Top Level Podcast

Join Patrick Chapin and Michael J. Flores on a Magical review of 2016.

 

Direct download: out-with-a-bang.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25pm EST

Oath of Ajani is a strategy-specific mana accelerator that might just change everything. It's great early in some decks, great late in others; just great.

Direct download: oath-of-ajani.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 11:59pm EST

A discussion of the advantages of Dark Intimations from Aether Revolt, with points of comparison like Tidings and Cruel Ultimatum.

Direct download: dark-intimations.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 1:08am EST

We know from Smuggler's Copter how good a two mana vehicle can be.

Aether Revolt is pushing that limit even more with Heart of Kiran. Make no mistake... This card might be bananas. Imagine playing Heart of Kiran on turn two, then following up with Liliana or Nissa on turn three. You can slam with the Heart of Kiran and still gain ground on the battlefield by destroying a threat or making a Plant.

There are two important things to take away from this card:

  1. You basically get to access Planeswalker loyalty twice per turn. The first use is the regular one; the second is a swing with Heart of Kiran.
  2. Because Heart of Kiran has vigilence, it can block. Got a spare loyalty? You can spring a 4/4 blocker on demand. The best thing? At least early in the Heart's career, you may be able to steal a body or two.

Some of the cards in Aether Revolt -- most notably Ajani Unyeilding -- imply a Planeswalker collective deck. Heart of Kiran might be great in that kind of deck, a two drop that comes down faster than any Planeswalker in Standard, and capable of thriving in a context rich with loyalty.

As explosive as the loyalty-leeching alternate crew cost may be, the regular crew cost on this card is challenging. Crew 3 is much harder to hit than Crew 1; Nissa was already struggling in a Smugger's Copter-first format, but at least Gideon could make 2/2 creatures. Now even [one of] Gideon's tokens need assistance. Not a fatal flaw to this card at all... But something, certainly, to be wary of as you select your creatures.

Direct download: heart-of-kiran.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 2:29am EST

Yahenni's Expertise is like a Languish married a Bloodbraid Elf

It's that time again! Top Level Podcast's favorite time... Spoiler season.

Early Aether Revolt spoilers bring us three new cards to talk about: Yahenni's Expertise, Trophy Mage, and Scrap Trawler.

Yahenni's Expertise

  • -3/-3 hits a surprisingly sweet spot in the current Standard. Not only is -3/-3 for all creatures not all that bad for 2BB, tons of the best creatures in Standard have three toughness, like Reflector Mage and Spell Queller.
  • While Yahenni's Expertise doesn't give the full -4/-4 that Languish does, the additional ability to cast a card for no additional mana might make this card a powerhouse. For example, you can sweep the board and cast a card drawing spell in one move. In Modern, you might play Yahenni's Expertise and pop an Ancestral Vision!
  • The secondary ability on Yahenni's Expertise can act as a kind of color fixing. Don't be surprised if players cheat a little with this card, splashing additional colors they wouldn't easily be able to cast.


Trophy Mage

  • Trinket Mage and Treasure Mage* have a new cousin!
  • The number of cards you can find with this is huge, varied, and highly flexible. For instance you can lock some opponents out with Ensnaring Bridge... And lock others out with Crucible of Worlds. Psst... Oblivion Stone costs three mana.

Scrap Trawler

  • Four words "Even. More. Card. Advantage."

Our first stab at Aether Revolt!

* Incidentally, Patrick made Top 8 of PT Paris a few years ago packing Treasure Mage for Mindslaver and Wurmcoil Engine only!

Direct download: yahennisexpertise.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:48am EST

Happy Thanksgiving from Top Level Podcast!

Direct download: bestintheworld.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:14am EST


Say Blood Moon wins the last big Modern event. What's the plan? How about we go UrzaTron with 4 Karn Liberated?

Before we start...

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Okay... So part of this is just Tom Ross. How is Tom Ross a real person / Magic: The Gathering player? Tom's reaction to Blood Moon winning Grand Prix Dallas was to play an even slower deck that relied on not just nonbasic lands... But getting three particular nonbasic lands onto the battlefield!

Part of it is that Tom correctly assessed that people would prepare for Blood Moon decks, maybe making decks good against anti-Blood Moon decks that much better. It turned out he was right!

G/W Tron over G/R Tron

The main [deck] reason to play green-white UrzaTron instead of the more traditional green-red build is Path to Exile. That is, Tom played Path to Exile over Pyroclasm in the starting sixty.

