Tag Archives: MTG

The Plague: The Most Powerful MTG Theme Deck of All Time

I want to have a little theme deck/ intro deck war with a few of my friends so I am slowly acquiring or building some of the most powerful, some of the weirdest theme decks in Magic history. So far I got the Way of the Warrior a white weenie deck from Champions of Kamigawa built around the bushido mechanic and Bait & Switch from Onslaught which is probably the weirdest theme deck built around changing your opponent creature types to turn on some narrow cards (like a card that destroys target cleric).

Anyways, I had to have The Plague from Urza’s Saga in my theme deck war. It is the answer to the question “what is the most powerful theme deck or intro deck of all time” and I just acquired the last few cards I needed.

The Plague Urza's Saga

It is so rare to have such a fun yet challenging deck released as just a theme deck. It is a combo control deck built around Pestilence. There is so much synergies like Pestilence + protection from black creatures, Pestilence + Pariah, Pestilence + Urza’s Armor, etc. The deck also has a number of cycling cards to help find your key pieces and you eventually win with enough Pestilence triggers.

This deck is easily my pick to win it all since most theme decks are creature based.

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MTG Brewer: Legacy MUD and the 2014 Red Commander Deck

I have two red commander decks so it was a no brainer to pick up the 2014 red commander deck the day it was released. I picked out all the good commander cards for my Zirilan of the Claw dragon deck and Krenko goblin deck. Some of the remaining cards were Wurmcoil Engine, Myr Battlesphere and Steel Hellkite and it actually inspired to update my old MUD deck.

The red commander deck came with a Goblin Welder so I own 3 welders now so I first tried a red based MUD deck but you have to play Great Furnace and Mountains and I think that playing a sub par mana base it not worth the splash so I went with a mono brown build.

4 Chalice of the Void
4 Lodestone Golem
3 Trinisphere

2 Mox Opal
1 Grim Monolith
4 Metalworker
4 Kuldotha Forgemaster

2 Lightning Greaves
2 Spellskite
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
2 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Duplicant
1 Staff of Nin
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Karn Liberated
1 Platinum Angel
1 Spine of Ish Sah
1 Sundering Titan
1 Blightsteel Colossus

4 Ancient Tomb
1 City of Traitors
4 Cloudpost
4 Glimmerpost
1 Vesuva
4 Darksteel Citadel
2 Cavern of Souls
2 Wasteland

Sideboard:
4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Phyrexian Revoker
3 Defense Grid
2 Bottled Cloister
2 Ratchet Bomb

Legacy MUD

Sure this deck isn’t the most competitive Legacy deck but this deck is a blast to play. It can generate ridiculous amounts of mana and it can have some explosive draws. I have killed with a Blightsteel Colossus in the third turn. It can also lock out some decks in the first or second turn with cards like Chalice of the Void, Lodestone Golem and Trinisphere.

The mana base is a little weird as I could only fit nine posts. I like 5 sol ring lands so you can do first turn Chalices regularly, I wanted Darksteel Citadels since I am playing a full playset of Kuthdu Forgemasters and finally I shaved down Wastelands and Cavern of Souls but they are both kind of important. Is it right? Probably not but it works for me at the moment and I am still tinkering with the deck.

Is this deck inconsistent? Yes. Is this deck going too many directions? Probably. Is it better without Cloudposts? Likely. But a third turn Blightsteel Colossus kill! (I also have hard casted Blightsteel Colossus a number of times).

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Magic: The Gathering Shards of Alara Premium Pack

I found this premium pack of Shards of Alara in a repack. These normally go for about $20 and I picked this one up for $3. Basically it was a no brainer and unfortunately I only found one for sale. The premium packs has cards from the Shards of Alara block and all 15 cards are foiled. It is a gimmick Wizards try once so I guess it didn’t do so well.

