Tapping Cardboard

The Jank Forge: Oops, All Blightsteel Colossus

by August 10, 2017

blightsteel colossus tapping cardboard

At a recent Legacy tournament, I got to watch Manaless Dredge in action and I realized how much I love that deck. My one problem with that deck is that it is kind of expensive to build and Legacy events are few and far between (although they are great when they happen and A Muse N Games has one coming up on September 17th). So, I started to think about making a similar deck work in Modern but Dredge is expensive in Modern too. Then, I realized that Shape Anew is a dumb card that works well with Blightsteel Colossus and decided to build a deck around that instead!

blightsteel colossus shape anew blightsteel colossus

Lands:
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Flooded Strand
8 Plains
5 Island

Creatures:
4 Augur of Bolas
4 Blade Splicer
1 Blightsteel Colossus
4 Thraben Inspector
3 Wall of Omens

Noncreatures:
4 Apostle’s Blessing
4 Vapor Snag
4 Shape Anew
4 Serum Visions
4 Path to Exile

The main combo of this deck is pretty straightforward: get an artifact token with either Blade Splicer or Thraben Inspector, cast Shape Anew to bring out Blightsteel Colossus, then punch in for 11 poison.

darksteel colossus blade splicer darksteel colossus thraben inspector

The rest of the deck either digs for the combo pieces (Augur of Bolas, Wall of Omens, Serum Visions) or keeps you alive long enough to get the combo off (Vapor Snag, Path to Exile). Apostle’s Blessing exists as a playset in order to protect your artifacts and Colossus until you can swing in for the kill.

bladesteel colossus augur of bolas bladesteel colossus wall of omens bladesteel colossus serum visions

To win with this deck, you need to survive until turns 5 or 6 and keep your opponent’s board as weak as possible. To start, your opening hand is going to want to have as many digging cards as possible and three to four lands. You want to start digging as soon as possible in order to prevent yourself from accidentally drawing your Colossus and ending your combo before it even starts.

bladesteel colossus vapor snag blightsteel colossus path to exile

Use Vapor Snag or Path to Exile on pretty much whatever creature might become a problem down the road since this deck cannot afford to risk something putting too much pressure on you. Unless you’re absolutely sure that your opponent has no removal in their hand (or at least nothing that your opponent can use on your artifacts or Blightsteel Colossus), hold off on trying to cast Shape Anew until you have an Apostle’s Blessing to avoid the chance of a misfire. A couple things to remember about the combo is that Shape Anew doesn’t make the artifact’s controller sacrifice it until the spell starts to resolve, so a counterspell thrown at it will not throw you off your game entirely and Apostle’s Blessing can protect your artifacts in a pinch.

This deck is built inside of a control-lite shell and the reason we can’t really go much deeper into the control side in the main deck is because we can’t really afford to sacrifice anything in order to make the combo work, however there are some changes that can be made depending on the meta. If there’s a lack of decks with a lot of removal, the Apostle’s Blessings can be swapped out for Delver of Secrets or Detention Spheres. If there’s a need to swing the turn you drop the Colossus, putting in a couple Slayers’ Strongholds and Sacred Foundries would allow you to get in your opponent’s face before they have a chance to react (even if you have to wait a couple extra turns). Finally, if Burn is your big issue, Lone Missionary is going to give you that much-needed life-gain to survive until turn 5 or 6.

As for a sideboard, this is going to be majorly meta-dependant (as all sideboards are). Dispel is a great option against control decks that want to bounce/exile your Blightsteel Colossus at instant-speed. Stony Silence is good against the Robots match-up that doesn’t hurt you very much. I like a copy or two of Steel Sabotage in the sideboard as well, since it can bounce Grafdigger’s Cage (which will stop you dead) and other annoying artifacts while also being an option to save your Blightsteel Colossus in a dire situation. Annul and Erase are good choices for Bogles and control match-ups that use a lot of enchantments. Snapcaster Mage is a way to get some recursion on your spells (even if it’s a smidge on the pricier side). There are a few other options to consider but it does depend heavily on what you see at your local tournaments and stores, so experiment and discover what works for you.

Jay Edwards is an advocate for janky magic combos, and exploring fun and casual Magic ideas. When he’s not contributing columns to A Muse N Games.ca, he keeps himself busy as a Magic Judge. His new column, Tapping Cardboard, will appear here twice monthly so be sure to check it out!

