So I guess this is a buyout/price correction. If you have any copies of this card laying around that you're not using, I'd happily sell into the spike. There's just no real demand for this card to stay this high.
by RGFoxx, Gaming Successfully Contributor
I don't know about you, but I haven't seen many Magic: the Gathering players tripping over themselves to build Legacy Enchantress decks. The once very popular archetype ran four copies of Enchantress's Presence, a rare from Onslaught, in order to speed up their draws. Well, it's late May 2017, and suddenly the price has jumped from $6 to over $13 on TCGPlayer and the card has all but disappeared entirely from Amazon. What caused this strange and sudden buyout?
The last time that a deck with four copies of Enchantress's Presence topped a tournament was in March of 2017. This has been a $5-ish card for a very long time, despite how clearly good it is. So this is a price correction of sorts. Did a bunch of Magic financiers suddenly decide, hey we can afford to buy these out? Maybe. It's a good card in Commander, but there's no new Commander that's demanding this card.
So I guess this is a buyout/price correction. If you have any copies of this card laying around that you're not using, I'd happily sell into the spike. There's just no real demand for this card to stay this high.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
Crown of Flames is an Enchantment originally printed in Tempest, and later reprinted in Invasion. This one-drop Aura has two abilities, each of which costs one Red mana. One gives the Enchanted creature “firebreathing” or +1/+0 until end of turn. You can activate this ability as many times as you have mana to pay for it. The second ability allows you to pay one Red mana to return Crown of Flames to its owner’s hand. This means if the creature is going to be destroyed or otherwise removed from the field, you can save this Aura in order to use it later.
For a common Aura, especially one that was printed so many years ago, Crown of Flames is a decent card. But does it still see any play anywhere? Actually, some Anax and Cymede EDH decks play a copy. This is mostly because Anax and Cymede decks play a lot of Heroic creatures. Because Auras target the creature they are Enchanting, they trigger Heroic abilities. So it’s a pretty efficient card in that deck, since you can get it back to your hand and then target another creature.
Some Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest EDH decks have been seen to play Crown of Flames, too. Although Auras are certainly useful to Shu Yun, it’s not an optimal card choice for his deck.
Have you ever played with Crown of Flames? It’s a decent little common, even if its playability today is fairly limited to a few EDH decks.
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by Richard Rowell, Gaming Successfully Staff
Dragons of Legend 2 has lots of cool Yu-Gi-Oh cards, including the awesome Toon Kingdom, a much better version of the classic Toon World. With many players wanting to build Toon Kingdom decks, there are plenty of options to choose from when constructing your deck. Comic Hand, Mimicat, and Toon Briefcase are all cards that many Toon decks play, but there are others to consider, as well. Here are 3 Toon cards not to overlook from Dragons of Legend 2 when building your own Toon deck. While I’m not sure I’d put them in my main 40 cards, they are still worth considering.
A couple of these cards requires that you have Toon World (or Toon Kingdom, which counts as Toon World) in play when you play them. One only requires that you have a Toon monster in play (which often means you’ll have Toon World or Toon Kingdom in play anyway). Each has an effect that is definitely useful.
If you control “Toon World”: Target 1 face-up monster your opponent controls; inflict damage to your opponent equal to the ATK of that face-up monster. You can only activate 1 “Shadow Toon” per turn.
This is a very powerful spell card! With some of the more powerful Xyz and Synchro monsters out there, this spell could finish off an opponent in one shot! While not good in every match-up, this is a nice card to have in your sideboard. Having three of these in your deck may be all you need to finish off certain decks.
If you control “Toon World”: Target 1 face-up monster your opponent controls; Special Summon 1 Toon monster from your hand or deck, whose Level is less or equal to the Level/Rank of that monster, ignoring its Summoning conditions.
There are quite a few awesome things about this card. Not only do you get to Special Summon a monster, but you can get that monster from either your hand or Deck! Also, that creature’s summoning conditions are completely ignored. But the best thing about this card is that it considers either Rank or Level. So you can target your opponent’s Xyz monster as well. It’s a pretty sweet way to pull out one of your best Toon monsters in response to one of your opponent’s big threats. In some Toon deck builds, this might even be worthy of the main deck! However, it is a bit situational, as it does depend on the Ranks and Levels of creatures that your opponents play.
Target 1 Toon monster you control; it can make a second attack during each Battle Phase this turn.
With Toon monsters in particular, an extra attack is a big deal. This is because pretty much any Toon monster out there can attack your opponent directly if they control no Toons and you have Toon World in play. Getting an extra attack out of your Red-Eyes Toon Dragon or Toon Dark Magician is particularly devastating. Is this card good enough to be playing in your main deck? Maybe.
All three of these cards are definitely worth considering as you’re tweaking a Toon deck. While I’m not sure I’d be playing these right out of my main deck, they are definitely worth considering for the side-board if you’re playing at a tournament. If you’re going all out with a Toon deck and not playing staples such as Pot of Duality, Dimensional Prison, etc. then these cards are definitely worth trying out.
What do you think of these three Toon cards? Are there other Toon cards that you think are worth playing?
by RGFoxx, Gaming Successfully Contributor
Welcome to our first installment of the MTG Stock Market report, with your host, RGFoxx! Today, we have three Magic the Gathering cards that are of particular interest. Two of these price jumps are easily explained. One of our big winners, on the other hand, is a bit more of a mystery.
Our biggest winner today is a card that's been reprinted several times.
Winds of Change is a card that mostly sees play in just one Commander deck: Nekusar, the Mindrazer. Not only is this a nice way for the Nekusar player to refresh his or her hand. But it also has a nasty way of causing a good deal of damage to the Nekusar player's opponents, especially if Nekusar himself is in town.
The other versions of this card (Fourth Edition and Fifth Edition) haven't really moved, so this is just the original Legends version on the move. It's hit an all-time high price of nearly $14, although the other versions remain around $2.50. I'd invest in those versions first, even if they are white-bordered.
The other major winner today was Mistbind Clique. This is a great card in Faeries for a couple of reasons. First, it has Flash, so it's a 4/4 flyer that can come into play at instant speed. Secondly, even though you have to Champion a Faerie, you get to tap all lands target player controls. (You get the exiled Faerie back when the Clique leaves play, too, so it's not as bad of a drawback as it sounds. Unless of course it's a Bitterblossom token.) By casting this at the beginning of your opponent's turn, you can prevent your opponent from being able to do much of anything at all.
The mystery to me is why this card doubled in price over night. Is it just a random buyout? This is a very good card in Faeries, and often sees play in that deck when it pops up in Modern from time to time. Perhaps the market was thinking that $7 was too low for this card. It did see a slight bump three days ago, after all. Anyway, while I don't expect it to stay at around $14 for long, it's good for you all to know that if you have any laying around, you could cash in.
The other two price jumps today are very easily explained. Chandra, Flamecaller is excellent against what has become the "best deck" in Standard, Mono-Black Zombies. This is due to her -X ability to deal X damage to all creatures on the board.
The other two abilities are pretty good, too. Of course, Chandra isn't relevant if you can't get to cast her before the Zombie onslaught kills you... Still, she's gone from $4 to $6 in just a few days, and that's a big reason why.
The last of our winners today is Iroas, God of Victory from Commander 2016. This is what I'd like to call a "price correction" as $2 for this God was much too cheap. The original Journey into Nyx printing is still $5, so this price hike just brings it on par with previous versions.
This seems to happen quite a bit with Commander products in particular, with the newer printings lagging far behind their original printings in price for awhile. Considering how massively popular Iroas is in Commander, especially in the 99, it's a bit surprising to me that it took this long for his Commander 2016 price to stabilize.
Speaking of Commander reprints, Black Sun's Zenith is seeing a rise in price due to all the awesome -1/-1 counter stuff in Amonkhet. The Mirrodin Besieged version has seen a bump, but the Commander 2014 printing (while it's going up) is still only $2 where as the older version is almost $3.
Another card we're watching is Bontu the Glorified. He's still between $4-6 and this is a guy seeing some real Standard play. He's far too good to be in such a low price range.
What cards do you feel are currently under-valued or over-valued? We'd love to discuss them with you on the MTG Stock Report!
Originally from the days of Alara Reborn, Filigree Angel has found herself so useful in Commander that she's been reprinted in Commander decks on two separate occasions. When Filigree Angel enters the battlefield, you gain 3 life for each artifact you control, which includes itself. A 4/4 flyer that gains you, at the very least, 3 life for 8 mana doesn’t sound incredibly cost-effective.
But in Commander, 5WWU isn’t that restrictive of a casting cost. It's especially worth casting by turn 8, as well, since the life-gain that one would get from Filigree’s effect by that point will be substantial. With artifact cards like Sol Ring, Swiftfoot Boots, Lightning Greaves, Darksteel Ingot, and Sensei’s Divining Top a part of many Commander decks, you’re talking about double-digit life gains whenever this card hits the board.
Also, while a 4/4 flyer doesn’t seem impressive on the surface, there are so many pumps for artifact creatures that exist in Commander that this Angel probably will be a good deal beefier when it hits the board. Add to that we have yet another Angel for Angel lovers, and one that’s light on the wallet (they sell for only about 50 cents USD a copy.) Filigree Angel was also reprinted in one of the Commander 2013 and one of the Commander 2016 decks.
While hardly one of the best artifact creatures around, Filigree Angel has its uses, especially in an artifact deck that cares about life-gain. There are quite a few Commander decks out there that revolve around artifacts. What better way to keep yourself in the game than double-digit life gain? In particular, the popular Breya, Etherium Shaper plays Filigree Angel a lot. But if you play any artifact Commander deck in White & Blue, you should definitely consider slotting this artifact angel in somewhere.
Buy Filigree Angel and other Magic: the Gathering cards on TCGPlayer and Amazon today!
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
Card draw is good no matter how you get it in Magic the Gathering. Especially in Green, you often will need a way to refresh your hand. Over the years, Green has had some cool ways to draw cards, including cards such as Harmonize, a sorcery with a casting cost of 2GG (2 colorless, 2 Green) that drew you three cards.
In Fate Reforged, there is a card called Shamanic Revelation which costs only one more colorless mana to cast than Harmonize did, but has far more potential for some serious card draw. Plus, it even has the potential to offer life gain.
Shamanic Revelation considers how many creatures you control, including token creatures. Green based decks tend to field a great many creatures, so it's most often going to be the case that you will be drawing at least 3 or 4 cards whenever you play this card. Plus, this card also features the Ferocious mechanic, an extra effect that activates whenever you control a creature with power 4 or greater. For each creature you control with more than 4 power, you gain 4 life.
While life gain may not be considered one of the most consistent mechanics out there, we've seen in past Constructed formats how cards with built-in life gain can greatly affect a competitive format. Gaining 4 life here or there can decide games, so the second half of this card is very relevant.
In any case, this is basically a more powerful version of Harmonize. With how quickly Green mana tends to ramp mana, 5 mana isn't much of an investment for the value of the card draw and potential life gain. This card did see some Standard play as a two-of in some Devotion to Green lists, and a copy showed up in a top-performing Naya Midrange deck, as well. It’s definitely a strong card for Green decks to consider in Commander, too.
This is a great draw spell for Green decks everywhere. It's not the rarest card out there, especially with a promotional foil version and a reprint in one of the Commander 2016 decks. But it's a good investment, especially considering how much play it sees in Commander.
Buy your copies of Shamanic Revelation and other Magic: the Gathering cards from TCGPlayer or Amazon.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
Setessan Tactics is a Magic: the Gathering card from the Journey into Nyx set. It features the Strive ability, which allows you to pay additional mana in order to target multiple creatures with its effect. It's one of the better cards with this ability. This costs 1G to cast,and for each extra Green mana you add, you get to target an additional creature. Each of the target creatures get +1/+1 and gain a tap ability to fight another target creature until the end of turn. By fight, that means each creature deals damage to the other creature equal to its power.
During the Theros block, Heroic decks were very popular. The Heroic mechanic depended on spells targeting a creature to activate their Heroic abilities. Spells with Strive were particularly relevant for these decks. Most Heroic creatures already would gain a +1/+1 counter upon being targeted. So gaining an additional boost and being able to tap to fight another creature can be quite handy, as well.
It's a pretty simple combat trick, but Setessan Tactics offered a very inexpensive way to trigger Heroic while getting a good deal of value, as well. It's one of those cards that the later in the game that you cast it, the better it will usually be. The printing of this card seemed to make a good deal more Heroic creatures playable. However, Setessan Tactics never worked its way into competitive Heroic decks. It did, however, see a fair amount of Standard play in sideboards alongside a card that wasn't even from the Theros sets.
The Setessan Tactics and Hornet Nest Combo
It turned out that Setessan Tactics worked very well with a creature called Hornet Nest in a rather clever way. By allowing the Nest to be able to fight a creature, you could get a bunch of flying tokens with deathtouch. For example, say your opponent had a Stormbreath Dragon, an extremely popular creature at the time. You would be able to get 4 hornet tokens by tapping the nest to fight the dragon.
Another trick people would use involved Aspect of Hydra, a spell popular in mono-Green Devotion decks at the time. You would cast the Aspect of Hydra on the creature you intended to fight. Considering that Aspect of Hydra considers the green mana symbols in permanents you control (which would be a lot in that deck), you could end up making a ton of tokens, while assigning a token to block the creature you were trying to deal with anyway.
Alternatively, you could have it fight one of your own big creatures, giving you a bunch of tokens to attack with on the next turn. Green decks in Standard at the timehad some big creatures, including Polukranos, World Eater and later Dragonlord Atarka. While the Setessan Tactics & Hornet Nests were usually relegated to the sideboard, it definitely was a solid way for Mono-Green Devotion and Selesyna (Green & White) Aggro decks to steal a game out of nowhere.
Setessan Tactics is a great little card that probably could have seen a lot more competitive play than it did. It's actually a Modern playable card, and I'm a bit surprised that we haven't seen it more than we have.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
The Slivers in the Magic 2014 Core Set were a fairly impressive bunch. While Slivers never became a Tier One deck in Standard, they were a deck to beat for a time at Friday Night Magic events at local game stores. With Cavern of Souls around for another three months after the release of M14 and Mutavault being reprinted, there was a pretty solid deck.
There was a very important difference between these Slivers and those from the past. Unlike older Sliver cards, which affected all Sliver cards on the battlefield (possibly including even your opponent’s), these new cards affect only your Sliver cards. This means that in Sliver mirrors, if you can get the more powerful effects on the board before your opponent can, you likely have the game won. Having double striking Slivers is certainly one way to do that.
