The War Report: Budget Standard to EDH Update

In a couple of weeks I’m moving and that means my budget is going to change. With increased outgo, sacrifices need to be made elsewhere. As such, I won’t be able to spend my hard-earned dollars on Magic cards quite as much as I have in the past almost-year since my return to the game. With this in mind, I’ve started to think of ways that I can still buy cards, but do so on a more restrictive budget. I used to make pretty decent decks back when I was in high school on an even more restrictive budget, so I think I can make this work! Three strategies I’ve come up with is to build decks piece by piece rather than all at once, to buy precons and spend minimally on upgrades for those (which I’ll be doing this month as my sole hurrah with Vampiric Bloodlust) or to take an existing Standard deck I built in the past and turn it into an EDH deck. That’s what I want to talk about with my latest brew, an update to my Standard Werewolves deck!

We’re Wolves

It just so happens that I had made purchases to get basically the best standard legal Werewolves for this deck, but because of the limitations of standard, the deck still had commons and uncommons and just didn’t do much when I played it. With the vast availability of cards through the ages in EDH, it turns out that there are some really good Werewolf, Wolf, and trickery options that make this deck feel like it could actually work despite being a little complex. There are a couple of commanders people use in Werewolf decks according to EDHREC, but I already owned Ulrich, and he feels perfect as a commander, getting some ETB effects and being completely thematic. Most of my creatures end up being Werewolves, but there is a share of regular wolves along with a sprinkling of creatures that have neat interactions. I tried to use only creatures that would stay on theme but also provide passive effects. I also have a thematic Planeswalker that I had in my standard deck that looks like fun. Here’s a sampling:

Each of these creatures somehow benefits the others, or creates wolf tokens which in turn benefit me in various ways. There are more interesting interactions when adding in the enchantments, artifacts and spells, but the main goal is to try and keep my werewolves transformed, and to buff creatures that are on the field. Win cons have to do with being semi-aggro and going wide. Check out the utility selection:

As I said, I want to go wide with this deck, and cards like overrun, overwhelming stampeded and coat of arms help me do so. This means my cards will be buffed and if I have enough wolf tokens out on top of a couple werewolves I should be able to get in for some good if not lethal damage. The other subtheme that I’m going for is a sort of control, having cards like Grafdigger’s Cage and Stranglehold in the deck, which keep opponents from casting from the graveyard or library, keeps them from searching for cards, and generally makes things annoying while I attempt to control the board state and then go wide. Will this work reliably? It might, it might not but it looks good on paper. I added in some targeted removal and the best dual lands I had on hand, and it turns out that I have about 60% of the deck already on hand. This means it will cost me a minimal amount to finish off, and that’s what I am going for with my upcoming budget changes. You can check out the full list here.

The War Report: Standard Legal Life Gain Deck


I’ve come to a conclusion. Out of the few decks that I’ve created from scratch, there is one that has risen to the top. I’ve shared a couple of my original decks in this column before, but those were merely ideas, and in some cases they worked (the Werewolf deck is gimmicky but fun) and others they didn’t (the Trinketeer idea was turned into a 3-color deck and hasn’t been tested much). I never shared the deck I want to talk about today, mainly because it was the first one that I put together, and it has seen many revisions. At this point I consider it done, and it has been the deck I’ve had the most success with by far. Despite being a deck originally based around the Aetherflux Reservoir artifact card, it seemed that utilizing that as a win condition was simply not working. However, since I had built around life gain to trigger the ability of the artifact (pay 50 life, deal 50 damage to target player), I already had a good base down. After some research into existing standard legal cards, I found other win conditions and tweaked the deck to the point where it can stand up to even some Modern and Vintage decks that my friends occasionally play with. For this, I am proud. First, let’s get into the card list:

Black/White Life Gain Deck


x1 Sorin, Grim Nemesis (Planeswalker)

This is basically win condition #1. Sorin is a fantastic Planeswalker, fits perfectly with the life gain theme, and has a fantastic ultimate, where subtracting 9 loyalty tokens allows you to play X 1/1 tokens with lifelink where X is equal to your life total. I used this ability once to spawn 36 1/1’s. Fantastic. He does cost a bit of mana so he’s definitely a late game play, which is why I’ve added plenty of control and sustain through various means so you can get there.

