Friday, 23 January 2015

MTG: 11 Intriguing Casual Cards from Fate Reforged

Fate Reforged is due out tomorrow, and, as always, there are a bunch of cards that are intriguing for this casual player.

This set had to be built differently, as it is bridging two different draft formats. Fate Reforged will be drafted with Khans of Tarkir, and then also exclusively with the next set (Dragons of Tarkir)

To those who don't follow the story closely, Fate Reforged actually takes place 1,000+ years in the past from the last set, and Dragons of Tarkir will take us forward to the 'present', albeit with things changed significantly. We see how the clans were not yet as strong, as they were forced to defend for themselves against nasty dragons. Three of the five mechanics from the previous set also return.

Overall, I don't feel nearly as excited for this set as I did the last one, although that is common with the second set of a three-set block. There are some cards that I definitely want to play with, but nothing that left my jaw dropping like Villainous Wealth :)

So, onto the list.


Technically, this is not a card, but this is the one thing I really want to build a deck around.

How can you take advantage of manifests? How about one of these babies?

By paying their actual mana cost to flip them over, you avoid the awful 'comes into play' triggers. They are already in play! You can also avoid the blowouts that can happen when your Torpor Orb gets bounced, or you don't ever even find one.

There are even morph creatures that can be abused with the manifest ability.

For example...

Why pay five-mana to flip Hooded Hydra when you can simply pay GG? For creatures that have a higher morph cost than their casting cost, manifest allows you to exploit some tax loopholes.You, too, can feel like Mitt Romney, if only for a fleeting moment.


I'm not sure I have an existing deck to put the Master into, but I'd love to pull off this goofy combo and gain 130+ life.


This doesn't look all that exciting, from first glance, but it is a deceptively powerful scalpel.

I saw my wife play this at the pre-release, and it helped her win some games. I will fit at least one into my current Abzan deck.

Giving your creatures the ability to clear away an annoying blocker is helpful in breaking through board stalls, especially when they thought they were safe behind their big walls. Even if it just pumps itself, a 4/5 for five mana is OK.


The cheapest of all of the sieges, this one can allow controls decks a frightening amount of card advantage and filtering. Throw away those extra lands? Dump a fatty to reanimate? Fuel delve? This one has it all. I can see Standard control decks wanting this as a 1 or 2-of.

The second ability is nothing to sneeze at either, as it can make it harder for your opponents to deal with your army. If you build around creatures, this forces your opponent to ether have a board wipe, or spend a lot more time trying to pick off your dudes.


Of the Manifest enablers, this is the one I will always want to draw first.

I don't want my Eaters of Days to get Lightning Bolted before I get a chance to flip them, and this provides the SHIELDS UP that is needed to stop the Klingons from ruining my fun!

Oh, the flying is also a nice bonus. If you end up manifesting a land, a 2/2 flyer for three mana is acceptable.


Soulflayer is one of those projects that requires a bit of work to complete, but can be worth millions once you finish the renovations and put it on the open market.

Yeah, you can just get a cheap 4/4 for two mana, but the real combo comes with Chromanticore.

 A two-mana 4/4 flyer with all them keywords?


Humble Defector is a cute, new design space that gives Red decks the potential of card advantage. Combine it with spells or abilities that untap a creature and you can easily draw four or six cards at once! If you have a sacrifice outlet, just eat him up before he makes it to the enemy camp.

For those that love politics, this is the perfect card for you. Pass around the hot potato!


Just take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness of this card, and witness the ultimate battle between Nicol Bolas and Ugin. The flavour oozes from this like a grilled cheese sandwich.

Not since Damnation has black had a pure mass removal spell at less than six mana. Mutilate is close, but depends on your mana base to be effective.

In most multi-player games, this will simply be a pure board wipe. If you have a dragon or two on the board, it's quite one-sided.


Ever since the strange 'red' card Ghostfire was printed in 2007, there have been players asking "Who is this Ugin?"

After all of this waiting, and all of the teasing, we finally get the man dragon, itself!

The art is worthy of a creature this legendary, and Control decks of any colour now have another splashy finisher that ought to cement the fates in your favour.

Even if you just use it's Ghostfire ability, you now have a 9-loyalty 'walker that must be answered. Otherwise, just wipe the board of any coloured permanent.

(Is Ugin racist? Hmm....)


I love to clone creatures. I love to bounce creatures.

One downside of clone effects is that when you clone an opponent's creature, they still have the same damn creature! Discounting enter-the-battlefield abilities, this leave you only at parity with your enemy.

