Modern Movements

It’s already been a couple of days since the conclusion of Pro-tour Born of the Gods in Valencia, Spain and I was supposed to write a report about it in the financial aspect but I had to accomplish some important tasks first.

A lot of people are wondering why even though no copies of Bitterblossom made it in the top 8 is that it’s still retailing around $60. The thing is that it doesn’t mean that if it didn’t make it to the top tables is that it’s automatically a bad card for the modern format and that its price would immediately plummet.

Sure, only 6 players may have played the archetype at the event but take note that there were three of the 6 and these 3 are pro-players who made it day two; each one piloting their own version of UB Faeries namely; Alex Sittner, Shota Yasooka and Joel Larsson who unfortunately only ended up with a 3-2 standing as per this article.

Modern Movements

Modern Movements

Furthermore, even Gerry Thompson thinks that Faeries has the potential to make it big in modern. Another factor which may be keeping Bitterblossom at its current price is the upcoming Grand Prix Richmond which will be on the 7th to 9th of March. It’s just a week away before the next big event is upon us. This event will eventually determine if Bitterblossom really have what it takes to be a key player in the modern format or will end up sitting by the sidelines. However, this is a good time to be selling your Bitterblossoms if you want to take advantage of its exorbitant price.

Because if no copies of the said card makes it to the top 8 then I feel that it’s very likely for the hype to completely go down the drain along with its price. On the other hand, if copies of Bitterblossom make it to the top then it’s very likely that the price will be retained.

Moving forward, it wasn’t only Bitterblossom’s price that moved but also the following:

Modern Movements

One of the most noticeable price increases would be Primeval Titan’s. The fact is that a couple of Scapeshift decks have been winning MTGO modern events since last week and this has caused the mythic rare’s price to spike. The rest on the list on the other hand were perhaps due to the decks making it to the top 8, particularly Threads of Disloyalty which the eventual PT Champion Shaun Mclaren effectively utilized to win his final match against Wilson. In addition to these changes, I also took notice of this card’s current price and I am surprised that it already hit this high.

Modern Movements

Frankly, I am tempted to sell out my singleton planeswalker and eldrazi because I am not really planning to brew any RG Tron anytime soon as well as a Show and Tell deck. Still, it’s nice to see that the cards I held on to even after they rotated out of the standard format have their prices rocketing up.

To sum it all up:

  • Sell your Bitterblossoms or take a gamble by holding on to them and wait for the results of the up-coming PT Richmond. This is if you don’t plan on playing Faeries anytime soon.
  • There’s still a chance that Primeval Titan’s price may increase so I feel that it’s still safe to keep them for a longer period of time as compared to Bitterblossom. However, selling them right now may not be that bad of an idea as well.
  • The only direction that Karn Liberated and Emrakul, The Aeons Torn will go is up. First and foremost, they are utilized both in Modern and Legacy especially that the eldrazi is one of the core pieces of a popular Legacy deck which will probably remain a tier 1 deck for years to come. It’s up to you if you want to sell them or wait for the price to increase before selling them. The only time that their price will plummet is if one of them gets the axe (With Emrakul being more likely to get the axe than Karn IF they even become candidates for banning which I highly doubt will happen anytime soon).
  • A lot of people may believe that Faeries may not be cut for the current modern format but then again, there are also people who believe otherwise and some of them are pros. Furthermore, this guy has been very consistent in MTGO events when it comes to his results. Can we say that he’s just being lucky and or he’s just able to dodge his bad matchups when he’s constantly winning MTGO events?

Modern Movements

GP Richmond is just a week away and we’ll eventually find out the real score between the various archetypes in the modern format. Will Faeries be able to prove itself or eventually be forgotten to oblivion? Will URW based decks continue to reign supreme or will Zoo emerge victorious this time? What are your thoughts about the current modern format?

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Thassa’s Rebuff: Yay? Or Nay?

It’s already been a week since Born of the Gods became legal in the current Standard format and based on recent tournament results, the metagame didn’t really change that much. You’d still see Mono-Black Devotion decks trumping everyone’s deck in your local hobby shop or an Azorius Control in another. There may be a few changes in the deck lists of players but nothing really out of the ordinary. It’s not surprising anymore to see the king of Oreskos included in white-based decks or Mono-Black Devotion decks utilizing the much hyped Bile Blight to deal with various threats.

