Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Necromantic Selection: Choosing you"

"Necromantic Selection: Choosing you"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Necromancy. The form of magic that allows you to bring things back from the grave.Black is the color of magic that has most number of spells that enable you to target creatures from your graveyard and put them directly into play. Black also has spells like Living Death and Living End that allows Necromancers to take care of existing creatures on the battlefield and have the end effect of a massive creature landing on your side of the board. This kind of removal and necromantic effect is embodied in the new spell from Commander 2014. The spell Necromantic Selection. 

For 3 black mana and 4 colorless mana Necromantic Selection gives you the power of destroying all creatures in play , choosing one, making it black and a zombie along with its other types and putting it into the battlefield under your control. You then exile this card so you would not be able to use it again for the duration of the game. I was honestly happy to see this spell in the Black Commander deck 2014 spoiler because this meant that in addition to Living Death and Living End you now have a third option in controlling the battlefield and getting back your creature army from you grave.

It is a given that Necromantic Selection is a watered down version of the two others in its class. For one it costs two more mana. Second , it destroys creatures rather than make players sacrifice them and three it only allows you to choose one creature to go back from beyond. There are certain limitations that are imposed on the card and for good reason. Destroying creatures is a great ability but due to the prominence of Indestructible creatures or creatures that are made invincible by Avacyn , this card is somewhat limited in its board sweeping, this gives opponents some  hope when facing a necromancer knowing that they have a weakness built in. And unlike Living Death and Living End you only get to choose one creature to return after the slaughter. Most of the time you would choose the biggest creature or a creature that would be best suited to your particular needs. 

So am I saying that as a necromancer that you should not play this card in your current EDH decks? Not really , the redundancy of board sweeping and zombification that this card offers is awesome. It also works quite well with another card. Grave Betrayal.They even have similar art! It basically covers up the weakness of Necromantic Selection since every creature that you do not control that dies goes on your side of the battlefield and even gets an additional +1/+1 counter! Yes these are high mana costing spells but they are both worth it for the necromantic end game that we all crave. 

"Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath:Depletions and Resiliency"

"Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath:Depletions and Resiliency"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

We first met Ob Nixilis in Zendikar where he had already lost his planeswalker spark , We met him again in M15 as a badder version of himself. This time around as Commander 2014 rolls in we get to play him as the powerful planeswalker Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath before he became just a powerful demon.

Being the Planeswalker of the awesome mono black deck , Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath provides you great support. Costing at a mere 5 mana , he affects everyone right away when he enters the battlefield. His +2 ability is to sap 1 life point from each of your opponents and you gain this life. So normally there are 4 players in a game and with this ability you get to absorb 3 life points. Seems quite insignificant but these small insults pile up into really big life losses pretty easily. I did a quick glance of the Mono Black Deck and aside from Necromancy there were themes of Extort there as well. Creatures like Cryptghast and Basilica Screecher make leeching life out of your opponents quite easily in support of this ability. The Zendikar enchantment Blood Chief Ascension is also a great addition here since with all the life loss you could easily put enough counters on it to make sure that its triggered ability would always be online. Little life losses. Great life gains for you. Sapping of vitality little by little and an opponent doesn't even see that you have pushed him or her to the brink while your life totals remain intact and even increasing each passing turn.

The -2 ability of Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath gives you more fire power in the form of a 5/5 Black Flying Demon along with the loss of 2 life.The life loss is negligible since you could easily gain it back. Now a token planeswalker producer is great , Sorin, Elspeth and Garruk are great in this department but there are times that even though we know that they are in our EDH deck we could never get to them in time. And besides the biggest tokens produced in early + or - abilities of these planeswalkers are 3/3. As far as I can remember Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath gives you the biggest token in Non-Ultimate planeswalker abilities. And unlike the other token producers he would just wait for your summons from the command zone to give you more Demon tokens if you need it. With the way the Mono Black Deck has been made mana is not an issue and you could probably easily recast Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath multiple times.

Now about his -8 ultimate ability. You gain an emblem that lets you pay 2 mana , sacrifice a creature and you have two advantages, Gain X life and Draw X cards where X is the sacrificed creatures power! Guess what kind of creature you have in excess of during this point in the game where you are able hit this ultimate ability? Most probably 5/5 Demons. 5 life and 5 cards. Sounds like a great advantage in any stage of the game. This resiliency to always have life could be very annoying in games of attrition , games where you are able to control the board. When you keep on drawing cards and have a full grip of options you can be sure that victory will not be far behind. Depleting opponents to the point where he or she is weak while you tenaciously hold on to your life advantage also defeats them mentally and gives you a confidence boost because you are so far ahead in life points. Seems to me like you like your Black Oath don't you? Well I do. 

"Nahiri , The Lithomancer:The Deadliest of them all"

"Nahiri , The Lithomancer:The Deadliest of them all"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

A quick glance at all the Equipment cards that have been printed since the time of the Original Mirrodin up to the present reveal one fact , things could get ugly really quickly for your opponent once Nahiri steps out of the command zone.

The Planeswalker Commander of the Mono White Commander deck 2014 , she is revealed to be one of the original planeswalkers that were instrumental in trapping the Eldrazi brood in Zendikar , while we know where Sorin has been in the past couple of years and Ugin , well pretty much is lying still where he is.We didn't really know much about this Kor planeswalker until now and boy is she a really powerful entity that we would want on our side. 

