You Lika The Juice? Wards Backdraft Block Invasion
Before I get started I wanted to do a special shout-out to the lovely MJ Scott who was sweet enough to take on my request a few columns back for a Force of Nature sketch modified as an old geezer. This is what she sent to me:
How awesome is this? I love it! MJ is obviously quite a talented artist and I look forward to seeing what other Magic-themed sketches and drawings she might produce in the future. Let me just say one of these days I'm killing someone with a Prized Unicorn equipped with Grafted Exoskeleton in her honor…
Also Commander fans—be sure to check out my Google poll at the end of the column.
Last October it was announced that starting with Mirrodin Besieged the draft order would change to make the first pack drafted from the most recent set going backwards in order. In the Q&A with Aaron Forsythe he mentioned that older formats would keep being drafted the old way but that they could have weekend events where old formats are drafted the new way.
In January I got an email from Mike Claerhout:
“Hey man. I'm still reading your articles. I hope you are well. We're having an Invasion block draft at my local store on Feb. 12 2011. The neat thing about it (if drafting Invasion in 2011 isn't neat enough) is that the packs will be opened in the "new" order. That's Apocalypse first then Planeshift then Invasion. That'll turn the conventional strategy for drafting the block on its ear.
“I'm really looking forward to it. Imagine cracking Cromat in pack 1 then spending the rest of the draft cherry-picking mana fixing and utility spells from all five colors. Or just cracking a foil Pernicious Deed for EDH! I can dream can't I?”
It did sound pretty cool and I thought it might be fun to “cover” it here in my column for those who might be curious to see how drafting older sets played out in the new order. I asked Mike to send me a recap of the tournament:
“The Invasion block reverse draft went over well. 10 players showed up out of a maximum of 16. I myself came in second-to-last. Go me! I gave the last-place finisher first pick on the remaining prizes.
“First place went to Marc Godmaire. This surprised nobody as Marc is really good at Limited. I think he's in the top 50 in Canada top thousand in the world.
“Just imagine what a good drafter with experience in the format could do. Especially when surrounded by a bunch of amateurs.
“As luck would have it you don't need to imagine. Here's the card pool he drafted:
Reef Shaman x2
Exotic Curse x2
“Marc confided in me afterwards that for Invasion block originally he usually tried to force Blue when he could. This time was no exception. Here's how he built his maindeck:
1 Cavern Harpy
1 Coastal Drake
1 Faerie Squadron
1 Jungle Barrier
2 Reef Shaman
1 Savage Gorilla
1 Shivan Zombie
1 Slingshot Goblin
1 Tidal Visionary
1 Allied Strategies
1 Captain's Maneuver
1 Cloud Cover
1 Dead Ringers
2 Exotic Curse
1 Plague Spores
1 Star Compass
1 Urborg Uprising
“I'm not going to send you my decklist. It's pitiful in comparison to Marc's. Oh crap here comes Marc's deck. Run save yourself!
(Screams hot wind in your face)”
Hahaha! I asked Mike if Marc would be willing to share his thoughts on drafting a classic format in the new style and Marc was kind enough to do so:
“Hey Bennie I guess I had a three-part strategy. The first pack would be the hardest to draft. You only get one enemy color pack so you are essentially designing your efforts to two (or more) of your three colors that you will probably play. The second part of the strategy is that you will get your most powerful cards in the first pack... make them work! Part 3 - mana fixing is critical!
“Most IPA drafts are won and lost by Apocalypse...I love blue in IPA because of the great utility and combo-ish type cards.
“I opened a busted pack which consisted of three very playable uncommons (uncommons tend to win the games in IPA) and arguably the best common in the set. I took the Jilt then proceeded to draft Jungle Barrier (U/G work great together...lots of tempo cards) and pick 3 was another Jilt. That was a great start! The part that made it amazing were the two Reef Shamans later on in the pack.
“After Apocalypse I was committed as follows: I would go U with a splash of R/G/W/B depending on what was passed...
“Invasion was just solidifying what I had a lot of combo pieces that I wanted to play but in the end I went for the 2-for-1s (one of the great advantages of playing blue): Dead Ringers Jungle Barrier Probe Jilt Tidal Visionary Savage Gorilla Recoil Urborg Uprising Plague Spores Captain's Maneuver. It's easier to win when about half your cards do multiple things.
