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.

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Change is constant

I was wondering this morning what can I do with my Delver deck when Return to Ravnica rotates in and Scars and M12 rotates out. The deck will lose most of its cards and cards that really matters like Mana Leak, Gut Shot, etc.. Almost, if not more than, 50%  of the cards will be gone. And there haven’t been a real substitute for those cards as well. I mean, you can’t really expect Ponder to be replaced by Index, wouldn’t you? And Mana Leak  can’t be replaced by one card. Of course there are two that might replace Mana Leak: Essence Scatter and Negate, and they are hard counters to add to that. But Mana Leak’s uncertainty can really screw up everything your opponent had planned even in the late game and it doesn’t care about the card type just to counter the spell.

   

The only direct replacement I am seeing as of now is Unsummon for Vapor Snag. It has the same functionality, Vapor Snag having more obviously, but it get things done. The reason why Vapor Snag is chosen over Unsummon is because of the “It’s controller loses 1 life” effect which is critical because the Delver deck needs to push damage and it needs to push it quick. And, Yes, Vapor Snag contributes to that cause. Losing that would be big, but is it that big that Delver can’t compensate for it? Personally I think the tempo the card provides is still the major advantage to the card. So replacing Vapor Snag with Unsummon is still ok.

Move on and never look back

I heard a man say once, “Move on and never look back”, which is true most of the time. But you can’t really think that you won’t look back at your deck specially if you’ve invested enough money to build it. So what you can really do is to look at what cards you will lose and what cards will be left for you to continue on. For me, I think there are really good cards left for Delver. Here are to name a few:

Creatures:

  1. Delver of Secrets
  2. Snapcaster Mage
  3. Geist of Saint Traft
  4. Restoration Angel
  5. Augur of Bolas
  6. Invisible Stalker
  7. Talrand, Sky Summoner

Spells:

  1. Negate
  2. Thought Scour
  3. Think Twice
  4. Feeling of Dread
  5. Sleep
  6. Runechanter’s Pike

That is a lot of cards left for us to play with and it’s easy to go and build a new deck that focuses on the Runechanter’s Pike direction. And that would be easy. I’ve been tinkering about this in Decked Builder for a while now since the spoilers for Return to Ravnica has arrived and I am thinking or running a deck like this:

UWR Delver Tempo
Main Deck (60 cards) Sideboard (none yet)
Delver of Secrets
Augur of Bolas
Snapcaster Mage
Geist of Saint Traft
Talrand, Sky Summoner

Runechanter’s Pike

4 Izzet Charm
Thought Scour
4 Unsummon
Feeling of Dread
Think Twice
4 Faithless Looting

4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
2 Mountain
1 Plains
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls

None as of the moment

Gold fishing seems to give me a decent 2-3 lands on the opening hand and 2-3 1cc spells. The mana has significantly improved with the reprints of the Shock Lands. The deck’s basic play is to scour through your deck via Faithless Looting, Thought Scour, Think Twice and Izzet Charm and feed Runechanter’s Pike. Unsummon, Feeling of Dread and Izzet Charm provides the tempo the deck needs to push through. With 20 spells in the deck, Delver is easy to flip. Talrand is the alternate win condition of the deck. I am thinking of substituting the Augur with Index but that is a decision I have to make during play testing. I just hope Return to Ravnica gives us more cheap draw spells or cantrips.

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….

 

Innistrad is just around the corner and today is the last FNM where Zendikar  is getting played. People are slowly moving into Innistrad and have speculated on what is the best deck. I got my hands on a few cards basically because I joined the prerelease tournament. I must say I am not that good in draft and it showed. I never won a match. But I got really good cards. I got one planeswalker which is Garruk Relentless. I wished for Lilliana but, hey Garruk is good. The thing I noticed is that in Innistrad draft, if you can play blue, play blue. Blue has a lot of trickery in draft/sealed and believe me, if you’re playing against blue, you’ll get annoyed. As for the double-faced cards (DFC), I don’t really fancy them. I tried using the checklist that was provided in each booster (or in most of the boosters as not all boosters have them) but I find them troublesome. In the end, I placed the DFCs on sleeves and just went with the flipping. It’s troublesome so I really don’t mind not playing with them if I can.

