Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tower Sweet Tower

"I heard you were throwing some shade"

Kaladesh has been fully spoiled for almost 2 weeks and the set is about to come out in 2 days. Some of you have gotten your hands on the cards at the pre-release and some of you don't even know how to play Magic yet. Kaladesh has lots of fun and good cards, and LOTS of bad cards that won't see play. Gaige here to give you some ideas on what Kaladesh cards fit into your Wizard's Tower. It is that day of the week and after three or so weeks without, we will touch upon Wizard's Tower Wednesday to give more ideas of Kaladesh cards can fit.

It's been quite some time since we last talked about this format, so if you need a refresher on how this works check out this intro article.

Thopters literally crapping on your dreams

First and foremost, This card is the dopest boardwipe standard has had in a long time. I'm playing a white deck for this card alone. If you aren't playing white then you should feel bad and know that you'll never gain as much life as you could. "But life gain isn't good." Yeah, well tell that to my Felidar Sovereign and Aetherflux Reservoir combo that I'm gonna win with. Exaggerating aside (although I'm not exaggerating at all about how great this is) it is a good card and will probably see play in standard but if you don't need it for anything else or you just have more than you know what to do with, it's also a great boardwipe for Wizard's Tower. Firstly, it's a boardwipe so it's already a good fit on that basis alone, and secondly, it gains you a bunch of life. With Wizard's Tower being a multiplayer format you're sure to gain enough life to either make a comeback or live long enough to get a target painted on you and still be the first one to lose the game.

There is a whole unguarded body they could have stabbed but decided to go through their hand instead

Another card that could be Standard playable but probably won't see pro play is this pseudo boardwipe. It's a multi-creature Bone Splinters. It could be good in a sacrifice matters deck, or a fabricate deck where you have servos that you don't care about. Since it probably won't see any constructed play, slap it in your Tower. If you are far behind, you can sacrifice all your stupid dumb small creatures to get rid of their Terrastadon or their Mageta the Lion, or whatever other spooky creatures they have that you can't compete with. Sadly this is sorcery speed and it's not each opponent so in multiplayer you can only kill as many of your friends creatures as you have. This should still be enough to knock the king off the hill and maybe get you or someone else back in the game. At it's worst it is a very expensive Bone Splinters which is pretty bad. At it's best it's a mediocre boardwipe which is also pretty bad.

How does a mask with more holes than material hide someones face?
Versatility is important. In second grade I had a pen that had three different color inks, a mechanical pencil, an eraser, a stylus, and a laser pointer. I thought I was the coolest kid in the school. By lunch I had some 4th graders take it and write "penis" on every part of my arm that wasn't covered by sleeve. What I'm trying to say is band-aids not only can be used to cover up cuts and scrapes but to also hide 25 instances of the word "penis" written on you. I just told my teacher that I found a cat at recess and I pretended to be a scratching post. She believed me until everyone started calling me "penis arms" for the rest of the year. This card is like those band-aids. It's super versatile and can be used for a lot of fun interaction. If you want to prevent your opponent from playing something, counter it. If you want a good effect or don't want a bad effect from a spell then use this to re-direct it. If some spell is being cast that doesn't target you at all, copy it and choose a new target for silly interaction. No matter the situation this card will help you. It will not stop people from calling you "penis arms" though.

The Kaladesh version of Battlebots

If you were happy that Collected Company is rotating out, don't get too excited yet. We now have this strictly worse, will never see any sort of real play, sharing is caring, version. In a multiplayer game this can be super fun. Pick an opponent who might be a little down on their luck to let them get first dibs on a creature and you get whatever's left. You could get two bomb creatures for 4 mana or you could get two small creature for 4 mana. Maybe you're just having a good day and want to give your friend a babby to hold so you give them one creature and take none of your own because you are a selfless wizard. Any card that shares the wealth with your friends at the table are going to be fun cards and this card seems bad, and like all bad cards is a perfect fit.

The "Grand Exhibition" is also what my high school called my spring musical wardrobe malfunction
Sometimes bad things happen to you and you just want to start fresh. Sometimes in that process you want to hurt people. Maybe someone told you that you looked like you play Magic so you burned down their house and had to move to another state. Maybe someone beat you with a Standard deck against your Legacy deck so in retaliation you threw their Exodia off of the boat you were one. This card perfectly encompasses those feelings. You get to do damage to a creature or a player directly and then you get a new hand. In Wizard's Tower you have no idea what you're going to get so you could get MUCH better cards or you could get cards so bad that you just give up playing Magic altogether. It's a toss up, but that's what makes this card so fun. 8 out of 10 dentists recommend this card in your Wizard's Tower. The other two think you don't floss enough.

Well we had some good times today. We looked at other Kaladesh cards that would be fun in a Wizard's Tower after not talking about this beautiful format for a couple weeks. Again, this is no longer a weekly article but we will still talk about things from time to time as we find sets of cards or themes to try out in your Wizard's Tower. One day I may go through and log what exactly is in mine so you can get an idea of what a fun and fairly balanced Wizard's Tower looks like. Thanks again for tuning in, I miss you already.

