Pro Tours and GPs: My Upcoming Week Off!

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers,

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here to talk to you today about competitive Magic. I, myself, am new to playing competitively, having only taken part in a single PPTQ so far. However, I will be attending next weeks Grand Prix in Birmingham for my first taste of a huge tournament and what I hope to be a great experience combined with a huge learning curve.

Going into it I’m naturally quite nervous about making sure I do things right, judges will be enforcing competitive and professional level rulings throughout, and finding my way around the venue effectively within a huge throng of people. Approaching this as purely an opportunity to experience the tournament environment somewhat mitigates my nerves but there’s always that nagging hope that you do well, even when the performance is secondary.

One thing I have found to be astoundingly motivating is logging on to Twitch whenever Magic is live to watch the latest top-level tournaments from around the world. This last Pro Tour was no exception.

HOU_Header

Pro Tour Hour of Devastation was memorable for many reasons, Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa securing his second Pro Tour championship, stealing Player of the Year by a nose in the process, coverage by the Maria Bartholdi, Rich Hagon, Paul Cheon and the usual gang, the emergence of mono-red as a huge chunk of the meta and that very unfortunate misplay in the semi-final which secured PV’s place in the final. This all culminated to produce what I felt to be an extremely exciting end product, complete with triumph and heartbreak in equal measure. When seeing broadcasts like these you can’t help but want to be part of it!

This is where GPs come in. They’re high level tournaments with an excellent field of opposition and steady coverage on Twitch, but they are also open to all-comers. Aside from PPTQs and the like, they are the true bridge between the semi-competitive Game Day events (soon to be Store Championships) we all know from our local store and the Pro-Tour itself and with so much to do at a GP you don’t even have to be a part of the main event to have yourself a great time! These are true Magic: The Gathering conventions, where the pro’s and the amateurs can mix with the artists and retailers at many stalls all around the venue, no one is left out.

Personally I will be participating in the Modern main event with a few others from my local game store, Abbey Video Games in Arbroath, Scotland, having my first taste of an internationally attended tournament. As such, I have no real expectations for my performance, but I do have hopes. I hope to win two or three rounds (I’m playing burn), I hope to not tragically misplay and embarrass myself, I hope to get one match up with an established pro-tour player (probably the least realistic hope) but I fully expect to enjoy myself and be happy for the opportunity to just play Magic for a weekend in a city I’ve never visited before and meet up with some brothers in content creation for the first time (I’m looking at you Orcs Head Magic guys!). So if you’re thinking about it and just haven’t got the time so far, please go and register, before they run out of spaces!

Long term, I’d like to play more competitively, improve my game and eventually earn myself a spot on at least one Pro-Tour but for now, I am happy to just ease into competitive Magic, feel it out and make some friends along the way!

GP BIrm Playmat.png

When I come back from the GP, with my delicious new play mat, my foil promo Progenitus and a handful of new stories to tell I will start work on another article, covering the four decks that myself and my local store-mates will be playing in the main event. So stay tuned for Friday 18th August when I will have well and truly returned!

Progenitus

Until then you can catch me on Twitter @GenericBadMtg where I will no doubt be providing updates. As always, though, enjoy yourself playing this game we all love and I hope to see you there!

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

Temur Energy: Rise of The Thopters!

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers,

I’ve got something pretty special for you today, a sweet brew by two friends from my LGS. This Standard legal list is almost entirely rotation proof, an alteration of what is already a top tier deck and even has an infinite combo added to the mix. Welcome to Temur Energy: Rise of The Thopters!

Before getting into the deck and all the sweet greatness contained within, credit must go to Paul Grimley and Dylan Murray. These guys play out of the same store as myself on a Friday night and are always good fun to compete with, whether I’m playing against hordes of Eldrazi (Paul) or some control concoction (Dylan). This rather delicious combo does take some setting up but can go off around turn four or five if all goes perfectly. But the deck itself benefits from the already established Temur Energy staple Bristling Hydra to really help you close out the game, meaning we don’t have to rely on all of our combo pieces all of the time.

The combo itself revolves around getting two Decoction Modules and a Panharmonicon on the field. Decoction module creates one Energy Counter whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, Panharmonicon means that this effect will trigger twice, creating two Energy for every creature coming into play. With this in place our Whirler Virtuoso can pay three Energy to create a 1/1 Thopter token, which generates more energy than it cost off of the double Decoction Module/Panharmonicon synergy. Rinse and repeat an arbitrary number of times and you’ve got yourself an unreasonably large swarm!


Creature

4x Whirler Virtuoso
3x Rouge Refiner
4x Glint-nest Crane
2x Bristling Hydra


In this build, even without the full combo assembled we generally create enough Energy to make Bristling Hydra a major threat, saving him from removal by simply having the energy there to activate his ability, getting buff and becoming Hexproof. We can usually count on this guy to close out a game… Hail Hydra!

In addition to this, we supplement our previously mentioned Whirler Virtuoso and Bristling Hydra’s with Rogue Refiner to generate Energy and draw a card plus Glint-Nest Crane to help us find the all-important Artifacts quickly and put a body on the board.

Instants and Sorceries:

3x Magma Spray
4x Censor
3x Glimmer of Genius
4x Attune with Aether


Magma Spray protects from the persistent threat of Scrapheap Scrounger and can effectively remove an early game Relentless Dead, crippling the various Zombie strategies in the meta while Censor offers an early game counter spell and a way to help us get through our deck later when we just don’t have what we need. Glimmer of Genius is a staple in these decks, generating energy and card advantage in our pursuit of combo pieces and Attune with Aether is the obvious turn-one play, ensuring we hit our land drops and manage to get the Energy engine started off in the right way.

Artifact

4x Decoction Module
3x Woodweavers Puzzleknot
3x Panharmonicon


Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot fills out our Artifact package, keeping us ahead on life total and supplementing the Energy theme. This can be vital when you need that three Energy to activate Bristling Hydra’s ability or to create a Thopter and kick-start the combo.

Land

4x Aether Hub
3x Lumbering Falls
3x Spirebluff Canal
4x Islands
4x Mountain
5x Forest


The land package contains Aether Hubs to give our Energy the very desirable property of mana-fixing, fast land in the form of Spirebluff Canal and the only card due to rotate out of standard in Lumbering Falls, the Battle For Zendikar Green/Blue man-land that becomes a 3/3 with Hexproof, providing a blocker or helping us get in for damage.

Sideboard

4x Harnessed Lightning
4x Abrade
4x Supreme Will
3x Sphinx of The Final Word


Our Sideboard could likely do with some tuning but Harnessed Lightning offers us some more removal and Abrade gives us flexibility in the removal, while Supreme Will and Sphinx of the Final Word come in for the control match-up, digging for pieces or flat-out shutting the opponent down.

