End of the Month Ramble

I was looking at my drafts folder just now and saw seven different entries. Most of these posts will talk about some games I’ve played lately and others have focused on MTG — this is the way it’s been around here for over a year now. There has been a bit of a lull in my posting this month compared to the ramping up I’d been doing over the last six months or so, and part of that is due to this draft folder.

I’ve gotten into the habit of starting up a draft post every time I start up a new game. I’ll usually do a starter post and then another after I’ve finished a game. I’ve had great success clearing several games out of my backlog since the tail end of last year but haven’t committed to a new game in probably a month. I’ve had trouble keeping interested as of late, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’ve become more engrossed in Magic. Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not writing off gaming whatsoever, yet I feel like pushing myself to finish game after game has come to an end. I still want to continue working on the backlog and I still want to play new games that have recently come out or are on the horizon — this should always be a gaming blog. It’s just that the way I’ve been feeding this blog is through the things I’ve been playing and not having much to say about the video game side of things means that drafts sit until I either finally have enough to say about the title or they get deleted.

Looking through it this evening I saw mostly MTG-oriented titles but I’ve been trying to keep some sort of parity between the two major subjects of my blog. The video game drafts just didn’t inspire me to write. So I thought I’d jot down some stream of consciousness and get one last blog post out for the month. So what have I been doing?

Remember when I used to talk about League of Legends all of the time? Yeah me too. It’s been over a year since I’ve played the game, but I have kept up on the pro scene. I did also download the new client and update it at some point but still haven’t played. Think I might play before the year ends at least. So anyway, the Spring Split of the NALCS ended recently and MSI starts this weekend. I watched most of the games through the split and there were surprising changes to rosters and the way the whole thing works too. Most interesting was seeing Team Liquid stomp the 1st place team (100 Thieves) in the finals. Yeah, that Team Liquid. I always liked the team as a sort of underdog squad but they always ended up in 4th place spawning memes and whatnot. More impressive is that Doublelift plays for Liquid now, and has won his 3rd split on a 3rd team, something not done before in NA (or the world, I think). MSI should be interesting but I’m ready for the Summer Split to begin. I’ll likely wait until the mid-season changes to take place before I dip my toes back into playing but it’s been on my mind for some time.

The NFL draft just happened this past weekend as well. The Packers have done a number of interesting things in the offseason. The GM was canned and a new one hired along with some other coaching changes. They made a splash in free agency picking up Jimmy Graham, but let some big names like Jordy Nelson go (he’s on the Raiders now). The draft wasn’t fully focused on defense either, but apparently the cornerback they took in that round is pretty good. I’m not sure how the team will look but I’m sure we’ll be back in the post season this year.

As I said, I’ve been engrossed in Magic lately, trying to benefit from cards in my collection that are worth money but collecting dust by selling them and getting some money cards in the process. I’ve been brewing a bunch lately because of Dominaria’s release an having opened a box, but also have dipped my toes into MTG Arena. I’m hesitant to spend any money there or to even really play until they say they won’t do more account wipes, but it is promising and a way to play Magic when my friends aren’t available or I’m not going to a store event. I’ve also been trying to tighten up my decks by eliminating some projects that aren’t really doing it for me anymore, retiring others and turning some into new decks. For instance, *spoilers* I broke up my Reaper King deck and am building a Jodah deck in its place. I’m also turning my Sram deck into a Shu Yun deck, but keeping the voltron theme just so I can use both Sram and Jhoira to draw cards like crazy. My mono green deck is now helmed by Yisan, and I’ve talked about some other crammed together brews I’ve done recently here already. In doing so I’m making the existing decks more competitive and also cutting down the number of decks I have, because when I get going with brews I go overboard. I’ve also been listening to more podcasts and watching things on YouTube to continue to improve my knowledge of the game.

