Archive for the ‘Magic’ Category

The MTG Finance Drinking Game

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Sometimes when browsing prices in major online retailers, the only logical thought is: “Man, the person who set these prices must’ve been completely shitfaced. That, or it was 1,000 monkeys working at 1,000 typewriters.” Well why should Ben Bleiweiss be the only one drunk at the helm? In honour of some of the recent ridiculous bullshit to come from Star City Games, I have devised this drinking game to help everyone in the MTG finance community take the edge off.

Da Rules:

1. Whenever SCG randomly doubles the price of a card just because they can: drink.
2. Whenever a site jacks up the price on a slightly misaligned card calling it a “rarity”: drink.
2a. If the card in question was printed at Carta Mundi: do a shot.
3. Whenever a bulk rare you went deep on in speculation hits $2 or more on buylists: buy everyone a drink.
4. Whenever players bitch about the secondary market price of limited edition products: have a snifter of brandy and a fine cigar while looking down on them.
5. Whenever Mike Flores writes an article about a card: Chug a beer, then sell into the hype.
6. Whenever you find a card that ABU Games buys for more than they sell on ebay: do a shot, then add the card to your buylist cart.
7. Whenever you find a card on Star City Games, ABU Games, Channel Fireball, or Troll and Toad for cheaper then it’s available on ebay: WAKE UP! You clearly passed out from all the drinking and still think you’re playing.
8. Whenever a dealer refuses to honour a sale because of a sudden price spike: take two shots, then go blast them on Twitter.
9. Whenever someone tries to guilt you into giving them value because it’s their Pack to Power binder: drink, then unfriend Medina.
10. Whenever Ben Bleiweiss purchases cards from you on ebay: do a shot, because you know you’re getting negative feedack.
11.Whenever someone who doesn’t play Magic sees your cards and the first thing they say is “What’s the most expensive card you own?”: drink
11a. If instead they say “Have you heard of a Black Lotus?” or “Do you have a Black Lotus?”: Do a shot.
12. Whenever someone accuses your prices of being too high even though you’re the lower than every price on ebay, TCG Player, and every major online retailer: drink, then block them.
13. Whenever someone from craigslist sends you an excel file with every single card they own priced out (Including 20x Scathe Zombies at $0.25 each) and is willing to sell you the lot for only 80% of it’s supposed value, but not a penny less: down a bottle of gin while contemplating if this is really what you want to do with your life.

Have fun, and I’m open to suggestions for addition rules!

Why I Will Never Stop Designing Cards

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

I haven’t been writing nearly enough lately, and I really need to remedy that. I’ve been thinking a lot about design recently, although that’s not exactly anything new. For the Great Designer Search 2 I wrote about I had to write a little bit about myself and why I would be good for Magic design. I recalled how I have been designing cards for years, which for me started around Ice Age. How did I get there? Well let’s go on a journey.

They Don’t Make Staples Like They Used To

Yeah, I sound like a crotchety old man, get over it. We currently have over 12,000 different cards. That’s a fucking lot, about 12 times what we had back then. With such a comparatively small card pool, choices were obviously much more limited. In modern day Magic, there’s really no such thing as staples anymore, outside of lands. Back then, however, it was a totally different story. We had Wrath of God, Counterspell, Dark Ritual, Lightning Bolt, Birds of Paradise. These are cards that are still anywhere from “incredible” to “unfair” by today’s standards. If you wanted spot removal you just grabbed a Swords to Plowshares or Terror and didn’t give it as second thought. These are the things cards did, and we were perfectly happy with them. We used our tools and we built our decks. As time passed, we got pretty damn good at building our decks. I think this is the time when the design spark awakens in those of us who have it. First you have to get good at the game. Not great, not the best, but good. You need to spend enough time building decks that you ask yourself the question “What can other cards do to help this deck?” that you finally pause and think “What can’t other cards do yet?” Or you could just be a drunk frat boy that wants to turn Magic into a drinking game. I’m looking at you, @BoozeCube! Anyway, this is what leads me to the most important part of the journey.

The Three Stages of Design Spark

I can only speak to this experience as it struck me and others whom I have directly spoken to about the matter. As the process was the same for all of us, however, I think there’s a good chance that many of you followed this same pattern.

stage One: Parody/Humour Cards – Do you like to laugh? Sure, we all do! What better way to get into the spirit of Magic design then doing it to make others laugh. Maybe you stole the idea from The Duelist or Inquest, maybe you saw something funny in a piece of Magic artwork and needed to modify the card to reflect this image, or maybe you just wanted to make a hilarious and unique gift of a custom card for one of your friends. Whatever the reason, this is where we all seem to start. The problem with joke cards is that they are frequently impossible under Magic rules, are top down designs resulting in unplayable garbage, or are extremely overpowered because you think it’s funny for Galactus to be a 100/100 creature for 0 mana. These cards range the gamut from hilarious to cancer-inducingly unfunny. No matter how funny they are, however, they are seldom good designs. Once you’ve “mastered” the art of comedy, however, it’s time to progress further.

Stage Two: Vanity Cards – **NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that perhaps not everyone goes through this stage, but rather that myself and everyone I have previous associated with are all megalomaniacs. I do not rule this possibility out, but I’ll still leave this here /NOTE** You’ve designed yourself as a Magic card. Admit it. Maybe you were a legendary creature, maybe you were a planeswalker, or maybe you were a brushwagg, but you absolutely did it. And there’s no shame in that! I’ve been designing cards for upwards of 17 years now, you think I haven’t made multiple cards for myself and all my friends? Much like joke cards, however, these have their issues. They tend to either just be a subset of joke cards or are extremely broken because you’re an arrogant douche. No, we get it bro, you totally have haste, double strike, protection from suckas, and trample. But not banding, cause you’re a renegade and you work alone. For most people, this is where it ends. They’re perfectly happy trying to be funny and stroking their own egos. As for me? I already knew that I’m hilarious and that I’m incredible before custom card design. But am I designer?

Stage Three: Legitimate Design – For many, the design spark doesn’t bring them this far. Either they just want to make joke cards or the spark doesn’t burn brightly enough inside them. That’s fine with me, because quite frankly there’s already too many of us competing for nonexistent design jobs. Whether the jobs exist or not, however, we will keep designing cards. It may seem absurd, but we can’t help it. Many of us have an innate need to create something. For many it brings them to music, writing, architecture, carpentry, information systems design, pretty much anything. But for a handful of us, Magic cards are that thing we need to create. We asked “Am I designer?” and at some point we receive affirmation. Well, if the answer is potentially yes, anyway. Many of the others I talk to design about have seen at least one of their own creations printed on cards. I think this is really the point of no return. Once you see a card you designed printed almost word for word and in your hand, how could you ever give up? I even had the extremely rare pleasure of seeing one of my first three designs, possibly my very first one but hard to remember, see print. If I could get it so right all those years ago, shouldn’t I be even better at it now?

It’s Not An Ego Thing

Yes, for once in my life, something has nothing to do with my ego. You see, I’m sure some people ask why it matters if we’re the ones actually working for R&D if we see some of our designs printed, but it’s really not the same. This is probably the hardest part to explain, because it’s one of those things that just seems so intuitive I don’t have words for it. When you want to create something, the two most rewarding parts are seeing the finished product, and seeing others enjoy what you have made. It’s not about receiving individual credit, but rather knowing that your work has directly resulted in something that made others happy. Except now it sounds not just like egotism but like smug egotism. I dunno. Like I said, this is the hardest part to explain because it’s really conceptual and science has yet to create a machine that will let me momentarily transfer my consciousness into your brain so you can fully understand what the fuck it is I’m trying to explain. Way to drop the ball, science. AGAIN. If anyone really doesn’t understand this part, feel free to ask me questions on here or on Twitter and I’ll try to explain better.

But, albeit not explained as well as I’d like, that is why I and others like me will continue designing cards: it’s what I want to do, it’s what I need to do, and like that 60 year old guy who’s still playing original songs in local bars despite never selling a single album, I just wouldn’t know how to stop if I tried.

The Casual Player’s Guide to Going Infinite in MTGO Limited

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

People have asked me how you can possibly go infinite on MTGO only playing limited. I’ve talked about it in the limited and scheduled rooms online before and discussed it with a few people, but since I’ve been asked so many times I figured I should finally just write up something that I (and others) can point to whenever the question comes up.

The title of this article may be a little confusing. Would a casual player care or be capable of going infinite? Well of course they’d care because it means they don’t have to pay any more money; that’s always appealing. As for being capable? Depends on the player. You see, in this context casual is referring to a mindset, not a skill level. I play a lot of Magic Online for sure, but I am never grinding qualifier points. If your goal is to triple or quadruple queue to grind out QPs as fast as you possibly can, or to only play against the best of the best because anything else is meaningless, than this is probably not the article for you. Oh sure, it’ll all still work, you just won’t be happy because you aren’t getting what you want out of the game.

Am I Capable of Going Infinite?

I have no idea. I can tell you how, but I can’t play your games for you. Qualifier points are the easiest way I have of measuring your skill, however. Since I have gone infinite, I will use myself as a baseline here. I play one or two events most nights. Sometimes none, sometimes more, but 1-2 a night is pretty standard. If you play that many events, you should have earned enough or just shy of enough to qualify for every MOCS season championship with two byes, which is 35 QPs. Figure out how much you play relative to how much I do, then just multiply that percentage times 35 QPs. If that number is close to or less than the QPs you earned in a season, then you should be fine. If that number is higher than you earned, particularly if it’s like double or something, then you’re probably not there yet.

If your numbers are way off, that does NOT mean you should stop reading. Maybe you could be there but are playing the wrong events. Otherwise, this will help you at least minimize your losses until your game improves to the point where you can go infinite. Just want to make sure your expectations of whether or not this is likely to work right away.

The Key to Drafting – I Don’t Care What You Win

There are three different types of draft: Swiss, 4-3-2-2, and 8-4. I’ll assume you understand the prize payout for each of these. Magic players love talking about EV, or expected value. This is why most players don’t play in the correct event. In Swiss, there is a total of 12 prize packs. In 4-3-2-2, there is a total of 11 prize packs. In 8-4, there is a total of 12 prize packs. In terms of strict math, the EV of Swiss and 8-4 is 1.5 packs while the EV of 4-3-2-2 is slightly less. In terms of the real world, this is total bullshit and not even a correct application of EV.

The EV of a booster pack is the average value a booster pack will contain. Sometimes you will open a bulk rare, and sometimes you will open a $50 mythic. However, draft queues don’t work that way. Yeah, sometimes you will win 0 packs, but you will never win all 12 packs. Also, something like a booster pack is “completely random” over a large sample size. Drafting, however, is not because there is a skill factor involved as well. Yes, the average player in Swiss events will likely average 1.5 packs over a significant sample size. In an 8-4 queue, however? Not a chance. The average player in a single 8-4 queue can expect 0 packs. Extend that to a significant sample size and add variance (You’re going to get lucky eventually), and for an average player the number will be higher than 0, but not sure it will be higher than 1. Granted you should be an above average player if you’re interested in this, but that’s still a pretty big gamble.

Now let’s look at 4-3-2-2. These are the drafts that I play. There’s 1 less prize pack, but who cares? I can’t win all 11 or 12 packs, so all I care about is what I win, not what anyone else gets. An average player should expect roughly 2 packs per event over a significant sample size and with variance included. That is to say, given an infinite number of drafts it’s reasonable that an average player will average a 1-1 record. Sometime’s they’ll lose round 1, sometimes they’ll win. Two packs isn’t enough to break even unless you open money, however we should all be above average players attempting to do this so hopefully that number will be a little higher.

Since I mentioned opening money cards, this is another reason you draft 4-3-2-2. These events are only slightly more difficulty than Swiss, but they’re much softer than 8-4 events (At least in theory. I’ve been in some 8-4’s that were so soft I had to ask my opponent if I had signed up for Swiss by accident). However, in Swiss you will never be passed a card worth anything because everyone rare drafts, and you can also get screwed by inexperienced players who don’t know how to signal properly. In an 8-4 you can get passed a couple 2-3 dollar cards, but even if you take 2 or 3 of those you will lose money when you win 0 packs. The 4-3-2-2 queues are the best of both worlds. You can get passed some mid value cards, but you can also afford to throw away a pick taking one of these. When Avacyn Restored was relatively new, I entered a 4-3-2-2 draft. I opened a Sigarda, Host of Herons pack 2, and after quickly checking the price on MTGO Traders decided to take it even though I would not be running it. yes, I threw away my first pick for a card I’d be able to sell for 4.5 tix. However, when you consider that you can expect to win 2 packs in these events and that a pack sells for about 3.5 tix, now all of the sudden we’re only 1 dollar away from breaking even. if you can sell the rest of your draft pool for a dollar or if you go better than 1-1 then you’re already even or better. And if you’re lucky enough to open an actual money rare you can sell for 20 tix, now you’re even on your next five consecutive 1-1 records, so anything you open or any record better than 1-1 is pure profit to negate those awful 0-1 events you have.

Sometimes Round 1 Gets the Best of You

Have you ever been drafting a really strong deck but knew that the guy who was alone in black at the table was going to crush your face in? Sometimes you make it to the finals, but sometimes you see that person round 1. That’s the worst, isn’t it? Or maybe you get paired against the jankiest pile of garbage you’ve ever seen, keep very strong hands, and then draw either all land or no land. This is why I actually do a relatively minimal amount of drafting compared to what I used to. The safest and, in my mind, most fun way to go infinite in sealed daily events.

The beauty of sealed events is that they are always four rounds of swiss no matter how big they are, and the payout is really good. You can get mana screwed or paired against the God pool round one, but if you win your other three rounds to end at 3-1 you still get 6 packs and a QP. Since you also have the contents of six booster packs, it is very unlikely (though possible) that you will not make up the 2 ticket entrance fee once you sell all the cards you opened. Even if you only go 2-2, which hopefully won’t happen to often, you still win 3 booster packs and have six packs worth of cards to sell to hopefully make up the other ~14 dollars. If you’re a good player, going 3-1 or better in sealed consistently should not be difficult. Sometimes the events are soft and sometimes they aren’t, it all depends who you get paired against really, but if you keep your play tight you should be able to win matches against better decks than yours. Also, because it’s always only four rounds, someone else can have a completely unbeatable sealed pool and you can still go 4-0 and win those 11 packs without even having to face that player and taking an auto-loss.

Quit Being So Proud

At this point I should interject that you may be thinking I’m informing you that the key to going infinite is to play against lesser opponents. This is not the case. These are the events with the payouts that will allow you to most consistently break even. The fact that they don’t always attract the highest level of player is merely coincidental. Also, if this is a concern of yours then I’ll emphasize that I mentioned this is for those with at least a somewhat casual mentality. I don’t play these events because I want to beat up little kids. I play these events because I love playing Magic. I want to play Magic often, but my bank account is finite so I need to maximize the funds that I have. My goal is not to prove that I am the best in the world. I mean yeah, I do honestly believe that I can play at the top levels successfully, but I also don’t care if you think so. My goal is simply to be able to play anytime I want without going broke. It’s just a game. The fun comes from playing. The fun does not come from winning at all costs, beating up little kids, or spending unnecessary amounts of money to try to prove to the world what I already know anyway. If that doesn’t resonate with you and you can’t get past the fact that I described these events as being softer than other another available option (It’s not like it’s dramatically so, either) then you should stop reading now and go polish your trophy collection ranging back to kindergarten.

Bots Are Your Friends

If your goal is to be infinite only playing limited, a big part of that is selling everything you open. You probably already know this, but don’t bother with the classified ads. Just find bots that you like and sell everything to them. It’s faster, you’ll get the same if not better prices (A human will only pay in round numbers, so you don’t get to carry your credit on a 9.3 ticket card over), and they’ll sometimes just grab 200 commons from you. I personally use the MTGOtradersbuybot. Unlike greedier bots, MTGO Traders pays at least a penny for every card. This may seem like a small thing, but when a bot wants a couple hundred bulk commons/uncommons from you, suddenly you have your two ticket entrance fee to go with the packs you were holding. Other bots will often offer you 4/10’s of a penny or less for commons; it adds up really fast.

The one caveat to this is foil mythics. Foil mythics are expensive, and bots underpay for them. Always check the classified ads for humans buying them, and if you see none post an ad. People like me need these stupid cards to finish our foil sets for redemption, so we’ll pay you 9 bucks for a foil Malignus even though it’s worth nothing on paper because all the other foil prices online are so much cheaper than on paper.

Utilize All Your Win Conditions

I wouldn’t be Dr. Jeebus if I didn’t say at least one thing in this article to make myself sound like a total dick, so here it is: utilize all your win conditions. MTGo has an extra win condition that paper Magic does not, and taking advantage of it can be hugely beneficial to winning matches that you otherwise couldn’t. That win condition is your opponent’s round clock. I’m not saying you should do scumbag things like pass priority and then try to open trade with your opponent, but the clock is a resource.

Many players will double or triple queue. Many of these players aren’t capable of doing so properly and run their clocks down way too far. Some people also play slowly in general. If you lose game 1 of your match but you have 20 minutes left on your clock and your opponent only has 9 minutes left, there’s nothing wrong with trying to win because of it. Playing to stall the board until they lose, while kind of a dick move, is a legitimate strategy online. Beware, however! If your opponent makes all of his moves slowly, this has a high probability of working. If your opponent will go long periods of time doing nothing and then take a turn or two very quickly, they are double queued and you are unlikely to win in this fashion. If you see that behaviour from your opponent, you can rest assured that as soon as their clock hits 3 minutes you will have their full attention, and win or lose, 3 minutes is more than enough time for them to complete the game.

Play What You Love

There is always a variety of formats available to you. Don’t worry about which booster packs have the highest EV, just play what you love. Our main goal here is to have fun; being infinite just enables you to have more fun without worrying about money. Not only will you have more fun playing formats that you love, but chances are if you love a format that much you’re probably good at it.

During the winter celebration last year, there was a week of Tempest 8 man sealed events and a week of Urza’s 8 man sealed events. Those are the only events I played for those two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, I was up $250 from where I had started which is when I bought and redeemed my first foil set online. I love all the pre-2000 sets and I will play them all the time. They are what I grew up with, and that gives me a lot more experience than most players on MTGO have with them which is a huge boon. If you hate Avacyn and M13 but loved Innistrad, keep playing Innistrad. Events still fire, and you’ll be happier than playing a format you hate just to play something.

