Monthly Archives: April 2017

Amonkhet League

by May 10, 2017

League starts May 7 at 2pm with the finale on May 28!

To enter the league, a player gets 3 packs of Amonkhet for $20.

  • 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)
  • After every 3 losses, or once each week, players can add an additional pack of Amonkhet to their card pool for $6 (taxes included)
  • 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!
  • Prizing will include various promos, foils, and other goodies, depending on total players involved in the league

THE MANA DORK – The Second Sun Approaches!

by May 11, 2017

Amonkhet Prerelease –  The Second Sun Approaches!

amonkhet-prerelease-mana-dork

Hail Nicol Bolas, the God-Pharoah! May his return come early, and may we be found worthy!

amonkhet-prerelease-approach-of-the-second-sun

The store’s Amonkhet prerelease is only hours away, and Magic’s newest set has a ton of fun toys for Limited and Constructed play. Cycling looks like it will be making some noise with the new cycling dual lands and a number of fun payoffs like Drake Haven and Archfiend of Ifnir. The new exert and embalm mechanics are going to make for some very interesting choices during games, the Aftermath cards will have players agog (atog?), and the prevalence of -1/-1 counters will have implications for removal spells and build-arounds in every colour.

Here’s everything you need to know to do probably-better-than-last-time-maybe-or-at-least-walk-in-with-more-confidence-because-confidence-is-good-right-yes-excellent-good-show!

amonkhet-prerelease-aven-wind-guide

EMBALMS AWAY

Embalm is pretty straightforward: it’s like Flashback, but for creatures. Once the Embalm creature is in your yard, you can pay the Embalm cost and exile the creature to create a token that’s an exact copy of it, except it’s also White and a Zombie. (Which raises the question: most Zombies are Human, but Humans are also Human. Does that mean an Embalmed Anointer Priest is a White Zombie that’s more Human than Human? These are the things I think about.)

 First things first: yes, the Embalmed token itself also has Embalm, but it doesn’t matter, because tokens can’t exist in the graveyard. (Or in your hand, library, or exile.) Whenever a token would change zones — by dying and going to the graveyard, for example — it vanishes from existence as a state-based action, before players receive priority. Which is a fancy way of saying that before you could activate the token’s Embalm ability, the game has already ushered it along into the next life.

That being said, Embalm is still powerful and something you should think about when building your deck for the Amonkhet prerelease. You’re getting two creatures off of one card, on a bit of a layaway plan. Don’t count them as two creatures when you’re building with them, of course, but do remember that you’ll be able to clog up the board state a little longer, and that you’ll be facing down extra blockers and board stalls some percentage of the time. I’d definitely consider looking at exile spells like Cast Out and Final Reward for the creatures, and bounce spells like Winds of Rebuke to deal with the tokens. (Remember what I said about how tokens can’t exist in players’ hands? Turns out, if you bounce a token… )

amonkhet-prerelease-ahn-crop-champion

I HAVE BEEN EXERTING MY BRAIN BUT CANNOT COME UP WITH AN EXERT PUN

Once more unto the breach, my friends, once more, or close up the Hekma with our Naktamun dead! Exert lets a creature give 110% when it swings to convey some additional benefit, at the cost of not untapping the following turn.

A reminder for using Exert — you must declare whether or not you’re Exerting a creature BEFORE blockers are declared. The option to Exert a creature triggers as the creature’s being declared as an attacker, so you have to decide before your opponent declares blockers.

This means you must Exert your creatures carefully if you want to successfully use them during the Amonkhet prerelease. There’s no use Exerting every time and skipping every second combat — AND giving your opponent a combat step where he knows you can’t block! I’d be careful to Exert only when you need it for your creature to get through or when you specifically need the creature’s Exert bonus. If you can read your opponent and anticipate what the boardstate will be in a turn or two and whether or not it’s safe, go ahead!

amonkhet-prerelease-heaven-earth

IN THE AFTERMATH

Aftermath is pretty straightforward: it’s like Flashback, but for spells.

Wait, what? Don’t those already have Flashback?

Actually, Aftermath is a new take on split cards like Fire // Ice and Ready // Willing. Cards with Aftermath also function as two separate spells, but one of them can only be cast from the graveyard. Then, just like with Flashback and Embalm, the card gets exiled.

 Once again, we’re getting the value of two cards for the cost of one, on a bit of a layaway plan. This time, though, we’ll have to be more careful — many of the Aftermath spells have heavier mana costs than normal, and none of them have cycling, so they’re not going into your graveyard for free. I would look at the “normal” side of an Aftermath card when building your Amonkhet prerelease deck and judge whether or not I actually want it in my deck before including it.

