Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Pauper Kings:Izzet Onslaught"

"Pauper Kings:Izzet Onslaught"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

I have been drawn to a lot of the weird enemy color combinations lately. After creating several Simic decks(Blue/Green) I now find myseld a bit fascinated by the Izzet League( Blue/Red). While a a lot has gotten into the color mix because of Reds offensive power that is normally balanced by Blues control, I think I am mainly here to cast cheap spells and just to hurt with the Nivix Cyclops. And so the Izzet Onslaught begins. Here is my Standard Pauper Decklist:

4 X Izeet Guildgate
8 X island
8 X Mountain
22 Lands

4 X Bolt of Keranos
4 X Lightning Strike
4 X Shock
4 X Disperse
4 X Inaction Injunction
20 Spells

4 X Nivix Cyclops
4 X Frostburn weird
4 X Goblin Electromancer
4 X Stealer of Secrets
2 X Archeomancer
18 creatures


4 X Fall of the Hammer
4 X Electrickery
4 X Essence Backlash
2 X Archeomancer

Izzet Fireworks:

My friend Mark told me that at a recent Accenture Standard Pauper Magic tournament an Izzet deck managed to defeat everyone. I was not there to witness it but it did get me into thinking what kind of deck would survive through the Ethereal Armors. I was browsing through Born of the Gods cards when I realized that a lot of Red spells has made red more powerful. Aside from Shock and Lightning Strike ,I have found the 3 to cast Bolt of Keranos to be quite deadly. 3 damage and a Scry 1? Not bad for 3 mana right? 

Of course these red spells are great taking out opposing creatures and just burning someone to death when their life totals are low however for the big nasty critters that could withstand a 3 damage burning there is always delay. Simply Bounce back with Disperse or Detain with an Inaction Injunction. The latter even nets you one card draw in the process.

Izzet Assaulters:

Nivix Cyclops and Frostburn weird are really great defensive creatures....wait scratch that....they are assault creatures...wait...Ok they are are both. These guys could hold off any early aSSaults from your opponent especially if they manage to get a Hopeful Eidolon with Ethereal armor on it on turn 2. The delay in the damage department would later allow you to live so that you could repay all the hurt.

I mean the Nivix cyclops is a particular favorite of mine.A tougher Kiln Fiend that dishes out 4 damage for each Sorcery or Instant you cast. Defender to Banger. I like that. He pays your opponent every each point of damage they gave you in the early turns.

Frostburn weird is pretty much the same. He will be happy to defend in the early turns and then act all Aetherling Jr. because you could make him a 4/1 attacker with 3 mana. Yup these guys are willing to take a beating and then give some back in the latter parts of the game.

The Goblin Eletromancer fits in this deck because there are tons of Burn and Control spells.He simply makes each spell easier to cast, 1 colorless mana less to be exact. This means more activations for the Nivix Cyclops whenever you need him to be a Defender Killer or Just plain old Basher.

The stealer of Secrets though a bit on the heavy mana side cost at 3 is something that I cannot live without. I mean she gives me card draw and with a lot of spells to clear away any defender she refills my hand with more burn spells and creatures that I could use. 

"Let's get us some burn spells..."
The Archeomancer in this deck is for those times that you simply cannot draw any burn spell and your opponents life has been standing at 2 for almost 3 turns. You draw land and creatures but not a single Shock to put them out of their misery. You longingly look at your graveyard for that Shock you just used. Almost there but unreachable. Well the Archeomancers just says. Go ahead and grab it.Then Burn someone.

Living the Izzet Assault dream:

The Dream play for this particular deck is to burn an opponents Defender to be able to get a pumped up Nivix Cyclops to deal maximum damage.
It could even be better if your opponent doesn't have any creatures in play and you have a full hand of Burn Spells. 

Let us say on turn 5 you have 2 Lightning Strikes and a Shock. Send them all toward your enemy for 8 damage. Then command the 2 Nivix Cyclops that you have ( which are now a 10/4 creatures) to attack. 28 points of damage on turn 5. Massive.