x1 Kambal, Consul of Allocation

This card is so good I’ve actually swapped it back and forth between this deck and my Black/White commander deck. In commander it’s even more beneficial, but it still does its job in standard games. Being able to do damage and gain life every time your opponent casts a spell is amazing. If nothing else, it usually gets some form of removal out of your opponents hands.

x2 Angel of Invention

One of my favorite Kaladesh cards, the Angel of Invention is a white weenie, but packs a nice punch. I have never created servos with it, always spawn it as a 4/3, but it has flying, vigilance, lifelink and buffs all of my other creatures. It almost always gets destroyed, but has also helped me win games. I just wish it was a 4/4, but I suppose that would be too powerful.

x2 Restoration Gearsmith

The Gearsmith is a nifty tool to get some of your more powerful (or situational) creatures back onto the battlefield.

x2 Cliffhaven Vampire

This card was added mainly because it fit my devotion (black/white) but is a healthy flying threat. It will also ping opponets every time one of my other life gain sources triggers. This deck is all about sustain and whittling the opponent down.

x4 Aerial Responder
If you are playing any standard legal deck and are using white, I don’t see how you couldn’t add this card into your deck. For 3 mana it is such a good card. I’ve included 4 in the deck because it usually draws hate, but typically gets in a swing or two netting some lifegain. It’s one of the most important pieces in the deck.

x4 Fairgrounds Warden

This card has been in from the start, but I had to collect four of them as I went along. At 3 mana for a 1/3 body and the exile trigger, it’s a great card. Excellent for early control, or to get rid of late game big bads. I ran Panharmonicon in this deck for a time just to get double triggers, but eventually took it out in favor of other cards.

x2 Lone Rider/It That Rides as One
lone-rider it

What a fantastic find. This was the type of creature I didn’t pay much attention to until I started searching for lifelink options for the deck. A 1/1 for 2 mana isn’t great, but it having first strike and lifelink means you’ll either get at your opponent for 1 and gain 1, or you’ll be first striking other 1 toughness creatures and staying alive. The real kicker is that I have so many ways to gain life it’s almost impossible to not trigger the transformation effect, which then adds 3/3 to the body and the trample ability to the creature. It’s best played when you can drop him and gain life during your turn so he transforms at the end of your turn. Great card.

x2 Night Market Lookout

Finding the right mana curve for your deck is crucial. After having run some rather expensive cards, I started toning it down and finally found a good mixture of mana efficient cards that still fit the theme of the deck. This common is rather good, because each time you attack, you hit for 1 along with doing 1 extra damage and giving you a life. Even if you tap the creature to fuel something else (which I don’t believe I have the option to do, but a good example would be a vehicle) the effect still triggers. It’s a nice little drop for 1 mana.

x2 Vampire Cutthroat

The cutthroat is another creature that serves the same purpose as the lookout. 1 mana, 1/1 but has lifelink and skulk. Skulk is nice just because nothing but another 1/1 can block it, so it’s basically free life and damage to your opponent every turn.

x2 Gifted Aetherborn

One of the only new cards I recently added from Aether Revolt, this creature is nice. 2 mana for a 2/3 body, deathtouch and lifelink. Essentially, this guy either gets through and gives you 2 life while doing 2 damage, or your opponent blocks it and their creature dies no matter what life total they have. It’s a cheap win win, and I’m sure you’re starting to see the synergy by now.

x1 Cataclysmic Gearhulk

I’ve only artifacts that are creatures in the deck, so I’ll include those here. The Cataclysmic Gearhulk is one of the mythic artifacts from Kaladesh. There are five, one of each color. This one is a 4/5 with vigilance, but also a semi-board clear when he comes into play. The players get to keep stuff, but if they have multiple stuffs, some stuff is going bye bye. It’s not great but suits its purpose.

x1 Noxious Gearhulk

By far the better of the two gearhulks in the deck, the Noxious (black) version is a 5/4 with menace, and destroys a creature when it hits the board. Then there’s some lifegain to boot, so it’s a very good card. Triggering this twice with a Panharmonicon was fun.

