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The Joy of Commander

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.

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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)

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So with States nearly upon our US readers, its the perfect time for another review of the online metagame with Decks of the Week. As much as BDM and Randy gushed about the Jund-beating Naya Lightsaber deck from worlds, it seems MTGO did not get the memo as Jund was far, far and away the best deck again this week. Of 457 decks featured in the Decks of the Week, Jund was 220 of them, or 48%. This is beyond Fae level dominance and despite the many pros saying this or that deck beats Jund, the cold hard numbers say Jund is winning more often than not. If you are preparing for online play or for a tournament like states and you want to win, either just play Jund or make damn sure you have a reasonable matchup against it.

Total Decks: 457

Jund: 220

There were so many Jund decks this week I decided to break them down into subtypes. While the basic cards are consistent across all Jund decks, there are several variations in a few key cards. The most popular variant is Siege-Gang Jund at 100 decks, which cuts a few spells to fit in the mighty goblin finisher. In a close second is a more Traditional Jund with 82 decks, the only new card these guys seem to be playing is Borderland Ranger in an effort to fight Goblin Ruinblaster. In descending order of popularity, we also have Master of the Wild Hunt (18 decks), Chandra Nalaar (7), Vampire Nighthawk (4), Lotus Cobra (4), Dragon Broodmother (2), Malakir Bloodwitch (2), and Sedraxis Specter (2) featuring in some slightly innovative Jund decks. All still rely on the power of Bituminous Blast, Bloodbraid Elf and Blightning, however. Rampant Growth is also featuring more and more, and Sprouting Thrinax seems to be taking a dip in popularity.

Example Jund featuring SCG

Pigao (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009

4  Dragonskull Summit
3  Forest
3  Mountain
4  Rootbound Crag
4  Savage Lands
3  Swamp
4  Verdant Catacombs
25 lands

4  Bloodbraid Elf
4  Broodmate Dragon
3  Siege-Gang Commander
4  Sprouting Thrinax
15 creatures

4  Bituminous Blast
4  Blightning
4  Lightning Bolt
3  Maelstrom Pulse
3  Rampant Growth
2  Terminate
20 other spells

Sideboard
4  Goblin Ruinblaster
3  Jund Charm
4  Mind Rot
2  Pyroclasm
2  Terminate
15 sideboard cards

Boros (39) and Mono-Red (35)

The other reason Jund is doing so well is because its two metagame lieutenants here are tearing apart any deck that tries to go bigger and slower than Jund. Both of these decks are lightning fast aggro machines, and if you are looking for an alternative to slinging Bloodbraid Elves one of these two is your best bet. Quenchable Fire is surprisingly playable, as a sort-of Hellspark Elemental that is unblockable and immune to removal. Blue is so scarce in the metagame that this is a surprisingly efficient burn spell.

Example Mono Red Aggro deck

servism (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009

4  Arid Mesa
12  Mountain
4  Scalding Tarn
4  Teetering Peaks
24 lands

4  Ball Lightning
4  Goblin Guide
4  Hell’s Thunder
4  Hellspark Elemental
4  Plated Geopede
20 creatures

4  Burst Lightning
4  Earthquake
1  Elemental Appeal
4  Lightning Bolt
3  Quenchable Fire
16 other spells

Sideboard
3  Dragon’s Claw
1  Elemental Appeal
3  Goblin Bushwhacker
4  Jackal Familiar
3  Manabarbs
1  Mark of Mutiny
15 sideboard cards

Naya Lightsaber (27)

Luke Skywalker to Jund’s Darth Vader, this deck featuring Bloodbraid Elves has turned to the light side rather than the dark and is coming off the back of a world championship win. I suspect its due popularity is held back by the extreme difficulty involved in acquiring 4x Baneslayer Angel at any sort of sane price, but this deck is very powerful and must be respected in considering the metagame. There are a few Baneslayer-less builds doing well this week, I assume due to card availability as why would you cut it?