Shards of Alara Foils

Shards of Alara Foils 2

Right off the bat, Wild Nacatl and Path to Exile draws my attention. Both cards see a lot of play and I should be able to trade them for some cards I need. Wild Nacatl foils are about $4- $5 but the foiled Path to Exile can go for as high as $20. As for my rare, I have a dragon EDH deck (Zirilan of the Claw is my commander) so I am always open to dragons foils although I really doubt Predator Dragon would make the cut.

Overall this is as good of a pack as I can hope for.

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MTG Brewer: Young Pyromancer Tempo in Standard

If you are anything like me, you are looking for fun new decks in Standard to mix things up a bit. There is only so much black devotion and U/W control decks you can play week after week. I went deep in the tank to brew something new for FNM and I came up with an interesting Young Pyromancer tempo deck. It could use some fine tuning but it is a blast to play and it uses a bunch of weird cards that I haven’t gotten to try out before.

The Threats:
4x Judge’s Familiar
2x Dakra Mystic
4x Vaporkin
4x Young Pyromancer
3x Hour of Need

One ideal draw is Judge’s Familiar into Young Pyromancer. Hour of Need helps you speed up your clock and it can win the game for you out of nowhere. There is no good cantrips in Standard so Dakra Mystic is there to help you make sure you don’t gas out too soon. I am playing with Vaporkin and I avoided playing with the one mana/ two power red creatures like Radkos Cackler because Sylvan Caryatid is a problem. But Firedrinker Satyr is interesting because it can beat a Sylvan Caryatid but I can’t see myself ever tapping to pump it.

The Tempo Cards:
4x Dissolve
4x Izzet Charm
4x Syncopate
4x Lightning Strike
1x Magma Jet
4x Voyage’s End

Young Pyromancer Tempo

The two best counterspells in Standard are Dissolve and Syncopate. There are five burn spells in the form of Lightning Strikes and a single Magma Jet. Izzet Charm can be both. You really don’t want to use the draw 2 and discard 2 mode in Izzet Charm unless you really have to since it is card disadvantage. Voyage’s End is there to help you win races. Speaking of which, as I was saying there isn’t a good cheap card draw spell in Standard but there is Scrying and there is a bunch of them to help you dig for the cards you need.

The Lands:
9x Island
7x Mountain
4x Steam Vents
2x Temple of Epiphany

I am not sure I want to play with 4 temples since I really can’t afford to have a land to come in play tapped.

So basically this deck has to play a threat on turn 1 and/ or turn 2 and then you almost never tap out on your turn to leave your mana open to protect your threats and to disrupt your opponent. It is the basic formula for a tempo deck. If they don’t do anything, you can always upgrade your threats with Hour of Need at the end of their turn.

Some of the cards in the deck are a bit underpowered but one of the best thing about playing this deck is your opponent has no idea what to expect and I love that!

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MTG Brewer: R/U/g Control aka Counterburn

Unlike the Innistrad/ Return to Ravnica standard format, the RTR/ Theros standard format is honestly not a ripe format for brewing. U/W/x Control, R/G/x Monsters, Mono Black Devotion and Mono Blue Devotion deck are all brutally efficient and there aren’t really many build around Johnny type cards. With that being said I have a new take on a blue based control deck that I have been working on.

As with all my brews, I like to start with a theory and test it out. I also usually like to write about it really before iron out the decklist so I have to start with a warning as usual, this is a very raw brew that needs fine tuning.

The theories are A) – Can a counterburn deck be viable? B) – Can Chandra’s Phoenix be used in a control shell and be used as a source of card advantage?

Here is a working decklist to test those theories out. First the burn spells.

4 Lightning Strike
4 Turn // Burn
3 Anger of the Gods
4 Izzet Charm

Lightning Strike is the best burn spell in Standard, Turn // Burn is the catch all and Izzet Charm is the most flexible card in the deck as it can be a counterspell, removal spell or card draw. Anger the Gods can be a dead card in many matchups and it is also a nombo with Chandra’s Phoneix but without it I think this deck will get overrun by RDW, white weenie and the like.

