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Avacyn Restored Mechanics in Limited (First Impressions)

Avacyn Restored Prerelease weekend has come and gone, and release weekend is literally right around the corner. Now with some more free-time at my disposal I’ll take the opportunity to discuss my first impressions of Avacyn Restored’s mechanics in a limited environment. At prerelease I got a rather decent pool of cards that ended up becoming a rather powerful Boros Humans build with Herald of War, Riders of Gavony, and Divine Deflection being my bombs (or cutest combat trick in the case of DD). Without further ado, let us discuss mechanics.

MIRACLE:

Miracle I feel is at best, a double-edged sword. Even before getting the chance to play with the cards, I wasn’t a huge fan of the mechanic. There are some miracle cards I do like though, mainly Entreat the Angels and Bonfire of the Damned. Entreat being a better version of White Sun’s Zenith and Bonfire of the damned being a wide range burn spell that hits for whatever amount of damage is necessary instead of a vanilla 2 or 3 like we see in Pyroclasm and Slagstorm. I only managed to get one Thunderous Wrath out of my pool and other miracle cards were not in my chosen colors. That one Thunderous Wrath did put in some work throughout the day though, blasting annoying creatures out of the way or dealing a hefty 5 damage when it was drawn, I never did cast it for its normal mana cost. One thing that always stuck out to me when I drew the card though, was that no matter what plan I had set up for my next turn, that card would always be played instead and most of the times, I could not carry on with the original plan I had in mind. Overall, I find that  Miracle has its advantages whenever the cards pop up (or are arranged to be drawn a la Ponder, Brainstorm, etc.), but most of the time, they throw off any strategies that are set up in advance.

SOULBOND:

Now this is my favorite of the two mechanics in AVR. I do admit to being skeptical about it when Silverblade Paladin was spoiled, but having gotten the chance to try it out first hand, my mind was changed for the better. Lightning Mauler and Stonewright were the two creatures with soulbond that got played the most during the matches and I was impressed with the results both brought to the board. Lightning Mauler is easily my favorite soulbond creature, giving Herald of War haste and allowing it to acquire +1/+1 counters earlier than usual set up an imminent victory or the ability to flood the board with all my little human minions. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing this mechanic come back in other sets, but I could also see it being an AVR exclusive. Overall, the creatures I did get that had soulbond made me think highly of the mechanic, now it comes down to release to see if my first impressions were correct, or if they were influenced by a good pool of cards.

Overall, I think the mechanics of Avacyn Restored are fairly solid, but soulbond just seems to work better than Miracle. Miracle can work with the right tech. in mind, but in a format like limited where there may or may not be access to cards that complement miracle cards, the mechanic just feels more and more luck based than anything else.

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Killing With Blood and Art

Jesse Smith (aka Smi77y) has been playing around with Blood Artist, and I honestly think he has found a very neat interaction between it and a few cards, primarily in a zombies deck.  This shouldn’t be surprising as Smi77y is one of the best at finding interesting interactions.

The basic configuration is saturating the board with creatures that deal damage to your opponent upon dying.  Geralf’s Messenger, Blood Artist, Soulcage Fiend, and Diregraf Captain with Phantasmal Image to copy any of the above seems to be the best configuration.  After you have a few ways to have your creatures deal damage upon death on board, you then cast Killing Wave for one black and sac your entire team.  This damage can quickly add up to absurd amounts.

Geralf’s Messenger also opens you up the potential of having a zombie alive after your Killing Wave, allowing you to recast any Gravecrawlers you might have had on the battlefield.  That is if your opponent survives.

I think the interaction is worth looking at will definitely be something I will be testing.

Guillaume Matignon Suspension Cut Short

Hélène Bergeot, Director of Organized Play Programs and Operations, announced in an article on the Magic website that 2010 World Champion Guillaume Matignon’s suspension for leaking the entirety of New Phyrexia will be cut down from three years to one year.  He is now able to participate in DCI sanctioned events again.  Hopefully, we will see him participating at the next Pro Tour event.

Top-Down Horror

Now that we have a full picture of what the Innistrad block is, I will repeat what I said at the beginning of the block.  I hate this block.  Horror as a theme is something that I hope Magic never does again.  But, I don’t think that the theme itself was the part I hated the most about this block.  It was how the theme radiated throughout every aspect of the block.

The Innistrad block was designed completely “Top-Down.”  Meaning that Creative at Wizards came up with the theme (horror) then Design built the mechanics around that theme.  Don’t get me wrong, some nice mechanics came out of this block, but it just felt too contrived.

The “Vorthos” in me was upset that this fantasy game was focusing on horror elements.  There were just enough fantasy elements to keep me interested in the game from a lore perspective, but I hated that we were focusing on horror troupes more then anything else.

I also feel like this set was somewhat of a money-grab.  Certain horror troupes have become big money makers, and I think Wizards wanted to cash in on that.  Werewolves, vampires and (black) zombies are the biggest offenders here.

I will give credit where credit is due, and Innistrad was very well executed.  Almost every card felt like it came from some form of horror, and considering that was the goal, it succeeded.  Also, I have to admit that Wizards is dealing with a wide range of demographics, and that every set/block is going to be disappointing to someone.  It just so happened that this was my block to hate.  Thankfully, we return to a very rich fantasy realm with our next block, Return to Ravnica…

Ascension Only 99 Cents on iPhone App Store

If you haven’t played Ascension yet, you should, and for now it’s only 99 cents.  If you love Magic you will love this game, and it’s a great fix for when you just can’t play Magic (like at work).  Seriously, check this game out while it’s on sale.

A Vexing Problem, Part 2

Vexing Devil is scary to me.  Yet, there are other creatures at one mana that contend with it.  Some would argue that some of these creatures are more “powerful” then Vexing Devil.  I think that almost every card that they cite is “better” then the Devil, but none are as “powerful.”

I believe that in Magic a card being good and a card being powerful are two completely different concepts.  Draw-Go decks at one time relied on getting Rishadan Airship as their primary win condition.  Rishadan Airship was the best card to use as it’s beater, but it wasn’t the most powerful creature that Draw-Go could have used.  Morphling was certainly more powerful, but it wasn’t as good as the Airship.

In Arabian Nights a creature that could enter play as a 2/3 for one red was printed.  Kird Apes had the downfall of having to have a Forest in play for him to truly be a 2/3.  More recently we saw the beast cat that was Wild Nacatl who cost one green and if you have a Plains and a Mountain would be a 3/3.  Awesome deal for one mana, but with a slightly harder to meet condition.  Most recently we have seen the rise of the 3/2 flyer that we all love  Delver of Secrets/Insectile Aberration who cost a mere one blue with a somewhat volatile condition to transform.

All three of the cards I’ve mentioned have one thing in common.  Their drawbacks have to built around.  Kird Apes and Wild Nacatl are vanilla 1/1’s if you stay in their colors.  Delver basically has to be built around to even have a chance of flipping into his 3/2 side.  You can’t just throw any of these cards into a deck with their colors and them be powerful.  With Vexing Devil, you can.

Each of the previously mentioned one drops are better because barring counter magic they are going to hit the field.  But none of them are as powerful as Vexing Devil.

Introduction

Hello, I am TikimanBob and I shall be another contributor to the port. I currently play standard, and am also in the process of getting into Pauper and EDH. I will try to post as often as I can, but it probably will not be as frequently as Hinderless, cheers!