find us on the Twatter @Heavy_Salami, or look out for our articles on the awesome!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Small Cards for a Big Tower

Magic isn't the only thing we're learning today

I always wondered why people might read reviews of cards for Wizard's Tower but when I think about it, it's nice when someone gives you ideas for cards or shows you cards you didn't even know existed to add to your Tower. Most of our card reviews for Wizard's Tower are for rare and mythics and a lot of that has to do with the fact that usually rares and mythics have some of the silliest card effects. The beauty of Wizard's Tower though is that you don't need to go out and buy anything to actually build one. You can just use whatever scraps you have laying around. This means you the bulk of your Tower would be commons and uncommons and low cost things. That's good because you should have a fair amount of interesting low cost commons. So that's what I (Gaige) am here to talk to you about today. Wizard's Tower for the common folk.

If you came here and are lost, check out the intro article to get you up to speed.

How is it that something with the leg strength to jump into a cloud is only a 1/1?

Much like my sex life, this is a nice slow start that buys you sometime until you can find a better card who has more in common with you and wants to explore more in the bedroom. What I mean is I don't have a sex life and I just build pillow forts in my bedroom that I like to explore. Its low cost and probably costs like -$0.50. It does however still have a lot of functionality. You can swing in with it if you so choose, or you can ping other 1/1 creatures. You can also just start pinging down your opponents if you're bored. This can die to anything and everything, but you may have counter or buff spells to keep it alive, and this dying also relies on your opponents having kill spells. Plus even if they do have a kill spell, who is dumb enough to kill a 1/1 when they should probably save it for something way scarier that you may draw later on in the game.

"Saltfield nomads" aka my opponents
If we look closely we can see this lion in its natural habitat. A low level creature that might get glanced over but fits perfectly in a Tower. Look how it stalks its prey. It jumps in at the perfect time knocking your other creature out of the way of removal. Maybe your other creature was blocking to save you some damage. Well the lion jumps in and saves your creature while still keeping you safe. Now you have one creature still on board but your other beautiful animal lives to fight another day. The lion like many other animals appears weak on the outside but finds his place in the Tower. Many call him king of the jungle but I like to call him lion of the Tower. It's low cost, low price, but filled to the mane with function and is a great early game card.

"What do we do, it's just walking away from us?"

It's like my pappy always used to say "If it has a bunch of knives and arrows stuck in it, you probably don't need to worry about it killing you." That's exactly how this card is. It is not strong and won't kill you but it's a chump blocker and can chump block twice. Trade with their 1/1 and then you get a 2/2 back so you can trade with your other opponent giving you a 2 for 1. This one doesn't have as much offensive functionality but is great for sacrifice costs and getting in the way. If you have some cards in your tower that let you move around +1/+1 counters maybe you can keep your best friend the butcher ghoul alive forever. Oh the high jinks you two will get into!

How is this different than a sheep shepherd? Sheep already sound like they're dying.
This card will always have a special place in my heart because back when I started Magic (I wanted to say back when I was bad at Magic but I can't because that still applies today) I built a zombie deck where I used this to make sure I never lost a game. If things weren't going my way and I was about to lose, I would tap 4 of these with 10 or so zombies on the field and just kill everyone including myself. That way I at least got a draw rather than a loss. Since this is 1 life for each zombie anywhere on the battlefield this card is a lot of fun. You'll be bound to throw in a handful of zombies in to the tower just because it's such a common creature type and there are a lot of good zombies. This again is a low cost cheap card that can poke and has some fun utility and depending on board states, can still be decently powerful late game. It's like a black version of the above mentioned lighting lady but that can get more amped up when it's posse is around.

