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About this blog

Short blog posts that don't really belong on my main blog (that I never update).

I'll put COTM's (Card of the Moment) and other musings here

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JesGolbez

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I got a chance to do my first paper draft of a competitive format in many months (Unstable being my last, if you call that competitive), as I drafted Guilds of Ravnica this past Friday.
As you can see, I ended up with a very low-cost Dimir deck that was thick on control and thin on beefy win conditions. 


RECORD: 2-0-1 (amazingly…)


DRAFT – My first pick was the Price of Fame over the rare blue copy spell. I figured I wanted to be Dimir or Golgari and hard removal is a good first pick. It was obvious that black was wide open at the table (other people were publicly commenting. This was a laid back draft with talking), so I made the right choice. Given how many Dimir cards I saw going around, it was easy to slide into that seat and I really didn’t budge from that, apart from a spec on a white card early on. I also figured I might have put the drafter to my left on blue with passing the rare, so I might get cut on that colour in pack 2.


What I wasn’t seeing was any real beef. I didn’t get the 5-mana 3/4 flyer, nor did I see much for big black dudes. I was glad to see the surveil pay-offs, at least, and  THREE(!) artful takedown, but very worried because… well, less beef than a vegan restaurant. My second pack had a Temple Garden (took for $), and Pack 3 was the rare blue copy spell (I honestly don’t know what I took over it, but it wouldn’t have been great for my deck, I think). I don't know if I made any big mistakes, and drafted my seat well, but I am sure there were 1-2 picks I missed that could have made the deck have more oomph. 


The deck was mainly banking hard on the Snitch (bleeder), Sprites (Flyers), and Spybug (Evasion). It took a lot of mental energy and each match was grindy.


MATCHES

Round 1 – I played against the guy on my left I was passing to. He ended up doing Jeskai with a weird blend of spells and mentor.
He smoked me in game 1 by curving out and focusing on mentor. Games 2 and 3, his mana base bit him a bit and he durdled a bit much. The lack of deck focus allowed me to use my removal effectively and bleed him out. I actually won in turn 5 of extra turns. I was the one guy making the draft run long :P

Round 2 – I played against a lady playing Grixis spells. It was a really cool deck that had the big 0/8 cyclops and a lot of jump-start spells and removal. I somehow was able to pull out a game 1 win by bleeding and attacking for 1 like 10 turns in a row. The 1/3 that makes dudes unblockable was big game, and she knew she screwed up by not killing it and killing the surveil bleeder, instead. 
She won game 2 easily, and then we drew in extra turns. I honestly think she had Game 3 easily, and considered giving her the match win, but I guess I wanted to end up .500, so I didn’t quite do it. 

Round 3 – I played the Dimirror match. Opponent had the bigger spells and flyers, but didn’t have quite as much removal and none of the surveil payoffs. I guess I ended up cutting him off of the stuff he wanted, so I managed to take this match 2-0 as I could remove his beefier stuff and bleed him out.
 

JesGolbez

I actually got a chance to draft Masters 25 (A25) last night. A generous fellow let us draft from his box, although we had to give the cards back. No Jaces cracked, but I saw an Ensnaring bridge.

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I ended up with a fairly aggressive black-green deck, although I waffled and had picked some early blue cards. The signals were hard to read, and both of my colours were being picked a lot. Still, I managed to get enough cheap beaters, removal, and pump spells, to cobble together a decent curve.

I ended up going 2-1, losing the first match by just 2 life and quickly dispatching the next two. Aggro decks seem to work well when I draft, rather than cute things. That said, I didn’t get multiple Timberwatch Wolves, nor did I think my deck was great. 

The cool story bro moment happened when I attacked with My Kavu Predator, the 2/2 that gets +1/+1 counters for each life an opponent gains. Thanks to playing the two Invigorates for ‘free’, I had a 16/16 trampler on a single attack :P


FORMAT THOUGHTS:
From what I’ve watched on stream, and from playing it once, I think A25 is a pretty good draft format. Not many solid archetypes, but some good 2-card combos and lots of depth and playables. It’s just a shame that paper drafts are twice as expensive as they should be. 
 

JesGolbez

@Aurian and I went to a smaller pre-release on Sunday, much more laid back than other places and the 3-round event allowed us to get home earlier for dinner. 

My pool had decent cards in all but one colour, and felt a bit 'too' balanced, or not deep enough. I had a hard time getting a deck built because a 2-colour deck didn't seem strong enough. Thus, I ended up with this Abzan goodstuff deck.

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WHITE seemed like the obvious first choice, given the two bombs, the two 'removal' enchantments, and the cycling angels. It wasn't a deep colour, but I was definitely going to play Gideon and the Dusk // Dawn.