Jank Forge: Boros Minimum Security

by July 28, 2017

The Jank Forge: Boros Minimum Security

Boros Minimum Security tapping cardboard jank forge

Welcome to the Jank Forge, a place where budget, odd, and undiscovered decks are made! Today, we’re going to have a look at a Modern deck that just recently got a new card as well as a severe price reduction in one of its key cards: Boros Minimum Security.

Non-creatures:
2x Chained to the Rock
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Path to Exile
4x Mana Tithe

Creatures:
2x Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2x Thalia, Heretic Cathar
4x Eidolon of Rhetoric
4x Leonin Arbiter
4x Ash Zealot
4x Harsh Mentor
4x Aven Mindcensor

Lands:
4x Sacred Foundry
2x Wooded Foothills
2x Windswept Heath
7x Mountain
7x Plains

The point of Boros Minimum Security is to slow down your opponent down and beat them down with your creatures. Now, with this mindset, there are a couple different uses for some of these cards that you might miss out on if you treat this like a traditional prison deck. It’s much more proactive than regular prison decks, so it’s more like a like a minimum security prison.

Boros Minimum Security thalia guardian thraben Boros Minimum Security thalia heretic cathar Boros Minimum Security ash zealot

The first change you’ll notice is that your creatures want to turn sideways every chance they can. Unlike other prison decks, this deck is meant to be very aggressive in its ground game. Cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Thalia, Heretic Cathar, Ash Zealot, and Aven Mindcensor are really great at combat and they can start hitting pretty hard if left unchecked. Eidolon of Rhetoric is also pretty great during the late game because it dodges a fair bit of removal like Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push (50% of the time) and Anger of the GodsSweltering Suns.

boros minimum security mana tithe

The other change you’ll notice is the rather slim pickings for non-creature spells on tap for this list. These spells are meant primarily for dealing with the creatures that aren’t dying in combat. Chained to the Rock may seem like an odd choice but it’s pretty great early game since you can tap out for a two-drop then get rid of your opponent’s two-or-three-drop on your turn. It is also an awesome top-deck later on since it won’t give your opponent a land which would help thin out their deck. Finally, Mana Tithe is an amazing trick that will throw your opponent off their game because they won’t be expecting it.

Now, let’s talk sideboard. As with any deck, the final sideboard is going to be highly dependent on what is present in your metagame, but I can provide some decent suggestions. For the token match-ups, you’ll probably want to swap the Chained to the Rocks with either Anger of the Gods or Sweltering Suns (I personally prefer the latter). Burn matches will probably make you want to make a similar choice, but swapping for Boros Reckoners instead. Dryad Militants can come in against Storm decks to back up your Eidolons and Zealots. Grafdigger’s Cage is a must against the dreaded Dredge match-ups, as can Watchers of the Dead if you want more creatures. Finally, Affinity already hates Mentors, but you can back that up with either By Force or Abrade (which doesn’t get as much love as it should).

Jay Edwards is an advocate for janky magic combos, and exploring fun and casual Magic ideas. When he’s not contributing columns to A Muse N Games.ca, he keeps himself busy as a Magic Judge. His new column, Tapping Cardboard, will appear here twice monthly so be sure to check it out!

Judgement Day: Kamigawa Block

by July 15, 2017

kamigawa block tapping cardboard

Judgement Day – Kamigawa Block

Welcome to Judgement Day; a series of articles that looks at popular opinions within the Magic community and finds out if they are rooted in fact or simply mass hysteria. Today, we’re going to look at a fairly easy target: was Kamigawa block as terrible as everyone thinks it was?

kamigawa block champions kamigawa block betrayers kamigawa block saviors

For those who weren’t around then, Kamigawa block was a block set on the Japanese-inspired plane of the same name. Story-wise, it focused on the heroics of a band of characters trying to stop the end of the world at the hands of an angry spirit dragon who was trying to get his baby back from an old man’s mirror (it makes more sense if explained in more detail but that’s not what we’re here for).

