Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"I Resolve:Magic New Year Resolutions 2015"

"I Resolve:Magic New Year Resolutions 2015"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

There are things in life that are easier said than done.Like resisting the urge to buy boosters packs when there are still Fetch lands out there or the urge to create a new deck when one is still unfinished. Magic players are unique in our daily dilemmas.

Here are a couple of resolutions that you might want to do for 2015.

Magic Resolution #1 - "Resolve to finish all those unfinished deck projects that you have lying around"

- Yup , actually finish what you started and get a move on with these concepts that you have been brewing. It doesn't matter if you have lost interest or have a couple of hard to find pieces for your concept EDH dec. Just finish it. Not only will you save space in your now cramped up room but you actually get that feeling of accomplishment that a deck builder feels afterwards. And this could even get you out of that deck building rut that you find yourself stuck in. 

Magic Resolution #2 - "Resolve to Sort/Classify/Organize your card collection"

- When my friend June Bhryan decided to sell his collection one of the things he found was an old Taiga just hidden in a pile he had forgotten long ago...Just imagine if you have old cards that are left there , chances are when you were starting out in Magic you may not have appreciated them. With the EDH format in full swing , you might look at these cards in a new light now.

- Plus when you organize your cards it makes it much easier to create new decks or easy to sell those excess cards that you don't need. 

Magic Resolution #3 - "Resolve to start playing again"

- It might not be standard , it might not even be in the usual magic shops or venues. It could just be over the kitchen table with a one or few friends Be resolved to play magic. Let go of your stresses and play.If you have the budget you could even join a Pre Release once every 3 months. Just get back in the game. You probably have a lot of burdens because of internal conflicts and familial concerns , Magic is not the answer those things but it does help you in alleviating those tensions that keep you from finding solution to those things. While we can't Lightning bolt our problems in real life , magic can keep us sane enough so that we could go through life a little better.

Magic Resolution #4 - "Resolve to teach more magic"

- New players are the lifeblood of any game and while there are no shortage of people who want to play the game , there is a big shortage of those who want to teach the game , clarify the rules , teach about competition conduct and such. You could be that person if you want to be. New players are the continuity of our game. They make sure that even though we go on hiatus for 4 to 6 years for one reason or another that there would still be a game that we could come back to. 

Magic Resolution #5 - "Resolve to challenge yourself."

- Been playing the game for awhile? Having been playing in awhile? There is always a higher lever to attain in this game. There is a real passion running in every tournament. If you want to attain other goals than just being a player why not be a level 1 judge? or go even higher? there are always room for improvement. Challenge yourself with your magic goals for this year.

Magic Resolution #6 - "Resolve to have more control"

- And I don't mean playing Blue either. I meant having the ability to stop buying cards.To say No. I mean it. Really. Having the ability to not look at a Binder and think of your Modern / Legacy/ EDH / Standard Pauper/ Modern Pauper/ Standard project and just buy cards that you might not be able to buy again any time soon. Easier said than done.However controlling one's budget means that you would have money when a better deal does come along. Like the time I ran into someone who was selling Iona , Shield of Emeria for 300 pesos. A bargain always presents itself in our game , those are the times that you should have the money for.

Among this list I find the last one the hardest to keep but that doesn't mean that I wont try...

How about you? what Magic resolutions do you have for yourself?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"I See You..."

"I See You..."
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD

Beyond the shades of your colored contact lenses
I sense the myriad sadness that you hide
I may not have seen the tears
but they have left their track all this time

Beyond the tattoos that you have used,
the markings that cover up your scars
I know of your pain
and the silence in your heart

Beyond the provocative poses
and the adulation of men
Beyond the skin that you bear 
and the approval that you crave
Beyond the howls that you scatter
I know your sadness still

Beyond the smile that you show the world
I know what you are within
I know , I know
beyond your facade

Just know that I see you...
Not for what they see
but what you really are...
Not how they value you
but as all that is precious to me...

and when you are ready...please see me...
daughter...please see me...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Modern Pauper: Mono Blue Cranial Infect"

"Modern Pauper:  Mono Blue Cranial Infect"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

After remembering that Cranial plating was a common card and beating myself up for not remembering this fact , I decided to revisit one of my most favorite mechanics and one that probably reflects my profession as much as anything else. This is the Infect mechanic. Since infect came out I have brewed a lot of decks based on it but I have not brewed a mono blue deck that involved the cranial plating in this way. This is the Mono Blue Cranial Infect.

4 x Seat of the Synod
4 x Vault of Whispers
10 x Islands
18 lands

4 x Frogmite
4 x Blighted Agent
4 x Ornithopter
4 x Ichorclaw Myr
4 x Corpse Curr
4 x Plague Myr
24 creatures

4 x Cranial Plating
4 x Thoughtcast
4 x Serum Visions
4 x Boomerang
2 x Distortion Strike
18 spells

Since this is a deck of Infect creatures based on the power that Cranial plating could give I wanted to cram as much common artifacts cards in the deck. Along with a set of the Seat of the Synod and Vault of Whispers, lands that ought to make things big and interesting very fast. I know Vault of Whispers produces black mana but it gets a nod here since it could potentially attach the Cranial plating at instant speed to any of your attacking creatures. An old trick that was put to good use while Infect was still in Standard.

In this deck I have also included non-infect creature cards like Ornithopter and Frogmite who might seem to go against the Infect them but could actually up the artifact count for all of the equipped Infect creatures on the list and the great thing is that they cost almost nothing for you to cast!  

Blighted Agent is the most efficient Blue infect agent so he is an automatic inclusion in this deck and since he is unblockable he could win the game for you single handedly. Imagine equipping him with the cranial plating and you have at least 5 artifacts in play? This easily translates into a two turn swing Infect kill! Or you could just keep in attacking with him and you win on the 11th or 12th turn , depending on when you were able to put him on the battlefield.

Plague Myr is included for mana acceleration in the early turns and a possible Infect creature in the mid to late games.Powering out a lot of Infect creatures is key since there are no mass removals in Modern Pauper as well. Ichorclaw Myr is just a favorite in this kind of deck since he could be a killer for both creatures and players alike.

And finally Corpse Curr who by itself is an Infect creature but also has the ability to get more creatures because it returns a creature with Infect to your hand from the graveyard as its enter the battlefield effect. In an Infect deck it is ok to be aggressive and even if your creatures are killed early they could simply be brought back by the Corpse Curr.A set of them is in the deck for that very purpose.

Thoughtcast and Serum Visions provide the card draws for this deck because believe me you don't want to run out of creatures and spells in your hand. These cards also increases the probability of getting a Cranial Plating.

On to the support cards , Boomerang allows you to remove a pesky creature on the battlefield who is standing in the way of your infect victory. You could also use this as a delay in the mana accumulation process of your opponents  , when you bounce back an opponents land in the early turns or when they area already having trouble playing sufficient lands to begin with.  

And lastly Distortion Strike allows your Infect creatures to hit home with a +1/0 stat pump and allowing it to be unblockable until the end of turn. I mean an unblockable Infect creature with a Cranial plating is pretty cool but with the Rebound mechanic on Distortion Strike you could repeat the damage on your next turn and finish an opponent off.

Making Infect decks is my passion and with each passing expansion I am always on the look out for ways to abuse it but sometimes I just have to revisit something that is already there and just have fun with it. Enough writing for today , time of turn someone Phyrexian.


Editors Note: Sigh. Sadly the over powered Cranial Plating is banned in any Pauper Format. In my excitement in making the deck I forgot to check that one little fact. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Imagining Katrina"

"Imagining Katrina"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD

I first met Katrina during the 2nd week of Medical school. I was the idiot who played too much video games and forgot to study for the first test of the semester. I was also the same idiot who decided that cramming in the Cadaver room of the anatomy building was a very good idea because no one would come in there at 5am to disturb my very fast fact memorizing skill. 