Having a 5 mana cost and starting with 3 loyalty counters for these Planeswalker Commanders is actually a great deal for all the support that they could give you , among all of them I must say that Nahiri would be the most dangerous. Her +2 ability as an opening salvo puts a 1/1 White Kor Soldier on the battlefield and you get to attach an equipment already in play on it for Free! Free! Elbrus , the Binding Blade , Any of the Mirrodin Swords , Batterskull , the Kaldra equipments! Argentum Armor! You all attach these equipments for free(at least one at a time).

And if this threat is not enough Nahiri , The Lithomancer has the -2 ability of putting an equipment from your hand directly into play or an equipment from your graveyard to go back on the battlefield! So if you have any of your equipments destroyed you just use the ability and you reanimate them back. Batterskull in particular comes back with a germ token and is considered a reanimated artifact! And with all the expensive mana costing equipment that you could tutor for in your deck you could just go ahead and put that on the battlefield too while leaving your mana open! The following turn you could activate Nahiri , The Lithomancers first ability and have a Kor Soldier attach the equipment you got for free , for free!

And as if this Equipment shenanigans were not enough , Nahiri , The Lithomancer also has a -10 ultimate ability that lets you have the Stoneforged Blade , an indestructible colorless artifact equipment that gives its equipped creature a +5/+5 stat boost and double strike. Oh and did I mention that its equip cost is Zero? Zip? Nada? You just equip it the moment Nahiri pulls it from some stone. Imagine Batterskull with a 4/4 Germ token getting that +5/+5 stat boost. So it is now a Vigilant , Life linking , Doublestriking 9/9 creature! 18 damage for an opponent if it goes through unopposed and an 18 point life swing in your favor. If you thought battling with the Batterskull was frustrating then , it is doubly frustrating now because it still has its bag of tricks , it could survive mass or spot removal by bouncing right back to your hand and when it lands on the battle field you could have the Stoneforged Blade attach to it again. 

And one last significant thing , the Stoneforged Blade is not a Legendary artifact which means it could be easily copied by the card Masterwork of Ingenuity which I think has the Stoneforged Blade in its illustration! Talk about not so subtle hints.I need my medication. Nahiri is bad for my asthma. 

Don't tell me that I didn't warn you. Among all the Planeswalker Commanders of 2014 Nahiri , The Lithomancer is without a doubt the most dangerous one of all. 

"MTG Team Names:What's in a name?"

"MTG Team Names:What's in a name?"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

To spice things up this Sunday(Nov 30 , 2014) up North , Team Organizer St Estrella has announced that there will be  Team Standard. Basically you need to form a team of 3. Players are assigned as A, B and C. Players assigned as A will battle battle other A players. Same with B and C. Suffice to say there will be a point system. The team and the individual players all get special prizes.

As much as I would love to join , I simply cannot be present physically at two places at the same time so in order to help teams I decided to write about naming teams.As there are only a couple of days left before the event let us get right to it. I also wrote this because you might want to form a team some day and find a little stimulation on how to go about in naming that team.

So what is in a name? 

Let me start by telling you the story of Kirk and his Kobayashi Maru test , a starfleet test that was designed to be virtually unwinnable. Kirk managed to rig the test so that with the mere mention of his name , Captain Kirk , his enemies would stand down and assist him. It was a foretelling of what his career would become. Enemies tremble at the sound of his name. Opposing captains would change their decisions based on where Kirk was or what he would do. What is in a name you say? It is how your opponents and friends would know you. It is how your own legend would grow. Regardless if you set out to be a Legend or not your team name will be part of that mythos. So choose wisely.

How to choose a name?

While ST did not set out any specifics for choosing cool names. Here are some tips.

Since magic is a strategy game there are many aspects of war that surface and are a veritable treasure trove of cool , striking names. Hence you have names like Team Arsenal.I have not heard of a Team Warmind just yet but it sounds cool to me and would be great for Teams of a more aggressive nature.Red Horde could fit teams playing RDW.Team Swiftspear fits the bill as well.Team Diadem for example might reflect your tactical prowess.

Choose a name that defines you but I would always vote against a name that is too goofy like Team Pogi or Team Tigang. Later on when your reputation grows people will fear your skills but snigger at your back.

You could choose a personality trait that is common among you. Or a common place that you are from. I think Team Aura is not taken yet if you live near SM Aura. Team Trino seems like a great bet or Team Pag-Asa if you live behind SM North. Although the latter name seems like you would go and save Philippines Eagles rather than play competitive magic but hey if this is what you really feel that your name should be then use it.

You could choose to base your name on a specific mechanic that you like in Magic as well. Team Virulence for example was based on the Infect mechanic from Scars of Mirrodin and I believe that Team Ascension was named after the Ascension card cycle from the Zendikar block.

Science could also hold the name that you are looking for. Team Helix was a cool name during Season 1 of Magic in SM North. Team Nebula , Team Aster,Team Aether are team names that have not been take yet I believe.

Myths and folklore are good sources for name too. I mean you don't even have to look far. Just get something from Theros like Team Hydra! And then whenever you win you could stand up and start saluting each other like crazy while saying "Hail Hydra , Hail Hydra!!!"

Lastly if you still haven't found anything that works for you here. You could try an amalgamation of your names or even words that you like as a team. Or even using anagrams as your team name. Like what Magic did in the card Pemmin's Aura which rearranged properly reads I am Superman.

