casual tagged posts

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Red

Unlike normal sets, the color wheel is slightly out of whack. Black and red have switched places so instead of black, red is getting reviewed after blue!

As that weird mono-red Commander who doesn’t play Kiki-Jiki, I always get excited when I see new red cards for my Jaya deck. And while Blue felt like more of the same, Red in Return to Ravnica is very, very exciting.

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Annihilating Fire

And when I mean very, very exciting, I don’t mean this card. If scavenge, dredge, undying or persist are huge issues at your table, this is an okay removal spell (Disintegrate would cost 4 for the same effect). It really is one of those metagame dependent calls that I can’t make for you.

Ash Zealot

Last night I tried out my Crosis Commander deck which is all about reanimation from everyone’s graveyard. Then Josh played Grafdigger’s Cage on turn 2 and my deck was shut down. Ash Zealot is an amazing two-drop. Red usually doesn’t get two abilities on a 2/2 for RR. But the final ability is the perfect piece of table hate. When Memory Plunder, Snapcaster Mage or flashback spells become a hassle, she viciously punishes people with Lightning Bolts.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Blue

The second stop on this tour of the Return to Ravnica color wheel reminds me a lot of some older sets. Mainly that it opens with an amazing whimper. For blue mages who want excellent control spells, you’re going to be disappointed. For Johnnies looking for weird cards, you’re in luck!

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Aquus Steed

Here is how I envision this card working:

Mage 1: “Look at my horse!”
Mage 2: “What in the nine hell is that?”
Mage 1: “Ha! Now you are confused and get -2/-0!”

End scene.

Cancel

The art of Mr. Explodey Hand is wasted on this reprint. Also if you like counterspells, I don’t like you as a person.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: White

Now that the five guilds are done, I’m looking at all the non-affiliated cards in Return to Ravnica. So if you don’t have a guild watermark, you’re included! I’ll start with white since they usually go first.

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Angel of Serenty

Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand…

This card worries me. Not because Kaalia will throw her down every turn, but because of how easy this card is to abuse. Oh the exiling trigger is on the stack? Bounce it. Or flicker. Either way, you now don’t have three permanents for good and three more are gone. I don’t rage quit often, but this might make me do it. A lot.

Armory Guard

I’m so glad this guy gains vigilance and doesn’t do something like “loses defender.” I kind of want to see what the Gates end up doing by the end of this block, but for now, don’t bother.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Cult of Rakdos

Return to Ravnica is an interesting set. While most expansions only offer one or two archetypes when it comes to mechanics, Return to Ravnica allows for five right off the bat. But there is one small issue with this for kitchen table players: Rakdos doesn’t really work.

The core of Rakdos is the unleashed mechanic which is great for sligh decks, but those never work against more than one player. Dealing 20 damage to someone quicker than they deal 20 to you is easy, but when you’re facing off against 60 or 100 life, you can’t win.

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Rakdos, Lord of Riots

Rakdos has been in desperate need of a do over since he originally debuted. But holy crap is this a commander! Costing only 4 mana, he’s pretty easy to cast. As long as any opponent lost life, he’s in play and changing the game. He’s a 6/6 flying, trampler for only four mana! That’s beyond amazing.

The second ability is fantastic. Dubbed “paincast,” it allows you to rapidly escalate your army. Grab some eldrazi and get to work.

Rakdos’s Return

What do you get when you combine Mind Shatter and Blaze? Really good discard and really good damage! Taking out someone’s hand is mean, but burning them is delightful. This is exactly the kind of card that won’t make you any friends but will feel so satisfying when it connects. Good thing this card says opponent, so you don’t have to worry about it coming back to you.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Izzet League

The Izzet League is the guild everyone seems to love. The band of mad scientists working for an insane dragon certainly has some appeal, but the lack of focus makes me think Izzet has no idea what they are doing. Every now and then, they’ll do something awesome though. Probably accidentally.

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Epic Experiment

This card is hilariously stupid and equally awesome. Generate enough mana and this can end games in a mess of spells waiting to resolve. In Commander, I see this being the destroyer of worlds like Genesis Wave. I can’t wait to see one go off.

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius

Curse you Wizards, you had to make a second Niv-Mizzet that doesn’t automatically cause infinite damage when combined with the first. An inverse of his old-self, Niv-Mizzet is still a good card and a great legendary but he’s so much harder to abuse now. That said, turning UR into a card whenever you want is amazing. For combo commander players, he will easily find a home but his original version is better.

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Making the Worst Magic Cube Imaginable

Once a month, my playgroup takes a break from our mess of casual Magic games. Usually you’ll find us all huddled around Bruce’s kitchen table… and sometimes a second table when there are too many of us. We regularly play Commander, Star, Planechase, Two-Headed Giant and whatever other formats we can think of (or discover after rummaging through ancient copies on Inquest). But the last Thursday of every month is when we try something new.

It started with us just usually doing a draft of the new set. It was fun and gave everyone a chance to get their hands on some new cards. But then we wanted to draft more. Sadly I missed out on our Unhinged draft, but I provided the boosters for the fiasco that was triple Ice Age. Then one of our members carefully crafted a common/uncommon power cube for us to try out. It was a blast and I took it to the next insane conclusion: do the opposite.

