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Alara Reborn Review Black-Red May 23, 2009

Posted by Norm in Alara Reborn, Casual.
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Selected review of Alara Reborn Black-Red cards as found on the full visual spoiler.

breath-of-malfegorBreath of Malfegor
I almost didn’t pick this card because it is kind of meh in most gaming circles and probably won’t see much play, if any, in constructed FNM. Although 5 damage at instant speed is no slouch.

Lets face it, Breath of Malfegor has killer art. Which is why I did pick the card. Look at my fire breathing demon, in your face! Even if you never play the card and just keep it in your hand, you’ll always have something good to look at. Seriously this card is pretty good in multiplayer games (duh). In my olden days of group multiplayer there could easily be up to six people around the table. Breath of Malfegor would be dishing out 25 points of damage for five mana. Boom. You get two of these to go off it will be hard for some players to recover.

Deathbringer ThoctarDeathbringer Thoctar
This is one of those cards that can be really fun and works really well with certain mechanics, like devour. I could see this being an over kill, big win, with older cards like Nantuko Husk and Mogg War Marshal. Those old strategies are really great and could make this guy big. Also you have the chance to devour a lot of your guys and have a huge Mogg Fanatic on your hands.

The fact that this beast is also a Zombie suggests some interesting strategies with recursion decks etc. Also gives use to those Death Baron card’s you’ve had sitting around in your binder. Speaking of Death Baron, I really think that zombies are going to come back. I thought it would be in this block but there wasn’t the right synergy, maybe in M2010.  Anyway, I’d love to see some creative deck list with Deathbringer.

Demonspine WhipDemonspine Whip
So I’m all about the art in this color pair and I’ve got to say this art is rendered well, but WTF is up with the character holding the whip? Looks like it has one leg in a really uncomfortable position. I can see what is really happening but I was really thrown off guard when I initially looked at the card.

What I like about this ability is that it is a fire breathing without the red activator. Once equipped you can pump mana into this ability all day.

Lightning ReaverLightning Reaver
So if you compare this card to Deathbringer Thoctar you get to experience  similar feeling abilities, except more efficient. I’ve got to say that Fear and Haste are a particularly awesome combo. This card alone with fear and haste at 3/3 for five mana is almost worth it (four would be amazing), but at five you get to make the guy bigger for almost being unblockable and then get to deal extra damage at the end of a turn. Maybe you glance at this card and think it doesn’t stack up to other Alara Reborn rares (and maybe you are right), but you would  be wrong because this guy is really awesome. FEAR & HASTE together on one card, I shouldn’t have to say more. I just did a Gatherer search on this inquiry and here is what I found, click here. Did you click? No, I didn’t think so because there is no need. There has never been another creature with these abilities printed on the same card. So ya this card should own, bigtime.

Thought HemorrhageThought Hemorrhage
A hightly hyped card and as annoying as Extirpate. Seriously you get to remove named card from my game for only four mana. I’ve only had this spell played against me twice, in games one and two of some FNM. I won both games easily, phfft.

This card is not to be underestimated. This card will be the reason the new Swans decks don’t make it (also Anathemancer), bye bye Swans you’ll need Glittering Wish to get you back in the game.

Alara Reborn Review Blue-Black May 11, 2009

Posted by Norm in Alara Reborn, Casual.
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Selected review of Alara Reborn Blue-Black cards as found on the full visual spoiler.

Illusory DemonIllusory Demon
Whenever I see cards like this I always have an initial knee jerk reaction. Why would I want to sac a creature at such a seemingly insignificant moment. But that is when I think to myself, yes, why would I want to do that – and the wheels start to spin. A 4/3 flyer for three mana isn’t something to snease at. This guy could get it for a few beats before the need to cast another spell or mid game when you want a strong guy to draw some of your opponent’s ire and cards.

As far as other synergies Hissing Igunar or those other lizards could be a few options. Ther is also that conflux enchantment that sends a creature the the graveyard when another creature goes to the yard.

Lich Lord of UnxLich Lord of Unx
This card slipped past me during the spoiler season and I haven’t heard much about it recently but this has to be a sleeper card to make some waves. Two mana for a token seems ok. But the four mana to make your opponent loose life and put cards into the graveyard, whoa – awesome. Yes he is vulnerable but he’s in blue, protection colors. We also have Death Baron and Lord of the Undead to pump this guy.

