Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Announcement: Moving (again)

Hi everyone! Just thought I'd let you know that I won't be posting for about 5 days intentionally due to me moving halfway across the country again. Depending on interwebs and moving delays, I'll try and get back here by Wednesday or Thursday next week.

Volition Reins

Volition Reins
Eh... no. I don't really like this card. Yes, it takes any permanent and untaps it, but it costs 6 and a hell of a lot of blue. You know what I'd run instead of this? Take Possession or Blatant Thievery. Take Possession is one more mana, but it's less colour-intensive and can't be countered (although it doesn't untap the permanent, but considering activated abilities can't be activated...) and Blatant Thievery takes something from everyone for one more who's control effect can't be ended with an Allay. This is just subpar for me. It either shouldn't be so colour intensive or it should do more than grab and Twiddle a permanent. Also, Confiscate exists.

Pros: Grabs and Twiddles a permanent
Cons: Very colour-intensive, only takes one thing
Rating: 2/5

Monday, 28 July 2014

Cover of Winter

Cover of Winter

Honestly, this isn't a terrible card. It can be a really, really expensive and weaker version of Endure or it can be that thing that lets you hold off that token army for a turn or two in order to deal with that player. I'm not saying this card is great, just not as terrible as people think. Are there better ways to prevent damage? Yes, Safe Passage exists. That said however, this isn't bottom of the barrel. It can help against a wall of gribblies and, if necessary, be pumped in order to prevent a larger amount of creature-based damage. Still, it's far from perfect. It's just not far enough to no longer be able to see it.

Pros: Prevents damage to you & your creatures, pumpable
Cons: Snow mana only, only prevents creature-based damage, cumulative upkeep
Rating: 2/5

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Engineered Plague

Engineered Plague

This card is really great against token decks. I'm a little hesitant to say it's "great" against tribal decks, as tribal decks are apt to run lord effects that will negate the -1/-1 quite easily, but it can happen tribal decks as well. Against non-tribal, non-token decks however, this is pretty garbage to be honest. You might hit one or two creatures with this against those types of decks, but I don't think it's worth it that that point. It's a situationally great card and that's the best I can give it.

Pros: Weakens a specified type of creature
Cons: Pretty useless against non-token/tribal decks
Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 23 July 2014



I wish more creatures had split second. I don't know why, I just do. This card is basically this original Loxodon Smiter except with a few differences. This thing can't be targeted, but it also doesn't go into play when discarded nor is it very big. I feel that if this was a 5/4 instead of 4/5, it would be much better. Right now, it's a card that's on the bad end of "okay". It's a 4 power creature for 6 that can't be targeted nor countered. That's not bad, but it's not great either.

Pros: Can't be countered or targeted, isn't discarded by opponents
Cons: 4/5 for 6
Rating: 2.5/5

Monday, 21 July 2014

Time Spiral Split Seconders

Angel's GraceStonewood Invocation
Sudden SpoilingTrickbind
Word of Seizing

Angel's Grace
What can I say about this card that hasn't already been said? It's an important part of Ad Nauseam decks and it's just pretty great all around. It's also great against storm decks since they've usually only got one shot in them anyway. The only issue I have is that it doesn't completely stop life loss, so if you have no way to get to 1 life before the end of the turn, you're out of luck. Still, it's a great card.

Pros: Stops you from losing the game
Cons: Doesn't stop life loss
Rating: 5/5

Stonewood Invocation
This is the runt of the litter. +5/+5 and shroud until end of turn is great, but for four, I wish "trample" was also on this card. At common, +5/+5 tends to cost at least 6 for instant-speed (see: Explosive Growth). At rare, similar cards give trample and other such niceties (see: Titanic Ultimatum). Again, I'd like this to have trample instead of shroud. Still, it's an okay combat trick that can't really be countered.

Pros: +5/+5 and shroud at instant-speed
Cons: No evasion
Rating: 2.5/5

Sudden Spoiling
I've talked about this card here. I don't think I need to elaborate on it any more. It's amazing.

Pros: Makes a field useless
Cons: Doesn't affect any tokens on creatures
Rating: 5/5

Stifle's big brother. For double the cost, it really does double the work. Some permanents (like Memnarch) can recover easily from having their first activation countered, but they are stymied if they can't activate for an entire turn. For the price that it's act, you can't really get much better.

Pros: Stops and locks activated/triggered abilities
Cons: Costs 2
Rating: 5/5

Word of Seizing
This is a card that I don't see enough of. Yes, it costs two more than Mark of Mutiny and one more than Ray of Command for what people think is basically the same thing. But, it's not the same thing. Not even close. Say your opponent has spent a while getting his Domri Rade up to 7 loyalty. What would you rather in your hand: this or Mark of Mutiny? Say your opponent just dropped an Akroma's Memorial and you survived. What would you rather: Ray of Command or this? I'm not saying it's amazing (it does cost 5 after all), but it's good enough that it deserves more play than what it gets.

Pros: Steals a permanent for a turn
Cons: Costs 5
Rating: 4/5

Phyrexian Obliterator

Phyrexian Obliterator

There are no words for this card. Whenever this hits the field, all I can think of is shrieking noises and the nearest flame-producing objects. The only drawback of this is that it costs BBBB, meaning it's probably only going in mono-black decks (except for those running Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth). Otherwise, this guy is amazing to have and terrible to face.

Pros: 5/5 trampler for 4, probably not going to take any damage
Cons: Quad black
Rating: 5/5

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Rats of Rath

Rats of Rath

People think this card is dumb, but it's basically just another sack outlet. Sure, you don't get any benefits from it, but it can do in a pinch. It also gets around pesky sack preventers like Angel of Jubilation and It That Betrays. I'm not saying it's a perfect sack outlet; I'm saying it's a backup sack outlet. Kind of. Outside of that, it's a 2/1 for two so it's average.

Pros: Backup sack outlet, can sack non-creatures
Cons: No benefit to sack, can't sack indestructible things
Rating: 3/5

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Knight of New Alara

Knight of New Alara

This was a scary card back in its day and it's still kind of scary today. Remember Dryad Militant? With this guy, it's a 4/3 for 1. Esper Stormblade is now a 6/5 flyer, Empyrial Archangel is a 8/11, and Transguild Courier is an 8/8. See why this is scary yet? Honestly, the only issue is that it doesn't give the bonus to itself, which means it's a 2/2 vanilla for 4 on its own. Everything else about the card is great.

Pros: Gives bonuses to other multicolour creatures
Cons: No bonuses to itself, 2/2 for 4 on its own
Rating: 4/5

Friday, 18 July 2014

Saproling Infestation

Saproling Infestation

As fairly set-specific cards go, this one's pretty good. I mean, it turns those two-for-one cards like Benalish Emissary into three-for-one cards! It also gives you a benefit for when your opponents get two-for-ones (or multiple bonuses for multikicked cards). The big issue with this is that this card doesn't do anything except with kicked spells, which is a fairly small scope in the grand scheme of things. Still, it's an interesting card at least.

Pros: Turns your two-for-one kicked spells into three-for-one
Cons: Works only on kicked spells
Rating: 2.5/5

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Spawning PIt

Spawning Pit

As Altar of Dementia and Ashnod's Altar have shown us, anything that allows instant-speed creature sacking opens the door to some pretty crazy combos. This is a combo-enabler that allows you to combo off itself later on, but at a price. I understand that if it just straight-up turned any sacrificed creature into a 2/2 artifact creature, it would be broken (lookin' at you, Disciple of the Vault + Carnival of Souls), but I still can't help but feel like that is hampering this card a little bit. Maybe if it didn't cost mana for the second ability? I don't know. There's a amazing card in here somewhere, but for now, we'll have to settle for a solid "good" rating.

Pros: Instant-speed creature sack, makes bears
Cons: 2:1 ratio of dead things to bears
Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Tangle Kelp

Tangle Kelp

This isn't a great card, but considering we just had a reprint of Eternity Snare, this is pretty good in comparison. The main advantage of this card is that it only costs 1. It does allow for untaps, but it's only every second turn, which can make a huge difference in a lot of games. It's pretty useless against those utility creatures you want to tap down, but against attackers, it's pretty decent.

Pros: Frosts a creature, costs 1
Cons: Only frosts after attack, useless against utility creatures
Rating: 2.5/5

Monday, 14 July 2014



Given the rumours around Khans of Tarkir having a lot of Walls in it, I'm betting on this card being reprinted very soon. Like the flavour text says, it's really good at killing big flyers (like Dragons) and it's really cheap for its power/toughness. It's too bad that this can't block smaller creatures, but I suppose that gives it a balancing factor. Otherwise, you'd get a massive flying blocker for cheap with no downside.

Pros: 5/6 flyer for 4
Cons: Defender, can't block small things
Rating: 4/5

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Tips and Tricks Episode 1

So, after running into some common issues and misconceptions as my store's official, I've decided to start an occasional column here where I point out commonly misconceived things as well as talk about lesser known parts of the game in order to give some advice to everyone out there. I'm not claiming to be a master of rules or anything, but I see a lot of pointless arguments about little things and I want to clear things up for some people. Besides, doing this will help me become a better official (at least I think it will). So, let's begin with something I heard about 4 arguments about this weekend:

Lifegain Triggers: When it's once and when it's all

Before anyone asks, I have a reason for using a smaller picture of Ajani's Pridemate ( currently doesn't have the newest set uploaded). On the older Ajani's Pridemate, it had clarification text, but this one doesn't (I don't know why), but here's where the confusion sets in: if a card says "whenever you gain life, do X", it means do X once. Unless is specifies otherwise, like with Ageless Entity, each time you gain life, regardless of how much you gain, the trigger happens once. Gain 1 life from Angel's Feather? That's one counter on this. Gain 8 life from Elixir of Vitality? This still only gets one counter. If you were to have 2 Angel's Feathers however, this will trigger once for each Feather trigger of lifegain since it's from two separate sources. In short, no matter how much life you gain, things like this will only trigger once per source, not per point.

Morph: The stackless ability

When people talk about split second, they talk about it like there's no way around it: those spells are infallible. Those people, however, don't know Magic rules as well as they think they do. Rule 702.35d states:
"If you have priority, you may turn a face-down permanent you control face up. This is a special action; it doesn't use the stack (see rule 115)"
Since split second specifies that player's can't activate abilities or play spells on the stack, you'd think that would cover morph, right? Well, since it's a "special ability", morph ignores that and is allowed to be performed once the split second spell's caster passes priority (which they have to do even if they think no one can respond to it). Turning a creature face up triggers their ability, meaning that split second doesn't stop that either (it only stops activated abilities). So, next time someone tries to Extirpate your wincon, flip over your Willbender and take theirs out of the game instead.

Copiable Text: What is it?

When a creature is copied, the copy basically has all of the text that's on the original card. It's really that simple. If you copy a land that's been animated for a turn, you get a copy of the land, not the creature. This can definitely lead to some shenangians. My favourite way to abuse this is the following: wait for someone to declare attacks at you (or someone else), wait for everyone to have exhausted their combat tricks, then use Animate Land and Mirrorweave to turn everything into a land until the end of turn. 

I think that's enough learning for today. I hope to do more of these soon, and if you have anything you'd like clarified, please feel free to let me know! 

Stalking Assassin

Stalking Assassin

Holy Urzatron, does this card suck! It's four and tap to tap something else down and then four and tap to kill a tapped thing. If it didn't require tapping it would be very expensive, but at least you could synergize the two abilities on the same turn. Even in Limited this is pretty expensive for what it does (and that''s coming from a guy who just won a prerelease with Nightfire Giant). This is on the low end of "good" in Limited and unusable anywhere else.

Pros: Can tap dudes, can kill tapped dudes
Cons: Abilities don't synergize well, abilities are expensive
Rating: 1/5

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Site Update: Read This First!

I've updated the Read This First! page. Just thought I'd let people know. Here's a penguin:

Quickies 4: Middle of the Road Edition

Time for more quickies to make up for my recent internet issues!

Wind Drake
Wind Drake

It's a Wind Drake. It's the archetype that gave out its name to all other 2/2 flyers for 3. It's pretty cool in Constructed and amazing in Limited.

Pros: 2/2 flyer for 3
Cons: Just a 2/2 flyer for 3
Rating: 3/5


It's a tim card that changes colour. It can be used for cool combat tricks in order to stop colour-based anthems from working or on your own guys to take away other creatures' protection for it's colours. But, it can only hit creatures and only does 1 damage. Not exactly great, but quirky.

Pros: Creature damage that changes colour
Cons: Only hits creatures for 1
Rating: 2/5

Land Leeches
Land Leeches

If we have a term for 2/2 flyers for 3 (Wind Drake), I move that we use this card as the name for all 2/2 first strikers for 3. While not as good as Wind Drake, it's still pretty good in Limited.

Pros: 2/2 first striker for 3
Cons: Just a 2/2 first striker for 3
Rating: 2.5/5

Sanguine Guard
Sanguine Guard

It's a Land Leeches that can regenerate. It is therefore better than a Land Leeches (is that proper grammar?).

Pros: Land Leeches that can regenerate
Cons: Just a Land Leeches that can regenerate
Rating: 3.5/5


I like this card, but can't remember why.

Pros: Cycles 2 cards, usable on opponents
Cons: Discard before draw
Rating: 3.5/5


This card allows a blue deck to swing in with complete abandon. Getting a 3/3 flyer for 3 is pretty great. Giving them defender was necessary since this card would be really powerful otherwise. It's like a better Angelic Favor since you can repeat it.

Pros: 3/3 flying blockers for 3 each
Cons: Only useable as blockers
Rating: 3.5/5

Time Vault

Time Vault

This is a great example of WotC's ability to plan ahead in ye olden days. In a vacuum, this card is okay. You have to trade off a turn in order to get an extra turn later on (basically turning the game into one where each player takes two turns in a row). However, later development broke this card. Things like Clock of OmensCaptain of the MistsVoltaic Key, and Rimewind Taskmage made it so you no longer had to skip a turn in order to untap this. As a result, it's been banned in pretty much everything it can be banned in. That's really it's only downfall: it's only playable in Vintage.

Pros: Lets you take extra turns
Cons: Vintage only
Rating: 5/5

NOTE: Props to Mark Tedin for having fun with this card's art. I really like the idea that, somewhere in the multiverse, there's a couple of aliens who do nothing but make hourglasses that keep time going.

Cavalry Pegasus

Cavalry Pegasus

I was seriously considering putting a couple of these in my mono-white Standard deck, but they got pushed out at the last minute. Even if it's just a one-shot, giving a bunch of your attacking creatures flying is really good. Unfortunately it only affects Humans, but if it gave all your attacking creatures flying, it may be a bit too good. It also has to attack to trigger the mass flight which leaves it open to death from combat. Still, this flying horsey is pretty decent. 

Pros: Gives attacking Humans flying
Cons: Must attack, only affects Humans
Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Soapbox: MTGO

So, recently I've been hearing a lot of praise in my local shop for Magic Online (MTGO). I, for one, am not a fan of the system. I've never actually played MTGO (I'll get to my reason for that in a bit) but I have seen other people people play and I have my qualms about it. So, here are my reasons for why I don't like MTGO (but won't get upset if other people enjoy it).

1) Real money, unreal cards. This is the same issue I have with any online game that basically requires in-game purchases in order to enjoy properly. The $10 cost for the program itself is understandable since it probably took a lot of developer time in order to refine how the program applies the different rules and triggers in real-time. It's the paying for absolutely everything else that I have an issue with. Clearly I'm wrong about people being willing to pay for digital versions of cards, given the popularity of the system, but I just see it as a huge money grab. In my opinion, if you want to play Magic online with different people, I would suggest using a system like Cockatrice or Lackey, which is what I use instead of MTGO. They're both free and give you the entire library of cards. They don't apply the rules for you, but as I point out next, that may not be a bad thing.

