Avacyn Restored Wishlist

While I can’t say that I’m super excited for the new set, there are always some cool new cards in every set. Here’s what I have my eye on:

Good Cards

Cathars' CrusadeCathars’ Crusade seems like a potentially useful and powerful card, but realistically, by the time you get it out, you’re probably already winning or losing and this isn’t going to change much, since it costs 5 mana. Still, I can imagine this doing some awesome things with some big card like Conqueror’s Pledge. I suppose even a flashbacked Lingering Souls could put your spirit token army out of reach of a lot of targeted removal or big enough to deal with the threats on the other side of the board. I definitely want to try this out.

Archwing Dragon

Here’s a dragon that basically protects itself when it’s not your turn, and potentially combos with stuff that rewards you when a creature comes into play – this guy’s coming in every turn.

Tyrant of DiscordPretty pricey for a red deck, but I love the potential to wreak havoc on the board with Tyrant of Discord.

Abundant GrowthNo card disadvantage with this aura, and it fixes your mana for cheap. Imagine splashing for other colors in a Dungrove Elder deck, for example (Druids’ Repository could do it too, but not as efficiently).

Essence HarvestIf you like playing with fatties, here’s a cool new drain life, or combo it with a shade to really finish them off with a double whammy!

Bonfire of the DamnedIn a deck with Seething Songs, Pyretic Rituals, and Geosurges, this could be really awesome. And it doesn’t kill your guys, just theirs!

Somberwald SageDon’t you think this should be an Elf? I do. But it’s not going in an elf deck anyway. Perfect for casting that RRR creature in your Green deck, though.

Wolfir SilverheartThis is going into my Werewolf deck.

Mill Deck

I’m planning on building a dedicated mill deck soon – love those alternate win-condition decks – and I have a self-mill deck that might find some use for these as well. In the late game, Dreadwaters is 4 mana for 6-7 cards; Rotcrown Ghoul might find a better home UB Zombies, filling your own graveyard with reanimation targets, since otherwise it’s just 5 mana for 5 cards with a delay; Stern Mentor gives you 4 cards per turn for 4 mana, so it may be the best of the lot.

Dreadwaters Rotcrown Ghoul Stern Mentor

New Planeswalkers

I’d like to collect all the planeswalkers eventually (don’t know if I’ll ever get a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, though). I’ve created my own “Planeswalker Jousting” format, and here are some new Jousters:

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded

Crosis, the Purger Deck

I turned my old “Discard Damage” damage deck into a Crosis Commander deck (UBR), so I’m always on the lookout for good discard cards, or reanimate their discarded creatures cards, and even better bounce cards. (An interesting side note: I noticed that I found a lot more Black and Red cards that I want in this set than White ones.) Appetite for Brains is likely to hit something big and good in an EDH game; Mental Agony might be a little pricey at 4 mana; Once Crosis is out, Triumph of Cruelty has a good chance of doing some real work.

Appetite for Brains Mental Agony Triumph of Cruelty

Vampires!

I have a vampire-themed Commander deck, and a Sorin deck based around vampires, so vampire-themed cards always attract my attention. Bloodflow Connoiseur looks like it will combo better with Kalastria Highborn than Bloodthrone Vampire.

Barter in Blood Blood Artist Bloodflow ConnoiseurDark Imposter Driver of the Dead Exquisite Blood

Venser Deck

I have been on the lookout for nice cheap things to flicker in my Venser deck, but I guess Cathedral Sanctifier is just Healing Salve on a stick. Maybe I should rethink that one. Conjuror’s Closet would be an even more perfect complement in the deck if it was a little cheaper.

Cathedral Sanctifier Conjuror's Closet

Zombies

I’m slowly getting the cards together for a Zombies deck – I want hordes and hordes that come back from the dead. I’m not sure, yet, whether to go mono-Black or Blue/Black.

