Monday, September 29, 2014

"My CVG Felina Clinic:All good things..."

"My CVG Felina Clinic:All good things..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.MD

All good things must come to an end or so they say. As I entered the clinic at CVG Felina in Eastwood for the second to the last time I thought about those words. Come next week all operations will cease and due to some issue with the building the account that I have been protecting and safeguarding for the last few months will be transferred to the MDC building. The transfer has begun even now and the clinic and the place are slowly getting much quieter. I believe by Friday it would just be me , the nurse and the guards. Like I wrote before I have trouble saying goodbye and well dealing with things that are about to end. I don't cry but I don't exactly feel great about it either. I at least have pin pointed the cause for my feeling Meh this whole week.The end of my first clinic.

When this account was offered to me by my BCOM batch mate Michiko Barros ,  I hesitated quite a bit since this was going to be my first Clinic in a Call Center setting. Though I have been to Call Center Clinics I have always been a patient(You know the kind , the one who goes and complains of pains and hordes painkillers , that kind of Agent Patient) and now I would be on the other side of the table taking Histories and Assessing what to do next regarding a patients treatment. It excited me and made me feel a little bit terrified at the same time. What if I got a diagnosis wrong? What if there was something so exotic that I did not have the answer? CVG Felina showed me that it was OK to be a bit terrified but the answers will always be there.

I also found my post in Convergys a little bit interesting since this would be my first regular gig as a Doctor. The first time I even heard of Convergys I was applying as an Agent and for some unknown reason it was my first failure in my Call Center application process.(though I would be hired by the 2nd company I applied to which is People Support). So I guess my destiny was not to be an agent for them but to be One of their Doctors.I would remain so  because I am still going to the CVG MDC 10th floor clinic.And would still be seeing people from the account here in Felina.

There were good times and there were bad times here but mostly good times because well...CVG Felina was an Oasis of sorts after all the tiresome duties that I had in my early days as a Physician. There were times of Complete Bed Rest with or without bathroom privileges. There were times when Anxiety Attacks and Asthma Attacks were common. The agents were a mix of the courteous and the not so courteous  but I am glad to say that most were the former and less the latter, I think I treated a lot of guards here as well , those valiant people who never seem to sit down. The Nurses were great , Mark , Sheila , Cha , Che , Paul and Ken. We had fun times and meaningful discussions. We laughed. We treated. We Rested. We rolled around when there were a lot of patients. (Gulong sa tagalog) CVG Felina will always have a special place in my heart.And as another cliche goes , you never forget your first.


Editors Note:
When I went to Felina last Friday , I was greeted by a guard that said that the site will not be moved and that the clinic has been restored. CVG Felina Clinic will continue until the 31st of December 2014. Then again I already wrote this piece so I have to write one on that day again hahahaha.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Ang Naligaw"

"Ang Naligaw"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD

Umaalingaw-ngaw ang mga halakhak
sa silid na walang katapusan
at sa kaguluhang ito may isang kakatwa,
Isang tinig na lumuluha...

At sa malayo , pigurang may hawak ng nakakasilaw na liwanag
sa kalagitnaan ng karagatan ng napakalalim na mga bitag
Di mawari ang mukha ng may hawak ng sulo
nalulunod ng galaw ng di natatapos na gulo

At siya ay tumawag sa kung saan
Walang nakinig at nagpatuloy sa daan
Daan ng mga peligro
Daan ng mga diablo
Kung saan paulit ulit na naloko
Nadurog at Naisukang Isipin at Puso

Nagsalisalisi ang mga landasin
Tuluyan nang naligaw sa tatahakin
Umikot at umikot hanggang bumalik sa simula 
Ikaw ang tinig na lumuluha...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tomb of the Spirit Dragon:Buying Time"

"Tomb of the Spirit Dragon:Buying Time"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

As a Magic player there comes a time when you grasp certain themes and run away with it like , Hey I would love to build an all artifact deck and then throw in a lot of affinity creatures or Hey , there are tons of morph cards and maybe I could build around Morph and have tons of colorless creatures and be sneaky overall.So you establish these decks and then as the new sets come in you begin to notice that there will be cards that fit the things that you already have.Like Tomb of the Spirit Dragon for example. A card that someone looked at , scratched their head and asked what the heck this land is for?

It is a non-basic land that produces colorless mana and has the activated ability of gaining 1 life for each colorless creature that you control , for a measly activation cost of 2 colorless mana. Morph is the returning mechanic of this block and its abundance even in the common slots would allow you have tons of life indeed.Tomb of the Spirit Dragon is not only perfect for a morph deck it is also perfect for Heavy artifacts deck or colorless token decks. A lot of life gain there as well.

In standard why do you need the extra life for? Well , if you plan on playing clan wedges then things would be a bit slow and once you face aggressive creatures especially in the early stages of the game the life gain would come in handy to negate all the life loss. Tomb of the Spirit Dragon buys you time so that you could turn your Thousand Winds face up or that you could get your combos into place. So as you can see Tomb of the Spirit Dragon is a perfect fit for the slow pace of the new environment. Never underestimate the annoying recuperative powers of gaining life. 