Friday Night Magic Record:

Game 1 vs Temur Energy – loss
Game 2 Red White Aggro – win
Game 3 Black White Zombies – win
Game 4 Grixis Control – win

This deck, while brewed as a fun build to catch people off guard with an onslaught of Thopters surprised many by going 3-1 against a fairly strong field. As expected, the deck does lose to the near optimised form of Temur Energy which survived the Marvel ban but has a good matchup against most of the field. At it’s heart this really is just a fun variation on what is normally an ultra-competitive build in Standard.

I’d encourage everyone to try it out, it was certainly a pleasure to watch and write up. Once you’ve had a go, let me know how it went and what you might change to optimise performance.

If you happen to be in the area of Arbroath, Scotland stop in at Abbey Video Games on a Friday night for some Magic and good laughs! You can find the store online at https://www.facebook.com/Abbeyvideogames/


You can also catch me on Twitter with your feedback @GenericBadMtg

That’s all I’ve got for now so in the meantime, have a good one and just keep on enjoying Magic!

Yours,

GenericBadMtg

Hour Of Devastation Draft: Deserts Matter Shenanigans

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers,

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here to take you through my play experience with Hour of Devastation draft. Due to work commitments I’ve had only one opportunity to have a crack at this Limited format and even completely missed pre-release (send condolences and coffee please), but managed to attend two sessions of drafting at my LGS last weekend. My Friday record was two wins and a loss, finishing third overall with a tempo control White/Blue build utilising Striped Riverwinder and Angel of the God-Pharaoh as curve toppers.

However, I’m here to show off my shiny first place finish on Sunday 16th of July, where I played White/Green Deserts Matter (to a record of two wins, zero losses plus one draw) after a pack one pick one Ramunap Hydra and being passed not one but TWO Greater Sandwurms during the pack of Amonkhet. With a total of six Desert Lands in the deck I regularly controlled one or more and had some in the Graveyard for an optimal strength Hydra. Let’s take a look at the deck before breaking down my inclusions and my view on their utility in the deck.



Creatures:

1x Rhonas’s Stalwart
1x Binding Mummy
1x Mummy Paramount
1x Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs
1x Sidewinder Naga
1x Solitary Camel
1x Devoted Crop-Mate
1x Ramunap Hydra
2x Vizier of The True
1x Steadfast Sentinel
1x Ahn-Crop Champion
1x Crocodile of The Crossing
1x Shefet Monitor
2x Greater Sandwurm

To start with, Binding Mummy and Mummy Paramount made the cut simply as curve fillers but offered a little synergy in the hope of catching the opponent unawares. I can’t say it happened too often and most of the time they served a purpose as blockers when offered a trade.

Devoted CropMate

Devoted Crop-Mate helped to return a previously destroyed Binding Mummy or Mummy Paramount for a second block, occasionally even getting back a Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs.

Sidewinder Naga and Solitary Camel were just excellent value due to the number of Deserts in the deck. Camel being a huge point swing in the early game very regularly, having no problems turning on Lifelink, while Sidewinder Naga got through for pretty big chunks of damage. Further to the Deserts Matter theme our copy of Ramunap Hydra represented a dangerous threat with added utility as a big old blocker. Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs provided tremendous value, rendering most early game attacks useless for our opposition and doing as much as five or six damage over the course of the game with it’s tap ability, Deserts really do matter!

The real bomb in this list is of course Greater Sandwurm, usually coming down on curve and surprising the opponent just when they thought Hydra was as big as this deck got. The ability to completely ignore creatures with power two or less when attacking is invaluable and the presence of even one of these guys during a board stall is hugely intimidating to play against as it can beat almost any adversary when utilised as a blocker. When two hit the field? It was a game winner.

To fill out my curve and build up the the aforementioned Sandwurms we have cards like Vizier of the True, Ahn-Crop Champion and Crocodile of the crossing. Vizier and Champion really combine well in tapping down creatures your opponents control whilst also untapping your own attackers, such a high value synergy. Add on the utility of Rhonas’s Stalwart as another creature that Exerts to evade blockers with power two or less and you have some extremely potent combat phases.

Shefet Monitor

The last creature I’d like to talk about is Shefet Monitor. Need that last land to curve into Sandwurm? Cycle Monitor. Have that land in hand but want to lay down an intimidating Lizard? Play Shefet Monitor. This card is such a good enabler in this list and does a fantastic job of intimidating the opponent, swallowing up most creatures as a blocker and being fairly difficult for our adversaries to trade with.

Spells:

1x In Oketra’s Name
1x Djeru’s Renunciation
1x Act of Heroism
1x Gift of Paradise
1x Spidery Grasp
2x Ambuscade
1x Uncage the Menagerie

Most of the non-creature spells in this deck don’t do anything special, however there are two in particular I would like to discuss.

Uncage the Menagerie

Uncage the Menagerie was best cast for a total of six mana, allowing me to search out four of my four-drop threats, usually a Ramunap Hydra, Vizier of the True, Ahn-Crop Champion and Crocodile of the Crossing. This card is the reason the deck curved out so highly. Knowing I could pull four strong Limited cards with Uncage to help me gain an edge during board stalls I saw no problem with bulking out my four-drop slot. This allows me to play a big threat four turns in a row and if I hit my land drops maybe even play two on the same turn.

Ambuscade

Ambuscade… What a card, everyone loves it and I can’t say I blame them. This simply won me games, either by getting me ahead in the early game, or pulling me level in the late game. My favourite interaction of the day was casting Ambuscade to give my Solitary Camel +1/+0 (having fulfilled the criteria for Lifelink due to my Deserts), dealing four damage to an opposing creature, gaining four life, clearing the way to attack for four damage and gaining a further four life in the process. This combination was a twelve point swing on turn four. Spells like Ambuscade are just premium removal, fight spells without the downside of actually having to fight, buff spells for getting more damage in and I was lucky enough to be passed two in the same draft pack!

Land:

5x Forest
5x Plains
2x Desert of the True
1x Desert of the Indomitable
1x Hashep Oasis
1x Hostile Desert
1x Sunscorched Desert


In addition to the Basic Land package I included the above deserts, three of which Cycle to help satisfy Ramunap Hydra on both it’s Desert on the Field and it’s Desert in the Grave conditions. Hashep Oasis provided a nice interaction with greater Sandwurm, helping me push through for that extra few damage to make lethal on occasion, while Sunscorched Desert was just a nuisance where I took great delight in pinging the opponent for one damage and getting a land as part of the bargain. When Ramunap Hydra was either removed or irrelevant, I was happy to exile one of my cycling deserts from the Graveyard in order to activate Hostile Desert as an extra blocker.

I would like to note that the image provided shows Nissa’s Defeat in the main deck, however this was swiftly removed as it pushed my card count to that annoyingly odd number forty-one. Never sacrifice consistency to include what is essentially sideboard tech!

The resulting record of this list was 2 wins 0 defeats and 1 draw. (which came in what was almost a mirror match where I equalised right before the match clock went to time GG Daniel)

As the only undefeated player in my pod I took first place and earned first pick of the draft rares and foils. Pictured below are my prizes:

Draft Prize
This Draft format has been so incredibly fun to play, with so many great interactions and decks to play against (even a Locust God build in the final) that I would recommend it to anyone who can find a pod, either at their Local Gamestore or at home with friends on the kitchen table.

This past weekend was my first look at the new set and I can’t wait to get stuck into the new Standard with my previously posted Blue/Black Cycling list at my Local Game Store, fighting off the various concoctions of the most open Standard since Khans. The future truly seems bright for the format and so many exciting new deck archetypes are hitting the field that there is something for everyone!

Now that’s about all I have for this post, but catch me on Twitter @GenericBadMtg to let me know what you think of the build or if you’ve seen an interaction I didn’t mention here.

Please support your Local Game Store, you can find mine at http://www.facebook.com/abbeyvideogames so stop by and play if you’re ever in Arbroath, Scotland on a Friday night.

Farewell my Fellow Planeswalkers!

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

B/G -1/-1 Counters: A Nightmare for Indiana Jones

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers,

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here with a deck tech courtesy of our friend Luke from Orc’s Head Magic. The guys at Orcs Head are Fellow content creators who operate out of YouTube and do great work on their own deck techs, unboxings and giveaways among other things. A link to their efforts will be provided at the end of this list.

So today’s list is a rotation proof green/black deck which differs greatly from the established top tier variants due to a conspicuous absence of our favourite 2/3 Snake, Winding Constrictor. “But how can you justify that exclusion?” I hear you ask. Well, we will be throwing a whole heap of -1/-1 counters on our own creatures for value and, quite frankly, you can have too much of a good thing! Constrictor simply isn’t beneficial enough in all scenarios to merit a slot here.

So let’s take a proper look here, starting with our creatures:

4x Channeler Initiate
4x Exemplar of Strength
4x Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons
4x Ammit Eternal
4x Obelisk Spider
4x Plague Belcher



Our first creature is Channeler Initiate, a 3/4 for two mana, the drawback to this insane deal is that you must put three -1/-1 counters on a creature which you control when it enters the battlefield. To balance this out we can tap Channeler Initiate and remove one of these counters to add one mana of any colour to our mana pool, providing us with some nice and useful early game ramp. To provide an example of my earlier point regarding Winding Constrictor, the value here is in placing the counters on our Initiate to tap it for mana later. Constrictor would cause an additional counter and kill Initiate as a state based action on entering the battlefield.



Exemplar of Strength is another two mana creature that requires us to place three -1/-1 counters on a creature we control to justify its hefty 4/4 power and toughness. Much like our initiate the card turns these counters into something of a resource, removing a counter when exemplar attacks and causing us to gain one life in the process. In the later game it may be better value to put the counters on a token or other non-token creature we control to gain a two mana 4/4  without downside!



So what else can all of these glorious, glorious counters do for us? Well, with Hapatra being another premium two drop in the deck, we can generate 1/1 Snake tokens, with Deathtouch no less, for days, whether it’s by playing a creature that generates -1/-1 counters or by getting in for damage. These snakes can also serve as a place to put the -1/-1 counters to ensure our Exemplar of Strength or other creatures enter the battlefield at full power! (Generating another snake to replace the one you just killed in the process.) Overall an excellent inclusion that helps this list keep ticking on.



Have you seen the hype surrounding Ammit Eternal? If not, where the heck have you been?! At three mana for a 5/5 with Afflict 3 we feel like we’re getting some good value immediately. For those who don’t know yet, Afflict is an ability which states, whenever a player blocks a creature with Afflict that player loses life equal to the Afflict value. So in Ammit Eternal’s case, if he is blocked the opponent loses three life! We do have what could be perceived as a downside in that whenever an opponent casts a spell you have to place a -1/-1 counter on our Ammit, making him temporarily less of a threat. However, if the opponent chooses not to block him (as they don’t want to lose three life and the Ammit is a 1/1 for example) he deals combat damage and we remove all of the counters! This card does a great job in our deck of not only making the opponent think hard about whether to block or not during combat but also whether they should cast spells at all when they result in a 1/1 Snake with Deathtouch coming into play. Completely solid and a bit of a powerhouse with no real downside in this list.



Spiders, recently, have provided us with great versatility in combat situations and made a real impact in tournament level decklists. An example of this would be Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Now I’m not going to say Obelisk Spider will have quite the same impact as Ishkanah but it really has an excellent function in this deck. For three mana we have a 1/4 with reach, helping us defend against flying strategies. As a blocker, whenever Obelisk Spider deals damage to a creature we place a -1/-1 counter on that creature, synergising with the rest of the deck.

Her second ability makes most of what we do extremely effective. Whenever we put one or more -1/-1 counters on a creature each opponent loses one life and we gain one life. The whole point of this deck is making this happen and so Obelisk Spider will trigger again and again, draining our opponents and helping us keep up with aggro or grind down control through loss of life in the long game.



Plague Belcher helps to turn on our main strategy whilst also serving as a big bomb with some evasion. A 5/4 with Menace for three mana is unbelievable when the only downside is exactly what our deck wants us to do anyway. There is also a less relevant ability which is making our opponents lose one life whenever a Zombie we control dies. We do not play many zombies but it still triggers when the opponent decides to remove Ammit Eternal without exiling.

That’s it for Creatures so let’s move on to our other spells:

4x Splendid Agony
3x Trial of Ambition
3x Cartouche of Ambition
4x Nest of Scarabs



Splendid Agony is decent three mana removal which helps us to generate Snakes and shrink the opponent’s threats.



A card which forces your opponent to sacrifice a creature for two mana is a good deal, add to this that playing a Cartouche returns it to your hand. Reccuring removal is always good value in the Standard environment.



Cartouche of Ambition is a three mana Enchantment Aura which allows you to place a -1/-1 counter on any target creature, generating another Snake, and also giving the creature you enchant +1/+1 and Lifelink. Great against aggro lists and generally keeping you alive into the late game whilst also returning your Trial of Ambition to hand for more removal.



You know how I mentioned generating Snakes? What if every time I mentioned it I also said “and a 1/1 Insect”? Well now you too can achieve this for three mana with Nest of Scarabs. The deck loves this, flood the board with Snakes and Insects, go wide and overrun the opponent!

So we’re done with mainboard spells, let’s look at our Land package:

4x Blooming Marsh
4x Foul Orchard
5x Forest
9x Swamp



Blooming Marsh and Foul Orchard are the only notable inclusions in our mana base purely due to offering both colours and allowing our deck to play anything it needs as quickly as it can.

Now, we should take a look at our Sideboard:

3x Blossoming Defence
3x Festering Mummy
3x Dissenters Deliverance
3x Heroic Intervention
3x Prowling Serpopard

Blossoming Defence and Heroic Intervention help to protect your creatures against control decks and builds that go heavy on removal while Festering Mummy is another Zombie to synergise with Plague Belcher and turn on our -1/-1 counter shenanigans. Dissenter’s Deliverance matches up against Oketra’s Monument builds which we’ve seen rise to prominence recently and Prowling Serpopard seriously limits control decks ability to deal with out threats by stopping them countering our creatures!

