Saturday, January 18, 2014

"Moon Hunters : Damian in Darkness"

"Moon Hunters : Damian in Darkness"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

I woke up to darkness and a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.Karin , she must be part of some syndicate. The kind that cuts people up and ship their parts somewhere. Maybe my organs would be harvested for one of those Black Market things and someone in Europe would end up with my kidneys. Lucky Kidneys  , they would be Europeans for the rest of their lives and me I'd just be plain old dead. 

I read somewhere that victims should be drugged.
I could still move though and I could still think , albeit absurd things like my kidneys in Europe. What I should really be upset about is the way Karin just sucked me to Oblivion, I have been bullied before but no one actually punched me and I mean to be knocked out by a girl, I'm not even the fighting type. Girls thought I was just the guy they needed to talk to get the grades. I could still feel my jaw aching. 

I tried to stand up but only managed to hit my head , yup ,I'm already in a coffin. Good for me. My eyes should be adjusting right about now to this darkness but it seems not even ambient light is getting in here.

And of course just when I thought of light the top of my "Coffin" was now being lifted away.I could see torches all around me forming a circle of brightness that was burning my eyes. Several heads were looking at me , all of them masked with symbols on their foreheads.Funny thing is all of those symbols looked like flames in different shapes. A swirling one that looked like a tornado , flames shaped like a hand , A Phoenix , A circle of flame and one that looked like a cat blazing out of a cave.Hooboy. I might have been wrong about the Organ harvesting  thing. I might be offered to some cults blood rites. Things just keep getting better and better.

The masked heads moved away and someone familiar looked down. It was Karin , I tried saying her name but it just sounded like a croak. She appeared very concerned and touched the side of my face where she socked me. I mean this is some weird sado-masochistic thing , she was touching me as if to apologize. 

"Stand up Damian" Karin said , her eyes were much softer now even with all the flames reflecting in them. "I had to bring you here. The elders would need to know about you before the others."

I had a lot of questions but I was still pretty mad about this whole thing so I kept silent. I felt like I have been in this place before. I always knew that there were caves in the surrounding hillsides.When my Dad was still alive he would always take me even if all I did was doodle and complain about all the gear he was strapping on to me. This one cave , he pointed out a rock formation that looked liked a womans breasts. I didn't see what was funny but my dad was bursting to tears with laughter. I was seeing those same Breast formations now , a few feet away. Who knew there was a cult here. Who knew that my new classmate was part of it.

"Come with me Damian, the Elders are waiting" Karin said softly to break my never ending thoughts.

Karin held my hand and pulled me. Wow her hands are soft. I have never held a girls hand before , I don't think my mothers hands count. I was finding that Karins hands fit around mine just right.

She lead me through a series of tunnels and with each turn I thought that I would be further dragged into darkness , never to see the light of day. I never struggled or complained and this surprised me ,I did not feel fear and that is something to be said about someone who is constantly looking at shadows to make sure that they are not moving. This time with Karin though , these elders. I was overwhelmed more with curiosity rather than fear.What could they possibly want from a nerd like me?

This dark maze ended in a hall that was blazing with light. The whole place was carved of stone and there were alcoves of some unknown figures all leading from the entrance to the raised Dais in the center. I counted around 30 figures on the alcoves both left and right of me. The hall was not filled with masked cultists though. It only had 5 other people who were seated in the dais.I recognized the symbols on their foreheads from earlier but other than the masks they wore normal clothes.The tallest of them was in the center and 2 others were at both of his sides. 

"Step forward Damian the Witness" the tall one said to me in a voice that did not offer the choice of resistance. Or basically the choice of resisting and not being able to live. So the choice was easy.I stepped forward and left Karin who blended in with the shadows of the alcoves. 
"Bring out the prisoner"

At the side of the hall 4 Robed men , each of them having that Rasengan like thing pointed at a ragged looking man in the center. I could see that these were men that were built to defend and assault. They were huge and each of their robes had a diamond shaped flame. As they grew closer , I could see something different about the ragged man. He was walking and crawling at the same time , he had a few pairs of extra limbs and when he lifted his head he had a huge pair of antennae that suddenly flickered out of nowhere.
It made him look like a giant cockroach. And when he and his guards were a few feet away from me my nose told me quite frankly that he smelled like a cockroach too. 