And like what most are expecting, the Mono-Blue Devotion deck is perhaps the only deck which didn’t get much upgrades in the new set. And frankly, I don’t really think that this card can make much difference.

Thassa’s Rebuff: Yay? Or Nay?

I love playing blue because I really enjoy the opportunity of being able to stop what the opponent’s trying to do with counter spells.

Thassa’s Rebuff: Yay? Or Nay?

“Wolverine, Doctor Strange, and Richard Kane Ferguson. Wait.”

I can still remember the times that I used to play with my cousins years ago using a UW Millstone deck having 12 counters in the main; Four Force of Will, four Counterspells, and four Arcane Denials. It was so much fun sitting on them and then if they over commit, you just cast a Wrath of God to clean the board and then mill their deck slowly using Millstones and or a Grindstone.

These days, the power level of counter spells available in the Standard format right now is just no way near comparable to the ones of old. Sadly, even if I pray to all the gods in the world, good or bad, or even the ones in Theros the chances of Wizards of the Coast reprinting Force of Will is very unlikely.  And though this one looks good in paper, I am feeling iffy about its function because of another counter spell that hasn’t really made much impact in the Standard format.

Thassa’s Rebuff: Yay? Or Nay?

Before we talk about Thassa’s Rebuff, let’s talk about Spell Rupture first. Spell Rupture is the kind of counter spell that you’re likely to put in a creature tempo-based deck wherein you play cheap creatures with decent power that can maximize Spell Rupture’s effectiveness. A good example would be aggro bant decks of the recent Standard wherein you play a first turn dork, and then a Loxodon Smiter or a Strangleroot Geist to beat down the enemy while you sit on the rupture.

Thassa’s Rebuff: Yay? Or Nay?

The downside of it though is that if you’re against a deck that has a lot of removals then you are likely to get stuck with a dead counter in your hand at some point in the game. This especially holds true when you’re fighting true control decks that uses Supreme Verdict.

Thassa’s Rebuff: Yay? Or Nay?

Thassa’s Rebuff  functions in a similar manner except that instead of looking at a creature’s power, we look at the player’s devotion count. This is slightly better in a sense that since devotion doesn’t only count creatures but also other permanents with blue mana symbols on its mana cost, it can still function even if you don’t have creatures but you have other permanents like Bident of Thassa or a Jace in play that add to your devotion count. But it suffers the same drawback that the former counter has when your opponent packs a load of permanent removals.

Thassa’s Rebuff: Yay? Or Nay?

“Now, imagine Jace holding that”

The problem that these two counters have in common is that they are unable to counter the spells that you really want to counter like Supreme Verdict which effectively gets rid of creatures which is where these two counter spells mostly get their strength from. At the same time, you’re forced to commit creatures every time that your opponent gets rid of one which means that you’re tapping precious mana that you should be leaving up to be able to counter your opponent’s spells.

And if your opponent is not able to get rid of your creatures then you’re already probably winning in the first place. Also, Thassa’s Rebuff, just like most counters, is not a good card especially when you’re behind because it doesn’t do anything at all for you nor anything that will get you ahead of the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Thassa’s Rebuff doesn’t see much play in the near future since Spell Rupture which has a similar function didn’t see much play as well back then.

The best scenario that I can see the counter spell working is against decks that doesn’t do well when it comes to removing permanents. Decks like R/G Monsters or G/W aggro may possibly fall prey to Thassa’s Rebuff more often than not and if these decks become popular, I wouldn’t be surprised to see blue decks using this two cost counter as oppose to the usual Dissolve. But it still won’t counter Skylashers and Mistcutter Hydra which are the threats that you really want to deal with in the first place.

Thassa's Rebuff: Yay? or Nay?

“Good luck rebuffing these guys”

Overall, Thassa’s Rebuff may seem like a nice counter but I am not really seeing it being a staple or playing a big role in Mono-Blue Devotion decks in the nearby future. For the meantime, I’d prefer to stick with my Dissolves.

