Thu, 6 April 2017
Gideon of the Trials from Amonkhet
Gideon of the Trials is a splashy new Planeswalker from Amonkhet. There are lots of things going on with this card that are interesting.
First of all, it is only three mana. Like Jace Beleren and Liliana of the Last Hope before it, Gideon is likely going to find a way into appropriately-colored decks, just because it is so cheap. Conveniently, all three of Gideon's abilities are meaningful and worthy of discussion.
[+1]: Until your next turn, prevent all damage target permanent would deal.
This is Mike's favorite ability on the card.
Gideon of the Trials can completely shut off threat-poor decks; it is in fact outstanding against one threat at a time.
In addition, the [+1] is, in a roundabout way, a source of card advantage. You can force the opponent to play multiple threats by neutralizing the first one. He can be stuck losing an extra card to Fumigate, only to be stuck again a threat-and-a-half later.
This ability is also great against Heart of Kiran. Not only can you shut it off damage-wise (no matter what mode it is in), the fact that Heart of Kiran is Legendary means that you effectively shut off all the copies that are stuck in the opponent's hand.
: Until end of turn, Gideon of the Trials becomes a 4/4 Human Soldier creature with indestructible that's still a planeswalker. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to him this turn.
If Gideon of the Trials only featured the middle ability, it would be comparable to True-Name Nemesis... a 4/4 "basically unstoppable" 4/4 for only three mana (but doesn't play defense)? Pretty solid!
This is the most straightforward of Gideon's three abilities. It's basically always good any time you don't want to be using the [+1].
: You get an emblem with "As long as you control a Gideon planeswalker, you can't lose the game and your opponents can't win the game."
Gideon's emblem is a little tricky. It basically is an emblem that makes present or future Gideons into Platinum Angels. This can be powerful -- For example you can lock out (or at least buy a turn from) certain combo decks. But most conventional decks that attack to beat you can attack Gideon instead. Not awful by any means, but not decisive generally, at least not in Standard.
All-in-all, Gideon of the Trials looks like the most powerful white card we've seen so far from Amonkhet.
There are lots of other cards discussed, as well, in this week's episode! Give it a listen:
Oh... And bonus episode tomorrow!
Fri, 31 March 2017
Glorybringer is one of the flashy cards from the Amonkhet. The is a dragon perfectly poised answer to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar but has other applications.
Tue, 28 March 2017
Check out the Aven Mindcensor Masterpiece! Team Top Level's Craig Wescoe joins Mike and Patrick to show off the latest Amonkhet Masterpiece spoiler.
Fri, 24 March 2017
Pro Tour Champion Patrick Chapin and Michael J Flores discuss not just Dynavolt Tower but all the key moves and trends to keep you up to date on Standard.
Fri, 17 March 2017
PSulli joins Patrick Chapin & MichaelJ in a discussion of how to find one basic Mountain, and whether 21 or 26 lands is right for Torrential Gearhulk decks.
Fri, 10 March 2017
Take a [playable] Murder. Make it easier to cast (for a least some decks). Add a "cantrip Lava Spike" for zero additional mana. Unlicensed Disintegration
Fri, 3 March 2017
Nicholas Byrd won the most recent Modern Open with a wonderfully positioned Ad Nauseam deck. This style of deck combines the mana acceleration of Simian Spirit Guide, Pentad Prism, and Desperate Ritual with a number of esoteric and specialized cards to kill with a solo Lightning Storm.
Thu, 2 March 2017
Somebody must like them:
MichaelJ and Patrick sure got some sweet preview cards from Modern Masters 2017 Edition!
Mike's Modern Masters Spoiler:
Compulsive Research is near and dear to Mike's heart. He has both filled his own graveyard with Firemane Angels and forced opposing Firemane Angel decks to draw a lethal number of cards. This is a card that allows you to access every part of the veritable buffalo.
