Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Unselfish Pain Sharing Creatures"

"Unselfish Pain Sharing Creatures"
Virgilio F. De leon jr. 

"Rakdos Party time...The Boros Reckoner is Under cover..."
     So what do Mogg Maniac , Spite Mare , Boros Reckoner and Stuffy Doll all have in common?
These guys surely know how to receive and give damage. Or in their cases they really do love dishing out pain. They probably are the bunch of guys you would see in a Rakdos Riot Party (With the Boros Reckoner going undercover of course).  Well the others are just really content taking in and sharing the pain.

"I learned this while watching Avatar!!!"

     Let us start with the very hot Boros Reckoner whom people have been talking about non-stop because of its consistent record in standard. I have no direct experience playing with a Boros Reckoner since its price is a bit prohibitive at the moment and I have also decided that since Infect is no longer in standard I won't be playing it for awhile. But in my mind I want to see Boros Reckoners in play with a bunch of Selesnya tokens on the other side of the Battlefield and then someone casts a Blasphemous Act dealing 13 damage to each creator wherein the controllers of the Reckoners reply with a grin and 26 damage to the face of whoever cast that spell. The Reckoner could redirect damage and the unlucky recipient doesn't usually last long in a game. Ahhh and that is called living the dream.

"Watch me plant all these tools on your face..."
     What I have experienced with Mogg Maniac though would last me a life time. I was up a against a Mono Green Beast deck that was able to cheat in a 13/13 Krosan Cloudscraper. My opponent did attack with the gigantic beast only to be blocked by a Mogg Maniac. My opponent was already down to 7 during that time. And with Mogg Maniac redirecting the damage to him he scooped up his cards and started shuffling for the next game. Life is easier when the damage is so huge that you don't have to keep track anymore. In my early magic I embraced this principle with gusto. Another combination is with Goblin Lord , Skirk Fire Marshall...Imagine tapping a set of Mogg Maniacs in play and you have exactly 50 damage! 10 from the initial damage from the Fire Marshall and 40 more from the Mogg Maniacs who also took damage from the ensuing play. Red has always been full of this much fire power since the beginning.

     One of my most frustrating games has been with a single Spitemare in play. With a large 3/3 body and the ability to redirect any damage given to it to that creatures controller it certainly puts a stop to any weenie army harboring any dreams of attacking. That game also featured the emergence of 2 Balefire Lieges that continually burned me for 3 damage each when casting a red spell. It also hurt that what my opponent was casting was a Lightning bolt. These Lieges also made the single spitmare into a  7/7 Spitemare which would attack me and spit back any damage it received from my blockers right back at me! It was an insane game and one where my mass removal was something that gave damage to all creatures instead of destroying them outright. Woe to me indeed as I just had to endure and hope that in my next game I could do better. I wasn't able to do any better in the next game either.

"Emo ako eh..."
     Stuffy Doll just took this whole redirecting damage to a whole new level. It is player specific. It might be limited in EDH games but it is a lot of fun to watch your opponent squirming every time damage is dealt to him with you even not even declaring an attack or casting a spell. Stuffy doll is an Emo doll , it has a lot of pain to share to your opponents and attaching a Fatal Attraction to it just really helps matters to go much faster. This 5 mana costing artifact creature can ping himself or your could deal damage to him directly but it is the 4 damage each upkeep that Fatal Attraction brings consistently that is a winner in this strategy. As the Mangkukulams would say , stick a needle in him. He would just take the abuse because he is indestructible! Imagine having a Furnace of Rath in play as well and the battle damage doubles. Fantastic.

     If you are tired of the usual win conditions then this is something that you might want to try. It is a bit tricky to pull off in some cases and there is a level of difficulty involved which would make your game plays more satisfying once you are able to win with this condition. Till next time bring on the pain and share it with someone.

"The Strongest Liliana"

"The Strongest Liliana"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

The room was full of shadows.  A lone flickering candle stood in the middle where the light it created shifting shadows along the walls. The Shadows coalesced into 3 separate dark portals. They all entered at the same time and in that moment even the shadows took on a richness that was too difficult to describe. If there was anyone who could see they would have described faces forming and they could see monsters trying to stretch out the thin veil of darkness that seemed to keep them at bay.

The 3 new comers instantly felt each others presence. They looked at each other and their minds touched each other. All of them were amazed because instead of fighting back each stranger welcomed the probing magic and then they realized who they were facing. They didn't even need to ask the question about who they were looking at because in its place was a chorus of inquiries.

Liliana Vess?
Liliana of the Veil?
Liliana of the Dark Realms?

They all asked in unison of each other. The answers were all the same and they knew that this trap has been laid out by someone so clever that they could only think of one name.

Jace Beleren.

"Should have kept away from him when I could" 2 of the Liliana's said in unison.

The one from the Dark Realms was puzzled. "Who is this Jace Beleren?"

The 2 others looked at her and in unison replied, "Its better that you don't know."  

The one from the Dark Realms wrinkled her pretty brows. She thought that these two would share memories with her but it seems like her time was more divergent than theirs. She really had no recollection of Jace Beleren.

The 3 Lilianas looked at each other and gauged the power that each one had at their disposal. The dark portals were closing in on each other and they knew that the only way they could escape this room is to battle to the death. To become the most powerful one must overcome ones self and they all had spells in mind to take care fo each other. The one with all the tattoos looked at the younger ones and considered them weak. Beauty and Youth. Such a waste she said to herself as she thought of decay spell to dry their pretty faces.

In Magic's history Liliana has embodied the color of black. And she is a fine embodiment indeed. People had no problem with her original version where she had all those tattoos covering her entire body as a seal of her contract with her demonic masters.

The 2nd version was already on her way to parts unknown after successfully eliminating one of her Masters , Griselbrand on the plane of Innistrad. This one had her tattoos removed and was able to walk around in her full beauty and proved to be deadly in a lot of ways.

The younger  Liliana is the slimmer , more fit version from the Dark Realms , wherever the dark realms lie. Most people assume its a place where Black Mana is readily accessible and provide this version with a lot of power as well.

So who would survive a fight with the other versions? Its actually a toss up. Liliana of the Dark realms actually requires creatures on the field to be effective where her access to all the black mana would allow her to pump the said creature to epic proportions. This version actually is all about the mana and has found her way in many mono black decks since she came out in M13 because she can put more lands than any other Liliana in Existence

The 2nd Liliana which is the one who was able to retrieve the Chain Veil and is hellbent in freeing herself from her Demonic masters. She is all about annihilation and she starts by making planeswalkers discard from their hands. Each player actually does it. She can kill creatures and figures heavily in graveyard shenanigans and creature control decks. Her Ultimate ability allows players to potentially half of their opponents permanents and as I said this Liliana is about destruction.

The original Liliana seems to be more refined than the 2nd Liliana as her first ability is able to target a player. The difference that has the most significant impact on the board is her ability to fetch or tutor a specific card. I imagine her fetching a Karn and that would be the end of the other Planeswalkers as they have no way to deal with another Planeswalker of Karns power level. Even her Ultimate ability benefits her and berefts her opponents of creatures to reanimate. No self respecting Necromancer will exclude Liliana Vess in his or her plans. 

The winner of this battle was never in doubt because the original Liliana though not as powerful in the latter versions was someone who could have access to things that the latter 2 would not have been able to respond to.

The shadows seemed to be watching. With eyes that were made of darkness that could perceive far more than anything else. Amazingly despite the monsters that have been summoned the lone candle in the dark has not been extinguished. It served as a witness to the dark battle that was unfolding.True to her name , Liliana of the Dark realms has summoned creatures that she has been able to stabilize and grow.

Liliana of the veil  , hated the fact that a version of herself seemed to be using tactics that only a green mage would. Growth spells seemed like an unfair advantage  and it was a good thing that she was not playing fair as well. The Shadow Monster was walking towards her but with a simple wave of her hand severed the ties of summoning from its summoner. The monster returned with a pop back into the ether and She laughed at how helpless the youngest version of her felt. She began a laugh coming on as she summoned a couple of Gravecrawlers to her side.

"Oh Ladies" Liliana Vess said in a somewhat musical tone. The 2 younger looking Lilianas swung their heads to look at the tattooed one. "I'd like you to say hello to my not so little friend."

Behind her a grey metallic being was forming into reality. Liliana of the veil know who he was and began to summon something else that could defend her. The one from the Dark Realms stood frozen because he has never met anyone as powerful as the creator of Mirrodin , Karn. She was the first to perish as Karn came into existence , took aim with his massive arms and hit her with a gigantic beam that erased her in this reality.

A moment later  Karn aimed his arms to the Liliana desperately clutching at her chain veil to draw massive power to deal with the Silver Golem. None came to her aid as the beam hit her and dispersed her essence to the blind eternities.

Karn turned to the only existing Liliana with his ever present scowl. He did not wish to be used like this but he was compelled to obey on a cellular level. Liliana Vess looked at the Chain Veil that fell to the ground. Such a thing at the hands of her other version and all she could do was kill her masters? She had other things planned and she was going to have lots of fun with this power. With a wave of her hand she vanished Karn until he would need him again and the Dark Portals opened all around her. There were so many choices now. She chose a portal and was on her way.

"Hating The Sun. Loving The Cold"

"Hating The Sun. Loving The Cold"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     March has always been a really lonely month for me. It is a month of ends after all. Some may view it as a month of freedom and new beginnings but for me it is always about the end of things. Graduation and moving up is a sad thing for me because it marks the end of one thing. It is rather silly being stuck in the past but that is the kind of person that I am. Some might not notice all the changes but in my time I do , I am a creature of habit after all and a bit OC about the things that I have set for myself. The change of teachers and classmates and subjects. Harder or easier ones in my book make no difference. Moving up means an irreversible change. 

     Walking up the stage means saying goodbye to a certain lifestyle. I always believed that after high school everyone starts equal and creates a new niche in whatever place we end up to be. We find cooler friends or cooler things to do and we move on. We find people who understand us better than those in our previous school , people who would accept us more for what we are than what we might bring to a group or cause. We find our groups , we find our niche , we find our place. but this comes at the cost at saying goodbye to the things that we were and embracing the things that we might be. And as I wrote before I have a hard time letting go of certain things. Childishness for once. I think my daughter relates to me a lot more because I find that I have not moved up in this aspect of my life. We still watch Adventure Time together and when she plays with her toys she still asks me what dialogue I could provide. 

    March also ushers in the summer months. Summer. Just the word of it conjures up images of the scorching sun and dehydrated bodies. I do not wish to say goodbye to the cold winter months. I think better in the cold. Partly why I love the night is because the sun is not in it. I like the cloudy sky and the rainy sky. Summer just brings in more sun and the sure burning winds. Imagine having a fan blowing nothing more than hot air at you all the time.

    The beach is not really my place. I can sit in the shade and probably sip a few drinks and maybe oggle at some of the pretties that pass by but the place doesnt necessarily inspire poetry in me unless Im witinessing a violent storm or gray cast skies. Call me weird but I have always been like this and will probably die this way as well.

As far as I am concerned let us just move on the the Rainy season in advance.

"Land Flooding:The Dragons Maze release effect on Land prices"

"Land Flooding:The Dragons Maze release effect on Land prices"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     By now many casual magic gamers are eagerly awaiting ( foaming at the mouth) for the release of the last set in the Return to Ravnica expansion. Dragons maze will feature new legends that would possibly affect all the EDH gaming tables in the world but most likely it will be the abundance of Lands that will make a mark in the world of Magic for years to come. 

     Shock lands(Dual lands that have 2 Magic friendly colors like R/G or B/R which give you an option of having 2 damage done to you or it comes into play tapped hence the term Shock...meaning the spell that damages you for 2)  have already been reprinted and players still can not get enough of them. The prices have been driven low somewhat but due to the new art everything has been balanced out. The prices are still glued at the 450-550 price range with the occasional low 350 price drop. The prices of the common Guildgates that have worked a lot in mana fixing for dual and tricolor decks have been set at 5 to 10 pesos but all this will change with the inevitable Land Flooding that will occur during the release of Dragons Maze.

     Expect the prices to drop for the common cards as well as the other rare shock lands. Many are saving up for the eventual drop in prices but people might be in for a surprise on that front. Of course Wizards of the coast would not let the prices drop all that much as well as the local sellers who would see a profit margin diminish. Some rumors suggest that there would be a land in each pack of Dragons Maze , most likely it will be the common lands or maybe an unyet revealed set of Uncommon lands like they had back in the original Ravnica Set that was very guild specific. The Shock lands would still be available but it would still be in the rare slots and more often than not boxes will not yield more than 2 copies of a specific land. So though there would still be a lot of Shock lands floating around due to the fact that players would still go and look for these cards dont expect the prices to plummet at the 200 or 100 level like they did for the Core Set dual lands. Expect the shock lands from the original set to rise in value as there would be less of those in circulation as the new art.Looking for the old will be the new trend in Magic Land finding. 

     Still it is an exciting thought that you could get your hands on shocklands at a cheaper price rather than buy now at the current prices. So if you are a hoarder (people who don't know what to do with cards but buy them to stock up) or an investor or a player in need to complete lands but not in a hurry then it is ok to wait  for the next couple of weeks for the Dragons Maze release. Its going to be a Land Bonanza worth waiting for! 

"Ruric Thar , the Unbowed: A Big Headache for Control"

"Ruric Thar , the Unbowed:  A Big Headache for Control"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

     When I first saw this Legendary Ogre I thought of how bad it actually hated blue for some reason. The Gruul has a new clan member that hates logic and counter spells as much as the next guy but he dishes out more pain than any of them ever could.

     Ruric Thar , the Unbowed has the mana cost of a Gruul titan at 1 Red , 1 Green and 4 Colorless Mana with the same 6/6 Body. He attacks whenever he could which is very Gruul in nature. He has vigilance and Reach showing disdain for Flyers and having the ability to defend and attack at the same time this trait alone makes him a winner in any aggressive RG strategy. Not to mention the fact that you could search for him with a Mwonvuli Tracker because he has Reach.They obviously made draw backs for him like his inability to restrain himself and attack each turn where he is most likely to die to a big blocker , Mass block or blocker with death touch but hey you are Gruul! You want to attack anyway so it is not much of a drawback and with this guy you even do it with Vigilance. You could even use a pitfight or Ulvenwald trackers ability first before attacking to remove any blockers just to be sure.

     What actually sets him apart and now places him as a hot card is his triggered ability to dish out 6 points of damage when a player plays a "Non-creature spell". Being Gruul you could expect that the ratio for creature spells is dominant than any other spell and with a Domri Rade you would expect that you would have a handful of creature cards just waiting to be unleashed. So for control players they either give up 6 points of damage to remove Ruric Thar from play or bounce it to your hand ( which is not a wise move considering that he would still be there) or give up a counter spell so as not to see him on the battlefield.

   When he does make it to the battlefield the upside for Gruul decks is stupendous! You give the opposing player a dilemma every time you play a huge creature that could attack right away (with fervor in play). He either counters it and takes 6 damage , allow it on the battlefield and it attacks and he Murders it and still takes 6 damage. Yup , this Ogre warrior has it in for all the control players out there.If I were playing Gruul in standard I would have 3 copies of this guy in my deck. He is just so worth it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

"This Flayer ain't fooling around"

"Whats up flayer?"

"This Flayer ain't fooling around"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

     In the middle of an interesting EDH game my friend Archie suddenly remembered a card that he would be adding to his Grixis Control - Reanimator Deck. The card was Flayer of the Hatebound.

     Which lead me to this joke. What did Flayer Husk say to Flayer of the Hatebound when they first saw each other in a bar? He said, "Whats up Flayer?"


     If you have now stopped laughing or thinking of how corny that joke was I would like to begin harping about this particular Trash Rare Card. In standard because of his huge casting cost and the existence of very fast creatures he was doomed to the pile of cards that would merely rot until a suitable combo would be found to make them playable. In EDH though and with the abundance of cards that jump out of the graveyard he becomes an instant King.

     He is a 1 Red Mana and 5 Generic mana  creature at 4/2 power toughness. He has the Undying Mechanic which makes him a 5/3 when he comes back from the grave. He also has the great ability of having creatures deal damage to players according to their power when they come back from the grave. Very Innistrad in a sense where the graveyard just seems like one stop on your way to somewhere else.

     Now because of the recent release of the Sorin Vs. Tibalt Duel Decks 2 great mechanics come in mind for this card and that is the Unearth and Undying Mechanic. Flayer of the Hatebound is also a Necromancers delight as dealing direct damage before a creature smashes your opponents face is highly desirable.

Unearth  - allows you to cast creatures from your graveyard for a mana cost , reap that creatures come into play abilities and have them deal damage because they have haste. You exile them at the end of the turn but hey they already served their purpose twice so it wont be much of a loss. With the Flayer in play the added dimension of direct damage is added into this already rewarding turn of events. On a Grixis deck its not so hard to imagine having a Krederekt Leviathan deal 6 damage before returning all Non-Land permanents.

Undying  - allows creatures to come back from the grave stronger with +1/+1 counters on them. There is an abundance of them in Red and Black which is the color that Flayer is more at home with.

Reanimation - Any method of reanimation either by spells of creature abilities will trigger the Flayers ability and deal tons of damage and since Reanimation seldomly tries to cheat in small creatures then expect massive damage with each reanimation that would occur. My friend Archie for example dreams of having an It that betrays come into play and deal 11 damage in one go. With the Flayer in play any reanimation target becomes a big mass of Red damage that brings your opponents closer to the end.

     I on the other hand thought of a more salivating play from this same vein of thought. The moment my friend mentioned it I had this really insane combo in mind that could end a players life total in one move.

With a Flayer of the Hatebound already in play...
Cast Torrent of Souls Reanimating Bladewing the Risen which Reanimates a Dragon Tyrant and Brings a Bladewings Thrull back into play.
Damage Calculation: 4+6+3= 13 Damage as these creatures come into play.
They all gain haste and +2/0 as Red mana was used in Torrent of Souls and they all attack with the Flayer. Assuming there are no available blockers.
Damage Calculation: 6+ 16 + 5 + 6 = 33 Damage + 13 Damage from the Flayers ability is a whopping 46 points of Damage!!! And this is assuming that they have not had any damage dealt to them at any point earlier in the game(which would be impossible with a red deck). 46 points of damage. The final push to end one player.

