Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Hornet Nest:Stingers and Burners"

"Hornet Nest:Stingers and Burners"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Hornet Nest has been on my mind lately.I knew that there was  a lot of potential for abuse when I saw it during the M15 Pre- Release. At first glance it is just a 3 to cast Defender who produces 1/1 flying tokens with death touch.It seems kind of limited because of its 0/2 frame. It could block a 3/3 creature and die but it would produce 3 1/1 tokens. However I didn't want to limit the Hornet nest usefullness to just that.It is great as a defender and a well timed Ajani's Presence or Mortals Resolve it would be able to stop a big 13/13 monster without trample in its tracks. It would stop that onslaught and net you 13 1/1 tokens. This is what it was designed for , Stop something big and create tons of tokens so you could give one hell of a payback. This is just in standard but there are other things that you could do besides this.

So I came up with this 4 card combo that may not be as easy to pull off but would be very satisfying once it could be pulled off. Sometimes being able to do the hard thing and win is a reward in itself.

Upkeep Production:
Fatal Attraction + Hornet nest + Darksteel Plate+
Doubling Season or Parallel lives - 8 tokens per upkeep

So the first step is to equip the hornet nest so that it becomes indestructible. Next is the Fatal attraction , a personal favorite of mine since it worked wonders with Stuffy Doll. The initial damage of 2 from Fatal Attraction would produce 2 tokens for you. Well 4 tokens if you already have either Doubling Season or Parallel lives already in play.Every upkeep you are sure to have 8 tokens. More on what to do with those tokens.

Now this other combo is when you are not able to draw Fatal attraction or Darksteel plate. In short this is the Non-Indestructible version of my combo.

Infinite Token Production:
Blasting Station + Hornet nest + Doubling Season/Parallel lives
Sacrifice an initial creature to Blasting Station , ping Hornet nest for 1 damage , create 2 tokens because of Doubling Season/Parallel lives , untap Blasting station because a creature just came in. When you have sufficient tokens you could simply use Burn at the stake , tap all those tokens on your side of the board and  Burn at the stake deals three times the damage equal to all creatures tapped this way. If you don't have Burn at The Stake at hand you could also use the 1 red mana costing Last Ditch Effort that allows you to sacrifice your tokens and deals damage equal to their number.

With all the pieces , it might not be an easy win to pull off but it would be rather to cool to see it in action. I would like to put this as an alternate win condition in one of my existing R/G EDH decks.

So maybe I could keep it simple and just use this combo.

Infinite Burn:
Hornet Nest + Purphorus, God of the Forge + Blasting Station

This was what I wanted to do when I first saw Hornet Nest , burn someone , well in this case burn everyone. So the combo is pretty straight forward with Hornet Nest + Purphorus, God of the Forge already in play. Then all we need is the Blasting Station and a creature to sacrifice to it as a trigger to set things in motion. Ping 1 to Hornet Nest , Hornet Nest being a 0/2 doesn't die and instead brings out a 1/1 token , Purphorus then sees this creature coming into play and deals 2 damage to each of your opponents. Blasting station also sees this creature and untaps ready to begin the cycle once more.

Time to make a test run. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Standard Pauper:Mono Green Golgari Assault 2014"

"The troll without the Dredge..."

"Standard Pauper:Mono Green Golgari Assault 2014"
VIrgilio F. De leon Jr.

 My Golgari roots are showing. Yes I have a fondness for the graveyard and I have a fondness for creatures that take advantage of it. Those who draw strength from death and rise to win. Yup , I was able to get an Undergrowth Scavenger and because I had no other cards to support this mini Golgari grave troll I was not able to use it in my pre release rampage. I was filled with all the Standard Pauper possibilities that this card could bring. 

So now that M15 is finally out ,here is my deck list for a Mono Green Golgari deck that promises to be aggressive and mean all around. I am particularly very happy that green has a lot of fetch effects in the common slot. There are a lot of cards in this mix that let you gain advantage regardless if they are dead or alive. There are two underlying themes in this particular deck , (1) Grave Strength , putting in a lot creatures on my own graveyard means that Undergrowth Scavenger would be a monster to reckon with in the mid or late game. (2) Green Devotion especially in Aspect of Hydra that could truly make any of the little green creatures here monstrous.