What Patrick Wants to Find in a Modern Masters Pack
We all know what a soft spot Patrick has for Grixis. There is no more "Grixis" card than Cruel Ultimatum.
Top Level Podcast shares some war stories, and tells you why Compulsive Research and Cruel Ultimatum are some of the most exciting cards in Modern Masters 2017 Edition:
Back to our regularly-scheduled podcast tomorrow.
Fri, 24 February 2017
Death's Shadow produced a clean break -- including both Grand Prix and team event wins -- and is probably the best deck in Modern.
Weren't Bannings Supposed to Nerf Death's Shadow?
Just a few weeks ago there were bannings.
Golgari Grave-Troll was there for Dredge. Yes, Dredge would still be viable, but its biggest, burliest, enabler disappeared.
Gitaxian Probe is kinda sorta not a real Magic: The Gathering card. Why does Gitaxian Probe even exist? The banning of this card pushed a pin into the collective bubbles of decks like Infect, Storm, and... Death's Shadow.
Gitaxian Probe had a special place in the old Death's Shadow deck. Sure, the new version still has cards like Mishra's Bauble, but Gitaxian Probe also cost the Death's Shadow deck life (in most cases), (oddly) helping to grow the centerpiece threat.
A More Interactive Death's Shadow Deck
The previous version was mostly an offensive deck. Wild Nacatl or Monastery Swiftspear got the ball rolling; the creatures were much more plentiful... but the interaction was deemphasized.
The current version is almost a Jund deck. This deck has only a few creatures (even if they are doozies)... It has a ton of midrange interaction instead. Fatal Push, a ton of direct hand destruction including the maximum numbers of both Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek, and even Tarfire have repositioned the archetype.
In addition to having the superpower of being one mana, Tarfire is a Tribal Instant. As such, it's really useful for 1) buffing Tarmogoyf, and 2) getting Traverse the Ulvenwald online super quickly. Some versions even have Seal of Fire to make Tarmogoyf that much bigger!
Most of the offense in this strategy is accomplished by only two creatures: Death's Shadow and Tarmogoyf. Unfortunately -- and especially given the printing of Fatal Push -- neither of those guys is hard to kill. The deck can weather opposing removal in a number of ways...
Thirteen creatures have never stretched so far.
Fri, 17 February 2017
Kari Zev's Expertise is already format-warping.
Years from now, when we look back on Aether Revolt, it will likely be the case that what we remember most about the set is how badly it helped players to cheat.
Cheat on costs, that is.
Kari Zev's Expertise is at this point the most prominent example of how Aether Revolt can break -- really break -- the rules of Magic to gain a massive advantage. Dan Ward was the first person to innovate Kari Zev's Expertise in Modern (though he lost in the finals of his Regional Chapionship, to Mike's apprentice Roman Fusco playing the Inspiring Vantage Burn deck).
How Does the Kari Zev's Expertise Combo Work?
Dan played Simian Spirit Guide, so he could pop off the Expertise against a second turn beatdown card (say a Grim Flayer). Threatens can be good cards in and of themselves, but this one also gives you the opportunity to play a two mana card for free.
The most important two mana card you can play is Breaking // Entering:
Note two things about these cards:
When you are casting Breaking // Entering this way, you never give the opponent a chance to use Relic of Progenitus or Extirpate. If you separately cast Breaking and then Entering, the opponent would have a chance to respond, but entwined this way, it is just one giant beating.
Ward's deck still had Goryo's Vengeance, Cathartic Reuinion, and other traditional enablers.
All That and Fatal Push!
Fatal Push is going to continue to be highly effective in Modern... A card (for once not Rare or worse) on the order of Path to Exile. One of the reasons that Ward's deck seemed so reliable is that he lacked the small creatures that make Fatal Push such an effective defensive card.
Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx Champion Patrick Chapin and Resident Genius Michael J. Flores go over not just a number of ways to cheat costs in Modern, but run down ideas for other archetypes like Burn, Grixis Control, or Abzan Company. Check it all out in this week's episode!