With this complete list we can make enough Snakes to guarantee that Indiana Jones doesn’t come round anytime soon and also overrun our opponents on board-state. I really hope some of you put this together and have some fun games of Magic with it!

Is there anything I’ve missed? Are there any changes you would make to this list? Find me for feedback @GenericBadMtg

Find the Orcs Head Magic guys on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP1W5aJl3mWgAM643jsxZlw

Find them on Twitter: @OrcsHeadJordan @OrcsHeadLuke @OrcsHeadChris and @OrcsHeadAdam

Again, full credit to @OrcsHeadLuke for this decklist!

I’m all out of stuff to say so for now, have a good one and I sincerely hope you enjoy!

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

Blue/Black Cycling and -1/-1 Counters Part 2: An Updated List

Hello my fellow Planeswalkers!

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here with a bonus deck tech for you, based on my previous list which was originally built entirely from Amonkhet sealed product on MTGO. Since then I have put it together and upgraded big time!

The main idea here is to cycle cards for the value of shrinking and oppressing the opponents board until I can swing through with no resistance and beat down the opponent.

Let’s have a look at what I’ve done and what I’m looking to do in standard at least until Ixalan drops!

Creatures:

4x Ruthless Sniper

3x Vile Manifestation

4x Hollow One

3x Archfiend of Ifnir

Ruthless Sniper is very much the “Fan Bearer” of black, a one drop with an ability that helps suppress the opposition board, here in the form of -1/-1 counters and as a 1/2 he can usually stick around for a couple of turns. Due to his ability I am highly unlikely to use him as a blocker and will only attack with him if the coast is clear but he generates real value over the course of the game.

Vile Manifestation is a 0/4 for two mana which gets +1/+0 for each card with cycling in your graveyard. This guy is an excellent blocker on turn two or anywhere in the early game really and the longer the game goes more cards with cycling will find their way to your graveyard, especially in this build, making him a great beater late-game if you can keep him around. Also being able to cycle for two mana is an excellent deal when you can play cards from your graveyard, more on that later.

Hollow One, a card I covered in another of my articles, is a 4/4 for five mana with the perk of a mana discount of two for each card I have cycled that same turn. This ties in well with everything in the deck as the majority of the cards cycle to provide this discount and they even help you cast other copies of Hollow One through cycling for two mana. Coming down as early as turn three a 4/4 is always welcome, providing balanced defensive and offensive utility.

Archfiend of Ifnir is the powerhouse of this deck, a 5/4 Flying creature which shrinks the entire opposing board whenever you cycle or discount a card turns on one of the major synergies of this deck and provides an excellent beater. This card will only get stronger post rotation when removal like Grasp of Darkness leaves standard, hopefully offering serious staying power and providing good value in the long game.

Enchantments:

2x Faith of the Devoted

3x Nest of Scarabs

2x Drake Haven

1x New Perspectives

Faith of the Devoted is a card which provides a payoff from cycling our other pieces, as do all of our Enchantments in some way or another. Here we may pay an additional one mana each time we cycle in order to drain the opponent for two life, aiding in our efforts to survive aggro and stay ahead in longer matchups.

Nest of Scarabs may not directly benefit from cycling but in this list it synergises with the abilities of Ruthless Sniper and Archfiend of Ifnir, allowing us to fill the board with small creatures to act as chump blockers, prolonging the game until we have chipped away and cleared the opposition board.

Drake haven provides value for cycling for the cost of an additional one mana it creates a 2/2 flyer to help get over ground defences and provide blockers against Flying heavy strategies.

This is what I would call a spicy one of in the mainboard, not essential, but if the game goes long and it turns up the deck can get very much out of hand, allowing us to sink all of our mana into Drake Haven, Faith of the Devoted and Ruthless Sniper. Even allowing us to quickly fill the yard and boost Vile Manifestation to ridiculous proportions.

Other Spells:

4x Fatal Push

2x Grasp of Darkness

3x Scarab Feast

3x Heiroglyphic Illuminations

2x Splendid Agony

4x Abandoned Sarcophagus

I’m not so sure Fatal Push requires reasoning. The best one drop removal spell in the Standard format, one which even made waves in Modern? An excellent answer to Winding Constrictor and other small threats merits four slots in this deck, one of the easiest decisions to make.

Grasp of Darkness can take care of most mid sized threats in the format and the perk of lowering toughness rather than doing damage makes it a good God-Killer in the current format. The double black in the mana cost does mean it only gets two copies but with the -1/-1 counters generated by this deck I feel we have enough removal.

Scarab Feast is in this list mostly for cycling at the cost of a single black mana, however the ability to exile up to three target cards from any one graveyard helps us to deal efficiently with Scrapheap Scrounger and most of the graveyard recursion Zombie strategies can throw at you. 

Heiroglyphic Illumination helps us as a one mana cycler which can also help us draw two cards at a time in the later game. Helping us to find the answers we need to the current game state or help us propel our gameplan forwards.

Splendid Agony can offer us outright removal, shrink an opposing powerhouse and also synergises nicely with Nest of Scarabs to create insects. Due to counters being permanent I feel this certainly merits the mana cost of three for what it provides.

Our final spell in the mainboard (and I feel like I saved the best for last) is Abandoned Sarcophagus. Allowing us to cycle our expensive cards away in the early game and play them later when we can afford it is infinitely valuable to this deck. Heiroglyphic Illumination can draw three cards over the course of the game, we can cycle our Hollow One to discount its own price and play it straight from the graveyard the same turn. This effectively changes Hollow One to five mana for a 4/4 and a card in hand. Every cycled spell in this deck can officially be played for value from the graveyard and that kind of value cannot be overestimated!

Land:

4x Fetid Pools

8x Swamp

8x Island

Fetid Pools is the only non-basic land in this deck, offering both of our colours and utility as a cycling card which we can play from the graveyard later in the game.

Sideboard:

1x Drake Haven

2x Countervailing Winds

2x Curator of Mysteries

2x Never//Return

3x Negate

2x Essence Scatter

2x Torment of Hailfire 

1x New Perspectives

In this deck Countervailing Winds is near enough a hard counterspell in the late game due to the number of cards we will likely have in our graveyard, coupled with being able to cycle it for two mana and play it again from graveyard with Abandoned Sarcophagus this is a top-notch sideboard option against control.

Curator of Mysteries can cycle for one blue mana and offers value in letting you scry whenever you cycle or discard a card. All of that in addition to being a 4/4 Flying body for four mana means this guy might even make it into the mainboard dependant on the meta.

Never Return is excellent unconditional removal for Creatures or Planeswalkers, which also has utility from the graveyard to permanently remove that pesky Scrapheap Scrounger and provide you with a 2/2 Zombie in addition. This card is very likely to replace Grasp of Darkness after rotation.

Negate and Essence Scatter both make the sideboard to combat control strategies as we attempt to stay ahead.