I’ve been playing games too. Clash Royale has a new Clan War feature that is interesting and replaces the old clan chests. It’s been fun if not a little frustrating. I’ve started up Pillars of Eternity but am only like 4 hours in. I started Prey, and am probably 5 hours into that one. Ditto ELEX, but I feel like I might want to start that one over and go a different route. The problem is that I haven’t really wanted to just focus on one thing and play it through, I’ve been wanting to spread my time around and that isn’t conducive to finishing games. Perhaps I’ll find my groove again, but I think for now I’m going to just fly by the seat of my pants and play whatever suits me at the time.

Speaking of, the whole Daybreak fiasco… I’ve basically called it quits with the company. Maybe I should write a full proper post on the subject, but let’s just say that I’ve spent some money with them over the years, even as recently as last month, so I’m now at a loss. I don’t want to give money to them anymore, and I cancelled my EQ2 sub. It’s sad because I will always love the Everquest series, but I think it’s time to put it to bed. No thanks with all of that drama.

That’s all I have for now. Happy Monday or something.

TWR: My First Selling Experience

Generally speaking, this column has been devoted to the various facets of the card game Magic: The Gathering. I’ve written posts about various deck builds, talked about cataloging and various online resources, even chronicled my time at various in-store events. There’s one thing that I haven’t touched on yet, and I wanted to do so today. There are various online retailers that will ship cards to you if you are so-inclined to buy singles. I’ve done so for quite some time, but until this week, I had never sold cards to one of these retailers. The retailer I’ve done most of my business is Card Kingdom up in Seattle.

Card Kingdom has a reputation for fast shipping. When you make an order, you’ll get said order within a week’s time delivered to your doorstep. I haven’t had a single order go missing or contain worse quality cards than what I ordered, and they’ve all arrived promptly. There are other retailers out there that I’ve done business with, but Card Kingdom has been very reliable. Their prices are sometimes a bit higher than competitors, but those competitors tend to ship slower or in some cases I’ve seen Excellent condition cards sold as Near Mint. Anyway, in this case I decided to do a test run and see how it would go if I sold off some of my expensive cards that I wasn’t really using. The cards I sold:

The masterpieces and invocations were the big money chase cards from some earlier sets, and I was lucky enough to pull a couple from packs. Both of those sold for around $50 a pop, along with a few extra bucks coming from the other two. All said and done they gave me $149 in store credit for four cards, which opened up a lot of options for purchasing. One of the decks I build recently was Zur the Enchanter, who is supposed to be a Tier 1 general, but I felt that I was missing some pieces that would up his game. These are the cards I picked up for him:

I honestly wanted to trade those cards in to grab a Mana Crypt, which is currently around $100 at most outlets. Unfortunately Card Kingdom was out of stock so I settled for several of the good mana rocks I didn’t have in my collection, along with upgrading to Damnation from some other boardwipe and trading in another enchantment for Rest in Peace. These are all cards that should help the deck push towards its Tier 1 potential. I also put the shock lands into the deck so it’s valued at around $400 which is high compared to most of the decks I usually build.

I picked up some other odds n ends as well to use up the store credit. Seedborn Muse is a busted card and I grabbed the last one they had in stock. I’ve got a deck that’s going in immediately. Squee is going into my Krenko deck and Selvala and Prossh are two commanders I needed for decks I’ve already shared here that are still under construction.

Overall it was a good experience. I turned 4 cards into 10 and spent no money (outside of shipping) in the process. I’m going to comb through my collection again soon and see what other money cards I can trade up for. If you are on the fence about sending your cards to an online merchant like I was, you can rest assured that this one works!

The War Report: Budget Knight Tribal

Keeping with the Dominaria theme I have going this week, I thought I’d share another brew that came from my session over the weekend (buying a box will do this to you). Despite there being a bunch of legendary creatures in the set, most of them didn’t appeal as a full on general. Many of the legendary creatures that I pulled from the box went into the 99 of other decks, where their support was most needed. Ditto for the legendary “others” (artifacts, sorceries, and other cards deemed legendary). However, there were a select few legendary creatures from the set that inspired me to create something new, regardless of if that new brew would be competitive or not. Like the new buy-a-box promo commander build that I wrote about recently, this was one of the new creatures from Dominaria that I wanted to build a deck around. First of all, I’m a sucker for the Orzhov color pairing, and have a bunch of experience building decks with it. Second, I’ve built nearly all of the old school tribes from the original sets — and Knights finally have some legit support. Finally, I’m rather good at building budget to mid-tier decks because you can find busted interactions on any budget, but you can’t combo off on turn 2 or 3 for $150 (current Card Kingdom pricing is sitting at $134). Let’s get to it, shall we?