I hope that I was able help decide on your team names. You might not be able to use it this Sunday at SM North but you might but having a name ready when you need is quite worth. And whatever you do...do not choose Team Tigang...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Modern Forays :Feeling the Presence(of Gond)"

"Modern Forays :Feeling the Presence(of Gond)"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

It was one of those times that I would be able to hang out around a store while killing some time that I came across this wonderful combo. Red from Gmasters showed me a deck to use against the newly sparked planeswalkers in the store who were battling it out like crazy. The deck was a modern pauper deck that had in its heart a combo that was worth writing about. And this has the Midnight Guard and the Presence of Gond combining with each other to produce infinite Elf tokens that could defeat any army or swarm any planeswalker. All you need to do is attach the Presence of Gond on the Midnight Guard and tap it to produce a 1/1 Elvish Warrior token , the midnight guard will sense that a creature has come into play and it untaps. Repeat until you have the desired amount to smack someone with your Elvish army.

The initial deck was a life gain/ Defender deck that would wait out other faster and meaner decks until you got hold of the 2 cards that would make the combo.Here is my tweak on the deck. Feeling the Presence.

4 x Blossoming Sands
4 x Selesnya Guildgate
4 x Evolving Wilds
8 x Forests
20 lands

4 x Midnight guard
4 x Heliods Pilgrim(Surprise Surprise!)
4 x Yoked Ox
4 x Elvish Mystic
4 x Llanowar Elves
20 Creatures

4 x Commune with the Gods
4 x Ranger's Guile
4 x Presence of Gond
4 x Fog
4 x Commune with the Nature
20 Spells

In the deck that I made there is an equal amount of lands , creatures and spells. The highest converted mana cost is 3 and there are a lot of mana acceleration here to power out the deck as early as possible in the form of Llanowar Elves ad Elvish Mystic. Yoked Ox provides early defense. Heliods pilgrim which is still a godsend for combo decks like these fetches the Presence of Gond for so that you could set it off.

"Fetching the Presence!"
So who would fetch the Midnight Guard then? Well Commune with Nature and Commune with the Gods The latter possibly able to fetch a presence of Gond too. You will be doing a lot of communing to feel the presence then.

A set fog to prevent creatures from overwhelming you and a set of Ranger's Guile so that you could protect the Midnight guard as it is turns around and around , lighting its torch on unseen shadows that would turn out to be 1/1 Elf Warriors.

Well I almost have all the pieces with me and I will running this soon, hopefully against the original version. Go ahead and feel the presence. It means your opponents are about to feel it too. 

"Sidisi, Brood Tyrant EDH: Laboratory Notes"

"Sidisi, Brood Tyrant EDH: Laboratory Notes"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

After rummaging through boxes and binders of Magic cards and finally finding my Mesmeric orb I immediately went to work on my long postponed Sidisi Zombies EDH deck. After filtering cards and finally narrowing it down to 100 I began to do some play testing and was excited with the different combos in the deck. I will not be posting the entire deck for today but I will be pointing out certain combinations that have worked for the deck and tips on using it.

Let me begin with the Sidisi + Mesmeric Orb + Basalt Monolith combo. The two artifact cards could be fetched here by Fabricate , Diabolic Tutor and Liliana Vess. Barring any artifact destruction or Bounce cards these two work like a charm and could generate as many tokens as you want. With the inclusion of a Worldspine Wurm and Darksteel Colossus I was able to mill and generate tokens to my hearts content. Since this combo could be done at the end of an opponents turn I suggest that you do so. While normally you could use this combo to end an opponent with one attack always be cautious if they are playing  Black/Red colors. Since Rakdos Charm and Stronghold Discipline could easily turn your deck against you with so many zombie tokens in play under your control. Then again you could use a Gitaxian Probe and check if they have something like these cards in their hands before pulling off your combo.

Another thing is that you could stop the combo in order to cast a spell for its Delve cost to exile non-creature cards. Dig Through time and Treasure Cruise make great use of all the cards in the graveyard here. The great thing about doing this is that when you hit a "Shuffler card" like any of the Eldrazi Brood you are only returning creature cards in your library making the combo more efficient and more deadly when activated a second time.

"Because I am a fair guy...err...Zombie..."
One of the great things that interact with all these zombies is the card Shepherd of Rot that deals 1 damage for each zombie in play to each player. Yup he includes you because he is a fair zombie. So do a little math here , if you are ahead in life points because you have been attacking your opponent early you could just use this guy to take every one out without even attacking or you could probably eliminate an annoying player who keeps on foiling your plan,and then attack anyway. It all depends on the particular situation that you are in.Remember to count your life points before you tap the Shepherd of Rot.

"Yes I am a Zombie and a Spirit...go figure that one out..."
I have also included Graveborn Muse in this deck because she tends to draw tons of cards for me in a jiffy.I once drew 4 cards in one upkeep that led me to various lands and combinations that are in the deck. Be mindful of all your zombies here because life points are important in the deck , Power at any cost I always say but its not fun when you are stonewalled and die because you keep losing life due to Graveborn Muse. 

Vengeful Pharaoh gains a nod of acceptance in this deck because he makes the Sidisi milling much better. He could destroy a creature for you and then go back up to your library so that you would be able to draw him or let him fall to the graveyard once more to create another 2/2 zombie token. He keeps coming back for more to serve you. A true leader and servant. How about a hand for this guy right?