I’m imagining plays where my opponent is loosing the game to the life sucking Lich Lord, and you don’t even need to attack. What a great card.

Mask of RiddlesMask of Riddles
I have a lot of respect of this little piece of equipment. Might be the second best equipment behind Behemoth Sledge. In limited this owns. There are few options to destroy and if you are playing these colors you are most likely packing other artifacts. Naturalize is looking really good right now.

I’m kind of out of things to say about this card. I mean how do I say fear plus card drawing are good other than they are.

Mind FuneralMind Funeral
Thinking back to Lich Lord of Unx, Mind Funeral has to nestle up close to that zombie and purr like a kitten. What a potential deviating card in draft and limited.  I’m thinking you could easily get 8+ card per Mind Funeral. Playing this on turn three could be huge especially if your opponent is looking for land or a creature to draw into.

I’m happily considering library destruction decks because of these two cards.

Nemesis of ReasonNemesis of Reason
If only this could have been a Zombi. You can’t have all the cards go to a tribe I know.

So library denigration has been the theme of Blue-Black in this set. I’m excited to see this card with a reasonable casting cost and a really devastating ability. Two attacks in limited and your opponent is going to be hard pressed to recover. The five mana cost of this card is particularly resonable as well.

Soul Manipulation – Honerable mention
I want to give a quick props to Soul Manipulation. I think it is a decent card that could surprise some folks who aren’t looking for it.

Glory of Warfare the Decklist May 11, 2009

Posted by Norm in Casual, Constructed.
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So to complete my love affair with Glory of Warfare I bring to you my initial idea for a deck list. I haven’t  fleshed out my thoughts nor actually built the deck so I’m open to ideas/suggestions.

Glory of Warfare

Glory of Warfare
Martial Coup
Spectral Procession
Goblin Assault
Volcanic Fallout
Predator Dragon
Ajani Vengeant
Path to Exile

I’m thinking a turn three Spectral Procession/Goblin Assault into a turn four glory of Warfare is the ideal play. As I’m looking at this list right now I’m seeing that the mana curve is pretty akward and heavy around the four drops. Still I’m thinking a fun deck to mess around with.

What is this deck missing? A few more creatures for sure, maybe Noblis of War or some first strikers/ fliers. Creatures with a turn one casting cost might be what I’m needing. I’m also thinking I may want more kill spells i.e.: Banefire, Flame Javealin, or Incinnerate.

Alara Reborn Review White-Blue May 9, 2009

Posted by Norm in Casual.
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Selected review of Alara Reborn White-Blue cards as found on the full visual spoiler.

Aven MimeomancerAven Mimeomancer
So for three mana you can start to turn you lesser minions into 3/1 fliers. Not a bad deal. Especially if you are playing with something that can generate flying tokens, Bitterblossom, Spectral Procession, Goblin Assault. Sprinkle a little Glory of Warfare or Glorious Anthem and your ready to rock.

I find the casting cost/interesting ability ratio to be very appropriate. I think this could be a great sleeper card in limited and a lot of fun in casual decks. Three mana for a three power flier isn’t bad. While it dies to every burn spell it is a lot of fun if you can protect it. We are in Hindering Light colors.

Ethersworn ShieldmageEthersworn Shieldmage
I think that a lot of people have been missing the prominent presence of creatures with flash sine Time Spiral rotated out of standard. Always being weary of attacking into a deck you know has flash creatures and open mana. OK, so I don’t miss flash terribly. I really like the Shieldmage especially because I’ve got a Shards block Esper deck floating around. I’m looking forward to see how this Wizard can make me play more agressive. Attacking into a bunch of blockers or chump blocking something annoying. Obviously if your opponent has any artifact creatures this isn’t going to do much for that strategy.

Filigree AngelFiligree Angel
While potentially awesome I think this angel costs too much to see a lot of play. This artwork in my opinion is probably one of the best in this set. Very powerful and stunning image, awesome job.

If you can abuse the relationship this card has with Master Transmuter then you’ll most certainly own your opponent by gaining tons of life each game.

Talon TrooperTalon Trooper
Hi guys I’m a two three flier for three. Awesome. This guy is going to win a lot of games in draft and he is going to be hard to deal with. Your opponent will certainly have to be packing resounding thunder or branching bolt to shoot this bird out of the sky.