Well this is all for today. Keep on Burning. Keep on playing. Keep on brewing. 


Writers Note:
I actually wrote this before Journey into Nyx spoilers so sorry if there are no cards from that set here. Please feel free to leave a comment on which JOU card would fit in this Izzet Assault deck. Thanks and Keep on reading. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

"King Macar , The Gold-Cursed: Golden Nightmares"

"King Macar ,The Gold-Cursed: Golden Nightmares"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

King Midas finally makes his appearance in the Theros block and this time he brings something wicked to the table. In the game of Magic gold is something that allows you to "buy" anything. You exchange it for one mana of any color , making it a very precious commodity indeed. However like in the card Gild those who receive Gold in a game of magic know that this actually comes with a price. Well at least a price that your opponents pay.(insert maniacal laugh here)

And in King Macar we have someone that could exile a creature and give gold to you.Lots of it. He does so upon waking. Upon being inspired. After Untapping. Since most Inspired creatures don't have any other abilities it needs to attack or be tapped so that you could maximize the Inspired mechanic. This a great creature based spot removal which can be activated during your untap step , you just have to untap King Macar and he could rid you of an opponents very big creature or a problematic creature like Eidolon of Rhetoric or Gaddock Tegg. King Macar is tormented with this ability though , he has managed to turn everyone around him into gold. He wakes to a nightmare of Gold and he shares them too.  I don't think Black players will have the same kind of torment since they have removed a threat and given the distinct advantage of getting a "Lotus Petal".

I mean think about it  , giving "gold" to someone might mean that they could accelerate into a cool spell or even larger creature. So there is that possibility every time King Macar gets inspired and exiles something. The addition of this particular advantage just makes the game more fun in my book. I mean a unique take on ramping mana. Exile a Creature, Get mana Acceleration.  King Macar will be very busy on my side of the table once I can acquire him. Attacking with a creature with Inspire may not always be a good thing like this case a 2/3 body could easily be killed by a bigger creature. So instead you could the tap likes of King Macar to produce mana with the Springleaf drum. Not only do you save it from potential death you have also managed to filter your mana into anything you like. The when King Macar untaps you are sure that he will get something or someone. Some of you might be thinking with all the removal that are in circulation in black right now , do we even need a card like this? and the Answer is yes.

All Sorceries and Instants could easily be countered. Inspired as a mechanic though is a bit trickier , you can't stop a creature from untapping now could you? And this also comes in a 2/3 frame that is just begging to attack. No doubt King Macar is a removal on a stick and that is a little redundancy that people could not be without.  So there you have it , a King with the touch to give you what you want and may that be mana acceleration or removal , well that is up to you. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

"Keranos,God of Storms:Toming and Bolting"

"Keranos,God of Storms:Toming and Bolting"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Recently I have been attracted to enemy colors. I went all out with my Simic EDH deck and continue to tinker with my Izzet EDH deck. Granted there have been less and less time to test out theories and combos but the possibility of upgrading my commander into Keranos , God of Storms makes me really excited. 

For an Izzet EDH deck that already features Thassa , it never hurts to have more card advantage and a vicious attacker for the the big finish. Gods as commanders are a big advantage since they are indestructible and don't get killed by the usual board sweepers.Keranos aside from being an awesome 6/5 have a lot more to offer.

Lands and Everything else...

Keranos is exciting because of one thing. A non-symmetrical card advantage for a measly 5 mana. The guy only benefits you while it is on the battlefield!Now let us get right to it. What happens is that you would reveal the first card you would draw each turn , it gets really interesting from here, if you draw a land card you get to draw another one. Card advantage.A free card draw that you didn't have to spend mana on? Sounds great right?

