Thursday, January 31, 2013

"How to defeat Wrath of Wife"

"How to defeat Wrath of Wife"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     I love playing Magic cards. And it is normal that my circle of friends also play this fine sport of the mind. Most of us are guys who can be considered to be weekend Magic Warriors, if our bosses go to the golf courses to unwind, we go to weekly Magic tournaments to test our deck building and spell wielding skills with other Planeswalkers in different venues around the country but most of the time a stable table  , some chairs and a well-ventilated area will do to get our weekly fix of the addictive game.

     Of course most magic players are a loveable bunch, we are often smart and funny and deeply intellectual and good looking (some of our girlfriends and wives are choking with laughter as they read this) but in the end we do get our share of the opposite sex , the luckiest among us are those who have girlfriends and wives who also play the game and understand that the game takes the player away from them from time to time. (once a week at least for the tournaments) . These are the kind of women who are independent and tend to do their own things as well with their girlfriends or family on the weekend. They neither get mad or jealous of the time devoted to magic because they are a part of it themselves.

     The problems lies with the normal women who enter our hearts and lives , the ones that don’t understand the thrill of the sport , the ones who do not get how it feels to be in the top 5 or even win a pack after grueling matches. Yes they do not understand how we feel and how we will feel but what they do understand is that this game is taking way too much of our time away from them. what they do understand is that if you weren’t test playing and playing with our buddies then you would have enough time for dates and watching chick flicks like Twilight(thank God it is over!) with them. When you look at Vampires you think about Markov and his bloodline, not these silly sparkly vampires that have grown to be so popular as of late.  So there are often angry texts or texts that seem “nagtatampo” (there is no literal English translation) from them when we try to schedule our matches later in the week. The misunderstandings often stem from the fact that there are more important things to do than magic. The Magic player doesn’t feel that way of course because there is nothing like a good game to let off some steam and to test if your ideas are up to the task of winning.

So what are we to do my fellows?

1) Schedule way ahead....people who are going to a future Grand Prix better have that schedule already blocked off and the budget for it must be stowed away as well. Asking for permission is much easier at this point because it is still such a far off date. This is how you want to do it and not just rush off in the last minute. The Mrs. Or girlfriend won’t like that one bit. Expect a full Volition Reins to be in effect if you do not do this.

2) Find a schedule that works - Check the several Magic Shop websites and group pages on Facebook for tournament schedules. If there is a particular event like a pre-release or Gameday that you want to attend and it seems you could clear you’re schedule on the weekends then you can actually play in these tournaments on different venues and even find the time schedule that fits you. Sometimes you time restrictions prohibit you from playing in tournaments in this case then you could just arrange a couple of hours away in an office pantry with your officemates. Hey, if people take time to go to the gym then you could also take time to play magic. It is just a matter of priorities after all. With proper scheduling then time conflicts can be minimized as much as possible

3) Ninja your way – Make Magic like it was your mistress or GF on the side…you veil her in secrecy ,you tell your significant others that you are on overtime or claim that you have training on a weekend or that your boss needs you even if it is supposedly family time. Pretend like you are so sad or angry when leaving…all the while you have your decks in the back of the car or your backpack as you go. This option requires a lot of skill and nerves of steel to pull off as well as a little bit of cold heartedness so don’t choose this if the other options are still available for you.  This option, once exposed is sure to bring about a permanent Stasis cell status on you and a potential Wrath of Wife Scenario.

4)  Infect them…er…expose them - Some wives and girlfriends will never understand your fascination with the game so the best way is to bring them with you so that they can get a feel of it as well and if that fails then at least allow them to go shopping or roaming in the mall (this is by far the most expensive option but hey you do want to play right). I know a friend of mine from Bataan who does this and I have taken this option as well. Just expect the constant visits because your daughter or wife will give you food or something to drink while you are playing and it kinds of makes up for the fact that you are spending more than what you usually spend when you are playing alone.

5) Assert your Dominance - Of course you could bully your way and assert dominance. “I'm playing magic today and there is nothing you can do to stop me.”  In this scenario you better have a few things already in place:

a.     A way to bring all your cards with you.
b.     A fire proof room that has a firm lock to store them.
c.     An understanding wife who supports madness...because this is madness...
d.     A Girlfriend who doesn't live with you and whom you don’t mind losing to someone who could give her more time

Otherwise please be prepared for the utter destruction of your Card hoard. Wrath of Wife will be in full effect.

     Well these are tips for my fellow magic players so that there won’t be in any more conflicts at home regarding our playing...Always remember that “Wrath of Wife” is real and frightening....It states that ever weakening phrase to planeswalkers all around the world:

"Destroy all cards target player owns"

No hexproof can protect you there buddy so you better get your act straight...

"The Hesitant Hero"

"The Hesitant Hero"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     There once was a Hero and he was good at what he did. He was sent to the far flung reaches of the kingdom to perform tasks that no one else could. He always returned triumphant. He brought glory home to his kingdom. One day the King sought the services of the Hero once more.

"Your Kingdom needs you."

The Hero who grew accustomed to what he did and where he was was hesitant to go but he eventually agreed to the request. He had his questions but he knew his King would not ask of him if there was no great need.

"What does my King require of me?"

 "I bid you to go to the North , for there is a need of your services there. A problem has arisen and only your particular set of skills are up to the task."

The Hero thought of everyone he knew in the kingdom and surely the King might have been mistaken to send him. He asked if he had offended the King in anyway. Sending Him to the North was harsh if not an obvious waste of his capabilities.

"My King , should I not be of more use where I am? Are you saying that my services are no longer needed in this Kingdom that you will banish me somewhere else?"

The King looked sorrowfully at the Hero and he had this to say.

 "Yes , I need you here more than ever but the Kingdom requires that I send you North because you would be of much greater help there."

 The Hero no longer questioned the King because he knew that the decision was final. He prepared for the long journey. Before leaving  , the King Himself handed him a Sealed letter with explicit instructions that he open the letter once he had arrived in the Northern Outpost.