“Mike asked me what the MVP for the deck was... I would say Tidal Visionary. He has so many combinations with other cards in my deck including Dead Ringers which I pulled off three times with the Visionary.
“My biggest concern is that I didn't have much fixing... essentially only the Shamans. So what I did was only play four cards that weren't black red or blue. I understood that I might not be able to play them but each is so powerful individually or when combined with the rest of my deck that I felt I had to be greedy. I also understood that since I had all that bounce and kill that I could afford to wait a little.
“My gamble paid off. The Jungle Barrier was as busted as it ever was! Barrier/Harpy is quite funny... no one can get through. The Gorilla is awesome and with the Uprising is even more fun. Captain's Maneuver won me one game. As for the Cloud Cover it was underwhelming. Since I had no other enchantments it always got destroyed.
“You asked about my Magic accomplishments. I have done well at a few major tournaments winning some Power 9 and some cash prizes but I mostly play Limited and have won many Sealed or Draft events. I am an okay player but I just don't get the chance to play as much as I would like.
“My rating is somewhere is the high 1900s. I have been playing for quite a while and this game allows me to take time off my business. Thank you for this as it was a great distraction! --Marc”
Thanks Mike and Marc for giving us some insight into an old format through a new style lens!
Retiring Vorosh Proliferate Commander
Recently I decided to retire my Vorosh deck in no small part because I wanted to cannibalize the cards for some other Commander deck ideas. I put it together as an exercise in building a deck differently than I usually do—typically I start with a Commander and then build my deck to maximize the fact that your Commander is the most consistent element of your deck something that's nearly always available to you when you have the mana to cast it. Sometimes though you'll have a broad idea or a theme or maybe even just a two-card combo and you flesh out the deck from the ground up eventually settling on a Commander based on the colors you end up in. Vorosh started with me pondering how to make a powerful Proliferate deck when Scars of Mirrodin came out. Since there is no Legendary creature that proliferates I had to load the deck up with every proliferate card I could find. That put me in black blue and green—currently only Vorosh the Hunter has those color combinations but how fortunate that his special ability is nicely complimented by a proliferate strategy!
Proliferation : Contagion Clasp Thrummingbird Throne of Geth Steady Progress Core Prowler Fuel for the Cause Plaguemaw Beast Inexorable Tide Spread the Sickness Contagion Engine (Vampiric Tutor Demonic Tutor Treasure Mage Tezzeret the Seeker)
The problem of course with leaning heavily on proliferation is that there aren't all that many actual cards with proliferate. Counting cards that tutor for proliferate cards I've got 14 which is a little over 20 percent of the non-land cards in my deck. I could add Survival of the Fittest (search up three) or maybe some Transmute cards. Or…
These are cards that in a lot of ways mimic what proliferate is trying to do and just generally play well with cards that go well with proliferate.
Targets with charge counters : City of Shadows Everflowing Chalice Sun Droplet Coalition Relic Magistrate's Scepter Trigon of Infestation Lux Cannon Black Market Mirrodin's Core Vivid Creek/Marsh/Grove
There are a ton of cards with charge counters that love being proliferated especially every turn so the trick was trimming the list down to the best of the best. I might've missed some better choices but this is a pretty solid mix that can get pretty ridiculous. Yes I know Magistrate's Scepter is out of control with Seedborn Muse but again—until people join me in clamoring for Seedborn Muse's ban I'm gonna keep breaking it off.
I know I probably should have Jace the Mind Sculptor and Tezzeret Agent of Bolas in here… but I don't own any. I do however have Tezzeret the Seeker and he's perfect—fetching up Contagion Clasp which then adds loyalty counters back to him to eventually search out Contagion Engine… I've played a game where my Tezz really went nuts like this and it's awesome. I never got a chance to get Djinn of Wishes down with a proliferate engine and Sylvan Library or Sensei's Divining Top out to make sure my wishes are good ones. Seems good no?
Shadowmoor and Eventide gave us a ton of fun things to do with -1/-1 counters though let's not forget the elder statesmen Skeleton Ship!
Few things are as fun as proliferating when you have a Spike Weaver out on the board you know?
What's a proliferation deck without some poison counters?