Example Naya Lightsaber list

_Tachikoma_ (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009

60 cards
4  Arid Mesa
4  Forest
3  Mountain
1  Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
4  Plains
4  Rootbound Crag
4  Sunpetal Grove
24 lands

3  Baneslayer Angel
4  Bloodbraid Elf
4  Noble Hierarch
3  Ranger of Eos
1  Scute Mob
4  Wild Nacatl
4  Woolly Thoctar
23 creatures

2  Ajani Vengeant
2  Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4  Lightning Bolt
1  Naya Charm
4  Path to Exile
13 other spells

Sideboard
1  Ajani Vengeant
4  Celestial Purge
4  Goblin Ruinblaster
4  Great Sable Stag
2  Harm’s Way
15 sideboard cards

The Rest

Past these 3 the metagame diversifies considerably, and because of space considerations I won’t be providing lists, instead I will trust in your ingenuity and ability to find lists yourselves if you want to check out any of these concoctions. Several worlds decks are represented here, as well as the fast-fading Eldrazi Green, the budget deck that could RG Valakut, and the ever present tribal decks like Vampires, Goblins and Soldiers.

RG Valakut: 16
Vampires: 14
Cavaglieri Tokens: 13
Jacerator: 11
Grixis Control: 8
RUW Control: 7
Spread ‘Em: 7
Mono W Control: 7
Dredge: 7
Eldrazi Green: 6
Mono W Aggro: 6
Bant: 5
4C Control: 4
GW Tokens: 4
GWB Cobra: 4
Magical Christmas Land: 3
Summoning Trap: 2
Blightning Beatdown: 2
Grixis Discard: 2
UB Mill: 1
Razer Landfall: 1
Goblins: 1
Soldiers: 1
Esper Stormblade: 1
Open the Vaults: 1

Decklists

Pigao (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Dragonskull Summit
Forest
Mountain
Rootbound Crag
Savage Lands
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs


25 lands

Bloodbraid Elf
Broodmate Dragon
Siege-Gang Commander
Sprouting Thrinax


15 creatures
Bituminous Blast
Blightning
Lightning Bolt
Maelstrom Pulse
Rampant Growth
Terminate


20 other spells

Sideboard

Goblin Ruinblaster
Jund Charm
Mind Rot
Pyroclasm
Terminate


15 sideboard cards
jerry_cn (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Dragonskull Summit
Forest
Mountain
Rootbound Crag
Savage Lands
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs


25 lands

Bloodbraid Elf
Broodmate Dragon
Siege-Gang Commander
Sprouting Thrinax


14 creatures
Bituminous Blast
Blightning
Lightning Bolt
Maelstrom Pulse
Rampant Growth
Terminate


21 other spells

Sideboard

Goblin Ruinblaster
Jund Charm
Maelstrom Pulse
Magma Spray
Mind Rot
Pyroclasm


15 sideboard cards
servism (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Arid Mesa
12  Mountain
Scalding Tarn
Teetering Peaks


24 lands

Ball Lightning
Goblin Guide
Hell’s Thunder
Hellspark Elemental
Plated Geopede


20 creatures
Burst Lightning
Earthquake
Elemental Appeal
Lightning Bolt
Quenchable Fire


16 other spells

Sideboard

Dragon’s Claw
Elemental Appeal
Goblin Bushwhacker
Jackal Familiar
Manabarbs
Mark of Mutiny


15 sideboard cards
Smang (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Calad (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Kikiijiki (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Smaland (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Arid Mesa
Forest
Jungle Shrine
Misty Rainforest
Mountain
Plains
Rootbound Crag
Sunpetal Grove


23 lands

Bloodbraid Elf
Knight of the Reliquary
Noble Hierarch
Ranger of Eos
Scute Mob
Wild Nacatl
Woolly Thoctar


26 creatures
Lightning Bolt
Naya Charm
Quenchable Fire


11 other spells

Sideboard

Burst Lightning
Celestial Purge
Eldrazi Monument
Naya Charm
Wall of Reverence


15 sideboard cards
Mini_Gnarls (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


The_Apologist (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Arid Mesa
Marsh Flats
Mountain
Plains
Scalding Tarn
Teetering Peaks


24 lands

Elite Vanguard
Emeria Angel
Goblin Bushwhacker
Goblin Guide
Plated Geopede
Ranger of Eos
Steppe Lynx