So there I was reciting mnemonic after mnemonic like a mad man. I was in between 2 cadavers who were covered by a very thick green tarpaulin material. It didn't help much with their smell but at least I wasn't looking at any dead peoples faces this early in the morning. I probably wouldnt mind because I was too busy reciting things that I would probably forget once the exam starts anyway. I was too busy in fact to notice that something was moving behind me. Too busy to notice the hand that clasped my shoulder and the mouth that was suddenly near my ear asking ,"Hey , what are you are doing here?".

I think I must have jumped out of my seat for a good few feet off the air. I was also shouting like a shrill voiced woman for a good ten seconds. When my heart stopped pounding and I finally calmed down , I was able to look at the prettiest girl that I have ever seen in my life. She was also red in the face and in tears with laughter. The laughter was directed at me of course. 

"I never thought anyone could move so fast away from me like that." Katrina started to say until she burst into another fit of laughter.

"Why would anyone want to move away from you? Wouldn't they want to stay where you are?" I found myself saying without a moments hesitation.Unfiltered thoughts. My greatest downfall since I was able to form words.

Katrina stopped laughing for a moment and suddenly looked serious. Then she gave a big shrug. "Let's hope you don't find out."

"My name is... , she began to say...

"....Katrina. You sit 2 rows in front of me." I finished for her.

"Very impressive. You remember me..." The way she said ,left the sentence hanging in the air,  as if to ask  for something.

"Ollie. Ollie Oliveros." I supplied readily.

Katrina burst into laughter one more time. "Your name is silly.Like Bernie Bernardo or Joselito Jose."

"You know , I could get offended..."

"No please don't , I am sorry. Its just that I am new here. And you are probably the only person who has made me laugh in the 2 weeks that I have been here."

"I am not offended then..."

"You still scream like a girl though..."


And this is how I always imagined Katrina.It was weeks and the effects of her smile was still upon me. I smiled too much when I remembered my friend Arnold told me once. 

Katrina and I,We would often bump into each other at the parking lot because I was someone who didn't want to go home too soon.And she was there to wait for her folks or brother to pick her up. I teased her about that once or twice.She would often laugh about it but when I told her that she must have done something pretty bad for them to even pick her up from Medical school and not just let her drive home she gave me a very serious look. She didn't say anything but I knew I hit a nerve there. 

Still my imaginations of Katrina continued.There she was a laughing and blushing among the cadavers. What a pretty macabre picture but it was one of those things that made things easier for me especially when I found that I was barely passing anything in something that was supposed to be easy for me.Surprise surprise Medical School can be really tough.

If things were hard for me. Things were equally hard for Katrina who had trouble fitting in among her new found friends.Friends who rolled their eyeballs behind her back and made fun of everything from her accent to her being the rich kid from the province.Probinsiyana these friends would say as if it was a demarcating line, something that makes them more special. Goes to show that you could be pretty , be rich and still not fit in. 

After a while , her laughter in my mind seemed to be sad , seemed a little heavy.Of course I could be imagining things(Wow! Imagining things in my imagination!) because she had consistently been in the top of our section despite her crummy friends.How about that , maintaining grace under pressure. The same pressure was cracking me and instead of focusing I turned to writing more and more. It just felt better. That and my thoughts of Katrina.

Then one day in the middle of Biochemistry class , a summons from the Dean of Medicine. People huddled in their favored groups and mentioned a few hush words. Some looked serious , some were laughing. Katrina. What was happening to Katrina? It was hard enough calculating how many energy I could get out of the Krebs Cycle.Now I didn't even pretend that I was interested to know. I kept looking at the door waiting to see Katrina smile. She never came back that day.

The last time I saw Katrina she looked like she was bearing a cross. Not that you could see it because she was as beautiful as ever. It never diminished but there were lines under her eyes. There was less energy. Maybe people didn't notice but I surely did. I wanted to let her know that I was with her but one time we walked along each other and all she said was...

"You know this is my last semester here..."

"I know" was all I ever got out. I suspected something but had no proof. I wanted to say something but could not.For the first time I didn't know what to say , my mouth would not be my downfall.It felt like a tomb sealing in all the questions I wanted to ask and all those other things that were clamoring to get out.

