The War Report: Izzet Chaos Brew

For the first time in this column, I’m going to write about a brew that I came up with that I might not ever build. Most of the time I don’t bother writing about a decklist unless it’s something that I have already built or something that I’m looking forward to building and have some of the pieces for. As I’ve written about in the past, I’m attempting to not only create decklists that are differing color schemes, but I’m trying to build at least one deck of each archetype. There are a bunch of different archetypes depending on who you ask, but some of the main ones are Aggro, Mid Range, Control, Combo Group Hug, and Chaos. I have a few aggro decks, most of them having tribal sub-themes. I’d say some of my decks fall under the mid range theme, but I wouldn’t label any of them as such. I have several decks that rely on combos to win. I’m building an Azorius control deck with Stax and Tax themes, have a group hug deck under construction, and now I’d like to talk about this current brew, which is a chaos deck.

Chaos tends to hold true to its name: it aims to create chaos. Having looked around for ideas for this brew, it seems that most don’t have a true win condition, they just like to create fucked up situations for the board and then hope for the best. The same is true for control decks, they want to make the board state annoying for everyone and try to eek out a win when no one is looking. Coin flips are something that have existed in Magic since the early days, and what better way to create chaos than to allow a coin to determine the outcome of certain actions? The recent Battlebond set provided a bunch of new partner cards that can be paired up as Commanders, and one of the pairs was a shoo-in for this particular build type:


I saw the potential for these two as leaders of an EDH deck first hand at GP Vegas. The lone Battlebond draft I participated in had them in the mix, and our opponents used them to great effect. Okaun gets double power/toughness for each coin flip you win, and Zndrsplit draws you cards for those coin flip wins. With both on the board, you get a large beater and card draw for each coin flip one, but not just your own — if anyone else has to flip a coin for any reason and wins, you’ll still get the bonus to Okaun and an extra card in hand. As such, these two are essentially your win condition, as you can probably get to 21 commander damage pretty easily given enough coin flip wins in a turn, and you’ll get quite a few cards drawn if you win as well. Given the history of coin flips in Magic, we want to be flipping them as much as possible, so here’s some additional ways to do so:

Are you Flipping kidding me?

Bear with me, there is a lot to take in here. You can read the individual cards for descriptions as to what they do, and in some cases you can reap plenty of benefits if you’re lucky enough to win some of your coin flips — but the real value here is having one or both of your commanders on the field so that you can reap additional benefits from them as well. Some cards will force your opponents to flip coins, and those wins will also help you out. Ideally, you’ll get your commanders out onto the board and then start playing some of these spells or creatures and utilize their coin flipping to buff up Okaun and draw more cards with Zndrsplit. I won’t go into specifics because for the most part these cards are being used for two purposes — value off of your commanders, and to create chaos in the game. One card I would like to highlight though is Chance Encounter. This enchantment is one of our alternate wincons; it states that for each time you flip a coin you put a luck counter on the enchantment. Get 10 of those counters and during your next upkeep you win the game. Hopefully you’re causing enough chaos that it slips by your opponents!

Other Chaos:

This is the part of the deck that isn’t reliant on coin flips, rather the part that aims to create chaos. From stealing opponents stuff, to taking extra turns, to copying spells or warping permanents into something else, these cards should help to create a chaotic board state and keep your opponents on their toes. No two games of EDH are ever alike, but this should make it to where no one can predict any sort of outcome whatsoever.

That’s all I have to share for now. I’m still unsure if I’ll ever actually build this deck but it was fun to brew and I’m sure it would provide a different EDH experience from the norm.

The New Colossus

The Steam Summer Sale is in full swing and as usual I was tempted by some titles that have long been on my wishlist but are normally full priced. It’s hard to pass up a good deal, so I was trying to justify spending the money while having a conversation with my girlfriend. I really couldn’t justify the expenditure, but she pulled the trigger for me. I’m a lucky guy! As you could probably guess by the title and picture above, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus has been on my list for a long time and it was 60% off during the sale so for $24 it came into my possession.

During my first session with the game, I was already impressed. It gets a little graphic and touches on some important social issues within the first thirty minutes, but otherwise feels much like the original. Graphically it seems to be done in the same engine because I feel like it’s similar enough to The New Order, but I also haven’t played that one in quite some time so perhaps there have been some updates that I’m unaware of. I was happy to see that it supported 21:9 aspect ratio and 2k resolution, so it looks glorious on my new (ish) monitor. I saw no issues with framerate drops or hitching/tearing. It flows seamlessly between cut scene and game engine and I have been enthralled with the storyline once again.