Mono Green Golgari Pauper Monsters:

20 X Forests

4 X Satyr Way Finder
4 X Undergrowth Scavenger 
4 X Elvish Mystic 
4 X Golden Hind 
4 X Spire Tracer 
4 X Scab clan charger
4 X Slaughter Horn
28 creatures

4 X Aspect of Hydra
4 X Commune with the Gods
4 X Wildwood Rebirth
16 spells

4 X Naturalize
4 X Renowned Weaver
4 X Kruphix's Insight
3 X Snake of the golden grove

Elvish Mystic and Golden Hind are my mana dorks of choice , I mean magic put in a one and two to cast mana producing creature , nothing is going to stop me from using them.I was originally planning to put in a lot of big creatures but with the graveyard feeding that I have in mind as well as the one shot Ethereal armor effect of the card Aspect of Hydra I realized that I didn't need big creatures , I could simply cast a one to cast Instant and already have a big beast to pester my opponents with.

Satyr Wayfinder , Slaughter Horn and Scab clan charger are here to fill up my graveyard. They have great effects the satyr fetches me a land so I do not miss a land drop. The other two could potentially power up an early weenie attack , hopefully going unblocked on the back of a Spire Tracer, but then again as long as I already have enough mana even my mana dorks could threaten for an attack. The deck is also designed to threaten early so that opponents would be mindful of their life totals and use up blockers and spot removals. A pumped Golden Hind  threatening for 4 or 5 points of damage is a sure magnet for those removals and blockers. This deck is not afraid of death because even in death everything serves a purpose.

Commune with the Gods allows you to get Undergrowth Scavenger  for the endgame. And it also gives a potential 4 creature throw to the graveyard. The deck features 28 creatures , each one helping to achieve the end game.Wildwood Rebirth allows you to snatch up precious creatures that you would need later on. At instant speed it could out maneuver grave hate spells and get your key card.

Undergrowth Scavenger is the main star of this deck. I wanted to build around a golgari monster and I think I have created it here. It counts creatures from all graveyards and gets a +1/+1 counter on it for each of those creatures. On turn 4 I believe that he will be bigger than you ever dreamed him to be. All those who died before will make him grow , will make him strong. You could only imagine where he wants to turn all that power and aggression now.

So have fun and hopefully I would see you in a Standard Pauper Tournament soon.With the new card infusion from M15  Standard Pauper is alive and well.

"Resolute Archangel:Turning Tables"

"Resolute Archangel:Turning Tables"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

There are a few cards in the game of Magic that lets you reset your life total.Reverse the sands from the Kamigawa block comes to mind when it comes to shifting life however because of its prohibitive mana cost a lot of player would just play reasonably cost cards. Much like this new card that I would be talking about today.During one of the M15 Pre release I went to there was one particular PR card that was highly sought after and that card was The Resolute Archangel. A lot of people were praising it because it afforded a delay that players who have long term plans need badly. Simply put this angel allows you to restore your starting life total. 20 in Standard , 40 in EDH. This causes a lot of frustration on your opponent who buy now has probably already steam in his constant assaults of you.

In on of my m15 PR games I played against one such player. I know he was packing a Resolute Archangel in his deck because he was calm in the face of all the damage that I was giving him. I managed to reduce his life to 3 or 4 and was setting up for the final blow when he finally got a hold of his Angel in the following turn.He then hard cast it for the full 7 mana and restored his life. At this point the angel is a 4/4 flying creature that would turn things around and I would end up losing. So believe me when I say that I am frustrated with this little angel who comes in for the save.It was a good thing though that I won in Game 3!

I imagine that in an EDH game the Resolute Archangel would be a thorny issue when it comes to damage and direction of said damage.EDH decks without great spot removal would have a hard time winning since all anyone needs to do is to make the Resolute Archangel blink out of existence and when it comes back their life total is as good as new. I don't know about you but this amount of life gain can be very annoying. 40 life in the blink of an eye. You need to deal exactly 40 damage or more to finish an opponent with this angel in play. An alternate as well is Infect and the good old Commander Damage that doesn't care if you still have the same life total. If you get those 21 damage then you lose.

I could see this particular angel in reanimation decks because of its unique advantage once the going gets tough. It is not a bad creature as well because it is a 4/4 Flyer. Another thing I would love to try with this baby is getting it to Soul Bound with a Deadeye Navigator. In this way , there is always a threat to always survive since you could use Deadeye's ability and then return her from the aether.Or for more complicated fun you could hide the Angel via Fiend Hunter so it does not succumb to spot removal. You could soul bound the Fiend Hunter with Dead Eye navigator. The Angel returns and you could choose new targets for your fresh from the aether Fiend Hunter.  

So when you face an opponent that lets you keep on pouring the damage. They may have The Resolute Archangel somewhere in that deck of theirs or they are plainly nuts.Either way you still need to be careful.The tables just might turn at any time.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Scuttling Doom Engine: when S.D.E. spells your D.O.O.M."

"Scuttling Doom Engine: when S.D.E. spells your D.O.O.M."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Scuttling Doom Engine(or SDE as it will be referred to in the rest of this blog). To say that this guy is deadly is a severe understatement. Forget that it is a 6/6 creature that could be powered out by Ornithopters and Chief Engineer by as early as turn three. Let us also forget the fact that as threats go this guy cannot be blocked by your opponents weenie blockers. Anything with power 2 or less is simply bypassed. If that is all your opponent is packing in their deck then the 6 damage per turn is assured. Calculated that is a 4 turn damage clock with just a lone SDE in play but like I said forget about that.

In order for an opponent to survive an SDE , they actually have to take care of it with spot removal. The only problem is that they would need to exile it since SDE is such an annoying creature that it even deals 6 damage to you once it dies. Normal removal that is available in abundance in Black, Red and Green now begins to look as a downside since this construct seems unstoppable when it comes to dishing out damage. During the M15 Prerelease where I attended one player was able to get two of these babies and won a lot of games.Lucky me. I wasn't paired up with him.

One potential finishing blow with the SDE involves a reprint from the original Mirrodin block.The awesome Shrapnel blast. An instant speed 5 damage dealing spell that requires an artifact sacrifice. So imagine attacking with your SDE , 6 damage. Casting a Shrapnel blast which deals 5 damage and then activating the trigger for SDE once it is sacrificed and dies , which gives you another 6 damage to dish out. 17 points of damage in one play! This makes your opponent within Lightning Strike damage. Oh yeah , aside from being in Theros . Lightning Strike also finds its way in M15 so it will stick around longer even after Theros rotates out. This is just in standard.

"Can this guy give you 13 points of damage in one turn with the SDE? Of course he can..."
Imagine how deadly SDE would be in the EDH setting where a lot of sacrifice outlets and recursions are abundant. You could Fling this guy for more damage than with Shrapnel blast of Goblin Grenade. 18 damage seems like a great thing. Imagine it going to town with a Mikaeus the Unhallowed and coming back for another round of pain dealing.SDE could attack for 7 damage thanks to the stat pump of +1/+1 grandpa zombie there , you could sacrifice SDE for 6 damage and comes back to be an 8/8 Monster. The next turn it could net you 14 points of damage. If you have something that removes +1/+1 counters you could just keep on sacrificing SDE for 6 damage per pop.In an EDH game , 7 sacrifices later and an opponent is dead. Repeat till you are the only player drawing breathe.Yup , I could just see people waiting for you SDE. And hopefully when you spell D.O.O.M. its for the other guy. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"M15 PR:The Day Garruk Answered My Summons"

"M15 PR:The Day Garruk Answered My Summons"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

It was like another day for me. I have just ended my last 4 hour duty of saturday and was speeding towards home. I usually have a million things to think about but today I was only thinking of One thing.Getting to the M15 Pre release in Spiral Valenzuela in time. I had talked to my daughter and my wife and after lunch promptly fell into a deep sleep.

I set my alarm to 4pm to prepare but because I was so drained by my Clinic duties the Day and Night before that I woke up at 5:00 pm! 30 minutes before registration. Good thing I lived a mere tricycle ride away from the venue!

I drank an Enervon , took a quick shower and walked. As I was walking I thought of how awesome it would be to get a Garruk, Apex Predator in my Pre-Release Kit. Garruk , Garruk , Garruk...I silently chanted in my brain...

"Garruk the Slayer: You called?
Me: Not you , the other guy...
Garruk the Slayer: Oh..."
When I got to the venue , I got to register on time and got to chatting with a lot of the players there. Some I remember by name , some by their faces. I met a lot of new players as well. When the PR kit was released I plopped down to a table started opening my pack. And there in my very first pack of M15 , near the very end was Garruk, Apex Predator. I was in utter disbelief.The Planeswalker that I wrote 3 blogs about was in my hands. He had answered my summons. From there on I knew this was going to be an epic Pre release for me.Despite the early threat of a power black out that was poised to ruin my only game time in months. The lights came on after 15 minutes to much cheering in the Computer shop turned Magic Game Arena.

Another 15 minutes later I was done tearing through my packs and building what I hope to be a great Black/ Green Golgari deck that had a lot of removal and mana acceleration. There was to be none of that however as the cards I got were mostly White, Blue and Black. Green seemed to be the least color on the pile. Red didn't appeal to me because it meant Garruk won't be on my side. I didn't want to play White/Blue so I went with Doran Colors.Black/Green/White instead. I will be playing Garruk by hook or by crook. The Llanowar Wastes and Caves of Koilos I got would come in handy. I thought that I might get mana screwed with a tri-colored deck but I was wrong. 40 deck construction was fun with a lot of bombs.

There were certainly highlights in this PR and they included:

Siege Dragon: Whats for dinner?
Garruk, Apex Predator: You!
Siege Dragon: Oh...
>Garruk, Apex Predator Eating a Siege Dragon! (Yum Yum! Urp!!!)
> In Garruks Wake turning the tables on a Creature dominant Opponent!
>Responding to an Overwhelming attack with a Meditation Puzzle!(In response...8 life)
>Pillar of Light taking care of Giants and Dragons alike on a consistent basis.(I only had two copies!)
>Raise the Alarm , raising enough tokens to summon Will-Forged Golem in turn 4...A lot of bowing for a 4/4 creature if you ask me...

"Why yes, I am a threat..."
>Covenant of Blood Delaying my death and killing one creature that was causing me a lot of pain.(It was a typhoid Rat that was preventing my 4/4 Golems from attacking!)
>And by far my most favorite combo attack, Turn 3, with an Ajani's Pridemate already in play, Putting down a Radiant fountain,gaining 2 life, making the Pridemate 3/3 , then casting a Divine Favor, gaining 3 life that made it a 5/8 monstrosity that killed my opponent in the deciding Game 3.

"Pridemates for the win!"
I would eventually come home with 3 M15 boosters, 1 conspiracy booster pack with a record of 3-1.I also got to do this and lived to tell about it.

It was a long overdue and often delayed played time but it was one Pre-release for the books that time Garruk answered my summons.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"7-11 Cute Gobbler"

"7-11 Cute Gobbler"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

The first time she met her was at a 7-11 store somewhere in Quezon city. From her scrubsuit , he identified her as a nurse , her brown hair was held in a bun at her back. She was cute. A chinita that reminded him of other things. When she spoke her braces could be seen. It only added to her appeal

It fascinated him how she ate the hotdog sandwich that she had just bought. There was something methodical and meticulous in how she did it. After sitting down she began to empty the packets of mayonnaise , ketchup and mustard. She sat facing the road and observed the people passing by while almost absentmindedly she would tear off a bite size of the hotdog bun and used the mixture she had just poured as some sort of dip. Gobbling the chunks was fast and done in rapid succession. There might have been a million things going on around that 7-11 but all he could focus on was her chewing. 

When she was finished with the bun , she turned her attention to the now naked hotdog.Using the clear plastic that the bun came in she finished the hotdog in 3 quick bites. Sitting on the opposite table from her she could not help but gawk at how odd she had eaten her food. 

After wiping her mouth with a white tissue. She stood up and went to him. He extended out a hand which puzzled him.When he did not take the offered hand she took his and shook it firmly.

The cute woman seemed to suck in a lung full of air and then she began in a spiel that was calm and hinted at being given for the nth time.

"To make this short , my name is Kara. If you listen to me for a few seconds I will answer all the questions running inside that mind of yours.Yes... that is the way I eat hotdogs in this place and yes I have been doing that since I was a kid. And No I will not go with you for a private demonstration..ok? Will that cure your curiosity?"

The guy looked at her and simply said..."Uhm , I wasn't really curious but I did want to tell you something..."

"Go ahead , its not like I haven't heard it before"

"You probably never had..."

"Try me."

"When you were eating...I think a staple fell in with the bun..I think you ate it..."

Kara said nothing.

He stood up and left.

Monday, July 7, 2014

"Muzzio , Visionary Architect EDH:Thoughts of Steel , Reality of Steel"

"Muzzio , Visionary Architect EDH:Thoughts of Steel , Reality of Steel"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

EDH decks normally have tons of Tutor effects at their disposal but none of those normally put things unto the battlefield(except Bribery I think). Even in Mirrodin there is a Vedalken card that lets you look at X number of cards on top of your library but only allow you to put it into your hand. Now the exciting thing about Muzzio , Visionary Architect is that he lets you look at X number of cards, where X is the highest converted mana cost of artifacts you control. So let us say in an EDH game where you have no creatures you would likely have a Chromatic lantern or Darksteel Ingot out for your mana acceleration.Both cost 3 mana. So you could pay 4 mana and then look at the the top 3 cards of your library. You choose an artifact card and put it directly into play.Let me type that it into play!(I went fast on that last one sorry)...It has no other condition. Pay the 3 colorless mana and one blue and that is it.Dig through your library and reveal the best artifact you have or until you get it at least.Amazingly you could use this ability at the end of your opponents turn as well , making sure that whatever you get you could use on your turn.

So I got excited over the fact that you could actually get to look at a Blightsteel Colossus or Inkwell Leviathan and put them into play for a measly cost of 4 mana. Who knows it might even be Memnarch or the Mirari or a Vedalken Orrery. At the worst case scenario it could just be another mana accelerating "rock". Whatever it is that you get will surely be an advantage and at a bargain price too.Remember to put artifact lands too because you never know when a Seat of the Synod and Darksteel Citadel will be needed.

