Saturday, March 21, 2015

"Dragons of Tarkir PR: Heeding Silumgar's Ruthless Command"

"Dragons of Tarkir PR: Heeding Silumgar's Ruthless Command"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

So it was another Midnight PR and being the night owl that I was I felt like I was in my element again. There was an overwhelming excitement on my part that I had to go and join the 27 other players already in Gmasters in Caloocan from the company clinic that I worked for in SM North Edsa. I would not regret the decision even though I did arrive a few minutes just after midnight and the rush to build a deck. 

After playing Sultai for the 2 other Pre-Release events there was no doubt in my mind which Dragonlord would gain my allegiance and that was Dragonlord Silumgar , He with the Tasigur Bling and the clan full of creatures that exploit other creatures. I wanted to have that level of ruthlessness. That and the cool Muddy Black/Brown Semi-See Through Dice that comes with the Silumgar PR kit.

The night was great as I played very skillful opponents who never knew when to quit. I went on a 3-0 winning streak until I hit a wall in the 4th round against Van Mamokhan who was piloting a much meaner deck than the one that I had. 

Some of the highlights of the night included the deadly combination of Dragonloft Idol and Deadly Wanderings. Opponents who have no answer for a couple of turns against a 5/3 Deathtouch and Lifelink creature usually succumbed rather easily. Sadly I was not able to use any dragons with Deadly Wanderings but the added boost to most of the weenie creatures on the deck were enough for the win.

In the third round I found myself battling a war of attrition where I could not deal any lethal damage and while most of my creatures were coming out one by one they were easily dealt with or mass blocked to the grave. It was an exhausting battle but eventually one of us would not have enough creatures to fight. Fortunately I was able to draw this.

My opponent could only stare on at disbelief as all the creatures he had previously dealt with would now be coming out one by one on the battlefield. A fresh wave of old faces that could neither be dealt with or matched because of the lack of resources. "Lord Silumgar is pleased" is all I could hear. I was able to appreciate this wonderful reprint from Dark Ascension.

The Exploit creatures did not disappoint either. As well as those creatures willing to be exploited by their own clan members.Shambling Goblin, Sultai Emissary and Palace Familiar gleefully dies to help the cause. (target creature -1/-1 , Manifest a card and draw a card respectively). While the exploit cards Qarsi Sadist , Silumgar Sorcerer ,Gurmag Drowner and Sidisi's Faithful were all too happy to exploit them. Sidisi's Faithful is a particular favorite because it is Unsummon on a stick. If you were not able to exploit any creatures it puts an early stop to Dash Shenanigans because of its 0/4 butt. 

Speaking of Dragonlord Silumgar , he was the powerhouse of this deck along with Silumgar's Command.For once I was able to support cards that supported my Seeded packs contents. Opponents became really wary of the 6th land drop because they would expect the Dragonlord to grab something on their side of the board if they their creatures did not have Hexproof. Dragonlord Silumgar was able to win the game for me a total of 4 times because almost all the time I would be able to control something big and attack with it. 

Silumgar's Command proved to be a strong card as well as it delayed or outright eliminated creatures on the battlefield. Most of the time players were able to breathe a sigh of relief when they were able to put 2 massive blockers on the board until they get a key removal card. Silumgar's command takes care of the hope and repays it with Ruthlessness. 

Midnight Pre Release events are always great no matter what the outcome , Heeding the voice of Silumgar and spreading of Ruthlessness turned out to be more fun than I could ever imagine. Now on to Standard Pauper and maybe a Monoblack Standard deck. Brewing time.


Thanks to my opponents Joshua . Ren and Paolo(tama ba?)...Kay Van Mamokhan di na ako magpapasalamat kasi nagulpi talaga ako....Di man lang nakapalag hahaha.

Gmasters Thank you for always providing a comfortable and safe venue for the players in the CaMaNaVa area and beyond. More power Boss Alvin and Boss Archie!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Dragon Control: Removal , Dragons of Tarkir Edition"

"Dragon Control: Removal , Dragons of Tarkir Edition"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr.

The skies of Tarkir are now filled with dragons and not much of the plane remains untouched by them. In the Pre release this coming week end you would find yourself facing these monstrosities more and more because of their abundance and with the inclusion of mana ramping spells and dragon enabling creatures( Dragonlord's Servant) in this expansion they are much easier to cast.

