Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Common Design: Watchwolf

Watchwolf? Isn't that an uncommon? Yup, sure is. Part of this series is going to be looking at cards from Magic's history and seeing if they can be downshifted to common. Magic has certainly come a long way since Zvi previewed the card in 2005 and it is reasonable to ask if Watchwolf, today, could be a common. Common Cause cohost Mike Vadman did just that after our last recording session and I decided to tackle it for this column. 
As a refresher, the criteria I look at include:
  • Support casual play
  • Support limited play
  • Entry point into Magic
  • Viable for high-level constructed
  • Adheres to New World Order
  • Color Identity
First up - casual play! Watchwolf has no problems here. It is large enough that it can be an impact play at multiple points in a game. Being a 3/3 on turn two is nothing to sneeze at in tournaments or on kitchen tables. It also fits nicely into multiple green/white or Selesnya strategies - the small creature rush or the GW Little Kid Special. Watchwolf is also a card that holds up over time. Even though the eight year old luster has worn off the Wolf is still a reasonable creature by today's standards. Watchwolf might not be exciting but it has a role in casual play. In fact, it is this lack of excitement that makes it perfect for common.
Limited play is another matter entirely. Watchwolf came from Ravnica: City of Guilds, a set and block with a two color (or guild) theme. At the time of printing Watchwolf was solidly an uncommon. Today, well, it depends. Alara Reborn, another set in a multicolor block, gave us Qasali Pridemage which is sort of like a Watchwolf, only with way more text. If Watchwolf were printed today, it could likely be a common if only because creatures have gotten better as a whole since 2005.  As seen in cards like  Garruk's Companion and Porcelain Legionnaire green and white can have three power two drops at common. While the GW casting cost might be easier than the GG of Companion in a gold set, the size of the creature should not be a problem for modern design. With regards to limited play I see no reason why Watchwolf could not be common.
As a gateway to Magic, Watchwolf passes, but not at the front of the class. It does a good job of showing off white and green as the creature colors and the art is spectacular. The flavor text and art does a great job of conveying the nature Ravnica while also alluding to the unique nature of this creature. To me the big fail is the creature type. Wolf is not a heavily supported tribe and could be misleading to newcomers. However, it is still cool enough to be a common, especially if tribes were incidental to the block structure. 
Watchwolf is a card that would see high level constructed play in modern magic. Efficiency is always valued and creatures with power greater than their casting cost are always attractive. Watchwolf saw play in some of the earliest "Zoo" decks after Ravnica came out and I do not doubt it would see feature match tables today. on top of that, at common it could help enable a "cost effective" option for people looking to dip their toe in competitive play. 
The Ravnican wolf aces the New World Order test. It adds nothing to board complexity besides three power and three toughness. It would be a simple and elegant common.
Watchwolf also aces the color identity test. Green and white are the creature colors, with white getting the more creatures lower on the curve and green getting the larger creatures. Combine the two and you get a cheap and large threat. 
So is Watchwolf a common? All signs point to yes. Given the correct block structure (one that cares about multicolored cards), Watchwolf would hit every note a common should. It is an elegant execution of a simple card the exemplifies its colors. A real winner. 
And to think, it was once revolutionary...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Common Design: Quirion Ranger

Last week on #MTGPauper there was some discussion about the importance of Quirion Ranger to Stompy. The sheer amount that this elf can do got me thinking about its design and development, and whether the card would be a common under today's standards.
The metrics, for review, are:
  • Support casual play
  • Support limited play
  • Entry point into Magic
  • Viable for high-level constructed
  • Adheres to New World Order
  • Color Identity
Also, as pointed out by MTGColorPie, I am looking at a whole released card and not just the design. As such this will touch on development as well (at least in Magic terms). 
So Quirion Ranger does quite a few things. Looking at the realm of casual it appears to be a winner. It sports a casual friendly creature type in Elf, making it play nice with a wide swath of cards. Elves are omnipresent in any two year span so it is likely a less entrenched player will have access to others of the pointy eared tribe. If not, no matter- Quirion Ranger is not a tribal required card. It has utility for Johnnies as well - the ability to replay a land and untap creatures can be important to different contraptions. Not only that but the ability plays very nicely with the popular Zendikar mechanic of Landfall. It also lends itself to allowing people out of mana woes (one land can net two mana, two lands nets three) which can increase the amount of feel good in any one game. Quirion Ranger does a lot of heavy lifting and making it easy to acquire (at least in rarity) is a benefit to people playing for fun.
My experience with Mirage block limited is, well, limited. From what I know this is a format where three drops mattered (with all the Flanking knights) and cards like Man-'o-War and Fallen Askari  played important roles because they broke the "turn three" rule. Quirion Ranger is an oddity here as it could potentially aide a player in casting their three drop, but at a hefty price in tempo. Mirage block also lacked a lot of creatures with Big that could take advantage of the pseudo-Vigilance granted by the Ranger. Quirion Ranger is far more likely a limited role player, similar to the modern world's build around uncommons - key in their deck, but not so much elsewhere. I imagine it would be a beast of a one drop in triple Zendikar mono-green.
As a gateway, Quirion Ranger scores middling marks. Sure, it's an elf and provides insight into the Quirion stripe of these green staples. The art certainly implies that these elves are far more likely to be found in the jungles of Jamuraa than the snow-covered forests of Fyndhorn. The flavor text also reenforces that these elves care about the ground beneath their feet and are its stewards. This is a common fantasy trope and makes the game more accessible to newcomers. 
Quirion Ranger seems like a card that should see upper level play. It was an important card in various Recurring Nightmare- Survival of the Fittest decks, both in Standard and Extended (hah, remember Extended?) while also seeing current play in Legacy Elves!. It played nice with Winter Orb back in the day and has an effect that continues to influence Pauper Stompy today. So as far as a common goes, it succeeds here.
New World Order. Ho boy. Quirion Ranger fails miserably here. It is not just because two subsequent homages, Wirewood Symbiote and Scryb Ranger are both uncommon but also due to the way Ranger can muddy up a board state. Suddenly every Forest represents an on board trick forcing players to remember an otherwise innocuous 1/1.  Sure, this is awesome, but imagine having to do it every draft. Worse yet, the added complexity and land drop reset could lend itself to awkward judge calls. As a common Quirion Ranger could cause massive headaches in a modern limited environment.
That being said this is a color identity direct hit. Not only is it the right size and creature type for a green common, it also exemplifies green's ties to nature and shows hints of green's future adoption of Vigilance. As far as mana elves go, only the trinity of Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, and Elvish Mystic do a better job (at common, at least) of hammering home the connection to the wild world. We love lands, and we love them enabling our giant monsters. We're going to smash your face now and keep them up on defense now, kay?
The verdict? Today I am fairly certain that Quirion Ranger would be an uncommon. While it does a great job of selling the color and acting as a starting point for Magic, it also holds a level of complexity that is far too great for common now a days. But on behalf of Pauper Stompy players everywhere, I am glad this card came out in 1997 and five years later - we'd never be able to use Shinen of Life's Roar as pinpoint removal otherwise.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Common Design: Delver of Secrets