x4 Filigree Familiar

Cheap and effective. A 2/2 isn’t great, but lifegain plus drawing a card when it’s dead is a great deal. Let’s move on to spells.


x2 Authority of the Consuls

Definitely not the most amazing card, but I love the synergy and how well it slows down aggro decks. Plus, not everyone packs a bunch of enchantment hate, so it’s possible to drop this on turn one and slow the game down indefinitely. Bonus: more life gain!

x2 Skywhaler’s Shot

Some instant removal, and a bonus scry. Not too expensive, but limits you to killing bigger foes. Probably best used that way anyway, so not really a limitation.

x4 Decommission

A nice recent addition via Aether Revolt, Decommission is artifact and enchantment removal rolled into one. It also has the revolt trigger that gets you some life as well.

x2 Diabolic Tutor

Sometimes you need a particular card. In this case, you can pay some mana and get that card (and sometimes that shuffle will help out your topdecking to boot). I typically save this to grab Sorin or a Fumigate from my library, but have used it for other less powerful cards as well. Situational, but handy.

x2 Fumigate

The best board clear white has at the moment from what I know. Expensive, but clears out those pesky creatures and gives you some life. It does kill your own creatures, but sometimes that’s the best move. You’ll get life for your own minions as well, so it takes a bit of the sting out of it.


x1 Concealed Courtyard
x1 Warped Landscape
x2 Forsaken Sanctuary
x8 Plains
x8 Swamp

I’ve added a couple dual lands, 1 warped landscape to search for a land, and the regular swamp/plains for mana sources. Overall this deck has performed really well for me. I’m not sure how it would do in a more competitive environment, but let me know what you think if you try it out!

The War Report: Aether Revolt


What’s up everyone? It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my recent obsession with Magic: The Gathering, which is really an old obsession that was revitalized in the last few months. The reason I haven’t had much to report is because I wasn’t playing the game quite as much. I built 5 decks that were standard legal, and had honed those down mostly to where I wanted them, just to realize that in a month the new set to finish of the Kaladesh block, Aether Revolt, would be releasing. At that point my friends and I sort of said that we would just wait for that day and then get back into it.

Yesterday was the release of the new set. Aether Revolt builds upon the ideas presented in Kaladesh. That set was very Artifact focused, along with adding in Vehicles and the mechanics Fabricate and Energy to an already complicated game. AR brings two new mechanics called Improvise and Revolt. Improvise is more artifact love, because artifacts on the battlefield can be used to pay for the casting cost of cards with that mechanic listed on them. So, if I have a card with a casting cost of 1 blue & 6 colorless, I must have an island to play the blue cost, but could theoretically use 6 artifacts to cover the colorless casting cost, and keep other mana around for other uses. It’s a neat trick and I’ve had some success building around it. Revolt is a new bounce mechanic, in that if you have any sort of cards that can bounce something, or if you have anything on the battle field die or otherwise enter the gave yard, the new card with Revolt on it will get counters. Basically, if you have a bounce (target card leaves the battlefield and then reenters the battlefield) you can play that, then play a card with revolt and it will get +1/+1 or +2/+2 (whatever it says on the card). It’s not something I’ve used yet but I have some ideas how it could work. Apparently a new white creature card in conjunction with one of the Planeswalkers I have from Kaladesh has created a new infinite combo that will win you the game. I plan to try that out.

After work yesterday I drove out to a local card shop and picked up a Booster box for the set. 36 packs, and a 1 in 4 chance to snag an invention, which are the super rare cards from this block. I didn’t get one, but I was happy with what I pulled out of the deck. When all was said and done I amassed a handful of Mythic Rares, a ton of regular rares and some decent uncommons. Even some of the commons this time around are pretty good. We also decided to have our own mini-tournament, which we played in Limited (sealed deck) format. This is the thing that happens when you go play at a pre-release event or a Friday Night Magic tournament. My friends have gone to this, I have yet to do so. I’d like to do pre-release stuff for the next set later this year.