So how does a Planeswalker like you survive and win in a plane filled with Dragons? By mastering the ways that you could control or destroy them of course. Defeating Dragons could be easy if you only know how.


Deathbringer Regent.The most obvious way of defeating Dragons is with other Dragons. Deathbringer Regent for example just simply kills everything else once it hits the battlefield from your hand.(and if there are five other creatures in play of course). The 7 mana cost is a bit expensive but you would be glad to have it in your hand when your opponent is threatening to "Overkill" you with 4 dragons already on the field. 

Minister of Pain.Basically exploits a creature and does a Mini-Silumgar impression by giving your opponents creatures a -1/-1. Goodbye Hordeling outburst , Raise the Alarm  , Secure the Wastes and Monastery Mentor tokens! You could also say Goodbye Delver if it hasn't transformed yet. Then again that is for another day.(and another format.focus focus!)

Silumgar Assasin is one of those Megamorph cards that you would want to have.Hmmm Megamorph it's like you were about to unleash a giant only you don't. At least when he does get turned face up he could kill a power 3 or less creature your opponent controls. Not enough to kill a dragon(except Shieldhide Dragon) but there are still some pretty nasty things with that power and toughness. Like a hidden dragon slayer or another Morphed card. 

Silumgar's Butcher.So we have an assassin and then we simply have a butcher.Silumgar butcher exploits a creature and gives a target creature a -3/-3. Takes care of most of the creatures in the limited format. Perfect for the PR but still remains to be seen if Exploit will be as good in Standard.(EDH welcomes it though).

Death Wind(like someones constipated Fart) will kill something at Instant Speed and it does so by giving -X/-X on a creature , indestructible creatures beware! However the only draw back is that you need to have enough mana to use this spell. You have to at least have 5 mana available to kill a "basic" 4/4 Dragon.

Defeat isn't really a removal spell for dragons but it does take care of creatures like Dragon Whisperer and Dragonlord's Servant that either produces dragons of enables your opponents to put more dragons on the battlefield(as in the Formidable ability of Dragon Whisperer).2 mana to kill a power 2 or less creature. Fantastic.And at common too.

Flatten just Flat out kills a dragon for you , well at least the "basic" ones that have a 4/4 frame. It doesn't kill any of the Dragonlords , Ojutai has Hexproof and the rest are just plain too tough but it does kill almost all the others including the "Lieutenant dragons" and Rock Dragons from the monuments.At instant speed it is best to include this a deck that has a splash of black.

Foul-Tongue Invocation is actually good without even revealing a dragon from your hand but it is better when you do show a dragon for 2 reasons. You have managed to gain 4 life and you have shown your opponent that you are not empty in the threat in the department because you could cast your Dragon when you have the mana available. Oh and that is not good news if you were able to let them sacrifice their best creature. 3 mana instant with a sacrifice effect. Great!

Self-inflicted wound hits White and Green creatures.A one sided advantage for the Silumgar(Blue/Black) and Kolaghan(Black/Red). It is a great removal against those who are running Atarka , Ojutai and Dromoka colors.In standard those who play the wedge colors of Abzan , Temur ,  Jeskai and Mardu are vulnerable to this spell since the strongest creatures in those clans have White or Green mana costs in them. I could see a lot of Sultai players smiling(And like Silumgar hoarding this card). Oh and Yes(to answer that Cardboard Crack question could it kill Siege Rhino?)...this could kill Siege Rhino. For 2 mana. Albeit at Sorcery speed.Well they can't make it any better than that otherwise it won't be in the uncommon slot. 

Ultimate Price is reprinted here for all those Monocolored creatures. In an block where the strongest cards are Dual or Wedge colored Wizards thinks that it is safe to bring out. It does kill a lot of those pesky mono colored creatures including black creatures that in the past was always singled out when it comes to being removed by a Doomblade. 

Virulent plague.Creature tokens get -2/-2 permanently!(or until it is removed by Naturalize at least). I could just see myself unleashing this. I am from Team Virulence after all. Hosing down tokenators and will keep on hosing them until another better card comes along. Delays so many token strategies in standard.

Total Number of removal: 11


Dromoka Dune Caster. Have I already mentioned how annoying it is to get your big creature tapped? well if I haven't they yeah , it is pretty annoying. The Dune caster could be cast on turn one and activated on the second turn to keep on tapping Dragons and other creatures alike for as long as you have the mana. Like I said Annoying. I usually blast these type of creatures whenever I can. 