Butcher Ghoul Dread Slaver

Red Deck Wins

Red looks like it got some good stuff in this set. Here’s some decent considerations for aggressive red decks. Pump out the creature rush, and then get some more cards in your hand, and finish them off with a big Fireball!

Battle Hymn Burn at the Stake Dangerous Wager

Elves!

Some people don’t seem to like Elves. I’m not one of those.

Descendants' Path

New Decks?

There are a few cards which do seem to be begging for a deck to built around them, either because they present a unique challenge or just seem really cool.

Otherworld Atlas Rite of Ruin Gloom Surgeon

Others seem like they have the synergy for a deck built right into the set. Demonic Rising is asking for these others to follow him into a deck. That Demonic Taskmaster becomes a 7/4 flying menace, and you have fodder for some other sacrificial outlet like Corpse Trader, Bloodflow Connoisseur, or Bone Splinters in a mono-Black control deck.

Demonic RisingDemonic Taskmaster Homicidal Seclusion Predator's Gambit

What if we built a multiplayer deck with Descent into Madness and Griselbrand? Ouch!

Descent into Madness Griselbrand

New Commanders?

While Black, and Red to a lesser extent, seemed to get some of the best cards, there are some multi-colored Angels with some potential as Commanders.

Bruna, Light of Alabaster Gisela, Blade of Goldnight Sigarda, Host of Herons

Land Collection

I’d like to collect all of the dual colored activation lands from the block. These will complete the collection:

Alchemist's Refuge Desolate Lighthouse Slayers’ Stronghold

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The Super Casual Shopper

I just put in an order for some Innistrad cards, and then I thought I should do a little comparison shopping. I use two main sites to order singles. My general impression is that Oldschoolgaming.net seems to have cheaper prices, but their available selection is usually not as good as ChannelFireball.com. Of course, this isn’t always true…

So here was my order at Oldschoolgaming.net (I was trying to keep it under $20, but alas):

– 5x Boneyard Wurm, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.45
– 2x Kessig Cagebreakers, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $1.96
– 4x Furnace Celebration, Scars of Mirrodin
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.08
– 4x Moonmist, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Mulch, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 1x Parallel Lives, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $2.23
– 3x Spider Spawning, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Splinterfright, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $3.16
– 4x Wreath of Geists, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Demonmail Hauberk, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Ghoulcaller’s Bell, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Cellar Door, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.16
– 4x Runechanter’s Pike, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.80
– 1x Trepanation Blade, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.08
– 1x Ghost Quarter, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.87
– 8x Shimmering Grotto, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.24
– 1x Vile Consumption, Invasion
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.35
– 2x Vile Consumption, Invasion
Condition: Light Play | Language: English, $0.63
– 1x Myrsmith, Scars of Mirrodin
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.10
– 3x Curiosity, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.33
– 4x Avacyn’s Pilgrim, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.20
– 3x Forest (174), New Phyrexia
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.09
– 3x Forest (175), New Phyrexia
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.09
– 4x Master Thief, Magic 2012
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.20
– 3x Liquimetal Coating, Scars of Mirrodin
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.27
– 3x Triumph of the Hordes, New Phyrexia
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.24
– 4x Ogre’s Cleaver, Rise of the Eldrazi
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Titanic Growth, Magic 2012
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.16
– 4x Doomed Traveler, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 3x Elder Cathar, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.09
– 4x Intangible Virtue, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.80
– 3x Spectral Rider, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 3x Thraben Sentry // Thraben Militia, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.09
– 3x Unruly Mob, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.09
– 4x Armored Skaab, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 3x Civilized Scholar // Homicidal Brute, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Deranged Assistant, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Dream Twist, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 3x Homunculus Token, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.15
– 1x Invisible Stalker, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.98
– 4x Ludevic’s Test Subject // Ludevic’s Abomination, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $1.36
– 1x Stitcher’s Apprentice, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.03
– 4x Diregraf Ghoul, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.92
– 1x Endless Ranks of the Dead, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $1.25
– 4x Ghoulcaller’s Chant, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Ghoulraiser, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Markov Patrician, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 3x Moan of the Unhallowed, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Screeching Bat // Stalking Vampire, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.16
– 1x Skirsdag High Priest, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.43
– 3x Typhoid Rats, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.09
– 3x Demon Token, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.45
– 2x Charmbreaker Devils, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.36
– 4x Desperate Ravings, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.16
– 4x Hanweir Watchkeep // Bane of Hanweir, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.16
– 4x Infernal Plunge, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 4x Rakish Heir, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.16
– 3x Reckless Waif // Merciless Predator, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.75
– 3x Tormented Pariah // Rampaging Werewolf, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.09
– 4x Traitorous Blood, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 2x Vampiric Fury, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.06
– 2x Bramblecrush, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.16
– 4x Caravan Vigil, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 2x Creeping Renaissance, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.34
– 4x Full Moon’s Rise, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.28
– 3x Gatstaf Shepherd // Gatstaf Howler, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.15
– 4x Gnaw to the Bone, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 2x Gutter Grime, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.36
– 4x Hamlet Captain, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.20
– 3x Lumberknot, Innistrad Singles
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.12
– 2x Glint Hawk Idol, Scars of Mirrodin
Condition: Unplayed | Language: English, $0.18

The total came to $25.12 plus $7.60 in shipping for 235 cards.

The same order at Channel Fireball would have cost $37.43 plus $7.32 in shipping for 231 cards (They did not have the 3 Vile Consumption or the 1 Myrsmith).  Of the cards I ordered, only Kessig Cagebreakers ($1.58), Parallel Lives ($1.99), Myrsmith ($0.05), Liquimetal Coating ($0.15), and the Demon tokens ($0.30) were cheaper at ChannelFireball. Also, the Humunculus tokens, and Master Thief came out the same. Of course, there were things that Oldschoolgaming.net didn’t have in stock or were too expensive (and might have been cheaper at ChannelFireball), so this is hardly defnitive. One thing I want to track is whether certain types of cards are more or less expensive at one or the other, and whether certain types of cards are more readily available at one or other. So, I plan to keep track and look for trends.

It’s just amazing how easy it is to get cards these days (compared with when I began playing).

 

A question…

I readily admit that I am not a hardcore tournament player – that’s the point of this blog, really – but I like to learn and deepen my understanding of this game where I can – I play Magic as a strategy game that engages the mind in both the deck construction and playing stages. So, can anyone explain to me why Grim Lavamancer is considered such a good card?

MTG Card: Grim Lavamancer

I read LSV’s recent review of the card, but he simply takes its awesomeness for granted. I’ve seen this played in Legacy tournaments, so I know that the pros think it is good, but wouldn’t you rather just play a Cunning Sparkmage? At its core, it’s just a 1/1 for 1 that can tap for a Shock, if you have some cards in the graveyard. Normally, this would seem like a lot of setup for a fragile ability. This dude gets pinged to death like any 1-toughness creature, it has to wait a turn to use its ability, and you have to have two cards in the graveyard. I’ve seen guys waiting around to bring this guy back on line. Now, if there aren’t any other pingers left in Standard after the Fall rotation (both Cunning Sparkmage and Prodigal Pyromancer are scheduled to leave), then sure, play the Grim Lavamancer, but the rhetoric seems to be that Grim Lavamancer is really superior. So is it, really?

The best way I can think to consider this is to make a direct comparison with the Cunning Sparkmage and Prodigal Pyromancer.

MTG Card: Grim Lavamancer MTG Card: Cunning SparkmageMTG Card: Prodigal Pyromancer

Turn 1:

GL: Play GL (Mana Count = 1)

CS: Do something else

PP: Do something else

Turn 2:

GL: Play two other one-mana spells (Graveyard Count = 2); Attack with the GL (Damage Count = 1)

CS: Do something else

PP: Do something else

Turn 3:

GL: Use the GL’s ability (Damage Count = 3; Mana Count = 2) play two other one-mana spells (Graveyard Count = 2)

CS: Play CS, ping for one (Damage Count = 1; Mana Count = 3)

PP: Play PP (Mana Count = 3)

Turn 4:

GL: Use the GL’s ability (Damage Count = 5; Mana Count = 3) play three other one-mana spells (Graveyard Count = 3)

CS: ping for one (Damage Count = 2; Mana Count = 3)

PP: ping for one (Damage Count = 1; Mana Count = 3)

Turn 5:

GL: Use the GL’s ability (Damage Count = 7; Mana Count = 4) play four other one-mana spells (Graveyard Count = 5)

CS: ping for one (Damage Count = 3; Mana Count = 3)

PP: ping for one (Damage Count = 2; Mana Count = 3)

Turn 6:

GL: Use the GL’s ability (Damage Count = 9; Mana Count = 5) play four other one-mana spells (Graveyard Count = 5)

CS: ping for one (Damage Count = 4; Mana Count = 3)

PP: ping for one (Damage Count = 3; Mana Count = 3)

OK, I begin to see the value a little here, although a deck full of one-mana spells probably has some other issues and may not be winning. What if we only cast 1 spell per turn?

Turn 1: GL (Mana count = 1)

Turn 2: GL attacks (Damage count = 1) (Graveyard count = 1)

Turn 3: (Graveyard count = 2) GL ability (Damage count = 3) (Mana count = 2)

Turn 4: (Graveyard count = 1) GL attacks (Damage count = 4)

Turn 5: (Graveyard count = 2) GL ability (Damage count = 6) (Mana count = 3)

Alright, I begin to be convinced. 3 mana for 6 damage certainly is value, although whether the Grim Lavamancer actually gets in for those 2 points of regular combat damage is debatable. 3 Mana for 4 damage is less stellar (I’d rather have 3 Lightning Bolts or even 1 Lightning Bolt and 1 Incinerate). I haven’t run the data on Spikeshot Elder, but that has a lot more potential in my view since it doesn’t tap and there are lots of ways to boost its power (Can you imagine that thing with a Gigantomancer in play? 4 mana for 7 damage! or a Gigantiform on it? 3 mana for 8 damage (and possibly 6 mana for 16)! I feel a deck coming on…)

Conclusion

I’d still like to hear further arguments in favor of Grim Lavamancer, but I’m willing to agree that it probably deserves a place in a mono-Red aggro deck, and maybe some sort of UR build with lots of cheap spells to fill your graveyard. I still wonder if there isn’t better stuff to play in Legacy, though.

Some Johnny musings

I recently got an order of cards in from Channel Fireball, so I thought I’d share what I plan to do with some of them. I should also note that I haven’t yet gone through the M12 spoiler yet, but now that the release day is upon us, I will try to get to it soon, since now some of the ridiculous pre-order prices will start coming down.

(K)night of the Terravore update

I’ve added a couple of Qasali Pridemages to my deck, to give me some utility against other decks. He’s a bear with essentially two abilities, one of which will go nicely with my Terravore (Exalted plus trample means almost guaranteed damage), and now I’ve replaced the Disenchants which were originally in the deck. I also decided that the deck only needed 2 Nantuko Monastery, since you really only want those late (after you have threshold), and I have several ways to tutor one up. I am looking to get some more manlands (Stirring Wildwood, Treetop Village, etc.) to make my Realms Uncharted a little more scary.

Mercadian Masques lands plus Proliferate

I ordered a bunch of the different lands from Mercadian Masques that hold storage counters (Saprazzan Skerry, Mercadian Bazaar, etc.), and I’m percolating up some proliferation shenanigans. I’m thinking that many artifacts, these lands, the levelers, the fading mechanic, and planeswalkers all mesh well with some proliferation action, so I’ll see what I can come up with that isn’t too slow to get going.

Artifact tutoring

I’m getting together the pieces of an artifact deck that uses both Trinket Mage and Treasure Mage to good effect, plus my Sun Titan and Kuldotha Forgemaster. I got a couple more Thopter Assembly, and a Mindslaver (I love it when the cool mythics start to get cheap). Should I try to combine all this with Shape Anew, or is that a different deck? I don’t know but Scars of Mirrodin block really has some fun artifact shenanigans waiting to happen.

Alara multi-color goodies

I wasn’t playing during Alara block, so I missed all these triple colored lands and artifacts. I might call them “a poor man’s duals”. I wanted a couple of Grixis cards (Grixis Panorama and Crumbling Necropolis) for my Crosis, the Purger deck, so I decided to just get some of everything – you never know when you’ll be making a triple color deck, and I can’t afford real fetchlands.

EDH enhancements

I picked up a few other cards for my Commander decks, besides the Grixis stuff mentioned above. I added a Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet (I really do like the fact that you only have to buy one copy for an EDH deck) to my Drana deck, and I figured a Necrotic Ooze would be sweet in a discard deck in a multi-player format.

Odds and Ends

I don’t know what I’m going to do with them yet, but I picked up some rares that had gotten cheap enough ($.25-$.49) that seem like they could be good in something: Bazaar Trader (I’m thinking this might be good with Jinxed Idol, but either way, this is clearly a card no Johnny (even a part-time Johnny) should be without) and Scute Mob (a 1 mana 5/5 in a ramp deck seems good).

All in all, I’d say this was better than some random booster packs… and on the Spike front, I’m looking forward to perusing the top decks from the latest SCG Open to see what the new Standard is looking like.

Planeswalker Lament

I love the Planeswalkers. Cool card idea, cool execution. Unfortunately, they’re mostly also very expensive 😦  I’d love to collect them all and make decks for each, but there will probably always be a few that remain out of reach (Jace 2.0 is seeing Legacy and Vintage play, so it’s not going to come down in price too much, even though it has dropped about $20 recently (maybe because it is under threat to be banned?)

Here are the ones I don’t have yet. I ran a quick price comparison between a few online dealers that I’ve dealt with recently, and I was a little surprised to see ChannelFireball come out the best – they are very competitive in their pricing, they ship fast, and when I had a problem with an order once, they were totally cool about it. So, I’m listing their prices here, and I’ll include the cumulative price for the other sites below. If they didn’t have the card, I substituted the StarCityGames price, which seems to usually be the highest.

Ajani Goldmane $4.99
Ajani Vengeant $4.99
Chandra Ablaze $3.49
Elspeth Tirel $8.99
Gideon Jura $29.99
Jace Beleren $10.99
Jace, the Mind Sculptor $79.99
Karn Liberated $19.99
Koth of the Hammer $24.99
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker $17.99*
Sarkhan Vol [$9.99]
Sarkhan the Mad $4.99
Sorin Markov $9.99
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas $34.99
Venser, the Sojourner $10.99

GRAND TOTAL: $277.35
COMPARISONS:

Old School Gaming: $282.70
Star City Games.com: $299.85
Pastimes.net: $311.62

Obviously, the Standard-legal cards that see significant tournament play are still a bit pricey. I actually opened a Nicol Bolas in a booster pack, but I was dumb and sold it (for way less than $18!!). But the next duel deck is going to be Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas, so maybe I’ll get him back. OSG is pretty comparable to CF, but they seem to have a greater tendency to be out of stock. I like Channel Fireball, as well, because of their free strategy content, and I’m happy to support them with my business, especially since their prices are so competitive. (I am not being recompensed by anyone for saying any of this – I’m just surfing the web like the rest of you.)

So, right now, only Chandra Ablaze is in my price range, but I just bought her alter ego, so I may hold off a while. I’ve got my eye on both Ajanis, though, as well as Sarkhan the Mad.