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Top 10 Alara Non-Rare

I am a fan of ManaNation and as such, try to watch every video episode (although somewhat irregular of late!). Episdoe #50 (link HERE), Trick Jarrett and Lee Steht of ManaNation present their opinions of the top 10 Non-Rare draft picks for Shards of Alara.

I will concede that I am mostly in agreement with the assessment of these gentlemen.

These are in no order what-so-ever (other than alphabetical)

Blightning, 1br
Sorcery, Common
Blightning deals 3 damage to target player. That player discards two cards.

Bloodpyre Elemental, 4r
Creature - Elemental, Common
Sacrifice Bloodpyre Elemental: Bloodpyre Elemental deals 4 damage to target creature. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.

Executioner's Capsule, b
Artifact, Common
1{B}, {T}, Sacrifice Executioner's Capsule: Destroy target nonblack creature

Fatestitcher, 3u
Creature - Zombie Wizard, Uncommon
{T}: You may tap or untap another target permanent.
Unearth {U}

Magma Spray, r
Instant Common
Magma Spray deals 2 damage to target creature. If that creature would be put into a graveyard this turn, remove it from the game instead.

Oblivion Ring, 2w
Enchantment, Common
Oblivion Ring
When Oblivion Ring comes into play, remove another target nonland permanent from the game.
When Oblivion Ring leaves play, return the removed card to play under its owner's control.

Qasali Ambusher, 1gw
Creature - Cat Warrior, Uncommon
If a creature is attacking you and you control a Forest and a Plains, you may play Qasali Ambusher without paying its mana cost and as though it had flash.

Vithian Stinger, 2r
Creature - Human Shaman Common
{T}: Vithian Stinger deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
Unearth 1{R}

Wild Nacatl, g
Creature - Cat Warrior, Common
Wild Nacatl gets +1/+1 as long as you control a Mountain.
Wild Nacatl gets +1/+1 as long as you control a Plains.

Woolly Thoctar, rgw
Creature - Beast, Uncommon
The only difference between a hockey mom and a Woolly Thoctar is lipstick ! !

Until next time, Happy & Safe Gaming . . .


Magic Humour 3

This post you may find very similar in nature to this previous humourous post HERE. If you do not find these at all waggish or witty, please move along. For those of you who have not yet left, following are more Shards of Alara captions . . .

Mayael the Anima
Tidehollow Sculler

Call to Heel

Bone Splinters

Memory Erosion

As we are not taking attendance, Thanks for sticking with us . . .

Magic : The Gathering - - - SERIOUS BUSINESS !


Alara Ultimatums

I would like to expand on the recent Wizards Article "Whose Ultimatum?" earlier this week.

From One of the biggest, splashiest cycles in Shards of Alara is the five-card Ultimatum cycle. WoTC provided a look at the planeswalkers responsible for four of them. Just one Ultimatum was not addressed . . .

I suggest that the Planeswalker responsible for the cowering Grixis Demon in Cruel Ultimatum is none other than Nicol Bolas who is expected to show up in the second Shards of Alara set, Conflux.

Brilliant Ultimatum - Tezzeret the Seeker is peaking around the corner into Esper's Sanctum.

Clarion Ultimatum - Elspeth, Knight Errant is shown mounted calling Bant warriors to battle

Titanic Ultimatum - Ajani Vengeant gives a high-five to a ferocious Nactl war party in Naya.

Violent Ultimatum - Sarkhan Vol loves them Jund Goblins to pieces.

Stay tuned for more MTG goodness . . .


Magic Humour 2

Here yet is another installment of Magic : The Gathering humour, this time taken from some Shards of Alara serious-made-funny images. For the previous entry, check out this post.

Guardians of Akrasa

Sanctum Gargoyle

Fleshbag Marauder
Jungle Weaver

As this may not be particularly funny in your region of the world, I recommend that you suggest better captions via the comment form below.


Esper Artifice Video

Once again I could not make it out to Friday Night Magic hosted at my local gaming store OMG! Games so instead, I picked up a Esper Artifice Intro Pack and stayed at home playing MTG with one of the kids.

Here is a brief video dissection of the Intro Pack

What do you think of this sets Intro Packs - remember, try to judge the product as it is . . . 'an introduction to MTG and Shards'.

Also - leave your comments, I would like to hear how you would pimp this intro deck . . . what would you drop or add to it.