She's just crafting her mixed tape

Are you starting to see a theme yet? Yeah me neither but I will say that activated ability low cost creatures are the ones that keep the early game interesting. Look at this lady. Pay 1 and tap to make her mixed tape and then tap her to to throw a mixed tape to deal one damage. Although this is a two turn process, you can always make a dude at the end of the opponent before your's turn and keep her untapped through everyone else's turns in case you need to throw 1 damage at something. Or you can just build a pile of 1/1 defenders so you can throw warm bodies at some big creature as it attacks. You can make infinite chump blockers. There is a lot you can do with her cause she is on fire. Well she's about to be. Look at that splash back behind her. Apparently whatever plane she is on needs to have some OSHA creatures come take a look at the working conditions.

One final piece of advice from Pappy Salami: "If you don't know how to build something just start smacking the pieces together until it starts to take shape." Well something like that. Actually nothing like that. My pappy never said that to me and if we're being honest I never had a pappy. It was always Grandpa Salami to me. As far as commons go I don't really expect any of you to go out and buy commons for a Tower because that's unnecessary and tedious. Just use what you have lying around. Sometimes you're not sure what will work and what won't but just start slapping pieces together and trying it out until you get something beautiful.

Want more friendly advice from Grandpa Salami? Want more common ideas? Want an envelope full of commons? Leave us a comment or send us a message!

Friday, August 05, 2016

The Gauntlet

A segway obstacle course seems like an oddly appropriate comparison

Magic can be intimidating for those outside the game. People may not want to start either because they know they'll be spending lots of money, or they think it's too difficult of a game to learn. This makes it hard to get some of your friends to start playing Magic and can lead to small play groups and playing with the same people. Dan and I have this issue but that's just because we don't really have friends. So after playing with the same people (or person maybe) over and over and playing the same decks over and over it can get kind of stale. There are lots of different formats in Magic that can keep things fresh but maybe you're all Standard, Modern, and Commandered out. Our first suggestion would be to check out Wizard's Tower. There's the intro on how to play and then a bunch of other articles on ideas of how to enhance your tower. If that doesn't keep your airplane afloat then stay tuned!

When you play with the same person and same decks over and over you start to see a rock paper scissors pattern. My deck A beats your deck A, your deck B beats my deck A. My deck B beats your deck B but your deck C beats my deck B but loses to my deck A. Sometimes you may have two decks that play really well against each other and you go back and forth between wins and losses which is probably better than rock, paper, scissors, but can still get old. Introducing: The Gauntlet.

You can pretend this is what you look like when playing this format

Now The Gauntlet requires you to have 3 decks and at least 1 friend with 3 decks. You can also get by with 3 decks and someone who may not be your friend but is willing to play Magic with you and has 3 decks. If you don't have that, you could probably make this work with 6 decks and your cat who won't actually sit with you. So it's really just you playing with yourself (heh).

So you and your opponent each pick 3 decks (or really any number of decks depending on how long you want this horror of a game mode to go on) to play. Make sure all three decks each of you pick are all from the same format. Meaning you both pick either 3 standard decks, 3 modern decks, 3 pauper decks, etc. Call one deck "A", one "B", and one "C" without telling your opponent which deck is which. Your opponent will do the same. They may know by your sleeves or deck boxes but that's why you don't sleeve your cards. This way all your decks look the same, all of your cards are sticky, and later in life you can regret how beat up they are when you find out that the card you had was worth about $200 but no one will buy yours for more than $10. Seriously though, take the time to sleeve your cards. You know what they say "Don't be a fool, sleeve your cards or watch them depreciate in value with extended play." Or something like that. MOVING ON!

"I don't have a table big enough to layout out three decks side by side like this." Can you not see this is just a visual representation? Just keep in mind that visually your decks are laid out like this and as mentioned above, a table large for three decks worth of play space is not required. It just will give you more of a gauntlet feel as you actually move down the table. Plus it gets you to move which is nice once in a while.

