Fri, 14 July 2017
Resilient Khenra is one of several aggressive cards covered in this beatdown-oriented episode.
Hour of Devastation brings several aggressive options to Standard. We've mostly talked about powerhouse cards like Hour of Devastation [the card], or big ramp spells like Hour of Promise so far... But the new set can also turn a mean Jackal sideways!
Resilient Khenra: Greater than Grizzly Bears
To start, this card is a 2/2 creature for 1G... Any text on it is going to put it past the classic Grizzly Bears.
As it is, giving a creature +2/+2 one time is comparable to a 2/2 haste creature, according to Patrick.
The question is whether you can afford to play Resilient Khenra in a world that has optimized out Duskwatch Recruiter and Sylvan Advocate. We think... Maybe.
For one thing, Sylvan Advocate has largely lost on the presence of Fatal Push. Later in the game, when Sylvan Advocate is meant to get big, it still has a tiny two in the top-right... Making it a great target for Fatal Push.
Resilient Khenra doesn't have the same problem. It leaves a body, yes, but pushing the tempo with its 187 buff effect is the main reason you choose this card.
Resilient Khenra post-Adorned Pouncer
One of the things that makes this creature so attractive is its ability to synergize with Adorned Pouncer.
If you start on an Adorned Pouncer, and follow up with Resilient Khenra, you don't merely get +2/+2... You get to exploit the double strike on Adorned Pouncer. So for only two mana, you get four extra damage (and keep the Jackal Wizard body).
Later in the game, the two creatures' Eternalize abilities curve one into the next. Adorned Pouncer costs five to Eternalize, and Resilient Khenra costs six. In the late-game case, Resilient Khenra provides +4/+4 due to the token's superior size, so the multiplier is that much more dangerous.
Appeal // Authority in Tokens, or Anywhere
The G/W color combination isn't limited to Eternalize guys in Hour of Devastation. What about Appeal // Authority?
In a tokens deck specifically, Appeal can deal a huge amount of extra damage for only one mana, while Authority hearkens back to Alexander Hayne's Block Constructed PT win from a few years back.
Together, they may make a splash. Luckily, they're always together.
Give it all a listen:
Fri, 7 July 2017
Hour of Devastation is the card red control decks have always wanted.
Hour of Devastation deals 5 damage to each creature...
Red has long had the ability to deal two to three points of damage to multiple creatures for about three mana. Examples include Standard Staples like Kozilek's Return, Radiant Flames, or Sweltering Suns.
But five damage?
Historically, red mages would have had to pay seven or more mana for a big sweep like this. Worse yet, in earlier eras, they would have to take five damage themselves! Earthquake, for example, only hit non-flying creatures.
From these perspectives, Hour of Devastation is really something special.
Blah blah blah... Each non-Bolas Planeswalker
One of the fantastic aspects of Hour of Devastation is how it can deal with Planeswalkers.
Forget about the fact that it can deal with Planeswalkers directly at all, the fail state of this card falls into a convenient place. What is the kind of deck where you would want Hour of Devastation? Something like Zombies, right? A deck where the opponent plays multiple creatures, that sometimes get big... The ability to deal five to all of them is quite attractive against Zombies.
But what about when you don't want a big creature sweeper? Oftentimes, the opposite number to Zombies will be a Control deck. Those decks will very often give you one or more Planeswalkers to kill, especially board control decks.
Hour of Devastation works great in Grixis
This set is very Grixis-oriented. There is a Grixis themed cycle of Gods, and of course the God Pharaoh is in Grixis colors.
Hour of Devastation (red) is highly complimentary to other key Grixis cards. For example, this card does five... And Torrential Gearhulk has six toughness. It's one thing for Torrential Gearhulk to live through the Hour... But what about being able to swing directly?
And more! Much more! in "Hour of Devastation is the Best of the Bunch":
Fri, 30 June 2017
The Locst God may be on the art, but our bet is that Hour of Promise will be ushering in Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
Hour of Promise is no Explosive Vegetation
Mike initially misreads Hour of Devastation as an overcosted Explosive Vegetation. It's not a surprising mistake. Explosive Vegetation costs four, but Hour of Promise costs five. They both go and get two lands; Hour of Promise sometimes makes two zombies.