Prerelease Bad, Release Good

This should be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t play prereleases. Yes, I am currently ignoring this advice because I’m arrogant. However, prereleases cost more than a normal sealed event and the prizes are much smaller. The only saving grace is that single prices are much higher during this window than they will be when the release hits. Also, do play release events. These cost less than a normal sealed and have a higher payout. Again, should be a no brainer if you wanted to player the format.

Full Disclosure

I buy ticket sometimes. I know, I just spent this whole article claiming I don’t have to and trying to teach you my methods, but sometimes I do it. However, I don’t HAVE to buy tickets. I do it because I am impatient. I had enough inventory built up to sell all my AVR packs as soon as M13 release events started and buy the last four foils I needed to complete the set for redemption. Then I lost some money in M13 prerelease events. Then I made some money in M13 prerelease events and decided to buy 3 of the 4 I needed. I still had enough inventory for a few sealed events (Which is enough to go ad infinitum), but I saw a foil Bonfire of the Damned, the last card I needed, in the classifieds for a good price. Because I’m impatient and didn’t know if it would be there, I bought some tickets to buy that card. Occasionally I will do something like this, so in the interest of full disclosure if I ever mention spending money on MTGO I want people to understand that is solely a matter of my impatience in finishing foil sets, and not something that I need to do to keep playing. I may be profiting continuously over time, but I guess it’s just not as fast as I’d like.

Questions, Concerns, Fears, Uncertainties, Doubts?

At the time of writing this, my mind is kind of all over the place so I probably forgot something as I always do. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section or hit me up on Twitter (@Dr_Jeebus). Also, if you start trying this out and find that it works for you either in eliminating all cost of MTGO or in greatly reducing your losses, you can thank me by nominating me for the Community Cup. Yes, the timing of the article is not a coincidence, but this is a topic I’ve discussed with people at great lengths before so it’s not like I’m just making stuff up.

Finally, if this works and you are able to go infinite playing only limited whereas you were not able to before, please let me know. I’d just like to know exactly how many people I’m able to help with this.

Defense Against the Dark Arts OR How to Protect Yourself From Trade Sharks and Value Traders

Friday, July 13th, 2012

That’s right, I channeled old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons while naming this article. Deal with it. I’ve also managed to go off on a tangent before even starting the article. This may be a first even for me.

Back on topic: There is an ever increasing emphasis on finance in Magic. It is no secret that I consider this to be the worst thing to happen since The Dojo published their first Sligh decklist. I can and have explained at great length why this is such a bad thing, but if you want to know more research what happened with comics and baseball cards in the ’80s and ’90s, because it’s pretty much the same thing. I somehow got dragged into a ridiculous Twitter fight (Editor’s note: Redundant?) earlier this evening. The fight entailed one financial writer calling out an entire financial website on…I have no idea why, actually. No one gave me a straight answer, but I don’t actually care. These people are poisonous and they have a dangerous effect on the game. Of course, the people interested in the teachings of these so called “financial gurus” don’t care what I have to say. I should have known better than to try to reach those people, so instead I’m going to try the other angle.

Instead of reading their advice on how to rip people off blatantly or to at least nickle and dime them to death, you should know how to defend yourself against these people. If there’s no food for these sharks, no binders left for them to Prey Upon, then maybe they’ll finally stop. This article is for the people who never cared about reading about MTG finance before, but frequently wonder where cards in their binder went or why they always feel like they got a bad deal.

As a side note, there’s little to learn from these people anyway. If you would even consider robbing some little kid who was handed a nice collection, you should be more concerned with what a terrible human being you are and less considered with whether you’re making a 5048% or a 5049% return. That type of behaviour is really the only thing being taught. Afterall, you can’t teach speculation. You can try, but it’s not like most people are any good. Even Medina can speculate better than a six-sided die. Besides, by the time someone who speculates well tells you what to buy, because no one in this community can think for themselves it seems (Go go gadget netdeck!), it’s already too late. So yeah, reading these financial articles is a waste of time because they’re just teaching you to be an asshole. And know what? I can teach you to be an asshole much more effectively than they can, and at least I have the decency to be honest about it.

My final point before I begin: a lot of the things I will discuss in this article are the same things that appear in the articles I am vilifying. Yes, I’m aware of the irony, so don’t bother pointing it out. Again, though, the people I’m trying to reach would not have read those articles, and people respond very differently to the same points depending on context and what not (See also: propaganda). So now, 500 words, later, let’s get on to the actual things the novice trader needs to remember.

What makes you the expert, Jeebus?

When I was 13 or 14, about a year after I had been playing, a friend of mine ripped me off pretty hard. He immediately told me, smiling triumphantly, and I was PISSED. He then showed me a book he had read on trading which very wholeheartedly and honestly endorsed being a trade shark. I was furious about being taken advantage of, so I quickly committed the book to memory to claim vengeance on the world for having wronged me. Now that I’m 29 I’m in no way proud of the things I did. Some of them were beyond scummy (My Relentless Assault, his Beta Mox Sapphire. Granted the Assault was $20 at the time and the Sapphire was only about $90, but still). While I may not be happy about how I acted as a stupid teenager and no longer take part in such antics, I still remember how to do all of it.

You never NEED a card

Maybe you’re just overly excited about finding a card you’ve been looking for for weeks, but when you say the words “I need this card!” to a trader, all they hear is “MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS!” You never, ever, EVER say you need a card. Other financial writers have talked about the “need tax,” and it’s a very real thing. In fact, you don’t even want cards. On the inside you may be doing cartwheels at finally finding someone who has the last card for your foil Urza’s Legacy set or your deck for the standard PTQ tomorrow, but on the outside you remain calm and say “I’m interested in this.” I cannot ever stress this enough. You do not need cards, you do not want cards, but cards interest you. When it comes time to work out a deal, you may differentiate cards by saying “I’m more interested in this/these,” or, if there’s a card that’s a total deal breaker for you, “this is the main thing I’m interested in.” This terminology will help guide the trade so you can get the cards you actually do need instead of trading away all your hot cards for a bunch of cards you pulled out thinking “Hmm..I MIGHT use this in EDH.”

Also, never give unnecessary information about the availability of a card. At states a few years ago my friends and I sat down to fill out our deck registration sheets. One of my friends asked if I still had my Kargan Dragonlords, because someone had asked him about him when he walked in the door and he mentioned to the guy I might have some. Oh yeah, don’t camp by the door asking everyone who walks in if they have something; no need to chum the waters for the sharks. Anyway, a few seconds later the guy spotted my friend and frantically ran over to our table. This is the exact conversation that took place:
“Hey,” panting from running over and looking panicked, “do you have any Kargan Dragonlords?”
“Yeah, I have three of them.”
“Oh my God, I need exactly three for my deck today. You’re the only person in the room that has any. Not even the dealers have them.
“Sure, I can trade them,” smiling like a douchebag. “They’re $30.”
“Total, right?”
“Very funny,” laughing and handing me his binder.
Deadpan serious, “I wasn’t joking.”
I mean, what can he do here? I know he needs these cards for the tournament starting in 20 minutes, I know he has absolutely zero other options to acquire them, and I’m holding his binder. I didn’t actually trade them at $30, but I could have and I wanted to make sure he knew I could. In a perfect world, he would have learned a valuable lesson that day.

Know what your cards are worth

See, you would probably think this would be listed first, because you probably think it’s the most important thing. However, if you’re running around telling people how much you need cards then it won’t matter what your cards were worth; they’re all gone now. Assuming you can keep from spazzing out long enough to complete a trade, you’ll need to know what the cards in your binder are worth. Equally important is to know what the cards you want are worth, but including that would’ve made the header too long. There’s no need to go into any great detail here. If you don’t know what cards are worth, you have no way of knowing whether of not you’re getting screwed.

Everything in your binder is for trade

I wrote an article about this before on Quiet Speculation. The short version? No one cares how awesome your collection is. If it’s in your trade binder, it should be for trade. The only exception to this rule is cards that you just acquired that day and have nowhere else to put. Keep a blank page in the back of your binder for those cards so that, if this happens, you can tell people everything is for trade except the last page. Filling your binder with cards you just want to show off not only slows things down and will make the next topic nearly impossible. Now this being said, you don’t have to be willing to trade your cards for anything. My trade binder has three Temporal Mastery in it, however two of them are there to trade for a foil Temporal Mastery (Unless someone makes a ridiculous offer that I can’t refuse). Even though I’m looking for something specific for them, they are still for trade so they go in the trade binder. Limit how many cards are qualified in such a way though. You want to give as few restrictions to your binder as possible so that you can hand it to your trade partner and they can just go. This brings us to my next point…

Make them pull cards out

Ask your trade partner if it’s okay to pull cards out of their binder (They’ll almost always say yes, but it’s polite to ask instead of assume), and then inform them that everything in your binder is for trade so to just pull out whatever the want. A trick that people will use is to have you pull cards out while flipping through your binder. Once you pull cards out, they’ll go over prices (disingenuously, of course), and then use that total to go shopping through your binder, asking you the value of every card and waiting for you to slip up and say the wrong number. Their tricks related to this can be much more complex, but that’s not important. Tell them to pull out whatever they want, and start doing the same.

Now there’s a few things that can happen here: they might start pulling cards. This is ideal. They might start asking you prices. This is not. If this happens, just say something like “Just pull out whatever you want and we’ll figure that out after.” If they protest this, end the trade. No, serious. Just hand them back their binder and any cards you pulled out and tell them you’re all set. This may seem rude, but who cares? They were trying to fuck you anyway, so whatever. The other option here is you start pulling stuff and they flip through your binder not pulling anything or asking prices. Maybe they’re chatting you up, trying to glean information from you or put you at ease for the rectal probing about to take place, but they aren’t showing any real interest in your binder. Let it go on for a little bit, but once they get through a bit of it, ask if they haven’t seen anything they wanted. It’s possible they haven’t, so no need to be suspicious yet. If they say they have not, that’s fine, though probably disappointing. If they say they saw a couple things but wanted to wait, remind them to just pull them out. If they refuse to until you’re done, end the trade.

Don’t talk about card prices

You know what your cards are worth, right? Good, because you’ll need it here. You’ve now each pulled out the cards you want. Now is when you simply tell them “Make me an offer.” If push comes to shove you can make an offer first, but you really want to force them to make the first move. The reason you don’t want to talk about card prices is because this is how value trades screw you. If you know my card and your card are both worth $3-4, you’re comfortable trading them. However, if you say “$3-4” on each of them, suddenly yours is worth $3 and mine is worth $4. If it’s a decent size trade, suddenly that can be an extra $5 they say you owe them on a trade you genuinely considered to be fair.

If they’re reasonable, they’ll offer you a fair trade. You may want another card more or not be thrilled about parting with a specific card, so you may offer substitutions. This is best case scenario, and these are people you want to trade with. This process in which card values were never mentioned once is how everyone used to trade in the before time, in the long, long ago. How i miss those days.

Worst case scenario is they offer you an extremely lopsided trade. If this happens, end the trade immediately. Offer no explanation, because they know why. Only an amateur shark will just throw a lopsided trade on the table. The more skilled sharks will feed you a continuously line of bullshit while lining up the trade, explaining how their cards are all gold and yours are shit. If someone is verbalizing their every alleged thought while lining up a trade, pay close attention. Don’t listen to what they’re saying, because that doesn’t matter; you know what the cards are worth and they can’t change that. Listen to how they speak and watch their body language. There’s a clear difference between someone who is trying to persuade you and someone who is genuinely doing math or thinking aloud, and you should be able to identify this. Ideally, you’ll be able to identify this long before they get to this point.

Average case scenario is that you’ll be dealing with a value trader, not a shark. This is a pain in the ass to deal with. In reality, value traders are more sophisticated versions of sharks in that they employ the same tactics, just on a smaller scale. Getting someone to give up a dollar or two at a time over and over again is a lot easier than getting someone to give up $15-20 when you’re each trading a single card. It’s also a lot harder to spot as their trades are normally much larger so a passerby can’t just quickly do all the math in their head. Once again, what they’re saying isn’t really important. Let them work out a trade on the table, and do your best to do it without discussing prices. If the trade doesn’t seem to add up to you, offer substitutions on either or both sides. If they counter, continue to counteroffer with trades that are fair until they finally accept one or you get sick of it and cancel the trade. If you’re trading for something you genuinely need, it’s obviously okay to give up a dollar or two for your own convenience, but don’t let them get your whole binder at 50% off. Oh yeah, and no thrown ins. EVER. I mean, if it’s literally an unplayable garbage common that they happen to collect like Dementia Bats or something then okay, they can have it. But if they tell you some story about how their brother wanted them to pick up a specific card for them and can they throw in this random $1-2 card then not a fucking chance. If everyone does that, this guy’s brother, who doesn’t even exist, by the way, is going to be up $200 by the end of the night.

Most importantly, do not accept ANY trade unless you are happy with it. Genuinely happy, not “some scumbag convinced me to be happy.” Value traders will frequently try to reach your breaking point, the point at which you are giving up the absolute most value and are unhappy but will still do the deal. You know when you’re there. You know when you’re well before that point. If there is any doubt in your mind about the deal, any uneasiness, or if your reaction to the trade is “yeah, I guess I can do that” then you shouldn’t be doing it. I’m not saying you should be busting out into song and waving middle fingers at your trade partner at the end of every deal, but there should be absolutely no hesitation. You should be trading cards that you don’t mind parting with for an equal value of cards that you want. The other person will be doing the same, and you’ll both be happy. Drinks all around!

If you have to talk about card prices…

Ugh, did we really get to this point? I suppose it’s hard to avoid in this day and age. Alright, well you know your prices, right? You better. Seriously, if you don’t know what your cards (and the ones you want) are worth, you’re going to get fucked. Even if you just pick a website to use for pricing and get all the prices from there, you can very easily game the system because of wacky things that websites do with their prices. So remember: you know what the cards are worth. Don’t let him tell you otherwise. People have a lot of ridiculous excuses they will use to make you price their cards higher. Here are a few of them:

  • “This was worth $X when I got it, so I can’t let it go at $Y.” In this scenario, Y is the current price of the card and X is the price at its peak in standard. Guess what, buddy? I don’t care what you paid for the card. Sorry if you overpaid or if you think card prices should never go down when they leave standard, but I’m not going to overvalue your cards for you.
  • “I know this is only gong for $X right now, but I think it’s going to go up so I need to get $Y for it.” What on Earth gives you the right to decide a card is worth more than it is? Do you have an honest to God crystal fucking ball? Are you famous for routinely breaking formats and this is the card you’ve been brewing with? No? Okay, then your opinion doesn’t matter to me. If you’re so sure this card your speculating on is going to go up in price, then take it out of your binder until it does. Otherwise, you’re going to have to value this card at the same price as everyone else, future man.
  • “The box of [set name] I got was really bad, so I have to ask more for this to make my money back.” Someone really said this to me. I want a foil bulk rare from Planar Chaos to finish my foil set, and he wanted about $8 for it, which was at least eight times what the card was worth. You are not entitled to make money on a box you open. I don’t know what the fuck would ever give you that idea or what makes you think I’m the one that has to pay the cost for your bad luck, but find some other idiot to swindle.

Remember: you know what the cards are worth. Seriously, you did your research. You’ve got this. Don’t let your trade partner try to wiggle his prices up and take some of yours down while begrudgingly accept others. If anyone ever tries to make you feel like they’re doing you a favour for accepting the price you say on a card, they are trying to screw you. If you don’t know what I mean by them making you feel that way, you will when it happens. And when it happens, you had better walk away immediately. But pick your cards up.

You don’t have to trade with anyone

I may be forgetting something, and if that’s the case I will edit this later to include it. Hopefully this has been helpful for all of you, and you will be better equipped to trade with people without giving cards away for free. Just remember that you can always walk away. I gave many examples of reasons to walk away, but there are plenty more. You don’t even have to attempt to trade with someone. If you don’t like someone’s reputation, their attitude, something you saw them do once that was probably totally out of character, or any other reason, logical or otherwise, then don’t trade with them. No one is entitled to trade with you, and you are not obligated to trade with anyone. Magic is a hobby. For the vast majority of you, buying and selling cards is not how you pay your rent. Quit trying to screw each other over, quit letting yourself get screwed over, and go have some fun already!

Oh yeah, and stop netdecking. But that’s a discussion for another day.

From R&D’s Secret Lair: An Epic Cycle of FTV Spoilers!

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

As I assume you all know, every year Wizards of the Coast puts out a From the Vault product. It contains 15 foil cards and is extremely limited. It has been known for some time that this year’s FTV release is From the Vault: Lands, but little about the contents of the magical boxes is known. All that is about to change, however! Well, alright, it’s not going to change until GenCon. Sorry. But what about next year’s From the Vault release? Or the year after? Or the year after? These products normally aren’t designed years in advance like a normal set would be, however the next three From the Vault products were designed as a cycle so my super secret and absolutely not imaginary contact on the inside was able to hook me up with the “deets,” as you crazy kids say.

So how exactly does a cycle of products like this work? It can’t be a colour cycle if there’s only three, and with mythic rares now existing it can’t be a vertical cycle either. A vertical cycle would also be fairly terrible because, aside from Maze of Ith, there aren’t a ton of commons anyone would be to happy about seeing in a From the Vault. Although it’d at least keep people from bitching about how expensive they are for a year, which would be something. Back on point: the next three From the Vaults (Released 2013-2015) were designed as a cycle based on their target audience: the three main player psychographical profiles. I know, it’s a pretty bitchin’ idea. So cool, in fact, that I wish I had completely fabricated it for entertainment purposes only.

Now bear in mind that the card images that follow were created for internal use within Wizards of the Coast R&D and are not 100% complete. Most noticeably, while there will be cards with new artwork, most of the art has yet to be commissioned and none of it is completed yet. You should all thank your lucky stars that I never had to sign a nondisclosure agreement, because I now present to you the complete contents of the next three From the Vaults!

From the Vault: Timmy (2013)

From the Vault – Timmy will feature 15 creature cards from Magic’s history with power, 8 or greater. But none of the “good” ones. If you’re looking for Blightsteels, then you’re just not Timmy enough to handle these monstrous beasts (Note: FTV – Timmy only contains two Beast creature cards). These are the type of giant, drawback riddled creatures that both strike fear into your opponent and make you feel like a bad ass for actually killing someone with them. I hope you’ve been ramping your mana, because here come the hordes!


































































Yeah, you know you want these, Timmy. Look how fucking big they are!

