Journey into Nyx Standard Spoiler Season: Iroas, God of Victory

A few days ago, I was speculating what kind of abilities the new gods from Journey into Nyx would have. I initially imagined that Iroas, the red white god would have an ability which would grant creatures you control first strike or maybe even haste.

Suffice to say, my guess was very far off from what Wizards had in mind:

1.	Journey into Nyx Standard Spoiler Season: Iroas, God of Victory

Like with planeswalkers, evaluating gods can be a real challenge. A god may primarily appear overpowered on paper but may prove to be less as time passes by. On the other hand, I actually like Iroas for the reason that he only costs 4 and has immediate board impact, provided that you have creatures on the battlefield. In addition, Iroas, God of Victory also benefits from his own static ability and has enough power to beat the lights out of your opponents.

Just imagine this sequence:

T1: Soldier of the Pantheon

T2: Precinct Captain/Ash Zealot/Burning-Tree Emissary

T3: Hammer of Purphoros/Chandra’s Phoenix

T4: Iroas, God of Victory

Obviously, this is a magical Christmas land scenario but then again, draws like this happen on occasion if not often. And even if the God of Victory doesn’t awaken the turn it comes into play, having him on the battlefield ensures that your creatures will get through the red zone unopposed.

I honestly think that the centaur god will be generally good against decks that are brimming with creatures, particularly against Selesnya or Red/Blue Devotion decks but I am imagining that this is a dead card most of the time against decks packed with removals like Monoblack Devotion and most control decks.

The thing is that the ability that it grants your creatures against an online Elspeth, Sun’s Champion might be neat but you’re probably already losing at such a time. In addition, Iroas’ abilities clearly require the deck to be creature dense if a player expects to effectively utilize him. Not to mention, creatures that lives to tell the tale before Mogis’ twin enters the fray.

Journey into Nyx Standard Spoiler Season: Iroas, God of Victory

With the current metagame leaning towards control-based strategies like Monoblack Devotion as well as Esper, I don’t expect Iroas to make much of an impact. Besides, if I am playing a boros color-based deck, I’d rather leave mana up for a Boros Charm to keep my creatures from being decimated mercilessly by a Supreme Verdict. Tapping out to play Iroas only for the opponent to completely sweep your board is a total blowout.

Overall, I like Iroas, God of Victory in a vacuum but as long as the metagame is filled with control decks, I highly doubt that Mogis’ twin would be seeing play anytime soon. How about you? What are your thoughts about Iroas?

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Journey into Nyx Standard Spoiler Season: Iroas, God of Victory

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

It’s the first week of Journey to Nyx’s spoiler season and boy did we get a treat from the first batch of cards that were spoiled.

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

“That’s Elspeth wielding Godsend illustrated in the mural”

A lot of people were excited to see this the first time it was spoiled, me included, and one of the first things that people realized is that this artifact can complement Master of Waves.

One of the common problems that the merfolk wizard have is that if the opponent has spot removal for him end of  your turn, then it can be a total blowout since the tokens he produces dies along with him while you’re tapped out and defensless. However, having a Hall of Triumph on the battlefield will keep the Master of Waves tokens from dying in the worst case that their master dies.

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

Here’s a list that I made yesterday because yeah, I am damn excited to try this:

Monoblue-Devotion

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 24

21 Island

3 Mutavault

Creatures: 30

4 Cloudfin Raptor

4 Frostburn Weird

4 Judge’s Familiar

4 Master of Waves

4 Nightveil Specter

2 Sigiled Starfish

4 Thassa, God of the Sea

4 Tidebinder Mage

Spells: 6

2 Bident of Thassa

2 Hall of Triumph

2 Rapid Hybridization

Hall of Triumph seems good in this kind of list and if only it wasn’t legendary like Heliod’s spear, it would’ve been better. Another inclusion I made was this:

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

I personally find starfish in general cute even though I haven’t seen or touched one in real life. Then again, this would be the first starfish that I’d be touching, even if it’s only on cardboard. I only included two copies of the echinoderm because drawing more than one copy in the mid to late game is not really something I’d want.

In addition, the starfish generally serves only as a blocker and doesn’t contribute in killing your opponent. However, being able to filter your draws more in addition to what Thassa provides during your upkeep is something I find very exciting. On the other hand, I am imagining most control decks would want 3-4 copies of these cute sea creatures in their lists in addition to the 12 temples that they utilize.