Oh wait... basic.
That is, unlike Explosive Vegetation, Hour of Promise can search up any lands, not just more Forests or whatever!
Example: Go and get two copies of Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
If you can cast Hour of Promise, the implication is that you have five lands in play. If you get two copies of Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, you'll then have seven lands in play, meaning you can tap for nine.
All you have to do is hit your land drop next turn to have ten mana for Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger!
Hour of Promise is More a Thalia's Lancers than an Explosive Vegetation
Mike loves to mark for 4/4 creatures for five mana that have a cool or card advantageous abilities.
Hour of Promise is like one of those, but possibly better. Why? Instead of one 4/4 creature, your payoff is two 2/2 creatures. Two 2/2s are sometimes more useful than just one 4/4, but Hour of Promise generates about the same amount of power and toughness.
The "Desert" Clause isn't that big a deal
All you need is one Desert in your first five lands and you'll be dripping in Zombie tokens!
Why? You can just go and get two other Deserts and put them on the battlefield. Now, armed with three Deserts in play, you will soon the be the owner of a pair of Zombie tokens.
The deck design implications are open to explore. Do you want to play lots of Deserts? That would increase your chances of having a Desert in play on turn five. Or, you might only play three total Deserts. Card selection aside, you will have a lot of specialty lands fighting for space in your mana base... You might not have room for too many Deserts.
Pro Tour Champion Patrick Chapin and Resident Genius Michael J. Flores cover many more Hour of Devastation cards in this great podcast. Two words: "horse tribal" ... Check it out now!
Fri, 23 June 2017
Doomfall is an extremely flexible, potentially main-deck, card.
Meet the Cruel Edict
Doomfall costs one more mana than Cruel Edict, but even beyond its ability to act as a discard spell, there may be good reason to pay three instead of two.
Rather than merely destroying a creature (as Cruel Edict did), Doomfall exiles it. That is bad news for Scrapheap Scrounger decks! Any creatures that rely on durability or coming back from the dead might have problems with it (e.g. The Scorpion God)
Playing as Transgress the Mind
Again, we see a card that, at 2b, costs a little more than Transgress the Mind. Part of that is just a tax levied against the creature removal side of the spell (you can't very well have a functional reprint of Staple Transgress the Mind that also kills creatures).
But the reality is, Doomfall is not "just" a reprint of Transgress the Mind. It costs one additional mana, but on the other hand you can take anything, rather than only cards that conform to a particular mana profile. That might not feel like it's worth three mana in isolation... But you've always got the Edict opion!
Ultimately, it Can Get Everybody
This card lets you beat a combo deck with creature removal, or kill an attacker with your extra Duress.
Thu, 22 June 2017
To be honest The Scorpion God is actually near the end of the episode... Still great.
Buckle up for a full-on Hour of Devastation episode! Patrick and Michael hit on tons and tons of cards (and will be back with their own Hour of Devastation preview tomorrow).
The Defeat Cycle
The Defeat Cycle (Jace's Defeat, Gideon's Defeat, etc.) is a quintet of fast color hosers. Most will be Staple in Standard, with a couple of them likely growing up to be cross-format All-Stars (Liliana's Defeat especially).
Nissa's Defeat creates a privileged position for green creatures and adds a three-mana Stone Rain back into Standard.
Adorned Pouncer and Eternalize
Adorned Pouncer is strictly superior to Fencing Ace
Fencing Ace was a good card. It was played as Staple in Jeskai buff decks, and at least a Role Player in Bant Hexproof.
Adorned Pouncer is everything Fencing Ace was... and Also a Cat. And also has Eternalize.
Would you pay five mana for just the 4/4 double striker? Patrick wouldn't. Mike would at least look at it. That the boys are even having this discussion should tell you how good Adorned Pouncer will be.
Thank goodness for Gideon's Defeat's exile clause! Magma Spray will continue to do work.
The Scorpion God
The Scorpion God is like three different engines.