The Hero did so and the letter read:
"My Champion , this may look like a hard task for you but I have faith in the things that you can do.This land is yours by rights and all that dwell here are under your protection. Make this a place that is worthy of our Kingdoms name. I know of the difference that you bring wherever you go and this place needs it more than ever. You will be the shining example that excellence exists wherever you are. Be the leader that these people need. Be their example. Be their guide. Go forth and continue your ways."

The Hero folded the letter solemnly and he nodded once in the direction of his Kingdom as a sign of acceptance. He called forth his men and the work started promptly

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Mind Milling 1: The Instants and Sorceries"

"Mind Milling 1: The Instants and Sorceries"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

    Milling has always been a concept that an elite segment of the magic community consistently plays and there have been traditionally strong cards that are put out in every set to promote this particular concept. Milling cards are normally sorceries , instants  , artifacts , creature or Planeswalker abilities that force a player to put cards from his or her library unto his or her graveyard.

     The term milling comes from the Artifact Milling stone that has eroded libraries 2 cards at a time. Since a players library in Magic is his potential to create action. A representation of a planeswalkers mind.  A constant milling effect deteriorates the players capability to cast spells for offense of defense. And since the library also represents a players mind , once he or she is no longer able to draw cards then that player loses the game. No potential action. No action at all. Empty minds cannot play magic after all.

     Of course this is just another aspect of the game , an alternate win condition that requires a great sense of timing as well as skill to pull off. Another win condition that doesn't require creatures to smash their way through for the victory. And this is where the diversity of magic comes in because some people easily get bored with a lack of variety especially if they have been using a very aggressive deck that wins on a consistent basis. This is the reason why magic has consistently developed alternative win conditions over the years. There is nothing like an alternate win so that long time players would keep on coming back for more. I would like to focus on the more famous Sorceries , Instants and Planeswalkers that promote mill.

   Sorceries and Instants in Modern:

    Milling actually works on standard based decks that is a deck containing 60 cards . For example if you were able to use Glimpse the unthinkable 4 times (which makes a player mill 10 cards per copy!) would mean that 40 of that 60 card deck would go to the grave in no time. Add to the fact that in Magic you have an initial draw of 7 cards and 1 card draw at the beginning of each of your turns. So in doing the math on this (assuming that there is no missed land drop for you and that you can draw or are already holding the 4 copies of Glimpse the Unthinkable) your opponent will now have 51 cards in the grave and only 9 more to go before their figurative mind becomes blank. All of this could possibly happen on your 4th turn too. Granted it has to be a "God Draw" (perfect draw) and your opponent has no way to counter you then all you need to do is wait 9 more turns or the player can already concede the game because all his game pieces are beyond his reach.

    There is one classic combination that a lot still want to pull off even today. This is a 2 card combo involving the blue card Traumatize and black card Haunting Echoes. It has been the go to combination for a lot of successful Mill decks. Traumatize lets you mill half of your opponents deck(imagine doing this in EDH!) and the Haunting Echoes removes all the non-land cards in your opponents graveyard along with all the copies in his or her library of the said card as well. This ensures that all your opponents combinations and well thought out plans all go exiled as well as their hopes of pulling them off. Once this combination is achieved most players would rather scoop up their cards and try harder in the next game. Let us just say that when it hits you , it hits you really hard.

     Archive trap is an all time favorite of mine. I have seen it in action and the look on a players face when this card is pulled off is priceless. Archive Trap flushes 13 cards per pop but it has to be triggered in a certain way. Players need to search their libraries. The priceless play I saw was when someone played an evolving wild , used it to search a basic land and his opponent had  3 Archives traps in his hand (which was not unheard of) that player found 39 of his cards in graveyardville in one response. Watching the panic on that guys face was priceless. 39 cards milled on turn one! Insane. Another situation where scooping up cards and shuffling for the next game is the order of the day.

     Mind Funeral is another fan favorite at one black , one blue and one colorless mana this has caused a lot of anguish for opposing players. It just states that a player needs to put cards from his or her library unto the graveyard until 4 lands are put there. Normally if all the lands are bunched up in the bottom of a library it takes out all the effective pieces of that deck and leaves just land to be drawn in the successive turns. And if the first barrage doesn't work then there are 3 more where that came from.

Milling the Planeswalker way:

    Another way of winning the mill way is to have the original Jace Beleren use his ultimate planeswalker ability. The ultimate ability allows 20 cards to go down the drain never to be seen again. Of course this strategy has to be supported by other cards otherwise it would be hard to pull off.It is rather easy to run over an undefended Jace on the battlefield. Jace really does a number on your foes in his other reincarnations as well. The Jace , Memory Adept , mills you for opponent for 1 card and allows you to draw one card as well with his first ability but he also Mills your foe with his second ability...10 cards at a time and all possibly at turn 5. Jace the Mind Sculptor has the Ultimate ability that makes a player exchange his library and hand. Most players would wait until their foes have an empty hand and pop them with this. Killing them on the next turn. What a headache Jace tends to give everyone. Literally.

The Miller in Standard:

     The recent Innistrad block has given Millers a lot of new cards to toy with like Increasing Confusion , Thought scour , Dream twist and Chill of foreboding as well as the enchantment Curse of the Bloody tome. These are among the strongest milling spells in standard. Increasing confusion and Dream twist also has the flashback mechanic and in the case of Increasing confusion mills twice as much when cast from the grave. Even with a creature-less deck in standard this can be very bloody indeed.

M13 also brings Mindsculpt that mills 7 cards. Now that is a card almost as strong as Glimpse the Unthinkable but this one is found in the common slot and can be readily bought at any store.

These are just a few of the Instants and Sorceries and Enchantments that Millers prefer however for those who want to have an aggressive component in the mix there are creatures that would gladly smash face for you and mill your opponents as well. Check out Mindmilling 2 as I talk about these awesome creatures.


