Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just Watch the opening part as the camera angle shifts up and down, and Glen Beck blathers aimlessly. I feel as if Beck is trying to hypnotize his audience into thinking using the N-Word is okay.

Top 10 Dragon's Maze Cards for Commander, Part 2

5. Sire of Insanity
Sire of Insanity
Sire of Insanity will steal your lunch money and then use it to buy pornography and sneak the pornography in your locker and tip off the principal so you will get suspended and your mom will take away your Playstation. He is a jerk with the Midas touch and he does not fuck around. There is not waiting until he dies or until your next upkeep. No, he makes everyone lose their hand immediately while leaving his beefy body around to bully all the utility creatures on the board. Sire really punishes slower decks and if you are able to accelerate him out early could be quite devastation at bringing the game to a standstill while everyone is in top deck mode. Granted if people are playing graveyard recursion you might end up helping them more than hurting them, but you can always play graveyard recursion yourself or be packing a fair amount of graveyard hate. He is powerful and in the right situation can net you a huge amount of card advantage, but expect for your opponents to be unhappy if you play with him.

4. Master of Cruelties
Master of Cruelties
If Sire of Insanity is the school's worst bully, then Master of Cruelties is the kid that he is afraid of. Master of Cruelities is that kid that is lighting matches in the hallway and always talking about how he loves the smell of fire. He has never shared in his life, not even in Kindergarten, he has no concern for the well-being or feelings of others and his sole motivation in life is causing destruction. You have no doubts in your mind that he will end up in prison before the age of 18. Voracious Cobra is already quite a potent card in EDH at scaring away opposing attackers or getting in for damage  and this is a powerful upgrade for only one mana more. Except for a small subset of creatures like other first strikers or indestructible creatures, Master of Cruelties will be able to kill anything in combat and survive, yet it is essential for your opponents to throw their creatures away and block because they will often be taking 20+ damage from one hit from this guy. Being at 1 in a multiplayer game is one of the worst strategic positions you can be in since it makes you so vulnerable and forces you to play defensively to keep yourself alive. And lord have mercy if you equip a whispersilk cloak to him. Despite being a jerk of the highest magnitude and putting a huge target on your head, Master of Cruelties is insanely powerful and probably worth the risk.

3. Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
Full disclosure: I have built a Teysa deck that was inspired by my Zuberica deck and although it a bit of a good stuff deck and still needs some work, I'm already quite happy with its power level and fun factor. Although since seven mana is a steep price to pay for a general, Teysa might be better as an inclusion in your 99 cards than as your commander, but I think she still has a lot of potential as a general. Also, despite having the built in protection from creatures which is an awesome ability to have on a commander, it is unfortunate to have Teysa killed by a wrath or spot removal right after you play her and then have to get up to 9 mana to recast her in colors that don't have much ramp. However, if Teysa does stick around she is amazing at stabilizing your board and discouraging people from attacking you. She can already block about any ground creature and live but also kills any creatures that do get through to you. Who will want to attack into Teysa and lose all their creatures unless they can kill you that turn? Meanwhile since your defenses are built up you can still be attacking with unblocked Teysa each turn and she wears equipment quite well. It is a rare card that can play defense so well, while also being a solid contributor on offense.

2. Pontiff of Blight
Pontiff of Blight
Extort is quite powerful in multiplayer and this is most powerful extort card from multiplayer that Wizards printed. Given a decent number of creatures on the board, this makes every spell you play have an exsanguinate kicker. All this damage and lifegain will add up quickly and allow you to play defense with all of your creatures while draining everyone out turn after turn. This guy might seem unassuming, but, in most cases, is one of those creatures you have to kill right after it hits the board if you don't want that player to run away with the game.

1. Debt to the Deathless
Debt to the Deathless
Exsanuinate 2.0. Yes, please. Sure it is much slower and more mana intensive, but once you hit seven mana this is simply better for the price than exsanuinate and the upside just gets better and better from there. From the fact that it plays so well with extort and that it simultaneously helps you kill your opponents while gaining you so much life, I expect this card to see a lot of play as a finisher in grindy, long-game decks.

Honorable Mentions: 
Trostani's Summoner
Savageborn Hydra
Obzedat's Aid

Monday, June 24, 2013

Top 10 Dragon's Maze Cards for Commander

Now new and improved with (hopefully) 100% fewer silly mistakes, my top ten commander list is back with Dragon's Maze to make your day 110% more exciting.

10. Zhur-Taa Ancient

Zhur-Taa Ancient

While he does come with his risks, Zhur-Taa Ancient is a sizeable body for only 5 mana. Seven power is nothing to sneeze at, allowing him to command some decent board presence. However, the real reason this old guy with the huge neck makes it on the list is his mana doubling ability. At first glance, doubling everyone's mana at the table might seem like it is putting you at a massive disadvantage since all of your opponents get access to double the mana before you do. Yet, they will not necessarily be using all of that mana to go after you, especially if there is someone more powerful at the table and in the right position it can be an excellent way to boost certain players at the table to accelerate their board presence or pull off a massive fireball to catch up with a player who is running away with the game. Also, since he is only 5 mana, later in the game, you could easily be able to play him and some other meaningful spells within the same turn. In fact, if you build your deck correctly, you should be able to take advantage of his effect better than anyone else at the table because you are playing mana ramp and/or awesome X spells like genesis wave. His biggest downside that stops him from being higher on the list is the Hunted Wumpus effect (where someone just drops a nekrataal to kill it when his enter the battlefield ability triggers) since one of your opponents could  play some huge creature and then have mana left over to throw a STP at the ancient.

9. Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

At number 9, Gruul slams in there with another explosively game-changing, if awkward beater in Ruric Thar. Ruric has a potent combination of abilities with vigilance, reach and most importantly dealing 6 damage to a player whenever they cast a noncreature spell. The last ability will vary greatly in power; it will completely hose some decks and do almost nothing against creature heavy decks. It's hard to believe that any player who will be messed up by this card will not want to kill it as soon as possible taking six damage in the process to avoid much more later. However, it is a great way to give an aggressive deck more reach, since it punishes your enemies for clearing the board or countering your kill spells to stay alive and they are in real trouble if they are at 6 or less life. Yet, despite its aggressive pedigree, it still serves as an excellent blocker, killing or trading with all but the most massive fliers in commander. His biggest downside is the fact that he has to attack every turn. Sure, the vigilance helps mitigate some of this downside, but the truth is that sometimes the board will be so clogged where anyone he attacks will kill him and that is just terrible to lose an impressive creature for no reason. I guess Wizards wanted to emphasize the recklessness of Gruul this time around with these two.

8. Progenitor Mimic

Progenitor Mimic

Like all clone effects, Progenitor Mimic takes a big hit in commander from the new legendary rules changes. Not being able to take out any commander despite hexproof or other shenanigans, makes clones much less flexible. However, repeatedly copying the best nonlegendary creature (even if it has hexproof on the board is an ability that can carry the game away post haste. Imagine the mimic copying Terrastodon or Simic Sky Swallower every turn. The mimics biggest downside is it needs time to start working. If somebody wraths or if you are under a lot of pressure, it is not the best creature to be playing, but in games where you can get him to stick around for multiple turns in a row gaining you massive board presence or card advantage in the process, there are few better creatures.

7. Melek, Izzet Paragon

Melek, Izzet Paragon

Melek is a fun, build-around general unlike any of the other Izzet generals in that he isn't overpowered and annoying like Jhoira of the Ghitu, screaming for infinite combos like Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind or absurdly underpowered like Tibor and Lumia. Playing with all the most powerful instants and sorceries and finally having a general that supports those cool instant/sorcery cards like Sphinx-Bone Wand seems like a blast and a deck that would play differently that your average commander deck. Melek is one of those rare cards that feels like he hits a home run for both Timmy and Johnny and I'd expect to see a lot of him at kitchen tables for years to come.

6. Tajic, Blade of the Legion

Tajic, Blade of the Legion

From the piddliest of 0/1 to overcosted 3/3s, any creature that has indestructability has to be on your radar for commander playability. Darksteel Gargoyle is a French vanilla creature that costs 3 more mana than he would without indestructability but he is still a servicable addition to commander decks. So when I saw a legendary indestructable rare with an explosive ability in the same vein as Konda but much cheaper, I wet pants a little bit. Sure if you are unable to get batallion to trigger he is little better than the likes of Darksteel Gargoyle (although any general that is hard to kill deserves consideration in voltron strategies), but unblocked his batallion ability makes him a three turn clock. Cramming your deck full of the best voltron equipment, holy mantle effects and evasive utility creatures and beaters to trigger batallion (hello Soltari Guerillas) will make a fun aggressive deck. Sure, you have to jump through a few hoops to make him as effective as possible, but having built in protection makes your strategy much more resilient to much of the removal played in commander.

Check back soon for the top 5.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Asparagus Kraj

I've been doing some spring cleaning of my commander decks recently.  Editing, making, or taking apart commander decks.  One such deck I feel that I have been neglecting and am considering dismantling is the Kraj deck.  Its a super durdley deck that takes a lot of skill and brain power to operate.  I never play it and its confusing as shit.  The thing is I haven't got the heart to take it apart.  I think its a cool commander and a powerful deck.  For these reasons, I suggest Phil take the deck to edit and play.  Kraj deserves a good home.

Let's look at Kraj and what he does.  First off, he puts 1/1 counters on any creature.  Seems good.  There's a lot of counter stuff going on these days so this card has aged well.  He's good with Persist, evolve, graft, and even spikes.  He makes creatures bigger too so even if those targets have no activated abilities they can still get a little boost.  The activated ability part cannot be overlooked either.  There's tons of stuff you can do with him with your own creatures as well as your opponents'.  Having strong activated abilities on the creatures in your deck is one thing but having everyone else's abilities is an added perk.  Needless to say there's always a lot of possibilities with this deck and every game is different.

Its all the different things Kraj can do that make this deck confusing.  Do I put a counter on something?  Use an activated ability?  Swing?  Its never entirely clear what to do with Kraj.  Put a Pemmin's Aura on him and things just get even crazier.  Kraj is confusing and as the deck has evolved, pun intended, it has just gotten harder to manage.  Much like my old wizard deck this deck has turned into something beyond my understanding and skill level.  I'm more aggro, Kraj is more controlling and requires deep analysis, pun intended.  Who do we know that can fully appreciate a deck like this?

I think this deck is more Phil's speed.  Phil plays Kikki Jikki, a deck which is fairly similar I feel.  Granted this deck is a little different than Kikki but I think Phil can handle it.  Besides I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Phil enjoyed this deck a little more than me as he was always thinking of cards that would be good in it.  So what I'm saying is I'm willing to give you the deck and all the cards in it for you to play and edit.  Otherwise Kraj will probably be taken apart.  Phil, will you accept an Oooze Muntant into your deck box?  Or should I start another petition?