magic

Pauper: stomping around with Stompy

rancor magic the gathering

Since the day I held my first Magic cards in my tiny, pre-pubescent hands, I had a weakness for the color green and big, bad creatures. Wait, let me correct the latter one: I had a love for seemingly tiny critters who would turn into unstoppable powerhouses at my command. Back then, I had assembled a Spike deck, revolving around the +1/+1 counters being moved from one Spike to another, creating some massive slug-like creatures. It was awesome when I stomped my brother with 8/8 monstrosities. Rancor helped making that possible and for that, it will forever have a special place in my heart.

Pauper allows me to give Rancor another go with the oh so popular Stompy deck. Playing Stompy revolves around playing tiny creatures and injecting them with stuff like the aforementioned Rancor or Shield of the Oversoul, turning them into formidable foes. However, it doesn’t stop there. Instants like Groundswell and Gather Courage give your servants that final boost, overrunning your enemy’s creatures with all the force green commons can muster.

When I put it like that, it sounds like playing Stompy doesn’t require much finesse. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a format where decks like Delver have ways to ignore your creatures completely, simply rushing for another way of winning, leading your mob to victory is tricky. The cards in your deck allow you only limited immunity against creature removal. Sure, you can pump up your creatures to survive removal like Lightning Bolt, but hexproofing them against anything else is hard. That’s why tactical use of Vines of Vastwood and your ever so handy Silhana Ledgewalker is so important. Buff up that Ledgewalker, annul your opponent’s removal and sweep in for some killing blows.

I’m still rounding out the deck, but so far, I’m satisfied with it. Granted, my lack of skill and control of this deck has resulted in quite some losses, but every game teaches me something new. Soon, I’ll stomp them. I’ll stomp them all.

Chin out!

Pauper: playing Magic without going broke

pauper magic vincent van gogh

“The Pauper, reimagined” by Vincent van Gogh and yours truly.

Some time ago, I wrote about my return to the hobby of Magic: the Gathering. Sadly, since my posts, the amount of games played has crashed to zero. The reasons? A lack of players and other financial priorities. Yep, guys and gals, Magic: the Gathering is a pretty expensive hobby if you want to keep up with other players, and I’d rather spend my money on things like food instead of cardboard. Though a few cards of Magic would probably fill my stomach as well, they are a pain to eat and not really nutritious.

Anyway, I still have the urge to throw down cards and pretend I’m a badass planeswalker, and so I found an outlet in Magic: the Gathering Online (or just MtGO). While that game allows me to play with a truckload of other players from all over the world any time I want to, I still have to pay money for the cards. This time, they aren’t even made of cardboard, but of bits and bytes! I can’t eat bits and bytes!

Luckily, a friend of mine introduced me to the funky format known as Pauper. In Pauper, you build a normal deck, but you can only use common cards. In other words: you can only use the cheap cards nobody wants (alright, that’s an exaggeration). Even better, the format has been recognized by Wizards of the Coast and boasts an active and ever-growing community of players. Playing Magic without going bankrupt? Can this be true?

Yes, it can be true. Over the past weeks, I’ve been test-driving my first version of a green Stompy deck, and I’m surprised by how cool games with only commons can be. I’m getting my butt handed to me by some wicked awesome decks, and it’s good to see that Pauper recquires the same fine-tuning and tactical thinking as other, more famous formats. Also, playing this format saves my bankroll and allows me to take the lady out for dinner more ocassionally.

Thank you, Pauper, for not making me eat cardboard.

Slivers slither back into Magic

Just a few hours ago, Wizards of the Coast spoiled us with a look at some cards from their next core set Magic 2014. It’s normal for Wizards to give us a few spoilers way before the release of the set, but the cards we’ve seen now are proof of the return of one of Magic’s most iconic creature types: slivers. These nasty-looking beasts have first been sighted in the Tempest set, and had their last public appearance in Future Sight. Now, July will be the month they return to Standard play,

This has me hyped for two reasons. First of all, I hate sliver decks. I recall the days one of my friends built one, and though it was not complete, it annoyed the hell out of me that if he survived long enough, all his creatures had trample, flying, first strike and all other tools needed to ruin my day. However, I love slivers since I just love tribal mechanics. Focusing on a certain creature type gives me focus, and makes it easy for me to pick cards for a deck. Now, I’m actually considering building a sliver deck as soon as “M14” comes around, not just as a way to recover from childhood traumas.

How do you feel about the return of these hive-minds? What else do you hope to find in Magic 2014?