Now I would like to talk about the Graveyard feeders. Sidisi all by herself fills it up very fast and along with Splinterfright fills it up even more. My deck features Bonehoard , Golgari Grave troll and Lhurgoyf.Things that care about all the creatures in the graveyard. Kessig Cage Breakers is another great addition because of the attacking 2/2 wolves that it would produce for each creature card in your graveyard. The cool thing is that those wolves stay with you permanently and if the Kessig Cagebreakers are still alive on the following wave of attack then they could recruit more wolves for you!  I have found that attacking with Sidisi and the Kessig cagebreakers requires that you stack Sidisis ability first since she would like add to the creatures in your graveyard when you mill. Looks like a winning combination right? You produce a 2/2 Zombie token and increase the number of attacking wolves! The draw back is when you get one of the Eldrazi brood dropping into your graveyard , causing you to shuffle everything back into your library. One such play saw my Splinterfright and Lhurgoyf dying since there were no creatures left to give them any power! So a word of caution here if you want to attack with Sidisi along with your main force.I am contemplating on just removing any of the Eldrazi in the deck because of this drawback but I did promise myself that I will not die to something like Hinder+Tunnel Vision ever again.

"Who let wolves out? Woof , Woof, Woof , Woof Woof Woof"
And what truly makes them a laboratory note moment is the presence of the Laboratory maniac, In a way this guy has represented my deck building ways and I am happy to add him here in the Sidisi Zombie EDH deck as an alternate win condition when you already have your "shuffler" cards in your hand. You see , he represents a certain kind of mad victory. Drawing cards when you have no library. The Leveler and this guy could make short but beautiful music together but then again my Leveler still seems to be lost somewhere in that endless pile I call my Card Hoard.

Well by far , I have been writing about Sidisi more and more these past weeks. Time for more experiments with this particular deck. With Sidisi producing all of these servants , only one thing is sure , the Sultai are worthy indeed. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Sidisi , Brood Tyrant EDH:Mill Me Baby, Mill Me Good"

"Sidisi , Brood Tyrant EDH:Mill Me Baby, Mill Me Good"
Virgilio F.De leon Jr.

I must admit that after reading the infinite zombie combo that is Sidisi + Mesmeric Orb + Basalt Monolith. I have been wanting to try it on for quite some time and I have not been able to because my Mesmeric Orb seems to be lost in the binders and boxes that are my card pile.

Well , there will be time to buy that but this combo has gotten me pretty excited to put it in an EDH deck with Sidisi leading the way. With Sidisi and Mesmeric orb in play , Basalt Monolith would tap to release 3 colorless mana , this mana would be used to untap the Monolith itself , triggering the Mesmeric orb because a permanent was untapped , you mill one card and (hopefully it is a creature) triggers Sidisi. Producing One 2/2 Black Zombie token. Repeat until you have a Herd of rotting undead corpses clogging up the battlefield.

Of course in EDH chances are you might not be able to pull off this particular combo so you need other cards that could trigger Sidisi and None can do this better than the Dredge Mechanic of the Golgari from the Original Ravnica Block. Creatures and Spells of the Golgari have a Dredge cost from 1 to 6. The highest one belonging to the Golgari gravetroll at Dredge 6. This allows you to return the troll from your graveyard to your hand instead of at the cost of milling 6 cards to your graveyard drawing a card. Now assuming that you milled 6 creatures with Sidisi in play , you would now have 6 2/2 Zombies! And the fun doesn't have to end there because with this Dredge milling there is a high probability you might put other Dredge cards into your graveyard. There are even cards in the golgari like the golgari thug who has a weak 1/1 frame that is just begging to die and go to the graveyard. You get a Dredge 4 in return.

Another type of card that is great with Sidisi would be cards with Flashback. One in particular fits the theme ,The Innistrad card Army of the Damned , which could be cast from the graveyard to give 13 2/2 zombies as well.

Speaking of Zombies Vengeful Pharaoh is surely something that you would want in your graveyard again and again. If an opponents creature deals damage to you or a planeswalker you control , you could destroy that attacking creature and put the Vengeful Pharaoh on top of your library and get to mill him again with Dredge or with the next two cards that I will tell you about...

What about cards that Mill on your upkeep then? Those are great with Sidisi as well. The Sultai Ascendancy and Splinter Fright basically do the same job. Mill 2 cards from your library at the beginning of your upkeep. These two even work well with each other. So you stack their two triggers on the beginning of your upkeep. You let the Sultai Ascendancy trigger resolve first so you could check the top two cards of your library , depending on what you see you could outright throw it into the graveyard if they are creatures to trigger sidisi or get them out of the way to let the Splinter fright trigger mill 2 more cards. The Splinter Fright loves a full graveyard too so he would fit right in with this Sidisi deck.

I am almost done here. I just could not help myself with all these ideas for Sidisi. I started with a combo, Let me end with another combo that could give not only infinite tokens but infinite mana as well. This combo is the Dimir Aqueduct + Tidewater Minion + Freed from the Real combo.

So the combo works with all three already in play , tap the Dimir Aqueduct to get 2 mana(1 black and 1 blue) , with the Tidewater Minion already enchanted by the Freed from the Real , tap the Minion to untap the Dimir Aqueduct. Tap the Dimir Aqueduct again to net 2 mana , use the blue mana to pay the cost of the Freed from the real and untap the Tidewater Minion , tap the Minion to untap the Dimir Aqueduct.

Now add Mesmeric Orb and Sidisi into this mix and you have infinite tokens and infinite mana as well.