Honorable Mention : Vhati il-Dal
I have to say I've had Vhati il-Dal and Skeleton Ship sitting paired up together in my Legends box for a long long time since the two of them combine so nicely as to kill just about any creature you need to. I just didn't have a deck for them to go into… until this one in which they fit perfectly. Vhati is also just a nice way to take the sting out of some gigantic monster that's attacking you if you don't happen to have a way to give it a -1/-1 counter.
Rounding out the deck with some universally great artifact and green blue and black cards this is what I had cooked up:
1 Vorosh the Hunter
1 City of Shadows
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Voltaic Key
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Tainted Strike
1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Ivory Tower
1 Contagion Clasp
1 Power Conduit
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Lighthouse Chronologist
1 Sylvan Library
1 Sun Droplet
1 Crumbling Ashes
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Throne of Geth
1 Gilder Bairn
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Trinket Mage
1 Treasure Mage
1 Coalition Relic
1 Leech Bonder
1 Eternal Witness
1 Dusk Urchins
1 Blowfly Infestation
1 Spike Feeder
1 Krosan Grip
1 Steady Progress
1 Magistrate's Scepter
1 Grafted Exoskeleton
1 Vhati il-Dal
1 Forgotten Ancient
1 Trigon of Infestation
1 Core Prowler
1 Spike Weaver
1 Serrated Arrows
1 Guardian Beast
1 Wickerbough Elder
1 Lux Cannon
1 Fuel for the Cause
1 Djinn of Wishes
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Cauldron of Souls
1 Plaguemaw Beast
1 Black Market
1 Doubling Season
1 Skeleton Ship
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Inexorable Tide
1 Spread the Sickness
1 Contagion Engine
1 Novijen Sages
1 Grim Poppet
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Rupture Spire
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Mirrodin's Core
1 Tropical Island
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Vivid Creek
1 Vivid Marsh
1 Vivid Grove
1 Llanowar Reborn
1 Minamo School at Water's Edge
1 Breeding Pool
1 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Novijen Heart of Progress
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Dimir Aqueduct
I've played the deck a couple times and while it does seem very powerful I have to say it's one of the biggest pain-in-the-ass decks to play that I've made in a long while. I usually play Commander on Friday nights pretty late after working 52-60 hours for the week and having to track all the various counters and remember all the various lines of play for a deck like this is just too much for this old man. I could see playing Vorosh at some Commander pod side events after being refreshed and recharged by a good night's sleep as the synergies are quite powerful and surprising. What do you think? Any changes you'd make? Or would you dismantle it for other decks as well?
Gaming fans (and aren't we all?) will be as amused as I was at 7 Ads if Settlers of Cataan Was Real … oh man so funny!
Magic 2012 News : Sorin and Gideon are in; Liliana and Ajani are out! I've heard some buzz that Gideon as he's been printed so far isn't really “Core Set-friendly” so he might get a reboot in which case I hope they all get a reboot (though I hope that new Jace won't be as insane as The Mind Sculptor).
We got a glimpse of the fall Magic expansion Innistrad this week (and it was nice to add “Innistrad” to my Word spellcheck dictionary [Same here! –LL]). As a longtime fan of horror I approve (though I worry about too heavy a focus on Vampires so soon after Zendikar). My first thought when looking at the picture was that Liliana Vess left the Core Set Band kicked Baron Sengir's ass and took over his pad. There's been some speculation that Innistrad marks the return to Homelands given the “Vampire-esque” flavor of the artwork but I think that @mananation's theory that Innistrad is the origin plane for Liliana and the Sengir family rather than Ulgrotha sounds very plausible.
There's a local taco truck that makes awesome fusion gourmet tacos and they tweet where they're going to be each day. This tweet amused me earlier this week: @BokaTruck Casey we left your tacos on the curb. Sorry but you left and we had to run!
Tonight I'm heading up to Richmond Comix rocking a new version of my Glissa deck hopefully better equipped to handle the metagame. Afterwards I'm going to run some Commander games giving Glissa Sunseeker a try! If you're in the area hope to see you up there.
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback ideas and random thoughts on Magic and life.
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format building your first deck or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements Randomness Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy Griefing Staples Building a Doran Deck)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists) :
- Vorosh the Hunter (proliferaTION)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus: