This entry is part 30 of 37 in the series Generally Speaking

By Imshan AKA Sinis

(Editor’s Note: I know a lot of you are expecting an article from Gibson Haynes AKA KaipaLin, but we haven’t got it for you.  We’re not sure what happened.  Please enjoy this article by yours truly, instead.)

When Magic 2013 came out, I wasn’t terribly excited, except for a few cards.  If the reported draft attendance at my local game store was any indication, no one else was excited either.  The only cards that caught my eye were Void Stalker, Omniscience, Ranger’s Path, and Odric, Master Tactician.  When I saw Odric, I knew he had real potential; in one run-on sentence, Odric gave players with a handful of creatures real options in combat.

Last week, I ran through a typical Mono White Control list with Akroma, Angel of Wrath at the helm.  The list – which admittedly has its holes, as one commenter pointed out – is of a very traditional variety.  Last week’s deck tries to gain a leg up through Wrath of God effects and ‘rules’ cards, which prevent opponents from taking certain actions until it can play Akroma and dish out the punishment.  This week, Odric, Master Tactician will take the helm in an aggressive control build.  This deck will certainly not be like Akroma’s. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 29 of 37 in the series Generally Speaking

By Imshan AKA Sinis

When Avacyn Restored came out, I ventured out into the world of playing EDH at local game stores I was unfamiliar with. Reliably, when discussing colour strengths, Red would be cited as the weakest. While Red is commonly seen as the worst of the mono-colour choices available, I believe white the weakest, for the sheer difficulty it faces drawing cards.  Red at least has a handful of Wheel of Fortune effects that can be relied upon to rejuvenate retrenched casters. White, for all its versatility in removal and other features, lacks steady and reasonable card draw, except from artifacts.

This week, I’m going to go over a mono-white deck. Moreover, it’s going to be a control deck, which are best known among the three pure archetypes – aggro, combo, and control – for the need to gain card advantage over their opponents.  Next week, I’ll write about a different kind of mono-white control deck that uses unorthodox tricks to gain card advantage and maintain control.  Will these decks win every game? Probably not, but they will run across opponent’s expectations and will surprise your friends.  So, what’s a mono-white player to do? Read on. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 28 of 37 in the series Generally Speaking

By Imshan AKA Sinis

When I was much younger, I was very interested in science.  More than anything, it was the application of science I found fascinating; science fiction writers had laid out the framework of a future barely believable, and science would make it happen.  I expected that we’d have teleporters, rayguns, and space travel, all in short order.  As I learned more about the nature of scientific inquiry, discovery and application, I became disenchanted.  I had hoped for a certain kind of magic, a kind of mad science with which enough guile, gumption and good fortune, the craziest things could be accomplished.  Science is still a wonderful thing and applications are constantly churning out wondrous new technologies, but I had an idea that is innately self-defeating, like complex explainable machinery surrounding an elusive and essential center responsible for something inexplicable.  My idea was of a science without bounds, with which actual science has no discourse.  For highly analytical people, there is no magic here.

A while ago, I wrote an article about how much I liked bad cards, bad mechanics, and generally bad Magic.  Part of this is born out of the fact that I am a bit of a Johnny at heart, and the more convoluted a pile of cards are, the more interested I am going to be.  As everyone knows, no Ravnican guild appeals more to the idea of unbounded science and Johnnies than the Izzet guild.  With all the Return to Ravnica pre-releases wrapping up last weekend, and release day coming up this Friday, it’s also open season on deck overhaul and new deck brainstorming. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 27 of 37 in the series Generally Speaking

By Imshan AKA Sinis

While reading about Commander decks on the internet, it’s easy to become lost in the sea of optimal card choices, or the phenomenon of ‘pimping’ decks with foils, altered art, or signed cards. While devotion to a diversion is not something I discourage, many players find the excesses in EDH particularly troublesome, especially when their regular playgroup will occasionally win out with sheer card quality. The fact that Commander significantly overlaps with Legacy and Vintage makes many of the cards we’d like to include in our decks extremely expensive.

In particular, powerful cards associated with Legacy like revised dual lands, Sensei’s Divining Top, Force of Will, and Vindicate all carry a heavy sticker price. Even strictly casual cards, like Death Baron and Lord of the Undead have inflated values. If Magic is just a goofy hobby to you, spending hundreds of dollars building or improving a deck might leave a bad taste in your mouth, even when you want to stay competitive with your local group or the folks at your local game store. The good news is, there are often alternatives to powerful cards that are only slightly inferior to their exorbitantly expensive counterparts. This week, we’ll take a look at expensive blue cards, and what they can be replaced with. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 26 of 37 in the series Generally Speaking

By Imshan AKA Sinis

A highly amusing feature of multiplayer games is the concept of a low-hanging fruit.  Perhaps it’s not so amusing, depending on how your last game went.  If your life total is low enough, players will eliminate you just because they can.  They’ll offer all kinds of reasons for it; they’ll tell you they didn’t want you to come back to win the game after everyone expended their resources, that they didn’t want to make an enemy that could respond in kind, or that they were sure you had a way to save yourself.  Justifications and excuses aside, the result is the same: you got too low, and people left you twisting in the wind because you were an easy mark for their Sun Titan, and suddenly you’re a figurative pinata until you fall to pieces after you leak out so much candy (the candy is also figurative).

On the other balance is lifegain, one of the most derided and underrated tactics in Commander.  And by ‘lifegain’ I don’t mean decks dedicated to lifegain as a deck strategy, which trot out Sanguine Bond as a roundabout way of dealing damage to players, or win through Felidar Sovereign or Test of Endurance.  Rather, I mean, run of the mill cards that gain life, often at card disadvantage. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 25 of 37 in the series Generally Speaking

By Imshan AKA Sinis

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I haven’t actually been playing Magic for very long.  I originally played between Revised and Alliances, catching a bit of Mirage before boxing up my cards and moving on to other things.  Back then, cards were different than they are now; playing with modern cards, new frame aside, is like playing a different game because of the complexity in rules as well as the cards themselves.  When I started playing again, I bought a lot of singles from the sets that I passed over to fill out my decks.  Innistrad block is the first group of sets that I have extensively played with since 1997.

One of the things that has changed is how each of the colours work; in the time that I did not play, each of the colours managed to get options that were previously unavailable.  Card draw found its way into green and black, and different sorts of removal became the province of different colours.  Except for red.  Red has remained as stagnant as ever, and has not improved a whit since 1997. Read the rest of this entry »