Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This week in Magic - Team Limited GP, the new Modern

With the new set, Fate Reforged, just recently coming out, as well as the new bannings, a lot of the authors haven't had the chance to have their say about the changes yet. This coupled with the lack of tournaments in the recent weeks, means that this week's articles focus much on the same things as last week, though there are some exceptions. We've done our best to come up with an interesting and diverse mix!

Fate Reforged

Jim Davies does his best to defuse the hype surrounding a lot of the cards in Fate Reforged

Every new set that comes out usually brings a ton of hype with it and FRF was no different. Jim Davies does a good job of explaining the pitfalls of some of the cards in this set that people seem to be glossing over. Don't be fooled however, as this type of article can easily swing too far to the "everything sucks" side of the spectrum. There is plenty of power in the set, just make sure you don't look at cards through rose colored glasses.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa updates the best decks in Standard

When a new set comes out, especially a small one like Fate Reforged, building a completely new deck can often be harder than simply updating an old powerful one. PV analyzes strong additions to Sidisi Ship, Abzan, UB Control, Mono Red Devotion, UW Heroic, and RW tokens. Look no further if you want to dominate at the next Standard tournament with an upgraded version of your deck! If you want a more technical approach to the Standard metagame, you can also check out Frank Karsten's article.

Conley Woods goes aggresive in Standard with Mono Red Devotion 

Mono Red seems very well positioned at the moment, with the new Flamewake Phoenix and Mardu Scout filling in important spots that were empty before. The deck is probably neither as exciting, nor as high in simple power as some of the other decks, but it's consistent, fast, and packs a big punch once it gets going. The second list seems a bit suspect, however, as restricting yourself to one color and then not running arguably the most powerful card in that color - Goblin Rabblemaster - has got to feel awful.

Craig Wescoe discusses the financial side of Fate Reforged
Predicting which cards are going to over- or underperform - and, consequently, rise or drop in value - is a tough nut to crack. Some cards are sure hits, like the Khans fetchlands, so their value is pretty much stable, but the real financial gain can be found in the hidden gems, in the Tarmogoyfs of tomorrow. Craig showcases the cards he thinks will drop, and those he think will spike in price soon. Be careful, though - if everyone followed the advice of one person, it would cause the exact opposite reaction to what it suggests!

Banned/Restricted list changes

Jacob Van Lunen explores the new landscape of Modern

Jacob has a nice approach to exploring new decks - he looks at the decks doing well on Magic Online and analyzes why they are successful. He doesn't stop there, however, since the MTGO metagame is notoriously different to the paper one, due to card availability and because some of the mechanics simply take too much time to execute online. He suggests some other builds, and his idea of looking at strong decks from the past makes a lot of sense, as Modern might just be shifting back to where it was a few months ago (minus Pod, of course).

Channel Fireball's look at the changes to the Banned/Restricted list

Channel Fireball's Magic TV is some of the highest quality Magic video content being produced, with good content, entertaining hosts, and useful insight into many aspects of Magic. This episode features Shahar Shenhar and Josh Utter-Leyton, with hosts Mashi Scanlan and Paul Cheon, discussing the impact the changes to the Banned/Restricted list will likely have on the formats. If you enjoy video content, you will enjoy this!

Philipp Schoneger delves deep into the new face of Legacy 

OK, so he's actually not delving quite as deeply since the bannings, but his article is a very thoughtful and clear vision of the format. He does advocate Miracles very strongly, so don't expect decklists for other decks, but I've been very impressed with Philipp's writing these last few weeks.


Magic Judge Monthly: December 2014

The Judge Monthly is aimed primarily at Magic Judges, showcasing the best articles, as well as important updates of the Judge Program. Some parts might also be interesting to non-Judge players, especially the "O(fficial) Answers" section that features several rules- and/or policy-related questions that were the cause of debate in the Judge Community. These can give you an insight into what you can expect to happen at an event, not to mention that if they really pique your interest, you might just be Judge material yourself!

Reid Duke dives deep into the intricacies of Cube draft 

Cube is an extremely fun format and if you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend it! If you have, and want to learn how to beat your friends even more, you should take a look at Reid's new article. While there are nigh infinite different ways to construct a Cube, there are several universal truths about it and Reid tries to explore them here. The article feels a little general and not quite deep enough, especially considering it's written about such a specific theme as Cube draft, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

The FNM promos for February - April showcase an alternative timeline from Khans

I feel like the Friday Night Magic promos have been very hit-or-miss lately. They go from Banishing Light to Fanatic of Xenagos, from Stoke the Flames to Frenzied Goblin, ranging from Standard powerhouses to competitive blanks. The upcoming ones are all quite good, but the really cool thing here is the art, which is a twist on the art of the original cards - the new art on Hordeling Outburst, for example, shows the Goblins running from a hungry dragon!

