Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Remembering Katrina"

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

"Hold still..."
"Don't touch it..."
"You'd be ok buddy..."

I keep on hearing Arnolds concerned voice. He sounded like he was underwater, I couldnt open my eyes so I had to rely on my other senses. I could smell the vomit that was on me .Feel what I imagined to be blood on my hands.They were moving me , wheeling me in and the moment I smelled the air I knew where I was. It was the antiseptic smell of a hospital , I wasn't sure where but basing on our proximity I could guess where I was. The nearest hospital to Eastwood. The expensive one.

"We're here bro..."
"Hang on..."
"We called an eye specialist in..."

Arnolds voice could be calming when he wanted to but right now it was echoing like a hammer in my head. An eye specialist? It was that bad huh? I could remember blocking a guy who was about to smash a bottle of beer over my head. I remember kicking his ass. The only problem is that in the heat of battle you tend to forget that this asshole has friends. 2 of them to be exact and Arnold as big as he was was as useful as tissue in a torrential downfall when it comes to a fight. I knew something hit me and I blacked out.And now here I am listening , thinking if I could ever see again.

"Oh no Ollie..."

A familiar voice. A voice I never thought that I would hear again. It was here. It was Katrina.I don't know if it was relief or the realization that she was somewhere in front of me that made me brave.

"You should see the other guy..." I began to say but her voice was stern and serious as she cut me off.

"Mr. Ollie Oliveros..."

"Thats Dr. Oliveros to you!"

"Yes , Dr. Oliveros , you know better than to get into a fight like you were some high school kid.I knew you to be more level headed than this."

Wow! The first time I have heard her voice in almost a decade and here she was scolding me.I didn't know why I suddenly lost the ability to talk back. Katrina still has that effect after all this time. I wanted to ask so many questions but there might be time for that later , if there is a later. 

I felt myself beginning to pass out. I must be losing a lot more blood than I calculated. I felt afraid that I might not be able to ask my questions. Damn it. I still have so many questions. Here I am possibly dying and my dying thoughts were. "Where have you been?"


The world was sound.The beeping of monitors. The distant sounds of cars and other peoples voices. It was so normal and it was so cliche. The movies always had the guy in the accident covered in gauze so that he won't be able to see anything and here I was anxious to get these things off so I would be able to know if I was waking up to a nightmare or something else. I wanted to see her. I wanted to see how she looked liked. How age has been kind or unkind to her. If her smile was the still the same.


"I'm here" she whispered softly. It was always like that with her. A soft whisper that seemed to turn into a howl in my mind.

A hand reached out to touch mine. It was cold.

"I am not a ghost if that is what you are thiking. Try being in this airconditioned room for a couple of hours and you'd be cold too."

"Never thought of it"


"I thought you were the coldest phoenix ever though."

Katrina gave a short chuckle. It was a sweet sound compared to the silence that followed.

"So Opthalmologist huh? You always were an eye opener."

"Among other things."

"You know it's really funny , before all this Arnold and I were wondering where you were. For someone who is unforgettable you seem to have kept your life a secret from everyone."

"Well I am not really into facebook or twitter or any of those things. I still prefer seeing people and them seeing me in the flesh. The internet seems so distant and cold."

"I wanted to see you."

"I know."

"You knew?"

"Yeah. When I read the papers and I saw your name I knew that we would bump into each other again.Eventually.It took you quite awhile though."

"You didn't even know what I wanted to get into."

"I knew enough."


There was a kiss on my lips.As light as a feather. As searing as the rays of hottest afternoon sun. It lasted a second.It stretched for an eternity. The kiss of a phoenix.

I was afraid to move. I was afraid to finally find that this was some sort of dream where I was given what I wanted only to be cruelly wrenched away by reality. The kiss did not end though. And I remembered. I remembered that laughing girl in the cadaver room. The one who was blushing and out of breathe.It didn't matter if I could ever see again. I remembered Katrina. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Putol na Bahaghari"

"Putol na Bahaghari"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD

At di na babalik
mga oras na ating sinayang
Di na mababawi
mga salitang may panghihinayang

Ang nasabi ng may galit
tuluyan nang nakasakit
At ang nasaktan
tuluyan nang nagalit

At di na babalik
mga pintong nagsara
Di na mababawi
ang nilimot na alaala

Ang nasabi ng pangnunutya
kahit sabing di sadya
Ang nasaktan
tuluyang nawala na

Nawala sa alaala
Nawala sa simula

"Kolaghan , The Storms Fury:Death Dash"

"Kolaghan , The Storms Fury:Death Dash"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

How does one play with a card like Kolaghan? Well Aggressively of course. Just look at all that lightning and that sleekness that connotes speed. The aim is to strike fast and hard. Something that the Mardu of old have come to embody. Ever since this dragon came out of print there are a lot of token players who are aching to  give it a spin.

So the ability says that whenever a dragon you control attacks , creatures you control get +1/0 until end of turn. The card in standard that benefits from this massive boost is Hordeling Outburst , the alternate version of this card even shows a Kolaghan chasing after a bunch of goblins. The alternate card answers the question why the goblins were running in the first place and why they are just bursting out to get away from those massive jaws of death.(or are they being led by Kolaghan? Hmmmm)

So if you already have at least 6 tokens in play when Kolaghan arrives on the battlefield(Via Dash Mechanic of course) , all creatures including the attacking Kolaghan gets +1/0. This translates into 17 points of damage! 12 from the tokens and an additional 5 from Kolaghan itself. Nothing short of a bloodbath would ensue for your opponents. Kolaghan goes back to your hand and evades End Hostilities or Crux of Fate that your opponent would hopelessly cast on his or her turn to at least clear the board of those pesky tokens that you amassed. If they do not have a Hero's downfall or any spot removal at hand then Kolaghan could finish them off with ease.

When it comes to aggression and surprise Kolaghan is the most explosive of the dragon brood coming out of Fate Reforged, In comparison Atarka and Ojutai are way too slow. Silumgar is probably the only Dragon who could hold it off while Dromoka needs to have itself bolstered first in order to stand a chance at surviving the sudden attack. 

Oh and just in case you were wondering what other card works well with this Kolaghan + Token strategy then look no further than the card Dragon Rage which gives you 1 red mana for each of your attacking creatures and a "dragon breathing" ability for each one of them. You pay 1 red mana and pump any of them for +1/0 until end of turn.

So going back. You have 6 tokens attacking as well as Kolaghan. The plan is to go for lethal but your opponent casts 2 Raise the Alarms effectively blocking 4 of your Goblin creatures with 4 1/1 Soldier tokens.Do you go quietly and accept the death of these goblins? Of course not. You cast a Dragonrage for 3 mana at instant speed and add 7 mana for all your attacking creatures. One of those unblocked Goblins or Kolaghan itself then gets a +7/0 boost. Though you may have lost 4 tokens and 8 damage the unblocked creatures would still be able to dish out 16 points of pain. If you have 2 Collateral Damage at hand you could even sacrifice your goblins and deal 6 damage since your goblins are about to die anyway.

Now imagine if there were no blockers or only one creature was blocked. This is what we call GG or Good game. Nothing to do but scoop up your cards and be ready for Kolaghans next Death Dash. 

"Standard Pauper: Sultai Burn"

"Say Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....all the way down..."
"Standard Pauper: Sultai Burn"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

Most of the time when people associate Fire with the Sultai it is often with the image of a zombie being burned and a graveyard being purified by the same fire. However Fire is a fickle thing and like a lot of things in the world of magic could be used by more than one master. Sultai Burn for Standard Pauper is something that I have not seen just yet. Until now. The Sultai are masters of exploiting any known resource why not hold the one thing that gives them fear? Fire. 

"Oh not today Mr. Fire , Not today."

The deck revolves around the idea of getting a lot of burn spells and then delving for the sultai biggies that would have a bigger impact in the mid to late games.

4 x Bloodfell Caves
4 x Evolving Wilds
7 x Mountains
7 x Swamps
22 lands

4 x Lightning Strike
4 x Collateral Damage
4 x Bolt of Keranos
2 x Bathe in Dragon Fire
4 x Tormenting Voice
18 Spells

4 x Typhoid rats
4 x Necromancers Assistant
4 x Gurmag Angler
4 x Sultai Emissary
4 x Shambling Attendants
20 Creatures

The trick is to usually have a lot cards in the graveyard to easily cast out the power houses of the deck Gurmag Angler and Shambling Attendants. At 7 and 8 to cast respectively they may seem a bit hefty but then again no one sees them that way and only look at both as 1 black mana , much like they would look at Tasigur. 

