Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Be the Commander of Your Tower

They call me Admiral Fridge Unicorn because I'm fresh and magical

So the Commander product came out some weeks ago and I'm super late to party on this, but let's talk about the commanders as they might fit into Wizard's Tower. We could talk about how cool the new four color commanders are because they are four colors and they are cool, but I'm so under-qualified to talk about Commander. "Don't you mean unqualified?" Well probably that too, but I feel like I'm right on the verge of qualifications. I just need to pass my Commander test which consists of building a non-shit Commander deck. It's going to be a long time before I pass though because I just built Book Tribal which you can check out here. But let's get back to the format that matters: Wizard's Tower! If you're wondering why you would put one of the five Commanders in your Tower rather than actually play it as a Commander well let me answer your question with another question: Why do they think they give you and oversized Commander in addition to a regular size one? So the regular one can go in your Tower. I know this because Wizard's is my dad.

It's been some time so just in case you forgot what Wizard's Tower is or wondered over here and have never heard of this format, check out our introduction article

The biggest issue with four color cards is that they have better effects at a 4 CMC with the downside being you might struggle to get all four colors. In other games you also may miss land drops potentially making these cards more difficult to play. That is not the case in Wizard's tower. You have all colors you ever need, and you will only miss a land drop if you choose to do so. This means that 4 color cards (as few as there may be) can be a difficult fit in this format.

We'll start with the best and most fitting commander for Wizard's Tower. This one is an obvious yes and should be put in your Wizard's Tower yesterday.

"I thought you said the statues were big. I don't see them" "You're not even looking in the right place."
 So even before effects, this card is a 2/8 for 4 with no keywords which makes this card annoying but not broken at 4 cost. You probably won't be able to swing at anybody who has this on the field, but this also probably won't do a whole lot of damage to you. Now once you add the group hug effect that this has, it still doesn't make this card broken. Everyone benefits from it's ability so people may not even want this off the board. Whoever controls it gets a bonus because they get the card draw and extra land but even opponents at least get one. It will be difficult to get damage through with this on board but most removal will get rid of this easily and it won't give you any advantages that are too out of control. So does this go in? Verdict: Yes.

"Are you eating enough? You're all skin and etherium!" - Breya's Grandma...probably
Whether this card is okay or not to put in your Tower is a little dependent on what else is in your tower. If you have a normal Tower with just a combination of cards that seem fun then this card will be an okay addition. If you decided to theme out your Tower and did an artifact theme, this card is too good. A 4/4 for 4 with two 1/1 fliers is pretty good, but again is manageable for your opponents. Add in the pay 2 sacrifice 2 effect and that makes her better but if all you have is the two thopters then you're just trading two creatures for some other benefit. Whoever controls this may also control more artifacts at some point that they can use as fuel to get the etherium fire burning, but unless you have an artifact heavy tower you should be fine. This is a card you can put in and if more times than not it's broken because you just happen to have a lot of artifacts, then you can either pull artifacts out or pull this out. Verdict: Probably yes.

If this hits the board you best praetor the gods
Let's start off the same way with this card as we did the others. At it's base it is a 4/4 with flying, vigilance, deathtouch, and lifelink for 4. That's not a great start because dropping this on turn four puts you at a significant advantage for a long time. No one can attack you because you have a giant death touch machine and when this finally loses summoning sickness, you can swing in to gain life which doesn't even tap it down so you still have a terrifying four armed spooky wall. It also just flies over everything because fuck you, why not? It is indeed an angel horror. Oh what's that? There is more to this card? Ah yes, at your end step proliferate. This effect again could be very hit or miss depending on how your tower is built but I know in mine, even without a lot of counter synergy I have a lot of cards that do use counters. Things like Otherworld Atlas, Nature's Panoply, Zombie Butcher, Experiment Kraj, Orochi Hatchery, anything with evolve, and so on. I feel there is just too much possibility for things to get out of control for one person and this is coming from someone who once lit a firecracker while unsupervised. I was 24 at the time but you can see what I mean about me getting out of control. All of this is brought to you by the letter "H" for verdict: Hell no.

