Monday, October 14

Gr Devotion

I first became interested in the Gr Devotion deck when I saw that it top4ed a SCG Open. I wasn't thrilled with the version I saw though, so I didn't pay it much attention until I saw Makihito Mihara playing the deck on Friday at PT Theros. That's when I went and bought the rest of the cards I needed and put something together. I didn't have Mihara's decklist but I figured I'd be able to wing it.

It turns out Mihara was one of few people playing the deck at the Pro Tour and he ended up top4ing. I've been tuning my version since then and I've arrived at this:

4 Elvish Mystic
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
2 Kalonian Tusker
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Voyaging Satyr
2 Nylea, God of the Hunt
4 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Arbor Colossus

4 Domri Rade
1 Xenagos, the Reveler
4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts

4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nix
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Abandon
10 Forest
1 Mountain

2 Mistcutter Hydra
4 Mizzium Mortars
2 Nylea's Disciple
1 Scavenging Ooze
2 Skylasher
1 Stormbreath Dragon
2 Wasteland Viper
1 Xenagos, the Reveler

I started with 4 Kalonian Tusker because I thought it just made too much sense in a green devotion deck and therefore thought it was in Mihara's deck. It turns out he played 0 copies. I still like a few because it does some cool things some of the time and it's a good creature to Domri-fight with. They get boarded out about half the time.

The rest of the maindeck is very similar to Mihara's but that doesn't mean I haven't tried variations. This is what I've arrived at after a lot of trial and error.

In the sideboard Skylasher and Stormbreath Dragon are the only standouts. Skylasher is helpful against Mono Blue, especially when they don't see it coming. Taking a Tidebinder Mage out for free is really nice. Skylasher isn't a game ender, which is why there's only a few. It's definitely a sweet card to have early on against them to make sure they don't put too much pressure on you.

Stormbreath Dragon has been competing with/complementing Mistcutter Hydra for slots. They're really similar. Both are good against UW, Mistcutter is good against Mono Blue, and Dragon is okay against Wr Aggro. This is why I like having a split on them.

I've played with Xenagos a bit and I really can't figure out how good he is. I'm still playing him but it's been confusing. I much prefer Domri+Garruk but there are those times that Domri gets Needled that I don't like playing 4 copies. Normally Domri is great against matchups that have Needle so it's awkward. If there were an Acidic Slime type card I would surely be boarding 1 (Sylvan Primordial is too expensive for me, thanks).

Questions, comments? Let me know below or on twitter!

(Update 10/18/13)

To my surprise, after playing with the deck more I've come even closer to matching Mihara's original decklist. One thing that I've now learned is that cards like Stormbreath Dragon, while very good against control, don't do anything to help against Supreme Verdict which is the primary problem in those matchups. For that reason I've made a few changes to help against the card.

I've decided I don't much care for Xenagos except against wrath effects but it's still not a bad card (very similar to Garruk Wildspeaker) and I don't know what else I'd rather play MD anymore.

Bramblecrush serves as an answer to Pithing Needle and Detention Sphere but is also capable of destroying a land, a Jace, or an Elspeth. It's akin to Sylvan Primordial except it doesn't cost 7.

The lone Mutavault is also to help against wrath effects. I typically cut 2 ramp creatures to hedge and Mutavault makes up for those.

Monday, September 16

Boozecube Previews (pics)

So far I've used this blog primarily to post decklists and to talk about my cube endeavors. I expect that most readers are mostly interested in decklists but I would like to talk about cube, cube design, and sometimes just Magic design.

So here it goes.

If you don't already know what boozecube is, it's a format designed by Jay Boosh that makes use of custom cards to incorporate drinking into a game of Magic, a novel idea. I've taken on the daunting task of designing my own Magic set for play alongside drinking. Getting it all right will certainly be a challenge but it'll be a lot of fun too. The set is 142 cards and will be accompanied by 218 normal Magic cards which I have a speadsheet for but it is currently outdated.

The design process is mostly done but the cube needs to be playtested a few times before I can call it version 1.0. Thus, I am going to reveal some previews for it and talk about how I designed them.