With themes of Spirits, Arcane spells, and tons of legendary creatures, Kamigawa came in during a very interesting time for Standard. It came in just after the notoriously degenerate Mirrodin and at a time when Magic was fast and heavy. It was then followed up by the Ravnica block, which focused heavily on multicolour play, something that the Kamigawa block lacked. In general, players didn’t like the higher cost and lower impact of the cards in Kamigawa block, but that’s not to say that the entire block was a write-off.

kamigawa block kabuto moth

First, we’ll look at Kamigawa block the way it was first introduced to most players: Limited. The Limited format for Kamigawa was kind of like a so-called “battleship Magic” meta, but without the battleships. Almost everything cost more than what most players are used to. Want a 1/2 flyer that can tap to give +1/+2 to a creature? That’ll be 3 mana for Kabuto Moth please. Want to destroy a land? You’ll need 5 mana for Feast of Worms. How about Unsummon? Consuming Vortex is just like that, except it costs twice as much (quadruple if you splice). Now, you may be thinking that this sounds like a bad time for everyone and, it kind of is if you have the wrong mindset. If you went into Kamigawa Limited expecting the same experience as Mirrodin Limited, you were going to be very disappointed and I think that that initial disappointment is part of the reason that Kamigawa gets such a bad rap for its Limited environment. It had a lot of solid, albeit insular, mechanics such as Arcane and Spirits and it is a generally fun time.

For Standard at the time, Kamigawa had some pretty solid additions as well. Katsuhiro Mori drove his Ghazi-Glare deck to win the 2005 World Championship and a good section of it was from Kamigawa. Another popular deck was UG Meloku control, which was mostly Kamigawa as well. Finally, there was the rise of Owling Mine near the end of the block’s time in Standard, which was also a popular deck that relied a fair bit on cards from the block. So, despite being so reviled, Kamigawa gave rise to a bunch of popular decks that some still have a fondness for even now.

kamigawa block ebony owl netsuke

Finally, let’s look at the lasting impact the Kamigawa block has had on the Eternal formats. There are so many cards that have become staples in one way or another that it wouldn’t be possible to make them all into one list without going on for too long and making my editor hate me. To start, we have a card that’s so good it’s either been banned or there are calls for it to be banned in every format: Sensei’s Diving Top. It made such an impact on Legacy that its recent banning killed one of the top tier decks when it left. Then there’s Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker also has powerful decks built around him, as does Glimpse of Nature and Azusa, Lost but Seeking. Several popular hate cards were introduced in this block as well, with the likes of Pithing Needle, Kataki, War’s Wage, and Threads of Disloyalty first seeing print here. Finally, Commander got a bunch of staple cards from this block, just a few of them being: Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni, Time of Need, Hero’s Demise, Minamo, School at Water’s Edge, and Mikokoro, Center of the Sea.

I feel like Kamigawa block has gotten a much worse reputation than it deserves. I think that if it had been released at a different time, it would have gotten much more love. It’s only crime is that it got stuck in the middle of two very powerful blocks and it was just “good”. It was the peanut butter in a ham sandwich; great somewhere else, but bad in the place it was put.

If you’re looking to try out any Kamigawa block cards you can do so on Mondays at 7:00 pm at the store or try out some Commander during our Friday Night Magic at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm. Legacy might be your jam and we will be hosting a Magic Legacy Quarterly with 100% of the entries paid out in store credit.

Jay Edwards is an advocate for janky magic combos, and exploring fun and casual Magic ideas. When he’s not contributing columns to A Muse N Games.ca, he keeps himself busy as a Magic Judge. His new column, Tapping Cardboard, will appear here twice monthly so be sure to check it out!

Tapping Cardboard: Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems

by July 7, 2017

hour of devastation hidden gems tapping cardboard

Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems

Now that the Hour of Devastation is upon us, everyone is getting hyped about the obvious cards like The Locust God, Kefnet’s Last Word, and Liliana’s Defeat.

Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems Locust God Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems Kefnet's Last Word Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems Liliana's Defeat

While those cards are getting all the hype, a bunch of cool cards are getting thrown by the wayside. Let’s have an Hour of Revelation *wink* and look at some underappreciated cards that might prove to be Hour of Devastation hidden gems.

Back in M14, there was an uncommon that was alright in draft and completely ignored outside of that. If only we could have glimpsed this set back then and seen that there was going to eventually be a better version. First up on the list, we have Strategic Planning!

Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems Strategic Planning

To start, I’m going to state that this card is no replacement for Anticipate, but it doesn’t need to be nor was it built with that in mind. Anticipate goes in the control-type shells, the ones that need to respond to threats at instant speed. Strategic Planning goes into graveyard-based decks that were missing a way to put things in their graveyard without sacrificing an important card that they needed in hand. With Embalm and Eternalize being decent mechanics and some reanimation shenanigans existing in Standard and Limited, this card will probably find some sort of home in both formats. The one downside, for now, is that Contingency Plan does the job better, but it’s cool to know that a decent replacement will cover that spot after rotation.