Three copies of a spot removal card is hardly the whole point, though. Not only does the Tron deck manage Path to Exile better than almost any other deck (who cares if the opponent gets one extra basic land when you are tapping yours for three?), it makes much better use of the white mana... Just elsewhere.

  • Rest in Peace - Tom's sideboard featured Rest in Peace, a powerful supplement to the main deck's Relic of Progenitus and another great spell against Dredge.
  • Blessed Alliance - Blessed Alliance is a really flexible card here that really blunts the advantage Burn decks have often had against Ramp ones. Blessed Alliance doesn't just counter a Boros Charm, it can surprise the opponent with a Wurmcoil Engine or smite a Tarmogoyf.

Seven is big, and they just get bigger

The natural one-two-three is Urza's Tower, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Mine in some order. That allows you to tap for seven mana with just three lands, or the cost of a Karn Liberated.

On eight mana you get Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and ten mana gives you Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Seemingly every play from there allows you to go "over the top" of a fair opponent's game plan. It's just about hitting your lands, and then landing almost any hitter to win.

Karn Liberated is only one answer to Blood Moon

There are a ton of direct answers to Blood Moon in Tom's deck, incidentally... Karn can remove a Blood Moon from the battlefield, as can either Ugin or Ulamog. Casting those cards might be tough under a Blood Moon, though (and World Breaker might be even tougher with its colored mana in seven). However Oblivion Ring costs just three mana to start. If Tom is not under substantial life points pressure, he can work an Oblivion Ring to really asymmetrical advantage. It can free up his lands from under Blood Moon easily, regardless.

The deck has a good number of answers to obvious threats and strategies. Main deck Relic of Progenitus can give Dredge fits, while Spellskite will have an Infect player's head scratching. Tom's deck isn't necessarily about locking out a game forever... Some of these tools are just there to buy time; remember - given a window to make a play, it's unlikely there is one on the other side of the table better than one of Tom's.

Plenty of G/W Torn, but More Modern in "Karn Liberated and the Answer to a Blood Moon Victory"

 

Direct download: karn-liberated.mp3
Category:Modern -- posted at: 11:58pm EST

Skred. R. Instant. Skred deals damage to target creature equal to the number of snow permanents you control. A Coldsnap Role Player takes the Modern stage!

Direct download: skred-red.mp3
Category:Modern -- posted at: 12:34am EST

Verdurous Gearhulk and Ishkanah, Grafwidow are both formidable five drops. With multiple successful versions of Delirium, which should prove the Staple?

Direct download: verdurous-gearhulk.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 8:47pm EST

Here's the thing -- Prized Amalgam costs 1UB. One BLUE Black. The deck doesn't even have blue mana! It can't cast Prized Amalgam, only kill you with it.

Direct download: prized-amalgam.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 1:06am EST

Sorry beatdown boys... It looks like this is /actually/ a Torrential Gearhulk format! Find out about the Pro Tour's hot Torrential Gearhulk decks here.

Direct download: torrential-gearhulk.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 11:04pm EST

Two big topics on this week's cast! 1: We revisit Schools of Magic per a Sean O'Brien Patreon request, and 2: Blossoming Defense and more Kaladesh in Modern

Direct download: blossoming-defense.mp3
Category:Modern -- posted at: 11:22pm EST

There were 32 copies of Smuggler's Copter -- the maximum number -- in the first SCG Open Top 8 with Kaladesh. Play any Smuggler's Copter deck you want.

Direct download: smugglers-copter.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:29am EST

Is new Kaladesh card Madcap Experiment too good in Modern? Learn about a sweet one-card combo that might just make it so!

Direct download: madcap-experiment.mp3
Category:Modern -- posted at: 12:44am EST

Kaladesh is going to make Magic fast again... And Toolcraft Exemplar will be one of the best, and fastest (and not just in Standard).

Direct download: toolcraft-exemplar.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:10am EST

Voltaic Brawler will be the centerpiece of a new Energy Aggro deck.

Direct download: pure-energy.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:24am EST

Combustible Gearhulk completes the Kaladesh Gearhulk Cycle

 

 

Direct download: combustible-gearhulk.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 2:38am EST

New set Kaladesh brings with it three (five?) great new Planeswalkers. Pro Tour Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin and Michael J Flores walk through new Nissa, new Chandra; other new Nissa, other new Chandra + Saheeli Rai in this podcast.

