Happy holidays to everyone in the U.S. Happy Friday to everyone else! :)
Sorry this up a bit later than usual. A few non-communicating players and a big American holiday and these things tend to happen. Please do remember, though, that even if (especially if) you are having trouble communicating with your opponent for the week, it’s helpful to keep me in the loop. I can reach out on your behalf and, when it comes to it, hand out wins based on who was trying to reach who. That said …
Sirpoptart is out of the league after two weeks of inactivity. We hope to see you back in future events, my friend.
For everyone else, week three is upon us!
The players currently sitting at the top include: Moromete, Najay1, MyGalaxy, dew4au, JorgeJacoh, Scramble, Vaultboyhunter, and DrChrisBakerDC.
Nicely done, guys! We’re halfway through Swiss, though, and there is plenty of Magic left to play. The top seat is definitely still up for grabs.
Just a reminder that I have guaranteed $50 in prize support to the top 3 if we make our goal of $200 in our Extra Life campaign.
The Orzhov Syndicate is known for their greed and business practices. They wear the facade of a church, but only worship the power of money. Those in debt to the guild often are worked to death and in many cases, even after death, they still must work to pay off their debt to the [c]Obzedat[/c].
Every guild on Ravinca can in some way be tied to the Orzhov Syndicate. Many Orzhov cards exemplify this nature of wealth and death. I believe that no card shows this concept more than [c]Teysa, Orzhov Scion[/c]. Her power over the creatures that she commands is unlike most. Lets take a look at what she brings to the table.
As the Grand Envoy for the Orzhov Syndicate, Teysa is the voice and ambassador for the Obzedat
[d title=”Teysa, Orzhov Scion (EDH)”]
1 Teysa, Orzhov Scion
1 Windbrisk Heights
1 Vault of the Archangel
1 Temple of Silence
1 Springjack Pasture
1 Scoured Barrens
1 Orzhov Guildgate
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Kjeldoran Outpost
1 Isolated Chapel
1 Godless Shrine
1 Fetid Heath
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Emeria, the Sky Ruin
1 Command Tower
1 Caves of Koilos [/d]
1 Twilight Drover
1 Skirsdag High Priest
1 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi
1 Reaper from the Abyss
1 Precinct Captain
1 Overseer of the Damned
1 Hero of Bladehold
1 Herald fo Anafenza
1 Heliod, God of the Sun
1 Hallowed Spiritkeeper
1 Grave Titan
1 Ghoulcaller Gisa
1 Geist-Honored Monk
1 Flesh Carver
1 Evangel of Heliod
1 Emeria Angel
1 Doomed Traveler
1 Deathbringer Liege
1 Darian, King of Kjeldor
1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
1 Benalish Commander [/d]
1 White Sun’s Zenith
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Spoils of Blood
1 Raise the Alarm
1 Path to Exile
1 Midnight Haunting
1 Malicious Affliction
1 Hero’s Downfall
1 Go for the Throat
1 Triplicate Spirits
1 Terashi’s Grasp
1 Spectral Procession
1 Nomad’s Assembly
1 Martial Coup
1 March of Souls
1 Lingering Souls
1 Increasing Devotion
1 Entreat the Angels
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Sacred Mesa
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Grave Pact
1 Dictate of Erebos
1 Attrition [/d]
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Sol Ring
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Eldrazi Monument
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Coalition Relic
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
1 Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Elspeth Tirel
This deck’s primary focus is to pump out as many tokens as possible and overwhelm the opponent. Many of these cards are geared to create these lopsided board states where you have all of the creatures and your opponent has none. This deck is very grindy though, so be prepared for the long haul because you’re going to be playing for quite a while.
[c]Teysa[/c] is a fantastic commander for this style of deck. Having a removal spell, token generator, and sacrifice outlet all in one is exactly what we are looking for.
Being cheap to cast is a nice thing as well. Being able to deal with indestructible creatures is a huge boost for this deck, as she exiles them. Staring down an [c]Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre[/c] or a [c]Blightsteel Colossus[/c] is no longer a death sentence with [c]Teysa[/c] in play, requiring you have enough white creatures of course.
Making a huge body at instant speed never has been so easy
[c]Spoils of Blood[/c] stood out to me when I was browsing the spoilers for Commander 2014. It seemed like it would have a home somewhere, and I think I found it. [c]Spoils of Blood[/c] works overtime in this deck. With the amount of creatures that will be dying, being able to make a large body out of thin air is pretty powerful. You do have to wait until the right moment to play it, but it really pulls its weight. When enough creatures die, it becomes more of a win condition. Making a 10/10 at the end of the turn will almost certainly be lights out for anybody.
[c]Teysa, Orzhov Scion[/c] lends herself to a very attrition-based deck. Being able to grind your opponents out of resources, while still being able to pump out creatures, is something some decks won’t be able to withstand. [c]Teysa[/c] can do it all in this deck, dealing with premium threats, triggering the handful of morbid triggers this deck has, and making tokens. She will keep your opponent in check, while providing something to do with the plethora of tokens besides attacking. This deck symbolizes what the Orzhov Syndicate stand for, making every creature work overtime, even after it dies. We all have to pay our debts some time. When that time comes, [c]Teysa[/c] will be there to collect payment. With interest.
