Monthly Archives: March 2017

International Tabletop Day 2017

by May 3, 2017

International Tabletop Day at A Muse N Games will be a free event with special extras and cheats to raise money alongside Extra Life for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. You can donate money to guarantee a spot at a table (link below) but there will be free games all day and you can show up day of at no charge.

Firefly (up to 4 players) at 12:00 pm
Mice & Mystics (up to 4 players) at 12:00 pm
Pathfinder Society Intro Table (up to 6 players) at 1:00 pm
Masmora (up to 4 players) at 1:00 pm
Fantasy Age – Prelude to Krull (a Gencon exclusive adventure – up to 6 players) run by Doc Wilson at 3:00 pm
Celestia (up to 6 players) at 1:30 pm & 5:00 pm
Pandemic Cthulhu (up to 3 players) at 4:00 pm
New Angeles (up to 5 players) at 6:00 pm
7 Wonders (up to 6 players) at 7:00 pm

More events and games to be announced as we get closer to the day.

If you are interested in running something please email scotia(at)amusengames.ca to confirm time and game slots available.

More events and games to be announced as we get closer to the day.

Donate in store to reserve a table spot or online at Eventbrite

Modern Masters 2017 League

by March 29, 2017

Leauge starts April 2 at 2pm (Ends April 16 at 6pm)

To tnter the league, a player gets 3 packs of Modern Masters 2017 for $35.

  • Players will open three booster packs and use those boosters to build a 30-card deck.
  • The league will last three weeks. (Players may enter the league at any point during the league)
  • Every week, players will add a booster pack to their pool, rebuilding as often as players would like. Players can also add a booster after three losses. (MM17 boosters are 20% off for league members for league purchases = $12)
  • Matches consist of a single game. Each player gets one free mulligan at the start of the game.
  • Players can bring their league decks and play games throughout the week in addition to getting together on Sunday afternoons for league day!

THE MANA DORK—Is Wizards Taking Control of Commander?

by March 24, 2017

Well, this is fascinating.

We’re going to take a break from the Planeswalker Deck Challenge series (1, 2, 3) this week to talk about a recent announcement Wizards of the Coast has made, and what it could mean for Commander as a whole.

Specifically: Wizards is going to be making 1v1 Commander on MTG Online a Thing. And this has Implications.

(First, a very quick glossary of some terms that might not be familiar:

  • MTG Online/”MTGO”: The official client for playing Magic online.
  • Rules Committee/”RC”: The grassroots group of community members that currently governs the Commander format, making rule and banlist decisions.
  • Duel Commander: A 1v1 rules variant of Commander with its own Rules Committee and its own banlist, very different from regular Commander. Controversially, they changed starting life totals from 30 to 20 last year. Popular in France, and sometimes called “French EDH”.
  • Leviathan Commander: A format that splintered off from Duel Commander last year after the life total change. Leviathan Commander is roughly identical to Duel Commander, except it keeps the starting life total at 30. Popular in Italy.
  • 1v1 Commander: Not currently an official format—just a term used to describe one-on-one Commander games on MTGO. But that may change.)

This week, the official Wizards Tumblr page for Magic Online made the following announcement, which I will quote here in full:

30 LIFE FOR 1V1 COMMANDER

The Modern Masters 2017 Edition deployment today contained a change which moved the starting life total from 40 to 30 for 1v1 Commander games.  (Games with 3 or 4 players remain at a starting life total of 40.)

We have plans to introduce more support for 1v1 Commander.  As part of this, R&D determined that format is better off with a starting life total of 30. At one point we had planned to introduce this change as well as league support and a modified banned list today, but later decided to instead introduce it during Amonkhet season.

Unfortunately, in this process the life total change did not get taken out of this build, and so today it is live. Now that it is live, since it is a change we were planning on making anyway in the future, our intent is to simply leave it in place.

Stay tuned for an article about what support we plan to offer for 1v1 Commander leagues moving forward!

– Lee

 

To my knowledge, this is the first time in the history of Commander that Wizards has taken control of some rules for the format—even if it’s just for a variant. Previously, they have left every decision in the hands of the Rules Committee.

Going from 40 life to 30 life for 1v1—identical to Leviathan, and Duel Commander pre-2016—is interesting enough. But modifying the banlist is a big signal that more changes may be en route.

The Commander banlist has been the subject of vociferous discussion for years, and I have spent many thousands of words (that I could have gotten paid for by writing articles for the store instead! Ah, hindsight is Marit Lage… ) arguing for and against various cards. It is at the heart of the many PR problems faced by the Rules Committee as a whole, and it is what makes many players question whether or not the Rules Committee remains relevant today.

The idea that the Rules Committee controls the list entirely, without input from Wizards, is core to the identity of Commander. This is The Casual Format, The Grassroots Format, safe from the hard-edged Pro Tour circuit, and you can tell because Wizards isn’t even in charge of it.

But despite that, all is not well in the clachan. Many believe that the Rules Committee’s choices of what and what not to ban are dubious, based largely on anecdata from their personal playgroups. And regardless of what you believe, it is fact that if they collect real data, they share none of it with the public when making announcements.

This lack of transparency has not helped the RC’s public image. Even when Sheldon Menery—the public face of the Rules Committee—writes a column about the banlist philosophy in an attempt to explain their thinking, he is… circuitous.

That article is approximately 2,000 words spent building up the straw-man fallacy that banning cards based on mechanical strength would lead to cascading additional bans, when Menery could simply have said that the format is about mechanical strength, and bans are instead made based on whether or not a card creates “garbage time” scenarios where multiple players spend multiple turn cycles with zero relevance in gameplay. Which is all true, if never stated so concisely.

And yet Commander has been extremely successful in recent years, as the Casual and Competitive events at the store show. Is this because the RC is doing something right? Is it simply because Wizards is putting Commander pre-cons on every shelf? Is it both, neither?

So it’s in the middle of this bubbling cauldron that Wizards makes the announcement above.

But what does it mean?

 

Let’s look at one more key line from this announcement—the fact that Wizards will be supporting 1v1 Commander leagues going forward. This is new, and huge.

Currently, Magic suffers from the Not-Hearthstone problem. Specifically, it is a game designed for paper play in physical spaces with instant-speed interaction and counterplay, making it unsuitable for presentation as an eSport. Hearthstone, meanwhile, is designed from the ground up as a digital game with almost no instant-speed interaction, allowing for a slick, smooth presentation and no constant little delays waiting for priority from an opponent passed out/BMing on the other side of a keyboard three million miles away.

Hearthstone is a very popular eSport, and it got there using a business model Magic pioneered. It’s ridiculous to think that Magic can’t be successful in that same arena. There’s money to be made in eSports, and it makes sense that Wizards would go after it.

But how do you get there, given MTGO’s notoriously user-unfriendly graphics and constant priority delays?

Well, you start by giving viewers a strategy they can latch onto quickly. One with a strong visual component. Possibly one that centres on a legendary creature they can see at all times and that the players have access to at all times.

I think Wizards will be pushing 1v1 Commander as a potential eSport. I think they’re taking precisely the steps required to do so—running 1v1 Commander leagues, and asserting control of the banlist and ruleset—and I think they will watch and see how the community responds (cf.: how popular the leagues are on Twitch) before pushing further.

I also think Wizards is testing the waters for asserting control of Commander as a whole. Today, many players enter the format thinking Wizards controls it, as they do every other format, and are shocked to learn that the Rules Committee exists and has the power it does. The RC was instrumental in the creation of Commander as a whole, but the format is now largely self-governing, and there’s an argument to be made that the RC is almost vestigial in its purpose and impact. If players respond warmly to the choices Wizards makes governing 1v1 Commander on MTGO, this announcement may be a bellwether for Wizards’ eventual assertion of control over Commander some years from now.

Only time will tell.

THAT WAS LIKE THE CHEAPEST TROPE YOU COULD POSSIBLY END A COLUMN ON, MACKENZIE, HOW ABOUT YOU TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON AT THE STORE INSTEAD

Can do!

The Standard Spring 9-Week Challenge rolls on, with Standard every Tuesday night, On-Demand Standard whenever four or more folks want to shuffle up, and one more special Sunday tournament in April.

The GPT Farewell Tour is off and running, with Kickoff Weekend starting tomorrow! GPT Vegas Legacy is tomorrow at noon, GPT Vegas Limited MM2017 is Sunday at noon, and GPT Vegas Modern is Monday at 7! Make sure you show up 15 to 30 minutes ahead of time to register.