"Briber's Purse: A Gem For Betrayal"

"Briber's Purse: A Gem For Betrayal"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Everyone has a price or so I have heard. There are many instances in history where one particular army is betrayed for gold or land. The massacre that ensues because of a supposed ally's inaction echoes through time. Thank Braveheart and all those Lords who were paid off so that they would not join the battle , think of Roose Bolton who were paid off by the Lannisters to send their regards. Yup , all it takes is the right price and betrayal will do the rest.

In the game of Magic there is a new X costing Artifact that gives creatures offers that they cannot refuse. This is the Briber's Purse , you decide the amount of mana that you want to pay for its X cost and that is the number of gem counters that it comes into play with.Another one of those things that would make Vorel and my Hydra Simic deck happy.

I liken the Briber's Purse to the  Scars of Mirrodin card Tumbling Magnet.Unlike the Tumbling Magnet though you could use it more than 3 times(if you have the mana) and it also has a one colorless mana activation cost. It also does not tap a creature but neutralizes the threat before it could do harm.No attackers. No blockers. Neutralized.

The Briber's Purse stops one creature at a time by giving it a gem and stopping it from attacking or blocking.It causes a target creature to turn a blind eye as you attack. It stops creatures from attacking hence you no longer need to worry about that particular creature.I like that you could bribe your opponents creatures while you go in for the kill. Imagine an 8/8 creature in your way and you bribe it with a gem so that it steps aside and lets your army pass through. Or when the same 8/8 creature stops in its tracks before it even attacks. And since this is a colorless artifact I could see a lot of uses for this new Tumbling Magnet. You could even cast it for zero and then have an Ensoul artifact attach to it so that it becomes a 5/5 creature Or Once all the Gem counters have been used up you could use it with a Shrapnel Blast.

Sometimes it is not enough that you have a great army at your disposal.It also helps if someone opens the Castle Gates and lets that army in. With the Bribers Purse , you have the gems to make that happen. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Sultai Ascendancy: From the Ground Up"

"Sultai Ascendancy: From the Ground Up"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

I had a long look at all the clans Ascendancy cards and 2 of these enchantments allow you to draw cards or gives attacking clans stat bonuses or more creatures to attack with. The Sultai are given a little something different. They are basically given a sort of Sensei's Divining Top in Standard.Not a perfect divining top but something that all the other guilds do not have. Predicting the future.

The 3 mana cost enchantment that has all three of Sultai's colors allows you as a player to look at top 2 two cards of your library during your upkeep. At this point you will choose if the cards that you looked at is worth returning on top of your library in any order or should you choose to dump those unusable cards in the graveyard to power out a card with Delve?

So if you choose to put 2 cards back on top of your library you would be able to draw the top card during your draw step. I see this as a great advantage because you are able to filter out cards that you might be able to use now instead of cards that would just be stuck in your hand for the next couple of turns. And if it turns out that you have no need of the cards you have just seen , you are free to throw them in the graveyard and draw an unknown card. When you look at it  , just at the beginning of your upkeep you have already seen 2 cards into the future. Which Ascendancy gives you a chance of glimpsing your next draws? Which one allows you to set up those draws? This is the only one.

Given the mana colors that are required to casting this card the earliest possible time that you could cast it is on turn three or worse. There would be times that this will just be hanging around your hand and waiting for the time that you could cast it but when you do it does give you an advantage over your foes and that I think is what Sultai does all along.Creating situations where all the gains are theirs and all the losses from their foes.

"Zurgo Helmsmasher:A Lesson In Brutality"

"zhurgo Helmsmasher:A Lesson In Brutality"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr
Zurgo Helmsmasher is a card that was made for maximum aggression. I mean just one glance at him and you know that he is all business. He is a 7/2 Orc that attacks once he hits the battlefield. For opponents with critical life points he could very end their existence the first time he ever gets to meet them.

Making his debut in the Speed vs. Cunning deck , where I ignored him for awhile until he did some heavy duty damage for me in the last Khans of Tarkir PR weekend. The Mardu chief is a 5 to cast behemoth that knocks down opponents in a couple of turns. 

Zurgo Helmsmasher has a lot of things going for him so here are his strengths and weaknesses:

1)Haste - Smashing face as soon as possible.Sometimes you just need to cast him once for a win.

2)Indestructibility as long as it is your turn - So yeah , opponents may have spot removal in their hands but they would need to wait their turn to kill this hulking Orc. The handy thing about this is that you could also cast a mass removal spell(white is one of his colors by the way...End Hostilities) during your turn and he survives while everyone else...well , kisses the grave.

3)Whenever a creature dealt damage by Zurgo Helmsmasher dies this turn , he gets a +1/+1 counter on him.  - So opponents are forced to block a 7/2 behemoth and naturally the blocking creature dies(unless they are also indestructible or bigger). Simply put Zurgo Helmsmasher is an 8/3 the next time he attacks.

1) He has to attack each turn - Not much of weakness because you do want him to attack each turn to pressure your opponents and besides he doesn't die to normal damage during your turn. Unless it is infect which does not exist in standard.And yeah he gets bigger after killing something so believe me attacking is the only direction for this guy.

2) Lack of trample... - So he doesn't trample , that is the reason why you have spot removal or mass removal before he attacks anyway.

3)You have to commit to Mardu colors to play him. Well if you like him so much then it won't be much of a sacrifice. Mardu is the fastest and least static of all the Clans in Tarkir. Zurgo Helmsmasher is the embodiment of that speed. 

4) The annoying fact that he dies to a shock or a Debilitating Injury.He seems so unstoppable and then he dies from a simple shock on your opponents turn! Well Wizards of the Coast had to give him some weakness.

With all this being said Zurgo Helmsmasher stands as the brute of choice if you are playing Mardu colors and opponents who do not form a healthy respect for him usually get a lesson in brutality that they don't normally forget. I may have found another EDH commander but since these are normally not my colors I may have to do a bit of reading up first. Still very excited to be playing in this Khans of Tarkir environment. 

"Khans of Tarkir PR weekend: Ach Zurgo!"

"Khans of Tarkir PR weekend: Ach Zurgo!"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

When the spoilers for Speed and Cunning duel deck was first revealed I took a long hard look at Zurgo Helmsmasher and saw a killer. Since I was so enamored with playing Sultai colors I decided not to write anything about Zurgo since I may not be able to play him at all.

Fast forward into my scheduled(Like for most Married Planeswalkers , Scheduling is key to not incur the Wrath of Wife) Khans of Tarkir PR game in Spiral Valenzuela where I was opening packs and getting gems like Meandering Towershell and Kheru Lichlord.Two creatures who had the worst interaction ever. If you reanimate Meandering Towershell via Kheru Lichlords ability you just wasted 3 mana and lost a creature! Yeah and I had a Sultai seeded pack too! None of the packs I was opening were leading me to a Sultai direction.

Then I finally opened the Ashcloud Phoenix and this guy.Zurgo Helmsmasher , he was a sight for sore eyes. Finally a bomb I can work around! And so I was going to play with Ruthlessness in a deck that was built for speed.I was Sultai by heart but Mardu by deck. Well, sometimes you lead the cards but in the limited format pre release you better damn listen where the cards lead you. 

Zurgo Helmsmasher though a difficult cast without the right colored mana combination would come out in all 4 of my matches that night.He would always play a pivotal part in both of my wins. And the only time he didn't come out in the 3rd game for me spelled my doom. Add to the fact that my last 2 opponents were killers! Dandy Sy outlasted me with his own Morph battalion and Enoja Frigillana , He killed me with a well timed Ankle Shanker just when Zurgo Helmsmasher came menacingly on the battlefield during my turn.Ouch!

To be fair to Jorell and Marvin , both were suffering from mana woes(Mana drought and Missing Plains respectively) at the beginning of our matches and all will go up to 3 enjoyable matches where there was no clear victor until the very end. Mana woes or not though Zurgo was such a constant draw from my deck that I was able to power these back to back wins.Normally when he showed up it was scoop up time. And the phrase"Pare na-Zhurgo ako!" was heard around the venue. So much so that when someone said Zhurgo there was a palpable , "Ach Zurgo" feeling in the room. That and the ever distracting Hentai moaning(ahhhh , ahhhh , ahhhhh)from one of the players which maybe distracting for some but may also provide some blood boiling inspiration for others. I didn't bother to ask which players had those effects. 

Though I was not able to repeat my success in the M15 PR I was still pretty happy to go the distance in 3 rounds after falling to just 2 games in the last round.Turns out that everyone was a winner because even those who got just 2 packs like me went home with a Fetchland.A Flooded Strand to boot! I am thankful for Zurgo Helmsmasher and I do owe him a proper post hahahaha.Well time to brew for Standard. There are serious decisions to be made for the battles ahead.     

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"The Need For Removal:A List of Khans of Tarkir Removal Spells"

"The Need For Removal:A List of Khans of Tarkir Removal Spells"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Spot Removal has always been a crucial piece in winning games. A single removal spell can be the difference between surviving and having an 8/8 creature trampling all over you.

As a sort of follow-up to "Khans of Tarkir PR: Exploiting Each Clan Mechanic Weakness" I am writing this handy spot removal list. One of my readers Andy Baker mentioned that removal is key and knowing what is available in this limited set should give you the edge over your opponents. I have sorted this out by color and found some important differences in how each color takes care of pesky creatures.

Removal means any spell or ability that removes a threat from the battlefield.So I will not be listing Despise because of its discard effect.I will not be touching on Deathtouch for creatures as well. Same goes for Naturalize and Shatter that is reprinted in this set.These are the spells that you should be on the look out for when you crack open your packs. Good Defense or so the saying goes.So here it we go:

Black: Traditionally has the best spot removal available for every set. We just have to see for Khans of Tarkir.

Means of removal:
(1)Forces player to Sacrifice creatures(Dead Drop)
(2)Aura giving -2/-2 on creature(Debilitating Injury)
(3)Destroys Target Creature(Murderous Cut,Rite of the Serpent)
(4) Spells that give -4/-4 to creatures(Throttle)
Total Number of removal spells:5

Blue:No longer content with just denying spells. Blue now has monsters and aggressive creatures as well as a handful of nasty unconventional removal spells.