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Reveling with a God

The prerelease is already this coming weekend and a lot of people are already getting excited to open their first Born of the Gods packs to see what goodies they’ll get. I, on the other hand, would not be able to participate in the upcoming events due to things that I need to take care of first. For the meantime, let me share my thoughts about one of the hyped cards in the set:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Before the spoiler season, there were artworks from Born of the Gods that has been circulating online and people were talking about Xenagos, rising to godhood. I initially didn’t believe the idea because for one, Xenagos already has a card of his own.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Okay fine, there’s nothing in the rules of Magic: The Gathering or articles written by pro-Magic players or people working in the R&D that says this is not possible but. Ain’t it unfair?! While Jace Beleren doesn’t have a version of himself with a printed power and toughness! Wouldn’t it be great if all the planeswalkers would have a creature version of themselves like Xenagos?!

Ahem.

Moving away from my senseless rant which isn’t really a rant but just me overreacting, Xenagos, God of Revels’ ability is reminiscent to what Fires of Yavimaya offers.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

It was back in the year 2000 where four decks having four copies of this card (with the exception of one deck only having three copies) burned the tournament down that was Pro – Tour Chicago. Though the deck didn’t take the top spot, four players took four of the top 8 spots using these decks namely, Jon Finkel, Michael Pustilnik, Zvi Mowshowitz, and Robert Dougherty. For reference, here’s a list of the deck:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

The main idea here is to ramp into fatties like Blastoderm and spells like Saproling Burst to create a strong board presence with the help of elves and birds. Normally, these spells wouldn’t be that much effective because they have a limited number of uses because of the fading mechanic. Having Fires online however negates this drawback and lets you take full advantage of these spells. This means that if the opposing deck is slow, then Blastoderms and an army of saprolings will devour the opponent relentlessly and mercilessly.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Having Xenagos, God of Revels online offers the same incentive and in fact does it better in a sense that the creature being blessed by the god grows twice as large. Though Xenagos may cost a bit higher as compared to most gods, he is in a color where playing a five CC creature on the fourth turn is common thanks to mana creatures like Elvish Mystic or Sylvan Caryatid.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Furthermore, with the number of gruul-colored permanents lying around, awakening Xenagos is not that difficult.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

So why is Nylea, God of the Hunt there? Because why not? If there’s another thing that you’d want your creatures to have, particularly those that are guided by the god of revels, it’s the ability to trample your opponents’ creatures. So what about Xenagos’s stats? Well, it’s a typical stat for a god though the only difference is that if you have enough permanents counting towards Xenagos’ devotion, then you can have the satyr god rampage right away and grow him into a 12/10 creature.

If your opponent doesn’t have the means to stop the ravaging god then it’s likely that it’d be a two turn clock or so for him. Having a Nylea on the battlefield will also ensure that the damage goes through in case Xenagos gets chump blocked by an elemental token or a Boros Reckoner for that matter.  Also, having a Ghor-Clan Rampager in hand and using it for its blood rush ability to strengthen Xenagos will likely end games on the spot. I tried brewing an G/R aggro and this is what I came up with.

G/R Aggro

Lands: 23

10 Forest

5 Mountain

4 Stomping Ground

4 Temple of Abandon

Creatures: 30

3 Boon Satyr

4 Elvish Mystic

3 Fanatic of Xenagos

4 Ghor-Clan Rampager

2 Nylea, God of the Hunt

3 Scavenging Ooze

3 Sylvan Caryatid

3 Xenagos, God of Revels

4 Witchstalker

Spells: 7

4 Domri Rade

3 Xenagos, the Reveler

As you’ve noticed, this isn’t your typical GR devotion or GR monsters build. The main idea here is to try to get through as much damage as possible with the help of cards like Nylea, God of the Hunt or Ghor-Clan Rampager. Furthermore, awakening Nylea is not something the deck wants to actively do since she doesn’t benefit from the trample she grants your creatures. On the other hand, having an awakened Xenagos, God of Revels is serious trouble for your opponent, not to mention that like all the other gods in the set, he’s indestructible.

Overall, Xenagos, God of Revels will likely impact the up-coming Standard format and people are already excited to play him. I am not much into playing big green monsters but then again, I wouldn’t mind having the god of revels on my side.

