Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Thousand Winds:Good bye Strike force"

"Thousand Winds:Good bye Strike force"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

One of the first things that players will learn from morph is this...sneaky players will always be up to sneaky things. Case in point is the recently spoiled card from the upcoming set Khans of Tarkir. Now the Thousand Winds is a 5/6 elemental for a normal cost of 6 mana. It screams of Blue Defense. Blue has the very distinct mass removal effect of bouncing things back to a players hands. The card Aetherize and Upheaval from the now released FTV: Annihilation are prime examples.

Thousand Winds is another example of a defensive sorcery card that has been turned into a creature and with Morph too. What this means is that you could put it down in the early turns of a game and just sort of let it simmer there. Let all the things happen in a normal game and make use of it when the right time comes. As with Aetherize the best time to use is when your opponents believe that they could already kill you with one decisive strike. For a morph cost of 7 mana you could actually return all tapped creatures to their owners hands. 

What you want to do it let your opponent commit to attacking you with everything they have , you do not respond at first but before the damage dealing step you spring this guy on them and voila. You have an empty battlefield ,except for the 5/6 Flying elemental that would be dishing out vengeance on your next turn. How is that for turning the tides? I mean it does seem really slow and deliberate but that is just how blue rolls traditionally. Slow and Deliberate. 

As an additional observation , in any games may it be standard or EDH games where an opponent is creature dependent on mana acceleration those creatures could also be affected by the Thousand Winds given that they were tapped when you activate it. They need not be attacking at all. 

Again the mana cost for the card is a bit prohibitive but there is a reason why this is in the rare spot. The threat of bluffing with a morphed creature with this strong  ability would surely affect the battlefield decisions of your opponents. As is with Legions before people would make guesses if you have a morphed creature that could be devastating to them or something that you are using as a bluff. Thousand Winds is one of those cards that opponents wished they have taken out in the early turns. Expect a lot of forehead slapping when opponents realize that that one 2/2 colorless creature they ignored for the whole game is actually something that would wipe out their whole strike force.

I guess now would be a great time to practice a poker face now that morph is coming back. Time to bluff and sneak again.

"Dragon Throne of Tarkir:Power from the Throne"

"Dragon Throne of Tarkir:Power from the Throne"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

There are kings who fight among their soldiers. There are kings who decide the fates of men. Then there are kings who do nothing but give people strength by being exactly where they are.Deriving power and authority from he who sits the throne. Now that Game of Thrones fever has caught on to more souls than ever we are ever mindful of the true power that thrones could give.

The recently spoiled Dragon Throne of Tarkir is no exception.For 4 colorless mana this artifact has the ability to turn your soldiers into super soldiers but there is a catch this strength is derived from the one who sits the throne or in this case whoever is equipped with the Throne.

Yup , power is what the throne sees and gives to your creatures. There is an equip cost of 3 mana and a mana activation cost of 2 colorless mana as well but then again if you have three 1/1 soldier tokens attacking and let us say you have someone like Kamahl , pit fighter (6/1) equipped with the throne and let us say your opponent has 1/1 tokens to block all of them. Kamahl steps back and taps. All your other creatures have +6/+6 and trample all of a sudden which makes them 7/7 and even if they were blocked 18 points of damage would still punch through! So who cares if the equipped creature becomes a defender right?

Another approach might be to just InstaGrowth the King or Queen who is sitting on the Dragon Throne of Tarkir before activating it. Opponents can laugh at your lowly 1/1 who is equipped with it and then the laughter stops when they realize that you just pumped this guy with Giant Growth twice and the three 1/1 soldiers you attacked with are now 8/8 monstrosities.

There are a lot of ways to make your king and Queen big like Auras like Madcap skills or Artifacts like Swords but nothing is more shocking than a well timed Mutagenic growth or Giant Growth. One thing I would like to try with Dragon Throne of Tarkir is a creature equipped with a Cranial Plating let us say a Myr in a modern deck that is artifact heavy. a 10/10 creature isn't so hard to achieve.

So far Khans of Tarkir has been giving me a lot of evil thoughts for the future. I can't wait till spoiler week starts again.

"Standard Pauper:Pilgrims Selesnya"

 "Standard Pauper:Pilgrims Selesnya"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Heliods Pilgrim is a game changer in the world of pauper. I love the fact that it is an Aura Tutor in the common slot that allows players to have access to key cards. I believe that mono white is the best place for her but there are a lot of variations where she can be used such as this Selenyan version which stars a lot of Aura Creatures and the awesome Setessan Oathsworn.

After passing by SM north Edsa and hoarding the 3 pesos Heliod's Pilgrim and 1 peso Setessan Oathsworn I could now go back to my lab and start cooking again.Here is the deck list for Heliod's Pilgrim powered Selesnyan deck:

4 x Selesnyan Guildgate
9 x Forest
9 x Plains
22 Lands

4 x Heliods Pilgrim
4 x Elvish Mystic
4 x Nyxborn Shieldmate
4 x Nyxborn Wolf
4 x Hopeful Eidolon
4 x Setessan Oathsworn
2 x Observant Alseid 
26 creatures

4 x Ethereal Armor 
4 x Armament of Nyx  
4 X Karametra's favor  
12 spells

White/Green is actually a great combination of little things. There is greens mana acceleration in Elvish Mystique to cast 3 mana creatures on turn 2 or allow you to Bestow much faster than usual and then there are the great Aura creature cards that have been a constant cast of characters in the decks that I have been building the last couple of months.

