Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Random Card of the Day #19

Random Card of the Day #19:

Quicksilver Dragon - 4UU
Creature - Dragon
U: If target spell has only one target and that target is Quicksilver Dragon, change that spell's target to another creature
Morph 4U

Initial thoughts:

Probably why Spellskite is considered a great card, it changes targets of your opponent's spells. Spellskite is a little different because it saves your own creatures where as Quicksilver Dragon will only save itself.

It doesn't help you if he's the only creature on the field, and it still won't save you from Titanic Growth or Slaughter Cry, but it will dodge a lot of removal most of the time. Not to mention simply by him being on the field, your opponent will have to think twice about playing any removal spells.

It's morph cost seems overpriced. The way I see it you are in a losing scenario, you top draw this and play it face down. Your opponent bolts or Doom Blade's it, you morph it and change the target. 9 mana to 2-for-0 your opponent. (3 card swing if you consider that you got a card and they lost 2.) I mean it could be 6 mana if you hardcast it, but then your opponent would see the play coming and would most likely not cast anything targeting it.

It definitely seems like one of those monoblue cards that win games--but I think I might stick to Frost Titan for a 6-drop control. Or just splash a different color to try and win the game. Monoblue is the weakest of monocolors in my opinion.

Either way, a really powerful card. But it's cost effectiveness and the fact that your opponent can see it coming unless you pay nine mana is a huge drawback. It's still a 5/5 flier, but it's difficult to say as competent player won't fall for the re-target, and any exceptionally skilled player knows to stay away from face-down cards, unless you know what it is.

A 3/5 creature. It's abilities almost make me push it to a 4/5 but I just can't see it being more than a vanilla creature 90% of the time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Random Card of the Day #18

Random Card of the Day #18:

Elephant Guide
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +3/+3
When enchanted creature dies put a 3/3 green Elephant creature token onto the battlefield.

Initial thoughts:

I'll explain the number one thing I hate about Enchantments: it is too easy to get 2-for-1'd. Now it depends on the Enchantment, too. For example, I would have no problem playing Guard Duty or Pacifism, or even Arrest because those go on your opponents creatures. I would have no problem playing Words of War or Seismic Assault because those are Enchantments--not Auras.

I would however have a problem with playing Trollhide or Bonds of Faith on my own creature, to buff them. This allows your opponent to play any removal spell instant or sorcery or otherwise, kill the enchantment and the creature with one card, setting down your hand-size by one. If you fall behind on hand-size too much will almost certainly lose the game. Sure you turned your 2/2 Human into a 4/4 but your opponent would just play Assassinate next turn and you lose two cards.

This card on the other hand, thwarts that counter-play, with the exception of it entering the battlefield--I'll explain that soon. It basically doesn't matter if that creature dies, you still get something out of it. This is exactly the kinds of Aura's that see play, or are rather considered exceptionally powerful, such as Genju of the Fens, Angelic Destiny, or Rancor. Rancor has single-handedly won me games.

If your opponent is playing this card, just Incinerate or Doom Blade the targeted creature before the spell resolves. Your spell will resolve first, killing the creature, then the Enchantment is countered due to lack of targets, it never entered the battlefield, the creature left the battlefield before it resolved, so they don't get the token. Voila! 2-for-1'd on instant speed. This basically applies to all Aura's with the exception of Genju of the Fens because it may prove to be difficult to destroy a land on instant speed. Only Lavaball Trap and Dwarven Blastminer come to mind, both of which are conditional. (Well, unless you hardcast Lavaball Trap.*)

Quite an amazing card really, I mean sure it can be outplayed, but really any card can be. Even Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. 3/5, it's almost necessary if you are playing something like Aura Gnarlid.

* - Hardcast is a term me and my friends had come up with that you pay the cost written on the card. It has come up several times (especially with trap cards) when you don't choose it's alternative cost because you didn't meet the requirements. Such as hardcasting Archive Trap end of turn because the opponent didn't search the library, hardcasting Sickening Shoal so you don't have to exile a black card from your hand, or hardcasting Hand of Emrakul to keep your spawns to block.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Random Card of the Day #17

Random Card of the Day #17:

Birds of Paradise - G
Creature - Bird
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Initial thoughts:

I feel there's not much about to say this one. Maybe perhaps that it's one of the few cards that were printed in Alpha that weren't absurdly powerful or ridiculously bad. When Magic first came out they got the power level right for this card--along with Royal Assassin and Bad Moon.

It can block. It can swing if you put a Sword of War and Peace on it. It can get bigger with Gavony Township. Clearly it's strongest when it's in your starting hand, later in the game it starts to lose value. At the very least, it's a one-drop blocker in turn 8, and can hopefully let you draw a card beneath it. (Unless for some reason you wanted to keep it on the battlefield to flashback Cabal Therapy or Dread Return--or if you are just being Overrun.)

About the worst play that could happen is you look at your starting hand, and you only have one land and a Birds of Paradise. You would think "it's a bad hand but at least I got Birds." and then end of turn your opponent Burst Lightning's it.