If you just start with 6/5 for five mana... But with this level of resilience... It's at least worth a conversation. A 6/5 body for five mana isn't too bad; and if you can't kill it?
There are two other abilities, still.
The Scorpion God can mow down a ton of small creatures (and probably draw cards at the same time). It can also shoot at big creatures to get them small enough to tussle with and draw).
This summary doesn't do justice to "The Scorpion God is Just the Beginning" ... The only way to hear everything we're thinking about Hour of Devastation right now, you best give a listen!
Fri, 9 June 2017
Bontu's Last Reckoning costs three mana. That's great! Isn't it?
What a difference a week makes!
... Depending on what continent you are on.
The Return of Spell Queller in Manila
The biggest disconnect with recent history IN THE WORLD took place at Grand Prix Manila. We saw the return of the U/W Flash deck... Now featuring Glory-Bound Initiate.
The U/W Flash archetype (and friends like Esper Vehicles) benefit somewhat by a decline in popularity of Mardu Vehicles... Our assessment is that the Heart of Kiran in Mardu Vehicles would run over the comparatively clunky U/W.
But U/W Flash is not about fighting Mardu. Aetherworks Marvel, on the other hand, is a perfect victim of Spell Queller. Basically, Dispel and Negate are the most common "cover" spells for Aetherworks Marvel at five and six mana, respectively... You can neither Negate nor Dispel a Spell Queller. On the other hand, Spell Queller's 2/3 body is perfect for putting Marvel on a clock.
Ulvenwald Hydra and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
No surprise that Aetherworks Marvel took down a US Grand Prix this weekend past.
No surprise that Standard master Brad Nelson was at the winning deck's helm.
What's cool? What's different?
Brad used Ulvenwald Hydra to great effect in his build's sideboard... Kind of "the difference that makes the difference."
Basically, Ulvenwald Hydra was Brad's "Nissa's Renewwal" ... An expensive green creature, but not nearly as expensive as Ulmamog. Brad could use the Hydra to make a huge threat on its own, but also as an accelerator. If he got Shrine of the Forsaken Gods he would be one two mana closer to hard casting any Ulamogs stuck in his hand.
Dissenter's Deliverance is the Choice of Champions
Bontu's Last Reckoning and Our First Look at Hour of Devastation
In addition to lots of decks from three Grand Prix across three continents we hit on the three now-known cards from Hour of Devastation. The most interesting topic for this section is probably around the cost of Bontu's Last Reckoning.
Ostensibly, this card costs three mana. That means that it has some synergy with Goblin Dark-Dwellers or certain Expertise cards. It would be a mistake to say that it is just a cheaper Damnation; the fact that it costs three is less of an advantage in most games (how big or dangerous are the creatures coming at you on turn three versus turn four). If you cast it later in the game, the mana restriction is actually pretty disadvantageous.
Net-net, though, we think it will be heavily played.
Fri, 28 April 2017
It might not look it at first glance, but Anointed Procession is going to enable infinite everything.
Sensei's Diving Top - Banned in Legacy!
Patrick and MichaelJ open on a tearful* goodbye to Sensei's Divining Top. While the Top has drawn some bad press due to eating up the clock in recent years, there is no denying its contribution to a number of impossibly inventive decks. Cards from Kodama's Reach to Shrapnel Blast to Counterbalance have all reached the top of the metagame.
Speaking of Banned Cards...
What will be obvious to you listening to this podcast is that the boys recorded "Anointed Procession Makes the Next Infinite Combo" before this week's last minute addendum to the Banned and Restricted list.
So yes, Patrick does a little Felidar Guardian + Liliana brewing... But there are still lots of other great nuggets in this episode (we think).
Going Infinite with Anointed Procession
Anointed Procession + Eldrazi Displacer + Drowner of Hope is an infinite combo.
How does this work?
With Anointed Procession on the battlefield, Drowner of Hope will make four 1/1 tokens rather than just two.
It costs three total mana to activate Eldrazi Displacer; three mana will blink Drowner of Hope, putting the aforementioned four tokens into play. That means that you can net one token per cycle (again assuming Anointed Procession is there).