Aryel, Knight of Windgrace isn’t a lord in the traditional sense. Lords initially started out as a sub-type of Creature, but were classified as Lords. Lord of Atlantis and Goblin King are early examples of this (they are also good examples of early tribe support). Landwalk abilities are pretty much a thing of the past, but a lord giving creatures they share a type with +1/+1 is still a standard ability for most. In this instance, Aryel doesn’t fit the lord moniker so well but she does have plenty of the Knight keyword in her rules text along with being a Knight herself. Like a good 2-color commander, she has an ability that requires white mana and another that requires black. Being able to pump out 2/2’s with vigilance isn’t that bad of an ability (and if you were playing this in the Brawl format it’s probably more busted), but more importantly for a black and tapping a few other knights you can destroy creatures at will. Removal is already strong in this color pair, but I feel like this should be an aggressive, creature-based deck. It turns out that there has been some attempt by Wizards of the Coast to provide support to the tribe, and given that you have access to nearly the entire back catalog of cards you can finally smash enough of them together to make a serviceable deck. I’m happy that Wizards has been focusing on giving some of these forgotten tribes support, and hope that they continue to do so because the tribal theme is pretty fun to build around. Let’s take a look at some of the creatures I’ve included and the reasons why.

Bear with me here, there’s a lot to take in. First off, there are some legendary knights around that we want in this deck for various reasons. Some of these knights have life link, so there’s some fun things we can do with our life total, like destroying permanents by paying life with Vona. Elenda can also make a ton of tokens if she gets big enough before dying. I’ve included an equipment sub theme and a ton of lord effects to beef up the mostly 2/2 squad we’ll be running. There are tutors for various things, like using Thalia’s lancers to pull out one of the legendary knights, or Knight of the White Orchid to get extra mana. There’s a pair of Knights with shadow that essentially can’t be blocked but can be pumped after blockers are (not) declared. Another pair gets +1/+1 depending on the amount of lands opponents control (admittedly weak if not playing against anyone playing White or Black). Other synergies include Archetype of Courage and Kwende, the former giving all creatures First Strike and the latter giving them all Double Strike. With the right amount of ramp, you can get a pretty solid army going. But you’ll need some help to do so.

I’ve added all the tribal goodies like Coat of Arms and Vanquisher’s Banner, but also included many of the anthems from recent sets (or recently reprinted). Lastly, a duo of Planeswalkers that can create further Knight tokens to beef up our already solid army. That’s really all this deck wants to do, is make a ton of 2/2’s and then beef them all up to 7/7’s and wreak havoc. Boardwipes will probably be an issue, but so be it. You can’t win ’em all, right? You can see the full decklist here.

The War Report: Boros Goodstuff

It’s Dominaria Week, and that means a ton of new brews will be popping up online revolving around the new legendaries. I have several brews that I want to share, along with possibly an update across the board for other decks that got upgrades via the new set. With that said, I have a bunch of MTG related posts that you’ll see coming down the pipeline for the next week or so, and that probably means less gaming posts but posting something is better than posting nothing, right?