This is a creature driven deck so there are a total of 26 creatures , 14 of which are Aura creatures. One of the creatures I want to focus on is the 3 to cast Nyxborn Wolf who at 3/1 could be a bit fragile. It is one of the reasons why I included Armament of Nyx in the deck. When it is attached to the wolf all of a sudden you are looking at a Double Striking creature.Meaning that defensibly it could kill any attacker because it has the inherent first strike and on the offensive you could deal 6 damage when you have a clean hit.

Since I have already mentioned the Armament of Nyx  , I would also like to point out that it serves another defensive purpose when it attaches to a non-enchantment creature.The enchanted creature is not able to deal any damage. So much for all those giant monsters lurking around , one armament of nyx and they are useless as attackers.Although they could still block they would not be able to kill anything. The defense of the card is not perfect but at least it does give you a meaningful advantage in a deck that packs a lot of Enchantment Creatures.

Karametra's favor is just one of those seemingly out of place cards in this deck but it serves as card advantage in a deck that is badly in need of card draws. And if you find yourself in a situation is not beneficial for any of your creatures to attack not only do you have an available mana producer but may actually draw a card like Ethereal armor that could change the shape of the present situtation. It also adds up to the enchantment count as well so as oddly placed as it is this card will be staying.

I imagine using an Ethereal Armor on Setessan Oathsworn and you see an instant giant even if the EA is the only enchantment in the field. A 4/4 First Striker.

Heliod's Pilgrims main role here is to fetch your utility auras. EA for offense , Armament of Nyx for Defense and Offense and Karametras favor for card advantage and mana acceleration. 

So give this one a spin for the cult of Selesnya.Who knows how far it will take you.

"Magic:Bracing for the Winds of Change"

"Magic:Bracing for the Winds of Change"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

After reading Maros article(Metamorphosis) a couple of times I can honestly say that the winds of change are going to blow and they will blow hard.It is going to be a rough ride at first but the hope is that things will settle down like they always do in the world of Magic. 

While there has been a little howling about the changes to Standard with the 3 Block Standard , the disappearance of the Core Sets and the shortening of the 2 year(24 months) Block Rotation to basically 1 and 1/2 year(18 months).There has been a great acceptance of the changes.

Magic players have taken to social media to voice out their concerns about the changes and though the feeling is general acceptance their is some low rumbling about the changes.

I liked the core sets but I don't think that it was really for beginners to start with since you could make a simple mono red deck from any expansion and get players hooked on the game of magic.I am excited with the changes and I am curious as to how this will all will work down the line and what kind of cards and mechanics will come out in this more stream lined approach to magic. 

There has been concern about the speed that cards would rotate out or rotate in. The official stand is that the faster the rotation the less stale the meta game will be.And since there would be a total of 6 expansions in a year there would be a lot more deck archetypes that would come out.

Yes and Yes. However once a deck list has been released we would instantly see a polarization of players to the said net deck. While Magic is a pool of creative players there is a segment of this population who would look online , choose the strongest deck and go run with it. Now there is no shame in that because for one reason or another we do want to win and sometimes it means we have to sacrifice a little bit of ourselves to do so.Besides having a net deck does not guarantee victory but it does increase your chances. Skills aside you always want to up this percentage.

Budget would also play a big part in this decision.I mean we would want to choose a winner don't we? If we are going to invest on a deck we want that deck to get us the wins and packs and passes and byes that it should right? Now imagine buying a deck almost twice or thrice a year because the meta would be changing so fast.

With that being said it is safe to say that there would still be a dominant meta for a year and half. I have no doubt that Wizards would see this meta and support it because the whole point is retention of customers. If you can't run cards for that a reasonable amount of time then chances are you would get frustrated and lie low for awhile(quitting magic is a myth).

My other concern here is about the prices of Hot/Key cards.EDH and Modern will be happy to see the standard cards rotate out faster and into their loving arms but the Standard people will be paying a lot for cards that would only be available for a shorter amount of time. A shorter meta means that we will then get to see soaring prices of cards since everyone would be looking for those same pieces and chances are they won't reprint those cards in the following blocks so this means that they will be limited. This also means that you would be changing decks much faster.

One player I know of has said that he will try and let go of all his cards right away since they will lose value once they rotate out. So yes it is still a business model and we are all being zombie herded to it. I mean what choices do you have? Quit the game you love? Not likely. I can't quit standard. I haven't played it since Scars of Mirrodin and Infect said goodbye.I could grumble and maybe a lot of others might grumble too but it is still not known how Wizards would react to it. In the meantime a lot of players are playing the "Let's wait and see game".I count myself in this horde.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Daddy's Home"

"Daddy's Home"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD


"I'm home" I said to no one in particular.

As usual my wife has her headset on. She is talking to someone over the Internet about a product that does not exist but she sells them anyway. With the way she was talking I could tell that she was reeling in this particular person. Way to go honey.