Missed Wizard's Tower Wednesday? Wish Wizard's Tower Wednesday would stay buried? Want to share your terrible childhood nicknames with us? Send us a message or leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Farewell to Dragon's Standard

This is a man who went out of his way to capture this

With less than a week until Dragon's rotates out I thought I would talk about my favorite Dragon's cards and show you the deck I've been running this standard so you can run it this last week. It might be a little late to talk about this but they don't call me "Too Late Shaughnessy" for nothing. "Nobody calls you that." That's why I said they don't call me "Too Late Shaughnessy." Now let me tell you about one of the most mediocre and my favorite rare of Dragons.

Goodnight sweet prince

I pulled this as a foil in my Dragon's pre-release and used it in combination with my promo Profaner of the Dead and it was love at first ETB. I just threw Mirror Mockery on Profaner and then when I swung I had a Profaner token ETB that I would sac to itself to return all of their board to their hand. I just repeated this until I won. It was at that moment that I realized how mediocre this card was but I was going to force it into a deck until I made it work. It wasn't until Innistrad that it was able to reach it's true potential.

Here is the full deck list.

If I had to describe this deck in one word it would be: 'Strictly worse mono-white humans' "That's more than one word" Well I was never good at math, or English for that matter. I'm also not very good at Magic and yet with everything against me here I am telling you how to play the most fun deck.

The premise is fairly simple. It's ETB humans where you either overrun them or you get Thalia's Lieutenant so big that no one can do anything about it. Everything other than Avacyn in your deck is a human and everything other than Jace and Kytheon are ETB effects. Why would you play Mirror Mockery? To get things out of control and to watch your opponents face as they read the card and realize what you are about to do.

Don't mind me. I'm just putting a good card in a bad deck

Here is a typical game. Turn one ideally you get to play either Kytheon or Thraben inspector. You now have a 2/1 or a clue with a early game "fat" butt. On your opponents turn they'll play a land and maybe a 1 drop like Oath of Nissa or something else dumb but we don't care because things are going to get bad for them real quick. On your second turn if you have the opening, swing in for a free damage or two and then play one of your ten 2 cost creatures that you should have at this point. Play Jace, or Thalia's Lieutenant, or maybe another Thraben Inspector. Hold off on that Knight of the White Orchid though because you want to get that free land out of it. Let's say things were Ideal and you play Thalia's Lieutenant turn two and maybe get in another free two or three damage. If your opponent is playing something with kill spells they'll probably focus Kytheon, and that's okay because he's really just a target so that your lieutenant lives. If Kytheon happens to live, great! If not, we don't really care about him because Ajani is the better white planeswalker anyways.

Turn three you have three mana so you can play either Reflector Mage or Lantern Scout based on what you have and how much life you have if you're playing against burn or aggro. We'll say you play Reflector Mage and bounce a dude they have triggering Thalia's Lieutenant and making it swoll-er. Let your opponent go, ignore what they do because it probably doesn't matter and the go to turn 4.

It's time for this mirror to What do mirrors do? Play Mirror Mockery on Thalia's Lieutenant. Now when you swing in you get a token of Thalia's Lieutenant onto the battlefield. It doesn't have haste so it can't attack but two triggers happen. First the token Lieutenant puts a +1/+1 counter on every human you have on the battlefield, once that resolves, then your non-token Lieutenant gets an additional +1/+1 counter for another human entering the battlefield. So all humans on your board get one counter and your Thalia gets two. Now sit back and repeat until you win. Every time Thalia's Lieutenant attacks all your humans get a counter and your attacking Lieutenant gets two counters. Remember as well, this all happens before blocks so if they don't have combat tricks, you can swing in to make your dude bigger than their blockers during the attack step. Now if you do this enough you win.

This is the opposite of beautiful flexibility
Here is some beautiful flexibility about the deck.

At least there are no spooky things on Kaladesh

Always Watching is not a budget card but I happened to have enough to fill this deck. Same thing with Jace. So before you go thinking that I eat food other than ice cubes and ramen flavor packets because I'm some fat cat Magic player, I'm not. I'm just lucky. Sometimes. Only opening packs. When I'm in a clutch situation and need a lucky draw to turn the game around my luck takes a turn for the worse and I end up drawing a Pokemon card somehow. Oh well. Always watching is the fuel to your mirror-y fire since every time you attack you get bonus lieutenants. Now when you attack you also have a giant blocker since your creatures don't tap. Also use this card to embarrass your opponent when you poke them for 1 with your Jace and then flip it in Main 2 to get a planeswalker.

Worst magic trick ever

Another fun tactic is to put Mirror Mockery on Reflector Mage. Rather than let your creatures get big (or maybe while your creatures get big, you are running 4 Mirror Mockerys) you swing in with a mirror mocked Reflector Mage and every time he attacks, you get to return one of their creature to their hand. I had one time where I put three Mirror Mockery's on my Reflector Mage and swung in and bounced three of his creatures all while buffing my Thalia's Lieutenants three times. I still have wet dreams about that moment and now you can too for the low low price of only $1.99!