So what happens when you mill yourself out? Well you need to make sure that you don't by adding creatures into your library that make you shuffle it the moment they touch it. Creatures like BlightSteel and Darksteel Colossus ,Emrakul , Kozilek and Ulamog as well WorldSpine Wurm will do the trick. I put in multiple cards like this because you never know when someone will pull out some graveyard hate and try to wipe you out.

So there, Just had to write about this Khan once again because I felt that there was so much I left out the first time. I hope that these deck ideas help you out in your own deck building. Have fun creating your zombie horde. I know I will. 

"Daretti ,Scrapyard Savant:More Trash,More Treasure"

"Daretti ,Scrapyard Savant:More Trash,More Treasure"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Goblins.Lots and lots of Goblins.I just love these little critters that pour out of warrens and generally make a nuisance of themselves in whatever plane they happen to be in. I envisioned a goblin planeswalker to be something that helped in making aggressive decks more aggressive or something that provided battle tactics for Red. I expected Squee , Goblin Nabob or Slobad , (who had a spark but gave it up) to be the first Goblin Planeswalker to be printed.

Wizards of the coast had other plans and there is something that is endearing about good old Daretti , Scrap Savant , he reminded of another thing that I loved. Metal and lots of it.I guess this guy would be most at home in Mirrodin where there are tons of scrap to go around or in the Markets of Ravnica. Fioras loss is the Multiverses gain and I am happy that he is out there.

One of the first 5 planeswalkers that are allowed to be your Commander Daretti is set to command an artifact army the likes of which we have never seen or probably seen but not utilized in such a way.

A few weeks ago someone said online that you could not win using the new planeswalker commanders and I do not question this observation because these commanders do not deal General damage however they are invaluable tools in leading you to victory and they do so consistent with the theme that they are in. Daretti does this in a very big way and at four mana does it pretty early compared to his other Planeswalker batch mates.

As a comparison 3 of these Planeswalkers Commanders create token creatures with the exception of Teferi and Daretti who are are content to do some library manipulation. For today I would just like to talk about Daretti whose heavy artifact from the grave theme excites me to no end. 

With a mana cost of 4 mana and a starting loyalty counter of 3 coming from the command zone. I would like to think of Daretti and the other planeswalker commanders as ultra support for their particular theme.Red has recently been getting a lot of cards that lets it draw for a cost like Khans of Tarkir Tormenting Voice which lets you draw two cards and requires you to throw 2 cards afterwards. This new approach to red of card drawing for a cost is represented in Daretti and his +2 ability that allows you to discard two cards from your hand and to instantly refill those you discarded with 2 more. Discard and Draw! This acts as a filter effect for your for your hand and thins your library at the same time.Hopefully this gives you a suitable artifact to put into the graveyard and worthy targets for Darettis second planeswalker ability. 

His -2 ability requires you to sacrifice an artifact so that you could return an artifact from your graveyard into play. Trash for Treasure or so they say. More recent cards from M15 like Scuttling Doom Engine would be happy to be sacrificed to deal 6 damage to a player and then get back another awesome artifact into play.In order to power out Daretti as fast as you could you could even sacrifice Prisms that no longer have any charges on them , Scars of Mirrodin artifacts Mycosynth wellspring that lets look for a basic land card when it comes into play or when it goes to the graveyard or the Phyrexian version Ichor Well Spring that lets you draw a card instead.In this case. Twice! And this is just the sacrificing part...what do you actually want to get in return for your sacrificed trash?

Something like a used Nevs disk or Perilous Vault? A Ratchet Bomb? A Steel Hellkite? Bosh, Iron Golem? A Wurm Coil Engine? It really depends on the artifacts you have put into your deck or the effects that you need at the moment. Mass removal or something that could be used as a combo piece like Goblin Charbelcher or Krark-Clan Iron Works perhaps? Maybe the last piece in the Kaldra artifacts? Or any of the swords from Mirrodin.

And before moving on to Darettis Ultimate ability you could not sacrifice an artifact to his second ability and have that artifact back into play.To put it simply when you sacrifice an artifact you need to already have a target.So when someone removes you target artifact , nothing comes back on your side and you just sacrificed an artifact for nothing. Booo! Now with that out of the way...

While it might not be necessary to win it would be cool to reach Darettis ultimate -10 ability which gives you an emblem that says Whenever an artifact is put into a graveyard into play  , you could return that artifact into play at the beginning of the next end step.

So let us say you cast Shimatsu the Blood cloaked and decide to sacrifice all of your artifact permanents to it. Not only did you add a lot of +1/+1 counters on it but you could also get the effects of those artifacts that were sacrificed(IE.Mycosynth Wellspring and Ichor Wellspinrg) and to make things worse for your opponent you actually get all of these permanents back at the beginning of the next end step(not necessarily your own end step).If they have enter the battlefield effects you would be able to get those as well. One particular combo that I like here is to keep on sacrificing things to Krark-clan Ironworks and triggering Grinding station when they come back.Depending on the number or artifacts that were sacrificed and comes back you could untap the Grinding station for each one until you run out and mill your opponent for the win. In the same manner you as long as you have mana you could sacrifice things to Bosh, Iron Golem and kill them with direct damage. I mean if you were able to continually sacrifice a Scuttling Doom Engine you could dish out 12 damage per sacrifice.If you attacked with the SDE you are looking at 18 damage! It comes back at the end of turn and if you do not want to attack on the next turn and decide to throw it at the end of your turn as well that is 30 points of damage on just one turn! Now imagine that this particular artifact comes back at the next end turn...In EDH you have 3 opponents who would have 3 separate end turns. You could keep on sacrificing and it would keep on coming back! Hopefully you still have mana for each sacrifice!

