New Standard: The Return of GenericBadMagic

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers!

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here and it’s been a few weeks since I last produced any content but in that time I’ve put together what could be a nice and competitive deck list with a twist for Ixalan Standard. Ever since the release of Hour of Devastation, and it’s namesake boardwipe, I’ve been dying to try out U/R control but never had the resource available to put a list together due to the costs of Torrential Gearhulk and Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

With the release of Ixalan I find myself with enough new and untested toys for the deck to really have me interested and today I’m going to talk you through my concept for what the deck could be.

As a disclaimer I will say this started out as a fairly stock list, in fact I copied the basis straight from the list Paul Cheon ran for Channel Fireball months ago on YouTube, this gave me an idea of how to put together the mana base, which is extremely important in control. I then proceeded to load the deck up with the usual staple spells and supplement them with new releases. Let’s take a look at the list and then I’ll talk about the unusual (or simply new) additions.

Land:

4x Aether Hub
4x Spirebluff Canal
11x Island
6x Mountain

Spells:

4x Opt
4x Spell Pierce
3x Harnessed Lightning
4x Lightning Strike
4x Censor
2x Fraying Sanity
2x Disallow
4x Glimmer of Genius
1x Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2x Vance’s Blasting Cannons / Spitfire Bastion

Creatures:

3x Torrential Gearhulk
2x Fleet Swallower

Sideboard:

1x Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2x Glorybringer
2x Sweltering Suns
2x Hour of Devastation
2x Abrade
2x Disallow
2x Magma Spray
2x Crook of Condemnation

The Usual Suspects

As I mentioned previously this list started out as an established template for the archetype. To supplement or even improve on the already established suite of instants and sorceries we see Opt, Spell Pierce and Lightning Strike join the staples of Glimmer of Genius, Disallow and Harnessed Lightning. The loss of Incendiary Flow to rotation is mitigated by Lightning Strike and it’s return to the Standard format, offering the same damage output and versatility to go for the dome, losing the exile effect but coming in at a whole mana cheaper for the privilege.


Torrential Gearhulk and Chandra, Torch of Defiance absolutely take their places at the head of this deck with Gearhulk often being the finisher on the eventual beatdown and Chandra providing mana, card advantage/damage, removing creatures or even potentially providing a pretty busted emblem.


The New Experiments

One more reason for the inclusion of Opt and Lightning Strike at such low mana slots is the addition of Vance’s Blasting Cannons to the deck. With an ability straight from the Khans mode to Outpost Seige it already offers solid enough card advantage but it’s true power (and reason for inclusion) lies in transforming the enchantment after casting our third spell of the turn.

Vance's Blasting Cannons
Welcome to the mana base, Spitfire Bastion! Of course we can use this to generate a red mana but where’s the fun in that? Just pay 3 mana (one of which must be red) and tap it to bolt any opposing creature or player. The perfect threat to hold up and significantly harder to remove than Dynavolt Tower, which would have filled the role of providing reach without our new toy.

Spitfire Bastion

The Alternate Ending

Another card that really excited me during spoiler season is Fleet Swallower, a 7 mana 6/6 fish which traumatises (rounded up instead of down) whenever it attacks. But how does that help? Always removing 50% of a library doesn’t get them to 0 cards, so how do we finish off this alternative win condition? Fraying Sanity. That’s how.


Fraying Sanity is an Enchantment Aura Curse which, at the end of every turn, causes the chosen opponent to put cards from the top of their library into their graveyard equal to the number of cards that hit the yard for them already that turn. So if they have 40 cards left when Fleet Swallower attacks they put 20 cards into the graveyard and when you pass turn they do it again. This should cause the opponent to lose on their own draw step since Laboratory Maniac is nowhere to be seen!

Contingency Planning

I’m very aware that the mill-win is an experimental inclusion for the archetype but I’m prepared to take that leap!

Supreme Will
A potential upgrade

Long term, to be more competitive if this doesn’t pay off, I can see the Fraying Sanity/Fleet Swallower combo being removed for a playset of Supreme Will, providing card advantage and more spells to trigger Vance’s Blasting Cannons.

In Closing

That’s about all I have about this list but it is the one I plan on playing long term, tuning and adjusting to the metagame in a bid to start putting up some results, starting with my first constructed PPTQ at the end of October!

If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to hit me up here or on Twitter @GenericBadMtg

You can also find this list for a more visual view at Mtg Goldfish

While your’re at it check out Kitchen Table Mtg for a wide selection of content creators (including myself) to enjoy.

Until next time, keep on Planeswalkin’

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

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Posthumous Trampolining: Otherwise Known as U/B Zombie-Bounce

Hello My Fellow Planeswalker,

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here to talk you through a ghoulish deck which is sure to send opposing creatures running back to their owners hands, this is Zombie-Bounce!

The flavour here is achieved by filling the deck with twenty-two creatures, mostly of the type Zombie, to strike fear into the hearts of your adversary. Their creatures will scurry back to their hands under the influence of spells like Compelling Deterrence and Unsubstantiate. Lets take a closer look at what makes this deck tick.

Creatures:

4x Cryptbreaker
2x Dread Wanderer
3x Relentless Dead
4x Prized Amalgam
3x Diregraf Colossus
2x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2x The Scarab God
2x Gisa and Geralf

So, smaller creatures first, everyone knows the kind of engine that a Cryptbreaker can be in any Zombies list and here is no exception, helping you to generate tokens and draw cards rather effectively.