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Reveling with a God

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Ephara, God of the Polis

Ephara, God of the Polis was one of the first cards spoiled during the first week of the Born of the Gods spoiler season that I got my eyes on. At that time, I thought that it’d be better to wait for all the gods to be spoiled before I decide to write an article about them. However, I eventually decided to just write about the gods that I personally like as oppose to what I did in this article as change of pace.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

“POLIS. Not the POLICE!”

The primary reason why I liked Ephara is because I enjoy drawing cards and her global ability allows you to do that, provided that you are able to fulfill her conditions.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

What’s neat about this ability is that regardless of whose upkeep it is, as long as a creature entered the battlefield under your control during the previous turn, you get to draw a card. This means that if you have creatures with flash and you play them at the end of your opponent’s turn, you get to trigger her ability and draw an additional card during your upkeep.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Furthermore, having a Thassa, God of the Sea at such a time not only allows you to filter what you will be drawing thanks to the scry ability Thassa offers, but you also get to draw a card right away which is in addition to what you will be drawing during your draw step. On the other hand, adding a creature to the battlefield on your turn allows you to get more gas during your opponent’s upkeep phase in case he starts flinging spot removals on your creatures.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

“You don’t want to mess with these ladies alright”

Suddenly, your creature spells become cantrips and in fact, Ephara’s ability isn’t limited to you casting creature spells. If for example you have a Heliod, God of the Sun in the battlefield and you used its ability to generate tokens, you still get to draw a card on the next turn’s upkeep. And this can actually make it difficult for your opponent to control the board through the use of spot removals and or sweepers since you are able to replenish your hand efficiently through the god of the polis’ help.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Let’s also not forget that she is a creature herself that you can potentially awaken provided that you are able to have enough permanents that add up to Ephara’s devotion requirements. Of course it’s easier to awaken Thassa or any other mono-colored gods but then again, there are a lot of permanents that can reliably add to Ephara’s devotion count such as the following:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Take note that these permanents aren’t easy to deal with unlike with most permanents that have a printed power and toughness, not to mention that Ephara already counts two towards your devotion. In addition, Ephara, just like with any other gods, is indestructible and has respectable stats that can potentially decimate your opponent in a few turns if not dealt with. Her converted manacost is also reasonable though the four manacost slot in a blue white-based deck is really getting pretty tight.

To be honest, I’ve been having a bit of difficulty brewing a deck which sports the God of the Polis. My original idea was about a W/U deck with the King of Oreskos included in it and Precinct Captain. After that, I felt that Thassa was too good not to be included in such a deck so I tried to brew a Mono-Blue Devotion deck splashing white for Ephara and Detention Sphere.

UW Devotion

Lands: 25

2 Azorius Guildgate

2 Godless Shrine

4 Hallowed Fountain

9 Island

3 Mutavault

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

4 Temple of Enlightenment

Creatures: 31

4 Cloudfin Raptor

3 Ephara, God of the Polis

4 Frostburn Weird

4 Judge’s Familiar

4 Master of Waves

4 Nightveil Specter

4 Thassa, God of the Sea

4 Tidebinder Mage

Spells: 4

1 Cyclonic Rift

3 Detention Sphere

The list may seem off in a sense that we don’t have Jace, Architect of Thought in the main as well as the Bidents but then again, this is still untested. The Godless Shrines’ inclusion is a means to increase the chances of playing a third turn Nightveil Specter similar to what Tomoharu Saito did with the manabase of his Gruul Aggro. By including two Temple Gardens, he is able to increase the chances of being able to play a Boros Reckoner on the third turn.

The truth is that I want to thank Patrick Chapin for discussing Ephara and including a mono-blue deck list with Ephara in it because it gave me the courage to post my own version of the deck here. I was initially unsure if it’s a good idea to include Ephara in such a list since the manabase seems to lose consistency as compared to how the original Mono-Blue Devotion deck was doing. I guess the idea doesn’t seem ridiculous after all but then again, a lot of brews tend to look ridiculous at first until they start taking down tournaments.

