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Grand Prix DC and Casual Magic Showcase May 21, 2010

Posted by Norm in Casual, Constructed, Tournament.
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This weekend I’m excited to be participating in Grand Prix D.C. Earlier today I drove down with Eric to get a head start and take a fresh approach to the weekend. Might as well since I have a few vacation days to burn.

Traveling Generals

On the drive down we stopped in Breezewood to gas up and get a bite to eat. Eric had never been to a Hardee’s before so we stopped there for burgers. After the meal our EDH Generals showed up for a bit of rough housing.

I won the die roll and was off to a good start when Eric discarded half his library and then played, I forget the name, giving him 15 black mana for creatures in his grave yard and then bringing them all back into play. He smashed for 50+ damage on the next turn. It was a bitter defeat for my merfolk.

Next Stop Verginia

After arriving at our destination we took a few minutes to relax and then start digging into what we are playing and how we anticipate this weekend’s meta game to shape up. I’ll let you know what we are playing after the event.

Tomorrow we are going to head down to the event space and get registered and take in some casual events. What’s that, Casual Events? Yep thanks to Dream Wizards and local casual group MTG Casualties Grand Prix D.C. is host to a slew of casual events. From EDH, Standard, Draft and Peasant formats there will be tournaments and chaos matches galore. If I hadn’t taken so much time to prepare for the GP I would have loved to build a deck for some Peasant showdown.

While the casual events do cost money there is prize support and judging for them. However I’ve noticed that even though there will be judging it will be a more relaxed setting. So no game disqualifications for situation accidents or misplays. This aspect of side events is to bring causal players to the event and really make the event special for everyone.

There is a website dedicated to the casual events here. Which includes all the rules and format specs. Also visit the official Wizards GP DC page for details.

If You See Me, Say Hi

I’ll be around all weekend and if you see me please feel free to come up and say hi. I’m looking to meet a number of other players and other magic writers this weekend. So the more the merrier.


A bit of Legacy May 9, 2010

Posted by Norm in Constructed, Legacy.
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Today I had a chance to play Legacy at Carnegie Mellon University. Mind you I’m not a “Legacy Player” but I do enjoy all formats. The event organizer, Dave, contacted me on facebook early last week and asked if I’d be able to make the event. Normally I’m busy on Sundays but this week was an exceptions.

I haven’t seen Dave around my local store in a while, mainly because he was busy finishing up his undergrad. So congrats.

As I said before I’m not a legacy player and throwing together a competitive legacy deck isn’t so easy now-a-days. If I had unlimited resources I would have liked to play the Reanimator deck Louis Scott Vargas played in this MTGO Daily event.

As it stands I have next to zero legacy cards. So I decided to give Affinity a shot. I’ve been collecting the cards for Affinity and never really had a chance to play it competitively. I always thought the experience would be a lot more fun, but not so in the Legacy environment.

I didn’t win one game today and I blame a little of that on never playing the deck before. Deck experience is really important, especially when making mulligan decisions. I played against Standstill Control and Tooth and Nail.

Despite my epic failure on the day I did have fun, and I hope to play more legacy in the future. And before I go I’ll leave you with this. In one turn I was able to over-extend and drop three Myr Enforcers for free one turn. Smash.

Mono White Allies Revisited March 2, 2010

Posted by Norm in 52 Decks, Constructed.
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Thanks to everyone who left comments on my original post about the deck. I started to give an update in the comments but I thought I might as well just write a new post. So if you are unfamiliar with that deck go check it out under 52 Decks – Mono White Allies.

Initial Thoughts After Play Testing

Basically what happens is that I run out of gas around turn four or five and I’m in desperate need of reset or more cards. Sometimes it’s nuts and I have Kabira Evangelist out and I’m dropping guys each turn and swinging through defenses. Most games that is not the case and I’m struggling with my opponent’s board and developing my own. Especially against aggressive decks, and lets face it everything is aggressive now-a-days.

This deck has some power. If you can protect your allies you can build an awesome army that will ignore any blockers and smash face. The instant speed Join the Ranks is a huge threat even if you just have four mana up. With the three Allies that get counters a simple Join the Ranks can change your board position from good to awesome fast.

The major flaw of this build is in my greediness for “gets +1/+1” and life gain. Ondu Cleric and Talus Paladin is a little much. In 2.0 of this build I’m going to focus more on Talus Paladin and cut the cleric. The life gain swings mid game with the paladin is more that enough to keep you above board and able to swing in with dudes.

Comment Recap

I really enjoyed the feedback on this deck and wanted to thank everyone who left a comment. There was a little debate about Kor Skyfisher but in the end I’ve got to agree with THE CK’s suggestions.

Your deck is nice but honor of the pure, ondu cleric, and ajani goldmane, i’m not sure. You should replace by 3 baneslayers angels (give you a flyer, lifelink that doesn’t depand on your allies and a good resurection for marshal’s anthem), 3 day of judgement (reset well the game is you can’t get enought guy and your overwhelm), 4 brave the elements (give extra life to your creatures and good for unblockable attack) and 1 elspeth (just too nuts!!!!). Finaly, cause of the replacement of these cards, the lands should be 21 plains and 2 emeria to ensure that you get mana for baneslayers angel and marshal’s anthem. The deck is a little bit slower, but after turn 5 or 6, this version have far more good option and you get the plains for emeria faster. In this deck, kor sky fisher isn’t good cause you lose +1/+1 token from your creatures

I agree that loosing counters on my early guys is basically giving my opponent a free removal spell. In the future I might consider a lone Skyfisher for mid to late game bouncing of Evangelical.

Mono White Allies 2.0

18 Creatures
4 Hada Freeblade
4 Kazandu Blademaster
4 Kabira Evangel
4 Talus Paladin
2 Baneslayer Angel

15 Spells
4 Path to Exile
4 Join the Ranks
3 Day of Judgement
4 Brave the Elements

2 Enchantment
2 Marshal’s Anthem

2 Planeswalker
1 Ajani Goldmane
1 Elspeth

23 Land
21 Planes
2 Emeria, the Sky Ruin

Let me know what you think and I’ll give you another update after more play testing.

Getting Ready for States 2009 November 5, 2009

Posted by Norm in Casual, Constructed, Organized Play, Standard.
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The Back Story

This morning I received a message on facebook from Dillon reminding me that States is right around the corner. I’m glad he did because I didn’t have it on my list of things to think about this month. Good thing I’ve been thinking a lot about standard the past few weeks. I’ve been tinkering with goblins specifically built around Warren Instgator, I’ll get to more on that later.

Flash to this afternoon with a timely visit from John, Arcane Order club member, to talk about the development of decks in the new standard. We spent the better part of an hour analyzing decks on tcgplayer.com. There are a lot of interesting builds out there, mostly aggressive and few control oriented. I don’t think I saw a Cancel all day. To state the obvious Baneslayer Angel is the best creature in most decks and fetch lands will be ever present.

Standard A GoGo

I’m not sure what I’ll be playing everything from Jund to the new Bant looks tempting. Mono red looks hot but the Planeswalkers deck is also intriguing. It is going to be a challenge figuring out who will be playing what as there hasn’t been a clear leader in the current meta.

Back to my goblins. I started with this in a more casual mindset but it has some interesting potential. I’ve played a few games and love putting chieftan onto the battlefield because of instigator. Anyway take a look and let me know what you think. Keep in mind this is based on cards I own and not what I think is the best build.

4 x Raging Goblin
2 x Goblin Bushwhacker
1 x Goblin Guide
4 x Warren Instigator
4 x Goblin Chieftain
4 x Goblin Razerunners
2 x Siege-Gang Commander

4 x Burst Lightning
2 x  Fireball
4 x Lightning Bolt
4 x Dragon Fodder
1 x Goblin Assault
2 x Trailblazer’s Boots

20 x Mountain
2 x Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

GASP Con and FNM November 4, 2009

Posted by Norm in Casual, Constructed, FNM, Standard.
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Welcome back to Casual Magic.

This month I’m planning on attending GASP con, which stands for Gaming Association of Southwest Pennsylvania. This will be my second time attending GASP con and I’m looking forward to it. Three days of gaming with a Zendikar sealed event on Friday. You can read my recap from last year here. I’ll be attending with Aaron who runs Buymorecards.net. He’s working on a new design for is site so stay tuned for an announcement when he gets it fully operational.

Anyway it has been a while since I’ve been to a good con and I’m hoping to get into some good non magic board games. Recently I’ve been playing a D&D campaign. My first. It has been very enlightening and a lot of fun. I’m expecting to meet some great people and learn some new games.

Back to Magic.

Last friday I attended my first FNM in a while. The first in Zendikar Standard for sure. Over the past few weeks I’d been tied up with events and obligations therefore keeping me from gaming. I probably wouldn’t have played because I didn’t have a deck together. But after looking at that weeks building on a budget I realized that I probably could put that deck together, and I was right.

The deck is essentially a cheap Jund build. Cheap meaning not all the expensive cards like Maelstrom Pulse and fetch lands. I felt that this build is just as good and terminate costing less that pulse is ok because most of the time I was only killing one creature at a time. Pulse in the current meta (at least for me) would have been irrelevant. Terminate costs one less and easily cast-able in this deck.