 (Also, a side note for the more invested among us, and by “invested” I mean “people who like Isochron Scepter“: as of Amonkhet’s release, all split cards are treated as though their CMC is the combined CMC of both halves when in any zone other than the stack. This makes them much more difficult to use with Scepter and similar effects, but much easier to actually remember how they work without six minutes of Googling and a judge call. Overall, I’m a fan.)

amonkhet-prerelease-scarab-feast

I LIKE TO RIDE MY CYCLING CARDS, CYCLING CARDS, CYCLING CARDS

An old friend slides back into Magic with Cycling’s appearance in Amonkhet!

Cycling is sometimes challenging to evaluate. Cycling cards are usually a little overcosted, but the benefit is that they’re not dead in your hand or deck — if you’re in a situation where you’re holding a Cycling card that does nothing for you, you can cash it in to draw a card instead, and have another chance at drawing that premium removal spell much-needed land drop. In general, you can safely include narrower effects and more toolbox-y cards in your deck when they have Cycling, because they don’t take up an entire card slot.

With Cycling, I’d be careful to manage the number of cycling cards versus the number of cycling-payoff cards in your deck. I’ll be looking for at least 8-9 cycling cards before I include my first Drake Haven or Horror of the Broken Lands.

amonkhet-prerelease-bounty-of-the-luxa

GENERAL NOTES

As always, drink water, eat healthy, get some rest, and don’t be afraid to call a Judge if you need to, they’re there to help everyone at the Amonkhet prerelease.

Also, remember BREAD — bombs, removal, evasive creatures, aggressive creatures, then duds. Live by the bread, die by the bread. Be the bread.

(… if you’re wondering why none of those phrases used “bread” originally, I recommend breadening your horizons. Eh? … Eh?)

amonkhet-prerelease-combat-celebrant

THE PLANESWALKER DECK CHALLENGE CONCLUDES IN OUR NEXT COLUMN — WHILE YOU’RE WAITING, COME HANG OUT AT THE STORE 

I have finally plunged the Dovin Baan Planeswalker Deck we’ve forged over the course of Aether Revolt (1, 2, 3) into the crucible of Standard combat at A Muse N Games, even as the fires of the Revolt began to smolder. Soon, my friends, I shall tell you tales of towers, rats, and energy. Soon.

In the interim, A Muse N Games is hosting Amonkhet prereleases events all weekend! Swing by at midnight, noon, 5 PM, and 6 PM Sunday for sweet, sweet Amonkhet Prerelease Sealed action — and a chance at sweet, sweet prizes!

On top of that, the GPT Farewell Tour continues with GPT Montreal Standard on Sunday April 30 and GPT Vegas Legacy on Sunday May 7, both at noon (11 AM registration)!

Finally, it is time for the human boardgames to be celebrated! International Tabletop Day is Saturday April 29, and A Muse N Games has a bunch of fun things planned and prizes waiting! Bring a game, bring a friend, bring both, bring neither, just come on down!

See you at the store!

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. He has spent the last week staring at As Foretold and dreaming of free counterspells on his opponents’ turns. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column on all things Magic!

Netrunner Regional Championships

by July 5, 2017

Netrunner Regional Championships Winnipeg

Netrunner Regional Championships are your chance to join a community that spans beyond Winnipeg. Regional Championships are exclusive events and offer a precious first-round bye at the National Championship. Win a Regional Championship and prove to everyone that you should be taken seriously!

Date: June 10, 2017
Registration: 11:00 am
Matches Start: 12:00 pm
Entry Fee: $25 (taxes included)

Regional Championship Kit

Top Sixty-Four: Each player receives one alternate art card.
Top Sixteen: Each player receives one set of acrylic tokens.
Top Eight: Each player receives one playmat.
Top Four: Each player receives one double-sided, spot-glossed plastic card.
Champions: Regional Champion Trophy (see below). First place finisher also receives a first round bye at any one National Championship tournament and grants a reserved seat at the World Championship in November.

Netrunner regiional championships trophy

Pre-register before May 31st and receive a Mushin-No-Shin alt-art card (while supplies last) and be entered in a draw for a Same Old Thing alt-art card.

Pre-register in-store or online below.

A Game of Thrones Regional Championships

by July 5, 2017

A Game of Thrones Regional Championships Winnipeg

A Game of Thrones Regional Championships are your chance to join a community that spans beyond Winnipeg. Regional Championships are exclusive events and offer a precious first-round bye at the National Championship. Win a Regional Championship and prove to everyone that you should be taken seriously!