Having pre-ordered a box of Dominaria, I received the exclusive buy-a-box promo card, Firesong and Sunspeaker. I spoke about this card recently, but took the time over the weekend to find a build that feels pretty damn good for it, while remaining budget. The Boros color combination is joked about for being the weakest pairing in Magic, and this card doesn’t single-handedly fix that but the deck looks solid on paper. Will have to test it a bit to see how well it performs, but it appears serviceable. Here’s the commander in case you are unfamiliar:

Firesong and Sunspeaker are fairly straight forward. A 4/6 for 6 mana, that causes your red instants and sorceries to gain lifelink, and your white lifegain spells get an added burn component. Sounds simple enough, but it can get somewhat complicated. Let’s take a look some examples:

Anger of the Gods is a red sorcery that deals 3 damage to each creature. Because your red spells get lifelink with F&S on the battlefield, this means you gain 3 life for each creature the spell hits, included F&S (who will live through the damage). Ritual of Rejuvenation causes you to gain 4 life. If F&S is on the battlefield, you’ll then be able to deal 3 damage to target creature or player (you get to draw a card as well). This is the kind of card I’d never play, but a 3 mana gain 4 life deal 3 damage and draw a card spell sounds pretty nice! Things get more complicated when you play a multi-colored spell, like Lightning Helix. The spell itself deals 3 damage to target creature or player, and you gain life. This is both a red and a white spell, so the 3 damage you deal will also cause you to gain 3 life. Gaining 3 life will then allow you to cause 3 damage, but you’ll basically end up with multiple triggers off of a single card.

Cast Lightning Helix >> deal 3 damage >> trigger F&S for red gain 3 life >> deal 3 more damage >> gain 3 life >> trigger F&S for white deal 3 damage. So for two mana you’ll gain 6 life and deal 9 damage. 

This deck wants to be a spellslinging deck despite being in colors that aren’t that great for it. As such, I’ve included quite a bit of “good stuff” — that is to say that it’s some of the better cards in the colors but not necessarily all on theme. The main goals are to build around dealing damage and gaining life, and there’s a number of win-cons that can be used in the process. Let’s just jump into some of the notable additions so you can see where I was going with the build.


So we’re stealing some of Oloro’s tricks here, but theoretically you should be able to keep a fairly high life total throughout a game, and use that life total to win with cards like Felidar Sovereign. You can gain infinite life with the Famished Paladin/Resplendant Mentor combo, you can flatten someone with a super large Serra Avatar, and you can get some big mana to help with your X burn spells using Neheb. Balefire liege is a lord for white and red creatures but also has F&S’s passives on it as well. I’ve also included Young Pyromancer, Crested Sunmare, Flamewright and Blaze Commando for some token generation to help protect us (or potentially win with go-wide strategies). I’m sure it’s starting to come together for you by now, but let’s look at the supporting spells (besides the ones I showed you earlier).


So I’ve tried to keep with the theme of the commander with our bevy of support. You’ll be destroying things and gaining life, or gaining life and doing more damage, or getting tokens off of triggers, etc. If you can get to 50+ life, you can win with Test of Endurance or use 50 life to blow someone up with the Aetherflux Reservoir. All of the big X spells or board wipes do damage or cause you to gain life, which in turn will do that some more. Blasphemous Act and Star of Extinction are particularly good, because they do large amounts of damage to targets, meaning you gain that same amount of life per target. Hit ten creatures with Star of Extinction, and you’re gaining 200 life. That’s just crazy.

Overall I don’t think this deck is going to be very competitive, but I think it will be fun to pilot. It’s under $150 total investment so not bad, but you’ll have a tough time getting the commander if you didn’t buy a box. Currently holding close to $20 value and that could potentially go up.

TWR: The Value Proposition – Dominaria

The official release date for the newest Magic: The Gathering set, Dominaria, isn’t until April 27th (this upcoming Friday) but because I pre-ordered a box of the set, I was able to pick it up this past weekend during the pre-release events. This isn’t the first time I’ve purchased a box, as when I was newly returning after a decade-plus break I picked up a box of Aether Revolt, which was the first set to release after coming back. In hindsight, Aether Revolt probably wasn’t the best set to buy a box of, mainly because it was before several changes took place. I should also notate that this box was a gift from my wonderful girlfriend who spoils the shit out of me. Thanks my love!