Supplant Form allows you a huge tempo boost by cloning that very creature, but getting rid of their original...if only for a turn. This spell at the opponent's end-of-turn is fine form, indeed.


For those that remember Hellrider, we get another creature that turns any little 1/1 dude into am actual threat.

Aggressive decks, or token weenie decks, can sometimes run out of steam and get outclassed easily by bigger creatures. It's a brutal feeling when your opponent stabilizes and you can't force through that last 5-6 points of damage.

Brutal Hordechief is perfect for breaking through the stalemate and dealing those last points of damage to the dome. I have a black-red tokens deck that will love this card as a win condition. The hordechief doesn't even ever have to attack for him to have his effect.

"Why, yes, I'd love to get a 10-point life swing in one attack."

That last ability is also a game-winner, as you can easily force terrible blocks and ensure most of your forces get through, even after pinging them.

These 11 cards will give me some Scooby snacks to munch on until Dragons of Tarkir. At the very least, I'll have one cool new deck out of the manifest ability.

What cards are you looking forward to?

Friday, 2 January 2015

A Positive Post about Brands and Products

I've often ranted about terrible advertisements, the evils of unchecked capitalism, and overrated products.

For once, I should write something positive. Not everything in this world annoys me.

So, why not write about the brands, products, and stores that I actually like and would recommend?

Yes, I am somewhat loyal to certain big bame brands, even if I do try to support local businesses and smaller labels, rather than large multinationals


I eat a lot less fast food than I did before the turn of the century. When I do want something quick and easy, Dairy Queen is my favourite large chain, by far.

Even if DQ served only Skor Blizzards (for you Americans, your HEATH bar is a close comparison), I would still rank it #1. Skor Blizzards and ice cream cakes are manna from heaven, and the most delicious thing the human tongue has ever had the pleasure of tasting.

I love the Skor ice cream cakes so much we had one at our wedding!

The chicken strip basket is also a big winner, and the burgers, which are actually grilled, are acceptable.

Most big chain's burgers are rather 'meh', but I never get that sinking feeling of shame eating a DQ burger that I do from McRonalds or Burger Tsar.

DQ seems to be able to walk the fine line of being not-too-unhealthy and greasy, yet still serve you a meal in about 2 minutes.


This is more local to Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the US, but it has become my go-to place for something 'Mexican'.

First, realize that Vancouver has very few actual Mexican restaurants, and Taco Bell, thankfully, has no presence here. There are very few choices when you want meat, lettuce, rice, and salsa.

Taco Time is so much better than Taco Bell for the simple fact that Taco Time food does not give you instant, explosive diarrhea. Taco Time food is quite a bit healthier, fresher, and does not contain more grease than edible matter.

Taco Time also has something called Mexi-Fries, which is one of my bigger fast-food cravings. Yes, you can buy Tater-Tots at the grocery store freezer, but they never work out nearly as well.


When it comes to automobiles, I have a pretty small list of things I need looked after.

1. Reliability
2. Fuel Efficiency
3. Customer Care

Let's face it, the cars, themselves, are fairly interchangeable between most brands, and I don't need to compensate for a lack of manliness or hair with an Lamborghini or Hummer.

When it comes to my experiences with Honda, they win all three categories. My wife's last Civic lasted 15(!) years, and rarely had to go through major repairs, or a string of constant small ones.

For customer care: A big shout-out to Westwood Honda in Port Moody for their excellent service. The repair shop tells you exactly what needs to be done, doesn't try to upsell you needless stuff, and is honest about when you actually need to do things.

Toyota? Only if you want your vehicle recalled.

American brands? Forget about it. Between planned obsolescence of the parts to their attention to gas guzzlers, there is no reason to ever consider buying one.


No, I'm not a Communist :)

A&H makes my list for one very simple reason: THEY MAKE STUFF THAT DOESN'T BLOODY STINK!

It seems product manufacturers think people want their cleaning products to reek of artificial flowers. Walking down the laundry deterigant aisle at the grocery store always makes me feel nauseous. Yes, I've ranted about this way too many times.

A&H is one of the few that produces unscented products, and they generally do it right. Some other brands' 'unscented' products will still have a very strong chemical smell or they'll just mask it with some other noxious miasma.

I use A&H for anti-perspirant, toothpaste, laundry soap, and, of course, baking powder.

There, four brands I can get behind and have earned my loyalty (for now....)

What brands are you partial to?