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Lord of War

Happy Friday MTG peeps,

Today at MTG Realm, we would like to yatter a bit about some of the cool new cards in the re-started Core Set, Core Set 2019.  Quite specifically, the five rare tribal lords.  A "lord" is an informal term that refers to any creature or other permanent that confers boons to other members of the same creature type, typically without conferring such bonus to themselves.  In Core Set 2019, there is one Lord in each colour :

Valiant Knight (W knights) — Grants other Knights +1/+1, activated ability (3WW) to grant Knights double strike

Supreme Phantom (U spirits) — Grants other spirits+1/+1.

Death Baron (B zombies) — Grants skeletons and zombies +1/+1 and deathtouch

Goblin Trashmaster (R goblins) — Grants goblins +1/+1, activate ability to destroy an artifact when you sacifice a goblin.

Elvish Clancaller (G elves) — Grants other Eleves +1/+1, activated ability (4GG, Tap) to tutor another copy of itself onto the battlefield.

When Core 2019 releases on July 13, 2018, and before the large Fall set on October 5, 2018, there is a metric ton of cards in Standard format, but are we able to double down on the above Tribal Lords ?  Ixalan / Rivals of Ixalan was a block that did have a tribal theme, but restricted to Pirates, Dinosaurs, Merfolk and Vampires. 

There does exist however, some cards which may assist in a tribal theme should you want to move forward with the aforementioned Core Set 2019 Lords -

Arcane Adaptation (2U) - forcing all your creatures to creature type
Metallic Mimic (2) - +1/+1 counters on named creature type when they enter the battlefield
Radiant Destiny (2W) - conditional (City's Blessing) named creature type you control gets +1/+1 and vigilance
Vanquisher's Banner (5) - named creature type you control gets +1/+1, card draw upon casting that type

The most apparent choice may be Zombies.  There was a time, not that long ago, where Zombie tribal did climb to the top tier before the wheels fell off when some choice cards from Magic Origins / Shadows Over Innistrad block rotated out.  There are two Lords, or more specifically, a tribal enchantment and a Lord, in Amonkhet which may be shoed in to build a Zombie Tribal decklist -

• Liliana's Mastery (Amonkhet) - Zombies you control get +1/+1.
• Lord of the Accursed (Amonkhet) - Grants other zombies +1/+1, activated ability (1B, Tap) zombies gain menace

There is also a handful of other useful cards to support this theme as well which we will not go into, but do want to make a point that Embalm and Eternalize are two existing mechanics which also may be of use here.

Happy Brewing !


MTG ‘BEARserker’

~“Would you rather feel the edge of my blade or the sharpness of my fangs?"

Happy Thursday MTG peeps,

Incoming event this weekend at a gaming store near you, is the Dominaria Store Championship.  With Dominaria having been officially released on April 27, 2018, Magic: the Gathering players should now have been afforded ample opportunity to hone their standard format deckles.  This weekend, your time and effort; blood and tears; and countless hours of research will pay off as you are crowned Store Championship.  To the victor - priceless treasures in the form of a Champion playmat and deck boxes from Ultra PRO, and promo cards. 

Should you find yourself North of Toronto, do drop in to OMG Games, in Barrie, Ontario on Saturday 23 June at half-past noon.

On topic again -
As of this afternoon, Magic: the Gathering gamers have been delivered about 215 (of 280) official Core Set 2019 card previews by Wizards of the Coast and their media friends.  The Core Set, releasing on July 13th, returns to MTG after a short ( THREE YEAR ! ) hiatus after this was dropped after Magic Origins in 2015.  To date, we have been treated to 2 installments of a storyline created by author Kate Elliot which has been a very good read.

We could talk about some of the very cool and slick new cardboard which has been previewed so far, and perhaps how this new set may impact the meta game in each format, but we really do want to talk about the big BEAR in the room - Ursine Champion.

Ursine Champion, artwork by Alex Konstad

Here is the freak’n awesome card now for your review -

This sweet card is most definitely a 'bear' - 1X for a 2/2, quite conventionally in green or perhaps white.  Although the creature type is a 'Human BEARserker', she does have an activated ability to actually turn into a freak'n bear ! These WereBear creature shenanigans may be more at home on the Plane of Innistrad, but we are loving it.  Late game, with a pinch of mana acceleration, this 2/2 grows to a sizeable 5/5.

This is no common 'Vanilla Bear', and most certainly in the territory of 'Value Bear', but will the discerning MTG fan dare even say bear at all ?  

Here is a very handy Bear Alignment Chart, created by redditor IanUlman for reference should you wish to provide a shot to categorize further . . .




M19 Art Previews

Happy Saturday MTG peeps,

On Friday, Wizards of the Coast had another treat for Magic: the Gathering players.  Specifically the Weekly MTG panel on Twitch with Blake Rasmussen (Content Manager), Paul Cheon (Game Designer), Bill Rose (VP R&D), and Charlie Cateeno (Director R&D) sat down to discuss a variety of relevant and interesting items.