Thanks for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any recommendations for commanders for me to check out and make a deck for, let me know in the comments below. Next week, robots will take over the Multiverse. See you soon, my friends.
4 Pharika’s Chosen
3 Disciple of Phenax
3 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
3 Servant of Tymaret
3 Sultai Scavenger
2 Mardu Skullhunter
1 Carrion Crow
1 Disowned Ancestor
1 Returned Reveler
3 Debilitating Injury
3 Rakshasa’s Secret
3 Read the Bones
2 Font of Return
1 Bitter Revelation
1 Crippling Blight
1 Flesh to Dust
1 Pharika’s Cure
4 Radiant Fountain
3 Feast of Dreams
2 Bitter Revelation
1 Pharika’s Cure
1 Typhoid Rats
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Flesh to Dust
1 Debilitating Injury
1 Disciple of Phenax
1 Font of Return
As was my first inclination after the League began, the curve speaks volumes.
Easy as 1, 2, 3 drop. Even though it was a small showing over all this week (probably due to the turkey worship in the United States) the players were all strong contenders. No slouches or give ups this week. GodZo is a great player and he was in a field of Standard Pauper heavy weights.
I am on the fence about this one. I feel that if I mulliganed and the hand was Swamp, Swamp, Ancestor, Blight, Font, and Dust I would have kept it. Therefore, I will keep this hand.
Now let’s look at the next six cards:
Well, you have removal, some deathtouch, and even some hand disruption. Over all I would give this opening 13 a B-.
As I have stated before, I have won more packs with [c]Forest[/c] than any other land type, between Standard and Pauper Stompy and Modern Infect and Bogles. As an introduction to Modern Boros Landfall, I want to explain why Monogreen Infect was so good.
Well, first of all, we have new and cheap fetchlands.
Many Modern games don’t seem close. It is my main gripe with the format. Many players play the metagame instead of the game. What I mean by this is that they find an optimal time to pilot a certain deck, and they crush the opponents that have the weak match-ups. Burn was favorable, and now Modern players sleeve up [c]Proclamation of Rebirth[/c] and [c]Martyr of Sands[/c]. I did the same thing with [c]Daybreak Coronet[/c]. Timeless decks are those that transcend this process and neither crush opponents nor get crushed by opponents. Instead, games are often very close and down to a turn or a single card draw.
Monogreen Infect was bizarrely able to play the long game or win before turn 4. When it was paired against combo or Tron, it would play a creature on the first two turns and play two or three pump spells by turn 3. In other games, the [c]Cathedral of War[/c] cards would act as pump spells, and the [c]Vines of Vastwood[/c] and [c]Groundswell[/c] would act instead as [c]Counterspell[/c] effects, increasing the toughness beyond what [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] or [c]Anger of the Gods[/c] would destroy or blanking [c]Path to Exile[/c] by granting hexproof. In addition, the Vines would counter [c]Splinter Twin[/c], which was relevant as well.
So the second reason I want to explore the Boros Landfall strategy is that many ideas seen in Monogreen Infect are transferable to Boros Aggro. Your lands are uncounterable pump effects for [c]Steppe Lynx[/c] and [c]Plated Geopede[/c], and creatures like [c]Figure of Destiny[/c] pump themselves without investing more cards. Even a [c]Shard Volley[/c] can act as a pseudo-[c]Mutagenic Growth[/c] if you sacrifice [c]Flagstones of Trokair[/c] to pay its cost.
Boros Aggro allows you to play a turn 4 or before game when you have to or to nickel and dime opponents with your Landfall triggers in response to removal. In addition, you have so much reach with your Burn spells that you only require one good swing from a creature in many match-ups. What’s more is that you’re playing white, and white sideboard cards are at an all-time high right now. Let’s take a look at the deck:
[d title=”Boros To Tears (Modern)”]
4 Arid Mesa
4 Bloodstained Mire
3 Flagstones to Trokair
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Wooded Foothills
3 Aven Mindcensor
1 Blind Obedience
1 Fracturing Gust
1 Kataki, War’s Wage
1 Mark of Asylum
3 Molten Rain
1 Rest in Peace
1 Stony Silence
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben [/d]
In the main 60, I have decided to start with, essentially, 15 4-ofs. The list probably has a [c]Grim Lavamancer[/c] and a [c]Shard Volley[/c] too many. [c]Grim Lavamancer[/c] feels very strong on MTGO right now. I am tempted to run [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] with the high number of instants and fetch-lands, but I just haven’t felt good about it in lists without chaining cantrips together (I tried it in Zoo, Affinity, and Eggs variants and didn’t like it). Instead, I will take advantage of the graveyard by destroying my opponents’ [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], [c]Young Pyromancer[/c], blockers, etc.
You may be tempted to run [c]Ghost Quarter[/c]. I wouldn’t fault you. There are times when you get to play a [c]Ghost Quarter[/c], activate it to destroy [c]Flagstones of Trokair[/c] and trigger one Landfall ability per [c]Plated Geopede[/c] and [c]Steppe Lynx[/c]. When you do, though, you will notice, as I did, that the deck runs too few basics to take advantage of it as often as we would like.
