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I got one Dryad from the Selesnya Conclave and wanted to find a deck that would let it fit in:

At first I thought it was awesome! I really loved Savannah Lions and a 1cc 2/1 creature with no drawback is really aggressive. I though about playing it this in a deck full of Quirion Dryad, Loxodon Smiter, Centaur Healer and Thragtusk until I stopped and thought that this card is really a hoser for anything that wants to use the graveyard as a resource. Yes, that includes Snapcaster Mage. But thinking more about it, Snapcaster Mage is really awesome because of all the cheap spells way back when Phyrexian Mana is available. Now that it’s not, then Snappy wouldn’t be that awesome anymore. Of courseI can be proven wrong. But until my theory is proven otherwise, I think having a 2/1 hoser that just dies to Tragic Slip is really mediocre.

Furthermore, everyone predicted that any variant of a Zombie deck would be the tier 1 deck this coming standard and this card will not be helping us battle that deck at all. It only hoses instants and sorcery and Zombies’ strength is the ability to recur creature spells. I think printing it with a text that says “If a card would be put into the graveyard from anywhere, exile it instead” would be way too much awesome. However, printing it that way it would somehow take it to the broken side.

This card is surely one of the best cards in the old Ravnica block. A 4CC 4/4 body that gives you 4 lives and regenerates your creatures surely is a creature card you can’t ignore. I also used it as a tie breaker for the Zoo mirror during the standard season when the old Ravnica is still legal. If you are fighting with a Zoo deck way back then, you will certainly almost all of the time voluntarily lose 4 lives because of the Shock lands and in mirror matches, where a match could only last 10-15 minutes, keeping your life at 20 would definitely give you a big advantage. Unfortunately, Loxodon Heirach is not reprinted when we returned to the plane of Ravnica this year but there were some cards that to some extent came close enough.

Centaur Healer


A 3CC, 3/3 body that gains you 3 life. It’s proportional to the Heirach although placing it at common might’ve lessen the body and the life gain a bit. But still is a good card overall. I’ve had one or two of this in one of the decks I had last pre-release and I’m quite impressed. This card helped me maintain my life far from the burn range of Izzet and Rakdos. An excellent blocker at 3/3 and an even more impressive attacker. In the standard format, I would guess this would be an excellent addition to a GW deck battling against Zombie decks. The only creature big enough in “Brains” deck is Geralf’s Messenger (and Falkenrath Aristocrat) and the Centaur can deal with them in battle. You can even partner this with Restoration Angel, just for the abusive gain life shenanigans. Overall, I think this might not single handedly replace Loxodon Heirarch, but it is a card that can live to his legacy.

Loxodon Smiter

It doesn’t gain you life, it doesn’t regenerate your creature, but a 3cc 4/4 that can’t be countered is a card you can’t really get over with. Plus, it is resilient to discard effects your opponent might have. I am not sure how that ability is green or white though. The only card that reminded me of the same ability is Dodecapod which is a 4cc 3/3 creature that becomes a 5/5 when discarded. And Dodecapod is not green or white, it’s a colorless artifact! Anyways, I am not sure how that ability got in here but I think it’s because green and white are both black’s mortal enemies and discard is undoubtedly black in nature. To be honest, this card doesn’t really impress me aside from the fact that it is a 3cc 4/4 creature.  Yes, it looks like Loxodon Heirach literally because they are both Elephants but aside from the power and toughness, it doesn’t really inherit anything from the Heirarch which is a little bit sad to think. Plus it can be easily killed by Abrupt Decay. On the up side, this card could be nerve-wracking to control decks, especially the blue variant decks. So yeah, let’s just wait and see how it will play in the new Standard metagame.

Conclusion

I think Wizards did not intend for a reprint of Loxodon Heirach neither did they intended to replace it with another card. I think they are trying to shy away from reprinting anything aside from the Shock Lands. But until we get to the third set, we can’t really tell what they are up to. Wizards has been pulling various stunts lately, the latest of which is the Return to Ravnica prerelease and they pulled it successfully I think. It’s the first time I’ve played in two prerelease flights since I started playing Magic. And the players in our local stores are enjoying it as well. And I also saw some new players in the store too. And I’ve been playing against them in the prerelease not bashing them but in fact teaching them how to play Magic. It was really nice. Anyways, I hope something comes along the lines of Loxodon Heirarch in “Sinker”, otherwise, I am still ok getting all the new cards in the set. And I am starting to like Selesnya as a guild.