Would Bonescythe Sliver be a part of that Sliver puzzle? It was certainly possible. Having a casting cost of 3W seemed fair, especially with Manaweft Sliver from the same set giving all of your Slivers the ability to produce any color of mana. Double strike is quite relevant, as well. With how quickly Slivers can mass an attack, this could help you stage a finishing blow.
When I first took a look at this card in July of 2013, I thought that people would find a way to stick at least one copy of this card in a Sliver deck. It seemed clear to me that White wasn’t going to be a big color for Slivers, although Sentinel Sliver and Hive Stirrings were definitely playable cards. So there seemed to be room for this card to work out. Double Strike seemed too good to ignore.
Unfortunately, outside of casual Sliver decks and Commander players running the several very good Sliver Legendary Creatures, Bonescythe Sliver never saw much play. Even when the Magic 2015 Slivers made the archetype even better, Bonescythe was basically forgotten. It just didn't seem worth the deck slot for a deck that could win even without the double strike.
That being said, Bonescythe Sliver is far from worthless, still being worth over $1 and having a promo version that's worth more than twice that. It's due to the fact that Slivers are a very popular tribe in Magic. While it proved to not be an optimal play in competitive 60-card Magic, Bonescythe Sliver has become a staple in Sliver Commander decks everywhere. It's also often played as a four-of at the kitchen table, so this card definitely still has some value.
by Richard Rowell, Gaming Successfully Staff
At one time, Blackwings was one of the more powerful archetypes in Yu-Gi-Oh. But since mid-2014, a Blackwing deck has only had a strong showing at a major tournament a few times. But with the release of Assault Blackwing - Raikiri the Rain Shower in 2015, and later Chidori the Rain Sprinkling, the deck gained two new boss monsters in the form of a powerful Level 7 Synchro monster. Also, several very good Blackwing monsters have been printed between 2015 and 2017, giving the deck new tools with which to be more consistent.
Now armed with a March 2017 Top 4 Blackwing list from an Istanbul, Turkey regionals, we can bring you a 2017 Blackwing Deck Profile!
Here's the Blackwing list that put Buğra İncekara in 4th place at that Istanbul Regionals:
Main Deck (40 Cards)
2x Blackwing - Blizzard the Far North
3x Blackwing - Bora the Spear
3x Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind
3x Blackwing - Kalut the Moon Shadow
2x Blackwing - Kris the Crack of Dawn
2x Blackwing - Pinaki the Waning Moon
3x Blackwing - Shura the Blue Flame
2x Blackwing - Sirocco the Dawn
1x Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite
2x Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
2x Maxx “C”
3x Allure of Darkness
3x Black Whirlwind
1x Instant Fusion
1x Mind Control
1x Mystical Space Typhoon
1x Black Sonic
3x Icarus Attack
1x Solemn Warning
1x Vanity’s Emptiness
The Blackwing main deck is still very similar to the classic decks that placed among the Top 8 finishers in major tournaments for years. Along with new Synchro monsters, there are a couple of other main deck monster additions, Kris the Crack of Dawn and Pinaki the Waning Moon. These monsters from Premium Gold: Return of the Bling have effects that definitely deserve attention.
Kris is a level 4 Blackwing with 1900 ATK that has the ability to be special summoned if you control another Blackwing monster other than another Kris. It also has the distinguishing ability to be unable to be destroyed by spell or trap cards once per turn.
Pinaki is a newer level 3 tuner that can only be used for the Synchro Summon of only Blackwing monsters. Despite this drawback, his usefulness lies in being able to get any one Blackwing monster to your hand at the end of a turn anytime he is sent from the field to the graveyard.
The rest of the deck is pretty much what you would expect from a classic Blackwing deck. Two copies of Blizzard the Far North helps you to set up Synchro Summons - a third copy ends up usually being extraneous. There are three copies of Gale the Whirlwind, and this guy was once limited to a single copy because of how he once overran the Yu-Gi-Oh metagame. Three copies of Kalut the Moon Shadow ensure that your Blackwings will win almost any combat as long as you have at least one copy in hand. They also ensure a swift victory on offense.
Shura the Blue Flame is one of the best Blackwings in the deck. Whenever he destroys a monster in battle, he gets to special summon a Blackwing monster with 1500 or less ATK from the deck. While the effect is negated, the primary purpose is to summon a creature for purposes of getting a Synchro monster onto the board.
Bora the Spear is simple, and is easily Special Summoned as soon as you control another Blackwing. He also inflicts piercing battle damage on creatures in defense mode, something that makes a lot of difference with Kalut’s ability. He's been a mainstay of the deck from the very beginning.
Lastly, for the Blackwings, we have Zepyhros the Elite. His once per game ability allows you to bounce a creature back to your hand to Special Summon him from the graveyard. Not only does this help with Synchro or Xyz summons, but it allows you to reuse the ability of Gale the Whirlwind. It also allows you to "scoop up" a copy of Kalut that was summoned with Blizzard or Shura.
One major difference from past Blackwing decks is that the deck now plays two copies of Maxx “C” in the main deck, rather than in the sideboard. This has always been a powerful card. You can discard this monster from your hand, and during that turn, you draw a card each time your opponent Special Summons a monster. This is great because it can either deter your opponent from summoning a bunch of monsters in a turn or draw you useful cards.
The other major addition to this Blackwing deck is two copies of Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit. This card has seen a lot of play in top decks since its release. Just read this effect:
During either player's turn, when a monster on the field activates its effect, or when a Spell/Trap Card that is already face-up on the field activates its effect: You can send this card from your hand or field to the Graveyard; destroy that card on the field. You can only use this effect of "Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit" once per turn.
This card can be a blowout in the right situation, killing off one of your opponent’s most important creatures or spell/trap cards. On top of that, they’re a Psychic Tuner, meaning you can Synchro summon with him, too! And 1800 DEF on a level 3 monster isn’t shabby, either!
Onto the Spell and Trap cards!
What has made Blackwings such a consistent deck in the past is the existence of the continuous Spell Card, Black Whirlwind. This card was so powerful that it was restricted to one copy in decks for a very long time. But it has been at 3 copies for quite some time now. However, as Blackwings have had trouble keeping up with newer archetypes, it seemed fair to unlimit this key card to give Blackwings a fighting chance. It’s definitely done just that!
Getting to tutor up any Blackwing with less ATK points than the one you just normal summoned is excellent. Having two or three on board at the same time is absolutely ridiculous - which is why it was limited in the first place. But now you once again have the full three copies.
Black Sonic is a great Blackwing card from Dragons of Legend that only now is seeing top level play. It’s basically a twist on the classic Mirror Force, except better. When one of your Blackwings is chosen as an attack target, you can activate this trap card and banish all of your opponent’s Attack Position monsters! If you have 3 or more Blackwings in play, you can activate it from your hand! Talk about a dirty trick!
Allure of Darkness is a useful draw card, but it requires you to banish a DARK monster from your hand in exchange for two cards. Still, since you can play three copies, it’s well worth trading a monster for 2 more cards.
There’s one copy of Instant Fusion for literally one purpose, to be able to summon the Extra Deck’s one copy of Elder Entity Norden! While the Elder Entity won’t be able to attack and it would be destroyed at the end of the turn, this isn’t usually going to matter. You’re typically just going to use him for Synchro or XYZ summon fodder anyway. But it’s the Elder Entity’s ability that really matters here:
When this card is Special Summoned: You can target 1 Level 4 or lower monster in your Graveyard; Special Summon it, but its effects are negated, also banish it when this card leaves the field.
So right away, you can get two monsters for the price of one! Paying 1000 LP for the Instant Fusion is well worth this investment!
Mind Control is an awesome Yu-Gi-Oh card that was banned in tournament play for a long time. It allows you to steal an opponent’s monster until the end of the turn, but it can’t attack or be Tributed. Neither of these drawbacks matter, because you’re going to just use that monster as Synchro Summon or Xyz Summon material anyway! It is just awesome that this card is playable in tournaments again!
Icarus Attack has been around for a long time and it still does the job. You basically trade 1 of your Winged Beasts for 2 of your opponent's cards.
Vanity’s Emptiness used to be a one-of in Blackwing sideboards, but the most recent iteration of the deck has a copy in the main deck. This Continuous Trap card goes all the way back to Starstrike Blast. Its effect seems counter-intuitive to the deck, as it prevents either player from Special Summoning monsters. However, if a card is sent from your deck or field to the Graveyard, you destroy this trap card. It’s useful for slowing down an opponent while you build up the necessary monsters to build up a lethal attack!
Staples such as Mystical Space Typhoon, Raigeki, and Solemn Warning round out the deck.
(Note: Some players may prefer to run the trap card Delta Crow - Anti Reverse in one of the deck’s spell and trap slots. This Blackwing only card allows you to destroy all of your opponents' spell and trap cards by controlling just one Blackwing. If you control 3 or more, you get to activate it from your hand. Pretty cool card!)
Extra Deck (15 Cards)
1x Abyss Dweller
1x Ally of Justice Catastor
1x Assault Blackwing - Chidori the Rain Sprinkling
1x Assault Blackwing - Raikiri the Rain Shower
1x Blackwing - Armor Master
1x Blackwing - Nothung the Starlight
1x Blackwing Tamer - Obsidian Hawk Joe
1x Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1x Clear Wing Synchro Dragon
1x Crimson Blader
1x Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon
1x Elder Entity Norden
1x Goyo Guardian
1x Number 11: Big Eye
1x Number 101: Silent Honor ARK
The Extra Deck is fairly similar to that of many other current Yu-Gi-Oh decks, except for a couple of major differences. Raikiri the Rain Shower is definitely a strong Blackwing monster and one of the more powerful Blackwing Synchro monsters ever created. It can wipe out your opponent's side of the field in a hurry. Once per turn, Raikiri lets you destroy up to as many cards as you control other Blackwing monsters. Being able to become a Tuner is pretty much gravy.
Like Raikiri, Chidori the Rain Sprinkling is a Level 7 Synchro Monster. Also like Raikiri, he can also become a Tuner monster, if a Blackwing monster was used as Synchro Material in his summoning. He also gains 300 ATK points for each Blackwing monster in your graveyard, and he starts with 2600 ATK. Also, when he’s destroyed, you can get a Winged Beast-type Synchro Monster in your graveyard other than Chidori, and special summon it. Sweet stuff.
Taking the spot that Armed Wing once occupied in the Extra Deck, Nothung the Starlight from Premium Gold: Return of the Bling actually does some pretty cool things. Not only does he deal 800 damage to your opponent upon being summoned, but he also causes one of your opponent’s monsters to lose 800 ATK and DEF! Also, when he’s face-up on the field, you get to Normal Summon an additional Blackwing monster each turn! This is another huge addition for Blackwings since 2015, and not sure how other players have overlooked him!
While not technically a Blackwing (he’s a Warrior), Blackwing Tamer - Obsidian Hawk Joe, also from Return of the Bling, is definitely a nice addition to the Blackwing Extra Deck. Interestingly enough, you still need a Blackwing tuner to summon him. Here’s what he does:
You can target 1 Level 5 or higher Winged Beast-Type monster in your Graveyard; Special Summon it. During either player's turn, when your opponent activates a card or effect that targets only this card, or when your opponent targets this card for an attack: You can target 1 other "Blackwing" monster you control that would be an appropriate target; that card/effect/attack now targets the new target. You can only use each effect of "Blackwing Tamer - Obsidian Hawk Joe" once per turn.
That’s a lot of text. Basically, once per turn, you can just get back one of your Winged Beast-type Synchro monsters into play (there aren’t any other Level 5 or higher Winged Beasts in this deck). If that wasn’t good enough, once per turn, you get to change an opponent’s attack target to another Blackwing you control. Wow.
The rest of the Extra Deck should be self-explanatory, as most of them have been played in top-level play for years.
While Blackwings didn’t Top 8 any major tournaments in 2016, they have the tools to at least be competitive once again in 2017 and beyond. With this list that finished in the top 4, there is definitely hope for that! Being my favorite archetype from my old playing days, it would be fun to see a Blackwing list like this make some waves.
It may not be the fun "troll" deck that Toon Kingdom allows you to build, but Blackwings have the ability to pull out some very quick wins. It seems that Blackwings may once again have a chance to pull out more upset tournament victories in the future, especially on the local game store level!
An EDH / Commander Deck for Only $1 on Magic Online!? SaffronOlive's Isperia the Inscrutible Sphinx Tribal Deck
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
I happened to be browsing MTGGoldfish for some budget Commander decklists, and came across this Isperia the Inscrutible Sphinx Tribal Commander deck brewed by none other than the legendary SaffronOlive! I don’t recall when this deck was played, whether it was on the Commander Clash video series, or at some other point. But whenever it was played, this deck costs less than 1 event ticket to build on Magic Online! (It costs about $30 to build in paper, which is still mega cheap!)
If you ever wanted to play Sphinx Tribal, this is a nice cheap way to do so! I’d love to see this played on camera, so hopefully I can track down the video.
But in case you’re interested in building an extremely cheap but fun tribal deck, here is the decklist!
1 Hypnotic Siren
1 Stratus Dancer
1 Argent Sphinx
1 Conundrum Sphinx
1 Dungeon Geists
1 Thunderclap Wyvern
1 Archon of Redemption
1 Guardian of Tazeem
1 Jwar Isle Avenger
1 Master of Predicaments
1 Prognostic Sphinx
1 Serra Sphinx
1 Sphinx of Lost Truths
1 Arbiter of the Ideal
1 Cerulean Sphinx
1 Draining Whelk
1 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
1 Sphinx of the Chimes
1 Sunblast Angel
1 Thousand Winds
1 Uyo, Silent Prophet
1 Alhammarret, High Arbiter
1 Diluvian Primordial
1 Emeria Shepherd
1 Goliath Sphinx
1 Resolute Archangel
1 Sphinx of Uthuun
1 Curse of the Swine
1 Compulsive Research
1 Crib Swap
1 Insidious Will
1 Plea for Power
1 End Hostilities
1 Jace's Ingenuity
1 Planar Outburst
1 Traumatic Visions
1 Winds of Rath
1 Phyrexian Rebirth
1 Planar Cleansing
1 Recurring Insight
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Brittle Effigy
1 Corrupted Grafstone
1 Azorius Cluestone
1 Azorius Keyrune
1 Magnifying Glass
1 Ojutai Monument
1 Seer's Lantern
1 Spectral Searchlight
1 Isolation Zone
1 Gravitational Shift
1 Azorius Guildgate
1 Blighted Cataract
1 Calciform Pools
1 Coastal Tower
1 Meandering River
1 Moorland Haunt
1 Tranquil Cove
1 Transguild Promenade
1 Vivid Creek
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Warped Landscape
If anyone would like me to do an in-depth deck tech on this deck, I’d be happy to do so. Just let me know. Until then, enjoy this extremely cheap EDH list!
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
At one time, Wizards of the Coast released two Event Decks with the release of each set. Event Decks were great value items for some time and were fantastic for newer players getting into the competitive game! The only trouble was that one of the Event Decks was always strictly worse than the other, at least in terms of value. Then, oftentimes, the more "valuable" event deck would have cards that “rotated” out of Standard just months after the deck's release.
But with the release of the Dragon’s Maze set, Wizards of the Coast decided to only do one Event Deck per set. The Dragon's Maze Event Deck had decent value in it, with three copies of the useful Lingering Souls, two copies of the popular Enchantment Rancor, Commander favorite Parallel Lives and Godless Shrine. Now that there was only one, all the value could go into one deck.
For the Magic 2014 Core Set, the Event Deck was entitled “Rush of the Wild.” Not only did it provide the building blocks for a competitive Red/Green “Gruul” Aggro deck, but it had zero cards that rotated out of Standard in October 2013. This was very useful for newer players who were just getting into Standard at the time. With this deck, if you paid $20 or less for it, you basically made your money right back.
Let’s take a look at the creature line-up.
2 Burning-Tree Emissary
1 Deadbridge Goliath
2 Dryad Militant
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
2 Kalonian Tusker
1 Ogre Battledriver
1 Pyrewild Shaman
2 Rakdos Cackler
1 Rubblebelt Raiders
2 Skarrg Guildmage
1 Wild Beastmaster
1 Wrecking Ogre
Right off the bat, we have six rares! Also, back in 2013, Burning-Tree Emissary was a money uncommon. It’s still a good card now. Dryad Militant wasn’t money, but it’s a fantastic and playable uncommon in a wide variety of decks, and still sees play in the Modern format. Elvish Mystic is a functional reprint of Llanowar Elves, and a full playset has always been welcome to see. Ghor-Clan Rampager is another uncommon that sees Modern play, as well, and was a “money” uncommon when this deck release. There’s a full playset of them in here.
Other notable uncommons are Rakdos Cackler, Slaughterhorn, and Kalonian Tusker. Cackler and Slaughterhorn don’t really see play anymore. But Kalonian Tusker does still see play in Mono-Green Devotion decks in Modern.
We haven’t even discussed the rares yet. Frankly, they’re not at all big money cards, but worth a look. Deadbridge Goliath is a 5/5 for 2GG, which is in itself good value. Its Scavenge ability, while expensive, is also quite useful considering that you have some sweet combos with it within this pre-con. Wild Beastmaster is a very nice aggro card, and while she is fragile on her own, she can do a lot of damage if she’s big enough. She was a 3-of in top-tier mono-green decks, and was still considered a “bulk rare.” Plus, she is a great target for Deadbridge Goliath’s Scavenge ability; give the counters to Wild Beastmaster and swing out with a +6/+6 bonus to all of your creatures!
Rubblebelt Raiders is a card that I always liked, but it hasn’t seen play because it’s a 4-drop, and there’s a card called Hellrider that was strictly better than it in Standard. But Raiders is a card that can get scary in a hurry, especially if you have the ability to give it haste with a card like Ogre Battledriver.
Speaking of Ogre Battledriver, while we’re on the subject, he is a card that I've always felt was underrated. However, he himself not having haste really dissuaded aggro deck-builders from wanting to play him. Still, having the ability to give any other creature that hits the board gets +2/+0 and haste until end of turn is pretty significant. Wizards of the Coast seemed to include him in every Event Deck that they could for awhile, but he just never really caught on in Standard.
Meanwhile, Pyrewild Shaman and Wrecking Ogre are okay Bloodrush creatures that are great for casual and Limited play, but not really the best options for competitive play. (Although both creatures are playable in Commander.)
Next we’ll look at the non-creature spells:
1 Armed // Dangerous
1 Clan Defiance
2 Flames of the Firebrand
1 Gruul Charm
1 Mizzium Mortars
Armed and Dangerous is a nice little Fuse card, especially considering that the two halves can target different creatures. You can give your best attacker +1/+1 and double strike and make your opponent’s army block an Elvish Mystic for the LOLz. Mizzium Mortars is a fantastic burn spell, even if it’s sorcery speed, mainly because it does four damage for only one and a Red. Plus, Mortars has a sweet overload ability that can murder an opponent’s board.
Gruul Charm is a nice little utility charm, even if not the best of them. One of its options makes me scratch my head: gain control of all cards you own? Huh? But the other two are nice. Deal 3 damage to all flyers and make no ground forces able to block for a turn. Pretty solid card, honestly.
This is then where I get sad. Flames of the Firebrand and Shock are the best burn removal this deck has to offer. Anyway, Flames of the Firebrand, despite costing 2R, can ping up to three things, which against the right board state, is pretty devastating. Shock is only 2 damage, which doesn’t kill a lot of the things you would need to kill with it. So this is one of the places the deck can very cheaply be upgraded. Fortunately, Theros would bring back Magma Jet and also provided us with Lightning Strike that were easy replacements if you wanted to upgrade this deck right away.
Lastly, I would like to make an honorable mention for a rare that I particularly loved at the time,
Clan Defiance. It didn’t get much love because a sorcery speed burn card doesn’t really fit into an aggro deck. However, it can kill three things! The best part is, you can do just one or two of those things. In the right situation, this card can kill two of your opponent’s best creatures, AND hit them in the face! I’d play one or two of these just to win out of nowhere. It’s a very underrated card, but it's really only ever seen play in Commander, where it's actually super powerful.
Now the mana base:
4 Gruul Guildgate
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Stomping Ground
OK, Guildgates are neat, but in aggro they are not exactly what you're looking for. Temple of Abandon from Theros, even though it comes into play tapped, at least gives you the Scry 1. The Stomping Ground is awesome value, though. This was a nice way for players to get this highly sought after land for Modern. Rogue’s Passage is also neat tech to slip one of your double striking big guys in for the kill.
2 Act of Treason
3 Annihilating Fire
2 Gruul Charm
1 Savage Summoning
The sideboard is solid, if not incredibly inspiring. The Skullcracks are obviously amazing against life-gain effects, and are pretty valuable uncommons nowadays. Annihilating Fire is extra removal. Naturalize is, well, Naturalize. Enlarge is not as good as Overrun, but played on Wild Beastmaster is pretty fun. The extra Gruul Charms may come in handy, as well, and Act of Treason can steal your opponent’s best creature to use against them in an alpha strike.
The most interesting card here is Savage Summoning, a card that received tons of hype upon its release, but has only seen some fringe play since. Still, it has a nice effect that can be useful in control match-ups. Also, flashing in a Wild Beastmaster on their turn is always useful. Flashing in, anybody, really, and it is a nice little trick… But yeah, it’s best against control decks, not really much else.
Overall, if you’re were just looking for a shell for a red/green aggro deck, or you were a newer player, it’s best to just hold onto the stuff. Even at the time, the Stomping Ground made your money back, and all of the other cards were just a bonus. At the time, this was one of the best value Event Decks Wizards has printed since Verdant Catacombs was in the Vampire Onslaught Deck!
This is a playable deck out of the box, but better if you buy a second copy to supplement the existing Dryad Militants, Burning-Tree Emissary, and additional copies of Wild Beastmaster, Ogre Battledriver, and of course, Stomping Ground.
Even now, you can find copies of the Rush of the Wild Event Deck for under $15! It's still worth buying simply for the Stomping Ground and value uncommons. It's one of the best value Event Decks around, without a doubt, and it’s still fun to play at the kitchen table!
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
The Magic Origins “flip walker” experiment has proven to be a success. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, in particular, succeeded the expectations of many. Nissa, Vastwood Seer saw plenty of Standard play. Liliana, Heretical Healer would become a decent mid-range card, and extremely popular among the casual crowd. Kytheon would work his way into Standard competitively. Even Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh burned some folks in Standard. In Commander, they've all proved worthy of attention.
Previously, we took a look at the Commander 2014 planeswalkers specifically designed to be your Commander. We found them to overall be better than your average legendary creatures, which is to be expected. These flip walkers blend the two card types in some interesting ways. You have to build around them to ignite their spark, then compliment their ascended abilities, as well.
How has the EDH / Commander community risen to the challenge? Let's find out.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy / Jace, Telepath Unbound
Commander of 175+ decks (EDHREC)
In the 99: Seen in about 2400+ decks. Top Commanders include Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Atraxa, Praetor's Voice, Mizzix of the Izmagnus, and Teferi, Temporal Archmage
It may seem strange to say, but Vryn’s Prodigy made Jace tribal a thing. That was the approach to building his deck, at first. It really does seem to make sense to jam any card with his name on it or any card having to do with him in a deck and run with it.
In Commander, the "looter" (draw a card, discard a card) ability on a 0/2 simply isn't that exciting. Even when you do flip him, the flashback ability is not what you'll be trying to do. You'll be looking to tick him up to his ultimate and work to mill everyone to death. There are a lot better ways to do it in Commander. You could obviously use his flashback ability on extra turn spells to help you “get there.” The trick is getting more than one activation out of him and there are plenty of other ways in blue to recycle spells.
I'll go out on a limb and say his flip side, Telepath Unbound, is just a lot better in 60-card Constructed. Being such a hot card in tournament play, though, probably kept most Commander players from acquiring him at first. This Jace could prove useful in more than a few decks that actually like the looting such as Sultai (green/black/blue) and are happy to get the flashback for some big spells.
Some blue/black and Sultai decks also don't mind getting the emblem to get some fuel for reanimator spells. Simply put, I’m not sold on him as a Commander, but he's shown up in the 99 of more than a few strong commanders.
Grade: B- (he's not bad), In the 99: B (definitely a useful complementary piece on both sides)
Kytheon, Hero of Akros / Gideon, Battle-Forged
Commander of 90+ decks
In the 99: Seen in 900+ decks. Top Commanders include Odric, Lunarch Marshal, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, Iroas, God of Victory, Captain Sisay, and Tajic, Blade of the Legion.
Kytheon is an interesting case where as a Gideon planeswalker he's a bit awkward. He's extremely easy to flip in Commander, but not remaining a creature makes it difficult for him to keep bashing in for considerable damage. Oddly enough, however, Gideon Battle Forged as a creature can still deal Commander damage when he becomes a creature with his ability. This is both good and bad. It means he's a huge target at the table, but he can also dodge a lot of creature removal.
Being so unique, I'm not surprised he hasn't been tried more as a Commander. The original Gideon Jura may be better overall in some ways, but the ability to be the first one drop planeswalker in Magic history makes Kytheon highly playable in any mono-white or Boros (red/white) aggro strategy.
Grade: B (Commander), B+ (In the 99). He’s a one-drop planeswalker for crying out loud!
Liliana, Heretical Healer / Liliana, Defiant Necromancer
Commander in 300+ decks
In the 99: Seen in 3200+ decks. Key contributor in Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Notable appearances in Gisa and Geralf Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Grimgrin, Corpse-Born and Karador, Ghost Chieftain
Liliana’s popularity shouldn't be too much of a surprise as her flip side embodies Liliana’s two favorite things, discarding and reanimating. The optimal Liliana brew probably hasn't been found yet, but stocking up on value creatures and ways for you to benefit from opponent's discards is a nice place to start. Mono black is so flooded with strong Commander options that it's no surprise that major innovations taking place around the Heretical Healer haven't yet taken place.
That being said she's easy enough to get online in Commander, so you can get some solid value from her. Just being able to build a Commander deck around one of the most popular planeswalkers of all time is pretty sweet. After her rotation from Standard, she has found consistent homes in the 99 of Commanders who most value her contributions.
Grade: B (Commander), B+ (In the 99). Mono black is flooded with Commander options, but she should prove to be a good one long term.
Nissa, Vastwood Seer / Nissa, Sage Animist
Commander of 180+ decks
In the 99: Seen in 3700+ decks. Key contributor in Omnath, Locus of Rage. Honorable mentions in The Gitrog Monster, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Atraxa, Praetor's Voice, Karametra God of Harvests, Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Titania, Captain Sisay, Omnath, Locus of Mana, and others.
Landfall is a pretty big deal when it comes to Nissa. A slightly worse Borderland Ranger doesn't seem worthy of Commander status. But a free Forest never hurt anyone. However, when you hit your seventh land her flip side is enough to get her going. She's already done a good deal of work in competitive Abzan.
Sort of like her C14 counterpart Freyalise, she can do a lot for a variety of decks. Her plus ability gives you real card advantage and the ultimate can help to set up a pretty good endgame. She affects the board more than Freyalise so I see her having staying power as a Commander.
As a contributor in the 99, she's found her way in a wide variety of decks, especially ones that can take advantage of her as a Planeswalker with use of Doubling Season.
Grade: B+ (Commander), B (In the 99). You just have to hold her back until you’re ready to flip her.
Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh / Chandra, Roaring Flame
Commander of 180+ decks
In the 99: Seen 580+ times. Honorable mention in Rakdos, Lord of Riots
Did you see this coming? It turns out Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh is the real deal in Commander. It's a shame that her planeswalker side doesn't deal Commander damage, but with the amount of burn you can realistically throw around that doesn't matter. The emblem wins games. It's actually quite easy to build around her.
As one of the 99, she is pretty much only useful if you need to ping things, making her really good friends with Rakdos, Lord of Riots. This gal is so good in multiplayer that it's a bit scary. She would be far from the first card to be better with more players, but she's as good as she is as a commander due to how her effects play up.
Grade: A (Commander), C (In the 99). Build a deck around pumping your burn spells, copying them, and flipping Chandra and you have a chance at burning everyone at the table.
In the early going, Chandra would be the best commander of the Magic Origins bunch. But has time has passed, Liliana has become the most popular, which isn't very surprising considering how easy she is to flip in Commander. In the 99, Nissa, Vastwood Seer is a worse Borderland Ranger who can turn into a decent Planeswalker. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy has shown up all over the format as the member of the 99. Interestingly, Kytheon hasn't been adopted by as many Commander players as I would've thought, and I think he's still under-appreciated in the format.
Which is your favorite flip-walker? Who do you think is the best in the Commander format long-term?
