Top Level Podcast

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

Happy Thanksgiving from Top Level Podcast!

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


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

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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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT