Thursday, October 31, 2013

"The Pansol House"

"The Pansol House"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

My Aunt and Uncle bought a private pool house in the heart of Pansol , Laguna a couple of years back.My Mom told me that they envisioned this place as a family retreat. A place where the family would gather , have fun and commune with each other. There was no way of knowing that there would be other things  that would welcome us and commune with us there.

On my third visit to the Pansol Pool House (as I call it) , I found myself in the advance party.It was actually great being first because my daughter Aven and my sister Nadine were all itching to go for a swim so when My Mama Rose sent out the invitations they could barely contain their excitement while travelling to the place.

The house was a beautiful 3 storey structure and the different rooms formed a square enclosure around the pool. Later that night my cousins and I were chatting in the Southern Corner room. The Southern corner had 2 big rooms side by side and a bathroom that  formed the corner with one of these rooms. When I went out to go to this bathroom I saw a slim mirror on the bottom of the stairs leading to the 3rd floor. I saw a face in it. I also began feeling others. They were so strong that even with someone who has limited sensing abilities like me could distinctly feel them. A Small Child , A lonely Woman and a Man. They were not coming near me. I could not see them but I knew they were there.

I told my cousin Grace about this. I told her that there was really something in this house. She in turn confirmed to me one story about the room right next to ours. She told me about a group of people who tried to rent the place one weekend. They got so scared that even though it was 2 in the morning that they decided to pack their things and leave. Apparently they saw a woman sitting on the double decker bed. No one but a single caretaker was there. They were so spooked that they left in that ungodly hour. It confirmed the lonely lady that I felt. I told her that the ghosts seemed a bit restless tonight. 

Events happened that same night while I was not in the Pansol house.A couple of my cousins and I went to fetch my brother Aj in the port of Batangas.It was about 2 hours drive back and forth so as we travelled the events were transpiring.I only knew about them around 10pm.

My cousin Grace recounted the events. Her Son JM and my niece Ysabel were playing in the South Corner room when the door slammed shut by itself. Ysabel tried to open the door and at first thought that it was just stuck. They cried out for help and the adults responded immediately. The door knob was easily removed and everything that went with it. The door was still stuck. This was a door that worked perfectly just a few minutes ago.My niece Ysabel was crying. They could see everyone through the now empty door knob but they could not get out.It was as if something was playfully holding the door. I hated being right about ghosts but I believe this was the small child I felt earlier. This event ended as suddenly as it started. 

The same thing happened to the bathroom a few minutes later. One of my Aunts got trapped there as well.The door knob had to be removed too. These were well maintained rooms and these doors were fine. The people in the South Corner room had to sleep with a hole in the door. Somebody was really pissed in the 2nd floor And because I usually wake up at dawn I flipped over the slim mirror. I am not really in the mood to see any faces when I answer the call of nature at let us say 3am.

So what about the 3rd entity? The ghost of the man. Well he let his presence be felt the following day. In the Pansol house was an Indoor Jacuzzi room. This was an entertainment area which was found directly below the South Corner room.When most of the family slept some of the household help decided to have a drunken party of their own here. One of my Aunts , Tita Ganda was one of the first people who entered the room. She felt something there in the early morning but decided that it was nothing. She would develop severe back pains later. The pains would not stop and since she was allergic to most pain medications we had to sift through my moms medicines until we found one that was ok. The pain continued and my Mama Alice who seemed to be able to sense the same things that I did told her that something was odd and Tita Ganda told her about the presence she felt in the Jacuzzi room. They went their together and Tita Ganda asked forgiveness for the trespass and like magic the severe pain in her back was relieved. Could it be the pain medication that I gave her working? Could it be the massage that my mom gave her? Whatever it was she was ok when she left that room. 

I have not been back to the Pansol house since that eventful week but I am sure to go back. Ghosts aside it is always fun to hang out with my family. And maybe when I get to meet these not so friendly ghosts they could finally tell me why they are scaring people out of their wits. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Ano Daw?: Common Mispronounced Magic Card Names"

"Ano Daw?: Common Mispronounced Magic Card Names"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Bago ako magsimula ay gusto kong sabihin na hindi ako grammar nazi. Ang lahat ng inyong mababasa ay di kathang isip. Ito ay aking mga narinig at naranasan habang naglalaro , bumibili ng cards at kung minsan eh napadpad lang sa mga shops.

Minsan ang mga paguusap eh para bang sa pagitan ng dalawang adik na tinatamaan ng withdrawal o medyo high pa din. 

1) Ang Planeswalker #1 

Buyer: Kuya meron po ba kayo nung Planeswalker na blue?
Seller: Si Tezzeret? 
Buyer:Si Jeng po...
Seller: Jeng?
Buyer: Si Jeng Beleren po...
Seller: (Kunyari di narinig at seryoso pa din)Memory Adept lang ang meron eh...

2) Zombie...