Step one to the gauntlet: Each of you grab deck "A" and play a game of Magic. Easy right? Wrong. Magic is hard, making this first step somewhat difficult. So play out your game of Magic. How did it go? "Well I would have won but I got land flooded" I don't need your excuse filled sob story, I just need your ending life totals. "Well I lost, so mine was 0 and theirs was 6." Great now here is the next step:

Unlike normal Magic, you do not play best of 3. When your deck loses, it loses and is eliminated. So in this example, your deck "A" has been eliminated. Your opponent shuffles everything back in to their deck "A" and you move on to your deck "B". You play another game of Magic except the difference is that you are playing deck "B" and your opponent plays deck "A" again BUT their starting life total is whatever they finished that last game with. This means although you lost the first game you start with a sort of "advantage" since you're starting with a much higher life total. In this example you start at 20 and they start the second game at 6 life. You now play out game 2. Oh, you won? Hooray for you! You beat your opponent's deck "A" and finished with a life total of 15. Now it's your opponents turn to slide down the table.

Now your opponent grabs their deck "B" and you shuffle yours back up and you play another game of Magic with your starting life total being 15. This pattern repeats. If you lose, you move to deck "C." If they lose they move on to their deck "C." If you were brave enough to have more decks than "C" I will pray for your soul, but also you would just keep going down the line until someone runs out of decks to slide down the table to. Whoever loses the game while playing with their last deck loses the whole gauntlet. In this example whoever loses the game while playing their deck "C" loses the gauntlet. It doesn't matter what deck you lost to, if either of you lose while playing your last deck or deck "C" then you lose. Then if you are truly adventurous and love the burn of a good workout, you rearrange the order of your decks and you start the gauntlet again.

"What have I done? What choices led me to this point?"

You might need a breather and a clean shirt after all that Magic. As you can see this format can take some time and could be up 5 games of Magic in one sitting depending on how things play out. It can also be a refreshing way to play Magic with that person you play Magic over and over with. If this becomes a repeating format that you play, then you can strategize what order you want your decks in to be most effective against your opponents decks. Maybe you have your aggro deck first to burn through as much life as you can before it's defeated. Maybe you play your control deck first so you can gain a bunch of life and start game 2 at 30+ life rather than 20. It adds a new level of depth and new level of thinking to how you want to play. Maybe you just have 3 aggro decks and try and hit as fast and as hard as you can. The possibilities, much like this format, are endless. The biggest issue is defending your honor. You may have just lost the gauntlet and of course you need to defend your title, but do you really challenge your friend to another gauntlet?

This could also be tweaked a bit to work with 3 or 4 people play at once if your play group require that. Have each player grab three decks and play a free for all multiplayer game. Play out the game until only one person remains. All those that lost move on to their deck "B" while the winner keeps their deck "A." Play rounds until all but one person has lost with their deck "C." I have never tried this so someone will have to try it and maybe change the rules a bit to make it fit more for multiple people, but I don't see why this couldn't work if done correctly.

I played this a lot in college when it was just my roommate and I who played Magic. We each had three decks and didn't have 5 dollars or gas money to go play at our local FNM. So we played each other non-stop. We would just cycle though our 3 decks until we basically knew who was gonna win before the match even started just based on the match up. This format was a nice change and as mentioned above added a new level of strategy to how we played our decks. Since we new some match ups were better than others we tried to order our decks in a way that best took advantage of these match ups. I would recommend it if you have a whole afternoon or evening to kill. Even if you only play this once every couple of weeks it's still something I recommend adding to your collection of game modes.

Want to tell us how your gauntlet went? Want to tell us how many decks you each used in your gauntlet? Want to send us your American Ninja Warrior audition tape for pointers? Send us a message or leave a comment!

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Big Green Bluizers: Ulamog and Extra Turns?!

How you'll look as you go collect all those prize packs.
Hey there peeps, it's Dan! I'm back from a surprisingly lengthy hiatus in which I lost pre-release events, brewed (both decks and beer), went camping, and wrote several articles for 5 Color Combo. But don't fret - none of this was truly idle time. In between each game loss/beer drank/raccoon stealing my camping hotdogs, I was hard at work in the lab with a pen and a pad scribblin' down the next new Standard hotness. And it has arrived. I present the froots of my loom:

Oh yeah, that's the shit. This deck is jammed full of fatties, ramp, and the most dope Planeswalker in Standard.