2) When everything's done for you, you learn nothing. One thing I've heard a lot of people say is that MTGO is "great for new players since they don't have to remember triggers". This is just a bad idea and a dumb statement. If you do something for someone, even if you explain what you're doing, if you never let them do it for themselves, they are going to forget quite frequently. I've seen a couple people come into real Magic games having learned only on MTGO and get flustered because their opponent isn't pointing everything out to them like the program does for them. It's like netdecking, only with the rules. I'd suggest that people learn the paper game first and then go to MTGO in order to watch how the triggers and interactions they learned on paper function at higher-level play.

3) Without people, Magic loses some of its magic. I don't know how many people this applies to outside of myself, but I think that the people are a big part of the game. Being able to read (or tilt) your opponent can often make the difference in an important game. With MTGO, you don't know whether or not your opponent is smirking or shaking when you drop your bomb. You can't see if she's doing calculations or just stalling for time. You can't hear if he's trash talking you or thinking out loud. That may seem like a minor thing to some, but you put yourself at a major disadvantage if you can't tell what you're opponent is doing/thinking because you can't see them. This is another thing I've seen fluster MTGO players in real life. It becomes so easy to to tilt some of them just but simply talking about the latest spoiler or something similar because they're not used to it.

Like I said before, I'm not going to try and take away your enjoyment of MTGO. If you like it, you like it. These are just reasons I don't think it should be called "better than paper Magic".

EDIT: Never let it be said that I don't admit my mistakes. Apparently, you can trade in a complete set of digital cards from recent sets in for a complete set on paper. While that seems like a good deal, I'm still sticking by my first point, since there are a big problem with this deal: unless you're a set collector (for which this deal still might not be great), you probably don't want a copy of every single card in a set. The question for most people will be: is buying the entire set of Theros worth the Elspeth, Sun's Champion and couple other cards they want? Probably not.

Someone said that buying the entire Theros set on MTGO and trading it in saved them $40 (so, it cost roughly $130US), which isn't too bad, but some people aren't as lucky. You see, some people don't live in the US, so we get charged international shipping rates. So, for this one guy's Theros set, if shipped to Canada for example, add on an extra $27 for shipping, another $3 for GST, and maybe a little bit extra if the Canada Border Services Agent decides to levy taxes against that package. So, instead of saving $40, you've now saved $10 and had to wait about 2-3 weeks (USPS is really slow coming up here plus WotC says it can take up to 10 days to process your redemption ticket) in order to get your complete set. That's just for Canada too. I can't imagine what the duties/taxes going to other countries might be, but I'm sure it makes it even less worth your while. And, unless you're an aforementioned set collector, most of that set will sit dormant in a box while you use the 4-5 cards you actually wanted.

So, if you're an American set collector who only wants to collect the latest sets, this deal is great for you. Otherwise, you're pretty SOL.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Spoiler Tyme: The Best and the Worst

So, in apology for being away for so long (internet issues in small towns are fun), here are my top 5 and bottom 5 picks for M15.

Bottom #5: Flesh to Dust 

I have no doubt that this will be seen in Limited, but it's going to be one of those cards that you don't want too many of because of how much it costs. Outside of Limited, the only decks it'll be run in are those made by new players who don't quite understand tempo or value.

Pros: Kills a dude, prevents regen
Cons: Costs 5, no additional effect
Rating: 1.5/5

Bottom #4: Mass Calcify

I didn't like it when it first came out and I still don't like it now. One of the biggest problems in Standard right now is Elspeth, Sun's Champion and this doesn't deal with it. Control decks won't run it either since it blows up their nice guys. Also, it costs 7. The only place I see this in is a one-of in the sideboard of an Azorius control deck in case they're being raced by some weird non-white deck.

Pros: Semi-boardwipe
Cons: Doesn't kill white, costs 7
Rating: 1.5/5

Bottom #3: Research Assistant
Research Assistant - M15 Spoiler

Merfolk Looter is a good card. Merfolk Looter with a toughness boost would be a better card. Merfolk Looter with a toughness boost that costs 4 to activate is a terrible card. 

Pros: Merfolk Looter with a toughness boost
Cons: Merfolk Looter with a 4 mana activation cost
Rating: 1/5

Bottom #2: Soul of Ravnica

It's 7 mana to maybe draw 5 cards on a somewhat blue-intensive card. So, to get maximum value out of this card, you have to play a card of a different colour each turn, tap out for this, drop another land on turn 7, then tap out again to fill up your hand. And while you're in Magic Christmas Land, you will draw a Nalathni Dragon, a Shichifukujin Dragon, and three Moxes.

Pros: Card draw
Cons: Expensive card draw, really requires multicoloured cards
Rating: 1/5

Bottom #1: Carnivorous Moss-Beast

It costs seven to put a +1/+1 counter on this. SEVEN. I don't think I need to say anything outside of that.

Pros: Plant Elemental Beast
Rating: 0/5

Best #5: Nissa, Worldwaker

Ain't gonna lie, I hate Nissa Revane. I know she's good in elf decks, but I think her scope was too narrow and I don't like her. WotC seems to have gotten the message and made this version as universal as possible. She may only come in with 3 counters (which is why she's not higher on the list), but in a mono-Green deck, she costs 1. Her other plus one creates a issue that demands an answer since 4/4 tramplers can be a problem. Her ult may not directly win you the game that turn, but unanswered it will.

Pros: Potential 1-cost walker, creates tramply problems
Cons: Best in mono-green, ult lets lands get wiped easily
Rating: 4/5

Best #4: Sunblade Elf

Is this the harbinger of Naya zoo coming back into Standard? Maybe, maybe not, but it's still an awesome little creature. It's kind of like Wild Nacatl but less likely to be banned. The other nice thing about it is that it has a relevant ability in case of the game running late. A mass +1/+1 buff may not seem like much, but it's often going to leave you in a much better position in case of matched blockers.

Pros: Basically a 2/2 for 1, relevant late-game effect
Cons: Requires white, just a 2/2 for 1
Rating: 4/5

Best #3: Polymorphist's Jest

This + Circle of Flame will be hilarious. This is going to be a great trick, especially if your opponent thinks they're swinging into a large, but weak field with their creatures. I also like the fact that it changes their colour, which will nullify anthems effect like Hall of Triumph.

Pros: Turns a field into frogs for a turn
Cons: Doesn't stop any additional pumps (such as +1/+1 counters)
Rating: 4/5

Best #2: Radiant Fountain

Some of you may cry "foul" for me putting this seemingly "meh" card so high on the list, but I have my reasons. 2 life may not seem like much, but it's 10% of your initial health, so it's actually more than you think. It also comes into play untapped, which again, my not seem like much, but it keeps you on tempo and allows you to play out your curve nicely.For a land that comes in untapped and gives you an effect, is there anything else you can feasibly ask for?

Pros: Comes in untapped, gains 2 life
Cons: Doesn't produce coloured mana
Rating: 4.5/5

Best #1: Aetherspouts

This is going to be a problem and I believe it will be a bigger issue than Cyclonic Rift for a lot of decks. Why? Well, Rift costs 7 to get the full effect, this costs 5. And while Rift hits everything, it also allows your opponent to replay everything. This doesn't. If I'm swinging in for lethal with 6 creatures, I don't want to be told that I'm going to either have to spend 6 turns getting all those creatures back or never seeing some of those creatures for probably the rest of the game. At least with Rift, I may be able to throw down a couple creatures in my second main phase to try and recover from this. The only weakness of this card is that it requires the creatures to be attacking, which is something that not all creatures do, but for your mana investment, this thing is amazing. Oh, and one more thing, notice the lack of targeting, meaning is eats through hexproof and shroud quite easily.

Pros: Tucks or tops all attacking creatures
Cons: Only hits attacking creatures
Rating: 5/5

Runners-Up (Bad): Kird Chieftain, Blastfire Bolt, Vineweft
Runners-Up (Good): Ajani Steadfast, Garruk, Apex Predator; Military Intelligence