"Meron po ba kayong GraveNigga?"

3) Ang planeswalker #2

Buyer: Meron po kayong Zoren?
Seller:(Makulit) Legaspi?
Buyer: (Seryoso) Markova po.
Seller:Zoren Markova?

"Does he look like he would promote Ice cream on TV?"
4) Combo...

"Kuya ang lakas nung bagong combo ngayon...yung 5 to cast na enchantment...Saging Bond!"

5) Djinn...

"Meron po ba kayo nung Kahamoti Djinn?"

6) Ang Planeswalker #3

Buyer: Do you have a Quote of the Hammer?

7) Goblin...

"Badtrip yung goblin na yun may pro blue! Saan kaya ako makakabili ng Goblin Chokeslam?

8) Guildmate...

Team Member #1: Anong guild mo?
Team Member #2: Yung Red/Green...Yung Drool...
Team Member #1: Puro laway naman yung guild niyo...

9) Soldier...

Player 1: Iyon na lang kulang ko...
Player 2: ano?
Player 1: Yung 1 to cast na white sa Theros...yung Soldier of the Panchon...
Player 2: Pang-araw talaga ng mga patay yun ah...

10) Board Sweep...

"Bad trip talaga pag naoverload yun...Linis ang board...Ang lakas talaga ng Cyclopic Rift!"

"Find the Cyclops in the rift..."

At ayan...malamang na marami pa kayong narinig na ibang mga mispronounced Magic Card names.Kung isa ka sa mga narinig ko salamat at napatawa mo ako. Isa lang sa mga dahilan kaya masarap maglaro ng magic at minsan ok lang din na makinig. Di ka lang natutuwa sa laro , natutuwa ka din sa mga nakakasama mo habang naglalaro ka. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Prossh , Skyraider of Kher EDH: A Little Dragon Worship"

"Prossh , Skyraider of Kher EDH: A Little Dragon Worship"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Prossh is a dragon and like most of the powerful dragons in the world of Magic it actually commands admiration. A bunch of Kobolds gather in the dragons wake whenever he appears. Appearing from the very mana that is used to summon him and then like most dragons he makes a snack of all his worshippers to make himself stronger. Worshippers = Snacks. Pretty good equation for him. 

Prossh as a commander is made up of Jund colors. a 5/5 Flyer for 6 mana. Dying only means that he comes back much stronger than before. If you get 6 Kobolds when you initially cast him then you add 2 more for each time that he appears from the command zone.

"Unhealthy Snacks but Nourishing - Prossh"
The Kobolds would be great with a shared animosity because they could attack for massive damage. 6 Kobolds means that there is six 5/1 attackers. 30 damage right there. Kills someone in 1 on 1 EDH where 30 life is the norm. 

Or if you are the kind of EDH player who prefers General damage then you could swing Prossh himself. You could sacrifice the 6 Kobolds give him a +1/0 for each of the creatures that you sacrificed. 11 General damage. 2 more swings and that makes one of your opponents history. 

Two options for one awesome EDH deck.Someone asked me online what was the best 2 decks to buy for someone who was just getting into EDH. I said that deck with Jeleva and this one. Prossh is an extremely aggressive build. And if there is one thing that gets the spark building in someone that is to summon cool creatures and win with massive attacks. Prossh fits the bill. 

What Prossh also offers is a sacrifice outlet. Melira-Woodfall Primus fits right in here if you want that combo. Gravepact also causes havoc on the battlefield when you sacrifice a creature to Prossh. When each opponent sacrifices a creature when one of your creatures die it wont be long before nothing is left on their side of the board. And honestly who is going to miss a couple of Kobolds who could just come back when you summon your General again?

"Keep em coming...Bigger after Prossh snacks on Kobolds"
Jund is full of creatures that take advantage of creatures going to the grave. Things get bigger when something dies. Like Scarland Thrinax and Deathbringer Thoctar.  There are creatures that create more creatures when they die and those could also be used to be sacrificed or on the attack. One of them is Sprouting Thrinax. The cycle goes on and on. 

Prossh is really shaping up to be a very excting commander. He ranks as number 2 in my book next to Nekusar. What is not to love about a hard working Dragon like this?  

"Poor Mans RDW 2013: Blistering Regathan Firecat"

"Poor Mans RDW 2013: Blistering Regathan Firecat"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Red has been my favorite color since I started playing magic. So much power in just one color. The current standard format has the color a bit weakened. Slowed down a bit. No lightning bolts killing for one mana or haste creatures that burst out rampaging on the get go. However , Red still has a lot of creatures that put opponents life totals in the red way faster than any other color.And this is just for the pauper format. 