From the Vault: Johnny (2014)

Do you theoretically know how to kill a man five times before he hits the ground but find that in reality it works less than 5% of the time? Then this is the product for you! Others may have to read most of these cards because they can’t remember what they do, but Johnny recites their Oracle text in his sleep while dreaming up new “degenerate” seven card combos. This From the Vault product is dedicated to some of Johnny’s favourite cards that, while some may have come close, never really made the big time. And while Johnny’s decks may not win major tournaments, with Wizards’ special FTV foiling process you can be sure he’ll look damn good losing. Now start brewing!


































































With combos so convoluted even most judges don’t know what you’re trying to do, you can rest assured your opponent hasn’t tested a single game against your deck. Now ride that confusion to glorious victory!

From the Vault: Fuck You (2015, Tentative name)

While the logical name for this product would be From the Vault: Spike, it just didn’t feel natural. The final installation of this From the Vault cycle is designed to make the most powerful and expensive competitive cards that aren’t on the reserved list more readily available for all those people to whom winning is the only thing. So why the name? Well did you hope to make it through your next local event without running into the top deck in the format? Fuck you. Have you been hoarding Vintage and Legacy cards because nothing will ever hurt their value? Fuck you. Do you feel Wizards of the Coast should never reprint cards that they openly admit were a mistake to print the first time? Fuck you. MSRP: $35. Actual retail value: Your first born child. Because fuck you. Are you unable to find someone willing to breed with you? Fuck you, you can’t have one. Spike is the player who will do ANYTHING to win. If that means poking a hole in the condom before calling up an “escort” for the evening, who are we to judge? It’ll all be worth it when you walk out of that Grand Prix $2000 richer. You’ll also notice that everyone’s favourite splashable creature appears in the frame in which it was originally printed. We know you’ve all been hoping for a reprint in the modern card frame. Wizards thought long and hard about this decision, they really did. But after much debate, it was decided that fuck you.


































































Now that you’ve seen the list, care to reconsider about that firstborn child? You can always make another one, and Gleemax gets very cranky when we don’t give him breakfast. Oh, did we not mention Gleemax eats babies?

There you have it: three equally exciting products to look forward to in the coming years. Be sure to share your excitement!

Lessons Learned from SCG Providence

Monday, May 7th, 2012

I went to the Star City Games Open this weekend and played in both events. My overall record on the weekend was 7-7, which is pretty fucking disgraceful. In the standard portion I was playing white/red humans. Based on the number of these decks I saw, the total attendance, and the fact that one of them cracked the top 8, I’d say that the deck choice was sound. Unfortunately, my deck refused to cooperate and left me in ridiculous situations. The game 3 that eliminated me from competition went like this:

I’m on the draw. My hand is Mountain, Clifftop Retreat, Doomed Traveler, Elite Inquisitor, Fiend Hunter, Hero of Bladehold, and Bonfire of the Damned. It’s a little greedy with all the double white, but I’m running 18 white sources and on the draw, so I should be okay. He plays a turn 1 Birds of Paradise. I drop the Clifftop Retreat tapped and pray for white. He plays another land and two more Birds of Paradise. I drop my mountain and Doomed Traveler, and wonder why I’m only drawing three drops. He plays a land and passes turn. At this point I’m golden, I think. I’ve already missed one land drop, but if I hit a land I can Bonfire for one and 3 for 1 him. But I don’t. Despite him not casting anything the following turn either, I fail to draw a land AGAIN. Then he drops Sword of War and Peace and hits me for 9 in the air since I’m now discarding down to 7 every turn. That’s pretty much how my day went.

Legacy went a little better, although it started off poorly. I was playing RUG Delver which, considering how many of them I saw, the attendance, and the fact that only one made it into the top 8, was the incorrect choice. My first round was against Stoneblade. He wins the die roll and opens with a fetch land, then passes turn. I’m confused, but say nothing. I drop my land and pass turn. He cracks his fetch and I Stifle. That sets the pace for the game and I take game 1 pretty easily. Game 2 we grind it out a little bit until he’s at like 6 life, I’m at 20ish, and neither of us have any board or cards in hand. Topdeck war time! My draw: land. His draw: Jace. Okay, game 3 time. We both mull to 6. My six: Scalding Tarn, Wasteland, Stifle, Nimble Mongoose, Thought Scout, Tarmogoyf. Snap keep. Being able to keep him off two of his lands is huge, especially when we’re starting at 6. I fetch up a Tropical Island and pass turn. He drops Karakas, so I Thought Scour myself, untap, and waste his Karakas. He misses his next two land drops. This would be awesome for me and an easy win, except that Goyf is still in my hand and I miss my next 10 land drops. This is not hyperbole. This also pretty accurately describes how that day went.

So what did I learn over the course of about 15 hours of Magic? A great number of things. Some of them even relate to my matches!

Judges Are All Assholes Who Are Out To Get You

I’m sure you all already knew this, right? I mean, everytime you get a penalty, especially a game or match loss, it’s because the judge is an asshole and is out to get you. There’s no way you did anything wrong, but you’d rather blame all your future misfortune on this one judge’s call rather than appealing to the head judge. I mean, he’s probably out to get you too, right? The most epic example of this I saw was one someone received a game loss for tapping his City of Brass and not changing his life total. Now, it’s not unreasonable to think this is a huge overreaction and that he was just going to finish casting his spell and then write down the life total, however the judge had warned him about City of Brass specifically two or three times already, and this was about the fourteen trigger the guy missed in two turns. And he was at the 4-0 tables. I ran into the guy outside having a cigarette later on, and he was now 4-3. And it’s all the judge’s fault for that shitty call (And the head judge for upholding it). It has nothing to do with Dredge being inconsistent and him not being used to piloting it, it’s because now that he was 4-1 from that call he was playing against bad players. I have no idea why that means he would lose, but he did seriously say he was losing because he was competing against bad players. I dunno.

Wearing a Sports Jacket to a Tournament Makes You Look Like a Douchebag

I’m pretty sure this has always been true, but it never really struck me until this weekend. I saw a bunch of guys wearing sport coats, it and seems to be pretty impossible not to look like a total fucking douchebag when doing so. If you come dressed up to FNM that’s fine. It’s not unlikely that you’re coming from work, and it’s only a few hours. But when you’re going to a tournament that’s going to last for over 12 hours? You dressed like that specifically for the tournament, which leads to the question: who are you trying to impress? Do you think your opponent will be in such awe of your superior style that he’ll just concede and start worshiping you? Do you want to look your nicest so you can have your choice of all the fat, sweaty guys with holes in their shirts? Oh yeah, and if you’re going to wear the sports jacket then you need to go all out; don’t just wear it over your sweaty t-shirt with holes in it. I still own my tuxedo from when I was a music major in college, so maybe I should just wear that to SCG Worcester next month (You’re surprised I own a tux? Fuck you, I’m classy as shit).

Losers Have More Fun

I’ve always known this, but I had a particularly fun match when I was sitting at 3-2. My opponent was playing Painter’s Stone, and was possibly tripping balls. At one point he started singing a song about being a durdle; it was really nice to witness the creative process unfold like that instead of just watching him silently cast Enlightened Tutor. There was much friendly banter, and a good time was had by all even though at no point was he actually even a part of either game we played. There was even a two minute break during game one for him to finish laughing when I asked, “So foil Onslaught fetches, Mox Opals, Enlightened Tutors, these things are no problem. But getting a foil Seat of the Synod was just too much for you?” This is one of the things that led me to believe he might be tripping balls; it was funny, but it wasn’t that funny. My previous opponent was also a lot of fun, until I called a judge. She was frustrated about losing her previous match because she had allowed her opponent to blatantly cheat and didn’t call a judge (still don’t understand why). I asked her if that meant if I was losing I could just start lying to her and she’d go with it, and we began playing. She was running burn and since the games are always a boring race, we were talking throughout. Game 1 even wound up ending in draw, which caused some interesting reactions from people, mainly “how the fuck does a game end in a draw?” At this point we were 15 minutes into the round and 0-0-1 so there was less banter and more Magic so that we wouldn’t run out of time if it went to game 4. I took game 2, and presented my deck. She presented hers and I proceeded to count it, because it looked like she had sided out a lot of cards. Indeed there were 58 cards in the deck so I called the judge. I’m sure it was an accident since siding out spells actually makes the deck worse which probably only tilted her further. Excepting that moment, the losers bracket matches were much more fun and entertaining though. Oh, and I saw her later in the day and she was happy again, so I’m sure future opponents had fun as well.

Magic Players Don’t Just Look Like Creepy Pedophiles

It’s no secret that many Magic players look like pedophiles, what with their unkempt beards and pockets full of candy. Star City decided that they would cater to this market segment, and so they booked the same venue that was hosting the junior high national cheerleading competition or something. I walked into the venue expecting neckbeards everywhere, but instead I found myself walking into a swarm of preteen girls. “Awkward” doesn’t even begin to describe it as there were no events running alongside GP Portland to my recollection, so I had no reason to think something like this would happen. After confirming that this was the right place and we were just on the floor above them, I entered the venue. Over the course of the day I heard a lot of people talking about how there were little cheerleaders everywhere. I fortunately didn’t hear anything blatantly sexual, but there were still lots of errant comments about this phenomenon. But know what I didn’t hear when I showed up for Legacy on Sunday? I didn’t hear a single comment about the smokin’ hot black chick convention going on downstairs. You’re all either gay, pedophiles, or racist, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Moreso the pedos and racists.

A 250 Person Event Is the Perfect Time to Test Your New Tech

After my brutal 0-2 start in Legacy, I get paired against a guy who slept through round one. That’s how much he cared about this tournament he just paid $40 to play in. He’s been testing different builds a little bit, but decided on this new build that he didn’t get to test at all for the open. Okay, awesome I guess. The deck was doing a lot of cool things, however it was trying to do so many cool things that he forgot to make room for a win condition. This is the sort of thing that could’ve been discovered in about 20 minutes of playtesting, or probably 30 seconds of looking over the decklist. I got a free match win and a fun opponent out of it, but the dude drove for fucking hours to get to the venue. As a bitter pro tour player once said after losing an 8 man draft I was running despite his opponent making several misplays and puzzling decisions, “I just can’t understand the thought process of bad players.” Truer words, my friend.

I’m sure there were lots more lessons I could have learned, like “don’t drive the wrong way on a one way street” or “use Tormod’s Crypt wisely,” but they’ll just have to wait until SCG Worcester. So until next time, insert clever sign off here.

The Helvault – My Letter to Wizards of the Coast

Monday, April 30th, 2012

A bunch of people had asked me to post this before and I was considering it. Then the original version got destroyed for all time by the beauty of Yahoo mail’s shitty programming. I had to rewrite it, and the rewrite is simple not as good. I had no intentions of ever posting this, but I was discussing the Helvault with Jay Boosh earlier and decided that I’d rather put up the sloppier, less complete version of this than have to type everything for a third time in 140 character increments. Most of the key points are all still there, so..yeah. I dunno what else needs to be said, so here you go:

“As I said on Twitter, 140 characters is far too few to discuss what happened with the Helvault. As you’re seeing now from the feedback rolling in, to say the Helvault was met with mixed reactions might be being generous. I’d like to discuss what happened from the original idea through the conclusion of the prereleases. Unfortunately as my original draft was lost, I’m sure I’m going to miss some of the points I originally made. I was very happy with the original letter, but can only hope this one is coherent and inclusive.

While I can’t know for sure what happened inside the walls at the Wizards of the Coast offices, from outside it appears that you started with the idea of creating a different and exciting promotion for the Avacyn Restored prerelease. Ideas like this are always welcome, especially because the player base feels that they are owed something since the termination of the Magic Player Rewards program. That concept may sound ridiculous, but it is the sentiment of the (I would wager overwhelming) majority of players.

From this idea, the Helvault was born. The concept and physical design of the Helvault were brilliant. “A box of unknown goodies that everyone needs to work together to open” is the best promotion since the priceless treasures in Zendikar. This was much more in-depths, however, and also created excitement about the storyline of the set since they were heavily linked.

Up to this point, everything was going well. I’d like to look at the promotion and execution of the Helvault now though, as that’s where things went wrong.

The promotion of the Helvault was extremely effective. A lot of hype was generated, especially with the extreme emphasis being placed on preregistering for events. The perceived message was that you did not want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity, and that events would all reach capacity. However, the writer (or writers) of the original Arcana fell into the same trap that a lot of overzealous Magic writers fall into when trying to sell people on their new tech: deckbuilders will use the “God Hand,” or best case scenario, as their baseline for describing how a deck is supposed to work when they should really be looking at the average case scenario. That is precisely what happened here. You had the benefit of knowing about the premium Helvaults, and knew that for some people the message being perceived by the public would be true, however the average case scenario was that players would receive a Helvault without a single tournament legal Magic card in it.

As a side note, while some people had unrealistic expectations, the Helvault didn’t need to have 54 foil Avacyns, Griselbrands, and Command Towers. If there were alternate art (preferably foil) Pillar of Flames inside, people would have thought the Helvault had been over sold, but at least they’d have a special promo card that they would likely have a use for.

A little over a week before the prerelease, stores started receiving their Helvaults. This is where things started going downhill. As I’m sure you knew would happen, two or three stores opened their Helvaults and posted the contents online. As far as everyone knew, the secret was out. And most everyone was disappointed. Players tend to like tokens and dice because they’re useful, but even most hardcore Commander players don’t use oversize cards as the mechanics of the game require you to still have a normal version anyway. People were disappointed that there wasn’t a single tournament legal Magic card inside. Players started canceling preregistrations, and stores that had been foolish enough to charge more for the Helvault events were being vilified and labeled as “scumbag stores” that players should never visit again.

Prerelease weekend hit, and people had stopped caring about the Helvault. Early prerelease attendance was as expected, but then someone reported the first premium Helvault. It was met with natural skepticism, but then more and more reports and cell phone pictures kept rolling in. The premium Helvaults were confirmed. I missed when it happened, but Helene even said she mentioned that they existed that day on Twitter. Now people only cared about the Helvaults and the potential of receiving incredible prizes. Our 10 am Saturday prerelease attendance was unaffected by our Helvault because no one cared, and our 6 pm prerelease was less than half of what it should have been because everyone wanted to go to Helvault events. Our Sunday Helvault event was better than normal, but it was too little too late. While other stores benefited, our overall attendance was only 80% of what it would have been had the Helvault not even existed. I’m sure that worldwide the attendance numbers were the same or higher than normal, but many stores were hurt by this. By contrast, the priceless treasures had the same chance of being opened anywhere by anyone, and it was an ongoing promotion. Because it was ongoing, everyone benefited from it. The Helvault was a one shot deal, so it was do or die from the vendor perspective.

Having to write a large check for product that we now can’t do anything with for a week stings a little, but this is a minor concern thanks to Avacyn Restored being such a good set for both competitive and casual constructed so I’m sure we won’t be sitting on it long (If the set were to initially sell like, say, Morningtide, then we might be a bit more upset about this). The real concern, however, is the reaction from the players. Players went from being apathetic about the Helvaults to being disappointed, angry, and feeling ripped off. As organizers and judges, we were the ones in the trenches receiving the majority of their complaints. A player who was at an event with a premium Helvault received prizes that were worth as much as 15000% more than players with nonpremium Helvaults. While the secondary market isn’t and shouldn’t be your main concern, it is important to be aware of it. In the last two or three years, Magic finance has really started to take a front seat and is heavily discussed and written about. While I disapprove of this for tangentially reasons, it is important to be aware of the phenomenon and these people’s line of thinking.

So what could be done to fix this? There are a few key points that you need to keep in mind:

1. You are working from the viewpoint of trying to create an exciting experience for players. No one is made you do this; you did it to reward players and make their experience special. Players are working from a viewpoint of entitlement and expect you to do things like this every so often to make up for prying MPR from their hands. (Yeah, I know. I’m not any happier about this than you are.)

2. The hype should not exceed the average player’s experience. If someone gets even more than they expected, awesome for them! If someone gets far less than they expected, they will be extremely upset.

2a. The hype may exceed the average player’s experience if, and only if, there is a known variable. GPs are hyped, but the average player wins $0. While initially secret, the priceless treasure became hyped, but the average player opened none. These are still considered hugely successful because the players knew what they were getting into.

3. The disparity in outcomes must be either known, preferably with published odds, or minimal. Examples:
A. Priceless treasures had a huge disparity in outcomes. Once the secret was revealed, the odds of opening one were published. Because this was ongoing, players remained excited.
B. The textless nonfoil MPR cards were normally not known until players started receiving them, but because the disparity between them was so small it wasn’t a big deal if someone else got a different promo card.
C. The Helvault contents were thought to be identical, but then suddenly premium Helvaults were discovered and the found out the incredible things other tournaments had received. Players started to angrily ask “Why them? Why not us? How is this fair?”
D. Had the premium Helvaults been known about beforehand, the comments when people reported these things would have been “Aw, you’re so lucky! I can’t believe your tournament was the one to get those!” (And probably “How is this fair?” because you will never be able to make everyone happy).

4. Don’t be over ambitious unless you have complete control. This is the reason the promotion was flawed from the beginning. You want the contents to be secret. However, it is absolutely guaranteed that a couple people will open theirs ahead of time to spoil the contents. But if the existence of the premium Helvaults is discovered, every greedy and dishonest organizer in the world will open their Helvault beforehand and remove the judge foils, say “Darn, looks like we didn’t get any of them!” and list them on eBay. So the odds of getting a premium Helvault have to be small enough that the spoiled ones will most likely be nonpremium. But you don’t want premium Helvaults sent to near empty prereleases where the dozen players each get one and 40 go on eBay. So you need to hype the event to get players in. And now we’ve gone in a (hopefully not too confusing) circle, because too many of these decisions were being dictated by circumstances beyond your control.