I went 3-0 at the FNM beating out vampires, a blue/white/black milldeck, and a goblin home brew. I felt that vampires was an easy matchup. The vampires were too slow against me and my removal was better. Yes they have tendrils but my lightning bolt, blightning and terminate keeps their hand, life and board under control. In my opinion vampires have a lot of potential but from what I’ve seen they are just too slow in a 1v1 match up. At the multiplayer table seems like a decent deck.

The mill deck was next and I felt that this was a 50/50 matchup. I won in two games, but game one he didn’t draw a blue mana until turn 10 and his wrath and white control could only hold out for so long. In that game I had to terminate my own Sprouting Thrinax to get creatures in around his Wall of Denial. Game two saw him either have mana or card trouble. I had to play around his Path to Exile and Archive Trap. Not a huge problem, just don’t search your library when playing against the Mill Control deck. This was even easier when my deck didn’t have a card that needed me to search.

The goblin matchup was also a smooth ride. My extra spells with bloodbraid elf and removal were hard to play around. In this decks defense I don’t think he was playing chieftan or instigator. But rather he was experimenting with Zendikar block goblins and some standard removal. I think this deck was red white with new oblivion ring that only hits creatures. I didn’t take a look at his deck list after the match although I wish I had now.

Anyway I had a lot of fun playing cheap jund especially with the fair amount of success I had with it. What are you experimenting with in the new standard? Next post I’ll share my own goblin homebrew deck list.

Drastic Inquiry Results September 3, 2009

Posted by Norm in Constructed.
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Yesterday I shared a Grixis Deck, Drastic Inquiry, that I was bringing to a standard event tonight. First off this was a really fun deck to play. Its unique and unexpectedness was a great asset tonight. However it is a tricky deck to play and without any time to play test the first few matches were a bit dicy learning the ins and outs. I’ve also never played a deck with such a dynamic mana base. So there was an additional learning curve for me.

Over all the deck is very competitive. Even when I lost I was grinding it out and if I could have had more mana or creatures at the right time I could have won. The deck is also capable of some very dramatic victories. The key is finding the right moment to play Burning Inquiry. The other key ranadomly discarding the cards you want in your graveyard. 🙂

I finished the night 1-3, disappointing but not a complete failure as I was learning the new deck. If you want more details on the night let me know.

Something Different – Standard September 1, 2009

Posted by Norm in Constructed.
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I’ve been playing my favorite standard deck, Mono White Kithkin, for the past few weeks at the local shop on Wednesday nights. On Magic Game Day I went 5-0 with the deck beating two Merfolk decks and some Jundish stuff. The following week I went 3-1 loosing to the Time Sieve combo deck. That I might have been able to beat had I put Lapse of Certainty in the sideboard.

This week I’m interested in playing something new and while Jund or Elves seems like the decks to play I found this Grixis list on Deck Check.net.

creature [24]
4 Dregscape Zombie
4 Extractor Demon
4 Hellspark Elemental
4 Sedraxis Specter
4 Shambling Remains
4 Viscera Dragger
instant [6]
4 Terminate
2 Volcanic Fallout
sorcery [7]
4 Burning Inquiry
3 Drastic Revelation
land [23]
4 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Dragonskull Summit
2 Drowned Catacomb
3 Graven Cairns
1 Island
4 Mountain
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Sunken Ruins
5 Swamp
1 Vivid Marsh

3 Black Knight
4 Deathmark
2 Earthquake
3 Thought Hemorrhage
3 Thoughtseize

extractor-demon.jpgThe deck is called Drastic Inquiry by Cyrus Bales and after playing a quick game I can see why it is playable. Extractor Demon is pretty awesome and after realizing how cool he is I’m surprised this deck hasn’t caught on before. While it is no Demigod of Revenge the synergy with getting a creature off the board is really devastating. In my play test game I was able to get two out and force my opponent to put upwards of 10 cards into the graveyard on one turn. Volcanic Fallout is also really good here.  I’d even consider upping the fallout count to four and reducing the Burning Inquiry. Although the goal is to play the demon from your graveyard and smash for big beats.

I’ll be shuffling up some form of this deck tomorrow so wish me luck.

Tonight I played constructed August 6, 2009

Posted by Norm in Casual, Constructed.
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Tonight I went to play at a local shop, Mr Nice Guy Games, where I’ve never played before. I recently learned about their Wednesday night constructed with excellent prizes. I finished 2-2 out of the main prizes (a box of m10 going to #1, woot!) but picked up a random prize Nicol Bolas play mat. Ya good deal.