Monday, January 28, 2013

The Shapeshifting Land - Thespian's stage

The Shapeshifting Land - Thespian's stage
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

     There are cards that make you wonder and then there are cards that make you wonder what they can change into. Well for Thespian's stage  , apparently into any land you want.As a land it can come into play and give you colorless mana but with an added activated cost of 2 colorless mana and a tapping it can become a copy of any target land in play which retains this ability of copying other lands. Well let us take a look at some of the nifty things our shape shifting land can change into....

The Thespian's stage can become...
...a part of the Urzatron...
...another Cloudpost...
...a Plains to trigger Emeria , The sky ruin during your upkeep...
...a terrain generator...
...another Cathedral of War to increase +1/+1 for creatures via the Exalted mechanic... additional artifact land...for affinity decks...
...another Vesuva...just in case you want to copy something else...
...another never get tired of having extra of those...
...another Inkmoth Nexus...
...a legendary land destroyer because only one can exist on the battlefield...

     There are  many more cards that I might not have mentioned here but the possibilities are staggering and its always important to have a back up of something as important as these lands. Imagine blowing up your opponents legendary lands like Boseiju or Urborg , Tomb of Yawgmoth or Serra's Sanctum  , essentially throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of their plans.

     In a limited sense the advantage that your opponents might have will also belong to you with Thespian's stage in play. The best time to copy an opponents land is at the end of your turn so that you can use Thespian's stage at the beginning of your turn. Thespian's stage is the Mistform Ultimus of lands. The question now is how you will use it. So much abuse. So little time.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Food and Love

Food and Love
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     Food. I have always loved it. I always want to try new ones as I get along in this life of mine. I have been blessed to have been in the most expensive places and also in the humblest of places. Food for me is about the simple joy of the experience and a part of that experience is feeling the joy of the person who has prepared the food for you. 

     As far as I can remember Saturdays were the greatest days for me since I would get to wake up early , watch Saturday Morning cartoons and my mom would be there to make me hotdogs or pancakes or basically anything I wanted. No school and then sleep or play in the afternoons where warm milk and cookies were the order of the day. Until this day I always look back to those days whenever I want to relax. I look back at those times when my mom was healthy and she was always in the kitchen at least on the weekends. 

     When my mother-in-law would cook for us , it was always a treat , she knew how to turn simple porridge to first class porridge , simple Chicken Curry to first class Chicken Curry , it was like eating in a first class hotel without the accompanying chefs shouting at each other. I look back at those times and wish things were better.

     When my wife would cook (when the mood struck her). Aven and I would enjoy delicious heapings of her ultra cheesy Spaghetti and slices and slices of her peach and mango pudding ref cake. Aven and I would feel loved because she would never cook for anyone else but us and as I told her before , feeding spaghetti to Aven from Mcdonalds or Jollibee is good but nothing compares to the feeling of your own child bragging how Good your spaghetti tastes like to her playmates or classmates or even when your own child asks for you to cook because she just misses it. My wife got the idea when Aven started doing these things to her.

     When my brother would wake up from sleep , half drunk at times and he would ask if I have eaten anything. He would look inside the fridge and fry anything in there. He would warm the food and prepare it. He wouldn't cook it but he will always prepare it for you.

     With all these people, you could literally feel the love and the care that they put in the food that they make or in my brothers case heat. They have pride that you will enjoy your meal and that you will have great memories of the blessings that you will partake. This is the reason why I will never knowingly eat at a place where I know Chefs are getting shouted at and abused by their employers. Food is a celebration and if the one preparing it feels pressured to just come up with food as a part of their job then that takes aways so much of the experience for me. 

I would rather eat simple porridge in a market place stand where you know people are smiling at you as they hand you a bowl. 

I would rather eat at home even if its simple "Tuyo" and "Sinangag". You feel the love in every cup of rice and every bite of cured fish. Food is all about the love after all. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

“One day in Carriedo”

“One day in Carriedo” 
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

I recently went to Carriedo to renew my NBI clearance (Feb 11 , 2009). I went there very early since the whole process can take as fast as 5 minutes , if you were first in line ( at least that’s how it was last 2005).

At the 2nd floor of the building I was met by an old guy who meant well but gave me some weird quick advice about the NBI clearance process.  This is what I understood of what he said: “Since I have a fairly common name, which means a sure hit , If I got a positive match here in the main office database , I would be processed for 3 days! ( the exclamation mark was in my head). However if I went to the Mall Renewal Kiosks and got a hit there , I would be advised to go back here in the Main Office and Lo and Behold my Clearance will be ready for pick up tomorrow. The old guy was scratching his balding head as he explained this all to me in a matter of seconds. He said that he couldn't explain that particular oddity in the system either. The Conspiracy Theorist in me thought it might be a ploy to get more people in the mall Kiosks but I just dismissed it since the guy was after all genuinely helping me out. I like things like that.

Since it was 7:30am and the malls opened at 10. I decided to walk around Carriedo st. which is lined by shops at both sides , street merchants crowded the sidewalks but as a credit to the present Mayor (Lim) they have now refrained from selling their wares on  the middle of the street. I guess they have no problem with staying on the sidewalk where they can just effectively block people from walking.
Needing a new pair of formal shoes for my new job (my wife said that my new company takes its dress code policy very seriously , “they give you 10 lashes” I remember her saying  , for being not in proper attire. It  reminded me of high school where I was doing all the whipping) I was out for the hunt. My old pair of shoes got really , really tired walking up and down hospital corridors for a whole year and it seriously decided on quitting on me.( a few weeks later I had my old pair fixed in Mr. Quickee or as the ad on the  MRT said …..Hitit…Miiister Quickee…. and we “patched” our history together)

So I went to the store called Carriedo Shoe Store , hmmm , A shoe store in Carriedo named Carriedo Shoe store , didn't waste a lot of brain cells thinking up that one. Anyway , as I walked in I heard a conversation between a woman who appeared to be the Chinese owner of the store and one of her sales ladies about how tough it is to get a job nowadays and that people need to do 2 jobs for a single pay. How true. Some of us even have to do 5 jobs for the pay of one.