Green offered up the best creature base, plus the Trial of Strength. 

Black ended up being my 3rd colour, given access to the Cartouche, and some Zombie-lord synergy. The plan was to do the usual Abzan grind and fly over with the bats. 

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I ended up going 2-1, winning the first two matches 2-0, 2-0 before falling 2-1 to the eventual winner. 

His deck has some serious bombs, but none worse than the new green god.

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Seriously, this PLUS any creature is extremely hard to overcome. I had no real removal for this, other than the white enchantment, and he can still make other creatures into tramping threats. This and the black cycling demon seem to be the biggest bombs in this set. This opponent also had the 3 damage red spell (all creatures) and the r/g split card that kills flyers or ground creatures...gah

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+/-

GIDEON underperformed for me. Unless you get him out early, or build around him, he's a glorified damage sponge. He doesn't really generate card advantage, and being a 4/4 indestructable was OK, but nothing spectacular. 

Dusk // Dawn was definitely Boom // Bust. There was a boardstate which I didn't want to pull the wrath trigger. Dawn is good card advantage, but also kind of slow.. spending a whole turn to get some creatures back and not being able to do much after... honestly, I felt the Wander in Death was better for me. I think these are both powerful cards that are likely better in draft and constructed.

Crocodile of the Crossing is a serious beating! 5/4 or 4/3 haster in green helped me win some games. It combos very well with ...

Channeler Initiate - Playing 3 colours, this was my only real fixing... and a mana dork that gets bigger? Yeah, I was always happy to draw this card.

Shefet Monitor - Helped fix me, and is basically the new Krosan Tusker. Seriously, this card is so flexible.

Scaled Benemoth - Yeah, a 6/7 hexproof isn't all that fair. I was lucky not to run into many deathtouchers. 

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The set seems really powered down from Kaladesh block, and I think most sealed pools will seem underwhelming, at first. I also didn't see a lot of embalming going on, but I did see a lot of Exert triggers on other tables (especially @Aurian

 

 

JesGolbez

Foxfire

While digging through some old cards the other day, I saw a copy of a card I remember seeing a lot of in my childhood, though in bulk piles, rather than in actual decks.

Foxfire is a one-creature Fog spell that isn't particularly effective, although it does replace itself. What always struck me was the artwork on this card, and it's not a piece you'd ever see on a Modern day spell.

I never really understood the art, and the weird framing, but I do love the picture. A fox in the upper corner, and then a bunch of fireflies?

I guess abstract ideas can give way to many interpretations, rather than the straight-forward illustrations we have on almost every blood card these days.

What the heck is Foxfire? And how does that relate to combat?

 

Per Wikipedia, Foxfire is an actual term from days of yonder. 

Foxfire, also sometimes called "fairy fire", is the bioluminescence created by some species of fungi present in decaying wood. The bluish-green glow is attributed to a luciferase, an oxidative enzyme, which emits light as it reacts with a luciferin. It is widely believed that the light attracts insects to spread spores, or acts as a warning to hungry animals, like the bright colors exhibited by some poisonous or unpalatable animal species.[1] Although generally very dim, in some cases Foxfire is bright enough to read by.[2]

JesGolbez

@Aurian and I couldn't make our usual (larger) prerelease on Saturday, so we went to a smaller one at a nearby mall on the Sunday. They did 3 40-minute rounds, so it was a nice quick event. I liked that. I ended up going 3-0 with a good, if unexciting, Orzhov pool. 

I was definitely happy that I got the kind of sealed pool that I like to play: Some big flyers, removal, a good curve, and a few new toys to play with. I played 5(!) of my rares, which was great, even though only one of them (Battle at the Bridge) was anything close to a bomb. The deck was just full of C+ or better cards, so I lucked out in that respect. 

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My deck really won through attrition and through the air. The revolt cards I had could be hard to trigger, but gave massage bonuses when I could (the -3/-3 dude and the Aeronauts, mainly). It was more of a good, clean Magic deck than OMGTHERESABOMB!!! 

Battle at the Bridge

My 'bomb' of sorts. While this looks like a fancier Drain Life, it really did save my bacon a few times. Being able to kill a larger threat and gain back life usually swung the game around enough. It won't be good against go-wide decks, but against normal/fair decks that count on a bomb or two, this is an MVP.

Metallic Mimic

In my deck, it was really a fancy 2/1 that ate a lot of removal. I didn't have much in the way of tribal synergy in my deck, but giving at least one creature a permanent +1/+1 counter, and it being colourless, meant it was an auto-include. This card will definitely be amazing in a draft deck with a lot of Servo makers, if it can live for a turn.

