Grip of Desolation

A new… (or at least new-ish) Top 8 Magic Podcast was posted on ManaDeprived.com this week!

Billed as “The Grand Unified Theory of Comics, Basketball, Magic, and Television Part 9: The Epic Conclusion” Top 8 Magic podcasters MichaelJ and BDM joke about their collective long absence from the Canadian mics.

Mike and Brian attend a Friday Night Magic at Montasy Comics in NYC, with Brian playing Limited and Mike playing Constructed. This episode contains extensive Magic: The Gathering chats, plus an after-tournament trek to Korea Town for a round of #tauntingjonbecker

For those interested, Mike played a B/R Control deck featuring draft superstar Grip of Desolation in his sideboard. We here at Fetchland will leave you to the podcast to find out how he did. To wit:

Rakdos Control, by Michael J Flores

3 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
4 Goblin Dark-Dwellers

1 Ob Nixilis, Reignited
1 Chandra Flamecaller

1 Dark Petition
4 Fiery Impulse
4 Grasp of Darkness
2 Transgress the Mind
4 Tormenting Voice
1 Ultimate Price
4 Read the Bones
3 Ruinous Path
2 Kolaghan’s Command

4 Blighted Fen
4 Drownyard Temple
4 Foreboding Ruins
4 Mountain
4 Smoldering Marsh
6 Swamp

Sideboard
4 Reality Smasher
1 Dark Petition
1 Duress
2 Grip of Desolation
1 Infinite Obliteration
3 Languish
1 Ob Nixilis, Reignited
1 Ruinous Path
1 Virulent Plague

Read the full blog post “The Grand Unified Theory of Comics, Basketball, Magic, and Television Part 9: The Epic Conclusion” on ManaDeprived.com

Listen to “The Grand Unified Theory of Comics, Basketball, Magic, and Television Part 9: The Epic Conclusion” here:

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Shivan Reef

Shivan Reef is a “tri-land”! (… in U/R Eldrazi)

MichaelJ and BDM return to the corner of Waverly and Gay (you know here) to bring you a post-Pro Tour episode of Top 8 Magic!

Mike is [still] a super big fan of colorless Eldrazi in Modern, but Brian brings up the matchup-riding strength of the tournament-winning U/R version of Modern Eldrazi.

U/R Eldrazi by Jiachen Tao

4 Eldrazi Mimic
4 Endless One
4 Reality Smasher
4 Thought-Knot Seer

3 Dismember

4 Drowner of Hope
4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
2 Ruination Guide

3 Eldrazi Obligator
4 Vile Aggregate

3 Cavern of Souls
4 Eldrazi Temple
4 Eye of Ugin
1 Gemstone Caverns
2 Island
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Shivan Reef
2 Steam Vents

sideboard:
1 Spellskite
2 Chalice of the Void
1 Ratchet Bomb
2 Relic of Progenitus
3 Hurkyl’s Recall
3 Stubborn Denial
2 Gut Shot
1 Tomb of the Spirit Dragon

While cards like Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin (especially when combined with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth) are getting all the press for Modern Eldrazi mana bases, Brian points out Shivan Reef is a heck of a land in this deck, too. In U/R Eldrazi specifically Shivan Reef can get you the red you need for Eldrazi Obligator, the blue you need for Eldrazi Skyspawner (who saw that coming as a Constructed Staple?!?!) and the colorless you need for Thought-Knot Seer!

Magic talk in this podcast covers anti-Eldrazi ideas for Modern, sideboard utilization, and a walk down memory lane to some of the best decks of Pro Tours and World Championships past.

… And then there is also basketball and tv talk (of course).

What’s going on on Scandal? Who is a psychopath, and who is a mere sociopath? Why haven’t you watched Mozart in the Jungle yet? Which of our podcast hosts will recap Game of Thrones next season?

Spoilers: Mike gets Brian to binge-watch his all-time favorite show (there is a What’s Free Wednesday about Veronica Mars here on Fetchland in case you needed a little nudge, yourself); Brian gets Mike to try SyFy original The Expanse. At the time of this writing each has plowed basically the entire first season of the other’s recommendation.

Also cuddles.

Seriously.

“Basically Wall of Wood.”

Seriously.

All this and more on Top 8 Magic #427 – New Mixed Bag, at Mana Deprived

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LOVE
MIKE

Oath of the Gatewatch

When was the last time BDM and I sat down and did a full set review? Well, in case you missed it, we’ve done one for Oath of the Gatewatch! (but I mean, realistically, how can you have missed it?)

Brian is going to be coming back to the NYC area for a post-Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch podcast this week (and BTW how great was it to see Top 8 Magic alum Frank Lepore in the Top 8 of his very own Pro Tour?)… But to tide you over, check out these Top 8 Magic-tacular stylings:

Red and Colorless

Green and Gold

White and Blue

Black, Artifacts, & Lands

What Oath of the Gatewatch cards did we call, from long out? Which ones have already proven themselves awesome by the first [Modern] Pro Tour? Why didn’t we [more cleverly] stretch this set review out into a fifth episode?