In a scene  I would always remember in that shop I saw a little girl buy a pair of tatty shoes for 10 pesos. The look on her face was one of happiness. She didn’t seem to notice that the leather on her newly bought shoes were falling off everywhere ( the same state as my favorite pair of shoes who is now unhappy with retirement at my shoe rack). She really didn’t care if the soles were really thin. All I could see on her face was joy and contentment. Maybe she thought , Cool! Now I have a pair of shoes , I don’t have to walk bear foot to school anymore. I realized that most people who can afford everything forget these simple joys. The lesson that not having anything can teach: The mundane becomes amazing. Every little gift is treasured.
      As I walked further I realized that for the first time Carriedo leads directly to Quiapo Church ( a shame since I have spent 4 years in High School in Lope De Vega St. , One LRT station away. Im 32 and I didn’t even know that the church by the end of the street , where Old women can be found peddling Images of the Sto. Nino along side abortifacients ( Cytotec pare! Nahilo ka naman dun sa term ko) , necklaces made of wood  ,Religious or otherwise was indeed the Famous Quiapo church ( star of many telenovelas!). There was even the occasional fortune teller . I was really tempted to have my palm read just for the heck of it but I was sure I was going to need my money elsewhere soon so I overcame temptation. To be honest I just had a 500 pesos loan from my mom who would probably want in on my first salary( whenever that would be at this rate).

I felt pity for these old women , they looked really tired and resigned to the life that they have. Despite this they kept on smiling and working. I guess I’m going to bear that in mind as I start work. Im going to smile and work hard no matter how tough it gets.

I entered the church  and with a Gregorian Chanting ambience was promptly transported to another place and time. An ethereal place despite the chaos of peddlers and traffic around it. People were silent in Reverence. Silent in their prayers for their problems. I somewhat felt at peace with the place though I was never Catholic. I pictured myself as a weary traveler in olden times getting through the crowds with their smells and twisted bodies until I get to a place where I can breathe again. It was this place. This Holy Place in the middle of Lies. 

This small walk enlightened me and as I stepped out of the church  , I saw the whole street of Carriedo in its entirety , from these cobbled steps up to Isetann. I realize that the world is chaotic , the world is sad and full of people who are also sad  , people who despite everything do not stop to live out their lives.

I felt a pang of pity at the old women there , for most of them , this is the only thing they can be until they die and it seems so final being trapped in a lot like this.

I pondered on these as I walked back toward the LRT on my way to Grand Central.



Writers note: Written in the Jollibee in Carriedo station almost 4 years ago on February 11 , 2009. A retrieved archive that may have never seen the light of day if  I weren't looking. I was. So here it is. It didn't seem like a blog at that time but it was. 

Watching The Armies Rise - Immortal Servitude

Watching The Armies Rise - Immortal Servitude
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

     The Pre-release is almost upon us and the first waves might be playing the midnight rounds tonight and having a good time at it too. I wouldn't be much of a reanimator if i did not spotlight the sets most potent mass grave raising card. Enter Immortal Servitude , a card that the Orzhov syndicate has made through countless contracts that assures the binding of a multitude of souls in servitude to them.Its powerful yes , but there are things to consider when playing with this power.

     When playing with a spell like Immortal servitude you need to consider the mana cost of the creatures that you are putting into your deck to maximize its powerful effect. At a hybrid cost of 3 White or Black mana and X this "Mass Zombify" effect returns any number of creatures from your graveyard with the exact mana cost that you paid for in X. If you paid 2 mana which is ideal you could return a massive weenie army into play. Potentially that is the full effect that you want but this will never happen or has low probability in decks that has varying mana costs for creatures. So be wary of your mana curve but sometimes all it takes to win is 2 or 3 solid creatures so make sure that you have several sets in the decks you are playing. 

     This card is actually a perfect fit for black and white , A black or white weenie deck such as that of Knights can reap the benefits of this sorcery. It offers resiliency and recovery after a mass removal spell decimates the battlefield. It can also benefit decks like Infect since decks like these are almost always reliant on creatures. Without creatures then there is no threat of Infection. Always remember the mana cost of your cards. The most efficient creatures in Magic are always in the 2 or 3 mana costs. 

     Several comes into play effects can also be achieved with this Immortal servitude. Imagine casting it for X costing 3 and you return a set of Eternal Witness in play and return 4 spells in your graveyard to your hand. You could have anything you want back and it would be there to be used again. Imagine all the fatty creatures at the 3 mana slot that you want to play with. You are now getting the idea. 

     Of course this is all at a weenies level of casting but after Gatecrash has finally arrived Cards Like Crypt Ghast and Liliana of the Dark realms can actually allow you to have ridiculous amounts of mana in standard. Let us say you are able to cast this spell at X the cost of 7. Who do you think should we put back into play? should be easily the crowd favorites. 5  Primordials that have the mana cost of 7. Not only will you be getting bodies for offense and defense. Their comes into play abilities will have the same effect as lighting up a barn full of fire works. Nothing short of fantastic.

     So with the right number of mana cost spells and mana producers Immortal servitude is sure to be a card to be included in a lot of control decks.Watch the armies rise but be careful because those armies might not be your own. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Baconization Commences

Baconization Commences
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

     The world is conspiring to baconize me. Yup , you read it right , the world is currently conspiring to make a total bacon out of me. A day before my only Hypertensive attack in recent years , I simply ate the bacon part of  of a KFC Double Decker. I woke up with a big headache and a BP of 150 / 110. I know it wasnt the bacons fault. It was all me but after taking medicine and I was on my feet again the other day.

     The conspiracy was again in my face. My brother who checked on me the previous night before wrote on one of my statuses that breakfast was already served down stairs. And Lo and Behold , it was bacon. Just what I needed for my BP I said. Well since there was no breakfast , I saw the little bacon bits that I assumed was left by Aven (My daughter) and Nadine (My Little sister) as their breakfast for school. I came down to the first floor to say hello to my mom and she had a full plate of bacon that she only took 3 strips from and was now handing to me. I know that this day I will be baconized. I just knew that after eating these lovely , crisp pieces of meat they will be like the Borg in my stomach. "We are the Bacon" they would start saying to my stomach and all its contents. "Resistance is futile." 

