As is evidenced by an article on this very site, and to anyone who is near me for even the shortest amount of time, my favourite way to play Magic: the Gathering is in the Commander format.
I’ve already talked about it before, but I’ll quickly recap the rules:
- Legendary Creature(s) or Legendary Planeswalker(s) as your “Commander”
- 99 card singleton (one copy of each card) deck (You can have duplicate basic lands)
- 40 life starting life
- Being dealt 21 points of combat damage by a single commander is an automatic loss
- Traditionally played multiplayer but is viable in 1v1
I have travelled far and wide to find the object, the one object that will destroy my arch-nemesis. But I really never imagined the effigy that I must destroy would be… A plushie? Well, effigies come in all shapes and sizes, along with varying degrees of strangeness. Nevertheless today we’re going to look at our Top 10 Effigies that are in film, TV, video games, anime and more. (more…)
Now, we’re all familiar with the likes of Funny Or Die, and College Humour – who started doing D&D games online last year, Brendan’s a decent DM – and before I even start I can tell you that you almost certainly recognise a name or two from the short list below. YouTube has been a great space for comedy acts to get their ideas out there and appeal to a unique sense of humour that might not have reached a mainstream audience without it, and maybe that’s because network executives don’t understand, or maybe it’s that certain niche markets can’t get comedy that appeals to them any other way.
Here are some of my favourites, some of the geekier comedy groups and lesser known sketch channels that deserve a few more views… more accurately I want more people to know them so that I can reference their sketches in conversation, so help me I just want to share the joke!
Bah, we’ve been doing these Top 10’s for years – For peanuts. Nevermind, if it can make these giant gentle beasties happy, then I’m sure these peanuts must be delicious. Don’t take this out of context, because today we’re going to be celebrating the huge, floppy-eared creatures with their trunks and tusks. So buckle up, we’re in for a rampage through our Top 10 Elephants.
Please note, Mammoths count, they’re in the same family. We never said “Elephants” had to be limited to Elephants, but their whole family definitely should be on the list. (more…)
So, same as last year, I picked up a box of the latest core set from Magic, because while Throne of Eldarine looks very pretty, I can’t say I’ve seen enough to draw me in past the hydra-turtles. Usually for me that’d be enough, but finances are what they are.
M20 has a very particular theme. Actually it has several, elementals, goblins, birds, wolves, knights, the recurring leylines and cavaliers, a conspicuous return of Theros favourites and temple-lands, and a definite lean towards the commander format, all shine through in the setlist, but there’s a bias here that’s impossible to ignore, especially when you reach the list of red cards.
While each colour has a Planeswalker to represent it, red has three, all of whom are Chandra Nalaar at varying stages of her rise to power. Four of her key spells immediately follow in the set list, and much like with the return of the Theros cards, it rather feels like a nod to Magic’s future, as the upcoming TV series by the Russo brothers is expected to be heavily centred on the pyromancer.
Here was my first draw:
Unusual to grab a land as your first card, but scrying is a useful mechanic no matter the deck, and it does set the colours for my deck… so I was hoping. Unfortunately both of my opponents were keen on white and black, seemingly both throwing in a healthy dose of green just to scupper me. No one went blue… at all, until I started coming up with some beguiling options:
Ok, so I guess I’m building an elemental-heavy deck, I’ll put these with a collection of my red picks, heavy on the goblins to supplement the goblin deck I’ve been assembling. Surprisingly it wasn’t too difficult to assemble a synergistic draft based on the Temur colours: red/blue/green, and something that does what those colours do well. The deck I ended with filled the ground with creatures that support and feed off one another.
Lavakin Brawlers make the Creeping Trailblazer far more daunting, Scorch Spitter and Scampering Scorchers make it cheap and easy to bulk up the bonuses on each, and having drawn a Ripscale Predator and some goblins, it wasn’t too hard to make a rather daunting red-heavy deck, with green and blue supporting heavily.
I’d like to say that I won… we played four games between three players, of which I think we each won a game, but most of my experience was brief moments in which all of my horrible elementals worked together to swing for tremendous amounts of damage… before losing it all after one glorious push and dying horribly before I could rebuild. Overgrowth Elemental helped give me a drop of durability, and those Cloudkin Seers made it easier to keep a hand together and make plans round to round. But it took a genuine balance of good luck on my part and bad luck for my opponents for me to squeeze out a meaningful win.
Feral Abominations held me at bay, giants with deathtouch always blunts someone’s will to dive in to slaughter, and Griffins made it hard for me to slip flying through to their life totals. I was also facing down some green giants like Silverback Shamen and Thicket Crashers that dealt with a lot of my bigger nastier horrors, and while they left the battlefield for trying to get in my way, they took some of my teeth out as they fell.
I like M20, and while I didn’t see many of the more interesting cards come out of my booster box I did pull Gargos, Vicious Watcher for whom I have the perfect deck, and Yarok the Desecrated who I immediately fell in love with for the sake of the mechanics, lore, and the colour combo that suits my playstyle to a tee… and yet still very easily traded away. While Yarok was right for me, one of my opponents pulled this:
Based on the colours I’d just put together, how could I not?