Let's put the least well equipped person up front

Other good creatures to put Mirror Mockery on are Lantern Scout and Avacyn. Want your team to have lifelink every turn? I bet you do. Gain gobs of life as your opponent wets himself with how inadequate his life gain feels. If that's not good enough for you, maybe you want your team to have indestructible every turn. Well slap that aura on Avacyn and just swing away with not a care in the world. Playing aggro? Sideboard in Linvala so every time she attacks you gain 5 life or get a 3/3 angle if you're behind in either life or creatures. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS. Just slam down Mirror Mockery, let your opponent read the card, and then let them concede to you.

Something about a swan head on a horse body makes me really uncomfortable

An important staple is Gryff's Boon. Since your deck is based around attacking a board lock can stop you from moving forward. Use Gryff's Boon on whatever creature is gonna have some silly ETB mirror triggers so that you can swing over top and get those needed +1/+1 counters or reflect their creatures. Throw it on Lantern Scout so you can constantly give all your creatures lifelink without having to worry about losing your lifelink machine.

My soul is up and slightly to the left

A card that seems like an odd choice but is incredible in almost all situations is Center Soul. You have creatures you don't want dead. We all do. Most people have counter spells but you don't. You could because you're playing blue in this deck, but 3 cost is too much and having situational stipulations on your counterspell seems bad. Anytime someone tries to get rid of your giant Thalia's Lieutenant or your decked out Reflect-out Mage or your Lantern Scout that is soaring through the air, just keep them alive with center soul. No one expects it, ever. The other upside, is with rebound you can cast it again for free on your upkeep. Does it protect your creatures at upkeep? Maybe, if it resolves. What you can use it for though, is free damage. Give your creature protection from whatever color creatures they have and your guy gets in free damage. If you don't have Gryff's Boon and want to swing in for that extra umph, this card will get you there.

Wizard's giving you dating advice in the flavor text

Disperse also seems like a weird choice, but it has it's uses and anytime I've had it in hand it's been effective. It's main purpose is to save you a mirror mockery if they board wipe you or kill your creature when you don't have a Center Soul, but I've also used it to give myself another ETB trigger or save a creature of mine. I've also used it to prevent their planeswalker from ulting and setting them back a turn since they now have to recast that planeswalker. You might tell me there are better cards and I will tell you that you're wrong. Now that doesn't make me correct, but I'll still tell you you're wrong.

As far as lands go for this, do whatever you want. In my version I got my white and blue lands in there and then kind of just slapped utility lands in there I had lying around. Sea Gate Wreckage is great for when you run out of momentum and want to draw an extra card a turn to help get you grab more creatures or more mirrors. Westvale Abbey produces human tokens so Thalia's Lieutenant triggers off of creating them. Mirrorpool is in there almost exclusively just because I had a shiny one and it seemed decent. I mostly use it for colorless mana for Sea Gate Wreckage, but I have used it to copy Center Soul and another time to create an extra Reflector Mage so it stays in there. The Battlefield Forge and Yavimaya Coast are also in there just as a blue and white source that can tap for colorless. They take up a "basic land" slot. I'm sure the land could be done better but I kind of just crammed stuff together and it seems to work but let's be honest, if we're gonna talk about things needing to be better, we could say that about this whole deck.

Well at a minimum, like most of my decks, it's not great, it's almost competitive, and it's super fun to play. It's not a combo deck by any means but there is non-stop card interaction and that's what makes this deck so fun to play. That's really all I have going for me as a deck smith is I can craft "almost competitive but fun to play" decks. With the Kaladesh rotation of cards and more silly things to do, I will have more fun decks for you soon, but I just need to get my hands on the cards and I need test them to make sure they are actually worth your time.

Sorry about the lack of content lately but Dan and I have been super busy. We will be getting more stuff to you soon and if you need more from team Heavy Salami, check our twitter for quips that we wrote when we were drinking that seemed funny at the time but probably aren't.

Want more meaty content? Have you tried something similar to this and made a better version? Want help with your existential crisis? Send us a message or leave a comment!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Magic Origins - Junior Varsity

Confused as to why we started with Origins and skipped DTK? Well, we didn't. Check out the Dragons of Tarkir Junior Varisty post by clicking these words!

Jace was definitely not Varsity. Look at that dork get bullied by those gingers.
My fellow gentlenerds, hello. It's Dan, and I'm here packin' a high-quality shitpost. Today we're going to take a look at the other set rotating out of Standard along with DTK - Magic Origins - and check out a certain subset of cards from it.

We all know the feeling. It's spoiler season. A new card is spoiled. You click on the link, it sends you to some shitty blog with 400 ads on every available piece of real estate, your computer freezes, you swear as you exit your browser, re-open it, and then click on the Reddit comments and hope someone gave you an Imgur link. You find it, and it's in Japanese. You keep looking, and like seven hundred miles from the top of the thread someone typed up the text. It's a red card! Your favorite color! And it looks like it's going to be great!