Well, this was going to come around sooner or later. One of the most offensive cards in Pauper, Delver of Secrets has made its pest like presence felt across every 60-card format in which it is legal.  The question remains - is it a good design for a common? 
A refresher on the metrics:
  • Support casual play
  • Support limited
  • Entry point into Magic
  • Viable for high-level constructed
  • Adheres to New World Order 
I want to add another one that I missed yesterday:
  • Color 
Basically, how good does the card reflect its color identity,
So Delver. On the casual play front, this card is a line drive single. Delver of Secrets creates a great moment of "will it flip" which translates to stories. Hey, remember that time you bricked on Delver for the entire game and still won? That was awesome. Delver of Secrets also allows new players to explore different avenues of deck building a design - now it makes sense to run creatures with a heavy compliment of spells. I can see the Little Kid smiling broadly as he (because in these scenarios, I'm the LK) figures out how Spellheart Chimera and Delver of Secrets work in the same deck. 
Delver of Secrets also has decent, if not fantastic repeat value. Yes, it gets tiresome when someone always flips Delver, but that's in competitive constructed. I imagine there have been far more games played with UCB Delver than Sorkin Delver. 
Also, Transform is just a cool mechanic. Getting two cards out of one is something everyone can appreciate and people who see it for the first time can genuinely appreciate both the weird and awesome in their new toy.
How about limited? Swing and a slow grounder, easy put out. Delver of Secrets presents a build around limited card of the worst kind - one that leads a player down a bad path. Limited is largely about creatures and Delver, while a creature, requires a higher density of spells than most 40 cards can supply. Normally this would be a complete miss but in the incredibly deep world of Innistrad draft, having  a two-faced blank isn't the worst thing ever.
As a gateway into Magic and the world? A ringing double. For Innistrad  this card is great. It drips Gothic Horror and dips into pop culture/high literature with allusions to both Kafka's Metamorphosis and the film The Fly. Immediately one can glean some information about this world. Nils Hamm also hits the art right on the sweet spot.
Delver of Secrets also provides a glut of information about Magic. Not only are there these things creatures, but instants and sorceries too! I wonder what other types of cards there are...
The big miss for me is the fact that Delver is a double-faced card. So far only two sets have used this technology and it could be misleading to a newcomer that this is the norm. After a few sets of cracking packs without such a card, they would get the message and I don't think that amount of feel bad is enough to drive people away from the game.
High level constructed? Just click here.
As far as New World Order goes, Delver does eat up a ton of complexity points (as does the transform mechanic). This is fine since it is a major theme of the block. Also, for all the complexity, it actually exists in two very simple states, keeping the on board complexity down. All in all, this card passes the NWO test.
How about color? Well, in the sense that blue is stupid good, so is Delver. In other words, this is a bloop single and advancing to third on defensive incompetence. Sure, Delver plays nice with blue's strength in spells but Insectile Aberration is a seriously pushed creature. If it had two power or one toughness I think it would be more in line with aggressive azure animal stats, but as is it feels a few hairs too good. Execution of color philosophy: excellent. Execution of late 90s power level: spot on. 
So is Delver of Secrets a common? Absolutely. It is a very good card that toes the power line in a format limited by rarity and helped to define Standard, but it still is not an affront to the color of its expansion symbol. In fact, it's hardly the most egregious error in Pauper Delver. To me, the cards in Delver that cause the most problems when playing against the deck, starting with the biggest, looks something like:
  1. Cloud of Faeries
  2. Ponder/Preordain
  3. Preordain/Ponder
  4. Spellstutter Sprite
  5. Delver of Secrets
Edit: I do not think any of these cards warrant being banned at the moment. Cloud of Faeries is on my personal watch list, but not for reasons related to Delver.

Aside from being on the upper deck of power level, does Delver really fail as a common - what do you think?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Common Design: Teroh's Faithful

I am trying to write more. Now that I've moved I want to write a little, every day. Some days I know I will need a prompt, and this series will hopefully serve to aide that. I am going to examine the  existence of commons through the light of the parameters I set out here and others that strike my fancy.
I wanted to get started and couldn't think of a good topic on my own so I went to Gatherer and hit "random" until a common of some interest came up. That card: Teroh's Faithful.
Since this card comes from before the advent of New World Order, I think it is important to look at that element first. With regards to on board complexity, Teroh's Faithful is actually a fantastic card. It has an enter's the battlefield effect and then sits around to act as a Horned Turtle. This is an ideal execution of the NWO. The card is elegant in design and execution but I wonder how it lends itself to repetitive game play. As Mark Rosewater often opines, Odyssey block draft was one of the Spike-ist formats of all time. Given the repeat factor of Magic Online one wonders if the four life boost by the Cleric would be too much when taken at a macro level. This is mitigated somewhat by being a common in the middle set in what is likely to be an underdrafted color due to the black heavy theme and draft order placing the White incentive later (that is unless you're Zvi). 
Tweaking the knobs and making this a slightly smaller creature for altering the mana cost to 1WW might affect the replay value, but all things considered (given the color diversity of the block), I feel that Teroh's faithful, from a pure limited perspective, is a fantastic common.
It also hits the right notes for a casual card. Players of all stripes love lifegain and this one comes in a respectable package. It also makes a fine defensive creature and has a relevant creature type in Cleric. While Teroh's Faithful might not be a stellar build around for a kitchen table affair, it does enough to provide solid game play value to warrant inclusion in brews of all kinds. it is also a high impact card, meaning that a player on a limited budget could always have one on hand to thwart that pesky red mage.
What about selling the world? Well, Odyssey did have some world building issues (namely resetting major creature types) but this one does some important things. First, it establishes white's role as a religious high ground in the set while also alluding to the character Major Teroh. The issue? This card has little to do with the actual Teroh and a player might not ever know that Teroh is a bird (would it be too hard to provide some avian iconography on those robes?). The flavor text also does not do a great job of highlighting the nature of the set as black heavy, but it is very hard to ask one card to do that, so it gets a pass.