The one drawback is the White-Blue casting requirement. Which is a little more than just three mana. But I don’t think that will be too much of an issue with the mana fixing floating around.

Unbender TineUnbender Tine
I’m actually on the fence about the usefulness of this card for four mana. On one hand it is an artifact, can help you accelerate to six mana on turn five, if you are playing this with band gets your exalted attacker back for defense. On the other hand it cost four mana with a two color requirement and is kind of clunky.

However seems like a fun card and could work really well with Master Transmuter and Filigree Angel for some life gain or getting a few big creatures into play quickly.

Alara Reborn Release Event May 8, 2009

Posted by Norm in Alara Reborn, Organized Play.
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I wasn’t able to make a prerelease event this time around because of a busy schedule and other factors (like the Penguins clinching their second round playoff spot). So last weekend I did make sure I could participatein a release event at my local shop. The scene was sketchy at first because we only had 7 people when we were supposed to start, but a random person in the store and a covering of costs from one of the other players got us to the minimum. I forget the name of the guy who did cover the cost of the extra guy – thanks dude you deserved the first place finish.

I went 2-2 playing Jund colors with a lot of removal. I thought I would be able to keep the path clear while I could get my creatures through. I felt my deck was ok but all my shards rares were scattered and not really playable, included a Crucible of Fire, rawr. I did have some interesting esper rares from my Reborn packs but I didn’t feel like I had enough blue or black for the build. As I’m writing this I’m wondering if I could have made it happen in esper.

When I opened my Reborn packs I really wasn’t expecting how difficult it would be to whittle down my main colors. I think my lack of solid rare cards was contributing to that fact. So I was pretty flexible in what was possible. Looking at all the multicolored really was overwhelming when I didn’t have a good sense of the cards. I know my fault for not studying up in advance.

One thing I did do while playing this event was experiment with a different shuffling system where I don’t table suffle as much. I think it worked ok for the first two games and then after that I really had big clumps of land. Hense the mana screw of round three. In game three of that round I mulled down to four and never drew more than one land the whole game. Ugh.

In retrospect I wish there were more Reborn sealed events happening in my area because I’d love to play more of the format. I’m a huge fan of this set. It is by far the most interesting and powerful in a long time. I wasn’t expecting such a great set at the end of this block.

Check back starting tomorrow as I kick off my Alara Reborn Reviews.

Alara Reborn Prerelease Today April 25, 2009

Posted by Norm in Casual.
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Have fun everyone playing in a prerelease today. I’m planning on heading to the event in Cannonsburg this afternoon.

Feel free to send me a message or say hi if you see me.

Alara Reborn – Additional Videos April 21, 2009

Posted by Norm in Alara Reborn, Spoilers.
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Hybrid and mana cost videos from yesterday’s primer post on the Wizard’s site. These videos are really basic so you can skip them if you are familiar with basic mechanics.

And here is the Cyclin mechanic explanation, again very basic.

Alara Reborn – Cascade April 20, 2009

Posted by Norm in Alara Reborn, Spoilers.
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Today we get a look at Wizards official how to videos regarding new mechanics for Alara Reborn. Check out the video on Cascade.

Alara Reborn – Glory of Warfare April 17, 2009

Posted by Norm in Alara Reborn, Spoilers.
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glory-of-warfare

I was just checking my google reader and saw Glory of Warfare for the first time on Top8Magic.com. Wow. This is a must have for my Kithkin deck that I’m probably going to take to regionals. Glory of Warfare makes token decks rethink themselves for sure. Springjack Pasture anyone?

Actually I’m really glad I’ve been collecting Goblin Assault. Whew, Glory of Warfare just made my day!

Alara Reborn – Time Sieve April 15, 2009

Posted by Norm in Alara Reborn, Spoilers.
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time-sieve-art

I knew for Alara Reborn to be awesome it was going to have to pack a lot of cards and abilities that really up the anti for the block. So far I’ve been impressed with a number of cards. After viewing today’s spoiler card I am once again in awe of Esper.

time-sieve

I have a feeling Esper is going to be a force and while the ability cost isn’t cheap this card is really going to mix things up. Time Sieve probably has the best chance of any card in recent history of becoming broken. While taking an extra turn doesn’t mean you’ll win the game hands down it does help you set up a number of things while your opponent can only sit and wait. I can’t wait to see what good things are in store for this card.

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