So back to the actual question of how could this have been done differently? Well with those points in mind, there are a number of possible options:

5. The contents of the Helvault are known, but not the existence of the premium Helvaults. With the contents known, there would be no reason for anyone to open them prematurely so the premium ones would not be discovered. This would ruin a lot of the mystery, but it would prevent dealers from trying to cannibalize their Helvaults for expensive foils. Because the premium Helvaults would be a secret, the disparity would have to be smaller. Instead of $100+ cards, there should be $10-20 cards. As I stated before, I wasn’t in any of the meetings about this so I don’t know how the cards wound up inside it. It is possible that the discussion was about how to disperse all the excess judge and MPR promos that were laying in around, rather than the discussion was what to fill the Helvault with. If the main goal was to find a way to get these foils into the hands of players, this option wouldn’t work.
6. Have the existence of the premium Helvaults known, but not the exact contents of either. For this to work, it would have to be known that there were three things, and all were foil in the premium Helvault. Most likely you would remove the dice and have foil tokens, oversize cards, and promo foils. This way, if a store opened a Helvault with the foil tokens and oversize cards but nothing else, the players would know that their organizer was trying to screw them over. This is probably the worst option and the announcement of such a thing would have to be written extremely delicately.
7. Make all Helvaults the same. The previous solution is worse, but this is my least favorite. It is very rare that you are able to surprise the community as happened this weekend, and it is always extremely exciting when it happens.
8. Keep the contents of the Helvault secret and the existence of premium Helvaults secret, and just drastically reduce the disparity in value.

I know there are a number of key points I’m forgetting, but I’ve taken enough of your time already. I know many of these points have been mentioned already, but I hope I was able to help shed some light on the negative feedback from this weekend. If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to discuss them via email or phone at anytime. Thank you very much for taking the time to read all this.”

That’s right, folks, I actually am capable of writing a 2000 word letter without swearing. It’s just a lot harder.

Dr. Jeebus’s Avacyn Restored Set Review

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Alright guys, it’s been a while since I did a full on set review of every single card, but here you go. There’s also financial analysis of the set and a top 10 list at the end, cause people love money and lists. And lists about money. Oh yeah, and if you somehow found this review and are completely unfamiliar with my work, I use bad words. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

White (41)

Angel of Glory’s Rise 5ww
Creature – Angel Rare
When Angel of Glory’s Rise enters the battlefield, exile all Zombies, then return all Human creature cards from your graveyard to the battlefield.

It’s the perfect foil for all those decks running around based on Zombie Apocalypse! They slap that thing down turn 6 and then BOOM! Turn 7 you turn the tables, with extreme severity. In all seriousness though, the only possible use I can see for this is as a sideboard card for Frites against zombies. Elesh Norn is overall better, but if they have a couple Diregraf Captains out things can get a bit dicey. Even 1 captain can result in quite a bit of life loss, especially combined with Geralf’s Messengers, so the exile is relevant.

Angel of Jubilation 1www
Creature – Angel Rare
Other nonblack creatures you control get +1/+1.
Players can’t pay life or sacrifice creatures to cast spells or activate abilities.

I’m not too big on this card outside of EDH although others disagree. It hoses Birthing Pod, Mortarpod, and off color Dismember Pod, but that’s about it. Four mana for a 3/3 flying Glorious Anthem isn’t awful by any means, but it’s also not as good as Hero of Bladehold. Strong in limited if the triple white isn’t an issue and can stop random things in EDH, but that’s about it.

Angel’s Mercy 2ww
Instant Common
You gain 7 life.

Bad reprint is bad.

Angelic Wall 1w
Creature – Wall Common
Defender, flying

Moderate limited reprint is moderate limited reprint.

Archangel 5ww
Creature – Angel Uncommon
Flying, vigilance

I strongly disapprove of this reprint. Yeah it fits the angel theme and all, but it’s also bad. This thing was a rare (And thank God it’s uncommon now) from the era when Serra Angel was considered too fit to see print. Archangels are supposed to be stronger than other angels. While that’s true with power and toughness…except for all the other angels as big or bigger than it…it’s a much worse card. If the format is slow enough then yeah a 5/5 flying, vigilance is good in limited, but seven mana is an awful lot.

Avacyn, Angel of Hope 5www
Legendary Creature – Angel Mythic Rare
Flying, vigilance
Avacyn, Angel of Hope and other permanents you control are indestructible.

Potentially strong reanimation target, but we won’t know until at least October. Between Vapor Snag and Elesh Norn, there’s no reason to be running this right now. Except in EDH, where my buddy Dan will hit it the first time he uses Mayael every fucking game. And in Kaalia. The ability is irrefutably power, especially in EDH, but there are just better choices for your mana. Unless you have a hardon for angels.

Banishing Stroke 5w
Put target artifact, creature or enchantment on the bottom of its owner’s library.
Miracle {W} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

Strong in limited despite the high casting cost. Even not as a miracle, though, this card is good. I imagine it will also see EDH play as another way to tuck generals. As for constructed, I’d rather just run O-Ring.

Builder’s Blessing 3w
Enchantment Uncommon
Untapped creatures you control get +0/+2.

In what fucking world is a functional reprint of Castle necessary? I’m not that upset because it’s not like they wasted a particularly good card name on this, but it won’t see any play so I’ll need to keep all my Bob the Builder jokes to myself.

Call to Serve 1w
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant nonblack creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+2, has flying, and is an Angel in addition to its other types.

I expect this to slightly less playable than Nimbus Wings was, solely because this set seems to have a lot more flyers than normal. And cause maybe you wanna be W/B. Best case scenario, it’s exactly as good as Nimbus Wings.

Cathars’ Crusade 3ww
Enchantment Rare
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control.

The effect is really strong here. Definitely sealed playable, draft if the format is slower as well. In constructed it MIGHT see play as a 1 or 2 of. Dropping this the turn after Hero of Bladehold gives all your guys +2/+2 once you attack. Dropping this then casting/flashing back Lingering Souls is pretty impressive. I’d prefer it if the Crusade got the counters instead of the guys themselves, but that would also make it way more powerful. I’m sure someone will want this for EDH as well; pretty funny in a token deck.

Cathedral Sanctifier w
Creature – Human Cleric Common
When Cathedral Sanctifier enters the battlefield, you gain 3 life.

There have been plenty of variations of this card. On a vanilla 1/1, I’m not impressed. Maybe stupid decks like Martyr in modern will play it, but I have no idea cause I hate decks like that.

Cloudshift w
Instant Common
Exile target creature you control, then return it to the battlefield under your control.

Flickering doesn’t seem to be nearly as powerful in this limited format as I had hoped. There’s several things that do it, but I don’t recall seeing a ton of ETB effects. It resets undying and repairs soulbound guys, but overall not impressed.

Commander’s Authority 4w
Enchantment – Aura Uncommon
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature has “At the beginning of your upkeep, put a 1/1 white Human creature token onto the battlefield.”

R&D learned their mistake with Bitterblossom. Unfortunately, they are so afraid of making that mistake again that token generating enchantments must now be unplayable garbage. ?Five mana to give me nothing until my next turn, and even then only if my opponent doesn’t have creature removal and even then only a single 1/1? Sweet!”

Cursebreak 1w
Instant Common
Destroy target enchantment. You gain 2 life.

Nifty Demystify variant. It’s cute, but it’s still Demystify.

Defang 1w
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Prevent all damage that would be dealt by enchanted creature.

The artwork on this is pretty funny. I think it’s interesting that this costs 2 mana whereas Ghostly Possession, the significantly worse though technically more versatile card, costs 3. Bad pacifism variant that will be forced to be playable by a limited amount of removal.

Defy Death 3ww
Sorcery Uncommon
Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. If it’s an Angel, put two +1/+1 counters on it.

More cards that are cute. I’ve used Rise from the Grave plenty of times in limited so I’m sure this is fine there, especially with the high number of bomb creatures in the set, but at this mana cost and with such a minor bonus effect, I think it’s okay to hit opponents’ graveyards too. Unburial Rites still wins for constructed though. By a lot.

Devout Chaplain 2w
Creature – Human Cleric Uncommon
{T}, Tap two untapped humans you control: Exile target artifact or enchantment.

Another limited only card, but at least this one I like. It’s expensive to use, but I had a lot of success back in Ravnica with Nullmage Shepherd (Who went on to become one of the most hated cards in our casual group thanks to me). This is far more restrictive and may be relegated to sideboards, but having this in your pool will definitely be relevant.

Divine Deflection xw
Instant Rare
Prevent the next X damage that would be dealt to you and/or permanents you control this turn. If damage is prevented this way, Divine Deflection deals that much damage to target creature or player.

Love. This is about the most powerful combat trick you could ever hope for. Used properly, it’s like a Safe Passage that also damages your opponent. Unlikely to see constructed play because of the XW cost (We want things more like Harm’s Way or Refraction Trap), but a complete blowout in limited. Unless you’re a durdle.

Emancipation Angel 1ww
Creature – Angel Uncommon
When Emancipation Angel enters the battlefield, return a permanent you control to its owner’s hand.

Meh. Kor Skyfisher was better. The extra W for an extra +1/+0 isn’t a big deal. You can use it to switch up soulbound guys, but in a format that appears to be a lot slower, running the risk of having to bounce your own land seems bad. Oh yeah, Skyfisher was in a much faster format too, one where 16 lands wasn’t uncommon so you would’ve missed a land drop anyway. Yeah, not a fan.

Entreat the Angels xxwww
Sorcery Mythic Rare
Put X 4/4 white Angel creature tokens with flying onto the battlefield.
Miracle {X}{W}{W}

Crap mythic is crap. In EDH Decree of Justice is better (uncounterable, cantrip, though only 1/1’s but whatever. In constructed White Sun Zenith is better (more efficient and an instant). In limited this is a Serra Angel without vigilance that flat out dies to bounce or flicker. Though at seven mana you can get two angels, oooh! The miracle cost makes it worth running since you could wind up drawing it turn 5 and getting two 4/4 flyers, but I wouldn’t be super excited about opening this.

Farbog Explorer 2w
Creature – Human Scout Common

Playable limited fodder. Next.

Goldnight Commander 3w
Creature – Human Soldier Uncommon
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.

Decent in limited, though would’ve been better in ISD/DKA when you had a lot more things making tokens. Please don’t run that awful enchantment just because you have this though. I will hurt you. Oh yeah, and it pairs with flickering.

Goldnight Redeemer 4ww
Creature – Angel Uncommon
When Goldnight Redeemer enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life for each other creature you control.

Fucking bomb in limited. If you don’t believe me, you’ve never cast Congregate in limited. You won’t be gaining as much life as Congregate, but Congregate wasn’t a 4/4 flyer either. I’m sure this has mediocre EDH implications as well.

Herald of War 3ww
Creature – Angel Rare
When Herald of War attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
Angel spells and Human spells you cast cost 1 less for each +1/+1 counter on Herald of War.

Garbage. Run it in limited cause it flies and gets bigger, then toss it in your bulk binder.

Holy Justicar 3w
Creature – Human Cleric Uncommon
2{W}, {T}: Tap target creature. If that creature is a Zombie, exile it.

It’s an Undead Slayer that doesn’t belong in your limited sideboard! The cost to tap is really high especially for a four mana 2/1, but we’re about halfway through white and haven’t seen a lot of removal yet. What choice do you have?

Leap of Faith 2w
Instant Common
Target creature gains flying until end of turn. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to that creature this turn.

Cute name. This card also seems to do a whole lot to just say “Rebuke.” Yeah you can Jump a creature and attack, but it’s going to be Rebuke far more often. Also, Mighty Leap is better like 90% of the time. Just sayin.

Midnight Duelist w
Creature – Human Soldier Common
Protection from Vampires

Where was this when I had to deal with fucking Bloodcrazed Neonates and Erdwal Rippers? You’re in the wrong set, asshole. Um, yeah, sideboard against vamps for limited. Did you need me to tell you that? (Unlike the strictly worse Sanctuary Cat, I don’t think this is ever correct in your main deck)

Midvast Protector 3w
Creature – Human Wizard Common
When Midvast Protector enters the battlefield, target creature you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.

This card wants flash in a big way. Making a bomb flying angel unblockable-ish until EOT is nice I suppose, but without flash I just dislike this creature. It turns all your flickers into super awesome tricks, but by itself is kinda meh.

Moonlight Geist 2w
Creature – Spirit Common
3{W}: Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to and by Moonlight Geist this turn.

As long as you pretend removal spells don’t exist, this guy works pretty much exactly like Lantern Spirit. I mainly see this as another Niblis of the Mist: French vanilla 2/1 flyer that I don’t particularly like but I’ll play if I have no better options.

Moorland Inquisitor 1w
Creature – Human Soldier Common
2{W}: Moorland Inquisitor gains first strike until end of turn.

Wow, I’m full of analogs to ISD/DKA draft cards! Early game this will play exactly like Darkthicket Wolf. Late game you’ll wish it was Darkthicket Wolf. It’s a bear with a relevant ability though, so it’s playable.

Nearheath Pilgrim 1w
Creature – Human Cleric Uncommon
As long as Nearheath Cleric is paired with another creature, both creatures have lifelink.

I’m not sure which word describes this card more accruately: strong, or annoying. Definitely playable in limited, probably really annoying in limited.

Restoration Angel 3w
Creature – Angel Rare
When Restoration Angel enters the battlefield, you may exile target non-Angel creature you control, then return that creature to the battlefield under your control.

It’s a card I have a lot to say about! This thing is amazing. I’m sure everyone has already told you that, but it’s seriously one of the best cards in the set. In limited it’s a 3/4 flying combat trick that resets Soulbound stuff or untaps creatures for surprise blockers, possibly with their undying reset. But in standard it does all that and more. It makes control’s life a nightmare because they have to choose to either counter this at the end of their turn thus tapping their mana, or they let you start attacking with a 3/4 angel. Also works particularly well with Phyrexian Metamorph which has finally been getting the respect it deserves. Against other creature based decks you can alpha strike, leaving your opponent thinking he’s free to attack. When they swing, you drop the angel, flicker a Metamorph which then copies the angel and flickers something else, and now you have three blockers. That’s best case scenario in terms of combat tricks, but it’s hardly magical Christmas land. Go to FNM on May 4th and get your promo one. The art’s not as cool, but it’s foil alternate art.

Riders of Gavony 2ww
Creature – Human Knight Rare
As Riders of Gavony enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
Human creatures you control have protection from creatures of the chosen type.

Those of you who follow podcasts and/or Twitter may know that one Christine Sprankle, one of my cohosts on Jinxed Idols, got an episode of The Eh Team removed from MTG Cast for using the N word. Needless to say someone so racist would love a card defined by racism. Definitely strong in limited, and seems like it might have constructed applications as well. Spirits, humans, zombies, and giants are about the only relevant creature types right now, in that they’re about the only creatures right now. Unless we see a massive shake up in the meta from Avacyn Restored, this is going to be a card to watch. A 3/3 vigilance for four that makes an entire human deck unblockable seems worth running.

Righteous Blow w
Instant Common
Righteous Blow deals 2 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.

Limited removal. It hurts being both situational and only 2 damage in a slower format with larger creatures, but it’s going to be playable.

Seraph of Dawn 2ww
Creature – Angel Common
Flying, lifelink

As far as four mana common angels go for limited, I’m not sure we could’ve hoped for much better. Not super exciting, but still very playable.

Silverblade Paladin 1ww
Creature – Human Knight Rare
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long as Silverblade Paladin is paired with another creature, both creatures have double strike.

As soon as Mirran Crusader is gone, this guy is going to see a metric shitton of play. Unless Ravnica changes the way we think about Magic. May even see some play beforehand, but it’s hard to imagine soulbound (a sometimes null ability) beating protection from two colours.

Spectral Gateguards 4w
Creature – Spirit Soldier Common
As long as Spectral Gateguards is paired with another creature, both creatures have vigilance.

I expect this to see some limited play and to be annoying as all Hell. Vigilance on a high toughness creature can be annoying enough, but sharing it with another creature is even more annoying. Not something I’d be excited about running I don’t imagine, but certainly useful.

Terminus 4ww
Sorcery Rare
Put all creatures on the bottom of their owners’ libraries.
Miracle {W}

Hallowed Burial! I’m super excited about this card because now I can run two Hallowed Burials in EDH! It’s fine as a board wipe in limited even at six with how slow this format looks to be, and it may be a one or two of in constructed control decks.

Thraben Valiant 1w
Creature – Human Soldier Common

Meh. It’s a bear that refuses to let your opponent race bears.

Voice of the Provinces 4ww
Creature – Angel Common
When Voice of the Provinces enters the battlefield, put a 1/1 white Human creature token onto the battlefield.

A little pricey for this, but it is a common. As a general rule, one card giving you multiple creatures is good. Also works with flicker shenanigans if you have nothing better.

Zealous Strike 1w
Instant Common
Target creature gets +2/+2 and gains first strike until end of turn.

Strictly better Skillful Lunge. Weird seeing cards strictly better and strictly worse than cards from the previous set. Combat tricks win limited events though.

Blue (42)
Alchemist’s Apprentice 1u
Creature – Human Wizard Common
Sacrifice Alchemist’s Apprentice: Draw a card.

Nothing special, but it gives you something to do early that either trades of chumps then cycles. Not a high pick, but your curve will thank you.

Amass the Components 3u
Sorcery Common
Draw three cards, then put a card from your hand on the bottom of your library.

This is way too cool a card name to waste on a near reprint of Sift. Decent midlevel pick.

Arcane Melee 4u
Enchantment Rare
Instant and sorcery spells cost 2 less to cast.

The first time I read this card I loved it, because I missed that it was symmetrical. Even so, it’s still a really strong effect that probably has applications in either Modern storm decks or crazy combo shit I can’t think of off the top of my head. Definitely strong in EDH as well where you’re routinely casting 7-10 mana spells.

Captain of the Mists 2u
Creature – Human Wizard Rare
Whenever another Human enters the battlefield under your control, untap Captain of the Mists.
1{U}, {T}: You may tap or untap target permanent.

I really wish I understood why this was rare instead of uncommon like Tideforce Elemental. Hitting all permanents instead of just creatures is nice, but the extra mana to activate makes a big difference. It’s a very high pick as these types of creatures always are, just wish it was uncommon.

Crippling Chill 2u
Instant Common
Tap target creature. It doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step.
Draw a card.

Considering how many times I’ve run Twitch in limited (Normally as a 22nd or 23rd card), I’d be an asshole if I didn’t say this was limited playable. Especially in a format that looks like it’s going to be won by bomb creatures attacking, this may wind up going higher than I’d expect.

Deadeye Navigator 4uu
Creature – Spirit Rare
As long as Deadeye Navigator is paired with another creature, both creatures have “1{U}: Exile this creature, then return it to the battlefield under your control.”