After the Ice Age draft, I really wanted to find a way to start using older cards more often. I looked into tracking down some boosters of Chronicles and Fallen Empires, but those are finally getting “expensive.” So I decided to make a cube from some of the worst sets in Magic’s history. That way no one would have to pay actual money for any cards.

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In Defense of Casual Magic: the Gathering – Why I Play

With the release of Planechase 2 just a matter of days away, I’ve noticed the schism returning between casual and competitive Magic players. As someone who hasn’t played Standard since it was called “Type II” and Dark Fires was gaining traction, I have been firmly planted in the casual side of Magic for over a decade, and playing for almost twice that long.

I started playing the game in 1994 thanks to my older brother getting into it after we went on a skiing trip. From then on, I played for a few years very casually before meandering away from the game. It wasn’t until the release of Tempest that I got back into the game in 6th grade when my best friend Adam told me about how he discovered this amazing new game. Within a few months, I was back into it.

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Casual and Commander Multipleplayer Oddities: Uncovered Antiquities

A long time ago, I tasked myself with diving into the depths of Magic: the Gathering’s elaborate history to track down some hidden gems that have been forgotten over the ages. I ventured through some secrets in Alliances and then found some gems hidden in the Dark, but then Innistrad came out… and Dark Ascension. And Avacyn Restored. So the series got put on hold, but now I finally have time again to uncover Antiquities.

The second Magic: the Gathering expansion ever, Antiquities used to be full of expensive cards simply because of their scarcity. But now, card prices have drastically dropped (in most cases) allowing older sets to become much more manageable. This list isn’t about reminding you about what awesome cards are known about in Antiquities like Power Artifact, but about showing what gems have been forgotten about over the last 18 years.

Being a set based around artifacts, it seems only fitting to begin there. Cursed Rack is a unique piece in the Stuffy Doll arsenal. With many decks in Commander abusing cards like Reliquary Tower, it is hard to limit your opponents maximum hand size. Cursed Rack provides a colorless way to do just that when you aren’t able to make use of the Misers or Jin-Gitaxias. If you constantly face off against someone abusing their hand, take it down.

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Avacyn Restored Casual & Commander Review: Gold, Artifacts & Lands

The final part of the six-part Avacyn Restored Casual and Commander review covers everything that doesn’t fit into a the five colors – so we’ve got multicolor, artifacts and lands ready to be reviewed and explored! Artifacts are almost always fun since pretty much everyone can use them!

But Avacyn Restored is a little different, since there are only three gold cards and all of them happen to be legendary angels! That’s going to mess with the top 5…

Casual and Commander Review: Avacyn Restored
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts & Lands

Bruna, Light of Alabaster

For years, the aura commander has been Uril, the Miststalker. He’s huge, grows even bigger and is near impossible to kill. But Bruna may offer a new alternative, and color pairing, to aura-centric players who are looking for something different. Being an evasive 5/5 for six with vigilance makes her decent in the air, but her ability is what looks to be most exciting.

Bruna not only allows you to play auras for free, she also steals them from other players and returns them from a graveyard. As far as I’m concerned, she effectively removes the card disadvantage so often found on auras. Toss in the fact that she can move auras during combat, and you’ve got a fascinating Voltron-style commander that will play differently from Uril. So have fun stealing everyone’s licids.

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight

Boros players haven’t got the widest selection of commanders to pick from, so just getting a new one is nice, especially one that isn’t so creature-combat focused. But what I really like about Gisela is that she is a two-turn clock essentially for commander damage. Or just regular damage since this augments damage for everyone else at the table.

Furnace of Rath is a great way to force the game into sudden death overtime, but having your own Furnace attached to an angel is beyond great. Then you get to the white half where Gisela is near impossibly to kill in combat. Your opponent needs a 10/11 (or a 10/5 first striker) to be able to kill Gisela alone. Cast her, toss on Lightning Greaves and watch the world crumble around you.

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Avacyn Restored Casual & Commander Review: Green

Now in the home stretch of reviewing Avacyn Restored, I get to continue my trend of reviewing colors I love. While I’m a red mage at heart, I love the options Green provides. Between color fixing, mana acceleration and some of the best non-creature removal options out there, you can’t go wrong with it.

Casual and Commander Review: Avacyn Restored
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts & Lands

Abundant Growth

I really like how Wizards is actively making auras that aren’t automatic card disadvantage for simply existing. The draw a card aspect of this is a nice touch, but the simple fact is this just is a mana fixer, not mana acceleration. If you’re playing some weird five color monstrosity (which I’ve been known to do) that isn’t domain, it’s a fine way to make sure you don’t get screwed. Plus it doesn’t mention other mana symbols specifically, so it works fine in any Commander deck with green.

Blessings of Nature

This can quickly become a cornerstone of an odd counter based deck. Being able to reload a Triskelion or augment any modular creature makes this a decent spell. The miracle cost is very nice and could theoretically give you a 6/6 on turn 2 if you’re playing Isamaru or something similar. The sorcery speed holds it back from being really excellent though.

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