I’m still impressed by the way these developers managed to take a 1990’s FPS with zero story and turn it into this magnum opus, but I’m glad they have because it feels like so much more than a mindless shooter. Sure, the game is fairly linear and has its share of big fuck you weaponry and explosions, but in between we see the humanity of this world and these characters and it’s a nice change of pace from the hoorah military shooters that have dominated the marketplace for so long. Similar to titles like Bioshock, this one has a compelling story that keeps you invested after the firefights have calmed down.

When the game opens, it gives you a little snippet of what happened in the first game, and then picks up precisely where it left off. B.J. got a little fucked up at the end of the first game, and gave the order to blow shit up despite the fact that it would kill him. Thankfully his friends came to his rescue, but the extent of his injuries were pretty dire. He floats in and out of consciousness, having flashbacks of his childhood (which seemed pretty fucked up) while his friends cut out bits of his guts and whatnot. Eventually he recovers, just to find that the ship he’s on is under attack, and finding that his legs aren’t working at that juncture. Equipped with a wheelchair and a gun, he goes on the offensive.

Through the first few scenes he eventually gets captured and his friend gets beheaded. The evil leader from the first game is back and wants to make the revolutionaries pay. She fat shames her daughter, tries to force her to do the beheading and then takes matters into her own hands. Thankfully at one point while trying to kill another friend, he breaks loose and shoots some of the soldiers, and in the ensuing scuffle B.J. is able to get into the power armor that had been worn by his beheaded friend and can now use his legs again! The Frau escapes while her daughter helps the team to escape and release their U-boat from the airship’s grasp.

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At this point I took a break but intend on pushing through this title fairly quickly. My girl also ponied up for the Dark Souls Remaster and I really want to get going on that series so I’ll have more to write about in that regard soon.

Did you grab anything in the Summer Sale?

TWR: Doran to Arcades Upgrade (on a Budget)

Core Set 2019’s release is right around the corner, and I’ve already gone over the spoiled cards and those I found to be the best in the set. One of those spoiled cards inspired me to do something different with one of my existing decks. Let’s look at the commanders in question:

I created a budget jank deck a few months back where I set myself a $50 limit and attempted to make something work despite it not having access to some of the better more expensive cards. Doran was the commander I settled on, and his special ability allows all of your creatures to assign their combat damage via toughness rather than power. By itself that ability doesn’t mean much, and lends itself pretty readily to building a wall tribal deck, which is what I did. It relied heavily on Assault Formation and Rolling Stones to work though, and that was a limiting factor. Enter one of the new versions of the Elder Dragons, Arcades, the Strategist. Arcades essentially combines Doran’s ability with that of Rolling Stones, in that now all of your creatures will assign combat damage via toughness, and those with defender can now attack as if they didn’t have defender. On top of that, Arcades is a 3/5 flying/vigilance for only 4 mana, AND he draws you cards each time you cast a creature with defender. Needless to say, I have removed the $50 limit (though I’ve kept the deck under $100 still, so it’s a budget build) and swapped commanders. Arcades could actually make this deck a bit more consistent and competitive. Let’s look at the old decklist (those crossed out names have been swapped with other cards, as we’re working with a different color identity).

1 Doran, the Siege Tower
1 Abzan Beastmaster
1 Amaranthine Wall
1 Archers’ Parapet
1 Assault Formation
1 Axebane Guardian
1 Belligerent Brontodon
1 Blooming Marsh
1 Carrion Wall
1 Cathedral Membrane
1 Colossus of Akros
1 Command Tower
1 Cultivate
1 Dazzling Ramparts
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Dusk/Dawn
1 Entangler
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Fell the Mighty
8 Forest
1 Give No Ground
1 Glyph of Doom
1 Golden Guardian
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Golgari Signet
1 Guardian Zendikon
1 Harmonize
1 Isolated Chapel
1 Jareth, Leonine Titan
1 Krosan Grip
1 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
1 Moaning Wall
1 Mobile Fort
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Overgrown Battlement
13 Plains
1 Plea for Guidance
1 Prison Barricade
1 Rampant Growth
1 Rolling Stones
1 Sandsteppe Citadel
1 Selesnya Signet
1 Shifting Wall
1 Slaughter the Strong
1 Sol Ring
1 Stalwart Shield-Bearers
8 Swamp
1 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Thallid Shell-Dweller
1 Tower Defense
1 Tree of Perdition
1 Valor Made Real
1 Venom
1 Vine Trellis
1 Wakestone Gargoyle
1 Walking Wall
1 Wall of Blood
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Wall of Bone
1 Wall of Essence
1 Wall of Faith
1 Wall of Glare
1 Wall of Hope
1 Wall of Limbs
1 Wall of Nets
1 Wall of Omens
1 Wall of Shadows
1 Wall of Souls
1 Wall of Swords
1 Wall of Tanglecord
1 Wave of Reckoning
1 Whip Vine