       "You will be baconized" they would say in that metallic choral voice and they would then start their short process of Baconization and pretty soon I will be consumed as I have consumed them. I will be bacon and soon all mankind will be bacon. There is only one logical explanation for all of these events. Baconization will occur and there is nothing that we can do to stop it.  At least I have accepted my fate. I will be a bacon soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blowing things up with Green - Sylvan Primordial

Blowing things up with Green - Sylvan Primordial (And side kick Terastodon)
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.     

     As people might have already guessed I am a reanimator. I love getting things into my graveyard and and them getting them into play much earlier than they should be entering the battlefield. Now I also love blowing things up and many matches with my Skullbriar Golgari EDH deck features an early Terastodon Reanimation that destroys three lands for an opponent and delays their mana development for a lot of turns. Some people might not enjoy this in EDH but those same people are thankful for the 3 3/3 tokens that I leave for them when I destroy something. I love my Terastodon but Gatecrash has unleashed a monstrosity that is shaking my overall love for this big elephant. 

     Enter Sylvan Primordial , while I am a big fan of all the Primordials the black and green ones are the closest to my heart. As one of my friends said this is an auto-include in my decks and who wouldnt want this big lug in a reanimating golgari EDH deck right? It is simply screaming to be played in EDH where its comes into play ability can be maximized. Consider the turn that it comes in via an Animate dead. Each opponent gets one Non-creature permanent kaboomed out of existence. That includes Lands , Planeswalkers , Artifacts and Enchantments. And to add salt into injury , unlike the Terastodon that can give your opponents a 3/3 elephant token that can bite you in the rear in the later part of the game , this Avatar allows you to fetch a forest card instead for each non-creature permanent that you would destroy. So if you had 4 other players with you and you cast an early Sylvan primordial , it blows up 4 non creature permanents and you get 4 tapped forest unto the battlefield which you could use on your next turn to cast even more nasty creatures. With a sacrifice outlet(Nantuko Husk) and a way to recur(Sheoldred) this creature , then there are no permanents that are safe (at least on your opponents side of the board) and you might just as well empty all of the forests in your EDh deck into play.Its nice to have Reap and Sow on a stick.

     One other great thing that I like is that Sylvan Primordial has the Reach ability. It can destroy angels in a hurry. It can also be fetched by a Mwonvuli Tracker.Granted it goes on the top of your library after searching for it but it is good to know where to go when you are looking for it. You can even cast a summoning trap so that this creature comes into play at the end of your turn. You destroy and damage on your next turn. Delicious.

     I am comparing Terastodon and Sylvan Primordial now but they are both going to coexist in my deck. Each has their own advantages and I will be damned if I fail to see that these two will help each other out.Kinda like Lebron  and D-wade in Miami.Chris Bosh can be the Acidic Slime in the trio. Another creature that I love to have in hand or in play. I love blowing things up and the more creatures I have with me that can do it the better. Try it out , it relieves a lot of stress. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Shark Curiosity - Where is Big Jim?

A Shark Curiosity - Where is Big Jim?
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     When I was way younger (4th year High school if I remember correctly) my Uncle Rey and I went on a trip to Boracay. Well this is starting out to be like one of those trips where you socialize with a lot of girls and wake up drunk and naked. Only I'm not the social type and my excitement in going to Boracay lay more in seeing things rather than getting drunk somewhere on the beach. Forgive me , I was young once.

     As it turns out Boracay is only an hour boat ride from Tablas Island from Looc. So after an hour ride by jeep to Looc , we finally got to talk to a boatman who would take us. Most of them were hesitant because of the strong swells that day but mostly for another reason. We wouldn't particularly know until we were in open sea.

     The local boatmen then began turning to the side of the island and stuck close there for awhile , observant as I was I asked why we did this , aside from the thrill of having dangerous waves that might smash us to shallow rocks there has to be some other way to navigate.So I asked. The boatmen were spooked of a big shark in the area that they called Big Jim. They usually caught of sight him in the open waters near this place and it has been known to hit boats really hard. They didn't tell me of any casualties that were credited to this shark (maybe not to spook me but there was that hint that the Shark did kill someone) but they did tell me that if we ever saw it , it would be as large as the whole boat we were currently sitting in. And that would be bigger than 8 feet. The Katig boat I was travelling in didn't seem like it was a big match for Jaws anytime soon but there was a weird fascination in me about seeing it. I went up to the small roof (mostly because I was about to throw up lunch and breakfast) when it was really time to go to open waters. I wanted to catch a glimpse of this shark. I wanted to see if the thing the boatmen were afraid of was real. what I saw were big waves that were rocking us really good. Good throw up motions. No fin breaking from the water at any other point.

     In the end I saw more of my food on the ocean rather than the big shark after succumbing to the really violent waves. We never talked about it and until this day I have never heard of Big Jim ever again. I wonder if its still out there between the islands of Romblon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

So what will I destroy now? - Merciless Eviction

So what will I destroy now? - Merciless Eviction
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     White and Black in Magic have always been at odds with each other. These are the colors that magic attributes to religious themes , the colors of good and evil though it doesn't necessarily mean that white is good and vice versa. Of all the differences that these colors clash in there is one thing that they are traditionally good at which is mass removal. White usually has the upper hand in this department with a lot of mass removal spells ranging from 4 mana and up. Black has been catching up in that department. So what happens when you combine these two colors to form a mass removal spell? You get something like Merciless Eviction.