An amazing card with amazing capabilities. Definitely 5/5 only because it is an enabler, ramp and support card. Maybe not a 4-of in every deck, but if you are using green and thrive on acceleration (probably in non-even numbers, in the case of Myr Superion) it should definitely have at least one in your deck, two in most cases.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Random Card of the Day #16

Random Card of the Day #16:

Chaos Lord - 4RRR
Creature - Human
At the beginning of your upkeep, target opponent gains control of Chaos Lord if the number of permanents is even.
Chaos Lord can attack as though it had haste unless it entered the battlefield this turn.

Initial thoughts:

I normally hate high converted mana cost spells in red. It just doesn't seem to add up. Red is known for "burning out" fairly quickly so to have something that takes 7 mana means you are looking at maybe 12-14 turn games, without any ramp. And if you are playing green ramp for 7 converted mana cost.

I always see it that if you are playing a 7+ cost card, you should win the game if it resolves. Memnarch and Legacy Weapon are perfect examples of 7 costs that win games--aside from the obvious Ultimatum's.

That's not to mention that since the Ice Age block, the power creep on creatures as grown considerably. Back then a 4 cost 4/4 was slightly better than average. Now a 5 cost 5/5 flying lifelink first striker with protections is what sees play.

Not to mention you can lose control of it. I mean I guess you can flash in creatures to prevent it, but to be honest if I was going to play a silly game where you lose control of permanents it would be playing Burning Cinder Fury of Crimson Chaos Fire, just because.

How to fix this card:

I'm not actually sure how without ruining the flavor of the card. Maybe cutting the costs and making it so that during the end step if he is untapped target opponent gains control of him, but he would enter the battlefield tapped. Let's see...

Fixed Chaos Lord - 2RRR
Creature - Human
First strike
Fixed Chaos Lord enters the battlefield tapped.
At the beginning of each end step, if Chaos Lord is untapped, target opponent gains control of Fixed Chaos Lord.

That makes the card playable at least. But it's hard to make something playable when the card itself is supposed to cause chaos. Reliability is a major portion of viability of cards.

But as that card is a 7-cost 7/7 first striker that you lose control of, I would rather be playing Goblin Cadets. At least you can do something about losing your creature or prevent it from happening. 2/5

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Random Card of the Day #15

Random Card of the Day #15:

Rakeclaw Gargantuan - 2RGW
Creature - Beast
{1}: Target creature with power 5 or greater gains first strike until end of turn.

Initial thoughts:

Really color intensive, really effective though. Once this hits the field, it is a force to be reckoned with. But that's just because it's a 5/3 first striker. I would like to say he was amazing in limited but I didn't draft Shards too much, I never got the mana management thing down and once M10 came out, that's all I cared for at the time.

Just another game winning creature that's easily removed. I suppose it could be even more annoying if you Stifle his ability with Turn to Frog, but then again Turn to Frog in general is annoying.

A good card, but it would never see play outside of Shards Block or Limited if only because there are other better cards. Like Phyrexian Obliterator. Still dies to bolt. 3/5

Friday, November 25, 2011

Random Card of the Day #14

Random Card of the Day #14:

Spiritual Sanctuary - 2WW
At the beginning of each players upkeep, if that player controls a Plains, that player gains 1 life.

Initial thoughts:

Wow. This card is just awful. It costs too much, is not very splashable, has a drawback, and it's lifegain is somewhat conditional. The first card I would compare it to is Ajani's Mantra. Ajani's Mantra is simple, effective, doesn't help out your opponents, and if it was ever relevant, is a may ability. (To be honest the only time I could ever think if it was relevant is if you were playing Near-Death Experience or your opponent Mindslaver'd you. Aside from the obvious misplays by missing your may abilities on your upkeep by drawing first.)

Other than that I also have somewhat of a hatred to life-gain abilities. It is perfectly suitable by adding it onto something, such as Lightning Helix, Sorin's Thirst or any Lifelink ability--but in general I do not like playing a card to just gain life. Heroes' Reunion, Sunspring Expedition, and Rest for the Weary are perfect examples of cards I would never play. They don't win games, they prolong games, and while prolonging games can give you the chance to draw another card, it is not stopping your opponent. Every time I play this card I kind of see it as:

Bad Lifegain card - 0
You gain 8 life. Each of your opponents may draw a card.

Even if the cost was free, you are beginning to see the drawbacks. If your opponent is winning, he will only be winning more. If you are playing this card and you were winning, you would much rather have the card beneath it to beat your opponent, or stop your opponent from playing the card the might get him out of the trouble he is in.

Now if I were to make a life gain deck, I would definitely be playing four of Sanguine Bond. This turns life gain into a win condition. My turn one-drop would probably be Golden Urn, and the rest of the deck would be anything to stop my opponent from winning. Day of Judgement, Consume the Meek, and Sorin's Vengeance are other good cards that I would play. But this is quite a silly deck that would never make it in a tournament. I would play other cards like Felidar Sovereign, but for the amount of effort for you to gain 40 life, you could have easily won the game with Sanguine Bond.