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
Deflecting Palm is an instant from Khans of Tarkir with an effect in the vein of Reverse Damage and Divine Deflection. But Reverse Damage gained you life instead of dealing damage, and Divine Deflection required a mana investment of X - making it very inconsistent and usually rather inefficient as a sideboard card.
With all of the damage that some decks can dole out, Deflecting Palm can serve as a valuable secret weapon. As good as this card can be, though, it never took off in Standard as a regular sideboard card. While it seems like it would be good against the monster that Atarka Red became in Standard, it was considered too narrow to keep in the board.
Despite missing its chance to make an impact in Standard, Deflecting Palm is definitely useful enough to hold onto. In fact, Deflecting Palm is a one or two-of in most Modern Naya Burn and Boros Burn sideboards. It’s good in a lot of match-ups, and even in those that it ordinarily isn’t, two or three points of damage swung the other way can mean the difference between a loss and a out-of-nowhere victory.
Why is Deflecting Palm Good in Modern?
One of the main reasons Deflecting Palm is a one-of in many Modern sideboards is that it helps Burn decks find the last few points of damage that can sometimes be elusive. What matchups is it best against?
The coolest thing about Deflecting Palm is that it does not actually target a source of damage. This means it can get around hexproof, such as creatures targeted by Vines of Vastwood. It also means that a deck like Bogles which lives on hexproof creatures such as Gladecover Scout and Slippery Bogle isn’t protected from Deflecting Palm. So this is a perfect counter to a pumped up Bogle, too. It also can’t be stopped by the popular Spellskite, since Deflecting Palm never targets.
Another matchup that comes to mind is Infect. Even though the damage is no longer infect once Deflecting Palm redirects it, all you have to do is wait until your opponent uses a great many pump spells on one creature in a bid for the win. It’s usually going to be in the neighborhood of 10 damage you’re throwing back at your opponent’s face. If you’re playing a Burn deck, that’s usually going to be enough to win the game outright. Infect likes to win quick. Even if Deflecting Palm doesn’t win the game right there and then, it’s made the Infect player expend enough resources that they may not be able to reload before the rest of your burn spells finish them off.
Another great use for Deflecting Palm is against the massive Eldrazi. Even Emrakul, the Aeons Torn can’t stop 15 damage from being redirected to its controller’s face, even with protection from colored spells. You’re only choosing a source of damage - not actually targeting the creature. If you play Deflecting Palm in response to Emrakul’s annihilator trigger, it’s usually good game for you - as 15 damage is a lot for any opponent to take. Against a Kozilek or Ulamog, it’s pretty much a win for you, too.
Because it doesn’t target, any protection that a creature might have from colored spells doesn’t matter. This includes popular creatures like Etched Champion in Affinity. It’s also to good to have in the deck in case you’re going up against a huge Arcbound Ravager, so playing against Affinity is a good time to bring it in.
Also, Deflecting Palm nerfs opposing creatures with lifelink. Because the damage becomes prevented first, the lifelink no longer applies when the damage is then re-dealt by the effect of the Palm. It’s really good in the corner cases where you may be staring down a Serra Ascendant or massive Bogle with Daybreak Coronet attached. Also, if you have a Soulfire Grand Master in play, you benefit from getting the lifelink from any damage it causes.
What’s Deflecting Palm NOT So Good Against?
People will ask if Deflecting Palm is good against cards like Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle or Grapeshot on a regular basis. The way that Deflecting Palm is worded, it only affects the next time a source of your choice would deal damage. Because Valakut has so many triggers and Grapeshot has Storm (meaning you actually copy the spell) you only get to stop one instance of damage.
That being said, Deflecting Palm can be good against Scapeshift if your opponent wouldn’t have enough triggers to win the game if you can prevent 3 of the damage. Similarly against Grapeshot and Storm decks, you can stop 1 of the damage. Sometimes your opponent will have just enough for “exact-sies.” You can really ruin someone’s day by dropping this on them. Is it the best card to side in against Scapeshift and Storm? Probably not.
Another common question is if Deflecting Palm is good against Lightning Storm, a win condition of the Ad Nauseam Combo deck. In a vacuum, yes, Deflecting Palm would throw the Lightning Storm right back at your opponent. But Angel’s Grace can put that down in a hurry. Still, the alternate way to go below 0 life, Phyrexian Unlife, would likely turn a lot of that damage into infect. So it’s not the worst card to have in reserve against that deck, especially if you’re sure Lightning Storm is their win condition.
Another thing that Deflecting Palm isn’t so good against is double strike - something that Boros Charm gives creatures all the time in Modern. It only stops one half of the damage, whether it’s the first strike or regular damage. Speaking of Boros Charm, Deflecting Palm is pretty good against that card’s 4 damage to the face mode - but you need to watch for Skullcrack, which is an extremely popular card in Modern, especially in Burn mirror matches.
Future Value of Deflecting Palm
With the bannings of Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom in Modern, two of the decks that Deflecting Palm wasn’t too good against are no longer in play. Deflecting Palm was useless against the essentially infinite number of Deceiver Exarch tokens with haste that Splinter Twin could make. Amulet Bloom decks had Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion to give Primeval Titan double strike, and Pact of Negation usually stopped it in its tracks The decks that have replaced Bloom are either Scapeshift or Red/Green decks that use Kessig Wolf Run’s pump ability to win the game with the Titan. Deflecting Palm has no problem throwing Wolf Run’s damage back.
Even before the bannings and major metagame shifts, Deflecting Palm had a 5x foil multiplier when it comes to price - with non-foils at about 50 cents vs $2.50 for foils. Modern sideboard cards have a funny way of driving up foil prices. Naya Burn and similar decks are so popular that even one or two foil copies coming off the market still goes a long way in price growth. By May of 2017, non-foil Deflecting Palm is around $1.50 and foils are pushing $6 as they begin to disappear from the internet.
While I wouldn't recommend hoarding every Deflecting Palm you can find, keeping a few in your collection is a good move. While it’s not good against every deck, if you’re already throwing a lot of burn spells around, you never know when you might need those last few points of damage to win the game.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
With the release of Amonkhet, many Magic: the Gathering players were excited about the number of “-1/-1 counters matters” cards in the set. This caused a chain reaction of cards centered around the -1/-1 counter mechanic being bought out all over the internet. Most notably, this includes cards from the Shadowmoor and Eventide sets, such as Dusk Urchins and Crumbling Ashes.
But one card that hasn’t shown significant growth is perhaps one of the best cards in the Shadowmoor/Eventide block -1/-1 counter strategy. That card is a creature known as Necroskitter. This 3-mana 1 / 4 creature may look unassuming at first. Even while he deals damage to creatures as -1/-1 counters, this doesn’t seem too exciting. The key to Necroskitter’s power is his second ability:
Whenever a creature an opponent controls with a -1/-1 counter on it is put into a graveyard, you may return that card to play under your control.
This is a particularly powerful effect. Wither was a pretty powerful mechanic back in the day. Nowadays, creatures with the Infect mechanic also offer the ability to deal combat damage in the form of -1/-1 counters. So it’s actually a bit of a surprise that Necroskitter doesn’t see much play now… or does he?
Before being reprinted in Modern Masters 2015, Necroskitter was a $5 card, mainly due to casual interest and Commander play. After the reprint, the price dove, hitting an all-time low of under $2 in March of 2017. The Modern Masters reprint version was less than a dollar for a long time, before seeing an uptick towards $1 after the release of Amonkhet. This is most likely not a coincidence.
There are creatures in Amonkhet such as Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, who throw a lot of -1/-1 counters around. Plus whenever you put a -1/-1 counter on any creature, you get a -1/-1 Snake token. Along with several other creatures that throw around a lot of -1/-1 counters, it looks like you have the basis of a pretty solid Modern deck. Necroskitter would seem to be a natural fit for being included in that sort of deck.
What do you think of Necroskitter? Is it being overlooked because of its unexciting stats? There seems to be a powerful Modern strategy that could be brewed here.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
What Are My Magic Cards Worth?
It is a question that anyone who has ever owned any sizable collection of Magic the Gathering cards has asked: what are the values of my cards? There are many people who bring their old shoeboxes of Magic cards into a hobby store and find out that their collection is little more than bulk rares and long forgotten cards that no one wants any more. Of course, sometimes gold is found in these often long-neglected collections, and a store owner can buy a box of bulk for about $10-20 USD and later find a $50 or even $100 card through later perusal.
The trick is to always know what your cards are worth. But who wants to spend their time on sites like TCGPlayer (which does have a useful price guide, actually) and Star City Games simply price checking every rare card that he or she has? Really, no one, but a lot of people resort to it.
The purpose of this article is to let you know how to value your collection properly, and not simply in terms of straight dollar value, but to inform you what cards will hold their value, or lose their value long-term. As with any collection, present vs. future value is the foundation of any great investment, and this information is what this article aims to provide.
Valuing Your Magic Card Collection
One fantastic resource that I have found for valuing a collection is a website called MTGPrice. What this website allows you to do is look up the current “fair trade value” of any particular card. It factors in a variety of major online retailer prices, along with EBay and Amazon to formulate a sort of median price at which you can feel comfortable selling or trading a card.
But MTGPrice has a few even more powerful features at its disposal. By simply having a Google account, you can log into the website and actually create a complete list of your collection. This list is very easily sortable, and is constantly updated with current card values, as well as letting you know whether a card’s price has risen or fallen in the past day or in the past week.
The database isn’t perfect and some weird glitchy things can happen with its pricing algorithms. But these minor things aside, the site gives you a very good idea of what each of your cards is worth, with a total collection value. By having this site at your disposal, you can always know what a certain card of yours is worth in an instant!
The other neat aspect of MTGPrice is that you can find out what the site calls the “instant cash value of your collection.” What this actually means is that the site will display cards in your collection on the current buylists of major online retailers. What you may discover is that some buy list prices are actually higher than the median value of certain cards, because of the demand for them. This is incredibly useful information, because this means that the card’s price may actually rise in value!
What’s also useful is that MTGPrice won’t list a card twice on this buy-list page. This means that it chooses the highest buy-list price for each individual card for you, which saves you a lot of time having to check around. Knowing what immediate cash value your cards can have is a really good indication of how “fluid” or movable your cards really are.
As with anything, the laws of supply and demand are extremely important with valuing Magic cards. If retailers, especially major ones, are constantly running out of stock on certain cards, it means that people really want those cards. Cards with high buy-list prices are those that you should look to hold onto and keep in either your personal collection or trade binder. You could also, of course, actually sell them to that vendor, but do keep in mind that the shipping costs of sending the cards out sometimes isn’t worth the return.
Remember, a card is only worth what someone will offer for it, and you can sometimes get a higher value on a card just because it’s really popular at that time. By having all of this information at your disposal, you can easily decide what cards are truly bulk that you should off-load or simply keep around, and what is trade-able and sell-able.
The Magic Card Stock Market?
Another website I highly recommend is MTGStocks, which is sort of like a Magic the Gathering stock market. Like MTGPrice you can make a free account, add the cards in your collection into its inventory tool and track its value. However, it does have some glitches that prevent you from properly listing some promotional versions of cards.
The cool thing about MTGStocks is that it actually allows you to put it how much you actually paid for a card and how much you have profited or lost from it. It doesn’t offer all the same tools as MTGPrice, though, and it relies purely on TCGPlayer Mid prices. Still, it’s a great website that has a great tool to show you what card prices are trending up and down, as well as a Wall Street-style ticker. Cool stuff.
The Fluidity of Cardboard
The most important thing to understand with Magic cards is understanding how many formats in which a certain card is most useful. The formats to consider are Legacy, Modern, Standard, and Casual.
Legacy and Modern are known as Eternal formats. With Legacy, any cards are playable in a deck, except for those on the Legacy Ban List. Modern allows any cards that have been printed in any “modern” set, that is, since 8th Edition, as well as any cards that have been re-printed in older sets with modern borders in newer sets (even the old-bordered versions.) Modern also as its own banned list.
The major difference between these Eternal formats and Standard is that with Standard, there is a rotating card-pool. Standard is made up of the three most recent “blocks” of two sets (for example, as of October 2017, the Standard legal sets will be Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, Amonkhet, Hour of Devastation, and the newest set release). Also, any older printings of cards that have been reprinted in any of the current Standard sets may also be played (including old-bordered and promotional versions.)
Because Standard is the most widely supported and played competitive format, the cards that are currently widely played in the top decks of the format tend to fluctuate widely in price. Depending on the current meta-game (meaning what people are playing most often and how that affects every other card that’s played), some cards can be $20 one day, and $5 the next. It all depends on how in favor a card is with the more competitive players. Of course, when a card leaves the Standard card-pool, its value almost always immediately plummets.
Often played Standard cards are usually the most fluid card you can have during the Standard season in which they are playable. Usually, the best thing to do with these cards if you’re not currently playing with them is to either cash in on them at the peak of their popularity, or “trade up” in Eternal staples.
Eternal staples are cards that are played in a wide variety of decks in Legacy and Modern. Because it’s a non-rotating format, the meta-game relatively stays much more consistent with only the release of new cards or the emergence of a new deck archetype really making much of a difference.
One of the best examples of an Eternal staple is Liliana of the Veil, who was a very good planeswalker in Standard, but even better in formats like Modern and Legacy, where the creatures that Liliana will often force opponents to sacrifice will be a lot stronger (Tarmogoyf, for example.) Speaking of Tarmogoyf, it was at one time a nearly $200 card). It’s definitely of the greatest eternal staples that there are, essentially seeing play in any deck that runs Green in those formats.
Commander (EDH) and the Casual Magic Addiction
The last format we will discuss, and the format that is driving many card prices, is a little Casual format called Commander, better known as EDH.
Commander is the 100-card singleton format that has taken the world by storm. All you need is some Legendary Creature and 99 other cards that share colors with the casting cost (and any other mana symbols that appear on) that Legendary Creature, and you have an EDH, or Commander, deck of your own.
Commander itself, therefore, is an Eternal format that has a ban list, but because you can only run one copy of each card (excluding basic lands), the power level of certain cards changes dramatically. Because Commander games allow for more mana to be played and the games are far-more drawn out, cards with high casting costs that would never see play in a competitive Constructed deck often find themselves being a crucial win condition in many Commander decks. A great example of a card like this would be Rise of the Dark Realms, a mythic rare from Magic 2014. For the longest time it was $2-3. In EDH, it’s an absolute bomb. Being able to bring creatures back from ALL graveyards can essentially win you the game. So over time, it grew in price to almost $10, just from EDH play!
