The War Report: PING!

The Prerelease for Guilds of Ravnica starts this weekend, and I plan to attend on Sunday to try and get my hands on some sweet new cards. When we first started seeing spoilers for the set, one of the new legendary creatures stood out to me as something I’d want to build, and I shared that build for Lazav recently. Afterwards, I took another look at the legendary creatures in the set and decided that I also wanted to brew something up for the new Niv-Mizzet, Parun. You might ask why, considering I already have a Locust God deck that does similar things, and one of the old Niv-Mizzets is already in that decklist. Let’s look at the similarities between these cards, and why I think the new Niv-Mizzet deserves his own deck:

The Locust God, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and Niv-Mizzet, Parun all have three things in common. They’re Izzet, they have flying, and they want you to draw cards. However, each does something that is unique as well. Locust God wants to draw cards to create hasty 1/1 fliers. He can loot for 4 cmc, and is basically immortal, as he is returned to your hand any time he dies (so he avoids commander tax). The OG Niv-Mizzet still wants to draw cards, but so that he can do 1 damage to any target. He can be tapped to draw a card and get this result. The new Niv-Mizzet however, has some interesting features. Firstly, he can’t be countered, so you don’t have to worry about that form of removal. Second, he has the same ability as the OG Niv-Mizzet, in that drawing cards allows you to ping for 1 damage each. However, he also draws cards off of each instant and sorcery spell cast. This means in a spell-slinging deck, you get double value. Let’s say you play a wheel, you’ll draw a card off the cast trigger and do a damage, so the wheel replaces itself, but then you discard all cards in hand and typically draw the same amount so you’ll do that much more damage as that spell resolves. Guess what else we can do? Storm!

The Perfect Storm:

You’ll notice, the only card listed above that even has the word “storm” on it is the new one from GRN, Thousand-Year Storm. This isn’t actually a storm build. However, in a sense it is. Thousand-Year Storm enables a quasi-storm build because it allows you to copy any instant or sorcery you cast and pick new targets. I’ve included a bunch of other spells and creatures that do the same thing. The idea here is to continuously copy spells like your wheels and continuously cycle through the deck, while pinging your opponents to death with Niv-Mizzet (both versions), Psychosis Crawler, Electrostatic Field or Guttersnipe. We’ve also included token generators like Talrand, Young Pyromancer and the new Murmering Mystic so you have some blockers but if you go off enough you might be able to end a game with them too.

Wheels + Pings:

I’ve included a comprehensive package of wheels, minus the original Wheel of Fortune because it’s super expensive. Most of these will target opponents too, so that you can disrupt their gameplan. Teferi’s Puzzle Box is probably the most fun, particularly if you can get a few of your creatures out that will ping for damage each turn.


I didn’t want to put a ton of recursion into the deck as we mostly want to sling spells, but we’re able to get some extra value by recurring them, so here’s a few ways to do so. Why not get an extra use out of a wheel or copy another spell?

Ways to win:

Besides wanting to wheel and ping everyone to death naturally throughout the game, we have a few finishers here to seal the deal. Because wheels can self mill you to death, I’ve included Laboratory Maniac as a fail safe. I’ve also included the Isochron Scepter/Dramatic Reversal combo and a suite of rocks that will help it go off. Paradox Engine can help with this as well, since it will untap things as you are casting all of those cheap spells. If you can generate the infinite mana, you can use Blue Sun’s Zenith or Stroke of Genius to cause an opponent to draw their library. Alternatively, you can use Pull From Tomorrow to finish off your own library with Lab Man on the board. Comet Storm will allow you to kill everyone at once give infinite mana. Omniscience is there just to make casting easier for when you get your wheels in motion, and a kicked Rite of Replication targeting Psychosis Crawler or any of the token generators should help seal a game.

Other tools:

Otherwise we have some nice tools that are on color. Consecrated Sphinx gets you more card draw, Chaos Warp is good removal, and Propaganda will help to protect you in early game skirmishes. I’ve also included nearly all of the mana rocks that can be sacrificed for card draw, which may or may not come in handy but I believe that it will. Overall I think it looks like a solid deck and though it is similar to Locust God, it wants to win in different ways, and I like that. I’ll report back after the Prerelease on my performance and lucky pulls! Til then!

State of the Game: Projects

Over the weekend I was able to get some gaming time in, and as regular readers will note, I jump around between titles pretty regularly. Sometimes I’ll try something out and it won’t stick, but I’ll jot down my thoughts and move on. Other times I have a bunch of games I’m interested in playing at the same time, so I’ll spend a little time here and a little time there. Recently, the games I’ve been focused on are Destiny 2, Fallout 4 (DLCs), ESO, and Burnout Paradise Remastered. There are a few other games I’ve been tinkering around with, but these are the four I’m focusing on talking about today. So let’s dive in.

Destiny 2:

I realize that I started playing this game a year after everyone else, and I realize that the only reason I’m now playing it is because it was offered for free. Still, I honestly can’t figure out why it was so universally panned when it came out. I know there were plenty of people who were still playing it regardless of the negativity, but when it comes down to it, in its current state it doesn’t feel any different than the original game. Truth be told, I didn’t delve too deeply into the first game. I had one max level character and finished up the main story plus DLC stories but I didn’t do every single quest, I didn’t play crucible and I didn’t raid. So probably I don’t know what I’m talking about.

With that said, it’s still a great game. There’s something about melding first person shooter gameplay with RPG elements. I absolutely love this style of game and I should have just picked this up way back when. I’m glad I didn’t have to pay money to play it, but I am looking forward to getting through the rest of the game and picking up the DLCs as I go along. Here’s hoping that they stretch this one out for years instead of making another numbered entry. It appears their gameplan going forward is to add at least two more DLC in the next year so perhaps there will be reason to keep playing.

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In my past couple of sessions my best friend and I have leveled up to 10, and have a light rating of a little over 100. I’ve managed to grab a few blue pieces of gear along the way, and we’ve completed the main story up until rescuing Cayde and being pointed in the direction of Io. At this point there was a level gate (we were 9 at the time) so we pushed on by doing some adventures and public quests. We had been pretty much ignoring much of the side content in favor of completing the storyline, but at this point it appears that perhaps we should do a bit of everything just to make sure we’re ready for the next bit of DLC once the original main story wraps up. It’s been a blast and I find myself wanting to play more often than he is available, so I may start leveling up a Warlock on the side. We’ll see how time permits.


Due to trying to play too many games at once, my time with ESO has been sporadic. During my last session I decided to try out some PvP battlegrounds, and like my experience with Destiny 2, it sucked. I’m not nearly a high enough level or geared well enough to hang with the groups I was being matched up against. It looked like it has the potential to be a blast but I’m not there yet. So I ended up running around doing more quests and it’s been fun.

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I honestly don’t really know what I’m doing most of the time save for running around following quest markers and killing shit. I guess that’s par for the course. This seems to be the same in most MMOs, so here we go. I’m more invested in other storylines at this point in time and my memory isn’t what it used to be so I tend to just take in the sights and mosey around at my own snail’s pace. Not having a subscription to this point has made it more appealing because I’m not wasting time and can play as I see fit. Perhaps once I get nearer to the end of the original game’s content I’ll think about subscribing to see more of what’s been added in my absence.

Far Harbor:

Fallout 76 comes out in a month and a half. My goal was to finish off the Fallout 4 DLC before that happened, because I know once there’s a new Fallout game I’m not going to bother with the predecessor any longer. The last time I had played I killed off a rather large Mirelurk queen as part of a side quest, and I went back to Far Harbor to turn in all the quests I had completed during that session.