     Its amazing how a lot of combinations and potential win conditions like this go unnoticed for months on  end. Well it takes the right environment and the right insane mind to see it after all. So in the mean time there is a lot of exploitation to explore with this card. Keep on burning.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Planeswalker Awakenings:Robert Baratheon Awakens"

"Planeswalker Awakenings: Robert Baratheon Awakens"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

In a different plane , a different time , a spark awakens and a new planeswalker is born...

Sometimes the awakening of your Spark does remarkable things and this was the case when Robert Baratheon found himself naked in the field of battle between 2 heavily armored armies. Lightning seemed to bounce from one creature to another  causing some to fall while others seemed quite at ease with the cackling electricity. He knew he was dead , He knew that a Boar tore at him from nipple to groin and yet he didn't feel dead at all. In fact he felt more alive than he ever did. He suddenly found his mind to be clear as day where all the wine has clouded it before. He began running to a higher vantage point to see the lay of the land and was surprised when he didn't feel as tired as he used to with the slightest movements. 

From out of nowhere an armored being tried to swipe at him with a sword and he found that he could dodge the sword with ease. He was seeing the swing even before it fell and it was  an easy task of grabbing it and swinging it at the gap between the creatures armor and connecting at its neck. The spray of red blood confirmed that at least these armored creatures could be wounded.He found himself looking a clear puddle of water as the creature took its last breath and Robert Baratheon knew why he felt so strong. A Bright Red aura had engulfed him and has restored his body by almost 20 years. He gave his belly a slap as if unbelieving and gave a throaty laugh that didn't really fit a king at all.He saw the armies beginning to maneuver.He felt a beating in his heart that he had not felt for a long time. Excitement. If this was a battlefield he knew that he could find a war hammer nearby. He set out to the task.

Robert Baratheon was the overweight , Obnoxious Drunken King in the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire. He was a magnificent warrior who inspired a rebellion against the Mad King Aerys Targaryen although you would never see this might in the HBO TV series there was a lot of stories about him told in flashbacks all throughout the books. He defeated the Targaryen Prince Rhaegar in single combat depriving King Aerys of a legitimate heir to his throne. He also managed to kill the boar that mortally injured him in a flash of what he was like as a warrior.

Robert Baratheon will be a Mono-Red Planeswalker set at 7 Red mana cost:

The Baratheon words were "Ours is the Fury". And though he was the 2nd child he embodied this to the hilt contrasting his personality to that of the stoic and dour Stannis and the flamboyant equally charming but not so seasoned as a warrior Renly Baratheon.

His exploits were legendary and he was the kind of warrior who could inspire you in battle because let us face it everyone loves a winner and in the Game of Thrones Robert Baratheon was the greatest winner of all. He won the Iron Throne. He was also considered to be quite a charmer. He converted his enemies into friends and they followed him loyally until the time of his death. He was also the kind of person who let his passions do the talking. This is the reason why he had so many illegitimate children all through out Westeros. Women naturally fell for him because not only was he a great renowned warrior he used to have the looks to match it. So in Bed and on the battlefield you would know that the former King of Westeros would always excel.

Suggested skills:

As a Red planeswalker he would probably be a red version of Gideon Jura. He could become a creature that would be indestructible and because of his reputation he would be able to tap all other creatures once he attacks. (Much like the Red cards Thundermare and Thundermaw Hellkite.) Since he was a very great conqueror once he deals damage to a player He would gain all permanents that player controls.

And since he was quite a convincing leader he could also turn other warriors against each other as a second skill. Imagine him gaining control of someone like a 6/1 Kamahl or a 4/4 Iwamori or any gigantic creature for that matter.

He doesn't even need an ultimate ability although he could very well have one with all that Red mana that would be available to him.

The battlefield on this plane of existence was constantly being soaked with the blood of both its aggressors and defenders. Robert Baratheon found himself stealing armor that clung to him like a second skin and he was able to locate a nice hefty hammer that was more to his liking than any sword. There was just so much satisfaction in hearing bones break from his mighty blow. He remembered Rhaegar and the his black armor in the Riverlands. He remembered the rubies flying all around as he struck his sides. He was looking on the other side of the battlefield now at these armored beings. Lightning was striking them but they were not paying them any mind. One of them was shouting: "Listen to the roar! Feel the thunder! The Immersturm shows it approval with every bolt of Lightning!"

Robert Baratheon didn't know who or what the Immersturm was but he knew that battle will soon be upon him. He grinned the widest grin that he believe that he has evermustered. His blue eyes looked at all the enemies coming toward him and he was filled with an excitement that he had not felt in almost 2 decades. This was living he told himself. This is going to be fun.


Writers Note:
Planeswalker Awakenings is like a "what if" series...where we try to put a character from a Book , TV series or movie into the context of a planeswalker from Magic:The Gathering.

"Finding Death"

"Finding Death"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

The hour glass stood in the corner
forgotten , save for now
The little grains keep on falling
and they looked sad somehow...

It won't be long now she knew
Come to me , come to me
In her heart she called his name
Release me , Release me...

Now Death stands looking at her
patiently waiting for her time to come
she looks back at him
her heart beating like a tired drum.

The last grain falls
and time stops in an instant
she takes her last breathe
and now her pain feels so distant

Death stood by her now
Carrying her away from this once pain-wracked body
No one ever seemed happy to see Death
She was however pleased that he was there.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"The Neurolizer Vape Unit...why it would be great..."

"The Neurolizer Vape Unit...why it would be great..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     While my brother and I were at a party someone approached him because he was vaping and they pointed him to the smoking area. He said that he wasn't smoking and explained that he was vaping. There is a difference. The person who approached had an annoyed look on her face , her friends said that she was asthmatic and smoking was her trigger. I said that both my brother and I were asthmatic and vaping doesn't really do anything to asthmatics unless the juice that was being used had a really strong scent in which case my brother wasn't using at the time. The person still had that annoyed look on her as if you just explained Quantum physics to her. Oh well there is no helping some people. My reasoning at that point was that if she was really asthmatic and had a very well defined trigger like smoking then she probably didn't need to be at that party anyway. Of course she was there and she was just annoying the hell out of people.This is just one of those moments where I wish these vape units had a neurolizer built in.These person would benefit from it and I would say something like...if you really are asthmatic and having an acute exacerbation why the hell are you in this party where people would potentially smoke all night?