Great in combat, but a terrible driver
In Commander and Wizard's Tower both, I don't really try to win as fast as I can. I save that for other formats. It doesn't work in other formats, but I sure try to win fast...or at all really. I like Saskia but my issue with her for Commander and Wizard's tower both, is that as soon as she hits the field, you make an enemy. I like to stay neutral until the very end when I know I can just kill everyone in one final swoop. Let's backtrack though. At it's base it is a 3/4 vigilance and haste for 4. I would still say that is manageable to fight against. With no trample you can chump it forever and with no first strike you can just throw multiple creatures in front of it to get rid of it. It's good but killable. The effect of the card also seems manageable. It might be a little too good but would need some play testing to see for sure. The effect can either give you double damage on a single player or give damage to two players, one of which can't block it. This effect will put you in the lead, but also turns you into the biggest threat on the board. Since that's the case, all hate will be turned on you and anyone who can kill this will try to do so. Verdict: Probably yes.

Turns out he just named his stone axe "Maelstrom"
Cascade is probably my favorite keyword in all of Magic. The keyword is also great for Wizard's Tower assuming it's not on some broken card. Ardent Plea and Captured Sunlight are perfect examples of cards with cascade that are a perfect fit in a Tower. Yidris is not. Again, at it's base it is a 5/4 trample for 4. Other than Atraxa, that is probably the best base stats out of the 5 of these. Or it's not. I'm really just guessing. Either way, they are solid base stats. Now whenever he does damage everything you cast has cascade. That is the broken-est effect of the 5 in Wizard's Tower. How about I play this and then next turn I swing in and you block but still take damage because trample? Great! Now how about I cascade Terastadon? I get to cast the first thing under 8 CMC off the top of the library? That's probably everything. I realize this is one of the worse scenarious, but what if I just casting three 3 CMC cards in main phase two and cascade three times? That also seems really good. I love cascade and want more of it but this is too much too fast for a Tower. He can scream all he wants in his art, he won't make the cut. Verdict: No thank you.

I know it's been a while since we've talked about Wizard's Tower and I've missed it too. We still won't have anything every Wednesday but this will keep popping up from time to time. There are still 15 partner commanders to talk about so I will probably do that at some point. I might do one next Wednesday. I might not. Let's find out together. In the meantime go out and play some Magic. It's fun...usually. Until next time friends.

Did you buy one of the Commander sets? Do you have no self control like me and bought four of each Commander set? Do you want to have a gab sesh about the who's who of the Magic world? Send us a message or leave a comment!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Heavy Salami! This is going to be brief because I am going to go keep eating until I physically cannot move and have to be forklifted home. I hope everyone has a heavy Thanksgiving and that all you will have to be forklifted home as well.

I wanted to have a Thanksgiving themed deck built for today but I ran out of time. I would call it "Turkey and Stuffing" or something but it turns out turkeys don't exist in the Magic Universe. So it started to degenerate to food tribal which could still be a fun deck. I have ideas though so if anyone wants to finish what I start feel free. Maybe when I get bored of Book Tribal I'll move to Food Tribal.

It would probably be a Commander deck but could also just be a kitchen table deck.

If it's Commander start with this:

Karametra, God of Turkey and Mashed Potatos
If you're not building a Commander deck start with this card as well. God of Harvests is pretty Thanksgiving-y. Also fits the "food tribal" theme because people harvest food sometimes. As you can tell, when it comes to tribal I'm pretty loose with the rules. That comes from my parents being super loose with the rules when I was a kid. I was allowed to have dessert after I finished my vegetables and stay up until 10 PM. One time they even let me stay up until 11PM. It was a crazy childhood.

Me today
This definitely fits the theme of Thanksgiving because it's not really Thanksgiving until I'm just a giant blob of food. Even after I hit that point though I just keep going. No food is spared. I don't even really eat it, I just blend it all together and make a gravy-turkey shake. Devour is also a fitting mechanic for food tribal so this card and any other card that has devour and is on color can be a good fit here.

High School cafeteria lunch amirite?
This card has food in it. There you go. That's all there is to it really. Food in art means it fits. This card could also be good in combination with Karametra since when you play a creature you get a free land and draw a card. This is better food synergy than my turkey meat shake.

"Describe your relationship with a Magic card"
And finally the most important part of this deck. Hot Soup. Such a mediocre card with a lot of flavor. The soup I mean, because soup has a lot of flavor. The card has pretty good flavor too, though. Carrying hot soup makes you unblockable which makes sense because have you ever tried blocking soup? I did once when I worked at Denny's. I was trying to save a beautiful stack of pancakes from getting all soggy so I threw my body in front of it. I had burns all over but then they just covered me in cold pudding and I was all set to finish my shift. I'm just waiting for the "Cold Pudding" artifact equipment now.