"So tell me Damian , what do you see?" The tall one asked.

"What? You mean about Cockroach guy over there?"

There was a collective gasp from all around the alcoves. I could sense that there were hundreds of eyes looking at me. The elders looked at each other and whispered amongst themselves. The murmurs from the shadows seemed to stretch on to an eternity. All because I could see the cockroach a few feet away from me. And Speaking of the roach guy he was looking at me with a smile that was reserved for nerds who have found a collectors comic book in the bargain bin. 

"Karin, come before the light" one of the elders on the right said. She was a woman with a melodious but authoritative voice. Much like a grand mother would sound only tougher.

"Damian is now under your care. Instruct him and keep him till the next Full moon.Others will come for him. You must be there when they do."

Karin bowed to the woman and at the other elders. I felt like I should have said something. They were talking about me and I did not know what they meant about Karin taking care of me. She walked to my side and looked me in the eye. For a split second I saw pity in her eyes for me though I could not understand why.Then she smiled a sad smile.  

"Karin...I just wanted to ask what they meant when..."

I never got to finish. I knew what would happen.I could see her fist coming at me. It surprised me that I did not step away.Before the blow hit me all I was thinking was. "There has to be a better way of moving me around."

"Heading to the Silver Screen:Magic:The Gathering"

"Heading to the Silver Screen:Magic:The Gathering"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

"LOS ANGELES, Calif. & PAWTUCKET, R.I. January 14, 2014 -- Twentieth Century Fox and Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) have joined forces to make a series of films based upon Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast’s fantasy-adventure property, MAGIC: THE GATHERING. Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past), whose Genre Films banner is based on the Fox Lot, will serve as the franchise’s creative steward and produce in close partnership with Hasbro."

Since work was getting in the way of writing I am just finally getting to write about this. And let me just say that I am greeting it with mixed feelings.

Finally someone realized that Magic really is a great product with a lot of history and stories to play around with. It also happens to have a very devoted fan base. They will be making a series of Films based on our favorite game. Magic:The Gathering.I am happy about the news but a part of me is dreading it as well.

The dread part stems from the awful experience of seeing fantasy films that well...suck.And a movie based on Magic that sucks well , that is just something that will be absolutely unforgivable . I hope they don't treat this as some sort of kids game.People literally grew up with the game and will be expecting a product that will probably have people asking them about the game.Or at least have people say , "So that is why you love playing that game so much."

There are concerns that the strategy game would not translate well to the big screen then again the game part of the franchise might not be the thing that the movie producers would be focusing on.The books and stories enhanced the gaming experience , I hope the movies they produce will do the same.  

Magic has a whole lot of heroes and villains to choose from. Each expansion has a plane and a theme of struggle to work on.All would look beautiful on the screen.I hope they focus on the Planeswalkers because inwardly every player has that desire. To traverse the planes and see the multiverse. To summon spells and creatures. I hope that they present the magic part well.

I want to see the planes come to life.Dominaria ,  Mirrodin , Kamigawa , Innistrad and Phyrexia in particular.Any story that they could come up with should show the uniqueness of the plane it is set on , though it would serve as a back drop , the treat of seeing it on the big screen is enough for me.

I wish that they do not mess up any of the characters because they are sacred to players from all around the world.Jace is easily the planeswalker of choice which they could build a story around.A lot of actors could play him too. There have also been talks that The Rock would make a cool looking Garruk. It is a great fit.Regardless of the actors they choose I just hope they treat the characters right. Much like the First and Second Batman Films from Chris Nolan and Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings.

A lot of hopes but only the future would tell if this endeavor would make the game more recognized or the object of ridicule. I don't envy the creative teams position , they have fan girls and fan boys that they need to make happy and  they have millions to make if they do it right. They have both to lose when they come up with a poor product. The waiting begins. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Rise of the Dark Realms:Together We Rise"

"Rise of the Dark Realms:Together We Rise"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

I love Rise from Flobots! The song with a chorus that goes...

"Rise , Together We..Rise"

Yup , this is the song I would sing once I am successfully able to cast this 9 mana costing sorcery that spells certain doom for all my EDH opponents. Rise! 

I know that it has been around for awhile and the initial hype surrounding it have been somewhat dampened by all the exciting cards from Commander 2013 and Theros but heck I am still a Necromancer and still Golgari so the fact of the matter is I still love this card and cannot wait to cast it.