What an annoying ability. Thank God damage doesn’t stack anymore! So we’ve basically got a 5/5 that will never die and makes sure something else of yours never dies. And if they try to remove a creature, just flicker this guy, switch soulbond to the targeted creature when it comes back, then flicker that one. This creature will win games, annoy the fuck out of people, and separate good players from bad.

Devastation Tide 3uu
Sorcery Rare
Return all nonland permanents to their owners’ hands.
Miracle 1{U}

Not a huge fan in limited, although there will be decks that will want this for sure. Definitely possible as a card for control decks to gain tempo in constructed, and another Evacation/Innundate for blue EDH players. Oh, and badass art.

Dreadwaters 3u
Sorcery Common
Target player puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard, where X is the number of lands you control.

Don’t play this card.

Elgaud Shieldmate 3u
Creature – Human Soldier Common
As long as Elgaud Shieldmate is paired with another creature, both creatures have hexproof.

Fuck you, hexproof. No one likes you. This is at least a mid level pick, especially now that we know how fucking annoying hexproof is. Fuck you.

Favourable Winds 1u
Enchantment Uncommon
Creatures you control with flying gets +1/+1.

Show me a constructed deck that would be happy with this card, and I’ll show you a deck that would be happier with Intangible Virtue or Honor of the Pure. If you manage to draft ALL flyers then this is fine for limited, but for the most part it’s a cool card that has no use.

Fettergeist 2u
Creature – Spirit Uncommon
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Fettergeist unless you pay 1 for each other creature you control.

I feel like this card is really good, but I get fooled by powerful midrange flyers for 2U constantly. I probably just have too many fond memories of Serendib Efreet from the mid ’90s. Any argument I could make about the viability of this card in Standard is destroyed by the existence of Thunderbolt.

Fleeting Distraction u
Instant Common
Target creature gets -1/-0 until end of turn.
Draw a card.

I don’t remember ever running this in Rise of the Eldrazi limited unless I had like 3x Kiln Fiend. Considering that’s not an option here, I can’t imagine myself running this unless I desperately need cards that will cycle for 1 mana.

Galvanic Alchemist 2u
Creature – Human Wizard Common
As long as Galvanist Alchemist is paired with another creature, both creatures have “2{U}: Untap this creature.”

Is there a Tim in this set? I don’t remember seeing one, but if so now you can make him a machine gun. Or for that mana cost I guess a BB gun. Decent enough early game protection that can give your bombs “vigilance” seems decent.

Geist Snatch 2uu
Instant Common
Counter target creature spell. Put a 1/1 blue Spirit creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

Summoner’s Bane was such a strong card and a high pick in limited. I think being a 1/1 flyer instead of a 2/2 hurts this card a lot, but then again it’s a common now instead of uncommon. Playable in limited for sure, but not as good as I’d like.

Ghostform 1u
Sorcery Common
Up to two target creatures are unblockable this turn.

I have a feeling that in this format you may want one of these in your deck, but I normally ignore the blue unblockable sorceries unless I have a build that specifically wants it.

Ghostly Flicker 2u
Instant Common
Exile two target artifacts, creatures and/or lands you control, then return those cards to the battlefield under your control.

The effect is super strong, but there don’t seem to be enough ETB/LTB effects to fully take advantage of what should be such an awesome card. Even so, it’s still two surprise blockers, save two chump blockers, save guys after opponent wastes combat tricks, untap special lands, etc etc.

Ghostly Touch 1u
Enchantment – Aura Uncommon
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature had “Whenever this creature attacks, you may tap or untap target permanent.

Kinda hard to say anything nice about this after having Niblis of the Urn. I like this ability, but I want a creature that already has it.

Gryff Vanguard 4u
Creature – Human Knight Common
When Gryff Vanguard enters the battlefield, draw a card.

This is pretty strong, actually. Sure it’s just a Snapping Drake, but you get to cantrip for only one extra mana. Compare that to the perfectly draftable Kavu Climber which costs 2 more for the extra card. I’d be perfectly happy running two of these in a limited deck.

Havengul Skaab 5u
Creature – Zombie Horror Common
Whenever Havengul Skaab attacks, return another creature you control to its owner’s hand.

This is what I expect from big blue commons: garbage. We’ve had it too good for too long with things like Harbor Serpent!

Infinite Reflection 5u
Enchantment – Aura Rare
Enchant Creature
When Infinite Reflection enters the battlefield attached to a creature, each other nontoken creature you control becomes a copy of that creature.
Nontoken creatures you control enter the battlefield as a copy of enchanted creature.

I kinda ripped on this on Jinxed Idols, but I’m not sure it’s bad in limited as a finisher. Having a card that says “5U: All your creatures kick ass” doesn’t seem terrible. Unlike Essence of the Wild it does require that there’s a creature worth copying already in play, but it also affects the things you already had in play beforehand as well which can potentially make this like a blue Overrun. Until the limited format is known, I’d say it’s worth running this at the prerelease if you get it and see how it works. It may be a first pick in limited, but it may also be unplayable shit. More likely it’s somewhere in between, like a 3rd or 4th pick.

Into the Void 3u
Sorcery Uncommon
Return up to two target creatures to their owners’ hands.

This is called Undo at costs 1UU. Oh yeah, and it was fucking broken in limited at 1UU. Expect this to be super good as well. I’m not sure that you’d first pick it, but it’s definitely not going to table…so I’d first pick it and then force blue. I’m also a control freak.

Latch Seeker 1uu
Creature – Spirit Uncommon
Latch Seeker is unblockable.

It’s a nice clock in limited, but really meh in constructed. I keep double checking the artifacts to see if there are swords or cleavers to put on this thing. Man am I spoiled.

Lone Revenant 3uu
Creature – Spirit Rare
Whenever Lone Revenant deals combat damage to a player, if you control no other creatures, look at the top four cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the others on the bottom of your library in any order.

The theory behind this card is that it’s a must-block creature. However, this must-block creature is a 4/4 for five with no evasion, and blocking is only a must if it’s your only creature. Pretty unimpressive as a card draw engine, but a 4/4 hexproof for 5 isn’t exactly bad.

Lunar Mystic 2uu
Creature – Human Wizard Rare
Whenever you cast an instant spell, you may pay 1. If you do, draw a card.

I love this card, and I love the art. Unlikely to be great in limited…or constructed for that mana. But man did my Azami EDH deck just get even more annoying!

Mass Appeal 2u
Sorcery Uncommon
Draw a card for each Human you control.

I present to you this set’s shitty card draw spell based on one of the set’s mechanics. Next!

Mist Raven 2uu
Creature – Bird Common
When Mist Raven enters the battlefield, return target creature to its owner’s hand.

Mist Raven: Starring John Cusack. Sorry, I’m tired. Flying Man-o-War is really good. This is another card that probably shouldn’t be a first pick but won’t table so I would take just to force the archetype. This also belongs in your common cube if you have one. I don’t know much about building cubes, but I sure as Hell know that’s true.

Misthollow Griffin 2uu
Creature – Griffin Mythic Rare
You may cast Misthollow Griffin from exile.

This card is impossible to gauge without testing it first. We’ve never had a card you could cast from exile before, so there’s really no baseline of comparison on this one. It combos in Legacy with Food Chain (And I grabbed 4 foil Food Chains cause I think that’s viable) and it has synergy in Standard with Moorland Haunt, but beyond that? No fucking clue. My guess is that it’s a lot like Tarmogoyf – A deceptively powerful card that will result in decks running subpar cards for cute combos with this, but ultimately will be revealed as being strong on its own and just working well with existing cards like the Haunt. Oh, and I’m not saying this is anywhere near Goyf in terms of power of potential value, just in terms of deck construction (When Goyf came out, decks were running Chromatic Star for no reason other than it made Goyf bigger and didn’t cost you a card from your hand. This was later realized to be idioctic). Absolute worst case scenario: Phantom Monster is good in limited.

Nephalia Smuggler u
Creature – Human Rouge Uncommon
3{U},{T}: Exile another target creature you control, then return that card to the battlefield under your control.

Mistmeadow Witch for 1 instead of 2. More annoying combat/soulbound crap and pretty useful, but I’m not in love with it beyond their being a shortage of worthwhile 1 drops.

Outwit u
Instant Common
Counter target spell that targets a player.

Generic conditional counterspell. Whatever.

Peel from Reality 1u
Instant Common
Return target creature you control and target creature you don’t control to their owners’ hands.

I don’t see this being as strong here as it was in Ravnica when you had much better ETB effects like Galvanic Arc, but it’s still a decent tempo play in limited.

Rotcrown Ghoul 4u
Creature – Zombie Common
When ~ dies, target player puts the top five cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

You’re not going to draft enough mill for this guy to be anything but a bad Hill Giant.

Scrapskin Drake 2u
Creature – Zombie Drake Common
Scrapskin Drake can block only creatures with flying.

I was just thinking how much I wished Cloud Elemental had been a zombie! Good limited card nonetheless.

Second Guess 1u
Instant Uncommon
Counter target spell if it was the second spell cast this turn.

The flavour text of this card “I see where you’re going with that. I don’t like it.” sums up my thoughts on this card perfectly. MAYBE if it cost U instead of 1U it’d have a place in Modern or Legacy, but at 2 mana it’s kind of insultingly bad.

Spectral Prison 1u
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s untap step.
Whenever enchanted creature becomes the target of a spell, sacrifice Spectral Prison.

Ice Cage variant that’s far less playable in this format with the abundance of flicker effects.

Spirit Away 5uu
Enchantment – Aura Rare
Enchant creature
You control enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has flying.

Based on the name, this card should be far more complicated. It should exile the creature and give you a token copy that’s a spirit in addition or something. But that’s just me. Seven mana seems hefty, but I have a feeling that in this format it should go just as high as Mind Control in any other format.

Stern Mentor 3u
Creature – Human Wizard Uncommon
As long as Stern Mentor is paired with another creature, both creatures have “{T}: Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.”

Okay, I missed this card before evaluating the stupid zombie. This card is what you need to make mill a viable strategy in limited, and it pairs really well with the expensive machine gun soulbond dealy. The ability to mill 4 every turn is pretty huge. This guy and the untap soulbond or the rare that untaps or just a couple of these and mill can happen very quickly. Probably shouldn’t be your main win condition, especially with this guy only being 2/2, but definitely gives you options.

Stolen Goods 3u
Sorcery Rare
Target opponent exiles cards from the top of his or her library until he or she exiles a nonland card. Until end of turn, you may cast that card without paying its mana cost.

This shouldn’t be played anywhere but EDH, but I like it. Cute name too.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage 3uu
Planeswalker – Tamiyo Mythic Rare
+1: Tap target permanent. It doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step.
-2: Draw a card for each tapped creature target player controls.
-8: You get an emblem with “You have no maximum hand size” and “Whenever a card is put into your graveyard from anywhere, you may return it to your hand.”

I hate this card. A Soratami planeswalker out of place is really cool, but I hate what she does. Play better card draw spells or play Frost Titan (Until October), but I hate this so much. Just casting Frost Titan will have the same effect that this almost always will, except instead of needing to crazygonuts with her ultimate, they’d just be dead from taking 6 damage a turn. And multiples are awesome, not dead. If you live in magical Christmas land then sure, she does all sorts of zany shit. In the real world, she’s terrible until October, and probably then too. She can be really strong in EDH where you can run Doubling Season and just ultimate the second you cast her, but beyond that meh. Dump these as soon as you get them, cause she’s not retaining her price. Just because she’s blue doesn’t mean she’s JTMS. Cause she’s awful.

Tandem Lookout 2u
Creature – Human Scout Uncommon
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long as Tandem Lookout is paired with another creature, each of those creatures has “Whenever this creature deals damage to an opponent, draw a card.”

I think this is really strong, especially because it can either pair with your 2 drop to draw a surprise card immediately, or it pairs with the 1 drop soulbound guy coming up.

Temporal Mastery 5uu
Sorcery Mythic Rare
Take an extra turn after this one. Exile Temporal Mastery.
Miracle 1{U} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

This card’s awesome. It exiles itself so it’s impossible to break, but it’s still really strong. You may want to dump these immediately in case Brainstorm, SDT, or others get the axe in Legacy. Worst case scenario you can just pick them back up for the same price you sold them for being the ban announcement, but I expect at least Brainstorm and probably others have finally reached the end of their tenure in Legacy. Oh, and this won’t be banned. They’ll ban the cards that were already potentially a problem, not the card they JUST printed and included a clause on to prevent stupid infinite turn bullshit.

Vanishment 4u
Instant Uncommon
Put target nonland permanent on top of its owner’s library.
Miracle {U}

This card is fine whether it’s the miracle cost or not. Five mana is a little expensive, but being instant and being any nonland permanent, not just creatures, are both huge boons. Probably a pick 3-5.

Wingcrafter u
Creature – Human Wizard Common
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long a Wingbonder is paired with another creature, both creatures have flying.

It’s that guy I was talking about that pairs well with the soulbound Ophidian! Solid limited guy especially as a one drop.

Black (41)
Appetite for Brains b
Sorcery Uncommon
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a card from it with converted mana cost 4 or greater and exile that card.

It’s decent, but I’m not overly impressed. The exile is relevant right now, with all the reanimation stuff going on, but if I’m playing a turn 1 discard I want to be hitting their turn 1 or 2 play, not their turn 4 or 5 play.

Barter in Blood 2bb
Sorcery Uncommon
Each player sacrifices two creatures.

This card is amazing…as soon as people stop playing Lingering Souls. Frequently will act as full on board wipe in limited though.

Blood Artist 1b
Creature – Vampire Uncommon
Whenever Blood Artist or another creature dies, target player loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

It may be fragile, but we already know how powerful the effect is from Falkenrath Noble. Despite being a two drop it’s not as good since it can never do damage on its own, but still very good.

Bloodflow Connoisseur 2b
Creature – Vampire Common
Sacrifice a creature: Put a +1/+1 counter on Bloodflow Connoisseur.

Cards like these tend to be very strong in limited. Not new, but not fun to play against either.

Bone Splinters b
Sorcery Common
As an additional cost to cast Bone Splinters, sacrifice a creature.
Destroy target creature.

I imagine this will be pretty strong removal in this format as it kills anything, and there’s a lot of really big anythings much removal would miss. Also, the new artwork is amazing.

Butcher Ghoul 1b
Creature – Zombie Common

Hey, it’s Young Wolf! At 1 mana this was fine. At two? Much less so.

Corpse Traders 3b
Creature – Human Rogue Uncommon
2{B}, Sacrifice a creature: Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a card from it. That player discards that card.

Wow do I hate this. I mean, it gives you an excuse to run the 1/1 undying zombie I guess, but blech. I didn’t even like Cat Burglar in limited, so I don’t see how I’d like one that sacs a guy instead of just tapping. I realize it’s Coercion instead of letting them choose to discard, but still really dislike this guy.

Crypt Creeper 1b
Creature – Zombie Common
Sacrifice Crypt Creeper: Exile target card from a graveyard.

It’s a bear…I mean as close to a bear as black gets in limited…not counting Walking Corpse which had durdles up in arms for some reason. The exile ability doesn’t seem amazing in this format since there’s no flashback, but there’s still some amount of undying so it’s fine.

Dark Imposter 2b
Creature – Vampire Assassin Rare
4{B}{B}: Exile target creature and put a +1/+1 counter on Dark Imposter.
Dark Imposter has all activated abilities of all creature cards exiled with it.

Hilariously bomby. Yes, the activated ability is expensive, but I liken this guy to Deepfire Elemental. Coldsnap was another format that was light on removal, and that guy was fucking bonkers. And he usually cost more mana to remove stuff, didn’t grow, cost 6 to even get into play, and didn’t leech their abilities. Early game this guy’s a Grey Ogre that can get some tempo advantage, and then as soon as you hit 6 mana this shuts down anything they want to do. Except hexproof. Fuck hexproof. I think others will disagree, but I would first pick this guy in draft. Not sold on him for EDH yet, but I might test him out in my Geth deck to see. I feel like your average black deck has so much amazing removal that he’s not necessary, but you can always steal some asshole Kraj player’s infinite combo or something which is funny.

Demonic Rising 3bb
Enchantment Rare
At the beginning of your end step, if you control exactly one creature, put a 5/5 black Demon creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

Really hard to tell what I think about this without playing the format. It’s huge that this says at the beginning of your end step and not your upkeep, though. That means the turn you cast it (assuming you only have 1 other guy) you already get a 5/5 flyer for 5, which is absolutely fine. If you ever get another token off it that’s just gravy for what you paid, but the question remains: how often will this trigger when cast on turn 5?

Demonic Taskmaster 2b
Creature – Demon Uncommon
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature other than Demonic Taskmaster.

Seems like a fine beater for a control deck. Four power flying that just doesn’t want you having another creature is fine. Not casting other creatures means you just have more mana to control the game state. The only thing that keeps me from loving this guy is that he trades with Delver which gets in under every counterspell except Mental Misstep.

Demonlord of Ashmouth 2bb
Creature – Demon Rare
When Demonlord of Ashmouth enters the battlefield, exile it unless you sacrifice another creature.

This guy sure is efficient, but that drawback is going to be a bigger pain in the ass than it’s worth in constructed. In limited this guy is probably an enormous bomb cause you should have something to sac on turn 4 to get this guy out and start beating.

Descent into Madness 3bb
Enchantment Mythic Rare
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a despair counter on Descent into Madness, then each player exiles X permanents he or she controls and/or cards from his or her hand, where X is the number of despair counters on Descent into Madness.
The stairs lead down in both directions.

Did anyone say they wanted a fixed version of Smokestack? If so, go fuck yourself for making them waste a mythic slot on this garbage.

Death Wind xb
Instant Common
Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn.

Very high pick limited removal. It fucks shit up.

Dread Slaver 3bb
Creature – Zombie Horror Rare
Whenever a creature dealt damage by Dread Slaver this turn dies, return it to the battlefield under your control. That creature is a black Zombie in addition to its other colors and types.

Did anyone say they wanted a fixed version of The Wretched? Oh, I did? Well yeah, but that was 1997. I’m over it. This is about the best defender you could ask for, but on offense it’s just a 3 power unblockable for 5 which isn’t super impressive. It has EDH applications though, especially because it says NOTHING about combat damage. This guy is just a Basilisk Collar and Thornbite Staff away from making you lose all your friends. Oh, and if you cast the rare green miracle on this guy and steal your opponent’s entire board at the prerelease, John Medina has offered to give you a free foil Cavern of Souls. Just kidding, that asshole’s not giving you shit; it’ll be cool though!

Driver of the Dead 3b
Creature – Vampire Common
When Driver of the Dead dies, return target creature with converted mana cost 2 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.

In theory this is a really strong common for limited (And very reminiscent of soulshift). Sadly, there’s not a whole lot for 2 or less to return.

Essence Harvest 2b
Sorcery Common
Target player loses X life and you gain X life, where X is the highest power amongst creatures you control.

I question how good this card is going to be, but I love the design. The fact that it’s common and not uncommon like most of these cards are indicates that it’s probably not very good, so it’s okay for it to show up a lot.

Evernight Shade 3b
Creature – Shade Uncommon
{B}: Evernight Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

Not sure if this is a first pick, but it’s up there. Shades are really powerful in limited, and an undying shade is pretty phenomenal, even at 4 mana for a 1/1.

Exquisite Blood 4b
Enchantment Rare
Whenever an opponent loses life, you gain that much life.

This card is amazing for EDH. Sure you can play it with Sanguine Bond to flat out win the second anyone takes a damage/loses a life, but then you’re a cunt. I’d play this over Sanguine Bond because it’s less likely to make enemies and has a stronger effect. I wouldn’t play this alongside Sanguine Bond because I’m not that kind of asshole.

Ghoulflesh b
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature.
Enchanted creature gets -1/-1 and is a black Zombie in addition to its other colors and types.

Well…it’s kinda like removal. In a pinch this is fine, but hopefully you can find some other way to kill creatures.

Gloom Surgeon 1b
Creature – Spirit Rare
If combat damage would be dealt to Gloom Surgeon, prevent that damage and exile that many cards from the top of your library.

Very cool design on this guy. Hate it for limited, but possible constructed applications. A 2/1 that can swing every turn without fear is pretty nice, but it loses points by not being a zombie and loses even more for exiling instead of milling. I wouldn’t write it off yet, but I don’t think the feature bodes well for undead sawbones.

Grave Exchange 4bb
Sorcery Common
Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. Target player sacrifices a creature.

At the low, low cost of only 6 mana to combine a 1 mana spell and a 2 mana spell, this is guaranteed to always make your opponent sacrifice the creature you want dead. I would fist pick this monster of a bomb for days.*
*Editor’s note: If it needs to be explained to you that this is sarcasm, please quit. Life, I mean.

Griselbrand 4bbbb
Legendary Creature – Demon Mythic Rare
Flying, lifelink
Pay 7 life: Draw seven cards.

When I saw Avacyn spoiled, I thought she would be the new reanimate target of choice. Then the next guy this guy escaped from the Helvault. Seriously what the fucking shit is this? I love it and it’s amazing, but wtf? This will probably start seeing serious play come October, but sadly it’s already banned in EDH. I mean, not officially yet, but it’s fucking banned. Yawgmoth’s Bargain is banned, and this guy is just Yawgmoth’s Bargain as your general. Not a fucking chance, you combo playing douchebags. You will play Necropotence in EDH, and you will thank the good lord every day that we even allow that! Oh yeah, then we’ll cast Mind Slaver and play “Stop hitting yourself.”

Harvester of Souls 4bb
Creature-Demon Rare
Whenever another nontoken creature dies, you may draw a card.

Seems really strong for limited, and another awesome EDH card. Turn every mass removal spell into a Decree of Pain!

Homicidal Seclusion 4b
Enchantment Uncommon
As long as you control exactly one creature, that creature gets +3/+1 and has lifelink.

At least it’s not an aura? I dunno, seems like garbage.

Human Frailty b
Instant Uncommon
Destroy target Human creature.

Don’t mind if I do! I know there’s a lot of humans, but without the set in gatherer yet I can’t easily found out how exactly useful this will be. My guess is very, but you can count all the humans yourself.

Hunted Ghoul b
Creature – Zombie Common
Hunted Ghoul can’t block Humans.

Finally Sanctuary Cat’s reign of terror over limited can come to an end! That card was far too powerful, so I’m really happy that the black version has a potentially serious drawback.

Killing Wave xb
Sorcery Rare
For each creature, its controller sacrifices it unless he or she pays X life.

This card is an exercise in beautiful, elegant design that will sadly never accomplish what you want. There is no world in which I would ever want to run this in my deck over Black Sun’s Zenith (Please don’t comment with a million fucking corner cases in which this card is better). Maybe black will run this as a sideboard against token decks in October, but it’s too situational to be a maindeck card.

Maalfeld Twins 5b
Creature – Zombie Uncommon
When Maalfeld Twins dies, put two 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield.

Six mana is a little steep, but a 4/4 that gives you two 2/2s when it dies is really good and certainly worth the investment. Also, as I’ve mentioned, six mana seems totally reasonable for this limited format.

Marrow Bats 4b
Creature – Bat Skeleton Uncommon
Pay 4 life: Regenerate Marrow Bats.

Fair. A 4 power flyer for 5 isn’t unreasonable, and paying 4 life to kill a creature isn’t unreasonable (Think Slaughter with buyback, which is a fucking BOMB in limited). Sadly this isn’t Slaughter and this isn’t Sengir Vampire, nor is it both in one. There’s no Geistflame so it’s probably correct to run the bats, but I’m not happy about them.

Mental Agony 3b
Sorcery Common
Target player discards two cards and loses 2 life.

Normally I’m against Mind Rot variants except as a 23rd card or if it’s Blightning. In this limited format, however, this card may be as high as a 20th card.

Necrobite 2b
Instant Common
Target creature gains deathtouch until end of turn. Regenerate it

Situational removal! But hey, it’s removal and it can hit anything so take this way over that -1/-1 thing (but take the -X/-X over this).

Polluted Dead 4b
Creature – Zombie Common
When Polluted Dead dies, destroy target land.

With so many 5+ drops being relevant in this format, this guy might actually matter. If you hit him turn 5 and your opponent misses a single land drop, there’s a decent chance you can set them too really far behind…or just get a 3/3 unblockable. Either way.

Predator’s Gambit b
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+1.
If enchanted creature’s controller controls no other creatures, it has intimidate.

Look at your limited pool. Would you run Unholy Strength in your deck? If so, run this. If not, don’t. Totally ignore the conditional ability when choosing and just treat it as a happy bonus if it happens. And if you don’t know whether or not you should be running Unholy Strength? Well…it’d take me way too long to even attempt to answer that question correctly in an already enormous article, so when it doubt, just assume no.

Renegade Demon 3bb
Creature – Demon Common

It’s 1 better than Zombie Goliath! Still not impressed, but playable? Well…technically? You should have so many better cards on the high end of your curve though; not like there’s any shortage of them.

Searchlight Geist 2b
Creature – Spirit Common
3{B}: Searchlight Geist gains deathtouch until end of turn.

Remember all that stuff I said about Moonlight Geist? You can pretty much just copy and paste that here with the exception that white gets better flyers so a 2/1 flyer for 2B is better in black than it is in white.

Soulcage Fiend 1bb
Creature – Demon Common
When Soulcage Ghoul dies, each player loses 3 life.

Aww, what a cute little 3/2 demon! Definitely gives the possibility of an aggressive draft strategy though, as this guy seems more balls to the wall than most of this set.

Treacherous Pit-Dweller bb
Creature – Demon Rare
When Treacherous Pit-Dweller enters the battlefield from a graveyard, target opponent gains control of it.

I will try to be objective with this card, but I have an irrational love of overly cute plays. For starters, don’t play this guy in limited; he’ll kill you. In constructed, however, I think he has a real chance in an aggressive black/blue or black/red deck. There’s a few important things to remember here: 1. There’s no lightning bolt. Your opponent doesn’t have a simple way to kill this. There’s O-Ring, but that negates the drawback anyway. 2. Your opponent gains control of it as a triggered ability. This gives you the option to cast something like Fling or Altar’s Reap after it undies before they get control of it. 3. If you cast it on turn 2 and are splashing blue, on turn 3 you can start cloning it with Metamorphs or Phantasmal Images to keep the pressure on your opponent. If they die, just have them return to the battlefield as a different creature. Hopefully you’ll have a Phyrexian Obliterator by then or your opponent will have something nifty to copy. Also, if you’re going to the blue route (Which I would choose over red) then you get Vapor Snag so when it undies you make them lose a life and just recast it. Fun times!

Triumph of Cruelty 2b
Enchantment Uncommon
At the beginning of your upkeep, target opponent discards a card if you control the creature with the greatest power or tied for the greatest power.


Undead Executioner 3b
Creature – Zombie Common
When Undead Executioner dies, you may have target creature get -2-2 until end of turn.

This card is both really good, and makes me really sad. It’s a near functional reprint of Disease Carriers, except the -2/-2 is a may ability. My favourite part of Urza’s sealed is figuring out how to fuck my opponent over and force them to chain all their rats together and wipe their whole board with a single removal spell. It’s probably better for everyone this way. And again, high limited pick, like 3-4.

Unhallowed Pact 2b
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
When enchanted creature dies, return it to the battlefield under your control.

I suppose this makes a lot more sense being in black than in blue, but I will always love False Demise. Unfortunately, this card is kinda impossible to rate in a vacuum. There are so many intricacies as to if and when you want to be running this in your limited deck that I don’t know where to begin. I think more often than not it will be incorrect to run this though, and it won’t be a high pick anyway so you can always snag one late just in case.

Red (42)
Aggravate 3rr
Instant Uncommon
Aggravate deals 1 damage to each creature target player controls. Each creature dealt damage this way attacks this turn if able.

I wasn’t a fan of this in Shards block (I realize it was also an enchantment so less of a trick and was two colours), but there were always decks that you wanted this against. Sideboard card in limited, but I don’t see any other use. Unless they ban Intangible Virtue. And Honor of the Pure.

Archwing Dragon 2rr
Creature – Dragon Rare
Flying, haste
At the beginning of the end step, return Archwing Dragon to its owner’s hand.

I can’t stop reading the name as Darkwing. Anyway, it’s like Viashino Cutthroat all over again! Or Hell’s Thunder. It’s fine for red aggro probably as a two of, can sneak lots of damage through in limited if you don’t mind not advancing your board position, and, for my money, is simply not as good as Hell’s Thunder. Good, but not amazing.

Banners Raised r
Instant Common
Creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn.

I didn’t see a ton of opportunity for swarming in limited here, so not sure that you’d want to play this ever. Unless I’m totally missing something, in which case…it’s a maybe at best.

Battle Hymn 1r
Instant Common
Add {R} to your mana pool for each creature you control.


Bonfire of the Damned xxr
Sorcery Mythic Rare
Bonfire of the Damned deals X damage to target player and each creature he or she controls.
Miracle {X}{R} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

Okay, so it’s an easier to cast Lavalanche the becomes less efficient when X > 2. But if you topdeck this thing late game your opponent just loses. Limited bomb, and decent for EDH since the one enemy you make will need at least a turn to recover.

Burn at the Stake 2rrr
Sorcery Rare
As an additional cost to cast Burn at the Stake, tap any number of untapped creatures you control.

This strikes me a lot like a red Overrun…which is probably what it’s designed to be based on the cost. It’s pretty cool, and seems really strong in limited if you get into a ground stall. Not sure what new RDW decks will look like, but as a one or two of it could give a lot of reach if the builds are correct for it.

Dangerous Wager 1r
Instant Common
Discard your hand, then draw two cards.

I love this as a RDW card, even though I hate RDW. With a low enough card, you can empty your hand of everything except maybe a land and have a way to get more gas, which is one of the things red has a huge issue with. In practice it might not work out that well and you may be happier with Faithless Looting, but especially at instant it seems like it can either provide more gas or help you dig for answers. Also, gives you a means to miracle on your opponent’s turn.

Demolish 3r
Sorcery Common
Destroy target artifact or land.

It’ll never be Pillage :'(

Dual Casting 1r
Enchantment – Aura Rare
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has “{R}, {T}: Copy target instant or sorcery spell you control. You may choose new targets for the copy.”

Strikes me as a very powerful card for EDH and even for limited if you have enough spells worth copying. Sad that red only copies its own spells this block, but this would be pretty insane anti-countermage tech if it copied other people’s spells. Sadly, you can’t draft both this and Lingering Souls.

Falkenrath Exterminator 2r
Creature – Vampire Archer Uncommon
Whenever Falkenrath Exterminator deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
2{R}: ~ deals damage to target creature equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on it.

This guy is absolutely a top limited pick for red. It may be tough to get that first counter on him, but once it has one it gets really good, really fast.

Fervent Cathar 2r
Creature – Human Knight Common
When Fervent Cathar enters the battlefield, target creature can’t block this turn.

Even though it’s smaller, I much prefer the haste (and single red) on this guy to Crossway Vampire. The vampire was frequently playable in limited, so I don’t see why this wouldn’t be okay as well.

Gang of Devils 5r
Creature – Devil Uncommon
When Gang of Devils dies, it deals 3 damage divided as you choose among one, two, or three target creatures and/or players.

Not a fan at 6 mana. It had to cost 6 mana thanks to the precedent of Pitchburn Devils, but especially with the bump to uncommon I think this could stand to be a 4/4.

Guise of Fire r
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/-1 and attacks each turn if able.

Misread this as +1/+1. It’s okay pseudo-removal, but try to draft better cards.

Hanweir Lancer 2r
Creature – Human Knight Common
As long as Hanweir Lancer is paired with another creature, both creatures have first strike.

First strike can be really, really difficult to deal with in limited as many people probably learned from Stromkirk Captain. I really like this guy, especially with flicker effects for limited combat tricks.

Havengul Vampire 3r
Creature – Vampire Uncommon
Whenever ~ deals combat damage to a player, put +1/+1 counter on it.
Whenever another creature dies, put a +1/+1 counter on ~.

This may be my favourite of these vampires in the entire block since it can get bigger without hitting the opponent. Creatures like this tend to be underrated at first in limited formats and then people finally appreciate them after losing to them, so early on I bet you can pick these guys up way later than you should be able to.

Heirs of Stromkirk 2rr
Creature – Vampire Common
Whenever Heirs of Stromkirk deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.

Man, these +1/+1 vampires are all pretty good, or at least decent. This guy is a little slow, but the intimidate is big and he can become a problem very easily.

Hound of Griselbrand 2rr
Creature – Elemental Hound Rare
Double strike

This seems really, really strong in limited. Also, double strike paired with undying is really cool. Sadly, as cool as it is, it still has bulk rare written all over it.

Kessig Malcontents 2r
Creature – Human Warrior Uncommon
When Kessig Malcontents enters the battlefield, it deals damage to target player equal to the number of Humans you control.

Worst case scenario, this is mediocre in limited. This is either a really strong card to splash in humans for standard, or it’s a wicked durdly idea. I can’t figure out which, but it’s definitely worth playtesting. The possibility to cast this guy on turn 3 in constructed and get a 3/1 that deals 4 damage seems pretty strong though.

Kruin Striker 1r
Creature – Human Warrior Common
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, Kruin Striker gets +1/+0 and gains trample until end of turn.

Man, red sure has a lot of cards that want you to be running token decks. Where my red tokens at?

Lightning Mauler 1r
Creature – Human Berserker Uncommon
As long as Lightning Mauler is paired with another creature, both creatures have haste.

This guy is good, and I’m SO glad he didn’t cost 1. He’s unlikely to have haste if you play him correctly, but your next guy (and potentially multiple subsequent ones) will have haste. On the off chance you cast him and another creature in the same turn, that’s just extra good! Perfect card for RDW against control decks. Either speed your clock up, or hold this and another creature back for post Day of Judgment to immediately start putting them back in the danger zone. Fuck, now I need to go watch Archer.

Lightning Prowess 2r
Enchantment – Aura Uncommon
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has haste and {T}: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player.”

Fun combo with that rare black demon guy in limited: just ping any creature that would die from combat anyway! Even without silly combos, Tims are always really strong in limited, even if it’s in enchantment form. Oh yeah, and it’s a BB gun with that stupid blue guy!

Mad Prophet 3r
Creature – Human Common
{T}, Discard a card: Draw a card.

Red sure does love haste this set, huh? Guy seems really good: looter that doubles as a 2/2! Oh yeah, and red!

Malicious Intent 1r
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has “{T}: Target creature can’t block this turn”.

I’m sure there will be situations where you want this card in limited, but man do I dislike auras like this.

Malignus 3rr
Creature – Elemental Spirit Mythic Rare
Malignus’s power and toughness are equal to half the highest life total among your opponents, rounded up.
Damage that would be dealt by Malignus cannot be prevented.

Seems like this guy could be really fun for EDH, but beyond that it’s pretty meh. It’s awesome in limited until it hits them, then it just becomes kinda bad. On the plus site, while there have been guys that halve your opponent’s life when they deal damage, they’ve always been tiny and easy to kill. Making this guy’s P/T variable makes a huge difference here.

Raging Poltergeist 4r
Creature – Spirit Common

I like you even less than I like Rotting Fensnake.

Reforge the Soul 3rr
Sorcery Rare
Each player discards his or her hand and draws seven cards.
Miracle 1{R}

You can never have too many Wheels in EDH! Another possible 1-2 of in RDW as well, and undoubtedly other applications I’m missing. Wheel is just good.

Riot Ringleader 2r
Creature – Human Warrior Common
Whenever Riot Ringleader attacks, Human creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn.

It’s a 3/2 swinging at least, so it’s better than a Grey Ogre. Which for red is pretty good!

Rush of Blood 2r
Instant Uncommon
Target creature gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is its power.

This is just a bad Soul’s Fire. Like, really bad. Doesn’t even get trample so I can’t call it a Berserk variant. Lame.

Rite of Ruin 5rr
Sorcery Rare
Choose an order for artifacts, creatures, and lands. Each player sacrifices one permanent of the first type, sacrifices two of the second type, then sacrifices three of the third type.

Such a stupid card. Too slow for limited or constructed, and too stupid for EDH. Unlike Obliterate/Jokulhaups which piss everything off and leave them empty handed, this just pisses everyone off. They still have the means to fight back, so you’re fucked.

Somberwald Vigilante r
Creature – Human Warrior Common
Whenever Somberwald Vigilante becomes blocked by a creature, Somberwald Vigilante deals 1 damage to that creature.

It’s fine, but it’ll never be Ashmouth Hound.

Scalding Devil 1r
Creature – Devil Common
2{R}: Scalding deals 1 damage to target player.

This seems pretty okay. It’s only 1/1, but the ability is repeatable so you’ll always have something to do at least. Not constructed worthy by any means, but a nice mana sink for limited.

Stonewright r
Creature – Human Shaman Uncommon
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long as Stonewright is paired with another creature, each of those creatures has “{R}: This creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.”

I think I’d rather just a 1/1 firebreather for R instead of bothering with soulbond. Had to happen I suppose, and it’s fine.

Pillar of Flame r
Sorcery Common
Pillar of Flame deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead.

It’s the new Magma Spray! Good card good. Good for limited, and very important for RDW or any deck with red to take out Geralf’s Messenger and Strangleroot Geist.

Thatcher Revolt 2r
Sorcery Common
Put three 1/1 red Human creature tokens with haste onto the battlefield. Sacrifice those tokens at the beginnig of the next end step.

Hey, it’s all those tokens we wanted! Except they die at the end of turn. Oh. Um…meh? By itself I think this card is the worst Spark Elemental variant ever. It can be good if you jump through enough hoops, but I’m not positive they’re worth it.

Thunderbolt 1r
Instant Common
Chose one – Thunderbolt deals 3 damage to target player; or Thunderbolt deals 4 damage to target creature with flying.

This card is really good. If you didn’t get to try it the first time around, you’re in for a treat! And with Restoration Angel being so strong, this becomes extremely relevant.

Thunderous Wrath 4rr
Instant Uncommon
Thunderous Wrath deals 5 damage to target creature or player.
Miracle {R} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

Amazing for its miracle cost, frequently a dead card otherwise (except in limited where that cost is fine, even if it’s overcosted). It will definitely see play, but the question remains “how much?”

Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded rr
Planeswalker – Tibalt Mythic Rare
+1: Draw a card, then discard a card at random.
-4: Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded deals damage equal to the number of cards in target player’s hand to that player.
-6: Gain control of all creatures until end of turn. Untap them. They gain haste until end of turn.

Maybe it’s because it’s the first 2 mana planeswalker. Maybe it’s because the card has the word “random” on it. But Tibalt makes me want to play red. It sneaks in under Mana Leak/Negate and can just Sudden Impact the control player once or twice to pretty much own the game. The Insurrection ability is awesome in EDH and limited, though the randomness in limited will hurt a lot more where you can’t build around utilizing your graveyard really. It’s not really the card for a RDW style deck (maybe board against heavy control), but it’s extremely powerful and I’m excited to see what he’s going to offer.

Tyrant of Discord 4rrr
Creature – Elemental Rare
When Tyrant of Discord enters the battlefield, target opponent chooses a permanent he or she controls at random and sacrifices it. If a nonland permanent is sacrificed this way, repeat this process.

This is strictly an EDH card, but it’s hilarious. It’s either a Kindercatch + 1, or it’s a total blowout. Or something in between. No one wants to build around that kind of randomness (except in EDH), and no one wants to play Kindercatch in limited (except when they do…which is more often than I’d expect).

Uncanny Speed 1r
Instant Common
Target creature gets +3/+0 and gains haste until end of turn.

I prefer my combat tricks to give first strike or toughness boosts. Haste is okay, but I’m not particularly sold on this.

Vexing Devil r
Creature – Devil Rare
When Vexing Devil enters the battlefield, any opponent may have it deal 4 damage to him or her. If a player does, sacrifice Vexing Devil.

It’s a Lava Spike that does 4 damage…except when it deals 0. Will probably average like 3.6 damage, which is still better than 3, so yay. Strong card, playable in legacy burn replacing a 3 for 1 (cause 4 is more than 3!) and REALLY strong in modern in conjunction with Ranger of Eos.

Vigilante Justice 3r
Enchantment Uncommon
Whenever a Human enters the battlefield under your control, Vigilante Justice deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

Too slow for constructed, but seems like you can gain some serious advantage from this with a properly constructed draft deck. Or an insanely lucky sealed pool.

Zealous Conscripts 4r
Creature – Human Warrior Rare
When Zealous Conscripts enters the battlefield, untap target permanent and gain control of it until end of turn. It gains haste until end of turn.

This has the power to be a total fucking blowout in limited, stealing their bomb and giving you an extra 3 attack. Stealing any permanent is hugely relevant too, especially in EDH where you can steal someone’s Maze of Ith to swing in, steal their planeswalker to set off its ultimate, or do a bunch of other cool stuff.

Green (41)
Abundant Growth g
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant land
When Abundant Growth enters the battlefield, draw a card.
Enchanted land has “{T}: Add one mana of any colour to your mana pool.”

Very well designed card, but doesn’t seem to be much use for it aside from cycling for 1 mana.

Blessing of Nature 4g
Sorcery Uncommon
Distribute four +1+1 counters among any number of target creatures.
Miracle {G}

Great card for limited as you can distribute them, and really good for its miracle cost. For constructed, I’d rather just use Hunger of the Howl Pack. Easier to trigger the alternate ability, and it’s an instant.

Borderland Ranger 2g
Creature – Human Scout Common
When Borderland Ranger enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. If you do, shuffle your library.

Good card good. Reprint known commodity.

Bower Passage 1g
Enchantment Uncommon
Creatures you control can’t be blocked by creatures with flying.

For far too long Michael Bower, famous for his portrayal of the character Donkeylips on “Salute Your Shorts,” has gone unappreciated in the gaming industry. Finally there’s a card dedicated just to one of the greatest American actors all time. Sadly, this card is going to receive about as much play as his first rap album.

Champion of Lambholt 1gg
Creature – Human Warrior Rare
Creatures with power less than Champion of Lambholt’s power can’t block creatures you control.
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on Champion of Lambholt.

OMG. I just read this card correctly for the first time ever. I’d written this off because we’ve seen cards with that first ability time and time again. They were always decent, but rare? Bleh. I was so unimpressed that I couldn’t even be bothered to read the entire fucking sentence and really his ability effects ALL creatures you control. This is a huge deal. Definitely can just completely blowout games in limited, and may even have a place in standard. A single equipment or even a pump spell can make your entire team unblockable every turn. That’s nothing to shrug at. Also seems like an auto include in green EDH decks, or at least mono green.

Craterhoof Behemoth 5ggg
Creature – Beast Mythic Rare
When Craterhoof Behemoth enters the battlefield, creatures you control gain trample and get +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of creatures you control.

A 5/5 haste Overrun? Do I really need to tell you what to do with this card?

Descendants’ Path 2g
Enchantment Rare
At the beginning of your upkeep, reveal the top card of your library. If it’s a creature card that shares a creature type with a creature you control, you can cast this card without paying its mana cost. Otherwise, put it at the bottom of your library.

This is one of those blatant combo cards that actually has a chance of being important. Not so much in standard, but a really good chance in Modern. Remember: Nest Invader et al are Eldrazi creatures, as are the tokens they make. It may not tier 1, but you’ll need to prepare for it when the set first comes out.

Diregraf Escort g
Creature – Human Cleric Common
As long as ~ is paired with another creature, both creatures have protection from Zombies.

Sideboard card for standard? I dunno. I’m largely unimpressed, especially with the rapid decline in zombies in this set.

Druid’s Familiar 3g
Creature – Bear Uncommon
As long as Druid’s Familiar is paired with another creature, both creatures get +2/+2.

A 4/4 for 4 that makes another creature bigger? Good times.

Druids’ Repository 1gg
Enchantment Rare
Whenever a creature you control attacks, put a charge counter on Druids’ Repository.
Remove a charge counter from Druids’ Repository : Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

If there’s a viable use for this card, I’m not going to be the one to find it for you. I don’t even like this for EDH. I may run this in sealed though just cause it will reduce the chances of you having to listen to me bitch about mana screw on Twitter.

Eaten by Spiders 2g
Instant Uncommon
Destroy target creature with flying and all Equipment attached to that creature.

Awesome name, and a really good card as well! Fuck you, Delver! I’d run it in limited since good players will have flyers. Same reason you maindeck Plummet and Crushing Vines in limited…you have been doing that, right?

Flowering Lumberknot 3g
Creature – Treefolk Common
Flowering Lumberknot can’t attack or block unless it’s paired with a creature with soulbond.

Yuck. 5/5 for 4 isn’t such a huge discount for a green creature that it’s worth that drawback. If you have enough soulbond stuff sure, but otherwise yuck.

Geist Trappers 4g
Creature – Human Warrior Common
As long as ~ is paired with another creature, both creatures have reach.

If you played Somberwald Spider, you should probably play this too. Man, green has some awesome soulbond abilities, the previous card excluded.

Gloomwidow 2g
Creature – Spider Uncommon
Gloomwidow can block only creatures with flying.

Green psuedo-removal, and just a good card. Reprint is known commodity.

Grounded 1g
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature loses flying.

Why would I play this when I can just feed the creature to my spiders?

Howlgeist 5g
Creature – Spirit Wolf Uncommon
Creatures with power less than Howlgeist’s power can’t block it.

SIX MANA? UGH. I know this card is better than I’m going to give it credit for, but it just seems so expensive to me. I know the 5 mana 4/1 undying vampire was sometimes playable, at least in sealed, and he didn’t have the bonus ability, but still. I think it’s really hard to judge power when the tempo of a limited format is going to be so drastically different than the previous format.

Joint Assault g
Instant Common
Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn. If it’s paired with a creature, that creature also gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

Another beautifully designed card. I know there’s always a Giant Growth variant with the new mechanic, but this one is particularly good. One mana to potentially two for one your opponent or just four damage for one are both really good options.

Lair Delve 2g
Sorcery Common
Reval the top two cards of your library. Put all creature and land cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

Was Harmonize really so broken that green is reduced to this for its Divination variant? Get this shit out of my face. I mean, the design makes sense and is cute, but this needs to look at three cards, even if for 2GG.

Natural End 2g
Instant Common
Destroy target artifact or enchantment. You gain 3 life.

Naturalize Variant. Neat. No more or less playable in limited than a regular Naturalize, though the bonus for the extra mana is pleasant. That’s right, the card is so innocuous I have to use words like “neat” and “pleasant” to describe it.

Nettle Swine 3g
Creature – Boar Common

Solid limited common. Badass art. NOT named Gentle Boar. (Confused? Listen to Jinxed Idols!)

Nightshade Peddler 1g
Creature – Human Druid Common
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long as Nightshade Peddler is paired with another creature, both creatures have deathtouch.

Kinda surprised that a soulbond deathtouch creature can be common. I know he’s just a 1/1, but the potential for every creature someone controls to have deathtouch is beyond irritating. Oh yeah, I think this card is good, obviously.

Pathbreaker Wurm 4gg
Creature – Wurm Common
As long as Pathbreaker Wurm is paired with another creature, both creatures have trample.

I mean…if you WANTED to play Craw Wurm in your limited pool then this is strictly better. I dunno…the format needs to be so much slower than ISD/DKA for this to be good.

Primal Surge 8gg
Sorcery Mythic Rare
Exile the top card of your library. If its a permanent card, you may put it onto the battlefield. If you do, repeat this process.

OMGWTFLOL. Stupidly powerful for a properly designed EDH deck. I’m tempted to design a standard deck that can use this and dump and entire library of Titans into play, but it’d be sooooo bad, especially since you could only have one Primal Surge for it to work properly.

Rain of Thorns 4gg
Sorcery Uncommon
Choose one or more -Destroy target artifact; or destroy target enchantment; or destroy target land.

Love love love LOVE. Awesome green EDH card.

Revenge of the Hunted 4gg
Sorcery Rare
Until end of turn, target creature gets +6/+6 and gains trample, and all creatures able to block it this turn do so.
Miracle {G} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

Total blowout in limited, probably too inconsistent for constructed as it’s not super impressive at 6 mana there.

Sheltering Word 1g
Instant Common
Target creature you control gains hexproof until end of turn. You gain life equal to that creature’s toughness.

People are ejaculating waaay too hard over this card. It’s a Ranger’s Guile that doesn’t pump and gives you a little life for an extra mana. I’d rather run Ranger’s Guile, and don’t see myself wanting this.

Snare the Skies g
Instant Common
Target creature gets +1/+1 and gains reach until end of turn.

More green pseudo-removal! Can’t even begin to compare to Spidery Grasp, but not awful as an answer to problem flyers.

Somberwald Sage 2g
Creature – Human Druid Rare
{T}: Add three mana of any one color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast creature spells.

In this limited format, this guy seems like he could be really powerful. In any other format, he seems way too slow and fragile for restricted mana ramp.

Soul of the Harvest 4gg
Creature – Elemental Rare
Whenever another nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may draw a card.

Really bomby in limited…unless it dies right away. If it didn’t say nontoken, I’d think this might have a chance at being constructed worthy once Primeval Titan is gone. Not bad for green EDH, but it probably already has enough better options already.

Terrifying Presence 1g
Instant Common
Prevent all damage that would be dealt this turn by creatures other than target creature.

Kind of odd green fog/pseudo-removal. Probably a lot more powerful than I think.

Timberland Guide 1g
Creature – Human Scout Common
When Timberland Guide enters the battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.

Not bad. A bear with a little versatility. Worth noting it can be used to put a counter on opposing undying creatures.

Triumph of Ferocity 2g
Enchantment Uncommon
At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card if you control the creature with the greatest power or tied for the greatest power.

I have absolutely nothing left to say about this card.

Trusted Forcemage 2g
Creature – Human Shaman Common
As long as ~ is paired with another creature, both creatures get +1+1

A 3/3 for 3 that pumps another creature at common? Seems really good.

Ulvenwald Tracker g
Creature – Human Shaman Rare
1{G}, {T}: Target creature you control fights another target creature.

There’s very little I would draft over this guy. Very inexpensive, recursive removal is absurdly powerful. It’s a little conditional, but in green having the bigger creature shouldn’t be too hard.

Vorstclaw 4gg
Creature – Elemental Horror Uncommon

Vorstclaw? More like worstclaw, amirite? It’s strictly better than Kindercatch, but I don’t think that’s enough to sell me on a vanilla 7/7.

Wandering Wolf 1g
Creature – Wolf Common
Creatures with power less than Wandering Wolf’s power can’t block it.

Man, green is all about this pseudo-evasion stuff this set. If you can pair him with the pumping soulbond guys, this is a decent bear for aggressive limited strategies.

Wild Defiance 2g
Enchantment Rare
Whenever a creature you control becomes the target of an instant or sorcery spell, it gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

Oh man, let me start brewing infect decks again. No wait, let me sell these as bulk.

Wildwood Geist 4g
Creature – Spirit Common
Wildwood Geist gets +2/+2 as long as it’s your turn.

At long last the world has given as a jank common that’s better than Hollow Dogs. I can die happy. A 5/5 attacker for 5 is fine, but I hate the drawback.

Wolfir Avenger 1gg
Creature – Wolf Warrior Uncommon
1{G}: Regenerate Wolfir Avenger.

Soooo good! Pseudo-removal in limited, annoying as fuck creature in limited, and most likely constructed playable as well.

Wolfir Silverheart 3gg
Creature – Wolf Warrior Rare
As long as Wolfir Silverheart is paired with another creature, each of those creatures gets +4/+4.

An 8/8 for 5 that pumps another creature? Even if there’s nothing to pair it with, it’s still marginal at lesat. When paired, this thing is such a fucking bomb. Might even say play in midrange decks, though possibly not until October. It’s just straight beats, but it’s also a combined 12/12 on your side for 5 mana. That’s more efficient than Ghoultree!

Yew Spirit 4g
Creature – Treefolk Spirit Uncommon
2{G}{G}: Yew Spirit gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is its power.

Oh, it’s an uncommon Chameleon Colossus. Cute.

Multicolor (3)
Bruna, Light of Alabaster 3wwu
Legendary Creature – Angel Mythic Rare
Flying, vigilance
Whenever Bruna, Light of Alabaster attacks or blocks, you may attach to it any number of Auras on the battlefield and you may put onto the battlefield attached to it any number of Aura cards that could enchant it from your graveyard and/or hand.

This card is amazing and pisses me off. I was really happy with my Hakim Loreweaver EDH deck, and now it’s just completely obsoleted. Fine in limited just as a 5/5 flying vigilance for 6, and such a badass EDH general.

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight 4rww
Legendary Creature – Angel Mythic Rare
Flying, first strike
If a source would deal damage to an opponent or a permanent an opponent controls, that source deals double that damage to that player or permanent instead.
If a source would deal damage to you or a permanent you control, prevent half that damage, rounded up.

God damn this thing is powerful. We’ve got essentially a 10/10 flying first strike, not to mention all that other stuff it does. Much more bomby than the previous angel in limited, but slightly less impressive a general.

Sigarda, Host of Herons 2gww
Legendary Creature – Angel Mythic Rare
Flying, hexproof
Spells and abilities your opponents control can’t cause you to sacrifice permanents.

A 5/5 flying HEXPROOF for 5? Toss lifelink on this thing and it rivals or possibly even surpasses Baneslayer. Oh yeah, and not only is it hexproof, it can’t die to edict effects like Liliana or Geth’s Verdict. My least favourite of the three as a general, but easily the most constructed playable.

Artifact (14)
Angel’s Tomb 3
Artifact Uncommon
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may have Angel’s Tomb become a 3/3 white Angel artifact creature with flying until end of turn.

Much rather just have Gargoyle Sentry. I’m sure this isn’t terrible, but I really dislike it.

Angelic Armaments 3
Artifact – Equipment Uncommon
Equipped creature gets +2+2, has flying and is a white Angel in addition to its other colors and types.
Equip 4

Hmm…this is probably costed correctly? It’s really expensive to equip, but the bonus is worth it at least in sealed.

Bladed Bracers 1
Artifact – Equipment Common
Equipped creature gets +1/+1.
As long as equipped creature is a Human or Angel, it has vigilance.
Equip 2

Considering like every creature in this set is a human or angel, I’d just assume it’s always vigilance. With that iin mind, this is fine, but it’s no Avacyn’s Collar. Not by a long shot.

Conjurers’s Closet 5
Artifact Rare
At the beginning of your end step, you may exile target creature you control, then return it to the battlefield under your control.

I get that this needed to cost 5 because of stupid combo shit in older formats, but that makes it pretty unplayable in limited as far as I’m concerned…and pretty unplayable in everything else.