Here is the deck list that I am going to run with red for pauper:

22 X Mountains
22 Lands

4 X Akroan Crusader
4 X Ember Beast
4 X Gore-house Chainwalker
4 X Splatter Thug
4 X Frostburn Weird
2 X Regathan Firecat
22 Creatures

4 X Shock
4 X Lightning Strike
4 X Madcap skills
4 X Titans Strenght
16 spells

Some of the stand out creatures here is the Ember Beast ,  a 3/4 beast for a mere 3 mana? Not bad right? The thing though is that it can't attack or block on its own. The answer to that is have other creatures to attack and block with. The Akroan Crusader creates a lot of tokens when it is a target for one of your spells. A lot of creatures attacking at the same time and tokens dying is not much of a loss because you could always create more. 

Gore-house Chainwalker and Splatter Thug are shoo-ins here as well because of their Unleash abilities. A 3/2 and 3/3 First striker? Not bad in the damage department as well. The Frostburn Weird and Regathan Firecat are potential 3/1 and 4/1 attackers.

And in the tradition of Sligh there is burn to kill blockers and the awesome madcap skills to make sure that your 4/1 becomes an unblockable 7/1 cat. I guess with the Madcap skills its doing a very good Blistering Firecat imitation. The version that is harder to block and is not sacrificed when the turn ends. I have not played with a Blistering Firecat for awhile and to actually play one in pauper well that is an experience that is worth it.

I am going to enjoy Red in Pauper. Blistering Firecat in common too! It really is time to reach out and burn someone again.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Outbreak Tablas Survivors: Love"

"Outbreak Tablas Survivors: Love"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

(My name is not important. I have been sent to seek out the survivors from the Outbreak on Tablas. It has been proving to be difficult because there are so few of them. After months of tracking I have found one survivor in a squatters area near Quezon City. Her name is Love)

I was 15 during that time. I really had no idea of what we were about to see out there in Canduyong that night. I was out there in the most Northern Point of Odiongan, the biggest town proper in Tablas. The beaches there were beautiful after the Governors development plans worked out. Dugong Point was a great place to look for the migrating mammals during the summer time and there were a lot of tourists in the area. It was also a place where a lot of the young people go to meet these same foreigners. I was there to meet him...

(You mean your lover and High school Teacher Hernan right?)

Yes. We knew that Dugong Point was deserted on Wednesdays night because it had to be cleaned. It was the only place we could meet in peace because though Tablas was a large place , it was small enough that people always knew someone from one end to the other. From Calatrava to Santa Fe , which is the southernmost part of the Island.News travels fast when you are underage and having an an affair with your married High School Teacher.  He knew the custodians at Dugong Point and we had the place to ourselves during Wednesday nights. I have told my parents that I was at a friends house out here in Canduyong for weekly research. Simple folk that they are they believed me. 

I went ahead of Hernan in the cabin right next to the peak. We have done this so many times in the past year that it was all routine. I went out to the viewing platform all by myself and relaxed. The gentle sound of the waves. The song of crickets in the dark. The Sun barely setting in the clear water that was right in front of me. First I heard that sound , a whistling sound that came from a distance. 

Then I saw it. It was like a huge fireball from the sky. At first I did not know what it was. The sound that it made was getting clearer. Tearing metal. I knew it had to be a plane. I saw it crash into the sea. Its flames set everything ablaze. The waters were a brilliant orange. I think it was all the fuel that was leaking from it. Then as if this was not strange enough I saw what looked liked a burning man open a hatch before the flaming plane sunk deeper in the water. He stood up. Jumped in to the water and was gone. How could anyone survive that?It seemed like hours before I could move. Did I really see that? Did I really see a plane crash into the sea? Was that really a man or a shadow? A trick of the light. 

I heard footsteps from behind me and I turned in time to see Hernan , a look of concern on his bearded face. I told him what I saw. He said that it was not safe for us to be here because a lot of people would be going here soon to investigate that crash. We decided to leave. 

We went down from Dugong point to the base to see that some people with torches were already beginning to gather.Some fishermen were able to bring burned corpses ashore. 2 of them. The caretakers of the place were looking at them as we passed by. I was afraid but I glanced at them too...I swear that with all those burns they should not have been moving but one of them moved and moaned. One of the caretakers thought that the burned person was saying something so he crouched low and lowered his ear to listen. 

The thing happened so fast. It grabbed the caretaker and bit his neck. The caretaker struggled to break free  but the burned corpse just held on. The people who were holding torches started to bash the reanimated corpse. In their panic they snuffed out the only light they had in the place. I did not know that I was witnessing the first bite that would infect the whole of Canduyong and the northern part of the Island. All I know is that I was scared. I was unable to move and afraid what would come from that darkness. 

Hernan grabbed my hand and we headed for his motorcycle.We ran. I started to complain that I had to get my own bike.  He said that he would get us out of here much faster. He would just go back for my ride tomorrow once things are more settled. I heard the other screams as we rode away from the compound. There were about ten men around those burned things. What was happening to them? 