Although , I have been playing Dimir Control the last time I played EDH. Maybe just to shake things up a bit because my opponents already knew Skull Briars win condition. I wanted to play something else. A little control until I am ready to smash face.

When I think about it Rise of the Dark Realms fits more in a very aggressive Mill deck rather than my Golgari deck. I mean think about it. Having Jace, Memory Adept and Consuming Aberration in play. Jace Mills 10 cards for 0 cost and the Aberration, well he is just a Milling machine on a stick. Mirko Vosk is my commander so he gives out a helping hand here too. So when things are full in the graveyard department then it is time for good old Rise of the Dark Realms to make an appearance.

I mean aside from milling someone you could wait really late in the game to cast it.The late rounds where several cycles of Mass Removal have already been used. It is a great time to harvest those still warm bodies in the grave. Especially if you were the one who put them there.

I did mention before that I love Leyline of Anticipation because it just makes every spell better for me.An end of turn Rise of the Dark Realms on your opponents turn and then an overwhelming attack on your own turn. I mean who could not want that right? All creatures are now yours,sure people well have a lot of things to deal with the threat but they could only remove one graveyard at a time and chances are you would still have a lot of cool creatures left over to do your bidding.

So until I sing that Flobot song. Keep on brewing. Keep on playing.Rise!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Moon Hunters: Damian the Witness"

"Moon Hunters: Damian the Witness"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

It was getting pretty dark after I finished my lab project. I just had to ask myself the question , if this was assigned as group work why was the only person looking at Petri Dishes when the lamp lights lit up near the schools laboratory? I should horde the grade for myself but then again my so-called group mates are going to need it more than I do.

I waved hi to the guards on my way out.One of them was Kuya Sol who knew me even from a distance.He knew the tall nerdy kid who has been doing this since First Year and he wasn't so surprised to see me still doing it now that I am on my last year. Good old dependable me.

It would have been nice if I had some company tonight but I was enjoying the quiet of the road and the full moon up above.A hunters moon they would say. I'm not much of a hunter.I am more a full blown scientist. I even have the eye glasses and the pimply face to show for it. Yup.No one would mistake me for a hunter ,not even in a million years.

Our town is a simple one , a population of less than 600 or so(I read that in the Fiesta Manual which I also wrote and researched). A lot of the families knew each other by good or bad reputations. We seldom have new people move here. The city was only a few miles east so why settle in a sleepy town like this but there was one family who did move here. It was the Villadios family. House of God. I only mention it now because I saw Karin walking in the woods that I was walking into right now. Nothing really peculiar about Karin aside from the fact that she had the wide eyes and cheerful face right out of an anime. I mean she was pretty but then again compared to everyone else around here she was a Ms. Universe contestant.

What was peculiar about Karin tonight though was she was moving as deliberate as possible toward something that I could not see, it was like a flame , something very faint at first. I moved closer , hiding behind a tree and then I saw it. Karin was sneaking up behind something that looked like a Red flame floating from the ground. It was as huge as a man , as big as Kuya Sol as I estimated and Kuya Sol was 6'1. 

What in the world was Karin up to? There she was unmindful of the thistles of grass hitting her bare legs as she inched closer to her quarry.Her upper body covered by a metal blue sweater , her face was obscured by the hood that she had worn over her head but edges of her long raven hair was still being carried by the wind. The Red Flame seemed unaware of her approach. Karin spread her arms to her sides and produced spinning blue flames at each of her palms. Something similar to Naruto's Rasengan? Wow ,cool my classmate could do Rasengans.

It was at this point that the flame finally noticed. Probably a little too late too because she had sprinted toward it and with both hands brought down the blue orbs from her palms , colliding with the creatures sides. There was no sound but the Red Flame seemed to be engulfed in those orbs of Karin's.It looked as if it was in so much pain , writhing around yet unable to break free from the blue orbs pull. In a matter of moments it was gone and only the radiance of the full moon bathed us with its light.I tried to back away as discreetly as I could. I must be too tired and all that alcohol from the lab was getting to me. No one would believe me if I told anyone anyway.

Karin turned and was able to spot me from my hiding place and with a speed that I cannot believe she would ever possess, was upon me in what seemed like a blink. Another orb was forming on her right palm.