24 creatures
Burst Lightning
Lightning Bolt
Path to Exile


12 other spells

Sideboard

Celestial Purge
Earthquake
Harm’s Way
Journey to Nowhere
Manabarbs
Oblivion Ring
Runeflare Trap


15 sideboard cards
Kaitai (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

20  Mountain
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle


24 lands

Ball Lightning
Goblin Guide
Hell’s Thunder
Hellspark Elemental


16 creatures
Banefire
Burst Lightning
Earthquake
Elemental Appeal
Lightning Bolt
Pyroclasm
Spire Barrage


20 other spells

Sideboard

Goblin Ruinblaster
Mark of Mutiny
Punishing Fire
Volcanic Fallout


15 sideboard cards
AbsoluteGrace (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Dragonskull Summit
Forest
Mountain
Rootbound Crag
Savage Lands
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs


26 lands

Bloodbraid Elf
Broodmate Dragon
Siege-Gang Commander
Sprouting Thrinax


15 creatures
Bituminous Blast
Blightning
Lightning Bolt
Maelstrom Pulse
Rampant Growth
Terminate


19 other spells

Sideboard

Dragon’s Claw
Goblin Ruinblaster
Maelstrom Pulse
Mind Rot
Terminate


15 sideboard cards
_Tachikoma_ (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Arid Mesa
Forest
Mountain
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Plains
Rootbound Crag
Sunpetal Grove


24 lands

Baneslayer Angel
Bloodbraid Elf
Noble Hierarch
Ranger of Eos
Scute Mob
Wild Nacatl
Woolly Thoctar


23 creatures
Ajani Vengeant
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Lightning Bolt
Naya Charm
Path to Exile


13 other spells

Sideboard

Ajani Vengeant
Celestial Purge
Goblin Ruinblaster
Great Sable Stag
Harm’s Way


15 sideboard cards

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With a lack of financial news at the moment, I’d like to highlight a new resource out there that I’m surprised hasn’t been available before. I’m talking about video walkthroughs of constructed games taken from MTGO, with live commentary from the player. The amount of writing required to describe each play and keep the game state updated while describing their thought processes has kept most weekly article writers away from this type of strategy article, with one prominent exception being Richard Feldman’s One Game (SCG premium article). Though a very good article it amounts to nearly 3500 words just to cover one game.

With the advent of youtube and similar video hosting sites, however, all the nuts and bolts of describing the game are taken care of visually, and the ‘writer’ can concentrate on talking about their play choices as they are playing. This is arguably much more useful than the sideboarding plans and matchup percentages that fill out a lot of strategy articles, especially when this information can be seen put into action in real games. Two sites so far have been putting up videos:

Channel/Fireball:  LSV, Brad Nelson and Ben Stark playtesting standard matchups between the top decks.

Tends Towards Infinity: Itinerant author and podcaster Noah Winston, playing standard events on MTGO.

Hopefully these are just the first two of a new genre of magic strategy, if you’ve seen any more you’d recommend please post them in the comments!

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I’d like to talk today about a competitive standard deck that can currently be assembled very cheaply on magic online. It has been showing up in the Decks of the Week for the last few weeks, and despite some modest success it can still be put together for under 20 tickets. I’m talking about the G/R Valakut deck, and I first started testing it after reading about @RidiculousHat’s list via fivewithflores. Earlier today Josh Silvestri posted an article about it on TCGplayer, which can be found here. I recommend reading both of those esteemed writers’ takes on the deck, but here’s my current list:

Maindeck
4 Terramorphic Expanse
12 Mountain
3 Naya Panorama
2 Forest
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
4 Khalni Heart Expedition
4 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Harrow
4 Rampant Growth
4 Expedition Map
3 Lavaball Trap
4 Pyroclasm
4 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Lightning Bolt
Sideboard
4 Fiery Fall
4 Goblin Ruinblaster
3 Demolish
4 Grazing Gladehart

I am sure this is not an optimal list and it probably needs another finisher, but the important thing is that it can be assembled very cheaply. The only “expensive” card is Siege-Gang at around 1.5 tickets – Valakut is quickly rising in price, from 0.40 at the start of the week to 1.0 now, but that is still reasonable.