Give ’em all a listen!

LOVE
MIKE

Reality Smasher

“Manadeprived.com is proud to present Top 8 Magic podcast with Michael J. Flores and Brian David-Marshall

“Brought to your ears by FaceToFaceGames.com.”


Bundled in the scrum of red and colorless cards from Oath of the Gatewatch — for the four hundred twenty-third and most recent episode of Top 8 Magic begins that venerable podcast’s world famous set review sequence with the aforementioned red and coloress cards — is the heretofore unheralded Reality Smasher.

To begin with, Reality Smasher is a 5/5 creature for five mana (5<>). There was a time when the stats alone would give a player pause. And Reality Smasher has not one, not two, but three abilities (one unique).

Compare to Baneslayer Angel:

Baneslayer Angel

Baneslayer Angel had four abilities, with flying and lifelink insanely relevant; and first strike and protection from demons and dragons somewhat less so. We’re not saying that Reality Smasher is necessarily as good as Baneslayer Angel, but Baneslayer Angel was declared the best large creature “of all time” by Pro Tour Hall of Famer (and two-time PT Champion) Brian Kibler as he used it to win an Extended Pro Tour. Baneslayer Angel was not only also the apex of Andre Coimbra’s Naya Lightsaber pyramid, but the pivot point around which large format creature fights revolved for several large events.

So for context’s sake Reality Smasher is similar size (5/5) for an [essentially] easier cost (4<> v. 3WW). It has only three abilities to Baneslayer Angel’s four abilities, but two of those abilities are haste and trample!

To begin with, haste is maybe the strongest of the default keyword abilities (competing, probably, with flying). And while Reality Smasher doesn’t have flying, trample does a nice proxy job (especially when combined with haste here). Of course it is the third, unique, ability that makes Reality Smasher interesting to talk about:

Whenever Reality Smasher becomes the target of a spell an opponent controls, counter that spell unless its controller discards a card.

Here is something that Reality Smasher has, that Baneslayer Angel always took criticism for lacking: Some amount of resilience. No, this isn’t hexproof; the opponent can, in fact, target Reality Smasher with the veritable Doom Blade and force you to put your five drop into the graveyard. On balance, it can be costly for the opponent to do so because it is not one Doom Blade but two total cards that will be required… Meaning that disruption — specifically hand destruction — can be an effective setup strategy for this big creature. Think about how Reality Smasher might work well with Duress, Demonic Pact, or Thought-Knot Seer.

… The opponent might just not have the materiel to fight it!

In the end, michaelj and bdm considered Reality Smasher more of a “possible” than a sure hit, but were quite engaged in the discussion; dubbing the new Eldrazi “Gaea’s Revenge-ish”.

Of course they did all the red and colorless cards, of which Reality Smasher was just one 🙂

Listen to “Top 8 Magic #423 – Oath of the Gatewatch Complete Review: Red & Colorless” now:

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Visit “Top 8 Magic #423 – Oath of the Gatewatch Complete Review: Red & Colorless” on ManaDeprived

Oath of Jace

“Literally no one has ever discarded an artifact to Thirst for Knowledge.”
-BDM

The four hundred and twenty-second episode of Top 8 Magic, “New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 2” covers the currently (or at least “then-“) spoiled Oath of the Gatewatch blue and black spells; plus artifacts and lands.

Of especial attention is the discussion of Oath of Jace (which neither member of the Top 8 Magic team likes as much as Oath of Nissa). Despite some initial apprehension, Top 8 Magic lands in an interesting place RE: Oath of Jace.

Mike does a complete about face on Oath of Jace. He starts by saying it “stinks” but you can almost hear the gears turning in his head as he works around how the card might be awesome (or at least good enough to play) over the course of a few minutes of “New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 2”.

  1. Imagine you never have a Planeswalker – You can can use this to set up a one mana Treasure Cruise or Murderous Cut, say on turn four.
  2. This card is great in decks with a lot of “dead weight” in them, or specialized cards. You can use Oath of Jace to “fix your hand”.
  3. Demonic Pact! Not only does this card help you get to your Pact, it gives you insurance against Dromoka’s Command! A B/U Pact deck will benefit from playing with Treasure Cruise, Murderous Cut, and Dig Through Time, etc. anyway.

Mike thinks that he will try to resolve Oath of Jace in 2016, but isn’t sure that it will ever make the final seventy-five; he does think that “people should play more B/U Pact decks” though 🙂

Listen to “New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 2” here:

“New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 2” on ManaDeprived

Eldrazi Obligator

“Manadeprived.com is proud to present Top 8 Magic podcast with Michael J. Flores and Brian David-Marshall

“Brought to your ears by FaceToFaceGames.com.”

The four hundred twenty-first episode of Top 8 Magic, “New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 1” is a mixed bag. MichaelJ and BDM return after a too-long spell to chat about some of their actual New Year’s Resolutions… But more importantly what cards might resolve (in what formats) in the upcoming Oath of the Gatewatch.