But as for this card, it just doesn't stand up to anything like the other "pro life gain" cards out there. It doesn't win games. It doesn't stop your opponent. And it's not even the best card for life gain out there. I understand that life gain cards can sometimes be clutch in the right times, but I would probably be playing Timely Reinforcements every time.

How to fix this card:

Fixed Spiritual Sanctuary - 2WW
At the beginning of each players upkeep, if that player controls a Plains, that player gains 1 life. Then, if that player has more life than target opponent, he or she may draw a card.

The card is already a rare, and one of the worst ones I have seen in a while to boot. By adding the conditional draw a card, it becomes a double-edged sword. But if you know anything about Magic: the Gathering, any drawback on a card can easily be thwarted for profit. Not to mention this fixed card would be an absolute bomb in multiplayer.

But as it stands, its just a terrible card. Costs too much, and can even help your opponent. 1/5

Interesting Play of the Week #2

Interesting Play of the Week #2:

With the 2011 M:tG Worlds concluding, I have to say the Interesting Play of the Week goes to Game 5 of Conley Woods vs. Craig Wescoe. Due to the holidays, I wasn't able to play very many Magic games this week, and none of which of my personal games were a true back and forth that this match played. I would normally talk about the finals match with Richard Bland vs. Jun'Ya Iyanaga and his quadruple Galvanic Blast, but those games for a finals match were especially disappointing. Richard Bland's deck had absolutely no answer in both his deck and sideboard to Iyanaga's titans, (specifically Inferno Titan in games 2 and 3) and seemed to be fighting his mana more than Iyanaga's threats on the board. Don't get me wrong, Iyanaga had some really good plays--and not just against Richard Bland--it's just that their decks were so vastly different and Richard Bland's deck was ill-equipped to take on a ramp deck with 8 titans. And not having a second white source to basically ever cast Hero of Bladehold really hurt him.

Anyways, I believe the closest match at 2011 Worlds was Conley Woods vs. Craig Wescoe in the top 8 quarter-finals. Conley Woods (and everybody else from Channel Fireball) was playing his Tempered Steel deck and Craig Wescoe was playing Geist of Saint Traft, which oddly enough was not relevant until the fifth game.

Luckily in the fifth game, neither opponent had to mulligan.* The game started off fairly slow:

Wescoe: Plains, Honor of the Pure
Woods: Plains, activate Inkmoth Nexus and Glint Hawk Idol, swing with both.
Woods: Plains, Etched Champion, swing with Glint Hawk

At this point Wescoe takes his draw, and pulls his two-of Oblivion Ring from his deck. He is holding a Timely Reinforcements, Fiend Hunter, Moorland Haunt**, Plains, Island, and Oblivion Ring. He could consider Oblivion Ringing the Etched Champion, but Woods has a Plains open and could activate his tapped Inkmoth for metalcraft, countering Oblivion Ring's effect. The same for Fiend Hunter. And with Glinthawk Idol deactivated, Timely Reinforcements won't give the soldier tokens at the moment. Wescoe decides to Oblivion Ring the Glint Hawk Idol, and swings with Geist, who is a 3/3 now because of Honor of the Pure, which brings in a 4/4 Angel token who is now a 5/5 with Honor of the Pure. Woods can no longer activate metalcraft with his Inkmoth with Glinthawk exiled, so Woods takes 8 unblocked combat damage.

Woods draws, swings with Etched Champion, plays an Inkmoth Nexus, Signal Pest, and taps out for Hero of Bladehold. The life totals are 12-14 with Wescoe having 1 poison counter. Wescoe top-draws a second Honor of the Pure. He taps his three mana and plays Fiend Hunter, exiling Hero of Bladehold when it enters. Wescoe then casts his second Honor of the Pure. He then swings with his now 4/4 Geist which brings in a 6/6 Angel token. Woods decides to save his Signal Pest and drops to 2 life.

Woods top-draws a Glint Hawk, not the idol but the creature. Woods holds in his hand, Dispatch, a second dispatch, and his newly drawn Glint Hawk. Woods thinks long and hard about his next move. He finally settles on activating his Inkmoth Nexus, and Dispatching the Fiend Hunter, returning his Hero of Bladehold to the battlefield. He swings with Etched Champion and Signal Pest, bringing his Wescoe down to 11 life. In his second main phase, he plays Glint Hawk, bouncing his activated Inkmoth back to hand, which he replays.

Wescoe is determined to get the last two points of life off of Woods, but he has an untapped Glint Hawk for the Angel block, and a Hero of Blade hold. Woods could also activate his Inkmoth for a blocker. Wescoe takes his draw and it is another Geist of Saint Traft, it is not very much use to him because it is a legendary creature, it would kill his other Geist as a state-based action if he let it enter the battlefield. Wescoe swings with his Geist which brings in the 6/6 flying Angel token. Woods blocks the Geist with his Inkmoth and blocks the Angel with his Glint Hawk. Woods realizes he made a mistake and using the last card in his hand, Dispatch's the Angel, saving his Glint Hawk before combat damage. In Wescoe's second main phase he casts Timely Reinforcements, not giving him the life but the three 1/1 soldier tokens. Woods says "sure" nervously, looking at his life total, which is still at 2.