Dread Wanderer is another Zombie which can be tapped to help Cryptbreaker draw cards for you, whilst also being a recurring threat from the graveyard.

Following this same pattern Relentless Dead, whilst being evasive with Menace, allows us to chose either paying a single black mana to return it to our hand, or paying x mana of any colour to return a creature with Converted Mana Cost (CMC) x from the graveyard to the battlefield when Relentless Dead dies, turning itself, and your other creatures, into truly relentless threats.

All of the above help, in some way, to trigger Prized Amalgams return from the graveyard to the battlefield. With Cryptbreaker you can discard it, Dread Wander can bring them back by returning itself and Relentless Dead can revive them by returning another creature. A very tasty synergy in the early game indeed.


Diregraf Colossus is another big player in the Zombie decks which have been so prevalent lately, benefiting greatly from a stacked graveyard and generating tokens whenever you cast a zombie spell, another resource for Cryptbreaker!

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and his Lifelink can be a real thorn in the side of aggro decks, even converting their small creatures that die into 2/2 zombie tokens for yourself.

*Cough* Cryptbreaker *Cough*

He can even utilize these tokens with his activated ability to pump himself up with two +1/+1 tokens, intimidating all in his path!

The Scarab God really takes advantage of all these zombies gaining life and scrying for X (the number of zombies you control) during your Upkeep steps, making this ability even more useful by exiling creatures from your graveyard and making a 4/4 black zombie copy to further fuel your synergies. (have I mentioned Cryptbreaker recently?) Our creepy-crawly overlord also has the added advantage of just not staying dead, returning to it’s owners hand at the end step following it’s demise.

The final creature to tie all of this together is Gisa and Geralf, entering the battlefield to ship four cards from the top of your library off to the graveyard and hopefully dumping a couple of zombies to bring back later in the process. The second ability on these grisly siblings is allowing you to cast one zombie creature card from your graveyard on each of your turns as long as they are in play… a huge swing if you buried your Prized Amalgam’s in there earlier.

Planeswalkers:

2x Liliana, the Last Hope

Liliana, the last hope.jpg

Liliana presents a threat that must be answered, no one wants to see her remove seven loyalty counters and suddenly present an army with the power of exponential growth. No one except you, that is. To help her get there she can give up to one target creature -2/-1 until your next turn, somewhat protecting herself, for the benefit of adding a loyalty counter. With her minus ability also returning a creature from the graveyard to your hand you shouldn’t struggle to maintain a number of blockers to keep her safe and insulate your own life total.

Spells:

3x Cemetary Recruitment
3x Grasp of Darkness
3x Supreme Will
3x Unsubstantiate
3x Compelling Detterence


Let’s take a look at the Instant and Sorcery options that don’t bounce creatures. With Cemetery Recruitment we can return a creature card from the graveyard to our hand and, as an added benefit, draw a card if that creature was a Zombie… it probably will be!

Grasp of Darkness is solid removal, killing most creatures in the format, including Hazoret the Fervent, Standard just won’t be the same without it!

Supreme Will is brilliant for card advantage, either digging through our deck or acting as a counter spell when the opponent is low on mana.


These two spells both offer us ways of bouncing creatures back to the opponents hand and buying ourselves some time. Compelling Deterrence even hits nonland permanents in general and can knock back a Heart of Kiran or Skysovereign, Consul Flagship at will. Due to our large Zombie contingent the opponent will then often have to discard a card, which can be great when they’re nearing top-deck mode.

Land:

2x Choked Estuary
4x Sunken Hollow
2x Evolving Wilds
3x Island
10x Swamp


The mana base is pretty straight forward, Dual-Lands in the corresponding colours and Evolving Wilds because sometimes we just need to go find a blue source and thin out the deck a little bit. The heavy concentration of black mana symbols in the deck justifies only three islands, Evolving Wilds is just insurance for our fixing.

Sideboard:

3x Flaying Tendrils
2x Bontu’s Last Reckoning
2x Torment of Hailfire
3x Jace’s Defeat
3x Liliana’s Defeat


These cards in the sideboard all offer us a kind of boardwipe, Flaying Tendrils sweeps away most of the low toughness creatures you find in aggro strategies like Ramunap Red, Bontu’s Last Reckoning clears the board of all but indestructible things and claims your mana for an extra turn by not letting you untap and Torment of Hailfire (with enough of an investment) can eat your opponents hand, make them clear their own board and even eat into their life-total quite nicely if timed correctly.


To add to this versatility, Jace’s Defeat offers us a real silver bullet against control and in the event of countering a Jace Planeswalker also lets you scry 2 while Liliana’s Defeat can take down Nicol Bolas, Innistrad’s verion of Liliana (The Last Hope) or even a big black creature like Razaketh. If it does take down a Liliana Planeswalker the opponent also loses three life.

That’s the rundown of this deck and although it is due to rotate out shortly this really is a deck which can provide some real fun shenanigans, so could be worth it to put together and jam a little before rotation rolls around!

If you do try it out or otherwise want to give me feedback anyway please catch me on Twitter @GenericBadMtg

Next time out we’re going to look at the Dinosaur spoilers of Ixalan! (or at least my favourite ones)

Until then, have a good one,

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

Back to Standard: Jund Aggro

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers,

You know those decks you build in draft events and have a whole heap of fun with? The ones that make you say “I gotta make this in constructed”? Well for Alan Bruce, a fellow player out of Abbey Video Games in Arbroath, this is one such deck.