Pimping the Legion

As the release of Dragon’s Maze is drawing near, and I couldn’t get a spot at my local gamestore’s Prerelease (can you see the sadface?), I’ve been having some fun during the weekend tweaking my Boros deck. You can find the tentative decklist right here, and I would love all you Magic lovers to take a look at it and give your feedback. Before you do that, though, here are a few things my deck is about:

  • Like every Boros deck, I want to make good use of the Battalion keyword. I love the mechanic, and I love how it motivates me to attack with as many creatures as possible. Due to that, the majority of my creatures should have it.
  • I’m a sucker for weenie decks, and as you can see in this deck’s mana curve, it peaks out at two mana, and holds only one 4-mana critter. While I’m willing to add bigger creatures, I wouldn’t want them to have a converted mana cost of more than four.
  • The majority of the deck is formed by creatures, but I’m covering them with a selection of other spells. Arrows of Justice offer some form of removal, and so does Mugging. The flexibility of Boros Charm is something I enjoy, so I would love to keep it.
  • Boros Reckoner is in there because it rocks hard. Really hard.
  • But you know who rocks even harder? Frontline Medic!

Knowing that, I can already see some points of improvement. Act of Treason could offer me some early-game Battalion and take care of potential blockers. More Madcap Skills could turn some already annoying creatures into even more annoying creatures, and if I had the luck or money, I would add two more Reckoners and three Frontline Medics.

So, Magic geeks of the blogosphere, hit me hard with your critique and help me improve this deck!

Rebuilding my love for Magic through the Boros

boros elite gatecrash magic the gathering mtg

Back when I was in the last years of primary school, my brother and his friends (which I thought were the epitome of coolness) started this weird game, involving cards and terms like “mana”, “first strike” and “ping damage”. I was intrigued, and begged my brother to borrow me some of his cards to build a deck of my own. Of course, my first (blue and green, if I recall correctly) deck sucked harder than a Dyson vacuum cleaner, but I was hooked. Or so I thought.

The Magic phase of my life was short but intense, but by my early years of high school, I only played with borrowed decks and on a really irregular basis. I bought some packs from time to time, but the bug never really bit me again…until now.

A few weeks ago, I started watching the finals of the Gatecrash Pro Tour for some reason. The link to the stream just popped up in my Facebook stream, and before I knew it, I was watching how Tom Martell took home the trophy. Even though I didn’t know anything about the current cards and metagame, it was exciting to watch the two finalists play. I messaged Dee if he was interested in giving the game another try, and barely a week later, we were cracking boosters during a Winston Draft.

Since then, I find myself reading articles and forums about this money sink of a TCG again. I’m trying to get back into the game, and card by card, my Boros deck grows. God, those awesome Boros. It’s more than luck that the current block has a viable option concerning weenie decks. Throughout my past with this game, I have always preferred creature-heavy decks with a low mana curve, and the Boros provide me with that. Plus, the battalion mechanic motivates me to keep the pressure on my opponent. Finally, they have Boros Reckoner. Though I don’t know much about the game, I know that he is one badass mo-fo!

Plans have been made to participate in my local Dragon’s Maze Pre-Release, and I’m playing on a semi-regular basis with Dee. It’s great to see that such a blast from my past has evolved and developed so well, and I don’t regret a single Euro I have spent so far on new cards. As my Boros Legion grows, so does my love for this game.

It’s a kind of Magic

mana magic symbols

“Magic the Gathering Mana” by hush66

Last weekend, I did something I should have done a long time ago: for the first time in a few years, I bought and played with Magic cards. I didn’t just buy a few packs and a theme deck, no: I got myself a whole booster box of Gatecrashand Winston Drafted my Saturday night away with my buddy Dee. I had totally forgotten how much fun this game is, and now I’m considering getting back into the game. Should I, or should I not? This article is devoted to my temptation to dive back into this time-consuming, money-devouring game, so why don’t you read further and see what I’m looking for in Magic: the Gathering.

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Strange Sunday – how to make magic special again

“Mage battle” by sandara

Most fantasy and sci-fi settings have magic in some way. No matter if you call it sorcery, psionic powers or miracles, every supernatural effect that is based on some bizarre, at most semi-scientific power is magic to me. I’m normally not a big fan of magic in games, unless it’s done in a cool and fresh way. Sadly, most settings miss out on the chance of making their magic something unique, and that saddens me.

You see, I have the feeling that most authors and game designers are under the impression that magic in itself is fairly unique already. It gives characters the capability to do something out of the ordinary, and thus it might not need any fancy background explanation. However, audiences have become jaded by the sheer amount of magic these days. The reason why I never bothered to play a biotic in Mass Effect was because it was just another kind of psychic magic to me, and I left those cool tricks to the rest of my crew. Fortunately, there are settings where something interesting is done with magic, making it cool, exotic and…well, strange. I want to highlight a few of those in this week’s Strange Sunday, to give you some inspiration!

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