Now, Omnath howls Commander to me, and while I have about half a deck built in front of me, I still have a long way to go. I think there’ll be some awaken spells from Zendikar added to bolster the ranks of elementals from my land pool to make Omnath all the more powerful, maybe some flicker mechanics to have him bouncing in and out, some more land-draw effects to ensure that landfall ability of his comes into play.
I also foolishly passed on the Lightning Stormkin as a friend would benefit from having her in a wizard deck, and I’ll need to keep an eye out for a Thunderkin Awakener, and there’s a host of other mechanics that I’ve been mulling on that could really support a Commander. Apparently the Yarok deck I pitched against myself is already completed… guess I have some catching up to do.
Shh, do you hear that? It sounds like the trees rustled over this way, quickly, hide in the underbrush. Now, careful, for today we’ve got to keep on the low-down, lest we become prey for them. Whether you’re a vampire, a beast, or even just an ordinary human, today we’re going to check out the Top 10 Hunters across all pop culture. Video games, Film, TV, Literature, you name it, we’ve got it covered. (more…)
“How To” videos for Magic are in high demand right now, with Arena being featured as a sponsor for a lot of YouTube series right now. Well here’s one I’ve yet to see, one we’ve yet to address, and one that’s actually quite interesting.
The basic rules of Magic are astonishingly easy to learn. Your opponent(s) and you have a life total, and from your deck you draw the resources and tools you need to get rid of the opponents’ life and keep your own, and the last of you with anything left to fight with, wins. For most people that works fine, but some of us have opened a booster or perused set lists and noticed a card along these lines:
Except without a date attached to it, thanks MTG Goldfish… I guess.
Doesn’t matter that your health is firmly in the single digits, your field is practically empty, and your opponents are about to clear you out of the way so they can start the real fight… you just beat them all. How did you get there? Why weren’t they paying attention to where your Hedrons were going? There are dozens of these cards, meaning that there are masses of different ways to win that circumvent the need to pay attention to your life total.
Many of these require you to build your entire deck around them, or offer a backup plan to your major tactic. Take Hedron Alignment as an example, how does it work and how does it help:
It’s a blue card with a simple blue mechanic, Scry which allows you limited control over what card you draw next.
With it in hand, and two untapped mana on the field, your opponent will always wonder if you’re about to counter their next spell, or dismiss one of their creatures, destroying a valuable play; a cruel but valuable psychological tactic that also contributes to the alignment.
Blue decks are very well suited to manipulating the cards, including ways that allow you to discard cards to power better spells, or take some of your deck, remove unwanted cards to the graveyard, and leave the cards you want on top. With these cards somewhere in your deck, it’s not all that hard to put them where you want them.
And with all of those abilities to move and shift cards around with only a handful of cards, you can also create a deck that does other things. Cards that play from exile, feed from graveyard content, or benefit from controlling the content of your hand, which brings me to the card I found recently:
More manipulation of cards, another possible win condition… actually the two could really bounce off one another… I think I need to be building a deck.
These are not the only paths to victory. Some cards function as countdown timers, relying on a certain number of counters being placed on them, others rely on achieving certain states of play, like having twice your starting health total, being able to pay certain mana combinations, or running out of cards altogether.
Finally, there’s one more win conditions that requires no single card to tell you that you’ve won. Nevertheless it still requires a deck dedicated to it. If a player’s deck runs out of cards, that’s (usually) it.
The term Milling refers to a card called Millstone, but has come to refer to any card tat forces players to put cards from library to graveyard, but thanks to far more vicious cards like Traumatise and Consuming Aberration, the tactic has become a viable, if risky thing to attempt. Most players suffer greatly as their best cards pour from their deck and out of reach, while some only grow stronger and gain more options with a swollen graveyard. And if your primary goal is to see your player cardless, it can leave you open to faster, more aggressive tactics, or vulnerable to the bigger creatures amassing on the other side of the field.
That, and no one likes a mill deck. If you enjoy painting a massive target on your back then go ahead.
For fairly simple reasons, this is a pretty video game heavy list. However, other media may get through as well. Critters are small creatures that, typically, aren’t all that harmful. However we decided that there were two lists; one for conventionally adorable critters and one for oddly adorable critters. Today we’re focusing on the latter, where we look at slightly weird critters who you can’t help but smile at, so let’s get all fuzzy in this week’s Top 10. (more…)
Creatures of immense size and power, a Basilisk has become synonymous with power, cunning and intimidation. Whatever serpentine thoughts these slithering snakes have, you know their gaze will be captivating. No matter what you think of them, they’ve been in pop culture for ages, as well as ancient texts. Fear not, for today we’re going to uncover the Top 10 Basilisks in pop culture.
(Foreword: Thanks to Joel for hearing me out on this idea one night and helping develop it. These theoretical card designs were created using mtg.design)