     It is implied in the flavor text of the card that this writhing mass of white and black mana is the work of the Obzedat , the Ghost council that has ruled the Orzhov guild for the longest time. It really is a power spell and  well  , having another mass removal in your arsenal is great and is always welcome but this one comes with several limitations that can be good or bad. At 1 Black , 1 white and 4 colorless mana cost this is the equivalent to the mana cost of a Planar cleansing. While Planar Cleansing does as it name suggests , clearing all Non-land permanents in one fell swoop by destroying them. Merciless Eviction actually seems more merciful than the former mass removal. This Black/White removal offers a more calculating version that can leave your advantages on the battlefield while removing your opponents best assets. Let us say you have tons of creatures already in play but your opponent has a Gideon , Champion of Justice that has gained a lot of loyalty counters from all your creatures. You know that your opponent can use Gideons ultimate skill soon and leave you with nothing but air on the battlefield. So in response you just cast Merciless Eviction , choosing to remove/ exile all Planeswalkers in play. Your creatures can now attack  and you have a chance to win the game.  

     This  option of removing or exiling just a type of card in play is something that Planar Cleansing does not offer. This is true for Planeswalkers , Enchantments  , Artifacts and Creatures as well. The versatility of choosing those that can still give you an advantage over those that you would rather be without. The word Exile also offers a great advantage to you since there are so many reanimator decks in standard that have enough resiliency to mount a come back and win the day. Using Merciless Eviction since it exiles rather than destroys creatures nullifies the Undying Mechanic , removes potential targets for Unburial rites because creatures go back to the void and It can also defend against Immortal Servitude , a card that can potentially bring back all the little weenies from the grave or if your opponent has enough mana , a fatty army.

    Of course if you are faced with all these things at once from your opponents side of the battlefield and feel that Merciless Eviction isn't just enought you could also add or board in a Planar Cleansing for good measure , they are both available in standard in any case and also fits quite nicely in the Orzhov scheme of things. Since Orzhov decks seem to be slow , crowd control is the order of the day. Choosing to be patient with the Extort Mechanic and then reanimating a bunch of creatures en masse later on seems to be the tactic being encouraged. White / Black will always be a strong combination because there are always methods to remove obstacles in their way. Merciless Eviction is now one of them.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Its not that complicated:bakit di pa sasakupin ng mga alien ang daigdig sa 2012 - habang title , gandang sequel...

Its not that complicated:bakit di pa sasakupin ng mga alien ang daigdig sa 2012 - 
habang title , gandang sequel...
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

     In Eros Atalias Sequel to Ligo na U , Lapit na Me , We again encounter Intoy who is on the rebound after the loss of Jen in the first book. It seems like our Boy Intoy still has a streak for attracting the attractive but in this story he takes on Tina  , the HR Manager who seems to have an interest in him. This reads like a Japanese Manga where the unlikely lover boy who is shown everything  , may it be interest or skin to the point of nudity but never tries to assume that the lady in the story is attracted to him. Of course , anyone can actually see the attraction but there are twists here that would keep you hooked until the last page of the book.

     Several characters like Benson (who explains the title...with Illustrations too) return in this book and one other character that has been missing in the first book as well. And when they meet , well thats for you to read. Intoy and his observations are still funny , still practical , still different. People would like and hate him at the same time. Just goes to show how different people can be. Intoy is content to fuck the norm and he doesnt think that he is different. He just thinks everyone else is differenr or stupid. The thing with having thought processes like him is that he still falls victim to the L-word. A confusing mix of the L-word in this sequel. A delicious yet confusing scenario that most men would only dream of. Intoy is lucky but he isnt lucky when it comes to keeping the ones that he wants to keep. A 3rd book might be in the making. We will keep on watching.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pointing to the culprit and making them pay...A Murder Investigation

Pointing to the culprit and making them pay...A Murder Investigation
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

       My playgroup mates in Team Virulence know that I love playing with Aura's , Enchantments that can attach to creatures and give them boosts or abilities. Usually I am in the hunt for cards that can help my Infect decks but once in awhile I come across cards like Murder Investigation. At one colorless mana and one white mana and at Uncommon too it is an easy shoo in for some decks who want to put out creature tokens...and fast.It is also going to be effective in Selesnya token decks that usually produce 3/3 or 8/8 fatties. Nobody gives a fuss about losing a token especially if there will be more afterwards. Imagine if you can attach one of these to a Thragtusk , it attacks , your opponent deals with it by blocking or killing the end of your battle phase you would have 5 1/1 soldier tokens and a 3/3 beast token...assuming of course that you would attack with these you would be dealing 8 points of damage on the next turn.

      Murder investigation also makes your creature "unblockable" in a way because people would assess if it is worth blocking. They would rather have it deal damage early on because they don't want to give you any more token creatures to clog the battlefield as blockers or potential aggressors on the ensuing turns. The dream is to get one of these on a Worldspine wurm...which dies or gets sacrificed to something...that's 15 1/1 soldier tokens and 3 5/5 Wurm tokens in play. The Timmy in me is salivating at the thought because if my opponent doesn't have mass removal in his hand then it is good bye on the next turn. 

       There are a lot of ways to abuse this token producing aura , you could also put it on a creature that starts out little but because of the other auras that you could attach to it, becomes huge , Like a Priest of Norn that  has an Angelic Destiny. This puts a lot pressure on your opponents since they can either have 5 Infect damage from a creature who has Vigilance or just give you 5 tokens. In which case they would delay damage but still be at a disadvantage.

     Normally an aura heavy deck wont be able to recover if its lone creature gets sacked or doom bladed out existence , with Murder Investigation though you have a chance at having Soldier tokens aim their swords at your creatures murderer and bring justice to him or her...swiftly. I would probably put in 3 of these in one of my current White/Green decks just for fun. You can never have enough tokens who are crying out for justice on the battlefield on any given day. 

My Little Rat Problem

My Little Rat Problem 
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     I have a Rat problem. Yeah , the problem that doesn't stem from having helpful rats like Mickey or the Chef rat from Ratatouille. Its the kind of problem where a rat enters my room and makes it look like a murder scene. My room look likes a tornado hit it when I come in in the mornings and its not the most welcome sight after all you want to do is lie back , read a little and then go to sleep. I have to clean stacks of my Magic cards that have fallen down , I have to look if there were any chewed things and if my little friend "dropped" something somewhere. Luckily this rat seems to carry his "stuff" with him like a good camper.The problem is he still makes a mess in my room and I want an end to it.