Scratch that, it looks amazing! You pre-order a dozen for an absurd price, and fist pump now that you for sure have a ton of awesome cards coming. The full set drops, you make a deck, and the card blows. Womp womp. Every new set that comes in, you try to jam this card, but it still sucks. The time finally comes for the set to rotate out, and your sick over-hyped bomb card turns out to be a dud. The card has officially qualified to be Junior Varsity.

I still don't regret it.
Every set inevitably has a pile of these cards. When spoiled, hundreds of nerds breath through their mouths even more loudly in anticipation, yet nothing comes of it. Magic Origins is no exception. There were a handful of cards that people were stoked about that in the long run ended up being disappointing bulk.

On the other hand, though, Magic Origins had some mad hotness. Even tons of cards that were thought to be flops at first, such as Day's Undoing and The Great Aurora, ended up landing in some Standard decks that had some decent results. The five top JV cards were difficult for me to pick, and not just because I'm drunk right now, but because there really weren't all that many powerful cards that didn't get played.

But don't worry. I persevered. I grabbed me another Busch Light and dug down, and found five cards that didn't get much action, despite everyone wanting to get active with them during spoiler season. So let's batten down the hatches (whatever that means - I'm not a boat) and get to it.

Heralding nothing but disappointment:

In her off-time she's a member of Theros University's Color guard.
Phew, finally. Just as all of this alleged enchantment-matters crap in the Theros block gets ready to rotate, Herald shows up so that we can make a real enchantment deck. This lovely horselady was all a dedicated enchantment deck needed to push it over the edge. She ramps you up, gets you life to stabilize, and is a nice little 2/2 for your trouble. What went wrong?

Well, first off, this card was printed during the dark days of our Rhino Overlord.

Is there anything that this card didn't ruin?
This standard was very powerful, and a 2/2 that didn't immediately do something crazy just wasn't a good card. On top of that, with Dromoka's Command in the mix, enchantments weren't particularly powerful. Drom-com was already poised to be an insane card with three of the modes, so they figured "fuck it, might as well go all in," and they had it totally hose enchantment strategies as well.

Now, granted, Herald saw some fringe play, and there were some fun times to be had with her and Eidolon of Blossoms and Sigil of the Empty throne, but it never got much past FNM jank level. Soon after, Theros rotated, and took with it a majority of the great enchantments. She remains a $0.50 rare, so if you want to build a casual deck focused around enchantments, she's a great cheap card to include.

Gorging himself on over-inflated pre-order prices:

Three heads is perfect artistic representation, cause one he hit three power that's usually when he died.
Gorgeous over here started out not too expensive, but kept a fairly steady price throughout his existence. It was safe to assume when he came out that he was a total wombo-combo with Hardened Scales, so naturally everyone wanted to try. And try they did. And fail they did.

Well, that's not entirely fair. Gorger saw sideboard play against decks without a lot of removal. He was definitely played casually in jank decks, and people had some success with him and Hardened Scales. I am some people, for example. Abzan Charm really made Gorger sad though. As long as he was under three power, he wasn't a threat, and then once he started to get any sorts of scary, he just got exiled right away. There was also Valorous Stance, and any sort of exile effect (even temporary ones, like Banishing Light) totally crushed him.

Ah well. You win some, you lose some. Unless you're on team Heavy Salami, and then you just lose 'em all. Managorger belongs on our team. After rotation I can't see him ever costing more than a buck, so pick him up if you have some copies of Hardened Scales looking for some friends.

Four abilities, zero hope:

Look how pissed she is that she was left on the bench.
In theory, Disciple does a lot. It can counter removal, it can pump itself, and then it can tap or untap whatever critter you see fit, all of the low price of one mana and exiling an instant or sorcery from your graveyard. Being able to counter and pump herself definitely makes her a difficult to remove threat, and the need for plenty of instants and sorceries makes her perfect for a control deck.

Unless, of course, you are interested in playing her on curve. She comes down as an embarrassing 3/4 for five with no abilities if you don't have the extra mana available. Even if you wait until turn six, your opponent then has even more mana to try and fight through the tax you could make them pay on removal. Not to mention she just dies to Languish if you don't have mana to pump her.

Obviously, she didn't do a lot. I forgot she was a card if I'm gonna be honest. But for only $1.50, maybe I'll pick up a copy to toss in my U/R Spells commander deck. Or maybe I won't. I probably won't cause I'm lazy. But you know, if I did want one, that's where I'd put it!

Standard was not a good habitat for Fish:

Him and Kiora should get together for some tentacular shenanigans.
Harbinger is a powerful card. A 2/2 for two is an ok baseline, and when Theros was in Standard, the devotion was relevant as well. He has a nice enter the battlefield effect that can secure your lead in a racing situation, which is something quite a few blue decks are interested in, and on top of that, his alternate cast mode makes him very relevant late game. At his release he had a fairly hefty price tag, and plenty of people expected him to do work.

But as it turns out, bouncing a 4/5 trample that has an insane enter the battlefield effect isn't a great spot to be. Once again the sudden boom in the Rhino population held this card back. In addition, for most of his time in Standard, the meta favored three or more colored decks. Not good news for a two drop that costs UU.