James Watt tells us how a young Mardu Khan got her name

Nothing about tournaments, strategy, or crazy decks. This is a background story about one of the cards from Fate Reforged - but I won't tell you which one. That would just ruin it all. Magic stories tend to be a bit cliché, and this one is no different, but it's a cool read nonetheless if you enjoy exploring the background of our favorite game.

Upcoming tournaments

This weekend features GP Mexico City, the first GP with Fate Reforged, so it will be interesting to see what the Pro Players do with the new format. There's also GP San Jose going on at the same weekend, featuring the awesome format that is Team Limited! A lot of the best players in the world are likely to be there, but some are also sure to head to Mexico City in hopes of a smaller tournament and easier Pro Points. Regardless, both tournaments should be a lot of fun to watch, so check out the coverage!

The biggest Magic weekend ever, featuring GPs in Vegas, Utrecht, and Chiba, is four months away, but you can already preregister for GP Utrecht on the Tournament Center website.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

This week in Magic - FRF Prerelease, changes to the Banned/Restricted list

This weekend featured the Prerelease of Fate Reforged, a set that had some pretty big shoes to fill. It was obvious from the get-go that the next set will be hard pressed to compete with Khans of Tarkir, with its slew of powerful cards for all formats, as well as the friendly-color fetchlands. So far, FRF seems to feature more along the lines of funky combo cards than pure power and it will probably take longer to get a real idea of the influence this set will have on competitive Magic.

The other big change, of course, was the update to the Banned/Restricted lists. With the banning of Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Birthing Pod in Modern, and unbanning of Golgari Grave-Troll, this set will surely change the most, but Treasure Cruise was also banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage, so expect plenty of innovation all around!

Unsurprisingly, then, most articles published this week focus on one of these two topics, and we’ve done our best to feature the best of them. Enjoy our selection for this week!

Fate Reforged in Constructed

Adrian Sullivan talks about – well, Red, of course
I’ll be Frank, I thought Adrian will have gotten bored with playing Red by now, but he seems as determined as ever to throw some Wild Slashes to the face! His review is detailed, with a lot of cards one would glance over, but that might actually have a role to play at some point. Another thing I like about this article is that it’s not just all about Mono Red. I severely disagree with his rating of the Shaman, though.

Mark Nestico brings some interesting new Standard decks to the table
The nice thing about Standard right now is the wealth of different decks being played right now. The format, of course, has steadily been slimming down to a smaller number of the best decks, so it’s great that people are still thinking up new brews. Mark talks about his take on UW Control and Mono Green devotion, which both got a few new tools with Fate Reforged. There’s even a funky little GW Aggro deck at the end.

Caleb Durward’s guide to Eternal with Fate Reforged
In the slew of articles regarding the new set, not many articles will focus on the Eternal formats. Caleb goes over the obvious ones and provides some quick decklists, but he doesn’t exactly delve deep to find some more hidden gems.

Fate Reforged in Limited

Luis Scott-Vargas and Marshall Sutcliffe discuss the Commons and Uncommons of Fate Reforged
If you prefer listening to a podcast to reading an article, perhaps during your drive to work – or during work itself – you will enjoy LSV and Marshall discuss the cards in Fate Reforged for Limited. And when I say thorough, I mean thorough! This podcast runs for over five hours, while the Rare and Mythic one runs for another three. I think the podcast would be better if it was a little bit more focused, but it’s an interesting one nonetheless.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa talks about the facets of Fate Reforged Sealed
The Prerelease weekend may be over, but Sealed is still a relevant format that not many people write about. Is this article relevant for regular Sealed? On the one hand, you don’t get to choose which clan you will be playing, but there is still plenty of useful information here and it’s sure to give you an edge for the upcoming PPTQ/GP/whatever.


Brian David-Marshall sheds light on the Pro teams
One area of Magic coverage I’ve always found lacking is not the game – it’s the players behind it. Sure, BDM and Rich Hagon do their best to hype it up during Pro Tour coverage, but that is pretty much it. This article aims to rectify this and while there are still some improvements to be made, it’s an enjoyable read leading up to the Pro Tour.

David Ochoa makes Top 32 at GP Denver with no preparation David is a brilliant player, but his “I didn’t prepare for this event at all and had a great result” is getting a bit tiresome. What saves this article is his great writing style, which makes for an exciting read even when his insight into the actual deck is kind of limited. We just hope he isn’t going the way of the Paulo and actually starts preparing for tournaments again.

