Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This Week in Magic - going on a break

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, This Week in Magic is going on break for a while. :( If you have the time and energy to work on continuing this project, let us know in the comments and hopefully we can come to some arrangement!

Until then, have fun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

This week in Magic - Tournament reports and Standard brewing

News and week recap

This week featured GP Seville/Dorne, a tournament that showcased some of the top decks in Standard. A relatively small tournament by recent standards, it was attended by only 800 players, but it was a blast to watch nonetheless. The finals were a clash of Abzan Aggro against UB Control, showcasing two of the powerhouses of the format. An exciting recent addition to the coverage team, Riley Knight from Australia, was one of the commentators at the event, and he brought a refreshing new approach to the commentary. Check out the entire coverage!

The new Duel deck to be released will be Elspeth vs. Kiora and the next From the Vault will bring about a host of Angels. Make sure to check those out, and test your knowledge on the Angels with a short quiz!

As can be expected after a big tournament such as Pro Tour Washington, a lot of articles written this week have focused on that. On the other hand, the most important format once again is Standard, so we have some nice new brews in that format as well. Coming up we have a weekend chock full of tournaments, with GPs in Miami (Standard) and Vancouver (Modern), as well as an SCG Open in Los Angeles. Enjoy reading!


The state of Modern by Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Matt Sperling
In the wake of the Pro Tour, a lot of people have talked about the Modern metagame, the decks, sideboards, (un)bannings, etc. Paulo, on the other hand, expressed his views - shared by several others - on why he feels that Modern is not a good format right now. This has prompted a lot of debate and Matt wrote a rebuttal article. Is Modern really all about drawing the right sideboard answer? Or is it about taking risks and making well-educated guesses? Is Paulo just salty due to his recent lackluster performance? Is Matt just being his usual snarky self? You tell us!

Loam Lion sucks, by Pat Cox feat. Luis Scott-Vargas
5-Color Zoo has been a deck that has popped up in Modern ever since the format's inception. From the Counter Cat version that dominated enough to warrant the banning of Green Sun's Zenith, to the more burn-oriented versions running Tribal Flames, it makes a lot of sense that a deck with access to all five colors will have a lot of variants available. Is it possible that the deck is good again? Pat certainly thinks so, but Luis might have a thing or two to say about that...

Martin Juza's PT Washington tournament report
Martin's article is not a typical tournament report per se, with very little focus on the gameplay itself. it does, however, contain extensive notes on the huge amount of decks that are potentially viable in the format, as well as the reasons why a lot of them are (or appear to be, in Martin's eyes), a bad choice. Sometimes it's good to read a critical article like this, to give you a reality check on your deck choice.


The antiquated effect by Mark Nestico
The defining characteristic of Standard as compared to other formats is the speed at which the format shifts. Sure, you can take the same brew week after week to your local FNM, but if you want to succeed at the big stage, you have to stay ahead of the curve. Mark shares some insight into how the best players do just that.

Matt Higgs goes crazy with Artifacts
It seems kind of weak to go mono-color in a format featuring so many powerful multicolor cards, but Matt aims to assuage this by building on a different, but also powerful synergy - artifacts. Renowned Weaponsmith and Chief Engineer can provide insane acceleration, but the threats they power out might just be a tad too soft. If only Ugin were an Artifact...


Carsten Kotter opens the Gifts of Vintage
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the changes to the Banned/Restricted list. While the main focus was on the changes to Modern, Vintage saw the return of an old favorite, Gifts Ungiven, to the domain of potential 4-offs. But can it even compete with Jace, the Mindsculptor? Carsten makes a strong case of it being even better than the mighty Planeswalker!

CFB's pick order for Fate Reforged, as recorded by Tom Martell
When the time comes to prepare for a big tournament, nothing beats playtesting with the best players in the world. What might come in close, however, is reading a condensed version of their thoughts. Sure, don't just take this article as gospel - think about it, evaluate what you've learned, and form your own opinion. Your game is sure to take and upward swing!