There are a few things that are different this time around. The standard rotation changed up a bit over the course of the last year, where the sets that are rotating out take longer to happen. Wizards also decided that instead of multiple split up sets during the course of the year (like the Kaladesh/Aether Revolt and Amonkhet/Hour of Devastation cycles) there will be larger sets a couple of times a year and the return of the Core Set. This means that Dominaria is a larger set than Aether Revolt was (269 cards as opposed to 184) and as a result the break down of cards that I received was more favorable. This was also the first time that you could pick up a pre-ordered box during the pre-release window, and getting cards early is always great (that’s the main reason why I usually go to the pre-release in the first place). A discount was given for pre-ordering a box this time around as well as the buy-a-box promo card being exclusive and unavailable in packs.

The card itself isn’t the most amazing thing in the world, but Wizards has been exploring different concepts lately, like adding keywords to spells. Giving your red damage dealing spells lifelink is an interesting idea, as is giving your white lifegain spells a small damage dealing component. Boros has been weak in EDH for a long time, and though I don’t think this magically makes things all better, it’s still a Boros commander I wouldn’t mind building and will likely do so. If nothing else it’s a cool card to have in the collection and I’m glad I got the box as I managed a bunch of great pulls! Since I broke down the box I purchased last time, I felt like I should do so again just to make some comparisons and sate my own curiosity. Here’s the numbers for Dominaria:


2 Mythic Rare
4 Rare
15 Uncommon


1 Mythic Rare
5 Rare (1 foil)
13 Uncommon (1 foil)
37 Common


1 Mythic Rare
4 Rare
18 Uncommon
63 Common (1 foil)


1 Mythic Rare
5 Rare
14 Uncommon
64 Common (1 foil)


3 Rare
14 Uncommon
61 Common


4 Rare
12 Uncommon
66 Common (1 foil)


4 Rare
13 Uncommon (1 foil)
65 Common


36 Tokens
14 Non-Basic Lands – Woodland Cemetery, Sulfur Falls and Cabal Stronghold
37 Basic Lands – 1 foil Island
1 Buy-A-Box Promo – Firesong and Sunspeaker

So comparing this box to Aether Revolt, we can draw a couple of conclusions. Both contained 540 cards but of those I ended up with different numbers. Tokens and Basic lands will be the same, though I ended up with 7 foils as opposed to 5 the last time. I also opened up more Mythic Rares this time, with a total of 5 instead of 3.  I guess the trade off there is that I ended up with less rares this time, 29 compared to 34. Overall though I feel like the value of this set is better than the last few, though I’m not speaking monetarily. From a gameplay perspective I jammed a bunch of great cards into existing decks, and have already brewed up two decks helmed by Dominaria commanders and still want to build Firesong and Sunspeaker as well. Speaking of money though, I earned back about half of the box price with one card and that turned out the be the most valuable card in the set. I’ve been really lucky when it comes to this stuff, and had a good feeling going into this deal. That’s not to say that I got every card that I wanted, there are still a handful I’ll have to buy singles of but I think I made back the cost of the box at least, and that doesn’t always happen (definitely didn’t happen with Aether Revolt!). Like I did the last time, I’ll just share my Mythic Rare pulls now, but I’ll have some more articles about the builds I’m making with the new cards soon enough.

Mythic Rares:

Of the Mythic Rares in the set, I got a few of the good ones. Jhoira is a pretty busted card, but my roommate has already built a deck around it and didn’t pull it during the pre-release so we’re going to be doing a trade. He did pull the Weatherlight as his Mythic Rare though, so we’re trading those straight across. History of Benalia is a card that spiked due to its viability in Standard, so it’s value is pretty good. I slammed it into a new brew. Karn, Scion of Urza was the most valuable card in the set and I found a place for him as well. Darigaaz is one that I’m not using and probably won’t. I could slam him into the Prossh deck I’m building due to being on color but it’s just an expensive card and not very synergistic. Lastly, Naru Meha is a new Wizard lord that I’m throwing into my Inalla build just because it has a nice ETB effect and will buff my other wizards so why not?

Overall I feel that this was a good buy. There are so many great cards in this set that buying a box is a sure bet and if you’re playing the paper game, you probably should get one while you can. They have amazing and busted uncommons in this set so the power level is absurd. I’d buy another box if I didn’t already have mostly everything I want. Highly recommended and worth every penny!