Cold Pudding      1

Equipped creature does not untap during your untap step.
Equipped creature has menace.
Prevent all damage dealt to a creature equipped with Cold Pudding.
When Cold Pudding is unequipped from a creature destroy that creature.

Equip 3

This pretty much sums up how I felt. I was unstoppable and felt no pain with cold pudding but as soon as it was removed I wanted to die.

Alright deck builders, here is your holiday inspiration for a new deck so go out and build. Those of you who do build a food/Thanksgiving deck please share it with us. We at team Heavy Salami would love to see what food based decks can be made. Mostly because we love food. The Magic part is okay too though.

I know I said this last time but next week I will have a new Standard deck for everyone and I actually will this time too. Have a happy Thanksgiving and eat until you feel like a bad person!

Want to share your Thanksgiving meal with us? Want to share your food tribal list with us? Do you also feel like a gluttonous slime? Tell us in the comments or send us a sexy private message!

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Different Kind of Tribal

Ah yes, water does beat paper...

Hello everyone. It's been a long time. You are probably wondering where Dan and I have been for the last month. We've been training. We went up into the mountains where we found the ancient mystics and trained with them to become better Magic players. We stood under waterfalls with our decks to test our resilience. We shuffled decks for hours to improve our dexterity. We read ancient texts of the ancient alpha players to learn how to deck build. We threw boulders off cliffs because throwing stuff at other stuff is fun.

It is through all this training that I came upon a new deck. I want to say I built this deck but in reality, this deck built me. I have built lots of decks of all different calibers but this is my masterpiece. If I were to leave this world, this is the legacy I would want to leave in the Magic community.

Before undergoing all of my training, I had been meaning to build a new Commander deck for some time. I currently have three commander decks and was looking to play something new and mix it up a bit but I didn't know what I wanted to build. I wanted some sort of theme but I didn't just want to do a creature tribal because there are hundreds of different tribal decks for each creature type. I needed something different and weird, but still somewhat competitive. After some reflection and meditation it came to me to me in a dream. I already had the idea for this deck years ago, but didn't realize it was there.

Let's back track to 5 years ago. I was in college and Skyrim was just releases. All of my roommates and myself bought it and we played it nonstop. Even when we got bored with it we never really stopped playing it, just took extended breaks. About a year later it was time for me to start playing Skyrim again but I didn't know what I wanted to do in this play through. I had done magic, I had done stealth, and I had done straight up combat. I decided to play as a pacifist. I would see how much I could do in the world of Skyrim, and how many problems I could solve without violence. I also decided that my character was a pacifist because he was a scholar and felt that everything could be solved through discussion and knowledge. So as I journeyed through Skyrim trying to complete quests, I would also collect any texts that I could get my hands on. I read these to gain more knowledge and kept an expansive collection in my house in Whiterun.

It was during my meditation in temple that this story spoke to me. So I present to you:

Ain't No Holla Book Girl (Book Tribal)

The idea was that every card in this deck has books in the art. Now I'm using the term "book" pretty fast and loose because some art has scrolls, and some art just has pages of paper, but scrolls are just roll-y books, and pages are book-y pieces so it all counts.

Now the first step in creating this deck was figuring out who my commander would be. I ideally wanted it to be three color because I had no idea how many cards I would actually find with books in the art so the more colors, the more it gave me to work with. I also felt Esper would be the best because Orzhov and Azorious cards would probably have a lot of books/scrolls/papers in them. Sydri, Galvanic Genius was Esper and she had a book or two in the art, but I didn't want this to turn into an artifact deck. I wanted it to be it's own deck. So Sydri was out. I continued on looking through all the different three color commanders. I then found Nicol Bolas the creature. He's pretty mediocre for an 8 cost with having to pay UBR every upkeep but damn, he had a lot of books. It'll be rare that he hits the battlefield, so he'll just have to watch all his book-y subjects do work for him. Despite this, he was perfect and he was the one. Grixis book tribal it was.

Now with the commander on lock, it brought upon the daunting task of finding cards with books in them. The downside was that there is no advanced search that is advanced enough to type in "blue, black, and red cards with books in the art," but the upside was that I had so much time to kill I could just go through all blue, black, and red cards in existence scouring through the art. Now in the provided deck list I'm not sure what art it will show, so if it shows something that doesn't have books in it, be sure to check alternate art before coming at me saying there aren't books. I promise there are. I fucking checked.

"Well why didn't you include card X in book tribal? It has books in the art!"