Woods draws, and thinks hard about his next move and finally decides to swing with the board. His Hero of Bladehold brings in two more 1/1 soldier tokens, but with Signal Pest and Hero of Bladehold, all attacking creature get +2/+0 from Battle Cry. Wescoe spreads out Woods' cards and carefully calculates how much damage he will take. He has three 1/1 soldiers that are 3/3's thanks to two Honor of the Pure. Etched Champion doesn't have metalcraft because Woods hasn't activated his Inkmoth. Wescoe decides to block his two tokens and Etched champion. Combat damage resolves taking Wescoe down to 2 life. In Woods' second main phase he casts a Glint Hawk, returning his tapped Signal Pest to his hand, which he replays untapped, ready for Wescoe's next assault.

Wescoe takes his next draw and severely disappointed when he sees a Plains. He enters his attack step and before he can put his token into play, Woods arranges his cards to show his block. Woods loses both his Signal Pest and Glint Hawk. Wescoe stands around for a few seconds in his second main phase, and finally reveals he has no answer to Woods' Hero of Bladehold, and shakes his hand.

Thanks for tuning in to the Interesting Play of the Week #2! Don't forget to tell your friends about us where we talk about random cards and how good (or how bad) they are! A comic should be coming soon thanks to the courtesy of Lolzor's friend!

* - in one of their previous games Woods had to mulligan down to 5 cards, but ended up winning through good play.

** - it should be known that Moorland Haunt was never relevant because Woods never killed a creature, he only exiled them.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Random Card of the Day #13

Random Card of the Day #13:

Emissary of Despair - 1BB
Creature - Spirit
Whenever Emissary of Despair deals combat damage to a player, that player loses 1 life for each artifact he or she controls.

Initial thoughts:

It's a sideboard card. And an iffy one at that. It's difficult to explain. You only have 15 cards in your sideboard, and those 15 cards shouldn't be so specifically directed to say an artifact deck. This card is if you know you are playing an artifact deck. But otherwise it's a pretty lacking 3-cost 2/1. But for your sideboard you are better off playing something like something that is more likely to direct at the colors or archetype your opponents may be playing.

For example Deathmark is especially more effective against green and white over say a Doom Blade. It costs less and can get around G/B or other multi-colored creatures, such as Glissa, the Traitor. Or Infest. This card is particularly suited against swarm decks. Against control decks, if you can get it to resolve, play Head Games. You basically completely change your opponents hand. This card is absolutely brutal if you're winning. Otherwise you can stick to something simple like a Pithing Needle.

The point is, as a sideboard card, it is too narrow of a scope to be considered "main-decking" in your sideboard--if that makes any sense. It's still a decent card if it's relevant. If it's not relevant it falls off really quick in usefulness and almost any other creature would be better. Like Hypnotic Specter. I suspect this card was particularly amazing in the Mirrodinn Block or in Limited, when everyone had to be playing Artifacts because of the set. Kind of like how everyone was main-decking Divine Offering and Into the Core in Scars of Mirrodin sealed and limited. It is also important to note that Emissary's effect causes loss of life, which can't be prevented. If it was ever relevant with something like Reinforced Bulwark.

I'll give it a 3/5 if it's effect is relevant. It was probably a 4/5 in Limited.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Random Card of the Day #12

Random Card of the Day #12:

Sky Diamond - 2
Sky Diamond comes into play tapped.
{T}: Add U to your mana pool.

Initial thoughts:

I hate this card. Absolutely. I have no idea what card this could replace over others. If you are using this for mana acceleration, depending on the format: Silver Myr, Mox Sapphire (trying to avoid this), Prismatic Lens, Manalith, Prophetic Prism, Khalni Gem, Darksteel Ingot, Paradise Mantle, just to name a few. Some of the named cards cost more, but do more--drawing a card, adding any color instead of just U, being indestructible--each of which are more flexible and is not forced into a situation that may not be optimal for the deck.

The only thing I could think of is if you have a deck that is splashing blue but still wants to run March of the Machines, and didn't want to use a second Island over this card because your other colored lands are more important. That is terrible deck construction. And even still you might run Star Compass over it. Also considering you didn't splash green to get something simple like Rampant Growth.

What's so funny, is that this card along with the others in the cycle, I actually played Fire Diamond because I didn't own enough Mountains. Now this was before I really even knew how to play. I had a 92 card deck. I played Cloak of Feathers to draw a card, instead of Ponder. I played Kavu Recluse so I could splash green. My strongest card was Panther Warriors and Razorman Hunter. My strongest removal was Hand of Death. I mean everyone's had their share of poor deck constuction, but this was the epitome of mine: A WUBRG pinging deck.

How to fix this card:

Take away the enters the battlefield tapped. Then it can be somewhat useful. Or optionally raise the cost, add a cantrip.

Fixed Sky Diamond - 2
{T}: Add U to your mana pool.


Fixed Sky Diamond - 3
When Fixed Sky Diamond enters the battlefield, draw a card.
Fixed Sky Diamond enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add U to your mana pool.