On the other hand, there’s also this list:

UW Devotion

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 24

1 Azorius Guildgate

1 Godless Shrine

4 Hallowed Fountain

11 Island

3 Mutavault

4 Temple of Enlightenment

Creatures: 30

4 Cloudfin Raptor

2 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: 6

4 Detention Sphere

1 Hall of Triumph

1 Spear of Heliod

Wouldn’t it be great if you have two Glorious Anthems on the battlefield? Not to mention that the spear adds towards Ephara’s devotion. As much as I want to add Sigiled Starfish here, there’s not much space to fit it in.

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

How about a white-based aggressive deck utilizing Hall of Triumph?

Mono-White Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

4 Mutavault

18 Plains

Creatures: 28

2 Banisher Priest

4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

4 Boros Elite

4 Daring Skyjek

4 Dryad Militant

2 Imposing Sovereign

4 Precinct Captain

4 Soldier of the Pantheon

Spells: 10

2 Ajani, Caller of the Pride

4 Brave the Elements

2 Spear of Heliod

2 Hall of Triumph

This is basically your standard mono-white aggressive shell which includes the King of Oreskos plus the possibility of having two anthem effects to pump your swarm.

Here’s another list but with a lower curve:

Mono-White Blitz

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 22

4 Mutavault

18 Plains

Creatures: 30

4 Boros Elite

4 Cavalry Pegasus

4 Daring Skyjek

4 Dryad Militant

2 Imposing Sovereign

4 Loyal Pegasus

4 Precinct Captain

4 Soldier of the Pantheon

Spells: 8

4 Brave the Elements

2 Spear of Heliod

2 Hall of Triumph

This take on the white weenie archetype doesn’t rely on Brimaz’s board presence but attempts to take down the opponent as fast as it can before the opponent has a chance to build a strong board presence. Cavalry Pegasus ensures that all your creatures, which are mostly humans gets through for a beating. Having 16 one drops makes sure that your turn two is filled with cheaply costed creatures that can be powered up by either the spear or the hall.

Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

Mono-Red Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands :22

18 Mountains

4 Mutavault

Creatures: 32

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

4 Chandra’s Phoenix

4 Firedrinker Satyr

4 Firefist Striker

4 Foundry Street Denizen

4 Gore-House Chainwalker

4 Rakdos Cackler

3 Rubblebelt Maaka

Spells: 7

3 Hall of Triumph

2 Mizzium Mortars

2 Searing Blood

This is basically Patrick Sullivan’s mono-red aggro list with the minor adjustment of replacing mainboard shocks with Hall of Triumph and I am not sure if putting three copies in the main is the right thing to do. I am sure Patrick Sullivan has the best answer to that.

Mono-Green Aggro

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 23

18 Forest

2 Mutavault

3 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Creatures: 30

3 Boon Satyr

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

3 Courser of Kruphix

4 Elvish Mystic

4 Experiment One

4 Kalonian Tusker

2 Nyea, God of the Hunt

2 Polukranos, World Eater

4 Sword-wise Centaur

Spells: 7

2 Garruk, Caller of Beast

2 Hall of Triumph

3 Pit Fight

Green isn’t really my specialty but here’s what I was able to cook up but I am sure seasoned green mages out there would be able to cook up something better than what I have.

Overall, I am interested in how mono-colored based aggressive strategies will adapt with Hall of Triumph now available for them to utilize. Though there are people who are skeptical of this not with Spear of Heliod marginally seeing play, the possibility of having two anthem effects is not far off.

Right now, I am happy that Monoblue Devotion has a tool that it can potentially use. Also take note that it’s just the first week of Journey to Nyx spoiler season so I am hoping that it doesn’t stop here. So far, what cards are you finding interesting?

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Standard Journey to Nyx Spoiler Season: Hall of Triumph

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

It’s just a couple of days before the most anticipated event takes place this weekend which is Grand Prix Richmond and it’s highly likely that it would be a grand event. With almost 3000 players already registered as of March 4th, Starcitygames.com have decided to put an attendance cap to it of up to 5000 players max to ensure that everyone will be accommodated properly.

This aside, I’ve been monitoring the prices of some note-worthy cards for the past few days and I’d like to take the opportunity to share my findings with you in this article as well as my observations in the modern format.

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

There’s really nothing much to say about the Faerie pieces since no upward movement took place in the last week since Pro Tour Born of the Gods Valencia, especially that no copies of Bitterblossom made it in the top 8. Though, three players made it day two as what I mentioned in my previous article, it’s not enough to get Faerie pieces to spike as compared to the cards used by those who top 8ed the event.