During my session over the weekend, I ended up with a journal full of more side quests from those citizens, as one of the quests that I completed had the city’s leader backing me, something not easily done with “mainlanders” such as myself. I completed a couple more, when a robot appeared outside of town looking for a detective (me). I followed her to a hotel that contains an underground vault, where a murder was committed and hence why I was sent for. Upon entering, we find that all of the people inside are no longer people, and are actually “robo-brains.” This means their human brain has been transplanted onto a robot’s body. Immortal as they are now, they’re still very much able to be killed, as is evident from the crime scene I’m asked to investigate. This questline bugged out on me several times, but in the end I found out that the killer was actually masquerading as one of the other residents having killed her himself. Basically she found out about something he didn’t want anyone else to know about so he killed her then took on her identity. I also found a dead overseer in a vault-tec suit, who’s journal entries were quite hilarious (you can read those above). I have no idea how much more it’s going to take to complete Far Harbor, and there’s still Nuka World after that, but hopefully before Fallout 76 hits shelves.

Burnout Paradise:

I don’t have too much to say about Burnout Paradise, I’ve played a few more times since my initial post, and it’s been a blast. It’s truly a fun game and something I can do that takes very little brain power, so on nights when I don’t feel like diving into something with more depth, it’s relaxing to cruise around this beautiful little world. The trophies come in droves though, as evidenced by this round of screenshots:

If you were ever a fan of arcade style racers, definitely give this one a try. That’s all I have for this time. Happy gaming everyone!

Thoughts on Zeal (Early Access)

At some point or another, I saw Zeal turn up in my discovery queue on Steam. A game that wasn’t really available yet, it had a store front that advertised the type of game it was aiming to be, while still being unavailable for download. There were instructions to go to another website to sign up to test the game, but I didn’t bother. Instead, I followed the game because it did appeal to me in some ways, and this week it was finally made available for download via Steam Early Access. While it claims to be an “Action-RPG”, really Zeal is a game that is aiming to be like WoW‘s PvP arena, in that you control a character in 3rd person, it comes pre-designed and pre-loaded with spells/abilities (with a small amount of customization available) and you use said abilities to kill your opponents. Currently the game is in a “pre-alpha demo” state, but I have seen consistent updates by the developer since I’ve been following the game.

Apparently the team is made of three people, and with that said it’s not a terrible looking game. There are some janky animations and latency is definitely a problem, but it looks okay and keeps things fairly simple as far as depth goes. It appears that next month they are aiming to do a Kickstarter to fund the game, and given that success it might actually blossom into something great. However, in its limited form I have some concerns alongside the hope for it to be fully realized.

This demo provides an “Arena Mode” along with seven classes for your testing pleasure. I find that the standard RPG classes that you’d expect are here, and clearly they have plans to add a handful more. Of the seven on offer I have tried the Outlaw (think Rogue), Ranger and Warrior. Each performs as you would expect, with the Warrior leaping into battle and spinning around with axes, to the Outlaw stealthing and pulling some shenanigans on the battlefield. Despite that each basically looks the part, they all handle nearly identically, the animations are fairly basic and the spells/abilities don’t really feel that fleshed out yet. It seems to degrade into a bit of a button spamming mess, but I supposed PvP in most MMOs is sort that way too. Some abilities are skill shots, and yet it doesn’t have that tactical/twitchy gameplay you’d expect in a MOBA, though they are clearly pulling influences from both genres.

After selecting your character, you can head to the training grounds to customize your build and take out some aggression on training dummies. This is nice to gain your bearings but doesn’t prepare you for PvP in the slightest. That said, PvP was a bit difficult to find.

There are several servers set up, and though the closest one to me is in the same state, I had wildly fluctuating ping last night. I did see people playing though, but it was a bit late and I didn’t want to jump into that so I waited until this morning to try a PvP match. There were exactly zero people playing on that server, so I opted to try out the game in a bot match. I played plenty of these back when I was a budding MOBA player, so I expected it to be decent. Eh… not so much. I managed to win in a 3v3 bot match, but had a stalemate in a 2v2. As I said earlier, each character feels too samey, so unless you play the Cleric, Witch, or Wizard you’re just going to be running around chasing bots/players trying to spam your abilities and do some damage. The other classes I just mentioned will either focus on healing or will try to hang back to do damage. I had the best feeling playing on the Warrior because I could leap to runners and finish them off with a killing blow. Overall, I see potential with the title. There needs to be some work done on the animations and look of the characters, but the world looks pretty nice. The abilities need better effects and to be more fleshed out, but this is pre-alpha so I guess all of this is to be expected. I’ve seen worst “finished” games so there’s that. I’m going to keep an eye on this one, but I have a feeling if the Kickstarter doesn’t go off (which would mean a bunch of people would need to try this on Steam for free and feel good about backing it) that this title doesn’t see the finish line. Time will tell.