Today, my team played our first draft of a Innistrad ready deck. Going with what most people is talking, I tried Solar Flare. The reason is that because I have most of the cards and I only have to look for a few Innistrad cards to add on. That is really a relief because it will save me money. Anyway, here is the decklist I played today and later if you’ll read on, I will explain my thoughts on the cards. Pardon me for having a sloppy decklist as this is just what I will call put-all-cards-you-have-gained-during-prerelease-and-what-friends-gave-you Solar Flare deck. Ha! Ha! That was quite a name for a deck. And yeah, I already told you it was sloppy, as in literally sloppy.

Put-All-Cards-You-Have-Gained-During-Prerelease-And-What-Friends-Gave-You Solar Flare Deck
Main Deck (60 cards) Sideboard (none yet)
2 Dismember
4 Mana Leak
2 Day of Judgment
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Timely Reinforcements
2 Ponder
3 Forbidden Alchemy
3 Unburial Rites

2 Phyrexian Metamorph
2 Phantasmal Image
1 Sun Titan
1 Rune-scarred Demon
1 Grave Titan
1 Frost Titan
1 Consecrated Sphinx
4 Solemn Simulacrum
3 Snapcaster Mage

3 Plains
4 Islands
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Drowned Catacombs
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Seachrome Coasts
2 Inkmoth Nexus

None as of the moment

Now I did told you that the deck was sloppy so by now, you know I am just testing the waters with this build. I was just texted by my teammate to come up with an Innistrad ready deck so I just pulled out all cards I can carry and put up a deck. I played 3 times against UW Puresteel Paladin with Invisible Stalker and won twice having one loss due to mana screw. I also played 2 times against UB Tezzeret deck and won twice. That is a pretty impressive statistic for a sloppily constructed deck. So I am happy and will continue building this deck.

Snapcaster Mage
I only can say: “I wish I had 4 of these”.  Having these in the decks double all your spells. Plus Tiago (For you who don’t know, Snapcaster Mage is a 2007 MTG Invitational card from Tiago Chan),  has flash and can provide you an easy combat trick with another spell in hand. Do I need tell more?

Solemn Simulacrum, Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph
Solem Simulacrum fixes your mana, copied by Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph makes your deck very consistent. Of course you can copy anything but ramp + draw is pretty good.

Titans, Sphinx and Demons
The reason I chose these cards is because they are resilient against Dismember. Anything resilient against Dismember is good. Plus they are cards with lots of advantages. So who am I to deny them of play?

Ponder and Forbidden Alchemy
Dig 3, Dig 4. That’s a lot of digging and I like it very much. Forbidden Alchemy I think is so far the best digger I have encountered. Yes the flashback is a little bit high, but at least you get to dig in the later games. The drawback to putting cards to your graveyard is minimal in this deck as all the things you throw to your graveyard can be recursed back. So this card is just pure advantage.

The cards above works in synergy with one another and it’s a good thing in a deck. Cards in sync means that there is a greater consistency in winning game matches. Surely I will change this deck overtime but it’s good to see how nice it works even if it is sloppily constructed. I am so sleepy now so I will have to talk about this deck in the future posts. So stay tuned. Happy weekend guys!

Now the full Innistrad spoiler has been revealed and my excitement to the new format is growing more and more in anticipation of the cards I will be getting during the prerelease events. Here are a couple of cards I am pretty much excited about:

         

I mean these are definitely spike cards. Some of this may not make sense but if you’ve played during the time of Ravnica, and your playing a UWB deck, you’d probably know what I am thinking when I say I’m excited about these cards. Now with the cards above in mind, I would also like to play with the following M12 cards (most of them I already have):

               

And I am also considering the following cards from Scars of Mirrodin block (which I mostly have them also):

          

Now, that is a long list of cards I would like to use. Sorry for letting you scroll all the way down without any explanation to the cards above. I would explain it in a new post but for this post, I am just picking up the pool of cards I would probably use. Like what I’ve said, if you have been playing since the Ravnica block, you’d probably have a hint that I am trying to put up a Solar Flare or Solar Pox deck. Most probably I’d go with the Solar flare build as we don’t have the usual Flagstones of Trokair + Smallpox combination to begin with so Smallpox isn’t that effective.  So that being said, let’s start brewing!

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.