Direct download: Planeswalkers-of-Kaladesh.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:18am EST

Wild Nacatl potentially pushes Naya Burn from "Lava Spike Deck" to "Red Aggro" in terms of macro archetype. What are the trade-offs for this move in Modern?

Direct download: wild-nacatl.mp3
Category:Modern -- posted at: 5:25am EST

Patrick Chapin and Michael J Flores explore exciting and powerful decks that DIDN'T make the Top 8 of the Star City Invitational in New Jersey. In particular the U/G Crush of Tentacles archetype had two players with 7-1 records or better... And of course there was Shaheen Soorani with an undefeated Esper Control...

Direct download: crush-of-tentacles.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 2:43pm EST

Birds of Paradise. G. Creature - Bird. Flying. T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. 0/1. Birds of Paradise is back in Conspiracy: Take the Crown!

Direct download: birds-of-paradise.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 1:51am EST

Distended Mindbender fills in for Elder Deep-Fiend this week in Jund Delirium, a good stuff -- even "great" stuff -- deck that combines Emerge, B/G Delirirum, and Kozilek's Return into one of the most high quality (and anti-Bant Company) decks in the format.

Direct download: distended-mindbender.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 3:02am EST

Mike and Patrick explore the top decks from Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, including a couple with Elder Deep-Fiend as their centerpieces.

Direct download: elder-deep-fiend.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 10:19pm EST

Pro Tour Champion.

Grand Prix Champion.

Now... SCG Open Champion!

Osyp Lebedowicz took down the Baltimore Open with a G/W Tokens deck that used no new Eldritch Moon cards... But his utilization of Tragic Arrogance as a three-of main deck might have been even more innovative. 

Patrick Chapin and Michael J Flores discuss.

Direct download: tragic-arrogance.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 10:17pm EST

A discussion of the immediate format-warping effects of Eldritch Moon's Spell Queller!

Direct download: spell-queller.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 12:02am EST

Should Vampires play mono-red?

Should Vampires play mono-black?

Eldritch Moon puts the kibosh on both ideas by giving us Bloodhall Priest. Bloodhall Priest is on-theme, on-mechanic, and on-tribe for both black and red, encouraging a light splash in either. It is part Obstinate Baloth, part Murderous Redcap, and part Inferno Titan... But all awesome for either black or red vampires.

Direct download: bloodhall-priest.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:27am EST

Patrick and Michael talk Bedlam Reveler, tons of additional red cards, red vampires, black vampires, and revisit the colorless emerge wing of Eldritch Moon in “Floor, Ceiling, Bedlam Reveler”. Give it a listen!

 

Direct download: bedlam-reveler.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 10:05pm EST

Liliana, the Last Hope Joins the Gatewatch

Pro Tour Champion Patrick Chapin and Resident Genius Michael J Flores discuss Liliana, the Last Hope; Oath of Liliana; and a number of other flashy cards from Eldritch Moon in "Liliana, the Last Hope Joins the Gatewatch".

Direct download: liliana-the-last-hope.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:07am EST

Direct download: fortunes-favor.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 1:53am EST

Gisela, the Broken Blade. 2WW. Legendary Creature - Angel Horror. 4/3. Flying, first strike, lifelink. At the beginning of your end step, if you both own...

Direct download: gisela-the-broken-blade.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 11:32pm EST

Emrakul, the Promised End highlights the beginning of Eldritch Moon spoiler season

Direct download: emrakul-the-promised-end.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:02am EST

Direct download: mikes-mini-deck-doctor.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 10:55pm EST

Direct download: karakas.mp3
Category:Legacy -- posted at: 12:04am EST

Direct download: izzet-time-to-go-rogue.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 10:40pm EST

Goblin Dark-Dwellers. 3RR. Creature - Goblin. Menace. When Goblin Dark-Dwellers enters the battlefield, you may cast target instant or sorcery card...

Direct download: goblin-dark-dwellers.mp3
Category:Modern -- posted at: 10:42pm EST

"Toxic Deluge. Two and a black. OWN your opponent." -Patrick Chapin

Direct download: toxic-deluge.mp3
Category:Legacy -- posted at: 11:11pm EST

The Gitrog Monster allows you to win on turn five, immediately. Here’s how…

 

Dakmor Salvage + Seismic Assault + The Gitrog Monster

Direct download: the-gitrog-monster.mp3
Category:Modern -- posted at: 11:18pm EST

Direct download: eldrazi-displacer.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 10:20pm EST

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is one of the best, most important creatures in Standard...

So why are we calling Kalitas poor and unappreciated?