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here to take you through a Jund Aggro deck which was built around two key cards in Draft; Samut, the Tested and Insult // Injury.

Let’s take a look…

Creatures

4x Greenbelt Rampager
4x Bloodrage Brawler
4x Servant of the Conduit
4x Rhonas the Indomitable
4x Bristling Hydra
2x Glorybringer


First up we have Greenbelt Rampager, a one mana 3/4 which requires you to pay two Energy when it enters the battlefield, if you cannot then it returns it to your hand and provides you with one Energy. Usually this card comes down and stays down on turn two as players use Attune With Aether on turn one to sort their mana out and gain a couple of Energy in the process, all in all this is a solid creature for the one mana investment.

Bloodrage Brawler at 4/3 for two mana is another good deal with the downside being that you must discard a card when it enters the battlefield. Having two Aftermath cards in Insult // Injury and Cut // Ribbons totalling six copies means you have a good chance of getting actual value out of this condition.

Servant of the Conduit is a reasonably good mana fixing creature that buys you a turn or two whilst trying to gain access to that third colour of land by tapping for one mana of any colour in exchange for one Energy.


Time to show off our more powerful creatures now with Rhonas, The Indomitable. It’s relatively easy to meet his condition for attacking or blocking due to our early game Bloodrage Brawler, meaning we can get in with Rhonas by turn four, the way the mothership intended! If this does not pan out as planned you can always use Rhonas to buff a creature or use turn four to put out a Bristling Hydra or  Glorybringer (Servant of the Conduit allowing), either way making Rhonas a threat as soon as possible.

Bristling Hydra is just one of the best cards in Standard right now, an absolute beater in Temur Energy builds due to the ability of making itself bigger And Hexproof for a turn at the cost of three Energy. It even pays for the first usage of the ability on entering the battlefield! Overall just a solid card.

Where to start with Glorybringer? The Dragon that just dominates in limited and can come down and shift the tempo substantially in the current Standard constructed format. A 4/4 Flyer with Haste for five mana seems like a good deal but when you can Exert during an attack and deal four damage to any non-Dragon creature you choose he can also work as a fantastic removal spell. Use him to clear the opponents flying blocker and get in for damage himself, or protect a valued asset on the ground, either way Glorybringer is a great card which is only going to get better when Grasp of Darkness rotates out of the format.

Spells:

3x Fatal Push
3x Attune with Aether
3x Cut // Ribbons
3x Insult // Injury


To start with we have three copies each of the following spells to help us further our gameplan and insulate ourselves against early threats. Fatal Push deals with creatures played in the early turns, while Attune with Aether helps us find a basic land to fix our mana and provides Energy for Servant of the Conduit, Greenbelt Rampager and Bristling Hydra.

Insult // Injury is an Aftermath card allowing us to double the damage output of sources you control for the rest of the turn and ruling out damage prevention for the opponent. The Injury side of it can be cast from the Graveyard and deals two damage to target player and the same to target creature.

Cut // Ribbons is a solid win condition in this deck and probably a card that I am very happy to discard for Bloodrage Brawler. In the late game having Ribbons online to cast from your graveyard is a huge thing to hold over the opponents head and forces them to sideboard in graveyard disruption as you can just sink mana into it and attempt to drain the last of their life. At its best, Cut // Ribbons is a great card and at the worst it influences how the opponent approaches the matchup, which is invaluable in itself.

Artifacts:

3x Heart of Kiran

img_3125
Heart of Kiran fits in here nicely, as a big Vigilant Flying threat it can be fairly sure to get in for some damage or at least force an Abrade out of the opponents hand. Another nice little interaction here is tapping Greenbelt Rampager to crew Heart of Kiran and bring Rhonas online at the same time, so this is definitely a justifiable inclusion.

Planeswalkers:

2x Samut, the Tested

Samut, The Tested.jpg
Samut is the second build-around card in this deck, alongside Cut // Ribbons, allowing you to give your creatures Double Strike until the end of turn, splitting two damage as you chose between target creatures or players or tutoring for two creature or Planeswalker cards and placing them onto the battlefield. She is not the strongest Planeswalker out there and probably would not be present in a deck built from the ground up, but this is a modification based on a Draft deck and her performance in Limited justifies the inclusion in a fun constructed build.

Land:

4x Moutnain
4x Forest
1x Swamp
4x Blooming Marsh
4x Aether Hub
4x Game Trail


Aether Hub allows us to fix our mana with the energy from Attune, whilst Blooming Marsh and Game Trail cover the three colours between them. The single Swamp inclusion is simply to give Attune a target if you are low on Black mana sources and need one fast.

Sideboard:

3x Magma Spray
2x Glorybringer
3x Sweltering Suns
2x Hazoret the Fervent
1x Samut, the Tested
2x Crook of Condemnation
2x Abrade


Magma Spray allows us to dispatch of those troublesome Scrapheap Scroungers and Relentless dead against Zombies whilst also taking care of most early game creatures in Ramunap Red decks.

Sweltering Suns is a great sweeper against these decks as well and can even be cycled away for another card if you decide it does not further your game plan.

Abrade helps to support the removal package whilst also offering modality, destroying any artifact from Heart of Kiran to God-Pharaoh’s Gift.