Means of removal:
(1)Tapping creatures , they don't untap on their controllers next untap step  (Crippling Chill,Quiet Contemplation,Singing Bell Strike)
(2)Bounce to owners hand (Force Away,Water Whirl)
(3)Tapping creatures(Icy Blast) 
(4)Putting Non-land permanents on top of owners library(Set adrift)
(5)Returning tapped creatures to their owners hands(Thousand Winds)
Total Number of removal spells:8

Green: Green traditionally has the biggest creatures in any given set and in this set the color seems more occupied with putting counters and making things big. So it makes sense that green doesn't need spot removal as much. It has big creatures that could clobber attackers.

Means of removal:
(1)Fighting(Savage Punch)
(2)X Damage to flying creatures(Windstorm)

Total Number of removal spells:2

Red:Red has always done double duty because it has cards that could kill creatures as well as damage players as well. There are a few in this set as well.

Means of removal:
(1)Gain Control of opposing creatures(Act of Treason)
(2)Direct Damage(Arc Lightning,Arrow Storm,Barrage of Boulders,Bring Low,Burnaway,Crater's Claws,Sarkhan,The Dragonspeaker)

Total Number of removal spells:8

White: White doesn't seem to be packing a lot of tapping power like it did in previous sets but in a limited environment where the best mass removal spell is End Hostilities expect this color to shine in the creature killing department

Means of removal:
(1)Tapping Creatures(Dazzling ramparts)
(2)Mass Removal(End Hostilities)
(3)Destroying target attacker(Kill Shot)
(4)Destroying creature with power 4 or greater(Smite the Monstrous)
(5)Exiling a creature with 3 or greater toughness(Suspension Field)

Total Number of removal spells:5

Multicolored Spells: Since we are now about to play with Wedges we would be finding ourselves playing a lot of multicolored spells and here are the awesome line up of removal spells that should be available in our arsenal.

Means of removal:

(1)Exiling Creature with 3 toughness or greater (Abzhan Charm)
(2)Tapping a Blocking or Attacking Creature (Bribers Purse)
(3)Forcing Each Opponent to Sacrifice a creature with greatest power he or she controls(Crackling Doom)
(4)Giving -2/-2 to all creatures(Death Frenzy)
(5)Destroying all other creature , Player chooses on creature that survives(Duneblast)
(6)Direct damage to creature when it attacks(Heartpiercer) 
(7)Returning another target creature to owners hand when turned face up(Icefeather Aven) 
(8)Putting target creature on top of owners library(Jeskai Charm)
(9)4 direct damage to target creature(Mardu charm)
(10)Draw a card. Deals damage to creature in play equal to number of cards in your hand(Master the way)
(11)Destroying target blocking creature(Ride down)
(12)Forcing opponents to sacrifice creatures(Sorin,Solemn Visitor Emblem)
(13)Destroying Mono-Colored Creature(Sultai charm)
(14)Fighting(Temur charm) 
(15)Exiling target non-land permanent(Utter End) 
(16)Tapping or Dealing 2 damage to creature(Winter Flame)

Total Number of removal spells:16

So there we have it. The multicolored spells are the most abundant source of removal while in contrast green only has 2 removal spells at its disposal. By now you have already chosen your clans and know what banners to raise. Make sure that you know what your opponents will be raising as well so that you could prepare the proper removal of choice.

As an added bonus this is a graveyard hate Anti Sultai removal area:
Cranial Archive(target player shuffle graveyard to lib,Burnaway(Exiles all cards in graveyard)

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Simic Death Harvest"

"Simic Death Harvest"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

With the help of the masters device it was much easier to locate this particular Shard of Alara. When the great unification began as some of his colleagues have called it , one could easily deduce that not all of the particular splinters of the plane would be included , there would be areas where mana was bereft and there would be pockets where rich mana deposits lay in wait for harvesting.

He called this area Grixis 2.3.8 , a splinter of that particular shard that has drifted away beyond the reach of the main Plane. He had scanned that there were only a few minor creatures on it and none of those demonic monsters that were rampaging on the unified plane.He smiled at the thought. His plans would go unimpeded and he Volar Zan would be the first Simic Biomancer who would go down in history as a benefactor of the planes. 

Volar Zan had altered himself over the years and instead of claws he had developed several tentacles with appendages. He would not need the help of anyone but the master. He opened a black metallic case  , waved an amulet that was held firmly by one of his appendages.The amulet glowed , green and blue mana had seeped out and he had channeled the Blue mana that it produces to the contents of the case. He kept the green mana as an orb that followed him. At first there was no sound but then 4 cubes activated by the blue mana began to fold out of itself , appendages and a torso coming out of the central mass. This continued until 4 metallic replicas of Volar Zan stood facing each other. He hated other people to do his job for him and he could not rely on other people to be discreet about his projects and other dealings. So he prefered these similacrums over any other beings. He rather liked his own company. He needed these other to guard him as he did his great experiment.Without a word the 4 scattered into pre patterened areas , a well spaced box that would hold Volar Zan in the middle.