(Boozetouch is one of two primary forms of drinking. It's the "poison" of boozecube. Whenever a creature with it deals damage to a player, they drink one increment of beer/wine/whatever you like and the ability accumulates. The other that is also seen on this card is drinking as a cost, in this case for ninjutsu)

A clear allusion to Huntmaster of the Fells, this card was designed to be part of a cycle of ninjas that were originally all Izzet hybrid cards. This one had to evolve to actually make sense as a Magic card. The ideology behind the boozecube features a few slight changes to the original Magic color pie but blue having access to this kind of removal isn't one of them.

As a boros card, it makes a lot more sense. Though, red has no other cards that allow it to make Bottle tokens. That really belongs to white and blue.

The idea behind giving a card like this mountainwalk and plainswalk is that as a 2/2 in a high powered cube it is pretty small. It's ability should actually be something the opponent needs to be afraid of. And it's also a nice way to get through some unblockable boozetouch damage.

Black Out is part of a cycle of cards that were designed as a "tilt cycle." The goal is for these cards to be as tilting as possible. For that goal I decided that a cycle of free spells that are actually high impact (at least, in the right matchup) would be the way to go. Originally, you only had to control one of the basic land type for each card but I wanted to make them at least "fair." That also allowed me to accomplish another goal, which is to incentivize players to stay out of 3+ colors.

Taking a shot appears on only a handful of cards. As you can imagine, it's a powerful ability and thus also very costly as it appears on this cycle.

For this one, I chose -2/-2 to all creatures in order to give black a way to deal with a swarm of creatures. Just killing a creature is something that appears frequently in black and the cycle has to be impactful in order for it to accomplish the goal of tilting opponents.

Betterblossom is a top-down design based off of Shahar Shenhar thinking that Commander's Authority was a playable draft card when preparing for Pro Tour Barcelona (he drafted 3 copies and referred to it as Betterblossom). As it stands, this card may not be good enough for the boozecube but it's always important to work inside jokes into every aspect of life.

I've only been watching Game of Thrones for one season but I like Hodor. I like him enough to design a cards around him. It's designed to be very unique (annihilator on a 4-drop) but at the same time almost no one will ever want to pick Hodor because of his drawback (despite that this is the easiest way to force a shot even if you have to pour it).

Just remember that when you drink, drink to Hodor!

I designed a Planeswalker for each color that fits well into the boozecube's newly arranged color pie. Frank's plus ability is a bit of a cop-out but it works for black because black is the only color that doesn't have much access to boozetouch. Black is the color that often forces your opponent to drink in other ways.

The second ability is something we've seen black do before and while it doesn't tie in with the character all that well it is something I like seeing on a Planeswalker.

We've also seen the ultimate ability before but it's just too perfect when stuck to this character.

Each color has a mythic rare (rarity in the set only matters in regards to power level) that accentuates that color's roles. Green features aggressive cards (paired with red) and cards that interact well with the graveyard (paired with black). Sephiroth pulls those two together nicely. Its ability can work after a bloody combat, after a Dread Return, or after some clever use of Birthing Pod.

(Intoxicate is the infect of boozecube except that in this cube the creature still deals normal combat damage)

If you haven't figured out thus far, I really like designing in cycles. This is part of another cycle of allied colored split cards that feature the fuse mechanic (at an additional cost). The two sides are designed to have synergy together though it may not be immediately obvious, as is the case with Drunken/Bees.

This card may not end up being all that powerful. It's situational but granting intoxicate can be really devastating if timed correctly though.

I think that's enough previews for today but I'd love to hear your feedback or ideas on my endeavor. Tweet at me or post below!

Theros Brews, Pauper and Modern Decklists (pics)

Last night towards the end of my stream, I decided to brew up a decklist that I would be interested in playing in the post Theros format. I wanted to start with GR Aggro because of how much I like Polukranos and Stormbreath Dragon but I also want to look at GW Aggro and WU Control. Here are my initial ideas:


4 Elvish Mystic
4 Experiment One
4 Kalonian Tusker
3 Scavenging Ooze
2 Boon Satyr
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Polukranos, World Eater
4 Stormbreath Dragon

4 Domri Rade
3 Mizzium Mortars

4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Abandon
12 Forest
4 Mountain

There are no Burning-Tree Emissary because it doesn't fit well with Tusker, which is a card I like better in this deck. Boon Satyr may not be good enough to be included in large numbers but it's still a 4 power 3-drop and that's something I want. Magma Jet is probably not better than Mizzium Mortars but I could see a combination. The new planeswalker, Xenagos, is fine but I would prefer to play 4 Domri and the two don't mix that well. Xenagos does interact well with all of our late game mana sinks so it's something I will try at some point, sideboard at least. Fitting Mutavault into the manabase is probably too greedy, especially when we already have so many late game mana sinks.


4 Elvish Mystic
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Fleecemane Lion
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Loxodon Smiter
4 Polukranos, World Eater

4 Advent of the Wurm
4 Selesnya Charm
2 Ajani, Caller of the Pride

4 Temple Garden
4 Selesnya Guildgate
8 Forest
8 Plains

I'm not sure which of the available 1-drops are best but Soldier is worth a shot over Dryad Militant. Experiment One has been great in Standard so far so that could still be the way to go. It even works with Ajani in a cute way. Ajani is a card I think can shine in correct circumstances. This deck is incredibly dense so I think it's perfect for Ajani, so long as he's easily castable. The God weapons in red, green, and white are all playable in my opinion but they need to be better than the alternatives and I think Ajani is better in this case.


1 AEtherling

4 Chained to the Rocks
4 Syncopate
1 Celestial Flare
4 Azorius Charm
2 Azorius Keyrune
4 Detention Sphere
4 Supreme Verdict
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
4 Sphinx's Revelation

4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Azorius Guildgate
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents
2 Mutavault
3 Island
5 Plains

I hit a wall while working on this deck. There are almost no good cards from Theros to help this deck along so I decided that I wanted to give the new 1-drop removal spell a try. Playing 8 additional dual lands isn't ideal, and my just not be worth it, but Chained to the Rocks gives you a Swords to Plowshares type effect that works well with Jace's -2 ability. Otherwise we could always adopt Pacifism or Sensory Deprivation. Going deeper into red could be the way to go but for now I'm sticking to this idea. I would love to be able to play 4 Mutavault in this type of deck but I'm pretty conservative when it comes to mana, at least before any testing.

Going deeper into red could definitely alleviate some of the card quality issues in just UW. It also means that we get access to scrylands but at the cost of Mutavaults and being a more streamlined deck. We'll have to wait and see how important Thunder Strike, Warleader's Helix, and friends are to the new format. And for the record, I'm not a huge fan of Steam Augury. I'm a much bigger fan of Jace, though alongside more instant speed removal it probably has a place. 

Also last night, Pauper bannings were announced. Temporal Fissure and Cloudpost both met the hammer which I think is great for the format. I took a decklist that I brewed up previously in the format (but knew it was bad in a Cloudpost format) and updated it for my expectations of the new format:

4 Fume Spitter
4 Augur of Skulls
4 Chittering Rats
1 Crypt Rats
4 Mulldrifter

1 Snuff Out
1 Brainstorm
1 Disfigure
1 Undying Evil
1 Vendetta
1 Grim Harvest
1 Oona's Grace
1 Soul Manipulation
1 Traumatic Visions
1 Spinning Darkness
4 Tragic Slip
4 Diabolic Edict
3 Mystical Teachings

3 Dimir Aqueduct
2 Dimir Guildgate
4 Evolving Wilds
12 Swamp
1 Island

3 Basilica Screecher
1 Crypt Rats
1 Disfigure
1 Dispel
4 Duress
1 Echoing Decay
1 Grim Harvest
1 Psychic Strike
1 Soul Manipulation
1 Spinning Darkness

This type of deck has a natural advantage against creature decks which is what most of the remaining format is made of but it also has enough card advantage to fight through control decks. A deck comprised of mostly countermagic would give us a hard time but if we can deal with their threats (easy enough), then that'll give us a chance for our engines to take over.

I used to employ a Probe and/or Trinket Mage Engine but I've decided the Mystical Teachings engine is going to be the way to go. It's less clunky than Probe, more versatile than Trinket Mage, and works through discard and countermagic. It also allows the deck to play a lot of sweet singletons as seen above. I would list the sweetest ones, but I'd end up listing almost all of them.

As for Theros additions, Read the Bones is a viable option but I've always said that if you're playing blue you can do better when it comes to card draw.