Sadly, majority of the pros believe that Faeries just doesn’t have what it takes to be a dominant deck in the modern format. Also, most MTGO events only have at least one player using Faeries as a deck and nothing more as compared to the other archetypes. Based from this data, it’s very unlikely for the archetype to rebound this coming GP. On the other hand, the past MTGO events seem to be cluttered with Scapeshift, Pod, Twin variants, UR Storm and Robots with the occasional Jund variants.

This means that it would be the best time to sell your bitterblossoms. Unless you’re not going to use the green titan, might as well sell your copies though if Scapeshift decks make it to the top 8 of GP Richmond, not to mention a number of copies of Primeval Titan, it’s very likely that its price will spike big time. Then again, this is already obvious and is basically how things work in the M:tG economy.

Also, I found an interesting Faeries list that did NOT have any copies of the tribal enchantment and it looks sweet. The list seems built to deal with Faeries’ usual weak matchup which would be the aggressive decks.

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of February 5th, 2014

How about Zoo? Well, I didn’t really see much of it. With most decks having Anger of the Gods as tech and a lot of spot removals that efficiently deal with most of the creatures that Zoo decks have, it’s become challenging for the deck to keep up. Not to mention that a lot of the decks are good when it comes to dealing with gorillas, goyfs and lions and then suddenly combo-ing off a few turns later to seal the win.

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

So, did Zoo suddenly become a bad deck choice? Of course not but with the resurgence of URW variants and other combo decks, it just became difficult to consistently kill opponents fast enough especially when their decks are built to kill most of the critters that you will be putting on the board. At the same time, with Jund or other similar decks being underrepresented, combo decks are not threatened by hand disruption unlike before hence they are more likely to pull up what they want to do every game.

As an added note, there’s also no Zoo deck that got in the top 8 in Mindstorm Games hobby shop, a local gaming center. For reference, here are the decks that top 8ed in the recent Tuesday event:

1st Place – Pao L. Robots/Affinity 4-1

2nd Place – Menard Q – Kiki Pod -4-1

3rd Place – Adan M – WU Control -3-1-1

4th Place – Ben C – Monogreen Devotion – 3-1-1

5th Place – Roberto G – RG Tron – 3-2

6th Place – Sunny A – UR Twin – 3-2

7th Place – Peter S – Merfolk 3-2

8th Place – Donovan B – Firemind Control 3-2

If there’s one archetype that I do find consistent though in this local gaming center, it’s the URW/UR decks as well as the pod decks.

Overall, the recent bannings/unbannings cause a series of changes in the modern format which used to be dominated by Jund decks. Combo decks seems to have been suppressed back then but with very few decks playing Thoughtseize and Inquisition as well as Liliana of the Veil, it’s very likely that combo decks will remain to be strong contenders in the modern format. Aggressive decks are still viable deck choices but now that most are utilizing Anger of the Gods, and other efficient mass and spot removals, they’ll probably have a hard time racing their opponents.

I guess that wraps up today’s article. It’s only a matter of time before the modern format shapes up and I’d be watching it closely. How about you? Any insights in how the modern format will shape up in the next few days to come?

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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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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Faerie Rising Updates And Other Price Trends

I’ve been following the price trend of most of the faerie archetype’s pieces and I am not surprised at how much the price went up in just a couple of weeks since I posted this article.

Faerie Rising Updates And Other Price Trends

Perhaps, the biggest contributing factor for this would likely be the upcoming PT Born of the Gods Valencia that will be taking place this coming weekend on February 21st to 23rd in Valencia, Spain. However, if you’re going to study the recent winning deck lists in MTGO, the Faerie Archetype is underrepresented. In fact, there were only three players who play the archetype with only one of them taking the top spot.

For reference, here are the deck lists:

Faerie Rising Updates And Other Price Trends

Faerie Rising Updates And Other Price Trends

Faerie Rising Updates And Other Price Trends

Faerie Rising Updates And Other Price Trends

As I’ve discussed before, the most probable reason for this would be card availability and with the prices of most faerie pieces skyrocketing, it’s very unlikely that the archetype would be dominating the modern metagame soon. Another possible contributing factor would be that most players are keeping their tech under the wraps for the up-coming tournament.