Anyway, we all bought some cards last night, and we decided to roll with 6 packs each. We open those packs, and then make a deck of 40 cards, then played best of 3’s against each other. Next thing I knew it was 2 in the morning, but hey, it was fun. I ended up doing fairly well, despite having zero experience with this format. I beat one of my friends 2-0, then he played my other friend and lost 2-1, and I played the same friend losing 2-1 as well. He took the cake as he usually does, but it was fun all around. I feel like I have a good grasp of the mechanics of the set, and I’m looking forward to upgrading my constructed decks and making some new ones. My interest has been revitalized, and I’m thankful that new sets come at a time when your interest starts to wane.

So I’m sure I’ll have some new deckbuilding ideas and more reports from the field to share with you guys soon. Until then, happy gaming, where ever you find yourselves!

State of the Game: Fall Edition


Been a while since I did a round up. It’s also been a while since I’ve talked video games around here. Yeah, Football season means I make my By the Numbers posts, but I know very little people who are all that interested in those. I keep doing em to chronicle my view points of the games and circumstances. Helps me to remember details as well. It’s been my blog for almost 12 years now, so why should I stop writing shit that nobody cares about? Indeed, I shall carry on with the frivolity.

The big changes this time around are that I’ve been spending most of my free time with my girlfriend, or playing Magic with my buddy. I suppose the girlfriend part isn’t much of a surprise because I’ve mentioned that a time or two.

I guess the part about playing Magic isn’t that surprising either, since I’ve made a few posts on the subject already. I have also done more playtesting as evidenced above, where I have made some additional tweaks to my White/Black deck, and have a package (that was supposed to arrive today but didn’t) coming with some finishing touches for a Black/Blue Zombie deck that I think is going to be a ton of fun to play. The other night when I took the above photo, my friend and I played a few rounds with some of his very ancient decks and that was a blast from the past. A bunch of cards I hadn’t seen since my high school days were present. Really makes me miss the cards I used to have, but I’m hoping to get a chunk of that collection back when I go visit family over Thanksgiving. Apparently one of my friends whom I used to play with says he has some of my cards in a box in his garage, and said I could come pick them up, and I intend to do just that. Plus it will be a nice excuse to see him as well. So rest assured, The War Report will be an ongoing series. I have more playtest reports, more deckbuilding to do, and in a few short months the latter portion of the Kaladesh block will release so there will be more theorycrafting to do. I can’t wait.

Moving on, back to the video game front. I cancelled my subscription to World of Warcraft. Yeah, it’s silly that I bought the game in the first place. The hype train for Legion took off, I jumped on board and thought I’d give it a go, and after some disappointment with my inability to just jump right in with a level 100 boosted character, I rolled some alts and started leveling. I was subbed for 3 months and managed to get one character to 40, along with getting my artifact weapons on the boosted toon. These MMOs just don’t grab me like they used to, despite my repeated attempts. Shit, I still need to play Destiny… I’ve had that for months. So I’m basically back in a holding pattern waiting for Crowfall and trying to work on some of this backlog that is ever-present and always haunting me. These are the fickle waves that I go through, and well, sorry not sorry.

I’m still playing SMITE almost daily. I have nearly 30 Gods mastered. I’ve chosen Loki to be the God I take to Mastery level 10. I’ve been experimenting with the other game modes as well. For a time, my friend and I would only play Arena and Joust. I started playing Assault regularly enough to get the trophy for 25 matches played. The Odyssey quests drove me to play a few rounds of Clash and I’ve grown to love it. I also played in a rare group of 4, where my friend had another friend who had another friend and we played some Siege, which is a 4v4 game mode. That was a blast, and makes me wish I knew more folks who played the game on PS4. If you do, I’m Built4Sin82… send me a friend request and a message!

I didn’t pick up Civilization VI on its release date, but I was paid the following week and then picked it up. The first day I played some multiplayer with a friend (and a friend of his) and that was fun but I wasn’t able to play for very long. I ended up starting my own game, playing as America and going for a (typical) domination victory. So far I’ve gone near 500 turns and have wiped a couple of Civs off of the map but there’s still a long road ahead. I laugh as the enemy civs strive for more culture or convert my cities to their religions over and over again, when none of those efforts count for anything. Ha! Then I systematically destroy them and their ancient military technology! I have a ton of screens and more that I want to share I just haven’t had a spare moment to start a write up. That will be here eventually.