Nivmagus Elemental. 

I am not sure if I’m excited about this or not but I decided I will take a look at this and blog til I don’t want to blog about this anymore. This is, of course, not a rant entry but rather a deep analysis on the card.

I’ve been thinking about this card since this morning not just because I am anticipating something BLUE today in the Return to Ravnica previews. I am not expecting much but I still wanted to see some good blue spells that would be previewed. Benefit of the doubt, there will be in the future. But…ok…we got this.

From the Comprehensive Rules, it states:

111.1. A spell is a card on the stack. As the first step of being cast (see rule 601, “Casting Spells”), the card becomes a spell and is moved to the top of the stack from the zone it was in, which is usually its owner’s hand. (See rule 405, “Stack.”) A spell remains on the stack as a spell until it resolves (see rule 608, “Resolving Spells and Abilities”), is countered (see rule 701.5), or otherwise leaves the stack. For more information, see section 6, “Spells, Abilities, and Effects.”

 

So yes, we still have to play the instant or sorcery spell. While it’s on the stack (while it is still a spell), you could then activate the ability of the Nivmagus Elemental and pay the cost by “exiling” the instant  or sorcery spell you played in the stack. To exile the instant or sorcery is a cost and not an effect so before the ability of the Nivmagus Elemental gets to the stack, the instant or sorcery gets removed first. Then when the ability resolves, you get the two +1/+1 counters for Nivmagus.


Artful Dodge is nice and it will make your Nivmagus unblockable and the flashback can feed him. But Arftful Dodge is a spell that you can afford to feed him by. If you are going to go the aggro route, would you rather let Nivmagus chump up a Searing Spear rather than burn your opponents in the face or kill an opposing creature with it? I don’t think so. The two +1/+1 counter is very tempting, but I have to say no because basically Nivmagus has no defense on him. He is not hexproof or indestructible. He can be bounced by or get killed by any other kill spell there is, and sad but true, it can happen anytime after you’ve invested too much and fed him a lot.

111.1a A copy of a spell is also a spell, even if it has no card associated with it.
111.1b Some effects allow a player to cast a copy of a card; if the player does, that copy is a spell as well.

 

Great! So I don’t have to feed him good spells but instead feed copies of the spell. Nah. No thanks.
I think for a blue mage, it wouldn’t be possible  even if you’re going the aggro route. You need to have mana open for spells that you could play on your opponent’s turn.. like counter spells. Oh, there is no good counter spells in RTR? Again my friend, benefit of the doubt. There is atleast one good spell in the form of Izzet Charm riding in the same colors as Nivmagus. Let’s just hope there’s something out there coming.

Moving on, doing a quick “copy spell” inquiry in the gatherer, I found 4 spells that can copy anything. They are blue and red. No other colors have the same effect. Here they are:

   

We can scratch Crackling Counterpart because it copies creatures (unless you want me to go on and say that you can feed that to Nivmagus). Copying a spell is mana intensive. Let me do the math:

  1. Reverberate – Cast an instant or sorcery spell, copy using reverberate to feed the copy to Nivmagus. Total cost:  Cost of instant or sorcery + RR. So if you cast say Searing Spear (1R) + Reverberate (RR), your cost is 1RRR to either deal 3 damage to your opponent’s head or to his creature and get two +1/+1 counter to Nivmagus which you can attack for 3, or 1RRR to get four +1/+1 counter to Nivmagus and attack for 5.
  2. Increasing Vengeance– Again, using the same logic above but this time using Increasing Vengeance to copy Searing Spear, you could:
    1. Pay 1RRR  to either deal 3 damage to your opponent’s head or to his creature and get two +1/+1 counter to Nivmagus which you can attack for 3 or
    2. Pay 1RRR to get four +1/+1 counter to Nivmagus or
    3. Pay 3RR, after A or B resolves, to deal another 3 damage to your opponent’s head or to his creature and two +1/+1 counter on Nivmagus or
    4. Pay 3RR, after A or B resolves, to put four +1/+1 counter on Nivmagus or
    5. and so on… and so forth…

Do the same calculations for Spelltwine. Get my point? The point is, you would have to spend ridiculous amount of mana just to copy spells and feed to Nivmagus. I don’t think it is worth it.