We rode as fast as we could to reach the town proper. When we passed by the old abandoned Day Care Center we knew we were safe. I swear I saw a girl and guy  who looked like my cousin Peter go in at the back but that could just have been my nerves playing on me. Hernan brought me straight home and that was the last time that I would ever see him. He didn't even kiss me , he didn't say anything. He might have been worried about his family. I would never know. 

I went into the house and I was met with chaos. All of our house help were busy packing things. One of them , an old woman was glad to see me and asked me to pack as much of my clothes that I could. I asked them why? " It is your father. He said to pack. We will be picked up by the next copter."

It did not make any sense to me. My mother and father were already gone the old woman said. They were picked up by someone within our clan at the Plaza. The help was instructed to look for me and to make sure that I was on the next chopper that would be arriving soon. I did not understand. I still had school in the morning and there was Hernan. I had to follow.But what about my friends? My teachers? Were they being evacuated too? The household help did not answer me and just kept on packing.

When the chopper arrived it brought us to a big ship off the coast of Aklan. Apparently most of our family was already there. My parents would not tell me what was going on , they did not even ask why I came back to the house.They just seemed so relieved to see me alive. I kept on hearing them saying "Thank God for Peter".

Peter was a computer Technician. How could he afford to move us all out of the island? It is still a mystery to me how the guy could have done it all on a Computer Technicians salary. When the outbreak was over and it was time to rebuild Romblon , an Uncle of mine ran for Governor and won. Most of my family are back there now but I never went with them.I ran away.

I never went back because there was nothing to go back to. Everyone I knew was dead. My teachers and my friends. Eaten or Turned into Yawa. I did not know anyone. And Hernan. Hernan kept his promise. He went back to Canduyong to get my motorcycle and never came back. Romblon was nothing but a reminder of my idiotic childhood. why should I go back there? The world has changed and so was I. Sometimes people could rebuild their lives and move on. They say that you could go back to what things were. I knew the truth though. There was nothing for me there. There was nothing for me anywhere and that island would only remind me of people who should have still been alive if I was able to do anything for them. 

I may not have faced those monsters because I was safely tucked away but they took everything away from me as well. I ran away from my family because they did not do anything for those people that I cared for as well. 

(The sound of a baby crying at the back broke Loves thought.)

I am so sorry. Maybe we could continue this some other time. My baby needs me.

(I showed myself out the door.This girl knows nothing about Peter and his involvement. It is better that way for her and her family.)

(I put the safety back on the small gun hidden in my skirt. I would not need it tonight.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Darksteel Mutation: Shelling Generals"

"Darksteel Mutation: Shelling Generals"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

One of the determining factors for victory in an EDH game is the ability of your general to come back again and again so that you could take full advantage of the ability that he brings to the battlefield. Spot or Mass Removal usually just brings it back to the Command zone just waiting for enough mana so that you could recast it.

So the most painful of these removals involve putting a decks General inside a library like Hallowed Burial or Condemn. It negates any General advantage since it is out of a particular players reach. With the release of Commander 2013 a new kind of measure to control generals is introduced. 

Enter the Darksteel Mutation. A 2 to cast enchantment that gives people playing with white mana an alternate method of controlling generals. The great thing about this particular aura is that it changes a creature into a 0/1 Indestructible Insect creature that loses all of its abilities. 

This means that any General enchanted with it becomes a 0/1 indestructible blocker. A Darksteel shell that will not allow it to be anymore than this insect.Any creature could be a target for this (except those with Hexproof and shroud of course) aura. It really has to depend on which nasty creature you assess to be the biggest threat to your plans. Normally that comes in the form of an opposing General. Since you do not outright kill it or exile it , this general is safely shelled. Barring any sacrifice effects or -1/-1 removals this creature would simply be in the game and not affect the board state.This would mess up a lot of plans that your opponents have cooked up especially if those plans hinge on their General being around to do its thing. No card advantage from Damia? No Aggression from SkullBriar? No Recursion from Derevi? No lifegain from Oloro? The list is endless and I expect that this little 2 mana enchantment will be key in keeping all those massive creatures in check.

Here is to hoping that you are able to draw and fetch it in time to make a difference. In the mean time keep on brewing and keep on playing. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Shattergang Brothers EDH: What do goblins do?"

"Shattergang Brothers EDH: What do goblins do?"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

"A goblins got to do what a goblins go to do."

There is an urban legend that has been circulating since World War 2. It says that when something malfunctions or gets broken it is always a goblin that has done the deed. With a creature like Shattergang Brothers this legend it seems resonates through all the known planes as well.

So what is it that goblins actually do anyway? I mean aside from the obvious, get plentiful and attack pretty quick. Well  , the truth is goblins really destroy a lot of things , from blowing up lands to killing creatures goblins have been the fodder and meat of all these shenanigans. So what if you had something like Shattergang Brothers as General for your EDH deck? Well you get a creature that lets you sacrifice goblins and other creatures so that something else gets destroyed or in this case sacrificed. 