"Please tell me you didn't see anything"She said while pressing the orb toward my neck. I could feel it spinning with a force like that of a metal grinder. The very air in between it and my neck seemed to be spinning uncontrollably.

"I'm good at forgetting things if you are worried about me seeing anything tonight" I stammered to her face.

For a moment there was something deadly in her eyes and I feel that this was my end. Poor old me.The good old bacterias I have been cultivating would be left untended , The Dinner my mom prepared would go cold and my brother , who would he torment now? He would not even mourn for me but bully the next hapless nerd. Why , I was saving my little corner of the world here. I found all these thoughts absurd as I faced certain death.

For a moment I knew it was certain and I just closed my eyes. A few more seconds...then a couple more passed by. Death was becoming less certain then? A few more seconds ticked away and I was still alive. I opened my eyes , Karin still had the orb in her palm but it was a good distance from me , the non-lethal distance. I liked it. The deadly aspect of her eyes was gone as well.

"I can't kill you..."

"Good...I didn't want that either. I mean we still have that Chemistry exam tomorrow and I don't know about you but I have a lot of reading ahead of me tonight"

"I can't let you leave either..."

"Now wait a minute..." I started to protest.

"No, I can't let you leave without signing a contract with me."

"A contract? Is this going to be a Sex Slave kind of thing? Because you know...I know a lot of things but..."

"Shut up.You have been watching too much Hentai. You will sign a Moon Hunters Assistant Contract."

"Moon hunter? Assistant? I have never hunted anything in my life. I didn't even know what that Red flame was. I mean did you kill it?"

Karin looked shocked at me. "You saw it's true form?"

"True form?It was a Red Flame what else should it be?" 

Karin pointed at the prone form of a man in black on the ground."I only sensed it's presence , humans possessing the power to summon these spirits must be regulated. Only those of the Order should have dominance otherwise the imbalance would prove catastrophic for mankind. What you did , well, let me put it this way,  only higher people from the Order could see Santhermos like that."

"Well I saw it!" proudly pointing to myself , still not grasping the mess I was getting caught up with..

"I'm so sorry Damian but I really have to do this now".Karin Punched me in the face. Her fist slamming at the side of my head was the last thing I remember as the world blinked into darkness.

"Bane of Progress:Gobbling Opponent Advantage "

"Bane of Progress:Gobbling Opponent Advantage "
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

What I love about things is when they give so much value  , more value than you could ever have hoped for. For my constant readers it is no surprise that I love blowing things up and have tried it in almost all the colors but the best colors to blow things up with would be Red and Green. Green seems to have been blessed with a lot of this nowadays so when I was reading the spoiler for Commander 2013 one of the first things that caught my eye was Bane of Progress.

At the cost of 6 mana and starting stat of 2/2 it may not look that impressive however when you consider its come into play ability you might want to give it a second look.

Now in EDH games players normally try to insidiously gain advantage from their rivals. A mana rock acceleration here  , a little enchantment that lets you draw more cards, a Sensei's Divining top here. Like I said before you notice it those little things begin to pile up and those little advantages become one massive advantage and it won't be long before your friend sitting across the table starts churning up infinite combos and win the game or it could be the other guy. All because we are used to dealing with big threats but not the little threats that are piling up all around us. EDH is such a treacherous game. You might lose the game if you are not paying enough attention to the little harmless trinkets that are being dangled in front of you. Well , Bane of Progress is the greatest answer to all of these little baubles and more.

When it comes into play it looks at all the artifacts and enchantments and sneers at them before gobbling everything up to make itself stronger. Yup. It will all of these things and more. Ever faced Sharuum? That Sphinx is an Artifact , Bane of Progress makes lunch of it.Thank of all the time a Souped up Mono Colored EDH deck with a Caged Sun or Extraplanar lens has defeated and you smile because if they ever try anything like that again you know that opponents would end up with a big pile of nothing and you would end up with a humongous Elemental that could hit them in the face. 

So it would not be much of a stretch to see the Bane of Progress grow to Epic proportions. All you need to count is the number of Rocks(mana acceleration) and Enchantments in play. Now imagine the look on your friends faces when this resolves unopposed. Priceless.

