Friday, 13 November 2015

MTG: 15 Intriguing Casual Cards from Commander 2015

Although Return to Zzzzzzzzendikar was a disappointing experience, it seems that we are getting our Christmas, after all, as Santa WOTC decided to stuff all of the cool toys into this year's Commander stocking.

While the Commander 2015 offering is a 'casual' product by its very nature, my review is from the point-of-view of a 60-card kitchen table player. Some of the new cards don't work very well in our environment, while others deserve multiple copies in certain decks.

Honestly, it was hard to whittle down the list to just fifteen. There are easily thirty new cards that I want to try in various casual decks. It is great to feel excited about Magic again!


Another awesome angel with beautiful art, the reclaimer is part of a cycle of 'I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine' cards, that allow you and one opponent to help each other out. The effect is powerful, but not one-sided...

...unless you are smart and play graveyard removal. "I'll reanimate my Akroma, and you get NOTHING!"

The downside is that your graveyard can be full of weenies and low-impact creatures, so you might have to get our your negotiating skills to return something more useful...


Let's face it, the real name of this card is SPIDER FOG.

"Spider fog, Spider fog
does whatever Spider fog does!"

There have been many one-sided Fog effects, but this one nets you some creepy crawlies in the deal. Depending on how many creatures are attacking you, the # of spiders you get may be able to take down one of the attackers. If not, you still have blockers to negate a future attack.

Bonus points if you throw a bunch of plastic spiders on the table when playing this card.


Teysa's grandpappy is the true patriarch of the Orzhov, and he loves to suck blood just as much as his ghostly brethren.

Triggering the life gain is pretty easy, and this becomes a much more powerful version of Ajani's Pridemate, who gets just one measly +1/+1 counter for each lifegain trigger.

I'm not sure how keen I am to shrink Karlov to take care of a single creature, but the ability is a nice safety valve.

Karlov easily fits into Orzhov decks, and can get out of hand quite quickly. Low cost and low maintenance. BUY NOW!


Never has a goat been more scary... Pathbreaker Ibex gives you a potential overrun+ on each of your attacks, clearing the way to take out multiple opponents.

The ability is a bit slow, but it's also one that you never want to let your opponent untap with. The Ibex basically says "Deal with me, or die!"

I just wish this card had a more relevant creature type, like Beast, so that it could fit into more tribal-oriented decks.


Here we see the new Experience Counter feature. Even in 60-card casual games, Experience Counters will still stick around, so that's not an "EDH-only" rule.

Meren promises a Raise Dead each of your end steps, at the very least. We know, however, that green/black decks can easily sacrifice numerous creatures quite easily, like Eldrazi spawn and scion, and Meren can quickly become a daily reanimator.

At 3/4 for four mana, she's efficient enough for normal Golgari decks, and her ability will slowly grind out card advantage.


Sure, it's just a fancier Oblivion Ring, but when has that spell not been good?

This version can hit a threat from each opponent, allow you to (temporarily) take control of the board and deal with multiple threats. If you are already playing O-Rings in any deck, this is an easy upgrade.

Remember that the card says 'up to one', so you can get political and not remove a threat from an opponent's board, if you feeling generous.


Love the name, and love the art. This literal Rattlesnake card will keep opponent's threats at bay, while allowing you a cheap Regrowth effect. I hope this is a more budget-conscious replacement for Eternal Witness.

Sure, the effect isn't as one-sided, but the political aspect (there's that word, again) adds another cool dimension to the card. Need your opponent to wrath the board? Let them get back their wrath, while you re-load for the post-wrath wasteland.

...Or you can just get back a Fetchland on Turn 3 and give an opponent nothing from their empty graveyard. *sad trombone*


Elspeth's ex-boyfriend is back, and looking rather sad :'(

I already have a B/W Enchantment deck, and Daxos will fit right into it as an enabler.

Daxos is cheap to cast, and can start pooping out little creatures to help trigger your Constellation abilities. While he doesn't look to be an All-Star, he's an easy include in specific decks, and makes a good late-game mana sink.


Now we see why Daxos is looking so weepy. Aww, poor wittle Daxy!

This enchantment seems innocuous, but I think it is incredibly powerful.

It comes down as a 5/5 flyer, with haste, on your fourth turn, and multiple instances will give you a plump army of temporary demons to smack opponents around with. I'd love to attack for 10 damage in the air on my fifth turn, wouldn't you?