     Again I am not an advocate of vaping. I have never vaped and believe that I will not do so in the future. I don't think I would spend money on buying a unit and feed it juice every now and then but I do get concerned about the people who actually do use it. There are still some very serious debates about the said benefits of vaping. All in all I think it just improves the general mood of a person because they dont have to go anywhere else just for smokes. There are no known ordinances about it either aside from the random Manong Guard giving you a tap on the back because they think that you are smoking inside the mall. They then get a puzzled look when when you show them what you have. Yet another fine example why vape units should also came with a Neurolizer from MIB. You could ask them to look at the unit in your hand , flash them and then tell them the freaking difference so they don't annoy you or your fellow vapers in the near future because they think you are huffing away in the middle of a crowded place.

     The potential for abuse of the device is imminent though and it wont be long before Juices will vanish without a trace and people would forget that the great strap they bought now belongs to one of their friends or that for some reason this doesnt look like the unit they have bought a couple of days back. If you are reading this and may have already experienced this one of your friends may have cheated a neurolizer in their units already


Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     The Normal scenario when people have arguments is that one tends to have a shouting match because people believe that the volume of their voices dictates where the arguments are going. Some even believe that shouting at one another can resolve the issues. It was so disappointing to find out then that no matter how much you shout at someone there can be no positive results( probably you have let out some steam but you should never do this to your loved ones , you could try shouting in the wilderness instead or at passing cars like you were some dog).

     David Dizon , one of my friends said that when logic ends , emotions begin and as emotional beings when we let it lead us we are faced with greater problems afterwards. We let rage govern us , we let these base things do the thinking for us then we revert back to our animal selves. I am embarassed to say that this is how I used to think as well and my wife and my daughter did not like it one bit. There are times for shouting and then there are times that it should not be used at all. We are beings of intellect after all and animal rule should have been left out of the door ages ago. Of course at home we could actually take control of ourselves and maybe talk calmly to our loved ones but it is a different matter at work.

     Yes there are times that can be so frustrating and you want to blame things on other people. As someone who has worked the phones for half a decade I have heard all kinds of frustrated voices. Sometimes when a call comes in and you know that these people are asking for help you just have to be patient and let them vent out their concerns. They maybe screaming at the top of their lungs when they do so but you have to understand their concern. As long as the screams are not directed at you then that is just fine. However  , in my experience  , those who scream at me do not get optimal results. Shouting at a technician or collections agent or Customer Service rep does nothing to help you. It rattles them and even makes them inefficient most of the time because nobody likes being shout at. So instead of getting someone to help you  , you normally get someone who will merely escalate you  , transfer you or worse disconnect your call. People who control their emotions get more results and you should not call at all if all you want to do is let off steam at people.

     As a Doctor  , there are times when patients or even their relatives scream at us for things that they perceive to be wrong. They also scream if they believe that they are not being taken cared of. Admittedly there are times that the patients are hard to deal with because it is a matter of life and death and when people are in pain they often forget about everyone else. It is quite easy to slip into this , a bullet wound , a stab wound or even a simple stone in your
ureters can make you not care about anything else but your pain and the concerned relative or loved who is with you at that time who does not want you to suffer joins in the negation of every body elses feelings because as far they are concerned they went to the hospital to receive robotic efficiency from people who are probably on their last legs as well. It is not an easy job because there is always  a million concerns and having people shout at you from your direct boss to the patients come with it. Yes shouting isnt logical but in this kind of work logic is left for the Doctors and Hospital staff  , the emotional part is left to everyone else. This happens face to face and you just have to deal with it when it does happen. And it will happen a lot.

     So there are jobs that are sucky and still people have to do it. It is normal for people to be emotional and we could not control them. What we have control over is our own responses. We must choose to be the better person each time we are faced with these circumstances. It is not always easy but practice does make perfect.

     So the next time you want to shout at someone , you better just hold off your tongue...You make yourself better that way.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"The Strongest Garruk"

"The Strongest Garruk"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     Garruk entered the room and he heard locks clicking behind him as the massive doors rolled shut. The huge room did not seem to have any borders at all save for when the forest stretches and eventually hits a far off wall in the distant horizon. He could feel the presence of the others. Probing. Hunting. Making sure of what they were feeling.
Who are you he asked with his mind as the others emerged from the dark shadows of the trees.

I am you Garruk...Wildspeaker
I am you Garruk...Primal hunter
I am you Garruk...The Relentless / The Veil cursed

     We are you and you are us the others answered without saying a word. He sensed  the rich green mana emanating from the one called Primal Hunter but there was something else from the one called the Relentless. He looked at him warily and he sensed the dark mana that was leaking out , a corruption that was almost choking in his presence. Face to face the 3 Garruks seemed to engulf the surrounding space around them because of their sheer size. They all heard of this room before. They knew that there would only be one planeswalker walking out of this place alive.

     Storywise the original Garruk actually seemed more like a utility/support type planeswalker rather than an assault type. He could untap lands , which could allow a player to cast more creatures , create 1 3/3 beasts and then use the Overrun as his Ultimate ability. In contrast Primal Hunter creates a 3/3 beast token as his first skill which will lead him to his final ability faster whereas in the creation of beast tokens from the original Garruk it actually lessens his loyalty counters. Primal hunters second ability also allows you to do draw cards equal to the greatest power of creatures you control and since you are normally playing green then you do have access to really massive creatures , this skill also gives you access to more lands ( and since you are playing green you can also mana ramp to your hearts content) which would in turn be a big advantage in Primal Hunters last skill...putting 6/6 Wurm Tokens for each Land you control. A devastating mix for the later turns.

     The last version of Garruk is more at home in a Black/ Green deck with the ultimate skill dependent on the number of creatures in your  graveyard. That is the effect of Liliana and Innistrad on this version of Garruk , the sacrifice a creature to search for another one to put into your hand is a handy skill and also ties in to the Morbid mechanic of Innistrad and increases the body count in your graveyard as well to power up creatures like Boneyard Wurm or Splinterfright or even power out a Ghoul Tree. This is also the first flip Planeswalker  , which gives him the most number of skills than any planeswalker in existence. You can only get at the other 3 after transforming him though. Transforming him is a tricky thing as well. In this fight though , having the most skill does not guarantee victory because in the battle of green mages the mightiest will always emerge victorious.

     The battlefield was already littered with the mangled remains of beasts and wolves. More Creatures were already charging each other. When the wolves touch the beasts they both die in a mutual bite that leaves most of their bodies rotting. The Wildspeaker and The Relentless were locked in battle , summoning creatures left and right so that they can both attack and defend against one another. It was then that they heard the distant rumbling coming closer. It was a horde of Wurms that was coming towards them at an unnatural speed. Behind them was the Primal Hunter  , on one knee , his body trembling with the effort it took to summon all of these voracious creatures.

     After the Wurms have devoured his other selves Garruk , The Primal Hunter stood and angrily punched the air. A rip of green mana opened a door way to another plane. Garruk did not wait for the portal to form , he merely slipped through the rip and was gone.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Sorin Vs. Tibalt Dual Decks...A First Look..."

"Sorin Vs. Tibalt Dual Decks...A First Look..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     I woke up late that day (5pm) and was in a semi-conscious state when I read about the impending release of this new Duel Deck...I was excited but hesitant to make a purchase at first because I was currently developing a Red/Green Radha deck that would allow me to blow up lands...So I went to the office and took a peek at the deck list and I was really woken up with the possibilities the cards would bring to the table..

     Granted that at the back of my mind Wizards of the Coast was merely trying to cash in on the popularity of the cards before they rotate out of standard. This former thought was being whispered to me by the devil sitting on my left shoulder (He looked a little like Tibalt too). On the other hand the Angel sitting on my right shoulder said that all cards are valuable nowadays because prices don't necessarily go down because of the Modern and EDH formats currently in place. I wasn't so bitter anymore since my angel told me that (She was also threatening me with a pitchfork to the ear if I didn't listen). I like how Wizards could  put in new art and reintroduce new cards to people , its like reintroducing someone awesome that you just forgot. Needless to say the new art lends more coolness to the cards as it also follows the flavor of the set. Brow beat for example gets the oversized face of Tibalt and the new art on Mortify is cooler and reflects the effect of Sorin on his enemies. Really just cool. 

     The obvious draw of the set is the Lord of Innistrad himself , Sorin Markov , whose price actually comprises 3/4th's of the duel decks value. I wont be going into the details of his ability. I wrote about him when he first came out in Dark Ascension. At first glance the black/white aspect of the deck will really reinforce strategies in the colors of the Orzhov but then again you could always just get pieces here for mono black decks or mono white decks. There are handy token makers as well as spot removal in this deck that could both fit in for both colors. In the EDH theme of things if you have not played with Ghost Council , Teysa or Obzedat yet then this might be the right time to do so. Teysa seems the most logical choice because her abilities give you an advantage of tokens and removals. The whole theme revolves around tokens and creature control which is always important in any game. (except of course for creatureless decks which makes them all dead cards but makes your hand look deadly as you can still bluff your way into a win).

    The other half of this deck has the pain mage Tibalt at the helm , considered as one of the worst planeswalkers (it reflects on his value and playability...which is hard) Tibalt has been given a wonderful theme. Since he cannot control what he will be discarding in the graveyard they made a theme deck that consisted of Unearth and Flashback cards. A cool idea but something that leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to game play. At least it still allows you access to spells that you might have otherwise not been able to use. There is one card in particular that got me excited and The Hellrider is only just part of it because I have never owned one until now. However the card that got me going was Torrent of Souls. A card that allowed you to Zombify a creature when you use black mana on it and then your creatures get +2/0 and haste if Red Mana is used. This would come in handy in my BR Dragon Reanimator deck that I have been developing as of late. Imagine dropping a Bladewing the Risen , Dragon Tyrant and Bladewings Thrull via the Torrent of Souls. Everyone swings in for a total of 23 (Double striking Dragon Tyrant) Damage! In the Modern format that would be the end...In EDH  ,  you are actually halfway finishing off one opponent...Its an evil card. I cant wait to add it to my deck.

     One of the things that I would like to comment on is the card Ancient Craving. Draw 3 cards , pay 3 life at sorcery speed at the cost of 1 Black and 3 Generic Mana at the Rare Slot. There is a copy of this exact card at the Uncommon Rarity and that card is Ambitions cost. It even has the same flavor text for crying out loud! So why would magic produce a card like this which is an exact copy of another card? Redundancy. Yup , it actually benefits players because these two have different names , they can play a copy of each in their EDh decks. And since these cards do not have Double black mana costs it is actually easy to splash in any color combination. Who doesn't want to draw 3 cards...twice.

     I was so happy when my friend actually gave me my box and when I was opening it in my office cubicle the people who saw me said that I looked like a little child opening a Christmas gift. Well it was a great gift...to myself. I was so excited at getting at the cards. For now there is some serious tinkering to be done...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Returning to the North...Returning Home"

"Returning to the North...Returning Home"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

The Return to the North was a big success in my book. why? Well the reason is simple...There was a tournament in a place where none existed for months and months. There was a gathering of people with the same mindset where there was none a day or a week or a month ago. There were games all around the place. Both the Standard and the Casual games. There were people to buy things from and sell things to and "Kumikitang Kabuhayan" from cards was back. As a magic player , I know how hard it is to get the pieces that I need in the prices that I need them to be in . So the return of this market just makes me happy that you could barter( in blood if you must) to get the cards that you need. Sellers thrived and Buyers well , they lost money but got more of the things that they wanted so all in all there were smiles on everyone's faces. Its not always about the money after all.