The second one is oddly close to Prophetic Prism. But as that card stands currently, it is still one of the worst cards I have seen in a while. 1/5

On the other hand, the Mirage version of this card has some pretty sweet art.

Random Card of the Day #11

Random Card of the Day #11:

Kazuul Warlord - 4R
Creature - Minotaur Warrior Ally
Whenever Kazzul Warlord or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on each Ally creature you control.

Initials thoughts:

I have some history with this card, or rather my friend did. With the recent introduction of allies in the Zendikar block, he wanted to make an Ally synergy deck centered around this guy. It's a five-cost that is supposed to be "swarmy" and "up in your face" but it really doesn't do either of those. The other problem that my friend had a trouble with was his Jwari Shapeshifter was useless until turn 6, if he hit every land drop. It was probably poor deck construction, but for a five-cost in this block, I would stick to Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs.

One thing to notice is that he doesn't enter with the counter--he enters, and then you put the counter because his ability uses the stack. In other words, I bolted this guy a lot.

I suppose this guy is good, but for a rare he is especially lacking, he is no Oran-Rief Survivalist or Kazmandu Blademaster. He's just too high cost (even for his effect), if this guy cost 2R or 3R he could be amazing, but he's just another rare shoved under the rug. 3/5

Monday, November 21, 2011

Random Card of the Day #10

Random Card of the Day #10:

Marker Beetles
Creature - Insect
When Marker Beetles is put into a graveyard from play, target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
{2}, Sacrifice Marker Beetles: Draw a card.

Initial thoughts:

If I held this it would be one of my favorite cards. One of my favorite things on cards is "Draw a card." Something about playing a card, and not going down in hand size is amazing. For example I would always play Enervate or Twitch over Twiddle.

The only thing to note is that its +1/+1 ability is a must. So if your opponent something like a Diregraf Ghoul, and then Doom Blade's this creature, you would be forced to give +1/+1 to Diregraf Ghoul, letting him swing for 3, especially if you tapped out to play this card early you wouldn't get to sacrifice to draw a card. But that would be it's only drawback, and it's highly situational.

A three-cost 2/3 with abilities, it just all around good. With cantrip you wouldn't really regret drawing this card in most cases.

So if you're looking for a utility three-drop in Green, excluding ramping cards like Civic Wayfinder or Farhaven Elf. This is would probably be your best bet. If you want pure power, stick to Leatherback Baloth. 4/5

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Random Card of the Day #9

Random Card of the Day #9:

Paralyze - B
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
When Paralyze enters the battlefield tap enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap.
At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted creature's controller, that creature's controller may pay {4}. If he or she does, untap that creature.

Initial thoughts:

Reminds me of Narcolepsy--but in a different color. I find it odd that this kind of mechanic found it's way into blue. (Then again I could say the same for Harmonize or Brute Force.)

It basically shuts down creatures without activated abilities. I don't think I would play this card though. Sure it shuts down a creature but for one black mana, it would be used early in the game, and I don't know what early game cards would be a threat that couldn't be dealt with a more versatile two-drop, or something like a black Oblivion Ring for three: Oubliette. And if it was a creature that gave a lot of trouble, your opponent can still pay (albeit a hefty cost) to untap it. And it still doesn't stop your opponent from sacrificing his creature for other effects, such as Flesh-Eater Imp.

On the other hand, this card is an Enchantment so it's hard to deal with, especially against Red. I could see this being a huge deal against an aggro deck with Stromkirk Noble or Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration. -- but once again Disfigure or Dismember could just be more relevant and more versatile than a sorcery-speed Enchantment shutdown.

Seems like a sideboard card to me. A pretty effective one, but definitely won't be maindecking this. If the card is relevant to your opponent, probably give it a 3/5. Otherwise it just falls short or being effective and I would rather have the card beneath it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Random Card of the Day #8

Random Card of the Day #8:

Mindlash Sliver - B
Creature - Sliver
All Slivers have "{1}, Sacrifice this creature: Each player discards a card."

Initial thoughts:

I always imagined Slivers as the WUBRG elf. They have a ton of synergy with each other and are relatively low cost. That said, this Sliver just doesn't live up to that "synergy" between Slivers I was looking for.

Me and Slivers have a little bit of a history. I never owned a Sliver deck, it was always my friend's deck of choice. Several times after splitting rares by choice, we had argued over who gets what rare and what use it will have to each of us. To simplify things, we dueled and whoever won got first pick, and then we alternated in choosing. His deck of choice was always his WUBRG Sliver deck, and mine was always my Extended Burn deck. My deck had a lot of hate towards creatures, specifically cards that split damage such as Forked Bolt, Searing Blaze, Arc Trail, etc. As well as many pingers such as Cunning Sparkmage or Vithian Stinger*.

That being said, this Sliver doesn't live up to any of the other Slivers that have given me problems. Sure it's a 1/1 for 1 mana, but it's stopped by an opponents turn two-drop, and if you use it's ability, it cost you two cards and your opponent one card. I suppose if it's going to be removed you change it from a 1-for-1 trade, to a 2-for-2 trade, and if you don't have a hand then you 2-for-1'd your opponent, but only if it's being removed and you sacrifice it on the stack. Otherwise, it's a weak 1-for-1 trade. I would use something like Inquisition of Kozilek or Thoughtseize if I wanted targeted discard.