One thing’s certain though, if multiple copies of Bitterblossom as well as the other deck pieces end up occupying most of the spot in the top 8 of PT Valencia then I wouldn’t be surprised if Bitterblossom hits $80 and Mistbind Clique ending up around $18-20 apiece.

Meanwhile, some cards are also seeing play these days and have their prices rising steadily such as the following:

Faerie Rising Updates And Other Price Trends

“As of 02/21/14 2:35 PM”

Apparently, Scapeshift decks are starting to crowd MTGO hence the upward trend on primeval titan’s price. In fact, even the metagame in Mindstorm Games Hobby Shop has a lot of them right now and another local game store named Got Game has a player using the said archetype made it to the top. If Scapeshift decks continue to occupy the top places then it’s very likely that the green titan’s price may go up a notch more.

In fact, in my opinion, Scapeshift decks are good deck choices against decks that depend on swarming their opponents since they’re basically combo decks which rely on a land namely Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, to defeat their opponents like the Valakut decks of old. This means that both Thoughtseize and Inquisiton have no way to remove the deck’s win condition though they can still discard some of the Scapeshift players’ means of reaching their goal. But unless the opponent can kill them fast it’s very likely that the opponent’s future is bleak.

So how about Marsh Flats? Well, there’s another deck that’s also not showing any significant numbers in MTGO events that may also benefit from the unbanning of Bitterblossom and that’s B/W tokens. This is perhaps the highest price that Marsh Flats attained ever since the modern format was established and the same with Fetid Heath and I feel that this has something to do with people who intend to use the B/W tokens archetype this coming weekend.

Faerie Rising Updates And Other Price Trends

“Marsh Flats a few hours ago”

In fact, the original stock of Marsh Flats earlier was 5 but in just a few hours, only 2 were left and it won’t be long before SCG restocks again and probably increase its price.

It’s just a day or so before the much anticipated PT Valencia takes place and if you play in the modern format, it would be best that you stay tune to the latest development taking place in the tournament. At this time, it would be more advisable to hold on to the modern cards that you have before selling them and wait for any possible price changes that may occur. Don’t let go of your Primeval Titans and Bitterblossoms yet!

Thanks for reading

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Meanwhile, in Modern…

Contrary to most would expect, there are not much Faerie decks occupying the top slots of tournaments even in MTGO. In fact, there was only one Faerie deck that got first place in MTGO.

For reference, here’s the deck list that the player used to win the event:

Meanwhile, in Modern…

As we can clearly see there’s still a lot of room for improvement and innovation for the UB Faeries deck but we can say that it’s likely that those who fought the Faerie player were caught off-guard hence their losses. Not to mention the inherent strength of the archetype and the banning of Deathrite Shaman which used to be an auto-four off in most decks that can afford to play the card, namely Melira Pod and Jund, with the latter’s performance being badly affected by the loss of Deathrite Shaman.

Meanwhile, in Modern…

It’s also not surprising to see a number of Zoo decks as compared to Faerie decks to occupy the top spot of MTGO events and even here in our local community. With Bitterblossom’s price continuing to shoot up as PT Valencia draws near (it’s currently at $60), as well as most Faerie pieces (Sunken Ruins, Mistblind Clique etc), local players are more likely to have a difficult time acquiring a play set of the said card as compared to 4 Wild Nacatls and some fetchlands, with the exception of Tarmogoyf which I believe is more accessible to most players in terms of availability if not the price.

These days, I’ve been taking note of the players who’re getting the top spot in a local tournament center called Mindstorm Games Hobby Shop since they usually host a tournament for the modern format. As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, I’ve been interested in playing in the modern format but I just haven’t found the opportunity to get some of the cards to complete a deck for modern since I am more focused on Standard. Let’s take a closer look at the local modern metagame.

For reference, here are the top 8 players as well as their respective decks.

Tuesday Night Modern at Mindstorm Games Hobby Shop Top 8

1st place – Ben C – Tribal Zoo

2nd place – JJ Luces – URW Midrange

3rd place – Ron J – Melira Pod

4th place – Roberto G – RG Tron

5th place – Francis P – Jund

6th place – Mark B – Monored Burn

7th place – Raymond M – RUG Eternal Command

8th place – Adan M – RB Elementals

I’ve been following the tournament results of Mindstorm Games Hobby Shop’s Modern format for a while now and I can say that based on the weekly results, there is no specific metagame in that tournament center. However, based on this week’s tournament results I can honestly say that Ben Cardenas has gotten a better grasp of how to pilot his Tribal Zoo as compared to last Tuesday’s tournament wherein he only got third place which is still an impressive finish.