There were old and new faces that seemed happy to see each other.There were the hugs and hand gestures and the occasional...Te!!! (where a pretty woman would look at the person shouting te and that person would promptly wave to a guy or pat him on the back...while saying...Dante. Dante bakit ang tagal mong nawala?)The pretty woman would just keep on walking and everybody would just be laughing their asses off. I guess you would have to be there to get all that. There were people who were just trying to get back into magic Standard that day and then there were those who were enjoying the games while winning each round. Hence the emergence of Brian Basilonia as the top Dog with his Naya Mid range deck. No one went home without a smile from the place. There was a Gatecrash booster for the first person to register and all the participants at the end of the tournament. Plus a raffle too! Oh and did I mention that the ladies played for free? what more can you want? If you have a girl friend or wife or friend who you always wanted to teach magic or who always wanted to compete then this is the right place. All levels welcome! If you are seriously thinking of returning to standard then Return to Ravnica is your set and the Games at Padi's point in North Edsa is where you should be every Sunday.

There was also ST running all over the place too...reminding players of rules , the conspiratory EDH warnings , the asking of who won which round and the always present...Complete your last 5 turns or the round pairings announcements. Being back in the north made me feel at home not only because I knew most of these guys but this was actually the place where I took Magic seriously and discovered a lot of sides to it that made it more than just a mere game but a lifestlye and a belief system as well. We appreciate all the efforts that were put in having Magic:The Gathering being returned to its rightful seat in the North. And with this restoration and the summer fast approaching we expect more good things as players would find their niches closer to home and find that the North is where they really should be.

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Return to Ravnica Short: The Death of traitors"

"Return to Ravnica Short: The Death of traitors"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     Elrov had the kind of face that could blend in with any crowd. The kind of face that even though you have seen murdering someone mere moments ago might prove to be something too difficult to describe , let alone accurately pinpoint in any line up. He didnt look like a thug , he didnt look like an innocent either. He didnt look like anyone but he did look like everyone else in the general sense. Trying to describe Elrov after you have seen him is like describing every body else that you have ever met in your life.

    Elrov himself started noticing this when he was a boy. He started stealing bread and no one could pinpoint who he was. It was this talent that the old guild master Szadek was able to observe first hand. The little boy who held the bread in his arms , calmly threw it away and non chalantly walked towards his pursuers. The pursuers did not recognize the boy and by passed him without even a second glance. When they were gone the child went back to where he threw the bread and began to eat with a ferocity that seemed more Gruul than anything else. Szadek found himself amused and believed that he could use someone with this childs talents. He was taken under his wing. This was 20 years ago and today Elrov was still an active part of the Dimir.

     Elrov found himself wide awake in the middle of his room. There was a soft hum in his mind , the gentle probing that meant his handler was about to speak with him. There were no words that could convey this sensation to anyone. It was like having several buzzing bees in your head until the message focused and you could actually understand what was being said.  It was about his latest mission. He was instructed to pick up a device at the Dinrova Headquarters and he was to follow someone who was deemed by the current Guild Master , Lazav to be a traitor. He was to keep his distance at all times and was strictly instructed not to have any contact with the subject he was following. His job was to watch.

     So it was weeks that Elrov found himself watching the traitor from the rooftop. The device that he was asked to pick up was an arm band that had 3 green gems on it. He never questioned its purpose because the Dimir has been known to carry out experiments as well. He hid the device under his tunic and said nothing about it.  His subject was a very careful man , he did not take the same route twice in a day. He seemed to have no obvious pattern of behavior to an untrained observer but  this random pattern was actually a predetermined one that he has set out each day. Elrov was able to decipher it on the 2nd day. He was like clockwork to him now. He knew that as he turned to the alley he would always chat with the flower seller for about 3 minutes. He would go to his door and smoke for another 3 minutes. Reach out for the key above the awning , turn the key 5 times and push the door with his left hand. The Dimir trained their agents rigorously to watch everything , their minds would then be probed to update the guild master at random hours of the day.

     On the 3rd week of his observation the Kill order came. It was the same as a hundred orders before it and Elrov complied by waiting for his subject on the exact corner where he would turn to talk to the Flower girl. The move was a very simple one , something that a Dimir Cutpurse would use to cut a purse string , only this time the motion was to slip a dagger through the ribs and to pull it out with minimum fuss. His subject didn't have enough time to react and he saw the look of death in his eyes. For a moment as he stared at the elderly man he could have sworn that he knew him. Elrov was about to pull the dagger out when he felt the stab of a dagger to his right side and he knew that the motion was a familiar one , a motion that only he could put to good use after weeks and weeks of practice.Sure enough when he turned he saw his own face with a shocked expression and then a pained one as another version of himself plunged a dagger to the one who had stabbed him. Then another and another appeared in succession. Elrov was able to see the last assailant as he fell. It looked liked him as well only it had a scar right across the bridge of the nose where there should have been none. His face was the last Elrov saw as oblivion claimed him.

     When the scarred Elrov retrieved his dagger from the last subject he killed he had wiped it on the white tunic that it was wearing. The movement showed that he was also wearing a similar armband except that the stones in his version were Blue , Red and Black.  All Elrovs . All himself from alternate realities. What has the Dimir gotten into this time? he asked himself and in the shadows the Necrosages emerged. Among them a muscular 6 foot  Goblin and An attractive female elf with the sigils of the Golgari all about her barely there garments. He knew that his task here was done. He was the last one and the guild master did not want to lose him so he was summoned back to the Duskmantle.

     "The death of the multiple copies are producing a sustainable mana charge." The female Elf said looking impressed as the Elrovs coalesced into one shimmering mana mass. "His absence in all the alternate realities will make a tear that each would also try to plug. It is this mana that will allow us to succeed."

     "So how many deaths till we have the amount of mana we need Aridsta?" The muscular Goblin said as he poked the mana mass with his massive hands.

     "Just a couple more would do Solstoy and the Mana Breach that we would create would be enough to usher in our master." The Elf said as her mind made silent calculations in preparation for the breach of realities that would be enough for her master to get a foothold in Ravnica.

The Necrosages nodded silently. The Guildmaster has given his ascent to this plan. This will be done.

"My Dad is watching..."