Conley Woods urges you to stay Golden in draft
As we saw at the Pro Tour, a lot of the best players are opting to go 2-color in draft, but Conley has a lot to say on the strength of decks featuring a host of colors. Grabbing the best cards and the lands to cast them can be fun and rewarding, so why not try it out at your next FNM?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

This week in Magic - Magic Origins, MKM tournament series


Last week featured Pro Tour Washington, which was won by Antonio Del Moral Leon, the first Spaniard ever to win a Pro Tour! The new/old Modern that we saw in Washington seems diverse, bringing some very exciting new cards to the "viable" card pool. And as is always the case at Pro Tours, Wizards uses the opportunity to showcase new stuff they've been cooking up. This time, they introduced Magic Origins, a set that will focus on the background stories of five beloved Planeswalkers: Gideon, Jace, Liliana, Chandra, and Garruk. If you missed the coverage of the Pro Tour, you can watch it all on the official YouTube channel.

This weekend will feature Grand Prix Seville, so we're sure to see interesting new developments in Standard. Seville also happens to be one of the shooting locations of HBO's Game of Thrones - the Alcázar palace complex will serve as the Water gardens of Dorne - so if you're attending the GP and are a fan of the show, make sure you take the time to go sightseeing!

Another important piece of exciting news this week concerns the tournament scene in Europe. The continent has notably lacked a series of competitive events, such as those organised by Star City Games in the United States. It seems like this is finally changing - MagicCardMarket has announced their official tournament series, the first of which will take place in Rome on April 10-12.

Since the pros were busy with the Pro Tour, there haven't been as many articles this month, so we've done our best to come up with a strong, if slightly shorter, selection. Enjoy

Competitive articles

Sam Pardee introduces the Little Kid to Modern
The Channel Fireball pro players were adamant that the most popular deck at Pro Tour Washington was going to be Junk/Abzan, and one of the ways to beat it is with Little Kid - a GW Township deck with a fast clock, resilient threats, and a bit of disruption. I don't think the matchups are as good as Sam claims, but it's a powerful deck with more thought behind it than might seem at first glance.

Frank Lepore gives Modern Elves a spin
One of the interesting decks to share the spotlight at the Pro Tour feature match area was Elves! It's a relatively high variance deck, one that swings between doing nothing one game and completely smashing the opponent with infinite mana the next. Frank plays several games on Magic Online against various decks, which can give you a feel for how the deck plays out, but don't expect the most technical play level.

AJ Sacher analyses a game from the Top 8 of PT Washington
Watching some excellent players play a game of Magic is good, but AJ gives you something extra, with a detailed analysis of how the game plays out, why the players make the plays they do, and what he considers were the mistakes they had done in that game. There are improvements that could be made - better graphics and better montage, cutting out some of the dead time, would have made the video more exciting to watch. That said, the commentary is detailed and fun, so looking forward to more of these!
Adrian Sullivan adapts the Death and Taxes deck to the new Legacy metagame
Legacy is a format that doesn't change all that fast, so decks tend to stay viable for a long time. There are still changes, though, so it's vital that you adapt your build to what you're expecting to face. Death and Taxes is a deck that makes up in synergy and understanding the metagame what the individual cards lack in raw power. Keep your D&T deck up to date with the help of Adrian's article!

Other articles

Gavin Verhey features Ugin, the Villain
Gavin regularly posts articles where he explores one of the decks that readers had submitted to him. This time, the theme of the deck had to be Sultai (since that is the theme of the week on the mothership, the website) and the winning deck looks like a blast to play! Dictate of Karametra can power out not only Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, but also Villainous Wealth. I'd look to add some Frontier Sieges for more acceleration, though.

Bennie Smith builds a Shu Yun Commander deck
Shu Yun is a fun new Legendary creature, one that will force you to navigate between the needs of having plenty of creatures to buff, and plenty of non-creature spells to buff them with. Most articles about Commander decks tend to run quite long and almost always boring, but Bennie has a pleasant writing style and a wealth of links to his other articles at the end.

Chris Landsell brews with the cool new cards from Fate Reforged
It's somewhat ironic that Chris's article is called "brews for everyone", as they're certainly not by everyone's taste, but he has put together a couple of funky brews. His UR build, Riddle Master, aims to burn out with Riddle of Lightning, a card that first featured in Future Sight. On the other hand, his Sultai Control deck, aptly called Salty Bananas, seeks to abuse the powerful one-two punch of Tasigur and Torrent Elemental.