Volar smiled in the slimey way that Simic Biomancers did.He was busily assembling his Extraction device.Connecting the various tubes and parts of the machines as he walked. He knew that the Primespeaker would not approve of any of this yet he believed that this was the next evolutionary step for the simic. The vast knowledge that the Master would be able to give would give him the key to ever greater scientific breakthroughs but first he had to do this.He had stopped at a blood red pond , its banks crusted with black ash , in the middle was a small desolate island that had a blue tinged to it.After placing his assembled device , he turned to the green mana orb that had followed him and channeled it to the Extractor machine. 

There was a low hum and a sudden flash of green light that flashed once into the pond.The water rippled and began to pulsate violently and the unmistakable stench of death permeated the air. Volar inhaled deep and laughed so hard.He knew that his experiment was working. Death was the mark. Dead fish and other microbes floated to the unmoving liquid surface. All around him Orbs of Mana lifted from the now dead ground.Black. Red. Blue. Mana of the old Grixis shard was now coalescing into orbs and following the Green Mana of the Extractor Device. The master will be pleased with the results.He would be sure to get the approval to make this Extractor once he had presented his results. 

Volar smiled despite himself.In the distance his 4 other copies looked at him and mirrored the same smile. 

"Khans of Tarkir PR: Exploiting Each Clan Mechanic Weakness"

"Khans of Tarkir PR: Exploiting Each Clan Mechanic Weakness"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

While you are out and about in the Khans of Tarkir Pre Release there are a couple of things that you might want to read about , mainly the weakness of each mechanic that belongs to the particular clans.

And since I love the Sultai and have been discussing cards from this particular clan the most I would like to start off with their mechanic.

The Sultai and Delve
- Delve relies on the amount of cards in a players graveyard and though it could produce wonderful effects or summon powerful creatures for very cheap prices the inherent weakness is that the Sultai could run out of things to exile from the grave. This mechanic and the decks that run it are particularly vulnerable to a grave emptying strategy which in the PR seems none existent(except for Burnaway and Cranial Archive). I mean casting creatures without any mana for cards that are already useless or used up since they are already in the graveyard. The best time to counter a Sultai spell is when a player has already committed or exiled a lot of cards. The cards do not come back and the spell is countered. Or if a Delve creature lands on the battlefield , you could just remove it from the game outright. So use those removals sparingly in the early games.

The Abzan and Outlast
- Yes Outlast makes a creature tougher, certain cards give bonuses or First strike , trample or Deathtouch. When facing outlast creatures though you need to realize that this is a wedge that has no blue creatures , no hexproof ones as well. Outlast also seems to slow down creatures at least one turn before they attack because Outlast can only be used as a sorcery add to the fact that this mechanic also needs a mana commitment. Use speed here because once the Abzan stand up(untap) and you have done nothing in that turn that they have slowed down , they are going to be way harder to kill.

Mardu and Raid
- Mardu is a clan of aggression and it makes sense that Raid is their mechanic. Players are going to be pushed to attack because this is how they will maximize Raid.The key is to kill the aggressor and deal with whatever they try to put on the battlefield. You will not always be able to deal with both of those threats but the greatest weakness here lies in the fact that when the board is stabilized and Mardu creatures cannot attack , you would be able to frustrate your opponents enough to take advantage of their indecisiveness. A strong defender is needed against Mardu and a handy creature removal for Ankle Shanker and Zurgo Helmsmasher.

Temur and Ferocious
- Temur is a more dangerous lot than Mardu and Abzan , simply because they have both the defensive capabilities of Blue and the power of Denial from blue. However they have one weakness, they have to always have a creature with a power 4 or greater in the battlefield. Take that creature away all the time and the power of their spells are halved. So the trick to beat them is when they over commit mana on a large creature. When opponents have Surrak Dragonclaw every creature becomes uncounterable.However they are not hexproof and all you need to do is to destroy or exile any creature with power 4 and up. Sucks to be that creature on the side of Temur. I mean you just got summoned and here is a spot removal heading toward your face.

The Jeskai and Prowess
- These high flying monks have one thing no other clan has. Prowess in battle. You need to cast a non-creature spell to make a particular Monk or Wizard powerful in the form of +1/+1 counters until the end of turn. They basically thrive on magic. So even when they counter your spells they are automatically being pumped up. So the trick to win against them is to not stop the spells as they are being cast. The trick is stop the creature before it attacks.One is easy enough to deal with , but two or three would easily escalate to a an aggression that you might not survive. So take care of the Prowess creatures early or spot remove them while they attack you.

Of course these are just my opinions in dealing with the mechanics of each clan.Timing and other tactics would also come into play. Luck is also a player here.What I say does not guarantee victory because I am also going to battle test them this Saturday as well but I think that psychologically this should up your chances quite a bit in the PR especially if you encounter a particularly tricky situation. Until then keep on brewing.Keep on playing.

"Avens First Song"

"Avens First Song"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Probably one of the highlights of my life would be when my Daughter Aven handed me this piece of paper one day which contained the following:

Forever A Stone ------ First Song Ever!
Lyrics by: Aven De leon

Is Forever a  Stone
will never get a  chance to touch you
will never get a chance to move!