This means that mythic rares that may not be incredibly valuable, even ones that sell for about $1-3 USD, are still movable on the basis that someone may need a copy for their Commander deck, or know someone who needs one. So any bulk rare or mythic rare that you get may actually be wanted by someone for that very reason. But these kind of cards aren’t the only ones that you’re looking for: there are some cards that are very valuable, $10 or more, simply because they’ve become Commander staples!
One of the most important parts of Commander is top-deck manipulation. This is why cards like Sensei’s Divining Top (which was so good in Legacy that it was banned), Sylvan Library, and Scroll Rack are so expensive. Sylvan Library is the cheapest because it’s been reprinted in a core set. Sensei’s Divining Top has had three set printings and a From the Vault Reprint, but even the fair supply is low when compared to the high demand. The same is true for Scroll Rack, which has one regular printing, plus a very low supply reprint in Commanders' Arsenal. There are also some cards like Baneslayer Angel that used to be among the best cards in Standard, but today are only really played in EDH, which is why they are still about $10.
I could go into much further detail about the financial aspects of Commander, and I will at some point in the future. But for now, I’ll finish this article with what is likely the most important thing to invest in when it comes to Magic cards… FOILS!
The Allure of Foil Magic Cards
Yes, there are many Magic players that could care less about foils. But it is true that many players like them, and to be fair, the set foils are quite a bit rarer than regular cards. I say set foils, because believe it or not, some promo foils and collectible foils are actually fairly worthless due to a massive print run. But for the most part, there are a lot of set foils worth many times the price of a regular version of that same card.
Why exactly is this? First of all, foils do not come in every pack of Magic, except in rare instances like the Masters sets (Modern Masters, Eternal Masters, etc) in which every pack does in fact include a foil. Every set since Urza’s Destiny has had the chance of a premium foil in a pack. However, since any card in a given set has a foil counterpart, many foils that are pulled are either basic lands (which aren’t worthless, but not much outside of Zendikar, Battle for Zendikar, or Unhinged full art versions) or cards that no one will ever want to play, outside of perhaps Limited.
Enter Commander. With many people wanting to “pimp” out their decks with foils, the demand on foil versions of even common and uncommon cards has risen greatly over the past couple of years. While cards that see a lot of competitive play obviously have high foil values, cards popular in Commander (especially Legendary Creatures, since many of them are viable Commanders) can be incredibly expensive.
Set foils are among the rarest cards in Magic, which is why mythic rare cards like Jace, The Mind Sculptor (whose Worldwake foil printing was worth $800 at one time) and Liliana of the Veil ($60 non-foil vs $180 foil) see such ridiculous price differences between their premium versions. Even a more casually-oriented card like Rise of the Dark Realms has a foil version that sells for about $20! Mythic rare foils are usually pretty solid investments, simply because even the cheaper non-foil mythics have decently valuable foil versions.
Of course, Standard staples tend to have pretty high foil values, as well. But like their non-foil counterparts, their value is incredibly variable, and foil prices fluctuate even more wildly. What drives up a foil price is usually the majority of players’ unwillingness to part with a certain card, especially if that card will be playable in Modern or Legacy, as well (Liliana of the Veil is a perfect example).
As a general rule, foils of cards that see considerable play in any format are valuable. However, many widely played commons and uncommons can be purchased from online retailers for very near the price of a regular version, so be aware. (Again, MTG Price or MTG Goldfish is a great way to check on the differences since it indexes both.)
Buy, Sell, or Trade?
Now that you have this information about your collection, you may wonder what’s the best time to buy, sell, or trade Magic cards. The first thing to keep in mind is the Standard rotation.
Every October, there is a standard rotation that occurs, meaning that the oldest two sets in Standard are no longer playable in Standard with the release of the first set in the new block. (For example, in October 2017, cards from Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, Shadows Over Innistrad, and Eldritch Moon are no longer playable.) Just months before, many prices of Standard cards will have dropped, but many will still retain some value if they are still seeing competitive play (especially when there are Standard Pro Tour Qualifiers going on.)
It is important to unload any cards in the Standard sets that you aren't using that will be rotating out of Standard in October during the summer before. This is because after rotation, those cards’ prices drop precipitously as everyone is simultaneously unloading them.
Even cards that will see Modern and Legacy play, as well as Commander play, will drop in value, as well. This is because many Standard players will not play Modern, and look to move their extra copies for the newer cards or for cash. For Commander and Eternal players, after rotation is the best time to buy cards that have just left Standard. This is because the supply will be there, since most Modern players that want them already have them. Therefore, most demand won’t be there until the next Modern Pro Tour Qualifer (PTQ) season.
Anytime is always a good time to trade, however, as long as you are trading up. This means trading a bunch of Eternal staples for highly popular Standard cards that you can immediately move for either other Standard cards or more valuable Modern/Legacy/Commander staples. Watching the top deck lists and monitoring price gains and losses on MTGPrice or MTG Goldfish is a great way to know what cards are seeing more play.
MTG Goldfish is a particularly interesting website because of the fact that it’s primarily a website that tracks the card prices on Magic Online (MTGO or MODO). However, it also tracks paper card prices. The most useful aspect of this website, however, besides showing the ridiculous disparity in prices of paper vs online Magic, is that Goldfish tracks the top decks in every format in Magic Online (Standard, Modern, Legacy, etc.) and will let you know if particular cards are seeing a lot of play in top decks.
You’re probably asking why it matters if a card is played a lot of online. Well, since many competitive players play-test on Magic Online, and some of the best players in the world now actually began on MTGO, the lists Online are going to be very, very similar to those used in Paper Magic. If something does well online, it very likely will be played in paper at one point or another.
Knowing what cards are being played in winning decks lets you know what people will be looking for, and what buy lists will be pricing more highly. You want to adjust your trade binder accordingly. Sometimes, this information will give you a jump on acquiring cards at a low price before they suddenly become chase cards and you can turn an easy profit.
The bottom line is that you don’t want to sit on cards with a limited shelf-life. Yes, a lot of Standard cards will still be played in Commander. But remember, since you only need one copy, there will be play-sets galore being shipped off to buy-lists, traded in at local game stores, and filling bulk binders everywhere. Many cards once they leave Standard fall from grace extremely quickly, so if you’re looking to buy or trade for Standard cards to play in Commander, you’re better off waiting for the rotation if at all possible. Any time is fine to pick up good Eternal cards. Again, you can use MTG Goldfish’s Metagame and Format Staples sections to see what cards are most popular in each format and what are always good trade targets.
The Ever-Changing Landscape of Magic Finance
The prices of Magic cards are always changing due to the rising popularity of the game and the easy access to cards due to online availability. Using tools like MTGPrice, MTGStocks, and MTG Goldfish, as well as checking TCGPlayer market prices can give you a good idea at all times when to pick up certain cards at their lowest price or drop them before their value plummets. Of course, Magic is not all about making money; it should be about having fun. But to maximize your fun, it’s important to use a little bit of economics in your card-buying routines, because you may find your collection grow a lot more quickly and your budget less strained if you keep yourself informed.
All photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. under Creative Commons license v2.0.
Magic the Gathering Amonkhet Standard Deck - Four Color (4C) Approach of the Second Sun (AKA New Perspectives Combo) Deck Tech
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
As a Magic: the Gathering player who loves instant win conditions built into cards, it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m a big fan of Approach of the Second Sun. It’s a deceptively simple win condition that this Amonkhet sorcery offers, too.
It costs 7 mana to cast (6W) and gains you 7 life. That doesn’t sound worth it, except if you haven’t cast a copy of Approach of the Second Sun during that game, you get to shuffle your deck and place it 7 cards from the top. If you already cast Approach of the Second Sun, however, you simply win the game.
Yes, it sounds simple enough. But 7 mana is a lot to pay for a card that really just gains you 7 life the first time you cast it. Fortunately, the Amonkhet set offers not only ways to ramp your mana, but also draw a whole bunch of cards thanks to the Cycling mechanic. There’s a neat little trick to make a whole bunch of mana in this deck, which will hopefully get you enough mana to cast Approach of the Second Sun twice in a single turn! Part of it has to do with a 6-mana Enchantment called New Perspectives, which is why some people have come to call this build New Perspectives Combo.
While there have been many builds of Approach of the Second Suns built in the early going, the most consistent and successful so far is this 4-color Approach of the Second Suns deck piloted by ksk0601 in a Magic Online Competitive Standard League to a 5-0 finish!
4 Vizier of Tumbling Sands
4 Shefet Monitor
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 Haze of Pollen
4 Shadow of the Grave
4 Renewed Faith
1 Approach of the Second Sun
4 Weirding Wood
4 Cast Out
4 New Perspectives
1 Fetid Pools
2 Fortified Village
4 Irrigated Farmland
4 Scattered Groves
4 Sheltered Thicket
4 Drake Haven
2 Kefnet the Mindful
4 Angel of Sanctions
Essentially, this deck focuses on Cycling a bunch of cards, gaining life, and preventing combat damage long enough to cast your win condition card twice. Let’s break it down, starting with the creatures.
Vizier of Tumbling Sands is a great little creature who can untap permanents (such as your lands) and be cycled himself to draw you a card, and untap a permanent. Shefet Monitor is a 6 mana creature, but he can be cycled for 3G to not only draw you a card, but put a basic land card from your deck into play. It’s especially important that this card doesn’t come into play tapped, so you can tap it for mana right away.
Sphinx of the Final Word plays several roles in this deck. First of all, he can’t be countered, and gives you a 5/5 flying presence. He is also hexproof, so he’s extremely difficult for opponents to remove. But the best thing about the Sphinx is that he makes instant and sorcery spells you cast unable to be countered. With only a single copy of Approach of the Second Sun in the deck, you have to ensure that it doesn’t go to the graveyard.
Non-Creature Spell Lineup
Traverse the Ulvenwald has been proven to be a good Magic card, and it’s particularly strong in this deck. For only a single mana, you can get a basic land card into your hand. However, once you have 4 card types in your graveyard, you can add a creature card to your hand instead. It’s a cheap little tutor that can do a lot of work for you.
Haze of Pollen is essentially a “fog” effect, meaning that it prevents all combat damage in a given turn. It costs only 1G to cast and you have the option to cycle it for 3 mana. This flexibility will come in handy as the game progresses.
Shadow of the Grave is one of my favorite cards in this deck. It costs 1B to cast, and is in fact the only Black card in the deck. It’s well worth running, though. What this little instant does is allow to you get back every card that you cycled or discarded that turn. This is pretty nuts, and actually combos well with an Enchantment that we’ll get to shortly.
Renewed Faith is a 1W instant that gains you 6 life. But you can also cycle it for the same amount and instead have the option to gain 2 life. It’s a very solid card when you consider how valuable gaining life in this sort of deck really is.
There’s only a single copy of Approach of the Second Sun in the deck. This seems incredibly risky, but fortunately, this one copy should usually be all you need.
Moving onto the Enchantments, we have 4 copies of Weirding Wood from Shadows Over Innistrad. Not only does this card enchant a land and allow it to produce two mana of any one color, but it also makes a Clue token, which you can trade in for a card later. This card is a great combo with Vizier of Tumbling Sands to ramp your mana.
Cast Out is a 4 mana enchantment with Flash. It can remove any nonland permanent your opponent controls. This is not the cheapest removal around, but it’s a catch-all that is very useful in a deck like this where you’re working towards a very specific goal. It also has a very cheap cycling cost of a single White mana, so it’s pretty much always going to net you card advantage.
New Perspectives is an Enchantment that costs a whopping 6 mana (5U) but actually does quite a but in this deck. When it comes into play, you draw three cards. That’s already pretty solid. But it’s the second thing that it does which makes it good for this deck. When it’s in play, and you have seven or more cards in hand, you can pay 0 for all cycling costs.
While having 7 cards is a lot, with all of the card draw in the deck, and Shadow of the Grave getting you back a lot of cards, this is an attainable goal. In fact, getting this enchantment out is what really allows you to get enough mana to win the game in one turn. If you can keep cycling enough cards to draw into your Approach of the Second Sun twice, you have a strong chance of winning.
Unsurprisingly, the mana base is full of rare cycle lands from Amonkhet. There’s one copy of the Blue/Black Fetid Pools, 4 copies of the White/Blue Irrigated Farmland, 4 copies of the Green /White Scattered Groves, and 4 copies of the Red/Green Sheltered Thicket. The last one is particularly strange, considering that there are absolutely no Red mana costs in the deck. But they are mainly in here for the cycling ability.
There are also 2 copies of Fortified Village, which will often come into play untapped since there are so many Plains and Forests in the deck (the cycle lands have basic land types.) For basic lands, there are 5 Forest, 1 Plains and 1 Island. It’s a solid mana base.
This deck is setup to draw a lot of cards, stop combat damage, and gain life, all to get to cast one card twice to win the game. The deck can’t really win otherwise. However, in cases where you run into an extremely aggressive deck or a control deck that won’t let you resolve Approach of the Second Sun, there are ways in the sideboard to win anyway.
Two copies of Dispel and three copies of Negate help in the counter wars that could occur as you try to resolve Approach of the Second Sun. Negate is also useful in stopping planeswalkers dead in their tracks.
Drake Haven is a particularly cool card. This 3 mana Enchantment allows you to pay 1 colorless mana to make a 2/2 flying Drake token whenever you cycle or discard a card. This means that the cycling engine of the deck can stay intact, even in aggressive matchups. These can replace the slow 6-mana New Perspectives in those types of match-ups.
Kefnet the Mindful is one of the Amonkhet Gods, and the one that is hardest to get online. But as long as you have at least seven cards in hand (not hard to do in this deck), you get a 5/5 indestructible flyer. His draw a card ability can be useful, too, even if you do have to return a land you control to your hand.
Another great weapon to have against more aggressive decks is the 4 copies of Angel of Sanctions. It does something that the Enchantment Cast Out does - remove a nonland permanent your opponent controls from play - except on a 3 / 4 flyer. Angel of Sanctions also has Embalm, so even after it dies, you can end up making a token of it that does the same thing. It’s a good replacement for those Enchantments when you need to remove opponent’s threat while also giving you a way to do damage in the air.
Thoughts on the Deck
This is a pretty cool deck that takes full advantage of the cycling mechanic cards in Amonkhet. It basically stops your opponent from winning just long enough for you to say “I win” by playing a 7 mana card twice. What I really like about this particular build is the sideboard, which allows you to adjust the deck based on the match-up. Having only a single copy of your main win condition is risky, but with the number of cards you can draw, it shouldn’t be hard to get it into your hand during the course of a game.