This time, I played this version:

UW Venser Control
Main Deck  Sideboard
3 Jace Beleren
2 Gideon Jura
2 Venser, the Sojourner
—-
7 Planeswalker

2 Spell Pierce
4 Mana Leak
3 Day of Judgment
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Into the Roil
4 Ponder
2 Spreading Seas
—-
19 Other Spells

Wall of Omens
2 Stonehorn Dignitary
3 Blade Splicer
1 Sun Titan
1 Consecrated Sphinx
—-
9 Creatures

4 Tectonic Edge
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Celestial Collonade
4 Plains
3 Islands
2 Inkmoth Nexus
—-
25 Lands

Leyline of Sanctity
Spellskite
Stonehorn Dignitary
1 Day of Judgment
3 Timely Reinforcements
3 Celestial Purge
—-
15 Cards

I just adjusted the deck to have 60 cards, switched in 2 of the basic lands to Inkmoth Nexus and tweaked the sideboard. Here is what happened:

Match 1: GWr Birthing Pod

This is a very long match as the deck my opponent is also a tool box control version. What happened is basically, I drew cards, counter his spells, he tried to cast his Birthing Pod early. I was able to counter 2 of them but the third one resolved because he has mana to pay for my Mana Leak. Then he played the normal Birthing Pod succession, Birds of Paradise to Viridian Emmisary to Blade Splicer to a 4th turn creature of his choice. It was really scary. I just prevented further progression because when ever I cast Jace Beleren, He would attack it down. He killed two of my Belerens until I drew Day of Judgment and the cycle began again. He had even cascaded into Elesh Norn which killed my Blade Splicer and turned the golems into 1/1 vanilla creatures. Luckily I drew Stonehorn Dignitary on my next turn which muted his attacks. After which I played Venser and did the combo. It took him 2 turns to cascade to Archon of Justice. I held my breath thinking he would exile the Dignitary. He didn’t but instead exiled Venser. At the back of my mind, he should target the Dignitary instead because Venser is nothing without it in play. Glad he didn’t exile it because I was able to play another Venser and pushed Venser until his emblem state.  From then on,  the rest was history. I beat him down with Gideon Jura. Game 2 was quick because we ran out of time having 5 minutes to begin the match with. With that, I won the first match.

1-0

Match 2: Valakut

I didn’t exactly remember what happened in this match as it was quick. He ramped to Primeval Titan pretty fast even if I countered his early land fetches. The most stable addition to this deck was Solemn Simulacrum. It was pretty solid because it is both a land fetch and a card draw. That enabled him to Titan into Valakut really fast. Game 1 was his.  For the next match, I boarded out the walls and Spell Pierce and placed in 4 Leyline of Sanctity.  It was very effective but he had a second plan which is Raging Ravine and Avenger of Zendikar. I was able to stop it with Stonehorn Dignitaries but Venser was no where around. I was waiting for Day of Judgment on my next draw but wasn’t able to draw one so I conceeded knowing the pain 11 plant tokens would make when it attacks next turn with Primeval Titan and Avenger of Zendikar around.

1-1

Match 3: Big Red

I thought he was playing RDW but when he used Koth’s second ability, I knew it was Big Red. He tried to resolve via the red mana producting sorceries (forgot the name, probabaly Pyretic Ritual) Wurmcoil Engines, but I have Mana Leak in hand to counter the Wurms. And when Wurms resolve, I got the Stonehorn + Venser Combo and an attacking Gideon every turn.  That was game 1. Game 2, he was only able to play 4 lands for the rest of the game, which made my Spell Pierce and Mana Leaks lethal. He was able to cast Goblin Guide which attacked me until I was at 14 but I managed to get rid of it via an Oblivion Ring and was able to setup a quick Venser + Blade Splicer combo. This game is for me.

2-1

Final Match: Red Deck Wins

At first I though the deck he was using is a Splinter Twin deck because he played Scalding Tarn on his first turn. But he cracked for a mountain and used it to cast Goblin Guide. This made me think a little until I figured out this is not Splinter Twin but RDW. The realization occurred to me when he cast Stormblood Berserker on the next turn and Chandra’s Phoenix on the next.  It came fast because of the evasion of Stormblood Berserker.  Next round, I sided Leyline of Sanctity and luckily it was on my initial hand.. Voila! Free Leyline. But he resolved a Koth and was able to push it until it’s emblem state. Where was Oblivion Ring and Celestial Purge when I needed them?! Anyways, we continued on, and I kept delaying the inevitable with Timely Reinforcements. It bought  me the chance to pull whatever I can to win the match twice. But to no avail, I again lost to Stormblood Berserker. No Oblivion Ring, No Celestial Purge and no Day of Judgment saw my draws. I guess I ran out of luck this time. We’ll try next time though.

FINAL SCORE: 2-2 , I placed 10 out of 24. Not bad.