"Suck my dick, Gideon" - Fishwizard
Saying I'm excited about this deck is a bit of an understatement. At least 50% of my Facebook chats are now just me talking about casting World Breakers and such on turn 4, then ulting Kiora and getting all hot and bothered as my Octopodes lay the smack down. The deck is ballin', and a ton of fun to play. (Note: See near the end of the article for a budgety version!)

Competitive? Fuck yeah it is. It's done quite well in testing. It smashes control decks without any issues, it can survive the aggro onslaught, and sometimes Bant notices it's there. But how, Dan? How does this Kiora-fueled extra-turns Eldrazi-poopin' deck function? Don't worry bby, I got you. Me and my girl Kiora are gonna fill you in on these super sweet sultry Simic secrets, and then you too can ride an octopus to victory.

How it feels to play this deck. Except with more corndogs.

The actual Big Green Bluizers (Creatures):

Spoiler alert: This is a ramp deck. We use our low cost spells to get an insane mana-advantage on our opponent, and then pull a Tony Hawk and ramp into sick shit. Let's look at these dudes, starting with the early game plays, and see how each will contribute to our inevitable victory.

He both grows 'shrooms and is 'shrooms.
This dirty hippie is our turn two play, ideally. He gives us mana, and that's swell. He pairs insanely well with Kiora, since you can tap him and a land for mana, then use Kiora's +1 ability to untap him and the land, essentially ramping us into two additional mana.

Some other considerations for this slot are Sylvan Advocate if you have a bunch of extra dollars, or Ulvenwald Captive if you're recently lost all your money. I personally like Cultivator over Captive, since he can chip in for some damage if you don't need to mana, trades up late-game thanks to Deathtouch, and doesn't require additional mana investments to be useful later. That said, if you aren't lucky and aren't finding any of your big dudes, Ulvenwald Captive's flipside is fairly strong. Advocate is Advocate - the card is stupid and perfect. Use that if you can.

I once jokingly traded a pack to the guy across from me during an Origins draft, and it had a Nissa. Never again.
Flippy Nissa is my 2nd favorite lady in this deck. Well, 3rd, if you count Emrakul as a lady. She makes sure we hit our 4th land with her enter the battlefield trigger, and is a little 2/2 that can trade or attack if necessary. Once you hit your 7th land, so like, turn five, she flips out.

She also gets rebellious and gets a tattoo that says "Ashaya."
Nissa has one fine backside. Her +1 is essential in this deck, giving us much-needed cards. Early game you blow your hand on a ton of ramp, maybe play one big guy, but then you need more gas to keep smashin'. Nissa and Kiora supply those fatties, and therefore are a big part of this deck. Her -2 gives you a blocker or attacker if you need it, and then her ult wins, like most Planeswalker ults.

If I owned four of her, I'd probably make her a four-of, but such is life. I could see dropping a Nissa's Pilgrimage for the 4th copy.

I never realized that those are tents on the island. This dude is big.
Despite being an expensive six mana spell, Drowner of Hope is our midgame. He comes out on turn four fairly reliably, dodges Spell Queller, and locks down threats to keep our life total or Kiora safe from fliers until we can get out a World Breaker or Ulamog. His tap down ability is nuts, and if they have nothing for you to tap, well, looks like you're bashing them in the face for a fuckload. Sometimes you just need to use those two Scions to pump out an Ulamog or Emrakul the very next turn. Who knows, it's your life. Even after exhausting his scions, a 5/5 is no joke, so Drowner is great at all points.

This art is both terrifying and oddly arousing.
I'm still on the fence about the Hydra. In all of my testing online, he usually just gets Ultimate Price'd, which is heartbreaking. In real life though, I imagine I will play only against Bant, and he's quite good in that matchup. Reach let's him block angry Spell Quellers and Avacyns, and he's more than big enough to live to brag about it.