For reference of last week’s Tuesday’s tournament results:

1st place – Ron J – Melira Pod

2nd place – Doc Yu – Geist Junk

3rd place – Ben C – Tribal Zoo

4th place – Donovan B – BG Rock

5th place – Josef G – Junk

6th place – JJ Luces URW Midrange

Jonathan Luces  (or JJ as he’s commonly referred to by those who personally know him) also had started to climb up rapidly piloting a URW Midrange deck while Judge Ron Joson’s results remain consistent; a clear testament that the Melira Pod archetype is a force to be reckoned with, as well as the remarkable skills of the player who has been piloting it for a very long time now.

Meanwhile, in Modern…

“Judge Ron Joson’s Melira Pod”

On the other hand, the only reason I could possibly think of why Ben Cardenas decided to play a Tribal Zoo as opposed to his usual UG Infect deck is that he wanted to try another archetype for a new fresh experience. His constant winnings with his UG Infect shows that the former nationals champion already mastered piloting the deck. Based from such a performance, we can say that UG Infect is also a good metagame choice in the local community though it would take a lot of practice to be able to identify optimal hands in every match up, as well as the sequencing of cards.

Meanwhile, in Modern…

“Ben Cardenas’ Tribal Zoo”

Also, something to take note of is that the Jund Archetype isn’t dominating the local metagame and it’s most probably because of a number of factors mainly card availability issues. The banning of Deathrite Shaman in the modern format also badly hurt the archetype, particularly against the more aggressive match ups since Deathrite Shaman does not only help ramp up to a third turn Liliana of the Veil but it can also stave off early damage by its ability to gain life. As evidence of the tournament results in the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, in Modern…

“Jonathan Luces’ URW Midrange”

There’s also the possibility of people hating the archetype more than they should which kept Jund decks in check. It is true that Jund may be one of the most powerful archetypes in the modern format but with the recent bannings, it’s likely to experience challenging obstacles in future tournaments to come. This is also not to mention the expected rising of the Faerie archetype which may not be apparent right now but will likely be the case after PT Valencia that I am anticipating to have multiple copies of Bitterblossom in the top 8.

Meanwhile, in Modern…

Another observation would be the decline of combo decks in the local metagame and this may be because of the threat Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek poses to combo decks. Not to mention Zoo decks kills fast. As an added note, I wouldn’t underestimate the power of Zoo decks as an archetype that already has occupied a number of spots in the top 8 both in the local community and in MTGO.

Meanwhile, in Modern…

Of course, we can’t really say that the tournament results in the local tournament center are the representation of the Philippine modern metagame as a whole, but since they’re the only tournament center that I know which hosts a weekly tournament for the modern format, it’s safe to assume that the decks in the top 5 at the least would be a good start if we’re to represent the local modern metagame.

Overall, the local modern metagame is wide open and any well-constructed deck with a sound plan can potentially take down the tournament. However, if you want to increase your chances of winning the tournament, you may want to consider playing Melira Pod, UG Infect, Zoo and or a URW variant, not to mention a Tron variant. Affinity may also be a sound choice but it’s up to you on how you plan to tackle the metagame. What do you think?

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Special thanks to Judge Ron Joson of Mindstorm Games Hobby Shop, Jonathan Luces and Ben Cardenas for sharing their winning deck lists. Wishing them more winnings in tournaments to come!

Happy Valentines Day Lizzie! <3

Just want to take this opportunity to show how much I love you Liz! I hope you like it!

L-ive with me forever my darling

I-‘ll never let your hand go

E-ven if the worlds be torn asunder

Z-ealous efforts are only for you alone

L-izzie, my one and only

Happy Valentines! I love you!

Happy Valentine's Day Lizzie <3

“I love you”

Happy Valentine's Day Lizzie <3

And since I wanted to also do something M:tG related, I came up with this:

L-eyline of Anticipation for the years to come

Happy Valentine's Day Lizzie <3

I-zzet Charms to you I sincerely offer

Happy Valentine's Day Lizzie <3

E-lectrickery to tickle your fancy and interest

Happy Valentine's Day Lizzie <3

Z-ealous Conscripts to fight for our cause

Happy Valentine's Day Lizzie <3

L-ightning strike the earth below to pave the way for our future

Happy Valentine's Day Lizzie <3

Hope you like this. Love you always!