Keep on brewing. Keep on Playing.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Magic Shuffle Profiles:All in the Shuffle"

"Magic Shuffle Profiles:All in the Shuffle"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

The game of magic has a lot of nuances and there are things that you might be able to pick up if you are really observant. 

Now one of the first things that opponents do when you are paired up is to shuffle his or her deck. If you have been playing the game of magic for awhile now you tend to see that there are some shuffles that are fun to watch while others are take so long that you always think that things would end up in a draw. 

During the last GP Manila (and I hope they bring it back soon to our neck of the woods because I don't want that GP to be my first and last) there were more than a 1000 shuffling players with different style that was on display for all to see.

Even in a persons shuffle we could glean some knowledge and here are the three that I have observed so far...

#1 - The Fast Shuffler

You would know the fast shuffler in an instant because it seems that they are done with their shuffling in an instant. There you are just separating your deck into piles and here he or she is asking you to already cut this deck. Instant. Fast.

Now what can we gain from this? Fast Shufflers often have cards that they might not gain access to because the cards may not have been shuffled correctly , the other thing that we might see is that these are some people who are impatient in starting the game. Impatience can cost you a lot in magic. In the games I played some of the fast shuffler turn out to be those that make mistakes because they are in a hurry to kill you , burn your creatures or to just say "done" and pass the turn to you because they think that they have nothing else to do. Often times they miss things when they shouldn't have.

So when you see a fast shuffler , observe how fast he or she says done. Chances are they would be too quick to decide on things. And that could be to your advantage.

#2 - The Deliberate shuffler.

Now there are some players who have elevated shuffling to some sort of art form. Some shuffles are sooo beautiful to behold. Some are just a test of your patience. The thoroughness that some players do when they shuffle gets on your nerves and I believe that some of them do tend to do that for that very purpose. Don't let them win even before you draw the first card by being as patient as they are.

Now if they are deliberate enough in their shuffles you can be sure that they are as deliberate in their decision making as well. In my experience with the high level players they seem to be intent in game play that they are 3 or 4 moves away the moment they draw their hands. 

Expect an answer to a threat or a cool head even when they are being overwhelmed. You beat them with creatures but they don't flinch , they don't say anything to give a clue as to what they really in their hands. 

So when you see a Deliberate shuffler , expect a hard time , expect a long drawn out game. Steeling yourself after the fact means that you are ready for his or her tactics. You expected them from the get go.

#3 - The Rogue Shuffler

Simply put Rogue Shufflers cannot be profiled. They are the type of players who shuffle like some drunken maniac then control the game to the very point of your death. They are the one's who shuffle deliberately and then blitzkrieg you to death in the next 4 turns.

This is the kind of player who can be beaten in the 2nd game when your sideboard and your knowledge of him or her will be maximized.  

Hard to predict these shufflers but then again there are other ways to know what they are. Experience. If you have played with them once you would know and then you could read them.

The best way know other players is to simply go to your local store/ Community and play. Shuffling profiles aside there are a lot fun things that you could discover that could spark you to make your own deck or improve your own tactics but when you meet someone for the first time remember this , FDR. Fast/ Deliberate/ Rogue. Chances are they will fall in one of the three and you could adjust accordingly. 

"When Walls Mill You To Death: Mono Blue Pauper Wall Mill 2014"

"When Walls Mill You To Death: Mono Blue Pauper Wall Mill 2014" 
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

I was so well rested over the holidays that all I could stare at in the house was walls.The 4 walls of my house. Yeah.

It got me to thinking about the Doorkeeper , this little blue monster that milled opponents for each creature with defender you controlled.

Out of my well rested brain came this Wall/Defender Miller deck:

22 X Islands

4 X Door Keeper - 2
4 X Murmuring Phantasm - 2
3 X Mnemonic Wall - 5
4 X Guardians of Meletis - 3
4 X Sage's Row Denizen - 3
19 Creatures

4 X Traveler's Amulet
3 X Cancel
4 X Tome Scour
4 X Negate
4 X Divine Inspiration
19 Spells

4 X Essense Scatter
4 X Annul
3 X Inaction Injunction
4 X Disperse

So yeah , the deck revolves around 2 cards. The Door keeper and the Sage's Row Denizen. One mills opponents for 3 mana and the number of Defenders you have on your side of the board and the other mills opponents when a blue creature enters the battlefield under your control. With the exception of Guardians of Meletis , everything else here is Blue. 