Torment of Hailfire is in here again for the control matchup, as an excellent mana sink it can help to clear what few creatures they have or empty their hands and lower life totals.

Also in the sideboard we want an additional copy of both Drake Haven and New Perspectives, mostly for control matchups where it may be difficult to resolve a creature, this can keep you alive on board and help maintain a steady pace when attacking.

That’s all I’ve got for now and I, for one, am very excited to have brewed this for the coming standard. I hope some of you try it out, tell me how it runs for you and suggest any changes you would make!

Catch me on Twitter @genericbadmtg with your feedback

Also stop by Abbey Video Games in Arbroath, Scotland if you happen to be in the area on a Friday night and join in our FNM. A fun, welcoming atmosphere with good people is guaranteed!

For now, have a good one,

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

Utter Heckbent Zombie Madness!

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers,

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here for you with another deck tech!

Earlier this week I ran a poll on Twitter asking you, the people, to choose between a set review for Hour of Devastation or a deck tech for B/R Heckbent. The result was overwhelmingly in favour of Heckbent goodness!

So this is a list that wants to empty the hand onto the battlefield or into the graveyard as soon as possible and then rewards you for having one or fewer cards in hand!

Credit for this Zombie heavy Heckbent list must go to my friend Alan, not the same one from last time but Alan Bruce, another player from Abbey Games who I play alongside regularly. Let’s get into the meat of this list and hopefully we get this right!

Creatures:
3x Cryptbreaker
4x Scrapeheap Scrounger
4x Prized Amalgam
3x Haunted Dead
3x Hazoret the Fervent

Cryptbreaker

To start off we have three copies of Cryptbreaker in the one drop slot. Any zombies player knows about the utility this provides as an engine for drawing cards, but in this deck it is far more likely to be utilised for discarding cards and creating 2/2 Zombie tokens, turning what could be considered a sacrifice in most decks for your Zombie into a real upside.

Scrapheap Scrounger

Scrapheap Scrounger is a creature which serves as a card to discard through our many outlets, offering value as a returning threat for the cost of two mana and exiling another creature from your own graveyard.

Prized Amalgam

Prized Amalgam combines well with both Cryptbreaker as a discard target and also with Scrapheap Scrounger, returning during the next end step if any creature is cast from the graveyard. This can create a massive tempo swing, especially if you return Scrounger when the opponent ends their second main phase. On the opponents end step any and all Prized Amalgams will return to the battlefield tapped, meaning as soon as your turn starts, they are untapped and can attack.

Haunted Dead

Haunted Dead is a 2/2 black Zombie which creates a 1/1 white Spirit token on entering the battlefield for four mana. While this is not impressive in itself, this card really shines in the graveyard. Paying two mana and discarding two cards to return it from your graveyard not only creates another Spirit token but also brings back your prized amalgams as well helping you maintain Heckbent status to keep our next creature online.

I have seen the following sequence play out:

Opponent goes first-

Turn one, Lightning Axe the opponents one drop, discard Haunted Dead as an additional cost.

Turn 2: Land Drop, pass turn.

This puts nine power on the board for two mana and the cost of discarding two cards that then hit the battlefield anyway, insane value.

Hazoret

Hazoret, The Fervent, the red god of Amonkhet is a 5/4 for four mana which has Haste and Indestructible. As with all of the Amonkhet gods Hazoret has a condition to fulfil before she can attack or block. In her case, we must have one or fewer cards in hand, this is certainly not difficult in this deck and on many occasions she will be able to attack on the same turn she enters the battlefield. If, for some reason, you do not currently meet that criteria, her activated ability allows you to discard a card and deal two damage to each opponent for three mana, hopefully putting herself back online.

So we have all of this discarding among our creatures, what do we want to discard? Well we have seven spells with the keyword Madness and other spells with discarding as an integral aspect. Let’s talk through them:

Instant:

4x Lightning Axe
4x Unlicensed Disintegration
3x Fiery Temper

Sorcery:
3x Cut//Ribbons
4x Alms of the Vein

Lightning Axe

Lightning Axe is a one drop red Instant spell which deals five damage to target creature, taking care of most moderate sized threats in the format. What would normally be a downside in most other decks is that we need to discard a card or pay another five mana. Due to Heckbent and our spells with Madness we should always be choosing to discard a card. Our next spells are excellent choices for discarding:

Fiery Temper

Fiery Temper would normally cost one mana to cast from your hand and in return deals three damage to target creature or player. But, if you discard this, you have the choice of playing it from exile for one mana, still dealing three damage to target creature or player, effectively becoming a standard legal lightning bolt nine times out of ten in this deck.

Alms of the Vein

Alms of the Vein is similar to Fiery Temper as it is also a three drop spell, but while Temper is an instant, Alms is usually cast at Sorcery speed to drain three life from your opponent. When we discard it to Madness though, it gives us the option to pay one mana instead for the same effect.

Cut to Ribbons

Time to “cut” away from the Madness theme now (great pun right?) and look at Cut//Ribbons, an Aftermath card from Amonkhet. The side we play from our hand is a two mana Sorcery which deals four damage to target creature, offering solid removal at most stages of the game. But Ribbons, a Sorcery for two black mana plus X mana of any colour which we cast from our graveyard is an excellent mana sink, causing the opponent to lose as much life as we can afford to make happen, this card can and simply does win games in the later stages and if allowed to sit in your graveyard for any period of time it represents a huge threat for your opponent to think about.

Unlicensed Disintegration

Our last Instant is Unlicenced Disintegration, a three mana unconditional removal Spell which has added value if one of your Scrapheap Scroungers happens to be on the battlefield. Even without this it will take care of all non Indestructible or Hexproof threats your opponent can throw at you!

Enchantments:
3x Faith of the Devoted

img_3010

So for Enchantments we only have one card, of which we keep three copies in the main board. Faith of the Devoted rewards us for discarding cards as we can pay an additional one mana to drain two life from the opponent, gaining two life in the process. This helps to maintain our life-totals, outrace other aggro decks and transition into the mid and late games without losing too much advantage.

Land:
4x Foreboding Ruins
4x Canyon Slough
2x Spire of Industry
7x Mountains
6x Swamps

Our mana base is fairly straightforward, Foreboding Ruins gives us the choice of either Black or Red mana from the turn it comes into play, having to reveal a Mountain or Swamp is no real downside when it means our land comes in untapped. Canyon Slough will always enter tapped but has great synergy with with Faith of the Devoted as a cycling card, letting us drain the opponent and also hopefully drawing into a more relevant card, dependent on the situation. Spire of Industry also may seem like a strange inclusion but in games where we face a little graveyard hate and need creatures on the board it helps to hard-cast the Prized Amalgams by generating blue mana for us.