Happy Valentine's Day Lizzie <3

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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

imagecredits:

gatherer.wizards.com

 

Financial Trends: Faerie Rising

It’s just been three days or so when Bitterblossom became legal in Modern and look what’s happened in a short period of time

Financial Trends: Faerie Rising

“THAT Bitterblassam!”

I was planning to sell my extra copy of Bitterblossom but seeing its upward trend as well as the potential of the card’s price increasing more after MTGO gets updated of the latest changes and after PT Valencia and GP Richmond, I decided to hold back for the time being. Though for Bitterblossom’s price to rocket up further there has to be multiple copies of it in the top 8 of any of these big tournaments.

Of course, there’s also the possibility of decks without copies of Bitterblossom to make it to the top 8 instead as oppose to those who utilize the black faerie tribal enchantment due to hate. And the thing is that this is a real possibility because these days, I’ve been seeing and hearing people considering playing burn decks that are good against the blossom player.

As I’ve said in my previous article, Faeries, which will likely become a viable archetype in Modern, may be dominant back in the day but the environment it will face now is purely different. There may be people who believe that unbanning Bitterblossom will be disastrous to the format’s health but then again, we can’t also discount the possibility that it won’t and only time will tell which side is correct.

But based on the trending shown above, one thing is certain; a lot of people are excited in playing the Faerie tribal enchantment. In fact, you’d see conversations in Twitter revolving around Faeries and some who are already testing the archetype.

Financial Trends: Faerie Rising

The pros on the other hand are keeping mum with regard to their plans especially that PT Valencia is just a few weeks away so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear anything from them about the decks that they will be playing in the upcoming PT event. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of them play some UB Faeries and B/W tokens which is another archetype that has tremendously gained an upgrade.

Financial Trends: Faerie Rising

“B/W Tokens”

Imagine this scenario:

T1: Land, Thoughtseize/Inquisition of Kozilek

T2: Land, Bitterblossom

T3: Land, Spectral Procession

T4: Land, Intangible Virtue and Blood Artist (or another Intangible Virtue or any 2-3cc spell)

Sure, it’s a nice trip to Christmas land but it’s possible none the less. And how about Abrupt Decay you said? Well, it’s similar to the Doom Blade argument. If your opponent has it, then well and good, but if your opponent doesn’t, or like lost it, thanks to being plucked away by a turn one Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek, then Bitterblossom will be uncontested and will be a problem and a big one at that.

Another archetype that is likely to return would be Zoo. With the unbanning of Wild Nacatl, true aggro decks will likely make resurgence especially this coming PT Valencia. Would the Bitterblossom decks be able to handle a deck having beefy creatures coming out of the gates as early as turn one?

Financial Trends: Faerie Rising

“THIS is a ZOO”

To sum it all up, Modern will surely be shaken up by these changes. These prices won’t be dropping anytime soon until the first batch of results from MTGO in the Modern format goes online, not to mention that the hype created by the unbanning of the said card is very high. I won’t be surprised if Bitterblossom’s price shoots up to $80 after PT Valencia, especially if multiple copies of the card occupy the top 8.

So, should you buy your own playset of Bitterblossom while it’s sitting at $50 each?

My take on that is unless you will be playing in a Modern tournament soon and or you’re going to invest in the format, you may want to hold off for the meantime and reconsider. Though keep in mind that even if no deck sporting the black tribal faerie enchantment gets in the top 8 of PT Valencia, it’s still unlikely that the hype and price of Bitterblossom will go down anytime soon. There’s still GP Richmond after that and by that time, the decks with the Bitterblossoms may already have adjusted to the new metagame as well as to the hate.

Do take note that these are purely speculations based on the data that I’ve gathered. I am no financial expert when it comes to Magic: The Gathering but the numbers above still say something about what could possibly happen in the near future. Would Bitterblossom take Modern by storm or would it get severely hated to survive the up-coming metagame environment? What do you guys think?

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Imagecredits:

www.starcitygames.com

gatherer.wizards.com

Lessons in GPT Beijing – 4th Place – January 26th 2014

I used to write tournament reports but the thing is that it can be difficult to remember what happened in each match not to mention that I don’t get to write my reports at the soonest possible time. So instead, what I will try to do is to just try to write a summary of my recent GPT experience and share what I learned from it. But before anything else, here’s the rundown of my match ups that day.