This combination gives you as many Icy Manipulators as you would like... Except they can also attack for infinite damage.
The advantage of this combination is that Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope are actually "good cards" rather than just combination pieces. After all, even if Anointed Procession is not part of your equation, Drowner of Hope is seven power across three bodies for "just" six mana.
Even without the Eldrazi, Anointed Procession is a surprisingly effective card.
How interested would you be in Nissa, Voice of Zendikar into this enchantment? Making two 0/1 Plant tokens per activation seems like a heck of a defense. How about good old Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Anointed Procession at the same time? Did the best card of the previous format get even better?
We shall see!
Put another way, if your deck is full of token makers, Anointed Procession will increase the impact of one and all.
No, this podcast is not mostly about this cool new combo. There is also Patrick's argument that Zombies will be Tier One, Mike's continued love of cycling, and of course some misplaced metagaming around Felidar Guardian.
Give "Anointed Procession Makes the Next Infinite Combo" a listen now!
* Okay maybe not that tearful in Patrick's case.
Fri, 21 April 2017
Drake Haven will be a defining card from Amonkhet
Drake Haven might be Mike's favorite card from Amonkhet...
.. Whatever that means.
Sure, it's Lightning Rift-like (or Astral Slide-like, if you prefer). It screams to collaborate with tons and tons of cyclers printed in the vary same set. Untap with Drake Haven in play, and you have a ready-made source of defense, card advantage, and damage all at once. Mike thinks that Drake Haven could be a centerpiece of the new Standard... After all, it can counter and overwhelm Gideon, is highly synergistic with your own sweepers, and can chase down many Planeswalkers in the air, (at least when you have a turn).
But almost by definition, many playing this card will give you a window to attack.
Turn Three Kills
Flameblade Adept + Noose Constrictor + Shadow of the Grave
There are multiple variations on this kill, and some variability based on play or draw. The simple scenario works like this:
Build Your Own Baneslayer Angel
While maybe not the best against Drake Haven decks directly, White Weenie decks seems to be getting a boost from Amonkhet. Always Watching was always a powerful card to play with the little white men, but combined with the new exert mechanic? Nothing but undercosted, potentially advantageous, attackers!
Glory-Bound Initiate is a perfect option. It comes down on turn two (a turn before Always Watching) and can help you build your own Baneslayer Angel.
Glory-Bound Initiate can become 4/4 on its own, but may have to slow down. Enter Always Watching
Dozens of cards are explored in this podcast. Mike and Patrick can't wait to play Amonkhet!
Wed, 12 April 2017
Nissa, Steward of Elements is a rule breaking (or at least bending) new Planeswalker. Plus "Manglehorn is proof Lauer exists and he wants us to be happy"
Fri, 7 April 2017
New Perspectives, from Amhonkhet
MichaelJ and Patrick return for a special bonus episode! Top Level Podcast has an exclusive preview from Amonkhet.
When New Perspectives enters the battlefield, draw three cards.
New Perspectives starts more-or-less the best way a card can: By helping you draw three cards! In.
(Or, at least, we are interested in further exploration.)
Six mana is a bit steep for the ability to draw three cards, but Patrick claims that this card is actually a "draw four" ... One of the cards is just a zero mana Fluctuator.
Because New Perspectives is a permanent rather than a sorcery (compare to Tidings), you can pick it up or blink it (perhaps with Felidar Guardian) to draw more and more.
As long as you have seven or more cards in hand, you may pay 0 rather than pay cycling costs.
This second line is what puts the "new" in the name. We aren't just talking about a Fluctuator... This card is expensive but far more powerful.
For one, New Perspectives will handle colored mana in a cycling cost, not just discount a 2 to 0. It opens the door to some big opportunities. For instance, why not start with Archfiend of Ifnir on five, untap with the Demon still in play, and then run out New Perspectives? Having (or drawing into) just one or two cycling cards -- TAPPED OUT -- can totally swing the board.
This card represents -- we think -- a whole new way to play.
Check it out!