If you happen to draw a non land card , then you get to Lightning bolt a player or creature for free! 3 damage to a creature or Planeswalker is a great board position advantage and could tip games in your favor. Notwithstanding the potential political favor you could incur if you kill a particular planeswalker or creature that is threatening a prospective ally. You have this burn potentially every turn and the alternative is card advantage.Not bad at all. You just sit around and let Keranos do his thing. what is not to like about the guy right? Looking at the ratio of cards in a standard EDH deck you have a 40% chance of drawing a land and an extra card and a 60% chance of Burning someone or something(I feel like a weather forecaster...)

I think Magic has a great card here since it combines the best of these two color combinations. Some might say that the 3 damage is like a sneeze or light tap in the EDH setting but it does take care of a lot of early mana producing creatures or even 3 toughness creatures that could cause havoc on the battlefield like Fate Spinner. It is not a spell that can be countered and I doubt if your opponents would waste a stifle on this while there are more nasty things that would be coming out. So all in all a very solid ability that could be triggered every draw step.

Keranos Mind Tricks....

Aside from giving you an extra card and extra burn per turn Keranos also gives you an element of Blue , Mind tricks. So you reveal the first card you draw each turn, if it is a counter card , opponents will be hesitant to cast their key cards since it might be countered. If in case you reveal a land card and still have several cards in your hand , the opponent eliminates 1 of them as a land. However since you get to draw an extra card that will not be revealed they will still hesitate with certain actions because you have introduced an unknown card in the equation. You might have just drawn another land card but where your opponents are concerned it could might as well be a hard counter or a vital piece of your combo. Keranos operates like that and you should play along with the bluffing too. It is an advantage after all. 

Keranos and Thassa sitting in a tree...

An interesting interaction here would be between Keranos and Thassa. Since Thassa would let you scry 1 on your upkeep , you could let that ability resolve first. Now depending on your needs , if you need an extra card draw or burn at the moment , you could choose to have the top card remain on the library or put it at the bottom. Though if you choose to do the latter you might not get the card trigger that you want for Keranos , at least you have some control over your choices instead of just being surprised by all the land draws that you would be getting.

The Top Gear...

Sensei's divining top is one abusive artifact and none so in a deck that has Keranos. I mean for one colorless mana you could line up card advantage or burn turn after turn. So depending on your method of winning ,this superb interaction with the top means that you also increase your chances of winning.

Fill up with Knowledge or burn someone...Both pretty delicious choices if you ask me. Its just too bad that you can't have both.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

“Kruphix, God of Horizons: Death by Spellbook(lack of?)”

“Kruphix, God of Horizons: Death by Spellbook(lack of?)”
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Journey into Nyx has now revealed the full Pantheon of Gods from Theros and though there are some gods that certainly rate really high on peoples wish lists , there are some that at first glance seem to be destined to be forgotten somewhere. Kruphix ,God of Horizons. The Simic Combine now has a god to add into their fold but it seems like this particular god seems a very particular need .

Kruphix is an overpriced Spell book!. I mean Spellbook is already 0 to cast so yeah it is a 5 mana spellbook. So there I said it and finally got it out of my system. Then again when you consider Kruphix fulfills a specific need  in EDH , since spellbook  by its lonesome is not a card that people will play in EDH since it is not high impact enough. So you end up with Reliquary Tower as the lone card that allows you to have no maximum hand size. With the introduction of the God of Horizons however you potentially have a commander that could fulfill your spellbook needs while becoming a 4/7 Indestructible creature in the latter turns.Kinda like Spellbook only with teeth...and 4 arms.

 Blue draws an awful lot of cards and without the spellbook effect people are forced to discard cards. Since I have been playing Blue and any combination  of colors with  it , I have found that there is an abundance of cards that will be languishing in your hand and will eventually  go to waste as the turns end you need to discard.  So the God of Horizons allows you to keep them , stretching your options to an infinite sprawl rather than the finite hand that you were give.  It is still an expensive spell book but a spell book that a lot of  EDH players will be looking for.