The tormentors also dodge most sorcery-speed removal, so Wrath of God isn't going to do much for your rival.



Here we have a very interesting way for blue decks to draw cards.

Somebody attacking you with some giant monster? Flash in the ghost kitty and get back a robust return on your investment.

Yes, the kitty can be killed before it has a chance to block and deal damage, but, like any good stock, there is no return without risk.

The kitty also has four power, so it could take out some decent amount of attackers, too.

Combo corner: Play Blasphemous Act to clear the board...and draw 13 cards! *giggle*


I love creating chaos, and I love cards that force my opponents to hurt each other.

Sure, you are giving every opponent a mini-Ball Lightning on their turns, but they can't attack you with it, and like any carpenter with a new hammer, they'll want to use it on something.

Just sit back and watch the carnage.


Remember Cryptic Command, that annoying POS overpowered instant? Just like the original Command cycle, it seems that Blue gets the best one, and it isn't even close. (Thanks, WOTC)

Just casting the spell as it reads feels as orgasmic as taking a massive piss. Counter their spell, bounce their threat, and replace itself?

This card is just pure tempo and card advantage, and being able to select multiple modes makes this useful at any time of the game. Control decks will want a full playset of this bad boy.


Aww, it's a giant cute homunculus! ^.^  *squee*

Flavour Fail: How is this not an Ooze? It's a plasm, after all!

There have been many new clone+ effects, but this one has a bit of extra text that makes it even more useful.

Notice a few words missing at the end of that activated ability?


Yup, you can make this permanently smaller or larger, depending on the game state, and the effect doesn't just vanish after one use. Make sure you are aware of this little bit o' trinket text.


While this sword doesn't boost your creature's power or toughness at all, it does add this incredible new MYRIAD ability to it.

Commander/EDH players have been touting this as the must-have card of the set, and it will only ever get better as better creatures are printed. With the way we have 'enter the battlefield' abilities tacked on to more and more creatures, this blade is bloody nuts!

Creature Denail: Blade + Flametongue Kavu or Shriekmaw

Creeping Mold: Blade + Acidic Slime or Indrik Stomphowler

Card Draw Insanity: Blade + Mulldrifter

The possibilities are endless, and there are definitely some crazy combos and shenanigans players can dream of. I bet a few epic stories will come of this card...just be prepared to be Target Numero Uno once you slam this down.


This, by far, is the sweetest build-around-me card of the set, and I already have dreams of abusing this card like Rush Limbaugh abuses Oxycontin.

There are so many expensive spells that I'd love to play, but THE COST IS TOO DAMN HIGH!

Just find a way to dump some of these spells into the graveyard, get up to 8 mana, and boom-chaka-laka!

There has to be more broken things that can be done with this spell, and I look forwarding to brewing.


So, what cards from this set tickle your fancy? There are so many new toys to unwrap!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

MTG: 10 Intriguing Casual Cards from Magic Origins

The Core Set has long been the cornerstone of the Magic: The Gathering universe over its 20+ year history, dating back to Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, and then Revised. One could always count on the core set to be the all-encompassing general set that was a little less advanced and complicated than the Expect expansions.

Magic Origins represents the 'final' core set to be released for Magic, as the game shifts to two-set blocks twice a year from the usual three-set block plus core set scheme we've been used to for well over a decade. Cards that don't fit into certain worlds could find a home in the more neutral setting of the core set.

While core sets have long been rather stale (although Magic 2010 was a nice change from the previous ways of doing things), and most won't be too sad to see them go, Magic Origins proves that core sets can be fresh and exciting.

Dripping with flavor, story, and many intriguing cards, Magic Origins *almost* makes me sad that we will no longer see core sets. Almost.

I wasn't expecting there to be so much to look forward to, but I see many cards that I want to try in my casual decks.

Here is what is stoking my creative flames.

1. Tainted Remedy

If you play against people who love their life gain, this is a pretty decent way to stop them.

Of course, why just annoy them when you can kill them outright with Beacon of Immortality *cackle*. A pretty cheesy, but easy to do, 2-card combo kill.

 Your opponent's reaction when you pull this off

2. Dark Petition

Most modern tutor cards cost at least 4 mana, so you end up using your entire turn just digging for an answer.