Is Forever a Stone
will be a stone forever
is forever a stone!

Everyday I watch you pass by me
never noticing me

Is Forever a Stone! 
I live alone!
Will forever be a Stone!!!
Will never move.

Inspired by an Animal Jam Picture... 
Forever a Stone Composed by an 8 year old kid!

Special Credits:
Mommy Who teaches me to sing
Daddy who takes care of me
Mommy-la who gives me great advise

She then proceeded to sing me the song and I wish I could have recorded it.She told me that she was inspired by one of the pictures in her favorite game, Animal Jam.It made a very tired man very happy. And a Daddy very proud. I am sure that there would be more songs , more poems and more stories but this one is special and will always be close to my heart.

"Heroes' Podium:Making Legends Real"

"Heroes' Podium:Making Legends Real"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

The first time I laid eyes on this particular artifact it was practically screaming EDH. Yup this 5 colorless mana costing artifact was made for EDH glory.

I mean simply glancing at it one can see that it is a  Coat of Arms for Legendary Creatures.A +1/+1 for each other Legendary creature you control.Yup. I mean Let us face it if you try to  play this in standard you would end up with a deck that may have legends but would require a whole lot of of colored mana than you could possibly provide and just for the heck of it you might want to try it. It is going to be a crazy fun deck that might lose a lot but fun to pull off. Chromatic Lantern might be a key in these proceedings. Let me also remind you that any deck with Legends in it does not promise to be a cheap one. 

For today though I would love to focus on the EDH possibilities of this card. It might be a very expensive EDH deck because a lot of the creatures in it would be mostly legendary cards. Unless you have tons of them lying and are just looking for a home.

Now which color should you choose your legends from? Since there are no shortage of cool Legendary creatures you might as well settle on two colors that you are familiar with. I am really into Blue Green lately for some reason so I am going to go with that here. Yeah Simic legends!

First off this deck would really need a lot of legends that could provide crazy amounts of mana and fast!. (Azusa just screams at me from nowhere. Pick me! pick me! Vorinclex grumbles that he could do a great job too).Massive Card draws are also in because of Jin-Gitaxias. 

Another thing that I would love here is token producers and the infamous Proteus staff and Mass Polymorph. Yup this is shaping up to be one heck of a Blue/Green deck.Packed to the gills with Blue and Green legends that will tip the tides in your favor.

Imagine playing a Master of waves and getting let us say 6 tokens. You could just leave those tokens be or your could cast Mass Polymorph and get at least 6 of those legends on your side of the battlefield. Giving each of your legends a +1/+1!

Just in case you are not able to find a mass polymorph you could always resort to the cards X ability. At the end of turn you could pay X , look at the top X cards of your library where X is the amount of mana you paid. You could then choose a Legendary creature card and put it into your hand. The rest goes into the bottom of your library in any order making these other cards available once your activate a Proteus staff or a Mass Polymorph.

Well , it has been a long time coming. Time to get to work on this brew.

"Hooded Hydra:Bursting with Snaky Goodness"

"Hooded Hydra:Bursting with Snaky Goodness"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

The moment I saw this card it made me want to do the entrance of the Purple Cobras from the movie Dodgeball. You know the one that goes...Tug,tug, Hiss, Tug,tug, Hiss with matching Cobra gestures every time you say hiss but enough about this sort of silliness although by the time I have finished this paragraph I may have done that cobra gesture about a dozen times...Ehem...

There is a part of me that has grown to love the Simic Combine in the last couple of months and my Inner Vorel of the Hull clade was ecstatic when it saw this creature. The Hooded Hydra is something that could be abused , plus it fits right in to my Vorel EDH deck which already features other Hydras. Some people may look at this creature , determine that the mana commitment is not worth it and just brand it as a crap rare. Hey , if people would not buy the card and it lowers the price then go ahead and label it a crap rare. More Hooded Hydra for me.

Now playing with this particular Hydra is a bit tricky because you are faced with several decisions.One  you could cast it early with a mana cost of 2 green mana and X colorless mana , the amount of which determines the number of +1/+1 counters on it. Yes just like the other Hydras you need to have enormous amounts of mana to be able to abuse it by piling on those +1/+1 counters. If you have looked at the card those +1/+1 counters matter.

Another choice that you have and a choice that screams at you right off the bat is to cast it as a  morph creature for 3 mana. EDH Opponents who are not aware of your updates or who have played your EDH deck for the first time might just leave this seemingly harmless morph card alone. Or at least for the time being. You on the other hand need to wait for mana sources to reach the magic number of 5 because that is the exact number of mana required for Hooded Hydra to reveal itself. At which case Hooded Hydra is turned face-up and five +1/+1 counters are put on it. Now as I said those counters are important because the number of those counters determine the number of 1/1 Green snake creatures that you would be putting on the battlefield when the Hooded Hydra dies. Vorel is laughing with glee somewhere because he could easily double those counters any time he wants...