So what's the verdict? Teroh's Faithful is more or less an ideal common. While it might need some massaging the current world of MTGO drafts and reduced limited complexity, it would not seem out of place (at least stats wise) in a modern block. 
But that's what I think- what about you? Tell me what you think about Teroh's Faithful and some other commons you'd like to see examined.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Common Problem

Every few weeks, a question (and subsequent answer) shows up on Mark Rosewater's blog:

"teancrumpetsfan asked: Could you reprint a bunch of good uncommons as commons in a supplementary set for Pauper? Thanks.

Pauper is a format about working within the restrictions of common. Putting cards that don’t belong into common just to make them available for Pauper fights the very nature of the format."
-retrieved from Blogatog on November 26th, 2013

Without fail vocal members of the Pauper community will chime in and ask for certain powerful effects to be pushed down to common. The argument boils down to:

"Other formats are not beholden to rarity - why should ours?"

Here's the thing: Pauper is a format that exists only because there is a restriction of rarity. There have been errors from the past that have been corrected via the ban list including cards with Storm (an admitted mistake mechanic from Magic R & D) and those with unintended interactions (Invigorate and Infect) but the core of the format is to play Magic with only commons available on Magic Online (I am not going to debate the online vs offline issue today). Let us operate from the core principle: Pauper is a competitive format where you are only allowed to play commons. This begs the question: What is a common?
Commons are the bread and butter of Magic. They serve multiple functions and I hope to hit them all today. 

Commons have to be interesting enough to support casual play: This is probably the most important and most ignored attribute of commons that many Pauper players miss entirely. The vast majority of Magic is not played with full playsets and developed metagames. A lot of times its just two players jamming whatever they've cracked in their booster packs against one another. These players might have the resources to visit a web store like Star City Games or Channel Fireball and maybe they are entrenched enough in Magic to devote some of their care to improving their stack. Just as likely is that Magic is a game they play between playing other games. In this situation commons have to do tons of work. Not only do they have to serve as an entryway to the game (more on this later) but they have to supply consistent, fun, play value. 
Looking at Theros, examine Wingsteed Rider. This is clearly a powerful common that can go into many casual white decks. It does just fine on its own or supported with other cards (and is exceptional when paired with cards from Theros). It is consistent and will provide tons of play decisions over the course of many games. It forces the match to be played rather than decided. On the other side take a card like Nylea's Emissary. This card is simple enough to be common but over the course of ten or fifteen games when the Emissary player continues to draw their one copy and crush the Rider player, do we really think the white mage in this battle is going to want to keep up with Magic and learn more?

Commons are an entry point to the game and worlds of Magic: Open a booster pack and get transported to a new world every year. Commons have to tell this story. Mark Rosewater is fond of saying that "if a set's theme is not at common then it is not your theme." Commons bear so much weight of setting the tone that they have to be simple and elegant. By design they have to be the distilled essence of any new mechanic or trope. Additionally, they also have to sell the game of Magic to new players. Since you're going to get eleven commons for every one rare, the rare might be the paint job but the commons are the excellent gas mileage. Commons have to be able to hook three different kinds of Magicians: brand new, returning, and entrenched. Not only this, but each audience has a slightly different need. The best way to do this is to make simple and elegant cards that are still fun to play in games.
Wingsteed Rider tells you so much about Theros and does so in an incredibly interesting way. Compare this to Loyal Cathar- both are white commons but they clearly come from different worlds but by virtue of casting cost they go together. Two commons and suddenly there is a ton of information for a newcomer. 

Commons have to support limited: Yup. Here it is. People love to draft and with the advent of Magic Online there are more drafts happening than ever before. Commons are going to show up in every draft and often times in multiples. Much like the first point limited forces commons to have amazing repeat value. Sure, Gray Merchant of Asphodel can be a pain to face in the realm of 40 cards but it asks for some serious devotion. But what about when the deck doesn't come together? Then Gary is merely okay. And that's going to happen. Compare this to Sparksmith or Timberwatch Elf- commons that warpped formats and would clearly be Uncommon today. 
One reason that certain formats are worse for draft -Avacyn Restored, for example- is that the games play out largely the same. Look at successful draft formats -Rise of the Eldrazi and Innistrad- and you will find a bevy of reasonable commons that could provide tons of repetitive play value.

Commons have to see play in constructed: This is new but Wizards has stated that they want to see cards of all rarities in high level play. I think they are succeeding at this with pushed, if not broken, common cards.

So where does this leave us: Commons have to be elegant executions that provide insight to the worlds of Magic while providing solid repeatable game play experiences while also being strong enough to appeal to three large parties of players.
Are there cards out there today that are not common that could be "downgraded" in rarity? Absolutely! In fact, I want to know some Uncommons or Rares you think are reasonable at Common- post them in the comments or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. Or if you have designs for Commons, let me know - would love to see them - but make sure they work at Common.

Pauper is about the restriction to common - don't shoehorn in any other rarity just because. If a card isn't common, well, it doesn't belong in Pauper.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Flat Earth

Technology, eh? How about it!
I moved in with my significant other on Monday and we're adjusting to a life lived together. I missed my article deadline for this week due to a) an overwhelming number of boxes to unpack b) not enough time with the internet to actually do the work needed to write. 
So much of my world outside work has been improved by technology. I write about a Magic Online format which likely wouldn't exist without the program. I have done this for multiple websites earning myself a decent amount of money (in the form of store credit, but still!). A character now exists that I created with the help of Facebook and Twitter - Alex Ullman, the Pauper Guy. When the follower list updates there are always new people from different corners of the world and varied walks of life. 
Without smaller, faster, and better processors, would this have ever happened?  Doubt it.
This month I started a podcast on Pauper with a friend. We have never met in person and have only communicated through, and around, the game of Magic. Twenty years ago when I cracked my first starter deck this would have been impossible.
Technology is fantastic at leveling the playing field. No one needs a connection to create anymore. Anyone can just record their voice, create a social media persona and go forth into the world.

And man, that's great.

Unrelated, this band is sweet:

I only heard about them because they followed me on Twitter. And then we started talking about D & D and Magic. Technology is fucking awesome.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Song for Writers and Romantics

"Now I spend my days/sorta looking the perfect phrase"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Show Me on the Doll Where the Music Touched You" - Red City Radio

I hate Hot Topic.
I am not fond of lyric videos.
Red City Radio is just an amazing band and this song does not let up. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

An October 13th Pauper Daily.