Speaking of registering, Amonkhet Pre-Release events are now open—you can register at the store or on Eventbrite for $35 before 10 PM Wednesday, April 19th!

Finally, Free Games Day is happening tomorrow at the store! Bring a game, bring a friend, bring both, bring neither and just show up and learn some new boardgames—it’s all good! Admission is free, but the fun is forever.

See you at the store!

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. He is not sorry for the Heartstone/Hearthstone pun half a column ago. Tune in every two weeks for the Mana Dork, his column on all things Magic!

THE MANA DORK—The Planeswalker Deck Challenge, Part 3

by March 9, 2017

Get out your boxes of bulk, it’s time to start brewing!

In the last two instalments of the Mana Dork, I’ve been talking about the Planeswalker Deck Challenge, where I competed with the Ajani Planeswalker Deck at Aether Revolt Game Day in order to demonstrate that the Planeswalker Decks could do more to set new players up for success.

I was incredibly lucky—I opened Ajani Unyielding in one of the booster packs for the Ajani Planeswalker Deck, along with a Greenwheel Liberator and some excellent uncommons. With this, I went 1-3, with 3 game wins across 9 games—well above par for what people currently expect for a Planeswalker Deck.

But I maintain that I shouldn’t have to be that lucky to get that win total. So in today’s edition of the Mana Dork, we’re going to brew our own Planeswalker Deck, following all of the restrictions Wizards sets for their official ones.

Shall we?

BREAKING IT DOWN

The Planeswalker Decks follow a well-established structure:

  • They promote the current set
  • They feature a custom version of a Planeswalker in that set, tuned for casual play
  • They include two copies of a custom rare card that tutors for that Planeswalker
  • They include three copies of a custom uncommon permanent that gets a benefit when you control that Planeswalker
  • They include four copies of a custom common card flavoured for that Planeswalker
  • They include four copies of a land that taps for both of the colours in the deck

Additionally, when we look at the decklists themselves, as well as the MSRP of the product and how it is produced and released, we can draw two more conclusions:

  • The deck should be worth about $11—the cost of a Planeswalker Deck when you take away the two booster packs it comes with.
  • Outside of the new cards specific to that Planeswalker Deck, they should have about two rares, 10-11 uncommons, and 12-15 commons, depending on how much land is in the deck.

Finally, there’s one more conclusion we can draw—based on the number of cards that have only one or two copies, we can deduce that Wizards includes incomplete playsets in the Planeswalker Decks in order to encourage new players to go out and buy booster packs to complete them.

However, I’m going to disagree with that last premise. I think that one of the purposes that Planeswalker Decks should serve is as an example of proper deckbuilding. Teaching new players what a consistent deck looks like is, I think, a better use of a pre-constructed product—as well, a more consistent deck does better against its opponents and therefore gets players more excited about the game. So for those reasons, I will ignore that restriction and include as many 4-ofs as I can in our brew.

(I should note that we are also forced to do without the custom cards each Planeswalker deck gets. In the next phase of this project, I will be competing in Standard events at A Muse N Games, which means I have to use cards that are legal in Standard—not ones I dream up for a column!)

Putting it all together, here are the rules we will follow for our deck:

  • One planeswalker
  • Four rares from the current block
  • 13-14 uncommons from the current block
  • 16-19 commons from the current block
  • Four copies of a land that taps for both of the deck’s colours
  • Grand total of $11 or less after the planeswalker.

So, which planeswalker are we going to brew around?


AKA, “THE BAANHAMMER”

Dovin Baan is my favourite character from Kaladesh—he is relentless and uncompromising, he flawlessly executes everything he sets out to do, he has the driest sense of humour in the Multiverse, and his journey as a not-quite-villain trapped in between doing the best for the people of Kaladesh and obeying Tezzeret’s orders was fascinating to follow.

However, despite how awesome he was in the stories, his planeswalker card has yet to see tournament play. Even with Blue-White Flash spending several months in 2016 as a top-tier deck, Dovin failed to make a mark.

So let’s change that, shall we? Dovin lends himself well to a control strategy, with his +1 neutering potential Crew activations and his -2 granting us card and life advantage. So our Dovin deck will be a classic blue-white control list.

Let’s start with some rares.