Muzzio , Visionary Architect works well in an environment of artifice. At the cost of 3 mana , he could be a commander to a mono blue commander deck that would feature a lot of cards from the original Mirrodin block as well as from Scars of Mirrodin. I mean every time that he would be looking deep into your library there will always be something useful that he will bring to the floor. And with bigger artifacts arriving your way , the bigger the chances of getting your combo pieces into play. I mean a Mindslaver or a Spine of Ish Sah landing on your side of the board for crying out loud! My friend Nolan would love this guy , he not only lets you scour your library as this guy is prone to do , he lets you play something from it too.Not to mention the fact that he also has the Tezzerrets to boost his EDH decks.

So what happens to the card that you do not need? they get relegated to the bottom of your library in any order. This is smelling like a set up for a combo of some sort and Goblin Charbelcher seems to fit the bill , I mean if you get this particular artifact into play with all the Land cards that you would be burying deep into your library chances are it would be a long time before you hit a land card. Imagine looking at 20 non land cards in succession and dealing 20 damage to an opponent. This could be possible with multiple activations from Muzzio , Visionary Architect. Since we have this combo , we could also put in Jalira, Master Polymorphist into this mix , as it could bring out a big Non-legendary artifact creature into play to interact with Muzzio's ability , the draw back is that it cannot set up the Goblin Charbelcher since it would only allow you to rearrange the bottom of your library in random order. Enter one of my most favorite cards from the Mirrodin block then. The Proteus staff that pretty does the same thing as Jalira , only it allows you to fix your library when you can no longer find creatures to put on the battlefield. Old Proteus staff decks only put 3 killer creatures in their library and set it up for the Goblin Charbelcher kill as an alternate win condition. It works pretty well in a 60 card deck , I wonder how things would play out in a 100 card EDH deck though. Well who is to say that it cannot work? I will surely be taking notes like a good Phyrexian Researcher.

I am excited to play Muzzio , Visionary Architect. He has a reach unlike any other commander out there. And when it comes to the Library he reaches deep to provide you with the things you need to win. Oh yeah give him an Illusionist Bracers. He'd love that. You'd love what he will be bringing to the table.If you already have a Blightsteel Colossus and you have to dig 22 cards deep into your library I am sure you would already have your win condition on hand. Just make sure that Muzzio , Visionary Architect is protected and the win is yours.

"Serbis ni Iha"

"Serbis ni Iha"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

O kay tamis ng kanyang ngiti
ng inaabot na ang bayad sa serbisyong nahatid
ilang beses nagpabalik balik sa langit
at ang pasasalamat ng lalaki ay walang patid

Inosente ang ngiti , sariwa ang ugali
walang mura na nagmumula sa labi
pulang labi na akala mo sa tingin ay busilak
ilang beses na ring nagamit ngayong gabi

At lalabas muli sa maliit na kuwartong ito
uupo sa may sulok at aabang ng mamang nakayuko
"Ok ka ba?" laging bungad na tanong
"Ok na ok" ang nakangiti niyang isasagot

O kay tamis ng kanyang ngiti
inaabot na uli ang bayad
pinagpaguran , pinagpawisan
gabi gabi sa mga kamay ng nangangailangan.

"Heliod's Pilgrim: Mono White Aura Fetch 2014"

"Let me get you that Eldrazi Conscription in EDH"
"Heliod's Pilgrim: Mono White Aura Fetch 2014"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

So what happens when you have an Aura Tutor effect in the common slot? Well a lot of shenanigans for Standard Pauper that's what! With M15 almost upon us I find myself looking at this 3 to cast white card that allows you to put an aura card from your library to your hand(you have to reveal it first though). Heliod's Pilgrim and boy has she been to a lot of places by now. Here is a decklist I came up with to take advantage of Heliod's Pilgirm.I am going to start with a Mono White Weenie deck for now and see where this leads. There are a lot of interesting Aura's coming out and Heliod's Pilgrim will be there to welcome them all in Standard Pauper.

22 X Plains

4 X Heliod's Pilgrim
4 X Hopeful Eidolon
4 X Nyxborn Shieldmate
2 X Observant Alseid
4 X Keening Apparition
18 creatures

4 X Ethereal Armor
4 X Oppressive Rays
4 X Pacifism
4 X Celestial Flare
2 X Chosen by Heliod
2 X Armament of Nyx
20 spells

4 X Mortal Obstinancy
4 X Guildscorn ward
2 X Chosen by Heliod
2 X Armament of Nyx
3 X Last Breathe
15 Spells

Now obviously the target would be a hard to find ethereal armor among your 60 card decks. Heliod's Pilgrim allows you to bypass all the hassle of finding the card , Simply cast her and she will find it for you. Finding an Ethereal armor creates two things. One is hope. Hope for you because you actually have a shot at winning. It also creates fear among your opponents because they already know that you have an Ethereal armor at hand and could attack at any turn. Well that is for the offensive side of things . while the card Heliod's Pilgrim can search for Aura cards one of its limitations is that it cannot search for a creature with bestow because it is merely an enchantment creature and not an aura at the time that you searched. It can however look for Defensive cards that can delay your opponents or outright control their creatures that there is no other way but victory for you.