"You would be pretty happy to add this guy too..."
Now there are a couple of scenarios for you to turn the Hooded Hydra face up.

1) When your opponents has at least 2 blockers. For example a 2/2 and a 5/5 creature. You declare your attack with the Hooded Hydra. If your opponent chooses to block with his 2/2 creature thinking that he or she could kill your 2/2 morph creature you could then turn your Hooded Hydra face up and you get to kill a 2/2 creature because it is now a 5/5 monster! 

on the other hand if your opponent plays it safe by blocking with the 5/5 to just kill your 2/2 morph creature, you could turn it face up and the 5/5's cancel each other out. You on the other hand gain the upper hand. You were able to take out their 5/5 creature and they get nothing for it. Your creature dies and now you have 5 1/1 attackers! Yeah even in death the Hooded Hydra still serves up the battle tricks.

2) The other scenario to unmorph Hooded Hydra would be in the face of impending mass removal. You cannot freaking do anything against a Supreme Verdict but when you turn the Hooded Hydra face up during this time you at least will be rewarded with 5 1/1 snakes while your opponents have lost all of their creatures. 

3) The other time I want to use Hooded Hydra is when I could double the counters on it with Vorel. I could do it while it is attacking for an instant pump. I mean a 10/10 creature that bursts into little snakes when it dies would give your opponents enough pause before they do something about it. Should they risk killing it? They dont kill it , I make it a 20/20 next turn and then 40/40 after that. By that time things might be too late...

Tug,tug, Hiss...Tug,tug,Hiss...Tug,Tug Hiss....that's the sound I would make after beating someone with a crap rare...

"Kheru Lichlord:Arise...Randomly"

"Kheru Lichlord:Arise...Randomly"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

From many angles Kheru Lichlord looks like it would suck. I mean 6 mana for a chance to get something back every upkeep from your graveyard for the amount of 3 mana...Randomly. I mean as a nercomancer you are actually trying to target a particular creature or particular spell for your advantage. Kheru Lichlord seems like a bit drunk while casting reanimation spells so you might end up with something great or something really mediocre. It really depends on what you have put in your graveyard.

Though the 3 mana cost to reanimate every upkeep is actually cheap. We just need to deal with the Random part. I mean you don't want to choose a sucky creature to reanimate. Yes it would gain Haste , Trample and Flying but that would be it , you would need to exile it at the beginning of your end step. And to prevent any more Necromantic shenanigans if that reanimated card would leave the battlefield , like let us say Sacrificed to an artifact or bounced back to your hand , that card is exiled instead. So any great targets from the grave can only be used once. So It has to be a very awesome game changing card otherwise the effort and mana to cast it is wasted.

So how do we deal with that annoying Random part getting in the way of you reanimating a potential game winner? You Delve. The Sultai mechanic works well around all these rare and mythical creatures. All you need to do is to leave your best reanimation targets in the graveyard while using an Empty the pits or even spot remove an opponents best creature with a Murderous Cut with Delve. Not only do you demoralize an opponent at the beginning of the end of their turns , you have also set up your best creatures for reanimation during your upkeep.Talk about being unfair. The Sultai Brood don't look like they are big on fairness. 

Aside from Delve , another solution is to return creatures from your graveyard back to your hand. Grave digger and Soul of Innistrad are really good at this particular action. Don't worry if your hand gets filled up with creature cards , you could always discard them so that Kheru Lichlord could reanimate them on your next upkeep.

Pharika,God of Affliction is a great fit for any deck that features the Kheru Lichlord since she could clean out non-desirable reanimation targets and also churn out a a 1/1 B/G Enchantment Creature snake with Deathtouch in the process. Not bad all in all because you still get something in return for your trouble. 

My theory with the Kheru Lichlord not being able to cast spells on specific targets?He just has terrible aim...but despite his aim Kheru Lichlord may still prove his worth soon.He better. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Kheru Spellsnatcher:Surprise!"

"Kheru Spellsnatcher:Surprise!"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Kheru Spellsnatcher is the new Draining Whelk! This will be one of those cards that players with big creatures or big effects would hate playing against. Imagine an opponent playing a Tooth and Nail with Entwine in an EDh game where they are about to win the game with their Infinite Combo.All of a sudden for a Morph cost of 6 mana(the same cost as the Draining Whelk) , not only do you counter that spell , that spell does not go to your opponents graveyard and gets exiled instead and to rub in a little salt on your opponents wound , you also get to cast that spell without paying its mana cost for as long as it is exiled. You get that card for free! You name it! Any card type!(insert Maniacal laughter here)

Kheru Spellsnatcher is a threat that will affect a lot of decision making in the next coming months. Since it is a morph creature , opponents would learn to be wary of any face down creature on your side of the table since it might mean instant doom if they do not play their cards right. It will instantly mess up an opponents view of the battlefield.Should I remove this 2/2 creature? It could be a big creature or it could turn out to be nothing, Is this a Kheru Spellsnatcher or something totally different? There is a 50/50 chance that it might be especially if they have fought with your deck before. Either way your opponent would need to choose. Would they risk you taking control of their best spell or would they most likely spend a removal card from their to prevent that?

