So… it’s 2015 now and I meant to write this article a year ago. Yes I know it’s a bit late, but you were probably late losing your virginity so shut up.
A lot has happened since then- both in Magic land and outside of it. You can read my humble apology for neglecting your sweet fanboy/fangirl hearts here and rest assured you can expect the Top 10 Cards of 2014 shortly. Catch up on 2012 and 2011 here.
Anyhow, best not to think of how long it’s taken me to get this all written up. Better to think of it as lengthy ad break.
On with the show!
Naturally being a Grade A dragon lover, when Scourge of Valkas got spoiled I did the only thing I possibly could do- I jizzed myself, then preordered a playset on eBay. Then I printed out the eBay receipt and jizzed on that too because I wasn’t quite done yet.
Everyone who knows me knows my favourite card of all time is Bogardan Hellkite and here was a dragon lord who hosted a game show called ‘Who wants to be a Bogardan Hellkite?’
The rules of the show aren’t terribly complex, just rock up and spit fire at people. And the more of you that rock up the merrier. Everybody wins! (Except your opponent).
However Scourge of Valkas didn’t turn out to be the ultimate pinnacle of dragonism I thought it would be. The unfortunate truth is, unlike other tribes, dragons don’t need lords. They are an autonomous collective, and strange dragons lying about in M14 booster packs distributing fire is no basis for a system of government.
The damage dealt by other dragons entering the field often isn’t enough to rely upon, and the Scourge slips into decks more as a select role-player rather than a figurehead to rally the hordes around. Really his best chance at carnage is to use the Phone-a-Friend lifeline and call in Utvara Hellkite. Or Dragon Broodmother if you’re playing in the woods.
In my particular playgroup the cornerstone of many an EDH deck is Mana Flare and similar associated hobnob. So imagine my delight when I saw they printed a Mana Flare with legs. And not just any legs- 7/5 legs. It’s like Vorinclex’s little brother, who’s all sweet and innocent and believes in sharing rather than being a dick. He’s also red, so I guess he’s a Ranga too.
(Anyone who hasn’t watched Summer Heights High click that link. Token foul language warning.)
Yeah it kind of sucks losing your Mana Flare to a wrath, but we all had to deal with that when we started playing with Vorinclex. Plus he doesn’t attract the kind of hate his big brother does. In fact I’ve even seen it happen where people in my group don’t wipe the board just to keep this dude around.
Come to think of it he could teach Vorinclex some manners, that guy is seriously such a dick…
It’s a Mana Flare that punches face for 7. What more do you want me to say?
There’s a particular subset of these crazy whacky effects that I like to call ‘spam’ effects: cards and abilities that dump a whole bunch of permanents onto the battlefield and just leave a giant mess behind. Eureka, Twilight’s Call, etc.
Pyxis of Pandemonium is the latest card in this series and I particularly like it because it is 100% splashable and its final resolution is almost completely unpredictable. It keeps ticking up and ticking up until finally you crack open Magic’s version of Pandora’s Box and watch the whole world go south.
The problem of course is it takes time to tick up. You need I say at least seven activations before you can achieve something memorable. But luckily there are ways around it. In my Sydri EDH deck I run a lot of untap effects such as Voltaic Key, Filigree Sages and Unwinding Clock to get multiple activations a turn. Even better is my Derevi tokens build, where every little dork swinging in generates an untap effect. That’s six, seven or eight cards straight into Pandora’s Box every turn.
It takes a lot of effort and it’s not for everyone, but each player just dumping a section of their library onto the battlefield makes for some very memorable games.
A large asteroid exploded into the Earth in 65 million B.C. and wiped out the dinosaurs. Then another asteroid came in September 2013 and wiped out all the Thragtusks, Delvers and fucking Restoration Angels. And as with every mass extinction, something always claws its way out of the dust to thrive amongst the carnage. In this case it wasn’t a sabre-toothed tiger but rather an undercosted, unblockable three-headed dog that told Scavenging Ooze to go fuck itself.
In that brief window of time between Innistrad block’s rotation and before everyone discovered Esper Control was the bee’s knees, I had the greatest fun playing Standard that I’ve ever had. I also had possibly the strongest Standard deck I’d ever owned, comparatively speaking. I ran a Jund midrange/ramp build and I found myself consistently Top-4ing my local FNM with it. It ran all the usual suspects- Polukranos, Stormbreath Dragon, Reaper of the Wilds– but it also packed Underworld Cerberus. And honestly of all my top-end threats, I found Underworld Cerberus outperformed everything else. Not much could block it and not much could kill it, as being a black creature with 6 toughness was kind of good around then. Then when it went the way of the dodo it brought back all sorts of juicy filth to do it all over again.
Sometimes you see a woman that just makes your jaw drop. Your mind goes blank, you forget who you are and all you can think is ‘WOW’. Usually it’s the Eva Mendes type that does that for me, but one time, kind of around when the Gatecrash spoilers got released, I saw and fell in love with Zegana.
I mean, she’s not my type at all. She’s a snooty-faced schoolmistress/lionfish hybrid who looks like she’s got a staghorn coral up her bottom.
But boy does she know how to tickle my fancy! She comes in with a big fat body (not a reflection of my real life inclinations), draws heaps of cards, and requires me to be playing with fat creatures already. To me that’s like having a girlfriend who cooks you nachos for breakfast and insists you bang all her friends.
I knew Zegana was good, but I always figured she’d suck as an EDH general. You’d be tapped out on casting and all your new toys will be stuck in your hand. But then I took another look my Eurekas. I bought a playset a long time ago and they were stuck gathering dust in a folder somewhere. It all suddenly clicked.