So you have 2 mill strategies that are already working , you also have Tome Scour that mills 5 cards at a time. 

This deck is built for Maximum toughness and defense. Early attackers would have problems with the Door Keeper and Murmuring Phantasm which have 0/4 and 0/5 toughness respectively. At most early attackers coud only be 3/1 when you are facing a Boros Pauper deck. Once you have established enough mana you could just Cancel or Essence Scatter opponents creatures. Negate for Burn spells or other creature spot removal.

Traveler's Amulet is here so you do not miss a single land drop.Important when you are a control player.

Card draw is provided by Divine Inspiration. You want to refill your hand quickly and as often as you can to make sure that you could control your opponents spells. Mnemonic Wall also provides a recursion for your spells , especially for your card draw and counters.

I know that Blue/Black Mill maybe the current Meta in Standard pauper nowadays so consider this an alternate Mill deck that utilizes some underplayed cards. Plus they are mostly Wall/Defenders. So when was the last time you Milled somebody with walls?

"Planeswalker Awakenings:Uzumaki Naruto Awakens"


"Planeswalker Awakenings:Uzumaki Naruto Awakens"
Virgilio F De leon Jr.

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

Naruto found himself sprawled on the dusty road. He heard all of the villagers as they ran for their lives. 

"The Kami are coming!"

"Help! Save my Children"

Uzumaki Naruto heard all of this and performed the hand seals that make several physical copies of himself in an instant. One by one he tried to take the distraught villagers away from immediate danger . He wondered why there were no other Shinobi showing up at a time like this. He merely had to look up to know that he was no longer in Konoha. The Hokages were gone , though still surrounded by forests this place was more rugged terrain.  He understood the language that was spoken but he did not recognize the place. He wanted to ask the villagers where he was but he was distracted by  Dozens of Samurai on horseback who were dashing through the road toward the next pass.

Once Naruto knew that the Villagers were safely away he followed the path of the Samurai and came face to face with a being that he knew so well. It was a nine-tailed fox , however unlike Kurama this one had blazing coals for eyes and small fireballs continually moving around itself.There was little doubt as to this Fox's true power as it rammed , devoured and burned Samurai's by the dozen. The man leading this group stood at the forefront. He heard the man around him saying,

"Protect General Takeno!"

"Fight the Kami"

"Kamigawa is ours"

Kamigawa? Spirit River? Is that what this place is and as Naruto looked up at the beast that the Samurai were calling Kami , he realized what it really was.He stepped toward the General determined to help.

Uzumaki Naruto has now gained cult status among Anime fanatics so much so that he has been compared to Goku and Dragon Ball Z in terms of popularity. When tackling this Shinobi as a planeswalker it would be easy to say that he will be a Red/Green Planeswalker.There is an existing Naruto Card game but I doubt if he will ever come out of there as a Planeswalker.

He has been able to channel Natural forms of energy and some unnnatural forms as well. Making him Red and Green all the way. Especially when he goes into Sage Mode. The Uzumaki sealing techniques may have been lost in the manga but here is someone that might carry that legacy. 

Here are my suggested Planeswalker abilities:

I see him with a starting loyalty counter of  4 so that he is not ironically taken down by a burn spell.

For his Plus 1 ability (Shadow Clone Maker)  - He could put three 1/1 Shadow Clone Tokens in play. It  follows that the clones are not really that strong but can deal a wallop when needed.

For the Minus 2 ability(Rasengan Throw) - He could deal damage equal to the number of Shadow clones that you have in play to target Creature or Player.In the manga you could often see Naruto creating Rasengans with 2 o 3 clones. Creating the clones first makes this ability possible , burning with an increasing power is a red ability through and through.

For his ultimate ability which will be a Minus 9 (Kyuubi mode) - Sacrifice any number of Shadow Clones , Naruto becomes an unblockable, 9-Tailed Fox Creature until end of turn with Power and Toughness equal to the number of Shadow clones sacrificed this way. 

And here we have it , our very own Kyuubi token. A potential game finisher with the aggressiveness of red in the mix.

The 9 tailed Kami was surprised a different version of himself appeared behind the one they have been calling General Takeno. It was curious to know what this giant fox was  , it was opening its mouth and from within a solid mass of energy was forming. Dense and as black as a starless night. 