Crook of Condemnation helps you to shut down Graveyard shenanigans in Reanimator decks which look to utilize God-Pharaoh’s Gift but can also be used as precision removal for Scrapheap Scroungers and other naturally recurring creatures.

Hazoret makes this list because she is just an absolute powerhouse, you will rather regularly be left with few cards in hand and as a result Hazoret will be ready to beat face and keep her brother Rhonas ready for battle too!

Everything in this deck aside from Game Trail is rotation proof and can be enjoyed for quite some time, so I would encourage you all to try it out. Let me know what you would change about the list, what little edits do you feel can push this from an above average FNM deck to a Store Championship victor?

Catch me with your feedback on Twitter @GenericBadMtg

Check out Abbey Video Games at http://www.facebook.com/AbbeyVideoGames and stop by if you’re ever in Arbroath, Scotland on a Friday night for some good old Mtg fun!

Until next time, have a good one,

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

GP Birmingham Part 4: Always Take the Draw

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers,

A wise old man (sorry Shep) once said “Always take the draw”. You could be forgiven for thinking he refers to intentionally drawing, or ID’ing as it’s known to competitive Magic players, but he is, in fact, giving fantastic advice for the startup procedure in any game where you play with a very specific Modern fringe deck: 8-Rack.

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here to talk to you about 8-Rack, the deck chosen by Mark Shepherd, another one of the Arbroath players who attended GP Birmingham last weekend. Mark has been playing Magic for quite some time and often yearns for the old days of completely locking your opponent down and making them suffer for it (I said wise OLD man right?). 8-Rack fully facilitates this approach, stripping your opponent’s hand, removing their on-board threats and then dealing damage to them for having three or less cards in hand due to The Rack!

Always taking the draw and going second means you start the game effectively with one or two more cards than the opponent and it means they are holding less cards for you to take away before The Rack or Shrieking Affliction come online.

Lets start by looking at the cards which spawn the name…

The Win Condition:

4x The Rack
4x Shrieking Affliction

 

So, the deck runs four copies of a card called The Rack, when this card comes into play you choose an opponent, then at the beginning of that player’s Upkeep step The Rack deals X damage to them, X is equal to three minus the number of cards they have in hand. This means that with one card in hand the opponent takes two damage.

The deck also runs four copies of Shrieking Affliction, which causes each opponent to lose three life at the beginning of their upkeep if they have one or less cards in hand, an effect pretty similar to The Rack.

So in essence, it’s like just having eight copies of The Rack! (It took me longer to realize that was why than I’d like to admit)

To support The Rack and Shrieking Affliction we have a number of Spells which cause the opponent’s hand size to diminish in some way, let’s have a look:

Discard and Removal Spells:

2x Thoughtseize
4x Inquisition of Kozilek
3x Raven’s Crime
3x Wrench Mind
2x Collective Brutality
4x Smallpox
1x Surgical Extraction
2x Dismember
3x Fatal Push

 

These are your premium, turn one cards for gleaning information and starting to shrink the opponent’s hand size. Remember to always Thoughtseize first, because it can hit any nonland card AND let you know if an Inquisition will catch anything next turn.

 

Who can argue with the effectiveness of repeatedly forcing your opponent to discard a card? Raven’s Crime offers that value, retracing from your graveyard if you have a spare Land in your hand to discard in addition to one black mana. Better yet, it does not exile itself from your graveyard like a lot of similar re-usable spells do!

Wrench Mind is great if you know they either have a great artifact in hand that you’d like to encourage the opponent to discard and even if you know they don’t! Forcing two cards out of someone’s hand for only two coloured mana which is easily produced in your deck translates to superb value and really furthers your gameplan.


Collective Brutality offers modality, the first choice is always to look at the opponent’s hand and try to choose an Instant or Sorcery, forcing the opponent to discard it, but you can also shrink an opposing creature or drain the opponent for two life in addition to this by simply discarding a card for each additional effect.

Smallpox is ideal for forcing a discard, Land sacrifice, creature sacrifice and the loss of one life, this can be a real pain for the opponent in the early stages of the game when mana fixing is still a priority and can be devastating for Tron players, setting them back a whole extra turn from a Karn or Ugin, a pretty huge tempo shift in that example.

What do we do when we’ve removed a key piece? A Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle perhaps, or a Death’s Shadow? We use Surgical Extraction of course! This nifty silver bullet can force the opposition straight into Plan B, likely taking them more time to become effective and sometimes just shutting them down altogether!

Want to draw the opponent’s attention away from your life total and represent more soul-crushing hand disruption? Look no further than…

Planeswalkers:

4x Liliana of the Veil

Liliana

 

Hey look, it’s everyone’s favourite necromancer, worth, quite literally, more than her own weight in gold! (cardboard doesn’t weigh much) She has fun forcing each player to discard a card, effectively suppressing your opponent when they run out of things to do, whilst letting your win conditions do their thing. She can also force the opponent to sacrifice a creature or, if the game goes long, she can even let you separate an opponent’s permanents into two piles and let you watch them agonize over which one to sacrifice… Delicious, salty tears should follow.