For the first time in I don't remember how long I had a block of time to play a Daily Event and one that lined up with this freedom. So of course I was going to play. 
The past few days had been filled with e-mails between myself, Jason, and Eric about the state of affairs in Pauper. This all started because I had been an advocate for Hopeful Eidolon in White Weenie and Jason took a list that featured the spirit to 3-1. I am a huge believer in Bestow for Pauper and was happy to see my thought exercise pan out for Jason. In that same chain we were discussing the recent dearth of Stompy decks placing in the Daily Events. Once a powerhouse the green machine is standing in the redwood shadow of its one-time greatness. When we examined why this was the case, I concluded that since Pauper had lost a step and gained a turn the fragile creatures of Stompy were more vulnerable than ever. Natural enemies such as Mono-Black Control and Dimir removal decks have littered the landscape which spells doom for a deck loaded with efficient creatures. My solution was to go bigger and slower with Leafcrown Dryad.
Jason whipped up a list for "Big Stompy" which gave up on the Sligh curve aspect of the deck in favor on accelerating out big monsters such as Imperiosaur. Leafcrown Dryad was a key player in this deck as a way to make monsters even bigger and block flying enemies. Alas, Big Stompy suffered against removal based attrition decks so I decided to go back to the drawing board. But I kept the name:

Big Stompy
18 Forest
4 Arbor Elf
4 Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Garruk's Companion
4 Silhana Ledgewalker
4 Leafcrown Dryad
2 Drudge Beetle
4 Rancor
4 Vines of Vastwood
4 Gather Courage
4 Hunger of the Howlpack

3 Prey Upon
3 Young Wolf
3 Sundering Growth
3 Moment's Peace
2 Drudge Beetle
1 Nylea's Disciple

This deck was still Stompy but it definitely wanted to go larger and longer. Leafcrown Dryad and Drudge Beetle provided the late game mana sinks the deck wanted while also making my creatures too large to handle. Oh, they also provided a serviceable body on curve.

My soundtrack for this Daily Event included: Bangers, Crazy F**king Dreams, Dear Landlord, Dream Homes, and DIRECT HIT!, DOMESPLITTER
It all makes sense now - I was messed up in the head. I ended up 1-2 and dropped after the third round.
In round 1 I was paired up against Eye Candy. My opponent stalled on mana but I was not able to apply enough pressure. The enemy go Kiln Fiend online and made it unblockable, then gave it double strike.
Game two I kept a fine hand for an unknown opponent. In hindsight, I should have mulliganed aggressively into either Prey Upon or Moment's Peace
At 0-1 I won a hard fought three games against an opponent on White Weenie. Game one was awesome - full of back and forth. It got to the point where I win if my opponent wasn't holding Prismatic Strands. They weren't.
Game two I mulliganed to five and was never in it. Game three I led with a Nettle Sentinel while the enemy led with Icatian Javelineers. I played a second land, cast Prey Upon, swung in for two then cast a Pit-Skulk. On two lands my opponent tried to brick my Pit-Skulk with Kor Skyfisher. I had Rancor and kept a Forest untapped to protect my investment with Vines of Vastwood. I cracked in, knocked the enemy to fourteen, and passed. White Weenie had Bonesplitter and equipped it to, once again, stop my Skulk. 
At this point I have two Forests in play and two Vines of Vastwood (and other two drops) in hand. I decide to go for it and on consecutive turns cast main phase Vines of Vastwood on Pit-Skulk to crack in for victory.
And it tasted so sweet.
That taste lasted shorter than Juicy Fruit. Round three I go up against a Delver pilot. My first play is Dazed and I never get back into it.
One reason Delver continues to put up such great numbers is that there is no consensus on the right build. Because of this, a card like Daze goes way up in value since it has a huge amount of surprise value.
Game two I kept a hand full of threats but only one land. Any Forest in my first two draws puts me in great shape. But since I went 1-2, you know how this ends (hint: not well).
I'm not about to give up on Big Stompy. I think I am going back to Quirion Ranger and dropping Arbor Elf, since it did very little all day.
And maybe I'll play in another Daily, if I find the time.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Time Keeps on Slipping into the (Cosmic) Future

"If I can ask one thing when I am dead, would you lay me down by the riverbed? And just let me wash away, let it take me back from where I came. Cause all I am and all I was is just blood and dirt and bones and mud. And I'm better off that way.
I'm better off that way."

-Iron Chic

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lyzolda, the Blood Witch

The more I play with my various Commander decks, the more their identities develop. I have four current decks based around generals with sacrifice focused abilities: Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord; Marrow-Gnawer; Teysa, Orzhov Scion; and Lyzolda, the Blood Witch.
Lyzolda is my "big play" deck. It is chock full of cards that make for interesting decisions and explosive blowouts. Playing into the ethos of Rakdos, this deck is all about having a great time on the way to (and back from) the graveyard. When Lyzolda's in charge of the party, no one rests for long.

General Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
Avatar of Woe
Big Game Hunter
Blood Artist
Bloodgift Demon
Bone Shredder
Cemetary Reaper
Coffin Queen
Corpse Connoisseur
Disciple of Griselbrand
Falkenrath Noble
Golgari Thug
Harvester of Souls
Havoc Demon
Massacre Wurm
Mephidross Vampire
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Nether Traitor
Pawn of Ulamog
Reaper from the Abyss
Reassembling Skeleton
Rune-Scarred Demon
Scavenger Drake
Sepulchral Primordial
Skirsdag High Priest
Black Sun's Zenith
Buried Alive
Grim Harvest
Rescue from the Underworld
Grave Pact
Oversold Cemetary
Phyrexian Reclamation
Animate Dead
Tombestone Stairwell
Underworld Connections
Avalanche Riders
Conquering Manticore
Crater Hellion
Flayer of the Hatebound
Magma Phoenix
Mindclaw Shaman
Molten Primordial
Rage Thrower
Viashino Heretic
Zealous Conscripts
Warstorm Surge
Deathbringer Thoctar
Murderous Redcap
Cauldron Dance
Darksteel Ingot
Mimic Vat
Rakdos Cluestone
Rakdos Keyrune
Sol Ring
Talisman of Indulgence
Solemn Simulacrum
Nim Deathmantle
Akoum Refuge
Auntie's Hovel
Barren Moor
Blood Crypt
Bojuka Bog
Command Tower
Dragonskull Summit
Evolving Wilds
Forgotten Cave
Polluted Mire
Molten Slagheap
Mystifying Maze
Rakdos Carnarium
Rakdos Guildgate
Rocky Tar Pit
Smoldering Crater
Spawning Pool
Tainted Peak
Temple of the False God
Terramorphic Expanse
Tresserhorn Sinks
Urborg Volcano
Winding Canyons
8 Swamp
5 Mountain