The 9 tailed Kami did not even know what hit it as the Dense Chakra ball fired towards its direction. A puncture blast on its was the only trace of the gigantic balls passing. The energies consumed it from the gaping hole and was gone before an anguished cry could even escape from its non-existent lips.

General Takeno and his Samurai slowly turned their heads  , half in dread that they might be meeting something that they would not be able to handle. Instead what they saw was a 15 year old boy who was holding one thumb up to them as he smiled.

"My name is Uzumaki Naruto and I'm here to help you!"
Writers Note:
Planeswalker Awakenings is like a "what if" series...where I try to put a character from a Book , TV series or Movie into the context of a planeswalker from Magic:The Gathering.

"Maraxus of Keld EDH: Maraxus Smash!"

"Maraxus of Keld EDH: Hulking Red Menace"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

As I was flipping through a binder of cards in Circle C , a community type mall where one of our friends Kenneth ran his shop. I happened to chance upon this Red Legend , Maraxus of Keld. I honestly never heard of the guy but when I read his ability I knew that I would be able to make a mono red EDH deck around him as a commander soon enough.

Now one of the first things I noticed was that Maraxus kinda looked like Bane , the guy who broke batmans back in the comic series. In the comic Bane would pump himself with the synthetic drug Venom to make him stronger. Maraxus is kind of like that in a way. Only in his case he gets a lot bigger with his friends and the things that you have on the battlefield. The more you have , the stronger he gets.

His power and toughness are equal to all the Untapped Artifacts , Creatures and Lands you control. Now when I read this particular paragraph it got me into thinking. If a creature you control is an artifact or a land you control is an artifact wouldn't that make Maraxus even bigger? And the answer of course if yes ( I like talking to myself you see).

So I set off to put in as much artifacts in my deck that are creatures. Artifact mana producers.Like Solring , Everflowing Chalice and Sphere of the Sun.Caged Sun would be great mana acceleration here as well as the Extraplanar Lens. Geosurge and Seething Song are great mana accelerators as well.

Heck this is a mono red deck anyway and since Artifacts are colorless I would not have a problem casting any of them. Darksteel Citadel and Great Furnace fit perfectly well. Inkmoth  and Blinkmoth Nexus, Mishra's Factory all can be artifact creatures when they need be too so they are a fit here. Plus they give off a +3/+3, since they are lands that are creature artifacts! Creature lands that have red or colorless mana activations could be included too like Stalking Sands.

Since this is a mono red artifact deck, and I do love thing from the Mirrodin Blocks there are things here from all 6 expansions. My favorite Grafted Exoskeleton is here. All the better to make Maraxus more dangerous than he already is. 

It is not a stretch to be able to have a 10/10 Maraxus in no time and with Infect , well things are not looking good for at least one opponent. And Whispersilk Cloak will make sure that he does plunge that nasty looking dagger wherever you put him to. Another favorite of mine is the Genesis Chamber , yes this one does give all of your opponents 1/1 Myr Creatures as well but on the upside , it generates an artifact creature for Maraxus as well , a +2 for him. Yes the myr can block but in this deck constant attacks could eliminate blockers or you could just burn them.

Shrine of Burning Rage is here as another threat especially if there are lulls in the action. A great burn spell could shake things up a bit. Voltcharge is in too! Tumbling Magnet and Contagion clasp are things I can use for defense.Of course my artifact deck needs to have a Darksteel forge to prevent mass removal in the later stages. A good target for Bosh to throw at someone too.  

There are a lot of Artifact creatures to choose from here but my favorites are the Iron Myr , Alloy Myr and Opaline Unicorn (because I have tons of them lying around). The affinity creatures of Frogmite , Myr Enforcer and Oxidda Golem( Affinity for Mountains wooohooo) are in. As well as the modular creatures (except Arcbound Ravager,I hate that guy hahahaha well if I find him in my pile somewhere he will make it here too).Arcbound Slith and Arcbound stinger for example.And for annoying recursion Arcbound reclaimer. There are a lot of artifacts here and the counters on the Arcbounds need to go somewhere when they die.Why not to other artifact creatures right? There are tons of targets. For fattie creatures there is the Steel Hellkite , Kuldotha forge Master( that fetches other fatties like Blightsteel Colossus) and Bosh , Iron Golem. Pre-cursor Golem is a favorite of mine as well. I mean 3 golems for the price of one and a +6/+6 for Maraxus!Myr Battlesphere is even better. It gives +10/+10 to my Red commander.Hellkite Tyrant is here too. Steal from others , make Maraxus stronger. Tasty.