As with most decks we need a solid Mana Base to support these actions, so here it is:

Land:

4x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4x Mutavault
4x Concealed Courtyard
2x Godless Shrine
2x Bloodstained Mire
2x Verdant Catacombs
6x Swamps

 

Mutavault allows us to use our mana in the late game to turn it into a creature and get in for two damage a turn, a reliable, if frustrating for your opponent, way to win a war of attrition. (I mean, who wants to be on a ten turn clock?) Bloodstained Mire and Verdant Catacombs both fetch for our Swamps or Godless Shrines whilst also representing that we may are in Jund colours and hinting at Death’s Shadow, likely influencing how the opponent plays out the first few turns.

Godless Shrine and Concealed Courtyard both provide white mana which facilitates a sideboard strategy that requires us to go into a second colour.

But what ties this together nicely is Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, making everything a swamp, even the fetches, meaning they can tap for black mana and anything in our mainboard can then be cast with any configuration of other Land plus Urborg.

Lets have a look at what we bring in against some of the strategies we may face:

Sideboard:
3x Ensnaring Bridge
2x Disenchant
1x Fragmentize
2x Surgical Extraction
2x Bontu’s Last Reckoning
2x Relic of Progenitus
1x Leyline of the Void
2x Death’s Shadow

 

Disenchant and Fragmentize offer two answers to Leyline of Sanctity, letting us continue to target the opponent with our forced discard spells.

 

Bontu’s last Reckoning is excellent when facing off against Mid-Range or Go-Wide strategies, while Ensnaring Bridge helps prevent the opponent attacking. Bridge also helps as it means the opponent is unlikely to get an attack in while you wait for Land to untap after Bontu’s Last Reckoning.

 

Both Relic of Progenitus and Leyline of the Void help to insulate us against Living End and Death’s Shadow builds, partly because the opponent can’t delve for a Tasigur but also because Living End can’t remove it’s graveyard from play and dump it on the field if it doesn’t have one!

Death's Shadow

 

Last up in sideboard it’s Death’s Shadow himself, due to the deck having no creatures in the mainboard, this guy can usually come in and meet zero removal and force the opponent to board a lot of it back in, even though you might have boarded them out for game three. (Thanks Shep…) Such is the polarizing effect this can have on any game, totally changing how the opponent plays.

Referring back to my first statement, regarding always take the draw, there are exceptions to this rule. Mark found, through his performance in the main event that any decks that run Chalice of the Void can usually lock out your one mana spells on turn two, before you have much of a chance to take them from the opponent’s hand. This means that Affinity or Tron are two such matches that you would likely prefer to be going first, in order to give yourself as much of a chance as possible to take it out before it wrecks your game plan.

Mark managed to put in a solid performance with this fringe deck, running up a record of 5-4 in the main event. To put that into perspective, I only know of one other player at the whole tournament on that deck, because I played them in round six! This really did nearly come out of nowhere and steal a strong finish. I find myself wanting to have a shot myself…

That’s pretty much all I’ve got for this deck and that then marks the end of the GP Birmingham article series so I’d like to thank Alan, Matt and Mark for letting me write up their decks to provide content to you all.

I’d also like to thank yourselves for taking the time out of your lives to read this, in favour of other content out there, so thank you.

And one last thanks has to go out to the great people I met at GP Birmingham last weekend, from the staff to the judges and my opponents… You were all fantastic. Thanks especially to Jordan and Luke from Orcs Head Magic and also Holt Hauser from Murphy’s Vault in Edinburgh for always being available to have a chat, discuss game records and generally console each other when it went pear-shaped!

Catch Jordan @OrcsHeadJordan, Luke @OrcsHeadLuke and Holt @CapnPowerHaus on Twitter

Until my next scheduled Friday article, I reckon I deserve a rest! (Four articles in four days is more than I expected!)

Have a good one.

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

 

GP Birmingham Part 3: Life, Burn and Taxes

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers,

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here for you with the third of four decks taken to GP Birmingham by my playgroup. This particular deck is an exciting, new, creature-centric take on Burn which made it to a 3-6 record in the main event. It was designed completely by Matthew Tidcombe, who plays out of Abbey Video Games in Arbroath, Scotland. Let’s take a look at the list!

Creatures:

4x Seeker of the Way
4x Soulfire Grand Master
4x Boros Reckoner
4x Thunderbreak Regent
4x Monastery Swiftspear
4x Vexing Devil

 

Monastary Swiftspear is a staple one-drop in Burn and naturally makes an appearance here with eighteen mainboard spells of the non-creature variety to trigger Prowess. Following a similar theme Seeker of the Way also appears with Prowess and the additional benefit of gaining Lifelink until the end of the turn if you cast a non-creature spell, helping you to stay ahead on life total or make a trade during combat more favourable. To finish off the Khans of Tarkir complement of creatures we have Soulfire Grand Master a two-drop who already has Lifelink and a static ability that gives all of your Instant and Sorcery spells Lifelink too! This means Lightning Bolt puts six points between you and your opponents while Lightning Helix becomes a nine point swing.

Vexing Devils acts as a psuedo-burn spell, offering the opponent the opportunity to take four damage immediately, forcing you to sacrifice it, or having to trade with it later in combat or by using a removal spell, possibly taking more damage in the long-term. Boros Reckoner is excellent against any creature heavy deck or strategy involving targeted spells which deal damage as it can hit back for the same amount, but at target creature or player. Thunderbreak Regent has a similar effect, dealing Lightning Bolt damage to any player who dares to target her with a spell or ability whilst also being a 4/4 Flying threat for four mana… Pretty sweet deal I would say.