Then again if you don't have a hand in a Sliver deck, it probably means: your aggro deck is burning out, or you are losing. In both of these cases you don't want to lose a creature just to have an opponent discard a card. If you're burning out, you should be ready for that final swing against your opponent, not sacrificing a creature because you want an instant-speed discard.

This card could be amazing if you resolve a Splinter Twin on this, thereby locking your opponent out of any sorcery-speed cards if you got them down to a hand size of zero, but once you get those two cards out, it's going to become a huge target (then again any Splinter Twin'd creature is) and fairly easily removed. Good news, it's immune to Doom Blade.

A decent card, but it just doesn't live up to the Sliver synergy I was hoping for. Maybe I'm holding to too high of a standard, but it's just no Crystalline Sliver or Sedge Sliver. 2/5
Maybe 3/5 if you can make a deck around creating copies of this, or creating copies of other Slivers. A little more control-like than I think should exist in a Sliver deck, but it could work.

* I have a problem of skimming over cards for the first time and calling it something that looks like its name, but isn't. Several cards I have mispronounced and have forever changed the name of the card between friends.
Vithian Stinger :: Vitharian Stinger
Kazandu Blademaster :: Kazmandu Blademaster
are a couple of examples.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Random Card of the Day #7

Random Card of the Day #7:

Kami of Old Stone - 3W
Creature - Spirit

Initial Thoughts:

Meh. A four-cost "Defender". This card doesn't do anything. I suppose that's the problem. Defender cards, in my opinion, are supposed to be cheap so they can deal with aggro decks, and hopefully allow you to play more powerful cards.

Every time I would see this card being useful, there is another card that does it better. At four-cost, I would rather play Day of Judgement to deal with whatever's attacking me. Earlier in the game I would be playing Wall of Omens which would still stop most of everything that's attacking you, and lets you draw a card.

It just doesn't do anything really. It's suppose to stall the game, but at four mana you should casting spells to start winning the game. At four mana I would rather play Cloud Crusader or Razorfoot Griffin. These are four-costs that might be more easily removed, but serve a better purpose for both offense and defense. If I wanted an immovable wall that completely deterred attackers, I would rather play an enchantment such as Norn's Annex or Lightmine Field--one of which you could get out a lot faster. But if it had to be a creature for other reasons, Wall of Reverence would take it's place.

A bad card, but it's not completely useless. 2/5

Interesting Play of the Week #1

Welcome to Snow Covered Swamp's first Interesting Play of the Week!

Today's decks feature Lolzor's Modern Combo vs. my Blue/Black Archenemy Control.

Here's how the opening turns went.

L: Island. Swing for 1. Main phase 2: Bloom Tender.
L: Island. Freed from Real on Bloom Tender. Response: Counterspell. Lolzor thinks abouts tapping Bloom Tender in response to play Mana Leak, but tapping it would only give G, not GU yet because Freed from Real has not yet resolved. Lolzor curses as Llanowar Elves is not Birds of Paradise.

Lolzor resolves a Mindshrieker. End of turn I cast Ghastly Demise on Mindshrieker. Lolzor responds by milling the top card, only to be disappointed with a land. The stack resolves and Mindshrieker dies.

In the next couple of turns, Lolzor resolved another Mindshrieker. In case you wondered how his combo deck worked, take a look at Bloom Tender and Freed from Real. Mindshrieker is one of his win conditions. I end up resolving a facedown 2/2 Mischievous Quanar, stopping his Llanowar pings, but not his Mindshrieker.

Luckily, for the next four turns Mindshrieker only reveals lands off the top of my library. Many of which I needed (Dreadship Reef, Drowned Catacomb) because I was still missing my second black mana in the game. **

Finally on my draw step I get my second black mana, and Hideous End Lolzor's Mindshrieker. Lolzor responds with Ranger's Guile. Short on mana, I use the last counter on Saprazzan Skerry and sacrifice it to morph Mischievous Quanar, copying Hideous End and re-targeting Mindshrieker. Lolzor responds with Lightning Bolt, targeting Mischievous Quanar, which he dies--but his effect has already gone on the stack. The stack ends up resolving, Mischievous Quanar dies, Mindshrieker dies and Lolzor loses two life, then both Ranger's Guile and the first Hideous End are countered due to lack of targets. Luckily, my Bloodchief Ascension got a counter for the loss of Lolzor's life, but it was my first damage all game.

I end up drawing Dead Ringers killing Lolzor's Bloom Tender and Llanowar Elf. The battlefield is empty. Neither Lolzor nor I have any creatures left to play. We end up drawing for several turns with no avail. I end up casting a couple of creatures--Royal Assassin and Guul Draz Assassin--but their fates are quickly met with Mana Leak and Fireball. (Bloom Tender + Freed from Real + Fireball--in case you missed it.) Lolzor ends up resolving an Invisible Stalker and begins to slowly ping at my health.