As usual she doesn't even look in my direction to say Hi. Not even a small gesture to acknowledge that she knows that I am here.Sometimes I even wonder why I even bother to go home in the first place.

Then I see her. With her smile filling up the whole room. She looks at me. Waves at me and mouths "Hi Daddy" in her cute way. As quietly as she could.She had learned not to greet me so loud when her mom was on the phone. She has been scolded several times because she would often shout when I arrived.

I opened the closet on the left , put in my bag and my shoes. I head on up to the loft and my 6 year old daughter follows. Her wide smile showing that both her canines were now gone."You have baby teeth falling all over the place." I told her which made her almost laugh.

I lie back on our bed and stretch out a little.I feel so tired but I have to stay up a little bit longer. My little girl has tons of stories to tell me.She told me how her day at school went , how she had renamed a particular toy because she felt that the new name would be more fitting.

She probably notices how tired I am because she stops her stories after awhile.

"Go on" I always tell her.

"Tomorrow Daddy , I'll tell you more tomorrow when you get home." , was always her reply in that sweet voice of hers. 

And this is how my days would end. I would sleep angry with my wife. Happy with my daughter. Grateful for the rest."



"Daddy's Home"

I always sit by the door at this time. I knew he would be opening it and I would see him again.I wonder what he was bringing me tonight.

Daddy knew I had a sweet tooth. He would always buy me cupcakes and Doughnuts.Mommy would always be mad at me because I didn't want to eat dinner and I'd just gobble up whatever daddy brought for me.

Lately he hasn't really brought me anything but I don't mind. Mommy is always talking with someone.Daddy is the only person who listens to me even though I know that he is really tired. He hasn't looked good since the accident. He looks more tired. I wonder what he does at work that makes him look like that.

When he comes home and goes up the loft I follow him. I ask him questions and tell him my stories. I can see he is tired but he listens and answers all of my questions even I had probably asked them a lot of times. I can feel how he misses me and loves me.I keep on telling my stories to him.

I know how tired he is so I try to limit the things I tell him. 

"I love you Daddy. Sleep well." I always tell him.

He nods and says, "I love you too baby"

I always leave him there. Tomorrow , I would talk to him some more.



"I hate this hour"

My daughter sits by the door and at exactly 8:00pm it opens though I have locked it securely before I go on my calls. I pretend not to notice it but my daughter waves at the door and looks excited.

The closet doors open for no reason.The next thing I know my daughter is hurriedly going up the loft while chatting with someone. At first I thought she was just playing with her toys. She was fond of role-playing and more often than not I would get mad at her for being too noisy.

Lately , she has learned to control her voice. I hear her talking in hushed tones about things that I knew she would only talk to one person about and I shudder at the thought.

I noticed that after a few minutes she always comes down an reads her books beside me as I worked.

Curiosity got the better of me tonight so I asked,"Baby who were you talking to? One of your toys?"

"Shush mommy, Don't be too noisy."


"You might wake him. He is sleeping."

"Who?" I asked already knowing the answer."

"Daddy. He is home."

My husband died 3 months ago...

"Stitcher Geralf:Sutured Ghoul anyone?"

"Stitcher Geralf:Sutured Ghoul anyone?"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

So there I was moments after posting about Ghoulcaller Gisa and wondering what a Geralf card would look like when all of a sudden Geralf card was spoiled all over the Internet.

I was very excited about this fact since I have been following these amusing siblings since Innistrad. I cannot help but draw a contrast in their method of making zombies. Ghoulcaller Gisa is all about quantity obviously. Raising ghouls to swarm and devour.

Stitcher Geralf on the other hand focuses a whole lot on the quality of zombie that he makes.In fact that guy he is working on reminds me of a certain Sutured Ghoul.

Now on to the card , Stitcher Geralf has the same mana cost as his sister on this one is Blue.He even has the same power and toughness. So I guess them killing each other is out of the question. 3/4 simply cannot kill another 3/4...unless they have death touch. This card could be a great addition to many existing mill decks. He slides just right in but more than that he also gives value by creating a very special zombie for you.

For the amount of 3 mana , all players would mill 3 cards to their respective graveyards. Now Geralf hurts opposing players in 3 ways. 

1) He forces everyone to mill. If a particular player has already set up his library to draw something with Vampiric tutor or Enlightened tutor , that particular plan would be foiled and your opponent would just watch helplessly as that particular key card falls out of reach to the graveyard.Unless they were necromancers then you could just see a certain glint in their eye but more on them later.

2) The second way Stitcher Geralf hurts your opponents is because he would let you choose up to two creatures in any graveyard and allow you to exile those two creatures as long as they were removed by his ability. Of course this would lead you into very important choices. You need to watch out for the necromancer on the table as they would just love to reanimate something to hurt you later on. The obvious targets are the biggest creatures from green or basically just the biggest ones you could find. This would hurt a necromancer a lot since you are depriving them of the choicest zombify target.Ouch.Tactically speaking you might want to be wary of the Primordials that fall on the graveyard.Especially the Sepulchral one.