Baral’s Expertise is reasonably flavourful—Baral is one of Dovin’s underlings in the stories—and very powerful. Since Dovin’s +1 ability cannot hit Vehicles, we’re going to need a good sweeper for our well-wheeled opponents. Baral’s Expertise gives us something that can answer most major threats in the format (outside of other planeswalkers), and a free cast of something else in our hand. Free is good, right? We’re going to have three copies of Baral’s Expertise.

Our other rare slot will be spent on a good finisher for the deck. Several of the commons and uncommons we’ll be using give us Energy, so Aetherstorm Roc—an absolute house in Limited—will fit in nicely. Generating tons of Energy and tapping down creatures for days, Aetherstorm Roc is an ever-growing flier that will do a great job of taking out both planeswalkers and opponents with ease. And, let’s not forget—we can cast it for free off of Baral’s Expertise!

Going by TCGPlayer’s Mid price for these cards, we have spent $4.55 of our allotted $10—$4.20 for the Expertises, and 0.25 for the Roc. We’re in good shape—a good deal of value should be in the rare slot.

Onward!

Glimmer of Genius is the strongest draw spell in Kaladesh block and one of the strongest currently in Standard. Getting to scry before we draw is extremely good—we can filter away lands we don’t need, or answers that won’t answer what’s in front of us. And if one of the top two cards is something we want, we can guarantee drawing it. This card is seeing play even in non-Energy decks, so the fact that it produces Energy for us is a lovely bonus. We’ll take three copies.

Shielded Aether Thief and Aether Meltdown are both two-drop instant-speed answers to creatures and Vehicles that generate Energy, which, y’know. Sign me up, right? The Thief even gives us a good Energy outlet with its card draw. Three copies of the Meltdown and four copies of the Thief, please!

Finally, Long-Finned Skywhale has done a ton of work for me in draft and I have to feel good about including it here. Despite its blocking restriction, it can still get in the way of many of the best creatures in the format—but with all of our other answers it shouldn’t have to, and can ideally just beat down with 4 power in the air every turn.

3x Long-Finned Skywhale and Aether Meltdown and 4x Shielded Aether Thief and Glimmer of Genius puts us at 14 uncommons and another $2.96 spent—right on target.

We’ve got $3.49 left for 16-19 commons and four special lands. Can we do this?

The answer is yes. Dovin always has answers.

Specifically, these answers.

There is only one white or blue common in Kaladesh block where Dovin Baan is referenced in the flavour text—and lucky for us, it’s a great answer to the inexpensive Vehicles everywhere! Four copies of Fragmentize go in the brew, helping to reinforce the Planeswalker Deck flavour, along with four copies of Ice Over.

As I mentioned in the first part of this column series, the “Copy Cat” combo featuring Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian is also seeing tons of play (despite not performing well at Pro Tour Aether Revolt). So we’ll need some answers that hit both parts of that combo, as well as many other targets. Four copies each of Negate and Revolutionary Rebuff should do us well here.

Finally, Meandering River is the designated uncommon tapland for our colours.

4x Fragmentize, 4x Negate, 4x Ice Over, 4x Revolutionary Rebuff, and 4x Meandering River all add up to another $2.23—we’re done, with an impressive $1.26 to spare!

GET BAANED AT OUR ON-DEMAND STANDARD EVENTS AND THE GPT FAREWELL TOUR

Our list is complete—and now, it’s time to take it to the shop!

The Standard Spring 9 Week Challenge continues until April 16th. A Muse N Games will be running Standard tournaments every Tuesday at 7 PM, as well as additional tournaments Sunday March 12th at 2 PM and Saturday, April 15th at 2 PM. Compete in enough Standard events and you can earn alt-art battlelands!

On top of that, we’ve got On-Demand Standard happening—make sure you’re at the store with three other folks who want to play Standard, and we’ll fire up a sanctioned event with prizing for a $6 entry fee!

Registration is now open for the Amonkhet pre-release—sign up now for $35 Early Bird registration!

And finally—just announced—A Muse N Games is hosting the 2017 GPT Farewell Tour! Before Grand Prix Trials close down for good, you’ll be able to attend no less than ten Trials for the Grands Prix in Vegas and Montréal later this year. First place in a GPT at AMNG wins an exclusive playmat!

See you at the store!

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games, and is going to have way too much fun searching through AMNG’s bulk boxes to build this deck. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column on all things Magic!