Sideboard:
3x Magma Spray
2x Tormenting Voice
3x Trespasser’s Curse
3x Bloodrage Brawler
2x Yahenni’s Expertise
2x Glorybringer

In the sideboard we have three copies of Magma Spray to deal with the opponents Scrapheap Scroungers and other recurring threats and Tormenting Voice to draw cards when we are in top deck mode and serve as a discard outlet.

img_3009

Trespassers Curse drains the opponent whenever a creature enters the battlefield under their control, a good piece of sideboard tech against mid range and go-wide strategies, particularly those that generate tokens.

Bloodrage Brawler

Bloodrage Brawler is a 4/3 for the cost of two mana and when it enters the battlefield you must discard a card. Putting four power on the board for two mana, especially for the additional cost of discarding a card in this deck is just insane value and I think an argument can probably be made for putting this guy into main board dependent on the meta.

Yahenni's Expertise

Yahenni’s expertise is a good sweeper for four mana in black for those mid-range match ups and also gives you a free cast of a spell with CMC three or less for added value.

Glorybringer

Glorybringer caused so much hype when Amonkhet dropped as a five mana 4/4 Flying Dragon with Haste. Already a very good deal and a dangerous combat threat which is very difficult for the opponent to play around, the ability to exert it on attacking and deal four damage to target non-dragon creature can be pivotal to removing blockers and clearing a path for lethal damage.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got for this deck right now but let me know what you think, what you would change, try it out and enjoy it!

In the meantime, if you’re in the Arbroath area in Scotland stop on by Abbey games. You can also find them at https://www.facebook.com/Abbeyvideogames/

Catch me here or on twitter @genericbadmtg and as always, have a good one!

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

 

Red/White Powerwalkers: a Super-Powered Deck Tech

Hello, My Fellow Planeswalkers,
Mathew from GenericBadMagic here to bring you a decklist made by a friend of mine and local player Alan Butchart-Stewart. Alan and I both play out of the same local game store, Abbey Games, in Arbroath, Scotland and are both travelling to Birmingham for the GP in August for some modern goodness.

Today’s list, however, is a Standard deck that I’ve really not seen much of elsewhere so, without further ado, here is Red/White Powerwalkers!

Planeswalkers:

4 x Gideon of the Trials (1WW)

4 x Gideon Ally of Zendikar (2WW) 

2 x Chandra Torch of Defiance (2RR) 

2 x Nahiri, the Harbringer (2RW) 

2 x Chandra, Flamecaller (4RR) 

We play only two copies of Chandra TOD and Nahiri in the four drop planeswalker slot to maximise the chances of dropping Gideon, Ally if Zendikar on curve during turn four. This allows us to start generating 2/2 creatures turn by turn and help support (and crew) a fairly well known combat threat in Heart of Kiran.

Nahiri herself has some excellent utility in this deck as a rummage engine (rummage meaning to discard a card, then draw a card) with her +2 ability, removal for those pesky Enchantments, tapped Artifacts and tapped Creatures with her -2 ability and also as a Tutor if you are successful in getting her to 8 or more loyalty.

         

Artifacts          

4 x Heart of Kiran

Creatures 11                                                  

4 x Thraben Inspector                               

4 x Gisela, the broken blade                          

2 x Archangel Avacyn                                          

1 x Bruna, the fading light

Thraben Inspector is an easy four of in your one drop slot, offering an early game body and card advantage in the form of a clue token on entering the battlefield.

Gisela, The Broken Blade and Bruna, The Fading Light are both excellent flying creatures to help get damage through. Gisela offers you 4 power with Flying, First Strike and Lifelink to help you win the race against aggro for only Four mana, two of which must be white. Bruna, is a 5/7 Flying creature with Vigilance, making her an excellent attacking threat that can still block the next turn, costing seven total mana, two of which must be white. The two Angel Horrors combine to form Brisela, Voice of Nightmares (awesome name right?), a 9/10 with the combined abilities of Bruna and Gisela, with the added bonus of limiting the opponent to spells with converted mana cost of four or more. (No cheap spells from aggro opposition)
To get Brisela you must first control both Bruna and Gisela, at your end step they become exiled and return to the battlefield as our huge, powerhouse Eldrazi Angel! A huge boost to your bid for victory!

Our final Creature on the list is Archangel Avacyn, a 4/4 Angel with Flying that grants your creatures indestructible until the end of the current turn when she enters the battlefield. But get this, she’s got the key word “Flash”, meaning that you can cast her any time you could cast an instant spell, making Avacyn an excellent an combat trick.

After that additional turn her second ability kicks in, when a non-Angel creature you control dies she transforms at the beginning of the next upkeep. The transformation turns Archangel Avacyn into Avacyn, the Purifier, a 6/5 creature with flying, dealing 3 damage to each other creature and each opponent at the time of transformation. This helps you to clear the field against White-Weenie or other aggro builds with low mana curves.

Other spells:

2 x Blessed Alliance 

2 x Immolating Glare 

2 x Fumigate                                                       

2 x Oath of Chandra

Blessed Alliance is a great modal Spell offering the option of gaining four life, untapping up to two target creatures or forcing the opponent to sacrifice an attacking creature, all at Instant speed! You can even choose more than one is you pay an extra two mana on top for each extra effect you choose, very useful as a sort-of combat trick or to keep yourself away from taking lethal damage. Immolation Glare let’s you destroy target attacking creature, Fumigate is a boardwipe at Instant speed for five total mana that also gains you one life for each creature destroyed this way and Oath of Chandra is an effective removal option against Winding Constrictor builds which also is very likely to do recurring damage as you play your many Planeswalker spells.

Land

4 x Inspiring Vantages

2 x Needle Spires 

10 x Plains                                                             

7 x Mountain                                                            

Needle Spires in the mana base allows us to supplement our fairly low creature count, while also covering both colours we require. For added flexibility Inspiring Vantages is the fast land to help support this. Choosing ten plains and seven mountains is indicative of the fact we want to play Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, with his double white and two generic mana cost, as early as possible, as often as possible.

Sideboard                                                      

4 x Magma Spray                                                

4 x Cast Out                                                            

2 x Fumigate  

2 x Quarantine Field 

2x Linvala, The Preserver                                      

1 x Bruna the Fading Light

The sideboard fills out the playset of Fumigate, adds Instant removal in the form of Magma Spray and Cast Out, Quarantine Field also helps to supplement this at Sorcery speed. 

Our only Sideboard creatures are a single copy of Bruna, The Fading Light and two copies of Linvala, The Preserver, because what do we want more than more fliers against low to the ground builds? That’s right, nothing, board wipes and fliers for days.

That’s about all I’ve got for this deck but I’d highly recommend you all try it out and let me know how it runs! Let me know what changes you would have made and most of all, just enjoy it.

As always, catch me on twitter @genericbadmtg and by email at genericbadmtg@gmail.com.

Check out Abbey Games @Abbeyvideogames on Facebook and be sure to stop by if you’re in the area.

Have a good one and support your local game store!

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

Hour of Devastation Spoilers: A Third Instalment

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers!

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here again to talk you through three of the newer cards spoiled from the next Magic: The Gathering set, Hour of Devastation!