"Let me give you a hug"
Now in this Black/Red deck how do you start getting your cards to the graveyard for abuse? Well since you do not have Taiga's Scheming you need to rely on the same thing that ends a lot of zombies lives. Burn. Yup all you need to do is build up your mana base with Evolving Wilds serving as the poor mans Land Fetch. 

The Burn suite of this deck includes Lightning Strike , Collateral Damage , Bolt of Keranos and a pair of Bathe in Dragon Fire. The concept here is that with this amount of burn readily available any worthy target that hits the board will not survive for very long.So what do you do when there are no worthy creature targets? Well you burn someone of course.

Tormenting Voice has been a favorite of mine since I played in the Khans Pre release and it feels quite at home here discarding a card for 2 more. When it comes to thinning out your deck and filling your graveyard this is the only thing in Red. With Burn decks it is always important to have a refilled hand. Tormenting Voice will do just the trick and in the process put more fuel for your delve creatures.

Now comes the interesting part , with your opponent losing all of his or her creatures this leaves you with a field that is open for domination from the 5/5 Gurmag Angler and the 3/5 Shambling Attendants. The latter even has deathtouch in case there are still some remnants of opposition left on the other side of the board.

Of course there would be a couple of times when you would be overwhelmed by the odd token deck or even a pauper heroic deck. Typhoid rats and Sultai Emissary are there to hold the fort. They are even willing to die for the Sultai cause. More fuel to consume as I always say. Typhoid rats is an early deterrent because of death touch. Nobody wants their 4/4 monster to die to a 1/1 rat.  Sultai Emissary , well this is a guy that just keeps on giving. When he dies you get to Manifest the top of your card giving you a 2/2 blocker or if it happens to be another creature you could actually flip it over by paying its morph cost. Not bad for a 2 to cast creature right?

Sultai burn might win by burning someone to death but it is really more satisfying to get an Angler or Attendant just oozing their way into someones gut. Let Fire serve the Sultai. Let all Serve the Sultai.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"The Knocks"

"The Knocks"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD

"I want you to check these tapes out"

Roy barely had time to remove his hands from the desk before a huge box came crashing down on it. The old thin desk seemed to groan from the weight of the box and Roy found himself thinking what the hell could all these tapes contain.

"These are CCTV footage's for the past couple of months facing Apartment 23. Did you know that no one stays in that unit for more than a week? The tenants have all been spooked out and would rather not get their 2 months deposit from the owner rather than stay another night there. One of them said that there was an incessant knocking for every night that they stayed there."

"Sounds like a Ghost story to me boss" Roy said while fingering all the tapes that he would go through.

"Or it could be some sort of extortion scam. Our client has asked us to look into this and as a gesture of good faith the complex owner has given us all these tapes to go through , he even included a list of the last tenants who stayed there that coincides with the tapes.If its any consolation to you this footage all comes from a lone camera that faces the door of Apartment 23. Lucky right? Well it seems you have a long night ahead of you so get to it."

"A long night sounds about right" Roy said after his boss has shut the door.


Roy had to sort out the beginning of the tapes and was instantly bored by the daily comings and goings of the first residents. The lone camera on the floor had been placed at the far end of the hall. At the other end of the hall were 2 doors. One going to the left and another which had the gold embossed number 23 nailed to it. The first tenants he could identify was a middle aged couple who by the looks of it had no children. Nothing odd about the first couple of tapes until he reached a part where all it showed was the door left ajar. It was like that for a couple of hours until some people who looked liked the care takers of the apartment complex came and moved the belongings of the middle aged couple. Odd but nothing that could show why they left.

The next couple was a bit more lively. Roy checked his notes and found that they were newly weds and both could not keep their hands off each other. The pretty female was even more aggressive , touching her husbands crotch despite the latter pointing to what Roy assumed to be the highly visible camera at the other end of the hall. The female merely replied by undressing and encouraging the man to caress her breasts. A free show!Roy thought but before anything else could happen the man opened the door and carried his very well endowed wife in. The door closed silently. Roy was disappointed because out of all the hours of footage this was the only stimulating part that have come his way. He decided to keep the tape running while he made himself a cup of coffee. This was taking longer than he thought. He first suspected that the door on the left would be trying to knock on the door to scare the tenants or someone would try and sneak near the door , knock and then run away. No one seemed to linger in this particular corridor though. At least nothing that he could see on the camera.