There are other ways to build an Approach of the Second Sun deck, of course, but the New Perspectives Combo build seems to be the most consistent way for it to work. After all, this deck did go undefeated in matches in a competitive Magic Online tournament.
Not only that, but Saffron Olive of MTGGoldfish went ahead and played a version of New Perspectives Combo in his Against the Odds video series. While the end result hardly surprises me (he went 5-0 in on-video matches), it proved that this is a deck that actually works! Notably, his sideboard contains 3 copies of Radiant Flames instead of 3 of the 4 Angel of Sanctions, and I think this might be a good choice, especially in a deck that can produce 4 colors of mana!
How would you build an Approach of the Second Sun deck? Is this a deck you’d like to play, especially now that it’s been proven to actually work?
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
1v1 Commander has been a real format in Magic: the Gathering for some time. Unofficially, 1v1 Commander has been regulated by the Duel Commander rules committee. Recently, noticing just how popular the format is on Magic Online, Wizards of the Coast decided to add tournament support for 1v1 Commander! Hurray! Right? Well, there are some interesting things that they did in order to do so.
Somewhat strangely, Wizards decided to adopt their own banlist that is completely different from the one that the “regular” Duel Commander committee uses. You can see the massive difference in what Wizards of the Coast is banning in the format VS what the duel Commander Committee decided to ban effective on May 10th here. While having two wildly different banlists for official online play and paper play is obviously going to be confusing for long-time players familiar with the “French banlist,” Wizards does have data to back up their decision making process.
However, Wizards did spark outrage by announcing that players of multiplayer Commander, as of May 10th, would have to abide by the one-on-one banlist. Being completely unbalanced for a multiplayer format, it makes sense that this seemed to spell laziness on the part of Wizards. Did they simply think that the well-established multiplayer community (who have been going with the MTGcommander.net banlist for ages) would just go along with this?
Fortunately, thanks to the outspoken Magic community, Wizards announced that they will return to two separate banlists for one-on-one and multiplayer Commander by July 5th. However, this means that people who enjoy multiplayer Commander on Magic Online, which is quite a few, are going to have to experience a very different Commander format than the one that they’re used to. I won’t go into a card by card breakdown of the different banlists here, but what I can say right away is that it’s going to force some creative card choice changes and create a very different metagame than the one that most Commander players are used to.
However, in spite of this obvious miscalculation to force the same banlist on everyone, Wizards may have actually done something very good for Commander. With EDH actually becoming a competitive format on Magic Online, even if it’s just one-on-one, this means that Wizards is hopefully going to be treating the format with more care. Wizards keeps printing some extremely powerful cards that warp the format. This is especially in one-on-one, as we’ve seen by some of the decisions made by the Duel Commander rules committee, which isn’t affiliated with Wizards.
Now, of course, multiplayer Commander is going to remain the “casual” format that it has always been. It’s not making Wizards money (directly) like the 1v1 Commander tournament support will. And, of course, 1v1 Commander plays very differently than multiplayer in some ways. The politics are definitely one of the selling points of multiplayer Commander. Also, there are many cards in Magic that go from being mediocre in one-on-one Magic to incredible once you have four or more players at the table.
I think by monetizing the one-on-one Commander format, which is already a fiercely competitive format, especially in Europe, it will probably make Wizards think more about the format when designing cards specifically made for the format. Also, by making players on Magic Online wait for their original multiplayer banlist to be reinstated, it’s going to make people experiment. These new forced limitations will probably lead to new interactions between cards being discovered. It could actually be a good thing for the format as far as deckbuilding is concerned, especially when forced to live without staples such as Sol Ring.
What concerns me, though, is while I’m happy to see Commander become a real competitive format supported by Wizards, it could also mean that people are going to buy out cards that are currently affordable to online players. Many players who play Commander on Magic Online play there because it is far cheaper to build decks on there, at fractions of the cost when compared to purchasing the cards individually in paper. As of early May 2017, you can build fairly competitive Commander decks on Magic Online for as little as $20.
While most competitive 1-on-1 decks are built somewhat differently than multiplayer ones, especially due to the different banlists, there are a lot of cards that don’t see play in other competitive Magic formats that do see play in all forms of Commander. This could price a lot of the Commander community out of bothering to play on Magic Online. Also, this could be a bad thing for the community as MTGO is the only place that many Commander players can reliably get a game going on a regular basis. It’s also where a lot of Commander players playtest their decks before purchasing cards in paper (of course, Wizards doesn’t care about that!)
So, while I love that the 1v1 Commander format will now be supported by Wizards of the Coast, it’s obviously been done because they see it as a new way to make money. As for the financial impact on Magic Online, you’ll want to watch the cards banned by Wizards for the Commander format, as well as those that are no longer banned in the online 1v1 Commander format. (Prophet of Kruphix is a big one!)
I really appreciate that Wizards actually took the time to explain their reasoning behind each of the bannings. I doubly appreciate that multiplayer Commander will return to normal after the release of Hour of Devastation on Magic Online. It’s very good to know that they continue to listen when they make strange decisions, and will look to find an amicable solution that everyone can live with.
But wait, if you’re a Commander player who doesn’t play on Magic Online, how will this affect you? Simply put, if 1v1 Commander becomes a fruitful enough format online, it’s extremely likely that Wizards will be supporting it in paper Magic, as well. This will affect the availability (or unavailability) of the same cards. It will be interesting to see how the unofficial and official banlists will be reconciled over time. Even if you don’t care about Magic Online, what will happen in Commander in MTGO will no doubt have an effect on off-line Commander, as well.
It's very confusing that for a bit there will be a paper multiplayer banlist, a paper 1v1 banlist, and an online 1v1 & multiplayer banlist. What Wizards was trying to do was unify the lists to make one banlist for all of them. They were probably hoping that through testing it would inform the official multiplayer Commander banlist, as well. The best solution, of course, is for everyone to use the same banlist for 1v1 and multiplayer, most likely. However, since multiplayer and 1v1 play differently, we'll see if this can actually ever happen.
What is your take on Wizards supporting competitive 1v1 Commander? Do you think it’s good or bad for the format? What do you think will happen in regards to multiplayer Commander due to having to be forced to use a different list for two months?
Whatever happens, 1v1 Commander will definitely be a format I watch closely now. Let’s hope Wizards makes this a fun format for everyone!
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
Liliana's Mastery is a neat little Enchantment from Magic: the Gathering's Expansion set. It costs 5 mana to cast (3BB) and gives all of your Zombies +1/+1. The Enchantment also brings two 2/2 Zombie creature tokens into play. This means that these tokens are nominally 3/3 creatures with Liliana's Mastery in play. With how successfully Mono-Black Zombies played in Amonkhet Standard right from the get-go, it's not surprising that Liliana's Mastery has been seen as a two-of in some lists.
With the mass of new Zombie cards featured in Amonkhet, many players are seeking out any other cards that might synergize well with the powerful new Zombies. One card that has come to mind is a Zombie-themed sorcery card from Shadows Over Innistrad, From Under the Floorboards.
With the same mana cost as Liliana's Mastery, it would seem that this sorcery and the Enchantment would be competing for the same space in the deck. So does this Zombie token creator with Madness seem worthy of Standard play?
From a raw power standpoint, these two cards are extremely similar. From Under the Floorboards puts three 2/2 Zombie tokens into play. This is the same 6 power that Liliana's Mastery offers, but spread among three creatures instead of two. However, those tokens come into play tapped, which is a drawback. To make up for that drawback, you get to gain 3 life. For 5 mana, that's a good amount of value.
What really stands out about this card is its Madness cost. It has an X cost in it, meaning that if you discard this card, you can choose how much mana to pump into it. Heck, it's probably worth it to pay 1BB for the token and 1 life, especially since it can be played at Instant speed when Madness is being used.
Here's the thing, though. Cards that cost 5 mana or more that don't have an immediate impact on the board tend not to do well in Standard. Granted, this card does have a nice interaction with Wayward Wanderer, which would usually gain you 3 life and make your opponent lose 3 life. But with Liliana's Mastery, you're getting an immediate power boost for your other existing Zombies, plus two 3/3 bodies that can block right away. Then, you can get an immediate 4 point life swing from the Wanderer (or more if you have multiple Wanderers on board). The immediate effect on the board is more obvious.
Both of these cards are good, but I see why competitive players have shunned From Under the Floorboards. With another Zombie lord, Lord of the Accursed, also in Amonkhet, the boost from Liliana's Mastery is likely enough for the Zombie player to make a lethal push. The Mastery definitely wins here, although I really like From Under the Floorboards in a White/Black Zombie deck that favors tokens and Anointed Procession, which doubles said tokens.
Which do you prefer: From Under the Floorboards, Liliana's Mastery, or would you just play both?
If you need some copies of Liliana's Mastery, you can buy them from your favorite Local Game Store, Amazon or TCGPlayer.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
Chancellor of the Dross is one of a cycle of five Chancellor creatures from New Phyrexia. In Limited, he was a fun one to have for a couple of reasons. A 6/6 with flying and lifelink for 7 mana isn't too bad, and definitely qualifies as a bomb. But the primary reason he was good is if you had him in your opening hand, he had an ability that you could use right at the beginning of the game.
While some of the Chancellors had a better ability than he, being able to immediately make your opponent lose 3 life and gain 3 life is a really useful ability. Starting the game at 23 while your opponent starts at 17 is a useful weapon to have. Yes, Chancellor of the Dross does have triple-black in his mana cost, but in Limited, you'd be playing bunch of Black cards anyway if he's one of your first picks anyway.
In a 40-card Limited deck, the chances of having him in your opening hand are pretty good. So it's pretty much worth running him in the off-chance you have him in your opening grip, because even if you don't, you'll have access to a powerful beater in the late game. But in regular 60-card Constructed, the chances aren't so good. It's not worth running 4 copies in the rare chance that you'll be able to gain 12 life and make your opponent start at 8.
In EDH, he can be a fun guy, though. This is because his ability targets each opponent, and not just one opponent. He's also a Vampire, which is a very popular archetype. There are quite a few Olivia Voldaren Commander decks that feature a copy of the Chancellor, mostly because his ability scales so well in multiplayer. He's also just a powerful beater who gets better in a Vampire Tribal deck. But he's hardly a must-include.
However, there is one thing that Chancellor of the Dross can do that probably no other card can. If you happen to be paying at the kitchen table or anywhere that regular deck construction rules don't apply (a format technically known as Freeform), you can actually build a deck of 60 Chancellor of the Dross. You ask, isn't that a bit absurd? It is, because you should only ever have 4 copies of any given card in your deck besides basic lands.
However, in the case that you can actually run 60 Chancellors, you will always start the game with 7 copies of Chancellor of the Dross in your opening hand,. This means you'll drain your opponent for 21 life. Since you start with 20 life in ordinary Magic, that means you automatically win! This concept was popularized by the Magic: the Gathering YouTuber VedalkenGurl, as seen in this video:
In "real" Magic, Chancellor of the Dross is a cool card that played the role of a bomb in New Phyrexia Limited. He still sees some casual play in Vampire Commander decks, too. But it's just too awesome to see a deck that runs 60 of a card that really just can't lose. Although, there are ways to beat 60 Chancellors, as it turns out, but not many.
It's just always awesome to see people break a card in ridiculous ways. Such is the magic of Magic!
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
While Gideon of the Trials is making serious waves in Standard, it might be easy to forget that there is another incarnation of Gideon on the plane of Amonkhet. Featured in one of the two Amonkhet Planeswalker decks, Gideon, Martial Paragon is a powered down, but still very interesting Gideon planeswalker.
First, we’ll take a look at Gideon himself and the three other exclusive cards in the deck. All are Standard-legal as long as Amonkhet is in Standard. Will Gideon and his friends from his aggressive red/white entourage match up to Liliana, Death Wielder and her crew?
Gideon, Martial Paragon costs 5 mana (4W) to cast and comes into play with 5 loyalty counters, which is a decent number. His first ability adds 2 loyalty counters and untaps all your creatures. It also gives them +1/+1 until end of turn. This ability seems a bit strange at first, but there is a reason that this ability is good as we’ll see soon.
His 0 ability is familiar to those who have played with other Gideon planeswalkers. He becomes an indestructible 5/5 Human Soldier who can take no damage that turn. Do remember that he doesn’t gain haste, so you can’t attack with him the turn that you first cast Gideon.
Gideon’s “ultimate” ability costs 10 loyalty counters, but it’s not hard to see it ending the game. Creatures you control gain +2/+2 until end of turn and you tap all creatures your opponent controls. That’s pretty good! All in all, this is a decent planeswalker. He doesn’t hold a candle to Gideon of the Trials, but he’s not meant to. This guy is borderline Standard playable already.
So do you need a way to seek out your Gideon planeswalker? Well, with each of these Planeswalker decks, you get two copies of a card that not only can grab your deck’s planeswalker from your deck or graveyard, but that does something else as well.
Gideon’s Resolve is a 5 mana Enchantment that gives all creatures you control +1/+1. While this seems like a rather expensive “anthem” effect, because you get to search out Gideon, too, it’s actually well worth the mana investment.
Companion of the Trials is another nifty creature. It’s a 2/2 flyer for 3 mana that has an ability that’s only available when you control a Gideon planeswalker. That ability costs 1W and untaps a creature you control. It’s not a tap ability, so you can use it as many times as you have mana. This untapping ability is going to be very relevant in this deck.
Graceful Cat may not look exciting, but this common kitty can do a lot of work. As a 2/2 for 2W, he gains +1/+1 whenever he attacks. While this is decidedly average, having four copies of him in this deck makes him a solid role player.
These three exclusive cards all serve a purpose in this deck, as the theme of this deck focuses around a mechanic where needing to untap your creatures actually matters.
Now, let’s look at the whole deck list and get a feel for what we’re getting here:
1 Gideon, Martial Paragon
1 Glory-Bound Initiate
3 Gust Walker
1 Nef-Crop Entangler
1 Pathmaker Initiate
2 Honored Crop-Captain
3 Companion of the Trials
1 Devoted Crop-Mate
4 Graceful Cat
3 Ahn-Crop Crasher
2 Sparring Mummy
1 Tah-Crop Elite
2 Hyena Pack
1 Impeccable Timing
2 Cartouche of Zeal
1 Hazoret's Favor
3 Trial of Zeal
2 Gideon's Resolve
4 Stone Quarry
Glory-Bound Initiate is a great example of what Gideon, Martial Paragon’s deck is all about. This Amonkhet rare features the Exert mechanic. What Exert does is allow you to activate an additional ability when the creature attacks, at the cost of not being able to untap for an additional turn. While the Exert ability is usually worth it normally, a deck that has consistent ways to untap its creatures essentially pays next to nothing for using Exert abilities.
The Initiate is a particularly good creature with Exert. He’s a 3/1 for 2 mana, which is okay on its own. But with Exert, he gets +1/+3 and lifelink until end of turn. That means he’s a 4/4 with lifelink for only 1W! If you’re able to untap him with the ability of Companion of the Trials or Gideon himself on the very next turn, you can Exert all over again for next to nothing! If you’re looking to upgrade this deck, getting 3 more copies of this guy to round out a playset would be a great step!
Gust Walker is a fine common creature that’s a 2/2 for 1W, but he too has Exert! His ability gives him +1/+1 and flying! That’s pretty powerful, and he is definitely a must-run in this deck.
Nef-Crop Entangler is another 2 mana creature with Exert. This one isn’t quite as exciting, but he gains +1/+2 and trample with his Exert ability. While you wouldn’t think Trample on a 3/3 would be a big deal, it is when it’s used in the early course of a game!
Pathmaker Initiate is a cute card that can tap to make a creature with power 2 or less unblockable until end of turn. Honestly, this is a decent little creature if you’re playing in an Amonkhet Limited event, but I feel like he could be replaced with another Nef-Crop Entangler or another aggressive creature quite easily.
Honored Crop-Captain is one of my favorite creatures in the deck. She’s an aggressive 3/2 for 2 mana (one White, one Red) that gives other attacking creatures you control +1/+0 when she attacks. She gets the job done.
Devoted Crop Mate is a 3 mana creature that’s not only a useful 3/2 but has a really sweet Exert ability. When you Exert him, he can return a creature with converted mana cost 2 or less from the graveyard to the battlefield! That’s any of the creatures we mentioned up until this point! Talk about value!
Ahn-Crop Crasher is a playable Minotaur that’s a 3/2 with haste. He too has an Exert ability, which makes it so a target creature can’t block for the rest of that turn. On a creature with Haste, that’s plenty good. This is a good creature.
Sparring Mummy is a cute White Zombie. He costs 4 mana to cast and allows you to untap a creature when he enters play. This obviously works extremely well with the Exert mechanic, which is why he’s in here. If I were building a Constructed deck, though, this probably isn’t a creature I’d be playing, however.
As 4 mana creatures in this deck go, however, I do quite like Tah-Crop Elite. This bird is only a 2/2 flyer, but his Exert ability gives creatures you control (himself included) +1/+1 until end of turn. He’s fine as a one-of in my opinion.
Hyena Pack is the vanilla creature of the deck. With two copies of this 3 / 4 mana do-nothing creature, here is where you can upgrade your creature base. I’d probably throw in another Ahn-Crop Crasher and one of the aggressive two-mana creatures instead. But for an introductory deck, out of the box these are acceptable.
The Exert creatures are all pretty solid. So how does the rest of the deck shape up in assisting these Exert creatures to cheat once in awhile?
The instants in this deck aren’t too exciting. Impeccable Timing is a useful Magic card which deals 3 damage to a target attacking or blocking creature for 2 mana. Two copies of Electrify are about the only other removal in this deck. While 4 mana to deal 4 damage to a creature isn’t horrible, it’s no Flame Slash.
The Enchantments in the deck are decent, though. Cartouche of Zeal is a nice one-drop Aura that not only gives the target creature +1/+1 and haste, but when it comes into play, you can stop a target creature from being able to block that turn. Talk about value for a one-drop Aura!
It gets even better with Trial of Zeal. This Trial costs 3 to cast and deals 3 damage to a target creature or player. But when a Cartouche comes into play, you can return the Trial to your hand. It’s a nice combo of cards.
The last card we’ll talk about today is Hazoret’s Favor. It’s one of the rare cards in the deck. It costs 2R to cast. At the beginning of each of your combats, you may have a creature you control +2/+0 and haste until end of turn. Although, if you do, you have to sacrifice it at the end of the turn. Still, it can be well worth the extra damage to sacrifice one of your creatures.
Thoughts on the Deck
While I really like the Liliana, Death Wielder deck, the Exert-themed Gideon deck is pretty cool. The only concern that I have with it is that you will be wide open to counter attacks on many occasions. However, with some upgrades, this is a deck that can win some games quite handily. This deck does a great job with showcasing the Exert mechanic, and if you add in Gideon of the Trials, this can be a really fun aggro deck.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
It’s no secret that Wizards of the Coast’s decision to replace the often-maligned Intro Packs with Planeswalker Decks has been a success. While the exclusive planeswalkers featured with the decks are certainly underpowered compared to their expansion set counterparts, they are certainly interesting and still sought after by many players. Amonkhet’s two Planeswalker decks feature Liliana, Death Wielder and Gideon, Martial Paragon. While you won’t see this Liliana and Gideon tearing it up at top tournament tables, they have their own merits to be appreciated.
Today, we’ll take a look at Liliana, Death Wielder and the black & green deck that she has to support her, including 4 cards exclusive to this deck. This Liliana and the other four cards are Standard-legal for as long as Amonkhet is in the format, so it’s worth taking a look at them all to see if they are actually playable.
Liliana, Death Wielder costs a whopping 7 mana to cast. Compared to Liliana, Death’s Majesty from the main Amonkhet set, this is quite an investment. However, Death Wielder’s abilities themselves are actually pretty good. She starts with 5 loyalty counters, which is a fairly high number, but keep in mind that she costs 5BB to cast.
Her +2 allows you to put a -1/-1 counter on up to one target creature. This doesn’t seem all that exciting until you read her second ability. Her -3 is to destroy a target creature with a -1/-1 counter on it. With the many -1/-1 counter interactions that can be seen in the Amonkhet set, these are very relevant abilities. Her “ultimate” ability costs a whopping 10 loyalty, but it allows you to return all creatures from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Honestly, for a Planeswalker deck exclusive, this gal is pretty good. She gets better, though, when you consider another one of the exclusive cards in this deck, Liliana’s Influence.
Each Planeswalker deck comes with two copies of a card that synergizes with the deck’s planeswalker. It not only allows you to search out the very planeswalker that the deck is based around, but also comes with a useful effect to help set up that planeswalker. While Liliana’s Influence costs a whopping 6 mana to cast, it does a lot.
Not only do you get to seek out your library or graveyard for a copy of Liliana, Death’s Wielder, but also the ability to put a -1/-1 counter on each creature you don’t control. This works very well with Liliana’s first two abilities, allowing you to easily do away with a 2 toughness creature once she comes into play with her +2 ability, or destroy a bigger creature with her -3 ability.
Desiccated Naga and Tattered Mummy aren’t super exciting, but are solid role player type creatures. The Naga has an ability for 3B to “drain” your opponent for two life, gaining you two life and making your opponent lose two. While you can only activate this ability when you have a Liliana planeswalker in play, that’s a fairly good ability. Tattered Mummy makes each opponent lose 2 life when it dies, a very solid ability on a common creature. There are 4 in the deck, too.
The other exclusive card is Foul Orchard, which is a land that comes into play tapped and allows you to tap for either black or green mana. It’s hardly exciting, but with 4 copies in the deck, you get some instant mana fixing.
As a whole, the deck has some really other interesting cards. Here’s the list:
1 Liliana, Death Wielder
1 Festering Mummy
2 Dune Beetle
4 Tattered Mummy
1 Channeler Initiate
2 Baleful Ammit
3 Desiccated Naga
1 Crocodile of the Crossing
2 Giant Spider
2 Decimator Beetle
2 Liliana's Influence
2 Splendid Agony
1 Edifice of Authority
1 Luxa River Shrine
1 Oracle's Vault
2 Trial of Ambition
2 Cartouche of Ambition
2 Cartouche of Strength
1 Gift of Paradise
4 Foul Orchard
1 Grasping Dunes
Before I get into the creature line-up, I really need to touch on Grasping Dunes. It’s a colorless land that not only can tap for a colorless mana, but also has an additional ability. For just one mana and a tap, you can put a -1/-1 counter on a target creature. You can only play this ability at sorcery speed, but that’s some pretty effective removal early in the game.
Festering Mummy is a cool little one-drop creature that allows you to put a -1/-1 counter on a creature when he dies. It’s a may ability, which is neat. There is only one copy of this guy in the deck, which is a shame.
Dune Beetle is a 1 / 4 vanilla creature for 1B. You’re not going to see this guy played in Standard, really, but is decent value for 2 mana in an introductory-type deck.
Channeler Initiate is one of the two other rares in the deck. He’s a 3 / 4 for only two mana, which is great. But when he enters the battlefield, you must be 3 -1/-1 counters on a target creature you control. Usually this is going to be himself, but that’s okay. He has an ability to tap and remove a -1/-1 counter from himself to add one mana of any color to your mana pool. He’s a pretty neat creature, actually.
Baleful Ammit is yet another creature with above average stats, a 4 / 3 with Lifelink for only 3 mana. But you have to put a -1/-1 counter on a creature you control when he comes into play. Of course you can just put it on himself. Still, this is a decent creature, especially when you pair it with something like Channeler Initiate.
Gravedigger is an older Magic card that’s been reprinted in Amonkhet. He has a simple ability, return a target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. There are plenty of creatures you’d like to get back in this deck, so it makes sense to include two copies of the Gravedigger.
Crocodile of the Crossing is a lot like Baleful Ammit in that he’s an above average creature that comes along with a -1/-1 counter you have to stick on someone you control. But the difference here is that he comes with haste. A 5 / 4 with Haste for 4 mana is nothing to sneeze at!
Giant Spider is yet another old Magic card reprinted for Amonkhet. This one is one of the first Magic cards ever printed! Being a 2/4 with Reach for 4 mana isn’t great by today’s Magic standards. But in this deck, to be able to block flyers is enough reason for this classic Spider to hang out in this list.
The last creature in the deck is two copies of Decimator Beetle. Like many of the creatures in this deck, you have to stick a -1/-1 counter somewhere when he enters. However, when he attacks, he can actually move a -1/-1 counter from a creature you control onto a creature that the defending player controls. This stag beetle is actually pretty cool!
There are only two instants in the deck, two copies of Splendid Agony. For 3 mana, this card allows you to distribute two -1/-1 counters among one or two target creatures. This is a pretty flexible card, particularly good in this deck. The only two sorceries in the deck are the two copies of the aforementioned Liliana’s Influence.
The artifacts in the deck are all pretty interesting, featuring the “brick counter” mechanic new to Amonkhet. These cards all feature a first ability that costs a mana to do some minor thing and puts a brick counter on the card.
The first is Edifice of Authority. It costs 3 colorless mana to cast. The first ability stops a creature from being able to attack that turn, which is helpful. But once you get 3 brick counters on the Edifice, you get to stop that creature from attacking, blocking, or activating its activated abilities. It’s a rather defensive card, but cleverly designed and useful in this deck.
The second brick counter card is Luxa River Shrine. Paying 1 mana to gain 1 life seems underwhelming, but it’s worth doing to get to 3 brick counters. Once you do, you get to tap for a free 2 life every turn, which is great for tempo.
The last of the three artifacts in the deck is also the other rare in the deck, Oracle’s Vault. Gaming Successfully has reviewed the Vault before, and found it to be an extremely useful card. Its first ability is decent, if not exciting, allowing you to exile the top card of your deck and play it that turn if able. But once you get to 3 counters, you get to use the second ability to play that exiled card for free! That could even be Liliana herself!
The Enchantments in the deck are very solid, too. It features two Trials and four Cartouches. One of the cooler interactions in Amonkhet, the Trials are enchantments that do something and stay in play until you play a Cartouche, when you can then return them to your hand. In this deck, we have two copies of Trial of Ambition. This 2-mana Enchantment forces your opponent to sacrifice a creature. It then just sits in play until you get to play a Cartouche.
The Cartouches are Aura Enchantments which are pretty cool. There are two copies of each Cartouche of Ambition and Cartouche of Strength. The Cartouche of Ambition gives you a chance to put a -1/-1 counter on a target creature, as well as giving one of your own creatures +1/+1 and lifelink. The Cartouche of Strength allows the enchanted creature to fight an opponent’s creature and gives it +1/+1 and trample. Being able to reuse the Trial of Ambition multiple times in a game is a powerful play.
The last non-creature spell in the deck is Gift of Paradise. It costs 2G to cast and enchants a land. When it enters play, you gain 3 life, plus that land can now produce 2 mana of any one color you choose.
Thoughts on the Deck
Overall, for an introductory deck, the Liliana, Death Wielder Planeswalker Deck has lots of great synergies in it. It plays well with the -1/-1 counter theme of the set, while giving you ways to accelerate your mana production to get to your Liliana. Also, the creatures are overall aggressive, and there are ways to gain life back in the deck. So while your big pieces in the deck are higher-costed, the deck has ways to keep you in the game while you prepare Liliana, Death Wielder to hit the board.
While I don’t ever seeing this deck actually profiting you in regards to what the cards in it are worth, this is a nice start to a black/green deck that’s certainly playable at your kitchen table. Compared to the Gideon, Martial Paragon deck, this deck is the one I would choose between the two Amonkhet Planeswalker decks.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
Looking for a new, active Magic the Gathering blog, forum, podcast, or YouTube Channel to follow? There are tons of good MTG content creators out on the internet. Here are some of the top blogs and other content creators that we at Gaming Successfully have found.
The list is in alphabetical order, as we think that ranking them isn't fair. This is because that we believe that each blog, as long as it is well-presented and well-written enough to enjoy, has its own flavor and value to add to the Magic the Gathering community.
We will be adding to this best MTG blogs list on a fairly regular basis. We will also be revising it to remove those sadly no longer kept current. If you have a blog that you'd like to see added to our list, let us know in the comments!
(Note: Some great Magic resources such as Deckbox, MTG Stocks, and Tappedout are not listed here because they are not technically blogs. Those are for another article! However, I AM including forums, podcasts, and video series that are still active.)
So without further ado, here is our list.
AlbyMTG (YouTube Channel)
A YouTube channel about talking about playing with cardboard. Gotta love that! Better check out this video about the Top 5 Rabbits in Magic the Gathering!