Another combo that would make a come back is the Fireball/Red Suns Zenith/Banefire + Krark-clan Iron works combo.I mean countless artifacts sacrificed and with a single red mana could spark enormous damage and if the damage is not enough all the artifacts return and you could burn that opponent for more! Daretti you have made a believer in me.

The cool thing is that getting Darettis emblem and killing him does not mean that you lose him for good. Daretti could simply come back and do more filtering and trash for treasure effects for you for as long as you could cast him. Not quite the Goblin I was hoping for but he does know what he is good at and for me that means detonating a lot of things in my opponents faces. 

"Freyalise, Llanowars Fury: An Elvish block party"

"Freyalise, Llanowars Fury: An Elvish block party"
Virgilio F.De leon Jr.

Green has always been the color of magic associated with efficient mana acceleration and the ability to cast big creatures in a hurry. The news Planeswalker Commander Freyalise embodies this mana production and natural hate for artifice and glamor rolled into one.

Freyalise is the first Green Planeswalker Commander and she just costs 5 mana! A very small amount for the likes of green. I mean a turn one land , sol ring , mind stone play allows you to play her on your turn two land drop.So let us see what she offers us when she lands on the battlefield.

Little Green Men...Everywhere....

So what do you exactly when you are able to play her? You make a lot of Green 1/1 Llanowar Elves which helps you accelerate into even more mana.And that is just her +2 ability. With a starting stat of 3 loyalty counters.While I think that mana producing elves are great,I also would like to say that they are susceptible to removal. The value of this little elves is that most commanders would rather ignore them and just focus on what it is that you are about to cast.If there are four of these guys it doesn't seem much of a threat but if they all tap a Heedless One out or help in Convoking Chord of Calling then things look a bit more troublesome.So don't ignore the little green men , an Elvish Arch druid could make them bigger and tap for more mana or worse , if they get the appropriate numbers they could use Gilt-Leaf Arch Druid and take all of your lands for more nefarious things! And to think that you could keep on casting little elves and produce these tokens and pretty soon you have all these guys ready for an attack or to power out something nastier than themselves.

Axe Grinding against Artifice and Glamor...

The planeswalker commander Freyalise has an axe to grind with enchantments and artifacts.She probably thinks that it isn't natural. She feels so strongly about it that she is willing to lose loyalty points so that she could destroy them. IF you are thinking...Wait a minute , that -2 ability sounds like Naturalize...on a planeswalker. Why would I want to use that Naturalize ability of Freyalise when I could just wait and draw any of my other creatures who have that ability? The reason is that this particular naturalize will always be readily accessible.Freyalise would just be in the command zone waiting to be cast while those other creatures are still lost in your library.EDH decks have a steady staple of Enchantments and Artifacts and some of them are outright abusive when not dealt with the moment they come in.Freyalise would always have something to target with this -2 ability, the thing is would you want her to? Especially when you want her to reach her ultimate ability.

Knowledge of the Woods...

Freyalises ultimate ability answers the question what do you do with tons of mana? And the answer would be to cast more spells.What spells would you cast? Green is not exactly as good in card drawing even if you have cards like Greater good or Life's Legacy or Harmonize. Freyalise and her ultimate ability becomes another option that plays with the other strength of green , the ability to cast many many creatures on a single turn.

Her -6 ability lets you draw a card for each green creature that you control.This ability could probably be activated on the 3rd turn that Freyalise came into play. A turn early if you have a Chain Veil already in play. And she might even survive the activation to create more green elves on your succeeding turns , destroy artifacts and enchantments and draw tons of cards for you.So in Freyalise greens card drawing need is given another option unlike Garruk she comes in from the Command Zone to do your bidding.

Llanowars Fury is beginning to look like Llanowars Elvish party in the making. I mean an elf per turn and you haven't even tapped any land or artifact for mana. Nissa Revane would be happy to join all the fun as well.

Well I guess this is all for today for Freyalise. Time for the Llanowar party to get underway. 

"Pauper Kings:Jeskai Blessed by Thunder"

"Pauper Kings : Jeskai Blessed by Thunder" 
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

Welcome to another Standard Pauper brew. Today I wanted to build on the Jeskai mechanic of prowess. While there have been a lot of powerful and fast Prowess cards in Rare and Uncommon. The Common slot has been given quite a few slow choices. So to shore up the attacking nature of this deck I have added some early attackers in the mix so that we could start with the damage early until the Jeskai part of the deck kicks in around the 4th turn.

Ladies and Gentlemen , the Jeskai Blessed by Thunder deck:

4 x Evolving Wilds
4 x Swiftwater Cliffs
2 x Islands
6 x Mountains
6 x Plains
22 lands

4 x Jeskai Student 
2 x Bloodfire Expert 
4 x Jeskai Windscout
4 x Akroan Crusader
4 x Satyr Hoplite
18 Creatures

4 x Titans Strenght
4 x Lightning Strike
4 x Hammer Hand
4 x Void snare
4 x Gods Willing
20 spells

Jeskai Student , Jeskai Windscout and Bloodfire Expert make up for 10 Jeskai Prowess creatures in the deck. For a deck that does not offer any mana acceleration and a mana cost curving up to 3 this could be a bit slow but each of these creatures would be worth it for each card that you would be casting. Of course we don't want to wait for turn three for our threats to come out so I added the Heroic creatures Akroan Crusader and Satyr Hoplite that provide an early target for the 16 spells that I have put in this deck.They also provide the early kicks for the deck so that when the prowess creatures come online they could swarm in and finish off what they started. Especially the Jeskai Windscout who has flying and could normally evade creatures on the ground.