With Dark Petition, if you meet the spell mastery condition, which can be quite easy for certain decks, you can basically end up paying Demonic Tutor mana for whatever you had to search for. Voila! You now have mana floating to cast whatever bomb or removal spell you got your greedy hands on.

Sure, combo decks will love this, but any general black deck could probably find a home for one of these.

3. Managorger Hydra

Anybody who has played against Taurean Mauler (one of my wife's favourites) knows just how easily that bull can get out of hand.

While the hydra doesn't have the all-creature-types thing going for it, it does have trample, AND it gets bigger from your own spells, too. If left unchecked, the Managorger Hydra can easily win some multiplayer games on its own, or at least take out an obnoxious opponent or two.

4. Flameshadow Conjuring

Why have one when you can have two for twice the price ONE red mana?

No contracts to sign, no shipping fees, and only one low payment!

With all of the awesome creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers on them, this enchantment is going to find itself in many of my red-based casual decks.

Sure, the token disappears quickly, but it can attack right away and you'll be sure to conjure up some immediate value.

This guy knows what I'm talking about!

5. Languish

Let's face it, Wizards of the Coast will never print a 4-mana black wrath as strong as Damnation ever again. EVER!

Mutilate, and now Languish, are as close as we can expect.

What makes Languish great is that you can build around it. If you have a bunch of high-toughness creatures (Tasigur and Siege Rhino in standard), this can be quite one-sided.

The art, flavor text, and the name are all flavor knockouts.

6. Chandra's Ignition

It's fitting that red gets such a Boom-or-Bust spell like Chandra's Ignition.

If you play your cards right *groan*, this is easily a one-sided wrath that smacks your opponent upside the head.

Yes, you are prone to get blown out like Carrot Top's hair, and this spell depends on having a good creature in play, but I'm willing to roll the dice.

How to abuse this?

1. Find a Hexproof creature with a decent amount of power.

2. Find a deathtouch creature with any amount of power. Yes, those 1 points of deathtouchy goodness will kill every one of your opponents meatbags

3. Find a lifelink creature, letting you gain life off of the misfortune of others.

7. Deadbridge Shaman

This is just a common girl with a gluteus minimus, but this is the kind of rattlesnake card that I love to play.

Your opponents will be loathe to attack into her, as the 3 power will take out quite a few of their creatures.

Your opponents will be loathe to block her, as they'll have to pay the price one way or another.

The only way to win is to not play.

8. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

The new hitch to the Planeswalkers is that we see them in their pre-spark form, back when they were normal mortals. They have to reach some condition to trigger their spark, meaning you need to work to get them to where you want to.

This version of Jace is hardly as powerful as previous iterations, but the ability to flashback big instants and sorceries, or simply play a little defense, is still valuable in control strategies.

At the bare minimum, the prodigy side will replace my looters in any deck that uses them. The only downside is that you *might* not want your looter to flip.

9. Liliana, Heretical Healer

Liliana tried to cure her brother with some forbidden concoction, turning him into a zombie (hence, the token). Strangely enough, I'm a zombie until I've had my morning coffee.

A 2/3 lifelinker for three mana is solid, but the value you get from the token, as well as her reanimation ability, makes her a powerhouse all around. Of all of the 'walkers in the set, she seems to be the easiest to flip.


Yeah, I'm kind of cheating by putting four cards here, but they all fit into a single Red-Blue Thopters archetype. If you are going to build that deck, you want all of these.

What I like about these four, in particular, is that they are all pretty good in their own right, and don't necessarily have to go into just one specific deck.

Hangarback Walker - Play this on turn two, and keep ticking it up. When it explodes, it's raining thopters! It makes a good late-game play, as you can sink in all of your extra mana into it.

Pia and Kiran Nalaar - Chandra's parents do a good impression of Siege-Gang Commander, and turn all of your drones into suicide bombers.

Thopter Spy Network - A little more narrow, but you get a card that basically combines Bitterblossom and Coastal Piracy. In any artifact deck, and even with artifact lands, you are going to get some serious incremental advantage every turn.

Whirler Rogue is just plain nuts for an uncommon, as you get the same little army that you do with Chandra's parents. What I really appreciate is that you can use the rogue's ability right away, and make another creature of yours unblockable, and with no mana cost.

Of course, if you put these all together in a single deck, you have a drone army that would make Barack Obama jealous.

Those are the 10+ cards that have me the most excited to brew with. What strikes your fancy?

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