Thursday, June 11, 2020

The best is yet to come for Magic

Every now and then someone will post on reddit worrying about the eventual demise of this great game. This is what I reply:

There are things Wizards does that annoy me (I don't care for any pack that costs more than $4, period), and I think sometimes that Wizards would be better off by itself, but that is just wishful thinking. It's easy to forget the good an umbrella company like Hasbro does for a company like Wizards. For a textbook case, look at the Force of Will TCG. FOW TCG made one dumb decision after another and there were no adults in the room. All things considered, I think Hasbro IS good for Wizards.

My perspective is a little different because I have been collecting stamps since the late 1970s (I am an old dude). The biggest threat to Magic is that my 11 year old son will not pick it up, and this is what happened to stamp collecting. I was unable to get my son into stamp collecting because none of his friends are interested. Magic, on the other hand, and Dungeons and Dragons, ARE getting picked up. Just last night my son and I did a brief round of D&D, and he has several friends his age who play the game.

I think Arena is a home run, and even MTGO can stick around for a while longer, but paper Magic will go on for a very long time. These are not ORs, these are ANDs: Arena AND MTGO AND Paper.
Wizards has a deep pool of design talent, and a really devoted player base. It ain't going nowhere. Even if the execs committed professional hara kiri, there would be a dozen well managed companies willing to take on the IP, and no, none of those companies would be stupid enough to get rid of the reserved list, as much as I would want them to.

This game has decades of success ahead of it. The company is willing to turn around on a dime when they go in the wrong direction. They brought back the core set. A poorly run company would have stuck to those dreadful two-set blocks just because of false pride. And they will reprint the fetchlands and make them cheaper, or kill Modern for Pioneer, but they will do something that, however annoying to some, will keep the game strong.

I collect Pokemon and Yugioh when Magic is going through what I think is not the best of times (did a lot of both when the core set was taken out). These days, I am 100 percent Magic. The 'all sets are large' era is so awesome. We are getting Zendikar III, possibly New Phyrexia II, possibly a Norse set... man, oh, man. I think the best for Magic is yet to come.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Deckbuilding with Companions

This is an aggregated post for builds with the ten companions from Ikoria. The builds can be constructed Standard, constructed Modern, and also Commander.

Commander Builds:

Eutropia with Keruga Companion Casual Commander Build

Lazav Mastermind with Gyruda Companion Casual Commander Build

Lazav Mastermind with Gyruda Companion Casual Commander Build

This build is somewhat more restrictive because the commander has to have an even casting cost. This is not a good deck to model on MTGO because I can't tell which one of the creatures Gyruda sends to the graveyard is associated with each Lazav trigger.

As with other ETB's, you want to be able to pop it back to your hand to give it another whirl. It's otherwise a 6 CMC 6/6 critter. The ETB is what matters for this card.

Sphinx of Foresight was in my starting hand for this modeled game.

Anticipate is very useful in this deck.

Tyrant's Scorn lets me pop Gyruda for another whirl.

I can sacrifice rats from Piper of the Swarm. Here, just as an example, I sacrificed Orzhov Enforcer to draw cards off Erebos.

Lazav becoming Atemsis is good. I can tap it and draw and discard.

Bloodsoaked Altar is also really good in this. I can sacrifice/discard for a 5/5/ Demon token. 

Forever Young lets me make use of all of the other cards that land on the graveyard via Gyruda.

I can also have Spark Double become a copy of Piper of the Swarm.

Last, but not least, Unexplained Disappearance allows me to recast Gyruda.

Eutropia with Keruga Companion Casual Commander Build

The fix has been applied to MTGO for nerfing Companions. As usual, game screenshots are from solitaire games, and the card pool is Standard-only.

Minus the Enter-the-battlefield bonus, Keruga is an otherwise unremarkable 5 drop 5/4. The key to this deck is dropping Keruga when you have lots of permanents in the same turn in which you have the mana to xast those permanents AND having cards that can bounce Keruga back to your hand. The 3+ CMC limitation is not too onerous in casual Commander.

There are several cards in Standard that make this deck shine: Nadir Kraken generates tokens turn after turn to up your permanent count. You can also use the tokens as Mutate targets, but that's a secondary bonus that decreases your permanent count. Then we have two cards to bounce Keruga for additional ETB triggers: Arrester's Admonition and Rescuer Sphinx.

Europia is perfect for Kruga. With a reasonable manbase, it can be reliably cast turn 3. I would add more enchantments when expanding the card pool out of Standard.

Farfinder is a great Mutate target plus the land drop it triggers.

Keruga requires 3 extra mana. It's a late play after the nerf.

Even though I want a high permanent count for Keruga, I am also having fun testing Mutate triggers.

Eutropia gets me a counter, and so does New Horizons. Setessan Champion nets me cards.

Keruga draws a ton!! It's a lot of late game fun!

Here I am after casting post Keruga.

An early game Nadir Kraken is a beast. If not addressed, it will get your opponent a really high permanent count for Keruga.

Here I am at the turn when I put Keruga in my hand.


Card draw from Keruga triggers a zillion tokens.

Atermis also triggers Nadir Kraken for tokens.

Brokkos Commander Casual Build

I worked on this deck a while back.

It's a graveyard-centric deck.

Because it is in Blue and Green, it's perfect for Proliferate. Anything with Mutate is best with tokens, and Amass is a great token strategy. As always, these are solitaire screenshots.

I also let some Devotion in as a secondary strategy, a nice-to-have.

Incubation Druid is great in this deck, and in general.

Here I tutor with Emergent Ultimatum.

And here are my selections.

There is a lot of extra card draw in this deck. I am not fully exploiting Flash here, and this is an avenue for improvement when the deck scope expands to the Modern and Legacy card pools.

Counter time!

Here is a full board of critters. I used these to test various combos. This would never happen in a real game.

Here I tutor again with Emergent Ultimatum. 

My choices. Guardian Project and Return of the Wildspeaker are awesome card-draw engines.

Early casting of Brokkos.

Brokkos equipped.