Grand Prix Trials Farewell Tour 2017

by June 3, 2017

grand prix trials
Earlier this year, Wizards of the Coast announced that in store Grand Prix Trial events would be ending after Grand Prix Las Vegas. A Muse N Games will be the only store in Manitoba hosting Grand Prix Trials for both Grand Prix Montreal (May 19-21) and Grand Prix Las Vegas (June 14-18). To help send the Grand Prix Trials into retirement, we are happy to announce the Farewell Tour 2017!

Magic the Gathering Grand Prix Trials Farewell Tour will be hosted by A Muse N Games consisting of 10 tournaments between March 25 and June 2. We will be running GPT Events for Standard, Legacy, Modern, and Limited.

 

Date Time Event Type Entry Fee (taxes included) Add this event to your Calendar
Sat, March 25 Registration: 11:00 am
First Round: 12:00 pm
GPT Vegas Legacy $20 Facebook

Google

Sun, March 26 Registration: 11:00 am
Deckbuilding: 12:00 pm
GPT Vegas Limited Featuring Modern Masters 2017 $95 Facebook

Google

Mon, March 27 Registration: 6:00 pm
First Round: 7:00 pm
GPT Vegas Modern $20 Facebook

Google

Sun, April 9 Registration: 11:00 am
First Round: 12:00 pm
GPT Vegas Modern $20 Facebook

Google

Sun, April 16 Registration: 11:00 am
First Round: 12:00 pm
GPT Vegas Legacy $20 Facebook

Google

Sun, April 30 Registration: 11:00 am
First Round: 12:00 pm
GPT Montreal Standard $20 Facebook

Google

Sun, May 7 Registration: 11:00 am
First Round: 12:00 pm
GPT Vegas Legacy $20 Facebook

Google

Fri, May 26 Registration: 6:00 pm
Deckbuilding: 6:30 pm
GPT Vegas Limited Featuring Amonkhet $50 Facebook

Google

Sun, May 28 Registration: 11:00 am
First Round: 12:00 pm
GPT Vegas Modern $20 Facebook

Google

Fri, June 2 Registration: 6:00 pm
Deckbuilding: 6:30 pm
GPT Vegas Limited Featuring Amonkhet $50 Facebook

Google

GPT Farewell Tour Playmat

Winners of each Grand Prix Trials event will receive the GPT Farewell Tour 2017 Playmat! There will also be some playmats that will be given away so everyone has a chance to get one!

grand prix trials

Event Details

Standard – Entry Fee $20

Three packs of Amonkhet per player will be entered into the prize pool.
Prizing will be distributed after swiss rounds, before the cut.
First place will also receive a GPT Farewell Tour 2017 playmat.

Legacy and Modern – Entry Fee $20

One pack of Modern Masters 2017 per player will be entered into the prize pool. Players may opt to substitute and receive Eternal Masters or three packs of Aether Revolt instead.
Prizing will be distributed after swiss rounds, before the cut.
First place will also receive a GPT Farewell Tour 2017 playmat.

Sealed Modern Masters 2017 – Entry Fee $95

Each player will receive six packs to build their decks. Two packs of Modern Masters 2017 per player will be entered into the prize pool.
Prizing will be distributed after swiss rounds, before the cut.
First place will also receive a GPT Farewell Tour 2017 playmat.

Sealed Amonkhet – Entry Fee $50

Each player will receive six packs to build their decks. Two packs of Amonkhet per player will be entered into the prize pool. If there are 16 or more entrants, top 8 will additionally booster draft Amonkhet.
Prizing will be distributed after swiss rounds, before the cut.
First place will also receive a GPT Farewell Tour 2017 playmat.

FAQ:
Q: Can I register in advance for a tournament?
A: Yes, players can register in store at their convenience.

Q: If I win an event, do I have to use my byes with the GP of the corresponding type?
A: WotC has informed us “Winners of your Grand Prix Trials may apply their byes to any (or all) of the three Grand Prix.”

Q: The event says that it starts at noon, but registration starts at 11am, when should I show up?
A: The first round of the event will start promptly at noon. The store opens at 11am. We encourage players to arrive no later then 11:45.

 

Amonkhet Prerelease Weekend April 22-23, 2017

by April 26, 2017

AMNG Amonkhet Prerelease info

For the next Magic: the Gathering set Amonkhet  A Muse N Games is hosting 4 prereleases! Midnight, Noon, and 5pm on Saturday April 22. Then 6pm on Sunday April 23.