Cards like Pacifism and Oppressive Will will be staples in this particular build since they could control opposing creatures while in the meantime up your aura/enchantment card count on the battlefield which makes any creature that has Ethereal armor on it much larger. If for some reason this creature is killed and the armor falls into the graveyard you could always fetch another one with Heliod's Pilgrim. I also included 2 Armament of Nyx here. Most of the creatures that I have here are enchantment creatures, so the armament could give them double strike. Imagine how that would look like on a 6/6 Double Striking  , Lifelinking Hopeful Eidolon. 12 lifegain per swing right? and if your opponents cannot block it anymore? Double damage and life gain. Armament of Nyx also serves another purpose , it was put here as a sort of potential temporal jail for non enchantment creatures.  I mean it could still block and attack. Only it would never deal damage because all of it would be prevented. A nice addition for offense and defense as well.

In case you find yourself facing an enemy that has a lot of mana hybrid creatures or multicolored ones you could also fetch up Guildscorn Ward. So that your biggest creature could just pass through. Guildscorn Ward is an aura that gives Multi-Colored protection. You may not always need it but heck it is in the sideboard just in case that you do.

So the plan is simple , build up the Aura/Enchantment count , find your Ethereal armor with Heliod's Pilgrim...then smash face. Control , Control and then Attack when they have no blockers left for you. Yup Heliod's Pilgrim  has gotten me to brew a pauper deck again , I can't wait to see this card in combination with other colors. More on that soon. In the mean time keep on brewing!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"The Chain Veil:Not Once...But Twice!"

"The Chain Veil:Not Once...But Twice!"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

So now we have a card form of the artifact that Liliana Vess stole before she decided to off her demon masters. The Chain Veil and what a powerful artifact this is turning out to be.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to actually use a planeswalkers loyalty counters more than once per turn? 

There is actually a way to do it but it involves turning your planeswalker into an artifact and then making them a creature. So yeah , it would be cool to pull off but it would be hard since there are several pieces that need to be in play at the same time. Mycosynth lattice and March of the Machines...

Well with The Chain Veil , a Legendary artifact that costs a measly 4 colorless mana you could activate your superfriends Planeswaker ability twice per turn and it also goes without saying that you put twice as many loyalty counters on them per turn as well.All for 4 colorless mana per activation. So yeah think of the number 8. 4 to cast , 4 to cast the moment it comes in.

Now there are players in Magic who play the Superfriends deck which is basically a collaboration of their favorite planeswalkers. The Chain Veil will fit in into any of the existing Superfriends deck because it does not have a specific mana requirement. Just get to 4 mana and cast. 

Now I would not go into all the different +1 abilities of planeswalkers but it is actually an exciting thought to draw extra cards , kill creatures and kill other planeswalkers. Twice! This advantage with the chain veil extends to each planeswalker you control , each of them could activate an ability one more as if they haven't done so in this particular turn. I mean just imagine killing 2 planeswalkers with Garruk, Apex predator in one turn! Fantastic!

"Twice the killing capacity!"
Now this means 2 different things:
1) One is that you could go and use a Planeswalkers Ultimate ability a turn or two early. 

2) Also it means that when you are in a dire situations like facing two 8/8 Hexproof monsters that are set to finish you off, you could use a (-) planeswalker ability like Liliana of the Veil's (-)2 ability of target player sacrifices a creature.

It means that though your planeswalker may save you it also means that they could die much earlier due to this double activation.

There is a cost in using the veil as well. If you do not have any planeswalker in play( I find it silly that you will not use a planeswalker ability so I just assume that you do not have a planeswalker) or did not use a loyalty ability you lose 2 life. Something that you might not care about in the early games but seem to stack up really fast when you are playing in the mid to late games. If you are not careful you may find that 10 turns later you are dead.

Then again losing that amount of life per turn is a small price to pay to maximize all of the Planeswalkers you have under your command.And if you have at least one of them on your side the damage is sure to be negated. So the best thing is to already have one in play before you get The Chain Veil out. 

So call in all your (super)friends. We have a brand new shiny thing to play with. In the end it is not just Liliana having all the fun.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"The Apex Predators Onslaught..."

"The Apex Predators Onslaught..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Plane of Avenia , 3 days After the Onslaught...