I find that many Aggro players are chronically playing too few lands. They are scared that they will flood out and lose games. This deck compensates for that in that each land drop is a [c]Mutagenic Growth[/c]. We don’t mind drawing lands nearly as much as other aggressive decks do.
[c]Flagstones of Trokair[/c] is not played nearly as much today as before the new legend rule, for good reason, but I still play it to work with [c]Shard Volley[/c]. At worst, if I draw two, I can get two landfall activations out of the second.
Again, the rule here is that we want creatures to be powerful alone, and investments that we make into the creatures can not result in blowouts.
[c]Figure of Destiny[/c] becomes a 4/4 fairly easily and with no investment beyond paying mana. The four toughness is required to beat [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], and activating his ultimate is not entirely unlikely in many games.
[c]Goblin Guide[/c] is a staple of the archetype, though he gets sided out a lot. If not for the popularity of cards like [c]Gut Shot[/c] and [c]Forked Bolt[/c], there may be an argument for playing [c]Dryad Militant[/c] in his place. As it is, he gets in a lot of early damage that is not dependent on land drops or other spells.
[c]Steppe Lynx[/c] and [c]Plated Geopede[/c] are the deck’s namesake. They easily deal an early 4-8 damage to the opponent in the early game, and they can gather in multiples as you play fetchlands leading up to the big finale. They also go great with [c]Boros Charm[/c] when you have to race your opponent.
[c]Boros Charm[/c] is relevant in all three of its modes. 4 damage is a significant amount of reach to deliver straight to your opponent’s dome. [c]Anger of the Gods[/c], [c]Supreme Verdict[/c], and [c]Day of Judgment[/c] are all essentially countered by granting your permanents indestructibility. Next, double strike deals loads of damage in combination with your landfall creatures. Finally, the first strike (given along with “double” strike) acts as removal of your opponents’ blockers before you go all-in. It’s a great card and difficult to play around.
[c]Lightning Bolt[/c] would be a difficult omission in a deck with [c]Shard Volley[/c]. It is critical in today’s game to remove blockers and threats, and it helps to reach a critical mass of burn spells in the deck.
[c]Lightning Helix[/c] is one of very few pieces of hate against Burn, and it also helps us gain some tempo against [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] based decks. So far, with the clock the deck provides, it seems to be enough.
[c]Shard Volley[/c] clears the way, finishes the opponent off, and deals 5 damage in many situations.
This space is a bit awkward. This deck loves to have untapped lands, particularly fetchlands, so instant-speed blowouts like [c]Wear[/c], [c]Smash to Smithereens[/c], [c]Path to Exile[/c], and [c]Combust[/c] are very appealing. At the same time, I really like the sorcery-speed and permanent-based hate with the aggressive clock that this deck provides.
Against [c]Scapeshift[/c], we side most heavily. 4 [c]Goblin Guide[/c], and some number of burn spells including [c]Grim Lavamancer[/c] come out for 3 [c]Aven Mindcensor[/c], 1 [c]Mark of Asylum[c/], 3 [c]Molten Rain[/c] and 1 [c]Thalia, Guardien of Thraben[/c]. This matchup is still rough. I really hate [c]Scapeshift[/c], but mostly because I rarely play counterspells or [c]Thoughtseize[/c].
Against Delver, we want [c]Electrickery[/c], [c]Mark of Asylum[/c], and [c]Rest in Peace[/c]. We will remove our 4 [c]Goblin Guide[/c] for them.
Against Affinity, [c]Electrickery[/c], [c]Kataki, War’s Wage[/c], [c]Fracturing Gust[/c], and [c]Stony Silence[/c] come in for a number of [c]Boros Charm[/c] and [c]Figure of Destiny[/c].
Finally, against Burn we bring in our lonely [c]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/c] and [c]Blind Obedience[/c] for 2 [c]Shard Volley[/c].
I hope you enjoyed this article and will try out this Modern Aggro list. It was a staple when [c]Wild Nacatl[/c] was banned, and it can really cut through some matches today as well. I don’t want to act like I’m some kind of oracle or Sam Black-type metagame solver, but when I predicted Bogles were good, they made it all the way to the #3 deck in the metagame. Then I told you Zoo could actually be viable in Legacy, and the very next day it turned up on mtggoldfish, after months of absence. I missed with [c]Notion Thief[/c] and [c]Cruel Ultimatum[/c], but I think I’m correct to say that this deck can make you some money. Either way, good luck, have fun.
Brennon and Sam talk about the changing meta as well as the Standard Pauper League! Dan joins us to discuss the pauper gauntlet and the vote back (sorry, the vote back is already over)!
Standard Pauper League: http://magicgatheringstrat.com/2014/10/community-league-update-changing-the-guard/
Pauper Gauntlet: http://mtgolibrary.blogspot.se/2014/09/the-decks-of-pauper-gauntlet.html
Welcome to Sideboard Plan, a series where I talk about games that aren’t Magic. Why? First, because there are a lot of fun games out there, and liking Magic means that you’ll most likely enjoy these as well. Second, playing other games, and understanding their strategy, can make you a better Magic player.
This week I want to talk about Solforge.