    This rat or these rats ( I'm not really sure if its a pack or just one smart rat doing a lone wolf mission) appear in my room and just cause havoc and they seem to just slip through the walls. Consider that there are only 2 possible entries into my room , my door and the old aircon area. Now for obvious reasons I made a little experiment , I locked my door. The buggers still got in somehow and I don't think they can go in the old aircon area because that thing has a grate on it and there are no holes there ( I do know that rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter). So unless they can dismantle the old air conditioning unit and reassemble it when they go out I am at  total loss as to how the hell they got in my room. Its liked a sealed room murder. Where is Detective Conan when you need him?

I have not seen any rat in my room per se but I do know that the mess in here cant be caused by ghosts , those I can see and there are none here. I have seen the rats in the other house and I don't really want them up here in the 3rd floor. Those things are huge. As big as a cat and they seem to have a knack for running past you as you are trying to walk. They think they are part of the family! You cant deal with them traditionally too because:

1. They scare off cats
2. They don't stick to fly paper...they literally carry them off...
3. They scoff at Mouse traps and know whats going on.
4. They know what poison is...obviously one of them studied it and gave a field manual to the others.

So right now the rats have the reign and all I can do is defend. My castle is besieged and who will I turn to?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Gatecrash Keyrunes...A Comparison...

The Gatecrash Keyrunes...A comparison...
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

Since this is the first time I am writing about keyrunes let us just establish what they are. These are artifacts that can be cast for 3 colorless mana. They are essentially mana fixers for the guilds that they are supposed to represent , the Boros Key rune for example produces Red or White mana because that is the guild colors of the Boros Legion. They also have an added bonus of being activated to turn into a creature that has characteristics of the guilds they are aligned with.For example is the Gruul Keyrune who's creature form has trample because that is a classic ability in the Gruul Clan.

Now that we have that out of the way , we can get into the comparisons of the five keyrunes that are appearing into the next Magic:The Gathering expansion, Gate Crash. The guilds that are reintroduced are the Boros , Dimir , Gruul, Orzhov and Simic along with their accompanying Keyrunes. 

The Keyrunes will see a lot of play in Limited formats as well as EDH. Who wouldn't want a mana fixer and an extra creature that can evade mass removal (Most of them are still at Sorcery speed) right? Right. So which keyrune appears to be the strongest in this batch? Well it depends on the artifacts use and its synergy with its guild. Let us look at 3 categories. Aggressiveness , Defense and X-factor:Ability.

With  3/2 and 2/3 respectively the Gruul and Simic Keyrunes contain the most offensive power. In standard they can be of most help to aggressive decks as finishers. Trample for the former makes it a great target for the Bloodrush mechanic that the Gruul has been given this time around. Damage can still be maximized even if it is blocked. The Simic Keyrune also has the added feature of being hexproof , saving it from spot removal and allowing you still use it as a mana source the following turn. Mostly this keyrune would be activated to use for the Evolve mechanic. The Simic are a much stronger guild now it and it can use a lot of these creatures for the Evolve that it needs.


The 1/1 Soldier with Double strike and 1/4 Thrull with lifelink that the Boros and Orzhov Keyrunes change into are perfect for defense. The 1/1 creatures kills off any pesky 1/1 rush type creature (Ie. Goblins) that tries to deal early damage to you. The very slow Orzhov guild which deals damage mostly via the Extort mechanic needs bodies to block off aggressive creatures in the early game until it has all its pieces in place. This Orzhov keyrune can also evade Merciless Eviction if the player uses it to exile all creatures. So the Thrull gains life and defends well too.


The Dimir Keyrune has the great distinction of being the only Creature in this mix that can be unblockable. At 2/2 it is a solid hit in the end games especially if there are already several of them in play. Unblockable damage is really a pain in the backside since it is pretty hard to deal with even if you have a massive creature army already on the board. The Dimir have always been sneaky and it even shows in their Keyrune.

So all in all enjoy the keyrunes. Use them wisely. Abuse them wisely. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Jaded...A look at some Call Center veterans

The Jaded...A look at some Call Center veterans
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

It really is important to surround yourself with the right people. Recently I was able to chat with one of my favorite cousins. She had been training in a call center for the past month and she is obviously surrounded by a lot of jaded people.

The call center industry has been around for a long time now and it continues to grow and a lot of the people who have been involved in it have been cycling through a lot of centers , those who cannot make the jump from agent to the next level often become bitter or stressed out by the fact that they cannot seem to get better pay. So people who are not normally negative by nature tend to have a negative attitude by the end of the month or year simply because they are infected by those who are actually jaded about the entire process of promotion or pay increase.

You can always know the call center veterans , they are the people who seem to have a say on almost everything from tasks to Team leaders , to selection of team members to even the way they are paid. Don't get me wrong it is the veterans who actually help you grow and be wiser but there are some who seem to carry such a heavy load , loads full of negativity that no one can counter or in the case of newbies , cannot counter because they literally don't know anything yet.

The veterans always have catch phrases like in my previous center.. or yung TL ko dati...before saying something particularly nasty about their current center or current TL. when talking to people like these you always need to temper your views. The things they say cannot be discounted but should be taken with a little grain of salt. A little bit of hesitation because not everything they say may apply to your current situation , company or boss. Of course there are changes and there are differences. Not all bosses are the same , not all centers or processes are the same. Its that constant negativity that is the same in all counts so it is best to stay with people who are open minded about things , those who have a can do attitude. yes in the end it is all about the money but it has to be something more than just that over all or you would easily feel burned out.

Negativity is infectious but so is doing the right thing. Di corny ang maging maayos sa trabaho , di corny ang makita mo na appreciated ka ng mga bosses mo at nakikita mo na may difference ang ginagawa mo. You are holding yourself back if you surround yourself with people who keep on telling you that doing your job is not worth it or that moving up is just a lot more work for a lot less pay. Things wont happen if you dont push yourself to do more. Mediocrity is all that happens and later you might find yourself like these people , cycling through centers , mouthing off like there was no tomorrow because they never really tried doing anything that would benefit those around them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

"I reanimate you , I reanimate me...a look at Sepulchral Primordial up close..."