He starts somewhere between a humble 5/5 to 7/7, and quickly becomes a gigantic monster that can rumble with any creature in Standard, even Brisela! He also ramps when he enters the battlefield, letting us grab a valuable Sanctum of Ugin or Lumbering Falls, so having him hit by Reflector Mage isn't the end of the world. Overall I think he's good, but I'll need to do more testing to find out if this slot should just be another Drowner or maybe an Ishkanah, Grafwidow - I mean, I guess we can technically activate her ability off of Deathcap Cultivator, right...?

Oh hey, that's the Hallowed Fountain in the background.
World Breaker quickly became a ramp staple when he was released, and it's easy to see why. Ramp decks are all about getting a mana advantage, and then playing some huge dudes. So why not get a mana advantage, get a huge dude, and then get a bigger mana advantage?  Yeah, fuck it, I'm in. The fact that he can occasionally snag an important Artifact or Enchantment is awesome, even though exiling dual lands will be his most common purpose. I've a few of these on turn four when I'm on the play, and typically my opponents just leave the game. It's that good when you get him early.

I understand Ulamog because I too am ceaselessly hungry.
Oh boy, now we're getting to the good shit. Ulamog is bonkers. Nine times out of ten, Ulamog resolves and you just win the game. You snipe their best two creatures, or maybe two planeswalkers, or if they're not doing much, just blow up their land. He's a fuckin' huge 10/10 indestructible, so there aren't a lot of ways to deal with him, and he blocks any ground creature with no issue. When he attacks they exile the top twenty, which means that even with chump blockers, Ulamog is effectively a two turn clock. He is easily the best payoff in this deck, and is an absurd card. I luv you, Uly.

"This probably isn't good" - Everyone on Innistrad.
Emma is one fat flier, and she does indeed promise the end. Thanks to our deck's ability to easily get four different types in the graveyard, she typically costs 9 by the time we are looking to cast her. And when you cast her... damn. Taking control of a player is a lot of fun. You get to see their hand and for one entire turn, then make the absolute worst decisions they possibly could. In short, make them play like team Heavy Salami. Typically you want to run their scariest monster into Emrakul to die, tap any painlands to damage them, and use as much of their removal on their own guys as you can. Sometimes just resolve a Collected Company and put nothing on the field. Feels good, man.

As a 13/13 flying trample for 13 (Hey look, Gaige called it!), Emma closes out the game super, super fast. She has protection from instants, and just about nothing blocks her well, so the opponent has a very short time to find some sort of answer. Honestly, I think Ulamog is the stronger card of the two, but diversifying to include an Emma or two is a good idea just to dodge a game-ending Infinite Obliteration. Also, you get to mind control people! I'll pay extra for that.

Other spells 'n' shit:

Every other spell in this deck (with the exception of Part the Waterveil) is wholeheartedly dedicated to piling a fuckload of land on the table, giving us extra mana, looking for extra lands, or looking for more big dudes. It is both elegant and sexy. I'm not even gonna talk about Explosive Vegetation and Nissa's Pilgrimage, as those are pretty self-explanatory. I guess just realize you can grab Islands with Vegetation, which you will most likely want to do, since there are several other ways to find Forests.

Man, I hate Nissa, and I hate that I have a deck featuring her so much.
Oath of Nissa is dope. It gives us something to do on the first turn, which is nice, and let's us keep hands that are short on lands or short on threats. It can dig up a giant monster, which is something we're always in the market for, and it can even grab Kiora and help us cast her if we don't have a blue source. Overall this helps smooth our game out a lot, and though not high-impact, is a vital card. Oh, also sometimes it goes into the graveyard and makes Emrakul cheaper. Neat!

I love me some Time Walk. Especially when it can kill people.
This is the spice for our meaty deck. No one expects Part the Waterveil when it comes down, and it always takes the opponent by surprise. Following up an attack from an Eldurzi Titan with one of these is more than enough to finish the game without giving your opponent a chance to answer it. Part can also act as its own win condition by using Awaken on a land, preferably a Lumbering Falls.

The fail case for this card is just cycling it to take another turn, which still isn't bad. You get to draw a new card and play another land, making it the slowest and most expensive ramp spell ever printed. Desperate times, desperate measures. But who knows - maybe you just needed one more land to get out that World Breaker which is going to turn the tide of the game? In a deck with this much mana, Part becomes a flexible card, and I've had good experiences with it.

Encouraging tentacle fetishes everywhere.
Kiora is an outrageously strong Planeswalker. Alright, I know that sounds like bullshit, but bear with me. Let's look at the abilities:

+1: Untap up to one target creature and up to one target land.

Ok, so the fail case scenario for this one is that you can untap a land. That's still ramp! Sometimes you run her out on turn four, use her plus, untap a green source, and play an Oath of Nissa. Not too shabby. The ceiling on this ability is incredible, too. If you have a Deathcap Cultivator, you can skyrocket your mana very quickly. In the late game, if you have a Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, her plus on Deathcap and Shrine nets you an insane three extra mana for colorless spells. That's big game, and it can allow you to cast several extremely potent cards in one turn. I've cast Ulamog followed up by a Part the Waterveil, and it is sexy as all getout.

-2: Reveal the top four cards of your library. You may put a creature and/or a land card from among them into your hand. Put the rest into your graveyard.

This is one of our best card advantage engines. Typically, by the time you want to minus her, you've already cast plenty of ramp spells, so all you really want are utility lands and creatures, which this grabs for you. Awesome. It also tosses some more cards into the graveyard, ensuring your Emrakul gets a good discount.

-8: Beat the shit out of your opponent with a pile of Octopii.

Three 8/8s is probably enough to win the game, but just in case it isn't, you get to fight everything as well. And then for the rest of the game, all of your creatures get to fight something when they enter the fray. Your creatures are very, VERY big, and will probably win the fights. Except the Eldurzi scions from Drowner of Hope - they aren't the best fighters.

All in all, Kiora does everything this deck could want, and she plays a big role in the consistency and speed of Big Green Bluizers.

Lands are fun:

The lands are straightforward for a two-color ramp deck. We shove in the relevant man-land, a couple of the pains, and then add in the strong ramp lands available to us.

There's something foreboding about Ugin summoning all these Eldrazi...
It's pretty obvious how you use this - cast big dude, find big dude. Note that you don't need to find a colorless guy with cost over 7, so this can grab a Drowner of Hope to tap down blockers so that your Ulamog or Emrakul can crush them.

Once you have seven lands, this is the card that gets you up to Ulamog/Emrakul territory. It's great with Kiora as I mentioned, and also lets you cast multiple huge spells per turn. Don't be a stupid like me and think that you can tap this for two to get out your Kiora. This land only taps for two for colorless spells. You've been warned (even though that doesn't help me and I still do it).

Matchups and Sideboard:

Aggro decks can be rough, depending on how explosive of a start they get. I recommend trading off your Deathcaps and Nissas for their creatures early and often. Slamming a Kiora will distract the opponent from your life total, and if they let her live, you can plop out an early Drowner of Hope. Drowner is our best card in the matchup - it taps down their best attackers, and can also trade off with some dudes. World Breaker is also great, since it gets rid of Always Watching, Gryff's Boon (permanently), or one of their few lands.

I have four Gnarlwood Dryad in my sideboard to fight agro decks. A free trade for one mana is great, as it protects our life total and doesn't take up a ton of mana to do so. Pulse of Murasa pairs great with Gnarlwood too, letting us gain a bunch of life and re-deploy a deathtouchy blocker. I also bring in two Crush of Tentacles. Surging them with Oath of Nissa or Gnarlwood Dryad gets us a massive blocker while clearing their board, and then we're golden.