Lastly, if you missed my Living End decklist that I've started streaming with, here it is:

4 Fulminator Mage
2 Shriekmaw
4 Deadshot Minotaur
4 Monstrous Carabid
4 Street Wraith
3 Pale Recluse
2 Twisted Abomination
4 Jungle Weaver

3 Living End
4 Demonic Dread
4 Violent Outburst

4 Blackcleave Cliffs
3 Copperline Gorge
1 Raging Ravine
1 Blood Crypt
1 Stomping Ground
1 Godless Shrine
1 Overgrown Tomb
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Swamp
2 Forest

2 Avalanche Riders
1 Domri Rade
2 Faerie Macabre
3 Ingot Chewer
2 Jund Charm
2 Shriekmaw
3 Sin Collector

There's no Dryad Arbor because you rarely need to have one for Demonic Dread and even when you do it's really situational. The deck doesn't need more dead cards either.

The 1 Domri Rade in the sideboard could easily be a 4th Sin Collector but I've had good results with him so far. It serves as a way to circumvent hate while still being a bro otherwise. I bring him in against Tron and UWR.

A Daily Event with a similar decklist will go up on ChannelFireball in a few days so look for that and if you'd like to watch the archived stream from yesterday go here. Thanks for reading!

C/Ube Revamp (pics)

Last year I blogged a lot about "Cube: Legacy" which was a form of cube that involved progressively adding errata to cards in a "level up" fashion. It was based on Risk: Legacy and the idea came about from past Magic designer Gregory Marques. You can read about it from my earlier blog posts but I've since dropped the idea. It was a great idea and fun while it lasted but there were too many obstacles to continue it (primarily the upkeep and barriers to entry for a lot of players).

One of the reasons I liked the idea was because my cube is only commons and uncommons so it added an aspect that deepened the format when it otherwise might be considered dull. But the design of my cube has come a long way since then. I've only just revamped it so there hasn't been much play with it but if functions pretty similarly to Modern Masters draft and it isn't dull in my opinion.

I'm also undertaking another cube project in Boozecube (which I'll post about soon). It's not hard to come up with ways to drink while playing Magic but the idea of designing a format around it was enticing so I took Jay Boosh's idea of Boozecube and made it my own. I'm still working on it and, of course, there's lots of playtesting (read: drinking) to be done so it's a work in progress.

The new C/Ube list was influenced by Eric Klug's cube which he tweets about and has written about. The new list can be viewed here on, which is an amazing website for cubers by the way. I shaved it down to 510 (or so) cards in order to better support specific archetypes including the following:
  • Wx Aggro/Rebels
  • Rx Aggro
  • Azorius Control
  • W, R, and/or G Tokens
  • B, G, and/or U Dredge
  • Rakdos (+g/w) Aristocrats
  • UB Reanimator
  • Gxxx Ramp.
There are still a few oddball rules in the cube. Primarily, white 2 and 3-drops have rebel errata. Otherwise, white would be a pretty awful color. Squadron Hawk is also in the cube and it comes with three additional Hawks that you can wish for rather than fill your library with. And damage goes on the stack like in the old days.

Here are some sample decks that I drafted on

Orzhov Aristocrats/Tokens

Azorius Control with a black splash

Golgari "Aristocrats"

Red Aggro with a green splash

Saturday, March 23

Currently Playing

Modern: RWU Wafo Tapa Control

4 Celestial Colonnade
2 Sulfur Falls
2 Steam Vents
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Sacred Foundry
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Arid Mesa
1 Plains
1 Mountain
3 Island
3 Tectonic Edge

4 Snapcaster Mage

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Path to Exile
2 Spell Snare
1 Izzet Charm
4 Lightning Helix
3 Shadow of Doubt
2 Electrolyze
2 Supreme Verdict
4 Cryptic Command
1 Batterskull
2 Sphinx's Revelation

2 Batterskull
1 Counterflux
2 Negate
2 Runed Halo
2 Stony Silence
1 Isochron Scepter
3 Vendilion Clique
1 Wrath of God
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

 Standard: Esper Control

2 Snapcaster Mage
2 Augur of Bolas
1 Restoration Angel

4 Devour Flesh
4 Azorius Charm
4 Think Twice
2 Liliana of the Veil
2 Dissipate
4 Supreme Verdict
3 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Planar Cleansing
4 Sphinx's Revelation

24 Duals
3 Nephalia Drownyard

1 Blind Obedience
1 Duress
3 Negate
1 Planar Cleansing
4 Rest In Peace
1 Tragic Slip
3 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Witchbane Orb