Gallows at Willow Hill 3
Artifact Rare
3, {T}, Tap three untapped Humans you control: Destroy target creature. Its controller puts a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

I love the flavour of this card, and it’s repeatable removal! You just better fucking pray you have a way to handle all those flyers.

Haunted Guardian 2
Artifact Creature – Construct Uncommon
Defender, first strike

This card is really cool, but is this format fast enough to make him worth running? I’m guessing it’s a no.

Moonsilver Spear 4
Artifact – Equipment Rare
Equipped creature has first strike.
Whenever equipped creature attacks, put a 4/4 white Angel token with flying onto the battlefield.
Equip 4

This looks like shit to me, but we’ve been spoiled by all those swords. Definitely playable (bomb?) in sealed, and probably in limited as well.

Narstad Scrapper 5
Artifact Creature – Construct Common
2: Narstad Scrapper gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

Dragon Engine, eat your heart out. In a slow format, a card like this can be surprisingly good…like Dragon Engine in Master’s Edition! Then again, that was also good cause the creatures were all tiny. With only 3 toughness, this little scrapper may not fair as well.

Otherworld Atlas 4
Artifact Rare
{T}: Put a charge counter on Otherworld Atlas.
{T}: Each player draws a card for each charge counter on Otherworld Atlas.


Scroll of Avacyn 1
Artifact Common
1, Sacrifice Scroll of Avacyn: Draw a card. If you control an Angel, you gain 5 life.

Meh, cycle and maybe get 5 life. Whatever.

Scroll of Griselbrand 1
Artifact Common
1, Sacrifice Scroll of Griselbrand: Target player discards a card. If you control a Demon, that player loses 3 life.

Far more meh than the previous.

Tormentor’s Trident 2
Artifact – Equipment Uncommon
Equipped creature gets +3/+0 and attacks each turn if able.
Equip 3

This is probably my favourite equipment in the set in terms of power/cost. There’s always the chance one of your guys will just run to his death, but I’d try this equipment out while the format is young.

Vanguard’s Shield 2
Artifact – Equipment Common
Equipped creature gets +0+3 and can block an additional creature.
Equip 3

This is I like way less, though good sideboard against a super aggro deck if someone has one.

Vessel of Endless Rest 3
Artifact Uncommon
When ~ enters the battlefield, put target card in a graveyard on the bottom of its owner’s library.
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Random EDH replacement for Manalith? Not sure where this is going. If the format is as slow as it looks, this may actually be important to draft as well.

Land (5)
Alchemist’s Refuge
Land Rare
{T}: Add 1 to your mana pool.
{U}{G}, {T}: Until end of turn, you may cast nonland cards as though they had flash.

The card itself is really cool (Better Winding Canyon) and it’s great for EDH, but not sure constructed players want to pay 3 more each turn to make their spells instants.

Cavern of Souls
Land Rare
As Cavern of Souls enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
{T}: Add 1 to your mana pool.
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast creature spells of the chosen creature type. If this mana is spent on a spell, that spell can’t be countered.

Card is nuts. EDH staple, and likely to play in every other format ever. It doesn’t even ETB tapped, wtf is that?

Desolate Lighthouse
Land Rare
{T}: Add 1 to your mana pool.
1{U}{R}, {T}: Draw a card, then discard a card.

Such a good ability to have on a land. Considering I designed this for the set I made last November (though mine was mono-red), I absolutely approve.

Seraph Sanctuary
Land Common
When Seraph Sanctuary enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.
Whenever an Angel enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life.
{T}: add 1 to your mana pool.

Cute. Janky card that will go into a few random EDH decks.

Slayers’ Stronghold
Land Rare
{T}: Add 1 to your mana pool.
{R}{W},{T} : Target creature gains +2/+0, haste and vigilance until the end of turn.

Another really strong ability on a land, and nice and cheap. Can provide extra reach for aggressive R/W decks.

Financial Advice for Avacyn Restored

I’ll start with this because it seems to be all most people care about. I could give you an indepths analysis of which cards I think are going to go up and which are going to fall and which you should hold just in case. However, that is a MASSIVE fucking waste of time on my part and yours. Avacyn Restored, like Innistrad, has the easiest way to make money. You don’t have to memorize a giant list of moves you should be looking to make, it’s one simple instruction.

My advice for Avacyn Restored is to convert EVERYTHING you possibly can into Cavern of Souls. The vast majority of cards either fall or plummet in price the second the release date hits. Much like Snapcaster Mage (A total no-brainer), however, Cavern of Souls is going to retain its value in perpetuity throughout the universe. Turn all your Avacyn Restored cards into Caverns while the price is inflated, then a month after the release trade some Caverns for all the stuff you need back at much less than you traded them away for. Then laugh at all the people who either lost money or profited less than you did by making following a giant, complicated matrix of advice instead of just going for the one common sense move.

Dr. Jeebus’s Top 10 Cards of Avacyn Restored

These cards are in no particular order, and are my top 10 picks for what will see tournament play.
10. Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded – Screw what anyone thinks, I love this guy.
9. Pillar of Flame – With relevant undying creatures existing, this seems like a no brainer.
8. Vexing Devil – Card will make an impact in all formats, with the largest I think being felt in Modern.
7. Cavern of Souls – I seriously hope I don’t have to explain this.
6. Griselbrand – Maybe if we make Yawgmoth’s Bargain cost 8 this time but put it on a creature and make you draw in increments of 7 instead of 1 nothing bad will happen. Right? Right?
5. Sigarda, Host of Herons – This thing is actually pretty damn close in power level to Baneslayer. The loss of lifelink is huge, but the advantage of being almost unkillable is also huge. The only thing that could hold this card back is the green mana symbol.
4. Temporal Mastery – Another cross format card. It’s not going to break anything, but it’s going to be really fucking strong.
3. Silverblade Paladin
2. Misthollow Griffin – Not putting this here to hype the combo in Legacy. I think that’s a real contender, but I think this card is going to see so many applications in the future that we can’t even fathom. We’ve never had a card like this (And I love the design; one simple sentence creates so many options!) so we haven’t figured out everything to do with it yet. Furthermore, like is EXACTLY the type of card that could become even better. Much like Grindstone, a casual favourite that was no big deal, some cards shoot up in value/utility as cards are printed years later. This Griffin has so much potential to be one of those cards it’s unfathomable. Not saying to stockpile these for years because this list isn’t the top 10 best investments or anything, I just think in the long run this guy is going to be huge. As a frame of reference, the last time I jizzed this hard over a card that I loved because of elegant design it was Knight of the Reliquary. The thing sat at $3 for a year, and then suddenly shot up to $20 while in standard and became a staple across formats. I’ve made some big misses before like Bitterblossom and Baneslayer Angel, but anytime I’ve been this in love with the design of a card (Staff of Domination, Tarmogoyf, Vedalken Shackles, and more), they’ve always proven themselves. It’s almost as though I have a strong sense for design or something!
1. Restoration Angel – This thing is unlikely to be worth anything since it’s not mythic and is a foil promo, but it is easily one of the most powerful cards in the set, if not the most powerful. Not sure it has a lot of applications outside of Standard, but it should be a Standard mainstay for the next 18 months.

Final Thoughts

I really like this set. It has a few shit mythics, but in general the quality of the mythics is way up, and the worthwhile rares run so much deeper than Dark Ascension, not like that’s much a compliment. The commons and uncommons strike me as a little shallow in playables, but I’d rather my good cards be rares anyway; makes opening packs worthwhile. There’s also a wide breadth of cards that are either clearly designed just for EDH, or simply awesome in EDH. I’m really happy overall with this set, and based on the presale numbers I’ve seen and the general reaction from the player base, I’d say that the majority agree with me.

Why There No Male Angels in Magic

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Okay, so this is going to be a really quick entry, but with all the recent nonsense I have been asked this over and over again by people claiming sexism. They answered this at PAX, and while I’m pretty sure you can find a video of the entire panel online, I’ll save you the time of searching through it for the answer. That also means my answer isn’t going to be as thorough or coherent as when they answered it, but it’s a general idea at least.

Basically, the answer is that while there is art direction and stuff, they don’t want to reign over the artists like dictators (for various, logical reasons). As such, the artists have a certain amount of freedom to create images as they see fit. Historically, most representations of angels have been female (Which always struck me as odd since the only biblical angels I can name are all males). Likewise, most representations of demons have been males. This is also why the majority of cards (outside of Mirage) depict only white people. It’s not because they have to, it’s because that’s what the artists are turning in, and unless there’s a specific reason why a character should have a certain skin tone(Teferi in Time Spiral, being from Mirage and all) then they don’t want to shackle their artists and impose unnecessary rules for them.

If you want a better articulate answer, as I said you can probably find video of the PAX panel. Just wanted to have this written somewhere I can point to since people keep asking me this.

Triumph of Misogyny – Sexism and White Knighting in the Magic Community

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Christ, how do you even open an entry on a topic like this? Well let’s start with the obvious: sexism is bad, m’kay? I hope that doesn’t need to be stated, but I don’t want anyone to misconstrue a number of the other things I have to say as an endorsement of the virtues of sexism. More obvious things: sexism and gender inequality have existed for a long time. By a long time, I mean thousands of years. All of human history, in fact. Even in the small handful of matriarchal societies that have existed, there was still massive gender inequality.

Sexism in Magic

I'd tap that! hur hur hurMeet Jackie Lee. Jackie is a really cool girl who I’ve known for almost ten years now from playing at the now defunct Your Move Games. She was always very friendly and funny, and even used to let a few of us hang around after YMG closed to do team drafts with her. She also eliminated me from contention in the 2004 GP Boston the round before what would’ve been my win and in. She went on to win her win and in round, and then overslept and didn’t show up for day two. So thanks a fucking lot for eliminating me.

Jackie was a really good player then, and is an even better player now. So good, in fact, that she’s putting up consistently good results at the top levels of competition. However, the world is (theoretically) a lot more connected now than it was back in 2004. Social media and event coverage have exploded to the point where anyone in the world can watch matches at an event, and if anyone says anything untoward the entire fucking world will hear about it on Twitter within five minutes. And so now sexism has been brought into the forefront of everyone’s minds because we’ve seen some pretty brutal examples of it.

On the live stream of some of Jackie’s matches, there were comments being made about her appearance. There were people rooting for her to lose. There were people telling her to get back in the kitchen. Basically, a lot of classless fuckwads saying stupid shit. You know, THE INTERNET. Of course, people had the option of speaking anonymously in the live stream chat, so they chose to do so and to say awful and disgusting things. Also, some of them made some really, really stupid suggestions about what they felt the correct play was in a number of different situations. That has nothing to do with sexism, just further proof that maybe allowing commentary on the live streams is a bad idea, because people are all stupid and have nothing worthwhile to say.

However, here’s something you may not know: none of this is new. I mean literally none of it. Years ago, I think it was 2005, there was an article on Star City Games Premium involving Jackie. The article was allegedly a tournament report by one John Rizzo, but it was really just a pretty creepy monologue about her and how he could stare at her for days. Yeah, fucking creepy. It also almost resulted in an incident involving local player John Rizzo who was a completely different person. The confusion was cleared up very quickly, and many laughs were had by all. Why do I bring this up, you ask? This happened before Twitter. There was a lot less connectivity and dialogue between players. As such, this quickly faded away. There were no articles written about it, no Twitter drama, nothing. Jackie was weirded out a bit and John Rizzo became known as “that creepy pervert,” but that’s pretty much it. I’m not saying that you should ignore all your problems and hope they’ll go away, but the less attention something like this gets the better.

The problem is, now talks of sexism are unavoidable. There are countless articles about it and how detrimental it is to the game we all love. As I said before, however, this isn’t new. Sexism has existed forever. I don’t condone it, but it is indeed a thing. And no poorly written blog post or tweet is going to change that (Yes, I understand the irony in using a blog post to decry them, so don’t bother pointing that out). Sexism also isn’t limited to the gaming community. This is the part that pisses me off the most, because people don’t seem to understand this. Even if you somehow solve the project of gender inequality in gaming…so what? Are you going to crawl into a cave with your EDH decks and half the print run of Deranged Hermits and just pretend that there isn’t still gender inequality and sexism in every other fucking part of society?

Yes, sexism is a problem and will continue to be one for the foreseeable future. No, I do not condone it or take part in it in any nonsatirical way.  But seriously, guys (and gals), it’s okay to go 24 hours without bringing it up. Fucking relax.

Oh, and one other thing: don’t exploit the fact that women are succeeding in Magic. For serious. In an interview Jackie mentioned how some guy’s girlfriend hated when he asked her to watch top 8 coverage until she saw Jackie playing, and now she’s okay with it. That’s not a heartfelt story of female Magic players breaking down barriers. That’s an example of a terrible, terrible boyfriend. Why are you making your girlfriend watch top 8 coverage with you? The notion that she is required to partake in your hobbies as well, against her will, is extraordinarily sexist. When I lived with my ex-girlfriend I never tried to force her to play Magic or watch event coverage, and she never tried to force me to watch America’s Next Top Model. You’re allowed to (and should) have separate hobbies.

White Knighting in Magic

If this looks sexual to you, see a psychiatrist.While sexism is a problem, an even bigger (or at the very least more annoying) problem is the one of white knighting. The white knights out there, and there’s an increasing number of them, will pounce on anything that seems evenly remotely offensive to women. They are severely overcompensating for something and somehow think this will garner them favour with women who, since this is the internet, aren’t going to sleep with them anyway. Their arguments are ridiculous, unwarranted, and downright pathetic. The two classic examples of white knights in the MTG community are Geordie Tait and Chris Lansdell, but a new challenger has thrown his hat in the ring.

You see, the catalyst for this entry was the ridiculous fucking drama started by an extraordinarily ignorant article published on by one Jesse Mason (@killgoldfish) saying that the artwork for Triumph of Ferocity is all sexist and rapey. This article was also heavily defend by the constantly annoying Chris Mascioli (@dieplstks). I will now go through the article and tear it a new asshole, because it is the stupidest pile of shit I have ever read, and Gathering Magic should be ashamed of themselves for publishing it. Here is how he described the art:

“So, what’s happening here, objectively, is . . . the much larger man has his thick veiny arm around the woman whose back is pinned against a rock (looking up at him), and the aforementioned large man has his fist raised to punch the pinned-down-and-choked woman. Also, her hands are on fire . . . or something.”

Yeah, his arm and chest are all veiny and stuff from Liliana cursing him. You know, that thing he’s all pissed off about. And trying to kill her for. Her hands are “on fire….or something” because she’s decided to fight back. I know, right? Women fighting? How inappropriate! Also, you may want to consult a dictionary as to the meaning of the word “objective.” I do not think it means what you think it does.

“And a bit of her upper leg is peeking out from under her dress.”

You can blame either Steve Argyle or the art direction for that, but that’s how Liliana dressed. It just is. If a tiny bit of her thigh offends you, you should go to your local comic store and buy an issue of Tarot or Grimm. You’ll have a whole new crusade to go fight!

“And his leg is between her thighs.”

Oh no! But that’s where her vagina lives! Seriously, what exactly is the complaint here? They’re fighting and he’s got her in a choke hold about to cut her head off. Unless he’s a geist floating in midair, he has to have fucking legs SOMEWHERE. Sorry if the placement bothers you, but what are you suggesting, that Garruk is going to fuck Liliana with his knee? Last time I checked, that doesn’t happen. And no, this is NOT an opportunity for you to invoke Rule 34.

“There is no humorous way to say that the above image, to me, is reminiscent of sexual assault in a really creepy way, nor should anyone assume that anything related to this is hyperbolic for the purpose of writing or comedy.”

Jesse, were you raped by a huge fuckin’ guy? But seriously, what about the above image is sexual? Garruk looks like he’s about to impale Liliana (not in the sexy way), and Liliana looks like she’s going to burn Garruk’s face off if she breaks free. Are you such a dickless nerd that a millimeter of fictional thigh gets you so fucking hard that this artwork needs justification as something sexual? If ANYONE else sees something sexual here, please let me know where. Actually, don’t let me know. If you see this artwork as sexual, let a psychiatrist know, because you have serious fucking problems. Also, as pointed out by Carol Tavares (@robotouef), even if this was sexual it wouldn’t necessarily be derogatory towards women as many women like to be choked.

“That’s why it frustrates me when people give some story-based explanation for a piece of art looking the way it does. Liliana isn’t being portrayed in a sexist way . . . it’s just that her character is (as described by an R&D member) “a bitch.” It’s all right to show Liliana and Garruk in that pose because Liliana wins in the end! So?”

Um…what do you mean “so?” So the entire fucking point of the artwork is to represent the storyline? And this is the perfect example of why the white knights are so fucking impossible to deal with. No one wants a card like this with a picture of Liliana and Garruk having tea together. You wanna pretend that the problem with this card is that it will scare away new players, especially females? How about this art:

Oh, we’re okay with this? This isn’t going to scare away new players? Alright, just thought I’d check. Okay, I’m done ranting about that awful article. Let’s get onto the main point of this section.

Magic has powerful female characters. Some of these characters are good, and some of them, like Liliana (Whose name is an anagram for Villainess), are evil. When you have important female characters, bad things are going to happen to them. There has to be conflict. Liliana curses Garruk. Is that supposed to be a good idea? He’s a giant…man…beast…thing. So Liliana keeps poking at Manbearpig, and he’s not supposed to do anything about it? That’s insane. It’s not misogyny for a story to have conflict. In a game that takes place in a fantasy setting where you are a planeswalker (like Liliana and Garruk!) and the point of the game is to FUCKING MURDER EACH OTHER, I think it’s fair to assume that there is going to be violence amongst the planeswalkers in the stories. You can have all the glib comments and pithy comebacks you want, but even Bond and Trevelyan eventually fought.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Aye, there’s the rub. What do we do? I mean, I’ve kinda been all over the place here. The solution is pretty simple though: don’t be a dick to someone because of their gender, race, or any other factors beyond their control, and don’t create controversy where there is none. With any luck others will follow suit, but the world isn’t going to hold hands and start singing together overnight, so just chill the fuck out. Oh, and remember: white knighting, as best as I can tell, works on the assumption that women are incapable of defending themselves and so they need you to step up and protect them from every (often nonexistent) slight against them. Isn’t that behaviour a lot more misogynistic that this stupid piece of artwork?