Bant is stupid. I won't lie to you guys and say that this will always beat Bant. Bant will probably Spell Quell you to death, since your deck is quite susceptible to that once they know what's going on. The best I can to is try to let them murder you less quickly.

Be sure to only sneak in ramp spells when you think you can dodge a Queller, which I realize isn't often, but at least try. Deathcap is good here since he lets us play our four-cost spells slightly earlier, giving us a better opportunity to dodge the Quellers. If we make it past the four mana point, we are home free. World Breaker and Ulvenwald Hydra are exceptional blockers that they don't want to bounce, and Drowner can rumble with all of their creatures while also alleviating pressure. Ulamog gets rid of... fuckin' whatever, and Part the Waterveil Awakening a land is excellent pressure.

I'd sideboard in the Crush here, just because getting back your ramp spells off of Spell Quellers will jump you into the late game. It also slows them down considerably, since you're bouncing back multiple creatures they may have gotten off of Collected Company, and it will take them longer to redeploy in a fair manner. I've found some success with Jace, Unraveller of Secrets as well, since he's just outside of Queller range, can bounce them to get your spells back, or gives us more cards for late-game. I've also played some Altered Ego's against this deck, since making a bigger version of one of their creatures is an awesome way to put through damage. He's also top dawg against Reflector Mage, as you can cast him right away, since the card's name is Altered Ego, but when he was on the battlefield he had the name of whatever he copied. Also, fuck it, you can just copy a Reflector Mage to have a gigantic X/X+1 dude who bounces their scary guys.

The current popular flavors of control are excellent matchups for us. Thanks to the outrageous dominance of Bant, the control decks are build to remove a flurry of small creatures until they can land their big threats. That doesn't quite get the job done against us. You may lose your Deathcap Cultivators, but sticking Nissa's Pilgrimages and Explosive Vegetation will put you ahead on mana, and then your threats scale past theirs. World Breaker cuts them off mana or utility lands, and is huge. Drowner isn't at his best in this matchup, but tapping down a Gisela or Kalitas is a nice upside, and he does dodge Languish, Grasp of Dankness, and Ultimate Price. This matchup basically boils down to "How soon can I cast Ulamog?"

In the next few games, I bring in Sphinx of the Final Word - an evasive threat that is not easy for most decks to do anything to. Altered Ego can be fun, because nothing beats Brisela quite like a larger Brisela. I also add in one or two Tireless Tracker, since all it takes is one ramp spell to net us a butt ton of clues, and if she isn't dealt with immediately, she wins. SoI Jace can be good here as well, since he gives us more cards and can reset a Brisela or a pumped up Kalitas.

Big dudes! Extra turns! Fishwizardlady! What more could you want from a deck? Oh, maybe to not spend like $200 on it. Never fear, budget wizards. If you want to cast big guys on a budget, you can give this list a try:

This list doesn't have the Titans, which is obviously not great, but Gaea's Revenge is a super annoying card. Taking extra turns on turn five when you have a gigantic 8/5 beater that can't be targeted by kill spells is usually enough to seal the game. Most importantly, this brings the price of the list waaaay down to around $60, and that can be lessened further by replacing Crush of Tentacles and Part the Waterveil with whatever ramp target you desire. Though I don't get why you wouldn't desire extra turns; that shit is awesome.


That's my Standard deck, folks. Now if you see me at a tournament, you can be like "This goober is about to cast Kiora, isn't he?" and get your Spell Quellers all sorts of set up. Also, stop playing Bant, I hate you. (JK I love you but I think we need to have a talk)

Enjoy the deck? Think there are better ramp targets? Watched the SCG Open last week and think I just copied this from that U/G Crush dude? Well no, this is clearly different and I made this a while back, but whatever, who cares. No matter what you may want to say, say it by leaving a comment below, or send us a message using the form on the right! You can also find more delicious Heavy Salami on Twitter @Heavy_Salami, and by checking for Dan and Gaige's articles on!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Wizard's Tower: Back to Basics

How the hell is it Wednesday already? Gaige here to tell you that I don't know what day it is or what outside even looks like right now and it feels like I just wrote last weeks article yesterday. Sorry we've been lacking in the article department lately but Dan and I both have been super busy with work. On that note, if you want more content from us, get more people to read this so we can quit our jobs and do this full time. We'll do live streams and show up to GP's and we'll even sign your chest for you. Get your friends to start playing Magic so they can follow us and we will keep entertaining you as a full time gig. And if we can't get that, I will make really spicy Magic memes in trade for chicken.