We walked silently going toward the parking lot. I parked my car near where she usually waited for her ride so that I could spend a little time with her. I knew this was the last time I would ever walk with her. Her last day was all her so called friends could talk about and me being the diligent eavesdropper always heard every word.

I wanted to say something...

She turned to me and looked into my eyes. A kind of sadness that could never be described by my words. She looked at me and all I said was...

"You are a Phoenix."

"I will be one you mean..."

"Nope. You are"

A puzzled look began to cross her face but it quickly vanished around the corner of her eyes and she gave me that smile of hers for one last time.

"Thank you" She said. And she moved away from me toward the car that was already waiting for her. And for awhile this was how I imagined being with Katrina.


Editors:This is a prequel of sorts to my Original story Forgetting Katrina. You could click on the link below if you want to check out that story. Thanks for reading.


Female Phoenix Picture by Marta Nael

"Modern Forays: The Muscled Undead Horde"

"Modern Forays: The Muscled Undead Horde"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

There are many things that you could do to zombies. You could use them for target practice , set them loose on an unsuspecting population , use them for experimentation , sacrifice them , recycle them for parts , annoy siblings as in the case of Gisa and Geralf.You could make them go to the gym , muscle up and pummel the crap out of your enemies.

I was supposed to write about this Modern deck last month but I never got around to it. It fit the theme of things that go Hrrrr in the night. Ladies and Gentlemen I welcome you to the The Muscled Undead Horde deck.

14 x Swamps
4  x Watery Grave
4  x Polluted Delta

4 x Diregraf captain
4 x Lord of the Undead
4 x Adaptive Automaton
4 x Death Baron
4 x Gravecrawler
2 x Mikaeus the Unhallowed
22 creatures

4 x Door of Destinies
4 x Aether vial
4 x Black Suns Zenith
4 x Sign in Blood
16 Spells

This is basically a mono black deck with a little splash of Blue for the Diregraf captain. Blue is provided by the Ravnican shock land Watery Grave. And if it is not in your hands you could always fetch it with a Polluted Delta. With the abundance of copies coming out of Khans of Tarkir it should not be a problem acquiring this fetch land.

The deck is packing a lot of Undead and almost each one of them making each other stronger.Yup, we got all the gang right here and they could be a deadly bunch indeed.

Death Baron makes your other Zombies while giving death touch as well. Lord of the Undead on the other hand gives you a little recursion just in case some of your key guys are sent to the graveyard for a little bit of rest(Zombies eventually return from the grave).

And speaking of going to the Grave Diregraf Captain makes sure that your opponents pays 1 life for taking out one of your zombie hordes.Adaptive Automaton could be any creature you like . in this deck he functions as another stat pumping Artifact Zombie.

To make matters a lot worse for opponents Mikaeus the Unhallowed also makes an appearance here. Giving your Zombie Horde another boost while giving them Undying. Each and every one of them comes back just a little bit stronger. Gravecrawler is a 1/1 one mana drop that only gets bigger with each of the enabler zombies coming in one by one. To top that all off he could be cast from the graveyard as long as you control a zombie. 

These ghouls are tough and strong. They could overwhelm opponents in no time. The only draw back is that the mana curve of this deck is very high with a majority of the creatures curving up to 3 mana. Not to worry, Aether Vial could easily power out your zombie captains and then they could power up each other. Aether vial could do this at instant speed too so that you could work around Anger of the Gods or Slagstorm.A turn one Vial is ideal but hey the deck is strong even without it in your opening hand.

Door of Destinies is also a great addition to this deck because we are playing tribal zombies and the more you cast a zombie the stronger the other zombies on the field will be.Sign in Blood is simply card draw and Black Sun's Zenith is a massive board sweeper that you could draw again and again.

I could imagine Getting a Diregraf Captain and Death Baron in pay. They each become 3/3 Creatures.Add a Lord of the undead and they are all 4/4 creatures.Plus big zombie daddy Mikeaus and you got 5/5 Intimidate , Death touch , Undying zombies! A bunch of massively powered corpses for the win.Its like fighting against a bunch of undead wrestlers!Truly worthy of the name The Muscled Undead Horde.