For reference, here is the deck list that Patrick Chapin brewed:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

What I am interested in brewing as well is a UW deck utilizing the heroic mechanic. So far, here’s what I’ve come up with:

UW Heroes

Lands: 22

4 Azorius Guildgate

4 Hallowed Fountain

2 Island

4 Mutavault

4 Plains

4 Temple of Enlightenment

Creatures: 22

4 Battlewise Hoplite

2 Eidolon of Countless Battles

2 Ephara, God of the Polis

4 Fabled Hero

2 Heliod, God of the Sun

4 Hero of Iroas

4 Nyxborn Shieldmate

Spells: 16

2 Bident of Thassa

3 Detention Sphere

4 Ethereal Armor

3 Ephara’s Enlightenment

4 Stratus Walk

Okay, again, this list is untested and I am still deliberating the cards in the list and if you’ve noticed, the inclusion of the Bident of Thassa here is because of my penchant for drawing cards. Then again, it’s an enchantment which counts towards the Ethereal Armor’s bonuses. Furthermore, there are seven aura spells here that can make your creatures evasive which helps increase the chance of you being able to take advantage of the Bident’s initial ability. Also, getting a Fabled Hero through uncontested, using the Bident’s second ability is something worth considering.

Some of the cards that I considered but still unsure about are Artisan of Forms, Hopeful Eidolon, Gift of Orzhova, Brave the Elements, Retracting Helix, Gods Willing, Spear of Heliod, Chosen by Heliod, Fate Foretold and some more. For the meantime, here’s what I have but I still intend to polish this list and hopefully, I can come up with a decent one soon.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Overall, I am really hoping that Ephara would at least make an impact in the current Standard but only time will tell if she would. Regardless, she’s still one of my favorite picks for this season. How about you?

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods:  Ephara, God of the Polis

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

I was suppose to write about my favorite BoTG god which is Ephara, God of the Polis but seeing that one of my favorite professional players, Patrick Chapin already discussing it’s advantages along with the deck lists that Ephara can fit into made me decide to put the idea aside. Not that I don’t plan to talk about her one of this days but for the meantime, let me talk about another card that I find interesting.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

At first glance, this elemental creature doesn’t seem impressive since it’s primarily a defensive and reactive card, not to mention that it doesn’t have any good stats. So why did it get my attention? For one blue mana to cast and to activate, the elemental can deal with a lot of creatures regardless of their size. Is a Boros Reckoner heading your way? Put the elemental in front of it and then shuffle away! Hmm, how about an awakened, and angry Mogis, God of Slaughter about to pummel you? Yes, you can banish him back into Nyx or in this case, in your opponent’s deck.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

Also take note that doing so also gets you to shuffle your elemental in your library for the potential of drawing it again at a later time and then being able to cast it again to keep away unpleasant threats from beating you down. The secondary ability of the elemental may seem too difficult to trigger but then again, it has its uses. If for example a Blood Baron of Vizkopa is threatening to chump block your only means of closing the game then what you could do is attack with the small elemental along with your other attacker and then activate the secondary ability of the elemental.

 Not only will this ensure that your other creature gets to bash the opponent in the face for the final points of damage but it also gets rid of your opponent’s sole defender in such a scenario. Also take note that your opponent wouldn’t be gaining any amount of life here since both the elemental and the vampire gets bounced back into their respective libraries before the damage resolution step.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

“Baron won’t even have the chance to bear its fangs”

Of course this kind of scenario may be rare but it can happen. Other than that, the Vortex Elemental also has the “elemental” creature sub type which means….

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

“The truth is that the Master ate some Mizu Mizu Fruit and is a Logia user”

It grows into a 1/2 creature the moment you put a Master of Waves into the battlefield. It may not be impacting but it’s good to know that the Master is able to strengthen your 0/1 elemental. Take note that the elemental also adds to Thassa’s devotion requirement. Another neat application of Vortex Elemental’s ability is that it can deal with creatures with hexproof since the wording of its first ability doesn’t state any target.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

“Hexproof? What hexproof?”

Is that Reaper of the Wilds giving you a serious problem? Then block with your elemental and activate its first ability. Even the big bad wolf who stalks witches is not spared from the vortex that awaits it. The vortex will swallow creatures whole like a whirlpool hungry for ships and sailors. In fact, if you have a means to force multiple creatures to block the Vortex Elemental, you can drown all of them at once! It’s ambitious but not impossible.