The game ends up going really late as I finally have enough storage counters on Dreadship Reef to hard-cast Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, destroying one of Lolzor's lands. (I normally don't hard-cast it. As an Archenemy deck I usually wait for Introductions are in Order.) This normally spells "gg" but on Lolzor's turn he casts Freed from Real on Ulamog. Tapping him at the beginning of my turn. At this point Lolzor has pinged me down to 6 life.

Ulamog was kind of my only answer to Lolzor's removal, so he had to be my ticket to win. I end up drawing Black Sun's Zenith and casting it for X=7, turning Ulamog into a 3/3 and Sickening Shoal him, exiling Royal Assassin to send Ulamog to the graveyard, reshuffling him into my library and getting rid of Lolzor's Freed from Real--also destroying Invisible Stalker in the process.

On my next turn I Diabolic Tutor to find Ulamog again, and re-cast him. Lolzor takes his next draw and concedes revealing that he did not have an answer to a second Ulamog.

Thanks for tuning into Snow Covered Swamp! Come back daily for a Random Card of the Day as we talk about how good (or how bad) a card is!

** - in one of our previous games, Mindshrieker milled four cards, revealing: Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Royal Assassin, Summoner's Bane, and Black Sun's Zenith. 11 + 3 + 4 + 2 (X is considered zero when not on the stack.) = +20/+20 until end of turn. Mindshrieker was a 21/21 and swung for lethal. (I tried to use Leyline of Anticipation to flash in Tideforce Elemental, but forgot it doesn't have haste, so I was unable to tap Mindshrieker as we entered the combat step.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Interesting Plays of The Week


IPotW #9
IPotW #10
 IPotW #11
IPotW #12
IPotW #13
IPotW #14
IPotW #15
                                                              IPotW #16
                                                               IPotW #17
                                                               IPotW #18
                                                               IPotW #19

Random Card of the Day #6

Random Card of the Day #6:

Thundersong Trumpeter - RW
Creature - Human Soldier
{T}: Target creature can't attack or block this turn.

Initial thoughts:

Wow. This card is amazing. I haven't even thought of synergies yet with this card and it just stands out. It's a two-drop and a pretty insane one at that. Better yet, it's only a common, which means a few of these were probably floating around the table in Limited. Reminds me a little of Stun Sniper, but is more of a candidate to attack. Stun Sniper might be more useful so you can tap a creature end of opponent's turn, and then tap a creature on your own turn, but if you're playing aggro, you are probably winning trades in life totals anyways and would rather play this card.

It's a two-cost 2/1, but what it lacks in toughness it makes up for in it's tap effect. The way I see it, if you're winning, it's either enabling your creatures to swing or is doing the swinging itself. Playing this card means you have Red and White in your deck, two of the colors with the best removal in the game. If you're losing, it's still stopping your opponents 6/6. It may not be able to deal with things like Invisible Stalker, but just wow--this card is great.

If it's rarity went up, I don't know what else you could add to it. If it was a 2/2 it could be an uncommon, maybe even a rare. This card would be pretty crazy if it was in today's Standard.

An amazing card. I might even say it goes in every R/W aggro deck. 4/5

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Random Card of the Day #5

Random Card of the Day #5:

Deepwood Drummer - 1G
Creature - Spellshaper
{G}, {T}, Discard a card from your hand: Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

Initial thoughts:

A discard effect to pump one of your creature... it reminds me a little of Wild Mongrel. While both are completely different (Deepwood Drummer pumps other creatures while Wild Mongrel changes his color to avoid Doom Blade or Protection from Green cards) both have similar effects to pump for the cost of a discard.

This may be personal influence, but I love tap effect creatures. My all-time favorite card is Royal Assassin. I don't care too much that my opponent can "see" my play coming. However, I do hate cards that make me discard, especially ones where it is in the cost so it can't be avoided. Acceptable Losses is an example of a card I hate for that. If you don't discard you don't get the effect because you can't pay for it.

While I would sooner play Nantuko Disciple over this card, their mana costs are so different that you can't exactly compare the two side-by-side. Yes, you can turn any card in your hand into a Wax. The odds are you will probably never use this on your turn, and just save it for your opponent's turn. The way I see it, you swing with your creature(s), your opponent won't declare blocks because he knows you are just going to pump it after blockers have been declared. You don't care much for the extra damage early in the game, and use this creature to block, tap, and become a 3/3 blocker--if your opponent even decides to swing. It's a huge enabler on the battlefield that makes it so not even using it's effect its a threat, and you can swing almost with impunity. Almost.

If I were to make a deck around this. It would definitely include Basking Rootwalla just because of the madness effect--I suppose it could also pump itself fitting the "theme" of the deck.

I wonder how this card was in Limited. Pump effects tend to be amazing there especially with the lack of mass removal. Odds are it was pretty decent and won a fair amount of games if it wasn't dealt with. I see it as a more aggressive Blinding Mage. With a discard effect of course.

A good card. It may not fit every green deck, but when it does it can be pretty effective. 3/5

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Random Card of the Day #4

Random Card of the Day #4:

Strength of Cedars - 4G
Instant - Arcane
Target creature gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of lands you control.