Kheru Spellsnatcher is no push over either because it has a 3/3 body. It could defend and attack depending on your needs. You could bounce it back to your hand and morph it again so that you have that defensive edge , that threat for the end game. Yup, this Naga is just the thing that any Blue Mage would need and right on time too. The Sultai really know how to get wealthy from other peoples misery.

"Clever Impersonator:Making It My Own"

"Clever Impersonator:Making It My Own"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Have you ever played a game where you said to yourself that if you only had the same card that your opponent then maybe you could have won? You check online and realize that what your opponent had was some really expensive card that was way out of your current budget for cards. Cards like Jace , The Mindsculptor or Emrakul, The Aeons Torn. Cards that are not just out of reach budget wise but availability wise. Frustrating right?

When you think about it creatures can be copied by Clone or Phantasmal Image. Artifacts and Creatures copied by Phrexian Metamorph. Lands can be copied by Vesuva.As far as I can recall this is the first time that a Clone effect could copy a planeswalker which makes it the first of its kind.

 Clever Impersonator may end all the envy that you might be harboring against your opponents cards. I mean for the 4 mana price of a Clone you could copy any Non-land permanent on the battlefield. This includes  creatures , artifacts , enchantments and even Planeswalkers.And because of the new legendary rule , you can have the same non-land permanent as your opponent without it blowing up. I am not sure how much Clever Impersonator will cost when it comes out but I am looking forwarding to copying the best non-land permanent on the battlefield and making it my own.

"The Black Butterfly"

"The Black Butterfly"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD

I work as a Company Physician for one of the major Call Centers in Eastwood, Libis. As I was hurrying to catch an elevator going to my floor I saw something odd. It was something fluttering in the lobby. It was a single black butterfly that seemed to have lost its way. The old folks told me that a black butterfly meant a death in the family so I was staying clear of this thing.

There was nothing to do though but walk straight toward and hope that it would stay still and not land on me because I was already creeped out buy something that should not be existing in a  concrete building.Normally there would be a lot of people milling around this area but tonight I was all alone. The butterfly was flying left and right , in the same time it was moving toward me in that zigzagging motion. I was facing it and it flew toward my left and before I knew it was about to hit me.

Then something strange happened. The butterfly disappeared.

I checked my bag , my jacket , even the bottom of my shoe but it was gone. I came to a horrible conclusion that it might have gotten in my shirt but I felt nothing. I kept on looking for it and saw that a CCTV camera was directly above me.I am sure they know where the butterfly went. I sure looked liked an idiot who was chasing his own shadow in that lobby. I immediately texted my wife and mom who were sick and asked them if they were ok.Thank Heavens they were. I never found where that butterfly went. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Gruul Heroics:Pit Fighters"

"Smashing for fun"
"Gruul Heroics:Pit Fighters"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

With Khans of Tarkir only a couple of days away and the Return to Ravnica block rotating out very soon I just couldn't help but make another deck that is a sort of Last hurrah. Most of the cards in this decks are in the Theros block but I just felt that Gruul Guildgate , Pitfight and Mutant's prey just need one more shot before it all goes out of standard Pauper.

Here is my deck list for a Gruul Heroic deck:

4 X Gruul Guildgate
8 X Forest
8 X Mountain
22 Lands

4 X Akroan Crusader
4 X Satyr Hoplite
4 X Setessan Oath Sworn
4 X Sedge Scorpion
4 X Nyxborn Rollicker
2 X Staunch hearted warrior
24 creatures

4 X Pit Fight
2 X Mutant's Prey
4 X Madcap Skills
4 X Lightning Strike
14 spells

Akroan Crusader, Satyr Hoplite , Setessan Oath Sworn and Staunch hearted warrior are the Heroic creatures here, all of them get bigger with each spell that you target them with. With the exception of the Akroan Crusader who generates more creatures for you to target.

"A touch...of death"
Nyxborn Rollicker and Sedge Scorpion are neat one drops that answer two things in this deck. Nyxborn Rollicker with its very low bestow cost could easily make any of your Heroic creatures bigger while at the same time allow you to keep another creature should your heroic creature die. Sedge Scorpion on the other hand is an early deterrent for aggressive decks.It is usually good in deterring big creatures from attacking as well. I mean a 1/1 for a 4/4 doesn't seem like a fair deal right? So if creatures don't want to attack you and you can't attack as well what do you do? You cast Pit Fight and Mutant's Prey on a Sedge Scorpion to eliminate the big guys. Lightning Strike does the deal as well but choose your targets wisely because there are only 4 of them here.

"Another round...around the block..."
The whole plan of the deck is to get as many creatures on the battlefield as possible. Could you imagine having a Madcap Skills on a Setessan Oath Sworn? The guys becomes an almost unstoppable 6/3 giant! I mean even a Satyr Hoplite becomes a 5/2! So much power to be had. Pitfight has been a favorite of mine since Heroic and Mutant's Prey  is another card that does the same. I mean a Pitfight lets you eliminate a creature and makes your heroic creatures bigger at the same time.

I hope that I could give this Gruul Heroic deck a spin before some of the cards rotate out. Time to start Fighting.