Fish dude did manage to make his way into non-rotating formats, though! Modern Fish (and occasionally Legacy) lists run a few of him, since when he's paired with other strong tribal synergies in an already powerful tempo deck, he is a force to be reckoned with. Right now he costs less than a buck, so if you're working on a blue tempo deck, or at some point plan on buying into an old school Merfolk deck, pick up a copy or two of this wizard.

He can increase the price of spells, but can't increase how much he's played:

Flying into our bulk bin.
Any sort of effect that taxes opponents can end up being wicked inconvenient. When paired with a few other cards that cause minor annoyances, they make the game damn near impossible for your opponent to play, and then you slowly kill them with shitty creatures. A 2/1 flying for three is definitely a shitty creature, and his powerful taxing element makes the game a headache for whomever you're playing against.

But the horse from Vryn had no one to help him out. He was the only real taxing type spell available, and just a one-off increase to the cost of non-creature spells didn't really hamper any competitive deck. So much of standard has been based on pushed ahead-of-curve creatures throughout the past few sets that there wasn't much point to running such a sub-par critter, even if he did screw with non-creature spells. Even control decks run a healthy amount of creatures, and if they were set back a turn on a Planeswalker, they could easily use up their mana on Kalitas, Jace, or one of the Dragonlords.

There were dreams for this card in Legacy Death and Taxes, and I dunno, maybe it's played there. I don't think so, since Thalia is still a thing, but I don't keep up with the Legacy meta because I can only comprehend a format with a few hundred cards in it. But, if you want to make a deck that just annoys your opponent, this horse is only $0.50, so pick up a pile and laugh as your friends look at their hand full of sorceries and weep.


Well peeps, that sums up the two sets rotating! I hope you all enjoyed this rotation's Junior Varsity posts. I can't wait to play with all the dope new Kaladesh cards, and I hope you guys are ready to drift into a new Standard. I'm almost positive I've already pre-ordered some cards that in a year or so I'll be writing a Junior Varsity article about. What can I say - I love a good underdog story. Also I'm terrible at card evaluation.

Expect a lot of posts about Kaladesh coming up! Tips for Two-Headed Giant sealed, a slew of budget Standard decks we'll be making, and which cards are prettiest are just a few of the topics we have coming down the chute. Until next time, friends.

Gonna miss Origins? Was one of these cards much more doper than I gave it credit for? Have you ever ate six donuts in one sitting? Well I just did, so send us a message or leave a comment below if you are just as disgusting as I. As always, follows us on Twitter @Heavy_Salami for dank memes and updates from Team Heavy Salami.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Dragons of Tarkir - Junior Varsity

Wanna check out the rest of the Tarkir block JV posts? Click here for Khans, or click here for Fate Reforged!

I'm sure he'll see play one day, right?
HEY, it's Dan. It's definitely spoiler season guys. The symptoms are all there - I've been checking my bank account balance so I can excessively pre-order shit, and I refresh the MTG subreddit regularly around noon. Each night I gently weep as I tuck away old Standard cards, and sometimes I get thoroughly aroused when I remember Collected Company won't be cast against me anymore. Mmm, delicious. My favorite weeks.

Tarkir was the shiny new block when I started playing MTG seriously, so with this upcoming rotation making me say goodbye to the last set from the block, I'm extra sad. Though Khans itself is most remembered from that block, Dragons of Tarkir was the tail end of it, and the set threw a whole bunch of sexy playables at us. I mean, check it:
  • The five Dragonlords, each awesome characters, saw play in a variety of decks and strategies.
  • We got the command cycle, and all of those were big on the scene, though some clans had it a bit better than others.
  • There's the value-packed Den Protector/Deathmist Raptor combo that terrorized Standard for a while
  • As much as I hate it, Collected Company showed up here, and that's made a splash in every format it touched.
  • Wandering Tombshell made us shed a tear for everyone's favorite durdler #NeverForget #MeanderIntoMyHeart
And there's way more than that. Secure the Wastes, Anafenza, Foul-Tongue Invocation, Thunderbreak Regent, Lightning Beserker, and who knows how many more cards that I'm just forgetting or have mentally blocked out due to trauma from repeated losses. The set, though initially not received too well in comparison to Khans of Tarkir and the insane bombs in Fate Reforged, ended up having a ton of goodies in it.

But not every sweet card in DTK ended up under the spotlight. You know what they say - if nobody is ugly, than nobody is beautiful. Magic cards sort of work like that, I guess. We need some shitty cards to offset the not-shitty cards. Then there's some cards that look like they aren't covered in shit but then you get closer and you can tell that something is up and maybe they're a little poopy. You know what I mean, right? Sure you do. Well, these cards are the Junior Varsity of Dragons of Tarkir.

These are the cards that were spoiled long ago, and the comments on each of them are so adorably optimistic. 

Clearly this is the card that Seige Rhino needed in order to be playable.
Yet sadly, they bailed off the hype wave. So much potential, but it all went so wrong.

We're going to take a look at the worst offenders from Dragons of Tarkir. All of these stinkers are cards that had a fair bit of hype, everyone was wicked stoked to play them, and here we are like a year or so later still waiting for them to be good. Some of these cards I've forced into decks, and it went just as poorly as you'd expect. So without further ado, let's wave goodbye to our old friends, and check out the Dragons of Tarkir cards that didn't quite make it.