Magic the Gathering designer Mark Rosewater is extremely active on social media connecting with MTG fans all the time. His Tumblr blog Blogatog is full of fan Q&A, his famous little comic Tales From the Pit, among other MTG related things. Even if you're not really a Tumblr user, it's still worth looking at.
Brainstorm Brewery (http://brainstormbrewery.com/category/articles/) - PODCAST
While most famous for their podcasts, Brainstorm Brewery does publish articles on occasion, although it's been a bit. Their podcast is great, though, too. So if you're into Magic podcast banter, this is a must-listen.
Breakfast with Nerds (YouTube Channel)
This YouTube channel has both Magic: the Gathering and Pokemon Trading Card Game content. New episodes on Wednesdays & Saturdays. Check them out!
The Card Bazaar (YouTube Channel)
Most famous for their Magic the Gathering History series, Card Anthology!
The Casual Crusader (www.casualcrusader.com)
Casual MTG players unite! The Casual Crusader is a great blog that looks at Magic from a casual point of view.
Channel Fireball (www.channelfireball.com/articles)
One of the bigger MTG retailers, Channel Fireball has a lot of great Magic strategy and decklist articles. They have some of the best players in the game writing for them, including co-founder Luis Scott-Vargas, better known as LSV. Their YouTube Channel features pros blowing up the world with all kinds of decks, including LSV himself. But the content is accessible for every level of Magic player.
Chuck Wagon MTG (YouTube Channel)
An up and coming YouTube channel who is "Making the world a better place, one booster pack at a time..."
Crazy About Magic the Gathering (https://crazyaboutmtg.wordpress.com/)
A contributor to Gaming Successfully, Kai Chang has his own blog, Crazy About Magic the Gathering, and it's getting better all the time. This isn't just because he's written for this site; his blog is good.
Daily MTG (http://magic.wizards.com/en/content/articles)
No list of MTG blogs would be complete without Daily MTG, which is Wizards of the Coast's official blog. It's pretty good, too. Mark Rosewater's Making Magic articles are among the most popular on there, and for good reason!
EDHREC Articles (articles.edhrec.com)
The premier resource for EDH deck lists and deck building resources now has articles! It's great to see quality blogging being done on one of my favorite Magic the Gathering sites ever.
Gathering Magic (www.gatheringmagic.com)
Once known as Mana Nation, Gathering Magic is one of the premier Magic the Gathering blogs on the internet. Owned by CoolStuff Inc, it has some of the best Magic writers around. The sheer diversity of content on their site is what makes them so good. They cover pretty much any format you can think of.
General Damage Control (www.generaldamagecontrol.com)
If you're looking for a solid EDH / Commander blog, General Damage Control is a good one. The series about Generals (Commanders) that Deserve Their Bad Reputation is particularly good!
Hipsters of the Coast (www.hipstersofthecoast.com)
A fun Magic blog that's been starting to get more Hearthstone content, if you're into that sort of thing. Still a good MTG blog regardless.
If Lands Could Kill (http://mtgcast.com/author/knifecityalchemist) - PODCAST
This podcast was suggested to us. Their byline reads: "Magic: the Gathering for novices, by novices. Weekly comedy MTG podcast and not-so-weekly Versus videos." Good stuff.
Jake and Joel are Magic (YouTube Channel)
Another great YouTube channel. Jake and Joel's 8 minute deck techs are Magic!
King of Jank (YouTube Channel)
Do you like (really bad) jokes and MTG? You came to the right place! XD
Kitchen Table MTG Forum (www.kitchentablemtg.com/forum/)
While technically not a blog, the Kitchen Table MTG forum has some great discussion threads going on a regular basis. It's definitely worth checking out.
And actually they do have some blogs, it appears.
Land Drop Go (www.landdropgo.com)
This newer Magic the Gathering blog already has some fine articles on it, including what looks to be a great article series about drafting. Definitely worth checking out!
MTGandMe (YouTube Channel)
This YouTube channel has great old school openings, crack-a-packs and random buys! Great stuff and worth subscribing to!
Quiet Speculation (www.quietspeculation.com)
While this MTG finance oriented blog is mostly subscription-based, there is some free content on here occasionally that's worth reading. Also, some of the free Trader Tools are good if you like to watch price trends.
While first and foremost a MTG card store, their blog has been taking a lot of content submissions recently. The writing there is pretty good, and they feature Magic with Zuby's podcast there, as well.
Life Begins at 20 - YouTube Channel
This UK MTG YouTuber has taken off pretty fast. He has a lot of Cube-related content, among other things.
Magic at TCGPlayer (magic.tcgplayer.com)
It's no secret that Magic the Gathering is one of TCGPlayer's top sellers. So it's not surprising that they pay people to write articles for them. They actually have one of the oldest Magic blogs out there. It's still one of the better ones.
Magic Judge Rules Blog (blogs.magicjudges.org/rulestips/)
While Magicjudges.org is mostly just about Magic the Gathering Judges news, they do have a useful blog about Magic Rules Tips. It has some useful advice that's worth checking out.
Magic the Gathering Adventures (http://mtgadventures.blogspot.com/)
What I especially like about this MTG blog is the unique deck builds found here. This blog has been around a long time, too. It has lots of pictures!
Magic with Zuby (http://magicwithzuby.com/) - PODCAST
Great podcast for Magic the Gathering fans to definitely listen to on a regular basis. Also, check out his YouTube channel, Gaming with Zuby, for occasional MTG content.
Mana Leak (http://www.manaleak.com/mtguk/)
A tabletop gaming website from the UK, they have a huge Magic the Gathering section. It does feature other games, as well, but there's plenty of Magic content published all the time.
Modern Nexus (www.modernnexus.com)
A blog purely about Magic's Modern format. It's one of the best Modern format blogs out there for sure.
MP Numbers (YouTube Channel/Twitch Streamer)
An affiliated streamer who plays MTG, as well as Hearthstone, and the Eternal Card Game.
MTG Canuck (YouTube Channel)
Cracking open booster boxes and booster packs on his YouTube channel from Ottawa, Ontario.
MTG Card Market (http://articles.mtgcardmarket.com/category/articles/)
A fairly large MTG and gaming store, MTG Card Market also maintains a pretty good blog worth reading.
MTG Color Pie (mtgcolorpie.com)
MTG Color Pie advertises itself as "A Magic: The Gathering blog about card design, humor and community." It's mostly about Magic card design, which is awesome!
MTG Goldfish (www.mtggoldfish.com)
Goldfish has become one of the top MTG blogs on the planet. A lot of that has to do with Seth, better known as SaffronOlive. One of the best deck brewers around, he's as famous for his butchering card names as he is for his very creative decks, many of which go on to produce some good tournament results. But everything on the site is good, especially their metagame analysis and various video series.
MTG Headquarters (https://www.youtube.com/user/mtgheadquarters)
One of the more polarizing figures in the Magic the Gathering Community, we've been watching his channel since the beginning. He makes some of the best Magic product openings out there. No matter how you feel about his opinions on things, he does still produce great videos. He also probably has the best giveaways ever.
MTG Lion (www.youtube.com/user/mtglion)
Another channel we've been watching since early on, MTG Lion has been through a couple of name changes. He deals primarily with MTG finance topics, so if that's not your speed, that's OK. But he does some great contests and his opinions on cards are absolutely spot on more often than not.
MTG Price (blog.mtgprice.com)
While you need a PROTRADER subscription to access a lot of their content, the financial insights into Magic the Gathering available for free are still quite good. While many hate the MTG Finance crowd, there's still good content here nevertheless. And what's available for free is actually pretty good.
MTG Realm (mtg-realm.blogspot.com)
This blog is focused on community news and spoilers from upcoming Magic sets. It's one of the more popular out on the Web.
MTG Salvation (www.mtgsalvation.com)
While Salvation is primarily forums now, there are still some good articles to be read on here. Their quality control isn't quite what it was years back, but it's a good community site.
MTG Spotlight (YouTube Channel)
A Teenage Magic: the Gathering YouTuber who likes to make videos for no profit. (Kind of like I used to be with Yu-Gi-Oh, ha, ha!)
Paper Champion (paperchampion.net)
This blog has a lot of great contributors of both Magic the Gathering articles and YouTube videos. Definitely one worth following.
Path to TCGs (YouTube Channel)
YouTube channel with tons of Magic the Gathering pack openings. Also features some other TCGs, including Pokemon, as well. Definitely worth checking out!
While technically a Magic the Gathering Online blog, there's a lot of content here that's still enjoyable for the both paper (traditional) Magic the Gathering.
Star City Games (www.starcitygames.com)
No MTG blog list could be complete without mentioning the articles of the premier Magic card retailer, Star City Games. While you have to be a Premier member to read a lot of their articles, the Select (free) articles are worth reading, too! As one of the first major MTG content creators, it's no surprise that they're still one of the best MTG blogs around. You should also check out their YouTube Channel.
Sylvan MTG (YouTube Channel)
These guys Standard Throwbacks videos are a must watch. Love watching old Standard decks go head to head!
Sylvan Studies (www.sylvanstudies.com)
"Magic The Gathering news, articles, and forums - all under one roof." That's the mission of one of the newer MTG blogs out there, Sylvan Studies. It's definitely worth following!
Temporal MTG (YouTube Channel)
Another up-and-coming MtG YouTuber. Subscribe today!
The Mana Source - YouTube Channel
Wedge is one of our favorite MTG content creators, so of course, The Mana Source is going to be on this list. He covers a wide variety of topics, so there's a video for everybody!
The Whole Box & Dice - YouTube Channel
I'm especially fond of the "Can We Flip It?" series from this MtG YouTube from New South Wales, Australia.
Tolarian Community College - YouTube Channel
The "Professor" has become a big hit among the Magic the Gathering community. His product reviews are the best, and his deck tech videos are awesome. We particularly like his box break games, where he tries to make back the value in a box, and keeps breaking them until he doesn't.
TotalMTG - YouTube Channel
Lots of great deck techs on this channel! While many of them are based on building them on a budget on Magic the Gathering Online (MTGO) they are still great lists nonetheless!
Transcendent MTG - YouTube Channel
A YouTuber who is, and I quote, "interested in growing and expanding the Magic community on all platforms."
TriHards Podcast @ MTGCast
This MTGCast podcast was suggested by a reader. Seems like a good one!
Young Mage (www.youngmage.com)
A really cool website and YouTube channel which features one of the youngest members of the Magic: the Gathering community. But don't let his age fool you. He's a great Magic Player and Teacher. Check out his website and YouTube channel.
This list is completely subjective, made from personal searches and suggestions. We were not in any way compensated for any listing in this "Best Of" article.
by ElspethFTW, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Magic: the Gathering's Apocalypse set has some interesting commons and uncommons, including Goblin Ringleader, Sylvan Messenger, Fire // Ice, and Gerrard's Verdict. But one card to definitely not overlook is an artifact called Dragon Arch.
For 5 mana, you are able to drop a multi-colored creature onto the battlefield for the cost of only a tap and 2 colorless mana. If you need another way to cheat Dragons into play, this is definitely it.
Interestingly enough, you'd expect a card like this to be bought out at some point with the amount of casual appeal it should have. The best Dragon cards, in particular, are multicolored. But you don't have to play Dragons to make it work. It can be any multicolored creature, and there are plenty of them out there. A mere 5 mana investment is easily worth what this card can do.
There aren't too many EDH / Commander decks that can't use Dragon Arch. With Wizards printing many powerful multicolored creatures in recent sets, Dragon Arch makes cards like the Tarkir Dragonlords and other splashy bombs that have multiple color symbols in their casting costs a lot more palatable to play. Yeah, there's plenty of artifact removal out there, but you only have to get one or two high powered creatures out into play using this card and it's well worth the mana investment.
As of April 2017, this card typically retails for about $1.50 - $2.00 USD with foils selling for roughly 5 times that amount. During late 2016, Dragon Arch foils hit nearly $17 on average before falling to around $10 by the beginning of 2017. You would think that a card with as straightforward a power level as this would be gobbled up by casual players and Commander aficionados everywhere. While some foil copies have certainly disappeared, they are still out there to be had.
The most valuable cards in Apocalypse, outside of Vindicate, have been reprinted at least once. Dragon Arch has not seen a reprint, and it likely won't see one anytime soon. If you want a copy, you should pick one up before it suddenly gets bought out and the price skyrockets out of control. Dragons are always going to be popular, but this card only needs multicolored creatures to be good. Those are always being printed, so this is a great artifact to have in your collection.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
When Hydra Broodmaster was first revealed during Journey into Nyx spoiler season, Hydra fans were quick to salivate over her. It's hard not to like a 7/7 for 4GG (6 mana), which is already above average. However, the Monstrosity ability in a Mono-Green Devotion or Kruphix, God of Horizons-based ramp deck looked like it could be extremely deadly.
Not only can the Broodmaster create a lot of tokens, but those tokens become larger the more mana you invest into it. It is a double X cost, which means you need to have quite an available investment to pump into her. But pouring even 8G into the ability, a reasonable sum for a Green deck in the late game, gives you 4 4/4 Hydra tokens, plus an 11/11 Broodmaster. That's quite an end-game weapon.
Obviously, some players saw the Broodmaster as a big target for all of the colorless mana that Kruphix, God of Horizons can help to collect for you. At the time, it was still certainly one of the better Hydras that had been printed at rare outside of Mistcutter Hydra - a big deal sideboard card at the time. Unfortunately, Kruphix Ramp decks, even aided by the Prophet of Kruphix, never made much noise in Constructed.
However, Hydra Broodmaster would not find herself limited to being a bomb in draft. Hydra Broodmaster would in fact enjoy some competitive, top table Standard play. Three 2014 State Championship decks ran a copy of Hydra Broodmaster as a finisher in their Mono Green Devotion builds, including this 2nd place finisher in Maryland. She also found herself in several Top 8 Magic Online Standard decks, including this tournament winner that ran one copy of her in the sideboard.
While Hydra Broodmaster only had a short time in the Standard sun, in Commander she has since joined forces with the very same Kruphix, God of Horizons that people thought she would team up with in Standard. The Broodmaster appears in a great many Kruphix decks. Other Commanders that have welcomed her into the fold include Omnath, Locus of Mana (who has plenty of mana to spare), Trostani, Selesyna's Voice, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, Rosheen Meanderer, and many others.
Hydra Broodmaster may never be an expensive card. But the Clash Pack promotional foil is always trending upwards. Also, sales consistently being made on the regular printing, so there is non-zero demand for this creature. It's a good one to pick out of bulk boxes, for sure.