Before the Hour of Glory, the lessons of the trials were sometimes painful. Afterwards, they became much dourer. Next on the list of Hour of Devastation hidden gems: Tragic Lesson.

Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems Tragic Lesson

The obvious comparisons in Standard right now is with Pull From Tomorrow, although this is more like Pull From Later Today since it doesn’t scale, and Catalog, which just isn’t very good. That being said, however, this can be hit by Torrential Gearhulk, which is something that some players may seriously take into consideration when updating their decks. This also doesn’t force a discard if you don’t want to or have a land with an ETB trigger (like Sunscorched Desert or Sandstone Bridge). Will this change the format? No, but it’s a good option for a few decks that like a couple extra cards in hand but don’t want to spend a lot to do that.

Everyone now knows about the three new gods of the plane, but there is a hidden fourth god. One that unseats a legend of the game and has so far flown under the radar. Hour of Devastation hidden gems number three: River Hoopoe, Usurper of Storm Crow.

Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems River Hoopoe

Outside of being an upgrade to the iconic Storm Crow, this little bird is just great on its own. Early game, it’s an annoying flyer that can sneak in some damage or chump some smaller creatures. Late game, it provides a great mana sink that can easily help turn a game around. This little card will make a bigger impact on Standard than I think many people are giving it credit. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this card around a few FNM tables in the coming weeks.

Casting a good creature is a sure-fire way to win a game of Magic. If that’s the case, casting the same creature card multiple times must win you the game faster, right? That must have been the logic behind giving us this next card, again. Our fourth on the list Hour of Devastation hidden gems: Unsummon.

Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems Unsummon

For those of you how never played when Unsummon was in Standard prior to this, it’s kind of annoying. It’s a single mana to throw off your entire tempo game plan if it is dropped early enough. Trust me, dropping a one-drop just to have it bounced back to your hand immediately is not fun at all. On the other side of the spell, it’s a great way to instantly restrict an opponent and force them to play the game at your pace. I can hear a lot of people saying “but Select for Inspection and Clutch of Currents exist and they don’t see play!”. Well, this hits any creature at any time, which is a marked upgrade from both of those cards. If you’re lacking some cheap removal, this is a great option.

There now exists a card no one asked for and nobody seems to want. A non-lord lord for a tribe that barely exists that has the whole community mocking it. Finally on our list of Hour of Devastation hidden gems: Crested Sunmare.

Hour of Devastation Hidden Gems Crested Sunmare

Ignore the fact that it says “Horse” anywhere on this card for a second as well as the entire first line. What we’re left with is a 5/5 for 5 that makes 5/5s if you gain life and that’s pretty dang good on its own. Just throw this in with any lifelinking creatures (looking at you Sacred Cat) and you’ve got yourself a pretty neat little engine. If only there is a creature that could make this even better… oh wait! Kambal! That’s a thing, right? And there’s Authority of the Consuls too! Hmm… This sounds like a deck in the making…

Orzhov Horse-Based Lifegain

Sorceries/Instants:
4 Authority of the Consuls
3 Blessed Alliance
3 Fumigate
4 Never / Return

Creatures:
3 Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
4 Crested Sunmare
4 Gifted Aetherborn
3 Kambal, Consul of Allocation
4 Lone Rider
4 Sacred Cat

Lands:
2 Blighted Steppe
2 Concealed Courtyard
2 Shambling Vent
12 Plains
6 Swamp

Sideboard:
2 Drana’s Emissary
2 Fatal Push
2 Felidar Sovereign
1 Fumigate
2 Grind / Dust
3 Harsh Scrutiny
3 Scarab Feast

And those are some of the hidden gems within the Hour of Devastation! If you have any comments or suggestions for future articles, or if you want some help with a deck idea, feel free to email me at deckdesignsbyjay(at)shaw.ca!

There is still time to register for our Hour of Devastation prerelease at Midnight, Noon, or 5:00 pm on Saturday, July 8 or 6:00 pm on Sunday, July 9. You can do so online or in-store!

Jay Edwards is an advocate for janky magic combos, and exploring fun and casual Magic ideas. When he’s not contributing columns to A Muse N Games.ca, he keeps himself busy as a Magic Judge. His new column, Tapping Cardboard, will appear here twice monthly so be sure to check it out!