For your information, I have reposted this bit of reference from an earlier post.

Esper Artifice

The plane of Esper is dominated by brilliant wizards, artificers, and sphinxes who seek to control the very forces of nature through a magical alloy called etherium. Construct an army of unstoppable artifacts using the power of etherium, and dominate all who would stand in your way.

Main Deck 41 cards

2 Arcane Sanctum
Land, Uncommon
Arcane Sanctum comes into play tapped.
{T}: Add {W}, {U}, or {B} mana to your mana pool.

2 Esper Panorama
Land, Common
{T}: Add 1 to your mana pool.
1, {T}, Sacrifice Esper Panorama: Search your library for a basic Plains, Island, or Swamp card and put it into play tapped. Then shuffle your library.

7 Island 3 Plains 3 Swamp
17 lands

2 Cloudheath Drake, 4u
Artifact Creature - Drake. Common
1{W}: Cloudheath Drake gains vigilance until end of turn.

1 Esper Battlemage, 2u
Artifact Creature - Human Wizard, Uncommon
{W}, {T}: Prevent the next 2 damage that would be dealt to you this turn.
{B}, {T}: Target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

2 Etherium Sculptor, 1u
Artifact Creature - Vedalken Artificer Common
Artifact spells you play cost 1 less to play.

1 Filigree Sages, 3u
Artifact Creature - Vedalken Wizard Uncommon
2{U}: Untap target artifact.

1 Master of Etherium, 2u
Artifact Creature - Vedalken Wizard, Rare
Master of Etherium's power and toughness are each equal to the number of artifacts you control.
Other artifact creatures you control get +1/+1.

1 Sanctum Gargoyle, 3w
Artifact Creature - Gargoyle, Common
When Sanctum Gargoyle comes into play, return target artifact card from your graveyard to your hand.

1 Sharding Sphinx, 4uu
Artifact Creature - Sphinx, Rare
Whenever an artifact creature you control deals combat damage to a player, you may put a 1/1 blue Thopter artifact creature token with flying into play.

2 Tidehollow Strix, ub
Artifact Creature - Bird, Common
Flying, deathtouch

2 Tower Gargoyle, 1wub
Artifact Creature - Gargoyle, Uncommon

2 Windwright Mage, wub
Artifact Creature - Human Wizard, Common
Windwright Mage has flying as long as an artifact card is in your graveyard.

15 creatures

1 Courier's Capsule, 1u
Artifact, Common
1{U}, {T}, Sacrifice Courier's Capsule: Draw two cards.

2 Executioner's Capsule, b
Artifact, Common
1{B}, {T}, Sacrifice Executioner's Capsule: Destroy target nonblack creature.

1 Marble Chalice, 2w
Artifact, Common
{T}: You gain 1 life.

1 Obelisk of Esper, 3
Artifact, Common
{T}: Add {W},{U}, or {B} to your mana pool.

2 Oblivion Ring, 2w
Enchantment, Common
Oblivion Ring
When Oblivion Ring comes into play, remove another target nonland permanent from the game.
When Oblivion Ring leaves play, return the removed card to play under its owner's control.

1 Onyx Goblet, 2b
Artifact, Common
{T}: Target player loses 1 life.
1 Tidings

9 other spells

Stay tuned for more Alara goodness


League Play foils

The Gateway program was recently replaced by the Wizards Play Network, a new WoTC program designed to make it easier to organize small tournaments with friends, in order to entice more players to participate in DCI sanctioned tournaments . . . the 'Think Globally, Play Locally' sort of thing.

With the Gateway program came promo cards. Previous Gateway promotional cards included Mogg Fanatic, Faerie Conclave, and Oona’s Blackguard. With the old program gone, so have the Gateway promo cards, which were typically uncommon cards printed by the Wizards for the release of each new edition.

Stepping into the gap as well is the new Wizards Play League which will have promotional cards provided to organizers. The intention here was to establish a new way to reward the players and enhance loyalaty. The first two cards created for this are arternate art foil Shards of Alara Sprouting Thrinax and Wolly Thoctar.

By-the-way . . . I'm still laughing about the Wooly Thoctar / Soccer Mom thing.

Now for a bit of mystery.

We'll call it the case of the missing card. Remember this beautiful piece of spoiled artwork ?