If you don't know what Wizard's Tower is or you just want a refresher go here to read all about it.

Old-school Wizard's Tower. Fuck, I miss this game. - Dan
Every week we talk about cards that would be good and cards that would be bad in a Tower. On a few occasions we have talked about mechanics and other aspects to help enrich your Tower. Today I want to talk about the fundamentals of Tower building. This probably should have been article number two on this subject matter but hindsight is 20/20. I've never really understood that expression though because I have sighted some hinds that were not a 20/20. Mine is a 12/20 at best.

Like any other deck in Magic, a Wizard's Tower requires play testing. No matter how you build it, either with bulk cards or if you go out and buy pieces, some cards will probably need to change over time. You'll find out what works and what doesn't as you play. The ultimate goal to making an effective and fun Wizard's Tower is to make it difficult for everyone to decide what they want to play as a land each turn. Sometimes someone will draw something and will say "Yeah that's definitely a land" and immediately lay it face down. If that's the case figure out why they were so quick to make it a land. Is it a bad fit or bad at the time? If it's turn 2 and someone draws a 9 cost card they may make it a land because they may not want to hold on to it for that long. Maybe it's a card that just didn't end up being as good or as fun as you thought it would be. Having a handful of cards off to the side that you can swap in is always a good idea. Keep in mind there is a difference between cards that just aren't good and cards that aren't good in that situation. A turn 12 Judge's Familiar will probably become a land but it's still a card you want in the deck. Same thing with a turn 2 or 3 Terastodon, it may get played as a land but that doesn't mean it's not good in the Tower.

Now most of the cards we have talked about in previous articles are 5 CMC cards or higher. This might be obvious but remember to include early game cards too. I think I know what I'll be writing about in future weeks now. Small cards for a big Tower. Title = Done. You will want to find a fair amount of 1 to 3 cost cards that people can play early game. Creatures that draw cards, manipulate the graveyard, or let you scry are always a good starting base for lower CMC creatures. They aren't huge bombs or anything but they give you some fun stuff to do.

When you have enough small things for the early game, then you can start looking at your 5 CMC+ silly cards. There are definitely some low cost silly things but it seems that all the really fun super janky "will never see play in any other format" cards are all 5CMC+. If the small things are the bread of your Tower, then the big things are the butter. Sure you can have just an all bread Tower but it will be really bland and people won't want to play. You can have an all butter Tower but after one session everyone will be throwing up making a goopy buttery mess. When you have the perfect amount of bread and butter though it's like eating a cloud that's nice and warm and will keep you safe and will never betray you. This is where you want your Tower to be. Warm and will never betray you.

Again, getting to where you are happy with it takes time. I can't even tell you how many iterations my Tower has gone through, and I'm still constantly updating it as certain cards seem either too week or two strong. If you have play group that you play with regularly and you play with your Tower regularly (I mean your Wizard's Tower not your weiner) they can all help you figure out what works and what doesn't. Then when you have a Tower you are pretty happy with you can take it to FNM or other Magic events and when you have a by or are in between rounds you can bust it out and everyone can enjoy what is the best format. More times than not no one has heard of this format but when you introduce it to them they'll want to build one too.

So go out my children and build your Tower to the best that it can be so that through it, you can spread the word and let everyone know what is the best Magic format.

Wanna tell us how much of a disappointment this article is? Want to tell us what cards you have taken out? Want to let us know it's time to retire this segment? Leave us a comment or send us a sensual message!