I hadn’t initially planned on posting one of these this week, and in fact, before even starting this article I have half-written my scheduled Friday piece. But one of the three cards I want to talk about today has excited me so much I just had to let the world know.

But I like to build up to these things so let us start with a card for the White/Black Zombie players all around the world who were inspired by Chris Fennel’s Constructed shenanigans at Pro-Tour Amonkhet earlier this year and really, really, really want to take over the Multiverse with the shambling ranks of the undead. This is Unravelling Mummy:

Unravelling Mummy

Unravelling Mummy… Even the name has epic flavour! This really epitomises the damage caused by Nicol Bolas’ return to the plane of Amonkhet as everything is now falling apart, even the Annointed who once served the populace within the confines of Nakhtamun, allowing everyone to train for The Five Trials! As a creature, this is a 2/3 for three mana (one generic, one white and one black) which seems like decent value in Limited, but also has two key abilities. Ability number one reads “1W: Target attacking zombie gains Lifelink until end of turn” and ability number two is “1B: Target attacking zombie gains Deathtouch until end of turn”. As these abilities do not require you to tap Unravelling Mummy and can be activated at instant speed as many times per turn as you can afford this is an excellent mana-sink for the late game and can really help you carve out an advantage in those pesky board stalls or even just gain back a tonne of life against aggressive decks to help you win the race.

Due to it’s utility as a mana-sink which can gain you massive amounts of life or help you kill off key blockers this card can be a huge force in any Standard Constructed Zombies build. You also probably won’t mind him dying in the early game so much because of the excellent Graveyard recursion typically found in Zombie strategies. Unravelling Mummy can really help take your undead army to the next level.

Next up to bat is Appeal//Authority:

Appeal-Authority

Appeal is a Sorcery spell costing exactly one green mana with an affect often utilized by Elf strategies “Until end of turn, target creature gains trample and gets +X/+X, where X is the number of creatures you control”. This means if you control seven creatures the target of this spell gains trample and +7/+7 until the next cleanup step, absolute value for a one mana Sorcery. Authority is another Sorcery spell with the keyword Aftermath, meaning that it can only be cast from your graveyard and reads “Tap up to two target creatures your opponents control. Creatures you control gain Vigilance until end of turn”.  In a late game setting you should have the mana to cast Appeal during your first main phase, targeting the creature of your choice, and then also tap down two of your opponent’s potential blockers, paving the way for your newly buff fighter (and friends!) to smash through for hopefully lethal damage and not having to tap to do so due to the temporary Vigilance it has gained through Authority. In Limited this can really turn a game around and I can even see this making it into some token based strategies in Constructed.

The final preview card I want to talk about is also the one I was most excited about, Hollow One:

Hollow One

Hollow One is a 4/4 Artifact Creature with the subtype Golem that costs five mana of any colour to play. In addition to this Hollow one costs two less mana to cast for each card you have cycled or discarded that turn and can even be cycled for the cost of two mana. A reminder for newer players that cycling is when you discard a card in order to draw another card from the top of your deck. Without any cost reduction bonuses like on Hollow One or other benefits you may get from cycling a card this simply helps you to draw out of sticky situations by finding that land or spell that you need to close out the game or maintain momentum. Now you may say “But, Mathew, this card has no keywords or evasion to help get damage through, why would you even bother?” How’s about a 4/4 for one or zero mana on turn three? Simply cycle away two or three of the cards in your hand and play Hollow One for a greatly discounted price whilst also helping to draw your key resources. This card also has great utility in the late game as you can just cycle him to turn on the big synergies in your deck like Faith of the devoted or Archfiend of Ifnir (with a Nest of Scarabs kicker of course)… My value sense is tingling.

You may remember my earlier article about a U/B Cycling Deck, well I decided to go with it and as of a few days ago was almost done after several updates to better facilitate the above synergies without losing too much traction in the early game. This card, when it appeared on my twitter feed, stole my heart (and maybe my wallet too if it turns out to be expensive) and immediately found a place on that thoroughly upgraded list. I, for one, cannot wait to test this guy out and I definitely recommend that you do too!

That’s all I’ve got for now but as always catch me with your feedback here or on Twitter @GenericBadMtg and let me know what YOU want to see.

Have a good one for now,

Yours,

GenericBadMagic.

 

Hour of Devastation Spoilers: More Like “Hour of Torments” Am I Right?!

Hello my fellow Planeswalkers,

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here to talk to you about some of the spoilers for the upcoming Magic: The Gathering set, Hour of Devastation! I’ve got 6 cards I want to talk about today and there’s a real dark theme as all of them require black mana as part of their casting costs.

Each card in some way epitomises the darkness inherent to this new set as Bolas demolishes what remains of Amonkhet to make way for his eternal undead army. So let’s start easy with an Aftermath card called Claim//Fame.

First of all, I love the way they’ve named these cards so that a “to” fits between the individual halves. Not only do they reference popular phrases but also highlights the transition between the two parts. So claim, a one black mana sorcery speed spell allows you to return target creature with converted mana cost of two or less from your graveyard, perfect for returning your cheap creatures like Nimble-Blade Khenra or Sylvan Advocate. You can choose to spread the spell over multiple turns, or, if you have the extra two mana (one generic and one red) you can give that creature, or any creature you control for that matter, haste and +2/+0 until end of turn. This can be a real momentum swing in the early game and great for B/R aggro in games where your one drop has been removed.
Now, I don’t like to do things by halves so I’m just going to drop in this guy: Razaketh, the Foulblooded.

Razaketh, in the story, is the first one to appear as the hallowed Door to the Afterlife on Amonkhet opens. Flying out and promptly turning the Luxa River to blood, real biblical stuff! 

As a gameplay option he is an 8/8 Flyer with Trample for 8 mana, which is a great deal in Limited. What makes him a late game option in Contstructed is his ability to Tutor for ANY card in your library for the small cost of two life and the sacrifice of a creature. I, personally, would love to use him as an endgame in a U/B cycling build, sacrificing a creature and losing a life isn’t a problem if you’ve been creating insects with Nest of Scarabs and gaining life through Faith of the Devoted. In all, a solid and flavoursome card.

Next up is the final god of Amonkhet, one which Bolas originally incapacitated and locked away, to be corrupted to his own ends. The Scarab God!

Let’s start by talking about the differences between The Scarab God, his corrupted brethren (The Locust God and The Scorpion God) and the other five gods of Amonkhet.

I’m going to use Oketra as the comparison, as this post revolves round black cards let’s show the other side right? Oketra has one major thing in common with the other gods of Amonkhet, Indestructible. This is absent on the three new, corrupted gods. But, although they can die, our new deities are all returned from the graveyard to your hand at the end of the turn. Similar to the other gods, The Scarab God has an ability which affects the game without needing to be influenced, having EACH of your opponents lose X life and letting you scry X cards where X is the number of Zombies you control. Immediately I see this fitting in a U/B Zombies EDH build, utterly devastating in multiplayer if you can develop a large enough board state. But this is certainly strong in a Standard constructed zombies build, even post rotation where blue will mostly be for counter spells and control. His second ability, as with the other gods, helps to facilitate the first, essentially applying the Eternalise mechanic to ANY creature in ANY graveyard to create 4/4 threats which maintain the abilities they had in life. Again, this is a fantastic manoeuvre in EDH and the fact that he just won’t stay dead makes him very hard to get rid of unless exiled.