This deck is all about things not staying dead. With Lyzolda on the table everything gets crazy. Cauldron Dance has been the source of many awesome memories.
This deck used to be loaded with "kill on sight"cards like Bloodchief Ascension and Vicious Shadows. While Lyzolda still commanders the board clearing combos of Mephidross Vampire/Mikaeus and Deathbringer Thoctar/Triskelion, I try to only use those to keep the peace and not dominate. But hey, I have to win occasionally.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Theros, Part 2

Last week was just the tip of the iceberg. After my first foray into Theros I was eager to play with the set again. I learned a lot from my mediocre showing in the prerelease and felt that I had a better understanding of the format going into this morning's release event.
Of course traffic was conspiring against me. Bridge and exit closures meant I was one of the last players to arrive for the 11am event. I make small talk and enjoy my coffee before receiving my six packs. This is what I opened:

Dauntless Onslaught
Decorated Griffin
Fabled Hero
Hopeful Eidolon
Last Breath
Leonin Snarecaster (2)
Ordeal of Heliod
Phalanx Leader (2)
Scholar of Athreos
Setessan Griffin
Silent Artisan
Traveling Philsopher

Benthic Giant
Crackling Triton
Lost in a Labyrinth
Thassa's Bounty
Triton Tactics
Stymied Hopes

Baleful Eidolon
Blood-Toll Harpy
Dark Betrayal
Disciple of Phenax
Felhide Minotaur (2)
Lash of the Whip (2)
Loathsome Catoblepas
March of the Returned
Morgis's Marauder
Pharika's Cure
Read the Bones (2)
Returned Centaur

Borderland Minotaur
Boulderfall (2)
Ember Swallower
Lightning Strike
Ill-Tempered Cyclops
Messenger's Speed (2)
Minotaur Skullcleaver (2)
Ordeal of Purphoros (2)
Priest of Iroas
Rage of Purphoros (2)
Rageblood Shaman
Satyr Rambler
Wild Celebrants

Artisan's Sorrow
Centaur Battlemaster
Defend the Hearth
Feral Invocation (2)
Nessian Courser
Nylea's Presence
Pheres-Band Centaurs
Satyr Hedonist (2)
Satyr Piper
Savage Surge
Sedge Scorpion (2)
Shredding Winds (2)
Time to Feed
Warriors Lesson

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Akroan Hoplite
Destructive Revelry
Pharika's Mender
Psychic Intrusion
Sentry of the Underworld

Artifact & Land
Bronze Sable
Guardians of Meletis
Unknown Shores

This was quite a pool. Unlike my last event there was an abundance of awesome cards. I knew I wanted to play red or black and I immediately tried the pseudo-Minotaur tribal deck. It looked awesome but the curve was just not something I loved. I wanted to have something to do at all points of the game as I am a firm believer that tempo matters in Theros limited. Trading off early drops with their bestowed monsters can be a huge swing.
After looking at Rakdos I examined Golgari. While I liked the deck, I wanted to make sure I didn't like it just because it was my favorite color combination. I put together multiple decks: Orzhov grind, Selesnya Heroic, Gruul monsters, and Boros aggro. My blue did not have enough cards and even though Ashiok's draw was strong I wanted to be two colors.
As time dwindled down I went back to the beginning, laying out the Rakdos and the the Golgari decks. One just looked better to me:

9 Swamp
8 Forest
1 Baleful Eidolon
1 Blood-Toll Harpy
1 Disciple of Phenax
2 Felhide Minotaur
2 Lash of the Whip
1 March of the Returned
1 Morgis's Marauder
1 Nighthowler
1 Pharika's Cure
2 Read the Bones
1 Returned Centaur
1 Artisan's Sorrow
1 Centaur Battlemaster
1 Feral Invocation
1 Pheres-Band Centaurs
1 Savage Surge
2 Sedge Scorpion
1 Time to Feed
1 Pharika's Mender

I went with the Golgari deck because I felt it was the best at playing the mid and long game. I had plenty of removal and ways to clog the ground. March of the Returned and Pharika's Mender meant I would be able to get back my multiple deathtouch blockers to help keep monsters at bay. The triple deathtouch crew combined well with Time to Feed. Double Read the Bones was a huge draw. After underestimating Nighthowler last week I wanted to give it a shot and this seemed like a perfect deck for a pseudo-Lhurgoyf.
My plan was to block early threats and eventually win on the back of a Nighthowler bestowed creature (or the Nighthowler itself  or crack through for a ton with Morgis's Marauder. I ended up running the second Felhide Minotaur over the Nessian Courser purely for devotion to black.
Last week I played against all new faces; this week I would be dealing with the familiar.
Round one I was up against Brendan with his Gruul splash black deck. Game one we both mulliganed and discarded early. I laid the beats with a Sedge Scorpion but eventually he wiped my board with Anger of the Gods. He managed to draw out of early woes and started sticking large monsters (and made them bigger). He played the Hammer of Purphoros and I decided to play a Disciple of Phenax just to see more cards before scooping. I swapped a Savage Surge for the second Invocation between games.
Game two I elect to play and start with a Sedge Scorpion. We both developed out boards and Bredan got to the point where his creatures with monstrosity will overwhelm my smaller forces. So of course I ripped the Morgis's Marauder and attacked for exactly lethal.
Brendan elected to draw game three and we traded early beats. I stuck a Blood-Toll Harpy that he was not able to block. However by this time my adversary had played out multiple large beaters and had me on the ropes at two life while he stood at seven. My hand yielded a Nighthowler for the Harpy, which made it large enough to swing in for victory.
These games were all fantastic. I felt as if every decision mattered and were full of good back and forth. This is what I had hoped for and the first round delivered.
Round two saw me paired with a friend and regular Commander opponent Jess with a pretty sweet Grixis deck. Game one I was on the play and started applying early pressure. Jess was able to set up her defenses and cast an Ashiok of her own. I took it out after one activation thanks to a Harpy that was wearing an Eidolon and an Invocation. Jess wiped out two of my creatures with Curse of the Swine but she was not able to punch through. Two of my threats were Dissolved but Jess tapped low for a threat. On my turn I Morgis's Mauraudered in for the victory.
Game two was far less interesting. Jess mulliganed to six and stuttered on her development. Even with an Underworld Cereberus on her side of the table my consistent draw overran her poor one.
My partner from the Return to Ravnica 2-Headed Giant Prerelease, Michael, was my opponent in the third round. Michael had a strong Izzet deck that pulled all sorts of tricks to keep my board empty in the first game.
Game two we were at parity until I was able to bestow my Harpy with the Nighthowler. Michael did not have an answer for my ever growing attacker and had to Steam Aurury to try and find something. Unfortunately, this made the Nighthowler even better and he lost shortly thereafter.
Game three was more of the same with Nighthowler doing all of the heavy lifting. The horror got up to a 12/12 this match and did a very good impression of The Abyss. If The Abyss could deal damage that is.
Round four I got paired against Seth and we decided to draw. Good for me because we played for fun and is Oros deck smashed me in two quick ones.
I was very pleased with my deck. Not only is Theros a format where tempo and attrition matter, but it is one where you can play to your strengths. I know I am at my strongest playing grindy black green decks. If I was more comfortable playing green-white smash or red-green monsters I could have built one of those. As it stood, I got six packs for my efforts.
And of course now I can't wait to draft.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My trip to Theros