Direct download: kalitas-traitor-of-ghet.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 9:46pm EST

Drownyard Temple. T: Add to your mana pool. 3: Return Drownyard Temple from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped.

Direct download: drownyard-temple.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 9:18pm EST

Direct download: thraben-inspector.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 11:18pm EST

Always Watching. 1WW. Enchantment. Nontoken creatures you control get +1/+1 and have vigilance. 


MichaelJ and Patrick go over a ton of new decks featuring this card as well as Jim Davis's Bant Collected Company deck, all from last weekend's Open.

Direct download: always-watching.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 10:15pm EST

Eye of Ugin was banned in Modern this week!

 

 

The macro storyline here is this: The Eldrazi deck in Modern was too good. It was the best on a number of dimensions, but most folks looking in would identify a deck full of Sol Rings pumping out de facto undercosted threats. Something was going to give (and almost certainly from the mana front).

 

Direct download: eye-of-ugin.mp3
Category:Modern -- posted at: 10:13pm EST

Declaration in Stone. Sorcery. Exile target creature and all other creatures its controller controls with the same name as that creature. That player...

Direct download: declaration-in-stone.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 10:39pm EST

Arlinn Kord is a spectacular new Planeswalker from Shadows over Innistrad. Find out how to play Arlinn Kord and Sorin, Grim Nemesis here!

Direct download: arlinn-kord.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 10:11pm EST

"Nahiri, the Harbinger is not obviously super powerful." -Mike "I think Nahiri, the Harbinger is obviously super powerful." -Patrick Well... Which is it?

Direct download: nahiri-the-harbinger.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:58am EST

Epiphany at the Drownyard Exclusive Preview! Find out how players will draw (lots of) cards come Shadows Over Innistrad with this flexible new blue instant.

Direct download: epiphany-at-the-drownyard.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 9:06pm EST

Patrick and Michael discuss Archangel Avacyn, Thing in the Ice, and other exciting new spoiled cards from Shadows Over Innistrad.

Direct download: archangel-avacyn.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 9:58pm EST

Hardened Scales came seemingly out of nowhere to place multiple finishers in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Houston. Find out what finally made Hardened Scales.

Direct download: hardened-scales.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 9:38pm EST

Pulse of Murasa is a cheap and easy splash for a surprising number of decks. It can help break rules and help fight beatdown decks... Surprise!

Direct download: pulse-of-murasa.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 10:04pm EST

Pro Tour Champion and Pro Tour Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin joins MichaelJ in a discussion of the Magic Online Championship Series (MOCS) Standard decks.

Direct download: MOCS.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 9:47pm EST

Reality Smasher smashed its way into six of the Top 8 best performances from PT Oath of the Gatewatch! Learn about these decks & how to beat Reality Smasher

Direct download: reality-smasher.mp3
Category:Modern -- posted at: 9:50pm EST

Mike and Patrick talk tons and tons about Thopter Engineeer, but also Rally the Ancestors, Reflector Mage, and Collected Company decks and more in this cast

Direct download: thopter-engineer.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 9:53pm EST

Reckless Bushwhacker is a new Goblin Warrior Ally from Oath of the Gatewatch that helped win the very first StarCityGames.com Standard Open, once made legal

Direct download: reckless-bushwhacker.mp3
Category:Standard -- posted at: 9:45pm EST

Patrick and Mike go over some quick hits from Oath of the Gatewatch! How do you cost Oath of Chandra? More Volcanic Hammer or more Searing Blood?

Direct download: oath-of-chandra2.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 12:55am EST

Is Remorseless Punishment the Next Cruel Ultimatum? And is 64 the New 60? A discussion of Oath of the Gatewatch and Ben Rubin's controversial Abzan deck!

Direct download: remorseless-punishment.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 8:43pm EST

Oath of Nissa from Oath of the Gatewatch is sure to be one of the highest impact cards in Standard and larger formats. Learn more about this new enchantment

Direct download: oath-of-nissa.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 10:01pm EST

Warping Wail is Top Level Podcast's exclusive preview via Oath of the Gatewatch. Find out why Warping Wail will be a "whale" of an instant "warping" formats

Direct download: warping-wail.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 3:16pm EST

Jori En, Ruin Diver has got to be one of the top cards in Oath of the Gatewatch! But Spacial Contortion is the one that'll re-write the rules of deck design

Direct download: jori-en-ruin-diver.mp3
Category:New Cards -- posted at: 7:31pm EST

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