Sram's Expertise

I did get to live the dream ONCE and name SERVOs with the Metallic Mimic and then play this. Often, I got 3 little dudes and then played Caught in the Brights for value. More of a draft/build-around card. 

Midnight Entourage

I really didn't have many Aetherborn, so this was basically a 3/3 that got me a card when it died. I only got to play it once, so it was just a Hill Giant for me. 

Fleetwheel Cruiser

From Kaladesh, this was just a beating for my opponents and forced a lot of 2-for-1s. 

 

My first impressions.

1. Flying is important. It usually is, but it seemed that a lot of games were getting gummed up on the ground, and flying over was how to break stalemates.

2. Be aware of large armies. The Dawnfeather Eagle (was awesome for me) and the 5/5 rhino that gives your team a permanent pump can be backbreaking and help end stalemates. 

3. I would still maindeck at least one artifact removal. 

 

Aethersphere Harvester

This thing is nuts... almost Baneslayer Angel-esque. 

 

@Aurian built a G/W revolt deck, splashing red for the dragon and removal. She can tell you more, if she likes :) I didn't get to see much of her deck. I just know her Freejam Regent won her a game or two. 

JesGolbez

One of the oldest, and grossest arts in Magic the Gathering history was put on to the card Living Wall, a card that saw a decent amount of casual play when I played in my teens.

 

Living Wall

It's a damn fine defensive creature that can keep regenerating and fit into any colour deck.

 

That said, there is no way that WOTC would ever print a card like this now... it's not really the intestines or teeth that do it, but rather the fetus in the middle that would likely be taboo today.

I love this art, and should find a way to put one of these walls in my current decks. 

JesGolbez

Karma -  the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect).

 

Karma

Somehow, this meant you were punished for playing swamps? *shrug* This is back when Black/White really wanted to reinforce the good vs. evil trope

Karma is a powerful, but very narrow card that wasn't good against most decks. How to make it good?

Hack the system!

Magical Hack

Playing against a mono-green deck? Change swamps to forests, and you have a pretty fast clock.

 

Later on, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, made this an easier combo, although one that will also hit you, too. 

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JesGolbez

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September 24, 2016 - This is the deck I played at the Kaladesh prerelease (although I swapped out the menace vehicle for something else at the last second). I ended up going 3-1, losing the finals to what our friend called "The most boring deck I've ever played". It was green-black and just had efficient dudes and removal. Nothing fancy, and no real bombs, but very effective. 

 

My pool was a bit strange, and very creature light. I had to dip into the artifacts to get enough creatures. Thankfully, I pulled the two black bombs and had enough removal in black or white, plus recursion, to build a typical Golbez Orzhov-grinder deck. Red had some removal, but 3 creatures... I opened the rare Green hydra and U/R dual, Key to the City, and the crappy 3-mana artifact creature that I don't care to remember as my other rares. 

  1. Noxious Gearhulk was ALWAYS a great card. Removal, evasion, and life gain. In most every game I played, I would fall behind and have to stablize and grind my way ahead. Gearhulk, twice, gained me enough life to avoid certain death.
  2. Marionette Master was the bomb I played the most, and is a very interesting card to play. I most often put out the 3 tokens, and then had chump blockers to stall a ground attack. Every time you kill an artifact of mine, you lose life. I was also able to blink/recur her multiple times :P
  3. Artificer's Goggles do something! My deck had six artificers, so I was often getting a free +1/+2 equip boost. On its own, it's decent, but it really syngerized with this deck. Pumping up the Marionette Master's power enabled me to punish opponents further.
  4. Die Young didn't always do enough, since so many creatures I wanted to kill had 3 toughness. It's an OK card, but maybe not as good as first glance, especially without other energy enablers.

 

Thoughts on the prerelease and set 

1. Vehicles seem like a trap, and I often sided mine out. They are nice if you are ahead, and maybe at parity, but awful when behind. They will probably work a bit better in draft, and definitely require a the right deck to work.

2. Our prerelease had no Inventions opened, but everybody seemed to have a gearhulk or Planeswalker. Shark-infested waters. ( @Aurian opened a Nissa!)

3. If I am drafting, I'd want to go green. Yes, in an artifact set, green seems like the best colour. It has the most efficient creatures, decent removal (fight fight!), ramp, and lots of tramplers.

4. I love the tension on Fabricate. Sometimes, I'd want the chump blockers for the Marionette Master. Other times, I'd just want to boost the creature so that it outclassed my opponents creatures. 

5. Good fundamentals still beat cute things :P 

 

JesGolbez

CARD OF THE MOMENT #4: WOOD ELEMENTAL

 

Wood Elemental

In the list of the worst cards in Magic's history, Wood Elemental is an easy inclusion into the Top 10. After admiring the goofy picture (I love it), read the text and just soak that in.