So what do we have in terms of spells to trigger the Prowess ability of these creatures? We have the Titans Strength that gives a temporary 4/1 attack boost to its target creature. A simple Jeskai Student that gets targeted by this Instant becomes a 6/5 creature! Hammerhand has the added bonus of making a creature unable to block so that your creatures could swoop in for tons of damage. And if for some reason your opponents are able to defend against you. A set of Gods willing would let you do damage whenever you like.  Void snare is a defensive sorcery card that lets you return a non-land card to its owners hands. Lightning strike is here to fry creatures and other planeswalkers as well.

So the game plan of the deck is simple. Attack as early as you could and finish with a prowess creature. Most likely something that has been pumped up by the 20 non-creature spells in this deck. With the Jeskai winning left and right in the tournament scene would they be able to conquer the Standard Pauper arena as well? Time to find out for yourself if you too can be blessed by thunder.

"Pauper Kings:Orzhov Aura 9 Grim Snipes"

"Pauper Kings:Orzhov Aura 9 Grim Snipes"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

The third set of a big expansion is often the least explored.With the short amount of time in between Journey into Nyx and the Khans of Tarkir releases most players tend to focus on the newer set. The result is that a lot of gems in the previous set are ignored and may go on ignored for a long time until someone makes a deck for them. One of those cards is the Grim Guardian and its activated Constellation ability. This deck that I call Orzhov Aura 9 Grim Snipes allows you to take a pot shot at your opponents every time another enchantment or Grim Guardian comes into play.

4 x Scoured Barrens
8 x Swamps
8 x Plains
22 x lands

4 x Baleful Eidolon
4 x Heliods Pilgrim 
4 x Nyxborn Shieldmate 
4 x Nyxborn Eidolon 
4 x Grim Guardian
4 x Hopeful Eidolon
24 creatures

4 x Eternal Thirst
2 x Grisly transformation
4 x Debilitating Injury
4 x Scourge Mark
14 spells

4 x Pharikas Cure
4 x Nyx Infusion
2 x Sign in Blood
4 x Akroan Skyguard

Orzhov Aura 9 Grim Snipes like I said revolves around the Constellation ability of the Grim Guardian. The deck contains 9 different enchantments that all serve a different purpose from card draw to creature removal but mostly to trigger the sniping ability of our main card. 90% of the deck is there to make triggering this ability much faster.

The deck has Aura creatures that curve up to 3 mana but essentially has easy casting costs. These creatures could be cast in the early turns of the game and later be used to boost the power and toughness of their fellow creatures by using the Bestow cost of the card. One card in particular , the Baleful Eidolon is a good deterrent because of its Deathtouch.While none of these creatures are imposing in stature they all become very big when joined together.

Grisly transformation and Scourge Mark are good offensive cards because they provide Intimidate and a +1/0 power boost. They also allow you to draw a card when they enter the battlefield.These cards serve as the card drawers of the deck , some might ask why not choose Read the Bones or Sign in Blood with the superior scrying and card draw.The last 2 cards are great but none of them could trigger the Grim Guardian and none of them could be fetched by Heliods chosen , whom I have 4 copies of in the deck.

Eternal Thirst is one of those auras that I have begun to play with recently. You could expect to take a lot of early damage in this deck against speedier decks but this particular aura lets your creatures stabilize your life total by the Lifelink that it grants them. This also works well with Debilitating Injury. This enchanted creature gets a +1/+1 counter whenever an opponents creature dies. You could outright kill a creature with spot removal or they could try defending against your attack and any death on the other side of the battlefield allows you to pile on the +1/+1 counters on the enchanted creature even more.

The main draw of the Orzhov Aura 9 Grim Snipes is to drain an opponents life points away without even attacking. Well you could attack when the coast is clear I guess because you would tend to have big creatures in the mid to late game anyway.Basically this deck is death by enchantment.1 life lose is negligible but these little things could really get out of hand once there are multiple copies of the Grim Guardian already in play.Imagine killing a morph creature with a Debilitating injury and also sniping an opponent for a life point.

All I can say is.Time to snipe someone.

Monday, November 17, 2014

"Ang Manifesto ng Tunay na Virulence"

"Ang Manifesto ng Tunay na Virulence"
Team Virulence

Team Virulence was born in the time that Infect was rearing its slimy head in our part of the world and making our way to us normal beings and making us Phyrexians with the Glistening Oil of change. 

As you could see with the earlier Manifesto Team Virulence is a bunch of Infect fanatics comprised of Control Players , Aggro Players and Mad Brew type players. 

Some of these Manifestos may apply to you personally or to any one of your team mates. Every team has a personality I suppose and this team is eager to show how Phyrexian it has become. Though some have moved away from Infect there are always hints of it lurking within them , something that they cannot erase.