To answer this question to all book art cards that didn't make the cut: I wasn't feeling it. There are plenty of cards that are just better than what I have but I built this mostly on a budget. I say mostly because there are a couple money cards in there that I got through trades of bulk rares I didn't care about so I didn't really pay anything for it. Demonic Tutor is the perfect example. That card is strictly better than a lot of what is in here but I wasn't willing to drop $40+ for my book tribal, especially because I'm not even sure how competitive this will be. Actually, yes I am, it will not be competitive. That's okay though, it's really more for fun and doing silly shenanigans than anything. Do you think a hardcore competitive deck would run Goblin Games? Probably not. I mean, every deck should probably run it, but most don't.

Let's talk about what this deck does do though. It ended up having a lot of weird synergy. To no ones surprise "books" in terms of Magic is synonymous with card draw and scrying. So it does a lot of that. There are a couple of targeted draw spells that work great with cards like this:

I will never complain about a paper cut on my hands again

This card is the only real win condition this deck has. I can still hit with creatures, sure, but there isn't anything in here that's too insane as far as creatures go. I plan on just drawing everything and scrying through everything until I find that one answer I need. "What answer is that?" Good question because they are few and far between. I'll just shoot you for two and make you draw two with Sing in Blood and then you take two extra on your upkeep from Price of Knowledge. That's about all I got. Pass turn.

There may not be a lot of ways to win, but there are a lot of ways to be annoying. They're just so happened to be a lot of wizards in here because turns out wizards like books. Who knew? With the wizards working together you get cards like this:

Papa Wizard here to counter everything

And cards like this:

All I read was "Azami, Lady of Cylinder Books"
The beauty of these two cards is that they can tap themselves for either of these abilities. And since these aren't tap abilities, you can do this the turn they hit the battlefield since summoning sickness doesn't affect these. That way if you're hurting for wizards you at least have these cards themselves to draw you cards or try and counter a spell. There are a plethora of other Wizard's though so hopefully you can draw lots of cards, or make sure their spell gets countered by making them pay 1 four or five times. Use that in combination with this guy:

Ah yes, Aphetto, the man who made Pinocchio
Now you can untap all those wizards you just tapped to draw a card and tap them again to draw another card. "Why wouldn't I just tap Aphetto Alchemist to draw a card?" Well I guess you could do things the easy way, but if I wanted to do things the easy way I wouldn't have built book tribal. You can however, use him effectively to untap cards like this:

I don't care what he looks like, an atlas is a book and I'll probably miss land drops.
or this:

Scroll is book. I needed damage.
These are two cards that do tap that would be great to untap and tap again. Dropping three lands a turn seems okay, and being able to shoot for 4 when you have no other use for you mana also seems okay. I guess there is the possibility that your opponent tries to destroy target tapped creature and you just go "NOPE" as you untap whatever they target only to fall pray to a much bigger scheme you could not have foreseen. At least your one dude lived.

The other "win condition" in here is this:

I'm never going to sacrifice this. I just want to see how many study counters I can get.
When I play this deck for the first time in a play group, I'm just going to hope that I look non-threatening enough to the point where everyone ignores me. Sure I'll play a creature here or there that people want dead, but I anticipate that. I also hope that people will have to board wipe other creatures and just fill everyone's graveyard. Then near the end game I drop this bad book and and get everyone's creatures. Will they all get board wiped? No doubt. I reckon I won't even get to do much with any of the creatures, but it's about sending a message. Don't underestimate the power of knowledge and study counters.

I haven't actually played this yet but I sure am excited to. I don't plan on winning but I can only imagine how good it will feel to draw, scry, and search for everything in my deck. I could also go into more detail about the accidental synergies in this deck, but to keep on theme I feel you should explore and learn for yourself what they happen to be. I will ultimately deck myself in most games but I have accepted that and wait for it with much anticipation. There are some improvements that can be made and I may swap some cards around as I play this because it turns out cards with book art are all like $0.50.

I'm sorry we've been gone for so long. I know the Magic community hasn't even noticed the disappearance of team Heavy Salami but we're coming back with a vengeance. I have a super janky, non-budget, standard deck in the works that I'll introduce you too. We may have some new things in the works or we may just play a lot more Magic. We're sorry we were quiet but we never left you. Check back later this week for another article. Probably. Who knows really?

Have your own Commander brew you want to share? Want to tell us how much you missed us? Want to ask us who we are and ask why were talking like people should care? Want to have a slumber party via skype? Let us know in the comments or send us a message!