Amonket prereleases will start promptly with deck construction at the listed start times. Early Bird registration $35 taxes in if you register before 10:00 pm Wednesday, April 19. Regular registration is $40 taxes in.

Each participating player will receive a special prerelease pack containing 6-packs of Amonkhet, a spindown life counter, and promotional foil card! Two Amonkhet booster packs per player will be placed into the prize pool. Any player who plays through all four rounds of swiss receives an Amonkhet booster pack from the prize pool. There will also be flights of open dueling during each prerelease.

We also will be giving away four special Amonkhet playmats at each prerelease! Those who finish first and second will receive a mat, a third will be given away in a random draw, and a fourth will be given away to a participant of open dueling by random draw. A championship plaque will also be given to the winner of the Midnight and the Sunday 6:00 pm prereleases.

Register in store or online through Eventbrite

Time Facebook Link Online Registration
Powered by Eventbrite
Midnight Facebook Register Now
Noon Facebook Register Now
5:00 PM Facebook Register Now
6:00 PM Sunday Facebook Register Now

 

THE MANA DORK—The Planeswalker Deck Challenge, Part 2

by March 23, 2017

THE MANA DORK—The Planeswalker Deck Challenge, Part 2

Well, I did better than I expected, but still not good enough.

In the last installment of the Mana Dork, I said I would be taking the “Planeswalker Deck Challenge” — competing in Aether Revolt Game Day with only an Aether Revolt Planeswalker Deck and the contents of the two booster packs that came with it.

I’m doing this because, as much as I love Magic and I love the idea of Planeswalker Decks, I think Wizards of the Coast can do a much better job of setting new players up to succeed with these introductory products.

In preparation for Game Day, I picked up both the Tezzeret and Ajani Planeswalker Decks and did some preliminary testing with both. I felt it was important to give myself the best chance to succeed, in order to give the Planeswalker Decks the fairest possible showing.

In testing, the Tezzeret deck seemed inconsistent. Some games, I’d spam out a bunch of cheap artifacts, get out the Efficient Construction I found in one of the packs, and win off of a Tezzeret activation or thopter beatdowns. Other times, I’d spam out a bunch of cheap artifacts, get out an Improvise finisher like Wind-Kin Raiders, and watch it eat a removal spell before I died.

When I opened the booster packs from the Ajani deck, this happened:

Alright, RNG gods, I’m listening. Ajani it is.

The Ajani deck played better, too. It wasn’t as flashy as Tezzeret’s, but the simple aggro strategy of getting out good small creatures and pumping them up was much more consistent than casting Implements and praying with my shiny metal claws.

If you’re curious, here is my final decklist. With six or seven pick-ups from the booster packs—including the second Ajani, a Greenwheel Liberator, and a Daredevil Dragster—I aimed for a more consistent set of creatures, and greater ease in triggering Revolt when I needed it.

So, how’d I do?

ROUND 1: GRIXIS TOWER CONTROL

(Quick side note: “Grixis” refers to the colour combination of Blue, Black, and Red, and is named after one of the Shards of Alara. If you’re unfamiliar with some of the slang terms for colour combinations, here and here are excellent resources!)

In this match-up, I found out that Torrential Gearhulks are a thing. Also, why they are a thing. Also, holy Bolas they hurt a lot!

My opponent was on a control gameplan, so they were happy and content to take damage from my small, efficient creatures while they built up Energy counters and sculpted the perfect hand. I often saw them Disallow an Armorcraft Judge or Prey Upon, then flash in a Torrential Gearhulk to counter an Ajani’s Aid with a Disallow from the graveyard… and, at least once, Ajani himself. (Sadface!)

In the end, even though their Gearhulks couldn’t block my Audacious Infiltrators, I lost both games, and couldn’t get them below 10 life in either one.

Round Record: 0-1. Games Record: 0-2. (I’m an Ornithopter!)

ROUND 2: GREEN-BLACK SNAKEWALKERS

(Quicker side note: I am aware that GB Constrictor is an established top-tier deck, but this did not look like that deck. Also, how can I pass up a chance to call something “SNAKEWALKERS”? C’mon.)