Lastly, I was gifted a copy of Shadow Warrior 2 for my birthday last week, and though I haven’t played much yet, I can report that it is very much a direct sequel to the original remake. Does that make sense? So the original was by 3D Realms, creators of Duke Nukem. It came out during that era and played pretty much the same. The remake came out a couple of years ago, and I shared a bunch of my experience via the blog. In October, the sequel to the remake came out. This is the game I’m speaking of. Is that more clear? Anyway, the game looks great, runs smooth (and defaults to ultra if you have a decent rig) and plays similarly to the last one. There are some UI changes that are interesting, and a loot system of sorts where instead of just getting upgrades to your basic weapons, you find new versions of the weapons. For instance, I picked up a sweet sort-of lightsaber that also shoots energy beams within my first hour of play. It’s pretty awesome. And of course, there’s the signature Lo Wang shit talking throughout. This game speaks to me. If you like story based shooters, you’ll probably enjoy it.

That’s all I have for now. Happy gaming, where ever you find yourself.

The War Report: Playtesting


This past weekend I managed to get some more games in with my friend, and did some serious playtesting. Not only did I find that the improvements to my deck were working wonders, I also found that it seemed that I could make a few more tweaks. The Aetherflux resevoir that I built this entire deck around wasn’t helping. He plays some pretty fast decks, so it was seeming that getting a life total of 50+ was going to be near impossible. That also meant scratching that other card I had thought about adding, mainly because its win condition of 40 life wasn’t going to be all that achieveable either. I also wanted to get copies of some of the singles I had, along with removing some of the cards that sounded cool but weren’t really doing all that much for me (like Angels).

I played two best of threes against my buddy, and used this White/Black deck the whole time. I easily destroyed his Blue/Green deck but that is his less powerful one. His deck that gave me the most trouble before, the Red/Black is fast, but my deck has enough sustain and slow down potential that it actually counters his aggro style. I managed to win that best of three as well. He was a little on the butthurt side, because he had played that deck against other friends and always won. Just goes to show that nearly anything can be countered given the time and resources. I’m also glad that it works against multiple types of decks.

Some additional tweaks have been made since. I’ve made sure that every card now either has some form of life gain, control or allows me to bring units back from the dead. I also managed to find more singles that fall in line with this deck though I wanted to buy another Angel of Invention and those are out of stock right now at Troll and Toad — very unfortunate. Here’s how my deck stands now (changes in bold):

x2 Forsaken Sanctuary
x1 Unknown Shores
x1 Crumbling Vestige
x1 Blighted Steppe
x1 Warped Landscape
x8 Plains
x8 Swamp +1

x4 Aerial Responder +1
x4 Fairgrounds Warden +1
x2 Zulaport Cutthroat
x2 Restoration Gearsmith
x2 Lone Rider
x1 Demon of Dark Schemes
x1 Sengir Vampire
x2 Night Market Lookout +1
x1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
x1 Kambal, Consul of Allocation
x1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
x1 Thalia’s Lancers
x1 Sujugator Angel
x1 Angel of Invention
x1 Aegis Angel
x1 Serra Angel

x1 Aetherflux Reservoir
x2 Scrapheap Scrounger
x2 Prakhata Pillar-Bug
x1 Noxious Gearhulk
x4 Filigree Familiar

x2 Diabolic Tutor
x2 Shamble Back
x3 Fumigate +1
x2 Skywhaler’s Shot
x2 Authority of the Consuls
x3 Fortuitous Find +2
x1 Campaign of Vengeance
x1 Collective Effort
x1 Gideon’s Reproach

I’ve maintained the same sort of theme, but removed cards that wouldn’t give me some sort of life, and added a few that would. Many of the changes were for cards I already had in my stash, but I did spend another $10 on Troll and Toad for singles. I still want to add another Angel of Invention to the deck, and will as soon as one becomes available.

The next project is making more decks, and then attempting to do this process of elimination over again. I have a Red/Blue that is focusing on artifacts and control/burn spells. I also have a mono-Black zombie deck in the works. Trying to decide what to do with Green, as I have a planeswalker there, but don’t know if I want to do mono or dual colored. More to come as that happens. Thanks for reading!