Swiss Rounds:

2-0 vs BUG Midrange

0-2 vs Mono-Black Devotion

2-0 vs Mono-Blue Devotion

2-0 vs G/R Devotion

0-2 vs Junk Hexproof

Play-Offs:

2-1 vs Mono-White Aggro

0-2 vs Junk Hexproof

Anyway, I ended the tournament at 4th place which isn’t that bad considering that I rarely get to play in GPTs let alone, have my first experience of making it to the play-offs. I can also say that this was one of the tourneys that I am able to perform optimally. For reference, here’s the deck that I used:

Mono-Blue Devotion

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 25

21 Island

3 Mutavault

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Creatures: 28

4 Cloudfin Raptor

4 Frostburn Weird

4 Judge’s Familiar

4 Master of Waves

4 Nightveil Specter

4 Thassa, God of the Sea

4 Tidebinder Mage

Spells: 7

2 Bident of Thassa

1 Cyclonic Rift

2 Jace, Architect of Thought

2 Rapid Hybridization

Sideboard: 15

1 Aetherling

1 Bident of Thassa

1 Cyclonic Rift

1 Curse of the Swine

1 Dispel

2 Dissolve

2 Domestication

4 Gainsay

1 Rapid Hybridization

1 Ratchet Bomb

With Born of the Gods scheduled to have its official release this weekend, it wouldn’t be long before this list changes though frankly, I am not really sure if there’s still room for innovation other than having a couple of Thassa’s Rebuff in the 75 or maybe even a couple of Fated Infatuation in the main. And I am more inclined to include the counter spell than the clone effect that the latter offers for the reason that counters are more likely to get the job that I want than the latest version of cackling counterpart. Then again, I’ve yet to see how the metagame will look like in the first few weeks to determine how the deck would best adapt to the would-be environment.

For the time being, let me share some of the things that I learned from my recent GPT experience.

Sideboarding: As most pros would say, there’s no clear cut way to sideboard against opponents. The art of sideboarding is something you develop and perfect on your own through your experience in dueling with different decks. Though there are cards in the 75 that are non-negotiable when it comes to boarding them in and or boarding them out, it’s not always the case.

Take this case for example: I was up against a GR Devotion and often monoblue players would board out their Bidents, expecting the GR Devotion to board in artifact hate like destructive revelry. What I did was keep the bidents in and instead, boarded out my Jaces since at that time, I was confident that I can take the aggressor’s role and lead the way with a bident which was what happened.

Even though the opponent was playing defensively, he couldn’t defend effectively because I forced his Boros Reckoner and his lone Burning-Tree Emissary by activating the ability of the Bident. Even though he drew a Mistcutter Hydra and played it post-combat through an online Chandra, Pyromaster, it was already too late since he’s already wide open and the counter swing from me finished the game. He wasn’t expecting I’d leave the bidents in so he decided to just leave his revelries in the side since based on his experience; mono-blue players typically board out their bidents.

In the semis, I faced off with a hyper-aggressive deck and though Thassa plays a big role when it comes to finishing off games, I didn’t want to draw multiples of the God so instead of keeping four, I cut one from the main. I also did the same for Master of Waves while completely removing my Bidents with the idea that I’d probably be defensive most of the time which was what happened in all three games.

I left my Jaces in the main because they’re good against this particular matchup and boarded in a miser dispel which proved to be critical to the opponent when I countered his last breath aimed towards my Master of Waves, eventually winning me the match. Also, being able to hybridize your own creatures to ambush your opponents’ attacking soldier creatures is very invaluable when it comes to such a match up. I guess I was also lucky to draw my Jaces even though I only have two in my 75.

Sideboarding can be tricky, especially the part of boarding out cards in exchange for cards that you want to put in from your sideboard. But with practice, you will be able to find the best configuration for every matchup. Also, you have to keep in mind that you cannot just jam every card in your sideboard that is effective against a particular strategy by default. Doing so may cause your deck to be diluted which can negatively affect its consistency and plan.

Don’t Think Too Much: This can be more damaging to your performance in the tournament than it would help. Thinking too much can cause you to misplay more since you tend to get into the heat of the moment that you tend to neglect other factors that are apparent in the current board state.

Take this for example, my opponent attacked with his two Precinct Captains and I blocked each one with a blue elemental token from my Master. Thing is that I put my two Elemental tokens in the graveyard  as well as my opponent when I had a +1 Jace, Architect of Thought activation and TWO Master of Waves on the battlefield. This means that my creatures shouldn’t have died at that time.

Another reason why thinking too much is not that helpful is that it causes you to focus too much on winning that you become vulnerable to tilting when the game’s slowly slipping away from you which you shouldn’t fall into. Remember, being anxious about losing and succumbing to tilt and frustration will get you losing more games than winning them.

Whenever you start a match, don’t try thinking of anything. Not even winning. Just focus on your technical plays and in how you can beat your opponent the soonest possible time. Thinking of winning and not losing will just put pressure on you and can potentially cause you to be overly conscious with your plays that you end up performing sub-optimally. Just make the best technical play that can get your opponent’s life to zero as oppose to thinking of winning.

Winning will eventually be yours if your mind is free from anxieties, worries and stress. And because your mind is stress free, you’re able to process better plays than when you’re under pressure. Of course it can be difficult to do so especially if you’re already at the latter part of the tournament, and especially when you’re competing in a huge event but it helps to lessen the pressure on yourself.

Build Rapport: This is something that players rarely do though it’s understandable that not all are interested in having small talk before or after games or maybe they just don’t find any reason to engage in a conversation. But the thing is that talking to your opponent and establishing rapport with them contributes to your growth as a player. Magic: The Gathering is not just a card game. It’s also a game which opens up opportunities to meet new friends and to learn from each other.

Always try to open up an opportunity to learn from your opponents. Try asking getting to know cards that they have in their decks, the reason behind their inclusion and exclusion of certain cards as well as their rationale in boarding in and boarding out certain cards on certain match ups. Try to learn and find out what you could possibly do from them. Remember, the more informed you are, the more you’ll be able to make decisions in-game, not counting experience especially when faced against different kinds of decks.

Of course not all would be comfortable in sharing their hidden techs or their strategies but it’s understandable. Also keep in mind that you should also learn to reveal information about your deck to your opponents. Think of this as a fair trade after hearing their side of the story regarding their decks. I lost two straight games against a rogue Junk Hexproof in the swiss. It was hard to deal with it because my deck wasn’t built to battle threats that have hexproof and that are enchanted with Gift of Orzhova.

Not to mention that it has a plethora of spot removals reminiscent of a typical Mono-Black Devotion deck, but have Skylashers in the sides and main board. After our games, we talked about our decks and our sideboard configuration. I must say that I am pretty lucky for having a jovial opponent so I was more than willing to share my deck’s configuration and my match up results. Initially, you’d think that the conversation didn’t really matter until we got paired again in the semis in which case we both laughed while remembering the conversation we had earlier that day regarding both our deck’s configuration and strategies.

And I didn’t shy away in applying the information I learned from him and about his deck but then again, I still lost to him. The information may seem useless on the surface since my deck didn’t had what it took to defeat the Junk Hexproof but then again, based on how the games went, I can say that my game improved since I had knowledge on what cards to play around and I was able to configure my 75 more appropriately. Though I was determined to win my rematch with the guy, I still lost. But I can honestly say that he deserves the win. Heck, he constructed a decent deck to deal with the metagame in that tournament.

This is not to say that you should befriend your opponents just to squeeze intel regarding their decks and strategies. Remember, winning in Magic: The Gathering is NOT everything and to reiterate, it’s a game where you can meet new friends. Having friends who can tell you what you’re doing wrong in games and giving you advice on how to improve your games and those who can support you is always an invaluable asset.  If you have friends who’re really good with the game then it’s even better. So the next time that you square off with an opponent, you may want to consider engaging your opponent in a friendly conversation.

The only exception to this would be opponents who don’t seem to appear to be in the mood to talk about their decks, especially after losing against you. Learn to discern and learn to find the right opportunity.

To sum it all up:

Sideboarding: Practice, practice, practice and experiment until you get the best configuration. Familiarize yourself with how your deck interacts with your opponent’s deck and identify the cards that are not performing and replace them with the cards that you think would help you gain a leverage against the opponent’s deck. Don’t put in too much sideboard since it may dilute your deck and ruin your deck’s plan and consistency.

Don’t Think Too Much: Don’t pressure yourself into winning and not losing. Just focus and improve your technical plays. Winning will eventually follow.

Build Rapport: Learn to engage your opponents into a friendly conversation. Learn from them. Don’t be embarrassed or shy to ask anything that you want to find out about their decks. Gauge your opponent if he’s one who’s nice enough to share his ideas or deck strategies. Be fair and learn to share information as well.

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives