This is Why Thassa the Blue God Is Best Theros God

2U.
3 CMC is a huge deal, especially since it means that she will always appear 1 turn earlier than her contemporaries. Also, if you play blue enough and you feel that urge to keep 2 mana in reserve, I don’t have to tell you about the difference between 5 lands and 6 lands.

Always on power – Every upkeep Scry 1.
Unlike the other 4 Gods, fixing your draw every turn is universally good. Lets compare with the other Gods’ always on abilities:

Purphoros – A creature ETBs, shock something
Whoa, an extra 0.75 card’s worth of value every time you make a creature? This is really awesome, except that some decks (Standard decks no less) have less than 10 creatures.

Erebos – Opponents cannot gain life
Shuts down irritating life gain from Sphinx’s Revelation and Blood Baron, but some decks, particularly the ones profiting from Purphoros would not care about it.

Nylea – All your creatures get trample, except Nylea herself.
Apparently she finds chumps annoying enough to get distracted with them. But anyway, if you are running a deck that (ab)uses Purphoros, trample shouldn’t be a high priority for you.

Heliod – All your creatures get vigilance, except Heliod himself.
What’s with these guys and not buffing themselves? Slightly more useful than trample, but once again, not every deck will care. Also, his other ability is pretty spiffy for both Purphoros abusers and control decks alike. I thought this guy would be more expensive than Nylea, but apparently the market is what it is: mostly moronic during prerelease weekend.

Activated ability – Can’t touch (block) this!
Funnily enough, Thassa is the only God that can guarantee her own damage in combat. Needless to say, this is all sorts of wrong, except that you cannot make your Sword of Fire and Ice carrier unblockable.

That being said, all the activated abilities of the other 4 Gods are almost as good. Nylea’s seem to be the worst one at first glance, except that it works quite well with Selesnya Charm’s exile mode and she makes your bear a 4/4 trampling menace.

More stuff to think about: Thassa’s synergy with other cards that bear her name.

Bident of Thassa
This thing turns every creature you have into an ophidian. Thassa makes them unblockable. Profit.

Thassa’s Emissary
A 3/3 crab with ophidian card draw. Can also enchant. Thassa makes them unblockable. Yay.

Although, all the Gods with their weapons in play are pretty sick anyway. Trampling deathtouch? Vigilant 3/2 tokens? Creature ETB, kills a blocker, then swings (Not to mention, turns land flood into more creatures)? Lifelinking creatures to offset greed? Pretty sweet to be sure.

Conclusion
As usual, card prices would reflect which card gets used more. But here’s the thing: Thassa fits everywhere, but would be at most a 3 of in any deck. As for me, I’ve already got my copy for my Progenitus EDH. Looking for the foil would be a pain in the butt, to say nothing about the price.

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Things to Look out for When Playing in the Theros Prerelease

So, it’s been day 1 at the Theros prerelease and it’s been a really cool set so far. All the fears about being forced to go mono-colour are thrown out the window and devotion is a really strong mechanic, even when found in small amounts. However, since there’s still day 2, here’s a small analysis of the cards you are going to be getting from the prerelease packs-namely the prerelease promo cards:

White – The Path of Honor

Celestial Archon
This super efficient flyer with exxxtra value seems to be the only one with bombiness issues. His board presence is somewhat similar to Serra Angel except that if you flood, you can make another guy become bomby instead. Seems good, right? Except that in my experience he needs other cards in order to make him break the game and he’s vulnerable to enchant removal which are so common in Theros, it’s depressing.

Verdict: Don’t bank on him to be your bomb. If you are lucky, the pack should contain something more bomb-worthy like the 100 hand kung-fu monster or not-Mirran Crusader.

Blue – The Path of Wisdom

Shipbreaker Kraken
They should call this card differently. Maybe Tentacled Violation or Backbreaker Kraken. When you play blue, most of your best creatures are at the higher end of the mana cost spectrum, and so you would have a lot of cards to help you survive until you hit 5 lands. Things like Voyage’s End and Griptide and Scrycancel. And so, unlike Mr I-Die-To-Destructive-Revelry, when you pay 4UU to cast this 6/6 badass (I recommend doing this while you are at 7 lands and scryed for an 5th), you are right on curve. Then, 2 lands later, when your opponent taps out to cast some silly chump blocker from your earlier swings, you make arm waving motions (you know, like tentacles), tap his blockers and swing for 10.

And if you are anything like a blue player, you would have first made sure to have exhausted your opponent’s deck of removals before doing it. The fun thing is that on the way to 6 mana, you would have dropped some other fun threats like value-Wind Drake to eat up his Divine Verdicts.

Verdict: Best bomb among all the 5 colours. Blue also happens to have a ridiculous amount of flyers. And creature bounce is ridiculous as a removal now that it shuts down Heroic decks almost single handedly. Especially those annoying green ones.

Black – The Path of Ambition

Abhorrent Overlord
I have encountered this guy in two decks so far. When cast alone, he’s a pretty decent 3 turn clock. If you made your deck around Devotion to Black, he’s basically your scoop condition. Never mind that he’s *only* a 6/6 flyer. Those bloody 1/1 flyers he spawns with will be a problem, and quickly. The only thing I have seen that will stop this monster in its tracks is a Spellheart Chimera and a graveyard full of removals. That and a Monstrous Shipbreaker Kraken.

But yes, Devotion to Black is very viable, if a little dickish.

Verdict: Solid, would beat the white one in a fight. But no, I didn’t play with one, only gotten my face beaten in with one, so I can’t really say much about it.

Red – Path of Battle

Ember Swallower
A large (for red anyway) red creature that actually beats the vanilla rule? Destroy 3 lands when it becomes 7/8? I once won a match with this guy simply because I was on 7 lands and he was on 6 when this adorable doggie turned huge. There’s really nothing much else he could do with 3 lands (He wasn’t blue, so he couldn’t bounce him) and the opponent could only watch as I declared feeding time on his remaining chump blocker and swung for the win.

The fun thing with this guy is that with red, you typically max out at 4 lands anyway and he comes in just in time. Then, when you flood a little, pay the mana and drop everyone’s lands.

Of course, if you picked red, you are most likely in it to get Purphoros.

Green – The Path of… Uhh, I Didn’t Pay Enough Attention to this one. Sorry.

Anthousa, Setessan Hero
I have not seen her in action. And making your lands become 2/2 fodder sounds like suicide or useless if you had to tap out to enchant her. However, swinging for 10 on turn 6 sounds like a good deal. One thing’s for sure though: You will see her coming. Her two friends are infinitely more threatening:

Centaur Battlemaster and Staunch Hearted Warrior
These two guys, oh my Gods, where do I start? If you see someone tap out to cast Centaur Battlemaster, your only hope is to Lightning Strike it before he resolves the Ordeal of <Whomever> on it. Secondly, if you have 8 life and you see either one of these guys come at you, just chump it. When I was running them, I wasn’t above shooting them with Lightning Strike to pump them further. Once again, Voyage’s End and Griptide figures into this conundrum quite neatly as you would actually be taking out all those other cards when you bounce them.

Lets not talk about green monstrous creatures as they are all just plainly good. So there.

Verdict: Green asks your opponent: Got removal? Constantly. While snarling. And looking hungry.

4 Tips for M14 Limited

Preamble: This article is based on the emotional impressions gained from 3 rounds of prerelease sealed deck.

M14. No, not the famous battle rifle. It’s the latest set to come out of WotC’s Magic department. The prerelease was just over, so here’s what I learnt about it when it comes to Limited formats.

1) Mono colours will rule Limited

For whatever reason, WotC decided to go almost entirely mono coloured with this set. With tons of double coloured mana requirements and only what, 5 cards that fix mana (3 of them are green), you would do well to keep to as few colours as possible. This is a departure from almost 2 years of multicoloured drafting that started with Innistrad’s easy mana costs and ended with Dragon’s Maze’s typical 4 colour madness.