Yes, you pay four mana for a 0/0. You then have to sacrifice untapped forests to give it any power and toughness. UNTAPPED!!

 

Play this on turn 4 without ramp? Umm, OK... Play it early with some ramp? Great, you might get a 1/1 or 2/2. Play it late? A 4/4 that makes you sac your lands is hardly a great investment.

This card doesn't even have any evasion or extra ability to make it even considering. Even if you could sacrifice tapped forests, I can't imagine I'd ever play it. 

 

WOTC did eventually make cards that tried to 'fix' Wood Elemental, such as Fungus Elemental.

Fungus Elemental

It's not a great card, but at least it's a Hill Giant, if nothing else.  

JesGolbez

Divine Intervention

 

Today's Card of the Moment is one of my favourite 'win' conditions, and a card I've mentioned in the past: DIVINE INTERVENTION.

A very old, and expensive-to-cast enchant from Legends, this is the type of card that causes players to pause and read the card about 2-3 times before it kicks in. I also love the old-school art. 

To put it bluntly: You have two turns to kill me or remove this card, or the game ends in a draw! :)

 

I have a deck that I built called "How to Make Friends", and it was built before EDH Group Hug decks were a thing. With cards like Truce and Hunted Lammasu, I gift opponents cards and life and try to make friends with all players at the table. It also has an Archon and life-gain subtheme, to keep me alive.

 

Hunted Lammasu

The idea is to make everybody a winner by ending the game in a draw. Only my wife @Aurian seems to actively hate the card. I doubt R&D would ever reprint a card like this, outside of Conspiracy. 

 

 

JesGolbez

COTM#2 is an oldie: Phantasmal Forces

Phantasmal Forces

A 4/1 flying creature for 4 mana, but with an upkeep cost. This would still be a decent limited card now, but, back in the day, it was a popular casual card for our blue decks.If the opponent had no blockers or removal, they were dead in 5 turns. Creature power creep is a thing. 

The usual curve was this into a 5-drop like Air Elemental or Vesuvan Doppleganger. Get to 6 mana? Mahamoti Djinn!

WUBRG - Notice how the very old version uses U instead of the rain drop mana symbol? The very early sets didn't seem to be able to print mana symbols in the text box, so you had to pay GGGG for Force of Nature's upkeep. I can imagine a new player seeing a 'U' and thinking, "I have to spend you during the upkeep"?

 

I loved the art on this, even though the forces don't look all that phantasmal. 

 

 

JesGolbez

(warning: Picture heavy)

@Aurian and I attended the pre-release my friend ran and we had a pretty good turnout of 15 players. These are mostly friends and friends-of-friends, so it's very laid back and casual.

 

I ended up 3-0-1 with a very grindy GB deck. Poor @Aurian went 1-3 with serious mana screw issues all night :( Not much fun, as we all know what it is like to go through that.

My pool was somewhat evenly split, but I decided on this deck:

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Green was my deepest colour in terms of sheer # of cards, while Black had the much-needed removal suite. Yes, I did manage one win with the Triskaidekaphobia :P 

The deck was grindy, but had a decent amount of beef. Ishkanah with Delirium is a serious bomb, and I had a lot of card advantage to grind out wins. I faced another GB deck in the match we drew, although I have to admit he probably would have won. 

I beat my nemesis (no, not my wife) in the finals, mainly because he got mana-screwed. :(

Oh, and shout out to PERMEATING MASS - Seriously, this is amazing blocker. One game ended up having six copies of this on the board :)

Foul Emissary is a bit slow and below the curve, but I always hit another creature with it on the trigger, and it made good fodder for the one Emerge creature I did have. 

I had Elusive Torment in last set's prerelease, and it makes a good hard-to-deal-with finished. I had little madness to work with, but it  still performs just fine as a 4/4. 

 

DECK BUILDING

My green sideboard. I sided in CONFRONT THE UNKNOWN and sided out Triskaidekaphobia if my opponent had instant-speed lifegain.

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My black and artifact sideboard... not much here that I could use. Censer was a tough cut, but my deck needed mana for other things. 

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I easily cut blue since it was the weakest of the 5 colours in my pool.

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My white actually had some decent playables, but not much in the way of quantity or beef.

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RED was my other serious choice due to the RB Vampire rare I cracked plus the promo Garrison. That said, black was my removal colour and green just had the sheer creatures. RB was a possibility, but I didn't have enough creatures to pull that off.

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I didn't get too much of a feel for other matches since mine tended to go the longest. For me, the format was slow :P Emerge was definitely an underrated mechanic, from what I saw.

 

How did others do in their prereleases? Feel free to share stories below. 

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