Lavaball Trap is an amazing card and quite underrated – you rarely pay its trap cost, but you will reach 8 mana in most games and it has such a powerful effect on the board, usually netting you 3-or-more for 1 card advantage. I’d really like a better way to fetch Valakut than Expedition Map, but it is a surprisingly decent tutor. Just remember that it goes to your hand, not into play, and that if you are going for the combo kill it is really helpful to have 2 Valakuts down as you only have a limited number of mountains available. Also keep in mind that every man and his dog are playing 4x Ruinblaster main or side, so if you can hold your Valakuts until you’re ready to kill them, do so. The sideboard looks odd and it is basically cards I’m experimenting with at the moment, but Grazing Gladeheart is surprisingly strong.

If you’ve played the deck and have an alternate take on it, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Otherwise if you’re looking to get started in Magic Online standard tournaments and you’ve only got twenty bucks to your name, you could do far worse than the GR Valakut deck.

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First off a big thankyou to Tom and everyone from Monday Night Magic – they gave me a quick plug near the end of their latest episode and blog views have surged! You can catch them at www.mtgcast.com, I highly recommend listening.

A quick note to owners of foil Crystalline Slivers – they are featured in the Premium Deck Series – Slivers precon, in foil, which will likely tank the value of your cards. If you’re counting on them to fund your retirement, I’d sell them off as soon as possible!

Crystalline Sliver

Also just quickly before going on to our regular Thursday topic, Sphinx of Jwar Isle has doubled in price on starcitygames since last week, up to $4 now. I am feeling pretty happy about the $2.25 I paid for a playset on ebay last week, how about you?

Another Thursday, another pile of decklists from wizards. Jund’s dominance on MTGO is astounding – of 161 decks that made 3-1 or better in standard premier events this week, 72 were Jund, or 44.7% of all 3-1+ decks. This may be a function of how many Jund decks are being played (a lot) but there is no doubt Jund is the deck to beat. Maelstrom Pulse seems to have found its level, stable at around $20, while Verdant Catacombs is rising offline – to around $18 – and slipping online, down to $6.50.

Maelstrom Pulse

Next on the list of most succesful decks is still Boros, way down at 20/161, or a respectable 12.4%. There is not much to say with regard to this deck; most of its cards are commons and uncommons and the 12 fetchlands it plays are holding fairly steady. We have several similarly succesful decks next, with Nissa Revane decks, Green/White aggro, Monored (including one Goblins deck) and Vampires showing up around 8 times each. The more rogue decks include Mike Flores’ GWB Ramp, GR Valakut, UWR Control, Monowhite Control, Warp World combo, Bant, Naya and anti-Jund White Weenie. None of these decks are particularly cheap to build and Boros is still my pick for the budget concious competitive player, but I’ll highlight a few cards that could take off if these decks do.

Nissa Revane: $10

Nissa Revane

Nissa’s price is fair at the moment, but I also think she’s severely underrated. She has a similar sleeper quality about her to Elspeth, who was originally dismissed as irrelevant. Ignore the final ability for the time being, and just think about how much time a free 2/3 each turn, or gaining 4-6 life a turn can buy you against aggro. The only strike against her is her vulnerability, as Lightning Bolt or Blightning both handily take care of her the turn after she comes out. Even in this case she leaves behind a 2/3 which, while not what you want to do with 4 mana, is not terrible. She also pairs extremely well with Eldrazi Monument, giving you an endless stream of dudes to feed to the slumbering god while the rest of your indestructible flying team is protecting her. I could see her closer to $20 next year, depending on how the standard metagame develops. On a related note I can’t believe that Sarkhan Vol is still going for over ten bucks, that guy hasn’t done anything relevant yet!