Hidden Dragon slayer seems to be jumping out of the sands to ambush a dragon and it might just work because this megamorph creature faces up to destroy a target creature with power 4 or greater that your opponent controls. The really is some fine dragonslaying right there. 

Enduring Victory. Sounds like a plan to attack Iraq or something. However this 5 to cast Instant speed killer is just a bigger and better version of Sandblast. For 5 mana not only have you destroyed an attacking or blocking creature you also Bolstered 1. 

Fate Forgotten is a great spot removal. Stops Darksteel Citadel in its tracks with instant speed but that is in standard. In limited though Fate Forgotten needs to deal with the various Enchantments that are coming out this expansion like Dragon Tempest. 

Glaring Aegis is one of those 1 to cast Aura's that benefits your creature and annoyingly taps another creature an opponent controls. Hopefully the 8/8 dragon that is about to end you. 

Pacifism. And yet another wonderful reprint. Causing a dragon not to attack or block is huge and should go without saying. But I said it anyway so there. One of my favorites since it used to go so well with Ethereal Armor. 

Radiant Purge , the opposite of Ultimate price this 2 to cast instant cares about Multicolored creature or enchantment cards and exiles them. The Dragonlords and their Lieutenants are highly susceptible here and is a must add for white decks.At least sideboard material.

Silkwrap. This art reminds me of the Edo Tensei zombies from Naruto being sealed away one by one. For 2 mana this is another version of Suspension Field.Only in this version it cares more about the 3 or less casting cost. Still handy to have around because there will be rush type decks in the PR. 

Surge of Righteousness , Destroys Black or Red Creatures. The Non-Kin Tree worshipping Dromoka takes advantage of this because they no longer have black creatures. In standard on the Jeskai Wedge is immune to this card and might be one of only 3 wedges to use it. 

Total Number of Removal:9


Icefall Regent is another one of those Dragons that spew ice and hold another creature at bay. For 5 mana and a comes into play Tapping ability this 4/3 dragon is worth every ounce of mana. As an added protection your opponents need to up their mana quite a bit because spells that they control that targets it cost 2 colorless mana more to cast. Tapping or Icing a creature for a few turns is very significant especially if that is the only creature that your opponent could cast.  

Profaner of the Dead is wonderful. I mean look at his Naga holding out a White walkers head. This creature cares about the toughness of the creature that it exploited. When it does Exploit(you sacrifice a creature) opponents return to their owner's hands all creature with toughness less that the exploited creatures toughness. Safe to say if you were able to Exploit an 8/8 Dragon everything else on the battlefield bounces up to their owners hands. 

Blessed Reincarnation is a blessing and a curse. The 4 to cast instant will make an opponent exile a creature they control , in exchange they get to "Proteus Staff" a creature from their own deck. It is a very situational card since you can use it on an attacker and delay the damage. Never use it on a small creature because you might end up getting a bigger problem(aka Dragon) on your hands. If you do get a bigger creature in play though this spell has Rebound and you have a second chance to remove it on your own upkeep. All you need to do is hope that the same monster doesn't pop out of the deck!

Encase in Ice is part of the 5 card cycle that aims at destroying opposing colors. Red and Green creatures are the main target here and after tapping they do not untap. The Flash helps too since you could do this on the opponents attack phase. It is a good thing that is only hoses down Red and Green creatures. Silumgar and Ojutai players will enjoy this option because of the easy two mana casting cost. 

Mirror Mockery is a card that makes sure that you have an answer to any creature attacking you. The answer is a clone of itself. Be wary of creatures with ETB effects like Silumgar Assassin.  

Ojutai's Breathe is another Ice card. Tapping a creature and making sure that it does not rise up on your opponents next untap phase. A 3 mana instant at that it takes care of opposing dragons who are on the attack and due to its rebound you could tap another creature or the same creature to prolong its Ice state. 

Reduce in Stature is only ruined because it does not have Flash otherwise itt is kind of cool to see a dragon become a 0/2 creature though. Tough luck for the dragon.

Void Squall is a 5 mana instant and it lets you bounce a non-land permanent backs to its owners hand. The Rebound helps too if you managed to miss another creature or annoying enchantment on the battlefield. Could have been better with Flash since it is already a bit overpriced at 5 mana but then again you get to bounce to Non-land permanents.