So at this point, I am not closing the door to our friend here, but until I find a more compelling reason to play it, I would let him move around the sides a bit.

BOOM!

And I thought, there is going to be an Izzet walker in Return to Ravnica.

The first thing that came into my mind this morning upon seeing this card is “______________________.”   That is not a whale, if you know what I mean. My mind halted, froze and almost went into a coma. I wanted a planeswalker that can protect itself like Gideon Jura but I never expected that planeswalker to be a GB. Seriously. For a second, I thought I really forgotten all the basics of the color wheel.

But thinking about it more closely, the first ability makes sense. It’s like the Deathtouch mechanic we see in most of the creatures in green and black.  And you need a creature with a power of 6 on the initial attack to kill Vraska along side the sacrificed creature.That really is an real heck of an ability.

The second ability is what I strongly like about this new planeswalker. It doesn’t stop at destroying creatures at it’s first ability, but blatantly says, “Ok, it you don’t attack, I’ll destroy you instead.” Mother of Assassins! Moreover, it doesn’t say “creature” but “nonland permanent”. It’s a miniature Maelstorm Pulse,  and a weaker version of Putrefy or  Vindicate. Nonetheless, it is crazy!

The third ability is ok for me. I mean, three 1/1 creature tokens that kills you when they hit is really scary, but they are still tokens and more, they are 1/1s. But I am not saying they’re not great, they are not “broken”. I think that’s the right thing to say there. If you could somehow protect those tokens, say a spell that says they are indestructible or has hexproof or unbounce-able, then they are great!

Needless to say, I would really like to get my hands on this card still. Although, I am really not sure what deck to build around it. Probably a Golgari Zombie deck will do. I might do a little more thinking.

I has been a long time since I’ve last updated this blog. I was really busy these past few days and I haven’t been playing at all for months now. I have built a Delver deck since two months ago but have been able to play it only twice in an FNM event. It really is hard to pilot given I haven’t been playing with it a lot. But, it does have a lot of promise. You will feel it the first time you play it. And you’ll probably get the reason why it has been on top of the most tournaments. Nah, I am not writing about Delver decks. However, I might write something up in the following days.

For now, I am just updating this blog and admiring this charm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why am I excited about this card?

  1. It has a relatively low casting cost  – UR is very achievable, now that Steam Vents will be reprinted and Sulfur Falls still legal. Mana fixing can never be sweeter when he new block arrives.
  2. It can easily be “snapcasted” – Snapcasted might not be a real word but I know you get what I mean.
  3. You can kill lots of creatures – Silverblade Palladin, Diregraf Ghoul, Huntmaster of the Fells, Delver of Secrets, Master of the Pearl Trident,  Talrand Sky Summoner, to name a few, and many more…
  4. 2cc Spell Pierce is not bad – Considering you can still screw their plan as early as turn 2 if you are playing first.
  5. Cycling cards are always good – Yes you draw two and you discard two. Discard? Yes, and depending on your deck, this might be good. I am thinking Devler will have another way to feed the Pike other that Thought Scour. And yes, I am playing Delver so I am really good with this.
  6. The more the merrier – You got 3 choices, what more can you ask for? One or two choices might be situational, and the “deal damage to target creature” would be best if it is “deals to damage to target creature or player”, but hey! You have three choices still. And that is better than having just one.
  7. It’s an instant – You can ask around, but all blue players will tell you that casting spells at your opponent’s turn is paramount in any blue deck. It’s an advantage you can’t give up.

We’ll that’s it for me today. I have to hit the sack and dream about RTR! I am really so excited, I broke down my Delver deck and prepared for post rotation deck building. Maybe I could write about that in my next entry. Hmm….

