Played a game of Commander on MODO last night with @mtgsalivanth and two strangers, Alfgorn and cbarge who were nonetheless swell guys. Generals and turn order were as follows:

plarp – Intet, the Dreamer

cbarge – Savra, Queen of the Golgari

Salivanth – Sedris, the Traitor King

Alfgorn – Kodama of the North Tree

cbatrge was eliminated first as he was going off with Endrek Sahr and Savra which upset the table, especially Alfgorn. Salivanth played Vicious Shadows which spelled the end for cbarge’s sacrifice-laden deck, and Salivanth looked to be cruising to victory on the back of his gamebreaking enchantment as none of us could find removal for it.

On turn 12, Salivanth cast Plague Wind, leaving him with Vicious Shadows, Sphinx of Lost Truths, Kiku, Night’s Whisper and 31 life to the empty boards of Alfgorn on 17 and I on 13. Alfgorn resummoned his general and I played Spellbound Dragon with two cards in hand. The following turn, Salivanth tried to seal the game with Artisan of Kozilek – but I had Gather Specimens, that had been in my opening hand, for the steal! Alfgorn played Sosuke and attacked Salivanth to 25.

On my turn 14 I had Artisan of Kozilek, Spellbound Dragon and Jace Beleren. I drew Roil Elemental, but I had no land. Using Jace I drew Akroma the Red, then I remembered my Petrified Field! I returned Terramorphic to my hand, played, Roil Elemental, played Terramorphic and stole both of the tapped out Salivanth’s creatures. On the attack I drew Lightning Greaves and discarded Akroma to attack Salivanth for 21… until a Ferocious Charge from Alfgorn sealed the deal, Salivanth goes to exactly zero!

I played and equipped the Lightning Greaves and Alfgorn made a Saproling on my end step. On his turn he enchanted it with Blanchwood Armor, making it an 11/11! I was forced to chump block with Roil Elemental, going to 4 vs Alfgorn’s 18 and needing to win this turn. I untapped and drew Mordant Dragon, cast it, equipped Greaves. 8 power of dragons ready to swing. I needed a 10 cost card for Spellbound Dragon. Drawing off Jace gave me Mulldrifter, and I used the Mind Spring in my hand to draw 5 cards including Lavaball Trap, but it wasn’t enough. If I had 1 more mana I could have played the Punishing Fire in my hand for the win, but Alfgorn wins on 2 life.

Commander is a fantastically fun format when you get some good friendly players together, and I highly recommend trying it out. I built my Intet deck for under 20 tickets just using cards I liked and it is a barrel of laughs.

M11 Pooled Spoilers!

Welcome everyone, to the first proper spoiler post for Gwafa’s Bazaar. We’re bringing you our views on the three cards you’re bound to see all over the place today – Scroll Thief, Bloodcrazed Goblin, and War Priest of Thune! It is a bit hard to comment on the financial significance of commons and uncommons and every other man and his blog is going to be discussing their uses in limited or constructed play, so I am just going to jot down some musings on these three brand new cards. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

‘Nothing puts me in a worse mood when I’m trying to enjoy a quiet night off from walking the planes than finding a freaking fish person rummaging through my scrolls. There used to be a snake that hassled me in the same way, but at least it didn’t kick me on the way through! Fortunately if I catch him in time I can fry that blasted merman with a bolt of lightning and it’s no real skin off my nose if my foe gleans some knowledge from my missing scrolls – it’s the cleaning up I have to do afterwards.’

It will be fun to play with Ophidian in limited for sure. It doesn’t have inbuilt evasion like Thieving Magpie or Looter il-Kor, but if there is good enough bounce or removal around it shouldn’t be too hard to get in for a couple of extra cards – and in a controlling limited deck, that advantage can make all the difference. I don’t see me picking this over Sea-Gate Oracle for constructed any time soon, but stranger things have happened! Mostly I want to see how @Norbert88 responds to this card. Will he be pleased/disappointed by this magpie wannabe?

Bloodcrazed Goblin

Life isn’t easy being a one drop goblin. Wizards have to keep finding new ways for you to be wacky and questionably playable, but somehow they keep doing it. This goblin is dependent entirely on the cards around him – if there is something like Sulfuric Vortex to pair him with, he’s – well, he’s still pretty bad. Sorry little buddy, but even at 3/3 we would have to try pretty hard to make you worthwhile.

The flavour text on this card could be describing R&D’s approach to the game over the last few years – keep your spells out of our good honest creature battles, you durned planeswalkers! Really though, this guy is perfectly playable. His level of play will be determined by the questions that he answers – will there be enchantments that need to be blown up in M11 limited? In standard? He is like a much easier to cast Gatekeeper of Malakir, if we assume that killing an enchantment is as good as Edicting your opponent. It isn’t. Except when it is! This kills Spreading Seas and Oblivion Ring which are the major standard worries I can think of, which could be enough. Elspeth can launch him as well, which is pretty nice.

Not So Extended

If you haven’t already seen it, check out the next Banned/Restricted announcement: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/95b

It contains some pretty stunning changes to the extended format which we are all taking time to digest. Essentially, by the time it is a PTQ format again, Extended will consist of everything from Lorwyn onwards. That means Kamigawa, Ravnica and Time Spiral blocks are going to be leaving us virtually at the same time as Mirrodin does. I don’t think anyone saw this coming, but the move makes sense from a tournament attendance point of view – I know I only played Extended once a year for PTQs, and if more people are going to play this new format I think it’s a good move. My only disappointment with this is that as someone who entered with Lorwyn, I’m never going to be able to play Ravnica cards in a sanctioned format short of Legacy. Ravnica still seems like the best block WotC have ever done.

But that’s beside the point! Change is here, change is now, and the witty trader has to adapt to keep ahead of the game. My collection will be suffering in terms of value  on shocklands and goyfs, but this is prime time for making quick gains as speculation runs wild over this exciting new format. Check out Jon Medina’s post here for his thoughts: http://mtgmetagame.com/r-i-p-extended-july-1st-2010/ and Kelly Reid’s list of speculative purchases here: http://www.quietspeculation.com/2010/06/holy-crap-double-standard.html

As for me, as soon as I got home I got on MODO and bought a dozen Mistbind Cliques and Windbrisk Heights, as well as some Reflecting Pools, Secluded Glens and Gilt-Leaf Palaces. I prefer to speculate on cheaper cards in bulk, as while Thoughtseize and and Cryptic Command have seen massive gains, %-wise my Cliques are thrashing them and I stand to lose less if they don’t go anywhere.

The next big question is when to sell speculative cards? I think there are three possible options:

In the next week: Latecomers will still be buying in and stores will be replenishing their stocks. You can make back your cash and a little bit of a profit, and move onto the next quick trade.

After the EXT pro tour: More risky, as if the deck you are betting on doesn’t do anything in Amsterdam you stand to lose out. There will be a lot of excitement about the format around this time, though, so if you have 100 Sunrise Sovereigns and Giants is the dominant deck at the PT, you will reap the rewards. (Note I do not advocate speculating on Sunrise Sovereign.)

At the beginning of the next PTQ season: The long-term option, this is likely to give the best return however you will have to hold the cards for six months. In season extended cards can fetch four times what they do off season, even recognised staples like shocklands.

I think a mixture of all three is the best course. Faeries cards are super-hyped at the moment, so cashing out of them shortly seems like a good plan. Sell enough to cover your purchases, and you’ll be liquid enough to jump on any other short term opportunities that pop-up. Hold some cards for the PT, and sell any that do well, using the funds to buy into any sleepers that turn up in and around the top-8. With this diverse portfolio you should stand to make a nice profit in January, while keeping your options open elsewhere in the meantime.

One more take-away from this announcement – nothing is guaranteed. Just like BP shareholders didn’t expect their stock value to tank overnight in the wake of the oil spill, so shockland owners didn’t expect this announcement. WotC cares about the health of the game, not the value of your collection, and they will act to ensure that health.* WotC could emergency-ban Jace in standard tomorrow, or reprint it as a normal rare in M11. Magic: The Gathering is not an investment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn a profit in the short term. My advice is stay liquid, keep your eyes peeled for every speck of news, and don’t go crying over spilled milk. Any change is good for speculators. Embrace it.

Anyway, when super-extended arrives you’ll be glad you have all those shocks and goyfs 😉

*(Unless you’re a legacy collector, in which case WotC got your back bro)

Hey folks, I am dead tired so I will be brief, but I top-8ed Perth regionals/national qualifiers today playing my Brilliant Ultimatum deck, called repeatedly ‘the greediest deck I’ve ever seen’ by various observers at the tournament. I am heading to bed right after this post but since twitter hungers for decklists, here we go:


4 Arcane Sanctum

4 Marsh Flats

4 Celestial Colonnade

2 Crumbling Necropolis

2 Creeping Tar Pit

1 Arid Mesa

3 Swamp

3 Island

2 Plains

1 Mountain

2 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

1 Path to Exile

4 Ponder

4 Wall of Omens

4 Spreading Seas

4 Esper Charm

4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

3 Day of Judgment

2 Liliana Vess

1 Gideon Jura

4 Brilliant Ultimatum

1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker


4 Kor Firewalker

3 Negate

1 Spell Pierce

1 Path to Exile

2 Oblivion Ring

1 Perimeter Captain

1 Celestial Purge

1 Mind Shatter

1 Telemin Performance

More content during the week on Mananation. If you have any questions or suggestions for a deck name, please leave a comment!