Our heroes focus on the white cards this time (because they spend the first fourteen minutes or so just catching up after a long layover)… But it really gets going when Mike chooses his favorite [off-color] card in Oath of the Gatewach so far: Eldrazi Obligator

Eldrazi Obligator looks awesome, right?

Here is a card that at three mana can do a pretty good Boggart Ram-Gang impression…

Boggart Ram-Gang

… But at five mana can do a pretty good Zealous Conscripts impression!

Zealous Conscripts

No, Eldrazi Obligator isn’t quite the three drop that Boggart Ram-Gang was (two fewer toughness, no wither mechanic)… But the fact that it has a second mode is awesome.

At five mana Eldrazi Obligator is slightly less powerful than Zealous Conscripts (can’t steal an Ultimate Planeswalker, for example)… But that extra flexibility really does come in handy here. Not only do you have two modes to choose from, but the additional 1<> sets up an Eldrazi trigger, not Not NOT an “enters the battlefield” trigger. That means that even if an opponent can discard a correctly-costed spell to his Kozilek, the Great Distortion you will still get the trigger to steal his 12/12 (and presumably kill him with it).

There is over an hour-twenty Magic chatter, old and brand new, as well as a tidy bit of love for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Force Awakens near the end.

Top 8 Magic resolves to be back in 2016!

Listen to “New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 1” right here:

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“New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 1” on ManaDeprived

Chris has been listening to our old casts and looking through his old cards, and we have some particularly embarrassing memories to share as a result.

We also discuss the crazy spoilers that appeared a few weeks ago, give away some cards to listeners, discuss a rare paper-magic tournament experience from Chris, and give you a little bit of kitchen advice.

Give it a listen!

Follow us at:

@uncle_gcb
@thechrismurray

Halimar Tidecaller

Mike (michaelj) and Brian (BDM) are back to Top 8 Magic podcasting on ManaDeprived!

One thing that came up in their most recent podcast “Landfall and Fall TV” is the idea of an “Awaken” theme deck featuring Halimar Tidecaller:

Halimar Tidecaller

Halimar Tidecaller is an interesting, if initially unassuming, little card. It actually has a slightly better body than Eternal Witness (2/3 being superior to 2/1)… But does much the same thing as long as you are looking to return “Awaken” theme cards exclusively. Of course the ability to give your land cards flying is a bonus, but I think the Eternal Witness-ness headlines this Human Wizard Ally.

So the question is… Are there Awaken cards worth playing, let alone building your deck around? We think that the answer is at least possibly yes. Consider:

  • Ruinous Path – Same mana cost as the widely played Hero’s Downfall; trades instant for sorcery, yes, but minor liability relative to Awaken upside and synergies
  • Scatter to the Winds – Literally a Cancel-plus. Substantially worse than Dissolve in the early turns (at the same mana cost); substantially better than most of the 1UU permission spells in very long games
  • Planar Outburst – Most interesting of all the “obvious” Awaken cards simply because it actually has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Advantage: Super synergistic with your own Awaken cards! Disadvantage: If you find yourself in an Awaken mirror, you ain’t killing their thing.

Here is a preliminary Halimar Tidecaller Esper Control deck, based on Brian’s enthusiastic comments:

Esper Control by Brian David-Marshall

1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
4 Ruinous Path

3 Anticipate
2 Clutch of Currents
4 Dig Through Time
4 Halimar Tidecaller
4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Part the Waterveil
4 Scatter to the Winds

2 Dragonlord Ojutai

4 Planar Outburst

4 Flooded Strand
1 Haven of the Spirit Dragon
2 Island
2 Plains
4 Polluted Delta
4 Prairie Stream
4 Shambling Vent
4 Sunken Hollow
2 Swamp

sb:
3 Infinite Obliteration
2 Rising Miasma
4 Ultimate Price
2 Disdainful Stroke
3 Part the Waterveil
1 Silumgar, the Drifting Death

One card that was considered that is fairly on-theme is Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper; ultimately we considered that too immediately clunky and vulnerable relative to Dragonlord Ojutai at 3WU (especially no hexproof tapping out).

Of course “Landfall and Fall TV” has much more going on than just Halimar Tidecaller brewing. Check it (and what Mike and Brian are watching right now) out at ManaDeprived.com.

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Last week, Chris and I sat down to get hyped about Pro Tour: Origins in Vancouver. Instead, we ended up getting hyped about Luis Scott-Vargas.

Chris asks if variance is a threat to Magic’s long-term viability, and I have a thing or two to say about that. Also, I recap a recent Modern PPTQ I nearly won with a tier-1 deck that no one seems to appreciate… which is excellent against Grixis Delver.

We also discuss some of the more absurd cards from Magic’s early days, and, as usual, play some games. Listen below, or subscribe on iTunes!

Follow us at:

@uncle_gcb
@thechrismurray

(Chris doesn’t use his Twitter account, but you can harass him there anyway. His phone number is in the podcast if you want to bug him via text message!)