Overall, I have a feeling that this card will see play as a sideboard in most blue-based strategies. The idea that it can deal with any creature just by simply blocking and paying one blue mana is very appealing to me and I won’t be surprised if you see 3-4 copies of this in various blue-based decks, especially those who play control. If there are players out there who dare play a Yoked Ox, then why not play a creature which does something nifty interesting to creatures it blocks?

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Vortex Elemental

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

It’s already the second week of the Born of the Gods spoiler season and so far, a total of 64 cards have already been spoiled out of 165 cards from the whole set as of this writing. And there are already a bunch of cards that I am already swooning over, hoping that I’d get to play with them soon. One of them would be the King of Oreskos, Brimaz.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

It seems that Wizards of the Coast noticed that white seems to be having a difficult time in catching up with the other colors in the current format. If you haven’t noticed (though I am sure that you, faithful reader already did), white is the only color that has a devotion deck in Standard that didn’t have much impact in the metagame. Of course, this is not to say that playing white doesn’t have its merits. In fact, there are a lot of white-based aggro decks out there that can bring down a tournament. Orzhov aggro decks that rely on Thoughtseize and Sin Collectors to take away Espers means of destroying the white players’ armies (I am looking at you Supreme Verdict), and or Boros aggro decks that come out of the gates real fast supported by Boros Charm and Brave the Elements are common in every tournament.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

“Answers”

With Born of the Gods around the corner, white is getting a lot of upgrades and one of those is the Brimaz, the King of Oreskos. When I saw Brimaz the first time, he reminded me of this card:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

“Are you ready boys?”

I personally like this card back then because it can single-handedly end a game if left unanswered. I used to board in this lady against midrange decks and or creature-dense decks back when I was still using UW Delver. Imagine, that’s already 7 power on the board if it goes through the player which means that it is a three-turn clock. This is not counting any other creatures you have in the battlefield that are inspired by the hero.

Brimaz on the other hand may not offer the same board presence as the heroine did when she was still legal in Standard but no creature will ever get past the king of Oreskos that’s for sure thanks to him being ever-vigilant. In addition, whenever he is assigned as a blocker, a soldier of his comes to his support to help take down any foe who dares try to trespass their territory. And take note that his loyal soldier is as keen as their king when it comes to those who’re trying to sneak past them.

In addition, Brimaz always go forth into battle supported by one of his loyal subjects. While the feline king doesn’t share the ability to inspire allies with a heartfelt battle cry like what the previous heroine was able to bestow on her comrades, he is blessed with the same body as the heroine in Mirrodin. However, what I liked about Brimaz in particular is his mana cost. For only 1WW, you will be able to call forth Oreskos’ King and this means that if you are playing first, you will be able to strengthen your board presence considerably and can swing for a good amount of damage before the opponent even plays a sweeper.

If there’s one drawback that Brimaz poses, it is the fact that he is a legendary creature. This means that you can only have one Brimaz on the battlefield at one time unlike with Hero of Bladehold. But I guess it won’t stop players in putting at least 3-4 copies of Brimaz in their white-based decks since it is likely that Brimaz would be hitting the bin more often than not because if he doesn’t, it means that your opponent is in deep trouble. Plus, you would want to draw him as often as you could because of the power that he offers when you play him. If your opponent is unprepared, he will be quickly end up in the backseat. Also, Brimaz can easily trigger battalion thanks to his ability to summon soldiers to his side.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: The King of Oreskos

Having this on the battlefield means that the King of Oreskos and his loyal soldiers can potentially trump the opponent’s creatures. So far, the decks that would love to have him would be the white-based aggro decks that I’ve mentioned above. In fact, Patrick Chapin already had brewed a couple of decks sporting Brimaz.