I played a cleaned up version of the Red Lightning deck I’ve been talking about. I was unfamiliar with the meta game there and I was really looking to test the red deck so game on. Being a new player to mono red I’ve got to say first off that the pure power of red when you have the right hand is really exciting. A starting hand of two or three lands with solid drops four turns in a row can really destroy your opponents game plan. Ball Lighting is serious and usually got in for 6 (at least tonight). I played with Lightning Elemental, which I felt was my weakest creature, at four mana and kept a few fireballs in the sideboard.

Each match I won came at 2-0 with decent opening hands and little mid game action, meaning I won quickly and finished with a Flame Javalin or hasting creature. Each match I lost went 1-2 where I did mull down to 6 for the final loss. I felt that my inexperience with this deck was in making opening hand decisions. I probably should have mulled to 5 cards a few times.

Match one I lost to basically a G/W exalted deal splashing for Rhox War Monk featuring Baneslayer Angel. The Angel is one card where I didn’t have a good answer. It is basically a two for one against me. I lost the match because I believe I kept bad hands.

Game two my deck and hands were hot. Playing a four color cascade hybrid with vivid lands. I was never really in trouble against this deck and I felt that the mana was very complicated and it was trying to be too much of a control deck that couldn’t slow down my early beats and late burn.

Game three I played another red deck with Ashenmoor Gouger. I felt that my creatures were just a little bit faster and I was able to stay in control and up on tempo both games. I felt that we had almost the same decks but I just had better draws.

Fourth round I played another red deck with a lot of the same cards but he was playing green with Rip Clan Crasher (probably Bloodbraid Elf, although I never saw one) and Colossal Might. My opponent was able to generate almost the same kind of explosive early turns that I could. Game one he just had the tempo and I didn’t have a great hand to start. Second game was probably my favorite of the night. We both had good opening hands but I was able to keep huge tempo with drawing double Magma Spray, one for his Ball Lightning and Hellspark Elemental. I won with double Boggart Ramgang and Ball Lighting etc. The final game he had a really strong opener and I mulled to 6 keeping an iffy hand.

All in all a fun night of constructed. The top two finishers were playing Elves and Time Sieve. It was really interesting to watch the Time Sieve combo go off. I might have been able to beat it but I didn’t get a chance.

Overall for me it was a great chance to hang out in a store with a lot of Magic happening simultaniously. Constructed downstairs and teem drafting happening upstairs. Fun night.

Red Lightning 1.2 July 25, 2009

Posted by Norm in Constructed.
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I’ve been working on updating my Red Lightning  here is what I phosted a week or so ago.

4x Hellspark Elemental
4x Lightning Elemental
4x Boggart Ram-Gang
4x Tattermunge Maniac
4x Ball Lightning

4x Flame Javelin
4x Lightning Bolt
2x Banefire
4x Pyroclasm

26x Mountain

Since theen I’ve gotten a few suggestions and I’ve made a few tweeks. Behold 1.2.

4x Hellspark Elemental
4x Changeling Berserker
4x Boggart Ram-Gang
4x Tattermunge Maniac
4x Ball Lightning

4x Flame Javelin
4x Lightning Bolt
2x Fireball
4x Magma Spray
2x Spiteful Visions

24x Mountain

First changes in creatures. I dropped Lightning Elemental for Changeling Berserker. I felt that for the same mana cost the 5/3 was a little more stable and can champion a Tatttermung Maniac or Boggart Ram-Gang.

On Dillion’s suggestion I added Magma Spray and I can see why Exiling a creature is better than simply killing it, but I think that Lashout might be better. Also he suggested Howling Mine, a really cool idea to keep the red hand full of spells and land. So what if instead we played Spiteful Visions? Might not be that great but helps our aggro process. Finally I switched Banefire for Fireball, the ability to hit multiple creatures if nessecary is a bonus plus I’m not expecting to have enough mana to make banefire uncounterable.

I’ll get a few test games under my belt and let you know how it goes.

Red Lightning July 18, 2009

Posted by Norm in Constructed.
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While I’ve been moving in the shadows over here at Casual Magic, I’ve been tempering some lighting I picked up over the past two weekends.

For starters check the Red Lightning deck list I posted over at MTG Vault.

4x Hellspark Elemental
4x Lightning Elemental
4x Boggart Ram-Gang
4x Tattermunge Maniac
4x Ball Lightning

4x Flame Javelin
4x Lightning Bolt
2x Banefire
4x Pyroclasm

26x Mountain

Give me a few more weeks to get the cards together and I’ll be in business.