Boasting of the colors of Jund , Black/Red/Green Shattergang Brothers will let you play almost all the goblins ever printed from Magics 20 year history. You have the staple Red Goblins and those from the Lorwyn block which are Black and Green. One exception though is the Boros Goblin with a hybrid mana of red and white. Sorry little dude EDH doesn't let you hang out with your little brothers. 

There are 3 things that can be taken cared of with the Shattergang Brothers and these are other creatures , artifacts and enchantments. Things that your opponents control and none on your end.It seems like a fair trade if you are sacrificing artifacts or creatures that are beneficial going to the grave. Like Goblin Gardener that destroys a land when it dies or artifacts like Ichor Wellspring from Scars of Mirrodin that can draw you a card when it goes to the graveyard. Mortis dogs is also a good choice for this kind of deck since it deals damage when it dies. Spine of Ish Sah would also be perfect , smashing one permanent while going back to your hand when you sacrifice it. 

You have to sacrifice something to have others sacrifice one of theirs as well. Goblins have the distinct advantage of being one of the best token producers in the game and goblin tokens are as expendable as they come. So the advantage goes to the Shattergang Brothers when it comes to creature control , unless of course you are facing another tokenator EDH deck. 

There seems to be a lot of cards coming out of the Scars of Mirrodin block that are a perfect fit for this deck.Slag Fiend is One creature that counts artifacts in all graveyards for its power and toughness will find a home here. It can grow very big with all of the artifacts being thrown away. Viridian Revel which is a 2 Green and one colorless mana enchantment from the Scars of Mirrodin Block that allows you to draw a card whenever an artifact goes into an opponents graveyard. If you also  really need to sacrifice an enchantment then this is your card too.

Goblin Bidding could also make a combo appearance in this deck. Goblin Sharp Shooter + Goblin Sledder or Skirk Prospector + Tons of Goblin + Patriarch's Bidding. Black and Red are in the Generals Color identity and pinging someone to death and returning goblins is really a fun way to end a game. 

This is going to be such a fun EDH deck to play. Goblin Fetchers in Black and Red are both available here as well. Allowing you to use those combos with comes into play abilities or combos like Clickslither + Goblins or Krenko cranking up the fun level with all those crazy tokens joining the fray. There are tons to work with here and it is really up to the players personal preferences. 

Shattergang Brothers just let us do what goblins do.   

"Nekusar the Mindrazer EDH: Drawing Death"

"Nekusar the Mindrazer EDH: Drawing Death"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

When my brother and I bought our first box of Magic cards way back in the 8th Edition.He opened a pack that had a rare card called Underworld Dreams. 

This card punished you for drawing cards. 1 damage for each card that you draw. My friend Nolan who is our resident Draw Mage (Mages who make decks that do nothing but draw cards) would hate this card. Hate it to death. 

I thought of partnering this with a Teferi's Puzzle Box which would make a player to put all the cards in his hand at the bottom of his library at the very beginning of his/her draw phase and draw the same number of cards. So if a player has 7 cards at hand they draw 7 cards which in my view at that time would mean 7 damage! Plus the additional card that would be drawn at the actual draw phase.

I didn't know about it then but I was thinking about my first combo that did not deal with Goblins or Burn spells. I think it was a very special moment for me. My only problem was that I did not know which deck that this killer combo would survive in. I was so in love with Red that I did not even bother to think of the possibilities.

Fast forward to Commander 2013 and the present time. Nekusar the Mindrazer instantly caught my eye , though I do have a hard time trying to concoct land combinations and strategies for Grixis EDH decks. I just had to have this General. He was a walking albeit Unbreathing Underworld Dreams! He dealt damage when people drew cards! Not only that he forces people to draw additional cards each draw step! 2 Damage each turn! For each and every opponent. The damage is subtle , not really all that noticeable until it really piles up. A sword of Judgement now hangs over every ones head. People are dead by the 20th turn that he comes in.

Of course Teferi's Puzzle Box would be a perfect fit in this particular EDH deck. Imagine having a Nekusar and Underworld Dreams and the Puzzle Box in play? Damage looks like this on each opponents turn: Players hand (ex. 7) + Normal Draw +Nekusar Extra Draw = 18 damage! 9 from Nekusar and 9 from Underworld Dreams! And that's just at the beginning of the turn! 

If you also add Pyschosis Crawler in the mix.The damage would now look like this:

Opponents Turn: Players hand (ex. 7) + Normal Draw +Nekusar Extra Draw = 18 damage!
 Your turn: Your Hand ( ex. 7 cards)  + Normal Draw + Nekusar Extra Draw on your turn...Now thanks to the Psychosis Crawler when you draw the 9 cards you also just dealt 9 damage to every opponent on the table! 27 damage in total! Plus you also get to attack with a pretty big Psychosis Crawler if you have a full hand. 