Check out part one of my Financial Review of the new set over at ManaNation! Part 2 to follow tomorrow.

Just a quick and dirty post-pre-release look at a few cards that surprised me. For the record I tried to play all my Eldrazi (including Emrakul), and it didn’t work out so well for me (0-3 in matches).

Valakut Fireboar: As a 1/7 or 7/1 for 5 I was underwhelmed by this guy in the spoiler. He made the cut in my deck as a decent red blocker, but he is actually outstanding when combined with Umbras. Anytime I got Boar Umbra on Fireboar things got very awkward for my opponent, as I attacked with a 10/4 that couldn’t die. He is also excellent at holding the ground, as there are a number of 5 power trampling guys in the format looking to cause trouble. Not a bomb by any means, but certainly a reasonable sealed card.

Hada Spy Patrol: Levellers are really, really good in this format, and so is evasion. This guy has both, and when you expect the game to go on for 10+ turns swinging over and over with a 3/3 shroud unblockable is a fantastic plan that is actually quite hard to stop. More about levellers below, but I just wanted to highlight this guy and say there is almost no reason not to play him in your blue deck – even if you are planning to gum up the board and play Eldrazi, this guy will happily plug away at your opponent and demand removal, and you may just win the game by accident while trying to get up to 10 mana.

Knight of Cliffhaven: This guy is a perfect example of why levellers are better than people think they are. 5 mana for a Kor Skyfisher seems like a bad deal, but thats not the point.

There are usually two kinds of limited creatures – Bears and Wurms. Bears are good in the early game, and aggressive decks like to play a lot of them to attack the opponent on the early turns. Wurms are good in the late game, and by the time Wurms come out Bears are pretty much irrelevant. If you can play 1 Wurm a turn and your opponent is playing 1 Bear, you will win. You gain a sort of virtual card advantage by making your opponent’s cards useless.

The reason levellers are good is because they are both Bears and Wurms. Knight of Cliffhaven starts at 2/2 and attacks once or twice, then your opponent plays a Vent Sentinel. With a normal 2/2 creature, attacking is now not an option as you will just be destroyed by the Vent Sentinel. Knight of Cliffhaven maintains its relevance into the late turns by levelling up. If your opponent can’t leverage the virtual card advantage granted by their defenders, they are going to have to find some real removal to take care of your leveller. If they’re using their precious removal cards in the late game on what was originally a Grizzly Bears, that leaves the rest of your guys to run rampant.

So, that’s all I have to add to the discussion of RoE limited at this stage. Let me know what you think in the comments, or catch me on twitter if you’ve got a post of your own for me to read!

Working on my article for ManaNation this week I started looking closely at Joraga Treespeaker. Here’s the spoiler again for reference:

Forget the last ability. Joraga Treespeaker basically reads as follows:

Joraga Treespeaker G

Echo 1G

tap: add GG to your mana pool


This is some crazy ramp! In your opener you drop it on turn 1, then the second turn you level it up once and immediately have another 2 mana open which you can use for whatever two drop you would have played without levelling, like Overgrown Battlement. Turn 3 you untap with 6 mana available, even with just Treespeaker you’ve still got 5. Lotus Cobra is too slow to keep up with this uncommonly powerful elf!

Looking at other mana ramp strategies brought me to Conley’s Magical Christmas Land deck from Worlds, which would get ahead on mana with Cobra, Khalni Heart Expedition and Harrow and then put the opponent way behind with land destruction spells. When your opponent is stranded permanently in stage 1 with just one or two lands they will have no answer to big dudes like Rampaging Baloths. While a mono-green Treespeaker based version obviously can’t top its curve with Violent Ultimatum, there are a couple of other options at 8 mana I’d like to try – Terastodon, and Ulamog’s Crusher. Now that you know where I’m coming from, here’s an off the cuff list.

Christmas Tree

21 Forest

4 Eldrazi Temple

4 Joraga Treespeaker

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Overgrown Battlement

4 Growth Spasm

3 Awakening Zone

3 Garruk Wildspeaker

4 Acidic Slime

4 Mold Shambler

3 Terastodon

4 Ulamog’s Crusher

2 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

This list is about as rough as it gets, and I really think some more land destruction spells would be good. A red splash for maindeck Ruinblaster or Demolish might be worth investigating but I want to give the mono-green version a try first of all. Keeping the opponent off their mana while presenting diverse problems like Garruk and Awakening Zone should in theory buy us time to land one of the big game enders, which could be as early as turn 4. Feel free to discuss the idea or offer suggestions in the comments, if you give it a go in testing please let me know how it works out.