In last amongst losers:

Literally a wave of hype.
After playing against it once or twice, I didn't think Shorecrasher seemed that good when he first came out, and... well, turns out he's still not good. When he was first spoiled, many people naturally assumed he would put Mono-blue Devotion back on the map. Three blue blips in his casting cost gives you plenty of devotion, and he was a great turn three play to set up for an asston of Master of Waves tokens. Even beyond that, look at all the text up on this bitch. He dodges removal, he can get pumped... what can't he do?

Win games, it turns out. He's not great at that. The cards in Khans were just so powerful that Esper Dragons and Abzan... anything, I guess, were able to handle any resurgence that mono blue happened to have. Shorecrasher ended up doing a bunch of nothing, and then once Theros rotated out, blue-based control took a nosedive for five color nonsense, so Shorecrasher never found himself a home.

But there's good news! Elementals are actually a fairly well supported tribe. If you're looking for a fun casual deck to have on hand, Shorecrasher is only $1.50 at most right now, and after rotation he will almost certainly flatline to become a $1 mythic. Pick up a few and get to crashin'!

Slightly better, but still should be ashamed of herself:

Even she couldn't tutor up a playable desklist.
Sidisi is objectively a strong card. A 4/6 deathtouch for five isn't easy to fight through, and her exploit ability had some crazy value attached. Sacrificing a token - or ideally something that wanted to explode like a Hangarback Walker - was just excellent, and she let you grab anything you desired. Well, except for game wins. Sidisi was Sidecent, but ended up not making it into many decks. Why did this fat butt naga not see any play?

In Magic Origins, right after Sidisi was printed, they also gave us Dank Petition. It doesn't have a huge deathtouch body attached to it, sure, but not needing another creature to get max value from the card was a big deal, and then Spell Mastery allowed you to actually play some spells the turn you tutored for them. In a format with two tutors, why not just play the better one?

Sidisi is, as you'd expect, fairly cheap. She's only $2.50 or so right now, and will more than likely drop to bulk status after rotation. For the few weeks we have left, she can still do some work in Standard, but after that she fits nicely into any casual deck that is interested in sacrificing things without sacrificing your wallet.

Resolutely holding the middle of the shitty pack:

I just now realized that in his art he is really, really big.
Ok, so to start, a 3/2 for only two mana is dope. Limited allstar, baby. Having the cost be double green is fuckin' whatever, cause green is one of the best colors for poopin' counters onto everything, which Avatar is all about. Even without counters, a 3/2 trample and reach, despite being a weird combo of keywords, is quite strong. When this card was first spoiled I remember definitive talk about its modern implications due to the strength of the multiple keywords, high power, and low cost.

Though back here in real life, Avatar did... nothing? Yeah. Nothing. Why even bother with a 3/2 that can maybe be stronger in a world of 2/3's that accidentally get gigantic and also just give you random buffs as you play a normal game of Magic?

This card is fun, balanced, and interesting.
Avatar seems like he could have been a very strong card in the right world. Sadly in this glum real world, there was always a better option. When he was first in Standard, we had cards like Elvish Mystic (RIP) turn one, so turn two we were often doing broken things like playing Anafenza the Foremost or whatever the most busted three-cost green card was, and then later in his career there were just straight up better two-drops.

Oddly enough, Avatar is still an insanely strong card if you can set it up. Play any sort of casual token deck with plenty of +1/+1 counters and you'll see that quickly enough. Dropping a two mana 7/6 trample reach feels pretty fuckin' good, and I highly recommend trying it on for size at some point, especially when this baller costs only $0.50.

Not even close to living up to her pre-release hype:

A four drop walker that starts at six? Pack it up kids, best card ever has been printed. We can retire all the other ones, nothing will top Narset.

Or, as we all know now, she's fairly mediocre. Narset would thrive in a creatureless control deck, where her +1 is basically "Flip a coin. If heads, draw a card." Her minus is great in a lot of decks, but the problem was that she was quite bad in any deck with more than just a handful of dudes. And what was the control deck of choice at the time? Why, Esper Dragons of course. Or I guess Abzan, cause it could agro, midrange, or control better than everything cause fuck Abzan.

Uh, anyways, Esper Dragons. It was a control deck, but it did run creatures, such as... Dragons. Surprise! Then once Origins came out, Jace and sometimes Hangarback Walker found their way into the list, further diluting the non-creature count, and making Narset super sad.

With Shadows over Innistrad, Esper saw a bit of a resurgence in Pro Tour Shadows of Innistrad, and one of the lists in the top 8 was essentially creatureless, and used Narset. Hooray! But, sadly, the deck never really caught on.

Narset's whopping $50  pre-order dropped all the way down to a measly $6. Once rotation happens, I'd expect that to drop even more, and then you'll be able to pick up copies on the cheap for whatever creatureless shenanigans your heart desires.