Despite it’s ugly interface and on-again off-again broken metas, Solforge is a game of strategy and decision-making. Every move you make has a big impact on the game, either directly or down the line, and the games, in general, are quick and fun. Solforge is also a model of free-to-play done right. That means that you can absolutely go infinite; it’s built right into the game – with minimal effort, you get a free draft per week, and while it’s a slow way to build a collection, the point is that you CAN build your collection without ever spending a dime.
Getting Started with Solforge
Solforge is available for iOS, Android, and through Steam for Windows PCs. For whatever reason, it’s a lot prettier and smoother when I play it on my iPad Air then it is on my PC, but deck-building is easier on PC. You can find the various download links on the site, solforgegame.com.
Creating an account and logging in is pretty straight-forward. After that, though, the “new player experience” is really a flop. You end up on the “Play” screen with some options, but there is no guided experience or campaign to get you started. Magic doesn’t have these either, which is equally a shame; Hearthstone and Infinity Wars both do an amazing job at onboarding new players.
There is an in-game tutorial, which walks you through the rules of the game. You can get the basics, more or less, but it only covers game-play and after that you’re on your own. If you click on Rules/Tutorial it pops you over to the site, where you can learn some of the basic layout.
Without a decent collection, you will get demolished if you play Constructed against other humans. This is unfortunate because you need at least one online win every day to get your free event ticket. There are two easy ways to do this: communicate with another human to arrange a game and have them concede to you; set up two accounts and play against yourself.
Is this a silly system? Yes, it is, but let’s keep in mind that we are still building a collection, for free, so even if we have to jump through some hoops to do it, it’s still a better situation than some other games.
You get small rewards for every win you get, but the big numbers are the first win and the third win of the day. For now the by-far best way to get these is to play against the computer or against an opponent / yourself who will auto-concede. Note that you can’t earn your daily event ticket by beating the computer.
Building a Collection
The most common rewards you will receive (for logging in each day, for your first win, and for your third win) are silver, cards, and basic packs. In the recent update, silver became a more versatile tool than it was in the past; you can now use it to craft cards, buy stuff, and enter events. Since you only need three of any given card (that’s the max you can include in any list), you can forge away additional duplicates for more silver, which you can then use to craft the cards you need.
Along with silver, you’ll also collect a lot of blue (basic) packs. These packs usually net you common and rare cards, which can be good for building a basic collection, but heroic and legendary cards (the top two rarities) will be few and far between.
With the recent update came casual drafts. This seems like a good idea when you’re starting out, but it is, sadly, a phantom event. So while the entry fee is cheaper and the competition is theoretically less challenging, you don’t get to keep the cards you draft. For that reason I recommend sticking with “competitive” drafts to build your collection, even if you don’t feel particularly competitive.
There are four rarities of Solforge cards: commons are green, rares are blue, heroics are yellow, and legendaries are red. Whatever the rarity of card, the deck cap remains 3x of a single card. Legendary cards often depict unique characters and are much stronger than cards of other rarities. Legendaries also have unique abilities that change the way the game (or a given deck) is played, making them excellent “build-around-me” cards. Building lists around different legendary abilities is one of the fun things about playing Solforge but, as you can imagine, is restricted by how many of each legendary you have.
Alongside the rarities, there are four colors of cards you can build with.
Uterra (green) represents nature and specializes in big creatures, including dinosaurs, and token generation. It also incorporates some life gain mechanics (and cards that care about your life total) and growth mechanics (creatures that get bigger whenever you play other creatures, straight-up buffs, etc) and Breakthrough (Solforge’s version of Trample).
Tempys (red) represents fire and aggression. It has the most direct damage spells, it has creatures with Aggressive (e.g. haste), and it has the most Mobility (allowing creatures to move from one lane to another). Tempys also has Yetis, which are a fun tribe, and a number of cards that interact with Defenders (walls, basically), allowing you to destroy your opponents Defenders or make it so that your own creatures lose Defender and can attack.
Alloyin (white) represents robots and the people who love them. Alloyin gets a couple tribes, namely robots and metaminds, and is characterized by armor (damage prevention), card draw (note that since you discard your hand every turn and draw 5 new cards, this ability is much different than in Magic, but can still be quite strong), and leveling cards. This last one is probably key for Alloyin as it allows you to discard cards in your hand (or elsewhere) and level them. When you level 3 cards every turn and your opponent only levels 2, you are generally going to have a much stronger late game, with more consistent draws, than your opponent.
Nekrium (black) represents dark magic and death. Nekrium has a few tribes, namely Zombies and Abominations, though Grimgaunts also deserve a mention due to their power. In general, zombies recur (think undying / persist), abominations do something when they die (damage your opponent, heal you, draw cards, etc), and grimgaunts are happiest when things are dying all around them. Having your creatures get bigger when things die is a key ability in Nekrium, along with debuffs and drains. Nekrium removal works around minus counters instead of damage, which has the added benefit of lowering your opponent’s creatures’ attack power and ignoring armor. Nekrium also has cards that care about low attack power, namely creatures and spells that kill things with X attack or less, comboing nicely with the drain spells. It also has some graveyard interaction, returning things that have died earlier in the game to your battlefield.
You can build mono-colored decks, but it is far more common to build two-color lists. Two is as high as you can go at this point; no three- or four-color lists are allowed, yet. Decks are often referred to by their color combination and main theme, e.g. AT Walls would be an Alloyin-Tempys deck that is focused on creatures with Defender, while NU Broodqueen would be a Nekrium-Uterra deck that builds around Dysian Broodqueen.
Rather than describing how to use the client, I thought it would be easier to create a quick video. I describe casual and tournament play, deck-building, buying gold and why you might want to do so, and basic game-play.
Why play Solforge?
It took me a long time to like Solforge. I still go back and forth, but most of the time I really think it’s a great game. Watching streams has really helped me appreciate the amount of thought and strategy that goes into good play, and a lot of the thought processes that matter in Solforge can make your Magic game better as well. Some of these include:
Playing around RNG – Solforge naturally has less RNG than Magic. Most games do because they don’t use a mana system like Magic does. Have you ever noticed how almost EVERY single TCG made after Magic has included a more reliable progression system than Magic’s land?
Even so, RNG comes into play when determining which cards you’ll draw at any given stage or power level, and learning how to make the plays that will help your deck be as consistent as possible is important. Thinking about the odds of drawing card X when you need it is useful in both Solforge and Magic and will make you a better player.
Knowing the meta – With a smaller card pool, it is easier to learn the meta and which decks your opponents are playing; this can help you learn how to play around your opponent’s most likely plays. Neither Solforge nor Magic are solitary games; we sometimes make the mistake of playing them that way, but thinking about what your opponent has in his hand and how he will react is integral to leveling up your game.
Knowing Solforge’s meta won’t help you learn Magic’s meta, of course, but figuring out how to learn a metagame is an important basic skill for good play.
Combat Math – Magic and Solforge are both games about math. The math in both games can get complex, but the essential skill is one of subtraction. Subtract enough from 20 (or 100) to get to 0. Win.
Combat math in Magic is often more straight-forward than in Solforge. Since damage to creatures doesn’t stick in Magic, it doesn’t matter if you block a 3/3 with your 2/4, your guy will still be a 2/4 next turn. In Solforge, however, your guy would become a 2/1 and your opponent’s creature would become a 3/1.
Thinking about damage, and about effects before and after combat, and ultimately about how to get your opponent to 0 while all of that is going on, is an incredibly important skill in both games. Thinking about the math in Solforge will make you better at thinking about the math in Magic, and vice versa.
The Solforge Community
There are a lot of great resources to learn more about Solforge.
There are plenty of good sites writing about Solforge and you’ll find links to some of them in the Reddit sidebar. There are two beginners guides there as well which are very helpful, this one on Ghox’s Socks and this one at SolforgeDeckTech.
In general, Ghox’s Socks is, in addition to being fun to say, the biggest Solforge site. It’s kind of the SCG of Solforge. You can also see which streams are up and running on the sidebar, there. Solforge is actually a very interesting game to watch being played (even moreso than Magic, I would say), and since there are only a few streamers, it isn’t hard to pick who you want to watch. Streams are even scheduled to (generally) cause as little overlap as possible, meaning you can almost always find a Solforge stream and there is rarely more than one happening at a time.
My two favorite streamers right now are Coxatrice and Hectares. Hectares in particular does a really good job thinking through and explaining his plays; Coxatrice does this as well, if not as in depth, but also has a “Play Mistakes” meter and will do a number of push-ups equal to the number of mistakes he made after every stream.
Last but not least, there are a lot of player-run events in Solforge, and almost all of them go through Kaelari’s Ladder. Unheroic events mean that you have to bring a deck with only common and rare cards, evening the playing field in terms of constructed accessibility. By participating in events you automatically get a chance to win gold and other prizes, so it’s worth checking out if you have the time.
Leveling Up: Tips and Tricks
If you’re interested in learning how to improve at Solforge (and want me to write an article sharing what little I know) then let me know in the comments. Otherwise we’ll consider this article a one-off as far as Solforge is concerned, and return to your regularly scheduled Magic. It’s a fun game, though, and I recommend giving it a shot.
There is talk of creating a Solforge mentorship program, but as of now, one does not exist. There is a recruitment program, but it offers nothing for new players; focusing instead on rewards for established players who bring new people to the game. That said, if you are going to create an account, you are welcome to use my recruitment link.
My username is “Bava” and feel free to friend me or challenge me. I can also share some cards if you need anything in particular, though my collection is far from complete.
That’s it for this week! If you play Solforge already (or make an account in response to this article) then share your username in the comments and I’ll add you as a friend. It’s always fun to grow your community, be it Magic, or Solforge, or both.
Other games you’d like covered in this series or are curious about? Let me know in the comments!
Last week I promised to bring you something more competitive. And while I was unable to complete my article about uncommon answers to common threats, I would like to share this with you.
It is a list that takes a pre-designed deck idea and throws in another angle. This is my take on a more aggressive Shardless BUG (NOT Sultai; Ana is the old school way) deck that presents powerful, relevant threats with a regularity that cannot be quashed by spot removal, while maintaining a disruptive and card-advantaged feel to keep the ball rolling into the late game.
[d title=”Shardless BUG Aggro by Peyton”]
4 Baleful Strix
4 True-Name Nemesis
4 Shardless Agent
3 Deathrite Shaman
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Ancestral Vision
4 Abrupt Decay
3 Force of Will
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Creeping Tar Pit
3 Verdant Catacombs
4 Polluted Delta
3 Hymn to Tourach
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Tropical Island
3 Underground Sea
1 Liliana of the Veil
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Sower of Temptation
1 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Engineered Plague
1 Gilded Drake
2 Mana Maze
1 Force of Will
With a mean twenty-one creatures, this deck is packing five more than the average Shardless BUG list. All of the creatures either boast some form of attached card advantage effect, such as the namesake [c]Shardless Agent[/c] and [c]Baleful Strix[/c], or have a helpful ability, such as [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c] and the amazing [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c]. These guys provide a lot of utility and help us get through the early game with solid force.
Then there are the haymakers. While not crushingly massive, [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] and [c]True-Name Nemesis[/c] can do a serious amount of damage in short order. Goyf is just… Goyf, and True-Name is, as we all know, evasive and hard to kill. I like that this list also has an innate way of defending True-Name. Edict effects like [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]’s -2 ability are a fairly common way of defeating this powerful Merfolk, but the sheer fact that one-third of this deck is made of creatures makes sacrifice effects much weaker.
This deck also has a great mix of cards into which [c]Shardless Agent[/c] can cascade. For creatures, Scooze, DRS, [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], and [c]Baleful Strix[/c] are all great to get for free of off an Agent. But the real strength of the Agent is when he hits some of our non-creature spells. The whopping four copies of [c]Abrupt Decay[/c] will remove a vast majority of threats and hindrances whether cascaded into or hard cast. I like plenty of this to keep the ground free for our attackers, while preventing Counter-Top like shenanigans from the opponent. It is the best CMC 2 removal spell that this deck can run.
[c]Hymn to Tourach[/c] is equally disruptive. Unless the opponent has no cards in hand, cascading into a Hymn is always relevant. And, of course, there is the free [c]Ancestral Recall[/c] that happens when you hit [c]Ancestral Vision[/c]. Pfft, [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] can eat my socks when I have Visions at my disposal.
The other obvious point of discussion would be my choice of planeswalkers. I have only three, and they are both amazing. [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c] really shines in a creature-heavy meta, where her edict becomes much better, and the discard is not irrelevant if the opponent cannot play their costlier creatures. If a deck like Maverick were to start total domination, I would trade in 1 Jace for another Liliana.
Ahh Jace… El Escultor Mental. He is the top of the curve of the deck, at four mana (unless you count the three [c]Force of Will[/c]), and is well worth it. Every Legacy player knows the power of [c]Jace, The Mind Sculptor[/c], and he is the most controlling card in the deck. The endless [c]Brainstorm[/c]s mean that we can sift through cards easily with lots of fetches, bouncing obnoxious creatures or tokens (Marit Lage) is solid, and if you ever ultimate that is usually the game.
The sideboard is just a bunch of options against the unfair decks in the format. Our “fair deck” game is pretty good. Playing solid creatures with relevant spells and disruption usually is, but decks like Sneak and Show or Dredge are not easy wins. Tweak your board to fit your meta, but I like to hedge against just about everything.
You may notice a weird card near the end of the list… [c]Mana Maze[/c] is definitely a rare sight. That being said, it is absolutely my favorite card to use against Elves, and black storm combo deck, and [c]High Tide[/c]. They will have a tough time fighting through this card, and unless they have an answer, this will be good game. At the very least it is a decent stall against Elves, which may find an [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], but against ANT, [c]Doomsday[/c], and [c]High Tide[/c], once the opponent is done reading they will usually concede and bring in answers for it.
That’s all for this week, folks! I hope you enjoyed reading, and would love to see some comments about what you think. Thanks and hope to see you next week!
Maybe I will bring out my prototype 4-color Cascaggro deck that’s waiting in the wings… :)
Week one went off with nary a hitch. Some of you just got in under the wire, but I only had to give away one win do to lack of communication. We had two drops after the first week: Alcarin and ewoksrule opted out for time reasons. Thanks for joining up, guys, and you are always welcome back to future events!
Official MTGO League Events
As you’ve no doubt read by now, the “official” leagues have been pushed back into 2015 despite numerous promises in the past that they would launch in 2014. That makes us the only league in town right now, which is cool, but I have to say that I am personally really excited about the official leagues. They take everything that makes other TCGs more approachable in terms of time (I’m looking at you, Hearthstone and Solforge) and brings those elements into Magic. Being able to play one match in an event and then log off is HUGE. I can often find an hour to play Magic, but it is hard to find 2-3 hours at a stretch, which is the time required for any event, currently.
I want to send out a huge thanks to JorgeJacoh for donating to our Extra Life team and helping to enable prize support for this event. Thank you!
In case you missed it last week, I am guaranteeing at least $50 in prize support to the Top 3 if we meet our goal of $200 in donations to our Extra Life team. Donations go to local area children’s hospitals; in my case, Seattle Children’s Hospital. None of the money goes to us.
If you’re following the Standard Pauper competitive meta at all, you know that it keeps shifting, which is really exciting. A meta that moves from week to week is the definition of “not stale”, and it’s interesting to see decks that come up strong one week get trumped by evolving strategies the next.
As this is my first article, I decided to do a Commander deck that is near and dear to my heart. He is my first and foremost in a long line of Commanders. His name is [c]Melek, Izzet Paragon[/c].
This man, well more of a weird than a man, represents a lot of the things that I like to do in Magic. I love to play big, bombastic spells that crush the opponent upon resolution. I like making complex turns while generating tons of card advantage. Most of all though, I love playing with new cards, most of those end up being my opponents.
[c]Melek[/c] lets me do all of these things and much more. Lets take a look at what my personal build has to offer you.
1 Sphinx-Bone Wand
1 Sol Ring
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Scroll Rack
1 Izzet Signet
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Coalition Relic
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Dack Fayden
This deck is juiced with power, even though it lacks a clear win condition on its own. The primary goal of this deck is to use your opponents cards against them to seize the day. Most decks in this format rely on big, dumb idiots or specific spells to win the game overall. This deck punishes those strategies by simply using their tools against them. Cards like [c]Bribery[/c], when cast, can be a nightmare for many decks, as they tend not to be able to handle the best creature in their deck as they are not designed to combat their own tech. Most green-based decks are the best friends of this one.
Outside of [c]Bribery[/c]-based effects, the deck runs your standard gamut of Izzet spells, such as [c]Cyclonic Rift[/c], [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], [c]Izzet Charm[/c], and other things of the sort. You usually want to keep the board clear, since you’re typically going to have one or two creatures on the board at any given time. Cards like [c]Keranos, God of Storms[/c] and [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] will keep you going in the late game by providing you with ongoing card advantage.
What [c]Melek[/c] brings to this deck is something that a lot of decks can’t really do. He brings extra value to every spell you cast, assuming you’re casting off the top of your library, of course.
[c]Melek[/c] forces you to play differently, as playing from the top of the deck rewards you with the best results most of the time. He allows you to dig deeper and find the cards you need for the situation at hand. Since you need to keep the top of the library set up, you’re going to rely on [c]Sensei’s Divining Top[/c] and [c]Scroll Rack[/c] to provide you with juicy spells to cast from the top. Casting double [c]Bribery[/c], [c]Epic Experiment[/c], [c]Knowledge Exploitation[/c], [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], or [c]Blatant Thievery[/c] will almost always win you the game. Even just casting a double [c]Electrolyze[/c] can sometimes give you the advantage you need and keep the pressure off you so you can set up future turns. With [c]Melek[/c] in play, you have to learn to plan ahead and be able to identify the spell that is needed for the situation, whether it be from your deck or theirs.
[c]Melek, Izzet Paragon[/c] is a card that is very sentimental to me. When I was getting into Magic, which was around the release of Return to Ravnica, he was one of the first cards that I ever really fell in love with. He became my first Commander and this was the first list I ever really took the time to make sure I built right. [c]Melek[/c] represents why I love this game. He brings something unique to the table that not many others can do. He allows you to craft huge, explosive turns and provide you with tons of advantage at the same time. Even after I’ve spread out and gotten into older formats and made new Commander decks, I’ve always had a place for him in my arsenal. [c]Melek[/c] will be at my side until the day I die.
Since this is my first article, also the first for Commander Corner, I should explain how things will go. Every week I’ll have a new list for you guys to take a look at and hopefully it gives you some inspiration for your next deck idea. I also will never have an infinite combo in any of my Commander decks, as they ruin the spirit of the format. As what is supposed to be a mostly casual format, comboing out your friends isn’t exactly my definition of casual. If you guys have any suggestions of Commanders you would like to see built, let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for checking out this weeks Commander Corner. I’ll catch you guys next Friday with a new Commander deck for you to sleeve up and wreak havoc with across the Multiverse. See you soon my friend.
4 Mind Rot
2 Eternal Thirst
2 Feast of Dreams
2 Pharika’s Cure
1 Font of Return
Here is what I really like about this deck:
Mmmm dat curve…
I think mana curve will be vitally important until the meta changes significantly.
Why yes, I would like to keep this hand. Some life gain, some removal, some card draw. Everything a growing boy needs. Though these days I am growing horizontally instead of vertically.
Now let’s look at the next six cards:
Now what do you think of the next 6? That rat goes a long way towards fending off the giant hexproof guys. During my league match, I would have killed for some deathtouch. My greatest downfall was the inability to interact with deathtouch and single point removal. Tokens are a killer when you have no sweepers.
The next league match is going to be a bit different. I will not be using Gary’s Delve. Is it good? Yes. Does it do what I want it to do? No. I am going for a sleeker, more streamlined approach to the next match. I wonder who it will be against?
Brennon and Sam talk about the changing meta as well as the Standard Pauper League! Dan joins us to discuss the pauper gauntlet and the end of round 4!
Standard Pauper League: http://magicgatheringstrat.com/2014/10/community-league-update-changing-the-guard/
Pauper Gauntlet: http://mtgolibrary.blogspot.se/2014/09/the-decks-of-pauper-gauntlet.html
I don’t know that I have ever been more excited about a Magic-related announcement then at this time. Take a moment to read this piece of news, or get the long and short of it here:
Qualify for the Holiday Festival Vintage Championship. Any player who places 4-0 in a Legacy Daily Event or 3-1 or 4-0 in a Vintage Daily Event earns an invitation to play in the tournament.