Date: June 24, 2017
Registration: 11:00 am
Matches Start: 12:00 pm
Entry Fee: $25 (taxes included)

Regional Championship Kit

Top Sixty-Four: Each player receives on alternate art card.
Top Sixteen: Each player receives one set of acrylic tokens.
Top Eight: Each player receives one playmat.
Top Four: Each player receives one wooden house card.
Champion: Regional Championship Trophy and first place finishers receives a first-round bye at any one National Championship tournament and grants a reserved seat at the World Championship in November!

Preregister before May 31st and receive a Varus alt-art card (while supplies last) and be entered into a draw for The Winds of Winter alt-art card.

Pre-register in store or online at below.

Magic Open House April

by April 12, 2017

Magic Open House

Magic Open House is an all day event with many events throughout the day to celebrate Magic the Gathering at A Muse N Games. We will be hosting our usual Saturday draft at noon, mini masters tournament throughout the day, and a 2 pm standard tournament.

There will be participation prizes from Wizards of the Coast as well as draws and prizing for the tournaments. Bring a friend who has never played Magic before and you will receive a premium full-art basic land from Amonkhet and your friend will receive a free welcome deck (while supplies last).

THE MANA DORK Commander Banlist – Prime Time and Garbage Time

by April 8, 2017

Commander Banlist The Mana Dork

Commander Banlist – Prime Time and Garbage Time

HOW TO AVOID TWO COMMON LOGICAL TRAPS WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE COMMANDER BANLIST

Man, I’m like the worst clickbait artist ever. How am I supposed to lure you in to read a whole list if there’s only two things on the list?

Anyway.

Commander Banlist Feroz's Ban

As I mentioned in my last column, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking about the Commander banlist. And I keep running into the same two logical traps in almost every Reddit thread and pleasant moment of spoiler-season small talk.

So while I’m testing our Dovin Baan Planeswalker Deck for the Planeswalker Deck Challenge, I figure I might as well do myself a favour and talk about how to avoid these fallacies. If nothing else, it’ll help all of you guys have better banlist discussions with your friends.

Shall we?

Commander Banlist Prophet of Kruphix

LOGICAL TRAP #1: “This card has so many answers! It shouldn’t be banned!”

Prophet of Kruphix is the most recent addition to the commander banlist and the card where I see this argument come up the most often, so let’s begin with it.

Yes, Prophet of Kruphix can be answered by many things, including kill spells, bounce spells, exile spells, counterspells, Speak & Spells, the musical Godspell, and Roadhog hooking her to point 2 on Ilios. The problem from an argumentative perspective is that this is also true of literally every other card in the game—including cards that are rightly banned.

Griselbrand has answers. Black Lotus has answers. Yawgmoth’s Bargain has answers. Even original Emrakul has answers—I once played in a game where someone didn’t know Emrakul was on the commander banlist, and we let them cast her for politeness’ sake. I immediately bribed her with Gwafa Hazid on my next upkeep, and the toughest creature in Legacy sat there admiring her shiny gold coin until a boardwipe came along.

When an argument is just as true of something you do not wish to prove as something you do, it ceases to be effective. This is the case when it comes to relying on answers for why a card should or shouldn’t be banned.

There are two more flaws with relying on the presence of answers as a premise for your argument.

One, remember that answers are never guaranteed to be available—someone has to have the right answer at the right time with mana to cast it. Your pod might have That Guy playing Counterspell Tribal with Talrand or Baral, but there’s always a chance they’re holding lands instead of their 19th or 20th piece of countermagic. Therefore, suggesting that the presence of answers proves a given card should be unbanned is flawed, because the answers are not always present.

And two, if your base assumption for a card is that it gets answered, why are you discussing it at all? Logically, we must assume the card goes unanswered, in order to assess its effects on the game and whether it is bannable in the first place.

So when you’re arguing for a card to be unbanned, please remember not to say, “It has so many answers, it’s fine!” That premise is flawed.

Commander Banlist Mana Crypt

LOGICAL TRAP #2: “This card is so mechanically strong! It shouldn’t be legal!”

If you’ve ever wondered why some broken cards are legal, while much weaker cards are banned, I’m about to tell you why.

Mechanical strength is the typical measuring stick for what should be banned in most other Magic formats. So it makes sense for the Rules Committee to apply that same measuring stick to Commander, right?

No, it does not.