The Counterspells:
4 Counterflux
2 Dissolve

Counterflux is the best counterspell in Standard. It guarantees you countering your opponent’s Aethering, Elspeth etc. One thing to note is it is a lot better as an answer to your opponent’s threats rather than as a way to protect your spells because your opponent can just use another counterspell while it is on the stack.

The Card Draw:
3 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Thoughtflare

Opportunity is a bit too slow and you really can’t tap out for Divination with this deck so I am trying out Thoughtflares. Plus Chandra’s Phoenixs work really well with both Thoughtflare and Izzet Charm as you can get back them later in the game. Jace is just too good not to include. It gives you some board presence while drawing a bunch of cards.

The Win Cons:
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
2 Aetherling

This deck is centered around Chandra’s Phoenix. They are great as chump blockers, pressuring Planewalkers and it can be a source of card advantage (at least in theory). Aetherling are there to make you can close out games.

Counterburn

Finally I decided to have a slight green splash.

2 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave

After a little testing, I wanted up the power level just a bit and since the U/R temple hasn’t been printed yet I am going to have to play an off color temple anyways so I thought I can have a “free” splash and I chose green mainly because I want to try out Kiora and Xengos and I feel this deck needs a way to pop Detention Spheres. Green has a good answer in Unravel the Aether. If you want to go down a more traditional route, a Grixis control deck can be very strong.

The Mana Base:
3 Islands
2 Mountains
4 Steam Vents
4 Stomping Grounds
4 Breeding Pool
4 Temple of Mystery
3 Temple of Abandon
1 Izzet Guildgate

I have to admit the the mana base is a little greedy and it is possible the green splash is just not worth it.

You can see the full decklist and the sideboard which I honestly haven’t really work on at Tappedout.net. The deck seems to be a lot of fun and there seems to be a few options to attack the meta in different, unexpected ways.

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The Worst Magic Cards to See Competitive Play

My friend once said there is no such thing as a useless Magic card. In fact, looking back in Magic’s history, with limited card pools, weird formats and lack of better options, many “bad” magic cards have found niche uses. There are many brewers and Johnny players out there who have tried to break some of the worst cards in Magic history but it is more interesting to see what are the worst Magic cards to actually see competitive play.

One with Nothing

 
One with Nothing

When talking about the worst cards in the history of Magic, One with Nothing is always up there. Everyone knows the importance of card advantage so why would anyone want to discard their hand, leaving you open to just about anything. Well it was used as a tech against Owling Mine deck which actually wanted you to have 7+ cards in your hand for cards like Ebony Owl Netsuke. Well if you don’t have cards in you hand, they can’t win right? To be honest, in hindsight this tech was a little suspect but you can refuel quickly with all their Howling Mines.

Wizards’ School

 
Wizards' School

Back in the day, mana fixing ranged from Tundra to Adarkar Wastes to Wizard’s School. The tri color land cycle from the worst set in Magic, Homeland, is probably some of the weakest dual/ tri lands in the history. Looking back, the first Pro Tour was won by a U/W Control deck built and piloted by Michael Loconto. Magic was a different time then and many cards are honestly outclassed these days but right there is Wizard’s School as a one of in the mana base. Even back then, this card was horrible and even more curious is the fact that the deck didn’t play any black spells. So was there really no other dual lands in Standard back then? Maybe.. but the fact that Wizards force players to use at least 5 cards from Homeland card may be part of Loconto’s motivation.

Tarnished Citadel

 
Tarnished Citadel

Another bad mana fixer to see tournament play is Tarnished Citadel. A lightning bolt to your face each turn hurts. Yet it saw some play in Odyssey Block decks and even Legacy Dredge decks. Back then Wizards print few enemy color dual lands so Tarnished Citadel was one of few options if you chose to play a deck like U/G Madness (which won a Pro Tour). As for Legacy, Dredge deck are super fast so life total really don’t matter and they needed perfect mana so Tarnished Citadel was often the option after Gemstone Mine and City of Brass.