My Saturday began far too early. You see, my significant other and I have been planning on moving in together for quite a while and Friday night I was frantically trying to gather all the materials for the application process. After that my brain decided it did not want to wind down. Late to bed and early to rise does nothing good for Magic players.
I sloughed out of bed and went through the motions of getting ready. I had put my bag together in the half-slumber daze of Friday so once I got dressed I was out the door to pick up coffee, bagel, and jalapeno cheddar biscuit.
Let me tell you, that last one is a delight.
I get in the car and pump some Millencolin as I drive to the Twenty Sided Store. I had signed up for the 9am prerelease and had selected the red box. I did this because I felt the format was going to be of average speed and I liked the promo- I felt it would be the one I would be able to cast most often. I also preferred red's removal to black. Going in I felt that tempo would matter and was very excited at the prospect of casting Lightning Strike in response to Monstrosity or Heroic.
I arrive  to the site and start chatting with other regulars Kadar, Hugh, Alex, Charles, and Micah. I offer everyone a bite of my biscuit and Charles accepts. Before I offer Micah, he gives me a look so I ask "Are you a vegan?"
The next five minutes were devoted to discussing Micah's soy induced rash.
We queue up and slowly file into the store. Our table for deck building has all of the same faces. Luis goes through the spiel and we eagerly tear into our packs.
I took apart my pool on Sunday so I cannot replicate it here. Looking back I had a fairly powerful pool with solid rares: Ember Swallower, Titan of Eternal Fire, Nighthowler, Mistcutter Hydra, Hundred-Handed One, Fleecemane Lion, and Temple of Victory. I had good removal in double Lightning Strike, Rage of Purphoros, Lash of the Whip, Pharika's Cure, Divine Verdict, Last Breath, and Griptide. I got distracted by trying to trigger Heroic on my father few creatures with the ability an initially went GW splash red for the aforementioned removal. This was a mistake. In hindsight I should have been either Izzet or Rakdos. Izzet provided tons of sweet fliers including Prescient Chimera, Horzion Scholar, and Spellheart Chimera, as well as Mnemonic Wall to get back my awesome spells. Rakdos was light no creatures but had double Gray Merchant of Asphodel and a March of the Returned to get them back. 
This is why we practice.
My matches were largely awesome. In round one I played against Jarad and his Boros deck. I win in three games, although in the third he did not draw enough land. This match was a ton of fun because Jarad and I discussed life in Western New York and reminisced  about Wegman's.
Aside: Wegman's is the greatest grocery store of all time. Not only do they sell everything, their house brands are better than most name brands. On top of that, they are a huge economic driver in Western New York and I have multiple friends who went to college on Wegman's Scholarships. 
After the match I look at Jarad's pool and see some strong green. I urge him to try Gruul out since it looks slightly better than his Boros.
I get smashed in the second round by Leo. Leo looks young- I'd put him at 14 or 15 and he can flat out play. In game one, agaisnt Leo's GW deck,  I brain fart and try to Lightning Strike a Centaur Battlemaster while Leo has an Opaline Unicorn untapped. What happened? Gods Willing happened. 
In game two Leo sides into an entirely different deck. I am facing down a huge Sealock Monster but have stabilized with a vigilant monsterized Fleecemane Lion and two other creatures. Leo turns my two other creatures into swine and I decide to attack with the team. Leo untaps, casts Purphoros's Emissary on the Monster then attacks through for the win thanks to Titan's Strength. I was outplayed and felt down as Leo offered the hand. I shook it and said good games. 
Nothing like getting trounced. I didn't deserve to win either of those games and Leo played well - they were good games. I was just being a sore loser in my mind at the moment. 
Something else I have to practice I suppose.
Between rounds I switch into a Simic deck and just get destroyed by Richard's sweet Orzhov deck. While I was able to deal with most of his threats Cavern Lampad just did me in from 16 life. Game two Agent of Fates made my life miserable.
In the fourth round I went Izzet for my match with Ivan. I won in three close games with game three hinging on when he cast Nylea's Emissary on Crackling Triton. I used my Portent of Betrayal to steal the Triton and then sacrificed it, finishing off the Emissary with a removal spell. The hit was too much and Ivan fell to my flyers.
I close out the day with two packs and a haul of cards for my collection. As I leave I see Jarad and ask him how he finished. He went 2-2 and thanked me for the help. 
That made the entire day worth it.
Theros limited does seem to be of average speed and tempo definitely matters. I am looking forward to playing more events and drafting the hell out of the set. I'm also excited for what it means for my cube.

Quotes from the day:
Outside the venue between rounds, I'm eating a snack
Me: Let me show you my deck...can you hold my bana..
Micah: Come on, you have to finish saying it.
Me: Can you hold my banana? 

Inside the venue, before good man Andrew leaves for the day
Andrew: Wanna be jealous? :shows Micah and me a set of limited edition dice from GenCon:
Micah: That was the greatest pun of all time.
Me: I made a pun? 
Andrew: Just go with it, it was amazing!

Friday, September 13, 2013


Many of you reading this read my blog for the first time this morning. I posted my interaction with someone who had different opinions than I did. I posted it because I was angry.
In hindsight, I posted it for the wrong reasons and I am not sure I should have put it up for mass consumption at all.

I am Jewish - I do not hide this fact. I barely go to Shul. I was Bar Mitzvahed. I have family dinners on the holidays where there's butter next to the brisket. I try to fast on Yom Kippur and I pray occasionally, even though I scientifically doubt the existence of a supreme being.