Orzhov Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

4 Godless Shrine

4 Mutavault

7 Plains

2 Orzhov Guildgate

1 Swamp

4 Temple of Silence

Creatures: 29

3 Banisher Priest

4 Boros Elite

4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

4 Daring Skyjek

3 Dryad Militant

3 Imposing Sovereign

4 Precinct Captain

4 Soldier of the Pantheon

Spells: 9

4 Brave the Elements

3 Orzhov Charm

2 Spear of Heliod

Truth be told that this list is basically the same list that Nakada, Ryo used when he won in the Grand Prix Shizuoka event. So there’s really nothing new about the list though this list is still likely to evolve as the metagame develops.

Boros Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

2 Boros Guildgate

1 Mountain

4 Mutavault

6 Plains

4 Sacred Foundry

4 Temple of Triumph

Creatures: 30

4 Banisher Priest

4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

4 Boros Elite

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

3 Dryad Militant

4 Firefist Striker

3 Imposing Sovereign

4 Precinct Captain

Spells: 8

4 Brave the Elements

4 Boros Charm

This list is pretty straight-forward and can easily overrun the opponent in a few turns. What I am interested in is a UW tempo deck that has a set of the Feline king in the mainboard, similar to the previous UW Delver deck which sides in Hero of Bladehold against slower opponents and to overwhelm aggro strategies. For the meantime, I’ll probably leave that to another article.

Overall, I would want to have my own play set of Brimaz though I am guessing that it’d be a challenge to do so come prerelease since supply will be scarce. Not to mention that people would probably hold on to him more than sell into the hype. And even if people would sell him, it would be at the current price of $25 or less and if you’re lucky, you can get a play set for around $70 or $80. Then again, getting a king to side with you comes with an exorbitant price.

Thanks for reading

@ravenknives at Twitter

imagecredit: mtgsalvation, gatherer.wizards.com

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

Frankly, I am not much of a fan of the phoenix creature sub-type in Magic: The Gathering and in fact, I am more inclined into hating the creature sub-type. It’s a long story but I am not here to talk about why I dislike the creature type but rather to let you know why this particular phoenix card got me to reconsider my distaste for it.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

To be fair, Wizards of the Coast has been doing well in improving various creature types for the past few years. Just take a look at the dragons (well, maybe not the recently spoiled one in Born of the Gods) in the past couple of sets.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

As I’ve said in a previous article, dragons have been part of M:tG’s legacy ever since the game was conceived. In fact, the Commander format which was originally referred to as EDH or Elder Dragon Highlander had the five elder dragon legends as the initial generals or commanders. I am really happy to see that the creatures being introduced in the game are improving in each set and the Phoenix sub-type isn’t an exception. So what do we have going for Flame-Wreathed Phoenix?

I had to admit that I wasn’t impressed with the firebird when I first saw it. Probably because of my personal biases but mostly because I imagined that like with most punisher cards, you tend to get the weaker effect since your opponent will be choosing what you will be getting when the firebird enters the battlefield. In addition, paying it tribute would only get you a 5/5 firebird for four mana which I immediately dismissed and compared with green’s four drop 5/5 creatures which doesn’t even have trample.

Then again it dawned on me; Flame-wreathed Phoenix has flying! The thing with most big green fatties is that even though they are aggressively costed, they lack a form of evasion. Even though they have the potential to deal massive damage to the opponent, they’re often sidetracked by the opponent’s critters. However, having a 5/5 creature for only four mana with flying is similar to having a green fatty having trample! In fact, flying is better in most cases than having trample!

 Also:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

This was one of those creatures who made an impact back in old standard and it even has a drawback. The firebird we’re talking about however does not. Sure, Flame-wreathed phoenix may not have a board impact if your opponent sacrifices some lambs or goats to pay it tribute but rest assured, this creature won’t dare cross its path.

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

So what if the tribute wasn’t paid? Well, your opponent is sure to expect a hasty flyer that cannot be permanently dealt with by these spot removals:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

And even if it was successfully dealt with by black’s ever reliable removal Doom Blade or something similar or perhaps a Lighting Strike from Keranos, the destruction is not permanent and just like in the legends, the firebird will rise again to burn your opponent. In addition, this hasty flyer trumps its smaller cousin conjured by the planeswalker Chandra Nalaar as well as malicious specters. If there’s something that I am concerned about is that the four drop slot is becoming more and more tight. We have Fanatic of Mogis, Purphoros, God of the Forge, Mogis, God of Slaughter and then Flame-Wreathed Phoenix. I am imagining that people would probably cut on the two drop slot or leave out Purphoros and just leave the Minotaur and the phoenix.