Total Number of Removal:8


Foe-razer Regent is the Fight Dragon. It has an ETB ability that lets you fight a target creature you do not control. As a bonus this 4/5 dragon encourages your creatures to fight more because if they survive the Fight ,they would then get 2 +1/+1 counters at the beginning of the next end step. 

Epic Confrontation. Due to the abundance of huge creatures in green like the new Surrak greens default removal spells coming in Fight or Boxing cards like this one. So you Target someone like Surrak , the Hunt Caller , pump it with a +1/+2 and let it deal 6 damage to a target creature you do not control. In the meantime if that player could only muster 5 points of damage Surrak could then attack after giving that creature a massive killing blow. 

Naturalize. This should become relevant since there is a cycle of Dragon Rocks. Mana producing artifacts that turn into 4/4 dragons when players have enough mana to activate them. Naturalize them before they deal any damage to you. 

Pinion Feast. A great instant card that destroys a target creature with flying. So far I haven't seen any crawling dragons so this very much spells doom for any dragon closely hovering by. Oh and you get to bolster 2 as well. Sweet. 

Total Number of removal:4


Crater Elemental. For 3 mana you get a 0/6 wall. If you have a pesky dragon problem you just need to pay 1 red mana and sacrifice this wall to deal 4 damage to that pesky dragon. If you wait for your side of the table to be full of creatures and they total up to 8 power or more. Then this defender becomes an 8/6 menace that could threaten your opponents. Up to you. Early removal or Mid to late game threat?

Dragon Tempest. Casting this on turn two while gradually building an army of dragons on your side of the boards means that you both have threats and removal as another dragon comes into play. Talk about Dragon advantage!

Lose Calm. It doesn't directly solve a creature problem but it does make your opponent pay for playing a creature card like Atarka without any way of dealing with it since they do not expect it to be dishing out damage their way. 

Rending Volley. The fastest way to deal with a White or Blue creature. 4 uncounterable damage at instant speed! Ojutai , Dromoka and Silumgar Broods beware. Kolaghan and Atarka players will surely be packing this instant. 

Roast. Another card that answers the question , could it kill Siege Rhino? 5 damage to target creature without flying. Not really a dragon killer but hey this could take out everything else that doesn't have hexproof. A 2 mana sorcery not bad. 

Sarkhan's Rage. A nod to Urza's Rage  , this 5 mana instant is meant to take everything and everyone down. 5 direct damage to a creature or player. Despite costing 5 mana this is a great improvement over other burn spells like Lava Axe. Expect some copies of this when you are facing a red player since this is at the common slot. No one will mind the 2 damage if they don't control a dragon. Chances are they would always have one in play anyway. 

Seismic rupture is just a more expensive Pyroclasm. Not a dragon killer but it does take care of a lot of tokens and dragon enablers like Dragon Whisperer. 

Tail Slash seems like a Fight card for Green but it still remains red because of its Direct Damage aspect. At Instant Speed any strong creature could swipe another creature with its tail and deal damage. Perfect for taking care of Blockers and Attackers alike. 

Vandalize. Another card just itching to destroy some Dragon Rocks. 

Total Number of removal:9

Multicolored Cards:

Dragonlord Atarka. Doing a very cool Bogardan Hellkite impersonation with an ETB effect of dealing 5 damage divided as you choose among Creatures or Planeswalkers. Atarka is surely high on a lot of players wish list right now. 

Dragonlord Silumgar. What is another way of dealing with strong creatures? Why adding them to your army of course or maybe even making them into your bling of choice. Try asking Tasigur as he swings around Silumgars scaly neck. 

Dromoka's Command.Another Fight card and rest assured when you try and fight with a Dromoka fighter you will be slamming into something very hard. 

Kolaghan's Command. Not only does it deal 2 direct damage. It also acts as a cheaper Vandalize. Dragon Rocks beware.

Silumgar's Command. Bounce a permanent. Give a target creature -3/-3. Lesser dragons quake in theirs scales at the command.

Total Number of removal:5

So there we have it. Every possible removal that you would ever need in your arsenal to survive in the dragon dominated plane of Tarkir. May your packs bring you the answers that you need. Time to kill some dragons. Let the Hunt Begin!