Enter the tournament with a deck that has neither Power nor Bazaar of Baghdad. No, this isn’t actually part of the rule, but it is essential for our purposes.
Place among the top three tournament entrants that have no Power or Bazaar of Baghdad in their decks. You do not have to place among the top 32 for the ultimate prize, but it is gravy if you do!
Win a complete set of non-foil Vintage Masters!
Every piece of Power, every Vintage and Legacy dual, Force of Will, and more will be yours! Don’t get me wrong; you can win this thing in a traditional sense as well and be just as well off. The reason I’m excited, though, is that budget players can conceivably get in this thing and really win big. Let’s break it down piece by piece.
Step 1: Earning An Invitation
This part is really tricky. If you are drawn to the free power by playing no Power like I am, then you are probably playing on a budget. If you are playing on a budget, it is very difficult to get 4-0 in a Legacy event or a game win in Vintage. It can be done, though!
The cheapest Legacy decks that have gone 4-0 in recent months are Burn and Manaless Dredge. A player can easily build either deck for under 100 tickets. Recently, Burn lists have exploded in price because of how good [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] is in the deck and format. While Burn players before Khans were able to do reasonably well with mono-red, players did so much better adding the required dual and fetch lands to draw into more gas. Nevertheless, here is a very streamlined and powerful build that Rich Shay used to 4-0 a Legacy Daily recently. I have taken out the [c]Scalding Tarn[/c] playset and replaced it with the newly-reprinted [c]Wooded Foothills[/c] to save $150.
[d title=”The Atog Lord Burn (Legacy)”]
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Bloodstained Mire
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
3 Grim Lavamancer
These Legacy Dredge players have frequently had the audacity to play less than 15 cards in their sideboard. I don’t know what metagame factors went into the decision to run 2 [c]Sickening Shoal[/c] rather than 4, but it must have been optimal!
Both of these decks will have to be on our watch list when we are creating a sideboard for the Legacy environment of the qualifying dates.
Unfortunately, neither of these decks transfers very well into a good list in Vintage. No one has performed well in Vintage with Burn despite many attempts, and the Manaless Dredge list is simply begging for the [c]Bazaar of Baghdad[/c] that would make our deck illegal.
On the other hand, maybe Dredge hate will be very light in the Holiday Festival because of this exclusion. That is something to ponder another day.
Until then, I have scoured Legacy and Vintage results pages looking for an archetype that meets these criteria:
It must operate in both formats with minimal additional cards needed.
It must function well on a budget.
The second goal is disputable, but I’m making it the goal because someone can easily build a functioning version of U/R Delver and the like for Vintage without [c]Ancestral Recall[/c] and [c]Time Walk[/c]. These decks would likely require [c]Force of Will[/c] and [c]Wasteland[/c] to compete in Vintage, and at that point, someone’s budget probably allows them to buy Power as well.
At the end of all this searching, I believe that the best list to receive an invite in the Legacy Dailies AND climb the charts in the Holiday Tournament will be Goblins. It is very unfortunate not to be able to run [c]Wasteland[/c] and [c]Rishadan Port[/c], but again, if we fork out $800 for these, then the Power is very easy to acquire.
Even with this setback, the deck is not without a great amount of interactivity. Let’s look at some of the hate that Goblins offer against decks you’ll be sure to face using a build from TheManaDrain’s desolutionist, which he has used to hit 3-1 in Vintage events.
[d title=”Desolutionist Goblins (Vintage)”]
2 Bloodstained Mire
4 Cavern of Souls
1 Strip Mine
1 Wooded Foothills
Against Dredge, [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] kills [c]Narcomoeba[/c] at inopportune times and exiles [c]Bridge from Below[/c] from your opponent’s graveyard in the same activation, so I think I’d like to see him in the coming list. In the list above, though, you can opt not to pay an echo cost, ping your own guy with [c]Goblin Sharpshooter[/c], or cycle [c]Gempalm Incinerator[/c] to kill one of your guys. The sideboard [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] is perfectly acceptable when its target is [c]Bazaar of Baghdad[/c] because your opponent will not have any basics.
Against other graveyard-based strategies, first we have maindeck copies of [c]Grafdigger’s Cage[/c], but also we have [c]Stingscourger[/c] to return reanimated fatties to our opponent’s hand. They have to find a way to get them back into the graveyard and a reanimation spell. [c]Stingscourger[/c] also makes [c]Show And Tell[/c] awkward.
Against many combo decks, [c]Earwig Squad[/c] removes the essential pieces, whether they are [c]Tinker[/c] targets, [c]Tendrils of Agony[/c], big creatures to bring out with [c]Oath of Druids[/c], or [c]Time Vault[/c].
Against Aggro, Delver, and Midrange, the deck is able to gain so much incremental advantage that it’s hard to stop the aggressive pressure. [c]Goblin Ringleader[/c] and [c]Krenko, Mob Boss[/c] are very difficult for these decks to beat.
[c]Young Pyromancer[/c] has nothing on a good [c]Goblin Sharpshooter[/c], especially if the latter has haste.
So here are my ports of desolutionist’s deck into budget Vintage to try and 3-1 the qualifying dailies and into Legacy to (don’t throw things at me) 4-0.