3) And finally Stitcher Geralf would hurt your opponents with his own version of a Sutured Ghoul. I mean imagine facing a Golgari player and exiling Death's Shadow and Phyrexian Dreadnought after you have milled them. You now have a 25/25 Stitched Ghoul that could end someones life in 2 swings.So yeah that would be a physical kind of hurt.

I wonder who would win in an earnest battle of these zombie making siblings on the battlefield.Well I just have to wait for the Commander 2014 series to come out.Well , till then let's keep on making zombies.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Ghoulcaller Gisa: Zombie Party Uprising"

"Ghoulcaller Gisa: Zombie Party Uprising"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

GhoulCaller Gisa aka Geralf's sister is getting her own card in the upcoming Commander 2014 set. Now for 5 mana and a 3/4 creature she seems like a big commitment for a little gain. However since we would be making a lot of Zombies I decided that she was worth checking out. She would be a welcome addition to existing Grixis decks or even Blue/Black zombie decks that have Grimgrin as commander.

GhoulCaller Gisa for a measly one mana activation and a creature sacrifice(of course , you need to break something to hatch many Zombies) puts X 2/2 Black Zombie creatures in the battlefield where X is the sacrificed creatures power. Now a lot of people would ask why you would want to sacrifice a big creature you control to get zombies, I would counter with another question what if the creature you were sacrificing was not your own? Yeah...

There are a lot of effects in both red and blue(grixis combo right here) that would let you capture somebody Else's big creature and then you could sacrifice it for a lot of zombies. Traitorous Act and a lot of the "you control enchanted permanent" auras from Blue will get you what you need.Enslave from Black also comes to mind.GhoulCaller Gisa will at least give you something for nothing if in case your opponent breaks your slaving aura or if a spell would return the creature to your opponent once your turn ends.

GhoulCaller Gisa would also fit into Golgari(Black/Green) decks. Green has access to a lot of the games biggest creatures and could easily cast them much easier than any other color. Imagine having a reanimated or hard casted Krosan Cloudscraper , a 13/13 monstrosity that would demand a 4 forest sacrifice in your next upkeep. If you are the same as me , 4 sacrificed forests is a bit steep so I would just sacrifice the guy and just settle for the 13 , 2/2 Zombie tokens from GhoulCaller Gisa thank you very much. They happen to represent 26 points of damage. If your opponent takes notice of this in your EDH games , they would be able to calculate that you could end any opponents life in 2 swings.

Of course I have another existing deck that would also want GhoulCaller Gisa. It is a Dimir Mill deck that has a Consuming Aberration as its resident superstar. Sometimes it feels great to win with a 100/100 Consuming Aberration from all the milling that your opponents have been doing , I guess it would feel even better if you had a 100 2/2 Zombies swarming in against everyone for the win. Now talk about a horde of undead. The only thing that could really ruin my day with these zombies is if someone suddenly casts a well timed pyroclasm...in an EDH game what are the odds though?

Another set of creatures that you would want to sacrifice to Ghoulcaller Gisa are those that are on the way to the graveyard or have a big effect when they come from the grave. Creatures with the Unearth mechanice like Kederekt Leviathan comes into mind. Even Scuttling Doom Engine that could give you 6 points of redirected damage to finish an opponent or maybe a Protean hulk that not only gives you 6 2/2 Zombie tokens but you could find creatures that would have a sum total of 6 mana to join the Zombie Uprising as well. Think about that evil thought for a moment. You could have Cemetery Reaper, Death Baron , Lord of the Undead , Adaptive Automaton and even Mikaeus the Unhallowed on your side in an instant making your 2/2's into potentially bigger threats! Evil.

I would also like to point out that the zombie tokens GhoulCaller Gisa produces are not your typical Innistrad zombies which always comes into play tapped. They come in ready to rumble (If you have anything that gives your creatures have haste like Urabrask the Hidden for example) or ready to defend for you if they don't have haste. I wonder if they would come up with a Geralf card soon and one can only wonder what kind of zombies he would produce. In the meantime though I would love to keep in experimenting with GhoulCaller Gisa.

"M15:When Blue Means Aggro"

"M15:When Blue Means Aggro"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Control has always been the basic element of the color Blue in magic. It has long been the favorite of players because there is a sense of control over the games outcome. Normally blue would be content in mastering the early phases of the game , trying to survive or manipulate their opponents into certain end games.Normally there would be one abnormally huge monster who would kill you in the end or a power combo.All that has changed however when Theros was released. Standard Mono Blue Devotion decks featured creatures like Master of the Waves and Thassa. Tons of token could be produced at will and be commanded to attack pushing Blue into a more aggressive tilt.

M15 pushes this trend much further. You still have your Sphinxes and Stormtide Leviathans for the control end game but then again you see creatures like Chasm Skulker and Illusory Angel. Heck you even have the card Military Intelligence that allows you to draw a card when you attack with 2 or more creatures. Card advantage while smashing face. I love it. The sense that Blue could now pose threats early on is something that I always wanted to have. I mean this is one of the reasons why I play Simic colors too because the Simic is all about Tempered Might. Now Blue could be aggressive all on its own and that is a good thing too because it gives player who have been playing Control for years to take stock of the situation and enjoy a little bloodshed as well.

I mean look at Chasm Skulker, It gets huge when you draw a card represented by a +1/+1 counter that you would be putting on it. If there is one thing that Blue is great at and that is drawing tons of cards. In an EDH setting you could use cards like Ponder , Serum Vision or Brainstorm , draw the card and make your Chasm Skulker grow.Imagine how fast this guy would grow when you have a Consecrated Sphinx and you are drawing at least 6 cards after your opponents have drawn one on their respective turns.
This guy is also a two for one because it could be your lone Aggressor or it could die and put  1/1 Islandwalking Squid tokens into play equals to the +1/+1 counters on it and provide you with a whole team to attack for you.Yup , in EDH there will always be a player with Blue mana and you already know where your squids are going to go when they attack.

Illusory Angel is competitively mana costed. I mean a 3 mana , 4/4 flyer which only requires you to play another spell so you could play it. 4/4. A giant by magic standards and a flying one who ignores ground defenses. On its own she could finish you in 5 turns.2 of these babies and it is a 3 turn death clock.I guess this is another reason to have an Ornithopter handy.Cast one on turn three and you have a flying 4/4 angel to go with it. In modern some of those Phyrexian spells like Gitaxian probe or Mutagenic Growth could let you cast her as well.

"I can power an Angel out for you..."
I am happy with the way Blue has been turning out lately. I am excited with all the additions. At least this time around its blue getting a little out of control. 

"Cold Heart"

"Cold Heart"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

So when my heart stops beating
would you be there to make it start again?
Would it be different than today?
Or would everything be the same?

I knew the answer even before you spoke
I knew those eyes have really lost their glow
and all this time that I was with you
my heart just beat so slow , so slow

And I wanted to smile
And I wanted to laugh
and know that feeling 
that simple wish to be alive

But I know for sure when my heart stops beating
I know that I will be truly dead
The person who always brought me back
That person has changed

"Sunod sa nasa"

"Sunod sa nasa"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Nangungusap , nangungusap , Katawan at mata
Di na maayawan ng aking pagnanasa
unti unting gumigiling sa ng ritmo ng tugtog
tumitirik na mga mata sa patuloy na indayog

Isang kamay na humahawak sa dibdib
at isa naman sa sikretong basang yungib
Dindilaan ang labi na natuyo na
tumatagaktak na pawis sa hubog ng diwata

Patuloy ang ungol , patuloy ang ungol
at sa sukdulan tuluyan nang nilamon
bumubulwak ang bunga ng pagnanasa
katahimikan di nababasag at isang hinang hina na.

"Sigaw ng Mangmang"

"Sigaw ng Mangmang"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Nakakabahala ang sigaw ng iba
nais ibalik ang madilim na diktadurya
di pansin ang nilalagay na lubid sa leeg
tuloy sa pagtiwakal at walang naririnig

Di nagtatanong doon sa mga nakaranas
mapait na na nakaraan sa kalabang di patas
Mga tupang Mistulang pipi , bingi at bulag
inuulit ang awit ng mga taong huwad

Sigaw nila kailangan na ng pagbabago
Sigaw nila bagong panimula tayo magtungo
Gayun din ang hiyaw ng mga napunta ng impiyerno
tinahak ang landas na akala ay bago

Monday, August 11, 2014

"The reason why your Guild Crossed the Road..."

"The reason why your Guild Crossed the Road..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

In the game of magic there are a lot of mysteries. Things that will never be answered , Like how many planes actually exist? Are there other being other than the Eldrazi floating around in the blind Eternities? Why can't everyone have a spark?

I would love to leave that to other great thinkers for today , I would just love to answer the question , why did your guild cross the road?

1) Why did the Orzhov cross the road?
- Because he thought he saw someone who owed him money...

2)Why did the Gruul cross the road?
- Lunch

"Mmmmm....Ham and Eggs!!!!"
3)Why did the Simic cross the road?
- Someone looked liked the could sure use a good mutation over there...

4) Why did the Boros cross the road?
- Order here. Chaos there. Go figure.

5) Why did the Azorius cross the road?
- Someone was willing to listen there about Article 7 , section 79...(I don't even know what that is)

6)Why did the Dimir cross the road?
- The sooner you don't know about it , the better off you will be.

7) Why did the Rakdos cross the road?
-Because Victims...err...spectators were less on this side of the road...

8) Why did the Izzet cross the road?
- In search of Shinier parts...

9) Why did the Selesnya cross the road?
- Because it needs more members, saprolings are great but they don't seem to listen..

10) Why did the Golgari cross the road?
- That compost heap was starting to look like it had potential..

So there you have it. The reason why your Guild Crossed the Road...

"Being Dimir:Succumbing to Control"

"Being Dimir: Succumbing to Control"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Winning has it perks even if it means succumbing to the temptation of control. I have never liked control. For me Holding cards in your hand and knowing what is going to happen in the next few turns ruins a great EDH game. I love a good Swing and return swing that all Aggro EDH decks could deliver. However having an Aggro deck does not necessarily mean a win.Sometimes you damage a player to an inch of his life total and they still manage to turn things around.  

So for a change I played an EDH game with my Dimir Mill deck with Mirko Vosk as my commander. Blue/Black has always been a great and dreaded combination for me because of its ability to control almost any threat in the battlefield. More often than not I have been a victim of this dreaded combination. During this EDH match(this was a while back) I was able to go up against Ed Tanyags  , Azusa Smash EDH deck. A mono green monstrosity that accelerated land drops and hence the ability to cast bigger and mightier spells like Genesis Wave and any big green monster that was lurking in that 100 card pile. On the table was Paolo's Nekusar Deck and Jolans Rafiq , Exalted Bant deck.

Most of the people who know me have identified me with my Skullbriar EDH deck so they were surprised when I turned up with a Dimir Deck. I am normally the earliest aggressor in most matches because I wanted to make Skullbriar big. This time around though I was content with defending and watching as the others bashed themselves. Like a true Dimir I stayed in the Shadows , only to cast a timely Counter Spell or a needed Mass Removal spell when things were threatening to spill over on my side of the battlefield. While I was not attacking I found that I was beginning to be more aware of the nuances of an EDH game. I was observing card draws and creature placement and number of attacks and cards at hand. Having cast no creature made me more focused. I sat there knowing what would happen next and I found myself liking it. This must be how Neo felt when he began seeing the moves of the Agents and he was able to dodge and block them effectively. It was some sort of epiphany.

I sat there and I was content copying my opponents best creatures with a Phyrexian Metamorph or Evil Twin. I particularly enjoyed it  when one of my favorite creatures of all time , Terastodon arrived on the battlefield and destroyed an opposing control players lands. I was happy to copy it with Evil Twin and decimate the same players lands , making me the only control player with the ability to say no to any shenanigans. It was a great feeling to be in control.On a later turn I destroyed that Terastodon with the Evil Twins ability, making me the lone owner of the biggest creature on the field.

I waited , laid back and schemed. I let myself be consumed by this power. I won. Skullbriar maybe twitching his/her/its decaying nose at me at this point but it really felt good to win in this manner. scheming bad like only a Dimir could. 

"Hate Machine"

"Hate Machine"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD

The darkness is closing in on me
stifling , suffocating my ardent pleas
Here I sit alone and defenseless
All alone I wallow in this disease

I have chosen to be here
consumed by my hatred and fear
I cry my tears for no one to see
I shout out my lungs for no one to hear

I have become my fear
and I envelope those with me
A grenade exploded in the crowd
Spreading hate so loud

No one hears the sound
Yet soon they would feel it
Gnawing at their insides
Not knowing what is inside

And they might notice that I am gone
For the gaping light that I have left
I hope that I have taken enough darkness
I hope they heard what I said...

"Avacyn, Guardian Angel:An ounce of Prevention..."

"Avacyn, Guardian Angel:An ounce of Prevention..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.
An ounce of Prevention is better than a pound of cure...
Many have been disappointed with the latest incarnation of Avacyn in M15. First they complain of the name. Avacyn , Guardian Angel. Doesn't sound like a creature for Magic? fits better in some nursery rhyme right? However that name is quite misleading. Avacyn does tend to look out for you but she is no softy either. While I might agree about the name  , there are a lot of cooler names out there. Like I don't know...Avacyn , Circle of Protection Avatar for example.In essence this is what Avacyn has become.Instead of the cool Angel of Hope that makes everything you control Indestructible she now has the ability to Circle of Protect you , Think of her as Avacyn , Magic casting Body guard.

For those of you who have just joined Magic in the recent years , Circle of Protection was a cycle of 2 to cast enchantments that were named to protect you from the different colors of Magic. Circle of Protection:Red for example was a bane to all those attacking red creatures or targeting red spells that would have affected you. You pay mana and all of these troubles go away. In recent years COP has still been a staple of magic , only a bit more refined or watered down , like in the form of Story Circle. While a lot of people frown upon the use of COP's and many a friendship has been ruined for calling people weak by hiding behind this enchantment people still continue to use this it because of the simple reason that it annoys other people.

Now to annoy people further , COP already comes in creature form and in a 5 to cast  , Flying , Vigilance 5/4 frame to boot. So now , not only does a COP protect you , you also have the power to hurt some of your friends who have been looking down on you. Take that!

Now Avacyn , Guardian Angel does have 2 abilities and I would like to look at them further. For 2 mana you could prevent damage that would be dealt to another target creature this turn by sources of the color of your choice. For example you have a 4/4 creature against 2 3/3 Green Beasts. you attack with your creature and it becomes mass blocked by the 2 3/3 Beasts. You could use Avacyns ability and just say protect from Green , your creature is still considered blocked and however all the damage that would be dealt to it is prevented. However your creature deals damage to one of the 3/3 beasts and will kill one. As a reminder , Avacyn could not target herself with this ability , you need to protect her with something else if you want to do that.

Now on to Avacyn ,Guardian Angels big mana ability. a 7 mana cost activation that Prevents all damage to target player this turn by sources of the color of your choice. In one on one games this ability could make you live again and again against brutal assaults and live long enough to come up with a plan to win.If you are being attacked by Mono Colored creatures like a horde of Black Zombies or Relenteless Rats...