I built my Zegana EDH deck around Eureka and its fat stompy sister, Myojin of Life’s Web. Early fat like Deadbridge Goliath fuels a large early Zegana which sets me up with more fat, and recurring Zegana after that is just silly. Soon I have over a hundred worth of power on the board and am drawing twenty cards a turn. Then I forget all about Eureka and just win with Laboratory Maniac.
To this day Zegana remains one of the most powerful and fun EDH decks I have ever built. I love you, grumpy fish-woman.
So this here is actually five cards listed as one, because seriously, if I listed them all individually would be pretty boring. I’d probably just end up so bored after describing the second or third that half the article would up as a haiku or something.
Never the less I was thrilled to see the Primordials come into print. It showed me that Wizards is taking the multiplayer demographic seriously by printing balls-to-the-wall stupid fatties geared for the format. Each one is a powerhouse in and of itself and a worthy of consideration in any multiplayer deck. Personally Sepulchral and Diluvian are my favourites and create game situations swingier than the 1960s. Luminate is criminally underrated and Molten can win the game out of nowhere on its own.
At first I really liked it for its raw, simple power- but given the amazing number of ways to reanimate, bounce and blink it in the format it proved far too easy to abuse. It and Deadeye Navigator are a match made in hell. I hate to say it because for a time I was nuts about the card, but good riddance.
As you no doubt know, I love multiplayer, and my love of EDH/Commander has grown particularly strong. Therefore it should be about as shocking as nipples on a pair of tits to note my favourite expansions are the Commander ones.
Commander 2013 gave us plenty of new treats (here’s a shout out to the blue and black Forces who just missed this list). In particular I was looking forward to the multiplayer-focused political cards. The original Commander gave us the Vows and ‘Join Forces’, where Commander 2013 gave us new Curses and the ‘Tempt’ cycle.
Tempt with Vengeance is easily my favourite of the bunch. With just a bit of mana you can have your Magic game resemble the current state of the Middle East. The politics, power and sudden violent takedowns this card has created for me have been joyous to the extreme. And the time the worst came to the worst that Chain Reaction was large enough to talk about for weeks. Try it- you’ll like it.
Xenagos is the first time I’ve ever included a planeswalker on this list, but he’s here for good reason: he’s the life of any party he manages to barge himself into. Whether he’s vomiting red and green mana all over the carpet or throwing the door wide open for gatecrashers you’ll never be bored with Xenagos around. He doesn’t even have a shirt on, so you’d be forgiven for thinking he mistook your Magic game for Stereosonic.
The boost he gives your resources is unbelievably powerful in a lot of situations and those little dorks he sends crashing in aren’t too bad either. Then finally when the party reaches its crescendo, Xenagos caps it all off with a spectacular fireworks display. Of Terastodons.
Even considering the fact I’ve activated his mini-Genesis Wave/super-Summoning Trap/whatever you want to call it precisely never, I still think this guy is an absolute hoot and he’s invited to all my shindigs.
You can use those kobolds for all sorts of things: powering up Beastmaster Ascension, feeding Predator Dragons or just sending everyone to hell via Vicious Shadows. There’s always plenty of support for this too as guys like Butcher of Malakir and Goblin Sharpshooter live off the constant stream of death. You can even just feed them back to Prossh and have him hit for the full 21 commander damage (ewww… eating his own poo…).
He’s like a two card combo, the second card being whatever random bit of LoL you’ve got in your hand.
I tried to write about Prossh once before, but I failed because I was too spellbound by his ‘cool’ factor. Instead I just listed a bunch of cards I wanted to play with him and mentioned I was motivated by sex or something. Actually that’s not all that much different what I just did here.
Yes it is true I have a soft spot for dragons and legendary creatures that inspire me to build EDH decks- that is why Prossh takes the number two spot for 2013. But I’ll tell you something, that soft spot certainly isn’t in my pants.
Truth be told, the number one spot for 2013 was a no-brainer. Prossh is great, Xenagos is the tits and I’ve dreamed of group sex with all five Primordials. But the competition wasn’t even close. This is what stole the show in 2013:
I created this simple flowchart to determine whether a deck should run Primeval Bounty:
I think it speaks for itself. In the standard deck I mentioned above when I was talking about Underworld Cerberus, I had all those face-smashy dudes as threats, but in reality Primeval Bounty was my ‘I Win’ card. After you cast it, everything you do generates some sort of advantage. I used to even refer to it as the green Sphinx’s Revelation; the card might as well have read ‘Cast now, win five turns later’.
After I dismantled my standard deck I migrated all my Bounties to EDH decks and found them coughing up even more value. Free creatures, free pumps and 48 life off New Frontiers all day long.
I will say though I did find an awkward stain on Primeval Bounty’s blanket of love as I was slutting it through all my EDH decks: there are some decks it doesn’t perform optimally in because of their creature/spell ratios. Decks with more spells than creatures and unremarkable Generals (like my Xira Arien deck for example) do not gain as much benefit from the Bounty. Likewise decks with extremely high creature density don’t gain the full effect either: the free 3/3 beast is awesome, but there are plenty of times you want to use the pump effect too.
But really all that should deter you about as effectively as I deterred my last stalker. I love this card to death and it isn’t going anywhere.
THATS IT THEN
So that wraps up 2013 folks. I must say to all my loyal fans a sincere apology for letting this blog fall to the wayside over the course of the year. Starting a company consumes a lot of time and energy, as does having a stalker.
Fuck they’re outside my window again.
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