Forget about 20 turns , opponents can very well die in just 2!The really cool thing about this is that everyone is literally doing it to themselves. Dying by the mere act of drawing. Everyone is doing it by blowing up their own freaking minds! 

Now how about that combo? Death by Draw! I never got to use it during 8th edition but I am glad that I am finding a home for it now. Thank you Nekusar the Mindrazer. You make Zombies and Lichlords proud everywhere. 

"Tempt with Immortality: The Reanimators offer"

"Tempt with Immortality: The Reanimators offer"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

EDH is a game of multiple decisions. Successive decisions that could either make you win or lose.It was not so surprising then that Tempting Offer became a mechanic for cards in the 2nd set of Commander 2013. The interaction that this creates is potential chaos.Beautiful Beautiful Chaos. 

Take for example the card Tempt with Immortality. For 5 mana you could reanimate a creature from your graveyard and in turn your opponents are faced with a decision either to reanimate one of their best creatures as well. The catch though is that for each of your opponents who become tempted with this necromantic offer you get to put one more creature on your side of the board. It sounds like Sepulchral Primordial and it is the spell equivalent of this excellent card and speaking of Sepulchral Primordial it is actually one of the best targets for this particular spell.

"Pick me...Pick me!"
Timing is everything of course. And you need to look for a few things before investing your 5 mana on this spell:

- Creatures on all of your opponents graveyards. 3 or more preferably. Casting this spell is probably better after a Mass Removal spell has just been resolved.

- Open mana available to your opponents. A measly counter can ruin your fun.

- If the creatures on the opponents side of the board is much weaker than the monsters you could reanimate. Otherwise you could just hold off until there are worthy targets.

- Some control mages would actually let this spell resolve if they believe that they could have some sort of advantage over you so check that out before casting it as well.

Tempt with Immortality is a really great card for multi-player games because of all the decision making involved. Making games more interactive instead of just waiting for something to give or an extended war of attrition.This card will really shake things up come November. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Dark Cultists: Black Devotion Pauper 2013"

"The Dark Cultists: Black Devotion Pauper 2013"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

One of the hottest common cards to come out of Theros is the Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Despite the high casting cost at 5 mana it is the corner stone for some standard strategies that literally turn the tables on opponents by sucking in life and adding this life to the controller. It has become a magnificent finishing stab in many black decks. 

It is with this same hope that I try to carry the winning ways of Gray Merchant of Asphodel into the pauper standard arena with this deck list: 

22 X Swamps
22 Lands

4 X Dead Reveler  
4 X Grim Roustabout 
4 X Festering Newt
4 X Shadow Alley Denizen 
3 X Rakdos Shred-Freak 
3 X Gray Merchant of Asphodel
22 Creatures 

4 X Scourge Mark
4 X Devour Flesh
4 X Pharika's Cure
4 X Dark Favor
16 spells 


4 X Shrivel
4 X Launch Party
4 X Quag Sickness
3 X Read the Bones
15 Cards

4 X Viper's Kiss
4 X Wring Flesh

Now the creatures that I have added to this deck are mostly from Ravnica. The Black half of the Rakdos Cult make up most of the offensive power in this mono black build.Meet Mr.Haste 2/1 , Mr. Unleash 2/2 and  Mr. Unleash 3/4  or as they are known Rakdos Shred-Freak , Grim Roustabout and Dead Reveler. These guys have become fast favorites of mine because they give you the most bang for your back in this format. Rakdos Shred-Freak also give you 2 black mana for Devotion purposes. 

"Look 2 black Mana!"
Festering Newt is also a mainstay in this deck because he can add to the Devotion to Black if he survives in later turns or could block a creature and then put -1/-1 counter on another creature when it dies much like what the Necropede did for my infect decks. With all the 3/1's and 1/1's flying around (I am looking at you Boros!) you could kill 2 birds with one Newt..err...Stone.

Shadow Alley Denizen also makes the list here because she makes makes sure that all of your offensive weapons would hit home by making them have Intimidate. In case that you are facing an opponent that has some black creatures in the mix and are threatening to make your Intimidate useless I have added a whole suite of Removal spells in the deck in the form of Devour Flesh and Pharika's Cure. Intimidate the other creatures away!

"I'm sure the Rakdos guys don't mind a little Scourging..."
Now to make things a lot more hotter for your opponents I have also added Offensive Auras in the form of Scourge Mark and Dark Favor which give your creatures +1/0 and +3/+1 respectively. Scourge Mark has the added bonus of drawing you an extra card and adding to the Devotion count as a permanent as well(The reason why I did not choose the awesome Read the Bones as card draw).