Merfolk of the Pearl Trident

 
Merfolk of the Pearl Trident

Merfolk of the Pearl Trident is a 1/1 for one, boring. Yet it found its way into one of the more dominant deck of its time Merfolk Opposition. Merfolk Opposition actually won a World Championship (piloted by Alex Borteh). If you look at the list it is actually play a lot of bad creatures but they were are all merfolks. The synergy between merfolks + Lord of Atlantis along with Opposition and Static Orb locked opponents out while putting on pressure is a very powerful combination.

Debtor’s Pulpit

 
Debtor's Pulpit

Debtor’s Pulpit is an aura that gives a land the ability to tap target creature, all for the low price of 4W and if you want to use that ability the turn you play it you need an untap land so it effectively cost 6 mana. It is a powerful effect but it is one that is usually seen on an one or two mana creatures. It is basically barely playable in limited but yet Debtor’s Pulpit is sometimes (although admittedly rarely) seen as a one off sideboard card for U/W Control deck, most notably the deck Adrian Sullivan played in a Starcity Open. Why? It is one of the few ways to repeatedly stop an Aetherling (and sometimes Stormbreath Dragon) in Standard. Sure Pithing Needle can stop its abilities but Debtor’s Pulpit stop it completely.

I am sure I missed a lot of bad cards that found its way to competitive play especially from decks during the “early days”. Of course there are also bad cards like Lion’s Eye Diamond and Dark Depths to later become broken, dominant cards. So before you say a card sucks maybe there is a variable and/ or an angle you aren’t considering.

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Prepping for Legacy with Belcher

Standard has been boring for me lately so I have been focusing my efforts on the Legacy format. Plus, the format for Grand Prix: New Jersey in November is Legacy so I made it a goal to prep for that as the finishing line. I was planning to go the Starcity Open in Somerset this weekend but it was canceled due to snow which for as far as I can recalled is unprecedented. It really has been a crazy winter…

Anyways, so the question is what to play. I have Burn, Pox, High Tide, Maverick, Belcher and MUD. My brother wants to play MUD so that was out the window. High Tide is probably the best Legacy deck I own even without the Candelabra of Tawnos but I can’t see myself playing such a tricky deck for a long tournament. Burn is super consistent but it feels like it auto loses to way too many decks. Maverick feels underpowered to me especially without Karakas to keep Reanimator and Show and Tell decks honest. Pox seems to be a very good choice in a True Name Nemesis filled meta but after playtesting let’s just say reactive, grindy decks aren’t my strength. That leaves Belcher.

Belcher was my first Legacy deck so I think I can pilot it fairly well. I did dismantle it when the Oops All Spells deck came around. The problem with that deck is it loses to itself SOOO many times. For example you just lose if you draw too many Narcomoebas. It was advertised as a more consistent turn 1 kill but after playtesting a bit I realize that Belcher is in fact the more consistent turn 1 kill and it is not as easily disrupted. Here is my decklist.

Free Mana:
4x Elvish Spirit Guide
4x Simian Spirit Guide
4x Chrome Mox
4x Lotus Petal
1x Lion’s Eye Diamond
4x Land Grant
1x Taiga

Rituals:
4x Tinder Wall
4x Rite of Flame
4x Desperate Ritual
1x Pyretic Ritual
4x Seething Song

Free Cantrips:
4x Manamorphose
4x Gitaxian Probe
4x Street Wraith

The Win Cons:
4x Empty the Warrens
4x Goblin Charbelcher
1x Spoils of the Vault

Belcher Deck

Sideboard:
3x Xantid Swarm
2x Guttural Response
1x Pyroblast
1x Carpet of Flowers
2x Blood Moon
1x Oxidize
1x Deconstruct
1x Simplify
1x Emerald Charm
2x Gut Shot

It is a pretty typical Belcher list other than the lack of Burning Wishes. I feel they slow down the deck and they are only good if you are playing a full set of Lion’s Eye Diamond (which I don’t own at the moment). My sideboard is a little rough but I am in the camp of siding in as little as possible. The most important cards are 3 Xantid Swarms, 2 Guttural Response, 1 Pyroblast and 1 Carpet of Flowers against Force of Will decks. Blood Moon can come in as another win con. I lost once siding in Nature’s Claim because it bought my opponent an extra turn so I am trying a mixture of Simplify, Emerald Charm, Oxidize and Deconstruct. Deconstruct is especially cute because it can destroy a Chalice of the Void on 1. Gut Shot in theory kills Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and the like but again I don’t foresee me siding in the creature, artifact or enchantment hate much.