So now that I have gotten that out of the way. I would rather talk about this particular gods second ability isn't even a great one because it turns mana that would empty from your mana pool into floating colorless mana. When you think about it , not exactly the kind of thing that you want lying around if you are a blue player because colorless mana could not be used for hard counters that actually require blue mana. However colorless mana floating around could actually mean that you can actually power out a lot of X spells like Hydras or spells like Repeal ,  Condescend or Blue sun’s Zenith that could potentially deck out your opponents.  Having all that colorless mana could also allow you to cast a lot of Artifact spells or even the Planeswalker Karn 

I can see Kruphix , God of Horizons being paired up with his/her prophet so that there would ridiculous amounts of mana. especially in EDH games. Kruphix and Prophet  of Kruphix can provide excessive amounts of mana each turn. ! Emrakul might have been a good hard cast(whenever he is not banned in the EDH format that you are in). I guess you would just need to be happy with the other Eldrazi brood.

So assuming that you are able to cast Kruphix and Prophet  of Kruphix , you have at least 5 mana(or 6 because you can’t cast them on the same turn). If you have 3 opponents , you could potentially have 6 mana each turn when you empty your mana pool on each of their end turns. The trick is to have mana ready so that you could try and threaten or bluff with a counter then when you deem that no spell they cast is worth the counter then you could tap your lands. On the next players upkeep , Prophet  of Kruphix allows you to untap , all your lands and creatures(mana producers are a plus here). So yeah by the time your own turn comes you will find yourself with 18 colorless mana at the ready. More than enough for and end of turn Emrakul or Blightsteel Colossus if you have them in your hand. (Thank you for your Yeva Flash ability Prophet!) . Just imagine how devastating that one turn will be and you could enjoy the looks on your opponents faces as it dawns on them that you could finish all of them off when your turn comes around. A well placed prosperity adds to you while it withers opponents libraries. With Kruphix you get you to keep everything  and your opponents lose everything in excess of 7 cards. A bad turn of events. A good one for you. Evil thoughts continue. 

" in turn 7"
Kruphix might not become a tournament staple and I would not really mind. I would be more happy since the prices will be driven down. Kruphix is welcome in my EDH decks anytime.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Solidarity of Heroes: Solidarity of Monsters"

"Solidarity of Heroes: Solidarity of Monsters" 
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

Solidarity of Heroes is poised to make a lot of Champions  now that  Journey into Nyx has come out. What once was weak becomes stronger and the stronger get ever stronger. And I mean that is a lot of strong right there. All those little creatures that could be made into giants! Heroic will be the key mechanic getting a real boost from this particular card but I have other uses for this wonderful 2 to cast instant. I am going to make me some big big monsters! Big Hydra monsters to be exact. 

Since the release of the Heroes Vs. Monsters deck I have found myself more and more on the side of the monsters. I don't know why.  I mean Polukranos is something that I always wanted to have and grow. This wonderful set is full of Hydras and it is about time to make a lot of them even bigger. Any creature with Monstrosity , Heroic or the Simic creatures with their  Evolve mechanic will benefit from this instant.  This will be an auto-add to my Simic EDH deck that already features all the Hydras I could acquire.

Solidarity of Heroes has got me dreaming again and the dream sequence goes like this:

Turn 1: Forest ,Cast Elvish Mystic
Turn 2: Forest , Cast 2 Elvish Mystic
Turn 3: Forest , Cast Kalonian Hydra
Turn 4: Forest, Declare Attack with Kalonian Hydra , Pump with 2 Solidarity of Heroes , Deal 32 damage. Do the dance of Joy. Watch opponent scoop cards and put in as much spot removal as possible for 2nd game.

Yup , the now already expensive Kalonian Hydra (because of this possible turn 4 kill) might now slightly increase in value. Way to go. Of course this is living the dream in a mono green deck. Heck we all live for this sort of moment when everything falls into place and not a single blocker or spot removal resolves. This is a total vacuum where the path of least resistance leads to your opponents face. It is something that is too much to ask really , I mean what is the possibility that an opponent is really having a bad day and they don't get to cast a single blocker for 4 turns right? or they don't have a spot removal already in their hand? 

Anything can happen in a game of magic though and in this might even happen in a Standard game. We all could dream. In the mean time I am all set to hoard this instant. If I could get my hands on a couple of it then I would be really happy. You see I just don't plan on making the little guys stronger, I am in it for the monsters to win.

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Pharika: God of the Reanimation Haters"

"Let's go Haters"
"Pharika: God of the Reanimation Haters"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

As a big fan of Golgari colors I have spent months guessing what kind of abilities Pharika would have. She is a god of dark gifts and false cures. She would promise one thing and deliver another,much like the Blue/Black god Phenax or so I thought in my mind for months.

Every God that was spoiled out of Journey into Nyx was promising and so I thought I would be getting a god for my colors and something cool too. Well After months of waiting the Golgari Colored god Pharika, God of Affliction makes an appearance. she made me disappointed at first.A god at 3 mana , 1 colorless , black and green seems like a bargain. You just need 5 more devotion to black and green when she comes into play and you have a 5/5 Indestructible god. 

Unlike the other gods that bring in advantages that you could use quite readily , Pharika's ability is spotty at best in standard. For a black and green mana activation cost she lets you exile a creature from a graveyard and then lets the owner of that graveyard put a 1/1 Snake token with death touch into play. The moment I read this I felt like having Pharika is like owning an overpriced Withered Wretch.

"Well  at least a meatier me...a less Withered"
Not only does the Withered Wretch cost less it does a better job in cleaning up graveyards for one colorless mana.It also doesn't give your opponent a 1/1 snake blocker with death touch that could kill your best creatures( unless it happens to be flying or indestructible or unblockable). Besides there is still the Deathrite Shaman and the Scavenging Ooze that are making the rounds.Both more mana efficient and faster at removing threats from the graveyard.

If you are playing EDH and you are playing Pharika's colors chances are that you have Reanimation as part of your strategy. You would have to be in a pretty desperate situation if you would exile a creature in your own graveyard( a potential Reanimation target) to exchange it for a 1/1 snake right? The Golgari have mechanics like Dredge and Scavenge which are all dependent on the creatures that you have in the graveyard so why create a god that would take those creatures in the first place? I seem to be missing something here but Black/Green just got screwed.

In standard , Reanimation is almost non- existent and so far Fated Return and Rescue from the Underworld are not seeing any major action. So I still do not see Pharika making any waves in standard as well. Unless some crazy person suddenly comes up with a competitive Standard Reanimator deck( I might be the guy to do that but it might take me awhile). So the only thing that I could think of is that Pharika is a part of something that will be big in the next block.Magic often does that  ,  to stir up interest in the coming expansion. Still it seems like this card could have been better designed. I declare it as the Emmara Tandris of this expansion. It seems like it is going to help you but it doesn't. Therein lies Pharika's greatest trick. It seems like she wants to help you but she doesn't.

Change Up

Still For 3 mana Pharika poses to be an intriguing commander in EDH.A unique position among the creatures considered to be grave sweepers.

"Grave Sweeper? Try Graverobber ok?"
 Depending on your permanents you could have a 5/5 indestructible commander on your side of the board who can also clean up an opposing necromancers source of offense.A Primordial being exiled is surely worth a 1/1 snake for your enemy. Battle trick wise you could make use of Pharika's ability to kill off your enemies baddest creatures. Simply pay the activation cost and you have a 1/1 snake that could slam into a creature and kill it. Maybe if you have a Grave betrayal into play , you could even convince that creature to come on to your side of the table. I know this article started off with a negative tone but at least there are some things that you could use Pharika for. The other great thing is that she won't cost as much as a Scavenging Ooze or a Deathrite Shaman.