Now to the cards I reference in the title: The Torments!

An Instant, a Sorcery and an Enchantment, something for all occasions! Let’s start with Torment of Venom, for four mana (2BB) we can put three -1/-1 counters on a target creature AND the opponent gets a very nasty choice between losing three life, sacrificing another permanent or discarding a card. Useful for either shrinking a big threat or getting rid of a smaller utility creature the opponent controls at Instant speed. This card is great when you are ahead but also, I think, good enough to help you claw your way back from behind.

Torment of Hailfire allows us to pay X+BB mana and we repeat the effect of the spell X times. It’s controller can either lose three life, sacrifice a nonland permanent or discard a card. So if we pay 2BB the opponent does this twice, effectively shrinking the hand, board presence or life total of out adversary. Using this as a late game mana sink this process can be repeated a large number of times and provides us with a real advantage or a way of getting back into the game, this would be broken at Instant speed and is certainly worth it at Sorcery. 

One more thing I’d like to bring up about this card is the extraordinary flavour, I’ve already mentioned biblical events but this just reminds be of hellfire, sulfur and brimstone… THE GOD-PHARAOH HAS RETURNED!

Torment of Scarabs is an Enchantment costing 3B and has “enchant player, at the beginning of enchanted players upkeep, that player loses three life unless they sacrifice a permanent or discard a card. So, all three of the Torments have the same basic ability, except the Instant is tied to a counters based removal effect, the sorcery can multiply its effect and the Enchantment is reccurent. Based on this showing Grixis Torment could be a flavoursome and effective deck strategy and I for one cannot wait to test these cards out in paper and on Magic Online.

That’s me for now but let me know if I’ve missed anything, what you would do with these cards, what do you think and critique my writing!

Until next time, play on, enjoy life and have fun my fellow Planeswalkers.

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

Hour of Devastation Spoilers: Spotlight on Deserts

Hello my fellow Planeswalkers!

Mathew from GenericBadMTG here again to talk to you about some of the recent Hour of Devastation spoilers, in particular, Deserts! For this set, as you all know, we visit the paradise of Nakhtamun, an oasis of sorts with a magical barrier, The Hekma, serving as protection from the ravages of the outside world, a grim desert where horrors and the undead roam the land laying waste to any and all life that encroaches on their territory. As such there is a real thematic importance of Deserts to the flavour of this set as the almighty God-Pharaoh Nicol Bolas has returned to claim his army of the worthy undead and destroy all who remain. Some of these Deserts, we may note from the art, depict the remains of once magnificent monuments to the five active gods of Amonkhet.

 

Now this story element brings me to the first cards I’d like to talk about in this spotlight. Each of these land with the subtype Desert enters the battlefield tapped and can be tapped for one of the relevant coloured mana. They also have the nice upside of cycling for the cost of two mana, one generic and one in the colour of the representative god, to help you find your answers to your opponent’s strategy in the late game. This makes them all good additions in a deck where your spells care about the inclusion of Deserts in play and also with cycling, spells which want Deserts in the graveyard. More on those spells later.

There is one more Desert I’d like to talk about, which I will picture below, and which is also in Spanish or Portuguese so here’s a translation I found:

Scavenger Ground
Land – Desert Add 1 colourless mana to your mana pool
Pay 2 mana, tap it, Sacrifice a Desert: Exile all cards from all graveyards.

Scavenger's Ground

This is a clear and obvious answer to Mono-Black zombies and other decks that care about graveyard recursion, opponent’s tapped out? Remove their Scrapheap Scroungers in addition to the remainder of the yard. It is also worth noting that Aftermath cards like Cut//Ribbons and Dusk//Dawn are also vulnerable to this removal, making Scavenger’s Grounds a very useful card in your Desert based strategies.

Onward now to four spells which care about Deserts, to see how these strategies may start to shape up:

Desert's Hold.png >Arrest

Desert’s Hold is a strictly better Arrest as simply controlling a Desert, or having one in the graveyard, gains you three life points and the enchanted creature’s activated abilities cannot be activated. In limited this is a tremendous card, restricting the functionality of the five gods of Amonkhet and various other threats in the format. In standard constructed this will likely only see play in decks with straight Desert strategies due to the condition for gaining life, but may be included over cards like Compulsory Rest as a way of shutting down the activated abilities of Tireless Tracker, Rhonas the Indomitable or Bontu the Glorified among others.

Gilded Cerodon

Gilded Cerodon does what red likes to do, gets through for damage. Preventing blockers is always a great thing in Limited and a 4/4 for five mana is a reasonable deal, even without the Desert bonus. Prevent a smaller creature from blocking to offer up a big trade and deal with an opposing threat or, simply, stop their only blocker and smash face. I don’t feel like there’s much more to say about this card so lets look at our next entry: Sand Strangler.

Sand Strangler

I am a big fan of “enter the battlefield” effects like these and having a Desert in play or in the graveyard is not much of a hoop to jump through in order to deal three damage and remove a reasonably sized creature. Casting in your second main phase also offers the opportunity to take out a larger creature with damage marked on it from combat. In all, dealing three damage and putting three power on the board for four mana is not a bad settlement at all, which puts this squarely in the uncommon spot. There are ways of pushing this through flickering but I do feel it would be a bit of a stretch warp an entire Boros or Temur strategy around it, meaning standard constructed may not see much of this, although in Limited you could pair him up with Vizier of Deferment for a second bolt on an opposing creature. We have room for one more creature and it must be said, I love this creature type, Hydra:

ramunap_hydra

Hail Hydra! Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, this guy is a 3/3 for four mana, probably on the line of fair value in Limited with the added benefit of not one or two keywords, but three! Vigilance, Reach and Trample. You also get +1/+1 if you control a Desert and +1/+1 if you have a Desert card in your graveyard. So, imagine you play a Desert on turn one, cycle one on turn two or three and then drop this handsome devil on turn four? You have a 5/5 with three combat benefits for an investment of only four mana. You can attack with him, smash through opposing blockers and still have something left back to combat flying damage. As far as limited creatures go this is a card that would seriously influence my colour choice and is an auto-include in any Desert based Standard constructed strategies. The ceiling of five maximum power is worth noting as a potential downside but the combat flexibility offered by Ramunap Hydra really outweighs this in my eyes.

That’s all I’ve got for now, so please comment your opinions, what have I missed and what would you say differently about these cards?

Find me on twitter as always @GenericBadMtg with that feedback

Goodbye my fellow Planeswalkers, enjoy yourselves and play fair!

Yours,

GenericBadMagic