Tagged: blue

Card of the Week: Long-Term Plans

Last time I said I was making a conscious effort not to talk about only blue cards, but this one’s caught my eye after it worked its way into my new Bruna, Light of Alabaster deck.  I also happen to think this format suffers from the use of too many tutors, and this card is a tutor, but it’s definitely a tutor with a twist.  It’s a strange rare from Scourge called Long-Term Plans.

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Cardz of the Week: Sweepers!

This Friday’s CotW is a bonus feature covering ALL the sweeper removal in Magic!  Well, most of it, anyway.  It’s a pretty broad category, and some cards can only be considered a sweeper if you stretch the definition somewhat.  The definition I intend to use for this article is that a sweeper is a card that removes (destroys, exiles, bounces, etc.) all permanents of a certain type, even if there is a condition attached, and that does so by not targetting them or dealing damage.  The condition is often based on converted mana cost (e.g. Pernicious Deed).  As such, Mutilate is a sweeper, but Violent Ultimatum is not.  The definition is pretty fuzzy, as Overwhelming Forces can either be a sweeper or not by these criteria, but you get the idea.  It’s mostly a “feel” thing.

I’m going to go in categories based on what card type the sweeper removes.  The goal is to give everybody an idea of all the options they have in certain colors to get rid of all kinds of permanents at the same time, which is obviously a great thing to do.  Using one card to get rid of a whole bunch is just Good Magic.  I’m also going to leave out Planeswalker ultimates, because, well, they never happen.

Monday’s column will be a strategy article on just how many of these type of cards to include, to tie in with this one.  With that said, here we go!

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Casual vs. Competitive metagaming: Or, why aren’t you playing Stranglehold?

Hey everybody.  After taking last week off for a little vacation and to spend some time with my folks after a loss in the family, I’m back!  While on my long drive out and back, I immersed myself in the world of Magic podcasts (specifically, the Eh Team and CommanderCast, both of which are fantastic.)  I have volumes of upcoming new material for you guys, so pull up your sleeves and dig in!

This article stems largely from a conversation I had with my longest-running Magic buddy and fellow Thwomper Brad.  He was over at my place after some time at the driving range and hadn’t brought his decks, so he was shuffling up my decks against me.  He immediately reached for my Captain Sisay stax build and said something along the lines of, “I need to know what makes this thing work.”  He told me that of all my decks, he most loathed to play against that one, which I was certainly surprised to learn.  He then qualified that and said, it’s not the least fun to play against — that honor belonged to the U/B Dralnu infinite-turns monstrosity that I built here — just the scariest.  I was surprised to learn that what I thought was my best deck, Arcum Dagsson, is neither the scariest or the least fun.

I wanted to understand why he felt this way about these two decks, and the ensuing conversation ties very much into the long-running casual vs. competitive Commander debate that rages on still to this day.  It was particularly interesting to me as I consider Brad more toward the “competitive” side of the Commander coin than just about anybody else we play with, save yours truly.

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Deck Salad Surgery: Damia, Sage of Stone

Welcome to the third installment of Deck Salad Surgery.  Today I’m going to be building a deck from the ground up.  I mentioned the first concept back in this post, where I noted I was inspired by a legacy Show and Tell Griselbrand deck.  Of course, Grizzy’s been banned, but if I let a little thing like banning the centerpiece of the deck stop me, where would I be in life?

(Answer: probably still writing a Magic blog.)

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DSS: Commander Uncensored — EDH without the ban list

Welcome to the second edition of Deck Salad Surgery!  I had the idea for this particular column while driving over to a friend’s place to sling some cardboard.  The basic premise is this:  what kind of deck would you make if there weren’t any banned cards (except the ante cards, of course)?

There’s obviously a few ways to go with it, but I chose to go top-down.  What cards would I most like to play if they weren’t banned?  Then, how do I abuse those cards?  (Of course, many of the cards on this list don’t require much work to abuse.)  Two sprang to mind immediately, but I won’t give away which ones just yet.  Instead, let’s look at the banned list and break it down by colour.

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Deck Salad Surgery: Jenara, Asura of War

Alright friends, Romans, countrymen!  (And if you don’t belong to one of those categories, GTFO.)  It’s time for the first instalment of my Deck Salad Surgery* column!  And I even have a user-submitted deck for the feature.  Things are just coming together like jello in the fridge here, people.

(*  This is an ELP reference.  I’d hate for you to miss it.)

Today’s column features a Jenara, Asura of War deck chock-full of Bant-colored good stuff.