First, we must remember that balanced competition is not the Rules Committee’s goal. They intend for Commander to be “a refuge from competitive formats”, and to create a place where “strong cards are not a problem”. I find many faults in how they conduct themselves, but I cannot find fault in that.

Second, evidence shows that the Rules Committee almost never bans a card based on mechanical strength alone—and the current explosive growth of Commander at least partially proves that they are correct to do so. For more proof of this, we look to Tiny Leaders—as enchanting as it is, the format has largely faded away, partially as a result of insufficient work and testing on its banlist. Therefore, if a format is successful, its banlist must play a role in that success.

So we must conclude that relying on mechanical strength to prove or disprove our points is another logical trap, another flawed premise, and we must find arguments that more closely match the reality of Commander if we wish to discuss the banlist effectively.

What are those arguments?

I’ve noticed that once you get past the dexterity cards, ante cards, and “cards that interact poorly with the format” like Coalition Victory, the Rules Committee generally bans cards that create multiple turn cycles where the game is over, but it hasn’t ended yet.

Commander Banlist Primeval Titan

To borrow a term from football, the RC bans cards that create garbage time. They allow strong cards that can end the game quickly, but ban cards that put one or more players too far ahead without actually ending the game.

And, again, I don’t think they’re wrong in this instance. Commander is a format with four players that is not explicitly competitive. It makes no sense to waste the time of one or more players by forcing them to spend too much time in a game they have a negligible chance of winning.

So Ad Nauseam and Tooth and Nail remain legal, while some ostensibly weaker cards like Prophet of Kruphix, Braids, and Primordial Titan are banned—because Ad Nauseam and Tooth and Nail at least win quickly, while Prime Time, Prophet, and Braids create garbage time.

Commander Banlist Ad Nauseam

THE AD NAUSEAM QUESTION—PUTTING “GARBAGE TIME” TO THE TEST

It’s time to apply the idea of “garbage time” to specific cards.

Let’s look at Ad Nauseam. It is a prominent win condition, or setup for a win condition, in almost every deck that includes Black. If you combine it with a card that can prevent life loss or game loss, such as Angel’s Grace, you can draw your deck for a paltry amount of mana. The card is ridiculous in its strength, and a common bugbear for commander banlist discussions.

It even meets the criteria of not ending a game on its own—or does it?

What happens when Ad Nauseam resolves? Either the Ad Nauseam player wins, or loses, and generally very quickly. Put another way, either the game ends, or the remaining players continue at relative parity. In no situation does the game continue for multiple turn cycles with one or more players alive, but out of contention. There’s no garbage time after an Ad Nauseam.

Compare with Prophet of Kruphix or Primordial Titan. Assuming as our premise that Prophet/Titan resolves and goes unanswered for multiple turn cycles (as we discussed in Logical Trap #1 above), the Prophet/Titan player has vastly, vastly improved their ability to generate and convert resources, putting other players out of contention. But the game has not ended. We’re in garbage time.

Compare also with Upheaval and Worldfire—two inclusions on the commander banlist that are less contentious. Both cards are boardwipes that allow their caster to float mana, wipe the table, then re-cast their commander or any number of cards from their hand. Again, one player is ahead and multiple players are out of contention in a game that hasn’t ended. Again, we’re in garbage time.

I argue that Prophet, Titan, Upheaval, and Worldfire are all bannable because they create garbage time, while Ad Nauseam and Tooth and Nail remain legal because they do not.

You may ask, “If some players are out of contention, why don’t they just concede?” To which I respond: if people are regularly conceding when they see a card that doesn’t even win the game, should that card not be banned?

Commander Banlist Teferis Reponse

IN CLOSING…

Let’s not argue that a card should be banned or unbanned because of the presence of answers.

Let’s not argue that a card should be banned or unbanned because of its mechanical strength.

Let’s instead argue that cards should be banned or unbanned based on how much garbage time they create.

Thank you.

Commander Banlist Aether Thief

IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME AND WISH TO ENGAGE IN FURTHER DISCUSSION, I WILL BE ATTENDING THE FOLLOWING EVENTS AT THE STORE

There’s so much going on!

In the world of Magic, we’ve got the Standard 9-Week Challenge, the GPT Farewell Tour, and Amonkhet Pre-Releases all coming up. I’ll be there for Standard next Tuesday the 11th to put the Dovin Baan Planeswalker Deck through its paces!

Also, International Tabletop Day is Saturday, April 29th—come on down to the store for special promos and special events all day!

See you at the store!

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. He’s going to leave what ELSE he would ban as a mystery for now. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column about all things Magic!