By the Numbers: Week 4, 2018

Well, week 3 didn’t go as I would have liked for my Green Bay Packers. This emphasis on roughing the passer has got to change as well… it’s simply ridiculous the momentum change it has on any game. When your team can’t tackle as they are taught to, it really takes the steam out of things. There were some missed opportunities sure, Randall Cobb dropped a couple balls, one on a critical 4th down. The refs gave Washington a touchdown that was clearly stopped at the goal line, and there were a bunch of pass interception calls that I don’t think were really necessary. All in all, Washington played better, but I think if you take away even half of those penalties we would have still be in it. Mr. Matthews himself had some things to say about it. First, here’s his 3rd roughing the passer of the season:

Yeah. I’m not seeing it. Here’s what he said after the game:

I tend to agree, and I’ve never been overly critical of the NFL and its policies that change more often than I change my underwear. But this has already cost us a game (well, a tie) and now hurt us in a consecutive game. I’m over it. Let’s see how I did with my picks for last week:

Jets 21, Browns 13
Saints 27, Falcons 21 – Correct
Packers 28, Redskins 10
Eagles 20, Colts 14 – Correct
Vikings 32, Bills 10
Raiders 20, Dolphins 17
Ravens 24, Broncos 20 – Correct
Bengals 17, Panthers 13
Giants 14, Texans 6 – Correct
Jags 21, Titans 20
Chiefs 27, 49ers 10 – Correct
Rams 30, Chargers 20 – Correct
Cowboys 14, Seahawks 13
Bears 23, Cardinals 16 – Correct
Patriots 30, Lions 10
Buccs 27, Steelers 10

Ouch. 7/9. Still not getting the majority right. That brings me to 27/30 on the season. Hopefully I can do better with week 4’s selections. Here we go:

Rams 30, Vikings 14
Jags 20, Jets 10
Dolphins 27, Patriots 20
Eagles 24, Titans 10
Colts 21, Texans 7
Packers 27, Bills 13
Lions 20, Cowboys 16
Buccs 27, Bears 21
Bengals 28, Falcons 27
Seahawks 17, Cardinals 13
Raiders 23, Browns 17
Saints 31, Giants 17
Chargers 20, 49ers 10
Ravens 30, Steelers 28
Chiefs 28, Broncos 21

I can hope that the Bills used up all their mojo in beating the Vikings last week, and hopefully that means we can come out on top.

The War Report: Lazav Toolbox

As is the norm around here, when a new set for Magic: The Gathering comes out I try to be on top of spoilers and in turn, brews that can come up with those new sets. There are several new legendary creatures coming with Guilds of Ravnica, and one of those immediately stood out as something that I knew I’d want to build around. I own a copy of the original Lazav, who came out in Guildpact (I think?) and he was always a character I enjoyed the look of. He definitely does Dimir things, in that he can copy creatures that are headed to opponent’s graveyards and become them, whether they are a lowly 1/1 or a massive Eldrazi. He also had hexproof, so getting rid of him was tricky. The new version of Lazav is a similar design, but also a bit different. Take a look:

A 1/3 body for two mana (Dimir). I like where this is going. His ETB makes use of the new keyword, Surveil, which allows you to look at the top card of your library and then either put it back or put it into your graveyard. His activated ability costs X, which is equal to the CMC of the creature in your own graveyard that is copied, and he gets all the cards characteristics, from P/T to it’s rules text, along with remaining a legendary creature and it keeps Lazav’s ability, so you can copy something else at any time. There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break things down into what we should focus on when building a Lazav, the Multifarious deck.