This match-up was a lesson in value — getting more than one card’s worth of value out of a single card.

This was a common boardstate in the two games we played. I’d have a couple of small, efficient creatures, and they’d have a Winding Constrictor and a whole mess of Planeswalkers and tokens. 

Planeswalkers give you excellent value when they can stick around. Many produce tokens and other small blockers, and when I’m facing them down, I have to choose between attacking my opponent—which brings me closer to winning—and attacking their Planeswalkers, which brings me closer to a neutral boardstate, but not much closer to winning.

While Winding Constrictor doesn’t interact directly with Planeswalkers, it did work nicely with all the tokens my opponent’s Nissas were putting out, as well as the Energy counters that were feeding their Longtusk Cubs and Glint-Sleeve Siphoners.

In the end, even though I was able to get an Ajani out, I again lost both games.

Round Record: 0-2. Games Record: 0-4. (I’m a Jeering Homunculus!)

ROUND THREE: BLUE-BLACK SECRET HEDRONS

Hedron Alignment decks got a huge boost in Aether Revolt with the printing of Secret Salvage. Does this mean my opponent has a shot at winning with one of Standard’s unlikeliest methods?

But wait! I got both Ajanis in my opening hand! Double Ajani, what could it mean?

Oh, no! A wild Sphinx of Magosi has appeared! I didn’t even know that was legal in Standard! (It is, thanks to the Welcome Decks!) Does a huge flying creature mean my sweet, sweet Ajanis are doomed?

Yes, yes it does. Along with my boardstate.

I ended up winning game two when they failed to find a finisher, but my opponent was successfully able to beat me down with the Sphinx in game one, and took game three with a Hedron Alignment win.

Round Record: 0-3. Games Record: 1-6. (I’m a Fortress Crab!)

ROUND FOUR: MONO-BLUE AETHERFLUX ENGINE

Paradox Engine has been the subject of much debate in EDH communities online. A 5 CMC artifact that goes in almost any deck — capable of untapping mana dorks and rocks for more spells, or creatures to block after an alpha strike — is quite powerful, and seems destined for the banlist.

But in Standard, it’s somewhat less powerful. There are fewer good mana rocks and dorks for it to interact with, and if you’re piloting a top-tier deck, you’re likely running Planeswalkers, which means even fewer things that tap.

My opponent’s strategy here was similar to that of the Tezzeret deck I mentioned above, but with better cards — power out a bunch of cheap artifacts, cast a Paradox Engine, then power out more cheap artifacts and card draw off the Engine’s untaps until they can land an Aetherflux Reservoir and win with a gargantuan 50-life laser kill.

Unfortunately, their plan never quite fired, and their reliance on non-creature artifacts meant there was nothing to block my small, efficient beaters. I took both games 2-0 for an unexpected round win.

Round Record: 2-0. Games Record: 3-6. (I’m a Maze Sentinel!)

CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS

I will be honest: I wasn’t expecting to even win a round, especially after the first three. I cannot imagine how I would have felt as a much younger or newer player, going into the fourth round with that record.

And while we’re being honest—that I was able to take a round against a homebrew deck with a complex win condition speaks well for the Planeswalker Decks as they’re constructed currently. It shows that Wizards is on the right track.

However, I still think an ideal Planeswalker Deck would have allowed me to win another odd game or two in the previous rounds, as well as a round win. In the next edition of the Mana Dork, I plan on proving that point by building my own “Planeswalker Deck” and competing in an A Muse N Games Standard event.

Alt Art Battle Lands from BFZ

THAT WAS A BEAUTIFUL SEGUE INTO THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH

Speaking of which, if you’re interested in playing or trying out Magic’s Standard format, have we got the promotion for you!

A Muse N Games is now running the Standard Spring 9-Week Challenge. Wizards has challenged the store to hold 15 Standard tournaments before April 17th, and there’s some very, very nice promos for people who come out and participate!

On top of the regular Standard events Tuesdays at 7 PM, AMNG will be holding bonus tournaments on March 5th, March 12th, and April 15th. As well, we’re hosting On-Demand Standard—whenever there’s four people in the store and they want to play Standard, AMNG will sanction the event for a $6 entry fee and offer prizing!

For more details, check out the official post here.

See you in the store!

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games, and considers himself more of a Disruptive Student than a Maze Sentinel. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column on all things Magic!