Of note for us here at MTG Realm was some art previews for the upcoming Core Set 2019.  Here are the six very lovely (and intriguing) artworks now -

• ‘Generic Burn Spell’, artwork by Chris Rahn

• ’Satyr’, artwork by Sidharth Chaturvedi

• ‘Leonin’, artwork by Jakub Kasper

• ‘Nicol Bolas Spell’, artwork by Svetin Velinov

• ‘Cool Horse creature’, artwork by Alayna Danner

• ‘Tezzeret’, artwork by Josh Has



Core Set 2019 Story

Happy Thursday MTG peeps,

Yesterday, regular Magic: the Gathering story instalments restarted on the Wizards of the Coast website, with the first of eight short stories to be shared for the Core Set 2019 story arc.  Previously, Wizards had been producing stories ‘in-house’ with the R&D Narrative Team, and on the whole, these were very good.  With Return to Dominaria, author Martha Wells was engaged to produce a whopping 12 short stories.  Considering what a herculean effort it was to pen this, it really did make sense for Wizards to work with a professional author, and have the Narrative Team focus on creating a canvas, characters, and major plots to mesh with the cards created for each set.

Continuing to employ outside resources, Wizards had tapped author Kate Elliott to generate 8 stories for the Core Set 2019.  Kate was introduced to us on June 7, 2018, during a Twitch Video ‘Weekly MTG’ which featured Mark Rosewater, M19 Story Author, & Beta Booster Pack Opening.  We’re uncertain about the ‘weekly’ term for the moment, but were very happy to have watched the video.  Kate Elliott is the pen name of American fantasy and science fiction writer Alis A. Rasmussen, who currently resides with her husband Jay Silverstein currently live in (the non-exploding part of) Hawaii.  Here is her first Magic: the Gathering story, as linked below -

Chronicle of Bolas: The Twins, by Kate Elliott
18 years after the events of Fate Reforged, Yasova (formerly Yasova Dragonclaw) leads her granddaughters and a hunting party into the wilderness. There her granddaughter is visited by mysterious vision, telling her the story of the birth of none other than Ugin the Spirit Dragon and of Nicol Bolas himself.

Had you not read this great first installment, we suggest you do, before we move along, as we are hitting / highlighting some rather interesting details presented as they unfold on Tarkir.

Yasova (previously Yasova Dragonclaw), is a grandmother.  Her granddaughters, twins Naiva (more a hunter) and Baishya (more a shaman) have been given a message from the Windfolk (some sort of Elemental beings) who communicate with the human ‘whisperers’ with shamanic gifts.  This message seems to be from the Spirit-Dragon, Ugin.  The stage now appears to be set upon a path to find the (corpse or spirit) of Ugin.
Other items of interest folded into the story concern Dragons.  We appreciate the literary device (?) used to capitalise letters indicating the story section about dragons, and dragon-speech.  We are shown what appears to the Ur-Dragon, the primordial essence of all Dragonkind, with its avatar speeding across the skies of an un-named plane of existence, essentially dropping dragon eggs.  The first wave of eggs include Palladium, Chromium, Arcades, Ugin, Nicol, and Merrivia Sal, but two other dragons are stillborn and fall to the ground.  The dragons are born sentient / intelligent and knowing such things as their names.
The big bombshell here (for us at least) is that, not only is Ugin an Elder Dragon, but he's also Nicol Bolas' brother.  These newborn twins witness the death of a ‘sibling’ dragon Merrivia Sal, whose scales had yet to harden, who was killed by a pack of human hunters.  We learn quite a bit from this event which assists us in understanding the character of each of these two creatures.  Where Nicol Bolas is full of fury, wanting to avenge the death of Merrivia by destroying all the hunters, Ugin appears more practical in calculating potential risk (the ‘long game’).

Looking very much forward to Kate Elliott’s next stories.

For now, you should know that the Core Set 2019 card image gallery is now up to be populated with new previews as they happen.



Core Set 2019 Previews and Promos

Happy Monday MTG peeps,

Completely unexpected (at least for us), but there were a slew of Magic: the Gathering previews out this morning from Wizards of the Coast.  Please do click on over to the MTG website and read the article, 'CORE SET 2019 PACKAGING, PROMOS, AND MORE', posted by Blake Rasmussen.  In the post, he goes over a variety of official previews including :

• Welcome Decks
• Standard Showdown promo lands
• Friday Night Magic promos

For this post, we are just touching upon the promotional cards associated with the upcoming Core Set.

Buy-A-Box promo : Nexus of Fate
Open House (June 30–July 1) : Guttersnipe
Draft Weekend (July 14–15) : Desecrated Tomb
Magic League (July 16) : Reliquary Tower
Store Championships on June 18–24 : Demon of Catastrophes
Store Championships Playmat by Ultra PRO: Bolas (?)

The big preview today is a NEW Planeswalker being introduced to Magic 2019 Core Set via The Mary Sue linked right here.  Here is the green Planeswalker Vivien Reid -

According to The Mary Sue, Vivien was born on Skalla, and is part of a tribe of rangers and druids known as the Smaragdi, who protect the wilds of that plane from the growing destructive civilization.  Vivien has a special bond with the animals of the forest, which manifests in her Arkbow



MTG Creature Spotlight - Azra

Happy Thursday MTG peeps,

It is not every day (set) in which Magic: the Gathering players are presented with a new creature type by Wizards of the Coast.  With the release of the newest stand-alone set, Battlebond, there are now just under 240 creatures in total, which includes Changelings and Mistform Ultimus, which are every creature type.  So what new creature has been created with the introduction of the new Multiverse Plane of Existence called Kylem ?