  • Graveyard matters. Surveil is a great tool for getting cards into your graveyard.
  • Looting. There are a bunch of great cards in blue that allow us to draw cards and then discard cards, filling our hand and our graveyard simultaneously.
  • Targets. We want things that Lazav will benefit from copying, but also that aren’t too expensive, as our goal is to throw things into the yard and then copy them with Lazav.
  • Tutors. Not in the traditional sense, we want the cards that throw things into our graveyard.
  • Recursion. When you’re focused on filling your yard with cards, we’ll also want to bring some of them back, and there’s plenty of ways to do this.

So these are our subthemes. Let’s take a look at what I’ve included in my initial build:


Besides Lazav himself, these cards all have the Surveil keyword and should compliment the rest of the deck’s build. Doom Whisperer is a great body along with a self-milling machine. You should be able to churn through to find what you want rather quickly with him. Enhanced Surveillance will also help as it lets you look at two additional cards when you surveil. Mission Briefing is some recursion along with having the keyword, and Notion Rain surveils and draws you some cards at the same time. Nightveil Sprite surveils on combat trigger, and can easily be copied if you want Lazav to get some extra surveillance in. Lastly, though he doesn’t have the keyword, Taigam basically does the same thing, getting you a card to your hand and two in the graveyard each upkeep. Next up, other loot cards that will synergize to help fill our graveyard.


There are a ton of options when it comes to looting, which is a term to describe mostly symmetrical draw/discard cards. From creatures like Looter il-Kor to Wharf Infiltrator, they’ll get you a card and you can discard something juicy for Lazav to target in the graveyard. Windfall and Jace’s Archivist will dump your hand, the table’s hand and you get to draw a bunch of cards. Ancient Excavation will do the same to just you. Generally, these cards will help you to churn through your library to get the cards you want into the graveyard.


There are only three tutors here, and they are Demonic, Vampiric, or Mystical. The reason being is that we don’t really want to cast most of these cards from hand, particularly the high CMC ones. We want to target creatures from our library and dump them into the yard for Lazav to copy. Entomb and Buried Alive work best, but Dimir House Guard can be transmuted to pull out a couple of our creatures as well.


Recursion is pretty straightforward in this deck. Oversold Cemetery and Sheoldred will get you a creature back each turn. Whisper and the Doomed Necromancer require sacrifice to recur, and the other spells can help you get cards back in a variety of ways. These are best used when a creature has an ETB that you can exploit over and over like Ravenous Chupacabra or Fleshbag Marauder. Also a nice way to get something back someone used a spell to remove.

Select Targets:

A cool thing to note when using Lazav’s ability: when a card reads “when ____ enters the battlefield” or “when ____ comes into play” you don’t have to resolve those effects. Lazav is copying something, and thereby not entering the battlefield, so you can avoid some nasty side effects and get big creatures on the cheap as long as he copies them from the graveyard. So cards like Leveler, Hunted Horror, Hunted Phantasm, Eater of days, and Nyxathid don’t have any downside despite being big creatures and costing a small CMC. You can also target the Vector Asp to get its ability to have infect, Invisible Stalker to gain hexproof and unblockable, etc. Keep in mind, you can copy an unblockable ability, then after the declare blockers step, copy a bigger creature and still get in unblocked. It’s a nice trick.

One Win Con:

Besides poking people down with commander damage or infect, here’s a pretty solid win-con. You need Necrotic Ooze to either be on the battlefield or copy it with Lazav. It/he then gains all activated abilities of all creatures in all graveyards. Then, you’ll want Bloodline Keeper and Grimgrin in the graveyard so that you can activate BK’s tap ability to create a vampire token. You can then activate Grimgrin’s sac outlet to sacrifice the token, untapping the Ooze/Lazav and gaining a +1/+1 counter. You can literally do this infinite times, then copy an unblockable effect and boom. Game over.

There are some other odds and ends I didn’t discuss here, but you can check out the full deck list over here.