"My Dad is watching..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     He never had a thing for jobs. He had a thing for violence though and the only job he knew was extorting money from those he perceived to be weaker than himself. It could be anyone from little boys coming home from school to fellow low-lifes who had just made a score. He didn't care and wasn't about to change.

     So when he observed the pretty 7 year old girl skipping along with a 500 peso bill in her hand he suddenly had an urge to go and convince her that it would be more beneficial for her to hand over the money to him. So when He saw her stand in line at the store the big thug approached as menacingly as possible.

     The moment he came near the little girl started to warn him. She was aware of his intention to take the money from her. "I wouldn't do that if I were you ,Mister" , the child warned.

     "Why? Who is going to stop me? All these people are afraid of me." The thug said as he spread his arms to indicate the silent group of people who were trying hard all of sudden not to notice what was going on. Every one was stiff necked , facing any direction but the one where the big thug stood. " So who watches over you little girl?"

     "My Dad is watching." And the child pointed to a man wearing a pair of boxer shorts and a white shirt , his disheveled hair hinting that he had just woken up. He was standing on a balcony almost a block away. He was indeed watching.

     "And what is your dad going to do all the way from their when I grab this money?" The thug move toward the little girl in an effort to grab the 500 peso bill. The girl merely stood there and she began to say.

"He is the fast....

The Thug was not able to feel the punches at first but when he did they were coming in at a pace that he was not able to catch , he was getting hit with punches that felt like hammers and he was feeling bones break where they land.He crumpled to the dusty road without even seeing who hit him.

....est man alive." The child Finished. And his father stood by her with his disheveled hair and all. Barely breaking into a sweat as he stood motionless looking at the thug who now lay on the ground.

"I told your mom that I should have gone with you" her dad said.

"Well dad , you are here now..."

"I know..."

On the dusty road the thug groaned. 

"Never Alone"

"Never Alone"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

"You are not alone
There is more to this I know
You can make it out
You will live to tell..."
                          - Saosin

     Often times when we are engulfed by wave and waves of problems we simply believe that we are alone , that we carry the burden all by ourselves and that under its weight we are crushed and never recover. There is a grain of truth in that because each person carries their own cross , their own unique set of circumstances. However  , the truth is that we are never truly alone in our problems. I am not going to talk about unseen entities at the moment because yes they are there but those who physically exist are all around you if you just give them a chance to help you through.

     I had my share of the Dark times and I thought that that was it , that was where my life would be. This is the end. Of course the people who cared for me had other ideas about how the end would be and how I should deal with my life and I thank God that they did have those other views. 

     I wasn't thinking of ending my life. I was just well...in the pits. I am hard to console when I don't want to be consoled but the people around me are as stubborn as I am and they won't take no for an answer. My family dragged me everywhere and My Aven cheered me up as best that she could , by being loveable and unbearably adorable. I would never forget those trips or the words that were said there. I will never forget the concern.

     Then there was my brother and my friends. Comrades in arms. Team Virulence who went out and supported me as well by being there. Listening to what I say , following me , encouraging me. And in those times that we battled together I forgot. I was able to enjoy and I was able to live as full as I want to be.

     Then there was even her. The cause and the solution. It was like a circle closing in on itself. It begins and ends with her.

     In my life I am never truly alone and I am thankful because I can live to tell about the dark times in a time of relative light. I am whole and I am well and while I might not be relatively more sane than the people around me. My sanity is doing just fine thank you very much.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"The Strongest Chandra"

"The Strongest Chandra"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

     The room was on fire. It was the kind of fire that made everything shimmer and those that were not made of it to be reduced to Ash. She was enjoying it , wondering how the walls of this room still stood in her presence. Wherever she was there was a constant set of flames that were always dancing about her. This time however she was aware that there were other flames  this room as well. As the fire crept on the walls and touched hers she felt a slight tingling in her mind and soon She came face to face with the owners of these new fires and she was surprised to find who they were.

Who are you she asked?

I am you Chandra...Nalaar
I am you Chandra...Ablaze
I am you Chandra...The Fire brand

     The voices echoed all at once in her head. She had always wanted to meet someone like herself because she thought she was unique in all the multiverse and now that she has come face to face with them she knew that there would only be one of them emerging from this here. Only one will be the true flame in all the multiverse.

      Chandra is one of the most favorite Planeswalkers in all of existence and what is not to love? All versions of her have the ability to reach out...and burn someone..or at least something that belongs to that planeswalker or mage. And let us face it we all have been Red Mages or Red Planeswalkers one way or another because one of the draws of the game of magic is the ability to kill or blow something up. There was a time and there would still be a time that Red is all we want to play because of the pure raw power that we would be able to harness.No fuss. Just simply getting down to the business of reducing things to nothingness.

     In the case of the 3 Planeswalker representations of Chandra , they could all easily destroy each other with their tremendous firepower. It all really depends on who gets to go first. In this battle the only one at a disadvantage is the Original Chandra Nalaar. Both Ablaze and Firebrand could destroy each other the turns that they come in or in the story both of them could fling fire spells at each other that could consume each other. Chandra Nalaar on the other hand seemed to have been made for another era entirely. She was made to handle creatures and to deal immense damage to planeswalkers as her Ultimate ability. The other 2 however have been built to give more damage with their first and second abilities. Ablaze needs to have a card discarded and it could deal 4 damage with its first ability. For Firebrand, you could cast a lightning bolt , -2 on her second ability and your could kill either Nalaar or Ablaze in one blow...

     Chandra Nalaar and the Firebrand decided to gang up on the Planeswalker known as Chandra Ablaze but her constant fire spells have damaged them both. The 2 hesitated only for a moment. They had to admire the conflagration that was now before them. In its writhing flames the spells that Chandra Ablaze had cast were now being powered and in one mighty blow , Lightning Bolts  , Volcanic Hammers , Incinerates and Shocks all came out to hit the young and old versions of herself. She felt the spells smash through her as well but since she was the one who cast it , it became a part of her and made her even more powerful. Chandra Ablaze stood before her other selves or what was left of them.

"Tsk tsk tsk" she said to herself. With a slight swing of her arm a Circle of Fire opened and the brightest flame in the multiverse went on unopposed in her quest to experience more things.