 

I have not blogged for some time now. I have been very busy with work that playing magic seems near to impossible so for today I am not blogging about FNM tournaments as I have not joined one in a while… probably two to three weeks. And also, we haven’t play tested a lot lately. I’ve played an experimental post-rotation deck UWB which focuses on creature control and disruption three weeks ago in an FNM tourney and went 2-2 again. I lost to an Infect deck and a Monored Goblin deck. The deck seems ok but without the M11 and Zendikar components, it lacks something. Maybe I have to wait for Innistrad to come. We may never know what it will bring us. So far, 99 of 264 cards have been spoiled and some there are some cards that caught my attention – primarily blue cards. Anyways I went back and revisited my post-banning CAW Blade deck and thought about what it might looked like post-Zendikar/M11 rotation. There are a couple of cards it will lose and a couple that might replace it but here are my thoughts about those cards:

 

           

Squadron Hawk to be replaced by Invisible Stalker. 

First, CAW-Blade can’t be called CAW blade if it doesn’t have the hawks. I don’t think the Invisible  Stalker “caws” for that matter. The good thing about Squadron hawks is that when you cast it, it calls the other hawks. And based from my playtesting and tournament plays, I survive early beatings because I can let the hawks fight one to one against my opponents’ early beats confident, I have another one to play later. Plus, it “thins the deck”. Moreover, it is “flying”  – so in reality, it rarely gets block when it attacks with the swords making sure damage comes through. That’s a hell of an advantage. Losing it post rotation deals pain in the deck. Although, Invisible stalker may provide some advantage over the hawks. They walk, but they are unblockable and they have “hexproof”! Meaning, you can attach your swords, attack and get the damage through nice and easy without your opponents playing any shenanigans over them like Into the Roil. This almost guarantee you get the damage delivered. But the thing is, the hawks can trade with other guys and you still have the guarantee you have another hawk in your hand. The invisible  stalker doesn’t do that. When you trade a fight and lose, you lose them. So I am partial with this replacement.

 

            

Celestial Colonnade replaced by Inkmoth Nexus entirely

Well, Celestial Colonnade and Inkmoth Nexus can both be Tectonic Edged or Ghost Quartered. They both turn to flying creatures but Colonnade is a 4/4 that doesn’t tap and Inkmoth is a 1/1 infect that taps. When you attack with Colonnade, you still have 1 mana to spare on counterspell whereas Nexus doesn’t give you that. The only advantage I can see with Nexus is that it kills your opponent quicker and it activates really cheap. Other than that, there really isn’t anything I can tell. Hopefully in the next few days, Innistrad would give us a man-land (or I may be dreaming)

 

   

Preordain and Ponder

Preordain – I don’t know really what can this be replaced with. I mean, yes we have Ponder, but what I don’t like about it is the shuffle effect if you don’t like what you saw. Preordain gives us the benefit of choosing between the cards before we go random. Ponder,doesn’t. What will replace this? I don’t know yet.

   

Tectonic Edge replaced by Ghost Quarter

To be honest, the reprinting of Ghost Quarter excited me. Now, the wait for the 4-land requirement is no more! I can destroy my opponent’s land immediately. Yes, the search a basic land card seems like a draw back, but having destroyed an opponent’s dual land and having him search for the basic land of his choice tells you what colors he rely heavy on. Information is power. Plus on the up side, if you need another color you can trade of your land with another land that provides you with the color you need. In most cases this may be a bad idea but if you really need that colored mana, why not?

 

      
Jace Beleren to be replaced by Azure Mage

Hmm… not really sure about this.Yes, Azure mage lets you draw repeatedly but a planeswalker is still a planeswalker. No matter how easy Jace dies, he let’s you draw cards and sometimes provide you a fog effect against attacks. Azure mage doesn’t do that and it dies easily to any removal spell like Incinerate or Dismember. Anyway, I have to playtest with this first. And yes, don’t talk to me about using the new Jace…. 1UU is very far from 3UU.

So to conclude, I honestly don’t think CAW-Blade will survive. But it will transform into a new deck. Remember, we still have the swords, Gideon Jura, Timely Reinforcements, Dismember, Day of Judgment, Oblivion Ring and other cards that are not rotating. We just have to think hard on how this deck will tranform. Until all of Innistrad is revealed, we can never tell how far this deck will transform. For now, I am just content that blue has a new ally in the form of:

 

We will talk about this when I get my hands on it. So stay tuned.