The tape had come to an end. The door was again left open and after a few hours the caretakers had come to take out the contents of the apartment. Roy would see the same pattern repeating for the next 3 tenants of the place. A single man , a pair of lesbian lovers and another pair of newly weds. Daily activities , coming and going and then just the open door. No one was seen running. No one was seen going near the door. Did the owner already get his hands on these tapes and edited them somehow? He was sure that these were all unaltered. His eye could easily see any loops or alterations. He decided to look at the footage of the second couple. He might get lucky and see some more of that woman.

Roy did see something. 

At first he thought that the camera blurred a little bit as what seemed liked white smoke rose in front of the Apartments door. In what seemed like a small amount of time the smoke shaped into that of a woman with long black hair and gossamer white clothing.

A white lady? Classic.

The lady lifted her left hand slowly and gave the door the 3 sharp knocks. Roy could only imagine it as the hands fell in quick succession. The door was framed in light as the tenants turned it on from the inside. Only did Roy realize that he was looking at the camera in total darkness. The lights were on in the apartment but no one came out. They were probably asking who was outside. Roy deftly rewind the footage and checked the time on the first knock It was 3:33am. This time he let the scene unfold. When the lights turned on and it seemed that no one answered the question from the inside the lights turned off again in Unit 23. The lady was still there.

She lifted her left hand again and began her 3 successive raps. Like someone striking a bell Roy thought to himself. The lights went on again but no one came out. It turned off. 

3 more knocks. And then the door opened showing a guy with his sando and boxers. He was looking straight at the lady who stood motionless. Not a single strand of her black hair was disturbed as the man was gesturing with his hands and shouting at the corridor. No one opened their doors. The Door on the left remained shut despite the mans shouting. Probably used to it by now. The man stepped back a bit and to talk to his wife. The lady then seemed to glide and inside. The door closed.

Roy took all of this in. A couple more minutes and the disheveled couple were running out. The woman clutching a blanket to cover herself.The man pale and hurrying her forward. Their bare feet must have been causing quite a ruckus as they ran. The other doors remained shut.

Roy focused on the door and zoomed in a bit. He saw it. The lady. Her face contorted in her death. Her involuntary smile frozen forever. Her eye , her red bright eyes turning toward him.

Roy closed the monitor and stepped away.

There were 3 raps on his door. Roy looked at the clock  on his left. It was 3:33am.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Sa Aking Mga Kamay"

"Sa aking mga Kamay"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD

Kapag lumuluha ang langit
ay lumuluha din ako
Di mapigilan ang mga alaala
Ang aking kadiliman lamang ang kasama

Dito sa tahimik ngunit naririnig
boses mong wala na ngayon
Napatitig sa mga baluktot kong kamay ngayon
Di mapigilang bumabalik sa araw na yun

Ang aking kamay na kumitil sa iyo
Una'y galit ang nakita sa mga mata mo...
Kaya mong gawin yan? Ako na mahal mo?
Pilit na tanong ng tingin mo...

Nang di tumigil at ako'y nagtuloy
Takot ang nakita sa iyong mukha
pagmamakaawa , pagmamakaawa
paghingi ng kaunting pangunawa

Sa aking mga braso
mga peklat ng paglaban mo
pagbaon ng kuko
bago ka tuluyang sumuko.

At nang pinikit ko
ang iyong mga magagandang mata
hinalikan sa labi 
ng huling beses pa

Nagpaalam sa dati kong centro
nagpunta sa kadiliman
naghanap ng katahimikan
naghahanap , naghahanap ng kanlungan

Kapag lumuluha ang langit
ay lumuluha din ako
Di mapigilan ang mga alaala
pagkat kadiliman lamang ang aking kasama


Picture from Picshark.com

"Standard Pauper: Jeskai Monks by the Cove"

"Standard Pauper: Jeskai Monks by the Cove"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

In the plane of Tarkir the Order of monks known as the Jeskai have been honing their skills to fight a defensive war against the dragons that have lorded over their realm. The brood of Ojutai , an Ice breathing dragon threatens to claim the same territory as the Jeskai. These monks have created techniques to bring down these dragons and I present it here in a standard Pauper decks I would love to call Jeskai Monks by the Cove.