The plan is to have as mana things on the battlefield and when you have Maraxus of Keld equip him with a Lightning Greaves to deal some heavy damage. In a playtest I was able to grow him into a 30/30 Monstrosity. I suggest you attack with him first before using any of your mana or tapping your artifacts to maximize the damage he could bring. If he is of enormous size then you could just Fling him to an opponent. A 30/30 Flinged Creature for the win? Pretty awesome in my book. 

These are just some of the highlights of the deck of course and it can be adjusted depending on how you like to play this deck. I do enjoy smashing through with a hulk like Maraxus or just throwing him away at someone's face when they least expect it. Have fun! I did.   

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kiora, the Crashing Wave:Releasing the Krakens!

Kiora, the Crashing Wave:Releasing the Krakens!
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

One of my most favorites lines from a movie is "Release the Kraken!". In my magic experience there are two ways that I have been able to say it.

One is due to a an Activated Quest for Ula's Temple , which allows you to put a Kraken (among other things) into play. I had a mono blue deck that was just chock full of  Leviathans and Octopi. Enjoyed the beat down. Enjoyed saying "Release the Kraken!" more.

And the other would be my Mono Blue EDH deck that features Braids , Conjurer Adept as a commander. Where at the beginning of my upkeep I can also put a Kraken from my hand unto the battlefield. 

I relish saying that line and now with the new Planeswalker from Theros I have another way of getting more of these gigantic beasts.

Kiora , The Crashing waves images have been floating around the internet for some time and while there have been a lot of rumors about her ability nobody really knew which one. Many people thought that she would be another mono blue planeswalker. I guess we could put those rumors to rest now as well.

She sports the Simic colors of Blue and Green and by the looks of things this color combination has a lot of things going on for it for the coming set but I am most excited about this planeswalkers ultimate emblem ability. At the end of your turns you get to say "Release the Kraken!" and put a 9/9 Blue token!

Getting to that stage may be easier said that than and with a lot of permanent removal in the card pool plus burn spells things might not go far for Kiora.

So with mana cost of 4 mana and the opening stats of 2 loyalty counters , you could choose between the +1 or -1 depending on your needs at the moment.  

If you are facing a massive creature or at least a pesky creature that could kill off Kiora while you are still piling up her loyalty counters then use the +1 Ability that temporarily gives a mini shadow like effect.Ideally , for creatures you could use this ability on your second main phase because the effect will last until your next turn , the creature is considered unkillable by damage. Attacking on your turn might kill off creatures but if you use the ability before attacking you risk a creature staying there. 

As an added benefit since this ability targets permanents. Your target permanent cannot deal damage and at the same time no damage can be dealt to it. This is Kiora's defense. No Artifact could ping her for damage. If you are playing in a modern or EDH game planeswalkers like Chandra could not damage her. Lands like Mutavault or Blinkmoth Nexus are neutralized even when they become animated.

However she could still die to a well aimed Lightning Strike if you are not careful.So always have a counter ready or hope that your opponent doesn't have a burn spell handy.

The -1 ability combines the best of the Simic colors advantage. Card drawing and the ability to put more lands in play( 1 land to be exact). So you could draw a card and if it is a land you could use it right away. This might even give you the extra mana to use on a counter spell that you might have in your hand. 

For her ultimate ability (Which is the reason I got to writing this) , it only takes 5 loyalty counters to get it. An Emblem that gives you a mighty 9/9 blocker and a game finisher on the next turn. The thing is even if it dies , you could still get another one at the end of your turn. Getting to 5 counters seems easy , 3 turns is all it would take. Assuming that Kiora would not be the target of any permanent removal which every color is now sporting. Then again Blue always has strong counters ready for it.

I have been planning a Proliferate deck for awhile now and lately have been growing fond of the Simic. Kiora would fit right in there. 

In whatever case just being able to say "Release the Kraken!"at the end of my turns would be enough for me to look for this blue/green Planeswalker. Happy new year every one!Let us keep the brews coming this year.