You may find yourself here or maybe not. I decided to share this to the world at large in part because I believe that we all have our guiding principles. You may find that you have been living some these principles and not know about it so ladies and gentlemen Team Virulence gives you: 

Ang Manifesto ng Tunay na Virulence

1) Ang tunay na Virulence walang pakialam sa
Meta...basta makainfect eh Masaya na...(Metaman rule)

2) Ang tunay na Virulence makikita mong Infect deck pa
rin ang pinapatakbo kahit na EDH, Modern , Pauper or Pre Release
pa ang format...(Tandang Jiraiya rule)

3) Ang tunay na virulence laging may Infect sa deck
kahit na puro demons o goblins o elves o beasts ang

4) Ang tunay na Virulence di takot Mainfect...Nag
enjoy naman daw siya eh...may antibiotic naman (Pong

5) Ang tunay na Virulence Mapagmahal...nagpaalam para
payagang maglaro...Magnininja pag ayaw pumayag...(Rule
ng mga may Significant other...)

6) Ang tunay na Virulence di smacker...laging
nagkakataon na mababa lang ang offer (June Bryan Basura Rule)

7) Ang tunay na Virulence walang pakialam kung wala
pang tulog basta makalaro...(Kulas Rule)

8) Ang tunay na Virulence matindi sa kalaban...matindi
rin magtabi ng cards pag parating na ang commander (GG

9) Ang tunay na Virulence kahit Asul na ang kulay ng
deck eh Aggro pa din...(Aj Rule)

10) Ang tunay na Virulence ay naniniwala na ang Mantel
ng bahay na ipinuslit at ginawang playmat eh
nakakatulong upang magkaroon ng 4-1 record...(Nolan

11) Ang tunay na Virulence ay may dormant phase pero
adik pa din maglaro at bibili ng piyesa kahit gaano
kamahal kahit di pa magagamit ( Mau Mode rule)

12) Ang tunay na Virulence magbebenta ng Electric fan
, dugo o Kidney at kaluluwa para lang makabili ng
cards... (Abude Rule)

13) Ang tunay na Virulence ay di natatalo...Laging Misplay , bad draw , naglupa at mana drought lang talaga....

Found yourself here?I am sure you have in at least one. We all have our personal codes , Our guiding lights and some of us do not. For Virulence. This has made us what we are.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Sunday Commander Learnings"

"Sunday Commander Learnings"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

The nature of my work ,(Here and there and back again Clinic duties) and the demands of my true Commanders(My wife and little girl) does not allow me much playing time. So much so that I must have imagined a combo or scenarios months or weeks in advance before I ever get to see them in real life. As you can read here my fantasy magic playing is way better than my real life magic statistics.

So last Sunday(November 16 2014) while the rest of the 64 player melee that is the GPT in North Edsa was happening. 6 players decided to eat some snacks at a place called Street Bites and played a couple rounds of Commander. Mainly it was me , Aya Bolinao , Robert Flores , Joey Hernandez , Lippy and Jin(Gene.Gin?).

I decided to play with Phenax as my Commander. I would soon realize that I would do less milling and do a lot of controlling. 

The first Commander game that I played that day in Street Bites and I learned that:

(3 turns and you are dead in EDH!)

#1 Zurgo Smash is real in EDH - I was getting pummeled by my most favorite Khan and other Blue players were letting Lippy welcome me back with back to back 7 damage attacks because it serves a good purpose. I am the lone magnet for such pain! That is until Jin(Gene , Gin?) prevented 2 successive attacks from connecting. Thanks man!

#2 No matter how frustrating your land base maybe there is always hope/light at the end of the rainbow...err...tunnel...With Aya casting Blatant Thievery and reducing my 4 lands to 3 and then casting an Obliterate which allowed him to keep Lurking Predators , Nahiri and Teferi Commander planeswalkers. Pretty abusive really. It was my turn and I drew a Command Tower , played it , cast a Reanimate that went uncountered and learned another thing...

#3 The Diluvian Primordial is awesome! I was able to cast Blatant Thievery myself and get Lurking Predators and a couple of lands. Making sure that I did not get Jins(Gene.Gin?)land(or any permanent he has) to thank him for saving my butt against Zurgo. I believe at this point Joey Hernandez played a spell on his turn and I was able to put a creature card for free on the battlefield. So I learend that...

#4 The Sepulchral Primordial is also awesome! I was able to get a Teferi Mage of Zhalfir , Stonehewer Giant and Muldaya Chanellers on my side of the battlefield because of the Lurking Predators on my side of the board. It was sweet to have these guys all playing together. After a couple of turns everyone decided that it was time to play another round.An awesome unexpected win!

During our next round I learned...

#5 Time warp is great! Especially if you just want to mess up everyone on the board by granting another Blue player to play turns continously until he gets his combo of Brine Elemental and Vesuvan Shapeshifter that basically means that all other players do no untap permanents...Forever...Robert Flores...Booo!!! Still that combo was deadly and forced the end of the 2nd match.

Later on at Padis...

I got into a 1 vs 1 commander game with Virl and learned that #6 Wrath of Wife does not merely come in the shredding type but also in the burning type where a fully loaded deck complete with Dual and Fetch lands goes up in flames in the wake of a spouses fury. I felt myself crying a little bit from the story. All those lands! All those cards! Why?!!!!

After recovering quite a bit from that harrowing story I also learned that #7 Kruphix and Prophet of Kruphix is a massive energy creating combo that could fuel a lot of X spells and colorless mana spells! Too bad that my Simic deck featured a lot of colored mana creatures but it did get me to cast a Kederekt Leviathan for basically just 2 Blue mana. Untapping lands and getting those colorless mana was awesome and pointed to some great potential spells that I could add. Maybe Karn and Ulamog won't be so hard to cast after all.

So all in all it was an awesome Commander weekend and I look forward to more Commander learnings whenever and wherever they may come.