It was generally beleived that it would be seen on a Shards of Alara card. More specifically, a card from the Shard of Esper. Many thought that this art would slip onto the Esper Battlemage card. Apparently no.

Mr. silvercut from the forums provided a very nice bit of photoshoppery and possible considerations for a future Conflux card.

Mr. Valyon also suggested possible cards for which the art may fit (from the infamous spoiled Conflux card list) which included Elder Mastery, Ethersworn Adjudicator, Filigree Fracture or perhaps Hermitage Illusionist. This may also be a case of simple concept art or even scrapped art which never made it to the finish line.


MTG Potpourri

Yep - "MTG Potpourri" a collection of unrelated nonsense from the dusty corners of my mind . . .

You may recall this POST about a month ago in which I had spoke onto the Jund Saproling token generators in Shards of Alara. I was so interested in just how well this may work, I started collecting and after a few weeks of trades was able to acquire the engine to this deck. I then promptly gave it to one of my kids who rose to the challenge and built a fairly solid deck around it. He now wins a good number of games with his so-called 'Mushroom' build against me.
Here again is the skinny on the Saproling generators. (For other Shards of Alara token generators, check out this previous POST).

Jund Battlemage ({G}, {T}: Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play.)

Mycoloth (At the beginning of your upkeep, put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play for each +1/+1 counter on Mycoloth.)

Necrogenesis ({2}: Remove target creature card in a graveyard from the game. Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play.)

Sprouting Thrinax (When Sprouting Thrinax is put into a graveyard to play, put three 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens into play.)

This is something I had posted in the forums some time ago and thought it may be worthy of a post here.

In some games, keeping track of wither may be something of a challenge. With 'wither' damage flying across the table as well as pumps from Lieges and other spells, a player is lucky to just have the +1/+1 and -1/-1 cancel eachother out as a state-based effect. Otherwise, one would have to resort to two different coloured counters or dice.

As I was rummaging through a closet, I came across an old Milton-Bradley game 'Othello'. This classic board game comes with a big bag of two-coloured, two-sided chips. Just perfect I thought for keeping tracks of positive and negative counters for my stable of critters. I had received some positive feed-back from opponents and other players on this and so I now share with you.

And now for something completely different . . .

I am not sure why I had not seen these before today but just look at how very cool these Lorwyn Planeswalker life counters are.

These are WoTC-approved life counters from Takara Tomy, a Japanese outfit. Apparently these special promotional cards had been given out during FNMs and tournaments in Japan. If you actually own a set of these rarities, consider yourself blessed and receive my envy as well as the envy from other MTG geeks around the world.


Alara Reborn

Wizards has now entered 'Grixis Week' with the typical inaugural article from MaRo, but just as news-worthy is the Magic Arcana announcement today introducing the thirds Shards of Alara small set, due to be released in April 2009. The set's code name "Scissors", is called Alara Reborn.

The birth of one world. The death of five.
Set Name Alara Reborn
Block Set 3 of 3 in the Shards of Alara block
Number of Cards 145
Release Date Thursday, April 30, 2009
Prerelease Events April 25-26, 2009
Launch Parties April 30-May 3, 2009
Previews start on April 13, 2009

Design Team Aaron Forsythe (lead)
Mark Gottlieb
Alexis Janson
Brian Tinsman

Development Team Matt Place (lead)
Dave Guskin
Alexis Janson
Erik Lauer
Mike Turian

First off, it appears that MaRo is not on the design team for this set. He may either in a 'time-out' or WoTC has told him to let another person take a turn on the design-ride.

I will speculate that the entire Shards of Alara block will develop into a 3 / 4 / 5 mana colour theme as the Shards begin to come together. I also suspect that we will be introduced to the entity who was responsible for the 'Sundering', as he / she / it comes back with crowbar to attempt to pry the shards appart again.

WoTC also has a note about this very usual Thursday release . . .
That's right, Alara Reborn is being released on Thursday, April 30, instead of the usual Friday.
Why? Well, we're just so excited about it that we can't hold it back even an extra day! Oh, and also May 1 is International Worker's Day /Labor Day throughout Europe. There's that, too. But the point is that this means an unprecedented four-day Launch Party! Whoo! Be sure to check back to this spring for more details and updates.
A quick note about 'May Day / Labour Day' . . . Many people mistakenly believe that May Day is of Russian origin, but it actually had its beginnings in the United States. On May 1st, 1886, more than 340,000 people marched in many American cities to demand an 8-hour working day.