The Holocaust is very real to me. I am lucky - none of my immediate family was lost in the genocide. I have friends who lost great uncles and aunts. The person I hope to marry recently visited a cousin in France whose parents reunited after escaping concentration camps. The cousin should have had a sibling. He doesn't anymore.

I posted because I was angry that this person compared anything about my stances to the Nazis. 

I should have had a cup of coffee, walked around, and kibbutzed about it with my friends. I will not take down the post because I believe it is important, but I will admit - me posting it the way I did was a mistake.

There is some good that came out of this morning - I saw the greatness of humanity in the Magic Community. The masses came out and sent notes of empathy and support, of criticism, and with stories of their own. 

When I see people upset about the community it is because there are awful people. The great people don't get recognized enough.

Thank you to everyone who listened. 
Thank you to everyone who sent notes my way.
Thank you to everyone who made me think about my actions.

Thank you.

Encountering Privilege

I am sorry for the formatting issues- copying from Facebook does some weird things

A few months ago I got involved in a discussion on Twitter (oh no) about sexism (yes folks, he really is intelligent). It got heated and I disagreed with someone. I don't remember how the conversation ended but it did.
This morning on my walk to work my phone gives me the note that I got a message on Facebook. After some time of this man yelling at me, I remember this conversation. I'm going to paste it here for you all to see.
I don't know what I did to offend him so much, but apparently my belief that all humans, regardless of gender, are equal, was too much for him to handle. I'm kind of shocked that he took months to track me down and send this all to me. 
Also, I am posting it verbatim, so I want to warn readers that this guy's language is rather offensive.
At end of the posted conversation. I blocked him. I don't expect him to change and nothing I can say will alter his thought process. For the first time in a long time though, I actually felt violated. My family, thankfully, got out of Europe before Hitler. But for someone who claims to know me, he knows very little.
As if that wasn't obvious.

Him: hey ... fuck yourself..... i forgot to tell you how much you make me ill a few months ago...

Me: im sorry do i know you?

H: Ya exactley.... you dont know me but you were so quick a few months ago to say how much i made you ill cause i had an opinion that wasnt as liberal as you wanted it to be
fking retarded moron
M: yeah. i think youre mistaken. sorry man
H: like i said, you can go fuck yourself.
tell your star athlete mother that she should have raised a child that had the good sense to form his own opinions, not just the liberal band wagon of the day
M: dude. I don't know who you were talking to but I'm pretty sure you're mistaken.
not at all you dumb fking retarded... you are proving my point entirley.
you saw someone on twitter saying someone was sexist and you just jumped the band wagon.... you even admit now that you dont know anything about me or what i was saying.
try to be unbias before you jump into a discussion.
the worst thing about liberal cunts like you is that you think thats your different from the retarded conservatist...
extremism is any form is a vice.
you talked about how the women in your family were star athletes and you were a pussy... and how that proves women are just the same as men
you are a moron follower
M: I remember this vaguely. Thanks for reminding me.
This was around something Jackie Lee posted. Thank you.
H:Fucking retard
liberalism is nazism for vaginas
get the facts straight before you open your ignorant mouth... just cause its liberal doesnt make it right.
and just cause someone has a penis doesnt make them sexist...
ppl like you are fascist with with better record collections. 
tell your mom that she raised a ignorant follower. in 1930's germany youd have raised your hand as far into the air as you could reach.
M: I highly doubt that.
H: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH... for sure... you are a follower... you will do whatever the crowd is doing. ive seen you do it. you were one of the most vocal and you dont know a thing about me. YOU ARE THE PUREST KIND OF FOLLOWER
M: You also clearly know nothing about me. I'm Jewish. My family had to escape Europe.
H: Fuck you.
you are a follower... learn to get the facts before you open your ignorant mouth in the future.
everything i said was true but you saw someone getting called a sexist so you jumped on the band wagon.
and yes youd have stood in line and saluted Hitler.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Decade with Millencolin

I have been on a serious Millencolin kick lately. For a while I barely listened to the Swedish powerhouse but recently I feel like I'm hearing them for the first time and it feels like warm blankets, a fire place, and hot chocolate.
The first song of theirs I ever heard was "No Cigar" off of a Punk-O-Rama Comp, but the first song of theirs I loved was "Fingers Crossed." I was in high school, hanging out in the stage crew room with the stage crew girls. This song (and those girls) help start my love of punk rock. Of course years later, my time in stage crew would lead me to a career, but that's a different story. 
It was the energy and urgency in this song that sparked the attraction. Back then I was always looking for faster, louder music. "Fingers Crossed" piqued my interest with the hard to decipher lyrics, background harmonies, and chugging progression. It was love at first power chord.

My favorite Millencolin song to date is "Penguins and Polarbears." While not as fast paced as the previous song, it has similar sense of importance conveyed by Nikola's (aka the lead singer) inflection. The band sings in English but it is not their native language which influences the relatively simple vocabulary used in their songs. Yet this just adds to the punk rock ambiance of their music- you can do it too.

When their album Kingwood came out, I didn't understand it. It wasn't until this year after coming back to the record that I appreciated it. My favorite track here is "Ray" which sounds incredibly similar to "Fingers Crossed." But the message in "Ray" is much more personal, attacking critics of the band who are upset over the change their sound over time. Basically this song is one giant middle finger to forum trolls and it is done so artfully that as a writer I envy their ability to say this.

My current Millencolin jam of choice is "Right About Now." My original copy of Pennybridge Pinoeers was a copy and had a different song subbed into this one's spot. Once I heard the album on Spotify I decided to remedy the situation and get the album all proper like. "Right About Now" is under two minutes long and bristles with energy. No deep message, just good times.

I've only seen this band once at a Warped Tour too many years ago. I hope they come back to the States soon.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why I'm Stoked For Theros

I have been playing Magic for over 19 years and I do not think I have ever been as excited for a new set as I am for Theros. I have been excited for just abut every release in some base capacity ("Oh sweet, new cards") but Theros, man, it hits me on an entirely different level. The reaction from my friends and the Magic community as a whole seems to be overwhelmingly positive. And this got me thinking.
When I was younger, I was fascinated by mythologies. I started, like many American youth's educated in a culture that values European history above the history of other parts of the world, with Greek and Roman myth. After learning the very basics, I sought out the library and found the big book of Greek myth by D'Aulaires.
I devoured that book. Then Egyptian mythology. Then Norse. 
I can't even fully explain why I like these stories. It could be because I love stories or it could be because I adore the fantastic. However my love of myth was the seeding for my love of fantasy. The books and worlds I love the most are those that have a well thought out structure of faith and a developed mythos. Zelazny's Amber, Sanderson's Mistborn, Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, and Gaiman's American Gods are some of my favorite worlds because they weave mythology and the history of the worlds in which they exist into the narrative. Even my favorite comic books have deep rooted pantheons and surrounding myths, books like Moon Knight and Iron Fist speak to me on a primal level.
But it all started with the stories from the Greeks and Romans.And I think that is why Theros resonates so deeply for me.
It is Magic going back to my roots in the fantastic. It is a love letter that someone else wrote for me. It is a warm hug saying "we read those books too."
And that is awesome.

Friday, August 23, 2013


In order to be a better writer I have to learn how to steal.
I am not going to be lifting paragraphs wholesale from the works of those who came before me and apply some make up. Viola - it's mine. No, I need to become comfortable taking ideas (with credit given, of course) and massaging them into my original work.
This won't work for all writers or everything I produce. It will do wonders for my Magic writing. And hey, better writing should mean more hits, right?
When I started writing, I was preoccupied with being original. I was the only person writing about Pauper Magic in any meaningful way so I was already unique. No, I told younger me, I needed to revolutionize the genre and do so with a severe limitation. Namely, I'm not an elite Magic player. I consider myself slightly above average (like, three hairs) but I still tried to make a splash. A lot of my earlier stuff is lost in a site redesign, but man I tried to break the mold.
You know why writers like Mike Flores, Pat Chapin, and Adrian Sullivan are behind a paywall? It's because they have changed the game and the way we understand it with their work. That is incredibly hard to do. Today, it is a greater challenge since so much discovery has already taken place. Now, it's Devil's Details. 
Once I started writing for Star City, I stopped trying to shock the world. My writing suffered. I started out restrained- I revered my work place and did not want to despoil it. With the help of my editors (all three of them), the fetters are slowly coming off. This morning, however, I realized I was still shackling myself.
My desire to be original remains and this is impeding my ability to be achieve my next level as a writer. Instead of sidestepping the great works that have come before me, I need to use them, cite them, steal from them and weave their words into my own to add strength where I am weak.
I've started work on my next article, due to go live next week. Let's see if I can listen to my own advice.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Marrow-Gnawer and Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

In my last post I talked about two games of Commander I played at the recent Star City Games Open/Invitational in Somerset, New Jersey. I decided to post those two decks. 
First up is Marrow-Gnawer. Now this deck has been updated since those games but the idea is the same. This deck wants to disrupt opponents through creatures. With cheap rats and cards like Cloudstone Curio and Erratic Portal it is fairly easy to generate card advantage. Then Pack Rat sticks, and then comes Marrow-Gnawer, and the game ends shortly thereafter.

General: Marrow-Gnawer
26 Swamp
Barren Moor
Blasted Landscape
Bojuka Bog
Cabal Coffers
Evolving Wilds
Temple of the False God
Terramorphic Expanse
Adaptive Automaton
Ascendant Evincar
Basilica Screecher
Big Game Hunter
Bone Shredder
Buthcer of Malakir
Cackling Fiend
Cadaver Imp
Carrion Feeder
Chittering Rats
Corrosive Mentor
Crypt Ghast
Crypt Rats
Diseased Vermin
Fume Spitter
Infected Vermin
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
Liliana's Specter
Merrow Bonegnawer
Mortician Beetle
Nezumi Graverobber
Ogre Slumlord
Okiba-Gang Shinobi
Pack Rat
Phyrexian Plaguelord
Pontiff of Blight
Rats of Rath
Ravenous Rats
Rotting Rats
Shirei, Shzio's Caretaker
Skirsdag High Priest
Skull Collector
Solemn Simulacrum
Stinkweed Imp
Stronghold Rats
Throat Slitter
Thrull Parasite
Typhod Rats
Undead Gladiator
Life's Finale
Grim Harvest
Grave Pact
Nihilistic Glee
Underworld Connections
Akroma's Memorial
Armillary Sphere
Citanul Flute
Cloudstone Curio
Coat of Arms
Eldrazi Monument
Erratic Portal
Expedition Map
Mimic Vat
Nevinyrral's Disk
Nihil Spellbomb
Sol Ring
Lightning Greaves
Nim Deathmantle
Ring of Xathrid
Swiftfoot Boots

Next up is my Jarad deck. This is my favorite deck and the one I win with the most. It also has a unique, self imposed limit - nothing in the deck costs more than five mana. This is because I have decided to run Dark Confidant in the deck and do not want to take huge chunks of damage. So far, this has not proved to be detrimental to the deck's ability to win. In fact, I can't recall losing with this stack, which is part of the reason I do not bust it out very often.

General: Jarad, Golgar Lich Lord
9 Forest
6 Swamp
Barren Moor
Bojuka Bog
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Golgari Guildgate
Golgari Rot Farm
Gilt-Leaf Palace
Grim Backwoods
Jund Panorama
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Overgrown Tomb
Polluted Mire
Rogue's Passage
Slippery Karst
Tainted Wood
Temple of the False God
Terramorphic Expanse
Tranquil Thicket
Treetop Village
Verdant Catacombs
Volrath's Stronghold
Big Game Hunter
Blood Artist
Bloodgift Demon
Bone Shredder
Champion of Lambholt
Coffin Queen
Corpse Connoisseur
Creakwood Liege
Dark Confidant
Deathrite Shaman
Disciple of Bolas
Disciple of Griselbrand
Eternal Witness
Falkenrath Noble
Hermit Druid
Indrik Stomphowler
Korozda Guildmage
Kessig Cagebreakers
Lotus Cobra
Mold Shambler
Oracle of Mul Daya
Phyrexian Delver
Phyrexian Plaguelord
Reassembling Skeleton
Savra, Queen of the Golgari
Scavenging Ooze
Sewer Nemesis
Solemn Simulacrum
Varloz, the Scar-Striped
Vengeful Pharaoh
Wight of Precinct Six
Yavimaya Elder
Yavimaya Granger
Demonic Tutor
Gaze of Granite
Jarad's Orders
Life from the Loam
Living Death
Grim Harvest
Awakening Zone
Grave Pact
Greater Good
Oversold Cemetary
Phyrexian Reclamation
Survival of the Fittest
Sylvan Library
Garruk Relentless
Mimic Vat
Sol Ring
Lightning Greaves
Nim Deathmantle