Regional Pro Tour Qualifier system for Pro Tour Milwaukee information
The RPTQ system is back for its second round and WotC has been adamant that they will be working hard to improve on the first round. The difference so far seems to be the format (Fate Reforged Sealed) and the locations of the tournaments, which you can find at the bottom of the article.

Upcoming tournaments

There are no GPs in the upcoming weekend, but you can follow the coverage of the SCG Open in Washington DC on their Twitch channel.

You can also take a look at the Vintage Super League, Season 2 of which starts on Tuesday.

Check out the Super Sunday Series Championship, starting on Saturday!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

This week in Magic - Week 1

LSV posts his traditional Limited Set Review, starting with White
As has been traditional for quite a few sets now, Hall of Famer Luis Scott-Vargas will go over every card in the upcoming set, Fate Reforged, and rate its usefulness in Limited on a scale of 0-5. Informative, thorough, and occasionally punny, LSV delivers yet again.

Paul Cheon makes it back on the Pro Tour with a GP Top 8
Paul’s drive to make it back on the Tour pays back, as he makes Top 8 of GP Denver with 4-Color Sidisi Whip. The first half of the article is mainly anecdotes and round recaps, the second half features a host of interesting play-by-plays, videos, and a long sideboard guide.

Riccardo Tessitori focuses on Sorin and Worlds 2014
Riccardo is a Level 5 Judge from Italy and his articles are focused on explaining interesting situations and interactions from a Judge’s perspective. Find out all you wanted to know about Sorin, Solemn Visitor, and learn about the amazing event of Worlds 2014.

Reid Duke gives you the edge with tips for sideboarding in Limited
If you’re the type of player to just glance at your sideboard before shuffling up for Game 2, you are missing out big time. Reid will show you the error of your ways and set you up to win more games!

A. E. Marling judges the flavor aspect of Fate Reforged
Unlike most discussions on the Vorthos side of Magic where people are content to just criticize their way through a set, Marling offers some clever improvements and insight into the world behind the cards. A great article!

Owen Turtenwald discusses 4 misplays he made at GP Denver
Learning from your own mistakes is valuable, but learning from another’s can save you the trouble of actually making them in the first place! With a player of Owen’s calibre, it’s always useful to get an insight into his thought process, but be careful about overthinking certain situations!

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa answers questions on what it’s like to be a Pro player
While PV’s results have lately been lackluster, he has been producing some really informative and entertaining articles. He discusses what it’s like to be a Pro player here, from the financial viability to his (non)-flamboyant lifestyle. Definitely worth a read, even if you’re not considering ever going Pro. But who are we kidding? Of course you are.

Philipp Schonegger documents his 19-day Magic journey from Prague to the US
Philipp’s article reads more like an adventure than a strategy article, and while there’s definitely some strategy musings in there, you will enjoy this more if you are generally a fan of “travel stories”.

Carsten Kotter discusses the Eternal applications of the upcoming set
It seems like every set these days adds something to Legacy and/or Vintage. Will Fate Reforged be any different? Carsten definitely doesn’t think so, with everything from Pyromancer’s big brother Monastery Mentor to not-quite-there-yet combos with Rally the Ancestors.

Conley Woods wants to stop the players looking to Cruise through Modern
After some time as a serious Magic Pro, Conley seems to be well back on his mission to never play the best deck in the format. His UW Hate Bears brew might have some merit, though, especially if you’re playing in a Cruise-infested environment. The addition of Geist of Saint Traft also means that you can occasionally even kill your opponent!

Cassidy Silver talks about Tiny Leaders, a new take on Commander
If you’re looking for a funky new format to play, you could do much worse than Tiny Leaders, where your tiny Commander will lead your army of tiny Warriors (etc.) to victory.

Eric Froehlich gives you the edge in Odyssey draft
Odyssey draft may not seem like the most important format to understand, but it’s available until January 28th on MTGO, so you might as well make sure you know what the format is abou before diving in head first. Eric goes over the quality rares, uncommons, and commons, but the article does lack a bit in the depth department.

The coming weekend This weekend we will get our first chance to explore Fate Reforged, with Prerelease events all over the world starting at a minute past midnight on Saturday. Make sure you attend and come back next week to find out what people from all over the web are saying about the new set and about other Magic-related topics!


Welcome to this new blog, which will aim to provide a digest of the best Magic articles published in the last week. A new selection will be published every Thursday and it will aim to cover the previous week, as well as provide information on the events in the upcoming weekend. Enjoy and I will be really glad for any feedback!