That and WotC decided to make each colour able to stand on their own.

Blue’s tempo game is ridiculously good with three counterspells, disperse, and time ebb. Then recur them with Archaeomancer and end with the Colossal Whale. In the meantime, beat with Phantom Warrior and assorted flying creatures. One of the rounds I played blue splashed with 3 white cards for hard removal. It was surprisingly good.

Red is all about the Chandra’s Outrage and Flames of the Firebrand. Shock is okay, but does not carry enough value per card. Windmill slam Chandra and watch as her 0 ability wins you the game single handedly (remember to activate before you drop land). Also, Wild Guess is another awesome card in limited just because of land pitching. And of course, Legacy’s new Will it? Won’t it? card: Young Pyromancer. This guy is good because he enables removal heavy builds. The ginormous amount of value he brings to a typical red deck in Limited cannot be overstated. Kill/bounce/draw and make a new guy. He’s like Chandra 4.0’s best friend.

Then green has large efficient bombs, not one but two(!) value bears, surprise buttsecks, and an enchantment that makes everything you do create xxtra value. Black has Sengir “Perennial” Vampire, Doomblade, and irritating flyers with deathtouch. And white has Got Counterspell? in addition to all its usual efficient spot removals and tappers and Serra Angel.

All that’s good and all. What this means is that you have to pay a lot more attention to what you are drafting. Perhaps this would be a good time to learn the “how to tell who is drafting what colour” skill.

2. Beware of Scavenging Oozes. On the other hand, if you are using one, don’t cast it on the second turn.

3. Disperse and Time Ebb are some of the best removals in the game now that Auras are so powerful. Also: Elite Arcanist. Nothing sucks more than getting your Elite Arcanist Time Ebbed. Also also: Scavenging Oozes. Also also also: Key sliver creatures. The list goes on.

4. Second pick Trollhide. Seriously. Or first pick if there’s no bomb in the pack.

3 Ways to Maximise EDH

EDH is the mostest wonderfullest format in Magic. Except when it’s too easy for you to win.

You see, EDH unlike most other popular formats in Magic started because people realised that buying Magic boosters will yield a lot of extra rares that are singletons in their collection (And are thus mostly unusable in regular formats) and they decided to throw them all into a deck and called the whole format Elder Dragon Highlander after the cycle of Elder Dragon Legends in the Legends set.

Regular EDH play is:
– >2 players
– everyone has 40 life

As such, the whole point of EDH is probably not to:

– win on the third turn via infinite combo
– grief the other players by crippling them and win using a really small creature
– deny resources either by nuking lands or discarding their entire hand of cards

Legit tactics, of course. But like with most people who play D&D and similar system driven RPGs, the whole point is not to “win” in the traditional sense. You don’t get points for winning (Getting into an EDH tournament is your own damned fault) and how you win is certainly more important than you actually winning.

You see, when the whole idea is to have fun, you really don’t want to make everyone shuffle a 99 card deck after playing for four turns. I mean, what’s the point? It’s like the guy who sneaks into his party’s backpacks and steals their shit. Great, you had fun. But at what cost? At what cost?

So, before you get into a situation where everyone on the table rolls their eyes whenever you cast that spell, here are some pointers you might want to consider adopting when building your own EDH deck:

1) NO Infinite combos!
’nuff said. Well actually, the long version is that it means that the only way to block these combos from instantly ending the game is to have a counterspell or that one card that stops the whole thing at the correct time. What would you rather do? Spend that card slot to make your deck more awesome or spend that slot on a card that hoses a specific strategy on the off chance that the person randomly draws that one silly card?