4 x Tranquil Cove
12 x Plains 
 6 x Islands
22 lands

4 x Soul Summons
4 x Raise the Alarm
4 x Write into being
4 x Pressure Point
4 x Gods Willing
2 x  Sandblast
22 Spells

4 x Dragon Bell Monk
4 x Jeskai Windscout
4 x Jeskai student 
4 x Jeskai Sage 
16 creatures

"Time for some Kung-Fu"
The land mix is blue and white , colors that are very cool and pleasing to the eye. What these monks would do however is not at all pleasant especially for those who would be at the receiving end of it.

Included are 4 creatures from Jeskai ,all of which who have prowess , a triggered ability that puts a +1/+1 counter on the creature until end of turn whenever you cast a non-creature spell. There are 22 non-creature spells that is sure to trigger the prowess of an Jeskai Creature in play. Each of the common Jeskai creatures here have different built in abilities such as Vigilance and Flying. Jeskai Sage even has the added advantage of drawing you a card when it dies.

I have counted 16 creatures here but in reality there are 3 spells that give you creatures as well. Raise the Alarm from M15 gives you 2 Soldier tokens while triggering a Jeskai monk while on the attack because it is an instant. Soul Summons and Write into Being which are common cards from Fate Reforged allow you to Manifest or put the top card of your library face down into play. This is a colorless 2/2 creature that could be turned face up if it is a creature card for its mana or morph cost. Soul Summons translates into a vanilla 2/2 creature on turn 2. Write into Being is somewhat more versatile because it gives you a Scry 2 and a creature as well. You even choose which of these 2 cards that you want to manifest and the other goes on top of your library or below it. So you got a creature , got rid of a card you didn't need/kept a card you need and was able to reduce your library so you would be able to access important cards. All of that for 3 mana!

Compared to other decks because of the abundance of 3 mana cost cards this would be a little slow. It does however tend to dish out a ton of damage once it gets going. The ideal turn would consist of Manifesting a creature on your main phase to activate Prowess for your Jeskai creatures , attack with them while having a reactive spell live Pressure Point , Gods Willing or Sandblast in your hand. Pressure Point takes down potential blockers or attackers and nets you a card , Sandblast does the same as well. Gods willing negates blockers by simply going through them because of the protection it gives your creature. All 3 spells trigger prowess just might be the needed boost to end your opponents life.

For a bunch of monks hanging out by a cove these guys sure are a bunch of thugs.

Monday, February 9, 2015

"Magic Origins:Starting from the beginning"

"Jace as Anakin Skywalker...."
"Magic Origins:Starting from the beginning"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. 

In order to move forward one must first understand the past. I kept on thinking about this phrase after I saw the latest announcement that Magic has decided to celebrate the origins of some of the famous planeswalkers in existence in the last official core set.

The excitement level is once again palpable and a lot of magic players are looking forward to July so that they could get their hands on cards that represent the planeswalkers before they got their respective sparks. Many possible card ideas emerge as you go through the forums and one of them is a Legendary Creature Card that has some pretty nifty abilities like Jaya Balard. 

The spoiled planeswalkers in Magic:Origins are as follows ,Liliana for Black , Jace for Blue , Chandra for Red , Gideon for White ,  and Nissa for Green. While the first 3 came as no surprise there was a lot of clamor for the latter two. People argue for the inclusion of Garruk and Ajani who were part of the origin Planeswalkers from Lorwyn and whom have been well known and have several incarnations running around in various formats. I believe that this last reason is why Ajani and Garruk were not included , Ajani has been around in the last few sets and Garruk , Apex Predator is still being talked about because he is gaining some steam in Standard nowadays.

In contrast Gideon made an appearance in Ravnica and he was a very bad card there. Nissa reappeared in M15 and has been pretty awesome. Still not why they were chosen though. The real reason I think Gideon and Nissa were chosen is because I believe they are stronger clues/links that magic is pushing back into Zendikar pretty soon.Maybe even starting with the faster 2 expansion sets. 

"Simple and Sweet and then Deadly..."

The inclusion of Liliana , Jace and Chandra are self explanatory at this point as they are still crowd favorites and remain the icons of their colors. People are wondering how they will be like as normal creatures(if there will be anything normal about them at all).

The tantalizing image of a very innocent looking Pre-Spark Liliana has many fan boys dreaming of putting her on a playmat.(myself included). While there are thoughts about different power levels and if these creatures would have some sort of mechanic all their own or will they be true to the theme of their Planeswalker versions all we can do is wait and speculate like we always do. It really is a great time to be playing Magic.July we eagerly await you.