Planeswalkers:

2x Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Chandra TOD

Chandra can really help this deck live on into the late game, with her ability to create mana by adding one loyalty counter she can assist with casting your burn spells, she can also add one counter to offer card advantage by exiling the top card of your library but allowing you to cast it, but if you can’t or don’t want to cast it she will act as a repeatable shock to each opponent. Her ability to remove three counters and deal four damage to target creature can serve as solid spot removal for most mid-sized threats and if you manage to get her to seven loyalty you can remove all counters from her and deal five damage to target creature or player whenever you cast any spell for the remainder of the game! If you play red and you need to have some level of control on the game then Chandra, Torch of Defiance is for you.

Instants:

4x Lightning Bolt
4x Boros Charm
4x Lightning Helix
4x Deflecting Palm

 

Now we have four burn staples to tie the deck together. Lightning Bolt does what it’s been doing best since the dawn of Magic, dealing three damage either to a creature or to the dome. What this deck does though is make Bolt even better, allowing you to gain three life via Soulfire Grand Master turns Bolt into a cheaper Lightning Helix and even turns Helix into something much better! Boros Charm can really help push through some extra damage, make your permanents Indestructible or even give a creature Double-Strike until the end of the turn all while triggering prowess on your Swiftspears or Seekers. Last up is Deflecting Palm, useful in not just preventing lethal damage, but reversing it and since Palm is doing the damage, you still gain life from Soulfire Grand Master’s ability.

Land:

4x Sacred Foundry
4x Inspiring Vantage
5x Mountain
5x Plains

 

One thing about this deck which did concern me was the mana base, eighteen land feels like too little and to be honest I feel like the extra three or even four would have allowed this list to go a lot further in the main event. Too many times we would hear that the deck was mana screwed but this was always put down to bad luck. I’m not so convinced and if this were my own list the likely drop-out would be Thunderbreak Regent (due to no dragon synergy) for a playset of Arid Mesa, thinning the deck out slightly better and resulting in stronger opening draws. If a deck was ever made to not care about fetching then this is it, so much life can be gained in a single turn that four damage for four fetches is a complete non-issue.

Sideboard:

2x Sweltering Suns
4x Disenchant
4x Smash to Smithereens
2x Tormund’s Crypt
3x Ghostly Prison

 

In sideboard, to combat go-wide strategies, we have Sweltering Suns, which if timed right, can gain us a tonne of life courtesy of Soulfire Grand Master. Disenchant helps us to survive the Leyline of Sanctity match-ups, while Smash to Smithereens comes in as another answer to Ensnaring Bridge, removing it whilst also dealing three damage to face. Ghostly prison also helps to insulate us against Abzan Little Kids or other mid-range decks and Tormod’s Crypt removes target players Graveyard, shutting down Living End or Delve decks.

This is all I have for this deck but I would recommend that you make the adjustment to the mana base and then try it out, I feel that, from my limited Modern experience, this is fairly well suited as a deck out of left-field that can take many of the established archetypes by surprise! So let me know what you think and what you would change, is there anything in the list that I’ve missed?

Catch me on Twitter @GenericBadMtg with your feedback!

Next up tomorrow it’s a deliciously evil deck that you either love or hate… no it’s not Marmite spread on the inside of card sleeves, it’s 8-Rack!

Until then, have a good one.

Yours,

GenericBadMagic

GP Birmingham Part 2: Tron without the Sci-Fi

Hello My Fellow Planeswalkers!

Mathew from GenericBadMtg here again to bring you the second of four decks which were taken to GP Birmingham by my travelling partners and I from Arbroath. Today we have some old-school R/G Tron to look at, the list was run by Alan Butchart-Stewart to a 5-4 finish and boy was he close to reaching day two, losing out in the very last round! Lets take a look shall we?

So we all know the idea with Tron is to assemble all of the Urza Lands as early as possible (turn three please!) to ramp into huge threats like Karn or Ugin, allowing us to control the board until we find and drop a game-ending threat like World Breaker or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, but lets look at the individual pieces here to start with.

Creatures
1x Walking Ballista
2x Thought-Knot Seer
2x Wurmcoil Engine
1x World Breaker
3x Ulamog the Ceaseless Hunger

 

To start off our roster of creatures we have a single copy of Walking Ballista, essentially filling every slot in the curve, an early game chump blocker or a late game powerhouse, always offering the threat of turning himself into a machine gun and taking down an creature or chipping away at the opponents life total.

Next up, we run a two of Thought-Knot Seer, coming down and ripping a card out of the opponents hand and giving us a solid 4/4 body to hold off in those games where achieving the perfect “Tronity” (pardon the pun) is proving difficult.

Another solid inclusion in this deck are two Wurmcoil Engine, a big old 6/6 with both Deathtouch and Lifelink that, when killed, spawns two 3/3 Wurm Artifact Creature Tokens, one with Deathtouch and the other with Lifelink! It can be very hard to eradicate that kind of value for the opponent and is not always easy to come back from.

Our other “one of” creature is World Breaker, a 5/7 with Reach for seven mana that can come down and cut the opponent off at the legs, exiling a land, artifact or enchantment card. In addition to this, World Breaker can even return from your Graveyard to your hand for the cost of three mana and discarding a land of your own, talk about hard to kill!