2) NO douchey resource denial.
Green and red decks, I am looking at you. Vorinclex, Blood Moon, Armageddon, Numot the Devastator, and the Strip Mine/Wasteland and Crucible of Worlds combo are some of the more egregious examples. Yes, they all have something to do with land denial. You can take out the mana rocks. You can take out the mana mooks. But lands shouldn’t be prevented from doing their thing. Because nothing’s more unfun than drawing and discarding due to having 8 cards in your hand. Actually, there is. It’s the faint hope of drawing a land during the draw phase for the nth turn.

3) Make sure your turns finish ASAP
Did you know that they banned Second Sunrise in Modern because it took too long for that guy to finish all his actions? Did you also know that Sensei’s Divining Top is banned in French EDH circles for the same reason?

Well, just in case you are wondering, having a fun deck is a huge advantage. You see, EDH isn’t standard and people usually don’t have to guess what your deck has after the first time (unless it’s sufficiently random) so what happens when you play Blood Moon that one time? Do you think they will conveniently forget that you have it?

You see, if there’s anything you should get out of reading this is that you should realise that people usually target and kill all the unfun and overpowered decks first.

8 Tips for New Magic The Gathering Players

There has been a proliferation of new Magic: The Gathering players lately. And much like life, where there’s a whole range of reasons why they got in.

Whether you are in it because of boys or whether you are in it because your friends are in it, the game is very brutal when you play with experienced players. Y’know, like DOTA.

Fortunately, there are a few quick tips to shorten the whole learning process, since Magic is a rather complex game with many nuances. Here’s a list of skills you want to practice on first:

(A caveat: I am not going too deep into why you want to learn these things first. Just take them as they are, for now)

1) Do everything in the last possible minute
– Put everything you learnt about procrastination in college into Magic. Cast Instants and Flash spells during your opponent’s last end step, if possible. Cast non-flash creatures during your second main phase. Activate your activated abilities last. Remember: in Magic, whatever gets declared last gets resolved first.

2) Remember that number of cards is the most important resource
– Yes, life loss causes game loss. However, this is why Wrath of God (or, if you are young enough, Supreme Verdict) is such a powerful card and why Sphinx’s Revelation is so expensive. Remember: Pay attention to how many cards of an opponent a single card causes to go into the graveyard. (Awkward English, I know.)

3) Statistics is the name of the game
– It really doesn’t matter what a certain card combo did in that one round. What you should be more interested in is how many other decks can that combo beat. Additionally, don’t feel discouraged if you lost 3 rounds out of 3. Only start to doubt your strategy after the 10th or 15th round. Remember: Think in terms of percentages and likelihood, not whether one card “handles it”.

4) Don’t scoop
– Play until you lose all your life or your cards. The reasons are twofold: You may be in a stronger position than you think; You want to learn what else his deck has so that you can sideboard against it. This is particularly important in tournaments. You can of course ignore this if your opponent seems to derive particular pleasure from tapping and untapping his own stuff over and over and over…

5) Have a budget
– Just because a card looks expensive doesn’t mean you can’t afford it. Decide early on how much money you are going to sink into the hobby. If you are running on a limited allowance, just keep it slow and plan out which cards you are going to save for. Whatever you do, do not crack loose boosters just for a chance to get a specific card that you want. Cracking boosters in bulk, however, is more economically and statistically feasible. Remember: Always think long term. Don’t gamble unless you are okay with throwing your money away.

6) Always draft for Rare pick
– Do not ever play regular drafts where you get to keep the rares you picked. Well, you can but your tuition fee will be way higher since you would have a much diminished motivation to not suck.

7) Remember to have fun in casual formats
– What this means is that when building an EDH deck, you would do well to remember that the whole point of EDH (Okay, fine. Commander) is to have casual fun. What does this mean? Just don’t be a douche. The in-complete douche list will be in a future post. Save your competitive edge (Or as they call it where I come from: Kiasuness) for the tourneys.

8) Don’t be too lazy to understand the cards
– This is very common with new players, myself included years ago. Sometimes when you are faced with a card with 3 point fonts, your eyes just glaze over and just give up trying to understand them. Remember: Even if you don’t understand after the third explanation, you can always ask what destroys or nullifies it.