For the most part, I’ve just removed the black cards and replaced them with blue ones, though I was able to also find some other additions that will make the deck better. Here’s the new creatures:


A couple of nice defender cards exist in blue, two of which transform into bigger badder creatures. Ludevic’s Test subject turns from lowly 0/3 to a massive 13/13 trampler, and the Thing in the Ice changes from an 0/4 to a 7/8 that bounces the board. The obligatory Fog Bank, Wall of Denial and Guard Gomazoa round out flying defenders that aren’t likely to die. Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa is one of the few creatures without defender, but he can essentially make all of these walls unblockable. (EDIT @3:05pm: Upon further inspection of the deck I’ve included Tetsuko Umezawa to also make all of our walls unblockable). I’ve also included a wall that can counter a creature spell, one that can be transmuted to tutor something better out, one that let’s us scry each turn, and one that makes one creature unblockable for a turn. These cards go hand in hand with the other white and green walls that stayed in the deck.


Having the addition of blue I decided to add some counterspells rather than the usual removal package. The reason being is I figure that I’d rather counter a board wipe or a combo piece than worry about spot removal. Sphinx’s Revelation is great for card draw and life gain, and a couple more mana rocks were added to the pile. Two other fun pieces are Aurification and Meekstone. The former makes it so that any creature that does damage to you gets a gold counter on it and becomes a wall. This can slow down aggro decks or keep people from attacking you altogether. The gold counters are removed when the enchantment is destroyed, but any control is good control. Speaking of, the Meekstone is your best friend, as it will keep any creatures with power 2 or great from untapping, and since all of the creatures we control have 2 or less power, this won’t hurt us a bit.

That’s the upgrade, but I feel like it’s an awesome one. You can see the fully updated deck list here.

TWR: Looking Forward to Core Set 2019

A few years back Wizards of the Coast decided to do away with Core sets. This was a change that some people didn’t care about, but others felt was taking away a main set that had come to be expected each year. I would fall into the latter camp, because Alpha, Beta, Unlimited and Revised were essentially core sets, and I got started with the game back in those days, but then came back to the game again with 7th edition which was essentially a core set as well. At some point they started calling them core sets, with a year affixed to the title, and then got rid of them altogether. But good news friends, core sets are back and standard players especially should be rejoicing. You’ll get cards in a core set that are reprints of big powerful older cards, along with some draft fodder just like all other sets. I wanted to take the time today to look at the set, as the full spoilers are now out and it’s a good time to do so. I’ll break things down by color and try to give my reasoning for highlighting these particular cards. Most of them are cards I’d like for my own EDH decks, but some are just plain good cards (reprints) that people should get in their collections.


Most of the multi-colored cards represent the original Elder Dragons from the 1990’s. This new version of Nicol Bolas is actually quite nice, though I don’t really have a slot for him unless I plopped him into my Jodah deck. Arcades on the other hand, I have some awesome plans for him, which I’ll be writing about soon. There are other Elder Dragons and some middling multi-color stuff in the set but nothing worth pointing out in my opinion.


I’m being fairly selective here, but there are some decent white cards here. I really like the way Wizards have given White a sort of Blue ability in the “look at the top X cards of your library and pick one to put in your hand” effects. Ajani’s Influence combines the Support keyword (without actually having it) and this card draw effect, while the Militia Bugler has the card draw as well. It’s been a weakness for white and they’ve been fixing it. Valiant Knight is another great lord for Knight tribal, and I’ll be slotting that into my Aryel deck. Finally, Cleansing Nova is another 5 mana board wipe for White, but it’s got the nice ability to either kill all creatures, or take out the enchantress or stax player in your pod. Good stuff.


Blue has a wide mix of things going on and a chunk of it is pretty good. Omniscience getting a reprint is good as it was starting to creep up towards being too expensive. Nexus of Fate is a great card, but unfortunately is the buy-a-box promo and I don’t want a box of this set enough to get one. Patient Rebuilding is some nice jank, where you mill an opponent and draw cards as well. Metamporphic Alteration is a great removal spell or can copy you a big baddie. The Phantom is a good spirit lord if that’s your thing, and the new Tezzeret is actually pretty good if you’re running an artifact deck.


Black got some love too, with some interesting cards. Liliana’s Contract could be an alternate win-con in decks heavy with demons, so I’ll likely find a spot for it in my Kaalia deck. The new Liliana is good for Zombie decks, and I think I’ll put her in mine. Fraying Omnipotence would be good to cause chaos in a game that is stalling out, and finally Isareth the Awakener is a nice recursion engine on the cheap.


Red is typically a color I don’t really care too much about, but lately there have been some good red cards coming out. There are two Goblins here that I definitely want to slam into my Krenko deck, one being a lord that lets me sacrifice gobs to destroy artifacts, and the other let’s me sac them to potentially cast cards from the top of my library. Good stuff! Alpine Moon is sort of a Blood Moon effect, but not amazing. It will still deal with Gaea’s Cradles and other troublesome lands. Lathliss should be in Dragon tribal decks, giving you tokens and pumping your dragons across the board. Lastly, Apex of Power could be decent in spell slinger decks, as you’ll be casting a bunch of spells for free.


Green feels like one of the weaker colors this time around, but they have been buffing it for a few sets now so that makes sense. We get a new planeswalker in Vivien, and she seems alright. Her Invocation is more card draw for green, and one of the lone dinosaurs in the set is pretty good allowing you some card draw in a dino deck that doesn’t have a lot of it. Sort of meh.

Colorless and Lands:

Crucible of Worlds is a big money reprint, and getting another Reliquary Tower reprint is nice too because it was starting to creep up in price and is an EDH staple. I also like Isolation Tower which will let you get around hexproof. Dragon’s Hoard should be in a tribal deck as it will get you card draw for dragons. Chaos wand belongs in a chaos deck, but it allows you to steal spells from enemies. The Sword should be in a Knight deck, the Scepter is a long way from being fast but will get you extra turns if not dealt with. Lastly, the Bookcase is actually a decent wall, and I know where I’ll be putting that one.

Overall the core set is a great entry point for those new to the game, but is sort of a meh set for veterans. As I’ve shown here there are a good couple dozen cards that are worth having amongst 280 cards… so buying packs doesn’t seem like the way to go for me. I intend to buy singles of most of these cards and then prepare for Commander 2018 which is right around the corner.

Intergalactic Summer Sale

It’s that time of year again, the big Steam Summer Sale is here, and that means discounts on a huge amount of games. Typically the summer sale comes with some sort of activity to distract you from the money you’ll be spending on a bunch of games. Each year it’s been a little different, though one of the best years was a couple back when there was a clicker game and it was actually fairly entertaining. This year is following that same sort of idea, with a new clicker game, a new badge to craft and of course the big discounts we have come to expect from the event.

Remember when I wrote about the Spring Cleaning Event a couple months back and we all received a mystery box? Well now we know what that was for. You’ll be playing as a “Salien” fighting against other aliens and guarding your base. You can customize you Salien and that mystery box contained various bits of clothing for your paper doll. A little underwhelming, but that’s what it is.

Aside from clicking to shoot your base’s turret, you also get some different abilities. You start with one, and it will help to keep you from getting overwhelmed. Apparently you gain experience for completing rounds on planets and as you level up you’ll open new abilities. I don’t think I’m going to put that much time into this, but I assume the more you play the more you can open up and perhaps there are more ways to gain trading cards. I know the discovery queue will give you 3 cards a day and then you get some for playing the event, but there could be other things I’ve missed so far.

From that main map you’ll enter a planet and then choose a vacant square to do battle. You’ll fight aliens for a couple of minutes, earn xp and then move on. Apparently by completing squares you get entered to win games, but I’m not holding my breath when it comes to winning something (I have terrible luck). It’s probably best that you get in there and blast as many aliens as you can, then you might actually win something, but overall I’d say it’s probably just best to craft the badge (if you want it, I like collecting them) and get some sweet discounts on games. I know I dropped a couple bucks to pick up the Darkest Dungeon expansions, and Wolfenstein II is tempting me at $23. Otherwise, that’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s a nice little distraction and I always look forward to seeing what new things Valve comes up with for these events. Happy gaming all!