Last up in the Tron petting zoo is the Eldrazi Titan himself, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger! A 10/10 for ten colourless mana that comes down, exiles two permanents (yes, even land), has Indestructible and even causes your opponent to exile the top twenty cards of their library when he attacks… That’s one third of the optimal starting number of cards completely gone. This is huge and as we saw in Standard before the banning of Aetherworks Marvel, a turn four, five or even six Ulamog is unbelievably difficult to come back from.

Now that the creatures are all accounted for, lets look at where we take over the game… Planeswalkers:

Planeswalkers:
4x Karn, Liberated
3x Ugin the Spirit Dragon

Our not-so-gruesome twosome here are the Tron staples of Karn and Ugin, the best Planeswalkers that colourless ramp can access. Let’s see what they have to offer:


Karn gives us the utility to force a discard into exile from the opponents hand whilst also bringing himself closer to his ultimate ability, exiling any target permanent on the board, or, when he does reach fourteen loyalty counters, restarting the entire game and giving you access to all non-aura permanents that Karn managed to exile at the start of this new game. A common trick you may find here is to exile your own Ugin to Karn before restarting the game on the next turn, making for an insane turn one advantage.

This brings us nicely on to what Ugin can do for us. By adding two loyalty counters to Ugin he can serve as a once-per-turn Lightning Bolt, you can use him as a board wipe by removing counters from him and exiling all coloured permanents with CMC lower than the number of counters removed this way. Or you can remove a set ten counters to gain seven life, draw seven cards and then put up to seven permanents from your hand on to the battlefield. This last ability is a massive life gain, a hand refill AND a hand dump, pretty great advantage and very likely to come off if you followed the “exile Ugin, restart the game” plan from before!

Other Spells:
4x Chromatic Star
4x Chromatic Sphere
4x Expedition Map
3x Oblivion Stone
4x Sylvan Scrying
4x Ancient Stirrings
1x Fog

Our other spells can be put into two categories:

Ramp:- Chromatic Sphere, Chromatic Star, Expedition Map, Sylvan Scrying and Ancient Stirrings

 

Chromatic Sphere and Star both sacrifice to add one mana of any colour to your mana pool and draw you a card, whilst Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying both let you tutor for a particular land, Helping you assemble Tron. Ancient Stirrings can either find you a Land card or a giant Eldrazi to close out the game later on.

And other: Oblivion Stone and Fog


Oblivion Stone is just a really powerful board wipe and puts real pressure on the opponent to try and close out the game whilst Fog is… well it’s Fog! No one expects it in the main board and certainly not in a Modern deck! I’m sure the guys from Mana Screwed would appreciate this addition, I mean, all I could think about when I saw this list was THAT play in Episode three.

Now for the most important factor to performance: Breakfast… wait, no, the Mana Base. (Breakfast is also important, eat your cereal)

Land:
4x Urzas Power Plant
4x Urzas Tower
4x Urzas Mine
4x Grove of the Burnwillows
1x Sea-Gate Wreckage
1x Sanctum of Ugin
1x Ghost Quarter
1x Forest


As we all know, the deck revolves largely around getting the three Urza Land out as quickly as possible because, with just a single copy of each the three of them they combine for seven mana, which can lead to a Karn on Turn three and a highly advanced boardstate which the opponent may not be able to get around.

 

In addition to our single Forest we run four Grove of the Burnwillows, a Green source for Sylvan Scrying, Ancient Stirrings and Fog, but also a Red source for Kozilek’s Return in the post sideboard games. Sea Gate Wreckage can help you by drawing a card, whilst Sanctum of Ugin provides colourless mana and can help you tutor for Ulamog after playing Karn or Ugin. Last up in the Mana Base is Ghost Quarter, which can help take out the annoying Non-Basic Lands, including the opponents Tron Land in the mirror match, offering you a small edge considering the lack of Basic Lands the deck will run.

One fun interaction over the weekend involved Grove of the Burnwillows, Alan’s opponent put down a 1/1 Death’s Shadow to apply some early pressure. Alan decides to play Grove, tap for green mana, giving the opponent one life, killing the Death’s Shadow before casting Ancient Stirrings to find more Land. A similar thing even happened in the late game as Alan floated three Green mana with three separate Groves to give the opponent three life and take their Death’s Shadow out of lethal damage range, going on to win the game.

Let’s look now to our sideboard and how we look to deal with some of the match-ups we may be presented.

Sideboard:
3x Relic of Progenitus
1x Surgical Extraction
1x Crucible of Worlds
1x Life From the Loam
3x Nature’s Claim
1x Oblivion Stone
1x Wurmcoil Engine
1x Thragtusk
1x All is Dust
2x Kozilek’s Return

EN MTGHOP Cards V3.indd

Relic of Progenitus stands up beautifully to the Death’s Shadow match-up, keeping their Graveyard in check and preventing Tasigur from coming down too early, but can also be used later on to just empty the Graveyards and draw you a card.

Surgical Extraction

Surgical Extraction works against the mirror match, where you Ghost Quarter to destroy a Tron Land, then cast Surgical, targeting that land to rip it from the game entirely, this really hampers the opponent and can give you a huge advantage going long as now only one player can possibly get Tron online! Surgical also comes in for a number of other match-ups, like Titan Shift, which was huge at the GP, removing Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle or against the Storm match-up, taking out Past In Flames.