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MTG Brewer: Little Tribal Zoo in Modern

For the record, I am a fan of the latest bannings and unbannings by Wizards for the Modern format. It should make way for new decks to emerge as top tier. Maybe something like…

Little Tribal Zoo:
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Kird Ape
4 Goblin Guide
4 Steppe Lynx
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Tribal Flames
3 Lightning Helix

4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Marsh Flats
2 Arid Mesa
2 Stomping Ground
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Temple Gardens
1 Watery Grave
1 Forest
1 Mountain

Tribal Zoo

I was anticipating Wild Nacatl to be unbanned so I was actually brewing a list and gathering the cards I needed. The one card I don’t own is Tarmogoyf so I went with a little zoo deck focused on one drops to negate its absence. This deck is pretty simple. Swarm the board with one drops and finish off the game with burn. The mana base of this deck costs an arm and a leg and there really isn’t a substitute. But if you have the fetches and shocks already this pretty much a budget deck. Only non land rare is Grim Lavamancer.

I honestly don’t play Modern much so I don’t really know how to build the sideboard. I think Pod, Splintertwin and graveyard base decks are some of the harder matchups so I think I will start with something like this.

3x Skullcrack
3x Combust
3x Pillar of Flame
3x Qasali Pridemage
2x Rest in Peace
1x Illness in the Ranks

Combust is for Splintertwin and Pillars are for Pod. Qasali Pridemage should be good against Affinity and Pod and I will probably sub in them in for BTE’s for any Pyroclasm based deck. Scavenging Ooze is probably the popular choice for graveyard hate but it does die to removal and it is a little mana intensive. Instead, Rest in Peace should a nice surprise factor. Skullcrack is probably the weakest sideboard card but I see it going in against Soul Sisters and Tron just for Wurmcoil Engine. Finally Illness in the Ranks is a cute one of that I want to test against Lingering Souls and the Bitterblossom.

The deck may be a little rough around the edges but I am going to give it a test run at a GPT this weekend. That is if there isn’t a yet another ridiculous blizzard on its way…

Update: Played the Zoo deck at the GPT and I would probably make these changes -4 Steppe Lynx for +4 Experiment One and maybe -1 Temple Garden for +1 Stomping Grounds. This deck doesn’t really need the variance of Steppe Lynx. When it is good it is insane and when it is bad it is really bad. It also leaves you open to cards like Electrolyze and Pyroclasm. I want to try Experiment One in its place to make the mana a bit better and make crazy Burning Tree Emissary chains more insane.

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Random Pack Break: Modern Masters

Modern Masters was a huge success for Wizards so it is no surprise that packs are getting quite hard to find and if you do find a pack for sale, they would cost you a pretty penny. I thought I would splurge a little in between some Christmas shopping because they are always make for fun pack breaks. Here is my pack.

MTG Modern Masters

MTG Modern Masters 2

My rare is a Figure of Destiny. I actually was looking for Figure of Destinys for my Legacy burn deck like 2 years ago and eventually I picked up a set. Since then Wizards has reprinted Figure of Destiny in a bunch of sets and I have pulled a bunch of them. I have like 10 Figure of Destinys now and of course they have plummeted in value. Worst yet they aren’t really good in a Legacy burn deck anymore. The foil, Paradise Mantle is probably worth a bit more. It is part of a cute combo deck in Modern that I have considered building.

One of many reasons why Modern Masters was a huge success was Modern Masters was a ton of fun to draft. If I had this pack for a booster draft, I probably would pick the Figure of Destiny. I had the most success in this format with Red/ White aggro decks. To be fair I usually draft red no matter what set it is.