All this offense in your hands without the Gray Merchant of Asphodel even hitting the floor. 3 copies ought to be enough to finish your opponents off. Assuming that you have cast at least one permanent in the last 5 turns you are looking at least 7 damage the moment that the Gray Merchant of Asphodel steps in. Why not 4 copies of this cool card? You don't really want to get a hold of this card early.3 lessens your chance of drawing so that it can be available in later turns. 

And here we are ,  Black Devotion Pauper 2013. A faster and meaner approach with the Darkness on your side.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Terra Ravager: Drawn to Land"

"Terra Ravager: Drawn to Land"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

When playing EDH there are certain cards that are considered to be pain magnets. Cards like Luminarch Ascension assures that all the players on the board would want to damage you and damage you as often as they could so that the enchantment would not reach the specified counters in order for it to go on online.

With the 2nd batch of Commander products coming out this November I find myself looking at Terra Ravager and whistling. This is probably the first time that a player would be targeted by a creature because he or she has the most lands. And it does make sense because the 4 mana casting creature gets an +X/O until end of turn for each of the lands that the opponent you attacked has on his side of the board. Green mages or anyone who plays any splash of green for mana ramp is in particular trouble here because they are the ones who usually double or triple their rate of land drops in EDH games.

Terra Ravager then punishes them for this mana advantage by being the beneficiary of the +X/0. If they have 10 lands then a 10/4 Terra Ravager would kill them off in 4 or less turns. And 4 mana is comparatively easy casting in EDH games.

"Hesitation...When a Terra Ravager is in play."
All of the other colors especially blue rely on a lot of artifacts to accelerate mana so in the eyes of the Terra Ravager they are not high priority targets. I expect people to put in some sort of spot removal in decks because of this one card.If they don't have some form of it already.

All in all I expect Terra Ravager to make quite a splash when it is released. Almost any deck with Red would want it because it is a potential finisher in an environment that does not normally pack a lot of spot removal. 

"Lost in the mists: Turbo Fog Pauper"

"Lost in the mists: Turbo Fog Pauper"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

For a format that relies more on heavy aggression and board dominance based on the number of creatures on the battlefield this deck designed by my brother John De leon takes the challenge of winning in pauper with a different approach.

Here is the Turbo Fog Pauper deck "Lost in the Mists":

7 X Forest 
5 X Plains 
3 X Mountain 
3 X Gruul guildgate
3 X Selesnya guildgate
3 X Boros guildgate 
24 lands

2 X Sedge Scorpion 
3 X Deadly Recluse 
2 X Vulpine Goliath 
3 X Saruli Gatekeepers 
2 X Nessian Asp 
2 X Nylea's Disciple
4 X Zhar-taa Druid 
18 Creatures

4 X Defend the hearth 
4 X Fog 
4 X Riot control 
2 X Druid's deliverance 
4 X Pacifism
16 Spells

Side board: 
2 X Forced Adaption 
1 X Giant Growth 
1 X Rumbling Baloth 
1 X Divine Favor 
4 X Naturalize 
2 X Fade into Antiquity 
2 X Shredding Winds 
2 X Yoked Ox

While opponents are busy clogging up the battlefield with weenies or tokens this deck quietly lays down guildgates ( 3 kinds of them in fact) and is content to not do anything in the early turns. For all intents and purposes it does appear weak because opponents could just smash through. The trick here is to not get critical damage. To not have your life total down to 3 or 5. 

At the early turns the deck is just happy to block with Deathtouch creatures like Sedge Scorpion and just exchange dead bodies. Then the shift happens when your opponents finds their attack connecting less and less and the creatures on the other side of the board becoming bigger and bigger like the Vulpine Goliath or the Nesian Asp.Meanwhile their best creatures are getting Pacified and Burned.

Opponents begin to notice that their damage is thwarted every turn and if they have a lot of creatures that have been stopped by Pacifism this deck turns the whole thing around. Riot control prevents damage and gains life for each creature that the opponents control. The amount of life gain is crazy and the psychological effect of this fact will become very evident. You see frustration mounting since whoever controls this deck dies hard. 

To add insult to injury , some wins that this deck earns even comes not from attacking but by merely having a set of the Zhur-Taa druid dealing damage every time it casts a Fog effect!Talk about literally doing nothing.

The deck takes into account the Magic Players Psyche and the frustration that ensues when things are no longer in their control. Kind of like being lost in the mist and you do not know when something will strike you down. You punch at your opponent and you don't deal anything to them. 

Be wary of the fog because you never know when you will be lost in it. Keep on brewing. Keep on playing! 

"Greaves of War: Haste On Demand"

"Greaves of War: Haste On Demand"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Before the introduction of the sub type of Artifacts known as equipments , Red was the best color that had haste creatures. Creatures that could attack on the same turn that you summoned them. In terms of game play this meant that Red was painted in a corner and despite the sudden impact and explosiveness of Reds power to destroy opponents in quick successive attacks there was always a Terror , Swords to Plowshare or Unsummon that could hold any creature at bay. It was always expected of Red to have Burn and creatures always ready to explode when they hit the ground.