Three days later, a bomb exploded at a labor rally in Chicago and 8 labor leaders were charged with the crime. All eight were found guilty based on questionable evidence, and five were executed. The remaining three men were finally pardoned by Governor Altgeld in 1893, as he was convinced that all eight were innocent. In 1889, the 1st of May was officially declared "International Workers' Day" and from that time on, it has been celebrated in virtually every country, many of them making it a national holiday.


What I'm Playing - 2

What I'm Playing - Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of 'What I'm Playing', click HERE. If you had already read the previous post where I showed you the Deathbringer Leige construct, you may want to just skip down to the first image in this post.

It's not uncommon to hear Magic Players tell you just how kick-butt their particular constructed deck is. In fact, this just about dominates the banter in between games during Friday Night Magic. I'm usually the one listening and occasionally piping in with a 'that's nice' or similar non-committal contribution.

I rarely detail to others exactly what cards or combos I have available to unleash upon my opponent. There are two-fold reasons for this . . .

1. I am always evolving my deck - either dropping or picking up cards for my line-up and adjusting their numbers, and

2. I would rather not have the person I am blathering to know all the tricks up my sleeve lest they know exactly what to side-board before our very first match game.

Anywho, today is the day I lift the hood off the engine, as it were, and lay bare all the ugliness that is my deck.

As I typically rotate two decks in and out of my casual games during FNM, this will be a two-part post.

Let me first introduce to you the unimaginatively-named 'Ghast Lord' deck . .
(click to enlarge)
This deck currently consists of 62 cards mostly from Shadowmoor with a dash of Shards of Alara thrown in >

10 x Swamp
10 x Island

Creatures (in order of casting cost)
4 x Oona's Gatewarden
4 x Tidehollow Strix
4 x Inkfathom Infiltrator
3 x Silvergill Douser
4 x Wasp Lancer
3 x Cemetery Puca
2 x Oona, Queen fo the Fae
3 x Ghastrlord of the Fugue

Other Spells
4 x Spell Syphon
4 x Helm of the Ghastlord

Again - I am embarrassed to mention as it is currently a mess.

Before you start lobbing me with eMails concerning my choices, just know that I do not have that slippery creature known as 'Disposable Income' - I have had to feed it to my three kids and use its skin to clothe them.

Anywho, I'm fairly satisfied with the construction so far and this really is a work in progress. The goal here of course is having as many blue-black hybrid cards possible to take full advantage of the eight cards that provide bonuses for creatures with blue and black.

There are eight cards in the one-drop column. I have a fairly decent flying defender (Oona's Gatewarden) which brings wither damage to the table. Although the image shows only 2 Smolder Initiates, I do in fact have 4 within the deck . . . the other two are introverts and quite shy. Anywho - Mr. Smolder is a relatively new addition to the deck. I had playtested a series of games and determined that this Elemental on average did a decent job harassing my apponent and dinging for at least one life during my turn and quite often another during my opponents turn as well dependent upon what they were playing of course. As most spells are black within the deck, all these little nibbles did add up a rather good sum of damage before Mr. Smolder took a dirt nap.

My two-drop column is somewhat bloated with 15 cards. The new critter on the block is Tidehollow Strix from Shards of Alara. This artifact bird replaces Sygg, River Cutthroat who is now riding the bench in the sideboard. Although I did enjoy the extra card-draw that Sygg gave me when I was able to land 3 or more damage to an opponent, I really wanted to see what Tidehollow could do for me with all the extra flying menaces now hitting the table with Shards. Specifically, I am talking about Angels and Dragons. I am rather looking forward to my small 2-drop flyer with freak'n DEATHTOUCH taking out the smug egotistical 5/8 Empyrial Arcangel in one hit <>.

Still in the two-drop column, we have Inkfathom Infiltrator which pretty much guarantees landing 2 points of unblockable damage each turn and certainly more when the Leige comes out to play or the Helm gets fitted on her. For a bit of damage control, I have the very underrated Silvergill Douser which reduces or negates damage coming over from my opponent. Since most of the critters within the deck are Merfolk or Faeries, Ms. Douser does an effecient job. There is another one of her in the sideboard as well. Finally, we have a deck-set of Spell Syphon which counters a target spell unless its controller pays (1) for each of my blue permanents. As most of my permanents are blue, the price tag is exorbitant.

We have seven cards in the three-drop column. First, a deck set of Wasp Lancer, a very nice 3/2 flyer. I had a lot of solid synergy between Mr. Lancer and Sygg previously in accelerating my draws and providing me with an advantage over my opponent. The next card is Cemetery Puca which is just shy of a deck set. I have a little saying - "Always pack a parachute". Mr. Puca is just that. Should something terrible befall one of my bombs, I feel confident that this Shapeshifter can step into the breach and pick up the pieces. I also take perverse pleasure in having Mr. Puca become a copy of an opponent's recently departed critter - especially if said card is able to provide some sort of bonus to the stable on my side of the table.

We now arrive at the four-drop column. If I am not dead by now, this is usually where the game really starts turning around in my favour . . . this is the 'Pump' column of the deck. Glen Elendra Liege provides a pump for blue and black - I just wish she was a titch bigger. With Helm of the Ghastlord, not only do I get another pump for blue and black but also a potential card draw on my side and a discard for the opponent. I will always attempt to attach this Aura on an unblockable critter such as Infiltrator or the Ghastlord himself to obtain a guarantee of the Helm's draw / discard ability.

Now onto the five drops. There are 3 Ghastlord of Fugue present and accounted for. Mr. Fugue is another solid 4/4 unblockable which will allow me to take my opponent's best card when the punch connects. I have had several games where is Spirit Avatar is pumped up to an incredibly stupid strength / toughness with one or more Glen Elendras in play or even a Helm of the Ghastlord on him (which is somewhat ironic).

Finally we have a pair of Oona, Queen of the Fae in the last six drop column. I can think of only one time where I actually used her mill ability to produce a cloud of blue-black 1/1 flying Faeries. I typically use her as a big 5/5 stick to knock the remaining life off my opponent's life counter. Again, this is another parachute for me . . . If the game does go this long, I had better have the capability of producing a buch of chump blockers while I try to regain control of the board.

That's it for 'What I'm Playing'.

I do have several other 'playable' decks but am too sketched out to bring it out to a Friday Night Magic. Typically these other decks only see action on the kitchen table. I do have a nice Faerie control deck featuring Mistbind Clique, Scion of Oona, Glen Elendra Pranksters but sadly it is lacking Bitterblossom . . . It is kind of like having a race car engine with no spark-plug. If I ever find Leprechaun with a pot 'o' gold, you will see this little green scamp in the ditch while I get myself a deckset of Bitterblossom.


Jace vs. Chandra

We have details for the anticipated Jace vs. Chandra Duel Decks. As announced on Wizards today, we can expect the product release in less than a month. Ken Nagle is expected to have a write-up on 3rd November to give us the skinny. For all the details, check out this WoTC page.

Expect to pay about $20 or so for the set. Both decks are legal in the Type 2 tournament format and you will most likely see it in the hands of the hands of 'Control' and 'Burn' phreaks at your local gaming store on 7th November, 2008 (a Friday).

The set is comprised of 2 sixty card ready-to-play decks. Each deck focuses on one of two Planeswalkers first introduced in the Lorwyn expansion set: Jace Beleren and Chandra Nalaar.

The set will contain 2 mythic rare cards, 6 rare cards, 4 alternate-art cards, and 2 foil mythic rare alternate-art foil-yummy versions of Jace Beleren and Chandra Nalaar. The other cards within this set will include cards from the entire 15 year history of Magic.

Here is the flavour from marketing . . .
Which Planeswalker Will Prevail?

Jace Beleren, prodigy of mental magic torn between good and evil. Chandra Nalaar, sharp-witted pyromancer with a smoldering chip on her shoulder. Both carry with them a vast arsenal of devastating spells. Neither ever accepts defeat. Chance has pitted one against the other, but you’ll determine the outcome.

Some cards to expect in the set include Ancestral Vision, Chandra Nalaar, Counterspell, Demonfire, Jace Beleren, Fact or Fiction, Flametongue Kavu, Incinderate, Quicksilver Dragon, and Seal of Fire.

The J vs C Duel Decks will also come packed with a strategy insert, 3 tokens, a Magic “Learn to Play” guide, and two deck boxes for storage, but you don't have to use those - - - you can get this sweet deck box from Ultra.Pro and these card sleeves so your drool does not ruin the cards.