Mark Rosewater answers questions on Manifest
Manifest is a complex mechanic and it's natural that players will have questions about it. Who better to answer them than Mark, who has a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of the game? If there's something about Manifest that still confuses you - be it the rules, the flavor, or how it was designed - check out Mark's article and you might just find the answer you're looking for!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

This week in Magic - Pro Tour Washington

This weekend will feature Pro Tour Washington, one of the top events of the year! There will be live coverage of the event on Twitch, as well as lots of regular coverage. The event starts on Friday at 9 am EST (event time for all time zones) and will culminate with the Top 8 coverage on Sunday. The format for the event is Modern and Draft, so check out the coverage for a fun and exciting event! You can also read Rich Hagon's preview article or Gavin Verhey's musings on the mothership.

As is usually the case with a big tournament coming up, the Pro players are busy testing and unwilling to write about what they will be playing, so many of this week's articles focus on other topics, such as flavor, or teaching others how to play Magic. We've still managed to put together a nice mix that should provide you all with plenty of entertaining reading!


Conley Woods brews up a monster with Soulflayer
Soulflayer seems like the type of card that is just waiting for someone to break it, and if there is one person that is also going to have fun doing it, it's Conley Woods. Chromanticore and a God in the graveyard when you cast the Soulflayers will definitely result in fun times, so it just remains to be seen whether the deck can be consistent enough.

Anthony Lowry discusses two Standard decks
Decks that try to power out an early bomb such as Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, can be very vulnerable and clunky when things don't quite fall into place - perhaps you don't draw your bomb, of the acceleration doesn't quite get you all the way to eight mana. Anthony looks to play around this by  merging Ugin into an already powerful GB Constellation shell.

Caleb Durward invites you to try UR Delver
Wait, what? Yes, UR Delver. Sure, the deck took a hude hit with the loos of Treasure Cruise, but it is still a powerful and consistent deck that rewards tight technical skill and a strong understanding of different matchups. Caleb provides an interesting way to combat Siege Rhino, though the Flashfreezes almost definitely belong in the sideboard.

Shuuhei Nakamura features the previous Modern bad guy, Jund
Jund used to be the oppresive deck of Modern, but with the bannings of Bloodbraid Elf and Deathrite Shaman, has fallen to the wayside. Now, with Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time gone, players will need to find new toys to play with - or old ones, for that matter. Jund could be a great choice and Shuuhei explains why that is so.

Picking a better deck with Matt Sperling
Matt is traditionally a very direct and critical author, who also manages to keep his articles amusing - and sometimes, downright hilarious. This article puts a lot of emphasis on theory, as opposed to practice, so it definitely isn't for everyone. He does his best to move away from the sharp nature of his usual writing here, which I think benefits the piece greatly.


Florian Koch interviews the new member of team CFB - Guillaume Matignon
Guillaume is an old-school player who has had a lot more experience on the Pro Tour than at the Grand Prix scene. He was suspended a few years ago for divulging information about an upcoming Magic set, but he is back now and testing with one of the best teams in the world. Want to learn more about him?

Abe Sergeant gives tips on how to enter Commander on a budget
Starting a deck in a new format can be intimidating and expensive and Commander is no exception. From dual lands to planeswalkers, the format features some of the more powerful and costly cards in Magic, so getting an edge on the competition can often be about picking up the undervalued cards and trading them off at a premium later. Abe has some ideas and though some are suspect, others are solid hits.

Mike Linnemann explores the maps of Dominaria
I'll be the first to admit to have never seen a map of one of the worlds featured in Magic before. Mike's article, however, introduces a wealth of art, story, and renewed sense of exploration that comes from seeing strange and new places spread before you. Dive deep into Terisiare or Jamuraa, explore The Stronghold, or find out where the Durkwood Boars roam.

Natasha Lewis Harrington on how to teach others Magic
Magic is not just a game for grown-ups - I know, shocking, right? It can be a great tool to learn for children, and a nice way for adults to connect with them. Like Matt's article above, Natasha's also focuses on a lot of theory.