"A pull so strong...It pulls up other creatures"

 "I reanimate you , I reanimate me...a look at Sepulchral Primordial up close..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

          After previewing the awesome Lord of the void which calls creatures from an opponents library . Black has another baddie that summons creatures into play from all your opponents graveyards and makes them your own. Yes , ALL of your enemies will have to give tribute to you when you plop down this creature. This is none other than the Sepulchral Primordial. I thought the other Primordials were awesome but here is a primordial made after my  very own necromantic heart.

In a 5/4 body for 5 colorless mana and 2 black mana it wont be so hard to imagine a copy of it being sneaked in at the earliest possible time in EDH decks to gain control of creatures that would be advantageous to a particular players cause. In order to play around it a player has to think of enough spot removals to fill the enemies graveyard with dead creatures or discard spells that allow them to gain control of a creature even before it is cast. Black has always been the color well known for spot removal and discard effects. Now more than ever these specialties are being more enhanced.

Imagine being able to force an opponent to discard a Sepulchral Primordial from his or her hand. After which  you decide to play your own copy of Sepulchral Primordial. The resulting effect would be nothing short of spectacular , assuming you have 5 active players mid to late in the game and you have graveyards teeming with all sort of creatures that have died due to battle damage or mass removal, And assuming that you have 2 Sepulchral Primordials dropping on the battlefield then you would have a total of 8 creatures (2 per opponent) coming back under your control , so you have bodies to block or attack with and if they have comes into play abilities like the whole line of Primordials that have been released then its going to be at least a fun night for you.(No one ever said you were playing fair right?)

There is nothing like a primordial targeting another primordial and putting that other primordials abilities to good use. Mainly as a deterrent or another form of control over the casters opponents. I might have been tired as hell when I came home but as soon as I saw this card I just had to write about it. The comborific tastiness seems endless and it is something that you could do in standard too!

    A creature so strong that it can reanimate other creatures. Its a very abusive combo just waiting to happen. In partnership with another mono black creature called Crypt Ghast you can supply enough mana for it to come back very soon or even hard cast it when the timing is right. In combination with Sheoldred , The whispering one you have a Sepulchral Primordial potentially coming back again and again during your upkeep. Assuming you can sacrifice it to a Nantuko Husk or in current standard you could use Undercity Informer , which mills your opponents library , increasing the creature pile in his or her graveyard even more. Sucking more of your opponents creatures on your side.  Returning every upkeep and siphoning off all of your opponents graveyards prevents him or her from utilizing a potential army while enhancing your own position on the battlefield. This creature is going to be so much fun to play with. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Torture Bus

Torture Bus
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     Kadalasan ngayon pag umuuwi ako napapansin ko na parami na ng parami ang mga bus na walang pakialam kung kompartble pa ba ang mga pasahero nila sa mga upuang nakalagay sa bus nila. May mga ilang linya ng bus na para bang sinukat ang mga upuan para sa mga taong sadyang di kataasan. yung mga tipong bawal kang umupo kung mga 5'3 ka na. Sigurado tatama ang tuhod mo sa kaharap na upuan kada preno ng mga bus at sa paniniguradong marami silang maissasakay asahan mo nang tatama ang tuhod mo ng di bababa sa 50 beses kada araw (isandaan kasama pauwi!). Kung sa may bintana ka uupo eh 2 tuhod ang sasakit. Kung sa may aisle ka naman pupuwesto , humanda kang masiko o mabunggo ng lahat ng pasaherong dadaan sa iyo. Pag ikaw pa naman ang tinamaan parang kasalanan mo pa kasi nakausli ang katawan mo sa may aisle. So bale nasiko at nabunggo ka na  , may isang tuhod ka pa na tumatama pa din sa maliit na mga upuan.Tataas ang kita ng Alaxan FR...may conspiracy theory atang nabubuo dito ah.

     At kung susubukan mo ding matulog sa mga upuang ito eh sigurado na na pagkagising mo eh sasakit ang batok , leeg at likod mo. Di ata ginawa para sa tao ang mga ito eh , parang patungan lang siguro ng gamit kaya parang abnormal ang kurba at ang nakakatawa ang tinatawag nilang Neck Rest eh di talaga nakakarest ng neck , Break Neck dapat ang tawag nila dun. Kasi naman kung gaano kaliit yung upuan siya namang kasing taas ng sandalan sa likod. Yung ibang parte ng tinatawag na neck rest eh bumabaon sa batok mo hanggang sumakit siya.  Tapos dahil may latest na pirated DVD na pinapalabas sa mga bus na ito pipilitin mo din na manood kahit papaano. Bad move. Mataas nga masyado ang mga sandalan , kaya magmumukha kang Ostrich o Giraffe sa paghaba ng leeg mo para lang makapanood. Ang payo ko eh wag na lang , mura lang ang DVD at kung sa bahay ka manonood puwede ka pang kumuya kuyakoy at walang makikialam sa iyo.

     Sana wag na lang nating sakyan ang mga bus na ganito para matauhan sila na nakakabadtrip ang ayos ng mga upuan nila. May cover naman...plastic cover pa nga eh. kaso sa ayos ng mga ito eh sadyang nakakasakit ng mga araw araw na bumibiyahe. Malamang ang katwiran ng mga bus operator na nagmamay ari sa mga bus na ito eh , kailangan mas maraming pera , di bale nang di kompartable ang mga sasakay , basta mas marami ang masisiksik nila at makukuhanan ng pera. Nakakalungkot pero sa hirap ng buhay at sa hirap makasakay mukhang magpapatuloy lang ang sistema na ganito. Abangan natin ang unang mamatay ng stroke sa mga bus na ito.Tiyaka pa lang magkakaroon ng batas na bawal ang masisikip na upuan sa mga bus.