Siege-Gang Commander, $2.75

Siege-Gang Commander

This guy is constantly bouncing in and out of standard playability – he took a hit with the M10 rules, but he is still a major threat and features in most of the GR Valakut decks and Warp World decks, as well as the single Goblins deck. Honestly you should just grab your playset and hang on to them, because this guy is always going to be in consideration for red decks and especially token decks. He has a lot of irons in the fire, so to speak, and if any one of his decks takes off he will rise in value.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle – $1

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

The molten namesake of a reasonably well represented new deck, GR Valakut, this card is a bargain at the moment. Sure it was the release promo but this is even featuring in extended combo decks with Scapeshift. I guarantee these will rise, especially with another land matters set on the way in Worldwake.

Rogue List of the Week

A couple of lists jumped out at me this week, including a controlling non-Vampire Monoblack list, a Crypt of Agadeem combo list, and this spicy little number from Smaland, who went 3-1. Its not obvious at first what this deck does, but it revolves around the overlooked Runeflare Trap. The rest of the deck is additional burn, plus a lot of bounce and Howling Mine effects to fill the opponent’s hand and trigger the trap cost of Runeflare Trap. Jace, Howling Mine and Time Warp mean this deck isn’t exactly cheap, but it sure looks like fun!

Smaland (3-1)
Standard Daily #650654 on 11/02/2009

Main Deck

60 cards
4  Arid Mesa
8  Island
5  Mountain
4  Scalding Tarn
21 lands

0 creatures

2  Burst Lightning
3  Font of Mythos
4  Howling Mine
3  Into the Roil
3  Jace Beleren
4  Lightning Bolt
4  Ponder
4  Runeflare Trap
3  Spell Pierce
3  Time Warp
4  Unsummon
2  Whiplash Trap
39 other spells

Sideboard

3  Earthquake
3  Flashfreeze
3  Negate
3  Pyroclasm
3  Swerve
15 sideboard cards

Recommendations

Buy: Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

Sell: Any old foil slivers whose value depends on their rarity.

Thanks for reading folks, I’d love to hear what you like or don’t like by email, twitter or in the comments.

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Hi all, just a quick post today to talk about a couple of different things. First I’d like to highlight a good article by Marcus Rehnberg over on PureMTGO about the cost of being competitive in the different formats on Magic Online. I’d recommend at least skimming the whole thing, but for those of you with short attention spans the cheapest decks for standard at the moment are; the Nissa Revane deck, Vampires, Burn and Boros Bushwhacker ranging from $87 to $117. Boros is a deceptively good investment however as most of its cost is tied up in fetchlands, as discussed in yesterday’s Blue Chips. Jund is significantly more at $174, but thats nothing on the various Baneslayer decks up close to the $300 mark. He also notes that despite the high initial price barrier to getting into Classic, you rarely have to buy new cards to stay competitive as your old cards never rotate out. Something to think about!

I’d also like to quickly mention two events happening this weekend that I’ll be keeping an eye on for standard tech & the subsequent price adjustments, firstly the Starcitygames Nashville $5k. While pros are unlikely to be giving away their hot tech so close to Worlds and I’m expecting a sea of Jund, it’s very possible that someone not on the tour has cracked the format and wants to make $2000 for doing so.

The second event I’d like to mention is the MTGO Community Cup Challenge, which paper players may not have heard about. Essentially Wizards of the Coast have invited several prominent MTGO writers, community leaders and the like to visit WotC HQ and play a tournament with R&D and MTGO staff. They aren’t getting people from the mail room either, Mark Rosewater and Aaron Forsythe are on their teams for some of the formats and check out the unified standard team WotC is putting up:

* Adriana Moscatelli

* Chris Kiritz

* Eric Sorensen

* Erik Lauer

* Lee Sharpe

* Mike Turian

* Tolena Thorburn

* Tom LaPille

This is the format I’ll be paying the most attention to. This is the same standard you or I play, but with a twist – unified means that only 4 of any card can be in the 8 decks each team uses, meaning they can only have 4x Baneslayer Angel, 4x Path to Exile, 4x Arid Mesa and so on across the whole team. This will be a great chance for tier-2 cards and decks to be shown off and with some of the foremost magic minds in the world (they make the cards after all!) designing the decks for the wizards team I can’t wait to see what they cook up. Then it’s a short fortnight to Worlds, where the pros will have another crack at extended and their first try at Zendikar standard. It’s an exciting time of year to be following magic.

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