And in First out of the Worst:

Man, Temur just can't get a break.
Sarkhan is pricey in the mana department, and has a lot of colors in his cost, but oh boy does he deliver. Drawing a card and then  adding a mana both ramps and fixes you for whatever card you happen to draw, his minus gets a huge blocker/attacker that's on theme with any dragon deck, and then his ult who cares cause planeswalker ults don't really matter. Surely the combination of the lot is enough to make a reasonable planeswalker. But nope, Sarkhan's name rings true, he most definitely is not broken.

Keeping with the Tarkir block tradition, the only Temur card (and the only three-color card) printed in Dragons of Tarkir was hot garbage. Throughout his entire Standard lifetime, Sarkhan hardly saw play even in fringe decks. For a short while, a few people tried him out in four or five color decks that were jamming a ton of Dragonlords and Thunderbreak Regents, but he was still not the best. I've been playing a janky Temur midrange list for the past few weeks, and I can indeed confirm, Sarkhan is shit.

He started off fairly pricey, but rapidly dropped off once people actually played with him. Nowadays you can find him for less than the cost of a McDonald's happy meal. He tastes about the same, too. I'd expect him to drop another few bucks at rotation, and then you can pick up a copy for all your casual dragon-y needs.


That's it, folks. With this last set leaving, we can say goodbye to the world of Tarkir, and start looking forward to the sexy machines of Kaladesh. And look forward to it I shall. If you play against me this next Standard, expect me to put a pile of thopters in a car and beat your face in with it.

Be sure to keep an eye on the Bloggo the next week as well. Of course we have the Magic Origins Junior Varsity article coming up, but also expect us to talk about Kaladesh a whole  lot. The set looks like a bucket of fun, it has spiffy colorful art that's a nice change from Innistrad's doom and gloom, and several cards already seem outrageously powerful. Incidentally, I'm willing to trade for any Chandra, the Mind Sculptors you guys open at Pre-release.

Think there were cards that deserved these rewards more? Think one of the cards on this list was actually good? Wanna talk about how awesome vehicles are? Whatever the case, leave a comment or send us a message! And as always, you can find us on Twitter @Heavy_Salami, and on MTGO and like everything else Magic related as some sort of Heavy Salami name.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Return of Wizard's Tower Wednesday

Well it was really never gone, I just got a combination of lazy and caught up in work and hadn't written anything. Hello buckaroos, Gaige here to throw some more stupid ideas at you. Kaladesh is in the early stages of spoiler season and everything about it looks awesome. Wizards must love me but hate my bank account because they want it to be zero. Check out Mythic Spoiler to see everything that has been spoiled so far if you haven't seen any of it yet.

Also check here if you're new to this and haven't yet heard about the best format in Magic.

Despite not everything spoiled, there is enough of Kaladesh available to give you some ideas of what to use in your Tower once you start opening boosters and have cards you don't know what to do with. There are so many fun new mechanics and cards in Kaladesh I'm having a rough time containing my excitement. That's why I don't contain it. Every now and then I'll run a victory lap around the office with a giant Wizard's of the Coast flag behind me.

Don't let their fancy words fool you, it's just a water tower
Let's start with the card that is not only the featured picture but also actually a tower. It seems appropriate although I thought that tending to my bees naked seemed appropriate but now I basically pee honey. This card is perfect for Wizard's Tower. It's silly but also functional. Every time you play a spell you get a life for every spell you played. You as a player also have an ultimate in case you get to 50+ life and want some creature VERY dead. Everyone will tell you this card is bad but I'm here to tell you that you're looking at my new standard deck. It's also hard to deal with because artifacts are generally hard to remove right until that exact moment that someone gets a perfect draw and you lose the game. Fuck you Kevin.

I will now make this jar disappear. SCIENCE!
Although you can't use this to get any lands back to play them as something else, you can keep your non land permanents safe from removal. Image having your whole board dodge a board wipe only to also draw that many cards. From here the possibilities are endless. We both know even with endless possibilities though you'll just play a land, play two of the creatures that you bounced, then discard down to seven but hey, nothing died this turn right? Oh look your other opponent had a board wipe too. Well you tried. At least you got to draw some cards.

Started from the Aether now I'm here

I would like to be a lord of luxury but here I am just an enthusiast of meats and Magic. Although there isn't an "opponents deck" to target, this still does some stuff for you. You yourself can feel like the lord of luxury as you look at the top four cards of the Tower and pick one that you want to play. Oddly some of this card's effectiveness is actually lost in Wizard's Tower but a 2/3 for 4 with deathtouch and deck manipulation. It's a good midrange card that is playable and fun but not super over-the-top-player-flips-the-table-because-this-was-the-last-straw-and-they-hate-you-and-are-only-playing-maigc-with-you-because-you-don't-have-friends-and-they-feel-bad-for-you.

Beep Beep Mother Fucker
New to Kaladesh and an awesome addition is vehicles. They have cars and boats and skyships and I'm still waiting on trains and a Da Vinci helicopter. You just put your little creatures inside the vehicles and vroom vroom all over your opponents face. These are a super fun addition to Magic and with enough of these in your Tower you can just name it 250 car pileup. They are interesting mechanically and all vehicles seem pretty fun to play. They also don't require any outside resources other than other creatures so they fit in just about any format. This one in particular is a cartifact that enters as a 5/3 trample haste and can be turned into a 5/3 trample haste every turn if you decide to crew it with creatures. Me? I'm just a collector of vintage vehicles so this will sit on the battlefield for everyone to look at but no one is allowed to drive it.