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Card of the Week: Fact or Fiction

Howdy!  This is the first installment of the (hopefully) weekly feature wherein I discuss the merits, detriments, and other fancy things about a particular card.  Again, feel free to leave a comment to suggest future cards for the feature.  I’m keen on discussing not only hidden gems, but well-known powerhouses, overrated cards, and staples.

What I hope you will get out of this feature is not only an appreciation for the ins and outs of particular cards but a deeper understanding of card selection and analysis to help with your deck building.

With that said…

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Deck Salad Surgery — Making Cuts — Dralnu, Lich Lord

This article discusses the Dralnu, Lich Lord deck first talked about here.

After sitting on the 100-or-so cards we came up with in the last post for a few days, it’s time to start paring the list down a little.  Once it’s down to around 70 cards, you can start collecting.  In my opinion it’s not worth making a totally air-tight list before you start to play it, as it’s impossible (or at least very difficult) to know what cards are or aren’t working until they’re bricking in your hand, doing nothing on the board, or unexpectedly kicking ass.  Further, getting the proportions right on all your various card types is impossible without proper testing.  It’s possible to have too much redundancy in one area, as you can see in the Savra list I posted in the Decklists area.  It’s also possible to have not nearly enough.

So, as regards Dralnu, let’s refresh our win condition.  We’re going to try to accelerate into a board state where we’re taking lots of extra turns with Time Warp-style effects and flashing them back via Dralnu, until we assemble an infinite mana combination and either Exsanguinate or Blue Sun's Zenith for the win (possibly decking ourselves with Laboratory Maniac).  Or we can steal everything with Memnarch or bounce everything with Capsize. We’re going to use weenie wizards to help with acceleration, card-drawing, and delaying our opponents.  These are our strangleholds.  We should evaluate all cards with how they facilitate this plan or delay our opponents from reaching theirs.

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Deck Salad Surgery — Dralnu, Lich Lord

I’ve decided, just today, to begin a new deck.  The process of retiring Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Savra, Queen of the Golgari and amalgamating them into one other has been quite successful.  The deck is currently 5-0!  (3-0 play testing against other decks of mine and 2-0 in actual competition.)

So it’s time to start something new.  I was briefly tempted to make a rather disgusting Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur deck inspired by d0su on MTGSalvation, but I’ve already got a rather disgusting mono-blue combo deck.  Who needs two of those?  So instead, I’ve decided to go U/B Dralnu, Lich Lord.  The idea is going to be to take lots of extra turns, flash powerful spells back (like extra turn spells), and get there with a bunch of little Wizards.  I’ll probably win by Stroke of Genius or Exsanguinate for 1000.  Seems fun.

So I figured I’d go through my deck building process for the care and benefit of others. This will be a multi-part article; the first section is brainstorming, adding cards that contribute to the various themes and strategies I identify. I’ll end up with many more cards than I can play. The next article will be a blow-by-blow cutting-down process.

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Hanna, Ship’s Navigator

Hanna, Ship's Navigator

Commander (1)
Hanna, Ship’s Navigator

Creatures (7)
Academy Rector
Aura Thief
Consecrated Sphinx
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Steel Hellkite
Sun Titan

Artifacts (9)
Claws of Gix
Everflowing Chalice
Lightning Greaves
Memory Jar
Mindslaver
Pithing Needle
Sensei’s Divining Top
Sol Ring
Talisman of Progress

Enchantments (25)
Attunement
Decree of Silence
Enchanted Evening
Faith’s Fetters
Future Sight
Ghostly Prison
Greater Auramancy
Honden of Seeing Winds
Invoke Prejudice
Karmic Justice
Land Tax
Martyr’s Bond
Oblivion Ring
Opalescence
Parallax Tide
Parallax Wave
Pendrell Mists
Planar Collapse
Propaganda
Rhystic Study
Seal of Cleansing
Sigil of the Empty Throne
Solitary Confinement
Thought Reflection
Treachery

Spells (20)
Austere Command
Cleansing Meditation
Condemn
Cryptic Command
Enlightened Tutor
Fabricate
Fact or Fiction
Hallowed Burial
Hinder
Idyllic Tutor
Intuition
Mystical Tutor
Open the Vaults
Recurring Insight
Replenish
Return to Dust
Rout
Stroke of Genius
Time Stop
Tunnel Vision
Lands (38)
Academy Ruins
Adarkar Wastes
Boreal Shelf
Deserted Temple
Drifting Meadow
Flood Plain
Flooded Strand
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Kor Haven
Lonely Sandbar
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Mistveil Plains
Mystic Gate
Petrified Field
Remote Isle
Secluded Steppe
Sejiri Refuge
Serra’s Sanctum
Skycloud Expanse
Temple of the False God
Tolaria West
Wanderwine Hub
Island
Plains