They called him the Silver King and as his messengers slowly materialized in front of his throne one by one he could already predict the grim news that they would reporting.

"The Twins of the Plane of Medrov has fallen My King..." Started one Messenger.

"The plane of Antousha is in mourning after the death of the Planeswalker Arianna my king" reported another. 

One after the other the messengers told of death and despair as the outlying Planes have been robbed of the Planeswalkers that have ruled them for centuries. All of them he knew by name.All of them he called friend. He was King so he cannot shed tears for them , He was the only remaining Planeswalker here , in this side of the Multiverse which he had protected for so long.He was silently listening but as another name was mentioned the feathers on the back of his head stood up.

"Kitari , our prince is dead..." Another messenger said, he had noticed the rings under her eyes , the swollen red eyes of humans who had cried. He knew that his son was well loved and he sent him to another plane to teach him how to rule. He hoped that his experiences with his own Spark would lead him back here so that he could rule Avenia when he was gone. Grief had taken hold of him as well but anger quickly replaced it when he heard another name.

"....His name is Garruk My King , some Planes have now called him the Apex Predator..."

Garruk , he remembered that name. Together they hunted down a World Gorger Dragon that threatened Medrov long ago. Together they subjugated an Eldrazi spawn God near the Plane of Zendikar. He knew him as the Hunter. He never knew him as a killer.

"Were any of you able to learn why he was doing this?" He asked his messengers.

A voice that seemed to come from the walls itself seemed to answer."Because I despise the weak and admire the strong."

The messengers hurriedly took out concealed daggers and formed a circle around the Aven King.The King addressed the walls.

"Come out Hunter. There is no need for these theatrics. Leave this room." This last he addressed to the messengers who were momentarily confused but followed the Silver Kings command anyway.When the room was empty the Silver King rose and called upon Garruk once again."Come Hunter"

There was a sound like a tapestry being slashed into two as Garruks massive axe tore through reality and his massive right arm emerged to be followed by his other massive parts until he stood tall in the middle of the now abandoned throne room.

"I can see that you have acquired a taste for Black mana since last we met. Now tell me. Why have you really come to Avenia."

"I have come for you." Was all Garruk said as he stared at the Silver king.

"Very well , but you seem to have forgotten who I am Hunter."The address to Garruk was filled with so much condescension as to imply that his place was much lower than that of a king."I am the Silver King."

With one powerful motion the Avenian king struck his Silver staff to the ground and a spark of silver emanated from it , like flowing silver liquid that quickly spread out unto all corners of the room until it was covered by a Silver layer that shone brightly.

"There can be no sorceries in my presence. No magic. Whatever it is you think that you have gained with Black and Green mana , you are sorely mistaken into thinking that that will give you an edge here.With my own hands I will end you for the sake of my son, Kitari."

Garruk looked at the walls and gripped his axe shaft tightly that his skin rubbing on the hardened metallic staff echoed. "You are the one who is mistaken.For you , I do not even need Mana.Let us hope that you last longer than you weakling of a son."

With that the Avenian king , spread out his wings , dropped his staff and produced to curved blades from his sides. He had been trained to fight in Otaria , he had made use of that to subjugate this planes powerful armies. With his anger and his belief that he was right he had began his assault on the powerful planeswalker.

Sparks of White and Blue bounced off Garruks axe as he deftly block blows that were inhumanly fast. The Aven were known for their speed and with the addition of flight , their angles of attack came from places that no human could hope to block effectively. From above.

Garruk was another kind of warrior and his experience hunting every kind of game had taught him to instinctively defend and attack at the same time. He would often block with the axe and try to grab the Aven kings wings at the same. The Silver king was aware of this fact and would often roll and dive to avoid Garruks massive left hand. Often times the Aven would connect with his blades but the mighty hunter would merely shrug off these wounds and unmercilessly counter attack.

After encircling Garruk and trying to attack him low and the rising up to trail blades and strafe him.One blow had struck the Silver king directly on the chest and sent him against a far wall.Several feathers were left in his wake. The Silver king struggled to stand up. He momentarily stopped to catch his breathe ,something that Garruk anticipated , the hunter pressed his attack with a massive swing that struck the silver wall and sent huge chunks of stone flying in all directions. The Silver enchantment held however and flowed over the hole where a huge section of the wall had been.

"Having a hard time finishing me off without any mana huh Hunter?" Blood was seeping out of the edges of the blow on the Silver kings Chest. He knew that the last hit would now cost him everything. 

"You are the Silver king after all. I am amused with your fighting ability. However , you are only Bigger game. I am the Apex Predator."

The attack was fast and brutal , the Aven felt Garruks blows even though he had blocked them all. He felt as if his reaction times were getting much slower with each block that he made. His arms were numb from the blows. He blocked them all despite this or he thought.