So it's been some time since our last Wizard Tower Wednesday and Kaladesh seemed like a great returning point. The Wizard Tower feature is no longer going to be done every week but will be done probably every other week or when some new set or mechanic is announced just to keep things fresh. This also gives us more room to write other more interesting articles on Wednesdays. We're hoping to get some other things in the works and in the mean time check us out at GP Louisville this weekend. We'll be wearing shirts repping the salami and we'll have stickers for everyone. Until that time, stay safe and don't get involved in road rage because I hear Kaladeshians have magic and all you have is a tire iron.

Hate that WtW is back? Are you also waiting for trains in Kaladesh? Have you ever wondered if you're actually just an NPC in someone elses dream? Leave a comment or send us a message with all of your existential questions!

Friday, September 02, 2016

So, you want to go to FNM...

Look, they even have snacks.
Hey little gooblers, it's Dan. Sorry I haven't typed words in a hot second; I recently made a new character in Old School Runescape, so I don't do much besides eat trout and kill barbarians these days. But I still dabble in some good old fashion wizard duelin', and have attended several FNMs, which is what I'd like to briefly talk about today.

Ah, FNM, the pinnacle of casual, fun MTG. A low-cost low-pressure mini tournament right in your hometown once or twice a week. If you've been playing for any appreciable amount of time, you've probably heard people talk about FNM and know about it, even if you haven't personally went. FNM - Friday Night Magic - can be a variety of different formats, such as Standard, Draft, or Modern, and usually lasts for four or five hours on a Friday night. Most places charge $5 or so for entry, or $15 for draft, and it's a good way to spend the night so us lonely nerds are less lonely.

"But I've only played casually with my friends! I dunno if I'm ready. Plus Friday is my 'eat a tub of ice cream alone in my bathtub as I listen to Dido' day." First off, you should see a therapist. Secondly, you're totes ready. Everyone is ready for FNM. Will you win? Maybe not. Will you learn a lot about how to play Magic, meet some cool peeps, and earn a crippling addiction to competitive Magic? More than likely. So how do you get ready for FNM?

Don't worry, I'll be back for you, my love.


Draft is one of the preferred FNM formats for newer players. Why? Well, with draft, you sort of level out the playing field by making everyone draw from the same pool of cards. If your collection isn't so big, and your standard deck isn't up to par, Draft is a good way to build your collection and get practice at Magic and have funsies.

I'm not going to go over the rules and such for Draft, or how to draft (there are tons of articles and stuff everywhere on this), but I would like to give you some tips to prepare for FNM. So you're going to draft. Besides skittles and mountain dew, you need need a few things. A life counter die, or a pad or paper to keep track of life on, is necessary. You may also want to bring some sleeves just in case you open up a valuable card you want to play with. Sleeves will also be available at the game store, along with dice, so you can always pick all of that up when you show up.

Although the purpose of this article is to encourage you to go to FNM, Draft is also a great format to do at home with your friends, and there are tons of variations of it, such as our personal favorite, the Mulligan Draft.


Step 1: Get used to seeing this card.
Standard is naturally one of the first draws for players starting to get into constructed. The card pool is much smaller than a format like Modern, so it's a lot easier to become familiar with the format. Standard only consists of recent sets as well, and if you just started playing, you probably only know the newest cards, so why not start here?

Standard isn't an event that you can just show up for without any preparation like Draft is. You need a pre-constructed 60 card deck, something to keep track of life with, and maybe some cheetos. I wouldn't expect to win much, if at all, at your first Standard event. I definitely didn't. I mean, I still don't, but whatever. You'll probably play against people with well-honed decks who are familiar with the format.

BUT, there are plenty of people who bring janky fun decks (like us), so you'll still have a chance for some good Magic even if your deck isn't perfect. Besides, how are you going to get better without getting your ass kicked a bunch first? If you're looking for ideas of what to play, check around the different articles on our blog! We're always posting deck techs of our fun Standard decks, and a ton of them can be put together on a budget.


I dunno much about Modern, but I feel like this card is important.
I dunno, I've never played Modern at a FNM. Or anywhere, for that matter, though I do plan on trying it out sometime in the near future. It's a constructed format like Standard, but boasts a much bigger card pool. I would get more familiar with the game before trying to hop into Modern events.

Ok, so that was brief. The point is, go to FNM. You will get a ton of experience playing, and meet more people to play with. When I traveled all the time for work, I'd just pop into whatever LGS was closest to my hotel on Friday, and I'd always have a great time. That's even how we met a lot of our friends, including the people at the dopest game store alive, Forbes Hobbies in Cambridge, Ontario. (Psst if you're ever near there, go there, and tell Jeremy that the dirty Americans Dan and Gaige sent you)

Go to FNM, become a part of the community, and play on, nerds.