"Dibs on the bones heheheh"
I think this ability will be a great political tool in Multiplayer EDH games. Imagine literally holding another players life in the palm of your hands. If you have the mana you could just pay and with instant speed you have managed to save one potential allies life. Gaining a friend in a harsh table is very important. Who knows ,with this activation you might have actually might have  bought yourself some time. Watch as people butter up to you so that they too can be saved by your angel. Take note though that different colored critters need several activations for absolute protection. So the best decision to choose the predominant color or the color which has the more damage dealing creatures on the board. 
Avacyn may have lost that coolness factor but she is actually more attainable , much easier to cast and summon to your side. It may not sound as cool as Angel of Hope but having a Guardian Angel is much better in different situations.  I mean making everything on the side of your table indestructible does not guarantee a win or guarantee that all damage directed to you would be prevented. For that you need the M15 Avacyn. I'm glad I have a copy.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"Standard Pauper: Whelming White Weenies 2014"

"Standard Pauper: Whelming White Weenies 2014"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

M15 has got me brewing over time again. There is simply too many pieces available to ignore. This particular deck which I would like to call Whelming White Weenies or WWW is an update to my "I'd Tap that" Deck with the addition of one more component. Convoke.

Due to the return of this mechanic plus cards like Raise the Alarm, Triplicate Spirits and Ornithopter which are available in the common slot we could now see several cards landing on the battle for free , on the back of the fervent wishes of the other creatures on the battlefield. Here is where WWW will try to stand out. Now on to the deck list.

22 X Plains

4 X Yoked Ox
4 X Selfless Cathar
4 X Court Street Denizen
4 X Soul Mender
4 X Azorius Arrester
4 X Ornithopter
3 X Will Forged Golem
28 creatures

4 X Raise the Alarm
4 X Triplicate Spirits
2 X Sanctified Charge
10 spells

4 X Revoke Existence
4 X Oppressive Rays
4 X Pillar of Light
3 X Keening Spirit

 As you can see this is a weenie deck , a deck that has a lot of cost effective creatures. In the early turns of the game the point is to get as many creatures on the battlefield as you can. There are 12 , 1 mana cost creatures in this deck as well as as a set of the 0 to cast Ornithopter. What this means is that with a god draw of 4 ornithopters , 2 lands and a Will Forged Golem you could actually cast the latter on turn 2. Turn 3 means that you are going to town with a 4/4 creature that none of your opponents could respond to(hopefully). An exciting thought that I had carried with me since I got two Will Forged Golems during my M15 PR game.

Now , the biggest concern is that being weenies with 1/1 tokens or even 0/2 we seem to be lacking a lot of teeth here.Not enough bite. Not as efficient in killing as the Boros or most Mono Red decks in Standard Pauper so I decided to beef up the support here. Selfless Cathar could help out in Convoke early and then could die for the team to give each creature a +1/+1 boost. If you already have creature advantage and believe me in this deck you will have creature advantage with sheer numbers alone. 10 creatures unblocked is 20 damage. Or let us say you only have 7 creatures and cast this...(put Sanctified Charge)

Yup , a single Sanctified Charge could sour your opponents mood in the end game at instant speed. 2 different scenarios would present itself here. (1)If they become too confident that their 3/3 creatures could kill your weak looking 1/1 tokens and block , the +2/+1 stat pump and First strike would be enough to wipe out their board of bigger creatures.  or (2) of they become complacent that your 6 1/1 weenies would not be able to kill them this turn because they still have 18 life then they should guess again. Sanctified Charge would give you the finishing blow that you need. All of a sudden the 1/1's are 3/2's. All 18 points hitting home. And here is to hoping that you catch your opponent off guard and guessing.

Court Street Denizen(CSD) also makes an appearance here partly because she is a personal favorite and partly because I may have hoarded way too many copies of her(they are all mine...my precious). Azorius Arrester also comes back to combo with the CSD for that tapping that I have grown to love. As an additional battle trick , Raise the Alarm interacts well with the CSD , you could tap 2 creatures before they could attack and have 2 tokens ready on your turn. Triplicate spirits could let you tap 3 creatures on your turn(as it is a sorcery) and let a bunch of yout attackers through. Maybe even giving you the chance of a coup de grace when you need it.While CSD cannot be activated by Ornithopter and Will Forged Golem that is not really their purpose in this deck. 

"Im Orni , Orni, Orni,Orni..."
So there you have it the WWW deck which promises a White Wave to topple all of your enemies. Check it out for yourself and see you in a Standard Pauper game soon. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"MICU Bed-A"

"MICU Bed-A"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

When I was still a Medical Clerk at MCU-FDTMF one of the regular places that I would find myself in was the Medical Intensive Care Unit. This was due to the fact that there was a lot of admissions that were sent to the ICU for close monitoring and I believe there was literally an order on the chart that said "Hook to JI , until mechanical ventilator arrives." So going to the MICU meant that I could rest my tired hands from all that bagging and feel something again in my hands. You think relief would be one your dominant feeling but the MICU always instilled a little fear in you. Most of the patients sent there were on the brink of death and while many were revived to live normal lives again there was the unfortunate few who would never leave that place. Ghost stories abound about this place and one involves around the MICU Bed-A which one senior nurse had told me was the place where a lot of lives ended. People literally expired on MICU Bed-A. I do not hold any particular importance to this bed , I do not think it sucks the life out of people. I just know that it seems to be the most farthest bed in that ward.

It was located at the far end of the room. At the head of the bed was the normal ICU monitoring equipment, at its left side was a small faucet and at its foot was a small toilet room. The stories about this bed come from the nurses who rotated themselves. Some of the events involving bed-A include the following

1) The small faucet turning on and off by itself. There was no patient in the area when these events would occur. 
2) There were times that the MICU was almost empty , nurses would then hear the toilet bowl flushing at the foot of the bed.
3) And the creepiest story is that involving a girl who would peer from the drapes dividing MICU bed-A and MICU bed-B. People could not agree on what she looked like but they all agree that it was the same creepy looking girl in a hospital gown who would peer at the nurses while they were looking after the patients.

There was a nurse on duty who checked on the adjoining bed and felt someone looking at her. She thought it was her imagination until she turned and saw the girl staring right back at her. She refused to check on that bed again for the rest of her duty.

In my own time in the MICU , I was able to feel a strange heaviness on Bed-A. Maybe it was just the negative energy related to death. Fortunately the girl did not manifest herself to me. Hopefully she never does.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Standard Pauper:Mono-Green Heroes 2014"

"Standard Pauper:Mono-Green Heroes 2014"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

I have always wanted to do a Mono-Green Heroic deck. Well with the whole Theros block now available and me having a little time to browse I have finally found the ingredients of a very affordable but powerful Assault deck. With this kind of magic I could make a bunch of Hulks and smash my way to victory. Here is the deck list:

22 x Forest

4 X Elvish Mystic 
4 X Golden Hind 
4 X Staunch Hearted Warrior 
4 x Setessan Oathsworn 
4 X Leafcrown Dryad 
2 x Pheres-Band Thunderhoof
22 creatures

4 X Giant Growth
 4 X Aspect of Hydra 
4 X Titanic Growth 
4 X Mutant's Prey
16 Spells
4 X Feral Invocation
4 X Naturalize
3 X Phytoburst 
4 X Predators Rapport

One of the advantages of playing Green is the access to creatures that produce mana. Elvish Mystic and Golden Hind  are great mana accelerators who at the same time could be early targets of Growth Spells should you have an abundance of those in your hand and none of the Heroic creatures. The main goal of these two though  is to be able to power out a Pheres-Band Thunderhoof or Staunch Hearted Warrior on turn 3. Or a Setessan Oathsworn on Turn 2. Whatever is at hand.

An ideal play would look something like this:

Turn 1: Play Forest , 1 Elvish Mystic
Turn 2: Play Forest , 1 Golden Hind  or 1 Setessan Oathsworn
Turn 3: Play Forest , 1 Staunch Hearted Warrior or Pheres-Band Thunderhoof! 

Setessan Oathsworn , Staunch Hearted Warrior and Pheres-Band Thunderhoof are my chosen heroes for the assault. All of them have the Heroic mechanic and thus the title of this blog post. All of them get 2 +1/+1 counters every time you target them with a spell. Heroic is really big in green and the support with these common cards are cool.

Now imagine this play with Setessan OathSworn. You declare an attack in which your opponent failed to check the three cards in your hand and the 3 open mana that you have. Now let us assume that you have 3 Giant Growths in your hand. Your opponent does not block the 1/1 Setessan Oathsworn  thinking that all it could do is a measly point of damage. You Fire off 3 Giant Growths at the little. First trigger makes him a 6/6 , second trigger makes him an 11/11 and the third trigger makes him a 16/16 monstrosity! Now imagine the look on your opponents face as this all resolves. 
Once things settle down , the Setessan Oathsworn is still a 7/7 giant that could finish off your opponent on the next turn. Turns don't need to be that explosive though as a stable 5/5 Setessan Oathsworn sporting a bestowed Leafcrown dryad could do the trick just fine.

 Just imagine that this guy is the smallest of the three , Staunch Hearted Warrior is a 2/2 and Pheres-Band Thunderhoof is a 3/4! Imagine casting a G-Growth on these guys!

Now aside from the Instant speed Giant Growth I have also included Aspect of Hydra and Titanic Growth to give that Instant boost. The former is based on your devotion to green and the latter is a +4/+4!
Leafcrown Dryad is in here because of Bestow and could be an early creature on the ground should you need to defend.Mutant's Prey is a personal favorite of mine here since it can put a +1/+1 counter on let us say Staunch Hearted Warrior , making it an instant 5/5 and because of the Fight , it could take out at least one of your opponents heavy weights. The counters on Staunch Hearted Warrior do not leave him at the end  of your turn and you could either attack or defend with him. You made a monster while taking out a monster on your opponents side of the board.At instant speed too! Meaning this mean battle trick could be done while your opponent tries to attack you or if he or she is defending before your own attack.Evil.

 The downside to this deck is that you are actually leaning toward a single creature doing all the smashing and killing for you. To counter that you should attack with at least 2 heroic creatures so that your opponents would be forced to assess which creature to block and creatures that they think would be a lesser threat. When it comes to the latter not a single one of these heroic creatures are a lesser threat since they could be pumped at any time.

Well now that the Heroes are here , time to do a little smashing. Have fun.