Now , with the appearance of 3 artifacts all the other colors could share in the fun and unpredictability that used to be the trump card of Red decks. I am here to compare the 3 artifacts that could currently make your creatures an instant threat once they appear on your side of the board.

The first artifact is the Lightning Greaves , the first artifact equipment of its kind. For 2 colorless mana any creature could gain haste and attack along side the creatures you already have in play. During its first appearance in Mirrodin the fact was abused by Leonin SkyHunters which attacked unopposed from the sky and dealing 2 damage each turn while more of its kind appeared. In more recent EDH times the Lightning Greaves is the best choice to protect EDH Commanders from spot removal. It is easy to cast and much easier to equip with a zero equipping cost. The only draw back for some is the shroud mechanic that virtually makes the creature it has equipped to untouchable. Your opponents and spells. The abilities your permanents control as well. Most of the time no one complains about it because some commanders are just content to merely stand there and effect the game state in other ways. Like Sigarda or Teysa , Orzhov Scion.

The second artifact that came out of a core set is the Swift foot boots which a lot of has said to be a less powered version of the awesome Lightning Greaves. For the same mana cost of 2  , creatures gain haste as well but this time the mechanic for protection is slightly different. Hexproof. It means that you could still affect your own equipped creature with your spells and permanent abilities like make it unblockable by attaching an Aura Enchantment on it or Pumping it with a Gigantic Growth. The cost for equipping it though is a lot bigger at 2 colorless mana. Some EDH deck builders consider the redundancy with Lightning Greaves as a blessing because some strategies involve giving haste to creatures like the Zirilan of the Claw EDH deck that allows you to summon Dragons and sacrifice them at the end of the turn , what would be the point of summoning dragons that would just stand there and do nothing then just die at the end of the turn right? so the answer is to let them swing in for massive damage before they are lost to you forever. 

The last Haste giving artifact comes from the Plane of Theros , the boots of the god of speed. The Fleetfeather sandals. Built much like the Swiftfoot boots at 2 mana casting cost and 2 mana equipping cost these Sandals were made as an ode to Mercury and well to speed things up in a standard environment like Theros where things are a bit slow. The Haste ability this time has an added Flying ability , Evasion is the name of the game and with monsters that are more ground based this Flight ability really is a much needed boost in attack. This also allows other creatures to connect more efficiently especially if dealing damage gives them an extra edge . like making a player sacrifice creatures or lands or even just allow you to draw more cards for advantage. 

Compared to the other 2 former artifacts Fleetfeather Sandals seems like a great liability because those attached to it have an increased risk of being stopped in its tracks but it does give you a third option in decks where Haste is the corner strategy. It is relatively easier  to track down since it is in the common slot and has more printed copies in circulation when compared to the other two.

So there you have it , The Greaves of War are at your disposal they don't just look good but are key components to your victory. Choose your gear wisely. 

"The Call: When an Agent takes a call way too far..."

"The Call: When an Agent takes a call way too far..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

It was a lazy afternoon and after watching a particularly bad movie and almost being put to sleep we put this DVD in and well...we enjoyed it. 

Plot: Jordan (Halle Barry) is a 911 operator who is on top her game. Her world begins to change when she gets a 911 caller killed by accident. She is haunted by this mistake so much that takes teaching. Her past comes to haunt her even more when the same killer abducts another young girl. In a raise against time and a serial killer Jordan must figure out how to save this young girl.

The Good:
- The very good about this movie is that it really has a fast pace. The action never stops and there is constant tension that keeps the viewer glued.Well at least if you watched the first few minutes of it  , you would be glued as to how 911 operators handle the call.

- The way how 911 operators operate. Most people would not be able to handle that much stress.All those screaming and killing and death. I applaud these men and women for their efforts every day for keeping people safe. 

- The Ending of the movie. Well , the way that justice was served in the end. Watch and it see for yourself. 

The Bad:
- As a serial killer/ Antagonist there was not enough creepiness. Nobody knows how many he has killed but those watched knew the reason. He is obsessed with his sisters hair. Why are people so attached to hair anyway? 

"Really? My hair?All this for my hair?"
- Nosy people. Well in the case of the guy who just kept on following the serial killer in his attempt to offer a helping hand. He ends up getting stabbed in the stomach and dumped in the trunk of his own car. So much for being a good Samaritan. 

The Ugly:
- The way Americans kids are portrayed. All that swearing and all that vulgar language for a young girl. Well Abigail Breslin's friend at least.I am sure that not everyone is like that but it does make you wonder. 

This is the kind of movie to watch when you are bored. The fast pacing and over all thrill are there to keep you glued to your seat. The fear of death hovers but so to does the hope of surviving the ordeal. You stick around in hopes that justice will be met out and that there will be closure in the end. Watch and see.