Garruk relented. He stood. Blood dripping from the wounds that were inflicted upon him from the curved blades.

"Feeling tired are we Hunter?" The Silver King taunted though he fault out of breathe.

"No." Garruk said. Lifting the massive Axe to his shoulders and turning his back on the Silver king.

"Done?" The Silver King , Ruler of the Massive Avenian plane suddenly found that he could not feel his arms or legs , he could not feel his body. He saw as his vision of Garruk faded that his line of sight was slowly going down and to the right though he remained looking straight ahead at the hunter."Damn you Hunter" was the last words he said as his head fell to the floor.

"I already am" Garruk said as he waited for the Silver enchantment to fade. Once more like on so many planes , He swung his mighty axe to rip a hole in reality and was gone. 

"Garruk , Apex Predator: The Arrival of the Alpha"

"Garruk , Apex Predator: The Arrival of the Alpha"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

Seldomly does one piece of cardboard make a fan boy go crazy bananas. This particular card has done so and will continue to be hyped in the minds of every player until the time he or she will have one in her hands and use all 4 of those Planeswalker abilities. I am talking about Garruk , Apex Predator. The reaction of most who saw the card was was almost palpable through every computer screen on the planet. It was one of raw excitement and anticipation. You have new comers salivating at the thought and you have people who have long been dormant from the game wanting to come back in the chance to play with these newly minted power house. Not since Jace the Mind Sculptor have we seen such a powerful presence in Standard( well aside from Karn Liberated of course).

At 7 mana some players have again dismissed the probability of this being played in Standard. However with the amount of mana ramp and mana producing creatures in standard there really is a great chance of playing with this new planeswalker. 7 mana is nothing for green. And with Khans of Tarkir still down the road , the combined Lands from Return to Ravnica , Theros and M15 blocks give Black/Green all the color fixing it needs. Though some might have been disappointed in not seeing Fetch lands being reprinted  , the Painlands are still a welcome addition in this much needed mana fixing.

I guess when it comes right to it , the promise of destruction and dominance from Garruk are his main draws. His first ability alone allows him to Destroy another Planeswalker. A +1 ability that will set an imbalance once he lands on the battlefield. All of those wonderful Planeswalkers gone with one swing of his mighty Axe. Jace , Chandra , Ajani , Nissa Revane and Liliana Vess possibly the first ones he will be destroying in all the Pre-Release battlefields all over the world. Once he gets into the EDH or Modern Decks then Garruk could also come around and destroy the other Planeswalkers and I believe it when they said that this guy will sure be running around. Many people are now considering reforming their Black/Green decks or Shoring up their existing decks with him , all for the probability of knocking another Planeswalker out of existence.

If in case Garruk , Apex Predator comes in and is lacking a Planeswalker target  , he could just go ahead and use another +1 ability. He could create a 3/3 Black Beast Creature token with Deathtouch. Now talk about Defense , any creature without First strike that gets into contact with this beastie is sure to die while this nasty thing could be used to attack in the latter turns.

Since Garruk , Apex Predator is assumed to come in later in the game , it is normal for some players to lose a considerable amount of life to a superior attacking force. Let us say they have been pummeling you with a 5/5 creature. How would you like to turn the tables on them? Garruk , Apex Predator is your answer. He can shift the tides in your favor by using his -3 ability , destroying that 5/5 attacking creature and gain you life. Enough leeway to possibly steal the game from your opponents clutches. I believe that frustration now sets in on your opponents mind with such a mighty ally on your side of the board.

If an opponent has not found an answer to Garruk , Apex Predator and the Beasts that he has created(at this point 3 assuming that he did not destroy any other planeswalkers) then it is safe to say that he could finish them off by using his Ultimate ability of -8. Target opponent gets an Emblem that says "whenever a creature attacks them , that creature gets +5/+5 and Trample Until End of Turn." Partially translated 3 3/3 Black Beasts +5/+5 each is 24 points of damage and this is just in standard. In EDH Multiplayer games the player who gets targeted by this Emblem also has to contend with all the other opponents that are out to get him or her. The Emblem does not go away even if Garruk , Apex Predators controller is eliminated from the game leaving him or her in a thick pile of doodoo indeed.

At this point , Garruk , Apex Predator is on everybody's wish list. I expect that $29.99 price tag in Starcity games to increase the moment he comes out. There isn't any other Planeswalker with the same power level as this guy. Nicol Bolas is way too hard to cast and Karn Liberated , well he just has to wait his turn in Modern or EDH to beat Garruk , Apex Predator. In the meantime we all know who sets the power bar for Planeswalkers in Standard for the next couple of years.