Initial thoughts:
If it's a high cost buff spell, I compare it to Might of Oaks. It's a 5 cost instant that can be nifty in combat. I don't know about using this to save your creature from a Searing Blaze, though. If the creature was small enough to be burned, it probably wasn't worth saving with a 5 cost card. If the creature was large enough to not be burned, it was probably met with the fate of Go for the Throat. I mean it's a 5 converted mana cost card. This would see play mid-game, but for a 5 cost card, this is not what I would like to be playing.

How many more times will this be more relevant over Giant Growth? Typically Giant Growth alone turns the tide of combat in your favor. At 5 converted mana cost your creature is most likely getting at least +5/+5 until end of turn, but for one cheaper you get +7/+7 with Might of Oaks. So if you have eight lands out, why are you playing this card instead of something like Rude Awakening? Or for one more play Tooth and Nail.

Okay. It's an arcane spell. That means you can splice onto it. Splicing Blessed Breath won't help that much after blockers have been declared, not to mention it would go on the stack and would still die if your opponent is holding any removal. Splicing Consuming Vortex is a 9 mana play that might win you the game, but it's nine mana. I would sooner play Untamed Might for the versatility of the X cost in the card than get the extra +1/+1 for playing a 5 cost card. Want to play in response to removal? Play Vines of Vastwood.

Like any buff card, it can find it's tricks with swinging with a bunch of little creatures. Seven Eldrazi Spawn could be funny if you pumped one of them. But as aforementioned Untamed Might would be better as you could sacrifice the blocked Eldrazi to make one bigger. It won't find use in any infect decks as Infect typically goes for a quick win with Mutagenic Growth. 5 converted mana cost is just hard to put with a Green buff card.

It only requires one green so I guess it's splashable? I wouldn't splash green for this card. I would rather splash Gaea's Might instead. Or probably just stick to Giant Growth. Splash Red, make it a land, and you have Kessig Wolf Run.

How to fix this card:
Make this thing give the creature trample. Or give it a splice cost.

Fixed Strenth of Cedars - 4G
Instant - Arcane
Target creature gains +X/+X and trample until end of turn, where X is the number of lands you control.
Splice onto Arcane - 4G

A really bad card. It has it's uses, but every other card just does it better. 1/5

Monday, November 14, 2011

Random Card of the Day #3

Random Card of the Day #3:

Stonybrook Schoolmaster - 2W
Creature - Merfolk Wizard
Whenever Stonybrook Schoolmaster becomes tapped, you may put a 1/1 blue Merfolk Wizard creature token into play.

Initial thoughts:

A nifty card. It needs to be an early drop for it to be useful. It won't exactly save games for you, or allow 2-for-1's on your opponent, but it also enables small combos. It would somewhat prevent white weenie control decks, say against Gideon's Lawkeeper or more expensively a Dawnglare Invoker. Actually those creatures would work well with yourself too.

It helps you enormously when winning. Would probably fit perfect into a R/W aggro deck.

T1: Stromkirk Noble
T2: Journey to Nowhere or any two-drop
T3: This

Things can get going fast with this card, as long as the board stays clear. Red or White removal is some of the best in the game. (See: Swords to Plowshares)

However, it suffers the same thing that any other creature that is strong, but weak to removal. It's removed by a Doom Blade, Arc Trail (I don't think your opponent would Dismember this, though) You're opponent plays a three-drop 3/3 (say Trained Armodon) and you can't remove it, you can't exactly swing. If your opponent had a 2/1 it could prove to be an interesting trade--you trade creatures and you get a 1/1 blocker which can swing next turn.

A nifty card. 3/5
Merfolk Wizards have a tendency to be in blue, so I might play it with something like Tideforce Elemental...
Maybe it's a 4/5 just for small combos. It should definitely stall the game for a while until you draw the winning card if you get thought two out, or just flat out win if your opponent can't deal with seven 1/1's after a lengthly game.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random Card of the Day #2

Random Card of the Day #2:

Trained Armodon - 1GG
Creature - Elephant

Initial thoughts:

Generally a very bland card. What people call a "vanilla" creature. Typically vanilla creatures never see play, unless it beats the so-called mana curve of vanilla creatures. A 1 cost 1/1 won't see a lot of play, it's basically a waste of a card compared to any two-drop. If you make the 1-drop Raging Goblin though, a 1 cost 1/1 haste is much better. Maybe not strong enough to be in Standard, but still a card to be dealt with on kitchentop Magic.

Two-drops have been defined in the past as Grizzly Bears. "The bear minimum of playability" as others have a deemed it. Pun intended. When you get to three cost drops, sometimes you have to consider you may not have a third land drop on the third turn, so three-drops should be a little more powerful than a vanilla 3/3. In addition, Trained Armodon is more mana intensive than other without being more powerful. For example a mana intensive vanilla creature that did see play was Leatherback Baloth.

A pretty crappy card. I could see it being played in Limited, but probably as a 5th or 6th pick.
Limited: 3/5
Constructed: 2/5