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MTG Brewer: Jund Burn Designed to Beat Mono Black, Mono Blue and Esper Control

First off word of warning this is a very raw brew that I haven’t gotten around to testing yet. A lot of it is theory but I expect to iron out the kinks and refine the deck list over the next coming weeks.

Anyways if your meta for FNM’s is anything like mines, it is infested with mono black devotion, mono blue devotion and Esper control. All three decks attack the Standard meta at different angles so most decks are often good against one of the three and horrible against the others. Thus it seems to be the smart choice to play one the big 3 and that is perfect for a brewer.

I have been noticing decks are trying to play more flexible spells so no one deck beats them. Flexible spells are often weaker spells. Such spells include Devour Flesh and Last Breath. Also because the meta is becoming more predictable there are more and more main deck and sideboard slots for mirror matches. So cards like Gainsay are seeing a lot of play.

So when I was brewing this deck I decide I want to have great matchups against the Big 3 decks at whatever cost. So I am choosing to play more narrow, powerful cards rather than flexible, weaker cards. Here is the decklist

Jund Burn:
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Voyaging Satyr
1 Rakdos Keyrune
4 Doom Blade
2 Lightning Strike
1 Gaze of Granite
2 Clan Defiance
2 Rakdos’s Return
4 Toil // Trouble
4 Read the Bones
2 Skylasher
2 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Slaughter Games
4 Blood Crypt
4 Stomping Ground
4 Overgrown Tomb
1 Temple of Abandon
1 Rakdos Guildgate
1 Golgari Guildgate
5 Forest
3 Swamp
1 Mountain

Sideboard:
4 Dark Betrayal
2 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Slaughter Games
2 Vraska the Unseen
2 Golgari Charms
3 Other Sideboard Cards

The Standard format is very creature and removal heavy so this deck attacks it at an awkward angle by being mostly a burn deck. It blanks a lot of cards Game 1. But it doesn’t play weak spells like Shock like in Boros Burn deck. It plays cards that pack a punch like Clan Defiance, Rakdos’s Return and Toil // Trouble. I know Rakdos’s Return and Toil // Trouble is kind of nombo but both cards are backbreaking in different situations.

The Plan Against Mono Black Devotion:
One of the best answer to Thoughtseize is Divination type effects and this deck plays 8. My list is still a little soft to Pack Rat Game 1 so that is probably your first Slaughter Games target and the Gray Merchant of Asphodel is probably the other. I don’t want to play bad removal cards so Doom Blade is in the main but after sideboard it sides out nicely for Dark Betrayals. Game 2 it may be tempting for the Mono Black player to side out their removal since this deck only mana dorks for creatures so I am thinking about siding in creatures for this matchup. Other cards I consider is Ratchet Bomb, Pack Rat, Havoc Festival and more Gaze of Granites.

The Plan Against Mono Blue Devotion:
Basically it is three cards, Skylasher, Mistcutter Hydra and Doom Blades. After sideboard 4 Doom Blades and 4 Mistcutter Hydra should be tough to beat for any mono blue deck. If testing doesn’t go well, I may try 4 Skylashers after sideboard and Fade into Antiquity.

The Plan Against Esper Control:
Two words. Slaughter Games. There is no way Esper Control can beat this card other than Thoughtseize especially when they play so little win cons. Toil // Trouble, Rakdos’s Return, Vraska the Unseen, Mistcutter Hydra are all also pretty good in this matchup. So sure you Sphinx’s Revelation all you want. There is nothing you can draw that can stop me!

I wanted to throw out this decklist are see how it evolves. Can it beat devotion and green based aggro decks? Maybe. Can it beat mono red and white weenie decks? Probably not. Can it beat the big three mono black devotion, mono blue devotion and Esper control? It should. It is basically a sniper for the format.

Update: So I did some testing and here a couple of changes I would make -2 Doom Blades & +2 Ultimate Price, -2 Skylashers & +2 Mistcutter Hydras and I also thinking about -2 Voyaging Satyr for +2 Lightning Strikes.

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