Another thing that should be considered is that the larger version of the creature also doesn’t die from Mizzium Mortars and would require a combination of two burn spells to kill it. The only colors that can probably conveniently deal with this fiery menace is perhaps blue, through the use of Detention Spheres or Bounce effects and of course black. Overall, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix has the potential to make an impact on the current Standard. Am I excited to open this in one of my packs? Not really and not because I dislike phoenixes but because I am still a blue player at the end of the day after all.

And for those who’re interested in seeing a deck list to fit the firebird, we have this:

Red Devotion Wins

Lands: 24

11 Mountains

3 Mutavault

2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

4 Sacred Foundry

4 Temple of Triumph

Creatures: 28

4 Ash Zealot

4 Boros Reckoner

4 Burning Tree-Emissary

4 Chandra’s Phoenix

4 Fanatic of Mogis

4 Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

4 Stormbreath Dragon

Spells: 8

4 Boros Charm

4 Lightning Strike

This list is obviously untested but this could be a good start if you’re interested in playing Flame Wreathed Phoenix. Well, that’s it for today!

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods: Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

It’s that time of the year again when people are looking forward each day to see what the new up-coming set has to offer them. I can say that I am one of those people who’re excited to see what toys the latest set have for us kids. And as to what I usually do, I’ll be taking a look at the cards spoiled thus far and be talking about those that caught my interest. Let’s start with this one:

Standard Thoughts on Born of the Gods Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“Hurt. Me. More.”

If there’s one thing that I would like to say before anything else is that this card will never rival Dark Confidant nor will it become the current standard’s Dark Confidant. If there’s something I’ve learned in the past few years that I’ve been playing M:tG is that it doesn’t mean that if a card appears to be another version of an already existing card that already rotated out of the current standard, is that it will function the same way as its predecessor did.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“Because I am a blue player that’s why.”

And Pain Seer is no exception. While it’s a pain that he will never be like Bob, I still found myself pondering how this card can be abused. If the untap mechanic introduced back in Shadowmoor was still present in the current format then I am pretty sure a lot of people would be able to find a way to abuse Pain Seer’s ability. However, it’s not but then again…

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

It is still present in the current Standard format in the form of Kiora’s Follower. Furthermore, it’s not just Kiora’s Follower who can inspire Pain Seer but also this guy.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“Ready for more pain?”

Never imagined this guy could be anything but inspiring. Oh well. On a serious note, utilizing Ral’s ability suggests a Grixis-based deck of some sort. I don’t have any deck list to show right now since I am still in the process of examining the cards but if you guys are looking for synergies or interesting combinations then you got this.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“Subtlety or Noisily?”

Two more cards that can also inspire Pain Seer into giving you more pain err, I mean cards are Hidden Strings and Springleaf Drum. Does it seem like it’s too much trouble using these two other cards? Who knows? But just like what Ben Bleiweiss said:

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

The most that can be done is attack with the seer on the third turn and hope that it can survive the whole turn until it gets inspired. Otherwise, it’s a 2/2 vanilla however, if it survives until your next untap phase then you get hurt and value out of it. I think what makes it a bit good in comparison to Dark Confidant is that you have better control of it, particularly on when you want to inflict pain on yourself and draw cards. Again, Pain Seer can never be Dark Confidant but in such a context, it can be nice to consider such a strategic angle. You don’t want to have a Dark Confidant by your side when you’re totally behind in terms of life you know.

Standard Thoughts on Theros Spoiler Season: Pain Seer

“The truth is that Pain Seers sell blood to Blood Scriveners for profit.”

Overall, it’s still too early to conclude on how Pain Seer would impact the current Standard format but in my honest opinion, Pain Seer is way better than Blood Scrivener since I think it’s far easier to inspire a seer into hurting you. With Supreme Verdict, Anger of the Gods and other mass removals out there, committing your whole hand is something you wouldn’t want to do. But I am sure that a lot of people would try him out as soon as he is available for Standard play.

That’s it for today!

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

 

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mtgsalvation

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