Let us meet the 'Azra'.  If you are familiar with the other popular Wizards of the Coast brand, Dungeons & Dragons, then you might be familiar with a creature race known as the Tiefling.  These humanoid creatures resulting from a human and demon bloodline.  

There is an excellent video on the Forgotten Realms Wiki linked right here.

Azra Oddsmaker | Art by: Josh Hass

Unlike the Tiefling, the Azra have no tails.  The Azra are native on Kylem and do have a distant demonic ancestry.  In Magic: the Gathering, the Azra are found in the mana colours of Black and Red.  Theses creatures have one or more sets of differing shaped horns on their heads and unlike humans, their skin may be blue, purple or other darker colours.   The males of the species may also have horn like appendages on their chins.

According to yesterday's article, 'The World of Battlebond' on the Magic: the Gathering site, Magic Creative Team game designer Alison Luhrs has the following to say about the Azra ::

Wealth, taste, and trickery are the azra's primary interests. They flock to Valor's Reach for the competition on the field and off—lightening the purses of other attendees is just as exciting as watching a match. The azra love anything gold and shiny and aren't afraid to show off their wealth. Thus, most azra become merchants, though others seeking quick coin might turn to a life of crime as rogues, assassins, or mercenaries.
Blaring Captain | Art by: Grzegorz Rutkowski

Battlebond is the first-ever Two-Headed Giant-focused Magic booster set. It will be released on June 8, 2018. Battlebond is the Innovation Product for 2018, and is designed to be drafted.



Standard Burn Response

Happy Tuesday MTG peeps,

As we have said in previous posts, Magic: the Gathering standard format is not only a healthy format, but interesting as well.  From this weekend's results of Pro Tour Dominaria Richmond, the top decks were heavily weighted toward aggressive red and red / black decklists, but the metagame can easily evolve to respond.  Let's yatter about that for a moment.

Of the Top 8 decks, seven decklists had a full deck-set of four copies of Goblin Chainwhirler.  Given this, the very first thing a player may note is that token strategies (generating tokens 1/1 or less), may not be effective at all.  Following this, if one were to look at the full decklists (linked over here), one may note that burn is generally quite the major theme here.

The natural refuge against burn / red aggro archetype is life-gain.  To this end, we would suggest going back to the large number of such decklists which were posted by players shortly after when Crested Sunmare was previewed and folks were attempting to make this solid card work. The metagame at the time, did not allow this sort of list to be all that efficient, but perhaps it is time to revisit.

Do check out the latest video over at MTGO Traders linked right here, along with the decklist posted here.  If you were contemplating a right time to game with such a decklist, the time may be now.



Global Series Trailer

Happy Friday MTG peeps,

We do have some Magic: the Gathering news to report to you on the new Wizards of the Coast product ‘Global Series: Jiang Yanggu vs. Mu Yanling’.  Specifically, we do now have a proper Video Trailer posted over at the Chinese website as well as a product page update over on the mothersite.

First - do pop on over to the trailer posted here.  From the video, redditor waynedu posted an unofficial translation on the two planes walkers -

Jiang Yanggu
He doesn't know his name and family. He named himself Yanggu (literally "vale of sunrise") after the east most vale. To save the Jiuli Clan which is haunted by plague, Yanggu ventured in to the Mountain of Ten Witches for a solution, but find himself acquainted with a mystery lady through battle. With her help, Yanggu tackled the threat of plague. In order to find out who he really is, he went onto the journey of expedition with the lady.

Mu Yanling
In the thundering roar of Kui cattle, violent wave devoured Mu Yanling's homeland. Luckily, she was saved by Lishan the wanderer. But when the two went on the journey to Yunmeng the Great Lake, Lishan suddenly met a bizarre death. Holding Lishan's body, poor desperate Yanling cried and lost consciousness, but when she wake up, Lishan's body is nowhere to be found. Despite the sorrow and shock, it gave Yanling a glimmer of hope - could Lishan be alive?

We will bring more story about the two planeswalkers, please stay tuned.

From the mothersite :

Jiang Yanggu
If they woke up with no memories, most people would give in to despair and panic. Instead, Yanggu gave himself a new name, grabbed his sentient hound friend, and set off on an epic quest for answers.

Mu Yanling
Unbowed by the losses that have haunted her life, Yanling journeys across worlds, digging for the arcane secrets that might right the wrongs of her past.

This product is really great in its goal to untap a potentially massive yet unexplored and undeveloped market.  We certainly applaud the effort but we think that (from our Canadian viewpoint), the Americans, no matter how deeply they engage their Chinese consultants, this product is not going to be a success.  We think that Wizards will realise that the disappointing response to this product is mostly due to not engaging and tapping into the existing Magic: the Gathering fan base, who do not want anything like this at all, but actually something not at all far removed from the existing products already available.