Crucible of Worlds and Life from the Loam are both ways of making our Ghost Quarters recurring or recovering any of our Tron lands that the opponent manages to destroy.


Natures Claim takes care of any pesky Leylines or can slow down artifact-based strategies (I’m looking at you affinity), while Thragtusk helps to somewhat safeguard ourselves from Burn, gaining five life and eating up two burn spells through itself and the 3/3 Beast Token left behind if they cannot afford to take a hit and decide to kill it.


All is Dust and Kozilek’s return are just excellent silver bullets against Go-Wide strategies like Abzan Mid-Range or G/W Little Kids (or the Collected Company variants). But Kozilek’s return is just an absolute beater in this deck as it will regularly exile itself from your Graveyard when you cast Ulamog and wipe the board clean for you.

Alan ran this deck very effectively to a 5-4 finish missing out on day two to a U/W control build in round nine. He was the last of our group to still be live for progression and even with a deck like this one you have to be smart to remain in contention considering the standard of opposition available at the GP, so his performance was really quite admirable.

But that’s all I’ve really got for this list right now, catch me on Twitter @GenericBadMtg and catch Alan @TrustMe_MTG

If you have time check out our Local Game Store at http://www.facebook.com/AbbeyVideoGames and stop by if you’re ever in the area of Arbroath, Scotland.

Tomorrow I will be back with the third out of the four decks we took to the event, so stay tuned for Life-Burn and Taxes.

Until then, have a good one,

Yours,

GenericBadMtg

 

GP Birmingham Part 1: A first-Timer’s “Rich” Experience and Deck Tech

Hello, my fellow Planeswalkers!

Mathew from GenericBadMagic here to talk to you about my recent experience at GP Birmingham over the past weekend. Four of us traveled from Abbey Video Games in Arbroath to the event and so I have four decks to tell you about! In order to best present these I will do four separate articles over this weekend.

To start with, I want to thank all of the people involved in making the GP an incredible first time experience, from the wonderful vendors hailing from all over the world to the Judges enforcing the rules, everyone came together brilliantly and the end product was a true convention for the game. Special thanks must go out to the nicest guy in Magic, Mr Rich Hagon for taking the time on Friday to talk to three random Scottish guys about old-school Magic, particularly patience in the game, and sign our newly purchased tokens from Trolltrader! (Sorry about the fuzzy picture!)


Another highlight of the event was the opposition, regardless of our game-records I was always able to enjoy a pleasant chat or a miniature festival of puns throughout the rounds, even when at one point I was 0-4! So wherever you all may be, thank you for making my GP experience as great as it possible could have been.

Onwards now to the list I ran, earning a 3-6 record in the main event: Almost-Naya Burn!

Creatures:
4x Monastery Swiftspear
4x Goblin Guide
4x Eidolon of the Great Revel


Our Creature base is just the established burn triumvirate of Guide, Swiftspear and Eidolon. Basically, I hit you harder than I hit myself and hopefully I win!

Spells:
4x Searing blaze
4x Lava Spike
4x Boros Charm
4x Rift Bolt
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Lightning Helix
4x Skullcrack


Our spells include Searing blaze for those pesky creature based strategies, Boros Charm, Lava Spike and Skullcrack to go straight to the face and Lightning Bolt, Rift Bolt and Lightning Helix to offer versatility in where we direct our damage output.

Land:
3x Bloodstained Mire
4x Wooded Foothills
3x Arid Mesa
2x Stomping Ground
4x Sacred Foundry
1x Inspiring Vantage
2x Mountain
1x Plains


Our mana base has everything burn wants, all of the non-fetches, bar one Plains, are sources for red and two even provide green mana for Destructive Revelry. With five sources of white we are usually online for Boros Charm or Lightning Helix by turn two.

Sideboard:
3x Path to Exile
2x Deflecting Palm
2x Destructive Revelry
2x Searing Blood
2x Stony Silence
2x Kor Firewalker
2x Rest in Peace


The sideboard is where the strategy starts to diverge. We still want to burn face as soon as possible but we also want to be alive to do so. This means we have to consider Kor Firewalker for the mirror match, keeping us ahead on life and usually getting in for damage itself, Destructive Revelry for any game involving a Leyline of Sanctity, because we really do want to be able to target the opponent. For the Death’s Shadow games we sideboard in Path to Exile for spot removal, Defllecting Palm for that late-game Death’s Shadow attacking and Rest In Piece, to make it harder for Tasigur to come down and have an influence on the game.

As we see this is a fairly stock burn list, with Destructive Revelry to try and deal with Leyline of Sanctity. One consolation I can take from the main event is that I was at least on to the right deck! But it was not to be for me as I failed to top deck that vital Burn spell that would have defeated Titan-Shift in round one and changed the entire complexion of my match-ups for the day. But as it is I fell to a lowly record of 0-4, out of contention for day two before even winning a game. With a final record of 3-6 though, I cannot be too disappointed with my first showing at a GP where performance was secondary and the experience meant everything.

That’s all I’ve got for this deck, but we have another three of these to come in the next few days which should be a little longer! So stay tuned, next time we look at a list from Alan Butchart-Stewart (see R/W Powerwalkers) with R/G Tron!

Do yourself a favour though and check out the brilliant products you can get from Trolltrader at http://www.trolltradercards.com/ as those tokens were truly top quality.

Until next time, catch me on here or Twitter @GenericBadMtg with your feedback!

Have a good one,

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